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Audio: Interview with Brian Tyler

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(Photo by Aris Stoulil)

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

From the explosive rhythmic action of such franchise as “The Fast and the Furious” and “The Expendables” to the orchestral fury of gods and monsters in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “The Mummy,” composer Brian Tyler’s prolific Hollywood resume has no shortage of testosterone-fueled, music. But if he seems like a composer whose swing is in racing cars, letting bullets fly with rock and roll or bringing on the symphonic thunder, Tyler can just as powerfully conjure a feminine spirit on a fabulously wealthy Oriental dance floor. Where Tyler certainly explored that ethnicity in such scores as “War,” “Bangkok Dangerous” and “Tokyo Drift,” this time the tone is universally romantic as a beautiful American professor is swept up to Singapore by her humble, equally gorgeous beau – only to discover he’s beyond wealthy. As our heroine navigates an otherwise good guy’s snobbish relatives and conceited friends, Tyler unleashes gorgeous, lush romance that’s his most heartfelt and unexpected scoring yet. Just as impressive in his new film for director Jon M. Chu is taking the caper groove of their last pairing on “Now You See Me 2” into a wild variety of styles that cut a rug from swing to big band brass and whistling Latin rhumbas to create a soundtrack packed with sly comedy, swooning melody and jazz the world over.

On far more musically masculine American terrain, if just as unexpected, is Tyler’s music for Paramount’s smash TV show “Yellowstone.” Here the lust for money and power demands a far more violent price as Tyler evokes the majestically tragic orchestral sound of a traditional western, then crosses it with a modern, lyrical sound to show how past feuds are angrily alive in the present – an opportunity to play straight-up, mournful family drama and the lush, lyrical vastness of a vanishing prairie in a landscape that shows just how many styles there are in the composer’s prolific repertoire.

(L)Brian Tyler plays with Enchanting China (R) Brian Tyler conducts his music at Enchanting China (photos by Stefania Rosini)

Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Brian Tyler talks about spanning the globe to capture the jazzily romantic and emotionally darker sides of wealth and power with his newly revealing scores for “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Yellowstone.”

Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to Download

Buy the Soundtrack: CRAZY RICH ASIANS Buy the Soundtrack: YELLOWSTONE (available August 17th) Buy the Soundtrack: NOW YOU SEE ME 2 Buy the Soundtrack: PANIC / FITZGERALD Visit Brian Tyler’s Website
Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Fabio Frizzi

Wo, 08/08/2018 - 22:04

In the rich horror history of hands-free dolls wreaking bloody mayhem, there’s no more iconic troupe of terror than the pummeling, razor-wielding, head-burrowing creations belonging to Andre Toulon. First unleashed from the mind of Charles Band, a genre impresario with a big love for all creatures small, 1989’s “Puppet Master” was an instant smash for his pioneering direct-to-video label Full Moon Entertainment. Wound up by brother Richard Band’s circus-like theme and scores, the increasingly outrageous and weapon-fitted puppets inspired numerous sequels and soundtracks as they and their inventor transformed from pure evil to Nazi-busting heroes.

But if budgetary restrictions were the biggest foe when it came to holding these puppets down, the gloves are now outrageously off like never before with “Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich.” In rebooting Band’s most famous property, writer S. Craig Zahler (best known as the eviscerating, head-smashing director of his scripts for “Bone Tomahawk” and “Bawl in Cell Block 99”) wipes out any thought of the puppets as anti-fascist avengers. Here, Andre Toulon (played with typically fiendish drollness by Udo Kier) is a good Nazi with a Trump worthy mad-on towards religious and sexual undesirables. Pumped full of lead in a prologue, his very much alive toys are unleashed upon a current-day fanboy convention of those who’ve followed his infamy. Given a game cast that includes “We’re the Millers’” Thomas Lennon, “Streets of Fire’s” Michael Pare and “Re-Animator’s” Barbara Crampton, “Wither” co-directors Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund run with the resist metaphors and political incorrectness to the extreme as the increasingly diminishing heroes fight off pint-sized, unholy embodiments of the right wing – propelled by noticeably better production value on a still small scale.

Given the involvement of the now-rebirthing Fangoria brand as a presenter, the gore is pushed to gloriously, ludicrously offensive limits. Yet there’s also something quite lyrical about a moaning, marching and melodic score that’s almost positively, classily European given the “Reich’s” mayhem. Perhaps that’s because composer Fabio Frizzi is more than used to drawing equal attention to his music even as the blood and blood brain matter pile up on the screen. Hailing from a film and music loving, Frizzi was classically trained before first becoming prolific in cop actioners and comedies. But it was by finding his visceral muse in iconic Italian goremeister Lucio Fulci that Frizzi became renowned for his gravely disturbing, yet somehow tuneful work on such cult classics as “Zombi,” “The Beyond,” “Manhattan Baby” and “The Psychic.” Frizzi, along with such fellow artists as Claudio Simonetti and the band Goblin (“Deep Red,” “Suspiria”) helped pioneer a progressive horror sound that blended rock, eerie synths hypnotic rhythm and memorably twisted themes that would play over scenes as opposed to outrightly commenting on their fear. Frizzi’s music has inspired new generations of horror-loving composers from Christopher Young (“Hellraiser”) to Joseph Bishara (“The Conjuring”), with a progressive spirit now possessing a new genre scoring rage with “It Follows” and “Stranger Things.” It’s a stylistic rebirth that’s seen Frizzi make an acclaimed international tour with his live, re-envisioned score for “The Beyond,” and now impressively take the invigorated reigns of an American fan favorite series.

Richard Band took a circus-like approach to his “Puppet Master” scores, a style picked up by many of the composers who’d follow through the unkillable series. And while Fulci is sure to salute his iconic theme over the end credits, “The Littlest Reich” stands as perhaps its most melodic effort. A deceptively sweet, waltz-like melody for Toulon drives most of the score, the theme showing up in sequences where one might expect far more aggressive handling would be the way to go. Where aggressive guitar playing, rhythmic voices and creeping synths recalls Frizzi’s classics, his “Puppet Master” is also made of more somber, haunting stuff, with its throbbing synth strings and glistening bells – yet certainly slaying for the occasion with fascist percussion and unstoppable vocal rhythm. It’s an impressively thematic, often ironically contrasting approach to the insanity onscreen that shows Frizzi’s killer instincts are as lethal as ever, just waiting to spring forth for the horror genre that he helped give new musical lifeblood to.

Tell us about your musical beginnings, and what attracted you to become a film composer, with a particular talent for eccentric subjects?

The passion for music was something innate. Everyone in the family was passionate. I remember the choirs we did together in the car, going to the beach, when I was 5 or 6 years. The work of my father is the other half. He was in love with cinema and became a young protagonist of the industry. I grew up having available discs of Italian composers like Carlo Rustichelli, Nino Rota, Armando Trovaioli and Ennio Morricone. When I started the profession, there was a great flowering of the genre. The range of possibilities was wide. And the imagination was vivid, young and instinctive.

Most Americans became aware of your music during your collaboration with Lucio Fulci on movies like “Zombi,”The Beyond” and “Cat in the Brain.” Could you tell us about what made that partnership so enduring?

Lucio is often described as a very difficult person and, especially at work, perhaps he was. But he was a man of deep feelings. I was the youngest collaborator of all his crew and I had great respect for his role (obviously) and for him as a person. The years passed, but our relationship largely remained largely the same, opening the door to a side of friendship. And then, probably, he must have liked my way of writing music for his films.

If you had a style of music for the genre, how would you describe it?

While my approach has never changed, it has grown up with me. It is a mix of many elements, of many thoughts, doubts and solutions, like it would be in the workshop of a craftsman. Music, especially that for cinema, must have a mood. I love rock, classical music, synthesizers, melody and, good musicians.

Italian horror was far nastier and unforgiving than its American cousins. How do you think your music added to that terrifying, eerie and “real” feeling? And what part do you think you played in the renaissance of progressive-rock-synth scores that was typified by artists like you and Goblin?

It was not easy at the beginning to find the right way to interpret that kind of horror musically. The key is to make the score become a protagonist of the story, one of the actors. With some directors and with Fulci in particular this happened. On the rebirth of these scores the internet was fundamental. The fans were able to exchange opinions, find soundtracks and expand their collections. We all had the opportunity to talk to and enjoy each other on this stage and give each other a big “hug.”

Though you’ve certainly scored many different types of genres, were you happy to essentially be known around the world as a “horror” composer?

I think it’s beautiful that love appears in some way. I am proud of this recognition and gives me a great pleasure that many of my fans and connoisseurs rediscover slowly, almost in disbelief, many other things I’ve written. And sometimes they those scores love very much.

What was it like for you to do live shows in America, especially when it came to performing “The Beyond” live to picture before packed audiences at London’s Barbican and Hollywood’s Egyptian theaters?

It gave me very strong emotions. The esteem and affection I found in America are things that impressed me, along with my collaborators. “The Beyond Composer’s Cut” was born from the idea of extending the original score of the film to make it enjoyable as a sort of film version in concert, a type of show that would have great emotional impact. And the peculiarity is that I came to America to experience the result. The packed Egyptian Theater was a great prize.

Did it make you especially honored to find that major American genre composers like Joseph Bishara and Christopher Young considered you a big influence on your work – not to mention Quentin Tarantino using “The Psychic” as a bit part of his “Kill Bill”” soundtrack?

Chistopher Young, Fabio Frizzi and Joseph Bishara

Well, this is one of the aspects that excites me the most, the influences. From those in the shadows to the striking ones. I remember that several years ago I received a message from a US boy who told me that he had saved himself from a life at risk by becoming passionate about my themes and becoming a valued musician. The esteem and friendship of many protagonists of the American music and film scene honors me very much. Joseph, for example, is a very strong musician and it is fantastic to know that he counts me among his musical influences.

How did you become involved with “Puppet Master: Littlest Reich?” And do you think your history of scoring insanely gory movies had anything to do with it?

I have many friends in America, and among them some great admirers. These include Brian Hacket, a live audio engineer who works with many productions. He had seen a strong connection between my story and that production (to which he collaborated) and spoke with Dallas Sonnier, the producer. Some emails were exchanged and the game started!

Before diving in to “Reich,” did you watch any of the past films in the “Puppet Master” series? And did anything strike you about how they were scored?

I obviously knew the series, but I had only seen the first one. I liked the original 1989 movie’s theme by Richard Band. I always found it very apt. And poetic.

How did you think this “Puppet Master” was different from its predecessors while still paying homage to it?

For a long time I have been following the activity of Cinestate and the collaboration between Dallas Sonnier and Craig Zahler. Their working group produces things of great quality and above all of strong personality. I was sure that even in this case, the identity of the project would be strong.

It struck me that your score is more straightly melodic than other “Puppet Masters,” especially in how you use a waltz-like theme as opposed to going for the circus-y feel of the past scores. Do you think there’s a classical elegance to it that captures the kind of evil “refinement” that Andre Toulon had?

Actually the theme in 3/4 that I wrote and that appears in the opening credits wants to be a tribute to the historical Richard Band theme. The nickname that we have attributed to it was the “Carousel theme”, as if it were a music that remembers this “game” as one of perverse destiny, a game that we all participate in, with nobody excluded. It ‘s definitely a theme with a melody that wants to be remembered and I think that if the viewer gets attached to a musical cell and brings it home in his memory, it will also be good for the movie. Sometimes an evocative melody can be essential.

Could you tell us about your other themes?

There is the theme of Blade, the most representative puppet. The musical moment of his meeting with Edgar, the protagonist, is the first song I wrote. It is an essential but important scene, which tells a lot of the story, almost the vain attempt to establish an impossible relationship. I liked it a lot and I started from there. Another theme dedicated to the Toulon Mansion and to the description of its mysteries and protagonist, for which I used abaritone guitar. There are two themes that tell the story, one based on Mellotron, in my tradition, the other a sort of tragic military march. And finally a musical moment made of sounds, rhythms, sequencers and synthesizers that tells the moments of deaf fear.

Did you want the Nazi element of the Puppets to play into the score, as well as the Jewish factor of its heroes?

It is inevitable that the audience will look for artistic musical styles and they could not miss elements of this kind.

How much of your “Italian horror” past did you want to bring to this score, especially when it came to the use of voice and rock-like percussion?

When you are facing a new project of a genre in which you have done many things you are known and appreciated for, you can not completely forget your personality, or at least that part that probably others expect from you. It is a delicate game of equilibrium, perhaps the most difficult thing to decide. Also in this case I tried not to deny myself, without my style being too “obvious”. And the judgment on this difficult alchemy is not up to me, but to all the others.

Where the past “Puppet Master” scores played more of the physicality of its horror sequences, do you think this score is more reliant on the mood than directly playing the ultra-violent ways that the puppets have of doing away with people?

In a soundtrack of a horror film in addition to music and dialogues there are also sound effects. I remember that Lucio Fulci often preferred, in extreme situations, to remove everything and leave only a cry or an annoying effect (like a chalk on the blackboard). I like to give a musical punch in the stomach from time to time. But I also love to suggest to those watching the movie a kind of fear.

Your long time guitarist Riccardo Rocchi plays on the score in a way that ranges from classical to rock. Tell us about your collaboration, and his importance in your scores.

Riccardo Rocchi

Good musicians are a great treasure for a composer. Riccardo, who is a close friend and also accompanies me in concerts around the world, is one of the collaborators who have played for me in this soundtrack.

Did you have a favorite puppet, or death to score?

Blade is my favorite. His killings are many, some ironic and some terrible, Each one required a lot of attention.

Do you see a new chapter of yourself as a horror composer for American pictures with “Puppet Master?” And if so, what would you like to musically explore musically for the genre? And would there be a fan favorite franchise that you’d like to take a stab at?

Surely this experience is something new and interesting for me. I believe that a composer should always be ready for new stories, new adventures. I want to take all the emotional tools that will allow me to express myself in the most authentic way. I think I’m ready for new challenges.

Do you think there’s a whole, undiscovered musical dimension for horror scores to take – much in the way that you helped to re-invent its sound?

Read a screenplay, live it deeply, let yourself go, manage emotions with your own technique. In a sense it is easy.

“Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich” begins prowling select theaters and on VOD August 17th, with a cast and filmmaker showing at Los Angele’s Egyptian Theater on Tuesday the 14th HERE. Fabio Frizzi’s score will be digitally available August 17th on Lakeshore Records.

Visit Fabio Frizzi’s Facebook page HERE

Special thanks to Michael Gingold, Riccardo Rocchi and Joseph Bishara

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Steve Jablonsky

Wo, 11/07/2018 - 17:39

He’s big, put together with charismatic muscle, and knows how to move with powerful, heroic steps. All of which make the franchise building megastar known as The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson) perfectly constructed for composer Steve Jablonsky. While not quite as physically formidable, Jablonsky has more than shown he can keep pace with his leading man after a career scoring transforming robots, machine gun-blasting villains and perfect military specimens thwarting alien invasions – with the humor to even poke fun at his own action stylings in the outrageous Netflix spoof “Game Over, Man!” Now after all of the imitations spawned by the best action movie of the 80’s, both The Rock and Steve Jablonsky get to team up at their mightiest for a film best described as “’Die Hard’ in a building.” And The Pearl is certainly a formidable, ultra-futuristic “Skyscraper” peaking above Hong Kong, as if some “Arrival” spaceship from the Donald Trump branch of the family landed. Of course, that’s all a nefarious, foreign accented baddie needs to light a torch a la “The Towering Inferno,” with our hero’s family trapped on the upper floors.

If The Rock has a real magic to his success, it’s his ability to bring likeable heart and humanity to his well-built movies, of which “Skyscraper” boasts top-notch design and action via the fun direction of the star’s “Central Intelligence” director Rawson Marshall Thurber. That The Rock’s security whiz character Will Sawyer is way more worried dad pushed into the impossible than a bionic-legged Superman says much about the emotional stakes that level up “Skyscraper” and Jablonsky’s action scoring abilities, especially after having created one of his most unique scores for the star’s unlikely appearance as a real-life gay weightlifter dragged into murder in “Pain & Gain” (which also ranks as the best, and most unique film from Jablonsky’s frequent “Transformers” collaborator Michael Bay). With brass and rhythm literally blazing through any number of knuckle-tightening, building-climbing set pieces, Jablonsky’s most exciting score yet not only makes bank on the composer’s trademarked way with musical momentum, but also melodically makes the listener aware that taking down the bad guy isn’t Will’s biggest goal. It’s a “Skyscraper” that’s a slam-bang combo of thematic orchestra, electronics and metal, as topped with a futuristic sound that in the end succeeds so well by being about family first while more than delivering the action goods, giving the composer his most impressive fusion of excitement and heart yet for a genre where he remains a modern king of the hill.

What would you say is the Steve Jablonsky action “sound?”

Well, I have no idea how. I would describe it, to be honest. I’m the worst at telling people what I do because I really just sit down and let the movie inspire me. “Skyscraper” seemed like a film where we could try a little bit, something a bit more different, where I could try not to go too “Hollywood.” I wanted to treat Dwayne Johnson’s character a bit more like an everyday guy, as opposed to him being like Spider-Man or Superman.

Ironically, your last score was for the Netflix “Die Hard” spoof “Game Over Man,” where you also got to satirize your approach for scoring this kind of stuff.

Right. That’s a good point. I went from one “Die Hard” movie to another “Die Hard” movie. That one was totally like “We’ve got trumpets, we’ve got woodwinds, now let’s just go all out and send it to these male maids! Because to these “Workaholics” guys, this was a big Hollywood thing where they could be these badass heroes. So I treated that with just a little bit of tongue in cheek – like having the trumpets send in the “big theme” when they beat the bad guy. “Game Over Man’s” score was just meant to be fun. Where “Skyscraper” could also be fun, we didn’t want to ignore the fact that Will is essentially just trying to save his family, and they happened to be in the tallest building in the world, which is on fire. Even if they were stuck in a hole in the ground somewhere. It would be the same musical premise. So that’s where we started with the score and took it from there. We weren’t trying to, say, “This is a big throwback action movie.” It was important for Rawson to not to overplay the music as well. Will is a wounded character in the beginning because he’s had a tragic experience where he loses a leg. That sets a different tone than “Game Over Man.” I liked that Rawson set up “Skyscraper” that way with Will having to redeem his past mistake.

After scoring the real life disaster of “Deep Water Horizon,” you’re also replaying a movie that has another giant explosion in it, with people trying to make it through lots of burning metal as the result. Was there any kind of lessons that “Deepwater” taught you about how to score “Skyscraper?”

Yeah, definitely. The fact that “Deepwater Horizon” dealt with real people was partially why I almost didn’t get the film because the director Peter Berg told the studio straight away that he didn’t want to have a “Hollywood” score, or a big Hollywood composer. So I just called Peter up and said, “Look, if, if you give me a shot at this, I can do other things than what you might expect. I’m not going to put big horns in this movie. This is a real life story. People died. Other wives and brothers and sisters and husbands of these people who died will see this film, and the last thing I want to do was to trivializes the death of their loved ones by overplaying over melody or making things melodramatic, I wanted to create a score that would keep things more real, and that’s why I went less “big” for that score. Now “Skyscraper” is obviously not a true story, but that approach is closer to what Rawson wanted. And I thought that made sense, because Will is an everyday guy – even though he’s bigger than any other human being on this planet!
The Rock is pretty much the size of a building.

I always joked that he could have just picked up the building and tilted it. Then everything would have been fine. For Rawson and me, Will is a “real” guy who does crazy things when he’s put into impossible situations. He knows how awful it is, and isn’t going, “Yeah, I’m going to kick ass!” He just wants to survive so he can find his wife and kids. So in that respect this score is similar to “Deep Water Horizon,” which I think Rawson heard and liked. That’s part of the reason my name came up for “Skyscraper” in the first place.

Steve & Rawson

This is the second score you’ve done for The Rock that has him in a bit of departure from the super-confident action hero you’d expect, especially after “Pain & Gain.”

In that movie, The Rock is like a gentle giant who gets sort of victimized by Mark Wahlberg’s character in this.. I came up with this super innocent, little simple thing for him in that which was innocent but emotional, because his character was a religious, naïve guy who gets involved in this terrible thing. When I saw The Rock in “Pain & Gain,” I thought, “Wow, this guy can do something other than just being ‘the big guy.’ “Pain & Gain” was also the film that opened Rawson’s eyes to the Rock being able to do comedy before he directed him in “Central Intelligence.” For this film, I tried to ignore that The Rock was as big as a house, and to just scores him as a father who’s trying to save his family from this horrible situation. The idea of family was also very important to him in how he’s been promoting “Skyscraper.” We had a screening where I saw this guy standing there with a baseball cap. He was big, but he didn’t strike me as being The Rock. Then a producer introduced us. I told him that because the movie was so early on that my music was only in 25% of what he saw. He asked me if it was in the scene where we first meet Will and his family, and I told him that was indeed one of my cues. Dwayne said, “Oh great! I loved that music. You don’t really hear scoring like that in action movies these days.” I gave him a big thanks, because just the fact that he even noticed he music there showed that he was very sensitive to how music sold the emotion apart from all of the big explosions.

It’s interesting how you score this super futuristic building in an almost science fiction-y way in the beginning of the film, especially as it looks like some spaceship that’s landed in Hong Kong.

The thing about scoring a film like this is that generally composers don’t really get to see what’s happening, as the visuals are still being created. But while I didn’t really get to see The Pearl, I created a theme for it and the billionaire who owns the whole thing. I wanted it to be sort of awe inspiring but also mysterious and not too “science fiction-y.” I didn’t want the music to make you feel like this movie was taking place a hundred years in the future. You really hear that melody when Will is riding up the elevator for the first time and seeing all of this cool, amazing stuff in the building and how amazing it is. I can’t wait to see those effects myself!

Did you want to reflect the film’s Hong Kong setting in the score?

Rawson and I talked a little about that in relation to The Pearl’s owner. But in general, unless the music’s specifically called upon to reference an ethnic character or background, I don’t think it’s necessary to do that – though I certainly did for the fourth “Transformers” movie that was partially set in Hong Kong.

The first big musical setpiece in “Skyscraper” is when will has to evade the police and climb up “The Crane” to get into the Pearl. How difficult was it to score that scene?

At first I thought it would be interesting to center the scene around one instrument, as Will is one guy trying to do all of these things. So the music starts with a solo cello, processed to be “weighty,” because it wouldn’t quite sound right if it was just sort of a classical cellist playing this riff against these big images. I also had the idea of making the music go “up and down” with The Rock to literally mirror how he’s trying to get into The Pearl.” Then as he progresses, the orchestra would slowly come in as his strength and confidence in beating the odds builds. Rawson thought the music should also treat the scene in a way that showed how Will was having “fun” with all of this. So I did a rhythmic thing for that which could play the scene’s tension and tempo. It changed a lot during the course of the process, but I always knew that scene was going to be great and wanted to just help it as much as I could.

Another musical setpiece is where Will has to get past the Pearl’s massive energy-creating turbines.

The first time I scored that scene I thought it would be scarier for the audience if the music was minimalist and intense, letting the wind and Will’s breath carry the tension. I played that approach for Rawson, and he didn’t think enough was going on. So looking back, I took that first idea too far, because Rawson was absolutely right. I amped up what I’d already done by 75% without going overboard, making the music “seasick” in a way that goes in and out of tune. It’s subtle, but it just makes you a little uneasy in creating a sense of vertigo. I also used pulses to hit the slips and the scares. One important moment is when Will ties the rope on himself. He’s sort of standing there frozen as he’s about to repel down the building to get to the turbines. Rawson wanted the music to shock the audience that he actually does this, with a big, nasty orchestra hitting when he finally takes that leap. I think by the end we got to a pretty good place for that sequence.

How did you want to play the bad guys here?

Because the score’s focus is on Will, I played them “dark,” without any kind of “big bad” theme. The villain here really isn’t like Hans Gruber in “Die Hard,” which was much more about pitting him against John McClane. There is a bit of that in “Skyscraper,” but all Will wants to do is get to his family. So the bad guys are just part of this scary adventure.

You’re a composer who’s known for his rhythm. What’s the trick of creating your sense of musical propulsion in a way that satisfies both “Skyscraper’s” action and emotion?

It’s a very tricky balance, and I worked very closely with Rawson and his editor on it, because they’re all about the storytelling’s rhythm. They were really smart about how they wanted to place the music, especially given that the movie is going so fast that the emotional moments are over pretty quickly. There are few places to create big, musically sweeping emotion in “Skyscraper,” because they didn’t want the audience to lose sight of the danger that lurks around every corner of the movie. So we just picked our little emotional moments that could happen without the story losing steam. I think we found a decent balance between the two.

There are some interesting use of the piano, and the chorus in “Skyscraper.”

I thought it would be cool to have a few notes of the piano in the beginning of the film, and then have them at the end for Will’s connection to his family. I also used the choir to play that bond. I originally thought I’d be using more voices for The Pearl, but it ended up not really being the place for that because it seemed over the top.

Like “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Skyscraper” represents another film you’ve scored to show the partnership between Hollywood and Hong Kong. Where do you think that might take your music?

I guess I’ll find out. I am excited about that prospect though, because I, I’ve seen in the last few years how important China has become in making big summer movies. I’m doing the “Skyscraper” album with Milan Records, and they’ve shown me all of this marketing that they’re going to do specifically for China. I think that’s very smart because it’s, it’s a huge market for these films, which have Chinese stars in them to bring in those audiences. I’m excited because I’ve loved Chinese cinema of since I was young. I’ve been watching John Woo and Chow Yun Fat movies forever. I’ll never forget going to Hong Kong as part of the “Transformers” premiere, and having people scream “Steve!” as I walked down the red carpet and wanting to take selfies. Hollywood audiences can be so jaded, because there’s a premier every night, which made it especially cool to be around thousands of movie fans who were just so excited that we were there. So I’d love to be involved with more movies made between Hollywood and China, or any foreign production.

With “Skyscraper,” do you feel that you’ve now gotten to score both “Die Hard” and “The Towering Inferno?”

Photo by Jason Kempin

Those are two great, unique movies. And it was never Rawson’s idea to rip them off, but to pay homage to them with a script he wrote himself. I think he did a great job with without copying either movie, because he’s a really thoughtful director, and was truly excited to record the score at London’s Abbey Road Studio. It was also great to score a big action film with The Rock. He’s the real deal, especially when it comes to caring about the music of his films.

“Skyscraper” opens on July 13th, with Steve Jablonsky’s score available now digitally, and on CD August 3rd from Milan Records HERE

Listen to Steve Jablonsky pump iron with The Rock for “Pain & Gain” HERE, then score the oil explosion of “Deepwater Horizon” HERE

Visit Steve Jablonsky’s official Facebook page HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Christophe Beck

Wo, 04/07/2018 - 02:16

If you thought DC’s movie universe was depressing, Marvel’s cinematic superheroes are in even more dire straits thanks to a finger snap from Thanos. So what better season than summer to reverse the infinity glove and jump back into Christophe Beck’s musical microverse for a giant-sized burst of comic book fun with “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

Having scored supers before with the teen likes of Buffy and Percy Jackson, Beck make his first Marvel entry with the moody martial arts vibe of 2005’s “Elektra.” But it was 2015’s “Ant-Man” that truly marked Beck’s splash for the company, with infinitely more acclaim. As directed by Peyton Reed (responsible for the sweet 60’s kitschfest “Down With Love”), “Ant-Man” was even then a throwback to the days when superheroes weren’t filled with berserker rage. One of Stan Lee’s goofier, and less-known silver age concepts paid homage to the past while freshly filling his boots with a well-meaning cat burglar who bungles upon the miniaturizing tech. Beck ran with the opportunity of a retro hero passing the insect-controlling torch to this unlikely Avenger with a delightful score that mixed heist funk with surf guitar, while not forgetting the brassy, orchestral muscle of do-gooder scoring. For where Marvel had focused on a fairly traditional approach to conveying might, “Ant-Man” was truly one of the studio’s first scores to broke the mold in a humorous, though without the kind of musical camp that had once relegated the superhero genre to kid’s stuff.

Now with “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” Beck has teamed again with Reed for one of the rare sequel cases where bigger is truly better in more ways than one. Here Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) finally gets her wings, and wrist blasters to show who really wears the suit in her relationship with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Searching the microverse for her seemingly lost Wasp mom Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), this dynamic duo face off against the decidedly glum Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a white-garbed villain out to steal their technology. Given a bigger cosmic scale that sees Scott and his malfunctioning suit shrink him to kid-size, then propel him to Goliath scope, Beck runs with the sweeping thematic opportunities to inject his score with way more symphonic dimension, while reprising his first soundtrack’s memorable, rocking theme. Electronics also come to fore in both the sinister capabilities of Ghost and the eerie quantum universe that holds the keys to the long-vanished Janet’s whereabouts.

A huge bundle of superhero scoring enjoyment in an increasing world of superhero gloom and real-life doom, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” reflects the delight of a composer running with the franchise opportunity in a prolific career, one that also finds Beck holding stylistically very different, and powerfully unexpected cards up his own sleeve.

“Ant-Man” was one of the first scores that stylistically broke the “Marvel” soundtrack mode with its fun retro sound. Did you have the sense that you were going into new territory with that movie?

Yeah, and that’s what made it exciting. The whole heist aspect of the first film was really an easy way to kind of get my hooks into a style of music that was distinct from the other Marvel movies, which made it a natural fit for me. I didn’t have to stretch in any direction that felt artificial because it lent itself quite naturally to that retro 60’s and 70’s sound, but at the same incorporating some of the more traditional Marvel sounds. There’s still a strong heroic theme, but it’s presented in a more fun, high concept style than most of the company’s other scores.

How did you and Peyton want to expand the musical scope of Ant-Man with the sequel, especially as he becomes Giant Man in it?

Well, mostly it’s the idea that this isn’t an “Ant-Man” movie anymore. It’s about the team-up between him and The Wasp. So there was a conscious decision at the beginning of the process that whenever there was an opportunity to play a theme, then you’d have the choice between the two characters We chose to tilt the scales a little to bit to establish The Wasp’s sound, which goes into the score’s balance between the old and new. You don’t want to completely ignore Ant-Man’s musical identity. Otherwise there’s no continuity. But at the same time, you want to make sure there’s enough newness in the score to feel like it’s going new places, and isn’t just some retread.

How did you want to musically capture The Wasp?

Well, “Ant-Man” used an odd meter for that character, which was the signature of that score. I felt like I wanted to continue that idea to connect the themes for both him and The Wasp. Another thing that makes this score different is that this isn’t really a “heist” movie like the last one, Here, The Wasp is finally able to come onto her own as a hero. For Hope, it’s, it’s an exuberant experience. So my goal was to make sure that she and Scott had had a superhero theme that’s even more fun than the first movie’s. The first time we see her kicking as is in a restaurant where she basically takes out a whole bunch of bad guys. It’s also the first time we hear her theme first in all its glory. It’s just very high energy and and exuberant.

Would you say kind of the musical difference between the characters is that where Scott isn’t completely sure of his abilities, Hope certainly knows what she’s doing?

Absolutely. You get the feeling like Hope’s been waiting her whole life to do this. And when she finally gets a chance to, she just makes most of it. Whereas Scott has fallen into it unintentionally, which is reflected in his music.

The musical scope of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” has definitely increased in size.

Oh, absolutely! You know, the fact that they’re small doesn’t change the fact that they’re big heroes. I mean they are as powerful, even in their small size as your average normal-sized superhero, which was true for the first movie as well. I don’t think at any time I made either of these scores sound “small.” But now hearing myself say that, I think there is one exception involving his daughter. The score also does get “big,” and funny because Scott becomes intoxicated due to the stress of becoming Giant Man. Taking all of his mental resources to maintain that size make him act like he’s drunk, which was another opportunity to go for laughs. But except for those two moments, the score is really about a man and a woman teaming up to save the world.

Tell us about their arch nemesis the Ghost.

Her music went through an evolution during the process of writing the score. I wanted the maximum contrast between her and the fun music of the Wasp, to make sure that the Ghost felt dangerous and unstoppable. That’s the way her music was for a while. But over the course of not just the writing of the score, but the editing of the film, we came to the realization that the Ghost’s music was maybe working a little too hard, and belonged in a different movie. So I toned the relentless, unstoppable “Terminator” aspects of her character a little bit down. That’s because the core of her character is a tragic one. She lives in chronic, constant chronic pain and goes through a bittersweet character arch.

The electronics in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” have an eccentricity to them that matches the superheroes’ technology.

I’m a big fan of electronic music, and I relish the opportunities to flex those muscles when I can. I also try to make sure that when I incorporate electronic elements that they very much represent that very personal side of myself. So these aren’t store bought samples out of the box. They’re things that I create.

What was it like to introduce the O.G. Wasp into the score?

You only get to see Hope’s mom in a flashback in the first movie, with my theme for her only heard over a photo of Janet Van Dyne. It’s not even Michelle Pfeiffer’s picture. So having her in the present made for a really delicious musical opportunity to restate that theme in a very kind of epic way.

There are also some really cool moments in the score where you get to ethereally explore the quantum world that the original Wasp disappeared into.

I wanted to make that really electronic based, and to be ambient and amorphous about exploring those sounds. We realized that there were some moments before they get to the quantum realm where we wanted to plant some seeds that could become something a little more distinctive. So I used the technique of overlapping chords in the orchestra, particularly with muted brass. The best way to describe it would be if you took a regular chord progression and just mashed it all together. You’d hear two chords at the same time, but still get the feeling of a chord progression. It all culminates when we hear a big version of that quantum realm music.

The chorus also makes a big appearance towards the end.

That’s right. It’s used pretty sparingly until then, which I think gives the score just the right amount of seriousness. There are some moments in the quantum realm that are really beautiful with the chorus, so that place isn’t musically all doom and gloom. The chorus was really a nice way to just evoke a little bit about the spiritual nature of what goes on down there at the subatomic level.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” comes after the gigantic downer of the end of “Avengers: Infinity War,” in which those hero doesn’t appear. Were you aware of what would happen in that film in relation to this picture’s continuity?

Absolutely. Marvel’s movie head Kevin Feige planned these far more breezy and light-hearted films that come out right after a really heavy Avengers movies, first with “Age of Ultron,” and now with “Infinity War.” Without giving too much away, there’s a tie into the events of “Infinity War” and this movie that’s extremely clever and well done. When I started working on “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Infinity War” hadn’t come out yet. When it did, I just didn’t have time to go and see it. I just relied on Peyton filling me in about it.

You really got to indulge in your love for electronic music with the Netflix sci-fi movie “Anon,” whose characters’ privacy is almost completely wiped away by technology.

“Anon” was a terrific experience, especially because I don’t often get to do pure electronic scores. It’s writer and director Andrew Niccol, whom I scored “Good Kill” for, is really great to work with. I’m especially proud of “Anon’s” score because I got to incorporate a lot of elements from my work with modular synths. It’s normally is difficult, because when you make music with a modular synth, it’s only there once – then is gone as soon as you take the electronic patch down to create another one. So the only way to really work with that material is to capture as much of it as possible and make a library out of it. There were some moments in “Anon” that called for some very experimental, otherworldly textures, which was also perfectly suited for my modular synth work. It’s one of my most personal scores in terms of what I love musically.

“Anon” has an insane detail in its visuals. How did that affect your score?

Christophe Beck’s modular synthesizer – Photo by Francesca

Any time you’re seeing a character’s point of view, you’re also seeing someone seeing the electronic display overlaid on top of it that could have given me all kinds of information as a composer. But the truth is that it mostly wasn’t there when I was working the film. It was there for a few shots, so I had an idea. For me, I was treating the score to have the classic feel of a film noir detective as opposed to being too slavish about reflecting the technology that’s on display. I think that was really the right way to go, because film scoring is at it’s most powerful when it’s really dealing with the human condition.

Yet “Anon” is a very cold movie about dehumanization.

Yes, it’s a very grey movie for sure. But there is a love story that gets played by a solo violin. It’s heavily processed, and may not even sound that acoustic. However, the heart of that instrument is still there, which emotionally grounds the score amidst all of the pure electronics.

Another personal, and truly “out of the box” score, and film for you is Harald Zwart’s “The 12th Man.” After you scored “The Pink Panther 2” for him, he went back overseas to make a film about a Norwegian patriot’s incredible struggle for survival in the face of overwhelming odds from both nature, and Nazis. It’s about as far from your score to “Frozen” as you can get.

It’s all about icy and snowy textures, so in a way “The 12th Man” is pretty close to “Frozen.” No, thank you for that. I love working on Harald’s movie. Doing it is one of those great Hollywood stories with a happy ending. I’m an avid reader of history books, particularly military history and particularly ones about World War Two. One of my favorite books is called “We Die Alone,” and it’s the story of Jan Baalrud, who was forced out of Norway during World War Two when the Germans invaded. He returned to sabotage and harass the German troops. And before he ever even got a chance to do any of that, they caught him and his resistance fighters. He was the only who wasn’t captured and killed and had to make his way on foot over the course of three months to Sweden, which was a neutral country. While the Germans couldn’t follow him there, they followed him all the way to the border during that whole time. Jan underwent some really excruciating ordeals on his journey.

Jan’s story is as much a part of a national culture in Norway as some of our greatest warrior stories here in the US. I mentioned this story to Harald at the wrap party for “Pink Panther 2” because I knew he was from Norway. His eyes lit up, and he said, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been wanting to make that movie my whole life. I’m still working on it. It’s my, it’s my passion project. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to do it, but I really hope to one day to call you about it.” Of course, Hollywood is the place where people make all kinds of promises that are not kept. But then, almost ten years later, that’s exactly what happened. It was mind-blowing that Harald got to make the film, and that fact that he kept his promise. “The 12th Man” was a wonderful collaboration.

It’s actually a beautiful, subtle score in spite of the often-horrific events that happen to Jan.

Harald came to my studio to talk about the film, and got really excited when he saw the modular synth. He encouraged me to use that any way I could. Of course, we also knew that we wanted this to be primarily an orchestral score. I deliberately tried to develop my orchestral voice for this film so I could adopt a more visceral and minimalist approach, especially for the action sequences. But at the same time, “The 12th Man” is a very emotional story. So I spent a lot of time working on, on themes and I think it’s one of my most thematic scores for all of the minimalism and electronics in it. The experience was extremely rewarding. And it also gave me an opportunity to revisit the indigenous music that I’d used for “Frozen” as well. So there’s a little bit of what you could call “Norwegian yodeling” in it.

What’s coming up for you?

Well, I’m, I’m just starting a Christmas movie for Netflix that stars Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. It’s being that’s being produced by Chris Columbus, whom I’ve worked with as a director a couple of times. It should be a really fun project. Then after that will be the sequel to “Frozen,” which I’m excited about.

In the end, do you think it’s important to have truly lighthearted superhero movies like “Ant-Man and the Wasp” among far darker movies in the genre?

Absolutely. When you’re making a mega-franchises the way Marvel is, you want to have as many different kinds of movies in there as possible in it so that you don’t repeat yourself and end up getting superhero fatigue. That’s why I think it’s brilliant to follow their heaviest superhero film with this particular franchise.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” opens July 6th with Christophe Beck’s score available digitally on Walt Disney Records HERE

Listen to a solo “Ant-Man” here, join the human web of “Anon” HERE and watch “The 12th Man” HERE

Visit Christophe Beck’s Official Website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Hildur Guðnadóttir

Di, 26/06/2018 - 22:15

While not a movie specifically about immigration, 2015’s “Sicario” depicted the drug war and its effects on both sides of the Mexican / American border with a deeply unsettling truth uncommon to the multiplex – showing why a terrified Latino populace would do anything to flee. Hammering home the converging stories of victims and aggressors was the Oscar-nominated score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, his music comprised of nerve-jangling tonal effects and the haunted emotion of morality gone astray, tension that built with unbearably suspenseful power.

Now after the tragedy of Jóhann son’s sudden passing, it’s his fellow Icelandic collaborator Hildur Guðnadóttir who picks up the nightmarish musical torch, expanding on the suspenseful, and emotional sound of “Sicario” for its sequel “Day of the Soldado.” Here, the hot button issue of illegals is flamingly front and center as the drug cartel’s aid to jihadists has an enraged American government decided to turn Mexico’s illegal empires against each other at all costs. Their two blunt instruments are government agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and his personally crafted weapon Alejandro Gillick (Benicia Del Toro), a lawyer turned punisher by the drug lord’s annihilation of his family. But when Washington’s plan to kidnap a drug boss’ daughter goes lethally astray, the resulting order to wipe the evidence suddenly gives a Sicario who thought nothing of wiping out a dealer’s kids an unexpected note of humanity as he tries to get his young target back across the border.

Having been an integral part of the first “Sicario” score, Guðnadóttir expands Jóhannsson’s mix of primal percussion, knife-cutting tension and brooding lyricism to new, subterranean heights with “Soldado’s” journey through the heart of darkness. Creating a veritable horror score, Guðnadóttir’s lurching themes, grinding metallic percussion and ever-escalating sustains throw the full weight of a government driven to murder and another country where corruption is a way of life down on characters where good and evil are one. It’s a sonic web of treachery, with melody creating a sad sense of morality lost, and just the sliver of redemption. It’s an uncompromising score for an action fictionalization of a reality that will only seem to get worse, but is no less transfixing for it as Guðnadóttir stretches the limits between melody and merciless sound design that gives “Soldado” its unbearable tension and sadness.

Like Jóhannsson, Guðnadóttir began her career in the alternative scene. Staring as a child prodigy on the cello, she’d parlaying her growing talents as a composer and singer into such conceptual solo albums as “Mount A,” “Without Sinking” and “Saman,” as well as playing with such bands as artists as David Sylvian, Throbbing Gristle and cello on Ryuichi Sakamoto’s score for “The Revenant.” Writing for theater and opera, Hildur’s made an impression on the stage of real world-based crime with her score for 2012’s acclaimed Somali piracy film “A Hijacking.” As she collaborated with Jóhann Jóhannsson on the mesmerizing, and sometimes confrontation soundscapes of “Prisoners,” “Sicario” “Arrival” and the forthcoming “Mary Magdalene,” Guðnadóttir’s own voice impressed with her work for the Oscar-nominated documentary “Strong Island” the biopic of the iconic S & M artist “Tom of Finland” and the World War I drama “Journey’s End.” But it’s “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” that not only represents the Icelandic composer’s biggest venture to Hollywood, but also how she’s so capably taken a score’s unique, often terrifying voice into her own melancholy domain, giving new direction into the no-man’s land that a people will do anything to traverse, let alone a killer following his own code of morality.

What particularly interested you in the cello? And what do you think makes its sound stand out among all the orchestral instruments?

It was certainly not the size of it! I think the width of sounds and colors it is capable of producing is what has made me stick with it. The cello can be a very lyrical and romantic boyfriend, but it can also be a very dry and husky aunt. It has been a part of me since I was a baby, so the connection has become very deep and engraved in me.

Through your classical training, what unique “voice” do you think you brought to the cello? And how did singing and choral music get added to your repertoire?

It never suited me to play the way I was “supposed” to play. It made me terrified of doing something wrong and it really got in the way of music for me. My last teacher probably taught me the most by hammering into me that I should “JUST PLAY!” That taught me there is no wrong playing. If I were bringing anything unique to the cello, it would probably be that. I´m just playing it.

Photo by by Antje Taiga Jandrig and Rune Kongsro

I sang in a choir for most of my childhood and my first job was as a solo singing child. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old when I started doing that. And I started singing in bands as a teenager. So singing has always been a part of me. When I first started making solo records, I felt the cello needed more space but the voice was always hidden in the back, to add color to the cello. If you listen carefully you´ll hear it. In my later works it felt like the voice needed a bit more space, so I allowed it to have that.

How did your alternative collaborations and solo work lead you to become interested in film composing?

In my practice I try to be open to what comes my way. I think that film found me more than I found film. I never had any ambitions to become a film composer. I got approached to make music for film about 10 years ago, and since I´m very interested in story telling it seemed like a fun thing to do. Music plays a big part in telling the stories in films and I still enjoy that a lot.

How did you begin your musical partnership with Jóhann Jóhannsson, and why do you think it worked so well?

Jóhann and Hildur

As you can imagine, the Icelandic music scene is pretty tiny. I met Jóhann through mutual friends in Iceland about 20 years ago and our ideas about music and sound instantly resonated very well. From the very first time we worked together we were very much in tune with each other and we ended up working together on almost every single project we both did in some shape or form. If not directly involved we´d always lend each other an ear. We became a bit like each other’s extra set of ears. When you work together so closely over such a long time you form a bond that is like nothing else. You’re able to communicate with a non-verbal ease and trust that only comes with time and practice. I think we also complemented each other in the difference of our personalities and musicality. His strengths were my weaknesses and vice versa.

Right from your own solo composing start, you dealt with real-life, international crime with “A Hijacking,” which was about a Danish ship hijacked by Somali pirates. What particular talent do you think you brought to the genre?

Communication is key in any kind of collaboration and I had an incredibly good and effortless dialogue with the director and editor of “A Hijacking.” Right from the start we were in agreement about what we thought was right for the film. I think it´s always a good sign when you don´t have to fight for your ideas, when things just fall naturally in place it feels like the story is being told in the way it wants to be told. I was just one element of telling that story.

Do you think there’s a natural mournfulness to your Icelandic homeland that adds to your darker works?

Where you come from is naturally always going to influence who\ you are and what you do. But I haven’t spent much time in Iceland in the last several years, so it is definitely not a conscious influence.

What was it like for you and Jóhann to first collaborate with director Dennis Villeneuve on “Prisoners?” especially when it came to developing a dark sound that would evolve for “Sicario?”

It was a really lovely experience and the dialogue was great and effortless. I wasn´t in contact with Dennis Villeneuve myself, but I was in very close contact with Jóhann about the process and music. It seemed evident that dark strings were needed for “Prisoners” and I think “Sicario” was a natural evolution of those dark strings. They got darker and the tonal material was stripped down.

How did you get the solo assignment of scoring “Sicario: Day of the Soldado?” And given how much of Hollywood hit that film was, did the expectations for a sequel make it particularly challenging?

Jóhann was unable to do the score for the sequel, so he suggested that I would take that on since I was a big part of the first score. The first “Sicario” score was obviously a massive success and it´s being copied in such a vast amount of films these days. I definitely did not want to make yet another copy of its cue called “The Beast,” but still wanted to stay true to the sound world we had created for the first film. So in a way it was both challenging and not challenging, if that makes any sense!

How would you say this films’ director Stefano Sollima differed from Dennis? And how much of the original “Sicario” sound did he want to continue with while exploring new musical dimensions for the characters?

It was important to Stefano that the emotional side of the characters was drawn out. So there is more emotional underscoring in “Soldado” and it is also twice the length of the previous score. It is obviously a very different way of scoring, since the music in this film has a very different function. Stefano wanted to keep elements of the heavy dryness of the previous score but he was very keen on adding “romantic” and sweeter elements to the mix. This decision was based the characters showing more emotion than in the previous film, with Alejandro´s unexpected emotional side probably being the best example of that.

How important was the score in tying together the film’s various stories, especially when contrasting the Mexican daughter of a drug kingpin an American-Mexican teen pulled into human smuggling?

It was a pretty important part of the story telling using the tried and tested way of scoring so that each character has a sound and/or theme. That can often help the audience following who is who and how they connect.

If anything, “Soldado” throws us deeper into the world caught between sound design and score. How did you navigate between them?

I´m very happy to hear you say that. I think it´s hugely important to connect the music and sound design, especially in a film like this where the sound design often takes up a lot of space. You really don´t want to fight it, but try to compliment it. So for example in the very big shooting scenes with a lot of percussion, it was important to me that the percussion resonated with the types of guns being shot.

There’s often a distorted, lurching quality to the score that could easily be mistaken as belonging to a horror movie. What do you think that says about playing a situation of real, unimaginable terror that’s being inflicted on two countries, but particularly in Latin America?

I am in no way an expert on the situation in Latin America, but watching from afar what is going with drug wars and how immigrants are being treated it often does seem like a horror movie. But it is real.

What was your approach to keeping the onscreen violence “real” without delivering the kind of “fun” that audiences would want from the genre?

I don´t think either of the “Sicario” films have a lot of space for “fun,” so it was quite an easy decision for me to steer away from that. I suspect that the audience will gather from the first film that there is no “hasta la vista baby” equivalent in this film either.

There’s an unbearable amount of musical tension to the score, particularly in the way the score builds with sustains and rhythm. What’s the art to that?

The only way that I can explain the art of any element of scoring is that you try to follow and enhance the story that is being told. There is a lot of tension building up from the get go in “Soldado,” so it felt natural that the music would help enhance that. Exactly how you do that is of course different between films. You just try to listen to what kind of sounds will help the image and try to create that with any means possible.

How did you want to capture the high-tech weaponry, and military planning that goes into the drug hit squad?

For me it feels very cold and merciless. So I tried to use only sounds that I feel are of that quality, played in quite a ruthless way.

Tell us how you used metallic effects and percussion in the score. And just how merciless did you think you could be with them?

We basically used any sort of scrap metal we could find for the percussion. There´s not a whole lot of “regular drums” in the score. One of the star instruments is an old metallic film casing that was beaten to death and bowed to pieces during the recording process. We played a vast amount of objects and instruments with various bows for a lot the higher register elements and percussion; pianos, harps, kalimbas, pizza boxes, shelves, left over pieces of wood and random bit and pieces of metal. The biggest star instrument is the Halldoraphone, which was built by Halldór Úlfarsson. It’s a cross over between a cello and a soaring feedback monster. It is one of my main instruments these days and is responsible for a large amount of the ruthlessness of the score.

How did you want to play the innocence of the youths caught up in this nightmarish world?

Those were drawn out with simple and naive melodies.

How did you want to gradually bring melody into the score? Do you think it would have been bearable without it?

The melodies were brought in to help us sympathize with the emotional side of the characters and underline the helplessness of a young innocent child that is forced into this hellish drug war world. I think the use of melodies probably does help with that.

In a way, do you think “Soldado” fools you into thinking what kind of score it will be, especially in the way it develops to reveal the unexpected use of the orchestra?

I think I am not the one to judge that. I am sure people will already have their expectations based on the original “Sicario” score before even going to see “Soldado.” The only thing I can hope to have achieved is to have served the story in a way it deserves.

What was it like to work on the film from your homebase, and how important was it to have an LA-based music editor?

Photo by Antje Taiga Jandrig and Rune Kongsro

I really love my studio in Berlin and I feel very much at home here which allows me a lot of freedom while creating. It was really great to be working with Lee Scott, who was the film’s music editor in Los Angeles, because he could be my connection to the editing room when things started to heat up closer the end. That was very helpful.

Does scoring relentless subjects like “Sicario” take a psychological toll as you often capture the worst of humanity?

I think it probably does in some ways. But you also detach yourself a bit from the subject in order to get through it. I think you to put up a bit of a shield when you are working for months on end on a scene where 50 people are being killed, because at the end of each day, you still need to go home and cook dinner for your child with the hope that your tears are not going to be the only salt in the dinner. I prefer sea salt.

How do you see your scoring of “Soldado” in the greater international fight to bring more work to female composers, especially when it comes to dark, aggressive material that producers might not see a woman scoring?

It makes me unbelievably happy that women are finally being heard in the film industry. I feel like there´s an actual change happening at the moment and if I can be a part of that of that change nothing would give me greater joy. I have lost the count of times that it has been said to me that I couldn´t possibly have written “this kind of music being a woman”. Music should in my opinion be free of gender. It is simply a form of communication. I think everyone has a soft side and a darker side and all genders should be free to express both sides. Its just freedom of speech.

Would you like to continue working as a featured soloist on other composer’s scores, as you did with Ryuichi Sakamoto on “The Revenant?”

I choose projects based on the communication I have with the people involved and not the title I have. I absolutely loved working with Sakamoto on that score. He is such an incredible person and wonderful musician.

Had Jóhann heard your own “Sicario” work before he passed? And if so, what was his reaction to it?

Yes he had heard most of it. He really liked it. His first reaction was actually giggling and saying “Jesus Hildur, you make all of boys look like kittens!”

Can you tell us about “Mary Magdalene,” which is your final collaboration with Jóhann?

Her story is such an incredible one and it is heartbreaking how she was judged and portrayed as an evil prostitute. The score is the polar opposite to “Sicario.” It´s much more based on melody than texture.

Do you think it’s ironically fitting for a spiritual score to represent your lasting musical bond? And in your way, do you hope to capture the music that would have kept evolving from Jóhann, especially given that he likely left unfinished projects?

I guess there is some irony in that. We were musical soulmates for so long. Growing up together as we did, he will always be a big part of me. I will never be able to capture his music. I can only hope to capture the music that is given to me. But I think he was too stubborn to leave me for good, so I am sure that he´ll be dropping by. And knowing him, he´ll definitely have a thing or two to say about what´s being made.

What’s coming up for you? And what kind of film and performance work would you like to explore?

There are quite a few exciting things on the horizon. I´ll be writing the music to an HBO series about Chernobyl, which is just the most incredible and terrifying story. They are shooting it now. I also have a few pieces I´m working on that are not film related – a new record, an opera and a composition for organ and strings.

Would you like to see your composing branch out for Hollywood movies with “Soldado?”

I would like to see my work continue branching out for projects that I love and find interesting. Those are not necessarily Hollywood movies. A good story is a good story whether it is made in Hollywood or not.

“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” opens in theaters on June 29, with Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score available on Varese Sarabande Records HERE

Listen to Hildur and Jóhann ’s soundtrack for “Mary Magdalene” HERE and Hildur’s “Without Sinking” HERE

Visit Hildur Guðnadóttir’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Announcing Screen Music Connect, September 24th 2018

Di, 26/06/2018 - 21:03

Screen Music Connect is a new event series set to explore and celebrate the richly diverse world of Screen Music – from Film and Television through to Video Games and Virtual Reality.

Screen Music Connect is aimed at the music production communities of all media industries – from pro, semi-pro and amateur composers though to producers, engineers, music supervisors and audio directors – plus fans of soundtracks and anyone with an interest in the evolution of screen music.

Screen Music Connect‘s inaugural event will take place on Monday 24th September at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London.

For more info, please click here

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

‘Composing for the Screen 2018’ Film Scoring Mentorship Program Applications Open!

Wo, 20/06/2018 - 23:10

Sponsored by BMI and directed by composer Rick Baitz, this New York City-based program selects a small number of emerging film composers and provides a series of workshops, followed by continued consultation and development.

This is a unique opportunity for nine emerging film composers to participate in a high-level workshop, where music for media will be examined from many perspectives: compositional, psychological, dramatic, stylistic—and more. Participants will explore a wide range of excerpts – studying, composing, recording, and sharing work in a supportive environment. Students will leave the workshop with greater confidence in their own voices as composers for the screen, an enhanced sensitivity to the art of scoring narrative, several strong cues for their reel, and an increased understanding of the film music business.

During the year following the workshop, the group will meet on occasion to share work and discuss students’ development as film composers.

The program, which is in its 11th year, will be open to the emerging film composer who has some experience in composing for the screen and wants to learn more about it. Free to accepted participants, it will be limited to nine students.

Accepted students are responsible for their own transportation to and accommodations in the New York area for the six-week duration of the workshop. Enrollees must commit to attendance at all six sessions.

Qualifications: Experience and credits as a composer; media scoring experience preferred. Ability to read and write music. Access to music production equipment: computer, DAW (Logic, Digital Performer, ProTools, Cubase, etc.), notation software (Sibelius, Finale); ability to create MIDI or hybrid scores.

Download the application here.

For more information, please contact Rick Baitz at, or Doreen Ringer-Ross at


Six sessions, to be held at the BMI Media Room, 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich St, NYC 10007 (except for Session 5, recording session).

1. Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, 4-7 PM

2. Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, 4-7 PM

3. Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, 4-7 PM

4. Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, 4-7 PM

(Two-week break to prepare final project)

5. Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 – Recording Session, 2-5:30 PM, location TBD

6. Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, 4-7 PM

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Germaine Franco

Wo, 13/06/2018 - 22:23

It might be said that a sure sign of a post-“Hangover” Hollywood’s equal opportunity consciousness is that women can get just as down and dirty as the bros in movies from “Bridesmaids” to “Girls Trip.” Yet for all of the wolfpack comedies that get put out, no female composer has been able to shatter the bro music barrier – until now. That trailblazer, in many more respects than one, is Germaine Franco, who now gets to be “It” with “Tag.” Very loosely based on a real, decades-running game that’s followed friends from childhood to greying hair, this spin on the buddy comedy has “Hangover’s” nerd Ed Helms as Hoagie, leading his now-grown comrades to finally lay hands on their super suave pal Jerry (Jeremy Renner) who’s never been “It” in thirty years, and now plans to retire his unequalled record with the event of his marriage.

The guys’ antics to capture this Neo-like Zen Master of a game that most people left behind with puberty is given a super fun spy-oriented score by Franco that’s perfectly in line with the rude caper genre bro sound. Playful rock beats jam with electric guitar and cunning strings, the score escalating into epically suspenseful orchestrations as the machinations to capture Jerry spiral into madness. Franco creates a rhythmically hip playing field where everyone is a suspect, truly becoming one of the boys as her music chases Jerry from pre-wedding banquet to golf course and a wrecked Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with a humorously rude attitude to spare.

For all of the empowering lip service that Hollywood gives them, female composers are relegated to sensitive, costume stuff when it comes to the major multiplex entries. However, Franco is most definitely winning that sexist game for herself and her peers. Rising through the ranks as an assistant, orchestrator and music producer on numerous John Powell scores from “The Italian Job” to “The Bourne Supremacy” and “Kung Fu Panda,” Franco’s Latina heritage played a part in her solo composing efforts with “3 Americas,” “Visions of Aztlan” and “Margarita” before the acclaimed indie urban dramedy “Dope.” Franco then got to dance with both cartoon musical salutes to Mexico’s Day of the Dead as an additional composer on “Book of Life,” then repeating that job as well as co-producing the Oscar-lauded songs and Mexico sessions for Disney’s multicultural hit “Coco.” She became the first female composer hired by Dreamworks with her particular animated skills, while applying live action empowerment to the LA Latina power of the Starz TV series “Vida,” Inducted into the Academy as its first Latina composer, Franco has now become a prime mover in The Alliance of Women Composers. But for a composer and songwriter who definitely knows how to get her groove on, the act of playing “Tag” just might be the biggest breakthrough of her rising career.

Was becoming a film composer always in musical equation for you?

I was a performer before I was a composer. I started composing in college while attending Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. I used to write charts for my Latin-jazz band, then I started writing for theater. Eventually, I moved to film composition via theater.

Who were the composers and songwriting artists that inspired you?

I was inspired by many types of composers: Bach, Debussy, Schumann, Bartok, Cage, Milhaud, Copeland, Bernstein, Revueltas, Chavez, Alberto Iglesias, John Powell, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, John Agustín Lara, Kurt Weil, Cachao, Mercedes Sosa, Carol King, Siedah Garrett, Sergio Mendes, Chick Corea, The Kronos Quartet.

How did you make your first break in the industry?

I scored a film for the Hispanic Film Project sponsored by Universal. My first film was recorded at the Fox Scoring stage with Armin Steiner mixing and dubbed by Chris Jenkins. Also, shortly after that, Raul Pérez at Sony Music hired me to produce source music for “Thunderheart,” which was directed by Michael Apted.

Germaine Franco and John Powell

How did working with John Powell help you grow, and ultimately break out as a composer?

I worked with John Powell for many years. First of all, he is one of the kindest human beings I know. He is also a musical genius. I watched him write scores and songs, produce music, and make amazing sounds for every new soundtrack. He allowed me to develop as a musician and composer by keeping me involved in every stage of the music production process as an additional composer, arranger, orchestrator, producer and session musician. I worked on over 35 tent pole projects alongside him. He always encouraged me to work on my own projects on the side as well, which I did for many years before leaving his studio.

Do you think your abilities as a songwriter also helped in your instrumental development?

I was an instrumentalist before I was a songwriter. I used to sit at the piano for many hours as a young girl playing pop songs over and over, plus often improvising. I think that discipline helped in my development as a songwriter.

Your first film to get widespread notice was “Dope.” What was that scoring experience like, especially given how the film veered from urban teen comedy to more serious issues in the characters’ urban neighborhood?

I received the film “Dope” from Hans Zimmer’s studio manager, Steve Kofsky. When I started it, it was a small independent film. Who knew it would be so well received at Sundance, and later sold to Open Road? When I first saw it, I connected with the message of that film. It was well made. It had great songs by Pharrell Williams. I loved working with Rick Famuyiwa. He is a visionary filmmaker. He had a clear sense of what type of music he wanted. It was a mix of electronica, hip hop and some emotional cues with strings.

You had the opportunity to write additional music for the first “Day of the Dead” animated musical “Book of Life.” How did that experience help you with “Coco?”

I was very happy to work on “The Book of Life” project as I admire and love Gustavo Santaolalla’s work. Also, the Fox Music Department, Danielle Diego and Rebecca Morelatto, had been very supportive of my work. I think working on “Book of Life” helped prepare me for “Coco” because it was another large project that had a super quick deadline. In addition to writing additional score, I was able to arrange and orchestrate some of the songs with Gustavo including “Cielito Lindo” sung by Placido Domingo and “No Matter Where You Are” by Us the Duo. Every project brings more experience. I also scored the “Book of Life” video game on my own as well, which was a wonderful experience.

What would you say were those films’ biggest similarities, and differences?

Both films may be about the same celebration held in Mexico, but they are very different regarding the story. “The Book of Life” directed by Jorge Gutierrez and score and songs composed by Gustavo Santaolalla had more of a pan-Latino soundtrack, with all types of musical styles from across Latin America and many rooted in Mexican culture too. “Coco” directed by Lee Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina with score by Michael Giacchino is different because most of the musical styles of the songs are specifically of Mexican origin. Also, we recorded many songs and source cues in Mexico with Mexican musicians of multiple styles. I think both films are super inspiring to many Latinos around the world.

Before “Tag,” you scored a movie about the public jokester group the Jankosians with “Public Disturbance.” How do you think that set you up to score “Tag?”

I spent several months last year working with director Danny Lee. Danny wanted a very serious EDM and hip hop approach to his score. I really got my feet wet with comedy on that project. I hear it will be released digitally by Lionsgate soon, I hope.

How did you get to play “Tag?”

I have to thank my agent Laura Engel at Kraft- Engel Management and of course Erin Scully and Jeff Tomsic. I had an interview and met with Jeff and Josh Crocker, the film’s editor. Jeff heard my work from “Dope” and “Public Disturbance”, also some of my action cues from the “Kung Fu Panda” theme parks. He must have heard something he liked!

This is essentially a “bro” comedy about male bonding. How do you get into that headset, and could you relate to it at all?

Yes, of course I could relate. I related to the characters, to the playful and intense aspect of the game, and the strong theme of friendship throughout the film. I started out as a drummer. I have always been one of the only females hanging out with guys from an early age. Currently, I am often one of the few women in the control room. I am also the mother of a son who has multiple friends over all of the time, so relating to these men and their game of tag was easy.

You could also say that “Tag” is a caper movie as well. Do you think there’s a jazzy-spy sound that comes with the genre?

I think the jazzy-spy sound is a typical sound that one would expect to hear. Jeff specifically did not want the score to be “jazzy”. We spent a lot of time exploring ways to avoid that. Mainly, instead of a triangle, bongo, and jazz approach, we decided electronica and rhythm section worked best.

Like “Game Night,” your score takes an essentially “serious” approach to how far these antics will go. Was it always the intent not to have the score by “funny” as such?

Jeff wanted to portray the seriousness of the game, and how the players spend multiple hours strategizing on how to avoid being tagged. There are funny moments, but by playing them serious with action music, it makes it more over the top. It was quite fun to do so. Jeff was great at directing me.

In that way, do you think “Tag” could set you up to do a serious 007-style score?

There are some cues that could lead to that idea. Yes, bring on the 007style films, please! I would love to do work on those types of films.

How did you want to thematically distinguish the guys, especially when it comes to the seemingly invincible character of Jerry and the slo-mo way he plans his escapes?

Jeff had specific ideas about the themes for the film. He wanted to build a theme that had elements of a caper theme that could also be transformed into a friendship theme, which is more of the fun theme with synths and band. In addition, we created a mission theme, to show how much the characters were quite serious about the game of tag. This is the big low brass and percussive theme.

What was your favorite scene to score of attempted “Tag,” and why?

My favorite scene is the final action scene with the slo-mo escape. I can’t give away the story, but we worked carefully to build the score around the SFX and slo-mo dialogue. So the score starts out sounding like musical sound design and then morphs into a true action heroic theme.

How far out did you want to go in musically conveying the extreme lengths they go to in trying to tag Jerry?

We use the caper theme in various scenes with different orchestral elements and band to show that although they go through multiple extremes to catch him, it is always a game and still fun.

Talk about your “Tag” ensemble, especially when it comes to the score’s groove. And how did you want to blend more conventional strings with it?

The score’s band ensemble is made up of some stellar musicians including Alex Al, bassist (Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder), Jeff Chamberlain, drummer (Pearl Jam), Luis Conte, percussionist and my previous Latin Percussion teacher (James Taylor), and Andrew Synoweic, drummer (Michael Bublé, Shakira, “Coco”). I had worked with all of the players before, except Matt. I knew what they could do, and what great players they are. Their groove helps to give the score a human element when with mixed with the electronica. After recording the band, I added live orchestra on top of the tracks. In some cases, I left my synth strings to make the sound more of a hybrid orchestra, instead of a completely orchestral sound. Jeff likes the bridge of the two.

There’s also the fun use of chorus in “Tag.” Where did that idea come from?

Jeff wanted a big sound with chorus for that track. It was going to be way over the top. So… originally I scored it with nonsense Latin lyrics. Later, I had a poem that my brother, international artist Michael Petry, had sent me at the start of the project. He was so happy for me when I got the gig, so he wrote and said “You may need some lyrics for a song.” I put the lyrics away for a few months. When the wedding cue came up, I had the English lyrics translated to Latin by Ryan Dooley, a friend. I set the poem to the melodic material I had developed, and Jeff liked it. We had live singers conducted by Edie Lehmann Boddicker. It was great fun.

You’ve scored the acclaimed Starz series “Vida,” which is about Latinas in LA. Would you say it’s one of the most relatable projects you’ve worked on?

Vida S1 2018 Marketing Shoot Dec 17 2017

I relate to all of my projects in some way. I am a storyteller, so I don’t need to look like the characters. I relate to the characters as a human beings. I do my best to find the tone of a narrative as soon as possible.

What was your approach for the show?

“Vida’s” creator Tanya Saracho wanted a very organic and realistic drama series. She didn’t want to overplay the emotional elements of the scenes. As it is a show about Latin culture in Boyle Heights, we mixed electronica, hip hop and traditional Latin sounds with indigenous instruments and even Nahuatl chant on one song.

What was it like to get recognition from ASCAP for your career, as well as getting inducted into the Academy?

Receiving the ASCAP Award in the name of Shirley Walker was a career highlight. I have been helped and supported by so many people in my life, I felt like I was floating on air the night I was able to thank all of my mentors, especially John Powell. To be honored on the same night as John was quite special. We enjoyed playing music together with all of our musician and singer friends. It was a night to be remembered. Also, being invited to join the Academy was a great honor. Having worked many years behind the scenes, it was great to be recognized for my many years of work, prior to my work on “Coco”!

Germaine at 5 Cat Studios

Tell us about your work on behalf of the Alliance of Women Composers. Do you think that for all of the promises from Hollywood to advance their cause that it still largely remains lip service, or do you think things are really improving when it comes to getting them assignments?

I think that in general, we are still in a very dire situation according to the data that is coming out of all the research institutes like USC and UCLA. Female composers made up 3% of the composers on the top films in 2017. We tend to hover between 2% and 3% in any given year. In the past ten years though, the number is even lower, 1.4% according to USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. So, while a few of us are doing well, and there are some new programs for women and people of color, overall, there is much room for improvement in regards to inclusion. At the same time, programs like the Sundance Institute’s Music and Sound Design Lab are supporting women in a big way. This is really helpful to our situation. I currently work with the Alliance, Women In Media, Women in Film, and AMPAS to raise the visibility of females and women of color in the industry.

How important is it for your continued work to reflect your Latina heritage?

I feel it is important to continue my work as a composer foremost. I draw upon my Mexican roots for strength and courage. Music is universal, so regardless of our origin, as musicians, we create music of all genres and styles.

When you look at hit comedies like “Bridesmaids” and “Girls Trip,” do you think Hollywood is realizing that women can be equally capable of raucous comedic behavior? And do you think it’s important to see that sort of equal opportunity?

Women are capable of making babies, they are capable of directing, writing, shooting, acting, producing, composing. We can do it all. Yes, equitable representation in all genres and fields is the goal.

How do you think “Tag” sets you up for gender / ethnic-neutral assignments when it comes to just being viewed as the composer of note on major studio releases?

I don’t really know what the outcome of this project will be. I hope people go see the movie and enjoy it like I did. The phrase “gender neutral and ethnic/neutral” sounds so pedantic. Of course, in the same way that people don’t say a British composer can only write British music, or a German composer can only write German music, I hope people get past saying, “Oh, doesn’t she only do Latin music because she is Mexican?” That’s really part of this inclusion problem, isn’t it?

“Tag” opens on June 15th, with Germaine Franco’s score available digitally that day from Lakeshore Records HERE

Buy Germaine Franco’s soundtrack to “Margarita” HERE and “Shovel Buddies” HERE

Dance to the Day of the Dead with “Book of Life” HERE and “Coco” HERE

Join The Alliance For Women Film Composers HERE

Visit Germaine Franco’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Audio: Interview with John Powell

Wo, 23/05/2018 - 21:50

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

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

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

John with cast at Cannes

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

Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to Download

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

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

May Soundtrack Picks

Vr, 18/05/2018 - 01:33

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


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


1) (CARGO)

Price: $20.97

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

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

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

2) COBRA KAI (Available May 22)

Price: $15.98

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

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

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



Price: $11.29 / $14.98

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

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

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


Price: $13.98

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

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

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

5) RAIN MAN (1,000 edition)

Price: $19.95

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

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

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



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

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

. DEADPOOL 2 (Score Album)

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


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


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


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


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


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

. MONKEY SHINES (1,000 Edition)

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

. OVERBOARD (Score Album)

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Nima Fakhrara

Di, 15/05/2018 - 20:41

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nima and the Santoor

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

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

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

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

Nima and his studio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Cage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Connor Guitar

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

The Garden Resonator

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

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

The Mescaline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit Nima Fakhrara’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with John Massari

Wo, 02/05/2018 - 15:28

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

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

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

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

What sparked your imagination to turn you into a composer?

Mixing the reimagined Killer Klowns soundtrack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John’s Wildcat Studio in 1987

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

Did you have a favorite Klown to score for?

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

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

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

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

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

John and The Dickies at the Viper Room

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

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

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

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

Bill Begley

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

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

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

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

Komposing the original Killer Klowns

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

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

Sara Andon on Flute with the Klowns Wind Section

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

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

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

John Konducts the Klown Orchestra at The Bridge Recording Studio

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

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

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

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

John and the Walking Dead accordianist Bear McCreary

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

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

Tell us about the album’s bonus tracks.

Marcus LaCroix

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

The full scope of the Killer Klowns orchestra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit John Massari’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws