By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist February 7, 2013 at 4:19PM
Last week, we kicked off our annual On The Rise season with a look at 5 cinematographers who you'll be seeing a lot more of in the coming years. This week, we wanted to switch lanes a bit, away from the eyes, and towards the ears, to pick out some promising new composers on the scene.
Ever since we've been running these features, we've wanted to focus on composers, but for one reason or another, it's never quite come to pass. As such, there were plenty of names floating around. Composition can be a hard thing to break into -- the field is often dominated by the same old names, and even looking at this year's Oscar nominations, you see people like John Williams, Alexandre Desplat and Mychael Danna, who've been fixtures of film scores for years if not decades (not that we don't love their work).
But it's also an exciting time for film music, with bands and dance acts increasingly called upon for scores, and strange new sounds becoming more and more commonplace. So as such, we've picked out five of the young composers who we think have the best chance of doing great work in the coming year or two. You can read our picks below, and let us know your own thoughts in the comments section below.
2011's "Attack The Block" rightly gained a lot of attention for a lot of people, but someone who was somewhat overlooked was composer Steven Price. Thanks to the presence of legendary South London dance artists Basement Jaxx as co-writers on the score, Price was often left out of the conversations about the film (including, it should be said, by ourselves), but Price was really the film's secret weapon.
The 35-year-old Brit started off working in recording studios, until landing a job as an assistant to composer Trevor Jones ("In The Name Of The Father," "Dark City," "Notting Hill"). Price got to train with him over the next few years, before his work at Abbey Road studios saw him hired as the music editor on "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (a position that, for the record, involves putting together temp scores, as well as later compiling, cutting and syncing the composers' finished work). He continued this work on "Return of the King," "Batman Begins" and "Mr. Bean's Holiday" among others, and also served as Cate Blanchett's musical coach on "I'm Not There." But the really big break came with "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," on which Price assisted Nigel Godrich on the score, including arrangements and additional music. And when that film's backers Big Talk were looking for a composer to work alongside Basement Jaxx on "Attack The Block," Price was their first call. It's impossible to say who did what on the menacing, John-Carpenter-with-grime-beats score, one of the best of 2011, but director Joe Cornish and executive producer Edgar Wright have both made clear how invaluable Price's contributions were. Indeed, Wright's put his money where his mouth is, hiring the composer for what will be his second full composing credit, on "The World's End." But possibly even more exciting is the prospect of his musical contribution to perhaps the most anticipated film of 2013, "Gravity," Alfonso Cuaron's ambitious space adventure which sees George Clooney and Sandra Bullock stranded alone in orbit. If the script is anything to go by, there won't be a lot of dialogue going on, so Price could well have some heavy lifting. We're expecting something special...
To our knowledge, Daniel Hart had no music composing credits to his name before the start of this year, though he has a long history in the indie scene in various guises, but after his moody and brooding, storm-rollin-into-town score for the Sundance hit "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," this is all likely going to change. Directed by David Lowery, 'Saints' is a searing and slow-burning outlaw drama set in 1970s Texas. While the picture features fantastic everything -- performances, cinematography, editing, direction -- perhaps its greatest asset is its simmering and sinister atmosphere. And a lot of that overall evocative tone can be attributed to Hart's incredible score, that we were completely taken with at Sundance. Hart, who trained at Southern Methodist University, and has played the violin for bands including The Polyphonic Spree, St. Vincent and Broken Social Scene, as well as fronting his own group The Physics of Meaning, makes his compositional debut on the film, having released his first solo album, The Orientalist (which has guest appearances from Bon Iver and Andrew Bird, among others), last year. And it's a fairly extraordinary effort for his first time at bat. To quote from our review, "another MVP of the picture's below-the-line talent, is Daniel Hart's haunting score. Cripple-creek fiddles pluck away anxiously, cellos drone, banjos twang out with ghostly notes and violins cry into the night sky, creating a sonorous musical backdrop for this brooding picture to lay its ten gallon hat on.” “Ain't Them Bodies Saints" is an intense and portentous bad moon rising out of love, revenge, crime and good intentions gone bad, and Hart’s striking work therein should hopefully launch a career we’re going to keep our eyes and ears tuned to.