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

Friday, January 29, 2010


The Littlest Hobo - Maybe Tomorrow
London Music Works
Silva Screen Records Digital Download SILED4493

I was already an adult before the Canadian TV series The Littlest Hobo first aired in 1979, and therefore it was not part of my growing up experience, but the sometimes tear jerking and sometimes heart warming show about a wandering Alsatian and his adventures ran for six seasons, and was apparently a popular favourite among children of the time.
Consequently, I was until now unfamiliar with its infectiously propulsive title song, here presented on this digital download release, both vocally and instrumentally. The vocalist is Terry Bush, who finally released the song commercially in 2005 on his debut album of the same name. As for the instrumental, trumpet takes the lead here.
If you have fond memories of The Littlest Hobo and its theme song, you'd best get along to and download your copy now.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Music by John Murphy
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1122 (US)
17 Tracks 40:59 mins

La-La Land Records continue their relationship with English-born composer Johny Murphy with their release of his urban-styled score for the armored transport heist movie Armored, which stars the likes of Matt Dillon, Jean Reno and Laurence Fishburne.
Murphy is quoted as saying: "I really loved doing Armored. It's not often that I get let off the leash to get all my guitars and distortion pedals out and smash it down with the director. I fondly remember director Nimrod Antal screaming at me through the noise 'Louder, Bigger, F***k it Up! Superb.' Wish they were all that much fun."
Well, it might have been fun to do, but it's certainly not fun to listen to - at least to my ear. It might well push all the right buttons on film, but it's all very formulaic and boring to listen to on CD.
I've been listening to Murphy's music for a while now, in the constant hope that my fellow countryman will come up with something memorable and lasting, something to show that he really deserves to be getting these assignments ahead of so many fine veteran Hollywood composers, seemingly now out of the loop for some reason; not to mention the many talented composers working on these shores who perhaps would welcome a move into Hollywood movies.
Sadly, I am still waiting.
If this kind of stuff does it for you, you can obtain your copy of the CD from, where you can first sample some tracks if you're not sure. As for me, I just wish I could have that 41 minutes of my life back again!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Eleanor's Secret
Music by Christophe Heral
MovieScore Media MMS09030
24 Tracks 51:58 mins

Following my very recent review of Bruno Coulais' score for the animation Coraline, I now have another delightful offering, this time from Christophe Heral, who is best known for his work for the videogame Beyond Good and Evil.
Eleanor's Secret is a recent French animation, which tells the story of a boy who inherits a large book collection and soon finds the fairy-tales on their pages come to life.
Christophe Heral's music is fully orchestral with solo guitar, piano and cimbalom strongly featured and, if anything, is even more enjoyable than Coulais' effort, largely because, whilst still having its quirky moments, it is more melody-driven.
The album begins with the first appearance of the main theme in " On the Road to Kerity", a wordless plaintive child's voice, swiftly joined by the orchestra creating a fairy-tale-like opening, which is briefly interrupted by cimbalom, before children's choir and orchestra take the cue forward, to be succeeded by a solo piano variation that gives way to a lightly flowing ending, with guitar joining the mix. "On the Beach" follows in tuneful, Latin-styled fashion; whilst "The Truck" moves along busily, with cimbalom returning to add an exotic quality, before things slow right down and take on a nocturne-like feel, before ending on an ominous note.
"Nightmares & Illusions" successfully creates an unsettling and quite menacing feel, aided by whispering voices and dissonant strings, before "Eleanor's Letter" lightens things considerably, with more variations on the main theme. However, the mood doesn't last and cimbalom enters eerily, taking things in a much darker direction again, before a more gentle conclusion.
"Introduction to Mr. Pickall" opens in carefree manner, and ends with a quirky wordless vocal; whilst "Nathaniel: Knight of Kerity" opens nobly and ends in a lush rendering of the main theme, which continues in breezy guitar-lead manner in the brief "The Storm." The carefree mood continues into "The Secret Library," which presents the theme in a kind of world music treatment, before things turn more threatening again.
By now you get the picture and what follows is very much in the same vein, with countless inventive variations on the main theme mixing with darker, menacing music, the latter often featuring cimbalom, low flutes and woodwinds. There's also an exciting action cue "A Crab in the Castle."
Some of the cues are quite short, but others leave room for plenty of development; and Heral continues to inject an exotic quality on occasion, as in "Fujara," with its opening ethnic flute solo.
The penultimate track, "Eleanor's Jewels" reprises a number of themes and motifs from the score before coming to a warm and tender conclusion; with the Latin-jazz of "Pickall" ending the album in uplifting fashion.
Go to for samples and to order the CD (digital distribution is by production company Gaumon-Alphanim on this occasion).

Monday, January 25, 2010


Nate and Hayes (Savage Islands)
Music by Trevor Jones
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1116 (US)
15 Tracks 39:46 mins

Thanks to La-La Land Records, I can cross another off my list of desirable unreleased scores, with their release of Trevor Jones' score to this enjoyable 1983 swashbuckler, starring a relatively young Tommy Lee Jones, Meatballs' Michael O'Keefe and Jenny Seagrove. Unfortunately the bland US title didn't help its domestic box office performance, but I recall seeing it here, under the original title of Savage Islands, in our local cinema, which is sadly no more.
The film carried a score from relative newcomer Trevor Jones, best known at the time for his excellent Dark Crystal music, and The Sender, though he did of course write the original music to Excalbur, which is often overlooked, thanks to the director's reliance on popular classics.
Those familiar with The Dark Crystal will notice a certain similarity in styles when listening to this album, which opens splendidly with the composer's boisterous and adventurous main theme, which is followed immediately by the exciting action of "Escape from Mumi Village/Hayes Fights Mumi Women on Bridge," and then Jones' gorgeous love theme makes its first appearance in "Hayes' and Sophie's Pact/Sophie Disembarks/The Veranda at Night."
Both the main theme and the composer's action theme are reprised in "The Rona Turns About/Pease Attacks Village," with "Ruined Village" sporting a suitably tragic new theme, which continues into and ends with an anguished variation on the main theme in "Nate Sails Off/Nate is Shipwrecked/The Rona Turns About." A more expansive and exotic main theme appears in "Arrival at Samoa," complete with expressive violin solo; leading to a lush reprise of the love theme, which combines nicely with the main theme in "The Parting."
After a tense build, there's more action to be found in "Hayes and the Men Overpower Pease Crew/Chase to the Gunboat," with darker, more menacing fare following in "Gunboat Pursues the Leonora/Gunboat is Boarded."
Jones reprises his brief "German March" in lighter form for "Gunboat is Paralyzed," before a final reprise of his action theme in the "Sword Fight/Escape from Prison," with the main theme bursting forth triumphantly as the forces of good prevail. The "End Credits" bring proceedings to a glorious close, with a final reprise of both main and love themes.
Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by the late Marcus Dods, with barely noticeable electronic support, the music is masterfully performed, as one would expect.
Accompanying the disc is the usual quality colour booklet, with plenty of stills from the film, plus Jeff Bond's detailed notes on both film and score, including the invaluable cue-by-cue guide.
Limited to just 3000 units, I would get along to and maybe sample a track or two before buying your copy of this splendid album.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Music by Bruno Coulais
32 Tracks 59:44 mins

If you haven't already seen Henry Selick's stop-motion animated feature Coraline, just to remind you that it is now available on DVD, and sports a score by three-time Cesar Award winner Bruno Coulais. The composer's music for Les Choristes also earned him an Academy Award nomination and one of his many TV assignments, Sometime in April, also received an Emmy nomination.
Despite the composer's impressive credentials, I have found it difficult to warm to his work thus far, which is often a little unconventional for my tastes. Coulais has a penchant for children's voices in his scores, hence the success of Les Choristes, and again, with Coraline, they are present, in the form of the Children's Choir of Niece, in a number of cues, like "Dreaming;" "Installation;" "The Supper;" "Mechanical Lullaby;" "The Party" and "End Credits," which actually opens the album in a nicely propulsive way; along with his own vocals, and even those of voice cast member Teri Hatcher. Strangely, the children are often singing in French, but largely not songs as such, but random words. Altogether, quite charming, I must say. There's also an original Coulais song, in the form of the quirky, but catchy "Sirens of the Sea."
As for the instrumental offerings (sometimes enhanced by the voices of the Choir of the Hungarian National Radio), they are also often quite quirky, like "Bobinsky;" the zany "Mice Circus;" the Latin rhythms of "Spink and Forcible;" "Wybie that Talks;" and "The Famous Mister B;" but occasionally have a suitably dreamy and fairytale quality, like "Dreams are Dangerous;" the lovely "In the Bed;" "It Was Fantastic;" "Reunion;" and the more menacing "Ghost Children;" "Let's Go;" "Playing Piano;" "Dangerous Garden;" "Coraline Dispair;" "You Know I Love You;" and "The Hand."
In addition to Coulais' score, there is the original "Other Father Song," written and sparsely performed by They Might Be Giants.
At the end of the day, this is certainly the best thing I have heard thus far from the composer and his exposure to US audiences with Coraline can only be of benefit, though it remains to be seen whether he will attain parity with the likes of Alexandre Desplat, who now seems firmly established there, whilst continuing to work in his native France.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Music by Johnny Mandel + songs
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1118 (US)
10 Tracks 31:05 mins

Of very limited interest to film score fans, but possibly to fans of the cult comedy is La-la Land's premiere CD presentation of the Caddyshack soundtrack.
This overrated golfing comedy from 1980 starred Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, and most memorably, a gopher.
The album largely features forgettable and very dated songs, mostly by Kenny Loggins, but also numbers by Journey, The Beat and Hilly Michaels.
The film's score, which was provided by Johnny Mandel, largely consists of "film music in-jokes," including variations on hit movie songs like "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head;" "Somewhere My Love;" and even Mandel's own Sandpiper theme. Only three cues from the score feature on the album: "Divine Intervention," the composer's spin on "Ride of the Valkyries;" "Marina," an attractive Bossa Nova; and "The Big Bang," which features an orchestra/synths take on Tschaikovsky's "1812 Overture."
The usual high-quality booklet accompanies the disc, with extensive notes on the film and its music, including a cue-by-cue guide, all courtesy of Daniel Schweiger.
Order your copy of this limited edition of just 3500 units by going to, where you can first listen to some samples if you wish.


News from Costa Communications:



Film Premieres at Sundance on Saturday, January 23

Hollywood, CA – Award-winning composer JOHN SWIHART whose career has been on a stellar trajectory since writing the quirky score to the cult classic “Napoleon Dynamite” shows his darker side with his suspense-filled score for the psychological-thriller “The Perfect Host.” Swihart's score to the comedy “Youth In Revolt” starring Michael Cera is currently in theatres. Swihart has successfully traversed the musical landscape from performer with the Blue Man Group to scoring numerous films and TV series. “The Perfect Host” will premiere at Sundance on Saturday, Jan. 23 at noon in the Egyptian Theatre.

“The Perfect Host” is about John Taylor, a career criminal who robs a bank and needs to get off the streets. He finds himself on Warwick Wilson’s doorstep posing as a friend of a friend, who’s been mugged and lost his luggage. The film takes the audience on a suspense-filled ride where nothing is as it seems; exposing true human nature and revealing how far we’re willing to go to satisfy our needs.

John Swihart began his musical training at the age of four studying piano; by eight, he added the saxophone, followed by guitar studies at Indiana University --- while still in high school. He then continued his formal musical training of composition, production and engineering at Boston’s prestigious’ Berklee College of Music. After college, Swihart toured with a variety of bands and performed in musical theater in Boston, New York and Los Angeles; simultaneously, he composed for Boston advertising clients and scored student films for Emerson undergrads. When Blue Man Group opened a Vegas show, Swihart was recruited to be a musician in the Grammy nominated ensemble. A year later, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue film composing. His fifth film score as a composer was “Napoleon Dynamite” and he has since scored over 40 films. John Swihart’s other film & TV credits include “New in Town,” “Employee of the Month,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “Greek.”

Screenings of The Perfect Host


event code





11:59 PM Sat, Jan 23


Park City

Egyptian Theatre

+ add to cal

wait list only

9:45 PM Sun, Jan 24


Salt Lake City

Broadway Centre Cinemas V

+ add to cal

wait list only

11:30 PM Fri, Jan 29


Park City

Library Center Theatre

+ add to cal

wait list only

11:30 AM Sat, Jan 30


Park City

Library Center Theatre

+ add to cal

wait list only

Thursday, January 21, 2010


From Top Dollar PR:


Highly Anticipated Orchestral Score Written and Produced by Acclaimed "Battlestar
Galactica" Composer Bear McCreary


New York - January 21st, 2010 -Sumthing Else Music Works, through its licensing
relationship with Capcom®, proudly presents Dark Void(TM) Original Soundtrack featuring
the original orchestral score composed by Bear McCreary for the new third-person
action game Dark Void. Developed by Airtight Studios and Capcom, Dark Void combines
the thrill of soaring jetpack action with unique vertical cover and on-ground combat.
Dark Void marks the first time that Bear McCreary, the composer of popular sci-fi
TV series "Battlestar Galactica," has created a score for a video game. The Dark
Void Original Soundtrack will release on February 9th, 2010 to retail outlets through
Sumthing Else Music Works, and will be available for digital download on Sumthing Digital

Recorded at the renowned Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage and performed by some
of the best orchestral musicians in the world, Dark Void Original Soundtrack features
80 minutes of score hand-picked by composer Bear McCreary. It also includes a special
bonus track, "Theme from Dark Void (Mega Version)," an 8-bit rendering of the main
theme produced by McCreary for Capcom's just shipped downloadable DSiWare(TM) title,
Dark Void(TM) Zero.

Dark Void is a new sci-fi action-adventure game that combines an adrenaline-fuelled
blend of aerial and on-foot combat set in a parallel universe called "The Void".
Players will take on the role of Will; a pilot dropped into incredible circumstances
while on a routine air cargo flight he crash lands into the Bermuda triangle leading
him to be trapped in the Void. This unlikely hero soon finds himself swept into
a desperate struggle for survival at the head of a group called The Survivors. Also
stuck in the Void, these resistance fighters are battling to hold off a mysterious
alien race that plans to threaten Earth.

Capcom will release Dark Void on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system
from Microsoft®, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PC in North America
on January 19, 2010 and across Europe on January 22, 2010. For more information
on Dark Void, please visit

Dark Void Zero, Capcom's long lost prequel to Dark Void and ode to classic 8-bit
gaming, is available today as a downloadable title for Nintendo's DSiWare.

For more information on Sumthing Else Music Works and its complete catalog of video
game soundtracks, please visit and

CD REVIEW - AVATAR - The Videogame

Music by Chance Thomas
Huge Sound/ Ubisoft Promo
14 Tracks 33:15 mins

Probably by now most of you have seen James Cameron's Avatar, with its music score by James Horner, which has received mixed critical reviews; but have you played the game yet?
Horner's music is not used in the game, but instead Chance Thomas has come up with yet another enjoyable work, following on from his excellent King Kong game score.
Quite often the composer chosen for the game version of a big movie has written his score a long time before the movie's composer gets to work, often with quite differing end results. Occasionally however, a composer's instinct takes over, as in the case of King Kong, and he comes up with a score that compliments that of the movie. This is also the case with Avatar, though Thomas had help with the direction of his music on this occasion, for Horner had been involved from the start on the movie, being a long-time collaborator of the director, and he had the unusual opportunity of sitting down with Horner to align their efforts for both film and game.
Chance kindly sent me a CD sampling of his resulting score and, whilst retaining his own individual style, the music is very much cut from the same cloth stylistically, though much lighter on the vocals utilised by Horner, and with electronics more to the fore at times. It does however feature live musicians for a large part, both Hollywood players and also the Northwest Sinfonia.
In the composer's own words, the CD he sent me is " a full-on frontal assault from the opening track. Mostly level-based action music, though I did hide a few cinematic flavored pieces here and there." Fine by me, as I do greatly enjoy action scoring, but in the absence so far of a commercial release for the score, you should of course check out the game for the full impact and variety of the music.
The opening piece, "Aerial Combat Acrobatics" certainly does start things off with a bang, an exciting and powerful action piece for full orchestra, brassy and percussive. The following "Jungle Incident" is suitably tribal, with percussion and ethnic flute work. "Situation Darkens, Hope Endures" starts out grimly, but ends on a defiant note. "Virgin Flight/Finding the Shaman" compliments the approach taken by Horner for similar scenes in the movie, being suitably airy and filled with anticipation, but then becoming quite subdued and mysterious.
It's back to the action for the propulsive "Stampede Hunting;" the percussion-driven "Goliath Recon and Assault," with its suspenseful opening; "Flight of the Banshees," with its breakneck percussion;" and "Conquest of the Still Lands," which steadily moves along its all-conquering pathway.
What can I say about "Mystical gatherings," other than that it is suitably, well, mystical. More action quickly follows, with the exciting "Showdown to Chaos" episodic to start, before gathering momentum; "Boss Fight Falco/End Game," again delivering, before ending on a triumphant note; and "Vaderas Hollow" rounding off said action with a bang.
The penultimate cue, "Na'vi Climax" is a little too electronic for my liking, though enhanced by ethnic percussion and flutes; giving way to "The Na'vi Way/Credits," another mystical piece to start with, but strings soon take over, leading us to a peaceful conclusion.
I always look forward to a new score from Chance Thomas and am never disappointed. For more information on Chance and his work, visit, and to sample his score for the Avatar game, go to

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


From Top Dollar PR:


Brand new orchestrations of the classic Halo themes originally created by Martin
O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori with new original Anime music composed by Tetsuya
Takahashi and Yasuharu Takanashi


New York - January 20th, 2010 -Sumthing Else Music Works, through its licensing
relationship with Microsoft Game Studios, proudly presents Halo Legends Original
Soundtrack featuring the original music from the anime series Halo Legends composed
by Tetsuya Takahashi (Sonic: Night of the Werehog, Resident Evil: Degeneration)
and Yasuharu Takanashi (Genji: Dawn of the Samurai). Presented by 343 Industries

Halo Legends is an unprecedented gathering of the finest talent in Japanese animation
that have drawn together to explore the mystery and action of the Halo universe.

Halo Legends Original Soundtrack will be released on February 9th to retail outlets
through Sumthing Else Music Works,
and will be available for digital download on Sumthing Digital
and iTunes®.

Created by some of the world's leading anime studios including Bones Inc., Casio
Entertainment Inc., Production I.G, STUDIO4°C and Toei Animation, Halo Legends
takes one of the most iconic franchises in science fiction and video games to an
amazing new level; Eight episodes and a stunning range of visual styles shed new
light and epic perspective on Halo lore. Halo Legends will be distributed by Warner
Home Video on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital formats on Feb. 16, 2010.

For more information on Halo Legends, please visit and

For more information on Sumthing Else Music Works and its complete catalog of video
game soundtracks, please visit and


Top Recording Artists Partner with Veteran Game Audio Production Group to Distribute
Playable Music Tracks through Innovative Rock Band Network

Fremont, CA - January 19th, 2010 - WaveGroup (,
best known for it's long history in music game development, including it's contributions
to the original Guitar Hero(TM) and Rock Band(TM) games, today announced licensing
agreements with major recording artists including renowned guitar virtuoso Steve
Vai as well as acclaimed rock bands such as Widespread Panic, Reverend Horton Heat
and Gov't Mule, to distribute their music in Rock Band(TM). WaveGroup will work
with the artists' original recordings, transforming them into playable Rock Band(TM)
tracks, then releasing the music through the Rock Band Network Music Store. WaveGroup
brings years of experience in music game development to the Rock Band Network initiative,
and is working closely with Harmonix Music Systems during the beta period to develop
this new way of distributing music to the masses.

"WaveGroup is the premiere production team for interactive music videogames and
I was thrilled to partner with them on my songs," said guitar icon Steve Vai. "Now
I can jam with people in the comfort of their own plastic!"

Will Littlejohn, President/CEO of WaveGroup commented, "We're honored to be working
with such amazing musicians, and bringing their music to RBN. Our job is to make
the music look and feel authentic in the Rock Band(TM) environment. As musicians
ourselves, we go to great lengths to make the experience of playing these songs
fun and engaging."

WaveGroup is currently working with the following artists as well as other well-known
acts to be announced:

Steve Vai
Widespread Panic
Gov't Mule
Reverend Horton Heat
Stroke 9
Bif Naked
Assembly of Dust
Nick Gallant
Kid Beyond
RX Bandits
Jet Black Kiss
Doug Doppler
Austin Willacy
The Humans
Rain Dogs

WaveGroup is the undisputed leader for audio production in the music game genre,
playing an integral part in the creation of many award-winning projects including
Harmonix's Rock Band(TM), winner of the Best Soundtrack award at the 2007 Spike
TV Video Game Awards; Guitar Hero(TM) II, winner of the Best Soundtrack award at the 2006 Spike TV Video Game Awards; the original Guitar Hero(TM), winner of the
Best Soundtrack for both the 2006 BAFTA Games Awards and the Spike TV Video Game
Awards, 2005 Best of Show at E3, along with 5 D.I.C.E. awards. For more information
on WaveGroup please visit

Monday, January 18, 2010


My heartfelt congratulations to Michael Giacchino on his Golden Globe win for his delightful score to Up - for once, a thoroughly deserving winner; and further congratulations to all responsible for the brave decision of letting Michael's music (and of course the wonderful animation) carry the film's touching married life montage entirely free of dialogue and sound effects.
And may I add that I cannot easily recall the last time most of the nominations in the music category were as deserving. Bravo the Hollywood Foreign Press!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Music by Christopher Gordon
Silva Screen Records SILCD1306
16 Tracks 69:55 mins

Released tomorrow is Christopher Gordon's epic-sounding score for the latest cinematic entry in the currently very popular vampire genre, Daybreakers, a futuristic tale, in which vampires rule, with humans a dying breed - which of course makes for a worrying situation for their predatory rulers.
Highly regarded as a composer of film and concert hall music in his native Australia, Gordon is yet to fulfill internationally the promise displayed in his work for the TV productions of On The Beach and Moby Dick; with his big cinematic break, Master and Commander, turning out to be a hotch-potch of a score - a case of too many cooks. He has however recently won the Australian Film Institute Award for his music to Mao's Last Dancer, and his large orchestral/choral score for Daybreakers promises to make this something of a breakthrough year - at least I hope so.
The disc opens with the dramatic strings of"Immolation," which reach an agonised crescendo, before the cue moves ever more propulsively to a close. "Nightfall" is all rather eerie and ominous, and is followed by the nervy "Humans;" the threatening "Subsider," with its chorus of male voices, pounding timpani and sinuous strings; the powerful "On the Run" with its massive battery of drums and cymbals; and the lengthy and largely gloomy "Blood Lust." A sliver of light shines through the gloom in "The Winery and the Cafe," but is soon overwhelmed by an increasingly menacing chorale, leading to the initially rather tragic, but ultimately quite triumphant "Fermentation Tank."
It's a return to the drums and cymbals with "Ambush," though strings offer grim defiance. "Resurrection" is largely subdued, with just a few more powerful intrusions. Sounding horns play interestingly off one another at the start of "Drought," before an increasingly dissonant choir takes over.
The highlight, for me so far, the weighty "In the Sun" develops a steely determination, reinforced by heavenly choir, before giving way to the initially gloomy, but ultimately inspirational "Blood Brothers." The lengthiest track on the album, the 11-minute "Spreading the Cure" follows, and opens with solo cello, which swings from sombre to impassioned and back again, before those competing horn calls return, heralding, after a brief string interlude, possibly the score's most powerful and exciting passage; initially hugely percussive and then bold and brassy, before choir joins to take the cue to the next level and, after a brief spiritual interlude, a huge dissonant crescendo; the cue ending with a reflective trumpet solo leading to a propulsive and triumphant conclusion.
The penultimate cue, "Daybreak," opens with a powerful drum solo before strings bathe proceedings in light, with triumphant brass support. The solo cello returns to lead the massed strings in poignant reflection, before the cue picks up to provide a real sense of freedom to close.
The album closes with a song, Placebo's version of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," which actually ain't that bad - and, you know, for me to say that about any song included on a soundtrack album is rare praise indeed.
Go to www.silvascreen for further info, samples and to purchase your copy of this fine score on CD or as a digital download.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


The Descent Part 2
Music by David Julyan
MovieScore Media MMS 10001
16 Tracks 41:01 mins

2005's The Descent was an effective, award-winning shocker about a group of cavers who fatally encounter terrifying creatures living deep underground, who proceed to pick them off one by one. Recently, a sequel was released, which continued straight on from that story, with the sole escapee returning with a fresh group of prey to seek out survivors of her group.
The original film's director, Neil Marshall didn't return for the sequel and instead editor Jon Harris took the reins for a film which is, I guess, more of the same. Composer David Julyan did return however, and again I suppose his music is cut from the same cloth. Fortunately for fans of the film and the genre both scores are available on disc, the latest being released by MovieScore Media both on CD and as a digital download.
I have to confess that I am not a fan of Julyan's music, which often combines electronic soundscapes with conventional orchestra and, whilst inventive, is often lacking in strong melodic material, of which I am of course most fond. However, his work on the Descent films is effective and perfectly crafted for its subject matter.
Predictably, I don't own the original Descent album, so cannot comment as to whether the score for The Descent 2 is more of the same, or builds on the groundwork laid down in the original. What I can tell you is that here Julyan's score is appropriately a mix of tension and suspense, sometimes droning along barely audibly, but with the odd poignant moment, as in "Cath is Trapped" and "Rios Leaves a Message;" and savage bursts of cacophonous action for the creature attacks, which are both exciting and chilling; these becoming more abundant in tracks like "The Pit" and "The feeding Chamber," as both film and score build to their conclusion. The album finishes with the weighty title track, which proves Julyan can indeed write an effective melody when it's called for, though it's not necessarily one that will linger long in the memory.
For samples and details as to how to obtain your copy of the album, go to, where you can also view a trailer for the film.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Small Island
Music by Martin Phipps
MovieScore Media MMD0008
23 Tracks 36:28 mins

BBC regular Martin Phipps is responsible for the score to the recent drama series Small Island, based on the Andrea Levy novel of the same name. It's nice to see that MSM seem to have developed a relationship with the BBC, as so much fine music for their productions has sadly gone unreleased in the past. It is hoped that this will now not continue to be the case.
But back to Small Island, and Phipps has produced a conventional orchestral score, but with a Jamaican twist. Opening track "Mother Country" has an easy, travelling quality, with guitar adding that island feel; and is followed by the piano-lead, optimistic, if restrained "Bernard." The brief "War" is suitably grave, with "Present Day" making an optimistic return with the laid-back island feel of "Present Day," the central theme of which is to appear again in later tracks. Tragedy follows with "Hurricane," whilst "A Fine Joke" flows positively after a restrained start.
In subsequent tracks, Phipps' music continues to swing between the aforementioned optimistic, island-influenced sounds, and more serious, dramatic, and sometimes heart-tugging underscore, with just a touch of humour thrown in. Overall, it is fine melodic music, where practically every track has something to offer, though the spare piano solo of the final track "Humming Bird" does end things on something of an anti-climax.
Available as a digital download only, go to for details, as well as a trailer for the show.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


From Costa Communications:-



Los Angeles, CA – Award-winning French composer BRUNO COULAIS’ imaginative score to director Henry Selick’s CORALINE continues to garner critical acclaim. Coulais’ score takes the audience on a whimsical, beautiful yet eerie journey through CORALINE, a bizarre and darkly fantastic stop-motion film. For CORALINE, Coulais combines unusual rhythmic patterns, elegant string arrangements, piano, a children’s choir singing random French words and eclectic sounds.

European maestro Bruno Coulais has received three César Awards (France’s equivalent of the Oscar®), including for LES CHORISTES, which earned Coulais an Academy Award® nomination. Coulais has scored many television series and received an Emmy® nomination for his work on the mini-series SOMETIMES IN APRIL.

Coulais began his musical education on the violin and piano, aiming to become a composer of contemporary classical music; eventually Coulais gravitated towards film music. The largest turning point in Coulais career came when he worked with directors Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou on the documentary MICROCOSMOS; this film was very successful and made Coulais one of the most sought after composers in French film music.

Coulais' musical style varies between different projects but there are some constant visible factors, including his taste for opera and for human voice (in particular that of children). Bruno Coulais’ recent projects include the French comedy LUCKY LUKE, Disney Nature’s OCEANS and the French drama VILLA AMALIA.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


From Top Dollar PR:-




Award-winning composers Cris Velasco (God of War
series, Clive Barker's Jericho) and Mike Reagan (God of War series, Conan) have
created the original music score for THQ's highly anticipated new action adventure
title DARKSIDERS(TM). Developed by THQ in-house studio Vigil Games, DARKSIDERS puts
players in the role of War, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The dramatic
score features 60 minutes of original music composed by Velasco and Reagan and was
recorded with a full choir at the world renowned Skywalker Sound Studios.

Jeremy Robins, audio director at Vigil Games, commented, "Mike and Cris have delivered
a score that not only encompasses a character as epic as one of the four horsemen,
but helped define it as an IP."

Victor Rodriguez, music director at THQ, added, "Cris and Mike bring the emotion
with their unique, highly visceral musical score."

In DARKSIDERS players will explore a world set 100 years after the biblical Apocalypse,
traveling through expansive dungeons, battling demons and angels and striking deals
with unsavory characters in an epic quest to restore the balance between Heaven
and Hell. DARKSIDERS is scheduled to release in North America on January 5th, 2010
and launches in the UK on January 8th, 2010. For more information please visit

THQ, Darksiders, Vigil Games and their respective logos are trademarks and/or registered
trademarks of THQ Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Monday, January 04, 2010


The Princess and the Frog
Music by Randy Newman
Walt Disney Records 456 7492 (EU)
17 Tracks

In these days of computer animated films, it's good to know that one can still find a few 2-D animations around, and of course who does one most associate with quality animated features, but good old Walt Disney. Their latest offering, The Princess and the Frog, from the creators of The Little mermaid and Aladdin, opens in UK cinemas on 5th February, with the soundtrack album released a few days earlier on the 1st. The music is composed by Disney regular Randy Newman and, with the film set in New Orleans, could there really have been a better choice? After all, one of Newman's first original scores was for Ragtime and he has oft proved he has a natural flair for jazz.
The soundtrack album features ten original songs featured in the film, most written by Newman and largely performed by the film's voice cast. One however, "Never Knew I Needed," performed by Ne-Yo, is not the work of the composer and sadly it shows, being totally at odds with the rest of the album. Fortunately it is the lead track on the album, so can be quickly skipped over. The Newman songs mix jazz with zydeco, blues and gospel, and are a pretty catchy bunch all told; whilst his instrumentals, which make up the final seven tracks, perfectly compliment the songs, utilising their melodies here and there.
"Fairy Tale/Going Home" is for the most part light and tentative, with an instrumental reprise of the ballad "Ma Belle Evangeline" to finish. "I Know This Story" is another understated track, but is followed by the slightly livelier "The Frog Hunters/Gator Down," which ends with a traditional-styled tango. "Tiana's Bad Dream" opens with an airy waltz, but takes a somewhat sad turn before becoming strident and menacing. An airy instrumental variation on the aforementioned ballad opens "Ray Laid Low," before a brief vocal reprise of "Almost There" leads to a jazzy source instrumental closer. "Ray/Mama Odie" is again a little understated, but movies along jauntily throughout; with "This is Gonna Be Good" closing the album in celebratory fashion.
The disc is enhanced and if loaded on to your PC should enable you to access bonus interview footage, an image gallery, and the music video for that awful opening song. I say should, because I couldn't access it on my copy, no matter how I tried.
Accompanying the disc is a colourful booklet, featuring stills from the film, plus lyrics to all the songs and full musical credits.

Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 - THE YEAR IN FILM MUSIC (at least what I heard of it!)

May I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year - one that's filled with more great screen music - both old and new.

As we bid 2009 farewell, I thought I'd just spare a few moments to look back on all the music I have reviewed over the past year and list the most enjoyable releases I've covered (including the month you can find it on the blog), plus mention some scores and recordings I haven't been sent to review, or that I've heard on film. I hope you will understand that, much as I would have loved to review some of these for you (where available), I do have a life away from this blog and just can't cover everything, having to limit myself to product furnished for review.

Most Enjoyable New Score Recordings (in no particular order)

Underground - Stuart Hancock MovieScore Media (June)
Gettysburg: The Speech That Saved America - Alan Williams Silverscreen (July)
Battlestar Galactica: Season 4 - Bear McCreary La-La Land (Aug)
Torchwood: Children of Earth - Ben Foster Silva Screen (Aug)
Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher & others - Ryan Shore MovieScore Media (Sept)
The Crimson Wing - Cinematic Orchestra Walt Disney (Sept)
Viva Pinata - Grant Kirkhope Sumthing Else (Sept)
Red Cliff - Taro Iwashiro Silva Screen (Oct)
Up - Michael Giacchino Walt Disney (Oct)
Merlin Series 2 - Lane/Stevenson MovieScore Media (Dec)

New Scores Heard But Not Reviewed, But Recommended (* no recording available)

Knowing - Marco Beltrami
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. - Tom Salta
Excelsius - Ernest Troost
Order of War - Jeremy Soule
Superman Batman Public Enemies - Christopher Drake * (as yet)
IL2 Sturmovik - Birds of Prey - Jeremy Soule
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - Greg Edmonson
A Christmas Carol - Alan Silvestri
Amelia - Gabriel Yared
Avatar - James Horner

Most Enjoyable Recordings of Older Scores - Original or Re-recorded (in no particular order)

Batman: The Animated Series - Walker et al La-La Land (Jan)
Time After Time - Miklos Rozsa Film Score Monthly (Mar)
Wuthering Heights - Michel Legrand La-La Land (Apr)
Pope Joan - Maurice Jarre Harkit (May)
Dr Kildare - Goldsmith, Sukman etc. Film Score Monthly (May)
Twilight Zone - The Movie - Jerry Goldsmith FSM (May)
Dracula A.D. 1972 - Mike Vickers Buysoundtrax (Jun)
Airplane! - Elmer Bernstein La-La Land (Jun)
Dr Who & The Daleks/Daleks Invasion Earth Silva Screen (Sept)
Exodus - Ernest Gold Tadlow (Sept)

Older Scores Heard But Not Reviewed, But Recommended

Day of the Dolphin - Georges Delerue
The Black Stallion Returns - "
Charge of the Light Brigade (re-recording) - Max Steiner
Hanover Street - John Barry
One Little Indian - Jerry Goldsmith
Lonely Are The Brave - "
The Journey of Natty Gann - James Horner
Honey' I Shrunk The Kids - "
Love With The Proper Stranger/A Girl Named Tamiko - Elmer Bernstein
Back To The Future - Alan Silvestri

So what about you? What were your favourites of 2009?