The new marvel TV series Moon Knight is in my opinion addictive viewing, the central character is somewhat different from most of the characters that frequent the Marvel line up. The series too is a little different, as it deals with several issues.
It is a series that follows Steven Grant, a mild- rather mild tempered and at times jittery gift-shop employee in a London Museum, who becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life.
Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. As Steven and Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt.
When I watched the first episode, I was impressed but at the same time was not certain whether I would like it as in religiously following the series, I hold my hands up and say that I cannot wait now for Wednesday nights in the UK when new episodes are screened on Disney Plus.
The central roles are well Portrayed with convincing performances from Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, and May Calamawy. It’s a slick and fast-moving series and has already established itself as a favourite with Marvel devotees.
The musical score is also an impressive component within the series containing mystical and powerful compositions, that are full on action led pieces for most of the time, but also have to them rich and enticing thematic properties, as well as dark and apprehensive passages.
The incredible musical score is the work of Egyptian born composer Hesham Nazih, who has created a soundtrack that is filled with captivating melodies and thundering and fast propelled cues that underline, support, and punctuate the proceedings throughout.
The composers use of rasping brass, pounding percussion, and driving strings are combined with a scattering of electronic elements and then fused with ethnic sounding instrumentation and imposing choral performances to yield a stunning, compulsive, and interesting listen.
This is a series that deserves to be given a big screen outing and a composer who I hope will be working on many more TV series and movies in the not-too-distant future. This is a score that will I know become a favourite with many and is a wonderfully commanding work. Moon Knight has risen… Highly recommended.
Composer, conductor Charles Gross, was born on 13th May 1934 in Boston Massachusetts, he was educated at Harvard University, the New England Conservatory and Mills college. Gross who is now 87 years of age resides in New York City in the USA. He was a student of Darius Milhaud and was also the main arranger for the Westpoint Band for over three years. After serving in the US army Gross became a composer and wrote music for Industrial movies and animated films.
In 1976, He wrote original music for the Broadway production Eccentricities of a Nightingale. He has composed the music for a wide range of genres and provided themes and scores for motion pictures and TV shows.
One of his most accomplished soundtracks was for the 1971 western Valdez Is Coming which starred Burt Lancaster. In which Lancaster portrayed an ageing town constable Bob Valdez, who is forced to kill someone accused by a wealthy landowner Frank Tanner of being a murderer. It transpires that the man is innocent and his wife a native American is left to fend for herself.
Valdez is an honourable man and feels bad about killing her husband, so he asks Tanner for monetary help for the man’s wife, but he is ridiculed and almost killed by Tanner’s henchmen. Valdez recovers and summons up his days in the U.S. Cavalry so that he can fight them. Valdez wounds one of the henchmen and sends him back to Tanner with the message, “Valdez is Coming”. Charles Gross wrote a highly atmospheric score for the movie, and although it was not overflowing with themes as was the norm during this period for a western, the music was effective and fully supportive in a sparser way.
The composer utilising music sparingly but managing to fashion a sense of apprehension and tension to underline the storyline via ethnic sounding percussion and instrumentation as in the cue The Indian Woman, and at the same time creating subdued themes which were at times short lived but still had to them a hint of melody. The composer also made effective use of the woodwind section, at times lacing these outings with electronic enhancement for effect.
He also combined Timpani with strings and a small brass section in some of the action cues, as in the composition, The Cross.
The score for Valdez is Coming is one that should have been released at the time of the movies release, it is not only inventive but highly original. The central theme is heard in various guises throughout the score, and mostly accompanies Valdez, the most prominent performance being in the films MainTitle which is one of the longest cues within the score, but the composer also employs it or variations of it in cues such as Uniform and Guns but bolsters it giving the theme a more martial sound as we see Valdez preparing to go looking for Tanner and his henchman.
In many ways I have always thought that the score for Valdez is Coming is similar in style to that of the Wild Bunch, at times understated but also effective. Although Charles Gross was a highly sought-after composer there is sadly very little of his film music available on recordings. His film and television scores included Valdez is Coming (1971), The Tenth Level (1976), Blue Sunshine, (1978), The Dain Curse,(1978), Heartland(1979), My Body My Child (1982) to name but a few.
Set in the Prohibition era in the Southern States of America, the films plot focuses upon a devout Catholic 13-year-old girl Lila Lee. Lilia receives a letter asking her to visit her mobster father who apparently has been injured. Fearing that he will die Lila runs away from the Priest who has raised her, and, in whose church, she has become well known as a singer. But in recent months her attractive looks have started to gain attention as well as her angelic sounding singing voice.
Lila takes the bus to where her Father is staying which is the eerie town of Astaroth. Before she boards the bus, she buys a ticket at the bus station, and when she asks for a ticket to got to Astaroth, the ticket clerk teases the girl and tells her that the people in that town are just strange and that visitors rarely return from their trip there.
Lila takes no notice of his remarks and boards the bus to begin her journey, but notices that she is the only passenger headed there which makes her feel a little uncomfortable. As the bus reaches the woods on the outskirts of the town it is attacked by frenzied and bloodthirsty vampires.
The bus driver is killed and in a blind panic Lila attempt to drive the bus to escape the creatures, but in her panic she crashes the vehicle and is attacked, but is thankfully rescued by a woman whose name is Lemora who it seems materialises out of nowhere.
Lila is traumatised and feints but when she wakes up finds herself locked in a cottage outside a farmhouse, where she is tended to by an elderly woman named Solange who feeds her.
Lila is desperate to get away and to find her father, so she attacks Solange and escapes the cottage and runs to the farmhouse where she hides in a crawlspace. She hears her father’s voice in the farmhouse, but before she can find him, Lila is confronted by Lemora, who tells her that she is not able to see her father because of his illness and she will not be able to see him until it is established that she is immune from his “disease.” Lila discovers that she is not alone in the farmhouse as Lemora looks after many other children in her home, all of whom, like her, are pale and sickly looking in appearance.
It becomes evident that Lemora has taken a shine to Lila, often bathing her and attempting to soothe her. While left alone for a moment, Lila is violently attacked by her father, who appears to be severely disfigured. He chases Lila through the house, but she manages to get to Solange in the kitchen, Lila’s father then attacks and kills the elderly woman before Lemora appears with a flaming torch which she uses to chase him away thrusting it into his face as if he is a wild animal.
Lemora comforts Lila and explains that some of the townspeople of Astaroth have become sick, and refers to an impending ceremony in which Lila will participate. After reading a diary of a child in Lemora’s home, Lila soon realizes that Lemora is a vampire who feeds upon children and is holding her father captive.
She is also the unofficial queen of the Astaroth vampiric cult and plans to turn Lila into one of the undead. Whilst trying to escape, Lila embarks on a night-time journey through the town of Astaroth, witnessing that there are two types of vampires: one group being like Lemora, relatively human in behaviour and appearance, while there are others who are mutated or disfigured and far more savage in behaviour and monstrous in form; the girl soon becomes aware that the two groups are at war with each other. Meanwhile, the Priest who has been looking for Lila, manages to retrace her steps and is getting close to where she is. After a battle in the town which leaves most of the vampires dead, Lila is forced to kill her own father, who has become one of the disfigured and feral vampires.
As she sheds tears over his body, Lemora approaches her and offers her comfort by her vampire’s kiss. When the Reverend arrives in the town and finds Lila he is unsure why she is so eager to kiss him. He resists at first, then he gives in. Seeing that he is not resisting any longer the girl sinks her fangs into his throat and drains his blood whilst being watched over by a smiling Lemora.
The scene then fades and opens again for the films final scene, where we see Lila singing before her church congregation the hymn Rock of Ages. What has she planned for them, well it’s not clear really and is the Priest still alive and now living as a vampire, where is Lemora, a lot of loose ends and ripe for a sequel, but sadly there was never one made. The film is an American production, but it has to it a definite European air, it does at times evoke the Italian horrors of the 1960’s and 70’s and even up to a point maybe the vampire movies made by French director Jean Rollin. The plot being rather thin and at times confusing, with the movie relying upon edgy camera work and even more upon its atmospheric sets. Even some of the posters for the movie had a distinct Italian art style to them.
The musical score is also effectively sinister and apprehensive and is the work of composer/performer Dan Neufeld, who only scored one movie in his career. Neufeld was better known as a whistler and a composer of popular music as well as being a lyricist and responsible for cover versions of standard jazz favourites. The music for Lemora, was serviceable, but at times it seemed that the score was a little out of sync with the action or scenarios emerging on screen.
The soundtrack was never issued on a recording, which in the 1970’s was not that unusual. The film was originally released in 1973, but after initial screenings it was cut ruthlessly as there were objections about its content from the Catholic Church. The movie was then re-released in 1974, but never really attained the box office success that many thought it deserved.
Award-winning film music composer John Koutselinis has composed high-quality film scores with notable collaborations comprising of music written for producers and directors, such as Gary Kurtz (Star Wars IV & V), Brian Presley (The Great Alaskan Race), Richard Bazley (Disney, Warner Bros) Steve Stone (Entity), Danny Wilson (Nephilim), Harry & George Kirby (Accident Man 2) and Mel Smith (Director of High Hills and Low Lifes, Radioland Murders – Story by George Lucas).He has recently composed the score for the film ‘The Alaskan Great Race’ by Director/Producer Brian Presley, also starring Henry Thomas (E.T., Legends of the Fall) and Treat Williams, among others. (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack album has been released by SONY MUSIC/MILAN). He also written music for the films ‘Hostile Territory’ (Brian Presley, Matt McCoy & Brad Leyland), ‘DEUS’ with David O’Hara (The Departed, Harry Potter) & Claudia Black (Farscape), Katherine of Alexandria (Peter O’Toole, Steven Berkoff & Edward Fox), ‘Nephilim’ (John Savage – award-winning score, music performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra) and Centurion Resurrection’ (Gary Kurtz -Producer, Richard Bazley – Director).
In addition, he has composed music for over 40 short films, including film scores for the short films by K&K Productions, which among others include Dragonball Z and The League of Legends, which have collectively generated over 15 Million views. K&K Productions have also created the film ‘Cable: The Chronicles of Hope’ which premiered at London Comic con. John is the recipient of 4 awards, including the ‘Best Music Score’ award by the Sydney Independent Film Festival for the original score of the film ‘Nephilim’, and the ‘Best Music’ award by the British Horror Film Festival for the original score of the motion picture ‘In Extremis’. He is also the recipient of several nominations, including nominations by the prestigious ‘Jerry Goldsmith Awards’ (‘The Rocket Boy’) and a shortlist nomination by ‘The World Soundtrack Awards’ (‘The Great Alaskan Race’).His latest works include the music score for the motion picture ‘Hostile Territory’ by writer/director Brian Presley and ‘DEUS’ by writer/director Steve Stone.
One of your recent scores is for the western/American Civil War historical drama based on true events Hostile Territory, which has an epic sounding score, in fact it is a score I have had on loop for a few days now and I never tire of it. You worked with Director Brian Presley before on The Great Alaskan Race, was it a case of you had collaborated before and it worked so he contacted you again for his latest movie?
Thank you for the kind words on the score for Hostile Territory, very much appreciated!
Indeed, I worked in the past with Writer/Director Brian Presley with whom I had a wonderful collaboration for the film ‘The Great Alaskan Race’ and I was thrilled to be called to write the music for Hostile Territory!The Great Alaskan Race’ was a great creative experience in connection to writing the music for the film. The film itself is beautifully made, my experience with Brian and the production team at P12 Films was wonderful and recording with The City of Prague Philharmonic was once again great.
Brian Presley also encouraged me to write thematic material, something which I personally strive for, and I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to take this form of direction. A short story which can highlight the relationship between composer and director, was that the main theme for ‘The Great Alaskan Race’ was created from a love theme I wrote for the characters of Kiana and Leonhard Seppala. In discussions on the score with Brian Presley, he did let me know that the short love theme was something that he felt would work for the main theme. And to my appreciation, it turned out to be the right choice. A piece that I wrote somewhat passingly for a short love theme segment, ended up being the main theme of the film. This is an example of the ongoing process between the composer and director which is extremely creative.
‘The Great Alaskan Race’ was a great experience and very grateful it led to my participation to ‘Hostile Territory’ as music composer.
Sadly, I have not been able to see the movie yet, but have seen sections, the music is certainly affecting to listen to away from any images, at times being anthem like. What size orchestra did you have for the score and what percentage of the music was realized via virtual or synthetic instrumentation and who performs the haunting solo voice on the score?
As with many productions today, scores are leaning towards been produced by Virtual Orchestras, which we also followed this train of thought, but I was very happy to be given the opportunity to return to Prague and work with members of The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
We mostly employed strings at nearly full orchestral capacity, but we also used solo instrumentalists such as the wonderful Anna Phoebe on the solo Violin, and Marek Elznic on the Cello. In addition, I have been a long-time collaborator with vocalists Melany Dantes-Mortimer (which you can hear on ‘The Battle of High Bridge’) and Rebecca Joelle (who can be heard on the pieces titled ‘The Rescue’ and ‘Finale & End Credits’). On this occasion, I believe you are referring to Melany Dantes-Mortimer who performed the haunting vocals on the piece titled ‘The Battle of High Bridge’.
Hugely grateful for their contribution to the score, as I am for the wonderful musicians at The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the soloists that took part on the recordings.
Were you given any specific instructions, or did you have any requests regarding the sound or style of the score by the director or producers?
I had several discussions with the director, Brian Presley, about the style of the film score, and he gave me a few examples of what he was looking for the music of Hostile Territory. I do remember writing the main theme and I was happy to know that it was received very well. We also discussed the role of the score in the film. Hostile Territory is a hard-edged Western film, and as such, I paid great attention to not overwrite the score, to give the film space, so that the viewer can be immersed in the difficult circumstances depicted in the film and highlight important moments with the music. The theme was sparsely written and can be heard in its completion at the film’s epilogue.
I was grateful to be asked to write a thematic score, which is something that I personally love, and as such I wrote the main theme, and a few secondary themes.
One such secondary theme can be heard on the piece titled ‘This Land’ and ‘The Capture & and act of Kindness’, and also a separate theme was written for Phil (jack Calgrove’s son), and his partner, as they adopt their new family and embark on their journey to a new life. Sonically, we didn’t discuss veering off from the orchestral sound, something for which I was very happy. At the same time, I elaborated with electronic percussions, doubling real sounding percussions to give the overall sound a larger body. Also, as it is also a common practice, the orchestral sounds were doubled at times with synthesizers, especially the bottom-end of the arrangements.
How many times do you like to see a movie before you begin the process of deciding what style you will employ or where music should be placed?
I believe at the very most, 2 to 3 times. I write instinctively, in terms of where I feel the music should be placed (unless I am given specific instructions). After discussions with the director and/or the production team, I distil a good idea as of what the style of the music should be for the film.
Once the style and a theme has been established, the process beyond that point is very much about deciding what cues should be written in terms of placement and tone, and it then becomes a continuous work, which entails receiving feedback from the production, and shaping up any parts that need improvement.
In terms of music spotting, in my experience, some directors like to see how I furnish the film with my work and decide later as of what needs to be kept, and other directors have an idea of where the music should be placed, but it is often that the former takes place in the process.
Was writing music for film something that you had always wanted to do, and what were your earliest memories of any kind of music?
Indeed, writing music for films was a goal of mine since a very young age. I had no specific musical direction up until I was introduced to music for films. I wasn’t introduced to film music up until The Empire Strikes Back was released. I was fascinated with the music, which remains my most favourite score of all time (tied with The Extra Terrestrial). At that time, I wasn’t aware of film music at all, and it wasn’t until a friend of mine played to me the vinyl album from The Empire Strikes Back.
The moment I heard The Imperial March, I was taken by the sheer power and beauty of the music. It was since then that I wanted to pursue the avenue of becoming a composer for films.
Within Hostile Territory there are certain passages and cues that for me evoked the sound achieved by James Horner, at times there was a Gaelic lilt present, are there any composers or artists that have influenced you or inspired you to do what you do.
As with many composers, John Williams was my first and biggest inspiration for music for films and composition in general. The greats Jerry Goldsmith & James Horner were also a big part of my upbringing. I suppose your early years are hardwired in terms of one’s influences. I also loved music from many wonderful composers whilst growing up, such as Basil Poledouris, George Fenton, Robert Folk, Alan Silvestri, Elliot Goldenthal, Ryuichi Sakamoto, the synthesized scores by Brad Fiedel, Éric Serra & Vangelis, and later, the hugely inventive Hans Zimmer.
What musical education did you receive?
In my early years I received standard musical education through my school. It wasn’t until later in life where I met Mr Themis Roussos who furthered my musical education. Mr Roussos was the most talented musician I have ever met. He was an incredibly accomplished Jazz Piano player, composer, and orchestrator, and a hugely gifted teacher.
He taught me Jazz Harmony and Orchestration, he was a truly incredible musician and a wonderful person, with a seemingly endless knowledge of harmonization, which was his passion. I am very grateful that our paths crossed and thankful for his invaluable teachings.
Do you carry out the orchestration work on your scores, or is this not always possible?
As most work is done digitally nowadays, I , as many fellow composers, work with a DAW to compose music for films. This is of course because technology has come to the point where a composer is able to digitally orchestrate within a DAW an entire score, and as there is an immediate requirement by production companies to listen to near finished demos, this is the preferred mode of operation. I think the best way to describe the process is that, I fully orchestrate my works whilst working with a sequencing program. But when it comes down to creating readable scores for musicians, I outsource my compositions in digital form to the orchestrator. This is for the further process of rendering the digital score I provided, in scoring programs such as Sibelius or Dorico, for the orchestrator to then create a conductor’s score and musician’s parts for the live recordings. This indeed takes place because of time constrains, but I do ,99% of the time, provide digital orchestrations that are the exact music that is played live by the orchestra.
The score for Hostile Territory is released on Movie Score Media as a digital release, how much music did you compose for the movie and is all the score included on the release?
Indeed, I was grateful for Movie Score Media to release the score. I composed music for most of the film, I would say perhaps 80+ minutes of music. The album for ‘Hostile Territory’ has a selection of the music composed for the film, and two Suites, one for the Main Theme and also a secondary theme titled ‘This Land’. I am personally a fan of albums that have short duration. My most favourite albums don’t have more than 12 to 14 tracks. I believe this way the score can be heard in a more focused way, and an album can also run better this way. As such I opted for a 15-track album on this release.
Hostile Territory is such a thematic work, the music purveys so many emotions, and each track could easily be a main theme for a movie, are themes in your film scores important to you, as there is a trend of late to provide an underlying sound rather than music in films?
I very much appreciate your kind words on the score. Film scores take a great deal of work, and it is always gratifying hearing encouraging words for one’s works. As I grew up with composers such as John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith (amongst other wonderful composers), I was listening to music that was heavily thematic. Each film had its own sound and theme or themes. This train of thought has been imbedded in me and whenever possible I try to introduce a theme to a score. This is not always possible as some films cannot take or need a musical theme. On this occasion, I was grateful that I had the opportunity to write a score which required thematic material.
What purpose does or should music have in film and TV, what role does it play if you like. So, the film is finished, and the director has good performances from the actors, the right photography, script etc, what can you as a composer add to this with your music?
This is a great question. Film music has always existed to enhance the performances and/or action one sees on the screen. It has been said that the best music for films is the one which is felt, and not heard consciously. To which I partially agree. Of course, not all film music should get in the way of the dialogue. It should enhance it. It should support it and if need be, elevate it. However, sometimes music can be on an equal platform with the one of the actor’s performances and the given action within a film.
What would the effect of Lord of the Rings be without Howard Shore’s music (who, by the way, spend two years on the score)? Jaws without John William’s Score? E.T., Star Wars and so on? Batman without the musical contributions of Danny Elfman, Elliot Goldenthal, Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard and as of late Michael Giacchino?
As a film music composer, I can see the process of film with no music, to the finished product. A film without music can be shockingly empty. Or equally shockingly different, with alternative music from the one heard on the finished product, one has come to be familiar with.
In the same token, cinematography has changed. The film production tools can create sometimes denser results, as such the music should act accordingly. The flipside to this argument also is that some films need minimal to no music at all. The argument is multifaceted, and I believe the answer greatly depends on each production, as I suppose, each film has its own musical needs.
You have worked on various types of films animation, feature, and shorts, you scored Nephilim which was an animated feature, do you approach animation in a different way from scoring a live action feature, and when scoring a short is it harder as in more difficult to write a score and establish a style or sound with a movie that runs for under an hour and run for minutes as in Centurion Resurrection which had a duration of just three minutes?
Animation as a general rule, gives a composer the opportunity to stretch their compositional muscle, so to speak, in much more elaborate ways than other styles of films. I thoroughly enjoyed writing music for animated films over the years. However, ‘Nephilim’ wasn’t an animated film in the traditional sense of the term. Although it is a 3D animated film, it runs and feels like a live action film. And the music was composed accordingly. The production featured an 80-piece orchestra, which was a thrill, and it was the first time I recorded with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Regarding your question about short films in relation to the music. This is a very good question. In all honesty, it doesn’t matter how short a film may be. It will still take the same amount of effort, thought and preparation as a full feature film, simply because one must deal with a new story, new characters, new environments, brand new score, its sound, its thematic structure and so on and so forth.
Of course, the degree of difficulty may vary, but as I said, the requirements for the initial creation of the music are very much the same as writing music for a full feature film.
Film music or the process of creating music for film has altered and evolved over the years, how do you work out your musical ideas whilst working on a project, do you sit at the piano and sketch out your themes and ideas and then utilize a more tech way to develop these?
I work exclusively digitally due to time constrains. However, I do sketch digitally ideas as quickly as possible. I then go over the ideas in passes. The best way to describe it, is, let’s say, akin to how a printer works in terms of laying the colours one on top of the other. I find that this process keeps the writing fresh.
In 2014 you scored Decline of an Empire (Katherine of Alexandria) which was set in the times of The Roman Empire, and had an impressive cast list including Edward Fox, Peter O Toole and Stephen Berkoff, the score is again magnificent, was this performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic, who you have worked with many times?
I had the opportunity to work on the score for Decline of an Empire and I am very grateful to have been given the chance to score the music for a film which featured so many legendary actors and a great many newcomers. I do appreciate your kind words on the score. Regarding the recording, on this occasion, the score was created entirely digitally.
I know that Nic Raine has conducted a few your scores, he is a wonderful conductor and an accomplished composer, do you conduct at all or is it better for you to supervise the session on a movie from the recording booth?
Indeed, I have been privileged to work with such a great conductor & orchestrator! It was also a thrill to work with James Fitzpatrick who has worked with some of my most favourite composers of all time and was wonderful for him to supervise the recording sessions in Prague. Regarding conducting, indeed, I do prefer to listen to the score and produce it on the recording sessions.
You also work with the Peoples Orchestra in the UK, can you tell us something about the orchestra and how you became involved with them?
The People’s Orchestra is based in the Midlands in the UK, and it is a wonderful organization which through music, helps a lot of people. It really is like a big family, and always great to work with this fabulous orchestra. I have had a great working relationship with ‘The People’s Orchestra’ here in the UK over the course of many years. They were kind enough to record several orchestral pieces of mine. A few years ago, I contacted the orchestra’s MD , Sarah Marshall, who was kind enough to take my music on board for live performances and recordings.
We have been working since then on several projects and we are hopefully to carry on creating new music for the foreseeable future. We are currently working on a piece to celebrate The Commonwealth, titled ‘We Are One’ which features and orchestra & choir and very much look forward to finalising its mixing process.
We Are Angels was a TV series you scored in 2014, I think you worked on 14 episodes, when scoring an episodic series, is the schedule tighter than on a movie, and do you recycle any of the themes from early episodes into the scores of later ones?
Indeed, the music for TV work requires a much tighter schedule, however, ‘We Are Angels’ didn’t adhere to traditional time constrains as the production followed a longer time schedule. Music wise, the episodes were different to each other, however, some themes were repeated as some of the characters to which I wrote music for, made a comeback to some of the episodes.
After you have spotted a movie and decided what style of score you will write and where music is to be placed how long do you normally have to compose and record the music, maybe you could use Hostile Territory as an example?
The period of composing and recording depends greatly on each production in terms of its budget and quality requirements. It can take from 6 to 8 and sometimes 12 weeks to complete a score. This greatly depends on the complexity of the production of the score, its duration, budget, orchestral requirements etc. and, as re-edits can sometimes take place, re-scoring will be required to fit the new edits.
For Hostile Territory, I believe the work was circa 6 weeks for the composition, and we then recorded the orchestral parts with members of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. If I remember correctly, the recordings took place within a few days.
What is next for you?
We are about to complete all work for a new piece titled ‘We Are One’ with ‘The People’s Orchestra’ & Choir, also I am completing the score for a wonderful short film titled ‘Beyond the Lake’ by director Simon Constantine.
In addition, I have been attached to score the music for the great Action/Comedy film ‘Accident Man 2’ directed by Harry & George Kirby with whom I have worked on several of their brilliant projects over the years. The film features an incredible cast of martial artists, starring Scott Adkins.
I am also looking forward to the release of the dark Sci-Fi film ‘DEUS’ by writer/director Steve Stone which I scored last year.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for having me here!
The Italian western genre was a popular one and a collection of movies that left their mark on cinema, the influences of the Italian made westerns are far reaching and are still today utilised in certain scenarios. Its an odd thing that even younger cinema goers that maybe have not seen an Italian made western still get the parody of camera work or a mock gunfight scene when it is used in a contemporary movie. The music too has also had much influence of film scoring in general, and even today composers will try to emulate or imitate the sound of the spaghetti western to create certain emotions and moods. The quirky and innovative style of Italian western scores I think will never go away, it will remain forever in the minds of cinema goers old and new. There were many western produced in Italy from the early 1960.s through to the 1980’s some good some bad and some very ugly. The majority of the scores for these spaghetti sagebrush sagas have now been released but it’s surprising that there are still a fistful that remain unreleased, one such score is by a composer who I think was involved with around 99 percent of the scores on Italian westerns, not always as a composer, but sometimes as a whistler, a guitarist and a choir master and vocalist.
Alessandro Alessandroni was the whistler on Morricone’s Dollar Trilogy and many other scores by the Maestro, he was also the leader of the famed Il Cantori Moderni, who performed on so many scores in Italy (not just westerns) that it is impossible to make mention of all of them. Alessandro was also a gifted composer in his own right a Maestro, who scored many movies. One western that he was involved with was El Puro, ( La Taglia E Tua ….L’Uomo L’Ammazzo Io) (1969), which has never received an original score release, yes there was a re-recording released which featured Alessandroni many years ago which contained an extended suite of music from the movie, but the original session recordings have never been issued.
The central theme is very much in the style of A Fistful Of Dollars with underlying influences taken from The Good The Bad and The Ugly, as in the opening drum beat, with the core theme being whistled flawlessly by the composer and accompanied by harmonica possibly played by Franco De Gemini, and organ maybe played by Bruno Nicolai, with the added support of a galloping percussion that is bolstered by Il Cantori Moderni, c and interspersed by barking male voices and electric guitar that are all underlined and tied together with strings. In fact, I suppose that one could refer to this as text-book Spaghetti western. The theme which is primarily a five-note motif is repeated throughout the score either performed in whistling form or given a rendition on electric guitar. There is also a secondary theme in the form of a lilting and romantic sounding Spanish guitar solo that is enhanced with subdued sounding organ both this and the core theme for the soundtrack make appearances throughout in various arrangements, the core theme being given a slower tempo at times and performed by harmonica and aided by a scattering of brass.
Directed by Edoardo Mulargia, El Puro, starred genre stalwart Robert Woods, his character is something of a down and out at the beginning of the movie, he is a drunk and hiding away in a small border village scared of his own shadow and portraying himself as an individual that fears everything even his own shadow. What we learn as the movie’s plot opens up is that in fact the Woods character is a famous gunslinger who is hiding away from the many would be gunfighters that want to make a name for themselves by killing him. So, he hides away in a perpetual state of intoxication in the hope that it will shield him from being found. His only support and compassion coming from a saloon girl Rosie who has recognised him, she decides to help him and takes him in to get him back to health in the hope that they can make a life together. Unbeknown to Rosie and El Puro a sadistic gang leader Gypsy portrayed by Marco Fiorini under the alias of Ashburn Hamilton jnr, who has recently escaped prison arrives in the village with his band of cutthroats looking for El Puro not knowing how low he has sunk. Gypsy is determined to find him and kill him for his own pleasure and collect the 1.000 dollar reward that is still on his head. It is here that we can possibly make comparisons with El Puro and ForA Few Dollars More, as Gypsy is in many ways like El Indio the villain of the Leone movie.
Rosie is killed by Gypsy and his gang, and it is now time for El Puro to return to avenge her. It’s not a classic Spaghetti western but it certainly has some interesting twists and turns and there is no doubt it is an entertaining example within the genre. Alessandroni’s style is distinctive with the instantly recognisable whistle being his trademark sound. He is a gifted guitar player and performed Sitar, piano and mandolin on many occasions and provided vocals on so many soundtracks it is difficult to comprehend this Maestro’s boundless contributions to the art of film music. El Puro is crying out for an official soundtrack release, it is a score that is on a par with many others within the genre, including the works of Morricone, Nicolai, Cipriani, Fidenco, and De Masi.
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