Category Archives: Soundtracks

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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Soundtrack News: ‘Demon’s Souls’ Music from the Video Game Coming to Vinyl 6/18

Milan Records has announced the first-ever vinyl release of Demon’s Souls (Original Soundtrack), an album of music from the PlayStation®5 console remake of the classic game title, by composer Shunsuke Kida.

Available on CD now, Kida’s score delivers a bold and brilliant soundtrack befitting of the game’s lore.  Out Friday, June 18 and available for preorder now, the album’s vinyl edition arrives as a 2-LP deluxe gatefold set featuring artwork by renowned illustrator, designer and artist Ken Taylor – an inside look at the vinyl edition can be found here.  Demon’s Souls is currently available for the PlayStation®5 console from Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), PlayStation Studios, and Bluepoint Games. 

The vinyl will also be available in various vinyl color variants exclusive to Mondo, Light In The Attic Records, Newbury Comic, Channel 3 Records and Black Screen Records; detailed information surrounding each color variant can be found via individual retailers. 

In his quest for power, the 12th King of Boletaria, King Allant channeled the ancient Soul Arts, awakening a demon from the dawn of time itself, The Old One. With the summoning of The Old One, a colorless fog swept across the land, unleashing nightmarish creatures that hungered for human souls. Those whose souls were stripped from them, lost their minds – left only with the desire to attack the sane that remained. Now, Boletaria is cut off from the outside world, and the knights who dare penetrate the deep fog to free the land from its plight are never seen again. As a lone warrior who has braved the baneful fog, you must face the hardest of challenges to earn the title “Slayer of Demons” and send The Old One back to its slumber.

DEMON’S SOULS (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –

DISC 1 – SIDE A:

  1. Demon’s Souls
  2. The Beginning
  3. Maiden Astraea
  4. Storm King
  5. Flamelurker
  6. Tales of Old

DISC 1 – SIDE B:

  1. Penetrator
  2. Maneater
  3. Maiden in Black
  4. Fool’s Idol
  5. Leechmonger
  6. Tower Knight

DISC 2 – SIDE C:

  1. Old Monk
  2. Phalanx
  3. Armor Spider
  4. Dirty Colossus
  5. Dragon God
    DISC 2 – SIDE D:
  6. Old King Allant
  7. The Old One
  8. One Who Craves Souls
  9. Return to Slumber

DISC 2 – SIDE D:

  1. Old King Allant
  2. The Old One
  3. One Who Craves Souls
  4. Return to Slumber

The Demon’s Souls soundtrack will be available on vinyl starting June 18, 2021.

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Soundtrack News: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Soundtrack Vol. 1 Available Now!

On April 9th, Marvel Music/Hollywood Records released The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Volume 1 (Episodes 1-3) with music composed by Henry Jackman on digital. Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. The pair, who came together in the final moments of “Avengers: Endgame,” team up on a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience. Directed by Kari Skogland with Malcolm Spellman serving as head writer, the six-episode series also stars Daniel Brühl as Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker.

Though broken up into separate episodes, Jackman’s score for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is quintessential MCU film music (and I’ll call it that despite the streaming format). It has that perfect blend of suspense and action that I’ve come to love in these movies. This music, as with most scores in the MCU, is good at getting you to hold your breath and lean in to hold more, only to knock you back with a sudden burst of sound. The synthetic elements in the music are something of a surprise, but given that this series is set in (pretty much) the present day (time skip notwithstanding), it makes sense that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier would need as modern-sounding a soundtrack as possible. This show is meant to be something of a thriller after all, and the music definitely creates that idea.

If this is how good the music is for just the first three episodes, I can’t wait to hear Volume 2, which is due to be released on April 30th.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Volume 1 Track List

  1. Louisiana Hero (2:14)
  2. Tough Act to Follow (1:16)
  3. Airborne Operation (5:56)
  4. Smithsonian Tribute (0:53)
  5. Nightmares (1:22)
  6. What Do You Want? (1:22)
  7. Pluck Up the Nerve (1:53)
  8. New Agitators (1:13)
  9. The Wrong Guy (1:38)
  10. America’s Sweetheart (1:05)
  11. No Parachute (1:29)
  12. Stakeout (1:39)
  13. Outmatched (2:46)
  14. Safe House (2:41)
  15. Someone You Should Meet (1:09)
  16. Overlooked For Promotion (1:20)
  17. Warranted Attention (1:03)
  18. Fraying Edges (2:04)
  19. Take One For the Team (2:21)
  20. Unnecessary Use of Force (1:48)
  21. Prison Break (4:41)
  22. A Marriage of Convenience (0:32)
  23. A Pure Heart (1:48)
  24. Low Town (1:24)
  25. Attack, Soldier! (1:47)
  26. Breaking Character (2:29)
  27. Bad Science (3:30)
  28. Masked Man (1:20)
  29. Dissent and Disillusionment (1:08)
  30. Radicalized (1:19)
  31. Star Spangled Man – The Captain America Drum Corps (1:44)

Be sure to check out The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Volume 1 as soon as you can!

Have a great day!

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

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Soundtrack Review: Pacific Rim: The Black (2021)

On March 5, Milan Records and Sony Music Masterworks released Pacific Rim: The Black (Music from the Netflix Original Anime Series) by composer Brandon Campbell.  Available everywhere now, the album features score music written by Campbell for Netflix’s newest anime series from Legendary Television and based on Legendary and Guillermo del Toro’s blockbuster film franchise Pacific Rim.  Continuing the tale of epic battles between monsters and robots in an exciting new style, Pacific Rim: The Black made its global debut yesterday and is available now to watch exclusively on Netflix.   

Of the soundtrack, composer Brandon Campbell had the following to say:

“Our showrunner, Greg Johnson, wanted a score that encompassed bits of DNA from the original Pacific Rim film while still being unique enough to support the struggles and triumphs of Taylor and Hailey. We created a hybrid orchestral score with the heavy themes and melodic material that will hopefully resonate with Pacific Rim fans, while including more intimate and emotional musical moments that accompany our characters as they make their way across The Black. I hope my music brings you back into the world of the awesome power of the Kaiju and Jaeger, but also into the hearts of Taylor and Hailey.”

I meant to check out this soundtrack a solid month ago and I regret that life got in the way to delay me because the music for Pacific Rim: The Black is good, really good. While I haven’t heard the soundtracks for either Pacific Rim movie (a terrible shortcoming I know), there are moments sprinkled throughout this soundtrack that sound so “big” they can only come from and/or be inspired by the original movie soundtracks. This is great, as thematic continuity between films and a television series is a proven way to help audiences get invested in the new story. Put it like this: if the story sounds like it comes from the same universe, then it becomes easier to accept the story as belonging to that universe, even if none of the regular movie characters show up.

What’s really interesting to me aside from that is the musical connection to other kaiju movies that I swear I can hear. For example, in ‘Kaiju Messiah’, there’s a musical sequence that sounds eerily similar to music I’ve heard in Godzilla (2014), Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Godzilla vs Kong (2021) whenever Godzilla is in action. I don’t know if this is deliberate or not, but it would make sense since the story of Pacific Rim is about fighting kaiju (which is what Godzilla is, albeit in a different story).

Another thing I really like about the music for Pacific Rim: The Black is how descriptive it is. Which is to say it paints an evocative picture of how desolate this setting is, and how dangerous. There’s nothing generic about this music, you know that it belongs to science-fiction just by listening to it. It would’ve been so easy for Netflix to commission music that was bare-bones acceptable, but they didn’t do that, they got music that carries its share of the story, and that is so important. You need the music to drive the final nail home of where this story is taking place, what is this world like? The wrong music, as I’ve said many times before, can break a decent story, and by all accounts this is the best music possible for Pacific Rim: The Black.

PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL ANIME SERIES)
TRACKLISTING

  1. The Black
  2. They Always Come Back
  3. Jaeger Breaker
  4. The Drift
  5. b0y
  6. Shane
  7. Boneyard
  8. I’ve Had Worse Benders
  9. Mind Heist
  10. Dismei
  11. Ghost Pilot
  12. Shadow Basin
  13. Bogan Boogie
  14. Memories
  15. Never Coming Back
  16. The Most Powerful Man in The Black
  17. Hunter Vertigo
  18. Just Calm Down
  19. Kajiu Messiah
  20. Copperhead
  21. Atlas Destroyer

It’s a shame I didn’t get to this soundtrack a month ago, but better late than never right? I really enjoyed checking out the music for Pacific Rim: The Black, and you should check it out right away if you get the chance, as it is currently available.

Let me know your thoughts on Pacific Rim: The Black (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

TV Soundtracks

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Soundtrack Review: DOTA: Dragon’s Blood (2021)

On March 25th, Netflix released their new original anime DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, with a score by composer Dino Meneghin (Teen Wolf, Lore), based on the massively popular online MOBA video game DOTA 2. Dino is best known for his television score for MTV’s Teen Wolf, adapted from the classic Michael J. Fox films, as well as several episodes of the hit Amazon Prime Original horror anthology series Lore. In addition to his work in television, Meneghin also scored SNL alumni Taran Killan’s action comedy feature film Killing Gunther with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the short films The Tow and Prom.

Although the series is set in the fantasy DOTA universe, the score isn’t the kind of sweeping, orchestral music typically found in the genre. Composer Dino Meneghin wanted a different kind of score more akin to Tangerine Dream or the old Heavy Metal cartoons. Meneghin set to work creating an entirely unexpected score for the series driven by synths and oftentimes abstract but still able to pull the emotional weight of the story.

Speaking about his experience working on the series, Meneghin said:

“DOTA has been one of the best musical experiences of my career so far. Ashley Miller, Netflix, and Studio MIR were collaborative, open-minded, and willing to take chances with the score. Getting a chance to dive so deeply into a world loved by so many players and fans has been an incredible experience, and I hope the viewers will see and hear how much love we put into it.”

The music for DOTA: Dragon’s Blood really isn’t what you’d expect for a fantasy series. I was fully prepared for the full orchestral experience, as that often pairs well with these kinds of stories, but Meneghin didn’t go in that direction. Instead, what he’s put together is more pared down, while remaining intricate. There is a distinct hint of the fantastical if you listen to the music all the way through, but it’s not big and lush like, say, Game of Thrones. No, the music for DOTA: Dragon’s Blood….it almost reminds me of the music for Blade Runner, in spirit if not in actual texture. The way the synths form a background to the melody, it really does remind me of that science-fiction story, and that’s not a bad thing.

This may sound weird, but hearing the synths in the music had me thinking that perhaps the music is, in its own way, paying homage to DOTA’s digital roots as an online game. The synths make me think of a virtual world, which is how DOTA started, and I like how Meneghin weaves the artificial tones in and out of the musical score for DOTA: Dragon’s Blood.

I really enjoyed listening to the music for DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, it’s been a pleasant surprise and one that everyone should check out when they get the chance.

Let me know what you think about DOTA: Dragon’s Blood in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Teen Wolf (2011-present)

TV Soundtracks

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Soundtrack News: ‘My Hero Academia’ Season 5 EP Out Now!

Milan Records released My Hero Academia Season 5 (Original Series Soundtrack EP) with music by composer and arranger Yuki Hayashi (My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, Pretty Cure, Strawberry Night) on March 31, 2021.

Yuki Hayashi was born in Kyoto in 1980.  Being an active member in a men’s rhythmic gymnastics team in his early years spawned his interest in BGM while selecting songs to complement performances.  This led him to begin teaching himself music composition while at university, despite not having a background in music itself. After graduating, Yuki acquired the basics of track making under house techno DJ and sound-maker Hideo Kobayashi and started producing his first range of music accompaniments for dance sports.  

Available everywhere now, the EP features music written by Hayashi for the fifth season of the critically-acclaimed, hugely popular anime series. Hayashi returns to the My Hero Academia universe after scoring all four seasons of the hit anime television series as well as the first two film installments, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes and My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising. Based on Kōhei Horikoshi’s well-loved manga series, the fifth season of My Hero Academia premiered March 27.

MY HERO ACADEMIA SEASON 5 (ORIGINAL SERIES SOUNDTRACK EP)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. Go, Plus Ultra
  2. So Classmate Were Born Of Worthy Competition
  3. Successor
  4. A VS B
  5. “QUIRK” DON-PACHI Great Exchange
  6. What To Inherit

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Soundtrack Review: Cherry (2021)

Late last month, Lakeshore Records digitally released the original motion picture soundtrack for Cherry by Henry Jackman. The soundtrack will be available exclusively on Apple Music for 60 days before becoming available to all other DSPs on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.

Henry Jackman has established himself as one of today’s top composers by fusing his classical training with his experience as a successful record producer and creator of electronic music. Jackman’s upcoming feature is the anticipated drama from The Russo Brothers, Cherry. He recently completed Jumanji 2, a continuation of the magical board game adventure story, and Detective Pikachu, following the story of the beloved Pikachu Pokémon character starring Ryan Reynolds. His other recent work includes Ralph Breaks the Internet, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature. His other diverse credits include Captain America: Civil War, Kong: Skull Island, Captain Phillips, Big Hero 6, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.  

Cherry follows the wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances. Inspired by the best-selling novel of the same name, “Cherry” features Tom Holland in the title role as an unhinged character who drifts from dropping out of college to serving in Iraq as an Army medic and is only anchored by his one true love, Emily (Ciara Bravo). When Cherry returns home a war hero, he battles the demons of undiagnosed PTSD and spirals into drug addiction, surrounding himself with a menagerie of depraved misfits. Draining his finances, Cherry turns to bank robbing to fund his addiction, shattering his relationship with Emily along the way.

Speaking about his score for Cherry, Henry Jackman had the following to say:

Cherry’s soundscape never deviates from the core idea of emulating the internal. It’s music that ebbs and flows depending on the emotions and mental state of the main character grounding the film in Cherry’s subjective experience.

 Directors Joe and Anthony Russo said of Jackman and his score, “This is Henry’s most sublime work. Beautiful, poignant, riotous, devious. Breathtaking in its ability to manifest such complex tones, while unifying them at the same time. He’s truly a master of the craft.” 

The soundtrack for Cherry is definitely one that has subverted all of my expectations. Based on what I know of the film’s plot, I was expecting something that was extremely gritty, rough around the edges, or very action oriented. But Henry Jackman has created something that is none of these things. The music for Cherry is strikingly beautiful, with an orchestral mix that I wouldn’t have expected in a million years. But it’s also got a number of twisted elements at work, several of which I’d like to highlight.

First I want to bring to your attention ‘Carnival of Losers Pt. 1’ and ‘Carnival of Losers Pt 2’. The first iteration of Carnival of Losers will sound like a misnomer, because the piece sounds, for all the world, like a charming waltz with a street carnival vibe (hence the name I’m sure). It’s not until you hear Pt. 2 of Carnival of Losers that you realize the two pieces are mirror images of each other: Pt. 1 takes place before the trauma and Pt. 2 takes place afterward. I say that because Pt. 2 is a muted and twisted version of Pt. 1. It’s set to an almost identical beat as Pt. 1, but it’s clear something terrible has happened between Pt. 1 and Pt. 2.

The most twisted part of all though? That would have to be ‘Star-Mangled Banner’. This piece screamed volumes to me, and likely will to many other people who have had their faith in the government shaken as of late. It takes a while to become recognizable, but there IS in fact a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner in this piece, but one that’s so warped, discordant and twisted that it is barely recognizable. If I observe this piece as a commentary on the state of the nation, it’s a damning piece of musical commentary, and one that deeply moved me.

Those are the big moments that I wanted to highlight from the Cherry soundtrack, but the rest of it is equally fun to listen to. To reiterate, this soundtrack will completely subvert whatever expectations you had going in, but in the best way possible. This is a reminder that one should never let a film’s premise dictate your thoughts on what the music may sound like, you might find you’re proven wrong.

Cherry Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Track List

  1. When Life Was Beginning, I Saw You (2:51)
  2. Madison (2:01)
  3. Carnival of Losers, Pt. I (2:10)
  4. The Elusive Sensation of Bliss (2:09)
  5. It Was Perfect (0:43)
  6. A Thing for Weak Guys (2:19)
  7. Honeymoon (3:25)
  8. Star-Mangled Banner (2:26)
  9. Iraq (5:10)
  10. Triangle of Death (1:01)
  11. Cheerleaders (1:05)
  12. Huffers of 1st Platoon (1:54)
  13. Another Day, Another Mission (3:15)
  14. Night Tremors (2:52)
  15. Unholy Retribution (1:24)
  16. OxyContin (0:43)
  17. Date Night (2:51)
  18. Carnival of Losers, Pt. 2 (2:03)
  19. Acquiescence (2:24)
  20. I’m Your Worst Nightmare (3:34)
  21. Crossing the Line (1:34)
  22. Rob Another Bank (1:57)
  23. Overdose (2:28)
  24. Your Fate is Darkly Determined (6:21)
  25. One Last Job (3:00)
  26. The Comedown (9:23)
  27. What I’m Trying to Say Is… (Bonus Track) (5:06)

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

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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

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

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Soundtrack News: Chaos Walking Soundtrack Out April 2nd

Milan Records announces that the Chaos Walking (Original Score)  with music by Marco Beltrami and Brandon Roberts will be released on April 2nd, 2021.  Available for preorder now, the album features score music from the highly anticipated film.  The score continues a long tradition of collaborations between the two-time Academy Award®-nominated composers Beltrami and Roberts, who also garnered an Emmy® Award together for their work on Free Solo.  

Of the soundtrack, Beltrami and Roberts had the following to say:

“The score for Chaos Walking provided a unique opportunity for us to create a musical language for a fictitious world that was simultaneously both familiar and alien, and in so doing, explore crossing genres that are rarely combined. There are otherworldly sci-fi elements, as well as classic gritty western themes. We had a lot of fun implementing new instruments that would define this cross pollination.  It was an adventure to live in this new musical world.” 

In the not too distant future, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) discovers Viola (Daisy Ridley), a mysterious girl who crash lands on his planet, where all the women have disappeared and the men are afflicted by “the Noise” – a force that puts all their thoughts on display. In this dangerous landscape, Viola’s life is threatened – and as Todd vows to protect her, he will have to discover his own inner power and unlock the planet’s dark secrets.  From the director of The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow and based on the best-selling novel The Knife of Never Letting Go, Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland star with Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, Kurt Sutter, and David Oyelowo in Chaos Walking.

CHAOS WALKING (ORIGINAL SCORE)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. Main Title
  2. Love That Knife
  3. Friendship Theme
  4. Lost in the Woods
  5. Chaos in Space
  6. Thief / Gotta Tell
  7. First Encounter
  8. Motor Horse Chase
  9. Posse on the Move / Exploring the Ship
  10. Spackle Tackle
  11. Farbranch
  12. Letter from Mom
  13. Town Attack
  14. Lonely
  15. Riverbank Chase / Rapids
  16. You’re a Good Man, Todd Hewitt
  17. Preacher Attack / Antenna Climb
  18. Showdown
  19. Women Unite
  20. I Am Todd Hewitt

You can check out the soundtrack for Chaos Walking when it releases on April 2nd, 2021!

See also:

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

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 

Music, Basketball, and One Amazing Coach: Talking with Composer Grant Fonda about The House That Rob Built (2020)

Just recently I spoke with composer Grant Fonda about his work on The House That Rob Built, a documentary film that looks at the life and career of Rob Selvig, the iconic coach of the University of Montana’s Lady Griz basketball team. Underfunded and sidelined by men’s athletics, the Lady Griz bloomed under the fresh Title IX regulations that brought equal funding, scholarships and facilities to women’s collegiate sports. Selvig’s hard-driving style took the team from humble roots, playing before empty stands, and built them into the preeminent women’s basketball program west of the Rockies.

Los Angeles based composer Grant Fonda has collaborated with numerous creatives on a wide array of notable projects, including the acclaimed The Dating Project (dir. Jonathan Cipiti, 2018), the award-winning Down The Fence (Netflix, dir. MJ Isakson, 2017), and the multi-award winning Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton. Grant has been a collaborator in music departments for award-winning composers Thomas Newman and Heitor Pereira on Spectre, Finding Dory, Bridge of Spies, and Minions. He also has worked with with the late James Horner on Titanic Live! and John Debney on a live show for Disneyland’s California Adventure.

Please enjoy my conversation with Grant Fonda about The House That Rob Built.

How did you get started as a composer?

I’ve been around music for as long as I can remember. My grandfather was a classically trained pianist and always encouraged me to make music, even before I started taking lessons. He and my parents fostered creativity by letting me pursue my passions, and I always gravitated back to music, always dabbling in creating my own tunes. One teacher after another said “Hey, Grant, you’re really good at this. You should think about composing for a career.” In a way, I guess you can say that I finally fell out of pursuing a career as a music educator and fell into composing. 

What was your starting point in composing for The House That Rob Built?

As is often the case in this business, it started with a relationship. I had been the composer for Jonathan Cipiti’s The Dating Project and Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton, both produced by Family Theater Productions under the guidance of producer Megan Harrington. Jon and Megan really wanted to get the “team” back together again for The House That Rob Built, so I got the first call! Naturally, I was delighted. 

This might come out wrong, but when you were writing this music, did you think of this primarily as music about basketball first and the man second, or about the man first and the basketball second? Or was it an equal focus between the two?

Without question, Rob as a person, the team as a unit, and the individuals of the team always came to the narrative forefront over the game of basketball itself. I was always thinking about the intensity of basketball, but directors Jon Cipiti and Megan Harrington were quick to remind me that the story was firstly about the heart of the players rather than the game. That heart, legacy, and connection had to translate to viewers without getting lost. 

For the instruments, what did you decide to include in the orchestral mix? I hear a lot of strings, but I know there’s more than that.

You’re right, a string quartet forms the foundation of the score. The only other truly-orchestral instrument in the palette was a felted piano, but the soundscape also features the Nyckelharpa (a Swedish keyed fiddle) and the voice of the amazing Hannah Rose Lewis. I suppose that you could also say that there’s an “orchestra” of synths –– I wanted the synthetic part of the sonic universe to feel simultaneously organic and forward-thinking while embracing a bit of a retro vibe at times.

What prompted your decision to go out and mix in the actual sounds of basketballs into the music? That strikes me as the kind of decision that will either work really well or not at all (I thought it worked great).

Thanks! That’s awesome. One of the things that kept coming up in our spotting session was the need to capture the intensity of women’s collegiate basketball, but there wasn’t going to be a lot of sound design to help us because reenactments were usually working in tandem with voice-overs, and the sound quality of archival footage was noisy. I had the idea that it’d be interesting to try and blur the lines between sound design and score by incorporating sounds of the court, but I knew it’d be a tough sell unless it was executed perfectly. It had to feel organic without being campy. Jon and Megan loved the pitch in one cue, so as I wrote, those source sounds started to become the backbone of the percussive side of the score. 

Are there other atypical sounds mixed into the score that we should be keeping an ear open for? 

The Nyckelharpa is a fun treat for the ears in this score! We had so much fun recording this at the session, and there’s part of me that wishes I had used it more often. The way that Malachai Bandy (our Nyckelharpa player) emotes in his performances is stunning and really exaggerates the sense of longing and feeling of nostalgic folk music. 

How long did you have to work on this score? Was it a close collaboration with the directors?

I worked very closely with Jon and Megan while writing, partially because I only had 21 days to write the entire score, and then about a week to record and mix it. I think I spent as much time on the phone as I did writing! Like a great coach, Jon and Megan checked in daily to see how they could help inspire me, give thoughtful feedback, and push me to elevate the story in every cue. Sometimes, solitude is a composer’s saving grace while they’re in creative-mode, but in this case, working against the clock with the team amplified the film’s narrative in a sublime way.

Was the scoring/recording process impacted by the pandemic in any way?

It wasn’t, thankfully (we recorded in fall 2019), but we almost did have to reschedule the recording session because my wife started having pre-labor for our daughter the day before the session! I’ll never forget calling Jon Cipiti and saying, “I know this is not the call that you want to get the day of a recording session, but I think that we might be having a baby instead of recording strings tomorrow.” Thankfully, our gorgeous daughter arrived about two weeks later, and the session went as planned.

Do you have a favorite part of the soundtrack/score?

I love the cue Title IX because of the unusual textures and Hannah’s masterful vocal performances, but my favorite cue in the film has to be Strong, which is featured within the last scenes of the film. This was some of the first footage that I saw, but some of the last notes that I penned. To write it well, I knew that I’d have to draw from other parts of the score and also be emotionally up for the task because the different parts of the narrative come together to pack a wallop. The resulting almost nine-minute-long cue are some of the highest highs and lowest lows that I’ve ever composed, and I still feel a lump in my throat when I watch/hear it, a year and a half later. 

Anything in particular you hope audiences take away with them when they watch the documentary and hear this music?

I hope that people are reminded that inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places and through unexpected circumstances. I hope that they’ll remember that unity can be found and thrive in diversity. And, I hope that viewing and listening audiences will be inspired to invest in the next generation to build things that are greater than their wildest imaginations. 

I’d like to give a big thank you to Grant Fonda for taking the time to talk with me about The House That Rob Built.

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Soundtrack News: Pacific Rim: The Black Soundtrack Releasing March 5th

Milan Records and Sony Music Masterworks today announced that the official soundtrack for Pacific Rim: The Black by composer Brandon Campbell will release on Friday, March 5.  Available for preorder now, the album features score music written by Campbell for Netflix’s newest anime series from Legendary Television and based on Legendary and Guillermo del Toro’s blockbuster film franchise Pacific Rim. Continuing the tale of epic battles between monsters and robots in an exciting new style, Pacific Rim: The Black will be released worldwide on Thursday, March 4 exclusively on Netflix.  

Of the soundtrack for Pacific Rim: The Black, composer Brandon Campbell had the following to say:

“Our showrunner, Greg Johnson, wanted a score that encompassed bits of DNA from the original Pacific Rim film while still being unique enough to support the struggles and triumphs of Taylor and Hailey.  We created a hybrid orchestral score with the heavy themes and melodic material that will hopefully resonate with Pacific Rim fans, while including more intimate and emotional musical moments that accompany our characters as they make their way across The Black.  I hope my music brings you back into the world of the awesome power of the Kaiju and Jaeger, but also into the hearts of Taylor and Hailey.”

The album marks the first release under a new, multi-year agreement between Milan Records/Sony Music Masterworks and Legendary Television to collaborate on future soundtrack releases.  Under the new agreement, Milan Records will have the exclusive right to distribute all soundtrack albums released by Legendary Television for its television shows and series, supporting the studio with the global distribution, marketing and promotion of these soundtrack titles.

ABOUT PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK
There was a time when Kaiju rose from the Pacific Rim only to encounter gigantic robots, Jaegers, built to fight them back. That time has passed. Now, Australia has been overrun by Kaiju, forcing the evacuation of an entire continent. Left behind, teenage siblings Taylor and Hayley embark on a desperate search for their missing parents, teaching themselves to pilot a battered, long-abandoned Jaeger to help in their quest and give them even the slightest hope of surviving.

PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL ANIME SERIES)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. The Black
  2. They Always Come Back
  3. Jaeger Breaker
  4. The Drift
  5. b0y
  6. Shane
  7. Boneyard
  8. I’ve Had Worse Benders
  9. Mind Heist
  10. Dismei
  11. Ghost Pilot
  12. Shadow Basin
  13. Bogan Boogie
  14. Memories
  15. Never Coming Back
  16. The Most Powerful Man in The Black
  17. Hunter Vertigo
  18. Just Calm Down
  19. Kajiu Messiah
  20. Copperhead
  21. Atlas Destroyer

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