Category Archives: REVIEWS IN BRIEF.

WILDWITCH.

 

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Movie score media is a label that I always look to for unusual and interesting releases, they always seem to be able to come up with a release that is by a composer I have not heard of, and every time I discover more wonderful music on investigating the composer further. One of the labels most recent releases is for a movie entitled WILDWITCH, as you can probably gather from the title it is something of a mysterious and magical film and one which contains a musical score that is not only attractive and inventive but is also a work that is overflowing with themes and has a rich and alluring musical identity. The score is the work of FLEMMING NORDKROG, a young Danish composer. The soundtrack has been released at the same time as the film is in theatres in Denmark and Germany, WILDWITCH is a family movie but it is still filled with a lot of magical hocus pocus which is based upon the book series by author Lene Kaaberbol. The story focuses upon a twelve year old girl who’s name is Clara.

Gerda Langkilde Lie Kaas som Clara. Vildheks.

 

She lives a normal life until one day is scratched by a black cat. Soon after Clara comes to the realisation that she is able to communicate with the feline, and also discovers that she has a family all of whom are wild witches, Clara and her new found family have a strong tie to the world of animals and also to nature in general. Her Auntie Isa becomes her mentor and together with her and her friends Clara has to face what is coming to her in her life. She starts on a perilous journey as she has to save herself and the entire wild world from the clutches of the evil witch called Bavita Bloodyoung. The soundtrack is an interesting one and the composer fashions some really innovative and haunting moments within the score, his use of voices and half heard sounds within the score is stunning and mesmerising. This is no ordinary soundtrack it is an intelligent and outstanding work which has to it a fragility but t the same time succeeds in making one feel slightly uncomfortable.

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There is a finely tuned and subtle style present within the work, mysterious and organic the music seems to caress and envelope rather than punctuate and underline. Female voice accompanies the central character Clara, which is further enhanced by the use of cello, bass and woodwind giving it an ethereal sound that is wonderfully touching and emotive. The use of various sounds within the score is breathtaking, they purvey senses, moods and atmospheres that are magical. I enjoyed the score very much and I returned to it three times listening out for things I maybe had missed. Certainly one to check out.

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VENOM.

 

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I don’t know about you, but I loved the score for BLACK PANTHER, I also thought that the understated score for the re-boot of DEATH WISH was pretty good as well, so I for one was pleased to hear that the composer who worked on both was to score VENOM. Ludwig Goransson fashioned some funky themes for BLACK PANTHER and fused these up-tempo pieces with some interesting conventional sounding film music. When he scored CREED, he pulled out all the stops and blew me away with his re-working of the Rocky theme and his original material for the score was awesome. VENOM is the latest in the never-ending cycle of superhero movies, Goransson has scored the film and I have to say that there are a few moments which I found original and sections that I considered were ok. However, for the most part the score kind of goes down the route of musical noises or even un-musical noises, the composer relying more upon sounds, pulses or beats to create atmospheres and moods for the picture, yes I realise that this is probably more of a horror film than a superhero movie, but you know I don’t really get the difference sometimes.

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The composer has I have to say disappointed me more than surprised or entertained me with this his latest offering. There are some high-octane powerhouse moments within the score,  as in PEDAL TO THE METAL but these are often, interrupted or overpowered using the electronic and the synthetic never allowing anything vaguely musical to develop. Yes I know this is an action movie, but there should be room for a theme here and there or at least a hint of one. The manufactured sounds or samples are just grating and seem to be more so in this case, working against the remainder of the score, the noises, jolts, starts and frantic chaotic jarring sounds just do not a good experience make. So, it’s a thumbs down for this one, but as you know this is just my opinion, and what do I know? Also dont forget there are two albums, one is the score, the other a song compilation.
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DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS ( LE ROUGE AUX LEVRES)

 
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Based upon Sheridan Le Fanu’s CAMILLA, DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS or LE ROUGE AUX LEVRES to give it its original French title, is a stylish and erotic vampire movie. Which draws upon the classic tale of a lesbian vampire. A newly married couple are on honeymoon at an exclusive but deserted hotel by the sea waiting to make a trip to England, the groom Stefan (John Karlen) is taking his new Bride Valerie (Daniele Quimet) to meet his Mother. But for some reason Stefan is not looking forward to his new wife meeting his Mother. Whilst staying at the hotel the couple meet with a Countess Elisabeth Bathory (Delphine Seyrig) who s accompanied by Ilona played by Andrea Rau. Valarie discovers that her new husband is a sexual sadist and is attracted to the Countess. Ilona becomes involved and attempts to have sex with Stefan but is accidently killed. When the Countess discovers Ilona is dead she takes out her anger and frustration upon Valerie. DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS has to be considered as one of the finest vampire movies ever produced, it is a classy and polished movie which is visually stylish and maintains the erotic intensity throughout.
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Directed by Harry Kumel who keeps the tension between the characters taught and edgy. What the movie lacked in the way of budget it certainly compensated with the style and class it purveyed. The musical score is equally as stylish composer Francois de Roubaix creating sinister but melodic musical passages and themes to accompany the extreme violence and eroticism and haunt the listener. This is a score I have long admired by this wonderful composer who sadly left this world far to soon.

 
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De Roubaix has an unmistakable style that is instantly recognisable, for DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS he utilised strings, which are subtle and minimal, percussion, harpsichord and synthetic sounds or instrumentation, in many of the cues there is a simple almost childlike reoccurring melody, which although is charming can at times be unsettling. There is also a slightly off kilter motif that the composer utilises affectively purveying an atmosphere of apprehension and a sound that is unnerving.

 

 

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De Roubaix was a Masterful creator of themes and this is a work that is filled with so many innovative leitmotifs some of which evoke the style of Ennio Morricone, because of the use of choir, it is also a score that has been a long time coming, and considering it is probably one of the composers best works for the cinema, it is surprising that it has taken so long, but at last it is here, so sit back and savour the music of the macabre , the music of sensuality and the sound of unease and fear.

THE TOYBOX.

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One of the recent releases from the Screamworks division of Movie Score Media is the soundtrack from the horror movie THE TOYBOX. The music is by talented composer Holly Amber Church who has created a work that contains more than its fair share of jumps, frights and jolts. The score is a fusion of symphonic textures and synthetic colours and sounds. The composer combines both superbly to fashion a soundtrack that is not only superbly atmospheric but also has to it an alluring and in a kind of strange way attractive style and sound. I first heard the music of Holly Amber Church when her score for THE WORRY DOLLS was released. THE TOYBOX is a deliciously dark and brooding work and one that relies upon low and shadowy sounds that are combined with harsh and jagged stabs alongside what I would call driving and foreboding passages that literally make the listener feel uneasy and sends chills up and down their spine. I was impressed at the composers use of vintage sounding synths, in fact these could have come straight out of the 1980.s, they have to them an almost awkward sound, but when combined with the other effects and conventional instrumentation they work wonderfully and create a mood that is filled with tension and suspense. The score does have some quieter interludes, which the composer does so well, utilising piano and strings.

 
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The score is an inventive one and the composer also introduces some strange sounding effects to bolster the work, this I think comes across to the full in the cue STEVE’S NIGHTMARE which is an unnerving listening experience but is also a brilliant piece of innovative and highly creative writing. It is also score filled to the brim with, visceral and sinewy sounding strings, effective and dark percussive elements and half heard sounds and fragments of melodies that tantalise and invade the listeners mind. Certainly, one for the collection a sinister and virulent score that will delight, perplex, haunt and excite.

WHERE HANDS TOUCH.

 
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WHERE HANDS TOUCH is a British war drama that was premiered at the Toronto film festival on September 9th, 2018 and has since been screened in selected cinemas in the USA. The movie which is set in 1944 tells a story of a bi-racial teenager who is struggling to survive in Nazi Germany and of her love for a young man who is a member of the Hitler Youth. Directed by Amma Asante the former actress turned screen writer and filmmaker, the films cast includes Christopher Eccleston, Amandla Stenberg, George McKay, Abbie Cornish and Tom Sweet. The moving musical score is by composer Anne Chmelewsky, who’s past works for TV and cinema include, the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated DEREK which was directed by Rick Gervais for Channel 4 and Netflix. She also scored DO WE BELONG and AN ACT OF WORSHIP for director Sofia Khan and as well as writing for the screen she has composed Opera’s and written for theatrical productions. Her third opera PYGMALION 2.0’ was developed with the support of the PRS foundation and is currently being performed in the United Kingdom. The music for WHERE HANDS TOUCH is a rather subdued work for most of its duration, the composer purveying various moods and atmospheres utilising piano, strings and solo performances on cello and violin.

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This is an affecting work that is filled with emotion and underlined by a fragile and delicate foundation on which the composer builds her compositions. The slight but tantalising melodies drifting throughout the work at times being elusively haunting and fleeting. The music is so soft and gentle that it has more of an impact within the storyline of the movie. The composer at times creating small clusters of swelling strings that ooze emotive and melancholy qualities and seem to build out of nowhere to bring heartrending crescendos of sorts to the surface, the themeatic content of the score is stunning and the composer fashions lilting, lush and highly emotional musical poems throughout. It is a score that I found wonderfully fulfilling and one that I did return to a few times after my initial listen. Certainly, worth checking out.