¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Finally back in print on vinyl, just in time for the brand-new deluxe Blu-ray/DVD reissue that's coming out through Arrow Video.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Mostly known for reissues of deep-cut jazz/psych obscurities, British label Trunk Records had put out a couple of horror-related albums that I'd been wanting to get in stock for years, but which had gone out of print. One was the Dawn Of The Dead Unreleased Soundtrack Music compilation that features the obscure Music De Wolfe library pieces from Romero's apocalyptic zombie epic, and this, the sublimely sinister and psychedelic long-lost John Cameron soundtrack to cult classic British occult biker film Psychomania. In the hazy post-Hammer landscape of 1970's-era British horror cinema, Psychomania has always stuck out with its deranged tale of a hell-raising, devil-worshipping biker gang calling themselves "The Living Dead", and their ill-fated bid for immortality via toad-fueled necromancy and crazed supermarket carnage. It's a hoot, with numerous memorable scenes of nutty biker action, half-baked occultism, and some fantastic dialogue; no wonder it's been heavily referenced by fans of British black magic schlock like Electric Wizard and Satans Satyrs.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Despite the film's cult following in horror/occult cinema circles, Cameron's Psychomania score was apparently never released in its entirity, with the only official release of music from the film being the two-song Witch Hunt / Living Dead 7" that came out in 1973, featuring two key themes from the film performed by Cameron's ad hoc psych outfit Frog that was formed specifically for the score. That original 7" alone has commanded some hefty prices on the collectors market, so it was great to have the entire score finally released by Trunk around a decade ago. Now back in print, we're getting this disc on our shelves for the first time, and get to revisit this bizarre soundtrack and its terrific low-fi psychedelic sleaze.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† For Psychomania, Cameron enlisted a group of British jazz musicians (going by the aforementioned "Frog" name) to perform his macabre arrangements, performing a set of tracks that craft an uncanny, hallucinatory atmosphere that kick in like good blotter, a killer mix of fuzz-encrusted psych and avant-garde gothic creep. The wah-fueled evil psych that plays over the opening "Psychomania Front Titles" combines airy flute with some seriously skuzzy funk bass and an infectious shuffling groove, producing some cool sinister instrumental rock; from there Cameron continues to exude a druggy, delirious atmosphere that goes well with the hell-raising, devil worshipping insanity on the screen, moving from spooky gothic organ and mesmeric krautrock grooves to minimal drones and echoplex-drenched piano, dropping in some raunchy garage-rock numbers like "Motorcycle Mayhem", belting out wailing female choruses and whirling gusts of witchy weirdness, and there's even some menacing keyboard-streaked tracks of hypnotic progginess that recalls the likes of Goblin. Some of the more memorable dialogue from the film is scattered among the musical tracks, and there are some lighter moments amongst all of the macabre fuzz-guitar jams, like the eerie woodwinds and gently plucked strings that form the nocturnal balladry of "Abby's Nightmare", and the unmistakably 70's-era folk rock that shows up on "Riding Free", the only track on the album that features actual singing. Some of the tracks feature brief cues that run only a few seconds in length, but there's plenty of longer tracks as well to sink your teeth into.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†The whole score was re-mastered for this release, but as label boss Johnny Trunk discusses in his liner notes, it was a tough job due to the deterioration of the original studio reels; that produces a bit of murk in the sound quality, but that's fine by me. It's still a highly listenable release that fans of the film should be greatly pleased with. The back of the sleeve features liner notes from composer Cameron, Trunk and someone named Jogoku, with Cameron describing how he utilized a variety of experimental recording techniques to create his unearthly sounds, from prepared piano noises to processed vibraphones and Hammond organs that he ran through a bank of effects units. A real blast, still one of the kookiest horror scores of the era, highly recommended for fans of vintage psych-creep and sinister experimental weirdness.