Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2015 February 27 • Friday

It seems that anytime somebody discovers the appearance of the name "Lolita" in a time and place that could have been shared by a pre-Lolita Vladimir Nabokov, that somebody will alert the world to this newly discovered "origin" of Lolita.

It's never persuasive. But it's only a matter of time before somebody notices this poster in the background of this French movie Le dernier des six from 1941—Nabokov might have seen it!—and starts howling about it.

2015 February 25 • Wednesday

Closed Circle is the only Robert Goddard book I've read but I look forward to reading another one before too long.

The first half is really fantastic. It's 1931 and a pair of con men are retreating to England after the collapse of a financial scheme in the United States.

Always looking for the next payday, Max and Guy are pleased to meet a young, rich, unmarried heiress on board. They've done this sort of thing before: romance, engagement, then accept cash from the disgusted father in exchange for deserting the lady in question.

Things go differently this time. The first disaster is actual love, something Max and Guy always regarded as a superstition or urban legend. But then comes murder and the gradual discovery of a secret society that has already literally caused the deaths of millions to increase its own wealth and power.

Once the conspiracy thing is on the table, the action slows down a bit and the characters become less compelling, possible because they seem less able to accomplish much of anything. The resolution is a bit longer in coming than I would have liked.

But this is a realtively minor complaint for such an entertaining book, reminiscent of Eric Ambler and Alfred Hitchcock.

The first line is "Chance had been our ally too often".

2015 February 23 • Monday

The 359th Soundtrack of the Week is a very unusual one: the music for David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, co-composed by Howard Shore and Ornette Coleman.

As both an experiment and a listening experience, it's a solid success. Coleman's unmistakable alto playing flows through Shore's lush but subtle orchestral writing.

Among the surprises are the overlay of Coleman's "Simpatico" with Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso". There are also quotes from earlier Coleman works, such as his recordings with the Master Musicians of Jajouka.

The movie could have been better but the score is perfect.

2015 February 20 • Friday

Check out love hello, the new record by Matt Kanelos.

It's really great, especially tracks 6 and 7!
2015 February 18 • Wednesday

Is Airport (1970) the split-screen champion of the world?

What movie could surpass it?

2015 February 16 • Monday

The 358th Soundtrack of the Week is Jack Nitzsche's music for The Hot Spot.

I never saw this movie but I was very impressed with the Charles Williams novel that it's based on.

The music is great, all sultry, late-night bluesy stuff: electric guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, vocals.

There's not much to say about the individual cues. They're very spacious and atmopsheric. They tend to stay within a certain musical zone, not straying too far from certain chords and certain lines.

All you really need to know about it is the names of the musicians: John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Earl Palmer, Taj Mahal and a few other less famous people.

2015 February 09 • Monday

Ennio Morricone's music for Mauro Bolognini's L'assoluto naturale is the 357th Soundtrack of the Week.

Not unusually for Morricone, this is mostly a monothematic score. It's one of his most lyrical and soothing, however, with enough stylistic variety to make it great listening.

You get the theme in the expected lounge, jazz and "shake" versions, but also in some pensive, almost modern classical and atmospheric treatments.

In some ways it anticipates some of the famous cues Morricone would later write for Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America.

2015 February 02 • Monday

The 356th Soundtrack of the Week is Richard Einhorn's score for Shock Waves.

This is some really great electronic music. There wasn't a lot of money for Shock Waves but Einhorn, who was recommended for this job by Vladimir Ussachevsky, created a haunting, beautifully textured score using little more than a Mini-Korg, a Micro-Korg and a four-track tape recorder.

I don't hear much these days that sounds as cool or is as patient and interesting.

There's not much to say about the score. It's mostly eerily atmospheric, occasionally exploding into horror, as in the aptly named "The Deep End of Horror".

The movie itself is something of a classic: Peter Cushing, John Carradine and underwater Nazi zombies!