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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Brian - Three Impressions of DUNE

Frank Herbert's Dune is one of my favorite books, and still the greatest science fiction novel ever written in my opinion. I've read it at least 5 times in my life. It has a tapestry as rich as the Lord Of the Rings. Actually, it's better, since Dune is infinitely more readable than Tolkien. And this whole obsession with the story started when I was a kid....
When I was in fifth grade, I got really sick at school. I was sent home. As I was lying on the couch - thrashing around in a boiling fever - I watched the movie Dune for the first time. Witches, nausea, the Spice, heat, dizziness, desert prophecy, sandworms.... it all had a profound effect on me. Within a few years, I'd read all of the original books.
This post is three separate pieces of music inspired by Dune. You'll find it runs all over the musical spectrum....
Klaus Schulze - Dune

You ever seen Jodorowsky's Dune, that documentary about the director of El Topo's aborted attempt at making a film version? For music, Jodorowsky was gonna enlist Floyd and Magma for the soundtrack. Ever since I found this album, I've wondered if this music by Tangerine Dream's Schulze was prospectively meant for the film. It's just a theory...

It's really good. Spacey synths, intermittent percussion, disembodied choral voices... it actually sounds quite a bit like the actual score that was made for the film 5 years later. The other song, "Shadows Of Ignorance", is good too, but it's a little self-consciously synth-y to my ears. This disc is pretty rare, though it looks like it's getting reissued in the near future.
David Matthews - Dune

First off, it's not that Dave Matthews, OK? This guy was an arranger and bandleader in the 70's. I believe he worked for James Brown, among others. This is one of those space-themed funk/disco albums from the latter part of the decade, along the lines of that Star Wars album by Meco that I posted months ago. This disc even has versions of two SW themes cuz, hell, everyone was doing it! Also contains a rather tepid cover of "Space Oddity" and... the theme from Silent Running?

But the reason why this is here is the Dune tracks, right? Ok, well....take "Muad'dib" for example: tasty bass, disco strings, wakka wakka guitar, a sax beating the melody into your head like latter-day Weather Report. How all this is meant to invoke the hellish world of "Arrakis", or the powerful "Bene Gesserit" witches, or the everpresent threat of "Sandworms", I don't know. It just seems like any other well-played disco funk, so it fits right in with a lot of what I've posted lately.
Dreaming Of Sandworms: The Dune Suite

This last one is something Jonder and I came up with. About three months ago, I was trying to put together a compilation of songs from David Lynch movies. Inspired by the Eraserhead score, I thought of using bits of dialogue from his films between the music. Jonder had the great idea of editing the pieces together into suites. And while the rest of this "anthology" is currently on hold, one thing we really ran with was Dune....

I remember we spent three days over a weekend sending a flurry of emails and attached mp3s back and forth. Somehow, consumed with inspiration, we hammered this thing into shape. I may have mapped it out, but Jonder was the man running the faders as it were, so it's as much his as mine. It's about 24 minutes long, divided into two 12 minute suites. There's plenty of HQ video clips from the movie on YouTube - though not enough for my liking - and we spliced their audio together with pieces of Toto's score. Yes, I said Toto...

What we end up with is kinda like a radio play, or a shorthand impression of the film. The basics of the conflict are laid out, along with a few choice speeches and some spacey ambient interludes. Near the end, we even used an unused part of the score ("Paul Kills Feyd") along with the movie sound effects, weaving in and out. One other cool thing this can show you musos out there is the amazing sound design of the film. Alan R. Splet was still working with David Lynch, and he did a great job with this movie. Spaceships thrumm, man....

Really, this is pretty cool and Jonder and I are proud of it. The muse seized us by the neck with this one, it came together so well. Please give it a listen.

As a completely unrelated comedy bonus, here's another great album by my man Mitch.


  1. Dune Suite

    Klaus Schulze - Dune

    David Matthews - Dune


  2. Schulze also has a long track entitled "Frank Hebert" on his "X" album. If you enjoyed Dune you'd most likely enjoy that as well. I think it's a little better and has swell live drums to match all that synth (but no cool treated cello like Dune).

    1. "Herbert", not "Hebert", obviously...

    2. From an interview with Schulze:

      Q: "Dune", the movie, and Frank Herbert.

      KS: There was a vague offer to do the soundtrack for the movie, but it never realised and I don't know why. But I played and recorded two long tracks (as so often in my album history) and called the album DUNE. The cover shows a pic not from the DUNE but from another famous SciFi movie. At this time (and before), I was a huge fan of science fiction stories. And of course I knew then and I still know the big names in SciFi, such as Frank Herbert. I don't remember that I ever have heard the actual film soundtrack (or if, I have forgotten).

  3. If anyone listens to the "Dune Suite" please take a moment to tell us what you think of it! No one has heard it other than Brian and me. This is its online premiere!