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Modern soundtrack reviews.

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    1 Review
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      23.09.2006 20:25
      Very helpful



      Excellent place for finding out about new film scores.


      If anybody is familiar with my reviews, you will know I am an avid fan of film scores (that is original music in films) and in order to get an insight as to what is worth getting and what is not, there arises the necessity to frequent several film score reviewing sites to get a widespread and generally reliable amount of information to base a resolve on. Sites like Jonathan Broxton’s MovieMusicUk and James Southall’s Movie Wave are extremely good, fan operated sites for the more off the radar album reviews, but by and far the leading contender of these sites has to be FilmTracks, owned and operated by Christian Clemmensen. More than any other site, FilmTracks is the leading film score review website, mostly focusing on the most recent soundtrack releases (the subheading indeed is “Modern Soundtrack Reviews”) and has a considerable output on reviewing the recent important film scores. While sites like the aforementioned Broxton and Southall’s sites are entirely fan operated with no income from the reviews and no advertisers appended to the sites, FilmTracks is much more mainstream, though still not quite in touch with the mostly California based composers as Soundtrack.net is (Christian lives in Montana after all). Still, FilmTracks stands pretty much as the number one site for soundtrack album reviews since beginning operation in its present form at around 1999. The site itself has only just earlier this year undergone a complete overhaul, Christian doing several changes to the site’s layout and modus operandi (namely writing his own software and thus holding total independence from service providers).


      The site is very darkly coloured with a black background and white text (and blue links) so it immediately strikes you with its more dramatic appearance than any other review site. As being a site mainly concerned about modern filmscores, the site does not have reviews of old scores, topping in at the 1970 mark at best (and those old ones namely being reviewed near the beginning of the site’s existence). The main page basically has all the relevant links you are likely to need when going around the site’s many different pages and features. What immediately strikes you in the page layout is the pictures of the most recent major albums reviewed, situated on the left side of the page. The five pictures offer links to the most on topic reviews on major scores at the moment followed by a list of links below to former reviews that have held a similar kind of position before being bumped off by the newer reviews.

      Right in the middle of the page can be found the “On Cue” section, which contains a link to any newer, less major review (the reviews not to be included on the main contenders list) as well as expanded older reviews and any site news that may come (these last are infrequent, but do appear if anything of real note happens on site). On the very right hand side can be found several links to different features such as Top 10 Review Clicks, the newest messages on the ScoreBoard Forum and Customer Favourites lists, most of which can also be accessed through the special links on top of the main page. There is also a basic type-it search function.

      Speaking of these special features, on the top, just below the swanky FilmTracks logo, you can find several links to different areas of the site that to varying degrees contain interesting and less interesting stuff. There are several pretty self-explanatory titles: “Reviews by Title” and “Reviews by Year” (both being catalogues); “Site Updates”; “Audio Library”; “Academy Awards” (scores with Oscar noms or wins); and a couple of links for different merchandising like sheet music, advertisements and auctions. The other links include the “ScoreBoard Forum” (more on that later); “Viewer Ratings” (basically general public ratings on scores); “Cool Stuff” that includes the Cue Clue Contest (guess or know a cue and win stuff) though this feature has been suspended for the time being; “On Cue” (explanation for what the below “On Cue” section is all about); “Composer Tributes” (expanded information on particularly high profile composers), which again is not likely to expand with new composers at the time being; “Collector’s Corner” (catalogues on promos, collectible albums, etc.); and “Theme of the Month” (articles on some important occasion or composer focused feature; suspended at the moment).


      The reviews themselves (indeed being the most important part here naturally) are generally very well presented and certainly well written, researched and argued. However, problems tend to arise when Christian goes on a tangent of criticising popular composers and their popular work. In the history of Filmtracks there has been multiple groups of fanboys attempting to basically badmouth Christian for being “immature,” ”a bad reviewer” and “a total git who doesn’t know a good score if it sat on him.” These people are usually the sensitive types that have a composer shrine on which they worship their demi-gods (you know the mad-cap Goldsmith, Elfman, Goldenthal, Horner, Thomas Newman and, most recently, Zimmer fanatics). To be honest, it is these people that often end up offering the most fun spice to the site as Christian himself has a rather twisted sense of humour (by his own admission). And the ways these people often come up with plans on how to kill Clemmensen are really something else such as “your review of Spitfire Grill is f****. I want to hang you by the testicles to an oscillating ceiling fan and use a red hot poker to put some sense into you!” That just as an example of the stuff that can be found on site. And of course there is the usual retort: “You suck at reviewing! You should be replaced,” even though Clemmy is FilmTracks only ruler and god.

      Without doubt, it is often stuff like this that gives Christian a big kick and there is always the joy he gets in slapping the “fanboy definition” on these people, but also makes for fun reading when some people take their hobby way too seriously. Of course, on the flipside there are many intelligent people about too to counter this innane complaining. Personally I enjoy the reviews and find myself often agreeing with Clemmy on several points, though of course there are the odd review I would not sign 100%. On the whole though, these reviews are most useful despite what some people say and Clemmensen is a good reviewer in his own right. And should you be nitpicky about reading white text on a black background, there is a button on the right hand side of the album name that says “Printer friendly version” which reverts the review to a white background (containing the review and track listing, but nothing really more).

      After the re-design, the comment area on reviews (which used to be in a chain at the end of the page) has now been grouped next to the general people voting choices (on which you can star rate a score on a poll), the comments section opening on a new page of their own. However, I have noticed that commenting has dramatically spiralled down on reviews, which probably stems from this particular fact and it is really a shame that spirited abuses and conversations are not as prolific as they once were on reviews (although this may only be temporary).


      The ScoreBoard Forum is the other big side of the site. This is a place where any number of discussions, debates, questions, rants, etc. can be posted and is often frequented by knowledgeable members. Posting on the forum does not require joining unless you want to create a profile in case you are a frequent poster. The thread structuring however is quite different from what you may have seen before on any other forum in that there are no categories in which you create threads on different subjects, but rather everything is in a single, flowing list, with the option of viewing the posts in different ways from folded messages to all messages appearing in one long list either stepped or not or in alphabetical order. There is also a search function should you search for a particular message, word, poster, or simply messages posted within a certain time frame. Other features include a Top 60 posters list, a general help desk and an archive of the ScoreBoard messages from 2000 to mid-2006.

      The archive is another place of exploration really that one could easily find some real off the wall zaniness, the most infamous of course being the legendary “Marxist Oboe” thread that was initiated on December 29th, 2000 at 10:58 am and features some of the most childish, immature, immoral, nasty, dirty, twisted and sacrilegious posts ever to appear on the original ScoreBoard from its turbulent beginning to its more mellowed down concluding stages and features just about every legendary member to have ever frequented the forum. Unfortunately since the site revamping, the old ScoreBoard has been archived and no posting is possible. The Marxist Oboe thread is gone forever.

      Apart from fanboys, the ScoreBoard (and Christian personally) has also been often attacked and spammed by Christian religious groups wanting to either save his soul or damn him to the pits of hell forever (hence my subject headings). Clemmy most certainly is not religious and often finds much enjoyment out of these people (his mottos for the site are “If Jesus was alive, he’d drink Pepsi” and “One guy said: If a**holes had wings, this place would be an airport”). Some of these people have really gone into a lot of trouble such as one esteemed reverend’s lengthy essay (most recently found from the DaVinci Code review) about how film scores are evil and come straight out of hell, or this sweet little piece of info:

      “The day of reckoning has arrived! You, fair man, will die along with the other hedonites of the darkness! Have faith in your music. With Hans Zimmer, you can save your soul and transcend to the Heaven of light and peace. If not, your soul will toil in the agony and mystery of your temptation, and John Williams will be there laughing at you! Trust Zimmer. I know I will. When the END arrives the Lion King will send me away to bliss and harmony!!!!”

      Basically this is what you may expect on the best of days, though the place has somewhat mellowed with time. All in all, the ScoreBoard is most definitely a unique forum and basically anything goes as long as it is not bordering on so annoying that even Clemmy will have trouble digesting it (like Zimmer fans posting multiple innane and insulting posts).


      Well, I still use FilmTracks as my no.1 place to read reviews on the newest scores, and while Broxton and Southall are definitely better reviewers (even by Clemmensen’s own admission), the off-kilter humour and the vast variety of people that frequent the site, not to mention the legendary status of psychedelia, this site is still the most edgy soundtrack reviewsite I know of, if certainly not the place to go should you want to know about less modern scores. To know more about Clemmensen the man and his unique sense of humour, it is suggested to also visit his personal site, the link to which can be found from the bottom of the main page on the right. There you get to know a little of his history, see his resume, and how many times he has seen or done stuff (like accidentally left keys in freezer, being attacked by a ghost or acted upon perverted thoughts). There is also the absolutely hilarious “Faux Pas Page” that contains some of the most unbelievable e-mails he has received over the years and are something I could laugh at for hours on end.

      So as a summary:

      FilmTracks is: No.1 soundtrack review site, edgy, often funny, sometimes has weird people visiting.

      FilmTracks is not: soft, kind to religious zealots or fanboys, very rangy about old or rare albums, an airport.


      (All references are from public records; no offence is meant towards religious people)

      © berlioz, 2006

      (*oh, and this is my first internet review, so be kind* kisses and hugs y’all X-))


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