LIQUID SKY OST(1982) / COMPOSER: BY SLAVA TSUKERMAN, BRENDA I. HUTCHINSON, & CLIVE SMITH / LABEL: DEATH WALTZ RECORDING CO. / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Slava Tsukerman’s 1982 New Wave punk rock sci-fi film Liquid Sky has been experiencing a bit of a resurgence as of late. Just in time for the film’s 25th anniversary, reissue company Vinegar Syndrome debuted the movie on Blu-ray at the end of 2017, with a wide release in early spring of 2018. This marked the first time the aggressively genre-bending movie had been available on home video in years and, given the rapturous response to its release, it comes as no surprise that Death Waltz Recording Co. reissued the soundtrack on remastered vinyl earlier this year.
While the soundtrack’s been more readily available over the last few decades, with CD reissues on Varese Sarabande in 1990 and on Japan’s NSW in 1997, both of those have been as expensive to acquire as original vinyl pressings. That makes this reissue on 180-gram psychedelic swirl vinyl an absolute necessity for anyone who’s been recently turned onto the film courtesy of the gorgeous 4K restoration.
Composed by director Tsukerman, the score for the film is, as the label says, “dizzying, hallucinatory and off kilter [...] that is at times terrifying, at others soothing but always interesting.” Death Waltz also says it’s “like nothing you have ever heard before,” which might have been true in 1982, but 35 years on, the electronic score doesn’t really grab the listener as much as it once might have.
The tinny synths, driven by basic percussion sounds, sound like nothing so much as the music for any number of early ‘90s computer games, which one could suppose is a sign of how far things went in the span of a decade - what was once mindblowing in a cinematic context was now just background noise for someone to move a character around a screen. That said, it’s the final tracks on Liquid Sky – Paula E. Sheppard’s performance of “Me And My Rhythm Box” and the cut-up pastiche of “Wordplay” – which really push the boundaries of punk and new wave into what would ultimately become No Wave.
The packaging is far more timeless than the original LP artwork, which looks like it was cobbled together in someone’s basement. This is to say nothing of the liquid-looking, absolutely entrancing vinyl pressing, which looks like it could be made entirely out of drugs. It’s gorgeous, and almost seems a shame to place it inside the jacket and put it away.