Soundtrack Review: Spaceship Earth (2020)

The soundtrack for the recently released documentary Spaceship Earth is now available from Milan Records. Spaceship Earth is the true, stranger-than-fiction, adventure of eight visionaries who in 1991 spent two years quarantined inside of a self-engineered replica of Earth’s ecosystem called BIOSPHERE 2. The experiment was a worldwide phenomenon, chronicling daily existence in the face of life threatening ecological disaster and a growing criticism that it was nothing more than a cult. The bizarre story is both a cautionary tale and a hopeful lesson of how a small group of dreamers can potentially reimagine a new world.

Album Artwork - Owen Pallett

The soundtrack for Spaceship Earth was composed by Owen Pallett, who is a composer, violinist, keyboardist, and vocalist. They have released a string of critically praised solo recordings, winning the Polaris Prize in 2006. They currently release albums with Secret City Records and Domino Recording Co., and have performed as a solo performer with orchestras worldwide. Their chamber music work has been commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Bang On A Can, The Barbican, among many others. They also served as curator of the TSO’s New Creations Festival in 2017.

Of the soundtrack, composer Owen Pallett says:

This is my second collaboration with Matt Wolf, after 2019’s Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project.  The film Spaceship Earth chronologically spans from 1960 to present day— it is serious, it is comedic, it is retro, it is futuristic, it is scientific and it is highly human.  It is also distinctly American.  As a result, I was inspired by 60s sci-fi film scores, Nino Rota, as well as American 20th century music— John Adams and Aaron Copland.

All of those influences are evident in Pallett’s score for Spaceship Earth, which is among the most beautiful I’ve heard this year. The music for this documentary runs a huge gamut from nearly symphonic to an American style that is, as the composer indicated, clearly inspired by the music of Aaron Copland (“Synergia Ranch” in particular). I may have listened to a few of the pieces out of order, but I was instantly struck by a four-part piece organized under the title “Biosphere 2.” Played back to back, these four pieces reminded me of a symphony, with themes weaving together and coming back at the end of the piece. It’s not often I hear a symphonic piece of music while listening to a soundtrack, but that is indeed what the four parts of “Biosphere 2” reminded me of.

And it only got better from there. Most of the soundtrack is delightfully musical, with a sense of “sci-fi” lurking around every corner. If you didn’t know what this documentary was about, you could be forgiven for thinking it was about literal space travel. It would be interesting to know, specifically, which sci-fi film scores influenced Pallett, as their influence can clearly be felt.

But there was also a touch of weirdness (in a good way) as well. As I mentioned earlier, “Synergia Ranch” was clearly inspired by the music of Aaron Copland (it put me in mind of “Hoedown” in case you were wondering) and it definitely stands out from the music around it.

In conclusion, the soundtrack for Spaceship Earth is beautifully done, and I applaud Owen Pallett for creating such beautiful music to accompany the documentary. Let me know what you think about Spaceship Earth (and the soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: A Brief History of Time Travel (2018)

Just recently I had the unexpected pleasure of looking over the soundtrack for the documentary A Brief History of Time Travel. As the title suggests, this documentary is all about a subject that has fascinated scientists (and regular people for years: time travel. The synopsis is as follows:

Time travel reaches far beyond the realm of science fiction. From early stories featuring heroes mysteriously falling into far-flung future worlds to countless appearances in literature, science fiction and video games, the idea of traveling through time has spanned cultures across the globe.

Through interviews with experts across a variety of fields – theoretical physicists, game designers, spiritual leaders to futurist authors, “A Brief History of Time Travel” explores how this idea has inspired some of the prominent intellectual minds of today, and how it has influenced their work.

The soundtrack for A Brief History of Time Travel was composed by Tracie Turnbull, an LA-based composer. Apart from her work on this documentary, Tracie also works as a scoring and tech assistant for Emmy award winning composer Jeff Russo. She has written additional music on projects including: CBS’s Star Trek: Discovery, Sci-fi’s Channel Zero, FX’s Snowfall, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy and the film, Mile 22.

The music for A Brief History of Time Travel was a lot of fun to listen to. Considering Tracie Turnbull is also a cellist, it’s not a surprise that the soundtrack features a healthy amount of that instrument. Indeed, a large portion of the soundtrack appears to be devoted primarily to the strings to create the warm, but quirky sounds that make up most of the score. Perhaps I was overly influenced by the title of the documentary, but it seemed to me that a lot of the music I heard reflected the passing of time. For example, I could’ve sworn I heard the ticking of clocks in several pieces. The idea occurred to me because Andrew Prahlow did something similar in his score for Outer Wilds. For that matter, speaking of the passage of time, the way most of these pieces “flowed” felt so appropriate given that they’re covering a documentary about time travel, in that time is often described as “flowing” from the past to the future.

As with most documentary scores that I’ve heard, the music for A Brief History of Time Travel is very easy to listen to; it’s gentle, it’s warm, and it draws no more attention to itself than necessary. By no means is that a bad thing, by their nature documentary scores aren’t generally supposed to stand out because that would make them a distraction to what the documentary is talking about. I think Tracie Turnbull’s score complements the topic of the documentary beautifully, allowing the imagination to run wild about the possibilities of time travel.

Track List:

1 Time Travel
2 Time Passing
3 Clock Slowed
4 Three Theories
5 Beyond Space
6 Back And Forward
7 Perspective Of A Computer
8 Space And Looking Back
9 Freeze People
10 Imagine Time Travel
11 Happens In The Future
12 Constraints Of Nature
13 If You Could Travel
14 History Of The Universe

The score for A Brief History of Time Travel can be purchased/downloaded from the following places:

Notefornote Website: https://bit.ly/36bS4DF

Let me know what you think about A Brief History of Time Travel (and the score) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

 

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Triumphs (1943)

After a long stretch, I decided to resume my watch of all the classic Tarzan films, deciding to go on with Tarzan Triumphs, made in 1943 and a most interesting entry because the plot sees Tarzan fighting against Nazis. In hindsight it actually isn’t that surprising that a story was written to pit Tarzan against the Third Reich. After all, in 1943 World War II was in full swing and many stories of this type were being told. Still, it is a little jarring to see Tarzan existing in the same world with Nazis, since I’ve always associated the character with the late 19th century (or at the very least the turn of the 20th century). The plot sees Tarzan (eventually) go to war against a contingent of Nazis who have taken over the hidden city of Palandrya in an effort to steal its riches to support the war effort.

That being said, as jarring as it is at first, this might be one of my favorite Tarzan films yet. Considering that Nazis are involved in the plot, you know from the start that it’s only a matter of time before Tarzan and the Germans come to blows, and once that starts, it goes just about the way you think it will. But I’m getting ahead of myself, there’s a few details to talk about first.

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Since this is the first Tarzan film made for RKO Studios, Tarzan Triumphs is also the first film in the series to be made without Maureen O’Sullivan in the role of Jane. While the film does explain Jane’s absence by explaining that she’s tending to her mother in England, O’Sullivan’s absence in the story does leave a noticeable hole in, well, everything, one that isn’t quite filled by Frances Gifford in her role as Zandra. That isn’t the only difference between the RKO films and the original MGM films either. The iconic Tarzan yell is absent too (oh, he makes one, but it’s not the one everyone knows). Also, the entire set up of the hidden city of Palandrya is a bit much to take (it’s a hidden city of white people in the middle of the African jungle).

If you can overlook these issues, however, then you will like Tarzan Triumphs, particularly once Tarzan decides to get involved in fighting against the Nazis. Frustratingly, it takes Tarzan most of the film (and the kidnapping of Boy) to decide that the Nazis are a problem. I should mention that the Nazi characters are all easy-to-hate characters (though one is a near unending source of comic relief), which makes sense given it was wartime when this was made. It’s great fun to see Tarzan take the enemy down, especially when he takes special care to hunt down the head Nazi, chasing him into the jungle to give him the coup de grace.

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While the story does suffer from the absence of Jane, Tarzan Triumphs is an enjoyable story once all is said and done. I particularly enjoy watching the Nazi characters fumble about in the jungle (two fall prey to “cannibal fish”) before finally receiving their comeuppance. Tarzan’s initial stubbornness is also incredibly frustrating but if you stick with the film it pays off in the end. And for what it’s worth, I do like watching Zandra interact with Tarzan and Boy (even if it isn’t quite the same as having Jane in the story).

Let me know what you think about Tarzan Triumphs in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

My Thoughts on: Tarzan Escapes (1936)

Film Reviews

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Soundtrack Review: Betty (2020)

The soundtrack for the HBO Original Series Betty is now available from Milan Records. Starring Dede Lovelace, Moonbear, Nina Moran, Ajani Russell, and Rachelle Vinberg, Betty follows a diverse group of young women navigating their lives through the predominantly male-oriented world of skateboarding, set against the backdrop of New York City.  

The soundtrack for Betty was composed by Aska Matsumiya, who is a LA based Japanese composer and producer who has excelled across Film, Television, Advertising and music production. Aska provided the score for the Amazon feature film, “I’m Your Woman” for director Julia Hart. In addition, she partnered with A24 and acclaimed director Kogonada on his film “After Yang”, collaborating with composer Ryuichi Sakamoto starring Colin Farrell.  

Of the soundtrack, composer Aska Matsumiya says:

“Writing the music for Betty allowed me to be in touch with a side of myself that remains youthful and raw and spontaneous. It was really so much fun and I tried to let that momentum carry the music.”

Wow, Matsumiya wasn’t kidding when she talked about getting in touch with her youthful, raw, and spontaneous side. The soundtrack for Betty is ALL of these things wrapped up together and it is pure joy to listen to. The melody is bouncing, alive, and just seems to dart from place to place. I don’t know why this surprised me, considering Betty is set in the world of skateboarding, this type of music is the perfect way to express that world where gravity is defied on a regular basis. I think my favorite track is “Betty”, the title track is bright, bouncy, and beautiful, like most of the soundtrack in fact.

TRACKLISTING –

  1. Betty
  2. Vibez
  3. Space Ride
  4. Why Not Bambi
  5. Anxiety Attack
  6. Chinatown Quest
  7. Strawberry Field
  8. The Sound
  9. Feeling Blues Cloud
  10. No Jordan
  11. No Chill
  12. Hypnotism – Bebel Matsumiya
  13. AMNSA – Rosehardt
  14. Strangers – Ruby Haunt
  15. One of the Girls – Otha
  16. Apocalypse – Cigarettes After Sex
  17. Djougou Toro – Volta Jazz

In all seriousness, the music for Betty is delightful, and I highly recommend checking the soundtrack out if you get the chance.

Let me know what you think about Betty (and its music) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

TV Soundtracks

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Soundtrack Review: Outlander (season 5)

The soundtrack for season 5 of Outlander, with music composed by Bear McCreary is available now. In Season 5 of Outlander, Jamie Fraser must fight to protect those he loves, as well as the home he has established alongside his wife, Claire Fraser, their family, and the settlers of Fraser’s Ridge.  This new mantle of responsibility sees him pitted against his godfather, Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser, a leader of North Carolina’s Regulator Rebellion.  Claire Fraser is determined to keep her family safe by any means necessary, whatever the consequences… while Brianna Fraser and Roger MacKenzie struggle to find their respective places in this brave new world. 

Of the soundtrack, composer Bear McCreary says:

“From the bagpipes of Scotland, the baroque harpsichords of Paris, the blistering Afro-Cuban percussion of Jamaica, to the twangy banjos of the Appalachian Mountains, my score for Outlander has continuously evolved to keep up with Claire and Jamie as they traverse both time and space. For the series’ fifth season, I was presented with a new kind of challenge. For the first time, the geography and century would remain consistent with the previous season.  As a result, there was no longer a need to introduce new instruments and styles. Inspired by the drama, it was time to dig deeper into the music that had already been established.”

Listening to the soundtrack for season 5, the first thing that struck me was how cinematic it all sounds. It really felt like I was listening to the soundtrack of a movie, not a television series. And that reminded me of just how much music for television series have changed in the last few decades. It used to be that there was a noticeable difference between film music and television music, but not any longer. Now, especially with big productions like Outlander (and formerly Game of Thrones, just to name an example), the music sounds just like something you’d hear in a movie.

And certainly Bear McCreary does his all to give the music for Outlander season 5 a filmic feel. Actually there are certain portions that put me in mind of James Horner’s score for Titanic. You also definitely get the feel of 18th-century North America with this music. I have no better word to explain what I mean other than it just feels rustic, almost like something you would hear in that era. It’s really evident that Bear McCreary put a lot of work into this score to create the best music possible.

OUTLANDER: SEASON 5 (ORIGINAL TELEVISION SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –
1. Outlander – The Skye Boat Song (Choral Version)
2. The New Fraser’s Ridge
3. As Long as We Both Shall Live
4. L-O-V-E
5. Blood of My Blood
6. Murtagh’s Oath
7. The Fiery Cross
8. The Battle of Alamance
9. Murtagh
10. Young Ian Returns
11. Clementine
12. A Red, Red Rose
13. The Fang Syringe
14. Justice for Bonnet
15. Journeycake
16. Lighting the Cross
17. Saving Claire
18. Outlander – The Skye Boat Song (Solo Vocal Version)

I genuinely enjoyed listening to Bear McCreary’s music for Outlander season 5 and I hope you enjoy listening to it as well. Let me know what you think about the season 5 soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

TV Soundtracks

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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Soundtrack News: ‘Capone’ Soundtrack to be Released on May 29th

Milan Records announced today that the original motion picture soundtrack for Capone will be released on May 29th, 2020. Available for preorder now, the album features music written and produced by EL-P and co-produced by long time EL-P collaborator Wilder Zoby (Run the Jewels, Roma) for the new film starring Tom Hardy as the infamous gangster Al Capone. This marks the first complete film score from EL-P since 2004’s Bomb The System, and arrives on the heels of score contributions to Fantastic 4 (for which EL-P scored the end credits, which marked the beginning of his working relationship with Capone director Josh Trank) and 2016’s Bleed For This (directed by Ben Younger) as well as contributing to the soundtrack for 2018’s Oscar winning Roma (directed by Alfonso Cuarón).

Of the score, EL-P says:

“I grew up on film scores and they’ve always been a huge influence on me and I’ve been hoping to get the time and chance to do another, so I was thrilled to do Capone. Huge thanks to Josh Trank and Tom Hardy for bringing me in and of course to Wilder Zoby who was my right hand man through the whole score. I loved helping create and getting lost in this twisted little trip in to Al’s mind.  Much of the music on this score is directly from the movie and some of it is stuff that was created for the film but didn’t survive the final cut.  I’m excited to present it to the world in this form.”

Produced by BRON Studios and recently released by Vertical Entertainment, Capone is now available anywhere you can buy or rent movies, including, but not limited to, Apple TV, iTunes (where it hit #1 on the US and Canada new movie charts), Amazon, Google Play, FandangoNow, and Vudu.

Once a ruthless businessman and bootlegger who ruled Chicago with an iron fist, Alfonse Capone was the most infamous and feared gangster of American lore. At the age of 47, following nearly a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots Alfonse’s mind and his past becomes present. Harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life. As he spends his final year surrounded by family with the FBI lying in wait, this ailing patriarch struggles to place the memory of the location of millions of dollars he hid away on his property.

CAPONE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SCORE)

TRACKLISTING –

1.                Italy theme

2.                something in the hall

3.                by car and by boat

4.                intruders

5.                we don’t use that name around here

6.                walking in to a dream

7.                give it up for Al

8.                mama’s hurt

9.                still a family…assassin!

10.             you’re a good man, Al

11.             Al hell breaks loose

12.             back from hell

13.             this is Al thats left (end credits)

Remember you’ll be able to pick up the soundtrack for Capone starting May 29th, 2020. Until then, let me know what you think about the film in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: The Painter and the Thief (2020)

Today Milan Records released the official soundtrack for The Painter and the Thief, with music composed by Uno Helmersson. The Painter and the Thief tells the story of a Czech artist, who, desperate for answers about the theft of her 2 paintings, seeks out and befriends the career criminal who stole them. After inviting her thief to sit for a portrait, the two form an improbable relationship and an inextricable bond that will forever link these lonely souls.

Uno Helmersson is an award-winning Swedish composer and a multi-instrumentalist whose credits include the worldwide hit TV series The Bridge, broadcast in more than 100 territories and for which he was awarded a Golden FIPA. Other major credits include the Emmy winning Armadillo documentary series following a group of Danish soldiers for 6 months in Afghanistan; Magnus, about the life of Norway’s Mozart of Chess directed by Benjamin Ree for Norway’s Moskus Film; Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance, additional score; Mikkei Norgaard’s The Absent One; and Zentropa’s Department Q film series.

Of the soundtrack, composer Uno Helmersson says:

“I am really happy with the music for The Painter and the Thief. I think that it is by all means emphasizing the uniqueness in this beautiful and unexpected story. Working with Benjamin Ree has been a true pleasure. With his enormous trust in the process of creating narration and his trust in my music, we have had a creative collaboration on my music for The Painter and the Thief. This film is truly a piece of art.”

Given that this documentary is about an artist who becomes friends with the thief who stole her paintings, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to listen to this soundtrack. While I rarely hear a soundtrack I don’t like, I still don’t listen to that many documentary soundtracks. That being said….the music for The Painter and the Thief surprised me in a way I wasn’t expecting. See, for the most part, the soundtrack is what you would expect from a documentary: soft, gentle tones that come across as thoughtful, polite, enough to fill the background but not dominate the action. Then came the track “Finding the Swans” and everything changed. This piece is loud, frenetic, and completely different from the rest of the soundtrack. I’m not sure of the context of this piece but it was a welcome diversion from the norm.

And then there’s “The Exhibition”, the final entry in the soundtrack. I think I may have liked this piece the best, because it literally comes across as the grand finale, complete with organ music. It’s quite the payoff given how quiet most of the soundtrack is.

In conclusion, if you like listening to soundtracks, you will find the music for The Painter and the Thief enjoyable, particularly towards the end. If you’ve never heard the music of Uno Helmersson before, I think this is a fine introduction to his work.

Let me know what you think about The Painter and the Thief (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂