You might not know but Australian film soundtracks have an unexpected synthetic past. Whilst the Ozploitation movement was celebrated a few years back via Mark Hartley’s energetic doco Not Quite Hollywood, until now their scores have largely been ignored. Whilst Mad Max composer Brian May scored more than 30 films in almost 20 years, ran the ABC Showband, and was best known for his grand orchestral Bernard Herrmannesque soundtracks, few are aware of his exploratory synthesizer work. And it occurred by accident.
The makers for 1982’s Turkey Shoot lost almost a third of their budget weeks before shooting, and with limited funds May turned to the synth, creating quasi orchestral multi genre cues, where he wasn’t afraid to get atonal, dissonant or strange, inadvertently borrowing from the pop realm, and developing slightly hysterical Nintendo meltdowns and unnerving Carpenteresque grooves. Whilst the film’s uneven tone (think The Running Man meets Hogan’s Heroes) and gratuitous violence grabbed the headlines, the score really is something special and is being released for the first time by Melbourne archival label Dual Planet.
They’re also offering up another Aussie obscurity, the soundtrack to the 1980, eco doomsday thriller The Chain Reaction. Featuring most of the cast and crew from Mad Max, including executive producer George Miller filming the car chases, it’s a popcorn flick with a classy refined electronic score that it really doesn’t deserve. Andrew Thomas Wilson gets modular, playing Moogs, Rolands and other vintage devices, channeling, Carpenter, Goblin, Tomita and Vangelis, delivering a unique kind of electronic fusion that is still mind blowing some 34 years later.
In the poorer outer suburbs of Lisbon, a place populated by low cost housing, comprised mostly of immigrants from the former African colonies Angola and Cape Verde, a musical revolution is happening. It’s the second-generation kids who are infusing their parents records collections with electronic music and creating something new and astounding. It’s Afro house music by way of the more traditional music of the region, in particular the percussive elements, combined and spat out through cracked fruity loops to become something new. Mashing genres like Kuduro, Batida, Kizomba and Zouk bass, many of these artists are really starting to push the boundaries of the genres, existing somewhere in the place afro house meets experimental lofi electronica, infusing the weirdness and laugh out loud vocal samples with incredible stuttering grooves, and most importantly bringing the party.
Whilst the likes of Buraka Som Sistema and Batida are probably the best known outside Portugal, it’s the artists who all seemed to be named Fox that feel like they’re offering something new and rawer. DJ Marfox is the spiritual godfather of the scene that has seen the likes of DJ NIgga Fox, DJ Liofox, and Famifox productions, released through local label Principe who curate limited run LP’s. Nigga Fox in particular, still in his early 20’s is responsible for the wonkiest electronic wig outs, and is something of a rising star, with a track apparently picked up by Thom Yorke for a mixtape, and now his EP is impossible to find.
“It’s a totally mindless piece of futuristic schlock that delights in its appalling carnage and camp sensibilities. Apparently it was an attempt to further genre films in Australia, channeling the Women in Prison films of Jack Hill and the schlock tendencies of Italian goremiester Lucio Fulci. There’s circus freaks munching on human toes, severed hands and feet, rape, murder, and torture all filmed with a sadistic relish and an eye for black comedy.”
Full Review here.