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

Friday, January 14, 2011


OK, so you may have been wondering why I have been AWOL for the past week or so. Well, due to unfortunate circumstances, I have been shaken into re-evaluating my life. As you will know, if you've been following my blog, I have been struggling for a long time to keep up with the reviewing, what with work and health problems and the thing is, I've been putting so many other things off for a "rainy day" and have now come to realise that if that "rainy day" ever arrives, it might be truly "rainy day" and I might not then be in a position to do them anyway. So, the time has come to make changes and, after more than 30 years of writing about screen music, I think the time has come to stop. It's not that I've become disillusioned with the art or anything like that. No, there's still plenty of fine music being written out there, and an abundance of older scores are finally seeing the light, so times remain interesting and exciting.
So, it hasn't been easy to make the decision to quit, but I feel that it's no good continuing in a half-hearted fashion. It just isn't fair to anyone. So this is my final post and below you will see a brief roundup of all the things I have not gotten around to reviewing, just to alert you to the fact that they are out there.
I want to conclude by thanking all the record labels, composers and their publicists who have so generously furnished me with news and music over the years, and of course all of you who have taken the time to read my ramblings. I leave thinking, rightly or wrongly, that I haven't done a bad job for someone with a love of cinema and its music, but with no musical training. I don't know how it works, but hope Blogger will allow the site to remain open as a source of reference, for a while at least.
So goodbye and good listening!

After nearly a year of not hearing from them, KeepMoving Records have a couple of new CD releases now available. Firstly, we have St. George Shoots the Dragon, featuring Aleksander Randjelovic's music for this World War I drama, the most expensive Serbian film ever. It's a fine orchestral score performed by the Pro Arte Orchestra of Belgrade, though don't be expecting bombast, as the anti-war nature of the film demanded a more intimate, sympathetic accompaniment.
The other release is of Jorgen Lauritsen's music for Strings, director Aders RonnowKlarlund's 2004's puppet fantasy. It's another big orchestral score, performed by Danish Radio Sinfonietta, enhanced by ethnic voices, solo soprano and various instrumental soloists.
Both releases are accompanied by colourful and informative booklets and anyone ordering St. George will also receive a bonus CD of the video game soundtrack Genesis Rising. For further details of both these releases, together with samples, go to If you haven't yet acquainted yourself with KeepMoving's releases, you should definitely check them out as there's some fine music to be heard, and just to remind you that reviews of many of their albums can be found by searching this blog.

I shall be sorry to miss out on La-La Land's future releases as they continue to resurrect many great scores from the past, often in wonderful expanded editions, with splendid accompanying booklets, as well as releasing great contemporary fare like their many Bear McCreary scores and music from animated movies. Anyway, their latest batch include expanded releases of Danny Elfman's Batman Returns, Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and John Williams' Home Alone. Batman Returns features the complete score on disc one, continuing on disc two, with the addition of alternate cues and original album cuts. Whereas Elfman's original Batman score was largely straightforward, and often suitably bombastic and Herrmannesque, the inclusion of complicated characters like The Penguin and Catwoman required new and versatile material, including carnival-like music and a slinky string theme for the latter, whilst of course retaining the composer's original Batman theme. This album is limited to 3500 units.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier features the original film tracks on disc one, with the 1989 album release tracks on disc two, together with sic additional music cues. Goldsmith returned to the franchise, having composed the score for the first Star Trek movie and, as well as reprising his main and Klingon themes from that film, composed some memorable new themes, "A Busy Man" actually being reprised in his later scores in the series. There are 5000 copies available of this edition. Finally, Home Alone, showed John Williams' versatility as a composer (if anyone had any doubts). This was no sci-fi/fantasy blockbuster, but a comedy about a small boy beating up burglars and it's Christmas setting lead to one of the composer's most joyful scores, with new seasonal songs (written with Leslie Bricusse) that have taken their place in the repertoire, and plenty of energetic action scoring. This single disc presentation features much previously unreleased material, together with six additional music cues, in this 3500 unit edition. All three albums are of course accompanied by the usual splendid booklets, with copious informative notes and plenty of colour stills from the films.
In addition to these, La-La Land have also given first-time releases to James Horner's score for the 1995 noir Jade and John Morris's music for the 1986 Gene Wilder comedy Haunted Honeymoon. Jade is a fairly brief score at 26 minutes and mixes orchestral and electronic elements, with a small band of musicians playing ethnic instruments like Shakubachi, Erhu and Chinese Flute. The score is very east meets west in flavour, and the five bonus tracks that complete the disc mostly feature Chinese source music, though there is also an excerpt from Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps, and Loreena McKennitt's "The Mystic's Dream," which plays an important part in the score. This album is limited to 3500 units.
Haunted Honeymoon mostly plays it straight, though there are one or two moments of comedic writing to be found, with Morris employing a traditional Hollywood Gothic sound, including organ. This really is a previously unknown gem (to me) and a very welcome release indeed, but it is limited to just 1200 units, so you'd best hurry to grab your copy. Again, both releases are accompanied by the usual high quality booklets.
Go to for all the above albums, where you can first listen to samples before ordering.

Silva Screen Records have announced the 7th February release of Martin Phipps' score for Rowan Joffe's adaptation of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock. Described as a"dark orchestral score," I would say that it is in fact much more interesting than it sounds, being really quite quirky and offbeat and quite a nice surprise to me. This is well worth checking out if you like scores that seem to defy convention. Will of course be available from

It's rather sad that I have only just made acquaintance with composer Winifred Phillips, having reviewed her fine music for the Legend of the Guardians game but anyway, she kindly sent me links to two more of her game scores; firstly, for Sim Animals, which is really quite delightful. Although it is synthetically produced (with credit to Winifred's close ally Winnie Waldron), it mostly has a light and fluffy, woodwinds-based feel, which is very uplifting, even if the inclusion of bird and animal sounds on many tracks is slightly distracting. You can read a full review at The second score is for Spore Hero and is much more of a conventional synth score, with, after a bright start, a good deal of dark, almost Gothic-styled material, before ultimately achieving Media Ventures-like heroics. You can read a full review at Both albums are available from Keep up with Winifred and her music at
Another composer I had only just connected with is Benedikt Brydern, he having kindly allowed me to review his score for The Pagan Queen. He has another album, out at cdbaby and shortly at iTunes and Amazon, featuring tracks from his score for an independent movie Out Patient, released a few years back, a mysterious drama featuring Justin Kirk of Weeds. Benedikt remains fond of the main theme he wrote, and describes the score as "dark, melancholic and melodic." I've given it a quick listen, and can highly recommend this strongly melodic work, with a versatile main theme, performed at times by piano and flute, and transformed into a lovely waltz at one point. There's even a dramatic aria, performed by solo soprano. It's well worth checking out. Follow Benedikt and his work at

Publicists Costa Communications have for several years been providing me with press releases, albums and links to their clients' works, for which I am very grateful, the latest score to have come my way being Christopher Young's music for The Black Tulip, directed by Sonia Nassery Cole, about a family who open a restaurant in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban, only to find themselves targeted by elements of the old regime. As one might expect, Young's score is very ethnic in character, and not to the liking of my western ears. But, if you like that sort of thing, this may well be your bag. Whatever, it certainly shows the composer's versatility. Unfortunately, I do not know at present whether the score will have a commercial release so, for now, you'll have to catch the film to hear it.
Finally, just to let you know that Tadlow Music have a new look website, so get along to to check it out.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


So I took a few days off. This was partly because I was working on a personal project, but also because I did it - I finally caught up with the backlog of CDs and suddenly found myself with nothing left to review. Anyway, I've since received a number of releases, including a big batch of La-La Land's latest releases and this is where I start:-

Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1160 (US)
13 Tracks 42:22 mins

Taking brief time out from releasing all those excellent expanded editions and premieres of past scores, La-La Land Records here release Harry Gregson-Williams's music for the recent runaway train thriller Unstoppable, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine (the new Captain Kirk), a film that my brother informs me ticks all the right boxes.
Utilising synths, samples and a handful of musicians: Heitor Pereira and Tony Morales on electric guitars; Martin Tillman on electric cello, Hugh Marsh on electric violin and the composer himself on piano; and with the assistance of Justin Burnett, Gregson-Williams' score is naturally largely propulsive, often in a tense, electronic-pulsed/percussive fashion, as can immediately be heard in the opening "Stanton, PA." For our heroes, Frank and Will, the composer offers sympathetic scoring for strings and piano, but even the quieter moments offer an underlying propulsiveness.
Amidst all the tension, the music does of course break free in the more action-packed sequences, where the guitars and percussion really come into their own, culminating in the lengthy "The Stanton Curve," with "Who Do I Kiss First?" providing the appropriate sense of relief.
To sum up, it's a very contemporary sounding score, not really my cup of tea, but I am sure it serves its purpose well enough.
Get along to www.lalalandrecords/ for your copy.