Category Archives: Reviews

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT FIFTY NINE.

Welcome to the first Soundtrack Supplement of 2022. In this edition we have a mixed bag of scores and news of up-and-coming releases as well as a few oldies but goodies. So, let’s not waste time and begin, shall we?

SCREAM AND SCREAM AND SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN AND AGAIN…

But first can I ask What’s your Favourite Scary Movie? No I know it’s not Halloween, but would it per chance be,  Scream or the Scream franchise or series that was so popular, well if it is here is some wonderful news, in fact you might even Scream with delight when I tell you, The new Scream movie is out and so is the atmospheric and highly charged score by Brian Tyler, yes good old Ghostface is back and back with a bang, (well a slash and a lunge actually). When I heard that the Scream storyline was to be resurrected or rebooted, retold whatever? I was really pleased as the movies I always thought were great horror flicks. Yes, they were at times corny and predictable with the audience not really having to think about much apart from who was going to die horribly next.

But still they were entertaining in a twisted sort of fashion, one of the pluses’ to the series of movies were the scores by the Master of the Macabre Marco Beltrami, I say Master of the macabre but since he scored the first two Scream films he has certainly come a long way, working on so many high profile movies of all genres, his scores for the original movies I always felt were more than just a run of the mill horror score that was filled with crashes, bangs, jangling percussive elements, booming timpani, and shrieking strings, instead they took on the persona being downright operatic in their sound, style and in the way the composer utilized and placed the music.

Beltrami’s scores made the movies to be fair, and supported, punctuated, and accompanied the slashes and the madness that was contained within them. So, as well as Scream 2022, by Brian Tyler, Varese Sarabande have released a Scream box set, which contains so many extras, As the latest instalment of Scream lands in theatres Varèse Sarabande revisits Marco Beltrami’s masterful scores from the horror franchise’s first four films with Scream: Original Motion Picture Soundtracks. The 4-LP set—pressed on blood-red vinyl with black smoke swirls dedicates a full album to each film and includes two hours of unreleased material. This is a collection that will be available for collectors from June this year, I know it’s a way’s off now but it’s a treasure trove of masterful compositions that you should add to your vinyl collection, and maybe keep it sealed? It’s available for pre order now. 

The collection is housed in a unique jacket, which folds out into a 3’ x 2’ Ghostface mask. For fans seeking additional content, the 6-CD set, and digital editions are available now and offer each film’s score in its entirety, plus more than four hours of unreleased music, previously unreleased demos, cues, and alternate takes. A total of 171 tracks and over six hours of music.

The CD box set is available exclusively on VareseSarabande.com and Intl.VareseSarabande.com and limited to 1,800 units. Both the CD and vinyl versions feature new, in-depth liner notes from film music journalist and author, Jim Lochner. This is a set that you should not bypass, it is superb and something to Scream about (see what I did there). But to Brian Tyler’s powerful soundtrack to Scream 2022, there is something of a Beltrami feel and sound to the work, which I was more than pleased about with Tyler including gentle nods to the original scores at times.

But as we all know Brian Tyler puts his own musical fingerprint on the movies he has scored, and this is no exception, it is a score that encompasses many emotions and covers a variation of senses. And very much like Beltrami’s original scores has to it a deep atmospheric content, that too achieves that operatic level. The opening cue New Horizons is a richly thematic and affecting piece for strings and voice and is mesmerizingly beautiful. It lulls one into a false sense of security, creating a restful and even calming aura, which we all know recalling the past Scream scores probably will not last long. Track number two, Rules to Survive, is surprisingly calm as well. With the composer again utilising strings, piano, and a scattering of electronic sounds towards the end of the cue. This is a brooding and apprehensive sounding piece, that has to it a calm outer casing but inside it is all the time building and growing into something that is more threatening and malevolent. But it’s not really until cue number three Ring, Ring that any true sense of menace begins to formulate and raise its head which effectively combines synthetic sounds with strings, to create a dark and malignant style. This is an icy and sinister sounding track filled with a formidable and foreboding that is I suppose partly alerting the watching audience or the listening film music collector that something is about to happen, and its not long before musically at least it does, the cue literally erupts into a cacophony of rasping brass, searing, and slicing strings that are underlined and driven via sharp and commanding percussion. To be honest Tyler plays an ace card here rather than going all out from the start he builds the tension with a simmering and tense composition that creates a thick and tantalising atmosphere before letting loose with the full onslaught.

I only listened halfway through to this score before I became engrossed and impressed, it’s a work overflowing with mayhem and has to it a harrowing and threatening persona. Recommended.

Armand Amar, is a composer I followed for a number of years, and it amazes me even now that many collectors are not aware of his magnificent body of work for cinema and TV. I do not think that I have ever seen this wonderful composer’s name on a list of favourites from any collector, yet when one sits and listens to his scores for films and television, as well as documentaries one cannot fail to be moved emotionally and mesmerised by his obvious talent for melody and his skilful placing of music within any of the mediums. His use of voices and the inclusion of ethnic instrumentation is I think why his music is so attractive, alluring, and interesting.

There is no doubt that his compositions are innovative and emotive, the composer being totally in tune with each project he has worked on. One of most recent scores is for the movie Mystere, and once again the composer delivers a beguiling, inventive, and haunting work, that will I am sure be appreciated by many. It has so many themes within it, all beautifully written and wonderfully performed, purveying a gracious and affecting sound and style.

This is a quality score, overwhelmingly beautiful, serenely sensitive, and totally absorbing. The score also includes additional cues written by Anne Sophie Versnaeyen and Mathieu Coupat. Highly recommended.

Cobra Kai season 4 is now airing on Netflix and the music is also available on digital platforms, composers Leo Birenberg and Zach Robinson have again created an upbeat and thematic soundtrack for this hi energy and just as upbeat series. The soundtrack for season 4, is released on two albums vol 1 and 2, each containing some interesting musical styles, upbeat is a little bit of an understatement I feel, as the music for this series is unstoppable and powerfully high octane. The musical onslaught for want of better description is relentless, but it’s a good relentless as this is a score that is not only highly supportive of the series but entertaining to listen to away from the images.

Of course, there are also quieter moments, which too are affecting and effective.

The composers combine successfully dramatic symphonic sounding compositions with more contemporary pop/rock infused styles that at times evoke the popular synth music of the 1980,s and 1990,s as in Harold Faltermeyer and to a degree Giorgio Moroder, they also employ inventive percussive elements to great effect that drive and sweep the score along at pace.

Add to these components an ethnic sound for even greater effect and a style that could easily be from any one of the superhero movies that have been released over the past decade and what we have here is an inspiring soundtrack that I know you will love. Recommended.

I would like to mention a score that at this moment in time is not available on a recording, but I am hoping that it will soon be, it is taken from the movie The Tender Bar which is directed by George Clooney,

The music is by composer Dara Taylor, who has provided the picture with a fairly subtle score that weaves in and out of the storyline alongside popular songs that are featured on the soundtrack such as Radar Love by Golden Earring, Good Times by Chic, I Love the Nightlife by Alicia Bridges, Shotgun by Jnr Walker and the All Stars, and so many more.

Dara Taylor.

The movie stars Ben Effleck, Christopher Lloyd, Daniel Ranieri, and Tye Sheridan, and is a coming-of-age film about a young boy who tries to find father figures at his uncle’s bar. Dara Taylors sensitive and emotive music adds an intimacy and a fragility to the storyline and its characters, certainly a film to watch out for and hopefully the music too will get a release.

Quartet records have been industrious once again. I am pleased to say that the Spanish label have released for the first time on compact disc the great music of Ed Welch from the movie The Thirty Nine Steps, which was released in 1978 and directed by Don Sharp which starred British actor Robert Powell as Richard Hannay.  

The music is in a word gorgeous, and the opening track on the album entitled The Thirty Nine Steps Concerto is written in a similar style to that of The Warsaw Concerto. The music is typically English sounding and filled with lush sounding melodies and lavishly thematic material. Which is something that the composer continues to elaborate and develop upon throughout the remainder of the score, with the piano solos courtesy of the talented Christopher Headington.

I remember getting the LP record and loving the music and often wondering why it was not discussed or applauded more as it is a score that everyone should own, and now you can thanks to Quartet records, who also have released Treasure Island by composer Natale Massara, which is a name that is often linked with Pino Donaggio because he conducted the majority of Donaggio’s film scores including The Howling, Piranha, Home Movies and Tourist Trap.

But thanks to Quartet we can at last sample Massara as a composer in his own right, with this rip roaring and sweepingly, raucous, and dramatic sounding score for the Orson Welles movie that was released in 1972.  Both The Thirty Nine Steps and Treasure Island are available from Quartet now. Quartet Records – Specializes in the release of soundtracks

EPIC IS A WORD OVER USED NOWADAYS.

Have you ever thought what is an Epic? Or what qualifies as having epic proportions or themes in cinema and TV that is. An Epic as in when talking about cinema and TV productions, is a film or series that is full of spectacle, so I am told.  Historical films often fall into the category of Epic and would usually take an important or maybe not so high-profile event and ensure that the settings and the costumes and the content of the production are historically correct. Most times the films unfolding storyline would be accompanied by a grand musical score and to coin an old Hollywood saying, “A Cast of Thousands”, which would make them among the most expensive of films to produce. The most common subjects of epic movies are Royal figures such as Queen Victoria, Cleopatra, for example to just select two randomly, and events that took place in their respective reigns. Also, important people from history could also be the subject of these types of movies Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, in El Cid, or Napoleon in films such as Waterloo, Oliver Cromwell in Cromwell, T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, etc. Or they can be about events such as The Battle of Rorke’s Drift in Zulu, or the more sprawling and wider effects of the Russian Revolution in Doctor Zhivago and Nicholas and Alexandra (which we will come to in more detail soon) and more recent events such as The Normandy Invasion in The Longest Day.

There are a multitude of examples, with many of them being Biblically slanted, charting the life of Jesus, in movies such as King of Kings and Jesus of Nazareth for example. Or key figures within the Bible such as Moses in The Ten Commandments and later in the Italian made TV series Moses, which starred Burt Lancaster, these Epic productions often charted the rise of Christianity at the time of the Roman Empire, Ben Hur being a prime example. With The Birth of a Nation also qualifying as an epic a long time before any of the other movies I have mentioned. Some, Epics based on historical facts are interesting just as they occurred with the filmmakers relying on the facts and sticking to them to make a movie that will be of interest to audience es, but at other times the script writer has been known to add nuances, tweeks, and even fabricated events that they or the studio that was producing the movie deemed to be essential to spice up proceedings for watching audiences. How the West Was Won for example mixed events that had taken place in American history, such as the Civil War and mixed these with personal stories of individuals and families.

With, these blockbuster productions came impressive cast lists, and the grandiose and quite often lavish symphonic score, with sweeping and lush sounding themes or even in a handful of examples a more delicate and intimate soundtrack depending upon the subject matter and the characters involved. So, that is I suppose the meaning of Epic as related to a movie or small screen production. And so to Russia.

1971 saw the release of Nicholas and Alexandra, it told the story of the inept and out of touch leadership of the Russian Tzar Nicholas, and his eventual fall from power and about how he and his family were imprisoned and executed by the revolutionary forces. Directed by Franklin J Schaffner, the film was scored by British born composer Richard Rodney Bennett, who penned a suitably lush and romantic score, that was tinged with melancholy, vulnerability, and fragility.

It is a score that I personally still hold in high esteem and am of the opinion also that it is to this day one of the composers finest works for cinema. It contains and expresses for most of its duration a highly melodic and haunting sound, with woods and strings acting as the foundation of the work.

The score being influenced mostly by music from 19th century Russia, it is emotional, lyrical, sweeping and filled with an eloquent and imposing expressiveness and sensitivity.  The composers approach works so well within the movie adding emotive and poignant tonal verses that purvey hints of helplessness and a sense of longing, melancholy and frustration, the composer also maintaining an air of melodic, mesmerizing, and affecting musicality.

The composer deploys the works central theme throughout in varying arrangements and guises, adding choir, brass and percussive elements on occasion giving it a more lavish and opulent style when required. The haunting eight-note motif perfectly augmenting and underlining the storyline and its central characters, Rodney Bennett’s music caressing the images and weaving a rich but subtle background to the events taking place on screen.

The score becoming grander at key points within its development but never overpoweringly so, the brass and timpani employed in a somewhat martial fashion adding a more urgent mood to the proceedings.

The composer was a master at writing music for film and always managed to maintain a fine balance that allowed the score to support without overindulging itself, he is noted for doing this previously in 1967 with his lilting, sensitive and partly folk inspired score for Far from the Madding Crowd. The composer worked on a wide range of genres in cinema as well as writing and performing jazz and providing scores for ballets.

Richard Rodney Bennett was born in Broadstairs in Kent England on March 29th 1936. In an interview with composer James Bernard, he told me that he was at a session for an early Hammer production and John Hollingsworth who was at the time Hammer’s MD introduced Bernard to a young composer, who it transpired to be Richard Rodney Bennett. Bernard recalled that even then Hollingsworth could see something special in the young man.

And it would be Richard Rodney Bennett who would provide the music for the Hammer movies, The Witches, The Man Who Could Cheat Death, and The Nanny. But it would be films such as Lady Caroline Lamb, Murder on the Orient Express, Return of the Soldier, and Yanks that he became mostly associated with. His now iconic theme for Murder on the Orient Express being instantly recognisable from the first few notes. At times I feel that maybe Richard Rodney Bennett gets some unfair press as several collectors are still today quite ignorant to the importance of his music in film and TV. He was an influencer and inspired composers such as Christopher Gunning, George Fenton, and Patrick Doyle. Listen to Fenton’s scores for Ever After and Shadowlands in which one can clearly hear Rodney Bennet’s influence and to a certain degree in Gunning’s now iconic theme for the British TV series Poirot in which jazz influences are fused with dramatic scoring. Richard Rodney Bennet, died in 2012, one of his last scoring assignments was for the BBC TV series Gormenghast in 2000.

He was an eclectic composer of serious orchestral works, jazz songs as well as music for stage and screen and aside from his compositions for cinema his most famous compositions include a First Symphony, a piano concerto and four string quartets. Among the latter are scores for operas, such as the dramatic “The Mines of Sulphur” and the more light-hearted and satirical “A Penny for a Song”.  He was born into an artistic family (his mother was a pianist and composer, his father a writer of children’s books), Bennett wrote a cantata, “Put Away the Flutes”, before he had reached his twentieth birthday. He was enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1953 and graduated from there in 1958. He continued to study music under the guidance of French composer/conductor Pierre Boulez in Paris, eventually becoming skilled at combining jazz and serial techniques, in addition to mastering jazz piano, and it is true to say that many of his better scores for film etc are influenced by jazz, as in Wrong Arm of the Law which was released in 1963.  The rest as they say is history, with Sir Richard Rodney Bennett becoming one of the most esteemed and sought-after composers of film music in the world. He died on December 24th 2012.

See you next time.   

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT FIFTY EIGHT.

Well as the year draws to a close, I suspect that not many will be glad to see the back of 2021 and look forward with some trepidation to the next twelve months of 2022. As per usual there has been the last flurry of new releases and some re-issues in the last throws of this year. And here I present just a handful of mini reviews of these in Soundtrack Supplement Fifty-Eight, which will most certainly be the last entry on Movie Music International this year. Next year what do we have for you? Well, composer interviews hopefully starting with Jeff Grace, as well as archive material from the Silents to Satellite publications as put together and edited by John Williams originally back in the 1990’s, this is a wealth of material, and we are lucky to have permission from John to re-run this featuring the works of so many writers such as Peter D Kent who have sadly departed. I start this Supplement not with a soundtrack, in fact, not with music at all but instead with a book.

AVAILABLE IN HARD BACK,PAPER BACK AND ON KINDLE.

 

Waterloo Making an Epic- The spectacular behind-the-scenes story of a movie colossus which is by author Simon Lewis. This is a highly desirable work and one which is totally engrossing once you begin to read. It is an in depth meticulously, exhaustively, researched item that is a beautifully written account of the making of the 1970 movie Waterloo, and I have to say it is one of the best books I have read that deals with the production of a movie. Waterloo, was I think unfairly criticized when it was released, but as the years have rolled by the film has attained something of a loyal following and even maybe has achieved a cult status amongst film connoisseurs throughout the world. Its cast was and remains impressive even if sadly many of its stars are now no longer with us. It is something that you should most certainly investigate as once you begin you will not want to put it down. Available from the publisher and via Amazon. It is a thing of beauty and a rich source of information. Highly recommended.   
From the battlefield of Waterloo to the music of composer Harry Manfredini who is a composer I think is sorely underrated, and underused. It was more than four decades ago that Manfredini first stepped into the film music arena with his atmospheric music for Friday the 13th, which ultimately extended to a series of ten. I have always loved his score for Deep Star Six, and enjoyed his work on House, but it will be forever his Friday the 13th that the composer will be associated with. La la Land records in the USA have released the composers signature score with extra cues and remixed and remastered the score using tapes discovered in the Paramount vaults.

The soundtrack is if you forgive the pun a haunting musical affair, with the composer utilizing brass and voices to great effect, he also underlines and bolsters these elements with strings and creates sinister and chilling nuances with breathy gasps that are like icy echoing whispers that establish a sense of the malevolent and accompany the killer in the movie, but  even without the images make one’s skin crawl as well as purveying an atmosphere of menace.  Friday The 13TH– The Ultimate Cut, is available from La La Land Records. It is package well and includes brilliant liner notes by Brian Satterwhite.

Lots of new and entertaining shows are cropping up on the likes of Netflix, Apple, Now, Hulu and Disney plus these days, one such recent production is Hawkeye, which is a sequel of sorts to the events of Avengers Endgame. The music for the series is the work of composer Christophe Beck who has teamed up once again with Michael Paraskos to create a solid and infectious sounding score. The composing duo joined forces on other movies such as Ant Man and The Wasp and Wandavision amongst others. There is also an additional music credit on Hawkeye which goes to Tyler Westen and Jake Monaco. The series which is a six-episode production is I think one of Marvels best efforts thus far, it balances action with comedy and has plenty of moments that are filled with melancholy and emotion.

The score is also fast paced and varied, with the theme for the series standing out as being suitably anthem like and perfect for super-heroes and crime fighters. The composition is written for Strings and brass predominantly oozes that inspiring and rich patriotic aura that we associate with so many other characters from the Marvel studios. Recommended.

Don’t Look Up is one of those movies that you will either love or hate, I just could not get into it and found it annoying, aggravating, and downright stupid. But maybe that was the point of it all? Who knows or cares? I will I swear never sit through this again, it is a waste of celluloid and a waste of the services and talents of so many actors and technicians who worked on this waste of time and space. Leonardo Di Caprio for me is annoying at the best of times, so maybe I should not even have sat and watched the film? The music I must admit I did not even notice, why? Well because I was too busy getting wound up about the movie.

I do know that the soundtrack was scattered with various songs (what they were I do not know and again I don’t care) and the orchestral score was by Nicholas Brittel who is a talented composer. But even he could not add anything to this production, and certainly did not distract me from loathing the film. Maybe the score is a rewarding listen away from the images, I do not know yet, as not been there simply because the movie just stressed me out so much.

Avoid this film for your own sanity. 

From something that we will never speak of again to something more worthwhile and rewarding in the form of composer George Kallis and his score for the Russian movie The Last Warrior: Emissary of Darkness. Which is in a word Excellent, this is the third n the series thus far the previous two films also being scored by the highly talented Kallis. I just love these movies, pure fantasy, escapism, and adventure, (and boy don’t we need that these days) and the music penned by George Kallis is rich, luxurious, mystical, and magical.

This latest work is no exception and contains robust and rigorous sounding themes that are filled with action and commanding melodies, the composer also treats us to lavish and lush thematic material that can I think be compared with the sound we associate with the golden age of Hollywood, it is for most of its duration symphonic, grandiose, and relentless but also contains intimate and fragile nuances and passages that weave in and out bringing a charming and affecting persona to the work.

The composer also makes wonderful use of choir and soprano adding an ethereal mood to the proceedings. What a great way to end a year that has been a difficult one, with this an uplifting, vibrant, and inspiring score filled with both dark and light colours, and an abundance of textures and sounds.  I totally and without reservation recommend that you add this to your collection Now.

Iranian composer Amir Kolookpour has written some of the most affecting music I have heard in a while, the music is not from one but three scores that have been released, two being available on digital platforms from Movie Score Media and the third also on streaming platforms from Reality Bytes. The scores in question are Son-Mother, Woodgirls-A Duet for a Dream and the superbly touching and emotive There is No Evil, but I can say that all three are outstanding with the composer creating effective and affecting compositions that seem to come direct from the heart.

They all have to them a achingly beautiful and arresting style and sound, the composer employing strings and woods to fashion poignant and delicate tone poems that are not just melodic and mesmerizing but have to them a alluring and haunting aura. Its hard to say which of the scores is more ingratiating or emotionally charged than the other as all have qualities of their own as well as a collective sound and style that is the obvious musical fingerprint of the composer shining through each of them. In the cue Mother from Son-Mother there is a somber but at the same time highly emotive sound purveyed via use of strings and a cello solo performance which although brief soon establishes the fragility and the poignancy of the composition. The same can be said for There is No Evil, which in its opening cue and title track is wonderfully thematic and filled with a rich and almost luxurious style with strings taking the lead to fashion a light, romantic and warm piece.  The mood alters within the next track however, Escape part 1, is rather a stark and ominous piece and opens with a lone percussive beat, the composer then adds more percussion as the track builds and becomes more urgent, gaining pace and becoming more up-beat and having an increasing tempo to convey tension and drama. The cue is formed solely from percussive instrumentation, which is highly affecting in creating the required ambience.  Track number three If I, is also affecting with the composer realizing an atmosphere that is filled with apprehension but at the same time remaining melodic.

The track On the road, is performed by solo woodwind, the sound achieved has to it a loneliness and conjures up a deep emotional mood. The composers score for Wood girls A Duet for a Dream is too superbly written, and like the other two works totally consuming and a delight to listen to.

The opening cue Wood girls I felt had certain affiliations with the theme from the French movie, Jean De Florette by Jean Claude Petit, it has that neo classical but quirky appeal. All three of the composer’s scores are available now so please do go check them out as soon as you can. I feel he is a composer we will be hearing a lot more of in the not-too-distant future, at least I hope that is the case.

Richard Robbins.

As in other Soundtrack Supplements we look back a few years to releases you may have missed or to an individual composer. Richard Robbins has always been a composer I have admired, known mainly for his work on the films of Merchant/Ivory, Robbins sadly passed away in the November of 2012. However, he left behind him a wealth of beautiful music, and I just wanted to mention a few of his scores to maybe jog your memory or encourage you to check them out at some point if you are not already familiar with them or his music. I always thought of Robbins as an American Richard Rodney Bennet, his music always eloquent and rewarding. 

One of the obvious titles to select must be his music for A Room with A View, from 1986, the composer utilizing the music of Puccini as a foundation for his original work. It was this score that was my first encounter with the composer and straight away I was smitten. The score like the movie is stunning and beautiful, enchanting phrases and fragile nuances frequent the work, and punctuate and support the film superbly. Then there is Heat and Dust, The Bostonians, Howards End, Remains of the Day, The Golden Bowl, Jefferson in Paris, and Cotton Mary which I confess along with A Room with A View is one of my favourite scores from the composer.

His list of credits is vast, his music being wonderfully inspiring. It will be the tenth anniversary of his passing in November 2022, so maybe take time to listen and fully appreciate the genius of this American born composer. His style was varied, his sound delicate but always effective, his music brought a greater emotion and impact to any movie he scored.

Japanese composer Shin’ichiro Ikebe who worked on Kurosawa’s Rhapsody in August and others has written an interesting score for Nobutora, which is a period dramain which Ikebe combines more conventional symphonic styles with that of traditional Japanese instrumentation, the combination makes for a rewarding listen, the composer creating a tense and dramatic soundtrack that also has within it’s make up lilting and beautiful interludes performed by solo cello, woodwind, and strings. Worth a listen, available on digital platforms.

2021 has been a varied year for film music, and there have been a lot of nice surprises. Here is a list of scores I felt were outstanding in the class of 2021 and if I have missed any I apologize. The Reckoning by Christopher Drake, Traces of Madness by Riccardo Marchese, Freaks Out by Michele Braga, Nona et ses Filles by Philippe Jakko, Jean d’arc of the North by Raymond Enoksen, Tale of Sleeping Giants by Panu Aaltio, Nightmare Alley by Nathan Johnson, Benedetta by Anne Dudley, Knutby by Andreas Tengblad, The Kings Man by Dominic Lewis and Matthew Margeson,

A Boy Called Christmas by Dario Marianelli, L’Affaire Bovary by Maximilien Mathevon, Star Trek-Prodigy by Nami Melumad, Snakehead, by Roman Moilino Dunn, The Mating Game by Tom Howe, Le Chateau Du Tarot by Andrea Farri, A Classic Horror Story by Massimiliano Mechelli, Last Night in Soho by Steven Price, and Locke and Key by Torin Borrowdale,

I am dreading awards season because the bar is set so high with just the few titles I have mentioned.

La Befana vien di notte 2 – Le origini is a fairy tale with a difference, involving witches and witchcraft, which although can be seen as having quite grownup events and occurrences can structure a narrative easily understood by children, so the world of the mystical, magical, and impossible still represents a completely open and fully available universe.  Sounds interesting don’t you think, what is more interesting is the score by Italian composer Michele Braga, (Freaks Out). His music on this occasion is a little different stylistically from Freaks out, it is more grandiose if that is possible and maybe more Hollywood leaning in its overall sound. Which is no way a bad thing, the music is romantic and mystical, impish, and quirky, plus there are some sweeping and luxurious sounding interludes that are impressive to say the least, in many ways this is similar to the style of composers such as John Williams, the late James Horner, and Alan Silvestri, containing lavish and lush themes that tantalise and enthral.

But at the same time being simple and affecting. I love this score, it has everything one could ask for vibrant and melodic themes, cheeky and comedic passages and full-on commanding action pieces, strings and brass are the mainstay of the work, ably punctuated by percussion whilst being driven and further supported using choir. It’s a wonderous and sumptuous score and one that you should really add to your collection, romantic, luscious, and highly entertaining. Available on digital platforms, so what are you waiting for? recommended.

And that as they say is it for this year, I wish you health and happiness and a landslide of soundtrack releases, Happy New Year ………

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT FIFTY SEVEN.

Time for another Soundtrack Supplement and probably the last one of 2021. A year that has seen many fine film scores and numerous TV soundtracks, it was also a year when the streaming channels such as Netflix, Apple etc, all seemed to step up a gear and start engaging composers to write high quality scores for their respective shows, series, and movies. But before we go any further, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS, and I hope that we all have a better 2022.

 WELCOME TO SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT, CHRISTMAS 2021.

Mother Android.

Hulu TV have also produced many good films and programme’s, sadly because this is not available in the UK yet, we do miss out on them. One movie that is now streaming is Mother Android, a sci-fi thriller which is filled with drama and tension. I enjoyed the movie (thanks to Hulu and their screener) and because it is still streaming, in fact it only premiered on Friday the 18thDecember, I won’t spoil things for you. I also enjoyed the score and was lucky enough to have a review copy sent to me, whether the soundtrack will get a release I am not sure, I suppose it depends on the film and how well it does. The music is by composing duo Michelle Birsky and Kevin Olken Henthorn, (My Interview with them is coming on FSM ONLINE in January 2022) who have created a subdued but at the same time quite powerful soundtrack.

Michelle Birsky and Kevin Olken Henthorn,

It is mostly realized via electronic instrumentation, but they add a mood of intimacy with guitar at certain points within the score. They also utilize unconventional sounds which are created by items that they apparently found in a kitchen whilst on a road trip across country in the States. It’s certainly an inventive work, and one that supports the storyline superbly. As I say there seems to be no plans for a CD release yet, but a digital one could be on its way via Hollywood records. 

Either way worth a listen even if you have watch, the movie to do this, which is also well worth doing and contains great performances from Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit Girl in the Kick Ass movies) and Algee Smith (Judas and the Black Messiah). It’s co-produced by Matt Reeves who has finished just directing The Batman which is to be released in 2022. Mother Android is a Hulu production directed and written by Mattson Tomlin, who is making his feature film debut as a director.

Anne Kathrin Dern.

Composer Anne Kathrin Dern has written so many great scores many of them for lower budget affairs, but her quality music is always superbly melodic and grandly symphonic, The Claus Family 2 is one of her more recent assignments and her score is truly magical and mesmerizing, sweeping and windswept sounding strings frequent the work and are enhanced and bolstered by choral performances both as in by a choir and solo renditions, woodwinds, percussion and brass also play a major part of the work,  a work which is vibrant and lush sounding, that for me evokes the styles and sounds of Silvestri, Horner, and Williams, think Home Alone meets The Polar Express and add to this the melancholy and mischievous nuances of An American Tale, or even the mystical atmosphere that is heard in Casper, and there you have it a score that sparkles, shimmers and enthralls.

But there is also a haunting and infectious style present that can only be pure Dern, the movie is streaming on Netflix and certainly worth a watch, the music is superbly engaging as is the film with the score being a warm and entertaining entity on its own away from the images. Recommended.  

Another interesting movie is the horror/thriller The Boys from County Hell, which involves a team of road workers trying to survive a night after awakening an ancient Irish vampire from his sleep. The score for the film is by composer Steve Lynch who I think has provided an outstanding soundtrack. It is dramatic and at times verges upon being operatic the composer utilizing strings, brass, and choral sounds to fashion a wonderfully affecting work.

He combines so many textures and musical colours within his score, fusing electronic with more conventional instrumentation to create some chilling and highly dramatic moments. It’s a dark and brooding work in places, but at certain stages purveys a style that could be identified as being from a western as in gunfight music or at least sounds and musical affiliations that resemble it. I found this to be an entertaining score, its vibrant, robust, musical persona adding much to the atmosphere and also depth of the ensuing storyline as it unfolds. Available on digital platforms from those very nice people at Movie Score Media.

Onto another score that I do recommend you at least check out on digital platforms such as Spotify is American Night, which has an atmospheric, menacing, and tense sounding soundtrack courtesy of Marco Beltrami and Ceiri Torjussen, and Buck Saunders. The music is mostly dark and broodingly malevolent, but at times does move into more upbeat and thematic pieces as it progresses and develops. We all know that Beltrami is a master at creating those foreboding, and apprehensive nuances that have frequented and supported past horror, sci- fi, and thrillers.

And the composer has not lost his touch in this department as he demonstrates throughout this work. Along with his collaborators creating, a robust and commanding work for the movie. Released on digital platforms by Movie Score Media.

It’s also Movie Score Media who brings us, Johan Soderqvist’s beautifully crafted score for the movie Betrayed or to give it its original titled Den Storste Forbrytelsen. This is a superb soundtrack and one that every self-respecting film music fan should own. The film which was released last year, focuses upon one Jewish family and their experiences as they are arrested and then deported from the prison camp Berg and their journey down river in a ship to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. It’s an emotive and perplexing watch and the composers score reflects these emotions alongside others such as desperation, frustration, and hope.

The score is an emotional listening experience, the composer providing the movie with music that is sensitively placed, and passionately performed. Strings feature as the foundation and foreground of the score as well as including solo performances on violin, it is a delicately woven work that is overflowing with a plethora of senses and emotions. Please do take the time to check this out. Highly recommended.

The dark and romantic story of Diabolik focuses upon the first meeting between master thief Diabolik and Eva Kant, so I suppose we could say that this is a prequel to Danger Diabolik which was directed by Italian master filmmaker Mario Bava in 1968. The new version of the tale is set in the fictional state of Clerville towards the end of the sixties. Inspector Ginko (Valerio Mastandrea) is on the hunt for the criminal portrayed by Luca Marinelli, attempting to put a stop to his evil plans.

The music is by Pivio and Aldo di Scalzi who have fashioned a varied and up-tempo score, which at times pays homage to the classic sound of Italian spy and thriller movies that were released in the sixties, the music at times having a retro flavour as if it could have been written by Morricone, Nicolai, or Fidenco.

If you are a fan of the sixties sound achieved by Italian composer’s as in pop/jazz sounding pieces fused with big band slanted compositions and full throttle drama, then this will certainly appeal to you, its inventive, interesting, and entertaining, with every track containing something that will attract. I enjoyed it immensely, released on Curci records Italy available via digital platforms. Recommended.

Ils Etaient Dix , (They Were Ten) (2020) is a French made TV series that is a modern-day adaptation of the world’s best-selling detective story (Ten Little Indians, And then there were None) Ten people, five women and five men, are invited to a Luxury Hotel on a Caribbean island. They quickly become aware that they have no way of contacting or reaching anywhere that resembles civilisation or a place where there are people. Why these ten? Well, it soon becomes apparent that all of them have committed murder at some point in their lives.

And they have been gathered there to pay for their crimes. I suppose it is a mix of Fantasy Island, Lost and Poirot. The musical score is incredibly inventive, with composers Anthony D’Amario, and Edouard Rigaudiere providing the twelve-episode series with an innovative and outstanding soundtrack. There is interesting use of voices within all twelve episodes, the music becoming increasingly menacing, and harrowing as the series moves forward and develops. For example, at times the instrumentation can be subtle or sparce with solo piano and woods taking the lead, these are then underlined and given depth by spidery sounding strings or solo violin, with half heard voices that call or whisper, sing and moan. There are like full stops and commas of percussion that punctuate the proceedings which add an even more unsettling aura to the music.

 It is at times a beguiling and almost hypnotic work, there are of course more foreboding and forceful pieces within the soundtrack, but the atmospherics and mood are mostly achieved via the use of less rather than more and the imaginative use of voices.  Which is particularly effective in the track Spectre Suite. It’s a score that I found to be compelling and attractive, but rather unsettling at the same time with very few relaxing interludes, but as I said totally effective and supportive.

See what you think, it’s on digital platforms now. Recommended.

Quartet records in Spain have released the enchanting score for the short O Night Divine, the music is by Alberto Iglesias and is wonderfully thematic and rhythmic. The composer successfully combines electronic, with symphonic and choral textures to create an interesting and also an poignant work in places. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, and written by Michael Mitnick it stars John C Reilly, lex Wolff and Hayley Gates.

The score is sentimental and emotive at times which is demonstrated in the track Lucia meets Santa but also has to it a more edgy and even sombre side to it that occasionally raises its head, solo piano features at times and there is a particularly haunting piece O Night Divine which appears midway through the score, that introduces a vocal of Santa Lucia, the score is available on digital platforms as well as being available from Quartet.

One score and film that did catch my attention was La Panthere Des Neiges,or The Velvet Queen which is a superb documentary. High up on the Tibetan plateau. Amongst unexplored and inaccessible valleys lies one of the last sanctuaries of the wild world, where rare and undiscovered fauna lives. Vincent Munier, one of the world’s most renowned wildlife photographers takes the adventurer and novelist Sylvain Tesson with him on his latest mission. For several weeks, they’ll explore these valleys searching for unique animals and try to spot the snow leopard, one of the rarest and most difficult big cats to approach.

The music is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, who combine music and vocals to accompany this journey and the images that Munier captures. The score is a calming and spiritual listening experience, Cave performing vocals and co-composing the score. Well worth checking out.

Composer Felipe Ayres has written a haunting score for the movie Private Desert, which is released on Plaza Major records, for me it was the subtly and the intimacy that the music projected that made it even more attractive. The composer realising lilting and touching phrases that are created via electronic instrumentation, but also utilising guitar to great effect. I was somewhat surprised at the impression that this made upon me, its poignant and affecting musical poems being delicate and entertaining. I was reminded of the style of Vangelis from time to time whilst listening to the score. Available on digital platforms.

Spider Man-No Way Home is the latest offering from ever busy Michael Giacchino, and as always, he does not disappoint, its fairly typical super-hero musical material, but its great fun and filled with exciting and powerfully charged compositions. In fact, every track is interesting and entertaining, there is not one cue that I thought I am going to skip this on, there is that epic sound present that we have all become accustomed to in superhero movies, but there is also a handful of cues that have an upbeat almost rock foundation to which the composer adds dramatic sounding strings, brass, and up-tempo percussion. Its not just powerful though as we have the more melodic and melancholy cues present, which Giacchino does so well. Yes, it’s one for your collection.

There seems to be a lot of Lorne Balfe around at the moment, now I am no fan of this composer, as every score I have ever listened to seems to fall short of the mark somehow. But saying this I am rather partial to one of his latest offerings Silent Night, which I thought contained some nice themes. The film is a dark Christmas tale, and stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Roman Griffin Davies. Nell, (Knightley), Simon (Goode) and their son Art (Griffin Davies) host a yearly Christmas dinner at their country estate for their former school friends and their spouses. It is gradually revealed that there is an imminent environmental catastrophe, and that this dinner will be their last night alive. Balfe’s score is I have to say fantastic and displays that this composer can write quality music for film. I think Silent Night must be one of his best scores if not his best. Available digitally. Whilst there if you are so inclined take a listen to Rumble and Wheel of Time which are also recent works by Balfe.

Quartet re-released Zulu by John Barry a few weeks back, and I did mention the release in a previous Soundtrack Supplement, but I thought I would expand on my thoughts for this pre-Christmas look at soundtrack releases. I am all for re-issues if they contain substantially more music than the original, this however has just over a minute of extra music included, I say just over a minute and new music because it has never been issued before, and when you take into consideration how many re-issues there have been of this soundtrack on various labels, this I suppose we should welcome and be grateful for. The Quartet release contains the soundtrack and the selection of Zulu stamps arranged by Barry for the John Barry Seven, in Mono mixes, then in Stereo mixes, then we have the main title theme without the Richard Burton narration and the VC roll at the end of the movie minus narration, and there are two alternate mixes of Zulu Stamps. (Zulu Stamp and Monkey Feathers). I got this album back in 1964 on Ember, then there was a re-issue in Stereo on vinyl in 1971 and a CD release on Fat Boy records in a box set that also included Four in The Morning, Elizabeth Taylor in London and John Barry plays 007, all of which were originally released on Ember on LPs .followed a few years later Then there were a few more CD re-issues on other labels and Silva Screen released the Stereo mixes of the soundtrack on a CD with various other Barry compositions for film, TV and for vocal artists.

So, I ask the question, do we really need this release, well I for one do not think so, the sound quality on the extra music is not that good to be honest, it has distortion and a chatter on it. I suppose if you do not have the score, it is well worth having as it is one of Barry’s early triumphs and is now regarded a classic. One collector I spoke to about the re-issue referred to it as a cash trap for film music fans. But that is a matter of opinion, because one can always say no, I won’t be buying this.

What I will say is if you already have Zulu the original that is and not any of the re-recordings, (sorry Silva but they are not good) then save your cash to spend on something you don’t already have. As for the extra one minute or so of music, well we have managed without it for over fifty years, haven’t we? And if you are that desperate to hear them well, that’s a good excuse to watch the movie again. (which part are you playing this time)? Also of interest in this recent batch of releases are,

Chere Lea by David Sztanke, Called Upon by Nir Perlman, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by John Paesano, G.Storm by Anthony Chue, L’Invitation by Thomas Cappeau, The Novice by Alex Weston, The Matrix Resurrections by Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer and Segun Akinola’s atmospheric score for 9/11:Inside the Presidents War Room. Check them all out on digital platforms. Happy Holidays and enjoy the music.

A FEW SOUNDTRACKS MORE-DECEMBER 2021.

The movie Christmas Break-in is a made for television film that was first screened back in 2018, the musical score is by composer J Bateman (Skinwalker Ranch, Saints and Soldiers), and although this is a kind of low budget affair it’s not a bad little romp, it stars Danny Glover, who is always a delight no matter what he is in. The storyline focuses upon a young girl named Izzy who is a typically energetic 9-year-old.

Overscheduled and as usual running late, Izzy’s parents are unable to pick her up on time on the last day of school before the Christmas break. A blizzard takes hold and complicates the matter even more, but that’s the least of the worries as a pair of bad guys start to put into operation their scheme to rob the school. The school janitor is kidnapped by them, and it’s down to Izzy to save the day. It’s basically a version of the Home Alone scenario, but as I say for a made for TV movie its pretty good, great for the holiday season, the score is a cheeky, infectious and well placed affair the music supporting and augmenting the proceedings, the composer adding his musical commas and full stops to the action to heighten the excitement and give the movie even more pace than it already has.

Plaza Mayor have at last released the score and it is available on digital platforms, the music is filled with melancholy and at times does resemble something that maybe the likes of James Horner or even Alan Silvestri would have penned, give it a listen.

The music for the second season of the TV series Stargirl has now been release by Pinar Toprak is well worth a listen, Toprak, truly deserves to be writing for more big budget motion pictures on a regular basis and in my opinion is one of the best composers writing in Hollywood nowadays.

Her music for Stargirl is a sheer delight, a fusion of symphonic and electronic the composer utilises a plethora of tools and instrumentation to create a work that is totally engrossing and abundantly thematic. Another one for your collection.

Staying with TV and to Warrior season 2, During the Tong Wars in the late 1800s, Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy from China, immigrates to San Francisco and becomes a hatchet man for the most powerful tong in Chinatown. A series that deserves to be watched, I liked it anyway, the music works so well in the series, and is an entertaining entity away from it, there is a spaghetti western style within it that can be detected via the use of guitars and percussion, these nods to the spaghetti genre are mixed with rock sounding flourishes that pop up here and there.

The scores by composers Reza Safinia, and Scott Salinas are a joy to experience, they are highly dramatic and intense, with the composers putting everything into them adding various styles and sounds as the series progresses and develops with more characters being added so to accommodate this the music too develops and grows. There is an operatic feel to the music, and at times it is as if it were composed first, and the series made around it. Impacting and infectious is probably the best way to describe the scores and their role within the series.

The use of classical/Spanish and electric guitar is undoubtedly the foundation of the work, being embellished and further supported by solo trumpet, layered synths, piano, woodwind, ethnic instrumentation, and percussive elements. Entertaining and moreish as in I could not get enough of it, it’s like Santana, meets Morricone. Recommended.

Olivia Coleman seems to be in everything now, a recent Netflix movie is The Lost Daughter, in which Coleman portrays Leda, a middle-aged divorcée devoted to her work as an English teacher and to her two children. When her daughters leave home to be with their father in Canada, Leda anticipates a period of loneliness and longing. Instead, slightly embarrassed by the sensation, she feels liberated, as if her life has become lighter and a lot easier. She decides to take a holiday by the sea and goes to a small coastal town in southern Italy. But after a few days of calm and quiet, things take a a more ominous and menacing turn. Leda encounters a family whose brash presence proves to be unsettling, and at times even threatening. When a small, seemingly meaningless event occurs, Leda is overwhelmed by memories of the difficult, unconventional choices she made as a mother and the consequences of those choices for herself and her family.

The seemingly peaceful tale of a woman’s pleasant rediscovery of herself soon turns into a story of a ferocious confrontation with her unsettled and troubled past. The music for the movie is the work of accomplished composer Dickon Hinchliffe, who has created a score that is intimate and haunting.

The composer opting to fashion melodies via piano and a small ensemble of instrumentation to underline and give greater depth and emotion to Leda’s story. This is a work that literally oozes poignant and affecting themes and nuances, I for one was extremely impressed and pleased by the composer’s approach and his sophisticated and stylish soundtrack give it a listen. Available on digital platforms.

Swan Song is a 2021 American drama, written, directed, and produced by Todd Stephens. It stars Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans, Michael Urie, Ira Hawkins, and Stephanie McVay. The music is by Jay Wadley and its an interesting score, largely fashioned by synthetic instrumentation, the composer relays a tense and at times apprehensive atmosphere with what is a sparse soundtrack, the music never seems to develop as in it does not contain lush or grand sounding pieces, instead the effectiveness of the score lies within its subtly and the composers use of sounds and layering of these sounds, its an inventive work no doubt of that and innovative yes definitely. But I have to say I found it difficult to listen to, some pieces being repetitive, but again remember this is music for film not music to dance to or to chill.

Mathieu Lamboley, has written a gorgeous sounding score for the movie, Les Choses Humaines, UK title; The Accusation, which is French made drama, and tells the story of two young people a man and a woman who meet one night and ends with the man being accused of rape, the film examines the way in which the accusation is investigated and treated, and asks the question should the alleged victim of rape be believed no matter what the circumstances and the accused be treated as the guilty party?

The musical score is in a word Glorious, filled with melodies and overflowing with haunting and lilting tone poems that are instantly alluring. It is in my opinion a subtly sophisticated work, the composer utilising piano and string ensemble to create a touching and classy work. I love the way in which the composer integrates the melody of one of the song used in the movie Nature Boy into his score and creates a alternate version with his original music flowing in the background. Pianist and composer, Mathieu Lamboley studied at the Paris music academy where he was granted five diplomas. He composed his first original score at the age of twenty-five and was awarded for Best Original Music at the Aubagne Festival. Encouraged by Hans Zimmer who praised his work during an ASCAP workshop in LA. He has worked on more than twenty films and collaborated with several directors. In 2018, he wrote the critically acclaimed score of Minuscule 2:  which was a grand symphonic work in which the composer employed an orchestra numbering nearly one hundred musicians and voices.

For which he was nominated at the World Soundtrack Awards and the IFMCA awards. More recently, he composed the original score for the Netflix Series Lupin, which has become an international hit. His score for Les Choses Humaines is stunning, engrossing, and beautiful.

Also out just in time for Christmas some releases from the Spanish label Quartet, another edition of Zulu by John Barry, and also yet another re-issue of Maddalena by the Maestro Morricone, both scores have been released so many times I have lost count and although these are supposedly different from all previous releases, I am sceptical about both, and I really still cant forgive Quartet for their hashed release of Rome Come Chicago and also the less than quality sound on Feminne Insaziabilli by Nicolai.

But its up to you maybe take a chance on Zulu or the Morricone, if that is you have not already got multiple copies. The label have also re-issued three Pink Panther scores by Mancini in a three CD set, and the emotive score to Il Bidone by the Italian Master Nino Rota which is presented as a double CD release.

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT EXTRA.

As always after posting the most recent soundtrack supplement up pops a few more releases that are worthy of a mention.

The same day that Cecilia and Une meet Leo for the first time, a corpse appears on the beach in Skutebukta. Who is he and what did he do in Skutebukta, and what does he have to do with Cecilia’s mother’s death the year before? Together, the three young people begin to unravel the threads of what will prove to be the CLUE gang’s very first mystery. This is the beginning and ongoing storyline of the movie Clue:Maltesergaten, which is an intriguing and entertaining movie from Norway that contains a brooding and at the same time wonderfully lyrical score by composer, Henrik Skram. It’s one of those scores that one accidently comes across and once you begin to listen its very difficult to stop. Why? Well because it is just so good. This is a score that offers up everything in the way of styles and sounds, it is quite rich and lush at times, but also contains levels of fragility and conveys a deep sense of apprehension and foreboding. The sweeping strings are straight away alluring and the composers at times windswept melodies also attractive and entertaining. One for the collection most certainly.

 Tre Notter Til Askepott aka- Three Wishes for Cinderella, or Three Nuts for Cinderella is a charming tale, and has a rousing, romantic and luscious sounding score by composer Guate Storaas. This is a composer I always look out for as he consistently creates such brilliantly thematic material, which is invariably grandiose and symphonic. Within this work there several heartfelt themes that are not only attractive and mesmerizing, but literally ooze melodious splendour. A fairy tale, filled with drama, romance, mystery, and magic, what more could one want. And a score too that is rich in incredible themes, that convey a sense of adventure and romanticism. highly recommended.

The documentary is now a genre of movie that one should really take notice of when thinking of film music because documentaries are films, and they have music and many of them have scores that are deserving of more recognition and in many cases even Oscars. Movie Score Media have released a handful of scores from documentaries and one of their latest releases is Tale of Sleeping Giants, which is the third documentary score by talented composer Panu Aaltio that the label has issued, this is a superb score, there are no words really for the feelings and the emotions that it kindles within when listening to it, the composer fashioning, creating and realising a soundtrack that is simply awash with affecting and highly emotional themes, this is a score that you will listen to and straight away return to the beginning to start all over again, and again.

Symphonic, choral, and electronic support combine to bring to fruition a work that is impeccable. Every cue is affecting and charming with each track shining and tantalising, there are passages filled with a comedic style, drama, melancholy, and a rawness at times. It is grand, and sweeping intimate and ingratiating, it is just superb, touching, excellent, and welcomed in every way thank you Maestro Aaltio for this treasure trove of music and thank you Movie Score Media for yet another outstanding release.

West Side Story is an iconic musical, and a classic movie, so when I heard it was being re-made, I was filled with horror, and then when I heard Spielberg was too direct I still kind of thought oh no. I remembered what Clint Eastwood did with the Jersey Boys, and that too I thought was a disaster. Well, it’s now out and the critics thus far love it, but the soundtrack which I was listening to for the past few days is something of a mixture of good, bad and not so sure of performances, but I suppose we have to put the original movie and its soundtrack out of our heads and focus on the here and the now. On first listening to the new version, I thought that it sounded like a rather amateur production, you know the kind of thing the Old Village players do West Side Story, the performances were for me anyway rather lack lustre and had no depth or even any real emotion to them. However, on listening for the second, third, fourth and fifth times I started to finally warm to the performances, (but I am person remember who must have watched the original movie at least sixty times now) and I would still go back to the original every time for every single song, the orchestral score too I felt lacked the power of the original movie, so for me it’s no thanks, I’ll stick to the original. The new soundtrack is available on digital platforms, and I think for me that’s where it will stay.

Nightmare Alley is one of the latest scores of Nathan Johnson to be made available on digital platforms, I am sure we all remember the composers atmospheric and mischievous score for the movie Knives Out in 2019, and this is a soundtrack that has a similar but not identical vibe and style. There is darkness and drama but amongst it there is also that cheeky rather impish sounding undercurrent running through it.

I will say I enjoyed Knives Out immensely and thought at the time where is the composer going next because this is so good. Well with Nightmare Alley he has answered my question by creating a score that is at times delicate, but also richly shadowy, foreboding, and apprehensive, it’s a soundtrack that I believe will become a favourite for film music fans, there is a kind of silver age sound to it, evoking the likes of Goldsmith and even Bernstein in places, but it also has an inventive and original ring to it.

The movie is directed by Guillermo de Toro, its dark subject matter benefitting from Johnson’s melodic but mysterious sounding score. An entertaining listen and one that MMI recommends you experience.

Composer Christopher Lennertz returns to score season three of the Netflix re-boot of Lost in Space, and once again provides the series with some stunning music, the composer enlisting the assistance of Alexander Bornstein on a handful of the cues, it is like the first two seasons a varied and entertaining musical package that Lennertz has fashioned, which contains lyrical and lush interludes that at times erupt into full on and powerful action cues, the composer also providing rich and colourful pieces that are highly emotive, it’s a wonderfully thematic work, certainly varied and inspired, and well worth a listen, available now on digital platforms. Recommended.

Tom Howe is a composer that I think is just brilliant, he can turn his hand to every type of genre, and excels in creating music that is supportive and expressive, but it also has an appeal away from the movies that it was written for, Shaun the Sheep:The Flight before Christmas, is no exception, and I think at times it is the musical score that makes this little family affair of a film even more entertaining and hilarious. The composer underlining the various situations with musical comms and full stops effectively.

The BBC will be screening this over the Christmas period, so keep an eye out for it and whilst being entertained by the antics of Shaun and his friends listen to the score and fully appreciate the composer’s great talent and versatility this is a score that contains so many styles and manages to entertain on many levels. Available on digital platforms.

In the 1970’s there were several TV shows that one tried not to miss, and some that you avoided, The Waltons was a series that you kind of loved but would never admit that to your friends because it was not really that cool, a bit like Little House on the Prairie. Well, this year you get a chance to revisit the Walton family because The Waltons – Homecoming, has already started to stream for your delectation. The made for TV film even stars Richard Thomas, but not as John Boy I guess the years have caught up with him and the character of John Boy is portrayed by Logan Shroyer, other roles are taken on by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davies Junior, yes the same Marilyn and Billie that had a handful of hits in the 1970’s. John Boy and his family prepare for John Sr’s homecoming to spend Christmas together, but after a storm gets in the way, John Boy has to find his father and the journey through it will change his life forever. So, as you can see nothing changes and things are not always straight forward for this family. The original theme from the 1970’s was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and it is probably one of the most familiar TV themes of all time. Composers Tena Clark and Tim Heintz do make use of Goldsmith’s theme or at least elements of it within their score for the movie. But we don’t get a full-on rendition, instead they very subtly incorporate it into the fabric of the score, so we hear out of nowhere the familiar six notes that we remember as being The Waltons theme.

The score itself is quite low key and delicate, and at times I was reminded somewhat of the style that composer James Newton Howard employed on the movie The Man in The Moon back in 1991. This is an emotional sounding work, with strings, guitar, woods, and piano creating wistful and touching melodies, with these being supported by effective use of subdued brass. A magical score that radiates a feel-good aura. One for the collection. Available on digital platforms.

And so, to another vintage TV series that has been brought back to life, but this time set in rural England. All Creatures Great and Small, was another series that was extremely popular in the UK during the 1970’s, and first aired in 1974. It told the story of the day-to-day life of a country vet James Herriot. Music for the original series was the work of composer Johnny Pearson, well the theme was at least. I think the series scores were the work of several composers but don’t quote me on that, the theme that Pearson penned even managed to get into the British singles charts, but there again back in those days the charts were so much more varied and entertaining than now.

The new series of All Creatures Great and Small has a delightfully charming soundtrack provided by composer Alexandra Harwood, who wrote a just as entertaining and supportive score for the movie The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society back in 2018. She is a gifted composer and has a knack of writing delightfully melodic themes that also work so well with the images and enhance and elevate scenarios in films and TV series. This is a release that you should check out, issued by Silva Screen in the UK and available on digital platforms now. Enjoy.   

June Again is described as an emotionally devastating drama, where we see June Wilton having a brief period of lucidity from her dementia. When she realises that she has so little time to bring back together her estranged children and save the family business as well as rekindling an old flame.

The movie is a poignant and sensitive piece of cinema, the musical score is the work of Christopher Gordon, who is a composer who deserves to be working on so many more movies, he has created a beautiful score for the film, and one that works so well with the unfolding storyline and the introduction of various characters. It’s a very brief score and runs for just over twenty-one minutes, but has some affecting moments, with the composer utilising solo piano, violin, and strings. Another one for your collection when it is released.  

Another score to watch out for is Benadette by Anne Dudley which is not released as yet, but it is said that there will be a compact disc and a digital release. Which is also publicised on the composer’s web site. The movie directed by Paul Verhoeven, I am sure will raise a few eyebrows, set in 17th-century Tuscany, Italy where the threat of the Plague casts its shadow over Europe, a devout eight-year-old novice, Benedetta Carlini, is brought into the Theatine Convent of the Mother of God in Pescia as a bride for Jesus. When she is twenty-six a test of faith awaits deeply pious Benedetta in the form of Bartolomea: a young girl who enters the convent to escape the beating and abuse of her Father. It’s a typical Verhoeven film, filled with irreverent, and scandalous happenings and overflowing with, violence, sex and shocking scenarios. One to watch out for.