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Comments about the soundtrack for Spontaneous Human Combustion (Geasje Palacek)

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SHC Donated Review
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• Posted by: Evan B.   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Friday, April 27, 2007, at 4:03 p.m.
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Buy it…if you are looking for a score that will toy with your mind, and could possibly leave you in a state in which you think of things you previously couldn’t imagine.

Avoid it…if you are happy with your life and feel that the symphonic insanity of this score could interfere with that.

Spontaneous Human Combustion (Geasje Palacek): Is there anything you find funny that you know you probably shouldn’t? There are quite a few things that are on my list, and on that list spontaneous combustion, the most wholly bizarre, mysterious, and disgustingly appealing paranormal phenomena. SHC is an event in which the human body erupts in an sudden mass of flames with no apparent cause or reason. This can result in anything from a few seconds of harmless burning to complete incineration and destruction of the body that renders it unidentifiable. There are relatively few reports or accounts of this event taking place, but most/all of them seemed to have taken place with no warning at all. Even so, the goings-on are imputed by skeptics to be the results of things around them, possibly lighters or, I suppose, raging fireplaces. Whatever the case, SHC remains a mystery.

In 1995, SHC was the subject of Spontaneous Human Combustion, an adult animated horror film that I first became aware of after reading Christian Clemmenson’s review of Geasje Palacek’s score for the film. (That review is the best explanation of why all this is so funny to me…I was laughing at his words all night.)The film faded out of the public eye just as fast as it had been released, probably because of both the subject matter and the quality of the film, which I can say is almost nonexistent, being one of the few to have actually seen this piece of trash. Incidentally, at the same place where I found the film, I also found a copy of the Romanian bootleg of the score. The man who sold them to me said I would love them without a doubt, which wasn’t a good sign considering he had a two-foot beard one side of face and was completely clean-shaven on the other side, had eyes like Gollum’s and an apparent hatred of laughter (I told a joke and his popcorn-yellow teeth were revealed as he yelled, said several swear words in several languages and chased me out of the store). Anyway, after watching the film and listening to the album, I have been appalled by both. The film has somewhat of a plot, but it’s mostly just the graphic depiction of people exploding without warning. The album is an unexplainable barrage of electronics, disgustingly haunting vocals, and a seemingly mutilated orchestra.

In SHC, a girl named Ariella is becoming more and more estranged. She’s about to lose it when she goes wandering into a forest and meets a wizard, who grants her the ability to make anything living spontaneously combust. (It may be argued that she loses it anyway.) With her newfound power, Ariella has a ball, laughing with joy as cows, coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend erupt in flames before her eyes. The authorities catch on as Ariella’s power begins to wane. They chase her and chase her till they finally corner her and her in-on-the-act friend Johan. Rather than face punishment, she uses the last of her abilities to destroy herself and Johan. (Sorry to spoil the ending for you, but trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to see this.)

As bad as the film is, the score by the European Geasje Palacek is even more unbearable. Thankfully, there was no commercial release of her score, but, as mentioned earlier, a Romanian bootleg was released in 1995, the same year as the film. Palacek, who has obviously been trained in the most unimaginable forms of torture, seems completely unable to put any listenable ideas onto paper. Spontaneous Human Combustion is without a doubt one of the five most wholly terrible scores ever to grace the ears of unfortunate listeners, and it’s probably no surprise why nothing has been heard of Palacek since this project. She is completely incapable of creating a pleasant atmosphere for the listener. I can imagine she’s the same way in person, and I fear for anyone that becomes involved in a relationship with her. I can’t believe that people like this are allowed to breed…but back to the music. Although all of the music is a turn-off, the vocals are the most startling. “Prologue/Overture” pretty much gives you a headfirst dive into the rest of the score, employing vocals akin to Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s in Apocalypto, except Palacek obviously meant for her compositions to mess with the minds of all who listen to her work. They are far and away both more disgusting and repulsive than anything in Apocalypto…and it almost seems like they were played backwards or somehow electronically massacred and mixed in with the orchestra‘s recording. The performers (one of which is probably Palacek herself) range from sadistic death chants (apparently) to frantic and rather lengthy sexual moans, both of which occur far too frequently in later cues. (Believe me when I said this is an adult film…From what I can tell, Ariella is deliberately trying to hurt herself in a few of the sex scenes.) “Escape from the Saints“ is possibly the most hideously crafted cue ever to heard; the sadistic choral chants reach such an intense level that I thought I might be sued if anyone heard me listening to it. (Since no one was around at the time, I had to find a stuffed animal to hug for the rest of the score…I just couldn’t handle it on my own.) “Terror Spreads” is pretty much exactly that…as a montage of Ariella combusting almost everyone she sees fills the screen, Palacek lets the strings section overpower the orchestra with sheer noise; I swear I heard some bows break. As you might think, this makes the scene much more unpleasant, as I’m sure was Palacek’s intention.

As the score comes to a close, Palacek doesn’t let up, especially as Ariella combusts. “Starlight/End Credits” begins with horrendous choral chants and screeching metallic percussion, and ends the same way, only getting louder and louder until it ends suddenly. And it didn’t end soon enough…Spontaneous Human Combustion is a full 74 minutes long, a truly psychotic listening experience. Seek it out if you must, but if you do, find it only for the sickeningly compelling pictures of exploding animated livestock on the back cover and side panels of the album. Don’t even listen to the score and especially don‘t seek out the film, just amuse yourself with the album’s packaging. Although I lived through it with the help of a stuffed animal, not everyone will walk away from Palacek’s SHC unscathed. I highly recommend, insist, in fact, that you steer clear from a film and score that will tamper with anyone’s psyche and can certainly be considered mental cruelty. It’s just not worth it. The only reason it gets a star at all is for the pictures on the packaging.

Score as Heard in Film: FRISBEE
Score as Heard on Album: FRISBEE
Album Presentation: *
Overall: FRISBEE

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  •   SHC Donated Review  (2490 views)    We're Here
       Evan B. - Friday, April 27, 2007, at 4:03 p.m.

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