Short Careers – Original Score for the film “Ball of Wax”
Bachmann cut his teeth churning out off-kilter pop with The Archers of Loaf before heading off solo into a mostly-instrumental tangent. Early efforts as Barry Black (which at one point included Ben Folds as drummer) showcased his fine-tuned sense of melody, which extended beyond archetypical Chapel Hill jangly guitar, and blended a wide variety of sound sources, stringed instruments, kazoos, bells, tympani, what have you.
I have to admit I haven’t seen the film, which from the description on the Web site is a combination of Bull Durham, American Psycho, and Dangerous Liaisons. Like Stewart Copeland’s Rumblefish and Mark Mothersbaugh’s Rushmore, Short Careers’ music lives independent of the film, influenced in some abstract way by an unseen visual but strong enough to stand on its own. Bachmann is still following the Barry Black approach, where phrases and melodies seem to weave in and out of each other like oddly synchronized music boxes. Wielding the same wide palette of instruments, Bachmann easily pits a wood marimba against strings and drum machine, or a slowly-plucked guitar against distant electronic echoes. There is also a recurrent theme of clockwork. It’s a haunting soundscape, but one that holds a lot of fascination.