Album notes by Mark Prendergast.
PINK JEAN MINT GREEN
A synthpop album in the classic mold of Kraftwerk and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark fused with the more contemporary electronic sounds of Air and Daft Punk. Produced by Grammy-winner Mario McNulty (of David Bowie fame), he also enlisted the help of another former Bowie musician, drummer Sterling Campbell who had also played with the B 52's, Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper. A lovely plaintiveness and a nice touch of autobiographical references pervades throughout, especially in the opening track Lauren Hynde. The final track Bash Street Worlds, co-written with English fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, is a real belter. Beginning like OMD's classic 1980 song Enola Gay the song floats along before ending with a surprising Ambient clarinet trio coda in homage to the one Philip Glass wrote for the end of Paul Simon’s album The Late Great Johnny Ace.
Another jewel in Shapiro’s rich chest of music, the opening track, the Cocteau Twins inspired Royal Purple, conveys a rich serenity and an almost stillness in Ambient calm which pervades through out the album. The 14 pieces include new compositions alongside some of Shapiro’s favorites from his catalog of music written for theater and film.
Produced by Michael Riesman
The High Line and Other Places
The three movements of Shapiro's "Violin Sonata: The High Line" represent Manhattan's High Line park at different times of the day (I. At Morning, II. At Night, III. At Day).
Gregory Fulkerson, the featured violinist of the sonata, writes: "I love the forthright and amiable spirit that permeates the piece; it is definitely in a pop style, yet Shapiro handles the standard acoustic sonorities deftly and there is a wealth of detail in the patterns of the violin. I don't know anything else quite like it."
Shapiro's soft tenor/falsetto vocals harmonies hover over his neo-80s minimalist soundworld.
1. Detectors in the Eyes [2013 Version]
2. Andrew Andrew
3. The Giveaway
4. Kim Dreaming
5. Mint Green
6. Richard Serra [Live]
An album of hazy piano instrumentals that took two years to write. Eschewing fancy studios with fancy pianos, Shapiro opted to record at his Brooklyn home using his Suzuki upright piano. It incorporates a mute damping pedal that enhances the gossamer feel of its ten beautiful tracks. Possibly one of the finest Ambient piano albums ever recorded, the album also includes Shapiro’s cover of Energy Flow, the famous solo piano piece by fellow New York resident Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Produced by Michael Riesman
100 Houses: Gatsby Meets Caulfield
Possibly Shapiro's most idiosyncratic recording is 100 Houses: Gatsby Meets Caulfield, a full vocal album of songs based upon the literary masterpieces The Great Gatsby and The Catcher In The Rye. After leaving Conservatory, Shapiro reread both novels consecutively once a year for six straight years and, taking a leaf from both William Burroughs and David Bowie, he highlighted words and phrases in both books over time, put them in a word processor and jumbled them up to form lyrics. According to Shapiro, "The idea was to imagine if Jay Gatsby met Holden Caulfield and had a talk about how they’d do things differently if they had a chance to do things all over again.”
1. Tomorrow We Will Run Faster
2. 100 Houses
3. Home at a Special Time
4. Double You
6. If It Fades
7. Rejected Film Theme
Soundesign (Expanded Edition)
A collection of early synthesizer pieces from Shapiro's San Francisco days coupled with four new pieces including vocal compositions. Inspired by playing the Exit Festival in Serbia, Shapiro stayed on for two weeks and immersed himself in the Balkan culture resulting in the album’s standout track Sarajevo, a new version of Mint Green put in a sequencer and re-imagined.
Numbers, Colors and People
Recorded in one day at Philip Glass’s studio, the album is all instrumental piano with a soft pedal style that would become Shapiro's trademark. A truly Ambient work, it shows how far American Ambient has come since the days of La Monte Young or Windham Hill's George Winston. While neither avant- garde or completely soporific, the music has all the richness of Debussy and Satie coupled with the crystal clear production of Michael Riesman and mastering of Michel Geiss. Not only is it the place to start with Shapiro's oeuvre, it also contains the classic tracks Quiet Kissing and Mint Green. The latter’s astonishing success on the Internet and as theme music belies its origins. In fact, Mint Green was directly inspired by the Cocteau Twins's track My Truth from their 1993 album Four-Calendar Café.
Produced by Michael Riesman
Quiet Kissing EP
Recorded in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, Quiet Kissing is divided equally between instrumental and vocal tracks. The EP begins where Invisible Days left off with a gently percussive song which then moves into Ambient territory with two instrumentals, the shimmering Quick and the real meat of the project Quiet Kissing, a solo piano piece which seems to hang in space, its beautiful logic unflolding like a water lily gliding on water.
1. Detectors in the Eyes
2. Quiet Kissing
4. Quiet Kissing (Solo Piano)
Invisible Days EP
While living in a San Francisco art gallery in 2000, Shapiro began working on his first album, Invisible Days on a Yamaha EX5 Synthesizer. Invisible Days introduced Shapiro to the world as a very cool sound designer of vocal music. Aided by the airy vocals of Keisha Hutchins and Peter Hess's flute, the results are four pieces of sonic precision effortlessly marrying American Minimalism with a New Wave sensibility. Even Richard Serra gets a tribute in song and sound.
3. Richard Serra
4. Moon's Reflection