Original Release Date: 2011
Total Track Time: 16 minutes
Artists can be a passionate bunch.
I definitely don’t mean that statement in a bad way, and please note that I mean the broad definition of the word “artist,” not just those who draw or design: writers, musicians, actors, sculptors, dancers, comedians, anyone who takes something of themselves and produces a performance of some type is most definitely an artist.
And why shouldn’t they be passionate about their work? As a writer myself, I feel the highest of highs and the lowest of lows when someone praises or pans my work, and like many (authors in particular), I lament the fact that my work doesn’t seem to reach as many people as I want it to (i.e., every literate man, woman, and child on the planet). However, out of all of these different types of creators, I usually find musicians to be the most passionate about their work.
Take, for example, Aaron Stoquert. He is the creator of the five-song EP (which FYI, stands for Extended Play – longer than a single song but shorter than a full-length album) entitled “Run for Your Life,” featuring all zombie-centric tunes. After giving his music in-depth repeated listenings for this review, I reached out to Aaron to see if he had any insight into his creative process that he wanted to share with me. His e-mailed response of a few hundred words demonstrated to me that he truly put quite a bit of thought and creative work into these songs, and this commitment to his craft definitely shows in his work.
“Run for Your Life” has a very unique feel to it; these are not songs written about a zombie apocalypse, but instead are songs written during the zompocalypse. They all have a very bleak feel to them, and were created using a very “minimalist” approach in regards to accompaniment. If Johnny Cash were to live through a zombie uprising, I’d imagine that he would make songs that sound similar to those that Stoquert has created here.
As I mentioned, this mini-album features five different tracks. The opener, “Bunker Hill,” is a short but mournful ode lamenting the drastic societal shift that seemingly goes hand in hand with the dead returning to life. “Soft Skin” comes next, and it’s written from a very intriguing angle: a mix of jumbled memories and half-remembrances of a human turned into one of the undead. “Pass Me By” is a stark admission of the current state of the zombie-infested world and how one needs to be pragmatic and practical in order to effectively survive; even with this presentation of a harsh reality, it’s surprisingly the most musically-upbeat song of the bunch. Perhaps the most difficult of the group to decipher, “Make it Clean” seems to be an admission of a survivor’s passive aggression towards the undead and their inability to simply stay deceased. The final track, “I’ll See You Again,” gives a voice to one of the strongest-yet-unspoken desires that most survivors hold: the need for another living person, regardless of who they are, to simply stay close and help fight the all-encompassing feeling of loneliness.
Now that we’ve dissected the EP a little, let’s allow the Score to wrap it up:
G: General Entertainment – Repeated listenings of the EP will truly allow the listener to appreciate the above-average level of quality music and storytelling that Stoquert has crafted here. While the “minimalist” approach to the sound of the disc may seem a little like a cop-out at first, once you can grasp the concept of the story being presented, the arrangement of the music makes a lot more sense. 8/10
O: Original Content – We’re going to go just slightly higher than average here, because we have two very different aspects of how this EP is either unique or not. The story being presented appears to be a very standard, run-of-the-mill zompocalypse, so there is obviously not a lot of opportunity to add any special elements into a “classic” story such as this. However, from a production standpoint, the telling of this tale through the musical milieu is a singular one, with only a handful of other zombie-centric albums known to this reviewer. So the score of this category is going to let these two diametrically-opposed elements meet in the middle. 6/10
R: Realism – The tale being told by the music is grounded fairly well in reality. The only real complaint I have is that the songs aren’t overly connected together via any kind of linear plot line, but this was most likely done on purpose, as it would be especially hard to tell a complete story in only five songs totaling 16 minutes worth of music. 7/10
E: Effects and Editing – As I mentioned above, the more I listened to the music, the more enamored I became with its sound; I believe that it really captures how living through a zombie apocalypse might feel. Stoquert’s lyrics are very entertaining as well: from the opening line of “If you don’t remember falling asleep / well, you haven’t landed yet” to brutally-honest moments where we’re reminded that “here, flames are just heat” and “love is something of value locked by the Devil’s key,” the words of these songs are just as impactful as the instrumental sounds. Extra kudos to Stoquert for including an important sound bite from the original “Night of the Living Dead” at the onset of the EP. 9/10
TOTAL SCORE: 7.5/10
“Run for Your Life” is a very unique addition to any zombie lover’s collection. You can get the 5-song compilation at http://aaronstoquert.bandcamp.com/, and the best part is that you can donate whatever you’d like to help support Stoquert’s cause. The creator mentioned to me that he is currently working on a full length album with the hopes of an October release. If you do go download the music, please be generous and give something – as most of us “starving artists” know, every little bit helps!
And now, my friends, you know the Score!