Morality doesn’t exist. Only morale. -Hannibal Lecter
Really nothing better than hearing these words when you walk in the door straight off of a day’s work, “Hey. You got a record in the mail.” Man, it’s like Christmas at some random time during the year. There’s a brown cardboard square with something very wonderful inside. Musical goodness straight from the USPS to my grubby hands.
Warms the heart and cockles.
So what record hit the front stoop today you ask? Well, Mondo’s deliciously packaged issue of Brian Reitzell’s Hannibal S/T, that’s what. They took 20 of season one and two’s musical cues and put them on two 180 gram “steak tartare”-colored vinyl in a double gatefold sleeve with amazing original artwork by Phantom City Creative. Seriously, this is probably one of the classiest pieces of vinyl I own. Bloody brilliant(no pun intended.)
So are you familiar with the show Hannibal? If you’re not I’ll throw some half ass information your way. Of course the show is based on the Thomas Harris books about Hannibal Lecter and all the hillarious adventures he gets himself into. Specifically, the show is based on the first book in the series, Red Dragon. I have read all of Harris’ Hannibal books and have loved them all. I do hold a special place in my black heart for Red Dragon. I remember being a nosy kid and seeing that book coming home with my dad everyday from work for a couple weeks as he was reading it. He never talked about it, but the cover always intrigued me. By the time I was a junior in high school the Jonathan Demme screen adaptation of Harris’ Red Dragon sequel The Silence of the Lambs was out in theaters and I had seen it three times at the cinema. All my dad had said about it was that Hannibal cuts a guy’s face off. That’s all my gore-crazed self needed to hear. Fortunately the movie was so much more than gore. My love for Demme as a filmmaker was born from that film, as well as my love for Anthony Hopkins. Of course my interest in the books was peaked as well, but it took a few years before I ended up delving in to them. Once I did I was hooked.
Red Dragon’s story line intrigued me. The investigator searching for a serial killer, seeking help from the psychopath that nearly killed him years ago when that psychopath was caught. It was all great reading, and I loved the books that followed. I even quite liked most of the film adaptations. But none ever truly captured the creepiness and poetic language that Thomas Harris had written. That’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to film adaptations of well-loved novels, right?
So imagine my great skepticism when I heard there was going to be a television show based on Harris’ Red Dragon that would show the relationship between investigator Will Graham and psychiatrist/psychotic cannibal Hannibal Lecter. A prequel to Red Dragon, if you will. It seemed like a bad idea all around. But then I watched the show. And I was blown away.
Hannibal is a beast unto itself. It’s not trying to follow the books. Rather, it’s a re-imagining of the books, characters, and things that happened. It’s central story is the relationship between Dr. Lecter and investigator Will Graham, and it’s absolutely fascinating. Show creator and runner Bryan Fuller has created a whole new and disturbing world where these characters we’ve read about and seen in film adaptations before can live and breathe in a whole new light.
Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham is gifted, broken, and borderline psychotic himself. There’s hints of even Asperger’s going on in him. He looks to Dr. Lecter not only as a colleague, but as a friend and someone he can rely on and relate to.
Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter is like a wolf in a $1000 suit. He’s sly, intelligent, charming, engaging, and has a witty quip for every sentence spoken to him. He can also turn into the Devil at any time, snap a neck, sever an artery, and beat an opponent into submission, all while not even breaking a sweat. He wears his “person suit” well, but can move much more freely without it. His Hannibal Lecter, at first, seems less funny and more serious than Sir Anthony Hopkins’ genius portrayal. But when Mikkelsen gets to shed Hannibal’s “person suit”, all bets are off(as proven with season three’s premiere episode.)
Okay, I feel as if I’m rambling. All you need to know is that Hannibal is one of best made and well written shows on network television right now, if not all of television. It’s beautifully shot. Each shot could be a wonderfully painted Gothic portrait. The folks in charge of art direction are quite genius. I imagine showrunner Bryan Fuller has a lot to do with that. The dishes Hannibal makes with his victims look like pieces of art themselves. Who knew the human liver could look so good? The writing is intellectual while also being quite visceral. The banter between the characters is to the point, while also being quite poetic.
But we’re here because of the music, folks. Brian Reitzell’s score to this show is second to none. A mix of incidental and score, it helps to define the show. Strings screeching like fingernails down a chalkboard, humming synths cascade against orchestrated anxiety, and percussion that feels like the drums of war upon us. A war inside the mind of a psychopath, or a psychopath-in-training. Reitzell is just as big a part of the show as Mikkelesen and Dancy. The music is a character that should have equal star billing.
Brian Reitzell has an interesting background himself. He started out as a drummer for the punk/power pop band Redd Kross in the 80s and early 90s. He’s also scored several films, including Friday Night Lights, Marie Antoinette, Stranger Than Fiction, 30 Days of Night, and Thumbsucker. He, along with My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields won a BAFTA award for their work on the soundtrack to Lost In Translation. Reitzell also made an album called Logan’s Sanctuary with Roger Joseph Manning of Jellyfish. It was an imagined soundtrack to a non-existent sequel to Logan’s Run. He’s also in a band called TV Eyes with Manning and multi-instrumentalist Jason Falkner.
So he knows a thing or two about a thing or two.
Anyways, all of this just to tell you that I’m quite smitten with this album. Mondo is one of the coolest places putting out soundtracks on vinyl. The combination of the beautifully pressed vinyl and the painted artwork is enough to make a vinyl geek geek out even more. Every vinyl pressing I’ve gotten from Mondo is exquisite. They completely went above and beyond with Hannibal.
If you haven’t watched Hannibal, you must. And if you’re any kind of music aficionado, you need to look into getting this beautiful S/T. Play it on a stormy evening, you’ll thank me.*
*As I typed this up, I had the score spinning and a nasty mess of weather came rolling in. The howls outside were indiscernible from the ones inside. It was quite wonderful.