Thursday, September 5, 2013

Almost Roger Zelazny Review: The Jack of Shadows album by Tim P. Scott

This is a review of Tim P. Scott's Jack of Shadows album and it was a really tricky review for me to write.

I enjoy writing my commentaries on Roger Zelazny's works, but that's mostly a function of sharing something I really enjoy with people who might appreciate it. I don't delude myself that the commentaries I write are genuinely trenchant in their observations. They tend to top out at "I liked/didn't like this aspect for these reasons" and pointing out references that might not be obvious. (Sometimes I tell a boring personal story about how I came to be acquainted with the piece, too.)

I'm writing them as a fan, and not as an academic, which I am not pretending to be.They're certainly not New York Review of Books caliber reviews, but I think I do generally manage to convey the points I try to make.

While my reviews aren't brilliant, at least I have the vocabulary to write them. I don't think that's really the case with music, which is why I've been putting this off for so long. I've loved Jack of Shadows since I first read it twenty years ago, and I've loved this album based on the book for at least ten.

I had bought the CD once before, but lost the copy in a move across the country. (I hope the people now living in our old apartment in rural New Hampshire enjoyed it)

I decided to buy another copy, which I did in March of this year.  I haven't bought a physical CD in ages. It's a collection of electronic/instrumental compositions, each of them based on a character or scene in the novel.

  1. Alive again
  2. Kolwynia
  3. Eaterrock
  4. Evene
  5. High Dudgeon
  6. Rosalie’s Dance
  7. The Borshin Boogie #1
  8. From the Dark to the Light
  9. Shadowguard
  10. Morningstar
  11. The Borshin Boogie #2
  12. Flight
  13. World Turning

The liner notes provide a summary for the story and note that the tracks were ordered as they were for musical reasons, and therefore don't correspond to their order in the books. There's a nifty poster on the opposite side, but it was a bit too large to scan and show off.

Here's a picture I took with my phone:

The liner notes also note the Tempo and the Key for each piece, which will be of interest to those of a more musical bent.

I like the album a lot. I lack the vocabulary to articulate exactly why I think the song Evene perfectly encapsulates the character Evene, but I think it does. When I reviewed the comic book adaptation of Nine Princes in Amber, I said that I thought it got the plot across well enough, but couldn't convey the mood of the book. This strikes me as almost the opposite. The various tracks spark in me the same feelings as their corresponding passages, and I think that's high praise indeed.

"I am Jack of Shadows!" he cried out. "Lord of Shadow Guard! I am Shadowjack, the thief who walks in silence and in shadows! I was beheaded in Igles and rose again from the Dung Pits of Glyve. I drank the blood of a vampire and ate a stone. I am the breaker of the Compact. I am he who forged a name in the Red Book of Ells. I am the prisoner in the jewel. I duped the Lord of High Dudgeon once, and I will return for vengeance upon him. I am the enemy of my enemies. Come take me, filth, if you love the Lord of Bats or despise me, for I have named myself Jack of Shadows!"

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