Well the new adaptation of DRACULA has drawn much attention and caused a certain amount of division between old school Dracula fans and followers of the Count in this series of three episodes. Watching all three episodes was something of a task as I became uneasy with the dialogue and the mannerisms that the writers had come up with to update the Stoker novel. Yes there were a number of references to Hammer films and their take on the Vampire Count, and these did not go unnoticed and were appreciated by Hammer devotees. The musical score is by composers David Arnold and Michael Price who collaborated so successfully of SHERLOCK which was a series also penned by Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat. After watching the first two episodes I really could not decide if the music worked or fell short of the mark, and in fact I was hard pressed to even notice the music, but was this because I was focused on the imperfections of the series as it unfolded or was it because the music was just so good in enhancing the various situations on screen that I just did not realise it was there, which is a good thing I suppose because it is film music or TV music in this case and that’s what its there for. So I was pleased when Silva Screen sent out the promo of the score for review, it gave me a chance to actually listen to the score without any images, and I realise this is probably not the best way to hear music for film but in this case it worked for me. Arnold and Price have created a score that is in the main quite lush with romantic properties throughout, and in the music I can hear maybe little nods of acknowledgement to composer Wojciech Kilar as in his haunting love theme from his DRACULA score, which I still hold in high esteem. There is in this new score a sense of fragility and also an underlying atmosphere of apprehension and foreboding. It also contains cues that have a near celestial persona, the melodies being haunting and delicate. In the cue HELLO JOHNNY there is a short phrase which took me back to the Kilar score, as it evoked the theme or at least a fleeting moment from Minas theme from that soundtrack. Arnold and Price have fashioned a grand sounding work, which for the life of me I cannot understand why I never noticed whilst watching the series, it is powerful and commanding, driving and dark, but also it has as many poignant and are romantically laced interludes. The track YOU ARE JOHNATHAN HARKER too is effective, with driving low strings acting as a foundation for more sinewy sounding strings and percussive elements, that are punctuated and further embellished by sharp brass stabs, add to this voices and a disturbing half heard solo violin and you have something that is gripping and just a tad frightening.
I would say that this score is on a par with the music this composing duo created for SHERLOCK and at times it is probably more of a developed and inventive work, even the atonal material that raises its head at times is thematic in part. So, an entertaining soundtrack, but one that you might not notice when watching the series. It is a combination of conventional instrumentation, musique concrete and also the duo use an array of samples which they utilise imaginatively to create sounds that are perfect for this tale of horror. The music oozes menace and has a fearsome and unsettling aura to it. Certainly, for your collection, with highlight tracks being, THAT IS EVERYTHING, OUTGROWN BEAUTY and THE FEAR, the latter for me evoking James Bernard’s SCARS OF DRACULA at times. Out digitally on January 10th 2020.
Composer David Arnold is a music-smith that we probably associate with the James Bond franchise, and big blockbuster scores such as Narnia, INDEPENDENCE DAY and GODZILLA, he also has written some beautifully lyrical scores such as THE LAST OF THE DOGMEN and from time to time has ventured into the world of TV music most notably SHERLOCK. His most recent TV scoring assignment is for an Amazon prime production, GOOD OMENS which is a rather irreverent black comedy, that pairs actors Michael Sheen and David Tennant as an angel and a demon respectively. Based upon the 1990 comic story by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, this is a comic tale that possess a hell (excuse the pun) of a powerful punch and is a series that I know will attract much attention during its six-episode run. Composer Arnold has fashioned a wonderfully impish and darkly discordant but at the same time alluringly attractive soundtrack. Right from track one I was hooked on the irreverent but witty style and sound, which is overflowing with vibrancy and has an off kilter and slightly oddball waltzlike theme, in which the composer entices the listener in and invites them to get comfortable for a jaunty and entertainingly bumpy musical ride. This central theme can also be heard at various stages within the score in a number of arrangements, at one point performed by rock style guitar. I have to say that this is one of the best TV scores I have heard in a while, it is relentless in its offering up of strong thematic material and has to it an addictive and unstoppable musical persona, that is impish and imposing at the same time. Filled with mischief and inventive compositions it is certainly entertaining. Arnold combines symphonic with synthetic and also utilises choral work throughout, there is a majestic and dare I say celestial sound present at times which is always accompanied by a darker and more threatening aura, this richly dark and wonderfully theme laden work is for me a tour de force of musical colours and textures and a welcome return to David Arnold at his most inventive and entertaining. The style employed does at times have a Elman-ish sound, but this is not a bad thing whatsoever. The release which is a double CD is on the Silva Screen label in the UK and is certainly worth adding to your collection, you will be wowed by its varying musical styles and sounds and left wanting more and more as the score progresses and grows. Ominous growling organ and percussive sounding passages combine with at times sinewy sounding strings to create an atmosphere of unease and foreboding, it is a work that I know you will love, it has this compelling and haunting presence that I found impossible not like and found myself returning to the score many times after my initial listen. I love the way in which Arnold employs the choir and supports and embellishes it with little snippets of themes performed by the string section, harpsichord and also cymbalom or at least something sounds similar, the track LULLABY is enchanting, but although being light and charming there is still some doubt if it will not suddenly transform into something more sinister.
Thankfully it does not, but the following cue HELL HOUND has something of a similar intro but soon alters and becomes threatening and fearsome. Arnold combining the quietness of a variation of the Lullaby theme with ominous sounding electronics that rumble in the background, causing a disturbing and unsettling moment. I love this score and I recommend that you go out as soon as you can and get it. Great stuff.
LAST SEPTEMBER WAS THE FIRST GATHERING OF FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES.
This was the brainchild of Mr Tim Smith. Tim along with the help of film music connoisseur, producer, and all round nice guy Mr James Fitzpatrick of TADLOW MUSIC, put their heads together and came up with a fantastic day at ANGEL studios in London, where collectors got to meet and speak to composers, TREVOR JONES, DANIEL PEMBERTON, DEBBIE WISEMAN, CHRISTOPHER GUNNING and MARK THOMAS. The day was a wonderful success and left everyone wanting more, well your requests have been answered, THE SECOND GATHERING OF FANS OF MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES is scheduled to take place on September 9th, 2017 at The ANGEL STUDIOS in London. Details are as follows. Please support this great gathering, you will thoroughly enjoy the day and the experience.
THE GUESTS SO FAR..
THERE ARE SOME GREAT THINGS TO BE WON ON THE DAY.
THESE INCLUDE SOUNDTRACK COMPACT DISCS, PLUS THIS AMAZING DAY IN PRAGUE.
AND THERE IS ALSO THE NOW MUCH SOUGHT AFTER FANS OF FILM MUSIC MUGS.
THIS WILL BE ANOTHER FANTASTIC DAY, SO REMEMBER.
SEE YOU THERE , OH AND BECAUSE THE FIRST GATHERING WAS SUCH A SUCCESS.
FOR INFO SEE THE WEBSITE.
MORE GUEST COMPOSERS TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON.
Released in 2000 SHAFT starring Samuel L Jackson in the title role was a pretty solid and convincing updating of the Shaft series, the musical duties for the movie fell to British born composer David Arnold who was at the time very much in demand because of his association with the James Bond movies. Arnold was it seemed a natural successor to John Barry on the 007 franchise and provided a suitably bombastic and Barry-esque musical accompaniment for the smoothness and suave persona that was Bond and his various adventures as they unfolded on screen. Arnold also proved to be successful in the area of the blockbuster providing highly thematic material for films such as INDEPENDENCE DAY and GODZILLA and also he conjured up a sparse and almost desolate sound for YOUNG AMERICANS. So I suppose when one thinks about it Arnold although not the obvious choice was well practised and would be able to give SHAFT a rhythmic and pulsating sound. To score a SHAFT movie without utilising the infectious and iconic theme as penned by Isaac Hayes back in 1971 I suppose would be un-thinkable, so Arnold took his cue from the theme and although not directly copying it he wove some of the elements from the theme into his score giving it a vibrant sound that possessed a retro atmosphere but at the same time had been given a musical makeover that allowed it to be contemporary. The elements that he used were familiar with audiences and film music collectors who had already been aware of SHAFT and were attractive to others who may not have already heard the Hayes theme or seen the original SHAFT movie and subsequent sequels and TV spin off’s. The composer employed a funk band line up similar to the one that Hayes had put together for the original score and to this he added a more conventional orchestral line up comprising of strings and brass that was supported by percussion, woods and synthetic flourishes thus giving the soundtrack a greater dramatic presence but all the time allowing the familiar sound created by Hayes to seep through into the proceedings. I suppose you could say it was very similar to what Arnold had achieved with his Bond scores but this time there is attitude and a sassy soulful groove going on. In fact listening to Arnolds score is like listening to the original SHAFT with elements of SHAFTS BIG SCORE, snips from SHAFT IN AFRICA and also the jazzy funky influences of Lalo Schifrin making an entrance every so often. I think I am right when I say that the score was never officially released and a song/score compact disc was the only version to hit the shops at the time of the films release on the LA FACE label as I say none of Arnold‘s dramatic score was on the CD instead it was filled with R and B songs, there was however a promo release of the score, which disappeared rather rapidly. So this release from LA LA LAND RECORDS is most welcome.
I remember seeing a promo of Arnold’s score in a shop on a white label by this I mean it was a compact disc no cover just track listing I thought about it at the time but did not pick it up, which is something I still regret. This release is filled with fantastic notes and lots of stills and contains 74 minutes of music over 29 tracks, it’s a great score and is not only exciting and powerful but contains real melodic qualities and highly infectious themes and motifs, this is well worth checking out and adding to your collection. Every track seems to bounce along with an unrelenting energy, Arnold employing 70,s disco style strings that are punctuated by little organ full stops and commas and given support and a driving rhythmic background by wah wah guitar and imposing groovy bass lines. Recommended…..
The main thing that always strikes me with composer David Arnold when I have seen TV interviews or even read interviews with him on the internet is that there is a passion that comes from him about film music, also he seems never to take him self too seriously which I suppose is a good thing also. Arnold came to my attention a few years back now with STARGATE this was I think the score that kind of introduced many collectors to him and his music. Scores such as LAST OF THE DOGMAN followed and then came INDEPENDENCE DAY, after this came James Bond, Godzilla etc etc and there he was David Arnold A list composer. One of the latest releases from those ever so lovely people at LA LA LAND RECORDS is Arnold’s impish, mischievous and delightful soundtrack to the re-make of THE STEPFORD WIVES. When the movie was released I for one thought well there is bound to be a soundtrack compact disc, but alas it never materialized, thankfully LA LA LAND have now put this right. The release contains Arnolds infectious and dark but at the same time comedic sounding score and also has in its running time a number of cues that did not make it into the film itself. Right from the opening one just gets the feeling that this is going to be something special, Arnold opening proceedings with an puckish sounding violin solo that picks out the central theme of the work, female voices punctuate this and underline it giving it more of a manic or desperate sound. Arnold then introduces a more sumptuous version of the theme performed by the string section, and a grand but slightly off beat sounding waltz theme ensues and builds whilst all the time being accompanied by the female voices who’s HA HA HA vocalising become more and more agitatedly laced as the cue progresses and heads towards its conclusion, the composer underlines and supports the strings and female voices with a bassoon and woodwind who pass their part to celli that take it on with support from percussion, trumpet and strings. Track number 4 is for me one of the stand out moments of the compact disc, this is split into two sections the first part, DRIVE TO STEPFORD was not actually used in the film but the second part GATES OF STEPFORD did appear in the finished movie. DRIVE TO STEPFORD has again a mischievous atmosphere to it and although short lived is a wonderfully bold and forthright introduction to more lush and developed GATES OF STEPFORD, Track number 5, HOUSE TOUR/FIRST NIGHT/FIRST MORNING. Again has a air of impishness to it, pizzicato strings, woodwind and more strings are the main players within this cue at the offset with a plaintive piano solo being introduced midway through the cue, and although this is just a fleeting appearance it gives the cue a sense of melancholy and hints at romantic undertones.
The album is also split into two sections the first being tracks 1 to 21 which represent the score with a running time of 43 mins and then from track number 22 through to track number 31,we have a collection of themes that are alternate versions or source tracks, which run for just over 16 mins. THE STEPFORD WIVES is a David Arnold score that many seem to forget, but hardened fans of the composer have been requesting a release for many years and at least with this great release collectors can now savour the delights of Arnold’s inventive and entertaining soundtrack, with its vibrant thematic properties and also its underlying melodious content that has not only a lush and sweeping atmosphere but also contains a sprinkling of comedy and fragility along the way that are fused with moments of drama and excitement. As always the compact disc is presented beautifully by La La Land, with nice art work a number of stills from the movie and very interesting notes on the score with quotes from Arnold.