The Ever Living (opens in new tab) are known for their expansive, cinematic soundscapes, and it's no surprise that they're heavily influenced by some of Hollywood's greatest musical minds. But which movie soundtracks are the definitive best? We asked The Ever Living's keyboardist/vocalist Chris Bevan Lee to name the 10 movies he believes have the best score/soundtrack (yes, we know there are technically 12 movies here).
"The first 18 certificate film I owned on video – or rather borrowed from a family member and kept. I’m not one for punching films, but a young, barely coherent JCVD is unsurprisingly charming in the role of Frank Dux. It includes Stan Bush power ballads and Paul Herzog's synthtastic soundtrack – what more could you ask for?
"Heavily built around sequenced parts – I believe with the Roland MC-500 sequencer, a Yamaha DX-7 and an Oberheim OB-8 among others – it is surprisingly atmospheric for the time, partly due to the tribal style drums being performed live, as well as a live Chinese harp. It also has a darkness to it, which suited the shady side of Hong Kong’s infamous Kowloon Walled City in the '80s. This has surely influenced not only the sounds I’m making now, but also likely the concept of mixing synthetic sounds with organic sounds. Not all keyboard instrument sounds are convincing, so it’s important which parts are recorded organically."
9) Blade Runner
"It might feel a bit of an obvious choice with the recent sequel and screenings of the original, but the Blade Runner soundtrack has been a firm favourite of mine for many years. Vangelis’ synthesised instruments – notably the saxophone – ride a fine line between brooding contemplation and softcore porn, but luckily keep on the right side of things. I couldn’t imagine listening to this in the daytime and that has influenced me particularly when writing Herpehemine. I would listen to our demos when on night flights, looking out over circuitboard towns, mountains and oceans or driving through neon-lit cities. Herephemine has a nocturnal noir feel to it because of this."
8) The Snowman
"Known for its hugely popular Walking In The Air centrepiece, I feel that the two parts on either side of it are criminally overlooked. With Peter And The Wolf majesty and wonder, it's a timeless classic. And yes, I usually happen to get something stuck in my eye at the end when either listening to it or watching the film each Christmas. It reaches all emotions and changes tone seamlessly. There is a clear nod to Blake’s masterpiece on our track Funereal Waltz. So much so that I hope he doesn’t sue."
7) 2001: A Space Odyssey / Barry Lyndon / A Clockwork Orange
"I could choose any of these three. Instead of having his film scores composed, Stanley Kubrick was a master at using known and unknown classical pieces to help choreograph his sequences. For example, an orbiting space station waltzing gracefully to Strauss’ Blue Danube or the opening punch of Haendel’s Sarabande to a zooming Warner logo (and later Barry Lyndon’s young son’s coffin). Powerful music set to powerful images with extreme confidence. But the track that has haunted me along with many others is the opening to A Clockwork Orange. Wendy Carlos’ Moog rendition of The Funeral Of Queen Mary is as unsettling, disturbing and creepy as the character it introduces. You can hear my nod to Carlos’ ominous brass sounds on our EP opener Stung By Something."
6) Days Of Thunder
"Mega composer Hans Zimmer has become a rockstar in the last decade with his foghorn-heavy, single-note themes and unconventional soundbeds, but I much prefer his earlier work. Days Of Thunder is Zimmer in full on Vangelis mode – which to be fair, he was in for years – but with stadium-sized guitars played by Jeff Beck. Catchy, dramatic and yes, a bit cheesy to match that Cruise grin."
5) Meet Joe Black
"Not only do I adore the score, but I also really like the film – yes, shoot me now. Okay, so Brad Pitt is a bit wet but it is one of Anthony Hopkins' greatest performances. I’m a big fan of Thomas Newman – Scent Of A Woman, Shawshank, Road To Perdition and Angels In America could all make this list. If only we had the budget to record string sections properly – it would be great to bring the warmth and quality of his string sections to what we are planning next. There is a very rich sounding nature to his parts that are instantly recognisable and his habit of contrasting high parts with low parts has had a great influence on me."
4) The Truman Show
"Okay, so it uses existing Phillip Glass pieces written for other films, but I’m a big Glass fan so I’m a real sucker for this – and Truman Sleeps is one of his most simple great achievements. His minimal, modern classical style has played a huge part in how I play. It should also be noted that Burkhard Dallwitz’s parts are equally effective. His parts have a more of a rich, warm feel to them – yes, with a touch of Thomas Newman – but they are needed to offset the Glass parts for the more human parts of the story. Glass’ almost mechanical, stripped-back sound fits with the manufactured parts."
3) A Single Man
"Who expected fashion designer Tom Ford to make a film like A Single Man and get Colin Firth his first Oscar nod? Not only that, but Abel Korzeniowski and Shigeru Umebayashi’s score didn’t need to be as good as it was. Putting the class in classical, its Korzeniowski’s pieces that make up much of the score that has a heavy heart. The feeling of tragic sadness that comes and goes in-between moments of regal contemplation is heartbreaking. It’s then Shigeru Umebayashi – who I’ve admired from his work with Wong Kar-Wai – who adds a sense of tension with his Bernard Herrmann-inspired jabs and soothing waltzes."
2) The Miner's Hymns
"It was very sad to hear of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s recent passing. He had released some excellent modern classical albums and was becoming the 'go to' guy for film scores. His score to a documentary on mining towns across the north of England and their subsequent closures may be less well-known. It may have seemed an odd choice to hire the Icelandic composer, but once you hear his digital noise beds set against the rumbling machines, grit and dirt you wonder who else could have done it. The film opens with doomy, gothic organs followed by regimental-style brass with snare hits reminiscent of Bernard Hermann's Taxi Driver opening. But it’s the huge, throbbing brass sections that are the real achievement. Not in a Zimmer or film trailer thoughtlessness but in a proud, mournful and sincere celebration to the ghosts of the past."
1) Les Revenants
"Mogwai have become prolific lately, smashing out a release each year pretty much. Whereas 2006’s Zidane score was a more traditional Mogwai-sounding record, their recent addition of more keyboard parts has made me more of a fan than ever. Their John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream influences are clear, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The sounds are tasteful and their mixes are always excellent considering the amount of layers that they have going on. Guitars and keys are hard to mix right – as we found out ourselves – so hats off to them. They don’t show any sign of running out of ideas."
The Ever Living's debut album Herephemine is out now via Chromism Records (opens in new tab). You can watch their new video for Incandescent Array below.