ALIEN:COVENANT Soundtrack Review

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A sequel to the Aliens Prequel Prometheus, this is the 6th film of the Alien Franchise [hate that word] … well this is what I have gained from my research, which, I am glad to say is ‘tight’. We have had teasers and a Prologue video and the trailer. It’s all been built up slowly to wet our appetites and even now there is scant information on the plot as a whole. This is the way I like it as I want to be surprised rather than spoon fed every morsel so that by the time you are seated in a dark cinema you know what’s coming before it happens.

MTV’s NEWS website says, “[Ridley] Scott has been adamant that while “Prometheus” “carries the DNA” of “Alien,” it is an original piece of science fiction that delves into everything from biotechnology to artificial intelligence to the origins (and possible destruction) of mankind itself.” Whatever Covenant is, I am in! I Being an avid sci-fi fan seeing Alien for the first time changed all future science fiction films, along with Blade Runner, for ever and both had a tremendous impact on me.

The plot is short [again as it should be] ….
Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, members of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think to be an uncharted paradise. While there, they meet David (Michael Fassbender), the synthetic survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. The mysterious world soon turns dark and dangerous when a hostile alien life-form forces the crew into a deadly fight for survival.

Originally the score was to be done by Harry Gregson Williams but it has now been handed to Australian composer Jed Kurzel. For me his score to Macbeth was one of the best soundtracks of 2015 and last year he scored Assassin’s Creed so it’s going to be interesting to hear what he has done for Covenant.

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                                                                    Jed Kurzel

Opening with Incubation and a reworking of Jerry Goldsmith familiar ‘pulse’ from Alien, is very short but you feel you are in familiar territory. The Pulse also opens  The Covenant with the pulse AND the familiar 7 note brass which branches out into an eerie sound palette – we are definitely in Alien territory. Neutrino Burst is a mixture of strings and electronics, it’s a slowness which works, building tension. The piano led A Cabin On The Lake has a feeling of calm and reminiscence as does Sails.

Planet 4/Main Theme is a strong cue which slowly builds but is then controlled again by the pulse, almost as if beauty had been glimpsed but we are then reminded not to feel safe. Spores is dominated by strange electronic sounds filled with dread which run into the next track, The Med Bay, seamlessly. This cue is brimming with terror! Payload Deployment is even more terrifying, almost like a bad dream session complete with a sound which resembles a muted scream, glad it was short!

The next 2 cues have titles which bring much expectation – Face Hugger being the first. A low start it may have but when – after a few seconds silence – the coarse sound of a metal like screech is launched, I jumped out of my skin! On screen this is going to do it’s job. This is followed by Chestburster which is eerily calm and dreamlike. Only Bring It To My Turf and Terraforming Bay could be classed as standard action cues but even these has electronic tones which elevate them above standard.

This soundtrack never goes over the top, there is no reaching where the composer wants to make his score stand out from all others. Kurzel has totally embraced what went before and embellished it with slices of electronic scariness. I applaud his loyalty. Whilst sticking closely to the Aliens ‘sound’ [and I would have been disappointed  if he hadn’t of] there are distinct swathes of his own smoothly intertwined.

I’m glad I don’t rate my reviews with points or stars as in reality the majority of the soundtrack is a re-placing of elements from the original and that would negate marks of originality. I was hoping for the Alien ‘feel’ with a little twist here and there and this is what this compact, clever score does.

Track Listing:

  1. Incubation
  2. The Covenant
  3. Neutrino Burst
  4. A Cabin On The Lake
  5. Sails
  6. Planet 4 / Main Theme
  7. Launcher Landing
  8. Wheat Field
  9. Spores
  10. The Med Bay
  11. Grass Attack
  12. Dead Civilization
  13. Survivors
  14. Payload Deployment
  15. Command Override
  16. Face Hugger
  17. Chest Burster
  18. Lonely Perfection
  19. Cargo Lift
  20. Bring It To My Turf
  21. Terraforming Bay
  22. Alien Covenant Theme

Milan Music

DARK WAVES – Soundtrack Review

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Dark Waves is a 2015 film which, as far as I can see, has only been released in the US this year. Pity as it sounds intriguing. It’s a fantasy-horror directed by Italian director Domiziano Cristopharo.
An ex French legionary, Sophiane takes his wife to their new home, a tower on the open sea. As idyllic as it may sound the couple experience strange events which makes them face a past life which they wish to forget. When sailing Sophiane finds three, small gold nuggets. He gives them to his wife. Bizarrely they are actually gold teeth that belong to three pirates who later rise from the water to get them back.

The score is by German born Alexander Cimini who in 2015 won the Jerry Goldsmith Award for best music score for the documentary Red Krokodil, and the Jerry Goldsmith Award for Best Composer in the same year. I remember being deeply effected by this documetary soundtrack and in my review of it I wrote it ‘has sublime beauty’. So I was delighted when Alexander sent me a signed copy to review.

A deep, dark single piano note unlocks this story, the horn brings in the melody and the soprano voice of Monica Boschetti guides us to the short but passionate Bellerofonte Main theme.
My attention is grabbed AND sustained into the 2nd track The Town, with it’s strings gently weaving between piano and bass, it’s comforting and rolls effortlessly.
The Tower has a warning to it which deepens in Wine Like Blood but still retains a romantic feel. Instantly you sense that this is a meticulously structured score. Boschetti”s voice blends in so seamlessly with the orchestra.

Hidden Mysteries is the first sign that not all is as peaceful and idyllic as the other cues have suggested. With skittish flutes and rippling piano, it’s change in tone is subtle, more ‘off kilter’ than full throttle distortion.
This is such an ‘elegant’ composition confirmed in the beautifully melodic and [John] Barryesque Follow Me. Memories Lost in the Sea [End Credits] masterfully encapsulates all previous elements of the score and adds heartbreak and loss.

It’s not surprising to read that Cimini says it was Ennio Morricone who influenced him when younger. The ghost like soprano and powerful piano are testimony of this .
Dark Waves is exquisite, it’s strength being that it never veers from the theme of great passion even though the couple suffer great horrors.

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Alexander Cimini

Tracklist:
01. Bellerofonte Main Theme (2:05)
02. The Town (1:56)
03. The Arrival (2:05)
04. The Tower (3:25)
05. Wine Like Blood (1:10)
06. Love Scene (2:33)
07. Hidden Mysteries (3:31)
08. The Fog (3:17)
09. Fragments of Memories (5:09)
10. Dressing (1:29)
11. Follow Me (film version) (3:11)
12. The Secrets Revealed (5:01)
13. Farewell (1:26)
14. Memories Lost in the Sea (End Credits) (3:40)
15. Follow me (Soundtrack Version) (8:26)
16. Bellerofonte Concert Suite (8:55)
17. Love Song (Opening Title Theme) (bonus track) composed by Marco Werba (1:52)

Kronos Label

Star Trek The Ultimate Voyage – Concert Review

Royal Albert Hall  –  November 1st 2015

London Philharmonic Orchestra  –   Conductor Justin Freer

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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                  

DSCN5049As 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.

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Here is the full playlist taken from the excellent Programme Guide crammed full of photo’s and essays to keep all Trekkies happy.

STAR Wars act 1

STAR Wars act 2

POLTERGEIST SOUNDTRACK REVIEW

POLTERGEIST

Composed by Marc Streitenfeld      poltergeist                                                     

With a thirty year gap from the first Poltergeist film to this remake, it’s going to be difficult to not compare Jerry Goldsmith’s wonderful score to German composer Marc Streintenfeld’s interpretation of this simple ghost story. Streitenfeld wanted to take the ‘home feel’ into his soundtrack by developing ‘house sounds’. These noises he took from his old 50’s cooker, utensils and doors slamming etc.
The journey starts with the soundtrack covers. The 1982 score showing a picture of the young, abducted child with the palms of her hands on a tv screen.The Streitenfeld score shows the face of a sinister clown. Quite a different approach as is the score.

Poltergeist Opening combines the childlike factor with the sound of a children’s piano playing a simple 5 note backing with high strings sounding as if they are calling out, beckoning – it’s very effective.
Chilling electronic sounds with distorted static on They’re Here, the famous tagline from the first movie, together with chaotic steel sounds definitely tell you that they have arrived! Angry Spirits pulsates but then cleverly dissipates and returns creating movement to depict the spirits. There is a further sense of movement in Electronics Awakening with spirits and music and a feint sound of music from the tv, all swirling together.
The name of the next cue is scary – Into the Closet – and so is the music, truly scary. Maddy [instead of the first films Carol Anne] Is On TV evokes the sadness of Maddy being taken whilst Home Improvements is way too quiet and you just know something bad is going to happen, in it we hear the Poltergeists swarming like bees.

Let Her Go is a loud battle between the Poltergeist and Maddy with heavy brass and high pitched electronics together with driving strings, it’s a strong cue. Then we can breath as Home Free brings the child like tones but after a pause, the static pushes through and it ends with the child’s tune and the clown laughing.
Goldsmith conjured his horror with an orchestra, Streitenfeld relies more on ambient sounds and it works with chilling success. I miss the more homely sound of Goldsmith scores whilst Streitenfeld just goes for brief touches of a childlike piano but it takes nothing away from the new score which is measured and with it’s displaced, curved sounds, he creates a scary and ethereal back drop.

1. Poltergeist Opening
2. They’re Here
3. Angry Spirits
4. Electronics Awakening
5. They’re Not Pretend, Mommy
6. The Storm is Coming
7. Clown Attack
8. Into the Closet
9. Maddy is on TV
10. You Have to Get My Sister Back
11. A Poltergeist Intrusion
12. Home Improvements
13. Somebody is With Her
14. Take a Peek
15. I Feel a Little Braver
16. Into the Portal
17. The Other Side
18. Reunited
19. Let Her Go
20. Home Free

Sony Classical label

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