The Globeflower Masters Vol.1 is a great imaginary soundtrack for your head and your soul. It could soundtrack any number of films you wish to play out in real life; a post-lockdown soirée, an evening at the beach, a night in with an intimate. It never strays too far from the original source, but there's so much to explore in that world. You bring yourself; it'll bring the spice of elegance.
ARE YOU a sucker for an imaginary soundtrack, filmscore funk? Hell, I am.
Ever since the days of Barry Adamson’s inestimably influential Moss Side Story, the score for a Manchester crime flick yet to be made, and its strapline: “In a black and white world, murder brings a touch of colour”. And it really did, the whole concept added a dimension to my musical appreciation; especially at a time when soundtracks had lost so much of the sass and louche groove, with swirling, identikit Hollywood orchestra grandstanding occluding the view.
Then, of course, came Tarantino, who breathed a new (admittedly retro) life back into the form; and crate-digging reissue labels such as Crippled Dick Hot Wax began to unearth the best, the weirdest and the most bizarre of continental soundtracks of the Sixties and the Seventies, such as Vampyros Lesbos, and their three-volume Beat At Cinecitta series once again making names like Morricone and Piccioni hallowed with the musical cognoscenti.
This past year or so a few acts across the globe have playing with the soundtrack jazz-funk atmospheres to fine effect; Melbourne’s Surprise Chef released one good and one very good album of grooves last year, and there’s an offshoot album in the same vein by The Pro-Teens out last week; Sweden’s Sven Wunder has taken a country at a time approach to his reprising of the soundtrack sound, releasing albums of, in turn, Turkish psych, Japanese and, in June, a very Italian film score vibe, with the brilliant Natura Morta; and now Brighton, excuse the pun, hoves into the imaginary celluloid sounds world as Glenn Fallows and Mark Treffel bring us The Globeflower Masters Vol.1 for Mr Bongo.
Both are musicians who’ve been involved with some of the more intelligent and eclectic British groove creations of recent years: Glenn with the rare groove dectet The Impellers, and the Latin bliss of Andres y Xavi; meanwhile, Mark can cite involvement with chilled electronicists Blue States and The Soul Steppers.
The Globeflower Masters project has its genesis from an idea of Glenn’s to dive into the glorious musical pool created by the soundtrack and library composers of the golden age of the form, say 1965-75; something which had always informed his music, but which he felt he’d like to explore as a main wellspring. He sketched out a few demos, passed them onto Mark, who he felt could bring the chops to fulfil the vision.
For his part, Mark had an arsenal of vintage synths, pianos and other fun toys which could supplement the drums, guitars and bass that Glenn had begun work on. As the album progressed, work shifted from Glenn fleshing out Mark’s ideas to more fully collaborative exchange of ideas, shakin’ it all down to a final eight tracks for volume one. Which of course, rather excellently, suggests that a volume two is at least in the air … .
Necessarily informed by the giants of the genre, such as Axelrod, Morricone, Gainsbourg, Jean-Claude Vannier and Piero Umiliani, what the pair created during the summer of 2020 is luscious, atmospheric, and a trip into a film you need to make for yourself. It’s homage, not pastiche; it’s a love letter to a strand of music which only seems to have more vivacity as the years pass. Lights, camera, action … and … speed …
“Faith In Time” sets the tone, is superbly cinematic, all spy movie jazz organ, one of those intricately clicky bass lines that they just don’t make anymore, at once funky and darkly propulsive. Strings sweep and a deliciously unnecessarily overdriven guitar brings the correct fuzz meander. Sitting partway between Axelrod and Vannier, it pushes every conceivable soundtrack groove button.
“Scene In Roma” does both what you’d expect and what you wholly need it to; it shimmers with the bright blues of the Med, of a sophistication we can only dream of; of white Lancia convertibles with red upholstery, all of which it conveys in strings, airy percussion, a vamping jazz. There’s sterner moments, as any film score would have; after all, could there be any film at all without some opposition of light and dark, good vs evil? “Who Knows When” blisses right out in the sun, outsize shades, cool neckerchief and lounge piano swaying along. Anytime you’re within a mile of the summer sea, make sure you have this to hand.
“Hidden In The Pampas” gets all thriller score on us: a moody guitar, all minor chords and spring reverb, blends with the classic eeriness of theremin to bring us the kind of scene in which a darker purpose is discovered – in that weird, stepped down aperture faux-moonlight – in the too-good-to-be-true fishing village. Which sets up perfectly for the harpsichord and theremin funk of “Fear Me Now”, luxurious with bass meander and chilling string lines, modular synth stings and trills, ending on a brighter resolution, the fear passed … for now.
“How It Shimmers” really does, glissando and delicate cymbals, spacious piano, guitar bathed with twinkling vibrato, music to entwine with a lover under the stars. There’s a hint of Morcheeba and Groove Armada in the bliss – which comes, of course, from ging back to the main source. Later, the track swings into a more The Taking Of Pelham 123 tense grandeur to keep you on your toes, before settling back into laidback lushness once more.
“El Ejido” builds from a spooky nachtmusik waltz to a suspenseful swing of tentative, almost stifled instrumentation, organ glittering and strings building as the tension releases sooo slowly. Are we in the the moment of denouement for our heroes; the final peril? The bite of fuzz guitar might suggest so, and the whole keeps expanding with a mysterious air, before the sun breaks through on the easy boardwalk strut of “Arise”, a loose-limbed easy-beat conclusion that balms, a little bit Charlie’s Angels, even. What? You think that’s a bad thing for a music to be? Get outta here.
The Globeflower Masters Vol.1 is a great imaginary soundtrack for your head and your soul. It could soundtrack any number of films you wish to play out in real life; a post-lockdown soirée, an evening at the beach, a night in with an intimate. It never strays too far from the original source, but there’s so much to explore in that world; and writing like this, it’s nowhere near as easy as you might think. It doesn’t go beyond the form, then; but instead it drops deeper into a world of nigh-on endless sonic possibilities.
You bring yourself, maybe a cocktail shaker; it’ll bring the spice of elegance.
Glenn Fallows And Mark Treffel Present The Globeflower Masters Vol.1 will be released by Me Bongo digitally, on CD and on LP on September 10th, and may be pre-ordered now over at Bandcamp.