A fabulous soundtrack for a very strange film garners its mystique by itself, but a fabulous soundtrack for a very strange film of which there are no surviving prints? Well… Dual Planet’s reissue of Aminadav Aloni’s soundtrack for Morton Heilig’s 1974 film Once is important, not merely faddish. It’s a very odd case, yes, but one we should pay some serious attention.
Once is Aminadav Aloni’s only LP – he worked as a teacher, as a classical pianist and as an arranger and composer of synagogue music – but the sci-fi analogica of the tracks pressed here appears to have been a very fortunate one-off. Heilig, on the other hand, was a cinematographer-scientist-virtual-reality enthusiast who used to spend his time devising machines such as the Sensorama, a sort of sensual immersive apparatus which gave you the feeling of driving a motorbike through Brooklyn (you could even smell it!).
I say all of this because you can feel these elements in the record: Once is serious, haunted and paranoid Kosmische, oscillating all the time between ominous pulses and belly Moog-roars, spellbinding analogue comets and polyrhythmic hollow-sounding gallops. An album for immersion and contemplation, where you get to follow the folds of Aloni’s synthesisers through their geometries, through their lugubrious and black-lit mathematics. Once is a lovely record that opens your mind, a record for utopian thinking. And of course the best thing is that we get to make our own film inside our heads.