This post is a short discussion of the work I did on my wife’s film adaptation of the Korean short story “Daerijeon” by Djuna. It’s got a free downloadable copy of the soundtrack available for anyone interested.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that all of my wife’s Brutal Rice films (to date) are online over at Youtube. I’m excited that these films are out, because hey, that’s my wife and her award-winning movies. If you haven’t yet seen them… well, you know what to do. Watch them. Share them. Post about them. Talk them up. Please?
Anyway, I do odd jobs chez Brutal Rice: screenwriting, some sound design/audio, and music (… and even boom mic operator, occasionally). Putting together a music track is a lot like writing: you sketch out an idea, fiddle, finalize it, fiddle more, check it a bunch of times, chop things and move them around, fiddle more. Nothing I do is more like this, process-wise, than writing and editing a story into shape.
As I mentioned a while back, “Daerijeon” isn’t really a traditional sort of film, so it doesn’t have a traditional sort of (musical) soundtrack: it’s more of a weird soundscape, inspired (among other things I’ll get into below) by the soundtrack/sound design on the film Sinister… though of course it ended up being very different from Sinister, since “Daerijeon” is spacey comedy SF, not creepy horror.
Ultimately, the closing credits are the only “music” I’ve made for the film, unless you count the dub track I did a year ago: they’re the last two tracks in the downloadable “soundtrack” below:
Had we actually needed 7 -8 minutes of credits music, we’d have probably gone with the “Extra” dub track that’s listed as #4 on the above playlist, but since the credits were so short, and the ending of the film so dark, we felt a short, playful poppy-punk song seemed to fit more.
(But hey, the dub thing will doubtless get recycled and used for something else, eventually.)
For now, at least, the Brutal Rice Productions Soundcloud account also hosts a few other test tracks for “Daerijeon,” from back before I realized that this film needed a soundscape, rather than any sort of musical soundtrack.
I actually kind of like some of those tracks—there’s a gloppy, polyrhythmic oddness to the first one, and the last three all got used—in more diffused, toned-down, deconstructed form—during the main portion of the film, that is, during the interrogation. You can pick each element out if you listen carefully, I suppose, though there are a lot of them.
In any case, most of the tracks above drew inspiration from the same few places, primarily in the ambient music that my best friend in high school, Mike Babb (better known as DJ Deko-ze for the last few decades) introduced me to… in particular The Orb and Pete Namlook.
Of the two, The Orb’s debut album was always a bigger revelation to me, probably just because it was the first album of its kind I ever heard:
… but Namlook’s also an obvious influence here, especially Silence I + II… wherein you can also hear shades of the Vangelis score for Blade Runner:
The last inspiration I’ll mention is a more recent one. When I was walking down the street in San Francisco one night, I heard this amazing music playing in a music shop. I walked in, asked what was playing, and bought the album immediately. What album? William Basinski’s 92982:
The sound quality on that last video is pretty rough, but then, part of the attraction to Basinski is the decaying and collapsing of sound itself, as in the Disintegration Loops tracks for which he is probably best known. (Those are named, on one level, after the aural qualities of music played back from tapes so old they’re physically beginning to disintegrate.)
That’s a world apart from the punky rock tune we’re using for the closing credits, but the backing audio for the film itself bears out the connection.
The inspiration for the punk tune, on the other hand? I’m sure some Green Day song could be blamed, but the truth is, the opening song for this horrible, unwatchable anime was what got me started thinking about poppy-punk:
The theme song is way better than the cartoon, though. Don’t take my word on it: