Last time round, Chef Menteur were kind enough to begin to take us on a guided tour of their epic new collection, III. Without further ado, here is part 2 of this fascinating insight…
North of Tomorrow & South of Yesterday
…or 64 Slices Of American Cheese And Other Whipped Delights, a companion to East of the Sun & West of the Moon, and never before publicly available… these tracks were recorded at the same time as the tracks on East of the Sun and were originally offered only as a bonus to some upper-level Kickstarter supporters of the double vinyl.
1. Ribbons…: a song we did a bunch live, and this is a live recording in the studio with our good friend Mike Mayfield (who has been in several incarnations of CM in the past) guesting on drums… It’s another one of Dan’s massive banjo riffs, Alec playing Persian-style Farfisa, Brian on bass.
2. Farfisa Duo Raga: Alec got a Farfisa Duo like Rick Wright, and it took awhile to get fixed, and recorded this meditative piece.
3. Omnilab: And now for something completely different! (Alec’s wife Christy got him an Omnichord as an anniversary present.)
4. Terpsichore: This song’s working title was “Jazzy Diano” because Dan played a jazzy riff on the Rhodes, and Alec and Brian joined in quickly with guitar and bass parts, and it just followed. Brian even laid down a 3-part trumpet part, facing the wall because Dan read something in Tape Op magazine about John Fischbach (who mastered this and our earlier albums) recorded Stevie Wonder’s horns that way. The vocal sounds you hear towards the end, were voices Alec surreptitiously recorded on the streetcar near his house, neighborhood ladies talking about buying soft-shell crabs. There are lots of overdubs on this one including an autoharp that we had to figure out how to retune to make the two chords work. We had to make this song shorter to fit on East of the Sun & West of the Moon, but we put the long version on North of Tomorrow & South of Yesterday. Terpsichore is the name of a street in New Orleans, and is also one of the nine Muses.
5. Where Wings Take Dream: An electronic gem straight out of the mind of Brian Abbott using samples of Falstaff speaking in Henry IV, part I or II.
6. [Pastranomy pastranomi]: Left as an exercise for the listener.
7. One Fret Beyond: a jam we played a lot to this Staxxy bassline Brian came up with. This is just a practice space recording and never got the full studio treatment.
[The band also confirmed that the title is a reference to Madness’ ‘One Step Beyond’]
8. The Long Stand (Part I and II): Brian and Alec switch off on the electric sitar on this one. We usually played both parts of this track last on our live set, and was always a great ender no matter how things went before. The voices (heard in Part I) are the dispatcher from a well-known cab dispatcher that Alec recorded from the back seat of a taxi. The vibe of this song is more like older Chef Menteur, songs like “Gilgamesh” which was never released but also featured electric sitar. We had to cut the first part off to fit on East… but we wanted to have the full version on North…
9. Lozenge Jazz Club: see #8 on East… a live practice space jam… very “Night Court”… exploring the boundaries of taste.
10. Sinks of Gandy: A dirgy folky demo on bass and banjo that Brian and Dan put together when Alec was on vacation.. named after a cave in West Virginia.
11. Phallus Marinarus: another practice space jam that we don’t remember playing but people seem to like a lot.
12. The Mamluk Qalandars: a practice song, with Brian on drums (!), Dan on electric banjo and Alec on Moog.
13. Don’t Invite a Centaur To Your Wedding: Brian recorded this through a pair of cheap headphones that he deconstructed and put in the inside of a ukulele
14. Sorry For the Delay: another jam in the practice space, that we joking called “Shiny Happy People” because it was way more upbeat and major key than any other CM song. Mike Mayfield guesting again (he was helping us with live shows at the time), this time on synth. Alec on guitar, Brian on bass, Dan on drums. The title of this song was waiting to be used for an album title (and maybe still will someday), but got attached to this song.
15. Kenny G Goes To Guantanamo Bay: Another song recorded while Alec was on vacation. Dan had the idea that he and Brian would take turns recording tracks, not having heard what was recorded before, and picking the name of the instrument out of a hat. The result was not too different from some Plastic Ono Band tracks.
Force Majeure — previously only available on cassette, lovingly remastered for CD by Josh Warren.
Personnel on this was Alec, Brian and Dan again, but Phil had joined the band in support of live shows dealing with the previous album release and had begun contributing to songwriting new material. On all these songs Brian is on bass, Dan on drums, Phil on guitar, and Alec on guitar and Farfisa. Songs 2-4 were recorded live in 1 or 2 takes at the Living Room, a studio run by Chris George and Daniel Majorie across the river in Algiers, part of New Orleans. All of these songs were part of the live set we came up with in support of East of the Sun….
1. Faeroe: Originally written as an intro to the next song, there’s some melodica, airy vocals a la “I’m Not In Love”…. Nordic and other ambient tones….
2. Pyrymyd Scheme: This song was originally called “Pharaoh”. A lot of people were shocked when they heard this song, … “This is Chef Menteur?” But they weren’t shocked in a bad way. Alec had recorded Phil’s band the Gubernatorial Candidates and Phil had started out playing with us on live shows, then he started working with us on live shows. We definitely moved into a more 1980’s direction, with some Talking Heads guitar and Fela organ influences along with the Clash and the Fall at this point. It also has Brian’s best bass fill of all time, which always makes us smile, especially knowing the situation under which he recorded it. Wait for it!
3. Death Wraith 2000: In rehearsals we called this song “God Fucks Everyone” because the chord progression was GFE. Dan says this is his favorite Chef Menteur song.
4. Surface Tension: A seaworthy sound, riding the waves…. The evening was damp with reverb.
5. This song [Immense Dimension] is 3 in one, in classic prog rock tradition, and Alec wanted it to have three names, like something from Tales from Topographic Oceans. On the recording, as live, Alec switched from guitar to organ and back in one take — the organ part is due to his listening to too many Ethiopian records… Synth drone part is simultaneous overdub with Alec on Korg and Dan on Moog at the Living Room.
III is available to buy here
& visit Chef Menteur on Bandcamp
Huge thanks to Chef Menteur for providing such an in-depth companion!!