Our Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

The Making of the Jaffa Suite (reposted from Facebook)


[At the end of this post you can also find links to the songs as well as to the Spotify playlist I made for the Jaffa Suite.]



On Jaffa I: Naked on The Rocks

The fourth track on THE BLEACHED BONES OF TITANS is the first song in a three-song suite I call The Jaffa Suite. “Jaffa 1: Naked on the Rocks” relates to the tale of Andromeda, daughter of Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia, wife to King Cepheus, bragged that she and her daughter were more beautiful than the sea nymphs. As punishment, Poseidon demanded that Cassiopeia's daughter, Andromeda, be bound naked in chains on a cliff overlooking the sea in sacrifice to Cetus, a sea monster (in some variants of the story also a Titan, part of the derivation of this album's title). Andromeda escaped purely by chance when the demigod hero Perseus spied her whilst returning from beheading the Gorgon Medusa.


The themes explored in the Jaffa Suite are pride, submission, and ignorance. When we allow our pride to rule us (as in the case of either Cassiopeia or the sea nymphs acting in revenge of her vain statements) we set in motion our own destruction.


By the same token, however, blind submission offers equally horrific consequences. One obvious iniquity addressed in the myth is the fact that Andromeda is the requisite sacrifice in this scenario despite having committed no crime. She allows her mother to wield control over her life in those vain statements; likewise, she blindly submits to the will of the gods, who have no concern whatsoever with her.


Finally, the idea of ignorance — allowing the unknown to rule over us —is addressed. In Andromeda’s case, an unknown factor ultimately provides salvation, but that salvation is pure luck and leaves her with no moral learned. The idea that any power greater than ours, any knowledge beyond our own, is equivalent to “godliness” is what leads to both submission and pride: Rather than question authority, we submit to it; likewise, viewing ourselves as the highest standard of measurement on our own plane, we deify whatever we do not understand in order to make ourselves feel important, i.e. the idea that “if I don’t understand it, then it must be the work of God!” rather than explore potential answers and solution through intellectual inquiry is the pinnacle of intellectual and ethical laziness but also an expression of pride that ultimately, and somewhat paradoxically, leads to submission.


As far as the making of the song is concerned, and indeed the entire three-song suite, these songs were written at the last minute almost by chance. We had eight songs prepared for a “super-EP” that ran roughly 34 minutes. As we prepared for our engineer and co-producer to begin the final mixing and mastering, he was called away for ten days due to a death in the family. It occurred to me that in a pre-sale scenario on iTunes, pre-orders can be rewarded with one “immediate gratification” track provided the album is 11 tracks or more. I decided that we should create three more songs to round out the album. But I needed them to be short — I wanted the run time kept reined in at about 40 minutes so that we could consider vinyl as a release option (although thus far we haven’t the funds to do so, although if 200 of you read this and feel compelled to order some vinyl at about $15 a pop, well, then, we could just do that!).


Thus, I sat down in one afternoon and penned these three songs quite quickly. I wanted to use odd chord changes and time signatures to reflect the sense of alienation and urgency the characters in the suite songs were experiencing. You’ll notice if you’re attentive that the verses of “Jaffa 1” are only 4/4 in theory — they actually vacillate from 3/4 to 5/4 predictably. Then along comes the post-refrain bridge at 7/8 to throw everything out of whack. “Jaffa 2” takes this notion even further with its three distinct tempos for its three movements, the middle one of which is at a 15/8 time signature.


The instrumentation in The Jaffa Suite’s songs are almost entirely the work of Adam Silverstein. Tom Briant threw in a few guitar parts in my home studio to augment Adam’s work, and Steve Jankowski added a few more drum parts to Adam’s arrangement, but the credit for the songs’ sounds lie really with Adam Silverstein.




JAFFA I: NAKED ON THE ROCKS


Kiss your family goodbye.

The oracular eye declares that this is the date.

Did your beauty offend?

It does no good to pretend

That you can circumvent fate.


Stripped naked, borne in chains

To a rock that bears pride’s stain

O’er Poseidon’s vast domain.


Was her hubris unchecked?

Her remarks out of text?

Did she just last sense?

If so, then why you, not her?

The punishment was transferred

When the gods took offense.


Stripped naked, borne in chains

To a rock that bears pride’s stain

O’er Poseidon’s vast domain.


She will hold a mirror and circle upside down.

Ethiopia will tremble

Then Ethiopia will drown.

A clutch of stars you shall bear from your womb.

They’ll bear your name long past your tale,

Your almost-tomb in Jaffa.

In Jaffa.


On Jaffa II: Kneeling at the Frame

My apologies for not keeping up with the insights on the new album THE BLEACHED BONES OF TITANS, which we released in November of 2015. Holidays… Busy tutoring season begun… Always SOMETHING to keep me from resuming!


Well, this note will bring us to track five, which puts us almost halfway into the album. Track five, “Jaffa 2: Kneeling at the Frame,” is the second of three songs in the Jaffa Suite. Whereas the first Jaffa is set in mythological times, the second is set in the present, in a quarter of Tel Aviv known as Jaffa. The largely Arabic region is plagued by poverty and drugs, and the song is sung from the perspective of a heroin addict saying goodbye to this world. The reference to David and the Gate have to do with the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, once again supplying a tie-in to the album’s title as it pertains to psychological abuse and/or oppression and the long term ramifications to the psyches of the victims of more powerful figures who loom as gods in the minds of those victims.


All three Jaffa songs were written at the last minute when we had a ten day reprieve that extended our recording, mixing, and mastering timeline. The arrangement of this one is almost entirely by Adam Silverstein, who did all of the synths and the percussion in his home studio in England. Once he sent me the digital files, I added vocals. Tom Briant added a little bit of guitar, and Steve Jankowski added a smidgeon of additional percussion. The album version is a synth rock song in the vein of early Genesis (Peter Gabriel era) or Yes, or even some of David Bowie's less glammy and more proggy numbers. Despite a 4/4 tempo overall, there are bits that alternate 8/8 to 7/8.

Here are two links to video.


The first is a live acoustic version of the song, dedicated to Ed Briel, who ordered one of the first copies of the albums.


And here is a link to the album version in its entirety:


Of course, you can buy digital copies on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, and other digital distribution services, but CDBaby gives me the largest cut and charges the same as the other services, so here’s that link:


Should you care for a HARD COPY, then please send me a note here with your email address so I can submit a PayPal invoice to you.


JAFFA 2: KNEELING AT THE FRAME (lyrics)


Don’t keep me now. I’m late. No use to remonstrate. The Keeper of The Gate is my Dealer, Friend, and Fate. The doorway’s no escape, and yet this world it does reshape. When this knave’s caught by the nape, I can cease to bow and scrape.


Everybody knows that you can name a price for what you need to put you out of mind. Pick the proper piper. Know the limits of what you'd concede and he will pay you in kind.


Say a prayer for me, David. I'm kneeling at the frame, a novice with no home or name. Say a prayer for me, David. I'm blistered in the sun, my road so long and yet unrun in Jaffa.


Don't miss me now I'm gone. Time only marches on. We shall meet again anon on the other side of dawn. Each doorway, Fortune's best, the needle falls. And yet, until the frieze is set, you do not know what you shall get.

Everybody knows that you can name a price to dissolve the very world's edge. Pick your piper carefully. Not every myth resolves. One more sacrifice from the ledge.


Say a prayer for me, David. I'm kneeling at the frame, a novice with no home or name. Say a prayer for me, David. I'm blistered in the sun, my road so long and yet unrun in Jaffa.


Say a prayer for me, David. I'm kneeling at the frame, a novice with no home or name. Say a prayer for me, David. I'm blistered in the sun, my road so long and yet unrun in Jaffa.


On Jaffa III: Erased by Time and Sea

As with all three songs in the Jaffa Suite, this song was quickly written and recorded to be added to The Bleached Bones of Titans album when we found out we had a ten day furlough in recording while our engineer and co-producer had to tend to a death in the family.


With the exception of some of the cymbals, added in the studio by Steve Jankowski, all of the instrumentation here is done by Adam Silverstein. His work here is, I think, an amazing testament to his abilities as a musician and arranger because he did it all in about two days. The string section is just incredible in its rise and fall, and the piano playing — he took my chord structure and rough notes and turned it into something very gorgeous and Chopin-esque — sounds like a true classical composition. Beyond that, there is almost nothing to tell about the recording. I did the vocals at home. Steve Jankowski mixed and mastered them flawlessly.


This song is about how cultural myths perpetuate even after the origin of the myth has vanished. The idea of cultural primacy established by a particular worship or pantheon in particular is main focus of the narrative, but again it feeds into the suite’s theme of psychological damage inflicted through the unquestioning acceptance of authority.


Lyrics:


By the sea, the brilliant blue Mediterranean did we spend the eons drowning in the sun, bathing in the light, scrubbed clean by salt air, and of our sins did we absolve ourselves. And if our conflicts weren’t resolved, we still knew that we were chosen by the gods and we would see another day. Deus ex machina, or so they say.


Centuries and empires pass. Here we shall find ourselves at last, the distance never quite so vast to ban the threshold from our sight in the blinding azure liquid light.


There, the maiden lay in chains. Below, the Titan’s slain remains, bleached remnants of a curse, beached against the surf on the sea, oh so infinite effacing memory. Destinies go racing and ennui is just a moment without form, a port without a storm. Yet the moments are all pregnant, are all wet. Beads of water through your fingers, the blessing of the gods that lingers and is gone before you recognize the blessing. Empty prayers leave you guessing at the intentions of your gods and at your faith.


Here we have been taken. Here we our faith was shaken, here forsaken, here in Jaffa. Save a prayer for me, David, at your gate.


Meanwhile, here is a live rendition:


And here is the studio version available on the album THE BLEACHED BONES OF TITANS:


Don’t forget that these tracks are all available on iTunes, CDBaby, eMusic, and Amazon. For digital downloads, CDBaby provides the best return for the artists. You can also send me a direct message to order a hard copy provided you live in the USA.


Finally, here’s the SPOTIFY PLAYLIST LINK, and below is the full list of tracks.


The Random Hubiak Band/Jaffa Suite

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer/Jerusalem

Genesis/Return of the Giant Hogweed

Electric Light Orchestra/Dreaming of 4000

The Who/Underture

Styx/Come Sail Away

Yes/Roundabout

Jethro Tull/Thick as a Brick (Edit)

Bettina Joy De Guzman/Epitaph of Seikilos

Split Enz/Maybe

Electric Light Orchestra/10538 Overture

Peter John/Genocide

Genesis/Looking for Someone

Pink Floyd/Dogs

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer/Toccata

Rush/Natural Science

Jethro Tull/Heavey Horses

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer/From the Beginning

Genesis/The Knife

Yes/Heart of the Sunrise

Pink Floyd/Shine On You Crazy Diaond (I-V)

Electric Light Orchestra/Can’t Get It Out of My Head

Genesis/Carpet Crawlers

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer/Still You Turn me On

Yes/I’ve Seen All The Good People

 

©2018 BY THE RANDOM HUBIAK MUSIC. PROUDLY CREATED WITH WIX.COM