Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Saturday, December 31, 2005

CD REVIEW - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - The Complete Recordings

Music by Howard Shore
Reprise Records 49454-2
Disc 1 - 14 Tracks 58:37 mins Disc 2 - 14 Tracks 59:09 mins Disc 3 - 9 Tracks 63:03 mins

We had all been expecting them, but had been lead to believe that when the complete recordings from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy were released they would be in one huge boxed set, featuring every note from the three extended editions of the films, with possibly a DVD of all kinds of material as a bonus. This always seemed to me to be a wonderful but likely prohibitively expensive item, so perhaps it was with some relief when I learnt that the decision had been taken to release the three scores separately, at least I hope that will be the case, but maybe it will depend on sales of the first score, which is in itself quite pricey, though worth it I'm sure, if you're a true fan of the films and of film music in general.
The release is impressively packaged in a box made to resemble a bound edition of the first book in the trilogy. Inside the cover is attached a DVD, not of the kind expected, but containing the complete score in superior digital sound, and you can choose four formats to play it in, depending on your equipment. If you have a humble DVD player like me, you should be able to play it and will be rewarded with wonderful crisp sound, revealing every little nuance of the music and if you listen hard enough, I swear you can almost hear the orchestra's hair growing!
Getting past the cover, the inner packaging lifts out and again resembles a book with the three CDs of the score sitting inside, with their track listings alongside. I just haven't the time unfortunately to go into a detailed account of the music, so would guide you to the reviews section at for a detailed analysis. Suffice to say that the original soundtrack recording that appeared at the time of the film's release featured 71 minutes of music, quite a bit of which was edited in one way or another, and there is over three hours of music presented here, which is indeed the complete score for the extended DVD version of the film. Because of this editing, the track titles on the original CD seldom correspond with those on this release, so you will have to search through for your favourite moments, but they will mostly be there somewhere, though perhaps in a different context than on the original.
Unfortunately, there is no cue-by-cue guide contained in the accompanying 45-page booklet, which might have helped. Instead, Doug Adams, whose book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films is released in 2006, provides a summary of the score, together with a thematic breakdown, because this is, after all, the film where most of the themes from all three films are introduced.
I can't recommend this release highly enough, but do shop around for it, as prices can vary wildly. I just hope that it is the success it deserves to be, so that further releases of the complete scores for The Two Towers and The Return of the King are guaranteed to become a reality.

Friday, December 30, 2005

CD REVIEWS - It's Bronislau Kaper night!

Music by Bronislau Kaper
Film Score Monthly Vol.8 No.15 (U.S.)
22 Tracks 72:21 mins

Fortunately for us, Film Score Monthly seem bound and determined to release everything the late Polish composer in Hollywood Bronislau Kaper ever composed. They have been steadily working through his catalogue and here is the first of two more releases, both featuring scores from the 1950s.
Lili is the ever popular semi-musical film from 1953, starring the young Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer, which spawned the ever-popular song Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo. But things could have been so much different had Kaper chosen Plymouth Adventure of the two films offered to him at the time.
Thankfully, for fans of both films and scores, he didn't, although incredibly it has taken until now for the full score to be released, with only a four-track EP appearing at the time of the film's release.
Presented in fine mono sound, the 49-minute score features the famous song, plus numerous variations thereon, as well as the innocent little b-theme that accompanies it. Much of the score consists of original source music for the carnival setting, all of it highly tuneful, as one would expect from one of Hollywood's greastest tunesmiths. There are also a couple of delightful ballets, the second included in the lengthy final track, which runs for more than 12 minutes and of course finishes in a fittingly glorious climax.
22 Minutes of bonus material includes alternate takes, piano rehearsals and trailer music, much of it featuring the famous Hi-Lili. As usual, a colourful and informative booklet accompanies the CD, with a cue-by-cue to the music presented.

Invitation/A Life of Her Own
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Film Score Monthly Vol.8 No.17
35 Tracks 76:07 mins

Another popular Kaper theme is "Invitation," which in fact didn't spring from the 1952 film of the same name, but was first composed for 1950's A Life of Her Own. Unfortunately however, little of the dramatic score to that Lana Turner starrer remains, though piano source presentations of the theme are included here. But first to Invitation, which makes up the bulk of this disc, although the score itself only accounts for 33 minutes, but what there is of it is saturated with the theme, again sometimes as source, but mostly as dramatic underscore. There is a melancholy b-theme, and some disturbing moments, but it's mostly the famous theme that is on display.
The bonus material from the film includes tunes from Lennie Hayton, Brown & Freed, a traditional Tyrolean waltz and a couple of classical excerpts from Strauss and Schubert, plus a piano improv of the theme by Jerry Goldsmith's old teacher Jacob Gimpel.
As I said, there is very little dramatic score surviving from A Life of Her Own, but some largely disturbing and dissonant cues remain, along with a good deal of source music, including those piano renditions of "Invitation," plus plenty more tuneful dance music from Kaper, including a lively jazz arrangement of the composer's "All God's Chilun Got Rhythm." Again, there are also tracks by Andre Previn and Lennie Hayton.
The usual cue-by-cue guide is included in the informative booklet that accompanies the disc.
The label's next Kaper release will be The Glass Slipper. Watch this space!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

CD REVIEWS - King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

It's blockbuster night here at ScreenSounds as I bring you my reviews of the scores for the hottest films at the box office today.

King Kong
Music by James Newton Howard
Decca 476 5224 (EU)
21 Tracks 74:40 mins

Considering James Newton Howard joined the project so late in the day, after the desparture of Howard Shore, he and his army of orchestrators and conductors did a remarkable job as evidenced by this generous soundtrack recording (though there is much more music in the film that couldn't possibly fit on the album).
I must admit that my initial reaction was one of disappointment when Shore left the project as I think many of us were looking forweard to another score of the quality of his LOTR music but, on reflection, perhaps we might ultimately have expected too much of him and were probably destined for disappointment anyhow. After all, how could he possibly have topped LOTR?
No, perhaps it was better some other composer had a go, but the question was should it be Howard? Some had their doubts, but I kept an open mind for the most part, though still disappointed not to hear Shore's work.
Well, I'm pleased to say that Howard has delivered a perfectly serviceable score, which pushes all the right buttons. There is music of awe and majesty for Kong himself, a delicate piano-lead love theme for Ann and some truly exciting action music, with just a touch of humour provided by the jazzy theme for Carl Denham. Often the tracks flow seemlessly between one another, no more effectively than the final five cues, entitled Beauty Killed the Beast I-V, which beautifully cover the fight with the bi-planes, Kong's death and the final resolution.
Howard utilises choir to good effect alongside his orchestra and there is a telling solo by boy soprano Ben Inman during Kong's requiem, following his tumble from the top of the Empire State Building.
For those of you still lamenting the departure of Howard Shore, you can take heart that his chameo, conducting the pit orchestra when Kong is put on exhibition in New York, remains in the film and, a nice touch, Max Steiner's music from the original is utilised for the scene, as well as Kong's escape.
In conclusion, another fine score to add to James Newton Howard's list of credits.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - The Special Edition Soundtrack
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Walt Disney 094634768122 (EU)
CD - 17 Tracks 70:53 mins + Bonus DVD

Some critics have been disappointed with Harry Gregson-Williams' music for this long-awaited adaptation of the classic C.S.Lewis childrens' adventure, saying it's a typical Meida Ventures score and, as such, inappropriate Well, I have to say I don't totally agree with that analysis. True, there are similarities, but then the composer does come from that school, so it's maybe understandable, but this is not the same sound at all, in that it is mostly live orchestra and choir that can be heard, with any electronics being so subtle as to not draw attention to themselves.
In fact, Gregson-Williams has written a number of cues which feature solo parts, which stand out effectively amongst the larger orchestral-choral showpieces. The score is awash with themes, some delicate and bittersweet, others quite heartwarming, whilst the main Narnia theme itself is quite splendid and I'd love to hear a concert version someday.
The featured orchestra is the Los Angeles Recording Arts Orchestra, with no less than three choirs being utilised, The Bach Choir, The Choir of the King's Consort and the Sylvia Young Theatre School Choir; and the excellent Lisbeth Scott also features tellingly.
The only disappointment is that more score could not have been featured on the disc, as the last four tracks are taken up with songs by Imogen Heap, Alanis Morissette and Tim Finn, with the composer himself collaborating on the final track with Lisbeth Scott. Not that the songs are unpleasant, it's just I would have preferred them to be included on the "Music Inspired by" album to make room for more of the fine underscore.
This Special Edition is attractively packaged in a simulated leather-bound foldout cover and comes with an attractively illustrated and informative 40-page souvenir booklet and bonus DVD, which features a Film Art Gallery, Concept Art Gallery, Film Trailer and "Behind the Magic of Narnia" - a series of 6 featurettes, including a 12-minute interview with the composer, with footage from the recording sessions and another on the "Music Inspired By" album, with interviews with some of the featued artists. A very nice score and package indeed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

CD REVIEW - Perfect Dark Zero

Hello, I'm back and hope you are too. I trust you all had a thoroughly good Christmas. So to business and just one review today and it's for another game score:-

Perfect Dark Zero
Music by David Clynick
Sumthing Else SE-2020-2
27 Tracks 74:03 mins

This XBox 360 game is a prequel to the international award-winning and multi-million-selling first-person shooter Perfect Dark from Rare, Ltd. and boasts a score, which soundtrack producer Nile Rodgers describes as "one of the tightest, most exciting, kick ass high tech/emo/groove/dance soundtracks ever to drop" and further states it is "the beginning of the future of game soundtracks." Well, I don't know about that, but I'm sure it is most appropriate for the kind of game it supports.
To be honest, I found the album pretty dull and directionless up to and including the two songs Glitter Girl by MorissonPoe and Limelight by Kepi and Kat. Thereafter, however, things do improve considerably, although it is fair to say that if you don't like the main theme, which is more akin to Earle Hagen's I Spy than to anything out of the James Bond movies, you'll probably soon tire of the score, which is largely a series of variations on said theme, some techno, some rock-styled and some a mixture of both. Clynik does however provide some nice Asian touches to a few tracks and some flow pretty well, and perhaps could be likened somewhat to David Arnold's action scoring for the recent James Bond series. Another MorissonPoe track brings this lengthy album to a close.
If you like your game scores to kick ass in a very modern way, this could well be for you, but if you're more into symphonic game scoring, you will be disappointed, but then that kind of score would not seem at all appropriate for the world the developers have created here.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Zathura & Oliver Twist

Music by John Debney
Varese Sarabande 302 066 705 2 (U.S.)
20 Tracks 44:26 mins

For this family sci-fi adventure, John Debney has come up with a score that has left some critics raving, comparing it to past triumphs like Cutthroat Island. I wouldn't go as far as that, but it has been a good year for the composer, what with his fine score for Dreamer and his enjoyable, if somewhat familiar music for Chicken Little. What we have for Zathura is a bold and adventurous orchestral/choral score in the finest sci-fi traditions of John Williams and the like, commencing with his heroic main theme and travelling on through some exciting and menacing action sequences, mystical vocals and even a few intimate and tender moments. An enjoyable romp is how I would best describe it and I look forward to viewing the images it supports.

Oliver Twist
Music by Rachel Portman
Sony SK 96506 (EU)
18 Tracks 53:26 mins

Rachel Portman can always be depended upon to come up with the goods for adaptations of classic period stories and her latest effort is no exception. It should however be pointed out that, although the score starts out in her typically jaunty and lightweight fashion, Oliver Twist isn't all sunshine and light and accordingly Portman's score takes a dramatic shift around Track 9 Watching Mr. Brownlow's House and continues on darkly until a return to her jaunty theme for Oilver concludes the album. There's some genuine suspense here and also some dark and desperate action, illustrating Nancy's tragic fate and Bill Sykes' flight from the law, which shows another side to the composer. Earlier things are indeed more hopeful, though even amongst the craftiness of The Artful Dodger and the versatile, vaguely Jewish theme for Fagin, a note of sadness enters here and there, like in A Kind Old Woman, though even this ends warmly. Whether light or dark, the music is unmistakenly Portman's and if you are a fan of her work, you should definitely seek this one out to add to your collection.

Well, that's it from me until after the holidays, but there's plenty more to look forward to in days to come, so check back for reviews of all six releases to date of Gabriel Yared's earlier work on the Cinefonia label; four from Varese Sarabande: Stargate:Atlantis, Doom, Where the Truth Lies and Firefly; Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe; the Perfect Dark Zero game score from Sumthing Else; King Kong from Decca; Brokeback Mountain from Verve Forecast; The Brothers Grimm and The Island from Milan; Ballets Russes from Intrada; The Film Music of William Alwyn Vol.3 from Chandos, Syriana from RCA; plus a few surprises. So, in the meantime, it only remains for me to wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a New Year with plenty of good music to listen to.

Friday, December 23, 2005

CD REVIEWS - La Frusta e il Corpo/Sei Donne per L'Assassino & Le Cactus

La Frusta e il Corpo/Sei Donne per L'Assassino
Music by Carlo Rustichelli
Digitmovies CDDM041
Disc 1 - 21 Tracks 61:07 mins Disc 2 - 19 Tracks 39:40 mins

Another great 2-disc set from Digitmovies, this time featuring two Carlo Rustichelli scores for the films of Mario Bava.
Disc One features the complete score, in fine mono sound, for 1963's La Frusta e il Corpo, which features Christopher Lee as a sadistic ghost and contains a lovely piano and orchestra love theme, which became known as the "Windsor Concerto," and which Rustichelli considered one of his finest compositions, so much so that he later authorised a concert version of the theme, which is featured as a bonus track at the end of the disc. The theme itself crops up throughout the score in variations, the best of which is the fullest score version in Track 13. Much of the rest of the score is dark, suspenseful and menacing, so the love theme comes as quite a relief when it appears.
Disc Two features Rustichelli's complete score, in stereo, for the following year's Sei Donne per L'Assassino, a more conventional murder thriller, which sports an infectious latin jazz main theme with trumpet lead. Again, its re-appearance is very welcome, passionately on strings in Defile and even when played by Hammond organ as on Sospetti, with a final spectacular appearance for Hammond organ, fluttering strings and then trumpet on the final score track Il Volto Dell'Assassino. In between the score is again mostly suspenseful and menacing.
As a bonus, both sides of the original C.A.M. single in mono, and a version of the main theme, without trumpet, round out the disc.
As always, a colourful and informative booklet accompanies the set, and features an appreciation of and interview with the composer by Tim Lucas.

Coming soon to ScreenSounds. Watch out for my reviews of the latest releases from Digitmovies - Fiorenzo Carpi's Un Bianco Vestito per Mariale, Stelvio Cipriani's Blindman and the pairing of the same composer's Ecologia del Delitto and Gli Orrori del Castello di Norimberga in another impressive 2-CD set.

Le Cactus
Music by Michel Munz and various artists
Milan 301 732-2 (France)

Milan kindly sent me a promo of this disc, but I'm afraid it is likely to be of little interest to score enthusiasts, featuring as it does only three instrumentals - two by Munz, an upbeat electronica main theme and a brief overture, which begins mysteriously then guitar and strings move it along to its climax. The other track is by Aldo Crianza and Will Corner and is a catchy enough mix of traditional Indian instruments and a steady pop backing.
The remainder of the album is given over to Indian songs, mostly in the Bollywood tradition, performed by various artists.
They also sent me a single from the film La Vie est a Nous!, a pleasant enough song by Moira Conrath, but let's hope Alexandre Azaria's score album is forthcoming. Azaria is beginning to attract attention internationally, following his work on Fanfan la Tulipe, Les Dalton and Transporter 2.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

CD REVIEWS - I Quattro Dell'Ave Maria & Piedone a Hong Kong

I Quattro Dell'Ave Maria
Music by Carlo Rustichelli
Digitmovies CDDM043 (Italy)
Disc 1 - 16 Tracks 30:35 mins Disc 2 - 25 Tracks 63:20 mins

There have been previous releases of music from this 1968 Bud Spencer/Terence Hill western, but this must be the definitive one, bringing together on disc one the original album tracks, together with over an hour of previously unreleased music on disc two, including source music and alternative cues.
Taking the album first, Rustichelli's music features a muscular, upbeat main theme, sometimes coupled with a Strauss-like string theme or a quirky organ waltz. In fact Tomas organ crops up consistantly throughout the score, playing fragments of this and that, with the score's conductor Bruno Nicolai performing the solos. I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni also feature, particularly strongly on the main theme. Other score highlights include Motivo Dei, a beautiful romantic track for organ and orchestra and the infectious Mexican dance Mexico Lindo, but really there's so much to offer in the score that there's barely a disappointing track.
The supplemental material on disc two features fuller orchestral and extended versions of many of the album tracks, but there's also a lot of new material, including some generous suites.
The source and alternative material includes some marching band and folksy dance music, plus a number of stripped down versions of themes, with solo instruments or duets; and there is a fascinating bonus track featuring an excerpt from a recording session, on which can be heard the voices of both composer and conductor.
The usual colourful and informative booklet accompanies this splendid release.

Piedone a Hong Kong
Music by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis
Digitmovies CDM042 (Italy)
26 Tracks 71:33 mins

Digitmovies previously released two more scores in the series of 1970s movies starring Bud Spencer as a two-fisted cop, Piedone lo Sbirro (CDDM031) and Piedone L'Africano (CDDM029). Here he travels to Hong Kong in this 1975 entry, which features a typically catchy score by the De Angelis brothers, for which only a single was previously available (both sides included here as bonus material). Now, thanks to the label's good relations with C.A.M., we can enjoy the complete score, starting out with the catchy, easy-going main theme Flat Foot Cop,
which is reprised throughout the album in various forms like for Spanish guitar or in a tarantella-like version. The other strong theme Silkin Street is a brassy, beat-driven affair, and this is also reprised in various forms throughout the album. Other highlights include some nice source music cues and the quirky comic march for Mimi "Mani D'Oro." Unfortunately, some of the '7os grooves are a bit repetitive, but one can soon skip on to one of the more melodic cues, of which there are plenty.
Again, a colourful and informative booklet accompanies this lengthy album. Another winner from this enterprising label.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Prince of Persia and Kameo: Elements of Power

Prince of Persia - The Official Trilogy Soundtrack
Music by Stuart Chatwood and Inon Zur
Ubisoft Promo
19 Tracks 46:52 mins

Veteran game score composer Inon Zur recently shared scoring duties with Stuart Chatwood on the third game in the Prince of Persia trilogy The Two Thrones, and both composers' efforts for all three games are represented on this disc.
The first 8 tracks feature Chatwood's very Middle-Eastern sounding music, driven by percussion, combined with synths and voices. It's all catchy enough, but none of the tracks are long enough to really grab onto. Trouble in the Barracks is a bit of a mis-step, featuring rock guitars, which sound completely out of place; whilst Time Only Knows starts out very Indian-sounding and ends up with a pop ballad by an uncredited female singer.
Tracks 9 - 15 are composed by Zur and are noticeably different for, although he still uses voices, the music is realised orchestrally, with the Hollywood Studio Symphony no less, which makes for a much more cinematic sound. Added to this, there is some quality action writing, featuring plenty of menace and heroism. Zur's final track Kaileena Free From Fate starts menacingly but then a flute solo gives way to suitable "calm after the storm" music before steadily building to its climax.
Not to be outdone however, Chatwood returns with the final four tracks, all of which, whilst still utilising the same basic sound, are much longer and more satisfying than his previous cues, with some fine, rhythmic action writing of his own.
On the evidence of this disc, I would imagine all three games are well-supported and enhanced by their soundtracks.

Kameo: Elements of Power
Music by Steve Burke
Sumthing Else SE-2021-2
17 Tracks 58:11 mins

Steve Burke is a new name to me but, on the evidence of his score for this XBox 360 title, I feel certain I shall be hearing more of his music in the future.
Utilising the City of Prague Philharmonic and Kings Choir, under the baton of Nic Raine, Burke has come up with a very fine score indeed for this action/adventure game. Highlights include the splendid march found in Hero's Theme; the menacing The Badlands; the relentless action of Thorn's Pass, Ice Mountain Onslaught and Danger in the Sky; and the big and impressive choral conclusion in Legend Unfolds.
In addition to the orchestral score, there are three studio-realised tracks, all featuring the voice of Aisling Duddy, the best of which is the quirky march Crystal Cavern. Another vocal, the suitably tragic A Lament for Solon, features the voice of Eveline Novakovic.
Another first-class game score and this one you can buy, so what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Duma and Who Gets the House?

Yes, I'm back after vistors and work prevented me making any postings the last couple of days. I suppose it's inevitable I shall miss the odd day or two here and there, but keep coming back, as I aim to make a posting every day if I can. Anyway, I've managed a couple of reviews today, so here goes:-

Music by John Debney and George Acogny
Varese Sarabande VSD-6701
19 Tracks 40:54 mins

This recent film of a boy and his cheetah boasts suitably African sounding music, with a group of African vocalists enhancing the largely percussion-based score either individually or in tandem. Highlights include the playful Cute Kitten Montage; the percussive choral actioner Land Yacht, which is also given a less than successful rocky remix later on; the menacing action and ultimate triumph of Croc River; and the joyous Freedom. A couple of African vocal numbers bookend the score tracks. I don't know anything about the film but, listening to this album I should imagine the music pushes all the appropriate buttons.

Who Gets the House?
Music by Alan Williams
Silverscreen SMCD 009
21 Tracks 47:45 mins

Again, I know nothing of the film, but this orchestral score from 1999 is of the romantic comedy variety, starting off with the swinging number Evermore, performed by Sinatra clone Patrick Tuzzolino. There follows a chaotic, rhythmic Main Title cue, before the Love Theme is introduced, which is versatile enough to sound decidedly sad in some tracks, and romantic and heartwarming in others. A tango-like rhythm acoompanies Counch Counciling, while another recurring theme, a somewhat subdued little mover crops up on a number of occasions. Photo Montage is particularly heartwarming and Dad Realizes almost spirtual, before the End Credits provides a satisfying reprise of the score's most recurring themes.

As, I've said before, is definitely worth a visit to check out the composer's full range of CDs. Not that I get much time to revisit favourite CDs in my collection, but I would recommend the documentary scores for Mark Twain's America, Lewis and Clark, Kilimanjaro, and Lion of the Americas - all have strong thematic material and some fine incidental scoring; the animations Tiny Heroes, with its strong main theme and The Princess and the Pea, for which Williams provided both score and songs, the latter in collaboration with David Pomeranz; the charming Christmasy score for Santa and Pete; Crab Orchard, with its melodic guitar and piano based score, vaguely reminiscent of SnuffyWalden; and the delightful Television Suites, which features music from no less than five TV films.
I'm looking forward to bringing you a review of the composer's forthcoming release Suits on the Loose, as soon as it's available.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

CD REVIEW - Coma/Westworld/The Carey Treatment

Coma/Westworld/The Carey Treatment
Music by Jerry Goldsmith/Fred Karlin/Roy Budd
Film Score Monthly Vol.8 No.16
Disc 1 - 29 Tracks 74:49 mins Disc 2 - 23 Tracks 72:04 mins

Perhaps this double-disc collection should be subtitled "Music from the films of Michael Crichton, as he directed two and wrote one of the films here represented.
Disc One features the premiere release of Roy Budd's score for the 1972 thriller, which starred James Coburn. Budd has been well represented on disc in rcent years, it's just a shame it couldn't have happened while the much-missed pianist and composer was still with us. Carey features a typically catchy melody, given an upbeat poppy treatment in the Main and End titles, with Courtship, a more laid-back romantic treatment of the theme, featuring Budd at the piano. A further romantic treatment is given in Interlude, which ends in some brassy chase music. The rest of the cues are a mix of suspense and action, with a number of source cues, most featuring Budd's piano playing.
The other score featured on the first disc is for 1973's Westworld, which Fred Karlin scored with a mixture of source cues and some futuristic sounds, largely produced in his own studio. Much of the soruce is of the country & western variety, but there is also medieval music, depending on which "world" we are visting. The latter cues are mostly tense, futuristic chase music.
Disc Two commences with a number of bonus tracks from all three films represented, mostly source cues, with Budd again demonstrating his prowess at the piano and some beat-driven disco music from Coma, but also a dance band arrangement of the theme from The Prize.
The score that headlines the disc is that of Jerry Goldsmith for 1978's Coma,
unusual for its lack of brass within the orchestra. Goldsmith instead goes for an expanded string section, woodwinds and percussion. It's not an easy score to listen to, being mostly of the tense, suspenseful and disturbing nature, but it perfectly fit the dark nature of the film. There are definite echoes of Bernard Herrmann in the score, and similarities to other Goldsmith scores of the time, especially Alien. As something of a brief respite from all of this, the composer came up with a quite beautiful love theme, given a carefree, poppy arrangement in Cape Cod Weekend. This theme is presented as a vocal by an unknown female singer as the last track on the disc.
Accompanying the set is the usual colourful and informative booklet, with notes by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall, including a complete cue-by-cue guide.

Friday, December 16, 2005

CD REVIEW - The Film Music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold

The Film Music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Rumon Gamba
Chandos Movies CHAN 10336
18 Tracks 76:22 mins

Here we have another excellent recording from Chandos in their Movies series, and unusually it's Hollywood film music that's on the menu this time, with the premiere complete recording of Korngold's score from 1941's The Sea Wolf, which starred Edward G. Robinson in one of his greatest performances, Alexander Knox, Ida Lupino and John Garfield.
Korngold is best loved for his operatic sweep and wonderfully melodic soundtracks to favourites such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk. The Sea Wolf is a much different animal, but in fact more akin to the operas he composed, in that it is a dark and turbulent score which, whilst it does have romantic touches, is largely a much more challenging listen than most of his film scores. There is much mystery and suspense, with a little conflict, and barely anything truly melodic to latch onto. In fact the bonus track "Trailer for 'The Sea Wolf'" features much of the film's thematic material and would probably be enough for some. However, as a taster for Korngold's operatic output, this might give you a good idea of what to expect - minus the voices of course.
After the 55 minutes of The Sea Wolf, Gamba gives us something of an antidote in the form of another recording of the suite from The Adventures of Robin Hood, with it's stirring battle music and beautiful love theme.
President of the Korngold Society and Korngold biographer, Brendan G.Carroll, provides the accompanying booklet notes, which are given in English, German and French.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

CD REVIEWS - The Getaway & Sinfonia Tapkaara

The Getaway
Music by Jerry Fielding
Film Score Monthly Vol.8 No.18 (U.S.)
16 Tracks 38:05 mins

At last we get to hear the rejected score for the Steve McQueen/Ali MacGraw version of The Getaway from 1972. I won't go into the politics of the situation as these are amply covered in the accompanying booklet, but suffice to say that Jerry Fielding, director Sam Peckinpah's composer of choice found his efforts tossed out in favour of a new score by Quincy Jones. Whatever you think of Jones' efforts, it is great to finally be able to hear Fielding's score, even if, like most of his efforts, which often work wonderfully on screen, but are less involving away from the images they are composed for, I don't find it an album I will be much returning to.
There is much tense, suspenseful action music, with the lengthy "The Bank Robbery" very reminiscent of Fielding's music for the similar opening scenes in Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. The other lengthy track, "Hotel Confrontation" is another tense affair and demonstrates the composer's preference for writing around the action, rather than through it. Unfortunately, this does not make for a satsifying listen on CD, where you sit there just dying for some flowing music to latch onto. Some lightness figures in the score, namely the love theme for the McQueen/MacGraw characters, first heard in an ethereal treatment in "The Water Hole," and more conventionally in "Texas Trash Heap." Rounding out the score are a number of source cues of the pop/country variety.
As a bonus, there is included a DVD, featuring a half-hour documentary Main Title 1M1: Jerry Fielding, Sam Peckinpah and The Getaway, in which Fielding's widow Camille, their daughter Elizabeth and Katy Haber, Peckinpah's long-time confidante, assistant and lover, reminisce about the composer and his relationship with the director.
As I said, Nick Redman's accompanying booklet notes give the troubled history of the film and its music and also provide a cue-by-cue guide to the CD, even providing the means to synchronise the music to the film should you wish to go down that path.

Sinfonia Tapkaara
Music by Akira Ifukube
Naxos Japanese Classics 8.557587 (EU)
5 Tracks 60:45 mins

Fans of Akira Ifukube's music for Japanese monster movies, such as the Godzilla series, will want to snap this album up for his Symphonic Fantasia No.1, which combines themes from a number of these films, in a wonderful 13-minute suite, filled with bold marches and exciting action sequences.
Two concert pieces round out the disc, the title piece being the 25-minute Sinfonia Tapkaara, which has three movements and is equally enjoyable, with some flowing, rhythmic Japanese dance-style music and some almost funereal processional music, pausing only for a brief nocturne. The other concert piece is the 21-minute Ritmica Ostinata, which, as it sounds, consists largely of exciting ostinatos.
The accompanying booklet, in both English and German, provides biographical notes on the composer and a guide to each work.
Overall then, a thoroughly enjoyable album, full of movement, which really gets the blood circulating. So often composers who lead a double life between film and concert stage, compose very different music for each medium, but I'm glad to discover that Ifukube seemingly doesn't make that distinction and, on the evidence of this disc, I'd welcome the opportunity to hear more of his concert music any day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Hiding Place

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Music by John Ottman
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1039 (U.S.)
22 Tracks 54:44 mins

Shane Black's return to screenwriting, also sees him directing this black comedy-thriller, which stars Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer.
The music is by John Ottman and largely consists of suspenseful, lightly jazzy music, somewhat in the '70s thriller style, with occasional exciting bursts of action and a little menace, but there is also a light, airy, fairytale quality to the music, particularly the main theme, with its sax and voices. A vocal Broken performed and co-composed by Robert Downey Jr completes the album, which comes with the usual colourful and informative booklet, featuring notes from both writer/director and composer.
Ottman seems to have become the composer of choice for superheroes these days, but a score like this one, really reveals his greatest strengths.

The Hiding Place
Music by Jared Depasquale
25 Tracks 47:49 mins

Jared Depasquale continues to write excellent scores for Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, the latest, which is available in many "family resource" catalogues and Wal-Marts across the States, being for this true story of the Ten Boom family, who hid Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland during World War II.
The composer says "writing this score was especially difficult because I wanted to bring an authentic feel to the music. In other words, this shouldn't be a Hollywood score. I wanted it to sound as if a Dutch or Polish composer wrote the music. I found myself constantly listening to Henryk Gorecki Hendrik Andriessen and Krzystof Penderecki, as well as a lot of traditional Jewish music, hoping to absorb the emotion all those composer felt."
Well, he's certainly succeeded in producing yet another fine score for a story from the Holocaust, with the help of the Wormwood Orchestra. There is quite naturally an overall sense of tragedy, with fine, sensitive string writing, and some moving, emotional swells. Solos from mezzo soprano Buffy Baggot, in a setting of an excerpt from Psalm 119, violinist David Davidson and pianist Don Bryn, add poignancy, and Building the Hiding Place bristles with determination. Betsie's Death/Transcendence features passionate strings, ending in a very uplifting manner, with bells and voices; with Release and Remembrance providing an equally uplifting and emotional finale.
Though not commercially available, you can purchase a copy of the score directly from the composer by visiting his website at

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Releases from Orange Mountain Music

The 2006 Golden Globe Awards nominations are in and in the music category they are as follows:-

Gustavo Santaolalla for Brokeback Mountain
Harry Gregson-Williams for The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
James Newton Howard for King Kong
John Williams for Memoirs of a Geisha
Alexandre Desplat for Syriana

As I've been working like a dog again today, I still have had no time to review any CDs, which is most frustrating as they continue to pile up, but in the words of a famous fictional Southern Belle "tomorrow is another day." Anyway, although I don't feel qualified to review them, I must bring your attention to two recent releases from Orange Mountain Music of New York, who primarily release music by Philip Glass and I have had the pleasure of reviewing many of their CDs in the past, mostly film music, but not always.
Firstly, we have Music 4 Hands, which features six scenes from Glass' opera Les Enfants Terribles, performed by pianists Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa. Also on the disc is Steve Reich's "Piano Phase."
The second release is Glass' Symphony No.6: Plutonian Ode, which was co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Brucknerhaus Linz in celebration of the composer's 65th birthday. The libretto is Allen Ginsberg's Plutonian Ode, with the three movements of the symphony following the three parts of the poem. The first disc of this two-disc set features soprano Lauren Flanigan, with the Bruckner Orchester Linz, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. The second disc appears to feature the same performance, but with recitation by Ginsberg.

Monday, December 12, 2005

MAGAZINE WATCH - The Final issue of Film Score Magazine

Haven't had the opportunity to do any CD reviewing the past few days, having had to earn some money to live on, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to clue you in on the final two issues of what will be the much-missed Film Score Magazine, and you would probably be advised to get your copies before they become collector's items.

Volume 10, Number 8 features that much-underrated composer Michael Small on the cover and presents a very welcome appreciation of his work by Kyle Renick. There are interviews with Alex Wurman on March of the Penguins, John Frizzell on The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio, and Rolfe Kent on Just Like Heaven. There are also articles on the National Geographic scores that have been enjoying release on the Intrada label, and the music for the Miami Vice TV shows; a Goblin Buyer's Guide; an interview with Elliot Goldenthal regarding his opera Grendel; and a review of a recent concert of music for the Star Wars movies, plus an interview with its conductor Erich Kunzel; plus of course all the regular features.

The final issue, Volume 10, Number 6, includes an interview with David Newman on Serenity; a celebration of Erich Kunzel's 40th anniversary as conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, including an interview and a guide to the many film music collections they have recorded over the years; part one of The Danny Elfman Buyer's Guide; a rundown of the AFI's choices for the Top 25 greatest film scores ever - sure to be the cause of great discussion; a look at the Joe Dante/Jerry Goldsmith collaborations; the first part of a survey of scores from Shakespeare Films, concentrating this time on comedies; again, plus all the regular features.

So it's the end of an era. No more issues to lovingly hold and collect. But onwards and upwards as they say, and it only remains for me to wish the guys all the success in the world with their new online incarnation of the magazine, and to remind you to go to for details.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Two More from Alan Williams

The Jennie Project
Music by Alan Williams
Silverscreen SMCD 012
15 Tracks 45:49 mins

The first of two older releases covered here tonight, I have no idea what this 2001 film is about but, judging by the cover, I would say the Jennie of the title is a chimpanzee and, I imagine, the subject of some kind of intelligence experiment.
Anyway, to the music, and there is a charming main theme, some delicate and sad moments, with nice piano and flute work in particular; mixed with some exciting and more lighthearted jungle rhythms, even quite funky and rocky at times. The penultimate track, Rescuing Jennie runs the gamut, from exciting action to triumph then tragedy, before ending warmly; with the final cue resolving things happily with an African song and drum-backed main theme on flute.

Dead Sea Scrolls
Music by Alan Williams
Silverscreen SMCD 007
16 tracks 28:37 mins

The fact that this is a score for a documentary probably accounts for the short running time of this disc, and also for the use of synths in place of real strings. There are however live musicians, principally Joe Stone on English horn and recorders and vocalist Kathie Talbot, with the main thematic material, largely based on two themes, the first, mysterious Middle-Eastern-styled , and designed to transport the listener back to ancient times; the second, gently propulsive and percussive, subtly propelling the investigations into the scrolls. The only real drawback is the synths, but Williams uses them in such a way that they don't really outstay their welcome.

Again, two very different scores from Alan Williams and again if you go to his website at, you can sample his many other varied scores.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Two from Alan Williams

Music by Alan Williams
Silverscreen SMCD 021
18 Tracks 49:40 mins

The first of two recent CD releases I have for you today from Alan Williams' own Silverscreen label, Taylor starts off with a lonely, melancholy trumpet theme, reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith's Chinatown theme. This theme is to make key appearances throughout this largely low-key, melodic orchestral score, which has some lovely, delicate, sensitive piano, guitar, violin and flute work, but can also be propulsive when it has to be, as in the strings and harp-driven "Arriving at the House" and the optimistic piano of "Dinner Montage." Strings burst forth gloriously in the penultimate track "The Truth," before the "End Credits" reprise the busy guitar of "Remembering Barbie, concluding with a final statement of the trumpet theme.

Adventurous Andy
Music by Alan Williams
Silverscreen SMCD 020
3 Tracks 36:40 mins

This rarity from 2003, a silent short comedy, provided an unusual opportunity for the composer, who came up with a delightful score, separated into three tracks on this CD. First off we have an old-fashioned overture, based on Andy's busy, bustling, optimistic theme, with its passionate, soaring string interludes. There follow two suites, the titles of which are self-explanatory really: "Boy Meets Girl" and "The Date." Andy's theme crops up consistently throughout, but there are also plenty of slapsticky moments and a little suspense, even a little jazz. A new romantic theme is introduced, which is given an especially nice, delicate treatment for violin and piano in the latter suite.

You can plainly see from these two reviews that Alan Williams is nothing if not versatile and if you visit his website at, you can hear samples from his many fine CD releases, more of which will be reviewed here shortly.

Friday, December 09, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Loch Ness and Nanny McPhee

Loch Ness
Music by Trevor Jones
Perseverance Records PRD 007
27 Tracks 59:30 mins.

Grateful thanks go to Robin Esterhammer for somehow managing the amazing coup of releasing this much requested score by Trevor Jones for the charming 1996 fantasy starring Ted Danson and Joely Richardson.
The score is a delight throughout and features a lilting, majestic main theme, plus some wonderful pseudo-Scottish themes, be they adventurous or charming and romantic. Standout cues include the laid-back version fo the main theme for Dempsey Arrives in Scotland; the bold, brassy and adventurous The Expedition Prepares; the further adventure of Demspey Dispels the Myth, with its subtle use of saxophone; the romantic piano and guitar of Nice Eyes and You'll be Leaving in the A.M. respectively; the tender yet sad Laura and Dempsey Argue; the excited regency -styled scherzo London; the glorious final statement of the main theme in Where's Waldo?; and even the feelgood end credits song Rhythm of my Heart, performed here by unknown male vocalist, standing in for Rod Stewart, rights to whose vocal presumably could not be obtained.
Completing this must-have package is a colourful 16-page booklet, featuring Paul Tonks' guide to the film and its score and a biography of the composer. Bravo, Mr. Esterhammer!

Nanny McPhee
Music by Patrick Doyle
Varese Sarabande VSD-6690
21 Tracks 53:33 mins.

It's a pleasure to have two such fine CDs to review in today's posting. I have yet to hear Patrick Doyle's music for the latest Harry Potter cinematic adventure, but in the meantime this will do quite nicely, thank you.
I am not at all familiar with the childrens' books this little gem is based on but, from what I can gather, Emma Thompson plays a pretty frightening-looking nanny, with magical powers, who takes on the task of taming a household of tiny tearaways.
Right from the very first cue, They've Eaten the Baby!, with its harpsichord-lead comic promenade, chaotic capers and low-key waltz theme, Doyle had me hooked. No More Nannies features magical music with celeste, strings and awe-filled choir; followed by Secret Toast and Jam, a warm, yet bittersweet melody for woodwinds and strings. I could go on, as there is something to enjoy in every track, ending with the sublime Snow in August which reprises all the main thematic material quite gloriously.
A wonderful score then, but is it a warm-up for even greater things to come. We shall see!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

CD REVIEW - Peter Jackson's King Kong - The Official Game of the Movie and
News of another Game Score Release from Sumthing Else Music Works

Peter Jackson's King Kong - The Official Game of the Movie
Music by Chance Thomas
HUGEsound Promo
29 Tracks 60:11 mins.

Whilst one of the big Christmas events for filmgoers is Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong, gamers will have also been eagerly awaiting the game of the movie from Ubisoft.
Whilst there have been well documented problems with the music for the film, things appear to have run very smoothly as regards the game's musical score, composed by Chance Thomas, whose music graced the Lord of the Rings game series and who scored the Oscar-winning animated short film The ChubbChubbs.
For King Kong, Thomas recorded 120 minutes of music with the 70-piece Northwest Sinfonia and 40-piece Seattle Choral Company, with solo vocals provided by Jenny Jordan. A little over 60 minutes is available on this promo, which is more than enough to appreciate the power and epic sweep of this fine score, which, dare I say, the film's composer James Newton Howard will struggle to surpass.
At the heart of the score is the yearning, tragi-romanticism of Kong's theme, which also doubles for Skull Island, a theme that is easily transformed into pounding action music when necessary. And really, save for the sweeping strings and piano of Ann's Theme, it is the action music which the score will stand or fall by, and it most definitely stands. All powerful tribal drumbeats, brassy, relentless and menacing, it's as exciting as any recent film music action sequence I've heard.
Although, the score is sadly not yet available as an official CD release, take heart because if you visit, you can download over 35 minutes of MP3 files, and read the composer's own commentary on each cue. You can also access an exclusive game music video, documentary footage, photos, screen shots and candid behind-the-scenes anecdotes, so it's well worth the visit.
I'm certainly hoping to hear more of the music of Chance Thomas, be it for games or, on the strength of this music, maybe even for movies.



Original Music Composed by Stephen Rippy and Kevin McMullan,
Soundtrack Album Produced by Nile Rodgers

New York - December 5th, 2005 - Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc., through its licensing relationship with Microsoft Game Studios, is pleased to announce their latest release: Age of Empires=AE III Original Soundtrack. The soundtrack album from the third episode of the king of real-time strategy games, developed by Ensemble Studios and Microsoft Games Studios, is now available at US retail outlets through Nile Rodgers' Sumthing Else Music Works label, the industry leader for licensing and distributing videogame soundtracks.

The Age Of Empires=AE III Original Soundtrack features an original musical score composed by long-time Ensemble Studios musicians Stephen Rippy and Kevin McMullan whose previous work includes other titles in the Age of Empires series as well as Age of Mythology.

Stephen Rippy, Music and Sound Director at Ensemble Studios said, "Age of Empires III is a game with an epic topic - it covers the colonization of the Americas over a period of some three hundred years, so it needed to have an epic-sounding score to match. Using a full orchestra and choir as well as some more period-inspired instrumentation, the music follows the story of Morgan Black and his descendants as they battle the Circle of Ossus for a foothold in the New World."

The soundtrack also features a bonus DVD that includes fourteen tracks remixed in 5.1 surround, a behind-the-scenes video of the studio session, the Age of Empires III cinematic trailer, and five exclusive bonus tracks.

Age of Empires III offers gamers the next level of realism, with advanced battle physics and unparalleled visual detail. The new game picks up where Age of Empires II: Age Of Kings left off, placing gamers in the position of a European power determined to explore, colonize and conquer the New World. This time period features stunning scenes, from towering European cathedrals to courageous tribes of Native Americans, and spectacular combat with Industrial Age units like rifled infantry, cavalry and tall ships bristling with cannons.

Age of Empires III once again demonstrates Ensemble Studios' reputation for excellence and innovation in the real-time strategy (RTS) genre. The game sets a new standard for visual quality and amaze players with detail never before seen in an RTS. Age of Empires III also provides strategy gamers with new gameplay elements, including the concept of a "Home City," new civilizations, units, technologies and an immersive new single-player campaign that spans three generations. For more information on the game please visit

CD Review hopefully coming soon at ScreenSounds.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Music by Tim Larkin
Cyan Worlds (U.S.)
17 Tracks 49:28 mins

Available from in a uniquely designed pamphlet with the CD attached to the back, is Tim Larkin's score for the final chapter in the Myst videogame series.
Like previous entries, the soundscape is a mix of otherworldly and ancient ethnic music, with all kinds of instrumentation, from more standard fayre to flutes, percussion, choral, even throat singing. Some tracks are eerie and mysterious, others ethereal, many more propulsive and rhythmic, often driven by said percussion. In fact, there are few moods not covered in the score. A fitting souvenir then for all you Myst fans.

Music by Tim Larkin
Cyan Worlds (U.S.)
16 Tracks 50:55 mins

Also available from the same source is Larkin's music for Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, which is similar in many respects to the Myst music, combining ethnic and Western instruments, electronics and human voice and covering many styles of World music to provide another interesting soundscape. I particularly liked the performance of soprano Tasha Koontz on the Gallery Theme, and she appears again in a duet with duduk on Baron's Theme. Safe to say, if you like the Myst music, you'll want to hear this as well.

Just to remind you, both CDs are available from, where you can also purchase the games themselves.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I've recently been fortunate to have had the chance to sample some recent scores for the popular videogame series Medal of Honor and Call of Duty.

Latest in Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor series is European Assault, which possibly boasts Christopher Lennertz's best series score to date. His previous outing for Pacific Assault had it's share of highlights, with some proud, heroic and elegiac music as well as plenty of action, but the cues for European Assault are less fragmented and more rounded, starting with the somewhat elegiac trumpet of Dogs of War and continuing with some pretty exciting action cues like Clearing Tobruk and Russia, 1942. To Stalingrad presents a weighty Russian chorale and One Man Can Make a Difference rounds out the score triumphantly, again with choral support.
Unfortunately none of Lennertz's Medal of Honor scores are officially available on CD, which is a great pity and let's hope that situation soon changes. In the meantime, my thanks to Jenn at Canada for letting me hear the scores away from the games.

A very welcome change of pace for the busy Graeme Revell is his music for Activision's Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. Revell has very rarely composed for full orchestra and choir in his film assignments over recent years, which is a pity, as on the evidence of his music for these games, he should do so more often. I don't know the game play details for either title, but the former appears to have an Eastern European setting, judging by the composer's apparent use of Russian choir in a number of cues. The score has some heroic and weighty moments and the action cues feature muscular brass and busy string writing. His score for Big Red One is even better, presenting a proud and heroic orchestral/choral main theme and some truly exciting action cues, which are rhythmically more interesting than his action writing for Call of Duty 2. Again, sadly, there are at present no official CD releases, but I'm sure you gamers out there will enjoy and benefit from the music for both the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty series. My thanks to Costa Communications for giving me the chance to sample these scores.

Monday, December 05, 2005

CD REVIEW - Wallace & Gromit plus music for A Christmas Caper

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Music by Julian Nott, Rupert Gregson-Williams, James Michael Dooley, Lorne Balfe & Alistair King - Produced by Hans Zimmer
Varese Sarabande VSD-6686 (EU)
19 Tracks 48:21 mins

Sometimes it's a case of too many cooks spoil the broth and I therefore approached this CD with some trepidation, having read the credits and seen all the many names above involved in creating the score for this American-backed big screen adventure of the much-loved and very English characters. But I must say that, like the film itself, the score remains very much grounded in the traditions Julian Nott established for the three short adventures that have gone before, with the famous, bouncy and very Northern main theme very much in evidence throughout the score and a number of supporting themes that one can be fairly certain originated from the same composer.
Of course it's a very much larger-budgeted film and therefore can afford large orchestral/ choral forces, but the composing/producing team use them well, so that the score falls very much into line with what's gone before - just on a bigger scale.
In addition to the main theme, there is a variety of music for W & G in Anti-Pesto mode; by turns adventurous, heroic and proud. There is also a nice love theme for Wallace's love interest Lady Tottington and some pompous and vaguely threatening music for her other suitor Victor.
The Were-Rabbit itself is scored in the best Hollywood monster music traditions, even adding a '50s electronic wail on occasion.
The whole album is great fun and deserves the success that the film itself has been enjoying. It
makes one proud to be British!

Supporting Wallace & Gromit is the short animation A Christmas Caper, starring those scene-stealing penguins from Dreamworks' Madagascar.
One thing all three productions have in common is composer James Michael Dooley, who has worked on them all. A music composition graduate from New York Universtiy, Dooley joined Media Ventures in 1999, where he has collaborated with Hans Zimmer as his Chief Technical Engineer and as a composer, working on many films, including Gladiator, Mission: Impossible 2 and Black Hawk Down, as well as documentaries and award-winning shorts. His score for A Christmas Caper is a hugely enjoyable affair, very much in the retro style of Michael Giacchino's The Incredibles, and adds great support to the on-screen capers. It's a pity it's too brief for a CD release, because it's a case of short but most definitely sweet.
Dooley has also recently scored the PS2 videogame title Socom 3: US Navy Seal, his score being very much in the Media Ventures style, with that familiar big sound of orchestra, electronics and choir, recording having taken place at Air Studios in England. His action music is particularly exciting, but there are many moods to the score - heroic, elegiac, fateful and tragic - it's all there.
The composer says "Socom is by far the most complicated project I've ever worked on. It has just under two hours of music and over 250 cues. There are some pieces that are triggered randomly and some that are event specific. You have to reset your brain as you go through that many different cues in one day."
Again, there is currently no official CD release for this score, but I hope some enterprising label picks it up before long.
My thanks to Costa Communications.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Dreamer and The Fearless Vampire Killers

Music by John Debney
Sony Classical/Sony Music Soundtrax SK 97742 (U.S.)
24 Tracks 64:23 mins

This charming little film, starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning, tells of a trainer and his daughter who nurse an injured horse back to health, with an eye to racing him in the Breeder's Cup and sports a splendid orchestral score (with folksy touches) that is pure Americana.
Violinist Joshua Bell is hyped as having collaborated with the composer, but his input is actually quite minimal, and mostly present in the variations on the main theme, with, for me, Michael Lang's piano actually making a stronger impression. There are also nice solos throughout the score by Phil Ayling on oboe and Gary Bovyer on clarinet. The score, as one would expect, goes through all the emotions, joy, pain, triumph, it's all here.
A country-pop title song by Bethany Dillon appears as the penultimate track on the CD and then inexplicably appears again as a hidden track at the end.

The Fearless Vampire Killers
Music by Krzysztof Komeda
Harkit Records HRKCD8130
19 Tracks 30:09 mins

I first saw this black comedy at the local fleapit when I was in my teens. It was known as Dance of the Vampires then and it was one of the most strange and unique films I had seen up to that point, and I found the score equally unique - a mix of Philip Glass, Spaghetti Western sounds, jazz and baroque, and that's just for starters!
This CD is the third Komeda score recently put out by Harkit, and although the playing time is brief, with some very short cues indeed, for me it's the best. There are several striking themes, beginning with the flowing choral opening theme, which is kind of a forerunner to Philip Glass' Candyman music; then there's the playful romance of Sarah's Song (Sarah tragically being played by Sharon Tate, director and co-star Polanski's wife, who was of course shortly to fall victim to the Manson cult), heard in a number of variations throughout the disc; an amazing plucked bass motif for the various sledge rides across the snowy wastes; a lonely, sometimes over-the-top figure for solo soprano; and an ascending/decending figure for the rooftop sequences. Quite a fascinating mix, and on the strength of the music composed for this and the other Polanski films recently covered by Harkit, one wonders what other fascinating scores the composer may have gone on to write if he hadn't been taken from us so tragically young.
The colourful and informative accompanying booklet is again given in English and Polish.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Sporting the Fantastic Four and Gromit on the cover (now there's a combo for you!), Issue 47 of Music from the Movies is now available, its 80 pages packed with the usual high quality features, including interviews with Dario Marianelli on The Brothers Grimm; Julian Nott on Wallace Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; JohnOttman and director Tim Story, producer Avi Arad and creator Stan Lee on The Fantastic Four; Brian Tyler and Bill Paxton on The Greatest Game Ever Played; and Michael Giacchino and director Mike Mitchell on Sky High - all packed with photos. Other features include a photoreport on John Debney's performance of his Passion of the Christ Symphony at California's Crystal Cathedral; an extensive interview with Wendy Carlos; an overview of the composer by Ian Johnson, author of William Alwyn: The Art of Film Music, plus the regular news and reviews sections.
Go to www.musicfrom the to order thie issue and to take out a subscription. You know it makes sense!

Friday, December 02, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Two from Varese Sarabande

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D
Music by Robert Rodriguez, John Debney and Graeme Revell
Varese Sarabande VSD-6658 (EU)
22 Tracks 43:37 mins

Whilst I am not too keen on synths and samples scores, I must admit that this, yet another collaboration by director/composer Rodriguez and his two co-composers is great fun.
Based on a story by the director's young son, this sci-fi for kids came and went barely noticed, so I can't say whether it is as fun as the score, but the three composers came up with a couple of linked main themes that get plenty of workouts. The Shark Boy begins somewhat fairytale-like with celeste, harp and kids' choir and then becomes more weighty as the synths enter with a vengeance. The Lava Girl is quite memorable, with Rodriguez's sister Rebecca providing the wordless vocal. Talk about a family affair! But it doesn't end there, as the jaunty little The LaLas is written by Bob Weinstein, the head of Dimension Films' daughter Nicole.
Some cues are purely by the individual composers, but others are collaborations between Rodriguez and Debney. Revell doesn't appear to collaborate, but both he and Debney make use of the director's themes.
There is all you would expect from a score for this kind of sci-fi/fantasy, with plenty of exciting action, a good deal of menace, some pretty romance and some tragedy as well. It all ends up with the rock song, composed by Rodriguez, SharkBoy and LavaGirl by the LavaGirls (sister Rebecca and a 13-year-old from Austin, Texas). I've barely scratched the surface here and thankfully, the whole story of the music's evolution is recounted by Rodriguez in the accompanying booklet.

The Fog
Music by Graeme Revell
Varese Sarabande VSD-6697
19 Tracks 40:40 mins

The busy Revell is also responsible for the music to the recent remake of John Carpenter's classic ghost story and has come up with a truly chilling listening experience, which, though short on melody, has to be admired for its effectiveness at creating a feeling of terror and dread.
A mix of live players and plenty of electronics, hearing it one can just imagine the dense fog rolling in, bringing grisly death from the vengeful phantom pirates. A somewhat cliched lonely piano figure struggles to be heard amongst all the thick, dissonant electronics and furious, often string and percussion-lead savagery. Not best listened to at bedtime!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

CD REVIEWS - La Morte Risale A Ieri Sera & Stay

La Morte Risale A Ieri Sera
Music by Gianni Ferrio
Digitmovies CDDM039
18 Tracks 45:01 mins

Gianni Ferrio's music for this 1970 giallo drama, directed by Duccio Tessari, is very much of its time, typical, tuneful jazz-pop, with a couple of very catchy themes, one with trumpet lead, the other heard in a variety of arrangements,including two bonus vocal tracks, performed by Mina, not present on the original album, which it turned out included the complete score, so hence this release is not an extended version like many of the label's releases. Other tracks present source dance music, jazzy action, a church organ solo and a little suspense; but it's a largely melodic album, which makes for a pleasant listening experience. The accompanying booklet is as usual informative and colourful.

Music by Asche & Spencer
Varese Sarabande VSD-6693
13 Tracks 32:10 mins

Composing firm Asche & Spencer's second collaboration with Monster's Ball director Marc Foster is for a thriller starring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Ryan Gosling and Bob Hoskins and deals with a psychiatrist's attempts to keep a client from committing suicide. It is perhaps therefore no surprise then that the music score is largely downbeat with lonely piano and yearning strings, backed by waves of electronic noise. There is a slight suggestion of hope struggling through, but if you do happen to feel suicidal, for goodness sake don't give this disc a spin - it might just tip you over the edge.