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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

CD REVIEW - Farscape Classics Volume Two

Farscape Classics Volume Two
Music by Guy Gross
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1046 (U.S.)
26 Tracks 74:21 mins

I am probably not the best person to review this disc as a) I didn't like the show and stopped viewing early on in its First Season and b) on the whole I don't like synth scores, which these largely are. In fact, from what I've heard, courtesy of La-La Land Records' previous releases of music from the show, I preferred original composers' SubVision's take on the music. Their main theme still finds a place on this disc and is among the best music here presented, wonderfully propulsive, with fascinating vocals. Gross was asked to come up with a new theme for the Third Season, based on the original, and it's a poor imitation.
There are very few highlights on this lengthy disc, which features the scores from the Second Season closer Die Me Dichotomy and the second part of the Third Season closer Into the Lion's Den - most of the music is of the atmospheric and downright boring variety, with just a few propulsive moments. Best tracks are, from the former, "Aeryn's Farewell," a beautiful soprano-voiced requiem, which has apparently become one of the most requested favourites among fans of the show; and from the latter, Gross' arrangement of "Johnny Comes Marching home" in the track "Back at the Ranch;" and the lengthy track "The Last Stand," which features some powerful choral work.
The colourful accompanying booklet features extensive notes by Randall D. Larson, with comments from the composer throughout.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

News from Activision Games



Santa Monica, CA - August 29, 2006 - Activision, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) announced today that award-winning composers Chance Thomas (Peter Jackson's King Kong, Lord of the Rings series), Cris Velasco (God of War) and Mark Griskey (Best of LucasArts Original Soundtrack) have scored the upcoming, critically-acclaimed Marvel(tm): Ultimate Alliance video game. The trio has produced over 50 minutes of original music for Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, including arrangements for multiple game levels, the in-game cinematics and the Super Hero(tm) and boss battle themes.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is Raven Software's highly anticipated action/RPG that allows players to create their Marvel dream team from the largest roster of Super Heroes ever in an epic quest that will determine the fate of Earth and the Marvel Universe. With over 140 popular Marvel characters and a playable cast of more than 20 Super Heroes, including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Blade and Captain America, gamers will embark on a dangerous journey across exotic terrain and well-known comic book locations like Atlantis, the Shield Heli-Carrier and the Skrull home world in an attempt to defy Dr. Doom and the world's most notorious Super Villains.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance will be the first Super Hero game available this fall for all next-gen gaming systems. Additionally, the game will be available for current-gen consoles, handheld and PC platforms, and carries a "T" (Teen - Mild Language, Violence) rating by the ESRB.

About Marvel Entertainment, Inc.

With a library of over 5,000 characters, Marvel Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies. Marvel's operations are focused on utilizing its character franchises in licensing, entertainment, publishing and toys. Areas of emphasis include feature films, DVD/home video, consumer products, video games, action figures and role-playing toys, television and promotions. Rooted in the creative success of over sixty years of comic book publishing, Marvel's strategy is to leverage its character franchises in a growing array of opportunities around the world. More information about Marvel can be found at .

About Activision, Inc.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products. Founded in 1979, Activision posted net revenues of $1.47 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2006.

Activision maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom,
France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia, Scandinavia, Spain, the
Netherlands and South Korea. More information about Activision and its
products can be found on the company's World Wide Web site, which is
located at

The statements made in this press release that are not historical facts
are "forward-looking statements". These forward-looking statements are
based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks
and uncertainties. The Company cautions readers of this press release
that a number of important factors could cause Activision's actual
future results to differ materially from those expressed in any such
forward-looking statements. Such factors include, without limitation,
product delays, retail acceptance of our products, industry competition,
rapid changes in technology and industry standards, protection of
proprietary rights, litigation and an informal SEC inquiry, maintenance
of relationships with key personnel, vendors and third-party developers,
international economic and political conditions, integration of recently
acquired subsidiaries and identification of suitable future acquisition
opportunities. These important factors and other factors that
potentially could affect the Company's financial results are described
in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including
the Company's most recent Annual report on Form 10-K and Quarterly
Report on Form 10-Q. Readers of this press release are referred to such
filings. The Company may change its intention, belief or expectation, at
any time and without notice, based upon any changes in such factors, in
the Company's assumptions or otherwise. The Company undertakes no
obligation to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking
statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or
to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

# # #

Marvel, and all related character names and the distinctive likenesses
thereof are trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used with
permission. Copyright * 2006 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights
reserved. .

Super Hero(es) and Super Villain(s) are co-owned registered trademarks.

Friday, August 25, 2006

CD REVIEW - Farewell to the King

Farewell to the King
Music by Basil Poledouris
Prometheus PCD 159 (Belgium)
31 Tracks 63:47 mins

It's nice to have this 1989 anti-war film score available again, and in a slightly expanded version. There are five previously unreleased tracks, totalling some ten minutes, within the body of the score, plus a further nine minutes of alternate takes and source music as bonus material.
If you're unfamiliar with this film and score, the former concerns a British officer's (Nigel Havers) attempts to enlist the help of an American deserter, now leader of the native tribes in Borneo, to aid in the fight against the Japanese in WWII; the latter was written by Basil Poledouris at the height of his powers, though it came in for much criticism at the time for its similarity to the work of John Barry.
In Dan Goldwasser's informative booklet notes, Poledouris himself comments on the score and admits to composing in the style of Barry, which pleased director John Milius' vision for the music. Certainly the secondary theme, first heard in "Flare of Youth" on the album, is very much John Barry in style, although the main theme itself is more recognisably Poledouris. Whatever, both are excellent themes and crop up throughout the score, never outstaying their welcome. "Battle Montage" is an excellent track - a lively, bouncy piece of music - very unexpected.
Throughout the score, Poledouris utilises ethnic flutes and percussion appropriate to the tale's jungle setting.
There is also a very British "Imperialist Waltz," a proud march in "Zed Force," and an interesting "Japanese Radio Source Cue" is included in the bonus material, which is very recognisably Poledouris, despite its Japanese instrumentation.
A nice album then, especially if you haven't got the original release. If you have, you may feel that is sufficient. All I know is that, listening to it, I was reminded how much I miss the music of Basil Poledouris. He really is too fine a composer to be absent from our screens this long.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Greatest Cinema Choral Classics

The Greatest Cinema Choral Classics
Performed by the Crouch End Festival Chorus and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Silva Screen SILKD6040
Disc 1 - 13 Tracks 66:44 mins Disc 2 - 13 Tracks 71:35 mins

Perhaps "The Greatest" is a bold claim, as I can think of a few worthy tracks that are not present in this fine collection of choral/orchestral film music, due for release on 4th September, but nevertheless this is still outstanding stuff, and is pretty faithfully performed by the above-named forces.
Of course much of the material has been released on previous Silva Screen collections, but there are new additions like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Les Choristes and King Kong to bring things right up to date.
There's something for everyone here who appreciates the combination of orchestra and choir, from music for the Star Wars films, to Conan the Barbarian, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, The Mission, Amistad, The Lion in Winter, The Omen, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Edward Scissorhands, The Passion of the Christ, The Last Valley, The Empire of the Sun, How the West Was Won, Saving Private Ryan and Henry V (the Patrick Doyle score), The Double Life of Veronique, The Abyss and The Sum of All Fears.
Unfortunately, but perhaps understandably, classical pieces by Wagner, Barber and the traditional Sanctus from Missa Luba, are also included, commemorating their effective use in film. Still, I would have liked to see three original tracks included in their stead. But this is a minor quibble.
The accompanying booklet features a brief note on each selection.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

CD REVIEW - Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare

Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare
Music by Jon Mikl Thor
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1048 (U.S.)
27 Tracks 68:15 mins

I was surprised when this colourful-looking album dropped through my door recently. Firstly, its proposed release had somehow escaped my radar and secondly, I had never even heard of the film or its composer.
According to the composer's brief liner notes, the film was released some 20 years ago, the brainchild of the composer and a guy called John Fasano and concerns a "Rock Star Superhero Archangel" and his band who do battle with evil forces in an abandoned house. I guess it must have been ultra-low budget and received a very limited release - as I say, I have certainly never heard of it. Anyway, apparently the film has a band of very loyal followers and now it's out on DVD (in the States at least), so you can check it out if it's your thing.
The music, performed by Jon and his band The Tritonz, is a mixture of atmospheric and menacing synths and vocal samples, together with a good helping of heavy metal rock songs. There are also excerpts from the film, containing dialogue, effects and music. All in all, if you are one of these loyal fans of the film, it'll make for a fine souvenir and, as a bonus treat for you, the Tritonz reformed to record two extra vocal tracks not in the film.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

CD REVIEW - Lady in the Water

Lady in the Water
Music by James Newton Howard
Decca 170 3629 (EU)
16 Tracks 59:48 mins

It's nice to see Howard's music given priority on this mixture of score and songs, with his 12 score tracks actually leading the way on the album, in this his latest collaboration with director M. Night Shyamalan.
The film has not been well received and is apparently based on a bedtime story the director made up for his kids. I've long thought his films overrated, so perhaps the general populace are now catching on. No fault however can be laid at the door of composer Howard, who has again produced another fine score, even if it does remind me of Signs, in that it is similarly propulsive, almost bordering on minimalism in its flowing passages.
It's a largely orchestral score, though choir is used tellingly and there are nice solos on piano and flute. As one would imagine, a good deal of the music is in mysterious, mystical mode, as a hotel janitor gets to grips with the strange female creature inhabiting the pool and her deadly pursuers.
As with Signs, the concluding score tracks are linked together, making for a flowing musical finale, some 10 minutes in length. The most powerful track is the penultimate one, "The Great Eatlon," which obviously is the final showdown, with plenty of musical fireworks on display, including a big, flowing choral passage. "End Titles" finishes the score in peaceful, delicate fashion, and leads into the first of four songs penned by Bob Dylan, performed by artists I have never heard of.

Monday, August 21, 2006

CD REVIEW - Monster House

Monster House
Music by Douglas Pipes
Varese Sarabande VSD 6746 (EU)
24 Tracks 49:19 mins

Douglas Pipes is a new name to me and his score for this latest in the line of computer generated animations is pretty much standard Hollywood fare, a routine orchestral mix of action and suspense, complete with clichéd mysterious piano. Many of the early tracks are quite brief, making for a pretty fragmented listening experience, but the lengthier tracks that follow allow room for development and provide some fireworks as the three kids battle to save the neighbourhood from being eaten by the Monster House of the title.
Both the film and its music seem to be faring well with the critics and so hopefully we'll be hearing more of the composer, and maybe future assignments will provide the opportunity for him to find a more distinctive voice.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

News from Top Dollar PR



Canada’s leading audio provider celebrates "Best Video Game Score"nominations for composers Tom Salta and Jesper Kyd

Montreal, Canada – August 18th, 2006 – Wave Generation (, a global leader in the creation, production, licensing and marketing of audio content for interactive entertainment, today proudly announced that two of its A-list roster music artists are nominated in the upcoming 2006 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs). Tom Salta’s score for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter™ (Ubisoft) and Jesper Kyd’s score for Hitman: Blood Money™ (Eidos) are nominated in the MTV VMA category for "Best Video Game Score." Both composers are represented by Wave Generation in Canada and Europe.Voting for "Best Video Game Score" takes place at and at through August 28th. Winners will be announced live on on August 31st during the MTV Overdrive broadcast.

Specializing in a broad range of audio services from music composition and licensing, sound effect creation and audio design to casting, voice recording, localization and post-production, Wave Generation’s focus is to provide clients with strong audio project management and extreme creative diversity. With a roster of over 30 composers, sound designers and studios, Wave Generation offers the most diverse range of video game industry talent.

Wave Generation is also an industry leading content developer of wireless entertainment products. The company has created over 2000 original and branded products currently in distribution across Canada and North America including ringtones, video ringers, screensavers, and wallpapers. Wave Generation offers its clientele music and sound production for mobile gaming as well as mobile content authoring and file conversion across all wireless platforms. The company’s ringtone porting services allow companies to offer their content to all carriers and publishers in a market ready format.

Since its inception, Wave Generation’s management have focused on solidifying relationships with key players in the video game and mobile phone industries. This strategy has secured the company’s position as one of the industry's most comprehensive audio companies. Wave Generation’s clients include Ubisoft, Atari, VU Games, NCSoft, Crytek, A2M, RockStar Games, Take 2 Interactive, Airborne Entertainment, 2K Games, Electronic Arts, LeapFrog Enterprises and Autodesk. For more information please visit

Saturday, August 19, 2006

CD REVIEW - Blood+

Music by Mark Mancina
Aniplex SVWC 7345 (Japan)
15 Tracks 46:38 mins

If you have a liking for what we know as the "Media Ventures sound," you'll love Mark Mancina's score for this Japanese anime.
I know little about the project, with the album's accompanying booklet being mostly in Japanese, save for a note by the composer, which reveals how he came on board and the part Hans Zimmer, who also produced the music, had to play in it.
There's no doubt Mancina relished the project, coming up with a thoroughly enjoyable score, making this one of the most consistently entertaining discs I've listened to in a while.
Right from the get-go and the propulsive, then triumphant "Saya's Victory," there's music of great power and excitement, as one conflict follows another, but there are also lighter moments like the airy "Saya's Daily Life" and the beautiful music to be found in "Saya's Destiny" and "Saya's Courage." The piano-lead "Saya's Love" is absolutely gorgeous, and after the "Grand Theme" has brought proceedings to a proud and triumphant end, a surprising operatic aria for soprano, concludes the disc in dramatic style.
A fine score then, and I'm delighted to say that a second album is on the way - I can't wait!

Friday, August 18, 2006

CD REVIEW - Tombstone

Music by Bruce Broughton
Intrada MAF 7098 (U.S.)
Disc 1 - 24 Tracks 72:42 mins Disc 2 - 12 Tracks 14:14 mins

This 1993 saga of Wyatt Earp and how he tamed Tombstone was the first of two films made on the subject at that time. Kevin Costner's film Wyatt Earp painted a broader picture, but its release came after Tombstone and it suffered as a result. There's nothing really wrong with Costner's film; it's just that Tombstone was such a thoroughly entertaining film, with a fine cast, all giving their best. At least these films left a fine legacy in terms of their scores, for both Bruce Broughton's, reviewed here, and James Newton Howard's for Wyatt Earp are both modern classics of the western genre.
Perhaps Broughton's score isn't as consistently likeable as that he wrote for the earlier Silverado, which ironically counted Costner amongst its stars, but then the film is a much darker affair and leaves little room for the spirited, adventurous music written for Silverado.
At the time of the film's release, Intrada gave us a perfectly fine soundtrack album, which I shall continue to treasure, but now they have given us an expanded, 2CD version, featuring the complete score on Disc 1 and bonus material on Disc 2.
The extra cues of previously unreleased music on Disc 1 are mostly brief affairs and don't actually add much to what we already had, and completists will no doubt want to have this new version, but don't despair if you can't get hold of a copy, because you have the best of the music already.
Disc 2 is the more interesting because it features four alternate tracks, which show how certain cues went through development. There is also a very welcome edit of the "End Credits," which presents Broughton's powerful main theme isolated from the love theme that surrounds it in the score proper. Of course, there's nothing wrong with this theme, which is just as excellent; it's just nice to be able to put the main theme on separately if one is in the mood for that alone.
This second disc concludes with all the material the composer wrote for the theatre sequence. All the cues are very brief and therefore leave very little to be appreciated, but the "Thespian Overture" and "Piano/Cello Duet" are nice while they last. Broughton apparently very much enjoyed writing for these scenes and so it's good that the music finally gets to see the light of day away from the film.
The album's co-producer and Intrada supreme Douglass Fake provides the notes in the colourful accompanying booklet, with comments from the composer and co-producer himself.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Ant Bully

The Ant Bully
Music by John Debney
Varese Sarabande VSD 6748 (EU)
27 Tracks 57:05 mins

There just seems to be an endless flow of animated movies coming out of the States these days. This one apparently concerns a boy who is hell bent on destroying an ant colony until they shrink him down to their size.
The music is by John Debney and is a functional symphonic effort, with subtle use of choir alongside the orchestra in the more awe-filled moments. There's nothing very memorable about the music and the number of tracks coming in at around a minute or under make it difficult to really get into. OK, it pushes all the right buttons, with menacing action cues, some comical moments, a little bit of tenderness and warmth here and there, and some heroism when required, but it all washes over one.
There is however a very nice main theme, which flows nicely to a jungle rhythm over the opening track "Parade of Ants," appears in fragments here and there, and is given a glorious treatment at the conclusion of "Bullies and Sweet Rock," the closing track on the album.
A nice enough score then, but not as likeable as that for the composer's other recent animated project, Chicken Little.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Lake House

The Lake House
Music by Rachel Portman + songs by various artists
Lakeshore LKS 33873 (U.S.)
17 Tracks 49:20 mins

This soundtrack album to the romantic fantasy, best known for reuniting Speed co-stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, features 12 tracks of score by Rachel Portman, clocking in at 31 minutes, plus 5 songs by various artists, the most familiar to me being Paul McCartney and Carole King.
Fortunately the songs are all grouped together at the beginning of the album, leaving us Portman's score tracks to enjoy uninterrupted. And if you like the composer's music, you're sure to find this an enchanting addition to your collection, with something to enjoy in every cue, even the shorter ones that run only around a minute.
The title track is a very nice, piano and strings affair, in typical style and crops up a few times in subsequent tracks. "Sunsets" is an interesting cue - a mix of comedy and mysticism, which suddenly turns into a gently flowing guitar-lead theme. This track runs for nearly 5 minutes and is followed by "Alex's Father," which runs nearly 7 minutes. As one might expect these are the two most satisfying tracks on the disc, as they really have room for development. The latter is a pretty emotional affair, which reaches sunny heights and more bittersweet lows before reaching a glorious conclusion. The concluding tracks are similarly titled, with the intense "Wait for me" leading into the delicate then tender "You Waited," before the disc comes to a satisfying end with the unabashed romance of "I Waited."
Whatever the success or otherwise of the film, there's no denying the quality of Portman's accompaniment, even if some critics hint that you've heard it all before. If I were the composer, I would simply say: "this is my style - live with it!"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

CD REVIEW - World Trade Center

World Trade Center
Music by Craig Armstrong
Sony Classical 82876-88957-2 (U.S.)
18 Tracks 57:36 mins

Scot Craig Armstrong was perhaps a somewhat surprising choice for Oliver Stone's new movie, which tells the personal stories of two officers caught up in the horror of the 9/11 tragedy and stars Nicolas cage and Michael Pena. One would have expected maybe John Williams, who has worked with the director before. He would surely have written some powerful, patriotic anthems. But this was obviously not the approach Stone sought, and Armstrong is pretty expert at providing low key yet effective scoring for movies with a tragic bent.
What he has provided then is a score that mostly remains reverent and respectful, has emotion, though never goes over-the-top. I'm sure this approach works well enough in the film, which regrettably I haven't had the opportunity to see yet; it just makes for a somewhat one-paced soundtrack album which, as a result, comes off as way too long to really hold the interest. I may of course feel differently having seen the film.
At the heart of the score are Armstrong's "Cello Theme" and "Piano Theme," which he weaves in and out of the more telling moments. But both are given concert treatments at the start of the disc, which is a throwback to the old days when a soundtrack album's tracks had a beginning and an end. Both are suitably heartfelt, the former featuring soloist Alison Lawrence, the latter featuring the composer himself. There is also a "Choral Piece" further on, which is a moving choral/orchestral combo piece. Whilst the odd track does achieve some momentum, much of the score is ethereal or spiritual, with sampled voices and strings, though there are some more intimate, tender family moments here and there, and of course its share of tragedy. The showcase score track is the lengthy "John Rescued/Resolution," which is the nearest thing you'll hear to triumphant music on this disc, but this soon turns more spiritual with solo soprano Catherine O'Halloran's subtle contributions. Another outing for spiritual strings in "Elegy" follows this, before the composer plays us out with "Ethereal Piano Coda," which does manage to achieve some warmth.
I'm pretty sure Stone's film will turn out to be a fitting tribute to all those brave souls who perished in the events of that dreadful day, and that Armstrong's score will probably feature around Oscars time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Extemely Interesting New CDs

Dark Drama
Directors Cuts DCD020
30 Tracks 53:43 mins

Despite the whole series now being available on one Audio CD (as previously reviewed on this site), this CD dropped through my door and I was surprised to find I hadn't reviewed it, so here goes.
There's a great variety of music on this disc, commencing with a couple of really powerful tracks, the relentless "Reckoning Day" by Geoff Zanelli and Tobias Marberger's "Discomfort Zone," with its choir and ethnic touches. Other tracks of note include Lohner/Boll's fateful "Extraordinary League," which again features choir; the heartfelt cello of Tillman/Vedvik's "Mourning glory;" the meaningful "Shadowcast" by the same team; the mournful then tragic "Splinter cell" by Henning Lohner; "Immortal Mass" by Lohner/Boll, which starts off as a religious-styled choral before becoming an inspirational instrumental; the relentless "Doomseer" by Zanelli/Duncan, which starts and ends with a ticking clock effect; the reverent, pseudo-oriental "Bitter Pill" by Tillman/Vedvik and "Lonely Grail," which starts off as it sounds before becoming a religious choral.

Rockin' Breaks
Extreme XCD126
28 Tracks 50:07 mins

Extreme Music also sent me a copy of this hard-rockin' set of instrumentals and if you like this kind of thing you'll lap this one up, as there's some good stuff to be found here, very much in the style of many contemporary action scores. Many of the tracks are guitar driven, but some are more techno in nature and some a combination of the two. The composers featured are The Jetboys, Blues Saraceno, Clay Duncan and Fuzzman/Whammy Boy, all of whom mean nothing whatsoever to this film music lover, but there's some undeniably toe-tapping, pulse-pounding stuff to be heard here.
The disc is neat too, designed to resemble a good, old-fashioned record.

Twisted XTW010
23 Tracks 38:59 mins

I'm not familiar with Extreme's Twisted series, which on the evidence of this entry I'm not too sorry about. What we have here is a disc featuring 60 second and 30 second versions of tracks by a number of composers, all again unfamiliar to me, all of which are very futuristic and some quite spaced-out and weird, which maybe could develop into something listenable, but really aren't long enough to form any kind of bond with.
The design of the black and blue packaging is quite snazzy though.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Music by Elia Cmiral
To be released in the U.S. on Lakeshore in September 2006
24 Tracks 38:07 mins

I'm working from an advance release, kindly supplied by Costa Communciations, of Elia Cmiral's score for Jim Sonzero's film Pulse, which is another horror inspired by a popular Japanese film, concerning computer hackers who open a portal to another world, allowing dark forces to cross over. The film is written by vteran genre director Wes Craven and this is his second collaboration with the composer, Cmiral having previously scored Craven's They in 2002.
The music's pretty much as one would expect, similar to much that is written for the genre these days, so don't expect melody because you won't find it here. Instead, it's full of mystery, suspense and explosive shock moments, very modern and dissonant, realised by a combination of electronics, orchestra and voices.
Cmiral actually used an ISDN connection from his Los Angeles home to conduct seventy minutes of score with a sixty-piece orchestra located in his native Czech republic. In addition, he used three programmers to handle the huge amount of sound design and no less than five orchestrators (that sound you hear is Bernard Herrmann turning in his grave!). The choral parts were handled by both programmed and live voices - including Cmiral's own. He describes the work as "intense," with the director making him "explore every possible or impossible musical and sonic corner."
If you are a fan of the horror genre and like your music challenging, you'll be glad to know that Lakeshore will be releasing an official album next month.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Wild

The Wild
Music by Alan Silvestri + songs by various artists
Walt Disney 0946 3 62896 2 S (U.S.)
14 Tracks 47:15 mins

Despite the album to this computer generated animation from Disney commencing with 4 songs, including one presumably specially composed for the film, "Really Nice Day" by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, a sing-a-long pseudo-African number, there is still a generous helping of Alan Silvestri's orchestral score to be had, the 9 tracks totalling just over 31 minutes.
This is Silvestri in the largely action-packed style of Back to the Future or The Mummy Returns, with both a menacing, often percussive theme and a bold, heroic theme well in evidence. There are quieter, more serene moments, but these are few and far between, and of course, for a comedy, there are naturally humorous passages, some quite slap sticky. With most tracks averaging 3-4 minutes, there's plenty of room for development and this makes for a more satisfying listen than often is the case with soundtrack albums for these kinds of films, and comedies in general.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

CD REVIEW - Kilar: Piano Concerto

Kilar: Piano Concerto
Naxos 8.557813 (EU)
6 Tracks 68:46 mins

Better known for his film music for both the Polish cinema and in more recent years the international scene, Wojciech Kilar has also written numerous works for the concert hall and this is the second such collection issued by Naxos.
One rather irritating factor in Kilar's concert work is that each piece takes an age to get started, but they are usually worth the wait. This disc commences with 1979's Bogurodzica (Mother of God) for mixed chorus and orchestra, which is a fantasy on the ancient Polish hymn, and has some powerful and quite dissonant moments.
Next up is the centrepiece of the disc, the Piano Concerto from 1997, which draws on such sources as the Catholic liturgy and the piano concertos of Beethoven. The first movement is quite minimalist in nature, with a gently repeating figure becoming bolder before fading away. The second movement is weighty and religious in nature, becoming more ethereal with just solo piano, before reaching a spiritual climax. This segues into the final movement, a fast-flowing Toccata. The pianist on this recording is Waldemar Malicki.
Siwa Mgla (Grey Mist) from 1979 is a vocal tone-poem, with texts derived from folk sources. After a lengthy, dissonant opening the piece can be best described as episodic, with Wieslaw Ochman's baritone and orchestra alternating. It's best moment comes at the half-way mark and features a strong string movement with brass joining to a crescendo.
The final piece on the disc comes from 1976 and is Koscielec 1909, another tone-poem referring to a peak in the Tatra mountains in Southern Poland, where the composer Mieczyslaw Karlowicz met his untimely death at the age of 32. The piece goes through many moods before reaching its climax, starting out suitably mournful, but reaching powerful crescendos, including a very Lord of the Rings-like brass build, which makes one wonder if director Peter Jackson had heard the piece when Kilar was originally named as composer for the first film in the trilogy, and whether the film was maybe temped with some of his music.
Antoni Wit conducts the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, with Henryk Wojnarowski, Choirmaster, and the accompanying booklet notes are by Richard Whitehouse.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

CD REVIEW - Middletown

Music by Debbie Wiseman
Silva Screen SILCD1215 (U.K.)
12 Tracks 47:23 mins

Debbie Wiseman's latest score for Brian Kirk's Middletown is a much more restrained affair than her action-packed Arsene Lupin, with two main themes dominating the score, the second of which is more dramatic and gets more workouts - its best incarnation probably the track that introduces it - "The Hour is Coming."
Throughout, the impressive violin playing of Jack Liebeck features and reaches its emotional height in "The Heart of my Family." Piano leads at other times, possibly played by the composer, with the orchestra being recorded in Ireland.
A serviceable score then, but without the memorable themes often associated with the composer and lacking the orchestral fireworks of Arsene Lupin. The composer probably sums it up best in her notes for the accompanying booklet when she describes her score as "intense and almost 'claustrophobic,'" but kudos to Liebeck for his performance.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

CD REVIEW - TAKEMITSU: A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden

Naxos 8.557760 (EU)
7 Tracks 62:37 mins

Most of the music presented on this disc, which was incidentally recorded at the Concert Hall, Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, England in January 2005, and is performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marin Alsop, was written by the late Japanese composer for the concert hall and will therefore hold limited interest for film music fans.
Spirit Garden (1994), Solitude Sonore (1958), Dreamtime (1981) and the music that gives the disc its title (1977), all feature music that is hard to warm too. Despite what the liner notes might lead you to believe, there is little or no melody to be heard and I would best liken the music to that composed by Bernard Herrmann and especially Leonard Rosenman for films, particularly the latter in his serial style.
The three pieces for film, under the banner "Three Film Scores for String Orchestra," feature "Music of Training and Rest" from 1959's Jose Torres, which hints somewhat at Alex North's music for A Streetcar Named Desire, but does turn almost romantic later on; "Funeral Music" from 1989's Black Rain, which features mournful, Herrmanneseque strings, before developing a sense of intrigue; and "Waltz" from 1966's Face of Another, whcih is just that - a good, old-fashioned waltz.
A hard disc to like then - or even to stay awake to, but a good respresentation of Toru Takemistu's work.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications

Weinstein/Dimension Film Opens August 11

(Los Angeles, CA) Composer Elia Cmiral scores "Pulse" for director Jim Sonzero and The Weinstein Company/Dimension Films. Inspired by a popular Japanese film, the Wes Craven-penned thriller tells the story of young computer hackers who channel a mysterious signal that opens a doorway to another world, full of forces looking for a portal to cross over in order to wreak havoc. Starring a hot young cast that includes Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars"), Ian Somerhalder ("Lost") and Christina Milian ("Love Don't Cost a Thing"), the film opens August 11. This is Cmiral's second collaboration with Craven, having scored "Wes Craven Presents: They" in 2002.

For "Pulse," Cmiral crafted a contemporary electronica/modern orchestral score. Using an ISDN connection from his home in Los Angeles, he conducted seventy minutes of score with a sixty-piece orchestra located in his native Czech Republic. With three programmers to handle the huge amount of sound design and five orchestrators, he used extensive synths and percussion programming, a programmed choir and live voices including his own. "The work was intense," he says, "(director) Jim Sonzero made me explore every possible or impossible musical and sonic corner."

Born in Czechoslovakia, Elia Cmiral quickly established himself as one of
Europe's leading young composers after graduating from the prestigious Prague Music Conservatory. He wrote scores for several European films and three ballets before coming to the United States to attend USC's famous Film Scoring Program, after which he was hired to produce tango-based music for "Apartment Zero," composing a now-classic full-length score in a scant ten days. By the mid-1990s, Cmiral had garnered a reputation with Hollywood executives, and after scoring the successful "Nash Bridges" television series, he was selected to score John Frankenheimer's suspense thriller "Ronin," starring Robert DeNiro. Following the success of "Ronin," Elia has continued to provide highly original and evocative scores for major Hollywood studios as well as independent filmmakers, including "Stigmata," "Battlefield Earth," "Bones" and "Species 3."

This year, in addition to "Pulse," Cmiral scored the dark drama "Journey to the End of the Night," directed by Eric Eason for Millennium Films, which premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

CD REVIEW - Supernatural

Music by Christopher Lennertz
25 Tracks 43:23 mins

You may remember I recently posted a press release from Costa Communications, celebrating the fact that composer Christopher Lennertz had been nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on the pilot episode of the popular TV series Supernatural.
Fortunately this is one U.S. TV series that received an airing this side of the pond and, though not one of my favourites, I am always interested in the supernatural and fantastical films and TV, so I stuck with it, though not every episode thrilled me. The show deals with two guys, whose mother was killed by a demon and whose father took off in pursuit and may or may not still be alive. As they search for him, they follow his instructions and clear up a number of supernatural cases on the way.
Although Lennertz composed the music for the pilot, he then took it in turns to score subsequent episodes with Jay Gruska, who you may remember wrote excellent music for Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman a few years back. I can't say as any of the music left me with any lasting impression, but it was entirely suited to its subject matter and very effective.
This promotional disc, again provided by Costa Communications, gives a good sampling of Lennertz' work for the pilot and other early episodes and largely consists of sad piano-lead moments and menacing conflict, heavy on synth strings and at times quite chilling. Many of the tracks are quite brief, but there are longer ones that allow the music to develop through various moods. More unusual tracks see some seriously bad rock guitars in "Boys Break In," and a female vocal lament in "Pennance." There's very little warmth to the saga, just the odd romantic dalliance, which leads to a mere suggestion of something more warm in the music, but the mood seldom lasts long, before we're back in eerie, mysterious and downright menacing territory.
A second season has apparently been given the green light and it will be interesting to see if those responsible can maintain the standards set by Season One.
Incidentally, if you would like to learn more about the music for Supernatural, go to where you can find an interview with Christopher Lennertz.