June Film Music Overview
There is not a lot of music that stood out this past month as we awaited the arrival of the summer blockbusters.
There were a couple of releases of older John Williams scores to fill things out for fans. Earlier this month I reviewed his Space Camp score here. For the most part, that new Intrada release will now be the one to have for the completist. Though admittedly the previous album soundtrack that was issued a few years ago should suffice for those who want the best moments of the score. Also interesting was the release of Presumed Innocent (1990). When I saw this film at the time, I stayed to see who wrote the music. There was not really much of it in the film--about 40 minutes--and it was fairly repetitive, though with a theme that seemed to be playing (even when it actually was not!). Varese has now released the score in one of their single-disc "deluxe addition". It can be a bit more maddening than other label's limited edition releases in the sequencing of the album but for the most part it works fine. The first part of the disc lets us here the film score as it was intended to be and then there are a few of the album cues. A note also allows you to resequence things to recreate the original soundtrack release. So, if you wish to replace that earlier release with this one, it should work quite well. The score is quite engaging with a primary thematic idea that is a great hook for the score.
A host of streaming and television score releases also appeared over the past month. Dave Porter's work on Better Call Saul is quite engaging and a second volume of music from the series is now available digitally. Channeling Mark Snow a bit with some ambient writing and Zimmer-esque string churning, Johann Soderqvist provides an interesting backdrop to the Neflix series Anatomy of a Scandal. For those interested in the genre, it can be a companion to the Williams' thriller approach mentioned above. On the more experimental side of things, Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurianns provide a very eclectic score for the Amazon series Outer Range. I'm not sure it is much to get excited about as a listen as it sounds like they are just trying a lot of different ideas to see what sticks. Russell Davies takes us on an atmospheric '80s vibe for the BBC series The Watch (loosely based on a Terry Pratchett book series). He crafts a pretty strong main title and then things move into a variety of electronic looping and mesmerizing rock vibes that some may find attractive. Perhaps the best of this batch of downloadable TV music is for The Split which features an excellent score by Evan Jolly. There are some really beautiful harmonic moments that wrap around interesting themes as well.
I didn't get a chance to see the much-talked-about film Everything Everywhere All At Once. The lengthy downloadable soundtrack by Son Lux will be of interest to fans of urban, Hip-Hop, club, and and electronica. The material here moves us from techno to the sort of electronic pop influences with some additional Asian inflections. Thematic ideas float about a host of good emotional bursts and propulsive energy. It won't be for everyone of course (and from the folks I talked to who had seen the film the music apparently did not really stand out to them) and this sometimes feels like one of those "inspired by" scores.
Finally there were some off-the-radar scores that were sent for review that are mostly on streaming platforms. If you enjoy those Brazilian-tinged jazz albums of the 1960s you will certainly want to track down Luis Guerra's score for 18 1/2. The 2021 comedy-thriller is set in 1974 and is about the "missing" gap from the Watergate tapes. There are some songs and mostly jazzy Brazilian rhythmic ideas that make this a great guilty pleasure. On a different note, there is a quite beautiful score for a 2021 animated film about the German-Jewish artist Charlotte Solomon. Michelino Bisceglia's gorgeous little score for Charlotte feature lush writing and lyrical themes that are offset by an appropriate dark menace. It is really worth tracking down. Finally, with a blend of ambient material and repeated mesmerizing loops, Gayla Bisengalieva crafts an interesting backdrop to the Netflix documentary Hold Your Breath.
There's a bit of new film music to add to your radar. I saw this week that Intrada has now taken another run at James Horner's Star Trek III score which might be of interest. They are also in the midst of another Kickstarter campaign to record some Bernard Herrmann. Mid-June they announced a new expanded release of Jerry Goldsmith's little score for the 1993 film Matinee. Worth adding to one's radar for fans of 1990s scores even if it is not one of the composer's most compelling works. Still, Jerry at his worst is always more engaging than most new music.