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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

John Powell Scores "United 93"

Sorry there's no CD review today, but we had vistors. Instead, here's some news from Costa Communications.

Much anticipated film opens April 28, will screen at Cannes

(Los Angeles, CA) John Powell scores the much-anticipated United 93 for Universal Pictures and writer-director Paul Greengrass. The film is a real time account of the heroism on United Flight 93, the fourth plane to be hijacked the morning of September 11, 2001. The film premiered this week at
New York's Tribeca Film Festival and it opens April 28. United 93 marks the second collaboration between Powell and Greengrass; the two had collaborated previously on The Bourne Supremacy and will rejoin on The Bourne Ultimatum.
For United 93, Powell created an ambient score, which he recorded in London with a live orchestra.

As the Powell-scored Ice Age: The Meltdown continues its march to the $200 million mark at the box office, audiences eagerly await the arrival of
X-Men: The Last Stand, set for release May 26.

Powell's long and storied career in music began in Britain where he joined performance art group Media Arts while attending Trinity College of Music.
While composing music for television and commercials for Air-Edel Music, he worked alongside composers Hans Zimmer and Patrick Doyle and made his first foray into feature films. After Powell co-founded the commercial music house Independently Thinking Music (ITM) with longtime collaborator Gavin
Greenaway, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue feature film composing. He immediately scored several projects for DreamWorks Television, but it was his stirring score for John Woo's blockbuster Face/Off that put him on Hollywood's short list. He has since scored a wide variety of films and is well known for his scores to actioners Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Italian Job,
The Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy as well as jazzy scores for Be Cool and Alfie.

In addition to Jason Bourne's next adventure, Powell's upcoming slate includes the animated musical Happy Feet, and the film adaptation of the graphic novel The Watchmen.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

CD REVIEW - All The Rivers Run

All The Rivers Run
Music by Bruce Rowland
BSX Records BSXCD 886 (U.S.)
25 Tracks 42:30 mins

Previously only available as a Swedish LP and as 3 tracks on a 1990 Bay Cities Bruce Rowland compilation CD, BSX Records have done us a great service in releasing Rowland's score for this 1983 Australian mini-series, adding 13 previously unreleased cues to the original 12 track programme.
For those of you, like I, who love melodic film music, and fondly remember Rowland's scores for the Snowy River films and Phar Lap, this CD will come as a real treat, as it's jam-packed with melodies, commencing with the propulsive main theme over the "Opening Titles," a theme that is reprised a number of times, sometimes in more laid-back, expansive style. This is immediately followed by the tender - if a little brief - piano-lead "Deli & Brenton Love Theme." Next up is the simply gorgeous "River Theme," followed by the sad, piano-lead "Adagio in A Minor." "The Old Sea Captain" is another fine flowing theme, as is "Rayburn's Theme," which is first introduced in "Mrs. Pike," but later given a fuller treatment in the penultimate track.
Other elements of the score include variations on an Irish jig, first heard in "Paddy Goes Overboard" and catchy country & western music, featuring harmonica, banjo and fiddle for the character of Cyrus. There's also some '20s-style jazz in "The Automobile," and a breezy polka in the "Love Theme Montage."
Really, no track disappoints on this wonderfully tuneful CD, which comes accompanied by Randall D. Larson's notes on the production and its music. So, if you have the other Bruce Rowland scores I mentioned, you will certainly want to add this one to your collection, but hurry, the release is limited to 1,000 copies.

Friday, April 28, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Sentinel

The Sentinel
Music by Christophe Beck
Varese Sarabande 302 066 729 2 (U.S.)
18 Tracks 53:03 mins

I seem to recall a horror film by this title, but no, this is not a remake, but a new thriller from director Clark Johnson, starring Michael Douglas as a blackmailed Secret Service Agent on the run, seeking to prove his innocence and save the President's life.
I recently lamented the fact that composer Christophe Beck has become somewhat typecast in comedy films. Well, this is certainly a change of pace for him but, whilst it is a serviceable score, he doesn't really take his chance with both hands, as there's nothing really compelling about the music on disc.
Beck mixes orchestra with electronics to produce much suspenseful and menacing music, with an almost constant rhythmic undercurrent, courtesy of analog synthesizers. An enlarged brass section adds power to the action cues, but what excitement is generated usually doesn't persist; whilst the composer omits woodwinds altogether, resulting is very little warmth to the score.
Oh well, I guess it's back to the comedies, but I live in hope of one day hearing a great serious film score from Christophe Beck.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Swimmer

The Swimmer
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.5 (U.S.)
11 Tracks 35:57 mins

Marvin Hamlisch's score for this troubled 1968 production, starring Burt Lancaster in one of his most challenging roles, has to be one of the finest debut scores ever. I'd like to think that this was due to Hamlisch's ability as a composer; after all he did go on to write the splendid Sophie's Choice and the best non-John Barry Bond film score before David Arnold became attached to the series. He did however have very capable assistance in the form of Leo Shuken and jack Hayes, who were veteran collaborators of the likes of Henry Mancini and Elmer Bernstein; and I think it is fair to say that there is something of a Bernstein feel to parts of the score. The melodies however are Hamlisch's and include the melancholy main theme "Send for Me in Summer" and the secondary "limbo theme," both of which make their presence felt throughout the album's cues. Other themes are introduced, sometimes initially as source music, but later transformed into dramatic underscore.
It's rare when every cue on an album has something to offer, but this is definitely the case here. Highlights for me include the dynamic "Hurdles;" the source cue "Lovely Hair," with its fantastic trumpet bridge; and especially the final two cues, the first of which is six minutes of the most dramatic and powerful scoring you will ever hear, before the reprise of the main theme brings a soaring conclusion to a great score.
The album, though one of FSM's briefest, is in fact expanded from the original LP release, and is accompanied by the usual splendidly detailed booklet, with notes on the film and score, as well as the invaluable cue-by-cue guide. A must-have for any serious film music collector!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

CD REVIEW - Un' Ombra Nell' Ombra

Un' Ombra Nell' Ombra
Music by Stelvio Cipriani
Digitmovies CDDM052 (Italy)
22 Tracks 56:19 mins

Hard to believe Stelvio Cipriani composed the score to this 1977 demonic horror, directed by the writer of the original novel on which it was based, Pier Carpi, and not actually released in Italian cinemas until 1979. The reason being that the music largely features Claudio Simonetti's keyboard stylings and comes out like a typical genre Goblin score, electronic, bass driven, repetitive, and largely quite monotonous. Even the booklet notes have little to say about the music. Some of the cues, especially the "Main Titles" and "Devil Dance" flow quite well, and generate a little excitement; and there is some wild percussion to break up the monotony now and then, but I would only really recommend the score to Goblin and Simonetti fans (and I know there are plenty of you out there who will welcome it with open arms).
The full score is presented here in good stereo sound, with three alternate takes as bonus cues, and is accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, with original poster artwork and some x-rated stills.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Dio Perdona…io No!
Music by Carlo Rustichelli
Digitmovies CDDM051 (Italy)
24 Tracks 54:58 mins

To complete their releases of western scores written by Carlo Rustichelli for director Guiseppe Colizzi, which introduced the acting pairing of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, Digitmovies have here released the complete score for the 1967 film, some of the music for which was previously released on LP in a three score compilation by Phoenix. I never really cared for the score on that release, and having even more music makes it an even more difficult job to sit through.
The main element of the score is quite a catchy and adaptable main theme, which can be quite powerfully rendered with chorus or played on electric guitar, or, as is often the case, on Hammond organ. And that is one of the problems really, there's just too much of that darned organ; that and the fact that so many of the cues are of the menacing, suspenseful kind, with the main theme often only appearing in fits and starts.
As well as this theme, there is a powerful choral "Dies Irae," which is present at both the start and end of the album, as well as sharing duties with the main theme in "Passo Dietro Passo." The only other cues that offer some variety are "Rose," a slow dance for trombone and jazz combo; "Rose (2)," which is typical fiddle-lead saloon music composed for this genre; and "Il Funerale," a jazzy funeral march, more likely to be heard in the streets of New Orleans.
Not my favourite Italian Western score then, but they can't all be classics, can they? And fans of the genre will no doubt still wish to snap up a copy of this fine stereo sounding CD, which, as always, is accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, with stills and poster artwork, synopsis, cast and credits, and Claudio Fuiano's guide to the film and its music.

Monday, April 24, 2006

CD REVIEW - Senza Sapere Niente di Lei

Senza Sapere Niente di Lei
Music by Ennio Morricone
Digitmovies CDDM050 (Italy)
14 Tracks 50:50 mins

With all these first-time releases and expanded editions of Ennio Morricone's scores, gradually we are getting to have recordings of just about every score he has ever written - and that's no mean feat, with all the music composed during his illustrious career.
Having thoroughly explored the Giallo music of Bruno Nicolai, Digitmovies are now turning their attention to Morricone's music for the same genre. Senza Sapere Niente di Lei dates from 1969 and is a score largely consisting of variations on one waltz-like theme which, though quite catchy, would eventually have outstayed its welcome but for the composer's unusual decision to intersperse four tracks from the never completed film Lui per Lei, dating from 1970. These four tracks are all that survive of that score and are a mix of mysterious movers and experimental atonal music.
But, returning to the album's title score, in addition to the variations on the main theme, three of the remaining four cues from the score consist of mysterious music, with "Frammenti D'Estasi" being the most interesting, with its child-like, repetitive theme. The "Finale," which closes both score and disc, is quite a sunny mover, featuring a mixed vocal group.
As always with Digitmovies releases, the accompanying booklet features stills from the film, plus original poster art, cast, credits and synopsis, as well as Claudio Fuiano's guide to both the film and the music.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

CD REVIEW - Silverado

Music by Bruce Broughton
Intrada MAF 7096
Disc 1 - 18 Tracks 48:03 mins Disc 2 - 9 Tracks 38:01 mins

It seems to be raining expanded western scores, what with the classic Per un Pugno di Dollari, reviewed here yesterday and now Bruce Broughton's fantastic score for 1985's Silverado.
Intrada's previous album release of the score totalled some 46 minutes and was a good representation of the score but, whilst that album featured pretty much all the best tracks, there's still plenty of interest here to make this a worthwhile purchase. On the first disc, "The Strongbox Rescue," for instance, offers the first appearance of the splendid extension to the main theme, heard over the End Credits track "We'll Be Back," and "Party Crashers" is a suitably menacing action cue; whilst on the second disc, the scoring of the concluding battle scenes, previously only partially represented, is here presented in full over three tracks totalling some 22 minutes plus. Also included for the first time is the film's wrap-up music, which leads into the wonderful aforementioned final cue "We'll Be Back."
Three bonus cues fill out the second disc; two fiddle-lead source dance cues "The Bradley Place" and "The Silverado Waltz," together with an alternate take of one of the suspenseful sections of the final battle music.
The colourful accompanying booklet features notes by the composer, director Lawrence Kasdan and Intrada's own Douglass Fake. I just wish the cover artwork from the previous release had been retained, but this is just a minor quibble.
Incidentally, and as previously reported, the western delights continue, as Intrada are also releasing an extended two-disc version of Broughton's score for Tombstone - another must-have release.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

CD REVIEW - Per un Pugno di Dollari + more news from Top Dollar PR

Per un Pugno di Dollari
Music by Ennio Morricone
GDM 2066 (Italy)
17 Tracks 38:12 mins

Although it still seems a brief album at just over 38 minutes, Ennio Morricone's groundbreaking score for the first Sergio Leone western is in fact considerably expanded from the original soundtrack release, and features many more tracks personally supervised by the composer and taken from the original masters. The only slight drawback being that the new tracks are in mono rather than stereo. The sound quality remains very good though.
Among the new delights on offer are the dramatic "Ramon;" "Doppi Giochi," which commences with a variation on the galloping bridge from the main title music and ends with the main title theme itself, arranged for flute and guitar;" the menacing drum-lead dramatics of "Scambo di Prigionieri;" the galloping "Cavalcata;" the relentless march with male choir in "Alla Ricerca dell'Evaso;" and the short variation on the main title music which closes the album, and indeed the film itself.
The album is very attractively presented in digipack form, with an accompanying booklet, which sadly doesn't feature any text, just plenty of full colour stills from the film and original poster artwork.




New York - April 21st, 2006 - Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc. today launches the Halo 2 Volume Two Soundtrack Mash Mixer Contest to celebrate the upcoming release of Halo 2 Original Soundtrack Volume Two in stores on April 25th. The contest runs on the Global Gaming League (GGL) online gaming network at and offers Halo music fans the unique opportunity to mash-up downloadable mixes from Halo 2 Original Soundtrack Volume Two and submit their remixes online to win special prizes. Visitors to the site are also able to preview clips of the album from the online listening station and purchase individual tracks or the complete album before its official street date.

To get a head start on the competition, registered users are provided with a music "mash-up" mixer designed and supplied by that will allow you to mix and remix the Halo 2 Volume 2 soundtrack in real-time. The user will be able to match beats, cross fade, loop, DJ and record the finished remix live. Exclusive downloadable 'Stem Mixes' will be available from the Halo 2 Volume 2 soundtrack courtesy of Bungie Studios' Audio Director Marty O'Donnell. New stem mixes will be added to the website on a frequent basis so that fans can mash-up their favourite Halo 2 Volume 2 music tracks. The website also offers a selection of optional musical treatments ranging from break beat to deep house. Submissions will be voted on by the community and a panel of celebrity gamers, composers and musicians will review and select the winners. Special prizes range from Xbox 360 systems and PCDJ Pro-DJ equipment to a signed Fender guitar from veteran music producer and Sumthing Else label founder Nile Rodgers.

The Halo 2 Volume Two soundtrack mash mixer contest is promoted by Sumthing Else Music Works, the industry leader for licensing and distributing video game soundtracks, and the Global Gaming League (GGL) with support from Bungie Studios. The website ( was designed and developed by Intellectual Alchemy (IA) and the Global Gaming League, and the music mix player is provided by Visiosonic Ltd.

Halo(r) 2 is the game that redefined first-person combat and multiplayer action for millions of gamers worldwide. In Halo 2, the saga continues as Master Chief - a genetically enhanced super-soldier - is the only thing standing between the relentless Covenant and the destruction of all humankind. For more information visit

About Bungie
Bungie Studios was founded in 1991 with two goals: to develop games that combine brilliant technology, beautiful art, intelligent stories and deep gameplay, and then sell enough of those games to achieve its real goal of total world domination. Over the past 10 years it has produced games such as the "Marathon Trilogy," the first two "Myth" games, and the "Halo" franchise, hailed as classics by critics and gamers around the world. Released in 2004, the award winning "Halo 2" for Xbox has achieved phenomenal success and has sold more than 7.4 million units worldwide. More information on Bungie can be found at

About Nile Rodgers
Award winning record producer Nile Rodgers is one of the most prolific music producers in history. Nile's production accomplishments include such diverse artists as Diana Ross, Madonna, David Bowie, Duran Duran, The B-52's, David Lee Roth, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger and top selling game soundtracks such as Halo(r) 2 Volume One. Records produced by Nile Rodgers have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. As a founding member of the perennial Rhythm & Blues dance band Chic, Nile co-wrote all of their big hits including "Le Freak" and "Good Times," as well as "We Are Family" for Sister Sledge. In addition to records, he has also scored or produced music for numerous films including "Coming to America," "Thelma and Louise," "The Flintstones," "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Rush Hour II," as well as a variety of television shows and commercials. Nile is a board member of several organizations including the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

About Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc.
Nile Rodgers started Sumthing Else Music Works (SEMW) as a nationwide record label and creative outlet for independent artists and unique musical projects. Through its affiliated company, Sumthing Distribution, SEMW prides itself on its ability to rapidly and effectively deliver to the marketplace many innovative products. In view of the successes of its previous game soundtrack releases, the company is now considered the leader in this newly emerging musical genre. Accordingly, SEMW has bolstered its commitment to enhancing gamers' overall experience by acquiring many new titles to complement its current catalog of releases.

Microsoft, Bungie, Halo and Xbox are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries, and are used under license from Microsoft.

Sumthing Else Music Works and Sumthing Distribution logos are copyright of their respective companies. All other names of products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

About Global Gaming League
GGL: Global Gaming League is a worldwide leader in organized competitive online and live video game tournaments and events (V-Sports). GGL services its worldwide community of videogame enthusiasts via its state-of-the-art online gaming network, led by its destination website, its year-round live videogame events, and by providing a broad array of gaming-oriented services and content of deep interest to video gamers in the U.S. and abroad. Through these offerings, GGL creates an immersive entertainment experience for a rapidly growing community of connected gamers. For more information, visit

About Intellectual Alchemy
Founded in 2000, Intellectual Alchemy is a trend-setting multimedia and information technology firm specializing in custom, enterprise-level business solutions and website content management systems. Sound thinking, scalable design, and innovative programming are the hallmarks of IA. Continually blurring the line between form and function, Intellectual Alchemy constantly innovates; forging ahead to provide creative, able solutions to the complex needs of today's businesses. For more information about Intellectual Alchemy, visit

About PCDJ

PCDJ was founded in 1999 and developed the first dual MP3 media mixing software for use by professionals worldwide. PCDJ is recognized as the leader in the mixing and live performance of digital music files. The PCDJ product line has grown tremendously and has developed professional DJ mixing hardware, Video mixing, Karaoke and Club lighting control systems. PCDJ is now used by some of the most influential DJs and clubs all over the world. PCDJ is now in development of a consumer line of product and is aiming to bring fun and creative music mixing software to all the young DJ enthusiasts.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Music by Michael Giacchino
Varese Sarabande VSD-6721 (EU)
27 Tracks 65:01 mins

For fans of the first season of this strangely compelling show from J.J. Abrams of Alias fame, this disc is the perfect sound souvenir, presenting as it does much of the best music from the season in chronological order.
Michael Giacchino of course worked with Abrams on Alias and therefore came along on the ride, producing a fascinating score for small orchestra, very inventive, emotional where required, and downright weird also.
However well the music worked in the show, and it worked very well, whilst there are many effective moments here, there aren't many tracks that I would return to with any great regularity. There is a very affecting, recurring kind of sentimental theme, first heard in "Win One for the Reaper " on delicate solo piano. This theme is also effectively featured for piano and strings in "Life and Death," and towards the end of the final track "Oceanic 815." There is a tender theme for the on-off relationship between Charlie and Claire, heard in "Thinking Clairely;" and a couple of exciting action cues, "Run Like, Um…Hell" and "Monsters are Such Interesting People" surface amongst many unsettling, suspenseful and threatening cues; whilst "Getting Even" features percussive conflict. One of the main characters is killed off later in the season and "Booneral" presents his elegy for strings, with the mood continuing in "Shannonigans" which partly deals with his sister's loss. A brief, menacing stinger with warped trombone effectively concludes a number of tracks and actually concludes the album after all the building sentiment of "Parting Words" and the aforementioned "Oceanic 815" that came before - just to let us know that there's plenty more uncomfortable moments ahead for the intrepid band of air crash survivors in Season 2, which I'm pleased to note starts again on U.K. TV screens next month.
Michael Giacchino, after coming so impressively to my attention writing excellent scores for games, continues to write interesting scores for both film and TV, whilst still dipping his toe into the game music world. I can't wait to hear his Mission: Impossible III score, also on Varese Sarabande.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

CD REVIEW - Black plus news from HUGEsound & Top Dollar PR

Music by Michael Giacchino & Chris Tilton
Nettwerk Records 06-7003059152
15 Tracks 36:39 mins

Available as a download from iTunes or from Nettwerk themselves, this videoo game score features a powerful main theme co-composed by veteran game music composer Michael Giacchino and his long-time assistant Chris Tilton. This theme features throughout the score, which is written by Tilton and which features a number of exciting action cues like "A Bridge Too Close," "Black and Boom," "Bunker Buster," and the pacy "Madhouse Mayhem," whilst flowing cues like "Gulag Gauntlet," "Treneska Border Crossing" and "Walking Tour of Treneska" generate a good deal of tension. Of course there are a number of suspenseful moments in between, but it's the action music that shines. The score concludes with an expanded version of the main theme, featuring an extended elegiac horn solo at the start.
Yet another quality game score from the Giacchino/Tilton team.

6th Annual HUGEsound Half-Dome Conquest


Veteran game music composer Chance Thomas (X-Men, King Kong, Lord of the Rings) announces the 6th Annual HUGEsound Half-Dome Conquest. The event will be held on Friday June 16, 2006 with participants ascending to the top of Half-Dome peak, a nearly 9,000 foot sheer granite monolith rising in the heart of Yosemite National Park.

The HUGEsound Half-Dome Conquest is open to anyone willing to test their mettle against the mountain, with a special invitation/challenge extended to the game development community.

The HUGEsound route ascends the mountain from its sloping side rather than straight up the North face. "It's not a technical climb at all," says Thomas. "From the base of the mountain we head up the pitched East side using cables installed by the National Park Service. Then we rappel back down after basking in the view from the top. Any healthy person with good arm and leg strength can do it."

En route to the base of the mountain, participants climb to the top of two stunning waterfalls, follow the path of the Merced River, and hike through miles of giant high Sierra timber.

Foot distance covered is approx. 16 miles, there and back again. The National Park Service's official statement reads that this is a "very strenuous hike" and should only be attempted by those in good physical condition.

Those wishing to participate can send an email request for information or RSVP to Please type "Half-Dome" in the subject heading.

About HUGEsound

HUGEsound is a full-service audio production company. HUGEsound features the critically acclaimed and multiple award-winning music services of composer Chance Thomas. HUGEsound also offers a full range of audio post-production services through the HUGEsound NetworkT of affiliated sound designers, voice casting agents, engineers and studios. For more information, please visit:



Game Industry's Leading Full Service Audio Production Company Provides
Sounds for Latest PC Game Hits including Gods & Heroes: Rome RisingT,
Rise of Nations: Rise of LegendsT and Guild Wars FactionsT

Redmond, Washington, April 18th, 2006 - Omni Interactive Audio ( - a leading full service audio production company for the interactive entertainment industry - today revealed they have created the immersive soundtracks for several new computer game titles including: Gods & Heroes: Rome RisingT (Perpetual Entertainment / Platform Publishing), Rise of Nations: Rise of LegendsT (Big Huge Games / Microsoft Game Studios) and Guild Wars FactionsT (ArenaNet / NCsoft).

Co-founded by former Senior Audio Director at Electronic Arts Seattle, Alistair Hirst and Senior Sound Artist Robert Ridihalgh, with a veteran team of audio producers featuring noted sound designers, composers and recording engineers from both the video game and record industries, Omni Interactive Audio provides music, sound effects and voice production services for AAA computer and video game titles. By contracting out audio work to Omni, game companies are able to take advantage of their large team with a broad range of expertise and experience, including all technical aspects of integrating and mixing the audio in-game.

Among their latest high-profile soundtrack projects is the hotly anticipated online action role-playing game Gods & Heroes: Rome RisingT (, developed by Perpetual Entertainment, for which Omni was commissioned to create an original musical score in addition to creating and implementing the sound effects and voiceovers. "Writing and producing the music for this game has been a fantastic experience," said Hirst. "We have created a sweeping score to match the gorgeous landscapes in the game, and big exciting battle music cues for the epic squad based battles."

For the upcoming fantasy-based Real-Time-Strategy game Rise of LegendsT (, the successor to Rise of NationsT developed by Big Huge Games, Omni were responsible for creating, integrating and mixing all the sound effects, as well as audio post production for the game's cinematics. Bryan Reynolds, President of Big Huge Games, commented," Omni has been fantastic. They came out and worked closely with us to establish a sound design we were all happy with, and then we were able to just turn them loose with our sound tools and they did a great job with very little intervention needed on our part."

Guy Whitmore, Audio Director, Microsoft Game Studios: Studio RX, added, "Where most sound design houses stop short, Omni follows through to the end. The fact that they have extensive experience with game audio integration and scripting makes them worth their weight in gold! With Omni, gone are the days of throwing audio over the fence to a developer; they work closely with developers to ensure a great sound design and audio mix. Plus, they simply create excellent sounds."

Building on their previous sound effects work for Guild WarsT (, the best selling multiplayer action-RPG from developer ArenaNet, the upcoming stand-alone expansion pack Guild Wars FactionsT will also feature original sound effects and cinematic audio post-production provided by Omni. This is the second game from ArenaNet, which was founded by some of the key members of the creative teams behind the hit games Warcraft®, StarCraft® and Diablo®, and the creators of®. Guild Wars FactionsT will be available in stores worldwide on April 28, 2006.

About Omni Interactive Audio

Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising, Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends, Guild Wars Factions, Guild Wars, Halo 2, Men Of Valor, The Sims 2 and five versions of Need For Speed are just some of the games where you can hear the soundtrack work of Omni Interactive Audio. When major developers and publishers like ArenaNet, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, NCsoft and Vivendi-Universal are looking for creative sound design with impact, music that hits the mark, voice work that speaks to you, and a team that smoothly puts it all together and into the game, including a polished final mix, they have turned to Omni Interactive Audio. For more information on Omni Interactive Audio visit

The names of products mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Music by Aaron Zigman
35 Tracks 43:23 mins

As promised, here is my take on the other Aaron Zigman score to have come my way.
A.T.L. was released by Warner Bros. in the States on March 31 and is a coming of age story concerning four teens in a working class Atlanta neighbourhood. The film stars rapper TI, is directed by music video director Chris Robinson, and is loosely based on the life of TLC's Tionne Watkins and hip-hop producer Dallas Austin.
Zigman's score is a mix of electronics and live musicians - at times bluesy, at others beat-driven, sometimes in the modern vein, at others with a more '70s feel. The sentiment is handled by a mix of keyboards, woodwinds, strings and synths, the latter providing one or two ethereal moments. It is indeed a varied and interesting score - why, there's even a brief big band swing cue, some quite catchy, light-hearted moments for plucked strings, and just a suggestion of tragedy.
As with Akeelah and the Bee, many of the cues are indeed quite brief, making way, I imagine, for plenty of Hip-hop numbers. Again, I'm afraid there is no news of a CD release for the score as yet.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

CD REVIEW - Akeelah and the Bee

Akeelah and the Bee
Music by Aaron Zigman
21 Tracks 31:19 mins

Due for an April 28th release in the U.S., Lion's Gate's Akeelah and the Bee, is written and directed by Doug Atchison and stars Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne in an inspirational drams about an 11-year-old girl who enters spelling contests in defiance of her mother, eventually competing for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
There's no news yet of an official CD release for the score, but I have been fortunate to have the opportunity of sampling Aaron Zigman's score. The composer has in the past most famously written scores for John Q and The Notebook and this is one of several projects coming out at this time, including Antonio Banderas' Take the Lead, which is on U.K. release; and ATL, the music of which I again have been fortunate to sample - watch for my review.
The score for Akeelah and the Bee mixes urban beat-driven sounds with busy dulcimer-lead music in the style of Thomas Newman. The more sensitive and emotional moments are provided by delicate piano and strings, supplemented by synths, the score concluding with the joyous "Akeelah Wins." Many of the score cues are quite brief, which suggests that the composer may have had to share screen time with a number of placed songs, as is often regretably the case these days, but in film scoring sometimes less can be more, and could well be the case here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

CD REVIEW - Ice Age: The Meltdown plus News from Costa Communications

Ice Age: The Meltdown
Music by John Powell
Varese Sarabande VSD-6725
32 Tracks 63:13 mins

David Newman did not return to score this sequel to the popular animated adventures of Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre tooth, but instead John Powell got the gig, and if you liked his scored for Robots, you probably won't be disappointed with his efforts here, which aren't quite as zany and inventive as that score, but are still very enjoyable nevertheless. Indeed, his sprightly main theme could easily have been borrowed from Robots, and this and the versatile theme I shall call "Manny's Theme" are at the heart of most of the action.
It's a typical animation score, with much "Mickey-Mousing" and plenty of sentiment and exciting action. "Manny's Theme" is heard both heroically and also tenderly as a kind of love theme between he and Ellie, the confused mammoth the guys meet on their quest to find safety when the ice begins to melt. Along the way, Sid encounters a tribe of "mini-sloths" and composer Powell has come up with a kind of tribal dance, which is very inventive, and is later reprised in celebratory fashion as the album's penultimate track. The final cue reprises the main thematic material from the score, ending on a wistful note.
I'm sure the film will be a great success and, like David Newman's before him, Powell's contributions will prove to be a vital element of that success.

From Costa Communications

Honour recognizes achievement in series television

(Beverly Hills, CA) The American Society of Composers and Publishers presented a prestigious Top Television Series award to composer Michael
Levine at the 21st Annual ASCAP Film and Television Awards gala on April 11 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, recognizing his contributions to the hit CBS series "Cold Case." The award honours ASCAP composers who have written the themes and underscore for the highest rated series during the period of
January 1 - December 31, 2005.

Born in Tokyo, Michael was raised in the Midwest and schooled in Canada
(McGill Univ.), Wisconsin(UW), and Boston (Berklee College of Music). He moved to New York City where his first job was playing violin on the streets. In the early 80s he founded the legendary No Guitars, one of the first bands to have a video on the just-launched MTV.

Winner of two Clio Awards for his work in advertising, Michael's groundbreaking combination of high-tech sound design with music became his calling card. His music for the first of his two Clio Awards, the
Mitsubishi Eclipse campaign, combined Japanese flute, an operatic soprano, world percussion, and electronically processed animal noises. His best-known ads are his jingles "Wacky Wild Kool-Aid Style," "Motts and Motts of Motts," and, most infamously, "Give me a Break" for Kit Kat, which is widely considered to be one of the most effective "earworms," a term used to describe a bit of music that you can't get out of your head, whether you want to or not. American Idol champ Carrie Underwood sang it on this year's campaign.

As the world's largest performing rights organization, ASCAP has over 200,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members representing all genres of music. ASCAP is committed to protecting the rights of its members by licensing and collecting royalties for the public performance of their copyrighted works, and then distributing these fees to the Society's members based on performances. ASCAP's Board of Directors is made up solely of writers and publishers, elected by the membership every two years.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Least Worst of Michael Perilstein

The Least Worst of Michael Perilstein
Music by Michael Perilstein
Perseverance Records PRD 008
26 Tracks 75:50 mins

I seem to recall first encountering Michael Perilstein as an eager young composer promoting his work on Deadly Spawn at a John Barry Appreciation Society Convention in London in the '70s. Well, a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then - 30 years or so's worth, and it's only now that I have the opportunity of reacquainting myself with his music, thanks to this collection from Perseverance, which features selections from the composer's film scores, as well as tracks from concept albums he has released, all packaged with a booklet that is anything but conventional. You won't find any serious musical analysis here. Instead, there is the cartoon strip "Adventures of the Composer"(with R.J. Sundseth, III helping out with the artwork here), "Madame Poo-Poo's 13 Lucky and Amazing Psych(ot)ic Predictions," "Near Facts" and even a very strange "About the Composer," involving a conversation between Big Ben and the composer, which maybe even took place at the time of the JBAS Convention I was talking about. All very surreal.
As for the music, well, there's a lot of it and, whilst I do not normally warm to electronic music (which basically this is), this is at least for the most part melodic, and a number of the tracks I actually quite liked, particularly the beat-driven rock of "Retro-Active" from the album God Dares You To Buy This!, the menacing theme, go-go dance track "Dancing as the Music Plays," and the badass rocker "Motor Psycho" from Where Evil Lives; and the hypnotic and compulsive "The Garbage in Your Brain" also from God Dares You To Buy This!, as is the rhythmic mover "Malice in Wonderland," which appears to be inspired at the outset by the composer's old buddy Big Ben.
"The Mentality of Punching People for a Living" from Muhammad Ali: A Twilight Portrait is another interesting track, starting off to a skipping-rope beat before speeding up with electric guitar featured. The same instrument leads the theme from Master Race From Mars, which also features a couple of romantic tracks, the more substantial of which is "Romance For Martian Lesbians." "Chance Trance" is a steady, slightly menacing, mover, featured on the album Godzilla Vs. Your Mother, but also used in the film Winterbeast. My final favourite is "Honky-Tonk Hooker Blues," which, played by keyboard and electric guitar, pretty much does what it says on the label, from the cult classic Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. Along the way, there are also tracks from Deadly Spawn of course, as well as from the album Elephants Gliding On Ice. Apparently another concept album The Rats Of Paris is on the way from Perseverance, and I await this with interest.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

CD REVIEW - Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Music by Philippe Rombi
Virgin Classics 0946 341978 2 3 (EU)
21 Tracks 73:15 mins

Whilst Alexandre Desplat has recently made significant inroads into the Hollywood mainstream, another composer hailing from France has yet to make that breakthrough, yet, in my humble opinion, is equally deserving of acclaim. He is Philippe Rombi and I have enjoyed almost everything I have heard of his thus far. His music for this re-telling of the famous events of Christmas Eve 1914 is perhaps his most mature work yet, proving, like Gabriel Yared did with Troy, that he is capable of composing weighty music with the best of them, whilst still displaying his usual gift for melody.
This substantial album commences with the composer's "Ave Maria," beautifully performed by soprano Natalie Dessay, with the piece repeated in a moving arrangement for Carmine Lauri's violin and orchestra as the penultimate track.
The "Overture" first introduces Rombi's weighty main theme for strings, which reaches a powerful crescendo in "War."
Rombi's most melodious contribution to the score is his "Fraternizers Hymn," which is first heard as a piano solo, and then repeated for piano and orchestra in "Football Match." "Invitations" brings a martial arrangement to the theme, before the track is given over to the voices of the soldiers and the pipes from the film's soundtrack; but its best representations are where it is first movingly sung by the Chorale Scala, with Ms Dessay adding wordless support; and then closes the album, with the same choral forces giving it a wordless reprise.
Along the way there are poignant and bittersweet moments like "Anna and Nikolaus," "Ponchel's Memories" and "The Soldiers' Mail;" with "Soldiers' Burial" starting off as a bagpipe lament, before gaining support from the orchestra.
Supplementing Rombi's original score are his arrangements of "Silent Night" and "O Come, All Ye Faithful," performed in German by tenor Rolando Villazon, with both soloists combining on "Bist du bei Mir."
The colourful accompanying booklet features stills from the film, a synopsis, a note from director Christian Carion, profiles of the composer and both vocal artistes, plus Rombi's brief notes on his music for the film. A classy package for an equally classy score, and one that will hopeful make Hollywood sit up and take note.

Friday, April 14, 2006

CD REVIEW - Crypt of the Living Dead

Crypt of the Living Dead
Music by Phillip Lambro
Perseverance Records PRD 009
22 Tracks 37:53 mins

I guess to film music enthusiasts Phillip Lambro will always be remembered as the composer who was replaced by Jerry Goldsmith on Roman Polanski's Chinatown, and whilst he did compose scores for a handful of pictures in the '60s and '70s, he is probably better known in classical music circles, where his works have been performed by some of the world's greatest orchestras.
Based on his score for this low budget horror from 1973, which originated from Spain, but which was adapted for American audiences, I can only feel nothing but disappointment that he was largely lost to the concert platform. For Crypt of the Living Dead, the composer was basically asked to save the picture and came up with a truly eerie, largely atonal score, featuring inventive use of combinations of instruments, 'layered in rhythmic patterns.' The opening "Introduction" introduces an effectively, doom-laden piano march, followed quickly by "Hannah's Atmosphere," with its repeating piano and somewhat erotic wordless female voice. Both these elements are reused throughout the score, with interesting variations and effects, such as harp runs and seesawing violins - all very eerie and affecting. There are also a handful of exciting, timpani-driven chases and the bongos-driven action of "The Mob, The Wildman & Chase." What little melody there is being reserved for "Little Hannah's Theme," a mysterious xylophone theme, at the same time with a childlike innocence to it. It's all very effective scoring and good that it is preserved for posterity on this disc, as I doubt very much if I shall ever get the opportunity of seeing this largely forgotten film.
Accompanying the CD is a splendidly illustrated booklet, featuring a fascinating essay by Randall D. Larson, which features comments by the composer, who actually re-edited the original tapes to come up with a better listening experience for the album.
Horror music fans should definitely check this one out.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

CD REVIEW - Inside Man

Inside Man
Music by Terence Blanchard
Varese Sarabande VSD-6722 (EU)
27 Tracks 56:29 mins

Director Spike Lee is not normally associated with crime thrillers, but he agreed to take on this bank heist thriller with a twist and of course took his composer of choice, Terence Blanchard, with him. And Blanchard certainly delivers, basing his score around two themes, the first big and weighty, which opens the album and crops up throughout subsequent tracks, seemingly accompanying the heist and the bad guys, principally Clive Owen, who seems to be making significant inroads into the Hollywood mainstream these days. It is particularly striking in a travelling variation for "Stevie Switcharoo," becoming expansive in the following "Dalton's World." The composer's secondary theme, if one could call it that, seemingly accompanies the hostage negotiator, Denzel Washington, and gives him a noble yet at times badass swagger, strutting his stuff to a retro, funky '70s-styled accompaniment. "Food Chain" and "Nice Talking to You" are striking examples of this theme, with "Photo Ops" presenting it in as similarly weighty form as the Clive Owen theme. Both themes come together in the concluding "Good and Ready," where first sax and then Blanchard's trumpet lead the way.
Tacked on the end of the album is an absolutely awful number - a combination of Bollywood and hip-hop, and we can only be thankful for its placement there.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

CD REVIEW - Suits on the Loose

Before I come to my review of Suits on the Loose, just to tell you that this coming Friday if you tune in to BBC Radio 4 at 4:30 p.m. you can hear Francine Stock's interview with John Williams on The Film Programme.

Suits on the Loose
Music by Alan Williams
Silverscreen Music SMCD 022
19 Tracks 39:35 mins

Once again Alan Williams shows his versatility, as music for this comedic caper is largely written in the modern Country style, reminiscent of the recent Dukes of Hazzard remake, with much guitar and harmonica driven country rock, though there are some more light and airy Western-styled moments and even a touch of Bluegrass, all performed by multi-instrumentalist Tim May, Larry David on harmonica, Peter Kent on fiddle and the composer himself at the piano. My favourite parts of the score however are the quieter, more sentimental moments featuring Williams's piano, sometimes allied to May's acoustic guitar, with occasional light synths backing. The composer ends the score with a bang, reprising his principal Country Rock, Western and Bluegrass material to provide a rip-roaring finish.
Visit for details of all Alan Williams' CD releases.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

CD REVIEW - Date Movie

Date Movie
Music by David Kitay
27 Tracks 33:11 mins

Date Movie, a spoof on the hit rom-coms of recent years, starring Allyson Hannigan and Eddie Griffin, has been doing good business at the U.S. box office by all accounts. Veteran of the said rom-com genre David Kitay, who by now can surely write this stuff in his sleep, provides incidental music for the film. There's no official CD release for the score and frankly with many of the cues being brief affairs, just underlining the comedic moments, it doesn't surprise me. Besides, historically, one usually gets a song compilation CD, with a couple of score tracks included if you're lucky. In this case not, as Lakeshore have just released the songs it seems.
Kitay's music for this film pushes all the right buttons, with some nice, warm and tender romanticism, with sensitive piano and harp, dreamy waltzes, innocent music box tunes, and plenty of frantic comedy moments, with just the odd hint of menace. Bouncy ethnic-styled music seems likely to have accompanied the spoofing of something like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, whilst we also have Psycho-like stabbing strings, '70s grooves and even percussive jungle rhythms. There's something for just about anyone's taste.

Monday, April 10, 2006

CD REVIEW - Klute plus DVD ramblings

The main purpose of my blog today is to review Harkit's CD release of Michael Small's music to 1971's Klute, but before I get to this I would just like to spend a few moments on a couple of DVD releases I have recently viewed.
I don't get to the cinema these days, which is not ideal when one is trying to review music for films. I have to approach new scores from a CD listening point of view and of course the music is primarily intended to support the images it accompanies. At least there is always a chance to view a film on DVD, but unfortunately one usually has to wait a few months for a film to make it to this medium. So it was that I had to wait to view Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Peter Jackson's King Kong.
I haven't a lot to say about the former, save that I found it entertaining and thankfully still very English. I still prefer W & G 's short adventures more entertaining, but there are some very nice touches in Were-Rabbit and Julian Nott & co.'s music is even better than on the entertaining CD release - very effective film scoring indeed.
As for the new King Kong, well, I've read mixed reviews about the film, but always had faith in Jackson's vision as a director - after all, how could he go that wrong after the triumph of his Lord of the Rings Trilogy? And I don't care what some cynics had to say; I found it a thoroughly magical and involving adventure. I didn't find the opening scenes and voyage to the island dragged in the least. It was perhaps a little short on character development, but not so as one couldn't get involved in their subsequent plight. The various fights with Kong and the prehistoric cast were brilliantly realised and I thought Naomi Watts, who was really put through the mill and must have earned more than her fair share of bruises, was excellent. Jackson laid on the emotion more in this version than previous outings, making it a real beauty and the beast romance, which worked well enough to leave me suitably teary-eyed at the film's conclusion. Finally, he might have been a last-minute replacement, surviving on adrenalin alone to get the huge amount of music required completed in so little time, but James Newton Howard deserves all the praise in the world. His music drives the film and is the very heart and soul of things - a truly remarkable achievement. I'd still like to hear Howard Shore's music for the film one day, but now can't imagine any approach better than Howard's; and credit again to Jackson for keeping the music turned up when it would have been easy to allow sound effects to drown it out, as is often the way these days. I suppose many, Jackson included, will always have a soft spot for the original 1933 Kong, but this is now the definitive version for me. Bravo, to all concerned, I haven't been so thoroughly entertained since, well, Lord of the Rings.

Music by Michael Small
Harkit Records HRKCD 8007
18 tracks 37:27 mins

What with this release and Intrada's Black Widow CD, at last the record companies are beginning to take notice of the music of Michael Small - and not before time. Small, who died in 2003, wrote some very fine scores in his career and there are many more out there that deserve to be preserved on disc, so support these releases well and maybe, just maybe, they will be.
This cult thriller from 1971 starred Donald Sutherland and a marvellous Jane Fonda at the height of her powers. The film and it's score is highly thought of, but the latter, despite it's love theme being available on compilations, remained officially unreleased until now (a bootleg recording of the score has been circulating for years). Small was expert at scoring thrillers and this is certainly no exception, with its eerie percussion runs and persistent piano figures, coupled with erotic female vocals of the kind Edda was producing for Ennio Morricone's Italian scores of the time. But it is indeed the love theme that one most remembers, a smoky, trumpet-lead number that receives a number of quite brief workouts before concluding the disc in an extended, slightly popped-up version. I suppose the next most melodious cue is "Goldfarb's Fantasy," an ethnic-styled waltz for violin and cymbalom, and of course there are the four source cues Small composed, the piano-lead, slow jazz of "Lounge Music;" the go-go-styled "Bree's Abandon;" the psychedelic rocker "Club Scene;" and the piano-lead pop of "Righteous."
Accompanying the disc is a colourful 16-page booklet, featuring notes on the film, its stars and composer, plus principal cast and credits.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

CD REVIEW - Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha
Music by John Williams
Sony Classical 82876 77857 2 (EU)
18 Tracks 61:11 mins

I thought it was about time I discovered what all the fuss was about, so invested in a copy of this award-winning score by the great John Williams.
Of course I would have to reserve my final judgment as to its award worthiness until I have actually seen the film, but as a CD, I would have to say that it's good, but a long way short of my favourite John Williams scores, and one I am unlikely to revisit that often.
From clips I had previously heard on the radio, it seemed very one-themed, but in fact there are two major themes and a lot more interesting work besides. The principal theme is "Sayuri's Theme," most often played by Yo-Yo Ma's expressive cello, but just occasionally Itzhak Perlman's violin gets to play with it. It's an elegant, yet melancholy theme, given good workouts by the strings in "The Journey to Hanamachi" and in a gently propulsive manner, with a percussive mid-section in "Becoming a Geisha." The "End Credits" feature both soloists in a strong set of variations to close the score.
The second major theme is "The Chairman's Waltz," which is just that a solid violin-lead waltz theme, which is given another good workout in "The Garden Meeting." Three other tracks standout, the catchy, violin-lead Oriental dance "Going to School;" "Destiny's Path," which positively flows with anticipation; and the increasingly emotional "A Dream Discarded."
Along the way Williams provides Oriental colour, utilising traditional instruments and there are some dark dramatics later on signalling "The Coming of War" and beyond.
Certainly more consistently enjoyable than Munich or War of the Worlds then, but Williams' music for the final instalment in the Star Wars saga remains my favourite of his recent output.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Michael A Levine's Music for Cold Case

"COLD CASE" Apr. 9
Creates Period Song for Series' Oldest Unsolved Crime

(Los Angeles, CA) Composer Michael A. Levine known for scoring two hit CBS -series, Cold Case and Close to Home, has written the song "300 Flowers" for "Beautiful Little Fool," a Cold Case episode premiering April 9, 9 p.m.
PST/EST. Liz Garcia wrote the episode and provides the lyrics for the song in the style of Gershwin and Cole Porter, which contains a clue to the identity of an aspiring songwriter killed in 1929. This is the oldest unsolved crime the series has ever featured. The episode also marks the first time the show has used an original song over its closing montage,
Michael's contemporary arrangement of "300 Flowers."

Winner of two Clio Awards for his work in advertising, Michael's groundbreaking combination of high-tech sound design with music became his calling card. His music for the first of his two Clio Awards, the
Mitsubishi Eclipse campaign, combined Japanese flute, an operatic soprano, world percussion, and electronically processed animal noises. Michael's once-radical approach employed on the Mitsubishi spots became so widely imitated by others in car commercials that the formula eventually became an advertising cliché. Still, his best-known ads are his jingles "Wacky Wild
Kool-Aid Style," "Motts and Motts of Motts," and, most infamously, "Gimme a
Break" for Kit Kat, which is widely considered to be one of the most effective "earworms," a term used to describe a bit of music that you can't get out of your head, whether you want to or not. Grammy winning American
Idol champ Carrie Underwood sang it on this year's campaign.

Born in Tokyo, Michael was raised in the Midwest and schooled in Canada
(McGill Univ.), Wisconsin (UW), and Boston (Berklee College of Music). He moved to New York City where his first job was playing violin on the streets. In the early 80s he founded the legendary No Guitars, one of the first bands to have a video on the just-launched MTV. He also managed to squeeze in gigs as a fiddle player on the NYC country, folk, and Irish scenes, working with then-unknown Shawn Colvin. Michael returns to his roots on an April 2 episode of Cold Case where he briefly appears playing "Wilkommen" from Cabaret on the violin and also as a violin-playing pirate in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Michael is working with William Phillip McKinley on mounting a production of
"Orpheus Electronica," a multi-media techno-opera which sets the myth of Orpheus in an underground dance party. McKinley directed the Broadway hit musical The Boy From Oz, starring Hugh Jackman, and also directs The Ringling Bros. Circus.

So what did I think of "300 Flowers" and Michael A. Levine's music for the show in general? Well, from the promotional discs furnished me, I would say that "300 Flowers" effectively echoes the kind of lounge-style ballad from years gone by. It may not be to the taste of the young, but those of use shall we say of a more mature age will find it enjoyable, even if the uncredited female vocal is somewhat raw for my taste. As for Levine's music for the show, the promo disc presents music from both Season's One and Two, and is very much of the synths and samples variety, though, if they are samples, they are very good, as there are some fine piano, cello and trumpet solos. There are propulsive, beat-driven, and fateful cues, with big crescendos where required, and more poignant, and emotional fare. The odd jazz cue finds its way into the mix like "Red Glare Lament, and the bluesy "The Letter," with its wordless male vocal is very affecting. All in all, effective TV scoring.

Anyway, if you are Stateside, check out the show tomorrow night. Here in the U.K., re-runs of the first season are available on Freeview, whilst Season Two doesn't appear to be airing on Satellite at the moment.

My thanks, as always, to Costa Communications for providing the news and the music to make this report possible.

Friday, April 07, 2006

CD REVIEW - Commandos Strike Force - plus news from Top Dollar PR and Intrada

Commandos Strike Force
Music by Mateo Pascual
Saimel 3997510 (Spain)
19 Tracks 44:57 mins

This latest in the Spanish game series is again scored by regular composer Mateo Pascual, but unlike previous entries, his music is performed by symphony orchestra and choir - the Bratislava Symphony and City Choir of Bratislava, resulting in a more cinematic sound than ever before, though Pascual's scores for previous Comandos games are none less valid and are worthwhile checking out on the same label.
As one would expect from a game with a wartime setting, the music is mostly propulsive, with plenty of expectant, determined builds and exciting action writing, though there are a few poignant moments like in "Missing Allies," "The Heavy Burden" and ""Closing Danger," with its tolling bell effect.
Best track is undoubtedly the big and heroic "A Few Good Men," where the choir really makes its presence felt, but they are nonetheless effective in plenty more cues throughout the album.
The accompanying booklet includes session photographs, as well as a portrait of the composer, plus notes by Saimel's Juan Angel Saiz.
Visit for details of all Saimel's releases.

From Top Dollar PR


New Breed of Fantasy Music Immerses Players in Unique
Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game

The Hague, The Netherlands - April 6th, 2006 - Spellborn International NV. announces that Jesper Kyd, the internationally acclaimed composer whose video game credits include Freedom Fighters and the Hitman series, has created the original music score for the massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), The Chronicles of Spellborn. Kyd's score for Spellborn is an inspired blend of organic and ethereal musical landscapes embroidered with theatrical orchestrations that provide an emotional connection for the player and fully immerses them in the post-apocalyptic dark fantasy world of Spellborn.

Since the art and environments designed for The Chronicles of Spellborn have been developed with such involving attention to detail, the producers of Spellborn did not want a generic fantasy score and felt a purely orchestral pallet would not reflect the true nature of Spellborn. Their vision demanded they seek out a more unique, multi-layered, vanguard style.

"We knew a mix of diverse musical textures would better serve our game than simply using an orchestra, so we approached Jesper Kyd who is renowned for his versatility as well as producing scores that go beyond the traditional mould," explains Matthew Florianz, Sound Designer for The Chronicles of Spellborn." Jesper has fashioned the kind of grandeur usually associated with the cinematic sound of an orchestra, though he only used analogue sounds and solo instruments, and delivers a deeply emotional impact with a minimum of bombast. His elaborate, cerebral and intuitive treatment was exactly what we were looking for."

Barry Hoffman, Spellborn International NV.'s Marketing Manager added, "Jesper Kyd is a composer with the rare combination of having a recognizable personal style, a good feel for what speaks to a mass audience and the ability to translate mood and emotion into music. Just as he has done in the action and stealth genres before, Jesper Kyd brings extraordinary creativity that will not only captivate Spellborn players but will also appeal to a broader spectrum of music lovers and soundtrack fans."

Music samples from The Chronicles of Spellborn are available at

About Jesper Kyd
Jesper Kyd's dedication to create scores that transcend traditional repertoires has gained him international critical acclaim and numerous accolades from the arts and entertainment industry. Kyd's hybrid electronic and live choral score for Freedom Fighters earned him the GameSpot award for "Best Original Music in a Game" and nomination for "Best Use of Sound in a Game" at the Billboard Digital Entertainment Awards. His fusion of minimalist electronica and dark orchestral and choral grooves featured in Hitman: Contracts was awarded best "Original Music" by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts at the 2005 BAFTA Games Awards. Hitman: Contracts also won the 2005 Game Audio Network Guild award for "Best Cinematic Audio."

About Spellborn International NV.

Since the founding of the company in 2004, Spellborn International Ltd. has focused on the single goal of developing an innovative Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG). Privately owned and operated, Spellborn N.V's development studios are based in The Hague, The Netherlands. The multinational development team is made up of experienced professionals from the game development industry as well as specialists in the many other disciplines required to release a game of this scope. The team is bound by a collective desire to break conventions on the way to developing a revolutionary title.

INTRADA Announces:

Conducted by Lionel Newman

INTRADA Special Collection Volume 30

For the 20th Century Fox film HOUSE OF BAMBOO (1955), director Samuel
Fuller presents an extraordinary portrait of post-war Japan. Robert
Stack plays Eddie; a tough Army cop who infiltrates a gang of dishonourably discharged servicemen, led by the disarmingly soft-spoken Sandy (Robert Ryan). Although a seemingly simplistic plot, Fuller brings in his usual bravura, embroidering the tale with more complexity than is first apparent.

In the music to HOUSE OF BAMBOO, perhaps nowhere is Leigh Harline's full range of gifts more glitteringly on display. From the opening cascades of ferociously descending strings, the music is sure, strong, confident, and beautiful. The music is played powerfully by the Fox orchestra under the baton of Lionel Newman. It's suspenseful, ominous, romantic...all wielding a profoundly serious tone that keeps Fuller's cinematic pyrotechnics in the realm of the recognizably real. This release was edited and mastered from the original stereo session masters, which were in perfect condition, allowing for an impressive dynamic range and stereo spread.

This Intrada Special Collection release is limited to 1200 copies.

INTRADA Special Collection - Volume 30
For artwork, tracklist, and to order, please visit

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Music by Nathan Wang and Gary Chase
Guts Records RXCD006 (Hong Kong)
19 Tracks 60:50 mins

I'd love there to be an international release for this soundtrack to the latest Jackie Chan adventure. I know nothing about the film, save what can be gleaned from the many full colour stills present in the accompanying booklet (unfortunately the text isn't in English), but it appears to have an historical setting.
What I do know is that Wang and Chase's music is very exciting, at times written in the Media Ventures style, at others more traditionally Oriental in style. As one would expect from a Jackie Chan movie, there must be plenty of action, as so many cues are of this variety. In fact, just too many to go into their merits individually. Suffice it to say if you enjoy heroic, propulsive, sometimes percussion based action music, you'll lap this up.
In amongst all this action material there are more mystical and romantic cues, sometimes featuring subtle use of soprano, and there are two romantic ballads present on the album, the first, "Endless Love," is presented initially with a male vocalist taking the verses, whilst a female voices the chorus. A second version concludes the album, in which they duet. The other ballad is called "Treasure Yourself" and is for female vocalist. Both songs are lovely, and I'd love to hear them sung in English.
With not a dud track to be found, I can recommend this album wholeheartedly as one of the most enjoyable I have encountered recently and, incidentally, it's not that hard to find - I picked mine up on eBay for a very reasonable price.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

CD REVIEW - Shostakovich: The Execution of Stepan Razin

Shostakovich: The Execution of Stepan Razin
Music by Dmitry Shostakovich
Naxos 8.557812
7 Tracks 52:22 mins

Though not actually film music, the late Russian composer wrote many film scores alongside his concerts works, and carried his style throughout both, making many of his concert works very accessible and enjoyable to the film music enthusiast's ears.
Three works are presented on this disc, all performed by the Seattle Symphony, conducted by Gerard Schwarz, the first being Shostakovich's 28-minute symphonic poem for baritone soloist, mixed chorus and orchestra The Execution of Stepan Razin, written in 1964, which is based on the 17th century Cossack rebel and folk-hero, who unsuccessfully tried to topple Peter the Great's father Tsar Alexis I from his throne. The piece opens with a tour-de-force of exciting music, big on brass, with soloist Charles Robert Austin and the choir giving all they've got, and will very much appeal to fans of the likes of Conan the Barbarian. This goes on for 6 minutes or so, when things take a quieter mood of foreboding, where Austin carries things until a call to arms once again brings some exciting action. It all ends up in tragedy however with the orchestra ringing out Razin's death knell, before a big finale.
The symphonic poem October follows and was one of the composer's last works, written in 1967 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1917 Revolution. This piece is purely orchestra, and does in fact borrow from one of the composer's film scores from the 1930s Volochayev Days;l and, after a quiet start, moves along constantly, sometimes subdued, sometimes more powerfully, ending in a furious and heroic climax.
The disappointing Five Fragments, from 1935, is experimental and foreshadows the composer's 4th Symphony, concluding the album poorly after some of the exciting music that preceded it.
The accompanying booklet features Steven Lowe's notes on the composer and his featured works and, thanks to Philip Taylor's translations, you can also follow the text of Stepan Razin.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

CD REVIEW - Running Scared

Running Scared
Music by Mark Isham
Varese Sarabande VSD-6720 (EU)
22 Tracks 71:04 mins

A lengthy, but unfortunately not very satisfying album here from Mark Isham, whose music can be extremely entertaining and inspiring like his efforts for Fly Away Home and more recently Miracle and Racing Stripes, but there's other sides to him like the atmospheric Crash and the kind of thriller score we have here which, after an interesting start, descends into dark, threatening and suspenseful, largely electronic atmospheres, with very occasional use of ethnic female vocals and just a few bursts of menacing percussion to get the pulse racing. As I said, the album starts well enough with a somewhat continental sounding theme, complete with slightly off-key piano, moving to a persistent beat. This theme does make further appearances, but only towards the end of the disc, by which time you may have dozed off or gone for a cup of tea. Peter Maunu's acoustic guitar makes a few appearances, first with the poignant "Love on a Washing Machine," and then taking the piano line in the concluding variations on the main theme.
I know absolutely nothing about the film, and it could very well be that the score works really well therein but, as an album, it has little to recommend it, I'm afraid.

Monday, April 03, 2006

CD REVIEW - Charlie Chaplin: The Essential Film Music Collection

Charlie Chaplin: The Essential Film Music Collection
Music by Charles Chaplin and Carl Davis
Silva screen SILCD1198
Disc 1 - 14 Tracks 74:48 mins Disc 2 - 12 Tracks 76:51 mins

This truly wonderful release pairs original music composed by Charles Chaplin for his films with suites from Carl Davis' scores for Chaplin's short films created for the Mutual Film Company between 1916 and 1917. Davis himself conducts the City of Prague Philharmonic and the Wihan Quartet.
Chaplin's suites and themes make up the first disc and reveal his wonderful gift for melody. Although a number of arrangers and orchestrators brought his music to life, he was very much hands on and knew just what he wanted from the scores to his films. Memorable themes abound, not just those well-known classics like the Limelight theme and "Smile" from Modern Times. Music is included from all his most treasured films, including The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator, Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight, and is too wide-ranging to mention individual themes here. Suffice it to say, that it never fails to be melodic and interesting.
As for the Davis compositions, these are presented on Disc Two and if anything are even more melodic and enjoyable than Chaplin's compositions, perhaps showing that for all Chaplin's melodic gifts, a trained composer will always shine through. Of course Davis is vastly experienced at composing for the many revivals of silent films, and knows just what is required. His suites here are a marvellous combination of lovely melodies and busy, breezy and descriptive music.
The accompanying booklet features notes on Chaplin and his music, plus an essay by Carl Davis. This has to be one of the finest collections of film music to have come my way in a long, long time. Do not delay, get your copy today.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Issue 48/49 of Music from the Movies - now available!

Issue 48/49 of Music from the Movies is now available and, as always, is packed with exciting features, including extensive coverage of recent films Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, A History of Violence, Syriana, Casanova, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, XXX: State of the Union and Flight of the Phoenix. All these reports are fully illustrated with stills from the films and recording session coverage, and feature interviews with the composers concerned and their directors. In addition, the issue includes interviews with Don Davis on his opera Rio de Sangre and pictures from its premiere, Jeff Atmajian on orchestrating Peter Jackson's King Kong, and a general interview with veteran composer Laurence Rosenthal. There is also a "Centenary Tribute" to Benjamin Frankel and of course the usual extensive CD review section, plus a few news items and the valuable "in the pipeline" feature, which keeps one up to date with composers and their forthcoming assignments.
Issue 50 is expected soon, with scheduled features on Superman Returns, X-Men 3, Mission:Impossible 3 and Omen 666.

Speaking of Mission:Impossible 3, if you go to you can find an extensive photo report on the scoring sessions for the film, and even see a picture of Tom Cruise conducting.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

CD REVIEW - Not With My Wife, You Don't!/Any Wednesday plus news from Costa Communications

Not With My Wife, You Don't!/Any Wednesday
Music by Johnny Williams and George Duning
Film Score Monthly Vol. 9 No.3
23 Tracks 56:22 mins

A first-time CD release for this pairing of two jazz scores for sex comedies dating from 1966. Both were previously available on LP and are re-recordings, as was the fashion at the time, of music written for these films, which may not please the purists among you, but nevertheless make for a tuneful listening experience. In fact, sometimes I long for a return to those days when you at least had complete themes to latch on to, whereas so many CDs today leave you wanting when themes you would enjoy in more complete form are so often underdeveloped, due to the requirements of the film.
John Williams (or Johnny as he was known then) provided the score for the Tony Curtis/Virna Lisi/George C.Scott comedy Not With My Wife, You Don't! and collaborated with lyricist Johnny Mercer on the songs "Big Beautiful Ball," a breezy number, first heard in a big band arrangement over the "Main Title," then as a swinging vocal by Mercer himself, who proves he could sing almost as well as he could write; and the romantic "My Inamorata," given voice by a small choral group; as well as the film's title song," which is a typical example of cheesy '60s pop, voiced by a male choral grouping. Other themes of note include "Hey Julietta," an up tempo jazz waltz for wordless choir, the laid-back "Two of Everything," and "Arriverderci Mondo," with its electric guitar lead. A couple of unusual cues, "Foney Poochini," with its combo of horns playing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat mixed with Rossini-styled operatica, and "Hungarian Jungle Music," an easy jazz mover with jungle percussion and a wild guitar bridge, which oddly apparently has no equivalent in the film, round out the fun.
Strangely, George Duning's optimistic, jazzy, main theme for Any Wednesday, with lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, is sung by choral group in the film, but on the album is only presented in instrumental form. It is reprised often in a score that is bright, jazzy and tuneful throughout, with breezy movers like "Playboy John," hip swingers like "Righteous Cass" and "Wife Meets Mistress;" and out and out chase music like "Frantic Cass," together with some easy-listening laid-back numbers like "Pigeon John" and "Double Clinches."
The accompanying booklet concentrates largely on the cue-by-cue guide, as the careers of both composers have been well documented. Modern-day film music enthusiasts will probably note approve of this kind of album, but for those of us raised in the '60s, the music presented here will transport us back to, if not a more innocent, certainly a more tuneful time.

From Costa Communications

"COLD CASE" Apr. 9
Creates Period Song for Series' Oldest Unsolved Crime

(Los Angeles, CA) Composer Michael A. Levine known for scoring two hit CBS -series, Cold Case and Close to Home, has written the song "300 Flowers" for "Beautiful Little Fool," a Cold Case episode premiering April 9, 9 p.m.
PST/EST. Liz Garcia wrote the episode and provides the lyrics for the song in the style of Gershwin and Cole Porter, which contains a clue to the identity of an aspiring songwriter killed in 1929. This is the oldest unsolved crime the series has ever featured. The episode also marks the first time the show has used an original song over its closing montage, Michael's contemporary arrangement of "300 Flowers."

Winner of two Clio Awards for his work in advertising, Michael's groundbreaking combination of high-tech sound design with music became his calling card. His music for the first of his two Clio Awards, the Mitsubishi Eclipse campaign, combined Japanese flute, an operatic soprano, world percussion, and electronically processed animal noises. Michael's once-radical approach employed on the Mitsubishi spots became so widely imitated by others in car commercials that the formula eventually became an advertising cliché. Still, his best-known ads are his jingles "Wacky Wild Kool-Aid Style," "Motts and Motts of Motts," and, most infamously, "Gimme a Break" for Kit Kat, which is widely considered to be one of the most effective "earworms," a term used to describe a bit of music that you can't get out of your head, whether you want to or not. Grammy winning American Idol champ Carrie Underwood sang it on this year's campaign.

Born in Tokyo, Michael was raised in the Midwest and schooled in Canada
(McGill Univ.), Wisconsin (UW), and Boston (Berklee College of Music). He moved to New York City where his first job was playing violin on the streets. In the early 80s he founded the legendary No Guitars, one of the first bands to have a video on the just-launched MTV. He also managed to squeeze in gigs as a fiddle player on the NYC country, folk, and Irish scenes, working with then-unknown Shawn Colvin. Michael returns to his roots on an April 2 episode of Cold Case where he briefly appears playing "Wilkommen" from Cabaret on the violin and also as a violin-playing pirate in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Michael is working with William Phillip McKinley on mounting a production of
"Orpheus Electronica," a multi-media techno-opera which sets the myth of Orpheus in an underground dance party. McKinley directed the Broadway hit musical The Boy From Oz, starring Hugh Jackman, and also directs The Ringling Bros. Circus.