VINNIE SPERRAZZA APOCRYPHAL Release 2nd Album on Loyal Label, HIDE YE IDOLS, October 27, 2017

LOREN STILLMAN (alto saxophone), BRANDON SEABROOK (guitar), EIVIND OPSVIK (doublebass)

Hide Ye Idols album cover

Drummer and composer Vinnie Sperrazza – building on the success of of his 2014 release Apocryphal and this spring’s Juxtaposition – presents Hide Ye Idols, his strongest artistic statement to date, released on Loyal Label on Oct 27.

Featuring the same cast from Apocryphal (Loyal Label, 2015) – alto saxophonist Loren Stillman (Paul Motian, Tyshawn Sorey), guitarist Brandon Seabrook (Seabrook Power Plant, Gerald Cleaver), bassist Eivind Opsvik (Dave Binney, Tony Malaby) and producer Geoff Kraly (one half of indie rising stars Paris Monster) – Hide Ye Idols is by turns cinematic, aggressive, melodic, irreverent, joyous, introspective, and underpinned by a dry, generous humor.

The album was recorded at Acoustic Recording, mixed by Opsvik, and mastered by drummer and bassist Nate Wood (Donny McCaslin, Kneebody). Drawing inspiration from a swath of sources as varied as Sun Ra, SquarepusherDavid Lynch’s Eraserhead soundtrackTerry GilliamVictorian literature, and trips to the Brooklyn Public Library’s History section, the music’s post-rock textures, improvisation, and electronic explorations all point in a wholly contemporary direction.

Speaking of the band, Sperrazza says, “after the first record Apocryphal, I booked as many shows as I could, and consequently had subs on gigs sometimes. It was then that I realized, and we all realized, that this is a band.  So we’re Vinnie Sperrazza Apocryphal now, and while I loved working with so many different musicians and am honored that many great players – Ben Monder, Matt Pavolka, Charlotte Greve – have helped us do shows, I recognize now that this is our vocabulary, our approach; it’s a group sound, not a sound that can be broken down into ‘this player with that player equals this music’”.

The opening track, “Sun Ra” is, according to Sperrazza, “more of a picture, a representation, an evocation” to the interplanetary jazz master than a tribute or composition in Sun Ra’s style. “I only became seriously interested in his music in 2014, his centenary, and I’ve found it an inexhaustible source of inspiration, pleasure, and delight. His music is a lot of fun, and it’s so wildly unpredictable, and he was so serious in his intent and goals, that it’s impossible not to be influenced by him, once you open your heart and mind to his message. He’s more relevant now than he’s ever been, maybe.”

“A People’s History” is of course a reference to Howard Zinn’s immensely popular survey of American history, A People’s History of The United States. Like many others, Sperrazza was drawn to the book after the 2016 Presidential election. “It’s a disturbing time we’re in, and everyone in my community is resisting the rising tide of right-wing fascism. This is the sound of the resistance, as we hear it.” The beginning of the track was created when producer Geoff Kraly, programmed a modular synthesizer to ‘listen’ to the band play the track, and then recorded what the band ‘sounded like’ to the synth.

The minor key, polyrhythmic “Family” was originally a lyrical ballad. “I wrote it thinking of my own family, and of Ian Frazier’s book Family, where he explores American history through the lens of grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on” Sperrazza explains. “I see a flickering, grainy moving image, and I see still photos hung on walls, in dining rooms and living rooms and master bedrooms, gathering dust. The photos gather dust and the names are forgotten, but family is who we are, whether we know it or not.” Sperrazza’s father, a musician and teacher, and his mother, a librarian, are amply represented on this track and the album as a whole.

Seabrook’s fractured, hyper, jagged, and motivic playing begins “St Jerome”, also heard on Juxtaposition. Its title refers to the man who translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, which became ‘The Bible’ (aka the ‘Vulgate’) in the West for 1,000 years. The bass line is in the same key (Eb) as “Sun Ra” which allows for Sperrazza intention of connecting the tracks. “This track perfectly captures the unique chemistry Loren and Brandon have: how they like to answer each other and contrast each other.” Sperrazza urges the listener to notice Brandon’s UFO sound during Loren’s solo.

Edward Bulwer Lytton is the author of the phrase “It was a dark and stormy night”, and was an editor of Charles Dickens (it’s said that it was he who insisted Dickens give Great Expectations a ‘happy’ ending). According to Sperrazza, the song Bulwer Lytton is “a portrait of a child’s aesthetic discovery, the moment when the child finds something in the world – a book, a song, a film, a place – and the child senses immediately that ‘all is different now’.” Sperrazza continues, “The Victorians–especially Dickens–were great at making kids into people, and this connects further to the themes of family and community running through the album.”

“Hide Ye Idols” the album’s title track, a brooding, soundscape populated by an acoustic bass and a lone alto saxophone, is for Sperrazza “the emotional center of the album.” He continues “The phrase [Hide Ye Idols] sounds Biblical, but I don’t think it is. It’s a command, directed to idols, and to those who idolize. Something like, ‘watch out, idols, we’re coming for you–better hide!’ But it’s also about adulthood, manhood: ‘put your idols away, your childish dreams and fantasies, get over it; you’ll always have your idols but they should be hidden where you can’t find them’.

The program concludes on a whimsical, swinging note with “Valentinus”, named for the 2nd century ‘Gnostic’ theologian. Like Sun Ra, he was the leader of a group that was both of the world and outside it, and like so many visionaries, was persecuted for his beliefs. “The tune existed before it was titled. It’s just a little fun tune and a tribute to another non-conformist. If we’re going to survive these times, we need humor and non-conformity. I think this track has both.”

Family, community, passage from childhood to adulthood, nods and glances to those who made the world and those who showed how to live in it – these themes constitute and pervade Hide Ye Idols, a product of two years of hard and focused work from a group of Brooklyn musicians, spearheaded and dreamt up by Vinnie Sperrazza. “Although any artist’s work is inherently personal, this group of songs, in this order, is more personal and autobiographical than any music I’ve made to date. And I can’t stress enough what a group project this was. Everyone – the band, the engineers, Geoff Kraly, Eivind as a mixing engineer, and Nate Wood– made this music what it is, and it was our unity of purpose that’s made this a strong statement. I’m honored to share it with listeners everywhere.”


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