While I was on break for most of the spring and some of summer, a delectable onslaught of amazing scores were released. They are too numerous to list here, so I’m skipping ahead a bit and looking at four somewhat recent releases that stand out. (As always, I’m violating my own rule with One-Liners and Score-Liners, and not writing one-line reviews. I will someday, probably. Maybe.)
Michael Abels — Nope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Jordan Peele’s third and latest earth-shattering film is Nope and along for the ride for the third time is score composer Michael Abels. As with Get Out and Us, Abels’ blend of conventional orchestrations with unconventional arrangements and modalities yields an enriching and complementary blast of sonics that elevates Peele’s already inventive sci-fi/horror/western picture. I’ve included a couple different cues below for you to experience — one more on the western side and another more horror. (Also worth your time are the licensed tracks included on the soundtrack, which blend in well with the score.)
The album, released by Back Lot Music, is streaming now on all platforms. I wouldn’t be surprised if Waxwork Records releases the vinyl version at some point, as it has with Peele’s and Abels’ other gems. And yes, go see the film for the full experience.
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein — Stranger Things 4 (Original Score From The Netflix Series)
The best season since the first also gets some great score cues from Dixon and Stein, who have expanded their palette while remaining true to the dark and synthy foundations they’ve been building for the past six years. Their music serves as a powerful complement to the various iterations of Kate Bush’s “Running Up The Hill,” which itself is a pronounced theme this time around. (Some trivia for you: Vehlinggo faves Rob Simonsen and Taylor Lipari-Hassett did the orchestrations for that key “RUTH”-driven episode, among other things.)
You can snag the score in a few different forms — for example, there are vinyl variants via Lakeshore (sold out but likely on Discogs) and Invada. Even if our Stateside readers missed out on Lakeshore’s offerings, you should be comforted by the fact that the UK Pound Sterling isn’t totally off kilter vis-a-vis the USD, so aside from the bigger shipping tab you won’t be totally left wanting.
Disasterpeace — Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Disasterpeace (AKA Rich Vreeland) made a name for himself scoring video games like FEZ, which led to his popular (and fantastic) synth score for David Robert Mitchell’s 2014 horror film, It Follows. (Disasterpeace did a deep dive with Vehlinggo the summer after its early 2015 wide theatrical release.) He’s since done some more traditional cinematic and Herrmannesque scores, along with more electronic fare for certain things, most recently Dean Fleischer Camp’s mockumentary Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. His music — organic-sounding without using any organic instruments — deftly moves between whimsical expressions and intimate quietude, punctuating the themes of the film about a delightful talking shell. (It’s worth noting that Disasterpeace himself has said he was influenced by early 1980s Japanese ambient music.) Lakeshore Records released the album digitally a bit ago, but a vinyl edition is forthcoming.
Hannah Peel — The Midwich Cuckoos (Original Score)
British composer Hannah Peel is known for her hard-to-pin-down approach toward composition, traveling somewhere between electronic and classical. Nevertheless, her albums, such as Fir Wave and Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia, and scores, such as for the doc Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, stick like glue to your senses. For David Farr’s Sky Max sci-fi drama The Midwich Cuckoos, Peel taps into her entire treasure trove of talent to cultivate an engaging and all-encompassing experience. There are moments of measured contemplation that give way to pulsating horrors of the ominous variety. The addition of vocal components is a cherry on top. All of that is my clunky way of saying that this is probably Peel’s best score and it’s clear that she found much to enjoy in scoring to the chromosomal terror and intrigue articulated in the story about suspicious babies with potential alien connections. Out now digitally via Invada.
This is the second occasional Score-Liners column, which is a spin-off of the One-Liners column that has become quite popular on Vehlinggo since its introduction in November 2015 and re-introduction in January 2019. The first Score-Liners column published in January.