(This review begins exactly like the one for “Kendra’s Monkey – Vol. 1“, just for the sake of completion. Song comments are written a few paragraphs lower)
I got to know about guitarist Rich Fortuna back in 2006 or 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. 2”:
It begins with “Trejo”‘s touch of mystery, suspense, Bluesy licks… all at an easy tempo. The composition is simple and linear, but with a nice rhythmic rocking in the back. The volume increases a bit halfway, then falls back. After a few piano touches, the theme from before returns. I quite liked it, to be honest. “Gwen’s Theme” begins with a clean guitar lick and a tambourine (the zills at least) indicating the tempo. An occasional hi-hat accents offers assistance. This piece sounds calm and relaxed. It’s nice to have as background music. This is one of the tracks that could be longer or worked into a proper song.
A title like “Avenging Angel” would fit well on a Thrash or Death Metal album, but Rich’s musical take on it is atmospheric, between Blues and Jazz. The bass and drum (cross-stick) offers the rhythmic base, while esoteric sounds in the back make the (looped) sonic picture complete. However, do turn up the volume to hear it all. “Stripper Dust” is a Blues track and slow at that. It’s just drums, bass and of course the guitar. Joe Cocker’s voice, for example, would fit here, no doubt. 😉 “Chesapeake” is an atmospheric piano piece with symphonic input far in the back. The clean guitar sounds like it’s rising to a climax (which it doesn’t).
For “Pale Horse”, Rich got help from fellow musicians:
– guitar solos: Carmen Caramanica, Mike Bell, Peter Franchell
– bass: Brian Premo
– drums: Cleghorn
The song itself also reminded me of GENESIS. See the review of “Vol. 1” for more such references. Rich gave it a more Bluesy touch. However, like the other tracks, it’s simple and linear. The music is calm and atmospheric, but the Southern Rock influence does come through at some point (slide guitar). “A New Case” consists of zooming sounds. It sounds mysterious, spacey you might say.
“Instruments Of Cleansing” starts with a simple drumbeat, yet without a snare, and distorted guitar bursts. Clean licks rise above, while atmospheric backing makes things more whole. And yes, this is also a looped piece. And last there’s “Deprofundis”, consisting of keyboards similar to those on NIGHTWISH’s “Wishmaster” album. Bombastic, somehow. And spooky.
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. 2” 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.
- Gwen’s Theme
- Avenging Angel
- Stripper Dust
- Pale Horse
- A New Case
- Instruments Of Cleansing
Rich Fortuna – all instruments