Category Archives: Reviews

NOSTALGIA.

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Directed by filmmaker Mark Pellington, NOSTALGIA is I suppose like a compilation of personal stories that are all linked by the way possessions are an important part of remembering ones past and recalling people, places and scenarios within a life. I know that I remember certain times bad or good if I hear a particular piece of music or find an old photograph, its not just the photo or the music that affects me but it is the memories that you recall and images that coming flooding back because of that piece of music or that photograph and in some cases my recollections have been triggered by a smell or a taste.

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So, I think this is the focus of the movie’s storyline. It is also about love and loss within a lifetime and about people, possessions and occurrences that shape and effect that life. As you can imagine this is a very intimate and personal movie, and one that I would say is absorbing, affecting and touching. For the musical score composer Laurent Eyquem created fragile and delicate tone poems that are filled with emotion, melancholy and poignant melodies. These melodies are in fact so affecting and haunting it is hard to listen to the soundtrack without becoming emotional. The composer utilises cello, strings and piano in the main to weave an alluring collection of themes that mesmerise the listener. The sound of the piano underlined by soft and subdued strings is quite stunning, the melodic content of the themes at times overwhelming one’s emotions. The trumpet also plays an important part within the score, at times the softly played instrument mirrors or embellishes the piano’s melodies but at the same time is responsible for adding greater depth and atmosphere to the proceedings.
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The composer has written a score of immense beauty that is elegant and graceful, it is also a score that contains many textures and colours that are sensitive and refined. This is an incredibly expressive work which I have listened to over and over many times and each time I am moved and affected by its delicacy and tenderness. To say one cue is better than another is impossible, or to name a highlight or stand out piece is something I cannot do with this score, as each track on the release is simply exquisite, it is a score that I know you will revisit again and again after your first listen, I also know that like me you will be mesmerised and affected by each note, each theme and each track as the alluring melodies wash over you and invade your mind. This is a must have soundtrack.

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THE DARKEST MINDS.

 

DARK NIND

 

Benjamin Wallfisch is most certainly a composer of many talents and one who employs a varied selection of styles, colours and textures within his film scores. THE DARKEST MINDS is no exception and benefits from the Wallfisch treatment. The movie which is action led and science fiction, contains a soundtrack that overflows with a rich and wonderfully thematic content. Wallfisch has created a score that is a combination of both symphonic and electronic, but it is a movie that I think called for a score that was a combination of the two mediums, because of its ingenious and somewhat disturbing storyline. The thing is I also believe THE DARKEST MINDS is essentially a love story and this too is reflected in the romantic and emotive writing of Wallfisch, who manages to meld and fashion symphonic and electronic to bring forth a beautiful and at times bitter sweet soundtrack. The composer also makes effective use of female wordless voice in a very similar fashion to that of Morricone in some of his earlier soundtracks. The melancholy, the emotion and the wonderfully poignant atmosphere shines through in almost every cue and I have to say it is a quality work and one that I listened to three maybe four times in a row when I first heard it. This is another great soundtrack from this now highly respected film music Maestro, just one complaint there are a couple of cues which maybe have been influenced by certain composers who are working in movies today and composers that Wallfisch has worked with in recent months, and although effective within the film the cues do tend to be repetitive and fairly un-inspired, having no real fabric or development, but rather just crashing along without much direction but saying this there are other action cues which work extremely well both in the movie and away from it.  Apart from this I think that THE DARKEST MINDS will be a soundtrack that collectors will savour, enjoy and return to, tracks such as ZU’s DREAM is a fusion of the symphonic and the synthetic, but in this case it does work and builds the tension and creates an atmosphere and mood which is dark and fraught with danger. But, then you have tracks like HOME, this is a poignant and highly emotional piece, performed by strings and piano, it is one of those cues that one knows is going to be good as it begins. Lilting piano underlined by strings, open the proceedings, but the string section soon come into their own the core theme of the piece beginning to swell and become a dominant feature within the composition, it them fades back to low and more down tempo strings that are joined by piano, which punctuates as the track moves along. In many ways this is the style I prefer to hear from the composer, it is so mesmerising and tantalizing that it renders the listener somewhat helpless and silent, simply because the music is so tender, sweet and attractive. THE DARKEST MINDS is a soundtrack I will recommend, but for the romantic and more melancholy parts as opposed to the harsh sounding synthetic action cues that I mentioned.

KING OF THIEVES.

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Based upon the true-life events of the HATTON GARDEN robbery, KING OF THIEVES is an entertaining and engrossing movie. The same can be said of the musical score which is composed by Benjamin Wallfisch. The sound realised for the soundtrack is a combination of contemporary and has to it a slightly 1960’s edge in some of the cues. The composer utilising big band styles that are combined with jazz orientated sections and dramatic and tense thematic material that I think you will agree sounds like a fusion of the styles of Quincy Jones and John Barry. But, there is also present a style that is driving and action led. This could be the soundtrack to another instalment of the SHAFT series or even the score for a new Harry Palmer tale or maybe THE MAN FROM UNCLE? This is a slick and sophisticated work, filled with toe tapping musical lines and has to it that big band sound on which the composer builds a more dramatic and tense sounding score. On listening to it and not being aware of the composer, the names Fielding, Schifrin, Barry, Goldsmith, Hayes and Legrand come to mind.

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There was a movie released in the 1960’s entitled ROBBERY music was by Johnny Keating I think, and he successfully mixed jazz sounds with that of the dramatic, creating an effecting soundtrack that supported and enhanced the movie. I believe Wallfisch has succeeded in creating a score that not only fits the movie like a glove but also has fashioned music that is highly entertaining on its own. In fact, it’s an album that one could put on and just listen to without it being connected in any way to the movie. Legrand did it with THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, Schifrin with BULLIT and Barry on movies such as THE IPCRESS FILE.

 

 

 

The composer combines the brassy sounds of big band with strings and woods and punctuates these with bass and electric guitar which are augmented by effective usage of cymbalom. This is just an entertaining musical romp which is highlighted by the jazz arrangement of THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY in the form of THE SUGAR PLUM RAID, its fresh, fun and one to add to the collection, Now.

CLASH OF FUTURES.

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Movie score Media is a record label that I really adore, not only do they champion lesser known composers, but they also release soundtracks by composers that collectors are familiar with that ordinarily would not see a digital or CD release. One of the labels recent releases is the score from the television series CLASH OF FUTURES which has a stunning soundtrack composed by Laurent Eyquem. Laurent is a composer of note as far as I am concerned, he has written the music for many movies and been associated with television productions, you may be familiar with his music via films such as COPPERHEAD, MOMENTUM, NOSTALGIA and the excellent USS INDIANAPOLIS-MEN OF COURAGE. It is I think somewhat unfair that a composer such as this does not seem to get the adulation and the focus from collectors that is so richly deserved. His music is varied and innovative the composer consistently producing scores that are of a high quality and filled with rich and vibrant themeatic material.

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This latest offering from the composer is an intense and entertaining listen, it is overflowing with themes that are lush and haunting as well as having its fair share of darker and more sinister sounding material. In CLASH OF FUTURES one can hear the style and the individual musical fingerprint of Eyquem, drama and action being conjured up by the smouldering and tense music. Most of the score has to it an apprehensive and slow building persona, but it does at times break into a more grandiose and driving symphonic style at times surprising the listener with a richness and lavishness that can be breath-taking. The score also possesses a more intimate side that for me evoked the style of composers John Barry and Ennio Morricone muted trumpet and what I think could be flugelhorn play against a kind of rippling piano solo feature as do strings and percussive elements, all these components combine and fuse together to create a sound and style that is infectious. I love the way in which the composer fashions brooding and slow building pieces throughout, layering strings and enhancing these with percussion, adding to the instrumentation as the cue develops to construct an effective and affecting sound, he also utilises Soprano voices at key moments which give the work an almost otherworldly sound that is haunting and mesmerising, with choir also being utilised effectively.

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As is the way these days in contemporary film music the score does have synthetic support but this blends and fuses seamlessly with that of the symphonic. Laurent Eyquem is a composer who has the talent and ability to create wonderful tone poems that enhance and support every project he is involved with, and as well as serving the images and storylines the composer also manages to create music that is enjoyable to sit and listen to away from those images and scenarios. There are no highlight moments within the score, because each track each piece and each theme is a highlight itself. The combination of sorrowful but attractive cello and piano at times is memorable and enriching.  Original sounding orchestration and imaginative use of brass instruments is noticeable, and as I have mentioned can be likened to the style of Morricone, a style and sound that  catches the listeners attention throughout. One for the collection, one of the best scores thus far this year.  Available as a digital download and later will be released as a physical CD on Quartet records.  Highly recommended.

 

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THREE OF SCOTT’S FINEST

 

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The artistry and the musical excellence and prowess of composer John Scott never fails to amaze me and although we have not heard a great deal of new material from the Maestro in recent years it is just great at times to go back through one’s collection and pick out a handful of titles and re-visit them. This something I did recently after interviewing record producer Bruce Kimmel, who had released Scott’s entertaining soundtrack to ROCKET TO THE MOON on his KRITZERLAND label and hinted that maybe THE LONG DUEL would also be seeing a compact disc release soon. So, I thought as I am lucky enough to have a good LP transfer of the score on a CDR (which I did myself for personal use only) I would share my thoughts with you on this and a few more of Scott’s soundtracks. But, where to start?
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Ok, WILLIAM THE CONQUERER, is as good as any I suppose seeing as my ancestors arrived in England with the Norman conquest of 1066. WILLIAM THE CONQUERER was the first in a series of historical dramas which went under the collective name of BLOOD ROYAL. The music composed and conducted by John Scott is fully symphonic and contains choral tracks which are in keeping with the period in which the story is set. Directed by Peter Jefferies and produced by Peter Snell it starred Michael Gambon, Anna Calder Marshall and William Rufus. The score was divided into three musical styles, the more traditional dramatic or action film score, choral sections performed by the Gregory Choir of London and music that was akin to music that would have been performed during the times of William the first. It has to it the unmistakable sound and style that we as collectors straight away associate with composer John Scott, surging strings and proud anthem like brass that are underlined by percussion. WILLIAM THE CONQUERER has to it an English sound, by this I mean that it is melodic and often has a pastoral style. The period music or music that is imagined to have been performed at the time when the story is set is also well done and entertaining, the composer obviously carried out research on the period before starting work on the score and he manages to flawlessly fuse and combine all three styles within the score seamlessly. There are some wonderfully themeatic cues within the score and I have to say it is a soundtrack that once you press play the only time you will reach for any of the buttons on the player is to press PLAY so that may experience it all over again. The score is a powerful one and performed by The Berlin Radio Concert Orchestra, with whom Scott worked with on numerous occasions. The soundtrack was released on JOS records in 1990, sadly some copies fell foul to the dreaded CD rot and turned a golden colour with some of the tracks becoming unplayable, but thankfully most were not afflicted by this. This I think is one of Scott’s best soundtracks, there is so much going on within the work, it is highly dramatic, romantic and has a driving and potent core that acts as a musical foundation on which the composer builds an impressive score.  It does seem to be something of a rarity nowadays, so if you do manage to find one grab it A.S.A.P.

 

Next THE LONG DUEL, it is somewhat surprising that this has never made it to compact disc. Originally issued on an ATCO long playing record, THE LONG DUEL is an action-packed movie set on India’s Northwest frontier in the days of The Raj. It focuses upon a rebel leader (Sultan) played by Yul Brynner who is threatening the stability of the region and therefore is pursued by the authorities under the leadership of a Colonial Police Officer (Young) played by British actor, Trevor Howard. Released in 1967 the film was directed by Ken Annakin and starred Charlotte Rampling, Harry Andrews. Edward Fox, Imogen Hassal and Andrew Keir. Composer John Scott provided a suitable action led soundtrack under the name of Patrick John Scott. The composer providing a sweeping and highly melodic opening theme entitled WHEN THE WORLD IS READY which opens the recording, Scott’s signature strings making a romantic and commanding opening statement and setting the scene for what is to follow, Scott included ethnic sounding instrumentation in the form of Sitar and percussion into the fabric of the dramatic score, which also added a certain degree of authenticity to the proceedings. Alongside the Indian sounding musical passages, we also hear music that is more British sounding in the form of dance tracks entitled STRUTTING which has to it a slightly comedic persona. But it is Scott’s wistful and dramatic sounding brass and strings that steal the show as they weave in and out, playing like a cat and mouse game one trying to catch the other, which fits perfectly into the storyline of the movie. One such track is THE TRAIN which is scored with driving strings, brass, woods and martial sounding percussion. THE HANGING BRIDGE INCIDENT is also a powerful piece, again booming percussion and Walton-esque strings combined with shrill woods and sharp sounding brass are the order of the day here. Overall a fine example of the film music of John Scott and one which I hope will be available soon on compact disc.
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From the North west frontier, we move now further East to Japan and to the 17th Century, SHOGUN MAYEDA was released in 1991 with the soundtrack  released on Intrada records. This is typical John Scott and is  a soundtrack filled to brimming with rich and gloriously rich sounding themes, flyaway strings and wistful woods being augmented and driven by strings and brass that is embellished by booming percussion. It was a perfect assignment for the composer as he is passionate about Japanese history and culture and also excels at scoring action and epic movies, so SHOGUN MAYEDA gave him the opportunity to write a score that literally oozes and radiates strong themes and also has to it a fragility and a delicate side. Let us just say this is a soundtrack you should already own, if not why not and if not, what are you waiting for, find it buy it love it. So three scores, three very different movies but all made great by the inspiring and theme laden music of John Scott.