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In this episode, Carl King examines Mike Patton’s Fantomas: Director’s Cut (2001) + Robert Eggers The Lighthouse (2019 Film)
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SHOW NOTES / LINKS
Get Fantomas / The Director’s Cut
Get The Lighthouse (2019)
I get a LOT of deep, philosophical questions here, and the two questions I’m asked more than any other are: One, “Is Mike Patton GOD?” And two: “is Robert Pattinson’s mustache the most MASCULINE thing you’ve ever seen?”
So this week, I’ll answer both of those questions. We’ll examine the album The Director’s Cut by Mike Patton’s Fantomas, and the 2019 film The Lighthouse by Robert Eggers. Understanding is useful, so here we go.
I’m Carl King, and this is The Carl King Podcast, where EVERY WEEK, we learn about music, filmmaking, and creativity. If you like this show, head over to Patreon.com/carlking, and join for just $1 or $5 per month.
Or send a tip through PayPal or Venmo to username CarlKingdom. Special thank you to my Illusionist $51 level patrons, both Hank Howard III and Chewbode.
Quick shout-out to my music endorsements: Vienna Symphonic Library, Fractal Audio, Ernie Ball Strings, Toontrack, and Millennia Media. Now let’s get this episode Beginned!
CARL KING THE HUMAN UPDATES
Just a few Carl King The Human Updates, and then we will officially get beginned.
1 – It’s continuing to warm up out here in southern California. So this weekend, I washed my car with a pressure washer. And GOOD NEWS: I was only bleeding in one place this time.
2 – This past Friday, I worked on more music for the Chris Higgins Tetris Documentary Series called Best of Five — specifically, the first scene of the first episode. And since you’re still here, I’ll play you a clip from it NOW.
Best of Five should be released this year. To find out more, head over to BestOfFiveMovie.com.
3 – I’ll be making some new short videos for Vienna Symphonic Library in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can see my previous 2 videos, where in one video I demonstrate Stravinsky’s Petrushka Chord, which has gotten nearly 80,000 views…
and how to pair Harp and Vibraphone in stereo to get that 60s Star Trek music sound. Both are available on YouTube.com/CarlKingdom.
And now, let’s get into This Week’s Analytical Music Theory Analysis of the Week.
MIKE PATTON’S FANTOMAS: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT (2001)
In This week’s Analytical Music Theory Analysis of the Week – we will explore the creative arranging and MIXING choices Mike Patton made on the Fantomas Record, “The Director’s Cut”.
That’s where he took famous horror film scores and reinterpreted them in his own avant garde / 1980s hair metal style. And even though it’s over two decades old, it happens to be my favorite record Mike Patton has done on his own.
We’ll examine his work on 3 tracks: “Spider Baby”, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”, and “The Omen.”
1 – SPIDER BABY
Example #1 is Spider Baby. Based on music from the film Spider Baby, Or The Maddest Story Ever Told, from 1967. Composed by Ronald Stein. This is an interpretation of the open credits song, which had vocals performed by Lon Chaney Jr. — who also starred in the film and performed vocals on it.
Important to note that the original Spider Baby song has TWO renditions. The version in the film is muddy and seems to possibly be in mono, and only lasts just over 2 minutes.
But there IS a much clearer stereo version, which runs nearly 5 minutes. I’ll put links to both of those versions in the show notes, so you can click on the hyperlinks and make them open up.
Now here are 8 things that Mike Patton did differently with Spider Baby:
1 – Number one, the hard panning. In the opening, there is a piano riff hard left, and percussion hard right. The original was, I think saxophone on left and piano on right.
There’s other hard-panning happening here, including a left and right guitar — but also notice that those guitars don’t have perfectly identical tones. That’s an effective way to create some dimensionality.
2 – Number 2: Heavily compressed and overdriven drums. Dave Lombardo was credited on this album, but I would not be surprised if this track used a loop, rather than Lombardo himself.
3 – Number 3, in the Chorus, which is not exactly a chorus, there is a dissonant melody played by the brass. And Patton instead SINGS that melody with his mouth and teeth.
4 – Number 4, the second “Chorus” at around :42. There’s a portamento synth panned hard right. And he added hand claps on quarter notes. The original had a similar sound to human hand-claps, but it sounds more like a bunch of musicians banging their bows on their music stands and stomping their feet.
And again, those hand claps on the Fantomas version sound like they’re hard-panned left and right, but the tone between those channels doesn’t entirely match.
5 – At :56, to break things up, he added what sounds like — not a 4 beat pause — but a 5-beat pause, filled with some Mr. Bungle-esque sound design. It’s even got the Simpsons grandpa: “Huh!”
6 – This original song only has 2 parts, an A and a B section. But on the Fantomas version, at 1:28, there’s a verse that drops down and acts as a bridge. It sounds like it’s got 2 drum sets or drum loops, hard panned in stereo, and an out-of-phase effect happening.
Listening to it through headphones that you place on your ears, the effect is nauseating and will make you want to throw up. It slowly ramps back to a normal in-phase sound as they approach the chorus. He “created” a bridge from what would have been just another verse. Good thinking, Mike Patton.
7 – The final time around the Chorus, in the second half of it, the part that comes after the first half, the kit that is made out of individual drums changes quite a bit.
8 – And he decided to end this track, with an ending, rather than a fade-out, which you would hear in the film’s opening credits.
My main takeaway is this: don’t be afraid to use some hard panning. Don’t be afraid to make people nauseated. And if you double an instrument in stereo, you can make each one slightly different in tone. Rather than a perfect copy.
2 – TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME
Example #2 is the theme from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Composed by Angelo Badalamenti in 1992.
You might be familiar with the opening credits music from the Twin Peaks TV show — and this piece has some similar motifs, but is not the same piece of music. That’s right and the opposite of wrong: Fire Walk With Me had its OWN theme.
Why they did that, we don’t know yet, or maybe we do. Maybe it was a legal issue. These things happen, because music is a serious crime.
Angelo Badalamenti’s instrumentation was an intimate jazz ensemble: muted trumpet, upright bass, keyboard, and a drummer using brushes. It’s the sort of thing you’d hear using your ears in a quiet little jazz bar.
But let’s look at the 6 things Mike Patton did differently with his interpretation of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.
1 – In the intro, we have a bit of a heavier instrumentation with distorted guitars, although they are at a lower dynamic level. And echoing, robotic-sounding synthesizer flourishes.
2 – When the main melody begins, Mike Patton replaces that muted trumpet made of brass, and instead sings it with some syllables that sounds like “What I do, what I do-de-doo.” Which is more of that classic Mike Patton toilet humor we all love. And some finger-snaps with a very fast echo effect on beat 4.
3 – After 4 measures, we get blasts of hair metal instrumentation. And listening through headphones — I could be wrong, but I suspect that snare drum roll was overdubbed on top of the loud kick drum and crashes. And I think that because the snare drum roll seems to be unbroken.
And unless Dave Lombardo has 3 arms, I would expect larger gaps in that roll in order for his arm to reach the cymbals which are mounted on cymbal stands.
4 – The second time around, in that very hair metal phrase, at 1:15, Mike Patton layered in some intense high-pitched screams with lots of distortion, which I can’t quite hear in in the original.
5 – Then, there’s a section with a drum loop for 7 bars. Followed by one bar with a chromatic, descending synth.
6 – And now halfway through this rendition, at 1:51, Mike Patton adds what appears to be his own lyrics. If anyone knows the story behind that, let me know. Sounds like Dave Lombardo might be playing along with a drum loop during this very long section.
The main takeaway? If you interpret an instrumental film score theme, go ahead and add your own lyrics about boxsprings and spare change.
3 – THE OMEN (AVE SATANI)
Example Number 3 is The Omen (Ave Satani) Originally composed by Jerry Goldsmith, released in 1976.
The original had Evil choir chanting coming out of a bunch of mouths, and there is a MINOR 9TH from our good friend Music Theory happening.
We hear strings, a chromatic riff, church organ. It’s a slow and ominous audio sound.
Now let’s look at the 5 things Mike Patton did differently, with Jerry Goldsmith’s “The Omen.”
1 – In this intro, it sounds similar to the original. A small choir of Mike Pattons singing in Latin, along with high strings and a church organ. It sounds like it could be a legitimate film score for a movie projected inside a movie theater where people would go to be watching it.
2 – But then the heavy guitars played through amplifiers come in, along with frantic, scrambly percussion that’s sounds like a hundred pencils clattering away on hard surfaces. And a harshly-EQd vocal, in Monophonic or Dual Monophonic.
3 – After a drum fill, Dave Lombardo launches into a cutting-the-steak punk beat, with a heavily compressed and overdriven tone. The vocals split into hard panned left and right for contrast.
4 – At 1:03 the drum kit stops — and is replaced by percussion that sounds like that frantic “pencils clattering on a table and music stand.” Although now they’re locked in time with the music. Dave Lombardo adds some cymbal rolls, which is a rock and roll technique where he rolls the cymbals around.
5 – And in the end, it returns to what could pass as a legitimate film score, with the choir of Mike Patton vocals and haunted church organ from a church that could be haunted.
I really only knew The Omen music from this Fantomas record. I somehow never got around to seeing the original film or checking out the score.
So I finally did, and I realized there are some counterpoint melody details missing from this rendition, which were pretty significant in Jerry Goldsmith’s version.
Most importantly, he left out that minor 9th that existed in Jerry Goldsmith’s version. So in my own totally subjective opinion, this track is the only one out of the 3 that didn’t quite live up to the richness of the original.
There’s a lot left out, so it’s more like “let’s take this film score and make it hair metal.” But the Fantomas rendition definitely has its own fun energy to it, perfect for cutting up cardboard boxes in the garage, when those cardboard boxes pile up for too long in your garage.
I’m contractually obligated to point out that horror film scores are perfect for metal renditions, because those two genres start with the same building blocks. Chromaticism, dissonance, and most importantly, RIFFS.
If you haven’t already, I recommend checking out Fantomas: The Director’s Cut from your local public library, which is where you can get it. From.
Now, to answer the most important question of all time: Is Mike Patton God? I can’t remember.
ROBERT EGGERS: THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019)
This Week’s Analytical Filmmaking Analysis of the Week is The Lighthouse, from 2019. Screenwritered and Directored by Robert Eggers. Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.
This is a Type 2 Film, as we learned in the previous episode. As a refresher, the 7 Dimensions of a Type 2 Film, according to Carl King, are: 1 – Surprise, 2 – Abstraction, 3 – Ambiguity, 4 – Subtlety, 5 – Non-Linearity 6 – Ironic Counterpoint, 7 – Conspicuous Slowness
1 – Surprise
So lets look at #1, SURPRISE. The first thing we notice, VISUALLY is the Aspect Ratio. It’s almost a SQUARE. Meaning, the visual image area is almost as tall as it is wide.
These days we’re used to seeing films that are much wider than they are tall. But Robert Eggers wanted to convey the old-timey look of films from the 1920s and 1930s.
That aspect ratio helps to express a sense of “confinement” the two men are experiencing, trapped in that tiny room together. It required the actors to be pushed closer together in the shots, increasing the tension.
Second surprise: this film is entirely black and white, processed with a harsh, intense contrast. It brings out all those ugly details in the sweaty skin and facial hair.
There are other aspects of surprise, but I’ll mention just one more: it’s rare to have a film with only TWO characters, in a single location. That’s a strong indication of a Type 2 film.
2 – Abstraction
#2, Abstraction. Let’s start with the symbolism of the Lighthouse itself, which was blatantly intended to represent a male genitalia.
According to the internet, Robert Eggers originally included closeup shots of REAL erections, juxtaposed with shots of the lighthouse, but he was forced to remove them.
That pairs nicely with the theme of repressed homosexuality (and sexuality in general) throughout this film. At one point, the two men are drunk and trapped in a tiny room together for so long, that they have an awkward moment, and almost KISS.
But then disgust takes over, and they turn to violence. There are scenes where they slow dance, and even cuddle.
There are also indications that Robert Pattinson’s character is uncomfortable with his own sexual desires. For example when he is having an erotic hallucination about the mermaid, he is also DISGUSTED by the mermaid, as well as fantasizing that Willem Dafoe is the mermaid.
I THINK the moment of Robert Pattinson FINALLY reaching the light in the lighthouse is him realizing he is into naked men.
There’s also Robert Pattinson’s denial that his real name is Thomas. The same first name as Willem Dafoe’s character. So there’s lots of denial all around.
The power dynamics between the two men is another abstract theme. Throughout the film, it’s a struggle for dominance.
Willem Dafoe makes Robert Pattinson do menial and physically degrading jobs around the lighthouse. While he goes up and gets naked every night with the lens at the top of the tower. Yeah, huh.
And he has gross macho mannerisms. Clearing his throat all the time, mouth breathing, and farting in close proximity to Robert Pattinson without concern. Because making bodily sounds is a sign of dominance.
There are also direct references to Greek Mythology. For instance, Robert Pattinson’s character is related to Prometheus, and Willem Dafoe is related to Proteus. The mermaid represents the Sirens, dangerous creatures that lured sailors to their deaths. The Fog Horn also relates to the Siren’s Song. Seagulls represent dead sailors.
In a heavily surreal moment, at about 1:17:40, there’s a shot where a NAKED Willem Dafoe blasts light rays out of his eyes at Robert Pattinson. And that’s a direct reference to a 1904 painting called “Hypnosis” by German Artist Sascha Schneider.
3 – Ambiguity
Number 3, Ambiguity. This film contains supernatural elements. If you’re not careful, you might be unsure what type of movie you’re actually watching. At times, it might seem like a Fantasy story.
For instance, is the mermaid real? Are the seagulls ACTUALLY dead sailors? Is Willem Dafoe able to transform into a tentacled sea monster? Does the lens at the top of the lighthouse have magical powers? Or are these simply hallucinations?
What is really going on? We don’t know yet. Robert Eggers insists on leaving the film open to interpretation. Definitely a master of ambiguity.
4 – Subtlety
#4, let’s look at the dimension of Subtlety, particularly in the realm of acting. In Type 2 films, the characters don’t often come out and say what they’re thinking. The actors are required to convey their thoughts through micro-expressions and long pauses.
Through much of this film, we’re just watching them THINKING and slowly losing their minds. But we also get scenes of the actors “going BIG” with explosions of anger, screaming, and over-the-top dissonant score.
Setting up the long dramatic arc with increasing, stored up tension, is an investment in those future moments. Those subtle scenes make the more outrageous scenes acceptable.
5 – Non-Linearity
#5, Non-Linearity. And I use the term Non-Linearity both in terms of the story’s structure, as well as the LEAPS of understanding that the audience is expected to fill in, on their own.
While the story’s events do flow in a traditional sequence, from past to present, they ARE interrupted by dream sequences, hallucinations, and flashbacks.
And regarding the LEAPS of understanding, there is a subtle use of Unreliable Narrators. That’s when the abstract person who is telling us the story, that invisible “god behind the camera lens” might actually be LYING.
As the story progresses, we see signs that Willem Dafoe might be gaslighting Robert Pattinson. At one point, he tells him they’ve actually been stranded there for WEEKS, and running out of food. Is the story’s perspective shifting between characters, so that we are seeing multiple versions of reality?
It makes us wonder… Can we trust what we are being shown? Instead of treating us as passive viewers, Robert Eggers is engaging us, turning us into detectives.
6 – Ironic Counterpoint
#6, Ironic Counterpoint. There’s a scene towards the end of the film where Robert Pattinson finally beats the crap out of Willem Dafoe and achieves dominance. He makes him bark like a dog, leads him outside to a hole, and slowly buries him alive.
There’s a long continuous shot, pushing in, of Willem Dafoe getting dirt shoveled onto his face, as he recites a poetic monologue. For over a full minute, he’s getting dirt in his eyes and nose and mouth, chewing on it as he says:
“O what Protean forms swim up from men’s minds, and melt in hot Promethean plunder, scorching eyes with divine shames and horror… and casting them down to Davy Jones.
The others, still blind, yet in it see all the divine graces, and to Fiddler’s Green sent, where no man is suffered to want or toil, but is… ancient… mutable and unchanging as the she who girdles ’round the globe. Them’s truth. And you’ll be punished.”
And he willingly lets this happen, and suddenly dies, before he’s even completely buried. And that is definitely some ironic counterpoint, because if I were being buried alive, I doubt I’d lie there and recite poetry.
7 – Conspicuous Slowness
#7, Conspicuous Slowness. I don’t think a film could be MORE conspicuously slow than The Lighthouse. The first 7 minutes of the film are the two men arriving to a remote island by ship. Seems they are relieving the previous two lighthouse men who were stationed there.
There’s a 20 SECOND shot of them seeming to stand there staring directly into the camera. It made me think of Wes Anderson. Almost as if the characters are posing for a portrait. But the following shot shows the ship heading back out to sea, disappearing into fog.
So in film language we would think that’s what they were actually staring at instead of the camera. Although the staring was so striking and bizarre, the two shots didn’t SEEM to belong together.
As I’ve said before, 7 minutes in film years is a LONG TIME. During that 7 minutes, nothing amazing happens. No action-filled teaser here. The two men carry their stuff inside. They look around, make themselves at home.
The fog horn sounds repeatedly in the background, and it’s an awful, synthetic sound. Robert Pattinson wanders around the living quarters, lights a cigarette, and goes upstairs, hitting his head on the ceiling. That reinforces that this is a TINY bedroom.
There are two little kid beds like Bert and Ernie, and he finds his bunk mate, Willem Dafoe urinating into a pot between the beds and farting in the confined space. It all conveys a sense of being isolated and far from civilization. Lots of boredom, trapped with another dude’s bodily sounds.
The first dialogue appears at 7 minutes 11 seconds. The two men sit at a cramped table for a meal. In my own totally subjective opinion, they’re sitting way too close, facing right at each other, in each other’s personal space. Without any context, Willem Dafoe recites a poem.
And up until that point, I had seriously wondered if this might be a film ENTIRELY WITHOUT dialogue.
And after this therefore because of this, I’m now ready to answer the most important question of all time: Is Robert Pattinson’s mustache the most masculine thing you’ve ever seen?
I had previously watched Robert Eggers other films The Witch and The Northman, but I didn’t expect to enjoy this film as much as I did those. I gave it 5/5 stars and a little heart on Letterboxd.
OK, that’s the end of this Episode of the Carl King Podcast. Remember to subscribe on Spotify, Apple, YouTube, or anywhere else you listen to these dang podcasts.
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And as always, special thank you to my $51 a month Patrons, at the special Illusionist level, Chewbode and Hank Howard III. And thank you to ALL of the Very Good Friends of Carl King for listening, and as I always say: Dang ye! Let Neptune strike ye dead Winslow! .