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THE ADVENTURE FILM WORLD OF GUIDO AND MAURIZIO DE ANGELIS.

For this article I am taking you back to 1993, and to a release that I feel was an important one for collectors of Italian film music. It was also a landmark release for a new label as it was their first time in the production market. The CD release was The Adventure Film World of Guido and Maurizio De Angelis and the label was what we now know as Hillside, this release being issued under Soundtrack Deletions, which was Lionel G Woodman and Hexachord records which was the label of Roberto Zamori. It was an important release because the music for Keoma-The Violent Breed which is basically the headline act on the CD had never been released before. And at this time the thirst for spaghetti western soundtracks was still rife, I think it still is but there again has the interest and the popularity of the genre and its music ever faltered, No. When the CD was released I had already experienced a number of the De Angelis brothers soundtracks, the majority of which were very different from what also had come out of Italy as in film music.

They invented their own unique musical sound for all types of movies and the western with the soundtracks for They Still Call Me Trinity, Mannaja, Valdez Horses, Man from the East etc, and also excelled in writing quirky compositions for the comedy films that featured Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, I also had savoured their music in other genres of movies like Afyon Oppio, Torso, Violent Rome, The Violent Professionals, and so many others. I think it is They Still Call Me Trinity that I remember the best, but their Keoma score stuck with me for many a year and I think this was due mainly to the unique vocals on the score.

So, to have the music on CD at last was a gift a treasure and as well as Keoma the CD contained music from three other movies that De Angelis had scored, none of which had been released at that time, I am sure. The remastering of all four soundtracks was the work of Professor Roberto Zamori, a giant in Italian film music and a man whose passion for music drove him to preserve and keep safe the wonderful film score heritage of Italy, never once allowing himself to take priority over the music and also never taking credit for what he was doing. A humble man and an accomplished professor of music Roberto was a driving force in Italy concerning film music,

ROBERTO WITH EDDA.

I say was because we sadly lost him earlier this year. He will be forever missed by all who knew him personally and professionally.  His passing has left a void in the music business as there is literally nobody to step into his shoes, although there are a few who think they can, but let us make it quite clear Roberto was a one off, his work being polished and flawless, and cannot in any way be compared with the pretenders of today who give themselves fancy titles for doing nothing.

IN FRONT OF MY DESPERATION.

The CD contained 25 tracks, 9 of which came from Keoma, and included two vocal performances In Front of my Desperation sung by Guy, and the title song Keoma performed by Sybil and Guy, the latter being an alias for Guido De Angelis. The music was by De Angelis with the lyrics penned by Susan Duncan Smith and Cesare De Natale, in the movie the songs and their innovative performances played a large part of the story telling with the performances acting like a Greek tragedy telling the story as it unfolds.

DUSTY BANJO

The remainder of the tracks were made up of instrumental versions of both vocals and a saloon sounding cue Piano and Bier, plus a particularly catchy piece Dusty Banjo. Like so many of the composing duo’s scores for westerns Keoma contained a folk like style which they enhanced and bolstered with symphonic flourishes and their own brand of country and western. The movie itself was met with mixed reviews but overall true fans of the genre saw it as a worthy addition to the collection. It is probably one of the most absorbing spaghetti westerns ever produced. Directed by Enzo G Castellari and starred Franco Nero. It is a movie that deals with many issues, civil rights for example, racism, a ranting witch and inter family fighting which pits brother against brother. The director was known to be a fan of Sam Peckinpah and tried to emulate the filmmaker in his own directorial outings as is displayed in the likes of Keoma with the use of slow-motion sequences when gunfights take place.

There are also references to the bible with the hero portrayed as a Christ-like figure crucified on a wheel, and a symbolic conclusion which warns of fascism. So more than just a western but saying that most Italian westerns had an underlying message and referred to particular political leanings or beliefs of the director, which most audiences did not pick up on.  The next section of the CD is dedicated to Il Cacciatore Di Squali (Shark Hunter), which opens with a gentle but upbeat vocal performance by Sharks, (which is a pseudonym for Guido and Maurizio). It’s a pleasant opening that take a while to get going but eventually does and is a rewarding listen, with a nice saxophone solo mid-way through, that the composers underline with a more pronounced percussive backing, that builds to create an infectious foot tapping cue. The remainder of the selection is typical sounding De Angelis, pop orientated and up tempo, which in some ways is like their work on the Dogtanian animated series and Around the World with Willy Fog, so light and melodic haunting and easy listening slanted.

There are 6 cues from the score included on the release and these purvey drama, romance, and have at times a Hispanic flavour to them. The movie was helmed by Castellari and released in 1979, again it starred Franco Nero, the movies focus is upon Mike (Nero) a shark hunter a mysterious man whose past nobody knows anything about, not even his woman Juanita. An expert diver named Acapulco arrives who immediately befriends him, but has an ulterior motif because Mike is the only one who knows the position of a plane that sank with a hundred million dollars and soon the hunt is on, but this time it is not sharks that will be hunted. A fairly run of the mill adventure with De Angelis music supporting and underlining the drama.

AMERICA. (INST)

The next selection is 5 tracks from Arrivano I Vostri, which is a documentary about western movies directed by Isobel Bruno. The score is delightful and has so many themes as well as a great vocal America, performed by Guido and Maurizio.

The last section is 5 tracks from Il Grande Oceano di Captain Cook which was a 1987 movie directed by Gianfranco Bernabai, the music is varied and uplifting, and contains some emotive and poignant melodies, as well as two vocals performed by The Trappers. This is an interesting and also an important release, which is sadly now long out of print and rare indeed. Maybe a re-issue will come along soon, but if it does, please do not forget the sterling work that Roberto Zamori did for this wonderful collection of music from Guido and Maurizio De Angelis. And if it should say remastered by any one else, question it.

TALKING TO COMPOSER HESHAM NAZIH.

Hesham Nazih is an Egyptian composer best known for his distinguished style that interweaves authentic melodies with contemporary music. Nazih has built a 20+ year artistic career and has under his belt more than 40 award-winning soundtracks of blockbuster films that dominated the Egyptian box-office and achieved critical acclaim such as Snakes and Ladders, Ibrahim Labyad, The Blue Elephant I and II, Sons of Rizk I and II, and The Treasure I and II. His TV hits include Friendly Fire, The Seven Commandments, The Covenant, and Shahid’s Every Week Has A Friday.

In addition to an impressive repertoire, Hesham has also received a plethora of “Best Music” awards for many of his works. And in November of 2021, he was honoured by the prestigious Arab Music Festival in its 30th edition in recognition of his musical career and for the excellent work he did composing the accompanying music for The Pharaohs’ Golden Parade.

Thank you so much for agreeing to answer my questions, I would like to begin by asking you how you became involved on Moon Knight?

My pleasure. Thank you for having me! Well long story short… one day out of the blue, I received an email from Marvel asking for my demo reel, and they were specific about the kind of music they wanted to listen to. I had no idea it was for Moon Knight at the time. Few weeks (and zoom meetings!) later, I flew to Budapest to meet with the team and of course Mohamed Diab who I realized was the one who recommended me to Marvel in the first place. We had never worked together before, never even met. Connecting the dots together, I think he made that recommendation after listening to the music I wrote for the Pharaohs’ Golden parade, a grand spectacle that saw 22 ancient mummies paraded through the streets of Cairo from the historic Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to their new resting place at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. It was live streamed and watched by millions all over the world. That was about a week before I received the email!

You have worked on many movies that were produced outside of the USA, in your native Egypt. How does the scoring and recording process differ if indeed it does compared to the system in the United States?

The scoring process was only different in the sense of that it’s an entirely different system and workflow. But ultimately, whether in Egypt or the USA or anywhere in the world… we all have the same goal… to create those unforgettable moments on screen for the audiences.

The recording was incredible for so many reasons, Egyptian instruments, vocals, and chanters were recorded in Cairo, orchestra and choir were recorded in Vienna, mix was done in Los Angeles! Orchestrators were in London and Prague! So yeah, it was a collaboration of absolutely amazing talents from almost half of the globe.

Did the producers on Moon Knight have any specific ideas about which direction the music should be going and what style it should follow and was there a temp track installed on the movie?

They were specific about key points like the importance of having main themes for the main characters, also the authenticity of the Egyptian side of the score and things like that but I was really given full liberty to play and weave the score freely, and yes, there was a temp track installed on the scenes.

The score for Moon Knight is incredibly thematic, how much music did you write for the series, and did you score the episodes in the order that they were to be screened?

I don’t really know how much music exactly, but it was full! I mean episodes were almost wall to wall full of music, but that’s the nature of the show, and yes, I scored it in the order they were screened.

What size orchestra did you have for the project and what percentage of the score is realized via samples or electronic elements?

About 80 piece, the whole score was recorded! I used synths and electronic elements for rhythms, textures, effects, pads and so…

Did you conduct the score or is it better for you to supervise the session from the recording booth?

The score was conducted by the brilliant Gottfried Rabl and Bernhard Melbye Voss. I supervised the sessions through Zoom!

How much time did you have to write and record the score for Moon Knight.

About 8 months!

The central theme is so robust, and action led but also filled with a lush and lavish melody, do you think that it is important for a TV series especially, to have a theme that the audience will recognize and one that grabs their attention?

I don’t think it would matter if it’s for TV or the big screen… I believe it depends on the nature of the narrative, Moon Knight was one of the shows that demanded a thematic and melodic score.

There are many ethnic instruments within the score, can you tell us which Egyptian instruments you utilized?

The Rababa, Arghul, Ney, and Mizmar among others. Those specific instruments are ancient yet still used to this day in Egypt. You’ll find them engraved on the walls of the temples and you’ll hear them in modern Egyptian music today. And that’s amazing to me. Their timbres and characteristics make them uniquely Egyptian. And on top of that, they blend perfectly well with the orchestra. That’s why I chose them.

Do you orchestrate all your music for film and TV, or is this something that depends upon schedules etc?

It depends on the schedules for sure. In Moon Knight I had the chance to work with Adam klemens, Leigh Phillips and Nicholas Dodd, they we are all really amazing!!

The use of voices within the score is certainly effective and adds a menacing and foreboding persona at times, what size was the choir that you utilized and who provided the solo voice on cues such as Summon the Suit and Chaos Within?

The choir was about 32 in number and the solo female vocalist was Delaram Kamareh and the male Egyptian soloist was Sayed Emam.

In 2015 you scored Sons of Rizk, which was an Egyptian production. When you are writing the score for a project how many times do you like to see it before you begin to get ideas about what style of music the movie needs or where music should be placed to best serve the film, and how do you work out your musical ideas, via keyboard or by using a more tech way?

I like to watch the film many times, I like to memorize every bit of it before starting on writing, this helps me think of it as a whole, I like to recall it all as a summoned moment in my head, then at this moment I’d be ready to write… I use my keyboard most of the time to sketch my ideas but sometimes when I’m away of it I use whatever in hand, write on a piece of paper or even hum on my phone voice note app…

Can you tell us what is next for you if you are allowed to talk about it that is?

I’m still processing what happened. I don’t know what’s next! But I hope it’ll be even more challenging and fun!

THE EXORCISM OF GOD.

I have to say from the outset I know very little about the movie The Exorcism of God, apart from what I gleamed from a few clips and the trailers that have been circulating plus reading up on the film as well. From what I have seen I think that this is an impressive Exorcism movie, if impressive is the correct way to describe an Exorcism movie that is. But it is more than just a film about an Exorcism, as the storyline touches on many other factors and explores the feelings and conscious of the central character.

The special effects seem to be well done and one sequence involving a possessed woman I thought was brilliantly done. Apart from this I have very little info, but I will I know be watching it asap. The plot is as follows, Father Peter Williams portrayed by Will Beinbrink is an American exorcist, who was possessed by the demon Balban who he was trying to expel from a young woman and for which he is forced, against his will, to commit the most terrible sacrilege. Eighteen years later he is still trying to keep his guilt buried by doing charity work for the poor and helping the children in a small town in Mexico.

Peter discovers that the demon has returned this time it has possessed a young woman named Esperanza (Maria Gabriela di Faria), and in addition to this it unleashes a deadly illness among the town’s children. But the demon’s true ambition is to possess Peter’s soul. To exorcise Esperanza, Peter must confess his sin, but if he does this, he knows that he will condemn himself not only to a fate of excommunication, but also to sacrifice his faith, his home, his soul, and the chance to save the people he cares about most.

The cast also includes the excellent Joseph Marcel as Father Michael Lewis, who attempts to help Peter. What I have been impressed with is the films musical score, which is the work of two composers Elik Alvarez and Yoncarlos Medina. The music as one would expect is dark, foreboding and at times creates an uncomfortable mood, it has a brooding, malevolent, and chilling aura about it, which is unpredictable and unsettling, the composer’s utilizing both symphonic, choral, and electronic means to bring this to fruition.  There is also a haunting guitar solo in the tracks You are a Saint and the introduction of the cue Resurrection, which offer brief moments of respite within the score add to these moments that express highly spiritual and emotional auras that are conveyed by cello or solo violin, which establish a lighter side to the mostly dark and forbidding soundtrack.  It is a well-structured and accomplished work that contains rich thematic material that is impressive and at the same time unnerving to listen to just as music. The score is not only powerful but also has to it a beguiling and attractive style, the composers layering tense and nervous nuances to build an atmosphere that is overflowing with heart bursting moments of terror and chaos, but also containing colours and textures that are emotive and poignant.

It seems as if the music is drawing one into the plot and I cannot wait to see how this score works with the movie itself. The soundtrack will be released digitally via Movie Score Media on April 1st and is most certainly worth checking out.  

SATURNALIA.

A cave-girl from outer space wreaks havoc after she is brought to life by a top-secret super-weapon that transforms drawings into real people. This is the plot behind the movie Saturnalia.

Directed by Joshua Kennedy, who also stars in the film, this fantasy movie that is just a bit of fun but that’s something we all need these days I think. The music is by the ever-industrious Reber Clark and again he has produced a soundtrack that is quite stunning. It is a little different from his other scores but this I think shows how adaptable and how talented he is as a composer of music for film.

On listening to the score, I was reminded a little of the styles of Lalo Schifrin and Jerry Goldsmith, but there are also themes and musical passages that are evocative of Bernard Herrmann present as well as a kind of 1960’s vibe that shines through and establishes itself in the opening vocal, which I have to say had a certain Don Ellis Moon Zero Two beat to it. It’s a soundtrack that I think caters for just about everyone, drama and also action cues are served up in abundance but there are comedic and romantic sounding cues mixed in along the way. Above all it’s an entertaining listen, every track being lively and filled with energy.

One minute the style is rock led then in comes a smoother more sophisticated atmosphere but also, we get a big band sound vibe, and this is combined with full on drama, that at times takes one back to the 1950’s B movies era, so things never get boring because the score is relentless and robust.

We are treated to some great disco and funky cues complete with retro sounding organ and electric guitars that were it seems used in every movie during the 1970’s.

There is even a little nod in there to John Barry, amazing music. It’s a wonderful score and one that I know you will love. Check it out on Bandcamp, or why not buy the CD direct from the composer.

https://reberclark.bandcamp.com/album/saturnalia-original-soundtrack

NOTRE DAME BRULE. (NOTRE DAME ON FIRE).

A new movie which will be released on March 16th 2022 is, NOTRE-DAME ON FIRE, which offers a blow-by-blow recreation of the gripping and devastating events that took place on April 15, 2019, when the famous cathedral suffered the biggest blaze in its history. The film retraces how heroic men and women put their lives at risk to accomplish an awe-inspiring rescue. The movie which contains a totally absorbing story, which focuses upon the courageous firefighters who tackled the destructive inferno. The idea behind the film was to recreate the events of April 15th, and to do this the filmmakers used archive footage taken that was shot by bystanders and professionals on the night of the fire, to which they have added images that no one was able to film as the tragedy unfolded, shot in huge sets which have been built in scale replica of the magnificent Cathedral. The film, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, is intended for large screens around the world equipped with state-of-the-art image and sound technology such as Imax etc. Which is the only way to do this riveting and emotive movie justice. The musical score is by composer Simon Franglen who is a British born composer of film and classical music, and a former record producer and musician and has worked alongside the likes of the late James Horner and Thomas Newman in film scoring.

His music for Notre Dame on Fire is just as spectacular and emotive as the movie itself, lending its considerable dramatic, melodic, and powerful sound to the images on screen.

The score at times is action led, with gripping and foreboding textures, and colours underlining and punctuating the scenes that are unfolding before the watching audience. However, there is also a highly melodious content to the score, the composer creating a deep and fixating spiritual atmosphere utilising symphonic instrumentation alongside choir and synthetic/electronic support to create a haunting and inspiring sound.

Jean-Jacques Annaud.

It is a score that one could refer to as being an edge of the seat listen, it is tense and fraught in places with the composer employing percussive elements and brass flourishes along the way to create a sense of desperation and disbelief. But its lighter or richer, and melodic side brings forth superbly glorious thematic material that is affecting, resounding and totally captivating.

The combination of strings, choir and brass is wonderfully effective, and evokes the style of James Horner and also reminded me of the sound that composer Mark McKenzie creates at times. It has a poignant but at the same time awesomely stirring musical persona. This is a score that you must add to your collection, it is stunning and highly recommended. The soundtrack is coming soon on Milan/Sony.   

Simon Franglen.