Sunday, October 16, 2016

Glamdring (2016)

For those who know the name, Glamdring may dredge up memories of Peter Jackson's froth-of-a-beer adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Others may be taken back to nights spent reading the story that really comes in pints. If you're like the Oliver brothers and myself, this name may remind you of a certain animated film adaptation in 1977. Rankin/Bass's The Hobbit charmed its way into many heads and hearts, and this is due in no small part to the music and voice talents.

After following the musical explorations of Brother Oliver for the past few years, I was surprised (and ecstatic) when Andrew Oliver released an unannounced project: a "mixtape" sampling music and dialogue from the film, with their own live and electronic instrumentals. This occurred back in May this year, and I'm curious as to why there hasn't been much response to this project. I have had months to think about this album, and I still enjoy every listen.

Glamdring celebrates several of the nostalgic moments, and replicates so many good moods the original music creates, but most of that is where it outweighs Andrew's music. More than once, I can't help but hear too much of Brother Oliver in the instrumental choices. I want to hear less of them "talking" about the film, and hear more of where it led them, what they saw and heard. However, this only seems to occur with a few tracks. To give a few positive examples, Cave Runner opens with an immersive mood straight from the source. Hammers Fell Like Ringing Bells began with direct dialogue and music from the film (a smart, nostalgic choice), and doesn't lose the mood with transition to their own instruments.

There is no lack of nostalgia in Glamdring. They hit nearly all the stronger, memorable moments (including the eerie riddle chanting, goblin king's lamentations, dwarven feasting, and Smaug's interrogation). Andrew Oliver accomplished his goals with this project, as I seem to understand them. He expressed his love for the original recording of the film's soundtrack, and celebrated it in his own way. He also introduced a taste of this film to anyone who hasn't experienced it yet. It's a nod at an animated adaptation that went so far as to shape Peter Jackson's visual presentation at times. But in the end, Glamdring is a wonderful fan's project, offered free for your listening pleasure.

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