Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sam Trapchak’s Put Together Funny: Lollipopocalypse

Long Overdue Album Review:

Sam Trapchak’s Put Together Funny: Lollipopocalypse

Sam Trapchak – bass

Tom Chang – Guitar

Greg Ward – Alto Sax

Arthur Vint – Drums

Track 1: Different Dance

From the start I’m amazed at the rhythmic layers that are going on, with only four members. It sounds like such a full band sound, but with a quartet, which is really difficult. Nice, a rhythmic tihi, like an Indian rhythm leading into the bass solo. There is constant accompaniment, with the bass shining through on top. Trapchak has a punchy tight sound that really makes everything feel buoyant and bouncy. The guitarists’ tone brings to mind some of the “New York Sound,” for lack of a better word, like a Brad Shepik/Kurt Rosinwinkle tone. The tune almost hints at a bossa feel, but much more modern. Great composition off the bat!! With the title “different dance” I can’t help but think of those live Zappa recordings where he would play this rhythmically complex music, and then have on stage dance competitions, messing with the audience members. So far the sound of the band right now reminds me of the earlier Dave Holland groups with Steve Coleman, just the rhythmic stew brewing and interlocking a beautiful weave of a groove. I dig that the album opener is the longest tune, and features all the band members soloing (drum solo is going on now), it’s such a great introduction, that concept mixed with this wonderfully upbeat grooving tune.

Track 2: On the Cusp of Cancer

Alright, little more of a rockin’ tune, giving me maybe a Scofield vibe to start out, with the groove and the sound of the guitar. Cool tune, so far very different from the first tune, so I’m ready excited to see what other directions the tunes on this album will take. I’m sold on it, this is awesome stuff! Now that I’ve heard the guitar solo, I was hearing a little of Scott Henderson’s sound. I apologize to anyone reading if they get tired of my comparisons, because obviously everyone is individual and unique, but that’s how I start to think about new music, categorizing it with what I have heard before. The bass solo has begun, and I’m amazing at how well the play off is between the bass, and the accompaniment. As a bassist I always like really open solos, best solos are usually unaccompanied, or only accompanied by drums, and Trapchak is killing it with these busier accompaniment figures behind him. I love improvised music that has this kind of a rock feel, I wish more modern “jazz” had this kind of an genre aesthetic. Saxophonist Greg Ward is destroying the end of this. Again, I feel like I heard kind of an Indian classical music rhythmic figure to end the tune.

Track 3: Long Live/Less Say

Going into the jungle of percussion and wood with the saxophone explorer. Woah, this tune is cool, very unexpected transition, chords, melody, rhythms, and is a really unique tune! The writing on this record is impeccable! Overdubbed guitar, that’s cool to hear the guitar accompanying itself for their solo. I’m curious who the guitarist’s influences are, really plays great stuff! I’m also wondering when Trapchak got his rhythmic influence from; that is one of the most interesting things in this record, to hear all that development, and all those kinds of ideas. The sax solo on this is beautiful, I’m searching for comparisons but am coming up short, and I mean that in the best of ways, it’s really great! Cool tune, it went in a several directions from start to finish.

Track 4: Tongue and Groove

I really want to know about this title! Rhythmic layers, woah, what a complex sound world we have dove into. Now into more of a salsa-esque groove, manipulated through this band’s filter. I can definitely picture walking into a club in New York and hearing these guys wailing, they just have that great sound. Man these layers that just happened during the interlude between the guitar and saxophone, into the guitar solo were awesome, because of the open feeling and space of the saxophone solo, then density, and then wide open spaces again for guitar. Again more guitar overdubs, which is a really creative way to fill the space for a quartet record. I wonder if there is anyway to loop/program this kind of thing for a live setting. I feel like Trapchak has studied some Northern Indian classical music, because I keep hearing these figures that seem to come more out of that world, than jazz or rock, or even European classical music.

Track 5: Losing You

The title is “losing you,” but for some reason it doesn’t sound too sad to my ears. It’s a beautiful tune, so I’ll wait it and let it play out to hear the emotion come out of it. This is the most traditionally “jazz” sound sounding piece I’ve heard so far, it has that smoky ballad vibe, that you can hear the breath of the saxophonist in. The bass solo is great, he has a really rich dark sound, that shines in the low and higher registers. Something about the harmony doesn’t sound happy to me, but doesn’t sound sad, it has more of a blues tone to it that I can’t put my finger on, like a really complex emotional statement, a wash of different feelings.

Track 6: Precious Few

Trapchak really has his rhythmic bag constructed well, it’s the first place my ear goes, trying to figure out what is going on, and how the pieces fit together. There is great counterpoint between all of the voices, and really strong band unity. I like hearing the bass in more of an open context, playing more aggressively, with only the drums behind him. The guitar enters in the middle of the solo, but is very mild, and the bass is still uninterrupted in the flow of ideas. I like how there are a lot of bass solos on the record, it being a bass player’s album, but it feels like a band record. I personally am very averse to albums that are “bass” albums, in that the bass is featured way too much, the tracks/cover is a cheesy manipulation or play on the word bass, and it seems really ego driven. This is a record of MUSIC first, and the bass comes out and gets to show what he can do, improvising and through composition, but doesn’t have that excessively “BASS!!” feel. I would give examples of what I’m thinking about, but I don’t want to be insulting to anyone out there in the musical universe. Great composition!

Track 7: Lollipopocalypse

Ok, where did this word come from?! Lolly pops, pop music, calypso, apocalypse, hmmmm….. Children with candy are bring about the end of the world?! Haahaha, funny title though, and it has a whimsical feel to the tune. More lolly, and less end of days, but that’s how this whole record sounds, it has a very positive vibe, it doesn’t dip into darkness too often. Guitar layers, and now into some rock, part one lolly is over, and now the bombs are dropping, the air raid sirens are blasting, and souls are hurtling to heaven and hell. People are traveling underground to get away from the fallout, dissension in society, yeah, now I’m hearing the nature of the tune and the title. I wish there were more moments like this on the album, more crazy madness, especially with this being the title track. That’s how my ears are though, I just tend towards the more “out” and the more timbral focused stuff, and they’re really going there with this tune. The end rhythms are like the chiming of bells, chiming in the end of the world, the end of the record.

Yet again, my apologies for not getting on this review earlier, but I’m glad I did. This is a great album by a wonderful bassist and composer, Sam Trapchak. Anyone curious about the review should go out and BUY THE ALBUM, Lollipopocalypse!!!!! I’m happy to have listened to it, and gotten a chance to review it, perfect way to start my morning here in the early 2012!!! This record is bringing in the New Year to me right, check it out!

Monday, January 2, 2012

John Cage meets Beethoven, Smiley Series

This is a short post for two quick projects.

I read in Christian Wolff's collected book of writings, called "Cues," him talking about John Cage. Apparently John Cage told Wolff at one point that "The sound of all nine Beethoven symphonies played at the same time is as experimental as it gets." I thought about this for awhile, and just tonight uploaded videos onto youtube from protools manipulated files of all the movements of all nine Beethoven symphonies split into 24 tracks, and multi tracked on top of each other. You can find the first part of three parts here.

The second part is about "Smiley Series." This began simply with the Fort Collins' Tour de Fat weekend of 2011 hosted by New Belgium brewery, and my friend bringing a slide trumpet along for the bike parade. Later that day, me in my costume (which was a speedo and little else), was jamming out on his slide trumpet, while he took a video. Eventually I got a hold of it and put it on youtube. We thought then I should start a series of one minute videos, playing various instruments, in a speedo. The first video is here, and the one I recorded tonight is here, which is me playing melodica with a "devo" hat on. The next one may involve electronics, or beer bottles, or something of that nature, which other possible variations in location/clothing etc... I want the series to evolve organically, with some basic elements intact, for this performance art scene. Eventually it will be great to stack the audio on top of each other, for an isolated piece, when I have more videos up. Stay tuned and look for "Smiley Series" on youtube!