Après Ski – OST Review

This soundtrack to seventies soft-core nudie Après Ski—retitled for Anglos ‘Sex in The Snow’ or ‘Snowballin’—just recently reissued on vinyl and digitally by Pluton Records, will make you wanna tear off your parka and let snowflakes melt on your rosebud nipples as you carouse in the snow. The original 1971 soundtrack was much sought after for years by music nerds and vinyl hounds, and is now jazzed up with a whole new track, audio clips, and several psychedelic asides. Après Ski’s score swings all the way from jazz to funk to sugary pop, all looped in by composer John Ranger’s Hammond organ in a deliriously silly celebration of the shedding of clothing. The album cover features a beautifully drawn story-book illustration starring three spaced-out sex kittens and a devious mustachioed gentleman, cocktail in hand, looking just light and foamy enough to have marched out of one of the lounge exotica interludes dotting the album’s poppier A Side.

Directed by Roger Cardinal during a boom in Quebecois nudie flix during the late 60s and 70s known as “Maple Syrup Porn”, Après Ski was one of a host of Quebecois sexploitation pictures; a homegrown genre with its own distinct, sticky, maple syrup flavour. Also colourfully known as “films de cul” (ass movies), “films de fesses” (butt movies), or “films cochons” (oink), these flix were much beloved by the popular masses as light sex farces that were easy on the eyes. Les films de fesses emerged like a snowball to The Pope’s groin during the Quiet Revolution, just as the grip of the Roman Catholic Church and conservative Duplessis government was loosening.

Light on story, Après Ski is women baring skin in a ski lodge to the soundtrack of movie star Quebecois chanteuses and John Ranger’s big band jazz group, Illustration. Illustration’s members spanned Quebec, Ontario, and the United States, and the band was big enough in its day to have backed Tina Turner and performed with acts like Miles Davis and Funkadelic, before dissolving prematurely due to poor management.

Après Ski’s A Side features the contagiously catchy confection Après Ski, the movie’s  theme song sung by sexploitation starlet Celine Lomez. Other highlights are a comedy bit voiced by Rene Angelil (Celine Dion’s husband and manager!), and Mariette Levesque’s breathily seductive Dors Avec Moi sung with almost melancholy longing like the classics of Les Chansons Francaises. Marc Hamilton’s Comme Elles Sont Belles, where he reflects on the beauty of girls in the snow, evoke the warmth of a provincial French hamlet while also evoking the scent of freshly cut fromage. Brief instrumental interludes shift abruptly into psychedelics, or sudden tension with the straining of an organ chord. Someone obviously chose each segment with obsessive care. The new track Arabesque shifts the tone with some funk-infused vocals, bridging the way to Après Ski’s funkier B Side. Illustration’s sound is incredibly sophisticated for such a light-hearted flick, with flaring horns, warm saxophone, and the climactic patter of drums. The acclaimed B Side in particular is a pleasure to listen to, and likely what made this record such a gem among vinyl collectors.

- Esther Splett

About the author:

Esther Splett

Esther Splett is a multidisciplinary artist and writer living in Montreal, Canada. She studied Intermedia in Studio Arts at Concordia University, and currently plays in the band Sacral Nerves and co-hosts the Audio Smut radio show at CKUT. | TUMBLR // hourofthestar.tumblr.com

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