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Sunday, April 16, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Least Worst of Michael Perilstein

The Least Worst of Michael Perilstein
Music by Michael Perilstein
Perseverance Records PRD 008
26 Tracks 75:50 mins

I seem to recall first encountering Michael Perilstein as an eager young composer promoting his work on Deadly Spawn at a John Barry Appreciation Society Convention in London in the '70s. Well, a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then - 30 years or so's worth, and it's only now that I have the opportunity of reacquainting myself with his music, thanks to this collection from Perseverance, which features selections from the composer's film scores, as well as tracks from concept albums he has released, all packaged with a booklet that is anything but conventional. You won't find any serious musical analysis here. Instead, there is the cartoon strip "Adventures of the Composer"(with R.J. Sundseth, III helping out with the artwork here), "Madame Poo-Poo's 13 Lucky and Amazing Psych(ot)ic Predictions," "Near Facts" and even a very strange "About the Composer," involving a conversation between Big Ben and the composer, which maybe even took place at the time of the JBAS Convention I was talking about. All very surreal.
As for the music, well, there's a lot of it and, whilst I do not normally warm to electronic music (which basically this is), this is at least for the most part melodic, and a number of the tracks I actually quite liked, particularly the beat-driven rock of "Retro-Active" from the album God Dares You To Buy This!, the menacing theme, go-go dance track "Dancing as the Music Plays," and the badass rocker "Motor Psycho" from Where Evil Lives; and the hypnotic and compulsive "The Garbage in Your Brain" also from God Dares You To Buy This!, as is the rhythmic mover "Malice in Wonderland," which appears to be inspired at the outset by the composer's old buddy Big Ben.
"The Mentality of Punching People for a Living" from Muhammad Ali: A Twilight Portrait is another interesting track, starting off to a skipping-rope beat before speeding up with electric guitar featured. The same instrument leads the theme from Master Race From Mars, which also features a couple of romantic tracks, the more substantial of which is "Romance For Martian Lesbians." "Chance Trance" is a steady, slightly menacing, mover, featured on the album Godzilla Vs. Your Mother, but also used in the film Winterbeast. My final favourite is "Honky-Tonk Hooker Blues," which, played by keyboard and electric guitar, pretty much does what it says on the label, from the cult classic Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. Along the way, there are also tracks from Deadly Spawn of course, as well as from the album Elephants Gliding On Ice. Apparently another concept album The Rats Of Paris is on the way from Perseverance, and I await this with interest.


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