Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Sony Music Announces 'Wonder Park' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Za, 09/03/2019 - 02:00
Sony Music today announced the release of [a.25305]Wonder Park (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[] with music by Oscar and BAFTA Award-winning composer [c.1974]Steven Price[] ([m.32671]Gravity[], [m.44385]Baby Driver[], [m.41974]Suicide Squad[]). Available everywhere March 8, the soundtrack features music from the Paramount Animation/Nickelodeon Movies film, which makes its theatrical debut March 15. Of the soundtrack, composer [c.1974]Steven Price[] says: "[m.45112]Wonder Park[] is really a story about imagination. June and her mom spend countless hours imagining, designing and building models of an amazing park, complete with rides such as Fireworks Falls and the Skyflingers, all powered by the magical Clockwork Swings, the...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Audio: Interview with Pinar Toprak

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 06/03/2019 - 01:44

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

“Captain Marvel” gloriously represents a first for Marvel in shattering a super-heroic stratosphere. Not only does it represent the brand’s first female-led film, but also the first one to be co-written and directed by a woman (Anna Boden, along with partner Ryan Fleck) as well as to mark an ascent by composer Pinar Toprak to blockbuster status. A musician hailing from the far away land of Turkey, Toprak arrived on Hollywood shores to work with Hans Zimmer and William Ross before impressing with her own work for both the majestically ocean-swept (“The Lightkeepers,” “The Wind Gods,” “Tides of Fate”) and two-fisted action and suspense (“Behind Enemy Lines II,” “The River Murders,” “The Angel”) and the videogame phenomenon “Fortnite.” A long time fan of costumed characters, and a red-caped one in particular, Toprak was able to play Superman with additional music on “Justice League” as she took Kal-El back to his alien beginnings with her mystically noble Syfy prequel series “Krypton.” All would prepare the composer for her most impressive flight yet to the stars with “Captain Marvel.”


Female superhero and live-action Hollywood scoring has been trailblazed by Shirley Walker (“Batman: Mask of the Phantasm,” “Memoirs of an Invisible Man”) with her protégé Lolita Ritmanis continuing on that costumed fighting spirit in the cartoon realm. Now Toprak singularly shatters both budgetary, and flesh-and-blood boundaries in the identity of a comic book movie. But more importantly, Toprak’s soaringly thematic and humorously playful work delivers on the inspirational emotion that’s the stuff of cinematic superheroes, as wielded by the cosmic power possessed by Carol Danvers, an air force pilot finding her place in multiple worlds. Toprak delivers on the genre’s symphonic musical expectations while saluting the 90’s retro synth setting to melodically fly high with the spirit of her musical forebearers.

Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Pinar Toprak discusses her path to light the way for the fellow composers who dare to dream with a score, and movie that stands tall as of one of the most empowering films in any superhero universe.

Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to Download

Buy the Soundtrack: CAPTAIN MARVEL (Digitally available on Hollywood Records March 8th) Buy the Soundtrack: KRYPTON Buy the Soundtrack: TIDES OF FATE Visit Pinar Toprak’s website
Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Lakeshore Records to Release 'Giant Little Ones' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Di, 05/03/2019 - 02:00
Lakeshore Records will release the [a.25332]Giant Little Ones - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[] digitally on March 15, featuring original music by Golden Globe-nominated composer [c.1258]Michael Brook[] ([m.29604]Into the Wild[], [m.42689]Brooklyn[]). [m.51928]Giant Little Ones[] written and directed by Keith Behrman (Flower and Garnet) and starring Josh Wiggins, Darren Mann, Taylor Hickson with Kyle MacLachlan and Maria Bello opens in New York March 1, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC March 8 and expands March 15 via Vertical Entertainment. Franky Winter (Josh Wiggins) and Ballas Kohl (Darren Mann) have been best friends since childhood. They are high school royalty: handsome, stars of the swim team and popular...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: 'A Million Little Things' Soundtrack Released

Soundtrack News - Za, 02/03/2019 - 02:00
Hollywood Records releases the original series soundtrack to ABC's hit comedy drama [m.53115]A Million Little Things[] by composer, songwriter, producer and singer [c.2385]Gabriel Mann[]. The digital soundtrack is now available for download and at streaming services. The soundtrack features original songs written by Gabriel, as well as reinvented covers of iconic songs performed by cast members and Gabriel, all of which are produced by him. From the start, creator/showrunner DJ Nash, Gabriel, and the rest of the music team discussed a very organic sound for the series. The music needed to reflect the raw, real-life issues the show is all about, while making sure the same sorts of sounds and instrumentation could be used to weave...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

February Soundtrack Picks

Film Music Magazine News - Di, 26/02/2019 - 21:07

Soundtrack Picks: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD is the top soundtrack to own for FEBRUARY 2019


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




Price: $29.99 / $21.99

What is it?: From the Mutara Nebula to an animated North Pole, James Horner took many incredible journeys, both historical and imagined, through a legendary musical career that’s often been heard through Intrada Records in such spectacular releases as “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” and “Balto.” Now the label finds more treasure in the composer’s archives with two 2-CD releases of 1987’s “An American Tail” and 1996’s “Apollo 13.” Tied together with Horner’s immediately recognizable orchestral sound, these subjects also reflect the heroic optimism and danger of venturing to a new land, whether it be the moon or a new cartoon world of turn-of-the century New York City with beautiful flesh-and-blood emotion

Why Should You Buy It?: With his penchant for brass and military percussion, let alone his love of flight, James Horner certainly had the right stuff to give patriotic hope to America’s space program during one of its darkest hours with “Apollo 13.” Having teamed with director Ron Howard for the sweetly spacefaring “Cocoon” and the rousing fantasy adventure of “Willow,” “Apollo 13” gave the filmmaker his true exercise of urgent dramatic gravitas and real-life heroism, for which Horner conveyed with a soaring orchestra that paid tribute to America know-how at its can-do best, his score’s military snare drum percussion and solemn trumpet conveying the very stuff of bravery, and ticking clocking brainpower, as well as the exhilaration of rocketing to the moon, with one of Horner’s most majestically developing pieces depicting the rocket launch with a suspenseful rhythmic build to the blast off of a heavenly chorus. As all hell breaks loose in space to discordant percussion, Horner’s music regains urgent control for a powerful depiction of command under pressure. With its cold, piano-based tension, “Apollo 13” plays at times as a more concerned cousin to Horner’s “Sneakers,” – minus that team’s bouncy jazz. No cue in “Apollo 13” is more haunting as the voice of The Eurhythmics’ Annie Lennox takes the capsule over the dark side of the moon, her wordless lament full of awe and despair over an opportunity missed before Horner’s orchestra comes in to remind all that the greatest goal is survival. Horner’s Oscar-nominated score (along with the equally noble “Braveheart” that same year) has lost one of its emotional power or awe in the decades since, especially given that Intrada now lets the soundtrack fully soar in the way it always should have at the time, which then yielded a song and dialogue-filled “storytelling” album. John Takis’ exceptional liner notes chart this new edition, which offers cues that appear for the first time, and are expanded upon to make up a first 76-minute CD, from the brassily discordant “Master Alarm” to the dramatic concern of “A Son’s Worries and Simulator Crash.” Of special interest is a section that features Horner’s peril-enhancing synth cues, while the exceptionally sequenced album that Horner planned (and which essentially floated around as a high priced score-only promo for decades) makes up the presentation’s second album at just about an hour, all adding to the dramatic gravitas of Horner’s brilliance at capturing the spirit of brave nobility put to the ultimate test.

Extra Special: Animator Don Bluth created his masterpiece with 1982’s “The Secret of Nimh,” which put the usual cute talking mice into truly dire situations the wondrously scarred a generation, especially given Jerry Goldsmith’s darkly magical score (also available on Intrada). Given that film made far more of a cult impression than a box office one, Bluth toned things down several cutesy notches for the Hollywood clout of Steven Spielberg to way more success with 1986’s “An American Tale.” Taken from the filmmaker’s idea of cleverly turning the particular Jewish immigrant experience into the musical form of Fievel the Mouse, Bluth turned to James Horner for a sense of ethnically accented adventure, comedy and rag-tugging emotion. Though Horner had certainly played kid-friendly subjects before with “The Journey of Natty Gann” and an episode of “Faerie Tale Theater,” “An American Tail” would be his first animated film – as it was for Goldsmith with Nimh. And like his fellow maestro, Horner succeeds by giving the colorful cell imagery the symphonic passion of any live action score, especially when it comes to the period and neo-religious details. Balalaikas and lilting violins stand for The Old Country that Fievel and family hail from, while also giving ethnic due to Ireland and China, with the evil cats being given the full Prokofiev force of Mother Russia. Ragtime conveys the scurvier elements of this mouse-infested NYC, his tin pan alley band also launching the composer’s jazzier explorations for the likes of “*batteries not included” and “Swing Kids.” When Fievel falls into none-too-menacing peril, Horner, already a master of sci-fi excitement, pours on trumpeting orchestras and cat-dodging rhythm a la the “powerhouse” style to bear heard in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids,” Yet though it might get antic, Horner is sure to, never letting us forget of the mouse’s Eastern European identity, or the search for his family. For all of its energy, there’s a pure emotional magic that suffuses the score, from a chorus hails the dream of America. A theme for Fievel is tender and magical in the way of his yearning music for “Cocoon.” Given an animated musical answer to “Fiddler on the Roof” to “Yentl,” Horner teamed with songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. “There Are No Cats in America” playfully swings from Hebraic to Italy and Irish wishful thinking of escaping feline Cossacks. Christopher Plummer presages Jerry Orbach’s singing lamp with the French swoon of “Never Say Never,” joined by the kid singing voice of Phillip Glass, while Nimh’s goofball seagull Dom De Louise transforms into a the one loveable, singing cat with his gasping, chuckling operatic “A Duo.” But if anything, “An American Tail” stands tall in a generation’s collective memory as Phillip Glaser and Betsy Cathcart warble the Oscar-nominated “Somewhere Out There” as Fievel and his sister. It’s daringly off-tune, and absolutely right for two hopeful children wishing upon a star with the impact of any Disney song, especially given Horner’s flutes. Used as the film’s most memorable theme, the song gets a more vocally mature performance by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram that would arguably become the most memorable film song that Horner would be involved with outside of “Titanic’s” “My Heart Will Go On.” Even if this “Tail” might not have been as daring as “Nimh,” Horner’s score represents the child appealing sound that showed why his sound was so unmistakably magical in the 1980’s, music that is now gloriously heard in full through this terrific Intrada release that brings back memories to turn of the century, not to mention a generation of film music fans decades later weaned on Horner’s animated scores.


Price: $19.99

What Is It?: For as terrifying and gothic as Bernard Herrmann’s work could be, there was often a wicked sensibility at place when he gave a killer a musical motif – especially when it came to ghastlier scores for the genetically deranged killer of “The Twisted Nerve” of the crazed Moog synthetisers that bonded “Sisters.” But one of the heights of his macabre subversion goes to one of his more unsung scores for “The Bride Wore Black,” which took traditional wedding bells to new heights of gonging, satisfied frenzy for Jeanne Moreau’s bereaved avenger. Now her darkly romantic fury gets new vigor with Quartet’s stunning rendition of the “Bride” under the baton of Fernando Velasquez, a composer who’s certainly no slouch himself when it comes to lush, symphonic suspense with the likes of “The Orphanage” and “Crimson Peak.”

Why Should You Buy It?: After Herrmann had gotten a creative divorce from Hitchcock following their aborted collaboration on “Torn Curtain,” the young filmmakers who sought to work with the composer were determined to let Herrmann did what he did best – namely pour gorgeously unbridled emotion into his subjects. That was no more true of cineaste admirer Francois Truffaut, who first had Herrmann bring haunting poetry to his Hollywood adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451” – a score that proved to be the most transfixing element of an otherwise dull film. Truffaut was on far firmer territory with the French-spoken “Bride’s” angel of vengeance as she takes out the boy’s club that shot her husband on her wedding day. Herrmann’s score takes waltzing, methodical pleasure in stalking her victims for the righteous coup de grace, while also psychologically haunting her with a husband’s ghost. No psycho who enjoys payback, Herrmann’s gorgeous score paints her in tragic colors – reflecting an assassin who will forever be in love with a ghost, with further death giving her the only meaning in life. But while the score is full of grim, brass and string purpose as Herrmann varies the music for each of her kills, his music is also diabolically playful with its gossamer bell percussion and plucked violins in a black widow’s cat and mouse game before the relentless pounce, and satisfaction of a diabolical jump with a bell-ringing statement of Felix Mendelssohn “Wedding March” from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” the inimitable sound of the altar.

Extra Special: James Fitzpatrick’s re-performance of Herrmann’s brilliant “Obsession” a few years ago certainly set a high bar in bringing new symphonic blood and thunder to Herrmann’s work. The beautifully robust re-performance of “The Bride Wore Black” can hold her head up high as she lethally swoons down that aisle under Velazquez’s baton, which strikes a tempestuous band with The Basque National Orchestra, which take particular flourish in the unusual orchestration that denies trumpets and pianos. It’s a robust announcement of the group’s arrival onto the re-performance concert scene, with an added bonus of using the organ at the church featured in the film itself – and more importantly of restoring the score to its full glory after Truffaut’s slices that doomed another director relationship for Herrmann. For a composer on a macabre French honeymoon who was no doubt determined to show Hollywood that he still had his killer instinct, the passion that Herrmann gave to “The Bride Wore Black” sings like never before with bereft rage and icy cunning on her 50th anniversary.



Price: $10.00 / $14.57

What Is It?: From John Williams to Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner, composers who’ve established themselves first in the film arena used a concert stage to realize music that could be truly unbound by image and dialogue – if not a theme to coalesce their classical work to show their true musical selves. But if that work could sometimes be offputtingly dissonant in the way the modern classical pieces think they need to be, two new concept works from an established composer and one on the rise show just how pleasing a melodic approach can be to the concert hall.

Why Should You Buy It?: Cliff Eidelman, has always impressed with a gift for rapturous melody, from the epic (“Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country,” “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery”) to conveying the heartfelt bonds of girl power (“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” Now and Then”) and the magic of believing in the impossible (“Leap of Faith,” “Big Miracle”). Having been sure to release a succession of concept albums like “My Muse” and “Wedding in the Night Garden” along with his film work, Eidelman now delivers two impressive concert pieces on a singular album that begins with “Symphony for the Orchestra and Two Pianos.” Eidelman sets a lyrical stage, whose rhythmic idea continues to build to a majestic conclusion, his opening cadenza having a subtle Hebraic rhythm that recalls his astonishing first major score for the Holocaust-set “Triumph of the Spirit.” The second movement beautifully starts as a piano nocturne that’s joined by strings, their dance growing with an impassioned orchestra for its third movement. While this “Symphony” certainly has a classical pedigree to be reckoned with, fans of Eidelman’s scores, especially his more fantastical ones, will particularly enjoy the chillingly playful theme of “Night in the Gallery.” Inspired by Eidelman’s quick dash through the Louvre Museum in a way that could reflect the characters of barely-seen paintings coming to life and narrating a story, those stepping unknowingly into this “Gallery” might think they’re getting a sophisticated reading of various “Goosebumps” tales. While the music certainly conveys whimsically disparate works of art, his “Gallery” also the atmosphere of a sweet haunted house, opening with syncopated rhythm a la Philip Glass before having the pianos conjure a wistful sense of spookiness. Brass instruments achieve a similar loopiness in their jazzy inflections, winds chirp like gently alarmed parakeets, and storm clouds of gothic Guignol arrive alongside pounding brass. Consider it an exceptionally gentle “Night on Bald Mountain” as Eidelman passes by masterpieces in a way that a tyke takes in the wonders of Halloween. But whether sophisticated or wonderfully whispering an unintended “boo,” the performance by the London Symphony orchestra and pianists Michael McHale and Tom Poster are excellent, giving Eidelman’s concert stage works the quality of any big screen soundtrack.

Extra Special: With an impressively growing career, Chad Cannon has gone from orchestrating on “Godzilla” and two “Hobbit” movies to show his lyrical orchestral talents for the post-Hiroshima documentary “Paper Lanterns” and the epic score for the patriotic Chinese WW2 film “Cairo Declaration.” Gifted with an affinity for Oriental subjects that have also seen him work with acclaimed Miyazaki composer Joe Hisaishi, Cannon certainly has the resources to create a tone poem that expresses “The Dreams of a Sleeping World.” Thankfully with its emphasis far more on melody than the usually tonal salvo that stands for modern classical music, Cannon’s work for orchestra and voices has a slowly building naturalism that recalls Debussy, with another foot in such contemporary styles as jazz clarinet. Divided into chapters for “The Sea” and “The Land,” Cannon’s poetic work draws its inspiration from the paintings of Japanese-Brazilian artist Oscar Oiwa, with an accent on environmental catastrophes – though that might be hard to discern from the piece’s overall poetic approach. However, darkness certainly lurks in its chants, bell percussion and brass when need be. Starting out quietly before launching into aggressive chorus and orchestration, “Dreams” certainly has a cinematic power to it, especially in swirling voices and dire world-in-jeopardy orchestrations that would be right as home atop Mount Doom as easily as it conveys the blood oil battlefield of Iraq and the corpse-strewn waters of Hurricane Katrina. It’s a world of hurt and ultimately hope in the program’s second half that Cannon embodies as well with the Middle Eastern sound of Diduk, Japanese winds and Tibetan bells, entwined with his feeling for humanity at the brink. Yet there’s an overall, soothing quality to this “Sleeping World” that makes it a quite listenable tone poem from a composer with tangible empathy for a far bigger picture. Though available on iTunes, those with the interest in seeing Oiwa’s impressionistic work and reading the concert’s lyrics should be sure to purchase “Dreams’” physical version via CD Baby.


Price: $12.69

What Is It?: Ever since his first animated work on “Antz” (alongside Harry Gregson-Williams), John Powell has shown an unhinged sense of inventiveness worthy of Carl Stalling. From such efforts as “Shrek” to “Horton Hears A Who” and any number of “Ice Ages,” Powell has turned stylistic ideas on a dime in pursuit of a gag with any number of wackadoo instrumental approaches – yet always encompassing his stream of consciousness within a solid thematic framework that gave a sense of grandeur to talking animals and any other amount of fantastical creatures. But perhaps the height of Powell’s adventurously madcap sensibility was his Oscar nominated score for 2010’s “How To Train Your Dragon,” which dared to imagine beast-riding Vikings by way of Scottish bagpipes, while also capturing the majesty of flight and dysfunctional family dynamics. Now after doing a fine job of accompanying a mixed bag sequel, Powell returns to put a capper in a decent trilogy ender with his most magnificent “Dragon,” and toon score yet, holding the reigns a bit tighter for a more mature approach as such as the now fully grown Hiccup faces his most dire challenge, and his jet-black steed Toothless romance with an other-dimensional albino beastie.

Why Should You Buy It?: Given the theme of Hiccup maturing into a true leader of his tribe as well as facing the equally daunting prospect of marriage, Powell takes a more mature tone that deepens his “Dragon” without losing any of its fun. While the familiar bagpipe themes resurface here and there, especially during dad flashbacks, there’s a nice feeling of pushing this musical world further, while bringing a pre-Medieval time and place to the score through his orchestrations for harp, plainsong in a touching farewell and even a bit of Kung Fu Panda Orientalism into the fractured fairy tale mix. There’s also a bigger percussive threat in a villain bent on enslaving dragons and wiping out night furies in the bargain, with Powell giving the Italian-accented baddie a weirdly slithering tone. Where the composer wonderfully summoned up the spirit of John Williams in his terrific score for the underrated “Solo,” Powell’s spirit animal in “Hidden World’s” adventurous moments is way more Erich Wolfgang Korngold, with the daring thrills and spills positively Robin Hood-ian in their brightly heroic orchestrations. Powell’s epic choruses also particularly shine here, from leading a Viking sky exodus over a jaunty military rhythm. The sky’s also the limit when it comes to Powell’s use of voices, which herald the hidden world’s waterfall portal with religious reverence before lowering to an eerily beautiful hush as we sweep among its inner neon colors. Among the many times that Powell has communicated visiting a truly magical place for live action or animation, the sense of wonder he conjures for this massive inner earth has never been more beautifully enveloping.

Extra Special: The biggest strength of this “Dragon” is its ravishing visuals, with its best sequences dispensing with humans altogether to center on the courtship between a besotted Toothless and the gossamer, not-so-easy to please Light Fury. With strings aflutter and romance literally in the air, Powell does wonders at emotionally translating these creatures’ growls from the ground to their gossamer, magical waltz through lightning-filled skies. Toothless’ extended mating dance is certainly a career highlight for Powell, where the music is front and center to match every one of his endearingly hapless moves. Powell swings between Celtic slapstick and harp-plucking hopefulness, his waltz jigging over any number of ethnic beats in the process to win a white dragon’s heart as their orchestral passion grows to a thrillingly majestic theme. It’s like the cartoon Animal Channel version of “Riverdance,” and a brilliant example of the pure, inventive joy that Powell has brought to animation, and the saga he’ll likely be remembered for as its scoring goes out on a lovely high note.

5) THE THIN RED LINE (20th Anniversary Edition)

Price: $59.98

What Is it?: With a unique ear to iconoclastic musical possibilities, filmmaker Terence Malick has approached his subjects with a dream-like sensibility, his ear often finding magically unexpected sounds amidst particularly dark historical subjects. Ironically giving a serial killer the tubular percussion of Carl Orff in “Badlands,” using Saint-Saens “Carnival of Animals” to take us from an industrial wasteland to the open wheatfields of “Days of Heaven,” or landing in “The New World” with Wagner, Malick’s use of unexpected source music nearly rivals Stanley Kubrick’s. His ability to send composers on voyages of discovery rivals that auteurs as well, whether it was letting Ennio Morricone do his poetically melancholic best on “Days of Heaven,” having Alexandre Desplat hear the cosmic roots of the “Tree of Life,” or clashing with James Horner as he had his way with the score for “The New World.” When he’d team with Hans Zimmer for 1998’s “The Thin Red Line,” this film about WW2’s Pacific war theater was a particularly auspicious event, given that Malick hadn’t made a movie in two decades, not to mention that Zimmer’s music was best known for its brash melody and percussion. The epic tone poem that Zimmer worked for two years on, completely rewriting it in the process, was essential to the haunting spell of this unique war film, one that continues to resonate twenty years later as over six hours of music composed for the picture are whittled down into an entrancing four-cd set from La La Land Records.

Why Should You Buy It?: Filled with a myriad of characters while essentially being seen through the eyes of a young GI bewitched in the island wilderness of Guadalcanal, Zimmer captures that sense of existential detachment in the midst of hell on earth with a lyrical masterwork. Setting an elegiac tone with slow, tolling bells and drifting string lines, Zimmer’s music is about a sense of wonder and horror. Yet it’s rarely overly emotional, as “The Thin Red Line” isn’t a visceral war movie in the style of “Platoon” (even if that film’s director Oliver Stone was just as much in love with modern classical music). Malick’s sensibility gave Zimmer the difficult task of writing thematic music that would comment without commenting. But there’s an undeniable heroism to some of this fine tightrope walking across a line of traditional scoring and the melodically experimental, especially with ever-building, percussive melodies that would become the Wagnerian stuff of movie trailer music to come (no more so than in the coming attractions for the Zimmer-scored “Pearl Harbor”). Of particular instrumental interest is Zimmer’s use of The Cosmic Beam, whose guttural resonance mostly served to convey the danger of space for the likes of Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner and John Barry – tuned here with strings by Zimmer to reflect the awful, subterranean vibrations of earthbound battle. The Melanesian islanders serve as a heavenly chorus with their pidgin English, their blessed chants having a natural, optimistic exuberance to them – their praises as sacred as any European holy mass as Zimmer conveys their exotic environment with native voices and winds. But for the most part, aside from the orchestra’s storm clouds, the ethereally driving feeling here is one of tenderness, music for a disparate band of brothers grasping onto their humanity, as heard with the transcendental beauty of a soul rising above the bodies and wreckage below.

Extra Special: “The Thin Red Line” served as a first true tour of existential duty for Zimmer that would lead to more percussively aggressive, if similarly classically drawn psychological works, especially for the similarly attuned (if more commercial) filmmaker Christopher Nolan with the likes of “Dunkirk” and “The Dark Knight Returns.” Given Malick’s relentless experimentation, there’s much pensive purity to go around with over two hours of score as heard in the movie. La La Land’s collection also offers he original soundtrack album as well as the pin-off recording of the Melanesian chants from the blessed islands. It all adds up to a transfixing listen, a metaphysical journey of war as hell with heaven as the final destination through a director embedded in the visual, and aural possibility of filmmaking. Zimmer engagingly recollects his tour of duty for Malick in Jeff Bond’s perceptive liner notes, which also offers a forward from the album’s recently passed co-producer Nick Redman, a titan of soundtrack special editions and film documentaries – for whom this remarkable album now stands as a tribute to his perseverance at releasing Hollywood’s best work.



Starting out in a rhythmic realm with the action beat downs of two “Raid” assaults and the dazzlingly rebooted videogame world of “Tron: Legacy,” Joseph Trapanese has impressed with the dramatic deepening of his musical worldview, especially with the mournful approach to the rapper rise of “Straight Outta Compton” and a heroic last stand against nature with “Only the Brave.” Now he takes an impressive trek alongside Mads Mikkelsen through the “Arctic” as a plane crash survivor is finally spurred to leave the relative safety of his wreckage and find rescue. For Trapanese, it’s a melodic environment that’s a place of dangerously imposing majesty as much as it is a state of mind. Trapanese creates his “Arctic” out of drifting, yet captivating melodic lines through a unique, organic ensemble comprised of tubas, flutes and samples of polar winds and cracking ice. It’s an unearthly tone that shares much with his sci-fi expeditions, music that one could easily imagine trekking though a Martian landscape (which was the film’s original setting). It’s a elegiac tone that finally breaks into percussion to pushes Mads’ taciturn hero to the edge of death and transfiguration, with whale-cry like voices, hypnotic sustains and a heartbreaking violin becoming the driving determination of a man who’s been cut off from humanity, maybe in more ways than one, who commits to the possibility of perishing to reconnect with it. “Arctic’s” score has the kind of psychological power that made Trapanese handling of the doomed firefighters in “Only the Brave” so incredibly powerful, conveying a noble fate in the face of impossible odds. It’s scoring that becomes the soul of a man who at last finds himself, even if he might not find deliverance. Trapanese’s punishingly physical and tenderly ethereal work helps “Arctic” rise to a powerful, emotional crescendo in a film where the score and sound effects do most of the talking. As heard on this generous 76-minute CD, it’s a rewarding quest that continues to opens up new creative worlds for Trapanese to conquer.


After unleashing a rampaging fusion of orchestral and electronic scoring for a science-mutated polar bear in “Unnatural” (on Varese Sarabande), Edwin Wendler finds himself in ferocious company with critters that would give “Them” pause with “Dead Ant.” Given a way-less serious story by “Unnatural” director Hank Braxtan, Wendler runs with the satiric opportunities of having a bunch of peyote hopped-up, over-the-hill metalheads taking on armies of overgrown ants in the desert. It’s a world of drive-in worthy possibility that turns Wendler’s score into a fun, berserk mosh pit that has it every which way with the shrieking symphonic terror of the atom age 50’s sci-fi scores, 90’s hair ballads and today’s rage of atonal horror, all while enjoyably not settling on any approach for too long. Especially fun are “Dead Ant’s” loonier moments, from the approximation of a Theremin to the sounds of ‘shroom psychedelia and power guitar overdrive, all while his string attacks make the threat of getting ripped to shreds as real as the music can manage. “Dead Ant” has a rollicking, scary-in-spite-of-itself attitude that does much to help this nutty little movie achieve its bloodily anarchic goal, impressively crafting horror comedy with a pincer bite


While Brian Tyler continues to rock out with action mega blockbusters, many of his projects are taking him back to the more musically eclectic beginnings that marked the rise of his career with the suspenseful fusion of “The Final Cut” and the jazzy “Last Call.” Now two latter day cases that show Tyler’s versatility arrive with “The Devil We Know” and “What Men Want.” Working again with co-director Stephanie Soechtig after the weapon control documentary “Under the Gun,” “Devil” concerns Dupont’s poisoning of a local town with the chemicals used to make Teflon, It’s a sense of outrage at uncaring industrialists and the damage done on babies to be that marks Tyler’s intense, propulsive work. Combining strings and electronic sampling in a way that suggests dangerous artificial elements becoming one with humanity, Tyler’s music has a investigative drive to it as the film uncovers a horrifying truth that’s been going on for decades, a callousness represented by the company’s decision to stick with “the devil we know” as opposed to finding a money-losing alternative. Bringing in hip-hop beats, chorus and druggy sounds with percussive irony, Tyler’s thematic score draws on emotion in the same way he would for any drama– his ears here on the locals’ anger as he shifts from an electric guitar to rural strings to conveys the terrible impact on an unquestioning community. The “Devil’s” somber empathy for its afflicted subjects and humanity at might not have the profile of a superhero film, which makes Tyler scoring it all the more important in both showing the composer’s conscience and his storytelling ability.

Having captured the 40’s-style jazz swing and romantic tribulation of “Crazy Rich Asians” in a way that wasn’t so ethnically specific, Tyler truly gets his funk on with the black-centric re-imagining of “What Women Want.” Instead of Mel Gibson’s telepathic cad, we get Tarija P. Henson’s put-upon sports agent using the newfound voices in her head to get up the ladder in a misogynistic company. It’s a #metoo era reboot that Tyler hears with a soulfully energetic groove that could just as well suit John Shaft. It also helps that Tyler has dealt with cunning grooves to take The Man down with his “Now You See Me” scores. Here Tyler impressively handles all of the instruments himself to swing with rambunctious, R&B energy for drums, organ, bass and vibes that has its heroine play her newly gained macho info like a harmonica. Veering from full-blast energy to cool sexiness, Tyler’s poignant keyboard playing getting somewhat seriousness with the more emotional and sensual old school cool jazz vibe. More overtly wacky bits are giving to new age Indian music, bringing in percussion and a sweeping orchestra to let our heroine roar. Leaving any overt rom-com stylings in the dust, Tyler’s one man band knows that this woman wants for this very enjoyable score that shows him as a jack of all rom-com ethnicities with a universal sense of comedic energy and character.


This surprise hit horror-comedy combo between “Groundhog Day” and a baby-masked “Scream” now gets a second spin with its major participants back again and again – few more valuably than original composer Bear McCreary. A musician well versed in twisty genre exercises from “10 Cloverfield Lane” to the death demon metal of “Knights of Badasssdom,” McCreary doesn’t push the autopilot button when repeating himself. Instead, he goes for broke to make this score icing on the cake for those who enjoy full-blast scares with a smile. “Happy Death Day 2U” is one epic rampage of slasher movie theatrics on laughing gas, giving a ticking clock sensibility that it will be soon be lights out for the characters unless they solve the killer continuum. Pumping on the rhythm with the symphony raging, McCreary thankfully makes his killer noise with a surfeit of melody and invention, always pushing the excitement to the next level of overkill in a way that nicely recalls the delirious excitement that Shirley Walker brought to her meta-death “Final Destination” scores. Not only do you get PG-13 level string splatter here, but also a sense of delicious enjoyment, especially when a French-style accordion joins the busy jam. McCreary’s score is the alarm bell waking up these college kids for another deadly day, and always with a new smirk and scream ahead as it runs off a cliff with exuberance, again and again in this singularly delightful score.

. LA CAGE AUX FOLLES I, II, III (500 edition)

While best known for his spaghetti westerns and somber drama among his hundreds of scores, the indefatigable Ennio Morricone has just as much of a sweetly deft touch with comedy, one that’s the most popular on the international scene with the three “La Cage Aux Folles” films. With the first “Birds of a Feather” dressing up in an Oscar nominations (with an American stage musical and “Birdcage” remake to follow), Morricone sympathetic farce depicts the loving relationship between straight-laced cabaret owner Renato (Ugo Tognazzi) and his far more outrageous partner Albin – aka “Zaza” (Michel Serrault). With the original hilariously showing the complications that ensue when they try to play it straight for the sake of the marriage of Renato’s son, Morricone goes with the boisterous energy of the St. Tropez setting. With a peppy theme, the composer effortlessly swings between hooting samba pop confection and charming, soft jazz romance on the kind of dance floor used by Henry Mancini’s foreign-flavored romps. That he comes across with his own voice in a parade of humorously gauche colors says much for the maestro’s versatility in his range between the sweet and the swaggering, whether it be with a violin or a disco beat. With “Cage II” sending Renato and Zaza to Italy with spies in pursuit, Morricone gets to have fun with the kind of growling crime suspense he’d apply to more serious pursuits, with guitar, flute and overlapping strings serving as a warm up to “The Untouchables.” Darker piano and string melody brings gravitas to these unlikely targets, while an affecting love theme shows the couple’s serious bond. But if these sequel scores might not have the original’s wackiness, a harmonica send-up to Morricone’s spaghetti background certainly gets a sly laugh. “Cage III” returns Morricone to a somewhat lighter and more sentimental tone as Albin is faced with the project of a traditional marriage and a resulting baby in order to inherit a fortune. With the couple’s bonds tested, Morricone gets to their heart of their relationship with a poignant theme that the composer effortlessly varies from song to effervescence and heartbreak in the face of a far less accepting society back in the day. Peppier bits are provided with a “Flight of the Bumblebee” club groove and cooing female pop, while lush, swooning sax jazz and strings game up Zaza’s feigned attraction to the opposite sex. Though the least seen of the trilogy, it’s this “Cage” that has the most tonal costume changes to stand as the best of the bunch. Having released Morricone’s fashion-fixated score to “So Fine,” France’s Music Box Records now puts out this delightful Morricone collection on two CD’s, showing off his talent at always playing to the humanity of his characters, here no more cheekily, or sympathetically.


The most terrifying documentary series that isn’t a documentary continues to evolve as its musical enslavement of America (and potentially the multiverse) fall deeper into the despair of the fascism wrought by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Yet while this excellent series might be transfixingly gloomy, it never fails to evolve in its foes’ twisted ambition, or the musical direction of Dominic Lewis. Having worked alongside Henry Jackman at the Amazon series’ start, Lewis has continued to take it direction in a powerful, character-based approach. As mainly seen through the eyes of a female freedom fighter, a seemingly ruthless American commandant and a peace-seeking Japanese official, Lewis subtly opens up the characters’ three dimensional possibilities, as well as this season’s thematic idea of defiant hope, voices and piano joining for a beautifully haunting “Requiem” for the price that comes with revolt. Lewis’ musical clock ticks to stop the Reich’s master plans as rural strings evoke a verdant free zone where the last Jews hide. Now given way more sci-fi possibilities with the Nazis creating a dimension busting machine in a secret headquarters worthy of a James Bond villain, Lewis is able to write a nine minute “Die Nebenweld” for sinister, undulating strings and orchestra that pulsate with a villain countdown energy that would make Blofeld happy – following its symphonic crescendo with eerily aghast motivic echoing – only to build with triumph for “Lights Out.” Now with “High Castle” confirmed to end with its fourth season this year, one can only anticipate how Lewis’ powerful combination of the emotionally subtle and proudly villainous strum und drang will liberate our country, or doom it. As to how we got there in real, and fictional life, there’s no better accompaniment than that sinister, somehow empowering musical lament of American gone wrong that Lewis has powerfully built.

. NIGHTFLYERS (Original Series Soundtrack)

One of the more otherworldly and inventive under the radar composers in the experimental scoring universe, Will Bates (under the Klytus-friendly name Fall On Your Sword) has taken sci-fi scoring into haunting, hypnotic realms with “Another Earth” while taking a sardonically rhythmic look at a star-reaching belief on this planet for “Going Clear.” Now he reaches a surreal musical destination further out in many ways with SyFy’s series adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s “Nightflyers.” Long before his fantasy world of Westeros took off, the author’s starcraft-as-haunted house story was adapted into a 1987 film, its titular craft propelled by an impressively imaginative synth score by Doug Timm. SyFy’s version went to new budgetary, and storytelling lengths as passengers from a dying earth attempt to contact an unfathomable alien civilization all while dealing with a far more sinister ghost in their machine. Timm’s adventurous electronic presence is certainly present in Bates’ approach to the end of the universe. With synths and samples convey the spirits that float through the circuitry and their explosive vengeance, Bates also reflects the growing disconnect that the crew has from their loved ones, and ultimately humanity itself. Though there’s certainly horror to be had onboard in the violently chattering percussion, gnarled reverberations and twisted strings, Bates’ transfixing music is even more impressive at capturing The Great Unknown though his sonic fusion of the computerized and organic, using voices that wordlessly sing with the aliens’ god-like power. With percolating synths at once 80’s retro and state of the art, Bates’ mesmerizingly weird musical voyage once again pushes the boundaries of TV scoring for a show that will continue in the music’s imagination.


Whether you dig Seth McFarlane’s empire of satirical snark or not, the one thing that can definitely be said is that this Grammy-winning impresario knows music – whether he himself is belting out a more than capable Sinatra tune or hiring exceptionally melodic composers to do their best. A big case now in point is “Orville,” McFarlane’s straight-laced smarty pants uniformed salute to Star Trek, where he of course puts himself into Captain Kirk’s chair. But where fans of that franchise’s once-thematic TV music had to most suffer through aimless doodling for a few decades since TOS, McFarlane has gone boldly by getting Bruce Broughton, Joel McNeely John Debney and arranger Andrew Cottee to steer a very impressive course way beyond a geeky wannabe constellation. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to tell there was any humor in the show given just how well this trio serve as the musical straight men, as heard on a two-disc collection of their top episodic work via La La Land Records, a label that’s certainly no stranger to compilations of another next gen. That Broughton and McNeely, responsible for some of the genre’s great scores during the 80’s and 90’s, have been neglected on the big screen says something about the obvious passion they put into this starship. Given a sizeable orchestra of 70, the composers run wild with brash, spacefaring exuberance, their bright symphonic music reflecting McFarlane’s love of TOS scoring and 70’s sci-fi shows like “Buck Rogers” in general. The quartet pay spot-on tribute to the Trek film work of Jerry Goldsmith and Jerry Goldsmith, from the mysterioso of flying over V’jer to the military ramp up of galactic battle. But fans will also hear the composers’ own styles clearly whether its Broughton’s western-esque martial percussion of “Tombstone,” McNeely’s rip-roaring action that seamlessly filled in on “Air Force One” or Debney’s “Cutthroat Island” swashbuckling (and even the rampaging of his “Relic”). Whether going for thrills or emotion, their sounds merge to make “Orville” a singularly thematic delight with a truly cinematic force. As with composer Jeff Russo’s unabashed turn on the real deal “Star Trek: Discovery,” this alternate Trek universe under the stewardship of a star unafraid to break the past’s prime musical directive yields joyriding results aboard their thinly cloaked salute, creating the exuberant music that should have been on the franchise’s TV voyages.


Though he’d win his only Oscar for “The Omen” in 1976, Jerry Goldsmith would have an equally impressive dive into a more metaphysical supernatural realm the year before with “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud.” Michael Sarrazin was a college professor who gradually discovers he had an even randier, and far less likeable past life as a lothario who’d pay the price for his emotional abuse. However, “Caboblanco” director J. Lee Thompson wasn’t out to make a typical horror film, rather staging the story as far more of detective investigation, with equal parts chilling suspense and twisted romance. An ace at just about any genre, Goldsmith certainly had a background in psychological horror with the likes of his electronic-topped, Oscar-nominated “Freud” as well as employing even more freakish synths for “Shock Treatment.” Starting out with creepy buzzing and beeping electronics that would foreshadow his score to “Logan’s Run,” Goldsmith’s hauntingly thematic score is disturbing in a surreal way, his music conveying a bubbling shadow realm from which our hero /anti-hero’s nightmares emerge. As Peter begins to get closer to the truth, the score gradually solidifies into the realm of the living with organic strings and piano, the music getting a bit lighter, and lyrical with guitar and violin. It’s a rustic quality that takes us from LA to New England, conveying a lakeside world of idle rich mansions and tennis clubs in a rustic way that would befit the positively homegrown subjects of Goldsmith’s bucolic scores for the likes of “Lilies of the Field” and “A Patch of Blue” – yet given the strangeness of synths and fuzz guitars. As forbidden love arises between a reincarnated dad and his past life’s daughter, Goldsmith conveys a feeling of something that’s beautifully star-crossed and unholy at the same time, and finally tragic with a dash of his trademarked staccato action in a rush to pre-ordained fate. With its shockingly succinct ending, Goldsmith displays “Peter Proud” as one of his most bravura examples of shifting tones and orchestration for a score, and film that never descend into the obvious, instead finding a powerful, spookily lyrical twilight zone in between. Where Jerry Goldsmith fans thought “Peter Proud’s” score was lying in a watery grave for decades, Intrada resurrects his genre masterwork with far better sound than the muddy bootlegs of before, with half of the score in true stereo, and the other in affected mono, which only adds to its creepy quality. Goldsmith expert Jeff Bond and Intrada head Douglas Fake, who oversaw a similar release of the composer’s seemingly lost “Damnation Alley” for the label, provide a captivating history on this cult film and the way it was ultimately shown the sonic light of day.


A composer whose work burst with an epic sense of symphonic manliness and a hauntingly lush sense of history, Mario Nascimbine was also one of the first Italians to break the waves of scoring Hollywood pictures like “Alexander the Great,” “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Quiet American.” His touch at handling both widescreen scale and torrid emotion (latter from “Solomon and Sheba” to “One Million Years B.C.” made Nascimbine ideal to sail to Norway at the impressed request of star and producer Kirk Douglas for 1958’s “The Vikings,” Richard Fleischer’s exuberant entry into the sword and sandal genre as such – here tackling Norway’s famed marauders with as much authenticity as possible. No instrument was as synonymous with the Odin-worshipping warriors as the regal sound of a giant horn, whose brass presence gives Nascimbine his main theme that practically sings in its rising tone to the Valhalla, a majesty that plays into the royal blood of father Ernest Borgnine, his lusty one-eyed son Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis’ half brother by way of pillaging. Capturing the neo-biblical spectacle of Miklos Rozsa and presaging the likes of Basil Poledouris’ “Conan” in creating a sound of pure, unrelentingly advancing barbarian might, Nascimbene’s score is full of romantic, sword-swinging blood and glory that’s all about the joy of battle – its might impressively mapped out by “Lawrence of Arabia’s” Gerard Schurmann. The setting might be the fjords and shores of England, but the grand orchestral spirit is all about the Teutonic gods of Wagner. Carving out truly memorable motifs, Nascimbene’s “Niebelungen sound is exhilarating, throttling stuff as it veers between marauding and nobility as French horns trumpet wrath, drums pound out waves of sword-swinging berserkers with a wall of thematic orchestral might that fills the widescreen for all of its musical worth. Given that its original soundtrack was released back in the day with a decidedly unimpressive recording, it’s no wonder that producer James Fitzpatrick, conductor Nic Raine and The City of Prague Orchestra and Chorus wouldn’t want to pick up “The Viking’s” mighty oars again, especially after their rousing re-performances of such legendary epic scores likes of “Quo Vadis” and “The Alamo.” Their passion blazes like never before on this sumptuous rendition of Nascimbene’s great work (while adding a suite from “Barabbas” for good measure), with Frank K. DeWald’s always-informative liner notes adding to the score’s historical import. There’s no better music to once again light up a Viking funeral with a Valhalla’s hall worth of singing Valkyries.

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

NEWS: Ludwig Goransson, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt Win Academy Award in Music Categories

Soundtrack News - Ma, 25/02/2019 - 02:00
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the winners of [t.52355]The 91st Academy Awards[] tonight. The nominees and winners in the music categories are as follows: Best Original Score Winner: [m.41692]Black Panther[], [c.2269]Ludwig Goransson[] [m.52117]BlacKkKlansman[], [c.247]Terence Blanchard[] [m.52113]If Beale Street Could Talk[], [c.4631]Nicholas Britell[] [m.49258]Isle of Dogs[], [c.752]Alexandre Desplat[] [m.44578]Mary Poppins Returns[], [c.198]Marc Shaiman[] Best Original Song "All The Stars" from [m.41692]Black Panther[], Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth and Anthony Tiffith; Lyric by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Anthony Tiffith and Solana Rowe "I'll Fight" from [m.51570]RBG[], Music and Lyric by [c.]Diane...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: February 22

Soundtrack News - Za, 23/02/2019 - 02:00
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.519]Craig Armstrong[] ([m.55079]The One and Only Ivan[]), [c.257]Mychael Danna[] ([m.55080]Guest of Honour[]) and [c.423]David Hirschfelder[] ([m.55081]Ride Like a Girl[]), 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.2019-02-19]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.35214]How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World[] ([c.171]John Powell[]) and [m.53910]Run the Race[] ([c.408]Paul Mills[]). Expanding nationwide from its limited release last week is [m.51240]Fighting with My Family[] ([c.24425]Vik Sharma[]). We...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Joe Kraemer

Film Music Magazine News - Do, 21/02/2019 - 22:07

With dozens of films and television shows to his credits in a career launched with “Way of the Gun’s” cult explosion, composer Joe Kraemer has scored no end of see-it-to-believe it projects. From daredevil swings between conspiratorial suspense and Lalo Schifrin spy riffs on Christopher McQuarrie’s “Jack Reacher” and “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” to the scary second entries of “House of the Dead” and “Joyride,” not to mention the orgasmic thrills of Skinimax’s “Femme Fatale’s” anthology series and upending a TV spin on “The Poseidon Adventure,” Kraemer’s energetically melodic approach has made listeners believe in the improbable. But perhaps the biggest surprise of Kraemer’s career is not only making us believe that Sam Elliott is “The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot,” but giving these accomplishments dead dramatic seriousness as well the kind of gorgeous thematic resonance you’d expect in a John Williams score dealing with far more earthbound events.

Yet it’s exactly the unexpected that makes this “Man” stand out. Written and directed with slowly paced resonance by Robert D. Krzyowski in his feature debut, taking down an infamous dictator and an unfortunately afflicted primate aren’t the happiest affairs for the history-haunted Calvin Barr (Elliott), who’s most silently tormented by the happier, romantic road his life has not taken due to his special set of lethal tracking skills. Veering between a homespun naturalism worthy of a “Waltons” episode with more ferocious combat one might find in “The Dirty Dozen” and “Evil Dead,” Kraemer’s quite beautiful score effortlessly segues through time and emotion with its striking lyricism, where military action takes a turn into the sad poetry of aging. For if the people who know Calvin quite didn’t realize he had it in him, the same might be said for listeners familiar with Kraemer’s more ferocious music in this most unexpected of stories.

Joe Kraemer and Sam Elliott

Of course that doesn’t mean Kraemer isn’t up to his sly tricks, particularly with the seditious “Comrade Detective.” Produced in Eastern Europe but made by Yanks, this seditious, terribly dubbed procedural has Bulgaria’s greatest macho detectives taking down the evil pawns of democracy to Kraemer’s over-the-top, spot-on salutes to America cop TV kitsch as well lampooning the iconic work of numerous capitalist film composers. Then with the deliriously fun documentary “King Cohen,” Kraemer gets into a jazz-blaxploitation swing that’s all about the chutzpah of a prolific outlaw filmmaker. It’s music that captures a Deuce decade when anything was possible in the name of memorable exploitation and pure, jazzy moxie. In yet another feat that shows his stylistic dexterity, Kraemer’s lush re-score of F.W. Murnau’s classic 1927 film “Sunrise” again shows Kraemer’s talent with a full, lush orchestra for film music at its purest form, from a time when scoring truly had to tell a story – from a composer who’s shown an affinity for tall tales like never before.

How did you become involved in a film with one of the more outlandishly memorable titles in some time?

The writer-director Robert Krzykowski first reached out to me to score a short film he made, based on a comic strip he drew in college called “Elsie Hooper”. The short film was a black-and-white noir made with life-size puppets and was very unique and personal, so when he told me he had a script for a feature he wanted to make, I was braced for something out of the ordinary.

Sam Elliott and Robert D. Krzykowski

He sent me the script and some production art he’d done. I read the first 20 or so pages, and emailed him right away and accepted the job. I usually don’t read scripts at all (unless I need to write music for use during principal photography) because there can be such a big gap between what one reads in a pre-production script and how the finished film turns out, and I find this can interfere with the scoring process. But because of this title, I just had to read some of it. When I finally saw a cut of the movie, I was so impressed by Bob’s filmmaking. He made an independent movie that looks as good as a big Hollywood feature, with phenomenal performances from exceptional actors. I was most struck by the emotional heart of the film, which ran counter to the expectations the title evoked.

The film has a surprisingly naturalistic pace in spite of its outré elements. How important was it to capture that feeling of normalcy in a way that you could still plunge into the more fantastical scenes?

I think it was very important. I think if I had tried to fight the feelings and pace that the movie was built on, it would have felt false. As a composer, I always try to follow the film’s lead, sometimes within a specific scene, and sometimes looking at the film as a whole. I have to trust that the movie knows what it’s doing, if you will, and that by following the film, I’ll be able to help the director tell his or her story. Of course, sometimes I encounter a situation where I have to deviate from this aesthetic and help push the film in one direction or another, usually at the director’s request, to help drive home a point that for any number of reasons might be resonating as strongly with the audience as desired. On this film, it was usually the opposite. We were pulling back on the emotion in spots to make sure we didn’t overdo it for the audience.

What kind of gravitas do you think Sam Elliot gives to the film, and your score?

I think he captured perfectly the sense of a lifetime of exhaustion that Barr has endured, disappointment at the way things turned out, and resentment that he didn’t take certain actions when he had the chance.
Again, I try to let the film tell me what kind of music it needs, and with Sam’s performance at the center of the film, it obviously led the direction of the emotional arc of the movie, and the score too as a result.

Can you talk about your main themes, and how they suit the film’s bittersweet, if not often-melancholy idea of aging in deceptive anonymity?

Well, Barr’s principal theme is pensive piano melody, which grew from my reaction to the lonely, quiet life he’s living in the modern part of the story. There is a “Brotherhood” theme, which developed out of the relationship Calvin has with his brother, Ed (Larry Miller), and grows to encompass his feelings about a particular character he interacts with in the back half of the movie. I wrote a delicate theme for Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald), the love of his life, which is first introduced in the scene in the Hat Shop. They also have a love theme that is heard throughout the film, including a heartbreaking sequence involving letters she has written to Barr. There’s also a theme for the Bigfoot, which also relates to the FBI and the Canadian authorities. Finally, there is a theme I wrote, the purpose of which is more ambiguous, and deals with the desire to hang on to a single moment in time and make it last forever. I hope these themes are composed or arranged in such ways that they resonate with the scenes in question effectively.

The film has an interesting flashback structure between young Calvin (Aidan Turner) and old. How important was it for the music to tie the timelines together?

If the flashback structure is working for the film itself in a narrative way, then the score should also work if I go along with it. I think Bob did a terrific way of pivoting the audience into the flashbacks through visual turns, so the music didn’t really need to help out there. Maybe films like “The English Patient” and TV shows like “Lost” have opened me up to the liberties stories can take now with flashbacks, because it was never really something I worried about on this.

Tell us about scoring the assassination of Hitler?

For me, the key to the scenes with Hitler is a close-up shot of Hitler’s hand, shaking uncontrollably. Combining this with some information Barr gives us during an engrossing monologue about what it was like to carry out that mission led me to score you hear in those scenes with Hitler. Nervous, tense, frenetic, hopefully with a surprising humanity in the subtext for Barr’s character.

What was your approach to Bigfoot?

Sometimes I try to be clever. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, I took the notes B, G, and F and made a musical motif out of theme that became the music signifier for Bigfoot. Not only do we hear it during the brawl with the creature, but also earlier in the film, I used it to foreshadow the involvement of the FBI with Bigfoot, although this is one of the things we pulled out of the film during the mix, as we felt the audience could figure this out for themselves…

There’s a nice John Williams-esque feeling to your orchestration in your score. What kind of feeling do you think that composer brings to distinctly American films, and how did you want to capture that kind of homespun quality here?

I suppose I’ve been such an admirer of John Williams for such a long time that I can’t help but approach some of the situations I encounter as a composer with techniques I learned studying his work. But I also specifically referenced J.S. Bach in this score, as well as making allusions to Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, David Shire, and John Barry. I didn’t specifically set out to capture that homespun quality, as you eloquently put it, but rather, tried to make music that seemed appropriate for the scenes in question.

Onto way more obviously crazy material, your music from Amazon’s “Comrade Detective’s” score is getting an LP release. What kind of opportunity do you think that scoring a “fake” Bulgarian cop show gave you, especially as the villains were the purveyors of Capitalism and Democracy?

The fun thing about that project was that I got to pretend I was someone else. I imagined I was a composer living in the Soviet Union in the early 80’s and I’d been given this chance by the Communist regime to do a big score for their top show. As this imaginary composer, I was given the chance to subvert American propaganda being distributed through their action movies like “Bullit”, “First Blood” and the Rambo films, “Chinatown”, and TV shows like “The A-Team”, “Hill Street Blues”, and such.

Did you do a deep dive into older TV “cop” music in preparation for “Comrade Detective?” And just how goofy did you think you could get with that over-the-top approach?

I didn’t do any specific research per se, instead I relied on my memory of how those shows were scored, which kind of worked as I imagine the composer I was pretending to be would not have seen these shows more than once, and even then as bootleg video tapes smuggled into Communist Romania. But I didn’t purposely try to be goofy with the music. If I got big, it was because I imagined the filmmakers of this 80’s program would have wanted the audience to be invested in the importance of this show.

Kraemer conducts Comrade

You pay some hilariously obvious homages to composers like Jerry Goldsmith and John Barry with “Comrade Detective,” not to mention twisting Democracy’s most sacred anthems to villainy. Was that part of the fun?

Definitely. Perhaps the most obvious aspect of my career has been an association with a “retro” approach to scoring, and getting to use techniques that audiences enjoy hearing in Goldsmith and Barry scores was a lot fun. I also love putting clever little Easter eggs into my scores. So using famous American melodies, such as the National Anthem, in twisted kept me amused.

Having scored the adult anthology series “Femme Fatales,” what was it like to get to do a way more kid-friendly “Goosebumps”-esque show called “Creeped Out” for Netflix?

I loved it. I’m kind of a kid at heart, and I really love the late 70’s and early 80’s films and scores, and I keep returning to those when I listen to music or watch movies for fun in my down time. So having a chance to write music for Amblin-esque material, albeit through the lens of the BBC, was really terrific. The director I worked with most on the show was Steve Hughes, who comes from “Doctor Who” and “Casualty”, just to name a few, and together we really wanted to make each episode a sort of mini-tribute to a film or director we loved from the 80’s.

Another thoroughly enjoyable throwback score you did was for the documentary “King Cohen.” How did you want to capture the go-for-broke chutzpah of an “outlaw” writer-director whose career has gone from the golden age of television to today’s Hollywood?

Larry Cohen is such a larger-than-life character, that it was impossible not to go-for-broke with the music. Some of the music we did in the film was driven by effective temp music placed by the director, Steve Mitchell. Some of it was from me, reacting to Larry’s personality. Sometimes it was dictated by the time period being discussed in the film, or the film being covered.

Joe Kraemer and ‘King Cohen’ director Steve Mitchell

What do you think the appeal of Larry Cohen’s movies are, and how did you want to translate to music an oeuvre where you feel the filmmaker’s personality?

I think Larry Cohen makes movies that are genuine and honest expressions of who he is and what he’s trying to say, and the audience reacts to that. I think writers and directors who try and create a false impression of who they are, or make movies that aren’t really what they love or want to do, end up creating work that is false, and the audience can see through that too. In terms of his personality, I think Larry is a natural-born entertainer who is at his best when he has an audience to perform for. You see it in the movie, I’ve seen it in real life at screenings and signings, he engages the audience and draws them into what he’s doing, with humor at first, and then with sincerity for what his ultimate goal is, whether that’s to scare them with “It’s Alive”, address a social issue with “Bone”, or satirize commercialism and capitalism with “The Stuff”. He has a lot of energy as well, so I tried to create music that had energy, a sense of humor, but an underlying sincerity, and depending on the situation in the documentary, a sense of fear, a sense of justice, let’s say, or a sense of humor. Evoking those senses through music is the job of a good film composer, and I tried to use the skills I’ve developed in those areas as best I could.

King Cohen

With so many film clips in “King Cohen,” how did you want to reflect on the actual scores in his movies?

Documentary scoring can be different from narrative feature scoring in that sometimes the music has to serve a purely practical purpose, such as linking interviews between movie clips. Obviously, music rights prevent us from using the scores from the original Cohen films except in “fair use” clips, so I had to come up with pieces that could segue into and out of the film clips without infringing on the copyrights of the original scores but also without taking the audience out of the flow of the documentary. But any composer who survives in this business has to have some skill at listening to a temp score that a director loves and finding a way to create a new piece of music that satisfies the filmmaker without stealing from the temp.

One of your most interesting projects has been doing a new score for the classic silent movie “Sunrise.” How did this classic come your way, and what kind of musical opportunities did it present to you?

Up until 2016, I had never had anything I’d written for orchestra performed live in concert, and it was a dream of mine I was striving to realize. In March of that year, I got a call from composer Brian Satterwhite, asking me if I was interested in writing a score for a silent film to be performed “live-to-picture” in the fall. I immediately said yes. I have to thank my friend, Beth Krakower, for pointing Brian in my direction. She passed away last year, and it was heartbreaking for me, and my score for “Sunrise” will always remind me of her.

Beth Krakower

My favorite aspect of the music itself was the freedom to tell the story in the score. I actually really love the balance between sound and music in films, having worked in sound for years while I waited for scoring opportunities. I am always complaining that my score is mixed too loud in some scene, or that we have too much music in a movie, but with “Sunrise” it was all music, all the time. Combined with the very classic look of the film, I felt liberated as a composer to indulge in thematic, emotional writing that had kind of vanished from live-action dramas in the 2000’s. You still hear it in animation, and some kids films, but this was a chance to just go for it one hundred percent.

What’s the trick to writing in the style of a 1927 score, from your way of embodying exactly what’s happening on screen to capturing the jazz age influences?

I don’t know if there was a “trick” per se. I tried to write music that felt honest to the film, music that didn’t clash with what I was seeing on screen. I guess the biggest factor in my decision-making was choosing the instruments to be used in the ensemble. By avoiding any synths or “modern” sounds like guitars or a drum set, the music had a certain accuracy to the film in terms of instrumentation. There is a character in the film referred to as “The Woman” or “The Other Woman” and she dresses in what for 1927 was considered very flashy clothing, a “flapper” haircut and the dress and heels that go with the look. That to me evoked an association with “rooty-tooty” clarinets and Gershwin and such. Another sequence has the central couple of the story dancing at a fancy restaurant to a brass band in a waltz, and the music for that sequence was determined to a large degree by the instruments seen on screen, the tempo the on-screen bandleader sets and at which the couple dance, and the kind of dancing they do. There are plenty of moments in the film where I do something that a composer from 1927 would not have done, things that are more modern than that, but I always tried to make sure those moments felt honest to the emotional intent of the movie.

As an especially busy composer, what’s coming up for you?

Joe Kraemer at Abbey Road Studios

I’m planning very soon to score a film for Lucky McKee, who I met when he produced “The Man Who Killed Hitler and the the Bigfoot.” Later this year, I’ll be working with Marcus Ovnell, a Swedish filmmaker, on a fantastic family-oriented film he’s currently editing called “Faunutland.” I also do a lot of work with a British organization called Big Finish, and they make Doctor Who audio dramas. With 50-plus years of history, the Doctor Who universe has endless story potential, and actors from the show’s history come in and do radio plays for CD, Audible and such. I do scores for those whenever I have time, they keep me busy and they give me a chance to work on a property I’ve loved since I was a kid.

Having gotten such a wide, stylistic range of film and television to score, is there any approach you’re still looking to play?

I think I’ve made it pretty obvious over the years that I’d love to score a “Star Wars” movie. I came pretty close with one, actually, but it wasn’t to be. Maybe one day? I guess rather than any one musical style, I’d just like to continue working on films that have something to say for the audience. I’ve been really lucky with “The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot” to have a canvas on which to paint a very emotionally satisfying picture.

Returning to “The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot.” do you think this score shows about what you’re melodically capable of as a composer, especially as its title is about the pre-conception of what kind of movie and score you expect, but then actually get?

I do the best job I can with every opportunity I get, whether it’s a film like this with a crazy title that yields a heartwarming story, or a popcorn-entertainment like “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation.” Looking back at the past five or six years of my career, I see lots of turning points for my growth. I suppose “Hitler and Bigfoot” feels to me like a kind of fruition of seeds I planted in my work on “Sunrise.” I don’t really have any expectations of where my career is headed, I don’t actually believe one can control that kind of thing, so I just keep studying, keep practicing, and keep working. I trust the universe to take care of the rest.

“The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot” is now playing on Amazon iTunes and other VOD outlets HERE, with Joe Kraemer’s score available soon on La La Land Records.

Tune into the music of “Comrade Detective” on Lakeshore Records HERE, then get the blu ray / cd combo of “King Cohen” on La La Land Records HERE

Joe Kraemer’s score for “Sunrise” is available on Caldera Records HERE. Listen to other Joe Kraemer scores HERE

Visit Joe Kraemer’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Lakeshore Records to Release 'The Dragon Prince' Soundtracks

Soundtrack News - Di, 19/02/2019 - 02:00
Lakeshore Records has announced the upcoming release of both the season one and season two soundtracks to the Netflix Original Series [m.53165]The Dragon Prince[] with original music from [c.1540]Frederik Wiedmann[]. [m.53165]The Dragon Prince[] is an original animated series produced by Wonderstorm for Netflix. Season one premiered in September, 2018 and immediately topped popularity lists across Rotten Tomatoes, Google, and Tumblr. Lauded for the diversity of its characters and its deeply layered storytelling, the show was renewed for a second season less than a month after its debut. The mix of action, adventure and humor attracted genre fans, families, teens and animation fans of all ages. Season 2 premieres on February 15 with...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Varese Sarabande Announces 'House of Cards' Season 6 Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Za, 16/02/2019 - 02:00
Varèse Sarabande celebrates President's Day with the release of [a.25109]House of CardsSeason 6 - Original Netflix Series Soundtrack[]. The album features the original music composed by [c.674]Jeff Beal[]. The digital album is available now at online retailers, while the CD is a exclusive. All 500 CDs of the limited run are signed by the Emmy Award-Winning composer. Soundtracks to seasons 1-5 of [m.33760]House of Cards[] are also available from Varèse Sarabande. "It's with great pleasure I bring you our final installment of music from [m.33760]House of Cards[]." Said composer [c.674]Jeff Beal[] about the conclusion of the award winning show. "Our show was about politics, but I always felt it was also about...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: 9th Guild of Music Supervisors Awards Winners Announced

Soundtrack News - Vr, 15/02/2019 - 02:00
The 9th Guild of Music Supervisors Awards were handed out last night at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. The nominees and winners in the major film/TV music categories are as follows: BEST MUSIC SUPERVISION FOR FILMS BUDGETED OVER 25 MILLION DOLLARS Winner: [c.3969]Julia Michels[] and [c.4291]Julianne Jordan[] for [m.47155]A Star is Born[] [c.1013]Dave Jordan[] for [m.41692]Black Panther[] [c.3940]Becky Bentham[] for [m.49194]Bohemian Rhapsody[] [c.9803]Michael Higham[] and [c.13925]Paul Gemignani[] for [m.44578]Mary Poppins Returns[] [c.8930]Wende Crowley[] for [m.45383]Peter Rabbit[] BEST MUSIC SUPERVISION FOR FILMS BUDGETED UNDER 25 MILLION DOLLARS [c.5071]Howard Paar[] for [m.50400]Can You Ever Forgive Me?[] [c.4711]Buck Damon[] for...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Audio: Interview with Junkie XL

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 13/02/2019 - 20:47

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

Pushing the outer limits of music from the alternative concert stage to the multiplex film screen, Junkie XL (alias Tom Holkenborg) has made an impressive career on sound and fury. Whether his subject is Elvis, Mad Max, Batman or Deadpool, Junkie XL has shown his rhythmic dexterity in instruments both ancient and state of the art, while also banging on the pieces salvaged from the trash heap. With “Alita: Battle Angel”, Junkie recovers an object of beauty from the cast-offs of future tech. His discovery is a big-eyed cyborg super-heroine whose past domain was a cult Manga series. Now turned from Japanese illustration to Hollywood flesh and blood by director Robert Rodriguez and producer-writer James Cameron, “Alita” takes her own musical path to humanity.

Quite different from the often ferocious percussion that Junkie XL has given to super-powered icons, “Alita” sings the body electric with a gorgeously melodic score, with emotionally resonant strings and haunted voices taking the composer’s style to a new, epically lush frontier. With gliding themes both epic and intimate, Junkie finds no ghost in the machine, but instead of beating, soulful heart. But of course, brass and rock rhythms are ready to do scoring battle for “Alita” in the film’s cyborg-smashing Thunderdome, where Junkie unleashes full-throttle action. It’s an impressive, old school evolution for a composer pushing the cutting edge for some of pop culture’s wildest creations. Now on a new podcast of On the Score, a composer with a distinctive voice at conveying a warrior’s mettle reflects on his passionately powered, heavenly sound for “Alita: Battle Angel.”

Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to Download

Buy the Soundtrack: ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL Buy the Soundtrack: MORTAL ENGINES Buy the Soundtrack: MAD MAX FURY ROAD Visit Junkie XL’s “Studio Time” YouTube Page Visit Junkie XL’s website

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga & Lukas Nelson Win at 72nd BAFTA Awards

Soundtrack News - Ma, 11/02/2019 - 02:00

Earlier today, the 72nd British Academy Film Awards were given out at the Royal Opera House in London. The nominees and winners in the music category were as follows:

Original Music:
[m.52117]BlacKkKlansman[] - [c.247]Terence Blanchard[]
[m.52113]If Beale Street Could [] - [c.4631]Nicholas Britell[]
[m.49258]Isle of Dogs[] - [c.752]Alexandre Desplat[]
[m.44578]Mary Poppins Returns[] - [c.198]Marc Shaiman[]
Winner: [m.47155]A Star Is Born[] - [c.19386]Bradley Cooper[], [c.19387]Lady Gaga[], [c.]Lukas...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: February 8

Soundtrack News - Za, 09/02/2019 - 02:00
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.147]David Newman[] ([m.54910]West Side Story[]), [c.361]Brian Tyler[] ([m.54912]Swamp Thing[]) and [c.3705]Rich Vreeland[] ([m.54913]Triple Frontier[]), 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.2019-02-05]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.52878]Cold Pursuit[] ([c.64]George Fenton[]), [m.43693]The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part[] ([c.139]Mark Mothersbaugh[]), [m.52995]The Prodigy[] ([c.1418]Joseph Bishara[]) and [m.51091]What Men Want[] ([c.361]Brian Tyler[]). We are tracking song credits for the...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Patrick Doyle's 'All Is True' Soundtrack Released

Soundtrack News - Za, 09/02/2019 - 02:00
Sony Music proudly announces the release of [a.25084]All Is True (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[] featuring original music by Oscar-nominee [c.50]Patrick Doyle[]. Of the soundtrack, composer [c.50]Patrick Doyle[] says: "I have the great fortune of a long-standing working relationship with Kenneth Branagh, which has been a huge pleasure and very fruitful. Kenneth kindly asked me to score the picture, [m.54094]All Is True[], and I readily agreed. I loved the script and, of course, with the knowledge that Ken and Judy would be playing William and Anne, I knew it would be electric and historic. The schedule was very tight and I was sent the rushes every day, composing hot on the heels of the cut. This included two songs...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Lakeshore Records Announces 'What Men Want' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Vr, 08/02/2019 - 02:00
Lakeshore Records is set to release [a.25110]What Men Want--Music From The Motion Picture[] digitally February 8. The original score was composed by [c.361]Brian Tyler[] ([m.34056]Avengers: Age of Ultron[], [m.50345]Crazy Rich Asians[]). A fresh take on the comedy classic [m.28166]What Women Want[], the Paramount Pictures film was directed by Adam Shankman, and stars Taraji P. Henson, Tracy Morgan, Josh Brener, Aldis Hodge and Erykah Badu opens in theaters February 8. Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is a successful sports agent who's constantly boxed out by her male colleagues. When Ali is passed up for a well-deserved promotion, she questions what else she needs to do to succeed in a man's world... until she gains the ability to hear...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Jeff Russo

Film Music Magazine News - Do, 07/02/2019 - 02:53
(photo by Cliff Lipson, CBS)

Much like the shape shifting of a certain multiple identity mutant that he scores, the Emmy-Winning TV-centric composer Jeff Russo has shown no end to his ability to morph across the small screens brave new worlds. Hailing from a Grammy-nominated background with the band Tonic, Russo has shown no end of personages from the murderously loopy miscreants who populate “Fargo” to “Waco’s” apocalyptic cult leader and the lethal club kingpins of “Power.” But no playing field affords Russo such notable creativity as the genre, whether it be the body-swapping surreal atmosphere of “Altered Carbon” the devilish antics of “Lucifer,” “Ghosted” and “The Santa Clarita Diet” or creating an alternate musical world from the other-earth agent of “Counterpart.”


2019 have given a noteworthy blast-off for Russo. Not only is he saving humanity from the vampire plague of “The Passage” alongside frequent collaborator Jordan Gagne, but Russo has also impressively returned to the commander’s chair with “Star Trek: Discovery” while steering a woefully dysfunctional band of ex-superheroes known as “The Umbrella Academy.” Coming on board a television starship whose post-classic incarnations had a prime directive order of bland scoring, Russo invigorated the small-screen franchise with the kinds of big themes, and melody that hadn’t been heard in that TV universe for decades. Now with a new “Discovery” season leavened with humor decidedly missing from the show’s deceptively bleak start, Russo is going boldly with terrifically exciting, and humane music that show creator Gene Roddenberry would no doubt be happy with – from a John Williams-worthy flight through a meteor shower to a sense of mysticism for a mysterious angel-like figure that haunts both Michael Berman (Sonequa Martin-Green) and her “brother” Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck). It’s a return of O.G. characters to a Kelvin universe that also gives Russo the chance to capture the heroism of a fully mobile Captain Pike (Anson Mount).

A far wackier approach worthy of Russo’s “Legion,” if not the eccentricity of “Fargo,” is “The Umbrella Academy. Adapted by Netflix from Gerard Way’s Dark Horse comic, this smash-up between “The Incredibles,” “Johnny Quest” and any number or ironic, dysfunctional avengers finds a band of lethal child superheroes brought together by the death of their sadistic English explorer mentor. Grown into woeful adulthood, the collective that includes a gorilla-powered leader, a drug addicted clairvoyant and a time-warped kid assassin must somehow unite to prevent The Apocalypse. Russo’s richly thematic, violin-topped score does much to distinguish each basket case. Whether using cheerfully chirping bells to rock guitars or more traditional orchestral fisticuffs, Russo’s witty emo score captures how children who were once the idols of millions end up as truly screwed grown ups. It’s a powerful, poignant approach that still delivers on ironic, ultra-violent hipness as well as Marvel-worthy save the world stuff.

Whether he’s warping to a new quadrant of the universe of showing the blackly humorous workings of the time continuum, Russo’s ever-prolific work continues to run with inventiveness and energy, creating some of the most thrilling television scoring out there while also making cinematic inroads. Now Russo expounds on his musical team spirit, whether said groups are united by a Federation, or neuroses.

I felt that every TV incarnation from “The Next Generation” onwards had music that wasn’t memorable, a “wallpaper” approach that was the producers’ Prime Directive. What was it like to bring back actual themes, and scoring that truly did something to the franchise since its original series? And had they asked you to take the same approach as the Trek shows before, do you think you could have even done “Discovery?”

I don’t know what I would’ve done. Early on, I had a meeting with the producers where I had a concept in terms of how to approach the musicality of the show. They were on board because their original idea also was “Hey, we need to bring back what music means to this franchise, what music does to the story.” It was certainly more in line what the franchise does from the films than it did from the last few iterations of the show. It’s not that the last iterations weren’t great, because the themes and music that composers like Dennis McCarthy and Ron Jones did were amazing. “Discovery” just wanted to bring thematic music back into the show so music would be a real part of it as opposed to just “wallpaper.”

In any show I score, I want music to have an emotional core. I write music based on what I think and see a character feeling rather than what I see that character doing. It’s an approach that has more of an undertone, an undercurrent emotional base that than what I’d think you’d expect. Had “Discovery” wanted to go in the other direction, I don’t know what I would have done.

Photo by Cliff Lipson, CBS

I wasn’t a big fan of how “Discovery’s” first season started out, with episodes that were way too violent. But then, it really won me over in the second half with its switch to adventure, and an attempt at peace with the Klingons. Were you aware of the overall arch when you started the show, and how did you intend to reflect that tonal “course correction” as such?

I have to deal with stories as they come in and to also think about what the endgame is pretty much at all times. It’s difficult to address fan concerns and people who don’t know what’s coming, especially how things are on a certain episode when I’m thinking about 10 episodes ahead. There was always this idea about how we were going to end Season 1, and how that was going to affect the jumping off point for what Season 2 was going to be. I’m assuming that the producers deliberately chose this “Kelvin” timeframe leading up to seeing The Enterprise, and how that timeline would affect the way we’d continue to tell “Discovery” stories. I needed to manage the music for the Klingon war, so there was always this big overarching feeling about how to approach storytelling for the long term. I try to keep that in mind when writing music as I continue to go back and say, “Okay, so how I do this one theme in this one episode will affect something that I’m going to need to do again, perhaps in Episode 11 when this and that happens.” I need to think about the whole thing in order to keep it all of the music tied together.

Do you think there were any lessons learned from Season 1 in terms of making Season 2’s story more tonally consistent?

I think that we as storytellers do the best that we can to come from an honest and emotional place. The beginning of Season 1 was fashioned in a deliberate way in how it was going to lead into its second half. We want to make “Discovery’s” new season a swashbuckling adventure, rather than a story of war, which has affected everybody’s idealism. Now we’ve become a more swashbuckling-adventure type of show with Season 2, and I’m trying to mirror that in the music. I think that’s a somewhat natural progression of how “Discovery’s” story is being told.

What was it like to get the O.G. characters of Captain Pike and Mr. Spock with Season 2?

It’s totally thrilling! At the end of Episode 15, you hear the bridge crew saying that there’s a message coming from the Enterprise and it’s Captain Pike! I threaded in Alexander Courage’s classic “Star Trek” fanfare for that moment. That was thrilling for me, even though I knew it was going to happen. I even got a tear in my eye! I threaded Alexander Courage’s classic “Star Trek” fanfare into the scene, which was as a nod to a new season in which we’d get to know Captain Pike. I thought how I was going to represent him musically. He has an aura about him that is really bright, and I wanted to represent that. You also have moments of seeing a younger Spock, in Season 2’s premiere, which was also exciting for me. I’ve been a “Star Trek” fan for my entire life, and we hadn’t seen Spock on the show since they had him years ago on “The Next Generation.” I practically lost my mind to see him coming back as a viewer, so I can imagine the same thing is happening for everyone on the show, to have these iconic characters as part of the storytelling process. It’s pretty incredible.


The second episode of Season 2 brought the names of actual religions into the franchise, which might be a first.

I talked to the producers about how to musically approach that aspect without sounding religious at the same time. Star Trek has always been about us trying to be grounded as we possibly can to tell the Human Story. I look at that as spirituality, which really doesn’t stray too much from the show’s ethos. It’s all about how you perceive religion from a literal standpoint, I think it’s always been spiritual instead of being directly religious.

Your other big “team” score this month is “The Umbrella Academy.” Do you think that doing so many off kilter shows like “Fargo” and “Legion” has set you up well for an eccentric superhero series that plays like Wes Anderson meeting The X-Men.

I think that “The Umbrella Academy’s” eccentricity comes from the way these really interesting individual characters are written and performed. I just really had to support that from, as I usually say over and over again, an emotional space. There’s a lot of emotion in the way the story unfolds and the relationships between this “family” and their father. The show is relatively close to the original comic book and its left-of-center feeling. The idea is that if these superhero characters were real people, then what would they be like? That was the most interesting storytelling part to me. But they’re also real people who fall in love and make real mistakes. The only thing that is really above reality is their powers. Everything else feels very grounded and very real. I think that that juxtaposition is what makes “The Umbrella Academy” feel like it’s very much in line with Wes Anderson’s kind of storytelling. He tends to write and direct from a real place, and that’s the thing that makes his films feel so oddball.

Can you talk about your thematic approaches to the various characters?

These are really deep characters, so I thought it would be a good idea to sort of start out by writing an overall suite of music that could represent them as a unit. Doing that made it so much easier for me to build the score over the course of the ten episodes in a way where my themes could really grow with these characters—starting with Vanya, and her solo violin theme, which then becomes an apocalyptic symphony that is the culmination of the show. The piece is called “The White Violin.” At the same time, I was also writing motifs for the characters that were added to the series.

Another interesting “family” series as such deals with “vampires” for “The Passage.” What’s it been like scoring that show?

It’s a score I did with Jordan Gagne. We had done two versions of the pilot because it changed, which often happens with pilots. The redone version of it was much better, which let us change the score from the ground up. Our “vampires” are called “virals,” because they have this virus that makes them vampiric. The challenge was trying to keep an emotional beat for an action-oriented show, especially as “action” music doesn’t really interest me that much. We played a lot less of that, and it worked out really well because there’s an emotional core to the show where there are a lot of related characters that need to be linked together thematically. There’s the kid and her reaction to this father figure whom she’s rebelling against. She’s got a lot of weight on her shoulders, so the question is how do you represent that through music? It’s been somewhat of a challenge but we’re getting there!

You’ve maintained a consistent quality through the numerous television series that you’ve scored. How important is a team to achieving that, as well as you writing your own music?

The commitment to writing the music is there, but we do work as a team. I couldn’t possibly do this by myself. I spend 12 hours a day writing for each show, but it takes a village to make these scores happen. So I take a very concerted team approach to this thing, because I don’t think it can be done without it. I’ve got an assistant who helps edit and rearrange scores based on the themes that I’ve written. It really runs the gamut of things that get done from the top down.

You recorded a lot of “Discovery’s” first season at The Bridge scoring stage, which unfortunately has since closed. What do you think about its loss, and what it says about recording in Los Angeles now?

Without The Bridge It’s been difficult, I did most of “Discovery” at Warner Brothers, while also using The Bridge. Now with one less scoring stage it does make it a difficult conundrum when it comes to recording music. I’m not sure what happened, but it could be many factors that led to the Bridge being shut down. With television there is a lot of sink or swim with new shows. And if there’s a hiatus, then there’s nothing new to record for quite a while. At the end of the day it’s a business. But it’s really unfortunate that it happened.

Besides television work you’ve been scoring films as well like “Mile 22” and “Lizzy.” How do you get your voice out there as a composer with the same success that you have on television?


I’m not sure I look at it that way, because I treat TV scores in the same way I treat film scores. I was asked to do “Lizzie” because its director Craig William Macneill had worked with me before on the show “Channel Zero.” Pete Berg called me after watching Season 2 of “Fargo,” even though “Mile 22” was nothing like that show! Now I’m working on “Lucy in the Sky,” which stars Natalie Portman, and is directed by “Fargo’s” Noah Hawley. It’s thrilling to be doing movies that are entirely different from television work, especially in terms of their more relaxed schedule. But in terms of my approach and desire, I want to continue to write music and make art. That’s the great thing about being able to jump from one medium to the next. I get to use different parts of my brain and shake my cobwebs loose, where I get to score an episode of “Discovery” and then get to mix a song for “Legion” in the same day.

What shows are coming up for you?

We have just finished the new season of “Santa Clarita Diet,” and the second season of “Altered Carbon” will begin shooting soon. The final season of “Legion” should be starting in April, which I’ll be getting to work on as soon as I finish “Discovery.”

When you look at all of the work you’ve done, how do you feel your music is reflected in how television itself is becoming a more challenging medium?

Photo by Justine Ungaro

I think it all depends on the show. Not every show is like a movie. Some shows are “television” shows, like “The Passage” which is written in an episodic way. “Star Trek” has a musical approach that’s very cinematic, for a show that is really shot for the big screen with all of its special effects. But it has an overarching story in the same way that “Fargo” does with each season. When music takes center stage like that on a series, it becomes part of the overall art form. I think more and more, people are making television like that.

Watch the second season of “Star Trek: Discovery” on HERE and “The Umbrella Academy” on Netflix, starting February 15th HERE.

Buy the Season 1 soundtrack of “Star Trek: Discovery” on Lakeshore Records HERE. Lakeshore releases “The Umbrella Academy” soundtrack on February 15th HERE

Buy Jeff Russo’s soundtracks HERE

Visit Jeff Russo’s website HERE

Thanks to Alexander Portillo for his interview transcription

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

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