Cremator, The [coll] – [Finders Keepers Records]
Czech New Wave Cinema of the 1960’s had some pretty twisted, beautifully filmed and challenging films, many of which were not seen for decades due to the government banning them. Juraj Herz’s “The Cremator”, from 1969 is one of these. The tale of a cremator who is obsessed with the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the passing of the Dalai Lama, who is influenced by Nazi sympathizers (it takes place in the 1930’s) who talk to him about the importance of his partial German heritage, his half Jewish wife who is the mother of his two sons, his eventual spiral into madness as he realizes it is his purpose to send people back to the dust from which they came… let’s just say it won’t end well. It’s described as a horror comedy. Well, if anyone can make Nazi’s funny, the Czech’s can. A film with this overwhelming storyline needs a strong soundtrack and classic Czech experimental soundtrack composer Zdenek Liska does the trick. Moving away from his usual found sound and re- sampling type style, Liska goes orchestral for this endeavor. Rich, haunting orchestral pieces with soprano singer Vlasta Soumarova Mlejnkova chanting out vocalizations of sounds, not words, fill the spaces. Think echoes in large abandoned cathedrals where sounds bounce around, “celestial choral” sections accompanied by chimes and bells. Think giallo richness. Think old school haunted houses where strangeness lurks. Beautiful moody settings, perfect for a crematorium. Indulge. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.