New releases thus far into 2023 are very promising, we have Trevor Rabin’s soundtrack to National Treasure Edge of History, which is a fantastic score, its apprehensive and dramatic but also upbeat and thematic, with some nice Hispanic touches, so a winner all round in my eyes. At times it resembles a Bond score, with tense strings and little rifts from guitar scattered here and there, the composer applying tense and uneasy moods throughout, which do occasionally move up a gear and into a more up-tempo style.

I found it to be a great listen and as music within the Disney + series works so well elevating already potent scenarios, largely realized via strings or maybe synth strings with brass flourishes and pulsating percussive elements this is an interesting score, and I would recommend you take a listen, there are a handful of cues by Paul Linford, but these are on a par with those written by Rabin and in keeping with the remainder of the score stylistically. If you enjoyed the composer’s scores for the movies then you will also be thoroughly entertained by this. Available now to watch on Disney + and the music is on digital platforms. 

Animation next and a comedy adventure Pattie et la Colere di Poseidon which has a score penned by  Olivier Cussac, which is another varied and at times upbeat score, I think animation gives any composer a chance to go over the top and let loose with all sorts of musical ideas, and this is no exception, it’s a work that certainly encompasses an abundance of styles and also yields some really affecting and haunting moments, the composer utilizing choir and strings to great effect at certain points within the score. Here are also mini rock influenced cues as the score progresses, and the whole score has a feel good vibe to it. One to check out, the score is available from Music Box records and on digital platforms.

Kangaroo Valley is a nature documentary, about a young kangaroo joey called Mala, learning what it takes to survive her incredible first year. Only one in five joeys make it to their first birthday. Mala’s greatest enemy is the dingo pack that stalks her family. This Netflix film is scored with emotion and sensitivity by H. Scott Salinas and Logan Stahley, who collaborated on Rust Creek and for me it is probably one of the most refreshing and vibrant scores I have sat and listened to this month, orchestral, and electronic elements meet, and flawlessly combine to create a beautifully thematic work, that contains so many different colours and textures it is difficult to believe that all of the marvellously affecting music is from just one documentary. The composers also employ voice’s that just enhance further the delicate and fragile persona of the score.

The documentary is made by American and Australian production companies, and contains visually stunning landscapes and vistas, its one you should make a point of watching to appreciate just how good the music is and how it drives, punctuates, and elevates the events on screen.  Available on digital platforms, take a listen.

Silva Screen Records will digitally release Nainita Desai’s soundtrack to BBC One Thriller Crossfire on 24th Feburary 2023. Starring Bodyguard and Line of Duty star Keeley Hawes, this three-part high-octane drama follows the story of Jo (Hawes) and her family and friends, as their world is turned upside down by a terrorist attack on the holiday complex where they are staying. Desai’s atmospheric score served the drama well, and underlined perfectly the harrowing events that were being acted out on screen.

Ôyukiumi no Kaina or Kaina of the Great Snow Sea is a two-part animated fantasy TV series from Japan. Set In a world that is enveloped in snow and has canopies reaching to the sky, two people from different communities make an encounter that changes history. The powerful musical score is the work of composers, Misaki Umase and Kohta Yamamoto, at least that is what it says on the film credits but on the soundtrack Umase is not credited, and another composer Hiroyuki Sawano is given the credit? And by the look of things on the track listings each composer contributed their own cues separately.

The first half of the soundtrack being the work of Sawano and from cue five most of the compositions are by Yamamoto, (confusing isn’t it). There are a handful tracks that are credited in Japanese so maybe these are by Umase?

Anyway, this is a great score, sounds as if it realised via symphonic and synthetic performances, it is a commanding and mostly action led score, with sweeping themes and dark sounding passages, I would just go check it out and make up your own mind about this one. It’s on digital platforms.  

As is the brilliant soundtrack to the Polish whodunnit, comedy, murder, mystery and all round gripping and entertaining movie Niebezpieczni dzentelmeni (Dangerous Gentlemen). I will say right now this is a fantastically inventive score and its one that once heard you will not want to be without.

There is just so much going on within the work that you just don’t get time to stop and think because once you have listened to one entertaining cue the next is up and running.  Composer Lukasz Targosz (Broad Peak, All my Friends are Dead) serves up a veritable smorgasbord of styles and sounds, each composition being more affecting as the score moves forward.  

The score is literally overflowing with energy and rich with haunting themes, and brimming with quirky and expressive comedic passages, thus making it one of the most inventive and original soundtracks that I have heard for a long time. I don’t like it, I love it, go and check it out now. On digital platforms. You will I know just adore this.

El Fred Que Crema-The Burning Gold is a 2022 release which explores a little-known aspect of World War II Jewish diaspora: the escape of Jews through Andorra, a micro sovereign country in the Pyrenees Mountain range of the Iberian Peninsula.

Music is by Spanish composer Francesc Gener, there is a wealth of diverse musical styles employed within the score, with effective use of percussion and electronic support which are heard alongside a number of solo violin and cello performances which add emotion and heart to the work, the score is released digitally and whilst there I would recommend you also check out the composers releases Film Works vol 1 and 2.

These contain themes from a further eleven movies as composed by Gener and are a worthy addition to any self-respecting soundtrack aficionado’s collection. I was particularly drawn to his music from Occhi di Cristallo, which has to it a Morricone air, and hints of the darker side of both Goldsmith and Herrmann, it is an edgy yet quietly understated work. The two volumes of music are like a breath of fresh air, and a glimpse into the innovative musical world of a composer I like to think we will be hearing a lot more of.

Another composer that seems to be making an impression is Erwann Kermorvant, his score for the 2012 comedy Bowling has been released on digital platforms, as well as his music from Ma Premiere Fois also from 2012, both are via Plaza Mayor Publishing. But when you go to his credits list you will see that he is a composer that has been active for a good many years writing music that has to it a rich theme led persona and film scores that have the ability to add depth, and a greater atmosphere to each project no matter what genre.

An interesting soundtrack signed by the composer is Mais Qui a Tue Pamela Rose? aka Bullit and Riper was released in 2003 this comedy thriller, introduces us to FBI agents, Bullit and Riper  who are investigating the murder of the young stripper Pamela Rose, who has been found murdered in a hotel room in Bornsville, a small and quite ordinary American city. The composer’s music is key to the movie, creating wonderfully dramatic undercurrents that punctuate and elevate each scenario, at times the music sounds serious, almost epic, but this I think is why the film and the score work so well together, the composer at times scoring away from the obvious comedic situations with an action led piece or a highly dramatic passage, and by doing this making the comedy elements of the storyline even more hilarious.

Comedy is probably one of the most difficult genres to score, but in this case it just works. The composer providing us with a tense, melancholy and at times over the top and luxurious sounding soundtrack that successfully, underlines and supports throughout. It’s worth checking this out, and whilst you are investigating the composers works on the likes of Spotify check out a few of his other scores. The movie Bowling was released in 2012, and its score has only just (thanks to Plaza Mayor) made it to digital platforms, the film focuses upon an HR director who is sent by central government to restructure a hospital in the city of Carhaix in Brittany.

This task it seems involves having to close the loss-making maternity unit. Four women of different ages, backgrounds and convictions form a united front to defend the maternity unit. It is I am informed based upon true events, which involve the staff going on strike in a fashion that only the French and Bretons can. The story displays how such resistance can bring to the surface feelings of regional pride that the central French government has spent the last 400 years or so trying, not very successfully, to obliterate. And instead of quelling it just add fuel to the fire. The score is a delight, it’s a soundtrack that one can put on and are never tempted to skip it forward, you just want to savour every charming and beautifully crafted and performed moment.

There are a variety of styles utilised within the score, and at times I must say I did hear little Horner-esque moments which were certainly welcome. Also, the composer makes effective use of the Binioù (Brittany’s version of the Bagpipes) which are entertaining and stirring. Add to this a Gaelic flavour via a penny whistle sound and upbeat percussion with string accompaniment, and what we have here is an entertaining and marvellously infectious sound.

There are also a number of delicate moments which are performed by piano and solo violin, that purvey an air of fragility. The composer also makes good use of brass, and timpani to further embellish the proceedings. This is a must have score, please check it out ASAP.

From the same year we have  Ma Premiere Fois, which is a romantic drama in which we see Zachary a 20-year-old who is a typical rebellious young man, who collects amorous conquests and school failures. Sarah is 18 years old. Top of her class and fragile, she fills her emotional gaps with perfect control over her life. Nothing should have brought them together, but beyond their fears, their differences and hardships, they will embark on and live an intense love story. Again, this is another score that is late to be available digitally, and again via Plaza Mayor Publishing, the music is as light as air and filled with delightful and exquisitely melodic tone poems. It is a simple but affecting work, a touching and poignant soundtrack that makes use of strings, piano, and woods. With heartfelt cello performances in cues such as April’s Fools and The First Time. The composer providing the movie with subtle melancholy passages that are emotive and mesmerizing.

On listening through for the first time I did detect gentle nods to the likes of Georges Delerue and Philippe Rombi with a faint hint of the romantic side of John Barry on occasion, whether these were intentional I do not know, the composer fashioning sensitive and absorbing motifs and nuances that tug at the listeners heart strings. It is a superb score and one that you should add to your collection.  

Narrated by Brendan Gleeson, produced by RTÉ in partnership with University College Cork as part of the Decade of Centenary commemorations and based on UCC’s “mammoth and magnificent Atlas of the Irish Revolution, three-part documentary series The Irish Civil War tells the epic and often challenging story of the origins, conflict and legacy of the civil war that took place in Ireland in 1922 and 1923. 

Broadcast across three consecutive nights (Sunday 11th, Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th December 2022), the documentary series features extensive archive film footage, photographs and materials, interviews with leading academics, archive interviews with contemporary participants and witnesses, first hand witness accounts read by actors – including Peter Coonan, Tim Creed, Marty Rea, and Orla Wehrly, detailed and dynamic graphic maps based on those featured in the Atlas of the Irish Revolution, and stunning cinematography of the very locations where events took place. 

The music is by Natasa Paulberg an award-winning Australian/Irish composer with compositions for the concert hall, television, film, advertising and gaming is. Natasa, has scored numerous projects including the acclaimed The Hunger documentary, which was narrated by Liam Neeson, and performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the National Australia Bank What do you want? advertising campaign and Screen Ireland’s Irish Stories on Screen promotional trailer. She has won two Best Original Score awards for the film The Yellow Dress, Best Original Score and Best Music Award from the International Sound & Film Music Festival for The Hunger and has been nominated for two Jerry Goldsmith Awards in music for film and advertising. Natasa’s piece Atomic Hope, performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, was premiered at the New Music Dublin 2021 festival and the documentary feature was premiered at HotDocs 2022.

Her music for The Irish Civil War is powerful and dramatic, and contains colours and textures that purvey apprehension, sorrow, hope and futility. It has to it a dark and at times a sombre persona but is an affecting and effective soundtrack to a documentary that is worth watching. I recommend that you take a listen available now on the likes of Apple and Spotify.

Dennis McCarthy’s music from the TV series Sliders is now available on digital platforms, the eighteen-track album that includes selections from the composers score runs for just over forty minutes.

Also on digital is a thirteen-track edition of Ken Thorne’s score for the 1982 TV movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as well as his score for the 1985 Jackie Chan thriller The Protector. Also on digital platforms is a compilation entitled, The Legend of Ennio Morricone, which is basically a collection of the best of Morricone, but all tracks are mediocre cover versions, with awful sound quality, or maybe its just a budget price synth backing track, that is acting as a lack lustre background to the flute solos of Claudio Ferrarini, either way please do not insult the Maestro by even listening to this second rate recording, it is in a word disappointing and that is being overly polite. Sorry but what were thinking when they did this, who needs cover versions of Ennio Morricone these days, in fact did we ever need them?  

Italian soundtracks are getting released on digital platforms at a rate of knots recently, and unlike the re-issue program in Italy for compacts discs the Digital market seems to be faring a little better because a great many that are being issued digitally have not been issued before. For example, a re-mastered edition of the Carlo Rustichelli score for the 1965 movie Letti Sbagliati is available this month on Spotify.

Rustichelli’s score is jazz influenced, with hard hitting big band sounds as well as shakes and twists, alongside which he serves up luxurious sounding strings and soaring trumpet solos as well as his signature organ and mysterious strings, its an entertaining score and nice to have in this re-mastered form. This and Carlo Savina’s score for the crime thriller, Ordine Firmato in Bianco (1974), which is also available in re-mastered form are worthy Italian scores to be added to your collection.

Both were originally owned by CAM and have been re-issued or released because of the Sugar music takeover of the CAM catalogue.

Another Italian score by a well-known composer that makes it to digital platforms is Frittata all’italiana a comedy from 1976, with music penned by Alessandro Alessandroni, it is released on Four Flies records.  That’s it for now…. Happy listening.

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