Mental Soundtrack is a multimedia installation which displays a group of ficticious albums and an audio piece playing through headphones at a record player. Music is important to me as it helps me process the changes in my life, and, like art, can often communicate a precise feeling that can be felt in no other way. I have no real experience in making music, so I depend on the voices and rythms of others to speak for me. In this case, I did a little of that, and the rest I just made up.

I designed the record jackets using paintings (and one photograph) of mine, conceptualizing particular genres and themes for each album. The band and singer/songwriter names are all based on different parts of my experience and personality, forming a collective self-portrait through various alter-egos. The fake music reviews I wrote are all very positive, condsidering none of the music actually exists aside from a single track on the "Times are Hard" album by the band "La Cabrona Realidad."

This track is a metaphor for my experience as an immigrant in Mexico. Having grown up in the United States, I had a lot of different information and voices that gave shape to my expectations about the culture and the country that I would encounter in Mexico. Over the course of twelve years living within a reality there, most of that information lost its meaning, while certain parts of it held deep truths.

The creative process that I followed for the development of this piece was joyful and unpredictible. I often was left feeling as though I were doing it all backwards. I am now exploring possible audio for all the other records I imagined.

The audio recording, an essential element to this piece, was made possible with the help of John McCrea, the band Cake, James Taylor, Jimmy Kennedy, Michael Carr, Tency Music, Dave Mallen at Innovation Station, Karaoke Versions, and Tommy Manzi.

La Llorona’s soulful interpretation of classic Mexican love songs juxtaposed against acid-jazz and bluesy rock brings desperation and anguish to new heights in this unexpected album. The title track, “A Sign From Below,” speaks of a moment of doubt after a young woman follows her heart over logic to a new life, encountering a reality she did not expect. Asking for a sign from God, she is met with something impossible to ignore.

Alison Wonderland’s Entrega is sexy, soupy, and spiritual. Wonderland’s quiet poetry and ambient electronic sounds pull us into a primordial ooze that really gets us to relax. As the title suggests, the songs are about giving in, turning over, and release. The end of the album is abrupt as weawake once more into the solidity of the physical world.

Mountain Mamás, this tour de force recording by Marta,Irene, Edelmira, Josefa, Flor, Margarita, Pastora, and Francisca, transforms our understanding of music, motherhood,and landscape as every song stretches across all three in brave and surprising ways.

Sarcastic, self-deprecating lyrics set along funk bass lines and introspective drum solos establish La Pobre Pacheca y su Banda de Borrachos as the unapologetic love child of Plastilina Mosh and the Grateful Dead - but severely slowed down. Reveling and reeling from one altered state to the next, the mood of Lonely Daze is, as one fan said repeatedly, “kind of floaty.”

The elemental stylings of singer-songwriter, Alicia, make the infinitive definitive as she welcomes us on her light-hearted...yet serious...journey into Spanish 101. “Ser o Estar,” with its catchy melody and feel-good beats, carries us beyond the classroom with an ever-increasing vocabulary into what Mi Nombre en Español is all about: a cross-cultural adventure in being.

La Cabrona Realidad’s debut album, Times are Hard, brings new meaning to famous songs about Mexico written by their neighbors to the north. Caution is thrown to the wind as pop favorites are transformed into cacophony on the B side, appropriately marked “Sin Sentido” on the center label. Occasional clarity and deep truths come through the confusion, pushing us to ponder all those choruses and hooks we have rattling around in our heads.

Special thanks to John McCrea, Cake, James Taylor, Jimmy Kennedy,
Michael Carr, Tency Music, Dave Mallen at Innovation Station, Karaoke
Versions, and Tommy Manzi.

Mental Soundtrack Times are Hard.mp3

© Copyright alison lee schroeder