My affair with John Powell

I have sinned.

I’m not proud to admit it, but I have sinned. I’ve been sneaking around, living a lie. I met a man — discovered him, really. His name is John, and we instantly connected. He’s fun and classy and spontaneous, all at the same time. And I feel like I can trust him with anything.

Don’t judge me. He’s an extremely talented guy. In fact, the three of us should hang sometime. Fondue/Boggle at my place Saturday?

“Musicians Village” – Kung Fu Panda 2

I don’t know what a Kung Fu Panda does. I don’t know why there are two of them. What I do know is that the horn line at 1:00 impossibly fits with those thunderous pseudo-Asian melodies. And the ostinato in the strings? How can 80 seconds be this good? Pack your bags, and get on the Google Maps. We’re moving to wherever the hell Musicians Village is.

“My Fist Hungers for Justice” – Kung Fu Panda 2

The frightening aura of Invader ZIMM would probably demand some credit be paid to him as well. Zat seems only fayer, Hans. I’m a better man for their double team on “My First Hungers for Justice,” even if that title should totally be a Batman line.

“Berlin Foot Chase” – The Bourne Supremacy

What kind of a person would I be if I failed to mention Powell’s work on the Bourne films? A terrible kind of person, that’s what kind. It doesn’t really matter why there’s a creepy owl sound in “Berlin Foot Chase,” because this makes everything more intense. Especially dishwashing. You’re not getting out of here alive, bacon greased-skillet. Oh no. Powell’s genius even manages to make this piece frightening while never shying from the fact that it dominates all comers. Yes, I have fear. And I will end you with it.

“Escape from Embassy” – The Bourne Identity

Sure, there’s a few others I should’ve probably mentioned instead. The schizophrenic Bengalese “Tangiers.” Or the sweatpantsed tranquility in “Goa.” But I’ll stick with the unsung “Escape from the Embassy” from Identity. Remember that ‘performance art theatre’ group STOMP? Of course you don’t. Well, they created rhythms by banging random bits of trash and well… stomping on stages all over the late 90’s. And our second grade music teacher constantly played what must have been their collected masterworks on VHS. “Escape from the Embassy” has an absolutely insane mix of percussion. A trash can lid here, a shirtless gong strike there. I always visualize Powell soloing all of this in the sound studio himself, freebasing formaldehyde and making strange requests. Dammit, Rick. I told him I wanted THREE slinkies. Guess we’ll have to kill this intern, too.

“Forbidden Friendship” – How to Train Your Dragon

Don’t let that terrible title — which is definitely a selection from The Babysitter’s Club — fool you. This soundtrack in its entirety is a triumphant sumbitch and Powell plays with a ton of different motifs in nearly every song. “Forbidden Friendship” is but one example. Also, I don’t have the patience to embed 27 YouTube videos. Here, Powell throws in those damn bells. Oh, those bells! It’s Christmas, without the crippling depression.  First, he dissects what I’ll refer to as ‘triumphant boner theme’ and slowly builds it up before breaking down its melodies and tweaking it into arpeggio shifts. It’s primal, brah. Absolutely primal.

“Test Drive” – How to Train Your Dragon

For all his swagger, Sam Spade was a fucking idiot. This is what dreams are made of.


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