I want to start soundtrack supplement forty by mentioning just briefly the score for the new sci-fi movie Cosmoball, which has a magnificent soundtrack penned by Italian born composer and pianist Tony Neiman, let it suffice to say that it is well worth checking out, and available on digital platforms.
A full review will be here on MMI soon And an interview with the composer. So eatch for this.
So on with soundtrack supplement forty (yes forty) and it’s still a busy time for soundtrack releases, and there are so many new composers emerging as well as talented filmmakers. I hopefully will include some of the more interesting soundtracks here, and maybe be successful in pointing you in the right direction or at least giving you a recommendation or two as well as drawing your attention to a handful that you just might have missed.
Jermaine Stegall (Proximity 2020 and, Jamesy Boy 2014) is a young composer who in my opinion will become very, very, busy in the not-too-distant future, and hopefully we will be seeing his name on more of the credits of both TV and feature films, plus hopefully hearing more of his scores on CD and digital platforms. His most recent score is for the highly anticipated Amazon original movie Coming to America 2, which is such a great listen, the composer combines ethnic voices and rhythms with orchestral score, and this is a formula that I love and it works wonderfully. The score is so good in the movie but also away from the film the music remains entertaining and highly infectious.
The composers use of percussive elements is stunning, and for me is the focal point of the soundtrack, however, add to this the affecting and driving orchestral backgrounds and what we have here is probably one of the top scores thus far of 2021. The composer seems to have put everything he possible could into this score, with its highly rhythmic sound and its edgy but at the same mischievous style, it is something that I know many of us will take to straight away.
Tracks on the soundtrack such as Celebration are just wild and motivating with percussion only being the instrumentation. This is a soundtrack I could listen to all day long and I mean all day long and not tire of it. Highly recommended.
Another wonderful score is for the Disney plus documentary Secrets of Whales which is a four-part series narrated by Sigourney Weaver and directed by James Cameron. The score is by Raphaelle Thibaut, and it is one that you should own and cherish. Her music is enchanting and delicate in places, with fragile sounding tone poems making their presence felt throughout, it is a fusion of synthetics and symphonic, with the electronic elements being supportive of the more conventional instrumentation and both sections working harmoniously together in a collaboration that is stunning and haunting.
The work is totally absorbing, with the composer creating beautiful and affecting interludes, where the richness of the thematic material shines through to engulf and mesmerize the listener. For me it evokes the sound achieved by both Ennio Morricone and Vangelis, with the composer combining so many colors and textures and then adding them from her musical palette to the film like delicate brushstrokes to canvas. There is beauty and tenderness purveyed here that is rarely heard these days in film scoring, which she combines eloquently with an epic and inspiring sound. Again recommended.
The score for Traidores, is released on the Plaza Mayor label and available on digital platforms, the music is by composer Jose Sanchez Sanz, who has woven an at times quite complex but varied work, there are a number of themes within the score, but these are at times I think understated, and this style and tempo is the order of the day here, but just because they are not epic sounding or grand does not mean they are not entertaining and also effective, at times I think understated and near atonal cues are just as rewarding in the listening department as epic and romantic sounding soundtracks and this is certainly the case here. The composer has created a tense and dramatic score, that relies upon strings as in a small ensemble or solo performances to convey the apprehensive and at times awkwardness of the movie’s storyline, nonetheless this is a powerful score, it supports without overwhelming and adds atmosphere and depth to an already compelling story, and the composer also manages to relay a sense of vulnerability via his sparse and slight compositions. Try it out its on all digital platforms.
Mortal Kombat has a score by Benjamin Wallfisch, and I have to say it’s a score that I can take or leave, again there seems to be nothing whatsoever that is original here, there is nothing that says this is a Wallfisch score as it could easily be Junkie XL or Hans Zimmer, for me this is a bunch of noise, which granted does at times break into thematic material, but it has that grating factor, where most of us think Enough and either turn it off or move it on, Sorry this one is not for me, but its available on digital platforms so please do have a listen and make up your own mind. I wish that the composer would return to a more thematic style and stop this drone like soundscape work he has served up recently. But like I say its just personal taste and this is not mine, and who knows maybe the movie’s producers wanted this?
Let’s go back a little way shall we with a score that you might well have missed. Master of the World was a movie that starred Vincent Price, Charles Bronson and Henry Hull. The musical score was by American composer, arranger, and conductor Les Baxter. This is in my opinion one of Baxter’s more melodic scores and contains an avalanche of themes which are rich and luxurious. The soundtrack first appeared on the Vee Jay record label back in 1961. I always remember the gloriously colorful album cover, which thankfully has been retained on the various re-releases that have been made available, selections of the score is now available on digital platforms as Les Baxter at the Movies vol 1, along with selections from other Baxter scores such as Fall of the House of Usher, The Raven, The man With the X Ray eyes, Black Sabbath, Black Sunday, Goliath and the Barbarians, and Tales of Terror.
The sound on this release is wonderfully rich as in the old days when recordings were all in mono, and this compilation has to be a perfect introduction to anyone who is not familiar with the dramatic yet melodic style of Baxter. Master of the World for me was like a slightly darker version of Around the World in Eighty Days by Victor Young, with Baxter creating so many lush and expressive themes, that it is sometimes hard to believe that all this music came from just one film score. The track Flight Concerto is breathtaking and beautiful, with other cues such as The Mountains and The Overture (remember those), standing out.
This collection is a must have and I know that once heard you will be looking for the full scores of each and everyone of them. The full soundtrack album of Master of the World is also available on digital platforms and is the same line up as the original Vee Jay LP record from 1961 which is a total of twelve tracks. But the sound quality of this edition is a little worn out, and dull with a chattering throughout, but if you can get by this the score still shines and is stupendously entertaining, and one gets to experience Baxter at his inventive best with cues such as The Albatross, The Balloon Waltz and Topage, which is possibly the most appealing cue on the score.
Certainly one for your collection, vintage film music at its best and whilst you are there why not check out the abundance of Baxter releases that are both film related and exotica and easy listening, there is a whole world of sounds to discover or re-discover which ever applies to you personally. And just a thought when having a look around these digital sites also type in Henry Mancini and go to his score for Hatari, another masterful soundtrack from the 1960’s. Released in 1962,
Hatari was a vehicle for John Wayne, but turned out to be a popular movie with Mancini’s great soundtrack helping matters along nicely matters with the infectious opening theme which is heavy on percussion and the stand out cue from the score and even now still a familiar tune with many Baby Elephant Walk like many of his scores the composer combining jazz influences with romantic tones, easy listening flourishes and dramatic passages.
Then there is some classic Ennio Morricone, in the form of a seventeen-track edition of Escalation, which includes far more music than the original CAM CD release, I think its always good to go back and re-discover past scores, by composers living or by those that have passed away. Escalation was written at a particularly fruitful time in the composer’s career which was in the 1960’s through to the mid 1970’s. Escalation was released in 1968 and contains the sounds and style that the Maestro had effectively invented and developed. It is a fusion of pop or soft rock, Sitar performances, experimental sounds both musical and otherwise, and neo classical interludes, which are blended with romantic and dramatic orchestral colors. Certainly, worth a listen and even if you already have it why not treat yourself and listen again.
Back a new release and to a score by Howard Shore, Pieces of a Woman. This is a Netflix film, and contains a truly exquisite soundtrack from the composer. It is filled with fragility, emotion, and poignancy and oozing with lilting and haunting themes that seem to just trickle over the listener stirring deep thoughts of romance, melancholy, and solitude. The composer utilizing solo piano to purvey all these senses fashioning an effective and affecting soundtrack. The piano performances are at times supported and enhanced by woods or strings giving them even an even greater emotional impact. Highly Recommended.
Also worth a mention is Clint Mansell’s dark and somber soundtrack for In the Earth, I say somber, but it is in fact a highly creative, brooding, and inventive, the composer using a largely electronic line up to bring his musical notions to fruition.
Also take a listen to Joseph Trapanese’s recent work on the Netflix TV series Shadow and Bone, which is mysterious, and startling, being filled with a sinister undertone that is dark and malevolent but at the same time slightly mischievous.
Then we have the shifting moody music of Andrew Piland, who has recently scored These Streets We Haunt, this is an atmospheric work, that is one moment shadowy and foreboding and then in the next instant becomes a more melodic and thematic score that has these pockets of subdued romanticism and emotive interludes. Again, worth checking out.
30 Monedas has a soundtrack that has been penned by talented Spanish film music composer Roques Banos, this is not just an atmospheric work but is also a powerful one, with the composer combining rich orchestral sounds with choir to yield sinewy, urgent, and driving passages. Available on digital platforms, so just go click on it and be amazed.
Talking of being amazed also take a listen to the 2015 score for the video game Battlecry, music is by composing duo Two Steps from Hell or Nick Phoenix and Thomas Bergersen, which is superb, if you like grand musical statements and epic sounding compositions this is for you. The thing is it not only delivers in these departments but is also filled with rich and theme led pieces, it is in a word Outstanding and is the kinf=d of score that you will listen to through once or twice and then return to it again and again. Check it out on Spotify today.