Category Archives: REVIEWS IN BRIEF.

VAMPIRE THE MASQUERADE-BLOODHUNT.

“Vampires suck blood from human characters and non-hostile subjects. Your character can use vampiric powers, weapons, and wit to eradicate your enemies and deal with the hunters.

This is how the developers of Vampire the Masquerade, Sharkmob describe the game. Bloodhunt the latest edition in the series is a thrilling free-to-play battle royale set in a Prague consumed by a ruthless war between vampire factions.

You must use your supernatural powers, weapons, and wit to hunt your rivals and dominate the night! The music for Bloodhunt is atmospheric and alluring, at times becoming almost hypnotic, but all the time thematic and entertaining. The composer for the game is Altanas Valkov, who has also worked on the Polish TV series Krol (2020) and the movie Ambition (2016).

His music for Bloodhunt is accomplished, polished and inventive, it sounds like a fusion of symphonic and electronic with choral work woven into the score, but I am thinking that this is a high-quality electronic work which is at times relentlessly driving, but also has to it a more melodic and gentle side. The composer creating an epic sound throughout. Certainly, worth a listen and available digitally.

HOTEL PORTOFINO.

Another TV score and one that I for one think is just brimming with so many great themes, Hotel Portofino has a score that is composed by Stefano Cabrera, it is a sheer delight to sit and listen to on its own away from the series but is just as entertaining when hearing the score work with the unfolding storylines and images within the series. This is a score that tantalizes and works a dreamy kind of magic that envelops and caresses the images and elevates each episode.

There is a rich and wholesome sound to this work, which is created by joyous sounding strings that seem to skip along being punctuated by piano and woods. I cannot make up my mind which composer I most drawn to when it comes to making comparisons with this wonderful score and others, possibly Georges Delerue, and the early work of Alexandre Desplat, and Nicola Piovani, but also at times gives gentle nods to the style of Dario Marianelli.

There is a definite European sound present, but also a quintessentially English musical persona is in place throughout, underlining and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. Light, majestic and luxurious, with delicate nuances performed on harp, piano and clever use of subtle woods, the score has to it a fragility and an almost precious ambience that oozes sophistication and charm.

The composer at times, employing strident but low-key string passages that work marvelously emotive and poignant melodies into the proceedings seamlessly, which are touching and affecting. A quality soundtrack from an entertaining series, available on digital platforms via Silva Screen records UK.  Well worth checking out.  

THOR-LOVE AND THUNDER.

Marvel, I think are now becoming a little predictable when it comes to music for their superheroes, the latest excursion for Thor has a musical score by Michael Giacchino,(with additional music by Nami Malumad). Giacchino has worked his way steadily to the top of the film music game, scoring numerous big box office hits Star Trek, The Batman etc and also provided great music for a few turkeys-remember John Carter. Thor Love and Thunder I felt was just a re-hash of so many of his past scores, there is for me at least nothing new here, nothing fresh and certainly nothing that is remotely innovative or inventive. I do know that each composer has their own sound their own style and also their own little quirks of orchestration or a favourite instrument which is included in the majority of their works for the big screen, but this is just a fusion of everything he has done before and maybe also a few nods to the likes of Horner, Tyler, Debney and even Goldsmith, but these just seem to jar and grate on the listener (at least this one). The Thor series has had a different composer for each adventure, all composers including Giacchino are of course interesting and have produced so many great scores, but for this latest adventure with the Nordic God of thunder is for this reviewer tired and not very interesting whatsoever. The inclusion of a rock orientated guitar finished it for me, although granted the composer did throw in a few bold sounding brass flourishes here and there and frenzied strings that bang out a theme that I thought was rather like a watered down Masters of the Universe, compare this to the music for say Moon Knight and it pales in comparison, and purveys quite a lack luster persona and sound, there are some saving graces and these include the cello solo that can be heard in a handful of cues, which is romantic, mystical and melancholy, and co-composer Nami Malumad’s The Zeus Fanfares which evoke the golden age of Hollywood in epic movies such as Ben Hur and The Robe. As for the remainder of the score, predictable, uninspiring, and even flat at times, with just the occasional high created by the fusion of soprano, choir and orchestra, but there are not enough of these moments and passages that have this aura to them. Its like one is waiting for the score to develop or a theme erupt , but neither happens. So, it’s a no from me on this one, but that is just my opinion, check it out now on digital platforms.

THE RAILWAY CHILDREN RETURN.

I think even if you were not around in 1970, you would have still heard of the movie The Railway Children, and as a soundtrack collector would also be familiar with the soundtrack as penned by Johnny Douglas. The Railway Children Return is due in cinemas soon and the movie contains a hauntingly beautiful score by composers Edward Farmer and Martin Phipps. Both composers have contributed to the world of film and TV with Phipps probably being the better-known name for his work on The Crown, War and Peace, Victoria and more recently The Princess. Farmer too has scored Beyond Existence recently, which is a score that you should try and check out. The music for The Railway Children Return, is due for release on Movie Score Media on July 15th, and will be available on digital platforms everywhere.

The score is a delightful and richly thematic affair, symphonic and melodic it is in my opinion one of the best scores to be released thus far in 2022.

GODS COUNTRY.
SECRET AGENTY.

The work has to it an appealing and haunting musical persona, that is a entertaining and pleasant listening experience away from the images. The music being subtle but also quite lush and affecting, having to it that very English sound and style.

The score utilizes strings effectively the composers at times engaging solo cello to add a more poignant or emotive atmosphere to the proceedings. It is a score that has many attributes with the composers fashioning compositions that purvey sensitivity, drama, and melancholy. Check it out available soon. The Railway Children Return is directed by Morgan Matthews, written by Danny Brocklehurst and stars Jenny Agutter, Sheridan Smith, Tom Courtenay, Beau Gadsdon, John Bradley, K.J. Aikens, Austin Haynes, Eden Hamilton and Zac Cudby. The sequel to 1970’s The Railway Children is set 40 years after the events of the original and follows a new group of children who are evacuated to a Yorkshire village during World War II and encounter a young soldier. 

DREAMS OF HOME.

MOVIE SCORE MAGIC.

So many great soundtracks around now, and a lot of them have been released digitally by the Swedish soundtrack specialist label Movie Score Media, I have said it many times and will probably say it again and again, that this label is a hive of activity and releases scores that would ordinarily probably not see the light of day. They are a label that I will always support and always look to for innovative and sparkling film score releases. Their release programme is it seems unstoppable, but unlike other soundtrack labels in Europe and in the United States they never seem to release reissues, which for me is fantastic, because one knows that any release will be something fresh. The label has in the past year or so brought lesser-known composers to film music fans attention and at the same time also given them hope that the art of film music is still alive and well.

So, let’s look at a few of these more recent releases. The label has recently released  The Cellar by Stephen McKeon, which is a dark and chilling work, a complex and also an unnerving score that sends tingles and shocks through one when listening.

Although it is a score that many would say is largely atonal in its musical make up, it still contains a rich thematic quality, yes its edgy, its shadowy and filled with dread most of the time but the apprehensive sounds are interesting and also alluring in a strange way. It’s a work that I am sure you will enjoy, overflowing with a foreboding and fearful persona, which at times for me evoked the music of Chris Young in the Hellraiser soundtracks that he worked upon. McKeon first came to my attention a few years ago in 2018 when he scored Pilgrimage, which again was filled with dark and fearful colours and textures, but also like The Cellar was an interesting and entertaining listen. That score too was issued by Movie Score Media and is available on digital platforms such as Spotify.

Then there is Ruben De Gheselle’s brooding yet sensitive score for the documentary A Cops and Robbers Story, which is about a New York cop whose career is threatened by revelations about his former life when he was a member of a gang. The score adds much to the film and lends a tense, serious, yet intimate sense of drama to the storyline.

 Again, available on digital platforms everywhere, it’s a work that you should not overlook, yes it’s from a documentary and not a feature film, but the music is superb and underlines punctuates and enhances throughout, plus it is well worth listening to away from the film as it for me at last was an entertaining and enjoyable listen. In 2018,

Movie score Media released Wildwitch by composer Flemming Nordkrog, this year the label has issued one of his recent works from the movie Ogre which is a fantasy drama, the composer combines symphonic elements and styles with soundscapes to create a work that is inventive and totally consuming.

The score contains the simplicity of a child humming, a whistler and utilises solo performances throughout to fashion an alluring, beautiful but also an unsettling sound. Again, it’s a score that you should check out, the tantalising and haunting style will remain with you long after you have stopped listening to it.

Swedish composer Oscar Fogellstrom has written an atmospheric and mostly electronic horror score for the Yam Laranas film, Rooftop, which tells the story about a group of friends who experience terror because of a prank that goes horribly wrong. T

he score is wonderfully effective in the movie and has to it various quirks and sounds that at key moments evoke the work of John Carpenter, the composer introducing sinister sounding synth-based stabs and motifs throughout the work. It is a dark and unsettling score, but also has to it glimpses of lighter more pop infused cues that occasionally break through. Well worth checking out. As is the composers score for Greed, also on Movie Score Media and available now.  

 I thought how potent that this score was when I first heard it and returned to it a few times after my initial listen. Powerful, affecting, and thematic, I think just about sums this up, at times commanding and grandiose with lighter and more fragile interludes complimenting and further enhancing the proceedings.

Why not have a Fogellstrom fest and listen to them back-to-back, which will also give you an idea of just how talented and flexible Fogellstrom is as a composer. Recommended.  

Composer Timothy Williams describes the movie/documentary Have You Heard About Greg? as “A story of struggle, courage and love“. The score is a work by three composers Timothy Williams, Chad Cannon, and Jessie Carmichael (Maroon 5).

This is such an affecting score, with an abundance of delicate and fragile airs, that at times totally wreck one’s emotions and play with the senses. All I can say is please take a listen to this, because if you do not experience this amazingly sensitive soundtrack then you will be poorer for it.

The label have released many scores this year, and a number of them have already been reviewed here at MMI, but it wont hurt to remind of some of the titles, such as Hostile Territory by John Koutsilinis which is excellent, also The Exorcism of God by Elik Alvarez and Yoncarlos Medina, which is one of the most atmospheric and scary scores I have heard in a while, then we have composer Liam Bates’s fun and grandiose sounding score for the spoof horror comedy Let the Wrong one In.

Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds by Manel Gil Inglada, which is an enjoyable romp of a score filled with proud themes and romantic nuances. Plunder Quest by Massimo Sammi, which I find difficult not to listen to everyday now.

The list it seems is endless, and let’s not forget The Drovers Wife, The Road Dance, Jump Darling, and The Last Film Show. All of which are soundtracks that ooze quality and inventiveness. So if you have not savoured any of the titles I have mentioned now is the time to do so. Quality and quantity going hand in hand rarely happens these days but with Movie Score Media its something that is the norm.