Category Archives: REVIEWS IN BRIEF.

THE ADVENTURES OF JURASSIC PET-CHAPTER ONE.

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The power of the internet grows day by day, especially with reviews of films etc, I have to admit I have not seen the move from which this music comes from so I was curious and looked it up THE ADVENTURES OF JURASSIC PET CHAPTER 1, gets a bit of a rough ride from the majority of people who have seen in, apparently it has a lame script and not very good FX, so I guess I wont be buying it any time soon. However I do have to say that the score is superb, it’s a funny thing that at times bad movies spawn great musical scores, I think sometimes the composer can see that the movie is going to need all the help it can get so pulls out all the stops and produces a soundtrack that as in this case is worthy of a far better movie. Released in 2019, THE ADVENTURES OF JURASSIC PET chapter 1, (somehow, I think maybe chapter 2 is on hold for a while, but don’t quote me). Tells the story of a young boy who decides that he will help a friendly dinosaur who is being held by a mad scientist who intends to carry out experiments on it. Perfectly feasible isn’t it? Anyway its a bit of fun, escapism if you will, no need to take it so seriously is there.  Anyway, lets concentrate on the score, which is the work of David Stone Hamilton, the composer has been busy this year working on a number of projects, SOLIS being one of them. The score for THE ADVENTURES OF JURASSIC PET CHAPTER 1, is a symphonic and synthetic fusion with the composer creating quite rich sounding themes via strings and brass that are supported by percussive elements, add to this support from the electronic instrumentation line up and we have a pleasing and interesting score, most of which I have to say has to it a comedic undertone, with lots of pizzicato strings that punctuate and underline, but there are also within the work little nuggets of otherworldly sounding material as in track number 5, WORLD OF WONDER, which is charmingly understated and purveys a James Horner type sound which is mesmerising and emotive.

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The INCUBATION and THE HATCHING too are wonderfully melodic and mix symphonic elements with synthetic support. The score for me evoked the styles of Silvestri and Horner, with themes appearing as from nowhere the composer utilising horns and driving strings at times to create an atmosphere that is quite Williams-esque at times. It has to it a flyaway sound with wistful string passages that are underpinned by darker sounding strings and enhanced by proud sounding horns. Take a listen to track number, 11, YOU MUST BE HUNGRY, the composer begins in a light mood plucked strings and woods adding a playful persona to the proceedings, this soon alters and swells into a racing and quite expansive sounding piece, with strings and woods being joined by the horns and punctuated by booming percussion. I think this is certainly a case of the score being superior to the movie it was written for, but you never know the film might one day be looked upon as a mini classic. I would have to recommend tracks such as, GOOD TO GO, A FEW TRICKS UP MY SLEEVE and AN OLD SCHOOL GETAWAY as being outstanding for their sheer action entertainment value.  Another one for you to check out.

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THE DONNER PARTY.

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Originally titled THE FORLORN. THE DONNER PARTY was released in 2009, it was the directorial debut of film maker Terence Martin who was credited as T. J Martin. Based on true events the film tells the story of a group of settlers who are making their way west towards California, but on route they find themselves snow bound in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in time food becomes scarce and a small group of the settlers who adopt the name of THE FORLORN HOPE turn to cannibalism to survive. The movie starred Crispin Glover, Michelle Santopietro, Clayne Crawford and Christian Kane. The atmospheric musical score was by Irish composer, conductor Eimer Noone, it is a subtle but dramatic work. The soundtrack is mainly orchestral as in symphonic with a few supportive synthetic moments and also includes choral work that is reminiscent of the style of the style of composer George Fenton in places.

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The composer does a wonderful job of combining choir and strings to great effect. Although not a grand or epic sounding score it has a wonderfully imposing and affecting sound and style. The use of strings and also woods is stunning either when fused together or given individual airings, they create a poignant and at the same time unsettling musical persona. The use of percussion too is done imaginatively, for example in the track STARVING BODY STARVING SOUL, percussion takes the lead as a breathy woodwind solo is laid over the top to purvey an atmosphere that although melodic is also dark and threatening. The score contains impressive solos from violin or maybe fiddle which too create a somewhat apprehensive sound, this being evident within track number 12, HUNGER BECKONS. The score is one that is interesting and innovative, with inventive orchestrations and lilting melodies that are haunting. The track SORROWFUL LANDSCAPE I found most attractive and uplifting, strings again creating a sombre but romantic air. Choir is also used within the cue PRIMAL COMPASS, the composer combining voices of children with percussive elements, the effect being chilling and somewhat sinister. This sound also raises its head within THE COLD HANDS OF DEATH, with whispering voices being half heard under sinewy strings that makes for a really uncomfortable listen.  I know this is a soundtrack that has been out for a while now, but it is certainly worth sampling.

JEUX D’INFLUENCE.

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More quality film music from the ever industrious Movie Score Media, this time from a television series entitled, JEUX D’INFLUENCE music courtesy of composer Raf Keunen, I have only heard one other example of this composers work which was back in 2018 when I came across his score for RACER AND THE JAILBIRD which I have to say I enjoyed immensely. The music for this series is a little different from RACER AND THE JAILBIRD as in it is slightly more complex and certainly more melodic both in a thematic and a kind of downbeat and sombre fashion. The music is attractive and at times hauntingly beautiful but in a dark and even sinister way. But, to be fair the music matches perfectly the series scenario and It’s many twists and sub plots. The series has a somewhat complicated plot, but it is one that is not only intriguing but also can make viewers stop and think about what is going on and could it happen? Raf Keunen has composed a score that is compelling and at times mesmerising, it is as I say somewhat more developed than his other works as in more polished and well-orchestrated,, but that can only surely be a good thing, it is minimalistic throughout, with there being no grand or operatic orchestral gestures present, but the sparseness and also the intimate sound that is fabricated via piano, cello, violin, strings and percussion is impressive and I think it is the minimal approach and intimate style that is the appeal of the work.

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To attempt to make comparisons between the overall sound of Keunen and other composers I would say is near on impossible as he has his own unique musical fingerprint and creates his own original musical voice and styles, his use of strings within the score is stunning and innovative, whether it be an up beat driving cue or a fragile and delicate tone poem purveyed by solo violin or cello or indeed the use of plucked strings to create different levels or urgency and even apprehension. The work is filled with a dark but at the same time melancholy air, that has a habit of infiltrating ones mind and completely enveloping the listener.  I am a fan of minimal use of music in TV and film and in this case, it is done well and effectively, the entire score is a superb listening experience and is one to check out as I think it will become a firm favourite amongst collectors.

FOR SAMA.

 

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The documentary FOR SAMA, is a story that is filled with many emotions, it is a tale that is both epic and fragile, and focuses upon the life of Waad al-Kateab whilst she is in the city of Aleppo in Syria, as the crisis in the city unfolds and worsens as the years pass, we see her fall in love and marry and eventually give birth to a daughter Sama. It is one of the most intimate and yet harrowing films, with the central characters camera recording the worsening situation in the, capturing loss, joy and ultimately a fight for survival. It also shows the inner struggle she feels when faced with leaving the City, she wants to leave to save her daughter, but at the same she feels that she should remain and continue the struggle for freedom which she has been fighting and also for which she has already lost so much. It’s a film that you will not be able to stop watching and will shed tears and laugh with her and for her. The music for this film plays a very big part, it supports every scenario and elevates certain situations giving them even more power and overall impact. The score is by the highly talented and gifted composer Nainita Desai, She is a composer that has been creating much interest recently via her TV and film work, and with FOR SAMA she does not disappoint one bit, This is a wonderfully vibrant and atmospheric work, the composer creating delicate and emotive musical nuances and passages throughout. The compositions and the orchestrations are at times mesmeric and alluring, but the score given the subject matter also contains its fair quota of more dramatically led themes and cues.

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On listening to the score, I am certain this is a fusion of conventional instrumentation and electronic or synthesised elements, which really work well together, both mediums complimenting and giving support to each other. One of my favourite cues is SAMA IS BORN, which is a simple but highly affecting piece, the composer utilising piano, that is supported by strings and electronic underscore, which eventually subsides and leads into solo piano which is joined by a sorrowful but tender sounding cello and violin performances, it is a poignant and totally enveloping composition, which just captures the listeners attention and never lets it go. The same can be said for the cue THE MIRACLE BABY, filled with emotion and a melancholy atmosphere, which converts into a beautiful and haunting theme for piano and strings that introduce and accompany solo violin, which purveys an aura of fragility. Please check this score out it is a varied and powerful work, which deserves every accolade. Go buy it, you will love it. Available on Milan records now, and also available on Spotify.

THE RETURN OF THE SWAMP THING.

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Who says that a low budget movie can’t have a great score, well whoever it was obviously never saw the movie THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING and never sampled the musical delights as written by composer Chuck Cirino. Ok I have to say I love this score, always have done and now some 30 odd years on my opinion has not changed, in fact, my admiration and devotion to it has grown. Ok, this is not Oscar material but it is a wonderfully thematically driven work, with the composer pull a theme out for every character in the movie or so it seems, and these are just wonderfully attractive and compulsive themes that are addictive with catchy musical hooks, at every turn. The album opens with ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE SWAMP, which is a subtle and somewhat subdued piece, but it manages to set the scene and purvey an atmosphere of apprehension and uncertainty to the listener. Cirino is a big fan of Morricone and I can hear shades of that composer or at least his style within this brief but entertaining track. In fact, there are gentle nods of acknowledgement to Morricone throughout in some form or another, they maybe fleeting but one can certainly hear them. The score which is mostly via synthetic methods is surprisingly melodic and rich, this is especially noticeable in tracks that are of the more romantic leaning, LOVE IN THE SWAMP for example has to be one of the most alluring melodies I have ever heard, it is an enchanting and fragile sounding piece, again I think containing shades of Morricone, Cirino employs a style and sound that was used widely during the 1980.sby composers such as Alan Silvestri, Richard Band and Jerry Goldsmith, it is a mix of the rich and the lush which is fused with that of the electronic, and when composers such as this, Cirino included did this it worked wonderfully, giving the score a contemporary sound but also allowing the more traditional style of film scoring to shine through.

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Cirino, in my opinion is one of the more inventive composers who works on low budget movies, and he has created a substantial back catalogue of scores that are original as well as being entertaining , plus they serve the movies well and in some cases dare I say outshine the pictures that they have been created to enhance. THE RETURN OF THE SWAMP THING is a score that I know collectors will engage with and love as I did and do, time to check it out if you have not already. But please get the 30th Anniversary edition, for the 27 tracks.