Category Archives: REVIEWS IN BRIEF.

ALTAMIRA THE ORIGIN OF ART.

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From the opening notes it is apparent that the music from the documentary film ALTAMIRA THE ORIGIN OF ART is a soundtrack of immense quality, depth and originality. The score is the work of composer Arturo Cardelus, it is a beautifully crafted work which has to it so many colours and musical textures, the thematic excellence is evident as I say almost instantly. The composer tantalising and inviting the listener to be engulfed and immersed in an undulating but mostly calm sea of emotive and poignant compositions. There is a pureness and also a fragility present that to be honest is rare these days in movie music. The delicate and melancholy sounding tone poems are simple but effective and at times invade ones sub conscious making this soundtrack linger in ones head long after you have finished listening to it. But there is more to the score than just the elegant themes and the lilting melodies, for me the music creates a plethora of emotions and has a strong musical persona that I feel connects with the listener away from any images it was intended to enhance, it is a delight to listen to and has to it so many atmospheres and nuances that it at times oozes so much emotion and warmth it can be overwhelming. The composer is certainly a Master at purveying, wonder, mystery and numerous sensitive levels of emotiveness which at times relay feelings and senses of many varieties in just a few notes. To say that this is a soundtrack that you should have in your collection is an understatement, so I employ you to please check this out, I know once you have heard a fraction of it you will be smitten as I was. Piano, solo violin, woodwind and strings are predominant in the score, each instrument fitting perfectly in with each other, fusing together and complimenting one another, The composer also utilises, Female voice which is affecting, The recording also features tracks from the 2016 short, SWIMMING IN THE DESERT, again the music is emotive and filled with an atmosphere that is compelling, alluring and melodious. This is a release that I cannot recommend highly enough. Available now digitally from Movie Score Media and soon from Rosetta records on compact disc.

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HALVDAN VIKING.

 

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A couple of years back I reviewed a score for a Swedish made movie entitled, BERKEBEINERNE which was a soundtrack filled with so many themes and epic sounding passages, the composer Gaute Storaas fashioned an atmospheric and passionately powerful work which left a lasting impression on me. I am pleased to say tht the composer has returned with another commanding and emotively haunting work for HALVDAN VIKING. It is also a work that is crammed full of rich and vibrant thematic material and also one that is inspiringly entertaining.

 

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This is a truly driving and relentlessly moving score, full symphonic and also strings with harpsichord flourishes, woodwind and laden with a richness and wealth of mesmerising themes and tone poems. The composer makes effective and effecting use of the string section throughout the soundtracks running time and augments and bolsters brass that is it self at times underlined and given support by percussion. This is an appealing and attractive work that harkens back to the days of fully symphonic film music, the composer creating lilting and lingering melodies that invade the listeners mind and stay in their sub-conscious. HALVDAN VIKING will probably not get a theatrical release outside of Sweden, which is a shame because from looking at various scenes and also trailers it looks to be a great adventure movie. At the moment it looks as if the music is only available on digital platforms such as Spotify and I Tunes, but hopefully it will get a compact disc release in the not too distant future. The rich and lush sound created by Storaas is mesmerizing and hypnotic the dramatic and elegant thematic content washing over the listener. This is one that I recommend you check out.

THE FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC OF ANGELA MORLEY.

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As we all know there are numerous very talented composers who write for both film and television that are either overlooked or at times forgotten. I would not say that Angela Morley falls neatly into this category because she obviously has a following even now some nine years after her death, Morley was born Wally Stott in 1924 and was responsible for working on many BBC produced radio shows during the 1950’s and was encouraged by composer Robert Farnon in her work. Stott became an almost household name because of the connections with artists such as MARLENE DIETRICH, MEL TORME, ROSEMARY CLOONEY and BENNY GOODMAN and also via recordings that She did for READERS DIGEST and Phillips records. In the 1970’s Stott underwent sex reassignment surgery and after this as Morley began to work more widely scoring movies and writing for television productions. She is probably best known for her work on movies such as, WATERSHIP DOWN, THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE and WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL, as well as stunning scores for TV films and series such as MADAME X, THE LOOKING GLASS WAR, DYNASTY and HOTEL. Morley.s work for film and TV was never widely available so this is why I am pleased that JOHN WILSON and HIS ORCHESTRA have released THE FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC OF ANGELA MORLEY on the VOCALION label. This is a wonderful collection of superbly crafted themes and musical excerpts from various Morley soundtracks. The compilation was actually recorded before the composer passed away at Abbey Road studios in 2003. So forgive me if I am late on this one. The release showcases perfectly the versatile style and the evident talent of the composer, who was able to move from genre to genre and create memorable and tuneful melodies whether they be for cinema or television or just light music compositions or even library tracks. This I think is one of the best compilations I have heard in recent years dedicated to one composer, simply because it is so varied and richly melodic for the most part. As well as the shows and film titles I have mentioned the CD also includes a handful of tracks that the composer wrote for the Chappel library and are typical sounding pieces from the genre of British light music in the 1950’s with carefree sounding woods, cheeky pizzicato and lush sounding strings, the CD also includes music from WATERSHIP DOWN and CAPTAIN NEMO AND THE UNDERSEA CITY. Morley was a talented composer and arranger and as well as working of her own assignments would also assist John Williams on scores such as STAR WARS, SUPERMAN and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. She also worked on various arrangements for Williams for his recordings with The Boston Pops Orchestra. I cannot recommend this compilation to you enough, it is a gem of a collection and a wonderfully entertaining and enriching listening experience. The near six minute section from CAPTAIN NEMO AND THE UNDERSEA CITY is particularly welcome as is the music that Morley penned for THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE, performed to perfection by the excellent John Wilson Orchestra. Definitely one for your collection.

BLACKkKLANSMAN.

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Considering that the soundtrack album for BLACKkKLANSMAN only runs for just under forty minutes, its quite astounding the impression it makes on listeners. Terence Blanchard is in my opinion one of the great unsung heroes of Hollywood movie scores, his numerous soundtracks are at times overlooked and this is a crime against the art of film music, his music is varied and vibrant strong and melodic, haunting, and at times jazzy and somewhat sleazy with melancholy undercurrents. BLACKkKLANSMAN score contains all of the aforementioned attributes and more. In fact I was a little slow on the up-take for the score and although I had it it always seemed to get put to the back of the pile, which is something I do regret now, why? Well because it is such a wonderfully constructed and performed score, its not only great supporting the movie but it is also fantastic as a stand alone selection of music which one can easily put on and loose yourself in. Its an interesting score with Blanchard opening up proceedings with a track entitled GONE WITH THE WIND which parodies music that was for years utilised in films such as GONE WITH THE WIND and any other such film that had Gentlemen of the South in it, we and I mean all of us know exactly what the movie GONE WITH THE WIND was saying and what it was about, but I suppose because during those days and up to recently it was ok to eulogize the Southern States and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the blatant racism that was rife and lets be honest still is. BLACKkKLANSMAN is actually based on true events, which makes one wonder what the ? A black police officer infiltrates the KKK is this for real, well yes it is. Any how Spike Lee handles the directorial duties wonderfully as he always does, and if anyone thinks that Mr Lee is done and dusted then have another think. So the music well Blanchard has fashioned a score that is filled with dramatic and tense sections but also boasts a number of moments that are not only tuneful but entertaining. The composers jazz slanted work for me always evokes memories of great film scores such as IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, THEY CALL ME MR TIBBS, etc. But there is so much more to this score than pleasant melodies and jazz orientated flourishes, there is real drama here with strings, brass and timpani being called upon from time to time, plus there is fragility and a delicate sounding musical persona present at times, which envelopes and delights the listener, one particular trio of cues entitled TALE OF TWO POWERS 1, 2 and 3 are interestingly low key and certainly apprehensive and successfully build an air and atmosphere that is thick with uncertainty and unease. Then we have tracks such as WHITE POWER THEME which is overflowing with over the top brass and percussion, plus the BLOOD AND SOIL theme which combines both drama and a laid back almost funky style but one that is subdued and melodious, with strings and horns supporting the guitar as it lays out the eight note motif, backed by percussion. This is a score I would recommend, it is just a great listen.

RUSSLAND.

 
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I have to admit loving this score from the first moment I heard it which must have been back in 2013/2014. Music in documentaries has come a long way in the past decade and the music for wildlife programmes or series seems to be a genre of documentary that just cries out for powerful and haunting scores. RUSSLAND or WILD RUSSIA is an epic series of films that contain stunning and commanding images and these images needed equally powerful, thoughtful and majestic music to enhance, support and enrich the events that are being filmed. RUSSLAND is a regal and lush sounding work and a score that is filled to overflowing with rousing, lilting and melancholy musical passages. Composer Kolja Erdmann has fashioned a soundtrack that is not only attractive and engrossing but one that is emotive, poignant, romantic and at times dark and fearful. There is a rawness to the music that goes hand in hand with the unforgiving terrain of Siberia and a softness and fragility that accompanies the ever uncertain world of the wild and its inhabitants. The score is beautifully written and is also for the most part symphonic although the composer does employ electronic support in a handful of cues, which works with the conventional instrumentation to create delicious sounding pieces that are vibrant and fresh. The music has a lavish and rich sound that is purveyed by brass, string and wood sections that are augmented and given greater impact via the use of, rumbling percussion and mesmerising choral work and solo voice performances. In many ways the soundtrack reminded me a lot of FIRE AND SWORDS by Polish composer Krzesimir Debski, it has that kind of style and creates both an exciting and melodic aura The release of the music for the series is just a selection of the highlights of the scores, containing the principal themes and I hope that someday soon the entire soundtrack may get a release. You might have difficulty getting the CD release as it was scarce when the series was new, but I can tell you that it is available on both I Tunes and Spotify. This is an entertaining score and also an intriguing and interesting one, my advice seek it out and be amazed. It is a truly stunning work.