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Primitive London (Original Soundtrack)

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Album Review

Who else but the unflappable (and unstoppable, apparently) Jonny Trunk would not only pursue, but wheel and deal to release the soundtrack to one of the great mondo films of all time, Primitive London? Trunk's reasoning was sound. First of all, the music had never been released commercially apart from in the film (and he had a devil of a time getting it), and secondly, it represents some of the earliest recorded work by the late great Basil Kirchin, one of the the most important composers of library, film, and jazz music to emerge from Great Britain in the 1960s. Most of all, it is Kirchin, not Brian Eno, who is rightfully regarded as the father of "ambient music." Primitive London is important because it showcases Kirchin in his pre De Wolfe and KPM days as a sound library composer. It's obvious from his use of sophisticated exotica, slippery, tropical cocktail lounge-jazz, haunting organ, and pulsing polyrhythmic elements that his strategies were already formulating in 1965. Kirchin had an ear for very dark and haunting melodies, which are amply evidenced by "Primitive London 4." The opening cut uses a hypnotic (perhaps even minimalist) set of xylophones vibes, and marimbas, as well as a triple-time, two-note bassline and hi-hat, as rhythmic components against a gloriously elegant yet muted reed section and theremin, for the tune's melody. "Primitive London 5" is pure, ambient dissonance, while its closing cue uses Western instruments to create a wildly Far Eastern theme. In addition to the Primitive London score, Trunk included the later — also unreleased — score to The Freelance (a 1971 film that starred a young Ian McShane). Six years after Primitive London, Kirchin was established as a library music composer at full-strength. The shimmering use of jazz's textural and dynamic palette is melded with funky, grooving vamps and easy listening to provide a a compelling score, full of unexpected twists and turns: just check"The Freelance: Abstract Jazz 1" and the lengthy "The Freelance: Abstract Jazz 3" (the latter with an expansive range of contrapuntal elements, harmonic reaches, dynamic shifts, and ambient textures wedded to one another) for examples. This is not only a stellar entry in the Trunk Records catalog, but more importantly, another uncovered — and essential — chapter in Kirchin's musical history. [This title is available on CD and LP.]


Born: August 8, 1927 in England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Experimental composer Basil Kirchin was born in Great Britain in 1927. He made his professional debut in December 1941 at London's Paramount, playing drums in his father Ivor's jazz band, and remained a fixture of the group throughout the remainder of World War II, playing 14 shows per week. After the war ended, Kirchin joined Harry Roy's newly-formed New 1946 Orchestra (one of the first true British big bands) as a featured soloist, gaining national exposure via the band's regular appearances on...
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Primitive London (Original Soundtrack), Basil Kirchin
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