Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MIXCLOUD IS RAINING BLOOD!

The Halloween Mix Tape is now...STREAMING!


DREAD HALLOWEEN MIX TAPE!


Well, it seems the Cosmic Hearse has broken down in some parallel micro-galaxy but that won't stop this year's Halloween Mix Tape from taking full possession of your ears.  Light the candelabra and settle in for a cold conjuration, fiends. This 90 minute collection is slower, quieter and gentler than previous years...but no less haunted and perfectly suited for devilish meditation.  Sometimes the horror is only in your mind.  Sometimes the horror is quite real.  Scroll past the liner notes for download links.

Intro 
"You have entered the nightmare of lost souls..." 
Welcome back, Brothers and Sisters.

Psychomania Front Title ~ John Cameron 
British composer John Cameron and his merry band of Frog(s) created this groovy score for Psychomania in 1972, elevating the campy proceedings to a superior dimension by metamorphosing the Super Fuzz noodling of AIP biker flick soundtracks into a slinking masterpiece from beyond the grave.

What We Are Doing Here ~ No Future
No Future is the young old-souls of Uppsala’s In Solitude hailing their lineage from the death punk end of the spectrum. There are morbid echoes of Leather Nun, Bauhaus, Nick Cave, Sex Pistols and more obscure references in the mix but regardless of influences, their Jämtländska Mord demo was one of the more inspired things I’ve heard this year. 

666 ~ Ray Torske 
Prized private pressing gospel from 1974 that actually sounds about as irritating as the cover photograph suggests. There’s a lot of painful trumpet wailing and bleating going on but the title track 'Armageddon' and of course this snappy little admonishment will have you reaching for your rattlesnakes and holy water. Pass the ammunition and...TESTIFY! 

The Devil and His Disciples ~ George Lane and The Ranchers 
I don’t have any smartass remarks for George Lane or The Ranchers. I’m just glad I stumbled upon this beautiful single because few songs from any era have possessed the utter deadpan resolve and spiritual dread of this psychedelic love song gone to hell. 

Evil ~ Cactus 
Rough ballin’ New York proto-street metal circa 1971 featuring Carmine Appice of Vanilla Fudge on drums. When straggly white dudes attempt to cover Howlin’ Wolf it’s generally a recipe for wimpy disaster but these guiltless gliders got it right. I love how Rusty Day enunciates every word like he’s scarfin’ down a bag of dirt weed while cop lights flash in the rear view mirror. This one is for my family and friends on the east coast who are still without power.  I'm warning you, brothers. 

Hell ~ Rick Wakeman 
Linda Lewis’ over the fuckin’ top Dante recitation sounds like the dude from Flower Travellin’ Band sucking helium while playing mumbley-peg with his nuts…and if that ain’t eternal torment, I don’t know what is. Excessive coked-out Rick Wakeman jam from excessive coked-out Ken Russel flick about excessive Hungarian composer Franz Liszt which features enough perverse sexual shenanigans, swastikas and penis guillotines to make even Roger Daltry’s chiseled ass seem interesting.

Intermission with Uncle Roky 

Green Manalishi ~ Fleetwood Mac 
Not obscure by any means but every time I play this beautiful song in public I’m surprised by how few people recognize the original version. Peter Green was a genuinely tortured soul and you just can’t fake the dementia and terror that he captured so eloquently in this final contribution to his band before exiting stage left in a schizoid haze. Maybe the green manalishi was simply a metaphor for filthy lucre as he later claimed but there is something undeniably horrible lurking in this haunting ballad. 

Creeper ~ Griffin 
My favorite song from my favorite Shrapnel record! This LP is almost as perfect as Omen’s Battle Cry. If that badass griffin with heavy cross medallion on the cover doesn’t impress you, just flip it over and behold the band photo. Ball-crushing denim, white kicks, unzipped leather jackets, weird bone symbols on the trees and somebody’s mystical girlfriend in the background beckon you into the lair of TRUE heavy metal! The keg should arrive in about an hour. 

The Bridge ~ Victim 
And now a little set devoted to my bucolic place of birth: Sleepy Hollow. The mustached fellows of San Diego's Victim had the good taste to write an awfully catchy ballad to Washington Irving’s ghostly rider on their debut record before switching the line-up, shaving their facial hair and writing statutory rape jams that may or may not cause gonorrhea. It is worth noting that the hastily rendered dude on the cover is chewing what appears to be his own red, white and blue guitar. Why? Because he’s POWER HUNGRY! 

The Death of the Horseman ~ Sleepy Hollow 
I‘m pretty sure this song has nothing to do with Halloween despite the horseman reference in the title but the band is called Sleepy Hollow so shut the fuck up. Do you recognize that voice? Hint: it ain’t Udo. That’s Bob Mitchell from Attacker and holy shit his pipes are even more shrill and powerful than when he battled at Helms Deep! Despite the fact that this is one of the worst looking records I’ve ever seen, nobody can deny that these are some true as steel New Jerseyites. Take that Germany! 

Headless Excrutiator ~ Villains 
Another song that probably has nothing to do with Halloween yet contains the very essence of the season. If the headless horseman was resurrected in modern day New York I’m certain he would be about as nasty as this song. I have no idea why Villains isn’t a household name by now. The only reasonable explanation I can posit is that these urban barbarians ascribe to archaic principles and don’t necessarily play nice with others. Conan did not become King of Aquilonia overnight. 

Speak of the Devil ~ Toni Fisher 
You’re probably pretty bummed about this, huh? 

Sleepy Hollow Lane ~ C.A. Quintet 
C.A. Quintet hailed from the unlikely psychedelic tundra of St. Paul, Minnesota and recorded their entire discography between 1967 and 1969. Trip Thru Hell was their sole LP and for many years it was a pricy collector oddity that stared down mockingly at skid row occultniks like me from the top shelf of the wall. After a few miserable bootlegs made the rounds, the righteous weirdos at Sundazed did these guys right with an official DLP reissue in 1996 that pretty much collected their entire body of lite pop and finally allowed me to spin this record like my proverbial ship had come in. 

The Secrets: Devil's Hymn ~ Plus 
I don’t know much about this UK prog anomaly except that former Yardbird Simon Napier-Bell is credited with arrangement/production and it seems to have washed ashore on the same wave of quasi-religious hippy records that delivered Jesus Christ Superstar and Spooky Tooth’s Ceremony. Not well regarded among dickhead collector types, which is great news for you since you might still be able to score this classy die-cut gatefold for $8 if you look carefully. 

With Witches Help ~ Vortex 
You shouldn't be afraid of growing old because if you live long enough one of your longhair pals just might commemorate the occasion by kicking down a crazy fucking Dutch record like Vortex’s Metal Bats! I can’t even begin to describe the crosshatching dilemma that is occurring on the cover or explain why one of these bangers is decked out in corpse paint in that alley on the back cover but it was probably rather risqué in 1985 and I like it. I hear they recently released their fourth LP! 

She Came Like a Bat from Hell ~ Jerusalem 
See what I did? From Metal Bats to…ugh, never mind. You’ve been jamming this one for a few years now but I couldn’t resist including it here in my witchy medley. How could a record this incredible have been lost for so long? According to the liner notes, the central riff of this jam was one of the first these blokes wrote which places it somewhere around 1966 when they first started learning their instruments. Way ahead of the heaviness curve. 

Panic ~ Christopher Komeda
The jazz freak-out version of Komeda's lief motif is one of my favorite moments on the all-around fantastic Rosemary's Baby soundtrack so I threw this snippet in as a teaser.  I recently had the pleasure of viewing a beautiful 35mm print of this film and was reminded that the book around which the plot unfolds is titled All Of Them Witches, which brings us around to... 

All Of Them Witches ~ Stark Naked 
“Serpent Jesus, snake of Christ nailed to a cross of…” Whoa! Glenn Danzig probably owes some royalties to these Long Island doobie smokers for that killer riff he swiped on Lucifuge. That’s ok. These dudes swiped the title of their song from Rosemary’s Baby. Honestly, the rest of this record doesn't even come close to the splendor of this 8 minute epic but it’s pretty solid so stop whining about how rock 'n' roll was stolen from the blues and find yourself a copy right now. 

Unexplained ~ Ataraxir 
What’s really unexplained is why the front cover credits these “electronic musical impressions of the occult” to Ataraxir when the back cover clearly reveals that it’s actually ol’ Mort Garson of Black Mass infamy. Anyway, this record is arguably better than Lucifer (which was featured on my first Halloween mix tape a few years ago) but it’s sorta tough to find in decent shape these days. “At last the world of the Occult has found voice in music…” 

Supernatural Voodoo Woman ~ The Originals 
More abject disappointment. What can I say? If you can’t get down with this soulful joint from the 1974 blaxploitation zombie flick Sugar Hill you’re probably racist. 

Horror Movie ~ Skyhooks 
Melbourne, Australia’s Skyhooks sorta looked like the Village People after being punked by Agony Bag but their real claim to fame was penning Women in Uniform which was famously (prodigiously!) covered by Iron Maiden in 1980. This weirdo glam jam was their 1975 single and it’s pretty great. 

Lady Killer ~ Killer 
From Australia we leap up to Switzerland where these young midnight highway riders applied AC/DC’s swagger to their shirtless meat market stomp and penned this titular power anthem about…um…killing ladies. Every time I play this at the bar I think somebody’s car alarm is going off. I just wish they would put their shirts back on. 

Unhinged Trailer ~ Jon Newton 
Unhinged is an agonizingly slow-paced but mercifully short 1982 slasher flick filmed entirely in Portland, Oregon that gained undue notoriety when it was pulled from video store shelves and added to Britain’s “video nasties” blacklist. What many gorehounds don’t realize, mostly because it was difficult to find before the days of Youtube, is that the score by Portland State University faculty member Jon Newton is an overlooked lo-fi synth gem!  Here's a little teaser. 

My Autumn’s Done Come ~ Lee Hazelwood 
Welcome to the very special world of Lee Hazelwood. It’s a nice place to visit but you probably don’t want to live there. Booze, broads, pills and pain. You’ll never get out of this world alive. 

Into The Night ~ Angelo Badalamenti
This mesmerizing Twin Peaks composition is immediately recognizable and somehow invokes profound nostalgia upon first listen even if you don't give a rat's ass about the supernatural television-drama-cum-cult-phenomenon. Disorienting flourishes such as Julee Cruise's almost inaudible opening whisper and that slowed-down tape effect that makes it sound like your record is warped for a split second conjure the gloomy isolation of autumn nights and lend perfect closure to this year’s mix tape. Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

DEVIL'S NIGHT: HAPPY BIRTHDAY JIM OSBORNE

Today we celebrate the birth of Jim Osborne, one of the great unsung legends of American underground art.  Do a casual search and you're likely to turn up only a few random threads of dubious information, personal anecdotes and artwork.  That's exactly why I set out to chase down a few of his intimate associates a while back in an effort to memorialize his legacy and create the first footnoted snapshot of his obscure life.  It certainly ain't a definitive biography, but it's a start.  Had he not exited the world prematurely in 2001, Mr. Osborne would most certainly have appreciated the lascivious irony that he would be celebrating his 69th year today...with a full moon!  To celebrate the occasion, I humbly present my entire article as it originally appeared in Destroying Angels #10 and Roctober #48.  If you can't read it on your computer screen, I've provided a link to the PDF download below.  Be sure to 69 your special someone and take a big swig of Jim Beam on this Devil's Night as we honor the Black Prince of the Comix Underground and see our comrades on the east coast through another long dark night.  Happy Birthday, Jim!   


Download ARMAGEDDON MAN as a PDF HERE.

Monday, October 29, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 10): PHANTASM


Phantasm 
Fred Myrow and Macolm Seagrave 

Here it is, BOY!!!! The spacegate to infinity. The proverbial Philosopher's Stone of original motion picture soundtracks incarnated as elusive shiny black wax. The if-you-only-own-one-soundtrack-make-it-this-one phantasmagoria of terror that drills itself into your worthless skull like a silver sphere from some nightmarish infrared rift in the space-time continuum. From the moment Intro/Main Title slithers into a cymbal/drum roll and those haunting Carpenter-esque keyboard notes take hold of your soul you know this ain't gonna be your typical Critter Skitter. The morbid organs of Welcome to Morningside are like the moodier parts of Skepticism (a very good 90's band that also experimented with tritonal intervals and predated the current snooze trend toward one-note-per-hour funeral doom) and effortlessly transition into the Milford Graves percussive clamber of Hand in a Box before completely decomposing into that electronic maggots squirming sound that I love so much- it actually sounds exactly like the scene in Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters where the festering undead shamble through Matool in broad daylight and the camera swirls dizzyingly a la Brian DePalma before zooming in on one particularly hapless bastard's missing ear (that's right, the one track the numbskulls at Death Waltz omitted from their recent reissue that can be heard in all its glory on the 1998 Blackest Heart Media tribute CD as The Dead on Main Street/Voodoo Rising). And speaking of Fulci, there's no way Frizzi was not inspired to some degree by Phantasm when he wrote his wonderful score for The Beyond. Just listen to Hearse Inferno released two years earlier and tell me you don't hear it. According to the liner notes, Myrow and Seagrave composed this music for "a battery of exotic percussion instruments including bells, chimes, bowed gongs, scraper sticks on cymbals, and virtually the entire percussion section of a symphony orchestra, together with a Yamaha YC30 Synthesizer, Clavinet, Fender Electric Piano 88, Mellotron utilizing voice and flute tracks, and an old upright piano." Damn. See what can happen when you don't spend all day updating your Facebook status?  I suppose you want me to address Silver Sphere Disco? What can I say? A lot of horror soundtracks from this era had some sort of disco theme (Ortolani's Cannibal Holocaust, Lalo Schifrin's The Amityville Horror and Harry Manfredini's Friday the 13th Part 3 immediately boogie to mind) because even the most high/low-minded cult art house film is mired with inherent fiscal considerations and the thinking was probably that infusing a soundtrack with popular dancey bullshit gave 'em a fighting chance with mainstreams who stumbled into the theater unawares. I'm shaking my ass to it right now. By the way, "morbid organs" is a great band name. You can use that.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 9): THE THING


The Thing 
Ennio Morricone 

If you’ve actually been reading this blog all week you probably already guessed that I’m not particularly fond of orchestral soundtracks (you’re also probably very lonely and should get outdoors more often). When a score is too straight or too bombastic I get distracted by the artifice and can’t lose myself in the total atmosphere that great music should invoke, especially great soundtrack music. Of course there are some fantastic orchestral scores but generally I prefer when composers make it personal and follow a darker muse into terra incognita. Or as the longhairs in Danava put it so eloquently, shoot straight with a crooked gun. Morricone is a musician/composer of unfathomable depth and you don't need an essay from some cranky old jackass who should probably be doing the laundry to tell you that his deceptively minimalist music for John Carpenter’s spectacular re-make of The Thing is an orchestral score to be reckoned with. The plodding bass-driven tension builds to a frenzied climax of utter paranoia and contagious disgust that begins to resemble a swarm of pestilent blowflies and inadvertently becomes the perfect soundtrack to our current election War on Terrorism where every neighbor is suspect and every weirdo kid in black a potential Dark Knight shooter. “Somebody in this camp ain't what he appears to be. Right now that may be one or two of us. By spring, it could be all of us.” Roll up your sleeves. Time to burn that blood, pal. You should already know the drill but, just in case, pull down the shades and skip right to side two, song two: Humanity (Part 2). Man is still the warmest place to hide.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 8): HALLOWEEN III


Halloween III 
John Carpenter and Alan Howarth 

If only you could see me now, dragging nine feet of headphone cord as I pace the room anguishing over how to condense a lifetime of...what's the opposite of lucrative?...futile obsession into an impossible "top ten" list when suddenly I'm confronted with the hopeless conundrum of choosing a favorite John Carpenter score. I'm immediately partial to Prince of Darkness, mostly because Carpenter cast Alice "Monster Dog" Cooper in an awkward cameo which seemed like a fitting gesture of gratitude considering Halloween Theme/Main Title echoes almost identically the opening 12 seconds of Cooper's 1975 creeper Steven from Welcome to My Nightmare...which in turn is something of a Tubular Bells belch...which further underscores our central premise here regarding the occult roots of horror and heavy metal. Ultimately it's a coin toss but I'll go with Halloween III today since so many fans initially wrote it off for abandoning the slasher formula that its predecessors pioneered in favor of Conal Cochran's admittedly asinine plot to sacrifice trick or treaters with a TV jingle. Silly heathen. All he had to do to destroy Halloween was slip cyanide into a few bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol and let the copy cat crimes do the rest. Do you remember the infamous "Tylenol Scare" of 1982? I do. It effectively ruined the only decent holiday Americans ever had and marked an end to a particularly enjoyable chapter of my childhood. Almost overnight the streets were empty and the undead were driven back to their crypts by PTA moms and community center safety dances. Halloween III was released the same month. Unlike Richard Band who fancies his music a crucial third dimension to the total cinematic experience, Carpenter has always maintained that his compositions are "intended to support the visual image, and that enjoyment of the music by itself is a secondary result." Makes sense when you consider that he and Howarth composed this stuff while watching a time coded video of the movie so it would synch perfectly with the imagery. It's also awfully modest and pragmatic and completely underestimates how thoroughly enjoyable this record is with the lights out. Four more days 'til Halloween! It's almost time, kids. The clock is ticking. Don't forget to wear your masks. It's almost time...

Friday, October 26, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 7): FROM BEYOND


From Beyond 
Richard Band 

The logical thing to do at this point in the week is slit my wrists and bleed for Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Frizzi or Buddy Maglione. Instead I'm gonna celebrate blue-collar American underdog Richard Band. Band is probably the most prolific composer in this roundup but you don't hear his name dropped with the same hushed reverence as his towering Pasta Land contemporaries or prodigious Yankee squares such as Jerry Goldsmith or Walter Wendy Carlos (um…not square) and that's probably because he's scored quite a few films that are best enjoyed as posters. I'm talkin' Time Warrior: Trapped on Toy World and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn. With over 75 scores on his resume he's certainly hacked out some repetitive snoozers over the past three decades but he's also turned in a few minor masterpieces such as Re-Animator, Troll, Terrorvision and of course this career pinnacle for the other beyond. I love this record not only because the back cover is a crude geometric silhouette of Jeffrey Combs that twitches in one's peripheral vision like a strychnine tracer but also because it's a genuinely weird and totally cinematic listening experience that doesn't let its playful sense of humor undermine its moments of sublime T-E-R-R-O-R. Stylistically it is very similar to Re-Animator which was released one year earlier and sounds like the tenth sub-basement of Pee Wee's Playhouse if it was located in that brownstone from Michael Winner's The Sentinel. Band tends to season his orchestral horror with incongruous jaunty melodies and quirky drum pad syncopation that is probably extremely disappointing for the ritual frowners but immensely fun for those of us who like to shotgun tallboys down at the gulch. C'mon, this dude scored Ghoulies...and his fuckin' dad produced it! Band has Hollywood pedigree but he actually landed his first industry gig in 1978 by walking right up to Halloween producer Irwin Yabland, who was poised on the brink of unprecedented indie success thanks to "The Shape", and simply asked for a job. According to Band he was given $1,000 and an opportunity to score a flick called Laserblast (never seen it) and he's kept himself pretty busy ever since. You should really check out his website cause he's selling autographed Troll cassette tapes for $10.  Yes, autographed.  Go ahead.  I'll be here when you get back.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 6): VIDEODROME


Videodrome 
Howard Shore 

"Today we are witness to the dawn of a new communications era..." Bleep. Bloop. Bleep. Buzz. Now here's a soundtrack that definitely won't get you laid (come to think of it, none of these will) but who needs a "significant other" when you've got headphones and Howard Shore's genuinely unsettling future-kill kompositions attacking your central nervous system? Shore is a brilliant soundtrack composer capable of manipulating the spectrum of human emotion with the mere push of a finger or swing of his conductor's wand. He wears black suits and combs his tuft of dignified silvery locks back from his decidedly high brow like a crown. He has won awards and moved millions with his Lord of the Rings scores. More importantly for our dark purposes today, he has closely collaborated with David Cronenberg ever since the heady "body horror" days of The Brood and with very few exceptions has scored some of the Canadian maestro's finest moments. Just beyond those quirky black-framed glasses that suggest all the stable pretense of the yawning intelligentsia there is a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. One gets the creeping feeling that he has perhaps devoted more than the usual amount of time thinking of new ways to inflict pain. Ok, he's probably a smart well-adjusted citizen. But none of that good-natured charm is evidenced on the seven pulsating, throbbing, seismic tracks that comprise the Videodrome soundtrack. It ain't exactly like listening to a hooker vomit on some asshole's shaft for seven minutes but, note for note, this score gives Taint a run for his money for sheer malefic atmosphere and plain ol' bad vibes. Noise hipsters think they're pretty "post-deconstructive" or whatever but few can sip their cocktail comfortably when 801 A/B is hissing and oscillating through the channels like some terrible electronic parasite. Trust me. They run straight back to the tattoo parlor and get their ears stretched wider. Apparently this entire record was "realized on Synclavier II" but there was also a synth programmer, two computer programmers, a sound FX programmer (what does that even mean?) and a dude credited with the sound FX montage that occasionally slips into the mix and makes you feel like the turntable is breathing and Debbie Harry is about to extinguish another cigarette on the pale orb of her perfect breast. Apparently, it takes a village.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 5): TWIN PEAKS


Twin Peaks 
Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch 

Let me guess. You're in a band? Yeah? You dudes goin' on the road? Well, even though you neither want nor deserve the sagely advice of a forty year old cruster who doesn't own a single NWN! diehard edition, I'm gonna offer a friendly suggestion: make sure you've got a copy of the Twin Peaks soundtrack handy on the dashboard. The last thing anyone wants to hear after some five hour bestial circle jerk is more fuckin' ruckus as you barrel down the highway on E inhaling farts and praying the next venue provides free pizza. Your ears can buy me a beer later. Director David Lynch co-wrote about 35% of this score and those four are among the more haunting and absolutely beautiful songs from this damn near perfect soundtrack. The mesmerizing Twin Peaks Theme is immediately recognizable and somehow invokes profound nostalgia upon first listen even if you don't give a rat's ass about the television franchise which, incidentally, isn't strictly "horror" but features enough madness, murder and supernatural weirdness to make the cut here. There is a gorgeous reprise on the heart-rending album closer Falling featuring the seductive harpy-like voice of Julee Cruise and this is a real gift since many soundtrack albums simply repeat a central motif ad nauseum with no such embellishment. A few years after the vinyl release of this score Anthrax enlisted Badalamenti's genius to emulate the Link Wray-on-Barbiturates guitar sound from Theme/Falling for their embarrassing Twin Peaks-inspired bummer Black Lodge off The Sound of White Noise. Man, grunge really did a number on thrash back then. Most of this record snaps and sways with more class than a bonfire full of collegiate black metal theses but let's not forget Into the Night with its hypnotic suspended animation and disorienting flourishes such as Cruise's almost inaudible opening whisper and that weird slowed-down tape effect that makes it sound like your record is warped for a split second and conjures the gloomy isolation of autumn twilights with leaf-strewn backstreets and cool breezes stirring in the pines. Here's a final piece of road wisdom and this gem comes courtesy of the always astute Special Agent Dale Cooper: "Doc, when the will is invoked, the recuperative powers of the physical body are simply extraordinary." You might remember this some painful Sunday morning while massaging your furrowed brow and regretting the previous night's indulgences. Perhaps you should just stay in school after all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 4): CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST


Cannibal Holocaust 
Riz Ortolani 

These nasty savages really know how to party! Ruggero Deodato's chunk blower magnum opus is like National Geographic Gone Wild with swingin' tits, thongs, skinny dipping, mud wrestling, vaginal impalement, guerrilla gang rape, forced ritual abortion, jagged rock castration...wait. I wanna go home! WAAAAA!!!! This mean-spirited journey into the heart of darkness makes the usual disembowelment and organ munching of sleazy 1970's mondo "shockumentaries" seem downright quaint in comparison.  The blitzkrieg narrative rolls your eyeballs straight down that last bumpy road to hell and the final devastating reel when our hapless gringo journalists scatter through the jungle popping off flare gun rounds as ash-smeared natives advance is truly unsettling. Then of course there's the unforgivable sea turtle mutilation that compels even the most emotionally stunted goretard among us to flinch. They just don't make movies like this anymore. And that's probably a good thing. This is simply one of the most cruel, uncomfortable and powerful films you will ever experience and Riz Ortolani's beautiful score is one of the most stirring, memorable and disturbing of all time. I've taken more than the recommended dosage over the years and still can't quite put my finger on why this soundtrack is so effective. It's really not so different from his kinda lame 1962 debut for Mondo Cane (a film that had a profound influence on Deodato's gonzo directorial style), which is basically oddly buoyant easy listening with an occasional brooding note thrown in to remind us jive ass honkies that we're supposed to be appalled as well as titillated. Perhaps it's the incongruous juxtaposition of soothing sickly sweet orchestral lullabies with plodding low-fi synths, shrieking ghost tones and funerary violin. One minute it sounds like Cat Stevens is about to rub lotion on your feet and the next minute you're curled up behind the couch in a fetal position while tribal Casio drums slash through the living room foliage. Ortolani does inexplicable things with wah wah peddles that would make me want to punch Edie Brickell in the face under normal circumstances but somehow it scares the shit out of me in this context. I literally look over my shoulder when I'm blasting this in the drawing chamber at 3am. Three jaded decades of bukkake porn and internet cartel beheadings have done nothing to soften the terrible impact of this film. That's because despite the unnecessary animal abuse (it's awful) and embarrassing "social message" (Third World cannibals are definitely a First World problem), this is undeniably masterful exploitation film making. In other words, this is a GREAT film...within a film.  In fact, it was transgressive cinema like this that effectively put an end to underground comix back in the 70's. How could a buncha' scruffy sad sacks with rapidographs possibly ruffle the feathers of the bourgeois status quo with crazy shit like this being blasted across huge theater screens for about the same price as a 20 page funny book? Answer: they couldn't. When it comes to far-out kicks, nothing beats the Green Inferno. And guess what? Portland's Hollywood Theater will be screening the only known 35mm print in existence TONIGHT courtesy of Dan Halsted's ongoing Grindhouse Film Festival! Bring a barf bag and prepare to be dumped by your date. Seriously, you're gonna need a safe word. Peeewwww. Peeewwww.

Monday, October 22, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 3): NOSFERATU


Nosferatu 
Popol Vuh 

Nothing even remotely frightening or disturbing about this lush soundtrack. Just pure ritual drone with vaguely ethnic influences courtesy of Germany's pioneering kraut rock experimentalists Popol Vuh. Legend has it this would have been their next album, to be titled On The Way To a Little Way, but when Werner Herzog heard it while filming his stylish but mostly faithful re-make of F.W. Murnau's 1922 Nosferatu (which was itself swiped from Bram Stoker's Dracula and unceremoniously re-titled to avoid lawsuits when they couldn't secure rights to the novel) he insisted that it be used for his film and my Egg Records pressing has both titles on the cover. There is a very calming raga-like tonal quality to this record that is very suitable for introspection. In fact, side one is bookended with Mantra I and Mantra II (revisited on side two with Zwiesprache Der Rohrfloete Mit Der) which would not be entirely out of place on a Pandit Pran Nath record with what sounds like electrified sitar and tombak. To translate that into terms you patch-jacket types can understand, I don’t know much about Necros Christos but I wouldn't be surprised if this record had some small but powerful influence on their instrumental interludes and tendency to arrange songs into numbered themes. Just a theory. Side two opens with the ghostly theremin dirge of the title track followed by Through Pains to Heaven II which might well have influenced Coil a few years later and apparently Opeth had the good taste to employ as intro stage music. The whole tasteful shebang is wrapped up with closer Zwiesprache der Rohrflote which is the closest we get to a straightforward jam and which somehow beautifully pulls together the album's disparate elements in one totally satisfying prog-rock doobie smoker. Exhale. Sunrise. Incinerate.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 2): BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW


Blood on Satan's Claw 
Marc Wilkinson 

To all the cunts who recently purchased those Mondo reissues and immediately flipped them on E-Bay for $140: I wish you all had one neck and I had my hands around it. Of course this frustrating tendency is endemic to the same miserable fucks who watched their SunnO))) stock plummet and before that their Japanese hardcore punk. I could go on and on about how easy it was to pluck great soundtracks (and lots of not-so-great soundtracks) out of the $1 bins back in the not-so-distant day but that would only raise my blood pressure and as a sympathetic friend reminded me the other day, it's just not worth the effort. After all, the current soundtrack craze will soon join the hula hoop, the mickey mouse hat, the Beta video, the Myspace bulletin and the porno grind sample on that inevitable death march toward total obsolescence. Furthermore, there are occasionally unexpected surprises that come with such reappraisals that bring great joy to real fans. Thanks to the tireless efforts of laudable cinephiles like Jonny Trunk of Trunk Records, some soundtracks have only emerged in the past decade or so due to the commercial revival that makes such endeavors even remotely viable. Take for instance this delightful score to Piers Haggard's 1971 period piece The Blood on Satan's Claw which was entirely unreleased until Trunk lovingly corrected this terrible oversight in 2007 with a modest no-frills vinyl release (incidentally, Trunk was also the first to issue the monumental Wicker Man soundtrack back in 1998 but I'm excluding that masterpiece from consideration today because it lacks the supernatural themes of Satan's Claw and does not meet my strict criteria as a horror film). It's true that much of this record repeats the same maddening scale over and over again and when I play it in public the Thin Lizzies smirk and immediately insert their earbuds. To properly appreciate its grand satanic splendor one must remember that it was released two years prior to Jack Nietzsche's Academy Award winning score for The Exorcist and astute listeners will detect faint ancestral DNA in such songs as Fiend Discovered and especially Angel's Claw and Judge by Fireside. I hear Nietzsche himself may have stolen that infamous sound from Magma but I can't attest to that theory.  Nonetheless, something was definitely in the water back then. Australian born composer Marc Wilkinson trained under Edgar Varèse (the electronic music pioneer for whom the original specialty soundtrack label Varèse Sarabande was named in homage...this shit runs deep!) and his first collaboration with Haggard was a studied exploration of devilish notes and fiendish timbre. That descending chromatic scale that drives people nuts is the infamous tritone interval that since dark medieval times was known as the Devil's Interval and it is made all the more unsettling on this record with the use of two unusual instruments, the Ondes Mertenot and the cimbalom, which provide the "big swoops" and "very pungent sounds" that characterize Wilkinson's main motif. I'm thinking this had to have had some influence on Nietzsche's Tubular Bells. And where the fuck would we be without Tubular Bells? To put it all in perspective, remember that Argento made Goblin listen to The Exorcist as they prepared to score Deep Red. And recall that William Lustig insisted that Jay Chattaway listen to Goblin as he prepared his score for Maniac. I told you this shit runs deep, man.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

HORRID HYMNS (Part 1): THE DUNWICH HORROR

BOO!  I hope you don't expect me to shut the fuck up any time soon because this happens to be my favorite time of the year and I'm feeling rather...spirited.  Over the course of the next week or so I'll be rantin' and ravin' about some of my favorite spooky soundtracks with a post every day right around midnight.  You'll be begging for Christmas carols by the time I'm finished.  Let's face it, most soundtracks offer one or two awe-inspiring diamonds and a whole lotta rust- consider Luciano Michelini's Screamers or Pino Donaggio's Carrie for example- but some scores terrorize your ears from beginning to end.  Those are the records I'll be praising.  I'm purposely leaving out a few obvious choices because I figure you numbnuts already hum Suspiria and The Shining in your sleep and I'd rather spend time with a few lesser celebrated classics but most of these will be pretty easy to acquire with a little digging in the usual places.  Dim the lights and let's get started...


The Dunwich Horror 
Les Baxter 

Our jaunt down the twisted path of horror soundtracks begins, appropriately enough, with the swingin' sounds of eternal cool cat Les Baxter. If we were to trace the lineage of horror flicks and 'eavy metal back to the roots of their maligned romance we would find ourselves in the unlikely exotic jungles of this wildly prolific happy-go-lucky American composer. Why? Because it was Baxter who scored the moody orchestral movements for the 1964 American International Pictures release of Mario Bava's classy horror anthology Black Sabbath that famously intrigued a certain band of Birmingham rat-salad smokers and the rest, as they say, is history. From that fateful day forward these distinct but equally loathed genres have been joined at the crotch like bastard Siamese Twins locked in perpetual coitus, spawning an endless brood and screaming, "...BONDED BY BLOOD!!!!" Occasionally the lusty connection is startling, such as when Dario Argento employed popular NWOBHM acts for Phenomenon or (and now the lineage is getting deep) when Mario Bava's son Lamberto Bava licensed Motley Crue, Saxon and Accept songs for his 1985 film Demons. Other times it is slightly subtler, such as when Iron Maiden immortalized The Phantom of the Opera or Negative Plane opened Et In Saecula Saeculorum with Fabio Frizzi's stirring overture (or when Sweden’s Head of the Demon paid homage to this very film on their debut LP!). But the connection between horror and heavy music is always present and its allure is palpable on this beautiful Lovecraftian score originally released in 1970, coincidentally the same year as Black Sabbath's titular debut, under the excellent title Music of the Devil God Cult: Strange Sounds From Dunwich. Imagine if you will the artist at work, sipping some tropical drink from a coconut shell carved into the shape of Cthulhu and twiddling a lei made of monkey skulls whilst whistling the diabolical melodies that would comprise one of the finest soundtracks ever recorded. Now revel in the gentle vibrating sounds of Sensual Hallucinations as they lull you into a Strange Sleep, sway to the beckoning bongos at the Cult Party, swagger and boom to the sultry strut of Necronomicon, cower before the Devil Cult and finally succumb to the snazzy thrall of the Devil's Witchcraft...all while doing the dishes in the comfort of your own home. Next time you're out on the town bangin' your head, raise a tiki goblet to Les Baxter for whipping up soundtracks so provocative and otherworldly that, without even knowing, he somehow helped shape the obsession that has kept you a virgin well into your adult years. Snap your fingers and tap your toes. The sacrifice is about to begin...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

STREAM OF BLOOD!

In case you missed it, the entire set from Portland Radio Authority is now streaming! Thanks to DJ Magnolia Bouvier for inviting me to play records and congratulations to Jesse and Tricia of Northern Fury for being the first listeners to correctly identify the Halloween III jingle.  Their copy of Grave Command is in the mail!

Monday, October 01, 2012

FRIGHT GALLERY