MATRIXSYNTH: The Synths of Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Synths of Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)

Jodorowsky's Dune (2014) - HD Trailer Published on Feb 14, 2014 Giles Thomas·70 videos

Update: please see this post for some unfortunate news regarding Kurt Stenzel.

Many of you I am sure are familiar with Frank Herbert's sci-fi novel Dune as well as the film adaptation by David Lynch in 1984 and the 2000 miniseries by John Harrison.  If you are not, see this article on Wikipedia and then head back.  Unknown to many, there was a planned film adaptation in 1973 by Alejandro Jodorowsky. It was to feature art by H. R. Giger (Aliens) and Jean Giraud, possibly music from Pink Floyd and Magma; the cast of actors was to include Salvador DalĂ­, Orson Welles, and Gloria Swanson.   The adaptation never made it due to financial reasons.  Jodorowsky's Dune (2014) is a documentary on the undertaking of the film that never was.

The film launches in the US today. You'll find the cities and dates and additional details on the film's website here:

As for the synth connection, the soundtrack was composed by Kurt Stenzel who reached out to me. I asked him if he could give us more info on the synths used in the soundtrack and particularly what we hear in the trailer. The following is what he had to say (scroll down to Specifically for this Trailer in red if you want to jump to what you are hearing in the trailer):

"I did this soundtrack using a rig that I have used for years in Cookin With Kurt, Beyond-o-Matic and SpacEKrafT.  Since I play out at events in San Francisco I go for as much analog goodness as I can carry- so these synths are throughout the movie.

I have an original Novation Bass Station with keys (it has a really unique filter in my opinion), a Dave Smith Tetra (HEAVY!), an Oberheim Matrix 1000 (god-like), and for the sake of portability, I do get into some of the more recent analog modellers that all have some merit- I have a MicroKorg 2, a Novation Xio 25, and a Quasimidi Sirius.

 In the 'digital that's special' I have TWO CZ101s (the synth I learned on when it was new) and a Yamaha TG-33 vector synth.

Larger analogs that are hard to gig with, include a Moog Source (don't cry, I got this for $40 on the street when analog was uncool) and a rather GRITTY MicroMoog, and the 'head' part of a Moog Taurus 2, and a very handy Roland Juno 6. I also used a Korg Poly 61 and a Korg Poly 800, as well as one studio session with a real Rhodes, a real Celeste (no joke it was the one you see Susan Dey play in Partridge Family episodes-- the studio owns THE one) and they also had a Roland String Machine. The Celeste and Rhodes didn't make it to the film though--Director Frank Pavich though they were 'too normal' Ha! .

I also use Casiotones quite a bit--an original MT-60 my Dad bought in Japan when they were really novel, and a Concertmate from Radio Shack. I mention the Conccertmate as I realized that sucker has appeared on EVERY recording I have ever done--some of the low bit string sounds are ethereal and I run that through effects. It's very beat up from 20 years of gigs. God bless Radio Shack.

I also have lots of effects and toys like the Bliptronic, the Buddha Box, old school Kaos pad, and I use my kids Nintendo DS's to sync up 3 programs on 3 DS devices. I also got a Korg Monotribe and the Korg Monotron. Toys are good.

I used some very low fi techniques for sound design too. Oh, and my buddy Dave Miranda recorded me on his Dave Smith Poly Evolver keyboard as a last minute thing in NY and it wound up being a crucial scene-- that required no overdubs or any treatments-- that thing sounds amazing.

Also noteworthy, I am a hardcore user of the Roland SP-808 for sound design. That has been a platform for me since it came out, so my zip discs were flying on this project.

There's about 9 minutes of SpacEKrafT music in this film as well- that is my duo with Edward Dahl here in San Francisco. Ed uses Ableton and plays guitar and we have lots of toys--Alesis Air Synth and Air Effects. I use my aforementioned rig in various settings with SpacEKrafT. I also played a fair amount of guitar on the soundtrack, as well as some vocalizations. Some screaming, which came natural as I am also the singer in NY band "Six and Violence". When I am not tinkling on the keys.

SPECIFICALLY on the TRAILER: Zero to :40 is a relatively rare Yamaha SS-30 which I think has become fetishized since Sigur Ros uses one. That thing is way fun, and I have to thank Peter Fuhry from Beyond-o-Matic for loaning me that and the MicroMoog for many years.

In the trailer, when you hear the arpeggiation kick in at :40, that's one of my favorite synths ever, the Matrix 1000. That thing is my secret weapon. I love it. I am using the arpeggiator on the Quasimidi Sirius (and playing) to drive and alter the pattern. I know Sirius keyboards are rare nowadays, glad I never got rid of it. I mean, it has real Kraftwerk demoss in it straight from Germany!

The loud "blast" at 1:37, no joke, is a 'thunder tube' which is basically a tube with a drum head and a reverb spring--I banged it and slid the whole tube over an omnidirectional mic running through pitch shifting and all kinds of stuff. Don't tell Hollywood!

Next in the trailer, the brass at 1:55 is the Quasimidi Sirius which has an amazing factory patch named 'Shine On' (Floyd was supposed to do the original Dune) so it was a great coincidence, as I feel that patch is very cinematic--I have been using it for years--sounds great in a club (or now a movie theater). I probably ran some analog under it, the Matrix 1000 and the Tetra just via MIDI. 

This whole project was done largely with a MIDI 8x splitter as I improvise and play, so to get the multiple textures and voices at once, I fire the whole rig up and play my mixer faders live to weave textures. I did NOT use any computer based sequencing, almost no overdubs-- the synths sound beautiful as their own voices.

I played and mostly recorded myself. I pulled all-nighters as I had a full time day job, 2 kids, a lovely fiancee and band gigs the whole time this was happening. Frank Pavich essentially typecast me as he knew I was such a fan of Jodorowsky, all things 70's and analog, etc. This was not just a soundtrack, it was already my own personal and spiritual journey with or without the movie.

One last story of gratitude- I was very intent on getting my hands on a REAL Yamaha CS-80 -- granted that was a little later than the 1975 time period of the documentary, but I love Eddie Jobson's 'Alaska' solo, and obviously Vangelis used it so well on Blade Runner. I was very envious that Daft Punk seemed to have one on the Tron soundtrack. I asked all around-I know synth people- I know the guys in Devo a little and their crew is really cool- they almost got me one. NO ONE had a working CS-80, not even in Los Angeles. One night I came on a YouTube Tutorial called 'Vangelis Bladerunner sound JUNO 60' and followed it and dialed up such a great sound from my good old Juno 6. So I want to THANK "magevers" whoever you are on YouTube. That to me is what the synth community is all about-- people who really have a keen interest and are WAY INTO THE SYNTHS. Like you Matrix Synth Jones, THANKS BROTHER- hope you get to see this movie-- Jodorowsky will blow your mind and you will want to go and CREATE ART!"

Can't wait.  Thank you Kurt!

Update: some links via Edward W. Dahl in the comments:

"I am co-captain of SpacEKrafT and you might have seen this video posted here on Matrixsynth a little over a year ago."


Update 4/13/2014:

Q&A with Dune Composer Kurt Stenzel

Published on Apr 8, 2014 hellspreetube·39 videos

"Q&A with Kurt Stenzel, soundtrack composer for "Jodorowsky's Dune," after a showing at One Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, April 5, 2014."

via David Wilson-Okamura on The MATRIXSYNTH Lounge

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