Category Archives: Reviews

THOR-RAGNAROK.

21663

 

Mark Mothersbaugh, is a composer that has worked steadily over a period of many years, I first noticed his name on the opening credits to animated series such as RUGRATS, years ago, but his career began long before that as the composer worked on low budget movies such as REVENGE OF THE NERDS ll, SLAUGHTER HOUSE ROCK, and episodes of The Pee Wee Hermann show, Mothersbaugh is a composer who has an impressive list of credits to his name, but also sadly is a composer that is not a name that is regularly discussed amongst collectors of film and TV music, I was always impressed by his musical prowess and his adaptability whilst he worked on THE RUGRATS as his music would often change direction, style and sound over 30 times in one episode the composer altering his style and approach and being highly inventive and creative writing music to suit every situation in the sometimes 5 or 10 minute episode. He managed to create scores that were expressive and also recognisable as in the people watching (the adults that is) would get it straight away, he would often mimic well known themes in a similar way to composer Alf Clausen did when working on THE SIMPSONS, creating little parodies and pastiches to enhance certain situations, This I think is a true talent and a sign that the composer is capable of thinking on his feet and adapting quickly, it also displayed that Mothersbaugh had a good knowledge of music. His name then began to appear on numerous TV shows and he would scores series of programmes such as SOUTH BEACH, HOTEL MALIBU, SECOND CHANCES and BEAKMANS WORLD during the 1990’s. Bigger projects soon followed, and the composer made a more permanent move into scoring feature films and worked on productions such as, 21 JUMP STREET, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, THE LEGO MOVIE, 22 JUMP STREET etc, and even returned to scoring THE RUGRATS when they made their big screen appearances. Recently he has written the scores to, PITCH PERFECT 2, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS-THE ROAD CHIP, LEGO THE NINJANGO MOVIE, ME GUSTA, PERA ME ASUSTA and is working on HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3. He also stepped into the shoes of composers such as Patrick Doyle and Brian Tyler for the latest Marvel films production, THOR RAGNAROK. For this he has delivered an invigorating score, the work is a mix of both symphonic and electronic, it contains some pretty impressive epic sounding material but also has to it a more contemporary side, with the composer employing, up tempo percussion and Giorgio Moroder like syths and electric guitars to enhance the action, at the outset of the score, I felt that maybe the producers had done the right thing allowing this composer to score the film, but mid-way through, I have to admit I began to get a little tired of the synthetic sounding material.

 

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A lot of collectors have complained that Marvel movies do not actually contain enough solid themes, well with THOR RAGNAROK, the themes are there well at least there are hints of themes present, but the composer is either not allowed to develop them more fully or does not see the need for them to be developed. Ok don’t get me wrong here, I love the way Mothersbaugh, infuses his score with a kind of mini homage to Brian Tyler, and allows a theme not dissimilar to that of Tyler’s THOR theme to run throughout the work, but again it is just a hint of a theme, where as if he were to have allowed it to grow and develop there might have been something special here to listen to. Towards the end of the score it again begins to return to a more structured and symphonic sounding work, with proud brass flourishes and stirring strings being carried along on a sea of percussive elements that are commanding and thundering. There is even a Jerry Goldsmith sounding cue, that rears its dramatic head in the form of ASGARD IS A PEOPLE, booming percussion, interspersed with jagged brass and underlined by driving strings and choir are fused into an action cue, that is exciting and tense, with a hint of the THOR theme by Tyler being brought in and out of the proceedings as it moves towards its powerful sounding crescendo of a conclusion. After this we are treated to WHERE TO? Which is an uplifting and proud sounding piece again for strings, percussion and brass. But personally, there is too much electronic, too much upbeat nothingness and not enough symphonic, many of the cues sounding like obscure tracks from a KRAFTWERK album. Mixed feelings on this one, which is a shame as Mothersbaugh is in my opinion normally a composer that delivers.

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THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM.

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THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM, is a period horror/drama, that fuses both old school Hammer horror moods and atmospheres with contemporary styled scenarios which are present in horror movies that have been released more recently. The cast is particularly strong and each actor/actress brings something to the movie that is undeniably charismatic and believable. Set in the city of London, this atmospheric and suitably dark movie, is directed by Juan Carlos Medina, and focuses upon a series of murders the perpetrator of which is referred to as THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM, the City is place that is filled with fear as the killer leaves a string of cryptic clues which are written in his victim’s blood. Shades of the Jack the Ripper story are present here and anyone with a little knowledge of the Ripper murders will obviously make comparisons at certain points within the films storyline. The authorities have a few leads which they are pursuing, but as public pressure and fear grows, Scotland Yard enrol the help of an experienced detective, who himself has a chequered and somewhat troubled past. Inspector Kildare is portrayed convincingly by the excellent Bill Nighy, who because of his past seems to think he has only been given the assignment by his superiors so he can fail. As the story progresses Kildare enlists the assistance of one of the key witness, s played by Olivia Cooke. Kildare, tries all he can to stop the grotesque murders and close in on the killer in the hope of bringing him or her to justice. This is a great horror story, and one which is akin to many of the glorious Hammer Gothic horrors which were produced during the 1960, s, simply because of its settings and the way in which it is photographed. The musical score is also something that would not sound out of place in a horror movie that was released during the 1960, s it is filled with a strong symphonic presence and oozes melodies as well as being filled with dark and sinewy passages that have the ability to send a cold shudder up one’s spine. Within the score there is a delicate but at the same time icy touch, which is highly effective and creates some wonderfully hypnotic and fearful interludes. The composer, Johan Soderqvist has worked on several movies in which his music has gained recognition, his ability to create atmospheres and invent innovate musical colours and underline sequences and scenes is stunning. Working on such movies as KON TIKI, KING OF DEVILS ISLAND, THE MURDER FARM, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, JAGARNA 2 and TV projects such as THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES and THE ABSCENT ONE the composer displays a multi-faceted approach to scoring film, his soundtracks are all highly original and there is not a style or sound that one can compare him to as his style is all of his own making.

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The score for THE LIME HOUSE GOLEM, I would have to mark as one of his finest works for cinema, the composer giving the already tense and fear filled storyline even greater depth and virulent and urgent musical persona. But, Soderqvist’s music for the movie also has to it a richness and an opulent and lavish sound that simply envelopes the listener, it is alluring and becomes an important component of the developing storyline, underlining, supporting and at certain points even overpowering the images and scenario being acted out on screen, this is a powerful work, a commanding and haunting soundtrack, that is almost operatic with its imposing growling brass and swirling strings, light flourishes of harpsichord and lilting woodwind and piano performances, the composer lulling the audience into a false sense of security and then suddenly without warning creating a motif that is filled with dread and doom. Soderqvist music for THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM, in my opinion is thus far this year probably the most interesting, worthy and entertaining score for a motion picture, if it is not nominated for an Oscar or a BAFTA then there is something seriously wrong with the system. Its lush and romantic heart is at times overshadowed by its shadowy and dramatic interludes, but the two styles complement each other making this a highly desirable release, and will be a treasured addition to any film music collection.

 

Available on Varese Sarabande records.

1.
The Opening
1:00
2.
John Is Dead
2:11
3.
Marx As The Golem
1:26
4.
Aveline And Lizzie
2:03
5.
Misery Junction
2:38
6.
Dan Offers Lizzie A Job
1:31
7.
Dan Leno As The Golem
3:07
8.
The Theatre
1:06
9.
Give The Public Blood
2:00
10.
The Rape
1:26
11.
Gissing As The Golem
1:38
12.
Dan And Lizzie
3:01
13.
What Did She Know About Railways? (Olivia Cooke)
1:26
14.
Cree As The Golem
2:37
15.
Lizzie And John
1:06
16.
Chasing The Manuscript
1:30
17.
Uncle’s Secret Room
1:13
18.
Race To The Gallows
2:26
19.
Mother And Daughter
1:41
20.
Following Gissing
3:11
21.
The Golem
2:10
22.
The Hanging
1:06
23.
Ratcliff Murders
1:55
24.
The Limehouse Golem End Credits
4:16
25.
I’m Waiting For Him Tonight (Douglas Booth)

 

 

UN SAC DE BILLES.

 

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Based upon the novel A BAG OF MARBLES by Joseph Joffo, UN SAC DE BILLES was directed by Christian Duguay. It is the second film version of the novel the first being released in 1975. The music for this version of the story is the work of the brilliantly talented Armand Amar, he is for me personally a composer who has never disappointed and has always been able to experiment and re-invent himself and his musical styles on every project he is involved with. UN SAC DE BILLES is set in the dark and dangerous days of World War 2, in France and focuses upon two young Brothers, Joseph and Maurice, who are Jewish and are sent to the free zone by their parents. This is a story of both courage and determination and shows how the two siblings escape the occupying Nazi’s and attempt to re-unite their family. The musical score is a delight and contains so many delicately coloured musical themes and textures that it is something I for one listened to three times before sitting down writing this review. I believe composer Armand Aman is a breath of fresh air in film music, and thankfully is one of the very few composers that is working in film today that still creates themes and motifs in an abundance that it is astonishing to think that one person composed all of them. As I have said he is a composer that is not afraid of experimentation, not afraid of using instruments that maybe might seem out of place, because each time he gets the desired effect and results. His music is varied, vibrant and above all innovative. Born in Jerusalem in 1953 he spent his childhood in Morocco, and it is here that he became immersed in the what must have seemed to be the exotic and ethnic sounds of the Country. He taught himself how to play various instruments including the Tablas, Congas and Zarbe, at the same time he familiarized himself with other instruments, many of which the composer has put to effect use within his scores for both television and film. He also studied more traditional music and was classically trained under the guidance of various masters and tutors. In the 1970, s the composer became involved in writing music for dance and felt that he could fully express himself musically via this medium, later when teaching at the Higher National Music School, he began to become focused upon the relationship between music and dance. Since those early days the composer has worked with numerous choreographers who are well known and respected in contemporary dance circles. He began to write music for TV and film during the 1990’s and considering his late arrival onto the film music stage it is truly amazing to see the impressive list of projects he worked upon. Thus far into his career the composer has been involved in the scoring numerous acclaimed documentaries.

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His highly addictive, emotive and haunting compositions have become the beautiful and dramatic background to motion pictures of all genres and not just a background, because his scores are an essential and vitally important component of the film making process. His music essentially becoming another character within a storyline, or being a part of a scene in a documentary or motion picture. The music that he composed for UN SAC DE BILLES is probably a more conventional approach for the composer, by this I mean it is symphonic, and there is not a great deal of ethnic or unusual instrumentation included, this is more of a piano, strings and cello work, and one that is simply spellbinding. The composer has crafted a soundtrack that overflows with highly emotive themes, and is laden with fragile and delicate sounding musical phrases and passages, it underlines and supports the storyline fully, and has all the attributes and rich thematic qualities to enable it to be a heart-warming and enriching listening experience away from the images which it was intended to enhance. Take a listen to track number,19, PARIS EST LIBERE as an example,  this is an uplifting composition for building strings that swell and ooze emotion and are filled with so much joy and relief they sound as if they are fit to burst.  This is a soundtrack that you MUST add to your collection, if you do not then you will so much poorer emotionally without it, and while you are looking for this score, why not take a look at the rest of this composers works, his output is verging on the unbelievable and his talent is boundless.

 

 

PAST LIFE.

 

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The name of composer Cyrille Aufort, has for a few years been popping up here and there, and every time I have experienced his music I have always found it to be rewarding and uplifting. The composers gift for creating melodies and lilting tone poems is quite extraordinary, he has a varied style and approach towards fashioning scores for movies, but in the main takes the classical sounding route as in fully orchestral and symphonic. I would have to say that his style and the sound that he achieves on many of his soundtracks is somewhat similar to Armand Amar, but it is not in any way un-original or mimicking this composers music, Aufort like Amar is in my opinion highly innovative and in many cases employs a brooding or underlying musical persona, which is present throughout or is utilised as a starting point and continues to act as a background or a foundation to the nuances and motifs that the composer creates and basically weaves into it, the effect is at times quite stunning, and on occasion takes one by surprise but it is a nice surprise as more often than not one is not expecting it. I first became acquainted with this style in his score for, L’EMPERUER and again in his work on LA GLACE ET LA CIEL, however, in these two examples the composer did employ a grand sounding thematic content and develop the central themes to a greater level, his music being an essential component of both productions. With L’EMPERUER , being laden with rich themes. Of course, Aufort is more than capable of producing dramatic and even tense and dissonant musical landscapes, and I know that this sounds like a cliché, but the composer is chameleon like when producing music for movies, take SPLICE for example, which was quite a dark work, matching the subject matter. One of his latest soundtracks is for PAST LIFE, this is a perfect example of the versatility and originality of this composer, the score is for most of its duration, somewhat light and melodic, but these melodic passages are not in any way overblown or even grand sounding, in fact they are more like hints of melodies, or small wisps of themes that do not fully develop but still manage to become familiar with the listener. The composer relies predominantly upon, low key strings and woods with fragile sounding piano, harp and female voice to purvey an atmosphere and mood that is emotive, poignant and hauntingly beautiful. The opening theme is a tender and subtle piece with piano delicately performing the opening bars, supported by strings, with a light and melancholy sounding horn, strings develop and swell as the piano expands upon the opening phrases. Track number three, KATOWISE, is slightly more up-tempo, with driving strings of sorts, laying down a foundation for the composer to build on, employing woods and more strings which at times begin to take on a more sinister persona. The composers low-key approach on this score has certainly paid dividends as he has fashioned a work that is not only alluring, but is one that I am sure listeners will return to on many occasions.

 

There are also a handful of cues performed by THE THLEMA YELLIN ALUMNI CHOIR, which are also compelling pieces and are also an important component of the films storyline which is set in 1977. It begins with an Israeli choir performing in Berlin, and we see an older woman looking through the program for the concert, she is drawn to the name of a young woman who is performing solo soprano, and is familiar with it. Later at a gathering after the performance, the older woman in the audience Agnieszka played by Katarzyna Gniewkowska decides that She must speak with the Soprano singer, who’s, name is Sephi and portrayed by actress Joy Rieger. The conversation that entails is a difficult and tense encounter as Sephi speaks no German and the Older woman speaks no Hebrew, but Agnieszka still manages to get over to Sephi that she knew her Father and that he was a murderer. What follows is a storyline that is like a thread being unraveled as Sephi, confides in her sister and together they discover that maybe their Father is not the man they know and love. A tangled web of deceit, dark secrets and heartache unfolds, all of which is matched and punctuated wonderfully by Aufort’s score. The work also contains additional music by, Avner Dorman and Ella Milch-Sheriff.  Recommended.

TRACK LISTING
1 Past Life Theme 2:51
2 Hishki Hizki (composed by Abraham Caseres) 3:33
3 Katowice 1:37
4 Baruch’s Diary Part 1 2:58
5 Photoshoot 2:18
6 Dance Teacher 1:31
7 Warsaw 3:19
8 The Concert (composed by Avner Dorman) 3:07
9 Baruch’s Diary Part 2 2:05
10 Archives 4:35
11 Zielinski 2:31
12 Sefi’s Letter 1:48
13 Berlin 2:43
14 The Time Will Come (composed by Ella Milch-Sheriff) 3:56
15 Baruch and Agnieszka 2:03
16 Past Life End Credits 2:50
17 Cantique de Jean Racine (composed by Gabriel Fauré) 5:29

 

WILD GEESE 2.

 

At last WILD GEESE 2, has been issued on to compact disc, not only is this a fantastic action score, but it is issued on a label that I have much admiration for, CALDERA. It is presented so well with in depth notes courtesy of the informed writer Gergely Hubai, art work by Luis Miguel Rojas and some great pics to, it also includes pictures of excerpts from the handwritten score and a detailed biography of the composer, the CD has a lovely audio clip with Sylvia Budd talking as-well, plus a nice picture of the composer on the front cover sitting at the piano as always smiling in a way that only he could. The productions values on the release are amazing, the sound is so clear and full, so crisp and fresh, another big pat on the back for CALDERA and another thank you for bringing us this wonderful score. WILD GEESE 2 was a sequel of sorts to WILD GEESE which had been released in 1978. The original movie which starred Richard Burton and Richard Harris along with Roger Moore and a cast of familiar actors also giving support was a success at cinemas so the second movie was planned and was written with actor Burton returning as the Faulkner character he had portrayed in the previous picture, but sadly he passed away before filming started and sections of the screenplay had to be re-written.

 

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Poster when Richard Burton was destined to star in the film.

 

Directed by Peter Hunt, the storyline of the movie focuses upon and around top-level Nazi Rudolph Hess portrayed by Laurence Olivier who has important information on prominent political figures. Ruthless TV executives Michael and Kathy Lukas played by John Terry and Barbara Carrera, want to get him out of his prison cell to appear on a live television broadcast. Faulkner played by Edward Fox declines their offer to lead a mission to break Hess free, but recommends Lebanese/American turned mercenary Haddad (Scott Glenn) as a substitute who takes on the mission, which very quickly turns into a nightmare for everyone involved. The film also featured performances by Stratford Johns, Ingrid Pitt and Patrick Stewart

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As soon as the opening track on the soundtrack begins it is so obvious that this is the music of Roy Budd, his unmistakable rousing style for pictures such as this shining through straight away, and establishing immediately a tense but stalwart sounding atmosphere. The composer even includes a little snippet of the original WILD GEESE theme, to further grab our attention, and although this is just literally a micro second it is instantly recognisable. WILD GEESE 2, is in my opinion one of the composers most accomplished action scores, it is brimming with highly dramatic music and has about it a rousing and patriotic sound which every so often raises its head. There is an anthem like central theme that is the foundation on which the composer builds the remainder of the score, it is a relentless and full on work that is performed magnificently by The London Symphony orchestra, conducted by Roy.

 

WILD GEESE, was and still is a Roy Budd signature work, along with other scores such as SOLDIER BLUE and GET CARTER, simply because it is a score that has so many themes and brilliantly fashioned musical passages, WILD GEESE 2, is more of a contemporary sounding work which not only is memorable for its use of tense and exciting cues, but also for its more up-beat and funky sounding tracks that are cleverly woven into the fabric of the fully orchestral score.

I think if I was asked to describe the sound achieved by the composer on WILD GEESE 2, I would probably liken it to his score for WILD GEESE plus it has attributes and quirks of orchestration that can be heard within WHO DARES WINS or THE FINAL OPTION as it was entitled in certain territories. Plus, there are nods of acknowledgement to composers such as John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith and Jerry Fielding, who Roy admired and respected. With that funky sound the composer employed in some of his other film scores, such as FOXBAT, THE CAREY TREATMENT etc, becoming a driving force within the work. The composer keeps up the musical momentum throughout never taking his eye off the ball and creates a score that is just exhilaratingly uplifting and enthralling. The composers use of a funky but apprehensive sound is more evident in track number 4, MOVING ROUND SPANDAU, which has a somewhat easy-going background to begin with, performed on percussion with electric bass punctuating proceedings, this soon develops into something much grander and continues to build and gain momentum, with some truly wonderful brass flourishes acting as musical stabs or mini fanfares of sorts giving the cue greater effect both within the movie and away from it.

 

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Like all Roy Budd soundtracks WILD GEESE 2, has a life of its own away from the images it was intended to enhance, and I must say it is a truly invigorating and rewarding listen. This is a score that is grandiose in the main, but also has some beautifully written quieter moments as in track number, 6, THE ROMANCE BEGINS, which is a delightfully haunting piece that begins with solo piano, which I am guessing must be Roy, this is then joined by light and airy strings which take on the 7, note melody that was initiated by the piano.

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Budd was a gifted pianist as well as a composer as we all are aware, and he was a master at creating what some would call sugary sounding love themes, but I like to refer to these as melodic and memorable tone poems. There is also a vocal version of this cue which Caldera have included at the end of the album, performed by German singer Peter Hoffman, it is too an enjoyable listen. The soundtrack was originally released on a CBS long playing record back in 1985 (CBS 26462), and CALDERA RECORDS compact disc release is the same track line up. The reason for this being that CALDERA wanted to use the composers own master tapes but sadly these had been damaged in a flood and were un-useable, so they contacted Sony music to see if they had any tapes available of the score, fortunately they did but only the LP masters, so it means that the complete score won’t be issued, unless of course someone has copies of the masters safe and sound somewhere, so this means that the music released both on the LP and now the CD is approximately 10 minutes short of being the complete score, but with music of this high quality I am sure we as collectors will not mind at all, as any Roy Budd release is always welcome.

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WILD GEESE 2, is probably one of the composers most infectious soundtracks from the 1980, s, as I for one have not stopped listening to it, and every time I take a listen I find more and more inventive writing, more original musicality and even more ingenious orchestration and arranging skills plus a masterful use of a handful of synthetic instrumentation that is skilfully fused with the conventional line up of the LSO. I don’t think any other composer at the time or indeed in recent years has been able to fuse so many styles and sounds together as Roy Budd has and make them work so well. It has a sumptuous and opulent sound to it, as well as a dramatic and intense style, it is filled with musical colours and textures that evoke memories of an age that is long gone within the area of scoring films, it has wonderful themes, it has emotion and it has that funky groove which keeps things moving along at pace and it has the unmistakable musical fingerprint of Roy Budd all over it. This is CALDERA RECORDS 22nd release, and is an important one because it fills a gap within Roy Budd’s discography, and is a fitting tribute to this kind, friendly man who just happened to be able to write some of the best film music ever. One to add to your collection ASAP.

 

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1. Main Title (4:35)
2. Cat and Mouse in Berlin (3:35)
3. Solitary Confinement (3:46)
4. Moving Around Spandau (3:16)
5. The Wall (1:50)
6. The Romance Begins (2:36)
7. Plot and Deceit (2:22)
8. Attempt to Free Hess (8:31)
9. Escape (1:37)
10. End Titles (2:46)
11. Say You’ll Be Mine (4:45)
Performed by Peter Hoffmann
Bonus:
12. Audio Commentary by Sylvia Budd