Imagine if there were a long-forgotten fantasy horror film from the late ’80s – we’ll call it Sunset Blood, for sake of argument. In my head it stars Kurt Russell, obviously. Imagine it was rediscovered, and someone took its undoubtedly epic, synth-laden soundtrack and remixed it for modern sensibilities. That would be pretty cool, right? Bad news: Sunset Blood doesn’t exist. But the good news? Starcadian has remixed the soundtrack anyway.
The 30-year-old Brooklynite has been working on the project since he was 16. Taking inspiration from the works of such legends as Alan Silvestri, James Horner and John Carpenter, he’s on a one-man mission to provide us with a suitable antidote to the bland and uninspired tropes of modern film scoring. It’s not a mission he takes lightly, either – as well as coming up with the soundtrack to an imaginary film, he’s also produced various CG trailers, character biographies and concept art.
Suffice to say this strikes me as a pretty great idea. I mean, presumably somebody has had the good sense to remix the Big Trouble In Little China soundtrack by now? If not: get on it. Right now. The real question is not, of course, whether it’s a good idea, but whether it’s any good in practice. On that front, the answer is also a definite yes. Like a lot of ’80s culture, it manages to be both brilliant and a little ridiculous. Think of Flash Gordon - yes it’s camp and silly, but it also features Brian Blessed in gold hot-pants, and that’s genius.
It’s certainly helped by the fact that the sound is intended as a modern reinterpretation of the non-existent original; after all, culture has moved on a little since then. There are some very sleek production touches that put me in mind of Justice and Daft Punk - French house being a scene where ’80s references are welcomed like old friends – but there’s the added benefit of an original angle on the whole venture. And it sure as hell is danceable – like M83 by way of Frankie Goes To Hollywood on crack. What really makes it, though, is the song-writing; Starcadian set out to make music with a narrative arc, and he’s managed.
A case in point is that, of the four tracks up on Soundcloud, the vocal-led, slow-building “HE^RT” is the most memorable. That’s no criticism of the others; “Girls Of Midnight” in particular is a banger that comfortably competes with “DVNO” for most outstanding use of off-beat slap bass samples. But for all the infectious hooks of the more explicitly dancefloor-friendly numbers, it’s the melodies of “HE^RT” that have remained firmly stuck in my head for the past week. And it’s that which makes me believe that the finished album, when it arrives, will be a treat.
Until then, you can stream some tasters below. Go look out your old VHS copy of The Thing (everyone has one, don’t they?) and put it on in the background. Discover how much fun it is to bop around to images of a giant mouth opening in a guy’s chest, and eating another guy’s arms. Spoiler alert: very, very fun.