A prog concept album based on a fantasy novel. Who ever heard of that?
Back in 2016, I was trying to write a vocal melody and lyrics to a song Cabinets was learning for the first time — a ten-minute tune James had composed under the working title “Scrimmy Bingus and the Crungy Spingus,” which is a reference to, if I remember correctly, uh, something I’m way too damn old to get.
The song was like nothing we’d ever played before — it was longer, sillier in places, more dramatic in places, than anything off the EP. In a way, it felt like James was channeling my boi Frank Zappa in the song’s complexity, sudden shifts in sound, and straight-up goofiness in places. I loved the music, but I was struggling to think of a lyrical theme that would pair well with it.
(I swear all this rambling will make sense in just a minute!)
After a while, I thought I’d try writing lyrics about a scene from my fantasy novel, Cult of Goethe: The Chaos Game. Like the song, my book switches back and forth between dramatic moments and silly ones. Nobody would get what the song was about, but then, how is that different from any other prog tune?
So “Scrimmy Bingus and the Crungy Spingus” became “Fractals and Coastlines,” and my bandmates eventually got kinda curious what it all was about. I sent James the first draft of my novel, thinking he could skim it or something — he kinda shocked the hell out of me when he actually finished it in just a few days. Blackmire ended up reading it, too, and liking it way more than I ever could.
When it came time to decide on a concept for our first album (because of course, “Should it be a concept album?” was a foregone conclusion), they suggested using my novel. After all, Fractals and Coastlines was already about Cult of Goethe: The Chaos Game, they said. Meanwhile, I was just sitting there being gobsmacked and flattered to heck.
So yea. The Chaos Game. Our first album, based on a really silly book I wrote.
“It wouldn’t make sense to tell you why I called you here, Julia, without explaining myself a bit. I’m sure Miguel and Vera informed you that I am the God of Chaos and Order. I’m not a big fan of titles, but Harmony and Perdition insisted on it. For your part, I’d appreciate if you just called me Dr. Goethe — GER-tuh, thank you very much. None of that ‘Your Honor’ or ‘Your Potency’ drivel that Miguel used to hurl at me. Are we clear on that?”
“Yes, Dr. Goethe.”
“Thank you kindly. And are you fine with my calling you Julia, or is there a name you prefer?”
Well, my last boss called me a salted snail, I thought. “Julia is fine.”
“They also suggested calling me the God of Creation and Destruction, but I had to veto that,” Dr. Goethe continued. “You’ll see I’m not much a fan of dramatics. I do create and destroy things, but only in a secondhand sort of way. My Fractometer creates Universes, and I certainly have some design input, but once I pass my algorithms through the Fractometer, it’s out of my hands. The creation of any object is just a violent dance between chaos and order. The destruction of any object is just a logarithmic growth of chaos, a weed rapidly taking root and wrapping itself around life, sucking the existence out of it. It would be wrong to say that I am a god of either force — I am a pawn like any other, except I’m the one entity throughout time who learned to initiate the dance. Do you follow?”
“Yes,” I said, lying.
“I’ll show you the Fractometer, should you accept your post. Which I think you will, but it will horrify you first. I’ll be plain, Julia: I need to destroy the Universe, and I need you to help me.”
There’s something for everyone on this album!
So that’s a lot of elaborate and frankly unnecessary back story, but the important question is, What’s this thing gonna even sound like? And that’s a question I could only answer by saying, well, uh, “a lot of things.” There are songs on here I wrote when I was a 16-year-old pretentious progger trying desperately to turn into Annie Haslam of Renaissance. There’s this sick technical track Anthony wrote called “Angular Sterility.” Jared wrote a song that’s one part prog, one part surf rock, and it’s probably the most fun piece of music I’ve ever had the pleasure to perform. There’s some jazz, some a capella, some power metal.
What you’re gonna hear in early 2019 is the product of five different songwriters — James, Jared, Blackmire, Anthony, and yours truly — just going nuts and having fun with music.
And of course, there’s “Fractals and Coastlines.” And it’s my favorite Cabinets of Curiosity song. Maybe it’ll be yours, too.
You’ll find out in a few months 🙂