Amongst the soundtrack releases this month is the music from the re- telling of the story of Prancer, which is a new movie that will be released for the Christmas holidays, the original movie was on our screens back in the 1980’s and just as I thought I was recovering from that emotional experience what do they do yes, they go and make another. The score this time is the work of one of the most talented composers in the business, Mark McKenzie. He has fashioned a score that just melts you as soon as you hear it and that’s without even seeing the movie. Mark is such a brilliant composer, he has the ability to create consistently wonderfully thematic and melodic pieces, that underline, punctuate and enhance each project, adding depth, atmosphere, melancholy, and that little bit of magic that we often find in film music. The score, which is available on digital platforms, is already becoming one of my favourites, and as the festive season edges ever closer music such as this is most welcome.

There is a warmth and a feeling of goodness that radiates from the composers score, it is a soundtrack that not only works incredibly well with the images and the storyline but also has the ability to entertain and be affecting when listened to on its own as music. But this is true of so many of the composer’s works for TV and film.

Please take a listen to this bright, beautiful, delicate, and poignant work, that is not only superbly written and performed, but is overflowing with fragility and mesmerizing affecting tone poems, that are haunting and truly heart breaking as well as soul warming.  Highly recommended.

Movie Score media have released two very different scores this month, The Estate by Will Bates and The Pay Day by Daisy Coole, Tom Nettleship and Two Twenty-Two. The latter movie is a crime thriller which focuses upon a broke and frustrated IT technician (Kyla Frye) who decides to embark on a one-woman heist to steal valuable data worth millions on the black market.

Like most good heist/crime thrillers, it’s more about the individual characters who feel neglected in society. Frye’s character is being evicted, and she feels that the whole world is against her and maybe owes her a living? When the opportunity to steal data comes her way she sees it as a chance for her to make it big. When a suave conman (Sam Benjamin) interrupts her mission to steal the loot for himself, matters begin to get ever more complicated. It’s good to see Simon Callow in the cast, and the score moves things along nicely as the plot opens up and proceeds. It’s a jazzy, and funky score for the most part, contemporary sounding and gives nods to the likes of Lalo Schifrin (Bullit, Dirty Harry), Don Ellis (French Connection), Sid Ramin (Stiletto) or maybe Quincy Jones, (The Heist).

There are a handful of more subdued moments which have affiliations to a style that Michel Legrand employed back in the 1960’s. But in the main this is a soundtrack that could easily be for a 1970’s Blaxplotation movie such as Cleopatra Jones or even one of the Shaft spin offs. If you like your music jazz influenced and laced with funky vibes but at the same time dramatic and slightly romantic, then this is one for you. Available via MSM on digital platforms.

The Estate is also a score that has its fair share of upbeat moments as composer Will Bates scores the comedic goings on that involve two sisters as they attempt to win over their terminally ill, difficult-to-please Aunt in hopes of becoming the beneficiaries of her wealthy estate, only to find the rest of their greedy family members have the same idea.

The score is a fusion of styles, jazz influences filtering through as the composer creates a collection of interesting and inventive compositions which at times sound like big band and at others slip into that easy listening lounge Italian giallo sounding jazz that we know and love so much. The composer at times fielding a samba type percussive sound, to great effect in tracks such as Front Porch Punch Up. I really enjoyed this score, it’s a work that one can pop on and get so much out of. Again, on digital platforms, give it a spin.

Two New York Times reporters break one of the most important stories in a generation – a story that helped ignite a movement and shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood. She Said is I think a brave movie, and one that everyone should see, directed by Maria Schrader and written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, based on the 2019 book by reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.

The film stars Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as Twohey and Kantor, respectively, and follows the New York Times investigation that exposed Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuse and sexual misconduct against women. Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher, Jennifer Ehle, and Samantha Morton co-star, with Ashley Judd appearing as herself.

The film is sensitively scored by composer Nicholas Britell, who’s music although present never gets in the way, never overpowers but accentuates and gives support when and where it is needed. Nicholas Britell is known for his critically acclaimed scores on feature films with Academy Award winning writer-directors Barry Jenkins and Adam McKay. In 2016, Britell was responsible for the world-renowned score for Best Picture winner Moonlight, written and directed by Jenkins. Britell received his first Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Critics’ Choice nominations for Moonlight as well as the 2016 Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Score (Dramatic Feature).

The year prior, he wrote the score for McKay’s much-nominated The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis’s best-selling book. In 2018, Britell wrote the highly acclaimed score for Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk. Britell received his second Academy Award nomination as well as BAFTA and Critics’ Choice nominations for the Beale Street score and was awarded Best Original Score by numerous critics’ groups, including LA, Boston, Chicago, and Washington DC Film Critics Associations, New York Film Critics Online, and the Online Film Critics Association. In 2018, he also wrote the score for McKay’s Vice, starring Christian Bale, which went on to receive eight Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. Britell’s more recent film work include writing the score and co-writing and producing two original songs for McKay’s Netflix comedy Don’t Look Up starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence.

He has also recently worked on the TV series Andor for Disney and created an atmospheric and infectious soundtrack for another Disney production Cruella. If by chance you have not yet experienced the music of Nicholas Britell go to a digital platform right now type in his name and be amazed.

Presence is a new horror movie, the plot concentrates upon two young business partners who are invited on a week-long yachting voyage with a potential investor. At night, one of the girls Jennifer begins to have vivid dreams that start to filter into reality. As the others on the voyage start to realize that Jennifer may have unknowingly brought something sinister and malevolent on-board things take an horrific turn. The visceral and at times Herrmann-esque sounding score is by Andrew Morgan Smith who establishes a harrowing and unsettling musical persona within the movie, via electronic instrumentation chilling strings and sinister and foreboding sounds.

The dark and brooding style becomes the order of the day, elevating the already tense and jumpy tale. The score although being largely atonal is still melodic in places which is something the composer also did on his soundtracks for Jeepers Creepers 3 and You Might be the Killer, check those out too on the likes of Spotify along with Presence, go on have an Andrew Morgan Smith fest if you dare.

The ever-industrious Netflix will in December begin to stream filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s dark re-imagining of Pinocchio, which has a score by French Maestro Alexandre Desplat.  A three-track single has been released on digital platforms and from what I have heard on that single I cannot wait for the entire soundtrack to get a release (hopefully on CD). The three tracks one of which is a charming song entitled Cio Papa performed by Gregory Mann are all a wonderfully enchanting listen and I know the remainder of the composers score will be just as rich and melodic.

In the last soundtrack supplement I spoke about The Land of Dreams which had a score and also lyrics by the highly talented Fabrizio Mancinelli, the compose has another score out right now from Plaza Mayor publishing which is from the movie Jailbird,(La Lunga Corsa) now this is something totally different from The Land of Dreams, but is also brilliantly conceived and written, the music which is made up of choral performances and instrumental compositions is quite stunning, and listening to this and then recalling The Land of Dreams it shows off the versatility and also the originality of this composer.

Jailbird is a film that tells the story of Giacinto who is a young man that was born in jail:and he lives through his childhood there with his mother. Prison is where he learns how to walk, or rather run. When he gets “released” due to a law, a jail guard called Jack who is grumpy but has a kind heart walks him out. A young, energetic and patient priest, Father Aldo, welcomes Giacinto to a foster home, where he feels he just doesn’t belong and begins to be bullied. The young man decides that prison is probably the best place for him or at least it is the environment that he is more comfortable in as he can always run and hide away from any dangers or things that are bothering him. Whenever he can, he rushes to his mother… until that is she is no longer there to run to.  He goes back to prison when he is an adult but not as an inmate but as a prison guard, he is surprised but pleased to see that Jack is still there, so Giacinto gets to know him well. The developing friendship unearths both the positive and negative sides of Jack’s personality.

However, Giacinto’s friendliness towards the inmates at the prison lands him in trouble. And how can he run in a true marathon when he’s on house arrest in the jail’s lodgings? This is an interesting movie which is assisted greatly by its wonderful score, the soundtrack is available now on digital platforms, it maybe quite a brief musical encounter with a duration of just over eight minutes but it is certainly a rewarding one, recommended.

Anne Nikitin is featuring regularly now in soundtrack supplements, and rightly so as her music for me is probably the most alluring and effective at this moment in time, her latest assignment is for the Netflix series Our Universe, which is a six part series that follows different aspects of the natural world, from an expansive look into the origin of the Universe, to life on planet Earth and how its oceans function. Narrated by the actor Morgan Freeman.The music is wonderfully thematic and oozes a sophistication and also a quality that it is hard to come across these days in music for film and TV. The accomplished score is the work of both Anne Nikitin and Jessica Jones and it is filled with so many rich and vibrant compositions, that are haunting affecting and innovative.

The composers create a varied selection of themes and employ a plethora of styles throughout, these include delicate and emotive pieces such as Elephant Waltz, and cues that are ethnically laced as in A Long Time Ago, and the superbly affecting The Earth Spins with melancholy sounding cello and piano opening the proceedings to which lush sounding strings are added, to create a special moment musically (for me anyway).

This is a beautiful score and one that you must listen to, available now on digital platforms. Another score by one of the composers of Our Universe is Red Rose which has music by Jessica Jones, this is for the BBC TV series which has been on BBC four and also on the BBC I player and has proved popular amongst horror fans and others.

Jones has co-written the dark and brooding score with Tim Morrish, and together they have fashioned an effective and particularly unsettling soundtrack for a series that is equally unnerving and harrowing. Set over a long hot summer following high school, a group of teens friendships are infiltrated by the Red Rose app, which blooms on their smartphones, threatening them with dangerous consequences if they don’t meet its demands.

The app exposes the group to a seemingly supernatural entity and the seductive power of the dark web. It is I have to say quite a disturbing watch. The score is available on Spotify (of course other digital platforms are available try and avoid the apps though), and although this is a largely atonal work, I found it an interesting listening experience, with the multi styled and experimental sounds that the composers have brought to fruition via synths and samples.

A short while ago I mentioned Glass Onion A Knives out Mystery, as the theme for the movie had been released on digital platforms, I pleased to say that the score is now also available and the music by Nathan Johnson, is like the opening theme filled with mystery and intrigue, but also has to it a mischievous slightly comedic side to it, let’s put it this way if you liked Knives Out well you are going to go into raptures over this, it is a supremely mesmerizing work, the composer creating a landslide of themes and employing a diverse array of styles, making it I think one of the must have soundtracks of 2022. It’s a fusion of Herrmann, Williams, Barry, and Goldsmith, so its good then? Please check this out A.S.A.P.

A score that I have been waiting for is Wednesday from the Netflix TV series, the story is from the mind of Tim Burton, but the music is from the genus that is Danny Elfman who on this occasion is assisted by Chris Bacon.

Right from the opening bars of the Main Title I was hooked by the dark and mischievous sounds that Elfman has created for this Addams Family spin off. There is a nod to the original sound of the Addams family as created many years ago by composer Vic Mizzy, Elman utilising a flourish of harpsichord but also adding his own unique sounds and quirky style to the proceedings, the harpsichord is just a flicker of four maybe five notes but it is enough for the listener to hear that snappy and rhythmic song from the 1960’s. Saying that the score for the series is not just an entertaining one, but a rewarding work for the listener, as it is quite relentless (not in a frenzied way) but more in the inclusion of so many cheeky and affecting themes to latch onto and enjoy. Fully symphonic as far as I can hear overflowing with dramatics and teaming with lush and spidery sounding tones, it is just great.

This is a marvelously entertaining work, and the series too is certainly worth watching. Elfman and Bacon’s score enhances, punctuates and adds much to the on-screen goings on, supporting and also becoming part of the action, as the composers underline and give depth and a greater atmospheric to the proceedings.

The score is available on all digital platforms and has a running time of nearly ninety minutes, a welcomed release that is filled with the familiar Elman irreverent but effective little nuances and quirks. Probably one of his best scores in recent years. Highly recommended.  

Henry Jackman

Henry Jackman is a composer who works steadily in Hollywood scoring a wide variety of movies, his most recent is the Disney animated film Strange World, Jackman has provided the movie with a fun sounding score, and for the most part it is a symphonic work,.

Jackman fashions Indiana Jones like themes and purveys a sense of mystery whilst at the same time underling the storyline with adventurous and sweeping themes. His pulsating and driving soundtrack is available now on the likes of Apple and Spotify, so what more could you want a Disney animated feature with a score that has as many twists and turns as the storyline, so go find it and enjoy.

Netflix are streaming Robbing Mussolini, which is an entertaining tale that involves a Milanese wartime entrepreneur forming a band of misfits and rogues to stage an elaborate heist of a legendary treasure belonging to Benito Mussolini. The music is by electronic musician David Holmes, now normally I would probably side-step his work as I am not really into artistes that I remember for doing re-mixes etc for bands such as Primal Scream.

But wait a minute I thought, let’s not be too blinkered here, so I took a listen, and I was pleasantly surprised, the music although created electronically or at least I think it is, has to it a definite Morricone sound, and I found myself appreciating the composers nod to the Maestro’s Citta Violenta, or including a section that could easily be the work of Italian composer by Bruno Nicolai? And before I knew it the score had finished and I really loved it, it’s probably not that original as in many of the sounds and the way in which they are utilised are familiar or at least forms of them, but in the entertainment depart its fantastic. Check this out on digital platforms, also take a listen to Holmes’s music for This England.

Also available this month on CD is Deathcember, music from the anthology of twenty-four films that look at the dark side of the festive season. Twenty-four international directors with the most diverse ideas and styles; linked by short-animated segments that deal with the Advent calendar itself. The film features the work of several composers with The Deathcember Main Theme” and “Suite” written by award-winning composer Andrew Scott Bell, performed by the Budapest Scoring Orchestra with Péter Illényi conducting, featuring oboe soloist Judit Borzsonyi, and clarinet soloist Gyorgy Ree.

The melodic and sweeping opening theme adds the perfect sense of enchantment and wonder for the advent season. In addition, Andrew Scott Bell composes the transition suites. The individual segment scores are a brilliant mix of amazing international talent from Belgium, Canada, Germany, Serbia, UK, and USA. among others, showcasing the talents of composers, Stephan Nicolas, Nemanja Mosurovic, Jeffrey Peter Mayhew, The NightStalker, Michael Kaufmann, Eduardo Daniel Victoria, Steffen Britzke, Dag Lerner, Nikola Nikita Jeremic, Medhat Hanbali, Erik Lutz, Peter Litvin, Dirk Steffan Buro, and Michael Kohlbecker. Available and shipping now.

Well, that’s it for now,

Soundtrack Supplement Seventy Three just before Christmas…


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