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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Disney Box Office Hits
Various Artists
Walt Disney Records D000278002 (US)
15 Tracks

Well, not really a review, as you know I only do scores, but just to let you know that Walt Disney Records have released a 15 track compilation of songs from recent Disney films Enchanted, WALL-E, Cars, Meet the Robinsons, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Princess Diaries 2, Bolt, Chicken Little and Ratatouille, featuring such diverse artists as Carrie Underwood, Peter Gabriel, Sheryl Crow, Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus (& John Travolta), James Taylor and Jamie Cullum. There are also two kind of bonus tracks in the shape of "Jack's Suite" from Pirates of the Caribbean, mixed by Paul Oakenfold; and "U.N.K.L.E. Reconstruction" from The Incredibles by U.N.K.L.E. of course. So, if you like the contemporary stylings featured in these films, this is a nice way to put them all together on one album.
The album is available wherever you buy your music, but if you wish further details visit

Sorry I've been inactive this holiday, but I've taken the time to catch up with a number of outstanding tasks. Should be up and running normally again after the weekend - if not before - in the meantime, may I wish everyone a very happy, healthy and hopefully more prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Brian Goodman's What Doesn't Kill You opened in the States on December 12th, the same day that iTunes released Alex Wurman's score for the film, which is based on events from the director's life, who also plays organized crime boss Pat Kelly, alongside the stars of the film, Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke.
Wurman's music is all achieved in his studio, and his publicists, Costa Communications, were kind enough to send me a sampling of his score, which only runs for some 12 minutes, but gives one an idea of what to expect.
The "Opening Titles" presents a poignant piano theme, later taken up by violin, over a persistent questing rhythm. A haunting violin variation on the main theme continues in "Suite 2," this time giving way to the piano, as the track turns ever more poignant. "Suite 3" is a very different animal, a tense, cold affair, though piano does provide a brief reprise of the main theme late on. "Get Out of Jail" presents a positive piano/violin performance of the theme; whilst "Suite 4" features the most uptempo version of the theme yet, before ending ethereally.
I have no way of knowing if the remainder of the score is similarly one-themed, but from what I've heard here, this is another fine effort from Wurman, whose profile continues to grow and grow.

Well, it just remains for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Not sure when my next post will be, but there's plenty more good music to look forward to, including three new releases from La-La Land Records (two of which are double albums), three from the GDM Hillside Series, a new Rozsa concert music disc from Naxos, and more goodies from Costa Communications. So check back in a couple of days or so and hopefully there'll be something new.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Music by John Powell
Walt Disney Records D000278102 (US)
19 Tracks 37:07 mins

By now, John Powell could probably score an animated film in his sleep, having worked on more than his share in recent years. His latest effort is for this comedy, featuring the voices of John Travolta (as the title character, super-dog and Hollywood star Bolt) and Miley Cyrus as the dog's owner. The story concerns Bolt's cross-country journey back to his owner when he is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood sound stage to New York City.
The soundtrack album opens with a couple of very acceptable songs, the upbeat "I Thought I lost You," which sees stars Travolta and Cyrus team up for a duet, and the easy country number "Barking at the Moon" by Jenny Lewis. After that, it's score all the way, starting out with the warmth of "Meet Bolt," with its delicate piano solo. "Bolt Transforms" follows dynamically in its wake, our hero leaping into action in the exciting "Scooter Chase." After a stereotypical urban introduction to "New York," Powell provides some conventional comedic scoring. "Meet Mittens" offers variations on a waltz theme; whilst "The RV Park" trips along lightly. After a comedic start, "A Fast Train" bursts into more exciting action, whilst "Where Were You on St. Rhino's Day?" reaches a big, triumphant crescendo. "Sing-along Rhino" is hampered by an irritating vocal intrusion early on, but develops into more propulsive action, which continues into "Saving Mittens," ending in a big crescendo. After a moment of triumph, "House on Wheels" restores some calm and warmth, before proceeding in a western-styled manner into "Las Vegas," before turning wistful and then warm in "A Friend in Need." An anxious start to "Rescuing Penny" leads into more furious action, before the cue ends in triumph; the happy mood continuing in "A Real Live Superbark."
The final cues on the album see firstly a return to the dynamic antics of the super-dog in "Unbelievable TV," followed by the warm Americana of "Home at Last," which gives way to a brief vocal reprise of "Barking at the Moon, bringing a satisfying close to yet another winning animation score from Powell
Both the album and the film received a November release in the States, but the latter has yet to make UK screens.

The Spirit is coming!

Silva Screen Records has announced the forthcoming release of David Newman's much anticipated score for Frank Miller's adaptation of comic book character The Spirit. There will be 18 tracks on the CD, which is due for release 0n 2nd February 2009. I hope to bring you a review next month.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Too Human
Music by Steve Henifin
Sumthing Else SE-2045-2 (US)
20 Tracks 65:41 mins

Steven Henifin's score to the Silicon Knights game Too Human was nominated for "Best Original Video Game Score" by the Hollywood Music Awards and is performed by the FILMharmonic Orchestra and Choir Prague, so even before giving this new Sumthing Else recording a spin, you know you're in for a big sound.
The game is based on Norse mythology, retold as a technologically advanced lost civilization and, seeking authenticity, instruments like the Hardanger, Lyre, Alpenhorn and Langeleik are utilised, and the vocals are loosely based on the Norse Eddur; but its not exclusively Norse in style and there's plenty of electronic ambient music as well.
After a brief music and effects track, the score proper gets under way with the propulsive and exciting "Relic." The slower "Aeon" follows, bringing a feeling of nobility with it. "Cyberspace" is the first example of the more contemporary, ambient side of the score, though it does end with a melancholy Lyre solo. More melancholy ambience follows in "The World Tree," before orchestra and choir join with electronics for the epic opening to "Recovering the Past." However the cue soon returns to electronic ambience. "Epoch" opens with a chant for female voices, before war drums, then brass and choir move the track expectantly along. Conversely, "Perseverance" opens with male voices, before continuing propulsively with orchestra, the whole choir joining as it proceeds to a false climax, the cue ending quite eerily.
"Grendel's Lair" is another propulsive, rhythmic cue for orchestra, choir and electronics; whilst the largely synths-driven "Aesir," opens mystically. "Man or Machine" has perhaps a suitably industrial sound to it, though Hardanger does drift in and out. The haunting sound of solo soprano dominates "Undertow;" whilst its back to the ambient electronics for the suitably cold sounding "The Ice Forest," but with the war drums returning for the mid-section. "Condemned" is yet another propulsive cue, with an impassioned passage for Hardanger giving it a weighty quality. The ambient "Leviathan" and "The Serpent Awakes" follow, before the uptempo "Gods and Chaos" kicks in to alleviate the boredom. "Uprising" follows in inspirational fashion, but unfortunately soon gives way to a mournful, ambient sound.
"Frey Expresses Doubt" opens passionately, before developing into an a capella female chorale, with a definite religious feel to it. "Faith to Attrition" finshes things off in fine uptempo style.
To conclude, this is something of a patchy listening experience for me. The uptempo orchestral/choral moments are highly enjoyable, whilst the ambient cues are best heard in the game and really don't make for much of a listening experience away from the game.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Return from the River Kwai
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Harkit Records HRKCD 8259 (UK)
18 Tracks 52:57 mins

A very welcome premiere release of Lalo Schifrin's orchestral score for 1988's Return from the River Kwai, directed by action helmer extraordinaire Andrew V. McLaglen, whose last film I believe this was, and starring Edward Fox, Nick Tate, George Takei, Denholm Elliot, Christopher Penn and Timothy Bottoms.
This disc is really a labour of love, as it was a difficult assignment for album producer James Fitzpatrick who, finding no separate musical elements remaining, had to reconstruct the score from the dubbed magnetic tracks, which involved painstakingly trying to equalise the levels of the music, which had been dialled in and out of the film. At the end of the day, whilst there's still some fluctuation noticeable, Fitzpatrick and his engineer, Gareth Williams, have done an admirable job in getting the music out there.
The score gets underway with Schifrin's exciting "Main Title," which really propels us into the story, and which is subject to numerous variations throughout the subsequent score. The following "Destroyed Bridge/Meo Tribesmen" is a largely tense affair; whilst "Firing Squad/Time and Change" is suitably mournful to start with, before woodwinds gently reprise the main theme in slightly more hopeful fashion. Tense action introduces "Headman/Crawford," picking up the pace in yet another, more heroic, variation on the main theme to close. The theme returns throughout another actioner " No Glory in Dying," which is followed by the initially suspenseful "Miller's Head/Final Mission," before ending in a powerful and tragic conclusion.
"Cambodia" has a plodding, Asian-tinged opening, giving way to a mournful reprise of the main theme and leading on to the ominous "Brasil Maru." More action follows in "Rickshaw/Runaway," which takes flight at the end, continuing dramatically into "Crash Position/Gangplank," before segueing to the lovely, melodic "Japanese Theme, which Japanese composer Kitaro was invited to compose for the film, and which was also used as the entire background music for the trailer. "Dive/Like a Shark" is a largely suspenseful affair, the music becoming even more tense for much of "The take-over," "Sit Tight/Anchor Chain" and the lengthy "Escort Hit/Abandon Ship!/Sinking."
The score concludes with triumphant variations on the main theme over the "End Titles, together with an uplifting instrumental of "Pack Up Your troubles in Your Old Kit Bag." A special, stand-alone, version of the "Japanese Theme" closes the album.
Accompanying the disc is the usual high-quality booklet, with Darren Allison's detailed notes on the film, its production, cast, and of course the music and its restoration. Go to for more details, sound clips and of course to order your copy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The Day The Earth Stood Still
Music by Tyler Bates
Varese Sarabande VSD 6938 (EU)
28 Tracks 52:58 mins

When will they ever learn to stop trying to remake classic films? This reimagining of the 1951 sci-fi classic concentrates on the threat to the evironment, rather than the nuclear threat posed in the original, which is a good idea, but doomed to failure, at least from the reviews I've read thus far. So many of these reimaginings (remakes) go the same way, due to the fact that, try as they might, if the original is a classic, they just can't compete. Much better to take a flawed film and try to make a good new version of it, I would have thought.
I've got a lot of time for Tyler Bates and have enjoyed his recent efforts, 300 and Doomsday, but again he's on bit of a loser here, as Bernard Herrmann's score for the original, with its groundbreaking use of electronics, is simply one of the best film scores ever written. Of course, Bates uses electronics (including the famous Theremin) here too, and why wouldn't he? He also utilises the talents of the Hollywood Studio Symphony, the Hollywood Film Chorale, solo vocalist Nan Vernon and a large battery of percussion, so it's big, but big isn't always better.
Having said that, it's still a decent effort, with the opening "Stars" and "Mountain Climber" suitably full of awe and wonder, and "National Security" is propulsive and exciting, whilst the brief "This is not an Exercise" is full of military might. Plenty more action can be found in the likes of"Military Approach;" "You Should Let me Go;" "Fighter Drones;""Helen Drives;" "Helicopter Collision;" and the trio of joined cues "Distress," "Wrong Place Wrong Time," and "Aphid Reign."
Contrast this with the odd quiet moment, like the delicate piano of "I'm Staying" and "Cemetery;" and the earnest synths of "See My Son;" and there's more choral awe to be found in "Orb Rising - The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "He's Leaving."
For the remainder of the score, the composer comes up with plenty of tension, menace and mystery with the help of some positively alien electronic sounds.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Music by Laurance Rosenthal
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1078 (US)
15 Tracks 40:22 mins

1979's Meteor was a starry disaster movie among many made at that time. Directed by Ronald Neame, it featured Sean Connery as a NASA engineer, charged with trying to prevent a huge meteor slamming into the Earth, Brian Keith as Connery's Soviet counterpart, Natalie Wood as the interpreter link between them, Martin Landau, Karl Malden, Trevor Howard and Henry Fonda. The music was initially assigned to John Williams, who had composed the score for Neame's The Poseidon Adventure; however a scheduling conflict forced him to bow out, but not before he had recommended Laurence Rosenthal to take his place. Rosenthal had worked on A Man Called Horse for Meteor's executive producer Sandy Howard so, although not the obvious choice for the genre, he was given his chance.
Rosenthal's main theme, first introduced in the "Main Title" after a threatening, electronics-enhanced, then mysterious opening, is a typically lush and spirited affair, instantly recognisable as the composer's work, from subsequent assignments like Clash of the Titans. The theme also appears heroically, and in more subdued form, in the following and largely mysterious "Challenger II." In addition to the electronics mixed with the orchestra, Rosenthal also used Craig Huxley's "Blaster Beam," used famously in the original Star Trek movie, which actually came out after Meteor, to represent the menace of the meteor, and "The Meteor #1, #2 and 3#" display much of this menace. Although track 4 is entitled "The Russians Arrive," the opening flourish is much more reminiscent of music from a western, but quickly takes on the appropriate feel. This is followed by the suitably bleak sounds of "Siberia," though more electronics herald the big, brassy impact of a splinter from the meteor. After three very short tracks, the next music of any great significance comes with the weighty "Realigning Peter the Great" which, as you can imagine is dominated by variations on the Russian theme, giving way to heroic variations on the main theme as it continues into "Realigning Hercules". It is, incidentally, presented here in its original form, which is longer than that which was used in the film. As a bit of light relief this is followed by a charming little accordion tune in "Alpine Innocence," but this is cut short by more of the menacing meteor music, which gives way to suitably romantic, though apprehensive, music as the Connery/Wood characters get to know one another over a meal.
"Countdown" is a largely tense affair, as you would imagine, as missiles are dispatched towards the oncoming meteor, ending with hopeful variations on both the main and Russian themes. More tension follows in "Manhattan Splinter," ending in cacophony as the splinter strikes.
It's drama all the way throughout "Hercules Rising/Malfunction/Trapped/One Rocket Lost" and "Assault and Impact," with the themes for the three principal protagonists all competing. The latter reaches another cacophonous crescendo, the track ending quietly as the success of the mission is revealed.
The final cue opens with a stirring marching band rendition of the Russian theme, transforming into the main theme and then leading into the "End Credits," which reprises the main and Russian themes to conclude the album on a satisfactorily note.
At the time of the film's release, the score was only released on LP in Japan. It wasn't until 1997 when the composer reissued it on a very limited promotional CD, so it's never been that easy to find. It's good therefore that La-La Land Records have given us another chance to add it to our collections, but again numbers are limited to just 1200 copies, so you'd best hurry if you are to have any hope of grabbing one, and it's no use going to the label's website, as it is already sold out there.
Accompanying the disc, incidentally, is the usual high quality booklet, which features plenty of colour stills from the film, full music credits, plus Randall D. Larson's informative notes on the film, including a cue-by-cue guide to the music.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Synecdoche, New York
Music by Jon Brion
Lakeshore Records LKS 340472 (US)
18 Tracks 39:24 mins

I must confess that I am not too familiar with the work of Jon Brion. I've heard bits and pieces of his music in the past, but they haven't made much of an impression on me. However, when the composer's publicists offered me a copy of his new score for this the directorial debut of two-time Academy Award-winning writer Charlie Kaufman, I thought "why not give it a go."
The disc opens with the bouncy "Tacky Entrance Music," then quickly segues into "Dmi Thing from When She was the Kitchen," an initially quirky piece that develops into an almost religious guitar-lead theme. "All Plays Out (Fire Sale Version)" is easy-going and quite old fashioned in style. The guitar theme returns for the next track and is followed by the hesitant strings of "Forward Motion." "Something You Can't Return to" is a melancholy, bluesy guitar-lead piece, the downcast mood continuing into "Sex Based Decision Making, before the guitar theme returns. Perhaps not surprisingly, piano dominates "Piano One," which is again quite downbeat, though shows signs of some light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed, the following track, "Someone Else's Forward Motion" is a more optimistic development of the hesitant string theme. "Dmi We Meet Again?" is yet another variation on the guitar theme, with "Still Can't Return" threatening to develop into "From Russia With Love," or the theme from the Hamlet cigar ads.
"Piano Two" features what resembles satellite communication sounds, floating around melancholy piano; with "OK" building to quite a spiritual high on strings. However,"Can't Return" soon brings us down to earth with yet another varition on the guitar theme, which leads into "Piano Three," which does display some optimism in the strings. Yet another variation on the guitar theme closes the instrumental score and precedes three songs, which are strangely uncredited, both in the writing and performing.
Well, I gave it a go, and can't say that I'm any more impressed than I was to start with, but if you like your scores quirky, you'll probably be entertained.

Monday, December 15, 2008


The Dove
Music by John Barry
Harkit Records HRKCD 8321 (UK)
13 Tracks 32:45 mins

Harkit Records have done fans of John Barry, and good film music in general, a big favour by making this fine score readily available again.
1974's The Dove was one of only three films that fine Hollywood actor Gregory Peck produced, having fallen in love with the true life story of lone yachtsman Robin Graham (played by Joseph Bottoms) who, at the tender age of 16, sailed his 23-foot sloop "The Dove" around the world, finding love in the shape of Patti (Deborah Raffin) a free spirit, hitching her way around the world, having finished college.
I too fell in love with the film, which was the supporting feature to Orca - the Killer Whale, which brought me to our local cinema (sadly, no longer with us), due to the Morricone soundtrack. I left singing the praises of The Dove instead, though both films have excellent scores in their own rights.
John Barry was at the height of his powers in 1974, his many successes of the 1960s continuing into the '70s with great scores for the likes of The Last Valley, Walkabout, Mary, Queen of Scots and Sean Connery's return to Bondage in Diamonds are Forever. For The Dove, he came up with one of his loveliest scores, filled with a sense of adventure and freedom, summed up beautifully in his freewheeling strings-lead and harpsichord-driven "Main Title" theme, and the infectious song "Sail the Summer Winds," written with oft-time collaborator Don Black, and performed by Lyn Paul in one of her first ventures since leaving the popular group The New Seekers. "Patty and Robin" features a particularly playful version of the latter. Other great, easy-going moments in the score include the harmonica-lead "Hitch-Hike to Darwin," and the light-hearted competition of "The Motorbike and the Dove."
Of course, the voyage was not all plain sailing and Barry provides suitable support for Graham's trials and tribulations, coming up with some pretty tense and threatening writing for these scenes. "Here There Be Dragons" is particularly dramatic in this respect; and "Alone on the Wide, Wide Sea" quite disturbing, as loneliness threatens to unhinge young Robin; whilst Barry's main theme, always presented previously in a positive light, proves its versatility in the desperate "After the Fire."
The penultimate track presents a reprise of Ms Paul's vocal, with the sounds of ships' horns heralding the arrival of the Dove in Los Angeles harbour, as the main theme returns for the final track to celebrate Graham's triumph, closing this wonderful album.
Accompanying the disc, is the usual high-quality booklet, featuring Darren Allison's detailed notes on the film and its production, and of course the score.
Go to, where you can order your copy and find information on all the label's releases, with sound clips you can sample.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Grand Prix
Music by Maurice Jarre
Film Score Monthly Vol.11 No.9 (US)
30 Tracks 71:38 mins

John Frankenheimer's 1966 film Grand Prix stars James Garner, Yves Montand, Antonio Sabato and Brian Bedford as Formula 1 drivers and follows them through the season, being shot at the actual real-life races for authenticity.
Jerry Goldsmith had been originally engaged to write the score, but scheduling conflicts forced him to bow out and Frenchman Maurcice Jarre, arriving on the back of such successes as Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, and having scored Frankenheimer's The Train, stepped in, which perhaps was appropriate with much of the film shot in Europe and some of the more dramatic moments reserved for the Monte Carlo leg of the tour. Of course, with Jarre at his peak, you know pretty much what to expect and his flowing themes are almost interchangeable throughout various assignments of this period. Indeed, his Lara's Theme from Doctor Zhivago is even included in the bonus source tracks on the album, though this specially recorded version wasn't ultimately used in the final film.
Jarre wisely chose to leave much of the actual racing footage unscored as the director was keen to present the most authentic engine sounds possible to accompany the scenes, and so Jarre's music just wouldn't have been able to compete. This wasn't always the case though, as in "The Clermont-Ferrand Race," where the effects were dialed down to allow Jarre to provide some particularly dreamy scoring for this fairy-tale like take on proceedings.
What we're left with are the thrilling and adventurous main theme, though sometimes delivered more subtly, first heard in the "Overture," after the composer's opening trumpets and trombones simulation of speeding cars.; a low-key, melancholy acoustic guitar-lead theme for Bedford's character; and a more optimistic and romantic piano-lead theme for Montand's character. All these themes are weaved in and out of the subsequent score, often flowing from one to another. The main theme also appears as a source waltz in "In the Garden" and arrangements for marching band in "Entr'acte," "Marche du Grand Prix," "Brands Hatch Finish" and the bolder "Starting Grid of Monza." Jarre also provides moments of tension, utilising his main theme in short, incomplete excerpts here and there, and a rather desperate and trippy version in "Brands Hatch I & II." After a reflective rendition of the doomed Montand character's theme, the composer brings the final score cue, "Pete on Empty Stands," to a triumphant close with his main theme.
The original soundtrack LP was a lavish gatefold presentation, with numerous stills and plenty of notes but, disappointingly, engine sounds intruded on the music in 2 of the 10 tracks presented. Thankfully, these tracks have been included here free of effects. FSM's presentation is much expanded from the original, featuring the 48 minute score, as well as 23 minutes of the aforementioned source material and alternate tracks, including those album tracks not included in the main body of the score. All this, and the always excellent accompanying booklet, featuring Paul Andrew MacLean's detailed notes on film and score, as well as the indispensable cue-by-cue guide to the music, and plenty of colour stills.
Amazingly, despite enjoying many of Jarre's albums for many years, I've never actually owned a copy of Grand Prix until now, so I am personally indebted to FSM for allowing me to catch up -and how - on what I've been missing. For your copy go to, where you can also find sound clips.

The Transcenders score Gossip Girl

The hit TV show Gossip Girl, about "a group of East Side Manhattan socialite teens who attend elite prep schools," has I am afraid passed me by thus far, but apparently the theme song, written by the Transcenders, a group consisting of Terence Yoshiaki, Brian Lapin and Mike Frantantuno, has become quite popular. What viewers may not realise is that the group have also written the incidental music which, of course, in this kind of show mostly consists of short transitional pieces, or pieces that work around the non-original song choices for the shows' soundtracks. They also write the music for the on-screen band "Lincoln Hawk," and the song "Everytime," performed on the season 1 finale, has also become popular, and is available on the iTunes release of OMFGG - Original Music From Gossip Girl.
The group's publicists, Costa Communications, have kindly sent me a CD sampling of some of their work and, although there are 17 tracks, the total running time is just 17:09 minutes, with all of the tracks under 2 minutes in length, which perfectly illustrates the nature of their underscoring. The music is often bright and bouncy, largely featuring guitars, keyboards and drumkit, though there are of course softer, sentimental and poignant moments. It all passes one by quite easily and pleasantly, and is certainly preferable to a lot of the synths-based scoring for TV these days.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Cinema Symphony
Music by Andrew Pearce
MovieScore media MMS 08023
6 Tracks 67:59 mins

This is a special project for MovieScore Media in that it is the first non-soundtrack they have released. The composer of this new concert work, Andrew Pearce, has been involved in a number of the label's previous soundtrack releases as an orchestrator for Guy Farley. Here, he has written a large orchestral work, in four movements, which pays tribute to the Hollywood film score, performed wonderfully by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, under the baton of Jose Serebrier. In addition, the album also features Pearce's Elegy for Violin and Orchestra and Celtic Warrior: Prelude for Orchestra, both of which are also written in cinematic style.
The first movement of the Symphony, "Pastorale-Fanfare-Scherzo," gets off to a peaceful, yet broad start, with John Williams-like solo trumpet soaring over the orchestra. This in turn becomes a big, brassy and dramatic fanfare, which leads into some furious action writing, becoming lighter for a time, before proceeding in determined fashion, increasing in power, but then fading away to its conclusion.
Movement 2, "Lento Misterioso - Dreams," features a violin solo by Miriam Kramer early on, and does indeed have its moments of mystery, but is also hugely powerful at times and, at others, quite lyrical, before reaching its impressive climax.
The third movement, "Allegro-Cantabile-Presto," features much conflict, with Goldsmith-like ostinatos, but also some impressive, soaring brass writing, at times filled with awe and wonder; but the action writing soon returns, only to give way to a more lyrical passage, before a final orchestral onslaught brings the movement to a close.
The final movement, "Allegro Con Fuoco-Lento Sostenuto" is the lengthiest at more than 21 minutes and initially reprises the fanfare from the first movement, This gives way to some more furious conflict, then a somewhat mournful passage, with expressive horn and string writing arising from it, and leading to a bold, brassy crescendo, dying away to a quiet conclusion.
Elegy for Violin and Orchestra of course gives Ms Kramer her place in the sun. This 9-minute piece is really quite beautiful and expressive, and again reminds somewhat of John Williams, the famed composer having written several such pieces that have been included in his concert repertoire over the years.
The final work on this CD is the aforementioned Celtic Warrior: Prelude for Orchestra, which starts out quietly and expectantly, before developing into an heroic, stirring theme, which is probably my favourite piece on the album. After a big crescendo, there's a quiet moment of reflection to end.
Pick up a copy of this impressive work from your usual soundtrack retailer (Screen Archives and Intrada are recommended) or download from Film Music Downloads.

From Costa Communications:

“Best New Film Composer”

Austin Wintory scores

Captain Abu Raed

Winner of the Sundance World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic

Los Angeles, CA – Film composer Austin Wintory scores the award-winning feature film, Captain Abu Raed, from director Amin Matalqa. The film, Jordan’s first-ever entry in the Academy Awards’ foreign language film category, premiered in the U.S. at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received the World Cinema Audience Award. In addition, it earned Wintory the title of “Best New Film Composer” at the first annual Hollywood Music Awards. In describing the score, Wintory said, “It's meant to feel like a fable that could be told by any culture on earth, and so the orchestra seemed the best route to accomplish that.”

For Captain Abu Raed, Austin Wintory wanted the score to have a universal appeal. He achieved that by balancing traditional Arabic instruments, such as kanun and tablas, with a rich orchestral palette and Western instruments like sleigh bells and castanets. He recorded with the Hollywood Studio Symphony and world-renowned vocalist Lisbeth Scott (Passion of the Christ, The Chronicles of Narnia). In addition to earning the “Best New Film Composer” award, Wintory’s score has been recognized as an Oscar contender by the Los Angeles Times.

Austin Wintory’s love of film scores began at the age of ten in Denver, Colo., when he first listened to Jerry Goldsmith’s classic scores for Patton and A Patch of Blue. In high school, he taught himself to compose, orchestrate and conduct, before studying at both New York University and the University of Southern California. Wintory, at the young age of 26, has received accolades for his scores to feature films, short films and videogames, including fl0w, for which he received a BAFTA nomination. He has several upcoming film projects, including the comedy Knuckle Dragger, holiday film Make the Yuletide Gay and dark drama The Sunset Sky.

Captain Abu Raed tells the story of a lonely airport janitor (Nadim Sawalha) whose life changes after he finds a discarded captain’s hat at work and wears it home. When the poor neighborhood children assume he is a real pilot, he forms a friendship with them by weaving fictional stories about the world outside of Amman, Jordan, based on books he has read. As he attempts to make a difference in their lives, Abu Raed faces attacks from Murad (Hussein Al-Sous), a young boy who calls him a liar, and develops a relationship with Nour (Rana Sultan), a real female pilot with troubles of her own. Captain Abu Raed is a story of dreams, friendship, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Punisher: War Zone
Music by Michael Wandmacher
Costa Communications Promo
46 Tracks 64:52 mins

The Marvel Comics character, The Punisher, has already enjoyed one cinematic outing, which was quite entertaining. Now, Frank Castle returns, this time in the guise of Ray Stevenson (so memorable in the Rome TV series); with a new composer in tow, in the person of Michael Wandmacher. The previous film was scored by Italian Carlo Siliotto, whose score actually received quite a bit of critical acclaim, but which I found did little for the film and sported a main theme far removed from the kind of thing I was expecting and hoping for.
This is probably Wandmacher's biggest assignment to date and so what has he delivered?
Well, the composer's publicists kindly sent me a promo disc of what could possibly be, at over an hour's running time, the complete score. Certainly, his main theme is much more suitable to the character, heard initially over the "Main Titles" as a thunderous, horns-lead, rhythmic affair, mixing electronics and much percussion with the orchestra, all elements found throughout the score; though at times the theme shows its versatility when it returns in more subtle, meaningful variations. Much of the action that follows relies quite heavily on a big bank of percussion to provide some pretty powerful and exciting passages; and, there are also suitably menacing moments of villainy, often characterised by cold electronic sounds, throughout. But it's not all action and menace by any means, and brief moments of sentiment, poignancy and tragedy can be found here and there, where delicate keyboards, strings and woodwinds have their say.
Although a song album has been released by Lion's Gate, so far, regrettably, there is no news of a score album, so you'll have to see the film if you want to hear Wandmacher's music, though you can listen to a couple of tracks by visiting

Monday, December 08, 2008


24: Redemption
Music by Sean Callery
Varese Sarabande VSD 6936 (EU)
17 Tracks 54:37 mins

I gather this score is for a feature bridging the gap between the last and next series of the popular 24, and that it recently aired on satellite TV in the UK. That's about as much as I know, as I'm not really into the show at all. I did try early episodes (when it was still shown on terrestrial TV), but found it not at all to my liking, with unlikeable characters that I just couldn't find any empathy with - but I guess I'm in the minority.
Sean Callery has been the composer of choice for the show, from the start, I believe, and has by all accounts done a pretty good job. Again, I'm not familiar with his past efforts on the show, but I assume, in this case, the story has an African setting, judging by the sounds he conjures in the "Prologue," with its mysterious and eerie feel giving way to a powerful conclusion. "Across the Plains" and "Willie" are easy-going African-styled pieces, though the latter does turn wistful on flute in its latter stages. "Dubako on the Hunt" offers an expectant mix of percussion, electronics and orchestra, with a burst of action at its climax; with "Jack and Benton" following along as a poignant aftermath. It's back to the African-styled percussion and ethnic flutes for the start of "Soccer Game Interrupted," but this playful feeling is soon interrupted by bursts of menacing action music. "Vultures" offers more mystery and suspense, with a haunting, mystical vocal by Lizbeth Scott.
A sad flute refrain opens "Don't Let Them Take My Kids," before menacing percussion takes over, upping a gear to provide an heroic statement, only to plunge into more menacing percussion-driven action. "Tortured Jack" is a tense affair, followed by a mix of action and suspense in "Evacuating the School," with "Anything At All" offering a synth-lead mix of menace and tragedy. We're back in action territory again for the stealthy, percussive "One Man Against Juma's Army," a sweeping synth end leading into "Benton's Sacrifice, " which initially sees Ms Scott reprising and developing her vocal from before to provide a fitting lament.
"Street Battle" pauses for brief reflection, before building percussively to full-on action, which continues in "Open the Gate," with Ms Scott returning with impassioned vocals to drive the music on to its satisfying conclusion; with the final track, "New President in a Troubled World" offering synths-lead light at the end of the tunnel, and a final impassioned burst of Ms Scott to conclude proceedings.
There is undoubtedly some good music on offer here, but unfortunately the use of synths, often in the lead, does undervalue it somewhat. They are however a staple of much US TV scoring these days, so I guess we have to live with them.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Fable II
Music by Russell Shaw
Sumthing Else SE-2040-2 (US)
12 Tracks 45:13 mins

The original Fable video game sold more than 3 million copies, so I guess it was inevitable a sequel would appear and I'm delighted that, as with the first game, a soundtrack album is also forthcoming, with Danny Elfman's magical theme retained, as are the services of Russell Shaw for the scoring duties, utilising the services of the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, the Pinewood Singers Adult Choir, the Tiffin School Boys Choir, and specialist Celtic instrumentalists.
In Top Dollar's press releases, which you may well have read here, but it's worth repeating, Shaw describes the assignment thus: "we has a lot of music to record, covering many different styles including chamber, Celtic, classic, quirky, pure pizzicato, atmospheric and dramatic. Music was broken down into four distinct categories: region, script, combat and incidentals. Each region has its own orchestral theme which changes with the seasons in each chapter. Scripted moments have orchestral cues relevant to what is happening at that point in the story - sad, dramatic, mysterious, tension and danger. The final result is a very rich, Hollywood style score covering many genres."
What is certain, is that this is a very different listening experience to the last game score I reviewed, Gears of War II (also on Sumthing Else). Whereas that was a pulse-pounding action score, here we are talking about much subtler fare, the opening "Old Town" being something of a comical little promenade; the mood changing to somewhat of a mysterious and magical feel for "Bowerstone Cemetary."
A lonely Celtic flute introduces "Bowerlake," the cue proceeding on strings, with a solo violin over, before the flute returns, and then the distinctive sound of the pipes takes over to close this peaceful piece. Fittingly, haunting boys' voices introduce the mystical "Wraithmarsh," with trembling strings and delicate Celesta providing a quiet sense of foreboding. The elegant Fairfax Castle" follows, an elegant, classical dance-like cue with harpsichord providing that period feel.
Horns introduce the mysterious beauty of "Westcliff," with harp and flute moving the cue on to its ominous drum rolling conclusion.
"Oakfield" returns us to more quirky territory and is followed by "Bowerstone Market," with its pizzicato waltz and variations. "Shadow of Evil" could not be more different, an a capella choral of awe and menace, which spills over into "Howling Halls," before orchestra continues in sinister fashion, with choir returning to add yet more of that sense of foreboding from earlier.
The final cue, "Marcus Memorial," a solo for harp, ends the score on a much more delicate note.
This is without doubt a beautiful, relaxing album, expertly performed by all but, personally, I could have done with a little more of the drama Shaw talks about.
Visit for details of all the label's releases, and go to www.sumthing, should you prefer to download the album, rather than purchase it on CD from your usual retailer.

From Costa Communications:

Composer Michael Wandmacher

Scores 3-D Remake of


Score album available Jan. 13th

(Los Angeles, CA) – Composer Michael Wandmacher writes a chilling score for My Bloody Valentine 3-D. The film, from Lionsgate, is a remake of the 1981 horror film about a Valentine’s Day massacre. Tom (Jensen Ackles) returns home on the ten year anniversary of the massacre, only to find himself suspected of the murders that keep occurring. Jaime King co-stars as his old flame and the only one who believes in his innocence. The film opens in theaters January 16, score album available from Lionsgate Records on January 13.

Wandmacher has been a longtime fan of the horror and comic book genres. When asked about the score for My Bloody Valentine 3-D, he says, “The film is a rocket sled ride from start to finish. It starts on furious and accelerates to insane. The 3-D is amazing and the whole process has been an absolute blast. As for the score, it's about as big and brazen as a horror score can get. No mercy.”

Michael Wandmacher began his musical career as a commercial composer in Minneapolis. Since his move to Los Angeles in 1998, Wandmacher has lent his talent to a diverse range of projects, including feature films, TV series and videogames. His film credits include Train, Never Back Down, The Killing Floor and Cry Wolf. In addition, he scored the videogames Over the Hedge and Madagascar. Wandmacher also records, produces and remixes electronic music under the name Khursor and wrote and mixed music for Kelly Clarkson for the film From Justin to Kelly. He most recently wrote the score for Punisher: War Zone, which opens in theaters December 5.

Friday, December 05, 2008


CHiPs Season Three 1979-80
Music by Alan Silvestri
Film Score Monthly Vol.11 No.10 (US)
27 Tracks 79:11 mins

This second volume of Alan Silvestri's music for the popular adventures of Highway Patrolmen Jon and Ponch is basically more of the same, and there's really not a lot more to say about it. If you enjoyed FSM's first volume, you're pretty much guaranteed to like this as well, filled as it is with more punchy, brass-lead melodies, all to a driving disco beat. The only exception is part of track 18, which features the underscoring of a nature documentary being watched on TV by prison inmates. Mind you, I was a little worried with some early tracks, which represent a different approach to early season 2 episodes when vocals (written by an unknown lyricist, although the composer thinks he may have written them himself, though there is no evidence to support this) were added to Silvestri's themes, giving them a real disco dance feel. All I can say is thankfully this approach was abandoned.
The album of course would not be complete without John Parker's original theme, which was retained throughout six series, although given a disco arrangement by Silvestri for seasons 2 through 6, and this both opens and closes the disc.
The accompanying 12-page booklet features album producer Lukas Kendall's notes on the second season and its music, together with a guide as to which episode each track is taken from, and all lavishly illustrated with plenty of colour stills from the show.
For further details at, where you can of course also order your copy of this enjoyable album. Can't wait for Volume 3!

From Costa Communications:




Soundtrack Available through Yari Film Group on iTunes December 12th

Wurman Scores Four Christmases - #1 Movie at the Box Office

(Hollywood, CA)–Critically acclaimed composer Alex Wurman scores What Doesn’t Kill You, directed by Brian Goodman. What Doesn’t Kill You is based on events from Goodman’s life. The film stars Mark Ruffalo (Brian) and Ethan Hawke (Paulie), as friends who grow up like brothers on the gritty streets of south Boston. They do whatever it takes to survive. Petty crimes and misdemeanors grow into serious offenses and eventually, they cross the path of organized crime boss Pat Kelly (played by Goodman). As Brian becomes increasingly lost in drugs and ‘jobs’, his relationship with his wife (Amanda Peet) and his children suffers. Paulie plans “one last heist” but knows it will take both of them to pull it off. What Doesn’t Kill You opens in theatres on December 12th; the soundtrack will be available on iTunes December 12th.

Wurman’s original score to What Doesn’t Kill You mixes electronic music while maintaining an organic feel. Wurman performed on and recorded the score to What Doesn’t Kill You at his studio. It is simple yet complex, much like the characters it represents in the film. His music to What Doesn’t Kill You is poignant and haunting, embodying the emotional struggles of Brian and Paulie. Wurman had the Herculean task of creating music to set the tone of a film based on his director’s life.

After studying music at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Alex Wurman moved to Los Angeles to pursue film music scoring. Independent films started coming his way, and soon he was working with directors such as John August, Doug Liman and Ron Shelton. This year Wurman was honored with an Emmy nomination for his score to the HBO film Bernard and Doris. Wurman’s resume reflects the quality and diversity of his talent, boasting films such as March of the Penguins, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, Anchorman and Play It to the Bone. Wurman’s score can be heard in the #1 movie at the box office, Four Christmases, starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Music by Wolfram De Marco
MovieScore Media MMS08020
12 Tracks 48:00 mins

This murder mystery from Erik van Looy (The Alzheimer Case) features a score by Wolfram De Marco, principally known for his arranging work on the likes of Poseidon, Constantine and Catwoman, and is performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra, enhanced by electronics.
The score gets underway with the title track, which begins with propulsive strings, but ends with a feeling of tragedy and doom. "Flirt," despite its title, is a rather melancholy affair, beginning with tentative piano, before developing on strings. "Lies," by contrast, returns us to the propulsive feel of the score's opening, increasing in intensity to a shattering climax. Next comes "Shadow," with its nervy, travelling opening; followed by the largely atonal threat of "Breakdown." The propulsive strings return in full force for the lengthy "Casino," flowing on toward an intense climax, the cue ending atonally again.
The tragic strings of "Traitor" lead us to the weighty "Revenge;" resuming again in "Murder," before lightening up and moving along to a gentle percussive rhythm, only to end on an ominous note. "Body" is another sad-stringed affair, ending darkly again; followed by the penultimate track "Letter," a fine piece of "showdown" music, driven on by those propulsive strings again, leading to a powerful drum solo, before strings provide the resolve. The final track, "End," moves along conspiratorially with what sounds like duduk floating in and out.
Available from the likes of Screen Archives and Intrada in a limited edition run of 1000 CDs, you can of course also download the album from

News from Perseverance Records

AVAILABLE NOW on iTunes and other online retailers
The Interior (Original Soundtrack)
by Edwin Wendler

The Interior is an internet series whose cast was assembled via YouTube audition videos. Independently financed and shot on location in Panama, The Interior tells the gripping story of Bonni and Michael, two newlyweds joining a missionary camp in the middle of the jungle. Their noble intentions and idealism are soon put into question by none other than their mentor, Alan, and his eccentric wife, Gloria. Subsequently, Bonni and Michael embark on a journey which puts them in danger of losing themselves, and each other. The Interior's creators, Helmut Schleppi and Geert Heetebrij, never take sides and never get "preachy", while carefully and intelligently exploring all angles of contemporary missionary work. The production is aided by strong acting, cutting-edge cinematography/editing, evocative sound design, an effective score, and a truly unique main title song.

This soundtrack release includes:
1. the popular main title track, The Gold You Seek, by Alluvial Soil (Mike Ator and Edwin Wendler) in its original version as well as an extended "radio edit" especially created for this album
2. the rap song Escapa, performed by Maximo and Kubanita, written by Edwin Wendler and Maximo, produced by Seville of Rap Illustrated Magazine.
3. score by Edwin Wendler

What makes this online soundtrack release truly special is its 9-page digital booklet (included with iTunes album download) which consists of song lyrics, musical analysis, a note from the director, and more.

Visit The Interior at
Download the iTunes album at

Tuesday, December 02, 2008



5-disc set includes the original music scores and Halo Wars DVD
featuring 4 preview tracks and behind-the-scenes from the recording session

Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc., through its licensing relationship with Microsoft Game Studios, proudly presents Halo® Trilogy – The Complete Original Soundtracks featuring the award-winning original music scores by Bungie Audio Director Martin O’Donnell and Co-Composer Michael Salvatori plus four preview tracks from the forthcoming real-time strategy game Halo Wars™, composed by Ensemble Studios Audio Director Stephen Rippy. Halo Trilogy – The Complete Original Soundtracks is released tomorrow, Dec. 2, 2008, to retail outlets through Nile Rodgers’ Sumthing Else Music Works record label, and for digital download at

Halo Trilogy – The Complete Original Soundtracks contents:

Disc 1Halo: Combat Evolved Original Soundtrack.

Disc 2Halo 2 Original Soundtrack Volume Two.

Disc 3Halo Wars Bonus DVD;

Four preview tracks from the upcoming soundtrack presented in 5.1.

A behind-the-scenes look at the recording sessions set to the Halo Wars main theme music.

“Five Long Years” Opening cinematic of the Halo Wars campaign.

Disc 4Halo 3 Original Soundtrack.

Disc 5Halo 3 Original Soundtrack (cont’d).

Originally created by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios, the Halo franchise is exclusive to the Xbox and Xbox 360 video game and entertainment systems and is optimized for the Xbox LIVE online entertainment network. Halo 3 was released in 37 countries and 17 languages. To date, more than 24.8 million copies of the games in the Halo trilogy have been sold worldwide. For more information, visit

Based on the legendary Halo universe, Halo Wars is a real-time strategy game for the Xbox 360 developed by Ensemble Studios. In campaign mode, command the armies of the UNSC warship Spirit of Fire, with familiar and new UNSC units in its initial encounters against the Covenant, an alien coalition threatening to obliterate mankind. Halo Wars immerses players in an early period of the storied Halo universe, allowing you to experience events leading up to the first Halo title for Xbox. For more information visit

About Nile Rodgers
Award winning record producer Nile Rodgers is one of the most prolific music producers in history. Nile’s production accomplishments include such diverse artists as Diana Ross, Madonna, David Bowie, Duran Duran, The B-52’s, David Lee Roth, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger and top selling game soundtracks such as Halo® 2 Volume One. Records produced by Nile Rodgers have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. As a founding member of the perennial Rhythm & Blues dance band Chic, Nile co-wrote all of their big hits including "Le Freak" and "Good Times", as well as "We Are Family" for Sister Sledge. In addition to records, he has also scored or produced music for numerous films including "Coming to America", "Thelma and Louise", "The Flintstones", "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Rush Hour II," as well as a variety of television shows and commercials. Nile is a board member of several organizations including the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

About Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc.
Since its creation in the late 1990’s by the world-renowned song writer, musician and record producer, Nile Rodgers, Sumthing Else Music Works has become the acknowledged industry leader in licensing and distributing video game soundtracks. Possessing full in-house services worldwide, from creation of original video game soundtracks through physical distribution, Sumthing is partnered with the world’s leading video game developers and publishers including BioWare, Bungie Studios, Capcom, Crytek, Eidos Interactive, Epic Games, Gearbox Software, Microsoft, Mistwalker, Rare, SEGA, Silicon Knights, Sony Computer Entertainment and Ubisoft. Their catalogue of titles includes the best selling video game soundtrack of all time, Halo 2: Volume One, as well as award-winning titles including: Gears of War 2, Fable II, Brothers In Arms, Crysis, Advent Rising, Fable, Gears of War, Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 Volume Two, Halo 3, Hitman: Contracts, Hitman: Blood Money, Jade Empire, Kameo: Elements of Power, Mass Effect, Red Steel, Unreal Tournament 3 and many others.

For Sumthing’s full catalogue please visit and their digital download service at

Sumthing Else Music Works and Sumthing Distribution logos are copyright of their respective companies. All other names of products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Gears of War 2
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Sumthing Else SE-2053-2 (US)
27 Tracks 62:26 mins

Although Kevin Riepl did a very fine job of scoring the original Gears of War game, the generally better-known Steve Jablonsky got the nod for the sequel. Jablonsky has in recent times written some pretty blockbusting music for films like Transformers and Dragon Wars and here, working with the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra, has produced some more powerful stuff in the same vein. Of course, coming from the Hans Zimmer school of film scoring, Jablonsky mixes electronic and choral elements with the orchestra to come up with the familiar what used to be called "Media Ventures sound."
The opening track, "Return of the Omen," gets us off to an ominous choral start; with "Hope Runs Deep" continuing in quite desolate mode, but soon picking up and becoming an heroic mover, with full choral support. The initially stealthy "Green as Grass" follows, but again it picks up and moves along in martial mode; leading to the full-on combat of "Expectations." And plenty more powerful, menacing and heroic action cues follow, like the percussive rhythms of "Finally, a Lead;" the inspirational "Armored Prayer;" the desperate "Hold Them Off," "Derrick Chase"and "They Can Ride em;" the exciting "Hell Breaks Loose," with its almost demonic choral opening; the down-and-dirty "Bedlam;" "Breakneck" and "Racing to Extinction'" as pacy as their titles suggests; the weighty "Unexpected Changes;" and the seemingly unstoppable "March of the Horde," "Unsurmountable Odds" and "Frenzy."
In between, Jablonsky provides suitable tension and genuinely alien atmospheres; a rare reflective moment occurring in "With Sympathy," with its lament for female voice. The penultimate track sees the full-blown return of the main theme, first heard in "Hope Runs Deep;" with a brief pianistic reprise playing us out in "Autumn of Mankind."
I have no hesitation in recommending this as one of the most enjoyable action scores around at the moment, be it for a game, or film for that matter.
Visit for details of all of the label's releases and, if you would prefer, you can download from