Weekly Recommendations – w/e 17th December 2021

Here’s another round-up of recommended scores that have caught my attention over the week ending, 17th December 2021.

Alienated (2021) – James Oliver (Tritone)

A little feel-good alien love story viewable on Amazon Prime, James Oliver’s delicate little score oozes a warmth that is an asset for the movie. The music is characterised by Oliver’s use of various members of the wind section that gives the score variety. Piano and pizzicato strings/harp adds tenderness and romance to the mix and the composer doesn’t shy away from ramping up the drama when required by calling upon a larger scale ensemble. A lovely little score from a composer I haven’t come across before.

The Substitute Wife (1994) – Mark Snow (BSX Records)

The lovely music continues…BSX Records’ digital release of Mark Snow’s music for the TV movie, The Substitute Wife, gives the listener the opportunity to hear Snow’s lovely theme in the wider context of this 25 minute album (only a small sample of music was previously available). Set on a frontier farm, a farmer’s wife must find a replacement wife for her husband when she discovers that she has only months to live. Snow’s score goes to the heart of the story, with the orchestral score focusing on the emotional trials and tribulations at the heart of the movie. Encompassing tender moments with the wide expanse of the setting this is a heart-warming half-hour of music.

Silverstar (2021) – Karl Heortweard (Heortweard)

Silverstar, a sequel to the 2019 Whitestar, is a Dutch feature that follows a 16-year-old who forms a bond with the horse, Silverstar, and who must run away with the horse when the girl senses that the horse is in danger. Heortweard – who also scored the first movie in this series – again delivers a solid, lovely score that balances the tenderness and love between the two principal characters and the drama that befalls them. Solo strings gives the score an almost folktale quality to the music that adds character to the score and fits well with the music’s emphasis on small-scale ensemble playing. Another lovely score.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) – Michael Giacchino (Sony Classical)

Michael Giacchino’s score for the final movie in Jon Watt’s Spider-Man trilogy is entertaining and balances the action and emotion required for a movie of this demanding genre. Others have gone to great lengths to discuss the details of the movie, its thematic content and how the thematic material from previous movies and characters fits into the 75-minute playing time of the album. Giacchino’s action and emotional music is as strong as you would expect from a composer of his calibre. As a stand-alone listen Spider-Man: No Way Home is a strong album that maintains a level of interest in the listener that ensures that the time just flies by.

Boys from County Hell (2021) – Steve Lynch (MovieScore Media)

An Irish horror/thriller, Boys from County Hell features a group of road workers who must survive the night after awakening an Abhartach, an ancient Irish vampire. The composer brings a myriad of musical colours to the project that accumulate over the course of the 40-minute album to create a dramatic and varied listening experience. Mixing melodic moments – there are a number of quieter, emotional passages – with more atonal ‘scare music’, guttural electric guitars and grand church organ and particularly memorable. It’s a score that, I suspect, is much grander than the movie for which it was made. This score is one of those examples where, after hearing the music, you want to hunt down the movie to see how it all works together.

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