June Soundtrack Picks



To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover



Price: $11.99

What Is It?: As the composer who first put Pixar on the CG toon map with “Toy Story,” Randy Newman has had a gleefully antic time with the company’s armadas of cute playthings and bugs. Perhaps it was because the creatures of “Monsters Inc.” were far more furry friend than fiend that Newman’s Carl Stalling-esque approach stood out for its mischievousness and warmth- his over-the-top toon sound perfect at playing a one-eyed goblin and giant blue beast as big softies. Now Randy Newman gets to return a decade later with Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan in this winningly pleasant prequel that takes the duo back to school, allowing the composer to incorporate a collegiate sound to his entertainingly portentous comedy stylings.

Why You Should Buy It?:
While the G-rating insures that we aren’t going to see any “Animal House”-like antics in “Monsters University,” Newman’s score certainly has some of the more robust musical academia since Elmer Bernstein pitted the slobs against the snobs – with the contest here pitting a similarly hapless (if far more mild) fraternity against the scare jocks. Brass trumpets ivy-covered halls of academia, while cheer anthems abound for the pride of the Monster Alma matter, giving a thematic backbone to the film’s many invertebrate characters. Newman’s score remains delightfully of-the- Bugs Bunny-cum-Monster moment, veering from Newman’s love of jazz (played here for big band action and ragtime rhythm) to rousing sports game excitement and wannabe terror at the drop of a gag. It’s all very much of a hellzapoppin piece with Newman’s other Pixar work, and just as rambunctiously enjoyable at that.

Extra Special:
While Newman’s Disney scores are always dizzying in their exuberance, there’s a real nostalgic warmth to them, the sense of returning to the bosom of old buddies – a feeling that’s also very much part of all of his best dramatic works like ‘Avalon” and “Awakenings.” While there’s no reason for Newman reduce us listeners again to weeping wreaks as he did for the ending of “Toy Story 3,” “Monsters University” is full of sweet melodic feeling that leaves little doubt that Mike and Sully are destined for a greatness. And it’s exactly these kinds of Newman scores that are a big reason we keep coming back to the Pixar brand, where Newman remains at the head of the class.


Price: $9.49

What is it?:
Few Hollywood composers have nailed the rocking rhythm of the orchestral beat like Brian Tyler, whose action scores for such pictures as “Eagle Eye,” “Fast and Furious 6” and two “Expendables” are all about thematic propulsion, going like jet engines until they orgasmically plateau. But while Tyler’s the go-to guy for fast cars and muscular mayhem, the composer has rarely had the chance to use his rhythmic sound for a humorous action score, one where no one really gets hurt (though his yeoman work on “Iron Man 3” certainly didn’t lack for comedic riffs). Now Tyler’s testosterone at last gets put to winningly lightweight use for magical caper flick “Now You See Me,” where playing a pretty much harmless trick of the eye shows that fun suspense can have just as much muscle, especially when it’s going for a “Mission Impossible”-meets-Vegas vibe.

Why should you buy it?:
Much like the martini bachelor pad retro craze that re-hit the pop world a decade or so ago, film music is more than ever in love with the swinging spy-jazz-action sound for movies about big rip-offs, whether it’s “Tower Heist” or any given “Oceans” flick. Tyler is a proper acolyte at the Schifrin altar for “Now You See Me,” finding both homage and new vibrancy in his jams of fat brass, big strings, storming percussion and electric guitar that spells the kind of ego-driven characters who just know they’re not going to get caught. That’s right in tune with “See’s” all-knowing merry prankster-tricksters, joyfully blasting out their sense of complete confidence in making rubes of the feds. Beyond being old school with his ballsy swing, the composer incorporates newfangled techno rhythms, along with an orchestral rhumba that doesn’t make this so much a heist score as it does a delirious dance. But this would likely be all technique if Tyler didn’t have the thematic flair to back it up. And just about as always, the composer’s got a dynamically memorable motif for “Now You See Me.” But in the end, this is just damn great musical popcorn fun by a composer who really knows every trick in the multiplex book, and is more than happy to pull off some new ones as well.

Extra Special:
“Now You See Me” also offers inconsequential, sometimes enjoyable pop fluff from Phoenix, Zedd and Galactic, whose tunes gives a proper Vegas ambience to Tyler’s score set. But leave it to the composer to outsmart them all with a “Spellbound” instrumental remix that switches out the jazz card for a techno spin on his main theme – even though even Tyler couldn’t pull off the ultimate hat trick of seeing one of his coolest scores get a deserved hardcopy release.


Price: $24.98

What Is It?:
Beyond exploring other galaxies and ravishingly exotic lands, the urbane composer John Williams has found a rich, melodic vein to mine in the south from “The Reivers’” coming of age to “Conrack’s” rural school and the comedy-drama car chase that marked Williams’ first collaboration with Steven Spielberg on “The Sugarland Express.” But this Queens’ native’s way of knowing how to wield a guitar, jaw harp and harmonica like a regular good old boy would also show the region at its ugliest in a Florida town called “Rosewood,” whose white population expelled its black populace during one murderous night. While John Singleton’s 1997 film unearths this shocking example of American inhumanity, and selflessness (albeit in pulpy fashion), the multiplex wasn’t quite ready to face their country at its darkest, which has meant that one of Williams’ best, unheralded scores pretty much stayed in relative anonymity with the picture. But it certainly now won’t be the case now as “Rosewood’s” complete score gets resoundingly heard with all of its devastating power via La La Land’s two-CD set.

Why You Should Buy It:
The late 90s saw some of Williams’ most dramatically effective, if bleak scores with “Amistad,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Angela’s Ashes.” So when “Rosewood’s” original composer Wynton Marsalis departed, it was a stroke of seditious genius for Singleton to call upon Williams, the master of noble Americana, to score the ironically labeled land of the free at its worst. Yet there’s still that stirring sense of nobility in how he captures the strength of Rosewood’s populace to stand up for their very survival while fleeing a hell-bent white mob out to destroy them for an imagined rape. Starting out with straight-up southern pastoralism for harmonica and guitar, with some bitingly restrained musical humor in its strumming, Williams’ score gets progressively more concerned before descending into anguished turmoil, and a pulse-pounding train ride that means life itself. Few composers can use strings to hit the melodic peaks of moral outrage, and “Rosewood” is a lavishly surging gut punch of the highest order. Especially notable is the use of brass, its theme suggesting spirituals and period blues jazz, with a French horn the embodiment of heroism and anthemic mourning. Having captured the near-annihilation of another ethnic group with “Schindler’s List,” it’s a given that an aching violin would also embody the tragedy at hand, and an even more brilliant musical coup that a blues solo piano so effectively captures the atrocity with its simple lyricism. Yet as awful as the subject might be, Williams can’t help but to find a ray of hope with a score that tells us how we’re ultimately better than our worst acts, while pleading to our heartstrings to make the madness stop.

Extra Special:
John Williams’ restorationist supreme Michael Matessino has done an exceptional job at rebuilding “Rosewood,” wit the music’s impact obviously felt by liner note writer Jeff Bond. With the second, gospel-filled disc reprising the original soundtrack album, “Rosewood” is now completely revealed as a Williams masterpiece of dark, southern-style Americana that won’t soon be forgotten.


Price: $9.99

What is it?:
From child vampires to giant trolls and Santa’s naked evil helpers, strange creatures have increasingly been appearing from the Nordic regions. “Thale” is an especially striking, coccyx-accented young woman to arrive from these hinterlands. And the mystery behind her is played for all of its beautiful eeriness by composers Raymond Enoksen and Geirmund Simonsen, musical creature hunters who’ve yielded stunning findings for this new wave of “fairy tale” horror pictures, whose originality is rapidly putting Hollywood’s genre films to shame.

Why you should buy it?:
The fiddle seems an indigenous instrument to this isolated, rustic lands of forest and snow, so it’s appropriate that “Thale” starts with one for its deceptively opening in “Our Story Begins” contrasting the sight of a heaving corpse cleaner with off-kilter electronic percussion. But when the team gets the job of wiping up an underground laboratory, Enoksen and Simonsen get down to more straight-laced and subtle matters with the appearance of the nude and mute “Thale.” For though very much a horror film, “Thale” is more about the way in which oddball outcasts communicate, with the very big McGuffin of finding out just how she got there, and who she, always playing in the background. The music takes an almost astonishing lyrical approach to the growing bond between these misfits, in much the same stylistic way that Johan Soderqvist used a piano and spare strings for the relationship between young boy and bloodsucker in “Let the Right One In.” Here it’s female voices for a noble, if viciously protective she-creature sisterhood, calling out to their compatriot with whale song-like samples and hypnotically mournful strings, their looming, bestial presence given more claws with drum percussion. There’s also a bit of tender guitar to give just the hint of romance between human and beauteous “monster,” the score resonating with the fearsome power of a millennia-old legend come-to-life, as well as our ability to empathize with the enticingly unknowable.

Extra Special:
“Thale” is one of those miraculous little foreign pictures, and scores that you want to tell the world about. And thanks to Movie Score Media’s Screamworks label, “Thale” shows how a “horror” score can be just as powerful as any drama where the music has to become the voice of a victimized female character that has none. Here’s hoping that Enoksen and Simonsen will soon get to speak their unique and transfixing language soon in English.



Price: $19.98

What is it?:
As pretty much the only label determinedly releasing scores from before 1965, if not 1960 at this point, Kritzerland gets extra points for concentrating on the jazz scores of the Mad Men era, not only releasing such stalwarts as Elmer Bernstein (“The Rat Race”), but also such equally worthy composers as Adolph Deutsch (“The Apartment”) and Andre Previn (“Two for the Seesaw”). Now Kirtzerland has released two more wonderful scores that push past 70 minutes of listening with the era’s inimitable swing, one with an Asian accent, and the other packing the true improvisatory heart of the art form.

Why you should buy it?:
One thing that could be counted on actor John Cassavettes’ work as a filmmaker was his raw, uncompromising honesty, even when he went Hollywood for the first time with 1961s “Too Late Blues.” Having made the groundbreaking independent film “Shadows” and directed several episodes of his show “Johnny Staccato,” Cassavettes work was the cinematic equivalent of jazz, raw, smoke-filled and ultra cool. He’d inspire a hip combo of the lush studio “jazz” sound, and the real deal from David Raksin, the musician who’d had the ultimate noir romance hit with his theme for “Laura.” While there’s no lack of swelling come-hither strings and an erotic sax for Stella Stevens’ femme fatale who leads Bobby Darrin’s jazzman astray with dreams of the big time, “Blues” is more about the energy of a tight jazz ensemble than visiting a studio string session. You can practically cough on the smoke with the coffee house / Greenwich club sound of the Beat Generation that Raksin handles like the best sunglass-wearing cat. Ranging from solo piano to a bass and guitar licks and a swinging samba, “Too Late Blues” hits just about every note of what was really going on in The Scene. Particularly striking is how Raksin uses female vocalese to play his main theme, making for one of that instrument’s most interesting uses outside of the “Star Trek” opening title. While Raksin revels in the lush life, he honesty captures the dissatisfied, restless voice of “Blues’” antihero with a hot-cool combo of edge and attitude that makes for the power of the era where jazz really came into its own as an art form, which makes this album a must for both collectors and fans of jazz’s movie music distillation.

Extra Special:
1960s “The World of Suzie Wong” is a perfect follow-up to Kritzerland’s release of Franz Waxman’s “My Geisha,” a score full of charmingly symphonic Orientalisms. Here the focus switches from Japan to Hong Kong, where William Holden’s architect expatriate finds himself falling for Nancy Kwan’s hooker with a heart of gold – the kind of women westerners always try to turn to the straight and narrow in stories of this sort. Having played sizzling symphonic eroticism for Holden in “Picnic,” composer George Dunning takes a lighter, more romantic approach in the company of Suzie Wong Musical east meets west with delightfully expected results, mixing Asian instrumentation with a swooning orchestra as a relationship that starts with comic impossibility turns into more dramatically emotional stuff. Inflecting nearly every cue is the kind of wonderful themework that’s very much part of parcel of the era. But what sets this spectacular-sounding “Suzy” apart from being a lovely romantic travelogue is the fully Anglo jazz vibe of its source pieces, many of which show up on the album’s bonus tracks. There’s a brassy, big band swing to such standards as “Out of Nowhere,” and ”Sing You Sinners” while “I’m in the Mood for Love” gets a hilariously woozy Chinese riff, a musical Mai Tai hangover of the first order that’s among the many pleasures of Dunning’s den of sweet, Oriental sin.



They may have started off with the “The Sixth Sense.” But with one godawful M. Night Shyamalan movie after the next, the one thing you can be assured of is a very good score by his musical enabler James Newton Howard. His scoring always manages to make the absurdity that the director’s fallen into just a bit less goofy, whether it’s using solo violins to embody killer planets for “The Happening” or “Lady in the Water’s” rapturously symphonic fairy tale. While there’s no surprise that Howard has risen to the challenge with “After Earth,” it’s no small help to his soundtrack’s effectiveness that this is actually the first fairly decent Shyamalan movie in quite a while – despite the drubbing it was understandably bound to get. “Earth’s” effectiveness stems from Howard taking an intimate approach to what might otherwise be a gigantically scored sci-fi epic. While that visual, and symphonic scope is certainly here, “After Earth” stands as one of Howard’s more atypical and stripped down scores for a movie involving space ships and mutated beasts. He smartly emphasizes the real-life bond of father and son actors with a tender piano theme and strings that track the transition from scared kid to man-warrior. And with all sorts of creatures waiting to kill him in the terran jungle, Howard unleashes a virtual future zoo of menacing ethnic textures caught somewhere between an overrun African and Chinese landscape. “After Earth” is very much of an emotional rumble in this jungle, one that’s even more interesting, and effective when going for the big alien beast battle in the climax. Sure this might not be “Signs” for Shyamalan, but at least “After Earth” is a start back in the right direction, even if Howard has always been on sturdy musical ground all alone- terrain that he never fails to explore to interesting, powerful effect with “After Earth.”



Spinning out a groovily weird indie score beat with the likes of “Another Earth,” “28 Hotel Rooms” and “Nobody Walks,” the collective called Fall On Your Sword (otherwise known as Will Bates, doing that Daft Punk mask think on his company’s website) has managed to sound different with each soundtrack, especially when dealing with the dual horrors of killer fish and our government’s clandestine activities. Probably the wackiest, and perhaps creepiest musical-design treatment that a mega-piranha has yet gotten, “Beneath” uses teeth-scraping metallic effects and berserk buzzing, so much so that the score’s subject feels like it’s about a swarm of killer bees. There’s much cleverness to be had with a solitary rowboat of fresh young meat, from country-jazz to the real, chilling deal of a solo violin and off-kilter strings that capture the seemingly placid water. Sword’s score floats effectively on Graham Reznick’s “ambiences,” which often sounds like sonar on the prowl. “Beneath” might be a bit Avante garde in approach, but there’s certainly enough musical content with water-like harps and mournful voices to hook in adventurous listeners already out to snag the cool outer limits in sound design scores.

Sword’s electric sound is particularly apropos for “We Steal Secrets,” Alex Gibney’s documentary that reveals the ongoing saga of the secret-disseminating Wikileaks. Take a note from the repeating string rhythms and chamber violins of Philip Glass’ work, Swords’ pattering, throbbing modulations become the human ghost stealing from the machine. It’s high-tech suspense that’s as suitable for a conspiracy movie as it is a glo-stick rave, yet another Sword score that’s at the zeitgeist of soundtracks’ souped-up return to the futuristic synths that ruled back in the 80s. Here, they’re transformed here into rhythmically transfixing modulations that embody the sinister, sad calculations of power makers now getting their comeuppance through the audio-pulse of the social media.


Horner fans will have a field day with this complete presentation for the composer’s second stab at Jack Ryan, Intrada’s two-CD set offering a virtual checklist of everything that’s great about the composer’s unabashed symphonic sensibilities. “Danger” offers the heroic outrage in full swing, from a valorous main theme to another mournful take on a classical piece (here reprising Aram Khachaturian’s “Gayane Ballet Suite” after “Aliens”) and a organic-electronic mastery of world music – here tuned to the South American drug war. “Clear and Present Danger” was a welcome change of pace after Horner accompanied America’s favorite CIA analyst on a dreary chase with the IRA in “Patriot Games.” Given a plot based on still-current events, this franchise highpoint allowed for far more exciting opportunities for Horner to run with. This ersatz “greatest hits” compilation is the composer at the top of his suspense game with a thrillingly familiar arsenal that’s both blazingly patriotic and brimming with the darkness of national intelligence gone wrong. “Danger” offers three of Horner’s most dazzling set pieces, the exhilarating best being a near ten-minute “Ambush” which builds throttling, growling brass tension for a motorcade attack, the South American flute-percussion and orchestra finally exploding in a breathless run of van brake-punching for what stands as one of the most dynamic action sequences committed to film. “Greer’s Funeral / Betrayal,” uses outraged patriotism as a funeral is cross-cut with the politically expedient sacrifice of a military incursion force as Horner turns his score’s thundering national pride against itself. But when it comes to scoring two people typing on a computer, “Deleting the Evidence’s” swings between rhythmic pianos, percussive hits and explosive orchestral builds is a lesson in how to make a scene of two intelligence dweebs playing dueling computers into the musical equivalent of an epic battlefield charge, with Horner showing just how well here he can wave the flag while warning us against its unbridled “Danger.” When it comes to unleashing the full power of his trademarked style, that’s a great thing indeed.


If Blumhouse Productions is literally going to set every one of their movies in a house, then it’s likely their economically advantageous location choices won’t get creepier than the alien home invasion that rains down from “Dark Skies.” Infinitely scarier in every respect than the far more notoriously successful “Purge,” “Dark Skies” gains no small share of its effectivenes from Joseph Bishara’s surprisingly restrained, but no less imaginative score. Taking a completely different direction from the violent demonic antics he’d conjured for “Insidious” (in which he played one such creature), “Dark Skies” is the semi-musical approximation of the evil signals that beam down from the heavens to make an E.T.-afflicted family’s life living hell. While this score mostly falls under the domain of musical sound effects on that count, there’s real imagination to Bishara’s soul-piercing tonalities, and more melodically aching use of spare strings. Bishara’s score manages to possess the hallways of a suburban residence with evil musical expressionism that haunted The Overlook Hotel in “The Shining’s” soundtrack. Glistening bells also recall the ambience that filled the halls of “Blade Runner’s” Bradbury Building for extra measure. Where many horror scores today are about scaring the bejesus out of you with as much sound as possible, Bishara’s hypnotic, utterly chilling spareness for “Dark Skies” does infinitely more with less.


It’s almost disarming how pleasant John Piscitello’s documentary score is when you think that it’s for a Holocaust movie about Ukrainian Jews who find shelter, and safety from the Holocaust in the bowels of a giant, utterly dark cave. While Piscitello evokes the string-shivering danger of the depths these survivors are reduced to, the main feeling that “Earth” evokes is a hauntingly beautiful nostalgia for a past, an innocence that can’t be reclaimed. Think of this gently melodic score as the visions that these people see in the dark, tonal visualizations light and love of homes and friends taken by the Nazis. And given a real life adventure that no one wanted to take, “Place’s” strong, questing sense of piano-driven strings also evokes the determination to make it back into the world above, bringing gripping comparisons to the similarly ominous work of Howard Shore on a somewhat lighter day. As vividly striking, and lyrical as documentary scores come, “No Place On Earth” reveals notable talent in Piscitello’s evocative work.


Olivier Derivière’s name first dealt with amnesia in his videogame soundtrack for 2008s “Alone In the Dark,” where a memory-wiped tough guy battled demons in an apocalyptic NYC. Now he’s back in who-am-I style for Nilin, an acrobatic ass-kicker from 2084 Neo-Paris that really levels up for this French musician with his new game score for “Remember Me.” As Nilin seeks to reclaim her past while re-arranging the memories of others, Derivière comes up with a striking approach that might be best described as a trip-hop spin on Don Davis’ scores for “The Matrix” series. Here it’s given a brighter symphonic sound for a more pleasant dystopia, a swirling sense of wonder that also brings to mind Eric Serra’s gleeful orchestra approach in playing future Manhattan for the French-made “Fifth Element.” With an orchestra as full of depth as this colorful cityscape, Derivière gives his action an uncommon sense of bold, melodic construction. But just when you’ve got a grip on the kind of music that neo-punk heroes do their best moves to, Derivière brings in reversed-synth effects to stop the music dead in its track, warping and modeling it in much the same fashion as Nilin to bend musical time and space. Rock and electronics seamlessly combine with the strings, with weird theremin-like samples that might make some listeners think that a 70s-era Tardis is about to appear. But while past sci-fi state of the art scores are apparent, memorable “Remember Me,” is mostly about Derivière picking up his own mental clues to create an exhilarating start-and-stop action score, warping about with a constant sense of invention and excitement that rivals just about any big screen genre score this year.


Nate Walcott (of the group Bright Eyes) and Mike Mogis go from the elderly, ironically enchanted vibe of the excellent Alzheimer’s film “Lovely, Still” to this far younger-skewing picture about a romantic roundelay of a writer’s family, producing “Love’s” score as well as its indie-centric songs. “At Your Door” (featuring Big Harp) has an fun, determined bounce, while teaming with Friends of Gemini for the similarly upbeat “Somersaults in Spring.” Other tunes range from the meh strumming of Conor Oberst’s “You Are Your Mother’s Child” to the likewise indistinct rock of Polkadot’s “Like Pioneers” to pretty good 80s English beat-style “Will You Be By Me” by Wallpaper Airplanes and the charmingly folksy “A Mountain, A Peak” by Bill Ricchini. But no song here can match the poetry of the classic Elliot Smith strum-song “Between the Bars.” When it comes to the instrumentals, Walcott and Mogis has the contemplative, guitar and keyboard-driven alt. sound down, their rhythms varying between contemplation and rocking energy, no more sweetly than when employing bells and an organ. The characters might be “Stuck,” but the album certainly isn’t whether you’re looking for songs, or score, with “Love delivering pleasantly on both counts.


A prolific Canadian composer whose most popular film might still be his scoring debut out of the slasher gate with 1982s “Visiting Hours,” Jonathan Goldsmith has since written far more delicate works, especially for director Sarah Polley on “Away From Her” and “Stories We Tell.” There’s a real feminine sensitivity to the actress-turned-filmmaker’s work, a tenderness that Goldsmith captures with surreal enchantment for the exceptional romantic drama “Take This Waltz.” As Polley depicts the slow, sensual burn towards a marriage-ending affair, Goldsmith captures her breathless anticipation with music box bells and the light tap of a piano, graced with muted strings and samples that gasp with eroticism. “Waltz’s” score isn’t so much of a dance as its cues are a series of small, ethereal steps towards a long-awaited consummation. Goldsmith’s transfixing chamber sound has a spare, melancholy quality reminiscent of Arvo Part’s tone poems, while enchanting with its strange, melodic uniqueness that’s also nicely thematic. Fuller strings arrive as “Waltz’s” journey of self-discovery finally bears fruit, disarming any sense of forbidden sin that a male filmmaker would’ve likely given this story. Corinna Rose and the Rusty Horse Band provide a lovely, hopeful song for whatever may come the character’s way with the folksy harmonica and guitar rhythm of “Green Mountain State,” give “Waltz’s” album an especially effective capper to the instrumental wistfulness before it.


As a composer with a sensibility as rhythmic as it is eccentrically loopy, Devotchka’s Nick Urata has captured the ups and downs of adult relationships with such charming scores as “Crazy, Stupid, Love” “Ruby Sparks” and “Arthur Newman.” What makes “What Maise Knew” particularly striking is how gentle Urata is in his approach, but no less ironic as he evokes a children’s sensibility to depict a little girl who’s caught in a tug of war between her divorced parents and their new amours. It’s an “Alice in Wonderland” approach where a fantasia of bells, gentle pianos, halting strings and a lulling female voice, make for an island of lullabye innocence where no mean adult sensibility dare intrude. In that respect, “Maise’s” blissfulness that couldn’t be more knowing. And as a listen, it’s hard to imagine a lyrical soundtrack that’s better to put on to get a kid to sleep at bedtime, which is no small complement to Urata’s accordion-topped charms. While Lucy Schwartz contributes the soothing “Feeling of Being,” the only indication that this G-rated album is for an R-film is when Urata yields to star Jullianne Moore, who accompanies The Kills for “Hook and Line” and “Night Train.” Playing a rock and roll mom, Moore shows herself a punk at the ready as she angrily powers in Joan Jett fashion through these numbers that give “Maise” an unexpected punk kick.


Sure Marco Beltrami scored the first movie in zombie history that elicited a tear-jerking lump in one’s throat instead of ripping it out. But just because Beltrami did such a great job on the simillarly terrific “Warm Bodies,” don’t think the guy behind “Scream,” “Hellboy” and “The Thing” has gone all soft and emo on us. as “World War Z” shows with music-gnashing global destruction. Imagine ten thousand Ghost Faces piling on top of each other to make mincemeat out of humanity, and you’ll hear the relentless, rhythmic rage that’s made Beltrami the go-to guy for horror scoring. There’s tons of symphonic sound and fury as dark, melodic masses of brass and strings wreak havoc in Beltrami’s inimitable style. While he might thankfully not try to play any ethnic feeling for the locations that Brad Pitt (playing the luckiest son of a bitch on Earth) jets to in hopes of finding a cure for the zombie onslaught, Beltrami adds plenty of striking flourishes, including angry rock guitar energy and the eerie samples of an unknowable, and possibly science-induced plague, as well kind of sonic booms that are all the rage now- with shuddering power that would make Megatron panic. Not only does Beltrami’s music have to serve as one of the major engines that powers “World War Z,” but it also has to play the dual demands of being horror-action, and providing an R-rated bite for a movie that conspicuously avoids being too ghastly to secure it’s PG13. Having done an impressive job with “Live Free Or Die Hard,” Beltrami knows the bashing percussion it takes for this level of destruction, one that’s just slightly less nihilistic than “Knowing.” Yet thankfully there are peaks and valleys to “World War Z,” with effective, orchestrally emotional detours that make the journey personal. While the score is mostly about OMG terror for “Z’s” first half, the second, far more intimate part of the film allows Beltrami to do an equally impressive job generating more elongated, pulsing suspense as we prowl about a research facility’s corridors, until the score will of course run like hell once more. But whether the music is scrambing full bore at the listener, or shuffling about as it waits to attack, Beltrami’s on his A-game here. His evocation of “World War Z” is never busy music, conjuring both jagged panic and enough smooth melodic content to put a jaw-dropping human face on a castrophe beyond imagination. “World War Z” can proudly stand as one of the alpha-omegas in Beltrami’s genre repertoire, delivering on the shocks and excitement in unreservedly bloody fashion for a blockbuster that’s more concerned with the epic instead of the ewww.


As every western from “Ulanza’s Gold” to “Jeremiah Johnson” has proven, two big no-no’s for the white man is to go crazy for precious minerals, let alone violate a sacred Indian burial ground. Both are done in spades for the indie oater “Yellow Rock,” as a well-intentioned search party spins out of control with greed to the accompaniment of a vengeful, straight-arrow score by Randy Miller. An underrated, orchestral composer for such films as “Hellraiser III,” “Without Limits” and TV movie spins on “Darkman” and “Firestarter,” Miller has always put impressive thematic muscle into his work. His talent is especially potent while traversing “Yellow Rock’s” badlands. With a stormy main theme that gallops in with no-nonsense determination, Miller unleashes the western score mainstays of strings, guitar, horns, imposing drums and rattlesnake percussion in a way that isn’t about to wink at itself. And with Native Americans thankfully the good guys, Miller plays up the warriors’ bravery with bird-whistle flutes and indigenous rhythms that shows the tribe’s clear-cut heroism and nobility. However, while Miller captures their inherent spiritual peace, his music is just as ready to shout with a war cry. While Intrada might soon be putting out Hans Zimmer’s “The Lone Ranger,” it’s nice to see that the label is giving a shot to a smaller score like “Yellow Rock.” Sure this might not be for a Bruckheimer epic, but damn if Randy Miller isn’t gunning to get every bit of production value for a soundtrack that’s impressively hell-bent for the bloodily melodic glitter of gold.

CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Buysoundtrax, Intrada, iTunes, Kritzerland, Screen Archives and Varese Sarabande

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