Scott Crane asked me to do some film scoring for his new post-apoclyptic acid western short film “Curio Shop“. Having grown up in the seventies, I’ve always been draw to dystopian themes. Seemed the seventies were rife with people picking up the pieces of a once idyllic life. Drug abuse, crime and divorce on the rise and the end of the relatively innocent sixties. At least that described my adolescence.
Scott and I seemed to have a common ground sonically with “distressed” music. Lo fi echoes of things down in the basement, tape delay, moog synthesizers and Jimmy Page’s scraping of violin bows on guitar stings.
Another influence was the film “Paris Texas” starring Harry Dean Stanton with Ry Cooder’s great work on that score. We were looking for vast space, desert, dust and a feeling that things were falling apart. Everything is broken or breaking in “Curio Shop” especially the people.
I had recently seen a documentary on the making of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. There was a brief glimpse someone playing a banjo with a violin bow, no audio just a visual while a narrator was documenting the scoring process. I thought what I imaged it would sound like would be perfect for this project, lending a “western” accent with a bit of the darkness of Page’s “Damask” after it had been run though a tape delay. The end result is a grinding, hurdy gurdyish drone with a hauntingly strained melody. Single notes are difficult to achieve on a flat necked instrument, like a banjo or guitar, with a bow. Typically bowed instruments have a small radius neck, allowing easy access to each string while bowing. But this difficulty gave the music a haunting plaintiveness to it’s voice.
Also Scott has a great old RCA ba6a compressor. These things are monstrous compressors from the 50s that have so much gain, you can use them without a mic preamp. I tracked all the banjo with it, but it really showed it’s mojo when I pushed a drum loop and a bass line mixed to mono through it and squished it hard. Makes you remember how great mono can sound.
In the end, Peter Cornell (brother of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell) and I ended up splitting the scoring duty. It worked out to be about 50/50, some even overlapping and somehow the material worked extremely well together, I think mostly thanks to Scott’s ability to articulate exactly what he was looking for in a score. Always a pleasure to find a film maker with such a great musical vocabulary. Scott’s background as a music producer and musician made this project that much easier.
So, here’s one of my pieces entitled “Die Morgenlandfahrt (The Journey East)” from the film score to “Curio Shop” due out later in 2014. Enjoy