• George A. Romero's Martin (Original Soundtrack)

    Released by: Ship To Shore Phonograph Company
    Released on: May 19th, 2015
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    The first official vinyl release of George Romero’s Martin since the film hit theaters in 1978 comes courtesy of Ship To Shore Phonograph Company. Composed by Donald Rubinstein, the music works really well on its own. Obviously intended to complement Romero’s visuals, there’s still enough of a unique sound here that fans of instrumental work and soundtrack collections should have no trouble enjoying this for what it is.

    And what is it? Well, it’s a full length record full of some bizarre but effectively atmospheric, even haunting, instrumental music. Depending on how well you know the film it was composed for you may or may not get nostalgic for that picture as this plays. The music itself is quite eclectic, much like the film itself. When you think of vampire films you probably think that the music accompanying them will reflect the gothic tendencies of the genre. Think back to the scores that graced the Christopher Lee starring Hammer Films productions for example – they typically featured lush orchestration and very epic sounding music. Rubinstein’s work on Martin is different. The first of his collaborations with Romero (he would later score Knightriders and Bruiser and also handle the main theme for Tales From The Darkside), here he passes over the standard gothic sounding music in favor of what is essentially dark jazz. This is a much more modern sounding selection of music than you’d expect – and it works beautifully.

    The tracks that make up the soundtrack to Martin play out on this LP as follows:

    Side One:

    The Calling (Main Title) / Train Attack / Phased / Tat Cuda’s House / Martin At The Butcher Shop / Antique Chase With Villagers / Garlic Chase #6 / Martin Goes to The City / Christina Leaves / Halloween / Modern Vamp

    Side Two:

    Chant / The Calling (Reprise) / Braddock/Chase / Back To Me / Crawling Sequence / Martin Martin Martin / Marie – Interlude / Evocation / Fly By Night / Exorcism / Classical Funk / Stake, Well Done!

    It’s an effectively weird selection of music composed for an effectively weird film. The piercing female vocals over the main title get to you immediately, the piano and strings echoing the tone and building to a strong crescendo. It’s a great piece and a fantastic way to open the record. From there, we get a few shorter pieces meant to enhance specific scenes – Train Attack, Phased, Tat Cuda’s House – all do what they do well enough at under a minute each. Martin At The Butcher Shop is lengthier, almost two minutes, and it’s a rare upbeat track on the album, it has an unusually bouncy rhythm to it and a strange lower end that, when listened to away from the movie, almost sounds like it could have been written for a kid’s movie or a cartoon. Antique Chase With Villagers and Garlic Chase #6 are shorter, scene specific pieces and again have an avant garde/free jazz vibe going on in a big way. Halloween stands out as one of the more morose, pensive tracks on the record, beginning with a single piano note playing played repetitively while what sounds like a violin wails or cries overtop. It builds from there, louder and stronger and more intense – it’s creepy stuff.

    Highlights on the second side include Chant – which, not surprisingly, sounds like a chant. Cymbals wash over the track at first, a bass drum pounding a simple rhythm, the vocals move up in the mix from there. The Calling incorporates elements of the main theme nicely. Braddock/Chase uses more traditional jazz sounds to create a lighter tone, while Back To Me, the second longest track on the second side at over three minutes in length, continues with that mellower sound, working in different layers of instrumentation. Things get darker again with Crawling Sequence and Martin Martin Martin but by the time we get to Fly By Night we’re back to lighter themes again, piano and strings playing off of one another quite nicely. Exorcism / Classical Funk is a stranger track, a weird sort of vibrato effect on the playing sets it apart when it starts but then there’s some random plucking and picking with even more random woodwinds and piano behind it – it’s pretty nutty actually. The whole thing finishes up with Stake, Well Done!, ending the soundtrack on a more pensive, somber note.

    All in all, it’s a pretty great selection of work. Rubenstein’s creativity really shines here, he’s created a very unorthodox soundtrack for what anyone who has seen Martin already knows is a very unorthodox movie, particularly when gauged by the standards of the vampire genre. Other horror movies have worked in jazz elements before and since, but Rubenstein’s compositions and the playing of the various musicians used here really stands out.

    This vinyl release also features brand new original artwork from Brandon Schaefer and liner notes from composer Donald Rubinstein and star John Amplas that are tucked away inside the sleeve along with the vinyl itself. Limited edition variants are set as 2,000 copies on vinyl with 500 on Marble "Blood" Red (via Light In The Attic domestically and through One Way Static in the UK), 500 on "Transylvanian Flashback" Black And White Swirl (through Ship To Shore PhonoCo’s official webstore).