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SCORE! Top 20 Film Scores of 2012 (pt. 2)

Happy New Year! It’s 2013 but we’re not quite done looking back at 2012, with our year-end Top 20 Film Score Countdown. We’re moving now into even more emotional territory – exploring sounds which will surely stir your soul!

15.) ÉsimésacMichel Corriveau

Ésimésac

I don’t know much about this French film by Director (and Starship Enterprise captain) Luc Picard, and the un-subtitled trailer doesn’t help matters much either. What I do know is that it seems to be a visually stunning fable about a magical village. And that the soundtrack, which I found on emusic entirely by chance, kicks a whole lot of ass. Lyrical, beautiful, it’s simply a well crafted piece of music the whole way through, with intertwining melodies full of guitars, piano, the whole shebang. Emminently listenable without having even seen the film, it’s an emotional journey which conjures all sorts of fantastic feelings. Let’s hope the visuals live up to the music!

Here’s the opening track, “Sur ses épaules”:

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Here’s track 3, “Marie”:

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14.) Der AusflugBeat Solèr

Der Ausflug

More music from a film I haven’t seen or even know much about, with another (this time German) un-subtitled #” target=”_blank”>trailer to pique our interest. This tale of a family’s disastrous trip into the woods by Mathieu Seiler is a low-budget affair, making the soundtrack even more important – since ambiance and mood can heighten production value and make any film look great. Enter Beat Solér, who’s crafted a dark and ominous fairy tale score full of gongs, dissonant piano trills, ethereal vocals and steady low end strings – but plenty of beautiful passages too, which we know from Prokofiev‘s Peter and the Wolf is a perfect way to build tension: when the melody is sweet you can just sense something terrible lurking beneath. Not the scariest score of the year (Christopher Young’s Sinister score is scary to the point of being nearly un-listenable) but very good, especially if you enjoy synthy low-key Goblin fare from the 70’s.

Here’s track 1, “Der Ausflug Main Theme”:

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Here’s track 8, “Enter the Forest”:

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13.) End of WatchDavid Sardy

End of Watch

The score to David Ayer‘s End of Watch opens with Public Enemy‘s awesome “harder than you think,” a hard anthem to follow, but composer Sardy is up to the task, with a score full of muscular riffs breaking down into fragile piano before exploding again, emulating the start-stop suspenseful nature of this fantastic film. Percussion melds with electronics to create a ticking time bomb of adrenaline you’d expect from a Muse or Tool album, and even at just over 20 minutes of original material (complete with Joshua Homme‘s accompanying vocals on the last track) it leaves you emotionally exhausted. Lots of 2012 scores did this “warped industrial” sound well – from Paul Leonard Morgan‘s Dredd to tomandandy‘s Resident Evil: Retribution – but there’s a quality which elevates David Sardy’s score and earns it a place on our list.

Here’s track 2, “I Am the Police”:

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Here’s track 6, “Heroes”:

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12.) Get the GringoAntonio Pinto

Get the Gringo

This time it’s obscure 60’s rock band Ten Years After‘s “50,000 Beneath My Brain” that sets the tone, and composer Antonio Pinto who follows up with a fantastic score to Adrian Grunberg‘s Get the Gringo. If you enjoy Joe Strummer‘s score to Alex Cox‘s Walker, Ry Cooder‘s spare guitar on Wim WendersParis, Texas and Neil Young‘s atmospheric Dead Man score for Jim Jarmusch you’ll love this low-key affair, peppered with a variety of guitars, tempo shifts, percussive nuances and the occasional echoey reverb. But if you’re like the many haters on Amazon who expected this to be a compilation of tunes more like track 2, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs‘ “Padre Nuestro,” you’ll want to move along.

Here’s track 4, “Driver Sets Fire”:

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Here’s track 12, “Sunny Day in Mexico”:

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11.) HaywireDavid Holmes

Haywire

For the score to his controversial and star-studded flick starting MMA fighter-turned actress Gina Carano, Steven Soderbergh enlisted David Holmes, a name familiar to anyone around in the late 90’s (his Let’s Get Killed was on record store end-caps everywhere). Many were turned off by the film’s seemingly in-congruent minimalistic aesthetic and slow pace, but I found it enjoyable, in large part due to the music. Bass-heavy and incredibly funky, it’s propelled by a driving beat and filled with little nuances – like bass clarinet, warped electronics, and voices buried deep in the background. It’s an ironic and self-aware piece of music, nodding heavily towards its influences – from lifting the Western genre’s rattlesnake-percussion to borrowing Italian crime score elements (the work of Riz Ortolani springs to mind) and of course quoting funky keyboards and guitars from old-school Blaxploitation flicks – all in all it sounds like an updated J.J. Johnson‘s Across 110th Street, full of brass and a robust horn section. Give it a spin and see what you think!

Here’s track 9, The Drive Rossbourgh”:

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Here’s track 10, “Looking for Clues”:

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And so concludes part 2 of our celebration of the sounds of 2012. Check out part 1 here and tune in for part 3 on Friday – and check out last years’ countdown as well as the ridiculously ambitious and highly subjective countdown that started it all – our Top 150 scores of all time!
 
And be sure to leave us a comment telling us your favorite score of the year!
 
Ooh-ooh! Almost forgot! We also posted a list of our 100 favorite albums of 2012 here!
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January 2, 2013   No Comments

SCORE! The 150 greatest OST’s – pt. 8 (of 15)

80.) Gothic (1986) – Thomas Dolby

Ken Russell directs the fictionalized account of the much-ballyhooed night that Mary Shelley gave birth to the horror classic Frankenstein at Lord Byron’s manor. Ghost stories, personal horrors, fantasies and drug-induced nightmares come to life as sweet Mary is tempted by the sexual appetites of her lover Shelley and cousin Claire, while holding sway over all the evil Lord Byron toys with his guest’s souls. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, and Natasha Richardson in her feature film debut as Mary Shelley, with a soundtrack by 80’s electronics whiz Thomas Dolby. Here’s track 5, “Party Games”:

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and track 6, “Gypsy Girl”:

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79.) Sin Nombre (2009) – Marcelo Zarvos

Written and directed by Cary Fukunaga, this film tells the stories of those seeking a better life for themselves on the trains bound for the US, as their hopes and dreams clash with the realities involved in smuggling them in. The soundtrack is somber and beautiful, full of pulsing accordion, probing guitar, and mournful strings. Here’s track 1, “The Journey”:

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and track 3, “Vera Cruz”:

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78.) Conan the Barbarian (1982) - Basil Poledouris

John Milius and Oliver Stone wrote this adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s adventure stories, which Milius directs, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones and Max von Sydow. It tells the story of the eponymous warrior searching for the evil sorcerer and leader of the Snake Cult, Thulsa Doom, the man responsible for the death of his parents. Basil Poledouris’ soundtrack is a classic, perfect for a testosterone-fueled quest for vengeance. Here’s the Prologue, narrated by the legendary Mako, which leads into “Anvil of Crom”:

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and track 6, “Theology / Civilization”:

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77.) Yellow Canary (1963) – Kenyon Hopkins

Buzz Kulik directs this Rod Serling-penned mystery which stars Pat Boone as a nightclub singer whose child is kidnapped and Barbara Eden (of TV’s I Dream of Jeannie) as his wife, with Jack Klugman as the Lieutenant in charge of the investigation. 20 years ago you’d know who all these people were. All you need to know is that the soundtrack, by Kenyon Hopkins, is full of some of the best, coolest jazz you’ve never heard. Here’s track 5, “The Spindrift”:

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and track 10, “The Menace”:

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76.) Le Passager de la Pluie [Rider on the Rain] (1970) – Francis Lai

René Clément, avid Hitchcock admirer, directs fan favorite Charles Bronson in this mystery set on the French Riviera, in which a woman shoots and kills a masked man who rapes her, dumps his body, and then out of nowhere meets a man who seems to know all about what she’s done. Bronson and co-star Marlène Jobert’s chemistry is palpable, and the odd artsy tone is not unlike the director’s own Purple Noon. Francis Lai, better known for his A Man and A Woman theme, delivers his best score ever. Here’s track 2, “Dobb’s Dualite”:

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and track 20, “Theme Mellie”:

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75.) Beetlejuice (1988) – Danny Elfman

Tim Burton’s classic horror/comedy/fantasy stars Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as a recently deceased couple who need to exorcise the living (played by Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones and Winona Ryder) and enlist the aid of Michael Keaton’s title character to do so. It features one of prolific composer Danny Elfman’s most complete scores, full of kooky chanting, crashing crescendos, and a hint of calypso. Here’s track 2, “Travel Music”:

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and track 19, “End Credits”:

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74.) Stone (1974) - Billy Green

Sandy Harbutt stars in and directs this cult film about the Grave Diggers, a bike club whose members are being murdered one by one. Full of nudity, violence, gore and motorcycle stunts, Stone stars several actors who would later make up the core of George Miller’s Mad Max. It’s a low budget, dated exploitation movie, but like other cult Australian films (Stunt Rock, The Man From Hong Kong) it’s got that unique Aussie brand of fun (check out Mark Hartley’s Not Quite Hollywood for more info). The soundtrack is eclectic and zany, full of didgeridoos, funky wah-wah, and even some crazy banjo, like on track 2, “Septic”:

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and track 12, “Stone”:

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73.) Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) – Marc Wilkinson

Piers Haggard directs this low-budget horror film set in 17th century England about a farmer who unearths inhuman, fur-covered remains that seem to cause the townsfolk commit horrific acts, and may have something to do with the satanic rituals the town children begin performing in a desecrated church in the woods. Atmospheric and beautifully shot, the performances are strong, including Patrick Wymark’s, who died soon after. The soundtrack is creepy and elegant, befitting such a sophisticated take on witchcraft. Here’s track 9, “Mark Alone”:

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and track 21, “Ralph Chops Tree”:

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72.) Les Gants Blancs Du Diable (1973) – Karl-Heinz Schäfer

Karl Heinz Schäfer’s moody, psychedelic score for László Szabó’s rarely seen crime drama (which translates to White Gloves of the Devil) features some inventive instrumentation and is a mixture of soothing and startling sounds that make me wonder what the movie which accompanies them might be like. You can do the same as you listen to track 1, “La Victime”:

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and track 3, “Kidnapping”:

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and track 7, “La Couleur Des Yeux”:

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71.) Himalaya (1999) – Bruno Coulais

Eric Valli directs this tale of an aging Nepalese chief whose only son dies returning from Tibet’s salt lakes, and who blames Karma, his son’s friend, for the death, refusing to make him the new chief in his son’s place. What follows is a battle of wills and a glimpse into the inner politics of a group we don’t get to see much, all set to the sounds of traditional singing arranged by Coulais. It was a difficult choice, as I also love his soundtrack to Coraline, but this score got the nod for it’s sheer unadulterated beauty. Here’s track 6, “The Night”:

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and track 9, “The Songs”:

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and track 11, “Karma”:

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Click to see part 1 (OST’s #141-150) , part 2 (131-140),  part 3 (121-130), part 4 (111-120), part 5 (101-110), part 6 (91-100), part 7 (81-90), part 8 (71-80), part 9 (61-70), part 10 (51-60), part 11 (41-50), part 12 (31-40), part 13 (21-30), part 14 (11-20) and part 15 (1-10).

October 11, 2010   No Comments

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