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.

Album Review: Professor Elemental And His Amazing Friends

p1.jpg

I believe a significant number of regular readers already know who Professor Elemental is, seeing as he’s an iconic part of the steampunk community. For the uninitiated, Professor Elemental is a, yes, steampunkish hip hop artist, serving up endlessly entertaining portions of whimsical, faux victorian sci-fi tropes within lyrical calisthenics delivered by a tea obsessed, safari treking, half mad British persona. And lucky for you he has a new album out.

If this sounds gimmicky, here’s the thing: the secret to why this works and certainly why this particular album works so very, very well, is a mix between ridiculously enjoyable fun and the fact that when you take all the  window dressing away, it’s actually really good. The quality of the lyrics and the beats are impeccable. The rhyming and the hypnotic lure of the tracks cannot be resisted. And this is just the baseline, add all that superfluous detail back in and you have a winning secret formula.

A perfect example of this is Inn At The End Of Time. In this track our Professor ducks into a wonderful excuse to both set up a fun sci-fi scenario and also name drop just about every time travelling pop culture reference he can think of, not to mention a plethora of loving Hitchhiker’s Guide references. And while you’re busy having a nerdgasm, the music and beat behind it is actually wonderful. Tight, moody, atmospheric and immensely satisfying on its own right.

The bulk of the album however is very much firing out an arsenal of electro swing. Electro swing is old swing era music set to modern beats, and old swing era samples set behind  a crisp drum beat while the Professor lyrically dances away on top of it is the overriding musical theme of the album, done to excellent effect. A top notch example is the track Wages Of Gin, where 20s swing, complete with an old female crooner belting out the choruses, is put to a beat over which Professor Elemental delivers a delightful treaty on the horrors of the hangover, presumably after some Gatsby level party. It’s delicious. It’s clever. It’s fun. How can you not have fun?

There’s cute interludes, interplanetary robot hijinks,  adorable guest shticks, swing era musical breaks, and a guarantee you won’t be bored. And yet, interestingly enough, despite all of this, my absolute favorite moment of the album is one where the swing is put aside, the humor is put on hold for a second, and the artist delivers a lyrical flow that’s honest, brutal, and direct, and had me applauding. The second verse of the track Bare Witness is my favorite lyrics on the record hands down. He speaks freely and honestly about the annoyance of the constant hip hop obsession with money, materialism, fame and idolization not to mention misogyny. It’s a sentiment i too feel deeply and it really demonstrates how behind the fun and delight, the album is also full of earnest pleas for inclusion and community and acceptance and a genuine love of every strange and wonderful idea you can think up.

Check out the album here. 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

A Sheriff Easter Egg

Listen to the 3rd track, The Sheriff. The egg is a logical leap in what you near in the 2nd verse “Them summer nights then she would come …” and the next section “as we lay there…”

It’s silly. Let me know when you get it.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on December 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Interview with Paul Shapera, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Sing Along with the Existential Crisis

My favorite interview i’ve ever done. On the Rabbit Hole Podcast.

http://rabbithole-podcast.com/podcast/episode-21-interview-with-paul-shapera-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-sing-along-with-the-existential-crisis/

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Weird West Cabaret Out… Blah Blah Blah.. A Note About The Lost Hollow Addendum

Buy this you capitalist beches.

Miss Helen's Weird West Cabaret

Okay, so… i have forgot to mention this, and it’s something i’ve had planned for months now. Between Acts 2 and 3 of Lost Hollow there will be an EP release, an addendum album.

This will run anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. It will have absolutely no singing. It will not advance the plot. It will be mostly instrumental, although there will be some odd, spoken bits, but once again, nothing that advances the plot. In between acts 2 and 3 will be a half hour instrumental post rock-ish album that does fit into the larger whole, but which is more of a side thing. An addendum. Not for everybody. Not necessary as part of the main storyline. For those who would find that sort of thing annoying, skipping it will not cause you to miss out on anything. It is a companion piece to the main narrative, done because i really wanted to an excuse to make something like this and it fits perfectly with what i’m doing here, but needn’t inconvenience anyone.

Some of you however, will dig it. And that is good. We will dig it together. If you’ve ever wondered if i can make music to be stoned to, this is where we shall find out. Not that i condone that sort of thing, or anything else for that matter. Also, stay in school.

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret Out Now! (Also, Let’s Speak About The Future)

Once again, the Weird West Cabaret is out now. Take a listen. If you like it buy it. Buy it as a Xmas gift for your friends. Buy it and send it to your frenemies. Buy it send it to random people . Leave it in peoples’ mailboxes. Just send the composer envelopes full of cash. Many options await you.

Available here!

Miss Helen's Weird West Cabaret

Okay my little sweets. Let’s talk. First of all i thank each and every one of you once again. There is a mountainous response to this album and i weep with joy and relief. Every time you share it online, post about it, blog about it, an angel visits you in the night and gives you a backrub. Platonic, yes, but i mean a REALLY good massage.

Seriously, i am indebted to you.

Now, let us talk of the next one. Much like this one, after a make an announcement about the next one there is very little i can or will say about for the next X many months until it is released. I despise spoilers. I will take a short break, and really, in that time the big thing i must do is figure out how to plot the next one. I know how it begins, how it ends and some nice moments in the middle there, but there’s a whole lot i need to work out structure wise.

The Cabaret was actually quite difficult to plot out. The plot is.. simple in a sense, but how to get from point A to point Z smoothly was a real conundrum. The next one too is tough in different ways. I don’t have the character background songs to fall back on. (I LOVE character background songs. That was the thing that attracted me to the cabaret  idea, i could split the plot between a long form plot and short song by song plots.) A cabaret is nice and easy to frame. The performance will begin, everyone has a reason to be singing, even a reason to be singing odd, dialoguey stuff, and at the end of the album the performance will end. SO nice and neat.

Moving forward, as with any second act, things get more complicated. They cannot be quite as… well bookended. More stuff gets brought into play. I wish to avoid the Atompunk opera’s one sore spot of being a bit tough to follow. But things must get a little more complicated. There’s some weird shit going on.

I must also introduce 2 more characters. One of whom… oh god you do not know the pleasure it will be to write. OH i cannot wait to write shit for this one character. I squeal with delight. Literally. Squeal. I’m doing it now. You just can’t hear me.

I cannot tell you anything more. I am sorry. I can tell you the working title of the next Act, but that’s it. A long time will pass while i write and record this. It took about 7 months to make the Cabaret. Expect the same. At least. I will not rush. Never again.

But in about 7 months or so will come Act 2 of The Ballad Of Lost Hollow, whose working title, which could TOTALLY change, EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW COULD TOTALLY CHANGE, but for now, just right now, the working title is Mr. Raven’s Super Big Tent Happy Funtime Carnival Show.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on December 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Once Again, Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret Is Now Available! Also: SO?!?

Once Again, Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret Is Now Available! Also: SO?!?

Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret is out now!

This album is a pulp opera: that is, a musical story taking place in a specific pop culture genre, in this case, the weird west. Think the old west meets werewolves, lovecraftian monsters, sinister carnivals, and of course, flying, face eating zombie babies. A small group of performers appear onstage every Saturday night at the town saloon to perform an ongoing cabaret led by Miss Helen. This particular week focuses on the tragedies of their existence with sweeping songs.

Miss Helen's Weird West Cabaret

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, for all those you already listening to it: SO????!!!!??? WHADAYA THINK? I’m dying to know. I just…. sit here in my far off foreign land, making my little… cabaret for… who knows who. I wonder if the thing that i really hoped would work on someone’s heart and psyche actually works. Is anyone even out there i wonder sometimes? Am i alone in here? If anyone’s out there to trust….

On another note: My exTREME thanks to all of you for buying this album. I cannot thank you all enough. I am grateful for each and every single purchase and it is through your overwhelming kindness that i am able to continue making albums. Seriously, i read each name of each person who pops on my notifications from Bandcamp and sometimes i even whisper to your name that you are awesome which i assure you looks very, very creepy on this end especially if you were to just walk in on me talking to my email.

As far as i can tell, reaction seems to be quite favorable. Everyone already knows Lauren is awesome, but Psyche Chimere as Han-Mi seems to be killing it. Lot of love for Han-Mi. If you have a second, i’m DYING to know what people think. I’ve been down here in this basement working on this thing for months and months and months like some mad old coot. Drop a comment if you’re in the mood.

 

 
19 Comments

Posted by on December 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Out Now! Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret!

By Paul Shapera. Featuring Lauren Osborn, Psyche Chimere, and Rhys Owen. Only at Bandcamp. Itunes release next week.

Miss Helen's Weird West Cabaret

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Uncategorized