Behind the Music – March of the Inanimate

“Nevertheless the passions, whether violent or not, should never be so expressed as to reach the point of causing disgust; and music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

March of the Inanimate Cover - Video Cover

Behind the Music – The Story of March of the Inanimate

This is the second post in my “Behind the Music” series where I take the reader (you) through an audio tour of a specific album I have released.  I detail the thoughts and feelings I had as I composed the album, on a track by track basis.  I include the track in each section so you can listen along as you read about the songs story.

The first post in this series, which you can read by clicking here, was about my album La famille du solénoïde.  In this issue I will take you through a listening tour of my horror/halloween homage album March of the Inanimate.

Note: The intention of this article is to have you listen to each song as you read it’s description. The appropriate song is listed just under the title of each track so you can hit play; listen to the song; and read the story/description about it.  I understand that you may not have the time to listen and read through the whole article in one sitting, or just prefer to read the stories themselves, so don’t fret as you will find links to the entire album on the various digital streaming and download sites where it is available at the end of the article.

“March of the Inanimate”. A Horror / Halloween homage to classic horror soundtracks

In my mind, I always had a small story that goes behind this music.  The story of our protagonist (Let’s call him Jack) on a search for a treasure within a Forbidden Cottage in the middle of a dark haunting forest. He is on a quest to find a powerful crystal said to bestow upon it’s keeper wonderful magic.  And thus, our story begins…

Following is a break down of each song on the album, along with my notes and thoughts on each.  Follow along with me (And Jack) on this journey through the night and fog as we search for our treasure within the Forbidden Cottage, and the haunting discoveries we make.

Chasing Shadows

Click the Play button above to listen to this song now through Bandcamp as you read it’s story.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” – Walt Whitman

A dark ambient sound opens in the form of Chasing Shadows. We can visualize Jack as a man perhaps resembling a cross between Indiana Jones and Roland Deschain from The Dark Tower. He travels through a dark forest filled with a thick deep fog.  Constantly looking behind and around him inspecting his surroundings with the feeling of being followed. What light does trickle through in this dark forest, casts ominous shadows that invite his chasing look.  Jack is a sickened man after living a life of no regards towards what he does to his own body, and it has weakened him. The night air wreaks havoc on him causing labored breathing and coughing fits.

After I decided to do this album, I already had the title “March of the Inanimate” in mind, and the basic story idea in my head.  I needed a song that would set the tone for the rest of the album.  Something dark, and ominous much like you might see at the beginning of a film as the stage is set for the rest of the movie.  This song could also be titled “Jacks Theme”.  The song carries a dark yet grand sound as our lead character is introduced.

A deep thumping rhythmic sound is introduced to build tension before the main theme of the song is introduced.  I was clearly going for the classic ominous sound heard throughout the music of Carpenter and Howarth.  A brass pad, and angelic voice are layered together to enhance the lead theme.   Dark Ambient sounds layer the background as Jack continues his search through the forest.

I think the music from John Carpenters version of “The Thing” heavily influenced the sound I was shooting for here.  And of course, the soundtrack to this film was not mainly written by Carpenter nor Howarth, but instead by Ennio Morricone. yet Carpenter and Howard did score a few pieces of the music that was used in the final film.  The Desolation theme from the movie comes to mind on this one.

Out of the Fog

Click the Play button above to listen to this song now through Bandcamp as you read it’s story.

“Fear death? – to feel the fog in my throat, / The mist in my face.”  – Robert Browning

Jack has reached a clearing in the forest.  The wind and rain clear his view and he is now Out of the Fog.  Still dark ambient sounds abound, a symphonic lead up to the primary theme utilizing a harpsichord for a classical mysterious sound.

Out of the Fog, is really an extension of the lead piece that originally began the title track “March of the Inanimate”.  At the time, it was a mammoth song, extending over 13 minutes itself.  Starting off with a sweet yet mysterious beginning before leading into hits heart pumping classical Halloween like rhythm.  I felt this first part of the song could truly stand on it’s own, and thus Out of the Fog was born.

A string section plays a hopeful yet sad melody.  Jack can now see clearly through the clearing. We are introduced to a piano theme that is background melody we will here in the titular track March of the Inanimate.  I tried to express exhaustion in our lead character.

Jack can see the Forbidden Cottage far away in the distance on the opposite side of the clearing.  What sounds like a theremin mixed with angelic voices is added to our lead melody to give a classical haunting sound.  As Jack can now see his destination, he is relieved to finally be within reach of it.  Excited to finally find this place rumored to hold the treasure he seeks, yet ever constant of his surroundings and the legends he has heard of things that go bump in the night within it’s vicinity.

As noted above, this was originally the beginning of the titular track March of the Inanimate, and in fact at about the 3:30 mark within this song is where the main theme of March of the Inanimate took over.   I took the primary verse in the song and repeated it to extend Out of the Fog a bit.  Changing it up slightly in the second stanza to give Out of the Fog a life of it’s own.

Out of the Fog ends with our protagonist on the other side of the clearing.  The piano softly fading out as he stands before the Forbidden Cottage.

Forbidden Cottage

Click the Play button above to listen to this song now through Bandcamp as you read it’s story.

“You have no idea the power generated each time somebody is told a story. When a conscious, sentient mind willingly ignores what is real, what is fact, and instead chooses to invest in people and places that never existed…It’s magnificent.” ― Derek Landy, The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage

Forbidden Cottage was actually initially written for an extra track I had planed for an expanded edition of my album “For the Willow wept…”. This song begins with dark ambient sounds and the distinct sound of wind chimes that originally did not start the song, but were added at a later time to help make it fit into the theme of March of the Inanimate.

Jack has arrived at the Forbidden Cottage rumored to hold the treasure he seeks. It is  covered in the growth of the forest. A relic of days gone by.  He steps through the passage way into the cottage where a door once existed.  A harp arpeggio begins as Jack searches the rooms of the cottage. He finds vintage furniture covered in moss, webbing and insects and rummages through to find the chest once described to him long ago.

A sweeter track than others on the album, but still with a mysterious background to keep us rooted in our horror theme.  This song wouldn’t be tied to any direct inspiration from Carpenter nor Howarth, but it still has that mysterious haunting sound to it that I like.

In a certain room he finally sees the chest he is looking for.   It is surrounded by what appear to be various porcelain dolls; stone angelic statues; and what appear to be scarecrows that surprisingly have no place within the middle of the room. One particular porcelain doll (let’s call her Lilith) is missing her eyes.  There are deep dark pockets where the eyes should have been.  She is surprisingly larger than most porcelain dolls he has seen before, almost the size of a small toddler. They all appear to have their arms outstretched towards the chest, as if protecting it and making a final attempt to reach out for it.

The Chest

Click the Play button above to listen to this song now through Bandcamp as you read it’s story.

“The devil lies brooding in the miser’s chest” – Thomas Fuller

Jack approaches The Chest. Our song begins with a closer examination of this apparent cassone enamored with jewels and laced with gold.  The chest is a treasure in itself, but it is it’s contents that he is specifically after.

This song starts dark and mysterious.  A deep choral theme to express these feelings.

Jack lifts the lid to the chest, and finds it filled with a layering of fabric.  He slowly lifts away the fabric to discover what he has set out to find.  A large Crystal object with many faces, perhaps as many faces much like a rhombicosidodecahedron. This crystal which was rumored to give life to the deceased. To heal the sick, and most importantly his desire, to give eternal life to the beholder. The crystal object is initially dark as he strains to remove it from the chest, the weight of it requiring him to use all of his strength. He places it on a table against a wall opposite the chest and the objects in the room

When writing this song, I reflected back to many movies I had seen where the protagonist in the story ultimately finds the treasure they are looking for.  Much like how Indiana Joes finally discovers the Ark of the Covenant.  I wanted to express a Godly like presence of mystery throughout the song.

A glow forms from within the center of the crystal.  As if slowing awakening, the intensity increases slowly until the brightness fills the room.  Jack begins to feel elated after his find.  He is filled with energy he hasn’t felt since he was but a small child.

Angelic voices are heard with a symphonic background to express the stunning brilliance of this treasure Jack has found.

March of the Inanimate

Click the Play button above to listen to this song now through Bandcamp as you read it’s story.

“There’s something about seeing this little inanimate object coming to life that’s just very exciting. That’s why with ‘Nightmare’ I held out for so long to do it.” – Tim Burton

And now begins the titular track to this album, March of the Inanimate. A sort of warring rhythm leads this song to set the tone. In some ways, this reminds me a bit of the song “Wounded Warsong” from the Silent Hill game series and movie (Which is an awesome song and movie btw).

The quintessential image I had seen that locked the idea of the song title was this particular image shown below by pumpkinrot.

roots13

My visions of that thing moving towards me creeps my out! I would HIGHLY recommend you check Pumpkinrot out if you have never heard of him before.

Jack hears creaks and cracks one would typically hear in an old wooden cottage (and what he has heard during his exploration), yet soon realizes this isn’t the floor or the walls making these sounds.  He looks upon the inanimate objects filling the room.  These porcelain dolls; angelic statues and scarecrows.   No longer are their arms stretched towards the chest. No, their arms are now outstretched towards him.  Initially confused as if his mind and eyes are playing tricks on him.

A thumping rhythmic sound is heard, and a drum cadence is introduced as the inanimate objects in the room begin their slow march towards him.  Terrified he grabs the crystal object and flees the room, and exists the open doorway leading outside of the cottage and into the nearby woods.

At this point in the song, my goal was to present a classical element heard in many of the songs produced by Carpenter and Howarth.  That pulsing rhythmic arpeggio used liberally in themes such as the main title theme of Halloween, and in my personal favorite “Chariots of Pumpkins” as heard on Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  These songs emanate the feeling of being chased by something dark and horrifying, and was my ultimate goal for this song.  March of the Inanimate continues with this primary theme pulsing in as the chase begins, with symphonic elements sprinkled over it.

Previously seeing the slow speed at which the dolls and statues moving, he was sure that his quick dash to the outside of the cottage placed plenty of distance between him and his pursuers, yet a quick look behind him reveals that they have already reached just outside of the cottage doorway.  Still slowly moving towards him, but certainly not at any speed he couldn’t outrun.

He jolts into the woods at a quickened pace. Previously unable to run as in his youth, his ailments seem to have passed allowing him to move through the forest at breakneck speed.  It is obvious to him that the affects of the crystal object he holds within his arms have cured his body and is providing the energy he desperately needs to outrun his prey.

Yet he is wrong.  A quick glance behind him, and somehow astonishingly the horde of dolls, statues and scarecrows are within a few feet behind him. He darts off once again, quickening his pace even more.

The effects of the crystal have certainly helped him, but have not gave him superhuman strength and he begins to wear from exhaustion as he flees.  His pace begins to slow.  He glances behind him once again, and is jolted with the surprise of a stone hand within inches of his face.  The sight of Lilith with her empty sockets where her eyes should have been, and shattered teeth ready to sink into his flesh.  He looses his grip on the crystal and it falls upon the rocks nearby shattering across the floor of the forest.

He looks back, and his pursuers are now frozen once again.  Relieved that they appear to no longer be in pursuit, he takes a moment to catch his breath.  He suddenly feels pain in his chest he has lived with for so long, returning with a brutal force.  Blood escapes his mouth as a chronic cough returns once more.

Crystal Projections

Click the Play button above to listen to this song now through Bandcamp as you read it’s story.

“I bought a crystal ball, and I wanted to use it, but I didn’t know how, and I wouldn’t use it until I developed a technique to use it that was truthful.” – Michael Moschen

A softer song and more light ambient than the  rest of the album, Crystal Projections begins with the vision of Jacks treasure shattered upon the forest floor.  Shards spread out around him as he lays on the ground covered in his own blood.  The shards catching rays from the morning sun reflecting brightly back into his eyes. An angelic choral melody is introduced and Jack realizes his condition is worse than before. He is dying.

In as much life and health that the crystal had bestowed upon him, it is now ripped from him as it’s power is lost. What was once given is now taken away seven fold.

A crystal arpeggio plays as the angelic chorus continues on, projecting the sense of passing. Of Jacks passing.  He reflects on everything he has encountered as life slips away from him.  The light glitters from the shards of the broken crystal as the world around him fades away.

Running from Shadows

Click the Play button above to listen to this song now through Bandcamp as you read it’s story.

Running from Shadows is not a song that tells a portion of the story, yet is rather a closing piece you might find during the end credits of a movie.  It starts with a pulsing melody and dark ambient music much like in the classical Halloween themes.  It shares the same melody as Chasing Shadows from the beginning of the album.  A sort of bookend to the opposite of Chasing Shadows to complete our imaginary Original “N”otion Picture Soundtrack.

Much like how some films use an end credits song that is more pop or rock than the constituent parts used throughout the film, Running from Shadows attempts to mimic this. A rock styled rhythm backs the melody.

The lights are raised in our virtual theatre as the credits roll by and we reflect on what we have just witnessed.

Epilogue

It was maybe 6 months or so after I had released my album “For the Willow Wept…“. I had attended a bi-annual event at a friends house where we all get together and basically have target practice down on his private gun range.  Each time he has one of these events, it’s generally themed.  And this year, the theme was “Zombie Apocalypse Training Camp”.  Yep, that’s right.  The event had little games styled as if you were preparing for the impending zombie apocalypse.   It was quite fun.

Generally, we all bring our cameras and video cameras to film aspects of the event, and a few of us put together collages of the activities during the day.  This year, I decided to try to make a little film that started as if credits were rolling by in the beginning.  It had a distant cottage in the background and an old film filter, as if telling the story of how the event came to be. The overlaying credits at the beginning of the film were something like the following:

“Somewhere on a ranch in Celeste Texas…

A legendary event was started…

It is said, that a horde appears twice a year.

to FRAK things up…”

It should be no surprise to most of my fans and close friends, that my ultimate goal in life is to do soundtracks for film.  In the early 80’s I was introduced (as well as a lot of us I’m sure) to the amazing films of John Carpenter.  It was he and Alan Howarth’s music that was a gigantic inspiration for me.  I absolutely loved everything they did, and for the longest time wanted to do Just that.  Write, Direct and produce the film score for movies. Making that video of the Leadfest (as it was called) event was a fun little experiment, and it led to me writing the songs March of the Inanimate, Out of the fog and Forbidden Cottage.

I never was able to find the time to learn the craft of writing and directing a movie, however I would come up with abstract notions in my mind of stories that I would present as musical stories.  An Original “N”otion Picture Soundtrack of a movie idea.

I actually created one of these Original “N”otion Picture Soundtracks before, but it is now discontinued from distribution because I felt the quality of the album was not something I wanted to present out to the world.  The album was titled “Réalité De Destination”.  I may revive this album at some time and re-release.

I had also planned in my mind another Original “N”otion Picture Soundtrack inspired by a song I wrote for my daughter.  The title of this one was called “Princess Kat and The Great wall of China” where the albums main song/theme was titled “Candles“.  Candles was in turn, based on a poem she had written for a school contest.  I have since released Candles as a stand alone single, and it is freely available for download from my main site.

Without going into too much detail, the story idea behind Princess Kat dealt with an orphaned English infant girl, somehow lost in Beijing China and then found by the invading Mongolian army and raised by Genghis Khan (Kind of a crazy idea right?). A version of Lost in Beijing, which is now released as a single from my forthcoming album “Skylines”, was the introductory song for that album idea.

I never finished Princess Kat, but I may eventually resurrect the idea if I can truly come up with a fitting story for it.

So now back to the zombie apocalypse training camp.

I had put together a song that was a “horror” themed song that I layered within the video footage of the event.  All though I had already started working on other songs that were not necessarily horror themed, and I had no real movie to create a soundtrack for, I decided to revive my idea for another Original “N”otion Picture Soundtrack. I would label it more of a homage to the classic soundtracks by Carpenter and Howarth, and thus March of the Inanimate was born.

I hope you have enjoyed experiencing my Original “N”otion Picture Soundtrack. This “Behind the Music” story through my album March of the Inanimate. If you would like to see more of the “Behind the Music” stories on my other releases, please let me know!

Also, if you would like to hear more Original “N”otion Picture Soundtracks produced by me, let me know as well!

I’m just Keeping the Dream Alive!

– Keith Richie


Previous posts in this series


Buy or Stream Streaming March of the Inanimate

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