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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.

Belo Dun: The White City and The Lost Tribe

Keep ignoring these. Just playing around, seeing where it leads. Also, yes i know the names all suck. If i stop to fret over the names i’ll lose the flow of writing, so… sucky names are fine.

…………………..

During the Great Migration of the Somnian Era, in which the Savonic people fled their eastern homeland across the Palo Mountains, one of their 7 tribes became lost and never arrived at their eventual homeland. The Savs had fled due to the… Trouble that is only discussed in detail by very particular scholars, and the works which go into detail about the nature of the Trouble many only be viewed by one who has several specific degrees issued by only particular universities. To wit, it’s not that no one knows what happened, it’s just that those who know are few and far between and they are very cautious about who they tell. Legends speak of a vast area where.. what is there is not of here.

So the Savonics fled and one of their tribes was lost. The lost tribe wandered into an enormous forest, came out in another stretch of plain and were never able to find their way back. There are some who say they were lured by elemental spirits who wished to enter into lustful contact with these strange new human creatures that had not previously been seen about those parts. There is much ancient artwork that depicts very sensual relations between people and earth spirits and water spirits. They say those who entered into lustful relations with air spirits became mystics and those who entered into lustful relations with fire spirits gave birth to a lineage of warriors. Indeed, the two people who shall factor into our story come from a mixed breed of air and fire elemental lineage. There are also some reported to have conjugated with metal spirits and there are rumors that there exists a hidden breed who are said to derive from a lineage of crystal spirits, but who are almost impossible to find, save by a select few.

However, there are some schools of mystics, from the air lineage, who say the elemental spirits who seduced that lost tribe all those years ago were just pawns. The tribe was maneuvered this area by some local gods to be used in what some describe as a game, and others describe as a serialized, sexual psychodrama these gods engage in. A living sexualized, sado masochistic story dance impossible for humans to fully appreciate, but is the main entertainment of the gods. A single series, or complete dance, can last several centuries from beginning to end.

The lost tribe had been lured into an area ruled by twin gods, Belo Bog and Crno Bog, that is the White God and The Black God. The continent was said to be divided into provinces where dual gods ruled. The great prairies to the north were said to be contain a brother and sister divinity of Chance and Fate where an albino tribe lived, and just to the west of where this lost tribe settled was said to be home to a pair of gods, Chaos and Order.

To be fair, this sounds like the ramblings of a half mad drug fiend, and indeed it may be. But this is what they say and believe, so this is the history we tell.

The lost tribe thrived and built towns and even a city. They worshiped the twins, mostly the White God, but there were rumors that the Black God had its monasteries and monks too, they existed in the cracks and their congregations you would never know of to pass in the streets. The priests and the monks however were given gifts by the Black God, gifts strange and terrible.

The lost tribe and its great White City were conquered by the peoples to the west, the Khazurks, who were outwardly expanding. All their lands were subjugated and their rulers disposed.  The territories were governed instead by Viziers, appointed by the Khzurk capital, and tasked with preserving Order and keeping peace. Harsh methods were not shied away from in keeping the conquered people in line.

Theologians have written commentaries at length about the visions of various mystics, and it is impossible to discern which narrative is true as so many visions conflict and those of the religious persuasion can simply pick the vision that best agrees with their preconceptions. However, what is clear and undisputed is that there was some psychodrama amongst the gods, between both the Twins and the Gods of Choas and Order. Some say Order and Belo Bog, the White God came to an agreement, decided to work together and see what happened. Others say their relationship was romantic, sexual and it caused great friction between their siblings. Others say the opposite is true, it was Chaos and Crno Bog, the Black God was became lovers. Some say Belo Bog and Chaos, or Order and Crno Bog, some say there is an long slow orgy of the gods happening as we speak and the events on these territories are reflections of what is currently happening in that celestial orgy.

Some of course get very, very upset by the orgy theory and prefer a metaphor that involves the card game Bridge or some other political illustration. Some psychodrama is clearly happening amongst these four gods and those down here are either running to stay clear of the moving chess pieces, or running to become one.

The story we shall telling involves a father and a daughter, both picked as key pieces by one of these 4 gods and set against each other. It is said if one can figure out which piece is represented by which god one can see the game itself and transcend this foul level of being, perhaps moving upwards in the long, long spiritual journey from Piece To Player.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Thus Spake The Vampir

Just ignore this. I need to start writing shit down or i’m not going to remember everything. Right now this is as good a place as any.

…………………………….

The Vampir respresents the Black God, Crno Bog, or even perhaps is a monk for the Black God.

The Vampir’s argument is that not only can he enable Dragan to gain the vengeance he craves, Dragan is indeed obligated to take it. This is about duty and order in the world over one’s selfishness.

While the desire for vengeance may feel selfish, in the same way that hunger which leads to feeding oneself is, there is ever a greater picture, and it is vengeance that is the non selfish act as where forgiveness and turning the other cheek is the selfish act.

Every person’s fate is sealed by their actions. Actions have consequences. Actions have an equal reaction. This is mathematics and physics. This is the laws of the universe which keep it in order. A man commits a misdeed. Well that misdeed has consequences and the man must face his resulting fate. A man committed a misdeed and Dragon is that fate come.  Fate wears many masks. Karma has many hands and if you are the hand karma has chosen, who are you to abdicate that responsibility?

The monk, the Belo Bog, The White God’s mouthpiece may advocate love and forgiveness and the turning of the cheek, a wonderful sentiment as is often found amongst the young and idealistic, those who demand that those in charge make a better world appear, despite that they themselves cannot hold to the same standard they idealistically set and demand that their elders adhere to. However, turn the cheek and you do not simply abdicate your responsibility towards the role which higher powers and purposes have perhaps ordained for you, but you create unbalance. Now the world is unbalanced and order has been set off course. An action is lacking an appropriate reaction. A vampir is nothing if not concerned with Order. That balance in all things is maintained. And for what is this imbalance created? A selfish sense of piety? A selfish wish to “move on”?

The time for selfishness is after duty is done. Vengeance is just the carrot to motivate the human mule. The operation of fate, the moral balance of the world, order and just consequence are what are truly at work here. Take my hand. Make the pact. Let the natural order of things be as they should and worse case scenario, should all your attempts come to naught, your death will not be a victory for the Vizier, but instead his very downfall.

– Thus Spake the Vampir.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The Next Big Project

In about 2 to 3 weeks i will have a meeting and based on how that meeting goes i will be able to confirm or deny what my next big project will be. I’m fairly certain it will come to pass as my level of obsession and excitement is at an all time high, comparable only to the unbridled obsession with which i wanted to make a steampunk opera.

It will be different then the past few years and the series of musical operas i’ve done, Dolls to Slenderman. If it’s greenlit i’ll likely start a new blog for it. It will not only be a different creature, but it’s time to embrace a new phase. I’ve gone as far as i can with the method i’ve come up with and employed from Dolls to Slenderman. I’m going to start becoming stale if i keep it up. Move forward or die.

So here is the likely next project, although this is just speculative rumor, this meeting hasn’t happened yet and the party i’m meeting with will have their own ideas and agenda i am not privvy to yet. Based on what i’ve been asked to do, this is what i’m presenting at the table:

I would be hired to create a rock opera. Easy, right? I mean, i’m definitely the guy. Unlike the past series of musicals i’ve been doing this one will be different in a number of aspects:

– this will not come out of my studio. The demo will, but this will be written for a hand picked, live rock band. About 5 musicians who will play the piece live at a large rock festival here in Europe. (Not to mention the singers) No big multitracked affair, five to 6 very good live musicians. Guitar, violin (ideally), keyboards, bass, drums. Could be either a second guitarist or keyboardist, but for now let’s stick to 5. I Played live, then recorded live. I will rehearse the band personally, although i may or may not actually play in it. (i’d prefer not too. The stress of the big live gig isn’t something i really want to deal with.)

– This will resemble my album The Fallen more than say, Dolls. Despite that it will certainly be a rock opera, with a clear storyline and characters, it will feature a lot more instrumental passages. From Dolls on, it’s been all singing all the time. This would have many more instrumental interludes, middles sections, solos, etc. Think The Wall or Lamb Lies Down. And there’d be a bunch of random prog elements much like Phish’s Gamehenge cycle. (Anyone who starts in with “but you said it’s an opera… therefor it must….” can please leave now. If genre boxes are a big thing to you, i’m surprised we made it this far, but perhaps we should give each other our keys back and take your toothbrush.

– The story will be simpler. Much simpler. Also, and i’ll probably lose a third of you right now, we’re going to skip most of the fantastic elements this time around. I’m not saying it won’t have any, i haven’t had the big conversation yet, but my vision is of a grounded piece. Real world. High emotions for sure, rock solid plot, but much simpler than usual.

On a side note, one of the best pieces of constructive criticism i got in the past few months, was from my buddy Kevin, who pointed out that there are so few actual arias in my operas. He’s right. There were some in Dolls, and then it went downhill from there (although there’s the giant, 7 minute one in Room). When a character has a big solo song it’s usually plot oriented or  all about character background. That’s not an aria. An aria is a character delivering a rumination on a particular subject. So Annabel’s Lament and Priscilla Considers are both arias. Annabel’s Lament taught me how to use a solo song as an opportunity to deliver character background and i began doing that exclusively. I’m going to heed this advice and there will once again be arias.

So, simpler story. Not fantastical, real world. Scale it all down. Although the music will be complex. Instead of lavish orhecstrations there will be lots of changes and dynamic juxtapositions and proggish flourishes. Once again, think The Fallen meets Gamehenge, although with a leaner, meaner, tighter band expressing that live energy.

The band will be stunning. I will have access to truly excellent musicians (through the gentleman i’ll have the meeting with). I intend to make use of them. There’s even a few Zappa improve techniques i’m working on.

– OK Computer meets The Wall meets Phish’s Gamehenge Cycle meets post rock meets Lamb Lies Down meets vocals from Jesus Christ Superstar. THAT is what i’m going to make and while it will be very different from what i’ve been doing and some will long for New Albion (and i love you for it), it will never the less be one of the handful of things i’ll be remembered for after i’m dead. For those who like the type of thing i’m going for, i’m going to do it REALLY, REALLY, REALLY well. One of the best you’ve ever heard. And it will sound like a band. Like a band RIPPING shit to SHREDS while singers pull and push your reproductive groin bits into your stomach and kiss you as you moan and weep.

The reason i think this is because once in a blue moon i get inspired like this. A new idea, just sort of presented to me… sure, yeah,. sounds okay… and then a few hours later it begins out of nowhere. I find myself composing the music in my head. Obsessively. I don’t have anything to go on, i don’t even have a speculation about what anything is about, i just start composing music in my head and can’t stop. For DAYS. I just keep going at it. I don’t mean to. There;’s nothing here to go at, this isn’t even a real thing yet. But still i keep playing with ideas and they just keep coming.

Maybe. Like i said, this is just speculation. Nothing is confirmed. Meeting is still a couple weeks away. But i want this with the same fury i wanted Dolls to happens. I will bend reality to my will. I can’t do that often, but every few years when a truly new opportunity excites me…

Not all with me now may wish to come along for the ride. (Or may come but not enjoy it).  I will miss you, i love you, and we will meet up soon enough. For those that are into it, come. There is a new world we are going to go to. It will be different then the ones we’ve just played in a for the past few years, (although let’s be honest, i am me, and there is only so much i can change stylistically) but i am going to make something new and different and one of the best things i’ve ever done or die trying.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

A Slenderman Musical! (Notes on the Zoe & Timothy banter)

For those of you not aware, A Slenderman Musical is out now. Give it a listen. If you like it, buy it! Support the artists who have worked hard on this.

A Slenderman Musical by Paul Shapera

Okay, a few notes on the Zoe & Timothy banter, which is actually my favorite part of the piece.

For this project i did something i haven’t done before, i made a detailed, written outline of everything up until the end of the 2nd act before i started on any music. I did not do the 3rd act because, and here’s a dirty little secret, except for the Atompunk Opera i have never known what was going to happen in the final act in ANY of these operas, and do not figure it out until i am well over half way through composing the piece. I don’t mean to do this, it’s just how it works out.

There is a great degree of things that happen while working on a piece that you cannot plan for, that happen spontaneously during the course of creation and that you should respond to as it happens. Let this new unforeseen thing live. Let it change the piece even. The Zoe & Timothy banter is one such thing.

In the outline, Timothy died at the end of Act 1. That was it for him. Spend an Act building him up then kill him. It’s a horror trope thing. Zoe takes over and that’s all there is. I had three volunteer listeners this time around (plus Kevin Hulburt, who i always sucker in), and when i sent them the outline, Christopher Webster in particular made a very impassioned case for keeping Timothy around. Later, when i sent the first act demo out (but before starting on Act 2), Kevin Hulburt too made an impassioned plea for keeping Timothy in the game.

When i ask for feedback, the truth is, i’m going to ignore 90% of what you say. I’m looking for that 1 out of 10 comment i didn’t consider which makes a bell go off.  This was different. But… two impassioned pleas for Timothy… hmm.  I considered what to do with him.

I did have a problem with Zoe that needed work. Act 2 has 3 character arcs: Jordan, Samuel and Zoe. Jordan and Samuel’s acrs are clear, but all Zoe really does is find her way to the Librarians. Not much arc. She could see the Abbey along the way and allow me to paint it a bit… all right… it’s not a character arc but maybe i’ll forgo an arc and just do this.

When i considered what kind of back and forth i would need to have at the end of Welcome To The Decadent Abbey it occurred to me that Zoe hasn’t had a body in a long time, and wouldn’t you… want to flirt? Have sex? Get a drink? If you had been without a body for several years wouldn’t you be desperate for sushi, beer and a little… you know. She can’t have sushi, no time between getting inside Timothy and the Slenderman taking her out of our World. I don’t even think she would actually have sex with Jordan. I think her heart if too focused on her Reina and her goal. (Yeah, for the record, she wouldn’t actually go through with it.) But she would flirt, Zoe would totally flirt.  Which led to Timothy having something to say about it, which brings him back in the game. (The conversation is mostly Zoe trolling him as she wouldn’t actually bed Jordan under the circumstances and enjoying the banter as a way of taking her mind off of the weird shit.)

This is where the important thing happened.

I liked the Zoe & Timothy 1 banter. It wasn’t the first of many back and forths, it was just the one. But i liked it. And i went away for a weekend to some mountain and sat out drinking a beer on a balcony by myself at night thinking about the piece, and that’s when i came to understand something very important: Not only was the Zoe and Timothy discussion really good and i should do it more, but it’s the most important part of the entire piece. The piece is missing a heart. The back and forth, the friendship that grows between Zoe and Timothy through their banter, which i should put EVERYWHERE I CAN, is the heart of the entire piece.

The musical is really about alienation and connection. Alienation is the killer. It drives Timothy to despair, almost to the end of his road. It destroys Jordan. It takes Samuel down, all in their ways. By forming a honest connection, Zoe and Timothy are able to make it through. It is their connection that makes this possible. Alienation causes all the troubles in the musical, even Mother suffers from it and sends her tall, thin son to solve it for her. Connection saves everything in the piece, including stopping the Slenderman attacks, and it is Zoe and Timothy’s bond that is the seed from which all other connections in the show are made.

Furthermore, i’m going to build that connection to a point where i am going to make a love song between a straight guy and a lesbian with absolutely no sexual tension whatsoever, no romantic anything at all between them, just an honest bond forged from mutual respect in dire circumstances.

And with that, my understanding of what i was doing writing this musical truly came alive.

The banter is designed to seem to fill the cracks between plot holes, which is misdirection, because as far as i’m concerned, it is the most crucial aspect of the show, without which those plot points lack a heart and soul to bring them together.

So there you go, my thoughts on the Zoe and Timothy banter.

Oh yeah, if you haven’t listened to the musical a few times through, uhm, spoilers.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Check Out A Slenderman Musical! (and a note of thanks)

So, just to reiterate: A Slenderman Musical is out. Check it out,

A Slenderman Musical by Paul Shapera

My deepest thanks to all who have bought the album and sent me kind words. Those kind words of praise mean more than i can possibly tell you. Seriously, thank you.

I urge anyone who enjoys the album to please spread it across the net. Word of mouth is more precious then gold. You would be doing my an immeasurable favor and ensuring that i am able to afford to keep making projects like this.

As for what’s next, i have no idea. I’m going to rest a bit and consider.

I have met an incredible new singer, Psyche Corporation. You should REALLY check out her work.

I’ll tel you this, whatever happens next, her voice is going to be all over it. (Lauren’s not going anywhere, i’m just adding to the roster. I do want to diversify voices.)

Perhaps on the next outing i should really try something radically different. I fear i risk all these operas starting to be similar, the same things hashed out over and over again. I do not want to get redundant. On the other hand, making stories through songs is my calling. it is what i do and will keep on doing. We’ll see what happens next. Stay tuned. I’ll come up with something.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

A Slenderman Musical Is Out Now!

A Slenderman Musical is officially out now! A weird, creepy and oddly touching song and story cycle for your ears! Listen! Buy! Keep me alive to write more bizarre and far fetched things!

A Slenderman Musical by Paul Shapera

Click the picture! Click here!
2 hours of rock musically goodness!

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Tomorrow

A Slenderman Musical by Paul Shapera

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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