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Subduction

Today we’re going to listen to some songs from a dreamy, downtempo album i made (as Mocha Lab of course) called Subduction.

(this first one is My Dream Of You, but some awesome person i don’t know took the song and put it to their video of fractals, which, naturally, i adore.)

It features the wonderfully sultry vocals of Milena Jelic.

It was made while i was still living in New York, dreaming of being on an endless train to south america. It is by far my most successful album as i consistently sell more albums and tracks off of this than any other single album (although Cthulhu: The Funksical isn’t that far behind). It was, however, an experiment. Every album i do has a specific theme or style and this chillout, jazzy, latin thing was one i had never attempted before. It came easily. The writing of this flowed incredibly smoothly. Despite this and the success it has had, however, i doubt i will ever write another like this, since there are simply too many other things i want to try and i’m pleased enough with how it turned it out.

Subduction can be purchased here at iTunes or Amazon if you’re so inclined.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Subculture Song

I’m actually done musically with Act 3 and now working on vocal melodies and lyrics. I, of course, am not actually signing any of the material, but i sing all the lines on the scratch tracks so the vocalists will know what to sing (they also have the option of sheet music).

So i thought since i discussed it earlier i’d post that subculture song i was talking about last week so you can see how it came out.  It’s mean to be sung by a female (who likes to dress up like a dead, mechanical doll), so keep that in mind.

I must mention that there are scratch vocals on it, BUT there are no lyrics. I am literally improvising complete nonsense syllables. Until the lyrics are written they’re there to demonstrate the melody. You must picture it NOT being my voice, and instead a girl’s, with, you know, ideally really cool lyrics.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Mocha Lab: Stories in Music

show and tell records

My first big record obsession was when i was a toddler. I had a series of “Show And Tell” records. You put them on a special little record player and they tell you stories which i listened to in rapt wonder. By the time i was a boy i was catapulting around the room to The Story Of Star Wars, or a Superman Stories record. In middle school i found a book in the library that had old Shadow radio show scripts and after school i’d sit down in front of a tape recorder and do all the voices. I eventually would set up a bunch of props to use as sound effects and play a certain song at the beginning for the theme music, as well as improvise commercials.

In high school i discovered the concept album, but even before that i would fall asleep to a cassette playing random songs i’d recorded off the radio (which at the time meant h0lding my cheap cassette player up next to my clock radio) and imagine stories linking the otherwise unrelated songs.

I like telling stories and i like doing it through sound.

As a young man i made a bunch of conceptual theater works. They were stories and somewhere between theatrical and kind of progish music (yes, i know, i am a total dork). They were definitely interesting and different for what they were, if not overreaching, overdone and a bit rough around the edges technique wise, although some served me quite well. And then, one day, i stopped. I had run into a brick wall creatively, these projects were becoming a bit ridiculous and not actually being pulled off well enough. I started making entirely different albums. I changed my name to Mocha Lab. Each album still had a theme, but the theme was more in the genre, style or approach. This turning point was one of the best things i ever did artistically, as my skill in my craft began to take leaps.

But i still wanted to tell stories and could not shake that.

I had no desire to make some kind of archaic concept album, all proggy and vague which takes the listener 20 listens to figure out what’s going on. That was great for adolescence, but it’s interest had waned. With some maturity had come the notion of not beating around the bush. What do you want to do? Then do it and don’t shmuck about at it. If you want to tell a story, then simply tell a story.

So i began the use of narration for these particular tracks. Instead of sung vocals, you can just plain tell a damn story.

Here, for example, is a ghost story of sorts:

Now, after over 12 years, i’ve started telling longer, multi track stories again. (see Cthulhu: The Funksical and A Melancholy Tale From The Icy Lands, as well as the upcoming album The Silver Key and the multi media theater show The Fallen) It works much better now as i have vastly more mature, sophisticated and interesting approaches and sensibilities then i once did.  However, it’s become clear that stories through music is a particular and defining trait my music will carry and the exploration of different ways to go about it will continue to fascinate me.

A retelling of the story of Cain and Abel:

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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My Dream Of You

So today we’ll feature a video by a wonderfully talented artist, a fine humanitarian,  a giant of artistic integrity and vision, a leader among…. ok, yeah, it’s me. (under my title Mocha Lab)

This is off my Subduction album, a downtempo project i did a few years ago which featured the wonderful voice of Milena Jelic.

This song is worth featuring for 2 reasons,

1. it’s the song that everybody likes. I mean seriously, it’s by far my most popular song

2. Somebody i do not know and have never met took the song and made it the background music for this awesome fractal animation video. Which i basically found out about 5 minutes ago when looking up the song on YouTube to put it up here. (there were initially NOT 2 reasons, just 1.)

In any case, enjoy.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Steampunk Opera Overture (demo version)

I sit here in a tine old, village house in the mountains of southern Serbia madly composing away. My wife has taken our beautiful little toddler to Belgrade in order for me to work uninterupted. I rise each morning, eat, chop wood (it’s winter and heat here is OLD school) and sit down in my studio to compose.

And so it’s about time to start sharing. Here is the demo version of the Overture (or Prologue… can’t decide exactly which). As such it will not have vocals.  I don’t know how i’ll tweak it down the road, but for now here’s the first peak at the Steampunk Opera music.

(I should add, this video is just a still image. It’s simply a way to showcase the music. I’ve tried many other methods on other sites and blogs, but i found overwhelmingly, people prefer vids, even if the vid is just a picture. Go figure.)

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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I am going to make a Steampunk Opera.

I  am starting this blog in order to declare my intention to make a Steampunk Opera and to document the process.

Hi. My name is Paul Shapera and I make music under the name Mocha Lab.  I will be posting many selections of my work to date so that you can get an idea of what kind of composer/music producer I am as well as other great artists whose music falls within range of this project. I’ll post on the process and details of putting a theater show up (in London, although i myself am American currently living in Eastern Europe) from the first intention to create it to the opening performance (and Gd forbid beyond).

A theater director in London, Mark Swetz, asked me about doing an opera or some other show that I might be interesting in composing. Sadly, I can’t stand opera. I like much of the orchestration, and I like the male crescendos, but in general the entire style of singing drives me beserk.

I am thoroughly well versed in musical theater, but about 10 years ago I had the realization that I couldn’t stand it anymore.  Sondheim can still work for me and I have a very soft spot for a few musicals I listened to when I was young, but you know… once again the style of singing and corniness just drives me nuts. (If, however, i had to list my 3 top musicals, they’d be Into The Woods, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Les Miserables. So there you go.) I have made several theater shows, including and especially the multi-media show The Fallen which is also on it’s way to be put up in the states, but we’ll get into that another day.

I whimsically thought about a steampunk opera, in which I would create a new genre, building heavily off of the Dark Cabaret movement (Dresden Dolls, Birdeatsbaby, Jill Tracy, Vermillion Lies… most of which I must confess I only discovered once I decided to write this opera.  Actually all I knew was Dresden Dolls, of which I’ve been a big fan. Discovering and exploring a new genre is half the fun of conceiving this). I decided to make this because after whimsically throwing the idea out, I started finding that more and more of my leisure thoughts were being spent working out ideas for the opera.  When one becomes obsessed with an artistic idea without trying to, it is a clear sign you must make it. So I contacted Mark and told him i must must MUST write a steampunk opera. He gave it a big thumbs up and wait now to hear what i’m actually going to do.

I”ve worked out a plot which i’ll go into at a later date and i’m starting the blog now, because today i will be sitting down to play the first notes of music. We’re starting at the beginning, The Overture (or Prologue, depending). I like to go in order of the story.

We’ll talk later. In the meantime I leave you with a sample of another more lighthearted musical story i’ve made. This is the first track off of Cthulhu: The Funksical, by Mocha Lab of course.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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