Last Summer composer Daniel Pemberton was talking about a movie he was working on, it turned out to be KING ARTHUR-LEGEND OF THE SWORD which hits the screens in the UK on May 19th. At the time the composer remarked, “Yes like the world needs another movie about King Arthur”. However, I am sure seeing as it is directed by Guy Ritchie this will be unlike any other movie version of KING ARTHUR. Listening to the score, is something of an experience, it’s not the traditional type of Knights of the Round Table musical fare. Although saying that there are a few musical moments that verge upon the sound that was accepted to be music for an epic adventure some years ago, as in track number, 7, THE LEGEND OF EXCALIBUR, with its low almost growling strings and brass, opening the cue, but these fading away and giving way to a musical presence that is at first sinewy sounding, but very soon becomes something that is not only powerful but has about it a sound and atmosphere that is grand and commanding. Daniel Pemberton is in my opinion one of film music’s brightest stars, I love the way in which the composer experiments and basically bucks the system musically achieving so many great effects and sounds, which maybe one would ordinarily think. “That won’t work” the thing is it does. His score for THE MAN FROM UNCLE for me was the best thing in a long while, it was filled with thematic material and vibrantly inventive and wonderfully supportive of the movie, matching the action superbly and at times working in an almost operatic fashion, very much like the way in which Ennio Morricone used music in the Dollars Trilogy and other Italian westerns. The same can be said for his work on JOBS, maybe this score was a little less in your face, but via its intimate and somewhat fragile sounding passages it worked, elevating and enhancing, supporting and underlining without being intrusive, but instead becoming an integral and important part of the movie as if it were an actual character within the storyline. As I have not yet seen KING ARTHUR I cannot comment on how the music works within the context of the movie, however, I can say that this is a score that is great to listen to and one that is varied and infectious. I think the attraction of the score is the quirkiness and the at times unconventional orchestration that gives it an even greater appeal. Pemberton, combines bold brassy sounding flourishes with breathless voice, urgent sounding strings and percussive elements with choral support to arrive at a crashing and exciting solution, synthetic and symphonic styles meet, they clash and then combine and fuse within the score to create something that is rather special, with the composer also utilising various solo instruments to purvey an atmosphere of solitude, apprehension, fear and melancholy, all of which are tinged with a rawness and even a savage aura, the sound achieved is certainly Gaelic influenced, but is Gaelic with shall we say a contemporary feel to it.
I did feel that maybe the music was a little too full on at certain points within the score, becoming a blur of sounds rather than music, as in track number 20, DARKLANDS, the composer employs this style of music a few times within the score, combining fast paced percussion, scratchy sounding electric guitar, guttural sounding brass and those fast breaths to create an anxious and tense atmosphere, which can sound a little like something off of a 70’s prog rock album. If you are thinking KING ARTHUR-THE LEGEND OF THE SWORD is your typical score for a typical movie about KING ARTHUR think again and be prepared to sit back and take a ride on a musical rollercoaster, that is original, entertaining, thought provoking, and maybe a little confusing at times. Check it out, I do not think you will be disappointed.
After his success with the score for THE MAN FROM UNCLE composer Daniel Pemberton returns with another top-notch soundtrack to GOLD. At first many collectors feared that the soundtrack release would be a song album only, but thankfully the score has been issued. Of course, for anyone interested the songs are available on the Varese Sarabande release. GOLD is based upon actual events but of course many of these have been altered and somewhat expanded upon. Directed by Award winning filmmaker, Stephen Gaghan (SYRIANA), the movie stars Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells who is determined to follow in the traditional family business which had been established by his Father played by Craig T Nelson who we see in various flashbacks. Kenny is presented as a down and out of luck hustler who is desperate to re-enter the business of acquiring precious metals, but for this he needs money, which he is begging for from whoever will listen. He travels to Borneo to seek out a river walker Mike Acosta played so convincingly by Edgar Ramirez and the story builds from there, but I won’t spoil it for you go see it, although you may find McConaughey’s character a little irritating because of his incessant chatting. Pemberton’s score is filled with varied and alluring melodies and styles, and ranges from jazz sounding rhythms which are overrun with beats and frantic pulses to subdued and calming guitar solos. There is also apprehension, drama and a sense of hopelessness purveyed within the score. The composer utilising fast paced percussive elements at time to relay an urgent and anxious musical persona. One of my favourite cues is track number 19, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MIKE ACOSTA, which for me personally evoked memories of the quieter moments in the score for the 1970’s western BLUE by Greek composer Manos Hajidakis, the combination of guitar with underlying strings and finally more pronounced use of the string section is effective, emotive and highly lyrical. Pemberton makes effectual use of the percussive instrumentation throughout the work, often this being the foundation of the various themes included within the score. Which is certainly more pronounced in track number 20, RING OF FIRE 3, THE REVEAL, which begins with bass guitar that is joined by various percussion including drums, shakers, and bells, he then introduces strings in the background which carry the percussion along punctuating and embellishing it, woodwind is also put into the mix guitar and bass guitar providing a throbbing and continuous back beat.
Another delightful cue is track number 21. BLUE SKIES, solo guitar once again takes the centre stage to open the track but soon becomes a lilting background for a charming chiming effect which picks out the four-note motif that is underlined by subdued strings. The final cue is KEEP DIGGING (GOLD). This is more up-tempo and has about it a Spanish Latin feel and to be fair could be out of a Spaghetti Western score. Overall, GOLD is entertaining and enjoyable listen and for me adds even more credence to Pemberton’s credentials as a composer of film music. Next up for the composer is KING ARTHUR, now that will certainly be interesting.
It’s been a long time since I went to a gathering or meeting of any type concerning film music, and it’s been even longer since I enjoyed it so much. Today September 24th 2016 I will remember for a long time, it was the first gathering of FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES organised by Tim Smith and James Fitzpatrick, guest composers in attendance were TREVOR JONES, MARK THOMAS, DEBBIE WISEMAN, CHRISTOPHER GUNNING and DANIEL PEMBERTON. All of whom were in a word wonderful, I loved the way that all of them were so relaxed and also so forthcoming with their thoughts and opinions about film music, scoring films and the art and craft of what they do. The last time I attended such a function must have been way back in the 1990, s when it was organised by either THE GOLDSMITH SOCIETY or John Williams of SILENTS AND SATELITTES and early editions of MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES fame. I Seem to recall a few of these SEMINARS as they were called being held at the BONNIGTON hotel in London, but that is by the way. Today’s event was well organised and it ran so smoothly at least that’s what I witnessed, the only hiccups being Tim Smith’s nerves I think, which is understandable when organising something like this, but he handled it very well and made everyone welcome.
It was also a time to put faces to Facebook (other social medias are available) conversations which was also really nice and it was something of a reunion for myself with fellow soundtrack collector Jerry Daley being there and of course talking with Trevor Jones and Chris Gunning after a break of more than a few years, Trevor remarked that is was the sessions for HIDEAWAY when we last saw each other in the flesh as it were.
Held at the renowned ANGEL recording studios in Upper Street Islington, this was an afternoon that I know many will be thinking of for a long while. Tim Smith took to the floor at around two o clock, and spoke to the gathered fifty or so attendees, briefly explained the fire drill then went on to introduce the host for the afternoon, the well know record producer and passionate film music fan James Fitzpatrick, many of us in attendance of course remember buying LP records off of James when he was behind the counter and managing the sadly missed 58 DEAN STREET RECORDS, and then he was one of the driving forces behind SILVA SCREEN initiating that labels foray into re-recordings of soundtracks which included the first release of music from Hammer films for example and renditions of themes from movies such as WITCHFINDER GENERAL, NIGHT OF THE DEMON, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE and full score reconstructions and re-recordings of soundtracks such as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA,THE BIG COUNTRY etc. James is now the boss at TADLOW MUSIC producing so many exquisite re-recordings and releases of excellent film music and providing orchestras for composers on various projects.
His attention to detail and also achieving high quality recordings is second to none, and I believe he is a Master of his particular craft and a person who does not shout about his achievements as in blow his own trumpet (forgive the pun). James made a brief introduction, and also then introduced the guests for the afternoon, it was at this point we were treated to something of a sneak preview from an up and coming release on TADLOW, which is Miklos Rozsa’s classic soundtrack for THE THIEF OF BAHGDAD, which like all of TADLOW’S releases sounded magnificent, it was fantastic to hear the music and also see the orchestra conducted by Nic Raine perform.
After the cue had concluded James started things off with a question to the guests about if they thought film music composition was an art or a craft. Debbie Wiseman began the responses, followed by Mark Thomas, Trevor Jones and then Christopher Gunning and Daniel Pemberton, all explained their idea of composition being an art or craft very differently, but I thought basically they all more or less agreed that it was part art part craft, which then segued into discussing other topics that were related to being a composer of film music, this spontaneity by the guests who were happy to chat about almost anything without being prompted for me made the afternoon even more interesting and enjoyable. We learnt that Daniel Pemberton is working on another movie by Guy Ritchie which is a KING ARTHUR film, and also that when he feels he has got something right as in writing a particular cue does a little dance around his flat, which as Debbie Wiseman remarked is an image that will linger in her head for a while.
There were also questions from the audience, which were very interesting enquiries and also the responses from the assembled guest were too as interesting if not more so. It’s surprising that although they all work in the same field they all seem to have different approaches to the actual mechanics of writing the scores, some preferring the more classical and time honoured approach of manuscript and pencil others using the more technical options that are available, which then led to explanations from Trevor Jones about certain software that became available to the composer back in the late 80’s etc, which made it either easier or more of a headache for them to score films. He also spoke of the switch almost overnight from analogue too digital which gave him more than one headache in the studio.
We did have a short break for refreshments and this gave members of the audience a chance to chat amongst themselves and also with the composers, it was at this point the first raffle was held and the winners (not me, I was one away, but I am ok honestly) were given generous goodie bags of compact discs which were given freely by TADLOW, MOVIE SCORE MEDIA, CALDERA and SILVA SCREEN, there were also FANS OF MOVIE MUSIC mugs on sale a snip at £6.95 and then we had a second raffle for a poster advertising the event signed by all the guests.
More questions and answers followed and it became apparent that Christopher Gunning was shall we say a little tired of scoring films and TV as he had been writing what was is called by some “serious” music as in concertos and symphonies for concert hall performance, Christopher was relieved that he never had a deadline or a director and producer peering over his shoulder all the time, but then he said when writing his symphony at times he had wished he could phone up a particularly difficult director and ask him to come round and stand behind him and give him a hard time so he could actually write some music.
Debbie Wiseman and James Fitzpatrick.
Debbie Wiseman told us how she got into the business and how after working on a series such as FATHER BROWN that if a different director was brought in it would be them that had to adapt to her music simply because she had written so many established themes for that series and had been there since the offset. So that was a different perspective, as its normally the composer that has to adapt their music for anything that the director might want to do. All of the composers told stories of either directors or producers that were shall we say difficult, Christopher Gunning remembering to be asked to score POIROT but not include the established and award winning theme for the series, (which everyone knows and loves) Gunning told us that he tried to introduce the theme when he could at one point turning the music upside down.
Daniel Pemberton recalling the time he scored a documentary about Hiroshima, one of the greatest losses of human life in the 20th Century and when it got to the part in the film where the bomb had been dropped and there was utter desolation and destruction, the executives on the film telling him that his music was to down beat and sombre. Mark Thomas being asked to score a section of film with music like the music in the chariot race scene in BEN HUR, and then realising there is no music in that sequence, “So that was easy” he said. Time unfortunately was running out and we had to stop, but then we were allowed to ask the guests to sign CD covers etc. Which they did and gave their time generously stopping to talk to each and every person about the cover they had selected and their love of movie music, the signings were accompanied by some great music and images of orchestra performing at various TADLOW recording sessions.
Overall it was a great success, there were no awkward silences, no silly questions, it was just a good experience that had an easy going atmosphere with all of the composers being quite laid back and forthcoming with snippets of information and various stories of good, bad and ugly situations that they had encountered in their careers. (Chris Gunning was very open and frank) which was very amusing and interesting. I hope that this is an event that will be repeated and become an annual occurrence, we have to thank TIM SMITH who initiated this and also James Fitzpatrick who helped immensely in it coming to fruition, we also have to say a big thank you to all of the composers for their time and also their interest in the people who buy soundtracks and too all the FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES team for being there making the day go well, plus a big thank you to Phil Watkins for taking all of those great photographs, some of which I have with his permission used in this article. marks out of 10, I give it an 11.
Just one thing left to say ENCORE,,,,, Looking forward to FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES 2.
Two popular television shows from the 1960,s that have both had incarnations of the original ideas hit cinema screens this month are MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and THE MAN FROM UNCLE. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE of course is an already established series and franchise, with ROGUE NATION being the fifth instalment, but the latter title although still having a loyal following from its days on TV has not seen any real attempts by Hollywood or any other studios outside of tinsel town to update the original 1960,s episodes or feature film. Directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant and with a bit part for David Beckham (ya know what I mean). This movie I think is about to become the first in a series of films that tell of the exploits of the guys from U. N. C. L. E. The musical score is the work of Daniel Pemberton, who’s music for the television series THE GAME caught the ear of many a little while back.
Pemberton maybe not the most well known composer of film music but he certainly creates soundtracks that are not only memorable but do their job perfectly underlining and supporting the scenarios on screen. Unlike the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series the composer or maybe the director decided not to utilise the original MAN FROM UNCLE theme which was penned by the great Jerry Goldsmith over fifty years ago. Many collectors were shall we say a little surprised and put out by this, but for me I think it showed great inventiveness by Pemberton, it would have been easy to arrange an already familiar and popular theme and score the movie with it, instead he has come up with one of the most inventive and tuneful soundtracks of 2015 thus far. Yes it is true to say that he employs a style that is at times pure 1960,s but the themes as far as I am aware are original, the score has to it an almost spaghetti western demeanour the composer creating this with electric guitar, breathy woods and flourishes from the harpsichord and at one point employing a near wailing choir which is maybe a gentle parody of Morricone’s NAVAJO JOE or Cipriani’s BLINDMAN or even MATALO by Mario Migliardi, its that type of sound but fused with this Italian western style there are three other types of sound, firstly a definite nod in the direction of THE IPCRESS FILE or even VENDETTA by John Barry with cimbalom taking a prominent role and then we have an influence or style introduced that could be Piero Piccioni, Gianni Marchetti, Francesco de Masi, Nico Fidenco et al, all of whom were composers active on spy and crime capers from the studios of Cinecitta in Rome during the 1960’s and 1970’s, this style encompasses accordion, Hammond organ, Italian traditional sounding music and easy paced tango rhythms that are supported by cheeky little guitar riffs. Then we are treated to a sound that is akin to the style ,of British composer Edwin Astley, it is a kind of pop orchestral style that Pemberton has fashioned fusing the light and melodic passages with dramatic high octane pieces, but it works so well.
There is even a reference to Morricone’s MAN WITH THE HARMONICA composition, complete with fuzzy sounding guitar present at one point. In other words this is a score that is filled to the brim with infectious melodies, up lifting percussive performances and inventive thematic material that will linger for a long time in the listeners brain.
The soundtrack album also contains a handful of vocals, OH NO I hear you say!!!! But its ok the score tracks outnumber these songs and to be honest the songs have been chosen well fitting in perfectly with the score cues and adding much to the film I suspect. Vocals are courtesy of performers such as Solomon Burke, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Louis Prima, Peppino Gagliardi, Tom Ze and Valdez, Luigi Tendco and Gianfranco Reverberi. The compact disc opens with the Roberta Flack song, COMPARED TO WHAT. The first score track however is OUT OF THE GARAGE, which has something of an apprehensive and shady beginning, the composer creating an air of mystery via use of bass, piano and shimmering and icy sounds, this segues into a more upbeat but still sinister and uneasy sounding theme performed on breathy Barry-esque woodwind, this melts away and gives precedence to a more upbeat percussion that acts as support for cimbalom punctuated and enhanced by woods again and a full on upbeat tempo performed by drums, bongo’s and catchy baseline. In some ways this is reminiscent of the early work of Lalo Schifrin or even some of Francis Monkman’s work on THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY and Roy Budd‘s GET CARTER or at least the ending of Budd’s opening theme for that movie, the jazz infused wood wind relaying an atmosphere that oozes uncertainty with bongo‘s punctuating the proceedings.
Track number two, MY NAME IS NAPOLEON SOLO, is for me one of the highlights of the score, but saying this there are really no stand out moments as the entire score is superb, I think its because Pemberton sets the scene for the remainder of the score within this cue, and gives us a taster of the excellence that is to follow. The track begins with a harpsichord or maybe Celeste in a Morricone type chimes composition which can I suppose be compared with the watch melody in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, the quiet opening soon builds into something more substantial with electric guitar again taking centre stage and percussion giving weight to the central theme. The composer then brings this part of the composition to an end and again utilises the gravely and breathy woodwind, that is carried along on a wave of inventive percussion giving the piece an infectious and highly original sound, upbeat backing that comprises of drums, jazz infused Hammond organ, and bass is in a word entertaining. Entertaining is a word that I would use to describe the entire score for THE MAN FROM UNCLE, it is infectious, haunting, melodic, dramatic, exciting and a soundtrack that every collector of quality film music should own and EON if you are listening you should buy this also, Pemberton should be the next 007 composer.
THE BASS FLUTE PERFORMANCE FOR THE SCORE.
FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC FROM AROUND THE WORLD AND MOVIE REVIEWS AND NEWS.