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Friday, September 25, 2009


Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher and other short film scores
Music by Ryan Shore
MovieScore Media MMS09018
43 Tracks 65:16 mins

Ryan Shore, nephew of Howard, and a fine composer in his own right, is a regular on the MovieScore Media label, this latest collection of music from the numerous short film he has scored being their sixth collaboration.
Headlining the disc is Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher, a 2004 animated short, based on the comic book American hero, and done in the style of the old '40s serials. There are 7 tracks from the orchestral score, commencing with "News on the March" which, moves along somewhat ominously at first, but takes on more heroic strains as it proceeds. "Bosom of Terror!" is an adventurous action piece. Hands up those of you who can recognise which fragment of a Bond film track the opening of "An Amazon City" strongly reminds of! This is followed by the buoyant choral of "Eval Schnitzler," and then a brief fanfare introduces the episodic conflict of "The Wrench." The tense "Will They, Won't They?" leads into the title track, which concludes the score in fine, almost Western hoe-down fashion.
The second score on the disc is for 2002's Shadowplay, a part claymation/ part animation based on the events of Hiroshima in 1945. The 9 tracks presented here have suitably Oriental shadings, though the title track also features a somewhat jazzy clarinet solo, in addition to sorrowful cello. "Playing Soldier" is a delicate, innocent little Oriental-styled theme; whilst "Alone" is appropriately sorrowful, with expressive flute playing. "Family" is another sad flute-lead piece, the mood continuing in the desolate "Aftermath," where cello returns to take the lead. The brief "Akio's Realization" sees the airy flute return, which continues into "Leaving Home." "Rescuing the Baby" finds both the cello and flute figures combine, with the most gorgeous piece on the album, "A New Home," ending the score in more optimistic fashion.
A Letter from the Western Front dates from 1999 and this time is concerned with World War I. Shore's 7 offerings are again orchestral, commencing with the brief scene-setting title track. "June 9th, 1918" is a nice, pastoral piece of Americana, though it ends on an ominous note. The dark clouds continue to gather in "Wake Up, America," leading into the tense "Preparations." "The Confrontation" builds dramatically to a desperate conclusion, followed by the uplifting strings of "Silence;" the pastoral theme returning for the "End Titles."
The following year's Cadaverous revolves around a necrophiliac medical student, and the 6 tracks presented here commence with the title track, which capably reflects the dark humour of the film; the music continuing on its sneaky, tongue-in-cheek path through subsequent tracks, largely featuring tinkling piano and vaguely Herrmannesque strings
There follows a series of 4 cues presented under the banner of "Music from Various Short Films," commencing with the Japanese-styled "Inherent Darkness and Enlightenment," a rather mournful piece for traditional instrumentation. The snappy and very catchy, but sadly all too brief "Scout's Honor" follows, and then the charming "Little Mary; the selections concluding with the feel-good 'Twas the Night," which is suitably festive and of course features sleigh bells.
Three tracks from the 2003 comedy Prom Night follow and they are all composed in familiar contemporary comedy style.
The final score in this collection presents 6 tracks from another animated short Articles of War, which is one of the composer's most recent efforts, and which is again fully orchestral, having been performed by the Skywalker Symphony. The film deals with events in 1944 this time and focuses on a young American pilot. Shore's 6 cues commence with the lush strings of the title track, followed by the initially airy and energetic "First Solo Flight," the cue taking on a more reverent and ultimately tragic nature as it continues. "October 17th, 1944" is a full-blown action cue. An emotional development of the opening theme accompanies "Dear Dad," with "Dakota Zephyr" featuring a martial drum solo intro to more action scoring, with Williamsesque horns.
The final cue, "The Truth," with its solo trumpet intro and elegiac strings leading to a calm pianistic ending.
This is a really fine collection of film music, which really shows that there is plenty of fine orchestral music to be found even in short animations, and which serves as a splendid showcase for Ryan Shore's work.
Get along to and check out the samples on offer. Ordering details for the CD or download, if you prefer, can also be found there, and you can even check out a trailer for Articles of War though, sadly, it's tracked with Bear McCreary's Battlestar music.


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