If you haven't heard of them: they are an internet group of musical collaborators from all around the globe, who specialize in song covers from anime shows. I'm happy to share that I'm one of them now, and this is my first involvement with them.
Show - Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Song - "Ninelie" by Aimer feat. Chelly
In the past few months, I've been taking a sabbatical from film scores to do other things; some personal growth for one, but also taking this time to explore other creative outlets. I've always had an underlying interest in making my own films, though I've never had the drive to do that... until recently that is. I'm a long way before I can call myself a filmmaker, but the point is that I'm now at least learning the craft. Bunches of test videos here and there, slowly gaining the confidence to show my work in public. Here's a test shoot I did with an iPhone 6 (because I'm still quite a few paychecks away from buying a DSLR camera); just me and my friends goofing around, giving zero fucks about how terrible we are at skateboarding. >_< It's pretty crude-looking, but a decent start I suppose.
Hey everyone, I'd like to share a cover song that I put together with some friends. This is the first of many more to come, as part of my new Youtube channel AndoruMusic, dedicated solely to collaboration projects.
Let me start by stating the obvious that Babymetal is a gimmicky "product" band. That's a fact. OK now with that in mind, I can kick the elephant out of the room and proceed with my actual assessment.
My first impression of BABYMETAL was their video for "Gimme Chocolate," from their self-titled debut album, and what an impression indeed. I never would have thought that meshing J-pop and heavy metal could work so well. Even the dance routines are loads of fun to watch! However, I initially thought of the whole premise as a joke; a novelty that is doomed to overstay its welcome. Having listened to the entirety of their debut album only supported my assumption, as it was a very scattered compilation of genre-hopping with very little substance beyond the catchy hooks. With that said, having low expectations for their sophomore release "Metal Resistance" left me pleasantly surprised at the result.
While the catchy hooks and pop bravado stay intact, the overall listening experience is much more cohesive this time around, with a notably better balance between the pop and metal elements, and even hints of thematic continuity. The second track "KARATE" sets up the tone, and carries on to gleefully aggressive tracks like "Awadama Fever," "GJ!," and "Sis. Anger." The biggest improvement though, is the overall quality of each composition, even to a point where several of the songs actually have emotional substance. One in particular that comes to mind is "From Dusk Till Dawn," which evokes lovely ambient glitch & trip hop beds very similar to the likes of a Periphery interlude, coupled with heavily epic breakdowns. It only gets better from there. The last three tracks pull you in like a cinematic journey (and are quite obviously a love letter to Dream Theater) - "No Rain, No Rainbow" opens with a beautiful orchestral arrangement and wonderfully showcases the vocal talents of lead girl Su-Metal. "Tales of the Destinies" packs a wallop of prog-rock virtuosity (how on Earth will the girls dance to that?!). Finally, the closing track "THE ONE" hangs on to a powerful chorus worthy of waving those lighters (or cell phones) to. Did I mention that the song is sung in English?
I'm almost aggravated by how good this album is, because the producers/instrumentalists really outdid themselves in this effort and yet will remain in the background to hold up the Kawaii trio in the spotlight. That's showbiz, though! I certainly did not expect this much quality out of a Babymetal album. To be fair, there is not yet a definitive formula for a Babymetal album; only time and future releases will determine what the formula could be. It's not to say that Babymetal have broken any new ground of originality however; each song can be perceived as either a shameless rip-off or a respectful tribute to specific bands and their signature styles. Meshuggah, Dream Theater, and Dragonforce instantly come to mind (interestingly enough, the latter band's own Herman Li and Sam Totman are guest guitarists in the opening track "Road of Resistance"). If you go into this album expecting anything unique beyond the pop/metal blend, then you will be disappointed. However, if you can forgive that flaw and lose yourself in the sheer power that is Metal Resistance, then this album is a visceral experience you don't want to miss. Babymetal have now proven that they are more than just a novelty band; they are a real force to be reckoned with.
Rating - 4/5
Recently I've written two fan-made theme/interpretations for different films, and for different purposes. The first one is a little ditty for Junkie XL's #NowScoreThis contest, for the film Black Mass (no winners yet announced, as of 11/20). It features a suspenseful and dramatic buildup, played entirely by string orchestra, to convey the intensity of mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger as portrayed in the film.
The second thing I wrote is my own interpretation of what a live-action Battle Angel theme could sound like. I did this purely on my own accord, in celebration of the news that James Cameron, who has been planning this film for several years, has handed over directorial duties to Robert Rodriguez - a sign that the film may finally happen! Also noting that somewhere, deep down, I intended to seek out the attention of the filmmakers by making this theme... one can only dream, haha. It's been years since I've read the original nine manga volumes, so I'm re-reading them before I dive into the "Last Order" story arc. Man, this franchise has massive potential for the big screen!
It's been a while since my last news post on NG, so I'll quickly run down what I've been up to in the past half year: took a hiatus from music/film production while briefly working as a tech support agent for Apple, got fired from Apple, starting writing music again, recently scored a short film, and am currently competing in the NGADM 2015 (as of 09/30).
The short film I scored is called "The Last Hotspot," directed by Justin Melson. It is a pseudo-comedy about wi-fi disruption causing the apocalypse. This was a fun one as you should see in the link below!
I also made a behind-the-scenes screencast on the score, which gives you a rough idea of my workflow.
I've got two films to share this time; both with my music and from two different directors.
"Night Night Nancy" (dir. Lewis Farinella) is a horror film, shot in 4K.
"Heritage" (dir. Damien Kazan) is a narration about the fragility of childhood and how our upbringing greatly affects our future.
Subscribe to these talented filmmakers if you like them!
Here's the latest short film from Lewis Farinella, called "Dear Emma."
About the score - Considering that the nature of the film had compelled me to reinvent both my writing style and approach towards scoring to picture, it was most definitely the toughest two weeks I've experienced in my composing career thus far. After spending a majority of that time ripping my hair out and self-loathing, I'm really proud of the way it turned out!
Here's the latest short film from my buddy Lewis Farinella, called "Elegy." It is set in a post-apocalyptic future, where much of nature has grown toxic to humankind. The story follows a man who sets out to fullfill a personal task, as he fights hostile survivors to do so.
This music score is probably the most challenging (fun) thing I've done to date, because the context offered a sound palette of limitless experimentation. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude (as well as some money) to Ilse de Ziah, an Ireland-based cellist who enhanced the emotional gravitas of the score beyond my wildest expectations.
Listen to some of the isolated cues:
Wreckroom Productions facebook:
Ilse de Ziah's website: