Saturday 27 September 2008

Blade Runner - Inspiring The Future

During the run up to the release of Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Warner Brothers ran a promotion to encourage fans to submit material under the categories of art, fashion, literature, and music. The winner of the music category was Bentley Ousley with his mesmeric composition "Deckard's World"

Composer, Bentley is well known in Blade Runner fan circles and is widely recognised as one of the foremost experts on Vangelis' renowned music from Ridley Scott's ground-breaking cult classic. Though only three minutes and ten seconds in duration, Deckard's World captures the melancholy vibe of the movie and the lonely, rainswept, congested streets of Los Angeles in 2019 with considerable panache.

The track was born among a number of musical sketches for the soundtrack for the "Blade Runner Chronicles" a film work in progress. Commenting on the construction of the track Bentley Ousley explained,"I used the CS-80v from Arturia for the "Blade Runner Blues"-type synth sound. (Vangelis, of course, used the original Yamaha CS-80 synth for this sound). Vangelis generally used slightly mod-ed presets from this synth. The CS-80v comes with all the original presets from the CS-80. So ... with a little bit of experimentation, you can usually find what Vangelis was using to produce his different textures.

"I used a Yamaha CS2x for the electric piano sound. The patch is a slightly altered version of the preset "Transine". I hardly use this hardware synth anymore, but I thought the lo-fi vibe of this e-piano patch was simular to some of the early Vangelis recordings. The rain and thunder come from the SpaceHawk library. The percussion loop was made with sounds from Stylus RMX. The bass is a real bass guitar. The strings are the String Sustain instrument from Seidlecek's Complete Classical Collection."

You too can enjoy the experience of Deckard's World by downloading the track from Bentley's website HERE

Other examples from Bentley's Blade Runner sketchbook are here:
On the strength of these tantalising glimpses into the Future Noir of LA 2019, I for one, hope these recordings received the exposure they deserve.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

L.A. Confidential - very hush-hush and on the QT

L.A. Confidential, is Curtis Hanson's slick 1997 movie adaptation of James Elroy's sprawling novel set in corruption-ridden late 1940's Los Angeles. Despite the plethora of period details, Hanson doesn't let that bog the film down and lets his talented cast live and breath their parts imbuing the film with a naturality that other directors can only dream of.

Hanson initially worried his financiers by casting virtual unknowns and non A-list actors. However, this is the very strength of L.A. Confidential, as each actor gives utterly believable performances. In the case of Kim Basinger, as beautiful Veronica Lake look-alike hooker, Lynn Bracken, it is arguably her career best.
What is even more amazing about L.A Confidential is that three of the principal characters are played by Antipodeans. Russell Crowe in his first Hollywood role dominates the screen as thuggish blunt instrument with a heart, Officer Wendell "Bud" White. Former Aussie soap star Guy Pearce plays squeaky clean bespectacled go-getter, Sergeant Edmund Exley; while James Cromwell, (Farmer Hoggett from Babe) exudes corruption as Police Chief Captain Dudley Smith.

Elsewhere Kevin Spacey shines as Sergeant Jack Vincennes, the cool and charismatic Hollywood cop who moonlights as the technical advisor of Badge of Honor - loosely based on the Dragnet TV show. Vincennes also takes a cut of the action from weasly Sid Hudgeons played with sleazy relish by Danny Devito of Hush-Hush magazine - based on the notorious scandal rag Confidential magazine, itself the subject of a fascinating BBC radio documentary.

The eclectic soundtrack for L.A. Confidential mixes Jerry Goldsmith's dark and mysterious film noir score and a selection of popular hits from the era. Many of the songs perfectly ac-cent-tchu-ate the onscreen action. There is a particularly funny sequence with Lana Turner and her psychotic boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato. Whilst Goldsmith's L.A. Confidential score is not perhaps his best, it bridges the gap between his own Chinatown score and John Barry's Playing By Heart. The score for L.A. Confidential was nominated, but lost out to James Horner's Titanic, for the Golden Globes and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Although other James Elroy novels have been brought to the screen, there are none to date that hold a candle to Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential, a fact confirmed by Elroy himself.