The End…For Now

Hey everyone, I know it’s been a long while since I posted anything here, and I’ve decided the time has come to let y’all know why. For those who don’t know, I started a new job several months ago and it’s radically changed my schedule. As a result, I’ve had less and less time to even think about writing, let alone devoting any time to work on it. In addition, for the last year or so I’ve felt an increasing tug of war between this blog and the other websites I write for.

That is why…I’ve made the decision to put Film Music Central on indefinite hiatus. Have no fear, all of my articles will remain available for the foreseeable future, I’m not taking the content offline. But, for now, and possibly forever, I will not be adding to it. Instead, you’ll be able to find me at and

I won’t say that I’m closing the blog forever, because I devoted seven years of my life to this website and that’s a long time to spend on anything. However, for now, this chapter of my life is closed, that’s why I’ve titled this post The End…For Now. Things may change in the future that allow me to go back to regularly posting. But if not….I want you all to know that the last seven years have been amazing and your support has meant the world.

Don’t forget to look out for me at and I’ll see you out there!

With love,



Soundtrack News: Black Adam Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is Available Now

WaterTower Music is excited to announce the release of the soundtrack to the New Line Cinema action adventure Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson. The first-ever feature film to explore the story of the uncompromising DC antihero comes to the big screen under the direction of Jaume Collet-Serra (“Jungle Cruise”). Earlier this month, prior to this full soundtrack release, WaterTower Music released two of Balfe’s themes from this film, the Black Adam Theme and The Justice Society Theme

“It was exciting to get into the Black Adam theme, and I really wanted to capture his essence as the DC comic book world’s anti-hero,” explained the composer. He went on to note that “this movie is a reintroduction to to the legacy of the Justice Society and I am excited for the public to reacquaint themselves!”

Balfe further elaborated as to his overall musical and philisophical approach to Black Adam:

“My goal was to get the emotion and darkness of the main characters back story across to the audience, whilst simultaneously intertwining the old themes and familiarities of the DC comic book world and introducing a new class of superheroes.” He further noted “One way to bring in the feeling of an ancient world together was to collaborate with traditional instruments from Latin America, India, Africa and the Middle East. A particular highlight for me was a percussion session I did where we enlisted several musicians playing various  traditional instruments together to achieve this specific sound. Further, we had a large brass section across the score to give the weight and power of the main character’s past, which I balanced out with high tempo, more melodic sounds to give the audience that more familiar heroic feel. We also experimented a lot with choir on this project which was able to contribute a unique and classical sound that ties in nicely with Black Adam’s story.”


  1. Teth-Adam 
  2. Kahndaq
  3. The Awakening
  4. The Revolution Starts
  5. Introducing the JSA
  6. Shaza-Superman
  7. Our Only Hope
  8. Change Your Name
  9. What Kind of Magic?
  10. Is It the Champion?
  11. Your Enemies
  12. Black Adam Spotted
  13. Not Interested
  14. Just Say Shazam
  15. Ancient Palace
  16. Little Man
  17. Time to Go
  18. Release Him
  19. Father & Son
  20. Black Adam Theme
  21. Fly Bikes
  22. Nanobots
  23. Through the Wall
  24. 23lbs of Eternium 
  25. Is This the End?
  26. It Was Him
  27. Lake Baikal 
  28. Capes and Corpses
  29. Hawkman’s Fate
  30. The JSA Fights Back
  31. A Bad Plan Is a Good Plan
  32. Dr. Fate
  33. Prison Break
  34. Wet Rocks
  35. Not a Hero
  36. The Doctor’s Destiny
  37. Slave Champion
  38. Legions of Hell
  39. The Man in Black
  40. Adam’s Journey
  41. The Justice Society Theme
  42. Black Adam Theme (iZNiiK Remix)
  43. The Justice Society Theme (iZNiiK Remix)

Will you be checking out the soundrack for Black Adam?

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Oh Romeo, Romeo: Talking with Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist About Rosaline (2022)

Early in October I had the opportunity to speak with Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist about their work on the music for the recently released Hulu film Rosaline. This film presents the story of Romeo and Juliet with a notable twist: it is told through the perspective of Romeo’s ex-girlfriend Rosaline, who very much wants her boyfriend back.

The composing duo of Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist are well-known for their work on the television show Dickinson, as well as Good Girls and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

I very much enjoyed this interview and I hope you enjoy it as well!


What did you think about the premise for Rosaline when you came in to work on it?

Well, I think we were intrigued. I remember reading Romeo and Juliet in school. And I’ve seen all the adaptations and stuff, but it’s never really stood out to me that there was a character named Rosaline. So when we first read the script, I was like, oh, is this just a made up character? But then I was really intrigued and loved the fact that Rosaline was in Shakespeare’s original writings. I thought that it was pretty brilliant. The way that there’s jokes throughout the film of the story not going [on track] or moments where the story seems like it might go back on track with the original Romeo and Juliet. So I thought that was really clever. A clever way to turn the story on its head for sure.

Was the music for Rosaline always going to be the Baroque pop that it was? Or did that get worked out over time?

I think it was discussed pretty early on. I think in one of our first score meetings they asked us, what do you think? And it was our first initial thought upon reading the score. And knowing what kind of music we usually write together, the filmmakers were looking for something that felt fresh and exciting, and could cover a lot of ground. So there’s a lot of comedy. But there are [also] a couple of action beats. There’s some suspense moments, and there’s obviously some romantic moments. But we also wanted to try and make it feel a bit original. We don’t want the music to be necessarily wallpaper, which can happen pretty often with a lot of scores. I think we almost played a joke, in a way, with our opening cue of the film. We do a sappy romantic cue, almost like you would expect to see. But then we start cutting in and out with dialogue to help these jokes land, and you realize we’re playing at a different angle here.

Yeah, we’re kind of playing into the joke. And our first thing on this project, our first task was to work on the cover songs that are featured in the movie. So that took us into the direction of the Renaissance instruments just because we were supposed to have the sounds that are supposed to be playing at a party where you’re supposed to see this band, this Renaissance band playing. So with that we really dove in headfirst into the harpsichord and lute and harp and all of these instruments that were popular at the time.

How deep did you dive? Did you limit yourselves right away? Did you experiment with all of them before settling on the ones you did?

It’s interesting because there really wasn’t that much to choose from. If there’s not somebody who’s able to play it, or that instrument doesn’t exist physically anymore, then that would have been a challenge. But also, before we even got to the recording [stage], we had to mock it up. We had to find instruments that actually had virtual and soft synth versions of that. So in a way it’s not that it limited us because we definitely expanded in some of the mock up stuff that wasn’t quite the same thing. But that definitely limited us because a lot of those instruments nobody makes them anymore.

I’d like to say it helped us make our decision quicker. And we also on top of all that, we had to find stuff that could lend itself to a pop style arrangement at the same time. So we had to find instruments that were versatile enough to actually play different things and play fast enough. Oh, yeah. So a bagpipe wasn’t really going to cut it.

Was it just experimentation to see what would be good?

Yeah, a little bit. I mean, for the songs we had to dive in right away. So like, we would both songs we actually knew fairly well, just from when they first came out. It was just kind of looking at how they arrange things and then rethinking them in terms of what our ensemble was. At first, I think we tried to do it as true to picture as we could. I think we eventually did sneak in a low bass, a little bit more of a thump to things. Yeah, it was just kind of really looking at the different parts, really listening to it closely. And seeing how close we could get with our Baroque ensemble.

I really noticed the bass thump during the the ball when Romeo’s looking for Rosaline. Um, that was weird hear hearing the modern bass thump in the Renaissance?

Yeah, I mean, the whole point with this film was to kind of mix things up a bit. So like, we were never going to go for a completely authentic Renaissance score. The whole idea was to mix contemporary synth stuff with the Renaissance sound.

So it was it was it was never planned to go traditional at all ever.

No, because we’re not traditional composers. If they wanted something more traditional, they could have gone for sort of more like the more pen and paper and the more orchestral composers, whereas I think we were hired because of our previous work on shows such as Dickinson and our electronic music and our synth sound. So I think it was always kind of in the cards for us to do electronics and renders some Renaissance sound. But to be honest, like, that wasn’t even, as the incident early conversations, it was like, they were kind of leaving it open to us.

So you’re mostly left to your own devices and how this went? There wasn’t a whole lot of direction?

No, I mean, it was a conversation between everyone, especially for those first couple songs. And then as we got into the actual score, we were talking to Karen Maine, our director, and generally the editor almost daily.

At the same time, they kind of trusted us to follow our guide as far as what we think [would] work musically. So in that sense, they left it up to us, but it was a very collaborative thing.

I noticed that several times the music seem to flip back and forth between a traditional sound for a Shakespeare story and the modern sound. How was it worked out when the music would flip like that?

I think we just follow our instinct really. We didn’t necessarily plan like this is a synth cue. This is a string cue, we just wrote to picture how we felt it would work using our palette of sounds and some moments just kind of felt like they needed to pull from one side a bit stronger than the other.

About the instruments, were any of them vintage?

Yeah, we had a whole mix of things. For our recording sessions, we had a really fun session with woodwind players who brought in a whole fun goodie bag of different style flutes from all eras. So I’d say it was a big mix of vintage, contemporary, and just kind of rare. There’s one key where we have a petzl playing, which is a German wooden flute, with a really distinct tone.

Our percussionist Hal Rosenfeld brought a whole bunch of percussion that’s been around since the Renaissance as well. So when we were recording all of the drums and the action sequences and whatnot, we had a harpsichord player, who, I suppose, is kind of an expert in the instrument in New York City. We had an excellent harp player who’s absolutely wonderful and absolutely slayed, especially when it came to playing the harp part of “The Boy’s Mine”, for example, which is a really complicated thing, which was definitely digitally done. So yeah, we had all of these incredible players that our contractor Sandy Park was able to find in New York City when it came to recording.

Was the recording done all together?

Yeah, we were able to record at Power Station in New York City for three days. So all the strings were in the same room at the same time, which was great. And it was the first time for us in years and years because of the pandemic.

Yeah, the lute, harpsichord, harp and whatnot, those were just all playing at the same time, but in separate rooms just to not have [the sound] bleed. And so we had more flexibility in terms of editing and mixing. And the percussion Is this single percussionist. But yeah, everything was recorded. We were all there in New York City with the engineer and other folks that helped with orchestrating and score prep. And it was really great. It was so nice to feel like we had a team like that.

Did you have specific musical themes for any of the characters? I couldn’t tell listening to it?

Yeah, we had. I mean, a lot of it all centers around Rosaline as a character. So we kind of when we first started writing, we did like the Rosaline action theme, the Rosaline scheming theme. And some of those got broken up a bit as we progress through the film. But um, yeah, we have Rosaline’s theme, we have a Rosaline and Dario theme. We have an action theme that reprises a couple of times. We have a theme that comes in, kind of, which is the scheming theme, for example, when Juliet and Rosaline have a scene together where they kind of start butting heads. So, a lot of these things get repeated subtly. So I’m glad that they didn’t really like hit you on the head too much. Because you never want that to be too obvious. But I’m glad that it wasn’t too much.

I mean, I think what the most obvious to me was Romeo’s because correct me if I’m wrong, but his had the most flourishes.

I think his moments on screen just lend themselves really well for more silly embellishment, just because of the comedy that he brought to the screen. So I think that whenever we see Romeo on screen, very often is when we would employ chimes or do some harp or something just because his character is such a big puppy of a character in the movie that we just felt like we could play into that comedy

What about Dario, does he have a bit of music of his own?

Well, anytime we have music with him, it’s always kind of connected to Rosaline. We have some action stuff with Dario, but that relates to the Rosaline action theme again. She really is our centerpiece and any character we come into contact with in really any musical theme is always threaded back to her

So since Rosaline was the centerpiece, how did you determine her sound? Because she’s not quite what I expected when I started the movie, she’s very modern.

Yeah, she’s very multifaceted and has a lot more sides to her than you get from the beginning of the movie. When she comes around towards the end of the movie, and, there’s just so many ups and downs, and she’s quite temperamental and instinctive, I think we tried to find, ultimately, [that] all the themes are Rosaline’s themes.

It’s just as Ian was saying, it’s like Rosaline interacting with different characters in different moments. But, we just thought it had to be sonically something that was somewhat witty and sarcastic, and whimsical, but also intense. So I think that that’s also where the synths and using more electronics kind of helped because in a way, the character that is portrayed on screen is so modern for the times: she wants to marry for love, she doesn’t want to marry just because she has to, she wants to be a cartographer. I think employing modern instrumentation really helped to externalize what’s really going on in her mind, which was very revolutionary, and ahead of her time.

How much time did you all have to work on Rosaline? Where were they in the process when you came in?

They brought us on close to the end of filming, because we had to get these song arrangements done for those masquerade ball scenes, and I think it was actually the last day of filming. So I think that was around September of last year. And then we really didn’t fully dive into the film until around December or January. And then we’re on a for a few months, kind of, it’d be like we’ve worked really hard for a week or two, and then they’d be working on the edit for a bit [and] it’d be kind of quiet. So a lot of back and forth. And then our recording sessions happened in early May [2022].

Is three days typical? Or is that shorter than usual?

Um, I think it really depends, for the films that we’ve worked on in the past, it’s usually been just a day of a recording session. So this was definitely much longer than we’re used to. It was really great that we were able to break it up. And we knew at the beginning, we knew that there was going to be a lot of recorded things at the beginning. So it didn’t really come as a surprise. I’m sure you know a Marvel movie will record for a week or two, but we just haven’t really gotten to that point. So this was definitely the longest amount of recording that we’ve ever done.

You mentioned other stuff you’ve done like Dickinson, how did working on this film compared to those projects?

There’s some similarities. And just like, a lot of the same formalities you go through when working on a scoring project. But I think this one just felt larger in scale for us compared to something like Dickinson. We joke that this was kind of like an evolution in a way. But yeah, it was good. Like, we love working with Karen Maine. I had worked with her previously, a few years ago on a film called Yes, God, Yes. And that was also remote, but Zoom and virtual meetings weren’t quite what they are now. So this one felt much more like we were actually in the room together as a collaboration. It was a great experience, especially because we would meet with them so often. You really feel like you’re part of a team.

Is there anything musically that you hope audiences notice in Rosaline when the movie comes out?

I hope that they just come away liking the film, and hopefully feeling like the score was a a fresh take on the genre.

I hope that they can get lost in the story and have a good time. Because we certainly had so much fun working on this film and on the score, so I hope that it kind of translates through and that people can watch this with a bunch of friends. Just have a really fun evening.

The modern songs that were covered in this film. Did you pick those? Or did the director pick those?

Those were mainly coming from Karen Maine and Maggie Phillips and the music supervisor. We had a little input later on when we were deciding between a couple different options. But they ultimately decided which songs were going but then leave it up to us how we would want to arrange them.

Was it their idea to have Rosaline sulking to “All by Myself”?

Yes, yeah, that was always there from the temp [score], you know, that that was there from the first cut that we saw of the movie, especially since they wanted the joke that happens in that scene to land in a very specific way. I mean, the way the music changes, well, just the way that the it goes from score to just the single violin that’s in the room playing.

Oh, it works. That was one of my favorite moments. It works very well. Amazing. IS there anything else you wanted to make sure people know about Rosaline, a favorite moment, a moment that was difficult to work on.

I mean, my favorite moment is definitely when [Dario and Rosaline] are galloping through the countryside. You know, it’s like the big kind of montage moment. And it’s a cue that’s on the soundtrack. That’s called “Horse Escape.” And then definitely the hardest parts were the comedy parts. Just because we had to work around dialogue and work around the comedy that was being delivered by the actors. So it definitely felt challenging to not step onto the dialog and be able to kind of help the picture be funnier instead of taking away from it.


I want to say thank you to Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist for taking the time to speak with me about their work on Rosaline. The film is currently available on Hulu and I highly recommend checking it out when you have the chance.

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Soundtrack News: The Banshees of Inisherin (Original Soundtrack) is Available Now

Hollywood Records is excited to announce the release of The Banshees of Inisherin (Original Score) with music composed by Academy Award-nominated Carter Burwell. The 21-track album debuted on October 21 on all streaming platforms. Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin is directed and written by Martin McDonagh.

A frequent collaborator of McDonagh’s, Academy Award®-nominated composer Carter Burwell previously worked on three of his films, starting with In Bruges. He also worked on Seven Psychopaths, as well as his Oscar-nominated score for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, their last collaboration.

“We have similar sensibilities,” explains Burwell. “Martin’s writing is very particular – it involves a dark view of the world, a really vicious sense of humor, and a lot of humanity. That combination is something we have in common.”

McDonagh has always involved Burwell at script stage before the film is shot. “I approach every film as its own world. Even though Martin and I have done several films together and they’re all Martin McDonagh films, they’re all different.”

Initially McDonagh already had, for one section of the film, a piece in mind that’s performed by a Balinese gamelan ensemble – mostly metallic instruments. “I happen to be a big fan of gamelan music,” continues Burwell. “It’s also a bit strange for a movie taking place in Inisherin. But I kind of like the strangeness, and I found myself weaving gamelan instruments into the score as an experiment.”

In addition to the gamelan Burwell used three main instruments:  the celeste – a keyboard that plays bell sounds – the harp, and the flute. He says, “These are all very pretty, almost childlike instruments, which wouldn’t be out of place in a fairy tale. They fit Pádraic, who is a little bit of a man-child. As you follow the dark road that the story goes down, the music starts to feel more ironic. Even though these were all very light sounds, the tunes are not.”Burwell also worked with a small but strong orchestra at Abbey Road in London.

The Banshees of Inisherin follows lifelong friends Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship. A stunned Pádraic, aided by his sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and troubled young islander Dominic (Barry Keoghan), endeavors to repair the relationship, refusing to take no for an answer. But Pádraic’s repeated efforts only strengthen his former friend’s resolve and when Colm delivers a desperate ultimatum, events swiftly escalate, with shocking consequences.

The Banshees of Inisherin Soundtrack Original Score Album

Tracklisting –

  1. Walking Home Alone 
  2. Night Falls on Inisherin 
  3. Marking The Calendar 
  4. The Island Comes To Church 
  5. Doesn’t Time Be Flying 
  6. Standing Prayer 
  7. Delivering Milk But No News 
  8. Colm Takes The Reins 
  9. Padraic Wakes – Driving Into The Rain  
  10. The First Finger 
  11. Padraic and Jenny 
  12. Padraic Keeps Quiet 
  13. Colm Throws The Balance 
  14. Jenny and The Fourth
  15. Dark Padraic 
  16. Siobhan Leaves 
  17. The Slow Passing of Time 
  18. Padraic Leaves The Church 
  19. My Life Is On Inisherin 
  20. A Smoldering New Day 
  21. The Mystery of Inisherin

Will you be checking out the soundtrack for The Banshees of Inisherin?

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My Thoughts on: DC League of Super-Pets (2022)

*Note: this review was originally published on Patreon for subscribers in August

While real life pushed my plans back by about a month, I finally got to see DC League of Super-Pets in theaters and let me tell you it was absolutely worth the wait.

As I said when I first mentioned this film in my “Films to see in July” list, I am a sucker for just about any movie Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appears in and this movie was no exception. It helps that I’m a huge superheroes nerd and I thought it was cool to see Krypto the Super-Dog on film, albeit in animated form.

As movies go, DC League of Super-Pets relies on an old but very reliable formula: arrogant superhero (Krypto in this case) gets his world turned upside down, (temporarily) loses his powers, falls in with a gang of (newly empowered) misfits, and in the end learns what it means to truly be a hero while making some new friends along the way. It’s a formula that’s been done a thousand times but when it’s done properly you can’t go wrong with it and this movie does it right. 

While predictable (I mean it is a kid’s movie after all) DC League of Super-Pets is super cute (sorry, couldn’t resist saying that). The animation style is really good, and the villain is somehow hysterically funny and terrifying all at the same time. I never thought I would say that about an animated guinea pig, but Lulu is a perfect example of “absolute power corrupts absolutely” because when she finally gets her hands on some real power…oh boy does she run wild with it. 

I also really liked how the Justice League is presented in this movie. While we don’t see that much of them, the way they’re presented you instantly get a feeling for how each character is and I was particularly a fan of Wonder Woman, Batman and Aquaman in this film, though to be fair I liked them all. With word coming out that this film will start a new franchise, I’m hoping this means we’ll get to see more of them.

And of course there’s the shelter pets who get their own respective powers. I loved them all but my two big favorites were Ace the Bat Hound (whose story broke my heart) and PB the pig who got the power to change her size. I especially loved how PB hero-worshipped Wonder Woman and the whole scene where she got to meet her was just perfection.

There’s not too much more to say about this movie. Again, it was cute, an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half. If you’re a fan of animated movies and/or superhero movies, then you will like DC League of Super-Pets. I’m excited to see where the story goes from here.

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My Thoughts on: Inu-Oh (2022)

*Note: this review was originally published for Patreon subscribers in August

I’ve been doing my best to see as many anime films as possible in theaters this year and thus far Belle and The Deer King have both proved to be entertaining. However, while I previously maintained that Belle was the greatest animated film to come out this year, I think that title must now be relinquished and given to Inu-Oh because this is surely the greatest animated film that will come out this year.

Inu-Oh premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in 2021 and is based on Tales of the Heike: Inu-Oh by Hideo Furukawa. The film follows the titular character, Inu-Oh, a brilliant dancer cursed with an unimaginable deformity, and Tomona, a blind musician who makes incredible music with the biwa. Ostracized by most of society for their respective impairments, the two form a musical troupe intent on taking the world by storm. But political events outside their control threaten to derail everything Tomona and Inu-Oh have created….

Inu-Oh was directed by Masaaki Yuasa and he did an incredible job. The story starts off as a mesmerizing tale of ancient Japan, largely sung in a traditional manner by an off-screen narrator playing the biwa. But what truly makes the film brilliant for me is what happens partway through: once Inu-Oh and Tomona meet and decide to make music together….the movie becomes something of a rock opera. That’s probably not the right word to describe it but I can’t think of anything better. The performances get turned up to 11 and each one feels like a modern rock concert was brought to ancient Japan, only played with traditional instruments. This development initially caught me by surprise, but once I settled into the music I found it quite lovely. 

The intertwining stories of Tomona and Inu-Oh are equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking, each for their own reasons. Of course the biggest element of the story is how and why Inu-Oh looks the way he does. Without revealing any details, I will say that I LOVE how this mystery was explained and it is absolutely worth sitting through the film to find out the full story of what happened (you get hints at the beginning of the film but the full story isn’t explained until later).

Tomona’s story….oh wow, it’s just as powerful as Inu-Oh’s if I’m honest. This kid goes through a huge roller coaster ride, from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, with an ending that shocked me to my core. You really are made to feel for this character, and I won’t forget his story any time soon.

One more time, I want to come back to Inu-Oh’s performances. Like Tomona’s concerts, they feel almost shockingly modern, but with a twist of traditional Japanese dance that makes them mesmerizing to watch. And each dance is completely different, as Inu-Oh’s body changes throughout the film (I’ll say no more on that due to spoilers). But it’s Inu-Oh’s final dance that captivated me the most. It’s performed before the shogun and it is nothing short of animated perfection. Whereas the earlier performances were more frantic and loud (for lack of a better word), this final dance, at least the first part, plays out like a dream. 

Inu-Oh is easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year and I urge all of you to check the film out in theaters if you get the chance.

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Soundtrack Review: Moss: Book II (2022)

I was recently given the opportunity to listen to the soundtrack for the VR game Moss: Book II that was released earlier this summer. Unfortunately, I was stricken with COVID shortly afterward so that’s why the review is only coming out now.

Moss: Book II was released for Meta Quest II on July 21, 2022. The game is a sequel to the first Moss game, released in 2018. In this game, as in the original, the player controls the Reader and a mouse named Quill who must go on an adventure to save the land.

The soundtrack of this game was composed by Jason Graves and consists of 17 tracks.

“The original Moss holds a very special place in my heart and Moss: Book II is an extremely personal score,” said Jason Graves. “Adding new instruments to the ensemble, I put together a small ‘pub band’ of soloists to underscore Quill’s heroism and heartbreak, and even acquired a beautiful baby grand piano that acts as the heart and soul of the score, performing most cues live on the piano, then adding other instruments to flesh out the themes. I hope this soundtrack takes players back to the magical world of Moss with every listening.”

I haven’t been familiar with either Moss game until now, but I found the soundtrack positively enchanting to listen to. Despite knowing nothing about the game and its story, the music immediately lets me know that this is a magical story I’m experiencing. Jason Graves makes full use of the instruments he’s working with to create an immersive musical experience that wouldn’t be out of place in an open world game. The fact that all of this is for a VR game just shows how far that genre has come.

One detail I absolutely love about the soundtrack for Moss: Book II is how it is centered around the piano. That’s not a sound you frequently hear in the middle of a video game score, compared to how often you hear a symphonic orchestra or electronic music. Being centered around the piano as the music is, it gives the soundtrack a much more intimate sound, fitting since the main character is a mouse.

There’s also an impressively wide range of emotions evoked by this music. While a lot of the music evokes a sense of fantasy and magic, Graves can also swing the pendulum to the other end of the spectrum and create a sense of evil and darkness, all with the same instruments. A brief example of this can be heard in “Torched Wings.”

Moss: Book II has some absolutely lovely music in its soundtrack and I highly recommend checking it out if you get the chance. Even if you can’t play the game itself, the soundtrack is a beautiful musical experience that everyone should hear at least once.

Track List

  1. We Remember You
  2. Unafraid
  3. By My Side
  4. When One Door Shuts
  5. The King’s Glass
  6. To Raise an Army
  7. Glass House
  8. The Starthing’s Way
  9. From the Ashes
  10. Not Welcome Here
  11. The Winter Glass
  12. Serpent Slayer
  13. Unfinished Business
  14. Delivering Justice
  15. Tylan’s Domain
  16. Torched Wings
  17. Letting Go

I hope you get the chance to check out the music for Moss: Book II.

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Talking with Dara Taylor about ‘The Invitation’ (2022)

Earlier this month I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with composer Dara Taylor about her work on The Invitation, a horror film that puts a modern twist on the vampire story. Taylor studied composition at Cornell independently with Zachary Wadsworth and Steven Stucky. In 2009, she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s in Music and Psychology. Taylor then received a Masters of Music from New York University in 2011 where she studied Film Music Composition with Mark Suozzo.

I hope you enjoy our interview!


How did you get connected with the film?

I heard about this film, and I sent in a reel and then I had a really great meeting with Jessica Thompson, the director. And I was able to read the script. It seemed like so much fun to work on the film and with the whole team. So that’s how that happened.

When you read the script, what did you think of the story? Because it’s a bit of a twist on a vampire story, isn’t it?

I think it was a fresh take with the twist that you didn’t necessarily see coming from the script standpoint. So, yeah, it was a really fun ride to read through.

As you were putting together the music, then, knowing that this was a vampire story, were you influenced by any previous vampire stories or films?

I tried not to look too hard into it, because we wanted to start fresh with the visuals and seeing the graphic nature of it, I know we wanted to try and find a way to speak to that Gothic nature but finding ways to modernize it.

How did you go about modernizing it.

Part of it was processing parts of the orchestra and then also adding these really processed and reversed vocals on top that are at the forefront of the score. And also adding just strange elements from found sounds or synthetics and those sorts of things to make it feel a little less traditional.

So speaking of unusual sounds, is there a theremin in the mix somewhere? I was listening to the score earlier and I swear I hear a theremin.

There is no theremin. Actually, there are some other synthetic sounds, there are a lot of vocals and processed vocals that make that sound strange. It depends on which scene or which track you mean, but there are things that are just whistles that by the end of it had this high screaming nature.

That is so awesome because it didn’t feel like vocals.

Yeah, it depends on where it is. It might be a combination of vocals and strings. but yeah, [it’s about] trying to find things that give you that eerie feeling without necessarily going straight to what might be in a traditional horror film.

What people have all known about this music is how it combines the modern sound and the romantic and gothic style. Was that always the general idea going into this? Or did that come about over time?

Um, no, I think it was always the purpose. It’s the purpose in the script, as well as trying to find smooth transitions from romance to horror to the Gothic feel. So it was definitely a thing that we planned on at the beginning and worked to find that balance of a modern gothic romance, or score.

So, are there are other themes then for each of the characters?

Yeah, so there are some themes: Evie has a theme that starts off with a soft acoustic guitar and grows more strident and bold as she does. There’s a theme for Walt, which also acts as a theme for the manor in general. And their mission for having her there.

Then there are a few other motifs. There’s this screaming reverse vocal thing with a lot of distortion in it, which are three vocalists that we recorded here in Los Angeles, and they represent the three brides. So [it’s] this beckoning siren call to Evie, but then there’s also a taunting theme that’s related to that as they toy with her as she’s going through the manor.

Is there any one theme that you would say is the most important or are they all equally important?

I think they all have their importance. But we probably hear the Carfax manor theme the most often and it’s full form. I think the other ones are often interwoven in, but sometimes they’re a little more variations of the theme. Just because they develop the most. Because Evie is the one developing the most during this.

So, I’ve been wanting to ask this, there’s jump scare moments in this movie, right? How does one go about writing music for those. I’ve always been curious how that’s done.

It’s seeing what works best for each moment and whether that’s leading up to the jump scare. A lot of times it’s being pretty violent. And then having both the music and the end of the scare come in, either at the same time, or having the music a half a fraction of a second after the scare, just because light and sound hit you at different times. So it’s jarring for both visuals and sound.

So when you do it, do you watch the film play out and just mark the spot?

Yeah, and sometimes there’s a little trial and error there. Moving it around a few frames at a time to see, okay, it feels like it’s giving it away a little bit here. Let’s try a few frames later. Or oh, now it feels too late. So there’s still a bit of a little trial and error in that regard.

So you said mentioned there’s a whole mix of instruments in this film, synthetic and whatnot. What specifically was used, because you said you modulated the orchestra.

There’s a lot of vocals, a lot of either found sounds or things that are reminiscent of found sounds. There are a lot of bells visually, like the service bells. It’s finding ways to have ethereal ringing bell sounds that make you think of bells to echo back having some sounds that are almost croaky. Because the vampires, they climb on the walls and the ceilings lizard-like. There are instances where we have things that sound like scraping tile, and which speaks to Evie and her love of ceramics. Yeah, so just a bunch of elements that are put together.

Could you define what found sounds are?

So [found sounds] are sounds you’d hear in nature. Or, for example, the sound of you scraping your fingernail, or a tile, or something like that, something that feels very organic and using that for more of a musical purpose.

So not traditional instruments stuff.

Yeah, exactly.

It almost sounds like what foley artists use?

Yeah, so it’s using some of those things, but using them musically, and using the rhythm of something or using the salient note that you might hear from that, and using that in a musical way.

How did working on The Invitation compare with other projects you’ve worked on?

I feel very fortunate to have a lot of variety lately in projects. I mean, [it was] definitely a very different tone than some of the more recent animation or comedy work [I’ve done]. But I love the freedom of finding strange sounds and having that sandbox to play around in. But something that’s very similar between, say, comedy and horror is how important timing is. And choosing moments that should have no music or when music should come in after the scare or after the joke. So that lead up to it. So like fine tuning those timings for the purpose of storytelling, it’s similar between a lot of genres.

You talk about timing, is there any one specific moment where the timing was absolutely crucial?

Actually, the moment when they reveal where the bride is, I suppose that would be it. But there’s not really a big reveal musically. I think we wanted to more feel the dread. But yeah, there are moments, other than the obvious jump scare moments, in terms of tone, and choosing when to change the tone from eerie and unsettling to dark. Like there’s a theme in the beginning where she was watching all these housekeepers being given their assignments and one thing that Jessica Thompson the director and I discussed where we should be eerie and unsettling, because she doesn’t know what’s going on. And then once she leaves the scene, then we can go back into the darker Gothic nature of everything that’s happening, but not to tip our hand too soon and really stay with [Evie] and her discovery.

So musically, you’re dropping hints to the audience, but not to Evie, as it were.

Yeah, yeah. In a way.

That’s cool. Where in the filming process, were they when you came in to do things?

So I was brought on right before they started shooting. And that’s when I started working on a suite of thematic ideas, just throwing everything at the table to see what was working and what wasn’t working. And that was a thing that Jessica [Thompson] specifically requested during production to be able to percolate these thoughts as early as possible.

So the director wanted you in there as early as possible, even before they’d shot anything.

Yeah. So we can all get on the same page.

I’d have to imagine that was very helpful for the process to have so much collaboration.

Yeah, it was great. And working with Jessica [Thompson] was a really phenomenal experience.

Did she give you a lot of feedback then?

Yeah, and it really gave me the license to just think outside of the box. And think of strange instruments and make it a little weird and unsettling.

Since you came in so early, how much time did you have for the actual scoring process?

I guess, from the time where we spotted so they finished, they finished a director’s cut. And we walked through where the music should come in and out and what the tone of that music should be. To the final delivering for the final mix, I’d say there’s probably two and a half months or so. But before then there was a couple of months where it was just working and thinking of ideas and all of that while they were in their editing process.

So I’m curious that as you were working these themes together, what theme, what part ended up coming first?

I started with Evie and Walt’s themes and the melodic structure of those, but then made some slight changes to the instrumentation and how they developed once I was able to see the picture.

Cool. So Evie and Walt are at the center of the whole thing.

Yeah, and then everything else came from from watching it. And the visuals really give you so much.

So now that the movie is out and people can go see it is there any musical detail you’re hoping the audience notices as they’re watching?

In the very beginning theme there’s a scene where one of the previous brides sees the grand piano and the piano wires. And she has to find a specific use for that. And when we see that I play around a lot with the prepared piano, which is like a piano, but things are done to the keys and to the inside to make strange sounds. That’s when I first introduced this instrumentation. And then, and in other instances of like escape and fighting back, I bring back these kinds of prepared piano sounds to harken back to that moment.


I hope you enjoyed my interview with Dara Taylor about The Invitation. I want to thank Dara for taking the time to speak with me about this film.

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Composer Interviews

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The Princess and the Frog “Friends on the Other Side” (2009)

Well, it’s been a long time since I did one of these, but I thought it was high time I got back to blogging about the amazing songs one can find in Disney’s animated films. And I decided to start with a film that I really should have covered several years ago back when the blog is new and that’s The Princess and the Frog. This 2009 film is an update of the classic tale of a prince turned into a frog, all set in the city of New Orleans.

There were a number of songs I could’ve started with in this film, but I decided to start with my favorite: “Friends on the Other Side.” This is the song that introduces Dr. Facilier, the film’s villain, to the story and sets Naveen’s dilemma (being turned into a frog) into motion. This song has striking similarities to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid, in that Dr. Facilier is offering Naveen a deal in exchange for what the prince thinks he wants and he uses his magical voodoo powers to make it happen.

Watch for yourself:

Keith David absolutely kills it as Dr. Facilier. Like any good Disney villain, Dr. Facilier oozes charm and menace in equal proportions and this song shows off both sides. Also, like any classic villain, Dr. Facilier cannot STAND to be disrespected, which is made pointedly clear in the beginning of the song:

Don’t you disrespect me, little man
Don’t you derogate or deride
You’re in my world now, not your world
And I got friends on the other side

(He’s got friends on the other side)

That’s an echo gentlemen.
Just a little something we have here in Louisiana
A little parlor trick. Don’t worry.

Sit down at my table
Put your minds at ease
If you relax it’ll enable me to do
Anything I please

I can read your future
I can change it ’round some, too
I’ll look deep into your heart and soul
(You do have a soul, don’t you, Lawrence?)
Make your wildest dreams come true

I got voodoo, I got hoodoo,
I got things I ain’t even tried
And I got friends on the other side

(He’s got friends on the other side)

Now while Dr. Facilier might initially come off as a charlatan (indeed Lawrence accuses him of being as much right before the song starts), what’s coming up with the cards implies that there really is some magic at work here. Note how Facilier twists the images to match everything Naveen seemingly wants (namely, money, which he’s currently cut off from until he gets married).

The cards, the cards, the cards will tell
The past, the present, and the future as well
The cards, the cards, just take three
Take a little trip into your future with me

Are you ready

Now you, young man, are from across the sea
You come from two long lines of royalty
I’m a royal myself, on my mother’s side
Your lifestyle’s high, but your funds are low
You need to marry a lil’ hunny whose daddy got dough
Mom and Dad cut you off, huh playboy?

Eh, sad but true.

And if the similarity to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” wasn’t already clear, that last line above from Facilier to Naveen about the latter being cut off from his money is another callback, because it reminds me very much of the comments Ursula made during her song (Remember her “Pathetic” line?)

Now y’all gotta get hitched but hitchin’ ties you down
You just wanna be free, hop from place to place
But freedom takes green

It’s the green, it’s the green
It’s the green you need
And when I looked into your future
It’s the green that I seen

But it’s this last verse below that really makes things interesting. Dr. Facilier is pulling double duty in this song, as not only is he offering a deal to Naveen, he’s also offering one to Lawrence, Naveen’s butler. Pay close attention to Lawrence’s reactions in this last verse, as it quickly becomes clear that the butler isn’t nearly as loyal as he looks (more like Edgar from The Aristocats than Grimsby from The Little Mermaid if you get my drift).

On you little man, I don’t want to waste much time
You’ve been pushed ’round all your life
You’ve been pushed ’round by your mother
And your sister and your brother.
And if you was married you’d be pushed around by your wife
But in your future, for you I see
Is exactly the man you always wanted to be

Shake my hand, c’mon on boys
Won’t you shake a poor sinner’s hand
(both Naveen and Lawrence shake Facilier’s hands)
Are you ready?

(Are you ready?)

One last note, I find it really cool how Dr. Facilier transforms his face to do his voodoo magic. It’s a simple transition but oh so effective. Plus, it makes Facililer ten times scarier. Also, I can’t help but notice the fear on poor Naveen’s face once he’s tied up by the magical snakes, he realizes far too late that he’s in way over his head.

Are you ready?
Transformation Central
(Transformation Central)

Reformation Central
Reformation central!

Transmogrification Central

(As Facilier’s Talisman bites him) Ow!

Can you feel it?

You’re changing, you’re changing,
You’re changing all right
I hope you’re satisfied
But if you ain’t, don’t blame me
You can blame my friends on the other side
Ha, ha, ha

(You got what you wanted)
(But you lost what you had)

It’s really interesting how the film holds off from showing the result of Naveen’s transformation (even though the trailer kind of gives it away). Lawrence’s reaction is really telling: even though he’s basically agreed to betray his master, I don’t think he was expecting THIS. He’s clearly spooked by Facilier’s voodoo and probably wondering something along the lines of “What on EARTH have I gotten myself into??”

And there you have it, my thoughts on “Friends on the Other Side” from The Princess and the Frog. It felt nice to get back to reviewing Disney songs and I can’t wait to do more.

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My Thoughts on: Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

I seriously can’t believe I almost didn’t go to see Thor: Love and Thunder in theaters. I meant to see it when it originally came out at the beginning of July, but between work stress and general burnout….well, let’s just say that didn’t happen. And were it any other movie I probably would have just let it appear on Disney+ and checked it out then.


I couldn’t let Thor: Love and Thunder pass me by like that because this movie adapts one of my favorite comic book stories, or rather it combines two of my favorite comic stories together. Namely, this movie adapts the story of Gorr the God Butcher and Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor (iconic helmet and all). The instant it was revealed that Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor would be appearing in the MCU, this movie had my full and undivided attention. I am a huge fan of the Mighty Thor and the opportunity to see this character realized on screen was an opportunity I just couldn’t miss. It was worth it too, because Natalie Portman absolutely KILLS it both as Dr. Jane Foster and as the Mighty Thor. I only wish that we could see more of this Thor on screen, but given that the multiverse is now a thing in the MCU…who knows? I won’t complain if we get to see the Mighty Thor again.

Then there’s Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher. Actually let me back up for a moment: the bulk of this movie adapts the God Butcher storyline where Gorr is on a mad quest to kill all the gods and I do mean ALL of them, spurred on after he loses his only daughter and discovers his own gods don’t care about him. The film only loosely adapts Gorr’s story to the film, with some notable changes being made (particularly with Gorr’s ultimate fate) but I found that I liked these changes as the film fully explains them and makes it work in the context of the story. They’re not changing things on a whim, and in the end I found Gorr’s character arc to be immensely satisfying.

But before we got to that end….my god….Gorr has to be one of the most terrifying characters ever encountered in the MCU to date. I thought Wanda in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness was the scariest thing ever…nope. It’s close but I have to give the nod to Gorr, he’s downright terrifying. Especially when he’s got that Necrosword in hand. The way he handles it….it just made my hair stand up on end. I’m so glad Christian Bale was convinced to take this role, I can’t imagine anyone doing it better than he did.

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see more of the Guardians of the Galaxy than what we got, but I take comfort in the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is on the way. And who knows, maybe Vol. 3 will pick up where their appearance in Love and Thunder leaves off.

Battle sequences with Gorr aside, I think my favorite part of Thor: Love and Thunder is Omnipotence City where all the gods of the universe can be found. I was a little unsure about Russell Crowe playing Zeus, but within sixty seconds of Zeus opening his mouth I completely understood and approved of the casting because you quickly learn everything you need to know about this version of the god (none of it good). Now, this is a minor spoiler if you still haven’t seen it, but I’m very excited by the notion that Crowe’s Zeus will be appearing in future MCU films, at least I hope that’s what that one post-credits scene implied. But back to Omnipotence City itself: it was beautifully rendered. It’s like….it’s exactly where you’d imagine all the gods would live if they had a single home to go to, it’s like Mt. Olympus on steroids, etc. The point is, it’s beautiful to look at.

One other quick note: I giggled when the acting troupe from Thor: Ragnarok showed up, acting out a scene from that movie no less. I sincerely hope they continue to be a running gag in future MCU films, not just Thor films either, they’re free to appear in any of them as far as I’m concerned.

And finally, I am thoroughly in love with King Valkyrie. I think this is what will finally push me to go watch Thor: Ragnarok (yes, I know, I’m terrible for not seeing that movie yet), because I know that’s where she first appears and I want to see more of her. Seriously though, Valkyrie is an amazing character and I love pretty much every moment she has in the movie (particularly a few of her moments in Omnipotence City).

I’m not sure where Thor’s story goes from here, but the final credit promised that Thor would return so hopefully sometime soon we’ll see what’s next for the God of Thunder. I really hope that at some point Thor finds out that a version of Loki is still alive, that would be a fun reunion to watch.

Let me know what you think about Thor: Love and Thunder in the comments below and have a great day!

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