CD Review: 2011’s Best Soundtracks: The Runners-Up and Composers to Watch

SUPER 8 soundtrack | ©2011 Varese Sarabande Records

It was hard to whittle down the year’s best scores to ten top picks, let alone ten runners-up. Here are the best of a close batch of scores that are far more than second-runs, followed up by the budding composers to watch. ALBERT NOBBS (Brian Byrne /, Varese Sarabande) Irish composer Brian Byrne takes up residence in 19th century Dublin for the upstairs/ downstairs cross-dressing-by-necessity of “Albert Nobbs.” While there’s a sprightly, Gaelic-accented classical sound to the happy-go-lucky strings and harpsichord that propels this not-so proper man of the hotel about, Byrne gradually looks behind the confident veneer to discover […]Read On »

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CD Review: DIRTY GIRL soundtrack

DIRTY GIRL soundtrack | ©2011 Lakeshore Records

It’s been a long time since the glory song-soundtrack days of FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and THE BREAKFAST CLUB, LP’s so full of instantly great, eternally listenable FM hits that you were guaranteed to wear their vinyl out. Set in 1987 DIRTY GIRL has that awesome pop-rock flashback power, with an accent on Grlll Power that makes its heroine anything but a hussy. With Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn” standing for the boring Oklahoma digs she flees from in search of her biological dad in Fresno, DIRTY GIRL brings on a fun road trip with the proto-punk likes of Bow […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE CORE soundtrack

THE CORE soundtrack | ©2011 Intrada Records

If it’s going to be the end of our globe as we know it, leave it to Christopher Young to be damn sure to try and save it with a big bang instead of a whimper for THE CORE. After doing many ferocious scores about the depths of hell, Young actually got to go to the pseudo-scientific thing with this journey to the musically raging center of the Earth, its hugely entertaining disaster-movie mission to re-ignite of our planet’s very CORE. Sensing the monumental burrowing task at hand, Young responded with more notes than a Mahler symphony for what stands […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE SKIN I LIVE IN soundtrack

THE SKIN I LIVE IN soundtrack | ©2011 Quartet Records

Pedro Almodovar has a long history of making skewed “womens’” pictures, where sensuality and perversity are one and the same. Yet one major reason why so many of them are regarded as class instead of camp are the very serious musical contributions of fellow Spaniard Alberto Iglesias, whose intriguing, and refined melodic sensibilities for the likes of BAD EDUCATION, VOLVER and TALK TO HER create both an elegant, and psychologically penetrative elegance to fit Almodovar’s glossy imagery. Now with THE SKIN I LIVE IN (aka LA PIEL QUE HABITO), Iglesias takes Almodovar’s bent sensibility to a whole new level of […]Read On »

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CD Review: THE BLACK HOLE soundtrack

THE BLACK HOLE soundtrack | ©2011 Intrada Records

Where Disney turned to Jules Verne for their trailblazing sci-fi magnum opus in 1953 with 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, THE BLACK HOLE sought to tap into the renewed space craze brought on by George Lucas’ STAR WARS. But instead of battling starships, the big difference here was that laser blasts, rolling meteors and robotic mayhem would mostly occur within the awe-striking confines of one mighty spaceship named the U.S.S. Cygnus. Piloting it far less sympathetically than Captain Nemo (if not without a unhinged commanding presence) is Dr. Hans Reinhardt (played with always-eccentric élan by Maximillian Schell), who gives no […]Read On »

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CD Review: YOUNG GUNS 2 soundtrack

YOUNG GUNS 2 soundtrack | ©2011 Intrada Records

Hollywood’s revisionist youthquake movement really hit dead center when a “Brat Pack” gang headed by Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Philips took up the mantle of Billy the Kid and his regulators for 1988’s YOUNG GUNS. Their new blood helped energize a genre that was rapidly gathering tumbleweeds, the charismatic cast’s rock and roll energy blasting onto the screen with a memorable electric guitar theme by Anthony Marianelli (his score replacing a gunned-down James Horner’s). Where the rest of Marianelli’s effective synth-based score took a relatively subtle approach to the action, Alan Silvestri would bring his pistols packing […]Read On »

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CD Review: PARASOMNIA soundtrack

PARASOMNIA soundtrack | © 2011 Buysoundtrax

Director William Malone gave the somnambulist thrills of THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI a slasher spin for his horror flick PARASOMNIA, his imagination especially inspired for its German expressionist dream sequences. But perhaps PARASOMNIA’s most bizarrely remarkable contribution is its surrealistic score by Nicholas Pike, who’s previously conjured musical nightmares for SLEEPWALKERS, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS and LOVE OBJECT (let alone BUD THE CHUD). His own partnership with Malone has been no les fearfully fruitful with credits including FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, MASTERS OF HORROR and FEARdotCOM– a score whose nerve-jangling creepiness stands as a piker when […]Read On »

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CD Review: SOCOM 4 soundtrack (2,000 limited edition)

SOCOM 4 soundtrack | ©2011 La La Land Records

The percussion-filled musical worlds of TV’s revamped BATTLESTAR GALACTICA might have flown into the sun, but the thrumming echoes that made Bear McCreary’s scores so distinctive can be heard very loud and clear in his videogame soundtrack to SOCOM 4. For his second entry into console music after the impressive orchestral rocketeering of DARK VOID, McCreary takes on the more down-to-earth (if still more than a bit superhuman) adventures a U.S. Navy Seal team, this time blasting away for the flag in Korean territory. Having brilliantly brought incongruous bagpipes and Asian gamelans to outer space, McCreary’s shown he knows how […]Read On »

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CD Review: RED FACTION: ARMAGEDDON soundtrack

RED FACTION: ARMAGEDDON soundtrack | ©2011 Red Faction

Of all the alt. tech composers who are giving sonic flesh to the ghosts in their machines, Brian Reitzell is certainly one of the most intriguing. Shaping guitars to the dusty football plains of Texas in FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS or mutating their chords into the terrifying mayhem of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, Reitzell has also heard the existential funk of STRANGER THAN FICTION before finding fairy tale eeriness in the MTV generation reboot of RED RIDING HOOD. If Reitzell’s interests have often pushed the boundaries between sound design and music, they now reach surreal meltdown with the videogame soundtrack to […]Read On »

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CD review: THE BLOB original soundtrack (2,000 edition)

THE BLOB original soundtrack | ©2011 La La Land Records

Ahhh, to be back in the synth-driven days of horror scoring, especially covered in red, keyboard goo, voices, dark strings and feverish percussion that accompanies the 1988 BLOB– all placed into an undulating musical mass by Michael Hoenig. Having played with Tangerine Dream, Hoenig’s first synth credit was gracing GALAXY OF TERROR before establishing his own composing chops on such genre cult favorites as MAX HEADROOM, THE WRAITH, THE GATE and I, MADMAN. While THE BLOB’s music seems to be all effectively shapeless stings dribbling tones, and militarism for the true government bio-villains, Hoenig’s score really kicks into gear during […]Read On »

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