KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Doctor Who: Series 11 – [Silva Screen Records Ltd.]

Sir Cumference   9/26/2021   CD, Soundtrack

Segun Akinola’s music for Doctor Who is very much a departure from the music of Murray Gold, who had been the composer for the programme since its return in 2005. My initial impression at the time of first broadcast was amazed. While this soundtrack release has the opening titles first, viewers didn’t get to hear the familiar tune until the end of the first episode (nor the opening arrangement until the second!) but it feels more like the original radiophonic produced signature. The sound track release is divided into two types. Disc one is more of the hard science fiction, future stories. For these you get more of that old-school feel (some tracks even remind me of some ’80s film scores) with a more ambient feel at times – but in your face when it’s required. Where as disc two is comprised more of the historical based adventures with a more orchestral – and appropriately indigenous (for the story) – sound. My standouts are the new opening theme – I just love that bass drop – and the music from “The Demons of Punjab” with the mix of the new western and classical Indian (and even this old-schooler can’t help but love the Indian version of the titles!)

Cat Stevens – Harold & Maude Soundtrack

carsonstreet   8/17/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Harold and Maude is a 1971 film that incorporates elements of dark humor and existentialist drama. The plot revolves around Harold Chasen (Bud Cort) who is intrigued with death. Harold drifts away from the life that his detached mother prescribes for him, and slowly develops a strong friendship, and eventually a romantic relationship, with a 79-year-old woman named Maude (Ruth Gordon), a Nazi concentration camp survivor who teaches Harold about the importance of living life to its fullest and that life is the most precious gift of all.

Critically and commercially unsuccessful when originally released, the film developed a cult following and in 1983 began making a profit. The film is ranked number 45 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Movies of all Time. Much of Harold and Maude was filmed in the bay area including Berkeley, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, Dumbarton Bridge, Emeryville, Golden Gate National Cemetery, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Menlo Park, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, Mori Point, Oakland, Pacifica and the courthouse in Redwood City.

The music in Harold and Maude was composed and performed by Cat Stevens. He had been suggested by Elton John to do the music after John had dropped out of the project. Stevens composed two original songs for the film, “Don’t Be Shy” and “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” and performed instrumental and alternative versions of the songs “On the Road to Find Out”, “I Wish, I Wish”, “Miles from Nowhere”, “Tea for the Tillerman”, “I Think I See the Light”, “Where Do the Children Play?” and “Trouble”. This record is a Record Store Day exclusive on 180g orange vinyl.

Shore, Howard – “Fly, The (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – [Varese Sarabande]

whngr   8/4/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

An ominous foray into madness and decrepitude in symphonic splendor.

Pensive strings and sparse percussion portray suspenseful and ominous tones, discovery turns to delirium, intrigue becomes horrifying discovery. Short tracks that will grow on you like a labium. David Cronenberg would employ Howard Shore as his primary conductor (excluding only The Dead Zone) and would soon become a film industry mainstay (The Silence Of The Lambs, Ed Wood, The Game, et al), being both prolific, popular, and recognizable as composer, conductor, and orchestrator in myriad popular culture vena. But try not to hold that against him as this film represents the first in his long and storied (if mostly mainstream) career after leaving Saturday Night Live as Music Director, when he was perhaps at his most ambitious. In essence, this is the shit he cut his teeth on.

A hauntingly beautiful accompaniment to Cronenberg’s (Crash, Naked Lunch, et al) teratologic study of the classic 1958  American b-movie starring Vincent Price (of course) with a narrative that strongly parallels Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” (though for what it’s worth this miserable volunteer prefers the sequel, “Return Of The Fly” […you guinea pig!]). The score of this 1986 re-imagining represents an epically strange cautionary tale delivered convincingly with unnerving conviction by Jeff Goldblum (Seth Brundle).

The vinyl this release is on is “fog colored” according to Discogs, who tend to be fairly meticulous about their accuracy, but to the fading eyes of this miserable volunteer it looks like an old Coke bottle color but whatever name it goes by one might note that it adds a somewhat spooky challenge to cueing. Thirty-three and a third baby… in your bed.

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.

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