What do Kentucky Fried Chicken and Peter Weir’s little known and criminally under-appreciated 1977 existential horror, The Last Wave have in common? Starring Richard Chamberlain and David Gulpilil, the film that delves into Aboriginal culture and dreamtime in an urban setting. The score was composed by Charles Wain. Wain was a curious figure.
Firstly, his score is a remarkable mix of synthetic cues and experimental electronics, using the Arp Odyssey, the Arp Solina String Ensemble, and guitar as well as manipulated didgeridoo. It effortlessly manages to conjure a deep existential dread, and in this post Stranger Things, post Mr Robot world it could’ve been made yesterday. Secondly if you check IMDB this is Wain’s only credit. Ever. Thirdly if you Google ‘Charles Wain’ you will discover it’s an astronomy term – another name for the ‘Big Dipper.’ All of which is highly suspicious. Who was this enigmatic figure?
Melbourne label The Roundtable’s first ever release of the soundtrack (along with John Barry’s lost score to Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout) illuminates things a little more, and this is where it gets weird. It’s where CC corn chips, Kentucky Fried Chicken and petrol jungles collide with high art, because Wain is in fact the pseudonym for television and radio advertising jingle guy Wayne ‘Groove’ Myers. If you watched TV during the 70’s and 80’s his jingles are firmly etched in your frontal lobe. Yet this score is his experimental side. One thing’s for sure “You can’t say no,” to this deep and remarkable work…Sorry.