- David Bentley
Featured Artist – Thomas Bergersen, Norwegian composer
You may not know it but there is the mother of all debates going on online about who are the top musical composers of our era.
By composers I mean those who not only physically compose (usually orchestral) music but who can reasonably be compared with the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach, and Strauss. There are probably more than you think and I have seen a reasoned argument that we are in the midst of a ‘second golden age’ of instrumental music.
Many modern-day composers inhabit a ‘genre’ that did not exist in previous centuries – the movie score – and numbered amongst them are the likes of John Powell, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore and the daddy of them all, John Williams. They have the benefit of external visual stimuli that Mozart and Beethoven couldn’t even have dreamt of.
From our Nordic lands, two quickly spring to mind. One is Nightwish’s Tuomas Holopainen (Finland), who doesn’t write film scores but whose work is otherwise heavily influenced by them. Indeed it is high time Holopainen did write a full film score and I wonder if the second side of the recent album Human. : - : Nature, which is entirely orchestral, and which doesn’t involve any otherband member apart from one brief squeal of Celtic pipes, is suggestive that he might follow that pathin the future.
The other is Norway’s Thomas Bergersen, another major writer of film music and a square-jawed broad-shouldered hulk of a bloke who looks like he should be an ice hockey player. You haven’theard of him? Well, if you’ve seen any of Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Twilight Saga, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code, The Mummy, The Dark Knight, Tron: Legacy (amongst hundreds of others) down at your local multiplex then you’ve certainly heard him.
This is a good time to be bringing him to your attention. Since 2010 he’s released a dozen albums under the banner of Two Steps from Hell, a collaboration with the Briton Nick Phoenix, who specialises in film trailer music. Separately, there have been four solo albums. He’s prolific.
This year there will be at least one new solo album. An album called ‘Catch Me’ is slated for release before the end of the year.
But prior to that comes ‘Humanity’, which is being released as a set of ‘chapters’ from 1st July. Each chapter has its own theme. According to Thomas’ social media the first chapter has nine new tracks, spanning a wide range of musical styles and emotions that shaped him as a music producer over the decades. The total number of tracks for the entire series is over 60, with music ranging from the softest lullaby to the heaviest metal. He says, “’Humanity’ is my ultimate rebellious statement.”
Do I see a connection between ‘Humanity’ and ‘Human. : - : Nature’? Yes. Both musicians, he and Holopainen, seem to be putting down a statement: their take on the respective good and bad on the planet in these weird times (although both albums were undoubtedly written before the pandemic).
The first chapter is about beauty, strength, freedom and unity and the first song is ‘So Small’. He’s already played a live streamed version of it as a tribute to Norwegian health care workers. The song /video is about (quote) “the power of music”. Nightwish’s opening song on ‘Human. : - : Nature’ is called ‘Music’ and is about…well, I don’t have to say, do I?
These two need to get together.
Even if punk and rap are your thing take five minutes to listen to this masterpiece.
More details on his website.