Terry S. Taylor
The Phantom Tollbooth September 1998
It is a sign of our times that soundtracks for computer games are being released. The story goes that DreamWorks Interactive asked Terry Taylor to score the incidental and theme music for the Neverhood CD-ROM: an action-packed adventure game set in a "land of terrifying creatures, extraordinary machines, and mysterious artifacts." As the hero, Klayman, players must protect the land of Neverhood by winding their way past a plethora of clever pitfalls to defeat the evil monster Klogg. The entire game was created in superb stop-action claymation resulting in a unique clay-animated world. Consequently, Taylor was asked to make music that sounded, well, like clay. Rumor has it that Taylor both wore and ingested unusual amounts of clay in the process of becoming one with it; feeling its intrinsic worth; getting at the true clay essence. However he achieved it, the results of this musical exploration were undeniably successful. The album sounds like clay. It also sounds like Terry Taylor. Or at least a kind of trademark Terry Taylor sound stripped of reason and pushing creative boundaries well past the pedestrian. Perhaps Taylor said it best when he wrote, "Bomp by zoe dough on da wey ta live a ling zong bazzah baddle ahh!"
by Steven Stuart Baldwin
Employing a host of organic instruments like guitars, banjos, horns, keyboards, and a hodgepodge of percussions, Taylor's "Neverhood All Clay Band" has created a total of 38 smart little ditties, bizarre spoken bits, and musical oddities with a decidedly earthy feel. Without ever seeing the game animation, you can listen to the music and picture clay creatures rummaging and roving about in a chaotic yet cathartic dance. Long-time collaborators like drummer Ed McTaggart and multi-instrumentalist Gene Eugene lent a hand. Greg Kellogg provided the banjo, and Bob Carr and Mike Nelson provided the horns, which are often pushed center-stage in this mix. Together, under Taylor's creative leadership, they sculpted an album ranging from boogie woogie blues to slippery swing to rugged rock and roll. Tastefully retro, thoroughly listen-able, and highly amusing, every song is a delightfully absurd pile of wholesome loam. It's not only good for you, it will definitely provide the nutritional essentials for excellent growth potential and hearty health. Or as Taylor said, just like: "Tomatees and potatees and my peas. I put ‘em in my hat, and I eat ‘em just like that. I put ‘em in my ears and in my shoes. I put ‘em in my pants and I do a little dance. This always seems to take away my blues."
Of course, the entire album is not all fun and games. "Thumb Nail Sketch" captures a man repeatedly hitting himself on the hand with a hammer. Or there's "The Laughing, Crying, Screaming Masses," with its disturbing wailing and gnashing of teeth while others sit on and guffaw in the sight of suffering. Lastly, there is the instrumental track "Jose Feliciano." The rest of the album, however, has a very sprightly feeling to it. For example, who can resist humming along to "Olley Oxen Free" or giving a shout of "Bah biddly biddly biddly hop" during the whimsical "Cough Drops." The album is worth purchasing just to hear the track "Sound Effects Record #32" and the Beatles's parody "Resolution #8." Even though a note to the listener cautions, "Should you chose to sing along...we wish you luck, you're gonna need it!," the overall rhythmic lyrical quality is sure to spread laughter and joy and even bodily healing to your whole person. Listening to this album while operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery, such as a wrecking ball or armored tank, is not recommended. Spastic bodily tremors have been known to occur in even the most casual of listeners. This phenomena, most commonly referred to as the Jolly Jitters, is communicable and unavoidable. Listen with extreme caution, at your own risk, and in the safety of your own cave dwelling.
The most surprising thing of all about Neverhood Songs is the recent discovery of the true meaning masked underneath all the gibberish and gleeful zippitty doo da. Around the globe, the educated elite have applied the same linguistic scholarship on these lyrics that was used to unleash the secret Bible Codes, with surprising results. Apparently, the time and place of the coming Armageddon is cleverly sandwiched between prophecies of the Clinton impeachment and a really delicious recipe for Taylor's sausage gumbo. Of course, most people won't need a linguist to know "The Neverhood Theme" clearly shows the French's involvement in the coming apocalypse along with The Clockwork Beast, Clitton Clatton Klogg (who might that be?), and an odd fellow by the name of Big Robot Bill. Truly we live in an amazing time. In the song "Operator Plays a Little Ping Pong," Taylor even offers his highly intuitive commentary on the devastating result the Y2000 computer dating problem will wreak on the telecommunications industry:
Uh hey operator
Bay day operator operoo...
Let's play a little ping-pong
By a sigh bee.
Ahh bah deep bop bop bop.
Fans of the game clamored to get the soundtrack CD, and some have been quoted that The Neverhood game itself is well worth the price for the music alone. With music this insanely fun and messages of such dire import, you have the perfect synthesis of mindless entertainment and cutting-edge education. The World Wide Cartel of Really Cruel Conspirators will do anything to keep you from owning this album. Act fast, act now, and don't forget your zow cow chow.
5 Alarm Clocks out of 5, for its ingenuity, uniqueness, and highly creative execution of soundtrack material.