Ten Tracks Today – 30th April 2012

01 – “Fall From Grace, Pt. 2” – L.A. NoireAndrew Hale

Great use of a small ensemble of players in this track: strings and brass come together in a tense (courtesy of the strings) and dramatic (brass) for a superior game score. The score as a whole is well worth hunting down.

02 – “Honor Inflamed” – Rob RoyCarter Burwell

An emotional beginning to this track with a swelling strings passage that leads into an almost fanfare-style brass statement. It’s a very dramatic piece full of emotion. This score is one that I only recently heard but it has become a favourite; possibly my favourite Burwell score.

03 – “I Claim Your Sun” – Transformers: Revenge of the FallenSteve Jablonsky

Score instalments 2 and 3 of this franchise really only shines when Jablonsky quotes his themes he used in the first score. They whole style he uses in the score I quite enjoy and some of the more “sound effects” are quite effective. Not much in the way of finesse here but it does have its moments.  [Read more…]

Ten Tracks Today – 23rd April 2012

01 – “The Airport Scene” – Catch Me If You CanJohn Williams

It’s the rhythms that are the attraction with this cue and the way that Williams skilfully passes the energy between the various sections of the orchestra. The score itself is not one of my favourites but this is a track that I do come back to.

02 – “Main Title – Reprise” – Forbidden WarriorMike Verta

Right from the off the initial fanfare shouts Far Eastern influences before for track settles back into more regular orchestral scoring. Verta gets the balance between the two just right, introducing the oriental fanfare throughout the track.

03 – “Main Title” – Half LightBrett Rosenberg

It’s a shame that I have not heard more from Rosenberg because his score for this Demi Moore vehicle features some particularly beautiful thematic material. Full of emotion this title theme is one of my favourites and is always welcomed when it appears on a playlist.

04 – “L’Ennemi Intime” – L’Ennemi IntimeAlexandre Desplat

I remember being disappointed on hearing this score in its entirety – another case of high expectations making it impossible for a score to deliver. This title track has a hint of the East that surfaces within Desplat’s brooding emotional material. It’s a score that needs to be listened to in manageable bite-sized pieces.

05 – “Trunkin’” – Underworld: EvolutionMarco Beltrami

This, for me, is this composer at his best. Full-on orchestral power with added pounding percussive rhythms for good measure. There’s no subtlety with this piece but it’s just so damn good. It tends to get drowned out in the final mix of the film itself so it is good to have it isolated and to savour by itself.

06 – “Seeing Through Ghosts (Theme from The Awakening)” – The AwakeningDaniel Pemberton

The composer’s see-sawing solo string device was an immediate hook to which my enthusiasm for this score was caught. A track (and score) that builds an uneasiness in the listener that can be exploited at any time.

07 – “Fire & Ice – Love Duet” – Fire & IceCarl Davis

By its very nature balletic in style this cue offers a break from the bombast of a lot of film music today. I try not to think of this as musical accompaniment for the ice skaters Torvill and Dean or (for some reason) I would perhaps take a dislike to it.

08 – “All Things Visible” – Murder In The FirstChristopher Young

One of Young’s most accomplished scores. The composer composed one of his most beautiful themes for this movie though this particular track only hints at this theme. Played entirely by strings it still has an emotional power even though there is no overt statement of the powerful theme.

09 – “The CREEP List (v.2)” – All The President’s MenDavid Shire

It’s the orchestration that’s the attraction in this particular track. The music itself plays almost as a bridge between scenes but the inventive orchestration makes it an interesting piece to hear.

10 – “Old Man” – Desert FlowerMartin Todsharow

Orchestration plays a role in the appeal of this track also. Sweeping strings play out an attractive theme before acoustic guitar and ethnic woodwinds add another layer of interest to the track. Todsharow is another composer who seems to have disappeared off the radar after this particular score.

Ten Tracks Today – 24th December 2011

01 – “Bayou” – The MechanicMark Isham

A quiet reflective track this one. Isham’s use of electric guitar with the orchestra (as well as electronic percussion) melds well here. Not a particularly notable track but a pleasant enough piece to start off with.

02 – “When It All Started” – The Christmas TangoJannos Eolou

The score seems based around a rather notable melody that gets a good airing in this track from the woodwinds. A repetitive string-based element and an accordion/harmonium add a bit of colour to the cue.

03 – “There Is Only One War (Opening Title)” – Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War IIDoyle W. Donehoo

There is what appears to be a generous nod to Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Alien to begin this track – on the scale of Tyler Bates’ “homage” from Elliot Goldenthal’s Titus for 300 – before the track goes off to some original scoring. Typical percussion and choir add menace to the orchestral score to give us, on balance, an interesting track. [Read more…]

Ten Tracks Today – 17th December 2011

01 – “Deer Hunting” – I Am LegendJames Newton Howard

There’s nothing much to the start of this cue – a tinkling piano motif – but pounding rhythms begin to intrude into the track as the peril of the deer becomes apparent. It’s not an over-orchestrated piece this, and it highlights well Howard’s grasp of the phrase “less is more”.

02 – “The Rain” – KikujiroJoe Hisaishi

This is such a beautiful track with it’s string solo together with piano accompaniment. A very lyrical piece that somehow has a sense of the bittersweet about it. I remember hearing this score as a clip in a “mystery clip” competition and immediately being attracted to this score. The end of the track moves onto what I would consider the “main theme” – another gem of a theme.

03 – “Corriendo al Ensayo de Teatro” – Hidalgo: La Historia Jamás ContadaAlejandro Giacomán

Swirling strings introduce a sense of urgency to the track. Also, the low strings add a repeating rhythm that is sustained throughout the track that propels it forward. Brass additions give the track a bit more depth and it all makes for an interesting piece. A bit of a disappointing score overall though. [Read more…]

Ten Tracks Today – 9th December 2011

01 – “Rambo Theme” – RamboBrian Tyler

I think that Tyler does a sensitive job with Jerry Goldsmith’s original theme(s) here. Personally, I think what Tyler added himself fits really well with the more emotional side of the original. When the score goes all action-oriented it is a Tyler score, but then a John Rambo film needs Goldsmith’s themes to make it a “proper” Rambo film.

02 – “Path of Tears” – World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich KingMatt Uelmen

The music for the World of Warcraft world is a monumental effort and has many of the properties of film and TV music (there is a blurring of both genres in terms of the quality of the music). This long track has (in places) a bit of an oriental feel to it with its emphasis on Eastern-style flute playing as well as the rhythmic bells. The track moves between various segments but there’s never really a dull moment.

03 – “Becoming Jerome” – GATTACAMichael Nyman

There’s a vibrancy to this cue that makes it so appealing. And it’s nice for Nyman to forego the use of saxophones for such a cue, relying instead on strings. A nice change from the emotional – and stunning – remainder of the score. [Read more…]

Ten Tracks Today – Best of 2011? Special #2 – 6th December 2011

01 – “Wickie auf Grosser Fahrt” – Vicky and The Treasure of the GodsRalf Wengenmayr, Nik Reich & Jaro Messerschmidt

This is a sprite little number starting off with what sounds like a piccolo. The track features quite a catchy fanfare before settling down to a sweeping string passage mid-cue that gives the impression of some seafaring epic. The track sometimes sails close to the wind (excuse the pun) sometimes and almost becomes too light-hearted and “kiddie” for my ageing preferences.

02 – “We Will Be Laotong” – Snow Flower and The Secret FanRachel Portman

This is such a lovely track, beginning as it does with a very tender solo piano before there’s the introduction of delicate strings. Portman’s integration of ethnic instruments with the strings works really well. There’s just enough of foreign colours to give a sense of place but to retain the western styling to enhance the feeling in the piece.

03 – “Answering The Call” – EA Sports NCAA Football 12Colin O’Malley

Typical American sports fanfares to start off this track. There’s something about the mix of brass and percussion rhythms (all synth?) that appeals to my sensibilities and this score as a whole (though short in length) delivers. And this cue in particular highlights all the positives. [Read more…]

Ten Tracks Today – Best of 2011? Special #1 – 29th November 2011

Decided to make a start on listening through some favourite individual tracks to try and pick out some favourites. It’s a bit of a tall order as there are hundreds that I have gathered over the year so far as “favourites”.

01 – “The Final Battle” – IroncladLorne Balfe

The track starts off very well with a good choral part that is supported by not too over-the-top percussion. The various elements of this long track are interesting to listen to, but it is a bit too disjointed sounding to hold together as a flowing track. There are 6-7 good solid tracks on this score.

02 – “Redemption, Pt. 2” – L.A. NoireAndrew Hale

I like the stop-start strings that start off this track. The addition of the (what sounds like) saxophone – and perhaps brass doubling up with this – is an effective sound. The way that it gets louder and angrier towards the end gives the whole piece a John Barry/James Bond sort of feel to it.

03 – “Golden Gate Bridge” – Rise of The Planet of The ApesPatrick Doyle

Quite standard action scoring, full of staccato strings, pounding percussion and powerful brass. Entirely serviceable as an action track and quite an exciting listen. Doyle clearly is able to deliver action scoring when required, but it’s not a particularly “stand-out” track for the year. [Read more…]