19 Reviews (1 New)
A Dark and Scary Place
Silva Screen Records releases the Original Television Soundtrack to His Dark Materials: Series Two. HDM is based on the book trilogy by Philip Pullman. Season Two transposes the second book, The Subtle Knife. The story follows Lyra and Will, two children who are prophesied to bring multiple worlds together on the eve of a war. The BBC series, produced by Bad Wolf in association with New Line Cinema for BBC One and HBO, is very well realised. The music is scored by Grammy Award winning, EMMY and BAFTA nominated composer Lorne Balfe. Originally from Inverness, Scotland, Balfe has created music for the genres of major studio and independent films, critically acclaimed television series, animated features, documentaries and video game franchises. The music to Season One of His Dark Materials was universally well-received. The Series Two music is available for download...
The score hooks you in right from the beginning. It’s a dramatic opener which hints at the epic events to come. This is great music to lie back and listen to on headphones. It encapsulates all of the feelings and emotions you would hope to experience. At times you are carried away on the thrilling ride of a lifetime, and others soothed to the point of a comfortable sleep. The composer has the ability to inject a rumbling discordance and underlying menace without slapping you around the face with stereotypical thrashing and shrieking. Sometimes there is only need for little nuances; however, never is a track left at that. Instead, it always adds substance so that you never feel that you are being served fillers. 'The Chosen', for example, informs us this is an intriguing and special moment. Every track employs a different tactic, which moves the score along in a flowing and unstilted manner. Having viewed seasons one and two of this BBC Sci-Fi fantasy drama, I can say with confidence that the specificity of the music places you directly into the relevant scenes.
There are no flourishes in the conventional sense; everything is purposefully structured without ever coming across as forced. This is one of the most varied orchestral soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. There is not only light and shade, but mood and presence. Also, it’s nice that the majority of the characters seem to have their own encapsulating theme. I like the otherworldliness of 'Journey Ahead', whilst incorporating a warm and grounding accompaniment. 'A Once Great City', whilst being Pagan-like, has a moderate but grand orchestral melody. 'Queen of the Southern Lanes' is wide and majestic. 'Fly Spectres' gradually builds, like a creeping malaise. 'A Mystic Explorer' has a thudding beat with a sweeping, soaring – almost Marvel-like – grand piece playing along. 'The Eve of the War' leads like a Christmas tune before turning into a shorter but darker version of the main theme.
It would be a difficult matter to describe every piece of music, as there are 35 tracks. But there is something for everyone on this impressive soundtrack. If I have one complaint, it’s a common one with decent movie and TV scores. Each track averages two to three minutes in duration, so the moment you’re into and enjoying it it’s gone again. I fully understand these snippets have been recorded to fit specific scenes on screen, but for the sake of the standalone album editing some of these into a much longer suite would be really welcome. Listeners would experience the music in a new light, in a relaxed setting, rather than being solely background music. Nevertheless, this is fitting music of which the composer should be proud.
WaterTower Music releases the Deluxe Edition of the Motion Picture Soundtrack to Tenet. In the Warner Bros. science fiction action film, written and directed by Christopher (TheDark Knight Trilogy) Nolan, protagonist John David Washington journeys through a twilight world of international espionage, fighting for the survival of the entire world armed with a single word: Tenet. The mission will unfold beyond real time. Not time travel, but Inversion. The international cast includes Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Yuri Kolokoinikov, Himesh Patel and others. The score is by Academy- and Grammy Award-winning composer Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther, The Mandalorian). The 20-track deluxe version incorporates two bonus tracks, and liner notes from Chris Nolan and Ludwig Göransson It is available on Triple Vinyl, 2-CD, and for Digital Download...
'Rainy Night in Tallinn' kicks us off with a warming-up of string section sound. A thick, deep electronic timed beat is surrounded by a clattering and a bass synth sound. A nice but foreboding piece of ambiguity. 'Windmills' is slow and mysterious, but it still feels like there is lot going on. It’s a full and warm sound. 'Meeting Neil' serves as a linking track, with Electronica which comes and goes like trying to make radio connection. 'Priya' has a naval-contemplating sound which fights its way out of the fuzz and begins a clattering beat. 'Betrayal' creates a feeling of introspection which tentatively builds. 'Freeport' incorporates a light electronic drum that sounds like an electronic wasp. It evolves into a brief melody. '747' begins with a basic string noise against a deep stomping. It then becomes louder and significantly more dramatic – like being stalked by a giant. Total Electronica takes over, with a threatening build-up which falls away to a space sound before changing again. This is the best offering since the opening track. 'From Mumbai to Amalfi' is atmospheric, with a cello accompanied by light space noises (think of the end titles to Gerry Anderson’s U.F.O. series). 'Foils' has a lighter, more jaunty feel, with a Vangelis-like backing. Harsher sounds are introduced to darken the mood. It would make an ideal sample, as it’s one piece of music. Little happens in 'Sator' until the second half, which is a disconcerting assortment of electronic noises and a faint, human-like voice which assaults the left speaker but says nothing.
'Trucks in Place' has a thudding, warping beat with different sounds surrounding it. More succinctly, a dragging backwards loop. An inventive sound. 'Red Room Blue Room' adapts a strange breathing sound with distortion. A high ringing invites a trepidatious feel. 'Inversion' includes a fluttering which introduces a range of synthesiser sounds – low and bass, fuzzy and fluttering. 'Retrieving the Case' is a basic tentative repeating sound that builds to a cacophony of Electronica and a fast pace. 'The Algorithm' has a string section which turns to a heavy, thudding beat and a melody of sorts. It’s a good piece strong enough to be a main theme on any action film. I believe 'Posterity' is the longest track at over twelve minutes – although it takes four of them to get going. It then becomes a building, substantive piece. A strong track. 'The Protagonist' is slower and quite atmospheric. The grounding is in bass guitar, with touches of ringing guitar. All of this is abandoned for the Electronica. 'The Plan' is a song by multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated recording artist Travis Scott. I’m not a fan of this type of music, especially wherein the vocals are helped tuning-wise by artificial means. I do, however, like the electronic underlying throbbing beat. I should mention, too, that there are explicit lyrics.
On to the two bonus tracks, and we begin with 'Fast Cars'. It has a drum machine beat, and a fast-moving pulse-like tempo. It has the feel of a chase scene without having much substance. The same sound just increases in speed. 'Turnstile' concludes the proceedings. This begins in the same style as the preceding track, before having a fast electronic beat joined by clattering and, latterly, by a cello and other Electronica. These are far from being the best two tracks on the release, so I can understand why they weren’t originally included. Plus, it negates the end-piece of 'The Protagonist'. Like the film itself, this soundtrack will split the critics. The main deciding factor in this is whether or not the listener likes an electronic score, or is a traditionalist preferring a live full orchestra. Personally, I love Electronica with the proviso it is varied and not too samey. The soundtrack to Tenet succeeds in this respect, and overall this is an excellent collection. Standout tracks are 'Rainy Night in Tallinn', '747', 'Foils', 'The Algorithm', and 'Posterity'. It’s all very inventive, and certainly stands alone.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2020)
Cold Spring Records releases the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to Antichrist – an English language Danish horror film from 2009, shot in Germany – composed by Lars Von Trier. In the movie, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, a couple grieving from the death of their child travel to a cabin retreat in the woods in an attempt to save their marriage. But Nature here is Satan’s Church, and when their surroundings turn evil it doesn’t bode well. The score is presented as a Limited Edition ‘Eden Olive’ and Black Etched Vinyl. The tracks are: 'Intro'; 'Lascia Ch’io Pianga Prologue'; 'Train'; 'Foetus; Attic'; 'Lascia Ch’io Pianga Epilogue'; 'Credits Part 1'; and 'Credits Part 2'...
There isn’t very much to say about this one, apart from the fact it’s very dull to listen to as an isolated soundtrack. To a degree, it doesn’t matter how well the product looks aesthetically; what works as incidental music or atmospheric mood pieces doesn’t always maintain its identity once removed from its mothership. In other words, this work was designed specifically to work in conjunction with the film. All bar two of these pieces are just natural sounds and internal body recordings (I can’t wait for ‘Tummy Rumbling’ - The 12” disco Remix!). There is an alternative sombre performance of Handel’s 'Lascia Ch’io Pianga', recorded in Kastelskirken church in Copenhagen, which is very nice. However, if you want to savour original classical music then surely you go to the source.
It's interesting to note that the press release blurb lists favourable quotes about the movie itself, rather than the soundtrack.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
Plaza Mayor Company Ltd releases the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the horror movie Apparition. Directed by Waymon Boone, whose previous projects include The Devil’s in the Details, and Sunrise in Heaven – the film is about an app that connects the living with the dead. Young people are lured to an abandoned castle which has a dark past tied to each of the people present. The music is composed by Ben Worley, who has turned in soundtracks for Pizza Time, Willing to Lie, and Red Water. This was his first feature film. He thoroughly enjoyed working on it but, by his own admission, wasn’t paid very much. As a consequence of being brought in late to the project, Ben only had a fortnight to complete the score. He had only just moved to Los Angeles and so the remit was simple instrumentation. These limitations were extended to keeping motion throughout the piece, and not to allow the audience a moment to relax.
Having knowledge of the backstory to writing and composing the score, the big question we need to ask is has he succeeded in his intentions against the odds? Well, no, not really. I can understand that time was pretty much of the essence, and working from his apartment reduced his options (what? – he couldn’t fit the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in there?) – but there isn’t even any music present. Nothing to latch on to; no suites or musical interludes. The entire score consists of noises. No, let’s be kind and call them soundscapes. Across ten tracks we get a standard format of strings, discordant piano and intermittent screeching – accompanied by a throbbing beat, often reminiscent of Red Indian drums.
If anything, the composer shows his hand too early, throwing all of his available tricks into the first couple of tracks, so that those thereafter sound dull and repetitive. I’m certain that this could have incorporated more variation through use of easily attainable music samples. Just throwing in some oddities like electronica, guitars, pan pipes or any number of instruments would have made this much more interesting. Whilst appreciating that this is here solely to enhance the emotions of the film, as an isolated soundtrack it achieves nothing of real interest – not even a main theme for the movie. I couldn’t use a lot of the notes I made while listening to the score, because they consisted primarily of descriptive words such as rumbling, screeching, throbbing, rattling and thudding. The only track with any continuity to the sound is '#contact', which resembles complaining neighbours banging on the wall! This score proves to be a disappointment after so many excellent examples which I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing: Killer Klowns From Outer Space, and Ruin Me – to name but two.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2020)
Plaza Mayor releases the Original Motion Picture soundtrack to Clickbait on digital CD and download. In the film, directed by Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein, Bailey is a popular ‘flogger’ who loses status to another person who is diagnosed with cancer. Bailey regains her popularity when she is stalked on a regular basis. For obvious reasons she is reluctant to report the crime. That is until she is kidnapped by a fan and has to rely on an uncaring roommate to save her. The music is by Night Kisses featuring Catherine Capozzi, Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola...
This is a mixed bag but on the whole pleasing collection of 23 tracks where the emphasis is on the 1980s synthesiser sound, but much more refined than many of that decade’s John Carpenter wannabes. It begins with 'Broken Heart', which has a nice, smooth bass beat, but the electronics turn the vocals whiny. However, it still manages to be both a Pop and Rock song. 'Laura, Who is Dying of Cancer', has strings and bass, though it follows the chords of the previous song. 'I Lost My Key', is a nice synthesiser tune which transports you back to the emergence of New Romantics. This track should really have been longer. 'Froot in Every Toot!' brings to mind Toot Sweets from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 'Bailey Has a Stalker', is a menacing, atmospheric mood piece with strings. 'A Rose From Chase', is a filler incorporating a jaunty, very short solo horn tune. 'Thanks For Your Bravery', starts like a great electronic pop song, but abruptly ends the moment it begins.
Now we get to what is by far the best track on the collection. 'The Stalker Part I', has heavy breathing and a great bass synth riff. It’s both atmospheric and funny, using drum rolls and discordant noises. It seems to fill in more of the sound as it goes on. 'It Was So Cute!' Is a jaunty circus-like filler. 'Emma Gets a Closer Look' is just a few seconds of Psycho slashes. 'Chase Loves Toot Strudels!' is somewhat similar to track 4. 'The Day Stalker' is like 'The Stalker Part 1', but with different sound effects surrounding the riff – and much shorter. I love the deep synth sound with voice-like notes in 'Brayden Loves Stomping on Things!' 'A New Cycle' has church-type heavenly music which becomes muffled. It’s slow, becoming more mysterious and hinting at menace. 'The Favourite Snack of Night Creepers Everywhere!' is a sort of amalgamation of 'The Stalker' theme and the 'Toots' advert. 'The Stalker Part II', begins with electronic monk voices. It becomes an alternative version of 'The Stalker Part 1'. Nice drums and sound effects.
'I Even Thought You Were a Suspect', is another obvious mixing of 'The Stalker' theme with the 'Toot' tune. 'Lair of the Stalker', has bass drum beats, heaving breathing, with the chords and subdued music of 'The Stalker'. 'The Do-Not-Call List' is only the high pitched phone ring-tone of 'The Stalker'. 'The Greatest Lives in the History of The Stalker'; a rumbling is followed by a synth version over a few bars. 'The Reflexes of the Elephant', is like an approaching storm, with rumbling and reverb. 'Beautiful Dreamer' is done in a childlike carousel manner. We finish with 'Up Above, Down Below'. This is a Rock/Punk song which is far too short.
I realise they are cues for scenes, but many of the little, few-second snippets could have been dispensed with in favour of longer and more varied suites. I love the electronica of this soundtrack; it’s just that certain ideas are returned to a few times. As mentioned 'The Stalker' has much potential and you kind of want it to be longer and more diverse. Nevertheless, this is a solid enough score.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
Silva Screen Records releases for digital download the soundtrack for the 4-part Channel 5 psychological thriller The Deceived. Created and written by Lisa McGee and Tobias Beer, the drama stars Emily Reid and Emmett J. Scanlan and follows an English student who falls in love with her lecturer. A tragic death draws her into a tangled web of lust, manipulation and betrayal. Hannah Peel is a producer, composer and artist from Northern Ireland. She primarily utilises electronic synthesiser music, but includes sound design and classical scores linking nature and science. She has previously worked on Game of Thrones, and The Last Watch – as well as for music artists John Foxx and The Maths, and The Magnetic North. She is Emmy Award Nominated and an RTS Winner...
This is a difficult one to quantify. It’s a competent and varied score, but it’s only diverse within the parameters of its genre and pace. Strings are dominant, but a hint of electronica gradually increases in balance the further we progress through the music. There are 24 tracks and, although they’re far from being only seconds in length, I’m certain that several of these could have been edited together for the sake of continuity – especially as so many of them are similar in terms of tone.
The idea seems to be to portray a sense of atmospheric mood, plaintive and sad melodies, and melancholia. A third of the way through a darkness intercedes, with low fluttering, discordant piano, rumbling electronica, a menacing throbbing/whispering, and a general sense of off-kilter madness – and even one or two horror/thriller screeches. Although these sounds are incorporated it fails to ratchet-up the suspense; in other words, these emotions fail to drag you along for the ride, instead falling rather flat. I’m sure it fits the TV drama very well, but doesn’t make enough of an impact for a stand-alone soundtrack.
There is an over-abundance of strings, and yet the synthesiser doesn’t ever quite intercede enough to make an impression. I don’t wish to criticise this too much, because it’s a solid composition. There is a church feel, a marching effect, an almost John Carpenter-like beat with a Morse Code tapping, a fiddle and a music box – so a lot of thought has obviously gone into this. The problem, I believe, is with the balance. The most cohesive piece is 'Listen to Your Mother', which incorporates jaunty keys with electronica, fluttering and rumbling coming in around the edges, which then turns to classical strings and piano.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2020)
WaterTower Music releases the Original Television Soundtrack to Doom Patrol: Season One. The DC comic books characters are reimagined in a popular TV series. Robotman – aka Cliff Steele, Negative Man – aka Larry Trainor, Elasti-Woman – aka Rita Farr, Cyborg – aka Victor Stone, and Crazy Jane are perhaps the most bizarre group of superheroes ever. Horrible accidents gave them their abilities, but also left them scarred and disfigured. Consequently, they are seldom celebrated for the good they do. The group is led by mad scientist Niles Caulder – aka The Chief (played by Timothy Dalton). The soundtrack comes from two sought after composers: Award-winning, Golden Globe and Grammy-nominated film composer Clint Mansell (Black Swan, The Fountain), and multiple Emmy Nominee Kevin Kiner (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Narcos: Mexico). The score is available for download...
We begin with the 'Main Titles' which consist of a nice electronic Pop/Rock vibe. There is a heavy moderate beat and dragging sound, along with a trebly guitar. Sadly, it’s far too short. 'Aftermath in Cloverton' maintains the Electronica. A deep rumbling with slamming percussion and bubbling synthesiser. A very nice theme takes over. This should really be the main title music. It settles down to simple notes and cut-off sounds. It abruptly changes to an electronic African tribal-like beat with acoustic and electronic percussion. 'Robotman and His Daughter' has plaintive ringing piano sounds surrounded by weird noise. A basic electronic beat is introduced. Then an echoing multi-sound briefly makes an entrance before a whistling plays over a repeating mottled theme. 'Longing For Their Daughters' has keys sounding like dripping water washed over with a warm sound. Reverb plays a big part in this one, which is rather melancholy in its feel. Quite long and sleepy. 'Mr Nobody and Willoughby's thick synthesiser piece introduces a rumbling undertone. A moderate metal slamming surrounded by noises is overtaken by an eight note piece, which changes just as quickly to a wood and clicking arrangement, and once again we’re in fantasy land territory. This becomes dark in atmosphere and somewhat spooky. A Vangelis clattering breaks-through and becomes low and ambiguous in its direction. It’s at times jaunty, and then heavy and oppressive.
For 'Vic and His Traumas' similar sounds are utilised. This time a repeating piano piece is hounded by a stomping beat, before toning-down to atmospherics with a throbbing pulse. 'Larry and His Spirit' is another plaintive melancholy sound with a slow, bell-like melody. All the while there is an encompassing fluttering. 'Rita and Her Troubles' incorporates a slow and heart-felt beginning, which emerges into a rumbling beat and back again. 'Jane and the Underground' has a fast-moving fluttering, scraping which belongs in a nightclub. There are a few diverse sounds inherent, before it returns to a wide film score sound and segues into a sort of alien music feel. 'Nile’s Tales' brings back the slamming Electronica, before becoming a wide and spacious landscape. It’s something that at times wouldn’t be out of place in a nature documentary or study of Shaolin Monks.
'The Bureau of Normalcy' has a bass rumbling and scraping take-off into full-blown Electronica, which reminds me of Pink Floyd’s 'On The Run', from The Dark Side of the Moon. There is a creepiness to this, as well as a science fiction quality. This is a strong piece, certainly the best since track 2. Most of 'Silas Knows the Truth' is low-key, but it bursts forth from the chrysalis like it means business right near the end. 'The First Doom Patrol' has a light, jaunty tune which becomes something significantly more sinister, before changing back again to a moderate light beat. 'Vermin Patrol' is a fairly long piece. Strangely, the opening sounds like the score to a silent horror movie. A fuller mechanical sound encroaches and the whole metamorphoses into an off-kilter melody. It then repeats the whole cycle with subtle differences. 'End Credits (Doom Patrol)' is like a dance music version of 'The Main Titles'. I would love to hear a much longer version of this, which would really end the soundtrack on a significant high.
I’m intrigued by the premise of this series, and will certainly give it a look at some stage. This soundtrack unquestionably holds-up on its own merit, because until I’ve watched the series I have no idea whether or not it suits the mood. I love the use of Electronica in film and TV scores, as it is extremely versatile and can be easily layered. This is an impressive collection of soundscape tracks, marred only by a couple of similarly slow, melancholy and overly-long suites.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2020)
WaterTower Music releases the Original Television Soundtrack to Doom Patrol: Season Two. The DC comic books characters are reimagined in a popular TV series. Robotman (played by Brendan Fraser), Negative Man (Matt Bomer), Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby), Cyborg (Joivan Wade), and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) are perhaps the most bizarre group of superheroes ever. Horrible accidents gave them their abilities, but also left them scarred and disfigured. Consequently, they are seldom celebrated for the good they do. But still they investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence. The group is led by mad scientist Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton). The show is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. It was developed by Jeremy Carver, based on DC characters created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani. WaterTower Music is the in-house label for WarnerMedia companies. The soundtrack comes from two sought after composers: Award-winning, Golden Globe and Grammy-nominated film composer Clint Mansell (Black Swan,The Fountain), and multiple Emmy Nominee Kevin Kiner (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Narcos: Mexico). The score is available for download...'
'Miniature Patrol' is a fine way to commence this second season of music from Doom Patrol. Fantastic Electronica in the vein of a fusion between John Carpenter and 1980s Gary Numan. There are some nice fluttering noises and squeaks surrounding the central piece. Halfway through it strips right back to a more restrained sound, and then returns to the opening sound. Only this time the beat is different, feeling predatory, dark and menacing. There is a feel of building-up to a crescendo which is never quite reached. 'The Candlemaker' has a cello mood-maker with reverberating bells around it. There are some horror sound effects of slamming or stamping; a metallic resonance. Sampled background voices come to the fore, but they are purposefully off-key and create an off-kilter feel. A reflective tone becomes somewhat threatening with the brief introduction of squealing guitar and a vibrating pulse of synthesisers. This is more of a suite, and incorporates multiple emotions. 'Father and Son' introduces melancholy and more of a soundscape. Again, halfway through it gains more substance, becoming a quiet orchestral number. 'Dr Tyme and the Loose Brain' begins mysteriously and tentatively, before adding a bass beat and light sampled sounds. It evolves into a mechanical, almost industrial groove, and then withdraws to return more forceful than before with an alien freeform, like Electronica Jazz. Nice, and totally unsuspected in its direction.
'Backstories' lightens the mood entirely, with jaunty synthesizer sounds featuring delay effects. A scratchy, fuzzy electronic beat and slow, heavy reverberating bass synth informs us we have been lulled into a false sense of security. This recedes to the original sound but with a simple melody which jumps around in the background. 'Red Jack and the Butterflies' features a caustic electronic string section, amidst echoing effects and a false build-up. This is a searching-the-barn-for-noises scene straight out of a number of horror films. A bottle-tinkling and multiple off-kilter whirlwind of oppression endures here. 'To Keep Dorothy Happy' is a solo piano piece, slow and effective. It becomes an orchestral number, before bizarrely turning into a whirligig of carnival Electronica. In 'Catching Sex Ghosts' we return to John Carpenter territory for the opening, before grinding out a harsh beat and turning weird but interesting. A slipping off-beat accompanies a bass synth and a multitude of amazing sounds which come and go. There are false ends to this track, but it ends up being a down and dirty disco orgy of Electronica. Different. 'Cliff’s Heroics' incorporates a little guitar mixed with synths in a 1970s style TV show theme. It maintains this style, occasionally becoming dark and gritty, before ending in a sort of nightclub mix. 'Adventures in Space' has a space sound invaded by synths and the hints of the Doctor Who and Star Trek themes. This is lighter and more mystical, with its own melody. It’s also much more reserved, but screeches see it out.
'Scants' has a Funky Electronica vibe, with an underlying repeated bass beat like a train journey theme. Curiously it changes to a Beat Box sound with samples flittering around. This really is disjointed, as it begins a certain style, only to change it completely, and yet again. Most strange, which I suppose was being aimed for. 'It’s Time' rings in like the sands of the Mystical East. The heavier marching sound is enveloped in gently rising-in pitch synth sounds. A tapping and clattering accompanies that Industrial vibe again. An excellent theme enters the fray, but is cut off before you can begin enjoying it. 'Trauma at the Well' has some intrigue to the sound. This is all about creating an atmosphere until a simple electronic stuttering beat enters, bringing with it a ringing theme. There is a foreboding feel before a crazy fluttering plays around the central beat. 'Imaginary Friends' has a similar sound as the previous track, but incorporates a Western or Mexican piece amidst Chilean pipes and church organ. In fact, all manner of instrumental samples are thrown into the cacophony, including screaming guitar. We conclude with 'Meet Your Fate'. This is a building of suspense with a ring tone and low oppressive juddering beat. A synth wave smooths over a juddering, and it starts to build up to a heroic crescendo with a nice theme.
I feel that Electronica is a perfect versatile sound for film and TV soundtracks. This is an excellent example. There is plenty of diverse and entertaining music here, which works perfectly well on its own merit (I’ve yet to see how it fits the series). The composers have done a remarkable job, even surpassing the score for Series One of Doom Patrol.
Screamworks Records releases the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to The Farm. Written and directed by Hans Stjernsward, the film follows a young couple who are kidnapped when they stop at a roadside diner to eat meat. Their ordeal is to endure everything an animal has to go through before being put on someone’s plate. Composer Sergei Stern’s plan was to incorporate live instruments, human voice and organic sound design – built on unconventional harmonics and unpredictable counterpoint. Stern has scored seven feature films and more than 80 short films. This is his soundtrack release debut...
The 'Main Title' is great, as you just can’t quite get a handle on it. There is percussion and some course sound effects, with music that teases on the edge of melody whilst establishing an atmosphere of weirdness and uncertainty. 'The Farm' has an old fashioned, positively pagan quality produced with strings. Uncertainty is the key word. 'Killing and Feeding' has lots of what might be described as cutting sounds, chains, knocking and dripping which turns this eerie music into a passive assault on the senses. 'Under' plays a waiting game, before strings and the occasional keys join forces with some unsettling sound effects. 'Ken Baby' features creepy, atmospheric noises which really don’t belong in the real world, and so prove unnerving. Just the slightest hint of soundscape music accompany them.
'Alec' has a throbbing pulse (I’m sure he has!), with a sound that hints at sawing phasing in and out, and becoming more electronic and fluttering. Stomping and a sort of horn-like roar takes over. 'Milk Cows' serves as a floating atmospheric piece. 'Wake Up' brings back the menace, with a number of prominent and underlying sound effects. 'Last Supper' incorporates chanting, off-kilter and ultra-low singing, and then vague music carrying a faint beat, fluttering, and the return of horror film strings and keys – but in a most original mad celebration of psychotica. 'On My Land' is an original pagan folk song written and performed by the composer. Whilst traditional in style, it still manages to sound like it’s from another time. This is heard playing through a radio in the film.
Although this is a relatively short soundtrack, it makes quite an impression and proves much more original than many longer scores. It’s very different in places to the overused techniques of the average horror piece. This one places you in an environment which is ‘not quite right’ through sound alone… and that’s no mean feat.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
Silva Screen Records releases the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to I Am Vengeance, directed by Ross Boyask. In the film starring Stu Bennett, Kevin Leslie, Gary Daniels and Anna Shaffer, John Gold is a mercenary who uncovers a conspiracy while investigating the murder of his best friend. The music score is by Greenhaus, an Electronic Rock band formed in 1999. The band consists of Steve Bellamy, Anthony Neale, Warren Farr and Ian Medany. It is available for Digital Download...
We begin with 'Second Chance', a nice slow and eerie piece with female vocals expands into moderate-paced Electronica, with drums and a ringing guitar sound holding the centre. There are nice weird noises for the outro. 'Vengeance' is a great track which owes a lot to the master of this type of film music – John Carpenter. The repeated melody becomes warmer and introduces some washing in and out sounds to it, before becoming more controlled. It reduces down to a throbbing beat and ghostly sound effects… before returning again. Very nice! 'Lost Brother' has an introspective start, which slowly introduces more elements to the number until bottle-sound Electronica – a quick backing – becomes more prominent. 'Devotion' incorporates a more chilling atmosphere. A gradual off-key fade-in produces a ticking beat with menacing surrounding elements. This is grand, wide music. A main thudding beat enters the fray at the 4-minute mark of a 12 minute track, and becomes more of a drumbeat throbbing. A fantastic background piece. The drums and deep throbbing synth sounds of 'Saving Rose' remind me instantly of Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars. That train chugging vibe.
A ticking, rumbling on 'Interrogation' opens a short dramatic, atmospheric number. Sounds of foreboding precede a strange buzzing. 'One by One' has a Christine-like opening but which then adds a heavy but moderate feel. Complicated drum patterns jump in and the synth rides over the top or rumbles underneath. 'Second Chance (Reprise)' is the opening track returned to. 'Laid to Rest' is a piece of retrospection, with slight straining sounds struggling to be heard becoming more prominent. 'Hatcher Versus Gold' has a central theme which is crashed upon by great drums and simple but effective chord changes. Bits of guitar and odd sound effects surround it. 'The Stand Off (Part 4)' has an electronic piano sound with wind-like atmospherics and a fading tapping. A deep bass synth makes its presence known before vanishing almost before it starts. 'The Barn Assault' incorporates a throbbing melody with wider sounds which come and go. It builds to a fast beat which wouldn’t be out of place in certain nightclubs.
'Fix' has a threatening low tone which turns to a fluttering and eerie surrounding noises. This is nice but probably too long for what it is. 'Silhouette' rounds up the proceedings with a nice up-beat electronic Pop/Rock song with male vocals. Having two tracks with vocals places this release with one foot firmly in the mainstream pop category. Although this owes much to the original styles of John Carpenter (lets call it a homage), for a soundtrack this music is driving, melodic and uncommon in its direction. It’s everything you might want from a soundtrack. Of course, it helps if you like Electronica.
It’s John Carpenter; I’m going to like it, aren’t I? Well, yes, as a matter of fact. I’m a huge admirer of Carpenter’s work. I not only possess all of his films (some in two or more formats) but I also possess all of his soundtracks, and was lucky enough to see his live shows promoting his music on two separate visits to London (I have a Blu-ray of the first London show). With the score to Halloween 2018 he very much proved he still has the ‘feel’. The first Lost Themes album, released in 2015, came as a very pleasant surprise, with original film-like music and semi-regular hints of his film scores for the fans to detect and savour. Lost Themes II followed the next year. Maybe not quite as good but, nevertheless, another solid bunch of original non-movie tracks. Carpenter was very busy subsequently, touring the Lost Themes albums and getting together with his son Cody Carpenter and guitarist Daniel Davies to rerecord many of his classic big screen scores for 2017’s Anthology album – and then touring to promote that. So, it’s been a little bit of a wait for his next project. But I’m happy to announce that the waiting is over. Lost Themes III: Alive After Death is released on Sacred Bones Records, and is available on Vinyl, CD, and for Download.
The title track has a high melody with low bass synth holding chords. This shows a diversity to Carpenter’s Electronica. A drum beat is dispensed with in favour of a basic throb. But then a melodic screaming guitar announces itself, along with traditional sounding acoustic drums. A great opener. A slamming beat backs a low rumbling synth in 'Weeping Ghost'. Electric piano is introduced, with a high-pitched repeating ring. Electronic drums open-out the melody which is upbeat but with an underlying menace. This has motion; a sense of continual movement. 'Dripping Blood' has a somewhat mystical opening. Deep and heavy bass notes allow a synth to soar over the top, with a bell sound temporarily taking charge. This one is quite atmospheric. Moderate but meaningful. 'Dead Eyes' has a definite horror opening, with slightly off-kilter music and angelic voice samples. It changes quite drastically before returning to its almost creepy carnivalesque beginning. Guitar comes in at the end. 'Vampires Touch' has the deep throbbing reminiscent of some of Carpenter’s best film themes, commencing with a reflective piece. A rumbling beat is purposefully not followed by simple but striking melodies, which have a life of their own. Everything dies away for heavy synth single notes. A recognisable clattering beat is built upon as the track steadily stomps to a conclusion, with the addition of guitar. This is the most diverse offering so far, and a definite highlight.
A background beat for 'Cemetery' breaks through to an electronic repeating pulse beat. An intruding heavy thread has fast moving melodies surrounding the main theme. It pauses before taking up the chase again, and adding increasingly more sounds. 'Skeleton' is the ideal single, as its structure is the most straightforward, whilst remaining upbeat and at times threatening. You could drop this straight into almost any early Carpenter film and it would fit like a glove as a main theme. 'Turning the Bones' has a repeating melody which plays over a bass, before a plaintive experimental synth sound sears through the middle and becomes a slightly higher pitch. This hinges on a simple structure and works all the better for it. 'The Dead Walk' has fairground high jinks turn to a flickering beat and synth sounds which build to a throbbing, almost dance beat. Crunchy guitar takes up the stamping beat. A break for electric piano allows the whole thing to build again, and you begin to realise how much thought has gone into this. The trio have learned how to communicate without words, almost knowing what each other is thinking musically. 'The Dead Walk' is another definite highlight. A phenomenal track. We finish with 'Carpathian Darkness', in which a fuzzy background has electric piano play through it and welcome the unsubtle introduction of grating guitar. But on the whole this is a quieter and more reflective moment. Again, it fits the title subject matter perfectly, whilst not particularly sounding like a film score. This is nice atmospheric music.
I love this sort of stuff, and John Carpenter has a natural affinity for it. I’ll probably play this on a loop now until I temporarily tire of it. However, I never take much persuading to dig out another Carpenter soundtrack for yet another airing. I recently bought The Fog white and green colour vinyl double album. The bottom line is this album is superb. I wouldn’t expect any different. Long may the great man reign.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2021)
WaterTower Music (Warner Media) releases Lucifer: Original Television Soundtrack to Seasons 1 to 5. The popular Netflix show, starring Tom Ellis, follows the Fallen Angel after he leaves his throne and teams-up with an L.A. detective to help punish criminals. But there are some unscrupulous individuals who seek to bring forth Lucifer’s true nature and tap into his power. The series is based on DC characters created by home grown writer Neil Gaiman and others. The music is composed by Emmy Award-winning Jeff Russo – whose previous work includes Fargo, Lucy in the Sky, Mile 22, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Discovery, and Cursed – and Emmy Award-winning Ben Decter, whose work includes CSI: Cyber, We Live in Public, Lethal Weapon, Operation Homecoming, and Shut Eye...
This is a collection of thirteen songs – or snippets of songs – ranging from seven seconds (yes, you read that correctly) to just over three minutes. The well-known songs covered – or I should say, emulated – are 'Sinnerman'; 'Heart and Soul'; 'All Along the Watchtower'; 'Eternal Flame'; 'Fever'; 'Luck Be a Lady'; 'I Will Survive'; 'My Way'; 'Creep'; 'Wonderwall'; 'Someone to Watch Over Me'; 'I Want to be Evil'; and 'Crime Solving Devil'. The genres undertaken here are quite diverse, ranging from Easy Listening, Jazz, Nightclub, Soul, through to Blues and Indie Rock. The songs are sung by the series stars Tom Ellis, Lauren German and Lesley Ann-Brandt – as well as guest star Lindsey Gort, and performer Skye Townsend.
This is a bizarre idea, and I must say I don’t know what to think about the concept. The big question is why? All that has happened here is a bunch of other people’s songs have been sold on the weight of the TV series Lucifer, using the gimmick of having some of the actors sing (and I use the word advisedly, because most of these are average at best). Some great songs have been utilised, but they are not strong renditions. Having tastes leaning heavily into Rock and Metal, I fully expected to enjoy 'All Along the Watchtower' (by Jimi Hendrix) and 'Wonderwall' (by Oasis), but 'Fever' and 'Creep' were stronger. The latter, by Radiohead, is a great song and displays voice versatility and control. This version sung by Tom Ellis is not perfect, but at least he has a go.
I know a couple of people who absolutely love the show. They are among many others, so it’s a sad indictment to short change the fans when it’s really only them who will consider purchasing this collection – a release short on both running time and ideas.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2020)
Silva Screen Records Ltd releases Music From The Avengers Movies, Performed by London Music Works from music composed by Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman and Brian Tyler. Not to be confused with the British Avengers serials from the 1960s and 1970s, this covers the Marvel Studios superhero movies Avengers Assemble, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. The music is available for download...
We begin with the 'Marvel Studios Fanfare', which is the by now instantly recognisable opening for Marvel film titles. As this is only 36 seconds long, it would have been nice to have heard an expanded version. Tracks 2 to 5 explore music from Avengers Assemble. 'Avengers' has a military-like beat with accompanying fanfare, a theme often returned to in other Marvel superhero films. 'One Way Trip' has sadness and drama hand-in-hand for the first half before, suddenly, it’s action stations with heavy beats and building strings and brass. 'A Promise' is an acoustic guitar and strings piece, which has a sensitive and mild build-up. This incorporates the main Avengers theme from track 2.
On to The Age of Ultron. The 'Title' sequence is short and dramatic, whereas 'Heroes' has a horn-oriented drive which then returns to the main Avengers theme. 'Avengers Unite' includes nice variations on the dramatic score, but it’s too short. 'New Avengers' (no, not the Steed, Purdy and Gambit one) has an almost incidental start but soon turns into one of the nicest short suites, definitely a favourite. On to Infinity War. 'Help Arrives' begins with the Avengers main theme, but this is longer and incorporates several atmospheres enveloped by a major suite. It’s the first time that we hear the lighter side, and it’s very welcome in order to inject a little change in tempo. 'Even For You' carries emotion, but somewhat slaps you round the face with it. 'Forge' features a nice building of suspense piece. 'Infinity War' handles the emotion in the music really well, although it’s really short and could have been expanded to cover the devastating events portrayed at the conclusion of the film.
We finally arrive at Endgame – essentially the second half of the Infinity War saga. 'One Shot' returns to that military beat of the Avengers and S.H.I.EL.D. theme, offering us a slightly fuller version. Even 'Portals' contains the Avengers theme, which is well over-cooked on this collection. 'The Real Hero' is a nice introspective suite, which also carries a lot of inherent emotion. With all the bombastic elements in mind, this clever soul-tearing track is easily the most atmospheric of the bunch. 'Main on End' wraps things up to great dramatic effect.
The music compositions are great. There’s no doubting that. They suitably accompany and even enhance the action and drama on the screen. So, I have to ask myself what is missing. Why isn’t this knocking my socks off? It can only be that it isn’t produced by the same orchestra of instrumentalists as the impactful original. But it’s not just that. It’s missing that dynamic high quality sound we have come to expect. To me, this comes across as a little flat, a second-rate copy. It’s a huge disappointment, because I was expecting so much. Had a little more time and expense been spent on the final recording and editing product I’m sure this could have been close to the original. Another improvement would have been to offer a cross-section of Marvel film music which would surely have proved more diverse in terms of style and content.
01 - Marvel Studios Fanfare - Michael Giacchino
02 - Avengers (From "The Avengers") - Alan Silvestri
03 - Assemble (From "The Avengers") - Alan Silvestri
04 - One Way Trip (From "The Avengers") - Alan Silvestri
05 - A Promise (From "The Avengers") - Alan Silvestri
06 - Avengers Age of Ultron Title (From "Avengers: Age of Ultron") - Brian Tyler
07 - Heroes (From "Avengers: Age of Ultron") - Danny Elfman
08 - Avengers Unite (From "Avengers: Age of Ultron") - Danny Elfman
09 - New Avengers - Avengers Age of Ultron (From "Avengers: Age of Ultron") - Danny Elfman
10 - Help Arrives (From "Avengers: Infinity War") - Alan Silvestri
11 - Even for You (From "Avengers: Infinity War") - Alan Silvestri
12 - Forge (From "Avengers: Infinity War") - Alan Silvestri
13 - Infinity War (From "Avengers: Infinity War") - Alan Silvestri
14 - One Shot (From "Avengers: End Game") - Alan Silvestri
15 - Portals (From "Avengers: End Game") - Alan Silvestri
16 - The Real Hero (From "Avengers: End Game") - Alan Silvestri
17 - Main on End (From "Avengers: End Game") - Alan Silvestri
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
Sony Music Masterworks releases the original motion picture soundtrack to the psychological horror film The Prodigy. Directed by Nicholas McCarthy, the movie has Taylor Schilling playing a mother, Sarah, whose young son Miles is suspected through his behaviour of being possessed by an evil entity. She is caught between the instinct to protect her son and seek help. Deciding to delve into the past, she begins to lose touch with reality. The composer Joseph Bishara has previously worked on the scores for The Conjuring 1 & 2, Annabelle, Insidious 1, 2 & 3, and The Other Side of the Door...
I must say that, based on Bishara’s prolific background of recent prominent horror scores and the fact he uses influences of Classical, Punk and Industrial noise, I was expecting much from this release. Apparently, this was his “opportunity to explore the multi-life patterns of a soul’s journey, and bridging that connection into the real world where the struggle for survival takes place.” Hmm... This release is a little disappointing, to say the least. I was anticipating longer and more melodic suites; definitely something more exciting and varied. I realise that much of this is incidental music, meant to enhance the action and emotion on the screen, but as a separate listening experience it’s severely lacking.
I think this approach attempts soundscapes interspersed with surprises, but in doing so somewhat restricts itself. For example, 'Took My Hand' (track 2) jumps straight into horror territory with sudden jolts and slams, pauses and further jolts. This seems to be the order of the day. There are quiet piano and strings, with occasional woodwind and percussion, and the odd keyboard breaks. Only the final track, 'Hands Are Calling', offers up an entire orchestral moment – accompanied by a brief hummed voice.
Looking back at my notes, there seems to be one repeated process. I have written words such as ‘screeching’, ‘knife-like slashes’, ‘jolts’, etc. This probably makes my point that the soundtrack is sadly more about effect than substance. I have reviewed so many strong scores recently, which is undoubtedly why this one comes across as such a let-down.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
Silva Screen Records releases the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to Rawhead Rex, written by classic British horror author Clive Barker – most famous for creating Pinhead in Hellraiser. Directed by George Pavlou, the movie from 1986 is about an ageless demon still alive in 1980s rural Ireland, which escapes the trappings of hell to be unleashed on a local farming community. It is up to an historian to find a way to bring a halt to Rawhead’s bloody rampage. The music is composed by Colin Towns, who is also a pianist, songwriter, arranger, producer and collaborator. His previous work includes Full Circle, The Puppet Masters, Maybe Baby – and for TV, Foyle’s War, Doc Martin, and Pie in the Sky. For this one Towns visited the film set to take in the atmosphere, and met the actors. The score was recorded at CTS in London, and incorporated a sixty-piece orchestra and electronics. The format is available on vinyl, CD, and for Digital Download...
Rawhead Rex was one of the short stories which made up Clive Barker’s original Books of Blood. It was one of many of his tales which were converted for the big screen, but was not everything it could have been. The music is quite varied, though there exists a theme of peace and tranquillity interrupted by harsh and dramatic discordance. The 'Rawhead Rex Main Theme' has elements of Jaws from the outset. A piano is trumpeted over by a brass orchestral sound – loud and threatening. It turns into a nervy march. 'Welcome to Ireland' has jaunty flourishes. It’s not quite a melody. The orchestra builds but doesn’t really go anywhere. Only near the end does it sort itself out from the confusion. 'Rawhead Appears' allows taunting distant horns to introduce the high pitches common to horror. A running up and down of the scale and the stomping pace of bass drums precede a short roar. 'Nicholson’s Farm' has a distant ring come and go, before the kettle drums return to a two-tone screeching.
'Just You Wait' includes a raw noise and a low electronic bass, which is joined by a piercing ringing. The interlude of a singing choir boy fades in and just as quickly out. This one goes through several phases – mostly with disconcerting sounds and rumbling, teased by lighter moments. A diverse array of electronic sounds are utilised here. 'Boy Runs For His Life Through the Wood' incorporates wet, flickering and rasping noises, accompanied by a thick synth sound. The ringing and shrieking returns. There is a dark portentous pursuit sound. 'Minty Gotta Pee' produces a country freedom flourish, with harp, pipe and piano. A feeling that all is not right enters halfway through, and it all becomes darker and more oppressive. 'The Vicarage' has innocent church music become rumbling and threatening. 'The Family is Leaving' has a piano and string piece become grand and celebratory but with foreboding undertones. It flicks between light and shade.
'Gussing Opens Book' is a dark movement, with tone and electronic atmospheres. 'Howard Discovers a Strange Glass Window in the Church' has light sounds lure us into a false sense of security, before hitting us with clicking and rattling soared over by heavy rumbling and a weird beat. A sound like a colony of screeching bats is taken over by a harrowing cacophony of angry sounds. 'Declan Goes Wild in the Church' issues a machine-like sound, and a backbeat is joined by a thriller-type pacing with orchestra and electronica. 'Howard Discovers the Power of the Stone' has a heavy stomping pace. 'Rawhead Rex End Credits' is similar to the 'Main Theme'. We end bizarrely, with a boy soprano rendition of 'There is a Green Hill Far Away'.
With fifteen mostly long tracks, you couldn’t complain about not getting your money’s worth here. Whilst not being the best soundtrack I’ve reviewed, it is a competent and pretty solid music score outing. I found it strangely soothing. I fell asleep whilst listening and had to backtrack. There are no full suites as such, but the whole creates all the pertinent moods you would want from a horror film without being too cliched. I found it to be great background music.
Milan Records (Sony Music) releases Neon’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the darkly comedic psychological thriller She Dies Tomorrow. In the movie directed by Amy Seimetz (who also writes, produces and acts), Amy wakes up convinced she is going to die the next day. Her life begins to unravel as her delusions become contagious to those around her, and they all descend into tantalising madness. The score is composed by Mondo Boys, who knew the score had to handle the depth of an existential crisis without omitting the subtle comedy. They liaised with Amy and went for an indulgent dark opera. She was so impressed by one of their tracks that it became an inspiration for filming the rest of the movie...
We begin with 'Le Portail Ouvre', an angelic opening full of hope and aspiration, with the hint of brief choral voices. 'Requiem, K.626 Lacrimosa' in main encompasses a well-known operatic classical piece by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It reminds me of the music used in Endeavour, the TV series about a young Morse. 'Desert Through the Door' has a Celtic feel to it, with stark wood-knocking sounds and angelic voices. 'Le Portail I' is a melancholy, atmospheric piece – again with the voices. 'Desert from the Car' incorporates a simple theme with pagan percussion noises. 'Le Portail II' has a simple bass sound, but is the first track to apply any real drama to the proceedings. 'Desert from a Dune Buggy' is so similar to 'Desert Through the Door' that it’s by definition unnoteworthy. 'The Morning After' includes a clock-like regulator with a three-note repeated sequence. We conclude with 'Requiem, K.626 Lacrimosa (Reprise)', another section of track 2’s Mozart music.
I have to wonder why the two main pieces which feature Mozart have not been edited together as a longer suite. All of these tracks are pretty short and, as I’ve mentioned in a couple of other soundtrack reviews, it would have been nice to have had the composers restructure some of the similar excerpts into lengthier music which has continuity for the soundtrack and can be appreciated as a completed whole. As it stands, this score has some nice little samples but comes across as having no real substance. It’s very similar at each point, with only slight variations or sound effects. I’m intrigued by the film itself, which sounds like my sort of thing; however, the lack of variation and length here leaves the release found wanting.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2020)
Sacred Bones Records releases the single 'Skeleton' b/w 'Unclean Spirit', by John Carpenter. It is available on vinyl, to download or Stream. John Carpenter is a film director who has written and performed the music soundtracks to the vast majority of his movies – including Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Escape From New York (1981), They Live (1988), In the Mouth of Madness (1994), Halloween (2018), and many more. He has also released two CDs of film-style music: Lost Themes (2015), and Lost Themes II (2016)...
I am a long-time big fan of John Carpenter. He is my favourite film director of all time, by a long way. What he has managed to achieve, mostly on a very restricted budget, is truly remarkable – especially as he has written or co-written the majority of the scripts, and produced the scores. It is tantamount to his skill and proficiency that none of them have ever failed to make a profit at the box office and, furthermore, Halloween was the biggest grossing independent film for many years. Even were he not famous for his filmmaking, he would be notable for his music mood prowess, which enhances his movies further still and make them identifiable purely by their main themes.
I could bore the hind legs off a donkey with what I know and love about John Carpenter (I have all the soundtracks and the films on different formats), but let’s concentrate on the new non-movie theme, 'Skeleton'. Carpenter sticks to what he is best at – and certainly recognised for – electronica and synthesiser music, latterly injected with electric guitar for added impact. A trademark rattling, throbbing is washed over by a warm synth sound. It is joined by a beat, a subtle ringing and electric guitar noise. The second time around it’s slightly different, being led by piano. The whole piece builds and has constant movement. In that respect it has some similarities to the Main Theme from Ghosts of Mars. However, if anything it’s better, and refuses to outstay its welcome with a duration of approximately three minutes.
'Unclean Spirit' is quite different, in that it is low and foreboding but strangely melancholy, too. The groundwork is sprinkled with atmospheric sounds, and is joined by electric piano. The central piece begins reasonably high and emerges much lower, injecting a couple of sequenced "Ah, Ah’s". It’s hard to do significant justice to work like this. There are lots of intrinsic eccentricities which fit perfectly but are difficult to describe. Let me simply opine that the great man has lost none of his prowess in ‘feeling’ a piece – even when there is no film to inspire the mood or direction.
This release is a taster for Carpenter’s next CD, Lost Themes III: Alive After Death, released in February 2021. Do yourself a favour: if you haven’t heard any of his music, try the Anthology album of his film music, or Escape From New York for its diversity (although I prefer The Fog for its creeping malaise). For original non-film music, the first Lost Themes album is particularly good, as it’s original but at different points puts in short teasers for the fans to recognise (“Hey, that little bit is from his Prince of Darkness score!). I have seen John Carpenter and his band live on two separate visits to London, playing his themes to screened montages, as well as promoting the Lost Themes albums. The guy is 72 years old now, but let me tell you he can still rock with the best of them. Can’t wait for the new album.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2020)
WaterTower Music (Warner Media) releases Stargirl: Season 1: Original Television Soundtrack. From the DC Comics beginning in 1991, Stargirl portrays the first superhero team, Justice Society of America, and in particular High School student Courtney Whitmore, as she inspires others to confront villains from the past. The character is inspired by creator Geoff Johns’ sister, who sadly died in a plane explosion. Composer Pinar Toprak – originally from Turkey before moving to America – has previously scored the movie Captain Marvel, the Superman prequel series Krypton, and mega-selling video game Fortnite, among others. She has won various awards for her music and been shortlisted for an Emmy and Academy Award.
'The Justice League of America' kicks-off the proceedings with a pacey short piece. 'Pat Was Right' has a sad string section, with a pattering sound that turns into an Avengers like teaser of a full-blown theme, before easing-off again into piano tinkling. 'Rescuing Starman' is dramatic and incorporates hints of voices. I particularly like the little weird background noises.
'Friendly Folks' is a light interlude with a simple but effective melody. 'JSA Files' has a tentative start with much going on in the background. The first hint of an orchestral score. The music of 'The Cosmic Staff' fits the piece perfectly, easing under the narrative of the story. It knows exactly when and how to pick up the pace slightly, becoming more human and feeling. Music to make a person believe in themselves. 'Brainwave Calls Icicle' incorporates sad strings once more, with dark moments. 'Pat Reviews Files' has an edgy espionage-type sound, with dark rumblings and a light conclusion.
'Brainwave Threatens Courtney' includes fluttering strings and a melody inspiring intrigue. There is dark rumbling and a portentous heaviness. 'Leave Blue Valley' is another feeling string moment of melancholy. 'Elegy For Joey' has the sad strings, but in some ways becomes something close to a Western theme. 'Rex and Wendi Leave' portrays a galloping building of tension, which again switches to melancholy strings, before the drama ensues. 'Rick Wears the Hourglass' is piano and strings. 'Beth Meets Chuck' is a jaunty piece, whereas 'JSA Vs. ISA' has a moody, throbbing sound which evolves into a Holst-like dramatic moment.
'I’m not Stargirl' is a slow, melancholy piece. Keys and touches of electronica make this a simple but heartfelt number, with a late rumble of dark foreboding. 'Henry Vs. Henry' is a continuation of 'I’m not Stargirl', but soon takes-off with a searching horn melody and fluttering accompaniment. 'Fighting Sportsmaster & Tigress' – is an up-tempo beat which can’t help but make you connect with other heartfelt superhero battle scenes.
'ISA Manifesto' includes sounds which switch between mild strings and piano to off-kilter uncertainty, through to a mood of danger. 'Justin Needs Help' is a horror mood: dramatic with monk voices and religious aria undertones. 'The Christmas Gift' is a short linking piece. We wrap-up with 'Stargirl Destroys the Transmitter', which has dramatic themes in keeping with the superhero genre.
There is much to admire here but, for me, it’s missing a longer and more coherent suite of the main themes. This could quite easily have been done with the last track, the action and emotion playing-out at length to leave a lasting impression. Overall though, it’s a better than average score.
WaterTower Music releases the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for Wonder Woman 1984. In the DC/Warner Bros. movie, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, Diana Prince is living a quiet existence as a curator of ancient artifacts in the excessive and, some might say decadent time of Earth in the 1980s. She occasionally uses her powers to help in certain situations, but is forced to step into the limelight to save mankind from a world of its own making. During this time she will face Max Lord, as well as her fated nemesis Cheetah. The music is by Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer, who has previously scored The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar, Inception, and The Lion King. For this one, the director discussed with the composer not only a number of themes which would relate to the '80s, but layers of emotion for the character, and purer, more heroic variations on the original film version of Wonder Woman. The soundtrack is available for download...
'Themyscira' has a mystical opening which quickly evolves into the melodic and grand Wonder Woman theme. It has a taste of Christmas about it. 'Games' has a cheerleading and tribal mix to it. Very dramatic, it uses both orchestral and electronic elements. '1984' develops brass and string galloping music. 'Black Gold' has a marching beat which slaps you around the face before tentatively touching with tenderness. There’s underlying drama inherent. 'Wish We Had More Time' is an emotional short piece. 'The Stone' is something a little different, with a ticking chord sequence. 'Cheetah' incorporates a fantasy element with dark movement and a synthesiser beat. This track isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. 'Fireworks' is a known theme, moderate and purposeful. 'Anything You Want' has jaunty Electronica which is joined by strings, that make the piece more plaintive… Before it builds into a theme of its own. Nice.
'Open Road' has a heavy drumbeat and an overly dramatic full melody. Ironically, this is a little dull. 'Without Armour' is a light harp piece, with strings and choir voices. 'The White House' has a running pace that is taken-over by heavy beats and slamming. In 'Already Gone' the building stomping returns with a siren, but then becomes more melancholic. A sweeping movement. 'Radio Waves' has a distorted rumble and backbeat which becomes an often-utilised clattering, with a simple repeating tune. 'Lord of Desire' is a short, with a chanting choir. 'The Beauty In What Is' jams variations on the earlier main theme. We reach 'Truth' and, as the soundtrack moves on, ideas are re-used, and the central piece is returned to far too often. Towards the end I am tiring of having my ears stomped all over… and this is from a reviewer who loves Metal music! The Bonus Track, 'Lost and Found' makes the entire soundtrack worthwhile. It is a much more restrained and emotional piece. Furthermore, at just under twelve minutes this is much more of a suite. Wonderful, you might say. This gains an extra mark by itself.
With some tracks averaging between five and seven minutes, there is opportunity to hear more of a developing piece than on many other soundtracks. However, this has to be tempered with repeating themes towards the end, and an imbalance weighing heavily on overly prolonged dramatic themes. The Bonus Track proves the fact the composer has another feather to his cap, and is more versatile than the rest of the score would have us believe.
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