Tag Archives: Bear McCreary

BLUMHOUSE’S FANTASY ISLAND.

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“The Plane the Plane”. Yep immortal words spoken by actor Herve Villechaize as the character Tatoo, in the long running and popular TV series FANTASY ISLAND, a pretty harmless series if I remember rightly, but I did not think it was that good, just another Mystery Movie type show. Well, the big screen version has arrived and has obviously been updated and given a contemporary feel, which normally means its nothing like the original and is probably filled with horror and harrowing scenes. Why they can’t just re make something and try and leave the storyline intact I do not know, but in the case of FANTASY ISLAND why re-make it full stop. Not going to even see this one, I have seen snippets and that is enough for me, The music is by Bear McCreary, a composer who does not seemed to have stopped for breath since his scores for THE WALKING DEAD became so popular, since those early TWD days the composer has worked on numerous TV series and also movies for both the cinema and television. Its lke every movie had his name on the credits, the thing I worry about is the composer being used so much that his creativeness evaporates after a while. However saying that I do not think McCreary has run out of steam in either the quantity or the quality departments, His score for BLUMHOUSE’S FANTASY ISLAND, is not I think going to win any Oscars, it is as far as I can hear a pretty standard horror romp score choral sounds, mysterious and edgy passages that are low key one moment and the next without warning erupt into pandemonium and chaos, you know screaming strings, pounding percussion, icy and sinewy sounds that send tingles down the spine and low throbbing effects that convince the listener they are being watched or worse, hissing strings too raise their foreboding head and are driven along by urgent percussive elements throughout, underlined by tense and apprehensive strings. The composer even incorporates electric rock sounding guitar into the proceedings to heighten the mood and give the film a grand and unrelenting sense of dread. So is it good, well I suppose it’s a horror score, so we are not going to get pretty lilting thematic tracks all the way through are we, however, saying that there is a more melodious cue in the form of THE LIFE YOU WANTED in which the composer employs a subtle piano solo, which is enhanced by strings in a kind of adagio, after listening to the recording a couple of times, one can hear the thematic content even if it is somewhat hidden under a plethora of action and atonal sounding material. But this is Bear McCreary, we know this wont be conventional, will it? I am going to say you should at least give it a chance, see what you think, it might just be your cup of nerve jangling, raw and jagged sounding tea.

THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN.

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Composer, Bear McCreary, never ceases to amaze me. With each scoring assignment he seems able to re-invent and alter his musical style and sound, which I suppose is the whole idea of writing for film, because each new project is different. I have always been impressed by his work and I do realise many people associate him with THE WALKING DEAD television series, but there is so much more that this composer has. However, saying that the scores for WALKING DEAD were and are still wonderfully atmospheric and even grandiose at times far outstripping the actual quality of the series they are intended to enhance. And as one of his most anticipated scores for the new GODZILLA movie looms in the wings, we are spoiled and treated by his soundtrack to THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, this is a highly atmospheric and mood laden work, with the composer creating beautiful but at the same time slightly unnerving melodies, that are interesting and haunting. McCreary has fashioned a eloquent and at key points mesmerizing sounding work, the composer utilising the string section and also solo performances from that section to purvey a lush and lavish rich musical persona, that is tinged with apprehension and a sombre mood. For me personally this is probably one of McCreary’s most accomplished and musically, mature works and also is one which I have no reservations on when it comes to recommending it to fellow soundtrack fans and connoisseurs. The mournful or melancholy cello performances are a highlight and these alone are capable of creating a richness and darkly romantic sound on their own, but there is more as they say, the composers obvious talent for inventive writing is too present and he works his innovative magic in many of the cues to bring forth a sad, solitary and a lilting style, that is immediately attractive. The alluring tone poems which McCreary has formed although subdued are totally absorbing and affecting, as are the darker and more threatening pieces, with the composer for the majority of the score maintaining a low key and minimalistic approach, being economical with the score. The cue FINDING THE PAMPHLET for example (track number-7), begins in a somewhat menacing way, with strings creating a tormented and agitated introduction, but this soon fades and gives way to plaintive woods which are supported by subdued and understated strings which give a foundation to the woodwind. This then segues into a lighter sounding mood again created by the fusion of rich cello and woodwinds which are also enhanced and given a slight but luxurious string accompaniment. Track number 8, THE SNOWBALL FIGHT is a delight to hear, with the composer again turning to the string section to purvey, richness and melancholy. This is a score that I returned to a few times before writing this review as it has so many musical faces and personas it is at times hard to take in that all the music comes from one score.

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There is also a beautiful vocal on the score, WHEN I AM DEAD is presented in two version, firstly the piece that we hear in the movies and then at the end of the recording in a slightly edited version on both performances the vocal is by, Melanie Henley Heyn. All together this a rewarding and enriching listen. Recommended.

BEAR McCREARY.

 

Composer Bear McCreary is known mainly for his work on popular TV series such as the re boot of BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA, OUTLANDER and of course THE WALKING DEAD. His music is innovative and original with the composer often fusing electronic elements with that of a more conventional symphonic line up to fashion and create surprising and positive results. His music for the show THE WALKING DEAD has become an important and highly integral component of the long running series, and it is true to say that THE WALKING DEAD without the music of McCreary would definitely not be the same. Right from the start, the score begins to conjure up an atmosphere and mood that is to say the least unsettling, as soon as one hears those opening bars of the central theme, a sense of tension, danger and chaos, begins to manifest itself. McCreary’s driving and mesmerising strings drawing the viewer into an uncertain and foreboding world filled with walkers and other even more virulent individuals who delight in causing pain and distress. The main titles theme actually begins to play before any titles appear on screen, so McCreary’s repeating sinewy motif for strings announces that an episode is about to start, thus the viewer is hooked even before any images appear.

 


Given the gory and violent subject matter of THE WALKING DEAD one would not think that the composer would not have any time for romantic or soft toned themes, but there is within the scores for the series a number of haunting and beautiful tone poems, these although few and far between certainly make their presence felt at key points within the series, at times the composer utilising a softer approach to underline a moment of violence, so that when it happens it is even more shocking and impacting upon watching audiences, simply because subconsciously they are not expecting it, the music has not pre-warned them, but just the opposite has lulled them into a false sense of security. The less atonal action cues are also used to great effect within the series to highlight the desperation and the isolation of certain characters, as in the melancholy infused cue, SOPHIA, which although superbly rich and lush is also tinged with traces of apprehension and nervous tension.

 

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McCreary’s music is superbly orchestrated throughout the series, sometimes the composer introducing instruments or sounds that would not ordinarily be combined in conventional scoring, but when he merges them they seem to fuse with consummate ease. The composer’s musical talent and prowess shines through on each outing, with both symphonic and electronic elements intertwining to create powerful and memorable musical statements and moments, which not only underline, punctuate and support the action, drama and desperation, but also can stand alone away from the images and scenarios as just music to be listened to.

 

There are also several scenes and sequences within the series that are un-scored, where there is no music, and this too is a sign of a talented composer. Knowing when not to swamp a scene in music is just as important as supporting it with a score, thus allowing the images, action or dialogue to create the drama and impact. McCreary, is not only talented and innovative, but is a composer that for me constantly experiments with sounds and instrumentation, whilst at the same time re-invents his style and sound, which means he remains fresh and original.

 

 

Bear McCreary, was born in Fort Lauderdale Florida, on February 17th, 1979. His Mother Laura Kalpakian, is an accomplished author and his Father Jay McCreary, is a professor based at the University of Hawaii. The composers Brother Brendan is also involved in music and they often collaborate, and in the early days Bear often directed and produced videos of Brendan’s band Young Beautiful in a Hurry. Bear graduated from Bellingham High School in 1997, and then went on to study music at Thornton School of Music and The University of Southern California, gaining a degree in composition and recording arts. He is a classically trained pianist and taught himself to play other instruments such as the Accordion. McCreary studied under the iconic film music composer Elmer Bernstein, and at times one can hear certain nuances and phrases that evoke the great composers style and works. It was McCreary who worked with Bernstein on the re-construction and reworking of the orchestration for the 1963 film score KINGS OF THE SUN, the fruits of their labours allowing the full score to be released on a recording for the first time in forty years, much to the delight of hundreds of devoted Bernstein fans.

MONTAGE

In 2003 the composer worked under the guidance of composer Richard Gibbs on the reboot of BATTLESTAR GALLATICA for TV, the three hour mini series acted as a pilot for a planned series and when the show was selected for screening composer Gibbs found that he could not dedicate his full attention to scoring it, it was at this point that McCreary was asked to become the composer on the series. McCreary stayed with the series for six years scoring over 70 episodes, his music is featured on six soundtrack albums that were released by LA LA LAND records, which have received much critical acclaim and are held in high regard by fans of the composer and series, in fact the soundtracks for seasons 2 and 3 of the series attained the title of top selling soundtracks in Amazons top 30 music sales on their first days of release. The composer also provided the score for CAPRICA, a prequel spin off from the Battlestar Gallactica series.

McCreary, has worked on numerous TV series, these include THE CAPE, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. and HUMAN TARGET, the latter going down in history for having the largest orchestra ever utilised for a television score, and it was for his work on this series that garnered the composer his first Emmy nomination, however when the series was aired new in 2010 the producers did not ask him to return as composer. It was also in 2010 that the composer made his feature film score debut on STEP UP 3D, since then he has scored movies such as KNIGHTS OF BADDASSOM, THE BOY, COLOSSAL, REBEL IN THE RYE, EVERLY, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE and HAPPY DEATH DAY, as well as working on a handful of direct to video/DVD features which include, WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END, REST STOP and REST STOP: DON’T LOOK BACK.

 

His most recent movie scoring assignment is THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX which contains an epic sounding score for full orchestra. Whichever way you look at it, the music of Bear McCreary has made an impact upon the world of TV and Cinema, whether it be via his threatening and uneasy themes for THE WALKING DEAD or his powerful music for THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX or indeed his Barry-esque, poignant and melodic work on REBEL IN THE RYE, McCreary is HEAR to stay. Which is something I am rather pleased about.

 

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BEAR MCCREARY’S EMMY NOMINATION.

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BEAR MCCREARY’S BEST WEEK EVER!Nominated for Second Emmy for DA VINCI’S DEMONS Main Title Theme

Named Composer of MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Comic Con Appearances Including Performance of BLACK SAILS and Appearances on Three Panels

(July 29, 2013 – Culver City, CA) The week of July 15th may be Bear McCreary’s best week ever as a composer.  The week began with

the announcement that he would be performing at Comic Con as part of the sneak preview screening of BLACK SAILS, his second television series with STARZ, set to launch January 2014.  Later that day Entertainment Weekly revealed that McCreary is the composer on the highly anticipated ABC TV series MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. And on that Thursday it was announced that McCreary earned his second Emmy nomination for the DA VINCI’S DEMONS Main Title.”Collaborating with David S. Goyer and composing music for DA VINCI’S DEMONSwas a richly rewarding experience that forced me to rethink my creative process on a fundamental level,” said McCreary  “I am very proud of the work we created, and honored to be recognized in the main title category, alongside some of the best composers writing today.”

McCreary’s sweeping orchestral score for DA VINCI’S DEMONS was meticulously researched to accurately represent the time period, without being bound to it.  His score combines full orchestra, Renaissance instrumentation, choir and ethnic soloists with the renowned Calder Quartet and surging contemporary synthesis.

“For DA VINCI’S DEMONS, I looked to the real-life Leonardo for inspiration.  He famously wrote backwards and forwards, so I decided to do (try) the same thing with his theme!” said McCreary.  “It was a nice idea at the time, but proved rather difficult to produce anything with emotional meaning. It took a while, but ultimately, I think the end result works beautifully.  It’s emotional, and fits Leonardo’s character beautifully.  Yet, at the same time, it feels like a palindrome.”

It’s this sort of out-of-the-box thinking that led WIRED Magazine to call McCreary a “Secret Weapon” in a recent issue.  His unique combination of atypical instrumental background (he is a professional accordionist) with rigorous classical training prepared him to compose for disparate genres.  By the age of 24, McCreary was launched into pop culture history with his groundbreaking score to Syfy’s hit series Battlestar Galactica, for which he composed “the most innovative music on TV today” (Variety). It “fits the action so perfectly, it’s almost devastating: a sci-fi score like no other” (NPR). Io9.com declared Bear McCreary one of the Ten Best Science Fiction Composers of all time, listing him alongside legends John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann.

McCreary continues to write for the television show The Walking Dead.  Recently he lent his talents to Syfy and Trion World’s groundbreaking entertainment experience,Defiance, a combined launch of a MMO videogame. His film projects include Europa Report (currently available On Demand and in theaters on August 2nd) and Knights of Badassdom.  His other credits include critically acclaimed scores for series such asTerminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesEureka and The Cape. His swashbuckling score for Human Target featured the largest orchestra ever assembled in the history of series television and earned him his first Emmy nomination.  His videogame credits include SOCOM 4 and Dark Void.

What will this week hold for McCreary?  It’s off to a great start – with the release of the soundtrack for his music to CAPRICA on Tuesday and the release of the soundtrack for EUROPA REPORT on Friday, coinciding with the film hitting theaters.

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http://www.bearmccreary.com

 

 

For more information contact Beth Krakower, CineMedia Promotions, 310.439.1403,beth@cinemediapromotions.com, or @cinemediapromo on Twitter

The Cape.

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THE CAPE TV series was not well received; in fact after nine episodes the show was cancelled as audiences and critics gave it the big thumbs down. The one saving grace that it did posses was the musical score by composer Bear McCreary. The composer has worked on a number of popular TV series including BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, A TOWN CALLED EUREKA. THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES and THE WALKING DEAD, plus he has also scored feature films, shorts and video games. The composer has a somewhat quirky approach to scoring film and TV but it has to be said it is an approach that works and he gets results – as in creating music which enhances and supports each and every project. He also manages to produce music that remains very listenable and highly original away from the film it is intended to enhance. THE CAPE is no exception and in my ever so humble opinion this is probably the best of McCreary thus far in his career. The music from THE CAPE did, on my initial listen, put me in mind very much of Danny Elfman and also the late Shirley Walker. Then, after reading the liner notes it became apparent that I was not wrong to think this way as the composer marks Shirley Walker as a music super hero and dedicates the album to her memory. Every single cue on this magnificent double compact disc is an interesting and exhilarating listen, whether it be a full-on action cue or a more emotive and poignant interlude – there is not one track that I would skip over. I listened to the album twice (both discs) and each time I was excited and bowled over by its stature, content and presence. It has everything to accompany a superhero; high octane action themes, fanfares, swelling strings, painfully melodic piano, soothing and lush passages plus up-tempo and hauntingly rhythmic cues. Alongside a large orchestra, the composer includes a number of solo players who add their own individual musical fingerprint to the proceedings, which is why this is such an appealing work. Not only do we have the symphonic grandness but also the intimate and whimsical – supplied by ethnic woods, hurdy gurdy, accordion, dulcimer and added percussion.

It is diverse but also mainstream if that is at all possible. It conforms to the superhero genre but the composer also thinks outside of this area to create a soundtrack that will become a popular one amongst collectors of fine movie music. The central theme for THE CAPE is, for me, very evocative of John Williams’ work on SUPERMAN but McCreary makes it sound a little darker and thus more in keeping with the shadowy nature of THE CAPE series. I suppose one could say it is the extravagant sound of Williams fused with the dark and unconventional sound of Elfman – an odd combination but one which in the hands of such a gifted composer as McCreary works well. The album is presented extremely well with great artwork. There are also informative notes from the series creator Tom Wheeler and executive producer John Wirth with extensive notes from the composer and lots of photos of the recording sessions. La La Land have produced and released a wonderful score; long may they reign. I recommend this score whole heartedly.