Category Archives: Reviews


Welcome to another look at various releases old and new from the world of movie scores, video game soundtracks, theme park rides and game shows. And it is a game show that we open with STAR WARS:JEDI TEMPLE CHALLENGE sounds rather interesting and looking at the trailer for the game show I think its going to be a popular watch. The original score is by composer Gordy Haab, who caused more than a ripple of interest with his score for the video game STAR WARS JEDI:FALLEN ORDER. As with this score Haab has created some beautiful melodies and flyaway sounding action cues for JEDI TEMPLE CHALLENGE and although the score only runs for thirteen minutes it is thirteen minutes of pure delight.

The score stands on its own two musical feet as in it does not directly incorporate any of John William’s themes instead what the composer does is cleverly emulate and fashion thematic material in the style of Williams, but also manages to place his own musical identity upon it. It may be brief but it’s a score that is well worth checking out, and one that will linger in your memory long after you have stopped listening to it, full of a sumptuous interludes and overflowing with tension and romanticism that is lavish, lush and relentless.

PORNO, is I would say a different kind of horror movie, it focuses upon five teenagers who are employees at the local movie theatre in a small Christian town. They unearth a mysterious old movie that has been hidden in the basement of the theatre and as they watch it they unleash an alluring demon in female form or a Succubus, who gives them a sex education…written in blood. The score by composer Carla Patullo, is certainly an inventive work, the composer utilising choir and female solo voices that are supported by sinewy sounding strings and punctuated by synths and electronic stabs to create a malevolent and tantalising sound. I realy liked the score, the gasping erotic sounding voices evoked memories of BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE by Morricone and also had a style about them that also reminded me of THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE score by Guiliano Sorgini,  the soundtrack although from a horror movie I thought was entertaining and wonderfully affecting, it is richly dark and has ab abundance of tense and nervous atmospheres.

From one horror to another THE UNFAMILIAR the story is of a British Army Doctor who returns from a war zone, she starts to have symptoms which resemble PTSD, but gradually discovers that there is a more sinister and dangerous reason for her hallucinations and strange occurrences around her. Which make things in her life or the life she once had Unfamiliar to her.

It’s a chilling and tense storyline, which is aided greatly by a largely atonal and atmospheric sounding soundtrack, composer Walter Mair constructs a harrowing sound via percussive elements and electronic sounds and stabs, these are in no way what I would call musical, but in the context of the movie bring much to the proceedings. THE UNFAMILIAR is dark and spidery with a malevolent and grating musical persona, it is unsettling and unnerving, especially when the sound of children’s voices that are speaking by not really heard are brought into the equation. If you are a fan of composers such as Joseph Bishara, and to an extent Benjamin Wallfisch on films such as THE CONJURING and IT, then this is one for you.

DER ANFANG VON ETWAS is the latest offering from composer Christoph Zirngibl, and it’s a score that I really became entangled in, the thematic content is not grand or overly expressive, but it has fleeting themes that build and develop throughout the work, these create a sense of the apprehensive and ooze tension, while at the same time purveying a mood that is filled with melancholy. This is an inventive work, and one that I found remarkably interesting. Check it out. Available on digital platforms.

 The next soundtrack is from a Rom-Com THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY. After ending a relationship, a young woman decides that she will set up a gallery, where people can come and leave trinkets and mementos from past relationships. The music is for the most part somewhat like a musical wall paper, being light and fairly up-tempo throughout, for me what the attraction was that it had a sound and a scattering of the style of composers such as Giorgio Moroder and to an extent Hans Zimmer in his early days, although on occasion the music does blossom into something that is more melodic and developed, the music is by Genevieve Vincent, it has to it a romantic yet quirky sound, that is created via keyboards and a sprinkling of strings with the remainder of the work being created electronically and with the use of samples etc purveying a electro-pop style in places. Still worth a listen, it’s a pleasant and easy listen.

Anne Nikitin is busy at the moment and her score for the TV series LITTLE BIRDS is well worth a listen, each time I hear a new score from her I straight away find something that is interesting, and this is no exception. It’s a soundtrack filled with an intimate yet quirky air, the composer also incorporating inventive percussive elements and compositions at certain times, She also makes effective use of sounds and voices within the score, I just loved it for its creative and inventive persona, the composer utilising solo piano, brushed timpani, bass and breathy sounding woods.

With the occasional gloriously melodious theme rising in cues such as HOWLER and THE TANGO. Check this out on Spotify, you will enjoy it.   


There will I am sure be something of interest in the following potted reviews for everyone. This time TV shows dominate the supplement with handful of film scores, such as EMMA by Isobel Waller Bridge and the somewhat disappointing soundtrack to TENET by Ludwig Goranssan, plus a couple of scores that have recently been made available although were composed a few years ago.  

So, to TENET. This is latest offering from director Christopher Nolan, and sadly because of other commitments his almost resident composer Hans Zimmer was unable to work on the project. Zimmer and Nolan have a great collaboration, with Zimmer’s scores often becoming the driving force behind the many action sequences in movies such as THE DARK KNIGHT and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES to name but two. Composer Ludwig Goranssan landed the assignment, and this was something I was pleased about when I heard, I am a fan of Goranssan’s innovative score for THE BLACK PANTHER and also the work he did on CREED which was fresh and original but at the same time managed to be in keeping with the original ROCKY scores as fashioned by composer Bill Conti. He has also been industrious recently for Disney on the series THE MANDALORIAN. Did I enjoy TENET, well I have to be honest here and say no not really, I found it to synthetic, there was not enough of what I would refer to as conventional instrumentation, even if this is used as a sparingly scattered back up of the electronics, and to be completely truthful the majority of the score grated upon me and I am of the opinion that this is a noisy mess. A mish mash of sounds that barely resemble music. I am a critic of Zimmer you all know this, but even he when utilising electronics and synthetics laces these with some symphonic support or at least lets the symphonic lead the synthetic allowing it to build and breathe.

I try to see good things in every score I listen to, but TENET is certainly not a title I will be returning to in a hurry. But, and yes, there is always a but, the sounds created by Goranssan work for the movie so that’s the idea, its music or soundscape for film and if it works with the images then its done its job. But as for it being an entertaining listening experience, it is not. In a recent interview I think Goranssan commented he attempted to emulate Hans Zimmer on TENET, why? Surely do a Goranssan, that’s what we wanted to hear.  

Moving on and too a movie that has not yet been released, it is a new adaptation of THE SECRET GARDEN. It has a score by Dario Marianelli, who recently scored PINOCCHIO, Marianelli is I think one of the most gifted composers in the world of movie music. His soundtrack for ATTONEMENT was received well and won him an arm full of awards. His delicately eloquent and beguiling score for this latest version of THE SECRET GARDEN is certainly one that many film music fans will fall in love with, it has to it a fragility and a vitality all at the same time. The composer makes effective use of solo piano and the string section, which is enhanced by woodwind and harp, it is a delightful work, thematic and haunting in every way. It is a score that you can listen through and then re-visit a while later and discover so many new things that you were not aware of first time around. I know this probably sounds wierd but the music sounds English as in it has to it a style and sound that would have been employed by the likes of Richard Rodney Bennet or maybe Howard Blake and Chris Gunning when they were busy scoring movies. This is entertaining and alluring, beautifully crafted and recommended.

So to a score that was released a few years back and those lovely people at Varese Sarabande have re issued with so much extra music, WILD WILD WEST has a score by composer Elmer Bernstein, the film I don’t think did that well at the cinema, and the score seemed to vanish quite quickly so it is good to see it back out and available again, it contains what I would call a typical Bernstein score, big on thematic material, and also having to it a robust and powerful musical quality that contains various Bernstein musical trademarks, with the central theme being one of the stand out cues on the recording. 

The iconic TV series DR.WHO, never seems to lose pace or viewers, yes there were a few hiccups recently when the DR. turned up as a female in the guise of the brilliant actor Jody Whittaker, but after the initial “I AM NOT WATCHING THIS EVER AGAIN” rants its all good, and I think she is pretty awesome in the role. The composer on the series also changed in series 11, again a few were saying it wont be the same etc, but in effect Segun Akinola has succeeded in transforming the musical path and the sound of the series, with his highly creative and innovative writing.

Don’t get me wrong I loved what Murray Gold did, but both series 11 and 12 have been totally gripping in the music department, with composer  Akinola fashioning epic sounding scores, that not only enhance and support the constant action but are great to hear away from the series as just dramatic and melodic music. Listening to both recordings I do not think that there is a track I would want to skip over, as each and every piece is interesting and wonderfully entertaining. You should check these two recordings out you will not be sorry.  

Ruth Barret is a composer that I discovered via her music for the ITV series VICTORIA, and since then have always kept an eye and ear open for anything by her, THE DURRELS I thought was a triumph, and her work on THE BODYGUARD too was thickly atmospheric. She also scored the Netflix movie COLLATERAL which contained an affecting soundtrack, which at times was understated but because of this became even more effective within the movie. SANDITON was a series I must say I did not enjoy that much, but the musical score was outstanding, in fact I would go as far as to say I enjoyed the music far more than the series, the composer has a light and delicate touch for the series but also includes a number of traditional or folk sounding pieces, which are interesting, having an up-beat musical persona to them. One to check out try it on Spotify and try before you buy as it were. 

Staying with TV but this time for an American TV sho, MRS AMERICA. Music is courtesy of Kris Bowers whose music for the drama WHEN THEY SEE US is superb, it was WHEN THEY SEE US that first alerted me to the talents of Kris Bowers and I have followed with interest his career. MRS AMERICA has done well on TV its one of those series that once you see one episode you want more and all of them on the same night. Cate Blanchett is totally suited to the role of  Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly who leads an unexpected fight against the Equal Rights Amendment movement during the 1970s. Bowers music is superbly written and also intelligently placed to create maximum impact and effect. Again, check it out. 

SUCCESSION is an HBO series, which has a score by composer Nicholas Brittel, what can I say well its now into its second season, and the music is sublime, theres only one thing to say here go and buy it. It is filled to bursting with so many wonderful themes, most of which are classically oriented, but its like listening to a best of album because every track has to it an excellence and a haunting aura present. The composer utilises solo piano, string orchestra and cello to create this lyrical sounding score. Another for your collection. VERA is another popular TV series, I have to admit to being a bit of a VERA holic, don’t care if it’s a repeat or not just find that I have to watch it. I think there are a few reasons why, but one of them is the musical score by Ben Bartlett, I always found the music for the series attractive right from the get-go.

There is for me in places a certain Barry-esque ambience present. Bartlett uses those breathy woods and the low but melodic sounding strings, to create layers of sounds and purveys so many musical colours and textures within his scores for this series. There is too the subtle but menacing persona that surrounds many of the cues which evokes the work of Bernard Herrmann at times, these are inventive scores, scores that rely upon a style and sound that is subtle rather than full on action or dark and foreboding, like the central character the music is mature and intelligent. There may not be that many themes within the scores, or at least not that many are allowed to develop but these scores are more than interesting for me, I love the minimalistic approach of the composer, who rather than swamp a scene hints at themes and lays down a soundscape that gives support and depth to the storyline. A mix of symphonic instrumentation and support from synthetic elements certainly one to go for. Available on Spotify and other digital platforms. 

EMMA by Isobel Waller-Bridge is a soundtrack that I would say you have to add to your collection, entertaining, melodic, jaunty and filled with an air of comedic carefree mischief. The soundtrack also includes a number of songs, which too add to the entertainment value of the work. The composer treats us to so many fine themes, that are like musical poems filled with elegance and a haunting persona.   

Other scores that I would recommend that you take a listen to include, Jerry Goldsmiths THE DON IS DEAD, PETS UNITED by David Newman, Maxime Herve’s SPACE HULK-TACTICS, TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY-SIEGE by Alexander Bornstein, and the atmospheric but disturbing VOCES by Jesus Diaz.   


MULAN. 2020.

I think that there is only one problem when a film is rebooted concerning the music at least. Take MULAN for example, I have always loved the original animated movies score by Jerry Goldsmith, we all know that the composer was a master, but he always excelled when integrating oriental sounds into his scores, and MULAN was no exception. It was a proud and emotive score that was crammed with rich thematic material, and gorgeous sounding romantic and lush interludes. The new Disney live action MULAN looks impressive enough, and the score by Harry Gregson- Williams is to an imposing and gratifying work, which is also filled with an abundance of wonderfully lyrical sounding themes. It is however unfair to compare this latest work with the work of Jerry Goldsmith on the original, why? Well because we have basically had the Goldsmith score in our heads for many years and the Gregson-Williams is a new musical outing. The use of ethnic instrumentation, a on the new score is stunningly effective. But the original score as we are aware contained its own fair share of this style of scoring. I would say that the new score and film is probably more over-ally correct as in the way in which the instrumentation is utilised. Let’s face it the original MULAN was a Disney animated movie which was basically Disney-fied, if that makes sense. This Latest incarnation of the tale of courage, heroics, and honour, although at times containing comedy influences plays it more for the action and wow elements rather than for laughs. Thus, the score to is a more serious and grounded affair, the composer has fashioned a work of immense quality and one too that contains so many emotions, textures and musical colours. Goldsmith’s surging themes were and still are brilliantly done, but I am of the opinion that Gregson-Williams has penned a more mature and also a more ethnically correct work, that suits the various situations and scenarios that occur during this movie which I am sure will be a great success for the studio. Yes there are touches of a light and also of a romantic air that pop into the score every so often, and this I think is why the work is an appealing one because it has variety and also a sound and style that is pleasing. There are gentle nods to composer Goldsmith within the score, which I thought was a nice and also a respectful touch. I suppose what I am saying is if you are going to buy this in the hope of hearing a reworking of the original score by Goldsmith, then save your money, because although there are acknowledgements to the first score, this is indeed an original work that stands upon its own two feet, and has numerous merits all of its own. The cue MULAN LEAVES HOME is inspiring, romantic and sad, its melancholy beginnings being affecting and poignant, but after a short period the mood begins to alter and the track builds emotively and slowly becoming a powerful piece that incorporates voices, percussion and brass, before reverting back to amore subtle ambience. This is an entertaining listen. Recommended.   



Video games music has in the past decade or so certainly come into its own, with many of the score being grandiose and symphonic. There was I believe a certain amount of snobbery within the ranks of film music collectors towards both TV music and the soundtracks composed for video games, but this attitude has altered considerably, because in certain cases the music for video games has become an art form all on its own, often many examples being more developed and also grander than some scores that are being written for feature films.




This I think is the case for STAR WARS JEDI:FALLEN ORDER which has a robust and vibrantly theme laden score composed by Stephen Barton and Gordy Haab. Having not played or even seen footage from the game I cannot comment as to how the music works within it, but on listening to the soundtrack as stand-alone music I found it appealing, exciting and entertaining. It sounds as if it is for the most part symphonic, but these days syths and samples etc can be deceivingly good masquerading as conventional instrumentation.




The score is one that I know you will enjoy, it offers so much diversity and has to it a John Williams-esque style in places, but saying this it also contains a rich and inventive style all of its own. This is one to add to your collection, do not even think about it just go and get it.



From deep space to a more gentile subject and another re-boot of the classic tale PINOCCHIO, music is courtesy of Dario Marianelli, who has created a wonderfully lyrical and touching soundtrack, it is a subtle and emotional work with the composer relaying a poignant and intimate style and sound for the majority of its duration, There are of course a handful of action led cues as in THE NIGHT OF THE ASSASINS, which starts out subdued but alters its path and segues into a driving piece for strings, percussive elements and woods. But for the most part it is an emotive and haunting work that relies upon lilting tone poems that fashion a romantic and affecting persona. The composer also makes effective use of female voice at times, which he combines with harp, underlying strings and plaintive woods giving the score an even greater emotional presence. Certainly, worth a listen.


From a beguiling and emotional tale, we move to a story of horror, THE SHED, which being a horror movie obviously contains very little poignancy. Composer, Sam Ewing, has penned an effective score, it is one that unsettles you when you are listening to it without any images present. The music kind of makes your imagination work overtime and purveys an atmosphere that is thick with apprehension and has to it a foreboding yet alluring sound. The soundtrack is produced by Bear McCreary, so another plus.


It is a soundtrack that oozes a visceral and dark musical persona and has about it the sound of vintage horror movie scores as in Christopher Young and to a degree Jerry Goldsmith, with the layering of sinewy strings being bolstered by brass stabs and an underlying menacing presence of percussion that also acts as punctuation to the proceedings. The harrowing and icy mood is evident right from the get-go in the cue MORNING NEIGHBOR, which contains a striking and jumpy presence, with strings, percussion synths and voices creating a nightmarish atmosphere, the strings being struck and plucked to fashion an otherworldly sound that is chaotic and relentless. At times, the music is very atonal, but also effective as it creates various levels of the unsettling and moments of real surprise and terror. The cue WHATS IN THE SHED is dripping with a thick apprehensive air, it is basically saying do not go in the shed, as I am guessing one will discover more than just a few pots and a lawn mower inside and I am not talking just spiders here. THE SHED is a great horror score, it builds tension upon tension and then adds even more nervous sounds and interludes, this is an unforgiving fright fest of sounds which are both musical and atonal. Worth a listen.



ARY-THE SECRET OF THE SEASONS is another video game, it contains a beautifully written score by composer Marcus Hedges, as far as I can make out it is a largely synthesised work, which maybe has a scattering of symphonic or conventional instrumentation, but it does not really matter as the score is superbly anthem-like and filled with a rich sense of the romantic, we are treated to lush sounding themes choral performances and driving and vigorous sounding action cues, it is simply gorgeous. It is simple but as we have discovered before with many scores it is the simplicity and the thematic content that makes it so attractive. There impish and mischievous pieces that combine with proud sounding themes that have to them the style of Alan Silvestri in places, with rigorous contributions from the brass and string sections which are underlined by percussion and further assisted and supported by choral performances. One for your collection, it’s one of those scores that you will be listening to over and over.





THE EIGHT HUNDRED, is a Chinese produced Historical drama, which focuses upon the defence of Sihang warehouse which took place Shanghai in 1937 during the second Chinese/Japanese war. Directed by and co-written by Guan Hu, the movie stars Oho Ou, Du Chun, Huang Zhizhong, Vision Wei, Wang Qianyuan, Jiang Wu, Zhang Yi, Li Chen, Yu Haoming, Tang Yixin, and Zheng Kai. It is an epic war movie which has music by Rupert Gregson Smith and Andrew Kawczynski, the latter composer providing the lion’s share of the main score for the production. It is an imposing work, which features numerous powerful pieces, the composer fashioning a soundtrack that is above all else supportive of the production and lends itself well to the action-packed storyline that is the movie. Kawczynski worked with Hans Zimmer on CHAPPIE back in 2015 providing the movie with additional music cues.




He also scored HOTELS in 2018 as well as writing the superbly vibrant score to SKY HUNTER in the same year, and more recently worked on THE CORRUPTED in 2019. THE EIGHT HUNDRED is probably the composers most developed work to date. But I am certain we will be hearing more from him in the not too distant future.



FEARLESS is an animated movie, it is the story of a teenage gamer who has to basically look after three superpowered infants from his favourite game are dropped into his back yard. The score is by Anne-Katherin Dern, and is an entertaining work, overflowing with so many themes and filled with great set pieces this is a score I recommend that you try to lisen to, there is a sound here that evokes the proud and noble compositions of the late James Horner, it is certainly something that the composer would have been involved with if he were still alive. Large scale symphonic sounds boom out and fly around in this well crafted and highly absorbing work, yes, its recommended.  The release contains five songs, which to be fair are also entertaining, but the original score is in the last three tracks on the soundtrack recording, at this stage I am not certain if there will be a full score release, but I certainly hope so.



We got a preview of Hans Zimmer’s theme for WONDER WOMAN 1984 recently, and I have to say I like it, it for me contains a Morricone sound, or at least has elements that evoke the style of Morricone as it builds.  Maybe a tribute to the recently deceased Maestro? All I can say is I look forward to the full score being released, and you do not hear me say that about a Zimmer soundtrack that often.



To Television for the next score and the 2020 series THE HEAD, which has a soundtrack penned by Federico Jusid. The series is set at the South Pole, which is moving into its winter months, the sun is son to vanish for the next six months.  The initial focus of the story is the Winterers, which is a team of scientists who are at the Polaris VI Antarctic Research Station, where they will continue to carry out research even in the grip of winter.  The work that they are doing is important and is crucial in the desperate fight against climate change. When the summer returns to the region the summer team go to relieve the winterers, but when they arrive discover that most of the team are either dead or missing. The score is dramatic and commanding in places, with the composer utilising strings, percussion and solo piano at key points within the score. Jusid is in my opinion one of the most accomplished new generation of film composers, and this atmospheric and engrossing score displays his evident talent.



Talking of talent, John Williams, has a new compilation out, recorded in Vienna it is entitled, JOHN WILLIAMS IN VIENNA (strange that). It is basically a collection of the composers most loved themes or at least some of them, performed by THE WEINER PHILHARMONICA with accomplished soloist Anne Sophie Mutter, who brings new vitality and life to THE DEVILS DANCE from THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK. there is nothing new here shall we say, but there is greatness and a collection of enduring and beloved themes from many of the composer’s cinematic encounters. From HOOK to INDIANA JONES and STAR WARS to THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK, but surprisingly no SCHINDLERS LIST? The themes and suites here maybe familiar, but this is a stunning recording of them and one you should add to your collection.


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Other scores that are deserving of a mention released recently include, BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC by Mark Isham, CRUSADER KINGS ll by PARADOX INTERACTIVE, GRAND FRERE by Ding Ke, and composer David Long’s epic score for the BBC TV series THE LUMINARIES.





CALEB, is a classy but at the same time gory horror thriller, the plot focuses upon a woman, Rebecca who is desperately searching for her sister, who has disappeared. Her sister is a journalist who set out to investigate a series of suspicious occurrences but has vanished. Rebecca who is her older sibling, tracks her down to a town called Timere, which is in a remote area of the countryside hidden away from the gaze of everyday life. She begins to make enquiries but soon discovers that the locals are not keen to speak to her. She also notices a fear there of dark and evil forces which force the towns folk to remain in their homes after dark. She however does encounter the church warden who is a writer and has an encounter with a handsome and beguiling man named Caleb. He is rich and charming, but she soon finds out that his outwardly elegant and gracious persona is concealing a dark and terrible truth. It is not long before a desperate battle between the forces of good and evil commence. Directed by Roberto D’Antona, who also takes the title role in the movie is an edge of the seat movie and has to it a virulent yet thought provoking aura running through it. Yes, it is a horror movie, and has at its core the subject of vampirism, but it is a film that is entertaining in a scary sort of fashion. It mixes contemporary with Gothic elements, that fuse together well. I think you will if a fan of horror be entertained by it. The musical score is a strong one, it is dark and foreboding and has a sense of the harrowing, menacing and chaotic.



The musical score is by young Italian composer, Aurora Rochez, and I have to say this is an impressive and extremely appealing work. As far as I can tell it is in the main made up of a foundation which consists of strings and piano, on which the composer builds the remainder of the soundtrack, layering synthetic sounds and electronic support to create a score that is effective within the movie and also is in many ways entertaining to listen to without any images or storyline. It has to it a luscious and opulent persona that seems to embrace the subject matter and fit the storyline like the proverbial glove. The apprehension and tension that the composer conjures up via sinister sounds and ominous but subtle layering and segueing of unsettling strings and icy and visceral synthetics is affecting. There is a feeling of dread and doom here, the music is mysterious and spine chilling, adding greater levels of horror and shock to the proceedings.


It is also a score that contains inventive use of percussive elements, at times percussion taking the lead in certain cues, and only after a while of the percussion laying down the style and creating the required atmosphere does the composer add to it in the form of dark stabs and low sombre strings. Solo piano raises its head every so often within the work, it is I have to admit a welcomed interlude that is at times calming but also at the same instant its calming element becomes an even more unnerving sound and fashion a mood that is even more unsettling and unpredictable.

The cue I AM A VAMPIRE is superbly urgent and threatening, it brings into the equation choral work brass flourishes and racing swirling and frenzied strings which al are driven along by percussion.  There are a few lighter sections, but these are few and far between, one track aptly entitled THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM is a delightfully delicate piece, synths and piano working together to create a Vangelis like sound that is restful and charming. But this is short lived as we soon return to the dark and the foreboding atmosphere. Certainly, worth checking this one out and whilst you are there also take a listen to her score for THE LAST HEROES which I think is also a worthy addition to any collection, both are available on digital platforms.