Adam Young is a name which might ring a few bells. His most prominent project, among many, many others, is Owl City, a by-now well known electronic/Americana ensemble. Thus, it should come as no surprise when I tell you that Young was extremely prolific in 2016. How prolific? One of his other projects, Adam Young Scores, released an album every month of the year. Yep. Now, it’s probable that a lot of this material was stockpiled over the years and then released in one year. However, does that really matter? Not really. The quality matches the quantity as well; Adam Young Scores sees Young run the full gamut of electronic music, post rock and ambient in his search to set some of the world’s most famous events/artifacts to music. Every month’s release focuses on a different event/artifact and thus changes its music to try and capture some of the atmosphere and unique “flavor” of its subject.
I came into the project from a recommendation by Anthony DiGiacomo, once staff member of the blog and part of our larger network of associates. He sent me to Voyager I, the score released in October of the previous year. True to its namesake, it is spacey, electronic and post rock in the extreme. From the surprisingly upbeat vibes of opener “1977”, perhaps trying to capture the inherent optimism about space in those years, to the more introspective vibes found later in the album, Voyager I is a wonderful introduction to the projection. Coupled with the amazing artwork for the album (the style of which accompanies every single release in this project, in exquisite and moving detail, all created by the incredible James R. Eads), the music on it indeed feels like a score for an epic biopic of the satellite’s journey as it becomes the first vessel to leave the solar system (maybe, scientists are still arguing about what that means exactly).
Space is the subject of one more release from this project, the first. Apollo 11 however is nothing like Voyager I, just as the vessels are nothing alike each other. The album is much more “soundtrack-y”, epic strings and drawn out melodies making up shorter tracks which give the sensation of lift off. The post rock is still there but it’s accompanied by an uplifting sense of human adventure and pioneering. One might argue that Project Excelsior is also about space, describing a series of high parachute jumps made in 1960. It also leans heavily on post rock and is one of the high points of the project’s work in 2016, a more dreamy and introverted couplet to Voyager I. Voyages, journeys and challenges make up much of the rest of Adam Young Scores’ interests: the Titanic, the Endurance, the Ascent of Everest. Every album bucks and metamorphoses to match its topic in a truly beguiling way, as all great scores do.
There’s so much more to be written about this project; there are eleven albums after all that run the gamut of brooding and contained to expansive and bright. However, I’d like to leave most of the exploration to you, the listener. Did I mention that it’s all free to download? Yep. You can choose to buy it as well, and I urge you to do so for your favorite releases, but all of it can be downloaded at the price of signing up to a mailing list. So do yourself a favor and head over there, take in the rich art and start working your way through this incredible discography. I’ll be right there beside you, every step of the way.