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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.

Watch Psyche Chimère Perform ‘Han Mi’s Evil Plot’ From Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret

Psyche Chimère from Psyche Corporation performs the middle section of the 2nd song of Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret, Han Mi’s Evil Plot. Psyche is playing Han Mi on the upcoming album.

Every week the cabaret has a loose plotline, usually involving Han Mi planning some dastardly scheme and the sheriff foiling her. This week the scheme is supposed to be a stagecoach robbery, but Han Mi tells Miss Helen that the idea is stupid and cliche and unimaginative and she’s not doing it. Instead, she proposes this week they do an evil plan she came up with herself. This is that evil plan:

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Animation Video For Dieselpunk Overture

Wow! So this 17 year old high school kid in France, Théophile Lecroart, made an animation vid to the first half of the Dieselpunk Opera Overture! And very nicely i might add. Here it is:

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The Internal Struggle With Dialogue And Recitative

A major component of musical storytelling i spend a lot of time contemplating and struggling with is how to deliver the in between song details. In the New Albion Trilogy i used a singing narrator for parts 1 and 3, but experimented with flat out spoken narration in Dieselpunk and the The Room Beneath. I even incorporated bits of dialogue, although spoken dialogue makes me very, very nervous. Still, i was pleased with the results so i continued to push the envelope.

By Slenderman i was confident enough to experiment with more and more spoken dialgue, including a type of recitative in some of the Zoe/Thomas exchanges. There was a lot of this type of exchange in the piece, indeed it was the heart of the piece, but moving forward i would never go quite that far again. And i question whether it worked, or where it worked and where it didn’t.

I have not listened to either The Slenderman Musical or The Atompunk Opera since they were released. I mean to… one day… but i really need to listen to Slenderman because i need to see what lessons i should have learned. I listened to The Hunt finally a few days ago and wanted to ritually kill myself with a samurai sword out of shame of doing a bad job. (Although giving the Slenderman a handjob was still magnificent.) This is nothing new, i’ve felt that way about every single album i’ve done at some point or another. I’ve been ashamed of Dolls, Dieselpunk, everything really at some point. Then i listen again some time much and think “oh, that’s not bad at all.” This is life.

In the Weird West Cabaret there is a significant amount of… stuff, character interaction, plot development, that occurs in between the main songs. This is one of the reasons i decided on a cabaret. Unlike the oddity of characters speaking or sing-interacting in a musical or opera, a cabaret can quite naturally have all sorts of dialogue and recitative devices occurring in between songs.

However, i’m still nervous and it’s still tricky. I worry that i really fucked this aspect up in Slenderman (although i could just listen to it a decide for myself after all this time) and wish to be very, very careful. But i also wish to continue my experiments and to play.

I have some spoken bits that i KNOW work. And they fit the form. And they’re the right quick, cute length. And some sung bits… i question. But if push comes to pull i need to favor sung bits. Because by the end, the interactions need to take place in multi-character epic songs. You know, like The Day They Come, where everybody sings at once. Well there’s a bunch more of that coming, and the piece needs to establish that as how its universe works. Yes, in this world people TOTALLY sing their thoughts back and forth to each other. In Dolls it works perfectly because no one EVER speaks, so this is easy to except.

But if we speak sometimes but not always, will this compromise the moments when we must sing our back and forth emotional dialogue? Do i cut out the speaking altogether? I really like the speaking bits… they work and i’m damn sure of it. If i did , though what the fuck do i do? I hate recitative, although i tried very hard to play with it during the initial Zoe/Thomas exchanges in Slenderman and i’m pretty sure they worked, although i REALLY need to listen to that damn thing. But i don’t want to repeat that, and i’m not going to.

I have a part where two performers are singing to each other in a beautiful melody (not a love song though) and i’m questioning whether it works. Because the lyrics lean towards a conversation. In a formal melody it’s almost… out  or place. Still deciding on that, but it got me thinking and looking for solutions.

Then yesterday the concept of Sondheim recitative suddenly occurred to me. Sondheim doesn’t do recitative and yet he does. his characters deliver dialogue-like thoughts in melodic form, using a particular type of Sondheimish melody structure that works fantastically.

Into The Woods is a masterclass in delivering various types of dialogue without breaking the musical world. There IS actual spoken bits, there’s back and forth sung dialogue using melodies that make the cadence feel natural, there’s whatever the hell On The Steps Of The Palace is… a perfect, gorgeous properly sung song that at the same time is EXACTLY like spoken dialogue…

 

But of course what we are more interested in is delivering a dialogue-like communication in a non spoken form. Sondheim famously hates recitative and as a result creating a new form of it that perhaps i should use as inspiration to solve my quandry.

On the other hand, it is a cabaret, It has a playful quality at times, being a small performance that can deliver spoken bits and shtick quite naturally as an intregal part of the very form itself. But yet it gets serious as it goes on, and that seriousness need reflected in the way the character interactions happen. What works closer to the beginning won’t work exactly the same in the later bits.

So i ponder.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Help The Mechanisms record their fourth studio album “The Bifrost Incident”

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The Mechanisms are having as Kickstarter in order to fund their new album.

We’ve featured The Mechanisms here several times, but if you’re late to the game… “The Mechanisms are a seven-piece steam/cyber/diesel/punk-punk band based in London, who tell epic science fiction stories by taking a bunch of myth and shaking them up with an unhealthy amount of folk-prog-rock. You’ve all heard our first trilogy: the fairytale space opera “Once Upon A Time (In Space)” (2012), the cyberpunk noir thriller “Ulysses Dies At Dawn” (2013), and the spaghetti western “High Noon Over Camelot” (2014). We’ve taken all of them to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, netting four and five star reviews.”

Rachel Hughes of The Mechanisms even played Mother in the Slenderman Musical.

Well now our saucy band of space pirates are looking to record their 4th album and they’ve started a Kickstarter. Which, once again, is here.

Please consider donating. The more money, the more studio time they get. They are SO freaking  interesting and i for one would LOVE to see how they develop further. So go give them a push.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Dream On Performed By Postmoern Jukebox ft. Morgan James (Aerosmith Cover)

And to think you didn’t even know you wanted to hear a dieselpunk era band play one of the best versions of this song you’ll ever hear in your life! You lived your life not even knowing how happy these 5 minutes and 21 seconds would make you. Oh, how much poorer we were before those 5 minutes and 21 seconds, because during them,  lie was awesome.

 

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The Saloon And More New Lost Hallow Art by Sarah de Buck

We’ve got a bunch of awesome new artwork by Sarah de Buck including the Saloon, whihc i particularly love. She also included some stuff centered around Miss Helen’s song. I sent her all the songs i have so far. She seemed to rather like that one a lot and thus a bunch of art from it.

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lost hallow art sarah de buck weird west cabaret steampunk

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Posted by on July 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Can You Come Up With Erotic Gay Scenarios With A Touch Of Humor?

Why dont you folks help me with Henry The Alchemist’s song. Come on, it’ll be fun.

So think Jekyll and Hyde. Banner and Hulk. Henry is a shy, nervous, science nerd. Alchemy is his thing. He hasnt had many boyfriends. When he does he’s pretty monogomous. Very not the fooling around type. Honestly, he’s simply way more into his alchemy then he is into socializing and takes his one one intimacy very seriously.

The town Henry lives in (not Lost Hallow) had some misfortune befall them and some type of interdimensional tear occurred near the town through which horrible, foul, unholy monsters can now come through, looking to destroy the town and suck the souls of its citizens like sucking on a popsicle. The town’s demise is clearly near. 

Henry has been working on an experimental formula…

You see where this is going?

Henry drinks the potion which changes him into Hurl, the Hyde/Hulk side of the equation. Pretty standard so far. Hurl obviously is a raging badass. Hurl can totally take on these hell monsters. Hell, Hurl loves it, as long as the alcohol doesnt run out. Hurl loves to drink, fuck and fight, in that order. Hurl is a ferocious Id. After Hurl defeats the monsters, Hurl does not like to change back into Henry, so he goes on 3 day benders. When Henry resumes consciousness days later he is often in some strange town 100 miles away, in some nasty room above a saloon, naked men passed out all over the room and no alcohol left in the entire bar. Sometimes the entire town.

Hurl causes trouble for Henry. The effects of the potion can never be undone.  So Henry tries not to change into Hurl. Oh yeah, the thing that triggers the change? Not anger. An erection. Whenever Henry gets aroused he changes into Hurl. So he tries to never get aroused. Except sometimes that’s unavoidable. And sometimes events make it necessary.

Heres where you come in. There are two types of situations which occur which you can suggest. ( I would add, this whole scenario can be deconstructed along sexual political lines which i promise, Han Mi does. For now dont sweat it and stick to the fun aspect). zplease suggest scenarios for either Situation A or B.

Situation A:

Just like Bruce Banner tries constantly to never get angry, Henry tries to never get aroused. Sometimes, despite their best efforts, this fails. These are instances of Situation A.

Situation B:

Holy fuckdangle! An ugly, unholy monstrously has breached the rift! That sumbich is headed right towards town! We need Hurl! However, Henry is not in an amorous mood. Maybe he even took something to keep his libido at bay. The mayor and city council are freaking out trying anything they can think of to get Henry horny. These are instances of Situation B.

It should be obvious the point is to have fun with this. All that homosexual subtext in Jekyll & Hyde? Fuck the subtext, lets throw it out on the table and wave it around the room. And who can resist taking all those Bruce Banner moments “No! I mustn’t… get… angry. Must… keep… calm…” and turning them into sex jokes. Plus i get make subtle, delicate horror meets western cowboy banjo funk, turns into industrial music meets  P-Funk choruses. Which… it sounds better in my head then it comes out on paper. 

Anyway, i will incorporate suggestions. The floor is yours.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 
 
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