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High Contrast

Music, movies and magic

2017 Feb 16     
2 Bit Thugs

Fresh from his work on the 'T2 Trainspotting' soundtrack, the Hospital Records star picks his top five musical movie moments

To soundtrack the opening sequence of T2 Trainspotting was a genuine dream come true for High Contrast. It'd be a dream come true for any musician, probably, but for the Welshman known more formally as Lincoln Barrett, there was additional resonance. Not just because he's been studying films since the age of eight (yes, eight), but also because - like many others entering adulthood when Danny Boyle's inaugural Irvine Welsh adaptation came charging head down Leith Walk at full speed in 1996 - the original Trainspotting was kind of a big deal for Lincoln.

"Yeah, for it to be the sequel to a film that had such a big influence on me as a teenager... and to kick the movie off? I truly couldn't ask for more," he enthuses.

The song in question is Shotgun Mouthwash. A singular, stomping, fuzzbox-firing slice of nihilism, it ticks a selection of boxes. It's not just a remarkable creative quantum leap for Lincoln, it's also the ideal paranoid rejoinder for Iggy Pop's celebration of hedonism Lust For Life, and the perfect fit for T2's powerful opening sequence. Especially with the killer opening lyric "It's the beginning of the end, so you might as well set fire to your friends".

Interestingly, even with Lincoln's past work for Danny Boyle (co-scoring the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony with Underworld), the record was made entirely autonomously from the movie. A good year before, in fact. It was actually the one-take result of a late-night binge on early American psychedelic and garage rock (chiefly Rhino Records' Nuggets series) and, like T2, a little bit of the past catching up with Barrett.

"I was actually the frontman for a lesser-known hardcore band when I was a teenager," he reveals. "So I guess these things come full circle or at least creep through the subconscious."

His consistent passion for movies needs no subconscious creeping, however. So with the memorable opening sequence to T2 still fresh in our minds, we asked Lincoln for his five favourite moments where music and motion picture work so powerfully together they changed his life. Pass the popcorn, please...


A Clockwork Orange opening sequence

 

"You have that incredible long camera pull-out from the close-up on Alex's face - taking in his fellow droogs and the whole Korova milk bar - while you hear Wendy Carlos's synthesized version of Purcell's March For The Funeral Of Queen Mary. It's such an incredible shot as you stare at his smirking face looking back at you, and the music must have been so alien to hear at the time. For a lot of people, this may have been the first ever time they experienced synthesizer music. Made doubly weird by it being a classical piece. I watched the film when I was 11 but I had the soundtrack for a few years before that. Classical music on synths really resonated with me - it was one of my earliest obsessions with contrast."

 

Assault On Precinct 13 theme

 

"John Carpenter's first professional film - he made Dark Star two years before, but that was as a student. Once again, the opening music is an early synthesizer piece but with a very catchy riff. As a kid, watching this film knowing that this guy not only wrote and directed the movie but also wrote the score himself really blew me away and inspired me. It actually got me into playing keyboards, and his simple but memorable melodies have been a big influence and something I've aspired to ever since. He was the first person to help me understand what was creatively possible as a one-man band, as it were. I would have been around eight or perhaps nine. My parents called me the 40-year-old midget - I was an intellectually precocious child."

 

Reservoir Dogs opening scene

 

"I saw this at 13 and it was a life-changing moment. It introduced the idea of ‘cool' to me, for a start - when they're walking down the street in slow motion in their suits is one of the coolest movie moments! But more importantly, George Baker Selection's Little Green Bag wasn't a typical or well-known hip, contemporary song. That was really important. I love how Tarantino crate-digs and uses obscure old music so well like this. Another equally important scene in Reservoir Dogs is the torture scene soundtracked with Stealer's Wheel's Stuck In The Middle With You. A very upbeat poppy number set to a gruesome sequence... yet another hugely influential example of high contrast in my life."

 

Once Upon A Time In The West - Jill's Theme

 

"Ennio Morricone is my favourite musician of all time, and a hero of mine. The breadth of his work is incredible. He's done over 500 film soundtracks and the range in styles is truly amazing. There are certain cues in his scores that make me cry on demand. Jill's Theme in Once Upon A Time In The West is a good example: Morricone wrote the score in advance so director Sergio Leone could play it on the set, and time the camera movements perfectly to the score. I'm not sure that had ever been done before then. It paid off... when the camera pans over the train station and you see the town for the first time as the music crescendos, it's just incredible. When I saw Morricone and his orchestra perform recently, that instantly had me in tears."

 

Psycho soundtrack

 

"Bernard Herrmann did everything from Citizen Kane to Taxi Driver. But Psycho was one of his most revolutionary moments, as he only used the string section of the orchestra. This was at a time when soundtracks would have lush expansive scores, but he only used the strings for Psycho and this reinforced the idea to me that limiting your sonic palette is a powerful thing to do. More is often less, not more. Another thing about this is that he's clearly ‘sampling' Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring, a classical piece from around 50 years before, in which you can find the DNA of many of the cues from Psycho. When I realised that, it reaffirmed my feeling that everything comes from somewhere and sampling goes back a long way before electronic samplers. It reminds you that there is an art to sampling, reinterpreting and putting your own unique spin on things."

Words: Dave Jenkins Pic: Larry Rostant

Catch High Contrast's live headline show at Electric Brixton on 18 March. Tickets available here.

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Tags: High Contrast, Lincoln Barrett, Hospital Records T2 Trainspotting, Danny Boyle, Trainspotting 2, Iggy Pop, Ennio Morricone, Bernard Herrmann, Assault On Precinct 13, Once Upon A Time In The West, Psycho, Reservoir Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, OST, score, soundtrack, George Baker Selection, Stealer's Wheel, Wendy Carlos, John Carpenter