Copyright-free music review intro
In the past week Anthony McTiffen at AKM Music has kindly sent me their latest two albums for review. Whilst both are worthy additions to any video producer’s library of copyright-free music, they are both quite different in style and appeal. The first, ‘AK166 Electric Guitar Pop’, is pretty much what it says on the tin – driving American soft-rock which lends itself to corporate films which need a music underscore to push them along. The second, ‘AK167 Weird & Wonderful Vol 2’, is an eclectic mix of tracks which are calling out for all manner of images to be cut to them.
To put it another way, AK166 is a follower and AK167 is a leader.
This is not going to be a detailed review of each track on this album as they are all very similar. They are of course different, and their subtle variations are enough to warrant their place on the album, but they all follow a very similar theme and style. If I had to put a sound-alike label on the music it would range from Bruce Springsteen, to Asia, to soft-Stones to High-School Reunion – and pretty much every one of them could work as a theme tune on an American sitcom.
I can’t say that I’ll be copying this album to my phone and listening to it in the car, but it’s certainly got its uses. I particularly like the fact that all 10 tracks come in full-length, loop and short versions – which is especially helpful on music which I believe will mainly be used under the images to give them a lift. Combining all versions you can pretty much extend the music to any length which is always helpful.
This is what I’d call an inspirational album. The music ranges from harmonic voice-effect tracks to classical piano pieces – mixed up with Latin, Jazz, Funk, Surfin Dog and others (Surfin Dog will be explained). There is a pattern or style which links all the tracks but often on a “weird and wonderful” level. You’d certainly not expect to find tracks ‘10 Bachman’ and ‘23 Junkbot’ on the same shelf as each other let alone the same album – but somehow it all works.
AKM Music describe this album as, “A real mix of moods, quirky, curious, light, bright and playful Pizzicato strings, classical string quartets groovy surf guitar, elements of madness and good humour. Fresh and fun. For something different add a little weird and wonderful.”
I’ll definitely be using one or more of these tracks at some time in the near future, but I also think it might help with the auditioning process by giving me a wide selection of musical styles to explore and trial on an edit. I find that a complete shift away in musical style from my initial ideas often brings out a completely different and more meaningful edit so this album should really help and inspire – and if there’s nothing on it that matches perfectly it will at least give me clues as to where I should be looking.
I hope that I do get to use some of the tracks on this album as there’s not only some very listenable music on it but also quite a few tracks which are crying out to be visualised. Here’s a few of my favourites…
2 – Klak KloK [1:00]
This conjures visions of a ‘Mission Impossible’ with its piano driven and high-hat tapping rhythm. It’s jazzy and it’s, “in pursuit of suspect on foot” ducking in and out of doorways, through crowds, down stairs…. It’s tension – in a ‘Man from Uncle’ kind of way.
4 – Meadow [0:59]
I imagined seeing this on a trailer for a new and youthful day-time TV magazine programme for the under 80s presented by the Chuckle Brothers. You know it’s going to be light and possibly funny. In truth it’s hard to imagine where this will end up being used but its got character and its plucky strings, strumming bass and piano signatures leave you feeling very positive.
5 – Der [2:19]
Expect to hear the word “Der” a lot on this one as it’s a harmonised voice-effect track with calypso bongo breaks. You also get the occasional “Wooo” too but the lyrics are still easy to remember. It builds in complexity towards the end – right down to the last, extended and harmonised “der”. I like this kind of track because it’s hard to imagine where you might use it, but if you ever do it’s so perfect you’d think it was written specially.
8 – Spring Onions [2:41]
If I ever had to do a spoof Blues Brothers film this track would help me pull it off. It could match perfectly to lines such as, “There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.” Again I don’t know if I’ll ever actually get to use it but I hope I do.
12 – LED [1:20]
A medium-paced rhythmic electronic score which I could imagine being used on a car commercial. Not just any car though, the Coolthrash 8000 with super-booster charged engine and hand-crafted mermaid skin trim, walnut dash and more computing power than Belgium. Luxury, style, dosh!
14 – Rainbow Drops [1:17]
I’m a massive Elbow fan and it would be an amazing compliment if I ever compared a piece of copyright-free music to theirs. However, with the wizard that he is, I bet if Elbow’s lead singer and lyricist, Guy Garvey, was let loose on penning words to this it would hold up pretty well. The pictures would therefore need to be something equally deep and meaningful – but that’s really handy if you need to create any motivational content. The ending is a bit of a non-event though.
15 – Latino Disco [3:20]
Purely selfish I know, but as I produce quite a bit of ballroom dance related content this track is going to be really handy. At over 3-mins long the track develops through different stages – some less complex and reflective, others more full on, but all following a disco-fied Cha Cha rhythm (I know because I’ve tried doing a Cha Cha to it).
18 – Surfin Dog [1:25]
This is on my favourites list just because it is so well titled. I can actually imagine a dog surfing to it – so much so that I’m seriously thinking of getting a dog and training it to surf just so I can use this track. It’s also another score I could use in my Blues Brother spoof.
19 – Terraformer [4:16]
A great track for producing a documentary or serious package on a hi-tech company/product. Slow in pace, with whirly orchestral whooshes and whale-like sound FX – driven on by piano and drums interspersed with less complex passages. Would suit anything pharmaceuticals, time-lapse construction, architectural and futuristic subject.
20 – Thinking of You [3:52]
Picture the scene… a sparsely populated Las Vegas hotel bar in the early hours. It’s jazz time and I think I could write the words to this one! Piano, drums and bass – and Steve Martin singing… “I think I love your smile, the diamond twinkle in your eyes, your blush that colours all my dreams – and then. I always want it to be, you and me in eternity, but more than that I want to know – if so. That when I’m thinking of you, for perhaps a moment or two, that you’re also thinking of me – and then….” (© Kevin Cook). Listen to it, sing my words, it works (if only in my head).
22 – Edge of Beyond [5:44]
We’re at the end of a Quentin Tarantino film where the hero is looking at the death and destruction surrounding him and thinking, “WTF was that all about?”. They walk off into the sunset and the end credits start (and the music plays on through them). Very spaghetti, very steel guitar – very hard to find the right bit of film to use it on but perfect when you do.
24 – Shotgun Runway [2:04]
I can’t get a fashion show catwalk out of my mind on this one, after which we all popped of to the nearest rave. It’s not fast paced by any means, but it’s got an incredibly strong beat to it and lends itself to hard cutting, artistic picture grading and perfect for music-driven caption/graphic animations.
Whilst the above are my favourites I think all 25-tracks are worthy of space on this album – and when any of these are used on a project the music is going to play a major role in telling the story. When I’d finished listening to it I had to go the AKM Music website to preview Vol 1 (AK090 – The Weird and Wonderful) as I’d not heard it before. It was good, but I think Vol 2 is way better on would certainly sit somewhere in my top-5 list of AKM Music albums. Buy it – if only to try out my lyrics for track 20!
Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon)
Note: Get 20% off either the CD or CD DOWNLOAD with this promo code ‘HDSLR1’. Click the links in the album titles above to audition.