That isn’t the full album title; it’s just a fraction of its long and illustrious title. But if I were to list it in full, I would reach my word count target quickly, and I will need all the words I can fit into the full description of what is happening here. Believe me.
The album reminds me of a fantastic thought and music experiment I read about. A musician tied a piece of string to a violin and dragged it down a gravel path, and asked us to consider the music being generated. It was a regular instrument being wielded by a trained musician, so his argument went, how is it different from a Bach concerto or a lilting Debussy piano piece?
And A Sonic Grab Bag…begs the same sort of questions. This is, after all, a recognisable set of sounds, just put together in new, interesting, satirical and sometimes downright odd ways. It ranges from free-form jazz noodles to orchestral parodies, from recognisably conformist short bursts to sections which seem like an anagram of music itself. If you turn such creativity on its head, could it be termed decomposing? Or merely a spot of avant gardening.
You can tell from the titles that Gary Lloyd Noland likes wordplay…I have no idea what words such as Shenantics or Stupocalyptic mean, but I do like the sound of them. But the fun he has inventing compound words and imagined prose entirely matches the music he makes. In many ways, it is a new musical language, a strange one understood and appreciated only by a few, but a new language nonetheless.
Trying to capture an overall sonic style and put it into mere words is difficult; the music is too restless and adventurous for that, like trying to pin a musical tail on a sonic rabbit, a rabbit travelling at mach one…through different dimensions…oh, and it’s invisible. And keeps changing shape. One common factor is the ebb and flow of the piano, wandering as it does between calm and collected lulls and spiky crescendoes, sometimes floaty and ambient, just as often nervous and jittery. And on top of this, all manner of electronic quirks and quibbles seem to gyre and gimble, (see, he’s got me reaching for nonsense words now) dance and explode like a mad firework display.
I guess all music can, and indeed should, make us think. Some does so unintentionally, some through the use of poignant lyrics, some by making serious and deliberate musical statements. A Sonic Grab Bag goes even further. It makes us question the very nature of music, what it is and what it might be. It tests boundaries and even beliefs; it is brave and mad and full of humour and bravado. It might seem to some that the music found here is frivolous, that Noland doesn’t care and is just having fun with us. Yes, he is having fun, but I would say that only someone who truly cares about music could make something this interesting and exploratory.
Prepare to embark on a thrilling voyage into the realm of sonic eccentricity with Gary Lloyd Noland, a true avant-garde visionary who fearlessly shatters musical boundaries. His latest opus, “Gospel of Dysfunction,” is a mesmerizing collection of 12 compositions that invites listeners to embrace the unorthodox and liberate their minds from the shackles of musical convention. Noland’s artistic journey began amidst the vibrant chaos of People’s Park, a hotbed of social unrest adjacent to UC Berkeley. Raised in a crowded house, he absorbed the spirit of rebellion that emanated from the park’s storied past. However, it was during his formative years spent in Salzburg and Garmisch-Partenkirchen that Noland’s musical prowess truly blossomed, influenced by a diverse array of melodic cultures.
Guided by an insatiable hunger for knowledge, Noland sought instruction from a pantheon of acclaimed composers and musicians, steadily honing his craft. A Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley served as a springboard for his musical odyssey, leading him to the hallowed halls of the Boston Conservatory and eventually Harvard University, where he triumphantly emerged with both a Masters and a PhD in Music Composition.
Gary Lloyd Noland’s extensive discography is a testament to his tireless exploration of various musical forms. With audacity and boundless ambition, he has composed a vast array of works spanning piano, vocal, chamber, orchestral, experimental, and electronic genres. Additionally, he has delved into the realms of full-length plays in verse, chamber novels, and graphically notated scores, exhibiting an artistic spirit that knows no limits.
“Gospel of Dysfunction” is where Noland’s avant-garde sensibility intertwines with his experimental fervor, forging an enthralling union that sets him apart from the musical masses. Each composition on this extraordinary album carries its own captivating narrative, inviting listeners into an immersive journey of uncharted sonic dimensions, with features by pianists Paul Safar and Kaori Katayama Noland, as well as the soprano Nancy Wood.
Immerse yourself in the tempestuous embrace of “Flambivalence” (Op. 133, No. 1) and “Another Day, Another Pustule” (Op. 133, No. 2), where the clash of pianos, percussion, and strings conjures a maelstrom of emotion. Experience the disorienting beauty of “Funfare for Sanity” for Brass Quintet (Op. 129), a composition that challenges traditional notions of harmony and structure, leaving listeners in awe of its daring innovation.
With “With All Due Despect, Your Sir – Reverence…” (Op. 133, No. 3), Noland unleashes a torrential downpour of sound effects and cascading piano melodies, a chaotic yet mesmerizing symphony that defies expectations. “A Luminous Smudge of Sorabji Fudge” (Op. 133, No. 4) captivates with its enigmatic piano performance, luring listeners into a kaleidoscope of harmonies that transcend the ordinary.
Enter a world of peculiar wonders with “Li’l Peewee Poindexter Mislays His Encephalophagus at Sodom & Scaly’s Nine-Ring Circus of Confusiasm,” a composition that unravels like a surreal dream, challenging listeners to embrace the unexpected. Meanwhile, “Musical Portrait of English Writer Will Self” (Op. 117, No. 6) offers a captivating homage to literature through a sonic tapestry that dances with raw emotion.
Witness the unraveling of traditional structures with “Epicedium for Piano” (Op. 58), where Noland’s audacious spirit pushes the boundaries of the piano’s capabilities, defying conventional techniques while still embracing them. In a glorious display of nuanced virtuosity, he weaves a tapestry that transports listener into his personal realm.
From the depths of imagination emerges “Claptrapdash” from Royal Oilworks Music” (Op. 80, No. 13), a composition that defies categorization. Brass, percussion, and strings meld together in a magnificent crescendo, captivating the senses with a symphony of chaos and order. Noland fearlessly embraces dissonance, infusing it with a rhythmic intensity and skittering sound effects that electrifies the air.
Soprano Nancy Wood becomes an ethereal messenger in “I Dare Not Ask a Kiss” (Op. 7), her voice intertwining with the piano in a delicate dance of longing and restraint. Noland’s composition transcends the boundaries of language, conveying emotions that words alone cannot express. It is a testament to his ability to evoke profound depths of feeling through the marriage of voice and keys.
As the album reaches its apex with “Gospel of Dysfunction from Musical Junk Sculptures” (Op. 102, No. 10), Noland’s visionary genius shines brightly, illuminating a path towards sonic enlightenment. With a blend of electronic elements, evocative melodies, and daring juxtapositions, he weaves a tale of disarray and revelation, inviting listeners to embrace the chaos and find meaning within.
The album’s climax arrives with “Entropic Domain of Apathizing Barnacles and Their Ideological Brethren” (Op. 133, No. 6). In this monumental composition, Noland unchains himself from all conventions, leading the listener through a labyrinth of sonic exploration. The cacophony of sounds and textures coalesce into a grand symphony of rebellion, a declaration of liberation from the chains that bind us to the ordinary.
What sets Gary Lloyd Noland apart is not only his fearless exploration of avant-garde territory but also his ability to infuse his compositions with an undeniable sense of enjoyment. As pianos meld seamlessly with brass, percussion, strings, and sound effects, a mesmerizing fusion unfolds. It is a testament to Noland’s mastery that the resulting blend is both strikingly enjoyable and uncannily surprising, like stumbling upon a hidden treasure in a sonic labyrinth.
Gary Lloyd Noland is not merely a composer; he is an artistic alchemist, transforming discord into harmony, chaos into beauty. With “Gospel of Dysfunction,” he beckons us to break free from the constraints of tradition and embrace the boundless possibilities that lie beyond.
So cast away your conventions, shed the limitations of your musical mindset, and embark on a transformative journey through the “Gospel of Dysfunction.” Let the music of Gary Lloyd Noland wash over you, inviting you to explore the uncharted depths of sonic innovation. Open your ears, open your mind, and surrender to the symphony of nuance, chaos and brilliance that awaits.
Soundcloud profile: https://soundcloud.com/gary-noland
Bandcamp merch page:
Books (printed collections of music and musico-literary works) are available for purchase at the following links:
TAGS: AVANT-GARDEEXPERIMENTALGARY LLOYD NOLANDGOSPEL OF DYSFUNCTIONKAORI KATAYAMA NOLANDNANCY WOODNEO-CLASSICALPAUL SAFARhttps://independentmusicnews24.com/releases/gary-lloyd-noland-gospel-of-dysfunction-illuminating-a-path-towards-sonic-enlightenment
A spotlight on independent music.
Gary Lloyd Noland has announced a new album: ENNUI SPREE
April 2023 - Gary Lloyd Noland is a forward-thinking music composer and artist focusing on creating music that falls outside the usual confines of genre limitations and songwriting. The artist’s most recent studio album, ENNUI SPREE, is a perfect example of how Gary Lloyd Noland can think outside the lines and create innovative yet relatable music. ENNUI SPREE features 11 songs that blur the lines between classical music, avant-garde experimentalism, and much more. The record has a romantic twist, highlighting Gary Lloyd Noland’s intuitiveness as a music creator. Everything about this album is unlike anything else out there. Not only is Gary Lloyd Noland inspired by timeless musicians such as Mozart or Strauss, but also contemporary composers such as Nino Rota, to mention a few. The release features many amazing musicians, including The Pimpleton Procrasturbation Ensemble, and pianists Myrna Setiawan and Ethan Dunne. Of the eleven songs featured, many have interesting and gripping titles, such as “A STERN PRUSSIAN HEAD-GOVERNESS FOLLOWS TO A T THE RIGOROUS CODES OF PRACTICE LAID OUT IN OBSOLESCENT VICTORIAN-ERA TOILET-TRAINING MANUALS FOR MICRO-REGULATING THE EXCREMENTAL EXCRETIONS OF HER YOUNG CHARGES, VIZ. THE SONS & DAUGHTER OF PROSPERITY-GOSPEL-BANGING FUNDAMENTALISTS AND THEIR BELARUSIAN MAIL-ORDER BRIDES” as well as “A TOP-SECRET INSIDE LOOK AT THE SURREPTITIOUS INTELLIGENCE-GATHERING SURVEILLANCES OF TRUST-FUNDED IN-CROWD WANNABES BY MARGINMAN AND HIS BOX-DWELLING BROHORTS.”
The unusually long song titles add to the imaginative and vibrant creative concept behind this release and contribute to taking the listener somewhere else. The sound of the piano is lush, smooth, and dynamic, as there is a natural, roomy tone pervading the entire release (especially the smooth and organic sound of the piano). In addition to the “human” and lively performance value, this release is also quite distinctive because of the sheer quality of the production. The balanced and detail-oriented mix makes for a lively, edgy, and stark sonic approach. In other words, there are many subtle nuances in the tracks, which add to the richness of the work in terms of sounds. The frequency spectrum of the mix is also very balanced, with tight yet deep lows that work wonders with the smooth top end, which adds a sense of clarity to the music. The creative range is astonishingly diverse. The opening track, “FUNERAL WALTZ, Op. 91,” has a compositional structure reminiscent of turn-of-the-century composers with its elegant, understated style. However, the second track, A TOP-SECRET INSIDE LOOK AT THE SURREPTITIOUS INTELLIGENCE-GATHERING SURVEILLANCES OF TRUST-FUNDED IN-CROWD WANNABES BY MARGINMAN AND HIS BOX-DWELLING BROHORTS,” dives deep into unexplored musical territory.
The song combines organic orchestral sounds, electronic glitches, and sound effects. This is a highly cinematic track, which feels like a journey through sound. The song “SWAGGERING SOFTIES” is another highlight in terms of pushing musical creativity to the limit and exploring sound not only as a way to create melodies but also as a way to transport the audience and explore a more tactile quality of music creation tools, such as instruments, effects, and beyond. In other words, Gary Lloyd Noland’s compositions are concerned with melody and compositional tropes and the pure timbre and formant of sounds. The song KITSCH PATCH is a perfect example of how the world of melody and the world of limitless experimentation can collide, creating something that’s unpredictably beautiful in the process.
These are only some highlights, as the album deserves a proper exploration from top to bottom. It’s not the kind of music you can just put in the background for the experience to be meaningful: this is a record that will reward the listener willing to pay more attention to it and focus on the track on a deeper level.
Find out more about Gary Lloyd Noland, and do not miss out on ENNUI SPREE, currently available on CD, via Soundcloud, and other digital streaming services.
Note: the enclosed artist portrait was illustrated by by Marco Aidala.
Posted on: 12 April 2023
Gary Lloyd Noland – THERE’S NO THERE WHERE? – Album Review
There ain’t no forgetting an artist like Gary Lloyd Noland. Heck, I still haven’t forgotten the other players this one-man ensemble plays with, which includes Orlan Doy Glandly, Lon Gaylord Dylan, Arnold Day Longly, Darnold Olly Yang, and of course, the inimitable Dolly Gray Landon. They’re all here back in action to assist Gary in whatever role they play…bangin’ on stuff & makin’ them weird noises in the back of his mind & whatnot…if you wanna learn more about them and the who’s who of who is in The Pimpleton Procrasturbation Ensemble, you should probably have a read on the review I wrote on Gary’s music last year. Suffice it to say, it does not get much more proudly strange than an artist like Noland is.
Having said that, this dude is definitely gonna have to admit he’s simply just addicted to noise one day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll sit here and listen to just about anything, but that might say a bit more about me than it might about Noland…or at least vouch for what we have in common. As things rattle and chirp and beep and whirl and ratatattat into place with “INFERNAL BILATERAL DOUBLE-DIGIT FIDGETS” – you’ll get a great idea of what you’re in-store for with the music Gary’s making. Somewhere between the realms of where Classical meets Experimental on the outer edges of the fringe – “INFERNAL BILATERAL DOUBLE-DIGIT FIDGETS” is about as much proof as you’ll need to know he’s an audiophile. There’s a song in the background somewhere, being played skillfully on the piano – but that is hardly the main feature here, nor is it intended to be; Gary’s much more enamored with his whiddly-beeps, clicks, wind-up clocks, goops and boops, than he is with the idea of making anything straightforward for ya.
And so, as “HARMONIOUS WEDLOCK” begins, it becomes instantly clear that if you did not enjoy the opening track, you should probably bail out now, because it ain’t gonna get any more normal, you dig? It’s not JUST noise though, to be crystal clear – this is painstakingly assembled stuff, where each and every sound you experience really does have a chance to shine in the mix, and actually reach your ears. “HARMONIOUS WEDLOCK,” at its robust nine-plus minutes in length, is obviously not gonna be the song you put on to sing along with on your way to work – but if you like to imbibe on a spirit or two, smoketh them fatties or otherwise, believe me – you’ll never want to stop listening to songs like “HARMONIOUS WEDLOCK,” or indeed this album at-large. The average everyday listeners out there stands absolutely zero chance of finding their way into a record like this, but believe me when I tell ya, that ain’t why Gary is doing what he does. He ain’t here to find a way to please the masses – he actually exists to prove the theorem that sound is an art form, that it’s ALIVE, and that it can do so much more than we realize. So you get gigantic songs like “HARMONIOUS WEDLOCK” that don’t at all try to hide the oddities they are. I’m here for it y’all. I ain’t gonna be the guy to tell you that every day is going to be a Gary Lloyd Noland day, but I am certainly tellin’ ya that I’ve got time, love, and respect for an artist as zany as this dude is.
As the choir-like beginning of “SLAPSTICK REQUIEM” starts, you can tell that Noland has decided to finally buckle-down and create something focused, for the non-A.D.D. crowd. Something you could put on in the background and write your next thesis to. Something that you’d play in a bank, or a library, or arrange to keep playing in your tomb for the next century if you have the money, and a hefty supply of batteries. Alright – I am of course, lying to you right here out in the open. Not about the sound, but about the strength of either Duracell or Energizer products…they are not equipped to be the solution for your tomb-like needs, and I apologize for misleading you. Anyhow. “SLAPSTICK REQUIEM” is a song! I do not know that the average everyday listener would understand that “INFERNAL BILATERAL DOUBLE-DIGIT FIDGETS” has officially ended, or that we’ve squeezed in the nine-plus minutes of “HARMONIOUS WEDLOCK” as well…I assume they probably think they’re listening to one BIG OL’ SONG (ALL CAPS) and they’re somewhat kinda not really all that wrong about that (maybe). Ahhh yes – I do enjoy artists like Mr. Noland that embrace creative freedom and really take it for a ride like they’re Hunter S. Thompson in a company provided vehicle aiming at seeing how many curbs they can jump in a single trip to the supermarket and back. You’ll hear everything from nature noises to synthetic sounds along the way through “SLAPSTICK REQUIEM” – in that sense, is it not a completely accurate sonic metaphor for LIFE?
“Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” is a song with a title that practically writes this review for me, so of course I love it! Anytime I can put my feet up over here, relax, and have a review do the work without ME doing the work, I am 100% in favor of it – so bring on “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” I say! It’s an exquisitely complex piano piece that’s just over two-minutes in length, but “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” is a genuine joy to listen to. To be honest, “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” is actually that much closer to a typical song than you’d ever expect from Gary’s catalog, but don’t go thinking that makes “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” any less strange. Strangely beautiful perhaps, but “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” is strange all the same. You know what they say, songs like “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” are gonna do what songs like “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” do, because that’s how songs like “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” genuinely work. Everyone out there still with me? Absolutely fantastic!
BACK TO THE LAND OF SONGS IN ALL-CAPS, WE CRUISE RIGHT INTO “NEW YEAR’S TREPIDATION,” AND BACK INTO GARY’S PENCHANT FOR THE BIZARRE. AS I TOLD YOU LONG AGO, I’M FREAKIN’ here for it FOLKS – I COULD SIT AND LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM FOR HOURS ON END. IT’S PROBABLY A GOOD TIME FOR ME TO REVEAL TO YOU THAT I’VE BEEN CHAINED TO A RADIATOR IN SOME RANDOM DUDE’S BASEMENT FOR THE PAST DECADE AND HAVE LITERALLY NO CHOICE THAN TO LISTEN TO WHATEVER IS PUT ON FOR ME, BUT I STILL WOULDN’T LIE TO YOU ABOUT WHAT I HEAR. send help. “NEW YEAR’S TREPIDATION” HAS ME SWIMMING WITH THE POSSIBILITY & HOPE THAT A LITTLE (police, really, please) SUNSHINE WILL COME THROUGH THE TINY WINDOW DOWN HERE TODAY AND THAT MAYBE I’LL GET SOME FRESH AIR AT LONG LAST. “NEW YEAR’S TREPIDATION” IS THE SONG THAT MAKES ME DREAM ABOUT THE POTENTIAL OF
freedom REJOINING THE VALLEY OF MALLS WE’VE CREATED HERE ON EARTH.
“ANDROID ECDYSIAST RUBADUB” is next. FUN FACT y’all – ECDYSIAST does not get tripped up by the ol’ spell-check system here in Microsoft Paradise…so that must indeed, mean that it’s a certifiable WORD of some kind. So lemme check that out while Gary’s busy breaking windows in the background, adding them BEATS into the mix for you while you listen YO, and busting up the new-millennium grooves for the millennium to come after the next one. Let’s see, let’s see…an ‘ECDYSIAST’ is a…OH! Well…that’s not G-rated now is it? Wait! Yes it is – Gary’s name starts with a G, so it must be G-rated after all. As it turns out, in the world according to Google, an ‘ECDYSIAST’ is a “striptease performer” – which explains how I got naked I suppose, loosely. I might have STARTED writing this review naked but that is between me and GOD folks, and I’ll thank you kindly for minding your own damn business. Suffice it to say, RUBADUBDUB, three ANDROIDS in a tub, still do not make up for one awesome ECDYSIAST folks, sorry.
“WHIPPING THE NIGHT ORGASTIC” is a beautiful play on “TRIPPING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC” – and I might just have to adopt this new phrasing. It should be pointed out, dear readers, dear friends…that no one should mistake Gary’s musical madness for whimsical weakness – this dude is probably smarter than you, me, and everyone you love combined. You don’t end up turning this hard to the left when you could easily go right and make your millions – you do it on purpose, with intent, armed with passion – and that’s actually the facts, Jack. If you are too NORMAL, you will FAIL at listening to the music of Gary Lloyd Noland, and may as well be flogged with various trash newspapers in a public square in full view. If you think you are among the CHOSEN FEW that will recognize such awesomeness as “WHIPPING THE NIGHT ORGASTIC” than I do indeed wish you the best of luck in your endeavor to listen, as I prepare the rolling of a Star Magazine to slap that ass of yours with the face of a naughty celebrity like you deserve. You might not hear anything at all if you put this album on and don’t have the capacity for it. Instead of Gary’s crooning style of smooth R&B, you might actually hear a bunch of crazy noises that don’t seem to make any logical sense instead – and how weird would that be, right? Go on and take the Pepsi challenge for yourself…put this on and see what you hear! Do you hear the single-worthy sound of America’s next top Pop star – or do you hear a whole bunch of clicks, beeps, whirs, and gamoonadorfs? I’m among the most savvy of listeners dear readers, dear friends – and even I hear the gamoonadorfs.
I don’t know that Gary wrote “TECH WALTZ” for the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, but I don’t know that he didn’t either – so you can quote me on that if you like. At this point in the record, I think it’s crucial to point out the fact that he’s warped my own brain beyond repair, and that I might not actually be able to listen to anything ‘normal’ ever again without just laughing like I’m Renfield looking up at the moon through the aforementioned tiny crack of this small basement window. I do however, like to ponder the idea of my peers writing about this record…I bet they be all like, YO THIS IS LIT FAM! I bet they be like, THIS IS THAT ALBUM Y’ALL! I bet they be like, SEE YOU AT THE GRAMMYS DAWG! And I agree with them all for once. Noland is a cut above the rest of us average humans, and work as profoundly moving as THERE’S NO THERE WHERE? completely proves it. Look at it this way – Noland makes the music, which is entertainment for us – but how we end up responding to it, is actually the entertainment for HIM (how META!). Do you realize which side of the glass that you’re on folks? HE IS STUDYING US. HE IS LEARNING. HE IS OMNIPOTENT. HE CANNOT BE STOPPED. AND WE SHOULD BE CONCERNED. “TECH WALTZ” is THE song that will provoke your machines to dance, and help you to understand that resistance is futile and that we actually gave into that fact many, many moons ago y’all.
Much like how “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” wrote itself a whole paragraph of this review earlier on without any effort whatsoever from yours truly here, “CANDYFLOSS FOR TINSEL DESPOTS: PEACE, LOVE, JOY, AND ALL THAT JAZZ” practically works in the exact same way, don’t you think? I find many similarities between “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” and how “CANDYFLOSS FOR TINSEL DESPOTS: PEACE, LOVE, JOY, AND ALL THAT JAZZ” came out here in this review when it comes to the substance of what I had to say about’em. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that, both “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” AND “CANDYFLOSS FOR TINSEL DESPOTS: PEACE, LOVE, JOY, AND ALL THAT JAZZ” are both featured on this album in the set-list of songs, and have a really hard time disputing that. I could argue the differences between “Pianist Myrna Setiawan performs Etude, Op. 1, No. 10 by Gary Lloyd Noland” and “CANDYFLOSS FOR TINSEL DESPOTS: PEACE, LOVE, JOY, AND ALL THAT JAZZ” – but I don’t think that you’d hear me out, because you’re intensely judgmental (and you know it, clap your hands) – so it’s probably best that I move on to the next song & acknowledge that art inspires art.
FINALLY, we have reached the true centerpiece of the record, it’s titular track – “THERE’S NO THERE WHERE?” – the moment you’ve essentially been waiting for, am I right? If nothing else, beyond his incredible ability to craft compelling compositions unlike ANY OTHER – Gary is also a master of the art of the reveal…so forgive him if it felt like you’ve had to travel through space and time to reach this point on the record, that was all part of the plan from the beginning folks. To be real with ya, for a brief moment well-hidden within this massively extensive meandering I somehow call a ‘review’ on his work – I honestly do think the guy’s probably an undeniable genius or at the very least, a brilliant sociologist. Does getting to this title-track feel like you’ve reached the series finale of Lost, and like you get all the answers to the questions that you’ve been looking for? It probably DOES! No one REALLY got all the answers to everything that happened on Lost in the first place, so if you agreed with that statement, you’re not an intellectual, you’re simply insincere. Gary gets you both coming and going throughout the winding composition that is “THERE’S NO THERE WHERE? and continually has an ironclad grip on making it feel like down is up, up is down, and that the walls are closing in on you to squeeze you like a tomater.
“FUGHETTA for piano, Op. 1, No. 14 (1983)” is actually a normal, piano-based tune. I realize that you have no actual reason to believe me about that, or Gary for that matter at this point in the record, but I have a feeling that’s probably why he did it. Committing to the intense demands of NOT GETTING WEIRD WITH IT for a whole minute & nineteen seconds, which is a gratuitous assessment considering the silence found at the end of this track, he plays “FUGHETTA for piano, Op. 1, No. 14 (1983)” in a straightforward manner, to remind us all that somewhere underneath this madness, he is still human.
“MÉLANCOLIE FLEGMATIQUE” is the kind of song that makes a reviewer go searching online for what makes the little hat appear on a capital E. Rumor has it that it’s ALT 144, or even ALT 0201 – but DO NOT fall for such nonsensory – these are the lies of BIG CAPITAL, simply trying to suck us all in once again. I for one, am done with it – I will not be duped anymore – I’M MY OWN MAN AND I DON’T NEED THEIR ‘HELP’ – so what you see onscreen is a tiny little line that I’ve actually drawn in over the capital E personally. I was originally going to sell it as an NFT to make even more money off this review and sucking the life out of the independent community as I get RICH and live off the fat of the land, but then I decided to create an entirely NEW category of digital art, called NF-TÉÉs, which you can now purchase for the low-low price of your middle child. I ain’t looking for no firstborn stuff, that’s unreasonable and I am nothing if not a completely benevolent king. “MÉLANCOLIE FLEGMATIQUE” is more of that beautiful noise and crazy compositional style you know and love, as featured on the compilation of Now That’s What I Call Absolutely F**CKING CRAZY Volume 117, released by MTV back in the late 1890s when that station was still at their peak relevance, with a video that appeared between classic Jersey Shore reruns.
As we come to the finale of the record with “Pianist Kaori Katayama Noland performs TABLOID, Op. 29, No. 2” it has become crystal clear that my brain has melted beyond function or repair, and that I wrote this entire review with the assistance of good ol’ AI and Chat GPT, like any serious writer would do. Gary – you are a musical madman my friend – and it has been nothing but a sincere pleasure to listen to such an album like this that purports to throw off the entire audience that would listen to it, truly. No joke folks – I’ve enjoyed my time here! Probably even more-so than listening to YOUR latest record, so take THAT! Especially if your band IS Take That – then seriously TAKE THAT, and twice! “Pianist Kaori Katayama Noland performs TABLOID, Op. 29, No. 2” is actually freakin’ great…and a reminder that we’d all be listening to Noland’s music even IF he ever made the choice to play it all for ya straightforwardly one day, which I can practically assure you, he will not. Think of it this way folks – it might be bizarre, odd, strange, wild, and crazy as crazy can be – but there IS serious identity in what he creates both in its sound and compositional aspects. I remembered Gary Lloyd Noland before, and I’ll remember him long after this ‘review’ is published too…and in that respect, you gotta admire what he accomplishes with his art. Far too many people drown in the sea of sameness y’all…whereas Gary floats above it all by at least three inches, like a freakin’ god amongst mere mortals – true story.
Find out more about Gary Lloyd Noland at his official website: https://garynolandcomposer.com
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Apr 10 Written By Which Coast
Gary Lloyd Noland is an American composer who was born in Seattle in 1957. Living for a time in Germany, with stops in the home towns of both Mozart and Richard Strauss, Noland absorbed a great deal of music influence, enhanced further by his musical studies at UC Berkeley where he earned his Bachelor’s degree and Harvard where he earned a Masters and PhD in Music Composition. Today we are excited to share our thoughts on Gary Lloyd Noland’s new CD-album, CONSTELLATION OF NERVOUS SPASMS, performed by The Pimpleton Procrasturbation Ensemble!
CONSTELLATION OF NERVOUS SPASMS begins with the bizarre “CRYBABY CRUSHERS” which seems to draw inspiration from the concept of radio/television shifters with its multiple spliced-in vocal performances and broken piano as a lead. I admire the spasmatic nature of this piece - it is quite perfect for an album with a title like this. “BYGONE FANCIES (for piano)” follows and true to its name, it is a nostalgic piece that plays like a pleasant stroll down memory lane. As one of the more “normal” sounding pieces on the album, though, the more I listen to it, the more I feel like it is hiding something within its normalcy. “STURM UND DRANGULAR POINTS OF DISSENT” returns to the more bizarre, landing with an out of this world kind of soundscape, in a Twilight Zone kind of sense, to the point where I would not have been surprised to hear Rod Serling’s voice sampled here.
“THE DEBONERIZATION OF AMERICA” is the fourth track from CONSTELLATION OF NERVOUS SPASMS and I found the song to be jazzy in its bizarreness. In addition to some jazz overtones, some synths come into play - along with some very well-chosen sound effects, including a loud splash toward the end of the piece. “VARIATION ON AN INVISIBLE THEME for piano, No. 1” is next and it returns to a more normal sound once again, though I found this well-crafted song to feel a bit unsettling overall. Its piano-driven complexities are definitely worth a spin both as a part of the album and by itself. “COCKROACH CORONATION SLOG” follows and it sounds like a mockery, or parody of the kind of fanfare around a ruler’s coronation. I found it easy to catch on to the farcical nature of this piece and I think this piece provides some excellent contemporary commentary.
The title track, “CONSTELLATION OF NERVOUS SPASMS” is the seventh song from the album and it stands as a well-woven tapestry of strangeness that encompasses some of the overall sounds we have heard so far; again, there are some jazz motifs baked in, as well as some more samples that sounded space-themed to me, making it quite fun. “VARIATION ON AN INVISIBLE THEME for piano, No. 2” is eighth and it is another take on the theme from earlier, though this variation sounds more calculated and introspective than the first one as it feels like it builds on its predecessor. “THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE VORTEX TERRESTRIAL ANTHEM” is up next and I absolutely love the way that Noland uses the percussion in this song as an agent of chaos. I found myself imagining all of the sound samples included in this one to encompass the titular Great Pacific Garbage patch and that I, as the listener, am gradually taking all of these sounds all in while I sit on that island of junk.
“VARIATION ON AN INVISIBLE THEME for piano, No. 3” is the tenth song from the album and, to me, it has the most tragic feel of the three variations on the Invisible Theme. I gathered feelings of loss and confusion among its frantic overall feeling and I thoroughly enjoy how much emotion is shared within. By far the longest track at sixteen minutes and thirty-three seconds is “DIE FLEDERMAUS PSYCHO FLIP”. The absolutely frantic and spasming piano in this song and the inter-spliced carnival sounds make it sound like someone really at the end of their rope, entering psychosis of sorts and I found the song to be deeply intriguing within its madness. The penultimate track from the album is “ANGELIC EFFLUVIATIONS” and, for me, it felt like the kind of experience that happens at the end of your life; the piano track has that kind of foreboding feel to it while the samples have a darkness that matches that kind of feeling. Perhaps the intent here is that the titular angels have arrived to escort you to the next life. As a small bonus, closing out the album is Noland’s 1994 performance of “THE BROOM BRIGADE for piano, Op. 25”, a short but peppy way to end out a fascinating album.
CONSTELLATION OF NERVOUS SPASMS is the most bizarre album I have heard in a long time - and I mean that in the best way possible. Gary Lloyd Noland presents an engaging but challenging body of work that I respect immensely and that I feel like I got a lot out of. I will admit, I am not sure I always understood the artist’s overall vision for portions of this album but, even at the points I found to be a bit confusing, I still found it fascinating to sit back and admire the one of a kind show I was listening to. I acknowledge this work will not speak to everyone but I still think that everyone should at least give it a chance because there is a lot to find within the quite literal nervous spasms featured within this album.
One big takeaway from this album is that I want to hear more from Gary Lloyd Noland; is his work all this bizarre? Does it go deeper than this? Additionally, I will admit, I have withheld a little information about The Pimpleton Procrasturbation Ensemble throughout this article: it is actually Gary Lloyd Noland’s one-man band where he performs under five anagrammatic names! You can learn more about Gary Lloyd Noland through his website and find more of his music through SoundCloud and YouTube. Noland is also an accomplished author and you can find links to his books beneath the player for CONSTELLATION OF NERVOUS SPASMS embedded below!
Gary Lloyd Noland’s books:
Gary Noland’s latest CD, “Quotidian Diversions from the Moment of Reckoning,” offers an unrelenting array of impish, experimental, random-like sounds – as if lost in a funhouse. Over the 70-minute span of this recording, you’ll hear an occasional sprinkling of piano or organ-synthesizer and a lot of unusual percussive instruments that are usually considered a novelty, like the flexatone and sirens, to create springing, whirling, popping, slamming, crunching, whistling, and a myriad of other sounds, including the gasp of human voices here and there.
Noland and his five anagrammatic alter egos (e.g., Darnold Olly Yang, DollyGray Landon, and Orland Doy Glandly) command a dizzy platter of humorously named instruments, such as the pandahormonium, the double-crossilators, underarmonica, stench horn, smackbutt, nose fiddle, and killjoy buzzer. The titles of each piece are also witty, oddball, concoctions, such as Turpentine Marzipan, Aristobombastic Little Beasties Watchdogging Their Stanky, Piffulous Little Fiefdoms, and Distemperaneous Genericana.
So, if you are looking for an album of disconcertingly relaxing sounds “Quotidian Diversions from the Moment of Reckoning” might be what you are looking for. Then again, it might not.
by Staff August 27, 2022
Gary Lloyd Noland grew up in a crowded house on a plot of land south of UC Berkeley known as People’s Park. He lived in Salzburg & Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where he absorbed many musical influences. He earned his Bachelor’s in music from UC Berkeley in 1979, continued studies at the Boston Conservatory, and transferred to Harvard University, where he added to his credits a Masters and a PhD in Music Composition in 1989. Gary Lloyd Noland is also known as the “Pimpleton Procrasturbation Ensemble” (which consists of composer Gary Lloyd Noland and his five anagrammatic alter egos: Orlan Doy Glandly, Darnold Olly Yang, Lon Gaylord Dylan, Dolly Gray Landon, and Arnold Day Longly).
Gary Lloyd Noland has released hundreds of works, which include piano, vocal, chamber, orchestral, experimental, and electronic pieces, as well as full-length plays in verse, chamber novels, and other text pieces, including graphically notated scores. His latest endeavor, still to be officially released, is the album “Inadverting Voyeurisms”. The recording is a bold mix of classic chamber music and avant-garde experimentalism, as Noland zigzags across contrasting sonic territories in search of his muse.
Pianos blend with brass, percussion and sound effects in a synthesis that is strikingly enjoyable and uncannily disorientating at the same time. For a musician who can rightfully be pegged as an innovator, Gary Lloyd Noland cultivates a consistent signature sound on “Inadverting Voyeurisms”. Melodies shine with whimsy and echoing urgency. Percussion hits, bounce, accelerate, and explode. Rhythms arrive and disappear in an unruly fashion, as harmonies oppose flourishes of dissonance.
The arrangements in these songs, build then fall apart, revealing themselves as something much more complex and more challenging than the work of a masterfully trained musician, simply easing comfortably into his oeuvre. Gary Lloyd Noland delights in pushing the limits of his craft, as well as the perceived comprehension of the listener. From the opening track, “FATA MORGANA for piano (for Ernesto Ferreri) Op. 131, No. 1” to the final closing cut, “DEATH STINKS (Op. 131, No. 10)”, Noland takes his audience on a journey to the most unfamiliar places.
What you’ll find on this journey is often exhilarating, alive with the joy of improvisation, curiosity and exploration. “Inadverting Voyeurisms” is a substantial work, especially created for forward thinkers, where Gary Lloyd Noland always does the unexpected. From the beautiful inspired piano motifs of “THE NEIGHBORS SEEM NICE (Op. 131, No. 2)”, to the twisting brass interludes on “ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS (Op. 131, No. 4)”, and the dynamic sonic effects on “DANCE OF THE DEATH LOVERS (Op. 131, No. 7)”, there is plenty to unravel on this album.
Each minute of every song, on “Inadverting Voyeurisms”, brings a new, innovative interjection of pianos and other variable sounds. Gary Lloyd Noland’s level of creativity is impressive, as he continues to find new and inventive ways to use it in a gloriously vivid recording that marks yet another eloquent chapter in his rich discography. To put this album into genre classification would be futile as it skips, skitters and lingers over multiple categories. CDs of his compositions are available from North Pacific Music and his own label, 7th Species.
Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/3Au3NwT
Amazon Books: https://amzn.to/3Tjc8fn
Bandcamp merch: https://garylloydnoland.bandcamp.com/
"WE CAN SEE YOU BUT YOU CAN'T SEE US, NOR CAN YOU HEAR OUR LAUGHTER" Projected release date: September 15th, 2022
The PIMPLETON PROCRASTURBATION ENSEMBLE performs 17 MUSICOSYNCRATIC QUIRKS, CROTCHETS, MAGGOTS & MOOD SLIDES from HERR DOKTOR SQUIRCLE'S INEXTRICABLE "NEW PERPLEXITY" Op. 127 by GARY LLOYD NOLAND
by Betsy MacDonald
I listened to Gary Lloyd Noland’s 17 MUSICOSYNCRATIC QUIRKS, CROTCHETS, MAGGOTS & MOOD SLIDES from HERR DOKTOR SQUIRCLE'S INEXTRICABLE "NEW PERPLEXITY" Op. 127 on a Friday night, whilst beheading fake flowers for an art project. As I snipped and popped the floral heads from their plastic stems, oft coinciding with a musical “boioioing,” there was a natural synergy that gave rise to ponderings of reality, (un)conventionality and irreverence.
At a glance, the work of this contemporary classical artist is a curiosity – his choice of song titles, album artwork, musical arrangement and instrument names might evoke words like eccentric and weird. The would-be listener would not be wrong, especially after reading the list of alter egos and instrument names on the CD’s back cover. (For the benefit of Dr. Seuss lovers, they’re listed at the end of this review.)
But there’s more going on here with the man who brought us FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT, three volumes of piano and chamber works, and a smorgasbord of delicacies and oddities on SoundCloud and YouTube. If you make it past the entry gate of Noland’s sensory carnival, you’ll find yourself in for a rather delightful adventure.
The opening track, “ABSINTHIAN PERFUMIGRATIONS for piano”, presents a lush garden of sound, where one is coaxed to abandon their good sense to the allure of hedonism. For the emotionally untethered, there are far worse places to get lost.
Properly disarmed, we proceed to KAKADEMISCHES DIORAMA where we enter a provocative, arrhythmic soundscape. The comfortable listener begins their descent down the rabbit hole, surrounded by a wacky cacophony that invites existential wonder.
Here we discover the audacity of Noland’s artistry – he challenges the musical establishment with a brazen “why not?” and presents us with a musical dialectic of sorts, where atonal and avant-garde are counterposed with tonality, harmony and conventional beauty. Drawing influence from neo-romanticist and experimental traditions, he is neither beholden to lineage nor indifferent to it. He is, rather, a multi-linguist whose fluency is apparent as he moves playfully across boundaries, a time-and-space traveller whose allegiance, if any, is to the journey itself.
And this album truly is a magical mystery tour. Mystical, but at times tragically real, like the 15-minute “TEEMING IMPERMAFROST” which the artist describes as “a colorful musical visualization of all the deadly viruses, poisonous bacteria, toxic gasses, and dangerous vermin that are being resuscitated by the progressive melting of our planet’s polar ice caps.” Disturbing yet ethereal, the piece is a reminder of the ugliness and ultimate futility of our existence.
Noland is, of course, not afraid of ugliness, nor is he a victim of taking himself too seriously. We see this in song descriptions such as “RAPTUROUS HARRUMPHS are synonymous with snoot farts.”
Again, the casual onlooker might not see past his sense of humour to appreciate the underlying humanity of Noland’s work, and its capacity for tenderness and sincerity. Following “TEEMING IMPERMAFROST” is a moving solo piano tribute to Art Maddox, a friend who Noland describes as “a brilliant musician with a powerful intellect and a warm, generous spirit.” “REQUIESCAT for piano” might just be the jewel of the album, poignant and poetic.
In the subsequent tracks we cross a continent whose topography ranges from creepy to groovy to nostalgic-futuristic, encountering robots and hollow-eyed dolls toiling away in dark warehouses (and perhaps organizing for the inanimate revolution). “NIHILIST MODERNSKY CHIC” might be the album’s true head-severing moment, deftly exposing the falseness of beauty as we know it.
Ah, but we surrender to beauty – the honest kind – in “WILDWOOD REVERIE FOR PIANO,” the album’s closing track. Evoking the natural landscape of the pacific northwest, the song betrays a romanticism for place that finds perfect expression as Noland leads us home.
In Gary Lloyd Noland’s world, real flowers are revered, but fake flowers are also celebrated (and dissected and vomited out). Through his mastery of comprovisation, he exposes listeners to the vivid expanse of his imagination in an unhinged ride that is well worth the price of admission. Do yourself a favour and get swept up in the madness of 17 MUSICOSYNCRATIC QUIRKS, CROTCHETS, MAGGOTS & MOOD SLIDES, where nothing and everything is sacred.
-------- GARY LLOYD NOLAND: pandaharmonium, malapropsichord, climaxophone, smorgasborgasmatron, bombasticordion, air cacophonator. ORLAN DOY GLANDLY: squealharp, whoopeeboard, ventilator guitar, squawkarina, Gulag whistle, dodecaphone, double-crossilators, electro-kakazoo. DARNOLD OLLY YANG: googah, hee-haw, harrumphinator, dalzheimers, oink bells, nerdy gurdy, didgeridoo-wah-doo, jello thumpers, custard pounders. LON GAYLORD DYLAN: unstitched concussion, belly button cymbals, lambastanets, barking spider engines, underarmonica, stiletto knockers, pudding whackers. DOLLY GRAY LANDON: forbidden flute, yo-yo-boe, B-sharp blarinet, stench horn, mustard gassoon, C-flat grumpet, smackbutt, bombdrone, polyphonic foot tuba. ARNOLD DAY LONGLY: steam viola, nose fiddle, bass pukulele, killjoy buzzer, scaremin.
Gary Lloyd Noland and his experimental new album DISCOMBOBULATED GEMÜTLICHKEIT
Gary Lloyd Noland is a professional musician and composer. Earning his Bachelor’s in music from UC Berkeley in 1979, Gary continued his studies at the Boston Conservatory transferring then to Harvard University, where he added to his credits a Masters and a PhD in Music Composition in 1989.
Over the course of many years Gary has released countless compositions, ranging from solo piano, vocal, full-length plays, an award-winning chamber novel, and electronic pieces. His compositions have been performed across Europe, Asia, Australia, and the United States and he has taught at Harvard, the University of Oregon, and Portland Community College. His latest album release consists of fifteen tracks, each varying in regards to tone, energy, and genre.
Gary has pushed the sonic boundaries on this album, with a full array of experimental pieces such as TYRANNONERVOUS WREX, FOSSILIZED ROMANCES, RUPTURED FIGMENTS, SIRENIC SNARECROWS, and TRANSMOGRIBIFURCATIONS. Gary combines the use of classical musical gestures throughout with spontaneous sound effects, leaving the listener not knowing what to expect next. There are also elements of futuristic sounds on this album, with blistering synths, chimes, and soft percussion, behind heavy-hitting bass thuds and 808’s.
The album also provides collaborative features from the likes of Polina Chorna, who delivers some blissful piano solos on her tracks. Subtle, but classical licks take things back for a more classical nostalgic feel and make for a pleasant interlude on the album. Collectively it feels like a heavily packaged project.
With various tracks hitting over the 06:00 mark. it’s difficult to really pick up on a collective theme as this project is so experimental rather than a progressive body of work. Gary has made some brave choices on the album, rather than going for a general classical feel. The addition of solidified vocals in some capacity would have been a nice touch to accompany some of the songs, especially for the more mellow tunes that the listener is exposed to over the course of the album.
The album fits into it’s niche perfectly, not one to resonate with contemporary musical enthusiasts which we so often cover, making for a refreshing new entry. Gary has clearly brought his greatest musical expression to the album. There is indeed beauty in the chaos. It feels different from almost any of his previous material but we should also note how unorthodox the artwork is, eye-catching and truly out there just like the album. Overall Gary has demonstrated his versatility here, more so than ever before. A refreshing and bold entry from this unique talent.
STREAM THE ALBUM HERE
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Gary Lloyd Noland – FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT: A Pandora’s Tinderbox Of Tickletunes Op. 126 MUSIC REVIEWSJer@SBS February 26, 20220 Gary Lloyd Noland – FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT: A Pandora’s Tinderbox Of Tickletunes Op. 126 Gary Lloyd Noland – FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT: A Pandora’s Tinderbox Of Tickletunes (Op. 126) – Album Review I know what I’m looking to listen to here in review today…lemme see…I want something with like, a title that stretches over the traditional quick one line of text… Oh hey! Whaddya know? Would ya look at that. WHAT…DO…we have here? Gary Lloyd Noland…you sir, know just how to get me fully interested. Where do I begin? How do I explain this? So many things caught my eye & attention as I began this odyssey into Gary’s music & latest record. Obviously the title stands out, not just length-wise, but that’s heckin’ creative to start with…and of course, in this being my first experience with the man’s music and all, at first glance you see that number 126 at the end of the moniker for this album…and…well…I mean…that implies 125 OTHER compositions and/or records out there too, doesn’t it? And what about the curiously awesome titles of some of the tracks themselves? Songs like “Douchonaires In Space,” “Tardigrade Goofaloots,” and “Teeny Tiny Toilet Boys Bring Home Bacon From The Big Bad Zoocus Berserkus” – see anything that stands out to YOU? OF COURSE YOU DO! How could you not, right? Believe me when I tell ya, it gets even WEIRDER. You will find that Gary Lloyd Noland is joined by none other than the PIMPLETON PROCRASTURBATION ENSEMBLE – that’s right, you read that clearly in-print. You wanna know the BEST part about that though? You might actually recognize some of these amazing players he’s playing with if you’re paying real close attention – titans of the industry like Darnold Olly Yang, Lon Gaylord Dylan, Dolly Gray Landon, or Arnold Day Longly…surely you all KNOW these names or have seen them in some way, shape, or form before, haven’t you? Take a reallllllllllll close look…and then take another if you need it. I work with words all day long – every one of those names is an anagram for Gary Lloyd Noland. There is going down the rabbit-hole, and then there is going down the rabbit-hole, trying to follow Gary. That is, Dr. Gary. Oh yes – there’s MORE y’all…I haven’t even really begun to explain what I can outside of this record I’ve been listening to by Noland, but suffice it to say, he’s an extremely well-educated artist, with a PhD in Music Composition, he’s traveled all over the world, he teaches professionally and has taught at freakin’ HARVARD in the past, in addition to many other institutions of quality learning, he’s an author as well…somewhere in the neighborhood of like, three-HUNDRED videos online…you know, just your average, every day, typical story of a musician am I right? C’mon! The good doctor has built himself a lifetime immersed entirely in his art & craft and you know I’ve got nothing but love for that, and essentially everything I’ve seen & cited in this review as well. I dig the crazy cats on the fringe of our beautiful independent music-scene…and I’m thinking no one thrives on the fringe quite like Gary. I remember hearing someone say something once to the effect of, “having a broad education in music teaches you all the rules, and once you know what they are, you know exactly which ones you want to break the most” – and I genuinely feel that applies to a lot of what Gary creates. For instance, as far as I can tell according the date-stamp on the Soundcloud release, FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT came out somewhere in January…and Gary’s gone and chosen to start his new album with a ‘Christmas tune’ – at least of sorts. “Xmas Holiday Memento From Old Salzburg” DOES indeed have some randomized holiday charm to it for sure…but it ain’t gonna be the normal yuletide tune you’d likely be expecting unless you’re familiar with this wonderful minstrel of madness’ work already. “Xmas Holiday Memento From Old Salzburg” sounds like the toys have come to life and have taken over the music studio…and every so often feel like they should lay down some stellar melodies for a brand-new record while they’re in there. For those out there like myself and presumably Gary – the audiophiles of this world – what’s not to love here? Gary doesn’t go into doing what he does with the expectation that EVERYONE out there is going to ‘get it’ – and nor should the pursuit of art ever even be about that to begin with; he knows this, and has embraced his innovative creativity like the asset it is, and roams around freely to compose as he sees fit. The results are a genuinely interesting and sparkling journey through “Xmas Holiday Memento From Old Salzburg,” which is by no means any typical kind of tune, but absolutely enticing to listen to. Trust me when I tell ya, you’ll put this on and realize you’ve probably heard nothing like it ever before. From the piano keys, door bells ringing, twinkling sounds, and bizarre oddities that swirl through an atmosphere that would be otherwise entirely serene…Gary likes a whole lotta sound, and I like a whole lotta Gary for this very reason. It ain’t gonna be for everyone & that’s okay – I already know it’s for me. Layered GENIUS, if you ask me…that’s what I’m hearing in the man’s title-tune. I really love what this guy has done on this album, not even remotely kidding…Gary is such a truly gifted composer, he’s morphed into FIVE versions of himself, playing unique ideas with each of’em, all at the same time, and none of it makes sense, yet all of it does. Can someone explain how this all works to me? Sincerely – I listen to a track like “Flammable Counterpoint” and I just sit here trippin’ right out on the whole realm of sound Gary’s got colliding together, and how so much of what you’d likely typically associate with a ‘composition’ is largely relegated to the background – it’s the wild, weird, and bizarre that he’s got so proudly pronounced in front of the mix, and so we have to assume that THIS is the kind of creative-type our friend the good doctor really is. You don’t go into making “Flammable Counterpoint” ever expecting it to end up on the radio…that ain’t at all what this project is about, and thankfully so – this is living art, breathing through your speakers without apologies. And YES…I can acknowledge that, there’s an aspect of listening to a song like “Flammable Counterpoint” that completely feels like Gary is scrolling through his sound-bank in real-time, selecting different things at random without any real rhyme or reason – and you know something? Maybe that’s TRUE – I honestly do not know. All I know is what’s in the results I’m hearing…”Flammable Counterpoint” is constantly twitchy and never sits still, despite keeping this odd, chilled-out demeanor too…it’s a master-class in contrast from start to finish. You might struggle to get to the parts of the song that you really want to hear most, but that’s by design – “Flammable Counterpoint” keeps its craziness loud & proud upon the surface, but bored I guarantee you will not be. According to the tags & whatnot that you’ll find with the album online, these ‘comprovisations’ do seem to stem directly from improv, rooted in free Jazz…which certainly makes sense based on all the untamed wildness you’ve heard in the opening of the album, and of course, it doesn’t just stop there. “Rudenoxious Interruptions” carries on the strange soundscapes of Gary Lloyd Noland, adding in that sparkling dimension of melody and unfolding his music like a story in song once again. While I can tell that the average everyday listener out there would probably still struggle a bit in trying to figure out where one track ends and the next begins…again, I’d assume that’s just A-OK to Gary. Hear it how you hear it, just listen, and experience something altogether different. I’m not here to get technical – this man has an education that exceeds my own in every capacity – and so perhaps it’s best to continue to simply relay the way a record like this makes my brain jump to this weird observation & that. I’m sure for those of you well-versed in theory & whatnot…you’d probably have all kinds of interesting opinions on what Noland creates that would be far different & more insightful than what I could tell ya after having a listen for yourself – all I know is that I dig people like Gary that choose to blaze a different trail. I’d be the first to admit, I wouldn’t be in the mood for FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT every single day that I’m rockin’ a playlist full of tunes…but I did also go years & years answering the question of ‘what do you listen to’ with a response of “anything that sounds like a broken answering machine” – so don’t get it twisted, don’t get me wrong – I don’t need everything to line up in a nice 4/4 pattern to hold my attention. Songs like “Rudenoxious Interruptions” are designed to make your brainwaves dance around and spark-up their synapses…and I’m mighty inclined to let that happen – I dig this kind of uniqueness. The AWARD for BEST TITLE of a song this year however, is getting handed out right here in February, for “Douchonaires In Space” – no one’s gonna beat that, so just hand Gary the hardware and call it finito. With frequencies bouncing around, strange bending theramin-esque sounds, neon synth vibes, the ever-present piano, and like…a whole bunch of loose change dropping on the floor or something…”Douchonaires In Space” never lets its foot off the weirdness. I will be real with ya Gary, I do think it’s a lot for the people out there to take in…and with the similar approach to scattered randomness, it can make each individual experience sound a bit closer to the others than most ears would recognize. That’s generally the effect of having ALL the things going on, ALL of the time…but again, I’d assume the man knows this, and has soldiered on clearly refusing to go gently into that good night. Gary doesn’t just put the kitchen sink into his songs dear readers, dear friends – he puts the entire KITCHEN into it, produce & all I swear. “Douchonaires In Space” is every bit as much of an oddity as it is an odyssey…and like…somehow horses are in there too? You get the idea – Noland covers a whole lotta ground before you even get into space…it’s like if you’ve ever compressed a video or song really quickly at a much higher speed, you get these flickers of sound that catch your attention when you listen back, and it sounds nothing like the original. It’s like Gary has taken the history of mankind and drawn a line all the way into the future, and then compressed the whole timeline of our story into one audible file, five-minutes and forty-three seconds long. Millenium’s worth of sound throughout time, all blipping and beeping bizarrely at you in this much shorter space. Who knows – maybe that’s what it is! Don’t you do this Gary. Don’t you tease us like this. As “Parting Regrets for piano” begins and the sheer madness of what you’d been experiencing for so long to this point on FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT – and it seems as simple as solo-piano has come to soothe our mind from all the complexities of what we’ve been hearing…I remember my first spin through the record thinking, “I just kinda want it to stay this way” and wondering how Gary might ever let that happen based on all I’d heard already. Yet here we are, and that’s exactly what he’s done – he’s given you a musical palette-cleanser…a break for you to catch your thoughts and brace yourself for whatever it is that might come next – but yes, indeed, “Parting Regrets for piano” will remain more melodically tangible from start to finish. For a person like myself, that hasn’t heard what Gary can do when walking the straight & narrow path with music, it’s actually pretty crucial to hear a song like this as well…to kind of get a sense of where it all started and where he came from. Otherwise, we might just have to assume he was running long before he was walking, you feel me? Tracks like “Parting Regrets for piano” aren’t only great to listen to, but they speak strongly on behalf of the compositional skills, technique, and capabilities that brought him here. Gary can play, there’s not a single doubt about that – and “Parting Regrets for piano” puts that fact on display like no other song has to this point in the record, and ultimately I think people will appreciate it. It’s a really expressive piece of music he’s written, and you’ll find that where you end up travels far, far from where you started once it’s all over – yet you’ll wonder how you got there so quickly…and that’s the effect of music that has mesmerizing & hypnotic qualities to it; you get entirely lost in the moment. “Teeny Tiny Toilet Boys Bring Home Bacon From The Big Bad Zoocus Berserkus” is a title & a half…I figure I can put my feet up for a minute or two, this next part should practically write itself! “Teeny Tiny Toilet Boys Bring Home Bacon From The Big Bad Zoocus Berserkus” continues to create the combination of madness we’ve become accustomed to at this point halfway into the record, and certainly has a lot goin’ on, including an epic climax just past the three-minute mark, with still about two & a half-minutes to go. There’s a ton to take in, there’s no doubt about that…is it a song? Is it art? Is it something else entirely? I’ll let you decide. I know that when the piano breaks through, that’s always what becomes most appealing to me, despite my penchant for the bizarre, weird, and wacky so akin to what Gary enjoys. No question that this would likely be a tougher cut for some to stick with, even the most ardent fans of the strange sounds out there…Noland’s not afraid to ask a whole lot of listeners out there; for those that get it, there’s plenty of room on the bandwagon…for those that don’t, feel free to move on – I am 100% positive that he sleeps the exact same way regardless, every night. Probably folded into some crazy pretzel shape or hanging upside down like the Batman…but you get the idea – I’m sure he’s used to all kinds of interesting comments on his compositions and not much would phase him critically. I’ll admit that even I was probably looking for a little more song inside his song here on “Teeny Tiny Toilet Boys Bring Home Bacon From The Big Bad Zoocus Berserkus,” but it’s still impossible to deny the entertainment value in the completely unpredictable, which Gary most definitely is to the nth degree. So how does he go about following one of the album’s more challenging spots? Well with a fourteen minute-plus tune of course! What did you expect – something normal? A smooth & fluid R&B track to pop on in outta nowhere? Heck no! You get to try and once again find your way down the rabbit-hole, only this time, it’s about twice as long of a ride to get to the other side to have a gander. “Herr Doktor Squircle’s Existential Casserole” arguably heads in a more low-key and nearly ambient direction for the majority of its length…the wildness you’ve come to know from Gary is still very prevalent in the mix of course, but overall, this would be considered to be…the more subtle of tunes on this record I suppose. It’s a commitment for sure, on both sides of the speakers…but if this man is willing to create it, I’m very much willing to listen – you’re just not going to find tracks like “Herr Doktor Squircle’s Existential Casserole” every day, you know what I mean? So buy the ticket, take the ride I figure – there’s so much to be learned by listening to music that might be outside of your normal diet, and creativity like you’ll find on Noland’s record here, is all too rare to find. I don’t really know what I could have said going into listening to this tune that I might have expected to discover, but I feel like this was it…maybe there really aren’t any words to describe an experience like this…all I can say is that once you get to this point of the album, you’d completely know what I mean. It’s a Noland tune, and it is indeed longer…you could say it’s more spacious perhaps…a bit more space for us to breathe and catch our thoughts as we listen maybe…but ultimately, we’re still talking about the same methods and means he’s applied to the rest of the music you’ll hear on FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT as well. I don’t know that I can say I found that particular reason or aspect of “Herr Doktor Squircle’s Existential Casserole” that necessarily warranted the added length, especially given the fact that Gary’s tunes tend to sound like about ten songs mashed together to begin with in all the ideas goin’ on from moment to moment (alright, alright…second to second) – though I think it’s crystal clear that he could make a fortune as a soundtrack or Foley artist. I’m gonna advocate for that eleventh minute pretty hard, because listening to this guy play piano is truly an exquisite treat for the ears and a piece of these tunes doled out all too sparingly…but like I’ve been tellin’ ya, every time it pops up, you realize just how gifted this man truly is beyond all the insanity you hear. Piling it all in there for a big ol’ rambunctious finale that has no problem sparking up your speakers with sounds beaming & booming from the lefts to the rights, “Herr Doktor Squircle’s Existential Casserole” is actually a lot more heckin’ listenable than most people would realize without giving it a proper chance. It’s still as restless as the rest of the set, only with a bit more space to play around in – and personally, I very much dig on the idea of a casserole being existential…because, hey…why NOT at this point right Gary? We’ve established you’re a weird dude and proudly so, so get me a fork I say – I’m here to dig on in to “Herr Doktor Squircle’s Existential Casserole” and have lunch with my strange friend. One of my own personal favorite artists who I’ve cited countless times on these pages of ours, is Aphex Twin…who is genuinely no less or no more scattered & randomized as you’ll hear the music of Gary Lloyd Noland to be when it comes right down to it. One of my favorite things about Aphex Twin in general, is the fact that he doesn’t believe anyone out there should completely like his entire catalog, and fully acknowledges how crazy that would actually be – especially when he doesn’t dig it all himself. That’s the thing about taking chances and pushing the boundaries of art…sometimes you win by finding something that works, sometimes you win only by having had the experience and learning what you can from it…it might not be the next big thing, but it can be a monumental moment in your own evolution and growth in what you create. I would have to again acknowledge how similar a track like “Biennial Covid Gala” is to what we’ve heard towards the start of this record & point out that it’d be another cut that’s gonna be tough on the average everyday listener out there – but we really have to know what the intentions behind Noland’s music is too. Maybe he’s completely going for that soundtrack-esque style of composition…maybe he’s got big ol’ plans to add another three-hundred videos to support what you hear with trippin’ visuals onscreen or a whole animated movie – we don’t know, but it’d definitely work for something along those lines. Other than that, I’d circle back to the aforementioned Aphex Twin tale and wonder out loud how much Gary is listening to Gary’s music himself…like I’ve been saying, I think he’s asking a whole lot outta the listeners out there, and even in a short riotous dose like you get in the less-than three-minutes of “Biennial Covid Gala” it’s still a superhuman amount of sound to take on in. Okay, this time I’m like, fully positive I heard the man both crack & pour himself a beer in the middle of playing “Tardigrade Goofaloofs” – did anyone else notice that? I mean…I guess it could be a cola…that’s possible…no judgments here. And did he just end with the exact tone of the incoming text-messages on your i-phone, ensuring that basically anyone within earshot is going to check their device when “Tardigrade Goofaloofs” wraps up? Why yes, I think that he did…and yes, I’d bet it’s 100% intentional. Full of mysterious sounds & even voices…maybe a pinball machine too? “Tardigrade Goofaloofs” is the antithesis to traditional tunes without apologies – Gary has no issues going straight into the beyond, never looking behind him once to see if we’re still tagging along as he pursues his wildest ideas with fully reckless abandon. Ever shape-shifting & morphing what you hear into something else entirely, “Tardigrade Goofaloofs” has that scrolling through the sound-bank effect on us once more, but by that same token, each time that aspect shows up in Gary’s music he’s adding in significantly new sounds into the mix as well. There’s a more murky and mysterious, curious vibe to “Tardigrade Goofaloofs” in comparison to much of the rest as well, and I felt like the undertones of this track worked out brilliantly. I do think there’s still a ton of room for Gary to create more separation in what he’s creating, I’ll be real with him about that. Track-to-track, this really would be a tough record for most people to discern where one song stops and the next begins…not that this is an absolutely essential part of making music. Noland’s going for more of an immersive & cohesive (ly strange) experience in that regard, and in that respect you have to look at FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT as a mission accomplished. As to how long each and every person out there is going to be able to hang out with this record or how much it might exhaust them by the end of listening, that’s gonna be different on a case by case basis. I’ve got a ton of love for the real outsiders out there like Gary, but I’d be the first to admit that it’s a taxing type of music to listen to…that’s the effect of inherently unique stuff, it sends your brain into overdrive trying to keep up. When there’s more of a noticeable difference between each song, we’re able to reset and reawaken our attention to continue to focus on what’s happening…without it, you have the risk of people fading in & out as a record plays…which may or may not be something he’d want to keep in mind for the future. All-in-all, as improvisational as it may be, I have the feeling there’s not much anyone out there is going to say that’s going to convince Gary to go in any other direction than where his musical mind will take him, and right on – as it should be. I’m not here to pass judgment on someone’s art even though I’m a critic – all I can tell ya is what I hear and offer an outside perspective. Gary’s fully aware of all the challenges his music would present to the everyday listener, and “Macho Nerdismo” is every bit as much of one as the rest are…it’s not a style of sound for those out there that desperately need to sing along. Y’ain’t gonna find that catchiness or slick Pop hooks woven into these instrumental tunes…you might not even feel like there’s a moment that you experience twice on the inside of one song, no matter how long or short it may be – and regardless of what you feel about it, you have to appreciate the artistic dimension & depth that ambitions like these possess. Quite simply, Gary’s creating something that no one else has, that no one would be instantly able to draw a comparison to, and that’s 100% priceless. Even better yet, somehow he’s created real identity in the process – I could pick this guy out of a lineup of songs on a playlist blindfolded at this point, and that’s saying a lot considering how different it all is. You get a bit of what I’m talking about with the way that “Ice Cream Crucifixion” opens…like you’d have a better chance of recognizing this track by title when it came up again and be able to identify it as one of the more unique cuts in the set that stood out for one reason or another. Or another and another when it comes to Gary’s music, but you get the idea. I dig what he’s got goin’ on with the bass & piano combinations here…those are the main meat of this song for me personally…the rest of the scattered wildness & weirdness being fired off throughout the atmosphere is a bit more expected at this point in listening to FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT: A Pandora’s Tinderbox Of Tickletunes Op. 126, but still welcome all the same. I don’t think that at track eleven, Gary has to worry about whether anyone that’s hanging out listening to this set will make it to the end…at this point, we’re as committed as listeners as he is as an artist and guaranteed to stick with it. The presence of the bass really made the difference in this particular cut for me personally…I like how that was more pronounced and played a starring role in this tune…the sporadic nature of the rest involved was as interesting as it’s been throughout the album. For a second there, with the gentle sounds of nature and piano combined, you get that feeling like you’ve just walked out of a darkened theater on into the daylight as the final track “Perforated Smuggards” begins…but any appearance of normality will quickly subside, I promise. Keeping his street-cred in-check, Gary starts to light up this last cut with all kinds of oddities in the mix for ya, bending time & space to his will as he plays…and it’s no less strange than any of the rest before too long at all. Heck, he even throws in a serious BEAT for like, ONE moment for you as well…just to give ya something easy to catch onto for a second & perhaps audibly prove that he could have taken the easy route with his music all along, if that was ever what he wanted…which clearly it is not. “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro” as my man Hunter S. Thompson would tell ya…and listening to Gary finish off his record with the bleating sheep and malevolent laughs in the background of “Perforated Smuggards” – I mean…you gotta recognize that if this quote represents any truth at all, this man is among the most pro. I’ve more than enjoyed my time…there’s no question about this being a highly memorable experience, even if it’s not a record I feel like I’d reach for every single day…what Gary’s established here is so much more impressive than that; it’s his identity in sound, and it’s a moment in time that I’ll never ever forget. Find out more about Gary Lloyd Noland at his official website at: https://garynolandcomposer.com Find out what we do at sleepingbagstudios, and be the next to be featured on our pages by clicking here! FacebookTwitterTumblrRedditFacebook MessengerEmail Tags:Album FLAMMABLE COUNTERPOINT: A Pandora’s Tinderbox Of Tickletunes Op. 126 Gary Lloyd Noland sleepingbagstudios
Gary Lloyd Noland – Flammable Counterpoint
Evolution Music Press
Reviewed by: Lee Callaghan
January 2, 2022
"Titled Flammable Counterpoint: a Pandora’s Tinderbox of Tickletunes Op. 126, composer, songwriter Gary Lloyd Noland takes his audience on a trip into the weird, eerie, eccentric. This twelve-song full-length release features the many alter egos of this mysterious performer as he blurs the line between popular music, art, and the strange. Together with these five alter egos, Gary Lloyd Noland presents the Pimpleton Procrasturbation Ensemble, and although that surely is a mouthful, when referring to the album credits each named musician plays their own unique instrument; the Belly Button cymbals, the Nerdy Gurdy, the Yo-Yo-Boe, and the Nose Fiddle to name just a small fraction of the sounds in store for unsuspecting listeners. OK, now bear with me, if you feel I am making fun of this, I am merely painting a portrait with words what this collection of sounds makes which truly is hard to describe. I am left mesmerized and curious at the fact that this album is surprisingly satisfying and refreshing, yet I am challenged to try and put a finger on just what I am witnessing.
The Pimpleton Procrasturbation Ensemble opens with a Christmas tune, which for a pop album is almost unheard of. The track, Xmas Holiday Memento From Old Salzburg, opens with a familiar melody reminiscent of Carol of the Bells, yet quickly takes a sharp left and heads down the rabbit hole as it explores the bells theme while introducing beautiful piano melodies coupled with penny whistles and, is that a woodpecker? This artistic, bohemian approach to the motif of Christmas puts the listener in a light- hearted mood to be ready to undertake the journey Gary Lloyd Noland is about to take us on.
A contrast to the seriousness of today's climate of the pandemic is explored and put into retrospect with the track, Biennial COVID Gala, a jazzy panorama that almost takes you inside the virus and offers a view from its perspective. Although this is my interpretation from this track, the piano coupled with the assortment of peculiar and curious musical droppings of sounds paints imagery of a terrible entity wreaking havoc in its wake but doing it in an unbeknown manner which seems silly and humorous all the same. The siren setting up the recapitulation really adds flavor to this track as it points to the danger and tension of this dance we are all taking. The Gala features everyone, or is the Gala in our bodies as we speak right now?
Of all these wonderful and magically outlandish tracks, my pick for the highlight piece is the title track, Flammable Counterpoint. This track revolves around a piano dissonance that strikes a revolutionary tone. The odd-time signatures employed throughout this track and the syncopated rhythms which fall just off the downbeat give this track a Stravinsky-like quality which demands the listener to take this with more than a light-hearted approach. This track encapsulates the theme of the entire Flammable Counterpoint: a Pandora’s Tinderbox of Tickletunes Op. 126 album, a counterpoint to traditional music and pop melodies. An antithesis of modern commercialism and political thought. This track captures the non- conformist mentality and blends it with a beatnik culture shock which is truly magic.
Although reviewing all twelve tracks of Flammable Counterpoint: a Pandora’s Tinderbox of Tickletunes Op. 126 is outside the scope of this review, other highlight tracks are; Douchonaires in Space, Tardigrade Goofaloofs, and the morose sounding, ironically comical Ice Cream Crucifixion. This album left me with more questions than answers, more curious than satisfied, and more perplexed by our current state of the world than convinced we are going to be OK. Flammable Counterpoint: a Pandora’s Tinderbox of Tickletunes Op. 126 is an experimental Jazz album at its core, yet it offers just a little bit more. As Gary Lloyd Noland describes the offering as; “A Capricious Cycle of Twelve Dynamic Tone Ditties from a New- Sprung Can of Earworms”, I think it’s alright to be a bit confused, it feels good actually. Although, on the surface, this may not be an album to take very seriously by its very nature, perhaps that would be foolish. There are hidden metaphors interlaced within the chaotic anarchy of musical expression, and rich, dynamic imagery cast by its very existence. This is certainly not an album I ever thought I would want, but as we travel through the chaos which is today’s world, Flammable Counterpoint: a Pandora’s Tinderbox of Tickletunes Op. 126 is an album to help guide us out of it alive."
"Today on composers I admire [I would] like to feature Gary Noland. I know Gary slightly but not very well through his internet presence. I first became aware of him through an entry he made in the CFN Composers Contest in 2021. I found his craftsmanship, stylistic diversity and imagination really stunning. With Gary you never really know what you are going to get. One piece will be almost victoriana. Another will be bitonal neoclassicism. Another will be highly imaginative and witty electronic music. And yet all are [united by] a fecund imagination, impeccable craft and a wicked sense of humor.
The piece I’m featuring is his 39 Variations on an Original Theme. This is a monumental work of about an hour and a half in length. The theme is slight, much like the Diabelli theme in Beethoven’s famous set. And much like the Beethoven, Noland takes his simple Mozartian theme through every mood and style imaginable. It’s really a veritable history of 19th and 20th Century techniques in composition. Worthy successor to Beethoven, Brahms, Reger and Rzewski."—CHRISTOPHER GORDON FORBES, American composer/pianist
Response to pianist Asya Gulua's world premiere performance of Noland's "Adagietto Doloroso: in memoriam Frederic Rzewski" Op. 121:
"Leopold Berg meets Karol Godowsky and Alban Szymanowski - but more than just that; splendidly written for the piano and beautifully played - and a worthy momorial tribute to its dedicatee. Congratulatons!"—ALISTAIR HINTON, Scottish composer and musicologist with a focus on the works of his friend Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji; curator of the Sorabji Archive.
"I'm immensely happy to be able to end this year with two new recordings of pieces that were dedicated to me!
A while ago on one of my YouTube journeys, I stumbled upon the highly mesmerizing and playful music-theatre-like-collage-music by Gary Noland (see for example Jagdlied or P*rnmusic). After an interesting conversation with him, I ended up being the dedicatee of the Enigmous Prelude for which I'm very grateful. I hope you'll enjoy my recording of it!"—LUKAS HUISMAN, Belgian pianist
“...iconoclastic, stylistic potpourri standards of giddy humor, no holds barred soup to nuts and high spirits.”
—ROBERT LEVIN, pianist, musicologist, composer
“Mr. Noland writes as a ‘time traveler’ in styles long abandoned by most composers as well as styles so new as to not have been imagined but by him. This he accomplishes naturally, convincingly, with originality and true passion. His command of all musical languages and his ability to traverse musical time is nothing less than remarkable. Listen!”
—DONALD MARTINO, Pulitzer Prize winning composer
"Tribute to Gary Noland, Composer
By what dim light,
Was I to expect--
Walking down those Berkeley paths,
When all I was told to believe was the
Grunt of weary nakedness buried beneath
The unenlightened night?
Anything . . .
By what dim light,
Was I to expect--
Passing further, south, by those those musical mausoleums,
Built to accommodate our ears, our developing form of sense,
Into which they shoveled “hysterical, bleating wailing,” and other
Mismatched drone of our times,
Was I to expect?
Anything . . . .
And, too, remembering dry, aging lips at podiums, lecturing,
“The Iron Laws of Music History,” their decade’s long utterance of “Rosebud,”
While their former thugs--and other graduate gentry--unleashed,
Knocked the breath out of keyboards and tried
My ability to stay focused, while darting past.
Anything . . .
That was anything but the perceptive and deft notes
That arose as a sonic answer,
Innocent and infinitely powerful,
Filling a small studio tucked further south.
By what dim light,
Was I to expect--
Walking down those Berkeley paths,
Out of the stolid reach of the Berkeley campus:
the tonal nudity, and grace, of Gary Noland’s work?"
—JEFF BRITTING, American composer, playwright, author, and producer; associate producer and composer of the score of the academy-award nominated documentary: Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life; curator of the Ayn Rand Archives at the Ayn Rand Institute
Poem © 2020 by Jeff Britting
“...set in a dizzying harmonic language that loops uncontrollably through a wide-ranging gamut of possible and impossible tonalities ... The general effect is like watching wet paintings of 19th Century musical memorabilia drip into frazzled 21st Century oblivion...”
—ALLEN GIMBEL, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
"…Extremely inventive arrangements and textures with spot on precision execution and musicianship. Super creative."
—DON CAMPAU, Program Host, KOWS 92.5FM, Occidental, CA
“Gary Noland is one of the great composers of the 21st century.”
—JACK RUMMEL, KGNU 88.5 FM, Boulder CO
“...a fleet-fingered, ebullient performer ... bright, witty and engaging.”
—CHRISTIAN CAREY, SPLENDID MAGAZINE
"...yum yum, like acid candies for children that fizz in the mouth."
"…one of the most imaginative composers on the planet who continues to find new sounds in music!…"
—KEVIN SCOTT, American composer, conductor, music historian and lecturer
The distinction between music and noise is, I think, perfectly described by Physics.info. “Music and noise are both mixtures of sound waves of different frequencies. The component frequencies of music are discrete, separable and rational, with a discernible dominant frequency. The component frequencies of noise are continuous and random with no discernible dominant frequency.” Hence, the further we delve into dissonant or even atonal music, the more likely it is to be perceived as noise. Ultimately the line between the two is very blurry, and writer Meghan Davis took this concept to task smartly, when she wrote: “Someone nearby is tapping their toe. Is this an irritating noise or a musical sound? As it turns out, the difference depends almost entirely upon the listener.” And that ultimately is the point my friends. The beauty of sound is in the ears of the beholder.
So why this long premise on sonic contrasts? Well, when you engage with the music of an avant-garde composer, and dare I say, sound designer, such as Gary Lloyd Noland, there is no sitting on the fence. You either judge his album, “State-of-the-Art Ear Exercises for Musical Cognoscenti Op. 119”, as ingeniously brilliant, or utter hogwash. If this hard and fast assumption sounds dramatically drastic, well then so does Noland’s classically inspired, post-modern sonic concoctions.
Gary Lloyd Noland, who has received glowing critiques, has a boundless artistic spirit, and a seemingly endless technical and musical ambition. His compositions strive to challenge the listener to cast away conventions, traditions, customs and any formal limitations their musical mindsets may have locked them into. The 18 tracks contained within this album will take you through sounds composed of multiple frequencies that are produced by instruments whose names alone will have your mind twisting into a loop.
Your ears will be teased, stroked, stretched, and surprised, by the featured players – Gary Lloyd Noland and his alter-egos: Orland Doy Glandly, Darnold Olly Yang, Lon Gaylord Dylan, Dolly Gray Landon, and Arnold Day Longly. Even more surprising, are the names of the instrumentation used by the players. Among them, the pandaharmonium, squealharp, googah, unstitched concussion, stench horn, nose cello and toilet brushes.
Now if you’re thinking of, outright dissonant bombast, think again. Because the album is awash with beautiful classical motifs filled with luscious melody and harmony. They’re simply interposed by varying flurries of atonal sounds which most people link to dissonance. If you could imagine an ensemble led by the combined minds of Richard Strauss, Frank Zappa, Brain Eno and Luigi Russolo, you may just have the slightest idea of where Gary Lloyd Noland is going. And that’s practically everywhere.
Even the song titles themselves will make you sit up and take notice: “Murder Hornet Lullaby”, “Vaginavenger Vortex”, “Elevator Mucus”, “Ooly Drooly Grubbles” and “Larcabounger Zizz”, being just a selected few. That being said, Gary Lloyd Noland’s endearing eccentricities only really seem far more subversive to those stuck in the conventions of the mainstream jungle.
Though Noland’s appeal comes from his warped musical sensibilities; most of the melodies and core structures contained within the album are fairly accessible, reflecting an alluring fondness for classical music. It’s just that his arrangements are far more unusual and idiosyncratic than your normal or garden variety of music. The infusion of Noland’s avant-garde sensibility and experimental spirit makes for a fascinating combination, and very much is, what sets him apart everyone else. And I mean, EVERYONE else.
This album is literally packed with ideas and sounds, as Gary Lloyd Noland ventures into a different avenue with every track. The instrumentals have distinctive identities, and they’re extremely palatable in even in their most unusual forms. In 2021, you will definitely find less challenging albums, and maybe even more challenging albums, but you will never find anything quite like “State-of-the-Art Ear Exercises for Musical Cognoscenti Op. 119” anywhere else on this planet…maybe even in the entire universe for that matter!"
“...an unabridged dictionary of rhythmic alliteration and double-speak that single-handedly rivals Gilbert, Sullivan and Orwell...”
—THE HARVARD INDEPENDENT
“Your sense of humor is awesome.”
—LUKAS FOSS, German-born American composer, pianist & conductor
“...distinctive, inventive ... subversive ... You can hardly be indifferent to Noland’s music and so I would urge you to try it.”
—ROGER BLACKBURN, MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL
“...a glenngouldian personality...”
—JOSEPH FENNIMORE, American composer & pianist
“...mind-bending spiraling of focus which is truly breathtaking ... spectacular...”
—CHARLES AMIRKHANIAN, composer, sound poet & radio producer
“I'm amazed at your harmonic skill. Haven't seen or heard anything like it from any one else—except yours truly—certainly not from your generation. It falls somewhere between Strauss and Mahler. Especially like how you are able to slip in and out from the tonal to the atonal—or near atonal...”
—GEORGE ROCHBERG, American composer, Pulitzer Prize finalist
“...court jester to the classical establishment...”
—PAYTON MACDONALD, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
“...florid and juicy...”
—RICHARD BUELL, THE BOSTON GLOBE
“...it proved to be one of the wittiest and wildest performances of new music I’ve encountered ... Teeming with Borroughsian and Joycean punnery ... wry comments on the state of 20th century music composition, and splashes of colorful music from various instruments and objects, this ambitious extravaganza is pretty well indescribable yet well worth experiencing, especially if you bring your sense of humor along.”
—BRETT CAMPBELL, EUGENE WEEKLY
“...an incredible aural web ... a great ostinato of American kitsch. Sul pont never sounded so good.”
—RUSSELL STEINBERG, composer, conductor of the LOS ANGELES YOUTH ORCHESTRA
“...I am bowled over by the expertise of your music: you use certain elements from the 19th century and from jazz, etc., and just at the moment when I am about to say, OK, what else is new?, you do a number of things, such as speeding up, becoming wildly dissonant, modulating to a distant continent, stopping completely and throwing some kind of total surprise ... you seem to know exactly when to do what and how much. I don’t know anybody else who can do it!”
—ANDREW IMBRIE, American composer, Pulitzer Prize finalist
“... remarkable stuff...”
—MAX MORATH, American ragtime pianist, composer, actor & author
“...a loony composer from Oregon...”
—MAX SHEA, WMUA 91.1FM, Amherst, MA
“Like an André Rieu opium dream, Noland’s waltz slowly emerged from a morass of sound, solidified into a lush, decadent, Viennese waltz before dissolving and reforming again and again. Like Bernstein, Noland made great use of the familiar, in this case the easily recognized waltz form, but made it personal, unique...”
—AARON BERENBACH, NORTHWEST REVERB
“...a very complex score, full of witty musical solutions.”
—SANYA SHOILEVSKA, INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF WOMEN COMPOSERS JOURNAL
"Gary, have begun to listen to your music that you sent me. It's a pleasure to listen to music that IS music and is imbued with the classical music tradition--past and present--very effective-bravo----keep doing what you are doing."
—JAMES YANNATOS, Music Director of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra
“Gary Noland is one of those 21st Century composers seeking to forge a new aesthetic based on older models that do not traffic in serialism or minimalism ... Zany waltzes, ragtime riffs, chorales, toccatas, and much else romp and tear through these depictions of superheroes and villains from his ‘chamber novels’; other pieces spoof serial music ... to grand operas ... and Jewish guilt.”
—JACK SULLIVAN, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
—ALEX DUNN, KZSU FM90.3, Stanford, CA
“...It’s a romantic romp, rhythmically robust yet melodically flirting with the nostalgia of cabaret, minus the sleazy diminution of spilled drinks and smelly ashtrays. Its elegance recalls Elgar, and the serious sides, a synthesis of those strange bedfellows Schubert and Ives. Composers hate it when their music reminds you of someone else’s, but writing within a tradition, Noland has incorporated divergent styles that, woven together, work. Cosmopolitan without snobbery, it’s intelligent, pleasurable and convincing.”
—ROCKY LEPLIN, THE BERKELEY VOICE
“...Ihre Musik ist wunderschön, ‘Grande Rag Brillante’ ist ein Meisterwerk; als auch Komponist bin ich voll Neid, dass ich so etwas nicht schreiben kann. Ich wünsche Ihnen viel Erfolg! Ich komponiere schon viele Jahre europäisch tonal und es ist nicht leicht, so zu komponieren in einer Welt, die noch in der atonalen Ideologie denkt. Ich hoffe, Ihr Weg wird leichter...”
—LADISLAV KUPKOVIC, Slovak composer and conductor
"…it is an historical variation set [39 Variations in F Major Op. 98] for piano, a true descendant of the Goldberg and Diabellis, beautifully targeted to an apotheosis of supreme grandeur … a feat that only a few get to achieve … masterpiece!"
—ERNESTO FERRERI, American composer
“...an extraordinary work...”
—GEORGE PLIMPTON, American journalist, writer, literary editor, founder of the Paris Review
“... I ... could hardly believe my ears when I listened to your Venge Art and 24 Postludes for Piano, Op. 72—how magnificent!! I will definitely include most your works in our local shows, especially in the Art Block program SoundSculpture—a program for visual and sonic art ... I listen to all arriving music and [respond] seldom as excited as I did to your music ... Have a terrific 2004. You made mine with your inspiring music, talent and creativity. Thank you.”
—BRITA HEIZMANN, Executive Producer, KAZU, Pacific Grove, CA
“...an absolute gem of a piece...”
—CAITRIONA BOLSTER, KWAX 91.1FM, Eugene, Oregon
“...lots of cleverness, a clearly sophisticated culture and literate intelligence at work and an undoubted talent.”
—JOSEPH FENNIMORE, American composer & pianist
“...Art music certainly needs Noland’s Satie-esque humor.” —BRETT CAMPBELL, EUGENE WEEKLY
“A look at the head-note will alert you to Gary Noland’s very personal way with words. Not for Noland the lures either of Olympian detachment or lower case ‘significance.’ No, Noland is full-on and takes few linguistic prisoners. Similarly with the booklet artwork, Noland’s own, which is an example of crazed Robert Crumb à L’Africaine. And his music is much the same ... This is an elixir brewed of Couperin and Rameau, Scott Joplin, Bach, free funk, free Jazz (Cecil Taylor?), the Fugue, and an unholy alliance of straight sounding neo-classicism and its subsequent assault by the forces of percussive militancy. Noland may actually be a romantic but doesn’t want you to know. His Prelude is baroque-convincing though attended by some sour-ish off notes but he follows it with Serial Lullaby, a synthesiser-rich free funk piece that mocks its own title. Spray Taint gives us assaulted baroque, the percussion blizzards full of jazz offbeat and whoop-bang noises (plus telephone rings and disco inferno). He subjects Ragtime to the same souring procedures as he does to his off-note harpsichord baroque and evokes a drugs fix (in My Babe’s Gone Down To Do Her Glue) with some haywire free form. He writes an American fanfare for the title track and subjects it to anti-Bush assault by bird song and drum blister. His quixotic sense extends to opus numbers—the bowels of Op. 80 are scattered throughout the disc, and to instrumentation as well ... He’s a veritable one-man band of off-kilter influences...”
—JONATHAN WOOLF, MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL
“Beautiful ... imaginative brave new music, which I had the privilege to encounter this summer ... oomph-ful, exciting...”
—DAVID DEL TREDICI, Pulitzer Prize winning composer
“...an enormously talented composer ... Gary Noland is a musician with impeccable taste and a penetrating understanding of modern aesthetics.”
—TERRY WERGELAND, pianist & composer
“One word: monumental!”
—JOSEPH FORD, composer, founder of the DELIAN SOCIETY
“Your music sounds totally insane and is much too long and difficult, but I like it.”
—MARTHA ANNE VERBIT, pianist
“Gary Noland continues to turn out volumes of compositions in classical forms that defy the tradition. Where many composers find contentment in tweaking the forms, Gary twists them mercilessly, goosing the old masters and the warhorses they rode in on. Not surprisingly, many find all this maddeningly wild, but just as many ... wildly entertaining.”
—JACKIE T. GABEL, NORTH PACIFIC MUSIC
“Gary—you continue to be one of the most original of the contributors to ‘The Classical Salon.’ And ‘Effete Stinkopations’ opens one of my ragtime shows.”
—DAVID REFFKIN, KUSF 90.3 FM, University of San Francisco
“...the most virtuosic composer of fugue alive today ... the [Max] Reger of the 21st century.” —IRA BRAUS, pianist, musicologist, Professor of Music, The Hartt School
“Seriously odd classical ... Tongue-in-cheek ... Funny like Satie—zany and irreverent ... the bizarre collage of styles and time-periods is brilliant.”
—ALEX DUNN, KZSU FM90.3, Stanford, CA
“...a witty melange of styles of music...”
—THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
“For serious collectors of ‘outer-limits ragtime.’”
—DICK ZIMMERMAN, RAG TIMES
“4 OCTOBER 1991: KPFA radio in Berkeley, California, dedicates its newly constructed, two-story broadcast facility at 1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way with a live satellite broadcast ... works on the inaugural program, produced and narrated by KPFA Music director Charles Amirkhanian, included ... Grande Rag Brilliant [sic] by Gary NOLAND, a 15-minute rag introducing KPFA’s new Yamaha Disklavier grand piano, featuring fugues, frozen grace-notes to produce tone clusters, and a lengthy passage in which the music modulates up and down a half-tone each measure (“the turntable change of speed effect”)...”
—NICOLAS SLONIMSKY, MUSIC SINCE 1900
“This is the epitome of Dada sound-art! ... Gary—you’re a completely unhinged genius! Please continue in this vein for the sake of us all!”
“...enjoyed listening to your fascinating inventions. In some ways your music is best appreciated by fellow composers who will appreciate and understand the intricate links of theory, style, and history. I particularly like the surprising and humorous modulations of compositional styles.”
—GEORGE PETER TINGLEY, American composer & pianist
“...an enormous rag with humorously sudden and bizarre modulations and shifts. Noland also flexed his compositional muscles with an intricate fugue...”
—JONATHAN RUSSELL, SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE
“Gary Noland [’s] ... two-disk collection of postludes and interludes ... is a fully realized tour de force and a major artistic statement. Any fan of classical and contemporary piano music is likely to find something delightful or intriguing in this ambitious collection, but it should find special favor among aficionados of late 19th and early 20th century composers as varied as Strauss, Schoenberg and Satie. From brittle waltzes to restless pantonal excursions to cheeky pastiches, this well-crafted survey showcases Noland’s deep appreciation for—and occasional ironic takeoffs from—the work of the masters, not to mention some thrilling piano playing by the composer himself.”
—BRETT CAMPBELL, EUGENE WEEKLY
“Yo-Yo found the piece very melodic.”
—CRISTIN CANTERBURY, office of cellist Yo-Yo Ma
“Sheer genius!!!! Move over Bach!!!!!”
—ALFRED WATSON, American composer & pianist
“As before, the finale, another excerpt from Noland’s mischievous magnum opus, Venge Art, brought most of the musicians on stage to interject musical accents (often twisted quotes of famous music) while Maddox narrated a satirical monologue that started with the Unabomber’s comments on modern music and proceeded to skewer pedants, ‘cacademic [queerial] composers, [die- heroic] deflections of Hollyweird and Oddway composers,’ and other ripe sausage of pop culture and 20th century music ... funny ... engaging.”
—BRETT CAMPBELL, EUGENE WEEKLY
“Gary Noland is the Richard Strauss of the 21st century”
—GUILLERMO GALINDO, post-Mexican experimental composer, sonic architect, performance artist & visual media artist
“Gary Noland is a composer to end all composers ... his attitude is not subtly disestablishmentarian, and you’d better enjoy it ... Some of the sounds are amusing, but the music is sort of deliberately annoying, both in sonority and in mood—deliberately uninspired, almost to the point of inspiration. From Bach to rags to whatever, Noland seems determined to annoy as many people as he can, in an amusing way. He is clearly an angry guy but witty. If the idea of deliberate lack of originality purveyed in an atmosphere of political incorrectness appeals to you, here, in no uncertain terms, it is. Titles such as ‘Spray Taint’, ‘Dog Duo’, and ‘Insurrection of the Office Slaves’ give the mood, while the title tune [‘Royal Oilworks Music’] is the real purpose of the Bush administration, as explained in the notes...”
—DAVID MOORE, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
“Yr work makes me think about music—what it is, why it is what it is and what shd it be? which is the highest praise.” —JOSEPH FENNIMORE, American composer & pianist
“...Frank Zappa kicking Phillip Glass’s ass...”
—BRENT WILLIAMS, Barbati’s Pan, Portland, Oregon
“Composer Gary Noland is possessed of a rich musical imagination, whose technique distills the achievements of Reger, Strauss and Schoenberg but also refracts their post-romantic/expressionist tendencies through the lens of twenty-first century post- modernism, American style. Moreover, he fits Stravinsky’s definition of a great composer: one who doesn’t merely steal, but knows what to steal. This Noland does with a wit and aplomb unique to the music of our time.”
—IRA BRAUS, pianist, musicologist, Professor of Music, The Hartt School
“...Massive ... mammoth...”
—THE EUGENE REGISTER GUARD
“...Superb Improvisation in ‘Teatime in Purgatory’ ... a dramatico-musical event for narrator, piano improviser and pantomimists ... Often challenging, frequently whimsical and consistently intriguing, this novel combination of performance elements simultaneously offers entertainment and food for thought. The commentary, with its sardonic tone, ranged from the petty unraveling of human ties over trivial differences to Kafkaesque depictions of troubled souls in morbid circumstances. At intentional odds with the commentary were quaint, light-hearted and even silly pantomimed events, including the polishing of invisible furniture and toying with colored goop that drip-dangled from performer's fingers. Serving as a constant commentary on the narration (delivered with cogency and flare by actor Opal Louis Nations) were three glazed doughnuts suspended from the front of the podium by strings. Carrots hung by their tops from a curved microphone extension for the duration of the performance. What was most impressive about the event was the piano improvisation of composer Gary Noland ... He proved himself both virtuosic and unassuming at the keyboard, and his improvisation alternately complemented or contrasted with the narration. It was a highly listenable and intelligently crafted blend of modern classicism, neo-romanticism and cabaret.”
—ROCKY LEPLIN, THE BERKELEY VOICE
—ELEONORA BECK, SFORZANDO
“...I believe that Gary Noland's Rags should be immortalized in piano roll form.”
—DICK ZIMMERMAN, RAG TIMES
“I think them all a fine and altogether remarkable accomplishment. With a splendid breadth of musical culture, you have melded diverse references into a unique expressive cohesion. Many minutes of music total, and I was never bored, remaining consistently amused and delighted. It is not unlike yr prose ... Grateful to you for having sent them and for all the mental stimulation and aural pleasure they provided ... The Geist of yr work, Interludes particularly, is presently largely restlessness, with continual abrupt twists and turns: incongruities made congruous by the frequent violence of their juxtapositions and the force of yr personality, which I think you have turned into a language with quite possibly just the right response and vocabulary to most highly represent in art-music our jaded time with its 2 second media cuts, continual technical bombast and generally enervating over stimulation.”
—JOSEPH FENNIMORE, American composer & pianist
“Hi, Gary, ... received the postludes. I love them. I use them all the time on Classical Faire ...You’re the best.”
—JOHNNA ZIMMERMAN, Director of Music, KEDT/KVRT, Corpus Christi, Texas
“...masterpiece! ... We recommend Mr. Noland’s music for anybody who desires the witty and unexpected approach to the Ragtime idiom.”
—L. DOUGLAS HENDERSON, ARTCRAFT STUDIO NEWSLETTER, Wiscasset, Maine
“Right up my alley.”
—JOEL KRUTT, PUSHING THE ENVELOPE, WHUS-FM, Storrs, Connecticut
"… this work's [VALEDICTION for piano, Op. 72, No. 24] fantasy levitates to those dizzy heights where only the finest piano music by the great composers resides. How so? By fearlessly pushing at tonality's boundaries in a hyperlyrical unfolding of linear poetry... the ingratiating decorum and grace of the most intimate salon is present, however-- it is related in a super-compact density of strictest fugue, a feat in itself that occurs only so very rarely, and especially in such sustained flight.…"
—ERNESTO FERRERI, American composer
“...not exactly a ‘potted plant in a hotel lobby,’ Gary Noland’s Venge Art is to classical music what rap is to heavy metal.”
—DAVID DENNISTON, composer, writer
“I’ll never get it up to tempo, but I’d like to try Grande Rag Brillante which I heard on KPFA today ... I loved it...”
—DOROTHY BRYANT, novelist, playwright, winner of the American Book Award
“The most difficult ragtime piece of all time is Gary Noland’s ‘Grande Rag Brillante’ ... The audience needs to have Attention Hyperabundance Disorder. (It’s fine if, like me, your idea of a nice short little piece is a tone poem by Richard Strauss.)”
—MARK LUTTON, pianist
“Milstein, Olson, violinist Casey Bozell and clarinetist Christopher Cox captured the quirky charm of Gary Noland’s engagingly off-center 1994 setting of Jonathan Swift poems, Women Who Cry Apples, the musical equivalent of John Tenniel’s famous
Alice in Wonderland illustrations.”
—BRETT CAMPBELL, OREGON ARTSWATCH
“A stairway to paradise in inflatable shoes! I love it!”
—ANTONIO CELAYA, composer
“I'm fascinated by your variations ... Richard Strauss would have loved it.”
—JED DISTLER, composer, pianist
"…your set [Variations Op. 98] seems to be idiomatic Noland, and stretches to the uttermost limits for all the german school there is a component of serious contemporary harmonic usage … I do know you have got major gifts … Strauss, Claire de Lune, Habanera … imaginative, unflinchingly cerebral, very exhaustive, compressed, a great set inspired by the Diabelli and Goldberg, certainly repertory, the Rzewski has nothing on this … should be played by a major artist a transcendental pinnacle…"
—ERNESTO FERRERI, American composer
“Gary Noland’s admirably concise Trio for flute, viola and cello swerved from late romantic angst to bucolic tango in a deliciously loopy staggering dance, that ultimately reminded me a bit of Ravel’s deconstruction of classic waltzes, La Valse.”
—BRETT CAMPBELL, OREGON ARTSWATCH
“...I got a kick out of the whole package, form the autobiography to the parable [“No Infair” Op. 74] to, of course, your wonderful music! ...”
—TED SOHIER, Host of “Afternoon Classics,” WQED-FM, Pittsburgh, PA
“A masterful piece.”
—ERNESTO FERRERI, composer
“Very beautiful music. Felicitations to the composer ... Greetings from Québec.”
—JEAN CHATILLON, composer
“Gary Noland's cacophonous Café Ritardando was a puckish exercise in musical bedlam. Bits of Mozart and Strauss collided with six soloists, who were cued by the conductor with flash cards to sing their nonsense text like a ‘valley girl,’ or ‘operatic,’ ‘macho’ or with ‘German accent,’ while the audience was instructed to make noises like a chicken, pig or sheep.”
—D.L. GROOVER, HOUSTON PRESS, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
“Gary, I love the CDs ... I think you’re doing fabulous stuff!!”
—CHARLES AMIRKHANIAN, sound poet & radio producer
“...will probably not interest purists who prefer their ragtime undiluted by outside influences and free of modernisms ... Gary Noland's music is complex, technically daunting stuff far beyond the reach of many pianists...”
—BUTCH THOMPSON, THE MISSISSIPPI RAG
“...Series founder, Gary Noland, incorporated children’s toys, like those gadgets you turn over and they sound like a cow’s moo, into a chewy gumbo he called Quaalude, Tabloid & Bug for piano and junk. The odd piece opened and closed in an edgy modern style with Noland tearing at the piano while playing with the toys, yet the gorgeous center section was surprisingly lush and would have found a home in an earlier era.”
—FRED CRAFTS, KUGN’S CRITIC AT LARGE, Eugene, OR
“...He walks with assurance through the treacherous landscape of late tonality and early post-tonality (e.g. Strauss)...”
—PAYTON MACDONALD, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
“GARY NOLAND delivers a feast for thought in banquet-size portions that would take a week-long festival to consume in entirety—a magnum opus beyond comprehension, to be sure, a movable feast for the ear and mind; whatever musical ingredients are at hand get seized and thrown by the bucketful into the stew that is Venge Art; years in the making and many more before fully realized, the concoction is well on its way to attaining mythical stature, not unlike the vat and loaf that multiplied to feed a multitude, seemingly without end”
—JACKIE T. GABEL, NORTH PACIFIC MUSIC
“Gary, you ought to be no less famous than Chic Corea one day! Kick asssss mannn!! ... You and I have a common sense of musical humor, which comes out very well in this septet of yours. It makes me giggly listening to it! ... I dig it, just like everything you do! Perfectly fitting visuals too! ... I hope it gets played in some heavy Bach festival somewhere like Germany someday! I’d like to see some people walking off in the middle of it, disturbed and offended, while others—like me—remaining giddily entertained. Controversy is good for you, you know. After that more people will start checking-out your music! All the great masters have offended the closed-minded throughout the past, as you well know! Father Bach was dismissed as too contrapuntal during the time of his sons, Beethoven and Chopin got criticized for being too dissonant, Rachmaninov's 1st symphony got likened to the “ten plagues of Egypt”! Your place is among them! And your experiment would make great course material, for students to study and come-up with their own experiments along similar lines. It would prove immensely useful, skill-boosting...”
—TC HAKAN ALI TOKER, Turkish composer, pianist
“...Schubert on steroids!”
—LENNY CAVALLARO, American composer, author, pianist
“This shows consummate pianist[ic] and compositional skill. It is not at all easy to do this as well. The result is, of course, a musical collage (by which I don’t mean to trivialize the improvisation), covering music styles from C.P.E. Bach through Mendelssohn...”
—ROBERT MORRIS, Professor of Composition, Eastman School of Music
“This piece is fantastic! Certainly the work of a ‘musician's musician’. The B strain is my favourite part, with its tongue-in-cheek closing phrase that modulates chromatically down to Bb. The rest of the piece develops that device in tremendous and clever ways.”
—MAX KEENLYSIDE, composer, pianist
“Gary Noland is a master of Dadaesque composition ... A delicate balance of incongruity and ridiculousness to tonal beauty engages and captures the listener who will be eager to hear the next phrase.”
“Hats on sideways, ladies and gentlemen: an oddball! Gary Noland is an American pianist/composer of virtuosic skill and humorous outlook. The fifteen keyboard pieces (piano, harpsichord, synthesizer) that fill this 2006 North Pacific CD are melodic, filled with flashes of ragtime and Chopin, vaudeville and Satie. And sometimes they explode into aleatory or acid jazz or salsa, or just collages of blips and yelps. It's especially disconcerting since there are also completely ‘straight’ pieces, like the Bachlike Music is Dead: A Paradox in Fugue. My favorite piece on the CD has to be Ragbones, which starts like a nice, simple rag, then gradually ... grows more slippery until it's changing keys every third bar or so. Marvelous to try to follow. Some other Partchlike titles are Insurrection of the Office Slaves, Psycho-Bacchanal, and Serial Lullaby...” —JIM MOSKOWITZ
“Very impressive ... original and awesome sound.”
—JAKE COSMOS ALLER, STATE DEPARTMENT
“Gary Noland: Last night I spent hours listening to the tracks of your compositions that are available on YouTube and I was totally amazed by them! ... Your works are in a category all by themselves! Dude: You are a MAJOR Composer who should be known worldwide for your musical endeavors in every respect! ... I will continue to delve into your musical library and listen to everything that I can glean from any source that I can locate. Thank you for sharing your talent with us! ... I am grateful to you for creating these compositions! PS: I was ‘Blown Away’ by your ‘Ragtime’ piece ... It floored me! ... I have saved every piece of yours that I have gleaned from your posts! ... I Love these compositions. They are Totally Original in concept. And the fact that they have tinges of Frank Zappa and even Spike Jones, plus others (that are in this idiom in a roundabout way) does not at all dilute your originality or your talent and imagination. As a long time professional working musician, I can truly say that I am absolutely impressed with your Musical Artistry! I truly mean this! And I believe that my 45 years as a Working Professional Musician makes my opinion quite viable! In a ‘Slangy Vernacular’, I will have to say (In a Good Way) that ‘You have got your Shit Together!’”
"Gary Noland's lovably loopy “Ragbones,” which sprinkles quotes (with a sort of W.C. Fields accent) from various Joplin rags and Romantic gestures made a delightful second half opener,…"
—BRETT CAMPBELL, OREGON ARTSWATCH
“...‘Philomathetique’ is a witty trope on the music of Richard Strauss, with characterful motives and abundant quick modulations. ‘Effete Stinkopations’ is a deft, splashy bit of ragtime, while ‘Pickthanks and Prickmedainties’ is a light-hearted romp played at a dizzying tempo and ‘Psychonipptions’ (dedicated to composer Henry Martin) is a send-up of 20th Century French music ... his compelling artistry shines through.”
—CHRISTIAN CAREY, SPLENDID MAGAZINE
“Clever, pretty, and very listenable classical solo piano music. Post-romantic, post-impressionist, with little nods to ragtime and silent movie soundtracks. Resolutely melodic, without pretenses.”
—ALEX DUNN, KZSU 90.3FM, Stanford, CA
“...the product of a very often tonal chromatic style, gentle, but with moments of coyness ... possessed of a cheery quality, sometimes bumblingly good-natured—with forays into sharp dissonance ...”
—RICHARD BINDER, THE NASHUA TELEGRAPH
“Excellent avant-garde stylings. Very entertaining. Whimsical yet serious ... in the footprints of Gershwin, Satie and Nazareth ... Beautifully pianotificated. Aptly entertaining. Bravo.”
—DAVID W. MONTAGUE
"…quirkily charming miniatures “Broom Brigade” and “Blues Flash,…"
—BRETT CAMPBELL, OREGON ARTSWATCH
“The lyrical bent is very fetching here and, even in the passages most overtly derivative of classic ragtime, imparts an endearing, convincing voice at all times.” —DAVID THOMAS ROBERTS, American composer & pianist
“One of the most impressive Composers I've come across in years.”
—RICHARD BYRON STRUNK, composer
“Hauntingly beautiful. You never cease to impress, Mr. Noland.” —MATTHEW BOYLES
“This is fantastic ... Reminds me a little of George Perle or the Robert Helps etudes. Attractive and inventive atonal music!” —JOHN MARTIN III
“I LOVED this music!!!! Be sure I will continue to explore your work.”—CANARY BURTON, Program Host, THE LATEST SCORE, WOMR RADIO 92.1FM, Cape Cod, MA
“...productive, talented, and multi-faceted…"
—ALEXANDER THEROUX, author of DARCONVILLE'S CAT
“...Solo works for piano [Interludes, vol 1]. I enjoyed the album ... a fun listen. Can’t go wrong here ... Spirited ... exciting ... boiling, sometimes frenetic ... dramatic ... Gershwin feel ... intense ... Fun ... dark tension ... Chaotic, turbulent...”
—KZSU FM90.3, Stanford, CA
“...I just finished listening to the second half of the 39 Variations. The work is an astounding tour de force. In its far-reaching, systematic exploration of the theme's creative possibilities, as well as in the inexhaustible imagination you brought to bear, it reminds one of the Goldberg and the Diabelli. But in its monumental dimensions it goes far beyond them both, and in the large number of historical styles referenced and integrated into the work (Beethoven referenced both Bach and Handel in the Diabelli), I am unaware of any parallel. I especially enjoyed the consistent use of certain features of the theme, regardless of the style or the type of tonality, pantonality or atonality employed—among them the melodic turn, the phrases ascending by whole steps, and others. I offer my humble congratulations on a titanic achievement!”
—LUDWIG TUMAN, composer & pianist
"Oh, I like this, Gary, I have a real affinity with the ornamental passages, which help to feed the 19th century sensibility underlying the whole of this very 20th century-forward piece. I read its identity much the way I do some mature but pre-dodecaphonic Schoenberg, whose romantic rhythms followed him throughout his composing life. And, as a waltz composer myself, I instantly find all the more foundation for affection for the inviting nature of the piece. "
—DAVID THOMAS ROBERTS, American composer & pianist
"Just exactly full enough of angst and lovely melody. It sounds as if you are standing on the shoulders of Bruch and Franck and why shouldn't the world have more music like this. Thank you. "
"…Gary Noland’s expressive outsider art illustrations present an amusement park of musical possibilities."
—THE WIRE (November, 2009 issue)
"…I randomly looked into youtube after your name and discovered this jewel [Funeral Waltz, Op. 91], which I never listened to before. While listening, I thought this could have been written by Brahms, a Brahms who loved Chopin and Bach. It is such a beautiful piece, such beautiful and tender harmonies! Every pianist in the world should have it in his (her) repertoire! If you allow me, Gary, I could tell my sincere opinion, that for me, you are the most prominent American composer (of modern classical music) of our times!"
—MARIUS HEREA, Romanian composer
"…Oh yes, here by sticking to your guns-- absolutely one could get kicked out of Northeastern University for "committing" such a work [Liebesschmerz Fuge for piano, Op. 95], esp, in the 70s and 80s before the new age started to soften things up ... to write this way was seen as a snub of aesthetics of the day. It takes courage to stand your ground which shifts beneath or is like quicksand all around ... fellow students/ backstabbers, the professors, judge, jury and executioners, but this finely made work has seen its way into realization despite all that-- fascinating and so glad you're 'home'!"
—ERNESTO FERRERI, American composer
" I love your march! [DEMAGOGUE UNSEATMENT CELEBRATION MARCH for military band Op. 110] Amazing."
—ALEXANDER THEROUX, two-time NATIONAL BOOK AWARD nominee; author of DARCONVILLE'S CAT and LAURA WARHOLIC
"…hardly any piano music gets into the uncharted territory of over an hour... by an hour and 15 I arrived in a universe of wall-to-wall keyboards spinning all around above, below, in front, behind, perhaps a cumulative effect of saturation. .. then a fugue starts up and the entire universe seems to levitate, time dilates and plunges headlong and you find the piece is over and you've been released but the obsessiveness echoes still -- and you realize you have experienced something new ...the gamut of post-Bach composers and techniques is run methodically, ruthlessly: LVB Chopin RStrauss Godowsky et al perhaps even Rzewski? …"
—ERNESTO FERRERI, American composer
"Completely at odds with the dominant opinion on how to approach Diabelli Variations (according to which Beethoven's basic challenge was to achieve irony, paraphrase, and parody), I believe that the cardinal meaning of this music is precisely the opposite: achieving an ecstatic sense of unearthly, yet tender uplifting.
I am, therefore, very grateful to Gary Noland, a prolific and very skillful American composer, who wrote the lines below.
Leaving modesty aside, I must add that Radu Lupu, the Romanian pianist, once told me precisely the same thing. And more recently, the Russian outstanding musicologist Nina Shirokova (Нина Широкова) expressed similar views on my performance in a very engaging (and ongoing) discussion we are having on the ultimate meanings of Beethoven's masterwork. I am truly pleased that my approach is considered worthwhile by musical thinkers I fully respect and trust."
"A poem by the famous poet and novelist Alexander Theroux set to music by the inventive American composer Gary Noland. The sound version proposed on the link below makes you think of the logical-mechanical character of the ideologies and totalitarian realities that Jacob L talk about. Talmon and Hannah Arendt (I suppose in the mind of anyone the name Schicklgruber and Djugashvili automatically send to the two historical figures of sinister memory, personifications - if you can say - of the notion of totalitarianism...) However, Noland's music is not without a certain lyricism, with incursions into both the Soviet and German sphere. In the comment, you can find a link to the American composer's new double CD."
—ANDREI VIERU, Roumanian pianist
In response to TEENY TINY TOILET BOY BRINGS HOME BACON FROM THE BIG BAD CIRCUS BERSERKUS:
"This could be the long lost 4th act of Der Rosenkavalier, in which Octavian and Sophie drop a huge amount of acid."
—JOE MCNALLY, Artistic Director at the HUTCHINS CONSORT
In response to CONFLICTS OF INDIFFERENCE:
"…that is some very cool and very OUT shit!"
—DMITRI TYMOCZKO, Professor of Music, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
LISTED BY AMY'S BOOKSHELF REVIEWS AS THE NUMBER ONE BOOK OF 2018
"Many elements make Jagdlied a unique title that defies easy categorization as a novel, thriller, or other singular genre accomplishment. While it's all of the above, it's also a performance piece, a literary roller-coaster, a "musically and graphically enriched chamber novel", a satire, a work of art, and a psychological striptease. One might not expect the seriously dirty, cruel element of the story line; but this too is one of the many pieces that make Jagdlied fairly indefinable.
First of all, readers should keep a dictionary close at hand. This is no whimsical romp, but holds language that is dense, paradoxical, and satisfyingly educational for readers who fancy themselves wordsmiths: "Appreciating these "fun facts" about our beauteous young demigoddess, our besotted young aristo - the disconsolate, lachrymose, and wretchedly heartsick young wooer publicly known by the sobriquet "Threwer in the Sewer" (whose solo Dutch act, on Melody's behalf, had inspired a wave of solitaires all across the country and abroad) - had written her the following ditty, as a kind of sympathetic ode, if thou wilt, to the aforesaid barb in her side..."
As poetry, black and white and color illustrations, and scathing satirical observation permeate the story of a coddled rich girl's questionable ethical and moral standards, readers will find the complex descriptions, wordplays, and scenarios to be both demanding and entertaining, all in one: "Suffice it to observe here that, seeing as our castigated cokitten found herself arched over in such an impertinently conciliatory posture, this publicly transgressive perscrutation of her backslice didn't unfail to forgo the kankerdort of consternating her profusely." (Note: this book is offered in both color and black and white versions - the black and white one is considerably less expensive.)
By now it should be obvious that this tour de force is a thriller of linguistic acuity designed to delight a genuine aficionado of the English language. From the neo-heroine heiress Melody's position of power and layers of exploitative behaviors to her come-uppance, fostered by those who have suffered her slings and arrows, Jagdlied is at once indefinable because of its mercurial approach and satisfyingly whimsical and unique in its scathing presentations.
Love and hate, revenge and redemption, and a diamond-studded thriller atmosphere that demands much from its readers while rewarding its audiences with a compelling, sassy set of characters and conundrums make for a read that is hard to put down.
Whether it's passive-aggressive behavior in front of a judge or a "commiserable coquette" who falls from grace and finds herself immersed in situations beyond her control, Jagdlied offers a lovely synthesis of graphic illustration, music, and a powerful, satirical hand heavy on the written word that creates a lively romp. Because the author has embedded over a hundred YouTube videos into the text, readers will ideally have their headphones powered up to absorb the musical interludes and references.
Readers will want to allow plenty of time to absorb both its captivating descriptions and the underlying nuances of Melody's encounters in a story that is especially recommended for literary readers of experimental writings and thrillers which are quite a notch above the standard formula fare."
—DIANE DONOVAN, Senior Reviewer of MIDWEST BOOK REVIEWS (April, 2019 edition)
“...a psychological thriller charged with dark humor, erotica, and thought-provoking philosophical questions ... unlike anything I have ever read ... you get immersed and entirely consumed by the events ... a roller-coaster that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Questions and discussions on philosophical topics, life, love, democracy, Marxism, the types of brain, and the struggle of the worker against machinery add depth to the prose. Musically and graphically enriched, the prose was a feast that satiated my mind, eyes, and ears ... an extraordinary reading experience ... Reading this book will take you on an epic visual-auditory adventure, and is bound to keep you glued to your seat till the very end.”
—ONLINE BOOK CLUB
“...monumental ... farcical story evolving around the adventures of a spoiled teenage entitlement princess ... a huge undertaking ... [the author] also composed all of the music and masterfully performs the majority of it ... Perils of Pauline on steroids— modernized, more exaggerated, highly extravagant, and decadent ... lavishly illustrated with drawings that have a sixties Haight- Ashbury summer of love feel to them ... He proves himself a master cartoonist that can create a tapestry of masterfully detailed and storytelling images with an astonishing diversity of style and creativity. There is a satirical edge to most of his drawings that profoundly helps convey the harrowing, tragic, and juicy stories. The book’s inherent drama is expressed vividly in the multitude of graphics that show the characters with unique faces, attitudes, and emotions ... full of villainous cut-throats who masquerade as Melody’s friends ... many comic scenes and eccentric personalities, which play an integral part in both the plot and the theme ... Much of the dialogue is copiously enriched with words that are inventions of [the author’s] ... a colorful cast of characters consisting of eccentrics, beautiful damsels, the unsophisticated and everything in between ... [Landon’s] narrative sweep is so great and so strange that it lends itself readily to graphic depictions and to ... musical accompaniment. His work is masterful, stylistic and complex. This is a huge book ... uniquely entertaining and truly worth experiencing.”
“The author has skillfully crafted a tale of sour love, questionable characters, jealousy and revenge ... told vividly and imaginatively ... a thrilling literary ride through the protagonist’s experiences as a princess whose castle is falling apart by the brick. On one hand, you feel bad for her but on the other you would rather not bother. This quality leaves the reader so gloriously torn between the characters of the book. Not to mention glued to the pages as the story unfolds ... The readers will find themselves quite easily drawn into the story. The unusual tone and a touch of simplicity for the complex plot are welcoming and appealing. They beg the reader to read just one more page. To find out what happens next and then next. The term ‘page turner’ was coined for this book ... To the intrigued reader, beware, this book is quite a dirty sex crazed romp. Conservatives better brace themselves, keep a bible handy, and an open mind because you will hate how much you enjoy the erotic quality of this book. Rarely does a book possess so many winning qualities. Humor, drama, erotica, tragedy and much more. All delivered with expert craftsmanship and a generous dose of thrill ... a very enjoyable and entertaining ride.”
—LITERARY TITAN (WINNER OF THE LITERARY TITAN BOOK AWARD)
“...a multifaceted novel about a wealthy heiress, socialite, and trust-fund diamond-digger debutante named Melody. Intending for Jagdlied to be acted out and enjoyed with the accompanying illustrations and musical scores, Landon’s alter egos—Gary Lloyd Noland and Lon Gaylord Dylan—contributed to Landon's satirical and (aptly) self-described “chamber novel” with symphonic compositions and comic-strip style images. Throughout, Landon writes a narrative that follows Melody, the protagonist and anti- heroine, as she navigates everything from business to broken hearts, and courtrooms to carnivals ... The links to the author’s original music compositions on YouTube are also provided and ... made the scores easy to play on cue. My personal favorite ... was Mumbo Gumbo (Op. 71, No. 1), which gave me the biggest smile ever with a Ragtime meets Flight of the Bumblebee rhythm. Jagdlied is everything it sets out to be and the creative genius of Landon is delivered at full throttle. In short: I loved this book. It’s a wholly unique concept but I was able to grasp it easily and look forward to any opportunity to act this out with my most open-minded friends; those who have the same scruples as myself ... No scruples, whatsoever. Highly recommended!”
—JAMIE MICHELE, READERS’ FAVORITE
“...am flabbergasted ... by the magnitude (bigger than Our Bodies, Ourselves) ... by the multi-media Gesamtkunstwerk ambitions ... by the Joycean wordplay ... exuberant code-switching, diction-mixing, blending of disparate linguistic ingredients into previously unknown harmonies and cacophonies. Like Finnegans Wake or The Anatomy of Melancholy ... I look forward to dipping into it for years to come”
—CHRISTOPHER MILLER (AUTHOR OF "SUDDEN NOISES FROM INANIMATE OBJECTS" & "AMERICAN CORNBALL")
“...creative genius ... unique ... thought-provoking ideas and language ... memorable and enjoyable. I highly recommend this creation as an experience not to be missed!”
“...a thriller novel unlike any other. Its words lead you on a journey that gives a unique literary style ... I was curious and lost within the pages immediately. The plot was complex. Dolly Gray Landon knows how to write in a way that [piques] one’s interest and holds it until the end ... There was a combination of styles poured into this book ... a rich, fun, and ... epic read.”
—URBAN BOOK REVIEWS
“...a work of arts-based literary fiction ... [it] provides the opportunity for artists, creators, performers, musicians and the like to expand on the story and present it in much more theatrical terms. The tale itself is a wild ride where a wealthy young woman finds her undoing, but the plot goes far beyond this single girl, ranging between sick-lit, grotesque, surrealist and absurd themes definitely kept me reading! I think the concept of treating the plot of Jagdlied with a wider artistic series of tools is an excellent idea, and I could certainly see the wild and absurd moments of the story enticing and inspiring spontaneous performance ... a niche read for artists of all kinds looking for something unexpected to create ... an explosive collection of content that will certainly get creative minds going ... not for the faint of heart.”
—K.C. FINN, READERS’ FAVORITE
“...a stunning piece of literature that enthralled, entertained and enchanted me from the very first page! ... will captivate readers from all genres thanks to the many themes that are interwoven between the pages ... brilliant! ... took my breath away ... impossible to put down ... unforgettable ... if you are a reader who is tired of reading the same old books that are lackluster and forgettable then take a chance with this one ... you will not be disappointed! This incredible book gets Five Stars from me!”
—AIMEE ANN, RED HEADED BOOKLOVER
“...a chamber novel that reads like a comic thriller complete with musical sidebars and graphics. The princess, more of a teenage heiress who thinks she is entitled to a huge inheritance, is about to be brought down to earth with a very large bump. Follow Melody on a ... farcical journey as she learns some hard truths about life, love and whatever comes in between ... Jagdlied was one of those ‘oh my gosh!’ books ... entirely colorful and strangely eclectic mix of words ... totally outlandish ... genius ... incredibly complex ... creative ... no denying the cleverness....”
—ANNE-MARIE REYNOLDS, READERS’ FAVORITE
“...Remarkably creative ... simply magnificent ... this is the first ‘chamber novel’ that I've read ... wonderfully put together. The graphics were vibrant and storytelling ... unique and powerful ... I truly never read anything like it before. The story was filled with satire, darkness and embarked many different aspects about life and human behavior. I enjoyed the entire story and how it all came together, making sense of the wondrous mind of Landon....”
—AMY’S BOOKSHELF REVIEWS (listed as the NUMBER ONE BOOK of 2018)
5.0 out of 5 stars—"How can I begin to describe this?"
"The experience of reading this book--and I mean this in a good, thoroughly impressed manner--is like being trapped in a cement mixer with 27 bottles of absinthe and every magazine ever printed (not just the good ones). To say that this book will overwhelm your senses, in every sense of the word senses, and that would be all five senses, plus the senses that we suspect we have but no one has proved the existence of as yet, is another understatement. I read this as a Kindle Book, and I believe Kindle users can download a free sample. That's what I would suggest if there be such samples because it will take a great deal of concentration to read this for its full effect. If you get a sample, multiply by 1,377,203 and you will get a sense of how overpowering this book is. I tip my hat to the author. It doesn't seem possible that a human brain can house this much information, keep it organized, and then process it into a shareable format that is so absolutely entertaining. Kudos! A book like this comes along very rarely, and shouldn't be missed."
—Lawrence Jay Switzer, author of "Sayville Tales"
5.0 out of 5 stars—"a tour-de-force!"
"I've never used the word tour de force in a sentence before and have probably never typed it. But in thinking about how to describe this novel, I had to reach beyond my normal vocabulary! You can absolutely trust that the reviews in the book's description are not hyperbole. It's like nothing I had ever read and I'm constantly consuming literature. This book is as delicious as anything you could possibly feed your mind."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Wow! This was a lot, but worth it."
"This book is not like anything I have ever read. It may well be a modern-day classic. It is a thriller and is full of unexpected twists. It also is very interesting and will consume you. This is much more than a quick read, it'll make you think. Highly recommend."
—Michael L.F. Slavin, author of "One Million in the Bank"
5.0 out of 5 stars "Unparalleled!"
"…Outlandish and satirical, morose and excessive. The first few paragraphs had me chuckling simply for the words. It had me thinking of the 60's in California and the flee flowing pills, and how one would ponder in exuberance, the meaning of life within a petal of a flower.
I was unfortunate enough not to have sound on my computer, so I couldn't enjoy the links to the music in the book, but trust me, the words and drawings are enough for anyone to enjoy. I haven't seen anything like this in any other book I have picked up and I'm greatly pleased to have this in my library for it's uniqueness alone! Bravo to the author for this grandiose work!"
5.0 out of 5 stars "Brilliant, Surreal, and Subversive"
"…a brilliantly and subversively constructed satire … over-the-top … masterfully crafted … you get hooked … clever…"
5.0 out of 5 stars "Couldn't put it down!"
"… I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more books by this author … It was so nicely paced that I couldn't put the book down and managed to ""binge-read"" it well within a day … There are a few plot twists that make it that much more exciting … Dolly Gray Landon has become my absolute favorite author. I recommend this book highly."
"A whimsical piece of literature. This took me on a trip."
"One of the first times when reading I imagined an orchestra of characters flowing in and out of my head. Brace yourself for a roller coaster of a book. This is a deep eccentric book with full of unexpected twists. An intense read but well worth every page."
"Art thou stamin-ambitious enough to take on this head-spinning, ob-skeweringly verbose, indeco-rustically Shakespearean play? Or is it that your love for chaos in word-er is trumped by your clever-sion to matters of dire-onical importance, such as philo-soliloquizing on the nature of braggart-istic expression? Nothing is More by Dolly Gray Landon (a pseudonym and anagram of the author’s real name, Gary Lloyd Noland) is the script for a six-hour play, a satirical black comedy written in doggerel verse. This pun-filled linguistic labyrinth pokes fun at the elitism of the art world and academia while still gracefully tackling large and complex themes in philosophy and aesthetics.
The story is set in a fictional Pimpleton State Luniversity in New Jersey, where six opinionated people with vastly differing perspectives on what constitutes “art” butt heads and form alliances over philosophical arguments. Five of these characters are students in the Luniversity-specific postdoctoral “stool” program, striving for the lucrative “Modigger Prize.” Their areas of research are hyper-specialised and absurdly obscure, including topics such as Pimaeval Linguistics, Feline Transgender Studies, and Astromusicology. The star of the show is a bombastic artist named Phangbang Bonation, a “submicrominimalist,” whose artistic movement of “Nadaism” has revolutionised the art world. Nadaism consists of doing and producing nothing, “nada,” and is touted as not only a legitimate but a prodigiously revolutionary form of self-expression. Two other “stool” candidates, Purvel and Pelvin—disgusted by this fraud being committed on the artistic and academic world—form an elaborate scheme to expose Bonation as the scammer they believe him to be and to make sure that Nadaism becomes simply an unfortunate blip in the trajectory of art history. To complete this six-act story, add a corrupt Beverly Lovebucks (President of the Luniversity and career politician), two distinctly impressionable women whose affections Bonation has captured, a chorus, a musical score, and miscellaneous cats. Do Pelvin and Purvel succeed in their efforts to save art? What dark secrets lie in the Pandora’s box of the art world? What happens when their own theories are put to the test?
In the beginning of the play, I was unsure of what “level of irony” the script was on. I shall explain this further. Some of the wordplay seemed corny and forced (for example: badministrators, unsnobjectively, dustbinstitutionalized, run-of-the-nil, fartistic, greater than the scum of its parts). The characters also seemed wildly caricatured, with Phangbang Bonation in particular exhibiting obscene and unsophisticated behaviour that was so over the top that it was more confusing to read than funny. There was also a lot of overtly derogatory sexual content. For these reasons, I was not sure whether the author intended that the satire be unsubtle, whether this lack of subtlety was part of the satire, or whether this tension between subtlety and lack thereof was another intended element of the satire. The story started off seeming as though the author was just relentlessly and remorsefully vilifying academia and the art world, dragging it down and dismissing it as silly without offering any possibility of redemption. However, as the plot twisted on and loose strings tied up, the author created a beautifully nuanced unfolding of events. Different aspects of previously unidimensional characters were exposed to create more balanced and less unequivocal philosophical explorations. Some profound questions were provoked apropos the meanings of beauty, originality, destruction, and creation. The narrative had a merciless logical incisiveness to it, but less readily visible was the gentle ethical questioning behind it that tied the whole piece together. During the course of reading the script, the rating I wanted to give the book was constantly fluctuating in my mind, finally settling on a solid 4 out of 4 stars after initially wanting to rate it 2 stars.
The author has an incredible grasp of language and wielded it masterfully, filling the script with deft puns and word mashups. Even the descriptions (parts of the piece that don’t have to actually be performed) have clever wordplay. The juxtaposition of Shakespearean language and blatant, sleazy vulgarity set the stage for clever and entertaining contrasts. The author was very thorough in laying out a comprehensive and well-structured plan for the six acts, including detailed stage setups, colour schemes, costumes, and body language. The musical scores also seem to be very complex pieces.
Funnily enough, it was difficult to identify typos because I was unsure whether a word was spelled wrong or whether it was wordplay so skilful I just didn’t understand it. The editing was quite professional, and I only caught a couple of errors. However, one non-grammatical confusion I had was why Pimpleton was sometimes the “Luniversity” and sometimes the “adversity.”
One potential issue is that a lot—if not most—of the linguistic details might get lost during the actual performance of the play. This applies especially to small words that aren’t in otherwise particularly interesting sentences, such as saying “snuffice” instead of “suffice.” Another potential issue is that the entire script is a string of twisted-up words, heavy philosophical concepts, and multiple levels of meaning. Somebody who isn’t exceptionally abstract in thought or invested in art philosophy might become bored or fail to hang on to the multiple threads of theory, especially if it is being watched and not read. There is a lot to be processed in terms of theoretical material, and I believe the audience might not get enough time to digest all the concepts it if they watch it live.
I wish I knew what kind of audience the author was looking to target. From what I’ve seen, this piece most probably has an extremely niche audience. I loved this play only because I am heavily into art history and I enjoy clever wordplay. I would have also probably not have enjoyed this play as much if I had watched it instead of reading it. I would only recommend Nothing is More to people who have some background in the philosophy of aesthetics and enjoy following numerous metaphysical threads at once. I would also recommend this only to audiences over eighteen due to the graphic content."
—ONLINE BOOK CLUB
"...Some of the longer sections of dialogue had much philosophical meat on them and some fascinating insights into the way we view and cherish the opinions of 'artists' and 'experts,' often at the expense of our own common sense or gut feelings ... In many ways I was reminded of a much more extreme FlashHeart from Blackadder, morphing to the extreme pragmatism and cynicism of Blackadder himself ... 'and now for something completely different!'"
--Grant Leishman, READERS' FAVORITE
"Nothing is More: A High Black Comedy in Verse with Music for Six Actors demands much from its readers, who ideally will be drama students with a penchant for satire, verse, and the outrageous. Anyone expecting a staid story or a typical outline of dramatic form is in for both a revelation and a treat, because Nothing is More delights in the unexpected, from blatant and ribald sexual explorations to archaic and whimsical explorations of college courses as odd as Feline Transgender Studies.
In other words: toss any expectations out the window and settle back for a challenging but unique, rollicking ride as Dolly Gray Landon romps through academia and social inspection with an eye to probing the roots of artistic and social revolution alike.
Ideally, this play will be performed, but a six-hour production is a lot to commit to, for most theatres. College students and avant garde stages will be more likely to undertake the production of this complex story, knowing that an audience of literary-minded social scientists will be highly appreciative of both the literary achievement of putting together a six-hour production entirely in verse, and the story's focus on personality clashes, cultural and religious references, and sexual and social revelation.
It should also be mentioned that no group is immune, here. Landon pokes fun at and makes pointed observations of just about everything in this circle, which holds as much potential for offense as it does insight.
The result is a well-crafted, complex, dramatic work that will gain attention not just from innovative drama students and producers, but from readers of plays, who will find it delightfully quirky and whimsical in its creative, complex inspection of the evolution of dogmas and schemes in the art world. "
—DIANE DONOVAN, Senior Reviewer of MIDWEST BOOK REVIEWS (July, 2019 edition)
"Nothing is More by Dolly Gray Landon is an outlandish play, consisting of six main characters, that takes place at Pimpleton State Luniversity. Yes, we did spell university “Luniversity,” and, in fact, many words in the play are cleverly altered to better fit the play’s theme and bring clarity to the emotions or perspective of the moment. The main protagonist is a character by the name of Phangbang Bonation who is an adherent to “Nadaism,” an artistic and philosophical counterculture experiment that discards all contemporary culture and politics. The true adherents to this movement even had their Nadaist Manifesto read from a roll of toilet paper by poet Gonzalo Arango. Phangbang Bonation has revived this artistic movement with his minimalist artistry that consists of nothing. Yes, he offers nothing, much like some of the new music offerings that are foisted on today’s masses that lack instrumentation or talented vocalists. Like real life, Bonation’s illusory works are extolled by the critics and lauded by the masses. The praise and notoriety he receives for his nonexistent work disturbs Pelvin Penisovich and Purvel Schlignatz, his stool degree candidate contemporaries. Phangbang Bonation is also guilty of frivolously stealing the hearts of the girlfriends of Pelvin and Purvel, adding to their angst. Bonation’s actions prompt the two to join together in a plot to expose Bonation as a fraud. How do they go about this task and are they successful…?
The play is BIG; estimated time for the production is six hours. Landon provides music scores that are written to play as an accompaniment to the reading of his play and has produced numerous pieces that are available on YouTube that would be played during the actual production. One piece is called “Pornomusik” (Op. 48). It is a piece with discordant sounds woven into the music. You hear a dog barking and various voices, some using expletives. Landon’s music is as avant-garde as his writing. This six-act play is a bit bawdy and often is making fun of numerous beliefs and customs that society foolishly embraces.
There is a great deal of poetry in the words Landon delivers in his work. An example of such is:
’Tis a virtual quest for the Holy Grail.
I study the telltale behavioral signs
In clutters of cute, cuddly young felines
To ascertain which sex has the stoutest of spines.
’Tis the tarnal question of what makes the female versus the male...and then some.
My experiments have shown an incontestably conclusive outcome.
Namely: by reversing the sexual role-playing patterns in nubile young pussies,
I've managed to demonstrate, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that male cats are the wussies.
Suffice it to say that these rigorous experiments
Involve a level of complexity.
Such that my tempts to expound them to thee
Would only ingrowth thy perplexity.
It’s obvious from the sample above, that Landon has a fondness for the use of some archaic words like “tarnal,” to embellish his play. In fact, much of the verbiage used, such as “tarnal,” gives the play a ring of a piece from the 18th century but at the same time addresses contemporary issues. Landon has penned another enormous and somewhat complicated theatric treat that once again showcases his brilliance."
D. HEARNE, AUTHORSREADING
"...a mix between Shakespeare and Joe Dirt ... uniquely written ... hard to put down ... fast pace ... unusual environment ... unique."
--Anthony Elmore, READERS' FAVORITE
"This physiological thriller is amusing and engaging right from the start. Act one introduces us to the characters, all of which I found interesting but one more particularly so was Purvel Schlignatz. He’s a graduate student who is focused and open-minded, but gets convinced to do things that he sometimes does not subscribe to … The drama and romance blended easily and were equally entertaining … Dolly Gray Landon’s story is exciting … and filled with characters with quirky names having engaging conversations. I … got to learn a few new words, as the jargon used by the Stool candidates was compelling … Everything from the plot, literary stylistic devices used, character and writing style were excellent. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading plays and wants to enjoy a good story. Keep a dictionary handy as this story will surely increase your vocabulary.
Wealth, power, the socialite life, education, relationships, and peer influence are some of the themes covered in the book. The author’s sense of humor is subtly apparent throughout and serves to deliver a larger satirical story that kept me laughing, entertained, and quickly flipping pages."—LITERARY TITAN
"... philosophically challenging work ... As many conspire to rebuke ... and uncover the nonsense artist for what he truly is, the schemes take twists and turns to a startling and unusual climax ... Students of both art and philosophy are sure to get a lot out of the ideas discussed by playwright Dolly Gray Landon ... for those who appreciate a critical challenge with plenty of dark laughter, ... sure to bring smirks to lips ... recommended as a powerful intellectual work for a select audience."--K.C. Finn, READERS' FAVORITE
5.0 out of 5 stars "Dark, twisted, satirical, ironic and marvelous!!!"
"This book had me laughing HARD from the first page to the last. I can't get enough. If this book got transformed into a play near me, I would definitely go watch it now. Do yourself a favor and check out this book!"
5.0 out of 5 stars "Wonderfully weird"
"The book is written extraordinarily, it's hard to explain, but the writing is brilliant. I loved the story, and the characters are so entertaining. I would recommend this book to everybody because it's quite unique, wonderful, and one of the most amazing books I have ever read."
—BRANSLAV BOJCIC, author of "I Hate My Brother"
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hilarious!"
"Nothing is More is a masterpiece. It is a play, so reading it is like reading any other play. You have to use your imagination. I would love to see this come to life on the stage."
5.0 out of 5 stars "An amazing comedy"
"A real joy filled with dark humor and irony. With a lot of skill, the author has put together a sophisticated comedy where there is music, poetry and very clever dialogues. It is certainly a unique project. After reading it, I hope to see it performed live in a theater or an art house."
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Hilarious and Imaginative Journey"
"First and foremost, this work is a screenplay for the stage, so the formatting is different. Because of this, it goes into detail describing props and costumes before getting into the story.
Following the journey of a poor man who goes on to get his higher degree (called a 'stool'), because quite frankly, his last one was professed to be useless, this story satirizes how we spend so much time and money achieving nothing as we pursue other wonderfully unproductive things. You'll watch Purvel grapple with the most ridiculous concept, "Nadiasm", producing nothing whatsoever. It may sound familiar to those struggling with the state of today's education. With a heavy mix of imagination and satirizing of the non-nonsensical aspects of education, this play shocks, confuses, and makes you laugh on a whole other level. In other words, this is an unashamedly unique piece of work. The vocabulary is so wide and so imaginatively made-up that it can a be a much more difficult read than seeing it happen on stage. In fact, you'll want to see it on stage because the cast of characters is colorful as well. A man who plays a woman named President Beverly Lovebucks is a good example. Even the names of characters and things have been touched with this manic genius. You have Purvel Schlignatz and the Modigger Prize Snubcommittee. You have Phangbang Bonation and Dronah Stackbut. Yet it's mixed with very real words that you never hear such as, 'Bespeaks a peculiar distemper.' It's nonsense humor meets a more complicated brand of humor, and it does it well. I'd give more exact examples but I'm not sure what Amazon would do to the review, so I'll let you guess.
This will definitely appeal to those who are struggling in their own fight against Nadiasm."
"Unique, verbose and witty."
"Oh my, what to say about this extraordinary outpouring of creativity and ...words....This is a theatrical text on speed, a bonanza of ideas, a linguistic outpouring, -tackling questions of aesthetics, philosophy, and what constitutes an authentic form of creative expression.... doing just that, -creating an authentic artistic expression, indeed!
This is a dark comedy of the mind. Intellect and wit are the main ingredients for this play, mostly leaving emotions and human contact off stage. I applaud the creativity and the scope of the writing.…"
5.0 out of 5 stars "I loved the creativity"
"Nothing is More is unlike any book I've read. Yes it was well written with a good story and developed characters, but it also was presented as a musical with imaginary costumes and a poetic verse. Worthy of five stars."
—NEIL PERRY GORDON, Author of SADIE'S SIN and A COBBLER'S TALE
5.0 out of 5 stars "A black comedy at its best"
"I really enjoyed this one … It shows a great talent when it comes to words and expressed ideas, and I would love to see the play if it materializes one day."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Great Satire"
"I love the dark comedy aspect of this piece … Very funny."
5.out of 5 stars "A Work of Unique Creativity"
"I give this 5-Stars for its unique creativity, which I look upon as a stroke of genius. This work requires patience as you read through it, but rewards the reader with wit, an interesting storyline, and humor. There is a philosophical message as well. If the play comes out, I will be first in line to see it!"
—WILLIAM N. WEISS, Author of "The Deserving"
5.0 out of 5 stars "Noteworthy"
"This work is an impressive display of talent and hard work. Some of the reviewers completely fail to recognize the sheer amount of skill that goes into a complex piece like this, and really, that just reveals their own inexperience. The author can rightly be very proud of this work, and I would not be surprised to see it in active production very soon. It is fun, energetic, and contemporary with twangs of classical playwriting."
"A play with a dark sense of humor"
The story of six people all with wildly different ideas on what constitutes art butt heads trying to prove their own perspective to be the right one. Crazy hi-jinks, music, and dark humor abound … this is a fun read … if you like dark comedies and plays in general.…
5.0 out of 5 stars "A bit laborious but good"
"I am giving it a 5 star because of the skill it takes in writing a piece like this and actually doing it well. I must admit, I haven't really read a script for a play like this before, and can't help but feel it would do the tale more justice to actually see it performed live. There were some humorous parts, for sure, and most of the characters were well-developed. Maybe it is just because I am not used to reading things in this format, but I did have a little trouble at times and there were parts were it was a bit wordy and the flow was interrupted. Still, if you are good at visualizing what you read, and enjoy reading scripted-format/plays, give this is a read. Like I said, I gave it a 5 star for skill and story, but feel it would make a very entertaining play should someone ever adapt it. I would go see it."
5.0 out of 5 stars "A brilliant play"
"This play forms a humorous and enjoyable work to read …admirable … The author's irreverence … comes across vividly. The poetry … is easy to read and comprehend. The names of the characters are comic, and they come alive in …descriptions and dialogues … some scenes … are risqué … I enjoyed reading every word of the play."
5.0 out of 5 stars
"… hilarious … this can be, and … should be, staged as a commercial play."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Unique and masterful"
"I really enjoyed this … if the play comes out, I want to see it … Dark comedy at its best."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Unique and engaging"
"Once I got through the intro and into the guts of the play ... I was hooked. This is a fun—yet there are layers here that make this a very satisfying read."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Funny Read"
"… great, funny read that is a refreshing change of pace."
—DAVID AND CHRISTINE
"… avante garde stylings … wit and humor, loads of tongue in cheek laughs and rhymes galore for what I'm sure would be a fantastic live performance.…"
—DAVID J. WEST, Author of "Cold slither"
"… delightfully over-the-top characters and … dark humor …"
5.0 out of 5 stars "Actually made me laugh; immensely enjoyed it!"
"I'm a fan of complex comedy, but sometimes it fails to make me laugh as much as dark/simple humor. Luckily, this script has both and it entertains your sophisticated side as well as your more human side. I found myself actually enjoying it immensely, and I'd love to see it acted out. To those who complained about the long 'intro', that's literally how a script works. Stage managers have to understand how to set up the stage as well as actors and director knowing the direction of the show."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Highly Imaginative Black Comedy"
"This is definitely a unique project. The play comes complete with music scores and precise characterizations and descriptions of costumes, etc. The dialogue is not everyday, common prose, but uses a highly imaginative rhyming format. The author estimates the play would be about 6 hours in duration if it is staged. If you enjoy dark humor, you will enjoy this comedy."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Well Done"
"I picked up the book because I was curious to read a musically enriched novel. The is literally a composed masterpiece. It entertained me from the very first page. Instantly I was transported into another time period where the author used vivid imagery coupled with poetically stunning verses to help me visualize each character and their surroundings. The author used just the right blend of humor and satire. Kudos and well done."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Impressive"
"A fantastical read that would make an imaginative live performance. A must read."
5.0 out of 5 stars
"… very creative and unique book … rewarding … enjoyable … would recommend this book."
5.0 out of 5 stars "good read"
"The book contained humorous dialogue and i also enjoyed the scathing critique of the art world and the academy!"
5.0 out of 5 stars "Funny"
Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2020
"Well-written and funny. I would recommend it."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Fun!"
"I truly enjoyed the wit and humour throughout this play. Would love to see it performed live."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Entertaining"
"This is a comically satirical play in verse with notated and pre-recorded musical segments.I absolutely loved this book. Great rainy Sunday read."
5.0 out of 5 stars "Unique and engaging!"
"Unique and engaging! Once I got through the intro and into the guts of the play... I was hooked.
This is a fun - yet there are layers here that make this a very satisfying read."
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