Thursday 27 March 2014

Airwolf Extended Themes officially released!

As of March 26th the limited edition 2CD album "Airwolf Extended Themes" is available for purchase on It was a long road: almost 8 years of development... and almost 20 years of conceiving. Thanks for your patience. Enjoy!

Thursday 15 August 2013

Airwolf Extended Themes CD1 FINAL TEASERS

Here they are. Twenty two teasers for Airwolf Extended Themes "Main Themes CD1" - your first chance to sample the entire "main theme" material.

While some of the tracks were already previewed on this blog, almost everything has been updated since then, so make sure to check each and every one of them. Highlights:

  • Track 01: a first taste of the ambient intro
  • Track 19: a first ever reveal of the mystery intro part. This is the original opening for the Pilot created by Sylvester Levay which was turned down by Donald P. Bellisario
  • Track 17: showcasing post-Descending Bridge parts that were NOT part of the original on-air version. The Ascending Bridge is one of my proudest moments of the entire CD (Sylvester Levay praised my execution of the horn/trombone staccatos).
  • Track 06: received the heaviest upgrade of all reengineered Airwolf Main Themes EP tracks
  • Track 22: reinterpretation of my first Airwolf Theme cover release dating back to 1997
  • Track 14: waited the longest to be showcased (first "final" version completed mid-2011)

I'll appreciate any comments and questions you might have, so feel free to leave them either in the comments section of this post or on our facebook profile. In particular I'd be interested to know

  • which track you like best so far (and why)
  • what surprised you the most


01 08 [04:25.00] Pilot - Journey to Red Star (TV) (extended) Sly [preview]
02 16 [03:25.00] Pilot - Kafir palace raid + Red Star Test Run Sly [preview]
03 18 [00:34.60] Season 1 - Teaser Sly [preview]
04 12 [04:41.20] Season 1 - Opening/Closing (extended) Sly [preview]
05 23 [00:58.40] Season 1 - Slow main theme Sly [preview]
06 04 [06:35.40] Pilot, Season 1 - Synth theme (extended) Sly [preview]
07 20 [00:33.00] Season 2 - 'SWEET BRITCHES' teaser Ian [preview]
08 02 [00:42.20] Season 2 - 'SWEET BRITCHES'/'FIRESTORM' Intro Ian [preview]
09 02 [04:11.40] Season 2 - 'SWEET BRITCHES'/'FIRESTORM' (extended) - Tribute to Lance LeGault Ian [preview]
10 21 [00:32.00] Season 2 - 'SWEET BRITCHES' epilogue - Tribute to Ernest Borgnine Ian [preview]
11 19 [00:27.60] Season 1 - Closing Sly [preview]
12 17 [00:35.00] Season 2 - 'FIRESTORM' teaser Ian [preview]
13 03 [05:00.00] Season 2 - 'FALLEN ANGEL'/'HX-1' Sly [preview]
14 10 [06:05.00] Season 2 - Aerial (extended) Udi [preview]
15 11 [04:12.60] Season 3 - Opening/Aerial (extended) Sly [preview]
16 01 [06:00.00] Season 2/3 - Generic Closing (extended) Sly [preview]
17 05 [03:40.00] Pilot, Season 3 - Journey to Red Star (Movie)/'EAGLES' aerial (extended) Sly [preview]
18 06 [06:10.40] Pilot, Season 1, Season 2 - Minimalist (extended) Sly [preview]
19 14 [05:16.60] Pilot - Orchestral suite Sly [preview]
20 22 [00:51.00] Pilot - Closing (Movie) Sly [preview]
21 15 [03:25.60] [*BONUS TRACK*] Season 2/3 - Generic Closing (regular length) Sly [preview]
22 13 [04:41.00] [*BONUS TRACK*] Season 1, Season 3 - Special JMS Mix Sly [preview]
Total: [73:03.00]

Tracks 16, 13, 06, 18 featured on Airwolf Main Themes EP (as tracks 01, 02, 03, 04 respectively) have been partially re-recorded, remixed and remastered for this release.

For teasers of CD2 head on to Mark's blog: FINAL TEASERS for CD2 of Airwolf Extended Themes

Thursday 8 August 2013

Final CD1 teasers done

Just a quick note to let you know that I have just finished editing all CD1 teasers and they will be made available early next week. Lots of previously unheard gems coming up. I think it will be well worth the wait.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Road to AET, part 1

Over the course of this blog's lifetime I must have mentioned a couple of times that it took about twenty years for me to get to where we are now. Since I was going to write it down at some point anyway, I thought it might be also interesting for you to learn how it all began. Let's go back in time.

1991 (est.)

Poland was undergoing economic, social and cultural transformation. TV shows from beyond the ocean slowly started to trickle down. It was probably somewhere in 1991 when my neighbour from the fourth floor, Paweł (who influenced my taste in music and sci-fi a lot) told me:

"You know, there's this TV show about this very smart guy. You should watch it, because the theme song is similar to Jarre's "Orient Express". It's called "MacGyver"."

Paweł introduced me to the electronic music of Jean Michel Jarre (whom I also met) a year earlier and I became an instant fan. "MacGyver" theme was also love at first "sight" (actually I do *see* music thanks to my synæsthesia).

I got my first keyboard (a Casio MT-640) in September 1990 and as far as I remember whenever I heard something I liked I wanted to be able to play it myself. "MacGyver" theme was where my passion for performing TV show music started.

At that time I was still very young and I was naively assuming that basically *any* music could be purchased on a cassette tape. Even though my attempts to get a hold of a "MacGyver soundtrack" (that I presumed existed) kept on failing, I was persistent.

Spring 1994

Can you imagine my surprise when finally my question "do you happen to have music from MacGyver?" was answered with a definite "YES" three years later? It was in an old camping van converted to a cassette store located at the market approx. 200 meters from where I lived at that time. Boy, was I excited to finally make some progress. The theme was available on the "Koto... plays Science-Fiction Movie Themes" (please visit for more information about this album)

My excitement wore off a little bit having discovered it was a cover album done in a style (called "spacesynth" or "space disco") that was not to my liking at that time. That being said, have a quick look at the track listing:

Do you see what I did here?

Yes. Track 3 was my first exposure to the Airwolf theme ever, and to the words "Airwolf" and "Levay" in general. My initial reaction was far from what you would expect coming from me. To put it mildly: I did not like it. I found it to be a boring and repetitive piece of music and one of the least interesting pieces on the album (even though I found the main melody to be quite catchy). I hope to get a time machine one day, go back to 1994 and show my past-self from 1994 the "Airwolf Extended Themes" cover signed by Sylvester Levay. The look on that little bastard's face will be priceless!

Fall 1994

Several months later I was browsing the TV guide. A broadcast schedule of "Polsat" for Wednesdays caught my eye: 8:00pm: "Airwolf". "Ah, that boring track" I thought instantly (please keep in mind that at that moment I had no idea what the show was about - I only knew Koto's cover version of the main theme and the name of the original composer). After short consideration, I decided that since I already heard the theme music I should perhaps at least see what the show is about. Especially given how far Koto's rendition of "MacGyver" was from the original I thought it deserved a chance.

Now that I think of it, it was one of the most important decisions in my entire life so far.

I immediately noticed that the actual theme music is simply another league. I also loved the premise of the show, the characters and obviously, the helicopter. But the main theme did something to my brain. I'm not sure how I arrived at this habit but since the airing of fourth episode I would record on tape ALL main theme versions that would appear in every episode. I would do that twice: on the original airing on Wednesday evenings and then once again during Thursday reruns around 12 pm and 3 pm (on second viewing I knew pretty much exactly when the music is actually going to start). I would always record the teaser trailer, opening theme, all incarnations of the main theme within the episode and the closing credits. All my tapes were labeled with a date (always a Wednesday).

Recording gear that I used. Photo from here
Between 1991 and 1994 there were a couple of TV shows with theme music that I enjoyed. "Airwolf", however was a different beast: none of the other shows I watched featured the main theme *inside* the episode. Not only "Airwolf" had this, but the main theme versions were different pretty much in every episode.

The surprise

Polsat broadcasts were far from being perfect: the episodes were not aired in order and some were missing altogether ('MIND OF THE MACHINE' or 'THE HUNTED'). Luckily the shuffling would only occur within the confines of a season, with one notable exception. Polsat was somewhere around the first quarter of Season 2, it must have been February or March 1995. It was Wednesday around 8:00 pm, the commercial break was over and I was patiently (right...) waiting with my fingers ready on the "Rec" and "Play" buttons on my recording gear. To my surprise, instead of the Ascending Bridge used in Season 2 teaser trailers I heard Season 1 teaser music. Polsat aired a "lost" Season 1 episode: 'BITE OF THE JACKAL'. It was a real treat for me, main-theme-wise. Being an early episode it contained many interesting variations of the main theme: the unusual Ascending Bridge orchestral arrangement during Archangel pickup; the mid-episode start-up with unusual ending (included on Airwolf Extended Themes obviously!); the extended finale aerial with weird sound effect near the end. But the biggest excitement for me was to hear the closing credits (please note that by that time I hadn't seen 'DADDY'S GONE A HUNT'N' yet): not only they were done in minimalist fashion (no main theme melody, muffled drums), they were done in the E-key (which was only used for Season 1 teasers) and when I heard the second verse I was pretty much like "OMG a saxophone! No way!". I was so excited that I woke up around 5-6am the next morning just to listen to the recording a couple more times before going to school.

The birthday gift

Another memorable moment happened on my birthday in 1995. On May 10th Polsat aired the third season episode "Eagles", which featured an aerial with a unique synthesizer + orchestral version of the main theme, with some additional brass staccatos during the Ascending Bridge. Neither this version nor said staccatos were ever used in the show again. It was the best birthday gift I could possibly get at that time.

The snort

I mentioned earlier that I pretty much naively assumed that there is a soundtrack release available for everything. It must have been somewhere in 1995: my Aunt from the U.S. was on the phone and I spoke briefly to her. I asked if she could check for "Airwolf" soundtrack release in the U.S. As I was asking her, my elder sister was passing by and commented on what she'd just heard with a "yeah, right" patronizing type snort. Well, guess I showed her: not only I have the soundtrack after 18 years - there's also my name on it!

To be continued...

Sunday 17 February 2013

Pilot Closing Theme (UPDATED)

UPDATE 19.02.2013: Scroll to the bottom of the post for new information.

High time for another preview! Today, as requested on our facebook profile, track pre-prod #22 (as of today CD1 track 20): Airwolf Main Theme - Pilot - Closing.

Compared to other renditions of the main theme, this one's quite a different beast. It has no drums, no famous bass pattern, it's considerably slower and only a first couple of notes of the main theme phrases are played.

While this track was used for closing titles in the Pilot episode only (both TV and movie versions) it was frequently used in Season 1 during the "journey to the lair" sequences, albeit with one small difference - the Pilot version had an additional synth string sound doubling the main theme lead sound.

This track appeared quite late on the track list. When CD1 was pretty much fixed at 17 tracks, Mark approached me to do it. After initial hesitation I agreed and... ended up producing three other tracks instead. Citing schedule constraints I decided not to pursue it.

The real reason of my reluctance towards doing "Pilot - Closing" was that I knew that the dreamy spacious main lead sound was the same as in "Pilot, Season 1 - Synth theme (extended)" (EP track 03, AET CD1 track 06, pre-prod #04). I was never happy about how it came out and I was already after 10+ (ten) reworks of said track. I knew that if I came up with something better for "Pilot - Closing" I wouldn't be able to live with myself without reworking "Pilot, Season 1 - Synth theme (extended)" again to include the new improved sound, and I didn't want to go through yet another rework of it.

I decided to pursue it anyway for the sake of completeness and for the sake of hitting 22 track mark for the CD. I also realized that in the end I'd rather do the rework of track pre-prod #04 than remain dissatisfied with what I had. Obviously it all paid off - "Pilot, Season 1 - Synth theme (extended)" lead sound is better than ever and miles ahead of the previous version.

One last thing: I liked the slow main theme so much that I reused a couple of seconds of it as an additional intro for "Pilot, Season 3 - Journey to Red Star (Movie)/'EAGLES' aerial (extended)" - much like it was done in 'TO SNARE A WOLF'.


UPDATE 19.02.2013: Last week or so I found out that the TV and Movie versions of the Pilot Closing theme are slightly different. The TV version was shortened to accomodate credits length (the last bass note is too "sudden") while the Movie is unedited (so it keeps playing over the "Belisarius" logo). My rendition was unfortunately based on the shortened version, but no reason for worries anymore. On Sunday, after a week of hesitation I decided to rerecord the track so that it now matches the full, unedited Movie version and the ending sounds more natural. This also adds approximately three seconds to CD1 playtime.

Thursday 31 January 2013

A Saturday to remember

Last week the unthinkable happened: on Saturday, January 26th I finally met the man who messed up my brainwaves 18 years ago - the original composer of the Airwolf Main Theme: Sylvester Levay. All thanks to Martin Grant of the Airwolf Documentary for which he gave an extensive interview with many interesting tidbits.
Mark J. Cairns, Sylvester Levay, Jan Michal Szulew in front of Sylvester Levay's studio
The following might sound cliché, but seriously, Sylvester is a wonderful host and a very flamboyant guy. We (Mark and me - Airwolf Themes; Martin, Marcus and Per - Airwolf Documentary) spent an entire day together in his studio on the outskirts of Munich and got a real kick out of it. Sly has really surprised us with how much he actually remembers about the main theme which he wrote 29 years ago. A copy of CD1 that I gave to Sly was given the "ultimate audition" - i.e. using his sound system in the studio. We mostly went through the orchestral tracks and Sly praised my execution of brass parts (specifically lead trumpets and horn staccatos in ascending bridges).

After the final notes of "Journey to Red Star (Movie version)"
The last track we auditioned was obviously the big orchestral main theme from the pilot episode. When we were leaving for the interview Sly gave me his final verdict:
and the final verdict is in...
"This is serious s#!t"

This was a truly amazing, exciting and an unforgettable weekend; I never actually imagined this would happen and if someone told me back in 1994 when I first heard the Airwolf Theme (which I found utterly boring at that time as it was Koto's cover version!) that I would someday meet its creator... you know. I don't think my 12-year old brain would dare to comprehend it.

"Great work!"
Thanks to:
Sylvester Levay and his family for being wonderful hosts. And for the incredible Weißwurst!
Mark J. Cairns for taking care of the logistics for me
Martin Grant for arranging for this to happen
Mövenpick Airport Munich hotel staff for making the best scrambled eggs I had in my entire life.

Please check Airwolf Documentary and Airwolf Themes blogs for related information about this event.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Minor CD1 tracklist changes

As promised by the "subject to change without notice" disclaimer a couple of days after announcing the CD1 tracklist we made some minor track order changes, mostly related to Season 1:
  • "Pilot, Season 3 - Journey to Red Star (Movie)/'EAGLES' aerial (extended)" is now moved way down to the latter half of the CD (after "Season 2/3 - Generic Closing (extended)")
  • Season 1 tracks are significantly reordered
Also the track durations have been aligned to the 75 frames per second Red Book CD standard.

Go to the AET CD1 tracklist for details.

Track titles are still subject to change (their musical content won't though).