Category Archives: Reviews

ZODI AND TEHU-BROTHERS OF THE DESERT.

Zodi is a a 12-year-old nomad, who discovers an orphan baby dromedary (Camel) in the desert. He takes in animal, feeds him, baptizes him Tehu and becomes his best friend. Zodi learns from a veterinarian, Julia, that Tehu is an exceptional runner and that he can bring in a lot of money for his tribe. But the qualities of his young dromedary arouse the greed of Tarek the poacher of the region.

To prevent Tehu from being sold, Zodi then decides to flee and cross the Sahara. It is during this trip that Zodi will face Tarek, survive a sandstorm, and cross the sea of ​​salt with the ultimate goal of entering Tehu in the biggest camel race in the world in Abu Dhabi. With Julia’s help, Zodi  struggles to realize his dream, make Tehu a champion and save his tribe. But I am guessing things do work out in the end in this family adventure that Disney would probably be proud to have been involved with.

MIKA.

The musical score for this adventure is outstanding, thematic, gloriously melodious and filled to the hilt with emotive and poignant compositions. The music is the work of Mika, Yes Mika the vocalist and international singing sensation that has had numerous hits around the globe. The music for the movie is I have to admit something of a change for the artiste, but it is a wonderful soundtrack, a touching example of how music can bring to the surface so many emotions and feelings and enhance and underline the storyline of a movie.

It’s a symphonic work, with vocals and chorale performances. The soundtrack includes various styles,.

Arabic sounding pieces are worked into the more western sounding compositions, the composer fusing them together to fashion at times mischievous and comedic moods and also at other times creating beautiful romantically laced passages alongside dramatic and driving interludes. It is a dramatic and thematic work, a varied score that is entertaining and uplifting. I for one look forward to more from Mika as a film music composer. Available now on digital platforms….yes its recommended.

KNOCK AT THE CABIN.

A score that I was immediately drawn to was Knock at the Cabin, it’s the latest horror thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, a master of the dark and foreboding, and a purveyor of the unsettling and the apprehensive. Knock at the Cabin, has an inventive, alternative, atmospheric, and totally absorbing score by Herdis Stefansdottir. Being a horror movie one does not expect to hear music that is maybe alluring or compelling, but this score is both because of the sheer inventiveness of the music. Yes, it is foreboding, atonal, virulent, and deeply harrowing at times, but like I said this is a score for a horror movie.

Herdis Stefansdottir

The work is a fusion of both symphonic sounds and synthetic elements, the composer bringing them together seamlessly and effectively to create a superbly edgy and dark sounding soundtrack.

I love the way in which she utilizes solo violin, in the cue But You Will, the background sounds shadowy and spidery but the mood is lightened a little as the violin purveys a sad sounding theme, it’s a marvelously affecting composition, and at the same time a confusing one, as it does not really give anything away, so we are not sure when listening to this just as music if this is a moment of respite or maybe the pre-cursor to scenes of violence or shock.

Either way the composer successfully realizes an uneasy and tense atmosphere, and this can be said for the remainder of the score, in tracks such as Grab the Gun there is a greater emphasis upon urgency, driving percussive elements punctuate strings and synths empowering them and pushing them forward, bringing to fruition a nerve jangling persona.

A similar style is employed in Get in The Bathroom, but on this occasion is more developed and gains tempo to make it even more driving and threatening. It’s one of those moments that we experience when we are listening to a soundtrack that we think, how did they do that, this is good, wow no this is great.

What we have here is a brilliant score, no matter if you are not a fan of the genre it is from, the freshness and the originality of the music just speaks volumes. The score also boasts some beautiful sounding themes as in Epilogue, that has to it a luxurious yet apprehensive style, it has a haunting melody that shines through as if it is saying there is hope, or at least this is what I felt personally. And within the track Sacrifice and Departure I sensed shades of Herrmann or Goldsmith. It possesses real soul and has to it a heartrending yearning, which is emotive and hypnotic. This is an accomplished score that I recommended to you. Available on digital platforms now.

ASTERIX AND OBELIX-L’EMPIRE DU MILIEUA.

Matthieu Chedid, better known by his stage name -M-, is a French rock singer-songwriter and guitar player. Since 2018, he has been the most awarded artist at the Victoires de la Musique Awards with 13 awards, tied with Alain Bashung. He has just recently scored the latest addition to the ever growing Asterix franchise entitled Aterix and Obelix L’Empire du Milieua, in which we seethe only daughter of the Chinese emperor Han Xuandi, escape from a strict prince and seeks help from the Gaul’s and the two brave warriors Asterix and Obelix.

The music is a mix of dramatic and upbeat flourishes, with obvious references to the Chinese connection in the storyline, via vocals and oriental styles. It’s an impressive and epic sounding score, filled with fanfares and martial sounding interludes, he composer also weaving ethnic Chinese instrumentation into his score and combining these with percussive elements and voices.

There are also gloriously romantic and melancholy compositions within the score, and a handful of more contemporary sounding pieces, in which we hear the composers rock background shine through. Like the movie the score too is filled with fun and mischievous interludes and even two spaghetti western themed compositions with whistler and electric guitar underlined by choir and percussion.

I also detected a nod to Morricone in the cue entitled Tu Nes Pas Un Peu Dang which has a sound that evokes the dramatic non-thematic material that Morricone employed within his score for Navajo Joe, dark piano, booming percussion being the dominant elements.  The composer even pays homage to Morricone’s Once Upon a Time in America, as he utilises an arrangement of Deborah’s Theme, which is wonderfully touching. Plus there is his arrangement of The Ecstasy of Gold, again well done and although slightly different from the original it is still just as powerful.

Obviously the director of the movie and the composer are big Morricone fans. We are also treated to cover versions of We Will Rock You and I’ve Had the Time of My Life,  well it is a comedy.

Many, of the cues are brief but still manage to attract the listeners attention and hold it. I love the way in which the composer combines soprano voice throughout underlining it with both symphonic and synthetic instrumentation. This is an entertaining work and I suggest that you check it out on digital platforms, you will love it.

JONAS WIKSTRAND, COMPOSER AND SOUND DESIGNER.

Driven by passion from early childhood, composer & sound designer Jonas Wikstrand is constantly inspired to evoke emotion through unique sounds and original music. Jonas started playing the violin at age of 3 and started composing music at 6, and has since then been working in tons of musical directions. From working with large symphonies to producing Grammy winning rock bands, Jonas has created a very diverse discography throughout the years. In the last years Jonas has been concentrating on developing an original voice in the big white noise of music & sounds for visual media, with the objective to tailor art that stands today and in the future to come.

Jonas Wikstrand.

Your first scoring assignment was in 2010 for a short film entitled Serenade, how did you break into writing music for film? 

I guess ‘The Serenade’ was technically my first paid film I worked on, but I worked on several student projects before that. My thought in the beginning, when I was still a student, was not to approach established filmmakers but to approach people that were also film students at the time. That was a great way to learn the craft of scoring properly and to get a bunch of projects on my resume for a showcase. One of the students I worked with got hired to direct and produce a short film and he asked me to do the music. That was ‘The Serenade’. A lot of the students I approached I still work with today. Now 15 years later we’re all being established professionals. 

Was this a career that you set out to do or did you initially have another path in mind?

After I decided to not become a professional ice hockey player when I was 10-11, I knew I wanted to work with music. I worked in so many fields of music before I was scoring films. I ran a recording studio, I played in a piano bar, I was a drum and band teacher and I toured the world with a heavy metal band. During my youth I composed a lot of concert music with visual context but no pictures. When I scored my first film I instantly felt I could use all my knowledge from all fields in one profession. I’ve been hooked ever since!

You began to play violin aged three and started to compose at 6, what formal musical education did you receive?

I started playing at the local music school where I grew up. Even at a very young age my dad had my practice the violin every day. But it wasn’t until I started to create my own music in the mid 90s that I felt the meaning of it all. When I was 6 years old people migrated from 2D video games to computer powered 3D video games. I felt so dizzy playing those games so instead I found a software called Fasttracker 2. This was an early version of a MIDI-programming based software that you could write and program music in. That’s how I started working with music production. Other than that, I’ve studied music and composition in high school, and then I’ve got a bachelor’s degree at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

As well as a composer you are a multi-instrumentalist, how many instruments do you play?

I love playing instruments and I love creating tracks of me layering myself. So It’s more that I have a sound in mind and I keep working until I get there even if it takes a lot of practicing. It’s helpful to both be playing both strings and woodwinds however. It helps me create organic sounding music without having to rely on samples. 

You are also credited as a sound designer, is this basically scoring a film but with sounds, fx and dialogue, etc? 

Yes that is correct, I worked as a sound designer for multiple TV shows, feature films, trailers and commercials.

When scoring a film do you have a set routine in the way that you approach it, by this I mean do you like to create a central theme and build the remainder of the score around this, or maybe you write the smaller cues first and then move onto to bigger pieces?

I like to read the script, take a look at the mood board, read the character descriptions etc. and then just move away from it all to compose freely. It often starts with me jamming for hours on an instrument. When ideas start to come I go to references and listen to get inspired from other music. After that I create a conceptual suite with themes, ideas, sounds and what not. It’s not until I have the concept down that I start composing to pictures. 

 When creating music for a commercial is it harder establishing a musical identity or sound because of the short duration of the project?

The most success I had with commercials have been from sync licensing where the music I’ve done is being placed in the spot by an editor. However, the times I’ve scored commercials I approached it the same way as I would with longer projects. I feel like for any duration the tone and the concept is just as important.

How many times do you watch a film or project before you start to put together ideas for the score? 

Usually just one or two times. Then I move away from the visuals and compose freely before jamming to the pictures. If I would start scoring and working on a sequence with, let’s say 30 seconds of music for an opening cue, I want to know what that music is going to develop into at the end of the film. I need to have the basic dramaturgy down, like how the screenwriter works. That’s why I need the thematic DNA written before I can start with pictures.

A recent score of yours is for the TV series, Kronprisen Som Forsvann, which had 18 episodes I think, do you score these in the order that the episodes are to be shown, and as it is a series do you ever re-cycle any music from earlier episodes into later ones?

It was 24 episodes! 🙂 I worked with a handful of themes that kept returning and developed throughout the duration of the series. Even though a lot of similar music reappeared in the series all scenes were specifically scored and tweaked to the pictures. But again, I knew where I wanted to land in the last episode so I kept hinting and revealing more and more of the music as the series progressed. 

Staying with the series and your score, how many live players as well as yourself did you have for the project and what electronic elements did you have?

I played all the parts myself for that series. Instrumentation for most music was violin, nyckelharpa, viola, cello, recorder, clarinet, mandolin, bouzouki, guitar & double bass. 

Are there any composers, bands or artists that have inspired you or influenced the sound and style that you employ in your film scores?

I probably get inspired from everything I see and hear. What to do and what not to do! haha. I watch a lot of animated movies these days with my daughter. Those films often have so much elaborate and fun music which is really inspiring. Often, it’s composed in certain genres. I love composing in genres!

Have you encountered the temp track, and is this a tool that you find useful when working on a project? 

I don’t mind temp tracks. If the director is very specific about the tempo of the scene it could save many feedback rounds to just have a temp track to show general direction. I don’t mind not having a temp track either. I enjoy the mix of different approaches for different projects.

What would you say is the job of music in film?

Listen. Communicate. Collaborate. Understanding story. Translating story into music. You’re just as much of a filmmaker and storyteller as a composer. Use your identity and uniqueness and don’t listen to much how other composers are working

 Håkan Bråkan is a great score filled with energy and its so much fun, with references to a few scores by the likes of Grusin and Williams etc, did the producers have specific ideas about what route the music should take in the movie?

Oh thank you so much! I think your review of the score captured the whole discussion I initially had with the director, (ha ha). We wanted homages from a bunch of classics but with a unique identity that felt like our film.

What is coming up for you?

I just started working on an animated feature which really excites me at the moment! Then I’ll be working on a sequel to Håkan Bråkan this year. And then there’s a lot of other projects under NDA right now, I’ll keep you updated! 🙂

https://www.jonaswikstrand.com/musicreel

QUEL POSTO NEL TEMPO – (That Place in Time).

Memory is a door with which to cross time, but the key to open that door is Love.

As a collector of movie score’s, I am always on the lookout for new and inspiring material at a time when maybe film music is probably not that inventive, melodious, or innovative.

Just today a composer sent me a message saying this is a score I have been involved with recently, I listened to the first few tracks, and I must admit I was totally consumed and smitten by the sheer beauty and emotion of the score, the richness of its themes is stunning and the artistry and perfect performances of the soloists and players involved on the project are all phenomenal all of which are members of the Orchestra of Conservatorie of Rovigo.

I straight away went looking for the movie which is Quel Posto nel Tempo (That Place in Time) and found that it is about conductor who has dementia, a dreadful illness that destroys lives and wipes out memories.  Mario (Leo Gullotta), a retired conductor, spends his days in a luxury resort and care facility in the South of England, he has long suffered from Alzheimer’s and is often bombarded by thoughts and images of his past. Images and thoughts that disappear as swiftly as they have manifested themselves due to the cruel illness. He lives every day with the fear that the disease will erase his past, but above all he fears losing his thoughts of the love of his wife Amelia (Giovanna Rei), who died years before, and of his daughter Michela (Beatrice Arnera).

The reality of his days are confused between flashbacks and imaginary visions, which work in such a way that the viewer also  experiences first hand, through the eyes of the protagonist, the terror of debilitating and confusing illness. The movie is directed with passion and compassion by filmmaker Giuseppe Alessio Nuzzo.

The score is so heartwarming and affecting it is I must admit difficult not to become caught up with it and shed a tear or two in the process. Quel Posto nel Tempo (That Place in Time) has to it poignant and haunting compositions. Many of the pieces within the score are written by different composers as it is a genuinely collaborative work, a labour of love that in essence is a homage to the music of Italian cinema. Why? Well, because there are many nods of acknowledgement throughout the work that evoke memories of the trademark sounds of Italian film music, lilting thematic material, touching piano solos, subtle woodwind, melancholy cello and violin solos, guitar performances and exquisite wordless female voice that at times is supported by more voices bringing an ethereal sound to the proceedings. There are no standout tracks as the entire score is magnificent and each cue has to it a heartfelt and heartbreaking musical persona a musical voice that reaches out touches one’s heart and awakens one’s emotions.

I hear in the score the genius of Ennio Morricone, the subtle yet majestic style of Marco Frisina, and the beauty and melodic lushness of Nino Rota. With affiliations and inspiration being taken from the works of Max Richter and Abel Korzeniowksi too, with some of the composers applying certain compositional techniques that they had been studying under the guidance of Maestro Biscarini. This is a powerful score, a gracious and affecting work that is overflowing with delicate nuances and fragile tone poems.

The score as I say is a collaborative or collective effort which was the work project of the master’s in film music led by David di Donatello Winner Marco Biscarini: with whom the composers and performers are attending research studies about contemporary film music, they agreed together about the music elements of the score’s ostinatos, harmonics, functional harmony and opera elements too, because of the opera scenes in the movie. The opera scenes being performed by Rovigo Conservatorie Students: from Gluck’s Orfeo and from Puccini’s Turandot these scenes being directed by Anna Cuocolo.

Composer Michele Catania who is one of the contributors on the score and composed the Love Theme and the Main song for the movie, said “My theme is linked to Italian melody, but it is written in 6/4 to recreate the expanded time of memories, and the strings often are covering the voice: the maximum level of affection in the song is representing the maximum damage of the Illness”.

Come la musica (M. Catania)

Italian Lyrics

Se I miei ricordi sono qui

E

La mia realtà ormai fugge via

 Se

Quando ti scrivo Tu torni ancora qui davanti alle mie mani Il tempo scappa via E ti allontana più da me

 Se

 Il miei dolori sono qui Ma Io non li afferro perché so

Che

Come la musica Mi sfuggon via Non riesco a farli miei Ma sono dentro me Come te che resti qui Con me.

Temporary English version.

I see my memories that flow Through My mind that returns back again, And When I am writing To you I’m feeling as if You’re in front of my hands. My time is running out And brings you too far from my brain. If All of my damages are here, But I am not bringin’ anymore And It’s like the music does. They run away I can’t make them myself My pains are still in me As if you were staying here With me. 

The song Come la Musica is performed on the soundtrack by vocalist Sara D’Arielli, accompanied by Claudia Lapolla on violin and Alessia Bruno on cello, the conductor for this piece is Stefano Celeghin, who was one of three conductors involved with the score the other two being André Bellmont and Yati Durant. The vocal version of the piece is also presented in instrumental form which is breath-taking, the violin and cello soaring and intertwining to realise a sound and emotion that is consuming and passionate.  It’s an interesting fact that this is the film score to be produced by a Conservatoire which included the music, sound design and internal music such as the Opera’s all under the supervision of Marco Biscarini. It is such a polished and effectual work I hope it is not the last.

This is a heart wrenchingly alluring score, a bittersweet and tantalising listen, that will stay with you forever. Composers who collaborated on the score for the movie include, Dino Viceconte, Giuliano Romagnesi, Davide Tura, Luca Brembilla, Rodolfo Matulich, Federico Ciompi, Alessio Pasquale, Biagio Mauro Mariano and Michele Catania.

With Adriano Aponte contributing to the score in his own right and being the main credited composer on the movie. It is a great achievement for a score such as this to be partly composed and produced by members of a Conservatoire collectively, and I recommend it without reservation.

There is so much within this score it literally oozes emotions and has to it wide variety of colours and textures that go to make up a stunning piece of movie music.

 If you miss out on this wonderful soundtrack you will be poorer for doing so. The score is available via Soul Trade music on digital platforms, please check it out. Mention must also be made of the audio department, that recorded and mixed the music, Antonio Ministeri orchestra manager, Francesco Petronelli orchestra supervisor and Daniele Ceciliot who recorded and mixed the Vincenzo Cavalli mix for Tema lirico that will be released very soon. Highly recommended.