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New works in the art department at the Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library (Exclusive Track!) @ Out of the Blue Gallery - 9/14

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson  September 11, 2012 11:50 PM

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Inspiration is a funny thing in that it's entirely subjective. Surely classical cathedrals inspired the Sagrada Familia. That much we know.


Thumbnail image for barcelona-cathedral-outside-2010.jpg
However, what if chocolate ice cream inspired the atomic bomb?

Maybe Oppenheimer was eating a cone on his way to the office and the tasty scoop inspired him to change the course of history.


This brings us to the case of the famous Michael J. Epstein, who must have done something really great in order to have a memorial library named after him (ok, it's a band, and Epstein is in it). Epstein and company have undertaken a curiously cool project whereby they have worked with five local artists to create new illustrations and songs based on one another's work. The final results of these complex collaborations (read on for details) will be unveiled at an EP/art release show tomorrow (Friday) at Cambridge's Out of the Blue Gallery.

The artists getting some much deserved love in this instance are Walter Sickert, Krystilyn - Zombie Romance, Raúl Gonzalez, Dug McCormack and Craig Maher. Each of these artists took an existing Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library track ("Stranger," "Holy Ghost" and "Amylee" from their debut record, Volume 1; "Faith in Free Part III" from their Faith in Free EP and their popular live track "Violin") and made an original work of art 'inspired' by the song. Take a look at the pictures below and imagine what Epstein and co's songs must have been about.

In the first one you've got gargoyles trying to talk a teenage girl out of suicide, in the next one you've got a girl bailing her own tears out of a see-through boat. Then you've got a door guarded by some totem cubist animals followed by a boy with sheep horns patrolling your city streets. I swear that's what I see, doc! Lastly some kind of creepy insectoid girl wearing a dear skull is leading some cutie fawns through the forest.

Unsurprisingly, this isn't what I hear in the music that inspired these creations--but that's what inspiration is all about.

The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library then in turn wrote 5 new songs based on these works of art. Which if you think about it, means that they basically inspired themselves and got some free drawings out of the deal (the works of art might be for sale at the artist's discretion at tomorrow's show). My favorite new musical creation is "Saint of Glass Worms, which is based on Sickert's illustration in the lower left, which in turn was based on the song "Violin" (you follow?).

Take an exclusive listen to "Saint of Glass Worms here:
The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library - Saint of Glass Worms (inspired by Walter Sickert) by michaeljepstein

"Saint of Glass Worms" is one of those multi-section rock songs that seems to be inspired both by classic psychedelic rock and the futuristic/fantasy/sci-fi direction of Sickert's work (see my piece on Sickert's play, 28 Seeds). The parts are sewn together in a kooky, off-tonic manner that reminds me a little bit of a college folk-pop band trying to make sense of Pink Floyd's "Apples and Oranges." The song begins with a march/procession invoking the "God of War," complete with marshalling flutes and the requisite menacing cello riffs filling out the 5/4 time signature. The second part has Epstein lazily urging you to "take the red pill" as a lazy tom-tom and snare waddles in stereo. The final section has the whole resplendent church organ thing sawing over friendly major chords while a pleasant choir tells us of the "chosen ones" who are "running from the sun" and possibly achieving a state where "peace is deafening." Sooo....take the red pill. Sounds harmless enough!
Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library
Art Exchange Album EP Release Show
(Artists in Attendance)
Out of the Blue Gallery
Friday, September 14th. 8PM
106 Prospect Street, Cambridge MA
The night will also feature acoustic performances by:
Rob Potylo (
Ad Frank (

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About the author

Jonathan Donaldson is a Boston-based musician, writer, and second-generation music junkie. An Ohio native who moved to Boston in 1998, Jonathan's musical loves include R&B, psych, punk, bubblegum, country, electronic, More »

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