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Lonely Motel: Music from Slide
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Lonely Motel: Music from Slide
eighth blackbird
with Steven Mackey composer / electric guitar
Rinde Eckert librettist / vocalist
CDR 90000128

2011 Grammy Award Winner!
Best Small Ensemble Performance

Lonely Motel is the world premiere recording of songs from the startlingly innovative music and theater work Slide, written for new-music sextet eighth blackbird, an ensemble of wind, string, piano, and percussion virtuosos. The group, with composer-electric guitarist Steven Mackey and singer, actor, and librettist Rinde Eckert, premiered the concert-length work at the 2009 Ojai Music Festival in Southern California, a mecca for cutting-edge music enthusiasts. The same forces perform on the new CD, which takes its title from the final song in the cycle.

Eckert plays the central character, Renard, a fictional research psychologist whose fiancee has abandoned him. The heartbroken Renard reminisces about an experiment he conducted using projections of photographic slides to explore the fallibility of human perception.

Reviewing Slide's premiere performance at Ojai, Musical America said Chicago-based eighth blackbird "represents the ascendant generation of post classical music." Mackey's music was "brilliantly played," complemented by the "amazing" Eckert's "typically riveting physical performance style." London's Sunday Telegraph wrote, "eighth blackbird perform with a freedom almost unheard of in their technically demanding repertoire." The Los Angeles Times said eighth blackbird exemplifies "a new breed of super-musicians" and called Mackey's fusion of rock and classical music "powerful and impressive," as performed by eighth blackbird with "their irresistible élan."
Lonely Motel: Music from Slide

Sung by a lovelorn psychologist, the songs in Lonely Motel are about perception, self-delusion and ultimately about the isolation created by the attachments we develop to our own fuzzy, personal views of reality.

The music is a dish by and for musical omnivores and while the ingredients have been diced quite finely (and there is no quotation), the songs are seasoned with homages to Dowland, Mozart, Stravinsky, Piazzola, and The Beatles.

-Steven Mackey

LYRICS
LONELY MOTEL
MUSIC FROM SLIDE
Lyrics

1 Slide of Dog

Slide, slide of, Slide of dog, Slide of dog running, dog running. Running
Slide, slide of, Slide of dog, Slide of dog running, dog running. Running
Ignore him.

Ignore him. Ignore the context. Ignore the apparatus, Identify only what is presented, pictured. Picture only... picture only what is in focus. Picture only what is not outside the frame. Picture only what is pictured. This capacity for isolating the variable...

We ask the subjects to identify the dog running. We ask them not to ask what the dog is running from. We ask them not to ask what the dog is running to. We ask them to see only what is pictured

Slide, Slide of, Slide of man, Slide of man sitting,
man sitting, sitting
Ignore him. Ignore the room

We ask the subjects to ignore the man running the experiment. Sitting there in his jacket, in his tie,

trying to be objective, neutral, a man simply running an experiment, showing slides, a dog running from nothing, for no reason

Slide, Slide of, Slide of man, Slide of dog, Slide of, slide of house on...
Slide, Slide, Slide, Slide,

Slide, Slide of, Slide of dog,
Slide of house on fire
Ignore him. Ignore the room
Don't be troubled
Do not attempt to understand
You're paid to watch, identify the slide
This is simple
A child could see and name the object pictured

Slide, Slide of, Slide of house, Slide of house fire, house fire, fire

No. Not fire. Not fire at all. The sun. The sun reflected in the windows of a house. I was fooled at first. Not fire at all, the sun, glass, the window, a trick of light, the eye tricked into seeing fire; and yet, for a moment, the house was burning

Slide, Slide of. Slide of blue, Slide of blue bottle, blue bottle, bottle
How many are drinking?
It isn't important whether this is a celebration.
A wedding
Or wake
This is a blue bottle
Nothing more
Slide, Slide of, slide of hand, Slide of hand resting, hand resting, resting
Not a workingman's hand. Too smooth, manicured nails, a model, idealized, airbrushed. Nothing in this hand. This hand is not extended in greeting. This hand is not making a point. It's doing its best to relax. It doesn't intend me any harm. . Not in any need, this hand. Simply a hand, resting. Just a picture of a hand, a woman's hand, unhurried, poised, content, this hand.

3 Depending

Depending on what is imagined
Our prejudice is more or less useful
Depending on what is defended
Our defense is more or less defensible
Depending on what is desired
Our desire is more or less pardonable
Depending on what?

Is this picture a bride taking off her dress?

Depending on what is imagined
Our prejudice is more or less useful
Depending on what is defended
Our defense is more or less defensible
Depending on what is desired
Our desire is more or less pardonable
Depending on what is imagined
Our prejudice is more or less useful

4 She Walks as if...

The shape of her appears to change as if, like a cat preparing to sleep she coyly...

Her silence is like the silence of a wooden bow, brim full of pomegranates on a yellow table cloth to the right of a tarnished silver butter knife on a chipped white plate on which a partly eaten crust of bread...

The murmur of her against my skin from across the room softly bruises, softly bruises my skin from across the room...

Her averted eyes...

Her arms fall from her shoulders and her hands flow from her wrists and life is easy at her fingertips as she touches the pages of...

Her name is a custard in my mouth
Her voice is a light cotton accidentally brushing my thumb as I, as I...

5 Fog

It was on a Sunday
She was dressed in pure white
We were sitting in the park
It was on a Sunday
We were sitting on a bench
She was saying something
She was taking off her ring

I can see her lips moving
I can see her lips move
I can hear her voice, but her face is turned away, her face is turned away
I hear her say she's sorry
Then the words are just like broken glass
Words are spilling from her mouth like bits of broken glass

6 Stare

It was then, staring at the evidence, that Renard knew the truth, that one overwhelmingly clear moment, one minor tragedy, one sad but simple episode, that one moment of profound loneliness...

Stare into your hands for an hour
stare into your hands
then try to raise your eyes to the sky
stare at the clouds for a whole day
for a whole day then try to get up
try to stand up

sssssstare at the suns reflection in the window
stare at the sunlight, there in the window of the house
in the window the sun is something else,
something else: fire.
stare at the bottle on the side walk
then try to raise your head
lift up your head to watch her leaving, watch her leaving
lift your head up, lift your head up to watch her leaving
then stare,

stare,

stare

7 Addiction

One too many photographs
One too many slides
And your eyes fall out of focus

One too many numbered photographs
One too many recorded reactions
One more turn of the page
And you slide into addiction

One too many unchecked fantasies
One too many unchallenged assumptions
One too many unexamined beliefs
And you slide into addiction

One too many thoughtless repetitions
One too many slogans
One too many clichés
And you slide into addiction
Slide into addiction

One too many foolish acts of bravery, of bravery
And one too many retellings of heroic deeds
With one too many humble poses

And you slide into addiction
Slide into addiction

One too many over simplifications
One too many half truths
One too many white lies
One, two, three, four, five, six,
One, two, three, four, five
One, two, three, four, five
And you slide into addiction, slide into
You slide into addiction, addiction

8 Processional

Tell me what you see
Tell me what you see
Tell me what you see
Tell me what you see
A rock or dog or tree

Shadows on the wall
Shadows on the wall
Shadows on the wall
Shadows on the wall
It could be someone quite tall

If we could see clearly what the picture is
we might be happy or maybe not.

9 Running Dog 2

Slide, slide of, slide of dog, slide of dog running, dog running, running
Slide, slide of, slide of dog, slide of dog running, dog running, running

What the subject sees depends on what he wants to see
The subject looks but when the ph o-to-graph is finally clear
the subject sees what-ever world he wants to see
he makes the world he makes the world the world he wants a world where he is not a-lone
And she takes him, takes him by, takes him by the hand, by the hand, the hand and,
the hand and, the hand and, and

Slide, slide of, slide of dog slide of dog running dog running, running
Slide, slide of, slide of dog
Keep your eyes inside the frame
don't ask me what the dog is running from
or where the dog, the dog is running to
Slides of faces, slides of bottles, slides of birds, and slides of houses,
houses full of strangers
slides of ruins
slides of my life, slides of my life

10 Ghosts

Some things are better left unsaid
The living left to live
The dead, dead
No sense in clearing up the past
Leave the questions there unasked

The faces are all ghosts
They can't be touched or felt
In the light of day they change, they melt

All my ghosts are living
All my ghosts are living
All my ghosts are living
Nothing's real, but everything I love is living

Leave the ghosts
Leave the photos blurred
What you never heard her say
Is better left unheard
Leave the ghosts
Don't let them speak
Don't let them become clear
They only disappoint
They leave you wanting what you want to hear
They leave you wanting what you thought you had before
They leave you waiting there for more, much more

All my ghosts are living
All my ghosts are living
All my ghosts are living
Nothing's real, but everything I love is living

The photograph, the blur
Is measureless, her eyes can say
whatever eyes can say
There's softness in this place this galaxy
these far off stars this nebulous array

They leave you in the light of day
They leave you with the truth
and in that truth you grieve
Given half a chance I'll take the photograph that lies
I'll take the romance, the beauty
of her less than truthful eyes,
Where all my ghosts are still alive

All my ghosts are living
All my ghosts are living
All my ghosts are living
All my ghosts are living
All my ghosts are living

11 Lonely Motel

It's quiet here
This motel
Uncomplicated, this simple room
Controlled, a measurable peace

I love this coffee table
Artless and cheap
This lamp, this tawdry mirror here
This stain resistant rug:
Survivor of a thousand insults
Soiled shoes of benighted strangers
Each a mystery to all the others
A thousand strangers shared this bed

These towels washed and washed
This unremarkable TV,TV
This cable of innumerable ghosts
Kaballah of all idle faiths.

I love this place
This clean motel
Its towels
Its wrapped soaps
The room is scented pine
My work is spread out on the bed
One hundred simple photographs
Not one a memory
Not one remarkable
Not one a memory
Not one remarkable
And I sleep here like a baby
Like a baby here I sleep
And I sleep here like a baby
Like a baby here I sleep
And I sleep here like a baby
Like a baby here I sleep
And I sleep here like a baby
Like a baby here I sleep
"this work ... shows an extremely talented composer in high form ... Eighth blackbird quite simply rocks; it's one of the most adventurous groups around in its curatorial taste and presentation. Mackey plays electric guitar suavely and sounds exceptionally fluent, clean, precise, economical, never showing off, but impressive. (He also does a narrator-cameo relating the synopsis of a Twilight Zone episode that's hilariously chilling.) And Eckert of course continues to amaze. His voice seems only to get better; it's operatic in scope and strength, yet entirely naturalistic, and he has a killer falsetto. He's also the author of this libretto, which is simultaneously poignant, allusive, and focused, and a major factor in the work's success."
Robert Carl, Fanfare

"Eckert brings a wonderful tone to his character . . . One cannot help but be very impressed by the performance of the amazing contemporary music ensemble, eighth blackbird, as well. . . . As mentioned, the more of Steve Mackey's music I hear, the more I appreciate it. For those who have never heard his work before, I think that Lonely Hotel is a very rewarding place to start. Check in and stay awhile."
Daniel Coombs, Audiophile Audition

"Following performances elsewhere in the United States, the work [Slide] was re-fashioned into a concert version and taken into the recording studio in March last year by the ensemble's enterprising hometown label, Cedille Records. Lonely Motel: Music from Slide is the pulsing, powerful, prickly, provocative and often surprisingly poignant result."
Michael Quinn, The Classical Review
Click here to download the CD booklet.











Click the Cedille Player at the upper left to hear excerpts from the tracks highlighted in red below. These have been carefully chosen as representative of the recording program.

1 Slide of Dog (5:40)
2 Stare Prelude/Overture (3:16)
3 Depending (5:18)
4 She Walks as if... (6:53)
5 Fog (5:55)
6 Stare (6:03)
7 Addiction (3:50)
8 Processional (3:39)
9 Running Dog 2 (3:14)
10 Ghosts (4:57)
11 Lonely Motel (8:13)

Total Time: 57 minutes

Production Credits

Producer David Frost
Recording Engineers Tom Lazarus and Bill Maylone
Editing Engineer Steven Mackey and Brian Losch
Mixing Engineer Tom Lazarus
Mastering Engineer Joe Lambert
Recorded March 18-21, 2010 at Chicago Recording Company (Jon Zacks and Mat Lejeune, engineers)
Front Cover Design & Photography Rinde Eckert
Inside Booklet & Inlay Card Nancy Bieschke
Publisher 2009 Boosey & Hawkes