By Charlie Brigden
Wolf Creek 2
I was a fan of Wolf Creek; John Jarratt's Mick Taylor was a savage killer who, even with the uncomfortable misogyny, stood out as a different kettle of fish from most horror killers at the time. Now he's back with a score from Johnny Klimek and a dose of needledrop that makes me think he's skipped directly over the tricky homophobic first sequel and gone directly for camp Freddy territory.
Klimek's score is sadly lacking a didgeridoo (probably for the best given recent news events) and is made up of the usual string swells and stings to the point where you wonder if there's an instruction manual somewhere. There's some decent music which I assume is to illustrate the wonder of the outback, but it's short-lived. Also, the album breaks the sixth rule of soundtracks: spoilers, as one of the tracks is named "_________ Funeral". Maybe it's not needed for a film like this, but still, watch it Klimek. I'm not sure I can fault Klimek's score that much given the type of film it's for, but it's not a very enthralling listen. This is emphasised by the choice of songs that come after the score that sound like they belong from a movie starring Ernest P. Worrall. The Tokens' 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' opens proceedings, and following it are songs from Steppenwolf (you know the one), Patsy Cline, as well as The Blue Danube. Does Mick listen to Strauss while making his victims into heads on a stick?
Wolf Creek 2 is out now from Lakeshore Records
It's funny how sometimes you don't hear about things in your own country until they're successful somewhere else. Strike Back is a case in point, a more action-orientated version of Spooks that follows a fictional MI6 offshoot, like a British A-Team. The music is by Scott Shields, formerly of Glaswegian hard rock band GUN, and is unsurprisingly very hard and very rocking.
The first thing you hear will be a bit of a misnomer, as it's the main title song 'Short Change Hero' by UK band The Heavy, but don't let that upset you as it's very cool, especially with the spaghetti western opening. The score itself is very good, absolutely fuelled by heavy guitar but with a lot of groove in there, with a fusion of low-key melodies and electronics with ethnic instrumentation and percussion. If that sounds a bit like Black Hawk Down then it's not a surprise; Shields composed music for that picture. But here it's a lot more focused and really just wails quite a lot, in a good way (like AC/DC wail). The album is constructed well, and there's enough variety here for it not to get boring over fifty-one minutes. Enjoyable.
Strike Back is out now from Varese Sarabande
Few people write music as beautiful as Rachel Portman's, and Belle is no exception. Inspired by a painting from 1779, the film is a period piece about a young mixed-race illegimate daughter of a naval officer in a time where slavery was still ongoing. Despite the seriousness of this, Portman's score is not a hard listen, quite the opposite.
In fact, it's wonderful. Gorgeous. Of course, Portman's music is rarely anything but, however Belle is a special case. Running through the score is this tiny little delicate piano motif that morphs into stirring strings, and it seems likely a metaphor for the title character, but to go a bit cliche, it's just achingly beautiful. In fact, the whole thing is, and the album is a very good length at just over forty minutes. The ending of the album is especially strong, I'm listening to it now and I'm getting misty at how good this is. Just beautiful.
Belle is out now from Varese Sarabande
Well this is an odd one. I thought my lovelist of PR folk (that's you, Beth) had her wires crossed when she sent this over, but it turns out that while the Colin Firth remake of the Michael Caine 60s heist flick was released in 2012 here in the UK, it's only just come out in the US as a direct-to-video movie.
Given that it's a remake of a film that came from an era that had a defined musical style, you'd think Rolfe Kent's score would try and distance itself as much as possible. But nope, here's a bunch of jazzy fun spy caper tunes with a healthy dose of cheesy country (yup). It's a lot of fun, especially with take-offs of Henry Mancini and the like, but it gets tired after a while - and the country stuff is terrible (there are three tracks of country music by someone called Robby Armstrong that is just unbearable). It's an okay one-time listen but I wouldn't recommend a purchase.
Gambit is out now from Lakeshore Records