|The MAC Report
December 18, 1992 ISSUE 312 - VOLUME 7
JAN HAMMER "BEYOND THE MIND'S EYE" MIRAMAR MPCD 2902
There are those who will argue (very oftentimes myself included) that
television is one of the most negative influences our generation has had
access to. On a positive note, television has, in certain incidents, had
the ability to change people's perceptions about a subject matter. Case
in point—instrumental music. With the advent of the Miami Vice series,
instrumental music no longer played the role of light, airy, nondescript
backdrop; but now had a starring role. The person who created this scenario
was Jan Hammer. Now, after a five year lapse in U.S. released solo recordings,
several Grammy awards, Emmy nominations, and performances on 10 albums
that have been certified gold or platinum, this master keyboardist/composer
is back...and as bold and progressive as ever. The music on BEYOND The
Mind's Eye was originally composed and performed for the Miramar computer
animation video of the same name (a video that has already gone platinum),
and with some remixes, extended arrangements, and sequencing changes, we
are now able to listen to and appreciate this phenomenal body of work as
an aural entity of its own. The powerful, highly-charged, rhythmic ''Seeds''
opens the recording, and you will find this memorable melody hard to get
out of your head. "Magic Theater" does indeed conjure up images of the
unknown, but it is an enigma that you will want to explore. One can't help
but be moved by the beauty and elegance of a sunset, and the same can be
said for the "Sunset" Hammer offers here. With "Nothing But Love" Hammer
lets us sec a less well known side of his music— one that is soft and tender
and movingly romantic. With "Pyramid," Hammer does what he has become such
an expert at—creating exotic, faraway landscapes that we can experience
without ever leaving the room. "Brave New World" draws on potent emotions
to sweep us off our feet, holding us as willing captives. ''Afternoon Adventure''
provides a heart-racing ride with the destination set only by the capabilities
and extent of your own imagination. If Jan Hammer's BEYOND The Mind's
Eye is any portent of what can be expected musically in 1993, then
we are all in for a happy new year indeed.
Beyond The Mind's Eye
PRODUCER: Jan Hammer
Fusion pioneer and “Miami Vice” theme author unearths one of his most ambitious projects to date: the soundtrack for a computer-animated, virtual-reality video extravaganza that's being released simultaneously with the album. Hammer's instrumental compositions stand on their own melodic feet, though they do benefit from the "home theater" experience. Lone vocal entry, featuring Chris Thompson, has pop and AC potential, and entire disc is a must for new-age outlets.
SOUNDTRACK IS DAZZLING
By Chris Hicks
JAN HAMMER: “BEYOND THE MINDS EYE”
Like the self-described
" video album" it supports, the like-titled "Beyond the Mind's Eye" sound-
track is highly entertaining. It's no exaggeration to describe this wild
mix of musical styles as aurally dazzling.
BEYOND The Mind's Eye
I saw Jan Hammer once. The year was 1973, the place was Albee Hall in Oshkosh, WI. The event was a concert by the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Hammer played keyboards for this seminal jazz/rock fusion group that also mixed in East/West influences. At the time, they were the cutting edge in music. That night the quintet generated incredible synergy, built musical structures up, filling them with tuneful solos and tearing them down in racing climaxes.
It's been almost twenty years since Your Friendly Editor (Has it really been that long? Ed.) saw that show. Even then I liked Jan Hammer's sound. Today I like it even more. Hammer never seems to have suffered from writer's block - he's been busy the whole time, with his own band, with collaborations, and with solo work in his own Red Gate studio.
For the last ten years a big part of his work has been scoring for TV, film and commercials. His work for Miami Vice led to big-time commercial success. "Miami Vice Theme" became the first TV series theme to reach No. I since the "Peter Gunn Theme" by Henry Mancini in 1959. Hammer eventually scored 92 episodes of Miami Vice, each requiring him to compose and record twenty minutes of music a week. It was as close as Hammer got to burning out.
BEYOND The Mind's Eye is a 45 minute video of computer animation. It's fourteen vignettes are full of surrealism with a sci/fi slant. The animation is fluid, three dimensional, and looks as if it were airbrushed. Vistas pull back into wider vistas, patterns unfold, and the imaginary view moves about rooms. Alien seeds bring life to barren worlds; robots work, fight, transform and have much "too far" juice; a Viking ship sails the solar system. Director Michael Boydstun has done a good job to edit diverse clips together coherently, including some that was used in the film The Lawnmower Man.
Jan Hammer: "I’ve been building bridges between sight and sound for many years. In fact, I’ve always considered music to be my ultimate reality. I can submerge myself to the degree where everything ceases to exist."
"Ultimately, it comes down to the experience of playing and improvising in the studio. I try not to think about anything too much and just let it happen, that's always the best approach."
Hammer scored the music frame by frame and the result works to draw the viewer into the movie. Comparisons to Disney's Fantasia aren't out of line, BEYOND is almost a 90's Fantasia.
For the CD, the music has been re-mixed and sequenced different, with the idea of enhancing the listener's experience. All of the pieces are around three minutes long; concise and going about their business. Hammer hasn't ever had to water down his music, so if this music sounds a lot like the Miami Vice stuff, it also has solid echoes of his collaborations with Jeff Beck, not to mention earlier solo work.
The second day I had the CD I played
it twice, then had to put it away so I wouldn't play it again. I strongly
recommend BEYOND The Mind's Eye. Both the video and the CD are available
from Miramar. DP