SPECTRE by Thomas Newman

Despite having read that the soundtrack is released sometime in November it is now on Spotify and the only reason I can think why is because today is the official UK premier of the much anticipated 007 film.
Not wanting to be too negative, and even though I am a fan of Newman’s scores, I was perplexed when he was given Skyfall and whilst Spectre does the job, it’s not that memorable. Maybe because Skyfall gave us the thunderous theme song by Adele to build on and if so we can’t use Sam Smith’s title song for Spectre as the same excuse [yes, I am in ‘the not so sure/don’t really like’ camp regarding this song.] Not that we need an excuse as it’s a perfectly sound score in parts.
It open’s with a wonderful re-working [or to use modern parlance – deconstruction] of the 007 theme featuring award winning Tambuco who are a Mexican contemporary classical percusssion group.I loved this track have to say, so it was a good start to the soundtrack and stayed that way for the early tracks.

Of course locations are key to a 007 movie’s and The Eternal City is the haunting cue for our introduction to Rome. We arrive at Tangier to the sound of L’Americaine with a hint of danger together with ethnic strains. The 2 strongest cue’s highlight the romantic interest, Donna Lucia has very lush strings whilst Madeleine, who has a complicated background, also has luscious strings but the cue is a little more questioning.
There is also an instrumental version of The Writing’s On the Wall which doesn’t make the actual song anymore attractive but it has a strong Bond sound in it’s orchestration. The lively Tambuco re-appear on Day of The Dead, strikingly different to the rest of the soundtrack but it fits so well.
As for the action cues they are somewhat derivative but do an OK job. We have been somewhat spoilt by Mr Barry and David Arnold, particularly John Barry who made every cue count but here Newman adopts the present day driving force of action cues when I feel the film deserved better.

The score IS a Bond score and after hearing it within the film it works well but it’s not going to be a soundtrack that you listen to a lot and with the rich 007 music heritage we have this is almost a crime.


1. Los Muertos Vivos Estan (featuring Tambuco)
2. Vauxhall Bridge
3. The Eternal City
4. Donna Lucia
5. A Place Without Mercy
6. Backfire
7. Crows Klinik
8. The Pale King
9. Madeleine
10. Kite In A Hurricane
11. Snow Plane
12. L’Americain
13. Secret Room
14. Hinx
15. Writing’s On The Wall (Instrumental)
16. Silver Wraith
17. A Reunion
18. Day Of The Dead (featuring Tambuco)
19. Tempus Fugit
20. Safe House
21. Blindfold
22. Careless
23. Detonation
24. Westminster Bridge
25. Out Of Bullets
26. Spectre (End Title)

Decca Label

INTERVIEW WITH JOE HENSON & ALEXIS SMITH – Alien: Isolation video game

First published: 20th November 2014 in previous Filmic Blog.

Composers of the Alien: Isolation video game.
This first person, survival, horror game was developed by The Creative Assembly and released in October 2014. In keeping with the Alien movies, this new chapter is set in 2137, 15 years after the events of Alien and 42 years prior to Aliens.
The game follows Amanda who is investigating the disappearance of her mother Ellen Ripley. She is transferred to the space station Sevastopol to find the flight recorder of the Nostromo. As we all already know, an alien had terrorized the station and killed most of it’s crew.
The score is ingenious and a true musical nod to Jerry Goldsmiths score from Alien. Having obtained the license to Goldsmith’s score, Joe & Alexis plus Joe’s brother Christian, lifted the scores motifs and expanded them. The result not only re-creates the Alien world and all the tension which goes with it, you get to hear the original score motifs in a completely different way.
This is on top of the Henson and Smith tension filled score and SFX. It’s a heady mix. And an extra bonus is that musicians who played the original score at it’s recording were also part of the orchestra for Alien:Isolation. Sadly the score has not been released, here’s hoping that it will become available soon.


Firstly I would like to say that having heard the sound clips – it is just fantastic how you have taken the Jerry Goldsmith original Alien score motifs and expanded them. It is great to hear them in a new way. How did you feel working from a Goldsmith score?

Joe Henson: There is always a little bit of ‘blank page’ fear when you first start a project – especially something as well-known as Alien. Once we got started it was amazing, being able to use the motifs and sounds that we had always loved.

Alexis Smith: Yes, it was a bit intimidating at first, but as the music we were doing was to be mostly interactive, and the gameplay was a lot longer than a film, we knew that we would be going in a lot of other directions as well, not just using his score.

Hearing the expanded motifs they do capture the doom laden horror of Alien, was it difficult to broaden them out and then to add to them?

J. We worked with my brother Christian on this score. The first thing he did was a piece where he took all the licensed Jerry Goldsmith cues and expanded them out to an 8-minute suite. We then used elements from that suite throughout the game.

A. As we all knew the score well beforehand, and studied it in even more detail at the beginning of this project, it wasn’t difficult as such, we just wanted to make sure we did it right. There are a lot of sounds and textures as well as motifs that instantly put you in the Alien world – the col legno snaps through tape delays, the atonal aleatoric string chatter. We used these kinds of sounds to unify the score.

Altogether how much music did you record for the game?

J. We recorded a huge amount of music. As well as the actual score we also recorded a lot of assets to be used during the process of writing the soundtrack. It is almost impossible to mock up the aleatoric orchestral elements, so we recorded a lot of this first that we then made into bespoke sample libraries.

A. We ended up with about 3 hours of music that was used in the game though.

I was fascinated to see that the developers did not want a ‘static score’ and that they had a Context Driven Sound Engine. Did that make any difference to how you put the score together?

J. You always have to keep it in mind, but we try and not let the implementation of the technology impede the compositional process too much. In the end it is just music, but it’s being delivered in a different way.

A. It’s a puzzle, sometimes quite a complicated one. A lot of composers get put off by this, but we quite enjoy it.

How much music did you compose for the actual game? [repeat]

J. Actual in-game music was about 3 hours. The gameplay is 10-20 hours so it is played back by the system in ways you will sometimes never hear twice. It is so interesting in games that we sometimes won’t hear the music in its final form until we sit down and play the game on release.

Seeing the gameplay videos it works brilliantly, are you happy with it?

A. We are all very proud of both the music and being involved with such an amazing project. There will always be things that we’d love to go back and tweak, but it is amazing playing the game now seeing the Alien and music working together. It still scares us too!

Official website at www.alienisolation.com
Alexis & Joe’s creative, musical partnership is called The Flight.
More info at http://www.theflightmusicofficial.com/

AESINO’S INOCENTES [Innocent Killers] by Pablo Cervantes – Soundtrack Review

Asesino’s Inocentes [Innocent Killers] is a Spanish comedy, crime movie released [in Spain] in July of this year. I have chosen to mention this score because it took me by surprise, pleasantly I might add. It’s by Spanish composer Pablo Cervantes who has done a lot of work in TV, documentaries, shorts and movies.

It is ludicrously easy to compare film scores to other works or scorists but in this case it’s not laziness, it’s a compliment as this fine soundtrack has serious Hermmannesque layers including dark & sinister tones and low strings of danger. In fact track 3, Asaltado [Assaulted] is strikingly similar to the shower scene in Psycho.
There are more atmospheric and prickly skin moments in measured cello’s and violins and muted brass which pull you into the orchestra which is going full tilt. Track 4: Quiero Morir-Dinero-Lo Matamos Nosotros in itself is a masterclass of orchestration and composition.
There is pace and punctuation in El Puente [Bridge] complete with driving kettle drums and chimes and it’s not until T12 Fin Jucio Enterro that calm descends with piano and oboe in a piece which tells us that the story has come to an end. There is no theme to follow in this score but there is a tenuous 8 note leitmotif throughout. The end comes with  a beautiful, swelling cresendco. This is going to be a toughie trying to choose which track to play in Filmic!

Do not ignore this soundtrack, it’s a golden oasis in a somewhat parched year of orchestral scores.



Friday Night Classics: STAR WARS – Birmingham Symphony Hall 16th October 2015

What a splendid night, not only was I in my favourite Concert Hall listening to the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra playing film music but I also got to meet fellow IFMCA member Tim Burden who was the Concert Presenter & Announcer. The music was to be tracks form all 6 Star War film composed by maestro John Williams

Pretty much full!
A packed Symphony Hall
A couple of strange looking guys I met before the concert!








The hall was pretty much full when the white dinner jacketed Birmingham Symphony Orchestra took their places followed by the 90 strong chorus seated on a raised balcony above them. The lights dimmed, someone from the audience shouted an enthusiastic ‘yes’, then we heard the voice of Tim saying the immortal line:- ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far way …. and we were off with the 20th Century Fox Fanfare followed by one of the greatest film themes ever ‘Star Wars’. Surely everyone knows this tune note for note?
Voice Actor Marc Silk was the evenings presenter. 16 years ago Silk worked with George Lucas in The Phantom Menace. He took us through the Star Wars journey. I’m not going to attempt to review each track as all Star Wars fans know them better than I – this I witnessed by the guy who was sitting next to me tapping out every melody/note on his knee! But there were glorious highlights which have to be mentioned:-
Flag Parade from The Phantom Menace – has such a historical aura to it which goes in line with George Lucas wanting the score to have a classic ‘Hollywood’ feel to it. The luscious strings from Anakin’s Theme and the comedic tones and timing of Adventures of Jar-Jar Binks.
Duel of the Fates opened with terrific vocal force from the choir and made much use of the percussion section. It was absolutely thrilling! Onto one of the most hummed pieces in film music history, The Imperial March – after playing this Marc made sure that the percussion section got a round of well deserved applause. And then the oddly out-of-place fun track The Cantina Band which harked back to Williams jazz days.

Another stand out track was Princess Leia’s Theme. A superb character cue which is beautifully symphonic. This was followed by another well-known cue, Throne Room played with such vigour by the BSO. As Silk said afterwards ‘it’s goose bumps all the way”. He also introduced the next track saying ‘from the best Star Wars film EVER. The Empire Strikes Back’ which the audience seemed to agree with as we launched into The Asteroid Field.
Parade of the Ewoks was fun watching it performed live and I think the strange percussion I saw played was Glockenspiel bells [I may be wrong here!). The end came way too soon and Silk said he hoped we had enjoyed ‘an extremely joyous evening of music’ … yes to that! He also gave well deserved praise to Tim who pulled the concert together.
The last track was a treat as it is rarely performed live and we were treated to The Forest Battle from Return of the Jedi. Thankfully we did get an encore, a second sounding of the Star Wars Theme, of course!

One other mention I need to make is the extensive programme notes, these no doubt made the fans happy. It also included a letter [below] sent from John Williams sent to the BSO and it’s conductor Michael Seal. I just wished it hadn’t of all happened in the blink of an eye!



20th Century Fanfare
Star Wars Theme
Episode 1: The Phantom Menace – Flag Parade
Anakin’s Theme
Adventures of Jar-Jar Binks
Duel of the Fates
Episode 2: Attack of the Clones – Across The Stars
Yoda’s Theme
The Imperial March
Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith – Battle of the Heroes
Episode 4: A New Hope Here They Come!
The Cantina Band
Princess Leia’s Theme
Throne Room
Episode 5: The Empire Trikes Back The Asteroid Field
Episode 6: Return of the Jedi Luke and Leia’s Theme
Parade of the Ewoks
The Forest Battle



No Escape – Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders


Bertrami and long term collaberator Buck Sanders [billed as the ‘musical experiementor’ – think scratchy, other world sounds on The Homesman soundtrack], have put together a solid soundtrack to the action/thriller movie No Escape where a family move to another country and find themselves in the centre of a political coup.
A sense of country is insinuated in the first track called The Presidents Toast, could it be his breakfast menu or is he seriously in danger? The latter we think when the tones of Eastern music pervade.
It’s mostly a series of short, atmospheric cues as is usually the case with action scores but here and there Sanders does his magic as in the track Coup Coup Roux, a knife-edge track which includes a sound of unknown origin! I couldn’t figure out what it was at all.
The score is a fusion of bass and percussion, ethnic hints and embellished with very weird sounds. I am a sucker for percussion so enjoyed Need A New Roof. Apart from it sounding like left over bits from Beltrami’s score to Snowpiecer, it has the slimmest of a musical thread running through it which holds it together giving the film plenty of intrigue.There is quite a bit of ‘sonic stretching’ together with short burst of what I can only call a distorted, antique banjo!

Not to be written off as a muddled action score, this has more than it’s fair share of worthwhile moments.

1. The President’s Toast (2:23)
2. No Escape (1:29)
3. Little Dreamer (1:07)
4. Jack Wakes (1:08)
5. Market Research (1:53)
6. Coup Coup Roux (2:10)
7. Jack Be Nimble (1:59)
8. Where’s Lucy (0:56)
9. Pool Cue (1:33)
10. Rooftop Refuge (1:15)
11. Need a New Roof (2:00)
12. Roof Toss (3:19)
13. Map Quest (2:35)
14. Atavistic Jack 5. The Bike Thief (1:38)
16. Embassy Issues (1:52)
17. Annie Surrenders (3:24)
18. Fighting For Annie (2:04)
19. Brothel Refuge (1:40)
20. Under the Stars (1:58)
21. 007812 (3:06)
22. Shall We Gather at the River (2:45)
23. Gunshy (2:10)
24. South of the Border (2:23)
25. Border Refuge (2:12)
26. The Story of Lucy (1:31)
27. Take Care Of You [song] (J. James) (3:39)
Released by Lakeshore Records