Posted by Alan Rogers on September 20, 2011
Original Review by Alan Rogers (First uploaded at maintitles.net)
In the low budget indie film Wonderful World, Matthew Broderick plays Ben Singer, a grump of a guy constantly outraged with everything around him, who spends most of his time smoking pot and arguing with his neighbours. His mood softens only in the company of his Senegalese room-mate and chess partner, Ibu. But when Ibu is taken ill and ends up in hospital, it is left to Ibu’s cheerful sister, Khadi, to try and improve Ben’s outlook on life. With Broderick’s character’s miserable outlook and the film’s somewhat slow pace, critics have focused on by how much the film is enlivened by the soundtrack. However, on the basis of Lakeshore Records’ release of Craig Richey’s small-ensemble score, these critics must be talking about the songs used rather than this score.
Craig Richey, whose main projects to date have been scores for short films and documentaries, has probably been heard by a great many people as it was he who composed the music featured in the Ford Motor Company’s advert featuring car parts as orchestral instruments. For Joshua Goldin’s first feature, Richey has taken a few staple (conventional) instruments of the low-budget film (piano, guitar and a small group of strings, etc) to fashion a score that very much reflects the dour, miserable feel of the film itself: a great support for the film but not so great for listening to away from the images. Richey talks about the film having a “wonderful sense of magic”, being “mixed with a sense of whimsy, melancholy, humor and a tender heart” but, in the main, all I get is the melancholy. The “Main Title” starts everything off relatively up-tempo though, with a jaunty melody that includes the use of the African kalimba (a “thumb piano”). But it is not long before the mood darkens in the subsequent tracks. The composer decided not to have any music that was influenced by the music of Senegal, but rather only use a few African instruments (such as the kalimba and the kora (a West African harp)) to add a “unique flavour”. The use of these instruments is welcome and tends to coincide with the few quicker-paced tracks – “Khadi Buys Shoes”, “Out of Gas” and “It Rains Fish” – possibly reflecting the positive influence of Khadi is having on Ben. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Reviews | Tagged: Craig Richey, film music, film score, Reviews, Soundtracks, Wonderful World | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan Rogers on September 20, 2011
Original Review by Alan Rogers
Sheridan Tongue has scored music for many UK dramas and TV documentaries. 2010 saw the transmission of two documentary mini-series that featured his scores. One was Wonders of The Solar System (the companion series to 2011′s Wonders of The Universe (reviewed here)). The other was Stephen Hawking’s Universe (aired in the US with the title Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking), a Discovery Channel science documentary mini-series written by Hawking and narrated by actor Benedict Cumberbatch (who incidentally played Hawking in the TV film, Hawking). Having episodes with titles such as “Aliens”, “Time Travel” and “The Story of Everything”, Stephen Hawking’s Universe has grand ambitions and comes across more science fiction than science fact due to the emphasis of the documentary on the physicist/cosmologist’s speculations and “what ifs?”, speculations that are based on theories extrapolated from current thinking. Tongue’s score is also ambitious in scale, using a 56-piece orchestra alongside electronic elements and providing a grand cinematic and dramatic score.
The album begins with “Into The Universe” and includes the music used during the introduction of the show. Tongue sets his stall out early with music full of bold brass fanfares alongside string ostinato figures. It is clear that the music is not only going to support the on-screen visuals, it is also going to grab the viewer by the scruff of the neck and drag them through Hawking’s universe. Ostinato figures – and rhythm in general – feature prominently throughout the score, driving the visuals forward and adding a sense of the dramatic. “Time Travelling”, “The WOW Signal” and “Alien Ocean” all feature ostinato patterns, fuelling the music onward. Tongue does add interest to these rhythms by varying their instrumentation; both between instruments of the orchestra (e.g., strings in cues such as “Time Travelling” and “The WOW Signal” and keyboards in cues such as “The Endless Waltz of Galaxies”) and also between the orchestra and various electronic sounds (e.g., “The WOW Signal” and “The Mad Scientist Paradox”). Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Reviews | Tagged: audio clips, Reviews, Sheridan Tongue, Soundtracks, Stephen Hawking's Universe, TV music, TV score | Leave a Comment »