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

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Back with a Bang!

You've not heard from me for some days, but I haven't been idle and, in an effort to start catching up, here's (for me) a monster post of CD reviews:-

King of California
Music by David Robbins
Silva Screen SILCD1252 (UK)
19 Tracks 39:07 mins

David Robbins is the composer for this new Michael Douglas comedy, which also stars the ever-lovely Evan Rachel Wood, and has furnished us with one of the most enjoyable scores I've heard recently, as evidenced by this album from Silva Screen which, in addition to Robbins' score, also features a track by the Lileh Choir of Dmanisi, together with Jolie Holland's vocal of one of the composer's principal themes.
It's just a delightful , melodic score, composed for a small ensemble, including ukulele, banjo, guitars, pump organ, accordion, acoustic bass, glass armonica, shakers, hand drums, trumpet, a duo of cellos, musical saw (now that's something I haven't heard for a while) and even a Alessandroni-styled whistler. Every track has something to offer and the music covers a range of moods and styles, at times folksy, at others quirky, with that haunting musical saw. There's warmth and whimsy, slow dances and even a little mariachi. As I say, it's just delightful.
The accompanying booklet features a brief synopsis of the film, together with notes by the composer and writer/director Mike Cahill.

The Jane Austen Book Club
Music by Aaron Zigman
Varese Sarabande VSD 6856 (EU)
29 Tracks 33:10 mins

You may recall that I reviewed a promotional copy of this disc back on 21st September, so you can go there to catch my full opinions of this new score by the busy Aaron Zigman, but basically it's a typically Thomas Newmanesque score, which takes us through the whole gamut of emotions, from purposeful to sad and poignant, to quirky, as it leads us through the interwoven adventures of six book club members.

Preparati La Bara!
Music by Gianfranco & Gian Piero Reverberi
Digitmovies CDDM092 (Italy)
27 Tracks 52:48 mins

This 1968 Italian western saw the popular Terence Hill having a stab at the Django character, first portrayed by France Nero.
The score was provided by the brothers Reverberi, but no album was forthcoming at the time of the film's release. Instead RCA put out 11 tracks, coupled with Carlo Rustichelli's music for Un Minuto per Pregare, Un Istante per Morire, in 1998. This disc reissues those stereo tracks, but supplements them with a further 16 tracks in mono, taken from the original masters.
Of course, if for nothing else, the Reverberi brothers will be remembered for their simply beautiful score for the 1964 TV series Robinson Crusoe, and their gift for melody is again revealed in this score, which is largely based on the one theme, first heard at the opening of the disc as a strong ballad to a galloping rhythm, entitled "You'd Better Smile," and sung in English by Nicola Di Bari. The song turns up again at the end of the original album tracks in a shorter Italian version and is reprised a couple more times in both English and Italian later on in the bonus material.
Following the initial vocal performance though, it is reprised instrumentally in virtually all the original album selections (save for the obligatory barroom piano track), performed in a variety of forms, slower and faster, and intensely dramatic in the deguello-styled tracks, with of course trumpet featured, but also electric and acoustic guitars, and even ethereal organ taking the lead, with choir often adding their support.
The bonus selections do have a little more variety, with some atonal suspense and some more barroom music, plus some cues strip down the main theme to provide dramatic solos for trumpet and guitar. But all in all, it's a one-themed score, but of course it's a fine theme and therefore it never outstays its welcome. Another fine addition to the Italian Western scores catalogue.
The disc is of course accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, with stills and artwork from the film, together with notes by Claudio Fuiano and Luca Di Silverio.

La Polizia Accusa: Il Servizio Segreto Uccide
Music by Luciano Michelini
Digitmovies CDDM091 (Italy)
25 Tracks 56:40 mins

Another Digitmovies release features Luciano Michelini's score for this 1975 cop thriller, which is this time largely based on two themes, the first a dark and propulsive theme, the second an easy-listening love theme. Both feature in the first couple of tracks on this disc and thereafter crop up in a variety of arrangements. There is a little more variety in this score however and some cues provide a deal of mystery and suspense, as well as some exciting action and a somewhat comical march theme.
In addition to the complete score, presented over the first 15 tracks, there are also another ten bonus cues, which include music not used in the movie, more suspense, original source dance music and more variations of the love theme.
Again, a coloufrul booklet accompanies the disc, feeaturing stills, artwork and notes by Claudio Fuiano and Pierluigi Valentini.

Directors Cuts: Dark Drama 2
Music by Various Composers
Extreme Music DCD029 (UK)
30 Tracks 47:56 mins

This latest addition to Extreme Music's Directors Cuts production music library features music by a variety of composers, the best known probably being Geoff Zanelli, James S. Levine, Phil Marshall, Mike Shapiro and Jim Dooley. As one would expect, the subject matter dictates that much of the music is of the "dark" variety, with some pretty ominous, eerie, threatening and downright menacing music on display, all achieved with synths and samplers. Best cues for me are the increasingly menacing dark march for "Evil Genius;" and the big and bad techno mover "Black Art," both of which Zanelli had a hand in, as well as the same composer's rocking "Talk of the Devil."


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