EL TIEMPO ENTRE COSTURAS, is a Spanish television production that is currently airing and is being hailed by many as Spain’s answer to the highly successful and addictive British drama series, DOWNTON ABBEY. The series which is based upon the novel by Maria Duenas entitled THE TIME IN BETWEEN, the drama which is set at the time of the Spanish civil war, has attracted more than 5 Million viewers every week and contains a fully symphonic lush and highly romantic sounding musical score which is the work of Cesar Benito (WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER), the composer has produced a soundtrack that is literally overflowing with emotion and beautifully written musical pieces that are not only gracious and engrossing but have the ability to mesmerise and enthral any listener. Fragile and delicate sounding tone poems warm the heart and evoke and create feelings of sadness and passion throughout. The score is built on and around a particularly haunting and amiable sounding piano composition which opens the proceedings. A six note motif acts as the foundation for the scores central theme which is heard in the form of TEMA DI SIRA in the first instance, the composition which is an enchanting one has an almost trickling sounding piano performance being played over the six note foundation, which undulates and builds slowly gaining slightly more momentum as it ambles its way towards the cues conclusion. In many ways it is similar to Michael Nyman’s PIANO theme from the movie of the same name, Benito taking a simple theme and repeating it whilst underlining and punctuating it with a firm foundation. It has to it an originality and freshness which radiates throughout its running time and although simple undoubtedly effective. This central theme either opens various cues or is cleverly woven into the fabric of the work and acts as a musical bridge or glue that brings together all the other thematic elements of the score and holds them together creating a glorious, dramatic, attractive and stunning sound. Track number 2, MADRID 1922, is a more upbeat affair, strident strings open the piece taking it along at a fairly brisk pace, to this is added trumpet and also solo piano, which pass the theme from one to the other during the cues duration, the string section also taking a hand and giving the composition a real luxurious sound, playing in unison with faraway sounding horns. Plaintive sounding woods are also brought into the equation creating a sense and atmosphere of melancholy with harp making a brief but effective appearance acting as a punctuation of sorts to both woods and strings. The score also contains a number of more dramatic and urgent sounding pieces, but it is the romantically laced sound that Benito has created that will delight many a soundtrack collector and indeed I am confident will attract the attention of music lovers even if they are not film music fans.
There are also a handful of Arabic sounding cues which add greater authenticity to the work plus choir and female solo voice are folded into the mix adding at times emotion and power to the already imposing sounding score. Another great soundtrack from Spain, another worthy addition to Movie Score Medias more than impressive catalogue.
A vampire movie, so the score is all crash, bang, thud, atonal stabs. rasping growling brass and big percussion with cymbal clashes, right ? Wrong ! Composer Johan Soderqvist has created not only an atmospherically frightening score, but also at the same time manages to infuse poignancy and gentleness into the proceedings, so with one hand he puts the listener on edge and with the other he soothes and calms that same listener by introducing low key and understated levels of underlying tranquility.
This composers gift for melody is abundantly clear in the beautiful composition ELI’S THEME which is track number 3 on the compact disc, the cue begins with harp being underlined by layered and unobtrusive strings, these strings soon swell and bring to the fore a poignant and emotive theme, it is heartrending to the point of bringing tears to the eyes of the listener and creates an aire of what is near to serenity. Yes I admit that there are some pretty atonal sounding passages present within this score, but it still manages to stay musical rather than just a background noise.
Examples of this type of scoring are demonstrated in track 6, HIDING THE BODY, where low foreboding strings are supported by from what I can deduce sparse use of synthetic sounds, that when combined create a resonance that is obviously atonal but at the same time has musical substance to it. This can be said of a number of cues on the compact disc, atonal in their make up but musical in their overall effect, the composer creates short but effective themes and leitmotifs, which catch one unawares and within a sea of at times quite disturbing, harrowing and complex compositions there comes from nowhere a piece that just melts the listener as in track number 8, OSCAR STRIKES BACK, this short lived cue is an adagio of sorts, beautiful, calming and emotive.
As a fully paid up member of the Hammer Horror fan club, I suppose I have a fixed ideas about what Horror movie scores sound like, or at least what they did sound like, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN , bears no resemblance whatsoever to the frenzied scoring of James Bernard, or the near romantic compositions of David Whitaker, it is a horror score with body a horror score with direction and focus, it combines shadowy orchestral textures and colours with uplifting and beautiful romanticism and these fusions and combinations I for one think work extremely well, it is for me anyway one of the best horror scores I have heard in many years. This may not be everyone’s idea of a great soundtrack, but I do urge you to buy this CD, I think when you hear it you will be hooked by this composers approach and his stylish and emotive compositions .
A review of LA MULA appeared on this blog/web site some time ago, this was a review based on the promo version of the score that was sent to us by the composer,I thought it fitting to remove this review and replace it with another that is based on the full score version of the soundtrack that is released on Kronos/Movie score media records, and is available now. JM.
Produced in 2012, LA MULA or THE MULE was unfortunately beset by numerous legal problems and therefore the release of the movie did not take place till 2013. The movie which is a comedy/drama love story based upon the novel by Juan Eslava Galan who also provided the movie with its screenplay. The film is set during the closing days of The Spanish Civil War, and focuses upon a soldier who finds a mule on a battlefield and decides to take the animal with him on a journey through the countryside at first as company but then he decides that he will keep the animal and also makes a decision to protect it. It is whilst undertaking his journey that he attempts to make some sense of all the chaos that is happening around him, and all of the senseless suffering that has taken place during the cruel and futile Civil War. The music for this charming, entertaining and delightful movie is the work of Spanish born composer Oscar Navarro; the composer has written an equally entertaining score that contains numerous musical colours and via his varied and enthusiastic approach to scoring the movie has been able to produce a musical soundtrack that encompasses a number of styles and creates a diverse spectrum of moods. Given the subject matter there are some obvious musical references to the country where the story is set, i.e., solo guitar, castanet’s, energetic sounding strings and flamenco type clapping, which give the work a real Hispanic sound and flavour. On the whole this is a fully melodic and symphonic sounding soundtrack that contains a number of jaunty and vibrant passages plus there are as many emotive sounding compositions included within the work, the composer calling upon heartfelt cello on a handful of occasions within the score to bring a sense of melancholy and real passion to the proceedings, its ephemeral but effective presence at strategic points within the work melting the listeners emotions gradually but decisively. The composer also makes effective use of martial sounding music that appears on a number of occasions underlining the central characters involvement with the military, also included there are more plaintive and poignant sounds which come courtesy of solo piano and accompanying strings which create a rich and romantically slanted mood. Solo violin is also a significant emotive feature within the framework of the score the composer employing the instrument to radiate a sense of heartrending poignancy and ingratiate and infuse proceedings with elegance and tenderness. Track one, LOVE STORY,(MAIN THEME FROM LA MULA) is a particularly melodic and rich sounding piece, it begins with low key guitar which is accompanied and embellished by subtle use of strings which are played in unison with fragile sounding woodwind, the string section gradually begins to swell and become the mainstay of the composition with feint rumblings of percussion punctuating, plus harp being present to swell the emotive content plus the composer brings into the equation faraway sounding horns that are most definitely Barry-esque in their sound and placing,the strings carry the romantic theme to a tumultuous and heartrending crescendo which is assisted by the clash of cymbals at strategic points along the way. In a number of ways this did evoke for me personally the music of Roque Banos within his score for LAS 13 ROSAS, it is a sumptuous, poignant and highly melodic theme that I think Max Steiner would have been proud of, it overflows with emotive thematic properties and is a stunning and haunting opening to the score. Track number two, CASTRO Y CONCHI. Is a quieter and if it is at all possible more deeply heartfelt variation on the scores central theme, again it opens with a guitar introduction the central theme from the score being performed on a mournful but emotive sounding clarinet, solo violin then takes on the theme subtly underlined and supported by a scattering of strings adding depth and even more emotion to the short lived but affecting piece.
Track three, THE TURNTABLE is a lighter more robust and up tempo composition, the music posses a real Hispanic sound and is brimming with references that conjure up a Spanish atmosphere, castanets, pizzicato strings and also strong fiery sounding strings combine with cheerful sounding woodwind, brass, solo trumpet and clapping, these components combine to create a composition that has comedic qualities but also remains highly melodic and interestingly entertaining at the same time. In a number of ways the style of music employed here reminded me a lot of the western scores of Maurice Jarre as in BEHOLD A PALE HORSE and also, THE PROFFESSIONALS and VILLA RIDES, by this I mean it is tuneful and at the same time quirky and catchy with infectious rhythmic nuances that delight. The music also has a sound to it that can be likened to that of Elmer Bernstein when that particular composer was in western score mode, i.e. His Mexican flavoured cues from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Track number four, FREINDSHIP, is a beautiful and enticing tone poem written for solo piano and two violins, the piano creating a subdued but poetically beautiful introduction which acts as a delicate background to in the first instant a solo violin, this after a short time is joined by a second violin and further supported by the string section and a brief and subdued rumbling of percussion which seems to bring all of the musical elements together in a low key but effective crescendo, heartrending and so sorrowful this haunting composition is for me one of the highlights of the score.. Track number five, I AM NOT A SLAVE TO ANYONE, is a return to a proud sounding Spanish sound with guitar and strings interspersed by brass stabs and flourishes that are them selves supported by castanets and percussion, that posses an urgency and real dramatic fervour. The remainder of the score contains numerous pieces that are of a lighter nature and written generally with a comedic air to them, in fact some do have that certain Mickey-Mousing appeal about them, but every so often we are treated to a sprinkling of pure poignancy and delicate emotion with a melody or brief passage of music that glimmers through gracefully rising from nowhere and creating an air and atmosphere that is near magical and so expressive and sensitive that it is literally heart stopping and stunning. The scores penultimate cue is GRAND FINALE, this begins in a restrained and low key fashion, underlying strings supporting a plaintive violin solo, the supporting strings begin to rise and increase in volume adding greater emotion to an already mesmerising solo violin, guitar is brought into the piece and this then takes on a version of the scores central theme, supported by the ever present string section and discretely placed percussive punctuations, female voice is then given centre stage and the effective is astonishing, with low and unassuming strings acting as a backdrop, the composition then falls into a lull of sorts with harp picking out an eight note motif, that is then passed to woodwind and guitar, supported by very low key strings, the string section then take hold as they rise into pole position and take on the theme giving it a full and richly romantic work out.
LA MULA is a great score, it includes so many powerful melodies and so many emotional and passionate passages that thrill and excite, it has the ability to make one smile, evoke the feeling of being sombre and reflective and even at times relays a real sense of intimacy that gets right to the listeners soul, the music has so much character and variety to it and I know that once heard it will be returned to again and again, My thanks to the composer Oscar Navarro for this wonderful score and his friendship and also to the team at Kronos/Movie score media, for listening to me and hearing the same richness, the same melodious excellence and the wonderful music of LA MULA.
To say that this score is a bit of fun or an entertaining collection of musical themes, is a slight understatement, and also maybe a little disrespectful to the composer. THE 25TH REICH, is a score that encompasses a number of film music genres, and within its many thematic properties it pays homage to a handful of war film themes and also its fair share of themes and sounds that have up until now been associated with sci-fi movies either from way back in the 1950,s or the more up to date examples as in STAR WARS and the new STAR TREKetc. Composer Ricky Edwards has written a solid sounding soundtrack and has also arranged and orchestrated it wonderfully, giving it an almost epic sound and atmosphere. The opening track,THE 25TH REICH MARCH, is something straight out of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK with full blooded martial sounding drums enhanced by strident strings which both act as a background to ominous and forceful sounding brass flourishes which in turn are bolstered by flyaway sounding woods and percussion, and that electric saw or Theremin sound which relays perfectly an atmosphere of the unworldly. This is a commanding and powerful piece that not only opens the compact disc but becomes a foundation to the remainder of the soundtrack and sets the musical scene perfectly for much of what is to follow. The score also contains some Herrmanesque sounding motifs and passages, strings and jagged brass bouncing off each other to create a sublime sense of unease and foreboding that is tinged with urgency. This I think can be heard more prominently in THAT AI’NT NO PANTHER. In fact overall the score contains numerous nods in the direction of composers such as, Bernstein, Goldsmith, Williams, Barry and in certain areas maybe touches of Irwin Gertz or Herman Stein are interwoven into the work evoking the vintage horror sci-fi flicks that were produced daily in the 1940,s through to the 1950,s. I found that the marches or variations upon the central theme of the march were particularly entertaining, rat a tat timpani and proud but rather ominous sounding brass punctuation and swirling and vibrant strings all go to make up a rewarding and enriching listen. The score provides the movie with an unrelenting and energetic backdrop and is for me a score that is written in the style of good old fashion film music, when marches were obligatory in war movies and weird sounds and noises provided the chill factor in sci-fi and horror films, Composer Edwards has certainly worked his magic with this score and hopefully we will hear more of him as a composer as opposed to him working as an orchestrator. Most certainly worth a listen. Great art work and as always presented well by Movie score Media and their new collaborator Kronos. This is STAR WARS meets THE GREAT ESCAPE head on.
Its seems to have been a long while since we have heard what I call a war movie score written in a style that has patriotism, action and also melancholy. Well British born composer Michael Richard Plowman has certainly delivered this with his music to AGE OF HEROES, It is a work that is literally crammed with rousing and anthem like passages and also one that has more than its fair share of dynamic and invigorating action cues. The score for me steps back in time to a period when composers such as Ron Goodwin, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein and their like were in demand and were scoring projects such as BATTLE OF BRITAIN, WHERE EAGLES DARE, PATTON-LUST FOR GLORY, VON YANS EXPRESS, THE GREAT ESCAPE and BRIDGE AT REGMAGEN. Plowman evokes this style of scoring within his rousing and exciting soundtrack and evokes a time when themes were in fashion and rich symphonic sounds dominated the silver screen. The music for AGE OF HEROES is as I have already hinted a thrilling and bracing work, but although it is action dominated the composer still infuses the work with some fine melodic sounding motifs and themes, the inclusion of which lift the score and also boost the action scenes taking place on screen, creating some great moments where music and image work so well together. The style which is employed is not dissimilar to that of the late Roy Budd, it has a freshness and simplicity to it that makes it a rewarding and enjoyable listen. I also think that Plowman displays a sound and style that can be likened to that of vintage British composer Frank Cordell, which manifested itself in Cordell’s scores for HELL BOATS, MOSQUITO SQUADRON and to a degree the action cues in CROMWELL. AGE OF HEROES is a score that will entertain as a collection of music being played at home on an afternoon or evening, and also it works well within the film. Either way Plowman has created a soundtrack that is enjoyable and also he has fashioned a score that re-kindles boyish memories from bygone days, whilst at the same time containing modern styles. Released on the ever industrious ever popular and groundbreaking Movie Score Media. Recommended.
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