The Best New TV, Movie & Video Game Soundtracks On Vinyl
Great new records from screens both big and small.
Yep, it’s soundtrack time again!
You might remember that we’ve done a couple of these roundups already this year. You might not. Either is fine! There’s been a lot to get your head around in 2020 ...
Anyway, what we have here are the finest pressings of film, TV and computer game music that have landed in our stockroom over the past few months. Our net’s cast wide here. It doesn’t matter if the music was made for a Hollywood blockbuster, a cult Steam game or an idiosyncratic piece of video art - if it’s worth the moolah, it’s made it into this list.
Ennio Morricone - A Fistful of Dollars
There was only one place we could begin. Ennio Morricone, without question one of the western world’s most influential film music composers - hell, most influential composers period - passed away in July at the age of 91. Hugely decorated and rightly acclaimed throughout his long and distinguished career, Morricone’s influence on the world of film was so vast that it even changed how people thought about combining sound with the moving image. Prior to Morricone, composers were expected to fit their compositions to the on-screen action; after him, you started seeing this dynamic in reverse. Quentin Tarantino, for instance, would not make his films in the way he did without Ennio Morricone’s influence.
In the months before Morricone’s death several new vinyl editions of soundtracks from across his career were announced for release. We’ve gone with 1964’s ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’ in this list as it was the first score Morricone made for a Sergio Leone film, thus lifting the curtain on one of the most iconic artistic collaborations of the 20th Century. Really, however, we could have picked any of these new editions for inclusion here: the varied work he made for directors in his native Italy, collected on a couple of compilations; pressings of his stirring ‘Corleone’ and ‘Il Pentito’ OSTs; and of course more of the totemic Spaghetti Western scores he wrote for Leone’s flicks, often imitated but rarely matched.
The Dust Brothers - Fight Club (Original Motion Picture Score)
The ‘Fight Club’ soundtrack sounds *so* 90s. And you know what, that’s fine. It’s fine because the shadowy, paranoid breaks style that The Dust Brothers delivered for the film can still mix it with the best of DJ Shadow and The Avalanches, and it’s fine because, compared to the actual waking nightmare we find ourselves living through in 2020, the whole ooh-aren’t-governments-bad/hacker-wearing-shades/’what-if-aliens’ aesthetic which dominated popular culture at the time seems positively quaint.
Benjamin Wallfisch - The Invisible Man (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Occasional Hans Zimmer accomplice Benjamin Wallfisch did the music for ‘The Invisible Man’, which is that film where Elisabeth Moss is convinced that she’s being attacked by someone other people can’t see. It’s not a cheery subject, and it’s not a cheery score - we’d go with the term ‘terrifying’, actually. The sonic aesthetic Wallfisch lands on here is a nightmarish combo of warped Bernard Herrmann-style strings and the grinding electronics of Blanck Mass. ‘The Invisible Man’ OST is really unsettling and really good.
Douglas Adams - Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
Back in 2007 the British Bakeoff Corporation ran a radio dramatisation of Adams’ cult-classic novel ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ which featured the voices of luminaries like Olivia Colman, Harry Enfield and Andrew Sachs as well as music from Philip Pope - he of ‘Kevin & Perry Go Large’ and ‘The Chicken Song’ fame. Here is said dramatisation pressed onto three slabs of polyvinyl chloride. If he hadn’t passed away in 2001, one wonders what Douglas Adams would have made of The Current State Of Affairs.
Vic Mizzy - The Addams Family: Original Music From The Addams Family
They did the mash! They did th … oh wait, wrong ghouls. But yes, it’s Vic Mizzy’s music for ‘The Addams Family’. We all know and love the theme, but this collection digs deeper and presents a good chunk of Mizzy’s compositions for the original run of the show which aired way back in the mid-60s. This is the first time ‘The Addams Family’ music has been on vinyl for more than three decades - there’s a ‘back from the dead’ gag in there somewhere ...
Tangerine Dream - Destination Berlin
With hindsight, a soundtrack to a film released in 1989 with the word ‘Berlin’ in its title is interesting for reasons that go far beyond music (unless, of course, that record has been made by David Hasselhoff). However, Tangerine Dream’s music for ‘Destination Berlin’ scores just as well on the "sounding nice" front as it does on the "extremely serendipitous release date" front. ‘Destination Berlin’ is chirpier than some of the band’s other output, the rush of synths, keys and drums coming pretty close to Jean-Michel Jarre territory at points.
Le Matos - Exode (Original Web Series Soundtrack)
Prior to writing the score for Jesse Malcolm Sweet’s web series ‘Exode’, Canadian duo Le Matos had been known for making chunky Italo-influenced synthwave music in the S U R V I V E mould. However, these compositions are more abstracted - fittingly really, given that ‘Exode’ is a cosmic romp with more than a pinch of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and ‘Moon’ about it. Not a million miles away from the sounds of those ‘Dark Side Of The Moog’ records from Klaus Schulze & Pete Namlook (the former of which was briefly part of the aforementioned Tangerine Dream, of course).
C418 - Minecraft Volume Beta
Back in 2015, at the point when record labels were just getting wise to releasing vinyl editions of computer game soundtracks, Ghostly International proved themselves ahead of the curve by dropping their pressing of C418’s music for the monstrously successful Minecraft franchise. Now, five years on, they’re back with a second volume. ‘Minecraft Volume Beta’ was first thrown up online by C418 mastermind Daniel Rosenfeld back in 2013, but Ghostly’s editions are the first time that his expansive, world-building electronica/ambient pieces have been given a physical release.
Unloved - Why Not / Strange Effect
Eve. Will they ever let up in their efforts to kill her? Give her a break already! If you’ve succumbed to the charms of this acclaimed comedy-drama then you’ll surely already be familiar with the music of Unloved, the noirish rock trio whose music appears frequently in the show. On this 7” we find two ‘Killing Eve’ tidbits - including Unloved’s cover of The Kinks’ ‘Strange Effect’ - brought together on one lil slab o’ wax. Fans of Melody’s Echo Chamber and The Kills, your taxi has arrived.
Garoad - Yuppie Psycho (Original Soundtrack)
‘Yuppie Psycho’. Same! Composer Garoad personally selected the two-dozen tracks which made the cut for the vinyl pressing of his score for the ‘Yuppie Psycho’ computer game. Across the record Garoad proves himself to be an impressively versatile artist and a dab hand at creating woozy, slightly Lynchian soundscapes in a variety of musical modes. You can expect to hear ersatz takes on jazz fusion, dark ambient, City Pop, electronica and lounge on this charming record.
Toshioki Matsumura - A Visual Brain: 1986-1993
Toshioki Matsumura was a Japanese artist who made some pretty ahead-of-his-time music for video art projects before his death in 2014 - he is particularly admired for his work in the group Visual Brains, hence the title of this record. ‘A Visual Brain: 1986-1993’ collates some of Matsumura’s choicest morsels, and they certainly are wonderful pieces that fuse Fourth World aesthetics with ambient, house and computer music. The result sounds like Renick Bell trying to cover Peter Zummo and the Konami Kukeiha Club at the same time. And yes, the artwork is meant to look like that.
William Tyler - Music from First Cow
You really couldn’t have picked a better musician to score Kelly Reichardt’s ‘First Cow’ than the former Lambchop/Silver Jews guitarist William Tyler. You see, the film is a warm, thoughtful tale of rural life in the 19th Century U.S.A., and Tyler’s guitar playing has long conjured up images of prairies and pasture in the mind of the listener. He does so once more, and with great grace, on ‘Music From First Cow’. This is truly one of those LPs which works just as well without the on-screen action as it does alongside it.
Various - Birds of Prey: The Album
Nothing to do with Fatboy Slim, everything to do with that ‘Suicide Squad’ follow-up ‘Birds Of Prey’ which was meant to hit cinemas earlier this year before the pandemic came along and scuppered those plans. ‘Birds Of Prey: The Album’ isn’t a soundtrack to the film, you understand - it’s an accompanying album made up exclusively of female-identifying artists (Megan Thee Stallion, Saweetie and Halsey are just a few of those in the mix). I believe that the studio lost a load of dosh on this film due to all the theatres closing for months, so let’s throw them a bone eh.
Ron Geesin - Pot-Boilers (Ron Geesin Soundtracks To Stephen Dwoskin Films 1966 - 1970)
In the late 60s, Ron Geesin and Stephen Dwoskin were a perfect match. The former’s avant-garde sonic explorations, which would subsequently see him work with Roger Waters, proved a perfect foil for Dwoskin’s groundbreaking experimental films. ‘Pot-Boilers (Ron Geesin Soundtracks To Stephen Dwoskin Films 1966 - 1970)’ collates the strange, thrilling sounds that Geesin made for Dwoskin’s strange, thrilling films. This one’s coming out via Trunk, and as such it’s hard not to compare ‘Pot Boilers’ to the label’s Basil Kirchin reissues - though Geesin’s oeuvre is far more eerie than Kirchin’s, and there are also some of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Henry’s concrete innovations to his style.
Carmine Coppola - The Outsiders (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 flick ‘The Outsiders’ may not be his most lauded work, but this film is notable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it gave breaks to a hell of a lot of actors who’ve become extremely famous since - Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze and Tom Cruise to name but three - and secondly, it features a score composed by Coppola’s dad Carmine (who’d also done music for ‘The Godfather Part II’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’). This is Hollywood schmaltz of the best kind, all pastoral strings and swelling brass. The Silva Screen edition of ‘The Outsiders’ soundtrack also includes ‘Stay Gold’, the tune that Stevie Wonder wrote for the film’s end credits.
Alain Goraguer - La Planete Sauvage - Original Soundtrack
René Laloux’s 1973 film ‘La Planete Sauvage’ (‘The Fantastic Planet’) is considered by those in the know to be one of the greatest animated films ever made. It’s certainly a fabulously surreal offering, and the film’s air of charming strangeness is due in no small part to Alain Gorgauer’s score. Equal-parts Pink Floyd, yé-yé, Library funk and jazz fusion, Gorgauer’s work became beloved by everyone from Air to J Dilla down the years. This new edition finds Superior Viaduct presenting ‘La Planete Sauvage’s OST with shiny new artwork.
Various - Psychedelic Sex Kicks (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Given that it focusses largely on San Francisco, LSD and shagging, 1967’s ‘Psychedelic Sex Kicks’ is pretty much the platonic ideal of a movie about the 60s. You’ll be pleased to know that the soundtrack, reissued here by Modern Harmonic, proves a fine foil for all the freaky-deaky goings on. ‘Psychedelic Sex Kicks’ has got bongos, it’s got sitars, it’s got drones, it’s got someone pontificating Allen Ginsberg-style about something or other. This edition also comes with a DVD of the movie, but I can’t imagine any of you will be interested in that ...
Suzanne Ciani - Music For Denali
The seemingly inexhaustible Suzanne Ciani archives deliver another masterpiece of early synthesiser music. ‘Music For Denali’ is a literal title - these are tracks that the acclaimed composer made for a 1973 documentary about people attempting to ski down the Alaskan mountain of the same name - but the music is anything but straightforward. This is rich, impressionistic stuff, with Ciani working at the piano while also tapping into the same strain of electronics-induced experimentation as contemporaneous German acts like Neu! and Kraftwerk.