FA:7 Collection

Fox Amoore (Iain Armour)

TRACKS: 1—Game of Lightning; 2—Dream Rider; 3—Stay As You Are; 4—Our Place of Being; 5—Winds of Change; 6—Hold Me Tight; 7—Edge of Valhalla; 8—Never Far Away (vocal); 9—The Triad; 10—Play for Your Heart; 11—Soothe the Beast; 12—Seasons of Kusac; 13—The Ninth Tale; 14—End Game

TAGS: Instrumental, Furry Artist

RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2015

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

I’ve not heard a great deal of Fox Amoore’s music, although all that I’ve heard seems well-represented by the works on this album. He’s a good craftsman, carefully composing solid work that, for the most part, sounds like something to back a video game or a movie that’s based on one. In itself, this is not a bad thing, but the range and effectiveness of the music is sometimes limited by this evident preference. Largely predictable in his musical construction, he can be counted upon to crash in with an overdose of electric guitar or percussion when he runs out of good ideas for taking the piece in a new and interesting direction.

Take “Dream Rider” as an example. It begins quietly, with a nicely melancholic minor melody, but it quickly becomes clear that his Celtic-based lament has nowhere to go. Amoore relies upon “loud” as a substitute for any consonant or even assonant bridge or lyric to go with the chorus he’s created. “Soothe the Beast” turns this same trick, moving from gentle keyboard to a penultimate “crescendo” that serves only to distract from the realization that the two main themes are repeated too often, even though the work is only three and a half minutes long. “Seasons of Kusac” does the same, as does “Game of Lightning,” which has several phrases and techniques repeated in the last song. The Mannheim School of the second half of the 18th century uses a full-orchestra crescendo as a means to express sharp dynamic control; in these works, however, it’s not about that sort of control at all, but instead sounds more like an excuse for not having a well-crafted modulating bridge between themes or a properly-constructed development section to the work.

Amoore seems not only to use the same technique on several tracks but even some phrases or partial inversions of phrases across the music. “Winds of Change” and “Edge of Valhalla” have similarities bordering on identity, and both make a disguised appearance in “End Game.” If these works were intended to be presented as a program work, like Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique, such recall of one or more idée fixe would make sense; without that, it seems a little repetitive.

He saves his best work (on this album) for last, but even it wears itself out long before its nearly eleven minutes have drawn to a painfully predictable conclusion. “End Game” has a slow, powerful build that would do credit to the final battle sequences for mutants, mecha, and miscellaneous mayhem. Again, the screaming electric guitar carries emotion and angst, with little to commend it as either original or lyrical. I grew up on this stuff, mostly from the “loud bands” of the seventies and eighties, later co-opted for lame films that need a soundtrack to make it worth staying awake for. Almost exactly halfway through the piece comes the obligatory “soft section” where our hero flashes back on all that he’s fighting for, after which the guitars return with horns and choir to reiterate that the hero is fighting for the good of all his people, or whatever. By the end, we’re back to the pulsing electronic carpet of anticipation, covered by single chords, minor to major, back and forth. It’s the musical equivalent of stock footage, and yes, it works… but that’s all it does.

For someone as lauded and championed by the furry community as furrydom’s answer to John Williams, Amoore’s work has the technical excellence of a highly-talented musical mechanic, with sound and fury signifying that a buck was to be made somewhere. Again, the work is not poor, but neither does it rise to excellence. There’s little here that speaks to any particular spark of individuality, of heart, of hearing the muse and recreating the beauty of that First Song. I think the fandom owes Mr. Williams an apology.

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