Filmmuziek nieuws

Audio: Interview with John Powell

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 23/05/2018 - 21:50

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

Since his major Hollywood scoring debut with 1997’s “Face/Off,” English expatriate John Powell has been on the propulsive cutting edge of scoring. With a frequent taste for offbeat bravado and instrumentation, Powell’s rambunctious rhythms helped turn the face of animation scoring into delightfully fractured fairytales from the kazoos of “Chicken Run” to the erhus of “Kung Fu Panda” and the soaring bagpipes of his Oscar-nominated “How to Train Your Dragon.” The expected gun-and-car mayhem of how to handle action suddenly became an exotic beat-down with the furious Afro-pulse of the “Bourne Identity” franchise, the murderously romantic tangos of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” as well as the blazingly traditional symphonic superheroics of “X-Men The Last Stand.”

At his continual best, there’s a daredevil sense of invention to John Powell’s work, the feeling that his frequent love for big themes and melodies can take us anywhere. Yet perhaps no musical franchise has a sense of the expected like the gloriously sweeping sound of “Star Wars,” whose musical route was forever set by John Williams. But leave it to that saga’s disruptor space jockey, and his new scoring co-pilot to take a new course through the Kessel Run for “Solo – A Star Wars Story.” However, it’s not like the tone of “Star Wars” music has been blown away like Alderaan by a composer with a Kylo Ren attitude. Instead, Powell goes beyond the expected John Williams sound to make “Solo” very much about his own grab-bag style, all without breaking the wheel of this origin film’s squeaky clean Millennium Falcon. For “Solo” is all about a scoundrel breaking the rules, his symphonic bravado and heist rhythms making this the first truly unique soundtrack in the “Star Wars” feature film cannon, while still delivering the thrilling, and musically iconic goods that fans expect.

John with cast at Cannes

Now on a new episode of On the Score, John Powell talks about taking the dice to the kingdom that put interstellar, old school orchestral thrills back on the map, but with an attitude that promises a bright musical future ahead for the scoring days of iconic characters past.

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Buy the Soundtrack: SOLO: A STORY WARS STORY Buy John Powell’s choral album “Hubris” on June 15th at Amazon.com Visit John Powell’s Website

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

May Soundtrack Picks

Film Music Magazine News - Vr, 18/05/2018 - 01:33

Soundtrack Picks: “LOST IN SPACE” is the top soundtrack to own for MAY, 2018

Also worth picking up: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, (CARGO), COBRA KAI, GHOST STORIES, OVERBOARD, RAIN MAN, RAMBO III REVENGE and many more!

To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover

THE TOP PICKS

1) (CARGO)

Price: $20.97

What Is it?: From being stuck in a grave or a car trunk, thrillers with confined spaces often yield interesting scores that mix claustrophobia with a far bigger, suspenseful world outside of the character’s entombment. In the driving hands of Tangerine Dream musician Thorsten Quaeschning and his band Picture Palace, “(Cargo)” has a pulsating, sumptuous groove that opens up the sinister forces outside of its metal container, while playing the increasingly crazed escape efforts of a perhaps not-so-innocent business magnate. Intense character actor Ron Thompson (“American Pop,” “Baretta”) makes a major tour de force comeback in director James Dylan’s impressive debut film (available to watch HERE August 14th) as his air, and patience run thin.

Why Should You Buy It?: Making a far easier breakthrough in “(Cargo)” is Quaeschning, whose time spent with Dream-maker Edgar Froese shows off considerably with a score that brings to mind such classic TD soundtracks as “Thief,” “Near Dark” and “Miracle Mile.” Like his prog-rock mentor, Quaeschning shows a powerful, propulsive ability to run with ever-building melodic ideas. Quaeschning palpably conveys the developing panic, then fury of its antihero, his music atmospherically reflective for one stretch, the furiously spinning from one potential avenue of release to the other. Avoiding any chance of “(Cargo)” being a long haul, Quaeschning’s enveloping score visualizes the one-man show’s torment, enraged heirs and insane chases that are cleverly conveyed via cell phone with sharp dialogue and sound effects. It’s a well-modulated approach that segues from psychological refection to desperate action with the film’s gliding camera moves, with cues that are long (with one even coming in at sixteen minutes), but continuously mesmerizing.

Extra Special: “(Cargo)” might be a literally slightly bigger than small film, but packed with an enveloping energy in all respects. Quaeschning and Picture Palace makes it a fun ride by opening up a far bigger sonic world multitrack rhythms jam to the haunting simplicity of piano, voices and an orchestral presence with composer’s electrifying feature debut that not only pays tribute at the stylistic altar of Tangerine Dream, but more importantly charts cool new paths for alt. scoring’s post-Froese future.


2) COBRA KAI (Available May 22)

Price: $15.98

What Is it?: In 2018, everything 80’s is new again, the decade’s pop entertainment first given a wonderfully uncondescending valentine with the potpourri of references within Alan Silvestri’s era-summing score for “Ready Player One,” Now composers Leo Birenberg and Zach Robinson’s offer total recall of Bill Conti’s classic “Karate Kid” soundtracks for “Cobra Kai,” while kicking deeper to play far more realistic characters than we’d think possible – in this case a bullied kick who seemingly got the last laugh and his butthead tormentor who’s desperately trying to find redemption.

Why Should You Buy It?: “Cobra Kai” is likely to win this year’s TV tournament as it reveals a seemingly endless amount of layers to a pop culture surface, paying homage while growing up at the same time in a way that’s real, yet cheeky. That musical feet is terrifically pulled off by a duo who trained at the dojo of Chris Beck, a composer equally adept in strong orchestral themes as well as a multiplex pop groove, an approach they assisted with on their additional scoring on the likes of “Ant Man” and “Edge of Tomorrow” before moving onto the TV world with “Adam Ruins Everything,” Son of Zorn” and “Sing!” With YouTube Red’s “Cobra Kai” (already renewed for a second season), Birenberg and Robinson have created a force of extraordinary magnitude in joining Bill Conti’s “Karate Kid’s” heroically emotional with the anthemic rock grooves of a hit soundtrack that featured Survivor’s “The Moment of Truth” and Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best Around.” It’s an approach evolved from the 80’s for a new generation of bullied students, but very much alive with the groove of their opposing sensei’s whom haven’t grown up nearly as much as they think. It’s also music that thematically sums up Johnny and Daniel’s respective tutelage of kicking ass and showing tenderness. Current and retro keyboards rock out with electric guitar in pop ballad style, while Mr. Miyagi’s spirit powerfully lives on with Asian winds and percussion. With a show that’s impressively well produced for a channel that made its bones on amateur videos, Birenberg and Robinson also get a real orchestra to create a sense of epic excitement, particularly in the breathless cues for its fights, which like the original, take on the sense of the world itself at stake. An unequalled composer at depicting the underdog from “Rocky” to “The Karate Kid,” Conti’s trademarked brass sound is also taken to the next level to plays the characters’ emotional stakes for real. Better yet, Birenberg and Robinson are sure to use Conti’s themes, most touchingly when Daniel remembers his mentor. With its once-teen foes finding renewed passion from the chance for a new battle in the form of teen surrogates, the score repeatedly goes ballistic with martial arts shouts driving the excitement, as well as the music’s clever sense of homage.

Extra Special:
Whether its updated power pop energy or heartfelt emotion, Birenberg and Robinson are playing “Cobra Kai” for real, capturing the same sense of enthusiasm and discovery that made the first “Karate Kid” its music live on for decades, opening up a whole new soundtrack dojo to sweep the ear with.

3) THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX / LOST IN SPACE

    

Price: $11.29 / $14.98

What Is It?: The danger of space has never been more exhilarating than when captured by two composer swiftly rising into the stratosphere of their craft, as Bear McCreary and Christopher Lennertz continue to show Netflix as a realm to find some of the most surprising, and powerfully symphonically-grounded scores on the big or small screens with “The Cloverfield Paradox” and “Lost in Space”

Why Should You Buy It?:
Though the third time wasn’t the charm for the “Cloverfield” franchise, one can count on Bear McCreary to deliver a terrific score for J.J. Abrams somehow interconnected saga – here given the centrifugal force of a space station’s reality warping energy run amuck. Where McCreary’s big, Herrmann-esque suspense and concluding sci-fi style action really opened the bomb shelter surroundings of the last, vastly superior “12 Cloverfield Lane,” there’s significantly more scope for him to play here. Taking “Lane’s” epic dimension to truly inter-dimensional lengths here, McCreary’s dynamically rhythmic score conveys the excitement of an earth-shattering discovery, while at the same time darker, choral tones swirl about to sing with the time-honored adage of things not meant to be tampered with by science. It’s powerful writing, as mixed with electronic beats that reach that accelerates with wonder and fear, the space rift dynamically rupturing in the score with eerie male voices and nerve-tingling tones as creatures and disembodied limbs compound its astronauts’ troubles, yet always with strong themes in accompaniment to emotionally ground the action – no more so than in the score’s breathless space walk highlight. As he’s showed in “Battlestar Galactica,” “Europa Report“ and now a score that really keeps Abrams’ “Cloverfield” franchise afloat, McCreary captures the final frontier by way of the twilight zone with thematic aplomb.

Extra Special: While he’s mainly been busy with funny animals, naughty supermarket produce and crass humans, you can tell from Christopher Lennertz’s energetic talent that he’s been yearning to blast off into the John Williams stratosphere. With Netflix’s reboot of “Lost in Space,” he captures the spirit of a symphonically starstuck, sci-fi loving kid who’s been in waiting for the chance to become a rocket man. Lennertz delivers on the Danger Will Robinson action, while more importantly emotionally centering his music on the show’s family dynamic. It’s by no coincidence that the original series unmatched first season was distinguished by John Williams’s orchestral scoring and themes – a soaring nobility and sense of fun that Lennertz brings to this new generation – of course with Williams’ iconic theme wrapped into his own main title, and showing up in the score at just the right moments. While Netflix’s “Space” spent no small amount of time finding its sea legs in terms of pacing and casting, there’s no denying its excellent production value on every single level, especially when it comes to Lennertz’s work that effortlessly alternates between the sense of optimistic wonder that lies within the unknown and the environmental threat of it. Right from the noble brass of his main theme, Lennertz mixes peril, excitement and tenderness into just about every well-chosen cue on Lakeshore’s compilation. With the show taking a self-consciously adult direction from the original’s camp appeal, Lennertz’s mature, if no less boyishly enthusiastic writing plays the fantastical cliffhanging situations for real, yet with a sense of the epic. At its most symphonically resplendent, Packed with both nostalgia and vibrant freshness, Lennertz raises the ante of the Robinsons future TV adventures with sumptuous work that will hopefully net him bigger screen constellations to play in.

4) GHOST STORIES

Price: $13.98

What is it?: Horror anthologies were all the rage back in England during the 1970s with “Tales from the Crypt,” “Asylum” and “The House that Dripped Blood.” Given a horror subgenre that was all about fright, it was only a matter of time before some higher minded Brits would re-enter this vault of horror, delivering chills and smarts via Israeli composer Frank Ilfman, who’s anything but straight-jacketed by “Ghost Stories” artier attitude.

Why Should You Buy It?: Making his international breakthrough with a rousing, Herrmann-esque score for his country’s acclaimed pitch-black torture horror dramedy “Big Bad Wolves,” Ilfman has since excelled in nasty business. Putting a devilish grin on “Abulele’s” surprisingly nice giant furball, then creepily cohabitating with the ghost of “Sensoria,” Ilfman most recently took a murderously fun retro route with “68 Kill,” For “Ghost Stories,” Ilfman takes the musical point of view of a foolishly disbelieving ghost buster, the kind of religious guilt schlub for whom things never work out in this sort of film. Travelling from one distraught witness to the next, Ilfman’s score effectively depicts a haunted guard with daughter issues, a gibbering teen hitting the worst kind of victim with his distracted driving, and a cocky businessmen who sees the price his wife paid for trying to give birth. Starting out with a quite lush, and lovely main theme, Ilfman shows terror as well as class with scratched, pierced sampling to convey the menacing corners of a mental hospital, then jumps into berserk Danny Elfman-esque choral territory before going for a tingling, psychological presence of a potential toddler gone wrong. Ilfman saves the real nightmarish stuff for last with the kind of beyond awful ending anthologies relish in. With a keen talent for melody as much as abstractionism, Ilfman shows far more perceptiveness for creeping about the phantom zone than his luckless leading man. It’s an approach that beckons equally well for the increasingly dissonant expressionism of musical horror as it does old school fans’ yearning for majestically awestruck orchestrations. The result of his gleeful jump-scares and lavish writing is the kind of rare soundtrack the wraps itself around your imagination to create its own haunting tales – a knowing cavalcade of horror scoring tropes that are juiced up with the chanting, creaking door, symphonic pouncing and the rousingly melodic grand guignol of musical storytelling. It’s a soundtrack to warily be played with the lights off as it gleefully, and sumptuously illuminates its characters’ nightmares and the ghoulish talents of its musical crypt keeper.

Extra Special: Binding together Ilfman’s stirring music is clever snatches of dialogue for a film that originally began its haunt on the English stage. But it’s the singing voice of the UK’s decidedly happy Anthony Newley whose cooing tale of clinging love gets put to ghastly ironic use with “Why,” while the utterly goofy and beloved Boris Karloff-esque annunciated “Monster Mash” becomes positively chilling as an end credit song following a particularly awful fate that for “Ghost Stories’” Doubting Thomas.


5) RAIN MAN (1,000 edition)

Price: $19.95

What Is it: No composer had taken a road trip through America like Germany’s Hans Zimmer, whose Afro-centric rhythms turned highways into a funky, synth-fueled Serengeti in his Oscar-nominated score for 1988’s Best Picture winner. But then, he was hearing through the eyes of an autistic math savant with a particular love for Qantas airlines, hence his smartly imaginative star making film with a score that put an alternative world beat approach on the Hollywood map.

Why Should You Buy It?: Zimmer was no doubt infused with ethnic creativity as a wingman for the great, unsung English composer Stanley Myers on such scores as “My Beautiful Launderette,” “Castaway” and “The Fruit Machine” before his first major solo score on the Apartheid drama “A World Apart,” a score which caught director Barry Levinson’s ear for “Rain Man’s” temporary soundtrack. Zimmer’s final music went well beyond Africa with its powerful tribal groove for percussion and winds. But then, “Rain Man’s” musical charm has always been in its oddball approach, one that hears the magic of a beautiful mind, and ultimately the tragic acknowledgement that it won’t function in the familial way that Tom Cruise’s morally reborn cad desperately hopes for. With synths ruling the 80’s, Zimmer had an lush, Fairlight synth sound uniquely his own, used here in a poetically wistful, whimsical and haunted way. Oriental winds, Australian Didgeridoo, rock guitar and eccentric rhythm gave “Rain Man” its mesmerizing, toe-tapping drive – with the ultimate destination of Las Vegas a dazzlingly gaudy bash of rock guitar and wailing voice. “Rain Man” essentially laid the groundwork for Zimmer’s dynamic sound that has continued to grow in even more esoteric directions. But for many, the 90’s keyboard-powered likes that followed with “Black Rain,” “Broken Arrow” and “Green Card” are a heyday of Zimmer’s sense of discovery – a voyage here given a sense of magic for his “music from Mars.”

Extra Special:
Though only given a couple of cuts in its first soundtrack incarnation, “Rain Man’s” initial release of Zimmer’s score crashed and burned with one of the worst, muddy-sounding soundtrack releases in history. It was sonic carnage that no one thought could’ve been cleaned up. But leave it to Notefornote to accomplish the impossible. With their first release being Zimmer’s somewhat more traditional grrll power drive through the southwest with “Thelma and Louise,” the label now rolls the speedometer back to turn “Rain Man’s” Edsel into a beautifully remastered Rolls Royce, especially when liner note specialist Randall D. Larson is holding the roadmap. This is the “Rain Man” album fans have always hoped. It doesn’t take a math genius to tell them to get one of these limited CDs edition before it reaches the vanishing point.


ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:

. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Deluxe Edition)

Alan Silvestri’s boldly thematic orchestral style was perfectly suited for Marvel, an old school patriot sound at first perfect for “Captain America” and then for the “Avengers” team effort. Now tasked with Marvel’s equivalent to Disney’s annihilation of Bambi’s mother on a cosmic scale, Silvestri unleashes all of his mighty orchestral forces in service of “Infinity War” to legendary effect. With his main characters quadrupled at the least, Silvestri smartly takes a utilitarian approach by giving everyone a noble force of personality, with only his original “Avengers” motif quoted at the most impactful moments. It’s a near-constant burst of energy that not only play the cosmic battles, but more importantly link all of the stories through emotion as opposed overtly indulging in themes for an impossible amount of heroes. Silvestri’s score works by turning everything into its own set piece, much in the way the movie is somehow able to give every superhero their own spotlight. But when it comes down to it, Silvestri’s “Infinity War” is most impressive when dealing with unimaginable emotion. Capturing Thanos with the wrath of a god, Silvestri not only connotes his low brass villainy, but the feeling of a bereaved dad who thinks he’s doing the universe a favor by evaporating half of it. Indeed, the numerous, seeming deaths on infinity gloved hand wouldn’t be so devastating if the music didn’t capture how personal they are to the film’s stunned audience, no more so than in Thanos’ own terrible sacrifice.

But for all of the complex operatic excitement, what’s easily the score’s most effective moment is its final one where the bombast is stripped away to a solo violin to play Thanos’ melancholy triumph. It’s an utterly brilliant, and spare conceit that shows the kind of imagination, and skill that shows how Silvestri’s kept on scoring blockbusters when so many of the talented composers of his time have seemingly vanished to nothingness – and will certainly keep on playing with Wagnerian panache to make Marvel fans realize that there’s nothing like an orchestra to resound with the stuff of comic book legends come to life (or gone from it until next year), especially given two hours of Silvestri’s “Infinity War” score as digitally offered on Disney’s deluxe edition.

. DEADPOOL 2 (Score Album)

As the musical captain of the wise-ass Guardians of the Galaxy (not to mention Netflix’s decidedly unsmiling Punisher), Tyler Bates certainly has a set of skills at playing heroism at both its bullshit and true face value. Now suited up in red and black for the Merc With A Mouth, Bates proves he’s no man’s sloppy seconds with “Deadpool 2.” Granted that it’s not easy to take on the retro music mantle of Junkie XL from the first film, Bates doesn’t even try to. Instead, he takes on the ultimate self-reflexive assassin in far more traditional way, but with a middle finger behind his back. Leaping into the fray with the X-Force, Bates has a great, charge ahead theme that certainly wouldn’t be out of place amongst his outer space antics. But like a lifter who’s OD’ing at 24 Hour Fitness, “Deadpool 2’s” action stylings are sweatily over-exuberant to the point of veins blowing out, right down the chanting chorus. But where most soundtrack lyrics are nonsense anyways, Bates gleefully earns the first ever-parental advisory on a score album by having his singers chant “Holy Shitballs!” over and over with increasingly hilarious frenzy. Likewise the score’s drummer seems ready to explode as he hammers out testosterone action to raging strings, with Thanos-worthy brass, all the better for Josh Brolin’s scowling Cable. Yet make no mistake that for as in your face as “Deadpool 2’s” soundtrack is, Bates delivering on exactly the kind of rhythmic testosterone you want from a superhero soundtrack, and surprisingly some genuine emotion at that. On his second score round, this slaphappy assassin is his own instrumental man for a soundtrack that’s no joke.

. DISOBEDIENCE

A spiritual break gives way to sexual awakening in the beautifully sensual scoring of Matthew Herbert, who reteams with his “Fantastic Woman” director Sebastian Lelio for another transgressive portrait of empowerment. Our heroine in “Disobedience” breaks the barriers of England’s walled-off Jewish Orthodox community, fully claiming the hand of a youthful attraction that caused her to leave a cult-like existence. “Disobedience” hears the cry of its opening Shofar as the awakening of forbidden love that the music will erotically embody. With its flowing harmonies, “Disobedience” works equally well as an example of modern classical music at its most thankfully harmonious, Herbert dresses strings lines over each other with gossamer delicateness in a way that’s also reminiscent of the hypnotic film works of ephemeral composer Michael Convertino (“Bed or Roses”) in a way that awakens with its womens’ growing self empowerment, also calling to the ear such diverse, ultra-melodic composers as Claude Debussy and Richard Wagner. Yearning brass gains strength with the orchestra to help a character orgasmically break her shackles, her emotion pouring forth with voice-like effects, ethereal electronics, rubbed glass and scraping metal to coalesce into a newfound conscience. In its musical way, “Disobedience” as a spellbinding breakthrough for Matthew Herbert, who shows a whole other language to express love for a feminine spirit whose attraction at first daren’t speak its name, and finally does with a sense of gorgeous, holy passion.


. DOWNRANGE

“Midnight Meat Train” director Ryuhei Kitamura turns a bunch of desert-stranded young adults into a sniper’s produce section in this Shudder Channel thriller, effectively also stalked by composer Aldo Shllaku. Having provided way more satiric action beats for Kitamura’s gonzo live action adaptation of the anime character “Lupin the 3rd,” Shllaku wipes the smile from this score’s face by suspensefully switches the clutch from dark percussion to ghostly ambience in a way that hearkens back to Mark Isham’s seminal tormented motorist classic “The Hitcher.” If anything, Shllaku’s approach is weirder and more savage, turning gun metal itself into thrashing, body piercing hits, while sampling evokes moments of uneasy poetry from the wasteland that hides a killer. Long stretches of “Downrange’s” road are filled with angry rock guitar and pounding militaristic grooves, with even a Theremin adding to the panic. Thankfully grounding the musical attacks and tense rhythms is a sense of emotion that conveys a group of friends whose bonds are bloodily blown apart, with a lonely, poignant piano among the soundtrack’s most effective moments. Unsettling from nightmarish start to finish, “Downrange” is a nerve-jangling score that definitely guarantees you’ll keep driving with a flat tire while not picking up stragglers should this be playing on your car stereo in the middle of nowhere.

. FLOWER

A barely legal Lolita uses her wiles to ensnare her awkward stepbro’s allegedly molesting teacher in the latest round of black-humored indie movie nymphets in “Flower.” It’s another neat score in the blossoming career of Joseph Stephens, who’s given interesting, eccentric scores to the distinctly misbehaving adults of Jody Hill’s bad boy crew ins “Observe and Report,” “Eastbound & Down” and “Vice Principals.” If you didn’t know “Flower” was snarkily set in the present, you might assume this was some lost score from Tangerine Dream’s 80’s teen synth heyday of “Vision Quest” and “Three O’Clock High,” so dead-on is Steven’s capturing of that electronic groove. “Flower” blooms with one neat electro-beat after the other, yet one that shows feeling at the heart of its anti-heroine’s ‘tude. With darker, sustaining tones that also bring to mind John Carpenter’s work from back in the keyboard day, “Flower” gets across the hatching of an improbable set-up to nab the perceived perv teacher, a tone that effortlessly segues from breeziness to haunting melancholy with the dramatic self-realization of its bad girl. Pulsing, offbeat, uniquely dramatic and unexpectedly thematic, “Flower” is a captivating, crystalline listen, especially for fans of the school of composers making retro scoring sing in new, haunting ways when in the company of self consciously hip characters getting themselves into a world of humorous trouble.

. GETTING GRACE

The prolific and quirkily attuned character actor Daniel Roebuck (“The River’s Edge,” “Lost”) not only proves himself equally adept at directing with the same offbeat vision for “Getting Grace,” but also as a quite adept music supervisor as well. Though it might seem to be another fatal illness flick, “Grace” benefits greatly from a humorous, eccentric approach that also makes its soundtrack radiant in rounding up some of Pennsylvania’s best indie acts for a common vibe of empowering, lyrical humanity. The strumming, sparkling folk-pop of Alyssa Garcia’s “Loved Actually” sums up the heroine’s whimsical self-empowerment, while her emotional “Better Life” is performed for all of its poignant, violin-topped worth, building slowly to a powerfully soaring finish that subtly getting across “Grace’s” faith-based nature. It’s a lyrical, rural quality that also inflects the Brett Harris’ sweetly strumming, accordion-topped “Wish” of being able to fly, his ballad “Up in the Air” sending Grace skyward. Country rock via Pennsylvania is provided by Switchback Mountain’s “Rabbit Hole” and “Ali K,” with their ballad “Kehoe” recalls the acoustic power of Eric Clapton. Heidi Ott sings a lovely, longing ballad with “Linger” to express Grace’s longing, a church-like organ providing an ironic backing. Even Mozart and a selection from his “Requiem” show up to have some fun with the stuffiness of dying. Composer Alex Kovacs, whose work includes such shows as “Designated Survivor,” “Minority Report” and “Scorpion” has a similar, sweet gentleness to his nicely melodic themes, his use of piano, organ and bell percussion bringing to mind the wacky one-man-band work of “Punch-Drunk Love’s” Jon Brion = and the satiric classicism of “Rushmore’s” Mark Mothersbaugh. Kovacs also shows a potent serious side in the film’s flashback setpiece, as his piano melody builds with the devastating youthful loss that leaves Roebuck’s funeral director a shell of a man. Managing to find an uplifting, smiling quality from songs to score in the midst of a decidedly serious situation, the thematic thread of this wonderfully eclectic, nicely tuned album is of finding the best in life at the end of it. That makes “Getting Grace” far more than a pleasant, rustically groovy indie listen as song and score touch the heart of a won’t-quit character in a way that’s anything but downbeat.

. MICKEY, DONALD, GOOFY – THE THREE MUSKETEERS

Alexandre Dumas might have been spinning like the Tasmanian devil in his grave at the thought of having Disney’s iconic mouse, dog and duck raising their swords together. But I imagine Erich Wolfgang Korngold, let alone the likes of Johann Strauss smiling upon hearing how Bruce Broughton teams the sound of Hollywood’s classic swashbuckling composer with any number of classical and operatic pastiches in the service of 1600’s France and Disney’s 2001 DTV movie. Having brought an anvil-crashing orchestral impact back to TV cartoon scoring with “Tiny Toons,” Broughton’s wonderfully lush score for “The Three Musketeers” has melodies waltzing with fluttering flutes aplenty, or springing forth from castle parapets with cliffhanging thrills. You’d actually think this was the real Errol Flynn thing if it wasn’t for the tip offs, like rousing trumpet fanfares leading to Carl Stalling-worthy pratfalls. But perhaps these “Musketeers” hearken back the most to the “Silly Symphony” cartoons that made Disney popular with the classical pastiches. Here is turning Bizet’s “Habanera” from “Carmen” into Goofy serenading a cow with “Chains of Love,” having evil Pete as the King of France stomping about to Edvard Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” or combining Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” and “Romeo and Juliet” into “Love So Lovely.” Even Beethoven shows up to send Mickey to his ever-lovin’ doom in “This is the End.” At its thematic best, “Three Musketeers” captures a sense of thrilling innocence that hearkens back to Broughton’s masterpiece “Young Sherlock Holmes,” of which this unsung gem now stands tall in comparison. Goofy these “Musketeers” might be, but most certainly not in the way that Broughton wonderfully bringing a grown-up classical appreciation and daring wit to score their antics with.


. MONKEY SHINES (1,000 Edition)

George Romero was one of horror’s more wackily eccentric directors. But in his annals of unholy transformations, the devilish Capuchin of 1988’s “Monkey Shines” just might take the cake – not to mention being one of the more unexpectedly sinister entries in the credits of its composer David Shire. Even in a career that’s ranged from the funk crime of “The Taking Pelham One Two Three” to the quiet conspiratorial tones of “The Conversation” and the heartwarming empowerment of “Norma Rae,” one might not expect a classic horror score for such a potentially absurdist plot. But credit Shire’s inherently humane approach for making “Monkey Shines” one of his unexpectedly great works. Devilishly starting with perhaps the best fake-out happy orchestral cues ever written, Shire uses African percussion and subtle, monkey grinder rhythm to increase the intelligence of an animal companion to our paraplegic hero, whose little buddy is soon going on a murderous rampage thanks to the psychic experiments of a scientist who really should know better. Shire’s score has witty humor that subtly realizes the zaniness of the concept, as well as string and guitar compassion for a man dealing with his own self-pity before he has to do physical battle with his helpmate gone terribly wrong. Along with Richard Band’s “House on Sorority Row,” Shire’s melody for “Monkey Shines” is also one of the most deceptively beautiful written for a horror film, a motif that the composer uses through the score, finally to symphonically sweeping effect – if of course not without the last second studio-mandated shock ending. Shire’s animal instinct for string-driven suspense is just as keen, joining his orchestral score with exotic Asian flutes, an Australian didgeridoo and primal brass and ethnic percussion, all of which sell an inescapably darling creature as the embodiment of man-created evil. But then, it’s likely impossible to imagine any score for simians great and small taking a different approach since Jerry Goldsmith’s “Planet of the Apes.” While that classic score no doubt had a twisted sense of irony. Shire’s scampering, stalking work for a monkey you expect to be holding a dime in its hand as opposed to a razor blade has the skill offers humor, drama and genuine scares. Now surfacing again in a newly expanded and remastered version via France’s Music Box label. “Monkey Shines” proves its especially worthy of rediscovery as a highlight of Shire’s composing career, that was anything if not versatile, and unexpected.

. OVERBOARD (Score Album)

The jaunty Alan Silvestri-scored comedy from 1987 gets reboated and role-reversed to pleasantly target a cross-cultural audience as a smug Mexican lothario getting tossed into the drink, this time to the delight of an Anglo woman he’s given no end of trouble to. It’s a pleasant ethnic spin that rhythm-centric composer Lyle Workman (“Superbad,” “Get Him to the Greek”) runs with in a delightful instance of musical cultural appropriation akin to his Spanish strumming work on the Netflix series “Love.” “Overboard” really opens up those stylistic waters to give its Latin Lover shmuck a much-needed makeover. Starting out with a jaunty Mexican feel, Workman continues to thematically build onto the soundtrack’s comic ethnicity with Zydeco, Django Reinhart-styled Gypsy violin and la-la-la’ing female voices for a sad sack feeling of a guy getting his character-building just deserts. But what’s really nice here is the genuine emotion that comes with the music’s development as tender strings turn to a full, gently suspenseful orchestra as the lead must decide from a return to an empty life of babes or the true love over the wall and down the socio economic ladder. While there’s no surprise to that choice, Workman’s “Overboard” offers genuinely unexpected choices that are about the comedy of character development as opposed to playing pratfalls. If there’s any composer to be recalled here with Workman’s sweetly deft use of ethnic music, then it goes all the way back to pleasant, jauntily romantic likes of Henry Mancini, as channeled by a musician who sweetly revels in it, much like an Anglo teaching her naughty amnesiac charge new musical tricks in what it really takes to charm a lady, a la Española.


. PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING

One of the most gigantic movie disappointments ever gets super-sized into an infinitely better sequel, especially given Lorne Balfe’s score that’s determined to make you hear the human hearts beating within titanic, monster slaying robots. But then, composer Lorne Balfe certainly has put pedal to the metal before with his percussion-crunching score for “Terminator Genisys,” making him ideal to take on this way sturdier Jaeger assignment. Mostly minus the numskull goofiness and with the big plus of mostly taking place in the daylight this time, it’s like Balfe’s been given spanking new machines to play with for his “Rim” shot. Given that these certainly aren’t the only rock ‘em sock ‘em robots in town, what’s even more impressive about Balfe’s approach is that he gives “Uprising” a strongly distinctive voice that combines serious symphonic nobility, a haunting electric cello and the power chord guitar attitude of stomping on cities and punching through Kaiju hide. With no small time spent in Hans Zimmer’s company, Balfe certainly knows his futuristic gear, and creates a throbbing electronic sound that’s wired to the score’s stirring orchestral components with biomechanical finesse. He’s also got his receptors firmly tapped into a youth multiplex sound with trip-hop rhythmic attacks against giant brass villainy. “Pacific Rim” manages the neat feat of working as both music and shear propulsion, with the beat positively jetting about with Balfe’s alternately pulsating and patriotically soaring thematic approach, as suited up into state-of-the-sonic boom action writing. It’s a dynamic burst of high-tech, old school sci-fi scoring that truly makes these the robots you’ve been waiting for.


. THE QUEST / THE TRUE STORY OF ESKIMO NELL

After such releases as “Race for the Yankee Zephyr” and “Thirst,” Dragon’s Domain Records continues on their Brian May kick with a double header that showcases the composer’s talent for kid’s adventure and cheeky adult fun. As the composer who essentially put film music from Down Under on the Hollywood map with the likes of “The Road Warrior,” May’s richly orchestral voice was perfect to accompany America’s “E.T.” star Henry Thomas as a kid discovering aboriginal myth and a potential monster in the submerged quarry that gave the movie its original title of “Frog Creek” (though wisely changed to “The Quest” for its stateside release). In service to filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith after the insanely objectionable “Turkey Shoot,” May’s score is a fine example of how to play up to a young audience. Given a bright theme to send the kid off on various creature and myth-hunting adventures that would freak out The Mystery Team, May brings a sense of charm and fun to the score along with genuine peril, with a distinctly throttling brass-lead sound (resoundingly performed by The Australian Symphony Orchestra) familiar to any fan of his Mad Max scores. Indeed, That “The Quest’s” suspenseful, snake rattling cues and its symphonically thrashing confrontation with the “monster” could fit into Max Rocketansky’s post-apocalyptic universe says much about how Miller takes the movie seriously, yet with a sense of magic and child-like sympathy well suited for the age range. May impressively burst on the scene with 1975’s “The True Story of Eskimo Nell,” a nudie cutie “western” based on the “womper” of a dirty Aussie ballad. Similarly debuting helmer Richard Franklin would climb several levels higher with May in more prestigiously thrilling entries like “Patrick,” “Road Games” and “Cloak and Dagger.” But that doesn’t mean that May’s debut is any less rip-roaring as it veers between the “Tale’s” goofier musical antics to the more musically straight-shooting adventures of Deadeye Dick and Mexico Pete in their pursuit of the outback wench. There’s a nice, lush quality to their ribald antics, whose galloping orchestra and harmonica blowing captures the distinctly American western spirit renowned by the likes of Elmer Bernstein. In a bit of ingenuity, he even uses the jaunty theme for the musical number “The Womper Song,” then trudges it along as a piano-topped tragic, trek. Thematically packed with swooning romance, dastardly brass villainy and even Arabic rhythm for a camel, “Eskimo Nell’s” delightfully sexy pastiche shows off May’s nakedly effusive spirit to come in more ways than one.


. RAMBO III

He may have been a liberal, but whether he’d like it or not, Jerry Goldmsith will certainly go down in American scoring history as the MAGA composer to rule them all with the white, blue, and bloody red of the flag-waving music he gave to Sylvester Stallone’s iconic avenger.

While John Rambo might have always been getting pulled back in, Goldsmith’s elegiac music for the character would evolve from the brooding sound of a wounded Vietnam vet exacting payback on police brutality to the brass-fueled, Asian-inflected excitement of single-handedly winning the Vietnam War in “First Blood Part II,” one of the most deliriously exciting scores of Goldsmith’s career. However, it could be argued that the character was on the wrong side of the fight with “Rambo III,” as he’d make Afghanistan safe for The Taliban while again wiping out most of Russian’s imperialist army in the process. Given just how many times all of the scores have been released, leave it to Intrada to have the final sonic word on Goldsmith’s mighty soundtrack trilogy with a gloriously remastered “Rambo III.” What’s particularly interesting given the score’s now-77 minute running time is just how truly diverse it is, its wealth of themes pointed out in producer Douglas Fake’s liner notes. Of course bringing back the noble trumpet theme of the first “Blood,” along with the body count hungry snake rattle of the second film, Goldsmith brings particular exoticism to this third outing. Beginning with stick fighting Oriental percussion, Goldsmith goes in country to Afghanistan with shimmering Arabic rhythm. Reflecting the grimness of the Russian occupation that the filmmakers were unaware would give birth to an even worse extremist state, Goldsmith conveys a grim, militaristic atmosphere, with string tenderness getting across sympathy for the civilians. His expansive orchestra and mighty brass also convey a pride for the tribal society that brings forth welcome memories of the composer’s majestic score for “The Wind and the Lion,” but with Rambo’s theme given the desert warrior treatment. You can even here just a touch of V’jer mystery as Rambo and the ever-faithful Colonel Trautman wipe out of a bunch of Russkies in a cave. Effortlessly blending electric percussion with a sweaty orchestra, Goldsmith’s most expansive “Rambo” score is the kind of full-charge testosterone music that the composer behind the officious likes of Patton and McArthur did so well. With “Rambo III,” he delivers rousing, ripping payback with maximum grunt force efficiency, but with a powerful sense of location and emotion for this somewhat unsung score in the trilogy, which now really gets to flex its thematically sweaty militaristic biceps.

. REVENGE

“Revenge” is a score best served cold, and retro by Robin Coudert, a French composer whose pulsating, electric breakout arrived with 2012’s most definitely not feminist friendly “Maniac.” This time the lethal keyboard rage is on the other shoe of a woman who definitely isn’t the fairer sex, trudging across the desert for to exact rapist blood in this subversively acclaimed thriller. Like a heroine whose cloths (though not certainly not spirit) are reduced to tatters, Rob swings between unplugged, savage intimacy to enveloping trance beats. “Revenge” is scariest when reducing those rhythms to his “Maniac” essentials. His music’s synth heartbeats, sizzling percussion, warped ethnic beats and beyond-dark tonal atmospheres could easily fit inside the dead repairman’s suit that The Shape in “Halloween” wore as he went to town in Haddonfield – if certainly groovier here. There’s a grim, determination to Rob’s old school state of the electronic art that captures a character’s single-minded desire to become executioner in lifeless surroundings. Rob not only makes her spirit animal John Carpenter, but also captures the seminally American 70’s – 80’ final girl sound, as well as the hallucinatory style of Euro horror prog rockers like Goblin and Fabio Frizzi. Fans who dig that vibe will definitely want to be check out the hardcopy release from France’s Music Box Records (the source of nearly all releases Rob) to wander through an transfixing grindhouse synth desert, waiting for for the big payback.

. THRILLER 2

Beyond doing an exceptional job of restoring and re-recording scores that showed Jerry Goldsmith well into his assured film scoring career with the likes of “The Blue Max” “Hour of the Gun” and “The Salamander,” producer James Fitzpatrick and The City of Prague Philharmonic have also played his powerful television epic “QB VII.” But perhaps even more interesting is how they bring a lush, fully symphonic score to Goldsmith’s smaller ensemble work for his Emmy-nominated work on “Thriller,” one of the golden age anthology shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “Playhouse 90” that the rising composer made his bones on. As opposed to Alfred Hitchcock presenting his macabre tales, horror icon Boris Karloff gave equal sinister aplomb to episodes of murder most foul during the 1960 – 62 run of “Thriller,” for which Goldsmith scored 17 shows. This follow up album continues dissecting his impressive run with six more blood-chilling entries. Listening to Goldsmith’s slow-burning invention that makes especially striking use of strings and brass, it’s easy to hear what Bernard Herrmann saw in this kid. Each selection on this CD has its distinguishing flourish. The Spanish guitar, castanets and Latin rhythms of “The Bride Who Died Twice” shows off Goldsmith’s western talents that could also be heard on “Rawhide” and “Have Gun, Will Travel.” You might even receive shades of “Planet of the Apes’” “The Hunt” in the shaker percussion trademarked ostinato piano and gonging bells that signal nothing good will come of the “Late Date.” “The Weird Tailor” develops with surprising violin and harp tenderness that you might imagine him knitting a “Patch of Blue” with, while the unsteadily building, death-tolling rhythm of “Masquerade” foreshadows any number of Goldsmith-scored monsters on the prowl before its suite dances maniacally about.. And in the most ferocious of the bunch (yet lyrically ending with a piano and violin sonata) “Terror in Teakwood,” you can imagine the shrill brass cry of a gremlin that would grin outside of John Lithgow’s plane window when Goldsmith got to revisit his TV alma matter with “Twilight Zone – The Movie.” Altogether going far more for brooding psychological hair-raising stuff with his uniquely trailblazing orchestrations, “Thriller” shows off Goldsmith as a master of suspense sowing his chilling oats, his atmospheric effectiveness made all the more impactful with a gloriously full, if still-intimate sound of the Prague Orchestra in a way that a limited TV ensemble of fourteen players wouldn’t have afforded back in the day. Given just how much music that Goldsmith composed for TV back then, I’d be looking forward to more musical resurrections from the boob tube that Tadlow now does so well, especially as perceptively chronicled by TV soundtrack expert Jon Burlingame.

. TULLY

Since his directorial debut with the Diablo Cody-scripted “Juno,” filmmaker Jason Reitman has shown interestingly quirky choices in both score and songs, particularly when attuned to feminine yearning. Now Reitman reunites with the screenwriter for the baby blues of “Tully” for a soundtrack that speaks to Generation X fading into the twilight of their dreams, even as it gives birth new life. There’s a wistful nostalgia to The Velvet Underground’s “Rise into the Sun” and Rufus Wainwright’s “Teargarten,” even as The Jayhawk’s “Blue” has an ironically upbeat energy. The gentle, folksy voice and guitar vibe of Beulahbelle gently sums up the sense of life passing by in the face of a new birth with the poetic “Let You Go.” But the undeniably brilliant song choice here is her whimsical rendition of “You Only Live Twice.” Written way back when by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse for a certain British secret agent, there’s no denying the somewhat melancholy nature of the theme song playing after a seeming death. With the lush orchestra of the familiar Tina Sinatra version stripped away to a guitar and keyboard, the tune becomes an smart ode to the ultimate reveal of “Tully,” while lyrically capturing the hopes and dreams of its free spirit have drifted away, even as a new love appears. It’s a song choice that’s not only brilliant in being a strikingly unstrung version of an 007 theme, but in showing the song’s lyrical reach into white suburbia. Reitman also has an exceptionally female friendly composer in indie scoring star Rob Simonsen (“Age of Adeline,” “Gifted”), who similarly downsizes for a lovely, rhythmically poignant approach that uses guitar and ethereal, off-kilter synths to capture a woman who’s life has become a dazed series of child care repetition – her former rock and roll attitude now mainstreamed into lyrical strumming, or drifting through bubbling melody. Yet it’s a vibe that’s perfect for the impossibly glowing spirit of a young helper who brings new spark to a woman submerged by a three-kid household. For a woman confronted with the draining reality of unassisted momhood, the songs and score of “Tully” combine for a dream-like enchantment that reveals that third time motherhood just might be her charm.


. YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

In his ear catching, off-kilter career spent mostly outside the norms of conventional scoring, Radiohead musician-turned-composer Jonny Greenwood has played no end of borderline psychotic characters, from a finally murderous oil magnate to a mindhead cult guru and a drug-addled P.I. But the child rescuing vigilante-for-hire of “You Were Never Really Here” must take some kind of psychotic cake. Fans who thought Greenwood was softening up just a little bit with his surprisingly melodic score for the tailor fetishist of “Phantom Thread” will be quickly thrown back down Greenwood’s distinctive rabbit hole as he conveys a drug-addled, violence-engulfed breakdown for Lynne Ramsay’s confrontational film that upends the sort of antics that are usually the realm of direct-to-video. Nearly every cue in “Here” is discombobulated in some way, whether it’s a strumming guitar being jolted by electroshocks or ethnic percussion going all over the place. Sampling city sounds, or speaking a title track of sorts, Greenwood’s score never lacks for mad invention. It’s anti-music that simultaneously repels and intrigues with the warped equivalent of rave beats, door-slamming percussion and anguished, neo-classical chamber music that recalls the seminal Avant-garde music of Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. Yet bookending the bizarreness is a quite lovely, drifting theme that captures a dream-like optimism, a melody that’s like a desperate cry for normalcy from a war-scarred character never able to attain it. For a composer who can inventively transmit insanity like few others in the stranger-than-strange scoring business, it’s a theme that keeps us from going crazy in Greenwood’s pit of nightmarish invention that he singularly occupies.


CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes and Screen Archives Entertainment

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Nima Fakhrara

Film Music Magazine News - Di, 15/05/2018 - 20:41

When the story choices of major videogames seem limited as such to modifying weapons, choosing spells and roaming territory to collect kills and prizes, the ever-evolving narratives of director David Cage was evolutionary for the genre. With character decisions leading to entirely different stories and fates in “Heavy Rain” and “Beyond: Two Souls,” Cage made it seem like fate itself was in the player’s hands as a choice in dialogue, or the decision to act violently or thoughtfully was the gateway to an any number of ever-branching realities.

In fact, the appeal of Cage’s games hearken to the dinosaur of print with the kid-centric series of “choose you own adventure” books, where a flip of the page could lead to a completely different path for a character – if one’s whose journey was limited by the number of pages. But beyond this novelty, Cage’s futuristic games also offered heady food for thought about the nature of humanity itself, a theme that now offers any number of possibilities within the storylines of three androids seeking their place in the world of “Detroit Become Human.” As part of its novel approach, Cage has hired three different composers to embody the synthetics that the player puppet masters, with Philip Shepard (“The Fear of 13”) the voice of the servant Kira and John Paesano (“The Maze Runner”) the synthetic Spartacus named Markus.

Launching our voyage into “Detroit” is Nima Fakhrara’s Connor, an ersatz Blade Runner tasked with unconvering his fellow androids’ increasingly violent malfunctions. Possessed with explosively rhythmic and eerily brooding voice as our choices allows, Fakhrara takes us through the clues and confrontation of a hostage situation for a soundtrack whose retro sampling will steadily recall the synth heyday of Vangelis and Hans Zimmer, all with Fakhrara’s own distinctive sampling that makes his “Detroit” work distinctively mesmerizing.

Hailing from Iran, Fakhrara has impressed with both his instrument-making skills and his talent for capturing uncanny subjects with “The Signal,” “The Pyramid” and “The Girl in the Photographs.” His game work also contained a haunting approach that would lead him to “Detroit” as Fakhrara dealt with his country’s regime change in “1979 Revolution: Black Friday,” then created the immersive musical experiences for the VR games of “Blindfold” and “Fire Escape.” Now the composer’s love of electronics rivets us into the headspace of an android discovering the importance of true flesh and blood for a city and score that pave a multiple-choice way to a brave new future of video game composing.

Tell us about your musical beginnings in Iran, and what led you to composing in Hollywood?

I was born in Iran and grew up learning Persian classical music and the instrument Santoor, with some of the masters in the field such as Maestro Saeed Sabeet, Faramarz Payvar, and Parviz Meshkatian. During my studies, due to the restrictive nature of the “Persian Classical Music” repertoire, I always believed there shouldn’t restrictions set on music you want to play or write. A musician should be able to explore the far boundaries as well as how to break these boundaries and explore the unfamiliar spaces. Therefore I always tried to create opportunities to and explore something fresh and new. After moving to the U.S., I wanted to be a performer of Persian Classical music and create a chance to introduce Persian Classical music and the Santoor to the western culture and incorporate it into the music and create something unconventional. Unfortunately, I realized performing Persian classical music doesn’t have many financial opportunities so I tried to discover a new field within the sector I love so much.

Nima and the Santoor

One of my other passions was movies and Hollywood action films. In Iran, due to the sanctions, my family would have Hollywood produced films delivered illegally by a gentleman called “the video guy” in VHS format. “The video guy” would provide the bootlegged movies door to door in a briefcase to households willing to take the risk involved in the transaction. When I moved to the U.S., I stumbled upon the film “Black Hawk Down,” where I noticed the use of Middle Eastern music complimenting Western sounds, particularly Hans Zimmer’s use of Persian Classical musicians such as Ali Tavallali playing Tombak within the score. After listening to this score, I realized there could be something within the world of film music where I could explore the possibilities I always imagined. That led me to work and learning from some of the most significant composers and musicians in the film music world.

How important was your time spent assisting composers like Christophe Beck (“The Seeker”), Mychael Dana (“Rendition”) and Hans Zimmer (“Sherlock Holmes”)?

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work as an intern and assistant for these fantastic composers. This experience allowed me to be in the same room with some incredible filmmakers and understand the ins and outs of the film music industry. I tried to sponge up everything I could from these great composers. Michael Levine, Christophe Beck and Hans Zimmer were absolutely integral mentors of mine and I hope to work with them again in the very near future.

You began showing a particular ability for horror and science fiction. Are you musically attracted to the genre?

Nima and his studio

Being an admirer of the composers mentioned above and following their paths on how to succeed in the field of film scoring I realized I had to be a chameleon and be well versed in different genres. The fantastic filmmakers that I have had the fortune to work with have allowed me to work within the horror and sci-fi genres. Nick Simon, an excellent director and a good friend of mine, gave me one of my first opportunities to score his film, a thriller called “Removal,” that allowing me to experiment with orchestral sounds in the film. Within the thriller / horror genre, I become part of the storytelling aspect because the music is usually at the forefront. It got me excited to see the different possibilities of sounds that can be incorporated in these genres. With that said, I like projects that can explore new sounds and techniques that break the boundaries of todays music.

But to answer your question a bit more precisely, I like project that I could have the opportunity to explore new colors including but not limited to experimental orchestral works, vintage, modern and modular synthesizers and create custom instruments.

Your first major studio score was for 2014’s “The Signal.” Do you think the “retro” electronic feel of that soundtrack, plus the idea of “meta human” characters would be a precursor to “Detroit Become Human?”

The music, especially the exploration of custom instruments became an essential factor of both projects. One of the first conversations I had with the creators of “Detroit” was exploring custom instruments and creating new colors. Connor is an android, and just like humans, build androids and program them to do what they want, I wanted the instruments constructed to give off the same effect for the score; as if the sound was made solely for the android.

Were you a gamer before you first started scoring them? And what was the biggest difference you found between that realm and live action?

I am a big gamer. As a young kid, I had every gaming console imaginable, especially the Commodore 64, which for me was hours and hours of fun. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to work on games and franchises that I have been a fan of the game, as well as the creator, before creating their music and being involved with them, such as “Resident Evil” and David Cage.

To acclimate yourself with director David Cage’s multi-choice styles, did you played “Heavy Rain” and “Beyond Two Souls?” And if so, what were your impressions of the games?

I have been a big fan of David Cage and his storytelling style within the video game world and have followed his work and played his games. I always thought David’s way of storytelling is very fresh and new, which always fascinated me. I was excited to have the opportunity to work with him.

How did you become involved with “Detroit Become Human?” And what do you think it was about your music that made you ideal to take on the role of Connor?

I received a call regarding the project from Mary Lockwood, who was the music supervisor of the project. She was inquiring about my interest for the game, and as a fan of the project and the company’s previous works, I said yes without hesitation. The worlds of exploring custom instruments, as well as the sound synthesizers, were essential factors discussed with David and Mary at very early stages of the score. I like to explore new worlds of music, colors, and sounds, which are very difficult to verbalize. Creating new colors for a new world, especially the world of an android, was vital for the project.

David Cage

While the other android characters of Kara and Markus as rebels as such, how did you want to get across the idea of Connor as being the authority figure in the group?

Connor is an android officer who is questioning the world and the unfamiliar emotions he is having throughout his entire journey. The idea of an android being able to have emotional feelings without programming and go beyond the scope of its build was the driving force for the score. The other androids are rebels, but Connor is a little different. Although he is always in pursuit of the mission at hand, he is also trying to figure out if what he is doing is right and I had to make sure I address this self-doubt through the music.

Sci-fi has long been fascinated by the idea of androids that perceive themselves as human. What do you think that “Detroit” adds to that mix, especially when it comes to the music? And was it a given that your score would be predominantly electronic?

In today’s world, androids, robots, and AI are more relevant than ever before. In the game, the androids are a norm within households, providing an avenue to ease the lives of any individual. We already have virtual assistants and such, but I can see technology growing to this extent in our current world within the next 10-20 years. With the music, I wanted to create something that feels real but also stay true to the world of “Detroit” with the artificial vibes. David and the creators encouraged me to explore the sounds of this “future” world without any limitations. Most scores that you hear these days consist of prominent orchestral sounds. For “Detroit,” not only did I choose to forgo an actual orchestra, but I tried to record each instrument in different ways to give it the robotic authenticity I was looking for. I utilized orchestral instruments but made sure they all have an electronic feeling and factors to them such as an electric violin and cello.

Were you given the chance to play any of “Detroit Become Human” before starting the project?

I received videos and original story ideas. I also had the 3000-page script that David wrote that consisted of the different outcomes that the story can take. One of the more critical factors of this project was to make it feel like a storied journey and focus less on the fact that it is a video game. Although people are playing each character, we wanted them to live in a world of “Detroit” and really become immersed in the game.

The game starts off with your score for a hostage situation involving Connor, which was the first footage shown from the game a year ago. How important was it to nail that sequence?

The hostage scene was the first scene I scored for the project. This scene is essential as it introduces all of Connors themes and motifs in an abridged excerpt. Without giving away too much of the story, by the end of the scene, Connor begins to question different philosophies which become essential throughout the rest of the score and story.

Could you talk about the evolution of the score as the game progressed? How long did it take for the whole project to be completed?

As Connor’s story develops so does the score. You hear more and more “emotions” within the music, with more organic instruments as the pendulum swings from the robot android to the emotional Connor. I did that by transitioning from a heavy electronic score to more of a noir natural feel – which I still created with electronic devices. I worked on “Detroit Become Human” for about a year, which provided me ample time to build and create many different instruments.

Was it dizzying thinking of all of the story “branches” that the score could go off into at any given second? How was that accomplished both melodically, and technically?

Connor’s journey evolves and changes as the player makes choices, so the music had to do the same. Since the musical approach from the beginning was to think about branches, and I how I would create them, it was all planned and the score written with that in mind. Collaboration with the sound team of Mary Lockwood and Aurelien Baguerre was critical. They allowed me to write music the way I wanted without thinking about restriction. Once I developed the music in full, we delved a bit deeper into how these branches will feel and sound.

How did you split your musical character of Connor the score’s other composers Philip Sheppard (Kara) and John Paesano (Markus), while going for a soundtrack that was cohesive?

It was an interesting creative choice to not allow access to the music of the other two composers so that we could each stay true to our characters. To our pleasant surprise, the score is very cohesive, and I have to acknowledge the vision of the creative team that had this plan and executed it flawlessly.

Could you talk about the gear, and sampling that went into the score, especially when engineering a cool “Blade Runner”-esque sound at points?

The primary instrument for Connor is a Vintage Moog Voyager. I created most of the melodic elements of the score with a vintage Juno 60 and an Ob6. The majority of the electronic rhythms I composed with a combination of the multiple Moog Mother 32’s and the custom Connor Guitar I built.

The Connor Guitar

The idea of the Connor guitar was by thinking of what a sub-harmonic guitar can sound and how I would be able to create that sound. I had a conversation with my welder, whom I have worked with before, and we mapped out a 20-foot guitar with a contact microphone attached to it. Another instrument that its sound is used for is the rhythmical elements, especially when Connor is investigating, are two instruments that a great company out of Portland called Resonant Garden and Masculine. These are electro-acoustic instruments with modular synthesizer abilities. I modified these instruments a bit as well to stay true to the world of Connor.

The Garden Resonator

What was the importance between varying your music between rhythmic action, and the more interior, emotional aspect of the score?

The importance of keeping the music accurate to the environment as well as the changes that occur as the character evolves was some of the most difficult and challenging parts of the process. The way I handled these changes was through creating thematic ideas and making sure these ideas can shift and evolve to whatever is necessary so the music stays fresh.

The Mescaline


Tell us about your use of strings in “Detroit?”

As I mentioned, I didn’t want to use the orchestra. However, I still wanted to achieve some emotional tone that can translate into an “artificial emotional.” The instruments that I used consisted of un-amped electric violins and cellis. The Electric string instruments, unless played with amplifiers, do not make noticeable noise. They create a faint sound that I manipulated to meet the emotional needs. I also used a solo acoustic violin, and a viola. These instruments were also modified. I customized and restrung the violin to have the range of a viola, and the viola restrung to have the range of a traditional bass.

How did you technically map out how the music so it could spin off into different variables with Connor’s story? Or were you going for more of a cohesive sound?

To achieve the cinematic feel as well a cohesive sound, the initial planning of why and how each one of the branches can change was part of the thematic approach. Since the preparation came early, the thematic writing became easier without thinking of what the musical branches would do.

How did you want to get across a sense of Connor’s discovery about his place in the world?

The discovery of new ideas and philosophy by a human is always exciting and surprising yet unexpected. As human’s, we are taught to discover and be curious. But for an android like Connor, this is a deviancy from the mission. So the discovery of new philosophies for Connor can be described as new beginnings and new ideas that are open-ended.

What was it like to finally bring together Connor and his music with the other main characters? And did you meld your music with the other composers when doing so?

To my surprise when I heard the music of John and Philip, I was happy that our sounds were somewhat similar, not compositionally but by way of musical production colors of the score. Once again, without giving too much away, there are sections of the game where the music from the different characters had to cross over. So by mixing the music of the Kara and Markus and adding elements to and from each other to make the scene change was necessary.

Given all of the variables, how long did your music actually end up being, along with the rest of the score?

I believe I wrote about 2 hours of music, give or take. But it is difficult to calculate as the branches had to be developed and fleshed out.

A theme of “Detroit” is of androids being “outsiders.” As an Iranian in America, can you personally relate to that? And do you hope to be given a project that would return you to your Middle Eastern roots?

I would love to work on a project that takes me back to my roots! There are times in certain circumstances where I can definitely relate to Connor and the feelings of being an outsider. There are many challenges carried by individuals who immigrate to America. As a Middle Eastern composer in the entertainment industry, there are certain scenarios you have to face daily where you have to prove yourself as an individual, on both a musical and personal level. At the same time, these experiences have allowed me to have a unique take on different projects and adjust the music accordingly to fit the situation, and for that I am grateful. This makes me different, my experiences, my culture and where I come from, this gives me my unique voice.

The most important task I have as a composer is to stay true to the story, environment, and authenticity of the project. Although I use different styles, I still like to incorporate the unique sounds of Middle Eastern instruments to convey fresh music that breaks the monotony of today’s scores.

I do hope that I get the chance to reflect on my roots and score something where I could showcase the true culture of the environment where I grew up. It is very important for me to give back to my heritage and create something that is reflective of my upbringing. The Middle Eastern culture is a beautiful one with fascinating stories, and I would love to be able to tell one of those with genuine authenticity for a complete experience.

What do you think that “Detroit Become Human” shows about the future of video games, and what comprises the idea of “playing” them?

The world of video games and VR has evolved into a storytelling platform, and that is very important to understand. The creators of video games and VR are creating things that they sometimes can’t convey in the traditional format. I believe we are in a world that the idea of platform bending is near and we have and will see that progress soon.

Given how quickly “Detroit” might be over if Connor were played in a gung-ho manner, would you recommend that people use the most introspective choices to hear the most of your score?

No actually! I recommend the player to play the game however they choose, and it is their choice and decision on how to go about their journey. But I do recommend to go back and play it again with the opposite set of rules to get the full effect of the game. Like I said, no two stories end up being the same, and as a result, the games goes beyond the traditional linear story mode to add a variety for people.


Get a download of Sony Interactive’s deluxe edition of “Detroit Become Human” HERE, and receive its multiple character scores as part of the game.

Listen to Nima’s original android “Signal” on Varese Sarabande HERE

Visit Nima Fakhrara’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with John Massari

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 02/05/2018 - 15:28

In the annals of absurdist 80’s kult films, there’s only one movie that combines a bonkers alien invasion with a universal fear of clowns. That distinction belongs to 1988’s “Killer Klowns from Outer Space,” wherein a carnival of comically grotesque creatures descend upon a small town – turning the wonderful stuff of Big Top themed-entertaining against us with a lethal arsenal that includes mutant cotton candy, shadow puppets and popcorn. The Klowns were given life from the wonderfully deranged minds of Chiodo Brothers Charles, Edward and Stephen (who’d take directing reigns as well), their talents truly bonded with the devilishly child-like glee they brought to makeup and stop motion animation in such projects as “Critters,” “Freaked” and “Robocop.”

Yet any circus would be half as effective as creating kid-scarring nightmares if not for its music. The same could also be said for any cult movie minus its loopy score. A big credit for “Klowns’” endurance goes to its NYC-born composer John Massari. Scored at the relative beginning of career that was already showing eclectic promise with the likes of “Hart to Hart,” “The Wizard of Speed and Time” and “Lust for Freedom,” Massari devised a virtual sideshow of styles for the Chiodos. On one white-gloved hand, there was the symphonic-styled bombast of a 50’s creature-on-the loose flick. The others would show off circus calliope music and rude punk rock energy – an attitude hilariously summed up by The Dickies title song. Like “Klowns,” Massari refused to let his imagination be constrained by any budgetary limit, helping the movie live on in the WTF annals of genre cinema.

In the 30 years since “Killer Klowns,” Massari has racked up over 100 credits that have touched upon every iconic personage from Sweeney Todd to Johnny Quest and a virtual Jesus Christ. But it’s arguably the Chiodos’ twisted characters that remain Massari’s most memorable subjects. Now with their anniversary, Massari’s imagination has ignited “Killer Klowns’” music into true orchestral invader status with a “Reimagined” album. Igniting the project through a quickly-funded social media drive, Massari has gathered numerous instrumentalists (including “The Walking Dead’s” Bear McCreary on accordion and flutist Sara Andon) into The Bridge Recording Studio to conjure an orchestral impact worthy of “It Came From Other Space,” mixing his symphony with such instruments s the organ and rock guitars to take his score into into a bigger, better musical dimension that’s lost none of his original lo-fi charm. With The Dickies returning to sing a souped-up title track, The result is all treat and no trick when it comes to a reconceptualization that will blow away longtime fans and likely gain new Klown cultists.

“Klowns’” three-ring celebration begins with Arrow’s special edition blu ray, continues on with a live score-to-picture performance in LA on May 19th,and concludes with a formidable special presentation on Varese Sarabande Records, whose releases includes such bonuses as Massari’s way-back-when demo and a new grrll power tune, it’s an all-in celebration of a carnival from interplanetary hell whose sinister appeal has kept on giving – particularly for a composer who ran away to join a hilariously sinister circus.

What sparked your imagination to turn you into a composer?

Mixing the reimagined Killer Klowns soundtrack

It all started at a triple feature of “The Time Machine,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Mysterious Island” when I was 6 years old. The music from those films struck me like a bolt of lightning and gave me such a transforming experience that I began to learn how to recreate that musical experience for both myself and others. I immediately started playing the piano, trying to capture and relive the sounds and sensations I witnessed.

Right before “Killer Klowns” you scored a quite wonderful feature version of “The Wizard of Speed and Time,” which grew from a short that was a favorite at comic conventions. Could you talk about the movie, and working with its wizard Mike Jittlov?

That is a wonderful question and I have very fond memories of the experience working on that film and directly with Mike Jittlov. What stands out in my mind the most is that I was asked to act in the film when I all I wanted to do was concentrate on the music score. Thanks to academy award winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter, I received expert coaching in how to face the camera, a memory I shall hold dearly and never forget. My daughters watched the movie several times and did not recognize me because of my Frank Zappa hairdo and mustache. One day I came home and while pointing at me exclaimed, “Dad! You’re the pizza guy!” I feel that this question in of itself can be an article. All I can tell you now at this time is that Mike is doing well. I spoke with him a few weeks ago and we are embarking on a small project together that I very much look forward to.

When you were approached with “Killer Klowns,” what was your first reaction?

I was struck by the brilliance and originality of not only the idea and concept of the movie, but the visual landscape that the Chiodo Brothers created. I just knew that fate would bring me to this movie somehow, and I expressed that in my first audition demo – which was thankfully well received by both the studio and the filmmakers.

Did it strike you how many styles could be part of the score?

Immediately! At the time I was listening to a great deal of Frank Zappa, Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work and The Beastie Boys. While at the same time being fascinated with the later symphonies of Shostakovich and Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite. I schemed a plan to somehow combine all these styles to create the perfect pastiche!

Given how wonderfully ridiculous the concept of “Klowns” was how important was it for the music to walk the tightrope between having fun with the material, while not hurting it with musical condescension?

John’s Wildcat Studio in 1987

Staying on that tightrope was of the utmost importance because if we fell off, we lost our audience. So the strategy was to play the comedy with serious music and strategic pauses in the music to allow visual and verbal gags to breathe.

Did you have a favorite Klown to score for?

Really? You are going to force me into a King Solomon style decision? Each and every Klown is my favorite. I hold each one dear as though they were one of my children. They each have charms of their own that I cherish.

John and the Chiodo Brothers at Monsterpalooza (L-R Stephen Chiodo, Charlie Chiodo, Shorty, Slim. Fatso, John Massari and Edward Chiodo)

Tell us about working with the Chiodo Brothers, and what you felt made them distinctive.

Working with the Chiodos made me feel like a 12 year old kid again. Their enthusiasm and artistic expertise is infectious. Each of the Chiodo Brothers has a distinctive expertise, so watching them work and discuss concepts together was quite illuminating. There would be times that they would all be talking at the same time, yet come to a conclusion together. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.

How did The Dickies come into the picture for the infamous theme song?

John and The Dickies at the Viper Room

Prior to the films first day of shooting, music Director Bob Hunka brought The Dickies on board and communicated the basic concept of the movie at which point Leonard Grave Phillips wrote this perfect badass song that completely defines the film.

How was the original score for “Klowns” produced, especially when it came to how orchestras were sampled back in the 80’s day?

Back in the 80’s samplers that produced realistic believable acoustic instrument sounds of were very rare. The reliability was not 100% – as it would be today. You could never achieve the true orchestral sound as you can today. Bearing that in mind, we made a consciousness decision to not use a live orchestra and instead use synthesizers and samplers of the day in a unique stylized fashion to create an orchestra-like sound without sounding like an orchestra. The Chiodo brothers were very precise in their direction, especially Charlie, who specified that he wanted an elegant orchestral sound and classically-motivated music coming out of unfamiliar-sounding instruments.

What gave you the idea of doing an orchestral version of “Killer Klowns?”

Bill Begley

Five years ago I met fans for the first time that were totally in love with the movie and its score. One person in particular, Bill Begley (who sadly is no longer with us) remarked on how the classical influence attracted him to my score and he said how wonderful it would be to hear it performed by a live orchestra. Therefore the seed was planted and began to grow.

This “Klowns” was made possible by crowd funding. Did you look at similar campaigns from other composer’s “concept” album “fund me’s” in putting yours together?

Oddly enough what fascinated and inspired me were campaigns that had nothing to do with orchestral film music. One was James Lopez’s ‘Hullabaloo” a 2D animated steampunk Film by distinguished Disney veteran 2D animators. And secondly, actor and producer, Wilson Cruz’s “Out of the Box” LGBT documentary Series.

How did you want to expand the score for this version?

Komposing the original Killer Klowns

My original plan was to stay true to the score as it originally stood but performed by an orchestra. The only tow pieces of music that were expanded upon was the classic Killer Klown March – it appears several times thru the film as a motif, which no version lasting longer than a minute. It was a great experience to expand it to a full six-minute piece of music where I could develop the music to my heart’s content. I added variations and ended with a slow epic metal ballad played by guitarist Jonathan Padilla. Alex May on drums, Margaret Maria on electric cello and myself playing keyboard and bass. The second was Muscle Car Klown performed by myself, Jonathan Padilla and composer Bear McCreay, all produced with my new Cinematic Steampunk sound.

A lot of the charm of the 80’s synth, or small orchestral scores is their stripped down nature. What was the challenge of symphonically expanding your original without losing that low-fi magic? And what new instruments could you add into the mix?

Sara Andon on Flute with the Klowns Wind Section

In order to meet that challenge I had to approached the recording session as though it was 1958 recording session – with a full woodwind and brass section, percussion, harp and keyboard and a small string section. Everything from the placement of the musicians in the studio and microphone techniques were precisely set as in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s television scores. When you add to that mix some of the greatest musicians in the world, it resulted in a very gratifying production. My aim was to create an atmosphere of fun, affording the musicians a bit of leeway to ham-it-up. Overall we had a very fun and rewarding recording session. Each performance was accomplished on either Take 1 or Take 2.

What were the recording sessions like? And what do you think the musicians made of the score?

When I woke up the morning of The Bridge Recording Studio session, I blasted out of bed and could not get to the studio fast enough. Granted I stopped at Porto’s because an orchestra moves on its stomach and is motivated by good food (also Noah’s Bagels delivered). Many of the musicians grew up watching this film as kids. They were very familiar with it and their focus and enthusiasm was infectious.

John Konducts the Klown Orchestra at The Bridge Recording Studio

I particularly loved the big organ sound for this album. It’s an instrument you never seem to hear enough of on any score. Do you think there’s an automatically scary connotation to it, especially when it comes to clowns?

That is a very good observation. I imagine the big cathedral organ to be a giant circus calliope, which matches our Klown world perfectly.

What do you think of the true big top nature that the orchestra gives to the score’s “Klown” component?

When the composition changes textures and moves on the turn of a dime, the orchestra helps create a wild ride.

John and the Walking Dead accordianist Bear McCreary

How did the score’s punk rock attitude grow for this album?

These past few years I have been working on a project called Cinematic Steampunk, which is distributed by A-List Trailer Music. This sound grows from the many influences that I have experienced during my musical life. It is my own odd combination of raw energy and classical music that I most admired from composers such as Frank Zappa..

Tell us about the album’s bonus tracks.

Marcus LaCroix

I could not resist including the my original audition demo. The contrast to the re imagined score is quite drastic. This demo captures my raw initial impressions which struck me like a bolt of lighting. It was composed in one day and recorded the next. The choice of this scene to score was crucial. In this scene we get to know our main characters, we seen the inside of the Klown ship as Klowns chase our heros prior to the invasion of Cresent Cove. “Escape into Klown Kathedral” gets an old fashion theatre organ treatment inspired by loyal fan fan and classical Organ connoisseur, Marcus LaCroix. It is fun to image that Kliller Klowns may have been a classic horror film in the early days of Hollywood’s silent era. This interpretation lends well to that reminiscence. Re orchestrating and performing the orchestra version for theater organ was quite a thrill. “Tell Me What is Real” was a collaboration between my very good friends Larry Goetz and Robin Levy Goetz. The lyrics are inspired by a story my Grandmother told me when she came to America as a little girl. Larry was the lead vocalist and Robin sang back up and atmosphere voices. The musical themes stem from the iconic Killer Klown march. It was important for me to personalize the music for Klowns in some way. The “Killer Klowns” score was the last score of mine that my Grandmother heard before she passed away.

The full scope of the Killer Klowns orchestra

What did the Chiodos think of your musical re-imagining?

They were completely caught by surprise as they sat inside Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers, unaware of what was about to happen. When they heard the first blast of orchestration, they looked like three little boys at Christmas time.

Tell us about the live event for the score that’s been put together for Los Angeles?

I am excited about the circus atmosphere where people can dress up in costume, have fun, be entertained and have a sense of a homecoming. The concert is taking place on the very day the movie premiered 30 years ago. At the moment, I am drowning in preparation. But seriously, all hands are on deck, armed to the teeth to make this concert a success. I am certain of one fact, when I walk onto the stage. I will pull out my baton and give a spectacular performance. My fellow brother and sister composers have been supportive and are excited for me. We all envision events such as this becoming a tradition, such as Burning Man and Coachella.

What do you think this album shows about how 80’s cult scores can be re-imagined in a more “traditional” was as such? And what other ones can you hear getting this kind of treatment – even if they might be from movies you scored?

Fans of any particular cult film could anticipate reinterpretations of their favorite music performed live. It would be fun to hear John Carpenter’s scores orchestrated and performed by an orchestra and play in concert, as well as all the classic horror films of the 1980’s like “Nightmare on Elm Street,” etc…

There’s a “Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 3D” now listed on the IMDB. Do you think this might actually happen, and how do you think they’d freak out a new generation that’s all about Cirque De Soleil as opposed to The Ringing Brothers when it comes to real life big tops?

All I can say is that this moment is that I’m held to a non-disclosure agreement!

Get tickets for the live score and Q & A “Killer Klowns” 30th anniversary event at Los Angeles’ Montalban Theater on Saturday May 19th HERE

Pre-order John Massari’s re-imagined “Killer Klowns,” available May 25th on Varese Sarabande HERE

Purchase Arrow Video’s new special edition of “Killer Klowns” on blu ray HERE

Visit John Massari’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: April 27

Soundtrack News - Za, 28/04/2018 - 02:00
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.2507]Joseph Trapanese[] ([m.47761]Robin Hood[]), [c.658]Clint Mansell[] ([m.52380]Out of Blue[]) and [c.630]Christopher Lennertz[] ([m.50380]Uncle Drew[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[]. Over 35 soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2018-04-24]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this week is (with music by): [m.41685]Avengers: Infinity War[] ([c.201]Alan Silvestri[]). We are tracking song credits for the following new theatrical releases: -[m.41685]Avengers: Infinity War[] (2 songs) -[m.50991]Adventures in Public School[] (22 songs) -[m.48243]Backstabbing for Beginners[]...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Varese Sarabande to Release 'Lean on Pete' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Do, 26/04/2018 - 02:00
Varèse Sarabande Records will digitally release [a.23061]Lean On Pete – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[] on April 27th. The soundtrack will feature the film's original score by award-winning composer [c.1776]James Edward Barker[]. [m.48837]Lean On Pete[] received critical praise when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year, receiving a Golden Lion award nomination for 'Best Film' and where Charlie Plummer received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor. The film (starring Plummer, Chloe Sevigny, Travis Fimmel and Steve Buscemi), was released theatrically in the U.S. by A24 on April 6th. "Much of what audiences will hear in the music is an isolated and exposed rawness, because what I felt they should be...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Academy Introduces Shortlists in Music Categories for 2019 Oscars

Soundtrack News - Wo, 25/04/2018 - 02:00
The Academy's Board of Governors has approved Oscars rules and campaign regulations for the [m.52355]91st Academy Awards[]. Among the new rules is the introduction of shortlists in the music categories. Opposed to previous years, there will now be two rounds of voting to produce the nominees, rather than a single round of nomination voting by members of the Music Branch. In the first round, all members of the branch will view films eligible for Original Score and film clips of eligible Original Songs and vote in a preliminary round to produce a shortlist of 15 titles in each category using the preferential voting system. Five nominees for Original Score and five nominees for Original Song will then be chosen by branch members in a second round of balloting also using preferential...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Hans Zimmer to Be Honored with Max Steiner Award

Soundtrack News - Ma, 23/04/2018 - 02:00
Hollywood in Vienna CEO and Founder Sandra Tomek is proud to announce that Academy Award, Tony Award, 2-time Golden Globe and 3-time Grammy Winner [c.237]Hans Zimmer[] will be honored with the 2018 Max Steiner Award in Vienna during the Annual Hollywood in Vienna Concert Gala. "[c.237]Hans Zimme[]r had a close connection to Vienna for some time now", says Tomek. "With his company, he has been recording projects such as [m.44918]The Crown[], [m.48996]Blue Planet II[] and [m.38408]Inferno[] at the fantastic Synchron Stage Vienna. For a city, so rich in music history as Vienna, it is only fitting to give this award, named after the great [c.208]Max Steiner[] to the exceptional and multi-talented composer Zimmer". The gala...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: April 20

Soundtrack News - Za, 21/04/2018 - 02:00
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1465]Lorne Balfe[] ([m.47707]Mission: Impossible - Fallout[]), [c.648]Tyler Bates[] ([m.49265]The Spy Who Dumped Me[]) and [c.1407]Javier Navarrete[] ([m.52327]The Widow[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[]. Over 45 soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2018-04-17]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.50060]I Feel Pretty[] ([c.809]Michael Andrews[]), [m.49628]Super Troopers 2[] ([c.22087]Eagles of Death Metal[]) and [m.50379]Traffik[] ([c.1271]Geoff Zanelli[]). We are tracking song credits for the following new theatrical releases: -[m.50060]I...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Soundtrack to 'Riverdale' Special Episode 'Carrie The Musical' Released

Soundtrack News - Vr, 20/04/2018 - 02:00
WaterTower Music has announced today's release of the unique full soundtrack to "Carrie The Musical," a [m.46941]Riverdale[] episode featuring all new cast performances, which aired on April 18 (8:00–9:00 p.m. ET/PT) on The CW. Fans who have fallen in love with songs from previous episodes of the show, such as "Mad World," "Milkshake," "Candy Girl," "Kids in America," and "Bittersweet Symphony" will delight in having a full album of new [m.14694]Riverdale[] recordings to add to their playlists and music collections. In addition to today's digital release of the album, a special, limited edition "blood red" vinyl version of the album will be available exclusively at Urban Outfitters on July 13. Based on Lawrence D. Cohen's...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: 'Rampage' Soundtrack Released

Soundtrack News - Za, 14/04/2018 - 02:00
WaterTower Music announced today the release of the soundtrack to the action adventure film [m.47758]Rampage[], which features an original score by Canadian composer [c.1265]Andrew Lockington[] ([m.39665]San Andreas[], [m.13225]Journey to the Center of The Earth[], [m.30214]City of Ember[]), as well as Grammy Award winning multi-platinum trailblazer Kid Cudi's end title song "The Rage," which includes a sample of the Smashing Pumpkins classic "Bullet With Butterfly Wings." Rampage will be released digitally and on CD on April 13 - the same date Rampage is in theaters. Lockington's wide-ranging approach to scoring the film included spending time in Gorilla enclosures to study their vocalizations and rhythmic patterns, recording a...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Lakeshore Records Announces 'Paterno' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Vr, 13/04/2018 - 02:00
Lakeshore Records will release [a.22969]Paterno - Original HBO Films Soundtrack[] digitally on April 27, 2018. The album features original music by composers [c.3669]Evgueni Galperine[] and [c.3670]Sacha Galperine[] ([m.49414]Loveless[], [m.46198]The Wizard of Lies[]). [m.50981]Paterno[] centers on Penn State's Joe Paterno in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. After becoming the winningest coach in college football history, Paterno's legacy is challenged and he is forced to face questions of institutional failure in regard to the victims. Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Al Pacino stars in the film's title role. Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, who also composed the music for [m.46198]The Wizard of Lies[],...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Audio: Interview with Andrew Lockington and Brad Peyton

Film Music Magazine News - Vr, 13/04/2018 - 00:36

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

When it comes to rock ‘em sock ‘em collaborations, two increasingly fierce talents in the Hollywood effects Thunderdome are Canadian-born composer Andrew Lockington and filmmaker Brad Peyton. A protégé of musician Mychael Danna on such scores as “8MM” and “Felicia’s Journey,” Lockington’s own star rose from such lyrical indie scores as “Saint Ralph” and “Frankie & Alice” to take on a far bigger sound with the likes of “City of Ember” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Starting out with the Claymation series “What it’s Like Being Alone,” Peyton’s talent for family entertainment saw him direct “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.” Far bigger things were ahead for both artists when they first teamed with 2012’s “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” which entertainingly modernized the Jules Verne classic as a vehicle for The Rock to ride giant bees on to the tune of Lockington’s symphonically adventurous score. Taking a more twisted turn with the unique exorcism thriller “Incarnate” and its chilling score, the duo next upped their visual, and musical scale as The Rock survived everything the earth could throw at him in “San Andreas.”

     

Yet even The Big One has nothing on the Rock-plus triumvirate of massive beasts that Peyton and Lockington now unleash with “Rampage.” Easily the most ambitious adaptation of a classic arcade game, this Chicago city-buster gives impressive CGI life to a once eight bit white ape, flying wolf and lethally spiked crocodile. But no matter its scope, “Rampage” would be all sound and fury if not for the fun and emotional heart that Peyton and Lockington bring to the movie. As Peyton makes us root for the albino ape to get his sanity back, Lockington delivers a chest beating score full of symphonic weight. With an accent of Africa, the epically thrilling score truly gets its chance to roar with furious brass and angered themes that also convey a heroic race against time. It’s a “Rampage” that delivers the popcorn goods, as done by two artists who aren’t afraid to let their rousing talents go to town.

Now on new episode of “On the Score,” Andrew Lockington and Brad Peyton reveal an ever-building scale to a partnership that reaches heights with “Rampage.”

Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to Download

Andrew (L) & Brad (R)

Buy the Soundtrack: RAMPAGE Buy the Soundtrack: SAN ANDREAS Buy the Soundtrack: JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND Buy the Soundtrack: INCARNATE Visit Andrew Lockington’s Website

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Decca Classics to Release 'On Chesil Beach' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Do, 12/04/2018 - 02:00
Decca Classics is releasing the soundtrack to the highly-anticipated new film adaptation of Ian McEwan's book, [m.48762]On Chesil Beach[], featuring music from British composer [c.721]Dan Jones[] and a stand-out performance from violinist Esther Yoo. The album is released on the May 18 to coincide with the film opening in cinemas the same day. Jones' brand new score is performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and young American-Korean violinist Esther Yoo, who has a prominent solo part throughout. Alongside Jones' score are familiar classical pieces by composers including Rachmaninov, Schubert, Elgar and Mozart. Dan Jones says, "It's been a great journey working with one of my favourite directors Dominic Cooke, and long...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Varese Sarabande Announces 'Timeless' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Di, 10/04/2018 - 02:00
Varèse Sarabande will release the [a.22805]Timeless – Original Television Soundtrack[] digitally on April 13, and on CD May 4, 2018. The album features original music composed by [c.927]Robert Duncan[] ([m.50248]S.W.A.T.[], [m.33197]Castle[]). Lead actress Abigail Spencer's rendition of "You Made Me Love You" is a special album-only bonus track. "[m.46833]Timeless[] is a composer's dream gig," said Duncan. "One week it's exploring dark and chilling timbres for the Salem witch trials, next it's finding the right melody to express the thrill of humankind's first steps on the moon. What could be better?" From Eric Kripke, Shawn Ryan, John Fox and John Davis comes this thrilling action-adventure series. In season 1, a mysterious...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: April 6

Soundtrack News - Za, 07/04/2018 - 02:00
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.151]James Newton Howard[] ([m.44890]Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3[]), [c.13730]West Dylan Thordson[] ([m.49262]Glass[]) and [c.257]Mychael Danna[] ([m.52226]The Red Sea Diving Resort[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[]. Over 35 soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2018-04-03]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.48289]Blockers[] ([c.1575]Mateo Messina[]), [m.47505]Chappaquiddick[] ([c.6903]Garth Stevenson[]), [m.49461]The Miracle Season[] ([c.1287]Roque Banos[]) and [m.48963]A Quiet Place[] ([c.14]Marco Beltrami[]). We are tracking...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Lakeshore Records to Release 'Lost in Space' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Za, 07/04/2018 - 02:00
Lakeshore Records will release [a.22925]Lost in Space - Netflix Original Series Soundtrack[] digitally April 13, 2018 with a CD release forthcoming. The album features original music by composer [c.630]Christopher Lennertz[]. Produced by Legendary Television, [m.51201]Lost in Space[] is a Netflix Original dramatic and modern reimagining of the classic 1960's science fiction series. Set 30 years in the future, colonization in space is now a reality, and the Robinson family is among those tested and selected to make a new life for themselves in a better world. But when the new colonists find themselves abruptly torn off course en route to their new home they must forge new alliances and work together to survive in a dangerous alien...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Varese Sarabande to Release 'Ghost Stories' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Vr, 06/04/2018 - 02:00
Varèse Sarabande will release the [a.22567]Ghost Stories – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[] digitally and on CD April 13, 2018. The album features original score composed by [c.2438]Frank Ilfman[] ([m.38527]Big Bad Wolves[]). Experience three spine-tingling tales of terror to haunt your dreams. A debunker of all things paranormal, Professor Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman) has devoted his life to exposing phony psychics and fraudulent supernatural shenanigans on his own television show. His skepticism is put to the test, however, when he receives a file of three chilling, inexplicable cases: a night watchman (Paul Whitehouse) haunted by disturbing visions as he patrols an abandoned asylum; an edgy young man (Black Mirror's Alex...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Marco Beltrami

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 04/04/2018 - 23:55

In a long scoring career that began by musically shrieking for a Kafka-masked killer as his intended victims did their damndest to stay silent, Marco Beltrami has spent quite a bit of time making memorable musical noise in the service of terror. Whether the maniacs he played were vampires, werewolves, goblins or cyborgs, Beltrami’s full-throated style has known how to stalk and rip asunder with no shortness of invention. But perhaps the need to have his often raging soundtracks shut it up for humanity’s sake has never been put to quite as cleverly a sinister twist as “A Quiet Place,” where the composer himself would last about a millisecond if he practiced his craft in the movie’s post-apocalyptic world.

Thankfully, the family of this acclaimed horror film knows better, having seen the rest of humanity shredded by near-invincible creatures from God knows where that attack at the slightest sound. As played by real-life wife and husband Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who also serves as star, co-writer and co-producer), Evelyn and Lee Abbott lead an extremely tenuous life with their two kids, where every activity is centered around being as quite as a church mouse. But fraying tensions, and the fact that Evelyn has a baby on the way make it a certainty that air waves are going to be rent asunder to horrifying results for all of the sonic home proofing that Lee has put into place.

For a composer, whom along with Buck Sanders, had to hold his breath to Oscar-nominated effect in “The Hurt Locker,” Beltrami shows his effectiveness in tension that you could cut with a razor blade. Pounding heartbeat suspense fills the soundtrack’s unbearable builds, made all the more unbearable with the jump the audience knows is coming. Relentless, stomping terror attacks with waves of grinding electronics, howlingly mutated samples and ferocious brass, the kind of rhythmic rampaging that Beltrami does like no horror-friendly composer’s business. Yet for all of its monstrously powerful orchestrations, what makes “A Quiet Place” especially powerful is a solo piano that conveys what very well might be the last people on earth, unexpectedly lush strings the lyricism of children facing a very bleak future.

Imagine the guttural savagery and poignant solitude of Beltrami’s “Logan” score as taken to new, primal lengths, and you’ll get an idea of his effectiveness at conjuring a world gone mad not only because of constantly prowling beasts, but by the impossible, muted restraint they’ve caused. Powerfully balancing melancholy melody with nerve-splitting dissonant effects, Beltrami’s “Quiet Place” goes from a whisper to a scream with terrific inventiveness, as only a composer seasoned by decades of hiding from, and facing off against evil knows how to – especially as given his most thematically novel twist yet.

You’ve had a rewarding collaboration with actors-turned-writer/directors like Tommy Lee Jones. Would you say it’s more interesting to deal with multi-hyphenates, especially when the stakes are extra-personal to them?

Actor-hyphenates that have a vested interest in the project are extra enthusiastic about their work and about the process. They’re more receptive to originality, and not constrained as much by a lot of the people around them that could surround a normal project. So you have the possibility for coming up with unique, creative musical approaches.

How did you become involved with “A Quiet Place?”

My agent Laura Engel got a call from Randy Spendlove, the president of music at Paramount who mentioned that there was this project shooting in New York. He wanted to know if I’d be able to read the script, and if I liked it, then maybe meet with John where they were shooting. I read the script and was blown away, because I had never read anything like this that really had very little dialogue in it. As soon as I went to the set and saw what they were doing, I thought that had a lot of interesting possibilities musically and that it could be a lot of fun. Coincidentally, I was going to be in New York anyway!

Noise has always attracted monsters on the prowl, but “A Quiet Place” raises that premise up several notches. Given the idea of sound equaling instant death, was there ever the question of wondering why there should be music in the film in the first place –as it would be a “third wall” alert to the killer creatures?

Well, this is always the question in a movie. In Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat,” they’re in the sea. Hitchcock says to Hugo Friedhofer, “Why would there be music? Where’s the orchestra? They’re out in the lifeboat.” Friedhofer’s reply was, “That’s a good question, so where are the cameras?” I think the same thing applies here. It’s a movie. You’re not supposed to necessarily be aware of the music, but it manipulates the audience just like the lighting, or the cinematography, or the acting. It obviously has to be used carefully, and there’s definitely attention to silence and how silence is used. It also has a place for the emotional undercurrent of the movie and the arc of the characters developing that.

Tell us about your collaboration with John Krasinski. And how would you describe his taste in music?

I very much enjoyed working with John, because he, approaches music not from a traditional point of cinematic view, but more from what inspires him on an emotional level. After meeting with him and coming back to LA, he sent me a couple of pieces of music that he liked. One of them was the cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” That is what started me thinking in terms of the family theme for “A Quiet Place.”

You’ve done some very effective scores set in the apocalypse. Do you think there’s a mournful loneliness that comes with the territory, especially in “A Quiet Place?”

Well, there’s definitely a mournful loneliness to “A Quiet Place.” I don’t want to give away the movie, but the family has a strong sense of loss that pervades everything that they do. It’s sort of like a non-spoken heartbreak between everybody. So there’s definitely a sense of mournfulness to the score because of that.

Before the finished shots of the monsters came in, what kind of picture did you create in your imagination?

They had diagrams that gave me an idea of what the monsters were going to look like, though I wasn’t aware of their final concept until quite late. They had an important impact for the direction of the music. Actually, some cues that were based on the monster’s initial pictures had to be reworked to capture their final realization from a sound point of view.

How did the film’s rural setting play a part in your score? And would you say that it connected it to your scores in the disturbed western genre like “The Homesman?”

The rural setting is important to the story of the movie, because it’s sort of going back to basics, in many respects, of a time when a family had to provide for themselves with shelter, food, water, and comfort. In that respect, the score has a very traditional aspect to it. I wasn’t actively trying to emulate my “Homesman” score, though there’s a scene with them all having dinner together that may have a little bit of that Americana feel to it.

You’ve often used interesting techniques to capture musical sound design. How did you collect samples for “A Quiet Place?”

In a few ways. I had a session early on where string players came to my studio, and we recorded them just doing gestured type things that we could later manipulate electronically, and have an acoustical source for. I wanted all the electronic elements to be derived from an acoustical source. All the stuff that you hear in the monster suite is derived from acoustical sources. Then I took a piano and detuned all the black notes by a quarter-step and used that for the theme, so, something’s slightly off about its sound. We just had to be careful and use it sparingly, because a little bit of that goes a long way.

In that respect, would you say you’re one of the more “environmental” composers out there?

I’m very aware of the sound world that we’re working in and how the music and sound are going to work together. So in that sense, I’m definitely aware of the environment that we’re working in. I also find it fun to discover sources that are relevant to a film’s score, but that are slightly unique.

Given that people have to express emotion internally under pain of death, did that place even more importance on the score? And how do you think it reflects the family dynamic of people buckling under the father’s authority?

I think the fact that the actors are able to convey all of the emotional things that they do without dialogue is a testament to their acting ability. The music is supportive in some of these areas, especially when there is a subtext or something that needs to be reinforced or commented on. There are also plenty of emotional scenes in the movie that have no score.


Tell us about the use of percussion in “A Quiet Place.”

There’s a drum that we took and manipulated electronically that became the source of the rhythmic pulse. There’s a little bit of other percussion in some of the more active scenes later on in the movie especially, but I wouldn’t say this is a percussion-heavy score.

With many horror scores just turning to plain old dissonance, how important has it been to keep a sense of melody for your genre efforts?

Well, the emotional parts of the score are definitely melodic, and there’s a melodic theme. For the alien component of this movie, it’s more motivic than it is melodic.

How did you want to spot, and orchestrate the score in terms of figuring out the right moments for the music would be at its most sparse, or employ fuller strings?

The spotting of the music changed as the film was edited, as it was in a constant state of evolution and flux. Scenes that originally may have had music may not have had music later, and vice versa. Scenes that originally might have been silent would end up with music. One of the things that I find interesting working about working with actor/directors is that there’s a constant search for perfection and originality, especially with John. He was never content to rest on “this is good enough.” He wanted to strive for perfection as best he could in all aspects of the moviemaking process. It’s demanding but rewarding at the same time.

You scored “Mathilde,” a romance about Czar Nicholas that caused quite a stir in Russia. Could you talk about the challenges of working on an envelope-pushing Soviet production, and your work for it?

That was an amazing, unique experience working and recording in Russia with probably one of the most famous conductors in the world on a post-production schedule that took about a year. Since our director Aleksey Uchitel didn’t speak English, we communicated through music and through picture. It was one of the best, most unique scoring experience that I’ve had.

Having made your bones with horror films, how do you think movies like “A Quiet Place” push the genre, and the role and sound of music in it? And in that way, do you think you’ve become more of an experimental composer in that realm than how you started out in it?

The “Scream” movies, which were among my first ventures into horror genre, were a much different type of film, much more over the top and strictly orchestral. I came from a place of working only with orchestra. Electronics is something new, and I didn’t really pursue them until later as we went along with Buck Sanders as my partner. Little by little, the search for unique instrumental timbre has shifted from just being possible to do with the orchestra to now being able to do with musical technology. It’s allowed us to be able to really get some amazing things from all sorts of sounds including these environmental sources that you mentioned. I guess, in that sense I have evolved my approach. But at heart, I still think it’s the same visceral response to picture that guides what I try to achieve musically, even if the method is a little different.

As a composer, is it important to find moments of complete silence in your life – though for your sanity as opposed to avoiding creatures?

Yes, of course. I’m haunted by noise in my head, and it’s important for me to learn to find ways to dampen it down to a minimal volume as best I can.


“A Quiet Place” tiptoes into theaters on April 6th, with Marco Beltrami’s score available digitally on April 6th from Milan Records, and then on CD on May 11th HERE. Then listen to Beltrami romance the Russian royals with “Mathilde” HERE

Visit Marco Beltrami’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Garth Stevenson

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 04/04/2018 - 02:03

The ghosts of the past, and a future tragically cut off are very much alive with eerie, sad beauty and infuriating political relevance in “Chappaquiddick.” Digging up a past the Kennedy family wish would stay buried in the waters off their oceanside sanctums, director John Curran revisits a series of bad decisions made by their remaining golden boy Ted (Jason Clarke), the president-to-be who ends up driving campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) off a small, island bridge, leaving her to die horribly while he wanders off to get his head together on the best way to make his political aspirations survive. The ensuing cover up is a powerful lesson on how the well-appointed and beyond-rich can get away with just about everything while preserving their all-important image.

Painting a musical picture that’s intimate while reaching from the nation to the moon itself is Garth Stevenson. Having made his film scoring debut for Curran with the psychologically expansive Aussie outback journey of a woman and her camel in “Tracks,” Stevenson has continued his own, alternative-oriented soundtrack voyage with characters trying to find their place in the world in “Red Knot,” 10,000 Saints” and “Tater Tot & Patton.” Given the real-life players of “Chappaquiddick” that do their best to keep a crime quiet as their own morality sinks into a quagmire, Stevenson takes a haunting, introspective and thematic approach to a conspiracy that plays itself out against the backdrop of a man submerged by family expectations and a nation waiting for one giant leap for mankind.

Capturing the kind of poignant piano and orchestral presence of such modern classical composers as Arvo Part, Stevenson weaves together slow, echoing themes that convey the movement of water, a drifting lack of conscience and star-filled wonder. Organ and voice become the presence of a woman’s life cut short, tense strings the rage of a stroke-silenced patriarch and determined rhythm a conspiracy of silence trying desperately to save a president-to-be even as he fumbles their plans. It’s an emotionally affecting, spectral presence of a score that likely will build many viewers’ sense of betrayal while bringing to the surface the darkest chapter in a Camelot’s legacy cut short. Yet, the one secret that this “Chappaquiddick” will not hold is the melancholy, mesmerizing ability of a truly interesting composer on the independent scene, a musician gifted here with a strikingly lyrical sense of observation to an American tragedy.


Tell us about your interest in music, and what led you to scoring?

II started playing piano at a young age then switched to double bass in high school because our jazz band needed a bass player. I think it’s safe to say many bassists got their start this way, simply because there was no one to play bass. I fell in love with the instrument and a few years later I was leaving Western Canada for Berklee College of Music in Boston. Partway through my first year at Berklee I developed severe tendonitis from over playing, usually in the eight hours a day range. I was devastated and switched my degree from performance to composition. In hindsight the tendonitis was a gift. I dove deeply into studying composition and when I finally recovered, I had the path of both a bassist and composer to follow.

While in Boston I began working with an older generation of master improvisers including drummers Nat Mugavero, Bob Moses, and Bob Gullotti, saxophonist George Garzone, guitarist David Tronzo, trombonist Hal Crook, and my bass mentor John Lockwood. Most of the concerts and sessions I played with these musicians were completely improvised. There was an expectation that any music you had been working on or practicing at home would be left at the door and all that you could rely on was deep listening, sensitivity and trust with your fellow musicians, and allowing the music to unfold naturally. As a composer, many interesting concepts came from these group improvisations like having multiple tempos happening simultaneously, having themes or fragments of themes being passed around the ensemble, how to swing when there’s no tempo, the balance of density and sparseness. These are all concepts I work into my scores now.

In 2005 I moved to New York and continued working in the improvised music scene and formed a trio based in Poland with pianist Marcin Masecki and drummer Ziv Ravitz called TAQ. Our concerts were a mix of completely improvised pieces and improvisations based off of themes we had composed. It was in this ensemble I started using effects and looping pedals on my double bass. Back in New York I started performing solo bass concerts with live looping which ultimately led me to start recording my own solo albums. When I released my second album, “Flying” in 2010 the recurring feedback I received was “This music would be perfect for film.”


Your first major soundtrack was for John Curran’s “Tracks.” How did you meet? And what was the challenge of playing an introverted woman’s crossing of Australia by camel, from writing the score to the songs?

One day I received a phone call from someone with an Australian accent who asked to speak with Garth Stevenson’s agent. I answered, “You’re talking to him!” (That was just before I signed on with my amazing agent Sarah Kovacs at Kraft-Engel). The next day I spoke with John on the phone. He told me how the week prior he was driving with his editor, Alexandre De Franceschi, who had my CD of “Flying” playing in his car. They had been struggling to find the right sound for the temp score and when John heard the track “Dawn,” they threw it against picture that day and it worked well. He asked if I was interested in scoring the entire film and I of course agreed. At that time I only had one documentary and one feature under my belt so I was very appreciative of John taking a chance on me for such a major film.

In “Tracks,” I really wanted to find a unique and appropriate sound for the desert. It needed to be harsh, full of beauty, mystery and have a sense of timelessness. I found it easy to relate to the character of Robyn because, although on a much smaller scale, I have spent a lot of time alone in nature doing short, solo camping trips. I understand the need to be alone in nature and how self reliant you have to be if there is no one around to help.

What were your perceptions of the Chappaquiddick incident, and Ted Kennedy before you started the film? And once you got it, did you do your own research into it?

The first time I really started researching the Chappaquiddick incident was when I performed at the Chappaquiddick Summer Music Festival in 2005 with a jazz quartet featuring George Garzone, Ayn Inserto and Richie Barshay. We stayed on Chappaquiddick for four days, digging for clams, rehearsing, and jogging over the famous bridge. We were invited back in 2007 and I continued to explore the island. I loved staying on Chappaquiddick because it was incredibly beautiful and was much quieter than Martha’s Vineyard. When John contacted me to work on the film I dug deeper into Ted’s career and the incident.

How did you lay the thematic groundwork for “Chappaquiddick?”

Structurally, John already had a strong sense of what scenes should be connected thematically. The opening scene of the film has a piano melody that introduces two of the main themes we developed throughout the score.

Given a sense of betrayal that’s sweeping America, would you say that your own reactions to the current political climate played into the score?

No. My job was to help tell the story that Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan wrote and John directed. Bringing my own political views or drawing comparisons to the current political climate would have been a disservice to the film.

What did John want this score to achieve? And was your collaboration different on this film? Or given the kind of atypical films he’s made, do you think he’s naturally more open to composer experimentation?

John was looking for the balance or coexistence of darkness and lightness in the score. To hear the devils and angels overlapping within cues. Ted is haunted and tormented by Mary Jo, the bridge, his complex relationship with his father and the weight of being the only surviving Kennedy son who everybody expects to run for president. The score had to support this feeling. The score also had to support the farce that unfolds in the middle of the film.

I truly love collaborating with John. He has incredible ears and hears detail in the same way a seasoned musician does. This allows us to go deeper and communicate on a high level. Our creative process is all in. We are on the phone at all hours of the day and night bouncing ideas off each other.

Garth Stevenson and John Curran at the LA premiere of Chappaquiddick. March 28, 2018

Yes, John encourages experimentation and taking chances. The last thing he wanted from this score was for it to sound formulaic or generic. Sonically he wanted the score to have hints of the 60s. I have a good collection of old Hammond organs that we used throughout the score. The organ was also featured in some of the needle drops so it tied the source and score together nicely. I also did a lot of re-amping of the percussion, piano and voice through old guitar amps with spring reverb and tremolo. A few years ago I found wooden organ pipes on craigslist that somebody was selling as lumber. They were over one hundred years old from a church in Framingham, MA and it felt sacrilegious that they were being cut up for home repair projects. After watching the scene of Mary Jo’s funeral in the church with pipe organ I knew I had to finally use my pipes. I didn’t have a blower for the pipes and my lungs only had enough capacity to hold a note for half a second so I ended up using a fully inflated exercise ball for the air reservoir. My studio is in Western Massachusetts and I tap my own maple trees every winter. It just so happens that a standard tap fits perfectly into an exercise ball and the hoses that run from tree to tree fit perfectly into the pipe. The resulting sound was a haunting, pitched wind tone that was mixed subtly into the score.

How do you think the oppressiveness of the Kennedy expectations that are smothering Ted come across in the score – especially in relation to his father?

In the film, Ted felt like he was never good enough for his father. Like he was a failure in comparison to his brothers. Even though Joe was hard on him Ted still loved him and looked to him for advice and guidance. I think the scene when Joe slaps Ted and tells him “You will never be great.” is one of the most emotional moments in the film. The score plays the darkness and heaviness of Joe’s character while also allowing room for emotional melodies to play Ted.


Mary Jo Kopechne has been almost an “incidental” person who was submerged once again in the cover-up. How did you want to give dimension to her character, and aspirations that are cut short? Or do you think the loss of the film is as much about her as it is of what Kennedy could have achieved if this didn’t forever taint his chance of becoming president?

When Mary Jo is drowning, the score again aims to allow the dark and light to unfold simultaneously. Her emotional theme is played on high violins that are in counterpoint to a repetitive low bass line of double bass, brass and Hammond organ that feels like a powerful low foghorn. Her theme as she drowns should feel like the final breath of a beautiful, innocent, intelligent and angelic character. With the exception of a flashback later on in the film, Mary Jo’s character does not return to the picture. In the score however, Mary Jo drowning is just the beginning of her character. She returns musically in the form of female voice, sung by Annie Lynch, as one of the main characters of the score. This ghostly voice haunts Ted throughout the film. We hear it on the aerial shot after the diver recovers her body through Ted being in a removed mental state at the restaurant. It appears when Joey and Paul are trying to rescue Mary Jo from the car and Ted is lying on the bridge repeating, “She is already dead.” It also returns faintly on the shot of her picture in the Kopechne’s living room and the scene with the hearse. Another important use of her ghostly voice theme is on the night shots of the bridge and even in the opening credits as Ted drives over the bridge. We wanted to drive home the haunted quality of the bridge and how that bridge hung over Ted for the rest of his life.

How did you want to musically evoke the feeling of water?

Production wise, I used heavy reverbs, delays and parts played in reverse or slowed down to accent the feeling of being underwater, especially when Joey and Paul are trying to get Mary Jo out of the car. The other water related moment is in the opening title sequence when Ted is on the ferry. I matched the tempo of the paddlewheel of the ferry and incorporated it into the percussion track for the rest of the cue.

The Kennedy team is also hoping that the moon landing will draw attention away from Mary Jo’s death. Did that extra-terrestrial element play into the score?

Absolutely. The Apollo mission played into the sound of the score, especially the mix. I recorded a bunch of static and glitchy sounds on the organ.

There’s a haunted sense of the past that your samples evoke. How did you achieve this quality?

Ben Gerstein and Garth Stevenson playing at Harriman State Park (Photo by Ben Gerstein)

I don’t use samples in my scores. Every sound is recorded from scratch. The haunting quality comes from production. Some of the female voice parts for example were played in reverse. Any imperfections in the vocal performance like dips in intonation were magnified and looped instead of being edited out. Experimenting with reverbs, delays and re-amping all played into the ghostly sound.

Could you talk about the score’s other instrumentation, which also makes effective, unexpected use of the organ and voice?

“Chappaquiddick’s” organ pipes. (Photo by Garth Stevenson).

I’ve talked a decent amount about the voice and organ so I would like to draw attention to the brass. The brass parts were played by my long time collaborators Ben Gerstein, trombone and Dan Brantigan on trumpet. Both Dan and Ben are master musicians who in my opinion have completely transcended their instruments and have created unique voices. Ben doesn’t sound like trombone. He sounds like Ben. To create a foghorn sound I had Ben play extremely quietly right against the ribbon microphone. My only instructions were to try to make the sound 10% tone and 90% air or wind. Any brass player could tell you that playing as quietly as possible in tune is challenging. For the written statement and night bridge scenes I recorded pump organ. I played and recorded it in a way that captured equal amounts of breath sound from the bellows as tone. My instructions for Dan were: I want you to play in unison with the pump organ part but you have to get it in the first take and you’re not allowed to see the sheet music…and make sure your trumpet doesn’t sound like a trumpet. The result was not a true unison but more of a shadow unison chasing the organ part, which I was after. This is the advantage of working with someone I’ve been playing and recording music with for fifteen years.

Once Ted and his enablers hatch upon the idea of getting rid of the story as quickly as possible, how did you want to convey their machinations?

Part of what John was looking for in the cover up theme was a sense of humor. The dream teams of lawyers were constantly having to absorb mistakes Ted made into their story. Like when Ted decided to wear a neck brace to the funeral but was caught twisting his neck to see who was sitting behind him or when they told the Times reporter that the doctor treated his concussion with sedatives, which they later discovered could kill someone with a concussion. I think the hints of jazz in the organ part bring out the humor while the ticking percussion portrays the well-oiled legal machine.

Where other composers might have taken the score in more of an orchestrally direct approach, why did you take “Chappaquiddick” in a more of an alternative, existential one?

This is what John was looking for. He tried some orchestral music in the temp score and it was glossing over Ted’s character instead of getting deep inside him.

It’s a shame that this movie couldn’t have been made while Ted Kennedy was alive. If he were, what do you think he’d make of it? And If you had been able to meet him, what would you ask him?

If I had had the chance to meet Ted I would not have asked him about Chappaquiddick because surely he would have been done talking about it by then. I would have asked him about his encounters with my wife’s grandfather who was a lawyer on the Cape that helped JFK with his campaign. He was invited and attended JFK’s inauguration and apparently knew Ted personally. There were a bunch of strange coincidences about this film like Annie’s grandfather, or the fact that I got in a small car accident on my way to play music on “Chappaquiddick” with the same drummer that recorded on the score, or that Lexie Roth who played one of the boiler room girls, was at our wedding on Edgartown pond, or that we signed our marriage certificate in the same room that Ted signed his written statement in the film, or that Olivia Thirlby whom I spent a month in Antarctica with, was also in the cast.

What’s coming up for you? And do you see yourself continuing on a path of offbeat scoring for character-oriented movies?

After “Chappaquiddick,” I scored a feature called “The Grizzlies” that takes place in Kugluktuk in Northern Canada. It was directed by Miranda de Pencier and I got to work with an amazing Inuit artist named Tanya Tagaq who I was familiar with from her work with Bjork. Now I’m working on a film called “Them That Follow,” which is a love story set in the south in a snake-handling religious community. It’s directed by Brittany Poulton and Daniel Savage. Once that score is complete I’m headed to Europe for a short solo bass tour. I’m also open to scoring any genre of film. I worked on the pilot of a sci fi thriller directed by Alan Taylor a few years ago and would be interested in further exploring that direction.


“Chappaquiddick” opens in theaters on April 6th, with Garth Stevenson’s score released on Varese Sarabande Records HERE. Then take a musical voyage via camel through Australia’s outback in Garth’s score for “Tracks” HERE

Visit Garth Stevenson’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws
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