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Thor

Ad Astra (Max Richter & Lorne Balfe)

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I couldn't find any previous thread on this, the big sci fi film of the year (in addition to STAR WARS IX).

 

Anyways, just came back from it and offer some spoiler-free comments. My colleagues, who saw it in Venice, were rather lukewarm, but I could glean from their comments that this would probably be more up my alley. I was correct in my assumption. I loved the film. It's a hodgepodge of various inspirarions -- 2001, FURY ROAD, Malick, GRAVITY, EVENT HORIZON etc., but it works to its benefit. Plus James Gray's usual fascination for APOCALYPSE NOW and Coppola, which he explored so wonderfully well in the brilliant THE LOST CITY OF Z. At one level, it's a regular space adventure -- with some hokey elements that aren't necessarily connected to the overall storyline -- but on another level, it's a beautiful, cerebral science fiction film about fundamental human issues, mainly the relationship between a father and his son. Most great sci fi films have this balance of elements.

 

I also love the "road movie" feel of it, with each location firmly set with its own atmosphere. In that way, it has a kind of 'vignette' feel to it; I could easily see a whole film taking place in each of these locations.

 

I'll save more specific comments for later.

 

As for the score, I really liked it. It has Richter's usual minimalist style, but with some expansive chords. There's an electronic "motif" or beat of sorts that was particularly captivating. I have no idea what Richter did and what Balfe did (perhaps Balfe's the one that did the beautiful electronic thing), but I can't wait to hear it on album. If it gets an album, and we don't have another GHOST IN THE SHELL situation on our hands.

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11 minutes ago, Alexcremers said:

Same goes for Danny Boyle's Sunshine)

I had a much better experience with Doctor Who's '42' which coincidentally was released the same time as Sunshine!

 

 

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8 hours ago, Thor said:

As for the score, I really liked it. It has Richter's usual minimalist style, but with some expansive chords. There's an electronic "motif" or beat of sorts that was particularly captivating. I have no idea what Richter did and what Balfe did (perhaps Balfe's the one that did the beautiful electronic thing), but I can't wait to hear it on album. If it gets an album, and we don't have another GHOST IN THE SHELL case on our hands.

Sounds like the the sort of score that will win the Oscar over episode IX.  

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14 hours ago, Stefancos said:

Hybrid?

 

Yes, a sort of meeting point between a straightforward 'romp' of a space adventure and a more cerebral science fiction film.

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So apparently any OST release is off the table with Balfe coming onboard, similar to what happened with Ghost in the Shell. Richter's score was due to have an album but that has been cancelled.

 

Huge bummer if this is true.

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Fear not!!

IMG_6905.jpg

Also, I have to wonder about Balfe's involvement: he posted photos from his recording sessions on Instagram close to the Venice festival premiere: perhaps Balfe was brought on by studio request in response to the Venice screening? Maybe he was on board beforehand, I don't know...

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Disconcerting! Perhaps we'll be getting a soundtrack JUST with Balfe's material, like we did on GHOST (even though Mansell's was superior). I like Balfe, but I'm more interested in the Richter bits, should a similar scenario arise now.

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1 hour ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Balfe's role was probably to record samples with a really good orchestra, and then to process them to the point of sounding synthetic.

 

I don't think so. I'm guessing that the electronic ostinato bits were him, but Richter can do that too, so it's not certain. Will certainly be interesting to find out who did what, should the information ever surface. I'm seeing the film again in an IMAX theatre on Wednesday, and I'll try to pay better attention to the music.

 

1 hour ago, Jay said:

Mansell's Ghost in the Shell score still hasn't leaked out, right?

 

Not to my knowledge (and much to my frustration).

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Saw the film again today, in IMAX. I think the electronic thing is Richter, actually, and Balfe's material some slightly more generic music for the more dramatic moments (think a lesser version of Wallfisch's BR2049 material).

 

I also sat through the end credits this time, and noticed that two other composers were listed with 'additional music': Nils Frahm -- who I've heard about, but never listened to, as far as I can recall. The other was Robert Charles Mann, who I've never even heard about. So that means Richter, Balfe, Frahm and Mann!

 

Additionally, the film uses some existing music -- including a concert piece by main composer Richter ("Stormy Sea" something) and one piece by Frahm (which I assume is different from the original score he provided). The other song credits rushed by so quickly, I didn't have the time to read them.

 

What a tangled web! No wonder no one has heard anything about a soundtrack album yet.

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On 9/16/2019 at 6:06 PM, Under-Terrestrial said:

Fear not!!

 

Also, I have to wonder about Balfe's involvement: he posted photos from his recording sessions on Instagram close to the Venice festival premiere: perhaps Balfe was brought on by studio request in response to the Venice screening? Maybe he was on board beforehand, I don't know...

I've seen the film twice - once at Venice and once after, both times Balfe was credited as additional music...and the score wasn't different :P

 

At least one track is coming on Friday, per Richter's website - https://www.maxrichtermusic.com/2019/09/16/ad-astra-out-sept-20th/. Plus the latest promo clips from the film online still have "Soundtrack Available From Deutsche Grammophon" in the credits (as of the 16th)....

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Watched the film last night and thought it was fantastic. Very slow, but incredibly beautiful-looking and meditative. Also really enjoyed what is surely mostly Richter's score? Barely detected any Balfe sounding snippets. That single is out in Aus already and it's lovely, really holding out for the album though. 

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On 9/18/2019 at 8:43 PM, antovolk said:

At least one track is coming on Friday, per Richter's website - https://www.maxrichtermusic.com/2019/09/16/ad-astra-out-sept-20th/. Plus the latest promo clips from the film online still have "Soundtrack Available From Deutsche Grammophon" in the credits (as of the 16th)....

 

Actually, the film credits have that info as well, including a prominent Deutsche Grammophon logo.

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Richter has a contract with DG - most of his works are released through them.

 

It's a shame that even this has been balfed. One would expect Gray and Pitt to have some taste (and clout) to prevent this sort of Bruckheimerisation from happening. Though, in his favour, the track that Balfe posted on his youtube channel is not half bad. It's kind of what I would expect Richter to sound like......But he seems to have moved to a more large-scale Wagnerian phase, especially if one listens to Mary Queen of Scots or indeed Ad Astra. 

 

 

 

But this is probably going to be the breakout for Nils Frahm, as Arrival was for Richter.....listen to the dude's 'Says', which by all accounts is the key musical centrepiece:  

 

 

 

 

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A-ha! So that beautiful electronic thing was FRAHM?! Thanks for clarifying, thestat -- it's the best musical aspect of the score. Figures that it was an existing piece. In the film, it first appears when McBride (Pitt) drives to the rocket launch on earth.

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49 minutes ago, thestat said:

 

But this is probably going to be the breakout for Nils Frahm, as Arrival was for Richter.....listen to the dude's 'Says', which by all accounts is the key musical centrepiece:

Arrival was Max Richter’s breakout? Dude has been popular for 10 years. 

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Nils Frahm has also been quite popular for sometime. Richter has just worked in the film/TV medium more.

 

And Richter isn't really a "concert hall" composer. But he creates independent work. Sort of the precursor to the Johannsson types, before he became a more active film composer.

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I'd argue that Richter's "breakout" in film music terms was WALTZ WITH BASHIR (2008), although SHUTTER ISLAND (2010) was the first that alerted  me to his name (although it's existing music, not original score).

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6 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

Vivaldi Recomposed was my first encounter with Richter, and to date, the best.

 

Also my first. It's brilliant, for what it aims to do.

 

Blue Notebooks and Memoryhouse remain his best original work. The rest of his later career has some highlights, but is mostly hit and miss, or retreading familiar material.

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If we're on to general Richter now:

 

THE LEFTOVERS is my favourite -- by FAR!

 

Also own and like DISCONNECT, TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, TABOO, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS and the OUT OF THE DARK ROOM compilation.

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