S U R V I V E ‎– HD015

Survive (often with capital letters and spaces as S U R V I V E) is an electronic band consisting of Michael Stein, Kyle Dixon, Adam Jones and Mark Donica. They were formed in 2009 in Austin, Texas and have been producing synth-heavy, horror-score-influenced compositions for almost a decade, exploring these themes through drum machines and analog synths across various single, EP and LP releases and contributions to soundtracks such as acclaimed indie horror film The Guest.

You may recognise a couple of the members, Dixon and Stein composed the original score for the 2016 Netflix series Stranger Things. Now I have to provide full disclosure here, I love Stranger Things, so much so that I did buy both volumes of the soundtrack in interesting coloured vinyl editions and have played them quite a bit.

This album, HD015, actually appears to be their 2012 self titled release (also known as Mnq026) but , because it is a red vinyl edition, it has a different name. I’ve no idea why but it does. It is limited to 1,500 copies on 150g vinyl, so maybe decoding that gives the title.

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It is an atmospheric album, creepy even in places, and I can see why they would be involved in a 1980’s related science-fi horror TV series, if you knew of them already then the tracks here would lend themselves to it really well. Perhaps part of the reason for this is the instruments used, MicroKORG, SH-101, ARP Odyssey, Elektron Analog Keys and Prophet-6, rather than VST instruments on a laptop.

Clown Warning! Clown Warning! So I find clowns really very creepy but there is either a video of ‘Floating Cube’ with a static image, or one somebody has made containing killer clowns, I went with the latter, even though watching it creeps me out, you’ve been warned:

Tracklist

I
A1 Deserted Skies 5:36
A2 Floating Cube 4:21
A3 To Light Alone I Bow 2:28
A4 Hourglass 4:31
A5 Omniverse 4:36
II
B1 Black Mollies 6:04
B2 Scalar Wave 4:46
B3 Shunting Yard 4:56
B4 Dirge 7:14

I have a pre-disposition to this type of music so I will be giving it an 8.3 but I do recognise that it is not for everybody.

As a bonus, here they are live this year:

And here is the set list:

Floating Cube 1:58
Hourglass 6:27
Omniverse 11:48
Sorcerer 17:15
Parousia 21:45
Copter 25:05
Cutthroat 30:48
Wardenclyffe 35:25
Black Mollies A.H.B 42:15
Holographic Landscape 47:00

I spoil you people!

Stranger Things – Vinyl

Stranger Things was an absolute smash hit for Netflix this year. The first season of the series, set in the 1980’s, follows the disappearance of a young boy and the monstrous chain of events it launches in the small town. I was captivated by this show, partially because it’s very much from my era, or very nearly, I’m more late 70’s early 80’s, but it’s near enough. I also really appreciated that it was only 8 episodes. So many series drag on for 20 or more episodes and it can just be too much to watch, and the need for that many cliffhangers at the end of each episode becomes rather tiresome. I’m struggling with the Walking Dead, still a couple of series behind, there’s just too much of it and it’s basically the same thing happening every episode. I have the first 13 or 14 volumes of the comic, which I was reading well before it appeared on TV, and exactly the same thing happened there, I stopped buying them as it is the same thing over and over again, for the most part at least, just presented differently. With Stranger Things, 8 episodes is just about perfect.

I also loved the music, for which the soundtracks of Tangerine Dream were highly influential, as was Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score, among others. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein—the soundtrack’s composers, as well as members of the Austin synth band S U R V I V E, had one of their tracks, ‘Dirge’, used on the original pitch of the series and so were in from the beginning. Here is the track they used, which, when I listen to it, I can see it slipping seamlessly into the Stranger Things score:

I pre-ordered Volume 1 of the score but it was a little delayed for some reason or other, eventually arriving last week, a few weeks late but that was OK. I have the red/blue vinyl version, which is rather nice:

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I’ve no idea how many of these were pressed, quite a few I suspect but I can’t seem to find any info on that, it’s called a ‘Deluxe Edition’ for some reason, possibly because the gate fold sleeve is 425g, which is pretty sturdy.

Tracklisting:

LP1
1. Stranger Things
2. Kids
3. Nancy and Barb
4. This Isn’t You
5. Lay-Z-Boy
6. Friendship
7. Eleven
8. A Kiss
9. Castle Byers
10. Hawkins
11. The Upside Down
12. After Sarah
13. One Blink for Yes
14. Photos In the Woods

LP2
1. Fresh Blood
2. Lamps
3. Hallucinations
4. Hanging Lights
5. Biking to School
6. Are You Sure?
7. Agents
8. Papa
9. Cops Are Good at Finding
10. No Weapons
11. Walking Through the Upside Down
12. She’ll Kill You
13. Run Away
14. No Autopsy
15. Dispatch
16. Joyce and Lonnie Fighting
17. Lights Out
18. Hazmat Suits
19. Theoretically
20. You Can Talk to Me
21. What Else Is There to Do?
22. Hawkins Lab

The best known piece from this, is of course, from the opening credits:

I’ve listened to the whole thing several times and love it. Take Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, bit of Kraftwerk, Angelo Badalamenti, some John Carpenter, maybe a dash of Nine Inch Nails and mix them all up and this is what you get.

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I also pre-ordered Volume Two, from the Invada Records site and this was listed as a ‘Limited Edition’ and mail order only, though, again, limited to how many I don’t know. This arrived this week and I’ve had a listen. It is different music to Volume One but very much in the same vein. That there are two volumes for this episode run does show how closely involved Dixon & Stein were in the creation of the series as music is often repeated, and it is at times of course, but a new piece would be created, perhaps with a sublte difference, for different scenes in the show.

I’m a sucker for coloured vinyl of course and this one is really rather nice:

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Tracklisting

1.Hopper Sneaks In
2.I Know What I Saw
3.Rolling Out The Pool
4.Over
5.Gearing Up
6.Flickering
7.First Kiss
8.Crying
9.Walking Down The Tracks
10.Where’s Barb?
11.Speak Of The Devil
12.Danger Danger
13.Tribulations
14.Flashback
15.Kids Two
16.Talking To Australia
17.Night Of The Seventh
18.See Any Rain?
19.Coffee & Contemplation
20.Inside The Black Room
21.Starts To Rain
22.Eleven Is Gone
23.Time For A 187
24.Something In The House
25.Still Pretty
26.Abilities
27.Tendril
28.They Found Us
29.Bad Men
30.Spiked Bat
31.Making Contact
32.What Do You Know
33.It’s Not My Boy
34.Something In The Wall
35.Let’s Go
36.Leap Of Faith
37.In Pursuit
38.Breaking And Entering
39.Stranger Things (Extended)

If you have yet to see the show, and many people haven’t as they don’t subscribe to Netflix, then the track names mean very little but both Volumes are a great listen regardless of whether you’ve seen the show or not. The one gripe I do have, and it is perhaps not entirely fair of me, is the use of the same image on the front of both volumes, but also that Netflix logo, it irks me that it’s there though I can’t quite pinpoint why it irks me, it just does.

I’ll finish with a trailer for Season 1. This was just a fabulous series and I highly recommend it to anybody who hasn’t seen it.

 

 

The Listening List

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Max Richter – Songs From Before
Future Sound Of London – Environments 6.5
Bjork – Bastards
Mike Oldfield – Platimnum
Vangelis – Spiral
Bob Marley – Exodus
Isaac Hayes – Joy
Isaac Hayes – Shaft
Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul
Gary Numan – The Pleasure Principle
Can – Tago Mago
Vangelis – Invisible Connections
Vangelis – Albedo 0.39
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things Vol. 1