I first encountered the music of composer Christopher Wong back in 2007, this was when I heard his beguiling and haunting score for JOURNEY FROM THE FALL, some ten years on I am pleased to say that the composer is still producing effective and affecting music for movies, one of his recent works LOI BAO, which is a 2017 release, is probably one of the more entertaining and interesting releases of recent months. I am intrigued at the composer’s ease to create unassuming but at the same time effective and lingering themeatic material, which is a fusion of what I call old school film music as in symphonic, with the more contemporary sounding material that at times is synthetic or electronically fashioned. LOI BAO, I think is the perfect example of both conventional instrumentation and the electronic working together flawlessly and blending so well together to create a score that is action led but also has to it a melodic and alluring persona. The composer integrates both mediums to invent and concoct a veritable smorgasbord of sounds and themes which can not only underline the films storyline, but, are able stand on their own as just music that will entertain, inspire and transport any listener to another time, place and scenario. The central score is driving and dramatic, with the string section and percussion taking the centre stage, and being ably supported and augmented by brass and woods, the soundtrack also has to it a lighter side which is delicate and somewhat fragile sounding that conjures up a mood that purveys vulnerability, the composer utilising sorrowful Cello, solo piano, solo guitar and at times solo voice or voices that are both eerie and imposing. This is a score that is literally dripping with rich and infectious themeatic material, it has a beating and driving heart and a commanding and powerful body that is enhanced by a more tender and romantic aura. The work has a running time of over an hour, which is rare these days, so this is certainly a case of quality and quantity, it is a great listen and one that I would recommend, without reservation. Available via Movie score Media, the soundtrack is on I Tunes and Spotify.
One Against Many (Theme from “Lôi Báo”)
Almost Nothing Left
Lifting the Car
Saving the Girl
Close to Betrayal
Escaping the House
A Sacrifice Revealed
Duel at the River
One Against Many (Theme from “Lôi Báo”) (Reprise)
STAR TREK, has been the subject of many a reboot, in the form of either TV series or motion pictures, I have to say, I am not a Trekkie, and if you are I respect that, but have to say sometimes I just don’t understand or get the storylines. I do however know that the series of films and TV shows have all been accompanied by rousing and innovative musical scores, and with a line up of composers that the original series had alongside the likes of Jerry Goldsmith, Leonard Rosenman, James Horner, Dennis McCarthy etc etc, in later years, one cannot really be surprised at the musical legacy that this sci-fi adventure has created and compiled. The latest incarnation of the STAR TREK sagas, can be seen in STAR TREK-DISCOVERY, which is set a decade before Kirk and Spock and the voyages of the star ship enterprise. Now this is a series I will probably never get to see, but I have been lucky enough to hear the score which is composed by Jeff Russo, the composer has kept the essence of the Star Trek score within his work, but it is not however simply a reboot of previous works, the composer has fashioned a score that includes the ethos of the musical heritage of STAR TREK, but has also created his own original and distinctive musical sounds and themes, place his own musical fingerprint upon proceedings. Yes, we do hear the original STAR TREK theme from time to time, but this is taken by Russo and arranged and shaped in so many ways that the listener will think, “I recognise that, but no wait a second, what is this” The familiar sounding theme or at least elements of it, is interwoven into Russo’s original score, thus making it familiar but at the same time appearing fresh and vibrant. The orchestration is imaginative, with the composer adding depth and atmosphere to every cue via his creativity and talent. Russo not only weaves the original thematic material into his score, but at times adds a section or a fleeting moment, that could be mistaken for one of the more recent STAR TREK movies, which were scored by Michael Giacchino. The composers use of percussive elements within the score is stunning and entertaining too, he at times laces these with strings and brass to create melodic and emotive passages, which are at times slow burners, that build in momentum and stature. I think this is probably one of the best STAR TREK TV scores I have heard since, THE BORG, which had music courtesy of, Ron Jones. I enjoyed listening to Russo’s powerful and richly dark and adventurous soundtrack, and maybe just maybe it may have convinced me to venture into watching the series because the score is so good. One to add to your collection.
I was not intending to write a review of this soundtrack, but after trying to listen to it a few times I decided that maybe it should be written. DUNKIRK the movie is quite brilliant, director Nolan I think has got it right and the way in which he approaches the subject matter and shoots the actual story is impeccable and affecting. The score however is yet again another disappointment, Hans Zimmer once again has created a soundscape rather than a musical score, because musical it cannot be called or labelled. The composer utilises musical and unmusical sounds at times to create his soundtrack, but although at times the sounds are effective within the context of the film I found it a distraction rather than supporting the proceedings. Zimmer is without a doubt a talented man, and I get so frustrated about the way in which many film music collectors put him on a pedestal as if everything the man has done is filled with brilliance, yes there have been a few scores that have hit the mark both in the films and away from them BACKDRAFT for example, GLADIATOR another such example. The soundtrack for DUNKIRK was another case of a missed opportunity in my opinion and yes before you all shout it I do realise film scoring has changed since the days of 633 SQUADRON, WHERE EAGLES DARE and BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, but would it have hurt to include a few bars that bared some resemblance to a march or an inspiring or patriotic sounding theme. As I say within the context of the movie Zimmer’s efforts work to a degree. they build the tension and also create the stressed atmosphere and the feeling of hopelessness but. this is not music. One of the longest cues on the soundtrack is SUPERMARINE which I have to admit I dislike with a vengeance, it is grating and perplexing, repeat, repeat ,ad nauseum. I get the use of the ticking clock, but that’s a sound that has been utilised many times in film scores by the likes of Morricone, Zimmer’s sounds on this film are for me a nightmare and also an experience that I will not repeat ever I do not think. Make up your own mind.as this review like all others is a personal opinion, but film music this is not, it’s more like one of those odd dance tracks that everyone raves about says how great it is, but never actually dances to it because it’s just too weird and so they never buy it and rave on about it because they think it’s COOL to do so. Zimmer as always was not alone in this venture, two other composers are credited Lorne Balfe and Benjamin Wallfisch, but I cannot hear anything different or original within their cues that sets them apart from the rest of this soundtrack, it just grates on and on, never really getting anywhere, apart from the end two tracks in which Edward Elgar is also credited, and in which we can just about pick out his Nimrod composition. which is heavily masked by the electronics of Zimmer and Balfe, sorry don’t like it, and if Christopher Nolan is to direct a Bond movie, please, please, please no Hans Zimmer. If that ever happens I will start collecting blown light bulbs.
Composer Baptiste Allard is a new name for me, although I notice he has worked on a few movies, which include a score for a version of PAPILLON earlier this year for Italian television. His latest score is NOI ERAVAMO, and I must say it totally beguiled and enthralled me, it is a beautifully crafted score and one that is overflowing with delicate and fragile sounding tone poems which ooze emotion and are brimming with poignancy. I was surprised to learn that the score is made up of samples so no real instruments performing as it were, well I find this very hard to believe because the work is just so alluringly beautiful and possesses real heart and soul, the music is romantic, dramatic and haunting. The composer’s themes and musical passages infiltrate your mind and work away at your inner emotions at times leaving one a little exhausted but in a nice way. There is a light and subtle style present within the score that is laced with an air of the mysterious and maybe the magical. It is a work that I am confident will become a favourite amongst collectors and one that will be returned to many times once heard. There is just a sound to it that makes it attractive and comforting, piano and harp are utilised with strings also being a large part of the equation. I can’t really say this is a massive orchestral score because I know it is not, but the composer has fashioned a soundtrack that is so tender and so filled with emotive nuances and motifs that one would be hard pressed to say it was not played by an orchestra, he builds the work gradually and tenderly with woodwind playing its part alongside and underlining strings and brass sounds with percussive elements being added for the more dramatic and urgent sounding pieces within the score.
The title cue NOI ERAVAMO is actually track number 7 in the running order and is one of the longest cues on the soundtrack coming in at just over seven minutes, this I think is what one might call a slow burning fuse of a theme as the composer builds the cue layering strings over woods and adding percussion even thought this is subdued, brass flourishes are also entered into the proceedings to give it a more pronounced dramatic feel, but all the time we hear the strings which are underlining supporting and enhancing everything that is going on, the style employed is like a fusion of Thomas Newman and Ennio Morricone, so it is subdued but at the same time has to it a strong thematic presence that one cannot ignore.
Piano does feature predominantly in cues such as LUCIANO and LUCIANO and GUGLIELMO and returns in many the cues adding wisps of melancholy and at times infusing an atmosphere that is sombre and solitary. The composer also includes a fusion of horns and strings that are underlined and punctuated by percussion in cues such as PLANES, PLANES FACTORY, SOLDIERS DEATH, and VOLANTARI which is the final cue on the release. No stand out cues as all are very good indeed. I only hope that one day very soon this composer gets a film with a large music budget, then the end results I am sure will be powerful and beautiful. But for now, check this out, you will not be disappointed.
Movie music International has always been a blog/site that brings you a varied collection of articles and reviews all of which are related to movie scores or soundtracks. I personally feel that the emergence of the SONG score slightly damaged film music during the late 1970, s and through to the 1990, Of course there have been a few exceptions where the songs were written specifically for a scene or sequence within a movie, but movies that just more or less tacked various songs onto its soundtrack without a lot of thought I cringed at. However, this month with the release of the movie BABY DRIVER I heard good things about the soundtrack and the involvement of the director of the film Edgar Wright into the musical side of things, ok this is not an original score and is basically just a collection of songs, some familiar, others obscure. But the way in which the director built his story around the songs he had selected is somewhat clever and even ingenious, apparently, he took the songs from his Spotify/iTunes account and put them into timing order to see what song would fit a sequence he was planning to commit to celluloid, so the songs fit the scene like a glove and give much support to each sequence. Like I said the songs range from standards and favourites such as, THE HARLEM SHUFFLE by Bob and Earl, Egyptian Reggae by Johnathan Livingstone, Un-square Dance by Dave Brubeck, Debora by T.Rex, Radar Love by Golden Earring and Never Gonna Give You Up by the ever-popular velvety voiced Barry White. Then we get the slightly more obscure (well to me anyway) such as EARLY IN THE MORNING by Alexis Korner’s blues incorporated and THE EDGE by David McCullum (yes that David McCullum) which incidentally could easily be mistaken for a neo jazz track from a Piero Piccioni Italian western/erotic score. Incidentally, please check out his albums on Spotify, you will be glad you did. But also in there we are treated to TEQUILA, NOWHERE TO RUN, BRIGHTON ROCK, BONGOLIA and the title cue BABY DRIVER courtesy of Simon and Garfunkel and includes tracks by BLUR, BRENDA HOLLOWAY, FOCUS, THE JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION and BECK etc. So, what I am saying is the soundtrack to BABY DRIVER although not film music in the true sense or as we see it as collectors of original scores, is in fact an entertaining listen, its easy on the ear and evokes many memories of a lost youth (maybe at times misbegotten) and opens the doors to tracks that maybe one has not experienced before. A nice collection of songs, that just happens to be on the soundtrack to a movie.
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