Easily one of the most unforgettable aspects of Jean Rollin’s first feature film Le Viol Du Vampire (The Rape of the Vampire) is its extraordinary score courtesy of famed Parisian Jazz Musician Francois Tusques. Swirling free-jazz, bits of classical romanticism and more than a trace of Avant-garde minimalism fill Tusques’ score, and it is indeed an unforgettable work that matches Rollin’s iconic imagery from beginning to end.
Born in Paris in 1938, Tusques began to make waves on the French music scene in the early to mid sixties as one of the key practitioners of the Free Jazz movement. Working with such famed and acclaimed French musicians like Bernard Vitet, Beb Guérin, Michel Portal, and François Jeanneau, Tusques quickly became known as one of the key French players of the day, and his albums Free Jazz and Le Nouveau Jazz are widely considered two of the most important French Jazz albums of the sixties.
Writing on his important collaboration with American drummer Sunny Murray in 1968 at the height of the student protests, TransAtlantic Magazine States that Tusque’s “infectiously repetitious pianism” blended in “perfectly with Murray’s pulsing washes of sound” and the two helped form a potent and haunting soundtrack to that most turbulent year in France.
Tusques was an ideal choice to compose the music for Rollin’s wild first feature, a work that very much resembles one of the unrestrained improvised pieces Tusque might have been playing in the period. Interviewed on Encore’s box set of Le Viol Du Vampire, Tusque recalls very little of the making of the film but he seems to have good feelings concerning both it and Rollin…he also seems quite thrilled with his cameo with his band that comes late in the film.
“The Apex of his ‘Out’ Recordings” (TransAtlantic) Intercommunal Music landed in 1971 and is widely considered his key work…an exhilarating suite broken up into several pieces that solidified his position as one of the great modern French players…a role that he continues to play to this day.
Unfortunately Tusque has recorded very little for the screen, with Le Viol Du Vampire marking his only notable soundtrack. He scored a short Bernadette Lafont film in 1968 and has since only worked sporadically in documentary work, a fact that makes his remarkable soundtrack for Le Viol Du Vampire one of the great cinematic one hit wonders.
Tusque’s soundtrack album for Le Viol Du Vampire has been released on CD according to Encore’s DVD set but I have been unable to track it down. Pity as I am sure it would reflect what TransAtlantic summed up about the remarkable Francois Tusque’s career…that it is indeed “a joyous revolution”.