Tag Archives: Tom Holkenborg

Soundtrack Review: Army of the Dead (2021)

Milan Records has released Army of the Dead (Music From the Netflix Film) by multi-platinum producer, musician, composer and educator Tom Holkenborg aka JUNKIE XL.  

Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Holkenborg for director Zack Snyder’s zombie heist film.  The project is the latest in a longstanding creative partnership between Snyder and Holkenborg, who most recently collaborated on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but started their relationship in 2014 with the Snyder-written and produced 300: Rise Of An Empire. The duo have also worked together on Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  2021 has already been a major year for Holkenborg, whose epic score for Zack Snyder’s Justice League was one of the longest ever recorded, and was swiftly followed by him scoring the record-breaking Godzilla vs Kong blockbuster.  Army of the Dead is now available to watch in select theaters and to stream on Netflix. 

Of the soundtrack, composer Tom Holkenborg says:

“A zombie heist movie in Vegas with Zack and Netflix, how could I say no? Army of the Dead was a chance to start something very new and fresh, which is certainly ironic for a movie about the undead! It was such a fun project as we got to rip up the rule book, and really re-examine what a zombie movie could sound like. It’s a LOT of fun!”

From filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Zack Snyder’s Justice League), Army of the Dead takes place following a zombie outbreak that has left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world. When Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a former zombie war hero who’s now flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town he now calls home, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), it’s with the ultimate proposition: break into the zombie-infested quarantine zone to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault beneath the strip before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours. With little left to lose, Ward takes on the challenge, assembling a ragtag team of experts for the heist. With a ticking clock, a notoriously impenetrable vault, and a smarter, faster horde of Alpha zombies closing in, only one thing’s for certain in the greatest heist ever attempted: survivors take all.

Now while I found the film itself to be quite underwhelming, I was still willing to give the soundtrack on its own a chance. However I really should have known better because the soundtrack for Army of the Dead did absolutely nothing for me. Except for one moment in ‘Not Here’ where I like how the music comes together, the soundtrack for Army of the Dead is dull, dead, downright boring, and so on. The biggest crime of them all is how boring most of this music is. I’ve said many times that it’s hard to screw film music up, and in a zombie heist film, the process should be fairly simple: all you need is an action-y score to back up what’s happening on the screen.

Um, clearly someone missed that idea because most of this soundtrack does the complete opposite. Most of this music is ploddingly slow and thoughtful which is not what you need for a zombie heist film. I get that Holkenborg wanted to re-examine what a zombie movie sounds like but….they’re really not supposed to sound like this. Put more simply: if the music in a film soundtrack bores me, then something has gone terribly wrong.

I can now definitely chalk up Army of the Dead as one of my biggest disappointments of the year, because not only was the film bad, but the soundtrack is equally as bad. Though, as I mentioned before, there is the one bright spot of ‘Not Here.’ In THAT track at least, I like how the music crashes together in a rising crescendo that, if it takes place in the moment I think it does, is the one moment in the film where music and picture work together perfectly.

In good conscience, I can’t recommend the Army of the Dead soundtrack, but if you check it out and happen to like it, then I am happy for you. For me personally, it doesn’t work and is one of the worst soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time.

ARMY OF THE DEAD (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX FILM)

TRACKLISTING –

  1. Viva Las Vegas
  2. Scott and Kate Part 1
  3. Scott and Kate Part 2
  4. Scott and Kate Part 3
  5. Toten Hosen
  6. Swimming Pool
  7. Not Here
  8. 3 Flares
  9. Battle Hallway Part 1
  10. Battle Hallway Part 2
  11. Zeus and Athena Part 1
  12. Zeus and Athena Part 2

Let me know what you think about Army of the Dead and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Army of the Dead (2021)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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

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Soundtrack News: ‘Army of the Dead’ Soundtrack Releasing 5/21

Milan Records announced the May 21 release of Army of the Dead (Music from the Netflix Film) by multi-platinum producer, musician, composer and educator Tom Holkenborg aka JUNKIE XL. Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, is a Grammy nominated multi-platinum producer, musician, composer and educator whose versatility puts him on the cutting edge of contemporary music, and whose thirst for innovation is helping to reimagine the world of composition.

  Available for preorder now, the album features music written by Holkenborg for director Zack Snyder’s upcoming zombie heist film.  The project is the latest in a longstanding creative partnership between Snyder and Holkenborg, who most recently collaborated on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but started their relationship in 2014 with the Snyder-written and produced 300: Rise Of An Empire.

Of the soundtrack, composer Tom Holkenborg had the following to say:

“A zombie heist movie in Vegas with Zack and Netflix, how could I say no? Army of the Dead was a chance to start something very new and fresh, which is certainly ironic for a movie about the undead! It was such a fun project as we got to rip up the rule book, and really re-examine what a zombie movie could sound like. It’s a LOT of fun!”

From filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Zack Snyder’s Justice League), Army of the Dead takes place following a zombie outbreak that has left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world. When Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a former zombie war hero who’s now flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town he now calls home, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), it’s with the ultimate proposition: break into the zombie-infested quarantine zone to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault beneath the strip before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours. With little left to lose, Ward takes on the challenge, assembling a ragtag team of experts for the heist. With a ticking clock, a notoriously impenetrable vault, and a smarter, faster horde of Alpha zombies closing in, only one thing’s for certain in the greatest heist ever attempted: survivors take all.

Track List

1. Viva Las Vegas – Richard Cheese & Allison Crowe (5:55)
2. Scott and Kate Part 1 (5:24)
3. Scott and Kate Part 2 (2:49)
4. Scott and Kate Part 3 (4:42)
5. Toten Hosen (3:56)
6. Swimming Pool (1:05)
7. Not Here (1:50)
8. 3 Flares (4:42)
9. Battle Hallway Part 1 (4:00)
10. Battle Hallway Part 2 (6:41)
11. Zeus and Athena Part 1 (3:17)
12. Zeus and Athena Part 2 (4:14)

Be sure to pick up the soundtrack for Army of the Dead when it becomes available on May 21, 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 

Soundtrack Review: White Lines (2020)

I got the opportunity to check out the recently released soundtrack for the Netflix Original Series White Lines, with music composed by Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL). The series follows Zoe Walker (Laura Haddock), a young woman who travels to Ibiza after the body of her brother turns up…20 years after he vanished. The 10-episode premiered on Netflix on May 15, 2020.

Tom’s film scoring credits have grossed over $2 billion at the box office and include Mad Max: Fury RoadDeadpoolBlack MassAlita Battle AngelDivergentBrimstoneThe Dark TowerTomb RaiderTerminator: Dark Fate and most recently the record setting Sonic the Hedgehog. He has worked with directors including Peter Jackson, Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron, George Miller, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder and Tim Miller among many others.

Tom is able to draw on his extensive knowledge of classical forms and structures while keeping one finger planted firmly on the pulse of popular music. When this eclectic background is paired with his skill as a multi-instrumentalist (he plays keyboards, guitar, drums, violin, and bass and describes himself as a ‘full contact composer’) and a mastery of studio technology, a portrait emerges of an artist for whom anything is possible.

Of the soundtrack, Tom Holkenborg says:

“It was a delight to dive back into my electronic roots and revisit some amazing Ibiza memories when creating the score for White Lines. Though much of the music I made is not club focused, as they licensed a lot of original tracks from the late ‘90s and early 2000s, I think my work was able to capture some of the magic that makes club culture and the island so special. It was a really fun personal project to work on and I hope people love the series.”

There is, for sure, a sense of the club life to be found in Holkenborg’s music for White Lines. The electronic synthesizer at times creates a vague sense of dancing music. Not surprisingly, “In the Club” was one such track that reminded me of dancing and being in the club environment. Other times, to be honest, the synthesizer felt like a throwback to the 80s, at least that’s what it reminded me of. I was fascinated by how Holkenborg wove the music together, one moment it sounds like something from 30-40 years ago, in the next instant it’s a regular piece of music that twists and turns as it moves along.

Actually it surprised me just how slow and thoughtful the music for White Lines could be. Given the setting is in Ibiza, a place known for its party atmosphere, a lot of the music sounded like the complete opposite of that kind of environment. Perhaps that’s because the series is looking past the glitzy club-atmosphere to the reality that can exist in a place like Ibiza. That would certainly explain the semi-serious nature of most of the soundtrack. One of my favorite pieces in this vein is “Missing You”, it combines the piano with the synthesizer and the melody just aches with raw emotion at times.

Listening to the music for White Lines reminded me, yet again, that one should never pre-judge a soundtrack by the premise of the show or movie that it’s attached to. White Lines might not be everyone’s cup of tea for a story, but there’s no denying that some beautiful music has been created for this show. Hopefully my brief thoughts will persuade you to check the soundtrack out sometime in the future.

WHITE LINES (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES)
TRACKLISTING –
1. Zoe’s Arrival
2. Times Gone By
3. Darker Night
4. Missing You
5. On The Road
6. Ibiza Bar
7. I’m Happy for You
8. Live Life
9. Manchester Life
10. In The Club
11. Boxer
12. It Was Ours
13. Infinity
14. The Past
15. Repercussions
16. Romance
17. Retrace The Path
18. My Goddess
19. New Day
20. Discoveries
21. Accident
22. Closure
23. Diving for Prizes
24. Family Troubles
25. Memories
26. Zoe

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

See also:

TV Soundtracks

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

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Soundtrack News: ‘White Lines’ Soundtrack from Tom Holkenborg Available May 15th

Milan Records has announced that the official soundtrack for White Lines, the Netflix original series, will be released on May 15, 2020. The album features music written by Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL). White Lines follows a young woman navigating the island of Ibiza in the wake of her brother’s mysterious death.

Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, is a Grammy® nominated multi-platinum producer, musician, composer and educator whose versatility puts him on the cutting edge of contemporary music, as well at the vanguard of exciting new film composers. Tom’s film scoring credits have grossed over $2 billion at the box office and include Mad Max: Fury Road, Deadpool, Black Mass, Alita Battle Angel, Divergent, Brimstone, The Dark Tower, Tomb Raider, Terminator: Dark Fate and most recently the record setting Sonic the Hedgehog. He has worked with directors including Peter Jackson, Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron, George Miller, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder and Tim Miller among many others.

Of the soundtrack, Tom Holkenborg says:

“It was a delight to dive back into my electronic roots and revisit some amazing Ibiza memories when creating the score for White Lines. Though much of the music I made is not club focused, as they licensed a lot of original tracks from the late ‘90s and early 2000s, I think my work was able to capture some of the magic that makes club culture and the island so special. It was a really fun personal project to work on and I hope people love the series.”

The synopsis for White Lines is below:

When the body of a legendary Manchester DJ is discovered twenty years after his mysterious disappearance from Ibiza, his sister returns to the beautiful Spanish island to find out what happened. Her investigation will lead her through a thrilling world of dance music, super yachts, lies and cover-ups, forcing her to confront the darker sides of her own character in a place where people live life on the edge.

WHITE LINES (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES)

TRACKLISTING –

  1. Zoe’s Arrival
  2. Times Gone By
  3. Darker Night
  4. Missing You
  5. On The Road
  6. Ibiza Bar
  7. I’m Happy for You
  8. Live Life
  9. Manchester Life
  10. In The Club
  11. Boxer
  12. It Was Ours
  13. Infinity
  14. The Past
  15. Repercussions
  16. Romance
  17. Retrace The Path
  18. My Goddess
  19. New Day
  20. Discoveries
  21. Accident
  22. Closure
  23. Diving for Prizes
  24. Family Troubles
  25. Memories
  26. Zoe

The soundtrack for White Lines will be available the same day the series premieres, on May 15, 2020.

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 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

We’re over halfway through 2019 and Alita: Battle Angel still remains one of the best films I’ve seen this year, and it’s soundtrack is firmly in my top 5 for the year as well. If you didn’t have the chance to see the film in theaters, Alita: Battle Angel hits Blu-Ray/DVD on July 23rd, and I highly recommend picking it up. However, the soundtrack has been available for quite some time and that’s what I’m going to be reviewing for you today.

The soundtrack for Alita: Battle Angel was composed by Tom Holkenborg (otherwise known as Junkie XL), and as I said before, it is by far one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard this year. Regarding the soundtrack, Holkenborg had this to say:

“…it was very important to feel the heart of the film. Movies like this about a dystopian future with monsters, robots, action figures might fall too quickly into something very electronic in nature or very noisy. And it was very important because of the music we stay with Alita the main character throughout the movie. It was very important that it was a pretty, soaring melody that could be easily bent into something emotional, but also into something positive and heroic. She is a person who is constantly wondering what is out there, and that is very important in the music and the instrumentation. And because she is a CGI character with motion capture from [Rosa Salazar], it was very important that it feel very organic. That’s why for her I went for very organic instrumentation, a flute or a clarinet or strings or a Glockenspiel. It needed to feel organic and natural.”

(full credit to Nerdist.com for this interview with Tom Holkenborg)

 

The soundtrack for Alita: Battle Angel does indeed feel very organic and natural, which surprised me when I listened to the soundtrack without any distractions from the film (which can cover over many musical details). It really doesn’t sound like the music for a film set centuries in the future, in a world populated by cyborgs, but I agree that this is a good thing. After all, at her core, Alita is a human (remember her brain is very much real), and the music should reflect her humanity in a world where this quality is in increasingly short supply.

The soundtrack is full of traditional action beats, as you might expect, but the actual spectrum of emotions covered by the music is quite large. There’s triumph and challenge in “Raising the Sword” (the music that ends the film before the credits start), despair in “In the Clouds,” and mystery in “Double Identity,” just to name a few examples.

Holkenborg crafts the music in a way that keeps you engaged and grounded in the story. I agree with what he says in the interview; it would have been far too easy to create a generic sci-fi electronic score for Alita: Battle Angel. While it would have been the expected thing to do, I also think it would have ruined the film as a whole.

I highly recommend checking out the soundtrack for Alita: Battle Angel, it’s a beautiful piece of work, and it can keep you occupied until the film hits Blu-Ray/DVD next month. Hopefully we’ll get to hear Holkenborg work on the score to a sequel film, since he’s established some character themes that I would like to see expanded.

Let me know what you think about Alita: Battle Angel and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

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)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Tomb Raider (2018)

Tomb Raider is a 2018 action-adventure film directed by Roar Uthaug and is based on the 2013 video game of the same name. This film officially reboots the Tomb Raider film series and stars Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Man from UNCLE) as Lara Croft while she journeys to the last-known location of her father, a mysterious island in the “devil’s sea.”

The score for Tomb Raider was composed by Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, who is a Grammy® nominated and multi-platinum producer, musician, and composer whose versatility puts him on the cutting edge of contemporary music, as well at the vanguard of exciting new film composers. His film scoring credits include Mad Max Fury Road, Deadpool, Black Mass, Divergent, Brimstone and The Dark Tower. Tom says about the soundtrack: “We spend a lot of time on the ‘island‘ in the movie. It is otherworldly and wild, and I wanted to get people out of their comfort zones with some eerie crescendo moments. I spent months having custom pacific drums built, which I played myself to create insane adrenaline inducing rhythms. I also distorted our orchestral recordings, which yielded some unsettling qualities within the score.

The soundtrack is typical action-adventure fare, though this isn’t a bad thing as it makes for good listening. “Return to Croft Manor” is a traditional, orchestral introduction to the soundtrack with a repeating theme that overlaps and recurs throughout. The early pieces in the score are refined and somewhat elegant, rather fitting with the film’s opening set in London. Once the story moves to the island of Yamatai however, the music becomes very wild and unruly indeed.

“The Devil’s Sea” perfectly encapsulates the nightmarish behavior of the waters surrounding Yamatai. The music twists, turns, and practically writhes in contortions of agony that keep you on the edge of your seat. This is by far my favorite piece in the soundtrack.

“What Lies Underneath Yamatai” has traces of mystery in it, but largely consists of synthesized tones (accented by strings) that rise and fall in the same way you’ve heard in a dozen action films when the hero/heroine gets close to their objective.

In conclusion, the soundtrack doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table, but it is good listening, which is never a bad thing.
What do you think of the soundtrack for Tomb Raider? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

You can 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 🙂