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Alita Battle Angel | Tom Holkenborg (a.k.a. Junkie XL)

storyteller

Senior Member
I'm a huge fan and have tremendous respect for all of Jim's work on Avatar/Titanic/T2/etc. I recently watched the Alita trailer (produced by Cameron) and realized I haven't been this excited for a movie since Man Of Steel. The trailer music is incredible.

All that said - I noticed Junkie XL is doing the music under his full name. Not sure if others were aware, but I am excited and thought I'd share. Batman v Superman was a miss for me regarding soundtracks, but I am looking forward to this one tremendously.

Trailer Here:


edit: This should probably be in the soundtracks forum. Mods, please feel free to move it.
 

X-Bassist

Senior Member
@storyteller : You might want to watch these you tube videos by Junkie XL then....\


These are interesting. Really shows how watching the picture with the score is so important. How it interacts and flows with picture is a greater thrill for me than just listening to the score alone, almost as if it's missing the most important element. But that's me. When I write, I write for the picture, to enhance the story and add to what's there. I never think about it being music on it's own.
 
just listening to the score alone, almost as if it's missing the most important element.
A lot of film music can't stand on its own feet. Then the question becomes, is that kind thing really good "music" or should we call it shit music? You know simple stupid drum beats can complement the picture well enough.
 
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MartinH.

Senior Member
I've seen it and would describe my experience as "surreal", but in a bad way. Like watching a 2 hour long trailer to a movie that I'll never watch...
I hated it, maybe even more than I hated "The Hobbit". Seeing the generally positive reactions to the movie gives me this weird feeling of "I'm getting too old for all this modern crap".

I've coincidentally stumbled over a video about why so many modern action movies are bad, that I thought made some excellent points, with well chosen examples:



Then I looked what other videos there are on his channel, and watched his review of Alita:



He liked it, and I absolutely don't get it...
I don't know any of the source material, but generally I like anime and I can watch dumb action movies with minimal plot, but this... nope, don't get it...


A little heads up to all Germans: the German dub is FUCKING ATROCIOUS, avoid at all cost! In my humble opinion at least... ymmv
 

X-Bassist

Senior Member
A lot of film music can't stand on its own feet. Then the question becomes, is that kind thing really good "music" or should we call it shit music? You know simple stupid drum beats can complement the picture well enough.
I have to admit I use to listen to film scores all the time, granted they were some great, engaging scores on their own. But when I began scoring for TV and film I realized "that may not be what the director and producer are asking for"- they may be asking for something much simplier that won't get in the way of dialog or overtake the scene.

Melodramatic and theme music use to work well when it was always "interpreted" by great players (just saying they played the notes is a huge understatement. A long held note can only truly be a thing a beauty when a talented player puts the right emotion and timing into it). But today the visual image is cut together so much tighter, with no room for theme or reflection, that even slower dramas are much faster than they've ever been.

But there is a huge expanse between good music and sh*t, the latter being more out of inexperience than a comment on the artistry (like a new painter starting with a total abstract, Jackson Pollock-like painting style, without proper experience and training it is at best child-like). Music that can evoke real emotion in an authentic way can never be called "sh*t".

BUT the way music can work with the picture is another level of good. Not just adding to the emotion or mood of the scene, but the greatest work with the cuts, adding so much more by how it works and reacts to the story. Many pieces I've done are crap on their own, but while watching they can be seen as the best piece of music in the film by a director or producer... and who am I working for?

Yes, I really like it when a large audience gets it and likes it too, but that is not really my primary goal. Primarily it's to please the two or three guys sitting behind me during the mix. So how it works with the picture is primary, and whether it works alone is secondary. I suppose that's why it's become more important to see the music in context (watching the film). Kind of like someone listening to a dry violin solo without the backing music or hall to give it context, can not see the beauty in it. Don't make me post examples (I have too many). ;)

I hope, like vinyl, there will be a resurgence of orchestral theme music in films, but until the picture editing begins allowing time for it, we will have to wait. I suppose this is a reason to do more independent films, finding those projects that want to do more with music than be emotional wallpaper or just set a mood.
 
OP
storyteller

storyteller

Senior Member
I hope, like vinyl, there will be a resurgence of orchestral theme music in films, but until the picture editing begins allowing time for it, we will have to wait. I suppose this is a reason to do more independent films, finding those projects that want to do more with music than be emotional wallpaper or just set a mood.
I long for that as well. Or at least more of that than there is today... And by "that" I mean both the "edits" (where the picture can breathe) and having "music" that is more orchestral in nature that can carry the emotion while the visuals breathe. Such a good point @X-Bassist

For what its worth, have you counted how many shots/cuts are in the average trailer these days? It is kind of ridiculous.
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
Melodic chops by Tom.


starting at 3:20.

I see..and I get the idea, Tom. Then he showed what he orchestrated and he even didn´t orchestrate what he wrote. I see. "You see, I did fuck it up..and it doesn´t matter." Well I guess so that it really doesn´t matter. Its such a great example for all young aspiring kids out there trying to do the same what he does and in one way he is right: When it doesn´t matter to him, why it should matter to people who think this is the way how its done these days. Its infecting.
After that I switched to miklós rózsa´s Spellbound suite to clean my soul, I needed that at that point because that remark and video just depressed me.

That saddest thing, it feels like the kardashians which are the millenial icons for for kids these days who scares the shit out of me.
 
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whitewasteland

Senior Member
Melodic chops by Tom.


starting at 3:20.

I see..and I get the idea, Tom. Then he showed what he orchestrated and he even didn´t orchestrate what he wrote. I see. "You see, I did fuck it up..and it doesn´t matter." Well I guess so that it really doesn´t matter. Its such a great example for all young aspiring kids out there trying to do the same what he does and in one way he is right: When it doesn´t matter to him, why it should matter to people who think this is the way how its done these days. Its infecting.
After that I switched to miklós rózsa´s Spellbound suite to clean my soul, I needed that at that point because that remark and video just depressed me.

That saddest thing, it feels like the kardashians which are the millenial icons for for kids these days who scares the shit out of me.
Well, the guy isn't a piano player. He works on a DAW, and he missed an octave.

Seriously, that depressed you ? JXL is far from being my favourite composer, but I think he is absolutely brillant at what he does. And he HAS orchestration chops, even if he missed an octave on the keyboard.

Most of the time, I agree with you. But this one felt a bit on the snobbish side to me.
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
Well, the guy isn't a piano player. He works on a DAW, and he missed an octave.

Seriously, that depressed you ? JXL is far from being my favourite composer, but I think he is absolutely brillant at what he does. And he HAS orchestration chops, even if he missed an octave on the keyboard.

Most of the time, I agree with you. But this one felt a bit on the snobbish side to me.
No it is not that I cared that he missed an octave, I really don´t, but he simply didn´t orchestrate what he wrote beforehand, however, I am no snob, (in case that came that way, its not meant that way) in fact I have a big liking for simplistic music and ideas unless they are not banal.
And if you think he is that brilliant what he does, thats completely fine to feel, just it means not that it does for me, I am sorry to say. And sure he seems to be a nice guy and good at all this sounddesign and production things, no doubt about that.
 

whitewasteland

Senior Member
No it is not that I cared that he missed an octave, I really don´t, but he simply didn´t orchestrate what he wrote beforehand, however, I am no snob, (in case that came that way, its not meant that way) in fact I have a big liking for simplistic music and ideas unless they are not banal.
And if you think he is that brilliant what he does, thats completely fine to feel, just it means not that it does for me, I am sorry to say. And sure he seems to be a nice guy and good at all this sounddesign and production things, no doubt about that.
Well, in that case I don't understand. Just after playing the melody on the piano he shows how HE orchestrated it for strings. Then says it finally doesn't appear in the final movie as a string arrangement, but more synth based / hybrid. Please tell me where did you see he didn't orchestrate his music ? I always find he has a pretty good string and brass writing.
 

Drundfunk

Member
And if you think he is that brilliant what he does, thats completely fine to feel, just it means not that it does for me, I am sorry to say. And sure he seems to be a nice guy and good at all this sounddesign and production things, no doubt about that.
I really enjoyed the film, I love movies where you can immerse in a completely fictional world. My main problem with the music is that the beginning of her theme is actually Nino Rota's Romeo and Juliet from 1969. Apart from that the music worked for me, so whatever ;)
 

Michael Antrum

Only the good die young....
After that I switched to miklós rózsa´s Spellbound suite to clean my soul, I needed that at that point because that remark and video just depressed me.
Just been listening recently to the fabulous Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsel, and Dream of Olwen - Blasting down the motorway with these on with the volume set to eleven, and I'm simply in heaven. Music that elevates the soul......
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
Well, in that case I don't understand. Just after playing the melody on the piano he shows how HE orchestrated it for strings. Then says it finally doesn't appear in the final movie as a string arrangement, but more synth based / hybrid. Please tell me where did you see he didn't orchestrate his music ? I always find he has a pretty good string and brass writing.
Let me try to find to answer that question a bit.
But let me post first another of his videos, which is this one:


Its related to subject so I think its okay to post.

He is honestly saying at 2:25 min in the video that his track is influenced by Scriabin and has I quote him "so much of the vibe" of his work? Wtf is he talking about and even thinking? He has so much to do with Scriabin like the Kardashians have talent (well they have talent in beeing utterly annoying). Second. Then go and listen to the piece starting at 12:49 min. Is that what you call good at arranging brass or writing in general? I mean this is not even ..I don´t know what to say..its just cringey..so..just that he mentiones someone like scriabin and compares his sorry, but his whatever that is to a magnitude composer like scriabin, that causes iritation to put that mild. Sorry, but this guy as much as I think that it might be cool to have a beer with, has nothing but nothing to do with anything about knowing how to arrange or writing seriously for strings, brass, or any other category which belongs to the orchestral music. He is probably a guy who even thinks that layering a bassoon on top of the horns in unison is a masterful trick. This what he does is painfully to see and to listen to. And it wouldn´t boggle my mind sometimes if not 1000s of composers out there would not think that he actually knows what he is doing because he is not at all. One thing: I liked his soundtrack for mad max fury road. Its not that I think his ideas are bad all over the place, but understand: You can´t or should not think that this guy has understood anything regarding comprehensive writing for strings and brass in respect to the orchestra, otherwise he wouldn´t go and write such cringey tunes like showed in the youtube example. YOu know this guy needs a glass of water in his face, that is what he needs. You know I am studying like almost 5 years nonstop repertoire music, almost 24/7 and wrote recently a track where I tried to write in respect to the old golden era of filmscores from the 40s and also incoorporate a little bit of the late 19th century techniques, but I never ever dare to speak of my own work and compare even the vibe to masters like Korngold, Webb, Steiner, Tschaikowsy. I would not dare to say that. If other people making that connection, allright. But you get the point? What he is thinking? Wtf??! :shocked: That is cringey, and his music then to listen to thinking that he speaks of himself setting a scriabin vibe..feels very wrong to me because his music example especially this one is in imo in bad taste and execution.

I know that this commentary is not what the many Junkie XL Fans out here like to read, I know that but I feel to make a statement regarding that dumbing down of filmmusic we have these days.

 
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whitewasteland

Senior Member
Let me try to find to answer that question a bit.
But let me post first another of his videos, which is this one:


Its related to subject so I think its okay to post.

He is honestly saying at 2:30 min in the video that his track is influenced by Scriabin and has I quote him "so much of the vibe" of his work? Wtf is he talking about and even thinking? He has so much to do with Scriabin like myself thinking that Kardashians have talent (well they have talent in beeing utterly annoying). Second. Then go and listen to the piece starting at 12:49 min. Is that what you call good at arranging brass or writing in general? I mean this is not even ..I don´t know what to say..its just cringey..so..just that he mentiones someone like scriabin and compares his sorry, but his whatever that is to a magnitude composer like scriabin, that can only come from a douchy person. Sorry, but this guy as much as I think he is cool to drink a beer with has nothing but nothing to do with anything about knowing how to arrange or writing for strings, brass, or whatever belongs to the category of orchestral music. He is probably a guy who even thinks that layering a bassoon on top of the horns in unison is a masterful trick. This what he does is painfully to see and to listen to. And it wouldn´t boggle mind if not 1000s of composers out there would not think that he actually knows what he is doing because he is not at all.One thing: I liked his soundtrack for mad max fury road. Its not that I think his ideas are bad all over the place, but understand: You can´t or should not think that this guy has understood anything regarding comprehensive writing for strings and brass in respect to the orchestra, otherwise he wouldn´t go and write such cringey tunes like showed in the youtube example.
What he says about Scriabin :

"Do you know what eventually became my inspiration ? It is actually Scriabin, who is a fantastic composer, and a very gifted piano player."
[...]
"It's completely not the same, what I did. But it has something to it, which is very dark"
[...]
"It has nothing to do with what I came up with, but it was the inspiration for it".

What this means to me :

Well, he heard a piece by Scriabin, and that piece inspired him something else. I'm wondering what exactly is wrong with that. You can be inspired by whatever you want, a piece of music, a painting, a movie, a memory, it really doesn't matter and imho needs no justification at all. Being inspired by another composer doesn't mean comparing to him at all, and there is nothing "douchy" in that.

I would like to remind you this is far from being one of my favourite composers, and I do not especially like the track he presented in that video either. But I would never say he doesn't know anything about string and brass writing. Not after hearing "Many Mothers" from the Mad Max OST, or a lot of other pieces he did.

Anyway, we could talk about this for hours, but I'm sorry I think I already had too much Schiborring today.

Just please don't ever tell me what I can't or should not think regarding to music (or anything else, for that matters). That may work with some people impressed by your big mouth and your 14 modulations per minute, but it doesn't work with me.
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
What he says about Scriabin :

"Do you know what eventually became my inspiration ? It is actually Scriabin, who is a fantastic composer, and a very gifted piano player."
[...]
"It's completely not the same, what I did. But it has something to it, which is very dark"
[...]
"It has nothing to do with what I came up with, but it was the inspiration for it".

What this means to me :

Well, he heard a piece by Scriabin, and that piece inspired him something else. I'm wondering what exactly is wrong with that. You can be inspired by whatever you want, a piece of music, a painting, a movie, a memory, it really doesn't matter and imho needs no justification at all. Being inspired by another composer doesn't mean comparing to him at all, and there is nothing "douchy" in that.

I would like to remind you this is far from being one of my favourite composers, and I do not especially like the track he presented in that video either. But I would never say he doesn't know anything about string and brass writing. Not after hearing "Many Mothers" from the Mad Max OST, or a lot of other pieces he did.

Anyway, we could talk about this for hours, but I'm sorry I think I already had too much Schiborring today.

Just please don't ever tell me what I can't or should not think regarding to music (or anything else, for that matters). That may work with some people impressed by your big mouth and your 14 modulations per minute, but it doesn't work with me.
Yes sure, that is not the point I am talking about, did you read what I said: I said that he talks himself about that he has set so much of a scriabin vibe. Try to read and understand what I say. And not what I didn´t say. Thank you.

And before you get that wrong again: Its not aimed at you, I just tried to answer your question in the prior post. And I didn´t meant to tell you what to think, its up to you and feel free what to like. If that came the way, I am sorry. Its just meant that I try to give you some other thoughts to switch the perspective, maybe that you look further and don´t stop beeing impressed by a skillset like that presented there. And its not about 14 modulations per minute..I can understand that you are not liking what I wrote but you really don´t get the point what I was trying to bring to the table. Anyways.
 
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