JAKE SPEED (1985)
Music composed, performed and produced by Mark Snow.
14 Tracks (Playing Time = 31:53)
Music engineered by Tom Perry. Music supervised by Don Perry. Original album sequence by Tom Null. Digitally edited and mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland. CD Art Direction by Mark Banning.
BSX Records 8851
Limited edition of 1000 copies.
As T.J. HOOKER began to wrap in 1986, Mark Snow got a call to score this box office flop starring Wayne Crawford. Snow had just completed putting together an electronic studio in his home and this score was the first thing worked on in the new studio. The music is entirely performed on a Synclavier, one of the higher end electronic synth keyboards from the time that also allowed some sampling for other sounds. It gives fans a chance to hear the composer score an action–comedy film while experimenting with the new instrument’s capabilities.
The music for JAKE SPEED is very 80s in its semi-pop moments with a predominant pan pipe sound being favored for melodic delivery giving the score an overall lighter texture. Snow also experiments with layered sounds at various dynamic ranges including more dramatic fluctuations in volume to increase tension. As an experiment in discovering ways to avoid a constant volume the score works quite well and illustrates the composer’s ability at writing engaging themes within intriguing textures-though here the sounds seem a bit more traditional than other scores. Fans of electronic music will note some sound characteristics for what Carpenter and Howarth were doing at the time but it does not go down the path of the more kinetic Jan Hammer electronica-influenced sound from the 1980s. Snow tends to only use repetitive sequences occasionally with a score that feels a bit more linear and traditionally conceived even while incorporating intriguing percussive sounds. The rare occasion where these ideas are slowly introduced and then layered together happens in seemingly reflective moments of the score like “Maggie Leaves.” There is also a bit more nuance to the music with it having a more flexible rubato than is the case in electronic music, though this sometimes might give the music an arrhythmic sense briefly.
Those who are interested in electronic scoring, particularly how the new breed of instruments were being used, will find this release of great value. It is a welcome addition for fans who have come to enjoy the composer’s more recent scores as well. Others who enjoy electronic scores will need to decide if they enjoy the primary thematic material which recurs often enough in the brief CD to lend a greater sense of cohesion to the whole presentation.
---Steven A. Kennedy , 11 June 2009
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