Archive for the ‘free mp3 download’ Category

Travelers of Tyme present: “DC Metro” a new single for $1

January 25, 2011
  • This single that is a tribute to the Washington D.C. metro supports the efforts of the Travelers to create a full-length and go boldly where no band has gone before. Available in most elite formats from $1→WhatYouChooseToGive! 

    Originally entered into the Washington Post Metro-Music contest. The B-side got 2nd place and attributed oddly to John Yaya! (fr0d.net/dcwin) Keeping the mystery alive in 2011!

    DOWNLOAD CONTAINS: Desktop backgrounds of cover art to adorn your computational device!

1.
2.
Picture it: a lonesome subterranean train platform. A balding man in a rumpled black suit stands, waiting, anxiously checking his watch, too often. He rocks on his heels. His train is late, so very late. And what is his final destination? Not one of us can answer that with any certainty, can we? So we might as well be patient. (Just don’t tell that to the Waiting Man. Our secret…) 

An empty train arrives – but it’s not the Waiting Man’s train. As the doors open, they unfold in slow motion as a beautiful brunette in a crisp pant suit emerges like a swan from a swirling gray mist. She seems not to walk but to hover, gliding across the platform, a gorgeous spectre existing beyond Tyme and space. With a wink and a slight smile to the Waiting Man, she mounts the escalator and is carried into an unknown fog above. What is her final destination? Who can say? Perhaps she has already arrived!

As for the Waiting Man, his train is still running late. And it always will be.

ALWAYS.

▲ ▲ ▲

The Travelers of Tyme present “Misty Businesswoman” b/w “Last Train to Limbo,” 2 songs constructed using sound samples of the Washington DC Metrorail. Whether you are waiting, in transit, or have already arrived at your destination, this music is specially designed to enhance your travel experience.

Thank you for spending six minutes and fifty-five seconds with us. We hope that you enjoy the rest of your Tyme in this Universe. It is a pleasant one.

Cordially,

Professor John Yaya and Doctor Klem
The Travelers of Tyme

JUKEBOX OF THE DEAD X “FAME” podcast – Episode 1: Neverland

September 23, 2009

Aficionados, after along hiatus, we are pleased to announce the triumphant return of the Detholz! blog – and the first incarnation of the JUKEBOX OF THE DEAD HALLOWEEN PODCAST!

Detholz! are pleased to announce the 10th Anniversary Halloween Jukebox of the Dead cover show has been confirmed. Buy tickets early and often as this show usually sells out. And, for all of you younger, sprightlier Detholz! fans, the show is 18 and up!

DETHOLZ! present:
JUKEBOX OF THE DEAD X
“FAME”
October 31, 2009
Lincoln Hall
2424 Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL
Tickets available soon at www.schubas.com

FAME?  WHY FAME, YOU ASK?

After 10 years of picking through the candied detritus of pop music’s underside at Halloween – and after 13 years almost to the day as a band – Detholz! have been locked away in recent months, chewing on our thumbnails, reflecting on the fleeting nature of mortality, the preservation of our legacy and, most importantly, the liberal application of exfoliating lotions.

To that end, I had occasion this week to visit my Los Angeles offices (don’t ask) for a very special Tuesday appointment.  The meeting, as it turned it out, went very poorly.  Extremely so.

In fact, I barely escaped alive.  But I did escape.  And was… transformed.

I kept a verbal record of this experience on my dictaphone for my secretary, Jean, that I am posting here for all the world to hear.  And, on Halloween, we shall emerge from our chrysalis for all the world to see:

FAME and FORTUNE

SUCCESS and TRIUMPH

REMEMBER

REMEMBER

REMEMBER…

Click here for FAME EPISODE 1 : Neverland

Jim Cooper – DRAC I

November 19, 2008

BEFORE WE START TODAY’S BLOG, A COMMERCIAL:

In their continued epic struggle for supremacy, THE M’s and DETHOLZ! pit two giant custom-built robots against one another in a vicious mecha-duel that promises rampant carnage, death and destruction!  Watch from the sidelines, or feel free to participate in the slaughter yourself!

THIS FRIDAY, NOV. 21
THE M’s vs. DETHOLZ! REPUBLICAN ROBOT CHALLENGE
Hideout
www.hideoutchicago.com

In one corner, DETHOLZ! mount up their custom-built, constitution-eating steely chasse known as DIKK CHAINEY, who spews motor oil from his 10-ton cannons and eats Colin Powells for breakfast!

In the opposite corner, THE M’s power up the gigo-normous & steely moose slayer, SARE A’PAILIN’!  Watch her eviscerate and devour the English language as her gaping metal jaws work the system like a mega Johnny Cochran!

Watching two giant Republican robots battle to the death was never this exciting!

Hope to see you!

Also: buy a copy of the new Jukebox of the Dead cover album at www.detholz.com/merch.html !

XXOO
VORTECS Corp. Federalist Society Dept.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Welcome back to the Detholz! Mp3 Blog, and mucho apologio for the missed week last week.

There is a reason for my tardiness. Allow me to explain:

Lujo Records, the doughty DC label that releases Baby Teeth’s records (new album “Hustle Beach” coming this Spring, incidentally!), has decided to release 3 solo albums from the 3 Baby Teeth members, Abraham Levitan, Peter Andreadis and myself, in advance of the release of “Hustle Beach.”

Since I have been writing for Detholz! for so long, I don’t really have much in the way of Jim Cooper solo repertoire. So I was stumped for a few days. Do I write an album of tear-jerking, convulsion-inspiring, vomit-inducing “serious” songs that really plumb the depths of my incredibly complex and interesting emotional construct? That seemed narcissistic and, frankly, my emotional construct isn’t that complicated. (Example: after an extremely irritating evening last night, my wife made me a plate of spicy sausage. Problem solved!)

Another idea: write an album of montage-inspired music, much in the vein of FLEX (see previous Oct. 08 posts). I was ready to jump that train but then rethought it: after the third song or so, the joke would get old. Besides, who wants to listen to a novelty record any more? I might as well record myself reading Yakov Smirnov jokes.

So, for better or worse, I decided to challenge myself and write in a format which I have virulently detested my entire life: I decided to write a MUSICAL. (Cue thunder and lightning)

Musicals have traditionally chapped my ass something awful. I have a big problem suspending disbelief when people suddenly and inexplicably burst into song. Additionally, the sort of humor typically found in musicals is what Dick Cavett might call “bridled hilarity.” In other words, it’s poncy as hell.

My wife has slowly been changing my mind as to the viability of the Musical format, starting me off gently with Sweeney Todd, which, all things considered, is really pretty great. The songs are complex and layered, plus there’s a sufficient amount of good gore and violence to hold my Neanderthal male interest. I am also slowly coming around to “Jesus Christ Superstar,” though I’m not all the way there yet. The first South Park film stands on its own merit as a great piece of musical satire.

I feel like I’m slowly lowering myself into the Hot Tub of Musicals, testing every inch of the water as I descend. As Eddie Murphy once said: “It’s HOT in the Hot Tub! It’ll make you sweat-a!”

I’m not going to divulge what this musical is about yet, but suffice it to say it’s loosely based on the classic Dracula story and most of the action unfolds in a trailer park in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania. To get things started, I began with an instrumental piece:

DRAC I

The scene: a dishonest, sleazy country lawyer is driving higher and higher into the mountains on the proverbial dark and stormy night.

More to come…

See you next Wednesday!

Countdown to Jukebox of the Dead IX : “Scarface (Push It to the Limit)”

October 7, 2008

Welcome back to the new, improved Detholz! Mp3 Blog, Mark II!  I’m no longer going to list episodes in Roman numerals– the math was starting to get too challenging for my pea-brain.

Thanks to all of you who have taken up the gauntlet of the DETHOLZ! BLOG ROLL-UP! (see below for rules) You will be the first to receive piping hot advance copies of Detholz! second album of deconstructed pop songs direct from the dentist’s office : Jukebox of the Dead II : You : The Power of You.

Three cheers to those of you who dove immediately into the fray, swords swinging!  Here are the links to our winners’ blogs thus far:

http://kebabdylan.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/ziggy-2000/

http://johnsorc.wordpress.com/

http://baconfresh.wordpress.com/

The Roll-Up is far from over, however.  Seize this opportunity to gird up your blog battle-ax and take your place among the greats in Detholz! Cyber-Valhalla — see the Blogroll to the right for these newly added champions!

As we progress into the second week of the Countdown to Jukebox of the Dead IX (if you’re new, see previous post for explanation), I give you the heart and soul of this year’s show :

SCARFACE (PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT)

Penned by the Italian master of 80’s montage music, Giorgio Moroder, and originally performed by one-hit wonder, Paul Engemann, for the Brian DePalma classic, Scarface, it is my personal favorite in the “80’s montage” genre. In fact, the entire score to Scarface is, in my estimation, the quintessential 80’s synth score.

(I should say Engemann was a TWO-hit wonder : he scored a Top Ten hit with the single “Room to Move” from the Dan Aykroyd movie My Stepmother Is an Alien.)

This year’s Halloween show will hinge upon an unholy obsession with physical fitness, and I thought this song captured some of the melancholy associated with bad body image. It was arranged in a pretty straightforward way, though in rehearsal we have decided to reorchestrate it somewhat…. I won’t spoil the surprise, however!

QUESTION: What is your favorite movie montage song? Doesn’t have to be 80’s. Send me a comment below and I’ll consider adding your favorite to the list of new Detholz! covers this year! Help, folks, I need song ideas!

Tune in next week for next installment of the Covers Countdown! See below for details on the Halloween Blog Roll-Up:

DETHOLZ! BLOG ROLL-UP  CHALLENGE!

To receive an advance copy of You: the Power of You, simply follow these steps:

1. Get a blog.  If you have one, skip this step.  Ha.

2. Write a Detholz!-related blog.  Whether it’s about a show, a song, or how much you want to see Karl Doerfer (DH! guitarist) prance around in a Laura Bush costume, any and all is fair game as long as it’s Detholz!-related.

3. Put the following text somewhere in your post:

Jukebox of the Dead IX
“Detholz! FLEX!”
w/special guests Aleks and the Drummer & Hood Internet
Friday, October 31, 2008
Empty Bottle
1035 N Western Avenue
Chicago, IL
Buy tickets at http://www.emptybottle.com

3. Post a link to the Detholz! Mp3 Blog in your blog roll.

4. Send the link to misterb at detholz dot com.

If you carefully follow these steps to the letter, here’s what you get:

1. An advance copy of “You: the Power of You” in its entirety

2. One other downloadable Detholz! record of your choosing

3. A link to your blog posted on the Detholz! blogroll

4. The satisfaction that only BLOG can provide

Countdown to Jukebox of the Dead IX – “Detholz! FLEX!”

October 1, 2008

Greetings to one and all, aficionados, comrades, debutantes, dilettantes, admirals, privates, Christians, Muslims, Jews and Presbyterians, in the name of DETHOLZ!, the sad son of a lonely, depressed, alcoholic, gambling-addicted, eczema-addled, overweight Star Trek fanatic.  Or some such.

Hello, doughty readers!  It’s been too long.  More to say on that in future posts.

For now, to catch you up:

1. Jukebox of the Dead IX approaches THIS HALLOWEEN NIGHT at Empty Bottle in Chicago.  For those of you just joining us, “Jukebox of the Dead” is a Halloween party/show curated by Detholz! in which we perform a set of cover songs that have been blown apart, rearranged and put back together again, Frankenstein-style.

As we count down the weeks to the show, I’ll post a new cover demo every week this month.  This week, we FLEX the theme song to this year’s show for you:

DETHOLZ! FLEX!

(link to mp3 file)

2. At Jukebox of the Dead IX, Detholz! will release their second full-length covers album, “You: the Power of You.” The mixing is almost finished, and we’re satisfied that this recording is far superior to its predecessor.

After a summer of neglect, the blog is back.   And, to celebrate the Return of the Son of Detholz! blog, we’re throwing down the gauntlet.  Run for your lives!  It’s the

DETHOLZ! BLOG ROLL-UP  CHALLENGE!

To receive an advance copy of You: the Power of You, simply follow these steps:

1. Get a blog.  If you have one, skip this step.  Ha.

2. Write a Detholz!-related blog.  Whether it’s about a show, a song, or how much you want to see Karl Doerfer (DH! guitarist) prance around in a Laura Bush costume, any and all is fair game as long as it’s Detholz!-related.

3. Put the following text somewhere in your post:

Jukebox of the Dead IX
“Detholz! FLEX!”
w/special guests Aleks and the Drummer & Hood Internet
Friday, October 31, 2008
Empty Bottle
1035 N Western Avenue
Chicago, IL
Buy tickets at http://www.emptybottle.com

3. Post a link to the Detholz! Mp3 Blog in your blog roll.

4. Send the link to misterb at detholz dot com.

If you carefully follow these steps to the letter, here’s what you get:

1. An advance copy of “You: the Power of You” in its entirety

2. One other downloadable Detholz! record of your choosing

3. A link to your blog posted on the Detholz! blogroll

4. The satisfaction that only BLOG can provide

As is customary with posting of covers, I will not do my usual pretentious (and possibly narcisscisstic) analysis of the composition process.  Just sit back, relax and FLEX!

Tune in next Wednesday for round 2 in the countdown to Jukebox of the Dead IX!

New Detholz! demo – “Lost Weekend #5”

May 30, 2008

Welcome to the Detholz! Mp3 Blog, Episode XXXVII!

Before we begin this week, my sincere apologies to regular readers for my truancy from the blog last week and the tardiness of this week’s posting. The writer’s block I wrote about in the last post persisted — and worsened — to the point where I was:

a. questioning my own sanity

b. seriously doubting my abilities

and

c. experiencing an extreme case of the Doldrums

In short, due to my gimpiness (gimpitude? Gimpity?) I had nothing of value to offer you last week.

A related note: I’ve added an RSS feed in the sidebar, so if you’re one of those futuristic types that subscribes to RSS feeds, you can now click on the link and never have to bother checking back here again. Do so every so often, though, just so I don’t get lonely floating out here in the blogosphere. You feeders don’t register in my stats engine.

Anyway, now that that unpleasantness is out of the way, on with the show, I say, on with the show!

This week, a tour through one of the world’s greatest hearts of darkness:

LOST WEEKEND #5

I literally half-finished over 11 songs before completing “Lost Weekend #5.” ALL of them are terrible– and this one may be, too. Initial reactions from the band are positive, but… I haven’t made up my mind about “Lost Weekend” yet.

1. SONG CONCEPT

After stumbling across a stunning piece of kitsch on YouTube, I knew what the subject of my next song would be: the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton Szandor LaVey. The YouTube piece is a documentary divided into 10 parts called “Speak of the Devil.” HIGHLY recommended viewing:

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL

A large portion of the second section can be skipped — it’s a long clip of LaVey’s first television appearance on a 60’s children’s show called “Brother Buzz” that seems to revolve around a pair of bumblebee puppets. On second thought, don’t skip it. It’s amazing! The clip centers on LaVey’s pet lion, Togare, which he was eventually forced to donate to the San Francisco zoo by jittery neighbors.

There is so much rich material in “Speak of the Devil,” I almost don’t know where to start.

LaVey makes extraordinary claims about himself and his past. He is articulate, funny and obviously a world-class nerd, waxing on and on about Johnson-Smith gag catalogs he would read as a child (and apparently kept under his pillow as an adult), his years as a crime scene photographer for the SFPD in the 50’s, or– my personal favorite — his mannequin collection in the “Den of Iniquity,” presumably the den in the famous Black House in San Francisco. He literally built his friends, citing his growing misanthropy.

It was a form of ultra-realistic sculpture — he would deliberately sculpt the faces of the mannequins to be ugly or distorted and his collection included prostitutes and shady-looking men. Lavey would sit and talk to them, preferring their company to that of “real” people. In the film, he seems a tad embarrassed by his creations, citing others who were more adept at ultra-realistic sculpture than he.

LaVey was also a pedigreed theater organist, so there are long clips of him playing his collection of home organs and talking about his years playing calliope in the Clyde Beatty circus after he ran away from home at the age of 17. Or so he claims. He’s a great player and made a few records in his day, most notably “Satan Takes a Holiday,” a collection of songs from his repertoire as a burlesque organist.

The documentary piqued my interest about LaVey — an apparent 60’s B-list crank whose story, of course, I found irresistable. In my further research, I ran across http://www.churchofsatan.org (as opposed to the official website of the Church of Satan, http://www.churchofsatan.com). It is apparently maintained by a splinter group of disgruntled satanists — including LaVey’s own daughter. There is a fascinating page about the “legends” vs. the “realities” about Anton LaVey that I found illuminating.

If you’re interested, the page is here: http://www.churchofsatan.org/lavey.html

If not, I’ll list a few that pertain to the song:

1. He claimed to have had an affair with Hollywood starlet Jayne Mansfield. According to churchofsatan.org, her agent set up a meeting between them, using LaVey as a foil for a cheap publicity stunt. LaVey was captivated by the actress but she spurned his advances and thought him “laughable.” To further humiliate him, she would call him at home to taunt him while his followers listened in.

2. He claimed to be a close friend of singer Sammy Davis, Jr., who was awarded an honorary membership into the Church of Satan. According to churchofsatan.org, LaVey was not present when Davis accepted the membership and didn’t meet him until years later.

3. He claimed to be the official “city organist” of San Francisco, hired to perform at gala events and political meetings. According to churchofsatan.org, the very idea of a “city organist” is absurd, and LaVey’s only income before beginning the Church of Satan was as a house Wurlitzer organist at a club called the “Lost Weekend.” (Perhaps the greatest name for a burlesque nightclub imaginable. Reminds me of the “Cafe Remember” in the heart of Amsterdam’s Red Light district.)

4. He claimed to be a devoted family man, but according to his own children, was an angry, abusive father and husband.

Bear in mind that this website seems to have been set up by people who have somehow run afoul of the official Church of Satan or harbor some sort of grudge, so… when it comes to satanists, people who pledge allegiance to the biblical Father of Lies, it’s tough to know who to believe.

I made a conscious effort to resist the temptation (so to speak) to include a lot of spiritual or religious imagery in this song. My fascination with LaVey’s story has nothing to do with satanism, which seems to be some sort of juvenile bastardization of the philosophy of Ayn Rand with a little occult spice thrown in for shock value. (No offense meant to any practicing satanists who may have stumbled across this blog — hey, it’s a free country. I’m big into role-playing games myself!)

LaVey strikes me as a person with a powerful inferiority complex — a desperate and clinging need for attention that drove him to ridiculous extremes (like founding an “eeevil!” religion). “His own worst enemy,” if you believe his family’s accounts, he was enormously dissatisfied and unhappy. As a result, he became the consummate showman, a silver-tongued pitchman, and cloaked himself in dime-store myths and comic-book fantasies, driven by his rage and insecurity.

In one sense, I guess you could say his devils made him do it!

2. SONG COMPOSITION

This one took two solid days of tweaking to get right — and I’m still not sure everything about it IS right.

I knew two things as I sat down: as an homage to Anton, I wanted to construct the song’s elements from a palette of 60’s home organ tones. I also wanted to use a bossa rhythm, like one you might find on a Wurlitzer back in the day.

I actually own a Wurlitzer home organ that I pillaged from an organ store that was closing its doors but it resides at the band house, so I had to settle for VST organs. Thankfully Native Instruments’ Kontakt 3 VST sampler comes with an excellent repository of vintage organ tones. When recording using VST, I’ve discovered it helps never to take a preset sample at face value. It really helps to know something about the instrument being emulated.

I tweaked the organs’ EQ’s quite a bit, downsampled them to mono, and ran them through another excellent Native Instruments VST program, Guitar Rig. While this VST is designed to emulate different amps and guitar rackmounts, I use it for its spring reverb which is the closest I’ve heard to the real thing in digi-world.  Guitar Rig is useful for more instruments than just guitars!

A geeky side note: as I’ve said before, I recently switched from an ancient version of Emagic’s Logic Audio Platinum to Steinberg’s Nuendo as my primary DAW software (that’s Digital Audio Workstation for those who may not know). While I miss certain aspects of Logic — especially in the mixing window — Nuendo is FAR more intuitive and easy to use. I much prefer how it handles MIDI information to Digidesign’s ProTools and would strongly recommend it – even if you’re just starting out. ESPECIALLY if you’re just starting out.

The vocals on “Lost Weekend” were by far the most difficult elements of the song to get right. I ended up doing so many takes, I was hoarse by the end of the session (which you can hear if you listen closely). Initially, I did a few really aggressive “Detholz-ian” takes where I belted out the lyrics at full throttle, “TT Peterbilt Semi”-style (see previous post).

As I listened back, however, it became clear what this song needed was a soft, almost deadpan delivery which is what ended up on the recording. I concentrated mainly on getting the pitches right — this song is a real beast to sing — and doubled the verses. There’s a three-part harmony on the choruses (the words “baby believer”) that was originally different. The high part descended on its last note, which is much more consonant. I thought it sounded too “stock” (to quote from Lars Ulrich in “Some Kind of Monster”), so I tried ascending instead and — voila! Much creepier and more interesting, IMHO.

This is a call from the ether of blogdom: PLEASE comment on this song and let me know what you think.!It’s one of those numbers that floats in the Twilight Zone for me — not bad, but ot great, either. To quote from the book of Revelation, “because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”

Should this song be spewed as the spawn of Satan?  Or not?

Tune in next week for the stunning conclusion!

3. LYRICS

LOST WEEKEND #5

Sit in the den and build a friend
Home for the weekend
From the Weekend

A bawdy house brought down again
By your organs
Wurlitzer organs

Deep in the house,
Beyond the black paint,
Mannequin men and whores:

You’re alone in the dark
Talking to devils inside of your heart:
An infant inside –
You’re a baby believer

On a Fantasy ride
Cannot believe what you cannot devise
The carnival cries
For the baby believer

A psycho drama with a Drama Queen:
Miss Mansfield is a mine field
Use Sammy Davis as a go-between?
Mediocre kind of feeling

Tomorrow night, another bawdy beguine
At the Weekend
The Lost Weekend

Lack-of-attention family man
Slug the wife as hard as you can
Run down the hall and talk to your dolls
Another weekend lost
Weekend lost

Alone in the dark
Talking to devils inside of your heart:
An infant inside –
You’re a baby believer

On a Fantasy ride
Cannot believe what you cannot devise
The carnival cries
For the baby believer

Attack of the Synthestra 2 – “Willie Steals a Horse”

April 9, 2008

Note: A close Detholz! confidante (and former Detholz! bookie), Lena, needs your help in an excellent cause. After having her spirit broken by the VORTECS Corporation, the business arm of Detholz!, (just kidding) Lena decided to go into nursing and has worked at a hospital for the past year. Utilizing her training, she will be traveling to Nepal this Fall to volunteer and assist needy orphan children there (no kidding). She needs to raise $5,000 for her trip. Visit this link and donate, would you?

http://teammapleteam.com/lenavolunteerproject/

Any little bit you can spare will help immensely– no gift is too small!  Help Lena help orphans in need!  Thanks.  -Detholz! and the Maplewood Continuum

Welcome to the Detholz! Mp3 Blog, Episode XXXIV!

This week, we continue with our bloody orchestral onslaught of General MIDI madness with:

ATTACK OF THE SYNTHESTRA Part 2 : “Willie Steals A Horse”

For an introduction on this month’s Attack, check the last post.

1. SCENE

This week, the vampire character we introduced last week is reminiscing about his misspent youth on Maxwell Street in Chicago, remembering an afternoon when he earned his nickname. On a dare, he creeps up on a fruit vendor and steals his horse, after which he removes the testicles and sells them to a restaurant in Chinatown (his nickname is “Potatoes,” har har). The scene depicted here is Willie sneaking up on the vendor, then untying and making off with his horse.

2. COMPOSITION

A lot of the ideas from this orchestration come from critical listening to Bernard Herrmann’s score for “The Trouble With Harry.” There’s a lot of call-and-response across the orchestra, which is a great trick. You can repeat the same phrase over and over and it takes on an entirely different character if played by different instrument families in different registers.

The core of the composition is a series of intervals– a major third and a tritone. I take a lot of liberty with the intervallic series, inverting it in a few instances, mixing it up in others. The most blatantly obvious examples can be heard in the quiet middle section of the piece– first in the woodwinds, then in the lower instruments as the piece revs up towards the end.

I purposely chose a brighter, “happier” scenario this week for a challenge. As most of you know, my default setting when writing music is either “Fire and Brimstone” or “Gloom ‘N Doom,” so I decided to take a trip to the Happy Store and see what happened.

The practice and obsessive listening is paying off– I’m finding it’s easier to make good choices vis a vis instrument combinations. One of the most difficult aspects of orchestration is balance– take your run-of-the-mill C7 chord, for example.

C-E-G-Bb

Which notes go where across the orchestra? What notes are doubled? By which instruments?

In my reading about this, I’ve discovered the 1357 rule. This means, in general, you want to give the most weight to the first note in the chord (otherwise known as the “root.”) In this case, C.

C = 1

So, given your average orchestra, you’d put C’s in the bass instruments (like the string basses, cellos, tuba, bassoons and bass clarinets) and in the primary melodic instruments (1st violins, trumpets, horns, flutes and oboes).

E = 3

This is the third of the chord– what gives the chord its character, major or minor, so it’s second in the pecking order. I would probably assign it to the 2nd violins, 2nd/3rd horns, and 1st clarinet)

And so forth and so on. You plug in the rest of the notes according to the 1357 principle until you’ve got a balanced-sounding chord across the orchestra. If it sounds complicated, that’s because… well… it is! I’ve got a lot more practice ahead of me before I master writing balanced orchestral scores.

So there you have it. Tune in next week for the next wave of Attack of the Synthestra, Part 3: The Rape of General MIDI!

Detholz! “Cast Out Devils” demo – “Club Oslo”

March 26, 2008

Denizens:
Last DH! Chicago show of the season TOMORROW:

Detholz! @ Abbey Pub
Chicago, IL
Thurs., 3/27
w/ Panther (Kill Rock Stars), U.S. Girls & Slow Gun Shogun
BUY TIX HERE: www.abbeypub.com

NEW SONGS WILL BE DEBUTED!

PLUS

THIS Saturday, March 30th
BELOIT COLLEGE C-HAUS
Beloit, WI
“If you haven’t seen Detholz! at Beloit College, you haven’t seen Detholz!” – wise grasshopper
VIVA LA BLUE HOUSE!  See you soon, Beloitians!

Welcome to Detholz! Mp3 Blog, Episode XXXII, the last installment in our MARCH OF DEMOS, a month-long look at DH! demos that weathered the gauntlet and made it onto our full-length releases, “Who Are The Detholz!?”(2001), “Jukebox of the Dead” (2005), and Cast Out Devils(2006). All are available for purchase/download at our website: www.detholz.com. As I just discovered yesterday, you can also find Cast Out Devils on iTunes.

As a wise man once said: “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man. So let me handle my business, damn!”

This week, a band favorite from Cast Out Devils, the demo recording of CLUB OSLO

I think I wouldn’t be putting words into the other Detholes’ mouths when I say that, even after 4 years in the regular rotation, we still enjoy playing “Club Oslo.” It’s probably the closest thing we had to a radio-friendly song on Cast Out Devils, with a near-perfect balance of the Three D’s of Detholz!:

DORKY,
DISSONANT,
and DANCE-READY

Reviewers have gone multiple directions on this song over the years. It’s been accused of having a “cheap chorus,” which I suppose is a valid criticism. “Freak out, jump in, jump out,” etc. ain’t exactly Lord Byron. On the other hand, it’s been called “a song for party people who think.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I would definitely like to be thought of as a “thoughtful party person:” someone who both throws thoughtful parties and is thoughtful AT parties.

1. SONG CONCEPT

After enduring the most harrowing club experience of my life in Oslo, Norway while on tour with Bobby Conn (I ended up trapped inside the Oslo railyards at 4 AM… don’t ask), I wanted to write a fluffy dance number about that fateful night. I eventually made it back to our hotel on the other side of town, but not before scrabbling through a creek in the dead of winter, spraining my ankle, almost getting arrested, and royally pissing off a concierge.

If there is any “cheapness” to the song, it was deliberate. My experience that night was the culmination of a desperate pursuit of a candy-coated rokkenroll reality at the time. It was a Dark Time for the Empire, indeed. This song, like “Ghost of Christmas Palsy” (see earlier post) was written as a “note to self” — “freak out, jump in, jump out, get out” is intended as a warning.

Incidentally, we’ll be debuting “Xmas Palsy” at the Abbey Pub show tomorrow night! Y’all come, now, hear?

2. SONG COMPOSITION

The demo version is decidedly lighter in the loafers than the version on Cast Out Devils, but it has its merits nonetheless. My favorite aspect of the demo recording is the unintentional interplay of overtones between the guitars and the keyboards during the bridge– it creates a new percussive layer. Listen for it– it’s the 2-against-3 polyrhythm in the keyboards. I did NOT plan on it– it just magically appeared! Try as we might, we could not replicate it on the full album version.

The version on Cast Out Devils turned out better overall — it breathes a little more, and generally packs more of a wallop. Still, I have a fondness for the artificiality of the demo recording– the crappy, direct guitar sound and outdated Alesis drum machine lend it some added charm, in my humble opinion.

A kid at our Subterranean all-ages show the other week said of Detholz!, “Feh, too ‘eighties. Nothing good came out of the ‘eighties.” A friend’s response: “Uhh, weren’t you born in the ‘eighties?” Gales of laughter from his friends! I felt simultaneously gratified and…well, old.

Tune in next week for the first April installment of the Detholz! Mp3 blog, otherwise known as SOUNDTRACK MADNESS MONTH!

3. LYRICS

CLUB OSLO
Who is feeling dumb, who is fun
Anyone, anyone?
Who feels funky beats in easy feet
Properly, properly?

Freak out!
Jump in, Jump out!
I’ve never disco’ed this way!

See if she’s my speed, take a seat
Silently, silently
When our eyes first meet, scope the scene
Naturally, naturally

Tell you God is like an egg
I —
Put my hand upon your leg
You —
And your body says “yes,” but your head says “no”

Freak out!
Jump in, Jump out!
Get out right before you freak out!
Freak out!
I’ve never disco’ed this way!

Detholz! WRTDH!? demo – “The Body Electric”

March 20, 2008

Denizens:
Last DH! Chicago show of the season NEXT WEEK:

Detholz! @ Abbey Pub
Chicago, IL
Thurs., 3/27
w/ Panther (Kill Rock Stars), U.S. Girls & Slow Gun Shogun
BUY TIX HERE: www.abbeypub.com

PLUS

Saturday, March 30th
BELOIT COLLEGE C-HAUS
Beloit, WI
The student body has spoken: Detholz! triumphant return!
Fall ’07 was the first semester we’d missed since 2001- thanks to all who campaigned!

Welcome to Detholz! Mp3 Blog, Episode XXXI! We’re continuing with the grueling MARCH OF DEMOS, where we present old, dusty demo recordings of songs that MADE the cut onto Detholz! records.

This week, one of my favorite old demos: THE BODY ELECTRIC

This is one of the oldest DH! songs that made the cut onto “Who Are The Detholz!?” (2001), having been penned somewhere around the end of 1999. As I recall, it was a real bitch to record with the full band given the demanding vocal parts– a lot of hours were spent gargling lemon juice and tightening our BVD’s to hit the high notes in our vocal isolation booth (read unfinished coat closet).

As with last week’s selection, I’ve always preferred the demo to the full band recording of “Body Electric” (nothing against the rest of the boyz). This song was a beast to perform well. I think we pulled it off successfully only a very few times in those early shows– most of the time, it would receive a lukewarm response live simply because it took so much effort to play it. Karl Doerfer (DH! guitarist) has often said in retrospect that he finds the song to be monotonous, which is also a justifiable criticism.

It makes me a little sad to listen to the demo, though, as that sweet-sounding falsetto range has gradually disappeared 10 years, 1,000’s of cigarettes and countless snifters of whiskey later. There’s no way in hell I could sing this song now– I suppose we could call this “Geddy Lee Syndrome” where… well… one just can’t hit those high notes like one used to.

SONG CONCEPT & COMPOSITION

At the time, I had a morning ritual that involved watching at least one episode of classic “Twilight Zone” every morning. I’ve always loved that show; the writing, acting and music are always so satisfyingly over-the-top. In some cases– at least musically– the scores are truly astounding thanks to the brilliant Bernard Herrmann, whose film music I have been rediscovering lately. (He scored many of the early TZ episodes, though not the one mentioned below).

One morning, they reran the TZ episode, “I Sing the Body Electric,” based on the well-known Ray Bradbury story about a made-to-order electric grandmother (Bradbury also wrote the screenplay for the TZ episode). At the time, my own grandmother’s health had begun to waver as she began the initial stages of a 7-year decline before she finally passed away. So, this is really a song for her, though when I was writing it, I was also ruminating on ideas about eternity and eternal destiny– an uncharacteristically sincere song for that period in DH!. This song is still able to evoke an emotional response in me like few other DH! songs can.

Many of the chord changes were lifted directly from incidental music to the Twilight Zone, as I would sit every morning with my guitar and plunk along with various episodes. I’ve always loved the music on that show, though this is the only instance where I’ve consciously tried to emulate it.

More recently, as I’m gearing up to write more orchestral scores, I’ve made a more serious study of the music/orchestration techniques of Bernard Herrmann. If you’re unfamiliar with his music, I would recommend listening to the scores from “The Day The Earth Stood Still,”(the 1st 50’s sci-fi movie score to use a theremin!), “The Naked and the Dead,” (excellent brass writing), and, of course, the soundtrack to “Psycho,” which is arguably the best film score of all time.

But I digress: You’ll hear a lot of the vocal layering characteristic of Detholz! in those days on this demo– we were, as many young, hungry popsters are, obsessed with the Beach Boys/Pet Sounds and enamored of complex, layered vocal writing. The best example of this can be heard on “All For You,” (last song on WRTDH!?) whose vocals were written in a collaborative session by Rick Franklin (1st DH! keyboardist & primary songwriter on “All For You”), Karl and I. Pixies influence is also discernible in the parallel barre-chord ascensions towards the end of the song.

You’ll have to bear with the recording quality here. At 22, I was just learning how to record a workable home demo, so it’s got the usual newbie warts: bottom-heavy, murky mix with lots of noise and hiss. Hopefully, it adds to the charm.  Up to you.

I’ll end today’s post in the guise of Rod Serling who, tight-lipped and stiff, delivered these clipped lines at the end of the episode in question, which sum up well what this song attempts to convey:

“A fable? Most assuredly. But who’s to say at some distant moment there might not be an assembly line producing a gentle product in the form of a grandmother whose stock in trade is love? Fable, sure… but who’s to say?”

Tune in next week for the last leg of our MARCH OF DEMOS…

Detholz! demo – “Sultans of Swing”

March 12, 2008

Welcome to the Detholz! Blog, Episode XXX!

(I guess that’s every week, though, right?)

And welcome back to the Detholz! “MARCH OF DEMOS,” where we’re posting demos that made the cut onto our full-length albums all month!

To celebrate the DH! Mp3 Blog’s XXXth (XXXist?) birthday, this week a demo from our covers album, “Jukebox of the Dead,” replete with XXX backstory! Mark Knopfler’s jukebox git-tar classic played at biker bars the world over, perhaps even right now:

SULTANS OF SWING

This is a case where the demo might have turned out a little better than the full band recording you’ll find on “Jukebox of the Dead,” even though this recording is warty, at best. It was made in the Dark Ages before I knew or understood anything about how to record a proper demo, so you’ll hear lots of hiss, over-compression and a very murky, elephantine mix.

Still, there’s some “there” there, I think… more so than on the final album version. Funny how it works that way sometimes…

OK, so rather than chew through all of the in’s and out’s of how this was arranged, composed and all of that musical drudgery, I’d prefer to tell you why I chose this particular song in the first place. It’s an inspiring story from an inspiring city:

Baltimore.

My brother lived in squalor in Baltimore for a brief period when he was attending the Peabody Conservatory of Music in the late 80’s/early 90’s. His apartment window was right above a restaurant dumpster and was home to the smells of burnt animal fat and rotten eggs, to name a few of the more savory ones. He came home routinely to rats as big as cats hanging out in his bathtub, and was known to bash their brains in with a broomhandle when they got out of line.

Ahh, Baltimore! (Actually, Baltimore is one of my favorite cities in which to tour and play shows. Those people really know how to dial it up a notch!)

One sticky summer night, on his way home from a job flipping reams of paper at Kinko’s, he passed by a dank alleyway from which Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” was blaring at an ear-splitting level– over and over again. Being of a curious ilk, my brother doubled back and peered into the alleyway. A faint light spilled out from an open window on the lefthand side. As he crept quietly up to the bottom of the windowsill, the music grew louder, and he heard regular banging sounds, in time with the music:

Bang-bang-bang! A-Bang Bang, Bang! Bang, Bang!

He peered up into the window and he saw…

How shall I put this?

AUGH!

You know what? Never mind. Whatever you’re imagining, it’s far, far worse. Eliot Spitzer, eat your heart out. Feel free to make a comment and take a guess. There’s a free shirt in it for the most creative response! (And though this is a naughty story, try to keep it clean, people.)

Anyway, this arrangement was inspired by my brother’s sordid tale, and the original version of “Sultans of Swing” has been ruined for me forever. So much for the biker bar.

Tune in next week for a more savory selection (I promise!) from the Detholz! demo file… *shudder*