The Song Doesn't Remain the Same
February 21, 2009 11:54 PM   Subscribe

Jimmy Page's lost soundtrack for Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising is worth checking out on a Saturday night (scroll down to the middle of the page to hear it). Droning and dark, it might have fit the completed film (NSFW) quite well if Anger hadn't fired Page before he finished the tracks. Anger, the legendary avant garde filmmaker and gossip, replaced Page with former Charles Manson associate and convicted killer Bobby Beausolei, who recorded the official soundtrack with a group of fellow prisoners called The Freedom Orchestra.
posted by Bookhouse (24 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The films linked to above are really best seen on a larger screen. I highly recommend you check out the DVD collection that came out a few years ago for maximum awesomeness.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:58 PM on February 21, 2009

"Droning and dark, it might have fit the completed film quite well..."

I, of course, immediately started the movie, followed by the Page soundtrack, commencing when the other, inferior soundtrack begins, which I promptly faded out...

Yep... it works. But this Anger guy? Comes off as a bit of a Satanist, don't he?!
posted by markkraft at 12:44 AM on February 22, 2009

Beausoleil and Anger have an interesting history. Beausoleil denies it, but there were rumors they were lovers, and they did live together for a while. He was originally going to star in Lucifer Rising and apparently was going to have something to do with the soundtrack as well (he was a pretty respected and well-known musician in LA's avant garde scene in his pre-murderer days), but then they had a rather nasty falling-out, and Beausoleil stole most of the footage they'd shot and buried it in the desert. Anger supposedly used black magic to put a curse on him, and shortly afterwards Beausoleil fell in with Charles Manson, murdered Gary Hinman (he had nothing to do with the Tate/LaBianca murders, he had already been arrested for the Hinman murder when they occurred, in fact Charlie and the girls' planned defense was that the Tate/LaBianca murders were an effort by Tex and the girls to commit copycat killings to exonerate Bobby and that Charlie had nothing to do with any of it), and went to prison for life. Some of the early Lucifer Rising footage with Beausoleil appears in Invocation of my Demon Brother.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:51 AM on February 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, there were rumors that Bobby may have had some kind of sexual relationship with Manson himself as well, or at least that Manson was sexually attracted to him. Manson certainly looked up to him, he was what Manson wanted to be: a successful musician with a bright future, women throwing themselves at him everywhere he went, etc. He was the one guy involved with the family that Charlie saw as anything but someone he could use.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:58 AM on February 22, 2009

Aaaand if you're in NYC, then P.S.1 is having an opening on Sunday/the 22nd/today for a series of exhibitions including the first major survey of Kenneth Anger's body of work at a U.S. museum in over a decade.
posted by suedehead at 1:16 AM on February 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

I highly recommend the DVD collection as well. Part of the maximum awesomeness is Anger's dishy commentary, which is well worth the price of admission. The films themselves are incredible too, for a variety of reasons. Some are sensational spectacles of hedonistic sexuality and decadence, and some are almost painterly in their beauty (There is a bit in Puce Moment that always looks to me like a John Singer Sargent painting in motion.)

Thanks - I love Kenneth Anger.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:04 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is anyone else having a nagging urge to see if this soundtrack syncs up well with other iconic films?
posted by well_balanced at 2:17 AM on February 22, 2009

Are the links working for other people? I can't stream or DL it successfully.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:41 AM on February 22, 2009

try these links: part 1 and part 2
posted by well_balanced at 6:24 AM on February 22, 2009

I actually like the Beausoleil soundtrack somewhat better! That said, this is a great post, thanks for this curio...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:58 AM on February 22, 2009

Yup, those are working, thanks.

posted by snuffleupagus at 6:59 AM on February 22, 2009

I'd forgotten what a really cool movie Lucifer Rising was! Much better than "Invocation of my Demon Brother" for example...

One of the interesting things about these movies is that you're not in some sense seeing "actors" - these people genuinely believe that they're performing occult rituals - it makes some of the scenes that would otherwise be pretentious very interesting...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:10 AM on February 22, 2009

these people genuinely believe that they're performing occult rituals

Well, they sort of are. Whether or not the occult rituals actually "work", they're still performing occult rituals.

Skwisgaar: There's no such things as religion!
Nathan: No, what you mean is you don't believe in God. There is such a thing as religion.
Skwisgaar: Oh yeah? Then proves it!
Nathan: Well, there's uh, a Bible right here.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:37 AM on February 22, 2009

But this Anger guy? Comes off as a bit of a Satanist, don't he?!

That's because he is one (or at least was involved in it at some point in his life)
posted by scarello at 7:47 AM on February 22, 2009

Anger claimed Page took three years to deliver the music, and the final product was only 25 minutes of droning and was useless.

Three years? He delivered 25 minutes of useless droning on a nightly basis when performing "Dazed and Confused" on tour.

But seriously, this is a mega-awesome post. Let's not forget that in addition to his other achievements, Anger's Hollywood Babylon anticipated today's TMZ-ish celebrity culture by several decades.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:03 AM on February 22, 2009

As for Page, he would have to settle for composing the soundtracks to the somewhat less-esteemed Death Wish II and Death Wish 3.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:06 AM on February 22, 2009

When I moved to Seattle in 1987 I began to hang out with a number of OTO people. Despite my skeptical world-view, they seemed to tolerate me, perhaps because my name is Crowley. At the time I was fascinated with the Manson stuff, and had long been a huge Led Zeppelin fan.

I remember attending a Kenneth Anger film festival here in Seattle, possibly at the Neptune theater, way back in about 1988. Watching the films again after such a long passage of time leaves me with the same reaction; vaguely intriguing, but with a large dose of meh... The opening scenes in Lucifer Rising look like outtakes from a 1960's Disney travelogue; erupting lava from Hawaii, bubbling hot mud from Yellowstone Park...

I guess my favorite film was Puce Moment, for the simple reason that it introduced me to the word "puce"...

For a quasi-professional, Anger's chronic avoidance of tripods and dollies is annoying, though clearly prescient in accurately predicting the future production values of pornography.

In the end, it became clear to me that a number of these OTO people really believed this stuff, and I began to disassociate myself from the whole Manson-Anger-Crowley-OTO thing.

The Jimmy Page page is a great find, but the music is no Achilles Last Stand.
posted by Tube at 8:08 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

There is a bootleg CD of Luzifer Rising on Dynamite Studio (DS92JO21), be aware that these are actually out-takes from the Bobby Beausoleil soundtrack. But if you're inclined to trade lossless out-takes and recordings, there is a fan-made remastering of the Page soundtrack as a single track, plus some studio out-takes which make for an interesting listen.

snuffleupagus - Video DownloadHelper allows you to get the MP3s hidden behind those flash-based players, amongst it's other features.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:26 AM on February 22, 2009

Led Zeppelin is a great band. I listen to them whenever I'm alarmed about my hedgerow.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:44 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

This begs for a Manson mashup. Monk chanting + "I'll never say never to always ..." = It's a good thing I don't take these people seriously, or I'd be terrified.
posted by adipocere at 9:04 AM on February 22, 2009

I just realized that Bobby Beausoleil's score sounds an awful lot like the score for Psychomania, also released in '73. I'm suddenly jonesing for George Sanders and a satanic frog.
posted by queensissy at 11:54 AM on February 22, 2009

This is fascinating. I first learned about this reading Zachary Lazar's Sway. I did a review of the book and received this nasty note from Kenneth Anger, which I still have hanging in my office.
posted by Stephen Elliott at 3:04 PM on February 22, 2009

Well, they sort of are. Whether or not the occult rituals actually "work", they're still performing occult rituals.

This brings to mind Marjorie Cameron's role in Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome:

After her husband Jack Parsons' death, she starred in Kenneth Anger's 1954 cult-film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. Both Cameron and Kenneth believed that this film was proof to the world that she had manifested the force of Babalon on Earth. Anger later said of her that "She was doing art for the sake of magick and her soul. She never sold her paintings."

I guess it kind of depends on what you mean by "work." In their minds, it did "work." It's sort of like any other religion in that respect. The power, in this case the "magick," is in the force of the belief of those participating. The films served as a reiforcement to the rituals; not only as a documentary record, but as a way to convey their effects - the interior state of the participants and the powers they are invoking.

That said, before I had a chance to look at a cast list, I thought Marjorie Cameron was a boy. And speaking of sountracks, I highly recommend synching up Pleasure Dome with the first Sabbath album.

No, I wasn't high.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:53 PM on February 22, 2009

Whether or not the occult rituals actually "work", they're still performing occult rituals.

As (more or less) an empirical-minded agnostic with a Buddhist-bent (i.e. an undecided) when it comes to the question of the supernatural, I confess that a lot of this kind of stuff makes me somewhat uncomfortable (which I suppose is the point).

I'm not here referring to the actual film or soundtrack in question (i.e. in the FPP), but rather with certain general aspects of the occult (either pop-casual or uber-serious) as I understand them to have developed.

If I was a glibly ironic fetishist of pop culture, I could write it off. If I was a died-in-the-wool Satanist, I would be hell on wheels. If I was a Christian, I could say a prayer. If I was a confirmed atheist, it would be of no alarm. But as I am none of these, the propensity of psychological suggestiveness among humans tends to make me think that perhaps, just perhaps, we should be more careful about what it is that we are invoking and why.

Clearly, to me at least, the fact that a criminally insane and probably evil nut like Manson has been casually made iconic in pop culture--his ubiquitous image, like that of Che Guevara, pictured on t-shirts--is deeply, deeply problematic. But obviously that's not really what I'm referring to here. What I'm referring to instead is the willful decision to invoke dark powers, even if one only half-believes them.
posted by ornate insect at 6:41 PM on February 22, 2009

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