CD Review: MILLION DOLLAR ARM soundtrack

MILLION DOLLAR ARM soundtrack | ©2014 Walt Disney Records

When A.R. Rahman first gained Oscar-winning attention in the western world for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, it was as if some musical pitch hitter had arrived from nowhere, able to capture the exotic rhythms of his heritage via a pop beat as fresh as any album-spinning club kid (despite the fact that this relatively youthful composer-producer had been updating ancient Indian beats for quite some time). It’s a situation that couldn’t have made Rahman a better composer to play the sweet culture clash of a bunch of cricket players from the continent being potentially thrust into major league baseball for this Disney […]Read On »

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CD Review: MY NIKIFOR soundtrack

MY NIKIFOR soundtrack | ©2014 Movie Score Media

If you enjoyed the eccentric cimbalom approach of THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL  then you’ll likely want to take a musical room in the addled, artistic mind of this Polish painter. For the stay proves a real, whimsical delight, as heard through composing concierge Bartek Gliniak. Having gotten recognition in his native Poland, this talented musical artist now gets some international soundtrack exposure with the release of his work for this award-winning 2004 film. Embodying a disabled, yet visionary painter who could barely communicate, Gliniak comes up with a memorable, waltzing theme that’s expresses itself through both wry humor and emotion […]Read On »

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CD Review: SHIVER soundtrack

SHIVER soundtrack | ©2014 Intrada Records

RE-ANIMATOR‘s Richard Band really got put on the horror map with his big thing for decapitated noggins, which tells you all you need to know about how he ended up in the company of SHIVER‘s headhunting serial killer. Gone is any of that aforementioned film’s Herrmann-esque comedy for this straight-up thriller, to which Band contributes a grimly exciting score. Where budgetary necessity has resulted in many such low-budget horror movies employing a sampled orchestra, Band has certainly turned that sound into a charm that signifies he’s in the eerie house. Twisted bell percussion blends with efficiently emulated strings to give […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE SIGNAL soundtrack

THE SIGNAL soundtrack | ©2014 Varese Sarabande Records

While I’m dying to hear (let alone see) what composer Nima Fakhrara did for Japan’s live action version of GATCHAMAN (aka BATTLE OF THE PLANETS), I can only imagine that it must have caught the attention of THE SIGNAL – with the result being an eerily pulsing sci-fi score with a strong electric undercurrent. In this paranoid tale, three college students get far worse than they bargained for while chasing down a hacker. As they’re propelled into a sterile, claustrophobic nightmare of mad science where things gone from bad to mind and body-bendingly worse, Fakhara’s score tunes strongly into the […]Read On »

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CD Review: HEMLOCK GROVE soundtrack

HEMLOCK GROVE soundtrack | ©2013 Varese Sarabande Records

While he’s more than shown his blunt orchestral adeptness with the shrieking torture-horror scores for his two unsettling stays in the European HOSTEL,Nathan Barr is a composer who’s most unsettling creative talents lie at home in rustic America. The vampire bayou of TRUE BLOOD has made him the horror-scoring equivalent of Flannery O’Connor, creating music whose dulcimers and stings enticingly reek of Southern gothic black magic. Even when Barr packs up and travels to the imaginary Pennsylvania town of HEMLOCK GROVE, it’s still hard to take the country-sounding horror out of the boy.HOSTEL creator Eli Roth has given this Netflix […]Read On »

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CD Review: PRISONERS soundtrack

PRISONERS soundtrack | ©2013 WaterTower Music

It’s particularly cool when Hollywood takes a chance on foreign talent, whether it lies across the cold Canadian border with Quebec director Denis Villeneuve, or in Iceland itself in the hiring of composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. This artistic gamble that yields depressively mesmerizing results as two sets of parents cross the moral, and legal boundaries to find their kidnapped children. The results of PRISONERS are sure to entail plenty of church confessional time for them, hence the “holy minimalism” approach taken by Jóhannsson. His PRISONERS is certainly one of the more interesting scores to appear since Johnny Greenwood’s brilliantly bizarre THERE […]Read On »

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CD Review: AT ANY PRICE soundtrack

AT ANY PRICE soundtrack | ©2013 Milan Records

Another spellbinding rocker who found himself in the heartland, Dickon Hinchliffe saw his band Tindersticks turn their alt sound to such uniquely percussive works as NENETTE AND BONI and TROUBLE EVERY DAY, all before going solo with such distinctive works that embodied everything from cold-blooded murder in the first “Red Riding” mystery to sweetly accessible romance in LAST CHANCE HARVEY and the sympathetic soul of an abused ape in PROJECT NIMH. Yet this Englishman seems to be best at home in the acoustic badlands of WINTER’S BONE, RAMPART and THE TEXAS KILLING FIELDS. Though Hinchliffe’s approach is often spare, it […]Read On »

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CD Review: ONLY GOD FORGIVES soundtrack

ONLY GOD FORGIVES soundtrack | ©2013 Milan Records

Most times, a composer’s job is to support the emotions of an actor’s performance, not become the performance. But where any other musician might be condemned for overstepping the boundaries of good taste, Cliff Martinez deserves a medal for brilliantly providing just about the only humanity for Nicolas Winding Refn’s lavish exercise in artsy sadism with ONLY GOD FORGIVES. Far more in the realm of the filmmaker’s FEAR X  than his infinitely more accessible DRIVE, Refn’s bitch slap of unending, beyond-explicit revenge is actually more of a fight club for staring. Given endless stretches of unblinking silence in between its […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE LAST OF US soundtrack

THE LAST OF US soundtrack | ©2013 Sony Music

When it comes to video game scoring, it’s often the bigger, the better. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when the composer is mostly trying to make an impression amidst shattering spaceships, cannon-blasting world wars, dragon-slaying sword battles and zombie holocausts. Though THE LAST OF US deals with the latter, it’s on a far more human scale that’s ennobled a strikingly stripped-down score from Gustavo Santaolalla that just might be the least amount of “music” ever done for the genre. But then, having Naughty Dog hire the Oscar winning composer of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and BABEL to do to a […]Read On »

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CD Review: GLADIATOR soundtrack

GLADIATOR soundtrack | ©2013 Intrada Records

Jerry Goldsmith was arguably the greatest composer to hit Hollywood. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t capable of producing delightful cheese as much as he was a true masterworks. Case in point is his score for 1992’s GLADIATOR, an inner city boxing melodrama long forgotten in the wake of the Russell Crowe picture whose stakes were life and death. In this case, it was a TKO for Goldsmith when ROADHOUSE director Rowdy Herrington kicked his score to the curb in favor of Brad Fiedel, a composer whose electronic abilities were likely more “with it” than the veteran musical fighter. Yet […]Read On »

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