(The cover of the Shriek limited, art by Ben Templesmith, design by John Coulthart; extras include The Church’s Shriek CD, a DVD of the Shriek movie, and some other surprises; possibly, Ambergris stamps.)
I’ve got a mile-wide grin on my face right now. I just received the 45-minute CD of music The Church recorded as a soundtrack to my Shriek novel. It will accompany the limited edition of Shriek forthcoming from Wyrm Publishing.
What The Church did is take the soundtrack for the Shriek movie and expanded it, adding depth and texture to the music as well as lyrics to many of the resulting songs. The lyrics are passages from the book, sometimes sung and sometimes spoken (by Steve Kilbey; Tim Powles is another major player on the CD). As befits a soundtrack-to-a-novel, a few pieces are transitional and without lyrics.
The CD has 17 tracks, with a playing time of 45 minutes. While I have no idea how the music will satisfy traditional fans of The Church, I can say that as a whole it blew me away.
One major highlight is a demented take on the opening description of Ambergris by Duncan Shriek, with Steve Kilbey letting loose with a great over-the-top performance rife with menace. The music builds and builds with insane intent and Steve’s voice over top of this is uncannily intense. Some will probably say Kilbey goes too far, but for me it worked nicely. The alternative would be some middle ground that wouldn’t satisfy anyone.
Another great song takes a moment during the war described in Shriek when Janice Shriek loses a good friend to a fungal bomb. It’s really quite moving the way they’ve done it. Steve Kilbey sings it as if he’s remembering back across time, and he somehow imbues it with extra depth. A constant sung refrain of “The closer I get to the end, the closer I get to the beginning.” taken from elsewhere in the novel serves as an effective counterpoint. Some great, great guitarwork on this track, as it builds. Really stunning.
They’ve also chosen to take a monologue from Duncan to Mary while hiding underground during the Festival of the Freshwater Squid and use a distorted female voice with what almost sounds like an orchestra behind it. It’s eerie and beautiful and scary. I can’t imagine any other approach that would so perfectly convey the emotional feeling behind that scene. “We are lost, my love; if you make a sound, we are dead, you understand.” is the refrain here and the way they sing the phrase it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Yet another song takes the dream sequence Janice relates toward the end of the novel, involving the mental hospital and Edward, the patient who thinks he’s a gray cap. Here, the passage is read while the music pulses behind the words. It’s pretty damn psychedelic.
A couple of songs conjure up Duncan Shriek’s almost adolescent lust for Mary, with Kilbey managing to convey sincerity and angsty melodrama at the same time.
The last track takes Janice’s final confrontation with Mary and, after taking part of the novel verbatim, repeats the line “She still couldn’t close her eyes” several times in a way that, with the repetition, gives it a real resonance. The music behind the words has a kind of tribal beat to it, with background voices ghosting across the beat.
I find a few things really fascinating here. First, how seamlessly they’ve incorporated the core of the Shriek movie soundtrack music into some of these expanded and re-imagined songs, using the rest of that original material for transition and then adding totally new music that fits in like it was always there. Second, how perfectly they’ve dramatized the novel by taking some of the best and most relevant parts, while making sure there is a definite progression, and, in the end, closure.
Then there’s the simple and largely indescribable pleasure of hearing words you wrote sung and spoken in songs by one of your favorite bands of all time. Yes, that’s right–I’m not without bias here, but, really, I’m incredibly pleased with what they’ve done. I know fans of Shriek will be, too, and hopefully the wider world of Church fans as well.
Here, btw, is the track listing:
1. we dwell in fragile temporary
2. shriek voices
3. shriek theme
4. duncan and mary
5. even the flies have eyes
6 the grey caps
7. Truffidian church
9. my love, last night
10. incident on bannerville
11. a tragi-comic family story
12. a tale for you
13. we are lost
14. dream of edward
15. war of the houses
16. shriek- reversal
17. the Aan tribal war