Krispen Hartung | Mandolin from Mars

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Electronic: Experimental Electronic: Ambient Moods: Mood: Weird
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Mandolin from Mars

by Krispen Hartung

A fantastic electro-acoustic story of the "red planet," babbling mountains, and menacing telepathic messages from the ancient chimera of HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos
Genre: Electronic: Experimental
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Unintelligible Archetypal Babble from the Face
6:20 $0.99
2. Astrophonic Dreams in the Tube
4:51 $0.99
3. Probe Out
8:45 $0.99
4. Trenches
6:35 $0.99
5. Thirst for Ancient Shores
5:06 $0.99
6. Reanimation
24:41 $0.99
7. Cthulhu On Mars
4:59 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Mandolin from Mars is colorful and complex exploration of the 6-string mandolin and laptop computer. This work weaves a fantastic story of the "red planet," babbling mountains, and menacing telepathic messages from the ancient chimera of HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

Krispen Hartung - 6 string mandolin, vocals, guitar, laptop computer, real-time looping

Anyone who has managed to follow my discography, while taking note of the themes I have emphasized as inspiration for my music, will also observe that I am almost always fixated upon the ideas of space, science fiction, and horror (especially the Lovecraftian sort). I’m afraid this CD is no different. These themes continue to occupy my thoughts and heart with the same fascination and intrigue that I experienced as a child.

As with most of my works assembled on compact disc, I tend to freely improvise the music, let the music do the talking, and then title the songs and tell the story accordingly. Mandolin from Mars has two stories to tell.

The first story is regarding this so-called "mandolin from mars." I decided to play an instrument relatively new to me, namely, the 6-string mandolin. The instrument has six single strings (not doubled like the traditional four-string mandolin), and it is tuned like a guitar. It was therefore not difficult for me, as a guitarist of 25 years, to grasp the fundamentals of the instrument and play it in a convincing manner almost immediately. However, the small fret spacing on the mandolin proved challenging and forced me to take the songs on the CD in a different direction than from the idiosyncrasies I normally exhibit on the guitar. Consequently, I titled the CD "Mandolin from Mars" because the instrument was alien to me (i.e., metaphorically from Mars), which compelled me to generate a musical feel that would seem alien to listeners relative to what they normally expect from the mandolin.

Playing the mandolin on this CD was therefore an experiment. I did not practice the instrument before recording, but rather I immersed myself directly in the instrument to express myself as best as I could without being colored by familiarity with its musical character.

The second story is the usual one. The titles and order of the pieces on this CD frame a series of images and concepts. Here is the “CliffsNotes” version: The so-called face of Mars sends a radio message to Earth, which the title depicts as “Unintelligible Archetypal Babble from the Face.” This concept is accentuated by the fact that it is the only song on the CD that was recorded with only my voice, processed with the laptop computer. After the babble from the face, Earth sends out a manned probe to investigate. (Remind you of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "2010: The Year We Make Contact"? It should.) During the space trek to the red plant, and while in their life support cold-sleep units, the astronauts are haunted and possessed by telepathic and menacing messages from an alien being on Mars. (The being is Cthulhu, and this is basically consistent with the Cthulhu Mythos for anyone into that story by HP Lovecraft.) Think of this when you hear the song “Astrophonic Dreams in the Tube,” but take note that some of the sound effects you hear are a processed recording of an MRI machine. (I was inspired to do this after receiving an MRI and experiencing back surgery.) I actually enjoyed the MRI, which inspired me to produce more CDs like this!

...back to the story. Shortly before the manned space probe lands on Mars, Earth loses contact (“Probe Out”), after which the astronauts are driven (again by telepathic commands from Cthulhu) to cultivate some of the "trenches" on Mars, fill them with water (“Thirst for Ancient Shores”), and then reanimate Cthulhu, the ancient Lovecraftian beast. After this activity, Cthulhu rises to the planet’s surface to...well, who knows? That is for the imagination of Lovecraft fans, but one might suspect that the creature remains on Mars to build a new alien kingdom. Either that or he makes his way back to earth to torment us…



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