KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Morricone, Ennio – "End of The Game" – [Dagored]

cinder   7/7/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

End of the Game was a 1975 cult noir movie starring John Voight and Jacqueline Bisset. A drama/mystery/crime thriller – “When a Swiss cop is murdered, a veteran homicide inspector and a rookie are assigned to solve the case but they are obstructed by interfering Swiss politicians.” The score is classic Morricone – themes, rhythms and crescendos that pull on your heart strings and reach into your deepest, most vulnerable, inner emotions. His compositions are always so gorgeous, and full of cinematic perfection. There’s the lovely moody pianos, the soft strings, the gentle horns, the ghostly singing…. and of course there’s a dash of some funky 60’s sounding instrumentals! Ennio e magico!    

Smeaton, Bruce – “Iceman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – [Southern Cross]

whngr   6/18/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Pensive orchestral fare with a predominant theme of transverse (bamboo?) flute.


Tension, release, tension, release. Drama, whimsy, discovery, resolution. It’s all tension and release. Floating, feeling, finding, flaying. Anxious, furtive stabs of viola, whimsical and alternately horrifying expulsions of over-blown flute, harp, timpani, plucking, pinching and protracted swells of strings, French (and perhaps other varieties of) horn all reinforcing themes of confusion, despair, realization, and deliverance. Track A5 (Vivarium) employs some furtive, curious electronic dabbling like drops of understanding falling into a pool of consciousness.


Iceman is a major-studio box office release from 1984 that hinges on the discovery of a paleolithic hominid (Neanderthal) dubbed Charley by the scientists who were able to resuscitate him from his 40,000 year cryogenic slumber and the ethical consequences of said action. Is he a man or a beast? A sentient being with autonomy or a living relic to be caged and studied? A film that I watched repeatedly in my early youth when I briefly had access to cable and was incapable of escaping the perceived safety of the suburban home I inhabited. Not a terrific film but one which presented interesting ideas that I am still considering deeply, what does it mean to be a man, and what does it mean to be free? I imagine a world covered in ice, one bristling with constant danger, where survival depends on your training, biology, and understanding of an incessantly hostile terrain. An existence surrounded by spirits and gods that deeply inform ones awareness and fate. A far simpler time with fire and blood, tooth and horn, family and foe, the stars and… ice. One where our world was filled with profound mysteries and brutal repercussions to even the slightest of missteps. And I wonder, would I have fared better then? Surely not. But I imagine I would not feel as disconnected, miserable, and hapless in a world that seems to be lacking in spiritual resonance while charging blindly, without hesitation, towards the obliteration of our “advanced” species.

Reynolds, Graham – "A Scanner Darkly" – [Lakeshore Records]

cinder   6/5/2021   CD, Soundtrack

A musical journey sculpted from many different genres, creating an interesting soundscape. There’s twinges of soft country-surf, loungey bar Lynch’s, electronica, whirli-gigs, xylos & violins…. an overall dark vibe. The film tells the story of identity and deception in a near-future dystopia constantly under intrusive high-tech police surveillance in the midst of a drug addiction epidemic… so that sets the tone. There’s whimsical sounds, dark brooding ventures and tripped out tracks. Music made by Graham’s Golden Arm Trio, and the last 2 are one each from Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto) & DJ Spooky!

Acanthus – “Le Frisson Des Vampires” – [Finders Keepers Records]

whngr   6/4/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Sweet Stoner/Psych rock to accompany a slightly trashy (blue) French film featuring mostly fem vampires sans clothing or a sensible plot, ca. 1971.

Beautiful sultry instrumental sounds that revolve around guitar but include flute, bells, hand drums, organ, and bass guitar. Also included are some sound bites from the film in English (dubbed) and a variety of quizzical animal noises. A bit of a jam sound but the guitar phrasing ties the tracks together marvelously. Rad, sometimes sad, and bad to the bloody bone. I was able to track down the original version en Français however “Le Frisson Des Vampires” was released to English speaking audiences as “The Shiver of the Vampires” which was watchable… but only by a (70’s muff) hair.

Attributed to a five piece project with no other releases which is a shame as they rule the riff-rocket pretty hard while sporting monster sideburns and killer threads.

An expansive sheet of liner notes is included with this LP staying true to Finders Keepers formulae of absolute historic transparency… similar to the diaphanous robes of the vampire servants depicted in this marvelously kitsch movie where it is possible to learn everything you never thought you wanted to know about Jean Rollin and his unique taste on film making, the actors’ complete works, and a history of French erotic vampire cinema.

Previn, Andre – “4 Horsemen of The Apocalypse (Original Sound Track), The” – [MGM Records]

whngr   6/4/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Grandiose orchestral soundtrack fare with a few compelling song titles.

Horns, viola, timpani, cello, violin, tuba, oboe, flute, the whole gang’s here. One sorta classic loungy love song on B2, “Mine For The Moment”.
Much like the film the tracks on this LP bounces from cloyingly sweet to overly dramatic and often contain suspenseful passages or moments of life rending epiphany. Unfortunately this is not a tale of the apocalypse, cataclysm, nor of the Anti-Christ’s return to his throne on Earth… ’tis instead a film about family, love, and betrayal that hinges on espionage and the French Resistance during the Third Reich’s occupation during WWII. However, it does contain multiple allusions to the final chapter of the New Testament where four unholy riders, Conquest, War, Famine, and Death are given reign over a quarter of the earth so that they might decimate humanity… and much to my delight a few scenes where this is image is depicted, in my miserable opinion, quite convincingly though often superimposed over the main characters in this slightly lame and dated drama. It was achingly long (2:33:13) and they seemed to have spent a fair amount of money on it, thus the small sum I spent to view it online tells me that I have received a fairly good return on my investment and thus I am reinforced in my belief that it is important for me to have seen any and all films corresponding to the soundtracks I review for… your source. But don’t bother with the movie, trust me. Unless you are a completist with Nazi themed romances or depictions of fantastic death riders. Soundtrack is pretty good though, try the last two tracks if you’re feelin’ up for something classic and classy if slightly bombastic and pretentious.

Pierre, Alain – “O Sidarta” – [Finders Keepers Records]

whngr   5/14/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Abstract exploration of synthesizer with some rhythm and vocal elements sprinkled with sound effects and field recordings, the soundtrack to a strange Belgian arthouse short.

Bubbling, pulsing, and sweeping analog synthesizers are the meat of this long player with brief sojourns into Bongoland, Bassville, Bird-callington and myriad other oddities that were very probably informed by a considerable amount of illicit substances.

Ô Sidarta is a Belgian short film by Michel Jakar scored by Alain Pierre that explores the work of French illustrator Phillipe Druillet. Employing oblique and strange footage of the artist in and around his studio circa 1974, including stills of his bizarre science fiction comic book panels of arcane alien landscapes and figures with some minimal animation elements. This last aspect was the primary reason I was compelled to purchase this album, sensing promise in period psychedelia and analog synthesizer, though disappointingly the animation was not a rendering of the artist’s work per say, but of relatively simple scenes of movement through celestial bodies and other psychedelic ephemera. For this miserable volunteer the most compelling aspect of the film was the footage of Druillet working on the image that would be used as the cover for this beautifully packaged LP… that and the killer mustache of the artist in his natural environs.   Two sidelong tracks, so take it easy for a bit and let your mind wander into a mysterious and remote part of your consciousness. Explore the realm that is within you. An entire universe of spacescapes and subterranean echo chambers of the self. Float, fade, stain… just make sure you’re back in time for the legal ID at the top of the hour.   

Villard, Michel – "Les Musique Des Films De Charlie Chaplin" – [Disques Vogue]

aarbor   3/17/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin was an English comic actor, filmmaker and composer who rose to fame during the silent film era. His life was a true rags to riches story as his childhood in London was quite impoverished. His best known character is “the Tramp”. He directed and produced his own films, also wrote them, edited them, starred in them, and wrote the music. On this album you’ll find music from: his silent films: The Kid (1921), A woman of Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), The Circus (1928), City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936), his first sound film The Great Dictator (1940) which satirized Adolf Hitler, and his later films: Limelight (1952), A King in New York (1957) and A Countess from Hong Kong (1967). AArbor

Aparicio, Jaime Delgado – "El Ambajador Y Yo" – [Vampi Soul]

aarbor   3/3/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Looking at the album cover you would think that this record is a bit on the dark side, but not very dark. The film is from 1966 and that explains the sound which is very enjoyable but not too challenging: mostly jazz, with some surf, a bit latin and rock. The composer is Jaime Delgado-Aparicio of Lima, Peru – a graduate of the Berklee School in Boston. Just enjoy this – it’s a guilty pleasure. AArbor

Frost, Ben – “Dark Original Soundtrack” – [Invada Records]

whngr   2/23/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Foreboding dreamscapes of cinematic majesty.Gorgeous sweeps of strings and synthesizer. Tension, terror, and psychological torpor.It’s a good series with an excellent soundtrack by Australian/Icelandic composer, Ben Frost who is both well represented in our library and an absolutely stunning example of masculine beauty. Every element of this album works perfectly to instill a disturbing aural environment to accompany the imagery and performances. The cadence is impressively somber. Themes to a nightmarish journey through mysterious other-worldly confusion. A masterpiece in my esteem.

Dark is a beautiful science-fiction series from Deutschland that on paper should tick all my boxes but sadly due to its pace, plot, and perspective has a tendency to put this miserable volunteer to sleep. I will not relent however, though I have attempted to watch the sixth episode six times now, I will tenaciously repeat until satisfied… perhaps another six attempts will suffice. I have come to believe that this soundtrack and its visual accompaniment is, in fact, a diabolical spell devised for deep sleep with disturbing dreams. Whose opening stanzas weave a nearly narcoleptic incantation propelling the listener/viewer into a fathomless cavernous repose.

Dr. Goldfoot and The Girl Bombs [coll] – [Tower Recordings]

aarbor   2/3/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

This is the soundtrack to a 1966 Eurospy comedy film. It was shot in Italy and released in an English version and an Italian version which are notably different plot-wise. Vincent Price is the mad scientist (Dr. Goldfoot) who is working with the Chinese government to use exploding female robots to disrupt a scheduled NATO war-game by blowing up the various generals involved in the exercise (one of whom looks exactly like Goldfoot, and whom Goldfoot later impersonates). Fabian is the hero who works to thwart the plot, that is, when he is not busy chasing women. The film ends with an extended frantic chase through the streets of Rome, and Goldfoot attempting to start World War III between Russia and the United States by dropping a nuclear bomb on Moscow. The music is 1960s pop music by a variety of artists you’ve probably never heard of, but it’s fun. AArbor

Tango Lesson, The [coll] – [Sony Classical]

aarbor   11/18/2020   CD, Soundtrack

This is the soundtrack to Sally Potter’s 1997 semi-autobiographical film The Tango Lesson. Sally, a filmmaker and screenwriter suffering from writer’s block, is dissatisfied with her film project, a murder mystery called Rage, which features the fashion industry. Taking a break, she travels to Paris, where she sees the dancer Pablo (Pablo Verón) performing tango. She becomes obsessed with the dance and offers Pablo a part in her film in exchange for dance lessons. The music is both traditional Argentinian tangos [tracks 5 and 17 are iconic] alongside tracks by Fred Frith which are stylistically very different. AArbor 

Abbott, Luke – “Music For a Flat Landscape: Original Soundtrack to The Goob” – [Buffalo Temple Music Recordings]

lexi glass   11/11/2020   12-inch, Soundtrack

Music for a Flat Landscape collects ten tracks that were originally scored for the 2014 film The Goob by electronic composer Luke Abbott. The film tells the story of a teenager growing up in Abbott’s hometown of Norfolk in rural England, and its soundtrack of softly shifting twilight tones and nighttime field recordings is meditative but in motion, flowing the way time passes when you’re young. Released on Abbott’s label Buffalo Temple.

Cafe De Los Maestros – [coll] – [Surco Recrods]

aarbor   9/16/2020   CD, Soundtrack

The soundtrack to a documentary movie directed by Miguel Kohan featuring interviews with  musicians and singers from Argentina’s Golden Age of Tango ( 1940’s and ‘50’s – before Astor Piazzolla). Uruguay’s Lagrima Rios appears here on the 2nd track on both CDs. Two CDs worth of lovely antique tango music, the grandmother musically speaking of what you hear from Gotan Project, Bajofondo and others these days.

AArbor

Blonksteiner, Alexander – “Cannibal Apocalypse” – [Death Waltz Recording Co]

whngr   5/4/2020   12-inch, Soundtrack

A horrible Italian flick provides the vehicle for an excellent soundtrack for its time, providing a groovy, funked out background for nibbling on necks or shaking your polyester clad ass at your next retro-themed spooky dance party (DM me for deets). Walking bass lines build tension, wistful flute takes it away. Piano, smokey saxophone, classical guitar, funk guitar, viola, synth, drums, all in line with other Italian scores of the period. But this isn’t a zombie movie or an art movie. It’s not scary, sexy, or understandable. It’s an absolute mess is what it is: A band of deranged flesh chompers and deviants lead by the sometimes hero and reluctant cannibal Norman Hopper (John Saxon) who contracts some sort of affliction while serving in the Vietnam War along with a few other members of his unit where upon returning stateside they are compelled fuck shit up and take a few bites of passerby along the way. So, this is far from cinema. More of a drive-in make-out movie for October 1980 and the sounds on this LP reflect that. Part horror/suspense and part European skin-flick score, the film isn’t sure what it is either. However it was one of the 39 films successfully prosecuted and banned in the UK during Britain’s Video Recording Act of 1984. Apparently the version I was able to track down was the American version which was heavily edited to receive an R rating down from an X which explains a lot for me. This is just a bad movie (bad to the bone). It is spitting in the face of convention just for the sake of doing it. Shaking the cages of the dominant paradigm, rebellious and misguided, it attempts to forge new ground by melding two naughty genres to create something that no one would be proud of… excepting one A. Blonksteiner (Alexander/Alessandro). It’s weird, it’s funky, and it is unacceptable to take bites out of your neighbor’s pervy under-age daughter but if you jus’ wanna shake yo’ thang to these killer grooves Honey, that is just fine.

Ifukube, Akira – “Atragon” – [Toshiba-EMI Limited]

whngr   4/20/2020   CD, Soundtrack

When you’re freezing kaiju you may want to employ a giant flying submarine/drill manned by a stoic crew of fearless Japanese men and when you want aural accompaniment to the saving of the world from a subterranean race of scantily clad aristocracy you may as well select a composer profoundly familiar with colossi of every imaginable breadth, heft, and height, Akira Ifukube (Ah-key-rah Ee-fhoo-coo-bay). The man behind the scores to Godzilla(1954), Rodan(1956), Mothra vs. Godzilla(1962), Daimajin(1964), and 175 other titles that he wrote before his death in 2006 along with myriad other compositions that were part of video games connected with the films and many other projects that would borrow his works posthumously.
You know the score, orchestral marches, tense viola, timid xylophone, over-blown trumpet, vintage spooky operatic wails, huge resonate cello, sultry oboe, querulous piano, thunderous timpani, worrying organ, shimmering cymbals, terror inducing tuba… all standard fare for the Japanese mega-monster flick by the man whose compositions would become synonymous with the genre.
A powerful and sometimes beautiful soundtrack to a less than amazing film. One worth watching despite it’s dismissable plot and mediocre performances, primarily for the laboriously complex period special effects and a glimpse into yesteryear’s swelling appetite for “blockbusting” science-fiction cinema.

Andersen, Kristian Eidnes / Von Trier, Lars – “Antichrist” – [Cold Spring Records UK]

whngr   1/23/2020   12-inch, Soundtrack

Two beautiful (and to my ear, cloying) tracks composed by George Frideric Handel and 6 brooding, malevolent horror-scapes by department head of the sound design department at the National Film School of Denmark in collaboration with film writer/director Lars Von Trier that could be just about anything, heavily modified cello, an empty room, bowed sheet metal, a tea kettle with reverb, singing bowls submerged in tears, human breath through a saxophone sans reed, a blue whale on ergot of rye dreaming of the crypts below Paris.
The dichotomic nature of this album is alarming, especially within the context of the film. The lush aural filigree of Handel juxtaposed with the dark, abstract, and otherworldly landscapes built by K.E.A.and L.V.T. adds to the tension. The profound contrast is as jarring as any of the film’s three major climaxes. A film I enjoyed but was also slightly alarmed by. When it first came out I watched it alone and was perplexed. I needed others to see it as well, though I had a hard time recommending it, which might be easily understood by anyone who has seen the film. Let’s just say that it isn’t entirely clear who the target audience is or the message there in. So that I could perhaps gain some perspective, especially a woman’s perspective I asked the girl that I was flirting with at the time to come over for dinner and a movie (which would turn out to be my first ever Netflix and chill) but with the caveat that this movie might not be the best date movie (much less a first date movie). I was pleased when she suggested we watch it after we finished dinner. I was also pleased, though I fell asleep about half way through my second viewing, that the beautiful and slightly touched object of my desire chose to invite me into her libidinous clutches for a passionate and satisfying tête-à-tête after the credits began to roll. However, I thought this could be a very serious red-flag as well. Happily that turned out not to be the case and even if our courtship was relatively short lasting, I have only fond memories of this quizzically complex and stunning belle, and as of this writing, we remain friends. I’m sorry that it ended but it was painless and simple, very unlike the film, Antichrist.

Jóhannsson, Jóhann – “Arrival (Original Soundtrack)” – [Deutsche Grammophon]

whngr   6/6/2019   12-inch, A Library, Soundtrack

The soundtrack to Dennis Villeneuve’s time-bending science-fiction suspense film is strange and otherworldly with unusual voicing and heavily modified instrumentation that is as mellifluous and soothing as it is abstract and unfamiliar. Deep drone, alien vocal arrangements, strings from The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and beautiful if bizarre vocalizations from the Theatre of Voices, sparse percussion and an overarching minimalism convey distance, introspection, and liminal phantasmic qualities. Arrival was composed by the late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Blade Runner 2049, Sicario, Mandy), and was scored during the apex of his relatively short but voluminous and perhaps influential cinematic career (the third of four films films with Villeneuve). He died like a rock star, at the peak of his game, his system flooded with alcohol and cocaine which, in my mind, makes him a legend and and also kind of an asshole. However, that is of little consequence, the sound(s) that he generated were brilliant, often employing near sub-sonic drones that would utilize the incredible range and volume of modern theater sound systems to mesmerizing and visceral effect. Rivaling both Motörhead and Holy Mountain era Sleep in obscenely over-the-top volume, I saw Blade Runner 2049 (another example of a [less than amazing] film that just happened to be an exceptional vehicle for Jóhannsson’s sound design) in a nearly empty theater and was thrilled at the way my rib-cage would shudder at the unearthly sound. It became tactile. I was immersed in a compressible fluid that was both turbulent and resonate. When the medium of air becomes that warped and disturbed we can be transported to a place that is foreign and dire. Not unlike outer space or the chambers that house the hyper-evolved “Heptapods”, the extraterrestrial demagogues in the film. Our atmosphere is as untenable to them as theirs is to ours so the linguistic protagonists must meet with these beings separated by a transparent barrier in an attempt to learn, with some great difficulty, to communicate with them and the consequences that come with first contact with a species that is technologically and militarily superior. This separation from the familiar is important to the sound and ultimately the feeling of the film. Jóhannsson was aware that “people are hungry for new sounds, and for the experience of listening to unfamiliar music…” and this awareness was what compelled him to make an extraordinary film score for a striking film, with one gnarly twist, about love, determination, and communion with our extrasolar squid overlords.

Twin Peaks-Fire Walk [coll] – [Warner Bros.]

mickeyslim   11/21/2018   CD, Soundtrack

Soundtrack to David Lynch’s film and accompaniment to the TV series, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Music composed by frequent Lynch collaborator, Angelo Badalamenti. Sexy, sultry, somber detective jazz. Smoky atmospheres, voices of Jimmy Scott, and damn fine cups of coffee…

 

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