Elizabeth Aubrey
The Battles
The Chamber Strings
The Ex
Rosa Chance Well
Señor Coconut
VA: Charm (Soundtrack)
VA: Rarewerks
Wow and Flutter
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Various Artists
Original Soundtrack: Charm

click for Real Audio Sound Clip

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I love it when a plan comes together. Underground filmmakers Sadie Shaw and Sarah Reed, also members of the Kill Rocks Stars band The Need, have made an indie horror film called Charm. The press kit promises a film about "The destructive nature of relationships both friendly and familial" -- but from the trailer included on the enhanced CD, weíre promised all the things we really care about: attractive young people, nudity, blood and lots of freaking out. And duh! Cool music from hip bands!

The soundtrack is a compilation of mostly Olympia/Kill Rock Stars all stars, collected and engineered by dark lord Tim Green (from Drag Cityís new metal moneymakers The Fucking Champs). The sounds include indie pop (Aislers set, 27 Faces), techno (Xtinct, Concentrick), country (Face Family Players, Juanita Family), Dr. Demento weirdness (The Need) and incidental experimental freakiness provided by Tim Green and his fellow "Fuckers".

I love the fact that many of the acts composed music specifically for this film -- which, of course, could lead to some unexpected stylistic turns. For example, the second song, by garage popsters The Aislers Set, is a sedate, atonal piano piece performed solo by Amy Linton. Luckily, itís great, and my newfound love for the Aislers Set is again validated when they return to form with "Attraction Action Reaction", possibly the coolest song theyíve ever done. The Face Family Players offer a morphine-induced, Deliverance-style version of "Youíve really got a hold on me" that hints at more than a little bit of the insanity to come. The Juanita Family play a breathtakingly beautiful version of "I told a lie to my Heart", harmonizing over a quietly strummed acoustic guitar, sounding like Freakwater at their most sincere. Then comes the noise hell. Think of the Hell album by the Residents. Then comes some crazy mod dance pop from the 27 Faces. Sound like a strange, disorientating listen?

This may not be coherent, but it is cohesive.

But thatís the nature of horror; itís all about sensation. You make someone feel at ease, then out of nowhere the devil comes spitting high-hell fire in your eyes. Heart pumps. Slight unease settles in for the long run. Then the Replikants come in with a bed of fluffy sound, not unlike Fripp and Enoís "Wind on Water". This formula repeats a couple times, until the rest of the album gradually unravels into pure lo-fi madness. Iím guessing this represents the "alienation and isolation" that the main character experiences over the course of the film. The listener begins to feel it too...the anger, the annoyance, the uneasiness, the freaking out (but whereís the nudity?). And this is a good thing, especially if you take it for the B-movie soundtrack that it is. Horror never made me so happy.

-- Ed Anderson
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