Music Reviews

Broadcast – “Berberian Sound Studio” – [Warp Records Ltd]

abacus   7/23/2014   CD, Soundtrack

hauntingly beautiful, gorgeously macabre vignettes of psychic instability spinning in sonic uncertainty. a british sound engineer loses his grip on reality, absorbed in the terror of the italian horror film he’s been enlisted master. who is murdered and who is murderer? Scalded screams and Goblin cacklery, Equestrian waltzes and Serpent’s serenades. a wistful soundtrack of sinister intent. such Tender Damnation

Martinez, Cliff – “Only God Forgives” – [Milan Records]

Belladonna   7/8/2014   CD, Soundtrack

Dont let the dreamy picture of Ryan Gosling sway you, this is pure soundtrack loveliness. Scored by Cliff Martinez whose first job was composing for Pee Wee’s Playhouse but might be better known for drumming for Red Hot Chili Peppers, Captain Beefheart, The Dickies, Lydia Lunch and The Weirdos. This is his second project with Nicolas Winding Refns (Drive) and hes Steven Soderbergh’s composer of choice, from ‘Sex, Lies and Videotape’ through ‘Solaris’ and ‘Contagion’. This was composed with help from Gregory Tripi, Mac Quayle and M83’s Anthony Gonzalez (Oblivion ST). This is full of edge of your seat cinematic moments but there are some Southeast Asian inspired pop tracks with actor Vithaya Pansringarm’s ballad on ‘Can’t Forget’ and Actress Ratha Phongam on ‘Falling in Love’ and ‘Youre my Dream’. Also some very cool elements on Track ‘Bride of Chang’ and ‘Wanna Fight’. Its all so amazing, its hard to pick a favorite!!

Ito, Teiji (soundtrack) – “Music For Maya: Early Film Music of Teiji Ito” – [Tzadik]

Cousin Mary   7/8/2014   CD, Soundtrack

Really interesting multi-cultural film music composed by Teiji Ito for the films of his then-wife, avant garde film maker Maya Deren. This covers all music composed by Ito for Deren from their 1952 meeting outside a five and dime (where she hired him on the spot at the age of 17) until her death in 1961 0f a cerebral hemorrhage. All music was composed, performed, and recorded in the studio they shared, and hits many countries from Japan (with kabuki theatre being a major influence), China, Korea, Spain, plus African and Western influences. He also touches on jazz and a little bit of electronics. He plays all the instruments and it’s quite amazing what he was able to accomplish here all before the age of 27. There are two discs full of great stuff here, so put on your traveling hat, because it’s quite a journey. Also, check out the liner notes if you can, because there is a lot of fascinating backstory plus an interview between Ito and Deren.

-Cadillac Margarita

Peter Peter & Peter Kyed – “Valhalla Rising” – [Milan Records]

cinder   2/28/2014   CD, Soundtrack

Dark and spooky sounds from triple Peter, with a Kyed tossed in. A film score that doesn’t have the cinematic feel, if you listened before knowing, you’d think it was a normal record. Low rumbles, and creeping fills. Guitars that sound like the beginning of an epic Godspeed song. Droned out organs that give the sense of desolate fog fueled mountains. Slow paced heart beats in pounding effect. Tension. And Mads!

Gori, Lallo – “La Morte Scende Leggera” – [Beat Records]

Naysayer   2/17/2014   CD, Soundtrack

Holy moly, the Italians have done it again, or did it again back in 1972. The Italian film composer, Coriolano “Lallo” Gori, best known for our purposes as Lallo Gori, was a prolific composer for over 100 films, mostly spaghetti westerns, comedies and space farces during the 1960’s and 1970’s. His style follows those of the time, orchestrated pieces with wah wah and reverb guitar. His soundtrack for the 1972 film “La Morte Scende Leggera” (“Death Falls Lightly”) is a classic piece of early 70’s craziness, filled with psychedelic sound effects, slow funk, edginess and space. Lots of space. And the crazy psych guitar stylings so important of that time. There is a superb leitmotif consisting of bongos and mouth harp (listed as the oft used term “jew’s harp”) that repeats throughout the soundtrack. When hearing it you just know trouble is around the corner. The songs have no titles because, according to the excellent booklet that comes with the CD, these films would list music according to the sequence it was involved with. Hence, Seq.1, Seq. 2, etc. The opening song, not recorded by Gori, is a stand out stunner of all that is wrongright about these types of soundtracks: the over-the-top-not-quite-right instrumentation that is ohhhh, so good. “Sunday in Neon Light”, sung by Ghanian, 1969 Europa Song contest winner, Mak Sigis Porter, is a knock out. Originally part of Porter’s blues prog rock concept album, “Peace On You”, “Sunday” does it’s best to rip off Hendrix with bad psych lyrics about flowers in pots and neon lights. How can you not like that? This whole album is a pleaser. It will satisfy for sure.

Devil’s Business, The [coll] – [Death Waltz Recording Co]

lombard   12/10/2013   CD, Soundtrack

On the spooky, ethereal soundtrack for The Devil’s Business, composer Justin Greaves creates quite the atmosphere. With its mostly instrumental pieces, the soundtrack should satisfy fans of gloom, but also anyone desiring a contemplative musical journey. There are some subtle dour vocals (more like buried chants) on the Crippled Black Phoenix tracks and lush instrumentation throughout, with bits of piano, bass, and perhaps sea birds or a demonic crow foretelling imminent doom. As you might imagine from the description of the soundtrack, the 2011 film explores dark themes, as it centers around paid killers whose efforts are thwarted by black magic.

Artemiev, Eduard – “Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris” – [Superior Viaduct]

cinder   12/6/2013   12-inch, Soundtrack

‘Solaris explores the inadequacies of time and memory on an enigmatic planet below a derelict space station.’ Made in 1972, in Russian. A psychological thriller taking place in the future. Eduard Artemiev composed a chillingly adequate soundtrack for the film. This is eerie, spooky, space cadeting music. It has tones that give you goosebumps, gorgeous cosmic celestial drones, synthesizer sounds, and lots of moments of reflection. Floating lost in space, drifting past stars, seeing your past lives flash before you. The color is grey, the temperature is -80.

The Meshuganutcracker – Original Cast Recording

Sir Cumference   11/13/2013   CD, Soundtrack

Written and originally produced in 2003 by the team at Guggenheim Entertainment (the same people who recently brought us Thanks for Playing the Game Show Show) this holiday musical cleverly pairs the music of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker with lyrics about Chanukah. This CD is the original cast recording from 2005 (not the yet to be released concert recording from 2012).

Based on the Jar of Fools and Eight Stories for Eight Nights, the libretto tells the tale of eight Chelmniks (citizens of Chelm, the fictional town of fools) who gather once a year to perform their Chanukah festival. Through the course of the two-act musical they tell eight stories which celebrate and honor the triumphs of Chanukah heroes from the time of the Maccabees through modern day – all in their delightfully foolish Chelm style.

While our country is caught up in celebrating Christmas for what seems like eight crazy weeks, why not slip in the other winter holiday for eight crazy nights…

Kiss of The Damned [coll] – [Soraya Recordings]

mickeyslim   11/6/2013   12-inch, Soundtrack

Djuna, a vampire, tries and fails to brush off advances from a man, Paolo, endangering her community. A 2013 movie considered to be a “psychological high Gothic vampire film,” played at the South by Southwest film festival, and here we find ourselves holding this, the soundtrack.

Assorted sounds mostly from Steven Husteter, but there’s tracks by others also. The theme music is sometimes spaced out, sometimes reminiscent of a spaghetti western, but mostly stoney, smoke-filled lust grooves. The Der Fluch track is great kraut blues punk. Brigitte Fontaine’s sultry vocals on “Le Ciel Est Doux” are backed by Japanese sounding strings. Great mix of sounds from what looks like a killer flick.

Try to resist, but giving in feels so much better…

Oblivion Soundtrack – “Oblivion” – [Back Lot Music]

Belladonna   10/23/2013   CD, Soundtrack

Oblivion is director Joseph Kosinski’s second feature film (his first was Tron Legacy with music by Daft Punk, someone likes to pick their favorite bands to work with). He originally wrote and pitched this several years ago as a graphic novel with a future film project in mind. The soundtrack is touted as having music done by M83 but its important to note that the main M83 guy Anthony Gonzales has some interesting filmography credits already (writing and music composition) and that the score was also composed and orchestrated by well regarded classical and electronic musician/composer Joseph Trapanese. There are no traces of M83 here (vocals on title track 17 and one crazy drum solo on trk 9 are the only hint of any mainstream artist involvement, didnt care for either) this is pure cinematic perfection. Ominous, hopeful, moody, tense, exhilarating, suspenseful etc. All done with full orchestra (see liner notes for full credits). As a huge fan of soundtracks, I absolutely love this. If you enjoy the work of Hans Zimmer etc, you will love this. BTW I loved the film too!

Korzynski, Andrzej – “Tajemnica Enigmy (Secret Enigma – 1968-1981)” – [Finders Keepers Records]

Naysayer   10/23/2013   CD, Soundtrack

I live for this type of sound compilation. Soundtracks. 1960’s to early 1980’s. Eastern European. Obscure. Lost and now found. Yep. What I live for. So Korzynski is a Polish film, television, documentary composer of high reputation in his homeland but almost forgotten, until numerous “lost” tapes were found somewhere in the Polish film archives. Finders Keepers Records has brilliantly put together a superb selection of some of the outrageous yet oh so familiar sounds. Think Ennio M, Francis Lai, John Barry, Serge G., Nino Rota, all the greats. He is of that group. There are horns, wicked wah wah guitar, harmonica, thumping bass, sultry female vocals humming and singing “La La La.”, harsichord, wicked synth and organs. It rocks, it gets funky, it’s psychedelic, it’s Polish lounge music, it’s 60’s go go music. I want to lick it I love it so much. ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY!

Stoker Soundtrack: Music By Clint Mansell [coll] – [Twentieth Century Fox]

Belladonna   10/16/2013   12-inch, Soundtrack

“Stoker” is a creepy English thriller by director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) and stars Nicole Kidman, Mia Waskowska and Matthew Goode. The score is composed by Clint Mansell (long time collaborator of Darren Aronofsky) and includes an opening by Mia Waskowska, two beautiful songs by Emily Wells, an original piano piece by Philip Glass, Stride la Vampa (from Il Trovatore) by Giuseppe Verdi and “Summer Wine” by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. The entire soundtrack is beautiful and dreamy, much like the film but not creepy (like the film). Everything Clint Mansell creates is amazing and this is no exception.

Carpenter, John and Howarth, Alan – “Halloween III – Season of The Witch” – [Death Waltz Recording Co]

Muad'Dib   10/9/2013   12-inch, Soundtrack

Sinister sibilant synthesizer sounds strengthen said sadistic serial slayer soundtrack.

This is pioneering classical electronic music from John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. Entirely instrumental, with the exception of the last track on side A, which sounds like an advertisement for a creepy kids TV show. Lots of dark ambient synth sounds with tension-building pulsations and dissonant drones. The soundtrack to your next VHS snuff film.

Frizzi, Fabio – “Zombi 2” – [Death Waltz Recording Co]

cinder   7/19/2013   12-inch, Soundtrack

Late 1970s soundtrack from the Italian composer, Fabio Frizzi. Zombi 2 (or known just as Zombie in the states), directed by Lucio Fulci. Listed as 8 sequences, on fresh blood red vinyl. The first starts you off in a tropical Caribbean island. Super accessible Pina Colda type tune, sort of the oddball track. Then it shifts into more synth driven, horror-cheese sounds with sequence 2. Xylophone tones, and pulsing science fiction optimism. Sequence 3 is more of a jungle vibe, with conga drums, bowing strings and rattling spookiness. The final track on side A is full on tribal rhythms. A mover and shaker. Shrunken heads, and voodoo dances ensue. Side B begins with a short, almost romantic ’80s sounding tune. More tribal rhythms continue. A bit more suspenseful and haunting with echoes vibrating in the background. The final track is the supreme cheese. Synths and computer steams, in a triumph style ending.

Ecstasy of Gold: Vol. 2, The [coll] – [Semi-Automatic Records]

cinder   7/11/2013   12-inch, Soundtrack

Killer collection of rare and more obscure Spaghetti Western songs from the 1960s & 1970s. Second in a series of five. You have the haunting trumpets, the blazing guitars, gunfights with silly sound effects, the woeful maidens singing, the cowboys belting their hearts out, opera-like vocals… everything that Clint and Wayne would ride their horses against. Borderline surf guitar riffs. A little wah-wah action. Some of the best Italian composers that were possibly outshined in Morricone’s fame… but Ecstasy of Gold is actually the title of one of Morricone’s songs in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, so a big nod. It’s pretty evenly split between instrumentals, the favorited thematic “ahhhh” chorus type tracks, and full vocal songs.

Grace, Jeff – “Trigger Man/The Roost” – [MovieScore Media]

Naysayer   6/3/2013   CD, Soundtrack

Jeff Grace is a film composer of independent films, often horror. He has been nominated for numerous awards from different organizations within the film music world. The two soundtracks on this CD, “Trigger Man” and “The Roost”, both films by the independent film maker Ti West, are rich, sonorous compositions full of mood and intensity. “Trigger Man” has Dave Eggar on 18th century stunt cello and Dave Schommer on percussion creating a wide range of sonic emotion to compliment the film action and tension. “The Roost” is composed for a string quartet and organ, setting up the thrills for the zombie terror that takes over this film. But do not think these are just background music. These two pieces stand on their own, creating an early 21st century example of contemporary classical music. Challenging but accessible, dramatic but not overwrought, these string and percussion pieces offer a variety of sounds and timbres which work as well on screen as they would in a concert hall. Soundtrack music may be the classical music of this century.

Libaek, Sven – “Inner Space (The Lost Film Music of Sven Libaek)” – [Votary Records]

Cousin Mary   5/21/2013   12-inch, Soundtrack

Sven Libaek was born in Norway and emigrated to Australia. He is known as a composer and performer in movie and TV soundtracks. He worked at one time for CBS Records in Sydney, producing recordings including those of the legendary surf band The Atlantics.

Inner Space was a 1973 soundtrack for a nature documentary about underwater life. The orchestra has a dreamy, watery, jazzy sound with very cool solos on flute, guitar, vibes, percussion, trumpet, organ, and piano played by Libaek. John Sangster on vibes is prominently featured and his interest in avant garde jazz artists such as Sun Ra and Albert Ayler occasionally peeks through, especially on Side 2.

Tracks from this soundtrack were used in the 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Very accessible, would fit a Jazz Collective or the Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack Show equally well.

Apocalypse Now [coll] – [Elektra/ Asyum/ Nonesuch Records]

mickeyslim   2/12/2013   12-inch, Soundtrack

We already have the Apocolypse Now! Redux soundstrack CD, but this has almost double the amount of tracks, and all the tracks on the Vinyl are considerably longer too. Another great soundtrack from a glorious movie, and this is the original double LP released for the movie.

There’s a lot of dialouge on the vinyl (watch for FCCs) that seems like a narration or an aside, with the background riddled with helicopter noise, gunfire, yelling, or just stompin’ through the jungle. The background music is subtle, almost electronic sounding with waves of whistles and growls, from loud to quiet, maybe the dialouge softens to a whisper, BEFORE THEY”RE ATTACKED! More gunshots and explosions. Sometimes it becoomes more musical, oboes and violins, drumstick beats, cello. It keeps mostly quiet with an attitude, from ominous to downright scary. Everthing tracks together! Enjoy this new peice of music, with some of the classics already in the library. Just play the dialouge, dammit!

“The bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam you needed wings to stay above it.”

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done [coll] – [Winter & Winter]

Thurston Hunger   11/11/2012   CD, Soundtrack

So I bought this in early 2010, but thought I’d wait to review
it till I saw the movie. That took awhile, then I thought I’d
wait till I understood the movie…still working on that. My
latest guess is that while sometimes Hollywood makes films
that are inside jokes, this is Werner Herzog making a “inside
tragedy.” That being said, something about these pieces, even
the ones not composed by my hero Ernst Reijseger, sure do
summon some emotions. The bluesy ice-cream truck of “I’m
Born to Preach the Gospel” freezes my soul in the way that
it ignited Michael Shannon’s character. After that the
wailing of Sengalese singer Mola Sylla fills a grey sky with
tears. Is that good ol’ “Gunga” whipping around a tube to get
those hollowed out whistles, or is that Reijseger bowing
at the extreme of his cello? The next track is definitely
Ernst gulping arpeggios. Next up Sandip Bhattacharya in
what for some reason sounds to my neophyte ears like a
morning raga over some dour chamber music passages. It
feels oddly like being pulled in two directions, and then
launches a series of tracking numbers that lack the lifting
and lilting hope of Bhattacharya’s voice. Very tense until
the cocktail piano of “Mechanical Pianist.” More vocal
Sylla-gisms over a minimal Glass-like melody in “Heaven
on Earth” and then “Eyes of the World.” Also two corridas
con pistolas growled, spoken and sung by Chavela Vargas,
“Gabino Barrera” could almost be the sort of Cobra Verde it
seems??? Viva Herzog! Viva Ernst! Viva their collaborations!

-Thurston Hunger

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