Galvanising our ongoing commitment to the lost music of the Czech New Wave cinema movement from the late 1960s and 1970s, Finders Keepers Records follow up our series of previously unreleased music to Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders, Daisies, Saxana and The Little Mermaid with a short series of soundtracks for films by the country’s master of the macabre and the nation’s first point of call for freakish fairytales and hallucinogenic horror, Mr. Juraj Herz.
As another late entry to the unparalleled creative cinematic unison known in Europe as “the Czech film miracle”, Juraj Herz’s 1969 feature film The Cremator was one of a clutch of certified cinematic literary adaptations that used the apolitical subjects of fantasy and surrealist horror to evade the communist censors’ abortive measures; dodging the overzealous cutting and burning process which poetically echoed the films own macabre and fantas- tical screenplay. Unifying a cast and crew of some of the Czech New Wave’s leading lights, Herz’s macabre depiction of Ladislav Fuks’ fictional account of a local crematorium boss whose hallucinogenic burning obsession with the afterlife is ignited by the Tibetan Book Of The Dead and intensifying manipulative Nazi propaganda is undeniably one of the greatest underexposed European horror films of all time.
Drawing similarities with other stark monochrome thrillers such as Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Herz’s comparatively untravelled classic also boasts a beguiling score and theme tune that remains one of the most memorable and spine-chilling melodic soundtracks by the country’s finest experimental soundtrack composer Zdeněk Liška (Malá Mořská Víla) providing the movement with one of its best loved signature scores. Featuring an ongoing part- nership with studio conductor František Belfín (Daisies) and soprano singer Vlasta Soumarová Mlejnková (Marketa Lazarová), Liška puts his radical con- crète and resampling techniques (see Ikarie XB1) to one side in favour of celestial choral and orchestral arrangements; menacing giallo-esque tension and recurring rhythmical motifs of Eastern bells and chimes illustrating Rudolf Hrušínský’s Kopfrkingl character’s demise into murderous infatuation and the momentary cameo shots of the hallucinogenic death figure played by Helena Anýzová (Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders/Daisies).
From a country and era when isolated soundtrack music remained commercially unreleased Finders Keepers Records are proud to rescue, remaster and reincarnate this intense and timeless score by one of Europe’s finest composers taking a rare excursion into horror territory as part of a filmography of more than 200 formerly unpressed film scores.
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