Often times, musicians say that they are inspired by something they see or some event that shapes them. It’s not often, however, that a musician says that their main source of inspiration is a book. Such is the case with Xander Harris’ ‘Urban Gothic’, which is meant to be a companion piece to the Brian Keene book of the same name, played in the background while you read the book. So does it work? Does Xander Harris’ ‘Urban Gothic’ work or does it hinder the reading experience? Check out after the jump.
Having not read Brian Keene’s book, it is difficult to say if I think that the two meld. I did, however, listen to some of the book off of the Brian Keene website
and based on what I heard, ‘Urban Gothic’ hits the right notes and themes. The music of Xander Harris has a certain 70’s horror charm about it, in many ways reminiscent of Prince Of Darkness, Twin Peaks, Blade Runner and even a touch of Suspiria, while using near hip hop style beats to add to the atmosphere of the book’s environment.
Production wise, the album is in a strange position where the samples and patches used are very generic, almost to the point of sounding ‘cheap’. However, in many ways this only adds to the atmosphere of the music, heightening that 70’s charm that I mentioned above. There are a few times when I would have adjusted the volume mix of certain instruments as well as cut back on the usage of certain samples (mainly the hi-hat).
The music is often very repetitive with several tracks starting with a few lines overlapping and then more and more tracks being added on. As music to actively listen to, this would be crippling. Since this is meant to be background music while reading a book, it serves a great purpose in lulling the reader, almost hypnotically, into a state where reading is made almost effortless.
The Final Word: ‘Urban Gothic’ is not meant to be something one listens to on it’s own. It can be done, but at the end of the album, you’ll find yourself with a very blasé feeling about the experience. But when coupled with reading a horror novel, the album adds a certain charming depth to the experience.