Here we go again with another Soundtrack Supplement and we are now officially into Autumn, well at least the TV should improve as we head into the winter months, with those dark nights and crisp frosty mornings. I am hoping that TV does get better, but will we be able to afford the power to run it? Bleak times ahead we are told, so let’s see if we can cheer you up a little with some of the latest soundtrack releases. There has been a trend of late for there to be a lot of releases, but to be honest not many of these are what I would call great scores, ok yes there are a handful which do stand out, but the emergence of an excellent or an amazing soundtrack in recent months has been few and far between. I am just saying what others are thinking. However, saying this I in the past have not been a fan of non-symphonic scores, the electronic score or soundtrack I thought was going to be the end of large-scale scores for movies and TV shows, but how wrong was I because there is obviously room for both symphonic and synthetic mediums in film scoring. And there are also several younger up and coming composers who work in film and video games that create scores via totally electronic means but get wonderfully atmospheric results in fact at times they realize scores that just blow us all away. With lilting melodies and fearsome and powerful compositions, it is difficult sometimes to differentiate between symphonic and synthetic because the electronic elements that are being utilized are so sophisticated. Back in the 1980’s when the synth score first reared its head, it was obvious that the music we were hearing was electronically fashioned, but because of the advancement in tech etc that is now becoming ever more difficult. Most of the scores I listen to for review these days utilize electronic instrumentation in some way or another some do however have solo performances played live and woven throughout the work, I think its was all down to a certain snobbery amongst film music collectors that maybe electronic scores initially were shunned a little.
Of course, some contemporary scores are written in a style that purposely evoke and mirror the 80’s style of electronic music for film. Composers such as Matt Cannon (Force to Fear, Beyond Dark Dreams, Spirit Animal and the up-and-coming Bloody Nun) and Rocky Gray for example working on horror movies and re-creating styles that we readily associate with the likes of Moroder, Faltermeyer, Simonetti, Frizzi, Tangerine Dream, and Goblin to name but a handful. Or at least writing in a similar style to the named artists. Rocky Gray’s score for Wicked Ones is a prime example, the composer putting together a score that is unnerving and edgy, harrowing, and haunting via synth lines and rock orientated backgrounds.
The former drummer from the band Evenescence, who had hits with songs such as Bring me to Life back in 2003, employs a style that is well suited to the horror genre, Gray’s seamless fusion of rock, indie, and dramatic scoring is not only affecting but consuming and tantalizing. I suggest that you check out his film scores some of which including Wicked Ones are available on digital platforms.
Killer Clowns from Outer Space by composer John Massari, has been released on vinyl on Waxworks records, the recording kicks off with the original theme from the movie performed by Punk band The Dickies.
The Plaza Mayor Company have three new additions to their catalogue which is ever expanding Jezabel, which is a thriller helmed by filmmaker Hernan Jabes with music by Tomás Barreiro, the romantic comedy Love in Quarantine, scored by Lance Warlock, and Demon Fighter which is also the work of Warlock.
Onto more releases for the months of August and September, one which is certainly not synthetic is by a composer who I think is certainly worth checking out is Matthijs Kieboom, who is one of the most sought after and well-established composers in the Netherlands. Kieboom, has been a fulltime composer for over a decade and has recently become the head of the Film Music department in one of Holland’s leading conservatories. In 2017, after scoring numerous feature films and tv series, the composer ventured into his first big feature documentary Wild (available on Movie Score Media digitally) a film about the captivating Dutch nature and wildlife. The film was a big box-office success, had 1,5 million views on TV and it was the first soundtrack of the composers to be released on CD. The score earned him multiple nominations including the International Film Music Critics Association Award (“Best Original Score for a Documentary”). He also scored the re-boot of the TV series Van Der Valk, with his score for Ninjas Down the Street being released earlier this year. His most recent work is for Wolf, which is a new Dutch documentary. The music for this is superb, and will be released digitally by MSM very soon, it is a dramatic and commanding work in places, the score also containing tender and fragile sounding passages that are heartrending and emotive. The composers subtle but affecting style works wonderfully in the excerpts I have seen, the music creating an ethereal and almost mystical ambience. Watch out for this score as it is one you will want to add to your collection.
The soundtrack to the 1963 movie Horror has been released on digital platforms, the atmospheric soundtrack is by Carlo Franci, Guiseppi Piccillo, and Gino Fillipini, and makes for an uneasy listen, it contains many of those stock sounds and musical trademarks that became standard in Italian horror pictures as in lilting melodies that also have to them malevolent atmosphere, and a driving dramatic undercurrent.
Very much in the style of composers such as Rustichelli, Nicolai and Nascimbene, with some frantic but haunting harpsichord work throughout. Originally a CAM recording this is distributed by DECCA records. One to take a listen to.
Returning to Swedish label Movie Score Media and another of their recent releases. Les Volets Verts is by Frédéric Vercheval who is a Belgian musician and composer. Vercheval studied at the Jazz Studio, a music school in Antwerp, Belgium. He was nominated for the Magritte Award for Best Original Score five times for his work in Diamant 13 (2009), Krach (2010), Not My Type (2014), Melody (2014) and Mothers’ Instinct (2019). In 2019, the composers score for Duelles (Mothers’ Instinct) won the World Soundtrack Awards in the Best Original Score for a Belgian Production category. Vercheval’s score for The Pact (2021), directed by Bille August, has also been released by Movie score Media.
The music for Les Volets Verts is a beautiful and haunting work, although it is very short in duration, just four cues and a little over thirteen minutes. This however did not matter to me as I enjoyed listening to the music over and over, the simple but ingratiating music is a delight to hear, it is a charming and affecting work, filled with melodies that linger long after ones initial listen, the score is performed in the main on piano, with orchestra surrounding, supporting, and underlining throughout, the composer crafting some of the most enriching, flawless, and gracious tone poems that I have heard in a while, I employ you to please listen now.
Another MSM release is Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy, which is an entertaining animated romp, that I think will appeal to most especially those into the likes of Indiana Jones, the music is by composer Zacarias M. de la Riva, who also scored the previous two adventures in this popular series. It is the eighth album that MSM have released by the Spanish composer who’s scores always prove to be popular. This is a fully symphonic score, that is literally overflowing with adventurous and swashbuckling sounding moments, like the film and its characters themselves, the score pays homage to the Indiana Jones movies in the most glorious fashion.
The digital album is released at the same time as the theatrical release of the film in Spain, France, and Germany. The movie will also be released in the UK in a few weeks! The score is fun and relentless, at last a score that is brimming with magnificent thematic material. And will also be available soon on compact disc from Saimel Records. One for the collection, highly recommended.
Onto another animated movie or series at least He Man and the Masters of the Universe-Season 2, contains music courtesy of Michael Kramer and Ali Dee, and like Tad the Lost Explorer, does pay homage to past adventure movies, being bold and powerful, but also having to it a lighter side, but what I do love about it is that again it has real themes, that the composers employ and also develop as the score progresses, I am sure this is probably a 80/20 mix of electronic and symphonic, but as I was saying in the opening of this article sometimes one just cannot define the synthetic from the symphonic. All I know is I enjoyed the score a lot, its proud and anthem like, so everything He Man could want for. Available digitally Recommended.
Kronos Records of have announced the premiere release of The Proud and the Damned, which is a western from 1972 written and directed by Ferde Grofé Jr. It starred Chuck Connors in the lead role, in which he fused his characterisation from both American TV shows and Italian western roles that he had undertaken. The story takes place just after the American Civil War and follows a group of ex confederate soldiers, who cross over into South America only to become involved in yet another civil war.
The music is by Gene Kauer & Douglas M. Lackey who collaborated on numerous films that included, Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966), Across the Great Divide (1977), and Adventure Family also in 1977. Their score purveys a Latin flavour, and sound, and is highly effective in underlining the action, the composers utilizing a subtle Mexican style combining it with dramatic pieces. Kronos will also release Motorcycle Gang, (1957) which has music by Albert Glasser (The Cisco Kid Returns, Huk, and The Amazing Colossal Man.) Both releases are limited to 300 copies.
Three Thousand Years of Longing, stars Tilda Swinton as a lonely scholar who goes on a trip to Istanbul where she encounters a Djinn (Idris Alba) who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) has composed the score, I was surprised just how much this composer/producer/Dj has matured in his approach to scoring a movie, with the work containing some absorbing and quite elegant themes, that underline and punctuate the storyline wonderfully. Available on digital platforms.
Paul Zaza is a composer I have always looked out for, in fact ever since his score for Prom Night, I have longed for more of his soundtracks to be made available to fans, only last week the composers score for the 1983 Canadian made slasher movie Curtains turned up on Spotify courtesy of Waxworks records, I would say that it is a typical horror score, but with composer Zaza, there is never a typical sounding soundtrack, as he is always inventive, and innovative. Curtains is no exception to that rule and entertains on so many moody and atmospheric levels.
The composer’s music is at certain points strangely subtle and calm for a horror movie at times being jazz influenced and laid back as in the track Strykers Studio, but maybe that’s the attraction of the score, whatever it is the music works and succeeds in embellishing and enhancing the creepy and frenzied goings on perfectly. It is available on most digital platforms now.
Cobra Kai Season 5, is coming and so is a Spaghetti western influenced score by composers Leo Birenberg and Zach Robinson, one track is available currently on the likes of Apple and Spotify entitled Once Upon a Time in the Valley, which is a fusion of Italian western and bluesy country styles, with harmonica, solo trumpet and guitar. Entertaining, cannot wait for the rest of the score.
Referred to as a cross between the movies Get Shorty and The Producers, The Comeback Trail is great fun movie, that takes us on a journey through the underbelly of Hollywood. It is a movie that is filled with a cast of unforgettable and extreme characters, but it will have you in fits of laughter. In debt to the mob and in need of a new money-making scheme to save his skin, greedy grind-house film producer, Max Barber, (Robert De Niro) decides to produce a dangerous new film, all for the sake of killing his lead actor in a stunt so he can rake in the insurance money. But when he casts Duke Montana, (Tommy Lee Jones) an aging, washed up movie star as the lead, Max, does not expect the old drunk to be revitalized by being in front of the camera again. Unable to kill Duke in a basic stunt, Max ups the stakes, putting Duke into ever more dangerous situations.
And as Duke survives stunt after stunt, Max unwittingly starts making the best movie of his career. It’s a hilarious romp, which has a score that too is just as entertaining by composer Aldo Shllaku, the film was released back in 2020, and as well as De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones, features Morgan Freeman. The score has just popped up on Spotify, so I thought I would let you know as its one of those soundtracks that takes one by surprise being such an entertaining one, check it out.
Ennio Morricone’s epic sounding score for the 1985 movie Red Sonja has been re-issued by Quartet records in Spain, the score contains a martial sounding theme and a lilting and superbly melodic love theme, with some of the composers most affecting choral work.
I often think do we really need yet another edition of a score, after all the Milan release is suffice enough don’t you think?
But in this case, I must admit this is a welcomed release, containing the tracks from the original Varese Sarabande release which are in stereo, but have been placed in film order, plus the score in Mono, both stereo and mono recordings contain different cues and if you want the most complete version of the score this is the release for you.
And whilst discussing Morricone, I think it’s about time that there was a re-issue of his Hundra score, which although was not the greatest of movies, had a robust and entertaining soundtrack penned by the Maestro in 1984. I remember the LP on the Macola label having rather distorted sound as did the cassette release also on Macola, the subsequent CD release on Prometheus too suffered from sound problems.
The score is available on digital platforms, but an expanded and re-mastered edition would I think be welcomed by all. It does seem to be one of those Morricone scores that is overlooked.
Quartet have also re-issued The Day of the Dolphin, which although is a great score by composer Georges Delerue, has had its fair share of re-issues over the years.
BEAT records released a 50th anniversary edition of They Still Call Me Trinity, by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, on vinyl. This iconic Italian western score never fails to please with its unique and vibrant compositions and vocals, if you have not already got the soundtrack, its time you added it to your collection, now. The label has also re-pressed the 50th anniversary edition LP of They Call me Trinity, which comes in a different colour from the original re-issue.
The score by Franco Micalizzi, and Roberto Pregadio is also a must have item. Halloween is coming and already there are a few compilations being made available on the likes of Spotify, to get you in the mood check out Paura a collection of so many great Italian horror themes resurrected from the dusty vaults of CAM.
Available now on Spotify .(the collection was actually posted last October) but it’s always good to return to classic Italian film scores.
With music from all the Italian usual suspects such as Morricone, Nicolai, Cipriani, etc and a few names that we don’t see often enough such as Pisano, De Sica, Romitelli, and Patucchi.
Wunderschon is a German production directed by Caroline Herfurth, the movie is an inspiring tale sensitively made and superbly acted out, in fact I would go as far as to say it is one of the best German movies I have seen in a while. It tells the stories of a group of women, all are at varying stages in their life, and all are encountering different situations, who have to fight against discrimination in a male-controlled environment.
It is an insightful and thoughtful movie that has been scored by Annette Focks, her score is filled with compassion, emotion, and melancholy, the composer fashioning delicate and fragile sounding themes to underline and support the storyline. Subtle, affecting, and beautiful, Focks relies on light piano solos, that are punctuated and given depth by cello and violin. Available now on digital platforms. Recommended.
Dimitri Smith has composed a positively poignant and gracious soundtrack for The Mystery of Her, available on digital platforms this is a surprisingly affecting work from a young composer who has written so truly heartrending material for this movie. It is one of those scores that just mesmerizes its listener and is a charming and absorbing work.
Piano, and strings are employed throughout to much effect, piano solos being the backbone of the work, solos that tantalize, and enthrall, another for your collection to listen to in the long winter nights to give you warmth and peace of mind. I just adore the cello within the score it is the heart, the soul, and the weeping emotion of the score. Recommended.
I Came By is a thriller on Netflix, it follows a young graffiti artist who discovers a shocking secret that would put him and the ones closest to him in danger. The tense drama is scored by Isobel Waller Bridge (Roar, Munich the edge of War). The music is dark steamy and brooding, and perfect for this edgy and simmering tale, like most Netflix soundtracks it is available on digital platforms such as Spotify and Apple music.
Silva Screen have released a preview in the form of a single from the up-and-coming Frozen Planet ll, this is the first track from the forthcoming soundtrack album for the series which opens on BBC one on September 11th. Music is composed by Hans Zimmer, Adam Lukas and James Everingham. The album will be digitally released on 7th October, followed by a 2 CD physical release on 21st October and triple vinyl set coming in early 2023.The theme is gorgeous, and builds to a crescendo that explodes into a gloriously melodic piece. Looking forward to the full score. And that’s about it this time around, see you all soon.