CD Review

Soundtrack - "Josh's Blair Witch Mix"

by Dan Century

Josh's Blair Witch MixHave you seen the Blair Witch Project yet? Of course you have! Unless you were molting under a rotting log in the woodlands of Virginia you definitely went to see this movie…and if you haven't, chances are you'll rent it. I have friends that hated this movie and thought it was "the worst piece of shit they've ever seen," but I also have friends who saw it as many as 5 times in the theater and bought every piece of merchandise they could get their shaking hands around. I know people who were terrified by this movie, and I know people who mocked every minute of it. Did it scare me? No.

I saw a copy of a "screener copy" of the film at a party in cosmopolitan Edison, New Jersey. By the end of the film a few people looked queasy, at least one guy couldn't stop laughing, but most people were "glad they saw it, but glad they didn't pay $8.50 to see it." My opinion: a movie made for 40 thousand and marketed for 40 million could never live up to the hype. I'm glad I saw it, as it gave my friends a good months worth of material to spice our conversations with.

Josh's Blair Witch Mix is a clever way to market a soundtrack: it's a mix of songs allegedly found on a tape in the character's car. Crime scene evidence re-mastered onto CD for your listening pleasure. One major problem with the soundtrack is the release dates of several the songs. She's Unreal by Meat Beat Manifesto, Haunted by Type O Negative and God is God by Laibach were all released in 1996, two years after "the tape was found." Now there's a trick! I also can't figure how Josh recorded dialog samples from the movie onto the tape, but maybe I'm nit-picking. "Suspend your disbelief, buy the record, suspend your disbelief, buy the record." I will obey.

Aside from what you think of the movie, or the date discrepancies mentioned before, Josh's mix tape is a good album - not very good, not great or even awesome - just good. Most of the sounds are of the "Gothic/Industrial" variety, with many major artists making the cut. If I was making a mix tape for a long road trip with a few people I didn't know that well, I would have chosen less obscure songs by the artists and probably more upbeat songs too…especially not the final track, The Cellar, which would be inaudible above the car's engine - but hey, that's me, not Josh.

I'm glad that the producers of the movie chose to use the artists they did rather than a selection of "today's hottest alternative artists" or other top 40 feces, which is typically the case. It's my hope that a new generation of kiddies will catch on to great bands like Puppy, PIL and Laibach. There are also multimedia goodies for the computer freaks.

Let's go to the "tape"…

Josh's mix begins with a segment of movie dialog which tells the story of the "legend of the Blair Witch," setting the mood for the music…

Lydia Lunch: Gloomy Sunday
Soft, beaten, dying, slow, short, final and jazzy. The strained voice of a beaten angel surrendering to despair. Brass horns and piano dominate this piece like sad tears and the moans of dying creatures. A suicide note set to song. I always had a lot of admiration for Lydia. She's always been a fantastic poet and a passionate performer, too brutally honest to be accepted by the main stream. I also love punk rock chicks with crazy wild hair cuts and she's one of them.

Public Image Ltd.: The Order Of Death
You've heard this one a thousand times before: "this is what you want, this is what you get." Pure post punk "Death Disco" gloom from mister X-punk himself, Johnny Lydon. Gloom, nihilism, disgust all wrapped around echoing guitars and a soulless beat. The best track in Josh's mix - an undeniable classic.

Skinny Puppy: Draining Faces
Eighties Skinny Puppy could do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. A collage of sounds: vocal samples, rushes of keyboards, hisses, moans, raw robotic rhythms, faint melodies, sounds of dying life, percussive falling metal. Four minutes of juxtaposed noise fragments, until at the last moment when it seems to come together as a "song." Not their best track, but Puppy nonetheless.

Bauhaus: Kingdom's Coming
Bauhaus owes a lot to Bowie, and this song it straight from the Space Oddity book of how to write songs. You won't find better musicianship on this compilation, or within the genre, however short, not necessarily miserable and not amongst their best songs.

The Creatures: Don't Go To Sleep Without Me
Exotic and rare melodic percussion like a Martin Denny song. Siouxie's voice sultry and mysterious as ever. The Creatures, a.k.a. Siouxie Sioux and Budgie, are a great band; maybe they're not as good as the full blown Siouxie and the Banshees, but this song is proof that they can hold their own.

Laibach: God Is God
Wickedly bizarre orchestral thrash metal industrial, about, er, um God?. Life is Life is Laibach's best song. God is God isn't. I love this band, I really do, but they have dozens of better songs. Dozens. An awful choice in terms of a mix tape, especially following the Creatures song, unless Josh was trying to shock everyone in the car. Makes no sense here on the comp. Another of the 1996 songs.

The next track is a sample from the film: "Oh my god, what is that? What is that?" Put it on your answering machine.

Afghan Whigs: Beware
The song: Proof that "Goths" can't live on bread and water alone, or Gothic/Industrial alone. Almost everyone has a REM or Iron Maiden tape hidden somewhere. The Afghan Whigs kind of got lost in the grunge/alt.rock explosion of the early 90's, but from that era of fuzzy guitar pop you won't find more honest, coherent lyrics.

Front Line Assembly: Laughing Pain
Another song from 1996. Mechanical rhythms with complimenting guitars which sound too much like the guitar from NIN's Terrible Lie, I'm sorry to say. Still, it's beautifully recorded, with some of the best sounding electronics around today. If you swallow anything Industrial you'll like this song. It has all the clichés.

Type O Negative: Haunted
Does anyone take this band seriously? Does Type O Negative take themselves seriously? Does anyone remember Carnivore? A whopping 10 minutes long of metallic dirge and Pete Steele's ominous tortured Dracula vocals. Everyday is Halloween for Pete.

Meat Beat Manifesto: She's Unreal
Another of the 1996 tracks. I stopped listening to Meat Beat around 1992 after they lost their edge. Their earlier stuff released on Play It Again Sam or Wax Trax was groundbreaking, phenomenal stuff. Pick up 99% if you can. This marginally forgettable trip-hop following owing a lot to their slower and boring recent efforts and stuff like Portishead and Massive Attack. They could be so much better.

Tones On Tail: Movement Of Fear
Daniel Ashe's Bauhaus side project. Driven by a gloomy bass, assorted unidentifiable noises and Daniels cold, direct vocals. An exotic sax placed throughout the song would bring the soundtrack full circle if this was the last song.

The final movie sample: "I'm so sorry…because it is my project…we're going to die out here."

Antonio Cora: The Cellar
If you've seen the BWP you already know how important The Cellar is to the film. Well, Antonio Cora did a good job of making a bit of noise that sounds just like a cellar - hissing pipes and air ducts, mysterious creeks and bumps. I can barely (just barely) contain myself - just how did Antonio Cora make a song called The Cellar, Josh found this dude's record, chose the song The Cellar as the last song on his tape, just like how the movie ends in the cellar? This is way too creepy. Put your ear four inches away from your home heating system and you'll get the same effect.

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