Soundtrack Month: “Imaginaerum” (Tuomas Holopainen)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ofx7LzWdHqQ&list=PLqk_JOBZMYvEeLvs6cvlb2hu3Z7qGLplH A score for a small-budget movie you’re sure to have missed unless you follow Nightwish, frontman Tuomas Holopainen finally got a chance to flex the full strength of his orchestral muscles with this project. Nightwish has long been known for broad, sweeping sounds and epic flavors (I can count the metal bands I listen [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Breach” (Mychael Danna)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iOY6-BzCGg&list=PLaonpgurJ7RVD4Mj0fcqFXX-1jbii08Zi Breach is an understated gem, both as a movie and a score. While the film can be quite tense at times, its soundtrack mostly reflects the plotting, devious side of a spy gone awry. Mychael Danna is a master of methodical, swelling orchestral arrangements, foreboding harp introductions, and angsty piano solos (quite a lot [...]

Soundtrack Month: “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [The Complete Recordings]” (Howard Shore

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F_OH_hX6MY&list=PL99D96766C5C05441 This probably appears to be an excessively obvious choice, but it’s still worth considering if you really haven’t listened to it yet. The Lord of the Rings trilogy had some of the longest soundtracks in recent years. In an age when a 100-minute movie is considered long, only Bollywood soundtracks boast a longer average [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Dragon Age: Inquisition” (Trevor Morris)

Fantasy RPG games always run the risk of being too abstract or too dense to be approachable. Yet some well-wrought character development and a knockout soundtrack kept the world of Thedas grounded and more than a little palatable in this third installment. Trevor Morris (yes, his second appearance on this blog this month) managed to [...]

Soundtrack Month – “Skyrim Atmospheres” (Jeremy Soule)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUfvMZuKU8c How do you easily sum up a fantasy game world as expansive as The Elder Scrolls? You don’t. While the franchise was always known for a staggering (and occasionally unmanageable) amount of objectives, quests, and hidden surprises, Skyrim was especially praised for its landscapes and free-form world. Seven years after its initial release, it [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Serenity” (David Newman)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unrD3b129P8&list=PLKnjrif5pVKdFL_Qi5__SN1nObwby3BRq Serenity was the sobering epilogue to Joss Whedon’s fun but short-lived Firefly TV series. The music is a bit more reflective than the show’s was, but it still has a decently gritty, spunky, and achingly melancholic Old West feeling. This one is perfect for those of you who want structure without excessive formality.  

Soundtrack Month: “The Golden Compass” (Alexandre Desplat)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iuu2CTQo-Lw&list=PLOe4317hNRKIuKbdt42cxmXgXjLicD3hw While The Golden Compass as a movie made some disruptive and dividing waves among viewers, the soundtrack is delightful. I don’t always understand Alexandre Desplat’s music (especially when  the moments in this score when an army of pianists play through a section at the same time – talk about organized chaos!), but the balance [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (Nicholas Hooper)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21Nk5-Pszno&list=PL37B12F0DC4E243EC Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has a strange place in both the film  franchise and book series. Gone is the startled, biting darkness that Order of the Phoenix so masterfully covered. Harry and those around him are both grimly resolved to fight chaos and irrecoverably entrenched in teen angst. The movie’s overall vibe [...]

John Williams – “Ollivander’s Wand Shop (Harry Gets His Wand)”

One of the most charming, exhilarating, and important moments in this classic movie was inexplicably shunned from the soundtrack release. In some ways, the mysteriousness oozing from this 2-minute track is better than the rest of the album combined. Just see for yourself... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQdMx42KGqk

Joseph Trapanese and M83 – “Waking Up”

While the growling brass at the beginning is irksome, this song unfolds into a fine, rhythmic meditation with plenty of driving strings but no jarring "adrenaline buzz" moments. Sometimes, you need a song that literally pushes you forward, and this one might just do the trick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsHKZCmps-w      

Epic Trailer Album: “Magnus” (Audiomachine)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBaHVEQ4wW0 At the rate they generate new material, Audiomachine is, well, practically a machine. Their music is primarily used for advertising and movie trailers, but rumors abound that they have increasingly made more music for the sake of music since the epic trailer genre gained momentum several years ago. Their albums usually have plentiful tracks [...]

Game soundtrack: “Halo 3: ODST” (Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a33iI6xfld0 For an inexplicable reason, many soundtracks in shooter games of the last decade have either leaned into strong rock sound or thoughtful, delicate, semi-choral, rather ambient ones. ODST somehow merges the two. While not without harsh rocker moments, it’s mostly a gorgeous and meandering playlist full of excellent harmonies, sweet piano solos, and gentle [...]

Junkie XL – “Erudite Plan”

I think people are still a little puzzled why someone who can write a song like this would choose to go by a name as generic as Junkie XL. Nevertheless, the Divergent score has a number of solid ambient/atmospheric tracks with tight arrangements and graceful mixing, including this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuDZf-fnXPg