Tag Archives: Philippe Jakko

ENEMY LINES.

 

The genre of the war film has always for some reason been a popular one. During the 1950’s and 1960’s many films had musical scores that at times were indeed as memorable or even more enduring than the memory of the films they were written for. In fact, it was not always the scores but mainly the theme that either opened or closed the movie that was the musical item that made people remember such films as 633 SQUADRON, WHERE EAGLES DARE and their like. In recent years there have been numerous war movies, taking their storylines from true events or fictional ones from many different wars let us face it there have been enough of them. But one thing that has been missing in the more recent productions is a score or a theme that the audience can identify with, a tune or a phrase even that they can latch onto and maybe even hum or whistle as they leave the cinema. The trend being for a composer to write largely a no thematic work, and place drone like soundscapes onto the film, ok in some cases it works as in DUNKIRK which although I have to say I hated the score did bring a sense of tension and a raised mood of apprehension and even hope to the proceedings. But other than the re-working of NIMROD I the closing minutes of the movie ther was no real theme, was there?

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ENEMY LINES is a 2020 fairly-low budget movie, but the small budget has not in any way discouraged the composer Philippe Jakko from producing a stirring and highly emotive sounding work. The films story is set in the frozen war-torn landscape of Poland during the second world war. The story centres on a group of highly trained commandos who are sent into Nazi occupied territory to bring out a rocket scientist. Directed by Anders Banke and featuring in the lead roles John Hannah, Ed Westwick, Jean-Marc Birkholz, Pawel Delag and Vladimir Epifantsev. The music is largely symphonic and has to it a bittersweet sound that is not only inspiring, and action led in parts but also contains a deep and affecting element of fragility and poignancy. Although a war movie the composer fashions a rich and emotionally vibrant soundtrack, strings and brass working together to create tensions and purveying a more romantically slanted or pastoral sound on other occasions within the score. This for me was a wonderful listening experience from start to finish, the composers eloquent and delicate touch in places yielding an affecting sound, plaintive woods also come into the equation throughout and convey a sense of solitude as well as melancholy.

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It is a score that I have to say please go and check out, as because of the COVID 19 situation the films premiere or screenings have for the moment been postponed, it is one of those soundtracks that you go into not really knowing what to expect, but once you begin to listen it is hard to stop and once you have listened through the soundtrack you feel compelled to go back and start again. On this occasion not to hear again what the music is like but to savour and appreciate it even more and appreciate the themes that the composer has created for the work, yes themes, this is a score that has them and they are haunting, effective and welcomed by this reviewer at least. Ok, there maybe not be a strident or bombastic sounding central theme or march that dominates or suddenly jumps out at the listener, but what there is here is plenty of soul and certainly lots of musical heart the composer writing in at times a low key way but this style becomes powerful and commanding because it is not intrusive but supportive. The action led pieces for example: AMBUSH PT 1, is certainly filled with tension and oozes drama, but there is also present an underlying sound that is less forceful and creates a sound that is patriotism and determination personified. THE CHASE too is an up-tempo affair, with strings and brass working together punctuated and supported by percussion to add a greater sense of urgency. The track MOTHERS DEATH, is a wonderfully mesmeric and beguiling cue, filled with so much emotion, so much sadness. Thus, conveying a yearning and a heartfelt sense of sorrow and loss.

 

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Track 13 LOVE, too is hauntingly beautiful, with harp opening and then passing the piece to the strings and solo piano, which is a combination and performance that you cannot possibly listen to without becoming involved in the moment and emotionally entangled. This I know is a soundtrack that so many collectors will adore, the music has to it a contemporary feel but also contains a sound and style that is from bygone days of movie scores. It is a work that you will return to many times.

 

 

 

 

I have to say I have been following the work of this composer since hearing his score for the movie QUE D’AMOUR, which is also a work you should as a discerning film music collector check out alongside LE COUER EN BRAILLE and ALLIES.

 

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ENEMY LINES is a Movie Score Media release and is available on digital platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify. Recommended.

 

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KAUFMAN’S GAME.

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One of the latest releases from the Movie Score Media label is KAUFMAN’S GAME by composer Philippe Jakko. This is in my opinion an accomplished work, which is tense and brooding throughout, it has to it a harrowing and taught persona with an atmosphere and sense of foreboding around every corner. The composer very cleverly orchestrates and arranges the score, using a mix of symphonic and synthetic styles both of which fuse seamlessly together to fashion and yield some interesting musical moments. KAUFMAN’S GAME is not a score filled with lush themes or subtle tone poems, although it does still include thematic material that develops as the work unfolds or comes from out of nowhere within a cue that is largely atonal in its makeup, the composer establishing a brief tranquil moment within an atmosphere of apprehension and uncertainty and thus highlighting a moment within the movie that maybe takes audiences by surprise because of the way in which it has been scored. But for the majority of its running time it is a tense affair that is riddled with sounds both musical and otherwise that meld together to create a rich dark mood, that tantalises and intrigues the listener. The music for the film is filled with a shadowy ambience, that the composer employs wonderfully throughout, his music is filled with colours and textures that conjure up an unsettling feeling, he also utilises the leit motive method to great effect, and we have themes or sounds for certain characters within the storyline. These are hints of themes and fragments of melodies, which wander in and out of the proceedings and do not out stay their welcome. I love scores such as this, and this is a work that is an incredibly rewarding listening experience, the composer building certain sections of the score with layers of sounds which slowly intertwine and then melt into each other. KAUFMAN’S GAME has a maturity to it and a sharpness, it is an alluring and haunting work that I am confident you will enjoy.

 

 

THE COMPOSER ON THE SCORE.

MMI. The score for KAUFMANS GAME is a harrowing one, and oozes tension and anxiety, but I also noticed that you managed to Develop fragments of themes and include motifs throughout, the cue THE BOXER for example, suddenly yields a wonderful short lived themeatic moment, are themes important to you within a score?

 

P.J. Exactly, it’s fragments of themes/melodies which I used as leit motiv It was a technique which appeared in late XIXe operas especially Wagner and Debussy. Why? Because it was a narrative way to characterise ideas, characters … without being too obvious. This is what I needed in Kaufman s game – classic long and developed themes didn’t work with the film – something more mysterious, eerie was better – and I didn’t want to do like tv series electro/ ambient composer are doing often nowadays: just texture, ambiance without theme. The leit motive technique is perfect for that but as far as I know , composers don’t use it really or are not aware of it , or don’t know history of music enough maybe … anyway , so there are two leit motiv in that film : the soft piano in quick arpeggio ( start of the boxer / Stanley in the building / / start of Kaufman / Stanley on the bridge.It’s Stanley leit motiv : it expresses his tormented personality , he is a kind of lost guy , not bad but one who is looking for a path. The second leit motiv is the electro bass we hear this more or less every time we see the Mafia guys on screen, or the music is used to suggest that they are around in a similar way in which John Williams utilised his shark theme in JAWS.

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MMI. Did the director have any fixed ideas about the music?

 

P.J. I scored the film three years ago now, it was a young director, a student movie, and it took three years to find a distribution company.

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MMI. Is the score totally electronic or fusion of both symphonic and synthetic?

P.J. There is a small twenty-five-piece orchestra, with the bass being the vintage MOOG synth, and a couple of electronic sounds like analog pads for example to get the atmospheric sounds, but it has real orchestra, real cello performances by my good friend Eve Marie from the LSO. There is also Cristal Baschet sounds as well, I love weird ambiances, I was Taught by Pierre Boulez at IRCAM music research centre in Paris when I was a student, don’t misunderstand me, I love melodies too, but this movie did not need them.

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QUE D’AMOUR.

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Philippe Jakko began his musical career as a composer of Ballets and also writing music for the theatre, he has also an impressive list of hit songs to his name. As well as being a gifted composer he also is an accomplished musician and conductor. So why have we not really heard much of his music until now? Maybe we just have not been looking or listening hard enough. My first encounter with his music came last year(2014) when I heard his score for ALLIES after this I was recommended to listen to his music for the film QUE D’AMOUR which was directed by Valerie Donzelli in 2013, what struck me immediately was the maturity and also the inventiveness of his writing on this particular project, his gift for melody and also his ability to create moving and haunting thematic material is stunning and obvious. The score for QUE D’AMOUR is in many ways similar to the style that fellow French composer Georges Delerue employed on a number of his film scores, but in fact there is so much more to the style and also the sound that Jakko has created for this soundtrack. I love the way that the composer combines strings with woodwind and also delicately adds harpsichord, vibes and piano in places to augment and infuse a certain fragility to the proceedings. There is also a definite nod or homage to Delerue in track number 17, FINAL ALLA DELERUE which evokes the style of the great French composer especially when he collaborated with filmmakers such as Francois Truffaut and Jean Luc Godard, there is a Baroque style present and also one that is filled to overflowing with simple but affecting writing. The compact disc opens with the free spirited and exuberant composition, RUE DE LA PAIX, strings build and introduce to the listener a pleasant and slightly up-tempo piece performed by the aforementioned strings that are later joined and supported by wistful sounding flute that is interspersed with delicate and subtle flourishes from the harpsichord. It is a brief but enjoyable piece that sets the scene wonderfully for the remainder of Jakko,s score, tantalising string lines are combined throughout the work with t times melancholy sounding woods and underlined perfectly by childlike xylophone. This is a score that you should own a triumph a delight and I hope that there will be many more to come from this highly talented and inventive composer.

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