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E.S. Posthumus - Music for the Movie Geek In All of Us!

by Scott Weinberg & Natasha Theobald

We know you. You're a movie geek who's frequently quite curious about the often-anonymous "trailer music" that's heard booming out of your local multiplex speakers. There is a solid handful of artists who toil away creating just this type of 'coming attraction' music, and then there are some who just kind of chance into the field through a formula of luck, style, and talent. Brothers Franz and Helmut Vonlichten fit that description perfectly - and odds are you already know a half-dozen of their tracks pretty well, even if you've not yet heard of "E.S. Posthumus." But with the release of their brand-new CD, "Unearthed," you now have no excuse; this is a great collection of orchestral music. So we sat down to share a chat with the brothers, and then we kicked back to enjoy the CD, just so we could be among the first to share with you the brothers' very slick and very cinematic musical stylings.

Ever seen the trailers for Daredevil, Spider-Man, Minority Report, Pirates of the Caribbean, Planet of the Apes, xXx, The Time Machine, Spy Game, Unfaithful, The Clearing, Vanity Fair, The Recruit, or National Treasure? Of course you have; you're a movie freak. And if you found yourself tapping your foot along to these clips while wondering "Who writes these sorts of high-energy instrumental pieces?" - then we'd like to introduce you to Franz and Helmut Vonlichten. Better known as E.S. Posthumus, the brothers create music that's not precisely the sort of stuff you'll hear on Top 40 radio ... and that's meant to be a compliment.

For the trailer fans out there, it used to be that the only way you could acquire the Posthumus tunes was through 'unsavory' means. But no more! On May 5th you can purchase your very own copy of the brothers' first CD. It's called "Unearthed," and it includes all of the coolest Postuhmus tunes that you know from the movie trailers. To celebrate and support this fantastic CD release, we decided to pick the brothers' brains just a bit, and here's how that chat turned out:

How did your music manage to enter into the whole "movie marketing" realm?
We would imagine the cinematic nature of our music tends to work well with visuals.

Which movie trailer(s) do you think utilize your music the best way?
To tell you the truth, we don't go to the cinema very often. I do recall seeing the advertisement for the Spider-Man film. That seemed to work well.

What would you call your "breakout" spot? The one that had everyone asking "Hey, what WAS that music there...?
The big hit CBS television show Cold Case uses our song "Nara" for its theme song and we've gotten a lot of great response from that.

Would you enjoy the opportunity to write a full-length movie score?
Maybe somewhere down the road but we're really enjoying making records for the time being.

How's it feel to have one of your pieces played on worldwide television once a week?
It's been awesome. The fact that Cold Case is such a well-written, well-shot TV show makes it all the sweeter.

How did you decide which of your pieces to leave OFF of Unearthed?
We always sort of dug listening to LPs as kids - when the sequencing of an album was so important. When you go back and listen to records like "Dark Side of the Moon" you realize the time and effort that was taken into assembling the finished product, after mixing was finished, in order to take the listener on the intended emotional journey. We really tried to put some deep thought into what material we included and the sequencing of "Unearthed." It's very tempting to put as much material as possible onto a CD because of the storage capacity, but even The Godfather had a lot of footage left on the cutting room floor.

How do you think your type of music would sell in a Wal-Mart or a Best Buy?
We have made no expectations. And the record comes out on May 3rd in stores throughout the U.S., so I guess we're going to find out pretty soon.

Did you want to market the CD to the "movie geek" crowd, since we were among the first to "discover" your music?
We're very grateful that we had such a great fan base on the internet, where songs could originally only be found, but our focus right now is to hit as broad of a base as we can. "Nara" has been released as the first single to AC radio and it's currently reached #4 this past week in the Top 10 most added tracks to AC Mainstream radio. We're really excited about that.

Why is your personal biographical information steeped in such mystery, and is the information offered on their behalf a put on or is it accurate?
We feel that we've been really straightforward with our biographical info and it is absolutely 100% accurate. But we really wanted to try to keep the emphasis on the music and not on Helmut and Franz, which is why it may seem that we've kept ourselves in the background a little bit.

Do you have a story in mind as you create a piece of music?
We don't know if an exact 'story' would be accurate, but we think when we are writing music, whether it's about an emotion, a visual, a memory, there's always some musical equation we're trying to work out. There's always something going on upstairs for us as we write these songs.

How have your musical influences specifically shaped your work?
Our music influences include artists such as Mahler, AC/DC, Elgar, Led Zeppelin, Edith Piaf, The Angry Samoans, Debussy, Thelonious Monk, and Crystal Method.

How were you able to hook up with those who play instruments or provide vocals for your tracks?
We've known and played with most of them all of our lives.

Who do you perceive to be the audience for your music?
It's really diverse. We've sold records to 60 year old guys in China and 45 year old women in the mountains of Virginia, as well as a ton of college kids and video gamers all over the world.

What will you hope to do with your next release that you may have been unable to do with this one?
We just want to keep experimenting and making music that we're into and that inspires us and hopefully that will translate into a positive listening experience for others.

In experimenting with sounds, what instruments or other items would you like to explore in the future?
We've been playing around with some pretty cool stuff in the laboratory, but we're not quite ready to let the cat out of the bag yet.

So with the intro and the conversation out of the way, our resident music expert, Ms. Natasha Theobald, sat down to experience the joys of "Unearthed," and here's what she had to say about the CD:

Welcome to the world of E. S. Posthumus.

You may not be familiar with the name, but, more likely than not, you have heard the sounds of E. S. Posthumus. Their song "Nara" is the theme song for the CBS show Cold Case, and their music has been used in countless other shows, movie trailers, and feature films. Titles range from Spider-man to The Matrix Reloaded to Planet of the Apes and more. May 3 will mark the release of their CD Unearthed. While not a soundtrack in the strictest of terms, it could be said that this is music for the movie lover in all of us.

E. S. Posthumus is the brainchild of brothers Helmet and Franz Vonlichten, whose earliest days were filled with music, as they studied with their mother, a classical pianist. The duo came together in the year 2000 and dubbed themselves E. S. Posthumus to represent "experimental sounds" of "all things past." Inspired by the Pythagorean Philosophy that "music is the harmonization of opposites," the brothers work to combine modern and classical influences into a seamless whole. They pull ideas from ancient cultures and modern technology alike. The combination results in sounds electronic, choral, orchestral, and more. Voices chanting Latin ground the music in history while high concept musical story-telling vaults it to operatic heights. I would compare it to something similar; I'm just not sure there is anything else quite like it.

This music is filled with passion and energy. It is bold, completely unafraid. True to the name, there are sounds from seemingly every place in the world and every sonic realm of possibility. It feels all-encompassing. It overwhelms the senses and provokes the mind. It captures the crossroads of our time in history in an interesting way, respecting what has gone before while embracing what is new. In that way, perhaps it is truly timeless. The familiar elements are so well blended with the unknown that it becomes less so. This is the reason we so often sit in the dark of a theater - to be swept away, to be made to feel, to be told a story, to be transported through time.

At this point, I would generally try to select a few favorites among the track listings and talk about why they are the best among the rest. I'm not quite sure that's possible here. The experience of the CD works so well as a whole that it seems counterproductive to cherry pick. Sure, producers looking for the one song to use in their trailer have to play favorites, but I have the whole CD at my disposal. I choose not to choose. It's like the difference between going to Jamaica for a week-long vacation and having some jerk chicken for lunch. You'll take the one, but who are we kidding? Total immersion is preferable.

As to who will enjoy this CD, aside from movie lovers who yearn for a good modern score, I think this is a must for all drama queens, a maybe for people who love classical music, rock, pop, opera, or cool jazz, and a possible for the other two of you. I hate to gush, but I have to be honest. This is a new favorite for me. It's not often that something genuinely different, truly unique, comes along. And, while this music has threads of many elements pulled together within it, that for which they have been interwoven seems startlingly fresh and newfound, almost subversively non-formulaic. If that doesn't spark your curiosity, I don't know what will.

-

Now that's a CD review! We here at EFC/HBS are honestly quite thrilled to help introduce E.S. Posthumus to the movie fans of the 'net, mainly because we've been big fans for years now! I can recall hearing two of the Posthumus tracks used in the original Spider-Man trailer - and absolutely LOVING them. Thanks to the fantastic website Soundtrack.net, I was able to figure out where the music came from. And this was three years ago!

So we go to all this trouble (not trouble, really, because it's what we love) to give you the bottom line: "Unearthed" is an absolute treat, especially if you're the sort of music lover who adores cinematic scores and unique instrumental compositions. This CD has rousing action-type cues, slow and lovely romantic strains, and atmospheric attitude all the way through. Trust us on this one, movie fans. "Unearthed" hits the streets on May 5th, and you can get a copy of your own by clicking right over here.

And you can thank us later.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1458
originally posted: 04/29/05 03:22:44
last updated: 09/24/05 06:56:42
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