Big Eyes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
American composer Danny Elfman has scored all but two of director Tim Burton’s quirky and darkly macabre fantasies.
Burton’s latest movie, Big Eyes, unusually void of both horror and fantasy, is based on the true story of Walter Keane, a 1950s painter who fooled the public and gained notoriety by passing off his wife Margaret’s “big eye” paintings as his own. As much as the famed director is straying from his signature identity, Elfman’s score is also quite unrecognisable as his own.
Featured alongside tracks by Miles Davis, The Lively Ones and Red Garland Trio, the six original Elfman scores are delicate and subtle compositions compared to his usual grand orchestration. Of course this soundtrack will appeal to any Elfman devotee, but the main attraction for most will be two new songs penned by brooding queen of the moment Lana Del Rey. On the title track, a chorus of lofty drums and chirping brass accompany Del Rey’s drowsy and sorrowful vocal theatrics; the second, I Can Fly, continues the retro melancholy vibe and wouldn’t be out of place on the vocalist’s solo albums.
While it contains more than a few knowing nods to both German electro and synth pop superstars Depeche Mode, mysterious London-based producer Ghost Culture has dropped a self-titled debut album full of filthy dark slabs of bedroom electronica.
The electro whiz kid takes us on an intimate journey from the dark, lush depths of the dance floor to the heady haze of the after-hours comedown. From the deep house of debut single Mouth, breathy hushed vocals over a meditative bassline, to the brooding Arms, almost 1990s New Order-esque as Mr Culture mutters: "Take care of me/ Long loving arms/ Lashing teeth/ Half closed half o-pen".
The odd textures and shimmering beats add to the gloomy atmospheric lullabies. Glaciers is all dreamy and ethereal, but it's the punchy robot funk of Lucky and the pulsating synth bass of the moody Giudecca that stand out.
This is an assured debut album, brimming with confidence and sounding both familiar and futuristic, and the future certainly looks rather bright for the man happy to hide in the shadows.
Into the Woods (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Walt Disney Records
When an award-winning Broadway musical is adapted for the big screen, the motion picture soundtrack is inevitably compared to the original theatre production.
Disney's cinematic adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods captures the energy and spirit of the stage show to rave reviews. This beautifully sad, magical musical is a mash-up of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, with the characters and story arcs taken from Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood, the classic tales intertwining with the lives of a witch, a baker and his wife.
This 50-track album features the orchestral instrumentals from the movie along with some staggeringly strong performances. Stealing the show is Meryl Streep as the deliciously evil witch with her stunning renditions of Stay With Me, Children Will Listen and the fantastic Last Midnight. Emily Blunt (the baker's wife), Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine (Cinderella and her dashing prince) also perform admirably, with Blunt in particular nailing her big number Moments in the Woods. This is certainly no poor man's version of the stage show.