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Last year we introduced the composer Brett Aplin, and his score for the Australian TV series "The Bureau of Magical Things". This year one of his recent releases is the score for "No Mercy, No Remorse" which is completely different in character. The film is a documentary which covers the harrowing story of the Frankston murders which were perpetrated in Melbourne 25 years ago, and the subsequent police investigation leading to the conviction of Paul Denyer. Using mostly piano and strings with some electronic textures, the music is sometimes melodic but frequently dark and chilling. It's use of detuning seems to reflect the twisted mind of the killer, and its bleakness paints the terror and devastation he inflicted on the community. The score can be heard on a range of streaming services via this album link.
Set in the Pilippines, "Greed" is written and directed by Yam Laranas. The story involves a couple winning the lottery, but "things don't go as planned...". The setting may be unfamiliar, but the story itself is very relatable. The film's sound world is also familiar, scored by Swedish composer Oscar Fogelström a frequent collaborator of Laranas. It's musical core is orchestral but the sound is raw and includes orchestral and other effects. It manages to convey an all-consuming feeling of angst, yet still be engaging! The opening track "Fire Burning" gets straight into the dramatic tension with a percussive beat, and sound effects becoming orchestral cadences with a layer of string embellishments. Although the mood is much lighter in "The Ticket" subsequent tracks mostly continue with different shades of darkness until the opening mood returns in "Greed" with added heartache from a melancholy cello. It's a good score, and you can find it on most streaming platforms including Spotify and Youtube.
Last month the world lost Vangelis who died at the age of 79. The Greek composer (real name Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou) grew to prominence in the 1980s for his film scores to the likes of "Chariots of Fire" (for which he won the Best Score oscar) and the sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" (whose score played a critical role in creating the movie's dystopian atmosphere). Much of his musical output was synth based, but he also scored for traditional orchestral and choral forces, and sometimes more unusual ethnic instruments. Back in the 1960s he formed the prog rock band "Aphrodite's Child" with Demis Roussos (who continued to contribute vocals on several of Vangelis' scores), Loukas Sideras and Silver Koulouris. Other noteable Vangelis film scores include "1492: Conquest of Paradise", "Alexander", "The Bounty", "Antarctica", "Missing" and "L'Apocalypse des animaux", and his numerous non-score albums include "Mythodea" which was linked to the NASA Mission to Mars in 2001.
Out now is a new book called "Music by John Barry" about the composer John Barry and his film music. The hefty 500-page tome was written by Jon Burlingame, Geoff Leonard and Pete Walker who between them had already amassed a lot of information about the composer, providing detailed CD jacket notes for many album releases, but further research has produced a lot of substantially new material. Burlingame we have mentioned before as the author of The Music of James Bond and the latest book follows the same pattern of having dedicated chapters per film. But there the similarity ends with the latest book's sole focus on Barry across the breadth of his work. I've not finished reading the book, but it is engrossing for all film music fans and lavishly illustrated with photos from Barry's wide-ranging career. It can be found on Amazon.co.uk.
Improvements have been made to the audio options for some mfiles music tracks (e.g. Fur Elise). These tracks have been re-recorded with improved playback and enhanced audio. Sets of related tracks have been released as online albums, so that the improved audio can then be played back through various streaming platforms such as Spotify & Apple Music. The albums have been distributed using a service called Songtradr, which means those tracks are also now available to be licensed in full hi-definition audio. So far 3 albums have been released (Romantic Piano, Baroque Piano and Ragtime Piano) with a combined total of 61 tracks. This is only a fraction of our existing catalogue, but over time further albums will be released, with a focus on classical and instrumental tracks. Midi & mp3 files will continue to be included, for those who don't use streaming services or need an option for budget licensing.
With apologies for the short notice, "Gerry Anderson in Concert" will premiere at the Birmingham Symphony Hall on Saturday 16th April. Gerry Anderson of course is the creator of many TV shows, many (though not all) featuring puppets and including Thunderbirds, Space: 1999, Captain Scarlet, UFO, Terrahawks and Space Precinct. Barry Gray was the composer for many of Anderson's best-known shows although the music of other composers who worked with him will also feature in the concert, including Richard Harvey (Terrahawks) and Crispin Merrell (New Captain Scarlet). Richard Harvey is a BAFTA-winning composer, and he will conduct a full orchestra for the concert. For more information and booking see the BMusic website. Finally if they are calling this a "premiere" then it suggests this could be the first concert of a tour, so there is hope for those of us who stay many miles from Birmingham.
All the big Film Music Awards were again in agreement this year, with Hans Zimmer winning the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and the Oscar for his score to the epic movie "Dune". Press photographs showed Zimmer wearing a bathrobe and holding a plastic oscar statuette outside his hotel in Amsterdam, having been woken by his daughter to tell him he had won the Oscar. The composer was staying in Amsterdam where he is continuing his European Live tour after performing recently in London's O2 arena. The "Best Song" Golden Globe and Oscar went to Billie Eilish for her title track to the Bond film No Time to Die, which was also scored by Zimmer. The success of the "Dune" movie at the box office will hopefully mean that sequels will hit our cinemas in the coming years, all based on the books of Frank Herbert. In other news the nominations were announced today for both sets of the BAFTA Television Awards (since they are split into "Television" and "Television Craft" awards). The "Dune" film score album is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
Continuing our search for talented yet relatively unknown composers, we introduce the French composer Erwann Chandon and his score for "La dernière vie de Simon". This translates as "The Last Life of Simon" but the English title "Simon's Got a Gift" is more enigmatic. Chandon's music shows a rare intimacy with the orchestra with some great writing for woodwind and tuned percussion, orchestral colours frequently neglected on film scores. The Gift in the title is a superpower that Simon has, and the early parts of the score reflect this with a magical quality. But his gift gets him into trouble and the score accompanies him during his unusual yet emotional coming-of-age journey. The score won the Prix Michel Legrand in 2021 for Best Emerging Talent and also Best Original Score at the Boston Sci-fi Film Festival last month. You can hear the film score on various streaming services at this album link for La dernière vie de Simon.
Contretemps (Setback) is a short animated film released in Sept 2021 by Gobelins, a French Visual Arts School. The film highlights the everyday issues faced by someone with OCD. The film also touches on the topic of music, since it involves the misplacing of a ligature, used to hold the reed on a clarinet's mouthpiece. The video alongside shows the film as re-scored for orchestra in a blend of post-romantic and avant-garde styles by composer Hervé Gilles. You might want to compare the result with the music on the Original Film which has a minimal soundtrack by Arthur Dairaine with sound design elements.
To tie-in with Burns Night tonight, Scottish film composer Patrick Doyle has produced an album of Burns songs called "Robert Burns - Love Songs for Solo Piano". The composer has arranged and performed these instrumental songs, and the first single "My Luve's Like a Red Rose" is out now on streaming platforms. The 2nd single "Ae Fond Kiss" will be available later this week from 28th January, though unfortunately you will need to wait until 25th February to get the full album whose cover is shown alongside. Update: You can now stream the Full Album while the first single can be played below:
"Symphonic Suites" is an album of orchestral suites of music from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals. This may be the first in a series of albums, and contains suites for Evita, Sunset Blvd & Phantom of the Opera. Each suite is a continuous single track of 20-plus minutes, the music is orchestrated by Andrew Cottee and the album produced by the composer's son Nick Lloyd Webber. Suites such as this make ideal vehicles for showing familiar music in a new light, and these tracks remind us what a great tunesmith Andrew Lloyd Webber is. The album was recorded and released in 2021, the same year that his new musical Cinderella hit theatres after suffering Covid delays. In the media, the composer championed the impact of pandemic restrictions on the arts, those very restrictions making us better appreciate the value of live music. The album may have been gestating over some time, but the lean year may have provided some slack in an otherwise busy schedule to complete the project, albeit those restrictions provided many new challenges when it came to recording such a large orhestra. The music is everything you imagine and is highly recommended. It is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
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For older posts, the archive pages are Jim's Blog 2021, Jim's Blog 2020, Jim's Blog 2019, Jim's Blog 2018, Jim's Blog 2017, Jim's Blog 2016, Jim's Blog 2015, Jim's Blog 2014, Jim's Blog 2013, Jim's Blog 2012, Jim's Blog 2011, Jim's Blog 2010, and Jim's Blog 2009.