Tag Archives: movie score media

THE SECRET OF IMMORTAL CODE.

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The dark and foreboding sound of composer Bernard Herrmann certainly made an impact upon film scoring from the 1940’s up until his death. Herrmann as a composer influenced numerous other composers and artists, Jerry Goldsmith for example and also Christopher Young, it seems however that his influences have now extended to the 21st Century, and are evident within the music that Pantawit Kiangsiri has written for the Chinese film production, THE SECRET OF IMMORTAL CODE which is released on the Movie Score Media label. The score does not only generate nods of acknowledgement to Herrmann with its growling and volatile style but at times we can also hear references to the actual writings of Goldsmith, which first manifest themselves within the second half of the cue UNDERGROUND LAB AND RAID, that evokes memories of Goldsmith’s striking and tense theme for the movie CAPRICORN ONE. I am of the opinion that referencing or paying homage to other composers such as Herrmann and Goldsmith, cannot be a negative thing, but and its just a little but, if we as fans do notice these then maybe the composer has written in this style because either he was asked to by the films producers or it is something that he developed whilst caught up in the project and maybe being a fan himself of their music is indeed paying homage to their talents. There is also another style present throughout, that is not as forthright or dominant, which is obviously the composers own individual style coming through as he shapes and fashions the score. The danger here being that because the Goldsmith/Herrmann influence is so strong, that the original musical fingerprint of Kiangsisri could be swamped or drowned out and to a degree in the first half of the score this does in fact happen. But, cast your mind back to DEF CON 4 which was penned by Christopher Young, there were so many references to the work of Goldsmith within it that it was difficult at times to separate that score from things such as CAPRICON ONE (again), and this style of imitating as in paying homage to another composer, certainly did not do Chris Young any harm. I think the first glimmer of originality within Kiangsiri’s, score makes an appearance in track number six, DIARY AND OLD MEMORIES, which is more of a down tempo and less of an action cue. But even here there are little nuances and quirks of orchestration that could be construed as being Goldsmith influenced as in the poignant piano solo, (A PATCH OF BLUE) and also striking electric guitar chords that are very similar indeed to the type that Goldsmith deployed in STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE many years ago.

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In fact, the sound that Goldsmith utilised in the KLINGON BATTLE scene, is evident also in the following cue MAN IN THE BOX, albeit a slower tempo and maybe a slightly less animated version. However, saying this this is a score that I would still recommend, because of its use of so many sounds and for the combining of various styles and musical colours etc. Film music after all maybe needs to go back in time a way and start again, so that we can have themes and solid action cues once more without the use of droning non-musical sections and incessant harsh stabs that are effective in heightening tension and drama but have no real direction of substance. THE SECRET OF IMMORTAL CODE, is an entertaining score, filled with symphonic and electronic textures, which the composer combines, fuses and melds to create a work that stands out. I enjoyed listening to the soundtrack as it was relentless, every track containing something to be appreciated, with even full throttle action tracks having to them a thematic base that the composer brings out into the open as the track progresses and grows, developing it and presenting it as a vibrant theme in its own right. If you are a fan of action film music, or the style that we associate with Goldsmith, Young and Herrmann then you will I am sure enjoy this and maybe even become an admirer of the artistry and talent of Pantawit Kiangsiri. Available now on digital platforms.

HELP, I SHRUNK MY PARENTS.

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Two scores by the same composer released in not only the same month and week but also on the same day. Movie Score Media are always it seems striving to, introduce fresh talent to collectors of movie music and this week they have exceeded and surpassed themselves with the release of THE LEGEND OF THE WAR HORSE and now HELP, I SHRUNK MY PARENTS. Both scores are the work of Anne-Kathrin Dern the former title being a collaboration of creative talent with composer Daniel James. HELP,I SHRUNK MY PARENTS is in many ways a million miles away from THE LEGEND OF THE WAR HORSE, but saying this maybe it is not that far away, the score is a rich symphonic work, that has to it a mystical and somewhat mysterious air. The composer utilising to great effect the string and percussion sections of the orchestra and also adding wonderfully haunting nuances that are purveyed via, woodwind and the use of a haunting choir, which at times one could easily be forgiven for thinking that it was Dann Elfman who was scoring the movie. It has an EDWARD SCISSORHANDS aura to it, almost ghostlike but at the same time undeniably childlike with a beautiful and mesmerising fragility. THE CURSE OF THE MUSEUM is the opening cue on the release, with the composer almost immediately establishing a playful yet apprehensive atmosphere by using choir, strings and woods that are supported by brass and percussive elements. The string section does work overtime within this opening statement, which sets the musical foundation for the remainder of the score, strings are used to purvey, drama and a playful mood, plus they are also utilised as a driving and rich background on which the core theme is built and formed. This is a soundtrack that is such great fun and has an enormous entertainment value, it keeps one transfixed throughout, with its mischievous and impish cheekiness, pizzicato strings at times punctuating the proceedings and adding a lighter air as the work progresses. There are so many musical moods, colours and textures present that it is at times hard to comprehend that all the music comes from just one movie. The composers use of brass which she combines with percussion to create mini crescendos throughout the work is breath taking. It is as if within each track there is a new motif a new theme or a different style that emerges, thus keeping this fresh and vibrant all the way through. As I say it contains, drama, magic, mystery, hints of the elusive and romantic and has to it a real feel good sound and style.


In many ways and I hope that the composer does not mind me saying that it reminded me of the work of the late James Horner, when he scored pictures such as CASPER and AN AMERICAN TAIL, it has that sound, it is warm and homely, which I know many will say is syrupy and predictable, but I say it is polished, excellent and stunning. The darker cues within the score are also outstanding, the composer again making effective use of strings, to weave a tense sound and establishing an uneasy atmosphere. The track THE ENCHANTMENT is particularly creative and alluring. And in the track THE PLAN the composer displays her ample talents for fashioning action music that hits the spot. This is one for your collection, Highly, recommended, No CD as yet, but we live in hope that maybe in the New Year it will be available, for now it is on various digital platforms.

THE LEGEND OF THE WAR HORSE.

 

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Recently I reviewed a few soundtracks that were music for theatre productions, which was a first for me, today I discovered a soundtrack that was written for an open air play, set in Mongolia THE LEGEND OF THE WAR HORSE focuses upon a Mongolian soldier who leaves his home and family to fight to protect them. The film or play features hundreds of horses and a number of aerial set pieces, to match the exciting and highly dramatic storyline composers Anne Kathrin Dern and Daniel James have collaborated to create a score that is not emotive and touching, but as one would expect contains grandiose and epic action compositions, which are fast paced and powerful, but are also at all times rich with a wonderful thematic quality. The score contains a number of cues that incorporate traditional sounds and also folk instrumentation from Mongolia, which adds authenticity to the proceedings. Particularly effective and haunting is the use of Matougin which is the earthy and at times quite unsettling sound of throat singing, which can be heard straight away in the first track INTRO or at least a fleeting performance of it as it soon gives way to a beautiful lilting theme performed by strings before returning to be accompanied by the strings to realise a superbly affecting opening. The action pieces, however, are in the style of epic film scores and at times evoke memories of the work of Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and more recently Hans Zimmer and even to a degree James Newton Howard. This is evident from the off in track number two, CAVALRY, strings and percussive elements combining with a scattering of brass to launch us head on into the score, choir is added and the strings underline its performance before combining again with brass to fashion an exhilarating and totally exciting composition that is unrelenting in creating a commanding persona but also remaining fully thematic. Track three, HOME is a more down tempo affair, and has to it a lilting and alluring sound created via strings, wood wind and ethnic instrumentation, however it also retains a western film score style, the composers combining both to achieve an effective sound. Track four, is just a rollercoaster ride musically with symphonic combining with Matoguin, in a fast paced and driving composition, with strings pushing the piece forwards underlined by percussion and further embellished by brass, it is more than powerful it is a potent and dominant piece that is a formidable musical force.

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I have to admit I love these action scores and also am a big fan of the use of ethnic instrumentation and traditional sounds and music, and THE LEGEND OF THE WAR HORSE is a score that I am sure has something for everyone, it oozes drama, romance and there are even comedic sounding interludes scattered throughout. Above all it’s a soundtrack that fans will listen to and not see the need to reach for the fast forward if you know what I mean, it is a consuming and entertaining score, that I for one will be returning to a few times today. Take a listen to track number seven HORSE RACE for example, and you are there in the thick of it, racing along and loving every second of it. Track number nine too is a favourite of mine, THE WOMEN DANCE PART 1, Is I cannot help thinking maybe even a kind of western homage or at least western film flavours can be heard within it that Elmer Bernstein would have been proud of.  And tracks such as SWEET BREEZE, TWO LOVERS and PASSION are totally captivating and charmingly attractive. Released on digital platforms by Movie Music Media, let us hope it will not be long before a record label picks this grand sounding work up and releases it on compact disc. This is a score that demands you listen and also commands a CD release.  recommended.

THE ROOM and THE SPY.

 

I love the cello, it is an instrument that has so much heart and conveys an array of emotions, It can be sombre and dark, romantic and light and can and often does bring a tear to the eye of many when used in certain situations and scenarios in film. The score for THE ROOM by Raf Kuenen is a good example of the effectiveness of the instrument and the way that it can create and fashion a great many moods and conjure up atmospheres that linger and affect. THE ROOM is a sci-fi thriller and the majority of the score is synthetic and for the most part atonal, the composer realising dark and sinister soundscapes, but within these at times ominous sounding passages we are treated to little ripples of respite in the form of heart rending and sorrowful cello, fragmented and delicate piano, charming otherworldly shimmers and melancholy which is purveyed beneath a veil of sinister sounding effects via piano and cello. At times I was reminded of the work of composer Christopher Young in the HELLRAISER movies, where there is an undeniably fearsome persona present, but still in the background or underneath the malevolent atmospheres there is the sound of hope and respite in the form of a lilting melody that although is overpowered by the dark forces is still managing to be heard. THE ROOM is a masterful work that oozes fearful sounds that are musical and otherwise, it is at times a difficult listen, with its harsh and jagged crashes and slices, but the melodic content shines through to give us an interesting and enriching work. The other score released tat this time by Raf Kuenen, is THE SPY which like THE ROOM is released digitally on Movie Score Media. I do like it when a composer has two scores released so close together and especially when they are from two different types of movies, Why? well it displays the versatility of the composer and also their flexibility and ability to create varying moods and sounds. THE SPY is totally removed from THE ROOM both in the genre sense and musically, the composer on this occasion provided us with a more thematic score, and also one that is I would say more symphonic in its overall musical make up. This time the composer utilising a more symphonic approach, with the use of strings, solo violin and piano, yes, there are passages of music that are realised via electronic means, but the two mediums as in symphonic and synthetic are fused together seamlessly and compliment and support each other throughout, So two scores from different genres which both work effectively and are worth checking out.

DARK ENCOUNTER.

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Filled with a foreboding and a virulent musical persona, I think best describes the latest score from composer David Stone Hamilton. DARK ENCOUNTERS is released by Movie Score Media on digital platforms. No compact disc has been announced as yet, but I am confident once record labels hear just how good this score is, they will be clambering to have it out and in their catalogues. Firstly, I must warn you that this score is as the title suggests Dark and shadowy, fearsome and foreboding and downright scary in places. I sat and listened to it through headphones the other night and it literally freaked me out, the writing is so expressive and descriptive, it conjures up all sorts of sinister and unsettling feelings. Let’s just say whilst listening to track three, LIGHTS IN THE SKY I took off the headphones and looked around the house as it was just so affecting it completely spooked me. The composer utilises swirling and sinewy strings to great effect and a solo piano performance which although quite pleasant still manages to purvey a certain uneasiness because it is a simple and subtle nuance that is being integrated into the track, which I suppose lulls one into a false sense of security, all the time one thinks ok this is going to move into a nice little theme with a lilting nuance, But No. The composer adds to this voices that at first are quite unassuming, these then grow in strength and volume, and are I think distorted when recorded and supported by percussion and strings, these are mind boggling and the percussion becomes a beating heart which has an increasing rhythm as the track progresses, the piece then bursts into an onslaught of harrowing and increasingly urgent sounds that peak and suddenly come to a halt, leaving this listener at least a little frazzled and somewhat startled. The voices return at key moments within the score and on each entry become even more sinister and harrowing. Track number four FOREST ENCOUNTER for example, is a nearly eight-minute exercise in how to rattle someone listening to a piece of music, again it starts out melodic and emotive, piano and strings combining to fashion a warm and pleasant introduction. But and I know there is always a but isn’t there, it soon alters into a darker more ominous sounding piece, the strings change direction from melodic to threatening, choir is introduced initially this sounds welcoming or even celestial, but then the strings step up and underline more choral work, which too has turned darker in its sound, the track then becomes quieter, but this is not going to last, the composer introduces voices and sounds which herald a harsher dimension to the piece.
Do you remember by chance a BBC TV series entitled CHILDREN OF THE STONES well that had a choral theme which was just so scary and David Stone Hamilton succeeds in instilling fear and panic with his work on this film via the use of both voices and symphonic flourishes that can at times contain a poignant and emotive aura, but these are often just a pre-cursor or foundation for the dissonant and atonal pieces, it is a superb score, and looking at a few of the scenes from the movie the film too looks interesting, with lots of jumps, jolts and scares. The score is in my opinion one of the most innovative of this year, and there are I think nods to the work of John Williams when he scored CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, as in the swirling and atonal strings that sweep in and out of proceedings creating a foundation for at times manic and possessed sounding voices. Which are present throughout and certainly make their presence felt in tracks such as THEY’RE IN THE BASEMENT and REPERCUSSIONS. This is an excellent score. Recommended.