Category Archives: Reviews

CAPTAIN MARVEL.

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At last after much hype and lots of anticipation from fans, CAPTAIN MARVEL has burst onto cinema screens. The Marvel films franchise is as we all know huge and this latest superhero tale will I am sure continue to attract fans old and new. The musical score for CAPTAIN MARVEL is the work of Turkish composer Pinar Toprak. She has in the past few years established herself as one of the worlds most talented and highly regarded composers of film music and has worked on numerous movies all of which she has provided with excellent soundtracks. CAPTAIN MARVEL is a powerhouse of a score and has to it a contemporary sound but at the same time purveys a style that is from a bygone age in film scoring. The score contains great sweeping themes and has within it emotionally charged musical passages and so much great action music it is hard to take in that this is all from one movie. The action cues are brassy and high octane affairs but amongst all the action the themeatic material shines through and it is this rhythmic and rich style of scoring that gives this soundtrack so much appeal, it is I think to compare this music with scores for other Marvel films productions, but let me just say that Pinar Toprak has certainly created a work that not only equals past scores but in some cases surpasses them in the entertainment stakes. The opening cue CAPTAIN MARVEL begins with stirring brass flourishes that are supported and carried along by driving strings, enhanced by thundering percussion, we are then treated to the central theme from the score purveyed by horns that are embellished and given greater effect by the use of romantically laced strings and fanfares from more brass, the cue also contains an interesting pulsating synth line that acts as a background to the proceedings as it approaches its conclusion and shimmering crescendo of a six note motif, this relatively short opener sets the scene perfectly for what is to follow. Track number two, WAKING UP, is the opposite to the opening cue, it is a more gentile and melodious affair, female voice combines with subdued strings at the offset and together act as an introduction for a fusion of strings and synthetic layers that compliment each other creating an almost relaxing atmosphere. Throughout the score we hear symphonic and synthetic textures and colours, but these never grate or interfere with each other, instead they are seamlessly fused and wonderfully combined, each supporting and ingratiating one anther bringing greater depth and yielding even bigger atmospheres. Things begin to step up a gear or two from track number six ENTERING ENEMY TERRITORY, which has brass, percussion and so many exciting and heart stopping musical stabs, the cue is upbeat and driving and has to it a dark and sinister sound.

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PINAR TOPRAK.

The same style and sounds continue in track number seven, BREAKING FREE the composer deploying low strings, percussive elements, forthright strings and awesome sounding horns that are themselves supported by various brass. The entire score is a triumph in my opinion, the composer has fashioned a commanding and mighty soundtrack, that will thrill, excite, scare and inspire. In many ways the score evoked the scoring style of Jerry Goldsmith, with inventive use of percussion and ample participation from both string, percussion and brass sections, this is highly recommended.

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CLIFFS OF FREEDOM.

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George Kallis has in the past few years established himself as a composer of great talent, his music for motion pictures such as, THE BLACK PRINCE, ALBION THE ENCHANTED STALLION, GAGARIN-FIRST IN SPACE and THE LAST WARRIOR have created more than a ripple of interest amongst film music collectors and film producers, it is evident that the composer has an infinite gift for melody and also is able to create sweeping and epic sounding works that not only grace and support each movie he works upon, but also have the ability to stand on their own away from any images that the music was written to enhance and entertain and enthral just as music. His latest assignment CLIFFS OF FREEDOM is no exception, it is a score that contains numerous thematic properties and is at times dramatic and epic sounding, but also has to it a highly emotive and romantic sound that soon establishes itself as the heart and the soul of the work. The composer utilises a large orchestra to purvey all these emotions and senses, the string section and woodwind in-particular working well together to create the romantism and the melancholy.
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The composer also brings into the equation brass and percussive elements to add a robust and exhilarating sound and style, choir is utilised to great effect at times underlining the instrumental sections and at other points being itself underlined and bolstered by the lush symphonic sounds that are present throughout the score. BATTLE OF VALTETSI is a prime example of effective dramatic writing, with thundering percussion acting as support for fierce sounding brass and commanding choral performances. Also woven into the score are various ethnic sounding performances that bring greater depth and add layers of atmosphere to the already alluring and beguiling soundtrack. CLIFFS OF FREEDOM will be a soundtrack that everyone will want, and one that all film music fans will adore. I love the way in which the composer blends lilting and lush passages and expands and develops these further with subtle addition of ethnic instrumentation, cello also gives the work a deep and richly poignant persona, which can be warm and comforting but also has the ability to be affecting and sorrowful, the music seems to invade the listeners inner self and haunts and tantalises long after one has finished listening to it. The central theme is beautifully written and superbly performed and in my opinion is best heard within the cue CENOTAPH, simply because we get to hear the music develop and grow and are treated to a gracious and wonderous sounding piece that rivals anything by Poledouris, Barry or Morricone when in romantic mode. I cannot recommend this score enough, it is certainly in the running already for next years Award season.

Tracklisting
1. Fabric of History
2. Ottoman Patrol
3. Valtetsi Village
4. Can You Forgive
5. Tell Me What You See, Yia Yia
6. Return to Tripolitsa
7. Sunset Encounter
8. Are We Really so Different
9. You Know Nothing of My Mother
10. Children at the Door
11. Anna Christina’s Prayer
12. Not That Girl Any More
13. Joining the Rebellion
14. Caravan
15. Fog of War
16. Reason to Call Upon Him
17. Becoming a Legend
18. And by My Hand
19. It’s Not Your Fault
20. The Time Has Come
21. Cenotaph
22. General Kolokotronis
23. Freedom or Death
24. To Save You from Yourself
25. Battle Preparations
26. Battle of Valtetsi
27. Let the Blade Find the Cut
28. Simply the Truth
29. I’ll Wait for You (feat. Ariana George)

LANCASTER SKIES.

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Composer James Griffiths has in a relatively short period of time established himself as a film music composer of worth and a talented musician who regularly performs on his film scores. His latest assignment LANCASTER SKIES is certainly no exception, released on Movie Score Media as a digital recording with it soon be given a compact disc release on the Spanish label Quartet. Straight away I have to say that LANCASTER SKIES is a compelling listen, it is filled with rich and tuneful thematic material, in many ways the central themes evoke memories of the style and sound that was realised by Jerry Goldsmith, solo trumpet being particularly prominent giving the work a sound that I for one do associate with the likes of Goldsmith and Williams, the trumpet purveying a sense of loneliness. It is also a score that is scattered with emotive musical passages and lilting sorrowful tone poems. The composer utilising solo cello which is accompanied by delicate piano to relay an air of melancholy. This is a wonderfully affecting work, which one moment is poignant and heartrending but in the next instant can alter into rousing and patriotic sounding pieces or erupt into full on action mode. Woodwinds also feature throughout and are responsible for establishing a sound that is alluring and haunting. The composer told me that the films budget did not run to a full orchestra, so how did he achieve such a rich sound that in places is quite grandiose?

 

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“The live musicians were friends and ex-colleagues of mine. They are either currently serving, or ex-service musicians hailing from the British Armed Forces, and members, or former members of the prestigious Bands of The Household Division. My friends were amazing, very much bringing their excellence to create the authentic British Military wind band sound with orchestra. We recorded woodwinds, brass, and soloists. I also twisted the arm of Peter Gregson (Bach – Recomposed, Forgotten Man) to perform solo cello on the score. I performed as much as I could, playing all of the saxophones, piano, guitar and traditional military percussion. I did everything in my power to use technology to create the most realistic experience of an expressive symphony orchestra. I mixed the score and my amazing assistant, Christoph Allerstorfer, did the mastering”.

 

The score for LANCASTER SKIES is in a word superb, it is certainly well written, with the composer infusing his work with so many emotions and tantalising textures and colours. It has to it a sound that we would normally associate with War movies of years ago, timpani, low string passages, and ominous sounding interludes, and thundering percussion, but it also has to it a heart and soul that is written in a more contemporary fashion, there is a real lushness to the work and even though the composer was not able to utilise a large orchestra he has achieved the sounds of a symphony orchestra via clever writing and also by integrating solo performances alongside and amongst synthetic instrumentation.  LANCASTER SKIES is a stunningly powerful work, and one that collectors will return to many times, this is one for your collection.

BUNUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF TURTLES.

 

 

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Film music has in recent years become shall we say a little predictable, but this I think is something of a trend that is happening with film music from America more than anywhere else. Scores from Europe and from Asia have become the works to look too for any kind of innovative writing. This is for me predominantly from Spanish movies or scores by Spanish composers who have worked on American or British films. Many of these scores have been outstanding in the past five or six years and it is thanks to the sound, the style and the inventive writing of many composers from Spain that collectors have begun to investigate more examples of these composer’s works in film. Moving away from the big Hollywood music-smiths. It seems that sometimes the more obscure the movie or the composer the music is richer or more alluring and original. I am not saying however that better known Spanish Maestro’s are not as innovative, but it is always good to discover a score or a composer that one is not familiar with, and I think this makes the discovery even more of a rewarding experience, because as you begin to discover the music of this composer I also think that you begin to maybe get to know them via their music. Recently I was introduced to the music of a composer from Spain which literally took my breath away and also completely to me by surprise in a nice way. His music I think is superbly written, wonderfully orchestrated and magnificently performed. Arturo Cardelus, is a composer who I know will become much in demand, his melodies are wonderfully melodious and uplifting where they have to be, and can also be dark and sombre again when required to be so. There is a beauty and pureness about his music that just envelopes the listener and completely mesmerises them, the thing is his melodies and gracious tone poems are quite simple, I do not mean this in any way to be a negative, because they are to the untrained ear probably complicated, but the simplicity of his themes are so attractive, it gives the listener a chance to actually appreciate the richness and the sheer beauty of the music rather than being swamped with racing musical passages that really do not register because they are harsh or vastly complex. I first heard his music to two documentaries, ALTAMIRA THE ORIGIN OF ART and SWIMMING IN THE DESERT, both are sublime and haunting. However even these two scores pale in the presence of the composers score for BUNUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF TURTLES. This is an animated movie, which itself looks impressive, the score is a triumph and a wonderous example of just how images and music work together. In certain places within the score I was reminded of the music of both Nicola Piovani and Nino Rota and maybe touches of Morricone and Delerue, again the simplicity of the themes shines through, the composer utilising solo piano, woodwind, Cello, solo soprano, strings and choir throughout, many of the cues possessing an almost celestial sound which is delicate and fragile but on occasion can alter to become sinister or dark.
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The composer also makes effective use of pizzicato strings which add a kind of mischievous aura to the work. There are also a handful of solo guitar performances which are stunning and vibrant. To isolate one or two tracks within this score as being outstanding, would be an impossible task, as every cue has to it a gorgeously captivating persona. The central theme that the composer employs in several the cues, is one that will stay with you long after you have finished listening to the score and it is presented in various musical guises, i.e. romantic, melancholy, energetic and even in a comedic fashion.

 

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But for me the attraction of this score is the numerous captivating fragile sounding moments, which even when listened to away from the images will I know bring emotions to the surface. I know it is very early in the year (2019) but for me this could be the score of the year, it has so much poignancy and emotion, I have to say I love it.

AMUNDSEN.

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At last a new score from multi talented composer Johan Soderqvist, I have for many years admired this composers work, his music for LET THE RIGHT ONE IN being the score that blew me away and convinced me to watch out for his future scores. The latest addition to the composers impressive list of credits is the soundtrack for the movie AMUNDSEN. This is an inspiring score for a true and even more inspiring story, it is a historical epic about a hero of Norway Roald Amundsen who is best-remembered for his achievement of reaching the South Pole in 1911. The score is one that is filled with atmospheric sounds and themes, the composer creating some wonderfully haunting and melodic passages that seem to come from nowhere, his style is so original and fresh, he is also a composer who experiments with sounds as well as music, fusing the two to fashion effective and innovative nuances and motifs. For example he will utilise synthetic sounds and over these he will introduce a plaintive and melancholy piano solo then support this with melodious and romantic strings as in track number three on this score entitled TWO BROTHERS. In this fairly brief cue the composer purveys so many emotions and fills the listener with hope, sadness and romanticism all at once. Soderqvist, is a master at the use of unusual sounds within his film scores the usual becomes the innovative and musters the interest of either the watching audience or the film music collector who is listening to the score just as stand alone music. Maybe there is a touch of the drone style of scoring within this particular score where score melds into sound design, but in this case it is warranted and also well executed. The cue THE ICE RAVINE/NAMING THE MOUNTAINS is such a track, mostly consisting of atonal sounds but from time to time there is a glimmer of a melody or at least a hint of it, I thought towards the end of the three minute cue there were certain attributes that could fall into the Morricone style of scoring, being dark but at the same moment containing a lilting theme underneath the atonal elements. AT THE SOUTH POLE is a near anthem like piece and I suppose is the closest that the score comes to being lush or lavish, the theme builds to a crescendo of sorts that is quite emotional, then fades back into a piano led piece underlined by strings. There is also action cues within the score, as in the thundering and urgent sounding ICE BEAR ATTACK, which although short in duration is relentless in its ferociousness. Soderqvist has created a score that conjures up a feeling of desolation and one of loneliness and listening to the music one can imagine just a little how vast an area that Amundsen found himself in. THE CHILDREN is another cue that I was attracted too, piano again with underlying strings augmenting then the piece moves into a poignant theme performed by guitar and piano, delightful This is a score that I think you will enjoy very much, there are so many emotions purveyed throughout its duration that it is hard to fully describe, but I will say it is a score to take a listen to, released by MOVIE SCORE MEDIA  now on digital platforms and soon to be released on CD by Rosetta.