Black Mountain's keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt released his solo debut album, The Enchanter Persuaded, in 2006 under the Sinoia Caves moniker. That set made a real impression on film director Panos Cosmatos. When he made his feature-length Beyond the Black Rainbow and needed music, he sought Schmidt out. The latter was so impressed, he composed an original score for it. The film is a grainy, creepy-crawly, nightmarish film inspired by pulp sci-fi and '80s-era midnight cinema (à la Videodrome, The Thing, Scanners, etc.). It received enough decent reviews on the festival circuit to get a theatrical release in 2012 and then vanished. Jagjaguwar and British soundtrack reissue label Death Waltz Records have teamed to commercially release Schmidt's score. It was all composed on vintage gear: analog synthesizers, Mellotrons, sequencers, arpeggiated synth pads et. al. While Tangerine Dream's soundtrack for Sorcerer is an obvious touch point, so are the self-composed, synth-created scores for director John Carpenter's films, the music of Goblin, and late-'70s Klaus Schulze. The opening theme, "Forever Dilating Eye," is based around a single-note pulse, a Mellotron loop of a boys' choir, and sinister bass notes on another synth. The choir tonalities shift, and the entire mix dramatically builds until Black Mountain drummer Joshua Wells' tom-toms explode into the foreground. "Elena's Sound-World," with its evocation of a female chorale and strings, nods at Jean Michel Jarre's outer space articulations and the evocation of retro computer sounds that Giorgio did so well, and all are entwined in a stretched mode that feels more like a series of melodies strung together than just repeating notes. The drama in "Run Program: Sentionauts" is tense and brooding, Schmidt's sense of how melodic grooves interlock is canny here and in its sequel that closes the record. The more formless constructions, such as the drifting "Arboria Tapes: Award Winning Gardens" and the sometimes jarring, dissonant tonal juxtapositions on the set's longest track, "1966: Let the New Age of Enlightenment Begin," are compelling as much for what isn't in them as for what is. Schmidt's use of textured, layered drones (and vocoders) in the latter is a knockout. In its entirely -- less than 40 minutes -- Beyond the Black Rainbow may sound (overly) familiar to soundtrack and electronic music fans, but a more careful listen will reveal a subtlety of structural approach in Schmidt's sonic architecture; it evokes an earlier era in the same way the film does.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek