Movie Music - A Rant

Like many American music enthusiasts, I studied classical piano in my younger years but really only had the interest for more popular-oriented orchestral music like film and video game soundtracks, which combined all manner of "concert hall instruments" with synthesizers, drumkit and electronic percussion, guitars, bass, what have you - a true mashup that is somehow much more tacky than it sounds. But while I liked some of these themes and scores enough to listen to them separately, I usually had no interest in their clumsy application to a film, usually with obvious edits and maximum volume to completely destroy any chance of you noticing how subtle they aren't. Even worse when the film is about some non-Western subject, and the music takes on awkward non-Western instrumentation for the sake of boxing the audience about the ears, screaming "Listen you! We're not in AMERICA any more!"

All this is building up to something, and that's the curious conflict of Avatar. See it - it's probably $12 in theaters for 3D but it's worthwhile for an immersive, probably revolutionary visual effects experience that successfully suspends my disbelief in many moments. The effects are simply that flashy, but with a certain amount of subtlety that makes it all the more convincing. But the less said about the atrocious script, riddled with Action/SF cliches, the better. The less said about the pan-indigenous mashup that is the alien race the Na'vi, with their 10 ft height, feline faces, dreadlocks, accents that are somewhere between southeast Asia and Kenya, etc, etc, etc, the better. The less said about the heavy-handed but still vague environmental metaphors that also have the time to pick up a dash of fantastical reverse-assimilation stories like Dances with the Last of the Samurai etc, etc, etc, the better. But I shall not be silenced on the subject of the music which is so explosively terrible and doesn't even provide a basic function of distracting from bad dialogue. The perpetrator here is James Horner, whose fascination with taking a folk instrument and beating an audience to death with it is well known thanks to the (for some reason) million selling Titanic soundtrack. However since ethnicity is here more ambiguous, Horner's score draws on every continent in a synthesizer's "World Instrument Section," mixing "Airy Panflutes" with "Warm South African Vocals," "East Asian Lutes" with "Oriental Percussion Kit." (These are actual names of synth presets on one of my programs. We are SO post racial...) Actually these recordings probably fat-paid a BUNCH of musicians but boy those sessions must've been boring.

Although I can't be sure; is it more sad that scores like this exist, continuing Western art and popular music's fascination with the "exotic other" that has early documentation with what was long known as the "Local Color" phenomenon? The phrase is used in classical textbooks, describing the decisions of composers like Mozart or Puccini for using imported percussion and pentatonic melodies in operas set in Turkey and China, and it is rarely used as a complement, since it usually reflects only a superficial familiarity with the source instrumentation or melody and some show of coercion to align it with the western orchestra. Or is it more sad that scores like this exist BECAUSE over the past century of Hollywood's fascination with and dramatization of the "other," composers have established particular timbral and melodic cliches that completely bastardize the context they were stolen from?


12/27 Show Location Changed, Cankickers added

Due to an unlikely coincidence our little show grow out of the Infoshop. The Can Kickers were due to play another show that night that got canceled when the series' booker was sacked. (Bummer too, the Sundazed at BAR series brought some of the widest range of fringe music New Haven has to offer...)

So the folks in charge of this show contacted them about combining the two shows, and they agreed. The flier time is still 5:30 and the location is the Fucking Discovery Zone, which will be temporarily heated by space heater and whiplash punks for the sake of fingers not arthritically impaired by cold...

So, to review:

5:30 PM
An Historic
Mark Leonard
Mike Bird
Filthy Still

Fucking Discovery Zone.
Vegan Potluck.
Donations for touring bands.


Erratic Bits of Activity

I write, mostly for fun. More often than not the pieces are fiction, short stories and fragments thereof, but my curiosity fuels quite a journalistic streak in me, and has for years. Currently I write an occasional review for the Avant-Garde Metal(http://www.avantgarde-metal.com) webzine. At the end of this month and early next month, my first interviews will be published, with John LaMacchia of Candiria/Spylacopa, Toby Driver of Kayo Dot, and Mirai Kawashima of Sigh. I managed to get some pretty excellent answers to very particular questions, and all I need to do is brush up on some basic HTML formatting.

An Historic is playing a set on a show at the Elm City Infoshop (810 State St.) on December 27th. Mark Leonard, Mike Bird, and Filthy Still will also be playing. The show will start at 5:30, originally to finish in time for the now canceled Can Kickers show at BAR, but someone's working to try and get them another location. Acoustic solo accordion, with original songs, instrumentals and covers, as well as various strains of folk-punk.

My trio Broadcloth, after a very successful free-improv debut at the December 12th Uncertainty Music series, is hard at work on some new improvisational exploits, in addition to compositions by each of us (and whoever else of our friends we can solicit music from.). We have a gig at the Stone (yes, that one) on Sunday, February 28th at 8PM, and this set promises to be a sleek beast, if recent rehearsals are any indication. If any composers happen to read this and are interested in writing compositions or improv structures for a trio of Cello, Voice and Accordion (with marginal recorder skills) please let me know: (weillwedance@gmail.com)

Finally there's a decent chance that I'll have two gigs on the same day January 29th. I'll be playing a new piano composition along to the Modern Dance Ensemble performance of the Neighborhood Music School. Later that night the Elm City Guitar 4tet +3 will play a show in celebration of the release of the CD "Crash." That's Bob Gorry, Jeff Cedrone, Chris Venter and Tom Gogola - Guitars, John Venter, Bari Sax and Bass Clarinet, Steve Zieminski - Drums and percussion, and myself on Accordion and clarinet. This is a raucous group full of energy at its best, and provides some imposing moments as well as moments of real clarity. The show isn't yet confirmed, however.

Less stressful holidays to everyone.


Briefly, a really busy weekend...

All you wonderful folks have three whole chances to check out some cool stuff I'm involved with this weekend!

Friday, 12/11 - 1 year anniversary Show of the Fucking Discovery Zone, featuring An Historic, The Book Slave, Colorguard, Baby Crazy, Derrick, and Bela Reese. Should be tons of fun - starts at 7 PM.

Saturday - 12/12 - I'm in an improv trio tentatively known as Broadcloth featuring myself on Accordion and Recorders, Anne Rhodes doing vocals and Nathan Bontrager on Cello. Carl Testa will also do a solo bass set - starts at 8 PM

Sunday - 12/13 - A gig with the Yale Tango Orchestra, details STILL tba. But it starts at 4 PM.


The world's most epic juggling act...

As usual, so much going on at any given moment, and that's rather the way I like it.

I'm less than a day after the final performance of Fiddler on the Roof, which after all the stress and hype that I built up for it in my head, turned out to be relatively fun. It was my first time ever playing with a conductor - since there really aren't all that many opportunities for the average accordionist to do so, even in the classical world, as many pieces for accordion are solo or for small, conductorless groups. And as usual, my ears are better than my eyes, so it's usually much easier for me to follow cues based on what other people are playing, rather than by counting rests and what not. All things considered, I think I've managed alright, even with some true "deer-in-headlights" moments of panic. And to my ears, the accordion sounds so good in doubling with various combinations of instruments - and the score provides ample opportunity for me to play with just about every instrument - useful to me in picking up timbral ideas as a
composer. With that said, I'm not sure if I'd ever want to play with an ensemble like that again - it took pretty much all of my time away from the writing and practicing I wanted to be doing at most times. However, if ANYONE EVER wanted to play Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 1 (op 24), that's a challenge I would leap to - if it is in fact possible to play on a Stradella bass accordion. The accordion part is largely inaudible on the Abbado recording I own.

As I've usually never ceased to mention, I'm appearing in a small role on the upcoming Sigh disc, "Scenes from Hell." The band has finally finished the master (by James Murphy, no less, who is apparently a wunderkind at this sort of thing), and announced a date for the release - January 19th. I've heard early masters and this promises to be pretty much the coolest album ever. I can't say anything the hype machine hasn't already said but seriously - full orchestration,
compiled piecemeal by fans and friends across the world, including yours truly on Bb clarinet, bass clarinet and accordion - this thing is gonna be awesome. This morning, Sigh's posted a track from the album on their Myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/sighjapan) but unfortunately the mandatory Myspace compression doesn't really do the mastering any favors. Still,
it's worth checking out, while waiting for the final release. The album art is especially stunning, too – some of the usual grim depictions of demons, violence, carnage, but done in what appears to be oil paint rather than on a computer. The artist is Eliran Kantor (http://www.elirankantor.com/).

I recently had the chance to meet with vocalist Anne Rhodes (http://www.annerhodes.net/) about the long-promised song cycle based on the poetry of Rob Talbot. Anne did a master’s thesis on the process of collaborating with composers at Wesleyan, and while I have written for voice before, this song cycle is the most in-depth work of that kind that I have yet attempted, incorporating some extended techniques and improvisation alongside some more traditional attempts at melody and texture. Meeting with her was extremely informative, as she was able to give me some more broad ideas about vocal technique and capacity in addition to her specific abilities. We had been talking about this meeting for awhile, and I feel as though this is the last step I needed to take before completing the work. I’m hoping it will be finished by year’s end, and that there will be a performance next spring. I have most of the musicians lined up, too.

Finally, I’ve been working away at some stuff for An Historic. There’s a new album in the works that will contain mostly solo material with minimal overdubs – the yet-untitled album will contain five new original songs meditating lyrically and musically on apocalyptic themes, and a few covers/arrangements of some folk songs as well. Details and format will be forthcoming. An Historic will be performing in the near and far future as well – in December, at the 1-year Anniversary show for the Fucking Discovery Zone, alongside some great local CT acts like the Dead Uncles and Bookslave, among others. Details and time TBA. Finally, next spring I’ll be helping to book a couple of fun Canadians from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and probably playing alongside them too. Fairyboy and the Official Suckers (http://www.myspace.com/fairyboyfairyboy) and Mogli (http://www.myspace.com/moglidavid) will be coming through in March, and Story (http://www.myspace.com/storysong) and Cud E (http://www.myspace.com/cudeastbound) will be coming through in April. It’s still a ways off, and details will be coming soon. Lastly, I’ve been in talks with Steven Asetta and the rest of the horn section of Goose Lane, another great, innovative CT band with some stunning horn arrangements, about the possibility of realizing the basically-completed An Historic album “Ephemeral Stampede,” both in the studio and for some shows. This is still probably a ways off, but we’re all pretty excited about the prospect. Stay tuned for a truly epic juggling act!


Recent Wonder

Yesterday, I played for the first time at Firehouse 12 with the Erasmus Quintet, a subheading of the NHIC that features Jeff Cedrone and Bob Gorry playing guitars, Paul McGuire on Soprano and Alto Saxophones, Steve Zieminski playing Electro Vibraphone and myself on Accordion and Clarinet. This group at its best plays highy charismatic, vaguely tonal avant-garde chamber music, pulsing and many-headed. I've had the pleasure of seeing music at that space before, and playing there is an even greater experience - Firehouse 12 has a fairly intimate listening setup but one that feels like it almost encourages careful dialogue between listener and performer. Or something. The gig went quite well for much of the set, and we had a fairly good turnout, too. Set two was a different group, the Mayhem Circus Electric with some nice rhythm section work by Steve and Pete Brunelli, and the added presence of Nate Trier and John Venter on keys and bass clarinet respectively. Hopefully this day turned out some recording-worthy items for somewhere down the line. Both groups are relatively young and have yet to be documented adequately.

More recently, the acoustic offshoot of the NHIC met earlier this evening, with myself, Nathan Bontrager and Gabriel Bolanos returning, joined by Paul McGuire with saxes, recorder and shaker and Nick DiMaria on trumpet. We played for roughly an hour and a half, doing some standard NHIC exercises, some slightly tweaked for our grouping. The session produced, to me, some really extraordinary sounds and playing. We were in a a fairly enclosed space and the sheer force of three horns blowing into the center of that room produced some fairly intense textures. We also had some softer moments that produced tons of overtones that are still ringing in my ears several hours later. With acoustic instuments you have just as wide if not wider of a palette of sounds and dynamics with which to appreciate them. We really dug into that tonight, and also turned to our voices and various means of percussion for a final exercise. Several of us think that on the strength of the first two workshops we have reason to try and build momentum towards a concert. We're hoping to recruit a few more into the fold, and perhaps we'll end up having some compositions for the group as well. Stay tuned for more details.

I'm also REALLY digging this most recent Saul Williams release, "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust." It's got some really insane production by Williams, Trent Reznor and a few others, and classically great wordplay by Williams, including one really intense piece called "The Ritual" with many references to Richard Wright's Native Son. No suprise to me that this direct lyrical engagement of the subject of race, even accompanied by head-shaking electronic syncopation, apparently alienated some of Williams' fan base.


New Stuff Soon!

Been working so fast recently, and of course not on what I should be working on.

A large chunk of the 2nd movement of "Passing a Penny," the song cycle of Rob Talbot's Poetry, has been completed - leaving 3 completed in draft and one still in limbo somewhere. I'm hoping to have this performed along with a few near complete solo accordion pieces and possibly one more at an Uncertainty Series sometime next spring.

I've also finished the recording of the next G. Zarapanecko e.p. "Glitterdammerung." Production and mastering may take a wee bit longer but it's definitely in the pipelines. Format Undetermined. Check out the first G. Zarapanecko release "Zaratozom and Magnus" at Bandcamp for now, and hopefully with a physical release in the future:

Also begun work again on a cello-and-accordion duet that has been kicking arond for awhile. Details forthcoming.

Finally, the 4 songs that will probably make a future An-Historic EP (with some bonuses, I expect,) are nearly complete, lyrics and everything. It will take me awhile to learn them now but many of these came out of extended accordion improvs that turned into riffs and melodies, so I've already got them in some form.

Seriously that's it. There are a lot of projects in the works for after that, but at the moment they've been put to bed.


obligatory promotional bollucks - NHIC @ Firehouse 12

If you live in New Haven and you like weird music, please check this out. Somehow I might be the only one who thinks that the NYTimes article is somewhat unflattering, making us seem like we're a bunch of white dudes philosophically and musically stuck in the past (I hesitate to address that fact directly...) but it will help with publicity, anyway. And the shows promise to be among the more tightly organized of NHIC performances. Both groups participated in some form or another in this year's New Haven Ideat Village festival most recently, and are drawing on some intriguing compositional and improvisational ideas to what is hopefully a rewarding end.

and now, the formalized promotional material....

The New Haven Improvisers Collective will be performing at Firehouse12 on Saturday, November 7th with sets at 8:30 and 10pm.
This performance will celebrate the release of the New CD, Inflection

There was a very nice article in the New York times about NHIC.


There were some strong reviews of Inflection in the New Haven Advocate and the Hartford Courant.


The CD is now available at the following outlets.

Cutler's Records, 27 Broadway, New Haven www.cutlers.com

NHIC Records www.nhic-records.com

CD BABY http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/NewHavenImprovisersCollective

For the performance at Firehouse12, two different NHIC groups will perform.

The 8:30 set features the Erasmus Quartet and its hypnotic electro chamber minimalism. $15 includes second set.
The 10:00 set features Mayhem Circus Electric with some lowdown avant-groove jazz. $10 for set two only.
Tickets and Information at http://firehouse12.com/events.asp?id=70911


Hey wow I'm busy...

Busy both in brain and body.

Had a great debut gig as An Historic, despite my nerves. The crowd was fun and willing to sing along. I'll be doing another one in early November at the Elm City Infoshop - details forthcoming. In the past week I've also written almost four complete songs (with certain details still nebulous), which is really fast for me. I've even made it through the stage where I hate them and then revise many of them extensively until they meet my satisfaction. Who knows how they'll sound when they turn out?

Also, yesterday morning was the first meeting of an acoustic sub-grouping of the New Haven Improvisers Collective. We had Nathan Bontrager playing cello, Gabriel Bolanos playing acoustic guitar, Anne Rhodes singing, Nate Trier playing accordion and Euphonium, and myself playing accordion and clarinet. Everybody responded well to the thought and we hope to do it again sometime - the lack of drums or electric guitars meant that we had to rely on different strengths than what work in the NHIC at large, and it's definitely going to be some interesting exploring.

Fiddler on the Roof approaches, and damned if I'm not a little nervous...

Finally, I've been thinking a bit about revisions...I like the whole Kerouac idea of "imagine it better and move on," in terms of a creative output, but I'm also a little too neurotic to just learn from my mistakes and not revisit the piece itself. Currently I've begun radically restructuring a lot of drafts of compositions that never made the light of day, like the septet version of "Devil Horn Man" as well as "Smiling, Laughing and Taking Pictures," among others. There are several more fragments and fallacies from my early years that I've been wanting to re-compose, in a sense, almost as though I'm my own arranger. But I realize that after a point that can make you stagnant, and can be an easy way out rather than challenging yourself for new ideas...if anybody has any thoughts about this, I'd love to hear them.


An Historic Debut set and "My Czerny"

On October 16th at the Fucking Discovery Zone in New Haven, An Historic will play a debut solo set, alongside Bookslave, Wingnut Dishwashers Union, Todi Stronghands and Starla! Ubiquitous, in an all acoustic show. The doors open at 6:30 and there is a vegan potluck - bring cash for acts touring from as far away as Canada. If you need the address, the internet will tell you.

For the occasion, I hunkered down and finished up the oft-discussed demo "My Czerny." A limited run of handmade physical CDs will be available at the show, and the music will be up on my bandcamp page in the next few days:

After this performance I'll be disappearing into my hermit hole to practice the hell out of the Fiddler on the Roof score which is crazy hard, except to play with the Erasmus Quintet on November 7th at Firehouse 12. I'm also hoping to get together with some acoustic NHICers for somewhat different strain of improv, though details are quite nebulous at best.


Creative Commons License
My Czerny by An Historic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at gzarapanecko.bandcamp.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://myspace.com/adammatlock.


Two upcoming Gigs and Bandcamp!

On October 16th An Historic will be playing a solo set at a folk-punk show at the Fucking Discovery Zone in New Haven, CT. Other performers and time TBA.

On November 7th I'll be playing with The Erasmus Quintet as part of a back-to-back doubleheader showcasing two New Haven Improvisers Collective groups. I'll be playing the first set, which starts at 8:30 PM. The Mayhem Circus Electric, (which had a debut performance as an open jam during this year's Ideat Village festival) will be playing the second set, at 10 PM. Info and tickets at: http://firehouse12.com/events.asp?id=70911&seriesid=54271

(Earlier that week, look in the NY Times for an article about the NHIC, due to be published on November 1st.)

Additionally, I'll be playing Accordion in the pit orchestra of Sacred Heart Academy's (Hamden) production of Fiddler on the Roof on November 13th, 14th at 7:30 and November 15th at 2:00. It'll be a high-school production but this is a Catholic academy with a significant arts budget, so who knows?

Finally, you can listen to the entire debut album from G. Zarapanecko streaming (and pay to download) at my new Bandcamp page, here: http://gzarapanecko.bandcamp.com/
I didn't realize how this site was setup, so despite the focus suggested in the url, this will probably be the Bandcamp home for all of my projects, unless I get suddenly quite OCD about setting up multiple pages...


Adam the Session Player/Collaborator

I'm appearing on two upcoming releases, both in very different settings and playing very different roles.

First is Elm City Guitar 4tet + 3, with "Crash." A grouping of the New Haven Improvisers Collective that has so far met only once in concert, last December. The recording is an edit of the live recording made from this performance. Featuring Tom Gogola, Chris Venter, Jeff Cedrone, Bob Gorry - Guitars, John Venter, Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinet, Steve Zieminski - Drums, Narration, and myself on Clarinet and Accordion. Due to be released on NHIC Records on September 15th. (Look also for another recording with another lineup, Inflection, also out this fall.)

Second is Sigh, with "Scenes from Hell." I'm much less audible on this release, coming January 2010, but a part of a large "studio orchestra," contributing bass clarinet, clarinet and accordion on 5 tracks. Sigh is a pioneering metal band utilizing complex orchestration and psychedelic keyboards and production sounds across doom, black and thrash metal backdrops - this is the first album to feature an almost entirely live orchestral palette, (perhaps one or two parts are backed on synth) which includes trumpet, trombone, tuba, flute/piccolo, clarinet, bass clarinet, and a string quartet. There might be an oboe in there, too, and fulltime band member Mikannibal contributes alto sax at points. Suffice it to say the final master is REALLY crushing and dynamic, featuring some of the most accomplished and focused songwriting of the group's history.

Also in the process of trying to form a local group for playing acoustic jazz, gypsy jazz, etc. We'll see how well this goes, but early meetings have been promising.

A Progress Post

In brief:

G. Zarapanecko - Zaratozom and Magnus is due out at the end of August, after finally getting a duplication order together that I can afford...

I'm also real close to finishing the An Historic demo tape, "My Czerny," which will hopefully be ready for self-release soon. Two more tracks to finish!!! The title references Carl Czerny, who (any piano student will tell you) wrote some fairly boring but essential exercises to build technique. The tunes on this demo are, in essence, my equivalent - songs that I love playing, but have also helped me to build some basic skills for the type of accordion I play. Plus, it'll have a few originals, too. Time and money both have been restrictions upon the completion of An Historic's "Ephemeral Stampede," which I still hope to record at Dirt Floor Studios in Chester, CT. But it is coming, dammit...

Progress on the release of "Intravene, Pt. 1" has stalled temporarily, as I have only so many synapses that can fire simultaneously and I'm a wee overwhelmed. It's coming, though...

-I'm also working on a few scattered longer-form works. The song cycle based on Rob Talbot's poetry is coming along, about halfway done, and I'm still hoping to have it finished at least in draft by the end of August, hopefully with a performance (and possibly recording?) to follow before the year's end.
-Additionally, I'm working on another "Drama Mit Musik," which will probably exist first as a multi-tracked recording. Using some of the techniques and instrumentation of Japanese Noh theatre to illustrate a modern supernatural tale of occult warfare, the piece will be scored for narrator/vocalist/recorder, as well as a backing choir of four (serving the function of a classical Greek "chorus" that has been adopted by Balinese and feudal Japanese parents) that also handles percussion.
-I'm hoping to finish revisions of "Smiling, Laughing and Taking Pictures," soon, in a way that will hopefully be presentable with the resources I've currently got available.
-I've also begun sketching and working out some more vocal techniques for the other two parts of "Intravene," which I hope to perform in full next year.
-I've also begun tentative work on another G. Zarapanecko release, an EP entitled "For Accordion." Not much can be said about this yet, but this will be studio music largely created by accordion and tweaked heavily in post. More to come...!


G. Zarapenecko - "Zaratozom and Magnus

the first official release by G. Zarapanecko, Zaratozom and Magnus, is completed and awaiting a few logistical hurdles before release, hopefully by the end of the month! Here's my attempt at a promotional blurb:

Dark, improv/ambient-oriented electronica with lots of processed acoustic instruments, completely self-recorded and produced. One of the tracks, Apocalypstick, posted on my myspace page a while ago is featured on the album, along with 5 others, to make a 45 minute aural journey through tempestuous inner space, absorbing ideas of musical collage, overtone harmony and a love of Alice Coltrane.

(so I'm not very good at this sort of thing.)

Creative Commons License
Zaratozom and Magnus by G. Zarapanecko is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Additionally, I'll soon be releasing (via bandcamp and a limited run self-made CD release) the solo performance I gave in March at Neverending Books in New Haven. Coming SOON!!!