Music for video games has developed over the last 20 years or so as the technology behind the video games themselves has become more complex. Today, many video games contain orchestral scores and have much in common with film scores of the films coming out of Hollywood and beyond. Because of these similarities it’s easy to assume that the issues and challenges faced by the game and film (or TV) music composer are the same. Award-winning composer Winifred Phillips’ music first appeared in God of War in 2004 and she has gone on to compose music for games such as The Da Vinci Code, Shrek The Third, Spore Hero, LittleBigPlanet 2, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, and many others. In her new book, A Composer’s Guide To Game Music, Phillips expertly details what’s involved in becoming a video game music composer, highlighting the specific challenges a composer for games faces.. By the end of this excellent book, any reader contemplating a career as a video game music composer will understand clearly the personal and technical abilities required to succeed and anyone with a more general interest in video gaming or how music is used in film, television and video games will better appreciate how different composing music for video games is from any other media type. [Read more...]
The Newton Brothers’ score for Zack Parker’s psychological thriller Proxy is being compared with the classic scores of Pino Donaggio for Brian De Palma films (e.g., Carrie, Dressed To Kill, Passion) and, perhaps more worryingly (in terms of expectations for the score), with Bernard Herrmann’s scores for Alfred Hitchcock; particularly Psycho. It’s not particularly surprising that Andrew Grush and Taylor Stewart’s (aka The Newton Brothers) score does not live up to hype. However, I do think that the strings-heavy music for Proxy is an interesting and worthwhile score that is a solid addition to the psychological thriller/horror film music genre by shying away from soundscape ambience (that are frequently pretty unlistenable away from the film) and instead taking a limited sound palette and using it in interesting ways that are worthy of isolated and repeated listens.
Written and directed by Spanish film-maker Juan Antonio Espigares, Fuga is a multi-award winning animated film that tells the story of Sara, a young girl who arrives at the Saint Cecilia Conservatory to pursue her dream of becoming a concert violinist. However, her musical ability soon draws the attention of a rival who will stop at nothing to ensure that she, and not Sara, is chosen as the soloist at an upcoming concert. Released to the film festival circuit in 2012, Fuga is a fantastic little film, a mesmerizing mix of visual styles that includes detailed computer and roughly-drawn animation that are combined within the same scenes and offering a variety of differing perspectives to the unfolding story. This potentially of-putting switching back and forth between various animation techniques actually draws the viewer into the story, making you eager to discover the significance of animation style choices as well as to follow the thread of the story. [Read more...]
To Mikro Psari (Το Μικρο Ψαρι) (literally translated as “Little Fish” but released under the title “Stratos”) is a Greek crime drama co-written and directed by Yannis Economides. With the backdrop of the economic decline and moral decay of recession-hit Greece, the film follows Stratos (Vangelis Mourikis), a bakery worker by night and hired hit man by day, as his complex life begins to unravel piece by piece. Reviews of the film have been mixed, with critics commenting that the film is too long, too slow and not particularly exciting. From what little I have seen, the film is bleak and brooding with an emphasis on a washed-out, grey colour palette. The composer of the score is guitarist, arranger and composer Babis Papadopoulos who is probably best-known for being a member of “Trypes”, an influential Greek rock band from the mid-1980s. Papadopoulos delivers an interesting guitar-only score built around a few basis chords which, though containing some catchy hooks that stay in the mind after the score has finished, has minimal emotional impact when heard separate from the film. [Read more...]
Spate is a platformer game from Ayyo Games set in a surreal “steampunk” world. Visual artist Eric Provan, creator of Spate, has come up with a game that focuses on creating great visuals, mood and atmosphere to support the story. And a major contributor to making the game as arresting as it is is composer Mike Raznick, who has fashioned a score that envelopes the listener (whether they are playing the game or listening to the album), drawing them into the world of Spate. The plot is a simple one: you are Bluth – a private investigator – hired to find out what’s happened to a businessman last seen entering “The X-Zone”. The X-Zone is a group of islands that have been shrouded in mysterious clouds and rain for a number of years. To complicate matters, Bluth’s daughter was one of the many people who went missing (and are presumed dead) when the rains came. [Read more...]
The Red Envelope is a short fantasy film from 2013 directed by Owen Schwartzbard. Opening in 1920s China, it stars Matthew Gallenstein as Roy – an American living in China – who comes across an ancient Chinese curse. At the centre of the curse is the ghost of a woman, Xiao Ling (Yuanyuan Lu). She has been cursed because of some terrible event carried out in a past life. What this deed is must be discovered in order for the curse to lifted and for Xiao Ling to be at peace. The film follows the pair as they move back through time (to her various past lives) searching for the moment when the woman’s fate was sealed. The orchestral score for The Red Envelope is a collaboration between composer/songwriter/producer Jorge Corante and Spanish composer Andrés de la Torre. Both composers have written for a number of movie projects, with de la Torre’s score for the 2006 animated film Gritos en el Pasillo (Going Nuts) receiving two nominations at the Jerry Goldsmith International Film Music Awards. [Read more...]