Cellulosed Bodies (Original Score)
This is Augustus Muller's (more commonly known as Gus from Boy Harsher) second soundtrack collaboration with UK based underground film collective Four Chambers, which is lead by self-confessed 'experimental pornographer' Vex Ashley. As with 2020's 'Machine Learning Experiments' album, this contains two scores for the films 'Crash' and 'Automation' which both came out last year. Stark, industrial soundscapes is the tone here, blended with club elements and voice samples, the intention being to echo the J G Ballard themes explored in the movies (watch the video and you will get the gist). The 'flesh penetrated by the machine' elements of Ballard's novel Crash and the subsequent David Cronenberg film adaptation of that on which the Four Chambers film draws, are skillfully created in sound.
Film soundtracks can be patchy unless approached as a project in their own right and this is no 'Top Gun' cut and paste of pop hits for sure. A lot of thought has gone into making 'Crash' a piece of music that both supports the visual imagery in the film, yet also stands in its own right. See the single 'Perverse Technology' (reviewed in OL here) or 'Fur and Metal' for proof of that.
The second film 'Automation' explores the theme of technological intimacy and features a severe computer entity and trapped prey both succumbing to pleasure. Muller uses less industrial sounds for the Automation score, instead featuring more string and organ sounds, melded with vocal samples of dominatrix Miss Marilyn speaking from the perspective of the machine. Getting that balance right is a tough ask but he pulls it off. Attempting to synthesise the mechanical yet erotic nature of both films must have been a bit of a challenge, and this is a long way from what we have heard to date from Boy Harsher, so its intriguing and I think we might need to ask Muller more about this in person if we can arrange that.
In the meantime, this is a skillful and adept best-in-class example of how to do a film score that still bears repeated listening long after the film itself has been and gone.
Main image Augustus Muller by Jimmy Fontaine