Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Way of the Future

First things first -- I know I owe several people personal emails, and I promise I will tend to these as soon as I can.

Second things second -- There have been a number of questions regarding upcoming releases in the past days. I will attempt to address some of these here.

Q What all is coming out at this point?
A One book, one CD.

Q What happened to the idea of putting out a DVD?
A Several moths ago we switched gears for a number of reasons, but the driving force was content. The goal of The Rarities has always been to present something both revealing and beautiful. "Revealing" in that you'll hear music that A) you've never heard before and B) will help you to understand Shore's musical process on the LOTR films. "Beautiful" in that we've striven to present something aesthetically unified and pleasing. More on that in a second...

Q Will The Rarities be a multimedia project?
A Strictly speaking, no, but only because we've decided to stick to an audio presentation. However, within that audio you're hearing orchestral music, electronic mock-ups and spoken word content. I'd say multi-source uni-media, but that's the worst marketing buzz phrase ever.

Q What happened to the video that was shot?
A Some of the audio from these sessions will be on The Rarities. Video qua video didn't maintain the aesthetic we eventually established with this release. That doesn't mean something went awry or that we were in any way dissatisfied with what we had. (You'll note that some of the footage made its way to the Radio City site. And we may end up using it for something else someday, who knows.) The video footage simply pushed TRA too much toward a documentarian goal. It felt too clinical, too much like a museum piece. As the project progressed, we began to favor more of a performance feel. We began to envision something musical that informed the audience, not something informative that had a musical aspect. Video did not lend itself to this, so it was jettisoned.

Q Hours upon hours of music were recorded for LOTR. You're obviously not releasing hours upon hours! What gives!? I don't like you!
A Harsh! Yes, there were hours upon hours of material recorded. But here's how that works... for example:

Prologue Take 1 (30 bars):

10 bars of music you've heard (on the OST) | 10 bars you've never heard | 10 bars you've heard (on the OST)

Prologue Take 2 (30 bars):

10 bars you've heard (on the OST -- same as take 1) | 10 bars you've never heard (same as take 1) | 3 bars you've never heard (all new) | 7 bars you've heard (on the OST -- same as take 1)

Prologue Take 3 (30 bars):

10 bars you've heard (on the OST -- same as take 1) | 10 bars you've heard (on the OST) | 10 bars of music you've heard (on the OST -- same as take 1)

Now, it's interesting to illustrate the progression by including all three takes, I'll give you that. And that was originally what we thought we would do. But you've already got Take 3; it was on the Original Soundtrack. We could put both Take 1 and Take 2 on TRA, but why? Take 2 has everything that Take 1 has, and more! Here's where the aesthetics kick in. Including three takes is illustrative, but not artistic. It informs in a basic step-by-step way, but it dilutes beauty. If we include only Take 2 on The Rarities, you get to hear everything of musical interest--that is, everything you haven't yet heard--in a single composition. But we also get to create a program of music in a pleasing, emotionally resonant shape, because we have one take of the Prologue alternate... which can now lead into one take of the next alternate... and the next... and so on. Now it's informative, but also narrative in a sense. It continues to honor Tolkien's work rather than laying it on a slab.

The one-disc Rarities is designed to allow the unused music to become something artful -- an album that you can put on and either analyze or bask in. Since we were able to find a way to do this without cutting ANY significant material, we were all very comfortable with this choice. The only thing you'll be missing is linear redundancy.

Concisely, we chose listening over list-making.

Q That was a long-winded response.
A I know. Sorry.

Q Ok, what about the packaging options?
A Hit me...

Q Hardcover book versus paperback? What's available?
A The publishers are meeting on that this week. I'm pushing for the inclusion of a hardcover version, even if it's a limited run. They're eyeing the budget. Classic confrontation, though we both respect the other's point of view. I'll keep you informed.

Q The Master Box?
A First, let me reiterate that I was never directly involved in this project, so I'm observing from afar. However, this was explored and explored. At the end of the day, it felt too much like a project motivated by financial gain. Too many franchises have offered their audiences repackaged product in an effort to to re-sell what has already been sold. No one was able to come up with a version of The Master Box that did anything other than this.

I'm not saying that Master Box packaging will never happen, but not until something is designed that actually benefits the consumers. Fans of The Lord of the Rings deserve better. As Shore stated at one point, "It just feels like more stuff to make people buy. That isn't right."

Q This obviously effects other packaging options, such at the poorly-named Whole Enchilada, yes?
A Yes.

Q So what all is coming out?
A The book and The Rarities.

Q Packaged together?
A Exactly. It's funny, we were all excited when TRA got picked up as a genuine album, not simply a supplement for the book. But since life has a crazy circuitous way to it, the different corporations involved decided to work towards a unified goal instead of on two parallel tracts. In the end, the publishing company decided to buy the finished album from the record label at a reduced rate, and then package it with the book as a single unit... thus greatly reducing the overall cost for the consumer. This meant that we ended up with an album, properly produced by experienced engineers and editors, that enhanced the book in a well-planned organic way. And, we lowered the consumers' cost. Good news for everyone.

And yes, that extra year of prep for the album was absolutely necessary. This needed to be something unique. Believe me, that "curator" credit was hard earned. I took years--literally years--to find the materials and shape them. There's an old saying, "To carve a horse take a piece of marble and knock off everything that doesn't look like a horse." But what if you'd never seen a horse before?

Q What are the specs on the album?
A It's been completely remastered in crystal clear 2-channel stereo, and runs just seconds under 80 minutes. Track lists and such will be released when the time is right. Some things you still have to wait for. :)

Q What's the release date?
A We'll debut the book at Radio City in October, but I'm not sure which day. Obviously we'll have it available on Oct. 9 for the first show, but we may also do a signing on Oct. 8. I'm really not even involved with such things... I mean, I'll be there, I'm just letting more capable people plan out the details. I'll keep you updated as publicists inform me.

I hope this clears things up. I know that the transparency with which I've treated this project means that all processes are exposed, and that includes our gear changes. But these changes are a natural part of every project. Just ask the guys working on The Hobbit films right now!

None of the above are last minute alterations. We've been moving in these circles for several months now. I'll try my best to answer individual questions in the coming days, but understand that my priority right now is finishing this project, not promoting about it. Were I a savvier huckster, I'd figure a way to do both. Instead, I'll just promise to keep you onboard as the project changes ahead--now full steam!--and occasionally takes a turn or two.
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