Review of THENEWNO2 Debut Original Score and Soundtrack to Beautiful Creatures
Single Out on 12th February, 2013
I love reviewing music with layers of complexity and this is a great example. Here we have Dhani Harrison (the son of my favourite Beatle who wrote in my view their best track ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps) with his band thenewno2, writing a soundtrack single for a big screen movie and collaborating with lots of big music names. The soundtrack is available on 12th February through Watertower Music and will be available through all major retailers.
The soundtrack features original score and two unreleased thenewno2 tracks, including ‘Run To Me’ with Ben Harper and Liela Moss (The Duke Spirit) as well as ‘Never Too Late’ also featuring Liela Moss. ‘Beautiful Creatures Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ is the companion to the February 14 theatrical release of Alcon Entertainment‘s ‘Beautiful Creatures’, directed by Oscar nominee Richard LaGravenese from his adaptation of the first novel in the best-selling series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons, Oscar nominee Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann and Academy Award winner Emma Thompson. A supernatural love story set in the South, ‘Beautiful Creatures’ tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena (Alice Englert), a mysterious new girl. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town thenewno2 (as in “the new No. 2,” a line borrowed from TV’s The Prisoner) is a Los Angeles based critically-acclaimed band and collective is led by Grammy Award winner singer/ guitarist Dhani Harrison, three-time Grammy Award winner Paul Hicks (keyboards/ programming) and composer Jonathan Sadoff (keyboards/guitar).
Always expanding their collective, thenewno2 enlisted close to a dozen talented musicians to showcase their talents throughout their original score, including Ben Harper, Liela Moss and Tony Hicks (The Hollies), father of Paul Hicks. thenewno2 created the score over an extensive three-month period in both their hometown studio in Santa Monica, CA and in London, England, where they recorded in the famed Abbey Road‘s Studio 2 with a 54-piece London based orchestra. While this was Harrison‘s first time recording at Abbey Road, this was a homecoming for Paul Hicks. His 12-year tenure at Abbey Road included producing ‘Let It Be Naked’ and working on the acclaimed Beatles re-masters, as well working with artists such as Paul Weller, Manic Street Preachers and Placebo.
In dreaming up the score, LaGravenese wanted a sound for ‘Beautiful Creatures’ that he had not heard before. thenewno2 delivered a melody-driven soundscape that infused electronica and modern rock with a Southern Gothic sultriness, creating a new genre they dubbed ‘swamptronica.’ “Their ideas, their excitement and their creativity knocked me out,” says LaGravenese of thenewno2.
Marveling at the score’s melodic power and richness of sound, LaGravenese deems thenewno2 no mere musical outfit, but “three composers forming one unit, each with a distinct, savant-like talent, with equal parts genius and madness.” The soundtrack single ‘Never Too Late’ launched on 12th February. ‘Never Too Late’ is a haunting melody that whilst has very simple lyrics has many rich layers of instruments underpinning the track and some nice guitar licks. A great partner on the soundtrack for some of their other great songs like ‘Make It Home’.
The collaborators who put this together gave it their own name – “swamptronica” – mixing swampy blues licks and moody electronic beats with big, tense strings. After watching a screening and meeting with director Richard LaGravenese, Dhani told Rolling Stone that he and his band mates decided to put a Southern Gothic spin on the type of classic orchestral scores made by Bernard Herrmann, the late American composer famed for his work on Alfred Hitchcock thrillers like Psycho and Vertigo. If you have never heard thenewno2 then this soundtrack is a great place to start and with the movie launch with high profile cast is likely to be a big cinema hit – generating further interest in the band.
Review by Doug Duffin