Fooled By Yesterday

by Emily Bezar

supported by
/
  • Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

     $7 USD  or more

     

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
05:55
8.
9.
10.

about

****Please see below for album Liner Notes****

Produced by Emily Bezar
©2011 DemiVox Records

Emily Bezar: voice, piano, keyboards, electronics
Dan Feiszli: electric bass
Erik Pearson: acoustic and electric guitars

Recorded by Dan Feiszli
at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA
and at What's for Lunch? Recording,
El Cerrito, CA
Additional recording by Emily Bezar
at Big Tree Studio, Oakland, CA
and at The Stone Room on Temple Hills Drive,
Laguna Beach, CA

Mixed by Dan Feiszli at What's for Lunch? Recording,
El Cerrito, CA
www.studiorhythm.com
and by Emily Bezar at Big Tree Studio, Oakland, CA

Mastered by Ken Lee

Album Photography: Christina Shook
www.cshook.com

Art and Web design: Emily Bezar
Please see more details on individual song pages.

credits

released 08 November 2011

Track Groups and Liner Notes:

I.
My Magnetic Sleep
Fooled By Yesterday

First, a prelude: an electronic invitation to cross over into “La Sommeil Magnétique,” inspired by Jeffrey Kripal’s chapter about French sociologist and writer Bertrand Méheust from Kripal’s extraordinary 2010 book “Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred.”

Then a new original song inspired by two vivid and optimistic dream fragments (the verse one and verse two images). This was the first new song I completed after I released “Exchange” in 2008. I consider it also my first real midlife-composed song and I felt sure that the particular combination of hope, regret and disappointment expressed in the lyric was to shift profoundly in the coming years so I wanted to record and release it on its own and let it stand as a memorial for the timbre and tone of my 43rd – 46th years. Maybe this is my own very personal century-later version of “Die Zeit……”? Though I had no idea I would ever dare to juxtapose it with my very favorite vocal composer Richard Strauss when I wrote it!

Jeffrey Kripal
kripal.rice.edu/essay.html


II.
Lockdown at Fantasy
---- December Glare
---- Out of Nowhere (Green/Heyman)
---- Speak Low (Weill/Nash)
---- A Child Is Born (Thad Jones)

One piano improvisation and three of my longtime favorite jazz standards, recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California on a brisk and bright day in early winter, December 16, 2010.

Fantasy Recording Studios
www.fantasystudios.com


III.
Temple Hills Transmissions
---- Zebratropic
---- Dance Of The Tangerines
---- May In Mesolimbia

Electronic improvisations, recorded live to the computer between May 13 and May 16, 2010 in a granite-lined cottage on a hillside near the sea in my home town of Laguna Beach, California. Please see individual song pages for more notes.

For a Wordpress version, with photos, of my post
"Musings of a Mesolimbiac" please visit my blog at
polyphonism.wordpress.com

Laguna Beach
www.lagunabeachinfo.com


IV.
Die Zeit, Die Ist Ein Sonderbar Ding - Time is Weird
(Richard Strauss/Hugo von Hofmannsthal)

A famous aria from an iconic character in Opera history. This is the Marschallin’s ode to the passing of time, sung to her younger lover Octavian near the end of Act One of Richard Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier”, which premiered one century ago: in Dresden in 1911.

This version features guitarist Erik Pearson, who magically interprets the orchestral score with both acoustic and electric guitars. When we stripped this Aria down to its essential structure, Erik and I both began to hear the legacy of Bach, Mozart and the deep, long tradition of German and Austrian vocal music contained in this short piece.

Erik Pearson
www.myspace.com/erikpearson

Lotte Lehmann Sings "Die Zeit" (1939)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Obpz8EHhtnc

www.lottelehmannleague.org/about/ll-misconceptions-2/

Interesting essay about Rosenkavalier
entartetemusik.blogspot.com/2011/01/viennese-time-machine.html


Personal Note:

When I was studying to be a classical singer at the Oberlin Conservatory very long ago, we were always advised to arrange songs into cohesive and imaginative little groups for our Recitals. Some of us organized the music by ascending or descending historical era, some by programmatic or emotional theme, others by juxtaposing simple beauties with dissonant surrealism, others by I-Ching, phase/color of moon (hmm…) or the old standby coin toss. Yes we voice majors had a pretty exotic Ohio encampment back there in 1980s Oberlin!

For my own Senior year vocal recital in 1987 I remember singing some Rameau and Lully arias, a set of obscure Zemlinsky songs, Lukas Foss’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and some of my earliest electronic music – I think it was two Robert Creeley poem settings for voice and tape.

Here I’ll offer warm gratitude again to my brilliant and brave professors at Oberlin and Stanford who nurtured my exploratory spirit and without whom I could not have become the woman who just pulled an all-nighter last night at age 46 to get her “Total Unverkaufbar” weirdo music (yes, a sternfaced guy at a German recording studio did tell me that when I was 25 years old) up online for your pleasure before my self-imposed deadline!

I have other thoughts to share about this album and how I conceived of it and finally decided to go public with things like an 18-minute improvisation and a Strauss Aria with a psychedelic electric guitar outro. But since I’m REALLY tired and need to take a nap, I’ll leave more rambling on for another day.....

Thank you so much for listening and for your open ears!

Emily

tags

license

all rights reserved

feeds

feeds for this album, this artist
Track Name: Fooled By Yesterday
Lyrics:

I entered the room
to a table with a small white flame
the chairs were arranged in a circle
like some secret game
they gathered round me
it seemed as though they knew me well
and they said "don't stop now,
you still have tales to tell"

but when I thought I'd timed it right
the rocket had shot off to the night
and when I tore the gag away
found there was nothing left to say
always too late, no card left to play
I'm always fooled by yesterday

after the storm had passed that day
I saw the plane tracing a cloud
in the shape of my maiden name
from high above me
a thousand balloons fell to earth
and I thought
maybe this is how we feel at birth?

but when I thought I'd timed it right
the rocket had shot off to the night
and when I tore the gag away
found there was nothing left to say
always too late, no card left to play
I'm always fooled by yesterday
always too late, no reason, no crime
I am just fooled by some other time

and oh now I hear the strangest tune
floating through the wall into my room
measuring the distance
the blue space resistance
from me to the edge of the
summer moon

always too late, no card left to play
I'm always fooled by yesterday
so I'll take my place
in the back of the line
hoping for better luck with yesterday
next time
Track Name: Out Of Nowhere (Johnny Green)
Lyrics by Edward Heyman

You came along from out of nowhere
And you took my heart and found it free
Wonderful dreams, wonderful schemes from nowhere
Made every hour sweet as a flower for me

If you should go back to your nowhere
Leaving me with a memory
I'll always wait for your return out of nowhere
Hoping you'll bring your love to me
Track Name: Speak Low (Kurt Weill)
Lyrics by Ogden Nash

Speak low when you speak love
Our summer days wither away too soon, too soon
Speak low when you speak love
Our moment is swift, like ships adrift,
we're swept apart, too soon
Speak low, darling, speak low
Love is a spark, lost in the dark too soon, too soon
I feel wherever I go that tomorrow is near
Tomorrow is here and always too soon

Time is so old and love so brief
Love is pure gold and time, a thief
We're late, darling, we're late
The curtain descends, everything ends
too soon, too soon
I wait, darling, I wait
Will you speak low to me, speak love to me and soon?
Track Name: Zebratropic
Here's an electronic improvisation using only one rich and wobbly sound from the new virtual synth plug-in I was fiddling around with during that week in May, 2010. The instrument was called, appropriately, the Zebra Synth and I hit on a patch that shot me right back to the early 80s and all those 70s spacey synthstring patches that I missed so terribly when the vibe of electronic pop went all prickly and dry in the early days of L.A. New Wave. I also must have been musing that afternoon about the Film Orchestration class that I was scheduled to take and somehow I called upon my limited John Williams meets Bruckner via Holst meets Ravel chops for some of those juicy cadences and high clusters.

And the title: well....I'm calling this Zebratropic mostly to honor Urs Heckmann and his team of synth wizards at u-he.com who created the fantastic plug-in. Also a nod to Francis Ford Coppola and his Zoetrope Studios, a Hollywood icon who certainly inspired the filmic surrealism and neon romance that surged in me for those 6 minutes. The Vangelis connection is probably more conceptual than sonic....but I'm quite sure it starts with Blade Runner and runs right back into Phil K. Dick and his VALIS omniscient, Zebra. (To be continued because that's a long path to keep tracing.....)

And yeah it's an anagram of my last name of course -- but I guess you'd expect that from a lady who releases an album containing over half an hour of her springtime electronic wanking in a So Cal beach town.....!! :)
Track Name: May In Mesolimbia
The back story to my improvised piece “May in Mesolimbia” is a long one, and one that is still unfolding for me, but I'll try to give you the story up ‘til now, if you are interested in hearing it. In May of 2010 I treated myself to one of my now-yearly seaside composing retreats...ostensibly to jump-start the production process for my next song album and to dig deeper into the new electronic music software I had recently purchased. When I arrived at the studio apartment I had rented up on Temple Hills Drive in my hometown of Laguna Beach, California, I was thrilled to find a beautifully appointed room with gorgeous granite floors, tables and countertops and full glass windows open towards the canyon, with a partial view to the Pacific, less than a mile to my west.

Yes, the sound was a bit ‘live’ in there with all that stone, but I spent much of the week with headphones on anyway, so as not to disturb my gracious hosts with my all-hours experimenting. The owners in the main house were a wonderful pair of Laguna eccentrics, she a French photographer, he a sculptor and stone artisan and their friendly, large dog who was very curious about this woman who had come to visit with a station wagon full of wires and strange black metal boxes!

The late spring weather in Laguna was as I remembered it from my childhood. Usually, by mid-morning the fog had rolled out of the canyon and diffused back into the offshore marine layer. As soon as I could see a line of blue on the horizon, I was off down the hill to the beautiful new pool at my alma mater LBHS (yes, the very same high school of unfortunate cable-TV renown) and I was able to get my water fix. I love to be able to swim at least once a day if I’m anywhere near the ocean. But it was yet too cold in mid May for any serious Pacific plunging, so the pool was a welcome substitute. I hope some of you have also discovered that there is nothing like the steady black line on a pale blue underwater floor to prime you for those inspiring bolts from the skybound blue.

Anyway, a few days after I got situated and acclimated to the vibe of the place, my musical gear was all up and running smoothly and a thick nostalgia had set in, as I could clearly see my Junior high school on the ridge top right across the canyon from my perch. Late one hazy afternoon I found a particularly great electronic patch and spent a while tweaking it around so that between my keyboard, my mouse and the monitor screen I would have multiple tactile access points with which to manipulate the sound. I then set the synth patch to "infinite sustain," punched “record” on my nomadic laptop and I went at it (those of you who make electronic music know well that when you delete the "R" for “release” in "ADSR", you have a toy of joy that you can mess with until your brain fries and the flying spaghetti monsters come home!) Well, when I emerged from my miasmatic sonic wankfest, having pushed this poor synth patch through multiple noisy tribulations like Virgil guiding Dante through the nine circles.....when I looked up at the right corner of my monitor, I saw that nearly 25 minutes had elapsed!

What happened next is either the single most insane or inspired moment of my piano-playing history, depending on your aesthetic perspective and tolerance for rich sauces and rare red meat: I immediately enabled another "record track" on my software, switched my keyboard sound to "grand piano" and began to play along with the electronic excursion I had just recorded. Why I jumped in on piano at around minute six of the electric improv is still a mystery to me, but once I entered the tunnel of fun, my world shrank to the radius between my headphones until I found myself embellishing the last wisp of noise just as the sun was starting its early evening descent into the Pacific…and the light in my little stone temple was getting dim.

So this musical document was saved on my computer as "MX4 Long Improv" at 6:50 PM, May 16, 2010 and this is just how I found it, buried in a computer folder called “Temple Hills Backup,” one sunny morning in early January 2011 in a tiny condo on a low-glitz strip of Maui's northwest shore. I had gone back to the same restful spot where I had sequestered myself three years earlier in January of ‘08 to complete the scores for the three horn charts I wrote for "Exchange.” FYI....the sax/trumpet/trombone chart for "Climb" will always be known as my “Three Mai Tai Trio”....maybe that will explain some of its oddball antics for those of you who are yet suspicious and concerned about my jazz ambitions. ;)

Anyway, this year, I was back in Maui to compose and swim (of course!) but also to do some critical listening to and editing of the several hours of piano/vocal material I had recorded at Fantasy studios in Berkeley in December of 2010. The morning that I rediscovered the folder of Temple Hills improvs, I was actually digging down through my files to find my orchestral mock-up template, hoping to try out some arrangement ideas for a higher-key version of Weill’s “Speak Low” that I had also recorded at Fantasy – a version and an idea that was ultimately discarded in favor of the lower-key solo version that made the cut for “Fooled By Yesterday”. But that’s another story……

I should tell you that the other task for my 10-day Hawaiian respite this last January was to do some serious foundational reading on cognitive science, and to peruse recent research on music and the brain. And, to make some final decisions about which spring semester neurobiology and psychology courses I was going to sign up for immediately on my return to California. Some of you already know that I’ve embarked on a new path of study in music cognition over the past year, but this is in-progress to the extent that talking more about it now may trap me in to corners that I’m still exploring, with words that I don’t quite know how to use yet, so I’ll wait on more explanation. Suffice it to say that my new favorite self-flagellating joke is to tell people that all this study is just to help me figure out how to create better and more memorable melodies that people’s brains will actually command them to pay lots of money for. Ha!

Ok so here's where this rambling story about me and my swimming trips gets sort of interesting, and what follows is probably why I decided to expose and publicly document this improvised music, so utterly privately conceived and in some ways, glibly and unpreparedly executed. The day prior to the morning that I discovered the "MX4 Long Improv” file, I had purchased a "Kindle" version of cognitive scientist Steven Pinker's 1997 classic book "How the Mind Works" for my beloved iPad. Naturally, I had started first with his chapters about music and art on the beach that afternoon. ;)

So, that morning after my reading day on the beach, very curious about this improvised thing I had tucked away on my computer in Laguna eight months earlier, I opened the music file. As the musical track window opened on the screen I was astounded by the title I had given the electronic part the previous May: "How the mind Works". Yes, I've gotten better and better at spotting synchronicities but this one was a screaming, neon-bright beauty with golden scarabs fluttering all around it. And after listening to all 25 minutes of the thing, I determined right then that this piece of music was indeed, quite a document about something in my life, though I wasn’t yet sure what. And also, I really liked it as a piece of music, thought it definitely had a discernable large-scale structure (which surprised me), some pretty cool sounds, and some moments where I really could not believe that I had played those things. Me? That chord? Where did THAT come from?

As for the final title that I chose, “May in Mesolimbia” : I’ll tell you just a little bit more here about the relevant neuroscience of music stuff. Some of you may know that earlier this year, new research out of a Music Cognition lab at McGill University in Montreal found proof through an FMRI/PET brain-imaging study that the powerhouse neurotransmitter dopamine is deeply involved in mediating the human pleasure-response to music. Valorie Salimpoor and Robert Zatorre have coined this the musical "chills response" and you can read much more about it here:

http://www.zlab.mcgill.ca/home.html

This had been suspected, of course, as dopamine is well-known as an urgent messenger of the Mesolimbic "reward pathway" in the brain's deep subcortical limbic system structures and is implicated in substance addiction, in psychotic disorders, and in mediating motivated behavior in general.

I am quite sure that what I physically and emotionally experienced when playing/creating this piece was actually "chasing the dopamine down." That's how it felt; a craving to follow every building tension with a release, like following the highs with more highs until I sated myself momentarily and could go back to tension for the next round. There really was no calculation about what or how to play the piano. My brain simply followed what my ear told my mind it wanted to hear so that Emily the listener (not the improviser) could feel good and get her reward for playing something she liked for herself.

Tell me all you solo improvisers out there, isn’t this what it is really all about?! Are you willing to admit that it is mostly about this, even during those spectacular moments when you are jamming with world class jazz players X, Y and Z and assuring me it is really all about high-level language-like communication in a very specialized musical syntax? As in life, so in music: even in the most reasoned, most cognitively, frontal cortex-driven behaviors, can we really ever tune out the dopamine howl? Schopenhauer certainly would have a few words to say about this. Hmmmm….wonder what Wagner and Messiaen would add about the topic were they around to get in on the discussion and check out a few FMRI scans?

I guess I really do believe that the untethered, untamed creative mind in a state of flow is just a few neurochemical variations away from the mind of an addict hunting down the next hit, a psychotic in florid delusional disarray, or a mystic in ecstatic trance. Artists rarely make their most extravagantly interior works public because, well, they are often too idiosyncratic and insular and yeah, hard to parse for those whose brains didn’t soak in the same cocktail that day. But I make this music public here because I think it is a fascinating journal entry; if nothing else, it’s a photograph of my musical mind at mid-life, altered by a particular nostalgia-infused solitude. For the first time in many years, I found my way back to the naïve artistic bravery I knew as a kid in pretty, seaside Laguna, before I had tangled with the Zeitgeist and had been advised that my music was just too weird, uncategorizable and demanding for commercial consumption.

Yes, I’ve been making music since I was five years old, a tow-headed beach kid living three blocks from the sea, fearlessly diving into those big Mexican hurricane waves every summer between swim pauses for the Beach Boys, Evita, Seals and Crofts, Joni and Blondie, Queen and Cheap Trick pounding from boomboxes on the hot sand while we stuffed our Husky Boy Burgers down the hatch with yellow mustard seaweed hands, wiping off the black oilspill tar from our soles and souls with mom’s clear rubbing alcohol, selling cheapo jewelry to touristas on cool ocean breezy nights down at the Sawdust Festival, craving and crushing on tanned surfer boys with puka-shelled necks, bleached hair and pink-burned noses oxidated with zinc, crusted allover with sweat and Pacific salt. Hey I’ll even admit to running back home from the shore for TV and fresh-baked brownie seances in front of “All My Children”, back when glamorous Erica was a decade and a half younger than I am now.

Living on the edge of the continent, I always thought I had access to something really big and wild out there just beyond the horizon. All grown up now and not quite so sure any more….still…. being able to identify my own rare moments of creative grace and access to the big beyond goes well along with getting better at noticing those big synchronicities when they pop up in the most banal format, like a small line of text on a computer screen.

And maybe my “Mesolimbia” is that enchanted maze of endless transmission corridors that comprise the still-mysterious interface between my big mind and my small brain. Does my mind instruct the dopamine neurons to “hurry up and make more juice” so that annoying little brain can work? Or does her majesty My Brainyness decree just how much of the elixir she will instruct her neuronal minions to generate today so that poor little embodied mind can even exist at all? Whether you trust Dennett or Descartes, Penfield or Penrose, Damasio, Dawkins, Plato, Pythagoras, or any of the investigators of mind throughout the centuries who’ve even obliquely stared down the Hard Problem of Consciousness, (which looms largest, IMO, when contemplating creativity and the whole improv state-of-mind thing.) Whether that mind-brain interface is more like a receiver, transmitter, limiter, conductor, filter, reducer, amplifier, tuner or, does not even exist at all…there’s something thrilling about reveling in the pure experience of how it FEELS to be creating and transmitting an original musical idea to the world for the first time.

My hope, despite this long explanatory rambling, is that you can still hear this music from both “inside-out” and “outside-in,” as it were. That hearing it might make you forget the image of the lady with her electric toys on an arid California hillside and that it may shoot you out to somewhere on the Pacific horizon line above, below or inside the waves. And please try to find and read Jeffrey Kripal’s stunning book “Authors of the Impossible,” the one that I mentioned in the liner notes for FBY’s “My Magnetic Sleep.” If you read anything at all from it, read his Conclusion. And then work back from there and see if things look different next time you stare through the plane window out at the curving sky, deep into the billowing bows and flows….or into the mirror, down through your own convex, fathomless eyes, into Mesolimbia.


Postscript:

One last technical explanatory note about how I prepared this piece of music for your loudspeakers/headphones: what you hear on the final, mixed version of “May in Mesolimbia” is the completely unedited piano part (played on the Ivory piano-sampler instrument) and a “mixed and processed” version of the improvised electronic part. And by mixing and processing I mean that I added some EQ, extra filtering and sound massaging to the electronic part, varied its dynamics and even dropped it out completely in places in order to highlight the piano during certain passages. So yes, there was a degree of end-stage composition which would not have been possible in a truly live improv situation on stage. And I do mean to present this as a duet of equal partners – it was not my intention that this should be heard as a piano piece with electronic accompaniment. Thanks so much for listening with open ears!
Track Name: Die Zeit, Die Ist Ein Sonderbar Ding - Time is Weird (Richard Strauss)
Lyrics by Hugo Von Hofmannsthal:

Die Marschallin:

Die Zeit im Grunde, Quinquin, die Zeit,
die ändert doch nichts an den Sachen.
Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar Ding.
Wenn man so hinlebt, ist sie rein gar nichts.
Aber dann auf einmal, da spürt man nichts als sie.
Sie ist um uns herum, sie ist auch in uns drinnen.
In den Gesichtern rieselt sie,
im Spiegel da rieselt sie,
in meinen Schläfen fliesst sie.
Und zwischen mir und dir da fliesst sie wieder,
lautlos, wie eine Sanduhr.
Oh, Quinquin! Manchmal hör' ich sie fliessen – unaufhaltsam.
Manchmal steh' ich auf mitten in der Nacht
und lass die Uhren alle, alle stehn.
Allein man muss sich auch vor ihr nicht fürchten.
Auch sie ist ein Geschöpf des Vaters, der uns alle erschaffen hat.


English Translation
by Emily Bezar

Time will be here soon enough, baby –
it doesn't change course for anything.
Time is weird.
You wander along, distracted by your life
and time means nothing at all.
But then come one day,
you can think of nothing else.
Then it's all around us...and inside of us....
we see it in faces, in the mirror.
My temples pulse with it.
And in between me and you,
it just keeps on flowing,
trickling, like sand in an hourglass.
Oh baby, sometimes I can hear it – streaming relentlessly.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night
and stop all the clocks, every one of them.
But we don't have to fear it....it's just one piece
of the same God who created us,
and everything.