Hello you. Great excitement this week, not only because it’s time for the first Near Mint Show of 2017, but mostly because for this latest episode of Resonance FM‘s number 1 show devoted to the joys of obsessive record collecting, I’m handing the keys over to fabulous New York based label The Ship to Shore Phonograph Company. Label boss Aaron Hamel has been kind enough to put together an exclusive guest mix for the show, hand-picked from their back-catalogue of cult film music, video game soundtracks and all manner of delightful weirdness in-between, reissued in deluxe vinyl editions – plus the odd wax cylinder. You are in for a treat!
Yes, it is indeed an embarrassment of riches, but the obvious place to start is a cut from one of their earliest releases (and the album that brought them onto my radar), a blood-red vinyl issue of the soundtrack to Manos: The Hands Of Fate. Notice I said ‘issue’ rather than ‘reissue’, because frankly I’m not sure many other labels would have considered giving this ‘brave experiment’ of a movie the OST treatment up to now. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of falling into the hands of Manos, I can reveal that it was a low-budget, low-talent, low-everything 1966 atrocity made as a bet by a Texas fertiliser salesman. Punishingly hard to watch, appallingly acted and bafflingly edited, it makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like 2001: A Space Odyssey; yet if imbibed for long enough it’s becomes oddly, surreally entertaining.
What passes for a plot is a riff on that old horror staple of a family on vacation losing their way, with our heroes in this instance ending up at a remote desert ranch populated by Torgo, a creepy henchman with enormous knees and ‘The Master’, who looks not unlike a sort of satanic Bob Carolgees (ask your Dad). What we can say for sure about the film is that the fertiliser salesman won his bet. And that the soundtrack of skronky jazz and slightly skewed torch-songs is not without its lo-fi charms. Other soundtracks in the mix include the delightfully creepy main title themes from George A Romero’s Martin and Frank Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker. I have to confess to not having been exposed to either of these films as yet (and having read online synopsis I’m not sure I would wish to be), but the soundtracks do make me curious for more – plus both must surely be blockbusters in comparison with Manos.
As well as vintage film soundtracks, the label also specialises in archive video game music and the show features tracks from Taito house band ZUNTATA’s Arcade Classics Vol. 1 and Konami Kukeiha Club’s soon to be released soundtrack to the Sega CD game SNATCHER. Finally, things are brought right up to date with a track from Thomas Happ’s soundtrack to his own Axiom Verge video game, a recent release very much modelled on late 80s / early 90s side-scrolling platform adventures such as Metroid. Just as the graphics and gameplay take inspiration from the pixelated games of yore, the soundtrack also plays with the pallet of 8 bit bleeps and chirps beloved of that era and the subsequent ‘chiptune’ movement; but toughened with additional bass weight and additional shades of techno and dubstep over the top. Nicely done, Mr. Happ!
You can keep up to date with the label’s activities by visiting their website Shiptoshoremedia.com and I for one am trying very hard to resist the temptation to head there right now and throw $$$ around like it’s going out of fashion. Thanks to Aaron and everyone at the label for treating us to such an awesome mix and I’ll hopefully be welcoming them back on the show before very long. I’m pretty sure The Master would approve – isn’t that right, Torgo?