Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2021 January 25 • Monday

It's time for an unusual oddball release. The 657th Soundtrack of the Week is Pot-Boilers: Ron Geesin Soundtracks to Stephen Dwoskin Films 1966 – 1970.

This is a recent release from Trunk Records, one of our favorite labels. Founder Jonny Trunk notes Geesin's activities in traditional jazz, electronic music experimentation, library music and various other fields not necessarily having to do with music. Geesin also worked with Pink Floyd.

The first piece, "Chinese Checkers", leans heavily on the banjo, though the instrument is not played in the ways with which most people are familiar. There are some other sounds that come and go and many of them are most likely created by tape manipulation. It's a spacious piece, relaxed, mesmerizing and with definite shapes and directions.

Next up is "Moment", which is entirely a throbbing and sustained electric sound, a gentle sort of noise, more or less one pitch, though there are some subtle variations in there.

Flip the record and you'll hear "Pot-Boiler" first, another banjo and tape recorder creation, building on what Geesin had discovered in the process of making "Chinese Checkers". Assuming, of course, that this is the chronology. Whatever the case, "Pot-Boiler" sounds more ambitious and more assured and also gets a lot of mileage out of a cymbalom or the inside of a piano or both.

"Alone" is a very minimalist and tenebrous cue, consisting of only one low note that gets struck (or somehow sounded), resonates and bends up slightly at the end of its duration. This is perhaps done with tape recorder. Perhaps the tape is also slowed done and/or otherwise altered to create either the low frequency or the bend or both. Either way it's agreeably hypnotic and probably worked well in its cinematic context.

Startlingly familiar piano playing is a shock to the ears when you leave "Alone" to enter "Feet". It's a bit silent movie-ish, a bit stride and all kind of frantic and slightly crazy sounding.