L.A. CONFIDENTIAL Vinyl Release REVIEW – Jerry Goldsmith

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In January of this year Varese Sarabande released Jerry Goldsmith’s score to L.A.Confidential on vinyl. This detective film noir set in 1950’s Loss Angeles was released in 1997 and firmly etched itself onto all the relevant Top 10 ‘must see’ lists.
Director Curtis Hanson used music from the period so it was left to Goldsmith to fill in the drama which he most certainly did! Not perhaps a soundtrack you would play that often but this should be in your collection if you call yourself a movie-music fan.

I read that it’s a soundtrack which suites vinyl which at first I couldn’t really grasp but after listening several times I get it. Short at just over 30 minutes, it allows you to take your time and really listen. It opens with Bloody Christmas, a fast, punching beat with brass that pierces the senses and puts your brain on alert it then dissolves into the mellow use of trumpet which Goldsmith used to perfection in his score for Chinatown.

The deepest of piano keys introduce The Photo’s, a cue which builds into a superb Goldsmith percussive cacophony which strikes right through the ever building tension. This score is taught and unforgiving in its high strung violins, tremulous piano notes and piercing use of trumpet. It never lets up especially in Shoot Out, the longest track at 04:09 which pulls all the previous track elements in and pushes itself to the extreme. This score never settles and to get such intensity into quite a short score is genius.

PRESS RELEASE
“Goldsmith’s score is now considered a masterpiece nearly on the level of his landmark ‘Chinatown’. Jerry Goldsmith would have turned 90 in 2019. His music continues to be revered, celebrated and performed all over the world. I am thrilled to see this score, which was absolutely ideal for vinyl from the very beginning, finally, debut on the classic LP format. A priceless slice of vintage Los Angeles!”
Robert Townson, Vice President of A & R

Label: Varese Sarabande

Side A
1. Bloody Christmas (02:50)
2. The Cafe (02:20)
3. Questions (02:20)
4. Susan Lefferts (02:54)
5. Out of the Rain (02:47)
6. Rollo Tomasi (03:08)

Side B
1. The Photos (02:28)
2. The Keys (01:52)
3. Shootout (04:09)
4. Good Lad (02:19)
5. The Victor (02:32)

 

FILMIC SOUNDTRACK AWARDS 2018

With the awards season nearing the end it’s time to declare my favourite soundtracks of last year. 2018 was a mixed year of highs and lows, for some reason I didn’t get to listen to a lot of non-UK & USA scores so I’m making this a priority for 2019 as best I can. What was a delight was the return of the synth score [see Best Comedy Score below], a fun throwback to the scores of the ’70s and early ’80s!

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FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR
VICE – Nicholas Britell

BEST DRAMA SCORE
VICE – Nicholas Britell

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BEST COMEDY SCORE
VIDEOMAN – Waveshaper/Robert Parker

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BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE/THRILLER SCORE
KING OF THIEVES – Benjamin Wallfisch

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BEST FANTASY/SCIENCE FICTION/HORROR SCORE
THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS – James Newton Howard

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BEST ANIMATION SCORE
MAX AND ME – Mark McKenzie

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BEST DOCUMENTARY SCORE
DYNASTIES – Benji Merrison& Will Slater

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BEST TV SCORE
PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK – Cezary Skubiszewski

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BEST ARCHIVAL RELEASE
THE BRIDE WORE BLACK – Bernard Herrmann/Producer Jose M.Benitez

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BEST CUE OF THE YEAR

THE LANDING  from first Man – Justin Hurwitz

The International Film Music Critics Association 2018 Awards

INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF 2018 IFMCA AWARDS; “SOLO” TAKES SCORE OF THE YEAR, MULTIPLE WINS FOR JOHN POWELL, JAMES NEWTON HOWARD

FEBRUARY 21, 2018 — The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2018, in the 2018 IFMCA Awards.

The award for Score of the Year goes to British composer John Powell for his score for the Star Wars spin-off story “Solo,” which looked at the early life of the legendary rogue and intergalactic smuggler Han Solo. The film was directed by Ron Howard, and starred Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover. In describing the score, IFMCA members Asier Senarriaga and Óscar Giménez called Solo “a spectacular score that combines the classic ideas of Williams with the talent of Powell,” and proclaimed it “the score of the year,” while IFMCA member Jon Broxton – speaking about the score’s multitude of recurring character themes – said that the way Powell “incorporates all the thematic complexity into his score is masterful, but best of all is the way he allows them to develop organically; this is not just a rigid leitmotif score where mathematics trumps emotion. Instead, Powell engages in sensible and appropriate development, meaning that when the emotional outbursts do come, they pack a real wallop, and satisfy both the heart and the brain in equal measure.”

The score is also named Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film, while John Williams’s contribution to the score, the standalone piece “The Adventures of Han,” is named Film Music Composition of the Year. These are the seventh and eighth IFMCA Award wins of Powell’s career; he previously won the Score of the Year award for “How to Train Your Dragon” in 2010.

James Newton Howard is named Composer of the Year, and takes home the award for Best Original Score for an Action/Adventure/Thriller Film for his work on the controversial Jennifer Lawrence Cold War spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” for which he wrote an astonishingly powerful classical overture for the film’s opening ballet sequence, as well as some intense action and suspense music. IFMCA member Mihnea Manduteanu described Red Sparrow as “beautiful and passionate” and “melodic and furious”.

Howard’s other work in 2018 was just as outstanding, and included the second Harry Potter spinoff film “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” and the lavish fantasy “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” which was inspired by Tchaikovsky’s seminal ballet. IFMCA member Christian Clemmensen called Fantastic Beasts an “accomplished and mature fantasy score” which “sits comfortably with Howard’s accomplished genre works and competes favorably for a place amongst 2018’s best scores.” These are the ninth and tenth IFMCA Awards of Howard’s career. He previously received IFMCA Score of the Year honors in 2006 for “The Lady in the Water”.

British composer Amelia Warner is named Breakthrough Composer of the Year for her enormously impressive mainstream debut work scoring the literary drama based on the life of the groundbreaking horror author “Mary Shelley”. IFMCA member Peter Simons said that Mary Shelley was “a wonderful score … mesmerizing … unlike anything I’ve heard in a long time, if ever. The use of synth and vocals over strings and piano is just exquisite. There is always something interesting going on, either melodically or aurally … it’s one of the most exciting scores of the year”.

The various other genre awards are won by Max Richter for his classically-inspired music for the historical drama “Mary Queen of Scots”; Marc Shaiman for his loving, nostalgic homage to Walt Disney and the Sherman Brothers on the comedy musical sequel “Mary Poppins Returns”; Mark McKenzie for his spectacularly beautiful, reverent score for the Mexican animated film “Max and Me”; and Pinar Toprak for her broad, adventurous, expansive orchestral score for the yacht-racing documentary “Tides of Fate”. With this win Toprak is now the only person with more than two IFMCA Award nominations to win every time she has been nominated – her previous wins were for “The Lightkeepers” (Comedy, 2010) and “The Wind Gods” (Documentary, 2011).

In the non-film categories, composer Christopher Lennertz wins the award for Best Original Score for a Television Series for his bold, exciting score for the rebooted version of the classic sci-fi series “Lost in Space,” while composer Bear McCreary wins the award for Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media for his thrilling score for the action adventure game “God of War”.

Burbank, California-based La-La Land Records is named Film Music Record Label of the Year in recognition of their ongoing excellence in restoring and releasing the most beloved film scores of the past. Acclaimed album producer Mike Matessino receives both Archival Awards: one for his work restoring and releasing John Williams’s classic score for the 1979 Frank Langella version of “Dracula” on the Varèse Sarabande label, and one for his work in putting together the lavish box set of John Williams’s three Harry Potter scores – “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” – for La-La Land Records. Producer Robert Townson shares the award for Dracula, and album artist Jim Titus worked on both releases.

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COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS

FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR

  • SOLO, music by John Powell

FILM COMPOSER OF THE YEAR

  • JAMES NEWTON HOWARD

BREAKTHROUGH COMPOSER OF THE YEAR

  • AMELIA WARNER

FILM MUSIC COMPOSITION OF THE YEAR

  • “The Adventures of Han” from SOLO, written by John Williams

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A DRAMA FILM

  • MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS, music by Max Richter

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A COMEDY FILM

  • MARY POPPINS RETURNS, music by Marc Shaiman

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN ACTION/ADVENTURE/THRILLER FILM

  • RED SPARROW, music by James Newton Howard

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A FANTASY/SCIENCE FICTION/HORROR FILM

  • SOLO, music by John Powell

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN ANIMATED FILM

  • MAX AND ME, music by Mark McKenzie

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A DOCUMENTARY

  • TIDES OF FATE, music by Pinar Toprak

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A TELEVISION SERIES

  • LOST IN SPACE, music by Christopher Lennertz

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A VIDEO GAME OR INTERACTIVE MEDIA

  • GOD OF WAR, music by Bear McCreary

BEST ARCHIVAL RELEASE – NEW RELEASE OR NEW RECORDING OF AN EXISTING SCORE

  • DRACULA, music by John Williams; album produced by Mike Matessino and Robert Townson; liner notes by Mike Matessino; art direction by Jim Titus (Varèse Sarabande)

BEST ARCHIVAL RELEASE – COMPILATION

  • HARRY POTTER: THE JOHN WILLIAMS SOUNDTRACK COLLECTION; music by John Williams; album produced by Mike Matessino; liner notes by Mike Matessino; art direction by Jim Titus (La-La Land)

FILM MUSIC LABEL OF THE YEAR

  • LA-LA LAND, MV Gerhard, Matt Verboys
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The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) is an association of online, print and radio journalists who specialize in writing and broadcasting about original film, television and game music.

Since its inception the IFMCA has grown to comprise over 65 members from countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Previous IFMCA Score of the Year Awards have been awarded to Jonny Greenwood’s “Phantom Thread” in 2017, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s “Arrival” in 2016, John Williams’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015, Hans Zimmer’s “Interstellar” in 2014, Abel Korzeniowski’s “Romeo & Juliet” in 2013, Mychael Danna’s “Life of Pi” in 2012, John Williams’s “War Horse” in 2011, John Powell’s “How to Train Your Dragon” in 2010, Michael Giacchino’s “Up” in 2009, Alexandre Desplat’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 2008, Dario Marianelli’s “Atonement” in 2007, James Newton Howard’s “Lady in the Water” in 2006, John Williams’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” in 2005, and Michael Giacchino’s “The Incredibles” in 2004.

CLAIRE DARLING – by Olivier Daviaud Soundtrack Review

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Claire Darling, also listed as La Derniere Folie De Claire Darling, or Claire Darling’s Last Madness, is the latest film of acclaimed French actress and icon Catherine Deneuve. Aged 76 she also shares the screen with daughter Chiara Mastroianni [her father being the late Marcello Mastroianni]. Deneuve plays Claire living in a small village who wakes on the first day of summer convinced this is her last day. With this in mind she decides to empty her house and give away all her belongings. In doing this Claire finds freedom from the weight of the past which she is letting go of. However in doing this Marie, her daughter whom she has not seen for 20 years returns.

The elegant score is by Olivier Daviaud has composed for film and tv mainly in France. I have not heard of him before but am very taken with this score considering the flamboyant subject matter. The soundtrack’s cover is also superb showing Claire enjoying life riding a bumber car!
The opening title track grabbed me by it’s oddness, there’s is a childishness to it played on either on bells or even a child’s toy xylophone. The leitmotif in itself kind of  ‘skips’ and in the background is a percussive thunder. There is a lot going on and you receive mixed messages at the same time as being completely sucked in. Les Automates is almost classic in its structure and is simple but effective with plucked strings and exquisite piano.

The leitmotif returns in  La Fugue doing it’s part musically by intertwining and repeating, and cleverly representing a physical fugue representing Claire’s step away from her usual environment. The musical terms continue with the jaunty Farandole [meaning medley]. Le Deuil [Mourning] is piano and violin slowly paced and quite heartbreaking in it’s simplicity.
More musical word play with a cue called La Derniere Valse [The Last Waltz] followed by   the more robust end piece  – Claire Darling, this time with brass and accordion. 

And there it was gone, so lovely but not enough – quite short cues but so tightly cohesive never straying far from it’s simple form. A delight and I look forward to more by Monsieur Daviaud. 

***1/2/*****
Label: Le Films du Poisson
1. Générique Début Claire Darling 2:20
2. Le Premier Vide Grenier 1:43
3. Les Cartables 0:45
4. Les Automates 1:23
5. La Fugue 1:56
6. Les Visions De Marie 0:54
7. Les Vélos 1:28
8. Farandole 1:35
9. Le Curé 1:30
10. La Danse De Claire 1:19
11. Le Scarabee Bousier 1:19
12. Le Deuil 3:32
13. Marie Retrouve La Bague 0:56
14. Les Mariées 1:28
15. La Dernière Valse 4:04
16. Explosion 1:54
17. Générique Fin Claire Darling 3:14

SERENITY Benjamin Wallfisch Capsule Review

SerenityEthereal, haunting, dreamlike – these are the strands which flow in the opening title track. It is also quite beautiful. Similar strands run through the whole soundtrack therefore negating any discernable themes other than The Beast, a cue which highlights one of the main characters [fishing boat captain Baker Dill played by Matthew McConaughey] obsession with catching a king-sized tuna and how, like the cues ending, there is a tentative heartbeat and climatic ending – as the fish once again slips away from him.

It’s difficult to give any definition to the cues as it all melds together within the same structure, this is not a negative as the structure, which is relatively slow paced, is easy to lose yourself in. You drift and yet stay immersed. Girl At The Bridge is perhaps the stand out cue using a background voice to enhance a dream-like quality that turns eerie with deep notes and tremulous violins. At over just 6 minutes long it’s the scores most powerful piece.

Whilst the film has received none too positive reviews it has been tagged as having a noir setting and same could be said of the score which could also be indexed under sound palette and quickly forgotten but in its sameness it does have texture, it’s a whole rather than a score of parts. It’s Wallfisch in Blade Runner mode and it’s worth a listen.

Rating **1/2/*****
Label: Milan Music

1. Serenity                                          04:45
2. The Beast                                        04:03
3. Suit                                                  02:34
4. Karen                                              01:58
5. Baker Dill                                       02:31
6. Patrick                                            02:56
7. Memory                                         02:18
8. Deliver Me From Temptation   02:32
9. He Wants Justice                         02:27
10. Girl At The Bridge                     06:48
11. I Am The Rules                          04:03
12. Plymouth Island                       01:53
13. I Remember You                       03:46
14. Catch That Fish                         01:57
15. How We See It                           03:16
16. Creator                                        04:43
17. Justice                                          03:12
18. Alternate Reality                       03:03
19. It’s Dad                                        03:45

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING Soundtrack Review

71c0WXs6ohL._SS500_Take a classic fable, shake it up so that an ordinary young boy who thinks he’s just a nobody, stumbles across a mythical sword.  Turn it into a modern day tale of wizards and an a cunning enchantress where the boy becomes a great leader and you have  The Kid Who Would be King, a different take on the Arthurian legend.

The score would perhaps call for the treatment of say John Powell or Alan Silvestri but here we  are in the hands of the Electric Wave Bureau, a London based collaborative artist collective who compose and source music for film, tv and radio. Previous scores include Paddington & Paddington 2.  Whilst there is heavy use of electronic’music in the score it is a real scene setter and fun!
Opening with a vibrant Arthur’s Theme we move to the short but stunning Prologue signposting the coming quest complete with heraldic choir. Said choir reach  full height and herald a pivotal moment in It Has Been Drawn. A simple four note rift introduces a key character in Enter Merlin which is so so catchy it’s a shame it’s so short as a are quite a few of the tracks. The main action, show-down cue Mortes Milles Attack is full steam ahead with a driving bass line and I’m glad to say the catchy rift returns in the triumphant Arthur’s Theme.

As many of the cues are short the whole is not as cohesive as it could be but electronics do not dilute this atmospheric score, it enhances the childlike wonder of the story but you can’t help wondering how magnificent it could have been with a full orchestra. 

***1/2/*****

Label: Milan Music
1. Arthur’s Theme (Album Mix) (3:12)
2. Prologue (2:14)
3. Failure (2:01)
4. It’s a Tough World (1:57)
5. Morgana (1:55)
6. Building Site (1:36)
7. It Has Been Drawn (1:08)
8. Bedders Is Knighted (0:54)
9. Enter Merlin (0:52)
10. Take Me East at Once (0:56)
11. Merlin Appears (0:55)
12. Cease Your Slumber (2:33)
13. Your Quest Is Decided (1:12)
14. The Inscription (2:11)
15. This Is Destiny (1:29)
16. Morgana Observes (1:28)
17. The Quest Begins (0:28)
18. Transport Hub (0:57)
19. 20 Mile Walk (0:52)
20. I’m the King Around Here (1:36)
21. The Sword (2:03)
22. You Knew All Along (1:42)
23. Mere Rumours (1:51)
24. Arcadia (1:48)
25. Journey to the Underworld (2:03)
26. Goodnight Your Highness (1:01)
27. I’m so Sorry (2:03)
28. Who Will Join Us (3:21)
29. It Won’t Be Easy (1:43)
30. Mortes Milles Attack (2:51)
31. Heroes All! (1:07)
32. Arthur’s Theme (3:32)
33. Epilogue (3:25)

My Top 5 Soundtrack Covers of 2018

Do covers matter? Do they have an affect on your purchasing decision? Well in the world of soundtracks probably not, most likely you are going to buy on the strength of the composer and/or the film. But if they are good and really get across the sense of the movie it is an added bonus. So here are my five favourite soundtrack covers for this year.

FrontRunner5.

I love this for it’s retro, sparse look AND because it gets you right to the heart of the film. in the case of U.S. senator Gary Hart the bus really did jump off the cliff, pushed mainly by the press.  Handsome Hart was the front-runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988. In 1987 photo’s were released showing him with journalist Donna Rice. When the full force of the press forced the issue of an extra-marital affair Hart pulled out of the race.

Hover

4.

Hover takes place in the near future, where environmental strain has caused food shortages around the world. Drones are used to maximize the yield from what land remains. Two care providers, Claudia and John assist sick farmland inhabitants in ending their lives. John dies under mysterious circumstances, leading Claudia to uncover a deadly connection between the health of her clients and the technology being used. With the drone being centre stage in this sci-fi movie I find the picture of the drone quite chilling especially with the image dissected in the way it is and of course this cover is also fabulously retro. 

vice3.

The message here is simple and clear – Vice is the story of US politician Dick Cheney who served as vice president from 2001 to 2009. He has been labelled as the most powerful yet least liked vice president and at the time of him leaving office his approval rating was a mere 13%. He was a somewhat taciturn and shadowy figure hence the character’s silhouette, in fact even the movie’s title is shady. It’s simple yet packs a punch. And I love the Decca iconic labeling at the top.

Mary Queen

2.

When you look at this cover it’s the yellowness which hits you first, it’s a colour not often used as a lead tone. The contrast with the almost bronze of the costumes really works as does the font used for the films title, in keeping with the quill use of the time. The costumes are also eye catching but for me it’s the expressions of the 2 leading actresses, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie that make this cover stand out. There is defiance in their face and an obvious regal  stance in their pose.   

                                                                             1.

Little strangerThe Little Stranger is a horror mystery telling the story of Dr Faraday. During the hot summer of 1948 he is asked to see a patient at Hundreds Hall where his mother once worked. The Hall is in a state of decline and of course haunted. Little does the doctor know how disturbingly entwined he is going to become with the Hall’s remaining family. The artwork on this cover is just superb and what’s really frightening is that it gives little idea about what’s going on but perhaps he is declining as well. The top half of the face is covered in what you might find if you peel back wallpaper. What’s really clever is the cracked make up on the neck. Disturbing to say the least.