Monday, 21 April 2014

More Soundtrack Gold

Shogun Assassin OST (1980) - Mark Lindsay & W Michael Lewis
Came across this on the interweb and thought 'What's that something to do with Quentin Tarrantino...yeah Liquid Swords!' Of course Liquid Swords is the Genius/GZA hip hop masterpiece from 1995 that I've discussed before on this here blog. It's possibly the greatest hip hop LP of them all in my book. A big part of Liquid Swords appeal is the twisted music's strange one of a kind vibe as well as the brilliant lyrics, phrasing, beats etc. And a big part of Liquid Swords eerie vibe is the sampling of this Shogun Assassin soundtrack. I'm not usually a tracker of samples, you know a trainspotter, but sometimes sampled songs end up in your collection via different routes. Curtis Mayfield & Liquid Liquid turned up many years later (after being sampled by Ice-T and Grandmaster Flash respectively) when I discovered those artists records. I do have The Winstons version of Amen, Brother on a compilation from whence the Amen break was torn out and I often think 'Why these few seconds of drummage?' Anyway listening to Lindsay & Lewis's soundtrack it's impossible not to think of Liquid Swords. This is the sample stain right? Was that a derogatory term though? I can't remember. Whatever, this soundtrack will always be tied to Genius/GZA in my brain & eardrums. Having said that Shogun Assassin is excellent and I am fairly certain I would love it if I'd not heard or even disliked Liquid Swords. Who are Lindsay an Lewis?? They don't sound particularly Japanese do they? I believe they must be Western ring ins for the dubbed/re-soundtracked English speaking version of this film. They've created some synthy goodness on this record and some unique atmospheres not attained by anyone previously or since. This OST will appeal to 70s analogue synth fiends and the electronic soundtrack headz out there (aren't they one and the same?). One wonders whether the eastern motifs used on a couple of tracks would be considered cheesy, crass or even offensive by the Japanese. Who knows? Who cares? This is the biz.

Un'Ombra Nell'Ombra OST (1979) - Stelvio Cipriani
Still in the field of electronic soundtracks from the late 70s early 80s. I just can't seem to get enough of this stuff. Never seen the film but this is one hell of a soundtrack that I've recently tracked down in digital form. This is the 7th Cipriani soundtrack to cross my path. There's only something like another 200 to go, shit I better not get too obsessed with him. Some of Cipriani's classics include Whirlpool, Gli Orrori Del Castello Di Norimberga and his collaboration with Goblin that seems to be very underrated Solamente Nero but this tops all of those. This is a horror score and all I can find out about it is that it was composed by Cipriani and Goblin's Claudio Simonetti plays synthesiser on it. This isn't as funky, beat driven, easy or symphonic as other Cipriani OSTs. It's a minimal synth prog record with suspenseful bass along with some added clanks and textures. It turns out this was recorded in 1977 but the movie remained unreleased until 79. This places the recording around the same time as the Goblin classic soundtrack to Suspiria and I've gotta say it has a similar vibe but way more stripped back. Un'Ombra Nell'Ombra is one of the best records Claudio Simonetti has played on.  This is another Goblin missing link along with Solamente Nero that may have passed many of you by. Now I'm wondering if Capriani did any other recordings with Goblin members because if they're anything like this we have to hear them.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Don't Touch That Stereo Part I

Millie & Andrea - Drop The Vowels (2014)
This is one of the dudes from Demdike Stare and some other bloke. For some reason I'm really enjoying this record which I didn't really expect to. I don't think anything much new is happening here. There a bit of post dubstep, some gamelan vibes, isolationist type ambience, a dose of Basic Channel, hardcore, drum & bass pops its head up, tech-house (that was a thing wasn't it for a minute there in the 90s?) and I dunno it's all a bit zombie rave (that should so be a genre). Not really hands up in the air more like your arms fall off as you try to raise them above your waste. Is it undeconstructed or reconstuctured deconstruction or constructed unreconstruction? More to the point does anyone give a shit at this point? More nails in the coffin for rave in the best possible sense.

Clouds - Ghost System Rave (2013)
A bit late on this one. Ghost System Rave was only hipped to me in early January by Reynolds via Energy Flash. This is far and away the best album I missed last year, the only other contender being Holden's The Inheritors. It most certainly would have made my top 9. As far as album titles that describe their contents go this is perfection. Whilst the ingredients suggest the 90s, something pulls this away from mere retro-activity. Perhaps Future 1 is the only exception to that rule here as it soundz like an obscure 91 grimey 'ardcore gem that Blog To The Old Skool might have dug up. Ghost System Rave is not just techno micro-genres revisited. Its like you're hearing an early 90s rave through a ghost's ears. You feel like you've heard it before but you haven't, not like this. This is a delightfully askew musical experience. It sounds/feels like you've already dropped the drugs and you're occupying an inbetween dimension. This is an incredible musical achievement. Rave from the otherside. We just had Zombie Rave and now this is Ghost Rave.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

True Detective

Smokin Rust
I think I've just watched the tv event of 2014. True Detective sounded boring to me and the poster was hardly sellin it to me either. It was only after watching Dallas Buyers Club (inspirational renegade movie in the vein of Milk & Erin Brockovich) where Matthew McConaughey put in a sterling performance, did my interest pick up to finally watch True Detective. This show is pretty much a philosophical debate thinly disguised as a Cop Buddy/Southern Gothic Horror drama. There's a fair bit of "I'm Marlon Brando!" "NO I'm Marlin Brando!" where the two leads McConaughey and Woody Harrelson try to out mumble one another. Talk about actors pushing each other to new heights, they both put in outstanding career best performances. The script is dense, funny, thought provoking and unlike anything I've seen or heard in tv recently. There's a definite southern Twin Peaks vibe happening here as the show opens with a dead girl in the middle of nowhere followed by the ensuing murder investigation. Not to mention diaries plus esoteric and occult themes. The academics and theorists must be loving it as I can see a million essays on what the true meaning of all the chit chat between the two leads really means. Which philosophy wins and which one do you side with etc. Nihilism, existentialism, religion, atheism, some cosmic supernatural shit and everything inbetween all get a look in. I'm still getting my head around the flurry of concepts thrust at me during the eight, hour long, episodes. Oh and apart from all that, it's a really bloody intense, scary and thrilling show. Watching Breaking Bad you could basically ignore any subtext and just dig on the propulsive event laden minimal plot which I think I did. That show for me was ultimately pure visceral entertainment in excellis possibly never to be rivalled. True detective sets out to make you think from the minute it starts but doesn't detract from the unfolding dramatic plot. For those of you feeling bereft after the conclusion of Breaking Bad you will be able to find some solace here in True Detective particularly around episodes three, four and five where it rivals the predecessor's edge of your seat thrills. Other parallels can be drawn here particularly with Bryan Cranston and Matthew McConaughey transforming themselves into actors beyond what we could have ever imagined them becoming. Sure now I look back at Malcolm In The Middle and realise that maybe Hal was genius too but I don't think I'll be going back to How to lose A guy In 10 Days and thinking similar things of McConaughey's character. Then again I've been reliably told he has been building up to this since 2011 with his previous six films. This is all a moot point as they are now the two best actors of their generation and seemingly peerless.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Horror Movie Soundtracks Need No Transformation

I've only just noticed this article from late last year where it is claimed that perhaps soundtracks are mere memorabilia and the vinyl reissue boom of horror soundtracks is not necessarily based in "the music's stand alone appeal." It is also claimed that the vinyl resurgence of OSTs of horror may have led to the live revival of certain acts.

Using me as an example lets have a look at these claims. DRG Records had this series of cds in the mid 90s Classic Italian Soundtracks. I have the first two volumes of the Goblin compilations, one on  Ennio Morricone's  trilogy of soundtracks for Dario Argento and 4 volumes of  of the Spaghetti Westerns compilations. Of the 17 soundtracks featured on those 2 Goblin comps I'd seen one of the films, Patrick, at the time. Since the mid 90s I have collected 9 individual scores by Goblin and even a couple from the solo Claudio Simmonetti. Now over 15 years later I've only seen one more of the movies that they scored Suspiria and I'm not even sure if that's worth watching. Three of my all time favourite Morricone scores (sure, I like a few others too) are the 3 he scored for Argento The Bird With Crystal Plumage, The Cat O Nine Tails and Four Flies On Grey Velvet. I've never viewed the movies and probably never will. But this music is some of the all time great music of the Twentieth century.

Now I will pick 10 of my favourite horror soundtracks off the top of my head not including any of the aforementioned.

  • Christine - John Carpenter & Alan Howarth
  • Maniac - Jay Chataway
  • Zombie Holocaust - Nico Fidenco
  • Porno Holocaust - Nico Fidenco
  • Halloween - John Carpenter
  • A Lizard In A Woman's Skin - Ennio Morricone
  • Chopping Mall - Chuck Cirino
  • La Coda Dello Scorpione - Bruno Nicolai
  • The Wicker Man - Paul Giovanni
  • Eraserhead - Alan Splet & David Lynch
These ten soundtracks I have listened to a zillion times (but only seen three of the films) and think the music is fantastic just as much as any other genre of LP I would listen to. In fact surely there is a case for John Carpenter to be considered one of 20th centuries great composers. I don't need some deluxe reissue for this terrific music to be transformed beyond memorabilia, do I Mr Reed? Perhaps your attitude to movie music needs to transform more than anything. I often think a lot of movies don't deserve the brilliant music they get to soundtrack their films. This all fits in with my 'music is a much more successful cultural artform than film' argument that has been mentioned previously on my blog. Sure you might think I'm just a music guy, so of course I'm going to say that. Once upon a time however I was a definite film guy and was going to go into professional movie reviewing.

For how serious and intense people are about soundtracks and sound design you may want to check out the three volumes published from Philip Brophy's Cinesonic conferences in 1998, 1999 & 2000 by The Australian Film TV and Radio School. Brophy also published the excellent 100 Modern Soundtracks which was part of the BFI Screen Guides series in 2004. Perhaps someone should publish (er... maybe me) a book on soundtracks that stand alone as musical artefacts considering I've just come up with 25 of them in this short article.

The live return of people like Alan Howarth, Fabio FrizziGoblin (Goblin have always been around in one form or another as far as I can tell) and another Goblin was inevitable as their cults grew bigger and bigger by the day. More than likely the internet has served as the main reason for these artists' growth in popularity. Having said that, if someone was cluey and cashed up enough in the 90s to promote these artists live I'm sure they would have sold out shows in capital cities across the world.

Don't get me wrong, beautiful new shiny packaging, special artwork and the fetishization of vinyl are all fine things but it's still all about the music innit? I mean Blue Jasmine is an excellent film but I'm not about to rush and buy that OST if its released with a bunch of extra bells and whistles on chunky vinyl am I?

Love the soundtrack & the poster.
I wonder what the film's like?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

More On Video Nasty Soundtracks

I've only just realised there was a 1983 sequel to 1980s The Boogey Man and it is possible Tim Krog was responsible for the soundtrack to that as well as the original but information is thin on the ground. By the looks of things the soundtrack to Revenge of the Boogey Man aka Boogey Man II has never seen the light of day. Now that would be a coup if a record company could get a hold of both of these scores. Although perhaps the original score was just reused. If anyone has any information and can confirm or deny such rumours leave a comment.

I've also discovered this brilliant mixtape of 70s and 80s horror soundtracks at SoundCloud called Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death from RFLX. Its got all your favourite composers Frizzi, Chattaway, Lynch and Splet, Shore, Fidenco, Korzynski etc. I know 95% of this music but it's mixed in such an exciting and propulsive manner that its a joy to listen to despite its familiarity. This is the biz.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Horror Movie Right There On Me Stereo

It's been a daily bonanza in the last few years for lovers of soundtracks with a vinyl fetish. Before that we already had the Trunk and Finders Keepers record labels releasing soundtrack esoterica for over ten years. More recently a bunch of new record labels have popped up to satiate your cult film score needs mainly in the vinyl format. Odd, obscure, cult and classic soundtracks are all getting the reissue treatment. What's incredible is how much of it is great stuff. Horror and electronic scores are getting some much deserved attention from labels such as Death Waltz, Waxwork and the new Belgian label One Way Static. These labels have definitely found a niche market for horror buffs who also love their vinyl. Bloggers (Inferno Music Vault, Digital Meltdown, Sleazy Listening & well the list goes on & on) are probably most responsible for the rise in interest in these sounds. Such blogs have been passionate about bringing classic and little heard, some even unreleased, horror scores into the public spotlight for many years. Of course many of these links are now dead as these new small labels are now reissuing the music. These labels are set up with a ready made audience wanting their product thanks to the enthusiasm and effort put in by the blogging fraternity. The ongoing cults of Morricone, Goblin and Carpenter have led to a trickle down affect for other lesser known but equally excellent film composers Bruno Nicolai, Giuliano Sorgini, Riz Ortolani, Nico Fidenco, Fabio Frizzi, Richard Band etc. The OSTs to Argento and Carpenter directed films have been exhaustively reissued. Its now the time for another bunch of directors films to get a look in Fulci, Lenzi, Girolami, Ferrara, Deodato, Craven etc.

I've been searching for the Day Of The Dead (1985) soundtrack ever since I re-watched it 5 or 6 years ago. I couldn't find it in mp3 form let alone a physical copy. Waxwork re-released it and I bloody missed out but now I think the MP3 is on sale so I guess I'll have to make do with John Harrison's classic 80s synth zombie score in diminished audio. If they get around to releasing Harrison's masterpiece Creepshow I will not be missing out on that! Waxwork were also responsible for one one of my favourite reissues of the 2013, Re-Animator by Richard Band from 1985 as well as the perennially creepy Rosemary's Baby by Krzysztof Komeda.

Death Waltz have covered the obvious ie Goblin and many titles from John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. But new or recent (read post 80s) scores aren't out of the question for their catalogue. Donnie Darko and Room 237 have been issued. Remake scores get a look in as well. Who even knew they remade Maniac or Evil Dead?...Let alone had soundtracks worthy enough to be issued by such a quality label. A reissue of the scores to the original movies of those two wouldn't be unwelcome either. Death Waltz's three most exciting reissues for me have been House By The Cemetery by Walter Rizzati, The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue by Giuliano Sorgini and De Masi's New York Ripper. Now they are set to reissue two of my all time favourite unheralded scores. I only have a crappy mp3 of Ralph Jones' soundtrack to Slumber Party Massacre so I'm looking forward to hearing this in its original glory. This is an exceptional score of melodic pulsating synthy creepiness and minimal mayhem. The other is possibly the cultiest soundtrack item of them all Susan Justin's electronic score to Forbidden World. This has been unavailable since its original release in 1982. Never seen the film (possibly not even strictly a horror flick) but love the soundtrack. 80s new wave synth disco, space age tones, squeaks, squelches, eerie melodies and even mini slices of power electronics make this one of the most unique and best soundtracks of the 80s if not the best. Some of it soundz like it was recorded yesterday and released on Spectrum Spools.

80s Masterpiece
One Way Static have twigged my interest with the imminent release of Roberto Donati's OST to Cannibal Ferox from 1981 although this was only released like less than 2 years ago in digital. This is a classic funky disco psych gem with swathes of intense horror synth. One of Italy's great soundtracks. One Way Static's other releases have been two seventies Wes Craven titles, The Last House On The Left with a soundtrack from David Alexander Hess and Don Peak's score to The Hills Have Eyes.

On the more arthouse tip was last years sublime synthesiser score from Eduard Artemiev for the 1972 Andrei Tarkovsky film Solaris, which made it into my reissues of 2013 list. This was released on Superior Viaduct not really a Soundtrack label but worth a mention as Artimiev's scores have never been released for the western market before. This year the label plan on releasing two more of Artemiev's Tarkovsky soundtracks, the scores to the 1979 Russian cult movie Stalker and The Mirror (1975) will get a release. I recall Stalker having some of the most extraordinary and haunting drones I'd ever heard on celluloid.

There is so much happening in this little sector of the music world I don't know if I can keep up. I'm assuming somewhere along the line Wayne BellTobe Hooper's experimental score to 1974's Texas Chainsaw Massacre will get a release as well as Joe Delia's bizarre soundtrack to Abel Ferarra's Driller Killer (Delia's score to Ferarra's Ms.45 was issued by Death Waltz recently). My wish list would include 3 horror soundtracks I've never been able to track down before. Madeleine-Anitomia Di Un Incubo (1974) composed by Maurizio Vandetti, Chopping Mall (1986) by Chuck Cirino and 1980's Roberto Donati score for Umberto Lenzi's Mangiati Vivi! (Eaten Alive). Oh and what about Tim Krog's fabulous Boogey Man score last issued in its year of release 1980? Surely there is a bidding war going on now to see who gets the vinyl release for the holy grail of Italian horror soundtracks Cannibal Holocaust. I've got that on cd though so who cares?! What do you think I am some kind of vinyl snob?

This was released on California's other SST label in 1980.
*Previous post here on Slumber Party Massacre and one here on The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Skrillex & Time

Had a very brief listen to the Skrillex album Recess and for all its atemporality it sounded very much 2011 to me, the best bits anyway. This had me thinking that perhaps time hasn't completely collapsed. Is there still hope that time will get back on track? Or is it just now we have different versions of the atemporal. Perhaps Skrillex just doesn't have the latest old influences. To be more now/not now (atemporal in 2014) i dunno maybe he needs a bit of disco, EBM, Gabba or_________(insert latest old trend) thrown in the mix. Then will that just date him to now though. Whichever way you look at it, it's still all dated. But it's more complicated than you think. Watch this space.....

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Lamborghini Crystal's Better Than The New Stuff

After really diggin Helm's Silencer from last year I have to say Impasse their new record is pretty disappointing. It just drones on in a very unoriginal manner. Where's the beats? Generic drone is happening now. Why? Who really cares? Clay Rendering's new 12" Waters Above The Firmament was described as recalling The Cocteau Twins, Cranes and Sonic Youth. Was this supposed to entice me or make me wanna throw up. How many more bloody bands are gonna sound like The Cocteaus or Sonic Youth? I think if I read an artist was influenced by Paul Young I'd be more likely to check that out. Hey I loved early Cranes, do I wanna hear someone rippin them off over 20 years later?

Is that JC Peavey in the corner?

I came across a couple of Lamborghini Crystal tapes I had not heard today. It's pretty easy to write off James Ferraro's work as ephemeral due to its abundance and his post Far Side Virtual slide into crapness. However there was once a time when it was very exciting to hear what his latest 5 albums were like. The releases from Lamborghini Crystal I already had 1992 Cool Runnings,  Alien Microwave, Draco Shop Bop Volume 1, Dial 747 Creepozoid and Roach Motel are all top notch. These were peaks in his ridiculous career that were the foretaste of his classic, probably greatest solo outing Night Dolls With Hairspray. Lamborghini Crystal was a duo though that also contained JC Peavey although he could very well be fictitious. Would I dig these two seven year old tapes now that his moment had passed and his reputation was dwindling? Fuck yeah because they're the biz.

Clock Tower Acid could have almost been released on GhostBox. Half of it sounds like early Belbury Poly crossed with later Advisory Circle. It's got a real Euro-library feel. Come to think of it, it might not even be him at all. It could be just some wholesale appropriation of a 70s synth artist. Anyway the other half is like a malfunctioning Ariel Pink robot attempting cartoon noise rock. To top it off it's all recorded on the world's most decrepit tape.

Smoking Out His Majesties UFO is an album that sounds like it was made by a band that only appeared on Z grade soundtracks of straight to video movies from the 80s.  This is a trip that is very not quite right, sounding like they'd dropped acid and recorded it in an amusement arcade. Side 1 is a particularly splendid slice of chopped up baby gonzoid electro space psych.

I am pleased to read on discogs there's 3 more tapes and that I'm still yet to hear. How long will it take to track these down?

Smoking Out His
Majesties UFO


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Ekoplekz - Unfidelity

It's always a good week when Nick Edwards aka Ekoplekz puts out a new LP or tape. This is probably Ekoplekz's most accessible record to date. His usual eerie electronic dub cluster-fuck is more restrained here, with a lot more space. His solo double LP Plezatoinz was perhaps the foretaste of this expansive direction but where those tracks were like 15 minutes long Unfidelity's are a third of the size and a lot more compact. His unpredictable clanky echoes and synth smears are mighty on this album. Melody is even lurking within some of these tracks. Atmospheres and tension are built to unprecedented soundtrack-like levels. It's still undoubtedly Ekoplekz though and his music is in no way diminished. In fact it is quite possibly more powerful. Wow you could even maybe dance to some of these tunes. Ekoplekz is still the sound of the wintry demise of capitalism, industry and time. Or is it just the sound of a man trying to manipulate his wayward machines? Analogue Twitch and the humidity of Coalpit Heath are pointing toward the day when Ekoplekz will make the perfect dystopian summer album. Unfidelity is the album of the year and it's only March.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

It's Glam Party Time II....With Susie Quatro

To be quite honest I don't recall this one from childhood. Maybe it wasn't a hit in Australia however I was only a toddler at the time. Actually it got to no. 4 here but the other 3 here were number ones. I think she was bigger in Australia than anywhere else, having hits long after this little run of gold.

To me these are the 4 classics that were released in succession. The next couple I didn't like so much (but others rate them). That's 4 classics though. The Buggles only managed one.