FIVE YEARS OF NASTIES

Five years ago, April 27th, 2017, I released NASTIES, my third album of cinematic music.

I had been reading J. Blake Fichera’s SCORED TO DEATH: CONVERSATIONS WITH HORROR’S GREATEST COMPOSERS whilst on holiday and when I got home, I dived deep into the music of Goblin and Fabio Frizzi. I had heard their works before, of course, through George Romero, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci films, but I ventured further into their film/discographies than I ever had before.

I loved their prog/orchestral stylings, and several composers in the book had talked about how they compose by just fannying around on the keyboard until they hit the right notes, much the same as myself. I came away inspired.

I had already started to compose a score for an old script I had written in high school called “The Evil Dead’s Chainsaw Massacre” (as original as it sounds) before I had left for the holiday. I went back to it, going hard on the synths and grooves. Soon, I was done, but wanted to continue. I dug out a script from film school, “Zombies on a Train” (shockingly, they didn’t put it into production) and scored that, using a different theme and sound pallette from the first score. Finally, I script I had written just a year or two before, an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Hound,” inspired the final score. This one was really my big Frizzi tribute, going for a melancholic theme with the prog rhythms. The whole thing didn’t take very long. The holiday was in November, I’d completed the album by Christmas.

I’d heard about the $99 Orchestra, where one could buy a recording slot with a 30 piece orchestra relatively cheaply. I could afford to record three minutes with them (after a couple of generous donations from a spontaneous, ill-organised pseudo-crowdfunding campaign) and arranged a suite of music from one of the scores. That was recorded January 30th, 2017 in Portugal. I tuned in remotely, but my connection went down and I missed part of the session. When I got the recordings, I discovered one part of the suite had been performed at the wrong tempo. This was weeks after the session so there was no way to re-record it, so I ended up having to slow it down in Logic to the correct speed. It’s slathered in additional synths anyway, so I don’t think it’s noticable, but I managed to record the stream of the rest of the session.

The $99 Orchestra rebranded as Musiveral and expanded into a much more professional operation. I used them to record some cues with 22 strings for HEADS-A-POPPIN’! in 2020 (although again, I could only afford three minutes).

So now I had three scores, how do I tie them together as an album?

I’ve always been fascinated with the Video Nasties panic in the early 1980s. The freaks who campaigned for it, the idiots who legislated it, the victims caught up in it (my dad, running a video shop at the time, being the first to be prosecuted in the UK) and the lingering effects for UK home video for the next 15 years. I always thought there was a good comedy in it (DOING THE NASTIES, coming at some point from Untamed Aggression Productions) but with a lot of Italian films on the Nasties list and my inspiration from Italian composers, it seemed like a good theme to tie it all together.

A quick google translate of the titles later (“Chainsaw Massacre” being renamed “Cult of the Demons,” a less embarrassing title), I had to design a cover. THE EVIL DEAD was considered (unbelievably) the number one nasty, so it seemed like an obvious candidate for a riff…

… but, while not prosecuted as a Video Nasty, I do enjoy DAWN OF THE DEAD (and it did have BBFC troubles of its own)…

Which to choose? WHICH TO CHOOSE!? Ah, fuck it.

I edited a promotional trailer, released April 5th, 2017…

… and then, NASTIES was born, uploaded to Bandcamp on this day, five years ago, with the CD coming a little later on Amazon.

I never set out to be a composer. I never paid attention in music class, I still don’t know what a chord is. I loved film music, but had accepted someone else was gonna have to score my films. Somehow, I managed to start doing it myself at a competent level, culminating in this, perhaps my finest work. While I’m generally pretty happy with the films I’ve directed (some more than others), there’s always something that didn’t quite pan out the way I’d hoped. A dodgy effect here, a rough edit there, something that didn’t quite live up to what I’d imagined.

With NASTIES, I couldn’t be happier. I love the music, I love the art, I think it’s the peak of my creative output so far.

Sadly, Amazon closed its MOD service so the CD is no longer available. However, you can download the album at Bandcamp. I hope you do, it’s pretty sweet.

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