SONIC CELLULOID: An interview with ORGASMO SONORE
Earlier this winter I had the pleasure of attending the record release party for Montreal-based Orgasmo Sonore’s sophomore album REVISITING OBSCURE FILM MUSIC VOLUME 2 (you can catch a video snippet of the show at orgasmo-sonore.blogspot.ca). Led by François Riendeau – aka Frank Rideau – Orgasmo Sonore is an ongoing musical project that reimagines cult film soundtrack compositions, and aside from impressive technical proficiency and Rideau is also clearly a brilliant musical curator, his selection of covers over the two albums thus far ranging from Alain Goraguer (FANTASTIC PLANET) to Mikis Theodorakis (Costa-Gavras’ Z) alongside a heady roster of Italo-staples including Ennio Morricone, Stelvio Cipriani, Fabio Frizzi, Goblin, Bruno Nicolai and more. Rideau’s passion for the music and the films shines through in swelling, enthusiastic arrangements that seamlessly capture the varied tones of the original pieces – from hauntingly subtle to unsparingly bombastic – without ever seeming like mere retreads. A handful of accompanying original compositions (Klaus Kinski and Jean-Pierre Melville on Volume 1 and Summertime Bossa on Volume 2) further assert Orgasmo Sonore’s grasp of their genre foundation as more than a schtick with a ready audience.
Rideau was kind enough to answer a few questions about his inspirations and methodology, and Orgasmo Sonore’s direction for the future. You can hear the music of Orgasmo Sonore in our homepage mixcloud player this month, alongside Cineploit labelmates Sospetto, Thelema, Zoltan, Malabimba and the duos of Deak Ferance/Roger Conrad and Alan Leonard/Alex Wank, in the Cineploit playlist made exclusively for FANGORIA.
FANGORIA: The record is very vague about who the band members are for Orgasmo Sonore and what instruments they play – can you break this down for me?
FRANK RIDEAU: I work under the name of Frank Rideau and I am producing and recording everything in my home studio. With some exceptions, I play all the instruments on both records, but I’m also doing a lot of post-production to make everything sit together like it’s only one band playing. That’s an important thing to me: it must sound like a band. I’m also trying to involve some collaborators and I’d like to bring more into the project for the future.
FANG: How did you first become interested in these films, or did the music attract you first?
RIDEAU: I have a long story of film watching and I’ve always been interested by the soundtracks. John Carpenter and George Romero were early influences as far as film directors who were using noticeable music in their films. And later Sergio Leone with Ennio Morricone. Then in the recent years, I’ve been going really deep into all the Europeans and particularly the Italian film scoring. There’s been a revival happening since the late 90s with the re-release of the VAMPYROS LESBOS soundtrack and with guys like Mike Patton. And it seems to continue as classic and forgotten soundtracks are released every year by the like of Beat Records or DeathWaltz Recording. In fact, we could definitively say that we are more interested in these soundtracks today than anybody was at the time! Between 1965 and 1985 there were literally thousands of movies made and all of them required a professional composer (while today, a lot of films use existing music and much fewer movies are produced). It’s an endless source of discovery for a collector and a music geek like me!
FANG: In Quebec, where would you have seen these films when you were younger? Were they released in Quebec at the time?
RIDEAU: We have the opportunity of having the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. Enough said! In my youth, it was the glorious day of VHS renting and in my local area, there was all kinds of stuff available, only I was not 18 years old to rent most of it, so we had to find an older brother to get the movies for us. I remember the instantly-recognizable VHS covers of ANTHROPOPHAGOUS or DAWN OF THE DEAD. But the cover was the best thing about VHS as the rest was 3rd generation transfer, pan & scan atrocity, cut version and awful french dubbing. Again, like what is happening with the soundtracks, all these movies are now released again on DVD or Blu Ray and we are discovering all of this in the way we should have seen it the first time.
FANG: How do you decide on what songs to cover?
RIDEAU: I’m doing lists on paper, I’m doing lists in my head, I’m listening to a lot of soundtracks and rarities (I like labels like Finders Keepers and Easy Tempo) and suddenly I hear a song and I say “Oh! this gonna be my next interpretation”. I also try to cover different composers and genres.
FANG: I notice Stelvio Cipriani is represented a lot on the albums, what is the appeal of his music for you?
RIDEAU: It’s true. I think there are 6 or 7 songs from Stelvio on both records, there is actually, in some way, a hidden tribute to him, I admit. During the process of doing these records, I was really A LOT into Stelvio’s music. I just think he had that kind of magic touch to bring a cheesy melody together with a big groovy beat underneath and make it sound like something very catchy and hot, like there is steam coming out of your speakers. Incidentally, “Orgasmo Sonore” is some kind of anagram from ORGASMO NERO, a Joe D’Amato movie scored by Stelvio Cipriani…
FANG: How did you get hooked up with Cineploit records?
RIDEAU: Cineploit Records is run by Alex Wank, ex-Pungent Stench drummer and an avid cult films collector. We met on the internet, he had his own project, Malabimba, and we quickly connected with our affinity for obscurities and Italian film composers. He launched that label project with the objective of releasing things that would be related to music for film, fictional or real, tribute or original. After I had done my first album all alone, I was pleased to have someone interested in helping me with the release and (especially ) the distribution of my second album. Alex is a great motivator and a very nice guy.
FANG: Do you have any other launch events planned for the new record?
RIDEAU: I am currently working on a special tribute project to Bruno Nicolai’s giallo film music, and it’s gonna be the best thing I have ever done! But the bar is high with Bruno. He is maybe one of the most overlooked film composers ever, always in the shadow of Ennio Morricone. But among his score he really has a couple of gems that deserve attention. So this will be released by Cineploit in the summer and the LP cover will be full of rare pictures from giallo films featuring Edwige Fenech. I’m very excited about this project! Otherwise, I hope I will have other opportunities to play live, with my partner n.Code who is doing fantastic work for the visuals by remixing the movies along with the music. I hope some festivals will think of us in the summer in Montreal or elsewhere.
FANG: What is your musical focus when not working on Orgasmo Sonore?
RIDEAU: Currently, most of my time is on this project, with the Bruno Nicolai tribute on top of the list. I consider myself in training while I’m doing this. I try to learn from the Masters by interpreting their music. Someday, I would like to score music for film that would bring back that Nicolai/Morricone/Cipriani/Frizzi vibe to the screen. But these composers were highly skilled and musically trained with a lot of funky musicians around to record in the studio. Today, the trend seems more around doing big computer-generated atmospheres and soundscapes with huge sound FX library, and the ability to compose and record a score around musical themes seems lost. I hope one day the soundtrack will take its place again in the movie. Not just being a background distraction.