Sunday, October 15, 2017
Tee Pee Records TPE-101
I first became aware of this band when I saw them open for X a few years ago. I was mesmerized by their psychedelic soundtracks for imaginary spaghetti westerns and picked up this album soon after. It doesn't come close to the excitement of their live act, but I still enjoy it immensely. According to the liner notes this music was conceived by band member Kirpatrick Thomas between 2002 and 2006 for a movie that did not yet exist. In 2007 the film was finally made featuring members of the band and their rock band buddies and this album was released as an actual soundtrack. The movie is a nihilistic spaghetti western most notable for featuring more hipsters than horses. The acting is amateurish but the film is enjoyably trippy at times. The music is easily its best feature. The record opens with "In the Beginning..." which features some of the narration from the film by the veteran actor Joseph Campanella. The film features lots of expository narration to make up for its incoherent storytelling. The music begins with "Titoli" which is obviously derived from Ennio Morricone. It features twangy guitar lines and martial drumming. A drum machine kicks off "The Legend of God's Gun" which also features a synthesizer while still retaining a rock sound. It reminds me of the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre (several members of Spindrift were formerly in the latter group.) There is some wordless vocalizing in the background as Campanella provides more narration. "Conversation with a Gun" is the most conventional song on the record. The song has a country-western flavor and is sung/spoke by Kirpatrick Thomas. It is the only cover song on the record, having been written by Johnny Bond back in the 1950s. The song is indeed a conversation between a killer and his gun. "Preachers Theme" returns to Morricone for inspiration. It begins with some atmospheric acoustic guitar work, before the percussion and vocalizing join in creating a more dramatic sound. At the end it even features some chanting that is blatantly copied from Morricone's scores for Sergio Leone. "The New West (Instrumental)" is my favorite track on the record. Its jangly reverb laden guitar lines evoke both spaghetti westerns and surf rock. The music is moody and majestic with some psychedelic overtones. The band has recorded a version of the song with vocals, but I prefer the instrumental version. "Speak to the Wind" opens the b-side in a similar vein but with less intensity. "Organ Fugue in DM Op. 42" sounds out of place on the record. It makes more sense in the movie where it accompanies the church scene. It starts out with some noodling around on an organ, then halfway through the rest of the band join in and turn it into a rock song. "Burn the Church" is a raucous percussion driven workout that is the wildest song on the record. I dig its manic energy and psychedelic sound. Things slow way down for "Greenhorn's Introduction" which returns to a loping spaghetti western sound. Near the end the band ratchets up the velocity for a dynamic finale. "Girlz Booze and Gunz" similarly begins with more stately spaghetti western soundtrack music before a frenzied rave up kicks in. "Blessing the Bullets" starts solemn and ominous growing gradually in force before seguing into the straight ahead rock sound of "The Scorpion's Venom." It is a propulsive riff driven tune with synth runs layered over it creating a shoegaze like sound. It is my other favorite cut and ends way too soon for my liking. The album concludes with "Indian Run" which is a high speed rocker with fake Native American chants, tribal drumming and lots of noisy guitar. It ends the record with a bang. One could criticize this record for being so derivative, but not me. I'm a big fan of Ennio Morricone, but I play this album more than I play any of his. Its fusion of spaghetti western electric guitar drama and crazed rock and roll energy is enormously appealing to me. Recommended to fans of the first two Quicksilver Messenger Service albums.