Friday, June 10, 2016

Catching up with Intrada (Part 1)

There's quite a lot of ground to cover since my last music update, so I'll be going through the releases I've worked on by label. First up is Intrada, which has had such a prodigious output these last few years that I'll be breaking my recap into two parts! We begin with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Season Two, a deluxe 4-CD set of music from the classic television series. It contains scores by Stu Phillips, John Cacavas and Herbert Don Woods, but the majority of the music on this set was composed by Bruce Broughton, who joined the show during its second season and confirmed the outstanding dramatic chops that would help him become one of the most respected composers in Hollywood. The set is now sold out, but well worth hunting down!

For Intrada, I also had the opportunity to write about two scores by the late James Horner. Though I never had an opportunity to personally interview Mr. Horner, it is always a great honor and pleasure to write about his music. He described himself as a colorist first and foremost, and these two scores are masterful examples. The first, Gorky Park, is a wintry blend of eerie dissonance, powerful low brass, funky urban beats, interpolations of Tchaikovsky and a love theme for the ages. The second, A Far Off Place, is a dynamic, symphonic score that taps into the grandeur, romance and adventure of Africa. Horner was a titan in his field, and these works are just two examples of why he will be so badly missed.

Next up we have a pair of double-features. You'd be hard pressed to find a stranger double bill than Maurice Jarre's Mandingo / Plaza Suite! The former is an unconventional score for a notorious blaxploitation epic, featuring a collaboration between Jarre and blues artist Muddy Waters ("Born in this Time"). The latter is a brief, light-on-its-feet score for a Neil Simon adaptation. The combo makes for a wonderful demonstration of Jarre's amazing versatility. The other double-feature is The Return of a Man Called Horse / Inherit the Wind from maestro Laurence Rosenthal, pairing one of his most sweeping scores with one of his most intimate. Both films are character studies, albeit told on very different scales, and both allow Rosenthal to shine. He remains one of my favorite composers, and I've been blessed to work on so many of his releases over the years!

Finally, we have a trio of stand-alone releases from different composers. First is Craig Safan's The Last Starfighter, a thrilling score for one of the most-loved cult sci-fi films of the 1980s. Newly remastered and expanded, it's never sounded better than it does here. Second is Christopher Young's more recent Killing Season, a rich and meditative blend of American and Eastern European influences. Working on this release was especially interesting for the way Young reworked his material into suite form for album presentation. Third is the premiere release of Michael Kamen's whirlwind action-comedy score for Adventures in Babysitting. I've been a Kamen fan since I first saw Brazil, and it was a joy to dive into this very fun score—much of it unused in the actual film!

That's it for Part 1. Next up: Silvestri, Arnold, Goldsmith, Goodwin, more Young and Safan, and my notes hit vinyl for the first time!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places

I’ve been a long time away from the actual blogging portion of this blog (though I do try to keep the sidebar current with my latest work), and many very cool projects have been released in the interim. One of these is Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, edited by J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec (editors of the Gaslight series of Sherlock Holmes anthologies). It’s a brand-new anthology of short stories centered on the person of George Edward Challenger, the brilliant and volatile hero of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, The Poison Belt and other tales of wonder and adventure from the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

My short story “The Crystal Minders” is one of ten stories to appear in this collection. It's a macabre account of Professor Challenger’s summons to a lonely estate, where a former mentor and an old rival have made a disturbing scientific breakthrough. Without delving too deeply into spoiler territory, I was inspired by the challenge of taking a more contemporary science-fiction concern and re-framing it in terms that might have been accessible to Edwardian-era readers.

I’m honored to appear in Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places alongside the very talented Wendy N. Wagner, Stephen Volk, Lawrence C. Connolly, J. R. Campbell, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Mark Morris, Guy Adams & James Goss, Josh Reynolds and Andrew J. Wilson. (The cover illustration, by the way, is by Academy Award-winning artist Dave Elsey!) Making things even more exciting, the anthology has been endorsed by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and has recently been nominated for an Aurora Award from the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association. It is currently available in paperback and eBook formats.