Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Modern Classical

Released as a companion to its Live and Let Die reissue, this limited edition, deluxe 2CD set explores every note composed by John Barry for his return to the series, whose sound he created two decades earlier.

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This is the first of two recent releases from LaLaLand Records exploring lesser-known Bond scores from the 1970s and 1980s. First up, this limited edition, deluxe 2CD release of Live and Let Die (1973), which was the first Bond film not to be scored by John Barry, and the first to star Roger Moore.  While at the time of the film’s release many felt George Martin’s score was a pale shadow of Barry’s template, the passage of time has been kinder to this music, and there’s no doubting the power of Paul McCartney’s iconic theme song.  Time, therefore, to follow LaLaLand Records’ cue and dive deep into the origins of “the Bond sound” and how two of the Beatles team tackled this impossible assignment to reinvent Barry’s stylings for a new era and a new leading man.

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Subtlety is a delicate art form. Too little, and one runs the risk of being too obvious, clunky, or blatant. Too much, and no one gets the joke, takes the hint, or catches the drift. Finding the right amount of subtlety makes comedy funnier and mysteries more intriguing; it can also lead to music that is full of the magic that leaves the listener wanting to hear more. Performing and recording together since 2007, Balmorhea has often explored the auditory world of... Read More

Back in 2014 when I was an undergraduate student at the Manhattan School of Music, I remember the Jazz department in a perpetual uproar over the release of the film Whiplash. It seems every Jazz musician I knew had something to say about that movie, from praise to condemnation, from astonishment at what it got right, to a laundry list of everything it got wrong (it didn’t help that supposedly the fictional “Schaefer Conservatory” was based on our own institution).... Read More

For anyone more familiar with John Barry’s 50s and 60s discography and his early scores for spy films like the James Bond series or The Ipcress File (1965), encountering his late-career work on films like Dances with Wolves (1990) and Chaplin (1992) can be a bit of surprise. Gone are the stylings of his era-defining London mod classics like “Hit and Miss” and “Beat for Beatniks”, let alone his genre-defining “James Bond Theme” (Barry's arrangement of a melody by... Read More

Recorded during the same 2011 and 2012 Zipper Hall, Los Angeles sessions that produced the remarkable percussion record “Smoke & Mirrors” (Yarlung 17255-195V), “Earth & Wood” is another sonic spectacular recorded directly to tape using a single AKG C24 stereo microphone (with Elliot Midwood mic amplification). The one-mike recording technique required “just so” placement of both it and the seven member Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble that performed the... Read More

It has become customary for many film music old-schoolers like myself to lament the current propensity for the “Zimmerization” of movie scores: ie., the devolving of a film’s soundtrack into endless drum-circles and synthesized loops, harmonic stasis, motivic repetition, all of which have become the hallmarks of Hans Zimmer’s work of the last 20 years or so.Obviously this is a vast over-simplification, and not entirely fair to Zimmer himself, but his protégés and... Read More

John WilliamsEven within the context of his catalogue of one classic film score after another, the three films that John Williams scored for the Harry Potter franchise - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) - occupy a very special place. But you wouldn’t necessarily have known that to judge from the somewhat parsimonious manner in which the soundtrack scores... Read More

And as a recent perusal of the usual audiophile retail sites reveals, the latest limited edition reissue from ORG (Original Recordings Group) of this unique and spectacular record is very much in stock (even in some cases discounted), and so I felt it was the perfect time, indeed essential, to introduce Tracking Angle readers to this magical record.First, some background.The Mysterious World of Bernard Herrmann was just one of a series of records Bernard Herrmann... Read More

(This review originally appeared in Issue 7, Spring 1996.)Rachel’s’ 1995 release Handwriting LP (Quarterstick 30 LP) is on my top 10 of ‘95 list and this enchanting record may end up on the ‘96 list. The music here was composed by pianist Rachel Grimes for a dance and theater piece based on the life of turn of the century Viennese painter Egon Schiele.The stage work was written and directed by Stephan Mazurek for Chicago’s Itinerant Theater Guild, which he heads. The... Read More