Developing an approach to the score for THE LANDING was one of those rare experiences where one is reminded that magic can exist, and that it has nothing to do with budgets or deadlines but with the alignment of ideals and a genuine enchantment with them. It is easier, however, to remain enchanted with those ideals if the ingredients are authentically inspiring. Such was the case with the vintage synthesizers used in THE LANDING's score.
There are no digital, software, or modeling synthesizers in the music. Analog instruments such as vintage Moogs, a Prophet 5, and a Swarmatron generated all synthesized sounds. What's unique about analog synthesizers is not only the dense, harmonically rich, and colorful tones they generate – but also the expressiveness of the instruments’ wonderfully conceived filter knobs, wheels, and ribbon controllers when recorded during real-time performance. Such features, in my estimation, have not yet been satisfactorily replicated by software synthesizers and midi controllers.
Adding to this alignment of ideals was the adventurous and inexhaustible passion for film music that David Dodson and Mark Dodson brought to the project. Their expansive sense of how music can connect with various elements of a scene resulted in a fearless and collaborative exchange that any composer would be truly grateful to experience with a filmmaker.
When Mark and David asked me to look into re-recording the John Phillips classic “San Francisco” for the film, my palms began to sweat a bit since the song is iconic, was recorded in the 1960's and, due to how the song functions in the film, needed to authentically communicate the spirit of that era. And if there is anything that nine seasons of producing sound-a-likes on FAMILY GUY taught me, it is that this was a precarious production situation to be in, and that the highest priority was to start with exactly the right artist or band.
Luckily, after just a few phone calls, my friend Tanya Porter (on whom I rely periodically to function as a music supervisor), directed me to the Los Angeles-based band King Washington. Within the first few seconds of hearing them, my palms dried somewhat.
We went to Hollywood’s East West Studio 3 to record our version, which is exactly the room in which Lou Adler and Scott McKenzie recorded their original. Happily, King Washington’s talent and professionalism resulted in a “San Francisco” that far exceeded our expectations and which truly embodies the Summer of Love.
Composer Brian Carr also created several choral pieces for THE LANDING, including the Kyrie Eleison below. These pieces were performed by a group of Los Angeles' finest chorale vocalists.