A bunch of mostly electronic, mostly synthetic, mostly soundtrack stuff this week.
I have a heck of a lot of stuff like this, so this might be part one of two. Sorry to anybody who was expecting a week of turkey-themed music…
Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou is known professionally as Vangelis. He has released his own albums but is primarily known as a soundtrack guy. He got an Oscar for “Chariots Of Fire” but I prefer his Blade Runner soundtrack. There are multiple versions of that movie, so there are similarly multiple versions of the score. The one these cuts are from is called the “Definitive Edition”, whatever that means. I’ve edited the first three tracks of the album together as one track.
Magic Sword is a mysterious masked trio from Boise, Idaho. They haven’t done any movie scores yet, but I first heard them in a trailer for Thor: Ragnarok. They do make comic books for which their music serves as a score, so there’s that.
Smgsap is another group from the Soundwalk, this time 2004. Their piece was just about the right length to fit under Jesse Thorn’s dramatic recitation of M.O.P.’s “Ante Up”. I was originally going to set that to music, but someone else did already.
Director John Carpenter is one of the only directors I know who composes (and performs) the score for his own big-budget Hollywood movies. I have a few of his scores, many of them made in collaboration with sound designer Alan Howarth, but the main title from 1981’s Escape From New York kept going through my head so I had to include it here.
Wendy Carlos is yet another “electronic music pioneer” (apparently my fave type of musician). She is mainly known for the album “Switched-On Bach” from 1968. This album, performed on a Moog modular synthesizer, sold over a million copies and is credited with popularizing the synthesiser as an instrument. That recording led to her scoring the Stanley Kubrick films A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. The latter experience proved so unpleasant that she vowed never to work with the director again. Tron’s director was presumably nicer.
The Adventure Zone is one of my favorite podcasts (for my other faves see the relevant blog posts). It’s three brothers playing Dungeons & Dragons with their dad. Griffin McElroy, the youngest brother, is the DM (Dungeon Master) writing the story and controlling the fates of Justin (oldest) Travis (middlest) and Clint (dad). In its earliest episodes it was kind of just an “out of the book” adventure, but pretty soon Griffin began expanding the story. One of the things he started to do was include original music. Inspired by Mort Garson (whose “Deja Vu” served as the theme of the show), Griffin’s electronic compositions added a depth that was also reflected in the increasingly complex and exciting storyline. I really can’t recommend the show enough, it’s really a top-notch ride from start to finish. Also it’s hilarious.
|illustration by Oliver Barrett|
Mort Garson was a Canadian-born composer/arranger/session musician in the Sixties, but my favorite works of his are the albums he recorded on the Moog synthesiser. Starting in the late Sixties, Garson was one of the many to release Moog records following the success of Switched-On Bach. His were among the best, which is why he kept making them throughout the Seventies alongside his (presumably better-paying) work for record companies and movie studios. This track is from Mother Earth’s Plantasia, a 1976 album of
“full, warm, beautiful mood music especially composed to aid in the growing of your plants”
I don’t know how effective it was. We recently got a Spathiphyllum so I figured this would be a good track to choose. I think it sounds like a game show theme, which makes sense because Mort Garson composed some game show themes.
The Hour Of Slack clip, featuring Rev. Ivan Stang, Dr. Howland Owll (aka Dr. Hal Robins), and Rev. Baby Bear speaking at X-Day, has its own background music so I didn’t add anything but some echo and reverb. I liked the discussion of “admitting it’s all BS” which is like breaking kayfabe. I don’t know who the “Wiccan couple” might be, but Stang does reveal that John Keel was privately candid about the Mothman’s existence. It’s also hilarious but not surprising that Stanislav Szukalski totally believed his schtick.
Stranger Things is an almost quilt-like sci-fi series on Netflix, in that it's asembled from pieces of other works. Depending on your familiarity with the source material, you can play spot-the-influence with the show, which I’ve heard annoys some people but doesn’t bother me.The music is an example of that, drawing heavily on the moody synth soundtracks of John Carpenter. This is the extended version of the opening title theme, which echoes (is echoed by?) the Magic Sword track that follows.
TONTO is an acronym for "The Original New Timbral Orchestra", called “the first, and still the largest, multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer in the world” although there is some dispute. It is certainly enormous. Tonto's Expanding Head Band was British duo (Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff) who only released two albums but were quite influential through their work with other musicians such as Stevie Wonder.
That basically covers it for this week! Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or reply wherever you’re reading this. Talk to you next week!
- Rev. Dr. Dr. Phill
Opening/The First Test/Los Angeles, November 2019 - Vangelis (1982)
The Way Home - Magic Sword (2015)
3.13 - smgsap (2004)
Jordan Jesse Go Ep. 411: Night Pees with Alison Rosen 1/18/2016
Main Title [Escape From New York] - John Carpenter & Alan Howarth (1981)
Theme from Tron - Wendy Carlos (1982)
The Elevator of Tomorrow - Griffin McElroy (2016)
Swingin' Spathiphyllums - Mort Garson (1976)
The SubGenius Hour of Slack #1592 - For a Few Stark Fistfulls of Dollars More 10/16/2016
Voidfish Duet - Griffin McElroy (2016)
Kill Them All - Magic Sword (2015)
The Starblaster - Griffin McElroy (2017)
Stranger Things (Extended) - Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein (2016)
The Curse - Magic Sword (2016)
Ferryboat - Tonto's Expanding Head Band (1974)
Deja Vu - Ataraxia (Mort Garson) (1970)