19.8.12

HOWARD SHORE : Videodrome - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Varése Sarabande, 1983)

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Quite unlike most soundtracks, Howard Shore's score for Videodrome - David Cronenberg's disquieting techno-surrealist masterpiece - stands up as a tenable recording in it's own right. Sullen & oppressive, Shore's arrangements skillfully integrate relatively traditional (i.e. "Hollywood"-ian) orchestration with dissonant electronic treatments - strings are manipulated to sound like ominous machinery drones or shattering glass, brass groans like crumpling metal (trés Ballardian!), & menacing voices chatter beneath a drifting tide of static - concocting an atmosphere of sick, desolate melancholy. The results, sounding not unlike Karlheinz Stockhauen's finest work (Gesang der Jünglinge, Mikrophonie, etc), occasionally echo the contemporaneous soundtrack work of late Throbbing Gristle & early Coil - both of whom collaborated on film with the late Derek Jarman, of course. Listening to in (aural) isolation, without recourse to it's intended visual cues, Shore's score could easily be mistaken for the work of one of the better known late 80s dark ambient ensembles, though - in all honesty - it's far better than any of them. Notably, Videodrome benefits from repeated listening - & how many (original) soundtracks can you that about?

While we're on the subject of Videodrome - is the original uncut edit of Cronenberg's benchmark film ever going to see the light of day, I wonder? Disappointingly, last year's Universal's Blu-ray reissue sourced the widely available R-rated edit, while Criterion's uncensored (& extras packed) edition remains increasingly difficult & expensive to locate. Aside from being the pinnacle of Cronenberg's antecedent "biological horror" celluloid cycle, Videodrome remains one of the most striking films of the 1980s &, with worrying rumours of a non-Cronenberg 21st century remake circulating once again (NOOOOO!!) , it's surely about time this frighteningly prescient, brilliantly insane film was afforded the veneration it deserves?

15.8.12

DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT : Goldenes Spielzeug / El Que 12" (Virgin, 1981)

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Still riding the crest of the Neue Deutsch Welle... I've just picked up a vintage copy of the NME, dated 14th November 1981 (my 15th birthday, as it happens) c/o eBay &, lo & behold, the single of the week (courtesy of a fervent Lynn Hanna - whatever happened to her?) is Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft's "Goldenes Spielzeug"/"El Que".

The first 45 to be extracted from their second, claustrophobically intense Virgin album, Gold Und Liebe ("Sex Unter Wasser" was the other), it was released in both 7" & expanded 12" formats, as was customary back then. Neither of it's hard-to-find extended dancefloor mixes have ever been reissued, an unfortunate oversight on Virgin's part as D.A.F.'s pulsing sequencers & pummeling schlagzeug made commendable use of those crucial additional inches of alluring black vinyl. Needless to say, 30 years on, Conny Plank's stark, powerful production job still sounds literally awesome - an overused term admittedly, but entirely relevant in D.A.F.'s case.