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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

CD REVIEW - Partition + bits & bobs

The Last Run update

Before I go anywhere, I must start by saying that I wrongly called the third score on the Last Run CD The scorpion Letters. It should have read The Scorpio Letters. Apologies to all for this. In my haste, I also forgot to include a link to the Screen Archives page, where you can find more details, clips and ultimately order the disc. It is Visit now - you know it makes sense!

Thanks also to Screen Archives for the following link to their latest release Laurel and Hardy Laughtoons Volume 1 - Check it out!

Music by Brian Tyler
Varese Sarabande VSD 6786 (EU)
26 Tracks 78:290 mins

I know very little about this film as yet, as it hasn't made our shores here in the UK, but I know it stars Jimi Mistry and Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) in a love story set at the time of the political upheaval in India following World War II.
As for the music, well, you certainly get value for money with the disc running more than 78 minutes. As one would expect there is a certain amount of Indian-styled music, utilising wordless male and female vocals, together with native instruments, most probably performed by the composer himself in most cases; but he invests some of these cues with something of a western sensibility, making them a little more accessible to western ears. Indeed, there are some lively drum-dominated pieces that are quite catchy.
But Tyler's main themes are traditional western orchestral pieces, albeit sometimes given an eastern touch in the quieter, more intimate, variations. His main theme is introduced in the title track and could be described as a cross between Out of Africa and Lawrence of Arabia - a sweeping, glorious theme. His secondary theme follows in the very next track "The crossing." It's another fine effort, with a genuinely epic feel to it. Both themes return from time to time throughout the score, sometimes in combination like the passionate "Naseem and Gian" and the excellent "End Title."
Other tracks of note are the powerful action of "Attack at the Crossing," and the celebratory music of "Naseem's Journey." This music is reprised in the warm "Tears of Joy." "Rain Dance" is another uplifting cue, quite bouncy but gradually more and more drum dominated.
Brian Tyler is fast becoming a force to be recognised.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar for Santaolalla & CD REVIEW: The Last Run

Congratulations to Gustavo Santaolalla who was awarded his second best score Oscar in a row for his music to Babel. This of course follows last year's triumph for Brokeback Mountain. Santaolalla of course also won the BAFTA recently in London.

The Last Run (plus Crosscurrent & The Scorpio Letters)
Music by Jerry Goldsmith and Dave Grusin
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.20 (USA)
34 Tracks 79:23 mins

The Last Run was a George C. Scott thriller from 1971, a pretty unremarkable film for which Jerry Goldsmith (as he so often did) provided an excellent score that was well represented on the re-recorded LP released at the time. As was often the case at the time, the album was produced in such a way as to make as rewarding a listening experience as possible, with the result that some of the cues differ somewhat from what you hear in the film. Not only this but there is actually more music on the album than in the film, including a vocal of the main theme, with lyrics by Mack David and Mike Curb, performed by Steve Lawrence
Goldsmith's score for this film has long been one of his unsung masterpieces, and a personal favourite. His lonely, fateful, but melodic main theme if often voiced by cimbalom or electric guitar, with a flowing harpsichord backing, though it is heard in a variety of arrangements throughout, all of them with something to offer. "Border crossing" is a funky piece of travel music that turns threatening at the end. "Spanish Coast" is a wonderful piece, initially for acoustic guitar, but then blossoming with orchestra. "Rickard escapes" is an exciting action cue, again with flowing harpsichord accompaniment. "Yo Te Amo" was actually written as a source piece, and very little of it is heard in the film, but here Goldsmith expands it into a lovely, lush number. "The Trap" completes the film's action sequences, commencing with flowing harpsichord again, but replaced by flute in the later stages. This is a great listen and if you haven't got the original album, or if you just want to update to CD, get a hold of your copy now.
Goldsmith strangely found film work hard to find in the early '70s and made a return to TV scoring. One such project he took on in 1971 was the thriller Crosscurrent (known in the UK as The Cable Car Murder). Not only was it a difficult time workwise, but also in his private life, with a result that his main theme for the film, a strange, rhythmic mover, is almost identical to that which he went on to compose for Escape From the Planet of the Apes. The whole score is under 12 minutes long, and this includes alternate versions of the tense action cue "Moose Chase." Throughout, Goldsmith only utilises piano, harpsichord, Yamaha organ, seven percussionists and three guitarists, but fans of the composer's unusual rhythms will find all 12 minutes riveting.
Would that the disc could have closed with more Goldsmith music for his TV assignments of this time, but instead we get Dave Grusin's score for the 1967 TV movie The Scorpion Letters, which shares the same director as Crosscurrent, Jerry Thorpe.
Grusin was writing music for The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. TV series at the time and his action music bears some resemblance for that which he wrote for the adventures of April Dancer. The score is based on two themes, the first a largely warm, romantic piece for flute; the second a propulsive theme, again flute-lead, for the film's detective hero, played by Alex Cord. These themes crop up throughout the 37-minute score, which is pretty routine and jazz-pop styled, as was the fad of the time.
As with all FSM releases, the disc is accompanied by a splendid booklet, with plenty of stills from the three productions, plus detailed notes and cue-by-cue guides courtesy of Lukas Kendall, Alexander Kaplan and Jon Burlingame.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

CD REVIEW - Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider
Music by Christopher Young
Varese Sarabande 302 066 782 2 (USA)
15 Tracks 58:36 mins

Opening in the UK on March 2nd is Columbia Pictures' live-action treatment of the Marvel comic book character Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage as the fiery, motorcycling crime fighter.
For the film, Christopher Young, a veteran of horror/thriller/fantasy scoring, has written a huge score, featuring orchestra, choir, drums and electric guitars, the latter courtesy of two members of the band Nine Inch Nails. The guitars haven't sat well with some critics, but it is a valid approach that has been used before (Kull The Conqueror) and will shortly feature again in Tyler Bates' similarly epic 300, and seems highly appropriate (we are talking about a biker hero here after all).
The album gets under way with Young's main theme, which starts out fatefully with powerful choir and then continues highly propulsively. His secondary theme is a "bad-ass" figure for drums and electric guitars, often thrown into the action mix, of which there is plenty, with "Blackheart Beat, "More Sinister Than Popcorn," and "Nebuchadnezzar Phase," being the pick. There's some powerful writing for all kinds of combinations, including some great choral work and some really barbaric brass; whilst the latter starts out with a fine dark march.
But it's not action all the way. Quieter moments are few, but telling, including the tender acoustic guitar of "A Thing For Karen Carpenter, with passionate strings joining in "Serenade to a Daredevil's Devil." And "Penance Stare," becomes almost spiritual, but has guitar embellishments, both acoustic and electric.
There is a south of the border feel to some of the music, culminating in the fabulous showdown at the start of "San Vengaza" - all strummed guitars and passionate deguello-like trumpet solo.
Young reintroduces his main theme to conclude the album in rousing fashion.
I don't expect to find any electric guitars in Young's forthcoming score for Spider-Man 3, but am looking forward to seeing how much of Danny Elfman's thematic material he adapts, alongside what I am sure will be some exciting writing of his own.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Illusionist

The llusionist
Music by Philip Glass
Ryko RCD 10884 (USA)
21 Tracks 51:22 mins

Like buses, you wait a long time for one then two come along at once, so is the case with Edward Norton films. The talented actors has been absent from our screens for a while, but all of a sudden we have The Painted Veil, followed (in the UK) on March 2nd by The Illusionist, the second period film dealing with magicians to open here in recent months. However, I believe The Ilusionist actually came out before The Prestige in the States. Delaying its release here, will I fear severely jeopardise its chances, despite many critics actually favouring it.
The music for The Illusionist was written by the inimitable Philip Glass and performed quite beautifully by the Czech Film Orchestra under the baton of Michael Riesman, and whereas David Julyan's score for The Prestige was heavy to say the least, but you generally know what you're getting with Philip Glass. He does try to follow the action a little on occasion and there is an overall feel to the the music, slightly reminiscent of the late, great Bernard Herrmann, but whether it be concert, stage or film, there is basically only one style with Philip Glass, and, having said that, you'll know therefore what to expect from this score.
Much of the music just flows along on its own sweet path, largely with a somewhat suspenseful, mysterious feel, in keeping with its subject matter. It's string-heavy, though the occasional presence of brass give it a more powerful feel. Lighter moments do appear from time to time, but these are usually quite fleeting. I do however like the composer's main theme, which opens and closes the album in style. It's a very classically-styled piece, with a striking and bold opening, and it's a pity it wasn't utilised more.
To conclude, basically one for fans of Glass' minimalist approach only.

Friday, February 23, 2007

CD REVIEW - Arthur and the Invisibles + News from Costa Communications

Arthur and the Invisibles
Music by Eric Serra
Atlantic 7567 946752 (EU
42 Tracks 78:12 mins

Quite a change of pace for director/composer team Luc Besson and Eric Serra is this part live action, part CGI childrens' adventure.
Composer Serra hasn't previously dabbled much in full symphonic scoring of films, but here he has composed a wonderful, sweeping effort, splendidly performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and Metro Voices. Geoffrey Alexander conducts and is also credited as orchestrator, and I suspect his contributions in the latter field are major.
Two splendid themes lie at the centre of Serra's score, the first a sweeping, magical theme for the "Minimoys" and their strange kingdom at the bottom of the young hero's garden; the second a noble and heroic theme for the young hero, Arthur, himself. Both themes have quite a part to play throughout the score, which also features quite a bit of light, comical writing and a good deal of powerful menace, as well as some exciting action. Orchestra and choir combine quite wonderfully throughout.
Incidentally, in case you were put off by the large number of tracks, it is true to say that many are quite brief, but the album is sequenced in such a way that many of the tracks run into one another. For instance, "The Blueberry Catapult," "Lovebirds" and "Feeding Time," make up one continuous, exciting action sequence.
There are three vocals on the album, by Jewel, Snoop Dog and Elijah, but all three open the disc and so are easily skipped.
A really enjoyable fantasy score from a surprising source.

From Costa Communications


Lionsgate Releases Film March 23, Score CD March 13

(HOLLYWOOD, CA) - Composer and producer Aaron Zigman scores "Pride" for director Sunu Gonera. Starring Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, and Tom Arnold, the film is based on the true story of inner city Philadelphia swim coach Jim Ellis. The story revolves around Ellis' fight to build a swim team in one of the city's toughest neighborhoods in the 1970s. "Pride" hits theaters March 23 through Lionsgate Entertainment with the Lionsgate soundtrack leading March 13.
In addition to providing the film's score, Zigman co-wrote the film's signature song "Dare to Dream" with R&B crooner John Legend This inspirational and melodic ballad cleverly combines Legend's smooth voice with Zigman's powerful orchestration.
As one of Hollywood's most diversified young composer, Zigman is no stranger to collaboration. He made a name for himself producing and arranging for artists such as Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, Nona Gaye, the Pointer Sisters and Christina Aguilera. Known for his command of rhythm and different styles, he developed his knack for melody into his scoring career, ranging from R&B to a classical score for "Pride"; Urban to Industrial for "Alpha Dog"; and the epic score for Disney's "Bridge to Terabithia."
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 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."
"Pride" is a clear indication of another very productive year to come 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." His latest film for the busy composer is Disney's "Bridge to Terabithia" for Gabor Csabo. Upcoming projects include "The Martian Child" with John and Joan Cusack.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Librarian

The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines
Music by Joseph LoDuca
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1054 (USA)
Disc 1 - 25 Tracks 55:21 mins Disc 2 - 19 Tracks 47:09 mins

Fairly recently, La-La Land Records released Joseph LoDuca's music for the TV mini-series Triangle, but this was not the composer's first effort for the producers of that entertainment. Prior to that he had written the score for the TNT film The Librarian: Quest For The Spear, which introduced audiences to Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle), a brilliant student kicked out of school by his professor, who believes he needs life experience. Accepting a job at the Metropolitan Public Library, Carsen finds himself protector of some of the greatest treasures in history, secretly housed in the library. When the one part of the Spear of destiny is stolen, he finds himself on a mission to track down the other two before they fall into the villains hands and disaster ensues.
This score is featured on the second disc of this 1500 copy limited edition release and introduces the adventurous main theme that is to receive a western-styled overhaul in the sequel Return To King Solomon's Mines, featured on Disc 1. Here it is introduced more in the Raiders of the Lost Ark march mode, but does receive adventrous flourishes throughout the score. In creating the score, LoDuca, as with his popular scores for the Hercules and Xena TV series, utilised orchestra, choir and electronics. I'm biased, but I find the orchestral tracks more satisfying, largely because I cannot abide electronics substituting for brass, and unfortunately LoDuca does that here at times, but even moreso in the King Solomon score. In addition to the main theme, there is a noble, heroic offshoot that features from time to time, never better than in "Flynn Prevails/Portrait," where it becomes quite elegiac. There is also a love theme, which is used sparingly, but is at its most beautiful in the shimmering "Butterflies" and flute-lead nocturne "Starry Night." The mystical elements of the story get some impressive and powerful choral treatments and there's a deal of menace, some ethnic-styled, as well as local colouring and scene setting. The one black mark (save for the electronic brass) is the apparent curse of the temp track in "Chick Fight," an electric guitar-driven piece which sails mighty close to the fabulous "Battle Without Honor or Humanity" utilised to popular effect in Kill Bill Vol.1.
LoDuca's music for Return to King Solomon's Mines, in which Carsen goes in search of the fabled mines, is basically more of the same, though, as previously mentioned, the main theme, immediately introduced in the score's "Main Title," receives a rousing, western-styled treatment in the finest Bernstein/Goldsmith traditions. "On Horses" and "The Package" see it further utilised amongst the action; whilst "Fencing" introduces a pompous march and comic variations. The composer provides the usual ethnic scene setting, with chorals and jungle rhythms and again there are some powerful, mystical moments with choir. Brief romantic interludes appear amongst all this, and the final handful of tracks go through all kinds of moods before the main theme returns to wrap things up over the "End Credits." As said before, although this score starts out predominantly orchestral, gradually the electronics become more prominent. Whether this was an artistic choice, or whether budgetry, I know not, but it does somewhat spoil my enjoyment of the score.
Accompanying the discs is an attractive and informative 12-page booklet, with plenty of colour stills from the films, plus notes by both composer and Executive ProducerDean Devlin, as well as plot synposes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness
Music by Andrea Guerra
Varese Sarabande VSD 6783 (EU)
16 Tracks 40:08 mins

I don't suppose American film music fans will have heard too much of Andrea Guerra, and in fact I was quite surprised to hear he had scored this acclaimed Will Smith film, in which the popular actor/rapper stars with his real-life son Jaden. How he came to do so, I have yet to determine but, having reviewed some of his Italian scores in the past and quite enjoyed them, I was quite looking forward to the results.
I have to say that it is again very likeable, if a little in the predictable style written by so many American composers for a film of this kind. Whether he was working to orders or whether he just felt that this was what was required, again I do not know, but it certainly won't make him stand out in the crowd, although having Smith nominated for an Oscar can only help raise the profiles of everyone involved.
The disc opens with the optimistic, easy moving "Opening," which is immediately followed by the bustling big city music of "Being Stupid." "Running" is a purposeful track, with a swinging percussion accompaniment. After all this optimisim, "Trouble at home," brings us down to earth, introducing sad material that is developed through later downbeat moments of the film and score. But it's "Possibly" that introduces the most memorable and sentimental theme. In this and subsequent tracks it is often quietly optimistic, but the final two tracks see it come into its own with the warm "Happyness," in which acoustic guitar plays its part, and "Welcome Chris," where the theme positively soars at times, befor piano brings us to gentle closure.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

CD REVIEW - Tango & Cash

Tango & Cash
Music by Harold Faltermeyer
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1052 (USA)
23 Tracks 60:28 mins

Tango & Cash was a pretty fair buddy cop movie, in the Lethal Weapon mould, from 1989. It had plenty of thrills and not a little comedy, with Sylvester Stallone as the straight man and Kurt Russell the slightly out there partner.
Musically, this was very much in the time of the beat-driven electronic era, started by the likes of Giorgio Moroder with Midnight Express. One of the chief Hollywood movers in this field was Harold Faltermeyer, who worked with Moroder before ploughing his own field, and whose oh-so-catchy theme from Beverly Hills Cop, found renewed popularity as a ring tone quite recently. That theme is undeniably an inspired piece of composition, but he was capable of more, as this score shows and his theme for Tango is also a very catchy, beat-driven mover that I hadn't realised must have been at the back of my mind somewhere all the time, as when I put this disc on I immediately recognised it and had it on my lips for the rest of the day.
The Cash theme is also quite funky, but it's the Tango theme that stands out and none more than in the opening track "Bus Chase." Cash's theme gets it's own workouts of course and none better than in "Dog Explodes." Along the way there in plenty of suspenseful writing, with the villains getting a dark and threatening motif, first heard in "Bad Goys Plot." As if the two cops weren't at odds enough as it was, Tango's sister (played by Desperate Housewives' Teri Hatcher) becomes Cash's love interest and there are two themes representing her involvement, the first, a slow, beat-driven keyboard "Love Theme;" the second, a warm keyboard theme for "Brother & Sister." In addition to the action sequences already mentioned, there is a pretty exciting 5-minute action cue "Off Road Battle" that impresses.
The disc is accompanied by 12-page booklet, a little short on artwork, but featuring a lengthy essay on the composer, the film and its music.
Fans of this entertaining movie will be pleased that at last the music is finally available in this limited edition release of 3000 units.

Monday, February 19, 2007

CD REVIEW - Spaceballs: The 19th Anniversary Edition

Spaceballs: The 19th Anniversary Edition
Music by John Morris
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1050 (USA)
45 Tracks 70:53 mins

Forget the "19th Anniversary Edition" tag, this is really the only soundtrack album to the film you need, or are likely to actually get hold of anyway, due to the rarity of the original album put out at the time of the film's release. That disc featured mainly songs placed in the film, together with the title song "Spaceballs, co-written by Mel Brooks, Jeff Pescetto and Clyde Lieberman, especially for The Spinners, a now quite dated number in the vein of "Ghostbusters." There were however three score tracks, which are here placed at the end of this disc, and which feature Morris' principal themes, his noble, adventurous "Main Title" march; the 40s/50sish lush string love theme, complete with expressive violin solo; and the two-part "Winnebago/Mega-Maid," with its exciting action first half and build to a great timpani-driven climax in the second.
This new limited edition of 3000 units properly presents Morris' full score for the 1987 spoof, principally of Star Wars, but with nods towards other genre efforts. As you can probably tell by the number of tracks listed, many of them are quite brief, which doesn't make for the most satisfying listening experience, but this is how the score was in the film, with Morris' score just pointing up the larger moments and scene changes of the film. However, after the 25 score tracks, there are included a further 17 "alternate" cues, and some of these are lengthier and prove the more satisfying tracks on the disc, with multiple takes on the love theme, including dance-band style arrangements and several versions of the great main theme, all without the irritating laser effects present in the version that opens the disc.
Accompanying the CD is a colourful 8-page booklet, with numerous stills from the film and Dan Goldwasser's notes, which include interview extracts with Brooks.
John Morris' score for Spaceballs is firmly in the Elmer Bernstein school of comedy scoring, a largely serious and overblown orchestral effort that has strong themes and is a joy to listen to, so grab your copy of this disc before they are all gone.
Keep up with all the latest release news from La-a Land Records by visiting their website at

Sunday, February 18, 2007

CD REVIEW - Miss Potter

Miss Potter
Music by Nigel Westlake with additional music by Rachel Portman
Dramatico DRAMCD0024 (EU)
15 Tracks 42:33 mins

So far as I can see this is a biopic of the famous childrens' author/illustrator, with fantasy elements (her drawings come alive) and stars Rene Zellweger, once more putting on her best English accent, together with Ewan McGregor as her love interest.
The majority of the score is by Australian composer Nigel Westlake, with three additional tracks from the pen of English composer Rachel Portman. Just why this is I have been unable to ascertain and, whilst both composers' music combine pretty well, there are obvious stylistic differences.
Obviously Westlake's music spans much of the film and it is mostly suitably light and magical, particularly early on, with a quite charming and catchy main theme, which is always welcome when introduced within the score, finally being turned into a song at the end of the disc, with Mike Batt and Richard Maltby Jr providing the lyrics. Unfortunately however, the choice of Katie Melua to perform it is a wrong one as the song obviously doesn't suit her, and she struggles with it from start to finish. I would love to hear it performed by somebody more suited to it.
I am not familiar with the intricacies of the film's plot, but would imagine Miss Potter has a failed romance, descending into gloom as a result. Westlake and Portman's music reflect this in the desolate "Return to London" and the initial sadness and then anxiety of "Beatrix Locks Herself Away." However sunlight peeps through in "Recovery" and then the hopeful "I'm Painting Again."
Apart from "Beatrix Locks Herself Away," Portman's other two cues are quite similar in construction, opening tentatively before bursting forth and flowing to a conclusion, in her own inimitable style.
A very pleasant listening experience overall then, but I'd like to know why it was necessary to employ two composers, when either seem perfectly capable of writing this score.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

CD REVIEW - Perfume & News from Costa Communications

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Music by Tom Tykwer & Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil
EMI Classics 0946 3 69535 2 6 (EU)
18 Tracks 70:03 mins

I have to agree with fellow film music scribe Jeff Bond, who I believe picked this as his score of the year. I certainly haven't heard one better, and was enthralled from start to finish of this lengthy album. I now can't wait to see the film, where I hear the music is equally brilliant in combination with the visuals.
Perfume is an extremely popular novel in Europe, Australia and Japan and was long thought unfilmable, but from all accounts German director Tykwer has succeeded and the music is an important element in that success, for how does one approach a film where the sense of smell is key? Well, as the director explains in the notes (in three languages) in the colourful accompanying booklet "the analogy with music, also stressed in the novel, positively leaps out at us because the entire vocabulary of perfumery derives ultimately from music theory. In the perfume business, you also talk about chords and notes."
The film deals with very dark subject matter, a young man with an extremely keen sense of smell, who goes around in 18th century Paris, killing young virginal women for their scent, but the music is in fact largely quite magical and beautiful, wonderfully brought to life by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker, the State Choir Latvia and various sopranos, for the reason that it actually follows the protagonist's point of view.
Tykwere obviously placed a huge amount of importance on the music, composing themes as he worked on the screenplay and bringing in his musical collaborators of choice very early on the project. So early in fact that the first demo was recorded way back in 2004, and subsequent demos were then produced and used on set to help with performances.
What amazed me was that, not that I am overly familiar with their work (though I did find Run, Lola, Run effective), the composers, with and without the director's input, have previously been known for their electronic and/or ambient music, and this is splendidly symphonic. I could find no credit for an orchestrator on the album, but one was admittedly used, and one has to wonder the extent of his contribution.
Whatever, this is magnificent music; haunting, magical and quite beautiful for the most part, though there are more dramatic and powerful moments. Overall, it is melodic, a rarity in these days of functional film scoring. I cannot single out favourite cues, because every one has something to offer. It's just stunning music from start to finish!

From Costa Communications

JOHN FRIZZELL SCORES "THE REAPING" 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.

Friday, February 16, 2007

CD REVIEW - Sesso Matto

Sesso Matto
Music by Armando Trovaioli
Beat Records CDCR 72-DLX SERIE (Italy)
41 Tracks 77:02 mins

This latest deluxe release from Beat Records features Armando Trovaioli's highly melodic score for the 1973 sex comedy Sesso Matto, which starred the luscious Laura Antonelli and Giancarlo Giannini and featured the two playing different roles in a series of episodes illustrating a paticular sexual deviation. I've long been an admirer of Ms Antonelli's charms, ever since I first spied her in a sex comedy broadcast on BBC 2 in the days when the channel regularly showed continental films, and am delighted that the splendidly colourful accompanying booklet accompanying this CD carries so many images of her (it also features informative notes on the music and the film in Italian, English and Japanese). I just wish I could one day see the film.
In the meantime, at least there is the score to listen to, music that was originally released by Beat Records at the time of the film's release, but of course those were the days when LPs only ran around 30 minutes. Due to the tremendous popularity of the music in Japan, the LP was eventually re-released on CD, but now, as part of the label's 40th anniversary celebrations, we have this much expanded CD, which plays for close on 80 minutes, and features not only many more score tracks previously unreleased, but alternate takes as well. And a special mention must go to sound engineer Enrico De Gemini, who had the difficult task of restoring and remixing the music from the original studio multi-channel masters.
The music for Sesso Matto comes from a very different time. Nowadays, most film scores seem to closely follow the action and what melodies are present are seldom allowed to breathe for very long. Often film scores in the 60s and 70s, rather than follow every twist and turn of the plot, strove to create a melodic mood for each scenario. This is such a score, filled to the brim with catchy melodies of all kinds of styles and tempos, some pure dance floor, often with a latin feel, some jazzy or bluesy, and some downright quirky. In addition, there are a number of vocals throughout, the male honours being taken by Sir Albert Douglas (a pseudonym surely?), with the great Edda Dell'Orso here getting a rare chance to actually sing lyrics, instead of using her voice as another instrument of the orchestra. Of course she does do a little of this also, in the infectious main theme, where her vocals are quite erotically charged.
Summing it up, this album makes for a delightful listening experience, suitable for relaxation or for giving one a lift as background to some routine tasking. Melody rules!
Go to the Beat Records website at for details of their future releases, some of which are detailed in this CD's booklet and include works by Trovaioli, Micalizzi and De Masi. Looks like plenty more fine film music of days gone by to look forward to.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Awards for Williams and Newman and CD REVIEW; Code Name: The Cleaner

Congratulations to John Williams, who received a nice birthday present, a pair of Grammys for Best Score Album for Memoirs of a Geisha and Best Instrumental Composition for "A Prayer For Peace" from Munich.

Randy Newman has also been honoured, winning in the Music in an Animated Feature Production category of the 34th Annual Annie Awards for his work on Cars.

Code Name: The Cleaner
Music by George S. Clinton
Varese Sarabande VSD 6785 (EU)
10 Tracks 42:24 mins

This vehicle for Cedric The Entertainer, finds him as an amnesiac who may or may not be an undercover operative. The film also stars NicolletteSheridan from desperate Housewives and Lucy Liu.
Clinton's score is largely based around a sneaky theme that moves along to a rhythmic techno undercurrent, with occasional whimsical woodwind embellishments. There are occasional bursts of action to keep one from totally nodding off through all this sneakiness and suspense, and some powerful Oriental drumming, with mysterious flute flourishes, possibly representing the Lucy Liu character.
The most enjoyable cue is "Dutch Dance," an accordion-lead oompah number, which finds itself competing with the techno rhythms as it proceeds to its climax. "Jake and Gina" is also notable for its cool walking groove.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

News, News & Yet More News

From Costa Communications


Universal Pictures Releases Feb. 16 Varese Sarabande Releases Score Feb. 27

(Los Angeles, CA) Grammy nominated for his score to the hit comedy "Little Miss Sunshine," composer Mychael Danna turns serious with the score to the dramatic thriller, "Breach," for director Billy Ray with whom Danna previously worked on "Shattered Glass." The award-winning composer sets the tone for the drama with a mysterious and beautiful score for piano and strings. Starring Ryan Philippe, Chris Cooper and Laura Linney, the film inspired by true events will be released by Universal Pictures February 16. Varese Sarabande releases the score CD February 27.

The dramatic and emotional score was recorded with the 45-piece Hollywood Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Dodd. Well known for his expertise of combining non-Western sound sources with orchestral and electronic minimalism in film music, the music is used here, according to director Billy Ray, "to underline the tragedy of Robert Hanssen, score the journey of Eric O'Neill, and score the tension of the chase between them. Mychael hooked into all three elements immediately and knocked it out of the park."

Danna began his film music career with the score for Atom Egoyan's "Family Viewing" in 1987, for which he Danna won a Canadian film award, an award for which he has now been nominated eleven times. He has earned a reputation for skillfully blending ethnic influences into the body of contemporary film scoring aesthetics, which led him to work with acclaimed directors such as Ang Lee, Scott Hicks, Gilles MacKinnon, Mira Nair, James Mangold and Joel Schumacher.

Danna studied music composition at the University of Toronto, winning the Glenn Gould Composition Scholarship in 1985. He also served for five years as composer-in-residence at the McLaughlin Planetarium in Toronto from 1987 to 1992.

Danna has proven his versatility from scoring Moroccan music in "8MM" to American Civil War-era sounds in "Ride With the Devil," and he infused medieval European and Persian music into the score for "The Sweet Hereafter." He has scored each of the eight movies by director Atom Egoyan, including "Where The Truth Lies", "Arafat", "Felicia's Journey", "Exotica", "The Adjuster", and "Speaking Parts."

Widely recognized for his work, Danna most recently received a Grammy nomination for his score to "Little Miss Sunshine." In addition, he scored the Oscar-winning "Capote," "The Nativity Story" for director Catherine Hardwicke, "Black" for director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and, with his brother Jeff Danna, "Tideland" for director Terry Gilliam. He next turns his talents to "Surf's Up," a behind-the-scenes look at the Penguin World Surfing Championship.


Hollywood Arts Dream Awards to Honor Tommy Tallarico Feb 17

On Saturday, February 17th, Hollywood Arts will host the Dream Awards honoring the art of video games and top video game composer Tommy Tallarico. Proceeds from the event, which will be held at Raleigh Studios, will be donated to Hollywood Arts to complete the renovation of a full service art and media center located on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue in Hollywood.

Hollywood Arts reaches homeless and at-risk teenagers through video-gaming, music, movies, writing, fashion, hair, makeup and animation, giving them artistic training and a chance to improve their self-esteem; heal trauma; create a new community of supportive friends and mentors; and learn critical life and job-readiness skills to transition them off the streets and into jobs in the creative industries. It is one of the first organizations to recognize video games as an art form.

"It was important for us to build relationships with the video gaming community," said Dylan Kendall, Executive Director of Hollywood Arts. "Our students gravitate to games. We recognize gaming can work as a learning activity. Video games can be used to promote emotional health and serve as an important vehicle to teach our students critical life and job-readiness skills."
Hollywood Arts approached Tommy Tallarico after learning he had a personal experience, giving him insight to the challenges its young students face.

"I understand how important the organization's work is," said Tommy Tallarico. "This is an opportunity for the video gaming community to showcase creativity and promote the value video gaming provides young people."

The dinner and award ceremony will feature several highlights, including COS Players, actors who dress as players of the games; the Hollywood Studio Symphony, a 36-piece orchestra performing video gaming music; Video Game Cabinets where guests can play their favorite game; and an auction. Anticipated auction items include, but are not limited to, an audio cameo in the popular game HALO 3, a master chief statue, one year supply of Paul Mitchell, a tour of the Bungie Studios and signed video game paraphernalia of games such as Guitar Hero 2 and by artists such as Yugi Naki, creator of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Andrew Apfelberg, a partner at Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff Incorporated, plays a lead role for Hollywood Arts. While Apfelberg remains extremely busy with his law practice, he finds time to work with the organization, where he serves on its Board of Directors. Not only is he passionate about Hollywood Arts' cause, but he also has a strong personal interest and client base in the digital content arena.

"There is something about the arts - video games, music, acting, etc. - that motivate at-risk and homeless teenagers to aspire to achieve greatness," said Apfelberg. "Witnessing their successes is both inspiring and fulfilling."

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit or call 323.656.5274.

The above is published by way of an introduction to Film Music Weekly, a new electronic newsletter published by Film Music Magazine's Mark Northam. Go to to subscribe for free to this weekly electronic publication, which is edited by Mikael Carlsson and appears on the Monday of each week. Each issue features plenty of breaking news, a CD review and feature (with interview) on a current score, plus a checklist of composers' forthcoming assignments. It's a must-have for all film music fans and, in addition, it seems you will receive e-mails with news like the above. What are you waiting for?



For more detailed information, click on this URL

Monday, February 12, 2007

BAFTA win for Gustavo Santaolalla & CD REVIEW - Robin Hood

Many congratulations to Gustavo Santaolalla on his triumph for his score to Babel at last night's BAFTA Film Awards. I must admit he wouldn't have been my choice, but nevertheless he was very gracious in his acceptance of the Award, which was actually televised as part of the proceedings this year, instead of being tacked on at the end of the programme, so well done, the BBC for that.
Although this year's Awards were at the glamorous Royal Opera House, the ceremony was noticeably short on Hollywood big names and a number of winners failed to collect their awards. Former presenter Stephen Fry was also sadly missed, with Jonathan Ross' attempts at humour sinking like a lead balloon. Shame, because I have a lot of time for Jonathan.

Robin Hood
Music by Andy Price
EMI 0946 3 81029 2 2 (EU)
34 Tracks 57:08 mins

Those of you who enjoyed the BBC's reimagining of the Robin Hood legend might like to pick up a copy of this album of highlights from the series, composed by Andy Price, a new name to me. Personally, I never did get into the show, as I didn't like the liberties taken with the legends, nor some of the casting, but I was interested to hear what kind of job Price did with the music, especially as it was a full symphonic score, played by the Danubia Symphony Orchestra.
Well, as you can probably gather by the number of tracks, most of them are quite brief at 2 minutes or under, which doesn't help one get into the score, but a show of such limited timespan doesn't really afford much opportunity for great musical development. And I can conclude by the overwhelming tragedy and melancholia exhibited in the score that it must have been quite a gloomy affair. Even the love theme is quite melancholy and seldom reaches any romantic heights, whilst there is much more in the way of heartbreaking string variations on the theme.
Also, there is quite a dark undercurrent, with some sinister and downright manacing moments, and a good deal of tragedy, although there is a light, comical touch to a number of cues. The main theme, that opens and closes the album, is the highspot of the score, a fine, adventurous piece that crops up in variations throughout, but is always at its best when heroically leading the exciting action music that crops up now and then.
Let's hope series two (if this is indeed on the cards) provides the opportunity for more uplifting music than is displayed here, though I would certainly recommend this album to fans of the series and to those who like symphonic scoring in general, and particularly a good, rousing main theme.
In the meantime, for those of you who, like me, may not be familiar with the work of Andy Price, I've managed to track down some facts. Price graduated from Bristol University in 1990 and has since busied himself writing for TV, theatre, radio and advertising. In1991 he became composer-in-residence for theatre company The Engine Room and the same year won the London Charrington fringe Theatre Award for Best Score for Needs Must. He has since scored more than 25 theatrical production up and down the country.
For radio he wrote Ghost Sonata for BBC Radio 3 and won a Sony Radio Award for his On Air Branding for BBC Radio Wales.
Price has scored more than 50 TV productions and was BAFTA nominated for his score for Elizabeth in 2000. He is currently composer for the popular BBC TV series The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.
In advertising, he has been involved for 7 years with the multi award winning Chevron/Techron company in the U.S.
As well as all this, Andy Price still manages to find time to be a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Music.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


A belated happy birthday to John Williams, who was 75 this week. After a quiet time recently, in terms of film scoring, let's hope the great man's music returns to our screens sometime soon.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Fountain

The Fountain
Music by Clint Mansell
Nonesuch 79901-2 (US)
10 Tracks 46:20 mins

One of the most memorable blends of vision and music were achieved by director Darrne Aronofsky and composer Clint Mansell for Requiem for a Dream. Mansell enlisted the services of the Kronos Quartet for that score and he again calls on them for his latest collaboration with Aronofsky on the fantasy The Fountain, a film starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, who play characters in three different time periods.
Mansell went away from his usual minimalistic style for Sahara, but he returns to the form for this score, also calling on the services of Glasgow band Mogwai, famed for their guitar heavy approach, and also utilising choir quite subtly here and there. I'll obviously reserve my judgment on the success of these collabrations upon the film itself, as I haven't seen it as yet, but it makes for a fine, if somewhat repetitive listening experience on album, but then this is to be expected if you are familiar with past Mansell works and if you also appreciate the film scores of the likes of Philip Glass.
It's difficult to choose my best tracks, as they often flow easily from one to another, but I found the linking cues "Holy Dread!" and "Tree of Life" quite powerful in their closing/opening intensity, and "Death is the Road to Awe" is by far the single most powerful rendering of Mansell's main thematic material. Although piano does feature alongside the guitars and string work throughout the score, the final track "Together We Will Live Forever" is quite out of character with what has gone before, not in terms of thematic material, as it doesn't stray far from the main theme, but in the fact that it purely features piano, which makes the ending of the album all the more impactful for it.
Requiem for a Dream will I suspect always be my favourite Aronofsky/Mansell collaboration, but The Fountain, based on the album alone, is not too far behind, and I am eager to see the film itself.

Friday, February 09, 2007

CD REVIEWS - William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet & Jump In plus news from Costa Communications

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet
Music by Craig Armstrong & Various Artists
Capitol 09463-86323-2-0 (EU)
18 Tracks (5 previously unreleased on original album)

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of Baz Luhrmann's stylish film, Capitol Records has released an expanded edition of the original soundtrack album, with the new tracks being a brand new remix of Luhrmann's "Everybody's Free" by Quindo Tarver, as well as the same artist's version of "When Doves Cry" as it was performed in the film. There is also the ballroom version of "Young Hearts Run Free," and two score tracks by Craig Armstrong, "Introduction to Romeo" and the love theme "Kissing You," featuring Des'ree. Although a Volume 2 was put out at the time of the film's release, which featured more of the underscore, some of this was obscured by dialogue, and it would be nice one day to have a proper release of the score only - we can but dream!

Jump In
Music by Various Artists
Walt Disney Records 388 6742 (physical) or 388 6745 (digital) (EU)
13 Tracks

On 26th February, Walt Disney Records will release the soundtrack album to the new Disney Channel Original movie Jump In, whcih is scheduled to air in the UK at the end of April.
Looking to cash in on the success of their big hit High School Movie, one of the stars of that film, Corbin Bleu takes the lead here, along with Keke Palmer, from Akeelah and the Bee.
The album has already enjoyed much success in the States, debuting at number 5 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, jumping to number 3 the week after, and debuting at number 1 on the US Digital Album charts.
The album features 13 numbers from the film, performed by Bleu and Palmer, along with NLT, T-Squad, Sebastian Mego, Jordan Pruitt, Jupiter Rising, Drew Seeley, Prima J, Jeannie Ortega, Josh AKA J McCoy and Kyle - none of which mean the slightest to me, but if you are familiar with any of them, you may wish to grab a copy of the album, or just to know it's out there, should you want it having seen the film in April. In the meantime, you may like to visit the website at www.disneychannel/jumpin!

From Costa Communications


Critic's Favorite Comes to DVD

(Hollywood, CA): Composer/pianist Starr Parodi provides the score to the 2006 critically acclaimed film "Conversations With Other Women," newly released to DVD. "Conversations With Other Women," starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart, tells the compelling story of a couple whose reunion at a wedding reception ignites a mysterious attraction for each other that is deeper and more emotionally perilous than they are actually willing to admit. The film is currently available on DVD through Hart Sharp Video.

The soundtrack for "Conversations With Other Women" features 11 original songs by Parodi and her writing partner and husband Jeff Fair. Their track "Last Dance" is a moody and elegant jazz ballad. Beginning with an emotional piano solo, the piece transforms into a strong melodic guitar and trumpet duo over a silky rhythm section. The track "Another Time" features a beautiful acoustic guitar picking pattern and sets a beautiful and melancholy mood for an instrumental pop ballad.

Recognized as the talented, funky, multi-keyboardist who appeared nightly on the groundbreaking late night hit, "The Arsenio Hall Show," Parodi has just released the critically acclaimed CD, "Common Places." Called one of the best albums of the year," by NPR's Chris Douridas, Parodi draws inspiration from her 1928 Steinway grand piano that once adorned the legendary MGM sound stage in its most glorious era and was used on such classic films as "The Wizard of Oz." This latest release from the celebrated musician echoes with cinematic, neoclassical, Americana and gospel themes, all played as "stream of conciousness" improvisations.

Parodi has established a reputation as a leading film and TV composer. Her other recent projects include the scores for "High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story," with Michael Imperioli and the hit Lifetime Show "The Division." Her music has been included in movie trailers for many of Hollywood's biggest films including the recent hits "Casino Royale," "X-Men: The Last Stand," "Mission Impossible 2," "A Good Year" and "United 93" among others.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

CD REVIEW - Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days
Music by Victor Young
Hit Parade Records 13502 (Canada)
23 Tracks 71:59 mins

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the film's release, enterprising Canadian label Hit Parade Records has released a well-overdue expanded release of Victor Young's Oscar-winning score for Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, which starred David Niven as Phileas Fogg, with Mexican comedian Cantinflas as the comic sidekick and Shirley MacLaine as the love interest, with Robert Newton as Fogg's pursuer, and a host of stars in brief cameos.
This deluxe edition CD, digitally remastered in excellent stereo sound, expands the previous album release by some 30 minutes, adding some excellent previously unreleased gems, like the bouncy, Spanish-styled "Passepartout Dances," and the western-styled themes of "Transcontinental Railway," and "Sioux Attack," including cliched drum-lead, powerful brass sounds for the Native Americans (of course Young was already a veteran scorer of western films, including the classic John Ford/John Wayne wesern Rio Grande, and he of course wrote one of the best-loved western themes ever for Shane).
But it is of course the wonderful main theme that Young wrote for the film that dominates the album, making many welcome appearances throughout , as does the catchy comical theme he wrote for Passepartout. He also wrote more splendid Spanish music for "Invitation to a Bull Fight/Entrance of the Bull March" and another lovely theme, which is almost as good as his main theme, for "India Countryside."
But Fogg's many travels take him to a whole range of countries, and the localities are appropriately represented in Young's musical stylings - and just so we are reminded that the film is overall a light-hearted affair, the composer also includes fragments of well-known tunes, like the French dance "Maxixe," "Yankee Doodle," "Rule Britannia," "La Cucaracha" and even the "William Tell Overture."
This really is a delightful score which every film music fan should have in their collection, and even if you already own the original album, I would highly recommend you replace it with a copy of this CD, as there is so much splendid new material on display, and the disc comes with a fine 20-page booklet, featuring colour stills from the film, together with Didier C. Deutsch's notes on the film, its music, its producer Mike Todd and of course composer Victor Young. The sad thing is that neither Todd or Young lived long enough to enjoy the great success the film brought to them. Todd perished in a plane crash just a year after the film took five Oscars at the 1957 Academy Awards, whilst Young died of a heart attack in 1956, prior to the Ceremony where he posthumously received his one and only Oscar, having been previously nominated on more than 20 occasions. The film however, and this CD, serve as fitting tributes to both of them.
The album should be available in U.K. outlets after 1st March, but in the meantime visit for further details of this, plus the label's other Victor Young album Cinema Rhapsodies: The Musical Genius of Victor Young, described as "the first-ever U.S. collection of Victory Young & His Orchestra performing 22 of his best-known compositions and cover versions." All the favourites by the great tunesmith are here: "The High And The Mighty," "The Call of the Far-Away Hills," "My Foolish Heart," "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Stella By Starlight."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Good German

The Good German
Music by Thomas Newman
Varese Sarabande VSD 6781
29 Tracks 44:42 mins

Much has been said about Thomas Newman's Oscar-nominated score being a throwback to the days of his father's glory years, and from what I've read ( I have yet to see the film) the film is shot in a way that evokes the Hollywood films of that era. It is certainly true to say that this is not the kind of score Newman has become more famous for in recent years. It's gloriously orchestral and though strings are used heavily, the score doesn't so much remind me of his father's writing (and who could match the string sound Alfred Newman drew from his orchestra of the time anyway?), but more of the work of Bernard Herrmann, particularly in the powerful brass and dark woodwind writing. Having said this, there are, here and there, familiar Thomas Newman touches - and what also remains the same is the number of tracks, signifying that many of them are, as usual, very brief - the longest being only 2:49.
So what of the score, well it has received plenty of critical praise, along with its Oscar nod, but I'm afraid it doesn't do a lot for me. Maybe it will, when I have finally caught up with the film, but for now I find it a difficult listening experience, much of the music being dark, mysterious and suspenseful, with just a few moments of frantic string writing and menacing brass to get the blood pumping, plus some delicate harp playing here and there and romantic violin solos promising but ultimately failing to deliver anything substantial, owing to the brevity of the tracks.
In conclusion then, as with the Black Book album, nothing really memorable about the score, but I really need to see the film to judge its effectiveness.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

CD REVIEW - Primeval

Music by John Frizzell
Advance Score CD
18 Tracks 31:20 mins

Not to be confused with the ITV series of the same name, which debuts on British TV this coming Saturday, Frizzell's music is for Michael Katleman's feature, released by Touchstone in the U.S.A. on January 12th, which is based on the true story of a giant crocodile that killed hundreds of people in war-torn Burundi.
Frizzell travelled to South Africa, where he utilised Cape Town's finest to assemble a library of over 800 sound clips, which served as source music. Some of this can be heard in the score selections present on the advance disc kindly supplied by Costa Communications, particularly the powerful Burundian drumming, heard in "Shaman's Blessing." And African choral music can be heard in "Happy Village,"as well as a subtle vocal on the concluding "Flying Home."
The majority of the score, the orchestra for which was recorded in Prague, is suspenseful and quite eerie at times, though there are suitably menacing moments, and exciting action cues late on, the driven "Lekker Fish," "I Hate Africa" and "Mr. T vs. Mr. Man," which are rhythmic and percussive. Electronics also make their presence felt in "Matt Gets Killed."
There is unfortunately at this time no word as to whether a commercial soundtrack album will be released, but it is to be hoped that one will be forthcoming.

Monday, February 05, 2007

CD REVIEW - Black Book

Black Book
Music by Anne Dudley
Milan 399051-2 (EU)
23 Tracks 55:50 mins

After the not entirely deserved savaging director Paul Verhoeven got for his last American picture Showgirls, it has taken him a while to lick his wounds and return to the fray. He has however always been an interesting and entertaining filmaker and I for one am glad to see him return to form with this World War II drama, filmed and released in his native Holland.
Of course his regular American composer collaborators, Jerry Goldsmith and Basil Poledouris are sadly no longer with us, so he would have had to choose a new composer, regardless of whether his film was American or European in origin. He chose British composer Anne Dudley.
The album starts off with four songs, very much of the period, one in English, the other three in German, and all performed by Carice Van Houten. Only then does Dudley's orchestral score kick in, commencing with "Rachel's Theme," which has a somewhat lonely feel, with an underlying tragedy to it. Following the main character through her dangerous adventures, working undercover for the Dutch Resistance, the theme crops up, sometimes quite dramatically on strings, throughout the subsequent score. Unfortunately, the theme is never really developed to its fullest and therefore doesn't linger long in the brain. Indeed, this is one of those functional, yet I am sure effective, scores that doesn't draw attention to itself and therefore fails to hold the interest on disc. Yes, it has some menacing and dramatic moments, but these are seldom sustained for very long. I haven't yet seen the film, and feel this is one of those scores that will only be fully appreciated having done so.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Science of Sleep

The Science of Sleep
Music by Jean-Michel Bernard & Various Artists
Source etc 0944637092224 (EU)
26 Tracks 49:07 mins

Michel Gondry's surreal romantic fantasy The Science of Sleep, stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and features a score by Jean-Michel Bernard, who has composed and produced numerous film and TV scores, collaborating with the likes of Claude Bolling, Lalo Schifrin and Ennio Morricone along the way. He was also a member of the Ray Charles Quartet, performing the B3 Hammond organ. It is therefore not suprising to hear the instrument featured in this score. The instrument was a staple of the '60s film scene, featuring on many Italian scores in particular, but it is not heard that often these days.
This soundtrack album is something of a mixed bag, featuring selections from the score, some with full orchestra, others more keyboard-based, together with narration and dialogue from the film and songs from such diverse artists as Dick Annegarn, Willowz, Linda Serbu, Kool & The Gang and an ensemble piece "If You Rescue Me" by Bernal, Alain Chabat, Aurelia Petit and Sacha Bourdo. The album concludes with a vocal of Bernard's drifting main theme, by Kimiko Ono.
As a sound souvenir of the film, the album works fine, though why you wouldn't prefer to wait and have the actual film on DVD, I don't know, but for score enthusiasts, it is yet another disatisfying album, with the score seldom allowed to breathe on its own. Said score is mostly light and somewhat trippy, with acoustic guitar and Hammond featuring prominently. Some cues are quite sneaky, and mysterious, with a little menace here and there. Quite a surreal accompaniment, rather like the film itself.
The accompanying booklet is quite attractive, with many stills from the film.
The Science of Sleep is released in the U.K. on 16th February, with the soundtrack album just preceding it on 12th February.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

CD REVIEW - Freedom Writers & News fromCosta Communications

Freedom Writers
Music by Mark Isham and Various Artists
Hollywood 386 1552 (EU)
15 Tracks (3 only score)

For this film, based on the true life story of teacher Erin Gruwell, Hollywood Records has released an album filled with songs from hip-hop artists past and present, with just three tracks of Mark Isham's score bringing up the rear, and one of these, "Riots," is a beat-driven collaboration with Will-i-am. The other two are "Eva's Theme, which moves along nicely after a delicate guitar opening, and the sensitive piano and strings of "Anne Frank." In all, just over 5 minutes of score conclude the album.
The songs are performed by the aforementioned Will-i-am, Common Feat, Talib Kewli, Jeannie Ortega, Cypress Hill, Naughty By Nature, 2 Pac, Gang Starr, Digable Planets, The Pharcyde, and Montell Jordan.
The album will be released on February 26th, just ahead of the UK release of the film on 2nd March.

From Costa Communications


Awards Presented February 24

(Paris, France) Film composer Mark Snow has been nominated for a César Award, the main national film award in France, for Best Music Written for a Film for "Coeurs" (International Title: "Private Fears in Public Places").

Snow is the only American composer nominated in the category. "Coeurs,"adapted from an award-winning play, offers a darkly comedic glimpse into the lives of six lonely characters and the strange circumstances that connect them. It also received recognition in seven other categories including Best Director (Alain Resnais). The award ceremony takes place on February 24.

Snow has received numerous Emmy nominations and ASCAP awards. Last year, he became the first composer to receive ASCAP's prestigious Golden Note Award for lifetime achievement and impact on music culture. Past Golden Note recipients include Elton John, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Stevie Wonder. He has enjoyed great popular success as well. Mark Snow's iconic "X-Files" theme remains a worldwide phenomenon. Classically trained at Julliard, he continues to blend his orchestral style with electronica influences. His impressive list of over one hundred television and feature film credits includes "Starsky and Hutch," "Crazy in Alabama," "Disturbing Behavior," "Millenium" and "Ghost Whisperer."

Friday, February 02, 2007


Music by Patrick Doyle
Varese Sarabande VSD 6775 (EU)
15 Tracks 34:57 mins

Patrick Doyle's score for this African-set drama is quite brief at under half-an-hour if you don't count his 6-minute piano suite at the end of the disc.
It all starts off quite minimalistic, with Doyle's opening theme, in "Swaziland," tinged with sadness against a flowing pianistic backing. This theme continues through the next three tracks, before "The Key" errupts into full tragedy, which again continues in the following "The Shooting." Some optimism is introduced in the brief, but warm "Fabulous News," and this continues through "Monica." "Goodbye Swaziland" is the first of two tracks to feature the Mathakoza Sibiyu Choir, but they are here preceeded by an optimistic new theme. "Independence" continues in positive mode," before sadness returns with "Months to Live" and "Harry Dies." The choir's second cue is the hymn-like "Ngatsi Ngisahamba," which is followed by the concluding score track proper, "Please Forgive Me," which develops the warm music introduced in "Fabulous News," to end the score on a happy note. The aforementioned piano suite, with the composer himself featuring, gathers together the main thematic material to close the disc in satisfying manner.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Christmas That Almost Wasn't & News from Costa Communications

The Christmas That Almost Wasn't
Music by Bruno Nicolai
Digitmovies CDDM073 (Italy)
29 Tracks 56:17 mins

Digitmovies celebrated Christmas by releasing this charming little score by Bruno Nicolai for a comedy from 1966, directed by and starring Rossano Brazzi, which sees him as a mean-spirited man who plans to kidnap Santa Claus.
There was a soundtrack LP at the time of the film's release, but this only contained songs, but here we have the complete score in fine stereo sound.
The album commences with "Marionette," a very '60s sounding comedy march, which reminds me somewhat of the theme for the popular U.S. TV show of the time, The Munsters. Another quite pompous comic march makes its appearance in "Un Problema D'Affitto," and reappears throughout the score, often voiced by bassoon. The remainder of the score is filled with wonderful melodic music, sometimes comical, at others light and gay, with plenty of hummable tunes on display. There's a little sneakiness and supsense here and there, but the mood is overwhelmingly upbeat. Tracks I particularly like are the jolly "I Nani," "Via Col Vento," a splendid waltz, and the warm and happy ending "L'Avvocato Bambino. "Marionette" returns in a shorter version to bring things nicely to a close.
Accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, filled with stills and artwork from the film, as well as notes by Claudio Fuiano, you might like to pick up a copy whilst the Christmas spirit still lingers.
Keep an eye on the website at for news of forthcoming releases. Details of the February titles can be seen there, and I'm particularly looking forward to the wonderful presentation of Miklos Rozsa's great score for Sodom and Gomorrah dropping through my door. This enterprising label never disappoints.

Although regular visitors to the site will have read my review last month, I nevertheless include the following for your information:-

From Costa Communications



(Hollywood, CA) Film composer Javier Navarrete has received his first Oscar nomination for his score to Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth" (aka "El Laberinto del Fauno"). "Pan's Labyrinth" began screening in theaters in December and today is found on over 130 critics' Top Ten lists. Directed by Guillermo del Toro ("Hell Boy," "Mimic"), "Pan's Labyrinth" marks the director's second collaboration with Javier Navarrete. The film unfolds through the eyes of Ofelia, a dreamy little girl who is uprooted to a rural military outpost commanded by her new stepfather. Ofelia lives out her own dark fable as she confronts monsters both otherworldly and human. Spanish composer, Javier Navarrete brings the music of Pan's Labyrinth alive. His score captures the fantastical mood of the film - a fairy tale fantasy for adults, set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War - with all of the tension and imagination of this rich, layered film. The score album is available on Milan Records. The 79th Annual Academy Awards will be announced February 25.

A native of Spain, Navarrete's relationship scoring with "Pan's Labyrinth" director Guillermo Del Toro began with the feature "The Devil's Backbone." Navarrete's talents span a wide range of genres, instruments, mediums and geographic locations. His performed music includes early electronic music in duet with friend and fellow Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias and collaborations with the British band, Dead Can Dance, featuring film composer Lisa Gerrard . Navarrete has a collection of arias based on the Latin poem "Ovidius Metamorphose" performed by Mezzo Claudia Schnneider. He has also collaborated with punk legend Iggy Pop in the music of Oscar Aibar's "Atolladero."