Category Archives: Soundtrack Reviews

Soundtrack Review: LOOPER (Nathan Johnson)

looperCDMusic composed by Nathan Johnson 
LabelLa-La Land Records
Catalog: LLLCD 1227
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Rating: ****

Director Rian Johnson has always been prone to bring something quite original to the screen and afterwards leave an overwhelming impression that makes you go home and think over the matter for at least one excruciating week, and that what happens exactly on Looper.

Moving towards the soundtrack the director’s cousin, Nathan Johnson, is a talented and extremely fond of musique concrete, i.e., sampling ordinary objects sounds such as crumbling bricks, broken glasses and turning them to sound musically appropriate and the result is startling to say the least. He gathered a group and went to the streets to record sounds that in the end would comprise the score’s bulk and the overall feeling is this uproar, streetwise, breathtaking in the first act. But do not get the good fellow message wrong, on the background there is still the usual well-crafted synthesised strings that work so well with sci-fi films, plus electronic percussion and textures.

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Soundtrack Review: PUSHER (Orbital)

pusherCDMusic composed by Orbital 
Label: Silva Screen Records
Catalog: SILCD1394
Release Date: October 19, 2012
Rating: ****½

Spaniard Luis Prieto summoned the British duo Paul Hartnoll and Phil Hartnoll (Orbital) to tell Pusher story (originally directed by Nicolas Winding Refn) from a British point of view, and the results are quite surprising to say the least.

Orbital’s take on this story presents the London underground atmosphere and London-boy twang as a recurring motive. They definitely tried some Tangerine Dream every now and then in their acid house on this score, but in the end the contemporary part prevailed anyhow.

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Soundtrack Review: BLADE RUNNER – 30th Anniversary Celebration (Vangelis)

blade_runner_BSXCDMusic composed by Vangelis
Label: BuySoundtrax Records
Catalog: BSXCD-8917
Release Date: September 19, 2012
Rating: ****

At the time of its release, Vangelis’ Blade Runner Score was filled with mystic romanticness, a sense of longing for home, sadness, unfairness, justice by its own hands and inequality. Deckard’s sense of duty is mainly overshadowed by his own doubts towards the Replicants, issue so Vangelis had to come up with themes that sounded dubious and had overlaying strings creating the sense of a “semi-polyrhythmical” track and consequently an unconscious idea that something else was going on on the screen.

For those into music’s technical aspects, that is a must have album, even if not a Blade Runner fan but to compare the original with the reverse engineering process album. On the other hand do not expect something entirely different because as the liner notes say: The goal was never make a soundtrack based on the Vangelis original but re-record it again to make it sound exactly like the above mentioned score.

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Soundtrack Review: THE FOG – EXPANDED (John Carpenter)

thefogCDMusic composed by John Carpenter
Label: Silva Screen Records
Catalog: SILCD 1301
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Rating: **½

John Carpenter is quite unique because he writes, directs, produces and scores his own films, but ticking all the boxes might make the New York-born director sound too repetitive, especially because he tends to make thriller/horror films. If the reader feels uncomfortable with the word “repetitive”, perhaps “minimalistic with ambience” would be more suitable.

Detached from the film, the Fog‘s score tends to be quite overwhelmingly grey making the most sunny day look glooming. That would be the point due to the self-explanatory title, but listening to it closely and deeper, the whole glooming turns to dull and the momentum is quite lost. The synths are good, the pianos could be taken from a Phillip Glass‘ 1983 album but the effects/percussion are definitely cheesy and do not match up the quality mentioned previously.

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Soundtrack Review: LINCOLN (John Williams)

lincolnCDMusic composed by John Williams
Label: Sony Classical
Catalog: SK544685
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Rating: ****

As usual John Williams asks you to close your head eyes, open your mind eyes and join him in the journey whilst he paves and paints the way with majestical colours. Taking a look at Daniel Day-Lewis pictures as President Lincoln is quite touching and is somewhat as if one were looking at the man himself, since Day-Lewis is prone to immersing completely into the characters, going as far as becoming them.

What the John Williams fans are going to find on Abraham Lincoln OST is a very gloomy and misty atmosphere mixed with moments of sunny and western pace, such as the Bonanza-alike “The Race to the House” or as if there was a hovering alien spacecraft, like on the last portion of “The Southern Delegation and the Dream”. “Appomattox – April 9, 1865” is an allusion to Lincoln’s death, the whole piece is full of ghostly imagery that would easily fit a Jack the Ripper or Edgar Allan Poe tale-based film.

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Soundtrack Review: SKYFALL (Thomas Newman)

skyfallcdMusic composed by Thomas Newman
Label: Sony Classics
Catalog: 88765410402
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Rating: ****

Since it was the franchise’s 50th anniversary, Skyfall had a tremendous responsibility to show what the Bond films are made of essentially, and it turned out to be some sort of ode to the British Empire in the end. Allusions to the Hong Kong colony, setting the main action ground in London and going deeper into the story to show that contrary to what many believe, James Bond birth country is Scotland were the primary devices to pay homage to the MI-6 spy British origins.

The main clash point of the film is the right point of leaving the scenery, meaning the right time to retire. The young x the experienced is also there, especially on the Quartermaster scenery at the National Gallery where Q and Bond “collide” with their differences regarding human intelligence and more electronic types of intelligence gathering. There are also loads of nuisance times for Bond when he is requested to perform tests to prove he is still good as he ever was, and furthermore confronting his past dark secrets.

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Soundtrack Review: THE AVENGERS (Alan Silvestri)

Music Composed and Conducted by Alan Silvestri
Label: Hollywood/Intrada
Catalogue: D001759402
Release Date: 01/05/2012
Rating: ****

After years  and having hyped it in all the possible ways through ‘introductory’ stand alone movies, Paramount finally in 2012 hit the screens with its’ The Avengers’ movie.  The movie in itself is as bombastic, flashy and exaggerated as it can be, and that’s exactly why it works: you don’t put together four Marvel heroes into a motion picture without inserting action and explosions. There’s no real thought here, the deepness of the plot sacrificed to the purpose of showing a(nother) battle between good and evil, spiced up with doom and a bit of irony, courtesy mostly of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. Surprisingly enough, Joss Whedon is able to give all the team’s members, and even the secondary characters, enough screen time, though it’s obviously recommended to watch the previous movies to completely understand the full plot, because it is the result that all those movies together were pointing to.

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Soundtrack Review: AFTER EARTH (James Newton Howard)

Music composed by James Newton Howard
Label: Sony Masterworks
Catalog: 372547
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Rating: **½

The Los Angeles-born James Newton Howard has an incredible CV, he was involved in many big projects such as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Bourne Legacy.  He has also been collaborating with M. Night Shyamalan since 1999, kicking off on the director’s debut The Sixth Sense. Newton Howard has also toured with Elton John and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Either way, the soundtrack writers’ community seems to believe that lately Mr Howard has lost his grip, and he is not able to find what to write and how to write. After Earth is not necessarily a bad job, if one keeps listening the album for five times in a row will definitely find some interesting cues and will start humming them round whilst preparing supper. Nonetheless, it takes a considerable time to understand Howard’s point of view and his approach.

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