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Soundtrax Episode 2018-4
July 25, 2018

Feature Interview:

Pinar Toprak’s Musical Voyage to KRYPTON

Soundtrack Reviews:
DESERT MIGRATION (Gil Talmi), DOGGED (James Griffiths), DOWNRANGE (Aldo Shllaku), GENIUS: PICASSO (Lorne Balfe), GODLESS (Carlos Rafael Rivera), KARMA (Kristian Sensini), LACRIMOSA (Elia Cmiral), RAUL - DIRITTO DI UCCIDRE (Andrea Morricone), SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO/ (Hildur Guðnadóttir)

Book, Soundtrack, Vinyl, & Game Music News




When Pinar Toprak was announced as the composer for the Syfy original series, KRYPTON, it was exciting news for her fans and followers of her career. The Turkish-born composer has demonstrated her skill and sensitivity in scoring films of many kinds, with an especially fertile melodic imagination that has colored much of her work. Toprak is a two-time winner of “best score” in the genre category [Documentary, Comedy] from the International Film Music Critics Association; last year she provided additional music to DC’s JUSTICE LEAGUE scored by Danny Elfman. KRYPTON, which premiered last March 21st and completed its first ten-episode season on May 23rd, was developed by David S. Goyer & Cameron Welsh and centered on DC character Seg-El, the legendary Man of Steel’s grandfather, as a young man who is faced with a life and death conflict: save his home planet or let it be destroyed in order to restore the fate of his future grandson. The opportunity to score an action-oriented, science fiction adventure drama such as KRYPTON was a definite boost for Pinar’s career, which has already been rewarded by her being hired to score the next new super hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel, when she debuts next Spring.
I spoke with Pinar last April about her approach to scoring KRYPTON as well as a few other notable films on her filmography.

Q: How did the opportunity to write additional music for JUSTICE LEAGUE benefit your career?

Pinar Toprak: I’m such a huge fan of the entire DC comics franchise, and I’ve been a huge fan of Danny Elfman for years. He’s one of my idols. So, on all fronts it was surreal to get to work on that. Of course the effect of it on my career has been huge; it’s such a high-profile film and that definitely helped being seen for KRYPTON and everything else. So I’m very grateful.

Q: So how did you get involved in KRYPTON?

Pinar Toprak: It was just a little after JUSTICE LEAGUE was released. I got a call from my agent on a Friday night asking me, “Do you want a weekend adventure?” I said “Sure, what is it?” He said “There’s this show… called KRYPTON…” I said “Wait… like Superman KRYPTON?”  “Yep!” And I was just over the moon excited with the opportunity. It all happened really fast. The next day, Saturday, I received a cut of the pilot and I was able to speak with Cameron Welsh, who is the showrunner for the series. We talked about what it is that they’re looking for, what they’re not looking for, and then I had to turn it around pretty fast. I believe I sent the scenes over to them Sunday night or Monday morning, and I was hired on Monday or Tuesday.

Q: Once you were on board, what kind of discussions did you have with them for the ongoing series?

Pinar Toprak: My demo scenes were almost untouched on the first episode. We were able to communicate pretty well, I think, and they were very open to the sounds and the overall vibe that I had in mind. Cam explained that they didn’t want a traditional score, and they gave me the freedom to create this world. The best part about the show in terms of creating new sounds and new themes was that the options were limitless.

“When I wrote the first episode, we knew that there’s a possibility that we might be able to get the okay to use the John Williams’ theme…”

Q: I loved your inclusion of the opening notes of John Williams’ SUPERMAN fanfare when they came out in the first episode. What brought that reference about?

Pinar Toprak: When I wrote the first episode, we knew that there’s a possibility that we might be able to get the okay to use the John Williams’ theme, and I was really excited about that! We also knew that if we did get, it’s only going to be just that bit and we could only use it twice. So I wrote both of those cues with a theme of my own just to cover our bases and we could go either way. There was one version with the SUPERMAN theme if we did get to use it, and one with my own theme. The version at the end was expanded from the opening, but with a larger presentation. But as it turned out, obviously, we got the clearance to use his theme and it worked out great.

Q: In terms of coming up with a vibe, or a sound, for KRYPTON and the characters we’re following in this show, what was your process of developing that across the full season?

Pinar Toprak: The first thing was figuring out a theme for Krypton. After we did that, the second puzzle was Brainiac. With every character and the situations we’re going to see with every new episode, it just gets better and better; there are so many twists and turns it’s a really fun ride. But with Brainiac, which was obviously a major presence in this show, we needed a specific motif. I didn’t necessarily want a very thematic, evil sounding leitmotif for Brainiac. Maybe at first I was heading in that direction, but when I started writing, that just didn’t feel right. I wanted to convey more of a feeling, so when you first heard these sounds you’d just associate them with Brainiac until you actually felt it in your stomach - that kind of thing. For Seg, Adam Strange, and the House of Zod there’s always something specific. Ona has her own theme as well. Sometimes they’re mingled up, some of them are juxtaposed. There are a lot of cool twists and turns that happen throughout the story and then in the score as well. In episode five I used a different approach, musically. I love all the episodes but that one is a bit more special, if I may say so; we actually have some vocal effects, and texturally we took it somewhere else.

“I like to use the word ‘puzzle’ – it doesn’t necessarily feel like a difficult challenge that I must conquer, but it’s more like, ‘Oh, okay, there’s this thing now, how do we do that?’”

Q: What kind of orchestral musical palette did you have to work with?

Pinar Toprak: The orchestral component of the KRYPTON score is strings and brass, for the most part. There are some more “epic” moments that let the strings be what they are, but a lot of times I tried to double it and enhance it or process it a little differently, like making the strings sound just a little odd in places. But there are no woodwinds. Everything was done in the box, except the vocals and some instruments I performed myself like the aFrame.

Q: Is there anything particularly challenging that you’ve experienced on the show?

Pinar Toprak: I like to use the word “puzzle” – it doesn’t necessarily feel like a difficult challenge that I must conquer, but it’s more like, “Oh, okay, there’s this thing now, how do we do that?” In many cases I don’t have a lot of time to overthink, so the first thing that I come up with usually ends up being the theme. I think that’s a good thing about scoring this series because I have to go with my gut feeling, so I commit to it one hundred percent because there’s just not enough time to second guess it.

Q: You’ve also done some video game scores, I think the most recent is Fortnite, which has become a very popular post-apocalypse/monster thriller. What was your score like?

Pinar Toprak: Very orchestral. It’s a hybrid score but definitely with a lot of orchestral elements. I really enjoyed that game and I could not have imagined this global phenomenon it has become.

Q: When you’re going into a game like that, how do you prepare and create the kind of interactive experience with music that can go any which way depending on the player’s actions?

Pinar Toprak: The game does have some cinematics, which were more linear and more traditional, like a film, but a lot of it needs to be written in a way that can be looped and can go higher or lower in intensity depending on the game play. For example, for the action moments we designated scenes that were very low threat, medium threat, and high threat; I had to prepare these tracks by intensity and they all had to match the same key family and certain things so they could seamlessly go from one to another. I also needed to create some transitions as well. I don’t know how they programmed this thing – it’s mind-boggling! All I know is that they asked me to put the music together, and then they coded it all in. They’ve done a beautiful job.

Q: Something else you did not too long ago is a TV remake of CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR.

Pinar Toprak: That was a full score that I did with Marco Beltrami. It was actually a pilot, but unfortunately it never got picked up. That was a Ron Howard/Brian Grazer project and I wish something would have happened with that.

Q: What was Marco and your take about creating the musical world of that prehistoric storyline?

Pinar Toprak: That was a bit of a challenge – since we’re talking about an era where a lot of musical instruments did not exist. We started out thinking, “Ok let’s not do anything conventional,” and it became a very percussive thing with voices; that ended up being the primary sound. We did end up using some strings at the very end because we needed that kind of emotional support, but with a lot of it there’s some really cool vocal and percussive elements. That was really unique. There’s a lot more that could have been explored musically if the pilot had gone to series.

Q: Moving back a ways, you won an award for your score to the documentary THE WIND GODS. How did you come up with the melodic choices that are presented in the score?

Pinar Toprak: I’m a huge lover of the ocean and of sailing; it’s very close to my heart. One of the things that I think about is the timelessness of the ocean, so I wanted the score to be able to still exist a hundred years from now and still sound like something authentic, not outdated. For that it needed to be an orchestral score. A lot of the themes came pretty naturally; I think if you do something that you really love it just flows. That was one of those scores that came out pretty effortlessly. To this day it’s one of the scores that’s closest to my heart.

Q: You definitely have a gift of writing some of the most sublime, serene melodies. Your score for THE LIGHTKEEPER, another IFMCA award winner, is just lovely. What can you tell me about writing that score?

Pinar Toprak: I didn’t have much time – again! I think that score was done in less than three weeks. I was hired at the last minute; I remember getting a call at midnight on my birthday and they needed a composer and I got on board the next day. I watched this film: it had a wonderful cast, it was beautifully shot by a wonderful director, Daniel Adams, and I was saying “I can’t do this in the box! It won’t be fair to it to just do this using MIDI.” The great thing about that film is that they sent it to me without a temp track. They said “whatever we tried before didn’t work, so we don’t want to influence you by having you hearing other stuff.” As soon as I watched it, I heard fiddle; that was the first thing. The budget was quite low, so how am I going to make this happen? That was definitely a film where I called in a lot of favors. I was trying to find a fiddle player, and there was a gentleman named Richard Greene, and I looked into his music online and he was playing a lot of bluegrass, really awesome stuff. I wondered where he lives and if he can record music remotely… So I wrote an email to his website, he wrote back immediately, and it turned out he lives in Hollywood Hills, and he said “yeah, come on over!” So I went over and before I started writing a whole lot we just spent a couple of hours in his studio where he showed me things that I could do using fiddle – different phrasing and rhythmic patterns and all that. It was so inspiring! So I went back into my studio and just wrote a lot of music in a couple of weeks. It was one of those films where we were mixing as they were dubbing, so we were working in tandem. It was very intense. That’s another score that’s very close to my heart. I love those projects. I mean, I don’t want to advertise that I like not having enough time, but something happens when you don’t! You don’t think with your brain, it’s your heart that kicks in. Your feelings and that first reaction are the truest.

Q: You scored a horror-drama a few years ago called THE CURSE OF DOWNER’S GROVE [2015]. I guess it hearkens back to some of your early films score when, like a lot of composers starting out, you began scoring low budget horror films. For this score, having had much more experience since those early days, how did you approach it?

Pinar Toprak: That was a really cool project. That was another film where I was able to do a lot of weird electronic material, with some mild moments of strings. But it was mostly electronic. It’s another example of a film that didn’t have a lot of time or resources, but I really enjoyed writing the score. You’re right, I did score a lot of these monster/creature films earlier in my career, which is fine, too, and I know there are some devout fans, which is great. I love writing those. But I tend to enjoy scoring these kinds of films when they get more psychological and more cerebral, more so than just gore and violence. When you can get beneath the surface and get a little creepy and affect people’s heads; that’s really fun to do.

Q: What was your technique to accommodate this film’s dichotomy of humor as well as horror?

Pinar Toprak: Comedy is only comedy if the timing’s right; otherwise it’s just commentary. So it was all about defining those moments and what we wanted to highlight. I think everything in life is about tension and release. Tension in a film loses its effect if you keep it tense all the time, and if you just have a continual release then it gets quite boring as well. So I think with music and art and everything else that we watch and listen to – even relationships, life itself – it’s all about tension and release. So it was finding these moments when we can release that, and then we can start it back up again.

Thanks to Costa Communications for facilitating this interview, and to the extraordinary Pinar Toprak for sharing her time and perspective. We’re definitely looking forward to her music for CAPTAIN MARVEL coming up next March! - rdl

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Snapshots: Recommended Soundtracks

DESERT MIGRATION/Gil Talmi/Konsonant Records – digital
Gil Talmi’s latest score is for this bio-documentary, which is described as “a moving meditation on the life of long-term HIV/AIDS survivors who have migrated to form a unique community in the beautiful but harsh landscape of Palm Springs.” The 2015 documentary was a Best Film nominee in the Global Health Competition at the 2016 Cleveland International Film Festival and a nominee for the Social Impact Media Awards (SIMA) in 2016. Talmi, whose website describes himself as a composer of Music for Socially Conscious Films, has crafted a delicate synth exploration of the subject that is not only musically provocative but is saturated with profound meaning and concern. “The music for DESERT MIGRATION is an etude in emotional restraint within an electronic landscape,” Talmi told Soundtrax. “I wanted the music to capture the slow passage of time: the wait in between moments of solitude. The synth approach allowed for a tone that is distant yet very intimate, strange yet familiar. The notes are a slow repetitive meditation on what it means to be alive somewhere in between yesterday and tomorrow, with an occasional upbeat celebration of life’s inevitable bittersweetness.” Talmi’s purposeful, languid and ambient musical designs prompt attentiveness, and it’s that sense of meditativeness in the music that brings the listener into the film’s meaning and message. The score is mesmerizingly harmonic, abounding in drifting layers enhanced by soft, rhythmic beats and distinct convergences of sound. The track “Perspective” provides one of those upbeat celebrations; it’s distinct as a livelier piece propelled by light drums and keyboard; capturing the spirit of bittersweetness in its languid pace and its brightly colored, slowly revolving kaleidoscopic sound patterns whose emotional resonance are deceptively simple yet, essentially, deeply felt.
The digital soundtrack score is now available via Amazon and will soon be downladable from iTunes. For more information on the composer, see: https://www.giltalmi.com/

DOGGED/James Griffiths/Screamworks - digital
MovieScore Media’s sub-label ScreamWorks Records has teamed up again with THE DRIFT composer James Griffiths to present his latest finely tuned chiller score. Directed by Richard Rowntree based on his 2015 short film, DOGGED is a folk horror movie about a man who returns to the tidal island where he grew up to attend a funeral of a young girl, and quickly realizes that the community he had left harbors more than just a few secrets. The score is a hauntingly textural one which mixes a reflective solo piano motif supported by assertive melodic measures from a string quartet; these delicate acoustic reflections are then offset by some truly disturbing and scary hybrid musical designs; the score by itself is a deliciously frightening listening experience and the contrast between the acoustic and the electrifying synthetic designs creates a marvelously horrific musical statement that keeps the listener abrasively on edge. “My score for DOGGED is very much an homage to the sinister detail that the movie itself presents,” explained Griffiths. “The Folk Horror genre thrives by its gripping detail, extended plots, and unpredictable sub stories. Musically I have scored to continue this detail, and nothing creates so much exposed detail than a string quartet. The tension and grittiness of their performance acts as its own unique character and I wanted to continue that musical character throughout the score. Combining the quartet with electronics, sound design, and gut wrenching vocals presents an audio experience I am proud of composing for this wonderful movie.” Griffith’s DOGGED score is a powerhouse of a horror score, brilliantly embracing the listener/viewer in its sonic textures and defining the musical identity of what has become known as “folk horror.”
Listen to a video featuring a suite from the score: 

DOWNRANGE/Aldo Shllaku/Note4Note - cd
Stranded at the side of the road after a tire blowout, a group of friends become targets for an enigmatic sniper. DOWNRANGE is the terrifying, dark new thriller from acclaimed genre director Ryuhei Kitamura (THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, VERSUS, GODZILLA: FINAL WARS). The film is the second collaboration between the director and composer Aldo Shllaku and was an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival. Kitamura said that he wants this movie to be a gritty throwback to classic 70’s thrillers. “While I’ve created single location films in the past, DOWNRANGE marks a new style of storytelling for me, wherein sustained, breathless terror in a singular location is what drives the entire plot,” Kitamura said. “We’ve crafted a film which is fuelled by relentless dread, and are very excited to share it with horror and suspense fans around the world.” The film was released on the premium video streaming service Shudder last April. Composer Shlaaku is a classically-trained film and TV composer based in Los Angeles, whose rigorous music education with classical training as well as exposure to the rich sounds at the crossroads of Balkan culture in his native Albania, have colored his work. “For the melodic material a serial system was conceived with a 7-note series derived from the title of the film,” Shllaku explained. ”The director and the cast were used in vocally performing letters and other interpretations of the title of the film.” Not that these vocalisms are audibly noticeable in the actual sound of the score; Shllaku has used that recorded material within “additional soundscapes and other sound design effects that are treated as texture and ambiance.”  The score is a layered, atmospheric mélange ranging from ambient, suspended sound structures to vigorously percussive rhythmic action riffs, and easier-breathing melancholy voicings, all crafting a potently apprehensive mood for the audience which is beneficial to Kitamura’s sense of suspense and “scarability” in this film. The score’s sound design translates to an engaging listen of the composer’s sonic “architexture” which really does come alive when listened to closely by themselves (especially appreciable using a headset).

GENIUS: PICASSO/Lorne Balfe/Milan Records – cd + digital
Emmy®-nominated composer Lorne Balfe returns for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S GENIUS: PICASSO, the critically-acclaimed series’ second season which explores Pablo Picasso’s youth and his adulthood. Balfe co-composed last season’s GENIUS: EINSTEIN main title theme with Hans Zimmer; which received an Emmy nomination. With this season’s main title, Balfe reunited with Zimmer to create a new main theme reflective of the Spanish painter. “Picasso once said, ‘Music and art are the guiding lights of the world.’ I wanted the music to illustrate the vibrant colors and abstract scenes he created and reflect his love of music,” Balfe explained. “So that was an interesting color that we could bring to the score. And with Picasso, it really was the fact that his paintings were drastically different from anything that existed at the time, so different instrumentation was used including French accordions, classical Spanish guitar, and introducing saxophone because it was another of the type of music that was influencing him at the time. It was really a collective.” Available from Milan as a 22-track CD or a 6-track digital EP, the score is bright, elegant, and lively. Balfe captures the spirit of both the painter and his works that reflects the ingenuity, colorful composition, and striking enchantment that is personified in Picasso’s work – while also musically suggesting the painter’s temperament and the creative technique he employed in expressing his unique sensibilities.

GODLESS/Carlos Rafael Rivera/BMG - digital
Composer Carlos Rafael Rivera’s Emmy-nominated score for this Original Netflix Limited Seriesis an active and compelling work which is quite engaging. With Grammy award-winner T Bone Burnett serving as the executive music producer, Rivera (A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES) has provided an active and compelling score that nicely supports this American Western drama in tone and personality while encompassing less of a traditional western feel and more of a contemporary vibe. “Instruments like the harmonica had too much baggage and quickly became cliché,” Rivera said, who chose the classical guitar (performed by himself) and cello (performed by Joy Adams) to create the primary essence of the score. “I also used an organ and harmonium to set tone,” he said. “This intimate setting was the core for most of the writing, and served as contrast when orchestral forces were required.” With Burnett mixing Rivera’s main theme, it took on a lively, singable personality while possessing a sort of epic constitution that enriches the music’s central importance to the story. Rivera’s theme for the character of Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery) takes on a particularly profound posture as it concludes the story at the sonic forefront of the series’ ending. “We wanted the heart of this theme to complement her character’s enduring strength,” Rivera explained. “I am most grateful that showrunner Scott Frank put so much trust in the score, having allowed it to carry the final scene for GODLESS, and help finish telling his story.”

KARMA/Kristian Sensini/Records DK - digital
KARMA is an independent Italian supernatural horror film made in 2017. It received a limited release in Italy, but it was shortened to a 24-minute version which has been posted to Facebook. It’s a pretty provocative movie, and very nicely scored by Kristian Sensini (HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE, ROCKS IN MY POCKETS), whose music has been released as a digital soundtrack. The plot has to do with six teenage boys who, over the course of a weekend, will soon have to face off against their karma, as an evil entity seeks to punish them for their mistakes. “The music I wrote for the movie has a sort of ‘woodish’ quality,” Sensini told Soundtrax. “I’ve extensively used strings (particularly the low textures of cellos and basses) and woodwinds because they remind me of the warm and dark nature of the wood that has a special part in this movie. I’ve tried to avoid the classical horror soundtrack clichés and give each cue in the movie its unique “breath,” in the true sense of the word: if you listen carefully, you can actually feel a mysterious and ominous breath (done with instruments). It’s as if the soundtrack itself is the Evil, a character that is watching the young boys and waiting in the Darkness, ready to hit.”
The digital soundtrack is available from amazon, iTunes, and can be heard on Spotify.
For more information on the composer, see www.kristiansensini.com.

LACRIMOSA/Elia Cmiral/Records DK - digital
Records DK recently released the original soundtrack to LACRIMOSA, a short film about a young girl who wakes up in an unknown world full of mysteries. On her journey through ever changing surreal landscapes she meets her lover Theo; with whom she has to learn that love sometimes also means to let go. The score was composed by Elia Cmiral (RONIN, SPLINTER, Wes Craven’s THEY) and features performances by pan flute master Gheorghe Zamfir. Cmiral has received numerous accolades for his work on LACRIMOSA, including Honorable Mention for Original Score at the Top Shorts Film Festival and Best Film Soundtrack at the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival. “LACRIMOSA is only 17 minutes long and I felt I needed to set a tone and bring the right voice to the whole movie from the very first frame,” said Cmiral. “The score is written in a very traditional, classical way using acoustic instruments, pan flute, bass flute, piano, and harp.”
I have admired Zamfir’s work since I heard his collaborations with organist Marcel Cellier in “Flûte De Pan Et Orgue,” and his performances in the French comedy THE TALL BLONDE MAN WITH ONE BLACK SHOE and Peter Weir’s mesmerizing Australian mystery, PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (1975; much of which was taken from his “Doina” suites on “Flûte De Pan Et Orgue”). I’ve been following his striking and delicate performances in film and concert ever since. The collaboration between the Romanian panpipe maestro and the Czech composer is an especially profound one, as evidenced by the music for this moving short film. The haunting flavors of the pan flute are gracefully complemented by Cmiral’s beguiling supportive material for a small acoustic ensemble (including moments of strikingly alluring solo violin) that contrasts provocatively against Zamfir’s soloing. The combination creates an affecting musical palette that works beautifully on its own while also capturing the simple emotions explored within the film.
“The director and I wanted some unusual, haunting sounds for the solo instrument and Master Zamfir’s beautiful, delicate, and sensual tone perfectly matches what I had imagined for the score,” Cmiral explained. “The haunting and sensual sound of the pan flute is the tone and character for the whole film – longing and emotional.” Zamfir also reflects a welcome touch of his signature “Doina” suites from Flûte De Pan Et Orgue (also one of the pieces used with Bruce Smeaton’s PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK score) at the start of Theo and Mila’s theme.  This collaboration between Cmiral and Zamfir has led to a friendship that is resulting in further musical collaborations; Cmiral is now writing a concert suite for the musician.
Watch the score preview on vimeo here
Sample tracks and order the digital album from Amazon here.

RAUL - DIRITTO DI UCCIDRE/Andrea Morricone/Kronos Records - cd
With 30 film scores to his own credit since 1995 (four of the earliest were collaborations with his father) Andrea Morricone, son of the celebrated composer Ennio Morricone, has inherited a very proficient sense of melody, harmony, and dramatic composition from his famous father. His first work for cinema was composing the love theme for 1988’s CINEMA PARADISO, wherein he received a music department credit; he went on to receive credits for music assistant, conductor, recordist and other work through 2011, since which he’s continued to express himself purely as the composer. RAUL – RIGHT TO KILL is a crime drama from 2005 with a darkly-tinged orchestral score that is pure Andrea, if tinged slightly with a family musical resemblance in its orchestration. Kronos Records has provided a most welcome, limited (300 copies) reissue of the original Warner Chappell soundtrack CD of 2005. Morricone’s music was nominated for best music at the Italian Golden Globes; his score is highly dramatic but favors melodic structures through thick washes of strings, with striking incursions from solo piano briefly resonant. The score’s love theme is a quite powerful motif – a strikingly harmonic confluence of supportive strings and piano, with its melody taken by the marvelous baritone tonality of a French [or English] horn. It’s a thoroughly impressive and influential score; if Andrea Morricone isn’t already on your playlist you should definitely give this, and some of his other scores, a close listen.
To hear sample tracks or to order, see KronosRecords.com.

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO/ Hildur Guðnadóttir/
Varèse Sarabande - cd

The sudden death of Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson in the midst of his growing success in film and classical music deprived us of an astonishing talent whose film scores thus far conveyed the sense of greater things to come. His Oscar- and BAFTA-nominated score for SICARIO (also released by Varèse Sarabande) with its mesmerizing tonalities, evocatively tension-building interoperable orchestrations, and percussive sonic edifices was a massively effective and unforgettable score. Scoring the sequel, completed after Jóhannsson’s death, is composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (MARY MAGDALENE, CHERNOBYL), a well-respected classically-trained cello player who has recorded as a solo artist and composed her own film scores. Guðnadóttir had collaborated with Jóhannsson on SICARIO and other projects over the years, and was thus ideally suited to carry on his legacy on the SICARIO sequel. “Jóhann and I worked together very closely on almost every single project we both did for about 15 years,” she said, as she began working on the new film. “He passed away so recently, so I have not really digested that he is no longer here. But I don´t feel like I have picked up a baton, I am simply carrying on with the work that we were already doing. That feels both natural and very surreal, for lack of better words.”
Guðnadóttir’s score for this SICARIO sequel holds up very well against the first film’s score, carrying on its tradition of muscular percussion and ambient threat, while affording room for its different narrative substance. Jóhannsson’s monstrous “The Beast” theme, such a colossal musical manifestation from the first film, is brought back into the second, where Guðnadóttir uses it as a monolithic membrane that holds her own score together while congealing the unified configurations between the two scores.
“I think SOLDADO is more emotional than the previous film, and the score follows that direction,” she said. “This one is a bit more of a ‘classical’ score, with musical themes that follow certain emotional landscapes. That is something that was important to Stefano [Sollima, director],” Guðnadóttir explained that SOLDADO has “a bit of a different feel as a score because the function of it is different. That was a direction that was important to Stefano. He was also very vocal about the fact that he did not want to recreate the SICARIO soundtrack, so he often wanted to go in very different directions from SICARIO.”
The two scores thus form a marriage between one musical landscape and another, unifying both films with slightly different emotional balances but generally similar musical constructs. As with the two films, each score provides the pair of films with compatible musical bookends and are certainly among the best scores of their respective years.

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News: Forthcoming Soundtracks & Film Music News

The 70th annual Emmy Awards show is coming up on September 17 on NBC. Here are the nominations for dramatic score and main title (see the complete list at EMMYS.org.):

Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score)
Ramin Djawadi: Game Of Thrones, episode “The Dragon And The Wolf”
Sean Callery: Marvel’s Jessica Jones, episode “AKA Playland”
Mark Isham, Cindy O’Connor, Michael Simon: Once Upon A Time, episode
“Leaving Storybrooke”
W.G. Snuffy Walden, A. Patrick Rose: SEAL Team, episode “Pattern Of Life”
Kevin Kiner: Star Wars Rebels, episode “ Family Reunion - And Farewell”
Ramin Djawadi: Westworld, episode “Akane No Mai”

Outstanding Music Composition For A Limited Series, Movie Or Special
(Original Dramatic Score)
Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna: Alias Grace, Part 1
Harry Gregson-Williams: Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, episode: “The Commuter”
Cristobal Tapia De Veer: Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, episode “Crazy Diamond”
Carlos Rafael Rivera: Godless, episode “Homecoming”
Cyril Aufort, March Of The Penguins 2: The Next Step
Daniel Pemberton: Black Mirror: USS Callister

Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music
Carlos Rafael Rivera: Godless
Mychael Danna: The Last Tycoon
John Paesano: Marvel’s The Defenders
Jeff Beal: The Putin Interviews
Mike S. Olson, Bridget Ellen Kearney, Michael Calabrese, &  
Rachael Price: Somebody Feed Phil
Chris Bacon: The Tick

Composer Craig Armstrong will receive SoundTrack Cologne’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award during the award ceremony of this year’s conference on August 25th, 2018. “Craig Armstrong is one of the most influential and innovative contemporary composers, who transcends all genre boundaries,” said Soundtrack Cologne CEO Michael P. Aust. “We are happy and feel honored to welcome him this August at SoundTrack Cologne.” For more information on 2018’s SoundTrack Cologne (August 22-26), see: www.soundtrackcologne.de/

Hollywood in Vienna CEO and Founder Sandra Tomek is proud to announce that Hans Zimmer will be honored with the 2018 Max Steiner Award in Vienna during the Annual Hollywood in Vienna Concert Gala on October 19th at the Vienna Konzerthaus. “Hans Zimmer [has] had a close connection to Vienna for some time now,” said Tomek. “With his company, he has been recording projects such as THE CROWN, BLUE PLANET and INFERNO at the fantastic Synchron Stage Vienna. For a city, so rich in music history as Vienna, it is only fitting to give this award, named after the great Max Steiner, to the exceptional and multi-talented composer Zimmer.”

Latina composer Germaine Franco (pictured) was one of two honorees at the ASCAP Screen Music Awards in Los Angeles on May 23rd (also honored was John Powell, who won the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award for his 20+ years of brilliant film scores). Franco was recognized with the ASCAP Shirley Walker Award, which honors those whose achievements have contributed to the diversity of film and television music. The award is named after ASCAP member Shirley Walker, who was one of the first prominent female composers working in film and television and is remembered as a pioneer for women working in the film industry. Germaine was proud to wear an original dress by Mexican designer Lydia Lavin as she was honored with the evening’s prestigious award. Germaine gave an inspiring acceptance speech, calling for unity: “To all the female composers out there, to all of the people of color, to all of room, we’re all one community. Let’s not be divided by the titles. Let’s just create music together, create love and hope and joy because we know the line between our life and the next chapter is very fine. So instead of building the barriers, let’s just break them down. And I like to do that through music and I hope you’ll join me.” Franco is best known for her work on Disney/Pixar’s COCO, where she was a songwriter, co-orchestrator, arranger, and producer; her work on the film earned her an Annie Award - the animation industry’s highest honor.

Launching this autumn on BBC One, the highly anticipated new 11th series of DOCTOR WHO will be scored by burgeoning composer Segun Akinola, replacing Murray Gold, who defined the revived series’ musical identity since it’s re-launch in 2005, and who recently stepped down at the end of Season 10. Akinola, a Royal Birmingham Conservatoire alumni, will provide an exciting and emotional score beckoning in a new era for the show, including a fresh take on the legendary theme tune. As part of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brit program in 2017, Segun has already been recognized as one of the rising stars among British composers. DOCTOR WHO is woven into the fabric of British culture and recognized globally,” Akinola said. “I am absolutely thrilled to be given the privilege of working on such a beloved series and to bring my musical voice to it.”
See more details at musiquefantastique.

Writing last month on VarietyJon Burlingame reported that Universal Studios has embarked on a long-range plan to preserve and restore its unreleased movie music. The studio will begin releasing some of these scores as limited-edition soundtrack albums starting June 26th (its first release, distributed by La-La Land, has been Michel Colombier’s music from the 1970 science-fiction film COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT). “The imprint will be called Universal Pictures Film Music Heritage Collection,” wrote Burlingame.

Rupert Gregson-Williams is slated to score the new DC Cinematic Universe movie, AQUAMAN. Watch the poster that was released on July 21:

Bear McCreary has revealed that he has been brought on board to compose the score for the forthcoming GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS. Scheduled for release on May 31, 2019, the film follows up on is the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse: an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. “I am thrilled to be the composer for GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (see trailer), and honored beyond words to have the opportunity to contribute to one of cinema’s longest-running musical legacies,” Bear posted. Bear recently completed scoring the forthcoming supernatural thriller I STILL SEE YOU (Set nine years after an apocalyptic event that killed millions and left the world inhabited by ghosts – and you should definitely watch its provocative trailer on youtube, here), as well as his first animated feature, the Chinese comedy ANIMAL CRACKERS. “This movie is absolutely delightful [and] it’s the most insane score I’ve ever written!” Bear mentioned.

Speaking of La-La Land Records, the label’s own latest releases include a welcome reissue of the original soundtracks of Harry Manfredini’s FRIDAY THE 13TH THE FINAL CHAPTER and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING (extracted from the label’s sold-out box set the FRIDAY THE 13TH Parts 1-6 scores). “Renowned composer Harry Manfredini pushes his iconic FRIDAY THE 13th soundscape even further with these two white-knuckle sequel works – recalling his original score while exploring thrilling new avenues to twist it into newfound notes of terror. This remains some of the most chilling and expertly orchestrated film music to come out of genre cinema,” wrote the label. Also released is the limited edition, world premiere release of Thomas Newman’s score to the 1985 feature film mystery comedy THE MAN WITH ONE RED SHOE. “Fun and teaming with mischief and mystery, [this score] is an early and notable entry in a canon of remarkable work that continues to this very day.  The album was personally assembled by Newman and includes the film’s “love theme” by Michael Masser, which was recorded prior to the start of Newman’s work on the project. The third item in the label’s cornucopia of late-July releases is a double CD re-issue of two of Jerry Goldsmith’s Western scores from the 1960’s: 100 RIFLES (1969) and RIO CONCHOS (1964) – two powerful orchestral gems that stand the test of time. While the program content is the same as its previous release, 100 RIFLES has been given a sonic upgrade here with a new re-master, and the track listing now reflects Goldsmith’s original titles; RIO CONCHOS features Matessino’s stellar master from the previous Kritzerland release. See: https://lalalandrecords.com

Intrada Records has announced the release of a lavish 2-CD treatment of Alan Silvestri’s massive score for 2001’s THE MUMMY RETURNS. “Following in the path forged by Jerry Goldsmith for the 1999 movie, Silvestri wrote to the gigantic scale of Universal’s part-LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, part-THE SEA HAWK, part-THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, part-INDIANA JONES, and part the proverbial kitchen sink,” wrote the label. “Silvestri nods to all of the above with his huge 100-piece orchestra and 60-voice chorus, recorded in London. Rather than separating this massive ensemble into separate groups for separate recording sessions, Silvestri instead recorded all of the musicians together, achieving a truly majestic sound.”
For more information, to hear sample tracks, and to order, see intrada.

Dragon’s Domain Records’ presents their third volume of The Basil Poledouris Collection, featuring two previously unreleased scores from the composer’s early days in Hollywood. 1977’s TINTORERA: KILLER SHARK is renowned in bad movie circles, but contains an excellent score, which is a mix of synth-based suspense tracks and catchy pop rhythms, with a potent shark motif created with the low growling drones of a Moog synthesizer accompanied by a variety of percussion and keyboard textures. 1979’s DOLPHIN is an ecological documentary about the plight of the dolphins in the late ‘70s, really one of the first documentary films to recognize and examine the intelligence of these oceanic mammals and promote the notion that they should not be regarded as commodities for our entertainment or the by-catch of the Tuna industry. It features a persuasive main theme and many specific pieces of music for the film’s individual segments. Both scores reflect the passion of a rising young musician soon to emerge into his fullness as a composer. For details, see bsx records.

Spanish label Quartet Record’s latest releases includes the world premiere of Angelo Francesco Lavagnino’s jungle score for the 1967 Italian exploiter, GUNGALA, VIRGIN OF THE JUNGLE. The score builds upon tribal drums, choral elements and an orchestra favoring low strings and brass, while the titular jungle virgin gets a seductive theme whose hypnotic quality recalls the sly movements she shares with her pet panther. Another world premiere release is that of Carlo Rustichelli’s complete score for the 1963 European submarine war-drama TORPEDO BAY, and A Tribute to Michael Kamen is Quartet’s first collaboration with the Málaga Film Music Festival (MOSMA) with the release of this live concert dedicated to Michael Kamen, recorded in Málaga in June 2016. This latter release is sold out at the label, so try the usual online retailers and secondary markets before it disappears altogether.

German label Caldera Records’ has released Gabriel Yared’s score for the 2001 drama, NOT AFRAID, NOT AFRAID. The film, which was never released in theaters, is a dramedy about a highly dysfunctional family and a woman who must learn to become a better person while facing death. For the recording Yared assembled the Modigliani Quartet, augmented by clarinetist Paul Meyer and famous jazz harmonica player Jean-Jacques Milteau, building the score around a main theme that’s deceptively simple but quite unforgettable.
For details, see caldera records.

The comedy SET IT UP, directed by Claire Scanlon and with a score by Laura Karpman is now available on Netflix; starring Zoey Deutch, Lucy Liu, Titus Burgess, Taye Diggs, and Glenn Powell. Watch trailer here.

ScreamWorks Records has released Elia Cmiral’s score to FERAL, a horror thriller about two girls whose celebratory camping trip goes horribly wrong when a mutated virus turns people into rampaging cannibal zombies. FERALmarks the fourth collaboration between Cmiral and director Mark Young. The composer recalls: “From the very beginning, I saw FERAL as a drama/thriller and I was greatly inspired by the girls characters and their development in the course of this hopeless set up going from bad to worse. Besides human characters there is a theme for the haunting, dark and silent forest keeping a grisly secret – the feral virus. I wanted to have a score with a large scope stretching from drama to the suspenseful dark moments and to the wild actions.” The score features a string ensemble with piano, extended with contemporary electronica. Screamworks released the soundtrack digitally, while Quartet Records has issued the album on CD. Watch a video suite from the FERAL score:

German retailer and CD label Chris’ Soundtrack Corner presents the first fully-licensed and official release of the sought after soundtrack to the 1976 Western KEOMA, paired with the 1979 exploiter IL CACCIATORE DI SQUALI (The Shark Hunter), both scored by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis. The former film is largely considered the best film they did together; coming very late in the Italian or “Spaghetti” Western phase, the genre couldn’t have had a better closing statement. KEOMA offers a renewed approach with a unique audiovisual resonance that was every bit as striking as some of the first Italian Westerns that made international audiences stand up and pay attention. The second score is a far more trivial potboiler but features a likeably tuneful score for this post-JAWS adventure drama about treasure hunters daring shark-infested waters to dive for sunken wealth. Also of note is the label’s reissue of Stelvio Cipriani’s SOLAMENTE NERO (“Only Blackness,” aka THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW), which has been out of print for many years. This 1978 giallo score was scored by Cipriani but performed with Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti, resulting in a unique composition filtered through the sonic lens of Simonetti's progressive rock vibe, thus bestowing Cipriani's delicate compositions with a distinctly Goblinesque sensibility

The hit Chinese action thriller ANIMAL WORLD [no relation to ANIMAL CRACKERS, see Bear McCreary, above] topped the China box office on July 2nd, according to The Hollywood Reporter, officially overcoming JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM after its two weeks at the top of the charts. The film boasts a score by Hollywood composer Neal Acree (Overwatch video game, REVELATION video game, STARGATE-SGI), collaborating with electronic artist Michael Tuller (synth programming on THE SOCIAL NETWORK, addl synths on THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, addl. music for MR ROBOT). The soundtrack has been given a digital release thru Neal’s Velvet Machine records label and is also available via iTunes, amazon, and other digital services. The youth-oriented action film is based on a popular Japanese manga and stars Li Yifeng as a young man who is induced into taking part in a violent game of chance overseen by an arch villain, played by Michael Douglas.

Lakeshore Records has released the soundtrack to the USA Network series QUEEN OF THE SOUTH, composed by Raney Shockne and the legendary Giorgio Moroder, in the latter’s return to TV/film scoring after more than three decades. Inspired by the global best-selling novel “La Reina Del Sur” by internationally acclaimed author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, the film follows the journey of Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) and the sacrifices she must make not only to survive, but to make it to the top of the drug world. The score is described as “a polished electronic brutality that encapsulates vintage synthesizers, classical and Latin elements, and creates a new musical fusion.” Building on Moroder/Shockne’s original ‘Electro-Noir’ style, they have broadened their palette and together built on Giorgio’s early aesthetics from such films as MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, AMERICAN GIGOLO and CAT PEOPLE. The sweeping 28-track collection is a riveting chronicle that captures the show’s blistering saga of blood and power. Lakeshore released the soundtrack digitally on July 13th with a vinyl version forthcoming.
Also new from Lakeshore is the digitally release of the original series soundtrack to IMPULSE: SEASON 1, featuring the show’s original score by DERU, also known as the Emmy-winning composer, Benjamin Wynn. Read more details here.

Benjamin Wallfisch (IT, LIGHTS OUT, co-composer on BLADE RUNNER 2049, HIDDEN FIGURES, DUNKIRK) is reuniting with David F. Sandberg to score the forthcoming (2019) DC super-hero film, SHAZAM. (Watch film’s trailer here) Wallfisch is also on tap to score the 2019 reboot of HELLBOY.
For more details, see filmmusic reporter.

Coinciding with the Netflix premiere of the film last June 29, MovieScore Media has released a digital soundtrack to Anne Nikitin’s CALIBRE, a score whose most haunting elements emanate from nature itself. Written and directed by Matt Palmer, CALIBRE has been described as the DELIVERANCE of the Scottish Highlands, a film about two friends going on a weekend hunting trip, but their excursion soon takes an unexpected turn. Anne Nikitin, a Canadian composer based in the UK, explained: “I wanted to immediately capture the dense and remote landscape, and the feeling of an ancient, primal force running through the Highlands. I chose the sound of wind mixed with wailing vocals and solo strings to be my main instruments – to create a cold, oppressive feeling of isolation – with music and nature intertwined. I wanted the score to feel like the omniscient narrator – the music weaving in and out like a commentator who knows the secrets of the past and the present, and which slowly emerges to the forefront as the narrative becomes more oppressive.” Listen to a video featuring a suite from the score on youtube:

MovieScore Media has also just announced their released of Thomas E. Rouch’s score for the  Australian sf thriller, ALPHA GATEWAY. The film is available on Blu-ray and DVD as well as streaming on Amazon Prime. For more details on the soundtrack, see MSM AlphaGateway.

Following in the footsteps of Leslie Bricusse, Lionel Newman, Alexander Courage, and Richard Gibbs, Danny Elfman will be taking the reins of the Pushmi-pullyu for THE VOYAGE OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE, which will see Robert Downey, Jr. as the titular doctor and a voice cast including Emma Thompson and John Cena. We’ll find out how Elfman fares in April 2019.
Via Charlie Bridgen/filmscoreweekly

Milan Records will release a CD soundtrack album for the dystopian thriller THE DARKEST MINDS, featuring the film’s original music composed by Benjamin Wallfisch. The soundtrack is expected to be released digitally on August 3 and physically on August 24. Visit Amazon to pre-order the CD version. THE DARKEST MINDS is directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and stars Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore and Gwendoline Christie; it’s based on Alexandra Bracken’s YA trilogy, which is set after a pandemic kills most of America’s children and young adults; the story follows a teenage girl with telekinetic powers who escapes her camp and joins a group of teens on the run from the government. 

Silva Screen Records Presents Music From The Transformers Movies, an expanded follow-up to the label’s Music From The Transformers Trilogy album from 2011. Firmly established as the soundtrack composer for the TRANSFORMERS movie franchise, Steve Jablonsky delivers eloquent and active scoring for a mixture of orchestral and electronic sound, heavily laced with percussion. Starting in the 1980’s with Hasbro’s Transformers line of toys and cartoons spanning a short few seasons on television before the animated 1986 film, the TRANSFORMERS universe was given a new lease of life in 2007 with Michael Bay’s blockbuster movie and its many sequels. Composer Jablonsky cleverly abandoned the electronic music signature of the original 80’s TV series in favor of a complex and well-rounded, thematically connected score. Selections from TRANSFORMERS and its four sequels are authentically and powerfully performed by London Music Works. Stream/download from iTunes or amazon.

The Six Strings web site has posted a very interesting interview with composer Nathanial Levisay (THE TOY SOLDIERS) which is worth reading, here. The site is associated with Howlin’ Wolf Records (which has released Levisay’s score for the film).

If you haven’t checked out my Musique Fantastique web site, please take a look. This website has news about my book series of the same name, but more importantly it is intended to be a resource for news, views, & interviews about music for science fiction, fantasy, and horror films. As an extension of the books, it provides additional material and links to further resources about this unique genre of film and television scoring (some news is shared with Soundtrax close to the column’s publication).
https://musiquefantastique.com

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Film Music on Vinyl

Mondo Music has released two versions of Michael Giacchino’s JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM on vinyl. Both are 2-LP packages with original artwork by JC Richard, but one version is pressed on 180 Gram indo-raptor colored vinyl and the other is available on 180 Gram black vinyl.

Mondo has also released MARVEL’S LUKE CAGE - Season Two, an original soundtrack 2XLP with the original score by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Exploring the vast sonic cultural landscape of Harlem, Adrian and Ali have introduced a dub-reggae motif for the character of Bushmaster on top of the classic themes that made the original soundtrack so essential. The album includes illustrations by Sara Deck. Pressed on 2X 180 Gram Smokey Translucent Yellow vinyl. Also available on 2X 180 Gram Black vinyl.
[In addition to the vinyl soundtrack release, a digital soundtrack has been released by Hollywood Records and is available through iTunes, Amazon, and other digital music suppliers. –rdl]

Marco Beltrami’s music to A QUIET PLACE is now an original motion picture soundtrack LP release from Death Waltz Records, distributed exclusively by Mondo. The LP features original artwork by Matt Ryan Tobin. Pressed on 180 Gram Black & Red color-in-color vinyl, housed inside a 425gsm gatefold Spot Varnish jacket. Note: This item is a pre-order. All orders containing this item will not ship until September 2018. $25 

And also from Mondo is the vinyl reissue of Goblin’s score to PROFUNDO ROSSO. Recorded in 1975, the score finds the band at the height of their creativity and features the incredible lineup of Simonetti, Morante, Pignatelli & Martino. “Bass & drums are so tight on this record and provide the foundations for the entire score,” wrote the label. “Jazz, prog and rock signatures all fight for center stage yet always manage to be precise, clear and perfectly executed. Synths and organs tinkle, wail and moan and more than provide the requisite chills and atmospherics. In addition to the score itself, Mondo an entire disc of alternate tracks and takes on vinyl for the first time ever, pulled from the Cinevox archives.”
For more details and to order, see: https://mondotees.com/

Varèse Sarabande has released a limited edition (666 units) “demonic white vinyl” version of THE OMEN, available exclusively on VareseSarabande.com. Each copy of this completely remastered LP release will be hand-numbered. The album features Jerry Goldsmith’s original Oscar-winning score composed for Richard Donner’s 1976 horror masterpiece.

Varèse Sarabande also announced the release of three exciting LP packages, exclusive to Barnes & Noble, on July, 13: ROAD HOUSE [the songs], released for the first time in three decades, on limited “Double Deuce” Neon Vinyl, a supernatural blue/black swirl vinyl for HELLBOY, and the red vinyl edition of PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE with a bonus second soundtrack of BACK TO SCHOOL. For details, see Varèse Sarabande

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Film Music Books

MUSIC TO MY YEARS
Live and Love Between the Notes
By Artie Kane as told to Marian Blue & JoAnn Kane
Venice, CA: Amphora Editions, 2017.
355 pages, hardcover.
www.AmphoraEditions.com

Composer Artie Kane has been a musical mainstay on radio, stage, and screen for more than half a century. In this thick and engaging autobiography, Artie gathers together his experiences as a pianist for Hollywood studios (1960-78), film composer (more than 250 television shows and 7 feature films, 1976-1994), and conductor  (60-some motion picture scores, 1991-1999) and tells his story in a comfortably readable style. This is a thick, impressively heavy book brimming with full color images printed on substantial, acid-free pages in the welcoming Garamond font; it’s also thick with details that cover the author’s life in modest and memorable description. The back stories behind Artie’s life and work are a pleasure to read as he revisits them for us, filling us in on the details of how this child prodigy from Columbus, Ohio achieved a lifelong career in Hollywood and worked on some of its most memorable productions, from television’s WONDER WOMAN, THE LOVE BOAT, HOTEL, DYNASTY, and MATLOCK, to feature films like Irving Kershner’s THE EYES OF LAURA MARS, Robert Butler’s NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER, and Richard Brooks’ WRONG IS RIGHT – not to mention an ongoing succession of made-for-TV movies of various beloved genres. Artie’s love for his “mother, eight wives, four girlfriends, and three sons,” as he cites them in his dedication, are strong, but all are subservient to his piano, his singular constant, which “lives at the center of my world.” Music to My Yearsis essentially the story of his love affair with the piano – and all manner of music which has been propelled by his mastery of the instrument over the years – and also with those others mentioned that have filled his life and sought-for love over his fifty years in entertainment music. He respects and loves them all, making these memoirs fond and enthusiastic, and a delight to read. I quite enjoyed stepping into Artie Kane’s shoes, through this book, and taking the long stroll through his life. Artie: you have shared so much of yourself, musically, with us over the decades – thank you now for sharing your actual self!

  • Randall D. Larson

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Game Score News

Austin Wintory’s latest captivating game score is for the charming and gorgeous Norwegian game called PODE, available for the moment exclusively on Nintendo Switch. “This was, in a sense, a return to older form for me,” Wintory said. “The music is very introspective and meditative, much more akin to my earliest score flOw than something ‘sweeping’ or cinematic like I’ve done so much lately. And it was a joy!”
PODE is a beautiful, adorable game from a terrific Norwegian studio (Henchman & Goon) led by the wonderful Yngvill Hopen. Quite some time ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Yngvill and very casually agreed to help out with her game. When the time came years after to take a look in more detail, I was genuinely dumbfounded. It had surpassed all of my expectations in its charm, aesthetic and its wonderfully approachable mechanics. As such, scoring this game was a true privilege and delight. If the bombast of The Banner Saga or devilishness of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is up your alley… you should check your expectations at the door! This is a very introspective and meditative score.”
Have a listen to the main theme on Soundcloud here, featuring a pair of spectacular musicians (Rachel Nesvig and Paul J. Cartwright) playing the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle. 
Hear more, or purchase the score from Wintory, on his Bandcamp page.

[speaking of The Banner Saga, just as this column was getting posted I received word that Wintory’s The Banner Saga 3 had just been posted to Austin’s Bandcamp page. <<Click the link back there a few words for info!)

YOKU’S ISLAND EXPRESS features an original score from Jesse Harlin (Mafia IIIStar Wars: The Old Republic) which has been released by award-winning video game soundtrack label Sumthing Else Music Works. The game is a family friendly, quirky, open world pinball game that allows the player to expand beyond the typical pinball experience. “Yoku’s Island Express is an adorable and charming oddity,” said Harlin. “It’s an open world Metroidvania pinball game about a tropical island with a Cthulhian elder god problem. As strange a mash up as that description is, I knew I needed to create something just as charmingly strange musically so that the score could function as a character in the game all on its own. Game players hear everything from beat boxing to bebop, medieval madrigals to chiptune basslines, and sinister reggae to Keystone Kops-styled piano chase music. There’s a song with pinball machine sounds in the percussion tracks, and that same track has banjo, ocarina, talking drum, and a drunken trombone. There’s even one track that uses the DNA sequence of yeast run through a robot-voice generating vocoder as part of the backing track. The score is definitely a little out there!”

Laced Records, in partnership with Bethesda Softworks and id Software, announced that the Doom original game soundtrack (2016 reboot) by composer Mick Gordon will make its long-awaited debut on physical audio formats (Vinyl/CD) in Summer 2018. The Doom soundtrack will be available in two formats at retail; a Deluxe Double CD in a triple gatefold sleeve including all 31 tracks from the game and a deluxe Double Vinyl with 20 favorite tracks selected by the developers pressed on 180g red vinyl and cased in a deluxe sleeve with full printed inner sleeves. The 2LP was cut at the world famous Abbey Road Studios.

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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.

Randall can be contacted at soundtraxrdl@gmail.com