After the ambitious scope displayed in his last two albums, Atlanta-area composer Brian Skutle returns to the more compilation-like approach of his first two albums with "Storytelling".
The original title of his fifth album ("Storytelling Through Sound," later shortened to just, "Storytelling") was inspired by an "artistic mission statement" Skutle wrote in 2006, in which he said, "As early as my first compositions back in 1998, a common thread connected most of my pieces. Film music has been a dominant inspiration to me dating back to even before I began composing. There was a passion and feeling that came through the greatest film scores, turning the composers into storytellers in their own right. They were telling their own stories on top of the one the director told on-screen. This aesthetic would creep into my own music, with each piece taking the listener on a musical journey by tapping into a sort of emotional truth that may be abstract in execution, but palpable in its specificity."
By the time he wrote these words, Skutle had already composed (or thought of) the majority of the pieces that would eventually find their way on "Storytelling". In 2002, inspired by the comics series, "Fray", created by Joss Whedon, Skutle wrote down the basic motivic ideas and implanted the "feel" he would later accomplish in the tone poem, "Calling of a Warrior" In 2005, Skutle would find a new way for himself to further explore experiments in musical structure and the evocation of intimate feelings in his five-piece cycle "Passionate Illusions." As he wrote about the cycle in liner notes (available in their entirety on www.sonic-cinema.com), "For me, the five pieces of 'Illusions' represent musical illustrations of sensuality, and not in the way that may be best known. These are more abstractions inspired by dreams, fantasies, and feelings. Artists throughout the ages have been exploring these very ideas in music, film, books, and theater. It is their work- and my own feelings on the subject (which have been influenced by these works many times over the years)- that has inspired this cycle." Among the artists whose work had the strongest influence on Skutle in creating "Passionate Illusions" are the scores of Ennio Morricone ("Lolita"), Cliff Martinez ("Solaris") and Jocelyn Pook ("Eyes Wide Shut").
But it wasn't just the images in a cult comic book series or the scores for unique and powerful films that took very original looks at the world of erotic and romantic feeling that inspired Skutle in the compositions on this album. In 2003, Skutle (who has also written several hundred movie reviews, also available on Sonic Cinema) began an annual tradition of watching almost-exclusively all horror movies during the month of October, and blogging about his choices at the end of each "marathon." In 2004, Skutle was so inspired by not just the haunting images he saw but the sounds he heard to create his own musical descent into the macabre with "Otherworldly March". The next two years also inspired Skutle's creative side, which he turned into unique and unnerving music works all their own in "Gothic Twilight" and "Darkness". His artistic sensibilities would be challenged again in 2009, resulting in his most experimental work in music terror yet, "The Hour of the Wolf", the title of which came from Ingmar Bergman's experimental foray into cinematic horror 1968.
While the pieces contained on "Storytelling", which is the third consecutive album of Skutle's that features bold and evocative artwork by Carrie Stribling, lose some of their context in the composer's career by coming after the albums "Sonic Visions of a New Old West" (2007) and "Beyond the Infinite: A Musical Odyssey" (2010), all one has to do in listen to them compared to the pieces on Skutle's first two albums, "Creative Beginnings" (1999) and "Dark Experiments" (2000), and see that Skutle has not only come a long way in his artistic development, but could also have his best work ahead of him.
"Storytelling", like all of Skutle's albums, is available online at www.cdbaby.com, as well as other online vendors such as Amazon and iTunes.
Thanks for listening,
"Creative Beginnings" at CDBaby
"Dark Experiments" at CDBaby
"Sonic Visions of a New Old West" at CDBaby
"Beyond the Infinite: A Musical Odyssey" at CDBaby
"Storytelling" at CDBaby