Category Archives: Reviews

THE SHAPE OF WATER.

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Composer Alexandre Desplat has made a name for himself within the film music community in a relatively short space of time, his music for me is highly emotive and sensitive. The composer can create touching and fragile sounding themes that enhance support and underline any scenario that is taking place on screen. He is also a composer that is at home within any genre or, so it seems. Likened to Georges Delerue and compared with the likes of Morricone and John Barry, he is certainly one of the leading lights when it comes to movie music. His latest assignment is THE SHAPE OF WATER, which is currently doing the rounds and his work on the movie has already garnered him a Golden Globe Award. THE SHAPE OF WATER contains a score that is somewhat varied, but not in a bad or negative way. Desplat, treats us to a feast of delicate and light nuances that trip in and out of the listeners sub conscious long after they have finished listening to the work. These fragile nuances and emotive musical passages tantalise and enthral one as the score progresses and grows.

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There is a definite Barry-esque sound present throughout the work, but also there is the style and musical identity of Desplat, which combined with the gentle nod to John Barry creates a soundtrack that is highly listenable in every way possible. The composer employs soft woods alongside plaintiff sounding strings and subdued piano and harp at certain points, there are also faraway sounding horns that combine with strings and accordion to create a dramatic but at the same time jaunty sounding motif, which is affecting as well as effecting within the context of the movie. This is a score that not only enhances and supports the images upon the screen, but it is a work that is an important and integral part of the movie itself as if the music is another character that is involved with the scenes and scenarios. Or is like an artist that is painting the emotions and into the scenes, elevating them and giving them greater depth and impact. I am not going to highlight any one cue from the score as I enjoyed every one of them. It is a soundtrack that you will love, with its delicate tone poems that exude fragility and purvey an emotive aura that is crushingly beautiful. We have with THE SHAPE OF WATER, poignancy, drama and a somewhat sinister and chilling undertone, so something for everyone, please go and buy this.  The album also includes a handful of vocals, but even these are pleasing and appealing.

 

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SKYBOUND.

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Another new release from the Movie Score Media stable, this is a label that must be congratulated for not only its output but also for the high standard of new film scores that it discovers and introduces to collectors. Along with these scores we are also introduced to composers that are often under our radar or overshadowed by the major film music Maestros. SKYBOUND is a 2017 thriller, with a score by German Born composer Andrew Reich, maybe you have not heard his name before or seen it on the credits to movies, but he has been involved with many motion pictures and television projects. Reich has been nominated for numerous awards and has also been the recipient of Awards for his work in film. Reich is a student of composer Christopher Young and within SKYBOUND one can certainly hear some similarities to Young’s action orientated soundtracks. Maybe similarities is the wrong word, but there are at certain points little references or maybe small quirks of orchestration that do evoke past film scores penned by Young. I love the way in which Reich employs brass and percussive elements within the work, there is a powerful and somewhat fearsome sound being cultivated throughout by the combination of these, plus the composer adds a sense of tension and urgency via effective use of strings which are at times further embellished by crashing percussion. The opening theme SKYBOUND is something of a high-octane affair, at first opening with quite easygoing strings which act as a background to solo piano, but the tempo and mood of the track is soon altered as both symphonic and electronic elements are brought into the equation, the composer introducing voices into the mix and an underlying tense meandering piano which adds an atmosphere that is filled with apprehension and foreboding. Track two, ROCKY MOUNTAINS, is also a tense affair, and begins with slightly subdued driving strings which are supported by percussion, the percussion creating an even greater depth of pressure and stress, for me the cue is like a ticking bomb which although we know will end in a destructive explosion is kind of calming in the build up to the conclusion. The composer really fashions a true sense of foreboding and exigency in the opening of this cue, but this melts away and gives way to a more serene and melodic sound which is performed on strings and woods with the assistance of voices. The piano work on the score is haunting, the composer weaving little nuances and hints of themes into the work, which he then goes onto develop further, utilizing brass and strings. SKYBOUND, is a soundtrack that I am confident will be enjoyed by many, it is commanding and potent and has to it a formidable sound. Another entertaining soundtrack release from Movie Score Media, one for your collection. I look forward to more from Andrew Reich, in the form of his up and coming score for a western entitled BULLET VEIN. SKYBOUND is available digitally on I Tunes and Spotify.

 

 

MMS17022 • SKYBOUND (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Music Composed by ANDREW REICH
Release date (digital): December 22, 2017
TRACK LISTING
1 Skybound 2:17
2 Rocky Mountains 3:40
3 Formula 2:17
4 Chicago 3:27
5 Erik Lamarr 2:38
6 Kansas 3:59
7 Surgery 4:26
8 Stowaway and Power Loss 3:58
9 New York 1:45
10 Stay Skybound 2:17
11 Minor Resolutions 1:57
12 Lisa and Kyle 1:39
13 Speed Down to 160 2:25
14 The Engine Just Shut Off 1:13
15 Major Resolutions 1:44
16 Hawaii and Theme from “Skybound” 3:37

 

THE SCORE. (compilation-3 cd set).

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Anyone familiar with MINISTRY OF SOUND, will quite rightly associate the name with dance music, and they would of course be correct to do so as M.O.S. have released numerous albums all of which contain specialist and classic floor fillers from clubland, mixed and produced by the top DJ, s of the day. Recently however the Ministry have deviated somewhat and added to their growing catalogue a handful of compilations that are slightly out of the normal area of music that they are known for. One of their recent releases is THE SCORE, which is a 3, compact disc set, that arguably contains some of the greatest or well-known themes from the movies. The line up of titles is impressive as is the list of composers that are included, granted not these selections are original recordings, some being cover versions or re-recordings, but they are performed by some of the leading orchestras from all over the world who are in turn directed by many respected conductors. There is really nothing new here for collectors, but saying this it is just so great to have all these wonderful themes on one compilation and evokes memories for me personally of the days when the film music compilation was alive and well and living in a record shop near you. The selections are varied and are a mixture of old and new, such as Nino Rota’s haunting theme for THE GODFATHER, John Williams foreboding JAWS theme, John Barry’s slice of romanticism in the form of OUT OF AFRICA, Hans Zimmer’s proud THIS LAND from THE LION KING, James Horner’s BRAVEHEART and TITANIC, Danny Elfman’s dark and impishly delicious BATMAN theme, the list is literally endless, well nearly. But alongside the classics there are also selections from more contemporary movies and the odd TV theme, such as. LION, GRAVITY, GAME OF THRONES, INCEPTION and BLACK SWAN. Alan Silvestri, Vangelis, Craig Armstrong, Alexandre Desplat, Ennio Morricone, Howard Shore, Clint Mansell (no relation), Brian Eno, Maurice Jarre, Max Steiner, Thomas Newman they are all represented here along with others.

 

CD 1, opens in grandiose style with John Williams who is conducting the London Symphony orchestra, in a thrilling and stirring performance of the main titles from, STAR WARS. What better way to open a compilation of music from the movies, this inspiring and iconic theme is followed by another piece of music that is set firmly into film and film music history, THE JAMES BOND THEME, from the first 007, thriller DR. NO, composed by Monty Norman and arranged and conducted here by probably one of the greatest film music composers of all time, John Barry. The theme which has been utilised in every official James Bond movie since DR.NO is given a jazzy and dramatic feel by Barry, who went onto compose the music for at least another 10 Bond movies, providing the franchise with some of the most recognisable and successful soundtracks, which included numerous hit songs and instantly recognisable themes.

 

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RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK is next in the running order, with the L.S.O. once again stepping up to the mark and giving their all under the baton of composer John Williams. This rousing march from the Spielberg directed movie is followed by THE GODFATHER THEME, which was an international hit both as an instrumental, and as a vocal rendition, SPEAK SOFTLY LOVE, was recorded by over 100 artists globally, and if my memory serves me correctly these included, Vince Hill and Andy Williams. For track 5, we return to the music of John Williams, and another collaboration with gifted movie maker Steven Spielberg, JURRASIC PARK, boasted a proud and highly dramatic soundtrack, but was also infused with just the right amount of emotion by Williams, who also scored its sequel, with his themes being utilised in further outings to the park which were scored by other composers, such as Don Davis and Michael Giacchino.

 

Tracks 6 and 7, will be a delight for fans of Hans Zimmer, with his music for THE LION KING and GLADIATOR, being represented. Now I am not really a fan of Zimmer when it comes to his more recent efforts, but THIS LAND from THE LION KING is stirring to say the least, complete with choir and driving percussive elements that are further embellished and bolstered by brass and strings. Also, we are treated to his theme from Ridley Scott’s, GLADIATOR, in which Zimmer collaborates with Lisa Gerrard, for NOW WE ARE FREE. The compilation continues with the music of James Horner who sadly passed away far too early, Horner is a genius and has created so many emotive and poignant themes for movies such as, CASPER, GLORY, COCOON, WILLOW, KRULL, FIELD OF DREAMS and BRAVEHEART which is represented on this compilation, track number 7, is the beautiful but bitter sweet end title music from the movie, that includes an arrangement of the composers FOR THE LOVE OF A PRINCESS, also from the movie. This is followed by more John Williams with HARRY POTTER and THE PHILOSOPHERS STONE and SUPERMAN. Hans Zimmer again with the rousing DRINK UP ME HEARTIES, YO HO HO, from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and his brooding but mesmerising INCEPTION theme. Howard Shore makes an entrance with THE FELLOWSHIP from LORD OF THE RINGS and Clint Mansell is represented by his LUX AETERNA from REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, Alan Silvestri steadfast fans will delight when they hear The City of Prague Philharmonic launch into his vibrantly excellent BACK TO THE FUTURE theme, as will Jerry Goldsmith devotes when they get to hear LIFES A DREAM from STAR TREK V, THE FINAL FRONTIER again performed by The C.O.P.P.O. Brian Eno brings disc one to a close with AN ENDING which is taken from the soundtrack to TRAFFIC. Yes, that’s right disc one, and there’s more as they say, in fact two more discs that are rammed with so many great pieces of film music it is hard to take in. This compilation is certainly a case of both quantity and quality. So are you ready, here we go,

 

 

Disc 2, E.T. was a smash hit at the cinema box office and there was not a dry eye in the house at the end of the movie, this was a case of images and music together perfectly, Spielberg’s imagination being transferred to the big screen, with an adventure on earth for an alien that touched the hearts of millions, the film told the story of an extra terrestrial who had been left on earth by mistake and befriended by a young boy Elliot, and all the time there was the music of John Williams, punctuating, and underlining every beautiful, emotive and comic moment. The track included here is ADVENTURE ON EARTH which runs almost continually for the last 20 mins of the movie, underpinning the exciting escape of E.T. on BMX bikes and his final reunion with his spaceship and the tearful and heart-breaking final departure of the alien. With the composers dramatic and thundering fanfares underlined by percussion bring the movie to it end. For track number two, we have the theme from TITANIC, James Horner admitted that the director of the movie hated the song and he was told not to use it, but the composer persisted, and we all know what happened, representing the award-winning score we have ROSE, which is performed by a wordless soprano, supported by Celtic sounding pipes, strings and subtle use of percussion, in this rendition of the familiar MY HEART WILL GO ON. ROMEO AND JULIET, comes next, this is Craig Armstrong’s beautifully crafted piece entitled THE BALCONY SCENE, for the Baz Lurman movie, which featured Leonardo di Caprio. Poignant piano, and fragile sounding strings melt the listeners heart as the combine, intertwine and compliment each other performing the composers richly romantic but delicate theme. Thomas Newman, is the Son of one of the film music worlds most respected figures. Alfred Newman, scored numerous movies and acted as head of music for film studios in the Golden days of Hollywood. Alfred’s music is part of Hollywood history as he created themes and scores for movies such as HOW THE WEST WAS WON, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, AIRPORT,THE ROBE, THE SONG OF BERNADETTE and so many more, the Oscar winning composer/conductor influenced the way in which movies were scored, and his blueprints for want of a better word are still in use to a degree today, AMERICAN BEAUTY was a movie that caused quite a stir, and created a lot of revenue at the box office, Thomas Newman’s score is somewhat low key and unassuming, but the theme, is one that is instantly recognisable, from the first few introductory notes. THE PLASTIC BAG THEME, has also been sampled and re-used many times in dance tracks and mimicked by other composers within other movies. Thomas Newman of course is the current composer for the James Bond franchise, with his score for SKYFALL, receiving an Oscar nomination in 2013.

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His Brother David is also a respected film music composer and his cousin Randy Newman is the popular composer/songwriter/performer, who was responsible for fashioning the soundtrack to TOY STORY. Disc two continues, with more wonderful film music as we experience the LOVE THEME from the original BLADE RUNNER composed and performed by Vangelis. For track number, 6, we go back to the silver age of film music, with composer Alex Norths, LOVE THEME from SPARTACUS, on listening to the composition one would not think it was from a movie about Gladiators, slaves and Romans, as it sounds a little too contemporary, surprisingly it worked within the movie, the remainder of North’s score being more dramatic and in tune with what was taking place on screen. More classic movie music follows this time from the Humphrey Bogart thriller, CASABLANCA, the movie was scored by Max Steiner in 1942, Steiner, became known as the Father of film music and was credited for changing the way in which movies were scored when he wrote the soundtrack to KING KONG back in 1933. For this cue we hear AS TIME GOES BY, which although was featured in the movie CASABLANCA, was not actually composed by Steiner, he did however utilise sections of the melody and incorporate it into his main score. The song was written by Herman Hupfeld in 1931, and became popular when it was sung by the character Sam (Dooley Wilson) in that famous bar scene in CASABLANCA. Disc two continues and includes, THE MISSION, (Gabriel’s oboe) OUT OF AFRICA (Theme), DANCES WTH WOLVES (Theme), DR. ZHIVAGO (Lara’s Theme), BLACK SWAN, THE PIANIST, GONE WITH THE WIND, AVATAR, TRUE ROMANCE and the haunting LION THEME from the film LION. So, as I have already stated, this is a compilation that contains a varied content, and one would hope that THE MINISTRY OF SOUND would produce a sequel, THE SCORE 2, very soon. One criticism, and no it’s not anything to do with the music on the set, it’s the lack of notes, the absence of info within the compact disc liner, there is a track listing, but that’s it. I personally think that film music compilations do need notes, in fact all soundtrack releases need notes, to tell the people about the composers the films and even the directors involved. But, hey that’s something that is down to the individual record label. Disc three opens with the rousing theme for one of TV, S most popular shows, GAME OF THRONES, music by Ramin Djawadi, who’s rapid rise to the top of his game has been incredible and well deserved. The familiar strains of the opening theme for the series begin the final CD in the compilation, Djawadi’s driving theme not only being dramatic but also having a degree of melodious attributes that hook the listener immediately.

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Track two, is MOBY.S contribution to HEAT, a track entitled, GOD MOVING OVER THE FACE OF WATER, it is a pleasant enough cue, but personally I found it a little repetitive and tedious, the track never really moving on or developing melodically, the same chords being repeated over and over, with varying degrees of percussive crescendos here and there, fully electronic and somewhat boring. Oliver Stones, Vietnam war movie PLATOON, is next, or at least the music that Stone decided to use in the end, which was Barbers, Adagio for strings, this must be one of the most played pieces of classical music. The score for PLATOON was originally composed by French Maestro, Georges Delerue, but was not used, for me the Delerue score is a work of art, it is a score that is filled with fragility, and would I think been perfect for the movie. However, Stone the director dis-agreed, I am not sure, but I think that the Adagio for strings was used as a temp track by the director, and because he had heard it so much and cut his movie to it, he fell in love with it and decided that it was best for the movie. All I can say is yes, it is a moving and powerful piece of music, but if you do get a chance to hear the Delerue, I urge you to take time to do so. This performance of the Adagio, is a flawless one by The City of Prague Philharmonic. We return to Thomas Newman for the next selection, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, has in recent years become something of a cult movie, Newman’s music is powerful but at the same time melodious and haunting. SCHINDLERS LIST, by John Williams, is presented next, performed by the CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC, this is a wonderfully touching rendition of the MAIN THEME from the movie, which was originally performed by Itzak Perlman.

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Another John Williams composition is next, and from another film by director Spielberg, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. HYMN TO THE FALLEN is a piece that always gets to the soul of any listener, the martial timpani and brass being augmented and enhanced by the composers use of strings and choir that when combined create a highly emotionally charged piece. The remainder of disc three contains a variation of highly polished and attractive sounding themes, THE LIFE OF PI, FORREST GUMP, THE IMITATION GAME, APPOLLO 13, INDEPENDENCE DAY and JAWS to name a mere handful. THE SCORE is a compilation that I would recommend highly, it is a great listen from start to finish, and will keep you entertained, with its varied content and alluring musical moments from the Silver screen. Enjoy.

STAR WARS. THE LAST JEDI.

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Ok, I do not profess to be an expert on STAR WARS, or even the STAR WARS soundtracks, but I do know what I like. As with every STAR WARS soundtrack, the score for THE LAST JEDI, opens with the now iconic theme that was penned by composer John Williams way back in the day, when we lived in, A FAR NICER AND SIMPLIER WORLD THAN WE DO NOWADAYS. The familiar brass flourishes and Erich Wolfgang Korngold inspired fanfares that in my opinion returned the world of film music back to where it should have been and reinstated the symphonic score to cinema, still send a chill of excitement and anticipation up one’s spine and make the hairs on the back of the neck bristle anticipation and expectation at the thought of what the composer might have in store for us. As with all scores for the STAR WARS saga, the opening theme soon segues seamlessly into the opening cue of the score, in this case the MAIN TITLES run for 1 min and 36 secs, then rumbling and booming percussion introduce the fast paced and driving track entitled ESCAPE, which oozes everything that is STAR WARS musically and is filled with the finesse, genius and perfection that we have come to expect from John Williams. In fact, this is a great opening that is filled with tense and edgy brass stabs and underlying dark strings that combine with the percussive elements of the piece to create a composition that verges on the Wagnerian and the operatic because of its powerfully enigmatic and commanding presence, the composer weaving the central theme into the cue and every so often lifting the darkness and foreboding atmosphere with mini fanfares and brass laden hope filled stabs. The brass and percussion work overtime for this opener and drive the piece forward with strings lacing and enveloping the already emotive and inspiring composition. For any soundtrack collector this will indeed be a feast of the artistry of John William’s at his dramatic and action packed best. This is a cue that is STAR WARS through and through, it contains, emotion, drama and a real romantic undercurrent that relays to the listener the ethos of the STAR WARS scores and evokes memories and thoughts of past triumphs of the previous movies and their soundtracks. There is a richness here, but also a degree of darkness and a romantic sense of adventure which to be honest only William’s can purvey via his heartfelt strings and flyaway woods, it is enchanting, beguiling and gets right to one’s core.

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As with his music for THE FORCE AWAKENS we hear the familiar themes and nuances that we expect, but are also treated to new and fresh material, with the familiar being given a new lease of life as the composer arranges and orchestrates them in varying ways at times combining elements of the original with the new, as in the SUPREMACY, which is a variation on DARTH VADERS theme.

 

With the near mournful and solitary horn leit-motif for Luke Skywalker, which is instantly recognisable that raises its head every so often throughout the work beginning as a poignant and fragile sounding piece but becoming a full-blown arrangement with the poignancy heightened and transformed into a more substantial and lush piece by surging and proud sounding strings that are embellished by brass, giving it a mesmeric quality that tugs at the heartstrings and washes over the listener in waves of emotion. The composer utilises this and it has a more pronounced impact in the cue, OLD FRIENDS, which in the first instant is low and ominous, but swiftly develops into a combination of both Luke and Leia’s themes. I cannot really say a lot more about the score, it is after all a STAR WARS soundtrack, and its John Williams, so what more could you possibly want, I will say however, that in my very humble opinion, THE LAST JEDI, does stand out more than its predecessor, there seems to be more for us to get our teeth into here, the last track, FINALE, is a delight, it is after all an overture of sorts, and contains all of the major themes from the score, thus combining old with new for a glorious 8 minutes or so. For a series of movies that has endured for so many years, it is surprising that the musical side of things has not become a little cliched or stale, but on listening to THE LAST JEDI, there is no chance of that happening, William’s unearths old and familiar themes and introduces new and vibrantly fresh pieces that will delight, thrill and inspire. Love the score, all 1 hour and 17 minutes of it. Buy this NOW….

 

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ALL THE PRETTY HORSES.

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Back in 2001 I came across this soundtrack, but kind of held back a little on getting it because I had not heard of the composers or performers involved on the score. But, I eventually went and got the compact disc, and was blown away by the great artistry and wonderful levels of performance that were held within the soundtrack. The film was not a great success, but it was also not a complete flop and many people still do speak of it now. Its appeal is I think the simplicity and the intimacy of the music. Performed on mainly guitar, with trumpet, cello, bass and percussion that are supported by a small but strong sounding string section and a handful of percussion and brass. I do remember reviewing the score for another web site or maybe it was a magazine, and it seemed to have got lost with many other articles from those days. So on re visiting the score I was moved to once again wax lyrical about its many attributes. The opening track, COWBOYS DREAM, is what it says in a musical form, a proud western flavoured theme, for solo guitar, strings and strummed guitar which acts as a background and an underlying foundation for the cue, it is in effect the main title of sorts, and acts as an appetizer for much of what is to follow, the up-tempo piece establishes itself immediately, with a haunting hook and an imposing lyrical sound that is hard to not become involved with. The second cue, CANYON SONATA, is somewhat more down beat with a plaintive guitar solo, picking out a Hispanic flavoured composition, that would certainly not be out of place in numerous Italian made westerns. Track three, is the actual Title track, ALL THE PRETTY HORSE, this is a variation of the first cue, however strings are brought into the equation, and Mariachi sounding trumpets and percussive elements that are laced with horns and it is given a sharpness and melodic quality via the flawless guitar solo, which takes centre stage. I suppose the best way to describe the score for ALL THE PRETTY HORSES is to say it is flavoured and coloured with country sounds that themselves are given a more dramatic feel via the subtle but ever present orchestral support throughout. Steel guitar, electric bass and solo guitar performances dominate much of the soundtrack, but the instruments are used in both the conventional and more unconventional manner, the performers experimenting with way to achieve the effecting sounds. There are also substantial contributions from, accordion, mandolin and Viola, which either perform together or as solo contributions to create a work that is attractive and beautifully melodic  The soundtrack is the work of a trio of writers, Marty Stuart, Larry Paxton and Kristin Wilkinson, with the score being performed by various artists.

 

 

I promise you once you listen to this soundtrack, you will be left wanting more and more, and will return to it so many times, it is a work that haunts the listener with its subtle, dramatic and wistfully romantic musical nuances and themes and beguiles them with its earthy but at the same time emotive and delicate motifs.  All I can say is that the compact disc is deleted, but it is available on the likes of Spotify and I Tunes and there are a few copies of the recording available on a couple of internet selling sites, this is a must have soundtrack, filled with so many wonderful compositions that it is hard to think that they all hail from the same film. The soundtrack also contains two vocals, PORQUE and FAR AWAY, which are both pleasing songs and are a bonus to the already excellent release.   You got it yet????