Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Past Spotlight-The Fighter Score Review

Hello! After listening to The Fighter score, by Michael Brook, I felt the overwhelming urge to write about it! Note to all, this is not a really indepth review, it's simply a highlights and general consensus kind of thing.

The Fighter is done by Michael Brook. The film is about Micky Ward, a boxer, and a small part of his life. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams, and it has to be said that this is one of my favourite films of all time. It's hearty, gut wrenching and gritty and it'll be stuck in your head for days on end! The score, on the other hand, is not so memorable. There are very few highlights throughout the score, and Michael Brook doesn't try to do anything extraordinary. It reminds me, at parts, of the Prisoners score, done by Johann Johannsson, one of my least favourite scores of the year. It's bleak, dull and uninteresting, to my utter disappointment. Brook doesn't try much, and it makes the score quite unmemorable. This score is great for ambient noise, or just some basic music in the background whilst you're doing something else. You shouldn't pay too much attention to this score, or you'll just enrage yourself!

Brook tries to create a very atmospheric score, one that reflects the time period in which the film takes place in. Despite his ambitions, the score falls flat multiple times. There are a few highlights, when the music turns quirky or develops into a proper rhythm, yet these still seem almost irritating. It's a slightly jazzy score, I'll give Brook that, but I'd say even that's a stretch. The score isn't really worthy of a listen, to be honest.

Why did I do this review? Simply so I could beat this score down, because it had irritated me for 26 minutes too long! The music does work well with the film, I'll admit this, but in it's own context, it should be avoided at all costs. Brook doesn't bring anything fresh or vibrant to the table, and the score doesn't keep your interest almost the entire way through. The bottom line is that this is a poor score and achieves next to nothing.

Ladies Day Out
Ward Vs. Neary

Junkie Score: 46.23

There will be more of these in the future, to all those interested! 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Thor: The Dark World Score Review

Hello again! The new film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World, has hit our theaters! Thor: The Dark World stars Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, and has Thor pitted again a incredibly strong and powerful adversary, once again. The score is composed by the wonderful Brian Tyler, and this is his second Marvel film this year, Iron Man 3 being his first. He's had a killer year, Tyler has! Iron Man 3 was a solid score, and Far Cry 3 was interesting, to say the least. But Assassin's Creed IV, by god, stole the bloody show for me! Tyler has me on as a fan, and I'm interested to see what he can do for this film. The score is 26 tracks long, and lasts for an hour and 17 minutes. Let's jump into it!

We start off with ascension for the theme, Thor: The Dark World. It's an awesome theme, very heroic sounding, yet a little unoriginal. The brass make great work. It has very few dark moments, and never ceases to feel old. It has an almost emotional ending, which has to be a real big highlight for me. Lokasenna showcases some incredible vocals, and drums and brass add bucket loads to the atmosphere. It slowly builds in volume and power, and it's quite beautiful. It's a MARVEL worthy piece, pardon the pun! It ends in a graceful manner, slightly overstaying its welcome, unfortunately. Asgard has a little more aggression and speed to start with, and has a very big emphasis on some amazing brass. Tyler knows how to work all angles of his orchestra, which is something I've come to appreciate the more I listen to him. So much is going on, yet it's so easy to listen to. The main set hits towards the end, and it's quite brilliant. The ending is an awesome send off, and catches you off guard twice! Damned Tyler, you gave me a jump!

Battle Of Vanaheim is a battle worthy piece, and really starts off with a powerful bang. It's short but efficient running time is good enough for this kind of piece, and leaves it enough time to go places. The theme comes from nowhere around the halfway point, and it's a nice addition to a solid piece. Origins starts off darker than any of our previous pieces, and various sets appear here and there, all of various levels of power and aggression. The percussion plays a vital piece in this piece, and Tyler knows how to work them well. Origins has a wonderful theme to it, and it plays with severe intensity for around half a minute, in and around the 2:00 minute mark. Tyler delivers a wonderful set towards the end, showcasing the theme once again, just before the ending. The Trial Of Loki has an almost mischievous air towards it, which is a big contrast to the powerful and brass based pieces we've been put to hearing over the past minutes. It's certainly darker and more uncertain than anything we've heard as of this far. Strings are put to great use in this piece, and play a huge part in making such an atmospheric and chilling piece. A certain stand out!

Into Eternity starts like Lokasenna; vocally based. It's a bit darker than before though, to begin with at least. The theme pops up again, and creates an emotional atmosphere, before drifting away multiple times. It's a very heroic piece, in contrast to our previous piece. It ends on a climactic note, and sends you off with some incredible violins chords. Escaping The Realm starts with speed and intensity, and it's constant beat and rhythm set up a very fast paced piece. Urgency is a key theme throughout this piece, with strings and percussion hammering away at an uncertain but speedy pace. A dangerous set turns up, to mix it up a little. It's more brass based than the rest of the piece has been, and it's always fun to hear Tyler play with his brass section. The ending offers nothing worthy of admiration, which is disappointing for such an interesting and wonderful piece. A Universe From Nothing has a delicate sound to it, to begin with. It reminds me of his Assassin's Creed IV score. Very smooth and timid, in a sense. It's interesting to listen to, but not exactly enjoyable. It offers, but never really gives, if that makes any sense!

Untouchable is one of the longer piece in the score, and Tyler has a lot of volume and speed changes in store! He never seems too certain on one constant rhythm. It's more like a montage of beats and sets, than a whole, singular piece. It builds multiple times to climaxes which are often not very satisfying. Yet, despite all this, it's still hosts a variety of wonderfully powerful and intense sets. Thor, Son Of Odin is the piece that's meant to represent Thor himself, and it does so fairly well. The piece is soft to begin with, before building and delivering the theme with an infectious percussion riff in the background. Tyler reinforces the theme, with a higher volume change and a stronger vocal riff. A good theme for Thor, I'd say. Shadows Of Loki feels like it should be at the end of a score, to be honest. It feels like a sending off piece. It's bright and inspiring. That's until we reach the halfway point. Then it becomes a dark and plotting kind of piece. It reminds me of The Dark Knight, or various Zimmer projects, at certain points. The piece lasts half a minute too long, in my mind. Sword And Council has the same theme as we've heard numerous times. To begin with at least. It drifts off and becomes a nice and predictable piece. Tyler takes you to places you've already been throughout this score. And seeing that we're only halfway through, that is not a good thing! It's certainly not unpleasant to listen to, not in the slightest. It's just not fresh and exciting, like the early parts of the score were.

Invasion Of Asgard takes pretty much no time in warming up. It's fresh and reinvigorating, something that I've been hoping for for a little while. It's first set is powerful and aggressive, whilst it's second set has a huge emphasis on percussion. It runs the show, maybe a little too much, but none the less, it's a good change from the slow and unexciting pace that we've been running for a small while. Tyler tricks us with the ending multiple times, as he's done before in the score. It's almost getting on my nerves! Betrayal has slow beginnings, and works it's way up and down in tone and volume, but stays complex and interesting. It's filled with a constant supply of smart and mischievous riffs, and it tries to do much within it's 4:03 time span. It drags on possibly a little too long, but ends with a bang to bring me satisfaction. Journey To Asgard is slow to start with, before the theme chirps in, and we get the powerful and grand feeling that Asgard conveys. The music drops out to wonderful effect, before picking back up and returning to the beautiful set we have going on. The vocals kick in for a short while, to end us off, and they do so wonderfully. Whilst not an original piece in the context of this score, it's still a wonderful piece to listen to!

Uprising is a refreshing piece. It has more flair and danger than a lot of the pieces we've listened to recently. It builds for a majority of the piece, before letting itself blast off and do some crazy jumps. Vortex, on the other hand, reverts back to old rhythms. Tyler seems to be lacking inspiration at this stage of the game, which is disappointing. This happens to be something that's most noticeable in Tyler scores, from his Assassin's Creed IV score, to Far Cry 3. The piece doesn't seem to do much for me. It's a pleasant piece, with some straight forward rhythms. It's nothing special, to be honest. I will admit that the final half minute was a well done change in pace. An Unlikely Alliance is not at all special. It's dark, but too perfect. It's too smooth and straight forward. It lets itself pick up and create a fairly fun atmosphere, but dies down towards the ending. Convergence is a light hearted piece, something to make you feel for our hero Thor. It reminds me at moments of pieces from Howard Shore's wonderful LOTR: Return Of The King score, chirpy but with undertones of darkness waiting to pounce. It's more unpredictable than some of the more recent pieces, and it's faster and more exciting, which is a much needed change. Tyler keeps the brass working to it's absolute limits, and to great effect! It ascends slowly, to much dramatic effect, and ends on some powerful blasting. A definite turn around for the score, luckily.

Beginning Of The End is the scores longest piece, clocking in at a total of 5:22 minutes. It keeps to basic rhythms and sets to begin with, before jumping out and delivering almost horror like melody's. It reminds me of Marco Beltrami's recent Carrie score, at certain points, with the hard hitting strings strumming away to edgy and cutting sounds. It's certainly more involving and exciting than a lot of the recent pieces. Unlike a lot of the rest of the score, the whole piece works together to build to a cutting and surreal climax at the end of the piece, which is certainly more satisfying than most other pieces. Deliverance is quite heroic and inspiring to begin with. It holds one of the emotional melodies for a good while, before beginning a saddening theme, and concluding with some dark strings and vocals. Battle Between Worlds is more urgent and intense than many of our previous pieces. It certainly has the marching feel towards it, which really draws you into this battle that is obviously taking place. It jumps up and down various times, the Tyler way! It falls a little flat and uninteresting multiple times during the piece, but it picks itself up and embarks on many different routes. As The Hammer Falls has a heap of grunt to it, something that I feel a lot of the score has been missing, and a constant violin riff is enough to have my heart pumping. The theme kicks in, for one of the final times in the score, and it's truly inspiring! The pieces picks up and changes pace multiple times, before ending on a lovely and heroic tune.

Legacy is our final proper piece Tyler has to offer, and it's delicate, and has no more of the urgency and intensity that we've been subjected to for the past few pieces. It's simple, and Tyler obviously doesn't want to overdo it or introduce anything really new to the table. Our theme plays for the final time, and it sounds magnificent, to be honest. It feels like an old fashioned superhero march theme, to my delight! And it ends, and our tiny 0:31 second piece Marvel Studios Fanfare begins, and it provides us with a simple set, much like our theme. It doesn't do much for me, which is a bad way to end, in my opinion.

Tyler has provided a predictable but very enjoyable score for Thor: The Dark World. There are some huge highlights here, and some not so fantastic moments. But despite the downs, Tyler has provided an incredibly memorable score, that has a lot of infectious and inspiring pieces lying within. Tyler does overdo certain sets and themes, but keeps the majority of the score fresh and vivid, and keeps his eyes set on the prize. Every piece has a clear theme, and whilst this may make some listeners lose interest, knowing what's coming, I see it as a fantastic way of forming this world of Asgard around our ears. Great job Tyler, for providing another great score!

Thor: The Dark World
The Trial Of Loki*
Into Eternity*
As The Hammer Falls*

Individual Piece Scores:
Thor: The Dark World-96
Battle Of Vanaheim-93
The Trial Of Loki-100*
Into Eternity-100*
Escaping The Realm-92
A Universe From Nothing-86
Thor, Son Of Odin-89
Shadows Of Loki-78
Sword And Council-75
Invasion Of Asgard-91
Journey To Asgard-95
An Unlikely Alliance-72
Beginning Of The End-100
Battle Between Worlds-90
As The Hammer Falls-100*
Marvel Studios Fanfare-65

Junkie Score: 90.11

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Video Game Score Review

Hello again! Bryan Tyler has returned, once again, to the video game realm to bring us the score to one of the most anticipated games of the year, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. The game has you taking on the role of a pirate, Edward Kenway, and this gives a Tyler a huge amount of material to use to create something wonderful in the music sense! As someone who doesn't listen to many video game scores, I'm looking forward to listening to one of the best in the business.  I did manage to listen to his wonderful Far Cry 3 score, and this has me really excited! Let's jump in to this 1 hour and 43 minute long score!

We begin with Main Theme, which sounds very pirate like, as I much expected. Violins and percussion work very well with each other. It's a lot more calming yet treacherous sounding to begin with than I expected though. Tyler picks up the pace halfway through, and we get some wonderful percussion and strings! Main Theme has to be said to be one of my favourite cues of the year, in all honesty! It's intensity and adventurous feel really make it memorable! Pyrates Beware begins with a heavy reliance on the strings once again, to set a wonderful rhythm, which doesn't go down any paths you would instantaneously expect it to. The speed and beat is quite catchy and really envelops you quickly. Tyler makes every second of the 3:20 running time count, with some beautiful moments, and some hard hitting volume jumps! It's hard not to smile and tap your foot, everything sounding so infectious. The piece ends with a much slower pace, and an almost haunting feel, which sends us off well!

On The Horizon is much slower, and it's percussion is once again a pivotal part of the whole piece. It's not Zimmer intensity and power, but it comes at you with heaps of speed and purpose. Some of the sets that lie in this piece are absolutely brilliant, with an incredible amount of speed and furiousity. Controlled furiousity that is. Piano can be heard quite clearly towards the end, but we finish with some smooth violin, which sounds wonderful! The High Seas starts with speed and power, and a theme, something like out of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, hits us. It's a really fun piece, and it has you humming along a minute in. It reminds me of Italy, or some European country, before the percussion solo hits, and you have pure intensity and aggression for half a minute! The build up begins for a climax we never really get to witness, which is a disappointing way to end. Despite this, the piece as a whole is quite wonderful to listen to!

The Fortune Of Edward Kenway is a slower, haunting piece, to begin with at least. The feeling of anger is prominent throughout the piece, thanks to the heavy percussion, and low strings. The piece doesn't feel like it's going anywhere unfortunately, until the last 20 seconds or so. The ending leaves you wanting more, which must be a good sign. In This World Or The One Below starts, once again, slower and haunting. The rhythm to begin with is absolutely beautiful, and luckily continues playing for another minute or so. We return to an action kind of pace, and we again start a build up to a climax which finally delivers, with one of the most memorable sets of the past few months! And we fall back down and end the piece on a lower volume. Under The Black Flag starts with a synth-sounding note, which builds up for a short period, before erupting into a carefully composed percussion set, which forms the background riff for the next few sets after. The timing sounds so unpredictable, which is an obvious positive! The final minute alone seals the deal, and sounds so intense and chirpy, I can't help but bump my head along!

The Ends Of The Earth starts with some guitar and delivers a wonderful build up kind of rhythm and beat, and feels almost like a heavy metal song when the whole piece comes together at the half minute mark. It's slightly emotional, if I might add. But the final minute... Oh my god! It's possibly the best final minute of any piece all year! It's so beautiful, whilst delivering a little grunt and power. One word, wow! Stealing A Brig has an almost plotting sound to it. It's slow, for a while, before picking up and delivering some fast paced beats which take you by surprise! It's a little short, in my opinion, but it does suit this kind of piece.  Fare Thee Well has a raspy edge to begin with, and has a wonderful string riff in the background. I'd say it is a cello, but I wouldn't have much idea, to be honest! Fare Thee Well is the longest piece so far, sitting at 5:18, which is long enough for this kind of fast paced and intense score. It's very slow, and has a powerful piano playing away. It loses it's almost emotional tone, and replaces it for an angry and calculating themed set. Tyler takes this on for a couple of minutes before taking on a quicker pace. He drops down once again, and a variety of foreign noises can be heard. This variety in pace and aggression suits this piece well, and it makes every second of the 5:18 running time interesting. It's never dull or repetitive, which makes for a good time!

The Buccaneers sounds like something from another score to begin with. Not necessarily one that follows pirates. Something like Game of Thrones. It has a really cutting sound to it, one that stays dangerous-sounding even whilst losing volume or speed. The piece has a stop and start feeling to it, which is slightly disappointing. It takes you out of each set and riff so easily. The piece has a delicate sound to it, like we're listening to or looking at treasure. Valuable treasure. The theme to this piece isn't nearly as memorable as others before itself, which disappoints me. Marked For Death returns to the quick and angry feel that previous pieces have had placed about. It's a little shorter than it's predecessor, and this works in it's favour. Tyler has always been better at creating short pieces that get straight to the point. The pieces sounds a little raw by the end, which is a good way to end. Last Goodbyes has a mysterious sound to it, and it takes on a soothing rhythm. The timing sounds a little off to myself, which takes me out of it all. The theme of the piece lasts about 10 seconds, and it's a little exciting and leaves more to be wanted. It ends a little too quickly for my liking, but it doesn't ruin the piece at all. Take What Is Ours! is a scheming piece, and it incorporates a lot of low tone to begin with to make this clear. The violins steal the show, once again, in a show of speed and skill. The piece's main rhythm sounds very adventurous and fun, and it really lightens your spirit! I'm actually reminded of the Lord Of The Rings for some odd reason. It's funny how a simple note or two can make you think about something which has no relevance to what I'm currently listening to. The piece ends with some ship docking noises, and they really do set the scene for the next piece. It was a nice touch from Tyler's part.

I'll Be With You takes the cake for the longest piece of the score so far, at 6:07. It sounds very European, once again, and I appreciate this. The piece stays slow and mischievous for a further 2 and a half minutes. An almost classical rhythm and beat emerge, and it sounds so smooth yet jarring. For the first time in a good while, the percussion pick up again, to great effect! The strings, once again start running the show, and move from a background riff to the center piece. The treacherous feel returns as the piece carries on. Tropical sounds can be heard all throughout the piece, which really transports me to this world the game takes place in. Lay Aboard Lads doesn't really reach the heights it sets you up for, at least for the first minute or so. Tyler doesn't try to push power and volume here, and it leaves you expecting and wanting more. The piece never goes above and beyond and sticks to it's basic rhythm the whole way through. It's basically the break piece, and it doesn't do much for me. A Pirates Life sounds a little more intense than our previous piece, and it's rhythm and beat are much more entertaining. It tries to reestablish the feeling of jeopardy that we had earlier in the score. It's 2:06 running time may not be the right length for this, unfortunately. It ends a little too slow and underwhelming, but it's not bad in any sense of the word.

Men Of War has a much more unpredictable and engrossing beat to it, and the strings do well to counter the raw strength the percussion contains. The piece then lifts and increases its speed, and brings back the great power we experienced earlier in the score. It's 3:01 is a fitting run time, and it allows the piece the reach the heights I think it requires. Order Of The Assassin starts with a jagged rhythm before the violins go into full blast mode and start doing some crazy shit! There is no other way to describe it, to be honest. Tyler knows how to use strings, and make them work. The piece has some really beautiful moments and fills it's 3:14 running time with some of the best riffs of the score so far. The ending is quite like a build up that falls a little flat, but sounds awesome! In The Midst starts with a soft and compelling rhythm, and it has a very smooth and soft feeling to begin with. It picks up the tempo and volume and guitars and strings start working their magic! The piece work up and down multiple times, before finishing with a raw and powerful set.

The British Empire starts with a variety of sounds, before settling down and delivering a really beautiful melody. It breaks it up with some wonderful sets. They're not exactly memorable, but they sound nice and calming. There isn't much to be said about this piece, unfortunately. Batten Down The Hatches starts us up with some power and danger, and it's well received by myself. Some fast paced strings really set the stage, and the final 25 seconds are all filled with some intense build up, before falling flat. Modernity sounds much more modern than a lot of the rest of the score, and reminds me of The Ends Of The Earth again, with it's simple but incredibly powerful melody. The percussion in this piece sounds more like a simple drum kit, and it has a very dangerous feel to it. A Merry Life And A Short One doesn't have much time to do much, yet still Tyler includes some nice and smooth sounds. There isn't much to comment on though here, which is disappointing. Queen Anne's Revenge has some noticeable brass here, something that I've felt has been missing the entire score! It really adds a lot to the piece, thankfully. The pace doesn't settle for a good 1:40 minutes, although I would've loved a little more speed, for another half a minute at least. The soft and... I'd say silky rhythms that follow are interesting enough to keep me involved. Some piano in the background keeps the feeling cautious in a sense. The tropical sounds return to great effect, before being completely drowned out by drums. The last 40 seconds of the piece don't really offer much, and my focus leaves the piece for a small period. Disappointing way to end the piece.

Confrontation starts and doesn't really offer us anything for a good half a minute. After this little area of disinterest, we get some simple yet effective riffs. At this point in the score, I'm finding it harder and harder to go from piece to piece, and this isn't helping, unfortunately. The final set stays strong, luckily. Prizes, Plunder And Adventure starts with an infectious beat, that grows quickly. It gives the feel of something like chase, and we don't get a time to calm down until around 50 seconds in. The piece then grows once again, with less grunt. It's got a good amount of variety, something that is incredibly vital in a very long score like this. Tyler doesn't overstay his welcome with this piece, keeping it to 2:15. Meet The Sage starts with a soft strum of a stringed instrument, before adding in vocals and some nice and soft drums. None of the instruments are trying to overpower each other. They're all working in good harmony. The piece loses the rhythm, settles down, before establishing itself again. It grows again, and our theme we are presented, 2:20 minutes in is very infectious and adventurous. The piece leaves us with a strong beat. The piece is well done, but lacks a little bit of heart or proper theme. It never sticks with a kind of feeling for a good while, and it feels slightly unsure of itself. It is well composed though, I'll give Tyler that.

Sticks on steel can be heard towards the beginning of Into The Jungle, a short and subtle piece. It hasn't much variety, and the instruments are starting to feel overused, at this stage. Onto our final 5 pieces, beginning with The Spanish Empire. It has a certain Spanish swing to it, and it's very well composed. Guitars are a vital part of this piece, and Tyler makes great use of them. Soft percussion plays in the background, and it really adds to the whole piece, which despite it's fair pace, is considerably effective and strong. This is the kind of piece Tyler was certainly looking forward to, as I think he was running out of original ideas for the basic pirate themes. The whole melody that he sets around 3/4 of the way through sound of danger, which is something he's been missing for a few pieces. The whole piece loses the Spanish feel for a small while in and around the 3:00 minute mark, but picks it up as it nears the end. The Islands Of The West Indies has a very threatening sound to it. The deep and heavy drums reinforce this ten fold. This piece doesn't offer much we haven't heard, except for a very haunting piano solo around 1:45 minutes in. A small amount of unwanted synth manages to creep it's way into the piece, which confuses and annoys me, all at the same time. This isn't the right score for synth, Tyler! The piece ends shortly after this. Quite an underwhelming piece, after all that we've gone through so far.

We're done to our final 3 pieces, with Ships Of Legends starting up. It's a little lazy to begin with, not offering much. But it picks up, and the beat hits quicker. Some of the notes feel like they're held a little too long, as we near the end. It sounds a little clumsy, to myself. The piece ends, and we move onto Secrets Of The Maya, which starts with nothing on offer. The first 1:00 of the piece is fairly dull and uninteresting. It picks up eventually, with heavier notes, and a proper melody. The piece loses most of it's small impact towards then end, and finishes with little notice. Life At Sea is our final piece, and at 3:14, Tyler has certainly not wanted to overindulge. The melody here is interesting, and fun to listen to, which is a big positive. Tyler has tried to make this piece stand with the rest of the score, and not sound like an ending, to my ears at least. It's not nearly as clumsy or dull as the previous few pieces, but it's certainly not a stand out. It's well composed, and for an ending, it's not bad, but I think I wanted a little more. I'll go back and listen to the Main Theme then!

Brian Tyler has created something that is quite close to a masterpiece. If it wasn't for the final few pieces on the track list, I think I would have called this close to my favourite score of the year. It's energetic, fun and it fills you with a sense of adventure and danger that I don't think we've really heard from a score this year. This score is filled with what could be some of my favourite cues of the year, The Ends Of The Earth being a clear stand out. The score is a little drawn out, the 1 hour and 43 minutes being a little too much, and the pieces turns a little dull towards the end, but that doesn't mean this score should be discarded. It's well produced, composed and I'd find it unfair to compare it to any other pirate score that we've seen in recent years. This is a must listen to.

Main Theme*
Pyrates Beware*
In This World Or The One Below
The Ends Of The Earth*
Fare Thee Well
The Spanish Empire

Individual Score Pieces:
Main Theme-100*
Pyrates Beware-100*
On The Horizon-97
The High Seas-96
The Fortune Of Edward Kenway-90
In This World Or The One Below-99
Under The Black Flag-96
The Ends Of The Earth-100*
Stealing A Brig-89
Fare Thee Well-98
The Buccaneers-80
Marked For Death-84
Last Goodbyes-88
Take What Is Ours!-91
I'll Be With You-87
Lay Aboard Lads-76
A Pirates Life-79
Men Of War-94
Order Of The Assassin-97
In The Midst-92
The British Empire-86
Batten Down The Hatches-91
A Merry Life And A Short One-71
Queen Anne's Revenge-90
Prizes, Plunder And Adventure-95
Meet The Sage-91
Into The Jungle-78
The Spanish Empire-98
The Islands Of The West Indies-72
Ships Of Legends-64
Secrets Of The Maya-67
Life At Sea-86

Junkie Score: 88.26

Want to see what I'm listening to? Follow me on Spotify at Callum Hofler!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Carrie Score Review

Hello once again! Marco Beltrami has been on quite a run this year! I loved his scores for The Wolverine and Warm Bodies, but dismissed his World War Z score, unfortunately. And whilst I may not have had a chance to listen to his Good Day To Die Hard score, I've heard wonderful things about it! This score is for the film Carrie, directed by Kimberly Peirce, and stars Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore. The film is a remake of the 1976 classic, and it follows Carrie, a young teenager who is bullied, and finds out she has telekinetic powers. Beltrami has a big task, so lets see how he handles it!

Carrie Main Theme is our starting piece, and it sets the mood perfectly! The theme is very haunting and powerful. The piano and violin work wonderfully together. Beltrami starts us off on a strong note, before settling down with The Birth Of Carrie. The piece sounds like a classic horror film piece, and it's quite nostalgic to listen to! The brass really shines through in this piece, as does the stringed instruments. After Beltrami's World War Z score, it feels as if he's taken a step back from the synth and heavy metal, and gone for something much more contemporary, and it sounds wonderful! It's not exactly original, but it's very haunting and it sets the scene perfectly for a horror score. When Periods Attack is more of a step backwards in intensity, and relies on it's slow piano to begin with, before letting the woodwinds and strings take it from there. Something like a scream suddenly rings out, and it's brilliant on Beltrami's part! These first few pieces really set you up for what's to come, and I'm fully invested in this score!

Carrie On starts off with some slow building music, before picking itself back up with some really creepy music, and ending with an amusing rhythm. The next piece, Headbanger, has some moments which seem to reflect jump scares, and the constant riffs are less interesting than previous pieces. Some interesting noises play in and around the piece, but we finish a little too quickly for my liking, before jumping into Go To Your Closet. It starts off where our previous piece finished, and has some really powerful and dark moments, before settling into it's chilling beat and rhythm. It's a wonderful horror piece, and it builds up very well. Something I really noticed was how well the brass is used, in it's small parts. And that goes toe in toe with the vocals. All spectacular and haunting! Love You Too, Mum has too short a running time, but we are offered some slow piano, and it is a well placed piece. Mind Over Matter has a wintery feel towards it, and takes it back to more modern music. The guitar within the piece is very well done, and it gives it the innocent feeling that a lot of old horror movies contain. This piece reminds me that I'm listening to Marco Beltrami, simply because of the array of sounds and riffs used. It doesn't sound contemporary, which is what I'm used to after listening to a few of this man's scores. We lose a little creepiness towards the end, to my disappointment, but that doesn't take away from the wonderful music that we got to listen to. Beltrami has me won over for the moment!

Sue Gets An Idea starts with some soft, almost delicate music. It's nice to listen to, but not necessarily creepy. Some piano changes this around, and bring the haunting feeling alive once again. The drums and percussion in general add a sense of urgency to the whole piece, and it works very well with the theme of the score. We get a nice and interesting riff before settling down for possibly the third time. Piano ends us, and we are thrown into Shopping, which starts slow. Beltrami is losing the classic horror feel he got so right around the start point, which has me worrying slightly. The piece sounds a little too pleasant, for my liking. I know what is to come, the whole mass murder scene, but it won't have the subtle power of the start. Shopping finishes, with not too much notice, and Levitated Mass begins, with slightly more grunt. It has an overwhelming feel to it, as if the whole piece is grabbing you. The build up really adds to this, before delivering a killer punch! I'm genuinely creeped out, once again. We have been brought back in, I can say for sure. Once again, that almost innocent feeling to the piece kicks in, before the piece finishes. Preparing For Prom has a build up feel to it. It's soft, but it hints that you're in for something interesting. I almost feel slightly cheated, that being that I already know what's going to happen. The strings and violin work very well together, and the piece finishes.

Trapped In The Closet starts with a creepy piano note, before the main riff begins. The orchestral feel has kicked in, and you can almost feel the strings strumming away with intensity. We end quickly, and we get the piece which, to be honest, is the most concerning of them all, Blood Bath. From the get go, we know that this is the piece, the piece in which Carrie starts throwing people about. The percussion and strings work intensely, and they create a very powerful scene. Blood Bath seems to be the set up for our next piece, as it ends at a short 1:11. Beltrami pulled off one of the most important pieces. Now, for the continuation, Kill Em' All, which starts with a incredibly creeping violin set. It gave me the chills. The piece feels, in a sense, slightly crazy. You needn't fear, this is a wonderful thing for a blood bath scene! Kill Em' All captures the creepy mood of the entire score so far perfectly, and has to be one of my favourite pieces from the score!

Driving Her Crazy starts a little too powerful and modern. It almost sounds as if it's a rock piece, to begin with. It certainly feels crazy, as the name suggests, but it feels as if it almost doesn't belong in this specific score. There are some small moments in which the piece captures the haunting and terrifying feeling the rest of the score managed so well, but these are few and far between, unfortunately. The brass does play, once again, a wonderful part in making this piece feel a lot older and grander, which is something that suits this score well. The ending to this piece is incredibly subtle and chilling, which is another upside to this slightly disappointing piece. Heading Home is a return to the cold feeling that I want more of. The piece has some comforting and powerful riffs, but it doesn't seem to reach any heights. Mommie Dearest starts dark, and Beltrami really showcases his vocal talent off in this beautiful piece. It's uses a sorrowing tone for a few minutes, before returning to the fast and terrifying pace that previous pieces had. When the vocals pick up once again, they're much more sinister sounding, to my utter delight. One of the riffs is repeated once too many times, before the piece finishes with a powerful bang!

House Crumbles quickly fills you with the feeling of jeopardy and danger, and the vocals do well to emphasise this point. The piece is quite saddening, for some strange reason. I don't know what I'm feeling exactly! The piece ends with a powerful theme, opposite to the creepiness and subtleness of the first few pieces. It's quite an interesting contrast to look back on. You certainly feel the score coming to an end, with an almost heroic theme towards the end of the piece. The finale is soft but sure. Burn In Hell finishes us off with a harrowing piano solo that lasts a short 1:08. We hear creepiness, power and intensity, all in one piece, which feels slightly too short, unfortunately. The score ends, and I feel a little delight.

Marco Beltrami's Carrie a wonderful score. One that I think is slightly underrated, in my honest opinion. It sounds very much like a classic horror film score, much for the better! Beltrami is one of the composers who does best at experimenting, and creates wonderful pieces from it. This score shows off those traits well, and my faith in Beltrami has been restored, after the dull and uninteresting World War Z score. To be honest, you'll either hate this score, or, like me, you'll really dig it. One thing is for sure, you should certainly check this one out!

Carrie Main Theme
When Periods Attack
Go To Your Closet*
Levitated Mass
Preparing For Prom
Kill Em' All*
House Crumbles

Individual Piece Scores:
Carrie Main Theme-95
The Birth Of Carrie-83
When Periods Attack-97
Carrie On-92
Go To Your Closet-100*
Love You Too, Mum-73
Mind Over Matter-89
Sue Gets An Idea-91
Levitated Mass-95
Preparing For Prom-91
Trapped In The Closet-80
Blood Bath-87
Kill Em' All-100*
Driving Her Crazy-76
Heading Home-72
Mommie Dearest-89
House Crumbles-97
Burn In Hell-92

Junkie Score: 87.55

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Monday, 21 October 2013

Prisoners Score Review

Prisoners is the new film directed Denis Villeneuve which stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. The film is about a situation in which Jackman's daughter disappears, and he decides to take matters into his own hands when the cops aren't able to find his daughter quick enough. The score is composed by Johann Johannsson, who's decided to go for an incredibly dark score, one which is composed with powerful synth at it's core. And whilst Johann has proved his worth many times before, this new score may not suit many listeners. Let's see how it does in my eyes!

The Lord's Prayer is our first piece, and it's a great start to the score, with some simple orchestral music, and a powerful riff in the background. Whilst it doesn't offer a huge amount of variety in speed and power, it is a light way to start off the dark score. It's 2:31 length suits this kind of piece very well. I Can't Find Them comes up next, and we begin dark and slow. The background riff, by the minute stage, has become quite irritating, and the volume and speed doesn't really change. The piece is haunting though, and it silently hints that more is to come. I swear that the first part of the piece is a complete replay of The Lord's Prayer, which annoys me incredibly! I honestly haven't heard anything original for 4 minutes. The piece ends, eventually, leaving me uninterested.

The Search Party begins with more speed, and with a lighter stringed instrument. It sounds as if a couple more instruments have been added in, simply to keep the piece flowing. A few percussion solos save this piece from complete disaster, luckily. The rest of the piece changes it's rhythm slightly, but apart from this small change, the piece is pretty much the same old, same old. Surveillance Video starts deeper, and with much more grunt than the previous 3 pieces. A theme is hard to take away, in the midst of the incredibly loud and deep music playing. The percussion works well, as do the strings, in this much more powerful piece. It earns few points back, for being something slightly original. The final 30 seconds, unfortunately, are a complete grind to get through, and this impacts on the piece's score heavily.

The Candlelight Vigil starts with the same old rehashed rhythm that we've heard 3 times already. Vigil does have slightly more power to it, which would have to be thanks to the brass in this piece, which zooms in and out. The strings are powerful, but they sound very one dimensional. The 5:11 length is far too much of a grind for this uninteresting, old piece. Escape starts with a familiar sound, but slowly builds intensity and volume, unlike any of our previous pieces. I'm hoping, simply by the title of the piece, that we get to see some speed, maybe a little percussion! But... we get strings for the first couple minutes. And whilst they are filled with a lot of power and grunt, they feel a little old, once again. The strings echo adds a little depth to the sounds, which is good, I guess? In contrast to the rest of the score, we are definitely offered much more here than we have before. Some vocals bring a lot of solid power to the piece. They flash in and out of the later stages of the piece, but they are very much overpowered by the strings. The growing intensity is enjoyable to listen to, and the ending is nice, with the music dulling and the vocals taking over. The piece sits well with me, as the rest of the score has been incredibly underwhelming.

The Tall Man offers us a little bit of volume, for once, and has a powerful start. The strings start up around the mid point, and are pleasantly woven into the piece, and play a part in the overall feel, and are not the main instrument. This saves the piece, fortunately. The piece ends slowly, and we are thrown into The Everyday Bible. We get some woodwind, which lightens the mood incredibly! Some drum beats are heard in the background, whilst the piece warms up. The piece goes back to the somber tone of the entire score, and we finish slowly. The Everyday Bible is one of the few pieces that really keeps me interested and offers a little reward for sitting through this dull and irritating score.

Following Keller returns to the old strings, but we are introduced to a rhythm that sounds slightly tweaked. After the constant rhythm we've been listening to for 30 minutes, it makes a big difference. The piece doesn't build much intensity or volume over the 2:11. Once it reaches it's peak, it stops and stays. Through Falling Snow is another very soft piece, with some good ole' keyboard! It's a very pleasant piece, whilst setting a cautious atmosphere, which is a definite good thing! The riff in the background is quite intoxicating and fresh, and really adds heaps to the piece! The piece builds slowly, and it ends very powerfully. This one beautiful piece gives me so much hope for the rest of the score! The Keeper holds a slow pace the whole way through, but it's volume increases to create a very powerful piece. Towards the ending, a very mood related riff hits the background, and it's truly brilliant! Johannsson is slowly winning points back, luckily.

The Intruder starts off, once again, with a slow, atmospheric rhythm. It's not exactly original, and once again, Johannsson sounds like he is just recycling old ideas and rhythms. A deep note lasts over a minute, and that's pretty much where I lost all interest. We get a little more keyboard at the end, but it doesn't do much for me. The Priests Basement starts off with an uninteresting set, and wins no points back with some heavy strings. And then the piece basically stops, and tries to recover with an atmospheric synth solo, but falls flat.

The Snakes starts off with some power, and slowly grows. If I was more than an impatient teenager, maybe I would enjoy these slow, recycled rhythms and beats. But, I'm not more than an impatient teenager, and I certainly do not enjoy these slow, recycled rhythms and beats. The Snakes is everything I really hate about this score. Much too slow, old rhythms and above all, completely uninteresting. It offers close to nothing. The Trans Am has a little more speed to it, and a few more instruments flowing in and out. The strings return, to simply mock me. We end this piece, thankfully, and we move onto our finale! Prisoners is our final piece, and has the longest running time, 7:00. I'm not looking forward to this at all. Fortunately, the piece begins with some lighter toned sets, before letting the orchestral music take a complete foot hold. The piece picks up it's pace around the 2:40 mark, and we get some good riffs in the background. At this stage, I've just realised this seems to be a highlights reel. We're getting all the big rhythms and beats from the score, to my much dismay. The Through Falling Snow set only lasts a short time, which has to be the most disappointing thing to do with this piece. A few fast sets are thrown throughout the piece, and they manage to make the piece slightly bearable. The theme to the entire score hits us at the end, and, despite my lack of faith, I have to thank the Lord. The Prisoners score has finally finished.

I can see what Johannsson wanted to provide. A slow but haunting and powerful score. One that would trap you in it's grasp slowly, and envelop you over time. But to be honest, the score is much too slow, the music repetitive and uninteresting, and lacking in a fair amount of power. The score does have it's highlights, but they are far between, and aren't worth it if you have to grind through the rest of the score. As I haven't seen the film yet, I can't say whether or not it works in that context. But what I can tell you is that this score should be avoided, unless you truly love this genre of music. A disappointing score, from a great composer.

The Everyday Bible
Through Falling Snow*

Individual Piece Scores:
The Lord's Prayer-78
I Can't Find Them-33
The Search Party-52
Surveillance Video-59
The Candlelight Vigil-49
The Tall Man-76
The Everyday Bible-84
Following Keller-57
Through Falling Snow-98*
The Keeper-86
The Intruder-50
The Priests Basement-42
The Snakes-17
The Trans Am-48

Junkie Score: 51

Want to see what I'm listening to? Follow me on Spotify at Callum Hofler! 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Captain Phillips Score Review

Captain Phillips is the new film from Paul Greengrass, director of movies such as The Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum, Green Zone and United 93. The film is about a piracy situation occurring onboard a large American container ship, and it has been receiving large amounts of critical acclaim. The film is set to contain high octane intensity and pressure ridden scenes, and this definitely has me excited for the score, which is composed by Henry Jackman, who has done some great work over the past couple of years, with Wreck-It Ralph and X-Men: First Class ranking among his finest. Let's see how this stacks up compared to some of his previous scores!

Choose Your Crew starts us off, with some synth and orchestral, mixed together. It's a very diverse sounding opening piece, and it sets an obvious tone. It's not a dark, but it's definitely setting the mood as treacherous. It finishes quickly. Maersk Alabama begins where Choose Your Crew finishes off, and we hear a lighter tone than the previous piece. Strings are humming away in the background to good effect. Jackman is not sticking to conventional music, providing us with something which is very interesting to listen to. A basic riff is in place, and the piece picks up in intensity, before dropping back down. The piece finishes off with a lighter mood. This Is Not A Drill is up next, our largest piece, and we start with some basic synths. From the onset, strings are to obviously become a big part in Jackman's score. Foreign instruments are heard, before a noise, a vibration like a helicopter rotors are heard. The main theme of the piece kicks in, and a lot starts happening. Jackson is experimenting with a lot of noises and instruments, and works very well in this piece. It's an interesting piece, and it has a lot of good intensity and speed spread throughout. Definitely a standout so far.

We move on to Second Attack. It sounds almost quirky to begin with. The score so far sounds very culturally diverse. When a bass and some synth kicks in, we are led onto a wonderful drum solo. Strings join in, and we have a very powerful piece! Some strange sounds are heard in the background, such as hammering on something like a plastic bottle. The piece is full of interesting sounds, and you should be captivated by the amount of quality sets Jackson pours into this 4:54 minute piece. I'm The Captain Now is our next piece, and it begins softer than our previous piece. I can honestly say that I have no idea whether Jackson is using synths or orchestral instruments. One thing is clear, the intensity is going to pick up very soon. The beat is infectious, but the piece falls flat, with nothing much going on. The final half a minute tries something different, but has no time to do much. Do We Have A Deal Now starts with a soft beat. The background riff is actually quite interesting, I noticed. The percussion kicks in, and intensity and volume builds to a very climactic point, before the piece settles down. We have one more build up before the end of the piece.

Entering The Lifeboat starts fast paced and doesn't settle down. Jackson's beats are all incredibly infectious and catchy, which really keeps you involved in this score. Violin hammers away towards the end to great effect, before we stop, and piano takes place for a short while. The piece ends with nothing much to offer, unfortunately. USS Bainbridge is our next piece, which starts building, before a wonderful rhythm and beat takes hold. More conventional instruments are used within this piece, and they create a wonderful tone. A continuous rhythm later on does seem to ruin the piece, unfortunately, as it is boring and uninteresting.

End This Peacefully starts off with a soft theme, before a strong beat and rhythm begin. Strings such as violins are used incredibly well throughout the piece, and they create a very overwhelming scene. End This Peacefully feels like it has so much to offer us, but it doesn't deliver in it's short 2:44 running time. Failed Attempt is one of the shortest pieces on the score, but it has a lot to offer in the way of smooth rhythm, something that has been missing in the whole score so far. It finishes far too quickly. Two In The Water is up next and it begins with a big bang! It sets the whole tone, and the music keeps a fast pace. Some of the foreign sounds here are really interesting, and work very well with the speed the music sets. The rhythm is very catchy and intense, and shows off Jackson's experimental nature once again! The piece offers a powerful riff towards the end to finish us off on a bang. Seals Inbound starts with a good violin set, but that's honestly all I have to say about it, as it finishes at a tiny 0:24 seconds. It's honestly not even worth listening to that small insert.

Negotiation goes back to simple orchestral riffs to begin with, to great effect. Violins once again, are a stand out in this piece. The 1:23 running time is too short, unfortunately, so I don't get a real good taste. Initiate The Tow has a powerful rhythm to begin with, that builds slowly. The piece ends quite anticlimactically, which is quite disappointing. High-Speed Maneuvers starts with a wonderful percussion beat, and a great intensity. I had to turn the volume up, as it really adds to the piece! This is the piece that a lot of the intensity that so many other pieces didn't have lies. 2:04 is a good running time for a piece such as this. Our final piece, Safe Now starts very simple, with a piano and some basic riffs in the background. It's actually quite effective, the piano. The piece doesn't attempt to do much more than it needs to, and this adds so much more emotion and power to the piece. The strings are so delicate and beautiful, it's hard to fault. What a wonderful way to end!

The score to Captain Phillips starts off with some exceptionally good pieces, before losing quite a lot of points to boring and uninteresting rhythms and beats. Thankfully, some intensity and emotion is recaptured towards the end, with the final piece really captivating. Jackson is not afraid to experiment, and this is not a bad thing, not in the slightest. But some of these pieces felt much too overwhelming, with an abundance of sounds being thrown at you. Despite these faults, Captain Phillips should definitely be listened to, as it provides some intoxicating beats and some beautiful violin solos. Possibly not Jackson's best score, but one of his more memorable.

This Is Not A Drill
Second Attack*
Two In The Water
High Speed Maneuvers
Safe Now*

Individual Piece Scores:
Choose Your Crew-76
Maersk Alabama-87
This Is Not A Drill-94
Second Attack-100*
I'm The Captain Now-79
Do We Have A Deal?-82
Entering The Lifeboat-85
USS Bainbridge-68
End This Peacefully-88
Failed Attempt-71
Two In The Water-97
Seals Inbound-36
Initiate The Tow-70
High-Speed Maneuvers-93
Safe Now-100*

Junkie Score: 68

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Elysium Score Review

Elysium had to be one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Everything surrounding it was highly appealing. The director, Neill Blomkamp, had achieved huge success, both critically and in the box office for his last mainstream movie, District 9. Matt Damon had the acting creds to work the role and make it his own. The cinematographer from District
9 was back, and I had absolute faith in him to make the movie look incredible. Only one part of the movie was really worrying, and that would have to be the composer for the score, Ryan Amon. Amon is a complete newcomer to the score world. Elysium is his first score, and I can assure you, despite my worries, it still manages to deliver in mood and intensity. Let's explore the score thoroughly!

We start with the piece Heaven and Earth, which builds volume and power quickly, and provides some intense synths. Turn your volume down for this one, as it will hurt your ears if you are wearing earphones. Amon makes it clear that he doesn't want to stick to the basic orchestral or synthesiser music the whole way through. The entire piece mixes it up, and adds in vocals and foreign noises. Whilst parts of the piece are soothing and really set an obviously emotional tone, I can't help but notice that I had a headache immediately after the piece finished. Disappointing to begin with. Fire Up The Shuttle is next, and sets a big emphasis on the brass, and it's brilliant! It's intense and very climatic, and keeps you thoroughly involved throughout. This piece definitely makes up for the previous piece, and keeps my expectations high!

Our next piece is Unauthorized Entry, and it begins with a very soft tone. We build to a percussion showcase, and it feels like Amon owns it. He definitely has a lot of skill with percussion and brass, and for a movie like Elysium, that will surely benefit him greatly. This piece reminds me of a lot of different cultures and countries, which serves it well. Deportation, our next piece, begins with a high amount of intensity from strings and brass, with a loud percussion set playing in the background. The brass starts picking up in intensity and provides us with some incredibly awesome riffs, which die down quickly. The piece keeps you interested from start to finish. It's 1:56 running time feels much too short. Our next piece, Darkness begins, and nothing of note happens for the best part of the first minute and a half. We hear different instruments and computer-generated sounds flash in and out, but the piece doesn't really do anything. Around halfway through, the rhythm changes for the first time, but we don't hear much new. The intensity doesn't seem to be building, and the piece falls flat. A small but powerful percussion beat kicks in towards the end, but once again, the piece falls flat.

Things To Come starts off in a repetitive rhythm that is not interesting or well done. Foreign noises that don't sound like they belong chime in and out, and start their own rhythm, and they do worse for the piece. At this stage, I'd say Amon is trying to do too much. Simplicity can be better, and it would definitely benefit this score greatly. Some percussion finally chimes in, and we're saved, for a while at least. And before you know it, the piece has ended. You Said You'd Do Anything is up next, and we start off with a much more interesting riff. Whilst quite repetitive, like the last piece, we hear new sounds and a higher tone. The last few pieces felt too low and boring. We have vibrancy here! Once again, a percussion set picks up, and it benefits the piece greatly. We get some interesting vocals of unknown origins. The piece ends similar to how it began, which fits it well.

A Political Sickness begins with a vibrating noise, like a helicopters rotor blades. Some synth jumps occur which last a couple of seconds each, but keep the piece fresh and interesting. Unlike the previous few pieces, Amon sounds as if he really wants to try something new and intense. He certainly achieves some good here, with the orchestral sets playing a wonderful part in this piece. The piece ends on a high note, and Amon earns some creds for that. Arming Projectile starts with intensity and detail. You can identify so many sounds and instruments and it really adds a lot of depth to the piece. Whilst detailed and powerful, the piece lasts a short 1:27, disappointedly. Zero Injuries Sustained starts with the perfect brass and percussion riff, and continues to get better! I hear inspiration from some of the Man of Steel cues done by Hans Zimmer, who really did the percussion justice. Strings are scattered all throughout. Once again, one of my favourite pieces so far only lasts an incredibly short while, clocking in at 1:31.

I'd Like Them Dead begins with speed, for the first time in a long time! It's rhythm is powerful and immediately catchy. It almost forces you back in your seat, with the force of the percussion sets. Again, only 1:23 of this brilliant tune?! I'm outraged! I'd Like Them Dead has to be my favorite piece at this point in time. You Have No Idea is again reminding me of Man of Steel, in a very good way! I have to tap my foot to the infectious beat and rhythm. Violins get some real show time, and they perform very well, to my delight. A set, sounding something like a theme begins, and it is really beautiful. Amon has 100% won me back! The Raven needs to live up to something very memorable, and it starts with intensity and some interesting riffs. You can hear a lot of inspiration from Zimmer, now his Inception score! Amon is not afraid to take risks, which is apparent from this piece, and it pleases me.

Let The Girls Out begins with a smooth rhythm, before a beat kicks in, and the piece picks up. The synths are incredibly powerful in this piece, and I really enjoyed what Amon did. The piece can become a little irritating, especially towards the end, which can be an issue. I Don't Want To Die starts with a very soothing rhythm, and the vocals are beautiful. The strings are very good here, and the emotion from the movie is clear. Simplicity is a key in this piece, and it suits it well. Matilda is another slow endeavour, that really relies on the wonderful strings to provide some heart. We get some heavy beats here and there, and they add another layer of power to this piece. It's quite heart wrenching, I must admit. The length, in this case for some reason, seems to go against the entire piece. I felt like the beauty dragged on slightly too much. Despite this, the piece wins a lot of points!

Step Aboard is back to the synth rhythms, before picking back up with various sets here and there, before bass and percussion, once again, take hold in a truly captivating performance. I'm beginning to enjoy Amon's direction at this point. The sounds towards the start, all sounding as if he was experimenting are lost, and now he is sticking to fast paced, intense pieces. It really suits him very well. The 2:56 running time blasts away quickly. It really feels as if we're heading to Elysium in our next piece. The intensity picks up and the orchestra comes from all different places, before coming together throughout the piece. It's almost as if I'm listening to the Man of Steel score again, but a more refined and calculated version. Something like a theme is heard towards the end of the 1:56 running time, and it's magnificent!

Keep Them Busy starts powerful, and holds it for it's tiny 0:55 running time. Percussion is once again, like a lot of the score, key in keeping the piece vibrant and engrossing. When He Wakes Up has more of the same energetic feel, and great orchestral riffs. I've actually turned the volume up at this point, and I'm loving the intensity and speed! We Do The Hanging lasts for a short 1:08 but gets going from the onset. Amon is embracing this movie, which moves at a frantic speed towards the latter stages. A very simple sounding riff is heard in the background and it's quite good! Kruger Suits Up goes back to earlier pieces to begin with, foreign vocals starting us off. The piece is incredibly vibrant, and Amon uses a bunch of interesting sounds, before going back to his awesome orchestral sets! The piece feels dangerous and very energetic. Amon has been shifting through 22 pieces so far, and this piece still manages to sound incredibly fresh and original. An awesome heroic sounding theme sounds for a short while, before the piece ends.

Armoury is too short for what Amon has planned, with an only 1:00 running time. Despite this, a lot of brass power is inserted, and the piece has enough time to build intensity. Great ending to the piece, as well! I'm Right Behind You has an industrial feel to it to begin with, before settling back in with percussion and brass. We hear some synth riffs, and the piece drops off, before returning to it's powerful state. The final 30 seconds feel like a final fight, and have some intense sets, and some really big jumps that are truly brilliant!

Fire And Water is slower than the past couple of pieces, and dies down fairly quickly, before attempting a rebuild in intensity. And then it has you, with some incredibly string riffs in the background, some of the best I've heard! The rhythm is intoxicating, and I'm tapping my foot to it. A heroic theme I swear I had heard before appears to have appeared, before disappearing quickly.

The Gantry only has 1:10 to it, but the vocals are great to begin with. A synth jump is a little confusing, and we change tempos and beats multiple times, which doesn't work in our short time frame. Breaking A Promise starts with some beautiful music that begins to build in volume. Vocals, once again, steal the show. Amon teases us with them for a while, before giving us a good taste, and it's spectacular. Simplicity is the key, and Amon does well with this. A simple riff in the background is all it takes, and Breaking A Promise has me in for the ride. I have to close my eyes and marvel at the beauty. The music leads up to a brilliant climax and simply cuts, which in my eyes, is possibly the best way to end the piece.

We're almost at the end, with the title piece, Elysium. It begins with a simple piano solo. It's very simple and effective. Amon doesn't appear to be trying to make this piece anything too technical from the get go. Synths and other instruments join in, and we get some truly breathtaking moments. The piece is certainly reminding me of Time, by Hans Zimmer. It's building intensity slowly as more and more instruments join in. The vocals join in, and we have a piece which feels full, and I can't help but shudder. Amon has hit the right cords. The piano is back again, and the whole piece, finally, feels completed. New Heaven, New Earth begins with a percussion beat that doesn't try to build or create a large amount of intensity. Strings flash in and out to great effect. Amon certainly hasn't tried to overdo this final piece, giving it a short 2:23 running time. The piece picks up in speed and intensity, and a theme can be partially heard, before beginning it's rapid ascent. The theme becomes apparent, and the score ends on a high note.

In terms of debuts into the film industry by a composer, Amon has won me over. This is a wonderful score, despite some of the earlier pieces actually giving me a headache. The final half an hour of this score is absolutely brilliant and deserves your full attention. Amon definitely needs to learn to create a score with a lot less pieces, as 29 pieces makes reviewing and listening to it by itself a grind. Some of the pieces, in my mind, could've been lengthened out longer, such as Breaking A Promise. Despite this, the score to Elysium is a very good ride and deserves a listen to, simply for some of it's incredibly percussion and brass riffs.

Fire Up The Shuttle
Zero Injuries Sustained
I'd Like Them Dead*
You Have No Idea*
I Don't Want To Die*
Step Aboard
Heading To Elysium
When He Wakes Up
Kruger Suits Up*
I'm Right Behind You
Breaking A Promise*

Individual Piece Scores:
Heaven And Earth-65
Fire Up The Shuttle-90
Unauthorized Entry-79
Things To Come-62
You Said You'd Do Anything-74
A Political Sickness-81
Arming Projectile-77
Zero Injuries Sustained-96
I'd Like Them Dead-100*
You Have No Idea-100*
The Raven-87
Let The Girls Out-82
I Don't Want To Die-100*
Step Aboard-92
Heading To Elysium-97
Keep Them Busy-89
When He Wakes Up-100
We Do The Hanging-91
Kruger Suits Up-100*
I'm Right Behind You-98
Fire And Water-96
The Gantry-81
Breaking A Promise-100*
New Heaven, New Earth-86

Junkie Score-88.17

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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Gravity Score Review

One of my most anticipated scores of the year, Steven Price's score for Gravity, has hit the air, and I had a listen to it the other day. After much talking to myself, the score settled it's place in my head, and I've felt a good time to review possibly the best score of the year.

Steven Price has had an awesome year so far, having done the pretty awesome score for the movie The World's End, one of my favorite comedies of the year, and now getting to do one of my favorite movies of the year in general, Gravity. One of the things I really noticed about this score, is how it breaks up the atmosphere of the movie, and this is something that slightly bugged me in the theater. The movie still earned itself a 5 out of 5 from myself, but I was tempted to downgrade the movie for this one reason. I suggest that you listen to this score immediately after you see the film, so that you can really digest the score in it's entirety, without the influence of the film.

The score starts off incredibly jumpy, and no one riff is stuck to for very long. Despite this, Above Earth has to be one of my highlights of the score. The first big riff, where the music builds up and suddenly disappears, is truly breathtaking, and the rest of the piece is really powerful and beautiful. This piece sets an awesome standard for the rest of the score. Debris is less majestic than it's predecessor, and is focused mainly on overwhelming you. After reading interviews with Price, I realised this was his main goal for the score. Overwhelming you, so that you have no control of the situation. This is one of the key things about the film, that Ryan, our main character, has almost no control of the situation for the first half an hour or so. Debris really takes advantage of this, and in that context, overwhelming, it really does well.

The next piece, The Void, starts the heavy synth riff's. This piece, unlike the past 2 pieces, starts loud and powerful immediately. Despite these, it urges you in slowly, and it builds up in intensity over time. But when it reaches it's climax, it really takes hold and delivers some powerful grunt. Around the 2:20 mark, a powerful riff starts, and you're in. Some bass really adds to this whole thing, appearing and disappearing multiple times, for around a minute. This piece is the first long piece in the score, being 6:16, and hints that there are many more to come.

Atlantis is our next piece, and unlike The Void, it starts off softer, which gives you time to release the tension that has built up in your body. I noticed around this point, that I was keeping very still, transfixed by the intensity and power of the score so far. We get some jump riffs within the piece, but it lasts for a short period, before returning to the basic rhythm the piece sets. The piece ends with a sudden stop, and we're thrown into the longest piece in the entire score, Don't Let Go. Price sets himself a big job, with 11:12 minutes of music to be played. This is the first time we get to see synth and orchestral mixed together, in one of the big highlights of the piece. We hear the theme for the score for the first time in this piece, and it urges you in lightly. It's a heroic theme, and it's light in comparison to the rest of the score that we've been listening to. But it is not long before the synths start revving up again, and they start the big build up riffs, and the basic rhythm set in Debris. Various instruments are heard in the background, such as a bass, as was in The Void, and the piece starts really capturing you. Around the halfway point, orchestral sounds are heard, and we actually get to hear a whole section of violins humming away. I'll admit, it's a very big relief, after the past 4 minutes. The heroic theme is once again heard, and it's absolutely beautiful.

Airlock is next, clocking in at 1:58, and we start with pianos. It's slow and beautiful. It's simple, and it's very well done. This piece reminds me of Take Care of Janet, from the End of Watch score, because of it's simplicity. ISS follows, and we start with a slow and intense synth, before getting a sample of some of the incredible vocals that are thrown all over the score. Once again, it's simplistic and powerful. Fire is next, and it's intense and fast paced. The piece drops off towards the beginning, but picks up and starts blasting you. Make sure you turn the volume down! The gracefulness of the past 2 pieces is lost, and there is a definite sense of urgency in everything written in this piece, whether it be the main rhythm or the music in the background. Despite the energetic and intense beginning, the piece drops off and goes a little slack towards the end.

And Parachute begins, clocking in at 7:41. The piece starts fast paced, as did Fire, and it really urges you to pick up the urgency levels. But the piece drops off, and goes back to slow and delicate music. It feels like we take a break, making it about halfway through the score. But we don't get very long to break, with the piece starting it's big synth riffs again, and picking up the intensity. The rhythm is very powerful and has an almost suffocating feel to it. And the piece once again picks up and drops off, and begins its slow ascent once again. But for some strange reason it never feels like it's repeating itself. Percussion is expertly used to create a very large sense of urgency, a recurring theme. Violins and bass and both used in various points, and vocals make their way in.

In The Blind begins, and some foreign noises are introduced. The noises a space shuttle would make. It sets the mood very well, a very isolated feel, and intensity begins to build once again. The piece captures all it's themes incredibly well, and happens to achieve perfection in it's hair raising riff. Aurora Borealis is our next piece, and it starts like Airlock. Slow and simple. I feel like the simplistic pieces are all so incredibly powerful, and Aurora captures this perfectly. Aningaaq comes in next at 5:09, and starts a repetitive rhythm, that has some piano in the background, incredibly well done. I hear some cello, or an instrument like a cello, and it sets the mood perfectly. The stringed instruments take center stage, and they really capture emotion. You have a sense of isolation, with the foreign space shuttle noises playing in the background, whilst being played this incredibly emotional riff. It's a real highlight of the score.

Soyuz is a short but powerful piece. It feels as though, from the on set, that we are preparing for something bigger. The vocal talent is showcased in this piece for a short time, as is the theme. Price is really holding his cards to his chest at this point in time, before we are thrown into the next piece, the beginning of the end, as I like to call it, Tiangong. Tiangong reaches for 6:29, and we begin with a very powerful violin. Foreign noises enter the piece, both space and Earth related. This makes it feel as if the end is coming, that we are nearing Earth. The synths play a minor part in this piece, and the orchestral riffs steal the show. Percussion enters the show with a bang, and joins the rest of the ensemble, and we're at a neutral stage, not ascending, nor descending, before vocals return for another short period. Price is simply teasing us at this point! You can't put a finger on a single riff for a few minutes, before the vocals finally pick up, and we're in! The strings are strumming away at a frantic pace, and the entire ensemble delivers the ending of this piece perfectly!

Shenzhou starts, and with no hesitation, begins with intensity and urgency. Synths are still in motion, but they're playing a secondary part now, with the strings controlling the action. A simple drum beat change the entire mood of the piece, and we're finally given a look at the theme, in real depth. This theme reminds me of Hans Zimmer's Time, with a slow buildup, but a wonderful delivery! The rift we have now, is a powerful and emotional one. The entire ensemble comes from different places, and comes together to create this wonderfully embarrassing riff. You're engrossed, and we're only 2/3 of the way in! But the gracefullness is lost, and we return to the almost irritating noise we had near the start.

And our final piece begins, the title piece, Gravity. We start, like a lot of the pieces, in a slow build up. The piece doesn't feel like it's going anywhere... and then our percussion kicks in, slowly but surely. They're in the background, hammering away slowly. The ascension begins with violins, before more instruments involve themselves. A bass guitar is hammering away in the background, and the rest of the ensemble makes themselves known. We finally get a good, proper listen to the vocal talent. The strings start an emotional and powerful backdrop for the vocals. And the whole ensemble combines, with another urgent feel to it. And then, the heroic theme! It finally arrives, and it feels as if you've been waiting for it for years! The main female steals the show delivering some incredible vocals with the rest of the orchestra ripping it up! Finally, the final note is sounded, and then the entire piece goes blank, like so many other pieces. And Gravity, my friends, is finished.

Gravity is, to be honest, a marvel. The problem with the score in the sense of the movie is that the movie takes place in space, and there is no sound in space. So these cues took me out of the sensation that I was in space, which was slightly disappointing. But despite this, the score by itself is beyond brilliant. It's possibly my favorite score I've ever had the honour of listening to. It introduces you to so many emotions and sounds, and it will not leave your thoughts for days on end. Some of the earlier pieces feel a little jumpy and don't have any personality or a really distinctive sound. But the final 3 pieces are easily my favourite cues of the year, rivalling My Best Enemy by Hans Zimmer for Rush and Waking Up by M83 for Oblivion, both incredibly awesome scores. I urge you to check out the movie, which is pure brilliance, and the score, which captures you and doesn't let go until the final blast synth at the end. A must listen to!

Above Earth
In The Blind

Individual Piece Scores:'
Above Earth-95
The Void-78
Don't Let Go-100
In The Blind-100
Aurora Borealis-99

Junkie Score-95

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Tron: Legacy Score Review

Better late then ever, I like to say! Daft Punk's score for the 2010 movie Tron Legacy is one that has been acclaimed by many score lovers, like myself, and as I've finally listened to it for the first time today, I saw it fit to review it!

The Tron Legacy score starts off with some fairly awesome orchestral pieces, which interested me quite a bit. I expected this entire soundtrack to be synth after synth, but the start to the score went against this completely! Daft Punk still include some awesome synth riffs in this score, but the majority of the pieces are filled to the brim with very bright and interesting orchestral music. These orchestral pieces reminded me heavily of The Dark Knight score, with the piece C.L.U almost delivering an exact replica of The Dark Knight's main theme. And whilst it did take me out of the mood, I still smiled a little. It's not a bad theme, and it's very well done!

The Tron Legacy score is expertly done, with some very quick and powerful music, and delivers to a great standard. If you can listen to this score, I urge you to!

*The Son of Flynn
*Tron Legacy (End Titles)

Junkie Score-92