Let’s Score Todd To Death: September 2021

As the world continues to descend to a new level of hell, record companies continue to release great titles – some current, some classics, and some ready to be rediscovered. But before I get into this month’s actual film music buffet, I wanted to highlight the Psychic Circle’s Seven colors of the psychic circle, a funky and moody instrument clearinghouse that sits halfway between ’70s horror luminaries like Ennio Morricone, Goblin and Stelvio Cipriani and contemporary ensembles like El Michels Affair, Budos Band and BadBadNotGood . Any band able to recreate the timeless groove of Melvin Bliss’ “Synthetic Substitution”, as The Psychic Circle does on “The Eternal Colors”, will always gain a special place in my hip-hop lover’s heart; corn Seven colors’ seven tracks shine a light on how contemporary musicians are absorbing the influence of horror films, replicating the technique or style of composers they love, then updating it with their own creativity. It’s a great record for a great session or dinner.

Anyway, on authentic film scores. Generalization Alert: Before 1970, horror sheet music was not as often the exciting and complex affair as it later became when composers experimented with different genre influences and equipment, concrete music exerted its influence. influence and sound design has become a more vital (and sometimes difficult) component. distinguish) component of the process of making a film. Part of the problem was that big budget genre tariffs, especially horror, largely didn’t exist; even after Rear window and From north to north-west, Hitchcock didn’t have the same resources for his proto-slasher movie psychopath. Its more scruffy and less commercially successful competitors worked on real shoestring budgets to bring their visions to life – and they rarely set aside the lion’s share for music. But between the universal renaissance of the 1930s and 1940s and the post-psychopath When distributors started subsidizing horror at a higher price, many scores that accompanied these films did not stand out as classics in terms of what came before or after.

This is just part of the reason why composers like Tito Arévalo and William Lava are not, if at all, well known to soundtrack collectors. Both have a long list of credits, but what they were doing was never meant to be great art; Arévalo was a Filipino actor who was also a prolific composer, and Lava mainly worked in television, with some banter in the movies. Real Gone Music releases many interesting and unique records on vinyl, and they have just announced the release of two scores of these musicians, the music of Arévalo for Mad Doctor of Blood Island and Lava for Dracula versus. Frankenstein. I have a lot of admiration for all those who count them among their holy grail must-haves, as I don’t even know the movies, let alone their soundtracks, but the releases offer a comprehensive, high-quality collection of clues in one. packaging that provides a bit of context on their respective legacies even if (like me) you don’t already know them.

Mad doctor was an exploitation film starring Christopher Lee, originally released in 1969. Arévalo’s score sounds almost exactly as one would expect from most scores of this era: melodramatic and ubiquitous, prompting the viewer with a almost overwhelming feeling of terror or suspense. Ed Wood and Howard Shore Ed Boiscomes to mind. But the composer includes a handful of “Dance” tracks, including an alternate take, that bridge the gap between that theatricality and Martin Denny-style exoticism, with plenty of xylophone, cacophonic percussion and choral vocals. Additionally, the record ends with a vintage commercial for the film and a “Green Blood Oath Intro”, which advised audiences to drink a “green blood” potion distributed before the film as a gimmick. The statement notes that this score was so good that distributor Hemisphere Pictures actually used it twice more, including for the 1971 Al Adamson film. Blood brain; but like a time capsule of creepy vintage horror sounds, Mad Doctor of Blood Island definitely worth a visit.

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The same goes for the urgent Lava score, based on theremin for Dracula versus. Frankenstein. He really works this anachronistic instrument like crazy on the title theme before collecting a series of weird sounds that, without the imagery, make the movie feel like the movie could have been heavier on sci-fi than horror. If it is not quite kitsch, the music is not necessarily a deep moment in the history of film music; but Lava seems free from any restraint or even advice as he throws everything away and the kitchen sinks into this menacing collection of clues. As the Mad doctor disc, this one also includes a radio spot for the film, a delicious little one-disc coda that will leave your nerves on edge; if it’s not quite an automatic buy, it’s the kind of record you add to your collection and end up loving years later because you needed an original soundtrack for, say, your kid’s haunted house, and you found out that it was actually pretty awesome on its own.

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Nia DaCosta Candy rekindles Clive Barker’s monstrous creation in a familiar but completely different setting, bringing new dimensionality to the original film while taking bold, new and clearly culturally relevant directions. Robert AA Lowe’s score for the DaCosta film pays homage to Bernard Rose’s composer, the legendary Philip Glass, while similarly entering new territory. Although he offers a slightly updated but otherwise identical interpretation of Glass’s “Music Box”, for example, Lowe, whose background includes work in doom / stoner rock, uses many menacing atonal sounds to evoke the evil of the legendary killer. But then, on clues like “The Sweet,” he also uses a similar type of repetition and minimalism that evokes the structures that made Glass so uniquely identifiable, while also deepening the intensity of the story DaCosta tells with his sound. movie. Available digitally and on a new LP set from Waxwork Records, Candyman is a record best to listen to with friends, and certainly far from a mirror.

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Finally, Mondo recently released what is truly a holy grail of a score, and which has to some extent been absorbed into the collective blood of moviegoers via the dozens of movie trailers that have used its clues to promote the films. films from the early to mid-1990s. Wojciech Kilar’s score against that of Francis Ford Coppola Bram Stoker’s Dracula is for my money one of the greatest horror movie scores of all time, not only because of how ubiquitous it was around that time, but because of the extraordinary way it weaves danger and romance from a so palpably, a combination that many horror movies stress but few accomplish so beautifully.

“The Beginning” is wonderfully rhapsodic, detailing the tragic story of Vlad and the malicious pact he makes after the death of his beloved, before “Vampire Hunters” crosses the same territory as, say, Danny’s. Elfman. Batman scores except with another type of creeping intensity. It’s this second clue that’s been used so often on so many trailers, whether or not it’s particularly suited to movies (and indeed, few of them were horror, let alone romance. gothic horror). But Kilar’s music here also overlaps with another Gary Oldman film from that era, The professional, although he uses this love violin for a much more romantic effect than Eric Serra did (or perhaps intended to) in Luc Besson’s film. Still, the lyrical and catchy vibes of this score make it extremely fun to listen to due to the little lulls and leitmotifs that show how the film aligns with Dracula, but also knows he has to be its villain. An extraordinary score published in extraordinary predictable packaging, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a timeless one, and I hope its rebirth inspires collectors, filmmakers and lovers to embrace the multitudes within them – well, without demanding so much blood, anyway.

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