Science fiction & synth sounds combine in the soundtrack to Jodorowsky’s Dune – a new documentary that tells the story of “the greatest science fiction movie never made”.
The documentary looks at filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt to bring Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune to the screen. Jodorowsky enlisted an elite group of artists to flesh out his vision, who would go on to contribute to films like Star Wars & Alien. Jodorowsky’s take on Dune never got made.
In the new documentary, director Frank Pavich presents a look at what might have been, set to an analog synthesizer-laden soundtrack by composer Kurt Stenzel.
We contacted Stenzel to find out more about the soundtrack and how it came to be.
Here’s the official trailer for the film:
Stenzel has been a composer/performer for decades, with projects ranging from his punk group, Six and Violence, to a multimedia space travel themed project, SpacEKrafT. Jodorowsky’s Dune is Stenzel’s first soundtrack
Synthtopia: How did the opportunity come up to score Jodorowsky’s Dune?
Kurt Stenzel: Frank Pavich, the Producer/Director of the film, is a friend.
Before we met, in the 80s he was a kid living in the same region of Queens as me. He had bought my band Six and Violence’s demo tape at the local record store.
Apparently, this got him into New York Hardcore and his first feature length documentary is N.Y.H.C. (a documentary on the NY hardcore scene). Eventually, we met through my label guy Kevin Gill.
Years later, Frank called me out of the blue with this wild tale. I had never heard the Dune backstory. He started by saying, “You are a fan of Jodorowsky right?” OF COURSE. “I need a Tangerine Dream type soundtrack” OF COURSE!
Synthtopia: What synths & gear did you use?
Kurt Stenzel: My gear is mostly AFFORDABLE and DURABLE and PACKS MAXIMUM ANALOG or UNIQUENESS. I gig a lot with this rig, so I can’t carry around too many CS80s!
Kurt Stenzel’s Gear List (with his commentary):
- Novation Bass Station with keys
- Dave Smith Tetra
- Oberheim Matrix 1000
- MicroKorg 2
- Novation Xio 25
- Quasimidi Sirius (rare and I am glad I kept this)
- TWO CZ101s (the synth I learned on when it was new)
- Yamaha TG-33 vector synth.
- Moog Source (don’t cry, I got this for $40 on the street)
- ‘head’ part of a Moog Taurus 2
- Roland Juno 6
- Korg Poly 61 (since has died)\
- Korg Poly 800 (also dead now)
- One quick session in a panic with a Dave Smith Poly Evolver keyboard, as well as one studio session with a Roland String Machine.
- Casiotones -an original MT-60 my Dad bought in Japan- 2nd one on the market and a Concertmate from Radio Shack. I MUST mention the Conccertmate it has been on EVERY recording I have ever done. Some of the low bit string sounds are ethereal and I run that through effects. It’s very beat up from 20 years of gigs. God bless Radio Shack!
- Toys like the Bliptronic, the Buddha Box, Kaos pad, and I use my kids Nintendo DS’s to sync up 3 programs on 3 DS devices. I also got a Korg Monotribe and the Korg Monotron.
- Tons of pedals some vintage mostly cheap.
- Roland SP-808 for sound design. Zip discs baby!
- Recorded to Audacity- yup, very basic!!!
Synthtopia: In addition to your music, there’s also music on the soundtrack from SpacEKrafT, your project with Edward Dahl. How would you describe what you’re doing with the SpacEKrafT events?
Kurt Stenzel: SpacEKrafT is an immersive music event. TRANSMEDIA is the latest buzzword and we were on that tip 5 years ago.
We create an environment simulation of space flight complete with flight attendants and crew. We have special chairs with speakers in them, video projections, personality tests and feedback systems, and lots of hands-on electronics for the passengers to contribute to the sounds.
We play all kinds of venues, from underground to public or “art” oriented. In San Francisco we have played the deYoung Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, , frequent local “art walks” a big event called J-Pop two times (which is funny as we are not Japanese OR “pop”). We played a special event for DEVO. We often collaborate for fashion events with San Francisco’s Ilanio and we have done one with IIMUAHII Elena Slivnyak (Project Runway).
Basically, anything unique and we do it! We are devout Krautrockers for sure. Going to Germany and playing with Rodelius are goals of ours.
SpacEKrafT Music From Jodorowsky’s Dune:
Synthtopia: What can you tell us about the SpacEKrafT tracks in the film (embedded above)?
Kurt Stenzel: There’s about 10 minutes of SpacEKrafT music in this film.
Edward Dahl uses Ableton and plays guitar and we have lots of toys–Alesis Air Synth and Air Effects. I use the same rig as mentioned earlier.
I also played guitar on the soundtrack, as well as vocal stuff – some screaming, which came naturally as I am also the singer in NY band “Six and Violence” in addition to “tinkling on the keys” the rest of the time.
Two extreme worlds–knocking people out through violence or ambience!
Synthtopia: Is a soundtrack album going to be available? Can one listen to it online?
Kurt Stenzel: In the works as we speak! In the meantime, there are some rough tracks for download on Soundcloud:
We have some labels that want to put it out, and the intention is multi-format from digital to 2 LP vinyl.
My apologies it is not instantly available! People have been SO kind to reach out for it. As Jodorowsky says “is an art not an industry”.
I took some time to compile the motifs from the movie to flow through a “four-sides” LP approach. I wanted it to play like the records I grew up with–gatefold cover and where every side was a journey.
Frank Pavich is “directing” me on this as he and Alex Ricciardi did such an amazing job of weaving this music into the film. Frank is a true aesthete.
The film was all snippets so I am working with a great guy Shane Watson at Sirius Sound in San Francisco. He’s reigning in the noodles spilling forth!
Synthtopia: Thanks for giving us some background on your soundtrack, Kurt!
Kurt Stenzel: Thanks SO much for the opportunity to talk about this.
The Dune Documentary was more than a movie for us and it seems that it is more than a movie for many people who have seen it.
The whole thing is the genius and warmth of Jodorowsky. He has a message for you. He wants you to know that YOU SHOULD TRY. DO IT. Create art.
- Look at the listings for Jodorowsky’s Dune – Stenzel has been doing in-person Q&A sessions after some screenings and is making plans for showings at Sacramento, Santa Rosa and possibly Tucson (TBA) in May.
- On May 28th, Stenzel will be playing Augmented World Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center as part of the Mystic Midway, a transformational interactive social game.