Music Reviews

Shutter Island [coll] – [Rhino Records Inc.]

Cousin Mary   2/25/2015   CD, Soundtrack

The composers on this soundtrack are a who’s who of modern classical composers – very intriguing selections that provide a variety of ominous, contemplative, experimental sounds. A few tracks (Cry, Wheel of Fortune, Tomrorow Night) are popular tunes from the late 40’s and early 50’s. The last track combines the two – a mix of Dinah Washington and Max Richter – that is gorgeous and moving. Highest recommendation!

Burwell, Carter – “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” – [Milan]

abacus   11/26/2014   CD, Soundtrack

terrible movie great soundtrack; composer Carter Burwell has done countless films: from most of the Coen brothers movies to In Bruges, Where the Wild Things Are and even Psycho III. this soundtrack stands out as a darker, more minimal accompaniment; ambient tribal beats with ambiguously produced sampling (musique concrete or mimicry?). snapping twigs, rustling leaves grinding stones: the opening track implies the obvious that doesn’t stand out as much in the delivery. stark soundscapes verging on electronica. wiccan ceremonies

Baxter, Les – “Cry of The Banshee and Edgar Allan Poe Suite” – [Varese Sarabande Records, Inc.]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2014   12-inch, Soundtrack

Wow., *unquiet* village here, from Les Baxter. The sidelong
“Cry of the Banshee” piece is a jarring, unsettling piece of
music to push you to the edge and over. Feels like a modern
classical madhouse, with no simple melodies to hold on to
for a moment’s security. The flip side has shorter pieces for
Poe (but alas there is not a drop of Vincent Price or spooken word
to be found anywhere, it’s all music). Some electronics and other
malevolent forces conspire. Scarier than any Halloween.
Razor blades in the orchestra pit… 1970 era, Gordon
Hessler directed. It’s a shame no film clips are included
but youtube is just….over………there.

-Thurston Hunger

Rosenthal, Laurence – “Rashomon” – [Carlton]

Belladonna   10/22/2014   12-inch, Soundtrack

Laurence Rosenthal is an award winning Film/TV/Broadway composer who is known for his work on Cinema Paradiso, Miracle Worker, A Raisin in the Sun, Man of La Mancha, Clash of the Titans (original) and even Fantasy Island. Rashomon is two short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa which were then adapted into the Oscar-winning film by Akira Kurosawa but THIS release is from an adaptation for the Broadway stage, using elements from the Kurosawa film that were not present in the short stories. The Broadway production stared Rod Steiger and his wife at the time Claire Bloom who are obviously not Japanese although the story is about a Samurai and his wife. The story is told from four different viewpoints which vary greatly. This is very visual and unique, quite dramatic and heavy on percussion and flute, gamelan, gongs and cymbals.

Levi, Mica – “Under The Skin” – [Milan Records]

Belladonna   9/3/2014   CD, Soundtrack

Soundtrack to a 2013 British-American Sci fi/horror film, a loose adaptation of Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same name. about an alien seductress (Scarlett Johansson) who preys on men in Scotland. The music is by Mici Levi who does not appear to have any other music/film credits. Lucky for me upon first listen I had no idea this was a soundtrack so I had the opportunity to be sufficiently creeped out by it. This opens with some very menacing strings, then moves along to a haunted space station, an ominous walk though along creepy hallway etc. Lots of tension building, unsettling, WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?!? moments. Very cinematic and spooky. This is very ominous and unsettling. Stoker meets Alien. Its great!!! Now I have to see the movie. Enjoy

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.

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