Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2021 December 13 • Monday

I always thought Last Mouse on the Left would be a good title for an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon. Also Mouse by the Cemetery.

But anyway, David Alexander Hess’s music for Last House on the Left, technically a remake of an Ingmar Bergman movie, is our 704th Soundtrack of the Week.

For the “Intro & Opening Credits” you hear some dialogue from the movie (“Piss your pants”) and then a groovy psych folk rock song very briefly (“And the road leads to nowhere / And the castle stays the same / And the father tells the mother / ‘Wait for the rain’”).

Then there’s a weird electric bass and electric guitar duet for “Little Cows Looking for Some Grass”, kind of free improvy, with the bass mostly making low rounded noises and the guitar sharper, higher sounds.

“Wait for the Rain” is the song we got a taste of in the opening credits, with different lyrics. It’s followed by the “Baddies Theme”, a short instrumental cue that’s in the slapstick merriment children’s programming zone.

A somewhat similar feeling is explored in “Man’s Birthday Surprise”, which also revisits the “Little Cows” musical idea.

Flute kicks off “Water Music - Sadie and Krug”, which also has percussion, strings, electric bass and guitar, sort of pastoral folk country rock with, unexpectedly, a kazoo coming in with a carnival sort of feel. Eventually a singer also shows up to sing about Sadie and Krug. This might be diegetic or somehow a meta moment as the song seems to be about what’s actually happening in the movie.

A synth bomb announces “Phyllis Spills Her Guts”, which is mostly some weird sounds and a fair amount of space, plus some birds, wind and more descending siren-like tones plus some random electronic blurts.

Delicately plucked acoustic guitar introduced “Now You’re All Alone”, whose title is quickly sung by a male vocalist who goes on to add “Feeling that nobody wants you / And you’re looking for someone to hold your hand / Someone who’ll understand”. Piano adds a lot to the song, with bass guitar being the only other instrument. It has a surprise at the end, though, a gunshot and some birds.

Which makes a decent segue into the sounds of chickens that kick off “Ada’s Chickens”, a short cue that also reprises “Baddies Theme”.

“The Chase” begins as a gently groovy, low key acid rock instrumental but then becomes a percussion ensemble showcase, with timpani and triangle joining hand percussion instruments and some other mysterious noisemakers.

Then we’re getting groovy hippy again with the gentle sunshine folk rock of “Daddy, Put Your Coat of Many Colors On” which, surprisingly, doesn’t have lyrics, leaving the melody to the flautists.

Things get slinky and groovy with the intriguingly titled “Mayhem Montage”, which has acid guitar soloing in the first minute before everything switches unexpectedly to arhythmic synth weirdness. It wraps things up by having the synth play some kind of demented clown melody.

For “Ice Cream Song” there’s almost a John Fogerty feel to the groove, but it’s mostly acoustic with singers just going “La la la la la la”.

If you were wondering when some kind of organ was going to join this all over the place acid psych folk rock pastoral hippy groove free improv synth percussion combo, then the answer is now, in “Urban Snatch”, which has another impressive groove and features both organ and hand percussion.

At first there’s more quiet than sound in “Blow Your Brains Out”, but then we get back to the “Wait for the Rain” song, plus more dialogue from the movie.

As far as evocative titles go, “Etude for Chainsaw — Goodbye, Dick” is way up there. It’s mostly weird electronic sounds, pretty demented.

Things are somber at first for “Aftermath & End Credits, with some slow, low tones, but then it jumps back to the Sadie & Krug song with different lyrics.

Then some bonus tracks: a vocal version of “Daddy, Put Your Coat of Many Colors On”, a ballad with a gospel sound (thanks to the organ) called “New York Times”, a lush hippy folk rock song called “Promised Land” and a long blending of “The Road Leads to Nowhere” and “Wait for the Rain” with a sophisticated arrangement and a lush, colorful, deep sound.