Lines In Wax

THIRTEEN YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

classical

Barrington Pheloung – Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror OST (1997 / 2010)

Barrington’s soundtrack for the original Broken Sword haunts me in my dreams, and the sequel is a continuation of that excellence. However, it should be said that the follow up is far more ethereal and atmospheric, with only a recurring leitmotif holding the whole thing together. Aside from that, breathy synths are the order of the day, with stabs of instrumental punctuation reserved for important plot or gameplay points. There’s a collection of “worldly” music as well as some tracks that were supposed to be diegetic sources in-game, but otherwise this near 2 hour experience flies by. One thing I will say, is that Barrington’s music is synonymous with the feeling that Broken Sword conjured up. Good times.

Scott Hull – Requiem (2008)

Scott Hull – Requiem (2008)

Requiem, I believe, was a soundtrack that Scott did for a film. Now, I can’t remember if this film ever came out or if it was just an imaginary film which existed in order for such a soundtrack to be composed around, but you’ll notice some pressings of this release will have “The motion picture soundtrack” written above the word Requiem. Either way, this was the beginning of a short experimental series of releases from Scott, which are far, far from the usual Pig Destroyer and/or Agoraphobic Nosebleed aural destruction. Requiem is a score that encompasses classical elements, as well as ambient and drone aspects. The entire thing, I think, again I’m recalling from snippets of memories from 15 years ago, is made more or less entirely using VSTs, which is pretty amazing because this sounds fantastic. Some of the fully instrumented passages shamble a bit clumsily, but otherwise this is a beautiful record. Closing track “In Paradisum Deducant Te Angeli” gives you a taste of what was to come with the Audiofilm CD series.

Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks (1990)

Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks (1990)

Twin Peaks possesses one of the most magical and captivating soundtracks of all time. It is impossible, in my mind, to separate Twin Peaks the show from Twin Peaks the music. This is part of the reason I think, why Season 3 was so jarring to me at first, as Badalamenti’s score is used far less there. I now love Season 3, and Badalamenti’s contributions there are now some of my favourites, but not having the whole thing soaked in these gorgeous synthesiser compositions and jazz beats was a bit strange. Nothing however captures a feeling (usually of melodrama), a time and place, and an uncanny sense of dread quite like Angelo Badalamenti did for Twin Peaks. Truly, it is stunning. I cannot heap enough praise on this thing. It has been life-changing for me, in regards to my musical journey. I’ll see you in the trees.

Broken Sword: The Shadow Of The Templars (Game) / Barrington Pheloung – Broken Sword Original Soundtrack (1996)

Broken Sword: The Shadow Of The Templars (Game) / Barrington Pheloung – Broken Sword Original Soundtrack (1996)

I initially decided I would split out the game review and OST review for this one (like I’ve done with some games and not others – we value consistency here at Lines In Wax) but honestly, the two elements are so completely interwoven and linked, to separate them is alien. Broken Sword was one of my favourite games as a kid. Granted, I was far too young to really understand the plot and also far too young to be any good at it, instead getting places purely out of sheer luck and process of elimination. However, in recent “adult” replays (I think the most recent being 2009), I can confirm that Broken Sword (and its first sequel) are two of the greatest games ever made. Note: fuck the Director’s Cut, which retcons a bunch of shit, adds a bunch of unnecessary extra scenes, and a ton of absolutely shite puzzles. Put that shit in the sea, next to the 1996 Lucas Star Wars re-tweaks. There is just something so special about Broken Sword. I don’t know how or why, but Charles Cecil and his devs blew the PlayStation apart, making a game that was long, detailed and absolutely dripping from every pore with mood and atmosphere. When I finally went to Paris, imagine how disappointed I was to find it wasn’t like the Paris in Broken Sword. Broken Sword romanticised our dark and miserable real world, in a pre-internet age where beauty could be found in the little moments (yeah, the ones you now fill with pointless scrolling on your smartphone). It’s plot, honestly, doesn’t matter all that much to me (even though I enjoy it), because the locations, characters and dialogue are so perfect, I’m happy to just be here. And that leads us to Barrington’s incredible soundtrack. It’s very low key, yet utterly unique. You know instantly, no matter at which point you could randomly select in its total run time, and instantly know, this is the Broken Sword soundtrack. The musical cues, little flourishes and sparks of emotion through a minimal yet classically composed score, are honestly to die for. I think I’ve gushed enough. If you’ve never played this game, I implore you to do so, even today, in 2021. I hope that when I close my eyes for the last time, the piano music from the Hotel Ubu plays me out.

Jeremy Soule – The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind OST (2002)

Jeremy Soule – The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind OST (2002)

I have been borderline obsessed with Morrowind since I got given a copy of the game and it’s expansion packs in 2003 (or so). I think one of the original endearing aspects of that obsession that allows it to continue to this day is the absolutely magical soundtrack by Jeremy Soule. Not to shit on the OSTs for Arena or Daggerfall, but there’s a reason why the game’s creator’s continued to use Jeremy going forward on each subsequent Elder Scrolls installment.

Cradle Of Filth – Midnight In The Labyrinth (2012)

Cradle Of Filth – Midnight In The Labyrinth (2012)

I love Cradle Of Filth. I love classical music. I love hammy keyboards and the dungeon synth genre. Why then, if you smush all of these things together, as is the case with this record, are the results so resoundingly poor? This two disc set is so categorically the very definition of disappointment. Its the same tracks on both discs 1 and 2, the only difference is that on disc 1, the songs have new vocal interpretations added too, by Dani Filth and long-time Cradle session vocalist Sara Jezebel Deva (with the exception of “Goetia”, which exists with vocals only). Both are excellent vocal performers in their own right, but do nothing to save the record at all here. Midnight… is so genuinely boring that it makes me sad to my very core. For Cradle super-fans and collectors only, I would say.

Duke Ellington – Anatomy Of A Murder (1959)

Duke Ellington – Anatomy Of A Murder (1959)

I was inspired to look up the swinging sounds of Duke Ellington due to his (fictional) appearances in the Big Mouth TV series. Anatomy Of A Murder is kinda an OST to a movie of the same name, where bluesy swing and big band jazz is the order of the day. For me, this is an example of jazz in its purest sense; incredibly moods and musicianship all round. I really want to check out this movie now.

Björk – Selmasongs (Dancer In The Dark OST) (2000)

Björk – Selmasongs (Dancer In The Dark OST) (2000)

As far as Björk albums go this has to be the most boring one I have heard so far, if you can even call it an album at only seven tracks in length. Selmasongs is the “OST” to the film Dancer In The Dark, which also stars Björk in the main role. I’ve never seen the film and don’t particularly plan on watching it, but I expected from Björk and all her super-creative weirdness a very challenging and enjoyable self-made soundtrack, but alas all we have here is a bunch of orchestral scores (which are nice in their own right, I suppose) with the odd Björk tune thrown in for good measure. Massive disappointment. I can’t really complain as I only paid £0.01 for this on Amazon (good luck “bricks’n’mortar” record stores!) but I was insanely let down by this short CD. Totally not worth waffling on about, and for Björk purists only.

James Levine & The London Symphony Orchestra – Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (1975)

James Levine & The London Symphony Orchestra – Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (1975)

This is my second £1 Mahler purchase, and the second time I’ve been disappointed at not receiving some bat-shit insane classical music. I’m guessing that maybe Mahler gained his ambitions over time? The 4th is rather straight forward but complex in it’s own way, and number 6 (the final symphony he wrote) is absolutely maddening as fuck. Number 1 however, after building and building from nothing over a long period  breaks into something that sounds like a typical background film score. The second movement, however pleasant, is like something out of an old Disney film (before they started having rap music in lieu of orchestrated scores) and drags on a bit for me. Side two opens beautifully with the mournful third movement (you can fuck off if you think I’m going to write out all the German titles) that sounds like more of a soundtrack out of a Bioware game, or maybe earlier Elder Scrolls stuff by Jeremy Soule. It is like early Mortiis or prison Burzum but with a full blown orchestra and it sounds bloody brilliant, if I’m honest. If I close my eyes and concentrate for a bit I can literally see a small band of various adventurers shuffling around the wilderness of Baldur’s Gate’s Sword Coast at my command. Eventually the composition starts to get all Disney bunnies hopping everywhere before it fizzles out on a rather eery note. The final movement starts with a heart-attack inducing crescendo before becoming something that I think would go well to a montage of being chased through a busy, ambiguous European city by the Gestapo. Very good.

Jascha Horenstein & The London Philharmonic Orchestra – Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 (1971)

Jascha Horenstein & The London Philharmonic Orchestra – Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 (1971)

I don’t know where my interest in classical music came from, but one has to assume that it has somehow stemmed from the orchestral involvement in some metal music; either that or film soundtracks. I don’t collect or own many film soundtracks, but I guess that we are all subject to a lot of classical music without really noticing that we are listening to it as it plays along to some of our favourite movies, tv shows or even cartoons. Alongside the usual classical canon given to newbies, I was recommended Mahler as he plays “heavier”, more involving classical music than than the usual violins and trumpets shit. I don’t know the correct terms so forgive my common tongue (ha ha), as I am no more than a sheer novice when it comes to the world of classical (and no doubt shall I remain at this stage; the air of elitism and pomposity within this genre is second only to the art scene).  I began with a kindly donated copy of Mahler’s 6th, which is a lot more twisty-turney and full-on than this somehow calmer and more typical-classic 4th symphony. I won’t write much about 6 here because that will have a post all to itself, but 4 is slightly disappointing for me as it lacks the sheer madness of the 6th that i loved so much; what I hear here (ha) is well made classical music, but it fails to challenge me. No doubt it is intricately composed and a nightmare to play (conductor Jascha Horenstein worked himself into the grave conducting Mahler’s work), but it holds none of the excitement for me that 6 did. Nevertheless, I will continue to hunt down Mahler’s symphonies on 12″, as they do sound rather splendid. Yes yes, very good. A glass of port, good sir?