Few composers have been as diligent about getting their work out there as Christopher Young, whether his music accompanied blockbusters, unreleased indies, concert pieces, shorts, or scores that weren’t used at all. Based on dozens of albums and promos, Young has been one very busy man over the decades. Yet even his most obscure releases have shown the same dedication to quality and creativity, no matter the project’s music budget or studio politics. Now Young’s relentless musical drive has inspired his own record label to put these scores onto, beginning with the compilation HAUNTED OR HUMORED.

As a composer whose work has ranged from the instrumentally eccentric likes of  THE VAGRANT to the lush orchestra of CREATION, HAUNTED AND HUMORED offers a striking spectrum of Young’s imagination, hearing a Sam Raimi FAN BOY with wacked-out hayseed jazz (of course with ukulele and whistling), while also giving a heartfelt guitar salute to his high school’s prized teacher SUSAN GRAHAM. Young’s ability to experimentally terrify with echoing pianos and dissonant strings infuse his feature-worthy score for the horror short RE-MEMBERED.

If any cues fall under the What the F column, then it’s Young’s chillingly beautiful work for FACES IN THE CROWD, a serial killer flick that doesn’t bear his score. But Young’s demos here are the next best thing, offering a poetically eerie theme and ethereal suspense that nearly puts FACES in a league with such other Young serial killer classics as COPYCAT and JENNIFER 8. Young’s second CD goes well beyond presenting a score that could have been, as TO SPAIN WITH LOVE takes the material he originally written for ASK THE DUST and turns it into a sparkling tribute to a country whose love of Hollywood music shames this own. Guitars, flamencos and the joyous voice of Clarita Corona embrace the land’s rhythms, from energetic dance to romantic reveries, coalescing the fragments of a once upon a time movie score into a batch of ethnic valentines that celebrate Spain’s inescapable romance and earthy energy.

A far less friendly land to visit is Afghanistan, even if its music can also evidence joy and hope along with mournfulness. And if you pick up both previous albums on Young’s website, then you’ll get a free copy of this beautiful score to THE BLACK TULIP where Young proves himself equally adept in this even more ancient soundscape. For this film where a family tries to open a restaurant after the fall of the Taliban, Young weaves a mesmerizing score out of ethnic instruments, Arabic tone poems and percussion, all conveying enlightened Afghans as their café attempts to bring back art, and joy into a country that’s anything but free from fundamentalist oppression. Yet the gentle, hopeful spirit that blooms in THE BLACK TULIP tells us the human spirit won’t be so easily repressed, especially when it came expressing itself through music. Thankfully Young is now insuring that this score, and its forbearers, don’t remain unsung anymore.

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Article: CD Review of HAUNTED OR HUMOR soundtrack

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