• pico79

    This is pretty fascinating – I’d never heard any of it (and kinda liked the “Jesu,” to be honest). Will give the others some time to simmer, maybe come back to them later in the week, as well – though to my ear they sound awfully kitschy on first listen (though I could imagine her C-major prelude as a Goblinesque score for a 70s horror film). My most embarrassing art-related confession is that I also have trouble getting into Bach, so I probably have some lingering bias in there, as well.

    On a related note, I’m sure you’ve heard about Lynch’s use of Beethoven in Twin Peaks this season? During one particularly horrifying scene, he slows down a few measures of the “Moonlight” sonata to the point that they register as nothing more than ambient drone. Almost the opposite of what Carlos does, since he keeps the original’s instrumentation, but I found the manipulation really effective (I didn’t recognize it at all until someone posted a 4x speed version of the scene).

    • I grew up with these sounds, and in fact got to play with a Moogish synth for a few years, doing all those patches myself and coming up with homegrown sounds, so the Kitschmaster 5000 effect comes up less with me. I had pretty much the same reaction as you had to these pieces with period-instrument performances of Bach; my experience was that as I gave them more listens, the period flavor fell away and it became another good, revealing version of the music. Hopefully you’ll have a similar experience.

      I did not in fact know that about Twin Peaks, and that sounds ever so Lynchian. I wonder if he was inspired by Nolan for this: https://youtu.be/UVkQ0C4qDvM

      • pico79

        Ah, I didn’t know that about Nolan, either. Does two make a trend?

        I’d post the Lynch scene, but it’s (more than) a bit of a spoiler.

        • I’ll cook up a poorly-written thinkpiece on it (“How David Lynch and Christopher Nolan Anticipated the Age of Trump by Ignoring Tempo Indications”); you make a meme, then we have a trend.

          • thesplitsaber

            Theres probably something to be said with everyone ripping offthe BWAAAM even though thats a specific effect for a specific story.

    • DJ JD

      My first exposure to Carlos, and probably still my very favorite work of hers, is her work for Tron soundtrack, of all things. She took what must’ve been a baffling proposition on paper and turned it into a melodic, intricate flight of fancy that had some technical trickery but still hit the requisite movie-grab beats. Anyway, she has a great ear for moments of quiet loveliness that isn’t necessarily all that common a trait among electronic musicians. I chuckled at the opening to Jesu–but I certainly heard that characteristic in the faux-oboe/flute that kicks in around 0:22, too.

      • pico79

        I’ll listen for that. I actually do remember liking the Tron soundtrack quite a bit and never knew the composer, so I’ll be re-listening to that today. Thanks!

  • Drunk Napoleon

    You ever have a “holy shit, where has this been all my life?” reaction to art? Cause that’s what I just had.

    It’s interesting how the first thing people do with a new medium is try ripping off/inputting an old medium into it – the original Call Of Duty game outright plagiarised war movies and TV shows like Saving Private Ryan and Band Of Brothers, early webcomics heavily imitated newspaper comics, and of course right back to the early days of film you have things like Nosferatu. It’s like putting familiar ideas into a new formula to figure out how it works – a New Method For Old Concepts, if you like – to figure out how that method works, and what it can and cannot do by using something that definitely works; this sounds like a particularly disciplined example of that, and I can imagine Carlos trying multiple ways to adapt the music before landing on what we hear.

    • It goes that way in just about all arts, and it goes way back–Bach imported the textures of fugue and canon from the Renaissance into the new system of tonality; Schönberg went back to 18th-century forms like the prelude and gigue for his early twelve-tone compositions. It’s for exactly the reason you said–we know this stuff works with the old method, so it serves as a way to test the new methods. (David Mamet’s Mountain Climbing Theory of Creative Endeavor: get an absolutely firm foothold, then make a small excursion to another absolutely firm foothold.) Son of Griff has talked to me about applying this kind of thinking to film, and it’s really badly needed.

      In the followups to this–The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, Switched-On Bach 2, Switched-On Brandenburgs–Carlos does exactly what you said, and the experiments (and history of experiments) she includes on the remasters are fascinating. She really did assemble sounds always thinking of what makes the musical architecture stand out, not what shows off the capacities of her tools.

  • DJ JD

    I mentioned below my love for her work on the Tron soundtrack, but upon reflection, I wonder if your description of her aiming for “a more deliberate application of synth effects” at the time was more consistent with the direction she was growing as an artist anyway than I’d realized. Certainly, Switched On Brandenburgs sounds more like Tron to my ear than S. O. Bach did.

    • The Tron soundtrack was a combination of electronic and orchestral music, and Carlos enjoyed the challenge. She also sez that a lot of her more startling electronic effects come from failed attempts to imitate musical instruments. So yeah, I think her goal has always been to use the synth as an expanded instrumental ensemble. (In her Four Ts, timbre is only one of them.)

  • This reminds me that I really need to finish up that Bruce Springsteen series of mine.

    Awesome work as always, Mr. Wallflower!