Monday, February 15, 2010

Chapter 11: Enter Mission: D.E.A. Dass in

"…Didn't Know He was Carrion"

And yet again, we arrive at another SIDzCarbonatedMilk™ test song.  This one came about as a result of my auditioning a few Native Instruments® plug-ins that are very rarely implemented by me.           …namely:  Intakt™ and Reaktor™.  This stylized "60's action soundtrack" tribute-groove started with a thin squeaky guitar construction set and drum loops played from the former.

"Enter Mission—D.E.A. Dass in ‘…Carrion’” has long been one of my favorite orphan song puppies—yelping desperately at prospects as they stroll by…its figurative wet nose pressed against the cold glass of the pet store front display window…
wanting only a permanent loving play-list-home. [sigh…they’re just so cute at that age.]

As I may already have mentioned, "The Mμne-Pi Parables" started life as a humble instrumental compilation support-project for "SIDon 'S'on the Map"; as lyrics crept in and lyrical arcs developed, it evolved into to our most vocal-oriented SCM project yet.  It also grew in proportions.  Once within the quick-flick stipulations of a 40-minute EP—feeding on a strict diet of hearty imagination and inspired performances—our little Pi grew to a respectable, approximately 73-minute, two-record set album length; it’s grown to twenty-two selections. Time-wise it’s thirteen past the hour, but flowing more quickly than the length might suggest—highly concentrated content-wise, it fills three hours-full so fast.  This being the case, I felt that matters called for an intermission-interlude.

Of course being the admittedly mischievous punster that I am, enter mission came to mind as the title of whatever song would arrive to take the position.  What did come to mind for said song, either immediately afterwards or just before pulling the idea, was the date-stamped song file that would eventually become "Enter Mission…”.  It was a perfect fit.

Ironically, the beginning of the song had marked the end of production on the project (that is until the song stork dropped that happy accident: “How Long Is Wrong”).  On the last album (“The Men in Martian Ice”), I first utilized the Creamware® "PPG"™ sound-alike and Minimoog® modeled synth plug-ins [Check out "Dearborn", and the ‘Wurlitzer 200’ electric piano on "Ophdisbigblughmuhsheen"].  Eleven years after “Men in Martian Ice”…after a couple of bankruptcies and restructurings, a Use-Audio® Plugiator® (functionally formerly known as Scope®, formerly known as Creamware®) instrument is back in play on a SCM's release, in the role of Fender® Rhodes stuntman.

 For my taste, the *only true Funk is P-Funk (which is the George Clinton brand…*see “ad nauseam”); everything else is funk-y.  Cool Jazz is Miles; and Jazz Fusion is Return to Forever.  For a Jazz synthesist in the seventies, Chick (if you have to ask for a last name you can’t afford himCorea) was to us what Jimi (c’mon…ya killin’ me hereHendrix) was to guitar rockers of that time.  My playing style on the intro pays homage to Chick, as well as Herbie Hancock and Keith Jared—Miles’ electro-keys kids.  When I was at university in the late seventies, Jazz majors were walking around with first-issue "Romantic Warrior" albums ubiquitously in hand, like Bibles in tow at seminary.  The thing I've long admired about Chick and Return to Forever [Fusion’s fab four RTF: Chick, Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola, and Lenny White] has been the fluidity in their spontaneous creations.  I was once at LAX, waiting six hours for Jack to join me on one of our Entejé fact-gathering road trips.  With nothing but time on my hands, I meandered over to the international side—where I encountered Stanley Clarke and his wife awaiting an overseas flight.  I introduced myself to him; and gentleman that he was, he insisted I address his wife as well.

Having then made their acquaintance, I said to him, "I just have to tell you, 'Romantic Warrior' is the best Fusion album ever recorded."  Mr. Clarke looked me in the eyes, and unflinchingly he responded simply and succinctly, "You're right."

Using “Enter…Dass” as an interlude, just around two minutes, I'm pleased to have created an intro, A-section, B-section solo, and vamp in such a small space.  The song also works well as a curtain separating the heavier, headier feel of part-one from the funkier flow of the second half…as well as it does serve to bridge the two. …in much the same way as does “Pop Trunk Roquey” transitioning to “Carbonated Milk” on SCM I: “Please Don’t Harmonica”.

I did so endeavor to produce this album in such a way that sonically it plays in the mind like film and reads like a novel—like my short story collections [“Cranial Crumbs & ReSIDue” and “Brainflush Protocol”] playing imaginatively in the reader's mind's ear like songs.  Throughout my career as a composer I've been told my music "…sounds like movie music", and my lyrics have been deemed too abstruse and/or literary…perhaps erudite fare:  esoteric and didactic at times.  Sylvia Moy [Stevie Wonder’s collaborator on songs like "I Was Made to Love Her", “My Cherie Amour", etc.)] was my first of several legacy Motown Records connections; I was a songwriter/producer for her publishing company.  I submitted a song to her that garnered this response:

"Whoa! This is beautiful.
'Like a faucet why
Can't I go to wet from dry?
…can't I love without a try?
"It's prose…"

I was swelling with self-pride; and then she gave me the "but".

"But when a man gets off after working all day at the factory, he doesn't want to have to think all that much about what’s being sung.  He needs the words to be simple."

That day I realized—whether I realized it then or not—that I couldn't simultaneously create artistically and condescendingly.  To this day I’m still trying to understand the lyrics to “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”…among many other lyrics, as well.  And I like that.  For me cotton candy isn’t at all filling.  The best art is honest and not at all contrived just to maximize unit sells.  “The Mμne-Pi Parables”—while admittedly a degree or two sophisticated—is perhaps my most honest work I’ve yet presented.  And for those with deadly allergies to content and depth, please allow the μ and Pi in the title to serve as your skull-and-crossbones warning.

Please stay tuned for the second half of our show.

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