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The Nostalgic Attic: Soundtrack Spotlight: Klaus Schulze - Angst (1983)

27 May 2014

Soundtrack Spotlight: Klaus Schulze - Angst (1983)




Directed by Gerald Kargl, Angst is one of those rare cinematic oddities in which the soundtrack is more well known than the film itself. This is most likely due to the fact that when it came out, Angst struggled to find a distributor due to the extreme nature of the picture, no doubt any potential buyers saw nothing but censorship headaches and lost money. In many ways they probably weren't wrong; the film is still yet to really find its audience, and cinema only really caught up to Kargl's vision with the release of Gasper Noe's I Stand Alone - no doubt heavily inspired by the earlier film.




The film charters the release of a psychotic killer from prison, and what he gets up to for the few hours afterwards. Needless to say, it isn't long before he ends up back behind bars. What sets Angst apart from other slasher nasties of the era is the manner in which it is filmed - the camera is constantly moving, be it around the killer (in a technique made more famous by the likes of Darren Aronofsky) or in some bravado long takes that mixed with the relentless voice over makes for a disturbing 70-odd minutes of cinema. Now, Angst isn't really the kind of film I would usually cover here (it's about as far from light entertainment as you can get), but I figured the soundtrack is something that is worth also looking at on its own.

Klaus Schulze is no doubt most well known to fans of European electronic music, as well as his stint with Tangerine Dream. He has apparently released over 60 albums spanning 5 decades of a career, which is an incredible achievement, and in his work on Angst, he produced some fairly haunting and memorable slices of electronica. The soundtrack consists of only 6 cuts, though the last piece, Silent Survivor, is just over 30 minutes long. The themes cover a range of emotions such as paranoia, confusion, fear and rage; and much like the film itself, all managed within a tight running time. I've included 3 tracks from the album here, which hopefully will give you an interest in seeking out either the rest of the score, or dig deep for the film itself.

Track 1 - Freeze

Freeze is definitely a haunting piece, playing through much of the early scenes in the film. Much like the ways that Tangerine Dream were often able to bring the psyche of the characters out within the films in which their music scored, the same effect applies here; the music feels like lost memories churning away inside the mind of a man who just doesn't exist on the same plane as the rest of us.



Track 2 - Beyond


Track 3  - Pain

Another fine piece of atmospheric electronica, here. 


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9 Comments:

At 27 May 2014 at 11:58 , Blogger Wes M said...

John, a fantastic post - just less than an hour ago I was reading reviews for a clutch of Klaus Schulze reissues - how's that for a strange coincidence ! (The reviews were in the April 2005 issue of Record Collector, for conspiracy theory fans). I'm sure I have this soundtrack on mp3 somewhere but I'm not familiar with it at all in terms of the music, but that might change now after listening to the youtube samples - I'll definitely burn this onto CD when I uncover it - the first track uncannily sounds like some of Coil's later work, especially The Ape of Naples version of Teenage Lightning, while the third track sounds like a companion piece to Tangerine Dream's live record Poland (recorded the same year as Angst). Excellent stuff ! It's a real shame that Schulze's classic records like Irrlicht, Cyborg, and Timewind are now very hard to find or really expensive. I wish I had picked them up when I had the chance because I still regularly listen to my Tangerine Dream albums, in fact I can see Force Majeure languishing by the stereo from where I'm writing this...

If I was vaguely aware of the soundtrack, the film is completely new to me, but after reading your appraisal of the film, I immediately checked out some clips and wow ! where has this film been all my life ? It looks totally nuts ! I was thinking this might be something along the lines of Schramm but I absolutely see what you mean about I Stand Alone with its poisonous lead character and aggressive, confrontational direction. Delirious camerawork too, I don't think I've ever seen such low angle shots - incredible ! What is it about these uptight German/Austrian film makers !? Christiane F, Der Fan, Angst... y'know, intense !

 
At 27 May 2014 at 12:55 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

That IS a strange coincidence - I know Schulze would be popular enough, but that's nuts! Someone else mentioned Coil to me in relation to that track, but you know, I really don't know much of Coil's work at all. Kinda shameful, really, considering the stuff I listen to. Glad to see a fan of his work though, I really only know bits and pieces! Those albums that you mentioned there will definitely be going on the list.

Wes, this is definitely your kind of film, I could see you going nuts for it. It makes Schramm look pretty drab (I'm not a massive fan, to be honest, his Nekromantik films were much more my cup of tea), and to be honest, the film has an accumulative effect when watching it that clips can't really do just to. I've still yet to see Der Fan, though I was familiar with it from reading about it over the years under the alternate title, Trance. I see there is finally a DVD of it, so it will go on the list!

Wes, if you are stuck on the soundtrack or tracking this film, let me know!

 
At 28 May 2014 at 01:04 , Blogger Wes M said...

Yeah, Coil are not an easy group to get a handle on, they’ve modulated their sound from album to album, so there’s no one Coil track that can represent the scope of their work. Both members of Coil are dead now, and their back catalogue has fallen in limbo, rights-wise. I was talking to Robin Rimbaud (of Scanner fame) last year and he reckons the rights are so tangled up amongst various warring parties, we’re unlikely to see any legitimate Coil reissues anytime in the future. So downloading is currently the way to go. I was lucky that I was into Coil while you could still pick up their CDs, and if things ever get desperate around here, I can sell them on eBay and retire for a few months. But if you did feel so inclined, I’d say look to Unnatural History, a collection of early tracks donated to compilation albums and A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room from 1996, an album of dark electronica recorded under their Black Light District alias – be sure to check out Die Wölfe Kommen Zurück from that album – it always sounds to me like it could be an alternative soundtrack to the sequence in Stalker where the men make their journey into the Zone on the clattering rail cart. Incidentally, a Coil track that everyone has heard is the title music for Se7en, which was originally a throwaway Nine Inch Nails track (Closer) but was overhauled by Coil into the toxic, serrated tune that opens the film proper...

Yeah, Schramm was a bit too drab for my tastes – I picked up the Barrel disc when it came out but I found the film really boring and abandoned it half-way thru intending to catch it again when I was in a more agreeable mood but I never did. I kinda like these loner serial killer type films – I’m thinking of something like Tony: London Serial Killer (2006) which is much better than its title would suggest, or from 1989, Cold Light of Day, a very low budget, low key account of the exploits of Dennis Nilsen – by no means a great film but it has its own strange grim power…

 
At 28 May 2014 at 01:47 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

Thanks for that Wes, some great starting points for me to dig into Coil. I wasn't aware that it was their remix at the start of Seven, it's a film that I still love to this day and somehow never looked into the soundtrack. I'll tell you one Coil release that I am familiar with - their discarded soundtrack for Hellraiser, which I'll probably look at here at some stage. I couldn't find out why the score wasn't used, as Barker seems to be a huge fan of their work - maybe you know a bit more than me?

I've never seen either of those films, I gotta say. Cold Light of Day certainly sounds interesting. I was big into serial killer films for a while back in my youth (around the same time I was reading plenty of books on them) but these days they would be far from my genre-of-choice.

 
At 28 May 2014 at 02:58 , Blogger Wes M said...

Me too… when I was a kid listening to death metal I had an appetite for serial killer culture, I read the biographies of the major players and I liked the salacious kinky details of the crimes, and the psychopathology of the killers, y’know, looking into the heart of darkness was fascinating to me, but as I matured I took a turn against that kind of stuff, thinking it all a bit…well, unhealthy. It can be an emotive issue – I remember being in a thread on a Horror film board about serial killers and I posted some pics of a park I visited in Chicago which happened to be one of John Wayne Gacy’s stalking grounds, but someone took exception to it and consequently the thread was removed – which I can completely understand, and didn’t mind really. I think my nostalgic juices were gushing out of control on that occasion...

Apparently, the Coil score for Hellraiser was rejected by New World who bank-rolled the film, the music was considered too weird, too intense and probably too uncommercial, and while I like the Themes for Hellraiser EP, I’d rather keep Christopher Young’s great majestic score, which is eerie and beautiful – an incredible piece of work… I love electronic soundtracks I must say and they’re not used nearly enough which is a shame because big studio pictures have been really stuck in that corny James Newton Howard groove for a few years now, and it’s enough to ruin a film for me. I watched Wyatt Earp on TCM a few weeks back and what is a pretty good serious Western is almost destroyed by Howard’s music, every gesture in the film is accompanied by a big swell of orchestra which quickly got on my nerves. There are exceptions of course, Hans Zimmer’s Thin Red Line score right away, but I’ll take lucky-bag synthesized mosquito buzzes that seemed to grace every low-budget Horror movie from the 80’s over studio music any time ! I love that Michael Mann commissioned Tangerine Dream to do an electronic score for The Keep, a film set in 40’s, and Cliff Martinez put together a great electronic score for Traffic – his score for Solaris was fantastic as well - beautiful tones and textures on that one…

 
At 28 May 2014 at 04:58 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

Yeah, I was the same Wes, I gradually grew out of it (the same way I grew out of being able to stomach real life atrocities and deaths) and every now and then i dip my toe into some piece of true crime and remember why I got out of it in the first place. I made a big step recently: I sold my copy of Killing for Culture to a good friend. I just realised I had no interest in re-reading it, as I remembered how bloody depressing it is. I have all or atleast seen everything I want from it, so it no longer holds any reference value to me anymore. Besides, I'd rather be trawling through Nightmare USA for a film rec...

Wes, thanks for the info on that, I too much prefer the Young score, in fact, I think it transforms the film greatly, in the same way Shore's work on The Fly did too. Fully agreed with you on the electronic score, I think we are in a rut now with the type of score you mentioned, as it's now being bastardised by the video games industry and suffering some serious stagnation in terms of 'hey, this is serious art, take it seriously!'. We need a bit more experimentation, and I too love the score to The Keep, which really makes the film work if you ask me! I was only watching a documentary, Alchemists of Sound (you've probably seen it) on the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, and the innovations in sound they made. Was great stuff, and one of the reasons I love going back to old 60's sci-fi films and TV!

 
At 28 May 2014 at 05:58 , Blogger Wes M said...

Yep, a very fine documentary – who was that guy who kept on popping up in the background during the interview segments ? A great touch nonetheless. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop absolutely deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Stockhausen and Pierre Schaeffer – those guys were really out on a limb there mapping all those uncharted electronic soundscapes. The Doctor Who theme is a seminal piece of electronica - I could hear that piece right now and still be amazed by it. Two other great electronic soundtracks come to mind – Forbidden Planet which is the daddy of them all in my opinion and The Andromeda Strain, a fantastic suite of sinister, chilly electronics – really worth seeking out. Some good electronic textures heard in Red Desert as well, and perhaps my most favorite off all is THX-1138, which is a colossal piece of sound-design… John, did you get the unofficial Enter the Void OST that was doing the ‘rounds – some enterprising fan assembled most if not all the tracks heard in that film, which is quite a feat - 30 odd tracks which include Radiophonic’s Delia Derbyshire, Throbbing Gristle (whose Hamburger Lady sounds like the inspiration for the main theme from Irreversible), and some vintage Russian synthesizer tones and drones from Coil’s ANS album. If you haven’t got it already, this edition of the soundtrack is well worth tracking down…

 
At 29 May 2014 at 01:35 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

Ha, I have no idea on who that guy was - I missed the first few minutes and thought it might have been explained there! Yeah, I was thinking of Forbidden Planet when I made the comment above, an incredible film and an excellent score. It has been far too long since I last watched THX1138 for me to remember the score, so I really must rectify that soon...

Wes, I haven't heard that unofficial OST, I remember going looking for an official release when the film came out but just couldn't find it. Sounds like a great collection of tracks though, even reading through the names you mentioned is giving me flashbacks to the mind bending opening credits...

 
At 10 August 2014 at 20:11 , Blogger Craig Edwards said...

You guys really know your stuff! All I can add - Anguish is a crazy damn movie.

 

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