Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kangaroo Court brings unhinged moods to the table

My journey through the Richard Derrick archive continues, every time I have to drive somewhere. I always have a large stack of unreleased music Richard edited riding shotgun with me, ready to divulge its secrets.

We have been using recordings from his band Middle Sleep (early 1980s, Los Angeles) for years now, with several tracks incorporated into Blind Black Cat and Go South for Animal Index, and more in the works for this year's score, The Sydney Highrise Variations.

Sydney also will mark our first use of Another Umbrella, his duo with Crane. Since Richard sent me thirty-nine archival discs of Another Umbrella, I can confidently predict we will be hearing much more of them over the years, if Antartica doesn't slide completely into the ocean or if we are not all killed senselessly by people who lost their jobs and have been picked on by jerks.

This past week, moving deeper into the stack of CDs Richard sent me, I hit upon a new vein. Though the principals are once again Richard and Crane, this material appears under a different artist name, Kangaroo Court.

Like so much else of what these guys do, it happens to fit perfectly into the imaginative world of a guy who likes to set long poems to music and needs a wide range of atmospheric music to get from here to there any number of times per score.

Here are a few early Kangaroo Court favorites, with Richard's track notes and my thoughts for imagined uses.

Free mp3s

"Carnival Thing" (0:36)

Richard Derrick * keyboards
Recorded at home (San Pedro), 25 October 1986

A carnival thing! You never know when you will need a carnival thing - a squib of 0:36 seconds that makes it seem like we suddenly have been whiskey away to a carnival and then been returned to ordinary life before we knew it.

"Desert Pilgrims" (3.19)

Crane * rhythm guitars, right-channel solo guitar
Richard Derrick * left-channel solo guitar
Recorded at Crane's and Art Asylum, September 1986

The journal I am keeping on Richard's archive has a lot of "frenetic guitar" jottings. Here is another. It so happens I have a hearty appetite for frenetic guitar. Next year we are scoring David Clewell's long poem about Jack Ruby, the guy who killed Lee Harvey Oswald. There is a long, breathless section that follows Ruby's movements throughout that fatal day. It will need a lot of snippets of frenetic guitar. I will have lots and lots to choose from.

"'Til The Cows Come Home" (2.39)
Crane * guitars, rhythm
Recorded at Crane's, September 1986

An aggressive, slightly unhinged mood setter. Since we have plans to score poems about the guy who shot Oswald, the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis, an activist girl who was raped and killed in Mexico, and the international banking hustle, we have plenty of aggressive, slightly unhinged moods to set ahead of us.

"Could Have Been" (3.24)

Crane * keyboard
Richard Derrick * guitar, second keyboard
Keyboard recorded at Crane's, September 1986
Guitar and second keyboard recorded at home, 12 December 1986

What can I say? This would work for just about any thing. The title they picked for the instrumental track, "Could Have Been," nicely fits its wistful atmosphere. There is a lot of need for wistful atmosphere in the poetry scores game.


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