Several weeks ago (a month? I don’t know.. time has become a blur) Alex White, author and 1/2 of the cast of The Gearheart sent me an email asking if I would be interested in reviewing a soundtrack album of music he was creating. I was a bit taken aback due to the fact that although I was a music major for a brief year, I have NO claims on being knowledgeable enough about soundtrack’s to know what qualifies as good music. I simply know what works for me, and what doesn’t. I almost declined before I realized, that is exactly the same thing I felt when I started my series of podcast reviews, and yet many of you have indicated you find them useful. In that respect, and with the caveat that I really do know nothing about music, I offer you this review of The Maiden Flight of the Avenger.
As any listener of The Gearheart can (or should) be able to tell you, one of the characters that grows throughout the story is Augustus, or Gus. He’s a wizard with machines. Literally. His pet and perhaps most beloved contraption is a plane called The Avenger. After visiting thegearheart.com, you should realize that this soundtrack was created to correspond to a novella being released in podcast form starting next week. (December 20, 2010 to be exact.)
The album is for sale at Amazon, CD Baby and iTunes (links provided above). If it is for sale in other places, I did not run across it, but that shouldn’t keep you from checking with your favorite online retailer. I’ve also provided a link in the sidebar to the Amazon sales page.
Now.. on to the review.
The album is seven songs long and each is appropriately titled as to give you a glimpse of what might be heading Gus’s way. Maybe. I can understand artists that have complained about the breaking up of an album that was meant to be listened to as an album rather than as individual songs. However, that is the way most of us listen to music today. With the advent of the mp3 player it has become very easy to carry around a large number of songs and albums. No longer are you constrained to what “tapes” you have room for in your backpack (yes, I remember those days, so?). With this truth, you might be tempted to pick and choose songs from MFotA. However, I would encourage you, if you’re interested, to purchase the entire album and listen to it as such. You might eventually choose a track or two that will gain individual play time, but the audioscape the entire work paints is worth hearing in its entirety at least once.
The playlist and my own notation are as follows:
1. Barnswallow – Starts slow and melodic, repetitive theme that blows up into a percussive anthem bringing visions of aerial acrobatics. (This one is available for free at thegearheart.com)
2. Tale of the Tome – A bit delicate compared to the rest. Good use of full stereophonic effect. The swelling into the full orchestra is chill inducing.
3. Pursued by Flame – Remember dragon vs plane? Yeah. So do I. Fast paced with full use of the rhythm section.
4. Beyond the Clouds – The title is well chosen for this one. Very etherial. Slow. Building.
5. Forbidden Alchemy – This one is fun. Perhaps my favorite. Choral accompaniment. Asian sound with taiko drum sound.
6. The Hawk and the Swallow – The second choral selection. Back to western style music and definitely martial in theme. FINALLY we have The Gearheart theme floating around. I’d been waiting. I always enjoyed that Theme.
7. Once More the Curtain Rises – or closes as this is the last song. However, it is quite short and almost seems to be the music introducing the end of the intermission.
So.. would I buy it? Or more importantly would I recommend that my readers do? Yes. If you like thematic soundtracks, you’re going to love MFotA. Simple but true. I will use it as back ground writing music or perhaps calm down at the end of the day music. I don’t see me listening to individual tracks often, but that isn’t a bad thing. Another impressive work from an impressively talented individual.
Disclaimer: Mr. White DID provide me with the tracks free of charge in order to review the album. However, I will be purchasing my own copy soon. Free is great, but so is supporting those that entertain you when you can.