December 27, 2014

Mark Isham - Vapor Drawings, 1983

Vapor Drawings is the phenomenal solo debut of trumpeter, synthesist, and prolific film composer Mark Isham. Over the years, Isham has been credited with scoring many films we know and love. Part of why this album so enchanting is that you might already have a relationship with Isham's music without even knowing it. A rework of "On the Threshold of Liberty" (probably his most familiar-sounding song, and named after a 1929 Magritte painting) was used as the theme song to Rules of Engagement. This is unconfirmed, but a YouTube commenter said that CNN used it as background music for the entire gulf war? I guess Mark tapped in to the new age patriotism vibe...feelin' it!

The music is slippery, as the tracks open up out as developing motifs rather than songs. It's wrought with melodramatic filmy feelings, with each motif calling upon different familiar plot lines. It's simultaneously comforting and chilly. Isham's influences here are obviously wide-ranging and equally hard to pin down as the music itself.

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