What happens when you read poetry to music instead of silence? Where I come from, we call that Rock and Roll. Rock lyrics have always fallen into two rough camps; the “oo-oo–baby-baby” scat of pop songs, and the longer, more introspective verse of art rock. The main difference between those elder songs and Michel Zapruder’s latest effort is that he sought out poets who do not traditionally write rock lyrics, and draped their words with his light rock styling. As you might expect, the results range from brilliant to meh, but they all have a sound that significantly differs from the ordinary. Let’s hit some high points…
Dorothea Lasky offers some surrealism based on a robbery and mutilation, but life gives her a pair of enormous boobs as some sort of cosmic insurance settlement. There’s a backwards Theremin sound behind her words, and Zapruder seems to be singing backwards. Travis Nicholas wrote “Florida,” drawing parallels between stars in the sky and the noises of insects; it’s a dreamy reflection on the Gulf of Mexico and his creepy father. Tyehimba Jess explains his racial situation with “I work with Negros.” Zapruder adds a work chant effect with the reverb, but I’m still not certain how Jess chose his career. Zapruder tosses in his own “Opera,” in which there’s a guy drinking absinthe under an assumed name under Pink High Fidelity thunder. Nice, but weird for weird’s sake. Lastly, let’s look at David Berman’s “Civics,” which shows us an unusual view of jury duty.
There are a total of 22 cuts here. All are inexplicably entertaining and provide a thought-provoking hour to consider the true meaning of the minutia of life.