Category Archives: Reviews

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT THIRTY NINE.

This month brings us a new score from Junkie XL, I did mention the preview briefly in the last soundtrack supplement, but now the score has been released officially on Water tower records,

I have always said I am not a great fan of Hans Zimmer, which you all know, and one would think because of this I would straight away give any score by him or someone who is associated with him a negative review, but in the case of Godzilla vs Kong I cant do that, because it’s a good score as in enhancing the movie and also because it is entertaining to listen to away from the movie, its exciting and filled with pulsating and booming percussion, it has so many great themes, which are built around one central five note motif which the composer builds on and adds too as the score develops, it has to it a really fearsome and grand sound, and a style that in the opening cue is not unlike the original Godzilla scores for the Japanese movies. So, it is a score that I certainly recommend that you check out even if initially on digital platforms as in the try before you but fashion, I like it, but I will let you make up your own mind.

Dream Raider I think is an interesting score, its from the HBO Asia original series. Josh Cruddas supplies us with some stirring material here, it is in many ways evokes the style of Hans Zimmer and Ramin Djawadi, with the latter’s style of composition dominating. The opening theme itself has to it the presence, stature, and the impact that we heard in the opening credits music for Game of Thrones. Its sounds as if the score is performed by a combination of the symphonic and the electronic, with grand stabs, being present throughout many of the action led cues. But there is also an emotive side to this work, the composer utilizing violin and cello performances to create and convey poignant and touching pieces that are filled with melancholy and a rich emotional content. The composer also utilizes voices or synthesized voices to create imposing and grandiose cues. I found that this score caught me off guard a little as, I was unaware of the composer and did not really know what to expect, I was listening one moment to driving strings and pounding percussion, and the next was reduced to an emotional wreck by the composer’s employment of lilting and affecting melodies. His elegant and melodious compositions immersing me in a plethora of vibrant and gracious thematic material, that is hard to ignore or difficult to remain unaffected by. Recommended.

To something a little bit more subdued for the next soundtrack selection, and a small but remarkably interesting movie in the form of Six Minutes to Midnight, the film focuses upon events that take place at a private girl’s school in Bexhill on sea in the summer of 1939.

Based on true events that took place at The Augusta Victoria College on the south coast of England  with the story opening just seventeen days before WW ll begins. The school is run by a spinster played by Judi Dench who is as always wonderful. But this is a rather unusual girls finishing school nestled in the sleepy town of Bexhill as it is filled with young ladies who are daughters of prominent Nazis. A half German English teacher Mr. Miller played by Eddie Izzard who is excellent in the role applies for a position at the school when hie predecessor mysteriously disappears. He is employed on a temporary contract and shares teaching duties with Judi Dench’s character Rochelle and also another teacher Lise played by Carla Juri. But Miller finds many things at the school as he investigates the disappearance of his predecessor that are filled with mystery and danger. This is an interesting movie and one that certainly retains ones focus throughout, its one of those films that one looks at and thinks Not sure about this? But once started you won’t want to take your eyes off it. The musical score is the work of composer Marc Streitenfeld (Robin Hood, Prometheus, and The Grey). The composer has fashioned a brooding and apprehensive work for this drama and along the way includes several subdued melodies and tone poems that are affecting. The film is scored intelligently I would say as the music adds so much atmosphere and creates varying moods throughout the duration. At times the composer utilizing poignant piano and melodic sounding cello that are underlined by tense sounding backgrounds. At times the style employed by the composer is very evocative of the likes of both Debbie Wiseman and more recently Anne Nikitin, there is a sparse persona about it, where less is certainly yeilds more in the way of support and the building of atmospherics. The score in my opinion, is a delight as is the movie. Recommended.

 Chaos Walking is the latest score from Hollywood composer Marco Beltrami, on this occasion who has collaborated with Brandon Roberts. The movie itself I thought was interesting if not a little over long, but it is a movie that totally immerses its watcher into its scenarios and world. Certainly, it’s not a perfect film, is there such a thing as perfect in film? Directed by Doug Liman, the movie stars Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, who both put in good performances, set in a world that is unwelcoming and filled with dangers where there are no women and all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called noise. The music I think does a good job and the composers manage to enhance and support what is sometimes a swiftly altering storyline and one that jumps from situation to situation. Beltrami is well practiced in this type of scoring, with action being the name of the game, a fusion of both symphonic and electronic with the latter I think having the lion’s share of the of the performance, the composers creating dark and jagged sounds that are filled with a dread and menace, percussive elements both conventional and synthetic being utilized. It’s a score that I would say is interesting and also one that can be deemed as inventive, but is a score that one can sit and listen to more than once or twice, well I’m not sure?  

Le Club Vinland is a movie that has its story set in 1949, and focuses upon a teacher or Brother John who is passionate about education but is also an amateur archaeologist, he decides to take his class of students on a trip to the St Lawrence river where he aims to prove that there once was a Viking settlement there. A Canadian production the movie is directed by Benoit Pilon and has a delightful soundtrack penned by composers Pierre Lepointe and Guido del Fabbro. It’s an understated score, with numerous hints of themes throughout, that eventually come together to create a rather delicate yet romantically solid work, the melodies are filled with a fragility and a simple but ingratiating air. I loved the scores simplistic and hauntingly attractive persona, with the composers fashioning themes that for want of a better description are innocent and fresh. A delightful work and one that deserves to be listened too.  

As is the score for Los Lobos, by composer Kenji Kishi, this is another rather understated work, but one that is totally absorbing and mesmerising. The composer fashions some beautiful melodies and compositions that are although rather short in duration still manage to become memorable after just one listen, the score has to it a warm and emotive feel, and its one that I did revisit a handful of times because I was that impressed with its sensitivity and its alluring and poignant style and sound. At times, the composer utilising either solo piano or even a series of chords to purvey the emotion of the scene that is being scored. Again this is available of digital platforms from Movie Score Media, so please do give it a listen.

 I think one of the most striking scores to get a release this month is Piece of my Heart by Pessi Levanto, this is a score performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra who are supported via synthetics with the conventional and the electronic fuses flawlessly to bring us a score that is not only melodic in parts but also one that holds your attention without having to see the movie, which is rare these days. The score itself is an inventive one with imaginative use of strings, who said the art of scoring movies is something that is fading and becoming a thing of the past, well take a listen to this and be proved wrong, on digital platforms.

Welcome to Blumhouse-Black Box has music by Brandon Roberts, and this is one that’s not for me, sorry to say I found it at times a little lack lustre, and although there are a few moments within it that kind of say to you here I am wake up, these are few and far between. Heres a lot of scores out there now that are for me any way starting to sound very much the same, it’s a trend I think which is for me again worrying because melodies are not included and we are seeing an ever-increasing trend to put in place those droney (is that a word?) and sinewy sounds rather than underscore with actual music, this is certainly more drone and soundscape than music score. I will not be listening again.

Then you come across something like Where do Birds Go, which is just the opposite, this has themes and they are beautifully written and performed, the only negative the entire score is just under seven minutes long, but its ok put it on repeat you will love it. Music is by Jameson Michael Hegger, please do indulge yourself.

To something a little more seasoned now and something that when you hear it you will be reminded of the reason why you loved the music of Jerry Goldsmith so much, at last Face of a Fugitive score has been released by the genuinely nice people at Intrada. This 1959 Columbia Pictures western starred Fred McMurray and was directed by Paul Wendkos, and although this is an early Jerry Goldsmith and a western to boot, preceded only by Black Patch and City of Fear, we still hear the trademark of sounds and the quirks of ingenious orchestration that were to become the standard and appealing sound of the Maestro. The film which was Goldsmith’s first colour feature also starred Lin McCarthy and Dorothy Green. This was I suppose a major stepping-stone for Goldsmith and part of the beginnings of the composers long and illustrious career in film scoring, and it is such a great soundtrack to add to your collection, the sound quality in my opinion is excellent, and yes, I know they are in mono, but I think I would rather have a mono recording than none. Which was a possibility as it was thought that these recordings were lost forever.

Right from the opening bars which herald an urgent yet rather somber brass laced opening, which alters into a fanfare like introduction in its style and performance, the remainder of the score is urgent, dramatic and the composers utilises jagged brass and driving tense strings with solo performances from trumpet interwoven into the percussion and timpani he employs, this in my humble opinion is a score way before its time, with the composer leaving nothing to chance and engaging all the elements of a symphony orchestra to give the movie his full support. At times I was reminded of the style that Miklos Rozsa utilized in The Killers, strident, forth-right and dramatically engaging, but always thematic. So, what are you waiting for, go order it now!

Well with a name like Drum and Lace being credited as the composers on a soundtrack, would you not expect something modern upbeat and maybe a little drum and bass, I have to admit I did and that is why I was so pleasantly surprised to hear the really nice score for the movie Deadly Illusions, now this is something quite refreshing and also entertaining, its not a grand bombastic work, but it works because it is subtle and also has to it a haunting musical persona not as in highly melodic or lush but simply well, because its uncomplicated and also has this calming effect for the most part of its duration, I think that is why I found the work so appealing. There are some nice piano sections within the score, and although this is in no way a tour de force of thematic material it still does linger with the listen. There are numerous hints of themes, as in maybe a theme begins to develop but falls away only for another to start to build. Take a listen to the cue Touch, it is a lilting and calming piece, with piano, violin solo, subtle female voice, and underlying synth layering, which when all combined is quite stunning. Again, available on digital platforms, try it out.

A comedy horror next, with a powerful score courtesy of Andrew Scott Bell, Witness Infection, focuses upon two rival mobs being sent to the same town by the witness protection agency. Which ends in some funny but also brutal events. Life has always been protected for Carlo Serrelli. But his past is about to come back to haunt him. Carlo’s father has always tried to kept him out of the deadly mob business by giving him a job at the family dog groomers, while his younger brother, Dominic, has always been given the dirty jobs to do. Carlo’s father has to force him into an arranged marriage with the daughter of the rival Miola family boss. The families have been sworn and deadly enemies for years . Carlo turns to his two best friends Gina and Vince, who vow to help him get out of the arranged marriage, but they all get involved over their heads as a serious infection starts eating the town. There is however good news because of the infection that is killing everyone and that is that Carlo may not have to get married after all — but the down side is  that everyone might die.  The storyline is accompanied wonderfully by the score, which at times pokes fun a little at the more traditional horror scores that we experienced in the 1950’s and 1960’s add to this style a more upbeat and contemporary vibe with the composer bringing into play synths that are supporting some conventional instruments on the score and we have a commanding work, and also an entertaining one, the composer also includes some nice little touches that are The Godfather sound- a-like pieces. I really took to this score for the sheer inventiveness and the courage of the composer to write in such a way. Enjoyable and a must have. Also check out the composers work on Rocket, Two Roads, and The Springfield Three also on digital platforms.

Another impressive score this time for TV is La Templanza, with music by Ivan Palomares, what can I say about this score well its brilliant, that’s it really, you need to check this out or just order it now, its one of the most appealing scores thus far this year, filled with charming and melodious themes, that are elegant and romantic, emotive and affecting, it is an essential purchase. The composer showing once again his evident gift for melody and his abundance of talent. This is superb.

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT THIRTY EIGHT.

As you all know Movie Music International attempts to encompass film music from all corners of the globe, and hopefully we achieve this with the reviews and also the articles and interviews that are published here. Even in the midst of this what seems to be a never-ending pandemic the soundtrack market expands daily it seems and in this edition of soundtrack supplement we have for you new releases and also scores that have been re-issued. The first score this time around is Soul Catcher. This is a Chinese production and a live action fantasy adventure. The story focuses upon a Fox spirit, who is intent on becoming immortal and plans to take the soul and life of a naïve scholar. After the Fox spirit and the scholar have their first meeting the Fox Spirit persuades the scholar to accompany him on an adventure and together, they begin to travel through the historic Chinese countryside. Whilst doing this the Fox Spirit is determined to get the scholar into as much hot water as he can, and I have to say succeeds in doing this. This type of movie or at least its storyline suits perfectly the style and sound of the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi who has written a superbly atmospheric and wonderfully melodic score for the movie.

The composer combines both a more traditional sound with that of electronic support and fashions a work that is gracious, comedic sounding and filled with mysterious and action themed interludes. The score is I think one of the longest that Hisaishi has written and has a healthy running time of an hour and twenty minutes, which is always good news for collectors. The soundtrack is also available on digital platforms, but with this composer I do make a point of trying to purchase the compact disc.

I will not analyze each and every track as we do have a few other soundtracks to look at in edition thirty-eight of soundtrack supplement.  But there are a few that stand out more than others, but this does not mean in any way that there are inferior cues included, because each track holds something that is attractive and alluring in its own way. The opening cue entitled A Fox and a Scholar, is an interesting and dramatic sounding piece, performed predominantly by the string section, the composer also enlists rumbles of percussion and a delicate and low-key sprinkling from the vibraphone which are further augmented by further use of timpani and woodwind as the composition develops and progresses.

This opening piece sets the scene perfectly for most of what is to follow with the composer further developing this sound and style throughout the remainder of the score. With the theme which we hear in track one being revisited within the cue Providence.  The composer also treats us to some inventive action music in the form of The Furious Showdown, in which he employs numerous percussive elements giving the cue a daunting and fearsome persona, Hisaishi, adds to this a strong string presence and weaves a fast-paced theme of sorts through the wild drumming making this a exhilarating and exciting piece. The score also contains so many poignant and emotive sounding interludes, with a stunning clarinet solo underlined and supported by piano being outstanding in the cue entitled Yinglian, the composer achieving a lush and romantic sound that is edged with melancholy. At times there are also tracks within the score for Soul Catcher that contain an almost martial sound and the soundtrack also yields a wonderfully light and easy atmosphere. In fact, it is a score that for me has everything, recommended, yes of course it is.

Varese Sarabande announced two CD club releases this week Along Came a Spider by the great Jerry Goldsmith which for this expanded edition contains twenty-seven cues. The label has also given Brad Fiedel’s highly atmospheric work for the movie The Serpent and the Rainbow, a de-luxe edition make-over which contains no less than fifty-two tracks, which are released over two compact discs. A vast improvement on the original release which had just eighteen cues. The Serpent and the Rainbow I have always thought is a good movie and the score was vital to creating the movies overall atmosphere and gave the storyline more weight.  I remember buying the original compact disc release after hearing about the movie and thinking it sounded like an interesting movie and am pleased to say I still own it. For me it was one of those occasions when I got the music before I saw the movie, but on seeing the film realized just what a great job the composer had done in creating such an innovative work. This 2-disc de-luxe edition has the film mixes on disc one and the Original soundtrack on disc two, also included on disc two are some additional music cues courtesy of Nigerian born drummer Michael Babatunde Olatunji. This score in my opinion was one of the composers best from this period and that’s saying something because he was incredibly busy and in demand in the mid to late 1980’s. The score is chilling and at the same time alluring, with the composer utilizing various unsettling, synthesized sounds to bring to fruition music and sounds that are filled with a virulence and also convey a sense of the fearsome, and foreboding.

The movie too is an entertaining one, directed by Wes Craven and starring Bill Pullman as a doctor sent to Haiti to investigate a possible drug that is being used in Haitian Vodoo to create Zombie’s. The movie was shot on location in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the film has been praised for its authentic settings, grounded take on the use of Vodoo in these locations and its take on the myth of the Zombie that is rife still to this day in the Caribbean. Craven as always was wonderfully creative, fashioning effective horror atmospherics for the movie, in fact I think I might just re-visit the film tonight. As for the score you should own it.

The same can be said for Along Came A Spider, this is a classic Jerry Goldsmith, and this is evident from the opening bars of the first track, this was one of the composers final scores, released in 2001 it was the sequel to Kiss the Girls. Goldsmithcreated a brooding and at the same time dramatic and dark score that I always thought evoked the era of the film noir soundtracks, as with most of his scores from this period it contained a fusion of both conventional instrumentation and electronic enhancement, the work was filled with the trademark sounds of Goldsmith, the composer employing booming percussion, suspenseful strings and rasping brass flourishes at key moments. This is as everyone knows a score that is overflowing with a tense and nervous atmosphere, and evokes past triumphs penned by Goldsmith for movies such as Basic Instinct, The Omen and Capricorn One.

 If you already own the original Varese CD which contained just thirty-five minutes of score, then this is a must have purchase for you, with its twenty-seven cues and running time of one hour six minutes. The score too is sequenced into how it appeared in the movie. Recommended?  What do you think!

News now on an up-and-coming release, Godzilla Vs Kong Battle of the Beasts, there is mixed feeling about the movie as I see already people are questioning why Godzilla would want to have a rumble with King Kong, well when you go back in cinematic history, we can see that Godzilla did start off as an evil monster, so maybe the giant lizard has now decided its time to stop be so nice? The score for the new movie is by Junkie XL or Tom Holkenborg, and before you start dissing it already just wait. I have heard snatches of the score and in my opinion, it is incredibly good, the tracks I heard displayed a real sense of the dramatic and also the melodic, yes, the melodic. All I can say is I am looking forward to hearing the entire score. Which brings us to the next release for Zack Snyders Justice League, again music is by Holkenborg under his Junkie XL persona. And again, it’s a good score and it’s a long one too, over four hours in fact.

The only things I jumped over were the songs as I was not a fame of them in the film, so thought I would just concentrate on the actual score, but then on the second listen I left them to play, and you know they are not bad either. I particularly was drawn to Song to the Siren by Rosie Betts. But it is the score I listened too more, and over a week or so re-visited it a number of times, for me its inventive and also exciting to listen to and then when one sits and watches the movie it is plain to hear just how effective this music is in the context of the film.

Supporting, punctuating, and underlining moments of action, it becomes part of the many exhilarating fight sequences, and gives an identity to the various characters that we are introduced to both good and bad throughout the movie. It also works as a kind of glue that holds the whole thing together.  OK I, and I know many of you may not be a fan of this type of film score, but I have to say that the music does what it supposed to, it not only just supports but it lifts the action scenes to another height. The music also adds heart and purveys various levels of emotion to the proceedings. This is after all FILM MUSIC and not music to be listened to on its own, although I have listened to this score with no images and its still a fresh and interesting work. There is just something about this score that I cannot help but like and enjoy. Available on digital platforms, Recommended.

To a movie now that was released in the United States earlier in March this year and is due for release in the U.K. in May of this year. The Courier is a spy thriller, directed by Dominic Cooke and stars Benedict Cumberbatch. The movie premiered in 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival under its original title Ironbark. The musical score is the work of Abel Korzeniowski (Penny Dreadful, The Nun, Nocturnal Animals, and Romeo and Juliet). Like his other works for film and TV The Courier contains a haunting and appealing score. The composer inventing elegant and apprehensive musical poems that entice and at the same time create an uneasiness. I love the way in which the composer employs the dark and tense sounding piano within the work and laces it further with ominous strings that elevate and bring attention to its richly dark persona and heightens its sense of danger. Again, a score I whole heartedly recommend.

Anne Nikitin is a composer I have admired for a while now and her score for the British TV drama Mrs Wilson is one that you should check out, for me this is the best of Nikitin, it is scored with sensitivity and has to it a fragility that seeps through into the overall sound and atmosphere of the score, the composer has a talent for creating slight but effective themes which she does here to wonderfully. Released by Movie Score Media this is a worthy addition to any film music collection. Available on the likes of Spotify and Apple. 

The United States vs Billie Holliday is a movie that has been shown recently on Sky TV, and one of the striking things about it was its original score composed by Kris Bowers (Bad Hair, Mrs America, and Bridgerton). This is a delicate and for the most part an understated work in which the composer relies upon piano and strings to create his lilting and eloquent themes. Its shall we say a nice score, but also one that does its job so well, supporting and punctuating without being intrusive, but also adding emotion and poignancy to the movie and its storyline. Recommended, and on digital platforms.

To British TV next and The Unforgotten, which has a score by Michael Price, I do have to say that this music is so effective within the series which airs on ITV, it’s a rather low-key affair but this seems to be the way TV scores are going at this time, there are no big themes or catchy little hooks around it seems, instead the music is minimalist as in series being sparingly scored.

The Unforgotten however does contain some beautiful melodies, and the way in which the series is scored one hardly notices these because the composer is so in tune with the drama unfolding on screen, it’s not until one listens to the soundtrack recording that you actually realize that there are some truly haunting pieces here. As in the tracks Evicted, My Mistake and Desperately Sad to name but three, the latter being particularly heartfelt and consuming. If you are going to buy just two or three TV scores this year The Unforgotten should be one of them.

INSIGHT.

It’s a funny thing but sometimes when I read reviews of film scores some, and I say only some reviewers seem to lose their way a little and start to judge the music upon how it sounds as just music or a stand-alone collection of tracks, but what we have to remember is that this is film music, that we are reviewing here. Music specifically written to support enhance and also to ingratiate images on screen. The job of music in film is quite clear or at least I suppose it’s there to back up the storyline and the images, and also to make action scenes more thrilling and other scenes more emotive, scary or downright more heart breaking. So, when I hear a score that is filled with action cues, I do not just judge it on this, I do try and see the movie, but this is not always possible, so maybe view the trailer or read the synopsis, or even talk to the composer. Insight is the latest score from composer Sid De La Cruz, ( available via-Plaza Mayor Music Company) and what a great score this is, ok its predominantly an action soundtrack, but saying that there are some really poignant sections within it and also there are so many sections of the score that are upbeat but have to them a real thematic sound. Proving that a composer can be both full throttle and dramatic and still retain a melodic content.

The composer has obviously created a work that will support and punctuate the action within the movie, but at the same time he has probably unconsciously fashioned some nice rhythmic and infectious passages of music that can easily be listened to away from the movie they were written for. I remember going to the scoring sessions of a movie a few years back and the composer saying you will probably not like this because the score is an action laced one and has a lot of stabs and crashes and crescendos, on the contrary I love stuff like this, and Insight is a score that I certainly do love, it’s a tense and edgy affair with some great percussive elements that act as foreground and also background to brass, electric guitar and driving strings, what more could one ask for from an action score but Action pure and undiluted, simple. The music is relentless and consuming, it never seems to let up a mix of synth and symphonic I am guessing, but if this is a totally synth score, I did not realize or notice because it sounds as if the majority of it’s performed by conventional instruments. This is a score that kind of teeters on the edge all the time, it builds and builds but at times never reaches the apex that you think its going to, thus it creates tension it oozes drama and purveys a vibrant and powerful persona. The edginess of the work reminded me somewhat of the music of Jerry Goldsmith, which is something I also noticed on the composers Hell on the Border score, I am not saying it is a copy of any specific Goldsmith score, just the opposite as it is an inventive and original sounding work, it just has that quality and the presence that maybe Goldsmith would have also fashioned, being dramatic, and thematic at the same time. The score also contains two brief cues from composer Holly Amber Church, which are credited in the track listing, So two quality composers for the price of one, not bad. Highly recommended.

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT THIRTY SEVEN.

The release and re-issue of soundtracks continues it seems at an even greater pace and volume than ever before. The unreleased scores of Ennio Morricone seem also to be the target of many soundtrack labels. But of course, as we know the composer was whilst alive adamant that many of his soundtracks should not be released, this was for reasons only known to him and I won’t speculate as to the reasons. Last month we saw the release of Rome Come Chicago, a score by Morricone that had lone been on the wants lists of hundreds of soundtrack collector’s and Morricone devotees. However, although there is no question about the score being brilliant, the actual release as you know I thought was lacking in the sound quality department and also in my opinion was done quickly and with very little attention to detail or quality. Such a shame as a good release could have been an outstanding one, and a shame because Quartet the label that released it releases have always stood out and been instant purchases.

The label this month are releasing another Morricone score which has also been on collectors lists of desirables for a long time. However, I Due Evasi di Sing Sing or Two Escape From Sing Sing, (1964) has a sound and style that is not normally associated with that of Morricone, when listening to the score I have to admit I was more reminded of the sound of Piero Piccioni rather than Morricone, but saying that the music is not unpleasant at all, in fact its rather entertaining in a jazzy kind of way, and also interesting because it is slightly different from a Morricone soundtrack from this period of the 1960’s which was very fruitful for the composer. The movie which was a comedy was entertaining enough but there is always the way in which comedy from one country transfers to another, and maybe this is why the movie although as I say being entertaining was not that well received over ally outside of Italy and the more central countries of Europe. But it is great to see another Morricone out there, and thanks go to the Spanish label Quartet again. The only thing I worry about is that after the composer’s death the flood gates will open and scores either released or unreleased with literally flow out in large numbers, some companies maybe taking advantage and releasing soundtracks with just a few extra cues or even just a few more minutes of music on them. Which has as we all know happened so many times before, if you have not seen the movie, its focuses upon two work colleagues who are lavatory attendants in New York City, played by the comedy duo Franco and Ciccio, who went onto to star together in films such as A Fist in the Eye, For a Few Dollars Less, and The Handsome, The Ugly and the Cretinous, all of which spoofed the Leone dollar trilogy.

They save the life of an important Mafia boss Attanasia, so he in turn catapults one of the pair into a successful boxer by fixing his matches and engages the other as his second in command. A gang war begins, and the unsuspecting pair are then accused of murders and are given a death sentence. But on the day of the execution, they refuse to leave the safety of their cell, and remain there even when they are proven innocent So tame and uncomplicated silliness. Which I think is mirrored by Morricone’s upbeat and at times cheesy sounding soundtrack. Directed by Lucio Fulci it’s a film and a score that one can just watch or listen to without really using any of one’s cerebral matter. I know it will sell well to Morricone collectors, and I do have to say it is already available on digital platforms and on an LP record on the Sonor music record label. The song from the score entitled Oh Little Birdy is performed by Maurizio Graf, who’s unique vocals have lent much to numerous soundtracks.

Another re-issue this past month or so is another Morricone Il Malamondo, or Funny World, which will need no introduction to any fan of Italian film music and more specifically Ennio Morricone. This is a classic score from Il Maestro which was also released in 1964, but unlike I Due Evasi di Sing Sing, this is a score that is filled to overflowing with so many instantly identifiable musical sounds, trademarks and quirks of instrumentation and orchestration that we now so readily associate with Ennio Morricone. This latest release is available on vinyl, compact disc and yes, it’s on digital platforms, this Decca records editiin if the score contains thirty-two-tracks and is something , aeveryone should own in one form or another, if you have heard this already then you will be knocked out by the extra cues and the wonderful clarity of its sound. If you have not heard this, may I ask where have you been? If you have it buy it again, if you do not have it now is your chance to own something that is most definitely classic Morricone. Hats off to Decca as this is how to do a re-issue. A 100% must have.

A BIT OF A RANT just a little one.

I always let you know when a soundtrack is available on digital platforms, simply because many nowadays are only released on the likes of Apple Music and Spotify etc, which prompts me to include a remark here from a film music collector who informs me if you use these places “You are NOT a collector, but a listener” but are we not all listeners? He also stated that anyone who uses digital platforms is robbing record companies of their revenues, well How? I thought this was a rather odd comment, as I use these platforms and also buy CDS and vinyl too, but if a score is not available on any format and solely streaming on these what do you do if you’re a collector just not bother, anyway stupid remark I think from someone who refuses to accept that technology has arrived and no matter where you get your music from you are a fan and in my eyes a collector also, his archaic observation left me thinking just how much he was missing out on and also maybe fans who use digital, vinyl and CD are more of a collector than him because he in my mind is a Selective Listener and not a collector.

From vintage Morricone to something contemporary and something that is not only different but alluring. Come True has a score by Electric Youth who are a Canadian band, or to be more specific a pop-synth duo from Toronto who are Bronwyn Griffin and Austin Garrick. Their style is quite unique and brings something that is fresh and innovative to film scores, they combine instrumentals with vocals and at times mix the two styles to create some stunning and mesmeric moments. The Sci-Fi/Horror movie Come True contains a score that I enjoyed immensely, there is a sound and an atmosphere projected from the music that is calming and unassuming. The themes are simple and at times understated, but always effective and ultimately affecting.  Listen to the cues, The Prologue, and The Seeker to encounter the tranquility and restful atmospherics that evoke the sounds and the style of Vangelis. The track Don’t Know Her too displays a certain Vangelis stylization, but is a little more edgy and darker than the previous cues. There is a tense but not over the top all out panic purveyed here, the music acting as a slow burner creating a taught mood. The score also contains a handful of vocal cues, but these to be honest are also well done.

The movie Come True is about a teenager who agrees to take part in a study on sleep patterns, but this ends up being a nightmarish and frightening encounter that shows how powerful dreams are or can be and a terrifying journey into the depths of her own mind.  I have not encountered any of Electric Youth’s music before now, but this score made me want to discover more and find out more about them. Check it out, you will I am certain be pleased you did. Guess what its on digital platforms, and compact disc so listen carefully.

Eagle Wings, is a 2021 Nollywood film that concentrates upon the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and its gallant fight against insurgency in defence of national peace and unity. The score is as one might expect patriotic sounding and filled to the brim with a proud and bristling vibrancy that is created by composer, Chuck Okudo. I was not sure on this at first but after listening to it through twice I found it a compelling and an entertaining listen, its highly thematic with the composer putting to effective use strings, brass and percussive elements, plus he weaves into the score ethnic sounding vocal performances that are truly stunning and stop one in your tracks when listening to the score. Its is a fusion of both symphonic and electronic, but its hard to decipher where one starts and the other ends etc. there are some beautiful passages within the score, which are emotive and poignant. But it’s the diversity of the music and the orchestration of the work that makes this such an interesting and ultimately enjoyable work. Take a listen, this is one for the collection. Recommended.  

There are more and more film scores that are predominantly performed via the use of electronics, synths and samples, and over the years the software that is needed by composers to score films using these tools have become more and more complex and polished, so much so that it is at times difficult to tell whether a score is symphonic or synthetic, however there are some that on listening to one can decipher straight away that they are electronic, which is not a bad thing because this is obviously the composer wanted to achieve, I find that this type of score invariably turns up in a low budget movie or in horror movies which do seem to rely more upon atmospherics rather than rich or luxurious thematic material. There are a few released this month that fit into that category, but please do not be put off listening to the following titles simply because they are not full-blown symphonic affairs as the music works well within each movie and after all film music is a medium or an art that is employed to enhance images and is not something that is written to produce hit tracks or songs.

Torn:Dark Bullets is the first I would like to give a mention too. It’s a dark and at times tense score and relies upon the use of synths and percussive effects and elements to create its dark and brooding musical persona. The composer, Ainz Brainz Prasad, has compiled an ominous and somewhat perplexing sounding work for the movie, which conveys a harrowing and unsettling atmosphere. Its probably not a score you will want to listen to on a summer evening or when chilling after a hard day as I am sure it would send those stress levels soaring, but as a film score and used to underline the action and various scenarios unfolding in the storyline, it works and works well. Again, it is the old thing, its film music and what is film music’s job? Exactly.

Same can be said for composer Alexander Taylor’s music in the movie The Dead of Night, although this does contain some conventional instrumentation at certain points, but largely is electronic and it can be said it is for the majority of its duration atonal. Affecting within the movie, but maybe not as striking or memorable away from it. Taylor has also scored Dreamcatcher, which again is largely electronic, but does have some inventive notions along the way, with the composer employing a haunting chiming motif and an electric guitar solo within what I would say is its central theme.

Benji Merrison, has produced a score that is upbeat and high octane for the movie SAS: Red Notice, it’s a mix of both symphonic and electronic by the sound of it, but do not quote me on that. There are some really good thematic foundations laid down within the score that the composer builds upon and fully develops as the score moves forward and progresses, the composer puts most of these into a suite which is track number thirty four on the recording, SAS The Suite, is a hard hitting piece, with brass flourishes, martial sounding percussion and driving string passages, it is a stirring and forthright cue that holds the listeners interest for the entire near six minutes that is runs.

It’s a score that I thought was not only inventive in its orchestration etc but also one that was for the majority of its duration entertaining. Certainly, worth investigating.

A soundtrack that you absolutely have to buy is James Newton Howard’s Raya and the Last Dragon, this is the latest from Disney, and we all know just how well Newton Howard scores animation don’t we. This is a fully symphonic work with the odd support here and there from the electronic. It’s a mysterious sounding work, with rich and lush musical moments that are filled with not just the mystical but the romantic and the comedic, a varied and vibrant work that is bursting to capacity with haunting and delectable sounding themes and edged with emotive and poignant tone poems. This is highly recommended.

I do honestly think that Newton Howard has written some of the most melodic film music over the past decade or so and in a way has taken over from where Jerry Goldsmith left off, I am not saying he is the new Goldsmith, but he seems to be scoring movies that Goldsmith probably would have worked on if he had been alive today. Raya and the Last Dragon is a score that is so varied and also contains so many vibrant and interesting performances, with the composer including a plethora of instrumentations in very much the same way he did with his score for Dinosaur. Its film music with heart, and movie music that has rhythm and appeal.

Another outstanding score has also been made available this month via Movie Score Media, The Camellia Sisters, which has an excellent score by Christopher Wong, Garret Crosby and Ian Rees, this is something really special and I say here and now I love it, the opening track From the Bridge alone just floors one emotionally, it is a anthemic and robust sounding theme that is performed by strings, brass and percussion plus there is female solo voice that makes the cue even more powerful and mesmerizing. The entire score is a commanding one and is crammed packed with so many themes its hard to believe that this all comes from just one score, but it does. I just adore the sound the composers have achieved here, its romantic yet action led, dramatic yet emotive, and at times fragile and yet apprehensive, there is only one thing to do I think, and that is to buy it now and see what you think, but I am confident you will love it as I do. Elegant, affecting and enriching. Recommended.

Other scores that are worth checking out include The Man in the Hat by Stephen Warbeck, which was released digitally a while ago and is now available on CD from Quartet records, also you may have missed Guy Farley’s delightfully enchanting score for Silver Skates which is from Movie Score Media and available on digital platforms.

And also on Spotify and other such digital dens of iniquity (lol) the unassuming but incredibly powerful music of Gary Yershon for the Mike Leigh movie Peterloo, which was released in 2018 there is just twelve minutes of the score available but it is a powerful work and well worth listening to, the movie too is worth a watch. Yershon also wrote the music for the movie Mr Turner in 2014, which is another innovative score of his to investigate. That’s all for this time.

KINO MUSIC.

It is not often that I write about a non-film music release, because the idea of MMI is to promote music from film and TV. But, I do at times make an exception. Someone recommended the album I am going to discuss a few days ago, and said that the style and sound within the collection of tracks was strikingly evocative of Ennio Morricone, Well, this is frequently said, and I invariably get the album and listen to it and think, which track sounds like Morricone?  But this album is certainly a different scenario. Kino Music by Pierre Daven-Keller is a very wonderful homage to the style and the sound of not just the sixties and seventies music of Ennio Morricone, but I think it pays tribute to the sound of Italian cinema as a whole from that period. The composer, performer and producer has put together a collection of great thematic pieces, which do remind one of the furtive music periods of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is I suppose a cinematic themed album as in the music could very well be from any number of movies, it is also a lounge or easy listening album, but I have to say here and now please do not pass up the chance of hearing this, it’s a perfectly retro listening experience. In fact, I would also say that the composer manages to bring into play the shake and pop orientated style that was employed by German composers such as Peter Thomas that comes complete with that groovy sounding organ we heard so much of in both Italian and German scores, there are also hints of a style not dissimilar to that of French Maestro Francis Lai and some of the sophistication of Michel Legrand, The composer combines these with sounds that are similar to that of cherished composers such as Piero Piccioni, Gianni Ferrio, and their like, combining a jazzy funky sound with that of a romantic and sensual atmosphere. There is just something about this recording that I know will make people want to hear more of this artists work. In these strange days of semi lockdown and also of caution and avoiding others, this is a much appreciated and highly welcomed collection a respite from what has been a depressing time. It’s a collection that one can sit and listen to with no pressures whatsoever, the varied collection of rich and vibrant material washing over the listener and creating an atmosphere that is comfortable and warming , as well as being entertaining. It not only includes atmospheric wordless female vocals in the style of Edda Dell Orso, but there is a stunning whistling performance on the cue Sirocco, that is remarkable and brought memories flooding back of so many of those flawless Alessandroni performances.

Pierre Daven-Keller – Sirocco – YouTube

Then we are treated to samba like cues and also a vocal or two, which are inventive, It’s a recording that does one good, it is good for the soul and makes the heart swell, it also brings back memories of discovering the unique sound of Italian music and seeking out the latest Cipriani, Nicolai, Umiliani, etc in all those shops that we foraged through in London over four decades ago. One word to describe this release is Stunning, just that, so please do not hesitate to buy now. Available on digital platforms and there is a vinyl edition available. Check it out as soon as you can. This is highly recommended.