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Moon Mummy

CD by Conrad Schnitzler and Matt Howarth

(Horizon Music, www.hmnetwork.com, 2005.)

Review by Elizabeth Barrette

cover scanFour stars.

This delightfully weird item is a combination album and comic book. Yes, really! The electronic music is effectively a soundtrack for the comic, which appears as a PDF file on the CD. (You need Acrobat Reader 5 or higher to access the PDF.) The liner notes explain, "Moon Mummy is a cautionary comedy about the dangers of mixing science and commercialization. It deals with what happens when an archaeological discovery in the asteroid belt collides with the cold reality of generating public interest to support research funding. There are still many unanswered questions regarding the alien's tomb."

The individual tracks tell the story in musical form, and are therefore presented here in order:

  • "The Burial Asteroid" (4:42)
  • "Through Spooky Tunnels" (3:09)
  • "The Mummified Remains Are Affectionately Referred to As 'Baxter'" (4:02)
  • "Archived Artifact 1" (4:03)
  • "Cathedral Muttering in the Tunnels" (3:43)
  • "Lightheaded in the Third Chamber" (3:14)
  • "Archived Artifact 2" (4:01)
  • "Archived Artifact 3" (3:27)
  • "Doctor Arkham's Enigmatic Accident" (4:37)
  • "Archived Artifact 4 Takes a Stroll Through the Tunnels (4:02)
  • "Archived Artifact 5" (3:35)
  • "The Profit Margin" (3:17)
  • "Archived Artifact 6" (3:33)
  • "Kids Everywhere Are Helping the Moon Mummy Fight the Video Snarks" (4:19)
  • "Archived Artifact 7" (4:05)
  • "Mummy Dance (Interwoven Attributes -- the Second Chamber Mix)" (5:39)

Musician Conrad Schnitzler has been making music for about forty years, and his earlier work included performing on the first Tangerine Dream album Electronic Meditation. The soundscapes in Moon Mummy flawlessly evoke the creepy, freakazoid mood of the comic. The music chirps and twitters, chuckles and echoes, and ultimately leaves you looking over your shoulder. I particularly like the fact that seven of the tracks are "alien artifacts" -- they do sound different, and I find the idea of audio artifacts fascinating. Some of the in-joke references are priceless too; with a name like Dr. Arkham, you just know this guy is doomed to die horribly. And don't you wish you'd written a song with a title as cool as "Kids Everywhere Are Helping the Moon Mummy Fight the Video Snarks" ... ?

Comic book artist Matt Howarth has been mixing art and music for a while; his strips have featured other electronic musicians such as Klaus Schulze and Dave Brock. Howarth assembled the soundtrack for Moon Mummy from a multitude of recordings that Schnitzler sent to him. The art is vivid and memorable, with supersaturated colors. Some frames are highly stylized, like much electronic art; but others are quite subtle, delicately shaded and expressive. The story itself is hilarious in an "omigod" kind of way, a wicked comment on the state of business today.

Moon Mummy goes way beyond genrebending. If you dropped pulp science fiction, horror, and psychedelics into the blender -- and leaned on the "frappe" button for a while -- this is what you'd get. Sit down and listen to it all at once, the first time, when you can really pay attention to it. After that, it's great background music for Halloween parties, room parties at a convention, roleplaying games with science fiction or horror themes, or writing fiction. Highly recommended.


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