Category Archives: Soundtracks

Soundtrack News: Soundtrack Album for Netflix Original Series ‘Away’ Available Now

Back Lot Music has digitally released an album from the Netflix Original Series Away (produced by Universal Television) by composer Will Bates (I OriginsAnother Earth). The sci-fi drama’s score is full of electronic atmospheric soundscapes with an intense emotional undercurrent. Bates takes listeners on a beautifully diverse sonic journey with this 22-track album.

Will Bates has scored a number of television series: Golden Globe & Emmy-nominated Netflix series Unbelievable, SyFy’s hit The Magicians, Hulu’s The PathChance and The Looming Tower, the Hilary Swank-led drama Away for Netflix, as well as NBC’s Rise. Other projects include Sweetbitter on Starz, the George R.R. Martin series Nightflyers on Netflix, and the Hulu biographical documentary Hillary. Will’s recent features include Michael Tyburski’s The Sound of Silence, the HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, and the horror-thriller Depraved. Upcoming features include Michael Haussman’s Rajah set in 19th century Borneo, Mike Cahill’s Bliss and Alex Gibney’s Crazy, Not Insane.

Regarding the music for Away, Will Bates had the following to say:

“I had an amazing experience scoring Away. Having worked with the showrunners on several projects together before, including The Path and Rise, there was already a shared language and a real mutual sense of trust…Sharing that explorer’s sense of wonder and aspiration, space itself can be something of an exciting blank canvas for a composer. And the showrunners were always keen to try something a little different. I found myself experimenting with all sorts of unusual instrumentation; from dulcimers, prepared pianos and dusty old parlor organs to modular synths, timpani and manipulated live strings. Identifying the human themes whilst capturing the vast distances of space. And of course, having one of the lead actor’s play pieces I’d written for him was thrilling in its own right,”

TRACKLISTING
01 Lunar Base Alpha
02 The Atlas Crew
03 I Love You Shithead
04 Launch
05 Making My Way Back To You
06 Reaching For Mars
07 How’s The View?
08 Calligraphy
09 Cracking Up
10 Spacewalk
11 Open The Hatch
12 I Just Need My Wife
13 Going Home
14 Anything Is Possible
15 I Need You To Go
16 Etude De Main Droit
17 Ice Harvest
18 Last Words
19 Forgetting
20 Descent
21 Anyone Wanna Go Again?
22 Atlas

You can enjoy the soundtrack album for Netflix’s Away now 🙂

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Dune “Main Theme” (1984)

With the Denis Villeneuve adaptation of Dune on the way, it only makes sense that I’d have all things “Dune” on the brain as of late, and that includes the music of the 1984 film that did its best but ultimately fell short of being a satisfying adaptation. Despite its flaws, I maintain that the 1984 adaptation of Dune is a fairly satisfying film, not least because of its musical score from Toto and Brian Eno.

One of my favorite musical moments in Dune is the main theme, which opens the story and recurs at pivotal moments. Take a moment and listen to the main theme of Dune below:

I love this theme because of how effective it is. It’s a simple enough melody but by thrumming up in the strings and brass it communicates the idea of power and growing tension, both themes that can be found throughout the story of Dune (as controlling Arrakis and the spice grants power and there’s unending tension between the Atreides/Fremen and the Harkonnens throughout the story).

It also, as I said before, recurs at pivotal moments throughout the film, and I’ll look at two of those moments as examples. The first example comes when Paul is summoning a sandworm for the Fremen. The theme begins when the massive sandworm is first seen rising up from the endless dunes. The placement of the music and visual image is pretty brilliant here, as the music rises up in conjunction with the worm, really making you feel the appearance of shai-hulud (the Fremen name for sandworms).

Notably, the main theme continues in a higher register once Paul has control of the sandworm, ending on a triumphant tone as the scene ends. This is one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie, and it’s all because of this wonderful music.

The second example I’d like to look at is at the end of the film, when Paul demonstrates his power as the Kwisatz Haderach. As Paul exerts all his power to cause rain to fall on Arrakis, the main theme recurs yet again. Now, instead of the sandworm’s power being highlighted, it’s Paul and his power that we’re being drawn to by the music. He’s doing something that no human has ever done before, he’s causing rain to fall on a desert planet that likely hasn’t seen a rainstorm in a hundred generations, if ever. It’s set up as a fairly powerful moment and I feel the music is what makes it so. Check it out below:

Now, unlike the first example with the sandworm, this example uses the music in an entirely different way. The scene with the sandworm almost vibrated with raw power. Here, at the end of the film as Paul assumes absolute power, the music assumes a higher register, even including a choir at one point to highlight the awesomeness of what Paul is doing. This is a profound moment, so the music, though the melody is the same, has to be that much different to carry the point across to the audience. This is the ultimate expression of the main theme, nothing will ever surpass this (or at least that’s the intention).

Yes, it’s true, Dune has many, MANY flaws, but the music is not one of them, as I hope these examples with the main theme show. I really believe this score is underrated and should be given more attention. I hope you enjoyed listening to some examples of Dune’s main theme.

Let me know what you think about the main theme of Dune in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack News: ‘The Nest’ Original Soundtrack Available September 18th

Milan Records has announced that the original motion picture soundtrack for The Nest (composed by Richard Reed Parry) will be released on September 18th, 2020. Available for preorder now, the album features music written by Parry for the thriller and marks Parry’s debut feature film score as solo composer.

Of the soundtrack for The Nest, composer RICHARD REED PARRY has this to say:

“When I watched the very first rough cut of The Nest without any music, I could feel right away what I wanted the score to be: Music that sounded like it was written and played somewhere within the massive old manor house that so much of the film centers around… I am very grateful to my fantastic musical collaborators, and for Sean Durkin’s trust in my own intuitive musical process and the artistic space and freedom he gave me to explore the musical landscape of his film.”

“Long before Richard was the composer for the film I was listening to his Music for Heart and Breath album while writing the script, so for him to come on to the project was very exciting for me,” adds The Nest director SEAN DURKIN. “It’s been an incredible collaboration working with him. He’s created a stunning score that captures the atmosphere and emotion I wanted the film to encompass.”

In The Nest, Rory (Jude Law), an ambitious entrepreneur and former commodities broker, persuades his American wife, Allison (Carrie Coon), and their children to leave the comforts of suburban America and return to his native England during the 1980s. Sensing opportunity, Rory rejoins his former firm and leases a centuries-old country manor, with grounds for Allison’s horses and plans to build a stable. Soon the promise of a lucrative new beginning starts to unravel, the couple have to face the unwelcome truths lying beneath the surface of their marriage.

THE NEST (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)

TRACKLISTING – 

1. Drone Beast
2. Symphony Brew
3. Base Motives 
4. Murky Half
5. What We’ve Always Wanted
6. Base Motives II
7. New Descent
8. The House
9. Dark Tumbling
10. Drone Beast: UK
11. Symphony Brew Redux
12. Slow Descent
13. Drone Beast: In the Air


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Soundtrack Review: Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege (2020)

Hasbro has digitally released Transformers: War for Cybertron – Siege Original Anime Series Soundtrack by Alexander Bornstein. The soundtrack features 17 electro-charged tracks from the hit Netflix Original Series, in partnership with Rooster Teeth. I had the opportunity to interview Alexander Bornstein about his work on this series earlier this summer and I’m thrilled that everyone will have the chance to listen to this great soundtrack apart from the series.

Bornstein had this to say about the incredible task of creating new music for the beloved franchise:

“Being brought on to compose an entirely new musical world for the ‘Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy’ on Netflix has been both a dream job and huge creative responsibility. The world of the Autobots and Decepticons has been part of my pop culture psyche for a long time, going all the way back to watching G1 reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel in the early 90s.  I’m very excited fans will now have a chance to delve deeper into the music of the trilogy’s first chapter ‘Siege’, and hear the show’s themes for characters like Elita-1, extensive use of analog synthesizers, and amazing solo players.”

If you haven’t gotten the chance to experience Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege, check out the synopsis below to get an idea of what the story is about:

TRANSFORMERS: WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY – SIEGE begins in the final hours of the devastating civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons. The war that has torn apart their home planet of Cybertron is at a tipping point. Two leaders, Optimus Prime and Megatron, both want to save their world and unify their people, but only on their own terms. In an attempt to end the conflict, Megatron is forced to consider using the Allspark, the source of all life and power on Cybertron, to “reformat” the Autobots, thus “unifying” Cybertron. Outnumbered, outgunned, and under SIEGE, the battle-weary Autobots orchestrate a desperate series of counterstrikes on a mission that, if everything somehow goes right, will end with an unthinkable choice: kill their planet in order to save it.

Getting to hear the soundtrack by itself was an absolute delight. The tracks I was most interested in hearing were the first three on the list: “Autobots”, “Decepticons”, and “Cybertron.” I remembered from my conversation with Alexander Bornstein that these tracks were the starting point of the score and I was very curious to see how they played out and related to each other. Sure enough, there is a definite relation between “Autobots” and “Decepticons.” Even though they’re themes for opposite sides of the conflict, you can definitely tell they’re two halves of the same coin, which is a brilliant decision since it recasts the conflict on Cybertron in an entirely new light.

The other theme I was particularly interested in listening to was “Elita’s Theme,” since the composer related to me that it was one he really liked it. It is, indeed, a beautiful theme to listen to, and not surprisingly there’s a strong connection to the “Autobots” theme. It’s always interesting to hear how themes are connected to one another, using the same melodies but twisting them slightly to fit different characters. These similarities actually expand into most of the soundtrack, since, as the composer explained, the first three themes on the list serve as the base for pretty much every other melody in the soundtrack. It’s one thing to hear about this but it’s another to see it in action without the rest of the TV episode to distract me.

TRACK LISTING

  1. “Autobots” (3:22)
  2. “Decepticons” (3:34)
  3. “Cybertron” (2:04)
  4. “Optimus Steps In” (4:21)
  5. “The Ark” (3:15)
  6. “Optimus And Elita-1 (Elita’s Theme)” (2:14)
  7. “We Are Not Decepticons” (2:09)
  8. “Traitor” (2:37)
  9. “Metal Vortex” (2:45)
  10. “Megatron’s Speech” (3:44)
  11. “Alpha Trion Protocols” (4:11)
  12. “Sea Of Rust/Virus Attack” (4:13)
  13. “The Ark Takes Flight” (4:04)
  14. “Battle Of The Space Bridge” (3:08)
  15. “For Cybertron” (4:00)
  16. “A New Leader” (1:24)
  17. “Siege End (Autobots Theme Reprise)” (1:20)

In a year that’s been turned upside down, the soundtrack for Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege has been a sorely needed bright spot. Fans of Transformers both old and new will love this music. I can’t reiterate enough how happy I am that the soundtrack is now available, since now everyone can take the time to listen to some gorgeous music.

Let me know what you think about the music for Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege (2020)

For Cybertron! Talking with Alexander Bornstein about ‘Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege’

TV Soundtracks

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Soundtrack Review: Marvel’s Avengers (2020)

Hollywood Records has released the complete soundtrack for the recently released video game Marvel’s Avengers, with music composed by Bobby Tahouri. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Bobby Tahouri comes from a musical family, and began playing piano at the age of seven. He studied piano and composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and also at the California Institute of the Arts, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Music Composition.

Marvel’s Avengers allows you to take control of earth’s mightiest heroes in an all new original playable story. Crafting original music for these iconic characters is no easy task, but Bobby Tahouri (Rise Of The Tomb Raider) has composed an epic, sweeping score deserving of the massive playable roster of Marvel heroes.

Epic and sweeping are certainly two good words to describe Bobby Tahouri’s score for Marvel’s Avengers. It also, to my ears, sounded strikingly familiar. Starting with the first track, “Every Hero Has to Start Somewhere”, it occurred to me that what I was hearing sounded quite similar to the Avengers main theme as composed by Alan Silvestri in The Avengers (2012). Well, maybe that’s not quite the right way to put it. Tahouri’s music isn’t identical to Silvestri’s theme, but they do sound to me like they could easily belong in the same musical family, there is definitely a thematic relationship present. Given that the game centers on the Avengers, this is appropriate.

Another detail I like about this soundtrack is how dynamic it is. As you might expect with a soundtrack for an action-adventure game, most of the music is loud, bombastic, and clearly following video game-style fighting. However, Tahouri does take the time to slow down in a few places (parts of “New Normal” and “No More Heroes” are prime examples). These tracks are refreshing to hear because they give your ears a brief rest from the frenetic pace that makes up most of the soundtrack.

As video game soundtracks go, Marvel’s Avengers sounds pretty good. I like that it sounds similar in certain respects to the 2012 film (and the Avengers films in general). I haven’t gotten to see the game in action, but this feels like the kind of music you’d want to have in an action game like this.

Let me know what you think about the music for Marvel’s Avengers in the comments below and have a great day!

TRACK LISTING

1. “Every Hero Has to Start Somewhere” (8:45)

2. “The Light That Failed” (2:48)

3. “God of Thunder” (3:13)

4. “They Played Us” (1:22)

5. “New Normal” (2:27)

6. “I Am Iron Man” (3:00)

7. “Am I Alone?” (2:13)

8. “No More Heroes” (2:14)

9. “To Stand Alone” (2:06)

10. “Some Things Haven’t Changed” (2:10)

11. “We Are Dangerous” (1:38)

12. “Hulk Smash” (1:41)

13. “Perfect Landing” (2:01)

14. “Old Friend” (1:33)

15. “By Force of Mind” (3:08)

16. “It’s a Thing Your Do” (3:18)

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

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Soundtrack Review: Stargirl (season 1) (2020)

WaterTower Music is pleased to announce that the Season 1 soundtrack for DC’s Stargirl is now available on all platforms.

DC’s Stargirl: Season 1 (Original Television Score) features 22 tracks from the debut season of the hit series. Recently wrapping its first season on both The CW and DC UNIVERSE, DC’s Stargirl was recently renewed for a second season exclusively on The CW. Based on the character created by Geoff Johns, DC’s Stargirl features an epic score by the award-winning film and television composer Pinar Toprak, who received her first Primetime Emmy® nomination this year for her work on HBO’s McMillions.

Toprak was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, where she began her classical music education at the age of five. After studying composition and multiple instruments at the conservatory, she moved to Chicago to study jazz, before continuing on to Boston for a degree in film scoring from Berklee College of Music. She then moved to Los Angeles, earned a master’s degree at CSUN in composition at age 22. In addition to DC’s Stargirl, she has composed for major Super Hero sagas like Captain Marvel, and Warner Horizon Scripted Television’s Superman prequel series Krypton. She also scored HBO’s six-part docuseries McMillions, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and earned her a 2020 Emmy® nomination. In addition, she has written music for Epic Games’ massively popular online video game Fortnite.

Regarding season 1 of Stargirl, composer Pinar Toprak had the following to say:

“I’m a huge fan of show creator Geoff Johns and everything he’s done,” remarked Toprak. “When we met, the way he talked about Courtney, the character, and his vision for DC’s Stargirl really touched my heart. Obviously, I love this genre to begin with, so it was a no-brainer to compose the score. Working with Geoff was just one of the best experiences of my career, to be honest.”

From a purely musical standpoint (I have yet to see the actual show), I love Stargirl. I loved it even before I heard it because I knew that Pinar Toprak would be scoring the series, and I’m a big fan of her work on Krypton (an underrated series with a severely underrated soundtrack and, of course, Captain Marvel. And the music of Stargirl is just as amazing as her previous works in the genre. Pinar Toprak has this amazing ability, that I first noticed in Krypton’s first season soundtrack, to take a television series and give it a “big screen” feel with the powerful themes she creates. Such is the case with Stargirl. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear this was a movie soundtrack, and that’s not a bad thing. I feel like any work in the superhero genre, be it film or television, should have a certain sound to it. You almost need that brassy, heroic sound to chart the adventures of the fledgling heroine (there are exceptions of course, the short-lived Constantine and Swamp Thing come to mind).

On a side note, speaking of Krypton, it may be my imagination but a few of the tracks in Stargirl sound similar to that earlier show. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as any string of works by the same composer are bound to sound similar in certain areas. I just find it interesting that Krypton (a series based on Superman’s home planet), and Stargirl (another DC comics series) have a similar sound.

Another detail I really enjoyed about the soundtrack of Stargirl is its almost symphonic quality. That is to say, the main theme that Pinar Toprak introduces at the beginning of the soundtrack album recurs throughout, but in slightly different ways, exactly as it would be if this music were in a symphony played in the concert hall. I feel like the superhero genre is ideally suited to symphonic music (similar to the Star Wars films), and listening to this great music just reinforces how well the two fit together.

I highly recommend checking out the soundtrack for Stargirl’s first season. It’s a stirring soundtrack from a great composer and one that any fan of superhero music should check out. On one final note, I’ve seen Stargirl get some mixed reviews here and there. Whatever your thoughts are on the series itself, don’t let that stop you from checking out the soundtrack. There’s a world of difference between hearing a soundtrack during the actual show and listening to the music with no distractions. So please, give the soundtrack a chance, you won’t regret it.

Let me know what you think about the soundtrack for Stargirl season 1 and have a great day!

See also:

TV Soundtracks

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For Cybertron! Talking with Alexander Bornstein about ‘Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege’

Earlier this summer I was granted the opportunity to speak to Alexander Bornstein about his work on the Netflix series Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege. A reimagining of the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, Siege takes you deeper into Cybertron than ever before, and turns everything you thought you knew about Optimus Prime and Megatron (and their conflict) upside down.

Alexander Bornstein is an award-winning composer currently based in Los Angeles. His music has been heard on television, independent films, feature films, web series, documentaries in the festival circuit, and concert halls around the U.S.  Alexander has also been at the forefront of new multimedia platforms, composing music for one of the first VR television series. His projects include (but are not limited to): The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space (the Netflix series), The Boys, Agent Carter, and of course, Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege.

How did you get started with composing for film and television?

It’s actually a roundabout story. I’d been listening to film scores since first or second grade, it was really a genre of music I gravitated to. I grew up listening to Basil Poledouris, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and Hans Zimmer, a lot of composers that everyone’s familiar with. I then started as a filmmaker when I went to college. I wanted to be a writer/director, so I was writing feature scripts, I was directing short films, but I was always doing music on my own time. I didn’t really start to study music extensively until I was about 20 years old in my second year of college. I’d always had this passion for film music, but I didn’t really know how to write music even though I really wanted to do that. And so in college I started experimenting on my own. Then I met the right collective of professors who told me “Well if you really want to do this, this is what you need to do.” It was kind of, before I knew what was happening, I was declaring a music major and writing music, then studying with a composer. When I graduated from undergrad I decided I wanted to go to grad school and one of the programs I got into was for film scoring. I took that as a sign from the universe that I should give this a shot professionally.

How familiar were you with the Transformers series before you started working on War for Cybertron?

I was fairly familiar [with Transformers]. I was a big fan of the original cartoon when I was a kid, because the SyFy channel would air the G1 cartoons on its morning animation block. That’s how I became familiar with Optimus Prime, Megatron, Autobots, and all that. That gave me a fleeting familiarity with Transformers growing up because of my love for G1. I watched a little bit of Beast Wars, I kept up with the series over the years and got re-introduced when the first movie came out. It was really cool to see Peter Cullen come back as Optimus Prime. So there’s always been this familiarity with the franchise as I grew up.

On a related note, did the music from past Transformers series influence your work on this score at all? Any musical Easter Eggs that longtime fans might notice?

That was a discussion I had pretty extensively with F.J. DeSanto, the showrunner, when we started. The risky thing about this series is that it is a step in a new direction for what many have seen in a Transformers show before. There’s obviously a lot of callbacks, since the show was written by fans, it is definitely a faithful update. But, to your question, we never really wanted to go too far into referencing stuff from the Robert Walsh and Johnny Douglas scores or the Vince DiCola score from The Transformers: The Movie. I can’t speak for what might happen in the future, but I think for this first chapter of the trilogy we tried to focus on creating a new sound and not necessarily incorporate stuff from previous iterations of the franchise. We talked about it when I started and decided to step away from trying that out, but you never know what could happen in future chapters.

How did you approach scoring War for Cybertron? What was your starting point with putting the music together?

The first thing I wanted to do was create three main themes for the series. Those three main themes would basically be the building blocks of all the music for the show. Once I was officially onboard, I started working on a theme for the Autobots, the Decepticons, and then for Cybertron itself. From those themes, I had discussions with F.J. [DeSanto] about what kind of instrumentation was wanted, what kind of sounds should be tried. Once I did that I went off on my own for a few months. They were just getting started on the animation when I started, so there wasn’t really anything for me to work on, so I had all this time to bat ideas around. Once I had those three themes, I presented them, we signed off on them, and then from those themes I felt pretty comfortable diving into the actual series and working on the score.

The approach I tried to take is, rather than getting too motivic, because of the amount of characters on the show, I tried to keep the music more economic and lean, for example by developing the Autobots theme based on various characters and situations. So, there’s a heroic variation of the Autobot’s theme for Optimus Prime, and likewise similar variations for the Decepticon’s theme. The theme is arranged or developed in different ways specific for a character. One thing I’ve learned during projects is that it’s difficult to get themes established, especially now with content and stories moving so rapidly with so much to go through. I wanted to rely on less [music] so I could keep repeating it to get it established more efficiently. From those three themes there are some sub-motifs here and there. For example, the All-Spark has a sub-motif that gets developed in different ways. Elita-1 has a theme of her own that starts with the same chords as the Autobot theme but then goes in a different direction. The Decepticon theme its actually part of the Autobot theme, just with different chords. Basically, there’s a “B” section to the Autobot’s theme that is uplifting and hopeful and that is the basis of what became the Decepticon theme with a more minor key in the harmony. Ultimately, this [similarity] is because at one time they were all Cybertronians.

What kind of instruments did you use for the score? Considering that it’s Transformers, I’d imagine there was a lot of electronic music? Or maybe not?

There’s definitely a heavy electronic component, that was something we decided upon early on. There is a big orchestral component as well, for the emotional as well as the action-heavy moments. Inspiration was taken from synth waves and that genre of writing, but I also looked at Vangelis and Jóhann Jóhannsson for some of the other, more static textures. It was an interesting challenge to take something like Transformers, which up until now has been fairly ‘heavy’ and taking it in a slightly different direction with more static and organic textures. There’s still some very reliable old-school synth arpeggios, the analog sounds, but you’re also getting some of these organic, processed textures as well, so it’s not a complete retread of what people have heard already.

Have you finished the scoring process for Siege? How long did scoring take? 

I began in August of 2019 and then I finished writing it in January of 2020. I was given a lot of time, which is somewhat atypical for a television production, and definitely on animation. It was a really good opportunity to make sure we were always putting our best foot forward. This has also been the case for “Earthrise” (Part 2 of the War for Cybertron series). I can take a step back and be like “Is this really the best version of this cue, do i need to fix anything?” as opposed to just grinding it out as quickly as possible.

Do you have a favorite part of the soundtrack? Any favorite themes?

I was really happy with how the theme for Elita-1 turned out. She’s kind of a breakout character on the show for me and I wanted to make sure that she had a theme that could

really stand on its own. It gets some really good opportunities in the series to develop. It shows up for the first time in episode 2, and then it gets a lot of chances to develop. I was really happy with how it turned out. It was one of those instances where you write and hope that you don’t get any notes on it because you don’t want to change anything about it. Thankfully, it came through and they didn’t have any notes on it. So I was really pleased to come up with this theme for a character that I really liked and seeing it stick in the series has been really great.

I want to say thank you to Alexander Bornstein for taking the time to talk with me about his work on Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege. You can currently view the series on Netflix. There is currently no release date for Transformers: War for Cybertorn: Earthrise, though I was given to understand that the scoring for Earthrise is ongoing at the time the interview took place.

See also:

My Thoughts on: Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege (2020)

Composer Interviews

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

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Soundtrack Review: Ghost of Tsushima (2020)

Today I had the chance to check out the soundtrack for the upcoming video game Ghost of Tsushima, which will be available (as will the soundtrack) on July 17, 2020. The music for Ghost of Tsushima was composed by Ilan Eshkeri and Shigeru Umebayashi.

 

Ilan Eshkeri is an award winning composer, artist, songwriter, producer and creator. Eshkeri’s work is performed in concert halls, theatres, galleries, on film & television and video games; his eclectic body of work is linked by his love of narrative. Recently, Ilan and Ralph Fiennes completed their third film together -a biopic about Rudolf Nureyev, ‘The White Crow’. This followed the creation of a ballet ‘Narcissus and Echo’, choreographed by famed dancer Sergei Polunin with set designs by David LaChapelle and a ballet commission from Rambert Dance Company.

Shigeru Umebayashi is an internationally renowned composer best known for creating “Yumeji’s Theme” in Wong KarWai’s film “In The Mood For Love”. In addition to also collaborating with Wong KarWai on “2046”, Umebayashi was the music producer and composer for Zhang Yimous’ films “House of Flying Daggers” and “Curse of The Golden Flower”. In “House of Flying Daggers”, he composed the song “Lovers” with soprano Kathleen Battle.

Of the soundtrack, composer ILAN ESHKERI says:

“Ghost of Tsushima is such a beautiful game set in a culture that has always fascinated me, with a powerful and compelling story. Everything about it touched me creatively and I learned so much on the journey. The score brings together Japanese music and instruments, with sounds I’ve performed and a symphony orchestra all led by melody. I hope together it creates an emotional world that touches you and draws you into the heart and spirit of Ghost.”

“When I was composing for Ghost of Tsushima, I was inspired by Japan’s nature, climate, traditional lifestyle and classical Japanese music. When players hear the music, I hope that they feel the hearts of the people of Tsushima – those who love the land, living and plowing with the natural bounties it offers, and those of the warriors who take their katanas and follow the way of the samurai,” adds composer SHIGERU UMEBAYASHI.

Having listened to most of this soundtrack, I have to say that the words of both composers do not do this soundtrack justice. This is, by far, one of the greatest soundtracks I’ve listened to this year. It doesn’t even sound like something you’d hear in a video game, this feels like pure cinema through and through, something I’ve noticed more and more often in video game soundtracks as gameplay in new video games has lately felt more like “it’s a movie but one you participate in.”

What’s really drawn me to the music for Ghost of Tsushima, aside from its cinematic qualities, are how it perfectly blends the traditional sounds of Japanese music with a full-blown symphony orchestra. I thought I knew what to expect when I downloaded this soundtrack to check it out, but I had no clue. This is a perfect marriage of musical styles, and both Eshkeri and Umebayashi should be congratulated for creating something so beautiful.

Two tracks that I must highlight are “The Way of the Ghost” and “The Fate of Tsushima.” The former serves as the introductory piece in the soundtrack, and is ideally suited for that task. While the melody frequently flirts with a melancholy identity, it is otherwise full to bursting with tension, promising lots of adventures to come as the game is just beginning. The latter track, “The Fate of Tsushima”, to me it feels like the fulfillment of everything “The Way of the Ghost” promised. It’s full of action, melodies that continually hop and leap without pausing for rest. Out of the entire soundtrack, this sounded like the climax of the story, with everything coming together in one glorious moment of musical perfection.

In the late 13th century, the Mongol empire has laid waste to entire nations along their campaign to conquer the East. Tsushima Island is all that stands between mainland Japan and a massive Mongol invasion fleet led by the ruthless and cunning general, Khotun Khan. As the island burns in the wake of the first wave of the Mongol assault, samurai warrior Jin Sakai stands as one of the last surviving members of his clan. He is resolved to do whatever it takes, at any cost, to protect his people and reclaim his home. He must set aside the traditions that have shaped him as a warrior to forge a new path, the path of the Ghost, and wage an unconventional war for the freedom of Tsushima.

I know 2020 is far from over, but I’m going to be hard pressed to find a better soundtrack to listen to than what I’ve heard for Ghost of Tsushima.

You can get the soundtrack for Ghost of Tsushima (along with the game) on July 17, 2020.

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

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Soundtrack News: ‘No. 7 Cherry Lane’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Available Now

Milan Records has release the original motion picture soundtrack for No. 7 Cherry Lane, an album of music from iconic director & writer Yonfan’s new animated film composed by Yonfan himself, Yu Yat-Yiu and Chapavich Temnitikul. Set in 1967 Hong Kong, No.7 Cherry Lane originally debuted at the 76th Venice Film Festival in 2019, where it was awarded Best Screenplay, and has since toured film festivals around the world in advance of its opening in Hong Kong later this summer.

 

Described by the director as “my love letter to Hong Kong and cinema”, No.7 Cherry Lane is Yonfan’s 14th motion picture – all of which he has written, directed and produced – and his first since 2009. It is also his first animated feature.  The eclectic score of lush orchestral music was composed by artists including Yonfan himself, Yu Yat-Yiu and Chapavich Temnitikul and recorded live in Prague.

YONFAN states that his motion pictures share an underlying theme of passion. A true auteur, his films are entirely self-produced, directed, written, and distributed. Yonfan began directing features in 1984, often for his own production company Far Sun Film, and has worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Japan. He has made a total of fourteen movies, set in various periods and locales, first receiving international notice at the Berlin International Film Festival with the gay-themed drama Bishonen. His subsequent film, the Chinese opera-based Peony Pavilion, was named one of the year’s ten best by Time magazine in 2002, and garnered Rie Miyazawa the Best Actress award at the Moscow International Film Festival. His previous feature, Prince of Tears, was Hong Kong’s selection to compete in the Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film, and was selected for competition at the 2009 Venice Film Festival

The theme song “Southern Cross” was composed by Yonfan and the rapper BOYoung, fusing together a 1940s, Shanghai-style melody sung by legendary Taiwanese singer CHYI YU, with a contemporary style performed by BOYoung and ZOE YU. This bold juxtaposition represents the collision of yesterday, today and tomorrow at the heart of the movie.

No.7 Cherry Lane tells the tale of Ziming, a Hong Kong University undergraduate, entangled between his amorous feelings for a self-exiled mother, Mrs Yu from Taiwan in the White Terror period, and her beautiful daughter Meiling. He takes them to different movies and through a series of magical moments on the big screen, forbidden passions are revealed. And the era coincides with Hong Kong’s turbulent times of 1967.

NO.7 CHERRY LANE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)

TRACKLISTING –

1.          Behind the Cherry Lane

2.          Rhythm of the Breeze

3.          Sunset Whispers

4.          Room at the Top

5.          Into the Red Chamber Featuring Wang Fang, Zhao Wenlin

6.          Night Rider

7.          A Love Story

8.          Southern Cross Featuring Chyi Yu, BOYoung, Zoe Yu, Kenneth Tsang, Zhao Wei

9.          Descending the Stairs

10.       A Dream Charade Featuring Sylvia Chang

11.       Winter Cometh

12.       Last Romance Featuring Chyi Yu

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Soundtrack Review: The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners (2020)

Recently I got the chance to listen to the soundtrack for The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners. This is a first-person VR game set in the world of The Walking Dead. It was released this year for both Oculus, Steam, and Playstation VR. In the game, you must fight to survive in walker-infested New Orleans, with danger lurking around every corner.

The soundtrack for The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners was composed by Michael David Peter, with vocals provided by Joshua Mosely and Suzanne Waters. Peter has worked on the soundtracks for a number of video games over the years, including: Gears of War 4, Borderlands 2, Lord of the Rings: Conquest, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect.

The music for The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners caught me by surprise and definitely proved that I need to re-evaluate my opinion on VR games. Not only does the music sound like something straight out of the The Walking Dead (from what I remember of the series, I haven’t watched in many years), it’s also really diverse. At first I thought the soundtrack would just be numerous “variations on a theme” where most of the tracks sound vaguely alike (a trait you come across from time to time in soundtracks). This is simply not how this soundtrack is put together though. There are ominous pieces, jazzy pieces, even, and this caught my attention, tracks that are just talking, with voices telling stories. I think this last example might come from things you can find throughout the game, because there’s the sound of a tape recorder starting at the beginning, but I don’t know for certain.

I’m very impressed by how diverse the music is in this soundtrack. If I were playing this VR game, I would definitely be scared out of my mind listening to some of these pieces like “Via Carolla”, that one definitely scared me because there’s an ominous growl that recurs throughout the piece. I also really like the pieces that are clearly influenced by the sounds of New Orleans (brassy melodies, the kind of things you’d expect to hear if you visited the city). I’m also really impressed at the sheer size of this soundtrack, this is easily twice the size of most soundtracks that I come across.

Track Listing

1. Tune In To The Reclaimed (Michael David Peter & Janell Lenfert) 0:33
2. Stir The Herd (Michael David Peter) 2:08
3. Who Are You? (Michael David Peter) 2:19
4. Braining 101 (Michael David 1:47
5. Legend Of The Reserve (Michael David Peter) 3:12
6. Fifty Fifty Still Stands (Michael David Peter) 1:57
7. Charlie Boy ( Michael David Peter & Myk Watford) 4:24
8. Bayou Story Time (Joshua Mosley) 3:11
9. The Resting Place – Morning (Michael David Peter) 2:48
10. Via Carolla (Michael David Peter) 3:10
11. The Tower Will Always Stand (Michael David Peter & Debra Wilson) 0:56
12. The Resting Place – Night (Michael David Peter) 2:45
13. What Is A Beast? (Michael David Peter & Myk Watford) 2:36
14. In The Pines (Joshua Mosley) 3:05
15. Make Contact (Michael David Peter) 0:46
16. Where The Jazz Men Play (Michael David Peter) 2:34
17. The Tomb And The Tower (Michael David Peter & Morla Gorrondona) 1:19
18. Gumbo Groove (Joshua Mosley) 2:52
19. Memorial Lane (Michael David Peter) 1:45
20. May Benoit Is A Traitor (Michael David Peter & Debra Wilson) 1:16
21. My Brother’s Keeper (Michael David Peter) 1:49
22. A Gift From The Reclaimed (Michael David Peter) 1:50
23. The Kindness Of Strangers (Michael David Peter) 2:46
24. Where Is She? (Michael David Peter & Myk Watford) 3:39
25. BBQ & Jam (Joshua Mosley) 3:04
26. The Most Wanted Woman In NOLA (Michael David Peter) 1:34
27. The Blue Palace (Michael David Peter) 3:09
28. Humble Beginnings (Michael David Peter & Debra Wilson) 1:40
29. The Bells (Michael David Peter) 1:08
30. The Most Wonderous Dream (Michael David Peter & Myk Watford) 3:23
31. Bourbon Break (Joshua Mosley) 2:54
32. Halfway There (Joshua Mosley) 2:57
33. Bywater (Michael David Peter) 3:08
34. Forbidden Love (Michael David Peter) 2:21
35. Forty-Five Tall, Forty-Eight Strong (Michael David Peter & Debra Wilson) 2:14
36. The House Of The Rising Sun (Joshua Mosley) 2:41
37. Carriage Ride (Joshua Mosley) 3:17
38. The Tic (Michael David Peter & Myk Watford) 2:43
39. When The Levee Breaks (Joshua Mosley) 2:43
40. Rampart High (Michael David Peter) 1:57
41. Alone Together (Michael David Peter) 1:31
42. Soul Food (Joshua Mosley) 3:09
43. The Climb To A Brighter Future (Michael David Peter & Debra Wilson) 2:06
44. One Of Those NOLA Nights (Michael David Peter) 1:28
45. The Tourist And The Prophet (Michael David Peter & Myk Watford) 2:41
46. When The Saints Go Marching In (Joshua Mosley) 3:04
47. Hills And Valleys (Joshua Mosley) 3:13
48. The Pumps (Michael David Peter) 0:48
49. Lights In The Sky (Michael David Peter) 1:10
50. Our Resident Picasso (Michael David Peter) 1:23
51. Battle For The Reserve (Michael David Peter) 1:00
52. Saint Vincent’s (Michael David Peter) 0:53
53. Waterfall (Michael David Peter) 1:04
54. The Nave (Michael David Peter) 1:05
55. The Reserve (Michael David Peter) 0:59
56. The House Of The Rising Sun (Reprise Version) (Michael David Peter)

I really enjoyed listening to the soundtrack for The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners. It was a completely different experience (and that’s not a bad thing). While I won’t be able to check out the game anytime soon (I don’t have a VR setup), I do have a great appreciation for any game that features a soundtrack this expansive.

Let me know what you think about the music for The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

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