NYC-based jazz-inspired avant-pop artist Micah Gaugh
is releasing his new album Stars Are a Harem
on May 12 via Se-lo Net Lab, which he recorded in Harlem. Stars are a Harem is a modern day answer to Miles Davis Kind of Blue
, where the music is steeped in the avant-garde tradition while being accessible to the public ear thanks to “pop” recording techniques and a softening of the harsh sounds associated with the 1960s avant-garde amidst American jazz music.
Virtually transported to the cool jazz of the 1950s, a deeper listen shows the words are a modern version of Cole Porter
s witty romance writing or songs popularized by Billy Holiday
and Betty Carter
. Inspired by Debussy
, Micah Gaugh understands that the subtleties of improvised music can make as strong an impact as the frenetic tones of the avant-garde. The songs on this album are portraits about women while not completely romantic, each composition is the soundtrack to a mind-painting focused on an experience with an individual woman.
“This is an inside/outside sound of dissidence or even rebellion, in its soft and inviting beauty, the power of love overcoming the love of power,” says Micah Gaugh.
Born in Panama, Micah Gaugh spent most of his adult life in the East Village, New York, leading him to many adventures through music and visual art. Other members of Micah Gaughs band are Kevin Shea, Henry Schroy and Leon Gruenbaum. Ahead of releasing this 13-song collection, Micah presented the first single from this album. ‘Remembering’ is a minimalistic, tranquil and spacious ballad resting on an underlying bed of jazz.
Micah Gaugh first coined the phrase “avant-pop” in 1994 to refer to music that sounds quite like pop music, but the underlying creation of the music, chords, rhythms, words, etc. are more complex than the normal methods used to create popular music. He has collaborated, live and in studio, with dozens of renowned musicians, including Lady Miss Kier of Dee-lite, John Zorn, Cecil Taylor, Bootsy Collins, Meshell Ndegeocello, Burnt Sugar, DJ Logic, Thurston Moore, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, DJ Spooky, Vernon Reid of Living Colour. He also participated in remixes by James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) for The Sounds, Ladytron, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well as being a member of groundbreaking alternative rock band Apollo Heights (now The Veldt).
Micah acted in the season five premiere of Sex in the City and the play American Book of the Dead. He also composed the score for the ballet Highrise and for the musical version of Sweet Sweetbacks Badass Song with Melvin Van Peebles.
His previous albums include Everything
(2006), ‘The Blue Fairy Mermaid Princess’
(2013), and Pessego do Verao
(2016). He has written two operas: Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights and a piece for the artist Rirkrit Taravanija featured in il Postino di Tiempo. He composed the music for and acted in the Matthew Barney film Di Lama Lamina and engaged in the Noise Mass choral work, commissioned by the Chiesa Rosa in Milan. Micah also paints and writes novels. His artwork has been exhibited in galleries across the USA and as far away as Brazil, France, Japan and the UK.
‘Stars Are a Harem’ is available for pre-order on Sê-lo Records Bandcamp, where Remembering is already streaming. The album includes a 14-page music booklet “13 piano pieces for children – Stars Are a Harem (Micah Gaugh)”, as well as a 13 piano song suite midi file for those wishing to remix, sample and loop.
On May 12 (at 9:00pm), the band will be putting on a release show in New York at NUBLU [62 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009. Phone 212-979-9925].
Micah Gaugh – composer, piano, voice, sax
Kevin Shea – drums
Henry Schroy – bass, recording engineer (bass) (ChezSophia, Rio de Janeiro)
Hayato Nakao – recording engineer (drums) (Long Island City)
Luqman Brown – recording engineer (voice, piano, sax) (Buddha Bug Recording Studios, Harlem)
Mixed by Henry Schroy and Chad Zuchegno at The Vibe Recording (Fort Myers, FL)
Mastered by Emily Lazar at The Lodge assisted by Chris Allgood (New York City)
Produced by Henry Schroy and Micah Gaugh
Photo credit: Matthew Heyner (front) and Byron Dean (back)
Daniel McKleinfeld video animations
Tono Radvanay video photography
Henry Schroy video editor
Joaquim Castro (Canal Canal) sax videoclip
Lucas Freire – technician
LYRICS – ‘REMEMBERING’
Its so easy to sleep
as the flower falls from the tree
youre so lovely
and the breeze from the sea as the lake
flows by gently awe inspiring
you told me that I would be your Prince
that is left to happenstance
the fire that burned could be seen from across the street
we were camping slightly the moon
in your eyes disappears with the rain
I cant complain
in the tent we were ghost with a glow so absurd
my word graceful songbird
tried and true what were we supposed to do
what could we do with our time
Keep up with Micah Gaugh