Tag Archives: soundtrack

Soundtrack Review: Titane (2021)

As I’ve been enviously watching the latest film festival lineups from afar, the one film I’ve wanted to see the most out of all of them is Titane, the latest film from director Julia Ducournau. Well, I may have to wait a little longer to see the film itself, but I have been given the opportunity to listen to the film’s soundtrack and I definitely have some thoughts about it.

The soundtrack for Titane was composed by Jim Williams and is available to preorder now and will be available starting today, October 1. The film is the second collaboration between Williams and Ducournau, the duo having worked together on Ducournau’s 2016 feature film debut Raw.

Regarding the music for Titane, Jim Williams had the following to say:

“The score for Titane grows from a short theme for a scene where the protagonist leaves home in startling circumstances…Initially in a contemporary popular music style with a tinge of John Barry, later this was set with metal percussion and male voice choir using the Neapolitan Minor for a scene set in a car. As the film develops the theme takes on an emotional, darker twist.”

And what music it is!! Ever since I heard the premise for Titane, I was eager for any peek, however small, at the film. So when I got the opportunity to preview the soundtrack for Titane, I jumped at the chance.

Let me start by saying that this might not be the type of soundtrack you were expecting for a story like Titane, especially with some of the preview visuals that I’ve seen for the film. In fact, the music starts out so different at the beginning of the soundtrack that I actually double-checked to make sure I was listening to the right audio files. However, as I dove into the music and moved farther in, I realized this unusual music (it’s almost all timpani drums in the beginning) was growing on me. There’s a harsh, almost mechanical feeling to the first half of the soundtrack and given film’s premise that makes total sense.

As near as I can tell, Williams and Ducournau made the decision to center the music around the mechanical aspects of the story, at least in the beginning. There are human elements in the mix to be sure, but they don’t come out until later, presumably as the story is progressing along (this is speculation on my part as I’ve yet to actually see the film). But I’m fascinated by Williams’ decision to focus so much on percussion and drums. You don’t hear a score centered on that kind of sound mix all that often, in fact for me personally I can’t recall hearing anything quite like this before. The mix of drums and some type of gong that dominates the early part of the soundtrack, it all reminds me of a twisted, metal temple; or some type of metallic sacred space. That may sound weird but it’s the best description I can come up with. You almost have to hear the music yourself to even begin to understand it.

Even when the music does shift away from being strictly percussion (one example is “Bathroom Pieta”), the percussive sounds never really go away, they’re always lingering in the background. And I like how the music that’s created during these later tracks (again, “Bathroom Pieta” and also “Belly Oil”) still feels twisted and warped. Everything about this music will feel slightly “off” to your ears and I firmly believe that is by design (again, given the film’s subject matter). You are not meant to feel comfortable listening to this music, I know it left me on edge for the most part.

One final detail that grabbed my attention: I like how the later tracks seem to be leading toward a church-like motif with what sounds like an organ (or at least a synthesized version of one). If the first half of Titane‘s soundtrack is set in a metallic temple, the second half ends up in a cathedral, albeit one equally as twisted as where the music starts in the beginning.

Titane Soundtrack Track Listing

1.Gym to Car
2.Fan in Car Kill
3.Car Fuck [Explicit]
4.Beach Puke
5.Justine Kill
6.House Burning
7.Airport
8.Simulator
9.Bathroom Pieta
10.Belly Oil
11.Forest Fire
12.Sarabande
13.Ending from Bedroom
14.Ending from Kiss
15.End Credits
16.Wayfaring Stranger
17.Apocalypse
18.God and Drug

I highly recommend checking out the soundtrack for Titane at the earliest opportunity. This is one of the most interesting soundtracks I’ve listened to this year and it’s made me more eager than ever to watch the actual film the first chance I get.

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Around and Around We Go: Talking with Composer Tom Salta about Deathloop (2021)

Just recently I had the chance to speak with composer Tom Salta about his work on the hit video game Deathloop. Salta is an award-winning composer, who writes music for film and television as well as video games. Aside from Deathloop, his past work in video games includes work on Wolfenstein: Youngblood, the HALO games, and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, just to name a few.

For Deathloop, Tom Salta had to create music for a world where the player controls Colt, an assassin tasked with killing a series of targets before a time loop activates at midnight, undoing any progress made. With that premise in mind, I was very excited to speak with Tom Salta about his work on this game.

I hope you enjoy our conversation about Deathloop!

How did you get started as a composer?

Now that’s a loaded question! [laughs] Back in 1990 when I started on my professional path, I never imagined getting into composing, no less composing for video games. I started in the music industry fully intent on becoming a famous record producer. My first shot in the big leagues was going on tour with Bobby Brown as keyboard tech and sound designer. After touring for several years, I spent the ‘90s working in the studio on almost every kind of music you could imagine for a variety of both up and coming and major artists. In 2001, there was a paradigm shift in the music industry and in the world. High speed internet became widely available and music piracy took over. No one was buying music anymore. Mainstream artists were becoming “manufactured” by huge labels and I felt creatively restricted in the area of pop music. All my dreams and aspirations of becoming a record producer started to crumble.

At the same time, the original Xbox was released and a game called ‘Halo’ redefined the first-person shooter. I was also an avid gamer since the ‘70s but it wasn’t until 2001 that the music in games started to resonate with me. And then one day, a day that I still vividly remember, I had an epiphany… “That’s it! Video game music! It combines the two things I love the most… music and games! But where do I start?”

It was a difficult transition… Imagine throwing away fifteen years of experience in music and starting over in a new industry entirely with absolutely no connections. Scary to say the least. After a lot of dead ends, I got the crazy idea that my best chance of being noticed was to go through music licensing channels, rather than trying to start as a composer. So, I created a new moniker for my artist persona, “Atlas Plug” (Atlas is Salta backwards) and created an entire album on my own of big beat electronica that would be perfectly suited for licensing in games, television and film. I connected with a publisher who represented the album and before I even finished, Microsoft heard it and wanted to license four songs in a new game called Rallisport Challenge 2. And that is where it really all started. That year, my debut album “2 Days or Die” took the industry by storm with every track being licensed in games, television, and film.

At the same time, I signed with an agent and began getting opportunities to pitch myself as a composer in games. My first original score was a PC adventure game called “Still Life”. Shortly after that, I established myself as a composer when I was hired to score major titles like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Need For Speed Underground 2.


How did you get involved with Deathloop and what did you think about the game’s time loop premise?

I was approached to work on Deathloop by the audio director that I had just finished working with on Wolfenstein Cyberpilot. When I heard about the unusual time loop mechanism and even more unusual music style, I was definitely intrigued.

How involved were the game’s directors/producers in collaborating with you on the game’s soundtrack? Were you given a lot of direction or was a lot of it left up to you?

I would say it was a healthy combination of both. Initially I was provided with a very comprehensive 50-page brief that described everything about the game. The audio director was also very specific about the late ‘60s aesthetic he was going for, although he knew that we were entering into uncharted territory with some of it.

I’m a big fan of collaborations so we had many emails back and forth and I did lots of my own research and explorations into potential musical approaches. After several weeks of experimentation, the signature sound of the score began to emerge.

I’ve read that this game was inspired by the Swinging Sixties, how did that inspiration play into the game’s soundtrack? 

Deathloop has a wide array of inspirations, including, but not limited to, the swinging sixties. The music of one of the fictional targets (visionaries), Charlie Montague, was definitely inspired by the swinging sixties and in particular, the superhero cartoon music back then, especially the original Batman series that I used to watch after school as a kid. That was a lot of fun to create.


On a related note, with the 60’s pop art style engulfing the game world, how much of the music was Inspired by films like James Bond.

The late ‘60s James Bond music was definitely an ingredient in the overall recipe of the score’s style, especially in key areas where I had to bring out the ‘secret military base’ vibe. The sixties were a very colorful time and so I had a lot of fun channeling that period in a myriad of ways.


What type of instruments are used in this score, I wasn’t expecting a game called Deathloop to sound like this but I absolutely love it. Also, do I hear a theremin in the mix?

[laughs] Yes, you certainly do. You can’t do ‘60s sci-fi and not use a theremin, right? [laughs] The approach I took for creating the palette for this score was imagining that I found a room of musical instruments that was locked up for fifty years. Then I would take those instruments and create a ‘60s inspired score through my own modern lens.

You’ll hear instruments such as Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hammond B3, Farfisa, Clavinet, Mellotron, Electric Harpsichord, Marimba, Vibes, Orchestra, Guitars, Bass, Drums and lots of other sixties inspired ear candy.

I noticed that there is a separate track/theme for each of Colt’s targets and those themes sounded strikingly similar to me. What went into creating the music for each of the targets and did their themes have anything to do with how each needs to be approached in a specific order to ultimately beat the game?

Yes, they should sound similar as they are all based on the same composition. In fact, they were supposed to be even more similar than they are now.

The original idea was to have a single suite of music (Exploration, Fight and Escape) for all targets and then just introduce one or two different elements to identify the character. Eventually, some of the target tracks evolved to be more unique arrangements of the same music. But they are all structurally identical.

The differences between the arrangements for each visionary are based around the instruments used that would come to represent each of them. So, for example, Aleksis (the arrogant eccentric) featured some sophisticated jazz styles, Harriet (the ruthless, yet pious mystic) features a dark church bell and eerie gothic choirs, and your theremin makes an appearance for Wenjie Evans, the program founder who studied supernatural phenomena.


How much of a role does the time loop play in the music? For instance, Andrew Prahlow, the composer of Outer Wilds, another video game that features a time loop, mentioned that he crafted music that begins to speed up and become more insistent the closer the player got to the loop restarting. Does anything of that nature occur in the music of Deathloop?

Yes, but instead of the tempo changing, the music gets livelier. This parallels the activity of the island’s inhabitants since all the partying really gets going in the evening. Each of the four main areas of the island of Blackreef have their own musical suite. The Exploration phase of each of those suites has four different arrangements based on the four different time periods… midnight, morning, afternoon and evening.


How much time did you have to work on Deathloop? Were you brought in early in the process of game development or late?

I worked on the score for six months, starting in January 2020 and ending in June. I suppose it was somewhere in between but there was still over a year of development after I finished.


Do you have a favorite piece in the score?

I’d probably have to pick the main theme, “Welcome to Blackreef.” It was an interesting journey getting there though. The original theme idea proposed to me was to create a very mysterious theme, more in the spirit of the 1961 classic “Mysterious Island” and the “Lost” series. The audio director really liked the theme but about a month into the score, I began to feel that it didn’t quite match the vivacious personality of the game. So I secretly began working on a new theme. I wanted something catchier and, well… loopable. [laughs] Eventually I found the four chords and three notes I was looking for and spent a week putting the final touches on it. Once I had a finished version, I sent it over. Naturally, the audio director wasn’t quick to just replace what we had, but several weeks later he agreed that it worked better for the game and so, that became the new theme that most of the score is based on.

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview and I’d like to say thank you to Tom Salta for taking the time to speak with me about Deathloop.

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Composer Interviews

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Soundtrack News: My Hero Academia Season 5 Soundtrack Available Now

Milan Records has announced the release of MY HERO ACADEMIA: SEASON 5 (ORIGINAL SERIES SOUNDTRACK) with music by composer and arranger YUKI HAYASHI (My Hero Academia: Heroes RisingPretty CureStrawberry Night).

 Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Hayashi for the fifth season of the critically acclaimed, hugely popular anime series. In addition to the season five soundtrack, Hayashi has scored all four previous seasons of the hit anime television series as well as three corresponding film installments, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising and My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission.

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. His experience as a rhythmic gymnast has enabled Yuki to intuitively incorporate an eclectic range of music and produce a unique sound, empowering scenes from TV drama, animation and film.

MY HERO ACADEMIA: SEASON 5 (ORIGINAL SERIES SOUNDTRACK)

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
  7. The Mission Of The Stealth Hawk
  8. Different Ability Liberation Army
  9. My Villain Academia
  10. Second Coming
  11. Gigantomachia
  12. Mine Woman
  13. TOGA’s nature
  14. Symbol Of Fear
  15. I Don’t Kill My Friends
  16. RE DESTRO
  17. Paranormal Liberation Front
  18. Sound of the Holidays
  19. Sound of the Holidays inst Ver

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Soundtrack News: Venom: Let There Be Carnage Soundtrack Releasing October 1

Sony Music Masterworks has announced the October 1 release of VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by award-winning composer Marco Beltrami (ScreamResident EvilA Quiet Place). Available to preorder now, the album features score music written by Beltrami for the highly anticipated sequel to the 2018 worldwide box office hit film Venom.

Of the soundtrack, composer Marco Beltrami had the following to say:

“Because of COVID restrictions, we had to change the way we worked on processing acoustical sounds. Where we’d normally work with live musicians to create source material, here we had musicians record at home and then re-amp them at Sony. In addition, we worked with feedback looping to create some of the aggressive tones for Carnage. The film presented a lot of fun musical challenges, from a unique enhanced brass theme for Venom, to the altered woodwind theme for Carnage and Shriek, to a slightly bluesy feel for Eddie. Overall, in spite of those COVID restrictions, I feel very lucky we were able to still record many of the orchestral sessions at Sony and have it come out sounding so good!”

ABOUT VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE

Tom Hardy returns to the big screen as the lethal protector Venom, one of MARVEL’s greatest and most complex characters. Directed by Andy Serkis, the film also stars Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Woody Harrelson, in the role of the villain Cletus Kasady/Carnage.

VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) TRACKLISTING –

1. St. Estes Reform School (Extended)
2.Cletus’ Cell
3.Eddie Draws
4.Brock’s Revival
5.Lucky Slaughterhouse
6.Ann’s News
7.Take the Hit
8.Postcard From the Edge
9.No Touching!
10.Eddie Hangs on the Line
11.Lethal Rejection
12.Carnage Unleashed
13.Mulligan Visits Eddie
14.There is Only Carnage
15.Get Shriek
16.The Great Escape
17.Venom Needs Food
18.People Seeing Monsters
19.Find Venom
20.Turn on the Charm
21.Eddie Escapes
22.Shriek Comes Home
23.You Can Eat Them All
24.Unholy Matrimony Pt. 1
25.Unholy Matrimony Pt. 2
26.He Did Not Taste Good
27.Panza and Quixote,
28.Venom and Blues
29.Venom’s Suite Tooth
30.Brock and Roll

Will you be checking out the soundtrack for Venom: Let There be Carnage?

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Soundtrack Review: Brin d’amour (2019)

Earlier this summer I was invited to check out the documentary Brin d’amour, about the life and work of Alain Vigneau, with music composed by Andre Barros. The documentary is fascinating in and of itself, as it follows not only Vigneau’s life, but also how he uses being a clown as a form of therapy. But what really pulled me in was Barros’ music for the documentary, which reminded me more than once why I fell in love with film music in the first place.

More than once, as I sat listening to the music of Brin d’amour, I thought I was merely out of practice because I kept losing the thread of the music because I was paying attention to the documentary at the same time. But it finally dawned on me that I wasn’t getting distracted, it was simply that the music is interwoven so well with the story that you don’t realize it’s there, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, the best film music is the kind you don’t notice. It should blend in with the visuals and that’s exactly what happens here.

The score for this documentary is based on a small ensemble: piano, a string trio, and several electronic instruments and synthesizers. A small group of instruments, to be sure, but they are used to great effect. I really love how Barros’ music draws you into the story, and not just the funny moments when you see Alain doing clownish things, but also the more deeply serious moments when some truly dark topics are touched upon. My favorite part is the music during the time when Alain and other members of his family talk about his late mother. You really get the feeling that this was a wonderful woman who was lost. Equally compelling is Barros’ ability to know when not to use any music, like during a therapy session when Alain is having one woman work out her feelings over the death of her grandmother. Moments like that, the music would distract from the experience, so using silence is those moments makes them resonate even more.

I’m happy I finally had the time to sit down and listen to Andre Barros’ music for Brin d’amour. It’s really good and I had a lot of fun listening to it.

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack News: Vinyl Edition of ‘The Green Knight’ Score by Daniel Hart Available for Pre-Order from A24

 Following last month’s digital release of THE GREEN KNIGHT (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by composer and performer Daniel Hart, the album’s vinyl edition is now available for preorder exclusively on the A24 shop. Available digitally to stream and download, the album features score music written by Hart for director David Lowery’s latest fantasy adventure film based on the classic Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. Newly pressed on emerald-green marbled vinyl, the soundtrack arrives as a 2-LP gatefold set featuring liner notes from Hart and Lowery – preorder exclusively via the A24 shop hereThe Green Knight is currently available to watch in theaters and will be available to watch on PVOD anywhere your rent movies starting Thursday, August 19.

Available everywhere now, Daniel Hart’s soundtrack to The Green Knight is both as epic and unique as the film itself, a sweepingly dramatic and expansive body of music that straddles the divide between medieval and modern. Hart’s work has already garnered acclaim from critics, with the Los Angeles Times writing, “These fateful encounters draw lyricism and gravity from the singsong interludes and delicately plucked strings of Daniel Hart’s enveloping, ever-present score,” and eventually determining the film to be a “ravishing triumph.” The soundtrack is the latest in a longstanding creative partnership between Lowery and Hart, the duo having worked together previously on Ain’t Them Bodies SaintsPete’s DragonA Ghost Story and The Old Man & the Gun.

Of the soundtrack, composer Daniel Hart says:

“Making this music was somehow both like running from a pack of hyenas and wading through a river of chocolate mud. It has never taken David [Lowery] and I this long to find what we were looking for musically on any of his films, so to listen back now and actually love what we made is all the more satisfying, especially when I think about how many late nights and hair pullings went into it. Much like Gawain himself, I was stumbling through the wilderness most of the time and found little moments of good fortune here and there, often through stubborn dumb luck. I hope that when you listen to the soundtrack, you’ll think about things other than me sitting in my studio, endlessly fretting. But if you do, then your imagination is very accurate.”

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

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Soundtrack Review: Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

Milan Records today releases GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) by composer Frank Ilfman (Big Bad WolvesThe OperativeRory’s Way ). Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Ilfman for Navot Papushado’s Gunpowder Milkshake. The film is a female-driven, high-concept thriller with a rich mythology and multi-generational narrative that give it a fresh, 21st century perspective on the traditional assassin film. Directed and co-written by Navot Papushado (Big Bad Wolves), Gunpowder Milkshake debuts on Netflix in the US, Canada and Nordics today, with theatrical releases rolling out everywhere else worldwide from July 15.

In Gunpowder Milkshake, Sam (Karen Gillan) was only 12 years old when her mother Scarlet (Lena Headey), an elite assassin, was forced to abandon her. Sam was raised by The Firm, the ruthless crime syndicate her mother worked for. Now, 15 years later, Sam has followed in her mother’s footsteps and grown into a fierce hit-woman. She uses her “talents” to clean up The Firm’s most dangerous messes. She’s as efficient as she is loyal. But when a high-risk job goes wrong, Sam must choose between serving The Firm and protecting the life of an innocent 8-year-old girl – Emily (Chloe Coleman). With a target on her back, Sam has only one chance to survive: Reunite with her mother and her lethal associates, The Librarians (Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett and Carla Gugino). These three generations of women must now learn to trust each other, stand up to The Firm and their army of henchmen, and raise hell against those who could take everything from them. 

Of the soundtrack, Gunpowder Milkshake director Navot Papushado says:

“Because this movie mixes so many different genres and so many ideas, the music was always going to be the glue. When I started talking to composer Frankie (Haim Frank Ilfman), I said I had the Western vibe of Ennio Morricone, the Italian chic of Stelvio Cipriani, and the violent suspense of Bernard Herrmann in mind. The end result is Western mixed with Italian retro chic and the suspense of Bernard Hermann with an electronic vibe that came from Frankie. The soundtrack is retro but modern, it could be played on vinyl or Spotify.”

Due to a busy schedule, I’ve not yet had the chance to watch Gunpowder Milkshake on Netflix (though I plan on fixing that in the next few days) but when I saw the soundtrack had arrived in my inbox, I couldn’t wait to check it out and get a hint of what I was in for.

Oh my goodness this music is so good!

The director really does sum it up perfectly by describing this music as Western mixed with Italian retro chic with the suspense of Bernard Hermann thrown in for good measure. The music for Gunpowder Milkshake is a delightful mish-mash of all of those things and more, it’s the kind of soundtrack you can sink your teeth into and find something different every time. In fact, I would go so far as to call this a “neo-classical” film score, in that it appears to be a modern take on a classical film score. Or, put another way, imagine if someone took a classic film score from the 1930s or 40s and redid it for the modern era, that’s what this music reminds me of.

This may be one of the best movie soundtracks I’ve heard in 2021, as I can hear influences all over the place. Even without the director mentioning it, I can hear the influence of Ennio Morricone the most, especially in “Goonfight at Gutterball Corral.” There’s also, as I said before, definitely a decent sampling of Bernard Hermann in this score too. But there’s also a lot in this music, and it may be coincidental, that reminds me of Daniel Pemberton’s score for The Man From UNCLE. I can’t put my finger on a specific cue, but more than once I found myself thinking of that film while listening to this soundtrack. That’s not a bad thing by the way, Pemberton’s scores are among my favorite, and if Frank Ilfman’s score for Gunpowder Milkshake reminds me of that style of film music, so much the better.

I can also say that the soundtrack for Gunpowder Milkshake is very easy to listen to, as many of the tracks are relatively short and therefore you can go through them at a relatively quick pace. I like how “bite-sized” some of these themes are. You get a feel for the music rather quickly and it didn’t take me a lot of time to take the measure of this film’s score.

Listening to the music for Gunpowder Milkshake has me more eager than ever to watch the movie itself, and I can only hope that the film is just as good as the music that was written for it.

GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. Opening Titles
  2. Home Sweet Home?
  3. Scarlet’s Theme
  4. Gunpowder Milkshake
  5. Big Bad Mommy
  6. New Books and Clean Guns
  7. Dressed To Kill
  8. Le Bonbon
  9. A Careless Whisper
  10. The Firm
  11. The Rollin Roars
  12. Goonfight at Gutterball Corral
  13. The Monsters
  14. Rock Monster
  15. Yankee and the Goons
  16. Redemption Is For The Careless
  17. 13:8 In 60 Seconds
  18. La Balada de los Charros
  19. Are You a Serial Killer?
  20. 944 Bullets
  21. The Sam and Emily Story
  22. Escape Route
  23. Fudge you!
  24. Bare Knuckles and Gold Bars
  25. The Library Fight
  26. The Big Gundown
  27. To The Death
  28. Madeleine’s Adagio
  29. McAlester’s Theme
  30. The Standoff
  31. Red Dot Marks The Spot
  32. Sam’s Theme
  33. Ensemble pour toujours

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: The Tomorrow War (2021)

Milan Records has released THE TOMORROW WAR (AMAZON ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by GRAMMY Award®-winning and Emmy®- and BAFTA-nominated producer and composer Lorne Balfe.  Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Balfe for the futuristic action film directed by Chris McKay and marks the second collaboration between the composer and director, who previously worked together on McKay’s directorial debut The Lego Batman Movie

In The Tomorrow War, the world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.

Of the soundtrack, composer Lorne Balfe says:

“On the surface this is an action movie, but what stood out for me when writing the score was the family dynamics between the main characters. Being able to write themes and music around these relationships and people, both as their future and present-day selves was a unique experience. It was a delight to be able to work with Chris [McKay] again having previously worked with him on the Lego Batman movies, his creativity and versatility as a director is exceptional.”

After listening to Lorne Balfe’s work on Black Widow yesterday, I felt in the mood for more of his work and I decided to check out his score for The Tomorrow War. And after listening to his music for this recently released film, I’m so glad I did.

Balfe’s score for The Tomorrow War is beautiful! Predictably, there is a lot of synthesized music, which I would expect for a science-fiction film that revolves around time traveling 30 years into the future to fight aliens that are destroying planet Earth. But what really gets my attention is how Balfe contrasts the synthesized music with the orchestra, giving you a full range of music that is never once boring.

Another detail I liked? Balfe mixes in a range of sound effects: whooshes, vocalizations and what almost sounds like moaning in “Multiply.” This, combined with the music, creates a very unsettling effect and I really liked it. Given that this film deals with jumping 30 years into the future, the music makes you feel like you’re now in a time and place where you don’t belong, where you don’t fit, and that’s what you’d expect to feel if you’re suddenly pushed forward into the future.

Finally, I have to mention “The Tomorrow War” my favorite piece in the entire score. This gorgeous piece features an uplifting theme that recurs throughout the score, giving the music a big blockbuster feeling that I confess I did not expect given this film was released as an Amazon Original. I say “The Tomorrow War” is uplifting but there’s also hints of danger mixed in the latter half, reminding you that there’s a lot at stake in this unique conflict.

Whether you see the actual film or not, you need to take the time to listen to the music of The Tomorrow War, it is definitely worth it.

Track List

  1. Multiply (2:54)
  2. Spikes Attack (1:57)
  3. Who’s With Us? (4:04)
  4. Reunited (3:07)
  5. Back to the Past (4:03)
  6. The Tomorrow War (5:33)
  7. The Whitespikes (4:01)
  8. The Draft (4:41)
  9. Goodbye (4:15)
  10. So It Begins (8:21)
  11. Fight (2:47)
  12. Message From the Future (2:28)
  13. The Nest (2:08)
  14. Test Tubes (3:19)
  15. The Cube (2:51)
  16. Pushing (6:24)
  17. Miami Dolphins Still Suck (1:52)
  18. Colonel Forester (5:09)
  19. Dan Forester (3:16)
  20. Homecoming (2:17)

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack Review: Black Widow (2021)

Marvel Music/Hollywood Records has released the digital soundtrack from Marvel Studios’ Black Widow.  The album, featuring an original score composed and produced by Lorne Balfe (“Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “The Crown”), is available here.  Executive Soundtrack Producers are Cate Shortland, Kevin Feige and Dave Jordan.  Directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige, Black Widow—the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe— launches simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access in most Disney+ markets.

Commenting on Balfe’s score in her liner notes from the vinyl album, Shortland said, “The score is fragile at times, embodying Natasha’s fears and her longing for connection. Her tenuous bond to the earth. But then it is completely powerful and I get cold shivers at how fun and epic it is. Lorne takes us on a spectacular ride.”

According to Balfe, from the moment he first watched the reels he felt Natasha needed a musical heritage. “I wanted to introduce the soundtrack of her story,” he said. “I listened to a lot of Russian folk music—it’s a very particular sound. This music is the ghost of the past that is always with her.” Balfe wrote folk music that helped define Natasha from a musical point of view. “The instrumental DNA includes balalaikas, duduks, dombras and hurdy-gurdies,” he said. “In addition to these instruments of that geographical place, we also needed it to have a female voice.” Balfe achieved this with a 20-piece female choir, singing in Russian. “The Russian language sounds a bit hard or aggressive, but there’s something very magical about it—something beautiful and rustic.”

Led by conductor Gavin Greenaway, the score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios with 118 musicians and a 60-piece choir, consisting of both classical and gospel, featuring 40 men and 20 women.  Balfe said, “Abbey Road has been the musical home to the Avengers Family for many years. With ‘Black Widow,’ there was only one studio in the world that could match the epic-ness of her story, and the largest orchestra ever recorded at Abbey Road seemed fit for the occasion.”

I’ve been listening and re-listening to Lorne Balfe’s soundtrack for Black Widow for a few hours and I’m continually blown away by how amazing this music is. Of course I could hear snippets of this during the actual film, but once you can listen to the soundtrack without the dialogue and other sound effects getting in the way, everything comes out that much clearer.

I admit I didn’t realize during the movie that there was this much of a choral presence in the score, but now that I can hear the choir, I love it. I normally wouldn’t think of using a choir in a superhero movie but for a character like Natasha Romanoff it absolutely works. One of Balfe’s goals was to create a Russian folk music sound and he definitely succeeded. Again, I really love how “Russian” this score sounds. Even when the story isn’t in Russia itself, the influence of the former Soviet Union can be heard through most of the story and that’s a brilliant way to use film music, by subtly reminding the viewer that Black Widow was originally a Russian asset. I can especially hear this sound in “Natasha’s Lullaby” and “Yelena Belova”. Speaking of “Yelena Belova” I really like this track because, as a theme for Yelena, I swear I hear an echo of “Natasha’s Lullaby” within it, which would make so much sense given the connection Natasha and Yelena have with each other.

And then there’s “From the Shadows”, the cue that prompted me to do a soundtrack review in the first place. This is the music that is most closely associated with Taskmaster. I’m not sure if it’s the proper theme for the character or not, but you do hear it most often when Taskmaster is on the screen. This is my favorite theme/cue in the entire film and I love how twisted it sounds. I’m referring to that melodic turn on what sounds like a cello. That’s the sound that I hear whenever Taskmaster is hunting down an opponent (or is on the move in general). Given what we learn about that character, it fits perfectly and I like how it reaches out to grab your ear despite everything happening on screen at the same time.

One other thing I liked is the contrast Lorne Balfe creates between his action cues. There’s plenty of action, of course, but there’s also slower moments in the music, particularly during the family moments between Natasha, Yelena, Red Guardian and Milena, and I really liked them. Moments like that give the audience a chance to breathe and there are plenty of moments like this in Lorne Balfe’s score.

This soundtrack really belongs up there with the best Marvel movie scores, it’s the perfect musical fit for Black Widow and it reminded me how good Marvel film scores can be.

Track listing
1. Natasha’s Lullaby (3:24)
2. Latrodectus (2:40)
3. Fireflies (3:13)
4. The Pursuit (2:53)
5. The First Bite Is the Deepest (3:05)
6. Last Glimmer (4:19)
7. Dreykov (3:34)
8. You Don’t Know Me (2:01)
9. Yelena Belova (3:36)
10. From the Shadows (3:44)
11. Hand in Hand (2:46)
12. Blood Ties (2:54)
13. Whirlwind (3:28)
14. Arise (2:13)
15. Natasha’s Fragments (1:55)
16. A Sister Says Goodbye (4:14)
17. I Can’t Save Us (1:51)
18. Red Rising (3:57)
19. The Betrayed (5:38)
20. The Descent (2:05)
21. Faces to the Sun (1:51)
22. Natasha Soars (2:19)
23. Last Love (1:59)
24. Into the Past (4:55)
25. Broken Free (3:09)
26. A Calling (2:10)

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

See also:

My Thoughts on: Black Widow (2021)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack News: WaterTower Music Releases ‘TNT’s ‘Animal Kingdom’ Original Series Soundtrack’

WaterTower Music is excited to announce the release of the TNT Original Series Soundtrack for the Warner Bros. Television crime-drama Animal Kingdom, composed by Alexis Marsh & Samuel Jones. The album debuted on July 9, 2021, ahead of the Season 5 premiere Sunday, July 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.

Composing duo Alexis Marsh & Samuel Jones began their career collaborating with rising filmmakers in Los Angeles after graduating from USC’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program in 2010. Their first feature film score, for Jocelyn Towne’s I Am I, introduced a DIY aesthetic of recording and performing each instrument at their home studio while marking their emergence as songwriters and producers with the film’s main title song, ‘Chances (Gone Too Soon)’. The two multi-instrumentalists have since contributed music ranging in style from electronic minimalism to lush orchestral for feature films (We’ll Never Have Paris, Lila & Eve, Preservation, Equity, Next Gen), TV shows (TNT’s Animal Kingdom, HBO’s Sesame Street), documentaries (Ingrid, 20 Years of Madness, Looking at the Stars), art installations (Alex Israel’s KBRZ The Breeze, As It Lays) and advertising campaigns (Pinterest, Glossier, Rimowa).

Animal Kingdom centers on a Southern California family, whose excessive lifestyle is fueled by their criminal activities. When J Cody (Finn Cole) moves in with his estranged grandmother Janine “Smurf” Cody and her freewheeling sons – Andrew “Pope” (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson) and Deran (Jake Weary) – he quickly learns the reason he’s been shielded from them for years. Smurf and her boys make their living through carefully planned armed robberies and other criminal activities. In order to survive in this world, J must prove his loyalties to the Cody crime family.

This 19-track Animal Kingdom album, composed by Marsh & Jones, features original music selects from Seasons 1 through 4, including ‘Big Love,’ the series main title theme from composers Atticus Ross & Claudia Sarne.

Marsh & Jones comment on the show’s music:

It’s a lot of fun to translate metaphors and adjectives into music. In developing the sound of the Animal Kingdom score, the producers used words like ‘muscular,’ ‘broken glass,’ ‘jagged,’ and our collective favorite ‘bilious contempt’ – which we still laugh about five years on. Each season we’ve pushed the score into new areas of what those descriptors could sound like by using pedals, modular synths, or extreme digital manipulations to shape the sound of recorded drums, guitar, and bass.”

They continue:

“The overarching direction has always been to make it unsettling. The essential tension for us is in contrasting how successful the Codys are when they work together with how self-destructive they are when they break off from the family – how they all crave independence at various points, but then make these agonizing choices that only bind them tighter to one another. We have to balance musical elements carefully to avoid sentimentality, convey the seriousness of the situations, but also allow for moments of relief and levity so the pressure doesn’t become overwhelming.”

TRACK LISTING
1. Big Love (Main Title Theme – Atticus Ross & Claudia Sarne)
2. Julia’s Room
3. Biking
4. Cutback
5. Ms. Anderson
6. Paintball
7. New Canticle
8. 3 Of Us, 2 Of You
9. Boarding
10. I Forgive You
11. Don’t Cry
12. The Family Cut
13. Let Go
14. Tank
15. Pierce(d)
16. Into The Black
17. Bullpen
18. Didn’t Think You Had It In You
19. All Points Bulletin

See also:

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