Sometimes, it does the power of good to step outside of what you would normally listen to and immerse yourself in something a bit different. Even better, it’s when you look sideways and notice that there’s something already there that you’ve not previously paid attention to. For me, this is found in scores and soundtracks, not just from the usual film and televisual sources, but from videogames. Even back in its relative infancy, the gaming industry has created emotional musical content through increasingly advanced sound chips, and there are many gems from all manner of genres to be found in a medium still treated with some suspicion in many quarters as a mere pastime for kids. This particular gem is one of those times when you could play this to any one of these naysayers, and will absolutely blow their minds when it is pointed out that this is from one such game.
Much as I used to enjoy videogames back in the day, I’ve not paid much attention in recent years save for the occasional go on Ooki Bloks on the lav whenever the occasion calls for it. I guess it’s because much of today’s malarkey consists of technicality and repetition over imagination thanks to fewer constraints and bigger budgets which is all well and good but doesn’t half suck all the fun out of playing. So when something like Hohokum comes along, it re-piques my interest in the whole thing again: colourful, imaginative, joyful and – the reason why I’m going on about it here – with a soundtrack to match.
Working in conjunction with Ghostly Recordings, Hohokum’s creators have both created and curated a collection of tunes both previous and exclusive from the label’s eclectic roster to come up with almost two hours of uplifting, inventive and playful tracks that match the colourful and curious visuals plus the explorative gameplay of their host creation.
As my mood fails to improve, tactics have shifted from playing along with it (see previous post) to shocking it into compliance: and this means bringing out The Big Guns. If you’ve never seen Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 film Akira (of his own vast comic series), you should really do so at the earliest opportunity. And don’t be worrying about not being able to follow it at all, for the film makes little, if any, sense that I’ve been able to ever ascertain. It’s a massive assault on the senses, a spot-on critique of high-level corruption, a strange sense of future dread from the fact that Tokyo really will be having an Olympic Stadium built in 2019 (and here’s hoping the architects display some sort of knowing sense of humour), and frankly it’s really weird. Visually, it’s a feast. But it would be half a film without the utterly unique soundtrack that backs it up.
If the previous post wasn’t indication enough, I can confirm without the tiniest shadow of a doubt that I am in a very bad mood indeed. Reasons are myriad and too important to go into here, but take it from me, it’s a doozy. Now, there are two ways I can go with this: I can dig out something entertainingly self-pitying (and of that I have plenty) and have a bit of a Thursday Night Wallow; or I can dive right in and listen to something suitably, beautifully and proactively nasty so that I can turn this mood into something much more fun to be with. Thankfully, the twin red vinyl discs containing the latter have appeared to save the evening.
- It was Halloween;
- It was also a Saturday;
- I assumed that, because of points 1 and 2, everyone else would have made some sort of effort; and
- Due to me deciding to do this rather late, it was all they had left in the shop.
Imagine my surprise when I swanned (nunned?) into said establishment only to discover that nobody else had bothered. Worse than that, everyone else then decided we were all going to go to the local Student’s Union bar, where nobody else had bothered either. I wish that I could say that I learned a valuable lesson from this, but I didn’t.
I mention all this because this is a soundtrack to a film that I know nothing about other than the cover (which is a stunner, courtesy of Alice X. Zhang) features the titular heroine in similar garb, and that set me of reminiscing. It also helps that the actual vinyl arrived similarly nun-coloured, which is always a bit of a treat.
Wont as I am to occasionally delve into the nerdier recesses of the CD shelves, especially during this time of year when there’s not much out and finances don’t stretch to having a bit of a gamble. This one, timed as it is, ticks a few boxes in 6DFT towers as it’s not only one I’ve felt like writing about for a while but also appears here in the form of a recently reissued vinyl selection as well as providing grist for the ranting mill with regard to the current vinyl market.
There’s much to be said for the re-emergence of vinyl product in today’s musical marketplace. On the plus side, there’s the whole weird sense of community that comes with modern-day actual record buying as it’s a thing that feels like it has passed through many sets of caring hands before it reaches its home and a lifetime of being taken out, dusted down, having the artwork and sleevenotes pawed over and then listened to in captivity. Well, unless they start selling these again, anyway. The downside is provided in a lack of stores these days, leading to many early morning trips to the sorting office to collect yet another parcel that wouldn’t fit through a letterbox (although conversations are then struck with Post Office workers about vinyl, something that doesn’t happen with a box of CDs) and a pricing structure that is determined to keep this new rising to a minimum of collectors, which is a bit of a shame. That said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that market (as this post will hopefully illustrate), but I’ve ended up ordering a record from the US today that will cost me a total of $38 bought and flown to my door (well, most of the way anyway) because vendors here want £30 before they even start thinking about putting a stamp on it. The rule for standard issues of LPs shouldn’t be so expensive, especially when the exceptions to the standard are the same price or cheaper and come as such insanely high quality packages such as this one.
From the day that I first clapped eyes on the teaser poster for A Field In England (courtesy of the Twins Of Evil‘s amazing artwork), Ben Wheatley’s psychedelic Civil War drama, I was sold. As well as the quality of the image, I was drawn to the whole setting of the piece, as the English Civil War is something that was mentioned while I was at school, but not really gone into much depth (presumably because nobody really came out of that one a winner, except the monarchy). It was an odd era spent largely on the boundaries between believing in magic and wanting to understand science; where warlocks and alchemists locked horns. And Wheatley really conveys all of this while telling a weirdly human story through the middle of it, bringing together great characters and beautiful imagery in the process. Plus, of course, some amazing music courtesy of Jim Williams plus a couple of extras. And an unintentional psychedelic bonus for yours truly, which is making this a bugger to type.
Sometimes you watch a film, and it all just sticks with you. When you’re still going over stuff in your head the day after the credits have rolled and still feel something about the story and characters, you know a film’s worked. That I’m sat here thinking about the deeper aspects of a remake of a slasher film speaks volumes about the quality of Franck Khalfoun’s reworking of 1980 horror flick Maniac whilst also showing up most lesser reimaginings by virtue of it being different, thought-provoking and actually rather good. Taking its cues from a variety of places other than the obvious original source (Michael Powell’s long-reviled Peeping Tom and Michael Mann’s sublime and stylish Manhunter striking chords in this scribe), it piles on sympathy for and (thanks to the way that the main character is depicted) empathy with the tragic Frank Zito.
And how to cement the fact that this is an emotionally-gripping feature that isn’t completely concerned with scalping people? Why, by laying a sumptuous, neon-washed synth score over the top of it.
If it wasn’t for the somewhat random nature of the local postal service, this would have arrived yesterday and fallen rather nicely on the first anniversary of the Death Waltz Recording Company, a soundtrack record label that has been both incredibly busy and wonderfully fastidious in providing records that look and ‘feel’ just as good as they sound – and, such is the popularity of their release schedule, who spectacularly managed to completely bugger up the internet last week when their soundtrack to The Fog became available in a manner that must have had GCHQ absolutely seething. But, as these things are wont to do, the postman was late, I got the red postcard of “while you were out” horror and I had to get up at 7am this morning to pick this up instead. Ah well, Happy Birthday anyway!
This isn’t about looking back though. This new release is the first of a hopefully extended set of soundtracks in collaboration with the classic, eccentric Hammer studios who gave me such lovely and exotic things to look at in my callow youth. And quite frankly, they didn’t come much more lovely and exotic than this.