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Music Review: Tracker, Blankets

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Given that Tracker’s latest work “Blankets” is in both theory and execution a soundtrack to Craig Thompson’s 600 page graphic novel of the same name, we should probably start with the book.

I’ve never been able to read comic books very well, so I was a bit nervous when I leafed through Thompson’s Blankets the first time…it looks superficially very much like a comic book. I set it down on the coffee table and went about doing some chores around the house. My fiancee, who to my knowledge has never read even a page of a comic book, picked up Blankets and started reading. That was pretty much the last I saw of her until she was finished with it. She was transfixed.

So was I when I read this story that revolves around the experience of sharing a bed with another person, first the author’s brother, while growing up, then, his girlfriend in high school. The novel’s simplicity belies its beauty. Thompson’s images and heartfelt emoting make for an intoxicating work. There is a reason why all 50 Amazon reviewers have given it a perfect rating (something I’ve never seen before) – it’s a masterpiece.

The professional critics have agreed, and the book encountered so much enthusiasm that Tracker was brought in to create a virtual sonic companion to the novel.

Scoring a movie or a musical is easier in many ways than scoring a book. In both of the former, the composer essentially creates mood in conjunction with the visual elements, and more importantly works, in time, with the visual elements to do so. A soundtrack for a novel has no such advantages, since everyone reads at a different pace, so it must capture and condense the mood of the inspiring work in order to create a more evocative experience.

Tracker’s work does that, and moreover, creates a work which stands alone as a good listen as well. The general ‘mood’ of Thompson’s and Tracker’s works are quite similar. Sometimes whimsical and sometimes melancholic, each captures in its respective media the confusion of growing up, and the ultimate compromise of doing so when we find ways to make both our fears and our dreams happy. That is to say, both evoke many moods and both do their best to resolve them.

Thompson’s work takes place in the Michigan and Wisconsin, so it is no surprise that snow plays so heavily into the story. Tracker too, gives multiple treatments to snow in Flurry (Pt. 1) (Listen), Flurry (Pt. 2) (Listen), and Snow (Listen). The album is stylisticly diverse, with such slow, growing tracks as Stirring Furnace, (Listen), to the only vocal track on the album and its final resolution, Everything is Beautiful (Listen). Overall, Tracker’s Blankets is very nearly worthy to the book and will almost certainly be enjoyed by anyone who liked the work that inspired it.

If you haven’t read Blankets, I would suggest buying it and the CD, and enjoying the full experience as I did.

love it, hate it, there’s more of it at Pacetown.

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  • Eric Olsen

    this fine review has been selected for Advance

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