|Liner Notes to Filmworks 1986-1990:
WHITE AND LAZY 1986
After my record THE BIG GUNDOWN came out, I was convinced that a lot of soundtrack work was going to be coming my way. Well, the phone didn't ring off the hook and I didn't exactly hold my breath waiting. But one day a call came from a young director named Rob Schwebber and this was the result.
WHITE AND LAZY was the first film I ever scored and it was an altogether pleasing experience from beggining to end. It's a short film about 30 minutes in lenth taking place on the lower East Side. To reflect the punk overtones in the film, I decided to put together a core group of downtown rockers. It turned out to be an amazing band.
Arto was, and still is, one of my closest friends, and I'd known Anton Fier since the early days of the GOLDEN PALOMINOS and LOCUS SOLUS groups. But the real coup on this recording was in the luring out of hibernation punk guitar genius Robert Quine (from the Voidoids, Lou Reed's band), and he takes one of his best solos ever on the END TITLES.
Rob gave me a free reign for the music and I managed to find a place for most of my favorite obsessions: hardcore noise punk (MAIN TITLE), rockabilly (THE HEIST), moody Bernard Hermann-esque harmonies (MEAT DREAM) and bluesy Jazz (PHONE CALL).
Carol Emanuel takes a few gorgeous choruses of blues on PHONE CALL recalling the soulful sound of jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby, and Anton Fier's playing has beautiful precision and simplicity that's a joy to hear. The real star of this soundtrack, however, is Bob Quine, who runs a wide range of styles and play superbly throughout.
The music was recorded in one day, mixed the next, and unlike many soundtrack projects, was laid into the film exactly as I hoped.
THE GOLDEN BOAT 1990
Raul Ruiz is a filmmaker whose working method can best be summed up in perhaps 3 words: fast, cheap and eclectic. As a student and afficionado of grade B films, I'm certainly no stranger to the techniques of low budget filmmaking, and when I was approuched to do the soundtrack for THE GOLDEN BOAT, I took the challenge seriously. And it is a challenge to create something great with little or no money, using only your imagination and ingenuity in solving problems not even encountered in projects with normal budgets. Edward Wood, Edgar G. Ulmer, Samuel Fuller, Jean-Luc Godard, John Cassavetes, these are some of the masters who battled the system and came out on top. I see Paul Ruiz follwing this tradition inhis own highly personal way. For me, he is one of the most interesting and misunderstood filmmakers working today.
In creating this soundtrack I decided early on that my working methods should in some way mirror his. Instead of working hard on timing music to specific scenes, it seemed much more appropriate to spend my time in the studio in generating as much and as many different kinds of music possible. We would then cut up this basic material, and lay it into place during the editing process.
Almost sixty minutes of music was recorded in two days, and mixed in one. In keeping with the film's basic non-linear time sense, the music was cut to shreds to create a highly discontinuous "post-Godardian" universe. In many ways the film was a milestone for me, and changed my whole attitude toward film scoring, from neurotic perfectionism to a more quirky, collaborative approuch.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY 1987
This track is a freak. In April of 1987, I got a call from a representative of the McCann Erikson Advertising Agency who was putting a new presentation for Camel cigarettes in Sout East Asia. They were looking for a new approuch in arranging the Camel theme song "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" which they'd been using for years, and had already commissioned a reggae band, a jazz group and a classical string quartet. God knows what they thought I would come up with, but needless to say, after I delivered my track I never heard from them again. That's show biz! I still wonder which one they picked...
SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS 1986
I'd known director Sheila McLaughlin for a number of years, since the early days of Richard Foreman's Ontological-Hysterie Theatre when she asked me to do the soundtrack for her new film SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS. Basically it's a story of love and obsession between a lesbian filmmaker and her lover, whose jealousy reaches near pyschotic proportions.
The music draws largely on jazz/blues roots, and features plenty of soulful soloing from Bill Frisell on guitar, Wayne Horvitz on Hammond organ, Anthony Coleman on piano, and Marty Ehtlich on tenor sax, as well as my own alto which briefly appears on SEX SHOP BOOGALOO. I'd been listening a lot to "Paul Desmond With Strings", and you can hear the influence especially on GOING TO DINNER. Structurally speaking, SEDUCTION is perhaps the most complex track -- a blues that runs through a series of mood changes cued precisely to on-screen actions. But it was never to make the cut of the film as Sheila felt it overpowered the images it was meant to accompany.
The MAIN TITLE is still one of my favorite tracks. A dense and driving piece that uses one of Ennio Morricone's favorite devices: the piano-bass ostinato, coupled with some great blowing by Wayne and Bill, and a series of Bernard Hermann-style minor triads that lead us to a punding climax driven home by the dynamic drumming of Bobby Previte. Quincy Jones' score to IN COLD BLOOD was also a reference here, in a track that pays tribute to several of my favorite soundtrack heroes.
In addition, the harmonies of Josquin Desprez are evoked in the CATALINA monastery sequences, and there's even a touch of Nino Rota in the DEATH WALTZ FANTASY, and END TITLES. This soundtrack, and to a lesser extent WHITE AND LAZY, is typical of what my musicians like to call my "Radio City thing". A lot of the orchestration was a direct result of the equipment available at this beautiful sounding old-style studio, where Monk made his Riverside recordings, and Albert Ayler taped "Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe". The Hammond organ, the tympani, vibes, tubular bells, harpsichord, and the same celeste Monk used on "Pannonica" all fell into my musical maelstrom and helped create pieces like SPILLANE, GODARD, BLUES NOEL, and, of course, most of the music on this CD.
The Studio is gone now (that beautiful room at the top of Radio City Music Hall is being used for business conferences) and with it, my "Radio City" sound. In respect for this beautiful studio, whose original plate reverbs and long concrete echo chambers gave our mixes a special warmth, I've decided not to remix these tracks. Instead you hear things the way we heard them at the time. The "Radio City" days are over. The music lives on.