So I’m sitting in my recliner in my pajamas feeling a few steps above chopped liver and I’m listening to the soundtrack Jodorowsky’s Dune by Kurt Stenzel. How did I get to this record? What possessed me to order such a thing? Well first let me go down some Nyquil and I’ll explain. Be right back…..
Okay, so here’s the scoop. First of all, I’ve never seen an Alejandro Jodorowsky film in my life. I know my life won’t be complete until I see El Topo or Holy Mountain, but until then I’ll just have to make due by listening to a soundtrack to a documentary about Alejandro’s attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune to the big screen. That seems like a lot of “inspired by”, but if you stick around it’s worth it. This album is amazing.
Frank Pavich made a documentary that detailed Jodo’s attempt at making Dune, which was pretty much doomed from the start(his penned screenplay was the size of a phone book, and would’ve been a 14+hour movie.) Jodo had also spent $2 million of the $9.5 million budget just in pre-production. Needless to say, nobody wanted to back this project and it was ultimately left in the great “What if?” pile. Pavich felt this would be an interesting doc and contacted his longtime pal Kurt Stenzel to create some music for the film. Stenzel gathered up a list of analog noisemakers he’s had for years, both vintage and junky, and put together an amazing array of drone-y, mood-altering, and dreamy soundscapes that are on par with some of the best synth work I’ve heard in a long time. Part Lucifer Rising and part The Shining with a healthy dose of Klaus Schulze for good measure, the pieces on this double LP represent both the best of incidental and getting lost in the ether.
Stenzel said “Listening to Jodo’s narration -his voice is actually the main musical instrument on the soundtrack- was almost like hypnosis, like going to the guru every night. I was able to express a lot just by putting little nuances underneath his words and channeling whatever music I felt like doing, and Frank’s team edited it and got it to fit. It was a lucky and genuine collaboration, very heartfelt and easy.” You actually do hear that when listening to this record. It sounds like someone inspired; like someone creating off the high of artistic expression. Jodorowsky was ambitious(too much so, possibly), and that ambition seeps into these pieces you hear on Jodorowsky’s Dune.
I wasn’t aware of this documentary till I’d read an article about the soundtrack. The film was on Netflix, but by the time I’d gotten my lazy butt around to watch it, it was gone. I feel that this score is a great way to immerse myself into that world without seeing it. I do plan on seeing this doc, but I’m just not sure when. Maybe I need to look into grabbing it off of Amazon.
Sitting here now in my chair, with the world around me mildly whirling thanks to an extra large shot of Nyquil and Kurt Stenzel’s synthesizer score pulsating in the background I’m reminded of the magic of a good piece of music. Music that can grab you and take you to some other place. In order to do that, that music creator needs to be inspired; they need to feel what they’re committing to tape or digital. Without the spark of inspiration you end up with something cold and detached. Maybe interesting, but ultimately just flat and vacuous. I love what Kurt Stenzel has done here. He lists everything he used on this record in the album’s liner notes, and it’s quite a collection of gear. But the cool thing is that it’s not a who’s who of classic high end gear. Sure, there’s a few mouth-watering pieces of equipment, but a lot of it is secondhand stuff. A Concertmate from Radio Shack, a $40 Moog Source he bought off the street, a Casiotone, and it was all recorded to Audacity. Yep, Audacity.
So sure, this cold(and some sciatic nerve issues) may have me down. But there’s no better medicine than a great LP spinning on the TT.
And maybe some Nyquil, too.