RSS

Author Archives: paulms

About paulms

My name is Paul Shapera, a musician working under the name Mocha Lab. I make albums, theater shows, videos, dance pieces, commercials and move around a lot.

The German Horror Hotel

This is not a movie, this is a real place.

Before we get started, let me just say that after i finish this last mix i believe i am finally done mixing the damn thing. At the very least i am certainly TIRED AS F*** of mixing it. I shall do one last listen through tonight, and then hopefully that is it. Mixed, done, uploaded. And of course we are very close to the release of Act 2. So, yay!

This is Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin, where there are 31 different rooms you can sleep in based on which nightmare you wish to have.

 

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

The Propeller Island City Lodge  german horror hotel

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

North Korean Architects’ Design Visions Of The Future

These are designs made in 2014, although it’s astonishing how atompunk they are. Possibly because, let’s be honest, North Korea is living in 60 and 70s level technology. The sophisticated urbanites, that is.  Created by architects from Paekdusan Construction and Architectural Research Institute, the two organisations which design and build most of the government-issued projects in the country. These visions were curated by Nick Bonner, the proprietor of Beijing-based Koryo Tours — the group responsible for some of the most incredible Instagram photos taken behind the DPRK curtain.

“For the project — which was four years in the making — the architects were asked to create proposals for what tourism might someday look like in North Korea. It’s an interesting proposition to consider since the idea of visitors freely entering the state is a completely foreign concept to residents at the moment. While some ideas are simply wacky, it’s also fascinating to see how many elements of urban design that are commonplace in Western world are presented as “utopian” visions for the future. The desire to live in and engage with the natural environment is probably the most prominent theme.

Even though the real-world prevalence of bunker-like Soviet-era structures in North Korea don’t necessarily infer a design-centric culture, architecture itself holds a prized role in the society. In 1991 Kim Jong-Il wrote a book entitled On Architecture where he described the ideal architectural style for his people: “There cannot and should not be a modern form of architecture that is devoid of national characteristics. Architecture that has been created to reflect the people’s requirements in a new age, in keeping with the modern aesthetic feelings and modern civilised life is architecture that embodies modernity, namely, modern architecture.” While that particular statement doesn’t really make any sense, it’s clear that the Dear Leader did envision himself as some kind of master planner, with a specific aesthetic vision for North Korean urban design.”

north korea future design

north korea future design

north korea future design

north korea future design

north korea future design

north korea future design

north korea future design

north korea future design

north korea future design

north korea future design

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The Gloriously Unrealistic Atompunk Mega City

Wow, it turns out that waiting a week in between Act releases is actually torturous for me as well as you. I WANT YOU TO SEE WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.

But alas, wait we must. So in the meantime here’s a bit of fun and wonder inspired by and often blatantly and shamelessly taking from Dark Roasted Blend’s Retro-Future: Glorious Urbanism.

Nowdays, especially in the West, the idea of the megacity has lost its luster. The urban hell and environmental nightmare that goes along with it has been discarded in favor of more sustainable visions of future population clumps. But during much of the 20th city, retro future vision of wondrous mega cities abounded.

A quick note here as to the size of New Albion. I have made a point of never really saying just how big or small it is. We do know that it is a city state, as are most cities in the region of the continent it is on, but its size will remain undisclosed. Eventually artists will come along and portray New Albion (some even have) and i leave such visions open to interpretation.

“See that gleaming Metropolis on the horizon? – these majestic towers were something to aspire to, to dream about, to shape your life accordingly in an effort to reach it, and finally attain it as the ultimate reward… Such ideas were popular during the infant days of futurism in the 1920s, then in fantastic literature on both sides of the Atlantic during the Golden Age of Wonder in the 1930s, until finally, these grandiose visions fizzled out sometime in the 1980s together with the general decline of futurism.”

 

 

Atompunk megacity retro future city

Atompunk megacity retro future city

Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

Atompunk megacity retro future city

Many visions of the inevitable megacity saw it with wonder and optimism. It would be a place where every science miracle of the future would be contained, the edges of what the 20th century human mind could dream.

 

However, there were others who say a darker, gothic vision, like architectural draftsman Hugh Ferriss. “Through his moody chiaroscuro renderings of skyscrapers, he virtually invented the image of Gotham visitors came to the city to see and residents identified with so fondly. As Michael Mallow puts it: “By the mid-twenties, renderings by Ferriss had become almost de rigeur for successful competition projects; countless skyscrapers waited their turn to be bathed in the dark monumentality emanating from his drafting table. In these works a blasé department store appears as a giant lording over its block. Stodgy hotels cease to be stodgy hotels and become looming silhouettes emerging from the urban haze like shipwrecks. Ferriss went to grand new lengths in suppressing detail for mood, and clients loved it.””

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future cityhugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

Ferriss wasn’t alone. Artists such as William Robinson Leigh were coming out with these megacity visions as early as 1908, which would become enormously inspiring to both modernists and futurists.

william robinson leigh Atompunk megacity retro future city

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

william robinson leigh Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

hugh ferris Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

King Champ Gillette’s 1894 proposal:

King Champ Gillette Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

European modernists like Charles-Edouard “Le Corbusier” Jeanneret and Ludwig Hilberseimer were revolutionaries, fascinated with large-scale schemes that would wipe away the old order and comprehensively reorganize cities for personal mobility via the automobile. The selling points were speed, efficiency, cleanliness and progress, a message that played especially well in America. A 1924 proposal:

Ludwig Hilberseimer, Hochhausstadt, 1924 Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

And let’s add a modern take on the theme from Ryan Bliss:

Ryan Bliss Atompunk megacity retro future city

But of course, it wasn’t just the West dreaming big. Especially in the atompunk era following WWII, the Soviets dreamed big of a glorious future full of megacities.

Soviet megacity Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

Soviet megacity Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

 

Soviet megacity Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

Soviet megacity Atompunk megacity retro future city

Soviet megacity Atompunk megacity retro future city

Soviet megacity Atompunk megacity retro future city

Soviet megacity Atompunk megacity retro future city

Soviet megacity Atompunk megacity retro future city

Soviet megacity Atompunk megacity retro future city

 

Yes, for a few shining decades the megacity of the future looked glorious, instead of the soul sucking, over populated, environmentally disastrous hell hole it would actually have been. The mega city encapsulates much of modernism in one fell swoop, with all its theoretically glory and realistic idiocy.

Atompunk megacity retro future city

Atompunk megacity retro future city

Atompunk megacity retro future city

Atompunk megacity retro future city

r5

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

What Should I Make Next?

Atompunk

Hi all.

Let me begin by thanking each and every one of you who are listening to, liking (and buying, bless your souls!) An Atompunk Opera. My deepest, deepest thanks. And trust me, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Acts 3 and 4 are where the payoff happens. Keep riding along and trust me, i won’t let you down on this one.

I have two questions:

1. What should i do as my next “opera”? I am taking suggestions. The only rule i’d point out, please don’t recommend an existing book or story. Writing the story is half the fun (and i couldn’t possibly afford the rights to an existing work anyway). This whole thing came about because i said “steampunk opera” as a throwaway thing. Those two words, not meant in any seriousness sparked the 3 albums (and one day i hope, world famous live show).

I do not plan to stop writing epics like this. These operas have taught me an enormous amount. ENORmous. Now i wish to take what i have learned and apply it to a new epic. Since you fine folks are the very people i’m looking to enthrall, i was curious to throw out the question. I haven’t considered it too much (it’s taken a LOT of work, a year of intense effort, just to get the Atompunk Opera done. Almost done. It’s still not perfectly mixed in the later Acts. Every night i listen to the entire thing and hope this will be the night where i don’t have a page of notes. The notes are getting shorter and shorter, but dammit, each night i still have them.) I have a strange idea, but it’s not based around plot, it’s just a musical concept. But i’m not going mention anything, i’m curious what you folks might throw out.

2. As you may know, when i release a physical CD box set in the late fall, i was thinking of including one last Act, an act not in any of the operas. Now, this is not necessarily a good idea. If i do NOT include a last act, then i could release a physical CD set MUCH sooner. I don’t have to write another set of songs. This would be smarter. But let’s pretend for a minute that i’m an idiot (i am) and i actually make anther short song cycle. What time period would you like me to revisit? Between steampunk and dieselpunk? Before atompunk? (i know it’s hard to say about atompunk since you have barely scratched the surface and barely know anything yet. You’ll know much more after Act 2.)

Once again i’m curious. I’m considering that adding more is not a good idea. People who really want a physical CD set shouldn’t have to wait so long, but i’m gonna throw out the idea anyway. Hell, maybe i’ll make a single long song, like New Albion 7. Maybe i’ll just move on to the next “in between epics” project (a series of stories set around the Tarot. It’s a short story album in the Fairy Tale vein) and just release a physical set asap, but i just want to throw out the question. And to be clear, answering question 1 is more important.

 

 
15 Comments

Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Welcome To Act 1 Of An Atompunk Opera

It is wisest to promote the new release of the 1st Act of An Atompunk Opera another day, so i am doing so, but after the link we’ll talk a hair.

If you haven’t heard, the 1st Act of An Atompunk Opera, The New Albion Guide To Analogue Consciousness is here! Listen to it! Buy it! Keep me and the singers alive! Every Tuesday another act will be released.

Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, i hope you are enjoying the first act.  There are a few things i was very specifically attempting to do with it.

First of all, since this is the final piece of a trilogy, the 1st act is designed as a play on numerous parallels and inversions of parallels to A Steampunk Opera. Should you be noticing any of them (and there’s a list of parallels and inversions) i assure you, they’re all quite intentional. I do not do this with the other acts, only this one, but i really wanted to begin the Trilogy closing by riffing and inverting the Trilogy opener.

This opera differs from the first two in that the entire opera carries a much, much greater emphasis on an unfolding plot. I’m not saying there’s no plot unfolding in the other two, i’m just saying that was really a major, prime even, consideration in the AO from the get go. Thus the 1st Act only goes so far and likes to dangle a lot of threads. Oh, it’ll pay off, don’t you worry.

So welcome to the ride. We’ve got a LONG way to go and the next installment is lots of high energy, so thanks for trying out my ride, i promise, i spent a year making my entire life’s mission that by the time this opera is all over, you will have said “Holy fuck” a number of times. Well, the holy fucking is coming, so stay tuned and thank you all for caring and supporting this trilogy. I love you all. We will discuss the future a little later, but rest assured, it’s on its way.

The New Albion Guide To Analogue Consciousness, An Atompunk Opera Paul Shapera

 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Act 1 Of An Atompunk Opera Is Out Now!

Okay kids, here it is. Act 1 of An Atompunk Opera!

The remaining Acts (4 in total) will be released each Tues from here on in.

A few things:

1. Please bear with it. Think of this as a weekely series and this first episode is of course where we set up the pieces. A single act is only 20 something minutes and you may hate me when it suddenly ends. But i’m very curious to try out this format and curious what you think of it in the long run.

2. Don’t forget, your purchase will go straight to paying the singers, those delicious voices you hear who make the opera sound awesome and not like crap. They are literally what brings this thing to life. The poor dears need fed, BY ALL THAT’S HOLY PLEASE FEED THEM.

3. Posting links and tweets and talking about this online is how we have gotten here. It is THE reason there is now 3 of these instead of just 1. Thank you all for that. Please keep it up.

4. I love you all. I hope you enjoy.

The New Albion Guide To Analogue Consciousness, An Atompunk Opera Paul Shapera

 
17 Comments

Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

A Preview Of The Atompunk Opera

Here is a preview for the Atompunk Opera, Act 1 of which is due out Tues, July 8th on Bandcamp.

I didn’t want to release an entire song since i want them to be experienced within the story framework, so i made a 5 minute sampler.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Atompunk Opera Act 1 Release: Tuesday July 8th

The Atompunk Opera, Act 2 Cover by Sarah de Buck . GAWD i love her covers for the acts.

The Atompunk Opera, Act 2 Cover by Sarah de Buck . GAWD i love her covers for the acts.

You know, it occurs to me i should actually just come out and say it clearly and succinctly.

So, you know, that title up there. Tuesday, July 8th Act 1 of the Atompunk Opera comes out. Each following act will come out each tuesday. Why Tuesdays? Why not?

Tonight will be the first night i listen to the entire thing, although Act 4 is a rush mix job. Really, only Act 1 is well mixed. Act 2 is decent, Act 3 a little sloppier, you get it. But i haven’t had time until now to give Act 4 a quick mix, so tonight i finally get to hear the entire thing. A night like tonight is one of the best listening sessions. It’s still exciting, i’m not sick of it, it’s a moment i spend an entire year of work looking forward to.

So anyway, Tuesday. Act 1.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Mixing

The New Albion Guide To Analogue Consciousness, An Atompunk Opera

And so once again we find ourselves in mixing mode.

There is no question i will be able to release the first act on Tues, July 8th, so expect it.

Mixing is good fun. I usually do not come home with too many takes from each vocalist. About 3, sometimes 2 if the vocalist is insanely consistent. Some vocalists will give the exact same performance each time they sing a track, and assuming there’s nothing wrong with it, there’s no point in having too many tracks to go sort through. Kayleigh is a perfect example of this. She’s consistent like a rock. She’s like a fundamental law of physics. You don’t need 5 takes. You ALWAYS need a back up, though. ALWAYS. Never go home with 1 take. EVER.

Others will change nuances with each take. Lauren for instance flows and morphs and is alive with each separate moment. So i always want 3 takes of her, because i might decide i like the nuances of take 3 better when i get home. Even then, going home with 8 takes is simply giving yourself nothing but mixing nightmares and headaches.

If there’s something off about a take you need to tackle that when recording.

If you need to take home 8 takes in order to patch them all together to make one stupendous take, you have already lost. I have had to do this, although not on the operas and certainly nit with these amazing singers. Patching together takes is sometimes a cruel necessity, but it is to be avoided if possible, done if necessary. I am not referring to using verse one of take 1, verse two of take 3, and the choruses from take 2. I mean really patching together different takes to make up a single verse. This will kill a good flow and if you’re doing it, you obviously didn’t have a good take to begin with. If you don’t have a good take to begin with you will never make a great take out of pieces, at best you will put together a competent take. This is sometimes necessary, alas, as sometimes you must work with vocalists who are not quite up to snuff. You work with what you’ve got.

Fortunately the vocalists for not only the Atompunk Opera, but all 3 have been incredible and absolute delights to record and work with. I am luckier beyond words to have them and should probably spend a hell of a lot more time grovelling at their feet, but that’s time i could spend mixing them, so alas, i must cut into grovel time in order to accomplish album making time.

So i decide which take is best (i will often have made notes during the recording session), put some compression and reverb on the vocals, once in a blue moon some delay, de-ess if necessary (De-essing is where i run a vocal through an equalizer where i lower the specific  frequency in which obnoxious “s” sounds come through. While a spit screen helps, some singers naturally have very prominent S’es. Usually some female singers. This is not a problem. D-essing is a great studio technique that takes care of this). Then get a good level with the backing track. Some verses the vocal need to be a little louder ( up to -5.1), some choruses a little softer (down to -7.4).

When there’s a bunch of vocalists singing together, as there often is in the 2nd Act, it takes much longer. Getting it all blended takes time, and i often like to “double” for chorus bits. Doubling is where i record each singer singing each harmony part twice, then play both takes, one panned hard left, the other hard right. It really fills up the sound. I LOVE this technique and use it ALL the time. Hell, i probably overuse it, but no one has written in yet saying they had to stop listening and throw away the album because the doubling drove them nuts, and i do so like it.

I am currently on A2 S5 The Deceit. The 1st Act is in very good shape, although each night when i listen i continue to have more notes. However, each day the notes become fewer and about more tiny things. So last night these are the notes for Act 1:

Overture: 1st 2 kayleighs lower. last kayleigh lower

NA9: guitar lower! Shave off silence at end.

Rachael: good

Mascot: good

Shop: cut off high end on guitar. sniffle before 2nd day by day. Vocs up on transmission

Trite: 1st together someday love. 1st thin breath down a hair. Shave silence off end

.

These type of notes definitely reflect an act that is pretty well mixed and approaching completion.

So there you go, mixing. VERY enjoyable as i FINALLY get to hear what thing i’ve imagined actually sounds like with proper vocalists. OH it’s a delight.

My deepest gratitude to the singers, Kayleigh McKnight, Lauren Osborn and Oliver Marsh who just KILLED it. I can’t wait for y’all to hear it. Tuesday.

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The Atompunk Opera Is Recorded. Initial Release Date May Be…

The New Albion Guide To Analogue Consciousness, An Atompunk Opera Paul Shapera

It is done.

All the vocals for The New Albion Guide To Analogue Consciousness, An Atompunk Opera have been completed. I shall be heading to Heathrow in a few hours where i shall try to sleep for a few hours on a comfy chair, or barring that, a moderately untorturous chair, or barring that, the floor until 5 AM. I shall board a flight and a whole bunch of dumb steps later be back home (around dinner) and commence mixing.

While i do have another work commitment to honor which will take a couple of days, because of the episodic release of the opera, one act a week for four weeks, i don’t ACTually have to mix the entire thing before i release the 1st Act. I just have to mix… the 1st Act. I’ve done a lot of preliminary work here in between the sessions, so i doubt mixing the entire opera would take longer than 10 days in any case. But the first act alone will be pretty simple, most of it is already premixed.

So i think i could release the 1st Act beginning on Tuesday, July 8th is this too soon? Are you all on vacation? Lord knows, i need to pay the poor singers so i need y’all to be around to buy the dam thing.

So, to recap: Atompunk recorded. Maybe Act 1 out July 8th. Badda bing, badda…

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 854 other followers