Supposedly rescued from the burnt-out depths of a Faroean television archive, Rædsel Fra Månekatten purports to be the score to a late-night thriller series that collapsed after 2 episodes in the early 80s. Its composer, one Warren ‘Kaninen’ Rasmussen, if the supporting material is to be believed, would have been a mere child at the time of its creation but even the significant pinch of salt you’d have to take to believe the backstory cannot detract from the fun.
As with most of these albums of dubious origin, the music is synth-heavy, driven and occasionally a little nerve-jangling. It is very much “of its time,” with tips of the hat to sci-fi score pioneers such as Edward Artemyev, Tangerine Dream and Michel Rubini throughout, albeit with a little more goofiness to give it the off kilter charm the real creator supposedly imagines a cloistered young Faroese composer would harbour. The title translates to “Terror of the Mooncat,” adding to the kitsch allure in a manner recalling Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place, the underappreciated UK comedy series starring Matt Berry that preempted the modern-day fascination with retro synth scores and 80s production values in episodes with absurd titles like “Skipper the Eyechild” and “The Apes of Wrath.”
There are, however, things here that set the album apart as a rather more ingenious creation than it may at first appear. Most impressively, the music regularly skips and cuts out of time to either illustrate the reparation post-blaze or the inexperience of the musician. Practically every track jerks awkwardly out of step at least once – it can be discombobulating and even a little off-putting to start with but in context it works magnificently. Take “Hverdagen er altid den samme” (“Every day life is always the same”), which opens on a far doomier level than its translation suggests before cutting into a soapy coda one imagines the show’s cast (apparently all drawn from a tiny Faroese population of daytime TV actors) standing and waving cheerily at the viewer to. It’s unsettling in a Lynchian sense, hinting at darkness beneath the Islands’ idyllic setting in classic Nordic noir style.
The characters each get their own theme, Morricone-style. Peter and Marta seem to be the main protagonists, their names cropping up down the tracklist several times. “Peters Tema” is an odd, wailing alien-sounding thing that hints at extraterrestrial origins; Marta’s a quaint, halting piano lilt. There’s a Mr and Mrs Mord, too, whose track also skips like the devil, pulsating randomly – at a mere minute and a half, you wonder how long and how deft the original might have been, but in its current state it serves to plunge you into a frantic chase with a disconcerting lack of warning. There’s no explicit mention of a cat, though (moon-based or otherwise) which makes me wonder whether it isn’t ol’ Peter himself who’s got the feline tendencies. After all, when he gets “en smag af mælk” (“a taste of milk”) things do seem to take a turn for the feral.
That’s all part of the fun, the stitching together of a plot from these glitching, disparate fragments, and another way this album sets itself apart from myriad others of uncertain descent. It’s closer to Yves Malone’s earliest work in that respect, as opposed to, say, the episodic gloss of the Aphasia artists – the lack of signposts are one of its biggest strengths, allowing the listener to fill in the spaces with as much ridiculous nonsense as they see fit. “intet andet end blod og pels” (“nothing but blood and fur”) you might expect to spell the end for Peter, but this comes well before he tastes the milk and “En ny mand, kløer og det hele” (“A new man, claws and all”), which would seem to suggest a transformation. Likewise, “Peters død” – his death scene – arrives briefly before the ominous “Marta besøgte igen / Jeg vil dræbe igen” (“Marta visited again / I will kill again”) – perhaps there’s a resurrection?
The very best of these mysterious soundtrack albums leave the listener desperate for information, scouring the internet for tiny scraps of knowledge that might point towards the source even as they know deep down it’s a futile quest. Rædsel Fra Månekatten achieves its goals in spades – something Difficult Art and Music and the artist themselves deserve major kudos for. If the show ever truly existed, someone needs to find it; if it didn’t, then someone needs to make it.