“Oh, so you say you’ve got a compilation LP of mostly bands that I’ve never heard of performing moody, heavily synthesized tracks that form an imagined soundtrack to a movie that never existed? Here’s my money. Thanks.” -J. Hubner
That may not have been what I said verbatim when I saw the Foreign Sounds post a couple months ago regarding the SNDTRK compilation LP they were selling in very limited quantities, but it might as well have been. At 5am drinking my first morning cup, reading the news online, and stalking everyone else’s evenings the night before on social media I saw a post by record label Foreign Sounds(home of Slasher Film Festival Strategy) about a compilation they were a part of coming out on Australian record label Disco Cinematic Recordings, of which Foreign Sounds was getting a very limited quantity to sell through their shop. Of course when I read the words “limited quantity” I usually break out into a warm, sickly sweat and my stomach gets tight and achy and I start repeating my Paypal password in my head like a bizarre mantra. “I can’t wait on this. It’ll sell out if I turn my head away.” Yeah, I know I have a problem, but my problem is better than the guy that can’t pass a Jaguar dealership without serious thoughts of leaving his wife and emptying the kid’s college fund for four wheels in hunter green.
Or that guy smoking crack in the bathroom stall of a rundown Rally’s.
No, my problem is that I just love the obscure and beautiful. That’s what SNDTRK is; obscure and beautiful. It compiles a bunch of artists(with the exception of Slasher Film Festival Strategy and Vi Res) that to this point I haven’t heard of and they offer up some seriously moody and dreamy tracks that would’ve felt right at home on a Fulci, Argento, Bava, or Cronenberg joint. They’re all pretty much masters of the heavy synth and soundtrack world, whether they’ve had the chance to actually contribute to a soundtrack or not, this record is one hell of a resume.
So Wolfmen Of Mars opens things with the jaunty and fun “Technicolor Road”. This track is not what you’d imagine opening a synth-heavy compilation, but as far as movie scores go this one is perfect. I could totally see this opening some quirky, desolate road movie about some friends that venture off into the desert only to run into a band of mutated mountain men hell bent on killing the pals and drinking their cheap beer. The song sounds like a cross between Goblin and NRBQ, which let me tell you is quite the thing. Hitting up their Bandcamp these Boston natives have a knack for animated music. Their album covers are all colorfully animated affairs and shows they have a sense of humor to go with their musical chops.
Bryce Miller is up next and his song “Retribution” fits the bill nicely in terms of moody sci fi music. It seems this cat wears many musical hats, delving into electronic music is only one of them. He’s a film composer and a classical musician as well. Miller seems pretty adept at the electronic side of things. Seeing him mix the orchestrated with the manipulated would be the next logical step, I think anyways.
Slasher Film Festival Strategy don’t disappoint. Ever. Christopher Ashley has been at this game for nearly 20 years(longer if you count his hardcore bands) and it shows on his exquisite “Tokyo, 1981”. You can almost see a slow film shot over the brightly lit Tokyo at night as this killer track plays. Solid tune.
The Slow Engineer is a UK artist that dabbles in low key synth/techno. “The 2nd Pax Generator” feels like an old school techno track with its percussive feel and industrial-lite sound. It puts me in mind of another UK electronic artist, Pentagram Home Video. Fun track and someone worth digging into further.
This next one is interesting. Gavino Morretti is supposedly an Italian film score composer born in 1953 that created the score to the much maligned Italian horror film Assault of the Living Dead(1982), written and directed by Sergio Bortolotti. Apparently this film did dismally and sunk into obscurity but Morretti flourished in film work. Whether this is just BS or not, the background story does much to make his piece, “The Living Dead”, feel more like some ancient cinematic synth relic which is pretty cool. Morretti was apparently in a Italian prog rock band called Esplodere Cappelli, too. Devil’s in the details my friends.
Mythical Vigilante is all icy 80s synths. Imagine Com Truise with a lighter touch and you may have an idea of what is going on with “Receiving Psychic Messages”. I plan on looking into Seattle, Washington’s Mythical Vigilante a little more for sure.
Side two opens up with Xander Harris’ “Yellow Wallpaper”, a dark and looming piece that feels like Antoni Maovvi and Umberto’s Law Unit project, with a touch of German flair in there for good measure. Very cool stuff.
Vi-Res never disappoints, and “Bow” continues his trend of high quality heavy synth workouts.
Scott Johannsson is not only the design guy in charge of the incredible album art but he also contributed “Opening Titles/Chase Theme” a John Carpenter-esque driving piece that feels like a walk into some post-apocalyptic world.
Repeated Viewing gives us “Randy Loves Judy”, a light on its feet number that exudes a brisk but sunny walk through sidewalked neighborhoods as lovers walk hand in hand. It’s really a perfect number.
20 Six Hundred and their “The Witching” is a great, driving track that sounds like the baby of 80s Tangerine Dream and Giorgio Moroder. Imagine the Airwolf theme with a little more dread thrown in.
Albatross Wirehead closes the compilation out with some weirdness. “Basement” sounds like a descent into madness. Swirling nausea like incidental music you would’ve heard on an episode of The Twilight Zone. I couldn’t think of a better way to end this collection on.
So yeah, I’m susceptible to selling tactics like “Act now, or you may miss out on something great!” Fortunately most of the time I actually would miss out on something great. SNDTRK is one 5am impulse buy I’ll never regret. If you can locate a copy, grab it…before it’s too late!