I realize it's been a while since I posted anything but I wanted to make my fans here aware that a new CD is being released very soon to which I've made some major contributions (as producer and co-writer). As with PITY THE RICH and DPI this new music is a bit of a departure from my usual movie/prog fare, but I hope fans will give it a chance and support the idea that artists (and writers, producers, arrangers, etc.) need to stretch their horizons from time to time by embarking on a slightly (and at times even radically) different musical journey from one release to the next. I think it's fair to say that most of the time the artist and his/her fans stand only to benefit from this, and I believe that to be the case here. This CD began when a friend of mine named Michael Fleischman approached me about the idea of taking some of his musical 'sketches' and recording and producing them in my home studio. I ended up becoming more heavily involved in the writing of this material than either of us originally envisioned, mostly because I was inspired by the material Mike was bringing to the table and felt I could make some valuable contributions that would help take the music to the next level. The process was very rewarding for both of us and I'm proud of the final result of our efforts.
The name of our duo is ASYLUM 9 and the CD is entitled "Just Visiting". Stay tuned for an announcement from Travis as to when this release will become available (should be very soon). In the meantime here's a quote from one reviewer who was given an advance copy and listened to the new disc from top to bottom...
"THE END OF THE DAY...
The best way to listen to music, besides 25 feet from the center of the stage, is with headphones. Blasting a car stereo is fun but I've reached the age where I'm not exactly thrilled to be sharing my music at 90 decibels with a nice, upstanding, clean-cut family of four at a stop light who's wondering if the Gates of Hell had just opened.
Particularly if a band like Magma is firing out of the speakers. I don't take enjoyment watching everyone roll their windows up as if a tidal wave were approaching. A child's confusion and fear while compelled to stare at me and endure the beautiful cacophony of prog rock doesn't do it for me anymore.
It did in my twenties. Back then, if I could get some old geezer to wince and give me an, "I'd like to get out of this car and kick your ass!" look, I would have considered myself victorious. Of what I was never sure. And if the elderly failed to react in any way, or far worse, refused to react, I took that as a personal challenge. Maybe a little more volume was in order. I'd keep inching the knob up until they turned a "What kind of a knucklehead are you?" glance my way, or until I couldn't bare the loudness any longer. There were wins and losses. Mostly wins.
All of that childish behavior is of course no way to listen to music. Not only do you get zilch from the experience, you distract yourself from concentrating on keeping your rolling metal box away from other rolling metal boxes. It increases the odds of you winding up in a stationary wooden box. The kind without a bitchin' stereo.
Headphones have always been a mainstay for most of us. It's one listening device you can't go cheap on. After all, you have to hear every single note at the end of Karn Evil #9 swooshing from ear to ear for as long as possible until the vibrating waves resemble an acid trip. Everyone knows it's true; if you aren't listening with a good quality set of headphones, you're not hearing anything.
It had been a long time since I wore mine. I bought them in the mid-nineties and have found no reason to buy new ones just yet. So despite the fact that bits of plastic are peeling off exposing the sponge insulation, and that this plastic finds it's way into my hair, ears, and somehow gets down my shirt, it was time to wear them again.
The clock was approaching midnight. My wife was fast asleep so I closed the pocket doors separating our living and family rooms to muffle the noise coming from my beloved headphones. And there was going to be a loud noise tonight.
I looked out my window at the trees swaying in the early fall wind. The moon was nearly full, but shaped in this weird three quarter circle making it look like it hadn't been fully inflated with air. Several leaves splattered the window as a strong surge of wind swallowed the neighborhood. Nature was telling me what should be the evening listen. It was going to be an old traditional favorite, 'You' by Gong. But I had just received in the mail that day a cd from a member of Asylum 9, a Los Angeles band's first album, and although I had planned on listening to it the next day, I knew I shouldn't put it off any longer. This was the moment.
Asylum 9 consists of Mike Fleischman and Vince Dicola, both accomplished musicians who have flown under the radar far too long. It's a familiar story in the art world, every medium is overloaded with so much talent and even 10 times more crap it's next to impossible for artists with unique ability and aptitude for their trade to break in. Before Mike sent me the cd he told me it was something totally different than what I was used to hearing from him, and what to expect. He was right on both counts, and ultimately the music exceeding my expectations.
The CD is called "Just Visiting" and can only be described as a symphony of horror. In parts it reminds me of modern day Goblin with a little Eddie Jobson thrown in. But that is by no means the whole story. The songs were written by Mike and Vince, and they're quite unlike anything else going on in the prog world today. This is music written for those who are reckless enough to want their senses rattled and don't care where the journey leads. The songs range from sonic complexity to profoundly simplicity."Stone Ghosts" is an example of that simple kind of song that sticks to your ribs, having an easy but mystical melody that summons a Gothic atmosphere. It's truly a welcomed relief toward the end of the disc after all the frantic interplay between dark and light themes one has to travel through.
Vince's vast experience as producer is such a bonus to the music it feels like you're watching a movie as well. Indiscriminate sounds spring from nowhere, incomplete phone calls add tension, world leaders offer a facade of empty promises meant to soothe our fears... all are perfectly placed within the music's dark structure. He's created a rough, heavy edge to the sound, and during the delicate passages there's a ambiance of dread you know is looming in your future. He's a master composer as well.
About halfway through the listen I was thanking my headphones for doing their usual outstanding job. That was the only time my mind strayed even remotely from what my ears were hearing. As if to punish me for taking even a few seconds reprieve from the madness, my body was brought back to attention by a passage that infused me with such shock and intensity it went above levels I had experience listening to Present. But "Just Visiting" all is not all doom and gloom. There's a subtle sense of humor here and there giving more depth to the experience. Vince and Mike understand full well the idea of contrast and proper execution. It's music with tremendous balance.
It was sad to read recently that prog rock festival giant Nearfest was disbanding after 12 years of excellence in providing fans with the highest caliber of progressive music we can hope to have assembled in one place for one weekend, year after year. I'd like to thank Rob LaDuca, Chad Hutchinson, Kevin Feeley, all the devoted Nearfest personnel behind the scenes for giving us a stretch in time we'll always remember. Events such as this ought to last forever, but nothing does. And in light of that fact, we need to turn to other avenues to get what we need, which is new worlds in music, no matter where it comes from, no matter how hard we have to search for it. I'll be doing that forever, and my headphones better be up to the task."[/i]
Hello to all my fans who frequent this message board and my web site,
I wanted all of you to know that after many years of seeking ways to accomplish this on my own, another entity has finally stepped up to plate with the resources and the passion to tackle all the business issues associated with obtaining \'official\' clearance to release this collection. The master tapes have been sitting in a vault at SONY MUSIC (the are the official copyright owners) for many, many years now, but thanks to INTRADA there is finally a high-quality CD version of my entire ROCKY IV score, plus one surprise goodie that actually starts the collection off quite nicely in my humble opinion (previously unreleased track). The executive producer and president of Intrada eagerly invited and welcomed my input on the project, and he and his staff worked very hard to make sure I was completely satisfied with the final result in every way, and I can happily report that they exceeded my expectations in every department.
Once again, I am very happy to announce that my ROCKY IV instrumental score is finally available on CD in its entirety! Be forewarned, however... The actual playing time is a bit on the short side, but every piece of music of mine that\'s in the movie is on this disc, and the film required no more music than this, especially considering all the pop songs that were included in the movie (no songs on this new release, however).
I told the the head of Intrada that I have fans who have been patiently and eagerly waiting and hoping for this day to come for a long time, and I told him he can count on my fans to step up to the plate just like he did! I\'d love to hear from those who care to share comments. Even though this project happened a long time ago, I will always care about what people think of the music and whether or not it has withstood the test of time, as they say.
Thanks for everyone\'s patience and understanding. And please know that I myself was terribly frustrated and discouraged by all the legal roadblocks I came across. I wanted to be in a position to make an announcement of this nature years ago. However, it\'s here now and that\'s all that matters today, right?! I hope the majority of you will feel the wait has been worth it once you have the final product in hand. Hope you enjoy!
I hope you all are well. It\'s been a while since I checked in here so I thought I\'d offer the following update for those who may be interested...
My partner Kenny Meriedeth and I currently have some music up for consideration for the upcoming 6th installement of the ROCKY franchise... "Rocky Balboa". This will (apparently) be the final chapter of the series. Bill Conti has been signed to score the picture for some time now (Conti scored all the Rocky movies except the one I did... Rocky IV), but we\'re hoping there are some openings for "additional score music" as well as songs (with vocals). The package we recently submitted consists of about 45 minutes of material featuring both instrumental score music and some vocal songs I\'ve written over the years with various collaborators. The movie is currently scheduled for release on December 22nd of this year so there\'s not a lot of time to work with. We\'ll see what happens.
The other major project in which we hope to have an opportunity to participate in some manner is the new live-action version of TRANSFORMERS. This movie is currently scheduled for release on 7-4-07 and is being directed by Michael Bay ("The Island", "The Rock", "Armegeddon" and others) and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. As some of you may know, I scored the animated version back in 1986, so I\'m hoping that will carry some weight when we submit some material for consideration for this new version. We recently discovered that a composer has been in place for this movie for over a year now. One of Hans Zimmer\'s many protoges - a composer named Steve Jablonsky - worked on Michael Bay\'s film "The Island" a number of years ago, and apparently Bay committed at that time to hiring Jablonsky for "my next big action project" - which of course just happens to be TRANSFORMERS. After initially learning that this movie was going to be made and on such a large scale, we had an inkling it was going to be an incredibly uphill battle to be considered. We can only hope that the quality of the material we will be submitting, along with support from a number of fans of my original work, will make a positive and lasting impression on the powers-that-be. Fingers crossed!
In the meantime, Travis and I have been preparing multiple compilations - some older but previously unreleased material \'from the vaults\', and some new material as well. Please stay tuned for updates on all of this. Thanks again to all who remain interested in my work. And as usual, special thanks to Travis for all his great support, creatively and personally.
Just wanted to inform anyone who may be interested that I recently completed a new "Transformers"-related piece of music with my partner Kenny Meriedeth, and I posted this on the site associated with one of the producers of the new live action movie that\'s currently slated for release next summer. Here\'s the link to the piece:
I performed this piece at the last Transformers convention I attended years ago. Kenny and I began re-working my original arrangement about a year ago and we continued to work on it even after learning that a composer had been chosen to score the new film. This piece features some \'snippets\' from my score to the 1986 animated movie, along with the original Transformers theme presented in an updated fashion.
I want to thank all who continue to show an interest in my work from the movie ROCKY IV. Many have been asking if and when the instrumental material that wasn\'t included on the soundtrack album will ever be released. The copyright to that material is owned and controlled by parties other than myself so there are some legal issues involved that have been preventing me from making it available on my own. If I am ever lucky enough to clear these hurdles, I will be sure and post a notification here for those who may be interested.
Thanks again to all who continue to have an interest in my earlier movie work.
Just wanted to thank Travis for tirelessly trying to hook up Buckethead and me for some type of future musical collaboration. I was really pleased and surprised to get a message from BH on my home answering machine a few weeks ago. We\'re trying to figure out the best and most productive way to bring this about. Thanks to those of you who\'ve already expressed interest in the idea of a collaborative effort between BH and myself. Hopefully we can make something happen soon. Stay posted!