After working on it for over three years (!), my post-Christian nihilist pop-opera, The Little Death: Vol. 1 is out now on New Amsterdam Records! It features myself and Mellissa Hughes on vocals, and James Moore and Mike Gurfield on Guitar and Trumpet!
Here is New Amsterdam’s description:
The Little Death: Vol. 1 is an ambitious new work that fuses bombastic electro-pop hooks, frenetically chopped break beats, hypnotic lyrics, and apocalyptic Christian imagery. Holding these disparate elements together is an unconventional narrative that follows two characters, Boy (Matt Marks) and Girl (Mellissa Hughes), on a journey through the world of Fundamentalist Evangelism, as they cope with repressed sexuality in a modern world. The sample-heavy work draws on musical references that echo the character’s sexual-religious confusion, including pop songs and gospel standards with evocative titles (“He Touched Me” and “When God Dips His Love In My Heart”). Marks took most of the sampled material from his own collection of 1970s gospel albums and classic hip-hop and soul recordings. Using a DIY approach, he produced the album using only a couple of microphones and a laptop running Ableton Live.
Here are a couple excerpts from some early reviews:
The Little Death is music theater, pop/rock opera really, and tremendously accomplished. Marks made the whole thing himself and plays all the instruments, except for guitar and trumpet, and sings the part of Boy with the excellent and versatile Mellissa Hughes as Girl. The music captures pop styles in the way a musical does, by hitting certain numbers, but there’s nothing wrong with that approach (Urinetown is a great example of how well the standard style can work) and in any case the music is just so good that I found myself strolling through Brooklyn this morning humming ‘OMG I’m Shot’ to myself, certainly the best sock-hop-dance-pop-driving-rock song about being shot ever written. The Little Death also offers bits of staggered punk and erotic rock ballad, but in a nutshell Marks works very much like Mikel Rouse, but more explosively intense and exuberant, with touches of Carl Stone. Making music in this theatrical style means connecting with, but not pandering to, the audience, there’s some obligation to give the listener enough of what they may expect or be familiar with as a bit of legerdemain before hitting them with the goods.
No, I don’t know what a “post-Christian nihilist pop opera” is exactly, but that’s what they tell me Matt Marks‘ new piece/album The Little Death: Vol 1 (New Amsterdam) is and music like this doesn’t come along every day—or ever—so I am more than willing to accept the moniker they’ve chosen. In my mind, it’s what Eric Whitacre’s Paradise Lost could have been were it more concise and beat-centric. Because there are some killer beats on this album, beginning with the “Penetration Overture”, into the climax of “OMG I’m Shot” (one of the many incarnations of the petit mortmotif), and pretty much everywhere else.
Through extensive sampling, dubstep, breakbeats, and evocation of 1970s gospel, The Little Death tells the story of Boy (sung by Marks) and Girl (Mellissa Hughes), two teenagers exploring their relationship in the context of American Evangelicalism. As such, it is an album that connects on multiple levels. At turns dramatic, ridiculous, beautiful, and just plain fun, there is plenty to please the casual listener (I have been singing “OMG I’m Shot” to myself all day)
The Little Death: Vol. 1 will be having a two-week run this July at The Ontological Theater in NYC. The specific dates are July 8-11 and 14-17. This will be the most extensive version of the live opera yet. It will be directed once again by the fantastic Rafael Gallegos.