Philippe Petit - … Scores Henry: The Iron Man [Beta-lactam Ring Records - 2009]Oh, how I so wanted this to knock me backwards out of my chair! The concept alone had me clawing the shinkwrap off the packaging hard enough to break a nail: a fake soundtrack for a film by Shin’ya Tsukamoto (creator of Tetsuo: The Iron Man) that is a remake of David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Even if the film didn’t exist, how could something which name- and ambience-checked two of my favorite directors and two of my favorite movies possibly miss?!
Well, they don’t so much miss as only hit half the target. Part of it is me and my silly preconceptions about things. My Tetsuo fandom is absolute enough that I’ve snapped up copies of Chu Ishikawa’s thundering, metal-machine-music soundtrack for the film (he scored many of Tsukamoto’s other films as well), and the nearly impossible-to-find Armored Weapon album under Ishikawa’s collective name Der Eisenrost. I also have the ambient Eraserhead CD, and so I was primed to hear something that was a furious crossbreed between the burbling stasis of the latter and the rivet-throwing frenzy of the former.
What we actually end up with isn’t quite either of those things. It’s a mixture of radio samples (mostly in the latter half), sputtering turntables and surface-noise collages, sine-tone electronics, and a whole cloud of other things that rise and fall over the course of three longish tracks. When I put the CD sleeve out of sight and ignored the track titles, I found I quite liked it. The second track, “In Tokyo Henry Spencer Is Fine” would be a great addition to most any retrospective anthology Beta-Lactam puts out. Its longer and more dronelike stretches are absorbing, and it never repeats itself or runs dry.
But, again, my mind kept wandering back to what could have been. There’s a part of me still longing for the grimy, half-ambient and half-assaultive masterpiece that I wanted this to be, that better fits the title and the cover art. Color me foolish for focusing on that, but yes, that cover art is a freakin’ piece of genius. So, yeah—someone should make that record. This is a good record. It’s just not that record.Serdar Yegulalp