“Refined but Brutal, Civilized but Merciless”- The King’s Man Saga
• Matthew Margeson - Scoring Kingsman: The Secret Service & Kingsman: The Golden Circle Previously unpublished 2017 Interview by Randall D. Larson
• Matthew Margeson & Dominic Lewis
Scoring THE KING’S MAN New Interview by Randall D. Larson
Overviews: Soundtrack Reviews:
BEING THE RICARDOS/Pemberton (Lakeshore), BLUE VELVET Deluxe Edition/Badalamenti (Varese), THE BUREAU OF MAGICAL THINGS/Aplin (Private), CAPTAIN SCARLET & THE MYSTERONS/Gray (Silva Screen), DEEP BLUE SEA 3/Kilian (Notefornote), DON’T GO INTO THE HOUSE/Richard Einhorn/HOLIDAY HELL/Semih Tareen/GOOD TIDINGS/JeanMichelNoir (Liam Ashcroft)/Howlin’ Wolf – CD, ENCANTO/Franco & Miranda (Disney), FRIDAY THE 13TH Ultimate Cut/Manfredini (La-La Land), GLI OCCHIALI D’ORO/Morricone (Caldera), IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE/Tiomkin (La-La Land), JULIA/Portman (Lakeshore), KING RICHARD/Bowers (WaterTower), HAWKEYE Vol. 1/Beck & Paraskevas (Marvel), THE MATRIX: RESURRECTIONS/Klimek & Tykwer/WaterTower, L’AFFAIR BOVARY/Mathevon (Plaza Mayor), LE PROFESSIONNEL+LE MARGINAL/ Morricone (Music Box), LEGEND/Goldsmith (Music Box ), POWER OF THE DOG/Greenwood (Lakeshore), THE SHADOW IN MY EYE/Beltrami, Torjussen & Sanders (MovieScore Media), SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME/Giacchino (Sony), TEARS IN RAIN - Forsaken Themes From Fantastic Films, Vol. 1/Various (Perseverance), WELCOME TO EARTH/Pemberton (Disney), THE WITCHER Season 2/Trapanese (Milan)
Plus Film & TV Music, Documentary, Vinyl Soundtracks & Game Music News
Composers Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson reunited to co-compose 20th Century Fox’s spy action adventure, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015). Starring Oscar® winning Colin Firth and Michael Caine, Oscar® nominated Samuel L. Jackson, and newcomer, Taron Egerton, the story follows a veteran secret agent (Firth) who takes a young protégé (Egerton) under his wing. The composing duo, who previously co-composed KICK-ASS 2, created an action score that incorporates both heroism and emotional undertones of our young protagonist. Though this is only their second film they have co-composed, Margeson and Jackman have worked on several films together including CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. With KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (2017), director Matthew Vaughn led an A-list cast with Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, and Mark Strong, along with franchise newcomers Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges. Here’s the storyline for the sequel: “When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. This new adventure tests their agents’ strength and wits to the limit.” For the original film’s score, the composers adopted a British espionage musical approach. For the sequel, a big orchestral Brit espionage musical orchestral approach is used but since the British spies are coming to America and specifically Kentucky, the composers wanted a unique musical language to convey that region so original bluegrass music was also written into the nearly two-hour score.
Q: Briefly, what brought you into the film scoring world?
Matthew Margeson: I’ve always had an interest in music from a really young age; from five or six I started playing the piano, and when I was in my teens I worked at a video rental store – back when there were video rental stores. It wasn’t a big Blockbuster or anything, it was a small mom & pop community rental store, and so there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic coming in, so as an employee there we just got to sit and watch movies during our shift, so I think that kind of spawned my interest in film music. I went to University for film music, then I went to Berklee College of Music which had a film music composition program, and after that I made my way out to Los Angeles, and the rest is history!
Watch the trailer for KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE:
Q: KINGSMAN THE SECRET SERVICE is one of several scores you’ve done with Henry Jackman. How would you describe your overall process of working with Henry and how the two of you came up with the style and approach to scoring that first KINGSMAN movie?
Matthew Margeson: Director Matthew Vaughn is a big part in the conversation, because it was kind of a trifecta as far as the conversations that we had. Even though Henry and I came up with the themes and the instrumentation, there was a lot of early on conversations with Matthew about the specific type of genre film he wanted to make, what the visuals were going to be, what the pace was going to be, and how he wanted the action to sound. Matthew always wants to give the audience permission to have fun, so there was a lot of those preliminary conversations. The film is a nod to the British espionage genre, so we wanted to always keep that in mind. As far as actually writing the music and coming up with things and different motifs, Henry and I have been working together for a really long time, so we have a really healthy shorthand. At the beginning of that film, specifically, I can remember the two of us sitting on one piano bench coming up with these ideas and playing them over the speaker phone, having Matthew Vaughn six thousand miles away in the UK, bouncing ideas off of him and seeing how he thought things played out. It was a really healthy collaboration.
Watch the trailer to KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE:
Q: The second film, KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, has a different tone because it takes place in America rather than in the UK. How did your approach shift and get modified for this second adventure?
Matthew Margeson: It’s a continuation of where we left off, so the Americana influence in the music for the sequel doesn’t really show itself until twenty or thirty minutes into the movie. At the beginning of the movie we still live in that British spy world. Then it was discovering the Americana roots – what are those components that remind us of that type of music? We had some ideas listening to some Copland and using some of these triumphant brass arrangements for some of the stuff. One thing Matthew really wanted to try to explore was this Western vibe – the Americans in this movie are essentially contemporary cowboys, if you want to put a pretty simple label on them. So we wanted to bring in some fiddles and acoustic guitar and some banjos, and throw all of those into the cauldron and see what we come up with. We were able to get away with using all of those elements for some of the more noble statements for Jeff Bridges’ character – you do get a lot of these Copland-influenced brass arrangements and proud Americana voicings, things like this. There’s a ton of bluegrass influence and fiddles and dobros and banjos floating around the score as well.
Q: In terms of your thematic pieces that you came up with for the first KINGSMAN film, did any of these translate or adapt into the score for the sequel?
Matthew Margeson: Most of the specifically Kingsman-related themes and motifs are definitely in this world. If anything, we expand upon them quite a bit. We created a world in the first film and the challenge now was to not just reuse that stuff but see what we could do with it if we had more minutes to fill. So there were some different kinds of voicings and different orchestral arrangements for some of these tunes that we’d had from the first movie. I would say there are no themes from the first movie that aren’t at least touched upon in the second film, even if it’s a little bit of a reference or a subtle nod to one of the themes from the first one, under dialogue or something. But most of those memorable films do make an appearance one way or another.
Q: I was totally delighted with the first film and its score – it was a fun film and I loved the way that the music played it so British, so trim and proper. I can imagine the cultural clash that you and Henry came up with for this new one…
Matthew Margeson: That’s definitely a juxtaposition of the two different genres. There’s musical themes and cues in the second film that are one hundred percent in the British world that we’d created and there are cues that are one hundred percent in these Americana/Western things that we’ve coined, and there’s a handful of cues that actually have both in them. The challenge with that was just a matter of degree – how do you put these idioms, these musical devices that have true Americana roots as well as more prim and proper British way of doing things… it took a little bit of trial and error but I think we got there.
Q: How large of an orchestra were you able to use on the new film?
Matthew Margeson: I would say we had about a 70-person orchestra, and then we had lots of overdubs – percussion and drums and, like I said, separate sessions where we were just tracking up fiddles just jamming in a really authentic bluegrass fashion, almost like a hoe-down. For these amazing jam sessions we’d have the players – and these aren’t the orchestral players that play Mozart and Beethoven every day. There’s a really amazing bluegrass band called the Punch Brothers, and one of the guys we got in was their violin player, Gabe Witcher… he and some of these other guys are just monsters with their instruments, so we’d have them come in and do a pass where they’re playing the written part on the page, but then we let the tape run and said, “Just jam and make it yours and have fun!” And those wild takes were sometimes where the most amazing magic happens, musically.
Q: One thing the first film was noted for were these tremendous action sequences – they’re not wild, they’re not quite Michael Bay-ish, but they’re so intense coming out of nowhere, like the bar fight in the beginning and the church fight in Kentucky, that are just amazing. What was your take on scoring the action and helping to energize an already very-energetic sequence?
Matthew Margeson: A very difficult task! I think there’s the inherent problem whenever you’re dealing with a sequel, especially a sequel like KINGSMAN where for the first time, a lot of it’s success was attributed not only to the amazing acting and action and the way it was shot, but part of its success was that no one really expected that movie to be what it was. And so, how do you top that? How do you surprise the audience again? I’m pretty confident in saying that for this film, the scale of everything is just a bit bigger. The action’s just a bit more intense, and it’s just a bit longer and it takes you a bit more to the edge of your seat than the last one did. That’s part of Matthew Vaughn’s stylistic approach to some of these things. It’s a different way of doing things, like you mentioned Michael Bay – I won’t say there’s as many explosions on screen as a TRANSFORMERS film might have, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as viscerally intense. I would say, sometimes when you have something that’s a little bit less wide scope and a bit more visceral and tightened in an intimate fight, if that makes sense, you could get a more intense reaction just because you’re more personally invested into a specific fight or a specific chase. I’m such a big fan of the editing – Eddie Hamilton is Matthew’s editor and has been for the past few films, and what he and Matthew come up with in post on some of these action sequences is just amazing. With all the choreography and these tight edits, and it’s never an instance where they edit the scene and give us the music – we’re always involved in the conversation, and we work collaboratively as far as what’s the tempo of this scene going to be, what’s the pace, where are the big bullet points in this fight where we really want to up the ante? So it’s really a blessing having them always take music into consideration and work on it together. Its really fulfilling doing it that way.
Special thanks to Costa Communications for facilitating this interview – and my apologies to Costa and Matthew Margeson for not being able to publish it until now!
As a collection of history's worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man and his protégé must race against time to stop them.
The third installment in Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman film series, based on the comic book The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, THE KING’S MAN serves as a prequel to 2014’s KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE and 2017’s KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Ralph Fiennes (who also serves as one of the film's executive producers), Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance. THE KING’S MAN was released on 22 December 2021 in RealD 3D, IMAX, 4DX and Dolby Cinema, by 20th Century Studios, delayed several times from an original November 2019 release date, partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new film takes place long before the events of the previous two, serving as a prequel and telling the story of the earliest days of the British organization.
Watch THE KING’S MAN Trailer #4:
Q: Matthew, you’d contributed to the first KINGSMAN movie and then you co-scored the second one with Henry Jackman, and now you’re here with the third film co-scoring with Dominic. What can you tell me about your perspective on scoring this new film and how you worked with Dom to maintain the musical vibe of the series while bringing something new to this prequel, THE KING’S MAN?
Matthew Margeson: The first movie had this hybrid score of symphonic orchestra and electronics and guitars and these modern contemporary elements, which was a nice way to establish a general tone for the KINGSMAN world. And then for the second one we go to Kentucky and so we have this Western influence of fiddles and dobros and banjos floating around just because of the setting of the movie, but we’re still using the same themes, the same harmonic language, and then for this film it’s a little bit more off the beaten path, again because of the nature of the film, setting wise and time-wise. This film predates by over a hundred years the other films, we’re in a proper period piece in World War I, and so we decided to leave all the guitars and synthesizer and drum sets and basses and modern elements with the other two films, and just use, with very, very little exception, the classic Western symphonic orchestra. Character-wise, there’s none of the characters that we’ve come to know and love, Eggsy, and Colin Firth as Harry and Merlin, none of them are in this film, and so we decided it would be a good opportunity to come up with some new themes and some new tunes for the world, but still somehow remaining in the same harmonic language. It was a balancing act of something new and something that we haven’t heard with the KINGSMAN before, but something that still reminds us and still gives us the feeling that we’re in the same world slightly.
Q: Dominic, you’d composed additional music on KINGSMAN THE SECRET SERVICE and now you’ve moved on as co-composer on the third film. How did that come about, and what’s your perspective on where you needed to go on the new movie?
Dominic Lewis: I was in the wings on the first one, so I knew all I had to know about the language and story, and then I obviously watched the second one, I wasn’t a part of the team, but in terms of me being involved I think Matt and I had always wanted to do something together. We were in the wings a lot at Remote Control, writing on a number of scores for other people, and the stars just kind of aligned with this one. Matt was working on ROCKET MAN and things needed to get started on KINGSMAN, so it was sort of decided by Matthew Vaughn that Matt needed a partner for this prequel, and fortunately my name came up. I met Mr. Vaughn and he was aware that I’d done a couple of things on the first movie and, so we just sort of got going. Matt had been with Matthew since before Christmas, working preliminarily on theme stuff, and then we both flew over after Christmas and carried on with coming up with the main theme, and just sort of throwing around musical ideas. It was just really great to do this kind of modernized throwback orchestral score – but it weirdly felt different to do, because we’d been doing hybrid things and trying to be cool and push the envelope, and so it was nice to go back to a type of score that where we both kind of got into this world, because old school is why we fell in love with this genre.
Q: The second KINGSMAN movie was a step-up, action wise, from the first one. With THE KING’S MAN being a prequel, how did the film both portray the origin of the agency while also supporting the amping up of the franchise?
Matthew Margeson: I think, musically speaking, there’s this kind of pretty simple and catchy main KINGSMAN theme from the first movie, and I think we decided right off the bat that we were going to be pretty disciplined about where we used that in this film, just because we didn’t want to paint this whole entire thing with the previous KINGSMAN theme, because in this film the Kingsman agency is really nothing, until the very end of the film. So at the very beginning it opens up with the logo, the “K” with the circle, and that is where we would have a very simple exposition of the main theme from the previous films, and then we wouldn’t hear it again for the rest of the movie, or if we were it wouldn’t be until the very end of the film. I think we were pretty successful about that – there may be one or two Easter eggs where it slips in, but for the most part I think it was coming up with something completely new. We teased that theme and those motifs that we know from the first couple of films until they really melted together as the story progresses and the agency comes to fruition. So, I think it was nice because we were able to push ourselves to come up with some new material and new musical DNA then.
Dominic Lewis: Totally. And also because when we start the movie, it’s a very different tone for the first act, if not the first act and a half. We don’t get into the real Kingsman-y stuff until the second half of the movie, and so it was an opportunity for us to rely on old-school orchestration and really kind of knuckle down on strong melodies and memorable music. The film kind of dictated that to us, and also because those first two movies had been so hybrid with lots of electronics and guitars with orchestra; this movie would have worked with all that stuff but in order to make it different we decided we’re just going to use the orchestra on this one and let it evolve naturally. So by the time we get to the end of the movie the style of music is a little more modern, for want of a better word. But, yeh, the movie dictated to us where we were going to be, stylistically.
Q: What was your technique as far as working together and combing what you were both doing into a whole for the film?
Dominic Lewis: It was kind of like the olden days, really. We went through the movie, and you take that one, I’ll take this one, and you take that one – and then after we’d done a cue four times and it hadn’t gone through we’d let the other guy have a go! We were in a post-production house in Soho in London and our rooms shared a wall, so while writing the majority of the score we were right next to each other, so we were constantly popping into each other rooms and saying “What do you think of this? I think this could be better,” or “Is this good enough?” or whatever it was. It was very, very collaborative the whole way through, which is very similar to how we would work. In the wings at Remote Control we would constantly be popping into each other’s room and seeing what the other person’s doing, so it was a cool collaborative process to where we really pushed each other. There were no egos, there was no competition, it was all about, how do we end up with the best thing possible? And we were very open to criticism, open to making it the best it could be.
Matthew Margeson: I think one thing that was actually really cool, and this kind of evolved organically, was that usually in the past when we’re working on things together in more of an additional music sense, we’re kind of put into these holes where [we’re told]: Dom, you sort out the emotional stuff, and Matt, you can take care of the action music. And, for whatever reason, that kind of evolved and in this one we were actually able to swap roles. We didn’t even really talk about that, it just kind of happened. And when we were approaching the next section of the film, we’d ask “Which one do you want to take?” So Dom ended up doing quite a bit more of the action on this film and I ended up doing quite a bit more of the conversational and emotional pieces – though not exclusively. That was good because it pushed us out of our comfort zones a little bit, although naturally you’d get a slightly different take on these scenes anyway, because of the new film and the prequel dynamic of it. It’s the same language but the little devices that we would use musically are done a little bit differently, just because it’s coming from a different brain.
Q: How did you treat the character of Rasputin, musically – and what other new themes can you talk about with spoiling anything?
Matthew Margeson: Rasputin was one of the themes that we came up with early on because we felt his character, in the movie, was more at the beginning of the process, and quite a bit of those scenes ended up on the cutting room floor maybe. There is a new tune – we definitely wanted to do this Russian-influenced tune – so we listened to a lot of these traditional Russian dances just to get in that language, and we started recording some traditional instruments like balalaika.
Dominic Lewis: There was a scene that got cut from the movie where Rasputin turns up on The Shepherd’s big mountain and there’s a lift and this guy’s at the bottom and he’s playing the balalaika and this big fight happens and he kills both of them. His theme was meant to be playing on the balalaika, and that had to be filmed, obviously, so we were charged with writing the theme early on. That got cut, so the theme was not used as much as we hoped, but the scene’s online now and you can watch Rasputin’s dance fight. We used the 1812 Overture plus that Rasputin theme, and it was all crazy!
Watch the “Official Rasputin Dance Video” from THE KING’S MAN (some portions do not appear in the movie):
Matthew Margeson: Yeah. Matthew Vaughn always likes to have that juxtaposition of something you know and something that’s a bit beloved. For instance in the first film there’s “Free Bird” in the church scene, and here we have the 1812 Overture. We decided to completely chop it up and remix it and add some choirs which are not in the original and just make it the kind of Vaughn-ized version of 1812, which was a really cool opportunity. The second half of that scene turns into the Rasputin theme, so you have two sandwiches on one plate – you have the 1812 and then our Rasputin theme, and it’s a pretty intense action scene!
Dominic Lewis: It’s like the period way of doing a needle drop. Matthew tried some kind of modern sounds in there and it was just weird with this movie – anything really overtly modern in the film. With all the PR stuff it’s working, but within the movie it just wasn’t sticking, so to get a very well-known, classical piece of music was sort of our way of doing the needle drop in these very stylized fight scenes.
Q: What other thematic ideas are there in the score?
Dominic Lewis: Every one, really. There’s a new Oxford theme, which is Raef’s character, and Harris Dickinson’s Conrad, so that incapsulated the Oxford family…
Matthew Margeson: There’s the new baddie theme which we had to do once or twice over…
Dominic Lewis: That took a while to land on something. And there’s the sort of main, the King’s Man movie theme…
Matthew Margeson: Which has a couple different parts to it. It has an A section and a B section…
Dominic Lewis: Very much derived from the harmony of the first two films.
Matthew Margeson: There’s a lot of motif stuff that float around and come back – the traveling motif for the train scenes…
Dominic Lewis: There’s that comes in at the end. How would you explain that without giving it away?
Matthew Margeson: That’s throwing some seeds down in case there’s a sequel to this film, something that could be used. There’s also a really beautiful moment in the film – it’s the same moment in all three of the KINGSMAN films. You have this opening shot of the street sign of Saville Row, and you pan down where there’s a car driving up on Saville Row, and we’ve used the same exact piece of music at the same tempo in the same key for all three films, and we’ve just treated it slightly different on the setting that were in and what’s going on in the film. Little easter eggs like that are hidden around but for the most part it’s really a lot of new material.
Q: What was your most unusual instrumental palette for this film?
Matthew Margeson: We had balalaika…
Dominic Lewis: We had a bagpipe session at the beginning of all of this, but we took it and used it kind of like drone layers.
Matthew Margeson: We mangled it up a bit, yeah.
Dominic Lewis: But aside from that…
Matthew Margeson: It’s just mostly Western orchestra. Big choir – we had an adult mixed men-and-women choir, and we did have a couple sessions with a boy’s choir.
Dominic Lewis: That was cool, for the stuff in the trenches. There were some really lovely moments with solo trumpet and boy’s choir.
Q: Matt, something that you and I talked about last time was that the KINGSMAN films are known for their increasingly inventive action sequences – without giving away any spoilers, how did you musically enhance or support any of these kinds of sequences in THE KING’S MAN?
Matthew Margeson: The silent knife fight is probably the only one that’s a bit unconventional. There’s a really cool set piece in the middle which we’ve dubbed the Silent Knife Fight. The basis of it is that there’s the English Army and the German Army and they’re both in the trenches looking at each other and it’s in the middle of the night in complete darkness, and they know if they start firing their guns at each other that both of the reserves on the sidelines and just going to start bombing where they are, so they have to have this knife fight in complete silence so both sides, without saying a word to each other. That’s the one moment in the film where we broke the mold as far as being disciplined about just using the Western orchestra. We recorded some orchestra bits and put it through some guitar amps to distort them and chopped them up and spun them around to make it as disorienting as we could. The rest of the action in the third act is really intense but it is a bit more conventional in the traditional orchestra sense.
Dominic Lewis: As we moved further through the film, especially with the action stuff, we moved more towards a modern way of using the orchestra, more kind of like ostinato and a more visceral use of the orchestra, whereas at the beginning of the movie we’re being quite floral and quite traditional and throwback-y with our orchestration. Other than that silent knife fight and the Rasputin dance fight, it’s fairly traditional. But it was cool enough to look at without all the bells and whistles, musically; we could just focus on story and focus on character development.
Q: I can imagine it’s pretty amazing to listen to as well!
Dominic Lewis: Yeah! There’s actually a fight at the end where we had this fight between sound effects and music. Matthew really loved the music but he also wanted to hear a lot of the sword stuff going on. The cue almost got thrown out because it was this whole kind of sonic thing where we had to keep the clashing of the swords, so it was how do we do that orchestrationally to get out of the way of certain sonics within the sound effects. We had to match that or get out of the way of that with the music. That was kind of the only real maneuvering we were doing as opposed to creating cool noises to go along with the scenes.
Q: Lastly I just want to ask about a few other projects each of you have done recently. Dom, you’ve scored PETER RABBIT 2 THE RUNAWAY, the sequel to the 2018 movie you’d also scored. What can you tell me about scoring these films?
Dominic Lewis: It was really cool to do a sequel. I’d never done one before and it was nice that a lot of the melodic theme writing had already been done, since I’d already done the first one. It was more just expanding the world of the rabbits and the animals as they go to Gloucester. It’s more of a city environment and they get involved with some street animals. In the first movie I’d used a lot of garden tools and pots and things as my percussion, which may be a little on the nose, but it seemed to work, so I thought I’d run with that and use garbage cans and other sort of street elements as my percussion on this one. There were a couple of new themes, and it was a really nice, easy experience having worked with Will Gluck on the first one. He’d loved the music from the first one so it was about getting it a little bigger, more cinematic at the end.
Q: Matthew, you’d recently scored a Netflix film for Rachal Talaley called A BABYSITTER’S GUIDE TO MONSTER HUNTING? What can you tell me about scoring this project?
Matthew Margeson: It’s a pretty traditional hybrid score. It was my first time doing something that… the hardest part about that film was the balance, because it’s a kids’ film, ultimately, for a very specific demographic. Coming off of doing things like KINGSMAN and ROCKET MAN with more serious, adult content, my biggest problem with that was that the music I was writing was just a bit too scary! The big notes from Netflix were that we just need to sand things down a ways. It’s a really cool little film, it was my first time working with Netflix, so it was nice to be in that family for a bit. The performances are great. The movie is out on Netflix now and is doing quite well.
Q: Dominic, I really enjoyed the film JOLT – how did you approach scoring the film as an action thriller in which Kate Beckinsale’s character’s intermittent explosive disorder led to some tremendous action moments?
Dominic Lewis: It’s just a whacky movie! I just got rid of all the rules and started writing stuff that was crazy and electronic, mixing all kinds of genres from hip-hop to rock to orchestral to whatever it was. I was basically throwing stuff into my computer and seeing if it worked, with a view to writing stuff that I really enjoyed and would be a bit crazy. Her character is so nuts and she can snap at any moment so I wanted the non-orchestral elements to have those qualities to them. There’s a lot of distortion, there’s a lot of weird electronic bitcrush, and all kinds of wild stuff. I got to write a couple of songs for it too, and it was just a really enjoyable experience. The handcuffs were off and it was just “Do what you want,” which is always a nice place to be creatively, because often times it’s “we want it to sound a bit like this, and we want this, and we to make sure it isn’t this.” This was just, like, “we want what you do,” and I just threw caution to the wind and went with it and came up with a wild, whacky thing.
Q: Matthew – what’s next for you that you can talk about?
Matthew Margeson: I just finished a limited series for Hulu called PAM AND TOMMY, which is based on the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee saga of the late ‘90s, and that was a real treat to work on. There’s two main storylines, one is their whirlwind relationship of meeting, getting married a couple weeks later, and the unfortunate sex scandal – the sex tape they had taped and was stolen from them and was released – and how that, I would say, gave Tommy Lee a bit of a renaissance in his career – he was kind of an aging rock star – Motley Crue wasn’t doing much at the time, and it all of a sudden put him back on the map. Then it probably did the opposite for Pamela Anderson as a woman in that time; having this thing released didn’t have quite as positive a result in her life and career. That’s the one storyline but the other one is the journey of this Hi-8 video tape that was stolen from them and how that was digitized and became the first celebrity viral scandal video ever. It was right around the time where the Internet was evolving from these paid services like Compuserve and Prodigy and America Online to just everyone using Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, and these things that were just like an open source video so that once the tape went viral, it went viral. To emulate that in music was a lot of fun! The score evolves from using a lot of VHS sounds for percussion – little bits of tape rewinding and fast-forwarding and then ultimately it evolves into this electronic piece where we’re using a lot of Internet and 56k baud modem sounds and chopping them up and doing cool grooves with them. It was a ton of fun to do! It’s a really interesting story.
Q: Dominic, how about you? I understand you’re scoring a film called BULLET TRAIN next?
Dominic Lewis: Yeah, I’m just finishing that now, after we’re done here I’m heading to the final playback. It’s an amazing, whacky film – very lucky to be working with David Leitch, the director, who I was a big fan of before this. Again I’m getting to write some songs, which is cool. Loads of different genres, it’s all over the place, but really fun. I got to experiment with different recordings – I went to Capitol for three days of the recording trying to emulate the sound of the ‘70s. It’s a crazy kind of assassin movie, a lot of fun – a lot of violence, a lot of comedy. It’s really cool and I can’t wait for people to see it.
The King’s Man opens in theaters on December 22. Special thanks to Alix Becq and Jana Davidoff of Rhapsody PR for facilitating this interview, and to Matthew and Dominic for taking time out of their busy scheduled to chat with me! The interview is lightly edited for clarification.
BEING THE RICARDOS/Daniel Pemberton/Lakeshore Records - digital BEING THE RICARDOS is a 2021 American biographical drama film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, about the relationship between I LOVE LUCY stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. A revealing glimpse of the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship, the film takes audiences into the writers’ room, onto the soundstage and behind closed doors with Ball and Arnaz during one critical production week of their groundbreaking sitcom. Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star as Ball and Arnaz, while J. K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, and Tony Hale co-star. “I felt it needed a kind of classic score that echoed the golden age of Hollywood,” Pemberton told Jon Burlingame in an interview for Variety. “A lot of the story is, in some ways, this dream of a perfect world, which Lucy’s searching for… the perfect home, a husband who is there.” From light melodies to conga-laden riffs in deference to Arnaz’s Cuban roots, Pemberton plays it straight in the same way director Sorkin does – this is a story about comedians but it’s not particularly a comedy; the music deliciously captures the music of the time but primarily provides a sensitive, moving dramatic accompaniment to Sorkin’s portrayal of the characters in their professional and personal relationship. It’s a heartfelt score that, as Burlingame put it, is crafted with nostalgia and wonder. It’s an affecting work, especially in its moving 5-minute finale, “End Of A Dream,” and is another fine example of Pemberton’s sensitivity in uncovering just the right sonic hue to really affect the listener. Watch a video on Twitter from Pemberton’s recording session of the score’s finale, “where [he] actually got the chance to write a theme that could be adapted many ways and finally pay off at the end,” here.
Listen to “The Start of a Dream” from BEING THE RICARDOS:
BLUE VELVET Deluxe Edition/Badalamenti/Varèse Sarabande - CD
Varèse Sarabande Records offers a deluxe edition of Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtrack to David Lynch’s 1986 neo-noir mystery thriller, BLUE VELVET. Lynch’s first collaboration with Badalamenti, who quickly became his longtime composer and musical partner, has always been able to channel Lynch’s unique vision, and evident in this, their first collaboration. Varèse released the soundtrack at the time of the film, a program of songs and score which has been retained as disc one of this 2-CD set—with the addition of the famous 1963 recording of “Blue Velvet,” performed by Bobby Vinton. Disc one concludes with the first Lynch–Badalamenti–Julee Cruise collaboration, the dreamlike “Mysteries of Love.” The film’s main theme unspools into a soft drumroll and opens up into a dark, noir-ish pattern for strings, soon opening into winds with brass fills, an absorbing and unforgettable motif which sets the film’s mood and surely makes the listener relish for more. The score will turn agitated and violent as the story unfolds, often rising with sublime beauty, plummeting into feverish darkness, and engaging into cool, ’50s-styled jazz. Premiering on disc two is an extended program of previously unreleased Badalamenti score: film cues, alternates and outtakes, entitled “Lumberton Firewood,” named after the film’s setting of Lumberton, North Carolina. These tracks, some titled, many simply left with cue-numbers, offer an interesting semblance of jazz takes, unused alternate treatments such as the brief “Dorothy Alone” and the pair of “Ominously Yours” cues, the long “Mount Franks Eruption aka Frank (Film Version Without Clarinet)” variation (aka simply “Frank” on the final soundtrack, samplings of pensive “Organ Toots And Sirens” and other sonic experiments, even fun advertisement songs intended for use in the movie, such as “Lumberton U.S.A. Radio ad,” and the like. It’s a fascinating sampling of score-in-the-making and offers a unique glimpse into where Lynch and Badalamenti were going as they collaborated on what would become a breakthrough and memorable score. “Although BLUE VELVET was scored more traditionally than later Lynch projects, the director and composer intended many tracks to be merely ‘firewood,’ their term for raw orchestral sonorities to be edited and manipulated into sound design by the director,” writes the label. This Deluxe Edition’s packaging features liner notes by Tim Greiving, incorporating new interviews with Lynch, Badalamenti, star Kyle MacLachlan and producer Fred Caruso. The new cover image is a bit in-your-face though, but does tie in with the, er, mood of the movie. The release is limited to 3,000 copies worldwide. For more details see Varèse Sarabande
Listen to Angelo Badalamenti’s main theme from BLUE VELVET:
THE BUREAU OF MAGICAL THINGS: Season 1/Brett Aplin/
Composer’s private release - digital
Australian film and television composer Brett Aplin (James Cameron’s DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D, MAKO MERMAIDS, Ms FISHER’S MODERN MURDER MYSTERIES, THE GLOAMING) has recently released his score to the current Netflix teen hit series, THE BUREAU OF MAGICAL THINGS. The series is about an ordinary teenage girl who touches a mysterious book and is transformed into a Tri-ling – part human, part fairy, and part elf. Acquiring magical powers, she discovers a secret world of magic hiding in plain sight, and when an unexpected threat emerges, she must unite fairies, elves, and humans to save them all. The show has screened on Nickelodeon and Netflix in over 170 countries worldwide, cracking the Netflix Top Ten in 45 countries and reaching the streamer’s global Top 10 TV series; it first premiered in Australia and the US in 2018, and its second season premiered in July 2021. It’s a cute show, from what I’ve seen so far, with a very capable young cast, and Aplin’s melodic, orchestral style is very engaging. His emotive orchestral treatment for this show is enchanting and beguiling – they present the perfect sense of wonderous excitement and magical fun to the episodes, while maintaining a teen age appropriate sensibility when the music needs to be moderately scary or frightful. But most of the time it’s crafting exciting energy and the fun delight of musically capturing the likes of magical beings and abilities. THE BUREAU OF MAGICAL THINGS main title theme and score were nominated for two APRA Australian Screen Music Awards, and the series itself has received an AACTA (Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts) Award for Best Children’s Program, and Kidscreen Award for Best New Series – Tween / Teen Category. With 30 tracks and just over an hour of music, the album possesses a highly pleasing listen. The album is available at these links.
Listen to the credits music of THE BUREAU OF MAGICAL THINGS:
CAPTAIN SCARLET AND THE MYSTERONS/Barry Gray/Silva Screen – digital and CD
Following the 2021 releases of FIREBALL XL5 and SPACE: 1999 Year 1 & Year 2, this is the latest edition in the Silva Screen series exploring Barry Gray’s Super-musical dexterity for Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation tales of mystery and science fiction. Working with Fanderson, the official appreciation society for the works of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Silva Screen continues to champion Barry Gray’s amazing musical opus in a series of physical and digital albums and vinyl records of which this is the latest. CAPTAIN SCARLET assumes a more mature, dramatic musical palette than what we’ve heard in the more playful Supermarionation shows like SUPERCAR, STINGRAY, and FIREBALL XL-5, being somewhat darker in tone and less suited to young audiences as it adopted a more violent content and themes of alien aggression and interplanetary warfare. [The puppet design was also modified with this series, whereas in previous Anderson series the puppets’ heads had been disproportionately large compared to the rest of their bodies (because the cranium had to contain the solenoid that powered the automatic mouth movements); with CAPTAIN SCARLET new mechanisms allowed the puppet design to reflect natural anatomical proportions.] Gray’s use of subtler orchestrations and intriguing experimental electronics gave the show a stronger melodramatic vibe, while maintaining a thoroughly tuneful main theme provided both instrumentally and with a vocal choir. Apart from the theme, Gray supplied a full-throttle of energetic adventure music and otherworldly mysterioso as he embodied the alien Mysterons themselves. We’re also given a splendid smattering of lush and groovy source music such as “Serenade Monte Carlo,” the delightful period sax-drum-and-organ pop of “White As Snow;” we also have the sinewy piping of “Indigo Fever,” which is mixed with the Captain Scarlet Theme for a very intriguing blend of source and score, a fun mingling of Scottish highland music with dramatic score in “Trouble at Glen Garry Castle,” the slightly intoxicated weaving of “Champagne Buzz,” “TVR-17 Pop” which sounds like it could have come right out of twisting-‘60s pop radio, a delightful scherzo based on the Big Ben chimes in “Midnight Runner,” the elegant nightclub jazz of “The 13th Hour,” and the thoroughly adventurous orchestral energy of “Nuclear Detour.” With no less than 35 tracks featuring music from 18 different episodes of the show, with a plethora of enjoyable musical treatments outside of the various workouts of the main theme, the album is completely enjoyable and appetizing. Without criticizing the wonderful but more youth-friendly scores of FIREBALL XL-5 and its predecessors, CAPTAIN SCARLET perhaps engages a more intense and thrilling side of Supermarionation. Definitely a must-have for any Barry Gray fan, as well as any one new to the idea of Supermarionation film scores.
Listen to the track “TVR-17 Pop” from the 2021 Captain Scarlet Soundtrack:
DEEP BLUE SEA 3 (2020)/Mark Kilian/Notefornote Music – digital
Mark Kilian’s deep, dark music for the shark thriller sequel DEEP BLUE SEA 3 maintains an ominous sensibility from the first note of its opening titles. The movie is the third and final installment of the shark horror DEEP BLUE SEA film series, and a direct sequel to DEEP BLUE SEA 2. The first film was released in theaters in 1999 and, despite mixed reviews from critics, was deemed a box office success. A sequel was released straight-to-home video and VOD services in 2018 and was panned by critics. The third film (2020) follows on the end of the second, as a marine biologist and her team, studying the effects of climate change off the coast of Mozambique, confront three genetically enhanced bull sharks leftover from the second movie. The result, as with shark horror films, is a new bloodbath from teeth and fins borne in the name of science! This third film in the franchise is actually a pretty good action-adventure film with an ecological subtext running over the top of its shark-attack premise. It’s well scripted, possesses a good cast, and holds together nicely, filmed on a floating village in a large water tank and on the open ocean. More than just a sharks-eating-people movie, and more than just a bad-people-in-it-for-the-money-so-let’s-kill-everyone movie, the film actually gained a fairly favorable rating among viewers, and Kilian’s score really works well to maintain an ongoing aura of unnerving tension. The second track, “Little Happy” (named for the South African island in which the biologist’s team has their lab) starts out quite pleasantly until a little before the midpoint when it segues into a pensive, muscular dark motif, briefly returns to the opening warmth, and then submerges into a mix of descending tonalities energized by sequences of harsh dub-step and seething, echoey electronica – definitely music not to go into the water with. Dappled, arpeggiated piano notes open track 3, “Must Be A Glitch,” until the enhanced rogue bull sharks turn up, accompanied by dark musical tonalities and a fastly-bowed violin motif that suggests their scientifically-augmented attributes. A song called “Hamba Nhlupheko” is beautifully sung by Nomsa Burkhardt, a dancer, folk singer, and percussionist of Zulu heritage who also sings the festive chorale of “Sunbenin Ay Yo” – both set the right African environmental flavor for the setting of Little Happy. “Bahari” is both shocking and sorrowful when one of the sharks devours the brother of the lead scientist. The compelling mysterioso of “An Evolutionary Leap” accompanies the researchers realizing why these bull sharks seem to have advanced intelligence via an increasing, dawning timbral tonality ending in a slowly rising cluster of dissonance and sinewy tendrils. The 4:30 “Not Everyone Gets To Be A Shark” really amps up the danger music with descending pulses of low sounds that intersect with plucking synth figures, staccato percussive batteries and buzzing timbres to create a drawn-out sensation of underwater terror; the sonic clarity of “ I Left My Hearing Aid Inside” provides a haunting aura of electronic shards, echoing whines, pistol-whipping percussion, and scattered metallic reverberations while ending in a rather peaceful dreamlike ambiance of strings and piano. “Sharksplosion” is just that, a riot of conflating sonic paroxysm that also ends in a serene effluence of depleting tranquility. “It Was A Beautiful Place” is a kind of memorial to Little Happy after it’s destroyed by the sharks, and is a really beautiful piece of music. “Shark Trash” imbues a final moment of fear but proves to be a red herring, as “Floating Miya” follows with the realization a character thought to be killed is found safe, protected in the refuge of a floating trunk. Kilian’s end credits is an active resolution mixing remembrance of the danger having gone through with the reassurance of survival of some, ending with a bit of chorale sonority before culminating in a final, discomforting maybe-it’s-not-really-over-yet-after-all trepidation. Some may complain that the score’s use of electronic pulses, distortions, and ambient textures are redundant and overused, which is probably more of a truism than a fact; these sonic tools have become the style of much modern horror, in the ghost house as much as on the shark-infested sea, and like it or not that remains efficient in creating honest shock and dread in audiences desensitized to previous musical means of effecting auditory terror and orchestral mayhem. Overall, Mark Kilian provides an effective horror score in the modern mold, careful to avoid any references to certain powerful shark movie scores of the past, and in so doing proffers some potent musical mechanics that keep the listener/viewers on edge or relieved as the score and its movie proceed – and in this regard it’s a most welcome release from the label.
For ordering details, see these links .
Listen to the dangerous and solemn track, “Bahari”
DON’T GO INTO THE HOUSE/Richard Einhorn HOLIDAY HELL/Semih Tareen GOOD TIDINGS/JeanMichelNoir (Liam Ashcroft)/Howlin’ Wolf - CD
Horror soundtrack specialist label Howlin’ Wolf Records has gifted us with three exciting scores for the Christmas horrordays, all released for the first time on CD. DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE (composed by Richard Einhorn, directed by Joseph Ellison), is a 1979 thriller about a disturbed young man, burned as a child by his sadistic mother, he makes up for it by stalking women with a flamethrower (so I guess it would be considered a flamer movie instead of a slasher movie?). Anyway, it’s got a terrific electronic score by Einhorn in his synth horror period of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s (SHOCK WAVES, EYES OF A STRANGER, THE PROWLER), running hot with the beloved tonalities of ARP 2600 and ARP Omni synths, which put the score nicely in the sonic world of Carpenter, Myrow, Krog, Chattaway and others dabbling in the sonic synth-slasher boom of the day (and the Omni merged a basic synth and a string synth, meaning it could relatively reasonably articulate the sounds of cellos, basses, violins, and viola). Einhorn’s score is largely tonal, creating driving washes and echoing percussion elements that amped up the film’s scare factor. It’s a very likable score and makes an enjoyable and provocative listen. The album offers 34 tracks from the film score (including two delightful bonus mixes of “flamethrower effects” and “electronic screams” and 10 extra tracks from an unknown science fiction scoring project which add a nice extra flavor. The album includes detailed notes by Ian Zapezynski with comments from the composer.
HOLIDAY HELL (2019; composed by Semih Tareen) is an anthology of four horror tales (plus the wraparound segment), each tale set more or less during a different holiday (Valentine’s Day, Hannukah, and two Christmas tales). The wraparound story involved a mysterious shopkeeper (Jeffrey Combs) trying to help a customer (Meagan Karimi-Naser) looking for a last-minute gift, which figures into the final episode. The film brings us to a wholly new type of electronic score separated from Einhorn’s by a mere 40 years. The score posed an interesting challenge for Tareen, having to score “five separate, stand alone pieces, that although woven together in the fabric of the film, had their own style, flavor, and genre,” as co-writer/co-director Jeff Ferrell puts it in his liner notes. “The trick,” wrote Tareen in his separate liner notes, “was to be able to come up with a score that gave a fresh voice to each segment while not distracting from the unifying nature of the underlying story.” The result is a potent mix of synth-instruments from the low string sinews of “Curiosities” to the female vocalise of “Dollface House,” the soft woods of “Flashback” to the entwining Middle-Eastern string flavors of “Gift Giving” and the wild drumming and chorus howls of “The Victims” to the deep male choral moans of “The Scripture,” and the beautifully nerve-wracking undulating tendrils and tonalities of “Hi De Ho!” which opens, half way through, into a pleasing tune from a jazz combo; from the low strings and piano of rural “Jenne Farm” to the overture-like opening of “A Day in Town,” and the rich, furtive piano, strings, and woodwind flavors of “Back at the Farm” not to mention its spooky, pure fronds-of-synth ending. “Who Are You People” is surely the most frightening track on the album, beginning with an orchestral opening that turns dark at the sound of a tubular bell and morphs into an array of high, ascending wind notes over low string figures that open into a series rising notes that, along with tubular bells, leads a growing, rhythmic march given pace by a soft, sliding beat as if heavy, shapeless things are heading your way in the darkness. The score concludes with “Solstice,” a wild cluster of tones and strikes and choral yelps set into a rhythmic pattern of their own and drifting apart in an effusion of flighty sounds, slowly reunited by a musicbox theme as it re-intones Tareen’s main theme in a final, epic measure. The album concludes with an interesting 5-minute “Carol’s Suite” compiled from choir and instrumentals from the early 1900s, which are heard briefly in the final episode and then in the end credits. With a few exceptions, Tereen avoids modern techniques of musical design and found sounds, preferring here to underline these short horror tales with affecting tonality and inventive structure. In both its parts and its whole, this is a very compelling score full of sonic treasures; Tareen provides some intriguing and very likable musical textures, and not only a few ones of a more menacing semblance. With each track essentially crafting its own sound design, HOLIDAY HELL makes for a completely gratifying and satisfying listening experience, and is especially highly recommended.
GOOD TIDINGS, composed by JeanMichelNoir aka Liam Ashcroft (CUTE LITTLE BUGGERS), has to do with a homeless war-veteran with a checkered past who must rely on a side of himself once thought buried when he and his companions are targeted by three vicious psychopaths wearing Santa suits on Christmas Day. The score here is more sonically inharmonious and texturally electronic, crafting a consistent aura of menace and danger. The composer’s keyboard material is quite effective on creating a post-HALLOWEEN vibe (John Carpenter is one of the composer’s musical heroes) although his electronic treatment is somewhat different. A powerful classic synth sound opens “A Chance” before a miasma of tonality, hissing sounds, and various percussive elements and whines echo across the soundscape. “Festivities” is a strong keyboard piece with a heavy rock drum beat, reprised in the first half of “Caroling to Hell” before the cue dissipates into softer synth particles and pads. “Fleck the Halls” offers a series of heavy buzzing synth lines but then also scatters into some pleasing Prophet-10-like step patterns which run out the cue. Less effective in terms of listenability is the recurring substance of grizzled, tribal male voices, frequently intoned against a high, synth wail and a repetitive rhythm of large metal bells; used as a kind of growling, marching ostinato for the killer Santas it likely worked better in the film than on the CD (it’s heard in “Season’s Greetings,” “Who’s Naughty,” “Tinsel Traitor,” “We Three Things,” and the first part of the 10-minute “God Save Us Everyone” before more pleasing synth and drum elements take over). A harsh intonation introduces the 9-minute+ “Hell Horns and Jingle Bells” before quickly assuming a kind of energetic rave beat and vibe for synths and drums across the top of which a series of piercing synth notes, strident chiming patterns, and clusters dominate the mix until the shuffle beat returns; the synths deconstruct and the cue ends with a repeated and somewhat muted electric guitar rhythm.
Each of these soundtracks are available individually on their own CDs and are now available from Howlin’ Wolf Records.
ENCANTO/Germaine Franco & Lin-Manuel Miranda /Disney – digital + CD
The ENCANTO original motion picture soundtrack features eight original songs by Tony®- and Grammy®-winning songwriter/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and an original score by Germaine Franco, who is the first-ever woman composer of a Walt Disney Animation Studios feature film. Below the Line News says, “Franco is a master at adapting local sounds… her COCO credit helps tremendously – and the reggaeton, Vallenato, Latin pop tunes with which she infused the superb songs of this film all combine to produce yet another successful Disney musical repertoire.” Jon Burlingame writes in Variety that “Franco, who co-wrote most of the songs and orchestrated the score for Disney’s COCO, set in Mexico, has become Hollywood’s go-to composer for authentic Latin flavors. She was co-composer on DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, set in Peru; wrote additional music for the Dia de los Muertos musical THE BOOK OF LIFE; and scored the Starz series VIDA, about Mexican-American sisters living in East L.A.” She’s now composed the score for Disney’s latest animated feature film ENCANTO, about a young Colombian girl who must face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers. While the movie’s songs are by Miranda (HAMILTON, MOANA), Franco has composed the film’s complete musical score. She told Burlingame that the score needed to “weave in and out of the songs, and tell the story of Mirabel [the central character] and her emotions,” evoking a sense of “magical realism.” The cumbia, Colombia’s national dance, became a key element of the score. “While Franco could not visit the country because of the pandemic, she worked with Colombian musicians in L.A. and did extensive research into the colors of the region,” wrote Burlingame. Using a wide variety of folk instruments of the region, the ENCANTO score is a thorough delight; it’s been given a gift of rich Latin melodies, authentic instrumental textures, exciting adventure tunes, compelling themes and motifs, and its share of scherzo-like moments that are fun by themselves while accommodating the movie’s family-driven story. It’s a wonderfully enjoyable score as a listening experience on its own, besides energizing the film’s vigor and sentiment. Disney’s soundtrack includes a generous 22 tracks of Franco’s score, along with eight songs by Miranda. The digital soundtrack includes instrumental versions of Miranda’s Latin songs. A physical CD of the ENCANTO soundtrack was released on Dec. 17
Listen to the orchestra/choral track “Antonio’s Voice” from ENCANTO by Germaine Franco:
FRIDAY THE 13TH – The Ultimate Cut/Harry Manfredini/La-La Land Records - CD “Over 40 years ago, acclaimed composer Harry Manfredini (FRIDAY THE 13th PARTS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, HOUSE, DEEPSTAR SIX), unleashed one of cinema’s most iconic horror genre scores upon the world. Now, the score from Crystal Lake returns – bolder, more immersive, and more chilling than before! FRIDAY THE 13th: THE ULTIMATE CUT presents Manfredini’s masterwork restored, remixed and remastered in stereo, with the composer’s approval, from newly discovered original multitrack recordings in the Paramount Pictures’ vaults. Also included are never-before-heard-or-released music cues that were not used in the film!” Manfredini’s score for FRIDAY THE 13TH was an effectual composition largely for strings, brass, keyboard, and voice. The most memorable motif was the use of echoing vocal gasps which signified the crazed killer who terrorizes the teenage counselors who are preparing a summer camp, which became a signature for Jason as he marauded through sequel after sequel. Inspired by the extreme close-up shots of Mrs. Voorhees when she says ‘Kill her Mommy,’ Manfredini used the first sound of those words, ‘Ki,’ ‘Ma,’ spoke them into a mike, digitally delayed and echo repeated them, as a recurring signature theme for the films. With the recent discovery of the original masters from Paramount, not only does this album provide the crispest, most detailed music tracks yet, but the assembly includes unused cues from the movie not heard since they were culled from the film over 40 years ago. Co-produced by Dan Goldwasser and Brian Satterwhite and remastered by James Nelson, the package includes detailed liner notes with track-by-track analysis by Satterwhite (known for his authoritative notes on La-La Land’s 2012 six-CD soundtrack box set of Manfredini’s first six FRIDAY movies). Much more than a rehash, this is a thoroughly remastered reboot of the original FRIDAY THE 13TH soundtrack in as close to its original theatrical presentation as possible.
Listen to sample tracks at lalalandrecords
GLI OCCHIALI D’ORO (The Gold Rimmed Glasses, 1987)/
Ennio Morricone/Caldera - CD
Caldera Records offers Ennio Morricone’s score for the motion picture GLI OCCHIALI D’ORO, directed by Giuliano Montaldo. Originally released on CD as Screen Trax CDST 302 in 1996 and out of print for many years, Caldera’s new CD edition preserves and remasters this poignantly crafted score. The track list is the same as the Screen Trax, as any further music tapes have evidently been lost to the years. The film won two Golden Osellas for Best Costume Design and Best Set Design at the 1987 Venice Film Festival, and Morricone won the David di Donatello for Best Score from The Academy of Italian Cinema. The film tells two parallel stories, that of a young Jewish man who recognized the threats Mussolini and Hitler pose in the Italy of the 30s but said nothing; the other concerns a doctor who is respected as long as he hides his homosexuality. “Against these stories of individuals, is one of communal blindness, of intelligent, educated and sensible citizens being lured by fascism,” writes album producer Stephan Eicke. “At another level, GLI OCCHIALI D’ORO is a scathing critique of the hypocrisy of the upper classes, in which everybody lives behind a facade to uphold their reputation and standing.” It’s a tenderly, reflective score built around a recurring, melancholic main theme, with a sad love theme for the Jewish man David and his girlfriend, and several distinctive additional melodies throughout, with only the upbeat “A Cena Con I Ragazzi” serving as a bright, cheerful track with a bit of classical resonance in its midsection; it could almost have come out of a Fellini movie; “In Treno” nicely reprises the motif. But even the more dour and contemplative tracks, focusing as they must on the sorrows of the characters in each story, provide a thoughtful and moving listening experience as only Morricone’s emotive instinct can impart. The German label has done a fine job in remastering the score and making this moving soundtrack available again with thoroughly detailed liner notes by Stephan Eicke and elegant artwork by Luis Miguel Rojas. For more information and to sample music, see Caldera.
HAWKEYE/Christophe Beck & Michael Paraskevas/
Marvel Studios – digital
One year after the events of AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019), Clint Barton (Hawkeye) must partner with Kate Bishop to confront enemies from his past as Ronin in order to get back to his family in time for Christmas. Christophe Beck (WANDAVISION) and composer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Paraskevas have composed the music for Marvel’s latest limited series, HAWKEYE, streaming on Disney+. Paraskevas previously collaborated with Beck on other projects such as FROZEN II, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, FREE GUY, Netflix’s THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES, and the Emmy-nominated score to WANDAVISION and also scored things like the TV series FRIEND REQUEST (2019) and CATCHING A BREAK (2017) – (additional music for HAWKEYE is also credited to Tyler Westen & Jake Monaco). The 6-episode show is one of the best of Marvel’s new TV series, fun, funny, full of action, and not without some really emotionally moving moments – such as the affecting reintroduction in episode 5 of Black Widow Yelena in the pre-title sequence as she experiences the Blip, her presence here following up on the mid-credits sequence from the BLACK WIDOW movie. The composers have come up with a terrific powerhouse action hero theme for HAWKEYE for strings and horns which is really a fine piece of music, and this is the Marvel archer’s first actual musical theme – never having been given one in his previous appearances in the MCU. With HAWKEYE taking place in New York City during Christmas with a number of major scenes set in the city’s holiday environs, there’s necessarily a bit of Christmas music meandering through some of the action tracks, but – as with “Carol of The Buy And Sells” – are nicely crafted to fit within the overall musical vibe of the show. Even the main theme itself is dappled with a tiny bit of Christmas bells early on to welcome in the season. The character of Maya Lopez (aka Echo, the deaf adoptive daughter of the Kingpin and a Native American) is given a brooding motif for winds and strings. There’s a poignant track in Vol. 2, “Natasha,” when Barton reveals Natasha’s sacrifice to the vengeance-seeking Yelena (who Valentina erroneously told, in BLACK WIDOW, that Barton was responsible for Natasha’s death); There’s a special musical moment heard in episode 5 when Barton/Hawkeye visits the Avengers’ Battle of New York Memorial plaque in NYC and remembers Natasha – in which a poignant arrangement of Alan Silvestri’s cue “Not Good,” heard during Natasha’s sacrifice in AVENGERS: ENDGAME, softly and heartbreakingly plays (Episode 4 also includes a subtle bit of Silvestri’s doleful “Even For You” from INFINITY WAR – used there when Thanos and Gamora travel to Vormir to try and secure the Soul Stone, which is reprised in HAWKEYE at the end of the episode when Barton tries to keep Kate from serving as his partner, knowing how high the stakes are now that Yelena has shown up). There are a handful of softer tracks and a few more free-wheeling type suspense or pre-action interludes like “Barton Funk,” “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Clint’s Mess,” “A Christmas Peril,” “Do You Hear What I Fear” (Beck is clearly taking a page from Giacchino’s title-naming traditions), and the like, but the majority of tracks are the high-octane action cues. The album concludes with the festive and heroic track “Quiver Bells,” a mix of some Christmassy bells with the show’s main theme which is actually quite good, since the bells become part of the theme’s decorations without turning the cue into a carol.
The Vol. 1 soundtrack, featuring music from episodes 1-2, released on Dec. 10 with Vol. 2 (Episodes 4-6) following on Dec. 22; the latter album also includes the all-new original song “Save The City,” composed by Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning composer Marc Shaiman with lyrics by Shaiman and Tony Award-winning lyricist Scott Wittman. The song is featured in the first episode of the series while Clint Barton is attending “Rogers the Musical” with his family, and is reprised in its entirety in the post-credits sequence of the final episode. Link to Vol. 1, Link to Vol. 2.
Listen to “Hawkeye’s Theme”
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE/Dimitri Tiomkin/La-La Land Records – CD
First released in a 2012 world premiere CD from Kritzerland, Dimitri Tiomkin’s music for Frank Capra’s famous American holiday film IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) is given a wonderful new life in this newly restored and remastered edition from La-La Land which features track sequencing that more accurately reflects Tiomkin’s original intensions, and also includes the film version of the “Main Title” and music from the film’s trailer, extending the previous edition by two new tracks. “An expert meld of romance, emotion, reflection, brooding darkness and playful joviality, Dimitri Tiomkin, one of cinema’s pioneering composer giants and Capra’s regular composer with 5 films and the WW2 WHY WE FIGHT documentary series, the composer’s legendary score returns on CD, remastered, and in time to mark the film’s 75th Anniversary,” writes the label on its website. Opening with the gaiety of the “Main Title,” its melody taken from the song “Buffalo Gals” (which the script required as it was claimed as George & Mary Bailey’s favorite song), and then segueing right into the more Christmassy/angelic “Heaven,” where family and friends’ prayers for suicidal George Bailey are heard, and where Angel 2nd class Clarence Odbody is assigned to save George in order for Clarence to earn his wings. The cue ends with a solo violin and soft choir fade out. Segue to ephemeral organ shimmers and whimsical melodies as flashbacks of George’s life are presented to us, accompanied by music both happy, sad, sentimental, and the like. “His score (at least as he wrote it) is a free-flowing river of romance, surging emotions, somber reflection, brooding darkness, and playful joviality, blending original music with well-known melodies from folk, classical, and pop music,” as Frank DeWald writes in his liner notes. That “as he wrote it” comment is important to recognize, as many hands barged in to make musical changes, largely because of the studio’s decision to hurry the film so it could be released prior to Christmas. “After the music was on the soundtrack, [Capra] cut it, switched sections around, and patched it up, an all-round scissors job,” DeWald quotes from the composer’s 1959 memoir, Please Don’t Hate Me. “After that I didn’t want to hear it… I said nothing. We simply didn’t see each other for a year and a half.” The film’s second principal theme is a Tiomkin original, the love theme for George and Mary, a light up-and-down melody in the tradition of the day, heard on the album’s “Love Sequence” track. While the score’s assembly in the film wasn’t what it could have been, the score works quite nicely in its new presentation on CD and the cues’ better adherence to what Tiomkin would have preferred follows the film a little better. The mix of original composition and variety of then-popular and classical/holiday music was definitely a style of the time, and it’s quite wonderful to have this classic score newly available for listening – holiday or any time. The album is produced by Dan Goldwasser, and is presented in a special limited edition release of 2000 units.
JULIA/Rachel Portman/Lakeshore Records – digital
This Sony Pictures Classics documentary film JULIA tells the story of the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even about women. Rachel Portman’s score is as delicious and mouth-watering in its own instrumental way, musically reflecting all of the traits associated with Julia Child – joyful, amorous, soulful, and strong. The music brings to life the television cooking superstar through emotional language, even at times reflecting upon the culinary delights Julia taught American women (and some men) to cook in their own homes. I remember as a young boy watching her show with my mother, who delighted in trying Julia’s recipes for scrumptious dinners and amazing Sunday breakfasts, and while I was no home chef by any means, I enjoyed watching the delight with which Mme. Child entertained and educated while maintaining an assured effervescence of confidence and cookery which was often soon replicated by my own mother later in the week. Food is “nourishment for the soul.” said Portman. “What can be more delightful than writing music for such a character as Julia? The directors Betsy and Julie were up for having fun in the score and words such as bad ass, edgy, trapped housewives preparing Spam and Pineapple dinners, sex, sensuality, and nostalgia were used to describe what they wanted from the music. So, as well as the theme of food and love, I didn’t shy away from being at times bold and funny with the score. At others it needed to be full of love and yearning. The film is a rich canvas for writing a score and I loved composing its music.” Portman’s JULIA score is a delicious delight, creating a musical canvas out of the exemplary culinary cuisine and tasty tutelage of Julia Child. The score and its accompanying documentary film follows Child from her first encounters with fine cuisine via her husband Paul Cushing Child (“Getting To Know Paul”), which had the added benefit of “opening up of the soul and spirit for me,” as she put it in a New York Times interview, through her media career (“Pilot”), writing of cookbooks (“Knopf Takes On Publishing”) (her revolutionary 1961 tome, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date), and subsequent impact on American households and housewives (the effervescent “/Julia is the Star”), and her death in 2004, two days before her 92nd birthday (“Passing and Legacy”). JULIA is the empowering story of a woman who found her purpose – and her fame – at 50 and took America along on the whole delicious journey, and the score fits Julia Child and the film like a very sumptuous repast. Listen to the track “Spam and Pineapple” from Rachel Portman’s JULIA:
KING RICHARD/Kris Bowers/WaterTower Music - digital
Warner Bros. Pictures’ KING RICHARD looks at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams, played by Will Smith. Composer Kris Bowers said that by watching Williams and his wife’s “support, love, and sacrifice for Serena and Venus not only reminded me of so many black families and black parents that put their all into their children, but it reminded me of my own parents as well,” Bowers said. “Due to the personal connection I felt to the film's story, I decided to heavily feature piano and prepared piano. Additionally, wanting to evoke the sound and feeling of tennis, I chose to only feature strings, harp, piano, prepared piano and percussion, the prepared piano and percussion coming in during moments where we see the uniqueness of the Williams sisters in this predominantly white sport.” The piano and percussion arrangements mirror the grit and tenacity of the girls and their father and family, resulting in Bowers basing all of his thematic material on the same theme. “A theme we first hear with Richard, develops into Venus's theme, a theme for the matches themselves, and so on,” said Bowers. That thematic progression colors the score throughout, growing in incremental variations that reflects the elder Williams’ commitment through progressing steps of bowed string figures that suggested the commitment the family had to their goal in the tennis world. “I knew I wanted to limit the sound palette to sounds that reflected the game of tennis in a somewhat literal way with strings and having felt on them,” Bowers told Jazz Tangcay in an interview for Variety. There was the prepared piano (using ordinary objects inside a piano to make it sound like a different instrument) where I was able to be really creative and use the piano as percussion. The drums come in and we feel the presence of them stepping into their power.” The score is a sturdy treatment that constantly ups the ante and vigorously charges ahead, offering a powerful and pleasing dynamic that carries the listener forward, sharing in the goal, support, and achievement ultimately reached by Venus and Serena. The score is the journey, from initial intent to ultimate attainment, and makes for a powerful and provocative listen on its own as we reflect and share in the musical replication of the family’s goal.
Listen to the climactic track, “Family,” from KING RICHARD:
L’AFFAIR BOVARY/Maximilien Mathevon/Plaza Mayor/digital
French composer Maximilien Mathevon has scored this film, produced by Keren Films and directed by Stephane Miquel and Alban Vian. Madame Bovary, the famous novel by Gustave Flaubert, was the subject of a resounding trial upon its release. Accused of undermining good morals, Flaubert had to defend his literary work against the accusations of prosecutor Ernest Pinard. After Flaubert’s acquittal, Madame Bovary became a bestseller in April 1857 and the novel is now considered one of the most influential literary works in history. This docu-drama tells the astonishing story of this trial. “I was able to compose very thematic music,” said the composer. “I created three main themes: for Flaubert, prosecutor Pinard, and Emma Bovary herself. I wanted to associate each character with specific tones: the cello for Flaubert, the bass clarinet for Pinard, the piano and the voices for Emma. The latter, the ghostly narrator of this film, also allowed me to give the music a fantastic and elegant turn.” Mathevon invests in this film a light classical orchestral sense which is very favorable to its period, subject matter, and treatment. His thematic structure and interaction allows the listener to follow the story nicely from the soundtrack alone, which makes for a quite compelling listening experience. The impassioned love affair that caused French prosecutors to attack the novel for obscenity involved a woman named Emma, is treated elegantly by Mathevon with the “Valse D’Emma,” (“Emma’s Waltz”). It’s quite a captivating track, much of its flavor carried over through the solo voice that opens “Emma Bovary,” which layers in a very sentimental air and additionally so when the voice is doubled by a second singer (or an overlay of the same soloist). The voices open into an unsettling dissonance in “Le Miroir Et Le Proces” (“The Mirror And The Trial”) adding in an intriguing and disquieting harmony. The music for Pinard, introduced in “Ernest Pinard Et Histoire D’Emma” (“Ernest Pinard And History Of Emma”) meanders through a recurring figure driven by a constant snare drum and harp (or pizzicato) as if focusing on the prosecutors single-minded intent. In like fashion, Mathevon imposed a steady beat to “Ratures, Ecriture Et Gueuloir” (“Deletion, Writing, and Winding”), culminating in a series of declarative drum beats. “Questions De Religion” (“Questions of Religion”) is provided with male choir over a delicate triangle figure, rising violin tremolos, and a low beat, as Pinard assails Flaubert’s writing on religious terms; ironically the same music is given to “Le Verdict,” (“The Verdict”) which as we know was found in the author’s favor. A reprisal of his main theme concludes the score quite nicely. Overall this is an excellent and intriguing orchestral score, largely telling the story through its musical tracks, but even apart from the subject matter it adheres to, the music is a thorough delight to listen to throughout its motivic structure, instrumentation, and melodic flavoring. Quite nice indeed.
Listen to the delicate track “Valse D’Emma” from L’AFFAIR BOVARY:
LE PROFESSIONNEL & LE MARGINAL/Ennio Morricone/Music Box - CD
In collaboration with EMI Music Publishing France, Music Box Records presents a 2-CD edition of two complete scores which highlight the collaboration between composer Ennio Morricone and French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo: LE PROFESSIONNEL (The Professional, 1981) and LE MARGINAL (The Outsider, 1983). The former contains one of Morricone’s best known scores and themes, despite very little of the composer’s music written for the film actually appearing in the final cut (director Georges Lautner and star Belmondo decided to feature a recording of a previous Morricone composition, the exquisite but arguably overused “Chi Mai,” written for his 1971 film score for MADDALENA). The film’s true main theme, “Le Vent, Le Cri” (“The Wind, The Cry”) fares better as an original motif for this film, although it does share a bit of the bowing technique and the violin, piano, and drums configuration of the MADDALENA cue. “Le Vent, Le Cri” (“Il Vento, Il Grido” in the Italian soundtrack) is presented in multiple variations, as is a secondary theme, “Le Retour” which is often titled “Bach” on the album for its B flat/A/C/B rendering in the German notation (thanks to Nicolas Magenham’s liner notes for this and other details). There are a few standalone or supportive tracks which are also unheard in the movie but provide excellent variations here, such as “Decision finale” with its somber cadence of low woodwinds and strings, the strange harp interlude “ Fée Morgane,” as well as “D’Afrique,” a percussive mix of snare and other drums with piano and high piccolo or similar in the composer’s suspense-music style (review continues below).
Listen to the film track of “Le Vent, Le Cri” from LE PROFESSIONNEL:
LE MARGINAL is a much darker score. Directed by Jacques Deray, in which Commissioner Jordan (Belmondo) arrives in Marseille to combat drug trafficking activities in his own unique way. Here, Morricone employs a rock theme with prominent and heavy bass notes that suggest the punches given to suspected criminals by the Commissioner, which is counterpointed against severely slashing string notes or later against, alternately, the delicate phrasing of an oboe and a flugelhorn (LE MARGINAL’s effective rock theme would later be heard in 1983’s COPKILLER and 1988’s FRANTIC). Like LE PROFESSIONAL, The Outsider also has a variety of more individual tracks but the majority of cues fall back on interesting variations on the main theme. (There are also three songs performed by the rock band Blizzard; the one titled “Dreamer” was credited to bandmember George Sims [lyrics] with Morricone’s music; “Forecast” is at least partially based on a Morricone theme as it’s chorus uses the identical melody the Pet Shop Boys used in “It Couldn’t Happen Here” on their 1987 Always album, which music is attributed to Morricone; while the third song, “Don’t Think Twice” [no relation to the Dylan Song] is attributed to Roger Crouch; Real Name: Douglas Meakin). The French label Music Box Records presents both scores on a pair of CDs, one for each soundtrack, and the scores for both are newly remastered, supervised by Claudio Fuiano, from complete scoring session elements. The set includes an 8-page CD booklet with French and English liner notes by Nicolas Magenham. For more details see MusicBoxRecords.
Listen to the title film track from LE MARGINAL:
LEGEND/Jerry Goldsmith/Music Box– CD
In collaboration with Silva Screen Records Ltd, Music Box Records proudly presents a remastered and expanded edition of Jerry Goldsmith’s lavish fantasy score for Ridley Scott's 1985 film LEGEND, starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, David Bennent and Tim Curry. Goldsmith’s score has fairly well survived the debacle of having his score, a composition he felt was one of his finest, summarily extricated from the movie by studio executives who wanted something a little more commercial instead. The film was released by 20th Century Fox in England and Europe with the Goldsmith score intact, but audiences in America and Japan, where the film was distributed by Universal, heard the music of Tangerine Dream instead (there are very different edits of each version of the movie, and each film has a different ending, and there is now a director’s cut which has become the classic rendition of the film). Now, the TD score was a good one on its own (I think it’s one of the band’s best) but an electronic score was out of place for the lyrical dark fairy tale told by Scott. Fortunately the reputation of the Goldsmith has remained and most subsequent DVD and Blu-Ray editions of the film have included both versions, and the Goldsmith soundtrack has been released several times on CD. The most recent is this 2-CD edition from Music Box, with a slightly expanded version of the film score on disc 1 and the original soundtrack album with two new alternate tracks on disc 2. With restored and remastered sound, the CD includes a 16-page booklet with liner notes by Jeff Bond including new comments by engineer Mike-Ross Trevor on his collaboration with Jerry Goldsmith. Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra with a large choir and a broad mix of spellbinding electronic textures, the delight of Goldsmith’s LEGEND score is in its wistful, light fantasy environment set against the brooding wickedness of the Lord of Darkness (superbly played by Tim Curry). With goblins and ogres and the like on the side of Darkness, and faeries, elves, and unicorns on the side of Tom Cruise as Jack O’ the Green, spirit of the forest, the film is ultimate a classic tale of good and evil, with Goldsmith’s grand, orchestral score in many ways akin to a ballet, rich in operatic statements, impressionistic nuances, mixed with a full choir and a phalanx of synthesizers, giving it a unique sound palette that captured each element of the fantasy tale in rich sonic detail. At the time, noted Jeff Bond in concluding his liner notes, Goldsmith “considered LEGEND the best score he had ever written. [He] was less pleased a year after he finished his scoring chores on the movie when he discovered that the film would be released in the United States without his score. The movie marked the composer’s final project with Ridley Scott and the apex of Goldsmith’s symphonic impressionism, and it remains one of the finest grand fantasy scores of the 20th Century.” I couldn’t agree more – and the new Music Box soundtrack album has nicely captured all of its beautiful and frightful nuances, and the addition of two previously unreleased tracks (“Darkness Arisen,” 0:45) and “Playmates” (3:17) and two alternate takes (“Faerie Dance”, alternate; “The Dress Waltz”, alternate) make this a highly recommended venture. The release is limited to 2000 units. For more details see MusicBoxRecords.
THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS/Johnny Klimek & Tom Tykwer/
WaterTower Music - digital
THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS sees composers Johnny Klimek (CLOUD ATLAS, DEADWOOD, RUN LOLA RUN) & Tom Tykwer (Director – CLOUD ATLAS, RUN LOLA RUN, BABYLON BERLIN), who have worked closely together and co-composed since 1996, reunite with close friend, collaborator, director/co-writer/producer Lana Wachowski. Their 2012 collaboration on CLOUD ATLAS garnered a Golden Globe Nomination for Klimek and Twyker’s work on the film’s music (FYI see my interview with their third composer, Reinhold Heil, on scoring CLOUD ATLAS in my Jan. 2013 Soundtrax). Competing against Don Davis’ highly unique and masterful score for the first three MATRIX movies is a tough challenge – it’s so intrinsically connected to the franchise as a whole – but Wachowski’s film is a slightly different entity, and for what it is I think Klimek and Tykwer have redeemed themselves pretty well on this score. The storyline is a kind of revisitation (or resurrection) of the original concept of 1999’s THE MATRIX while extending it into a new world: To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, Mr. Anderson, aka Neo, will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. If he’s learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of – or into – the Matrix. Neo already knows what he has to do, but what he doesn’t yet know is that the Matrix is stronger, more secure and far more dangerous than ever before. The new score retains some of the stylistic semblances of Davis’ musical concepts – the reflective veneer between reality and unreality, the digital descent of the matrix code that opened the film, like drops of bleeding emerald rain, the hornlike blaring figure that heralded the “bullet time” visual effects (“Opening - The Matrix Resurrections”) – while infusing the score with new musical material concepts that fit its new approach. Track 4 (“It’s in My Mind”) is a great example, evidencing a controlled construct between old and new, reflecting (as it were!) the intrinsic sonic grain of the original trilogy while adding reverberant synth drums, frenzied bell tones, hesitant and then sturdy drops of low-register piano notes, rapid-fire bowing of strings, and a congruent mixture of synths and symphs that was and is the definitive sound of The Matrix. Much of this film at the beginning is MATRIX history repeating itself (resetting the world and setting up the concept for new viewers) but purposefully, as Neo is “resurrected” anew from the pervasive Matrix simulation to once again save the real world after the introduction of our new set of characters who will be helping him in his task (“Two and the Same,” “Meeting Trinity,” “Exit the Pod”). The middle part reintroduces us to an elderly Niobe and to the character who will become this movie’s villain, and shows Neo, aligned with the new crew aboard the ship Mnemosyne in an attempt to free Trinity from her own statis within a pod (“Factory Fight,” “Bullet Time”). The final part erupts into a series of massive action sequences that take the story to its own cataclysmic finale (“Infiltration,” “Simulatte Brawl,” “Swarm,” “Sky Scrape”). WaterTower’s THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS soundtrack features the music of Johnny Klimek & Tom Tykwer, and also includes 11 remixes (of limited interest unless you’re hosting a rave) by Klimek & Tykwer, Marcel Dettmann, Moderna, Thomas Fehlmann, System 01, Esther Silex & Kotelett, Gudrun Gut, Almost Falling, Psychic Health, Eclectic Youth, and Alessandro Adriani.
Listen to the track “It’s in My Mind:”
THE POWER OF THE DOG/Johnny Greenwood/Lakeshore – digital/Invada - vinyl Academy Award-winning Director Jane Campion’s Western film THE POWER OF THE DOG follows charismatic rancher Phil Burbank, who inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love. “One of the most intriguing, and certainly dark and disturbing scores of this season is Jonny Greenwood’s music for THE POWER OF THE DOG,” wrote Jon Burlingame in Variety. The Radiohead musician-songwriter’s soundtrack album opens with “25 years,” an intriguing piece for plucked cello (“I learned to play my cello like a banjo (an instrument I can play a little) with the same sort of fingerpicking technique,” Greenwood explained; this kind of technique will be heard throughout much of the score) which is soon joined by bowed strings which between the two adds an intriguing sound and texture to the film’s opening. Greenwood provides a similar treatment with keyboard in the dizzying notation of “Detuned Mechanical Piano.” The second cue, “Requiem For Phil,” captures a heraldic, forceful yet melancholic resonance. “I wanted to avoid the trope of sweeping strings to accompanying sweeping landscapes,” Greenwood told Burlingame of his avoidance of a traditional, big Western sound in his score. Looking for a more “stark” approach, Greenwood explained: “We recorded the string groups whilst running random scenes from the film, and the colder they played, the better it suited the picture. So there’s not much vibrato in their playing. Likewise the French horns [on “The Ravine” and “Best Friends”] – to me, that’s the sound of pent-up masculinity: they sound repressed, but the louder they play, the more open and angry they get. It’s an odd tone, generally, in this film. Lots of conflicts, and not all of it overt. The horns got closest to that sound I think.” A stark solo violin resonates through “Mimicry,” while “West Alone” captures a solo piano treatment joined by violin, both in an intimate, closely-miked presentation. THE POWER OF THE DOG is an unusual treatment for a Western film, and not the first one, but the album captures an interesting flavor (I haven’t seen the film yet) and makes for a likably and intriguing listen on its own.
Listen to the track “25 Years” from THE POWER OF THE DOG:
THE SHADOW IN MY EYE/Marco Beltrami, Ceiri Torjussen, & Buck Sanders/MovieScore Media – digital/Quartet – CD (forthcoming)
Director Ole Bornedal’s heart-wrenching Danish WW2 film about the RAF bombing of Copenhagen, known as Skyggen i mit øje in Denmark, was recently released theatrically in Denmark last October and will be coming to Netflix soon. As shown in THE SHADOW IN MY EYE, the RAF raid was made on Gestapo headquarters in Fredricksburg, Denmark but it had fatal consequences when some of the bombers accidentally targeted a school and more than 120 people (at least 86 were children) were killed (Danish history reports that the error was caused when a plane crashed at the French School, and the resulting fire caused the subsequent bombers to erroneously believe that their target was under that cloud of smoke). The film has been acclaimed for the director’s “dramatic and visual expression” (Kulturbunkeren.dk, Denmark), and Bornedal clearly wants the audience to feel horrified by what happened, and properly so. This film is an indictment of the mistake as much as a brutal record of the event, and it holds no punches in its representation; this definitely includes the musical treatment as well. The film’s drama is separated into three stories: that of the reportedly unprepared English pilots who were pressured to undertake the raid; that of a quasi love story between a nun and a Nazi soldier; and, most affectingly, the story of three young children, Rigmor, Eva and Henry, whose brief experiences we follow until the bombs fall. Henry, in particular, is emphasized in the music with the opening piece, “Henry’s Piano,” and the post-bombing cue “Henry’s Voice.” The score, like the film, pulls no punches and it evokes with a ruthless subjectivity in its representing the unfortunate consequences of the bombing mistake and its perspective from the Copenhagen community. This makes the score a somewhat eerie, even haunting listen but if treated like an epitaph, or an affecting emotional experience, the music’s morose texture makes for a rather contemplative listen. With a musical palette mixing a few live instruments (focusing on strident sonorities from strings and high-end piano arpeggios), along with other “processed live instruments” and a variety of custom-made sounds, much of the tonality coming from scraped metal vibrations and sustained, droning timbres.
“Buck Sanders was instrumental (pun intended!) in creating the sound of the film,” Torjussen told Soundtrax. “He spent a long time recording some live musicians – notably violin and flute – and experimenting with analog processing techniques – especially 2” magnetic tape. He and Marco had the idea of recording sounds up an octave, at double-speed, then halving the tape speed so it ended up at the right tempo and pitch. They also tried other ratios (e.g. 1/3-speed, 1/4-speed), giving different but equally interesting results. This created a uniquely strange, ‘unstable’ sound world which complimented the other microtonal experiments we did with flutes and other synth sounds. You hear this effect especially in cues like “Fatal Nun” and “Frederick and the Pump.”
The score’s most intensely dramatic moments occur in “RAF Attack Pt. 1-3” and “The Bombing Pt. 1-2”), in which (RAF Pt. 2) there is a disconsolate piano motif over a light percussion beats that grows into a dark, shimmering electronic tonality, while (RAF Pt. 3) offers a dark confrontational semblance of growing synth warbles, shaker percussion beats that almost remind one of the footsteps of the slayer in a slasher movie, opening into a variety of percussive, massed footsteps; clearly the musical focus here is on the terrible event that is about to occur by creating a sonic miasma of unrecognizable, mostly electronic textures that build until the horribly appalling moment of error in “The Bombing Pt. 1” wherein layered air-raid siren sounds and textured, out-of-focus beats and reverberant electronic pads suggest the final perspective of the victims of this unfortunate and careless tragedy. The heavy tones and moody pads of “The Bombing Pt. 2” reflects perhaps the final comprehension of the victims in a continuous drone until the blackness overcomes all. “Buck also recorded a series of col legno violin hits (striking the strings with the wood of the bow),” said Torjussen. “He then reversed the tape and recorded the reversing sound back into the digital domain. When analog tape rewinds, as it gets to the end of the spool you get a sudden (or gradual) upwards glissando. We had the idea of using this upward glissando sound as a musical device in the film’s RAF Attack sequence: In ‘RAF Attack, Pt. 3’ you hear this ‘reverse col legno’ tape effect throughout the cue, getting gradually faster as the cue progresses. The idea is like gradually winding up a spring, literally “raising the tension,” which (we hope!) compliments the gripping drama on screen.”
In “Bodies,” brief echoing chorale moans, exuding into the sorrowful tones of a church organ, shifts the perspective back to the onlookers, followed by the viewpoint of victims or rescuers in “Crawl” and “Trapped.” A sorrowful solo violin reflects on the loss in the conclusive “Names” while the score ends with the more melodic “Final Run” in which violins play a recurring bowed figure over the increasing sonority of brass and winds, as a final cry of sorrow and remembrance to the tragic event we’ve just experienced.
The digital release of the album from MSM will be followed by a CD release from Quartet Records.
For more information see moviescoremedia
Watch the film’s Danish trailer, which includes portions of the final score:
SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME/Michael Giacchino/Sony Music - digital
Michael Giacchino reprises his melodic theme from 2017’s SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING and 2019’s SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME in somewhat more melancholic form in the third MCU SPIDER-MAN outing. Building on the sonic landscape he established with the first two films while encompassing new themes and a much more expansive score that fits the film’s Multiverse setting, the new score is highly effective, interesting, and exploratory in where it’s taken. There’s a lot for the score to deal with in this film. For the first time in the character’s cinematic history, Spider-Man’s identity is revealed (as seen at the end of FAR FROM HOME), bringing his super hero responsibilities into conflict with his normal life and putting those he cares about most at risk. When he enlists Doctor Strange’s help to restore his secret, the spell tears a hole in their world, releasing the most powerful villains who’ve ever fought a Spider-Man in any universe. Now, Peter will have to overcome his greatest challenge yet, which will not only forever alter his own future but the future of the Multiverse. Giacchino’s Spider-man theme is presented in a very rhythmic way, flowing across the screen and its soundscape like the graceful, flying dance of the web-spinner himself. The story gives the composer an interesting opportunity to take his theme(s) into new areas both in terms of his Spider-Man theme and the intriguing multiverse embodiments of many different Spider-Men, and this unique opportunity allowed Giacchino to bring in themes from several different Spider-Man movies – the previous Spider-Man themes by Danny Elfman, James Horner, and Hans Zimmer have a welcome and nicely configured place in the NO WAY HOME score, along with Giacchino’s own Doctor Strange theme, as do previous villain themes such as Danny Elfman’s Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus themes, Hans Zimmer’s Electro theme, and others which are in the film score but not on the album (Sandman, Lizard). All of these have been fitted nicely into a singular and inclusively expressive composition. The film’s melodic interaction works very well in orchestrating all of these themes and maintaining an uncomplicated, singular presence for the music. The action cues are especially provocative here, from the tribal drums of “World’s Worse Friendly Neighbor,” the introduction of the Spider-men themes and the infusion of guitar and percussion in “Damage Control,” the massive interaction of multiple themes in the brass-heavy fighting of “Sling vs Bling,” the brassy footsteps and harp glisses that open into vibrant, surging, aggressive patterns in “Otto Trouble,” the organized blocks of extended action and multiple thematics in “No Good Deed,” the raging music of clash and crush in “Monster Smash,” the rhythmic drive “Arc Reactor” and its segueing into an advancing epic parade of aggressive forward motion with its rewarding melodic bridge before a rock and roll drum fill carries it into another array of dynamic acceleration, the rough and ragged tones of the Goblin’s music in “Goblin His Inner Demons” – to the more reflective cues like the soft keyboard ruminations of “Being a Spider Bites,” “Gone in a Flash” with its tremolo strings beneath the tentative keyboard melody, “All Spell Breaks Loose” with its slow-burn electric guitar bridge and its suddenly chaotic conclusion with voices, heavy drumming and deep, rotating synth chords, the lovely mellifluous piano and string arrangements of “Exit Through the Lobby” and “A Doom With a View,” the occasional moment of romance such as in “Forget Me Knots,” and the eloquence of strings and harp that provide the respite of satisfactory victory in the concluding “Peter Parker Picked a Perilously Precarious Profession,” swirling into a climactic crescendo with full orchestra and choir. Giacchino’s “End Credits” proffers a multiverse of themes in the ten-minute conclusive “Arachnoverture” for the end credits (or most of them). A thoroughly engrossing, energetic, and entertaining score. From here it will be interesting to see where Danny Elfman takes the musical patterns of where this leaves off in the following MCU film, DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS – not to mention Giacchino’s own next MCU score, THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER.
Listen to “Liberty Parlance” from SPIDER-MAN NO WAY HOME:
TEARS IN RAIN - Forsaken Themes From Fantastic Films, Vol. 1/Various/Perseverance Records – CD
Perseverance Records’ Robin Esterhammer has produced this intriguing collection of “deep cuts, rarities, and other cool stuff that I thought might be interesting to soundtrack connoisseurs.” The result is this CD assembly of 23 tracks from eight films in the science-fiction, horror and fantasy genres – re-recordings, orchestral suites, and original soundtracks. The compilation includes music from Vangelis’ BLADE RUNNER, newly performed by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and choirs, Alan Derian’s tense opening theme to the previously unreleased soundtrack to the horror-comedy SHREDDER (2001), the rejected original score by the rock band Coil to Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER (newly recorded by multi-instrumentalist/producer Ryan Dodson), world premiere original score excerpts of PROM NIGHT II-IV by Paul Zaza (following up on the label’s 2019 premiere release of the first Zaza/Carl Zittrer PROM NIGHT soundtrack) and TOM HOLLAND’S TWISTED TALES (Joe Renzetti), as well as the world premiere release of all the songs from THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN INVINCIBLE (performed by Alan Arkin & Christopher Lee among others). I found the songs of the latter to be of limited interest and in odd contrast to the score tracks before them, I’m sure others will find them more intriguing; but Zaza, Renzetti, and Derian tracks as well as Dodson’s Coil/HELLRAISER music were definite must-haves. Also the 10:32 orchestral suite from BLADE RUNNER was a very commendable performance and an excellent opener to the collection. All of these earns a welcome must-have recommendation from me. For more details, see perseverance.
WELCOME TO EARTH/Daniel Pemberton/Disney – digital
This 6-part Disney+ original series from National Geographic, hosted by Will Smith, follows the actor on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure around the world. Daniel Pemberton’s score is a captivating sonic journey; far more than the usual nature documentary sound but a fascinating, fully encapsulated orchestral/synthetic collection of unique and hypnotizing musical formations. The music, feeling like a continual drive across the Earth, ranges from the entrancing floating textures and vocalisms of “Welcome to Earth/Hello” and the drum-driven floating fragrances of “Bioluminescence,” to the spiraling configurations of “The Descent;” the converging beats and dappled sonic enhancements of “Mosquito Bay,” the electronic vapors, eerie cries, and drum beats of “Infrasound” to the sparkling colors and percussive drive of “Earth Tides,” and the dangerous flaming confrontation of “Lava Approach” with its rapid synth beats and fiery, roiling pad; the sharp, heavy electronics of “Tectonic Pulse,” the light keyboard arpeggios of “The Olm,” and the gentle, woodwindy calmness of “Flutter Repeat;” the wary claustrophobia of “1500 Feet Below” to the dancing percussive and earthy textures of “Huli Hunter” and the concluding structured synthetic cadence of “Iguacu,” before a return to where we began with “Welcome To Earth/Goodbye.” The score is pure Pemberton at his most creative, constructing a documentary score using dramatic language, elements of mysterioso, fusion, driving sonic configurations, discordant harmonics, and other variegated sonic techniques. It’s a fascinating, admirable, and intriguingly score worth exploring in multiple listens.
Joseph Trapanese (SHADOW AND BONE, THE RAID, TRON LEGACY) takes over in THE WITCHER: Season 2 where Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli left off in Season 1, and its an effective handoff in maintaining a similar textural, driving sensibility. Based on the best-selling fantasy series of books, THE WITCHER is an epic tale of fate and family. The story of the intertwined destinies of three individuals in the vast world of The Continent, where humans, elves, witchers, dwarves, and monsters battle to survive and thrive, and where good and evil is not easily identified. Season 1 follows different timelines in the lives of Geralt, the witch Yennefer, Jaskier and Ciri where the characters are established and eventually all of their timelines collide at the battle of Sodden between the North and the Nilfgaard at the end of the season. The plot for Season 2 begins after the battle of Sodden. Geralt had found Ciri, but Yennefer after using the spell of fire to win the battle has gone missing and is assumed deceased, so Geralt believes getting back to Kaer Morhen for the winter will be the best place for keeping Ciri safe where he can help train her to protect herself in the future, if Geralt is unable to do so. Trapanese incorporates the original Belousova/Ostinelli Witcher theme in three tracks where the narrative calls for it (“The Pendulum,” “Remembering Cintra,” and “Sworn to Protect”) which allows for some welcome continuity between Seasons 1 and 2, and also includes three vocal tracks performed by actor Joey Batey, who plays the role of Jaskier in the show and is the voice behind Season 1’s chart-topping, viral hit song “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher.” Aside from a few thematic tracks, Trapanese’s score is largely textural and driven by the season’s action, of which tracks like “Nilfgaard Attacks,” “Myrapod Chase” are excellent examples. “Elder Blood” is a particularly dark track, associated with the blood that has been rumored to be an ingredient in mutagens used to create witchers, as is “Chernobog,” which starts out quite darkly but ends in a more melodic finale. “Power and Purpose” begins quietly but then grows into a tremendous heroic statement, as does “The Key to the Future,” which includes choir. There is also some respite found in the more melodic structures like “Kaer Morhen,” the sympathetic “Stay With Me,” “Some Wounds Can’t Be Healed,” and “Nivellen,” which is associated with an aristocrat who has been transformed into a beast through a curse, and in “Melitele,” the name of an ancient temple of significance to Geralt.
Watch a video with composer Trapanese walking us through the evolution of scoring THE WITCHER in Season 2:
Hollywood Records digitally releases WEST SIDE STORY Original Motion Picture Soundtrack with composer and conductor David Newman co-producing the soundtrack album and also arranging Leonard Bernstein’s iconic score for Steven Spielberg’s visionary new take on the classic musical. Over the past decade, Newman has worked closely with the Bernstein Estate for live-to-film concert experiences for the original West Side Story, and for this new film worked to preserve and uphold the integrity of this iconic musical which is now more timely than ever. The soundtrack album features 21 songs from the film and is released in both standard digital and physical CD configurations, as well as a digital release in Dolby Atmos. A vinyl will be available in early 2022. Both physical versions will include liner notes by WEST SIDE STORY music consultant, Oscar®-winning composer John Williams. Must Read: Interview with David Newman on “Arranging Steven Spielberg’s Musical Masterpiece,” here.
Golden Globes 2022: Nominations for the 79th Golden Globes have been announced – here are the nominees for film music: BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE
The composer organizations of the five Nordic countries have announced their national nominees for the 12th Annual HARPA Nordic Film Composers Award: Jonas Struck (Denmark) for VORES MAND I AMERIKA, Sanna Salmenkallio (Finland) for AALTO, Þórarinn Guðnason for LAMB, Erik Ljunggren (Norway) for GRITT, and Johan Testad (Sweden) for BJÖRNSTAD. An international jury will determine the winner, which will be announced Saturday Feb 12th during Nordic Film Music Days. For more information: www.nordicfilmmusicdays.com
Kurt Farquhar is scoring the new animated comedy series THE PROUD FAMILY: LOUDER AND PROUDER, a revival of the 2001-2005 series THE PROUD FAMILY which Farquhar, and others, previously scored. The new show is set to premiere on Disney+ in February 2022.
Joseph LoDuca’s most recent work has been the music for Syfy’s new CHUCKY TV series. Based on Don Mancini’s CHILD’S PLAY film franchise, the series serves as a sequel to CULT OF CHUCKY, the seventh film in the franchise (which LoDuca scored, along with the previous CURSE OF CHUCKY). Developed by Syfy and USA Network, the series follows Chucky as he commits a series of mysterious murders in a quiet town in the United States. Read my new interview with LoDuca about scoring Chucky and looking back at EVIL DEAD, XENA, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF, and much more, at musiquefantastique.
Stellar composer duo Brian Tyler (F9: THE FAST SAGA, CRAZY RICH ASIANS) and Breton Vivian (FIVE FEET APART) have released their YELLOWSTONE Season 4–Original Series Soundtrack — available now digitally via Lakeshore Records. In addition to the show’s fourth season, Tyler has also scored 1883, the highly-anticipated prequel to YELLOWSTONE, which follows the Dutton family as they embark on a journey west through the Great Plains toward the last bastion of untamed America.
Listen to Brian Tyler’s first track from the 1883 soundtrack:
John Debney has scored Skydance Animation’s upcoming animated feature LUCK. The movie centers around the unluckiest girl in the world who – after stumbling upon the never-before-seen world of good and bad luck – must join together with magical creatures to uncover a force more powerful than even luck itself. It’s directed by Peggy Holmes (SECRET OF THE WINGS, THE PIRATE FAIRY) and features the voice talent of Jane Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg. The film is expected to premiere early next year on Apple TV+. – via filmmusicreporter
THE LOST CITY (previously announced as THE LOST CITY OF D) is an upcoming American action-adventure romantic comedy film directed by Aaron and Adam Nee. It is being scored by Pinar Toprak (CAPTAIN MARVEL, STARGIRL). The film stars Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, along with Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Brad Pitt in supporting roles. The movie is about a reclusive romance novelist on a book tour with her cover model who gets swept up in a kidnapping attempt that lands them both in a cutthroat jungle adventure. The film is set for release in March 2022.
The new Hulu science fiction thriller, MOTHER/ANDROID, released on December 17th. In a wooded environment where androids have gone to war with their human masters, an expectant mother (played by Chloe Grace-Moretz) and her boyfriend must traverse a stronghold of the AI uprising in hopes of reaching safety… days away from their child being born. The film is scored by composing duo Michelle Birksy & Kevin Olken Henthorn. Read my interview with the composers on their unique scoring challenge, at musiquefantastique.
Alexandra Harwood has scored the second season of the Channel 5/PBS Masterpiece series ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL, which debuts in the UK on Sunday, January 9, 2022. The original series music was composed by the late British composer Johnny Pearson. Harwood’s new theme echoes the original, with a sweeping piano line, bright strings, woodwind, and harp. Silva Screen Records has released a soundtrack album which is available to stream/download on Amazon and other digital music services. A CD version is set to come out on February 4, 2022. For more details see SilvaScreen.
L.A. opera veteran and frequent film music vocalist Ayana Haviv has been doing some amazing vocal work in notable films and television recently. For Jeff Russo, she interpreted an Andorian Opera aria for the third season of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. “Jeff wrote the notes and asked me to sell it Puccini-style – I demoed a version at home, his team orchestrated it to match, a live orchestra brought it to life, and then I sang on top of them. The result is a very satisfyingly over-the-top, melodramatic alien aria!” said Haviv. She also sang on Russo’s main title for Netflix’s CURSED tv show earlier this year, as well as singing the role of an animated character for Rob Cairns’ score to Season 2 of Netflix’s LOVE, DEATH, AND ROBOTS series, shared a haunting duet with Raya Yarbrough on Bear McCreary’s score for FOUNDATION on Apple+, and performed on the soundtrack of James Newton Howard’s JUNGLE CRUISE. For more information on Ayana, see www.ayanahaviv.com
Listen to Ayana Haviv’s “Andorian Opera Aria” from STAR TREK DISCOVERY, Season 3:
Harry Gregson-Williams has continued his collaboration with director Ridley Scott with his score for Scott’s new film THE HOUSE OF GUCCI. The film stars Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani, the wife of Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), as their romance transforms into a fight for control of the Italian fashion brand Gucci. Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, and Al Pacino also star.
French composer Mathieu Lamboley (LUPIN, THE LAST MERCENARY, SISTERS IN ARMS, A MINUSCULE ADVENTURE) has scored Yvan Attal’s drama THE ACCUSATION (Les choses humaines). The film follows the downfall of a French intellectual power couple whose model son is accused of rape. The piano- and woodwind-based soundtrack is now available from the Grande Ourse label, to stream/download on Amazon (and other major digital music stores). Lamboley has also scored Antonin Peretjatko’s new comedy, LA PIECE REPORTÉE (The Deferred Piece), this album is a release of the 440Hz label under exclusive license from Atelier de Production.
Grande Ourse also announces that the tender and passionate score for Jerôme Bonnell’s new romance film, CHÈRE LÉA (The Love Letter), composed by David Sztanke, is available on all streaming platforms. With minimalist themes on the piano, David delicately accompanies the sentimental torments of the protagonist Jonas, interpreted by Grégory Montel. A release of the 440Hz label for Grand Piano, available on Amazon in the US.
Chuck Cirino (MIMESIS NOSFERATU, A DOGGONE ADVENTURE, COBRAGATOR, BIG BAD MAMA II, CHOPPING MALL) has completed scoring NO NAME & DYNAMITE, a new Western directed by Errol Sack (FOXTROT TANGO, RUSTY TULLOCH) and starring Natalie Burn, Vernon Wells, Bonnie Morgan, Don Collier. “Hats off to all the Italian 1960s and 70s spaghetti western film composers who inspired this score for a really wild film,” Chuck posted on Facebook. Release date: Feb 22, 2022. Chuck reports that a soundtrack album is in the works.
Lakeshore Records has released INTRODUCING, SELMA BLAIR the original motion picture soundtrack, featuring score by Raphaelle Thibaut. The critically acclaimed documentary about actress Selma Blair’s journey after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis is streaming on Discovery+. The soundtrack is available now at these links. Lakeshore has also released SHAUN THE SHEEP: THE FLIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, featuring the original motion picture soundtrack music by Tom Howe (A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON, EARLY MAN, THE MATING GAME). Listen to the score at these links. Listen to Howe’s track “Christmas Fizz” below:
Lakeshore Records has also released the soundtrack to the Amazon Original science fiction thriller ENCOUNTER, with music by Jed Kurzel. Two young brothers are on the run with their father, an ex-Marine, who is trying to protect them from an inhuman threat. The boys are faced with leaving their childhood behind as they encounter a new reality that is surrounded by danger. The soundtrack is now available at these links.
Milan Records has released the third season soundtrack for the Netflix science fiction series, LOST IN SPACE. Christopher Lennertz has composed the entire series scores as well as the show’s new title theme; both affectionately integrate elements of John Williams’ music from the classic original TV series. Play or download the soundtrack from these links. See my interview with Lennertz about scoring the show’s first season in my April 2018 Soundtrax.
The composers of the first season of THE WITCHER, Sonya Belousova & Giona Ostinelli, have created “The Witcher Suite,” a digital single containing new instrumental and choral versions of three of their cues from THE WITCHER Season 1: “Geralt of Rivia,” “The Song of the White Wolf,” and “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher.” Available from amazon and other digital/streaming sources.
Sony Classical has released digitally the original motion picture soundtrack by Jonathan Sanford from STXfilm’s new sports drama NATIONAL CHAMPIONS for purchase and streaming at these links. The film, directed by Ric Roman Waugh (GREENLAND, ANGEL HAS FALLEN), is now playing exclusively in theaters.
Silva Screen Records has released the horror soundtrack THE HITCHER, composer Mark Isham's genre redefining electronic score about a murderous hitchhiker in relentless pursuit of a young motorist. The soundtrack has been commercially unavailable for close to 30 years. Asked by the producers to compose a copycat score of John Williams’ JAWS, Isham bravely produced the opposite, steering clear from genre defining sharp orchestral motifs and stabbing dissonances and instead immersed himself in 80s cutting edge electronics and samples. The album is available from SilvaUK
Mattel & Arts Music has released the second part of Bear McCreary’s music for the Netflix animated series MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION on digital. The label previously released the first volume featuring selections of the composer’s score from Part 1 this past summer (enthusiastically reviewed in my August 2021 Soundtrax). Watch a cool video of series creator Kevin Smith and composer Bear McCreary discussing the scoring process on YouTube.
In further Bear McCreary news, he’s scored Adam Sherman’s crime comedy THIS GAME’S CALLED MURDER, which follows the daughter of an iconic women’s luxury footwear designer who sabotages her sadistic father’s business. The film stars Ron Perlman, Natasha Henstridge, Vanessa Marano, and Judson Mills. The digital soundtrack has been released by the composer’s boutique label, Sparks & Shadows, and is available on Spotify.
AMERICAN NIGHT is a stylish neo-noir film set in New York City’s contemporary art world; it is the feature film debut of director Alessio Della Valle, who also wrote the screenplay. Marco Beltrami composed the original score along with Ceiri Torjussen with additional music provided by Buck Sanders and Michael Picton. The movie was released in select theaters and on VOD this past October by Saban Films and is now also available on Blu-ray and DVD. – via filmmusicreporter. A soundtrack album is being released by MovieScore Media.
Torjussen has also scored INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES, which opened in US theaters on Nov.19. It will be releasing theatrically in the UK and other territories soon. Written and directed by Geeta Malik this is a delightfully fun and moving Indian-American dramedy.
Watch the film’s trailer (the trailer music is not Torjussen’s score, it’s licensed music for the trailer):
Marc Shaiman will compose the score for Billy Eichner’s BROS. The film is directed by Nicholas Stoller (NEIGHBORS, FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL) and stars a tremendous gaggle of LGBTQ+ performers. The movie centers on two men with commitment issues who attempt a relationship.
Back Lot Music has released the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for the arthouse drama, WOLF, A high-concept arthouse drama about a boy who believes he is a wolf, with music by composer Stefan Wesolowski. “The story of WOLF is beautifully uncanny to say the least, so it was clear to me that I should find an equally unique musical language in keeping with the film’s spirit,” said the composer. “It’s a score that pulsates with the blood pumping in your veins, sways gently in the wind with the leaves, and runs wild and free through the woods under a full moon all while grounding the incredible primal journey of its fascinating characters.” Download/stream the album here.
Sony Music Soundtracks has released the music of Swedish composer Matti Bye (YOUNG WALLANDER, THE SIMPLE HEIST, LIFE AFTER DEATH) for the Netflix teen drama series YOUNG ROYALS, a 6-episode show focusing on Prince Wilhelm of Sweden, his budding gay romance with a fellow student and the drama that comes with it as he adjusts to life at his prestigious new boarding school, Hillerska. A second season is now in production, to be released in 2022.
Plaza Mayor Company has released a soundtrack to PRIVATE DESERT (Deserto Particular) which is the 2022 Oscars official Brazilian selection. Scored by Felipe Ayres, the film is about a police officer who is suspended after an internal investigation, wandering the country in search of a real encounter with his Internet love. Listen to the score on Spotify; see Plaza Mayor’s latest releases here.
Nami Melumad (AN AMERICAN PICKLE, STAR TREK: PRODIGY, ABSENTIA, MEDAL OF HONOR: ABOVE AND BEYOND) has composed the original score for the upcoming Netflix limited series THE WOMAN IN THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE GIRL IN THE WINDOW. The satirical crime thriller follows a heartbroken woman who starts to see a light at the end of the tunnel when a handsome neighbor and his adorable daughter move in across the street. -via filmmusicreporter.
Milan Records has released THE WHEEL OF TIME: Season 1, Vol. 3, the third and final volume of music from the first season of the Amazon original series featuring the music composed by Lorne Balfe. The 14-track collection provides a foundation for the fantasy series’ rich soundscape, with many of Balfe’s final score cues developing as variations of these initial themes. The digital soundtrack is now available at these links. In additional news, Balfe is set to reteam with director Mikael Håfström (1408, DERAILED) on the upcoming psychological sci-fi thriller SLINGSHOT. The film, starring Casey Affleck, Laurence Fishburne, Emily Beecham, Tomer Capone and David Morrissey, tells the story of an astronaut who struggles to keep his grip on reality during a potentially fatally-compromised mission to a Saturnian moon. Balfe also has a new soundtrack available from Lakeshore Records, SILENT NIGHT, the new dark comedy starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode about a young family that welcomes friends and family for what promises to be a perfect Christmas gathering. Perfect except for one thing: everyone is going to die. Cinemacy has described Balfe’s score thusly: “Rapturous orchestration builds throughout the piece until it reaches a moment of calm, which is where the strong soloists take over and ease the suspense.” The soundtrack album is available now at these links.
Listen to Balfe’s track “Stille Nacht” below:
THE TOWER is a British mystery series scored by Nainita Desai, whose soundtrack has been released digitally by Silva Screen Records. The three-part show follows the mysterious and sudden deaths of a police officer and a teenage girl who both fall to their deaths from a tower block in east London, leaving a five-year-old boy and rookie police officer Lizzie Griffiths alone on the roof, only for them to go missing. Detective Sergeant Sarah Collins is drafted in to investigate, working to find Lizzie before she comes to serious harm, but also to uncover the truth behind the grisly tower block deaths. The intriguing relationships between the characters served as a strong inspiration for Desai’s electronic based score. “The texture of the music is quite dirty, distorted and rich reflecting the contemporary, gritty aesthetic of London. It allowed me to return to my first love of synths and electronics. Strings, distorted piano and percussion under twisted and constantly shifting intricate synth textures all find their way into the rich pulsating score. I also wanted the presence of the Tower itself to be felt looming over the character and story like a living breathing creature, so I imbued a sound that is interwoven into the score whenever the presence of the tower most needed to be felt.” For details see SilvaScreen.
It’s quite a compelling score. Listen to the “Opening” from THE TOWER:
Paramount+’s new computer-animated streaming television series BIG NATE, based on the comic strip and book series of the same name by Lincoln Peirce, follows the adventures of the titular protagonist, alongside his friends, in sixth grade. The show is being scored by Frederik Wiedmann (OCCUPATION: RAINFALL, 9 YEARS TO NEPTUNE, THE DRAGON PRINCE) and is set to premiere in early 2022.
Set in the near future, SWAN SONG is a powerful, emotional journey told through the eyes of a loving husband and father (Mahershala Ali), diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor (Glenn Close) to shield his family from grief. The Apple Original Film, which premiered on December 17, features music by Jay Wadley (I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS), who provides a transcendent score that evokes deeply felt emotions while maintaining a striking sense of space and minimalism. “My inspiration for the score for SWAN SONG was drawn from connecting with Cam’s profound love for his family and tapping into his internal struggle, sense of loss, and urgency of his monumental dilemma. There’s a sense of openness and space in the composition, production, and instrumentation of the score that allows moments to breathe while still providing the emotional undercurrent of tension, love and sense of urgency to the unfolding story.” Available from these links.
Varèse Sarabande has released a Deluxe Edition of John Debney’s score to 2003’s ELF. Will Ferrell starred as Buddy, a human raised as an over-sized elf, who travels from the North Pole to NYC to meet his biological father who doesn’t know he exists and is in desperate need of some Christmas spirit. Varèse released a soundtrack at the time of the film; the new edition features an expanded score program, as well as the alternate and edited tracks from the 2003 CD. Liner notes by Tim Greiving feature new interview material with Favreau, Debney and one of the film’s stars, Mary Steenburgen. Limited to 2,000 copies worldwide. For more information, see Varèse Sarabande.
New to their Digital Download series, BuySoundtrax offers three exclusive, previously unreleased soundtracks: Dennis McCarthy’s (STAR TREK: TNG) score to the motion picture LAST PLANE OUT starring Jan-Michael Vincent and Julie Carmen. As Nicaragua falls to the Sandinistas, reporter Jack Cox must get himself and two colleagues to safety. Their route to the airport in time for the last plane out of the country proves to be a dangerous one. Louis Febre’s (ALIEN TRESPASS, SMALLVILLE) score for the 1995 film TWO-BITS & PEPPER, starring Joe Piscopo, Lauren Eckstrom, Rachel Crane and Dennis Weaver. The film is about two bumbling look-alike criminal brothers Zike and Spider who kidnap best friends Katie and Tyler; the two girls must use their smarts and few booby traps to try and escape their captors. But not without the help from a pony named Two-Bits and a horse named Pepper – who must come to the girls’ rescue. Mark Snow’s (X-FILES) score for the 1994 motion picture THE SUBSTITUTE WIFE starring Peter Weller, Lea Thompson, and Farrah Fawcett. The film takes place in the pioneer days of Nebraska, and is about a woman who knows she is going to die asks a prostitute to replace her with her husband and four children in order to make it possible for them to keep their family farm. For details see BuySoundtrax.
Composer Arthur Sharpe (THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN, GUILT miniseries, FLOWERS tv series) has scored the upcoming British true crime miniseries LANDSCAPERS which revolves around the true story of the 1998 murders of Nottinghamshire residents William and Patricia Wycherley who were killed by their daughter and her husband in a crime that remained undiscovered for over a decade. The four-part series stars Olivia Coleman and David Thewlis, and is playing on HBO in the US and on Sky The soundtrack album is available from Silva Screen.
Republic Records has released the digital soundtrack album for the Netflix original film DON’T LOOK UP. In this new film, an astronomy grad student (Jennifer Lawrence) and her professor (Leonardo DiCaprio) make an astounding discovery of a comet orbiting within the solar system. The problem – it’s on a direct collision course with Earth. The other problem? No one really seems to care. Turns out warning mankind about a planet-killer the size of Mount Everest is an inconvenient fact to navigate. Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Chiklis, Tomer Sisley, Paul Guilfoyle, Robert Joy, Cate Blanchett, and Meryl Streep co-star. Nicholas Britell (THE BIG SHORT, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, CRUELLA) composed the film’s score. The film was released to theaters on December 10 and premiered on Netflix December 24th.
Christopher Young reports that he will be scoring an episode of GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, a new horror anthology series. The episode will be directed by David Prior (for whom Young scored THE EMPTY MAN in 2020). For more details on the series, see this article at Variety.
Quartet Records of Spain has announced their final batch of four soundtracks for the year: beginning with a mammoth 3-CD set of Henry Mancini’s complete scores for the last three films in the Pink Panther franchise directed by Blake Edwards but filmed without the inimitable Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau (Sellers died in 1980), TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER (1982), CURSE OF THE PINK PANTHER (1983), and SON OF THE PINK PANTHER (1993). For this box, set the label is presenting for the first time the entire score for SON as prepared by Mancini, with several unreleased pieces and the actual film versions of others. TRAIL and CURSE are remastered reissues of the previous—and long out-of-print—Intrada and Quartet releases. Also released is a completely restored, remastered, slightly expanded edition of John Barry’s score for ZULU (1964), about the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, a heroic moment for the British army in the aftermath of a massacre that had occurred just hours earlier at nearby Isandlwana, a British outpost near the Natal-Zululand border in eastern South Africa (which earlier incident by the way was later recreated for 1979’s prequel film ZULU DAWN, scored by Elmer Bernstein). The third CD is a greatly expanded CD of an early Nino Rota/Federico Fellini collaboration: IL BIDONE (1955), which tells of a trio of con men who are each faced with the consequences of their unlawful action. Rota’s score is as versatile as his later Fellini collaborations with a series of great themes that are already classics in the pantheon of the Rota-Fellini collaboration. And finally we’re presented with a 50th-anniversary remastered edition of the innovative, cult-classic score by Ennio Morricone, 1971’s MADDALENA starring Lisa Gastoni as the title character and Eric Woofe as the priest whose faith she tests; an erotic drama mixed into a beautiful fever dream. While the score itself is highly psychedelic, the self-contained “Chi mai” turned out to be an overnight success, eventually given lyrics and recorded in multiple languages. See more details at Quartet Records.
To mark its 200th CD album and to conclude the celebration of its 10th anniversary in 2021, Music Box Records of France proudly presents the fifth volume of the collection Great Television Soundtracks dedicated to two original television soundtracks composed and conducted by Georges Delerue: LES ROIS MAUDITS (The Accursed Kings, 1972) and LANCELOT DU LAC (Lancelot of the Lake, 1970). For these two mini-series, Delerue’s gift for melody and enormous versatility are once again demonstrated with these stunningly colorful scores. Delerue’s writing is always overflowing with melody, lyricism, heart, and a sense of wonder. For LES ROIS MAUDITS, the composer created a gorgeous musical portrait in finest historical idiom; for LANCELOT DU LAC, Delerue provided colorful music for full orchestra surrounded by an authentic ensemble of medieval instruments. Remastered from the complete master elements courtesy of Delerue's archives, this present edition features the world premiere releases of these two gorgeous television scores. The release is limited to 1000 units. Also announced is the premiere CD release of Claude Bolling scores for three films directed by Buster Keaton: THE NAVIGATOR (1924), SEVEN CHANCES (1925) and STEAMBOAT BILL JR. (1928). These films were rediscovered in the 1960s, and Bolling was hired to compose new scores for the restored films. And the label’s third new release is for the feature-length animation PIL (aka PIL’S ADVENTURES) composed and orchestrated by Olivier Cussac, and performed by the Orchestre National d’Īle-de-France. This animated film for children mixes acrobatics and discoveries in a medieval-fantasy universe. After scoring THE JUNGLE BUNCH and TERRA WILLY, UNEXPLORED PLANET (also released by Music Box Records), Cussac provides an exciting and classic fully orchestral adventure score. The album is available on CD and digital version. See MusicBoxRecords.
Composer Navid Hejazi has written an effective soundtrack to GUIDANCE, the composer fusing electronic with symphonic and employing solo performances from piano and cello, it is a delicate and fragile sounding work that contains alluring themes and lilting melodies. Available from Plaza Mayor on digital platforms.
- via Jon Mansell’s Soundtrack Supplement #54.
WaterTower Music has released a digital soundtrack album for the HBO Max original movie 8-BIT CHRISTMAS. The album features the film’s score by Joseph Trapanese. Set in late 1980s Chicago, a ten-year-old sets out on a quest to get the Christmas gift of his generation – the latest and greatest video game system. There are difficulties.
Mark Isham is scoring the upcoming action comedy THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT. The film is directed by Tom Gormican (THAT AWKWARD MOMENT) and stars Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, and Sharon Horgan. The movie centers on the fictionalized version of Cage who, cash-strapped, agrees to make a paid appearance at a billionaire super fan’s birthday party, but is really an informant for the CIA investigating the billionaire fan, who is really a drug kingpin. -via filmmusicreporter.
George Kallis (CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, AFTER WE FELL, THE BLACK PRINCE – see my interview in the October 2021 Soundtrax) has been tapped to score the upcoming romantic drama FIRST LOVE. The film is written and directed by A.J. Edwards (THE BETTER ANGELS) and revolves around a senior in high school who experiences the highs and lows of his first love, while his parents are dealing with the familial fallout spurred by the financial crisis of 2008.
Anne-Kathrin Dern’s latest score is for THE CLAUS FAMILY 2, a 2021 fantasy feature film directed by Ruben Vandenborre which is a sequel to the 2020 film Dern previously scored. “This isn’t your average feel-good Christmas movie,” says Dern. “It’s a profound story about grief and loss during times of Holidays. The score very much tries to capture that struggle and alternates between isolating melancholy, exhilarating adventure, hopeful warmth, and Christmas joy.” The digital soundtrack is available from MovieScoreMedia.
Noted Japanese composer Shin’ichir? Ikebe (Kurosawa’s KAGEMUSHA, DREAMS, RHAPSODY IN AUGUST) has gotten some new attention for his latest score, NOBUTORA, a period drama about the feudal lord Takeda Nobutora, a Japanese historical daimy? who controlled the Province of Kai and fought in a number of battles of the Sengoku period. He was the father of the pre-eminent daimy? Takeda Shingen. Nobutora, now 80 years old, learns that Shingen is in trouble and the old man returns home to keep the Takeda family alive as a new leader seeks to usurp leadership of the Takeda’s and starts a fight with Oda. Ikebe’s music is reported to be an interesting mix of orchestra and traditional Japanese instruments.
Patrick Stump (GNOME ALONE, MARVEL’s SPIDEY AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS, CHANGELAND, lead singer of Fall Out Boy) has released a soundtrack album for the horror comedy BLACK FRIDAY. The album features Stump’s original score and songs from the film. The film is directed by Casey Tebo and stars Devon Sawa, Bruce Campbell, Michael Jai White, Ivana Baquero, and Ryan Lee. The movie follows a group of disgruntled toy store employees who must defend themselves against holiday shoppers turned into monstrous creatures by an alien parasite on Black Friday. -via filmmusicreporter
Milan Records releases THE LOST DAUGHTER (Soundtrack From The Netflix Film) with music by Dickon Hinchliffe (WINTER’S BONE, LOCKE). Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her feature directorial debut about a woman’s beach vacation that takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past. Of the soundtrack, Hinchliffe says, “Director Maggie Gyllenhaal’s idea was for the music to sound like a ‘found’ record – a vintage piece of vinyl that would become the score for the film. The challenge was to combine this feeling of spontaneity with the complex emotional language of the film and its central character Leda. I wrote a main theme for Leda, and then variations of it that engage with her constantly shifting psychological state. Other themes grew from the flashbacks of her younger self dealing with the emotional pressures of motherhood and her growing unease as these pressures return in the present. We used vintage recording techniques and equipment at Abbey Road Studios to create an analogue sound influenced by film scores, jazz, and popular music from the 1950’s and 60’s.”
The album is available at these links.
KeepMoving Records of Russia makes its first foray into animation with a rejected score for THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING, a 2004 animated film based on the classic short story by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The music was originally designed to be an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s ballet by composer Yuri Kasparov; when the movie was reconceptualized and new scenes were added, the music no longer fit the movie. A second animated film is also available: QUACKERZ, composed by Dmitry Noskov and Alexander Maslov based on the classic Tchaikovsky ballet; the film is a Russian-Chinese co-production telling the story of a group of mandarin ducks whose worldview is challenged by a flock of mallards flying over their territory. With swashbuckling and flying going hand in hand, QUACKERZ offers one of the most energetic scores of recent Russian film scoring. The label also offers two stage soundtracks by composer Pavel Tursunov, one of which also includes selections from three films scored by Tursunov. For details, see keepmoving.
Congratulations to Daniel Pemberton for his Critics Choice Documentary Award in the Best Score category for THE RESCUE, which chronicled the engrossing, against-all-odds story that transfixed the world in 2018: the daring rescue of twelve boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand. The film is directed by Academy Award winners E. Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin (FREE SOLO, 14 PEAKS: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE). Hollywood Records has released a soundtrack album for the documentary. Pemberton has also scored WELCOME TO EARTH, a Disney+ original series from National Geographic – see Reviews above.
Blue Bonsai Music has released the soundtrack by Joseph Trapanese for the documentary TO WHAT REMAINS. Directed by Chris Woods the film and centers on Project Recover, a small team of historians, scientists, and military veterans who scour the depths of the ocean and the farthest corners of the earth, to search for and recover the remains of the more than 80,000 Americans missing in action since World War II. The soundtrack is now available to stream/download on Amazon (and any other major digital music services). – via filmmusicreporter <– which see for more details and trailer.
Silva Screen Records has released THE MATING GAME, composer Tom Howe’s original music for David Attenborough’s 5-part BBC series, a landmark natural history series from Silverback Films. This release encompasses five digital albums featuring music from each episode, the first two (GRASSLANDS, OCEANS) released on November 26th and the others (JUNGLES, FRESHWATER, AGAINST ALL ODDS) on December 3rd and 10th Respectively. Series Producer Jeff Wilson says “THE MATING GAME score needed to have a tone that played on the humorous nature of animal courtship and its obvious connections to our own lives, but also not lose the dramatic and wondrous story beats that the natural world often gifts us whilst filming. Tom knew immediately from the outset how to achieve this – his central theme was so clever in how it was able to be shaped to suit stories as diverse as Ostriches displaying to oceanic Flatworms fencing with their penises! He knew how to adventurously turn on an emotional dime to suit the picture, whilst still maintaining musical integrity, and in the end his score elevated our production beyond our wildest dreams.”
BLACK AND MISSING is an important and moving four-episode documentary film that premiered on HBO Max November 23rd. The film is an original documentary series following the Black and Missing Foundation’s fight to bring awareness to marginalized missing persons cases. The film is scored by Emmy Award-Winning TV and film composer Wendell Hanes, who is also the owner of Volition Sound in New York City. Hanes scored both THE BREONNA TAYLOR DOCUMENTARY for Hulu as well as the highly acclaimed feature doc, THE SIT IN: HARRY BELAFONTE HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW. He’s also scored numerous sports shows and TV series, including FAMILY REUNION, STEPHEN A’s WORLD, THE LOWE FILES, and HIS & HERS.
Lakeshore Records has released JFK REVISITED: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS–Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, featuring score by EMMY-winning Composer Jeff Beal (THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM, HOUSE OF CARDS, ROME). The film is intended to inform a new generation that this unresolved murder was indeed shocking and perhaps even calculated. Award-winning director Oliver Stone presents powerful evidence that in the Kennedy case, “conspiracy theory” is now “conspiracy fact.” Narrated by Oscar winners Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Sutherland and featuring a renowned team of historians and witnesses, the documentary is now airing on Showtime. View the album tracklist and album listening links here.
Lakeshore Records has released a soundtrack album for the Netflix documentary 14 PEAKS: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. The album features the film’s original music composed by Nainita Desai, and is now available on major digital music services. The film follows fearless Nepali mountaineer Nimsdai Purja as he embarks on a seemingly impossible quest to summit all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks in seven months. Desai notes: “This story has it all – danger, tragedy, love, humanity, drama, intimacy, heroism. I felt there was enormous potential to represent the wide range of emotional highs and lows in the film with the score… The brief was to compose with a symphonic sound palette. There are 14 mountains to summit in the film, and each mountain had it’s different musical challenges and difficulties. The scale of the story was also quite daunting. I felt I had to match the physical scale of the task at hand by painting with broad brush strokes. Composing the score was like preparing for my own mountain climb. Each musical cue was epic in it’s own way. I knew strings would play a large feature because they can handle the vast landscapes of the region but could also be brought down to a singular violin for emotional connection.” The soundtrack is now available at these links.
Listen to a video about creating the documentary’s score:
Alan Derian has composed the music for THE DESIRE TO LIVE, a feature documentary detailing the stories of the survivors of the war in the Republic of Artsakh. The docu is an official selection in 32 film festivals worldwide, and has already won and has won 22 awards, including 2 awards at the Cannes Film Festival for Best Director Documentary Feature for Mariam Avetisyan and Best Indigenous People’s Film. For more information see Alan’s website and listen to the score’s opening music: https://alanderian.com/ and watch the 5:30 minute first episode (and/or others) on YouTube here.
Invada Records and Lakeshore Records have released the original score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis to Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier’s film LA PANTHÈRE DES NEIGES (The Velvet Queen). The soundtrack is one of Ellis and Cave’s most heartfelt and haunting film projects: high up on the Tibetan plateau, amongst unexplored and inaccessible valleys lies one of the last sanctuaries of the wild world, where rare and undiscovered fauna lives. Ellis says in the press notes to the film: “There is something about the heart of this film that draws you in. I realized after a day, that I wanted to do whatever it took to compose an entire original score. The film deserved to have its own musical voice. I booked five days and asked Nick if he could come in for a day to write a theme song and play some piano. He saw the film and stayed for four days. In the end we made what I think is one of the most beautiful films we have ever worked on. One of my favorite experiences ever working on a project. The stars are the animals in all their wild glory, as we have never seen them before, and man in reverence and wonder.”
Watch the film’s trailer, in French but the music is from the soundtrack:
Relámpago has released a soundtrack album for the Spanish documentary A FORBIDDEN ORANGE (La Naranja Prohibida). The album features the film’s original music composed by Remate (NEBOA, PECKINPAH SUITE) & Wild Honey (aka Guillermo Farré). The film is directed by Pedro González Bermúdez, narrated by Malcolm McDowell, and reconstructs the events that took place in the days surrounding the first public screening of Stanley Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE in Spain in 1975, four years after its original premiere had been banned by the Spanish dictatorship. The digital soundtrack is available via Remate’s bandcamp page and from Amazon.
Brian Satterwhite’s score for BONEYARD ALASKA just won the award for Best Score for a Documentary film at the Kiez Berlin Film Festival. The film, directed by Paul Andrew Lawrence, follows the efforts of Alaskan gold miner John Reeves to unearth the bones of Ice Age creatures that remain in a permafrost deep-freeze, in pristine condition, and represent an unprecedented window into the life of the Pleistocene Epoch. For more information on the film, see boneyardalaska.
Milan Records has released two albums of score music by composer and musician Dan Deacon for two critically-acclaimed documentaries. Tracing the history of surveillance technology and its implications on the objectivity of human perception, ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE marks the third collaboration between Deacon and director Theo Anthony, with the duo working closely from the film’s inception to develop a fitting soundscape for the sprawling science-nonfiction. Deacon enlisted the trio of Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar, Andrew Bernstein on alto sax, and Owen Gardner on cello for an improvised recording session to provide the bulk of the score’s instrumentation. Using the session to carve out an initial electroacoustic soundtrack, Deacon then worked in tandem with Anthony to tweak and refine the music as the film progressed. The final, 13-track collection is a result of this collaborative evolution of sound, deftly mirroring the film’s storytelling arc as it expands to encompass new instruments, textures and layers until it eventually reaches a toppling crescendo. Listen/download from these links. From director Jessica Kingdon, ASCENSION examines the paradoxical relationship between the contemporary “Chinese Dream” and notions of labor, consumerism and wealth in the People’s Republic of China. Deacon again laid the groundwork for the score with an improvised recording session, this time with the string duo of Ledah Finck on violin and Owen Gardner on cello. He then drew upon a sizable library of field recordings from the film’s various shooting locations across China, utilizing the diverse sounds as samples throughout the score. Deacon expertly interweaves the sounds of cryptocurrency mines, sex-doll factories, indoor malls, and more into his score, transporting viewers to the onscreen locations with a seamless marriage between image, score, and sound design. Listen/download from these links.
Panu Aaltio’s latest documentary score is for the Finnish film TALE OF THE SLEEPING GIANTS, which revolves around the fells – barren mountains – of Sápmi in northern Europe. It is about the terrain, wildlife and mythology of the region. “Being the third film in the Tale series, I was searching for new timbres,” said the composer. Using the vocal group Tuuletar as well as the amazing orchestra Tapiola Sinfonietta, Aaltio made the score sound both familiar and different. “The music portrays the full range of Lapland, from the magical, cold landscapes of winter, to nature’s vibrant colors and life in the summer,” he said. Available now from MovieScore Media.
Lakeshore Records has released a soundtrack album for the Apple TV+ documentary special 9/11: INSIDE THE PRESIDENT’S WAR ROOM. The album features the film’s original music composed by Segun Akinola (DOCTOR WHO). The soundtrack is now available to stream/download on Amazon (and any other major digital music services). The film is directed by Adam Wishart and narrated by Jeff Daniels, and recounts the 12 hours after the 9/11 strike through the eyes of the presidency by gaining unprecedented access to the key decision makers who responded for the nation. The doc premiered this past September in the UK on BBC One and in the U.S. on Apple TV+. – via filmmusicreporter
Mondo, in conjunction with WaterTower Music, are proud to present a deluxe, limited expanded, deluxe edition vinyl soundtrack release of one of the most beloved films of all time: THE WIZARD OF OZ. The disc is housed in a pop-up, accordion style jacket that creates a rainbow diorama of the titular Oz, complete with subtle easter eggs littered throughout. Remastered for vinyl, featuring 53 tracks from the film itself (including the full original soundtrack, outtakes, extended versions, and alternate versions never before released on vinyl) and pressed on 3x 180 gram colored vinyl from legendary pressing plant RTI, and limited to 3,000 copies. See Mondo.
Mondo also offers the first vinyl pressing of Bear McCreary’s live concert album SO SAY WE ALL: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA LIVE, from the composer’s Sparks and Shadows label. See Mondo.
Death Waltz Recording Company reports that the second release in their Heisei Era soundtrack series, GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH, will be available shortly. The Mondo exclusive is pressed on “Micro Oxygen Beam” vinyl (pink & white swirl), with a Destoroyah roar sound chip in the gatefold. Numbered to 2500 copies only; expected to ship in January 2022. See Mondo.
Waxwork Records, in partnership with Milan Records and Netflix, presents ARMY OF THE DEAD original motion picture score featuring the fully electronic score on vinyl by Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL. This is a deluxe double LP album featuring never before seen interactive packaging with new artwork and design by Oliver Barrett. Listeners must tear open the screaming visage of Zeus, the film’s zombie leader, to reveal a locked vault door. The packaging then expands into a neon pink and yellow soaked triple gatefold which unlocks the vault to reveal a horde of Las Vegas zombies inside. As the listener continues opening the album packaging, and all zombies are killed, you'll be greeted by Valentine, the film’s beloved (and first ever?) zombie tiger! The score has been pressed to 180 gram neon pink and yellow vinyl and the album features exclusive liner notes by director Zack Snyder. See Waxwork.
Jackpot Records presents the 1984 soundtrack to David Lynch’s DUNE, scored by Toto and Brian Eno. Sourced from the original master tapes and given an audiophile pressing at RTI, the LP is available for pre-order and has an estimated ship date of 01/07/22. See Light In The Attic.
Mondo presents a 30th anniversary re-issue of John Williams’ score to the beloved Steven Spielberg film HOOK. Featuring beautiful artwork by Devin Elle Kurtz, liner notes by John Takis, it is pressed on 2x 180 gram Colored vinyl (also available on 2x 180 Gram black vinyl). See Mondo.
Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy has won Best Soundtrack at this year’s PlayStation Blog Awards. The game’s score was composed by Richard Jacques. “The infectious exuberance of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy extends beyond its snappy dialogue and eye-popping alien vistas. Eidos-Montréal crammed a real who’s-who of 1980s chart-toppers to convey, with music, the same over-the-top excitement found in its gameplay – and then went the extra mile to create a fictional ‘80s metal band that could easily slot into a metalhead’s modern playlist. And let’s not forget the sweeping, adventurous score… just an audio treat to behold,” reads the winning announcement blurb. Congrats to Richard and the songwriters!
Available now from Walt Disney Records, the original soundtrack from ILMxLAB’s Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge features score by composers Bear McCreary, Joseph Trapanese, and composer/technical audio designer, Danny Piccione. The game is a virtual-reality experience inspired by Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom of Disneyland and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. The full gaming experience is now available on the Meta Quest 2 platform (formerly Oculus Quest).
Three new soundtracks from Ubisoft Music feature new music from Far Cry® 6’s newly released and forthcoming offerings of downloadable content (DLC), based on iconic villains from past entries in the franchise. The first DLC in support of Far Cry 6 is Vaas: Insanity, which features a playable version of the iconic villain Vaas from Far Cry® 3, originally played by Better Call Saul’s Michael Mando, who resumes his role here once again. The soundtrack, composed by Will Bates, is now available on digital platforms, accompanying the release of the DLC itself. The two upcoming DLC episodes – Pagan: Control and Joseph: Collapse as well as their respective soundtracks by Bates – will be released in 2022. Will Bates is an award-winning composer, multi-instrumentalist and founder of music production company Fall On Your Sword. He has composed original scores for a myriad of films including NIGHTFLYERS, CHARMED, AWAY, THE MAGICIANS, and IMPERIUM. “I loved getting into the twisted mind of this character,” Bates describes. “Uncovering his darkest secrets and obsessions allowed me to pick from so many musical colors. I found myself writing rich musical passages and then taking a sledgehammer to them to build these sonic landscapes for the game. I love to experiment with unusual sounds so this was such a fun project, and working with the Ubisoft team is always a pleasure.” (The Far Cry 6 game itself has been scored by Pedro Bromfman, and a complete original game soundtrack is currently available on digital platforms.)
Lakeshore Records in partnership with Ubisoft Music have released Einar Selvik’sAssassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Weft of Spears (from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Original Game Soundtrack), available now digitally on all major music services worldwide. The album comes almost a year after the successful The Wave of Giants soundtrack release. Purchase link here.
Listen to Selvik’s track “Trust and Treachery:”
Randall D. Larson was for many years senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine. A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema and Music from the House of Hammer. He currently writes articles on film music and sf/horror cinema, and has written liner notes for nearly 300 soundtrack CDs. Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copyediting assistance.