Dennis Dread's essay and interview with composer Andrew Belling, entitled "Rebels, Fairies and Führers: The Importance of Being Wizards" goes a long way to explaining the musical stylings of Belling's work for the 1977 Ralph Bakshi animated cult classic, Wizards.
For instance, the central theme, "Time Will Tell" with vocals by Susan Anton - Bakshi infamously hated it, saying "I really didn't care much for that song." Belling, on the other hand, states in his interview with Dread, "I really like the end credits. It had the feel that I wanted, and it had the kind of modal tone of the film."
The score, essentially, reflects the musical stylings familiar to any viewer of various Bakshi films. It's the entirety of the Western musical canon blended together into a series of pieces which reference centuries of composition. "Jukebox Junky Blues" is a xylophone-accented bit of piano jazz, whereas "Blackwolf Finds the Record" invokes the film's villain with "seething synths, spectral organ and sharp martial cadence."
"Fairy Attack" is all burbling synths and "Gathering of the Heavies" is pure prog-rock funk. It's all over the place, and yet, Belling's skill makes it all sound cohesive. His repetition of themes for the fairies, as well as the protagonist Avatar and villain Blackwolf, give Wizards' score a dark night stoner take on Peter & The Wolf.
Belling's score for Wizards is very much of its time, but as Dread makes note of in his essay, given that the film was very much a late-70s look at the failures of the 60s counterculture revolution, the backward glancing film is reflected by its score, which is an inverted take on some of the music of the same era.
40 years on, Andrew Belling's Wizards is now officially on vinyl for the first time ever, and Wyrd War has done a marvellous job of putting it out. From the cover image of the robotic assassin Necron 99, to images of fairies on the back of the jacket, it's as visually compelling as it is aurally.
The recordings sound good, if a tad muddy. Some of the synths in the lower ranges have a watery quality to them which doesn't work as well as the higher-toned synthesizers, the harps or flute, and some of the fuzzier guitars aren't as robust as they could be. Given the age of these recordings, and the fact that they were made for an independent, counterculture animated film, the fact that they survived at all is a stone miracle.
WIZARDS (1977) / COMPOSER: ANDREW BELLING / LABEL: WYRD WAR / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW