Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 30th September 2022. As usual, quite an eclectic selection that offers some great listening.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite (2021) – Austin Wintory (Hollywood Records)
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a third-person shooter video game and is a standalone sequel to the original Alien film trilogy. The composer has stated that an important aspect of the music is to have a number of musical references to the earlier scores from Jerry Goldsmith (Alien), James Horner (Aliens), and Elliot Goldenthal (Alien³). Wintory does an excellent job at suggesting these three iconic scores but without being too obvious: it’s more an insinuation rather than a statement and the score is all the more unsettling because of this. Wintory score blends atmosphere with action scoring to create a very interesting soundtrack. The composer has posted several videos on his YouTube channel where he talks about how he has put together some of the cues for the score and it’s amazing how much work goes into the music/soundscapes, some of which are only fleetingly heard.
Continue reading “Weekly Recommendations – w/e 30th September 2022: Aliens – Fireteam Elite, 請君 (Thousand Years of You) & Siccità”
Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 23rd September 2022. Titles include a number of interesting scores for games as well as small-scale TV scoring.
Pearl (2022) – Tyler Bates & Timothy Williams (A24 Music)
The story of Pearl concerns a young girl who dreams of Hollywood stardom but who is trapped to her life on the family’s isolated farm. But at some point all her repression builds to breaking point. The composers give the movie a score that’s – at the start – very “classical Hollywood” in style (e.g., melodic strings-driven orchestrations). One of the intriguing aspects of the score is how, from a musical point of view, the opening lush score disintegrates from a grand almost melodramatic score to something more akin to a horror score dripping in darker more portentous moments. It all mirrors the deterioration of Pearl’s dream-world. It’s an album that’s both beautiful and is an interesting musical journey over the course it its playing time.
Continue reading “Weekly Recommendations – w/e 23rd September 2022: Pearl, General Electric Theater, The DioField Chronicle…”
Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 16th September 2022. This week it’s a couple of European features that are worth looking for.
Jack Mimoun et les Secrets de Val Verde (2022) – Mathieu Lamboley (Pathé Films)
Jack Mimoun et les Secrets de Val Verde is a French/Belgian action comedy film about a famous adventure celebrity who is coaxed back to the island of Val Verde to search for a legendary pirate’s sword. French-born composer Mathieu Lamboley takes full advantage of the opportunity offered to him by this movie to write am exciting orchestral score (with added choir) that very much echoes the classic adventure score. There’s a grand and memorable main theme (that somehow reminds me of Alan Silvestri’s Back to the Future) around which the various aspects of the score are written. As well as the exciting action scoring, there’s a slower-paced music that probably reflects the romance and love interest, and quieter mysterious ambient music. It’s a strong adventure score that’s both punchy and restrained when required, and is a further example of solid scoring that I have come to expect from Lamboley.
Continue reading “Weekly Recommendations – w/e 16th September 2022: Jack Mimoun et les Secrets de Val Verde & The Conversation”
Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 9th September 2022.
Les Papillons Noirs (2022) – Clément Tery (EDITIONS MUSICALES FRANCOIS 1er)
The French TV mini-series Les Papillons Noirs (Black Butterflies) tells the story of a young writer who agrees to write the memoirs of a septuagenarian recluse. However, as the man recounts his life it becomes clear that there are a number of surprising skeletons hidden in his past. French composer Clément Tery’s score is one that’s more intriguing rather than easy on the ears. The score is based around some lovely orchestral writing, particularly in the strings. And there are moments of the album that are very beautiful indeed. But there’s a duality to the music: as well as the “conventional” orchestral scoring, Tery employs a number of additional elements – for example, various percussive parts, otherworldly female vocals, and sound manipulation techniques – to give the score an off-kilter quality that feels akin to what I would describe as European horror scores from the 1970s. The result is that each track is anticipated to hear where the composer has taken the music next.
Continue reading “Weekly Recommendations – w/e 9th September 2022: Les Papillons Noirs, Lost Ollie & Tales of Arise”
Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 2nd September 2022. Two scores, one of which starts off a TV show that’s epic in every sense of the word, are this week’s offerings.
Burning Land (2022) – Omri Lahav (Omri Lahav)
Israeli composer Omri Lahav’s album for the music to the feature film Burning Land opens with a summary of the score as a whole: a score rooted to a prominent and beautiful theme but infused with a sadness and melancholic tone that no doubt mirrors the movie’s topic. Burning Land tells the story of a teenage runaway who finds himself in Samaria in the West Bank and becomes involved in the conflicts of the region. Lahav’s score focuses on the story’s human side and features some beautiful string writing which is augmented with various solo instruments, creating a powerful and emotional listening experience. The music does venture into (relatively) lighter moments (e.g., using a delicate flute) and also reflects some dramatic scenes with low ominous strings to give the music a particularly dark feel. But, however the composer approaches the various emotional moments of the film, the use of strings ensemble and selected soloists dominates the soundscape.
Continue reading “Weekly Recommendations – w/e 2nd September 2022: Burning Land & The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (A Shadow of the Past)”
Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 26th August 2022. This week’s selection offers up an international sample of scores.
Pobre Familia Rica (2022) – Tomás Barreiro (TBmovies)
Music for comedies isn’t really a style that usually attracts me but Tomás Barreiro’s score for the Mexican comedy Pobre Familia Rica which premiered via streaming in Brazil in 2022 is one that’s recommended as a curiosity. Written for a film (also known as Poor Rich Family (When Luck Run$ Out)) where a family, 15 years after winning the lottery, have fallen on hard times financially, the music is very much influenced by a variety of musical styles including classical composers such as Beethoven (and his symphonic work) through to the likes of Philip Glass and Michael Nyman (with the emphasis of strong rhythms rather than their minimalism). Jaunty woodwinds, upwards and downwards glissandi in the aforementioned woodwinds and brass, and staccato and pizzicato patterns in the strings all add the comedic element of the score and to the underlying classical style – which is itself based around an upbeat theme that’s heard throughout the 15-minute album. Unlike most comedic scores – which are usually difficult listens away from their images due to their reliance on ‘mickey-mousing’ – the score for Pobre Familia Rica is an entertaining and lighthearted listen.
Continue reading “Weekly Recommendations – w/e 26th August 2022: Pobre Familia Rica, El Caso Figo & Kadet 1947”
Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 19th August 2022. Two albums that each play for over 100 minutes succeed in maintaining the attention with some excellent thematic music.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Season One) (2022) – Bear McCreary (Amazon Content Services)
One of the most anticipated scores of 2022 is presented here in the style of a symphonic poem – albeit as almost 40 separate tracks that feature individual treatments of thematic material from McCreary’s score, as well as music specially formatted for this release and based upon the original scores for each of the episodes of the Amazon Prime series. Running to over 150 minutes in length The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Season One) showcases the broad overall arc of the story and is an excellent way of presenting what is a mammoth amount of music written for the show. Creating a musical world that is distinctly different from the music written by Howard Shore for the movies set in Middle Earth, McCreary expertly (and briefly) echoes occasionally the style of Middle Earth, particularly when the TV show itself echoes the familiar lore touched on in the films. The composer’s use of a specific palette of instruments, human voice, and orchestration choices also echoes the movies but, once again, McCreary is able to maintain his uniqueness. The original music from each of the individual episodes are released after they are aired (which is to be applauded) but The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Season One) represents a wonderful overview of the music written for this first season.
Continue reading “Weekly Recommendations – w/e 19th August 2022: The Lords of the Rings: The Rings of Power & Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy”
Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 12th August 2022. Three albums in particular make the cut.
到那时 (Tide of Era) (2019) – 郭思达 (Guo Sida) (Gstar Music Studio)
Tide of Era is a dance drama performed by the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater performance group telling the story of two generations of families over the course of 40 years in the development of China. This 90-minute album represents music taken from this score. Fully orchestral and of a western style, the music has numerous beautiful passages. Ranging from intimate, small-scale ensemble pieces up to full-blooded orchestral grandeur Tide of Era calls upon all sections of the orchestra to create a very listenable album that sits well with the best that Hollywood can produce. For those interested in sampling this album it is catalogued using its Chinese character name rather than the English translation.
Continue reading “Weekly Recommendations – w/e 12th August 2022: 到那时 (Tide of Era), Night of the Coconut & Tyrant’s Blessing”
Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 5th August 2022. This week there were two scores that were particularly memorable.
My Neighbor Adolf (2022) – Łukasz Targosz (Kayax Distribution / Łukasz Targosz)
My Neighbor Adolf is the story of a Polish Holocaust survivor living in South America who suspects that the combative German who has moved in next door could be Adolf Hitler. Polish composer Łukasz Targosz’s wonderfully expressive music swings from being quirky (with its choice of spare instrumentation including clarinet, trumpet, accordion, cimbalom, timpani and what sounds like a church organ and even a bowed saw) through to beautifully tender and emotional moments. Targosz achieves this with variations in a very versatile main theme which he passes to various parts of the limited ensemble. A significant portion of the score (particularly the opening tracks) utilises staccato and pizzicato techniques to the give the comedic feel to the score using variations of this main theme but then the composer hits the listener with a wonderfully tender and lovely rendition of the main theme on solo piano and violin. It’s one of the loveliest things I have heard this year. My Neighbor Adolf is an excellent example of less is more in film scoring. It’s surprising and disappointing that this album hasn’t received more attention since its release.
Continue reading “Weekly Recommendations – w/e 5th August 2022: My Neighbor Adolf & The Moderator”
Here’s a round-up of recommended scores that caught my attention over the week ending, 29th July 2022. A relatively quiet week this week with an interesting score from a part of the world not usually featured for film music releases.
AshMan (2021) – Abdullah Al Ali (Records DK)
AshMan is an Arabic language Kuwaiti comedy feature that tells the story of the eponymous superhero as he learns to control his newly-acquired powers before going up against the forces of evil. It’s interesting to hear how composer Abdullah Al Ali approaches this genre and, on the basis of this 30-minute album, it’s very similar to the approach taken by Hollywood for films of a similar subject. Blaring muted brass gives the score an ominous feel to it and strong percussive elements drive the score forward. The inclusion of a mildly-comedic short motif (often heard on piano) adds a lightness in places. Although this is an action superhero movie (at least the trailer suggests this) there’s quite a lot of “place-holding” material that doesn’t really reflect much action: it’s more atmospheric. Also, there’s only occasional reference to middle eastern instruments that give any hint at the location of the movie. It may sound that the score isn’t one that’s a particular highlight. And that’s true, but it’s worth listening to to get a sense of what’s happening in film scoring in the wider world outside Hollywood.