- I recently watched ‘Evil Dead Rise‘, a film so bad that I believe I may be the only person outside of cartoons to have had random punctuation spill out of their mouth. Amongst the inexplicable awfulness was a particularly bad score by Stephen McKeon, one so lazy and bereft of invention that I’m amazed anyone put their name to it. Of course, in recent years, the importance and artistry of the film soundtrack have become recognised more widely, partly as limited-edition vinyl reissues have appealed to collectors, and partly due to musical offal peddlers like Hans Zimmer becoming the equivalent of The Three Tenors – a ‘will this do?’ gesture which turned into an excuse to parade your cultured tastes [see also Ladysmith Black Mambazo]. I digress. It was particularly grating, often literally, with violin string glissandi, telegraphed stingers and Dolby-effects demos crammed in to take the place of actual sound design and – gasp – musical composition. Utter codswallop.
Mark Korvan is better than that – a lot better. He’s become particularly famous in the wake of his excellent, atmospheric scores to ‘The VVitch’ and ‘The Lighthouse’, achievements magnified by the fact he combined ‘eerie’ with ‘period piece’ without tripping over his shoelaces. So, it’s sad to learn he felt the need to make the Apprehension Engine, a Heath Robinson attempt to fix a problem that isn’t there. Looking like an Argos do-it-yourself workbench that you’ve assembled incorrectly, it allows you to make spooky noises via bowed metal rulers, E-bows, custom magnetic pickups and a hand-crank. Includes a free scream when you see the price tag of $10,000.
Many of you will be aware you can make a satisfying twanging noise with a metal ruler for less than that amount, indeed, it’s quite easy to make all these noises (AND MORE) without one, much as I have no doubt it’s tremendous fun to play around with. Korvan said he was driven to create this machine as he was fed up using digital samples, which is a noble reason – but surely, all he’s managed to do is to once again limit the range of what sound designers create? Attack a cabbage with a machete; fire a nailgun at a drum skin; fart in the bath. The only way we can escape lazy, recycled gimmicky scores is by freeing composers of a limited set of tools and rules. $10,000!
Buy one here. Buy two and send me one!