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

Monday, April 30, 2007

CD REVIEW - Skylines

Music by Christopher Gunning
Orchard Music OMUK200700
18 Tracks 71:22 mins

Regular visitors to this site will have read my review earlier this month of Christopher Gunning's latest score, which makes up part of the soundtrack album to La Vie en Rose. It's always a (too rare) pleasure having the opportunity to review the composer's music, so I was delighted when he contacted me to say he had a new instrumental album coming out.
Skylines, whilst having a few familiar themes thereon, is largely a collection of newly composed instrumentals, which Gunning describes as "much more rhythm based than a lot of my film and TV work. I wanted to have a go at something else!!" Whatever, it is a very nice album indeed, and whilst electronics play a big part, the composer received valuable assistance from Phil Todd(soprano saxophone, alto saxophone), Stan Sulzmann (alto saxophone, Bass flute) and Nicole Tibbels (soprano).
The album starts quietly with "Skyline - Dawn," before introducing the first of a number of rhythmic movers, "Interstate 95." This is followed by a lovely, laid-back, tropical arrangement of "With the Right One," the familiar theme for the Martini adverts. "Street Games" has an expectant opening, before sax leads us in another catchy, rhythmic offering.
"Sweet Child" speaks of innocence and gentility, and is followed by another familiar piece, the flute-lead "Theme for Black Magic," with Ms Tibbels featuring in the bridge. "Fast Dada" is just that, a busy, fast-moving piece of jazz.
"They Dine in Smart Cafes" begins and ends with street noises and is a sax-lead waltz, with a French feel to it. "Rockers" is yet another rhythmic mover, and is followed by the always welcome "The Belgian Detective," the popular theme for TV's Poirot.
"And a Bird Watches..." begins expectantly, before taking flight; and "Pomp" is an optimistic mover. "Desert" is suitably mysterious and a little desolate; whilst " A Sad Tale" opens poignantly, before opening out into a passonate sax-lead theme.
"What's Your Problem?" is an energetic, piano-lead theme, contrasting with "Easy Now!" for laid-back sax and piano. The penultimate track is "Was it Love?" a suitably reflective piece, a little sad, with keyboards and sax; with the sax-lead nocturne "Skyline - Dusk" concluding this entertaining disc.
If you want to hear samples from the album, go to You can then order your copy online.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

CD REVIEW - Una Nuvola di Polvere...un Grido di Morte... Arriva Sartana

Una Nuvola di Polvere...un Grido di Morte...Arriva Sartana
Music by Bruno Nicolai
Saimel 3997910 (Spain)
24 Tracks 53:16 mins

You pretty much know what you're getting when you listen to a Bruno Nicolai Italian Western score - it'll sound pretty much like the classic Morricone- western style, and this 1970 score is no exception.
It's not one of the composer's more melodic efforts and there is a great deal of suspenseful and often atonal writing to get through before we come to the good stuff, but there is some, with top of the heap being track two (there are no track titles as such), which is the main theme in all its glory, starting out with electric guitar and flute calling and answering one another, before the theme bursts forth in fine galloping style with brass, strings and electric guitar, increasing in power towards its climax.
Both elements of this theme do crop up here and there amongst the suspense, and there are more straightforward variations like the fateful mover that is track 5, as well as track ten which gallops towards an elegiac conclusion. Tracks 21 and 22 seem to be alternate arangements of the big showdown sequence and are good examples of the classic treatment of such scenes; with the final track presenting a short reprise of the main theme in all its glory.
One more track stands out on the disc, that being track 7, which presents some nice, easy-going travel music.
The accompanying booklet and inlay feature colour stills and poster artwork from the film, together with notes, which are unfortunately in Spanish only.
Whilst not one of Nicolai's greatest western scores, it still has enough good moments for me to recommend it to fans of the genre.

Friday, April 27, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Big Country

The Big Country
Music by Jerome Moross
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1055 (US)
42 Tracks 74:00 mins

This is probably the definitive release of one of the greatest ever film scores, that by Jerome Moross for William Wyler's sprawling 1958 western, The Big Country. The same programme was issued some years ago by Screen Archives, but this is the first studio-endorsed release and whilst limited to 3000 units, hopefully there should be enough to go round.
The Big Country is quite simply fabulous, filled with wonderful tracks, from the memorable "Main Title" theme, that everyone remembers, and its various, often pastoral appearances throughout the score; to the exciting "The Welcoming" and "The Hazing;" the light and gay "Julie's House;" the flirtatious "Courtin' Time;" the delightful comedy of "Old Thunder;" the tense and powerful "The Raid;" the beautiful dance suite for "Major Terrill's Party;" the energetic, then purposeful "Cattle at the River," also present as part of the exciting "The War Party Gathers;" and the elegiac "The Death of Buck Hannassey," the first of a suite of cues that bring the main themes together to provide for a fine dramatic finish, before the main theme takes us to a suitably grand climax. These are just a few of the highlights of what is a consistently high-quality score.
The score was originally recorded in mono sound, but is digitally edited and mastered for the finest sound possible, and accompanying the disc is a splendid 20-page booklet, with notes on the film, its composer and score, including cue-by-cue guide, by Randall D. Larson, acknowledging the writings of previous commentators. There are also numerous stills from the film, plus an interesting listing of the musicians involved in the performance of the score, which reveals the presence of John Williams on piano, Gerald Fried on oboe and Dominic Frontiere on accordion, all of whom of course went on to be fine composers in their own right.
Any self-respecting film score fan must have a copy of this wonderful release in their collection.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Ultimate Gift

The Ultimate Gift
Music by Mark McKenzie
Varese Sarabande VSD-6809 (EU)
22 Tracks 44:31 mins

I don't know much about this film. It hasn't reached our shores yet, here in the UK, but apparently it stars Brian Dennehy, James Garner and Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin.
The score is by the always excellent Mark McKenzie, who really should receive more assignments, as his music is always top notch.
The Ultimate Gift is no exception, a real emotional ride, with some gentle warmth and tenderness and some really passionate, moving, and quite tragic moments making up the majority of tracks on this album. Piano is particularly to the fore, with subtle, but at times heart-rending, string playing.
Apart from the emotional content, which begins with the rather elegiac "Main Title," there is "City Boy in Texas," complete with harmonica and guitars. "Bum's Beach" and "Park Picnic" are both brief, but catchy little movers, and tracks like "Arrival in Ecuador" and "Plane Wreckage" both have suitably ethnic touches, with flutes to the fore, and the latter ends quite threateningly. Menace, suspense and anguish is provided by "The Firing Squad."
Two, actually rather good songs, by Sara Groves and Ed Goggin round of the CD.
If you have a fondness for the music of Mark McKenzie, I am sure you will not be disappointed by his latest offering - would that we could hear more often from this fine composer.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Enforcer and Awards News from musicfromthe

The Enforcer
Music by Jerry Fielding
Aleph Records 038 (US)
13 Tracks 40:09 mins

Though excerpts from the score were previously released on LP, this is a first-time CD release of the complete score for the third in the Dirty Harry series.
Whilst Lalo Schifrin composed the scores for the remainder of the series, he was unavailable for The Enforcer and so scoring duties fell to Jerry Fielding, the perfect replacement, who indeed proved to be so, taking a similar approach to Schifrin and providing a great blend of jazz, funk and Avant Garde.
After a suspenseful and dissonant start in "The Prologue," Fielding comes up with a cool, jazzy mover, with prominent sax, for the "Main Title." Some of this dissonant and suspenseful music, as in "Alcatraz Encounter," comes close to the kind of Avant Garde scoring provided by Jerry Goldsmith in his classic Planet of the Apes score.
Fileding's theme for Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry character, first heard in "Harry's World," is quite rhythmic, but unpredictable, and variations on the theme can be heard throughout the score. "Rooftop Chase" is the action highlight of the score, a flowing jazz-funk mover, which becomes episodic later in this lengthy cue, before ending somewhat subdued. The other high point, follows the Tyne Daly character's tragic death at the end of the film. The "Finale," subtitled "Elegy for Inspector Moore," features piano and strings and becomes really quite heart-rending. An alternative version is included as a bonus at the end of the disc, and is more weighty, with the addition of brass, but not nearly so moving.
Accompanying the disc are Nick redman's notes on the film, its music and composer, plus a foreword by Tyne Daly.
Fans of the Dirty Harry series will very much welcome this release, coming hard on the heels of the label's previous releases of Lalo Schifrin's fine scores for Dirty Harry and Magnum Force. It's certainly a fine example of the late Jerry Fielding's work which, though seldom melodic, invariably serves its subject well.
Visit Lalo Schifrin's official website at, where you can browse and order from the Aleph catalogue.

The Music from the Movies website reports that, somewhat surprisingly, Nicholas Hooper won the BAFTA for original TV score for his work on Prime Suspect 2: The Final Act. I think the general feeling was that George Fenton was a shoe-in for Planet Earth. Hooper is of course the composer for the upcoming Harry Potter film, so things are really looking up for the composer at the moment - and note before time, I might add.

The nominees for the Ivor Novello Awards on May 24th have been announced and, in the film soundtrack category, the nominees are David Arnold for Casino Royale, John Powell for Ice Age: the Meltdown and Christian Henson for Severance. In the TV category Alex Heffes for Shiny Shiny Bright New Hole in My Heart, Martin Phipps for The Virgin Queen and John Lunn & Jim Williams for Hotel Babylon are the nominees.

It pays to keep a regular eye on for the latest screen music news.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007



For more detailed information, click on this URL


For more detailed information, click on this URL

Watch out for reviews of all these fine releases on this site.

Monday, April 23, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Creature Wasn't Nice

The Creature Wasn't Nice
Score by David Spear, Songs by Bruce Kimmel
40 Tracks 67:29 mins

This is a first for me, in that I've never reviewed a score before where the film's writer/director has actually criticised the score presented on the disc in the accompanying liner notes. True, he does call composer David Spear's efforts "very good," and says "most of it works just fine," but then goes on to say that his "ponderous Planets-like theme told the audience nothing, and I still believe to this day had he come up with something faster and wierder it would have helped the film immeasurably." But, you really need to read the whole story of the film and its journey to what was finally released to fully understand Kimmel's words.
As for me, well I doubt I'll ever get the chance to see the film in question, which was something of an Alien spoof, made in 1984 at the time when every serious film, no matter its genre, was fair game for spoofing.
Taken away from the film, Spear has indeed written a main theme, somewhat inspired by Mars from Holst's The Planets, but this was not a unique approach at the time with, among others, James Horner doing the same kind of thing for Krull. Spear's main theme, plus his 5-note mystery theme, are virtually ever-present throughout the numerous, mostly quite brief tracks that make up the score and indeed, sometimes are to be heard in combination in some of the more dramatic action moments. The other principal themes that also make appearances are a proud, martial anthem for Captain Jameson (Leslie Nielsen - fresh from Airplane), and a very nice love theme, that I could have stood hearing more of.
Intermingled, and somewhat at odds with Spear's score are a number of show tunes, composed by Bruce Kimmel, like "Hold Me, Touch Me, Thrill Me" "Bachelor Bills" and the most catchy of them all "I Want To Eat Your Face," which I've had a job to shake, its lyrics drawing some strange looks from people around me.
Alternate versions of these songs are presented among numerous bonus tracks at the end of the disc. Some are just voice and piano demos, others just the backing tracks, so you can add your own vocals if you wish. And at the very end you can hear some dialogue from the fondly remembered Broderick Crawford, who played the voice of the abusive computer.
Speaking solely as a score collector, I would recommend Spear's music to those of you who like the Elmer Bernstein school of comedy scoring, and would also liken it to John Morris' efforts for Mel brooks' Star wars spoof Spaceballs, also recently released on CD.
As I've already mentioned, Kimmel provides the disc's liner notes, and thorough they are indeed, in the colourful accompanying booklet.
For more information, audio samples and to order your copy of this 1000-unit limited edition release, go to

Sunday, April 22, 2007

News from HUGEsound

Chance Thomas Announces 7th Annual HUGEsound Half-Dome Conquest


Veteran game music composer Chance Thomas (King Kong, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, X-Men III) announces the 7th Annual HUGEsound Half-Dome Conquest. This year’s nearly 9,000 foot ascent is set for Friday, June 15, 2007 in Yosemite National Park, California.

“It’s better than getting a sports car,” quipped Ubisoft Entertainment’s Simon Pressey of Montreal, one of the intrepid adventurers braving last year’s climb.

The HUGEsound Half-Dome Conquest is open to anyone in robust physical condition. A special invitation is extended to those working in the videogame industry.

Thomas, whose newest game release comes out next week (Lord of the Rings Online:Shadows of Angmar), has been tackling Half-Dome every year since 2000. His studio HUGEsound hosts the annual event, offering transportation to the Park and hotel rooms at a discounted rate.

This approach to the top of Half-Dome will ascend the mountain from its sloping East side using cables and cross-beams installed by the National Park Service. It is not a technical climb and requires no special training.

En route to the base of the mountain, participants will climb past beautiful Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, follow the path of the Merced River, and ramble through miles of giant high Sierra timber.

Foot distance covered is approx. 16 miles round trip. The National Park’s official statement reads that this is a “very strenuous hike” and should only be attempted by those in good physical condition.

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

About HUGEsound
HUGEsound is a full service audio production company. HUGEsound offers a wide range of audio design, audio production and post-production services. For more information, please visit:

Friday, April 20, 2007

CD REVIEW - Fracture

Music by Jeff & Mychael Danna
New Line Records Advance CD
15 Tracks 44:03 mins

Composers for this courtroom thriller, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling, opening both here and in the States, are the brothers Danna, both fine screen composers in their own right, but who occasionaloy get together to score a film, like Tideland and Green Dragon.
This is perhaps their most conventional score together, a lrgely piano and strings affair, which reminds me somewhat of Jerry Goldsmith's great score for Basic Instinct, especially in its opening and closing moments. "The Rube" is an initially delicate piano affair, but strings take it in a mysterious and ultimately more passionate direction; whilst the following "Mrs. Smith" builds on this with surging piano and strings runs. After that the there are a number of tracks that move along rhythmically or percussively, either underlining investigations being carried out or more sinsister and menacing moments. There are however more intimate cues, like "Call Me Later," with its tender flute and the sad cello of "Bedside Vigil." The 6-minute "I Decide When It Gets Pulled" is a standout track, developing an almost Native Indian-styled rhythmic beat and becomes increasingly more powerful and menacing as it approaches its conclusion.
I am working from an advance disc, but it looks like New Line Records are releasing the score in the US, with Silva Screen probably following in the UK. It's certainly worth checking out if you like the Basic Instinct music, or scores of that ilk.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

CD REVIEW - Grindhouse: Planet Terror

Grindhouse: Planet Terror
Music by Robert Rodriguez
Varese Sarabande VSD 6807 (EU)
22 Tracks 43:53 mins

So, I hear that Robert Rodriguez and Quintin Tarantino's efforts to revive the old "grindhouse" experience has been less than successful in the States, and that the double feature is likely to be separated for UK distribution. Pity, because it was a grand idea to restore the kind of b-movie exploitation double feature, complete with trailers, that used to play years ago, making for a real value for money evening out.
Tarantino's film was, as was the Kill Bill films, tracked with all kinds of music from the director's favourite tracks, whereas Rodriguez's effort, reviewed here is, as has become customary, scored by the director himself, with just a little help from Graeme Revell, Carl Thiel, Rick Del Castillo and George Oldziey.
The whole score is based upon a single, somewhat hypnotic, rock-based theme, asnd most of the tracks are quite brief, but show plenty of variation. The opening version "Main Titles" accompanies Rose McGowan dancing and is a real raunchy piece for electric guitars and sax. Miss McGowan also sings the old standard "You Belong to Me," and adds breathy vocals to the largely wordless "Useless Talent #32" and "Two Against The World," both co-written by the director and Rebecca Rodriguez. The director/composer's band Chingon also provide an instrumental version of the main theme, and there is a song by Nouvelle Vague, which uses offensive language throughout, so don't play this disc in front of the kids.
But back to the score, and it's really a mix of rock and electronics, with atonal, otherwordly moments ("Dakota"), menace and action ("The Sickos," "El Wray," "Zeroto Fifty in Four," "Fury Road," and "Melting Member"), piano-lead poignancy ("The Ring in the Jacket") and fateful showdown music ("Helicopter Sicko Chopper" and "Killer Legs.") Along the way, Rodriguez pays homage to John Carpenter, sailing mighty close to his Halloween theme in "His Prescription - Pain."
I tried very hard not to like this score, but had to give in to its charms (if that's the right word) in the end. I can't wait to see the film, if only to watch Charmed star McGowan shoot 'em up with her automatic rifle for a leg. And I thought they didn't make 'em like that anymore!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
Music by Miklos Rozsa
Tadlow Music TADLOW004 (UK)
23 Tracks 77:50 mins

Latest in the series of excellent new recordings of much sought after scores from the enterprising John Fitzpatrick and his Tadlow label commemorates the centenary of the birth of one of the greatest of all film music composers, Hungarian-born Miklos Rozsa, presenting as it does the complete score for Billy Wilder's 1970 fantasy on the life of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
Whilst still an enjoyable film in its existing state, Wilder's cut was originally much longer, but was butchered by the studio heads. The music here was composed for that complete version, a version that the American Film Institute are making their mission to restore, and let's hope one day soon they succeed.
Wilder originally conceived the film as a showcase for Rozsa's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, which was commissioned by the great Jascha Heifitz in 1956. The work had long been a favourite of the director and he asked Rozsa if he could adapt the music for the film. Rozsa set about doing so, also composing original material to supplement it where necessary.
The result is a typically fine score, with spirited and adventurous moments, a good share of romance, with solo violin singing out, shadowy intrigue, sometimes with a religious bent, and a fine, stately march for Queen Victoria and " the establishment."
The complete score is presented here, with the addition of four bonus tracks, featuring three alternate versions of one of the most exciting cues in the film, "Castles of Scotland," which sees Holmes, Watson and the mysterious Gabrielle biking between Loch Ness' castles. There is also a more laid back version of the opening cue, which in the film is taken at a more furious clip. The alternate version is more in the style presented by the composer in his execllent suite, which was included in one of his must-have re-recorded compilations released in the '70s.
Praise must go to all involved in this excellent recording, which sees Nic Raine conduct the City of Prague Philharmonic, with the solo violin parts performed by Lucie Svehlova. And to complete a wonderful package, the accompanying 24-page illustrated booklet features detailed notes on the film, its music and composer, together with a cue-by-cue guide.
A must-have for film music fans everywhere!

Monday, April 16, 2007

BAFTA TV Music Nominations + CD REVIEW - British Light Miniatures: Vintage TV & Radio Classics

The music award nominations for this year's BAFTA Tv Awards have been announced, and I'd hate to have to be the one to chose a winner from this little lot. They are:-

Planet Earth - George Fenton
Tsunami: The Aftermath - Alex Heffes
Prime Suspect: The Final Act - Nicholas Hooper
Jane Eyre - Rob Lane

British Light Miniatures: Vintage TV & Radio Classics
Music by Various Composers
Naxos 8.570332 (EU)
22 Tracks 75:49 mins

This generous collection of music used in largely British TV and radio programmes over the years, yields some familiar and not so-familiar material, depending largely on your age, really.
Beautifully performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, under the batons of Paul Murphy and Gavin Sutherland, some of the material has had to be reconstructed especially for this recording. It's all highly listenable and there are numerous lovely waltzes and stirring marches from a whole variety of composers, some whose names are more familiar than others. Among the most famous are Ralph Vaughan Williams, Eric Coates, George Melachrino, Hubert Bath and John Dankworth.
There's really not a dud track here and the music is of such high quality that it is impossible to chose my favourites, but to help guide you as to just what's on offer, I make the following observations:-
Vaughan Williams' "Sea Songs" is a quick maritime march, which was utilised for the Billy Bunter TV series and includes a version of "Portsmouth," which of course Mike Oldfield would make very famous a few years on. "Waltzing With Sullivan" by Gilbert Vintner is based on Sir Arthur Bliss' tunes. Eric Coates was of course responsible for one of the most famous film marches ever, that of The Dam Busters. Here, he provides another sprightly march, with a grand bridge, in "Sound and Vision (the ATV March)." Fritz Spiegl and Manfred Arlan were responsible for the "Radio 4 UK Theme," which consists of variations on popular airs, including "Rule Britannia," "Danny Boy," "What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor," "Men of Harlech" and "Early One Morning." "Non-Stop" was the familiar ITV news theme for many years, and was composed by John Malcolm. Hubert Bath's "Out of the Blue" will be familiar to listeners of BBC radio sports programmes; whilst I suppose almost every Brit will remember Ashworth Hope's "Barnacle Bill" as the popular theme for Blue Peter, which is still used today. Montague Phillips' "Dance Revels" yields a very familiar mazurka; with the album's closing track being another familiar piece, whcih was composed by John Dankworth for Rediffusion TV, the adventurous "Widespread World."
I have only mentioned a few of the more familiar selections above, but there are equally good gems among the lesser known material on offer.
The accompanying booklet includes Philip Lane's brief guide to each work and its composer (s). A splendidly enjoyable collection of light music.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Banquet + News from Costa Communications

The Banquet
Music by Tan Dun
Deutsche Grammophon 00289 477 6459 (EU)
19 Tracks 50:55 mins

This is the second successive film score I have reviewed on this famous label, and also the second to feature the piano skills of Lang Lang.
Feng Xiaggang's new film is described as "a tale of intrigue and muder in 10th-century China" and, from the gorgeous colour stills featured in the accompanying booklet, which also includes English lyrics for the featured songs, looks a sumptuous affair.
The score is by Tan Dun, who of course scored another wonderful film to look at - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and is an orchestral/choral affair, featuring the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Opera House Chorus and the Shanghai Percussion Ensemble, with Lang Lang leading both forces on a number of tracks
The disc opens with a fine romantic ballad "Only For Love," with Jane Liang Ying Zhang's lovely vocal (pity it wasn't in English though). This is the film's main love theme and is reprised instrumentally in "Lost Days," at the end of "Sword Dance," as a low-key wordless choral in "Lady in Red," tragically at the end of "Play Within a Play" and in the final cue "The Banquet," with wodless vocals by Susan Botti.
Another, more subdued song is featured in the score. "Longing in Silence" is first presented as an a capella female vocal; and then as a male vocal, which gives way to piano and orchestra.
Other outstanding tracks include "In the Bamboo Forest," where Lang Lang leads the Percussion Ensemble through an action-packed track, with choir joining later; "After Tonight," a delicate piano-lead version of "Longing in Silence," with soprano joining; and "Exile to Snowy West," with its meandering piano and propulsive strings and percussion.
I continue to find much to admire in the scoring of films from the Orient these days.

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, and based on the popular children's book, it is a coming-of-age story about friends who create a magical kingdom in the forest, where the two of them reign together as king and queen. The film continues its success around the world, already grossing over $100 million. Currently in Spain and France, it has earned more than $5 million and $4 million, respectively. Disney releases the film in the United Kingdom May 4. Hollywood Records released Zigman's score CD February 13. The DVD will be available on June 19.
Zigman's rich yet subtle score highlights the emotional material without sensationalizing it. The full orchestral score purposefully soars and swells in just the right places, and Zigman's use of a choir enhances it even further.
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.

Friday, April 13, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Deutsche Grammophon 00289 477 6552 (EU)
19 Tracks 54:35 mins

Alexandre Desplat's star continues to rise in Hollywood with his latest score for The Painted Veil, Somerset Maugham's 1920s-set story about an English couple on "a fateful journey of redemption" in China, winning him this year's Golden Globe.
His score for this picture is written in a somewhat minimalistic style, reminiscent of Philip Glass in some ways. Pianist ang Lang leads the Prague Symphony Orchestra, with contributions from Vincent Segal on electric cello giving the score a light Oriental touch, though the music in general doesn't reflect the location.
Many of early the tracks flow nicely along their way, supporting the film's striking images, but there are occasional breaks from this style, like the "River Waltz," heard first with piano and orchestra and then later on with piano only. "The Lovers" presents some nicely delicate romance, whilst "Death Convoy" is suitably doom-laden, ending sensitively. "Morning Tears" is a sad cello piece, with "Cholera" starting off as a desperate mover, before the cello rejoins and then full strings to provide a sad ending.
"Walter's Mission" is probably the most Oriental-sounding track, flowing along with support from flutes and percussion, becoming more purposeful, before delicate piano takes it to its conclusion.
I should imagine the film has a tragic ending, as, following the "Cholera" track, "The End of Love" begins with a grim processional, turns atonal and then ends with bittersweet harp and strings. "The Funeral" follows with its brief sad piano and strings, before "From Shanghai to London" sees a return to the flowing music heard in the opening title track.
Overall, it's an elegant score, and if you like the minimalist style, I daresay you'll find this an acceptable offering.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

CD REVIEW - La Vie En Rose

La Vie En Rose
Music by Christopher Gunning + Songs by Edith Piaf
EMI 0946 3867822 9 (EU)
27 Tracks 72:42 mins

The publicity said that Olivier Dahan's biopic of legendary French songstress Edith Piaf was due to receive its UK premiere on March 29th, but it seemed to pass with little or no publicity, so I can only assume it went ahead as planned.
The film's generous soundtrack album was due for release on March 26th, and is a three-part collection of music from the film. The first 11 tracks feature classic performances by Piaf, and the last 7 selections feature other vocals and instrumentals used in the film. In between we have three versions of "Mon Legionnaire" by Raymond Assoand Marguerite Monnot, arranged and conducted by the film's score composer Christopher Gunning, whose original compositions form the remaining tracks, and clock in at just under 20 minutes. Not having seen the film of course, I cannot say just how much actual original scoring is present in the film, but Gunning always comes up with quality music and it's a shame there isn't more here to appreciate. Anyway, I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies in this day and age where song selections often dominate soundtrack releases, with one or two score tracks included, if we're lucky.
First Gunning cue is "L'Eveil, a dreamy little harp-driven waltz for mixed vocal group, with accordion playout."Lisieux" follows, a sad little piano piece with desolate strings. The suspenseful, then sad "Apparition" follows; then "L'ABC" which sounds lonely to start, but warms up to provide a rhapsodic ending. "L'Idylle" starts off light and breezy, but then transforms into a piano-lead lounge number to finish. The final score cue, "Derniere Night," is a lengthy piece, a variation on the theme introduced in "Lisieux," which becomes quite impassioned and tragic.
A nice, if suitably melancholy, score by Gunning then, with the Piaf classics undeniably powerful.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

CD REVIEW - Some Came Running + Latest Issue of Film Music Magazine

Some Came Running
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Film Score Monthly Vol.10 No.1 (US)
43 Tracks 78:48 mins

Elmer Bernstein was at the height of his powers at the time of this 1958 Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin starrer (though a young Shirley MacLaine stole the show), equally comfortable in writing strong, jazzy music or patriotic and homespun Americana. This score features both, plus some excellent dance band music to boot.
This is in fact an album that has been a long time coming. The original soundtrack album release was, as was the norm at the time, a re-recording by the composer. Here, is presented the original score, gathered together from various sources, as the original film tracks were discovered to have a fault, due to the way they were stored in 1958. All things considered, the album is in amazing, mostly stereo, sound, and well worth the wait.
The score commences with the "Prelude," which features Bernstein's powerful, dirge-like main theme. A somewhat disturbed version of this theme, lead by solo sax, is heard at the end of the subsequent track, and both versions are to play their part throughout the remainder of the score. Ginny's (Shirley Maclaine) theme is introduced at the start of track 2 and is a soft and bluesy affair. A swaggering, jazzy theme is first heard in "Smitty's Cocktail Hour" and later developed in "Like Wow,"one of three great jazzy jukebox tunes from Bernstein. In addition to these source cues, there are also a number of fine dance band tunes in between the dramatic scoring.
The following cue is Bernstein at his Americana best. "The View From Parkman" starts out with marching band music, turning into a proud variation, with just a touch of whimsy.
Romance is injected firstly with "Thwarted," which starts out light and gay, before becoming a romantic-stringed waltz. "Gwen's Theme" starts out quite rhapsodic with piano and strings, but becomes more passionate on strings, with a passage for solo violin. "Tryst" presents romantic, yet troubled variations on the theme. Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen wrote the song "To Love and Be Loved" for the film, which is heard in vocal form as the last of a number of bonus cues presented at the end of the disc, but is first heard in the body of the score as a radio source cue, cropping up again in variations in "Dawn at Dawn" and "Tired."
The film concludes with a big chase scene at a carnival, and carnival source cues which were interspersed with Bernstein's dramatic chase music are also presented in the bonus material. The chase cues themselves mostly feature the composer's main theme in dramatic, action-packed variations, but when Ginny is tragically shot at the end of the sequence, her theme returns in sad variations.
"Catharsis" concludes the score, in suitably religious mode to mark Ginny's funeral, but then "Gwen's Theme" soars to a big conclusion.
The aforementioned bonus cues also include two more vocals from the on-screen male trio, who also perform "To Love and Be Loved," standards "After You've Gone" and "Don't Blame Me." And there's also an instrumental version of "Blue Moon."
Accompanying the disc, as always, is an excellent and colourful booklet, with numerous stills from the film, plus poster artwork, and album producer Lukas Kendall's detailed notes on the film and its score, together with the usual cue-by-cue guide.
For further details and sound samples, go to, where you can also order your copy and browse through FSM's catalogue of available titles.

The latest issue, Volume 7 Number 1, of FILM MUSIC is now available, and the cover feature is an interview with a new name to me, but certainly one to look out for, Sharon Farber, who divides her time between scoring for both screen and concert hall. The other main feature is an interview with two of the main movers and shakers behind New Era Scoring, an initiative to provide an LA-based orchestra, that can work on both Union and non-Union projects and therefore keep recording work in the City, and stop it filtering off to places like Seattle and Eastern Europe, due to the high costs of recording Union in LA. It will certainly be interesting to see how they go. There is also an article on ASCAP's MediaGuide; a look at some of the state-of-the-art gear on show at the International Winter NAMM Show; there's also advice for composers on writing song-like cues for film; as well as a look at the advantages of switching to the new Intel Macs; and the issue concludes with publisher Mark Northam's warning about an important 18 months ahead for composers and songwriters regarding royalties.
Go to to subscribe and, while you're at it, don't forget, if you haven't wisely already done so, to subscribe to the free electronic filmmusicweekly at

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

CD REVIEW - Laurel and Hardy Laughtoons - Volume One

Laurel and Hardy Laughtoons Volume One
Music by composers
Screen Archives SAE-CRS-016 (US)
11 Tracks 72:55 mins

Prepare for a nostalgia overload! If your golden memory cup wasn't already flowing over following FSM's release of music from the Tom & Jerry cartoons, this release of music for the Laurel and Hardy TV shorts will certainly cause a major overflow.
In 1971, Richard Feiner, owner of the Laurel and Hardy silent short subjects library, created seven minute condensations of the great comedy pairing's silent classics, made back in the 1920s, thus exposing them to a whole new audience. I certainly remember them running almost endlessly on UK TV when I was young, and spent many very happy moments in their company.
The music for these shorts was overseen by the late George Korngold, son of the famous composer Erich (The Adventures of Robin Hood et al), and was composed bythe likes of Fred Steiner, Ruby Raksin, Jeff Alexander and Lyn Murray, with orchestrations by such asTony Bremner, the late Christopher Palmer and John W. Morgan, all familiar names to soundtrack collectors.
Suites from nine of these shorts are presented on this album, some of which are actually longer than the shorts themselves, designed to represent the original theatrically-released shorts they were drawn from.
The music is of a similar, slightly jazzy, nature to that of the Tom & Jerry cartoons, though obviously more of a '20s slant. As with T & J, the composers also incorporate familiar tunes of the time or before, along with popular classics like The William Tell overture and The Barber of Seville. Of course there are plenty of pratfalls and frantic chases along the way, as well as more whimsical scoring.
Some of the suites commence with brief dialogue extracts and the disc begins and ends with (what else) the familiar "Dance of the Cuckoos" by T. Marvin Hatley, albeit re-orchestrated by pianist-composer Stuart Oderman, resident pianist at the time of the New York Founding Tent of the Sons of the Desert, the international Laurel and Hardy organization.
The accompanying booklet features many stills from the featured shorts, plus album co-producer Ray Faiola's notes, which include a brief guide to each short and its music.
For further details and to hear some audio samples, go to Can't wait for Volume Two!

Monday, April 09, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Number 23

Yes, I'm back - hope you all had a great Easter! The weather, in the U.K. at least, didn't let us down for once.

The Number 23
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Silva Screen SILCD1230 (UK)
9 Tracks 44:34 mins

Desperately seeking a hit, rubber-faced comic Jim Carrey turns to a straight role in this tale of a man's obsession with a book called The Number 23 that increasingly seems to be telling his own life story.
Harry Gregson-Williams is a composer with the power to delight, as in The Chronicles of Narnia, Shrek 2 and Sinbad, Legend of the Seven Seas, or to infuriate, with the likes of Phone Booth, Domino and Deja Vu, which, though they might be perfectly well suited to the films they supported, make for a lousy listen on disc. Unfortunately, The Number 23 falls into the latter category, although it is more listenable than some.
The composer mixes orchestra with electronics, with subtle use of voice here and there, like in his main theme, a nervy affair, which commences with an electronic pulse, not totally unlike that favoured by Alexandre Desplat (though admittedly not so annoying), and becomes ever more intense in the "Opening Titles." The cue does however end up more lightly as it flows to its conclusion. The following "Fingerling's Childhood" is another flowing piece, though quite sunny and innocent, even if it does end mysteriously.
"Suicide Blonde" is a lengthy cue, which goes through much development, after its industrial opening, going through melancholy, reflective, but also 'big and bad' moments, before ending tragically. The main theme returns at the end of "Ned," after frantic then fateful moments. "11:12 p.m." mixes it up with more melancholy string work, but also a return to the industrial beat, with a hint of middle-eastern rhythms along the way.
The second lengthy track is "Finishing The Book," which starts out propulsively, but then goes through mysterious, atonal and downright sinister moods, before some frantic action takes over, but then becomes more reflective, then suspenseful, with a reintroduction of the main theme. "Laura Tollins" also quotes the main theme, but is largely menacing and suspenseful as it builds to a crescendo. "Room 23" continues the menace and suspense, with the concluding "Atonement" featuring sad strings, which intensify, but then the cue turns mysterious before resolving itself with a return to the calm-after-the-storm feel created at the conclusion of the opening cue.
To conclude, it's not the worst score I've heard from the composer, and has some effective moments, but they just don't stick around long enough to appreciate. As for Carrey, the general opinion seems to be that he needs to stick to what he does best if he is ever to find that elusive hit.

Friday, April 06, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Becoming Jane & Tortilla Heaven

A double helping of reviews for Easter - see you after the holidays!

Becoming Jane
Music by Adrian Johnston
Sony BMG 886097078482 (EU)
23 Tracks 47:10 mins

Although Jane Austen has never really gone out of fashion, it's probably fair to say that fresh interest was ignited in her work with the most recent adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which carried a score by Dario Marianelli, which was very classical in nature and received much critical acclaim but, at least as an album, failed to involve me emotionally as a good film score should.
His approach was pianistic, and for this fictionalised biopic of how the author, who died a spinster, became such an expert of the subject of romance, Adrian Johnston has taken a not too dissimilar approach, with John Lenehan performing well on piano, ably supported by other soloists Marcia Crayford, Gaby Lester and Aidan Broadbridge (violin); Vicci Wardman (viola) and Anthony Pleeth (cello), alongside the orchestral lineup. However, Johnston's music is a much more satisfying listening experience, with plenty of emotion on show, be it delicate and more passionate romance, or desolate and yearning.
"First Impressions" gets the album off to a tentative start with its piano intro, but orchestra joins to warm things up nicely, before the brief, but sunny "Hampshire" bursts onto the scene. "Bond Street Airs" introduces the first source tune adapted by the composer "The Irishman;" then "The Recruiting Officer" is the folksy dance in "The Basingstoke Assembly."
"A Game of Cricket" flows nicely before giving way to W.Leeves' "Why Tarries My Love? Ah, Where Does He Rove?" "Selbourne Wood" is light and flirtatious, becoming romanticised on piano; whilst "Lady Gresham" is initially quite joyful, but more formal to close. J.Hook's "Ma Chere Amie" makes up "Advice from a Young Lady," followed by the folk dance "Softly Good Tummas" in "Laverton Fair."
Jane's romance with Mr. Lefroy then takes off with the magical, and ultimately dreamy "To the Ball," followed by the eventually soaring "Rose Garden." But the mood isn't to last and the following tracks present a fair does of sadness, yearning and despair, as the lovers are parted. Things do however take a turn for the better with the romantic mood again blossoming in "Runaways." But this is but a temporary respite and the sadness returns for the next three tracks.
A source piece by Mozart, with vocals by Lynda Lee, leads us intothe final two tracks, "Twenty Years Later" and "A Last Reading," which induce a feeling of warm nostalgia for a long lost love.
After a quite lengthy absence from our screens, it's good to hear from Adrian Johnston again, who tells me that he spent much of last year on the film. "In the end I was responsible for all the souce music choices, dance arranging and recording, as well as the score. I leafed through Jane Austen's original books and wanted to weave some of it into the film." It was certainly time well swept in this writer's opinion.
What is clear is that we should be hearing much more from the busy composer in the months to come, as he has a new film "Sparkle" due out probably in May, as well as two forthcoming TV projects "The Trial of Tony Blair" and the latest instalment of "14 Up 2000."The there is the eight-part Channel 4 series "Cape Wrath" and two more Poliakoff films, which are always an event.
He also continues his work on silent classics with the score for 1929's "Lucky Star" for the BFI and Fox. He says "This film was considered lost until it was discovered 15 years ago. I performed live for its 'first' performance in Italy and then played it round Europe and USA so it's a treat to come back to it."
As if all this wasn't enough, he also reveals that his Becoming Jane and Kinky Boots director Julian Jarrold is filming the big screen version of Brideshead Revisited, and I'm sure his music for that production will give Geoffrey Burgon's well-loved TV score a run for its money.
My thanks to Adrian Johnston for his time and for making this review possible.

Tortilla Heaven
Music by Christopher Lennertz
20 Tracks 24:12 mins

Composer Christopher Lennertz has teamed up with multi-cultural band Ozomatli for the score to this indie comedy, directed by Judy Hecht Dumontet and starring George Lopez. They previously worked together on the band's "Street Signs" album, where Lennertz provided the orchestral arrangements that helped the 10-piece band take home a Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock Album of the Year.
The film is based on the true story of a small New Mexican town, turned upside down by the discovery of the face of Jesus on a hand-made tortilla.
The score is about as quirky as it gets, with Lennertz and the band members providing a mix of Spanish, rock and even reggae.', with guitars, sax, harmonica, accordion, steel drums, percussion and even voice all chipping in to telling effect. There is plenty of forward motion to the score, either in the form of flowing tunes or more sneaky, caperesque moments. Occasionally there's a real feeling of fiesta, with trumpet to the fore, but sometimes the music is dialed down somewhat with some nice, warm moments for acoustic guitar. All-in-all a real feelgood score.
No news of a commercial release for the score as yet, so you'll have to catch up with it in the movie, I'm afraid.
My thanks to Costa Communications for making this review possible.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

CD REVIEW - Cinecocktail - The 2nd Chance + News from Tyler Bates Music

Cinecocktail - The 2nd Chance
Music by Various Composers
Beat Records CDX 1003 (Italy)
Disc 1 - 21 Tracks 71:50 mins Disc 2 - 6 Tracks 26:43 mins

I recently reviewed the fine Beat Records easy listening collection Cinecocktail, which brought together themes from various Italian composers from films of the 1960s and 70s.
We now have a sequel collection, again of a generous playing length, with another bonus disc featuring Francesco Santucci's remixes of some of the themes from disc one, plus a bonus track, the smoky, sax-lead "Fay."
This time the emphasis of the collection is more on jazz, with music composed by a variety of composer again, including Roberto Pregadio, Francesci De Masi, Armando Trovaioli, Sante Maria Romitelli, Berto Pisano and the De Angelis brothers. The music presented again spans the period from the mid-'60s up until the late '70s.
My favourite tracks include the opening piano solo in "La Ragazza dalle Mani di Corallo seq.1;" the jazzy, trumpet-lead mover "Diamond Trumpet;" Edda's erotic vocals in "Sessomatto';" the organ-lead, funky mover "La Settima Donna seq.6;" "Tic Nervoso," a brassy mover, with a disco beat; and the fast-moving groove of "Gangster Story." But if you enjoy the jazz-poppy sounds often created for films, not only of Italian origin, during this period, you're sure to find plenty to like besides my own personal choices.
Attractively packaged, with the accompanying foldout featuring plenty of full-colour artwork from the films represented, as well as introductory notes by Daniele De Gemini, this is another welcome nostalgia trip.
Don't forget to visit the label's website at to keep up with their current and forthcoming releases.


April 4, 2007 – Los Angeles, CA – Theatrical previews for the double horror feature, Grindhouse, directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, will include The Weinstein Company’s Rob Zombie written and directed HALLOWEEN teaser trailer which features Tyler Bates’ (300 composer) recreation of John Carpenter’s classic Halloween theme, which Fangoria comments, “Spooky haunted-house ambiance. Female gasps of terror. Yep, this is definitely a HALLOWEEN theme done Rob Zombie-style.”

Also as part of Grindhouse, Tarantino and Rodriguez have contracted a group of directors to create trailers for fictitious movies to play between the two features. One such trailer is Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the S.S., which features Nicolas Cage and music by Tyler Bates.

Bates received critical acclaim for his music for Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, which Cinefantastique called, “seizure-inducing” and “the kind of horror music that gets under your skin like a bad dream-music concrete as a stone block of fear.” In addition to the August release of HALLOWEEN, Bates upcoming projects include Day Of The Dead directed by HALLOWEEN alum Steve Miner, and Warner Bros. Watchmen directed by Zack Snyder (300) .

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Last Mimzy

The Last Mimzy
Music by Howard Shore
Silva screen SILCD1231 (UK)
16 Tracks 50:49 mins

I never used to go a bundle on the music of Howard Shore and was somewhat disturbed when I heard he had been chosen to write the music for the first Lord of the Rings film. Of course, we all know how that turned out. Well, in my opinion, working on that esteemed trilogy did all of his music sensibilities a power of good, because I've liked most everything he's written ever since, and this score is no exception.
The film is a sci-fi fantasy, in which a couple of kids are given amazing powers by their association with a box of educational toys that come from the future. As one would expect then, Shore's music has a certain awe and otherwordliness to it at times, and his main theme is certainly interesting and not easily hummable, reminding me somewhat of the unusual thematic leaps Michael Kamen used to provide from time to time. This theme pretty much dominates the score, along with the innocent, playful music for the children, first introduced in "Whidbey Island."
Along the way there is much mystery, suspense and tension, with the odd propulsive moment, and strings feature strongly throughout. The only black mark for this album comes with the composer's collaboration with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters on the song "Hello (I Love You)," which is unattractive and just plain weird. Fortunately however, this is placed at the end of the disc and so can be easily avoided.

Monday, April 02, 2007

CD REVIEWS:- Curse of the Golden Flower & Jet Li's Fearless

A couple of linked reviews today, as it is unlikely I will be able to post anything tomorrow.

Curse of the Golden Flower
Music by Shigeru Umebayashi
Lakeshore Records LKS 338982 (US)
24 Tracks 49:20 mins

The latest colourful historical epic from director Zhang Yimou is the wonderfully titled Curse of the Golden Flower and stars the ever dependable Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li.
Following the great success of composer Shigeru Umebayashi's score for The House of Flying Daggers, I was keen to see what he would bring to this story. I was not disappointed. It's a big, choral/orchestral effort, although perhaps a little on the downbeat side, with its good share of mournful strings, yearning solo female vocals and big choral/orchestral laments.
Early on in the album however, there are some fine choral processionals, some more powerful than others, but all nevertheless very involving. The action writing is all quite subdued, with the music more fateful and expectant, propelled by drumming, and only occasionally becomes more strident and purposeful as with "Betray to the Emperor."
The score does however reach a satisfying conclusion with the triumphant "Imperial Ceremony" leading into the rather mournful flute solo of the title track, which intensifies and segues into the "Ending Title" where strings take up the theme. Drums and flute then propel the track to its final choral lament.

Jet Li's Fearless
Music by Shigeru Umebayashi
Lakeshore Records LKS 338772 (US)
36 Tracks 66:52 mins

Still available from Lakeshore Records is last year's Umebayashi score for this Jet Li martial arts extravaganza.
The album gets off to a fine start with the solo flute and strings of the "Opening Title," followed by the drum-driven "Shanghai Fight." Unfortunately, it quickly loses its way with a number of brief and somewhat spare cues. A lot of the action features unaccompanied drumming, but when strings join to make the music a little more involving, often the cues stop and start, making it hard to become really involved.
There are some nice ethereal touches in the score, mostly featuring solo flute or female voice, but a lot of the music is fateful and rather downbeat, though there is some delicate and then more romantic string work in "Moon Explains" and "Yuanjia & Moon."
It's only really at the end that the score becomes more satisfying, with the triumphant "Fearless Men," then the soaring wordless female voice and flute of "Theme of Yuanjia & Moon," leading on to the "Ending," a new percussive theme with a nice violin lead.

Of the two I definitely prefer Curse of the Golden Flower, but Fearless, though a tougher listen, has its rewards and both discs have their share of worthwhile moments.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

CD REVIEW - Deadly Friend

Deadly Friend
Music by Charles Bernstein
Perseverance Records PRD-LCSE-018 (US)
22 Tracks 68:44 mins

Before even giving any attention to the score presented here, I have to say that this is just about the perfect soundtrack release, for not only do we have Charles Bernstein's score, properly presented for the first time, but also included is a more than 30-minute three-way telephone conversation between the composer, the film's director, Wes Craven, and the label's Robin Esterhammer; with the disc accompanied by an eight-page booklet, featuring Rudy Koppl's notes on the production and its music, with comments by the composer throughout, plus plenty of stills and artwork to boot.
The film itself dates from 1986 and reunited Craven and Bernstein, following their hugely successful first collaboration on the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street (which incidentally is also touched upon in the audio interview). Its story can be seen as a kind of take on Frankenstein, where a young student and science prodigy transfers the chip from a robot into his young female friend in order to save her life, but a malfunction turns her into a killer.
Bernstein's score incorporates orchestra and electronics to good effect, but when the original soundtrack album release came out, the music was not properly represented, due to the problems of reuse fees for the orchestral element. Therefore that album, consisting of Bernstein's electrronic mock-ups, is now properly succeeded by the score as it was heard in the film.
The new album presentation gets underway with the "Main Title," which presents the two more human themes of the score, the first, a flowing string theme, with electronic undercurrents, and then the warm, innocent theme for the friendship between the film's two leads. This warmth continues through "Paul & Samantha," and then the sunny "BB's Happy Times." "Sam Moves" injects an element of sadness, before the proud electronics of "Paul The Genius."
The first sign of trouble in the score comes with the threatening electronics that open "Dark Possibilities," but the cue ends quite dreamily, before the flowing main theme returns for "Basketball Game." Things really kick off however with the menacing "Deadly Moment," with succeeding tracks building on that menace, before we're taken out of things temporarily with the weird, but inspired, robotic walker "BB's Chant," which sees vocal BBs errupting all over the place.
Much of what follows is either suspenseful, threatening or downright menacing, either orchestrally or electronically realised, or with both in tandem and, as the score comes to its conclusion, we get stabbing Psychoesque strings in "Lasting Effects" and eerie sampled voices in "Inner Workings," with the "End Credits" seeing a return, in more electronic mode, to the themes presented in the opening credits.
The musical selections conclude with a commercially orientated version of "BB's Chant," with suitably strange, spoken lyrics.
Fans of the genre, or the film in particular, will want to get their hands on a copy of this limited edition release, which is a wonderful souvenir to have. Would that all soundttack releases could be so lovingly realised.
Check out the label's website at