When there’s no more room in Hell…

It’s 11:35 pm on a Thursday night and I’m writing whilst listening to Tangerine Dream’s Rubycon. Normally I’d be fast asleep thanks to some Melantonin and general exhaustion but I’m currently on fall break holiday. Not that it’s a work holiday or anything, but the kids are off the last half of the week for fall break and I figured it’d be a good time to burn up some vacation days. Besides, the wife is in Pennsylvania for work-related reasons and it seemed to be a good idea to be home to make sure the kids don’t burn the place down while I’m hard at work…at work.

Today was the boy and I’s annual viewing of one of my all-time favorite movies, George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. It’s been a tradition since 2011 for us to sit and watch Romero’s classic zombie flick. Sure the make up is dated and the acting is spotty at times and characters sometimes do ridiculously stupid things, but none of those things really matter. You see, Romero captured something in his Pennsylvania-shot horror epic. You get the vibe that you could’ve known these people. You feel their angst as the beginning shots show a newsroom in chaos. Medical experts argue on air with local authorities about the situation as the camera crew, engineers, and producers scream at each other, chain smoke, and gobble down cup after cup of coffee. Racial tensions between cops and tenants at a housing project show race divisions are still alive and well, 10 years after the original Night of the Living Dead arrived. Our four main characters, a helicopter pilot, his pregnant news producer girlfriend, and two S.W.A.T. officers make it out of the crumbling Pittsburgh and find their way to “one of those indoor malls”. Inside they find the dead walking among the empty clothing stores, shoes stores, and candy shoppes. Despite death taking their ability to reason and think, they still shuffle along inside the indoor Monroeville Mall as if they were there to buy some shoes.

mallI’ve seen this movie several times in my life. You’d think once or twice would be enough, but I could watch it two or three times a year I think. It’s one of those films that not only has several layers of meaning to me, but it takes me back to when I first saw it over 30 years ago. I’d been at my aunt’s house for a week. It was fun going to my aunt Brenda’s house, as she had a son that was just a year younger than me so we had a blast playing together. They had a big two-story home in a neighborhood in Plymouth, Indiana, so there was plenty of room for us to get into trouble. But they were also very religious, so by the time I’d get to go back home I was ready to get back to my sinful ways of watching scary movies, listening to my hard rock, and just enjoying the general laid back attitude my parents had when it came to parenting. When my mom and I got back from her picking me up I stepped into the house and saw some videos from Video World on the kitchen counter. One of them was Dawn of the Dead. My dad had heard about the movie and picked it up before he came home. I remember we watched it after dinner that night and I was blown away. My dad rewound two or three scenes laughing out loud at the part where the zombie stood up onto the wood crates and the top of his head was sliced off by the copter blades(I think we even slow motioned that part.) We laughed at the blue-tinted Hare Krishna, the shirtless fat zombie, and the old man stumbling zombie that was on the escalator. The goofy mall music, the sales announcements(“Sales-a-poppin!”), and the store fronts; as well as the arcade, ice skating rink, and photobooth all went to create this timeless feeling for me.

glenbrookSeeing that mall our protagonists were trapped in reminded me of my own mall. It looked just like the Glenbrook Mall where my mom would take me clothes shopping for school. It was set up just like the mall in Dawn of the Dead, complete with fountain and ice skating rink. Every time I’d go there after seeing Romero’s film I’d look at the expressionless faces I’d pass and think these people weren’t far off from being undead themselves. Going through the motions, mindlessly performing the act of supporting the economy by spending money they had(and in some cases didn’t have.) Stalking through the mall was like this involuntary muscle movement. We knew it so well we didn’t really have to be there in our heads. We just shuffled along, dumping money at the Foot Locker, Musicland, and Chess King. Instead of dining on the flesh of the living we’d dine on hot pretzels and a cold drink from Hot Sam. We’d go blind at the arcade, thoughtlessly dropping quarter after quarter into arcade games like Asteroids, Frogger, and Tron.

Where there’s no more room in Hell, the dead shall walk the mall.

goldmineI don’t know if George Romero knew what he was creating when he made Dawn of the Dead. While he went on to make many more films(some good, some not-so good), I don’t think he ever hit all the right buttons again like he did with Dawn. It was a mix of social commentary, horror/gore, dark humor, and nostalgia. It wasn’t nostalgia at the time the film was made, but given that most of those indoor malls have gone by the wayside and have been closed, in lieu of more trendy outdoor malls and the more convenient online shopping, Dawn of the Dead is showing something that most millenials these days probably wouldn’t understand. Even though I can’t stand going to the mall, there’s still a part of me that misses those days of walking the halls of Glenbrook as a teenager with my pals and gawking at girls I never had the nerve to talk to in person, or dropping coins at the Gold Mine arcade. Buying a slice of pizza in the food court and reading Fangoria zines at Waldenbooks. The mall was a rite of passage for the 80s American youth. It was ingrained in us. So much so that even in death we were searching for some great deals, an Orange Julius, and maybe a cute girl to take to the movies.

Or maybe we were just looking for some living flesh to devour. Either way, bring lots of coins.


Surfs Up : Grey Gordon Takes Us To Kill Surf City

by J. Hubner

Photo by Nick Rossi


Grey Gordon is one of those cats that never seems content. He’s the kind of musician and songwriter that doesn’t worship at the alter of any one musical master. He’s made noise under the monikers of punk, post-hardcore, alternative, indie pop, post-punk, and early 90s indie rock. It’s not that he can’t figure out who he is as a musician, it’s that he’s all of that and then some(he’s a deep hip hop fan as well.) Above all else, Grey Gordon is a fan. He loves music. He’s been engulfed in it since he was a kid when his dad introduced him to those early 90s indie rock bands that pretty much defined a generation, much like the late 60s defined its generation of flower power. Grey has always done what felt right to him. If you dug his trip, then great. If not? Who are you, anyways?

After the dissolution of his old gig Wickerwolves and the release of his solo effort Forget I Brought It Up, Gordon set out to do something completely and solely for himself. The result is Kill Surf City, a lo-fi project that harkens back to the early days of college rock. It’s a fuzzy pop-centric sound that tips a hat to Jesus and Mary Chain(in both the band name and crusty guitar sound), Guided By Voices, Dino Jr and all that other stuff that hasn’t been topped since it blew minds in the late Bush/early Clinton years.

Grey sat down with me and we chatted about Kill Surf City and whatever came to mind.

J. Hubner:  So tell me about Kill Surf City. How did this project come about? Has this been a passion project in the waiting for some time now?

Grey Gordon: Well, yes and no. I had been wanting to do something in this vein for years, but never had the time before, and I never knew precisely what I wanted to do with it. I had messed around with some other lo-fi home recordings that were somewhat in this vein, but nothing ever stuck. I finally found myself with a plethora of free time and energy, and everything just sort of coalesced to form what became Kill Surf City.

J. Hubner:  Listening to the ‘Wreckage’ ep Kill Surf City is definitely channeling some late 80s/early 90s vibes. Early Dino Jr, Husker Du, Jesus and Mary Chain(your namesake), as well as some more modern shoegaze-ish bands like Nothing, Whirr, and Young Prisms. Who are some of the bands that inspired ‘Wreckage’, as well as Kill Surf City as a whole? 

Grey Gordon: You definitely nailed some key influences with that first round of classic bands you mentioned. The JAMC influence is obvious in the tone and of course the name. I’m taking a lot of cues from Guided By Voices, Sebadoh and R. Stevie Moore with this project. All of them operated strictly on their own terms, and did the vast majority of their recording at home. For one, that’s an aesthetic I really enjoy and which really resonates with me, but it also allows me free reign to do whatever I want. When I recorded the first batch of songs for this project, I think my idea was just to do something in the vein of The Jesus and Mary Chain, but it very quickly morphed into something a lot more all encompassing. I’m drawing from all my influences while at the same time not trying to emulate anyone in particular. I’m also not trying to be limited by a particular genre tag. I really admire bands like Sebadoh or GBV for doing whatever they felt like at the time. That’s my goal as well.

J. Hubner: The EP was released through Soft Exit out of Bellevue Kentucky. How did Kill Surf City get hooked up with them? 

Grey Gordon: Soft Exit is a label run by my homie Dustin Bingaman. Our hardcore bands played a show together, and we just really clicked. We’re into all the same stuff. We had been talking about working together in some capacity for a couple years, and when I dropped the first KSC tracks online, he approached me about doing a release for me. I immediately agreed. Most of what he does on the label is more in the vein of ambient drone and harsh noise, but I think the KSC stuff is on the same page ideologically if not sonically. He plays in a really great band called Rive that everyone should check out.

kill-surf-cityJ. Hubner: Tell me about the recording process. The EP was recorded all on a Macbook with an acoustic guitar, keys, and Garageband? Seems pretty punk rock to me. Was this what you had in mind from the beginning or was it more out of necessity?

Grey Gordon: It was total necessity. I wanted the project to be lo-fi, but not necessarily THAT lo-fi. Basically, I quickly found that the internal mic in my Macbook can’t really pick up electric guitar very well, so I ended up just recording acoustic guitars and running them through the digital amps in Garageband. Coincidentally, I managed to pull some pretty decent sounds out of this process.

Recording basically consists of me writing a song on guitar, tracking the basic guitar tracks to a click, programming the drums, writing/recording leads and whatnot, hitting synth and bass tracks and then recording vocals. I usually knock everything out all at once.

J. Hubner: How are the live shows going? Are the Grey Gordon and Wickerwolves fans digging the new sounds? Do you have a full band you play shows with?

Grey Gordon: The shows have been phenomenal. If I’m playing a DIY space without an adequate sound system, I just run my backing tracks through my amp. If I’m in a nicer club, I’ll run them through the house system. I don’t have a live band for this stuff. I just have the instrumentals on my phone, so I just run those and play guitar/sing live. I’ve had several people approach me about doing live band stuff, so I’m sure I will eventually.

I couldn’t tell you how GXG or WW fans feel about it. I think they seem to be digging it, but I don’t really know or care. I don’t say that to appear aloof, I just legitimately am not invested in pleasing anyone. I really, really like what I’m doing with this project, so other people liking it as well is just an added bonus. Other bands I’ve been playing with have been digging it, which is always reassuring and encouraging.

J. Hubner: You seem to be incorporating more pedals in your sound as well. They say “mo’ pedals, mo’ problems”. Actually I just said that. Anyways, what are some of your weapons of choice in the pedal chain these days? What’s your overall guitar setup looking like? You digging the J Mascis JM? I love mine.

Grey Gordon: Live, I’ve just been running my Deluxe Big Muff, the reverb in my Jazz Chorus and the built in chorus channel. I might try running some more stuff live in the future, but we’ll see. I just picked up a Turbo Rat clone I really like, and I’m definitely wanting to use my Vapor Trail delay more. I love my J. Mascis. There are some Seymour Duncan Antiquity II pick ups in there which are a little more high gain than the stock ones. Amp wise, I’ve just been running my JC-77. Can never go wrong with a Jazz Chorus. If It’s good enough for Johnny Marr, it’s good enough for me.

wreckageJ. Hubner: You seem to be an artist that shuns the idea of labels. Every project you’ve been involved with over the years has been a decidedly different trip than the one before it. Instead of leading some movement or trend, you tend to just follow your muse wherever she takes you. Is that a safe assessment to make?

Grey Gordon: I think that’s a pretty astute observation. I don’t necessarily shun the idea of labels, and as a music fan, I actually quite like exploring the genre family tree as it were. As a musician, they can be limiting, though. Getting hit with the emo revival tag when I was doing solo stuff under my name was extremely annoying, and not even particularly accurate. I’m definitely aiming to avoid that with this project. I’m hoping my efforts are eclectic enough to evade any easy categorization. The stylistic breadth of my musical pursuits over the years can be boiled down to an extremely broad sweeping taste and general musical ADD. I want to be in every kind of band at the same time. That’s why I’m hoping KSC can be a catch all for just about everything I want to do, so I don’t have to constantly start new projects.

J. Hubner: Do you have any upcoming shows with Kill Surf City? Any local gigs?

Grey Gordon: I just got off a week long run with my homie Blood Handsome. Locally, I have a show at CS3 on November 19th with a couple very dope rappers from Indianapolis named Flaco and Fully Automatic Drayco. I’ve found a second home in the rap scene down there. That whole group is on the come up very hard, and I couldn’t be more psyched to be playing so many shows together. Sirius Black, Grizz, Pope Adrian Bless, John Stamps. The list goes on and on. Such a vibrant community. As of right now, that’s all I really have booked, but I’ll be booking other stuff soon. I just need to get some personal affairs sorted and set aside some scrilla.

J. Hubner: So what’s the plan with Kill Surf City? Another EP? Maybe a full-length? Is the muse leading you in a new direction already?

Grey Gordon: I’m going to stick with this for the foreseeable future. I’m putting the finishing touches on a couple songs I’m doing for a split with a very sick band from the East Coast. Will hopefully have details on that soon. I’m planning to start up a cassette label when I have some paper stacked up, so I’m going to use that as a vessel to release a lot of the KSC stuff. I hope to do a lot of splits and tapes via small labels. I just want to stay busy and be prolific. Create a lot of content. I have a few video shoots planned, and I recently picked up a Super 8 camera I’d like to experiment with. There will definitely be no shortage of material. Stay tuned.

Check out Kill Surf City over at Bandcamp and indulge in some lo-fi goodness. Head out to CS3 on November 19th and check out Grey’s Kill Surf City trip in all it’s lo-fi glory. Keep up with all future shows and release news over at Facebook.





The Puppet’s Dream

A few months back I sat on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, ate some tacos, and watched this little indie horror film called We Are Still Here. A good friend told me I should watch it, so I figured why not? It was Sunday, gloomy, and there were tacos to be eaten. Turns out the film was pretty damn good. A creepy ghost story that was surprisingly moving. A story about parents in the throes of grief and depression over the death of their adult son who move far away from their home to a quaint little town in the middle of nowhere to an old farmhouse they found incredibly cheap. Of course there was a reason it was cheap. I’ll spare you the details as you should really seek this one out and watch for yourself. What struck me about it was that it had nothing to do with teens or 20-somethings partying and doing things their parents wouldn’t be proud of getting slaughtered in the usual grotesque manner. It was written with some maturity in mind. There was build-up and nuance. It was subtle horror that ends up in a massive hallucinatory moment of violence and gore. The end sends a chill down your spine.

I’m telling you, watch the movie.

The score was done by a composer named Wojciech Golczewski. It was subtle and nuanced like the film. Not overbearing, it worked to build those moments of surprise, melancholy and dread. Golczewski has been doing movie scores for sometime now, and a couple months ago he released his debut solo album called Reality Check. Of course when Mondo announced they were releasing it I had to drop the money for it and grab it. It was a wise decision as it’s a stunning piece of sci fi-inspired music.

reality-checkThere’s not much I can say about the album that the album can’t say for itself, really. There’s all the great synthesizer work you come to expect from a futuristic sounding album that sort of plays out like mini themes for film scenes. Tracks like “The Puppets Dream”, “Sid Vortex”, and “Solitude” are dense pieces of synth-inspired electronic music that pull you in to their world. The album cover, complete with disintegrating astronaut floating in space, elicits the casually doomed vibe you get as you make your way through Reality Check. But never do you get the feeling that Golczewski is heavy-handed in his approach to composing. It’s not weird whizzing and buzzing for the sake of making futuristic noises or doomed drone. You can tell he’s worked in film for awhile as each piece has a purpose. “Find Me” is reminiscent of Le Matos’ work on the Turbo Kid S/T; there’s a vastness in the track that also has an undertone of, strangely enough, hope. To me it sounds like a modern take of Le Parc-era Tangerine Dream. A populist take on the heady sci-fi sounds of the 70s. “Being Human” carries the weight of the title. It feels like the robot attempting to understand the meaning of mortality…or something like that. There’s elements of so many great electronic composers here, yet Wojciech Golczewski puts them all through his own unique creativity and point of view that it becomes something wholly original. “Reality Check” is barely two minutes, but within it he creates this almost hallucinogenic feeling, as if you’re listening as a black hole is devouring you.

Here’s the description of Reality Check, courtesy of Golczewski’s Bandcamp page:

Reality Check is a concept album compiled of material composed and inspired by Wojciechs various work for the motion pictures. It can be described as a horror sci fi soundtrack with influences from his previous demoscene and chiptune heritage together with more recent synthwave and electronica.

But don’t just listen to my blubbering, you should head over and check the album out for yourself. It’s another stunning piece of synthesizer/electronic work from someone you’ll be hearing more of. At least from me for sure(working on an interview with Mr. Golczewski himself. Look for it in the next few weeks.) While you’re over at his Bandcamp page, you should check out “Tonight She Comes”. It’s a 7″ he did for another indie horror film. Two great synth pieces. Missed out on that 7″. It sold out pretty fast. But it’s alive and well in digital form. Check it!

So yet another incredible instrumental album I’ve picked up this year. If this sort of thing tickles your fancy pick it up. And if you haven’t yet seen it, watch We Are Still Here. Well worth your time, friends.



Walk On The Mild Side : Pictures From An Afternoon

Occasionally I like to get lost in my head and walk the sordid streets of Warsaw. Neighborhoods bleed into nature and nature bleeds into city blocks. It’s not much , but it’s comforting to know that I can still walk the city I call home and see what still resembles small town life. Yesterday, with not enough time to hit the gym I put shoes to pavement and walked through neighborhoods, wetlands, city parks, grazed a lake, and back again all before I had to pick up my son from school. I may have gone a little too far out on that walk and had to truck it back to my van in order to pick up my son on time. I said “may have”. SURVIVE’s RR7349 was my soundtrack for this stroll. And yes, I prefer black and white to color.

At least yesterday I did.

Food truck


Parks Dept
Beyer Trail
Beyer trail
Beyer Trail Lookout
Beyer Trail Lookout
Pike Lake Peak
Pike Lake Peak

Sounds of the Seethin’

I think it’s come to that point in my record-buying life that I need to look back and reflect a bit. This isn’t just a mere hobby to pass the time. This isn’t a phase I’m going through. Music has always been a part of my life, ever since my first music purchase back in 1984 with Ratt’s Out of the Cellar on cassette. Even before that, really. Spinning KISS records on my red, white, and blue-striped Fisher Price at 5 years old was maybe the point where music became an obsession for me. I’ve always needed a soundtrack to my days. There was always a couple of acoustic guitars at family get-togethers, and I can remember finding a beat up Tele in my uncle’s attic and picking it up and having this jolt of electricity go through me(it wasn’t plugged in, btw.) No, music has never been a sideline for me. It’s always been there, and that has continued well into my middle age years.

With my soundtrack collection growing ever so rapidly thanks to the voodoo spell those fine voodoo priests and priestesses over at Mondotees and Death Waltz have put on me I see no reason not to talk about my favorite soundtrack albums. With us being well into October I thought I’d talk about a few of my favorite horror soundtracks because…well, tis the seethin’.

House By The Cemetery by Walter Rizzati

houseIf this was going to be one of those lists that was numbered from 1 to 10, then House By The Cemetery would be in the top 5. Even as a kid this S/T always stuck in my head. There’s a baroque quality to the music that stays with you(as it did with me for over 25 years.) Regardless of how badly dubbed the dialogue was or how dated the effects can be, the one thing that remains steadfast in Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy was the music. You can throw this album on late at night and get that cold, eerie vibe running through the house.

For me, I instantly go back to when I first saw House By The Cemetery. Sitting in my parents living room on a oddly cool summer night I sat motionless on the couch and watched this grainy, sordid Italian horror film. Despite the gore and the relative cheesiness of what I was seeing on that old Betamax copy of the film, I was struck by the sad beauty in Rizzati’s score. A mix of piano, synth, and what kind of sounded harpsichord, the music masked a b-movie in a shroud of quality chamber music. There was a couple dated disco-ish spots on the score, but that’s to be expected when you’re wanting to add a touch of “modern” sound to a film. It’s not that bothersome, really. Overall, Fulci was smart enough to hire the right guys to turn his sordid Italian gore features into something more by way of a hell of a soundtrack.

Excavation by The Haxan Cloak

haxanThe Haxan Cloak’s Excavation is not a horror soundtrack but it should be. It sounds like cold, dead air escaping a dilapidated, rotting domicile. It creaks and beats like a black heart pumping foul dreck through the body of the undead. It’s the sound of synthetic blood running through a metallic death machine. Electronic music for the end of the world. Bobby Krlic’s musical world is a dark one. One that could easily score a night of demonic delights, or a walk through skull-lined catacombs. Excavation is an intense musical vision. If you want something to play for a late night tryst with a Succubus or Incubus, look no further than this 2013 record.

Phantasm by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave

phantasmDon Coscarelli’s Phantasm has to be one of the most bizarre horror films I remember seeing as a kid. Staying up late one night with my dad watching it till nearly 1am when it played as the late late show on WSBT channel 22, I can remember thinking it all just felt so dream-like. It was also really creepy, thanks to the estute scoring work of Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave. The electric piano work mixed with the nightmare sounds of synth and organ really went far to make the film’s hallucinatory vibe go the distance. The film was made in 1979, so the score can be dated at times. But if you’re like me, then you know this music is never out of fashion. The electric piano holds a very nostalgic place for me, and it’s used very well here. Plus, there’s some honestly eerie passages here that will make your Halloween season all the better.

The Fog by John Carpenter

fogIf there is a legitimate horror soundtrack masterpiece then I think Carpenter’s The Fog could be it. The mood, vibe, and overall frigid fear of the film wouldn’t be nearly as effective if it weren’t for this masterful score. The piano motif shadowed by the synth; the heavy, looming bass notes; the distant electronic moans and baroque feel are immediate and never let go. The film is a masterpiece itself, but no other piece of cinematic music has ever felt so right in a film as this. John Carpenter was the real deal filmmaker. He had an overall vision in his films and music was one of the key elements.

As a side note, about two weeks ago my wife and I along with our two younger children were on our way back from going to see our oldest perform in her first band concert of the year. We were about 10 miles from home when we ran into some seriously dense fog, just after sundown. The fog bellowed over the valleys in the recently harvested cornfields we drove through. In typical fashion, I knew what needed to soundtrack this last stretch of road home so I grabbed my iPod and brought up John Carpenter’s “The Fog Theme” from his recently released single series from Sacred Bones. It was magnificent, and I got a good chuckle out of the wife.

It Follows by Disasterpeace

followsLast year’s It Follows was one of the most dividing film experiences in recent horror cinema history. You had one group saying it was one of the best horror films of the year while the other group said it was terrible. Most of the folks that said it was terrible were hardcore horror fans that found the film boring, confusing, and not the least bit scary. The folks that loved the movie considered it to be just as much an arthouse film as anything. They also saw a heavy David Lynch presence. For me, I didn’t think it was the best horror film of the year, mainly because I didn’t consider it a horror film. To me it was more like a psychological thriller. A f****d up coming-of-age story that was equal parts Halloween, Blue Velvet, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. If you were looking for solid narrative, obvious antagonists, and an ending that wrapped everything up you were doomed from the start. What you got was a noir-ish hallucination of a film. Solid acting, dream-like mood, and a score that hit it out of the ballpark. Rich Vreeland, aka Disasterpeace, is known for creating some pretty iconic video game scores. He mainly deals in indie games and in the chiptune variety of music. With It Follows he creates a moody set of pieces that bring Carpenter to mind, as well as many other 70s horror films. In my opinion, Disasterpeace has created a modern classic with the It Follows S/T.

The House Of The Devil by Jeff Grace

devilOne of my favorite horror films of the last 10 years was Ti West’s The House Of The Devil. There were so many tips of the hat to guys like Polanski, Hitchcock, Friedkin, and even some lesser guys that put out solid horror in the early 80s. West made a modern film look like it came out in 1981, and if you’d come across it late one night you’d think you’d found some lost classic. Jeff Grace’s score is restrained, eloquent, and utterly horrifying. He takes a more classic approach, putting the electronics aside and going for more of a chamber music feel. Piano and strings take up the bulk of this one(with the exception of the opening track being a rock instrumental that feels like it was born from an all night binge on The Cars’ “Moving In Stereo”.) The score stays peaceful with an undertone of dread, which if you’ve seen the film would know that’s the genius of Ti West’s ode to “things that go bump in the night”. This one is a brilliant late night listen, and will surely curdle the blood at just the right moments.

Maniac by Rob

maniacThink what you will of the film, but Maniac was a truly disturbing experience. The remake was prettied up and given a modern lean, taking away that late 70s street trash look of the original by William Lustig. Going from New York to Los Angeles Franck Khalfoun’s version of Maniac is a different beast altogether but seedy and disturbing nonetheless. I think the most riveting thing about the film was actually the score. Film composer Rob avoided the usual tropes of horror and stylized films by not filling the film with flashy tracks of disco and techno-heavy music. Instead he made a soundtrack that was overwhelmingly melancholy. Heavy synth score that, in my mind, reflects the serious illness and overall malaise of the lead character and psycho Frank Zito.

The movie overall is trashy(especially the original), but don’t ignore this soundtrack. It’s stunning, original, and something that can be enjoyed out of the context of the film.

So these are my desert island horror soundtracks. If I was stuck on some sandy patch in the middle of some Godforsaken stretch of blue these would be the records I’d have to have to play on my turntable made of coconut shells, bamboo, and hollowed out logs. These records, to me, define generations of music composers and their unique approach to scoring the movies that made us all look under our beds and check our closets before the light went out in our bedrooms. There are so many good horror scores out there, but these have been staples in my record listening diet. I hope you look into a few of them and see for yourself.

What? You want more? Well, then consider this part one. I’ll get started on part two immediately.

Bring Out Your Dead…

So over the weekend I was thrilled to see that Amazon Prime had Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 available for streaming. Of course I had to watch it and my son was equally as excited to watch it as well. I’ve been gearing him up for these Fulci films for a few years now, ever since I started collecting the soundtracks on vinyl thanks to Death Waltz/Mondo and my severe record buying affliction. We watched Fulci’s The Beyond on ‘Black Friday’ of all days last year. My memory didn’t serve me correctly on that one, as what I remembered to be a classic in the genre was really kind of a turd. There was some great cinematography and the music was outstanding, but it seemed to just be a garbled mess of bizarre story line and effects that were extremely dated. The Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge looked far more “fresh” than The Beyond. So,  I thought Zombi 2 would be a chance for Fulci to redeem himself in my eyes and my son’s. Five minutes in and I realized this wasn’t going to happen. Two New York harbor cops come up on a stranded boat in New York Harbor; one cop’s voice matches his lip movement while the other does not. This seems to be the case throughout the whole movie. The “acting” wasn’t horrible and the story was at least somewhat understandable, but overall it just didn’t hold up to my memory unfortunately. My son was waking me up whenever something was going to happen.

Zombi 2 was kind of a bust, but there’s still a touch of bizarre Italian magic there. Fulci always seemed to tow the line between exploitation and Fellini. He seemed to have grand ideas and a widescreen scope, but it never really came to fruition due to lack of funds to fully commit. He ended up making a name for himself as the Italian master of exploitative gore. Dario Argento was also a master of gore, but he fell more into the art camp as opposed to the woman-hating, misogynistic gutter camp Fulci ended up in. I’m refraining from watching House By The Cemetery and City of the Living Dead, as I don’t want to completely destroy those horror cinema memories from my youth. Someday I’ll go back to those. Just not right now.

14628081_1114520488655196_1490173642_nThis whole zombie kick started off because last week I began getting caught back up on Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. I started reading TWD back in late 2010, around the time the first season of the AMC show started. Everyone was talking about how great the show was, but I wanted to go the source before I started watching the TV version. I ended up going through the first 12 trades pretty quickly but then the zombie fever sweeping the nation left me and I felt I was done with the books. I stayed caught up on the show because, well, I didn’t want to be left out of the discussions and what not. I’d grown an attachment to the TV versions of Carol, Michonne, Rick, Carl, Rosita, Abraham, and Eugene and felt invested in the show. After last season’s finale and the introduction to one of the book series’ most reviled antagonists Negan, I knew I wanted to revisit the books and get up to speed on the story. Sure, the show veers off from the books and their narratives, story arcs, and character developments/demises, but knowing the books helps to give you a guide as to where the show may go next(it also allows you to feel superior to those that don’t read the books and feel like you’re one up on them.)

So over the weekend I read the entire The Walking Dead : Compendium Three, which collects books 97 through 144. There’s only two other trades out now, so when I read those I’ll be caught up. I have to say, I’m surprised by how easy it was to jump back into that world. I have always enjoyed The Walking Dead, but diving into the world of the zombie invasion and the Rick Grimes crew I realized how little the zombies have to do with the stories. The zombie take over was merely the tool by which you get to see how truly evil the living can become. You do get to see how the strong and capable take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. You see the perseverance of strangers coming together and what lengths people will go to in order to protect their loved ones. But what’s even more striking than the good, is the evil. You see characters like The Governor, Negan, The Whisperers, the cretinous goons that Rick, Abraham, and Carl came across on the deserted post-apocalyptic highway and nearly slaughtered them like animals; sadly I think that’s where most of the reality lies in the story. We’re seeing some of this right now in this current presidential campaign. All across America hordes of what were at one point regular human beings living their lives and occasionally spouting something maybe inappropriate are now all-in and backing a misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, hate-mongering, bully ignoramus billionaire(?). They’re blindly following this turd in a suit and bad hair because he’s “gonna make America great again”, and that he’s gonna “build a wall” and that he’ll keep America safe from ISIS and Syrian refugees and Mexican drug dealers and rapists who are coming over the border and stealing our jobs. Sight unseen, they’re following his hate speech. Out of fear, like most of the followers of the Governor or Negan? No, they’re following because Trump is saying all those horrible things that his followers really want to say. They’re willfully and gleefully backing this guy, even after the “locker room talk” audio that was released last Friday.

14627910_1114520471988531_1051177666_nI don’t know how anybody in their right mind would back this guy, zombie apocalypse or not. In the world of zombies, I could see Trump more like Dennis Hopper in Romero’s Land of the Dead as opposed to some villainous leader Robert Kirkman created. Hopper, if you’re not familiar with Land of the Dead, ran a ritzy skyscraper where all the rich and wealthy stayed after the zombies took over. It was walled off and you had to buy your way in to live there. While the rest of the world traveled in armored vehicles and carried machine guns, the rich stayed comfortable smoking their fine Cuban cigars and drinking single malt scotch. You see? The zombies are more or less hungry observers while the living go in being evil.

Anyways, it was great getting caught up with The Walking Dead. I look forward to keeping up with it. And sorry for the whole Walking Dead/Election correlation. It just seemed to damn related not to bring it up. And if you haven’t seen George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, you really should. It’s a classic in the series.


GOAT : Requiem

Listening to GOAT’s new epic album Requiem one gets the feeling of coming across some strange, acid-drenched dance party in the Shire. Big-footed hobbits drinkinggoat-requiem-3600 goblets of homemade rastleberry wine as they succumb to the psilocybin-fueled hallucinations as the sounds of GOAT echo through Middle Earth. Requiem could also pass for the soundtrack to a new Wes Anderson movie at times; playful and giddy enough to coat an Anderson scene with just enough punch and chutzpah as to give the oddball protagonist some serious cool(think the bee scene in Rushmore scored by “A Quick One, While He’s Away”.) GOAT have already established themselves as expert purveyors of psych/folk rock on their first two records. But here they’ve doubled down by giving us a double album teeming with the pastoral and the acid-burnt; pop confections and spectral psych. These masked Swedish psych freaks have laid out the map to enlightenment here. We best be getting on our way.

GOAT have never shied away from getting lost in the groove on their previous efforts, 2012s World Music and 2014s CommuneRequiem proves to be no different, and that’s a very good thing. The heavy acoustic mix here grounds these songs firmly into an organic world. No space explorations or intergalactic mind melting here. All the otherworldly music is retained in nature; the wet earth, loping trees, and dew-covered valleys come to mind on tracks like “Union of Sun and Moon” “I Sing In Silence” and “Temple Rhythms”; while “Alarms” gets a little noisy with some Hendrix-style guitar freakouts. “Trouble in the Streets” is exuberantly fun and dance-y. It’s like Bjork singing along to Rusted Root in her car on the way to pick up her kids. Thing is, the same person that would stick their nose up to GOAT would also be the same person sitting in front of their computer drunk at 11:30 pm on a Saturday night playing Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” on Youtube and singing along off key(just an observation.) Anyways, back to the album.

I think the most important thing to point out here is how groove and rhythm-heavy this album is. “Goatband”, is nearly 8 minutes of serious heavy groove. It sounds like the E-Street band on some serious Afro-Cuban kick. “Try My Robe” is almost funky. Heavy bass, fuzzy guitar, with an eastern flair gives this track it’s own little groovy world. “Goatfuzz” is just a massive jam. A glorious, heavy jam. “Goodbye” would seem to be a perfect note to end the album on as it feels like a proper, awe-inspiring sunset on this perfect day of an album, but “Ubuntu” is the actual album closer and it feels like waking from a dream.

GOAT has spun a massive web of musical vibes on Requiem. It’s over an hour of mystical vibes and psychedelic colors and shapes. These masked musical marauders continue to enlighten and hypnotize with their earthy brand of jangly, earthbound psych and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

7. 8 out of 10