I got to know about guitarist Rich Fortuna back in 2007, I think, when he sent me a copy of his debut solo album “Heathen Machines”, for which I wrote a review. See this location. It was a nice encounter with his style, a mix of Hard Rock and Metal and all instrumental. Still, there were a few things that could benefit from tweaking. The follow-up, “Burnt Shadows”, came out in 2009. For this double CD I also wrote a few words, which you can read here. After that, it became silent, though Rich is also occupied with teaching music. However, what I didn’t know, until earlier this year (2012) was that he was also involved in films, in writing and recording the scores for various films of Mad Angel Films and this since 2009. His own albums, or at least selected tracks, were chosen for the documentary “Before, During And After Woodstock 99”, released in 2009.
But regarding his work for Mad Angel Films, the following films contain his music: “Starcross’D” (2009), “Seize The Day” (2009), “DeProfundis” (2010), “Three Days In The Woods” (2010) and “Get Outta Dodge” (2010). I have to admit that none of these ring a bell to me. For one, I’m not such a film fan. I like films from time to time, but it’s not that I frequently go see them or rent them. Plus, it also depends what kind of film it is (action, horror, comedy, …). Anyway, the scores were assembled and put on two releases: “Kendra’s Monkey – Vol. 1” (25th October 2010) and “Kendra’s Monkey – Vol. 2” (23rd September 2011). The first disc contains 12 tracks, the other one 9. Films featured respectively are (on disc 1) “Starcross’D”, “Seize The Day”, “DeProfundis” and “Three Days In The Woods” and (on disc 2) “Get Outta Dodge”, “Starcross’D”, “Seize The Day”, “Three Days In The Woods” and “DeProfundis”.
Who Kendra is and what’s so special about her monkey, is a huge riddle to me. Perhaps it’s got something to do with one of those films. Fact is that 1) the music is not like Rich Fortuna’s own albums, thus not as Rock/Metal and 2) due to the shortness all tracks actually fit on one CD, but I think Rich will have his reasons for splitting the tracks. I don’t know if I should talk in detail about the tracks or not, but here goes… “Kendra’s Monkey – Vol. 1”:
“Stalking Bear Claw” is a looped, simple and straight-forward Bluesy tune with a “rocking” guitar low in the mix in the back. Like I said, the tracks are mostly very short, so it may come as no surprise that an ending occurs quite abruptly, like here. “Aiden’s Theme” is dark, clean and linear. Again the looped option was applied. In guitar tone I found it similar, by way of comparison, to GENESIS’s “I Can’t Dance”. The drumming (computer?) sounds too thin, but perhaps in the context of the film it’s supposed to be like that? I do like “Blackfist”. This is also a dark sounding, Bluesy guitar-oriented track. For rhythm and tempo a rasp (or however you call this instrument) was used next to cymba accents, which is quite original.
“Ball And Chain” is another dark track (seems like Rich didn’t write for sunny imagery ;-)), which is because of his composition. It also adds a touch of suspense, in a Bluesy tone and clean leads. However, it sounds like Rich barely touches the strings, afraid to break them. 😉 “Peterman In 4” is a longer track, feels stretched (meaning it could have been shorter, as in less is more). It’s also atmospheric and has that touch of suspense, of mystery. Clean licks go well with the wavey keyboards. Things get more musical around halfway, but then the keyboards take over again, though in a soft way, not too loud. “Bling King” is a simple, dark and clean “rocker”, flowing onwards in a Bluesy manner, as usual. Again that GENESIS song comes to mind. You get nice melodic licks in between, while the beat (drumming) remains constant.
“32 Willbrook Rd” has 80’s keyboards, almost in a dancey style. It’s got beats too, but as accents. The heyboards – well, synths – dominate, but sound very zoomy. The melody is catchy, though, and Rich added clean guitar licks, though they don’t sound that loud. “Mr. 5’s” begins with keyboards and then darkness sets in through atmosphere and looped guitar plucking. “The Devil Lurks” adds a bit more symphonic bombast to the whole. It’s not like most symphonic releases (be them regular, Rock or Metal) where the bombast is more present, clearer to detect, more prominent. Still, the difference is noticeable in a musical way. But the music remains of the dark, evil kind. And yes, it’s a bit mysterious, just look at the title. The symphonic input and overall atmosphere in combination with the acoustic guitar makes it quite spooky.
“Scorpion And The Tit”. A not so common title, wouldn’t you say? The track contains drum samples with a simple beat, almost like Rap/Hip-Hop (yeah, there’s a distinction between them, but I’m no expert) from the 90’s. As the track advances, the music becomes spacey with wavey, shakey atmospheric sounds. Before halfway Rich’s guitar licks come in. “The Missing Reel” is like a Poppy track in vein of THE CURE. Nothing super, though, to be honest. Last but not least, there’s “The 3rd Day”, which is a clean-guitar-based Pop/Rock track, but with a Bluesy/Jazzy touch. Not bad, in se.
Rich Fortuna basically is a Rock / Metal guitarist, or that’s at least what his solo records sound like. And they are good, very enjoyable. It’s good to see how his talent gets applied for film scores, even if the music is not like “Heathen Machines” or “Burnt Shadows”. I personally find it strange to consider “Kendra’s Monkey – Vol. 1” a proper album, it’s more a collection/compilation of tracks used for various films. On the other hand, several of these tracks could (have) be(en) used for proper songs. They’re also composed differently than for a normal album, which you have to take into account. Maybe when I would see the films themselves, then perhaps I can better appreciate the music.
- Stalking Bear Claw
- Aiden’s Theme
- Ball And Chain
- Peterman In 4
- Bling King
- 32 Willbrook Rd
- Mr. 5’s
- The Devil Lurks
- Scorpion And The Tit
- The Missing Reel
- The 3rd Day
Rich Fortuna – all instruments