Vangelis - Blade Runner bootlegs

After listening to Vangelis' Blade Runner album for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I developed a bit of an obsession for the music of Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic. As you probably know, the original soundtrack never gained an official release. For reasons much speculated over Vangelis obviously refused to participate in a soundtrack album back in 1982. So what saw the light of day after the film's opening were de facto-cover versions of some themes from the soundtrack: A bunch of studio musos were hired to record orchestral arrangements of Vangelis' electronic music. The result is a kind of James Last-ization of the wonderful original score and should be avoided by all means.

Finally, Vangelis released a Blade Runner album in 1994, twelve years after the movie. This isn't a soundtrack album, but rather a concept album based on the film. Like Vangelis said in interviews, the record consists of music that was composed during his work on the Blade Runner score. So what you get is music from the film that's for the most part edited and/or has new intros and endings attached to it. There's also four tracks which where obviously intended for the soundtack and ultimately not used. Some of the tracks also have snippets of dialogue at the beginning, none of which correspond with the placement of the music in the actual movie. It's a great record, sort of Vangelis' personal evocation of the film, but a far shot from being any kind of soundtrack album.

All this information was new to me and I decided to track down some of the bootlegs on the net which actually proved to be quite easy. So here is my Blade Runner-mega post with two versions of the soundtrack (the best ones available from what I've heard) and one very special goodie.

First up, there's the Gongo Edition, purportedly a Romanian bootleg. It also contains the short cue Ladd Company Logo by John Williams, composed when Vangelis' involvement in the score wasn't sure, and Bicycle Riders (Harps Of The Ancient Temple) by Gail Laughton. It's a music-only version, so there's no dialogue or ambience, and I guess it's your best choice if you want the main themes without most of the reprises and incidental music.

The second version is the two disc ESPER Edition, generally considered to be the definite representation of the score. It contains virtually the complete underscore including incidental music and various reprises. Occasionally, there's also some ambience and dialogue from the film, though in contrast to the official Vangelis release it actually matches with the underscore. I think both versions have their merits: while I personally find that the shorter Gongo Edition works better as an album of music per se, the ESPER bootleg is a unique and hauntingly beautiful evocation of the film. So get them both, after all they're for free!

Los Angeles, November 2019 was also produced by the people wh
o did the ESPER edition. It's actually not another bootleg version of the soundtrack. Instead, it uses ambience and sound effects from the film (and, according to some sources, also from the Blade Runner video game) along with some of the music low in the mix to recreate the atmosphere of Blade Runner's world. It's a kind of aural travelogue through the film's near future L.A., a somnambulic drift through a seedy, bustling, rain soaked moloch of a city. To give you an idea, think of a brooding, nocturnal urbane counterpart to KLF's Chill Out album. Btw, all the tracks segue into each other, so if you want to burn this to cd you should do so without pauses.

All three bootlegs are bit torrent downloads, so once again big up the original uploaders!


Dub Syndicate - One Way System

(Click on the picture to download.)

Here's a slice of trippy dub psychedelia with sharply accentuated, heavily treated drum sounds, incredibly deep bass lines and keyboards, guitars, sound effects and the occasional vocals hazily sliding in and out of the mix. Released in 1983, this second album by avant dub collective Dub Syndicate still stands as a prime example of early On U-Sound productions and a testament to the genius of both producer Adrian Sherwood and Dub Syndicate's head honcho Style Scott, also drummer for Jamaica's finest session band Roots Radics. And it's also the perfect soundtrack for the glaring sunlight and the dizzying heat weighing down on Vienna at the moment.


Main Source - Breaking Atoms

(Link expired.)

This is a record I truly cherish. Though easily on par with other hiphop records released at the time, like De La Soul Is Dead, Black Sheep's A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing, A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory or Step In The Arena by Gang Starr, it seems to me that it's virtually unknown outside of hiphop circles. Full of sonic trickery and inventivness, it is also proof that Large Professor is one of the great hiphop producers. The intricate layers of samples combined with a raw funkyness make Breaking Atoms a sheer pleasure to listen to. Take my word for it, after the first few bars your head will be a-boppin' and your feet a-stompin'! Also, I bought this cd in July 1992 in New York, so it brings back fond memories of three weeks spent in a very hot and humid city, with a daily routine of sleeping until noon, hanging around until evening and staying up all night.


Jammer - N.A.S.T.Y. Mix

(Click on the picture to download.)

Some more griminess, this time courtesy of ex-N.A.S.T.Y. Crew member Jammer. This mix was also a cover cd of Deuce Magazine in 2003 and it's basically a showcase of Jammer's then-recent production work. Now I can't really claim to be an expert on the genre, but this is still one of the best grime-cds I've ever listened to, be it mixtapes, dj mixes or regular albums. The quality of the tracks is conistently high, and though I guess most people will prefer the first half with the vocal versions of classics like Kano's Boys Love Girls and Davinche's Grimey, I especially love the all instrumental second half.

It's without an MC to guide you through the tracks and provide vocal hooks that you realize how odd a lot of this music really is: all sparse, hyper-syncopated, spastic rhythms, blaring and squelching synth noises and eruptous bass lines, quite abrasive, yet weirdly catchy. There's a strange dichotomy between the roughness and sparseness of the sounds and the often bombastic arrangements, resulting in a kind of minimalist maximalism. Best of all are the parts where those pseudo-oriental, plinkety-plonkety synth strings come in, of which Jammer was obviously quite fond at the time. Fantastic stuff, this.


Roll Deep - Creeper Vol. 1 & 2

(Click on the picture to download.)

I don't really understand why this mixtape never got officially released. Most people seem to think it was because Roll Deep's label Relentless didn't want it to detract from the crew's proper debut album "In At The Deep End". But then again, that record came out last year and - at least according to various sources on the net - Creeper 1 was already recorded in 2003??? I'm confused.

Anyway, a couple of months ago renowned grime dj Logan Sama got the thumbs up from Roll Deep's Wiley to make the first two Creeper-mixtapes available for download on his MySpace-site. Seems that the download-links have been taken down, so I thought I'd share them.

Each of the two Creeper-volumes is a lot better than the disappointing and compromised "In At The Deep End". There are no weird attempts at pop-rap (which they're obviously not good at) and accessability for a wider demographic. Instead, these mixtapes feature uncompromised in-yer-face grime tracks (and a few hiphop tunes) with lots of freestyling that have the same kind of raw energy as Roll Deep's best live radio shows.


Donnacha Costello - Together Is The New Alone

This album was released on Mille Plateaux in 2001 and currently out of print. It will, however, be reissued on Donnacha Costello's own Minimise imprint early next year (see comments). So I took down the link, not just because the artist asked for it, but also because it's the purpose of this blog to post music that's rare, out of print, insanely pricy or otherwise not readily available.

"Together Is The New Alone" is an incredibly beautiful, lovingly crafted record of melodic, ambienty electronica, so be sure to get it upon its rerelease! In the meantime you can download a fine little dj-mix by Donnacha Costello on the Minimise-homepage (scroll down for a tracklist and the mp3).


N.E.R.D. - In Search Of... (original version)

(Click on the picture to download.)

This record has a somewhat dodgy release history. If I remember correctly, the first version of this album was never given an official US release and was only available in Europe for a couple of months. But obviously promo cds of this version were sent out to US media, because there were a couple of reviews. Most of them were less than positive (though in Europe the record was quite acclaimed), and at the end of 2001 N.E.R.D. decided to re-record the whole album. This new version with different arrangements, added live instrumentation by funk rockers Spymob and a slightly different track order eventually got a worldwide release in 2002.

While some critics hailed the second version as a masterpiece, others deemed it a failure. And of course, there was much discussion weather the purely electronic version was superior to the final product. Well, now you can make up your own mind, because here are both versions. Personally, I'd say that both records are neither masterpieces nor failures. There's enough intruiging and inventive music to be found on either version, but I think they're both also seriously flawed. First of all, Pharrell simply isn't the greatest vocalist out there (and though in the meantime he's considerably grown as an mc, I still find his strained falsetto singing a bit unpleasant). Also, the smugness of the Pharrell-persona tends to be quite grating, especially when he thinks he has something smart to say. I'd actually advise you to utterly ignore the often quite cringeworthy lyrics.

I tend to prefer the first version though, simply because I find Spymob's approach to funk rock quite hamfisted. On the harder, funkier tracks they tend to sound like some sub-Limp Bizkits band, often ruining a fine contemporary update of Prince's shiny, sleazily slick Parade-era avant-funk. On the other hand, the slower tracks are actually helped by the live instrumentation, gaining a nice late seventies/early eighties funk ballad-feel. Still, both versions also contain their fair amount of filler as well as a some of the best work the Neptunes ever did.