Posts Tagged ‘music’

The Iron Codex Spotify Playlist

One year ago I brought you the Spotify playlist guide for my first Dark Arts novel, The Midnight Front. I’ve chosen to reprise that effort by putting together another Spotify playlist for the second book in the series, The Iron Codex.

Music is invaluable to me as a storyteller. It inspires me with new ideas, and when I’m working, movie soundtracks often help me maintain a consistent frame of mind and emotional state that’s suited to whatever I’m working on.

Once again, to give you a look into my brain’s creative relationship with music, and how it connects to the stories that I write, I have assembled this guide to The Iron Codex’s playlist. Not all chapters or scenes have specific tracks associated with them, but those that do, I’ve done my best to annotate accordingly.

As a quick review of the playlist will reveal, the biggest musical influences this time around were spy-movie soundtracks. Specifically, Kingsman: The Secret Service, by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson; Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace by David Arnold; and Skyfall by Thomas Newman.

Also, a fun bit — at the end are two “bonus tracks.” Neither informed any particular scene, but they were instrumental to me in defining the “headspace” for two characters in particular: Cade, whose heartbroken, soul-shaken state is evoked by John Fullbright’s earnest “Until You Were Gone,” and Briet, whose need to earn some kind of redemption is expressed by Brandi Carlile’s hit “That Wasn’t Me.”

Nota Bene: Not all of the listed tracks are available for playback on Spotify, due to ever-changing licensing permissions, etc. Those of you who collect movie soundtracks might own one or more of these discs already. If you can compile your own local playlist based on this, all the better. (more…)

The Midnight Front Spotify Playlist

I’ve written and spoken many times about how important music is to my creative process as a writer. For decades I have used motion-picture scores to inspire my work.

To give readers a glimpse into that corner of my brain, I’ve decided to share the Spotify playlist of music that inspired my latest novel, The Midnight Front.

But just linking to the music isn’t enough. In order to help you connect individual pieces of music to specific moments in the story and passages in the text, here is my Guide to The Midnight Front’s Spotify Playlist, broken down by chapter and scene.

Chapter 1

The Murder of Nando
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Chapter 2

Siegmar Communes with Kein
“Frozen Wasteland”
Captain America: The First Avenger (Alan Silvestri)

Chapter 3

The Sinking of the Athenia
“Time’s Up”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)

Battling Leviathan
“Invasion of Asgard”
Thor: The Dark World (Brian Tyler)

Chapter 7

Cade’s First Conjuration
“Paul Takes the Water of Life”
Dune (Toto)

Chapter 8

Cade Studies Magickal Combat
“Training the Supersoldier”
Captain America: The First Avenger (Alan Silvestri)

Chapter 9

Niko and Stefan Leave Eilean Donan
“Hope (Xavier’s Theme)”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)

Chapter 10

Stefan and the Gestapo on the Train
“Saigon – Logan Arrives”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)

Niko Comes Home to Paris
“He Lost Everything”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)

Cade’s First Battle
“Arcade” [track not available on Spotify]
Man of Steel: Deluxe Edition (Hans Zimmer)

Chapter 12

Niko and the Maquis Are Ambushed
“Storm Is Coming”
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Stefan Questions the Dabblers
“The Attack Begins”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)

Chapter 14

Cade Infiltrates the Demonic Brothel
“Rules of Time”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)

Chapter 15

Massacre at Babi Yar
“The Rig”
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Chapter 17

Cade Meets Kein
“Hat Rescue”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)

Chapter 19

Stefan Witnesses Chelmno nad Nerem
“Immortan’s Citadel”
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Chapter 21

Stefan at Auschwitz
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Chapter 24

Niko Attacks the Drancy Train
“Hydra Train”
Captain America: The First Avenger (Alan Silvestri)

Chapter 25

Stefan Halts the Drancy Train
“Fighting Back”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)

Kein Attacks Eilean Donan
“Seoul Searching”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)

Chapter 26

Kein Interrogates Cade
“Keys to the Past”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)

Adair and Anja Rescue Cade
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)

Stefan’s Sacrifice, Anja’s Grief
“Many Mothers”
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Chapter 30

Cade in the Paris Catacombs
“Brothers in Arms”
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Chapter 32

The Night Flight of Silver Sadie
“Terraforming” (the first 3 minutes)
Man of Steel (Hans Zimmer)

Cade’s Revenge
“Rain Fire Upon Them” and “Motorcycle Mayhem”
Captain America: The First Avenger (Alan Silvestri)

Chapter 39

Anja Loses a Sister
“Claw Trucks”
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Chapter 41

Niko’s Last Run
“Darkest of Intentions”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)

Chapter 44

Cade’s Ranger Training
“Howling Commando’s Montage”
Captain America: The First Avenger (Alan Silvestri)

Chapter 45

Anja’s Bitter Homecoming / Piotr’s Grave
“The Last One”
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)

Chapter 49

Adair Watches the Armada Deploy
“Enterprising Young Men”
Star Trek (Michael Giacchino)

Chapter 50

Cade and the Rangers on D-Day
“Storming New Caprica” [album not available on Spotify]
Battlestar Galactica: Season Three (Bear McCreary)

Cade Defuses the Demon Bomb
“Paul Kills Feyd”
Dune (Toto)

Chapter 51

Cade’s Journey Above and Below
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)

Chapter 58

The Karcists’ Battle in Dresden
“Chapter Doof”
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Cade Closes the Hellmouth
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Brian Tyler)

Chapter 59

Cade’s Return
“Join Me”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)

Adair’s Last Words / The Funeral Pyre
“My Name Is Max”
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

Chapter 60

Cade’s Warning to Briet
“Do What You Were Made For”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (John Ottman)

Bonus Track:

Music for the Future TV Series Trailer
“What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?”
Man of Steel (Hans Zimmer)

I engage with “Digressive Obscenity”

A few weeks ago, I traveled to a gritty corner of deepest, darkest Long Island City here in Queens, NY, to sit with actor, writer, and incredibly tall guy Paul Guyet for an in-depth podcast interview unlike most others in which I’ve taken part over the years.

Though Paul steered the later segment of the podcast toward a discussion of my work as a writer for Star Trek and other properties, the first part of our conversation was much more open-ended, exploring topics about which I am rarely asked in interviews.

Here is Paul’s capsule description of the show:

“I sit down with the author of The Calling, Wolverine: Road of Bones, and the New York Times bestselling trilogy Star Trek: Cold Equations.

“We also discuss his ‘benign mental break’ which manifested in an obsession with rabbits, the intricacies of David Fincher’s ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’ music video, and how he would end things in the Star Trek universe.”

The result is a refreshingly different, offbeat, and candid interview that I think both my friends and my fans will find informative and entertaining.

So, if you’ve got a decent chunk of downtime to fill, point your browser at Paul’s Tumblr and either download or stream Digressive Obscenity, Episode 11: David Alan Mack.


John Fullbright rocked Joe’s Pub

As I posted back on April 7, I recently secured permission to quote a line of lyrics from John Fullbright‘s song Daydreamer as the epigraph for my upcoming novel A Ceremony of Losses. Since then, I had been looking forward to seeing and hearing John perform live. I’m happy to say I finally had that opportunity.

He delivered an awesome performance last night at Joe’s Pub in NYC. Not only is he a masterful songwriter, he’s a great performer and a wonderful musical storyteller. If you have a chance to see John play live, do so! If you miss his show, you should kick yourself. His live performance is even more exciting than his recorded work, full of improvisation and flourishes that add to the texture of his music.

This man is the real deal. He and his music defy easy categorization; he transcends labels, genres, and simple descriptions. His work is powerful, pure, and true. He writes songs that reach both the mind and the heart.

My wife and I were lucky enough to spend a few minutes after his show last night hanging out with him backstage. He’s a true gentleman and a tremendously nice guy, and someone I look forward to meeting again.

New Music in the House!

It was a fun and bountiful Christmas here at Chez Mack-Bain. Many wonderful gifts were exchanged — some expected, some genuinely surprising and delightful — and much good food and wine was enjoyed. I was excited to receive on Blu-ray a copy of one of my all-time favorite movies, Chinatown. But I was amazed when I saw how much music I had received this year, and how eclectic a selection it is.

The first two albums I received were BBC Sessions by Led Zeppelin and ABC 1974 by Rush. These are both obscure live recordings of two of my favorite rock bands, albums I’ve been keen to hear ever since I became aware of their existence.

Next I unwrapped the three-disc set of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s The Complete Savoy & Dial Master Takes. This is my jazz fix for the season, a collection of seminal recordings by one of the 20th-century masters whose work expanded and came to define the musical vocabulary of jazz itself.

My next musical gift was the digitally remastered, 20th anniversary edition of Paul’s Boutique by The Beastie Boys. I’d recently rediscovered my interest in this band, and my lovely wife indulged this curiosity by gifting me this milestone work of late-80s hip-hop.

Then I tore the paper from John Fullbright’s debut album, From the Ground Up. I’d already purchased via iTunes one song off the album, the beautiful and haunting “Nowhere to Be Found,” and I guess my adoration of that track led my wife to give me a chance to explore the entirety of this masterful work by a thoughtful and talented new country music artist from Oklahoma.

Rounding out the new additions to my music library are three movie soundtracks that I’m sure will be played often as I set to work next week on my next Star Trek novel: the deluxe version of Howard Shore’s score for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; Hans Zimmer’s music for The Dark Knight Rises; and the newly expanded edition of James Horner’s famous score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

And yet I wonder why has a hard time making accurate music suggestions for me….


The Song Remains the Same has changed

A few days ago, at a friend’s house, I heard a Led Zeppelin live recording of “Over the Hills and Far Away” that I’d never heard before.

Long story short, I discovered that a remastered and expanded version of their landmark live album, The Song Remains the Same, was released in 2007. It contains six previously unreleased tracks and boasts an awesome new mix.

And it came out FIVE YEARS AGO. Dammit, why does no one tell me these things?

Fortunately, my copy of the 2-CD set just arrived, and it’s every bit as awesome as I’d hoped it would be. Excuse me for a while — I have to annoy my neighbors by blasting live Led Zeppelin at maximum volume for a couple of hours….

A Love/Hate Relationship

I love intellectual property law, and I hate it.

As a writer, I depend upon the protections of IP law to help me retain control over the works I create, so that I can earn a meager living from my labors. Although enforcing my rights on the wild electronic frontier of the Internet is exceedingly difficult, copyright law and the DMCA at least give me some recourse when I find my work is being propagated illegally.

Consequently, I understand why other kinds of IP creators — including musicians, filmmakers, and graphical artists — need to enforce their own rights. Things seem to have gotten a bit out of hand, with record companies and organizations such as the RIAA suing private individuals for outrageous sums as “punitive damages”, a tactic that I think undermines public support for IP creators’ rights, but that’s a topic for another time and post. Let it suffice to say that, in principle, I support the enforcement of IP laws.

But when I’m on the other side of the equation, I really hate our current IP laws.

As some of you reading this are no doubt aware, at the end of next month, Storming Heaven, the final volume in the eight-book Star Trek Vanguard saga, will be published. I’ve been planning some special pre- and post-publication promotions for the series’ finale, including some giveaways, some looks behind the scenes into the development of the saga, and maybe an audio interview with the series’ creators and writers.

However, there was one audio podcast I really wanted to share with the series’ readers: a piece detailing the music that inspired the series’ story arcs, characters, relationships, and key scenes. This would have been a really fun podcast, in my opinion, one that would shed light on my creative process and the musical subtext that informed my work on the series over the last seven years.

There is just one problem with that idea: It’s illegal for me to include within the podcast the musical tracks in question. I can mention them by name, describe them, and talk all I want about how they relate to the Vanguard novels, etc., but I can’t quote lyrics or play the music. Which, to be blunt, defeats the purpose of the podcast.

How can I ask a listener to compare and contrast two pieces that show the different sides of a relationship, when I can’t present the music? Without the music, how can I narrate the way in which a particular track provided the beat-for-beat inspiration for one of the saga’s most memorable action sequences? Or explain how one 15-minute track inspired the entire third act and major story developments of the third novel?

The simple answer is, I can’t. And that frustrates and saddens me.

While I respect the need for IP law, and I grasp why the music industry needs to control its products, it disappoints me greatly that, as a consequence of our overly litigious society, it has made creative discussions such as this one impossible to have unless one happens to be rich enough to license all the music in question.

I think it would be interesting to open up a discussion of the influences that various art forms have upon one another, but how can such a conversation be had when the works in question can’t be shared but only obliquely referenced? For instance, if a modern painting sparked a story idea that I executed, and I wanted to discuss that part of the creative process, it would technically be illegal for me to reproduce an image of the copyrighted artwork within the body of my discussion, unless I had prior permission from the artist (or current rights-holder).

I know, I know . . . these are “First-World problems.” But they vex me all the same.