French composer/keyboardist Emeric Levardon returns with a series of cinematically minded compositions. The LP, the artist’s first under the Hollywood Burns moniker, is sprawling, dark and adventurous. Throughout there are nods to great film composers such as Giorgio Moroder, Bernard Herrmann (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Psycho), Jerry Goldsmith (Gremlins, Alien), and Danny Elfman, though the primary focus remains more fully establishing Levardon’s own voice.
Broadly a synthwave release, the emphasis remains on sounds that emerged in the 1980s: “Bazaar of the Damned” even hints at a Michael Sembello-style guitar work while simultaneously matching the sturm und drang Richard Band conjured for Stuart Gordon’s 1985 stab at Re-Animator. It’s not all retro, though. On that piece, Levardon tosses in glitchy, aughts-style patterns reminiscent of Kavinsky or the much-lauded Tommy ’86.
The Moroder and Elfman influences comingle nicely on the delightfully warped “Black Saucers” and (of course) its sequel, “Revenge of the Black Saucers.” There’s something gorgeously over-the-top and humorous about passages in each and yet neither betrays the sense that our composer is anything less than serious about his vision. More often than not there’s a fascinating juxtaposition of terror and joie de vivre. In the early moments of “Came to Annihilate” we’re treated to blood-curdling, hair-raising passages that could make the earth stand still. Those quickly give way to rhythms and spectacular melodic lines that could arguably send listeners to the dance floor for a little disco before the apocalypse.
“Girls with Guns” and “Carnal Encounters of the Third Kind” provide further evidence of the artist’s particular strain of humor; “Scherzo No. 5 in Death Minor” serves as a loving tribute to John Williams that never takes itself too seriously.
Levardon isn’t merely playing at being a film composer. He’s establishing himself as a master of a form that’s gaining new life. He proves here that he’s more than capable of creating sounds that’ll inspire some players the way the Tomita and Tangerine Dream did in the past.