Thursday, July 5, 2012

Scoring Spice

“Dune. Desert Planet. Arrakis. WATER.” --Kyle McLaughlin, in Lynch’s Magnum Opus, Dune
“Dune, where’s my car?” --Cobras

Many bands have tried and failed to capture the essence of Frank Herbert’s seminal, epic, orientalist space-opera, DUNE. For some, it might have been better if they had tried and died. 

It would be well-nigh impossible to document every Dune-inspired track in the universe, so these are but a sampling of the many existing varieties of Dune music. They are grouped in brackets because, as Paul Atreides has observed, "the worst potential competition for any young organism can come from its own kind."

Techno Bracket
Eon let loose in 1991 with a couple Dune-themed tracks, "The Spice Must Flow" and "Fear: The Mindkiller." "Fear: The Mindkiller" is a clear ancestor of the Mortal Kombat theme song, and samples (you guessed it!) the line "fear is the mind killer" a few thousand times. For good measure, Eon throws in a healthy dose of what sounds like the panting from Kraftwerk's "Tour De France." Because that's what Kraftwerk is awesome for-- panting.

Not shown: panting. Shown: nerding.

As bad as this may be, however, it’s still better than “German techno-pop ensemble from Münster Dune,” because by "techno pop" they mean Happy Hardcore. If you don’t know what that is, take a moment to thank the gods. You are either too young, too old, or were too under-a-rock-in-the-90s to have been exposed to this toxin. Preserve your innocence/health. If you must know, a representative track is "Can't Stop Raving," but don't say I didn't warn you. Also, Dune’s youtube page would have you know that the group is “named after the 1984 science fiction movie directed by David Lynch.” Yup. Straight from the source.

Winner: no one. No one is a winner here.

Metal Bracket
Another band of Krauts, Golem, attacked the Dune concept in their 1998 album “The 2nd Moon.” Check out the first track, The Wanderers. Featuring succinct riffage and abstract/subtly ESL lyrics (see e.g.: “Unlocking the gates of time, widening its bounds/Guarded by the maker ...facing desert ground”), Golem may actually have what it takes to make a Kwisatz Hadderach.

A further solid entry comes from Aussie rock band Buffalo (mentioned in a previous Cobras post), whose Dune Messiah takes us on a Pentagram-esque journey to Arrakis (and admit it, you always wanted to go to Arrakis with Pentagram). 

Pretty sure it would be like this...

Blind Guardian also pays a visit to the Dune-iverse in Traveller in Time. The morning sun! Of Dune! Good old Blind Guardian. If you haven’t heard this song, it’s pretty much exactly what you would expect from Blind Guardian (i.e., it is awesome, unabashed nerdery). They can really play their balisets ifyouknowwhatimean.

Picard Knows.

Also, according to a reliable source (wikipedia, duh), Iron Maiden tried to name To Tame A Land “Dune,” but Frank Herbert was having none of it. Apparently the band was told that "Frank Herbert doesn't like rock bands, particularly heavy rock bands, and especially bands like Iron Maiden." Good call on that one, F. Herb. 
Frank Herbert hates you. 
PS: Dreamtheater fans will be delighted to admit to you that Dreamtheater covered "To Tame A Land."  

Winner: Vote your choice in the comments. You are the dungeonmaster! You get to decide!

  • Blind Guardian
  • Buffalo
  • Golem
  • Iron Maiden
  • Dreamtheater

Prog/Jazz Bracket

More to F. Herb’s taste might be the smooth stylings of one Dave Matthews (!), a jazz keyboardist from Kentucky who hung out with James Brown and was apparently moved to gather together a bunch of other jazz players (Grover Washington, Eric Gale) and write several Dune-themed songs which readers should check out at their own risk. These are all on a 1977 album Dave Matthews titled, wait for it, “Dune.” The creativity here just does not end... or at least, not until the second side of the album, where Dave gives us NOT ONLY a disco-fied version of the Star Wars main theme (it was 1977, so Lucas didn’t quite know what he had on his hands), but also a limp cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity. On a related note, the only tolerable part of the latter song was sampled by MF (“Metal Face/Fingers”) Doom in Rap Snitch Knishes. You know. Like you do. Wait, what was I talking about?

Ah yes. Another entry in the Dune prog bracket are French prog rockers Dün, about whom we have previously heard. An interesting compare and contrast exercise may be done by playing Dave Matthew's "Arrakis" and Dün's “Arrakisback to back. Go on. Try it.

  • Dave Matthews
  • Dün
Video Game Bracket
Yes, evidently there were at least two about a million soundtracked Dune videogames. Kids these days. Don’t they know about books? Require a little effort on your part, make no be-be-be-be-beeps. Anywho.

1992 saw the release of not one, but TWO Dune videogames. The first was called “Dune” by Cryo Interactive, and it carried a soundtrack called "Dune: Spice Opera." It’s not so bad, from what I can tell. Also, at 1:55 of the track embedded below, "Sign of the Worm," you can see a sweet rendering of Shai-Hulud in 1992 graphics. 

A competing video game company, Westwood Studios, released “Dune II” that same year; check out this sweet dialogue: “We were your pawns and Dune was your board.” The score is basically 8-bit plus. In 1998, Westwood Studios released “Dune: 2000” scored in part by professional video game composer Frank Klepaki. Good old Frank K. does a musical homage to/rip off of Toto’s score to Lynch’s Dune here on this track at about 3:22-32; otherwise, this is fairly unremarkable stuff.

  • Dune: Spice Opera
  • Dune II
  • Klepaki
  • No one, again

Dune OST Bracket
The Lynch Dune OST has been reported on here, but I thought I might add a few words. Two of those words are "Brian Eno." Two more words are “fuck yeah.

but of course there is a
For the sake of completeness, here is the theme music from the Dune television series, composed by the dude who did the soundtrack to Final Destination V. If you have ever watched any sci-fi movie and heard some generic background symphonics, you’ve basically heard it. Speaking of orientalism, there’s also a Bonus New Age Track.

Winner: Toto/Eno OST. I’m sorry, this is just objective. Please send your complaints to James Madison.

Well, there you have it, friends. A smattering of the aural representations of the Dune-iverse. Please feel free to add on in the comments.

Behold Kris Mar, newest addition to the IllCon Team! Hail Kris Mar! May the rivers run red with the blood of your fallen foes, and may vampires tremble and expire at your feet just as they do under the mighty ax of Abe Lincoln!
I am impressed with the nerdiness contained herein, please feel free to contribute further in the future. Sweet.



Cory said...

Excellent debut, Mar!

Nothing Left Inside said...

Good call Mar. Great first post.

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

You have the weirding way.
Your water shall mingle with our water.
Then I will teach you our way of battle.

23 Wolves said...

Personally, I really really like happy hardcore. And heavy metal. And Dune!

John Henry Eden said...

Fantastic post.

John Henry Eden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Henry Eden said...

BTW, surprised this wasn't mentioned