Ezra Claytan Daniels’ mesmerizing novel debut UPGRADE SOUL – which has received much critical acclaim, including The Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics, the Eisner, Ignatz, Harvey, and Ringo Awards – is expanding into multimedia this fall, with the vinyl release of Alexis Gideon’s UPGRADE SOUL original soundtrack, as well as the relaunch of an innovative UPGRADE SOUL app. Both the app and the soundtrack will be available for purchase on October 25th, 2019.
UPGRADE SOUL is the dark and surreal story of an elderly couple who volunteer themselves for an experimental scientific procedure intended to rejuvenate their aging bodies. When the procedure goes horribly wrong, creating physically disfigured but intellectually superior clones of the couple, the scientists, the couple, and their clones must grapple with existential questions of morality—with very real consequences. The book is a profound meditation on identity and the ways society imposes restrictions based on our age, gender, race and perceived disabilities.
Daniels spent a decade writing and drawing UPGRADE SOUL before it was published in book form last year by Lion Forge. Originally conceived as a digital graphic novel, the graphic novel published in 2012 as an interactive iOS comic app designed by media artist and two-time Webby Awards Official Honoree Erik Loyer.
“Erik Loyer’s interactive web-based science fiction story called Chroma was a game-changer for digital storytelling,” said Daniels. “Stylish and thoughtful, it showed a path for digital interactivity to push the boundaries of the comics form even further. I sent Erik a gushing fan letter about Chroma and that led to the UPGRADE SOUL app.”
“The UPGRADE SOUL app release seven years ago was ahead of its time and helped pioneer digital comics tech which is now in use in games, apps, and on the web,” said Loyer. “Now technology has caught up and enabled us to finish the project as we originally intended, with the rich interactive score, 3D picture-box effects, and seamless navigation that makes the experience so immersive. There’s a reason why we put it on the App Store in the ‘Entertainment’ category—it’s not an ‘enhanced’ version of a print graphic novel, it’s its own unique thing.”
Check out the sample video of the app below:
The app featured an incredible original score by composer/hip hop producer Alexis Gideon, who is known for his work with the band Princess and his solo Video Musics series of animated operas. Gideon created the music for the UPGRADE SOUL app to seamlessly flow with and complement the interactive app, creating a wholly unique experience that’s a high watermark for digital comics and a standard-setter for the future of the medium.
“I tried to draw out some of the unsettling and cinematic sci-fi/horror undertones of the book with Goblin and John Carpenter-esque compositions,” said Gideon. “The inquisitive and philosophical nature of UPGRADE SOUL’s story encouraged me to experiment with searching and soundscape compositions.”
In October, for the first time, the trippy and ethereal soundtrack that accompanied the app’s initial launch will be available to the public, outside of said app. Chicago’s FPE Records will release the soundtrack in two formats – a regular black vinyl edition and a limited deluxe edition featuring translucent orange vinyl, red markings, and a signed print by Daniels. Only 100 copies will be released worldwide of the limited deluxe edition.
The UPGRADE SOUL Original Soundtrack Standard Edition, with black vinyl, retails for $18.00. The UPGRADE SOUL Original Soundtrack Limited Edition, featuring color vinyl, is exclusively available through FPE Records’ website, via Bandcamp or directly from Ezra Claytan Daniels at appearances. The UPGRADE SOUL Original Soundtrack Limited Edition retails for $45.00.
“Alexis Gideon’s music for the UPGRADE SOUL Soundtrack perfectly expresses FPE Records eclectic ethos – you can’t say what genre it is and it’s addictively catchy and groovy,” said FPE Records founder Matt Pakulski. “Bonus that it scores such a weird, deep, lovely, repulsively attractive work of narrative fiction, and that cover! It’s a dream project for me and I’m proud to have it join Turning Jewels Into Water, Nicole Mitchell and others on the FPE roster that defy our expectations and keep us mesmerized.”
The UPGRADE SOUL app, which includes the first story’s chapter, is available as a free download. Throughout the month of October, the entire story can be unlocked for $6.99. Beginning November 1, the entire book can be unlocked for $7.99.
Here are some sample pages from Upgrade Soul below:
UPGRADE SOUL has received widespread critical acclaim:
“Masterfully crafted. Daniels’s prose is haunting and cinematic, and his storytelling structure is magnificent.” —Vulture
“A dazzling, disturbing piece of science fiction that examines aging, family and science gone wrong. It’ll grip you from the first page on.” —Comics Beat
“Brilliant. One of the best comics I’ve read in years.” —Matt Johnson, author of Loving Day and Incognegro
“A stunning work of feverish imagining.” —io9
“Earth-shattering sci-fi. UPGRADE SOUL has profound things to say about mortality, aging, identity and the fundamental sense of self. Every choice, every component of UPGRADE SOUL simply works.” —Paste Magazine
NEWS WATCH: Ezra Claytan Daniels’ UPGRADE SOUL Gets a Multimedia Upgrade!
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