New Tracks of Quartet Music

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As promised, here are the first two tracks released from the Beta Test Vaults.

These are two pieces written for our quartet set up, which we used as our base ensemble when we started out. The group ended up changing a lot over the years, but this is where it started.

First is Melissa Dunphy’s UNDER THE BED, a super awesome programmatic work that we premiered at our Monsters concert, full of horror themed music:

Second is Nat Evan’s NO ORIGINATION, which is the first piece someone wrote for us from outside the group. We premiered it at our first show way back when. It’s a little hard to describe, so take a listen:

You can also stream or download them on bandcamp.

Last Show!

July12

 

 

Well, for a while.

So Doug is moving to Austin, and we’re looking to have one more big show before he leaves. We’ve gone through all of our music to figure out what we want to play most, and we’ll be doing that on July 12th at our favorite little spot, the First Unitarian Church Chapel. 

We’ve even recruited past members Ellis and Rob to join us, and we’ll have some libations from Mischief Brewing (among other stuff) (and your ticket will start you off with your first beverage). To be honest, we haven’t really worked out a single detail, but we were spitballing ideas, and we’re probably going to open up the doors early so you can hang out with us for a bit before we play. We’ll bring some games and chill until its time to play. So come hang out and listen to some of our favorite arrangements for the last time in a while.

Please let us know you’re coming on facebook, and buy tickets in advance. We’ll keep the most up to date info about the show at that facebook event page, so check in there as we work it all out.

Merch!

Hey everyone! We wanted to let you know that we’ll have some brand new merchandise at the show Saturday. Take a look at this:

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That’s Beta Tester Brandon rocking out one of our new shirts. We’ll also have these postcards at the show. If you buy one, you’ll get a download code for our performance at the William Way Center.

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We’ll also have buttons and some stickers. Also, while your first chance to buy these from us in person will be tomorrow night, you can buy them right now on bandcamp. That’s right, you can start throwing your rupees at us now for Beta Test swag. Go ahead, you won’t regret it.

preview: LA NOIRE

Our next show is coming up on February 2nd at the First Unitarian Church. As the show approaches, some of the Beta Testers are going to chime in here to talk about the music we’ll be featuring at the concert. This is Doug’s short preview on and around LA NOIRE

I’m a big fan of noir. As film style, it provides a really fascinating counterpoint to America’s narrative of the Greatest Generation. Behind America’s Golden Age success story is tragedy, scandal, and lots of foggy dark alleys.  While the rest of the country basked in its post-war optimistic sunshine, noir is where pessimism went to hide during the night.

Truthfully, I get my noir fix a little more frequently from cultural products other than films. Pessimistic hard-boiled crime novels, at their best, just have a way with words that push all the right buttons for me. If you’re looking for a suspenseful downer or two, I can’t recommend enough David Markson’s Harry Fannin novels. Currently, I’m really digging Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Fatale, which is a cross between crime fiction and Lovecraftian horror. Its messy and complicated and one of my favorite monthly comic reads at the moment. You can play catch up if you pick up the trade paperbacks.

Both of those examples perfectly capture the noir atmosphere, which is what I look for in defining the style. That, in a nutshell, was my problem with LA NOIRE. It was too often bright and clean. The game more frequently pushed towards horror than suspense. For some reason, running people over with your car in sunny LA didn’t feel grim, but routine.

I don’t want to give any plot details away because the game was fun to play, and the story snakes around various parts of LA’s lawbreakers extremely well. Team Bondi also found the perfect game mechanic to unveil their unprecedented face detail by making you identify facial tics to suss out liars. As a game, LA NOIRE definitely played well. I just didn’t think the visual elements captured the noir style as well as they could have.

But the music! The musical cues were by and large great. Both the tracks they brought in from the post war jazz world and the soundtrack written for the game felt authentic to noir. I re-worked the main theme to be a cool and dark feature for Mark on the alto saxophone. It rubs a little Taxi Driver dirt into the rainy LA night.

Come see us play the music from LA NOIRE and more on February 2nd at the First Unitarian Church. Tell your friends! Advanced tickets are cheaper than at the door!

In Rehearsal

So what were you all up to this weekend? Us Beta Testers were working on our completely new set of music for our upcoming show on February 2nd at the First Unitarian Church. Brandon and Doug took some photos during practice. Take a look:

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Brandon and Sam practicing Xander and Anya’s song from Buffy

Mark and (almost) all of the instruments he’ll be playing

Steve on the bass guitar playing some music from Earthbound

Rob and Brandon

Mark doing some Earthbound toy piano-ing

Ben is pumped.

See more on facebook!

preview: Once More, With Feeling

Our next show is coming up on February 2nd at the First Unitarian Church. As the show approaches, some of the Beta Testers are going to chime in here to talk about the music we’ll be featuring at the concert. This is Doug’s short preview on and around the music from the Buffy Musical Episode, Once More, With Feeling

I am regularly called a teenage girl. Most of the time, its in response to my enthusiastic love for the Buffyverse. If one has to be a teenage girl to appreciate Joss Whedon’s teen drama amongst vampire world, I’m pretty okay with that.

People who love Buffy tend to love this episode. Why? Well, its probably not because the actors are great singers. They’re kind of really bad (except Giles, the Monster of the Week, and maybe Tara). I think people love the episode because it fully integrates itself into narrative at that moment in Buffy’s story.

Some shows have musical episodes that are tangential to the series plot. Once More, With Feeling furthers the complicated angst of season 6 by having Buffy sing, rather than talk, about how her friends dragged her out of a nice happy afterlife (one without, you know, bunnies). Most shows have a really idiotic excuse to explain why everyone is singing. Buffy comes close to outdoing the best monster of the week show ever by using its monster to make everyone sing about their lives.

The challenge in picking songs for us to do at this show revolved around finding a few moments that involved just a couple of singers. We’ll be doing the big baddy Sweet’s opening number What You Feel and Anya and Xander’s song I’ll Never Tell. Hopefully, if you all like these, we may return to the episode’s book down the road and do a couple more. I know I’d love to get a big chorus together to do They Got The Mustard Out.

Between this episode and Angel’s Lorne, its clear that Joss Whedon has a thing for musicals. I’m pretty sure he’s a Sondheim fan, and I think he should incorporate more singing into his works. Spidey already has his own musical, so there’s no reason he can’t expand the concept to other Avengers. It seems perfectly sensible to have Captain America lead a big chorus line at the end at the end of the next Avengers film.

Come see us play the music from Once More, With Feeling and more on February 2nd at the First Unitarian Church. Tell your friends! Advanced tickets are cheaper than at the door!

Next Show: Groundhog’s Day!

Your next chance to catch us in performance is approaching fast. We’ll be at the First Unitarian Church in Center City, Philadelphia on February 2nd, aka Groundhog’s Day.

We’ll be doing an almost entirely fresh set of arrangements and music. This will definitely include music from the games Castlevania, Earthbound, Final Fantasy VI, and Bastion. We’ll also be doing our own take on music from the Buffy musical episode Once More With Feeling and some original music from Doug.

We’ll also be putting the spotlight on some of the tunes between now and the concert on the blog, so keep an eye on that spot.

At the door, tickets will be $15, but you can get them in advance for $10 on ticket leap.

Here’s our page’s event listing, and don’t forget to share the facebook event with your friends!

Currently Playing: RDR

Stay tuned, folks, because we’ll be announcing our next show soon (2/2/13, but you didn’t hear it from me). In the meantime, I thought I’d try to start an intermittent series on what I’ve been playing (or reading, because I have thoughts about Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye).

So, I bought Red Dead Redemption a long time ago. A really long time ago, but I just recently started to play it. I had been letting other games jump it in the queue because I wanted to play it on a TV that did the western landscapes justice. I finally got that  TV (in my first ever black Friday deal shopping), so I popped the game in a few weeks ago.

It’s little more than Grand Theft Horsey. but that’s to be expected. Rockstar uses the same tools they employ in the GTA franchise to craft the wild west world of Red Dead Redemption. The one problem I have with the game is that at times it feels like a checklist of “Western tropes we need to cram into this game.” I think the story suffers, which is clearly a priority for Rockstar in RDR.

This was most obvious when I found myself dueling a guy over a card game. I’m still not sure why they introduced me to some German guy, and then told me to me shoot him after he accused me of cheating.

Speaking of, the games of chance in RDR are mildly confusing. Money has never been an important resource in Rockstar games because one is rarely presented with budget issues. How come the poker games are limited to dimes and quarter hands? It seems like a gigantic waste of time, especially when one could be playing real games of chance like FoxyBingo. Assuming one is of legal age, you’d think anyone interested in playing poker online would not spend their time playing it for minimal stakes inside a video game that’s really about something else entirely. There’s plenty of sites that specialize in such activities, and if a person wants to spend a few hours a week playing Bingo or Texas Hold ‘Em, they’d go to a site that focuses on that experience instead of a Western styled sandbox.

Rockstar needs to include things like this in their games to make it feel like the wild west, but I wish it was done a little differently. Regardless, the game has been a lot of fun, and the game is simply beautiful. I’m glad I waited to finally give it a play.

Also, I might have watched this during dinner.

 

A Very Beta Holiday Concert

Prepare yourself for two amazing sets of your favorite holiday hits (perhaps slightly altered) along with electrifying arrangements of the hottest video game sounds of the past. Come to Philadelphia Christmas Village on December 1st and prepare to be forged into a holiday spirit super-being…

We’ll be playing two hour long sets (3pm and 5pm) with limited overlap between the two. You can come watch us or just use us as your soundtrack to holiday shopping. Our event page has some additional details.