Out of Place

Out of Place is the third album in the trilogy Another Place. All three albums (along with the first in another set) were released on Halloween 2017.

Each album in Another Place with a theme related to location: A City is a Sound, Alone in a Big Place, and Out of Place.

Here’s the idea behind Out of Place:

Sometimes finding yourself unexpectedly in a strange, new place can be oddly welcoming. This album deals with that experience, from a woman who’s chosen to live her life in one sterile airport hotel after another, to a woman who wakes from a blackout in the middle of a desert, to a woman and man who fall in love at first sight at the scene of a multiple murder.

Includes a 49-page illustrated digital booklet, with short fiction to accompany each track. The booklet comes in two versions, one hi-res for use on computers, and the other optimized for portable devices.

Here’s a sample track called “The Nouveau Baroque”:

 

The digital booklet for Out of Place is extensive. Each track gets a title page featuring an evocative photograph, followed by a piece of short fiction, ten in all. Here are a few of the images from the booklet, along with one of the stories.

AP 03 OOP Booklet PDF DAP 03 OOP Booklet PDF E

Here’s one of the pieces of short fiction, followed by a couple more images.

F3 AP 03 OOP book story only CORRECT SIZED PDF 09AF3 AP 03 OOP book story only CORRECT SIZED PDF 09BF3 AP 03 OOP book story only CORRECT SIZED PDF 09CF3 AP 03 OOP book story only CORRECT SIZED PDF 09DF3 AP 03 OOP book story only CORRECT SIZED PDF 09EF3 AP 03 OOP book story only CORRECT SIZED PDF 09F

And a couple of final images.

AP 03 OOP Booklet PDF C

AP 03 OOP Booklet PDF L

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Upcoming Album: Avant

My next album, Avant, will be released sometime this year.

The album is themed around avant garde artists, especially those of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mostly dadaists and surrealists. The idea, though, is to explore beyond the traditional lineup of famous names to artists–mostly women and people of color–who are often neglected. So while Tzara and Duchamp and Dali will be there, so will Hannah Höch, Simone Yoyotte, and Zhao Xhou.

Musically, a project like this could fall into a kind of romantic nostalgia for a bygone time, but I’m staying away period sounds for the most part. Instead of portraying the era when the artists lived, what I want to do is evoke the energy with which they invented a new, modern world as they made their art–energy that still leaps out at you from the page or the canvas, from the plastic object or the built structure.

As much as I’m having fun writing the music, I’m enjoying the research at least as much. There are so many incredible artists whose work I either haven’t seen before, or have only experienced in a limited way–details to follow.

The current draft cover art is below.

AVANT cover

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A City is a Sound: The Video

The title track from A City is a Sound now has a video, which can be viewed on Youtube or on Vimeo.

 

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Creating Album Art for “A City is a Sound”

When I created the album art for A City is a Sound, I wanted to do the same thing visually that I was trying to do musically in the tracks: evoke the spirit of the great American cities of the 1970s, but with an updated aesthetic. That meant using images from the era, but giving them a slightly more modern look.

125Street

Original image by Erik Calonius on the left, my version on the right with adjustments to color and corrections of perspective.

There was another reason I wasn’t going to use pristine images from the 1970s.

My source for images was the Documerica project, a program sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency. About seventy photographers, some of whom went on to great fame, were instructed to “photographically document subjects of environmental concern” from about 1972 to 1977. They interpreted that mandate very broadly, taking pictures of a wide range of things, from small towns, to natural beauty, to my particular favorite: big cities.

Detail from the image above.

Detail from the image above.

Many of the Documerica images are more than mere documents–they’re great art. But the color in a lot of the photographs isn’t up to par, possibly because the images have degraded over time. The ones I picked were gorgeous, but I wasn’t going to use them as they were.

Original image by Danny Lyon, left, and my altered version, right.

Original image by Danny Lyon, left, and my altered version, right. I’ve altered the color, made the horizon horizontal, and dispensed with that goddamn pole.

So I tried to restore their original vitality–or at least, what I imagined their original vitality might have been like.

A detail from the image above.

A detail from the image above.

In some cases, after trying to make the image more vivid, I went further, adding new elements to help integrate it into my own project. I did this, for instance, with the image of a young girl standing in front of an abandoned building, below.

Landscape

Another original image by Danny Lyon on the left, and my altered version on the right.

Landscape

Finally, my version with artifcat added (the yellow band) and the words ” A City is a Sound” superimposed.

Here’s an image by Wil Blanche where, again, I went beyond mere restoration.

Image by Wil Blanche of construction on the Battery Park development across From the World Trade Buildings on the Hudson River, 1973.

Image by Wil Blanche of construction on the Battery Park development across From the World Trade Buildings on the Hudson River, 1973.

The same image by Blanche with text added.

The same image by Blanche with text added.

Note: All of the Documerica images I used are in the public domain.

A City is a Sound, and my other albums, are available on my Bandcamp page.

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Alone in a Big Place

In my last post, I talked about an album I just released called A City is a Sound. It’s one of a trilogy called Another Place, each album with a theme related to location (A City is a Sound, Alone in a Big Place, and Out of Place).

Here’s the pitch for Alone in a Big Place :

There’s a feeling you get when you’re alone in a big place–under the stars in the wilderness, or on the ocean by yourself with no land in sight. It’s unsettling and awe inspiring at the same time. This album deals with that feeling, from a cosmonaut suddenly cut off from the Earth, to a security guard who experiences a blinding, otherwordly vision in an empty factory at midnight, to a man who stays behind after the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant to care for the city’s stray cats.

Includes a 50-page illustrated digital booklet, with short fiction to accompany each track. The booklet comes in two versions, one hi-res for use on computers, and the other optimized for portable devices.

Here’s a sample track.

The digital booklet for Alone in a Big Place is extensive. Each track gets a title page featuring an evocative photograph, followed by a piece of short fiction, ten in all.

Here are the sections for two tracks, “The Ghosts of Soyuz” Parts I and II (it has four parts in all).

3 F APAT 02 AIABP booklet PDF 01 01 Ancient and Modern sized

3 F8 APAT AIABP book story only PDF Aa

3 F8 APAT AIABP book story only PDF Ab

3 F APAT 02 AIABP booklet PDF 01 04 Mountain Snow sized

3 F8 APAT AIABP book story only PDF Da

3 F8 APAT AIABP book story only PDF Db

You can find the album here.

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A City is a Sound

I’ve honored halloween in a special way every year for the past five years with installments of my  decade-long art project, Ten Halloweens (which will run for another five years before it goes dark for good). Each year I released a freebie, usually an ebook or a musical track.

But this year I have something more ambitious to announce. The last two installments of Ten Halloweens featured tracks from upcoming albums. Well, they are upcoming no more.

I’m releasing four albums simultaneously today, and I’ll blog about each one in turn. All of them are now available on Bandcamp, and they’ll be rolled out gradually on other platforms.

Today’s topic is A City is a Sound, which is one of three albums in the Another Place series. Here’s the pitch:

A modern sound captures the retro spirit of the great American cities of the 1970s. From the bad old days of Times Square, through the rust belt, to the polyglot neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Sixteen tracks evoking the dirty, the arty, the shambolic, and the glorious.

Includes a 15-page illustrated digital booklet with enhanced period photographs. The booklet comes in two version, hi-res for use on computers, and a version optimized for portable devices.

From the liner notes:

A city is a sound, a particular oscillation,
A tone and a timbre
Shaped by the unique way that
The buildings in this town
Channel the air currents–
The gait with which these individual residents walk
Vibrating the earth just so.
A city is a waveform sculpted by the
Singular shape of its skyline,
Which tailors its harmonics,
Introduces interference, and
Anchors high, cutting tones
With deep, bass booms.

Here’s the title track.

And here are a few of the enhanced period images from the digital booklet that downloads with the album.

01

02

03

Next time: the album Alone in a Big Place.


 

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Zombies and Nazis and D-Day, Oh My!

The TL/DR Synopsis Synopsis: A new horror short fiction collection, Stille! Untoten!, includes my story “Les Poupeés Gris.”

Links to: The book and the previous volume in the series.


The novel, the album, and the videos.  One bundle, free forever

The novel, the album, and the videos. One bundle, free forever


Some time ago I saw a call for submissions for a short story collection to be entitled Raus! Untoten!

The project had a sweet kind of pulp magazine appeal: Nazis and zombies together in one story.  As I noted in a previous post (“What Could Be Worse Than The Undead?“), this combination isn’t entirely novel:

That particular crossover isn’t new of course. From older movies like 1977’s Shock Waves to newer ones like 2009’s Dead Snow to games like Call of Duty: World at War – Zombies, zombies and Nazis have crossed paths before, with decidedly mixed results.

Shock Waves (left), Call of Duty World at War Zombies (center), and Dead Snow (right).

Shock Waves (left), Call of Duty World at War Zombies (center), and Dead Snow (right).

That said, it seemed to me that the publishers were looking for stuff that was a cut above. Your story could have all the trashy appeal of an old issue of Weird Tales, but in terms of quality you wanted to aim somewhere around the Paris Review.

I’m a fan of pulp magazines (as well as stuff that isn’t really pulp but that has a similar lineage and ambiance, like EC horror comics), so the proposal had a natural appeal for me.

Raus! Untoten! The first volume of the series.

Raus! Untoten! The first volume of the series.

I wrote a story called “Les Poupeés Gris,” about the interruption of the D-Day invasion by French zombies bent on killing soldiers on both sides, resulting in a serious alteration of the history from the end of the Second World War right up to the present day.

I finished writing the story on June 6, 2013, which was the 69th anniversary of the landings at Normandy. The story itself ends on June 6, 2014, a date which just passed a few months ago, the 70th anniversary of the invasion–but of course it concludes on that day in an alternate history.

In that 2014, the Allies never re-took continental Europe, France remains an administrative zone of the Third Reich, and a modernized version of the USSR  is led by a man with a bright smile, a Twitter feed, and a Dutch wife, who is still plotting the belated defeat of the Axis powers.

Normandy meets NOTLD

The Walking Deadly meet the Walking Dead: Canadian D-Day troops encounter zombies in Normandy. (Photos: image on the left by Ken Bell [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons | image on the right by George A. Romero (Screenshot from timeinc.net) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons).

In the world of the story, independent zombie traditions from Africa and Europe met in colonial Haiti when it was under French rule, forming a new, potent mix.  But the original European zombie persists. In France it’s called a poupeé gris–a grey puppet–referencing its ghoulish skin tone and the fact that, like a puppet, it’s an artificial person created and controlled by a human being.  It is these poupeés gris who stand between the 21st century Soviet Union and the defeat of its long-time German rival.

The publishers decided to make Raus! Untoten! a multi-volume series, and “Les Poupeés Gris” was accepted for the second volume.  On Halloween 2013 volume one was released. Just a couple of days ago volume two, called Stille! Untoten!, finally became available, and “Les Poupeés Gris” is the story that opens the book.

Stille! Untoten! With Les Poupees Gris. as the lead story.

Stille! Untoten! With Les Poupees Gris. as the lead story.

To get your copy, in paperback or e-book format, click your preferred link below.  Buy one now, before I eat your brain!

Stille! Untoten! is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk.

Raus! Untoten! is also available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk.

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