Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2013 January 28 • Monday

Happy birthday! (You know who you are.)

The 254th Soundtrack of the Week is Basil Kirchin's music for Primitive London, presented on a CD with his score for The Freelance.

The first track has a really fast jazz feel and an urgency to the rhythm, while an otherworldly melody, somewhat similar both to David Raksin's "Laura" and Bernard Herrmann's theme for Taxi Driver, soars above it. What instrument is it? Sounds like an electronic saw. It has a space-age bachelor-pad feel to it.

The same theme gets an ethereal and bluesy treatment in the next track, with some kind of keyboard and trumpet handling the melody while vibes create a shimmering atmosphere.

A swing version of the same theme comes next, a really nice arrangement with some nice trumpet blowing. It picks up the pace a bit for an Afro-Cuban ending.

The next track departs from the theme to present some haunting textural music, the first half dominated by low organ tones, the second by weird looping electronic sounds. An eerie melody plays over it.

A high-pitched drone and funereal percussion introduce the next track, another textural and atmospheric piece. After this comes another weird piece that sounds like electric bagpipes or something. It's actually probably just electronic keyboard drones and whatever instrument—probably some kind of synthesizer that played the theme in the first track.

The next piece is the first of four tracks for The Freelance. It's a short suite, beginning with a pastoral feel introduced by flute before a burst of drums, bass and trumpet disrupt it. Then there's the main theme, presented in a kind of a loungy funk section, then more percussion, bass and trumpet in a free-jazz section. This in turn is replaced by a jazzy but meditative section again featuring the trumpet.

Cello starts the next section, which reprises the loungy theme. It starts it, stops it almost immediately, then starts it again much faster. Then it goes into a avant-jazz combo bit that's really good before returning finally to the slightly cheesy sound of the theme.

The third track is almost ten minutes long and starts slowly, with a keyboard drone and trumpet emerging with a slow version of the theme. The main theme is restated, as you would expect. Then there's a kind of avantgarde jazz section, that like the bit in the last piece wouldn't have been out of place at the Knitting Factory circa 1990. Then things get meditative and almost ECM-like after that.

The last piece wraps things up with a piece that's almost eight minutes long, and begins with more of the feel that ended the last piece, restates the theme, and then goes into a different groove, almost like a Julius Hemphill sort of thing. The theme returns, as does the flute. Then we're back in the kind of Las Vegas treatment of the theme. Then there's more avant-type stuff, the strongest of the recurring elements here, which bleeds into trumpets soloing against a cloudy percussion background. It's Vegas time once more for the very end.