Another new batch of soundtrack releases have landed on digital platforms, which are varied and entertaining for the most part. One that I was drawn to straight away is Bear McCreary’s We Have a Ghost. Which is a Netflix film and will start to stream on February 24th, as always McCreary has produced a great score for this comedy, family, adventure which tells the story of the Presley family who are looking for a new start and move to Chicago and into a dusty and dilapidated house that is in need of care and attention.
They soon realize that this house comes with a catch: in the form of a ghost in the attic named Ernest (David Harbour). Despite Ernest’s attempts at scaring teenage son Kevin (Jahi Winston), the detached, music-obsessed teen soon finds a kindred spirit in this trapped soul from the ’70s and commits to helping him. Meanwhile, Kevin’s affable-yet-harsh father Frank (Anthony Mackie) looks to cash in on the presence of Ernest by turning him into a social media sensation.
When Frank’s video of Ernest goes viral and captures the world’s attention, the family lands on the radar of Dr. Leslie Monroe (Tig Notaro), a washed-up paranormal scientist who alerts her old boss, Deputy Director Arnold Schipley of the CIA (Steve Coulter), restarting a clandestine program aimed at capturing a ghost. As crowds, reporters, and government agents descend upon the Presley home, it’s up to Kevin and his sharp-witted, fellow outcast neighbour Joy (Isabella Russo) to break Ernest out, uncover the mysteries of his past, and bring him the closure he needs before it’s too late. It sounds like quite a ride does’nt it and McCreary’s music kind of reflects this, with fast paced cues and action packed compositions running throughout.
Its quite a relentless work, not taking any time hardly to catch its breath, but this is the appeal I think it just don’t give up or give in, and also its thematic, as in its sounds like something out of the late 80’s and early 90’s big orchestral flourishes, which are led and dominated by swirling, romantic and stabbing strings which are fully supported and driven along at break neck speed by rasping and at times screaming brass with the support of thundering and booming percussion.
This is an enjoyable work; it is a thrilling as well as a comedic sounding musical romp. It’s not often that McCreary writes for comedy, but wow he sure does know how to work his musical magic here. Recommended.
Based on Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriðason’s novel, Operation Napoleon focuses upon a lawyer who becomes embroiled in an international conspiracy after being accused of a murder she didn’t commit. Her only chance of survival lies in uncovering the secret of an old German World War II airplane, discovered on Iceland’s largest glacier. This is a tense and taught thriller, which has a musical score that builds even more apprehension and creates anxious and at times frustrating moods.
The music is by Frank Hall a composer/musician who studied music and art at the Royal Conservatory and The Royal Academy in Den Haag in The Netherlands. He graduated with a Master’s degree in 2006. Frank also graduated from the University of Iceland with a BA in Philosophy in the year 1998. Frank has composed music for five feature films, Black’s Game, Julia, The Granddad, I Remember You and Albanian Gangster. Frank was nominated for the best score at the Icelandic Film and TV awards for Black’s Game, and received the award for the best score for Julia at the Scream fest festival in Los Angeles.
He was nominated for the music of the year for Theatre and Film music in The Icelandic Music Awards for the fearsome sounding score to I Remember You back in 2018 (another of his soundtracks you should take a listen to) Frank has worked on numerous theatre and dance productions, by himself or with his bands, Ske and Skarren ekkert. Among them are Óhapp in the Icelandic National Theatre, Blasted, Faust, Der Besuch Der Alten Dame in the Reykjavík City Theatre, A Man Called Ove at the National Theatre, The Cherry Orchard with theatre Frú Emilía, NPK with the Icelandic Dance Company and Dubbeldusch with Akureyri Theatre company. His score for Operation Napoleon, is not a work that I would say is overly thematic, but it is a score that underlines and punctuates an already edgy storyline, augmenting and giving additional depth and atmospherics to the proceedings, it is certainly worth checking out.
Composer Daniel Pemberton returned for season two of Apple TV’s successful show Slow Horses, which also contains music by Toydrum, the score for the series is probably one of Pemberton’s most atmospheric, the composer fashioning affecting pieces that are overflowing with pulsating sounds and dark electronic elements.
It does at times verge upon sounding almost industrial, which little nods here and there to maybe Morricone that evoke that composers work on movies such as A Man to Respect, there is no doubt that Pemberton is such a talented music-smith, creating inventive and innovative styles and sounds, and every so often he introduces a theme which the listener immediately latches onto, with this project being no exception to that rule. Take a listen.
Step by Step is a 2022 documentary film that follows two dreamers – one of them pregnant – and a dog on an odyssey to bring harmony to their lives and the land surrounding them. The pregnancy of Valentina leads to a lot of unanswered questions for the two so they decide to leave to hectic life in Berlin and move to the countryside. Stepping out of the hamster wheel of modern urbanization means mainly being sustainable and maybe even off-grid for them… so growing their own food was a dream they pursued. The land they’ve chosen, however, is utterly depleted of nutrients and suffering from multiple droughts.
The film chronicles over one year of daunting work and trial and error attempts to create the utopia they seek.
Composer Anna Kuhlein has created an emotive and poignant score for the film, the music subtly weaves in and out of the film never overpowering but always adding a positive and delicate touch, the composer employing light piano and a small string section to fashion sounds that are fragile and heart-warming and music that is endearing and affecting. Recommended.
Django the TV series arrives soon on Sky, the Sky original series is about a jaded cowboy in search for the daughter he thought he lost. He stumbles upon a town called New Babylon where all outcasts are welcome, and everyone is equal and free. Django discovers that his 20-year-old daughter Sarah is alive and set to marry John Ellis, the founder of New Babylon. Sarah – who blames her father for the death of their family, massacred many years earlier while he was at war – wants Django to leave. But he refuses to give up and does everything in his power to get a second chance with her, becoming a valuable ally for Ellis, who must defend the town from Elizabeth Thurman’s attacks. Unbeknownst to them, Django, John and Sarah are linked by a web of secrets and a dark past bound to resurface. Sounds interesting, a little different from the original Franco Nero movie, and bares little resemblance to the Tarantino incarnation of the tale, but maybe that’s a good thing as it’s a new and fresh re-telling of the story. Music is by Italian band Mokadelic, who I suppose could be described as a wannabee-Goblin, and have written the scores to a number of TV series and motion pictures. If you are looking for any feint nods to the original Django score then I have to say you will be a little disappointed.
The music or should I say soundscape is I think rather bland, weak and uninspiring, and not that original to be honest, I am not saying it’s a bad score because it has its moments but to be honest not that many, the band utilising guitar, to create a folk sounding vibe, adding banjo and percussive elements to enhance this making it more western sounding and effective, but it’s nothing special and honestly instantly forgettable. Its not a score that boasts that many themes, as most melodic moments are very brief and have little time to develop into something more substantial.
Apart from in the cues The Rise of New Babylon-Strings version, and Secrets and Snakes when a theme is introduced and expanded upon, the latter evoking the opening music for High Plains Drifter, having to it an otherworldly persona. So, for most of its duration the score is action led and at times annoyingly synth based, it has more sounds and layers than melodies and colours, not really one for me.
…. 1952. Jamaica. When author Ian Fleming needs a name for his suave, sophisticated secret agent, he steals one from an unaware birdwatcher and creates a pop-culture phenomenon about the ultimate fictional alpha male. 2022 and it is the year of 007’s sixtieth anniversary onscreen and Australian filmmaker Matthew Bauer is on a global mission to discover the lasting, contrasting and very personal impacts of sharing such an identity with James Bond. From a Swedish 007 super-fan with a WW2 past, a gay New York theatre director, an African American Bond accused of murder, and two resilient women caught up in it all, Bauer’s cinematic mission is an audacious, poignant, and insightful examination of masculinity, gender, and race in the very real shadows of a movie icon. That’s the synopsis of the 2022 documentary The Other Fellow, that is scored skilfully by composer Alastair MacNamara, in fact on listening to his music for the film, I would say to the producers of the Bond franchise hey sign him up, there are many references to the sound of 007 but these are not done in an obvious way the composer also placing his own original musical identity within the score.
Which is great as so many other composers would have just thought ok lets do a Barry or an Arnold, but instead he has fashioned a wonderfully melodic and totally enthralling soundtrack which maybe has its roots in Bond but also has a voice of its own, horns, bombastic sounding percussion, dark and moody passages, and tense pieces that ooze apprehension and a suave and sophisticated air all make an appearance. This is a superb soundtrack that is a seamless fusion of conventional and synthetic instrumentation. Please go and check it out on digital platforms and whilst doing so take a listen to the composers score for The Seabird too.
Five nuns set their sights on winning the cash prize in a major cycling race to raise money to renovate a dilapidated hospice. The only hitch is that none of them can ride a bicycle. And there you have the plot for the comedy Juste Ciel, music is by composer Mathieu Lamboley (Lupin, Madam Bovary), who treats us to a score that seems to have no boundaries musically by this I mean it is a work of great variety, the composer utilising so many styles and genres of music throughout.
One minute we are hearing a romantic sounding theme and in the next instant the music and mood is altered with a pop orientated track, which again then alters just a little way down the line into something completely different such as an easy-going disco track or a flamenco slanted piece. This is an entertaining and an inventive score, the composer also bringing choral features into the work here and there which add a sense of pathos and delicacy. Well worth a listen, I loved it. Well that’s all for now More new releases soon.