Monday, September 14, 2015

The Gold Album

OK, here we go!

I've loved the television show, The Golden Girls, for a loooong time now.  I've wanted to do this for a couple of years, but since today is the 30th anniversary of the Golden Girls' premiere episode, I thought this would be a good time to motivate myself.

I/we are going to do The Gold Album.  Yes, an entire album/EP about The Golden Girls' Universe!  I've set today to announce it and will have all the songs written and recorded by May 9, 2016.  May 9th is the date that the final episode of The Golden Girls aired.  Ryan, Corey, and George will be contributing in whatever way they see fit.  I'm a little bit of a fanboy when it comes to the show, so I'd imagine you'll be seeing me do a majority of the stuff for this.

Essentially, this is a concept album set in a utopian future.  Most of our 20th and 21st century culture has disappeared.  The primary exception being The Golden Girls and what the show brings to the table.  Picture it:  Viewing a new world through golden eyes.  Haha!  Each girl is viewed as a saint with her own song/hymn.  The musical style will be a bit all over the place, but every song will have some element of music that was either in the show or associated with the time period combined with what I think might have also made it 9000 years from now.  There will be one song for each girl and probably two versions of the theme song (in different musical styles).  If things feel right, there might even be a song for some of the side characters (Stanley Zbornak perhaps?).

I know it sounds ridiculous.  That's because it is.  I love the show and I hope that those with a similar view as me will get a kick out of it too.

Anyway, I threw together a YouTube video that consists of me geeking out and describing this same thing.  It's a one take, no editing kind of thing.  I don't normally do this, but today is a special today.

Happy 30th Anniversary to The Golden Girls!

Thanks for reading and watching.  Thank you for being a friend!

Mark


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Minor Updates

A lack of updates sometimes means a lack of things happening.  That hasn't necessarily been the case.  I hate to post every time something small happens, but a few small things and one big thing seemed to justify a new post.  The live band has been busy right now AND I am working on a bit of instrumental music for a few things.

We had our first performance in July at The Main Street Cafe in Clarksburg, WV.  We played with some really nice folks and the people at the venue are very nice.  It was an eclectic lineup and I'm sure we will do it again.

I'll be doing music for a production of George Farquhar's play, The Beaux' Strategem this December.  I'm also working on an interactive dance piece in conjunction with a really nice choreographer and two lighting designers/digital effects artists.  This has potential to be really amazing, but we are still early in the process.

We are finishing up recording for our full length, The Great Repression.   We've shared some music from this album already so you have an idea of what it will sound like.  We would like to do some special video releases for this too.  If you are a video creator or animator, email us and maybe we can collaborate.

The bigger news right now is that Black Hole Zion live band has been selected to play at the Trauma Halloween Fetish Festival in Columbus, Ohio.  Trauma runs from 10/29/15 to 10/31/15  at the historic Bluestone Theater.  Black Hole Zion will be performing on Friday, October 30th.  We are very excited to be part of such an interesting and engaging sound and visual experience.  You can read more about Trauma and purchase tickets at http://www.traumacolumbus.com.  We will be doing some special things for this performance only.  If you are in the area, or can make the drive, come out and see us.

Oh, and we just Twitter and YouTube accounts.  You can follow and tweet to @blackholezion now if you are a Twitter person.  The Black Hole Zion YouTube channel is here.

Talk soon!

Mark



Friday, June 12, 2015

I'll Die for What I Believe in (I Just Don't Know What That Is Yet)

All of the music from Blood Nebula is meant to accompany something visual or be a part of something else you are involved in.  As I've said before, these songs were originally written for live theatre.  I take it as a very nice compliment when someone tells me that they use the music from one of the "Nebula" releases to paint, exercise, garden, think, whatever.  That is exactly what I hoped for.

I also know that a lot of people discover music primarily through YouTube.  I thought it would be nice to have a sort of "visualizer" for at least one of the Blood Nebula tracks.  A lot of folks put up lyric videos for their music.  However, you can't quite do a lyric video for an instrumental track.  Instead, I stitched some footage and still images together that touch on some themes for that track without trying to tell a traditional story.  Someone using YouTube to discover music can find it and have something a little more than a static image and lyrics going across the screen while they listen.

I chose "I'll Die for What I Believe in (I Just Don't Know What That Is Yet)" simply because it is my favorite track from Blood Nebula.  I wrote it for a large battle scene in a production of Shakespeare's Henry IV (parts 1 and 2).  I remember being so excited when the director asked for something with electric guitar.  I had been looking at concept art for the play and just ran with an idea I had.  Thankfully, the director was into it and they created a stylized battle scene to go with it.  Fun!  After that was done and I decided to release this collection of songs for Blood Nebula, I sent that track to Tony Rohrbough to add even more guitar.  You might know Tony as the former lead guitar player for the metal band, Byzantine.  He is also unbelievably talented when it comes to jazz and other styles. Tony played some amazing lead guitar and took the song up another notch.  You can hear Tony's playing after the intro and periodically throughout to the outro.  Tony and Ryan are probably my two  favorite guitarists around, so it has been really awesome to work on music with them and have my guitar tracks co-exist with their stuff.

I'm by no means an expert at putting video together, but I believe it gets my above points across.  Actually, this was my first attempt at using a new piece of software.  Hopefully someone hears and sees this, then decides to do something of their own.  Personally, I would love it if some others did some right-brain style videos for the rest of the songs on Blood Nebula.  Here is the track via YouTube.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blood Nebula is out today

Just like the title says, Blood Nebula is out today.  I've already written a couple of posts about it, so this will serve to pool the links to various places you can get it. 

Bandcamp

Loudr

iTunes

Amazon

Spotify

Listen and share when you can.  I hope you enjoy it.  Now it's time to switch gears and work on more new music. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Blood Nebula is finished

Here is a much shorter post than the last one regarding Blood Nebula. It's finished and will be available on May 22nd, 2015. It will be released on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes, Loudr, Amazon, and a few other places.  You can read the previous post if you want detailed information (it's long). However, I do want to include the track listing and the cover art in this post. I also want to take a beat to thank the following individuals that were really helpful and so very encouraging along the way:

Alan M. for recruiting me as a composer for so many cool live theatrical projects that brought me to releasing this music and listening to rough mixes. I would probably have never written much of this music without Alan suggesting me as a composer to folks.

Natalie B. for listening to rough mixes and giving me some guidance and helping with decisions for the cover art. I love you, Nat!

Logan V. for giving me lots of great suggestions on making the tracks pop even more and giving some track order ideas.  Also for making me be a little less crazy on wanting to keep tweaking the mixes.

Corey L. listening to rough mixes and helping me with cover art decisions.

Tony R. for listening to some rough mixes and, most importantly, adding some inspired lead guitar to four of the tracks off of Blood Nebula. I think I used everything you recorded and loved it all.

Here is the track listing and album cover:

1.  Rebels of the Pointless Blade
2.  Churn, Suspend, Bleed, Repeat
3.  Damn the Devil Who Created Knives
4.  The Forest Has Eyes
5.  Q the Magnificent
6.  Celebrate What?
7.  Lullaby for the Great Dead Horse in the Liquid Metal Sky
8.  Blood Moon Paradise
9.  The Court of Cultural Indecency
10.  I'll Die for What I Believe in (I Just Don't Know What That Is Yet)
Want to hear a new song from Blood Nebula? Here you go!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blood Nebula (The Long Version)

I tend to work on multiple things at once.  While this makes projects take longer, it lets me jump in on something while I am really excited and inspired.  After that initial creative burst, I'll calm down a bit and switch into something else and start the whole process over.  This really helps keep each musical adventure fresh each time I come back to it.

Anyway, I compose music for plays sometimes.  I really enjoy most aspects of it.  I like to collaborate, and plays take that to another level.  Instead of only working with other musicians, you have a director, SFX and lighting folks, scene design, props, costumes, actors, dancers, etc...  It really is a great experience.  You are given some concept art, a script, and some background info from the director.  This might include some ideas as to what they want in terms of instrumentation (wind instruments, acoustic guitar, percussion, electronics, or something else).  After that, I get to work on musical sketches for various scenes in the script.

A play is a lot different than a movie or a game.  It is quite rare for large chunks to be underscored.   After I get a few sketches together, I sit down with the director and the SFX person to see how my vision fits their vision(s).  I've been fortunate in that I've never had to massively redo any music I've written.  However, you always have to change something.  It could be as simple as getting to the next section a little faster because you are underscoring stage combat.  It could be something a little more difficult like remixing an 8 channel surround piece because the dancers are out in the audience and would like more piano in two different channels so that it sounds a little closer to the stereo version they had been doing initial rehearsals with.  You get the idea, right?

I ended up  REALLY liking some of those pieces of music from the last year or two outside of the context of live theater.  I decided to take a bit of time away from the music (yeah, see above) and then tweak some things back to how I preferred them instead of how they fit the scene.  Some of the pieces were given additional sections too.

While there were some things that already had guitar on them from me, I wanted some additional parts played by another person.  As usual, I reached out to my friend and primary Black Hole Zion collaborator, Ryan/Mega Beardo, to see if he would be interested in doing it.  He had a bunch of stuff going on, most importantly, planning a wedding, getting married, and going on a honeymoon.  It just happened that our friend, Tony, was free.  Tony had just gotten some new gear and was looking to test it out with some recording.  You may know Tony from his former band, Byzantine, where he played lead guitar.  Tony and Ryan are both really talented, so it was like getting a million dollars worth of cheesecake versus a million dollars worth of ice cream.  Did I just compare the talents of my friends to desserts?  If you know me well, you'll know this is one of the highest compliments I could give.

All of the music I was most attached to had similar underlying elements:  conflict and violence.  There are some light sounding pieces, but even those had some type of conflict necessitating their existence.  Some are heavy on electronics and others are all acoustic instruments.  As you might have guessed by the title of this post, this collection of music will be called Blood Nebula.  Blood Nebula serves as a continuation and a sort of mate to Reflection Nebula.  Both are instrumental collections, but whereas Reflection Nebula steered quite hard to the right side of the brain and being a little ambient, Blood Nebula is more focused and driving.

I've just about finished mixing everything, and I'm really proud of how it is turning out.  I'm very excited for folks to hear it.  For now, here is a sample of one piece called "I'll Die for What I Believe in (I Just Don't Know What That Is Yet)" via my Instagram.  I'm looking forward to posting more soon.

Thanks for reading,
mb

A video posted by Mark Zbornak (@mbmultiverse) on

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saxophone Music

I've always wanted to write something for the saxophone, but never followed through with it.  This stems mostly from the fact that I can't play the saxophone.  Also, I am not that great at notating or transposing it (I should have tried to retain more of that from orchestration class in college).  However, I was approached by saxophonist, Carl Wiggins, to compose a piece for him that would be played at one of his doctoral recitals.  I happily agreed because I knew what a great guy and talented musician Carl is.  I also thought this would be a good opportunity to brush up and improve on generating musical notation for a transposing instrument like the baritone saxophone.

The piece is called "Steven and Stefan Versus the Twin Peaks Massacre in Hell".  It is written for baritone saxophone, piano, drum set, and electronics.  If you are familiar with the television shows Family Matters and Twin Peaks, then you have an idea of the alternate reality I want the music to take place in.  Basically, Steve Urkel and his "cool" alter ego, Stefan, are able to co-exist simultaneously.  They have been dispatched to an even darker and more deranged version of Twin Peaks where they have to embrace the bizarre and do battle.  Hilarity and violence ensue, haha!  If anyone out there enjoys Twin Peaks and Family Matters as much as I do, I'd love to see you produce a mash up video that could accompany this music!

The piece will be premiered sometime in April.  After that, I plan on getting a proper recording and making the score available to other interested saxophonists.

I'll post a sample at some point soon.  For now, here is a screen shot of the first few bars of the score.  It's a straight port from Pro Tools, so there are no markings for dynamics and the saxophone has not been transposed.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Initial Post on the New Site

As you can see, this is the very first post I'm making to the new Black Hole Zion website.  There are a few new things happening, but I'll start with the existing stuff first:

I released the first Black Hole Zion EP titled, Reflection Nebula, back in April 2014.   This was a collection of odd right-brain music for sure, and was my way of introducing this project to the world.  In addition to all the performance and programming I did for the songs on this release, I had the help of my main collaborator, Ryan Postlethwait, to add some guitar to a few tracks.  Ryan is a talented guitarist and good friend.  I also had Pamela Murchison of the West Virginia and Akron Symphony Orchestras play flute and alto flute on "the poor the sick the dying the dead".  I love instrumental music, and I love the fact that this album sounds totally different than the next Black Hole Zion release.

I also went back and released something I completed with my friend, Jonathan, and my wife.  A couple of years back we did a little six song Misfits tribute to give away to friends for Halloween.  We ended up having more people ask how to get a copy.  We debated giving it away online, but I knew that even that might open us up to a lawsuit from one of the original band members.  Instead, I went ahead and licensed the tracks and made them available on Loudr and iTunes for a low price.  This way, we could share the music and not worry about getting sued.  It's a totally different take on the Misfits than what a purist might want, so fair warning. 

I'll post another update very soon to talk about all the new things happening.  For now, I just wanted to make the required introductions and test out the new site.

Thanks for reading (and hopefully listening)!