on 9 October 2005
Luke Haines was really the obvious choice to create the soundtrack to this film... a visually lavish and surprisingly avant-garde adaptation of B.S. Johnson's experimental novel of the same name, about a meek and mild-mannered file clerk's gradual descent into accountancy, terrorism and all out social contempt. Haines' past work, both with The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder, had flirted with issues like depression, murder, angst and the class struggle, whilst his one-off 1997 album, under the name Baader Meinhof, would offer listeners a taste of his first experiments with electronic music, and his growing obsession with counter-culture terrorist organisations of the 1970's.
Haines - always one of the most imaginative and intelligent songwriters to emerge from the early 90's indie-scene - attacks the whole Malry concept with relish; alluding back to certain themes and motifs from the Baader Meinhof album, as well as records like How I Learned To Love The Bootboys and his eventual solo-debut proper, the great Oliver Twist Manifesto. As with the majority of Haines's career, the music and overall lyrical subject matter skirts fairly close to the territory of bad-taste humour, but is anchored by his intelligence as a songwriter and his knack for creating gorgeous pop melodies. The music freely mixes between electronic samples that bring to mind people like Aphex Twin and Autechre, with more organic instrumentation, like toy-pianos, drums, strings and guitars. Sometimes the guitars have been treated or are layered with distortion, which gives some of the guitar work that same fuzzy 'glam-rock' style familiar from Baader Meinhof and certain parts of Now I'm A Cowboy, whilst at other times we have a more recognisable acoustic strum merging with the electronic blips and bleeps.
Many of the songs will already be familiar to the majority of Haines' devotees, with tracks like the central refrain, Discomania (a theme repeated throughout the album and the film) also featuring on The Oliver Twist Manifesto, whilst the song How To Hate The Working Classes recently featured on the excellent Luke Haines Is Dead box-set. Added to those tracks there's also a hauntingly minimal interpretation of In The Bleak Midwinter- which is certainly one of Haines' most snipping and sinsister ballads - Celestial Discomania, which takes the template established by the more up-tempt Discomania, only to strip away the clutter to create a refrain that is more haunting and ambiguous. Meanwhile, The abovementioned How To Hate The Working Classes is a slow-tempo track that continues the bleak social observations of songs like The Upper Classes from Now I'm A Cowboy, or Bugger Bognor from the Das Capital compilation.
England Scotland and Wales is another sniping critique on the current state of the country, which compliments How To Hate... perfectly, and acts as yet another contender for Haines's greatest song ever. There's also some instrumental mood-pieces thrown in which help tie together the more traditional songs, and then of course, there's that unbelievable threatening cover of Nick Lowe's I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass, which is reminiscent of the re-mix of There's Gonn'a Be An Accident from Luke Haines is Dead... in the respect that both songs mix minimal electronic music alongside more traditional instruments to create a minimal, claustrophobic piece that almost suffocates us with it's intensity. The music is often as dark as the lyrics and really works well when coupled with the evocative imagery of the film (it really is one of the most underrated and best British films of the decade so far... it's just a shame that the current DVD release is such poor quality).
Some will no doubt feel a knee-jerk reaction to some of the lyrical sentiments (home terrorism and bombs on busses aren't necessarily in-vogue given recent events), though there's no denying Haines' natural talent and ability to craft perfect pop songs from even the most unpleasant of subjects (...those with a further interest in the work of Luke Haines should progress straight on to After Murder Park, which features delightful indie-pop like Unsolved Child Murder and Light Aircraft on Fire).
The Christie Malry Soundtrack is another great release from Haines, and is an album that can be appreciated even if you're unfamiliar with the film itself. Those familiar with Haines previous (and indeed, subsequent) work will know what to expect from the music collected on this album, with the songs generally continuing his favourite themes - terrorism, class-war and all out social-disgust - but with the snipping lyrics set against some gorgeous melodies and an overall instrumental bed made up of chiming bells, grinding electronics, epic strings and a hint of guitars.