After drooling over Daniel Pemberton’s score for Guy Ritchie’s movie The Man From From Uncle, I was keeping my fingers tightly crossed that I would not be dissapointed with his score to Steve Jobs. . . I wasn’t, I am pleased to report.
Directed by Danny Boyle and starring Michael Fassbender this is a biopic of a different sort as you would imagine for a person as complex as Jobs. It’s set back stage before 3 different Apple Key Note speeches all given by Jobs. Pemberton’s fine score is not complex, it’s somewhat like the uncluttered and to-the-point soundtrack’s cover which in itself is based on Apple’s clear and low key text and image presentation.
In fact I couldn’t really give a one word summary of the score except that it really, and I mean really fits the subject matter. It’s mostly electronic and simplistic with a little opera thrown in.
The Musicians Play Their Orchestra… is simply that, an orchestra tuning up to convey how Jobs saw himself as the conductor of all that he built. It’s Not Working sounds like an engine at work in the background, it is mesmerising, not really a track which builds up or even arrives but it is so easy to hook into. One of the stand out tracks is Jack It Up, here the machine sounds more productive and through the track’s rhythm we are marching through with twisted electronic sounds where the simple 2 note structure sounds more strident.
The Circus of Machines Overture is a refined operatic piece and is simply wonderful. Change The World has a faster tempo to befit the world domination of Apple products, it’s another electronic track that builds and builds and which sounds a little like Tangerine Dream. The Circus of Machines II [Allegro] is a second glorious operatic cue but it’s in Revenge that we hear real tension which positively soars with defiant strings.
I couldn’t imagine any other score fitting a film such as this and eagerly await Mr Pemberton’s next soundtrack assighnment.
1. The Musicians Play Their Instruments…
2. It’s Not Working
3. Child (Father)
4. Jack It Up
5. The Circus Of Machines I (Overture)
6. Russian Roulette
7. Change The World
8. The Skylab Plan
9. …I Play The Orchestra
10. The Circus Of Machines II (Allegro)
12. It’s An Abstract
13. Life Out Of Balance
14. I Wrote Ticket To Ride
15. The Nature Of People
16. 1998. The New Mac
17. Father (Child)
The reviews for director Justin Kurzel’s film Macbeth are as glowing as they are for his brother Jed’s outstanding soundtrack. It’s drapes over the film like a blanket of musical mist, you can almost feel it rolling over the icy hills.
The first track Child Pt 1 has a discordant violin rising through the stringed bleakness, it’s a tired moan of despair which needs to be let out but has no-where to go. It has your attention and you know exactly where you are. Child Pt 2 envelopes you with with it’s nagging pulse at the forefront and certain dread in the back-based drum.This time the discordant notes are more pronounced and they chill.
It’s not laziness to admit it’s difficult to review each track because the changes in structure of the soundtrack as a whole are very subtle and it’s best heard complete to experience the darkness. There is no melody to follow, you just have to let go and let the whole thing sweep over you.
I will give a mention to Dunsinane – “Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill Shall come against him.” A cue with a rhythmic strand in it’s violin which rises to challenging but measured percussion. The strings almost sounding like bagpipes.
This is not a background score, you will not be listening to this for relaxation. I have not yet seen the film but I am sure it fits the film like a glove. It’s inspired and gets my vote for one of the best and innovative soundtracks of this year.
1. The Child, Pt.1
2. The Child, Pt.2
3. The Battle
4. First Apparition
5. Supernatural Soliciting
6. The Letter
7. The Dagger
9. Banquo’s Death
10. Second Apparition
14. The Yellow Leaf
15. Turn Hell Hound
Ian Honeyman has written music for TV, short films and feature films working alongside Klaus Badelt on Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. His latest soundtrack is for the German TV thriller Meister des Todes which is based on the real life situation of German arms companies illegally selling to conflicted areas of Mexico.
As Ian informed me “The score is made to complements the “real” nature of the film with an immediate, unusual sound, recorded on unusual instruments such as rebeca, tenor violin, oud, and a variety of guitars, pianos and other traditional instrument played in non-standard ways (bowed, scraped, tapped) in various studios around Los Angeles, with some orchestral and percussive elements.”
This is a moody and atmospheric score with no discernible theme or motif, but what is gripping are the sounds Honeywell manages to get from his array of stringed instruments. Going To Mexico positions the films subject matter with vibrant percussion building to an orchestral sweep and a discordant ‘scratchy’ string sound.
Riot starts with a jazzy, jangly [the only word for it] guitar which certainly rattles the nerves. It follows through with pulsating electronica which at times has a video game feel to it, the cue sustains well in it’s 8 minute 18 seconds duration.
Full Auto is very cool again with disturbing string sounds and driving percussion. I like the background feel to the string pieces, it’s displacing and very eerie and certainly adds to the claustrophobic mood of this soundtrack.
It’s an accomplished and well mixed score and I’m looking forward to the next Honeywell endeavor.
Digitil download from Amazon and iTunes
1. Going To Mexico (2:16)
2. Riot (8:18)
3. Back Home (1:51)
4. Guerrero (2:42)
5. Protest (3:37)
6. Delivering Guns (3:06)
7. Full Auto (2:55)
8. Repentance (1:08)
9. Shooting (2:02)
10. Traitors (2:50)
11. One Of The Boys (4:07)
12. For Your Own Safety (1:26)
13. Beach Demonstration (1:28)
14. Victor And Penelope Killed (1:30)
15. I Have Nightmares (2:05)
16. Worldwide Demand (3:16)
17. German Boy (3:10)
18. Blame (2:16)
19. King Of Guns (4:49)
20. Everyone Has His Price (2:27)
Don’t listen to the first 2 tracks whilst in the house on your own in the dark – they are doom-laden to excess with dark rhythms full of ‘end of the world’ moments. This is not a negative, it’s just a tad difficult to review this brilliant ‘sound pallete’ of Johannsson’s outside of seeing it set to this powerful film.
It’s an intense score with the most sad cue I have heard this year so far called Desert Music full of aching cello’s. Target was mesmerising, it has a concentration to it with just a sonic, continuous bass punctuated with heavy laden [dare I say it again] doom with a somewhat spidery edge.
In the midst of these brutal tracks comes the poignant Melancholia – an acoustic guitar piece which you cannot fail to be moved by. This score is stripped down to raw emotion and it’s not a soundtrack you would probably listen to again but it demands to be heard.
1. Armoured Vehicle
2. The Beast
3. The Border
6. Desert Music
9. The Bank
13. Night Vision
14. Tunnel Music
17. Soccer Game
18. Alejandro’s Song
I like The Newton Brothers. Each score is different, I can’t yet hear a ‘Newton Brothers sound’ and I feel this is hugely important. Don’t get me wrong with regard to other composers, after all I am and always will be an obsessive John Barry fan and fell in love with his ‘sound’ many years ago. But with Andy Grush and Taylor Stewart [not really siblings] they seem to conjure up scores with no links to previous soundtracks or musical styles to anything else they have done and this is what I am fascinated about.
Take a listen to the rocking’ High School. The hypnotic Oculus and the coolness of Life of Crime to see what I mean. And now comes their latest score The Runner.
A score so still I have to use the word hypnotic again. The Runner is a Nicolas Cage vehicle telling of a flawed politician who, after a catastrophic BP oil spill which he champions, sees his own life come undone after a sex scandal.
This by far is the brothers most emotionally charged score and yet it’s not done with a huge symphonic orchestra and booming brass. It turns and reveals MOSTLY in the single, resonating string of a drobo guitar. A gentle, background piano. Sparse, haunting, and compelling. This is another notch in their growing catalogue.
1. The Oil Spill
2. Main Titles
3. NOLA Arrival
4. Mark Lavin
7. Caving In
8. Rayne Entering
9. The Resignation
11. I’ll Do What I Can
12. The Grant
13. You Need Someone Like Me
14. The Barbecue
15. Father & Son
16. Divorce Papers
17. I Called a Cab
18. I’m Nothing Like You
19. It’s Just Not Working
20. Rayne Has Passed
21. Losing It
22. The Runner
London Philharmonic Orchestra – Conductor Justin Freer
There are not many concerts where you can hear Jerry Goldsmith, Leonard Rosenman, Michael Giacchino, James Horner, George Duning, Sol Kaplan plus a few other composers pieces all in one [magnificent] concert hall but that’s what one of the most successful tv franchise can give. Star Trek has garnered some best of the best composers for not only the tv series but also the many film spin off’s. This was as billed, the ultimate voyage with full orchestra and the most meticulous editing of clips shown on a 70 foot screen. This fast spreading entertainment format is giving a new platform to film music as we know it and it’s exciting!
The first thing I noticed as I took my seat is that I was way underdressed. There was a sea of red, black and yellow varying Star Trek uniforms, and to top that someone [in costume] walked toward his seat shouting the most perfect Klingon though I couldn’t actually tell you what he said. The hall was packed, the lights dimmed and without intro or fanfare we were off with Jerry Goldsmiths Main Title from Star Trek:The Motion Picture.
“Star Trek was difficult for me; I really sweated that one out for ten days, just getting the basic theme’ – Jerry Goldsmith
As the screen fills with images of space the voice of William Shatner booms out telling us about the importance of ‘steering the ship’ brilliantly setting the theme of exploration. One of my favourite cues from the first Trek film is Klingons, being played live it sounded more threatening than ever. 2 B Human is a sweet piece from S.T Insurrection and was played against Spock and Data taking about the choices they made. We meet surely the biggest threat to the intrepid crew ever – the Borg, in ‘Captain Borg’ from S.T. First Contact dark and fiendish cue.
One of two real treats came as Ron Jones took over the baton and conducted the orchestra with his compositions for tv series 3/episode 26 called The Best of Both World Part and received glorious applause from the die hard fans. James Horner’s Epilogue and and End Title from S.T.2:The Wrath of Khan had a comic turn as one of the ‘effects’ within the music was a percussionists spinning round one of those hollow, plastic tubes which children play with – magic! For me the only piece which didn’t sit right with the rest of the programme was ‘Defiant Ending’ from Deep Space Nine. It sounded really out of place.
The second treat was in the form of composer Jay Chattaway this time taking the baton to conduct his composition Close Bonds:The Inner Light Suite from S.T. The Next Generation, a very poignant cue set against clips of crew mates from various S.T. tv shows and films. And it neatly ended with ‘Main Theme from Star Trek: The Original Series’ with a montage of clips and photo’s including Gene Roddenbury, the models & costume makers, make up artists and off set pictures. With bongo drums being played to the hilt this was a thrilling end to the journey and the audience went wild! The precision of such a concert is mind blowing, the editing of each segment having to match the timing of the orchestral piece. It’s a marvel and certainly opens up a new and exciting way to listen to film music.
Here is the full playlist taken from the excellent Programme Guide crammed full of photo’s and essays to keep all Trekkies happy.