There's something eerie about a very large group of musicians getting
together and releasing records that transcend all of their previous
works by leaps and bounds. Michael Zapruder's Rain Of Frogs
is a Bay Area collective that creates music that is at once likeable
and thoughtful, based around the songwriting prowess of Michael
The man that brought you the Pandora/
Music Genome Project (www.pandora.com)
and the wonderfully off-center musical experiment of writing and producing
a song every week for a year called 52 Songs (www.52songs.org).
In Short, Zapruder borders on creative genius, and Rain Of Frogs only
stands to raise that genius to a near mythical level.
The songs on New Ways Of Letting Go are soft and serene, speaking
of landscapes of the world and landscapes of the heart and mind equally.
Sounding at times like George Harrison, during and after The
Beatles, and at others like a classically trained orchestra, ROF
is musically adept and conveys as much emotion with the nuances of
their playing as do the lyrics of Zapruder. "The Alchemist"
starts the album on a downbeat tempo, acting as an intro to the coming
goodness with its soft string arrangements and lilting acoustic guitar
and piano melodies
and it sounds a lot like The Beatles, too.
As the album progresses, "Shepherd's Purse" sounds more
like a Jules Shear composition that has been further fleshed
out, filled with chiming guitars and a laid-back groove that eases
the body into a blissful state of relaxation while the words trip
the mind through a vast wonderland of imagery. "Elm Yellows"
could be a track off of a Neko Case record, except for a vastly
different vocal phrasing (and voice, of course)
but the lyrical
style is very familiar and captivating. "Jet Black Birds"
introduces synthesizers into the mix, complementing the insistent
pull of the vocals nicely and creating a more ambitious track. By
the time the starkly haunting lullaby of "Phainopepla" arrives
to wind up the album, with the listener is relaxed and refreshed from
their delightful trip through the musical landscapes that ROF has
created, the violas softly fade into the smooth crash of a cymbal
that could signal the end of a magical day's adventures or the coming
of the next dawn.
Michael Zapruder's Rain Of Frogs has put together a modern masterpiece
of sound that draws heavily on various past sources while maintaining
its own unique voice. Scott Solter (of John Vanderslice
fame) mixed the record at Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio, working
his magic and balancing every sound perfectly, assembling an extremely
well-balanced and great sounding record. If this music is any indication
of what the future holds, the big boys of the industry would be well
advised to pay a little bit more attention to Zapruder and his musical
1. The Alchemist
2. Haymaker Market
3. Butterfield's And Baker's
4. Shepherd Purse
5. Red Violins
6. On The Arm Of A Burning City
7. Elm Yellows
8. Jet Black Birds
9. The Institute Is Burning
10. Far Rockaway
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