Sounds Local: End Times, an excuse to unwind
According to the ancient Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012, marks the “end of time,” which some interpret to mean the end of the world — or at least the end of the world as we know it. There are some people who are approaching this date with a sense of anxiety similar to what we witnessed as the world approached year 2000 and the dreaded Y2K.
For musician, visual artist and poet Daniel Hales of Greenfield, the approaching date has prompted him to write “Everything Rhymes with the End Times,” which is also the title track of a new five-song EP by his group The Ambiguities.
The Ambiguities will celebrate the release of the disc and the “end of time” with a The End Times Party at the Rendezvous, 78 3rd St. in Turners Falls on Friday, Dec. 21, at 9:30 p.m.
“Tornadoes, tsunamis, they all must be signs/And an earthquake now and then just to remind us/It’s the end times,” sings Hales on his tribute to the end.
The song continues with such great lines as “Some welcome the rapture/God’s preemptive strike/If it were on Facebook/They’d give it a like” and “End Times, an excuse to unwind/So don’t die before you use up your vacation time.”
“When I started writing that song, it just kept getting longer as there was more of these end time things that I wanted to riff on that people were obsessed with,” said Hales. “Then it came to me that I had to release this song at the end of the world.”
Part of what sparked the idea for the End Times Party was that while writing his own song, it came to Hales’ attention that there is a glut of music and television shows that deal with post apocalyptic themes.
“The apocalypse is almost sexy and hip in this kind of ridiculous and creepy way,” said Hales. “The nuclear zombie has become as cute and cuddly as the teddy bear.”
The End Times Party will celebrate all things doomsday and will begin with an apocalyptic song circle that will feature Hales, Abe Loomis, Carrie Ferguson, John Crand, and Shawn Goldthwaite. The singers will take turns swapping original songs and cover tunes that focus on planetary annihilation, natural disasters and a general sense of impending doom. The song circle will end with a chance to sing along to some of the well-known tunes of the genre such as R.E.M’s classic “It’s the End of The World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”
From there, The Ambiguities will take the stage and celebrate the release of “Everything Rhymes with the End Times.”
If you are familiar with the more rock-oriented version of the Ambiguities that Hales fronted a few years ago, you will hear that he has now taken that sound in a very different direction.
Hales recorded the disc with a handful of guest musicians who helped him create music full of hip-hop beats, synth sounds, percussion and rapping.
Hales has managed to make a fun, catchy dance record that also has thoughtful lyrics combined with some innovative musical touches. For instance, “El Saguaro” has lyrics spoken in Hebrew and set against a background of an exotic sounding guitar and a shaker. The disc’s opening track, “Moral Majority,” takes a swipe at right-wing propaganda and has a catchy rap for a chorus.
This is music that doesn’t have much in common with the indie-rock that Hales plays with his band The Frost Heaves (who released “You Make A Better Door Than A Window” in July).
“I’m never happy doing just one thing,” said Hales. “This has been a chance to explore something different. One of the things that people liked on the last Ambiguities album was this sort of hip-hop track, so I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted this to be more hip-hop and a break from the Frost Heaves stuff.”
That’s not to say that Hales is backing off from the Frost Heaves. That remains his primary musical outlet. The Ambiguities is more of a solo side project.
“This is also a chance for me to get away from the band aesthetic and do something that has more of a fun, party vibe and more dance-oriented” Hales explained.
At the ‘Voo show, Hales will play and sing to loops and will be accompanied by a mystery singer who goes by the name of Du Mashmai
“That name is the closest equivalent to ambiguity we could find in Hebrew,” said Hales.” She may even perform in a grey burqa — she hasn’t decided just how undercover she wants to be.”
That said, this version of The Ambiguities are very theatrical and are clearly going all out for this performance.
“On the last Ambiguities album there is a song called ‘Ode to Ambiguity’ that has now become a hip-hop song and it has this line in it: ‘There’s a million more shades of gray than of blue.’ So the theatrical idea is that we dress in shades of gray, like ambiguity itself. So you will see me in various ridiculous costumes — everything from a silver afro wig to spray-painted gray shoes.”
Throughout the night, Thomas Ratte will create the perfect apocalyptic ambiance with a blend of psychedelic lights and a fog machine.
After the Ambiguities set (and until the “end of the world”), DJ Doomsday and DJ Selah will spin end-timey dance numbers so we can dance until the end of the night (or the world).
Admission to the End Times Party is $3 and includes a copy of “Everything Rhymes with the End Times” at the door. Show up dressed like a zombie and get in free! For more information, check out . Disclaimer: there is no money back guarantee in the event that the world does not end.
Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org