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Chroma Key: Graveyard Mountain Home

If you listen to Graveyard Mountain Home as a stand-alone piece of music, without viewing the built-in CD-ROM or accompanying DVD Special Edition version of Chroma Key's third album, you probably won't be overly impressed. If, however, you hear this sophisticated mix of dark, ambient post-rock and psychedelic sounds while viewing the 1955 public-domain film Age 13, you may consider multi-instrumentalist Kevin Moore a small-time genius.

It's hard to believe that this man once played keyboards for Dream Theater, appearing on When Day and Dream Unite (1989), Images and Words (1992) and Awake (1994). Almost as esoteric as his solo album, 2004's Ghost Book (a soundtrack written for the Turkish "horror comedy" film Okul), and far removed from where Moore was going on the last Chroma Key album (2000's Alan Parsons-ish You Go Now), Graveyard Mountain Home is based on Age 13, a film Moore found in the Prelinger Archive that tells the tale of a boy struggling with life in the wake of his mother's death. Moore reduced the film to half the speed and recorded an alternate audio track over the film's original soundtrack although creepy snippets of muffled dialogue can still be heard in the background of these electronic-based sounds. There is no direct connection between the songs and the action in the film, but Moore expresses the mood of each scene brilliantly.

He opens Graveyard Mountain Home with a rather upbeat piece that combines xylophone with drum rhythms before segueing into more subtle arrangements of loops, mournful pianos, discomforting laughter, spooky spoken words, Moore's own weary vocals and the sounds of rain and thunder. The album concludes with "Again Today," the most traditional song Moore has recorded under either his own name or the Chroma Key moniker since 2000.

Originally created as a "social guidance" film for schools and police departments and based on an actual case history, Age 13 is not necessarily an enjoyable film to watch, especially with its fuzzy degradation and choppy editing. But viewing it with the Chroma Key soundtrack makes an odd experience even odder yet wholly compelling, with a mysterious filmstrip allure that freezes a bygone era. Moore should take this concept and run with it, creating a whole series of albums based on obscure films. He might just alter the face of the genre.


Track Listing:
1) YYY
2) Give Up
3) White Robe
4) Mother's Radio
5) Graveyard Mountain Home
6) Salvation
7) Before You Started
8) Human Love
9) Come In, Over
10) Pure Laughter
11) Andrew Was Drowning His Stepfather
12) Sad Sad Movie
13) True and Lost
14) Again Today
Total Time: 53:25

Added: January 7th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Official Chroma Key Web Site
Hits: 3920
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Chroma Key: Graveyard Mountain Home
Posted by Greg Cummins, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-01-25 06:56:37
My Score:

Despite my compadres comments above, I'm afraid I found far too much noodling and totally uninspiring writing for this to be passed off as even reasonable music. Sure there are small elements that have a vague level of interest but if you suffer from a lack of time as I do, then limiting the number of times you play this to only one or two should help you resurrect some of those lost minutes. Just think of what else you could do with all of that time.

Chroma Key: Graveyard Mountain Home
Posted by Steve Pettengill, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-01-07 13:34:38
My Score:

If you try watching some of the so called educational films of the 50s and 60s today, you will see that usually they are unintentionally funny and outdated social commentaries. But Kevin Moore takes one such obscure educational film and makes it seem as profound as anything by Kenneth Anger simply by slowing the film down to half speed and composing a CDs worth of material to accompany the film. The film in question, "Age 13", concerns the grief, confusion and alienation a boy experiences after his mother's death. Bits of dialogue from the movie do crop up on occasion, but generally what we hear is ambient post rock music and soft moody electro/acoustic textures that occasionally remind me of Kid A era Radiohead, Brian Eno, and even the quieter bits of Roger Waters' Amused to Death.

Kevin Moore, once again working under the Chroma Key moniker, shows us just how far he has come since his days with Dream Theater. Graveyard Mountain Home resembles very little of his past endeavors, save for the music he composed for Ghost Book, a respectable if rather patchy soundtrack album. Admittedly, the songs are more listenable this time out, as opposed to the fragmented vignettes of Ghost Book. But this particular genre of music has always struck me as detached and emotionless, though I'm sure those who enjoy "soundscapes" will be thrilled by the dreamy atmospherics. The songs do not stand on their own as such although the title track is eerily reminiscent of what Nick Drake might be doing if he was alive today, what with the acoustic guitars and Kevin Moore's murmuring world weary vocal performance.

On the whole, Graveyard Mountain Home is an interesting experience, but one that is slightly limited without the visual component. Frankly, images of the boy's feeble attempts at trying to recapture his mother's spirit will probably linger in the mind longer than some of the music. But if you've been feeling a bit too cheerful lately, the hauntingly somber Graveyard Mountain Home could be the perfect antidote.




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