♪ Something We Heard Today

Image for div sizing

Once upon a time, there was a film called Sucker Punch. There’s no more to that story, because the film was pretty dang sucky (how on earth do you make a film featuring kick-ass women and robots so dang boring), but there is certainly a good takeaway from it, in the form of this tune.

I am a pretty big fan of the original song, which usually spells doom for any subsequent cover version, but this is quite delightful. It takes an already fairly psychedelic song and gives it a kind of Massive Attack style aura, to which I cannot say no!

Tagged under: ,

Something We Heard Before

This song popped into my head this morning for some reason, and I felt that given the mood of Sydney (where I’m based) this week, it seems ideal.

This is quite the lovely little song from Australian group Axiom. Though that name is perhaps not particularly well known in Australia, it was the progenitor of Little River Band being as how Glenn Shorrock and Brian Cad were both members of it. So kick on back and ride out the week with just a little more joy.

Tagged under: , ,

Did you stop after reading one of my posts and think “This is brilliant, but I sure wish he wasn’t so gosh-danged silly with his writing! And also, I wish the writing was about video games and movies and stuff”. Then, my friend, you are overflowing with luck today! Perhaps you ought to buy yourself a lottery ticket, or gamble away your life savings?

Yes, it’s true: I have other websites. I am an internet whore, apparently. A redesigned version of Invert-x has just gone live with a post about the film this here track was written for! Isn’t that exciting? Anyway, that post is all serious and full of crazy words like ‘magnum opus’, whereas this post is all about how this track sounds kind of heroic and also sad and also metallic-y as well (because it’s a film about robots). Enjoy!

Tagged under:

I do love ethereal electronica: it kind of skirts the area between downtempo and electronic by creating a hazy blend of the two. Much like how this post is a hazy blend of coherent, grammatically correct english and the wild ramblings of an alcoholic. Fortunately, this tune isn’t as rubbish as that combination.

There are songs that don’t ask to be listened to as such, but instead take you somewhere. A warm, comfortable and safe place within yourself, person with the person you love – a universal theme, but awfully intimate at the same time. It is a nice place to be! It reminds me of DAVIDS Dead Walkie, which gives off a similar kind of aura.

Tagged under: ,

Sometimes, I bemoan our tagging system. Mostly because I’m no good at categorising music, but sometimes because I want to tag music with “intimate” or “haunting”, which would ensure that the amount of tags on the website would eclipse the amount of posts in a matter of minutes.

Here is Oh Wonder, a London-based songwriting duo who are cranking out a song a month for a year. Their output so far would certainly fit the hypothetical tags that I mentioned earlier, though I would also add “beautifully sad”, “upliftingly melancholic” and “wrap yourself up in something warm and wile away a day to it”. Quite lovely.

Tagged under:

Anyone who knows me would’ve known that this piece would close out our week of John Williams music. The quintessential theme to the quintessential film, The Raiders March is a glorious and aurally stupendous composition that perfectly captures the dynamism and vitality of the 1930s adventure serials that Spielberg was emulating.

The theme is every bit as iconic as Indiana’s fedora and whip, and bustling with their aura of allure and grandeur. It paints the portrait of a rugged hero much in the same way that the Superman theme does, only without the camp – spirited, determined, and with a fierceness that in no way diminishes its warmth. To say that this theme (and soundtrack) is perfectly matched to its subject is a truly colossal understatement, as I’ve still yet to come across a composition and film as beautifully paired together as this.

Tagged under:

I am, perhaps, a sentimental fool for thinking that Hook is one of Spielberg’s criminally underrated films. Telling the story of a grown-up Peter Pan returning to Neverland to rescue his children, it is a hearty and wonderfully whimsical romp filled with a fantastic cast, sets, and of course, music. It sees Williams at his most familial and spirited – a child-like sense of adventure and joy. This piece represents the final confrontation between Pan, the Lost Boys and the pirates, switching between the various themes for the pirates as well as Pan’s motif.

Everything about the film and its soundtrack harks to a time where so-called family films were not as formulaic as the majority of them are today. Williams did not compose a soundtrack with this kind of vigour until Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and even that didn’t compare to his output for Hook. Listening to this soundtrack and re-watching the film is an experience that can only be looked at with fondness: an opportunity to reawaken the joys of childhood, and a reverence for a time (and even actors) lost.

Tagged under:

Jurassic Park is one of the earliest films I can recall watching in my youth. As child, every aspect of this film was magical and enchanting, as trite as that sounds – to see what looked to be real dinosaurs in the way they were portrayed in the film was exhilaratingly terrifying, further cementing my (and most children’s) deep fascination with these almost incomprehensible creatures that once roamed our earth.

John Williams managed to squeeze two very memorable motifs into the film, both of which are contained within this piece. The first is a gentle and beautifully majestic introduction to the concept of the titular park. It gives its inhabitants a sense of wonderment, grounding their almost alien-like presence in the modern world with a naturalness and comforting warmth. In this regard, the dinosaurs are rendered beyond the speculative realm of imagination and given status as real and present – they belong to this world.

The second motif swells from the previous movement at the 4:29 mark to give strength and pride to the park and its creatures. It empowers and uplifts, granting a sweeping legitimacy to the seemingly impossible idea of a wildlife park inhabited by extinct creatures. It’s a motif that, appropriately enough, isn’t recalled often in the film (given how the story plays out), but it’s quite possibly the most iconic composition the film offers.

Tagged under:

I have yet to come across a piece of music that is as equally uplifting, heroic and iconic as it is utterly and joyously camp. Everything about Williams’ Superman theme is a glorious delight, one that revels in the bombastic Americana of a sole man devoted to one-upping the evils of the world. It embraces the fantastical pride that a figure like Superman is intended to instil: equal parts charm and playfulness. It is a truly unique thing for a piece of music to be equally suited to an ideal of heroism and inspiration as it is for comedic purposes.

While the prelude in this particular piece is less recognisable than the pitched version used in subsequent recordings (and featured later in the march), the timpani and bass strings that introduces the march at the 1:12 mark create a perfect aura of anticipation: the aural equivalent of a stage curtain, ready to be raised to the rafters. The theme itself explodes from this build-up triumphantly, with the brass section heralding the arrival of the Man of Steel. As a theme, it is buoyant, spirited and majestic, intentionally composed and played to a somewhat ludicrous standard of heroism – one cannot help but grin as it takes hold.

Tagged under:

Given this film’s subject matter, Williams’ usual vigour and pomp was obviously inappropriate. As a result, the soundtrack for Schindler’s List is defined by a serene sense of muted beauty. The various themes are carried by lone instruments, a violin in most circumstances, in a way that highlights the horrors of the German concentration camps in a far more personal manner, rather than merely the ruthless statistics they produced.

There is a simplicity and elegance to this piece that still manages to deftly convey the inner turmoil and despair that Schindler portrays in the film. Its compositional simplicity belies the emotional depth of the experience, a descriptor that could, perhaps, be applied to virtually all of Williams’ output – the ability to hone in and truly access the emotions of the listener (be they excitement, joy, trepidation, and so on) is the mark of a master composer. While this may seem like the least ‘Williams-esque’ of his scores, the fact it manages to strike those emotional chords in such an effective way certainly stamps it with his everlasting seal.

Tagged under:

There is a failing with many scores written for action sequences in that they merely perform a perfunctory mirroring of the action onscreen. Granted, it is perhaps the intent of such scores to be this simplistic, but listening to them outside the context of the film they’re meant to accompany proves to be a deeply monotonous affair. Not so with The Battle of Yavin, the piece that accompanies the climactic encounter between the rebels and the empire in the final act of 1977’s Star Wars.

Every single movement in this piece strives to describe and beautifully extend not only the emotional tones of the action, but the story contained within the sequence as well. The dread and brutality of the empire’s counter-attack of the rebel’s approach is brought to life with shrieking brass, pounding timpani, and restlessness in the strings, which is then wonderfully juxtaposed with the uplift of the hero theme. Even this theme is modified and changed subtly at various instances to elevate feelings of hope, danger, cautiousness or joy. The two distinct threads of the composition (good vs. evil; the rebels vs. the empire) collide and collude with each other throughout before building to a fist-clenching crescendo that gives way to an unyielding feeling of sheer relief.

Even outside of the context of the film, it shines as an awe-inspiring piece of music, rich in compositional depth and beauty. It is an absolute masterclass in scoring not just for image, but for story as well.

Tagged under: