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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Schooltree - Heterotopia

The late great Bruce Lee once said, “Zen is not attained by mirror-wiping meditation, but by self-forgetfulness in the existential present of life her and now. We do not “come”, we “are”. Don’t strive to become, but be. I think what he was saying is we remind of ourselves from our rebellion is part of the mash between what is happening right now and the knowledge and ignorance is how it unites the arrangement on what we’ve become of a choice of perspectives.

That and Schooltree’s second relese which follows up to their debut album, Rise. Four years in the making, Heterotopia is a symphonic dystopian rock opera that follows in the footsteps between The Who’s Quadrophenia, The Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow, Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Now since I can’t go into spoilers, the music is mysterious, brilliant, and touching.

It tells the story of Suzi, a modern underachiever who tried to keep in the dreams which is broken and living the life of a rock-n-roller, but her life is completely dark and she wants to become herself and try to support herself to get away from the rich and famous, but then she loses her body and travels through a parallel universe of the collective unconscious to get it back.

It’s a task that she must take by not travelling around the dreamlike world, it’s the test that she has to cover on the origins of its darkness, and finding the courage to search for herself. There’s essence of the Lamb story and also Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, and it works completely well. I nearly wept through the entire album and I was spellbound right from the get-go.

Dead Girl is a taunting rocker. It’s a sneering composition with a heavy guitar blast with a mid-tempo drum pattern as Lainey sings different vocals on the three characters as you can imagine her delving into David Bowie’s Reality-era while Enantiodromia Awakens sees her portraying Suzi and one of the others in her Dalek-like computerized vocals with a dooming electronic yet ambient mournful composition.

Radio is Suzi trying to call out for someone, but no one can hear her. In the music, you can feel her pain as she tries again except one of her Zombified bodies. It’s almost that she has become deaf, dumb, and blind. Not to mention the Queen-sque and Floydian parts done by Brendan Burns and the sound of static radio as the alarming tease of Walk You Through that is a part of a segue.

You can imagine her that she is in full control of her body and teases her. There’s some hard rock and teensy-bits of clavinet wah-wah funk. As Danilchuk does his little homage to Tony Banks, he adds a bit of the scenery on the organ as Zombuzi is planning to take over of what Suzi tried to do, but failed because of her irresponsibility. It’s haunting, sinister, and heavier at the same time of what is happening in the story.

The Big Slide is very much the cross as Kate Bush had teamed up with Peter Hammill and the band Discipline to write on how Suzi has become an outsider and knowing that the dream is over, but the responsibilities that she has do to, is hard and not easy on her part. When I listened to the entire album, I nearly wept again because it shows that Lainey is not only an amazing writer, composer, and performer, but she has come a long, long way to work hard of bringing the story to life.

And with a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $20,000, and supporters including Margaret Cho, Aimee Mann, Amanda Palmer, and Barry Crimmins to name a few, it’s showing support and knowing not to let the genre of Art, Theatre and the Progressive Rock scene, to keep the flames burning. Schooltree will premiere the rock opera this coming Friday at the OBERON, the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA.

Heterotopia is a spectacular release this year and while its way, way, way, way too early for my top 30 albums for 2017, this is definitely going to be in my top 10. And I would like to close a quote from Stan “The Man” Lee, “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility!

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