The film Beyond The Black Rainbow(is it a film or just a movie?) was made back in 2010, yet I’d never heard of it until last summer when Jagjaguwar announced they were releasing the soundtrack to it on limited edition clear vinyl. What was that? Beyond The Black Rainbow? Wasn’t that a Wes Craven flick from back in the day, with that cat that was in Ruthless People? I had to look into this thing. Once I did I knew I needed to own this record.
The S/T was written and performed by Sinoia Caves, aka Jeremy Schmidt. He’s the keyboardist in the excellent Black Mountain. On their debut Schmidt was there but not very pronounced. On the album that proceeded it, In The Future, Schmidt made his presence known. Steeped in organ and spacey synths, that album pretty much defined Black Mountain as the quintessential 21st century purveyors of stoned, 70s progressive rock. When Schmidt is on his own as Sinoia Caves he gets lost in layers of analog synths and droning tones. It’s a beautiful thing. His first record as Sinoia Caves, The Enchanter Persuaded, is a thing of stoned, blissful beauty. All melancholy and spacey, it gave us an idea of what Schmidt could do as a guy alone in a room with a stack of synths. With Beyond The Black Rainbow he went all out. It’s filled with ominous voices -choirs of synth chords and overwhelming walls of saturated tones- that have both the feeling of doom and possible escape from said doom. “Forever Dilating Eye” pulses and moves like the careening new age crash it is. “Elena’s Sound World” is subtle and delicate, like the character in the film(movie) it’s named after. “Run Program: Sentionauts” sounds like Ken Hensley getting crazy with Uriah Heep, while “Arboria Tapes – Award Winning Gardens” is subtle and hazy. “1966 – Let The New Age Of Enlightenment Begin” is the tour de force here. It’s nearly 17 minutes of synths wavering in and out, fighting for attention. It’s like a hallucinogenic trip into some dark world. A synth symphony warming up out of key and nightmarish. It’s also during a pivotal scene in the film(movie.)
So about the film. No, it’s definitely a film. When I preordered the vinyl last summer it came with a DVD copy of the flick, so I got to watch it. For what it is, it’s pretty spectacular. Imagine some lost sci-fi epic from the early 80s directed by David Cronenberg that never made it out to prying eyes. Visually it’s stunning; colorful yet grainy, and scenes shot to perfection. You could make posters out of stills from this movie. What’s it about? It’s about this institution that did experiments regarding tapping the hidden potential in the human mind. Of course, there’s hallucinogenics involved, an ego-driven scientist, a patient with a gift, and a jealous protege that wants revenge for being slighted. It’s crazy, f****d up, and quite incredible. It captures the beauty and nostalgia of the sci fi b-movie to a tee. If you didn’t know it had been made in 2010 you’d swear you’d come across some lost early 80s sci fi gem.
But the real treat here is the soundtrack. Schmidt captures the mood of the movie perfectly. And the mark of a truly great S/T is one you can listen to and it holds up completely on its own. This one does that.
Well, I got a record to flip. Happy Friday.