Friday, 3 October 2014

Supersilent 12 (or Forbidden Moon) (Rune Grammofon)

News: Supersilent make fantastic sci-fi soundtrack for lost classic 1960 film - yes they do! How? Well, Ståle Storløkken and Helge Sten took their time machine back, along with their gear, and made music for a little-known film called Forbidden Moon

The producers originally asked Miles Davis after the success of his music for Louis Malle's 1958 masterpiece, Lift to the Scaffold (UK title), but the awkward dark magus refused, saying '"I'm not making music for some muthafucking space shit", or words to those effect. Please don't quote me. 

The producers had in mind a collaboration between Davis and Louis and Bebe Barron after their radical electronic score for Forbidden Planet (1956). Imagine how that would have sounded! You don't have to because Supersilent 12 is pretty close. 

It was only when Helge Sten, who mixed this album, tuned in to the producer's boardroom meeting, picking it up by sheer chance on his Time Vision Tuner, that the band made their play. They got the job. Sadly, the film was lost in the archives and has never been since since. Apparently it was about a moon on which alien would-be invaders of Earth had created a monster capable of conquering our beloved planet. As was the case with many 50s sci-fi films, for aliens read Communists. Their plans are foiled by an all-American astronaut crew who chance upon them and kick their asses. Unfortunately, in the process, they are contaminated by a deadly virus and all die, eventually. Sounds great, doesn't it?

Why Supersilent refused to give this album its proper title I do not know; I suppose they wanted to maintain continuity regarding their previous ones. Also, I know they're very secretive about owning a time machine. I shouldn't really have told you about that.

Whatever, this is a truly great album which totally captures the spirit of Louis and Bebe Barron without merely copying their ground-breaking electronic effects. Well, it would sound different considering the fact that some of Supersilent's instruments hadn't been invented in 1960. That said, there are theremin-like sounds which creep into the mix, along with possibly other ancient electronic instruments. 

The mood is dark, ominous, from 1 (no titles, although I believe it was the title track). Here we sense the awful presence of something evil beneath the moon's surface before, on 2, there's the sense of life, lurking there under the expanse of the apparently deserted environment. Track 3 is suggestive of alien lifeforms communicating as they go about their dastardly business (original title: In The Lair of the Moon-Dwellers).

By now I'm so excited by this album I can imagine every scene, almost. It's quite amazing. The other-worldly terror continues...the monster seems to scream it's intentions on track 4, yet in contrast the underlying melancholic tone suggests that it too is a victim of it's own manipulated powers. On 5 it approaches, stealthily, the tragic tone highlighted by Henriksen's trumpet-laying which, I might add, perfectly suits the chilly Cold War tension. Miles Davis would have surely added bluesy Jazz inflections to his playing, which would have been wrong. On tracks such as 8, that trumpet combined with minimal electronics is most effective, being plaintive yet menacing.

A truly brilliant record which captures both the horror and tragedy of conflicting cultures set on a course of mutual destruction. It does so by creating both subtle and dynamic moods with perfectly arranged electric and acoustic instrumentation.

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