“Amour Bohemian” by MERCH
MERCH is the recording monicker of Joe Medina. He creates richly grand cinematic vocal music. His latest album “Amour Bohemian” is a psychedelic album with high quality production and orchestration. You can hear some quite unique sounds on it. So if you are for modern psychedelia, go for it!
When I am working on a project, I like to take myself outside of an environment that is familiar to me. For that reason, when I knew it was time to begin writing the follow-up to my last album This Betrayal Will Be Our End, I ended up writing a lot of the material in Guatemala on a trip there with my lover at the time. You can hear a lot of Guatemala in the music and lyrics–particularly ‘Ten Quetzales’ (quetzales are the national currency over there). I don’t remember if the idea to use an orchestra on the album came before or after that trip. I do know that I must have been high when I decided to do that. It was an impossible amount of work. I often still take a step outside myself and marvel that that all came together. I also know that now that I have done it, the bar is raised that much more for me on the one after this.
Once I had a decent batch of songs to start with, I began hitting up orchestras. For a variety of reasons, the biggest involving money, actually getting a really fantastic orchestra to pull off the album began to feel hopeless after some research and phone calls. I kept seeing the same orchestra listed in the credits of a few films I saw over the course of a month, so I decided to reach out to the Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra. Petr, the head of the orchestra, was delightful, was into the prior album, and agreed to do the project. The amount of money to make it happen was still a lot to me, but within feasibility.
Next up was securing an orchestral arranger. I had the jist of what I wanted a lot of these songs to do, but I needed someone with way more experience than me at this to help make it come together. I was able to track down Richard Hieronymus down to an island off the Washington coast through another composer that lived on the same island. He agreed to the project and we were off to the races!
© Parker Day
The next few months were a blur of activity. Richard would work off of some shitty little demos I sent him along with little recordings of piano, guitar, mouth sounds, and written notes explaining the main motifs I wanted the arrangements to focus on. Other than that, he pretty much had free reign.
I don’t think I realized how fantastic the album could truly be until the orchestra was playing in front of me in Prague. I had wanted to make something that would sound good forever and that was the moment where it felt like that was something that could actually be reached.
Once back from Prague, I immediately got to work getting together everyone I could to achieve my vision for the record. I also worked around the clock doing shitty things to make sure I had the money to pay the various musicians upfront. So along with the usual mushrooms, acid, and weed to keep the creative juices flowing, bringing stuff over from another plane, there was Adderall, coke, stuff like that, to be able to stay awake.
In the end, 65 people were involved in making the album. That includes the orchestra, all the psych-rock and jazz folks, a Latin jazz band, opera singers, even an analog effects consultant. I am glad that people seem to feel like something special came out of all this. I am doing my damnedest with this album to insure that I can continue with future records and projects that are not quite like what anyone else is doing.
Artwork by Desiree Daniels
– Klemen Breznikar
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