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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Holiday & News from Costa Communications

The Holiday
Music by Hans Zimmer
Varese Sarabande VSD 6784 (EU)
22 Tracks 48:23 mins

Nancy Meyers' likeable romantic comedy was perfect for the Christmas season and though it may not have gone down brilliantly with the critics, with a cast like Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black, what's not to enjoy.
Similarly, Hans Zimmer's score was a light, enjoyable affair, if a little familiar at times. For instance, the opening track here, "Maestro," starts off with a nostalgic, piano-lead theme, which is very Morricone, before picking up with guitars and very Craig Armstrong-like strings (I'm talking Romeo & Juliet here). There's also a Reinhardt/Grapelli-like duet in "Light My Fire."
The Morricone-like material makes a few telling appearances here and there throughout the remainder of the score, but it's mostly light and romantic, at times breezy and optimistic, though now and again a little melancholy. There's a slight retro feel to the source-like cues, the Bossa-styled "For Nancy," and lounge tracks "Verso e Prosa" and "Meu Passado," with Heitor Pereira's vocals and Herb Alpert's trumpet. All in all, an enjoyable, undemanding listening experience, which will please those who prefer Zimmer's more intimate style of scoring to bombast.

From Costa Communications


Warner Brothers Pictures Release March 30

(HOLLYWOOD, CA)- Composer John Frizzell scores the upcoming supernatural thriller release "The Reaping." The film, starring Hilary Swank, is directed by Stephen Hopkins and produced by Joel Silver. Frizzell has previously worked with producer Joel Silver on such films as "13 Ghosts", "Ghost Ship," and "Cradle 2 The Grave." Warner Brothers Pictures is set to release the film March 30.

In the film, Hilary Swank plays a former Christian missionary who lost her faith after her family was tragically killed, and has since become a world renowned expert in disproving religious phenomena. But when she investigates a small Louisiana town that is suffering from what appear to be the Biblical plagues, she realizes that science cannot explain what is happening and she must regain her faith to combat the dark forces threatening the community.

For his most recent release, "Primeval," Frizzell spent weeks submerged in the world of African music, listening to over 20 hours of traditional recordings and mining vintage Smithsonian film footage in order to gain a holistic understanding of the art form.

Frizzell has written scores for a variety of genres and has proven his musical talent, creativity and versatility. For "The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio," starring Julianne Moore, Frizzell recruited Newgrass band Nickel Creek to play on his Americana score.

John Frizzell's other credits range from comedies such as "Beavis and Butthead Do America" and the cult classic "Office Space," to the dark comedy "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" and the sci-fi drama "Alien Resurrection." Recent credits include "Gods and Generals," and "First Born," starring Elisabeth Shue.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

CD REVIEW - Urban Drops

Urban Drops
Music by Pryde, Dr. Jawn & Dropstarz
Extreme Music XCD 135
16 Tracks 58:31 mins

Concluding my roundup of recent releases kindly sent to me by Extreme Music is this collection of tracks, which I would describe as modern hip hop meets blaxploitation. Some of the selections are very modern sounding, whilst others remind me more of the '70s Shaft kind of thrillers.
The opening "Flirty Sanchez," a big and bad strider, I would put in that category. This is followed by the interesting "Banned Land," with its Pink Pantherish piano figure over a propulsive backbeat, with added female vocal group. Other highlights, for me, are the travelling groove "Homecoming Queen," the badass stroller "Buzzle my Nizzle, and the rhythmic "Up for the Get Down" and "Shugga Tits." Finally, another interesting one, "Ridin' Dirty," a walking groove with otherwordly synth over, which comes straight from the '50s sci-fi days.
Unfortunately, as the disc progresses, it all begins to sound a bit repetitive, but you might just find what you're looking for here if you're after some cool, funky tracks for your urban thriller.
Remember, these recordings are for professional use only and not for sale to the general public, but if you're in the business, you'd do well to check out the website at

Monday, January 29, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Country Rock & Country Chill

Country Rock
Extreme Music XCD132
Music by Sonny Tan, Steve Ronsen & Nick Nolan
18 Tracks 66:44 mins

Country Chill
Extreme Music XCD133
Music by Sonny Tan, Nick Nolan, Sly Silver & 'Dakota' Matt Cheadle & Owen 'The Kid' Thomas
14 Tracks 51:31 mins

If you're looking for modern country stylings for your contemporary Americana film, or even a modern-day treatment of an old western story, there may well be something to interest you here.
I used to listen to a couple of country music radio programmes every week until I was receiving so much good screen music to review that something had to give. I must say that my preferences was for country music of the '80s and early '90s, much of the modern rock/pop sound passing me by, but I have to say that Country Rock perfectly captures that modern style and would actually make a good commercial album in its own right. Every track has something to offer, including four vocals, "Runnin' from the Law," an uptempo mover, presumably voiced by Ronsen, an uncredited female vocal on "Good 'ta Go," plus two more Ronsen contributions - all of which could I believe hold their own in the country singles charts. Instrumental versions of these songs are also included on the disc, along with some fine instrumental tracks, like the badass "Cattle 'n' Hum," "Bang fer Bucks," with its catchy intro, the outlaw mover "Rebel Heart," the fast moving "Beat the Dutch," the hinky-tonker "Big Fiddy," the more easy-going "Unreal McCoy," the bouncy "Dixie Tease," the swaggering "Hard 'n' Fard," and "Redneck Rumble," a Dukes of Hazzard-style chase.
Country Chill by contrast, though still contemporary, is much more varied. There are some nice slow dances like "Mild Mild West," "Mustang Valley" and "Hollow Willow," some good catchy movers like "Magnificent Heaven," "Blue Grit" and "Low Noon," the sensitive, Hill Street Blues-like "All Down But Nine," the Brokeback Mountain-styled "Zone Ranger," and the down-home sound of "North Forty." Other tracks like the downbeat "Widow Maker" and threatening slide of "Tombstone Twang" are less enjoyable to listen to, but certainly atmospheric.
Incidentally, if you care to go to, you can view the lyrics to the Country Rock vocals.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

CD REVIEW - Directors Cuts: Action 3

Directors Cuts: Action 3
Music by Various Composers
Directors Cuts DCD025
16 Tracks 50:00 mins

The latest in this excellent production library music series is a third offering of tracks suitable for trailers and the like for films in the action genre. This time however, the overall feel to the album is not full-on, exciting action, though it does have its share, but rather to create a mood of tension and apprehension, largely achieved through electronics.
Featured composers are Geoff Zanelli (2 tracks), Ramin Djawadi (1), Gavin Greenaway (1) and less familiar names like Atli Orvarsson (4), Bart Hendrickson (2), Stephen Rees (2), Josh Klein (1), Oswin Mackintosh (1) and the team of Waddell/Parnell (2).
Standout tracks, for me, are the powerful "Drama King," the tense race against time "Vex Appeal," the menacing mover "Scream Play," and the Goldsmithian, piano-lead "Panic Button."
This is the first of a batch of four new CDs recently sent to me by Extreme Music. Watch out for my coverage of the others over the next few days.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Peer Raben RIP & News from Costa Communications

News has reached me of the death of German composer Peer Raben, who succumbed to cancer at the age 0f 66. Although the composer of some 90 film scores, Raben is probably best known for his work with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Just last year he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent.

From Costa Communications




(Los Angeles, CA) Composer Christopher Young has scared up a killer score for "Ghost Rider," the Columbia Pictures released based on the popular Marvel comic character. Starring Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes and Peter Fonda, this dark Super Hero actioner follows stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze who gives up his soul to become a hellblazing vigilante, to fight against power hungry Blackheart, the son of the devil himself. The film opens February 16, the same day Varese Sarabande has the score CD in stores.

Young explains. "What is unique is that unlike Superman, Spiderman or Batman, who are Super Heroes that do their work in the city, here we're talking about a character that rides around on a motorcycle. So the location had to be worked in to the score, and it had to have gothic in it because it's just a very dark storyline." Young used drums, choir, a "gigantic orchestra" and electric guitars played by two members of Nine Inch Nails. In the end, the score ended up more industrial than Western, though acoustic guitars do give a flavor of the latter. "It's an exciting score," he says. "It was unlike anything I've done."

Young's distinctive and imaginative approaches to several unusual projects have made him a highly sought-after commodity on films with unusual subject matter. He wrote an ingenious score incorporating breathing effects for the offbeat film "The Vagrant"; provided a darkly dramatic score to the Christian Slater/Kevin Bacon prison drama "Murder in the First"; and tuned in perfectly to the offbeat sensibility of the Bill Murray comedy "The Man Who Knew Too Little." His long list of works include the scores for "Hellraiser" and its sequel "Hellbound: Hellraiser II"; Norman Jewison's "Hurricane," starring Denzel Washington; plus such hits as "Runaway Jury," "The Shipping News," "The Core" and "The Grudge."

One of the most skilled of a new generation of film composers who are able to move effortlessly between hardcore melodrama and off-the-wall satire and comedy, Young next turns his attention to "Lucky You," a drama with Robert Duvall and Drew Barrymore that marks the second time Young has worked with director Curtis Hanson following their previous collaboration on "Wonder Boys." The film opens March 16.

Later in 2007, Young returns to the world of the Super Hero as he scores the much-anticipated "Spider-Man 3," once again starring Tobey Maquire and Kristen Dunst.

Friday, January 26, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Rocky- 30th Anniversary Edition & Rocky Balboa - The Best of Rocky

Rocky - 30th Anniversary Edition
Music by Bill Conti
EMI 09463-66400-2-0 (EU)
13 Tracks 31:21 mins

Rocky Balboa - The Best of Rocky
Music by Bill Conti & Various Artists
EMI 09463-76267-2-6 (EU)
18 Tracks 65:57 mins

Unlikely as it seems, Sly Stallone is back on our screens playing the character who made his career, Rocky, at the ripe old age of 59. And Bill Conti, whose music has become synonymous with the character, is back to score the film, but rather than release a soundtrack album for the film, EMI have instead put out two albums. The first, a digitally remastered reissue of the original Rocky soundtrack album, featuring Conti's splendid score, including the gold single "Gonna Fly Now," the exciting, inspirational main theme, with its great opening fanfare, plus his propulsive fight variations and tender love theme for Rocky and Adrian. In addition to providing the vocals for "Gonna Fly Now," DeLitta Little and Nelson Pigford also perform "You Take My Heart Away," giving the love theme a voice.
The second album is something of a "greatest hits" compilation, featuring tracks from Conti's scores from the series, plus mostly beat-driven and it has to be said, somewhat dated, pop songs from the films, like the classic "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, James Brown's "Living in America," and John Cafferty's "Hearts on Fire." To bring things up to date, there is "It's a Fight" by Three 6 Mafia from the new and final outing, Rocky Balboa; plus an unnecessary John X remix of "Gonna Fly Now," with dialogue and a vocal by Natalie Wilde. All this, plus key dialogue excerpts from the films interspersed. So, if you haven't got all the previously issued soundtracks from the series, this may be the one for you.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

News from Costa Communications & CD Review - Van Morrison At The Movies

From Costa Communications




(Los Angeles, CA) Aaron Zigman ,one of Hollywood's most diversified young film composers, scores "The Bridge to Terabithia" for director Gabor Csupo. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media, the same team responsible for the immensely successful "The Chronicles of Narnia," Disney releases the film to theaters nationwide February 16, the same day Hollywood Records releases Zigman's score CD.

Starring Josh Hutcherson and Anna Sophia Robb, the film tells the popular story of fifth grader Jesse Aaron's friendship with rival Leslie Burke. Aaron's hopes of becoming the fastest runner in his class are dashed when Leslie, the new girl in school, outruns everybody, including him. However, Jesse and Leslie soon begin a friendship, and discover a magical kingdom in the forest, where the two of them reign together as king and queen. The film also features Zooey Deschanel and Robert Patrick.

As a classically trained pianist, Zigman developed a strong musical foundation early in life, allowing him to work on everything from popular music to orchestral concert works. His incredible range has taken him from Industrial to Urban sounds for "Alpha Dog," from a classical score to R&B with John Legend for "Pride," as well as the epic score to "Bridge to Terabithia." He began his musical career as a producer and arranger for notable popular music stars including Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Tina Turner, Carly Simon, Christina Aguilera and Seal. His numerous symphonic pieces include a 35 minute-long tone poem divided into five movements, composed as a tribute to former Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin; and "Impressions," a suite for a wind ensemble. Zigman premiered his original concert work, "Vis Vitae," at the Third Annual Beverly Hills International Music Festival.

Expanding his repertoire to include film, Zigman began to arrange and orchestrate for features such as "Mulan," "The Birdcage," "Licensed to Kill" and "Pocahontas." His work garnered the attention of director Nick Cassavetes, for whom he completed his first feature score for "John Q.," starring Denzel Washington. The two soon collaborated again on the box-office hit "The Notebook," which the versatile composer scored in the musical style of the 1940s, performing it with vintage instruments and using period-specific recording instruments for an authentic sound.

"Terabithia" comes on the heels of a very productive year for Zigman. Zigman-scored films released in 2006 include projects as diverse as "Flicka," "ATL," "Akeelah and the Bee," "Take the Lead," "Step Up," "Alpha Dog," and "The Virgin of Juarez." Upcoming projects for the busy composer include "10th and Wolf," with Giovanni Ribisi, James Marsden and Dennis Hopper; "The Wendall Baker Story," the directorial debut of Andrew Wilson and Luke Wilson, starring their brother Owen Wilson, Eva Mendes and Eddie Griffin; and "Martian Child" with John Cusack.

Van Morrison At The Movies
EMI 00946 3 84224 2 6 (EU)
19 Tracks

I wouldn't normally cover albums like this here, but as EMI kindly sent me a copy, I thought I'd give it a listen. Of course, I'm familiar with the name Van Morrison, but I get precious little time to listen to songs and their singers, as I spend most all of my listening time reviewing film scores. So about the only songs I knew on the album are "Brown Eyed Girl," which I enjoyed in Sleeping With The Enemy, "Baby Please Don't Go," with its incredible guitar riff; and "Moondance," which I know I've heard somewhere and acually thought it was an old standard, but this, like most of the songs on this album, was in fact written by Morrison himself; and apparently most of them have been picked up for popular and critically acclaimed movies like The Departed, As Good As it Gets, The Outsiders, An American Werewolf in London, Born on the 4th of July, Good Morning Vietnam, An Officer & A Gentleman, Proof of Life,Thelma & Louise, and Bridget Jones' Diary.
I can't say I like every song here, but there's plenty of variation, from carchy, uptempo numbers to romantic ballads and these recordings certainly span the decades from the '60s to the present day. Overall, a very likeable journey through many of the best songs of Van Morrison.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

CD REVIEW - Ercole Al Centro Della Terra

Ercole Al Centro Della Terra
Music by Armando Trovajoli
Digitmovies CDDM072 (Italy)
29 Tracks 64:49 mins

The thing that immediately struck me about the music to this 1961 Mario Bava hybrid of peplum and horror, starring Reg Park, taking over from Steve Reeves in the Hercules role, and Christopher Lee as the Lord of Darkness, was how similar a lot of it is to music familiar to me from the original Star Trek TV series. Trovajoli creates an experimental, otherwordly soundscape, utilising orchestra alone, similar to how the Star Trek composers created their immortal sound - and of course this film predates Star Trek, which begs the question, were they influenced by Trovajoli's music? The film was certainly released in the States, as the poster artwork in the usual colourful accompanying booklet clearly shows, although possibly Trovajoli's score may have been replaced by an American composer as was sometimes the habit. From listening to this, it is hard to believe that they didn't hear the score and weren't duly influenced, as there are striking similiarities.
I have to say that much of the music presented here would be hard to listen to on disc, had it not been for the striking similarities to the Trek music. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a "Trekkie" or "Trekker," as I believe they would like to be known as, but I have heard enough of the music over the years to believe I know what I'm talking about.
The experimental music that dominates this disc is achieved with a mystical combination of such as strings, harp, celeste and what sounds like vibraphone, with a good few crescendos arrived at; whilst the more menacing moments are big and brassy, with rolling piano chords under, and there are also a few fanfares here and there. What little melody there is, is reserved for the brief romantic scenes, often exotic sounding with flute lead - all familiar stuff to Trek fans.
It's not all reminiscent of Star Trek though, and there's an effective churning sound achieved for scenes of conflict late on in the film, and a rather nice viola solo rises up in "Ercole e Deianira."
The score proper concludes with the gloriously triumphant "L'Amore Trionfa," but is followed with a bonus track, the intermission music, discovered with the original master tapes.
Sound is mono but pretty good nonetheless, and the aforementioned accompanying booklet also features a good many colour and black-and-white stills from the film, together with Claudio Fuiano and Tim Lucas' notes on the film and its music.
Trovajoli's music for this film will certainly be more to the taste of horror score fans than peplum followers, as there's very little of the kind of music heard in the Steve Reeves outings. And if you're a fan of the music for the original Star Trek series, this disc is a must-have.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

And the Nominees are.../CD Review - Doctor Who

Nominated for this year's music Oscar are:-

Javier Navarrete for Pan's Labyrinth
Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel
Thomas Newman for The Good German
Philip Glass for Notes on a Scandal
Alexandre desplat for the Queen

The Academy Awards Ceremony is on February 25th - watch this space!

Doctor Who
Music by Murray Gold
Silva Screen SILCD1224 (U.K.)
31 Tracks 75:26 mins

One of the events of the past couple of years has been the resurrection of the classic BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who, which has, I'm pleased to say, been embraced by a new generation of fans, and is still appealing to fans of a certain age, like myself, due to some intelligent writing and a respect for what has gone before.
An important part of the success of the series has been Murray Gold's excellent music and now Silva Screen records have acknowledged that by releasing a "best of" collection of tracks from the first two series of the show, and a real bonus is that the composer actually comments on each track in the accompanying booklet notes.
Of course the original Doctor Who theme by Ron Grainer is one of the most well-loved and recognisable of all TV sci-fi themes, but Gold has brought it up to date with the help of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, who play on most of the tracks presented here. He gives the theme a big brassy opening, but it is the driving strings that I really love. Anyway, the theme opens the album in its short TV version, but there is a fuller version to close the disc.
Along the way, there is much to enjoy. In fact, seldom do I get to listen to such a consistently good soundtrack album as this, and it's difficult to choose my favourites, but I particularly enjoyed the action cues, the pacy "Westminster Bridge," the exciting "Slitheen," the driven "Unit," the savage "Tooth and Claw," and the menacing and thrilling "The Cybermen."
The Crouch End Festival Chorus also make their presence felt on this album and particular highlights are the inspirational "Hologram," the aforementioned "Tooth and Claw," "Rose Defeats the Daleks," and the menacing, yet awe-inspiring "The Daleks.
Vocalist Melanie Pappenheim recorded three tracks for the show, the mysterious, lonely "The Doctor's Theme," the rather brief "Seeking the Doctor," and the pick of the three, "Doomsday," a hugely moving piece of pop.
Other great tracks include the quirky "Cassandra's Waltz," the poignant "Rose's Theme," and the bittersweet "Madame de Pompadour."
There are two songs included, both sung by Neil Hannon, an artist totally unfamiliar to me, and the fun "Love Don't Run," is the pick of them.
I'm delighted to say that the demand for copies of this CD greatly exceeded Silva Screen's expectations, which is why it took me a while to get hold of one to cover here, so you'd better move fast. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, January 22, 2007


Before today's CD review, I would just like to spare a moment to say how sorry I was to hear that David Wishart had sadly passed away. I first met David many years ago, even before he commenced his archival film music releases on the Cloud Nine label. He subsequently went on to work on numerous recordings for Silva Screen records, often writing the liner notes for their releases. The world of film music appreciation has lost one of its true champions.

Fur - An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
Music by Carter Burwell
Lakeshore Records LKS 338932
23 Tracks 47:22 mins

Fans of Carter Burwell's film scores will be very pleased to have this latest offering from the composer, written for a film, which I believe is something of a fantasy based on a photographer, whose name and work I am afraid I am totally ignorant of. The film does however star Nicole Kidman, so it is likely I shall see it at some point.
Burwell has written a small-scale score, only in that it is performed by a select band of musicians. In scope it is writ large, jazz tinged, but with much more to offer. Much of the music is piano lead, courtesy of Bill Mays' fine playing, and there is quite a deal of motion to it, base-driven, rhythmic and very percussive (three percussionists are credited).
Unfortunately, many of the tracks are quite brief, which makes for a fragmented listening experience and the more successful cues are the lengthier ones, where the music is allowed to develop, sometimes going through differing moods before reaching their conclusion.
The theme I most latched on to was the piano-lead jazz walker, first introduced in "Seduction." This theme is given a source-like treatment in "The Tea Party," and goes through a rhythmic, percussive development in "The Shave."
Other highlights include "Water Dream," which starts out somewhat menacing, before warming out on guitar and strings; "Stepping Out," a fine, jazzy mover; "Trap Door Party," which is busy, with a latin feel; "Transmission," which commences with suspenseful piano before blossoming airily; and "Into the Sea," which has a early warmth and an uplifting conclusion.
It's an interesting score, never dull, and very much in the composer's recognisable style, so if you're a fan of his music, what are you waiting for?
My thanks to Carter Burwell and to Stephanie Mente of Lakeshore Records for making this review possible.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

CD REVIEW - Occhio alla Penna

Occhio alla Pena
Music by Ennio Morricone
Digitmovies CDDM071 (Italy)
27 Tracks 48:03 mins

Thanks to the recent discovery of the stereo mastertapes and continuing their "musical voyage" through the films of Bud Spencer, Digitmovies are able to present here an expanded CD of maestro Morricone's score for this comedy western from 1981. The album consists of the fifteen tracks originally released, plus a further twelve, including piano source music and alternate versions of the main themes.
I used to own the original LP release but, though I loved the first seven or eight tracks on it, found it disappointingly petered out thereafter. Added to this was my prejudice at the time against comedy westerns. Thankfully, now I am much more broadminded and can therefore appreciate this score for what it is, which is a rollicking good collection of tunes, commencing with "Non Fare L'Indiano," with its choral vocal and Death Rides a Horse-like guitars. This is followed by "Estasi del Miracolo," a lovely, classical-styled flute-lead theme, with choir. "Alleluja de Buon Raccolto" is a bouncy, happy little tune, with choral allelujas breaking out as the bridge. "L'Ultima Tromba" is classic showdown music, complete with trumpet, harmonica, guitar and voices. Next up is "Sfida All'Ultima Forchetta," a comical, flute-lead mover, with snatches of the showdown music; then "Grandino e Piccolone," a laid-back, easy-going flute/synth duet. A theme that has a certain sneakiness to it, reminding me of some of the maestro's gangster movie themes, follows in "Dal Sarto;" whilst the title track follows, which is a development of "Grandino e Piccolone," a really infectious and bouncy arrangement, largely with flute lead.
Most of what follows are variations on all these themes, with a slightly uptempo variation of the showdown music in track 26 being my favourite.
The colourful accompanying booklet features plenty of stills from the film, together with Claudio Fuiano & Luca Di Silverio's notes. An interesting coda is that the latter actually appeared as a child in the film and a still from the scene identifies him.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Eragon & Charlotte's Web

Music by Patrick Doyle
RCA 88697 04850 2 (EU)
16 Tracks 55:31 mins

The first of a brace of excellent recent scores to be reviewed here today, is that by Scottish composer Patrick Doyle for the sword and sorcery adventure Eragon, and like his fine score for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Doyle has come up with another thrilling effort, wonderfully performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, at the heart of which is a strong and extrmely hummable main theme, first introduced in the opening and title track of the album. It's big and heroic and basically great stuff! And needs to be, in that it makes frequent appearances throughout the subsequent score tracks.
Within the heroic framework of the score there are more dark and menacing moments, along with some mysticism, tragedy and high emotion. "Burning Farm" is an equal mix of that menace and tragedy, whilst "Together," with its initially tender romance, with female voice, and rising passion, supplies much emotion. But it's the heroic action sequences, with the main theme prevalent in the likes of "Saphira's First Flight," "If You Were Flying," the lengthy "Battle for Varden" and the closing "Legend of Eragon" that really get the blood flowing.
The album concludes with a couple of songs. Avril Lavigne's "Keep Holding On" is actually a very enjoyable, positive rock ballad; whilst the vocal of Doyle's main theme, "Once in Every Lifetime," by Jem, would have benefitted from a more passionate performance, but the theme is strong, so it's still quite acceptable.
I have no hesitation in recommending this as one of the most enjoyable soundtrack albums you'll hear this year, as is the following.

Charlotte's Web
Music by Danny Elfman
Sony Classical 88697-02989-2 (U.S.A.)
18 Tracks 47:18 mins

Fans of earlier Elfman works in the fantasy genre, particularly Edward Scissorhands, will love this magical offering for the new live-action adaptation of this popular childrens' story.
Utilising orchestra and female choir, with piano at times prominent, the "Main Title" opens quite sprightly, building to a crescendo before poriceeding in a more laid-back nature. "The Introduction" follows, with its delightful flowing piano. Then Elfman introduces a theme that is to appear often throughout subsequent tracks. His "Lullaby" is briefly given voice by child star Dakota Fanning, before the composer lets the music flow with the aid of guitar.
Subsequent tracks cover many moods. There are low-key, almost sneaky moments, some comical antics, busy but light action sequences, charming waltz-like movements, and some great celebratory moments, with "The Word Spreads" particularly uplifting.
Elfman often lets his musicians shine, with nice solos here and there, and his use of the choir is often subtle, but telling where necessary.
The final score track, "Wilbur's Homecoming" brings together the score's main thematic material to provide a most satisfying recap, before Sarah McLachlan's lovely vocal on the ballad "Ordinary Miracle" beings the album to a close.
If you're looking for something light and charming you can't go wrong with this one, which is engaging from start to finish.

Friday, January 19, 2007

CD REVIEW - Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond
Music by James Newton Howard
Varese Sarabande VSD 6780 (EU)
24 Tracks 61:37 mins

For this adventure, set at the time of the Civil War in Sierra Leone, and starring Leonard Di Caprio, Djimon Hounsou and the ever-lovely Jennifer Connelly, James Newton Howard has written one of his most enjoyable scores for a while. Utilising full orchestra and African choir, as well as the vocal talents of Youssou N'Dour, and the Senegalise Drum Ensemble, to give his music the appropriate African feel, the score is anchored by a very hummable main theme, first introduced in the album's second track "Crossing the Bridge," with fine support from both the aforementioned N'Dour and Ensemble. It then appears in a much more laid-back, guitar-lead setting in "Archer & Solomon Hike," and then in variations throughout several more tracks, including the inspirational "I Can Carry You" and "London," in which it builds with full instrumental and vocal forces to a percussive crescendo, the track continuing trough the final score cue "Solomon Vandy, "which becomes very instrumental before the main theme returns to close proceeedings.
Along the way, there are some exciting and dramatic action sequences, often highly rhythmic and percussive, like "Village Attack" "Fall of Freetown" and "Diamond Mine Bombed;" some emotional writing in "Solomon Finds His Family," "Goodbyes" and "Your other Loves You;" and some tender romance in "Maddy & Archer" and "Thought I'd Never Call?"
The album includes three numbers by Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, Emmanuel Jal with Abdel Gadir Salim, and Bal Bureau featuring Masta Kent and Bullet Rhymes, but thankfully these are grouped together at the end, and thus take nothing away from Howard's fine score.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

CD REVIEW - Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum
Music by Alan Silvestri
Varese Sarabande VSD 6778 (EU)
35 Tracks 53:35 mins

For this Ben Stiller/Robin Williams starrer about a night caretaker having to cope with the museum exhibits coming to life, Alan Silvestri has written an appropriate mix of sneaky and full-on action cues, fully symphonic, with choral embellishments, an an adventurous main theme, that is versatile enough to be played menacing or heroic and a noble and equally heroic theme for Williams' portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt, whose statue comes to life to aid the beliguered caretaker. Fans ofSilvestri's scoring of the likes of the Back to the Future trilogy and The Mummy Returns will find his music here in similar vein.
You will notice there are a large number of tracks, some of them very brief, but often one flows into another to improve the listening experience. It is regrettable however that the fragmented nature of the score makes it difficult to latch on to anything, resulting in a functional but easily forgotten accompaniment, which I am sure works much beter on film than it does here on disc. Having said this, Silvestri completists will definitely not want to be without his latest offering.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

CD REVIEW - Apocalypto

Music by James Horner
Hollywood Records 383 8782 (EU)
14 Tracks 60:39 mins

Following his great success with the subtitled Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson looks to repeat his success with another subtitled effort, Apocalypto, which is set towards the end of the once great Mayan civilisation, and features a cast of unknown actors.
Following his alliance with John Debney on Passion, Gibson returns to his usual composer of choice, James Horner, who has written an interesting score, utilising woodwinds and percussion, as well as the voice of Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, with whom he previously worked with on The Four Feathers, although his vocals are much more subtly used this time.
Those of you used to hearing large orchestral scores from Horner may be somewhat disappointed in this effort, which alternates between atmsopheric, sombre and somewhat tragic flute, synth and vocal passages, and percussive action sequences; but there is genuine power to some of the cues like "Entering the City with a Future Foretold" and "Sacrificial Procession," and excitement in the chase music that makes up much of tracks 9 to 12. This is immediately followed by the powerful, martial opening to "Civilisations Brought by Sea, which gives a hint as to how the story will end, with Ali Khan's vocal lament alternating with bird song, New World style, in the closing "To the Forest."
Those who complain that Horner's music shows little variation from score to score should find this refreshingly different.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Congratulations go to French composer Alexandre Desplat on his triumph at the Golden Globes for his music to The Painted Veil. Already making significant inroads into Hollywood film scoring, this triumph can only further his progress.

Monday, January 15, 2007

CD REVIEW - Tom and Jerry & Tex Avery Too!

Tom and Jerry & Tex Avery Too!
Music by Scott Bradley
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.17 (U.S.A.)
Disc 1 - 12 Tracks 79:40 mins Disc 2 - 13 Tracks 79:22 mins

As a child of the '60s I was raised on Tom and Jerry cartoons and I suppose the future film music fan in me always recognised what a great contribution the music made to their hair-raising adventures, and I remember from quite a young age making a mental note that the composer was Scott Bradley, whoever he was.
Now, after all these years, FSM has done me yet another great service in releasing two lengthy discs of music not only from the T & J cartoons, but also from those Bradley scored for Tex Avery, including the canine character Droopy's adventures (I also remember some of these, though my memory is a little more foggy). And what's more, the collection is subtitled "Volume 1: The 1950s" which hopefully means more is to follow, though these recordings feature music from many of T & J's most memorable adventures, and all in great stereo sound.
Unfortunately time and other commitments prevent me from going into the great detail this release deserves, but I'm sure all the more mature among you reading this will fondly remember the M-G-M Tom and Jerry cartoons and may, like me, even remember some of their music and just how wonderful it was. Bradley, like Carl Stalling at Warners, was extremely inventive, aided by some wonderful musicians, in following the onscreen action and its many twists and turns. He was able to turn on a dime, the music flowing seemlessly from one mood to another, and again like Stalling, he utilised fragments from many well known and popular songs of the time and before, and even classical pieces, perfectly fitting them to each scenario.
Listening to these scores again, and reading Daniel Goldmark's splendid notes in the usual excellent and colourful accompanying booklet, it amazes me that Bradley was in his 40s when he first began composing for M-G-M cartoons. The energy he generates is quite astounding.
The Tex Avery cartoons are approached very much in the same way and, interestingly, his scores for these often start out with what I would describe as a first cousin to the T & J theme, which is probably almost as memorable as the famous Laurel & Hardy theme.
I cannot recommend this release highly enough - it's nothing short of a musical feast! So, what are you waiting for? - get along to and order your copy.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

CD REVIEW - Running With Scissors

Running With Scissors
Music by Various Artists
EMI 09463-71841-2-7 (EU)
13 Tracks 52:40 mins

Sony release Running With Scissors on 19th January in the U.K., a film based on the best selling memor by Augusten Burroughs, and directed by the Nip/Tuck TV show creator Ryan Murphy. Murphy has assembled quite an ensemble cast, including Annette Bening, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alec Baldwin, Joseph Fiennes, Evan Rachel Wood and Jill Clayburgh.
Already on release is the soundtrack album, which actually only features one score track by James S. Levine, whose music I am only really familiar with from the Directors Cuts library music CDs. The track "A Great Ocean Liner" is quite brief and is something of a sad, piano-lead piece.
The remainder of the disc is made up of mostly minor classics like Manfred Mann's Earth Band's "Blinded By The Light," 10cc's "The Things We Do For Love," Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets," and "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills & Nash; but there are a couple of numbers from Nat King Cole, including the major classic "Stardust." The Vince Guaraldi Trio provide an unusual, jazz version of "O Tannenbaum, and there are a couple of songs I was previously unfamiliar with, "Mr. Blue" by Catherine Feeny and Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat," which I shall be giving another spin. Overall, a nice, undemanding listen.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Nominations Roundup

Nominated for this year's Anthony Asquith Award are:-

Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel
David Arnold for Casino Royale
Henry Krieger for Dreamgirls
John Powell for Happy Feet
Alexandre Desplat for the Queen

The BAFTA Film Awards Ceremony is on February 11th.

Before that come the Golden Globes on January 15th, and the nominees are:-

Alexandre Desplat for The Painted Veil
Clint Mansell for The Fountain
Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel
Carlo Siliotto for Nomad
Hans Zimmer for The Da Vinci Code

I'll let you have the Oscar nominees as soon as they are made known to me.

Friday, January 12, 2007

CD REVIEW - Cinemusic - The Film Music of Chuck Cirino

Cinemusic - The Film Music of Chuck Cirino
Music by Chuck Cirino
BSX Records BSXCD 8824 (U.S.A.)
25 Tracks 76:42 mins

I realise some of you may not be familiar with the music of Chuck Cirino. I first came upon his work through my interest in low budget "scream queen" fare, starring the likes of Michelle Bauer, Monique Gabrielle and Brinke Stevens, continuing through erotic thrillers starring former Bond girl Tanya Roberts, and I have always been impressed by his flare for a good hummable melody. That written for Deathstalker II is a classic!
So for years I've been dreaming that some of his film music would be released on disc. Well, so far I've not been rewarded with any of the material more familiar to me from those times, but this collection, a 1000 copy limited edition from the guys at BSX is at least a start.
The majority of Cirino's music over the years has been electronically realised, and the material here is no different, so if you're not keen on electronic scoring this may not be for you. I'm usually not keen myself, but have to say that Cirino is one of the better electronic composers and there's certainly plenty I enjoy here.
The three films represented here come from recent TV projects, two from the legendary low-budget film director Jim Wynorski who, along with producer Dan Gilboy have written liner notes from this release. Wynorski's 2006 production A.I. Assault, about secret military robots running amok on an island, leads the way and is the most consistently enjoyable of the three scores presented. The opening "Robokill" develops into a propulsive theme, with the following "Main Title" a typically catchy, metallic-edged theme. "Jungle Bungle" is an exciting, propulsive action cue; whilst "Killbot" is briefly sad, before becoming a powerful, beat-driven cue. "The Tower" is a high octane action set-piece, with more exciting action to be found in "Into Oblivion." The easy mover "Home Free" concludes the score.
Winorski's 2005 production Komodo vs. Cobra follows, another cautionary tale about scientific experiments going wrong, and the "Main Title" starts light and airy, but eventually develops into a big and bad, drum-based theme. "Bora Bora" follows, an easy going, lightly tropical theme, a mood which continues in "Reasons to Die," but gradually gives way to variations on the main theme. More variations on the theme can be found in the largely mysterious and suspenseful "The Trek;"whilst "Cobra vs Cameraman" starts mysteriously, gradually building to action before ending mournfully. "The Decision" is low-key and reflective, whilst the brief but fabulous "Sleeping Giant" is right out of a spaghetti western, big and bad, with electric guitar.
"Escape from Isla Damas" is a lengthy piece, initially threatening and suspenseful, but becoming menacing with drums, before ending with a brief quote of the main theme. The closing "A New Breed" is quietly reflective.
The final score for Paul Ziller's Solar Attack, a disaster movie from 2005 about a solar storm ignited Earth's atmosphere, is something of an anti-climax, not really warming up until the last few tracks, after much ethereal sampled voices, suspense and threat in the earlier tracks. "The Sky is Falling" is the first cue to feature any sustained action; whilst "In Russia" has a powerful mid-section. "Arming Missiles" follows and is very purposeful and features a variation on the muscular main theme, previously only heard in snippets. The best cue is "Race in the Sky & Sea," a bolero-like action cue; with the closing track "Surrender" providing a calm-after-the-storm feel, with keyboard, ethereal choir and synths.
For selfish reasons I really do hope that this release is a resounding success, so that maybe consideration can be given to releasing some of the composer's more memorable earlier works.
Purchase your copy from, and for further information on the composer, visit

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

CD REVIEW - We Are Marshall

We Are Marshall
Music by Christophe Beck
Varese Sarabande 302 066 779 2 (US) VSD 6779 (EU)
20 Tracks 54:38 mins

The film tells the true story of the tragic 1970s plane crash that killed most of Marshall University's football team and the survivors' attempts to rebuild the team and take it to triumphant heights.
Christophe Beck rises to the challenge with a sensitive, proud and ultimately triumphant score, with a noble main theme, commencing with an elegiac trumpet intro; some light, tender romance; some suitably sad and sensitive material; and some downright exciting action scoring, sometimes featuring a large battery of percussion, at others utilising full orchestra with a martial beat; all building to a moving and triumphant finale.
This is yet another fine addition to the list of great sporting scores written over the years.

Monday, January 08, 2007

CD REVIEW - Happy Feet

Happy Feet
Music by John Powell
Atlantic Records (catalogue number not yet known) (U.S.A.)
29 Tracks 67:57 mins

Following the CD release of songs, plus a suite of Powell's music, from the animated triumph Happy Feet, Atlantic Records has released a generous album of the composer's incidental score for the film, and it's another winner from a man who can by now almost be called a veteran of composing for animated films.
The CD gets off to a strong start with "The Huddle," which starts out powerfully with a huge choir giving a very tribal feel, before being joined by full orchestral forces. Over the many tracks that follow, some quite brief, but others longer, Powell's music takes many twists and turns, covering the various moods and action of the story. There are tender, romantic moments for flute, harp and strings, and some adventurous and more menacing action moments, with a return to the Media Ventures sound at times. I particularly enjoyed his Zorro-like music for the Adelie penguins, all guitars, castinets etc., providing some thrilling moments. By complete contrast, the Lovelace character, voiced by Robin Williams, is accompanied by a soul-filled sound - very Barry Whiteish. Choir is used throughout, with some big, awe-filled moments on show. All in all, a very entertaining package indeed!
Working from an advance copy of the album, generously provided by Costa Communications, I have been unable to ascertain the catalogue number but, as long as you make it clear you're looking for the score album when ordering, you should have no problem.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications

Arrangement, Orchestration and Song Lion's Gate Release February 14 Atlantic Records Soundtrack January 16

(NEW ORLEANS, LA) Composer and musician Jay Weigel provides arrangement, orchestration and an original song for writer/director Tyler Perry's new film, "Daddy's Little Girls." The film is the follow-up to Perry's number one box office hits "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Madea's Family Reunion." For the film, Weigel arranges and orchestrates a new version of the classic "A Change is Gonna Come" performed on the Atlantic Records soundtrack by Charles Moore. He has also licensed the original composition "Aquarium Walk." Lion's Gate has the film in theaters February 14. Atlantic Records leads with the soundtrack January 16.

"Daddy's Little Girls" stars Gabrielle Union ("Bad Boys II," "Deliver Us From Eva") and Idris Elba ("The Gospel," "Sometimes in April") in the story of a single father, Monty (Elba), a garage mechanic who lives in a poor neighborhood and struggles to make ends meet as he raises his three young daughters on his own. The star-studded cast includes Tracee Ellis Ross and Lou Gossett, Jr.

Weigel's most recent full-length CD, "The Mass of Pope John Paul II The Great," was released by MCG Jazz to commemorate the anniversary of the Pope's inauguration. Scored for orchestra and choir, the work was commissioned by the landmark Cathedral of St. Louis King of France in New Orleans to honor the then Pope. Two weeks before its premiere, John Paul II passed away, and Weigel's "Mass" is now a memorial to the world leader and a fundraiser for the oldest existing Catholic Cathedral in continual use in the United States.

As Executive Director of the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, Weigel is leading the push for Louisiana's Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit, an incentive to bring music and business to the state. The New Orleans native, who has served as Executive Director since 1996, was contacted by Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to help conserve New Orleans' position on the national arts scene as a significant force in the production and presentation of contemporary work. In January 2006, Weigel helped facilitate the recording of the score of Tyler Perry's "Madea's Family Reunion" in New Orleans, marking the first recording session to take advantage of the credit. The latest recording to take advantage of the credit is Charles Moore's "A Change is Gonna Come" from "Daddy's Little Girls."

The city and culture of New Orleans, has flavored much of Weigel's work and purpose. He recently received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to create an oratorio "7 Days in Paradise" based on the seven days spent in New Orleans by Jeffery Cook before and after Hurricane Katrina. In addition, he completed the score for Harold Sylvester's "NOLA" and has started work on the 90 minute film documentary "Katrina's Kids." Additionally, Weigel has served on the Bring New Orleans Back Subcommittee on Culture, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu's Louisiana Rebirth Advisory Board and is a Board member of the Louisiana Cultural Foundation. This year, he started a class in film scoring for Loyola University in New Orleans.

Weigel's concert works integrate the folk and improvised music of America, and in particular, New Orleans, into a classical format. Several orchestras have commissioned Weigel to produce new works, including the New Orleans Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony and Lincoln Symphony, and in 1994 he received a major commission from the National Symphony Orchestra and Kennedy Center as the Louisiana composer whose work most reflected the state culture.

Weigel has worked in the film and television world for over 20 years. His work can be heard in feature films, documentaries, orchestrations, arrangements for major recording artists and over 300 commercials. Upcoming projects include the independent film, "Childless," which will include several of his pieces including an arrangement of a song by Nick Cave; and "Full Throttle," the upcoming film from producer Oley Sassone and Executive producer Roger Corman.

Besides working on his own scores, Weigel has worked as an orchestrator, conductor, music preparatory and contractor for both fellow New Orleanian Terence Blanchard and Chris Thomas King.

Friday, January 05, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Spy With My Face - Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movies

The Spy With My Face - Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movies
Music by Goldsmith, Stevens, Fried, Riddle and Shores
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.18 (U.S.A.)
36 Tracks 76:01 mins

After the third volume of music from the classic '60s spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. it seemed unlikely that Film Score Monthly would or even could release any more, which made me more than a little sad as a) I've always loved both the series and its music and b) among the various themes I had remembered over the years, I especially recalled a piece of music from one of the episodes made feature film One Of Our Spies Is Missing, which accompanied scenes of Ilya tracking a bugged cat through Soho, and to my great disappointment this was omitted from all of the volumes. So when I discovered the track, entitled "Cat Jam," was on this disc, you can imagine I almost jumped for joy. And there's plenty more good stuff where that came from, though it has to be said that there is some repetition, particularly in the main and end title tracks for each film, though some of these are slightly altered from their TV incarnations (all the films are basically two-part episodes of the series, put together, but often with some additions to make them that much more theatrical). Also, some of the incidental cues presented here draw on thematic material present in the first three volumes. There are however still previously unheard gems aplenty.
The disc kicks off with two tracks from the first U.N.C.L.E. film To Trap a Spy, with music by Jerry Goldsmith, these basically presenting Jerry Goldsmith's famous theme, as well as his Meet Mr. Solo. Five tracks from Morton Stevens' score for The Spy With My Face follow and range from sultry and seductive, to light and comical, to all-out, exciting action. The next two films feature music by, to me, the most consistently great U.N.C.L.E. composer, Gerald Fried, for One Spy Too Many and One of Our Spies is Missing; the five tracks from the former featuring his exciting take on Goldsmith's theme for the opening sequence, plus plenty of wide-ranging, jazz-pop music to cover the twists and turns of the plot. For the latter, the music is even better, with yet another variation on the main theme, this one over three minutes long, plus some "go-go" music, that slinky cat music I have already mentioned, and plenty of great action and chase music. There is also a track that has never previously been heard, as the scene it accompanied was cut from the film. "Hot Tie" is a fab variation on the aforementioned "go-go" theme.
Nelson Riddle only scored the one U.N.C.L.E. adventure, The Spy in The Green Hat but, having always enjoyed his jazzy sounds for the successful Batman series, I thoroughly enjoyed his similar scoring for Solo and Kuryakin, although the main and end titles were a Robert Armbruster arrangement, Fried-style, of Goldsmith's theme. There's still plenty of Riddle on display over the four incidental cues though.
Back to Gerald fried next and his score for The Karate Killers, and seven cues present yet another arrangement of Goldsmith's theme, plus plenty more catchy jazz-pop sneakiness and action.
The underrated Richard Shores provided the scores for The Helicopter Spies and How To Steal The World. A generous amount of music from the former has already been featured on Volume 2 of the series compilations, so just Goldsmith's theme, yet again arranged Fried-style, is included here. There are however a couple of Shores originals from the latter, the great action theme he wrote for the main title sequence and the brief action music from the finale.
Once again, album producer Jon Burlingame has written a splendid guide to the films and their music for the lavishly illustrated 20-page booklet that accompanies the disc.
It is with a heavy heart that I have to accept that this is now surely the final U.N.C.L.E. release, but I will be eternally grateful for the great work the folks at FSM have done in making available this great music.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

CD REVIEW - Addio Fratello Crudele

Addio Fratello Crudele
Music by Ennio Morricone
Digitmovies CDDM065 (Italy)
16 Tracks 67:38 mins

Digitmovies keeps on making those dreams come true for fans of quality Italian film scores. This time Morricone fans will be delighted with the release of an expanded Addio Fratello Crudele ("Tis Pity, She's a Whore"), the doomed historical romance from 1971.
Supervised by the composer himself, on this CD he chose to feature, all but one of the original album tracks, together with 8 that were previously unreleased, all in fine stereo sound.
Of course the most famous piece from the score is the hauntingly beautiful, but tragic love theme for "Giovanni e Annabella," which appears in variations throughout many of the tracks, even in the more "meditative" pieces, which perhaps are a little lengthy for my liking. But, besides the love theme, there are plenty more good things I do enjoy about this release, including "Soranzo," with its sunny, optimistic opening; "Il Mio Mondo con Lei era Perfetto," a low-key but lovely period sounding tune for recorder and guitar; "Sveglia nel Castello," another period cue, a flute-lead, jolly little canon; and the increasingly powerful choral requiem "Inter Mortuous Liber," that closes the disc.
As always, the colourful accompanying booklet features plenty of images and artwork from the film (with plenty of the naked Charlotte Rampling for her fans to enjoy), together with Daniel Winkler and Claudio Fuiano's notes on the production and its music.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

News of forthcoming scores from Tyler Bates and John Frizzell


Warner Bros Records Releases Tyler Bates’ 300 Soundtrack

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, 300 is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 free Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian slave army. Facing impossible odds, their valor and sacrifice ultimately inspired all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy to fight for democracy.

For this “Battle Epic” director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) engaged Tyler Bates to create a score that embodies expansive orchestral and choral themes that express a sweeping palette of color and emotion, while embracing a tonal palette unfamiliar to studio films of its nature.
In developing a sound that wouldn’t betray the Frank Miller-inspired dark and stunning backdrop, the rugged stature of the Spartans, and the threatening characters they encounter on their quest to preserve freedom and democracy, Bates chose percussion as an effective foundation for much of the score. Bates explains, “My intent was to support the physicality of the actors, while staying true to the inspiration of this film and that of the Spartans -- freedom and will.” Singer Azam Ali (Niyaz, Vas) served as both the voice of Sparta and the Persian threat. Orchestra and choir were recorded in London at Abbey Road studios, serving as the emotional canvas for the many colors and textures of Azam’s haunting voice. Bates designed score pieces to incorporate Ali’s many singing techniques in a broad range of emotions. Feeling it important to not color the story with specific words, yet to be bold and confident with voices throughout the score, Azam’s vocal melodies were written in a phonetic language, as were all the choral parts. The guitarviol, an obscure electric bowed instrument, was used to create the crude melodies and much of the score’s darker atmospheres, in addition to hand-crafted ambient sound design apparent in the music.

Bates comments, “The greatest challenge to writing and producing the music for 300, was to bead a musical thread throughout the film’s ever-changing landscape of visual art and its ominous, horrific and mystical beings, while sustaining the epic and emotional qualities from which this film was made. I had to approach it in a style as inventive as the film itself.” Warner Bros Records is distributing the score soundtrack album, comprised entirely of Bates’ music, with the film’s March 9th theatrical release.

For more information visit

From Costa Communications:-


Touchstone Release Opens Its Jaws January 12

(HOLLYWOOD, CA)- Composer John Frizzell travels across three continents to score "Primeval." Directed by Michael Katleman, the film is based on the true story of a legendary 25-foot crocodile that killed an estimated 300 people in war-torn Burundi. The film stars Gideon Emory, Brooke Langton, Orlando Jones and Dominic Purcell. Touchstone will release the film January 12.

Film composer John Frizzell traveled to Africa, where he enlisted Cape Town's finest players to create a "composing library" of over 800 sound clips, which served as the inspirational source material for the score. While recording with the Cape Town Burundian Drummers, Frizzell was amazed to learn that they had walked over two thousand miles for two years to escape Burundian violence.

Sonic samplings from these sessions include the traditional Burundian musical story-telling technique Inanga Chochotee, where a soloist plays a low pitched harp and whispers in an ominous tone. He also incorporated powerful Burundian drumming, originally used by African kings to express their sovereignty. Frizzell then fused these distinctive sounds into a more traditional orchestral score. He is currently in Prague recording with a full orchestra.

The result of Frizzell's hard work is a revolutionary hybrid score which preserves the vibrancy African music, while re-contextualizing its distinctive tunings and rhythms into a Hollywood film score.

John Frizzell has written scores for a variety of genres and has proven his musical talent, creativity and versatility. For "The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio," starring Julianne Moore, Frizzell recruited Newgrass band Nickel Creek to complement his Americana score.

John Frizzell's other credits range from comedies such as "Beavis and Butthead Do America" and the cult classic "Office Space," to the dark comedy "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" and the sci-fi drama "Alien Resurrection." Recent credits include "Gods and Generals," "Cradle 2 the Grave" and "First Born," starring Elisabeth Shue.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Music of Chicago 10

If you go to my blog of 21st December, you will find a press release from Costa Communications regarding this groundbreaking documentary film that will open this year's Sundance Film Fesitval on January 18th. They also kindly sent me an advance CD of Jeff Danna's music for the film, which plays for some 24:22 minutes over 8 untitled tracks. I have yet to hear if a commercial release is planned for the music, but on the strength of this disc it certainly deserves it.
The CD commences with a whimsical little waltz tune, whichs out rather unpromisingly with electronic brass taking the lead. Fortunately live instruments largely take over and the piece improves all the time. Thereafter the music is thankfully mostly orchestral and next up is a purposeful mover, with some very exciting moments. The next track is an expectant variation on the previous cue, followed by an almost tragic piece. An attractive, flowing piano solo is next up, followed by a fateful mover, then more suspenseful music, but again with forward motion, eventually becoming a variation on the second cue. Presumably reflecting the ending of the film, the final track is a bleak and desolate affair.
This is again another commendable effort from Jeff Danna, whose work is always of a consistently high quality. I hope that, failing a soundtrack release, we at least get the opportunity to view the documentary, which is not always the case in these days where the blockbuster action movie is still king, despite the increasing number of interesting projects being made.

Monday, January 01, 2007

CD REVIEW - Klaus Kinski Horror Trilogy + a first look at the music for Adrift in Manhattan

Klaus Kinski Horror Trilogy
Music by Berto Pisano/Stefano Liberati & Elio Maestosi
Digitmovies CDDM066(Italy)
Disc 1 - 27 Tracks 63:51 mins Disc 2 - 22 Tracks 41:38 mins

Celebrating the work of one of the most enigmatic of European actors, Klaus Kinski, Digitmovies have released this trilogy of scores on two discs.
La Morte Ha Sorriso All'Assassino, a gothic horror, with erotic elements and eye-popping (literally) shocks, from 1973 features much experimental atonal scoring, which is not very easy to listen to, but fortunately in between we have a very nice theme, which is something of a mix of romantic and melancholia, sometimes played slow, at others more uptempo, and utilising the vocal talents of Edda, as well as some bluesy flugelhorn playing. There is also a rather sunny waltz theme for guitar and strings and some source cues - a romantic piano solo and a lively tarantella. This score makes up the whole of disc one.
Disc two features two short scores by a duo of composers new to me, Stefano Liberati & Elio Maestosi, both for horror films released in 1973/4. La Mano Che Nutre La Morte takes up the first 11 tracks of the disc and starts off strongly with the rather sad strings of "Slava." The other highlight is the romantic "Il Campo dei Girasoli." It's quite a varied little score, with some gloomy, doom-laden music, some anxious moments, a spirited dance and some ethereal celesta playing.
Le Amanti Del Mostro again starts strongly with"Elegia Sulla Neve," which is quite romantic, whilst tinged with tragedy. The bittersweet strings of "Angoscia e Geiosia" follows, with the other highlight being the folksy, yet melancholy "Terra Ghiacciata." The remainder of the score is a mix of suspense, drama and a little action.
As always, a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the films, as well as notes by Pierluigi Valentini & Claudio Fuiano, accompanies the release.

If you go to my blog of 23rd December, you will see information about Adrift in Manhattan, a film which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18th, and which is an official selection in the "Dramatic Competition" there. Well, Costa Communications have kindly forwarded me an advance disc, featuring 4 tracks from the score, composed by Michael A. Levine of Cold Case fame, who, in addition to composing the music, also performs on guitar, mandolin, piano, violin and tenor violin.
The "Main Title" is a haunting, acoustic guitar-lead theme. This is followed by "The Kiss," a delicate, almost ethereal piece of romance. By contrast, "Only the President" is a propulsive effort, with the final track being the romantic ballad "Through Your Eyes," performed by oft-time Hans Zimmer assocaite Heiro Pereira, and co-written by Levine and Carolee Mann.
The film is apparently a psychological thriller, but the music presented here suggests more of a romantic drama. Whatever, it certainly ignited my interest and I hope a full soundtrack release will follow.