TRACKER Composing an illustrated soundtrack.
Tracker, Craig Thompson
Fri Dec 10
1800 E Burnside

It's probably a testament to the depth and quality of the Portland music scene that more people don't know about John Askew. As head of the Film Guerrero label Askew has fostered a modest number of other local talents, as well as releasing several records of his own, under the moniker Tracker. Though not quite a household name, Tracker has been getting more attention recently, having just released a soundtrack to Craig Thompson's celebrated, epic graphic novel, Blankets.

Thompson approached Askew about the possibility of a soundtrack before Blankets was published, and Askew agreed without ever seeing the novel. When he did see the book, he was a little nervous. "I was totally shocked," Askew says. Thompson's book, which received all kinds of praise from TIME magazine online to the Sunday Times Book Review, is an emotional and intense story that's over 500 pages long. It's beautifully written and drawn, and not exactly light material. Askew says, "I'd probably spent four or five months doing nothing, because I didn't know what to do. And every month I waited, the book would get more props, and more and more people started talking about it."

In order to make the record, Askew scrapped his original idea of matching songs to chapters, and instead took a more abstract approach, finding pieces of each chapter he identified with and composing music to match them.

The result is a beautiful record that compliments the story, but is not limited by it stylistically. It's not an album of music written for the book, but to the book, an exchange of ideas between artists--an exchange that continues this Friday, as Thompson creates live illustrations to be projected as Tracker plays.

Blankets got a lot of people to finally realize how great graphic novels are. Maybe it can also get people to finally pay attention to a great band.