Category Archives: REVIEWS IN BRIEF.

MAJOR DUNDEE.

 

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Lets go back in time shall we, when men were men women were women and westerns were , well westerns. 1965 was a good year for movies and also soundtracks and it was also the year when Sam Peckinpah directed the Charlton Heston, Richard Harris civil war western MAJOR DUNDEE. Now this was an interesting movie and focused upon a group of regular Union soldiers, confederate prisoners, Indian scouts and a ragtag collection of bounty hunters who go in search of renegade Apache Indians. Being a Peckinpah western it was scattered with violent scenes and blood spattered encounters. The end scene in-particular which was a battle on the border with French lancers is impressive. The movie was scored by composer Daniele Armithetrof, who put a European sounding musical stamp upon the soundtrack, and although the score contained a rousing song performed by Mitch Miller and his gang the music was not what one would expect from an American made western during this period and that is why it is so appealing. The soundtrack was issued on CBS in the 1965, and contained seven cues, but the cues ran continuous not having any space between them, the album also contained sound effects on a number of the cues which for me somewhat spoilt the listening experience. However, saying this MAJOR DUNDEE still remains an entertaining score, with the composer throwing in some very different electronic effects on one or two cues. The Maestro also included some nice Hispanic/Mexican sounding passages and themes, utilising guitar and percussive elements to great effect. There are two songs on the soundtrack, the first being THE MAJOR DUNDEE MARCH and the second is a rather sugary and cliched sounding affair entitled TO BE WITH YOU, which to be quite honest one could skip over and not really miss it. Its a kind of Mancini/Mercer sounding song in a similar style to DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES or MOON RIVER, but not quite as good. The score suited the movie well and the composer underlined and punctuated the action, the romance and the melancholy well throughout. The soundtrack did get a re-release on LP and then onto compact disc, and finally having an expanded release on Intrada where it was paired with a new score that was commissioned for the movie,  but the new score by Christopher Caliendo never found a lot of favour with fans of the film.

 
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The original score by Armitheatrof is a soundtrack that you should try and check out and is available on Spotify now. I like it, maybe you will too. The march that the composer penned for the French Lancers is probably one of the highlights of the soundtrack. It is filled with pomp and ceremony and matches wonderfully the prancing lancers as we see them in the distance and as they ready to do battle with the unlikely band of heroes from across the border. As the two sides join in battle the composer integrates the Lancers theme into elements of the Dundee march and also adds to this Dixie for the confederate prisoners who are battling against the French alongside the Union troops, Armitheatrof also drives the music along with brass stabs, dark sounding piano and guitar in places, which makes for some great action music for this frenzied and somewhat chaotic battle at the movies conclusion.  Recommended.

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OMA MAA.

 

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I know I say this a lot, but. Movie score Media have done it again, they have not only brought us a soundtrack that oozes quality but have again succeeded in introducing another young composer to the soundtrack collecting fraternity. The soundtrack is from the movie OMA MAA and the composer is Pessi Levanto. Now the composer maybe a new name to us but he as already created the scores for a number of feature films. All of which I hope to listen to in due course. The score for OMA MAA is fully symphonic and has to it a melodious and haunting sound. The composer fashioning rich and beautifully constructed tone poems which have to them a subdued lushness that are tinged with fragility and poignancy. Levanto combines strings with woods and piano that together bring to fruition highly alluring and attractive themes. Within the score there are sections which are given over to pensive sounding woods which are punctuated by harp and embellished with strings, their content being of the more romantic or melancholy leaning, but the composer also utilises the same instrumentation to bring forth dramatic and more urgent sounding pieces, combining the three types of instrumentation to great effect. There is a sadness present throughout the score that is emotive, its musical persona making a big impression or impact upon the listener, at times the style employed could easily be mistaken for the sound that is achieved by composers such as Rachel Portman or Debbie Wiseman, the richness and appeal of the thematic properties shining through and beckoning the listener to explore further. The work is a brief one unfortunately, with a duration of just 30 minutes. But the short running time is made up for by the abundance of themes. This one of those scores that you would probably look at in a record store and deliberate over for a while before committing to buying it, as there is not much info about the movie, and the composer being somewhat unknown outside of his native Finland, but you know when you take that chance and it pays off well OMA MAA is one of those cases, take a chance on it, check it out and be amazed, entertained and rewarded. You need to hear this.

 

Coinciding with the film’s wide release in Finnish cinemas, Movie Score Media presents Pessi Levanto’s score for the historical romantic drama Oma Maa. Directed and co-written by Markku Pölönen, the film is about the post-war reconstruction of Finland, following a heartfelt love story from the end of the war in 1945 until the country’s hosting of the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952. Starring Oona Airola and Konsta Laakso as the romantic leads, Oma Maa opens on October 26, 2018 all over Finland.

TRACK LISTING
1 Suite from “Oma Maa” 3:56
2 Opening and Ambush 2:12
3 Kiss 1:49
4 The Bakery 1:21
5 Bad News 2:14
6 Wedding 0:57
7 A New Home 2:50
8 Happiness 2:21
9 Annis Dreams 1:56
10 Winter Scenery 2:26
11 The Fire 1:42
12 Aftermath 3:28
13 The Letter and the End 1:38
14 Epilogue 1:17

 
MMS18022 • OMA MAA (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Music Composed and Conducted by PESSI LEVANTO
Release date (digital): October 26, 2018

 

 

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.

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.

Venom-composer

 

 

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.
DAUGHTERS

 

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.