Andrew Bonazelli: DTV (Soundtrack)

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Andrew Bonazelli: DTV (Soundtrack)
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Andrew Bonazelli: DTV (Soundtrack)
Electronica, Industrial, Punk, Stoner Metal
Handshake Inc.
March 30th, 2012
Release length: 58:12
DTV, the latest novel from Andrew Bonazelli, was an interesting read. While it may not have been one of the best homages to the hayday of Action films, it still got the point across and had you caring about the characters involved. But, much like any film, this novel has it’s own soundtrack, more than likely for the sake of authenticity than any other reason. Composed of fourteen different offerings, it also becomes a throwback to those glorious days, but while supposedly inspired by this novel, many of the songs clearly have nothing to do with it. But, do these covers of other movie scores really pose that much of an obstacle?

Have you ever watched a bad movie that referenced a good movie or two, or three, or ten? Well, DTV didn’t necessarily do this in the book, though other famous real life actors were mentioned in a manner that would benefit the characters future careers. The soundtrack to this story, however, is just one reference after another. This companion piece contains fourteen tracks that total a little more than fifty eight minutes, composed largely of modern underground bands or artists covering movie themes. These range from The Terminator, Predator, The Running Man, Out for Justice, and many others. This also treads into bands such as Cure and Black Sabbath, which is far more understandable for the concept of a soundtrack to a new release than redoing pre-existing themes to commercially successful or cult hit Action flicks. There are three original compositions by Total Fucking Destruction, Dirt Farmer, and Matthew Widener, and these, along with the two aforementioned band covers, greatly make up the better portions of this effort, largely due to feeling more unique to DTV and even the fictionalThe Turnabout movie than anything else.

“Lovegrinder” by Total Fucking Destruction is a pretty quick eighties style Rock song with a little more edge that quickly treads into some Grindcore style material. The atmosphere is perfect for the time period DTV is set in, and the more upbeat tone of the song with the blasting passages really amp up the energy that would commonly associate with an Action flick. “Knife on my Woman” isn’t exactly the strongest original track, but it’s largely due to the really raw analog production quality that sounds as though it were ripped from a beat-up cassette tape. Either way, this early Punk Rock track soaked with rebellious attitude is really catchy in the long run. The simpler chords again bring a bit of an fun vibe to the song, and the chaotic passage around the minute forty mark that grinds into a breakdown feels natural to the progression. This will definitely have your head bobbing along until it fades out, but the crippled tape quality does end up leaving a little more to be desired if you want to break out into your favorite dancing moves.

One thing that the soundtrack to DTV really lacks is atmosphere for the eighties and nineties that this book is meant to center around. Instead, the many classic themes are given a modern touch with a rough or generally raw production quality that does not suit the intended time period, the format, or even the established demographic most of the time. In fact, what made these stand out so well in those early times is not there. That rather sleek and sometimes haunting Synth/Electronic presence simply doesn’t exist, substituted by heavy distortions and modern instruments. However, “Theme for The Turnabout” really grabs the listener with how this effort should have sounded in the first place, as well as actually makes you want to see this non-existant entry into the Action movie world. The simple keyboards sound somewhat similar to .midi file performances here and there, largely in the louder notes, and it really carries an empowering, glorious feel that films like later Rocky entries might use, all the while feeling as though it was as technologically current as possible for the proper era the book largely pays homage to. The electronic drum beats have a slight echo to them that really gives way to an analog recording process, and the additional explosion or gun fire effects that pop up here and there in the background really sound great in their subtle appearances.

All of this is the kind of presence that makes so many of these original themes so memorable. Unfortunately, none of the covered ones really fit. “Burn” by Wolvhammer is a nice Cure cover that goes off into a bit of an altered state musically, and the more aggressive “Rock n Roll Doctor” is just fun and energetic from start to finish. Both of these work off the more modern production without getting too heavy, or out of place for the subject matter. This is where it definitely should have drawn a line. “Intro/Bakersfield” tries to establish that early sound with the keyboards and a rawer quality, and in a sense it works, but definitely feels far more suited to an early Slasher flick like Halloween. “The Terminator Theme” does work in a noir Dick Tracy kind of way, replacing those electronic elements with a human performance on a saxophone. It’s a good intepretation, and makes for one of the few themes here that works for the style, but the passion and emotion needed with a saxophone performance in general is not there, thus not really enhancing that Noir vibe. It also ends rather abruptly, which is just greatly disheartening since it has the potential to build a little more, or just last a little longer. “Feel the Impact” by Lauderdale also works out a bit with that Synth push, boasting a hint of Hip Hop sometimes common for urban Action entries, but the way it’s executed here ends up sounding comical, and concluding with a clip of the film’s trailer doesn’t help the cause either. The “Predator Main Title” by Graf Orlock is a nice performance, but again it feels very modern and not really something that would accomodate an Action film of today or yesterday in any sense. As a stand alone song, the blend of crushing Doom Metal main passages and faster march-like Death Metal snares and faster chords here and there sounds great, but it just doesn’t fit what the song was created and used for.

Overall, DTV was an enjoyable book, but its soundtrack really doesn’t work for the film. This is the equivalent of asking 311 and The Dave Matthews Band to pen a soundtrack for The Last House on the Left or Snuff, or even having Cannibal Corpse or Six Feet Under record new material for The Expendables or a modern Grindhourse style Action film. Overall, the original compositions really sound good aside the poor audio quality to “Knife on my Woman,” and the two covers are really enjoyable and feel appropriate for the subject matter of the novel itself. However, everything else is really iffy, if not just insulting. Once great themes have been reimagined out of their respected genres to completely different ones, and as a movie fan of the era and style that DTV is trying to portray, it feels as if these bands are completely unfamiliar with the atmosphere and tone commonly associated with them, and tackled everything the wrong way. While it’s far from unapproachable, this is still well worth a quick spin, though one time through will have you picking your favorites and skipping the many others.

01. Wolvhammer: Burn (Cure cover) – 6:19
02. Stomach Earth: Intro/Bakersfield (The Running Man) – 4:23
03. Majeure: One Night in Brooklyn (Out for Justice) – 3:18
04. The Atlas Moth: Black Trees (Hooray for Earth cover) – 7:06
05. Steve Moore: The Terminator Theme (The Terminator) – 1:14
06. Graf Orlock: Predator Main Title (Predator) – 3:00
07. Lauderdale: Feel the Impact (Double Impact) – 1:17
08. Old Head: Rock n Roll Doctor (Black Sabbath cover) – 3:01
09. Great Falls: Robocop Battle Theme (Robocop) – 10:03
10. Total Fucking Destruction: Lovegrinder – 1:36
11. The Austerity Program: Game of Death (Game of Death) – 7:03
12. Early Graves: Anvil of Crom (Conan the Barbarian) – 3:11
13. Dirt Farmer: Knife on my Woman – 3:13
14. Matthew Widener: Theme from The Turnabout – 3:28
Overall Score: 4/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Handshake Inc..