NEW CAPTAIN SCARLET – Crispin Merrell


Original Review by Alan Rogers

Back in 2005, Gerry Anderson (he of “Supermarionation” hits such as Thunderbirds) created a CGI animated TV serial reboot of the late sixties series Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons. Using “Hypermarionation” (a technique using CGI and motion capture), Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet (or more commonly New Captain Scarlet) was a show that turned out to be a bit grim and, to some, unsuitable for younger viewers though it did achieve some critical success. Unfortunately, the TV broadcasters chose to air the show erratically in the middle of a Saturday morning entertainment show, splitting the half-hour episodes into two parts and giving the audience no indication of when the parts would be shown. Although many of the features of the original incarnation were retained, Anderson decided not to retain any of Barry Gray’s original music. Instead he chose composer Crispin Merrell (who he had already used in his earlier series Space Precinct) and provide new music for the show.

Merrill’s approach to the main titles sequence is to score with small, brief motifs that reflects the titles montage rather than develop a memorable theme. In fact, the almost-frantic nature of the first track, “Captain Scarlet”, echoes the release of the characters from the stilted motions of the original puppets to an animation free of the marionette technology. [Read more…]

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AGENTS OF SECRET STUFF – George Shaw


Original Review by Alan Rogers (First uploaded at maintitles.net)

A YouTube short comedy-drama film that’s a mix of spy movie and teen-drama set in a high school, Agents of Secret Stuff centres on a secret agent going undercover to protect a girl who is a target of an assassin group. Produced by Wong Fu Productions, the music is composed by regular Wong Fu collaborator George Shaw who is probably best known for his MovieScore Media releases J-ok’el and Marcus. The music is written in the style of a James Bond/Mission: Impossible/spy movie style with twangy guitars, gutsy brass statements of the main heroic theme and a John Powell/Bourne movie vibe in the strings. Over the course of the 25-minute score, as well as the spy elements, there’s also room for comedic and romantic passages that all add up for a varied listen.

The opening track, “Agents of Secret Stuff”, gives a full-blown statement of the heroic theme in electric guitar and brass that starts things off very positively. The second track, “Training To Be An ASS”, then highlights the variety of the score as a whole and also shows off Shaw’s grasp of how best to use his limited resources for a movie such as this (the “live” instruments including “just” trumpet, violin, clarinet and guitar). This 3-minute cue is more of an atmospheric track, featuring electric bass guitar and a variety of electronic percussions with washes of synth soundscapes. Shaw does a good job of getting the most out of the limited live instruments [Read more…]

A new review over at maintitles.net – Clockwise (Maciej Dobrowolski)


My review of Maciej Dobrowolski’s excellent – though currently unreleased – score to the Qatari film Clockwise has been uploaded to Maintitles.net. Enjoy!

Ten Tracks Today – Remembering Jerry Goldsmith – 21st July 2011


I had not remembered but people better organised than myself reminded me that 7 years ago today film music lost one of its greatest – arguably greatest – film composer, Jerry Goldsmith. I remember driving with my wife to Liverpool and hearing the news of Goldsmith’s death on the BBC Radio news bulletin. The death of a film composer being mentioned on the news! I remember feeling quite emotional on hearing the news: I was familiar with a lot of Goldsmith’s music and, although I much preferred his earlier output compared to what he had been putting out more recently, his music from scores such as The Omen, Alien, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Final Conflict and Tora! Tora! Tora! were firm favourites.

In celebration of his life and his music I’ve been listening to some of my favourite tracks:

01 – “Take Him Home / Broken Toe” – InnerSpace

I hadn’t heard this until the recent release from La-La Land Records. This track highlights to me Goldsmith’s emotional writing for winds. And there’s just a hint of electronics to give it a bit of colour.

02 – “Retreat” – The Blue Max

I just love the way this one starts with low strings and then the martial snare drums. It shows up Goldsmith’s raw power in his scoring: a rawness that I associate with this specific composer. The orchestrations, small motivic devices as well as variations in themes all come together to give a sense of an almost frenzied retreat in places. To me, this is “vintage Goldsmith”. The composer seems to hint at the well-used Dies Irae without actually stating it in full.

03 – “The Harvest” – Medicine Man

I particularly like the pizzicato harp in this track as it starts; very delicate. Then the track picks up to a jaunty melody that’s very geographically set. As with InnerSpace there’s just enough electronics included to colour the cue rather than dominate. [Read more…]

My Favourite Scores – 1927


  • Metropolis
  • Gottfried Huppertz
  • Capriccio / 2011 / 77:08

By my reckoning, almost 2 hours of music was composed by Huppertz for this silent film. At the time an original score to be played by large orchestra “live” was commonplace. Huppertz composed a score full of themes and motifs, giving the main characters (e.g., Freder, Maria, Rotwang, etc) their own thematic material that is heard again and again throughout the score. There’s also a lot of what could be described as “descriptive music”, particularly ostinato patterns, that mimic the gigantic machinery that powers Metropolis, as well as organ blasts for the shift changeover hooter. Huppertz also includes various different musical styles in the score including a contemporary jazz style as well as including familiar tunes and he also makes good use of the “Dies Irae”.

The score was re-recorded for a 2001 DVD release of the film with Berndt Heller conducting the Rundfunksinfonieorchester Saarbrücken. As the movie had been extensively restored with the inclusion of a lot of recently discovered scenes, this represented a marriage of image and music as close to what was originally intended. I spent ages ripping the music off the DVD so I could listen to it away from the images (at the time there was no release of Huppertz’s score on CD). In 2010 the film was again restored and the score was again re-recorded, this time by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Frank Strobel. On this occasion however, almost 80 minutes of music from this latter recording was released by Capriccio for us to enjoy away from the image. [Read more…]