In March 1984, 2 Dutch avant-synth musicians known as Ignit and Ed van Kasteren (aka Van Kaye) released on their own Ding Dong label a fantastic theme cassette called "Film Noir American Style". It was limited to 2000 copies, one of which no doubt fell into Tony Coulter's hands, and another of which has now fallen into ours.
The big idea behind this gorgeous twin-cassette-plus-booklet set was a sense on the part of the compilers that social conditions in the mid-1980s reflected in many ways the Cold War paranoia that fed the Noir era (very roughly 1940-1955). Roping in like-minded artists throughout the US and Europe with the call to contribute music inspired by Film Noir, they were thus able to present an international contrast in interpretations and musical approaches to Film Noir. And really, what is Film Noir all about if not one's own interpretations and abstract impressions of it? I dunno, but we're not getting into all that here.
This was the second (and apparently last) in a series of Ding Dong theme cassettes, the first being "Turkish Delights", limited to only 300 copies. I don't know much of anything about that first tape except that Bene Gesserit and Legendary Pink Dots both were on it. Neither shows up on "Film Noir American Style", but a fine smattering of mid-80s cassette underground heros do - highest profile honors go to, ha ha, The Residents. Also appearing are a bunch of Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS) members, as well as Vincent Gallo, Der Plan, Clock DVA, and some kids from just on the Jersey side of the Delaware River. And many more.
Before jumping the flip and grabbing the mp3s, here's a bunch of links to Noir discussions sites. But heed the words of Peter Hankoff, from his essay "Film Noir, Life Noir:
"So what do you want to hear: some pretty college-boy critic telling you in flowery English about how Norma Desmond (Sunset Boulevard) is really the personification of a decaying system, or the plain facts about Film Noir? Film Noir is Film Noir: black. Or maybe black & blue."
* Alain Silver and James Ursini are what you might call noir-thorities; many of their anthologized articles are reprinted here.
* Here's a reliably excellent Wikipedia article on the genre.
* Here's way too much info and analysis on a particular fave, "Kiss Me Deadly". (that's 3 separate links, mind you, and the 1st one's pretty pop-up heavy)
* And here's "Kiss Me Deadly"'s notorious atomic ending, as an animated gif.
Here's a fantastic 1983 article / index on the Ding Dong label and related artists dedicated to synth minimalism, industrial and other great nihilistic musical urges of the time.
OK, go get yourself some mp3s...
Naùx (NYC) "The Deepest Parts"
Tape 2, European Contributions
Van Kaye & Ignit (Arnhem, NL) "Behind Venetian Blinds"
Hero Wouters (Amsterdam NL) "Strangers on a Train"
The Hi-Tones (Willemstad, Curaçao) "Shadow of a Doubt"
Genetic Factor (Amsterdam NL) "Don't Enter the Poolroom Now"