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Upgrade Soul from Lion Forge by Ezra Claytan Daniels is expanding past its comic book roots. Later this month it will get a soundtrack from Alexis Gideon on vinyl. Based on the premise of the comic, I can only image the haunting score that will accompany it. The Upgrade Soul app, designed by Erik Loyer originally came out in 2012 complete with 3D picture-box effects, extra features, and unlockable content. It's getting a relaunch to coincide with the soundtrack's release.

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.

“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.”

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Gideon created the music for the app intending it to flow and complement its components. It sets a high bar for what digital comics are capable of. The soundtrack will be available to the public outside of the app for the first time from Chicago's FPE Records. You can get it in two formats: a regular black vinyl edition and a limited deluxe edition featuring translucent orange vinyl, red marketings, and a signed print by Daniels. There are only 100 copies of the limited edition available. The standard version retails for $18 and the limited edition, available only through FPE Records' site costs $45.

“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."

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“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 includes the first story's chapter as a free download. The entire story can be unlocked for $6.99 through the month of October. The price will go up to $7.99 in November.

Upgrade Soul was originally conceived for this format; when you put on your headphones and start swiping through the panels, and Alexis’ score punctuates every interaction, it’s just an incredibly immersive reading experience. There are several moments where my already creepy story becomes almost unbearably tense,” said Daniels. “We set out to create a digital comic that was first and foremost reverent to the comics medium, and I’m so proud of the final result.”

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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