With cinematic melodies, surf guitar, spy soundtracks, Appalachian fiddling, lush string arrangements, knee-slapping banjo, country ballads, eastern modes, 4-part vocal harmonies, Mariachi flair and a heavy jazz influence, the new Japonize Elephants album is an inimitable take on the modern American experience. Songs about space travel, Publisher’s Clearing House, pirates, buses, whiskey, and dancing in the fast lane intermingle with instrumental numbers showcasing highly developed melodic and harmonic vocabularies. The sound is twisted and ambitious yet instantly recognizable, the result of nearly 20 years of collaborative experimentation.
When not performing with Radio Lab, Beats Antique, Donovan, Aaron Freeman (Ween), Feist, or John Vanderslice, the members of Japonize Elephants are hard at work conjuring an ensemble at once absurd and profound. Influences merge and diverge—the Stanley Brothers meet Zappa, the tenor sax meets the glockenspiel… and invite junk percussion, vibraphone, accordion, guitar, bass, flute, saxophones, trumpet, violin, banjo, and vocals to the fiesta. The Elephants’ talent runs as deep as the group’s instrumentation is diverse, steeped in the band’s long history and journey from Bloomington, Indiana to the coasts.
“Listening to The Japonize Elephants is like being at a supersonic hillbilly hoedown that has mysteriously been transplanted into a Transylvanian cartoon,” says the Denver Post. Blink and you’ll think you’re back in the orchestra of a French circus, with Mingus and Willie Nelson sitting in.
released November 15, 2012
Sylvain Carton: guitar, vocals, alto sax, bass clarinet, bari sax, tenor sax (9, 17), flute (2, 3, 5)
David Gantz: junk percussion, vocals
Michael Mellender: bass, vocals, trumpet (2, 16), percussion (16), typewriter banjo (10)
Jason Slota: vibraphone, glockenspiel, vocals, Hill Peopre Choir Director
Dina Maccabee: violin, vocals
Mitch Marcus: tenor sax, piano, vocals (13)
Megan Gould: violin
Jeremy Baron: banjo
Charles Ferris: trumpet (3, 5, 6, 10, 13, 17)
Chris Hiatt: flute, tin whistle, slide flute (4, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18)
Marié Abe: accordion (2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 13, 16, 17), phone conversation
Isabel Douglass: accordion (3, 5, 9, 18)
George Ban-Weiss: upright bass (3, 9, 12, 14)
Evan Farrell: bass (7, 18), vocals (18, 19)
David Phillips: pedal steel (3, 7, 12)
Michael Abraham: electric guitar (5)
Jean-Paul Carton: hurdy-gurdy (17)
Mouzhan Yousefi-Carton: vocals (1)
Sarah Marcus: whistles (10)
Hill Peopre Choir: choir vocals, special guest Josh Jacobson
All songs written by Japonize Elephants except for Star Dust (Carmichael/Parrish)
Recorded at TZME Studios and The House of Cubes
Produced by Sylvain Carton and the Japonize Elephants
Recording engineer: Sylvain Carton
Additional recording by Scott Theakston and Michael Mellender
“The New Birthday Song” recorded live at the Starry Plough on 12/20/2007 by Alan C. Miller
All tracks mixed by Scott Theakston and Sylvain Carton except for Stardust (Tom Lattanand)
Mastered by J.J. Golden at Golden Mastering
Artwork and layout: David Gantz
Photography: Jeremy Baron
Sylvain Carton and Mitch Marcus play Vandoren reeds, mouthpieces, and ligatures.
Special thanks to all of our families, Emperrq Hampf, Zozzy the Fozz, Red Spumante Boy, Lil Dee Es, This is Yer Brainz on Fiddle, A. Forcefield, Kerly on Fiddle, Mexican Yeremünchski, Chaz Fables, Schmeeglewop, Wasabi Tefab, Mitzie Tefab, He’s a Boy Boy George, Hot Doggie Boy, The String King, Mic from LA, Pa Zorlock, The Empress of Zorlock, B. Forcefield, Ex’pression College, Anne Hiatt, Ezra Gale, He’s a Boy Boy, Lady Tefab, Kamala Sankaram, Joey Rubber, and all of those who have helped us make this music.
© 2012 Japonize Elephants