Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Freak out: the soundtrack

Posted By on Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge panic.jpg

Imaginary Movie Soundtracks are just that -- the soundtracks to movies that doesn't exist. We pick the songs, write the story, and your mind makes the movie.

Our protagonist isn't quite right. She was fired from her (admittedly unpleasant) job for taking a few liberties on her lunch breaks. (Those liberties may or may not have included driving home and taking a nap, while remaining on the clock, and perhaps returning to the office with the faint hint of cannabis wafting from her sweater.)

Of course, the irony is that our recently laid-off doesn't even touch the stuff. She's as straight-edge as Ian Mackaye, but her roommate feels the need to rip bong hits like they're going of style. This means the couch, where she takes her naps to help relieve her headaches, smells like the cheap seats at a Phish concert. As the young lady returns to her apartment, post-firing, we hear Soft Pink Truth cover the Minor Threat classic, "Out of Step," and its edgy, nervous energy begins the film. She crawls onto the couch, surrounded by the detritus of what looks to be an abandoned art career: paints, canvases, etc.

click to enlarge Freak Out, 2008
  • Freak Out, 2008

The roommate returns while our heroine is asleep, and she and her boyfriend begin hitting the aforementioned bong. The contact high begins to creep into her dreams, and as her stress levels begin to decrease, her paranoia is on the rise.

The Butthole Surfers' "Sweat Loaf" kicks in, kicking off a sequence in which the stress takes the image of evil dancing clowns. You know that scene in Pee Wee's Big Adventure where they destroy his bike? Like that, but worse. The scene ebbs and flows, with her safety always in question, as she's threatened by various cloudy forms, that -- while insubstantial -- manage to be ominous and threatening. As the song peaks, our young lady awakens.

She's panicked. The apartment is empty, but she knows that is was only recently vacated. She feels dirty and ashamed, knowing that her roommate was laughing at her while she slept. She nervously leaves her apartment and begins to walk the streets. Her paranoia is at its apex, and everybody she sees is leering and she knows they know what she's feeling like. No Age's "Everybody's Down" drones on, reflecting the nervous tension the protagonist feels, until it finally explodes, and she begins running, running, running.

As she runs, she begins to calm down, starts to think about how things could possibly go better. She begins to daydream, and the daydream is soundtracked by the Ergs's "Books About Miles Davis." While stylistically similar to "Everybody's Down," in that both songs meander along, building to a 10-scond freakout, this is the poppy, happy flipside, with the Ergs providing a positive counterpoint to No Age's nihilism. Our heroine realizes, as the cartoon in her head plays out like a Bug Bunny revenge fantasy, that she hated her job anyway, and this could possibly be what she needed.

The Teen Idols' "Lovely Day" plays over the end credits, during which our heroine begins to pick up the assorted art supplies we'd seen. She smiles as we hear, You're a very special person in a special way. She's going to be OK, folks! Panic averted.

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