Luke Cage – music by Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad

Luke CageThere’s the Marvel cinematic universe, the Marvel TV universe, and then there’s the unexpected delight that has been the Marvel Netflix universe. Okay, technically they’re all happening at the same time in the same universe, but Netflix’s Marvel shows have been a feast for those expecting their comic book heroes to be a little bit more grown up without being awash in the grimdark that drowns out most of DC’s live-action superhero films of late. Marvel’s willingness to foreground characters often thought of as second- or third-tier fare is also fun: while the Avengers are getting billion-dollar movies, these other tentacles of Marvel’s universe show us the street-level fight for justice.

And it doesn’t get much more street-level than Luke Cage. Netflix’s unexpectedly popular series was scored by Ali Shaheed Muhammad (of A Tribe Called Quest) and producer/composer Adrian Younge. The resulting combination of their score and a few contributions from other artists was quite possibly the most addictive, compulsive-repeat-listening soundtrack album of 2016. The combination of hip-hop groove, ’70s funk, and lush orchestration is infectious. Hitting “play all” again after the last track is pretty easy.

The songs peppering the soundtrack are perfect, from the quintet of tunes at the beginning of the album to “Bulletproof Love”, which drops a razor-sharp Method Man rap perfectly describing the show as a whole over that symphonic beat brew. Somewhat oddly, the show’s slinky main theme is buried halfway through the album, 4 out of 4but it’s not out of place there – the composers had a vision for the sequencing of the album, and it works just fine.

Even if you didn’t watch the show (and why not?), give Luke Cage’s soundtrack album a spin. It’s a rewarding listen the first time and the fiftieth time.

Order this CD

  1. Good Man – Raphael Saadiq (3:45)
  2. Mesmerized – Faith Evans (4:07)
  3. Ain’t It a Sin – Charles Bradley (3:50)
  4. Stop And Look (And You Have Found Love)
  5. – Adrian Younge and The Delfonics (2:46)

  6. 100 Days, 100 Nights – Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (3:43)
  7. Diamondback Arrives (2:52)
  8. Final Battle – Part 1 (1:44)
  9. In the Wind (2:22)
  10. Diamondback’s Trap (1:42)
  11. Blue Fusion (2:41)
  12. Final Battle – Part 2 (2:14)
  13. I’m Luke Cage (1:17)
  14. Street Cleaning (1:38)
  15. The Ambush (2:05)
  16. End Theme (1:41)
  17. Coffee at Midnight (1:31)
  18. Red-Handedly Blameless (2:57)
  19. Always Forward Pops (1:19)
  20. Unveil the Bride (1:46)
  21. Shameek’s Death (2:19)
  22. The Plan (1:48)
  23. Requiem for Phife (3:43)
  24. We Had Coffee (0:55)
  25. Pops Is Gone (2:48)
  26. Theme (1:09)
  27. Greed Becomes Me (0:35)
  28. Bulletproof Love featuring Method Man (2:12)
  29. Microphone Check Five’O (0:56)
  30. Luke’s Freedom (4:52)
  31. Uptown Claire (0:43)
  32. Shades Beware (0:44)
  33. Misty Resolute (1:28)
  34. Fresh Air (1:24)
  35. Kinda Strong (0:37)
  36. Big Man Little Jacket (1:06)
  37. Scarfe’s Dying (2:17)
  38. Claire’s Wisdom (1:13)
  39. Gun Threat (2:40)
  40. Bad Love (1:16)
  41. Finding Chico (1:22)
  42. I Am Carl Lucas (1:04)
  43. Crispus Attucks (0:47)
  44. Hideout (2:22)
  45. Cuban Coffee (0:44)
  46. Like a Brother (1:24)
  47. Cottonmouth’s Clamp (1:38)
  48. Survival (1:01)
  49. Cottonmouth Theme (0:19)
  50. Luke Cops (1:12)
  51. Crushin’ On Reva (1:07)
  52. Beloved Reva (1:24)

Released by: Hollywood Records
Release date: Octover 7, 2016
Total running time: 1:20:47

Music Written For The Film Planet Of The Apes

Planet Of The Apes: Music Written For The FilmMajor labels may drop re-releases, even expanded ones, of classic rock albums at the drop of a hat; asking for the same treatment for a soundtrack album – especially one that still sells well in its present form – is a completely different species. Such is the case with Jerry Goldsmith’s career-defining score from 1968’s Planet Of The Apes. It’s not the complete score, every note recorded for the movie, and yet it’s still in demand with a certain niche audience that isn’t likely to break out of its niche. Where’s the incentive to re-license everything, secure new rights, pay union musicians from 48 years ago for even more minutes of their music again? (Understand, I’m not articulating my own belief there, but rather the thoughts that must be going through the head of a music label.) That’s why John O’Callaghan, author of a well-regarded book on Goldsmith’s Apes score, opted to start from scratch: get the license to use the original sheet music and arrangements to produce a brand-new recording.

But isn’t that road fraught with peril too? Well…yes. O’Callaghan has had more access to the orchestrations and timing notes than anyone since the music personnel who worked on the original film, and carefully timed things out to the correct tempo. Perhaps most impressively, he rented out the same exotic percussion instruments used for the 1968 score sessions and recorded them acoustically. Where Music Written For The Film Planet Of The Apes falters is in the choice – almost certainly dictated by budget – to used sampled and synthesized instruments for everything else. In some cases, this isn’t actually bad; O’Callaghan has some nice string samples at his disposal. But it’s the brass instruments that are let down by this recording. Very few of the brass instruments heard here are going to convince anyone that there’s a real player at the real mouthpiece of a real horn (or tuba, etc.). A few of the samples are just about credible, but generally speaking, the synthesized nature of the music almost robs the fancy acoustic percussion of its credibility. Though with the project’s likely low budget, I’m not sure what the alternative would’ve been.

3 out of 4On the upside, we finally have a complete recording of the Planet Of The Apes soundtrack, and it’s quite enjoyable. The downside, however, is a reliance on synths and samples that are sometimes less than convincing. The alternate arrangements presented in the bonus tracks are fascinating, as are the liner notes (derived from O’Callaghan’s book, “Simians & Serialism”). It’s an interesting companion to Goldsmith’s 1968 recording, but not a replacement for it (which its author acknowledges). Listen in the same spirit as someone listening to a decent cover band, or perhaps the Cult Files collections of the 1990s.

Order this CD

  1. Planet of the Apes (Main Title) (2:19)
  2. Crash Landing (6:53)
  3. The Searchers (2:32)
  4. The Search Continues (4:59)
  5. The Clothes Snatchers (3:13)
  6. The Hunt (5:14)
  7. A New Mate (1:13)
  8. The Revelation (3:23)
  9. No Escape (5:42)
  10. The Trial (1:47)
  11. New Identity (2:29)
  12. A Bid For Freedom (2:39)
  13. The Forbidden Zone (3:27)
  14. The Intruders (1:11)
  15. The Cave (1:25)
  16. The Revelation Part 2 (3:26)

    Bonus Tracks:

  17. Planet of the Apes (Main Title) (2:19)
  18. The Searchers (2:32)
  19. The Revelation (3:23)

Released by: Pithikos Entertainment
Release date: 2016
Total running time: 60:14

8-Bit Weapon – Disassembly Language: Ambient Music for Deprogramming, Vol. 1

Disassembly Language Vol. 1An interesting new experiment for 8 Bit Weapon, Disassembly Language returns the chiptune duo to its Commodore 64-centric SID-sound-chip roots, but trades in the usual punchy three-minute originals for epic-length new-age chiptune instrumentals. The effect is nothing short of hypnotic.

“Phase I: Lexical Analysis” opens with mesmerizingly looping sequences over a gentle, slow pad; by the end of the track, the pad has gradually taken over as the dominant sound. “Phase II: Debugger” sticks with the hypnotic repeating figure idea, again to great effect, while “Phase III: Refactoring” and “Phase IV: Release” concentrate on slowly changing harmonies. The first two tracks have enough variation to relax you while still leaving you awake; the last two tracks are not listen-in-the-car material.

Is it great going-to-sleep material? Yes – it’s been sending me off to the sandman for a week now, and it even sent my oldest, also a chiptune fan, off to sleep. Can you ask for better depreogramming than that?

4 out of 4Fans of such hypnotically mesmerizing synth music as Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack, Tangerine Dream at its dreamy best, and the trance-inducing repeating musical ideas in Raymond Scott’s Soothing Sounds For Baby trilogy will find a lot to love here. And perhaps the most promising thing is that, like Scott’s Soothing Sounds, this album promises to be just the first volume.

Order

  1. Phase I: Lexical Analysis (13:37)
  2. Phase II: Debugger (13:08)
  3. Phase III: Refactoring (20:16)
  4. Phase IV: Release (22:44)

Released by: 8-Bit Weapon
Release date: February 9, 2016
Total running time: 1:00:45