As part of my personal “throwback series” of re-composing/re-arranging compositions that I did in my early years, I’ve recently finished working on “The Temple of the Spidergod”. Why even bother about something I did 20 years go?
First of all, I’m emotionally attached to this composition which got me my first composing award back in 2002 and a very nice letter from someone who fell deeply in love with my music and asked for me to teach him composition. As flattered as I was, I had to politely decline, since I’m not a studied composer and have little to teach, relying on my own perception, taste and intuition more than on what I’ve read in books.
Secondly, the Spidergod music features some of my finest themes and ideas while being produced with a Roland JV2080 synthesizer which was my only option back then. Now, almost 20 years later, there’s a whole new world of creating believable orchestral sounds at my fingertips and I wanted Spidergod to sound as good as possible. Getting to grips with my new stack of tools (Studio One as DAW and Orchestral Tools samples as virtual instruments) provided an excellent opportunity to do that.
There’s of course a reason why many composers don’t touch their music after it’s been finished. Every piece of music is linked to a particular time and place and state of mind, and usually there’s little to gain from tweaking something that you did decades ago. If I did the music today, it would sound very different of course, because music has changed, styles have changed, techniques have changed. I have changed, too, dramatically even.
One common misconception about Spidergod that I’ve encountered a few times over the years is that people expect a Conan-themed composition to be an archaic powerhouse with deep drums and strong metal and lots of operaic drama. We have to thank Basil Poledouris for that, of course. What he did was outstanding, musically and dramatically. However, his vision was aligned with the vision of the film makers of Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer. And few people know that these movies have little in common with the novels of Robert E. Howard which are basically the roots of what is now labelled “dark fantasy” as opposed to the Lord of the Rings-like “high fantasy”.
What makes “dark fantasy” dark is not grim-faced barbarians and guts spilling over the streets, but the fact that heroes fight against real people (the dark side of humanity, if you will) more than monsters. That’s something that George R.R. Martin understood very well and applied to his concept of GoT which is not as much about dragons and undead as it might seem on the surface, but about people, good and evil, and much in between.
But I’m digressing. What I wanted to make clear is that the Conan in “Spidergod”, which btw is a novel by L. Sprague de Camp (the spiritual successor to Robert E. Howard), is a thief and an adventurer. He has humor, he is clever, he is agile, he has a good heart, but he is also naiive and makes his mistakes. The “Spidergod” story is of course comprised of lots of Conan-y things and clichès like a mountain city, evil priests, giant spiders, a beautiful innocent temple dancer and evil black magic going on in some cave. However, it’s not about the Arnold-Conan from the movies which has become part of our popculture. If it was, I wouldn’t have touched the subject. I wouldn’t have wanted (or dared) to re-create what Basil Poledouris did so perfectly. So please consider Spidergod on its own or with the colorful fantasy novel in mind that it’s been written for, but not the movies.
Pre-release track versions from this compositions you can find on Soundcloud.