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hybridmagazine.com - review by Jason Dunn


John Carpenter, I've written a couple of New Year's resolutions for you:

1. Stop making shitty movies.
2. Hire Dave Halverson to score next, great SF/Horror film.

Upon first hearing this CD I wondered: "Why exactly am I going to review this?" It listens like a resume for an aspiring composer who desires a career scoring film. But, I reasoned, there is a market for movie soundtracks, albeit a small one, so I'll give it a go even if this particular one has no actual film to accompany it.

It doesn't matter. Halverson's compositions bear the mark of an experienced master of the craft. I listened to this CD with a friend of mine, and when I asked him to visualize the sorts of film events that would suit the current track, we invariably envisioned the same things. To me, that is the mark of an effective film composer: the music should accentuate the events that unfold onscreen, and be relevant with regard to the viewer's prejudices regarding music, film, and mood.

From my intro, it can be inferred that Carpenter's film style could benefit greatly from Halverson's music (in much the same way that 1982's The Thing was given much better pacing (than if Carpenter had scored it himself as he often does) and more palpable tension by Sergio Leone's maestro, Ennio Morricone) but there are other applicable genres as well. Sometimes his tracks sounded like they came from a particularly seedy episode of Miami Vice or one of the subsequent Dirty Harry films like Magnum Force or Sudden Impact. Some of them could work in mind-bending SF films too, the kind that leave you in a metaphorical (or metaphysical) haze upon exiting the building (presumably because the music itself already has that effect).

Halverson claims that the music contains electro-rock, atmospheric, jazz, experimental elements, abstraction and darkness. Which is another way of saying that he threw in everything but the kitchen sink. And let's not forget that Wurlitzer… (“The Fair”) I would also add moody, mood-altering and ambient to that list of adjectives.

I would recommend this CD simply on its technical merits, and its ability to draw the listener into its microcosmic world, but film producers are the ones who really need to check it out. I even uttered a Keanuesque "Whoa!" upon hearing "Erstwhile Horns,” a short piece that sounds as though it had been lifted out of Slava Tsukerman's obscure, 1982, sci-fi cult-classic Liquid Sky.

Fragments of What
is a considerable divergence from Dave Halverson's other band Trance Lucid, and may not exactly appeal to fans of the former. From what I've heard of his other two albums, FoW is more significant and creative. Jazz-rock, like any closed-loop musical genre, is somewhat degenerate, and hardcore genre fans tend to have stunted musical palates. Oft times it requires stepping outside of a familiar musical paradigm for a musician to truly discover the depths of his or her talent.

Despite my initial hesitations, or resistance to writing about this as a listening piece, I actually quite enjoy it now. I feel like I have a driving sense of purpose as this dark soundtrack for my life plays out-- on my way to buy more milk and toilet paper.

Hey, even Dirty Harry had to go grocery shopping...

- JD