A score that I have long wanted to have a release on compact disc or at least be made available on digital platforms is The Adventurers from 1970, which had a score by Antonio Carlos Jobim and additional music by Eumir Deodato. Ok, I admit its probably not the greatest soundtrack in the world, but there are certainly some nice pieces included in its running time, the soundtrack did have a release on LP record back in 1970 on the Paramount label, which was a brilliant label and released a number of albums including Waterloo, Borsalino, and Monte Carlo or Bust during the 1970’s. It was a label that seemed to just vanish without trace after a year or so. The Adventurers was based upon the Harold Robbins novel of the same name and was the second movie in that year to hit cinema screens based upon the writings of Robbins the other being Stiletto which also sadly seemed to flounder at the box office, but at least the score from this is available.
The score for The Adventurers has a fusion of styles within it, with the composer employing romantic and lush interludes with dramatic and fast paced action cues that are all held together by jazz influenced compositions. The score also includes a rather clumsy sounding military march, and various tracks such as That Ole Black Magic, and Corteguay that were utilized as source music within the storyline and are given the Jobim/Deodato treatment which is instantly recognizable.
This is an entertaining work if nothing else, but there are a handful of stand out tracks which have a resounding and lasting impression upon the listener, Dax Rides being one of these, and although it’s rather brief running in at just over a minute and a half, it makes a lasting imprint upon any listener because it encompasses a handful of styles in such a short space of time. The cue opens with a laid-back jazz samba type vibe, but this mood soon alters as the pace is increased and the composer brings into the equation percussive elements which are driving and supported by horns and strings giving it a more urgent feel, but all the time the jazz style is still present and being incorporated into the fabric of the piece.
The score also boasts a rather haunting love theme for two of the central characters Dax and Amparo, that contains whispering woods, that are at times breathy and sensual, and a lilting and affecting guitar solo which is underlined by strings. It’s unbelievable that this has never been released on CD because it’s not only a good soundtrack as in the music supports the storyline adding depth and atmosphere, but it’s an entertaining listen which I would imagine would appeal to more than film music fans.
Jobim is known more widely for his samba influenced compositions such as The Girl from Ipanema which he co-wrote and became one of the most recorded songs of all time. Although he was not what we would call a film music composer his music has featured in numerous movies and continues to do so even now nearly thirty years after his death. It would be a fitting tribute to a composer of his caliber and popularity to issue this score, but that’s down to record labels I suppose, after all we are just the people who buy them.
Directed by Lewis Gilbert, the story focuses upon the wealthy playboy son of an assassinated South American diplomat, who discovers that his father was really murdered on orders of the corrupt president of the country, a man who was supposedly his father’s friend and who, in fact, his father had helped put into power. He returns from living a jet-set life in Europe to lead a revolution against the government, only to find out that things aren’t quite as black and white as he had assumed. It’s a movie that many now feel was unfairly criticised at the time of its release. Filled with intrigue, action, and romance, it is an entertaining movie and one that many have enjoyed re-discovering in later years and given a chance to truly appreciate its many interesting points. But saying this the movie which was thought to be a disaster at the box office was rated eleventh in the ratings for the year 1970 in the USA.
The cast was impressive to say the least, with Charles Aznavour, Candice Bergen, Ernest Borgnine, Olivia De Havilland, Rossana Brazzi, John Ireland, Fernando Rey, Leigh Taylor Young and Bekim Fehmiu. The movie was originally rated “R” in the U.S. in 1970, with some of the violence and sex was cut to be re-rated “PG” for a 1972 theatrical re-release. Paramount pictures then decided to restore the cut footage (and the “R” rating) in the 1992 video release. Interesting points related to the film are that both Alain Delon and George Hamilton were originally cast in lead roles but turned them down as did Ali McGraw and Mia Farrow. There is so much to this movie and so many styles and rich attributes to its score you should try and catch it.
Just as I finished the last soundtrack supplement, there were a handful of releases that came through, so rather than wait I thought I would include them in a soundtrack supplement extra.
Back in 2017 Atli Orvarsson provided the score for Hitman’s Bodyguard, which was accompanied by a sprinkling of popular songs. The score was inventive and entertaining, and I am pleased to say that the composer has returned to the frey in the sequel Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. On this occasion however I can see an absence of any songs and the album contains the score for the movie only, which is always good news.
The score has to it a kind of superhero and retro sound, and at times is upbeat and fast paced with driving themes and music that evokes maybe things such as The Man From Uncle and to a degree the Brian Tyler Iron Man score remember the track Can you Dig it? it also has to it tinges and little nuances that are a homage to the style and sound of composers such as Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams.
This is a full-on high-powered score filled with strong dramatic compositions and inventive themes and orchestrations, such as Helicopter Chase, and Kidnapped by Interpol. Plus, there are some quieter moments as displayed in the lilting and melancholy sounding cue, Flashback of Mom. One for your collection, I think.
From an upbeat toe tapping, infectious beaty high octane affair we move to something a little more emotive, delicate, and affecting in the form of L’Instant Present, which is composed by Phar or Raphael Dargent. This is such a refreshingly beautiful score, laced with wonderfully alluring tone poems that for me evoke memories of the sophisticated and eloquent style of Georges Delerue, the more recent works of Alexandre Desplat and the intricate and understated but affecting music of Phillipe Rombi.
There is a richness of thematic properties present throughout, the work being a delicate and romantic listening experience, and one that is overflowing with an atmosphere that is tantalizing, vibrant, brimming with fragility and a charming and refined musical persona.
For me the music is wonderfully expressive the composer painting a musical picture that is so deeply emotional at times it is heart melting. It is a relatively short score with just eight cues and a running time of sixteen minutes, but each second and every minute of this work is rewarding, beguiling and haunting, with each cue containing something that is undeniably special. Recommended yes, it is. 100 percent, available from Movie Score Media via digital platforms.
Another score that is well worth listening to is Wish Dragon, which is at this moment streaming on Netflix go check it out, the score is by Philip Klein, the composer has created an imposing and lush score that has to it romantic and comedic attributes, fully symphonic by the sound of things this is a great listen, affecting and intricate sounding themes are heard alongside adventurous and melodious sweeping passages which tend to send a slight shudder up ones spine.
This is a superbly touching and thematic score, the composer should be congratulated for creating a work with so many themes, nuances, entertaining, and mesmeric sounding interludes which are performed via the string section.
With subdued woods and eloquent piano solos also making an appearance the composer adding an even greater sense of drama with epic and grandiose stylized brass and inventive percussion that are embellished with choral performances, this is one for any discerning film music collector. Available on digital platforms as is the latest score from the talented and versatile Frederick Weidman, Occupation: Rainfall, is a work that literally is bursting with a tense and dramatic atmosphere, Weidman’s music is bristling with a sense of action that is relentless and totally consuming.
We are treated to rasping and dark sounding brass, booming percussive elements and driving strings that all combine and compliment one another to bring to fruition a non-stop dramatic action fest of music, which although is commanding and powerful still oozes a rich and vibrant thematic quality. Mare of Easttown is a TV series that has been causing more than a stir with audiences. The HBO series stars Kate Winslett who gives a highly polished, realistic and down to earth performance in the role of a detective sergeant who is leading the investigation into the murder of a young woman in the small Pennsylvanian town of Easttown.
Winslett’s character Mare Sheehan is a seasoned and skilled investigator who has spent the majority of her life in the town and is familiar with all of its inhabitants. Her investigations are however made more difficult because she has recently lost her son with her days becoming dark and troubled. The musical score for the series is a subtle one, with composer Lele Marchitelli creating an at times emotive but quite uneasy sounding soundtrack, which he realizes via a small orchestra, with strings being the main stay that are supported by synths. With solo piano also providing the foundation of the work. It’s an interesting listen on its own, and within the movie the music does for me at least stand out as being not only supportive but as creating levels and degrees of emotion and melancholy throughout. Adding even greater atmospheric level to proceedings.
Marchitelli also scored The New Pope in 2020 and # Anne Frank-Parralel Stories in 2019. His music is certainly worth a listen and please do take time to see Mare of Easttown the series on Sky Atlantic.
Adventures in Babysitting, was a comedy film released in 1987, directed by Chris Columbus and starring Elizabeth Shue, it did relatively well at the box office and contained a suitably adventurous, dramatic and tongue in cheek score by composer Michael Kamen, who also scored Lethal Weapon, Suspect, Rita, Sue and Bob Too, and Someone to Watch over me in the same year.
The soundtrack was issued in 2015 by Intrada records onto compact disc and has been made available this month on digital platforms and it is a score that I know you will enjoy immensely. Alongside Kamen’s compelling and exciting score there are two predictable eighties songs, one performed by the cast of the movie the other by Percy Sledge, which too are enjoyable in a strange and cringy type of way, not saying they are bad but maybe they have not weathered the years as well as Kamen’s score has. At times Kamen conjures up a tense atmosphere via music that has to it a Herrmann-esque style, with brass and strings working together to create an uneasy but at the same time upbeat and comedic sound. Again worth checking out.
Welcome to soundtrack supplement forty-four, I begin this edition with a score that I think is a delight. Spirit Untamed is a fusion of vocal performances and original symphonic score and what a score this is, Music is courtesy of composer Amie Doherty, who’s music for Undone was a revelation, Spirit Untamed is a soundtrack that I really must insist that you check out, available on digital platforms so really there is no excuse not to take a listen and, in my opinion, it would be rude not too. If you are a fan of the late James Horner I think you will love this score as at times it evoked the style and sound of his soundtracks. It is a work of great quality and diversity, with grand symphonic pieces mixed with more intimate and even comedic sounding passages. Which is why I think that this is such an interesting and above all entertaining work. The composer utilizes the string section to maximum effect and combines the sweeping, driving, romantic and lush string performances with proud and triumphant brass flourishes and percussive elements, adding to these the support of woods and beautiful guitar performances, that glide in and out of the score creating a wonderfully rich but at the same time emotive statement. Plus, we are treated to a homage of sorts to Ennio Morricone in the track, I am the Train, which comes complete with male voices in Fistful of Dollars like mode that punctuate the cue and a Soprano solo, whistling, racing percussion, plus a solo trumpet performance.
It is a score that seems to keep on giving as after I listened to it a couple of times I returned again and again to discover so much more than I did on my initial listens. A great score that is not only robust and vibrant but also has to it affecting emotional levels. Check this out ASAP.
BEAT records in Italy have over the past decade or so certainly ramped up their re-issue and release programme of scores from Italian cinema. At times, the label releasing soundtracks that have never seen the light of day before and also continuing to release scores that have already had a release either on LP or on Compact Disc but giving collectors extra cues that have been discovered in the archives. Their recent releases include Around the World with the Lovers of Peynet, which was originally issued on a Japanese Seven Seas LP record then re-issued a couple of times in expanded forms on a handful of labels. The music score is the work of Alessandro Alessandroni with a Love theme or Main title theme by Ennio Morricone. A few years ago, I remember talking to Alessandroni in London about this animated movie that was released back in 1974 and why Morricone had written just the Love theme, Alessandroni explained that Morricone agreed to do the score, but then became remarkably busy, so Alessandroni was asked to take on the project, with Morricone providing the Love theme by way of an apology of sorts to the film’s producers. The score by Alessandroni is glorious with the composer placing his own unique musical fingerprint upon proceedings whilst subtly incorporating sections of Morricone’s opening theme into his score. And is a prime example of the creative, exquisitely romantic, and wonderfully atmospheric Italian film music from the 1960’s and 1970’s. This latest edition from BEAT contains thirty-eight tracks from the original stereo master tapes and has clear sound which makes it well worth adding to your collection even if you do already own the prior releases.
BEAT have also released a 2 CD set of the music from So Che Tu Sai Che Io Io So. Which was scored by Maestro Piero Piccioni in 1982 with the music being released originally by GDM. The movie directed by Alberto Sordi, has a score that encompasses a mix of styles with the composer providing the film with romantic and lilting themes that are aired alongside up-beat funky disco grooves and Latino influenced pieces some of which do I have to say become repetitive and tired. The second disc in this new set includes un-released material from the score, but do we really need all this as the original release was already adequate in my mind, again it is a case of less is more, proving that an endless release programme of unreleased cues is sometimes not want everybody really wants. The third release from the BEAT stable is a joint effort between them and the newish soundtrack label CF recordings, who have issued a few obscure Italian scores but nothing to shout about.
This collaboration is for the Armando Travajoli soundtrack to Straziami, Ma di Baciami Sazaiami which was released back in 1968, the score for this rather wishy-washy comedy contains a central theme that is probably one of the composers most haunting and one which can be heard throughout the work in varying arrangements, renditions of it providing the foundation for the majority of the soundtrack. There is only one negative with all three of these releases and that is that they have all been issued before, I do stress always that maybe labels in Italy should start to focus on the many scores that still lay in the archives, instead of releasing soundtracks that have already been issued and some of these being released quite recently. Re-issues are always good for newer collectors, with Around the World with the Lovers of Peynet standing out on this occasion but seasoned film music fans are still waiting for something vintage but new if you see what I mean. Time surely is running out for some of these vintage scores that lay in the archives, and because of age or indeed the way they have been stored could at any time turn to dust and be lost forever. We are told there is a wealth of material still unreleased in various vaults, so where are they? And yes I know Sugar music now own the CAM catalogue but why keep re-issuing re-issues, just a thought.
Game scores recently I have looked forward to hearing as they seem to be becoming more interesting and certainly more inventive than most scores for film and TV, but I suppose that’s a little unfair because the game score composer is maybe a little less inhibited or restricted when scoring a game as opposed to a movie. But that’s something I truly am not sure of, either way game scores for me personally have progressed and developed vastly in their content and also their attention to musicality and thematic quality, one such score is for the video game Chivalry 2, which has a driving and wonderfully robust and vibrant soundtrack by composer J.D,Spears. What can I say about the music apart from its relentless and filled with so many rich and affecting thematic manifestations, I wont dwell on this release but I do highly recommend that you take a listen and go along for the musical white knuckle-ride. Talking of white-knuckle rides stand by for one that will probably scare the pants off you, as soon as I mention composer Joseph Bishira I know many will feel that tingling feeling up their spine or the hairs on their arms and neck will literally stand up as if they have been frightened into doing so.
The Conjuring-The Devil Made Me Do It is here, and so to is another atmospheric and totally consuming score from this talented and versatile composer. This I think is probably one of the most affecting and malevolent sounding scores from Bishara, and it does when one listens to it make you very apprehensive and unsettled. It is also a score that is far more grandiose sounding than any of the other Conjuring soundtracks, it is an imposing and also a if you can forgive the pun haunting listening experience, it also however contains a number of less fraught and fearsome sounding cues with the composer utilizing strings and emotive solo piano too purvey moments of respite. Another great horror film score, from a composer who seems to get better and better. Marco Beltrami is a composer who many associate predominantly with the horror genre, but there is far much more to Beltrami than crashes, bangs and sinister sounds. Granted, his scores for the Scream series are a great example of horror film scoring, with manic shrieking strings, upbeat interludes and driving musical passages throughout, but there was also a sound that in my opinion was close to the operatic within those scores that displayed to us just how talented Beltrami was and still is. The composer has worked on so many movies since those early days, and although not all his soundtracks have met with the approval of everyone, he has contributed some of the most atmospheric and innovative film soundtracks of both the 20th and thus far 21st century and continues to do so.
A Quiet Place 2 is one of his most recent projects, and the composer has penned a tense and at the same quite emotive score for this uneasy horror tale. The composer also worked on the original movie A Quiet Place. Beltrami’s music is a vital component to the movie’s development, and it is the music that on most occasions is the most terrifying thing on the screen or behind and underneath the action at least. The score is grating, visceral, persistently manic, edgy, and seductively and forebodingly dark and harrowing. It can at times be chaotic because of its use of percussive elements and the intense sounding foghorn like call that is associated with the creatures in the movie. Again, this is one for your collection.
Meandre is a sci-fi horror movie that was released in 2020, the score is by composer Frederic Poirier and is a subtle but also a powerful work, an electronic work in the main the composer has created some beautiful melodies, which are presented alongside dark and shadowy pieces, both styles complimenting each other to make this an enjoyable listen. I like to unpredictability of the score, some cues beginning as low key and subdued but then building and altering course to become something that is oh so dark and tense. It’s a score that I think you will enjoy, take a listen it’s on digital platforms.
Let us take a step back a few years for the next soundtrack and maybe this is one you might have overlooked. Bellissima Estate was originally released in 1974 on RCA records it is a soundtrack that will delight and please any collector who subscribes to the romantic sounding film score. It will also be of interest to collectors who have a preference for the more romantically laced works of composers such as Franco Micalizzi, Berto Pisano, Stelvio Cipriani, Armando Trovajoli, Ennio Morricone, and Roberto Pregadio. I say this because the style and sound achieved is somewhat similar to firstly Micalizzi’s scores for The Last Snows of Spring, The tree with Pink Leaves and Alla Cara Mia Mamma (the latter still is crying out for a full release) and also has certain similarities to Interrabang by Berto Pisano. Composer Alberto Pomeranz utilizes to great effect the beautiful wordless vocals of Edda Dell Orso, and combines her unique aural talents with soaring strings, and piano which are both at times combined and performed in unison creating some of those spine-shivering moments. Light and easy-going compositions are the mainstay of this work, along with choir and slight jazz influenced passages that create a magical and hauntingly mesmerising work.
The movie itself is a tearjerker, one of many such tales that were produced in Italy during the mid to late 1970s, I do not think this example was that successful outside of Italy’s borders, but it starred the attractive screen siren Senta Berger which for me has to be a plus. The score is quite breath-taking, and the composer seems to squeeze every drop of emotion out of the orchestra as they treat the listener to some wonderfully romantic and emotive tone poems. Every track on this compact disc is a joy to hear the haunting melodies are full and richly elegant. The disc contains fourteen cues which originally appeared on the RCA long player, and a further eleven cues which are listed as bonus tracks, all twenty-five tracks on the CD are in full and crystal-clear stereo sound. There is also a fourteen-track edition on Spotify as the CD release could now be hard to find. I just love the sound that Pomeranz has created, he utilises piano to maximum effect and enhances and embellishes this with a light and delicate dusting of harpsichord, plus romantic sounding strings and equally delicate and emotive woodwind. The score contains several slightly upbeat cues within the work, samba type compositions (shades of Love Circle) with Edda taking the lead, supported by jazz infused rhythms that are underlined using sliding strings, which add texture and substance to the cues. Packaged attractively, but no information in the way of notes, which I think would have been of great benefit to the release, as the film is virtually unknown, and the composer too is not that well recognised by collectors. But hey, we cannot have it all, and when the music is as good as this well, we can I suppose put up with it. There are a few additional compositions on the score which are the work of Italian composer Luciano Michelini, but the track listing credits do not indicate which these are. But Michelini performed piano on a few soundtracks so maybe that is why he is credited here. Seek this out you will be amazed, highly recommended. Staying with a release or should I say three now classic Italian releases from the 1970’s that finally made their way onto compact disc in 2013 and are in the same style as Bellissima Estate or vice versa as The Last Snows of Spring, The Tree with Pink Leaves and The White Horses of August were all released before it. Digit movies in Italy did a grand job of issuing these three Franco Micalizzi scores in the same two CD set. The Last Snows of Spring soundtrack sold well in Italy when it was released on the RCA Original Cast label in 1973, it also generated interest outside of Italy with the film being advertised on British TV and the soundtrack receiving a limited release on K-Tel records. Ok nowadays it would probably be relegated to late night cable television if it was indeed shown at all as time has not been kind to it and now it is looked upon as a sentimental and syrupy example of 1970s cinema.
With fresh-faced and slightly annoying child actor Renato Cestie taking the part of a boy whose Mother has died and refuses to accept his Fathers new partner. The score however has managed to stand the test of time and even now sounds as bright and melodic as it did way back when I first heard it on LP which I purchased from at Soundtrack at the arts theatre club in London. Micalizzi,s gift for melody is evident in the first flourishes of the films love theme. The digit movies release includes the original album tracks, plus we are treated to a further ten cues which were not before issued in any format until now making a grand total of twenty-three cues. Micalizzi, manages to create an atmospheric as well as heartrending sound throughout the score, via use of the string section, harpsichord, guitar, piano and also subtly placed woods which not only support but enhance the many swelling string flourishes that rise and fall throughout the work. There is also a song on the soundtrack, Crianca, performed by Trio de Paula and Gino Marinuzzi which I would compare to the style of Antonino Carlos Jobim, as it has a definite Brazilian or Latin sound.
Micalizzi also utilises jazz influenced organ which can be heard at its most effective during track number twelve Vodka Per Due, being showcased alongside harpsichord and percussion. This is a score that one will never tire of and I am sure will be returned to on many occasions. Next up is The lesser known, The Tree with Pink Leaves (1974) a film in many ways that has similar themes and scenarios to The Last Snows of Spring, being an unashamedly over the top and gushy tearjerker involving a young boy (Renato Cestie) and his sadness about the breakup of his parents, a sadness that eventually drives him to run away but tragedy strikes and he is involved in an accident and sadly dies. For this movie Micalizzi created a suitably emotive score, in which he utilises solo guitar supported heavily by strings and woodwind. There are certainly similarities between the two scores, I suppose there would be as they were both written by the same composer almost back-to-back. The highlight cue for me from this soundtrack is track number twenty six on disc one, Favola which is a combination of strings, harpsichord and soothing sounding woodwinds that are punctuated by piano and guitar; it is a sheer delight and one of Micalizzi’s most haunting pieces.
Originally released on Cinevox records, the LP has now become sought after by collectors, not just for the music it contains but also for its vibrant and eye arresting artwork some of which is reproduced for this CD release. The soundtrack runs from track number twenty-four to twenty-eight on disc one and then continues tracks one through to five on disc two, a score that contains light jazz orientated cues with sleepy sounding trumpet being lifted by sentimental strings, romantically infused pieces and some cues that mange to be mysterious yet highly harmonious. Again, a wonderful score, which will be firm favourite of collectors old and new.
The third score on this collection, had never been issued in its complete form before, a few tracks appeared back in 1976 on a Franco Micalizzi best of collection, that was released on RCA in Italy and also a 45rpm single did get a release, The White Horses of August yes you guessed it a is another tearjerker, and involves yet another sad tale about another young boy, who when holidaying in Italy falls from a cliff and badly injures himself, but because of this accident eventually brings together his parents. This score by Micalizzi, is quite stunning, full of melody, and features the stunning soaring wordless vocals of Edda Dell Orso, this release features no less than nineteen tracks which are pure unadulterated romanticism from Micalizzi. Delicate piano solos, soaring strings, exquisite female vocals, charming themes, and a delightful song all go to make up a rewarding and enriching listening experience, I recommend this Digit movies release whole heartedly.
Lets stay with Italian film music for the next release, again this is a movie that was released back in 1966, La Strega in Amore was directed by acclaimed Italian filmmaker Damiano Damiani and is a movie that is somewhat overlooked. The score is by Luis Bacalov and has recently been made available digitally on the platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify. It is a quite different Luis Bacalov that are hearing on this score I say different, but I suppose inventive is the word that is best used to describe the composers work on this one. It contains some nice themes and even has a South American flavour at times when the composer employs melodic woods, but there is a sinister side to the score with the composer creating edgy and creepy effects via whispering and gasping female voices, he also puts to effective use guitar solos, percussive elements, and spidery and sinister sounding sinewy strings. It is a score that I found interesting, and I am sure you will too. Check it out. That’s all folks.
THE MOVIE MUSIC INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION AWARDS 2020.
*Please note there are some titles within this listing that were released in the closing weeks of 2019. But they were not more widely distributed until the early months of 2020. Therefore, we decided to include these because of the quality of the work.
As always these are recognition awards no ceremonies or certificates at the moment, just a nod of appreciation to the composer, presenters and authors responsible. There are also five new categories, label of the year for vinyl releases, best UK based radio station film music show, best individual track from a film score, best printed publication for film and including film music, and best book on film music or a specific composer.
BREAK-OUT COMPOSER OF THE YEAR.
THIS YEAR WE HAVE TWO COMPOSERS WHO WE THINK ARE WORTHY OF RECOGNITION.
THOMAS CLAY. Fanny Lye Deliver’d.
SID DE LA CRUZ. Hell on the Border.*
BEST TV SCORE.
UPSIDE DOWN MAGIC. TOM HOWE. Disney.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE.
FANNY LYE DELIVER’D. THOMAS CLAY.
BEST HORROR SCORE.
BAD HAIR. KRIS BOWERS.
BEST SCORE FOR A COMEDY.
THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD.
BEST SCI-FI SCORE.
PROXIMITY JERMAINE STEGALL.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SCORE.
APERFECT PLANET. ILAN ESHKERI.
BEST SCORE FOR AN ANIMATED MOVIE.
FEARLESS. ANNE- KATHRIN DERN
BEST SCORE FOR AN ACTION/THRILLER/DRAMA.
*HELL ON THE BORDER. SID DE LA CRUZ.
LABEL OF THE YEAR. (CD AND DOWNLOADS).
DRAGONS DOMAIN. U.S.A.
LABEL OF THE YEAR. (VINYL).
FOUR FLIES RECORDS. ITALY.
BEST RE-ISSUE OF A FILM SCORE.
TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA. ENNIO MORRICONE. LA LA LAND records U.S.A.
BEST RE-RECORDING OF A FILM SCORE.
ENDLESS NIGHT. BERNARD HERRMANN. Quartet Records.
RECOGNITION AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE ART OF FILM AND TV MUSIC.
COMPOSER OF THE YEAR.
BEST INDIVIDUAL TRACK FROM A FILM SCORE.
*HORSE CHASE. FROM HELL ON THE BORDER. SID DE LA CRUZ.
BEST ONLINE SOUNDTRACK SPECIALIST RADIO STATION.
CINEMATIC SOUND RADIO NETWORK. Erik Woods and co.
BEST U.K. BASED RADIO STATION FILM MUSIC SHOW.
MARK KERMODE. SCALA RADIO. (SKY O216).
BEST BOOK ON FILM MUSIC OR A SPECIFIC COMPOSER.
ENNIO MORRICONE-MASTER OF THE SOUNDTRACK. Maurizio Baroni. (Gingko press).
BEST PRINTED PUBLICATION FOR FILMS THAT HAS ARTICLES THAT INCLUDE FILM MUSIC.
WE BELONG DEAD. Eric McNaughton. U.K.
The year has been a tough one, but through it all composers, producers and directors still managed to create memorable movies, tantalising TV shows, incredible books and eye catching and interesting magazines and so many powerful musical soundtracks. Heres to 2021 and better times. Thank you for your support throughout the years.
Welcome to soundtrack supplement thirty-three. Once again, we have a mixed and full bag of titles to tell you about, hopefully we will be able to guide you some new additions or at least make you aware of them, as always, it’s a varied batch of titles which take in old, new, well known and obscure. I am going to begin with the soundtrack from a TV series. A Discovery of Witches has caused more than a ripple of interest, the series now in its third season becoming essential viewing for many but saying this it has also failed to inspire just as many viewers. I think one should give it a chance and also explore as many new things on TV as possible, I for one am enjoying the series and am savouring the musical score or scores for each episode.
Rob Lane is the composer, and has provided the series with a supportive, dark, and atmospheric sound that is filled with intrigue and mystery and oozes an uneasy and edgy persona. You may remember the composer from the series Merlin, for which he provided some magnificent music. Lane although working for small screen productions has never been a small-scale composer, as in he produces epic sounding music that is more like a full-blown sore for a feature film rather than for an episodic series. In fact, his approach is remarkably similar to that of the young James Horner, who always composed large scale scores for films that did not have the budget for them. By doing this it often attracts attention thus also making audiences, filmmakers etc aware of the composer or at least being interested in finding out who they are. I suppose A Discovery of Witches cannot be called an epic work, but nevertheless it does have to it a haunting and attractive sound and style, the composer fashioning several themes and variations of those themes for central characters and scenarios that unfold within the series. As I keep saying TV music has come a long way in the past two decades, and its not all about a catchy theme anymore, there are far more important things such as the actual score working or becoming something that can be listened to away from the images, in fact TV scoring is now probably more high profile than feature film music, because of the current situation with this pandemic, many are turning more and more to the small screen or 265 inch screen in the corner with full cinema sound and Dolby surround for their filmic or cinematic fix. And why not, needs must as they say. Lane’s scores for this particular series are at times melodic but more often than not contain a tense and visceral persona, purveying at times a nervous atmosphere and darker moods.
But we do get glimpses of melodious and thematic passages that seem to rise from nowhere as in Separation brings the Witch-Rain, in which the composer deploys strings and organ giving the piece not just a richness but also adding to it a kind of celestial sound complete with voices and brass that bring it to its conclusion. This is a style that also manifests itself within the track Joined Together. Often there is a folk style retained throughout the series musically, with the composer employing solo violin etc to create a brooding but at the same time tuneful soundtrack. I recommend that you take a listen and maybe if you can re-visit the soundtracks from season one and two of the programme.
From Witches and various mystical goings on to, the new Netflix production Bridgerton, which has music by a composer who I know we will hear more from in the coming years, Kris Bowers. His work on projects such as Mrs America, Bad Hair, Dear White Peopleand When they see us, have already placed him firmly in the eye of collectors of TV and movie music around the world and he like fellow composers, Michael Abels, Jermaine Stegall and Jongnic Bontemps are paving the way to an exciting and new approach to scoring movies. Bridgerton, is a charming score filled with an abundance of themes and haunting musical pieces. There is obviously a style and sound that is automatically associated with the period in which this drama is set, but there is also an underlying style that is of a slightly more contemporary persuasion. The composer utilises strings, solo piano, and wistful woods to convey the atmosphere of the score, underlining and supporting every moment of the drama as it unfolds. This for me is a listening fest filled with gorgeous thematic material and inventive and haunting compositions, overflowing with romantically laced passages that enthral and mesmerise. I recommend you take a dip into the musical delights of Bridgerton. Staying with Netflix and another score from another series which they are airing, it seems that we will all soon be forsaking the cinema and the actual TV as in BBC and ITV to make Netflix our staple channel and others like it where we get our entertainment. Lupin is a French series, which is a more contemporary incarnation of Arsene Lupin, I have to admit to not catching up with it as yet, but the music by composer Mathieu Lamboley certainly makes me want to sit down and watch the series right here and now, the score is dark and mysterious but also has within it a romantic feel in places, this is an accomplished score as in sitting listening to it without images.
It’s a soundtrack that one finds intriguing and also when it ends one wants more of its darkness its brooding and fraught atmosphere etc, I have to admit to loving material such as this, ok I also love romantic and grandiose scores, but this is I suppose grand and affecting in a different way, the tension that the music purveys is phenomenal. However, its not all dark and tense as the score also includes a handful of lilting and wonderfully eloquent themes, driving strings that are laced with piano and what sounds like a cymbalom but I don’t think it is really catch ones attention especially in the cue Gentlemen, which for me evokes the style of both John Barry and Ennio Morricone, it has the smoky or steamy atmosphere as created by Barry when in spy mode and also the strings and female voice that could be Morricone, it’s a score that you will I know like and also one that you will, trust me return to on many occasions. Recommended.
Back to 2020 for the next releases and the soundtrack to the French Tv movie Avis De Tempete or Storm Warning, this crime thriller was aired back in the September of 2020 and contains music by actor and composer Fabien Cahen, the plot revolves around a terrible storm that hits land just as a ten-year-old boy goes missing, as one can imagine this is a rather tense affair, and the score reflects the films storyline supporting and underlining all aspects of it. It is a mix of both electronic and conventional instrumentation, with the synthetic having the upper hand or greater share of the work. Do not however let this put you off at least having a listen to the score as there are some great moments in which the composer expands and develops his thematic ideas, that include comedic sounding passages and a hint of romantically laced nuances etc, in many ways for me it evoked a style that maybe Phillipe Sarde employed in certain scores, as in it is varied and innovative. It has to it an almost jagged sound in places, but it’s not in any way harsh or grating, available on digital platforms, so it is certainly worth a listen through.
Cobra Kai is a Netflix series of thirty-two episodes that basically carries on where Karate Kid finished, with a middle-aged Daniel Russo coming u against his old rival from 1984 Johnny Lawrence. The score is great stuff, its upbeat filled with action led cues and has to it a Bill Conti vibe with symphonic and synthetic elements fusing together and creating a powerhouse of a score that is entertaining and addictive, plus there, are some beautiful rich Oriental influenced cues as in Return to Okinawa, that is emotive and affecting. Hats off to Netflix for the series and for the score by Leo Birenberg and Zach Robinson. Again, on Spotify etc, go check it out. Highly recommended.
La Stanza is an interesting score, and the movie too is thought provoking for a horror /mystery. The central character Stella decides that she is going to commit suicide, but on the morning, she decides this must be done a stranger calls on her telling her he has booked the guest room. She is not sure who he is but allows him into her home, as initially feels he knows her well and is comfortable with his company, But, when her ex, Sandro joins them at the house the situation which is already strange to say the least becomes more chaotic and perplexing. The music is very atmospheric and supportive of the story line, composer Giorgi Giampa relies upon sinewy strings, inventive percussion and half heard sounds to create a mood that is thick with nervous and tense atmospherics. Again, this is something I do like in a score, the composer inventing new sounds via instruments that we already know but take on another role and sound different when utilised in a different fashion. The orchestrations are accomplished, and the music is an integral part of the storyline, it is a commanding yet stressful listen because it builds and builds layers of raw taut energy at times reaching the point of what we think is no return, but then suddenly pulls back leaving the listener wanting more and breathless. Recommended whilst taking a listen why not check out more from the composer his score for Mi ChiamoMaya from 2015 is certainly worth checking out.
To Gerard is in a word charming, and that’s the animated short and the music composed for this Dream works film by Layla Minoui, the music is sweet, melancholy and totally absorbing. I would say that it evokes the style of Debney, Broughton and Giacchino, it has to it the qualities of Up, the melancholy of The Boy Who Could Fly and the thematic richness of anyone of Debney’s more family orientated movie scores. Ok its not a grandiose or powerful as in action themed score but it is an uplifting and rewarding listen. Why not give it a go, go on, do it To Gerard.
Alexander Bornstein is a composer I first discovered via his stunning music for First to the Moon, well he is back with a pulsating and no hold barred soundtrack to Anime series Transformers,War of Cybertron:Earthrise. This a non-stop fest of hard-edged action cues but saying that there are still good themes and inventive writing here. You can be certain of one thing when listening to this release you won’t get bored, it just gets better and better as it progresses, symphonic and electronics combine and fuse seamlessly to fashion driving and exciting compositions. Available on digital platforms.
Don’t forget also that the music for the latest Dr Who special Revolution of the Daleks which was screened on the BBC on New Year’s Day is now available, on digital sites and soon on compact disc via Silva Screen. Once again composer Segun Akinola has gifted us a resounding and totally absorbing musical score. This is a work that has to it an epic feel and style, many were sceptical about the choice of composer for the show, but I think I for one am convinced it was the right selection, and although I am a massive fan of Murray Gold, but Akinola has again acquitted himself admirably.
Other new releases in recent weeks include Fireball Xl5 from Silva screen and a handful of scores such as Rooster Cogburn by Laurence Rosenthal who is such an underatted composer. Also, Spanish label Quartet records have issued a handful of great releases,
A Bridge Too Far for example and an excellent re-recording of the score Endless Night by Bernard Herrmann. The vinyl market too expands it seems daily with labels such as Four Flies, Sonor, and others keeping up the high-quality releases, of soundtracks and other genres of music from Italy. The only problem these days is the vinyl releases are selling out fast and I mean in the blink of an eye, so it’s a good thing that some are also issued onto Compact Disc.
Sonor issued a trio of Alessandroni albums, one being the score for the erotic thriller La Professoressa di ScienzeNaturali (1976) which contains some haunting lounge sounding cues and also a handful of jazz flavoured compositions, it’s a score I recommend as it is typical of the sound and style of Italian and French film music from that period.
Ennio Morricone’s I Due Evasi Di Sing Sing, also gets a release and is most welcome and surprisingly is on Spotify too.
On the subject of Morricone and digital platforms a number of his scores have appeared on these sites, which have not been available before now for streaming, Correva di anno di Grazie 1870 from 1972, L’Automobile and 1943 Una, both from 1971 for example.
And there is also an expanded (20 tracks) Incontro there to enjoy, I think this is one of the composers most attractive and haunting soundtracks and have loved it since buying the CAM records 9 track LP and subsequent CD release many years ago. I also notice that at last The Sicilian Clan has been added to Spotify, (its about time) sadly no extras on this one, as I think that this is really the entire score that runs over eleven cues, as each incarnation of the soundtrack whether it be LP or CD and now streaming/digital is the same content.
I have to say that I do enjoy the more obscure releases that Italian labels put out and am liking several releases of the music of composer Giuliano Sorgini, one such recording is the composers atmospheric score for the 1975 occult horror, Un Urlo Dalle Tenebre, which is filled with unsettling sounds and gruesome effects including some affecting vocals from Edda dell Orso. This is only on vinyl at the moment and is in many ways like the score The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, but in my opinion is a more enjoyable work. Having more actual thematic music as opposed to effects and chilling screams and whispers.
Certainly, one to add to the collection if you can get a copy that is. Also check out Alberto Baldan Bembo’s score for the 1975 movie La Amica di mia Madre which is brilliant, this is an LP release but is also available on digital platforms such as Spotify. It is overflowing with lilting and effecting compositions that have to them a jazz and easy listening style and are also influenced by Brazilian and other South American musical flavours such as sambas, that are laced with strikingly delicious disco strings and tropical sounding passages. It’s a score that one listens to and then straight away returns to, a must have.
There were a series of animated shorts on over Christmas on the BBC, Zog, went on various adventures and these included a handful of characters that he met along the way as it were. The music for every one of these animated adventures was courtesy of composer Rene Aubry, who wrote some charming music to accompany the friendly dragon in these films. The composer also scored The Highway Rat which was also aired over the Christmas fortnight. Most of the films in the series were about 30 mins in duration but the music was almost continuous and it certainly worth a listen.
So, from new releases to something a little more seasoned. Cast your minds back to the 1960.s that was such a great decade for movies and film music, but it was also a great time for music in general. The score I am going to talk about has as far as I am aware not been given an official compact disc release, the music was issued on a Stateside LP record in the UK and the ABC label in the United States.
It is a score and a movie that I have always felt has been undervalued. There was a bootleg compact disc which was released in Germany during the late 1990’s but it was among a few titles that were welcomed but also not given the coverage because of their dubious legitimacy. Custer of the West (1967) was issued on compact disc on the Gema recording label and paired with another western score El Dorado by Nelson Riddle. Brazilian born composer Bernardo Segall wrote a quite complex score in places and the battle scene in-particular is a shining example of movie music from this decade. The composer also integrated songs and more traditional sounding western film music into his score, including a rousing march.
It’s a score that I have always admired and the art-work for the LP cover is stunning. It is also an LP I have still to this day and will never part with. The film too I thought was good, however saying that I have not seen it for a while, Robert Shaw portrayed Custer and I know at times his performance was a little OTT, but other than that I enjoyed the movie and the battle at the end of the film was done well. The music does contain a lot of action material, but the composer also scores the end scene of the movie with sensitivity employing a melancholy sounding solo piano as the camera pans across the field of battle to show the audience the 7th cavalry massacred a lone horse standing amongst them. Performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Segall, this is a brassy and string led affair with support from percussion and timpani that emphasize the martial leaning of the work.
I think an official release onto compact disc of this soundtrack is way overdue, and yes, I do realise that it is a short score, but I am sure that the tapes still exist and there could be extra’s available, who knows? The battle music has a duration of just over three minutes and is I have to say well suited to the scenes on screen. Driving strings are embellished by horns and other brass which together create a powerful piece. Segall worked only on a handful of films and TV projects, these included The Fisherman and his Soul, The Jesus Trip, Moon of the Wolf, aswell scoring episodes of Columbo ie: Identity Crisis in 1975which starred Patrick McGoohan and Airwolf for American TV. He was not only a talented composer but a highly respected and gifted concert pianist.
Back to more recent releases now, well about 20 years ago plus in fact and to a film which was fairly-popular but did not break the box office in any way. It is my opinion that one of the best versions of the Cinderella story or at least elements of it, was the movie Ever After (1998). Directed by Andy Tennant, it was certainly different from most other incarnations of the tale and had a slightly more believable atmosphere to it. I think it is an enchanting and a down to earth slant on the story, and I for one love the way it is photographed and scripted, it also had some amazing costume design and a wonderfully subtle and alluring score by British composer George Fenton. The composer’s music gave the movie so much depth and emotion, it added comedic and romantic moods and had to it a regal and luxurious quality. The central theme or love theme itself is a touching and delicate piece, the simple but affecting composition purveys fragility and a real sense of melancholy, yet it remains hopeful that true love will finally shine through.
Fenton also wove into his score music that was suitably captivating and fragile with a deep emotional and delicate persona, the ever so light and beautiful central theme acting as a foundation for the score, the composer presenting it in various guises and giving it a freshness and vitality via his re-working of orchestration throughout and in turn building the remainder of his work upon it. It was written at a time when Fenton was a much in demand talent within the world of film music, and it seemed that one would see a new score by the composer almost every week. A traditional symphonic work, that boasted romantic strings and adventurous sounding brass, with proud and vibrant thematic qualities, that add colour and texture to the storyline in a similar way that an artist adds colour to a blank canvas. It is a heartrending and heart-warming tale with Fenton’s music mirroring and enhancing the emotions that are displayed within the movie’s storyline.
The film is literally awash with a musical excellence and overflows with a rich and rapturous score that ingratiates and supports every frame and scene. In short this is one of Fenton’s most accomplished scores for film. Amidst its romanticism, drama, and grand musical persona there is a poignant and emotive work present. The composer’s sensitivity for the subject matter created so much romantic atmosphere especially within the scenes between Danielle/Nicole/Cinderella (Drew Barrymore) and Prince Henry (Dougray Scott) which were made even more tender and convincing by the composers delightfully subtle and impassioned soundtrack. This is a must have for your collection.
So now we head back to the current releases, and again TV features large, The Serpent is something that is essential viewing, and the musical score by composer Dominik Scherrer is as outstanding as the production itself. A mostly synthetic work as in electronic, but it does contain a scattering of conventional instrumentation, although it is largely action paced and a brooding sounding score in places it remains thematic rather than just an underlying soundscape, the composers score works superbly with the tense plot that is unfolding on screen, the score is an important and also an integral part of the production as without the score I am of the opinion that the tension would have been lessened, the music heightens and elevates each scene and also underlines, gives depth and adds an ethnic setting as well as supporting the proceedings. Take a listen to track number ten, Searching Apartment 504, its tension personified, with organ and supporting strings that ooze nervous and affecting layers, and also track number eleven, Homicidal Umbermensch, with its heart-beat tempo that increases as the remainder of the instrumentation is added.
This is. a clever score and certainly innovative and inventive but there again so was the composers work on Ripper Street a few years back.Even though one is aware that there is music there whilst watching the production it is not to the point that the music either distracts or overwhelms the action and storyline. I enjoyed listening to the score away from the film and I am certain you will also. Catch the series too, it is riveting.
I end with two compilations, the first is The Music of Gerald Fried Volume 1, which comprises of two scores by the composer and released by the ever-industrious Dragons Domain records, both scores are from the 1970’s. Cruise into Terror is from the 1978 TV production and Survive is taken from the Mexican feature film released two years earlier. Which was revisited a few years later and filmed again being released as Alive.
Both scores are somewhat typical of the style that the composer employs, both are interesting and worthy additions to any soundtrack collection. In fact, I would go as far as to say that maybe your collection would be rather lacking without these two little gems.
The second compilation is again a Dragons Domain release, The Golden Age of Science Fiction Volume 1, for me is probably more interesting than the Fried compilation, because it includes music by Leith Stevens in the form of his score for the 1956 movie World Without End and from 1958 The Queen of Outer Space with a score by Marlin Skiles. I must admit to only hearing one other score by the latter composer which is from The Shepherd of the Hills (1964). So, it’s good to have another score from this composer in my collection. As we all know Dragons Domain releases are always well done and these two latest additions to their growing catalogue are no exception,
I would also like to recommend The Sorceress, another release from Dragons Domain, this time digital only. The movie is a low budget horror from 1995, directed by Jim Wynorski and starring amongst others Linda Blair. The atmospheric soundtrack which at times throws a nod of acknowledgement to the style of Ennio Morricone and Bernard Herrmann is the work of the incredibly talented composer and filmmaker Chuck Cirino who enlists the ominous sound of a meandering piano solo and female wordless vocals throughout his haunting soundtrack and all I will say is please check the score out. Again recommended. See you next time.
FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC FROM AROUND THE WORLD. WITH MOVIE REVIEWS AND NEWS FROM ALL OVER THE GLOBE.