Layers Of Earth

A George Zhen Narrowcast.

NEW SONG: (Morphallaxis) Stars Undersea

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(Morphallaxis) Stars Undersea-George Zhen

“All the doubt that creeps in deep in the night
Is there to help us practice morphallaxis…”


Over last summer, I was tooling around with some ideas in electronic music, specifically the idea of blending the unison, group vocal sound of something like The Mouglies or even Of Monsters and Men together with what I saw as the upcoming disco reboot thanks to what was then the forthcoming Daft Punk. It was really just an experiment. But I liked it. A little Depeche Mode lick here, a little Nile Rogers there and the song was forming up.

For the lyrical theme, I took up the idea of morphallaxis. What the hell is that geekyness about, you ask? Morphallaxis is the ability of a creature to re-grow body parts, like the way a starfish can re-grow limbs. I drew up the parallel of us rebounding from the scars of childhood to become something great. You know, a geeks now rule the world kind of thing.

I liked where it was going so much that I even took up the idea of adding group vocals with a bunch of my son’s friends singing ion it. We recorded in early June, and while the tracks were fine, I discovered there is a fine line between group vocals and something sounding a little too Disneyesque. I started tweaking the vocals, but before I could get too far the Great Computer Crash of 2013 was in full swing and I lost much of the work on this song, including those takes. Well, they are buried somewhere, but by that point I had moved into performing live and forming The Mariana Trenchcoats, so the project was shelved.

Alas, here is the final version of this track, largely how I left it back in June with my original vocals on it. Maybe someday I’ll revisit it, but for now, this is what it is. Read more

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NEW SONG: Tanwood Drive (What Forever Means)

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Tanwood Drive (What Forever Means)-George Zhen

“There’s more to living than just bring alive
It’s the summer sun lighting up Tanwood Drive…”


I rarely do this kind of song. But I had too. See, my in-laws were reaching their 60th wedding anniversary and everyone in the family was writing these nice memory letters and such. Now, I wrote my letter of course, but I wanted to do something more. See, my mother-in-law Toby always makes this point about how there are no “nice songs about love” any more and how she doesn’t even understand half of the somgs she hears. So here’s a challenge – To write a Song for my in-laws that tells a nice love story that she would like and understand. Thus the forced creativity that produced “Tanwood Drive (What Forever Means)” was born.

Tanwood Drive itself is the street where my wife’s childhood was spent. To hear my mother-in-law Toby talk about those days usually means a verklempt moment or two. This is where life happened for them – the pinnicle. We all have a similar place, whether it is our childhood or us as parents, where some of the most potent memories in life happen. Our dreams are still set there sometimes. For them, it was Tanwood Drive in Massepequa, NY.

The song itself is straight forward. I built it in a couple of days, saving the vocals and lyrics for a last, mad dash session the night before their big party. I went with a kind of Latin percussion flavor because, A) I had a lot of loops in that style and, B) because my father-in-law Jerry said he liked that kind of thing once. I also pestered my trumpet-playing son Cameron to come in and play a bit of the melody as well, to give it  another texture. Some mandolin for good measure and I had the feel I was looking for.

This song is so out of my comfort zone as a writer though, I must admit. It is just plain too sappy and obvious, but I’m told I should do more obvious tunes from time to time anyway.. I know a lot of my friends and family willl love it, though. My other, more musically jaded friends will wonder if I have lost my mind, though. Truth is, if I could make money doing this kinda stuff, I would and could do it all day long. Read more

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Home Keys (Pracrting Proper Typoing skills)

typewriter

bacon

Give me a break,she said from the back of the room. If Jimmie Jphnson has any v;ue about how to correctly m ale jis eay through the fiwls on a restart without blowing his engine from overrevving, it would be one thing. But given the state of the sport at this point and time, I can see no way better than through repeated structures and hope we should over come this dark place in which we live. Believe me,there is no better way in which to conquer one’s own fear. Itter nonsense, i think.

Give me your eyes. It means “Look at me.” Admaral Adama used to say this a Bunch on Battlestar Galactica. i will always have to edit. I cannot beat the sustem the ways I used to. Better concentrartion beings out better skilss like this, Practice makes perfect. Foil fun foible. Utter nonsense Garggle as much as three times a day to completely rid yourself of the bacterias rotting your brain. I hopt that somehow I find as way to properly type. My biggest problem is my pinkys. I hate suseding them when typing. I find uif I don’t think about it, I do better. I don;t truse my pinky to so what it is supposed to do.

Ijwillalways need to proof mydrlf. No way around it.

But here I go on my own form of typing. I move my hands a lot more. But I know my way around. it is more natural to my hands. no pinkies, really. No don’t really rest on the home keys as much. I fumble sometimes on certain words.

but it is invorrect, I am taught. This is ok. I won’t do mu natural routine and rebel. It will take practice on all fronts. Didcipline not to fall inot old habits. It will take a while to adjust and not let the pinkies slip up and rest when they ahould work work work!

I must mind my p’s and q’s!

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I Have To Write

flickr boy with flashlight2I have to write.

Why? Because my thoughts are complex and full. There are bits of motorsports, music and craft beer woven in there. Life is too short to keep these threads all to myself.

I have to write.

I am blinded, but I see things you don’t. My ears are augmented receptors of grace. In the words of Roger Waters, I have amazing powers of observation. And I’m not afraid to clue you in on that fact.

I need to write.

I’ve watched motorsports for 35 years. Today I saw perhaps the most outrageous finish I have ever seen. Ever. Seen. How is that possible? Because there is always something waiting around the bend that is new, unforeseen and remarkable. Today was one of those days. I so love Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

I need to write.

I am working on a song that is about returning home to a small town. I am fixated on the idea of one blinking red traffic light, like a place I know called Pearson in Central Florida. The song is so disco, Modest Mouse and New Order wrapped into one. Man I wish I could play the bass. The one openly gay dude in Pearson would appreciate that.

I must write.

The latest batch of Dogfish Head beers, on the IPA side specifically, have some nasty hops. Nasty, as in bad. They taste like burnt shit. I couldn’t make it through a 4-pack oof 90 without gettinga headache. Perhaps they had to harvest from somewhere else this season. I am not buying their beers for a while. This sucks, because they are my favorite.

I will write.

More.

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Birth of an Echo

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So there has been a lot of interesting developments in my musical world lately, a lot of good energy and focus. First, I have been playing at lot with my friends in Blue Sky Drive, which has been wonderful and motivating. Nothing quite like playing in an original band, which I have discovered I truly missed. Rehearsals, gigs, good times…. it has been real enjoyable to say the least. It is really good not only to be musically engaged like this again, but to be lucky enough to have fallen in with such a fine group of good people is just the icing on the cake. The universe works in wonderful ways sometimes..

Last Autumn was a really productive writing period for me. I was composing primarily on piano creating songs that were pretty inwardly directed. This is a sharp departure from how I have been writing for most of the past decade, which has been a sort of disembodied experience. I’ve been conjuring fictional characters and circumstances that I thought were interesting – well, at least more interesting than my real life. I mean, I am still in love with a lot of those songs, but this most recent burst of creativity has been entirely different for me. Maybe it has taken ten years for me to get comfortable writing about the things in my life again. Maybe it took my oldest leaving the house and heading off to college to stir those deeper, personal emotions of self-evaluation, joy and longing. Whatever it was, it was a nice burst that came from a powerful place and I tried my best to harness it and commit it to song. The result is a full-length album’s worth of material that needs to be brought to life. Read more

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