A certain type of vintage genre score has rightfully earned its place in film music pantheon —think the haunting pulsations of John Carpenter, the woozy dreamscapes of Tangerine Dream, the throbbing disco-synth anxieties of Giorgio Moroder —and that atmospheric spirit as such is currently being channeled by filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. The director recontextualized the Pet Shop Boys for a new generation with his bruising psycho prison film “Bronson”; he’s turned throwback synth artist Johnny Jewel into a kind of modern rock star in the field thanks to his “Drive” score (the film’s star Ryan Gosling has turned into a devotee too); and he’s also helped transform Steven Soderbergh-collaborator Cliff Martinez (“Only God Forgives,” “Solaris”) into one of the most sought after modern film composers.
While Refn is creatively indebted to the mondo-exotica genre films of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and their soundtracks, the filmmaker has used his recent cache to shine a spotlight onto forgotten or less remembered film scores. With Milan Records, he’s launched the Nicolas Winding Refn Presents series.
The series so far has released the Cho Young-wok score from “Oldboy,” and Disasterpeace‘s excellent electro score for the indie horror/thriller “It Follows“ and coming up is Refn’s own “Bronson” soundtrack in a vinyl edition, as well as a reissue of the original soundtrack to Paul Verhoeven‘s “Robocop” with music by Basil Poledouris. The soundtrack will be released on 2xLP with artwork by Jay Shaw on July 17th.
“The soundtrack is so strong, and it’s so borderline camp,” Refn told the The New York Times about his affection for the movie and its music. “But at the same time, it’s so symphonically dark and humoristic. [‘Robocop’ is] a wonderful intersection of European filmmaking with very strong Hollywood thematic commercial abilities. It’s one of the great films to come out of Hollywood.”
A tease for what’s next? Refn says his next film “The Neon Demon,” to be scored by Cliff Martinez, will be sonically influenced by ’70s proto-synth punks Suicide, junkie punk Johnny Thunders, and gauzy ‘90s pillowgaze band Cocteau Twins, as well as Moroder. Listen to a cut from the “RoboCop” soundtrack below —it sounds surprisingly like Ennio Morricone in retrospect— and check out the new artwork.