August 5, 2013

Settling the Score: A MANIAC Vinyl LP Comparison

DeathWaltzManiac

I must admit, I wasn’t familiar with the composer before dropping the needle on the Maniac LP. “Music by Rob,” that’s all I was given in the lead up to listening to this beauty. The synth driven score immediately took me back to the midnight movies of the mid-eighties. Or, at least that’s when I was watching them on the trusty, ol’ Zenith VHS player. It has hints of Carpenter and Fiedel, Carlos and Vangelis, and it is absolutely awesome. From tops to tails, for me, this thing works. The closing track is called “Juno” and features singer Chloe Alper. What a hell of a way to wrap this one up. Her vocals are soothing, haunting and poppy all at once. For me this score will be in heavy rotation for a long time.

Rob did his part and and two seperate, distinct vinyls have come out of it. Now you’re left with the dilemma of which vinyl do you want to go after? The folks at Mondo pressed on 180 gram black vinyl and also had randomly inserted white. My copy was black so there’s nothing of note there. The cover illustration by Jeff Proctor is fantastic (Someone is getting scalped and she seems a bit surprised at that). The layout on the back of the cover by Rob Jones is also a fine wraparound to the eighties. A nice black and white photo collage from the film, track listing header and credit billing block footer. It’s a simple design and works perfectly with the score.

Death Waltz Recordings had three 180 gram pressings: metallic silver with blood splatter, flesh-colored with blood splatter and a picture disc. My copy is the flesh/blood splatter edition. I’ve heard a few arguments about colored vinyl not sounding as good as black vinyl. If there is truth to that there is no evidence of it here. The sound was fantastic. Death Waltz has done an amazing job again with this release. The stock used for the cover has to be four times thicker than that of a regular cover. There is a silver lamination over the entire gatefold as well giving it a mirror effect. Jay Shaw used close up photographs of the mannequins from the film and flooded them with pink and blue light. The interior of the gatefold has liner notes from Shaw and Rob, the facing page has the track listing and soundtrack credits. The back cover is a look into the hopeful eyes of mannequin and the film credits.

I love both packages for different reasons and it’s always interesting to see how different artists approach the same project. Now that Mondo is sold out and the fact that Death Waltz can’t sell directly to the US for this release you’re pretty much off to ebay for either of these. My preference is for Death Waltz’s treatment here. The mirror effect is unique and tonally perfect for the film.  I dig the gatefold design with the liner notes and the weight of the stock as well. You can’t go wrong with either one though since the score is one of the best I’ve heard in years.

Has anyone else secured a vinyl copy of this incredible score? If so, which one? And if anybody has an opinion on colored or black vinyl I’d love to hear that too.