Category Archives: Soundtracks

Soundtrack Review: Returnal (2021)

On May 7th, Milan Records released the original soundtrack to the newest Playstation 5 game Returnal, with the music composed by Bobby Krlic. Best known for his work as the Haxan Cloak, Bobby Krlic brings his experience as an award-winning composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist to Returnal, imbuing the score with a gritty and experimental quality that matches the tone of the third-person shooter game. The album marks Krlic’s first-ever video game title as lead composer and follows his critically acclaimed, award-winning scores for director Ari Aster’s Midsommar, Hulu’s Reprisal, TNT’s Snowpiercer and The Alienist.

Bobby Krlic (aka The Haxan Cloak) is a British artist, composer and record producer based in Los Angeles. Over the past decade, he has created music under The Haxan Cloak, releasing two critically acclaimed full-length albums (The Haxan Cloak and Excavation) and touring extensively as a solo artist, building a devout fanbase. In 2015, Krlic began collaborating with fellow producer and Oscar-winning film composer Atticus Ross on soundtracks including John Hillcoat’s Triple 9 and Michael Mann’s Blackhat. Since then, Krlic has scored a number of major network television shows including TNT’s SnowpiercerThe Alienist: Angel of Darkness and Hulu’s Reprisal as well as a recent collaboration with Swans for Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2. Notably, he wrote the much lauded original soundtrack to Ari Aster’s sophomore feature film Midsommar, for which Krlic received The Ivor Novello for Best Original Score in 2020.

In Returnal, after crash-landing on a shape-shifting alien planet, Selene must search through the barren landscape of an ancient civilization for her escape. Isolated and alone, she finds herself fighting tooth and nail for survival. Again and again, she’s defeated – forced to restart her journey every time she dies. Through relentless roguelike gameplay, you’ll discover that just as the planet changes with every cycle, so do the items at your disposal. Every loop offers new combinations, forcing you to push your boundaries and approach combat with a different strategy each time.

The music for Returnal is, well, it’s really incredible. I was immediately intrigued by the game’s “caught in a time loop” premise and wondered how the game’s music would play into that concept. As far as I can tell, the music does connect to that idea of time repeating itself over and over again, though not in the way I thought it might. Most of the tracks sound warped and distorted, there are sudden, static-like sounds that cut in and out of the music, and my favorite part? There are times when it sounds like voices are cutting in to the music, creating this muddled effect that makes it sound like you really are lost in time.

The instrumental mix is about what you’d expect for a game like Returnal, a combination of electronic instruments and synthesizers mixed in with choral voices. What really caught me by surprise though is how calm the music is for the most part. Given what I’ve heard about this game, I was expecting sci-fi music that was more action-oriented, or at least faster-paced. But it’s nothing like that, and it’s making me seriously reconsider what this game is all about. This sounds like a more cerebral game than I initially thought, and I’m very excited about that. I like games that require you to think and this music makes me think Returnal is one of those games.

If I have one complaint about the soundtrack for Returnal, it’s that it’s surprisingly short, there’s only nine tracks in total. I don’t know if that speaks to the overall length of the game, but I’ve seen some soundtrack albums that are three times as long, and it was startling to see this one be so short.

That minor issue aside, I enjoyed the soundtrack for Returnal, and I think all of you will too.

Returnal Track List

  1. The Crash
  2. The Forest
  3. Helios
  4. Citadel
  5. Murals
  6. Recessed
  7. Motionless
  8. A Mysterious Device
  9. Dream Already Seen

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

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Video Game Soundtracks

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Making Unique Music for Superheroes: Talking with Composer Stephanie Economou about ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ (2021)

Just recently I had the opportunity to speak with composer Stephanie Economou about her work on the upcoming Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy. Stephanie is the composer of the upcoming Netflix TV series Jupiter’s Legacy, based on the comic series by Mark Millar. She has written the music for the Lionsgate/Starz series Step Up: High Water, as well as the second season of Manhunt: Deadly Games. Stephanie also scored two episodes of the Disney+ documentary series Marvels 616, directed by Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie. Most recently, she has completed the score for the Assassin’s Creed DLC “Siege of Paris.”

Originally from Long Island, New York, Stephanie received her Bachelor’s degree in Composition from the New England Conservatory of Music and Master’s in Composition for Visual Media from University of California Los Angeles.

I hope you enjoy our conversation about Jupiter’s Legacy, which premieres on Netflix on May 7, 2021.

How did you get started as a film and television composer? 

While I was studying composition at New England Conservatory, I ended up scoring a couple of short films directed by some friends I had from high school. After writing mostly concert music up until that point, it felt refreshing to be part of a creative collaboration that challenged me to explore different artistic avenues. I moved to Los Angeles after graduating and pursued my Master’s degree in Composition for Visual Media at UCLA. It was during my time as a student there that I met Harry Gregson-Williams, who subsequently hired me as his assistant. I spent six years working with Harry, composing additional music for films like “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” “The Martian,” “The Meg,” and “Mulan,” to name a few. I like to say that I “grew up” at Harry’s. I was so green when he hired me and he took me under his wing, quite immediately filling that role of the trusted mentor. I learned so many of the skills and tools I possess today from my time with him. He ignited my drive and pushed me beyond the mental boundaries I had set for myself. I think it’s so essential for anyone working in an artistic field to have that kind of guided mentorship.

How did you get involved with the Netflix adaptation of Jupiters Legacy?

I was called in for a meeting by one of the executive producers on the show, Hameed Shaukat. He had heard my music and thought my musical sensibilities might be a good fit for the narrative. They sent over a couple of scripts and a rough cut of the first episode, and after our meeting, I went home and wrote a demo suite inspired by some of the ideas we had discussed. As these things so often go, I was in that “sit and wait” period for a few months while they wrapped up filming, but I was thrilled to have gotten the call that they were ready for music and they wanted to work with me!

Were you familiar at all with the Jupiters Legacy and Jupiters Circle comics before working on this series? If not, did you check them out before working on the score?

I actually wasn’t familiar with the comics prior to starting and I didn’t check them out until the tail end of scoring the season. There was a rather big musical moment in episode seven, where I chose to compose a chorale using the main theme of the show. In an effort to make the moment feel purposeful, I dove into Mark Millar’s original comic series. After locating the scenes in the comics that matched up to the on-screen moment, I took his text as source material, translated it into Latin, and those words became the choir lyrics. It felt like a special way to have the show adaptation and the original comic series come full circle for an impactful musical moment.

How much collaboration was there with the showrunners/directors/producers of Jupiters Legacy when it came to putting the score together?

A ton! I had a somewhat rare experience on this show because by the time they brought me on board, they had really solid cuts of all eight episodes, so we were able to sit down and spot all of them before I even wrote a note of music. This ended up being a critical part of the process because it was important to our showrunner, Sang Kyu Kim, that the whole season feel less episodic and more like a long, feature film. Knowing the pace of the story and understanding the character arcs for the whole season really informed the trajectory and shape of the score. I was able to plan conceptually for certain musical moments later in the season and plant seeds along the way to prepare for those moments. For example, the idea for the choir piece in episode seven was something I had decided on creatively during the spotting session and the producers were really excited by it. Because I knew that’s where I was headed musically, I made vocals part of the tapestry of the score by recording fragments of experimental vocals with the very talented singer, Ari Mason. The vocals range stylistically from Latin chanting, to throat singing, to microtonal patterns, to interlocking rhythmic grunts. They appear rather subtly at first as we watch Sheldon (played by Josh Duhamel) experience increasingly bizarre visions and they grow more prevalent as the season unfolds. I felt by teasing these vocal fragments, it prepared the audience (however subliminally) for the moment we hear the chorale in episode seven. All along the way, the producers (Hameed Shaukat and James Middleton) and showrunner (Sang Kyu Kim) were really involved in the evolution score. They had a lot of trust in my vision for the season and even challenged me to explore the strange and unexpected. It’s incredibly rewarding to have collaborators who instill a sense of confidence in your ideas and respect your creative contribution. I feel incredibly lucky to have had that experience on this show.

Were you inspired by any other superhero film scores (DC or Marvel) when putting the music for Jupiter’s Legacy together?

Admittedly, I kind of wrote the music for “Jupiter’s Legacy” in a vacuum. I intentionally didn’t watch any superhero films/shows or listen to any superhero scores while working on this season. I solely wanted to be inspired by “Jupiter’s Legacy” and the stories its characters were telling. I strongly feel that this show puts a unique spin on the superhero narrative. At its core, it’s a family drama which explores the complexities of our relationships with our parents, children, siblings, and those closest to us. They just happen to also have superpowers! 

While I didn’t attempt to get into a “superhero” mindset per se, I did intentionally lean into the “superhero film music” trope when I sat down to write a theme for Sheldon/The Utopian (which also became the overarching show theme). I wanted his theme to be rather wide in scope, so you’ll often hear The Utopian’s theme on a solo french horn or a big brass section or a full symphonic orchestra. I deliberately crafted his theme this way because I feel that is what we typically associate with the characteristic “superhero sound.” I thought if I painted The Utopian in this stereotypical, mythic superhero light, it would help subvert expectations. While he obstinately tries to uphold the morals of the Union’s Code and maintain a commanding heroic facade, in reality, we most often see The Utopian as a broken down, shell of his former self. He struggles to keep healthy relationships with his children, his wife, his brother, and is rapidly falling out of favor with the public, whom he has fought to protect for nearly 100 years. By leaning into what the audience perceives as a cliched “superhero theme” for his heroic moments, I was able to destabilize that image in his more intimate, fragile moments by exploring that theme on synths, vocals, acoustic guitar, and piano. Being able to write a theme that could expand and contract with his story arc felt like a really important way to shape his character.

Did you create specific themes for each of the heroes?

There are so many compelling characters in this series, so it was essential for me to try and develop themes for many of them. I previously discussed Sheldon/The Utopian’s theme but many others also have musical signatures: for example, Walter has a cello theme, Fitz a clarinet theme, George a plucked dulcimer theme, and Hutch a distorted bass growl sting. Two of my very favorite characters in the series are Chloe and Raikou. They’re both outliers and rebels and I felt their themes demanded a different musical profile. Chloe has an awesome action sequence in episode three and I was really inspired by the sheer magnitude of her powers and Elena Kampouris’ portrayal of her character. I didn’t have a specific idea for what her sound world would be, but when I sat down to write the cue, this industrial rock piece came out, with blaring guitars, synthesizers, and heavy distorted percussion. It just felt like it fit her sensibilities as a rugged, and somewhat lawless character. Chloe, much like her father Sheldon, also has many moments of solitude and darkness, so that same theme heard on guitars and synths is re-interpreted on electric keys and bass to reflect the intimacy of her personal struggles. For Raikou, I was struck with a similar feeling of wanting her sound to stand apart. I called up a trumpet-player friend of mine, Jake Baldwin, and asked “Could you take the mouthpiece off of your trumpet and record some stuttered, bendy motifs?” He met that request with a resounding, “Hell yes!” and came up with some really unique signatures. I took those, heavily effected them, and that’s what became part of Raikou’s sound. 

Additionally, I wanted to compose a leitmotif that could be used cyclically as a thematic microcosm (which I dubbed “the quest germ”), to excite the audience as the pace of our adventure picked up. This motivic cell, often appearing in a five or four-note repeating sequence, becomes a ubiquitous musical signature throughout the score. While we witness firsthand the unfolding of our characters’ epic voyage in the 1930s, their journey continues to evolve in the present day, and thus our “quest germ” becomes an essential part of the DNA of the story.

One of the most unusual motifs that I wrote for the series was the sound for “The Island,” which our characters discover and explore in episodes six and seven. I wanted to give a musical profile to the Island itself to highlight its strange and otherworldly nature. The eerie, bendy signature was created using a shepherd’s horn, rather bizarre vocals (or what I like to call “mouth sounds”), and a trumpet with several of the slides removed (again, Jake Baldwin at his best)! This was often accompanied by high, fast, tapping percussion which was meant to exemplify the supernatural force of the Island mentally invading our characters and pitting them against one another.

What were your instruments of choice when scoring Jupiter’s Legacy? I read that you used a number of regional instruments? Could you tell me more about that?

Yes, there were some really fun sound worlds I was able to explore. In episode six, our characters travel to Morocco, so I utilized some regional instruments like oud, bendir, darbuka, hand cymbals, ney, zurna, fipple flute, saz, and duduk (though that’s actually Turkish/Armenian)! Even though we’re in this new physical space, our main theme is still heard on these lead instruments, so there is a sense of musical cohesion. Apart from the Moroccan instruments, the overall score is a hybrid balance of orchestral instruments and synths. There were some incredible soloists who are featured throughout the score: Ari Mason (vocals), Jon Monroe (guitar), Jake Baldwin (trumpet and brass), Ro Rowan (cello), Bryan Winslow (varied plucked instruments). There’s also some violin and viola which I recorded and of course the fantastic vocalists who made up the choir. I think the score lives in an in-between space where the electronic and acoustic elements coexist rather seamlessly, or at least that’s always the hope! 

How much time did you have to score the series? Did the pandemic affect this at all?

I had about seven months to score the whole season, which is certainly a lot more time than most composers get for a season of TV! I think having those few months to focus on thematic development and hone in on a sound palette was really critical for me. Because of the pandemic, scoring sessions were rather touch-and-go for a while, so I ended up being able to work with all of the soloists through remote recording. Some of them were here in LA and others, like the trumpet player Jake Baldwin, were in Minneapolis, so it was really wonderful to have this roster of artists who were so eager to jump in and breathe life into the music from their home studios. 

The biggest challenge that I faced was when it came time to record the choir. As you can imagine, it was quite stressful realizing I had sold the producers on the idea of the chorale way back in the spotting session (before I had started writing), and then come August/September of 2020, there were no choirs being recorded in person because it was far too risky. In a bit of a panicked stupor, I reached out to choir contractor Jasper Randall, who assured me he would secure nine vocalists each with excellent recording skills. All of the singers multi-tracked their individual parts six times, with a slightly different interpretation and timbre for each take, all from their separate home recording spaces. Once I got their materials back, I shot them over to my mixer, Scott Smith, and a half hour later, he sent me back the most lush, majestic, powerful sounding choir track. I was completely floored by what these brilliant singers were able to accomplish in remote recording sessions. As with any ensemble, being in the same space as your fellow performers is so critical for matching phrasing, dynamics, and just overall emotional interpretation. And these singers were also faced with the challenge of singing in Latin! I was totally blown away by their musicality and the focused effort that they put into this performance. If anything positive came out of last year’s quarantine, it was realizing that, however isolated we came to feel in our separate physical spaces, we were still able to make music and create something special while being apart.

Without spoiling anything (if possible), do you have a favorite musical moment in this series?

Apart from the chorale piece in the final scene of episode seven, I was faced with a really unique creative challenge earlier in that episode. Most of episode seven focuses on the origin story of our original six characters, as we follow them at the peak of their journey in the 1930s to a remote island off the coast of Morocco. It becomes abundantly clear as they traverse through many obstacles on the Island that they are intentionally being challenged and pitted against one another. There’s a strange force that is preventing them from following the clues and getting to the crux of what this Island represents. 

Along the way, they find themselves suddenly trapped in a rock wall formation and it seems as though there’s no escape. As each of the characters place their hands on the wall, a colored light travels up the rock formation and they realize they must all get their lights to turn on in order to break out. The producers wanted there to be a distinctive sound associated with each character’s light and they wanted it to be a musical tone, not something left to sound design. By this point in the season, almost all of our characters had themes I was establishing, so I had the idea to use a small, fragmented motif of each of their individual themes to create their unique wall tone. For example, when Sheldon touches the wall, the first two notes of his theme on french horn are heard, and then a bell-like, synthetic tone evolves out of that motif. When Grace touches the wall, we hear her violin harmonic motif, and her unique tone comes out of that. For George, we hear his plucked dulcimer sound and his tone emerges out of that. The pitch of each tone was carefully chosen so that none of them quite work together harmoniously until the final light from Walter goes on and it completes the harmony to form a fully voiced major chord. Once all of the lights go on, the wall finally opens and they’re able to pass through. I should also mention that, while there were these tonal elements happening diegetically, there was also underscore happening concurrently, so I had to ensure that all of these sonic puzzle pieces were fitting together and creating a convincing landscape for the scene to exist within. Once the walls open up, I didn’t just want these tones to fall by the wayside and disappear, so I took each individual bell-tone and created a randomized arpeggiated sequence that grows as part of the score cue. It was a really fun challenge to design the on-screen sounds and then have it cross the boundary and become part of the fabric of the score, blurring the lines of what we perceive to be sound and music.

In general, is there any musical detail you hope viewers notice when the show premieres next month?

See the previous question!

Thank you again to Stephanie Economou for taking the time to speak with me about her work on Jupiter’s Legacy!

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Composer Interviews

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Soundtrack News: Varèse Sarabande Records to Release ‘The Empire Strikes Back Symphonic Suite’ on LP on 7/23

In Celebration of Star Wars Day 2021, Varèse Sarabande Records is re-issuing the long out-of-print LP The Empire Strikes Back – Symphonic Suite from the Original Motion Picture Score by Academy Award®-winning composer John Williams. Out of print since 1980, the record is pressed on 180-gram black vinyl and housed in a gatefold jacket featuring the original Star Wars paintings and notes.

Available now for pre-order along with two limited exclusive versions: “Ice Planet Hoth Blue” (Vinyl Me Please) and “Imperial Grey Marble” (Newbury Comics). A Canadian exclusive on “Cloud City Orange” will be available only at Sunrise retail shops as of July 23rd.

Originally released to supplement and not compete with the 2-LP Motion Picture Soundtrack, this 1-LP release skillfully combines a “Symphonic Suite” that John Williams created for concert performance with new arrangements of other cues from the film score. The Empire Strikes Back has become not only one of Williams’ most iconic scores, but one of the most iconic film scores of all time. The LP comes in a gatefold jacket with the original iconic Star Wars paintings by William Stout, images of John Williams, and notes from author Ray Bradbury, composer and critic Christopher Palmer, and from the maestro himself.

TRACK LISTING

Side A

  1. 20th Century-Fox Fanfare (0:21)
  2. Main Title/The Imperial Probe (5:25)
  3. Luke’s First Crash (2:29)
  4. Han Solo And The Princess (4:26)
  5. The Asteroid Field (4:12)
  6. The Training Of A Jedi Knight and “May The Force Be With You” (1:56)
  7. The Battle In The Snow (3:06)

Side B

  1. The Imperial March (3:21)
  2. The Magic Tree (3:38)
  3. Yoda’s Theme (3:34)
  4. The Rebels Escape Again (3:01)
  5. Lando’s Palace, The Duel (Through The Window) (5:01)
  6. Finale (4:39)

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Soundtrack News: Music From Netflix Original Series ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ Available 5/7

Milan Records announced today that the soundtrack album for the upcoming Netflix Original Series Jupiter’s Legacy will be released on May 7, 2021. The music for this series was composed by Stephanie Economou, who is a composer and violinist based in Los Angeles, CA. She has written the music for the Lionsgate/Starz series Step Up: High Water, as well as the second season of Manhunt: Deadly Games. Stephanie is a long-time collaborator of Golden Globe-nominated composer, Harry Gregson- Williams, composing additional music on scores such as Disney’s live-action re-make Mulan, directed by Niki Caro, Jon Turtletaub’s The Meg, Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer 2, Disneynature’s Penguins, and Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning film The Martian

After nearly a century of keeping mankind safe, the world’s first generation of superheroes must look to their children to continue the legacy. But tensions rise as the young superheroes, hungry to prove their worth, struggle to live up to their parents’ legendary public reputations— and exacting personal standards. Based on the graphic novels by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, Jupiter’s Legacy is an epic superhero drama that spans decades and navigates the complex dynamics of family, power, and loyalty.

Of the soundtrack for Jupiter’s Legacy, composer Stephanie Economou had the following to say:

“This first season of Jupiter’s Legacy offers staggering diversity in style, scale, emotion and time period, so I set out to create a musical landscape through which the score could expand and contract; kind of like a kaleidoscope. This afforded me the opportunity to explore varied stylistic sound worlds, from hybrid orchestral to industrial rock to contemporary electronic. At a critical moment in the season, I composed a large-scale choral piece using two of the main musical themes: the heroic ‘Union’ theme and what I call the ‘quest germ,’ which is a cyclical sequence of notes that emerges as our adventure unfolds (Track 28: Jupiter’s Legacy). For the chorale, I decided to source the lyrics from the original comic series by Mark Millar and translated the text into Latin. In order to make this pinnacle moment feel purposeful and impactful, I chose to unwind the choral idea by recording small modules of detuned, experimental vocals with the masterfully innovative singer, Ari Mason. My objective was to have these fragmented vocal elements serve as a kind of musical breadcrumb trail, slowly and abstractly weaving itself into the fibers of the score, culminating in a grand declaration of our main Union theme with full choir at the climax.”

JUPITER’S LEGACY (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. Union of Justice
  2. The Utopian
  3. Chloe
  4. The Patterns
  5. Disembarking
  6. Traversing the Crevasse
  7. “Where to, Ulysses?”
  8. The Island
  9. Raikou
  10. The Overdose
  11. Grace Finds the Sketches
  12. Paragon and Iron Orchid
  13. Service, Compassion, Mercy
  14. Tree Symbols
  15. Through the Storm
  16. Morocco
  17. George’s Isolation
  18. The Hilltop Battle
  19. Everything Ends Up in a Box
  20. Miller’s Farm
  21. Crossing the Desert
  22. Being a Sampson
  23. Hutch
  24. Van Chase
  25. A New Leader
  26. Skyfox and Blackstar
  27. Illumination
  28. Jupiter’s Legacy

The album for Jupiter’s Legacy is available for preorder now, and will be available on May 7, 2021.

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Soundtrack Review: Stowaway (2021)

With Netflix recently releasing the soundtrack for their new film Stowaway, I had the opportunity to sit down and listen to the film’s official soundtrack. The music was composed by Volker Bertelmann (The Old Guard, Lion) and recently made available digitally.

The film’s synopsis is as follows:

In Stowaway, on a mission headed to Mars, an unintended stowaway accidentally causes severe damage to the spaceship’s life support systems. Facing dwindling resources and a potentially fatal outcome, the crew is forced to make an impossible decision.

Says Bertelmann of the Stowaway soundtrack:

“Working on Stowaway and collaborating with director Joe Penna was a special experience in many respects: Joe, who is a musician himself, gave me a lot of freedom to explore different sounds and we had a joint understanding of the purposes the music should serve. This facilitated the compositional process, which was extremely helpful given the considerable amount of music the film needed. The music for Stowaway is one of my favorite scores so far.”

Given what’s at stake in Stowaway, I was surprised at how low-key and passive a lot of the music is. There’s an underlying sense of tension of course, most notably in ‘How Much Oxygen’ but for the most part Bertelmann’s soundtrack is almost perfectly serene. The biggest exception to this comes in ‘Solar Flare’ which covers what is undoubtedly one of the climax points of the film. But even then, there’s still a polished smoothness lingering in the music that takes some of the edge off what might otherwise be a raw piece of action music.

All of this smoothness and serenity in the music confused me until I considered where the film is set. Stowaway is set entirely in space, aboard a ship bound for Mars, and it could be that Bertelmann had it in his mind to back up the interstellar background of the film with music that fit the location. After all, there’s something about space that can generate a lot of musical grace and beauty, and this film is surely no exception. It could also be that the composer wanted to remind viewers that in the grand scheme of things this conflict is barely a blip in the cosmos (or I could be overthinking it entirely). Most likely of all the options is the possibility that Bertelmann wanted the score to backup the story, but not overwhelm it with sheer depth of volume, as some film scores have been known to do.

I really enjoyed listening to the soundtrack for Stowaway. It really subverted my expectations for what I thought this movie would sound like but in the end it was really enjoyable. In some places it actually reminded me a little bit of 2001: A Space Odyssey with some of the more quiet tracks. If you get the chance to listen to the Stowaway soundtrack separate from the movie, I highly recommend doing so.

Track List

  1. Earth Rise
  2. Regaining Consciousness
  3. Favorite Spot on the Ship
  4. How Much Oxygen
  5. Setting Up the Algae
  6. It’s Literally My Job
  7. Can I Take His Place?
  8. I Was in the Fire
  9. Can You Talk?
  10. What Did You Do?
  11. The Algae Are Dead
  12. Climbing the Tethers
  13. On the Kingfisher
  14. More Than Enough Oxygen
  15. Solar Flare
  16. I Will Go
  17. Climbing the Tethers Alone
  18. Into the Solar Storm

Let me know what you think of Stowaway’s soundtrack (and the film) in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack News: ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’ Soundtrack Albums Available Now

Milan Records celebrates the tenth anniversary of the critically-acclaimed anime franchise Puella Magi Madoka Magica with the first-ever digital release of music featured in the series, movie and the mobile game “Magia Record.” Included within the release are three albums of music from the Aniplex title, including two albums featuring music from the series and movie as well as one album from Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story, a mobile game based on the anime with its own original storyline. The release arrives as part of title’s 10th anniversary project, celebrating the original 2011 airdate of the fan-favorite show.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Ultimate Best and Puella Magi Madoka Magica Music Collection include a mix of score music composed by Yuki Kajiura, original vocal tracks sung by the series cast as well as additional tracks by J-pop artists ClariS and Kalafina. Meanwhile the Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story Music Collection includes score music written for the mobile game side story by various artists as well as a vocal track by J-pop artist TrySail.

ABOUT PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA

She has a loving family and best friends, laughs and cries from time to time… Madoka Kaname, an eighth grader of Mitakihara Middle School, is one of those living such a life. One day, she had a very magical encounter. She doesn’t know if it happened by chance or by fate yet. This is a fateful encounter that can change her destiny – this is a beginning of the new story of the magical witch girls.

PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA ULTIMATE BEST TRACKLISTING –

1.Connect –ClariS

2.Mata Ashita –Madoka Kaname*

3.Credens Justitiam –Yuki Kajiura

4.Sis Puella Magica! –Yuki Kajiura

5.And I’m Home (Original Master Version) –Sayaka Miki** & Kyoko Sakura***

6.Magia –Kalafina

7.Luminous–ClariS

8.She is a Witch–Yuki Kajiura

9.Hikarifuru–Kalafina

10.Naturally–Madoka Kaname* & Sayaka Miki**

11.Akogaresaita–Madoka Kaname*

12.Mebius Ash–Homura Akemi****

13.Yumeoto –Madoka Kaname* & Homura Akemi****

14.Stairs–Mami Tomoe***** &Kyoko Sakura***

15.mada dameyo–Yuki Kajiura

16.Noi!–Yuki Kajiura

17.Colorful–ClariS

18.Kimino Ginno Niwa–Kalafina

PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA MUSIC COLLECTION TRACKLISTING –

1.Prelude to Act 1–Yuki Kajiura

2.Scaena Felix–Yuki Kajiura

3.Postmeridie–Yuki Kajiura

4.Conturbatio–Yuki Kajiura

5.Puella In Somnio–Yuki Kajiura

6.Salve, Terrae Magicae–Yuki Kajiura

7.Desiderium–Yuki Kajiura

8.Gradus Prohibitus–Yuki Kajiura

9.Credens Justitiam–Yuki Kajiura

10.Sis Puella Magica!–Yuki Kajiura

11.Inevitabilis–Yuki Kajiura

12.Pugna Cum Maga–Yuki Kajiura

13.Vocalise Op. 34 No. 14–Yuki Kajiura

14.Umbra Nigra–Yuki Kajiura

15.Venari Strigas–Yuki Kajiura

16.Agmen Clientum–Yuki Kajiura

17.Signum Malum–Yuki Kajiura

18.Serena Ira–Yuki Kajiura

19.Incertus–Yuki Kajiura

20.Ave Maria–Yuki Kajiura

21.Decretum–Yuki Kajiura

22.Anima Mala–Yuki Kajiura

23.Mata Ashita–Madoka Kaname*

24.And I’m Home (Original Master Version)–Sayaka Miki** & Kyoko Sakura***

25.Connect (Game Instrumental Version)–ClariS

26.Prelude to Act 2–Yuki Kajiura

27.Amicae Carae Meae–Yuki Kajiura

28.Clementia–Yuki Kajiura

29.La Fille Aux Cheveux De Lin–Yuki Kajiura

30.Pugna Infinita–Yuki Kajiura

31.Confessio–Yuki Kajiura

32.Cor Destructum–Yuki Kajiura

33.Terror Adhaerens–Yuki Kajiura

34.Symposium Magarum–Yuki Kajiura

35.Numquam Vincar–Yuki Kajiura

36.Quamobrem?–Yuki Kajiura

37.Surgam Identidem–Yuki Kajiura

38.Nux Walpurgis–Yuki Kajiura

39.Sagitta Luminis–Yuki Kajiura

40.Cubilulum Album–Yuki Kajiura

41.Taenia Memoriae–Yuki Kajiura

42.Pergo Pugnare–Yuki Kajiura

43.Connect–ClariS

44.Magia–Kalafina

45.Numquam Vincar (Live Version)–Yuki Kajiura

MAGIA RECORD: PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA SIDE STORY MUSIC COLLECTION TRACKLISTING –

1.Inception –Ryo Furukawa

2.Infinite Battle –Ryo Furukawa

3.First Contact –Yasuhisa Inoue

4.Awaken –Kyohei Ozawa

5.Place to Hunt –Yasuhisa Inoue

6.Intermediate–Naoki “naotyu-” Chiba

7.Welcome to Mirrors–Naoki “naotyu-” Chiba

8.Repeat Days –Yasuhisa Inoue

9.Memories –Yasuhisa Inoue

10.Twilight –Yasuhisa Inoue

11.To Remember –Kyohei Ozawa

12.Remain –Kyohei Ozawa

13.Coordinator –Yasuhisa Inoue

14.Lost Tension –Kyohei Ozawa

15.Anxiety –Yasuhisa Inoue

16.Touch One’s Heart –Kyohei Ozawa

17.Be Terrified –Ryo Furukawa

18.Creation –Yasuhisa Inoue

19.Wings of Magius –Yasuhisa Inoue

20.Full Moon –Yasuhisa Inoue

21.The Imaginator –Yasuhisa Inoue

22.Uwasa-san –Yasuhisa Inoue

23.The Lecture –Yasuhisa Inoue

24.Into the Territory –Kyohei Ozawa

25.Hotel Fenthope –Kyohei Ozawa

26.Thought of You –Kyohei Ozawa

27.Battle Fields –Ryo Furukawa

28.Initiation Battle –Yasuhisa Inoue

29.The Crow –Tatsuhiko Saiki

30.Magical Artist –Kyohei Ozawa

31.Calculated Future –Yasuhisa Inoue

32.Last Dungeon –Ryo Furukawa

33.Reunion –Ryo Furukawa

34.The Other Side –Yasuhisa Inoue

35.Battle Bell–Naoki “naotyu-” Chiba

36.Depth in the Mirror–Naoki “naotyu-” Chiba

37.One Day She Meets–Naoki “naotyu-” Chiba

38.Sunshine of the Mind –Kyohei Ozawa

39.Day of Rest –Yasuhisa Inoue

40.Plot –Ryo Furukawa

41.Farewell –Tatsuhiko Saiki

42.Complex Home –Kyohei Ozawa

43.Painful Memories–Naoki “naotyu-” Chiba

44.Inerasable –Kyohei Ozawa

45.This Morning –Tatsuhiko Saiki

46.There is –Kyohei Ozawa

47.Little Trick –Kyohei Ozawa

48.Hot Summer Day –Kyohei Ozawa

49.Kakawari –TrySail

See also:

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Soundtrack News: Netflix’s ‘Stowaway’ OST Available Now!

On April 23, Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack for Netflix’s sci-fi thriller Stowaway by Academy Award-nominated composer Volker Bertelmann (The Old Guard, Lion, Your Honor). The acclaimed pianist, composer, and experimental musician utilizes piano, strings and orchestra to explore a wide range of sounds that provide a rich backdrop to the mission to Mars thriller. Volker Bertelmann is an internationally acclaimed pianist, composer and experimental musician. His score for Garth Davis’s Oscar-nominated film Lion, composed in collaboration with Dustin O’Halloran, was awarded an Australian AACTA Award and received nominations for multiple awards, among others for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice Award.

The music of Stowaway has a lot of gravity, dark tension, and elevating moments, which Bertlemann created by utlizing earthy synthesizers, a prepared Steinway piano (with only one string tuned), and elements of sound design.

Says Bertelmann of the Stowaway soundtrack:

“Working on Stowaway and collaborating with director Joe Penna was a special experience in many respects: Joe, who is a musician himself, gave me a lot of freedom to explore different sounds and we had a joint understanding of the purposes the music should serve. This facilitated the compositional process, which was extremely helpful given the considerable amount of music the film needed. The music for Stowaway is one of my favorite scores so far.”

Track List

  1. Earth Rise
  2. Regaining Consciousness
  3. Favorite Spot on the Ship
  4. How Much Oxygen
  5. Setting Up the Algae
  6. It’s Literally My Job
  7. Can I Take His Place?
  8. I Was in the Fire
  9. Can You Talk?
  10. What Did You Do?
  11. The Algae Are Dead
  12. Climbing the Tethers
  13. On the Kingfisher
  14. More Than Enough Oxygen
  15. Solar Flare
  16. I Will Go
  17. Climbing the Tethers Alone
  18. Into the Solar Storm

You can purchase the Stowaway soundtrack here and it is available now!

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Soundtrack News: ‘Shadow and Bone’ Netflix Original Series Soundtrack Available Now

Netflix has released the Original Series Soundtrack for Shadow and Bone—based on Leigh Bardugo’s worldwide bestselling Grishaverse novels. The mystical and epic original score comes from composer Joseph Trapanese (Tron: LegacyThe Greatest Showman), who took great influence from fairytales, Russian stories, magic, and fantasy. The soundtrack is available digitally todayApril 23, alongside the highly anticipated series launch on Netflix. Joseph Trapanese is best known for his sleek score work for blockbuster films like Tron: Legacy, Straight Outta Compton, The Greatest Showman, Oblivion and the Raid series. As a composer, arranger, and producer for movie, television, theater, and video game music, he has collaborated with a number of mainstream musical acts. His first major break came in 2010 when he worked with Daft Punk on the sweeping digital soundtrack to Disney’s Tron reboot/sequel.

Based on Leigh Bardugo’s worldwide bestselling Grishaverse novels, Shadow and Bone finds us in a war-torn world where lowly soldier and orphan Alina Starkov has just unleashed an extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her country free. With the monstrous threat of the Shadow Fold looming, Alina is torn from everything she knows to train as part of an elite army of magical soldiers known as Grisha. But as she struggles to hone her power, she finds that allies and enemies can be one and the same and that nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. There are dangerous forces at play, including a crew of charismatic criminals, and it will take more than magic to survive.

Joseph was brought onto the project early on by Eric Heisserer (Showrunner, Executive Producer, Writer), Shawn Levy (Executive Producer), and Leigh Bardugo (Author, Executive Producer). He read the novels and scripts for inspiration and by the time the series entered post-production, he had written 40-50 minutes of music to contribute to the score. Joseph developed distinct themes for each character, giving each one their own sonic world in the valiant mystery tale of Shadow and Bone

“Joseph had a monumental challenge ahead of him when he joined the team,” says Eric Heisserer. “Not only did he need to create a thematic space for each of our six lead characters in this debut season, but he also had to build a different musical language for the major regions of this invented world, most notably the kingdom of Ravka, loosely drawn from 1800s Czarist Russia. And what the rest of us soon learned was: Joseph could build all of that and more. The flourishes and flavors he gave to each piece linger with you long after the episode leaves the screen, and while he’s embraced all that inspired the settings of the show, everything feels bespoke. I cannot separate the show from his score, and I’m in awe of him for it,” concludes Heisser.

Leigh Bardugo adds, “Joseph and I met up for coffee early on, and I knew pretty quickly that we were on the same page. We played Prokofiev favorites for each other and I inflicted some very pitchy renditions of old folk songs on him. I knew his work and how deftly he could transport a listener to a new world, but I had no idea what it would be like to hear him work his magic on Ravka and the Grishaverse. There’s certain music that sparks imagination. Joseph’s extraordinary work on Shadow and Bone not only helped to bring this world fully alive, but also changed the way I experience my characters’ stories. I can’t wait for audiences to share in that experience.”

Regarding the soundtrack for Shadow and Bone, Joseph Trapanese had the following to say:

 “Nothing is more thrilling as a composer than to build a musical world to compliment an extraordinary and grand adventure like Shadow and Bone. Eric Heisserer, Shawn Levy, and Leigh Bardugo were incredibly generous with their time and guidance, inviting me to be a part of the series as soon as possible, so I could really get to know these characters and their stories as I wrote their themes. As the team was finishing on set, I was putting the final touches on extended suites and ideas for each character. It was incredibly rewarding to explore and expand these themes throughout the season, and I hope we get to continue exploring each corner of this world for many more episodes. I couldn’t be more excited or proud to share this score with you, and I’m grateful to the entire team at 21 Laps and Netflix for supporting our work through all the challenges of this past year.”

TRACK LIST

  1. Ravka
  2. Ask the Saints
  3. Court Demonstration
  4. True North
  5. Royal Archives Heist
  6. Face the Truth
  7. Erase the Past
  8. Memories
  9. Hope for the Future
  10. Her Name is Alina Starkov
  11. Heretic
  12. Just Ask
  13. Shipwrecked
  14. A Message
  15. Helpful Goat
  16. Fight for the Light
  17. Five Markers
  18. Strike Now
  19. Follow

You can purchase the soundtrack to Shadow and Bone digitally now and also check out the series on Netflix!

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Soundtrack Review: The Vigil (2021)

Back in February of 2021, Lakeshore Records digitally released The Vigil Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – with music by Michael Yezerski (The Tax Collector, Blindspotting). Earlier career highlights for Michael Yezerski include HBO’s Only the Dead See the End of War, his first feature film The Black Balloon (winner of 8 AFI/AACTA Awards including Best Picture), PJ Hogan’s Mental, Wolf Creek Series 2, Catching Milat, Peter Allen, the Academy Award winning animated short, The Lost Thing and his collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, The Red Tree.

Steeped in ancient Jewish lore and demonology, The Vigil is a supernatural horror film set over the course of a single evening in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood. Low on funds and having recently left his insular religious community, Yakov reluctantly accepts an offer from his former rabbi and confidante to take on the responsibility of an overnight “shomer,” fulfilling the Jewish practice of watching over the body of a deceased community member. Shortly after arriving at the recently departed’s dilapidated house to sit the vigil, Yakov begins to realize that something is very, very wrong.

Speaking about the philosophy behind the score, Yezerski said:

“As [director] Keith Thomas and I discussed, music is memory. We associate music with the best and the worst times in our lives. For The Vigil we needed to create a score that explored the malevolence of memory (both personal and cultural).” Yezerski went on further to note, “We needed massive textures that could read as both beautiful and brutal. The music attacks but also meditates on long and difficult lives. After all, what is the greater horror at play here – the supernatural or our lived reality?”

Going in, I thought I knew how The Vigil would sound, but to my surprise I was quite wrong. It’s true that like many horror film scores I’ve listened to in recent years, there’s an ongoing feeling of malevolence that pervades the entire score. But it’s how this feeling is delivered that sets The Vigil apart in my mind from recent scores in similar genres.

For example, the score’s use of the human voice (especially chanting) really emphasizes to me the story’s religious background (as it is based in Jewish folklore). That’s not something you hear in a lot of horror film scores so already the story is set apart in my mind. I also really like it because it evokes the feeling that you are around something ancient, as chanting is one of the earliest song forms in existence.

I also really like how the composer creates aural “textures” that literally make your skin crawl when you listen to them. “Lair” is an excellent example of that technique, but it really pervades most of the score if I’m honest. This is fitting as horror films, to the best of my understanding, are designed to make the viewer uncomfortable. It’s only natural that this should extend to the film’s score as well.

One final note, I also like how the music for The Vigil is full of various creaks and groans created by the instruments. It creates a similar sense of age that the chanting does, but it also gives you a sense that you’re in a space that is falling apart or in disrepair (as I understand it the film is set in a dilapidated house). This is most definitely a unique score, one that’s small but contains some powerful musical thoughts. This is yet another example of why you should never dismiss a soundtrack out of hand because it belongs to a horror film.

The Vigil Soundtrack Track List

  1. Tefillin (4:23)
  2. The Ghost, Pt. 1 (1:58)
  3. The Ghost, Pt. 2 (2:52)
  4. Past (3:15)
  5. Lair (4:25)
  6. Broken by Memories (5:08)
  7. Video Games (4:12)
  8. Behind You (3:32)
  9. Face to Face (4:12)
  10. Begin the Vigil (3:31)
  11. Ner (3:41)
  12. Echo (4:26)
  13. Sunlight (2:24)

Let me know what you think of The Vigil and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: Mortal Kombat (2021)

WaterTower Music has released the soundtrack to New Line Cinema’s explosive new movie Mortal Kombat, which brings to life the intense action of the blockbuster video game franchise in all its brutal glory, pitting the all-time, fan-favorite champions against one another in the ultimate, no-holds-barred, gory battle that pushes them to their very limits. The Mortal Kombat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) contains all new score by Golden Globe-, Emmy-, and Grammy-nominated composer Benjamin Wallfisch (IT and IT Chapter 2, Shazam, Blade Runner: 2049 [w/ Hans Zimmer]). It features 24 tracks by Wallfisch, who interpreted the film’s themes and emphasized the story’s hard-driving, visceral action through his music.

Director Simon McQuoid discussed working with Wallfisch on the score:

“Ben and I both knew that we needed to use the classic Immortals track ‘Techno Syndrome’ as source material for the entire score of Mortal Kombat. But along with that we knew that an updated elevated version of the song also needed to be created. And Ben certainly delivered! I am so excited by this new 2021 version of the track, when I first heard it, it blew my mind. Actually, Ben kind of blew my mind on a daily basis through the making of this film, so we can all thank Benjamin Wallfisch for his genius and passion in creating ‘Techno Syndrome 2021’.

Wallfisch further elaborated:

“When I was invited to come on board ‘Mortal Kombat,’ I was very aware of the responsibility that comes with scoring a franchise so deeply embedded in pop culture and with such a passionate fanbase. My first question was what can we do with ‘Techno Syndrome,’ a piece of music so much part of the DNA of the game and the original movies? What motifs could be reinvented and blown up to a full-scale symphonic sound world in the score, and might there be room for a full reinvention of the whole song as an EDM single in 2021? A huge thank you to The Immortals for giving us their blessing to reimagine their classic track in this way, as a celebration of the world of Mortal Kombat and its fans, and of the uplifting power of Electronic Dance Music, which the original did so much to light the fuse of 30 years ago.”

I have rarely experienced such a turnaround as what I’ve felt regarding Mortal Kombat. Having minimal contact with the video game series (and the one time I made an effort to play not going particularly well), I was initially on the fence and unable to emotionally invest in the idea of the film at all. But then THAT trailer came out, and I was intrigued. Then came the chance to listen to the soundtrack ahead of its release on April 23…

And I think my brain exploded.

I may have the bad habit of using superlatives too often in my reviews, but please believe me when I say Benjamin Wallfisch’s score for Mortal Kombat is one of the best I’ve ever heard. This isn’t just a soundtrack for an action film, this is an entire world realized through sound and melody and I am here for every last minute of it. During the music for the fight scenes (it’s not hard to tell which ones those are) you can feel every punch and every attack with brutal clarity. For the music alone, I am now itching to see these fight scenes in their proper context, because I need to know how this music connects to the action. And it’s such beautiful music, it has what I like to call “height” which is to say it expands and creates the illusion of space as it goes along. You can literally hear the music grow and soar in certain places, which helps to create the idea of a world existing within the music.

However as I said there’s far more to this soundtrack then just action. Wallfisch also demonstrates a keen ability to take the music in the opposite direction, to slow it down and allow the audience to take a collective breath. That’s an important thing for any film: if the soundtrack is just GO GO GO constantly, it can eventually begin to grate on the ear and become quite tiresome. But the music for Mortal Kombat isn’t like that at all (much to my surprise). There’s plenty of action to go around, but also more than enough moments of calm and relative quiet, though it is more often than not the “calm before the storm” type of quiet. There’s an impressive amount of balancing going on between the two extremes of loud and quiet, and I love it all.

Another detail I like about this soundtrack? The track list doesn’t give too much away regarding plot details. In fact, if I’m reading the track list correctly, most of these tracks appear to be themes for specific characters, which is great because I love thematic-based soundtracks (when done properly). Even so, very little is given away in terms of plot, and that’s great. I’ve seen too many soundtracks where you can suss out the plot of a film from the track list names alone, but you can’t do that here.

I could go on and on about the music for Mortal Kombat, but I’ll wrap it up by saying that listening to this soundtrack has rocketed this film to the top of my must see list for 2021 (and six months ago I couldn’t imagine saying that). If you get the chance, you need to check out this soundtrack independently of the film itself, it is that good.

TRACK LIST

  1. Techno Syndrome 2021 (Mortal Kombat)
  2. Hanzo Hasashi
  3. Lord Raiden
  4. Bi-Han
  5. Shang Tsung
  6. Cole Young
  7. Birthmark
  8. Sonya Blade
  9. Kano v Reptile
  10. Liu Kang
  11. The Great Protector
  12. Sub-Zero
  13. Kung Lao
  14. Origins
  15. Kabal
  16. Goro
  17. Arcana
  18. Jax Briggs
  19. The Void
  20. The Tournament
  21. Sub-Zero v Cole Young
  22. I Am Scorpion
  23. We Fight as One
  24. Get Over Here

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

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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