The soundtrack release and re-release program continues and as always turns up a few welcome and also some rather unexpected film scores for our listening pleasure or otherwise. When I say unexpected, I probably actually mean soundtracks that I stumbled upon whilst looking at something else, normally these accidental discoveries are scores that are inventive and interesting and because unexpected become even more so in both of those departments. The latest batch of soundtracks throughout June have been varied if nothing else, but that is being a little unfair as most of the new scores are well worth a listen, and although some maybe not exactly innovative they serve their purpose and serve the picture they are attached to well. Film music these days is somewhat predictable and becomes even more so it seems with scores from the Untied States.
Soundtracks such as Disney’s Lightyear, for example are very good as in rousing and do a great job in enhancing and supporting the picture, but is it a score that throws us film music fans something fresh? No not really, and this is not meant as a slight upon the music that Michael Giacchino has written, because I must say again it is a good score, filled with copious amounts of thematic material that encompass edgy, relentless, and richly thematic music that is most fitting for its central character. It has too it a grandiose but melancholy sound and is a work that I have already added to my collection. Giacchino has a large fan base and his scores are always entertaining and popular, his work for the Star Trek franchise for example is stunning, as is his scores for movies such as Up, The Batman, Spiderman No Way Home etc, and he is a composer I feel who can be at times done down by critics and film music collectors alike.
His score for John Carter is wonderful and works so well in a movie that was less than impressive. Lightyear is a work that has to it solid and infectious themes and exciting action pieces that are interwoven with lilting and homely sounding passages as in the cues, A Hyper Failure and Lightyear’s Behind which are both emotive, with the composer utilising an affecting short piano solo in the latter.
The cue A Good Day to not Die I feel is a fusion of a style we associate with the likes of Jerry Goldsmith, and maybe also purveys a pinch of Goldenthal and definitely more than a liberal helping of Giacchino, when you hear it I am sure you understand what I am saying.
The reference to the style of Goldsmith is also evident in the cue Mission Perpetual, which is a track that slowly but surely builds to fashion a proud and anthem like musical persona. So, it’s a score that maybe not innovative but its an entertaining musical ride filled with an abundance of twists turns and ups and downs. It’s on digital platforms and certainly worth a listen.
Another score that I was drawn to was Good Luck to you, Leo Grande, which is the work of Stephen Rennicks, who previously scored Normal People, (2020) The Little Stranger (2018) and Room (2015) and has also scored Conversations with Friends this year for TV. The music for Good Luck to you, Leo Grande, is quite a simple work the composer creating delightful tone poems performed by strings and solo piano, the fragility and charm of the compositions becoming lodged in the listeners mind because the melodies are so haunting, and its simplicity making it easier to process and giving it a lingering and affecting aura. Also on digital platforms, via the Movie Score Media label. go take a listen.
Highway 395 is a 2000 movie, and the score is the work of Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, the music is edgy, apprehensive and at times quite atonal, the composers experimenting with sounds and layering soundscapes to create a highly atmospheric work. However, I have to say I was not at all excited by the score at all, it sounded like it was following a repetitive and samey track all the way through, and yes hats off to both composers for their efforts, but it’s a score I tired of after cue three, becoming restless and looking at the forward button the player. As it as I have already said sounded much the same throughout for me never really taking off. I am sure if you are a Beltrami fan you may like it, but not for me.
Chiara is an acclaimed movie directed by Jonas Carpignano and is being hailed as one of the most important Italian movies in recent years. It tells the story of Chiara who is a fifteen-year-old girl, who along with her family is abandoned by her Father in Calabria. Consequently, the family breaks down. The score is an atmospheric affair and is the work of Dan Romer and Benh Zetlin. I am not going to say that this is the most melodic soundtrack, because it is not, the composers rely more upon hints at themes rather than full blown musical statements, it’s a score that seems to hover in the background, never overpowering but also not really making any impression, but this is the sign of a score that works, because if you go to the cinema and watch a movie and do not notice the music over the drama etc on screen then that score has done its job. Check it out on the likes of Spotify.
Based on the book: Bobby the Blessed and the other American written by Emil Andreev in 2015. The Blessed is a tale of pure love, priceless medicine and an accidental meeting with the future president of the USA – John Kennedy which changes the life of a man. Music for this 2020 motion picture has just been made available on digital platforms and is well worth a listen, the composer George Strzov, wrote a wonderfully poignat and lyric score for the movie, which is performed predominantly by the string section that bolster and support a heartfelt solo piano performance throughout, the score also has to it darker and more foreboding musical connotations, in which the composer employs scatterings of percussion, woodwind, choral moments and restrained brass. The music is at times sombre and low key, but retains a modicum of melancholy, and romanticism throughout, worth a listen.
Donde Habitan los Secretos, (Where secrets Dwell) is a drama from Chile. It focuses upon a married couple in crisis, Luz and Esteban who decide to spend a weekend at their country house. Once there, alone in nature, far from their daughter and their lives in the city, they must face the secrets that each one hides and that threaten to destroy their relationship. Music for the movie is the work of Rene Calderon, this too is a score that is realised mostly via piano, with the composer adding woods to bring to the surface the highly emotional qualities of the music.
It’s a small-scale score, but one which is overflowing with poignancy. There is one cue that is out of character with the remainder of the score, Palea de Ambos is darker and more sinister sounding the composer using choral like sounds to purvey a mood that is threatening or fearful. Take some time to find this and give it a listen.
Tico Martini: la légende de magny-cours is a 2022 documentary, that tells of the sixty-year relationship between Tico Martini an Italian migrant, mechanic. Manufacturer and Trainer and the once small village race circuit that has for over seventeen years now hosted the Formula one French Grand Prix and gave birth to a technopole of excellence.
To tell the story of one of them you must also tell the others story, because they are inseparable and intwined. The musical score is by accomplished composer Maximillen Mathevon, and like so many other documentaries that he has worked on the music is the driving force and the foundation of the film.
This is an upbeat soundtrack which at times sways towards a more rock orientated style, it’s also a score that oozes infectious sounding passages and boasts a plethora of themes, at times it evoked the style of the Italian made western, but only briefly with its electric guitar performances, there is also a definite retro sound present with eighties styled synths etc performing up tempo pieces throughout an essential purchase and available on digital platforms via Plaza Mayor. highly recommended.
Plaza Mayor have also released, Broadway by Gabriel Yared, and this too is available on digital platforms.
Laura Karpman, has recently triumphed with her music for Marvel’s What If, which was aired last year. She is now performing composer duties the latest Disney+ and Marvel Studios series, Ms. Marvel which had its premiere on June 8th. It introduces a Muslim teenager Kamala Khan to audiences who is living in Jersey City in the USA. As well as being a gamer she is also a fan of superheroes. Which is a volatile mix especially when you think that you are not fitting in at school and are unhappy at home. The full score is not yet available, but a suite has been released on digital platforms, which is breath-taking and displays the sheer talent and inventiveness of Laura as a composer. The full soundtrack is due for release on two volumes the first being on June 22nd which will cover episodes from one to three and then a volume two that cover episodes four through till six will be released on July 13th. Well worth listening to that suite to get a taster of what’s coming.
Also released is Spiderhead by Joseph Trapanese, For all Mankind by Jeff Russo, Lancaster by Chris Roe, and Dark Entities by David Vest.
That’s all folks.