Liner Note Authors: Matthew Evans; Klaus Biesenbach.
Very few motion pictures have caused more stoned individuals to murmur "Oh, wow" than Alexandro Jodorowsky's visionary metaphysical western El Topo, which became an art house sensation in 1971 after the film received the enthusiastic endorsements of John Lennon (who persuaded his then-manager Allen Klein to buy the U.S. distribution rights) and Dennis Hopper (who was said to have been powerfully influenced by El Topo as he edited his own expressive anti-Western, The Last Movie). Filled with bizarre, violent imagery, portentous philosophizing, and enough symbolism to choke the spirit animal of your choice, El Topo became the film to see in an altered state at midnight during the early '70s, though Jodorowsky himself said "When one creates a psychedelic film, he need not create a film that shows the visions of a person who has taken a pill; rather, he needs to manufacture the pill." Jodorowsky, whose vision was as singular as anyone who has ever worked in film, not only wrote, produced, directed, and starred in El Topo, but also composed the score, and while his film could fairly be called "psychedelic," the music most decidedly is not. Jodorowsky's melodic sense is mildly eccentric, but most of the score is very much in the mold of traditional film music. "Bajo Tierra (Under the Earth)" could be the theme to any number of spaghetti westerns; "Los Mendigios Sangrados (The Holy Beggars)" and "Curios Mexicano (Mexican Curios)" sound like standard-issue "comic relief" music; a pair of "dance" tunes playfully evoke vintage jazz; several pieces use wooden flutes to give the score a rustic and evocative feel, and the few moments featuring an electric guitar appear in the deliberately disquieting openings to "La Catedral de Los Puercos (The Pigs' Monastery)" and "La Primera Flor Despues del Diluvio (The First Flower After the Flood)." Very little in Jodorowsky's music is as willfully bizarre or challenging as the movie it was designed to accompany, but there are more than a few moments of genuine beauty and mystery in the El Topo soundtrack, and the main theme, "Entierro del Primer Juguete (Burial of the First Toy)" is surprisingly gentle and moving. This soundtrack album isn't going to alter anyone's consciousness the way El Topo did in its initial release, but it's a bold and effective score, and might generate some interesting flashbacks for those who saw the movie back in the day. ~ Mark Deming
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