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RARB REVIEW

Artist: Jeff Flaster
Album: Still Time: Symphony for Chorus in G

Total time: 32:06, 9 songs
Recorded 1996

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. I: Come Up the Mountain (4.4)
  2. Move On (3.6)
  3. Hearts in the Snow (3.8)
  4. Uncharacteristically (3.2)
  5. Come Up the Mountain (reprise) (4.4)
  6. II: Good Enough for Today (3.6)
  7. III: High of Seventy-Five (3.2)
  8. IV: My Fat Cat (4.8)
  9. V: Homecoming Train (3.4)

Reviews

Overall

Randi Sherman

Now, I know that as a reviewer I am supposed to listen to CDs in the sense that even if I don't like the style of music, I should still critique it fairly. However, I also want to tell the listeners what they want to hear. Other than perhaps the family and friends of the people who created this CD, I have no idea who would want to buy this. It is music and lyrics written by Jeff and Helen Flaster. The words are classic folk songs, and the music, even though it's for 4 voices, is boring. Simply boring. Jennifer Brown and Jeff Flaster sing all four voice parts, Jennifer doing alto/soprano and Jeff tenor/bass. Because of this, you can't tell whether it's soprano or alto singing, and hearing the same sound over and over again is terrible. Before you read the comments on each song, I'd like to make several comments that apply to each and every song on the CD. The female never changes the sound of her voice, which is metallic and whiny, and the male is not meant to be a bass, but his tenor range is fair. There is very little dynamic variation, there are no melodies which you will retain after listening once, and the music is dry. With lack of percussion, every layout of the songs starts to sound the same. The soprano sings back and forth with the tenor and alto, and the bass "chimes in" every once in a while with some words. I don't recommend this CD unless you like the kind of folk music that is made fun of on Saturday Night Live.
Rating: 3 (2.8)

Rebecca Christie

When Jeff Flaster decided to make a CD of his original work, he gave it the ambitious title of "Still Time: Symphony for Chorus in G." I was really excited to hear it, expecting some sort of eerie avant garde contemporary recording. What I got was more along the lines of a garage-demo sound, of 4 voices singing folky songs. Tuning was not great, and chorus is not a word I would use for one man and one woman overdubbing themselves on a couple of different parts. So I was disappointed, particularly given the ambitious billing. I think it's great that Flaster made a CD of his creative work, and I support his decision to name it whatever he wants, pretentious or no. But I don't think it's the sort of thing that should be offered to the a cappella community at large without letting people know exactly what they're getting.

There are few interesting or surprising themes in the music, which has a traditional-protestant-church feel to much of it, with some odd musical-esque threads as it progresses. Much of what interest there is gets sabotaged by the empty feel — this stuff would sound much better with a blurry chorus instead of one voice on a part. Particularly since both of the voices combining on this project have such obvious flaws. Inconsistency plays its part, but Jennifer Brown (singing all the women parts, usually 2 or 3) has a real tendency to belt, be out of tune/flat, and or seem out of her league for most of the work. She does have some nice moments, I don't want to dismiss her out of hand, but the bad lingers in the memory longer and hurts the album. Composer Jeff Flaster sings the male lines (again, usually 2 or 3) and has a nice, classically voice for the bums and string-type lines. His solos are less successful, and he stretches his range way out of its element in a number of places.

I wish Brown and Flaster well in their endeavors; it's great to see such dedication to amateur music, and this music may translate well to a community chorus setting. As this disc stands, however, I cannot recommend it as a random listen.
Rating: 3 (4.0)

Ben Tritle

I'll start with the obvious and work from there. This happens to be a CD of original pieces, or symphonies as the title suggests, by Jeff Flaster. From the title of the first track "Come Up the Mountain", it suggests of a classical/folk type feel, which actually most of the time was quite pleasant. If you enjoy Peter, Paul, and Mary singing Puff the Magic Dragon, you'll definitely enjoy it.

The trick to this CD is that the four-part harmony is sung by two people, Jeff Flaster and Jennifer Brown. Obviously, this wasn't accomplished immediately, but rather with some vocal editing. That being said, it must have been quite difficult to gauge immediate reaction in regards to pitch and tempo (blend would be a flick of a volume switch, maybe).

The music itself is well written and arranged, with occasional questionable scoring choices. Lyrically, it was inventive, if not always understandable. I do have to say that I had two favorites: Come Up the Mountain, and My Fat Cat (read the song reviews).

I applaud the effort though, as this CD must feel like quite an accomplishment, and in the end I hope that regardless of how I or any of the other reviewers feel, he feels satisfied to put all the work he did into a worthy effort.
Rating: 7 (6.4)

Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

a couple of words about jeff flaster's symphony for chorus in g: not a symphony, not a chorus, not in g. well, to be fair, two of the nine tracks are in g. excuse me. this album is absolutely laughable. there are two performers, jeff flaster (who, with help from his wife on lyrics, wrote this stuff) and jennifer brown. the lyrics are painfully trite, and often so bad that they're just outrageously funny. each vocalist is overdubbed a couple times, presumably at jeff's home studio (otherwise somebody spent too much dough), and produced with a dab of reverb and nothing else. there're really too many bad things about this album to go through, but they're all things you've heard of: badly mixed, badly recorded, bad pitch, bad voices, bad writing, cheesy little arrangements; so in my song by song reviews i'll just get to the best part, which is the humor of it all. the music is terrible, although i must say i've never heard anything like it, so as far as originality goes, jeff's doin' a great job. i guess the tunes are like really bad madrigals or something. but it's supposed to be a symphony? i don't understand. maybe jeff's on some wavelength that's so far ahead of it's time that i'm a fucking moron for dissing on this album, but honestly, it's the worst a cappella album that i've ever heard in my entire life. also one of the funniest, for the same reasons. wait'll you hear the fourth movement, "my fat cat." i'll quote some lyrics later on for your enjoyment.
Rating: 1 (1.0)

John Magruder

It is not often that you hear a substantial amount of original a cappella music when you are a RARB reviewer. In fact, most of what you hear is college groups who make a long album full of covers. This is the first time in a long time I have listened to an album that did not have a cover of some 80's tune. Kind of refreshing.

This album is in fact an entire composition. A symphony for the human voice. It is not classical, though. It's not really pop either. This piece is 9 songs over 5 movements. This is supposed to be a complete composition, where everything fits together in some way.

Hate to say it, but it doesn't. To me, the songs did not connect to each other in any way other than the fact that they are being sung by the same people. You jump from one to the next and you think, 'what the heck?' Things just don't seem to fit together. There is not a synergistic relationship between the lyrics and the music they are sung to. I found the words to many of these songs to be obtuse, usually trite, and sometimes downright wacky. They seem to flow like some odd 'stream of consciousness' experiment, looking good on the surface, but when you really listen, things just don't make sense. You'll see what I mean in some of the song reviews.

"Like a great symphony, Still Time's nine independent tracks are integrated into one complete thought. Its melody can stand on its own and can stand up to a lifetime of listening."

Ehhh, no. It's not like a great symphony. The nine tracks come together in no discernible way short of a couple of transition notes — they put together a rather discombobulated thought, in my opinion. There is no consistent melody, and a 'lifetime of listening' is beyond even my patience.

Musically, this album runs hot and cold. There are numerous tuning problems throughout this album, and most of them come from the bass line. Mr. Flaster is not a bass, and he takes on very strange intonation most of the time: he's working hard to reach the note with a dark tone, but just ends up sounding like he's choking on his tongue. His tenor is understated, and his falsetto is occasionally weak and unsupported. Interestingly enough, he does not blend very well with himself.

Jennifer Brown has a much steadier voice in this album than Jeff, a fine soprano voice that carried well into the not-very-low alto register. Her tone is bright and light, kind of like a first-year grade school music teacher. You know — the kind of young, ambitious, way too happy teacher who thinks music will change each and every child's life... that is until the kids find that spitballs are more fun.

Still Time is a piece that seems to be a labor of love for Mr. Flaster... an optimistic view of life as he sees it. The Web site for the album states that "Its lyrics relate to your life, and they make sense."

Fortunately or unfortunately, it doesn't relate to my life.

Swing... and a miss.
Rating: 4 (4.9)


Individual Tracks

  1. I: Come Up the Mountain (4.4)
    Randi Sherman

    The female vocalist has really good diction in this song, and even though the recording said it is only four voices, at times it sounds like more. The woman singing unfortunately sounds like she's singing into a tin can, and it gets annoying by the end of the song. This is not a high quality recording. The parts don't blend at all, and they don't seem to have any kind of phrasing on this tune.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    Jeff Flaster's background actually sounds a bit like the cello and viola parts of a string quartet. Simplistic, yet somewhat formal sounding. But the whole thing is given a hymn or mountain feel by the voice of his accomplice, Jennifer Brown. She sings through her nose and is consistently under pitch. It's tough, particularly starting out, though the ear acclimates somewhat as it goes on.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    The first five tracks run together without break, starting with this melodic number that sets the CD off well. Following a frustrating start when I couldn't judge the tempo, it moves effortlessly into Jennifer's easy-going soprano line with more than capable support, proving the ability to create a track such as this with a bit of electronic help.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    the best pitch displayed on the album. that's one of the few positive comments you'll see in this review, so get ready. here we get a taste of jeff flaster's non-existent bass range and his basically bad tone. he sounds like he just had his bar mitzvah, his grandmother said "oh jeff, you've just got the most wonderful voice," plopped down a couple grand, jeff bought a da88, recorded an album at the urging of his entire family (he's so TALENTED!), got married ('cause after all, once everyone hears this shit, the money's gonna be in the bag! i can support a family no prob, with my natural talent), and infected the world with the most horrible music of all time. on the other hand, i feel kind of badly for jennifer brown, who sings soprano and alto on the album. her voice can be quite pleasant, and makes this recording almost bearable. but then you hear track 2 and...
    Rating: 1

    John Magruder

    The song beckons you in with the words "Come on" repeated over a few chords. Then into the meat of the short song which is about love and rainbows, and how heaven is here on earth. Nice harmonies, especially from Ms. Brown. Here is your first hint that the bass line is not being sung by a bass.
    Rating: 7

  2. Move On (3.6)
    Randi Sherman

    The bass line and tenor voice aren't in tune with each other, which is a surprise since it's the same person singing them! The syllables that the bass uses are creative, because many a cappella groups get bogged down with repeated syllables. This song is in dire need of percussion or a more rhythmic part to keep it moving along. There is a nice tempo change at the end of the song, but when it switches from the soprano solo to the tenor solo, the tenor is very out of tune.
    Rating: 2

    Rebecca Christie

    This is like Amy Grant crossed with old motown.Very white, general sentiments of "you'll be sorry if you leave him" songs. Brown opens up from time to tome. Flaster is no bass, and his falsetto is just a bad idea whenever it comes in. He has a very simplistic, resonance-free bassline that contributes to the music's empty feel. His tenor/baritone range is really quite pleasant, particularly when he's singing background. He shows precision and semi-classical intonation wholly lacking in Brown, whose pitch is just not consistent enough.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    The first transition which leads straight into this track is again awkward. This also suffers from a high bass line which was difficult to get used to throughout the CD. Although I would like to hear this with a faster tempo and maybe a percussion beat, it still is a fun number with well-written middle voices. I also really liked the transition into Jeff's Tenor line. Still, another fun number that would benefit from a better transition, but stands well on its own.
    Rating: 7

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    ...jeff's backups literally slay you. this is some kind of fifties tune or something i guess. what kills me here is the "bass" line; apparently jeff thought it would be clever to add one more "no" each time before the "stop." here's a quote from his line: "no no no stop. no no no no stop. no no no no no stop. no no no no no no stop. no no no no no no no no..." just kills me. absolutely died laughing. AAAAGGH! jeff in falsetto! help!
    Rating: 1

    John Magruder

    An interesting tune about telling a woman that she is making a mistake loving someone who does not reciprocate. The thing that stood out for me was that the production gets a bit spotty. An added tenor falsetto suddenly sticks out above the other lines and does not blend that well. Another thing that does not blend is the lyrics in the last part of the song. After a tempo change to slow things down comes this line that just throw you for a loop. After being supportive, the 'first person storyteller' decides that he has to do his own thing and "has no more time for you." Where the hell did that come from?
    Rating: 5

  3. Hearts in the Snow (3.8)
    Randi Sherman

    This is one of the more solid arrangements on the CD, and there are some really nice 7th chords, but they occasionally take time to settle. The syncopation of the arrangement is its strongest feature, and the 4 parts blend well together dynamically. The biggest downfall of this song is that the bass has a vibrato that is way too strong.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    Now we have segued into another ballady thing. This gets nice when it goes jazzy toward the end, when Brown goes high and light and in-tune, and they have some nice chords. This is great, around the 3-minute mark. Before that, the backgrounds are all singing the same elementary rhythms, and it still feels amateurish. I like Flaster better on backgrounds than singing words, though neither Brown's solo voice and background grabs me.
    Rating: 4

    Ben Tritle

    Translation (won't say more than that). I don't understand the lyrics. It seems like a lot of nice images are conjured up, but don't make a lot of collective sense ("I have no alibi for hearts in the snow, or for letters on the table signed "xoxoxo"). I also had a difficult time with constant shifting of solo lines through all four parts. It's not a bad song, pleasant to listen to, if you don't pay strict attention to it like I've been asked to here. There is a really nice end to this track with Jennifer harmonizing with herself (that had to be difficult to get used to and comfortable with).
    Rating: 5

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    the track id is off, presumably because this song segues from the previous. you see, it's a symphony, it's all linked somehow, it's just impossible for a mere mortal like me to wade through the complexity of it all. i suppose it's just one huge love song, the whole album, that is. check out this rhyme: "i have no alibi for hearts in the snow/or for letters on the table signed 'xoxoxo.'" fucking hysterical, i'm telling you, you can't believe this stuff. the best is when jeff sings up high in some kind of chest/falsetto combo thing and wavers like he's terribly nervous or something, but that's not anxiety, it's just how he sounds up there. also, these songs make no sense. musically, that is. there's always some sort of ending thing with unusual chord progressions, and this section is always slower than the rest of the song, i don't know, i'm just rambling, i'm in some insane terrible-recording-induced state.
    Rating: 1

    John Magruder

    The thing that seems so incongruous about the ending of that last song is how it flows into the beginning of this song, which starts with the line, "Why is everybody smiling when we're around?" Suddenly things are so nice and lovey-dovey as to be pretentious. The music loops and flutters around like a butterfly in a cool summer breeze. Which I suppose is totally what he intended, but it did not jibe with what just lead into this vocal expression of good feelings and giddiness. Who knows, maybe I'm too cynical, but I shook my head in the way you do when you wish you could retch.
    Rating: 5

  4. Uncharacteristically (3.2)
    Randi Sherman

    This song is flat-out terrible for the following reasons. The words don't make sense, the word 'uncharacteristically' takes about 15 seconds to come out, and the lead is changed too much between voices. This song has no sense of direction, no phrasing, no sections, and even though (again) the same woman is singing the alto and soprano part, her own vowels don't match each other, like on the word "day." This song adds nothing to the CD.
    Rating: 1

    Rebecca Christie

    Madrigalistic. Brown is again using her highest range, which I like better than lower. The jazz-madrigal notes — sort of syncopated — aren't together enough to be successful, nor do they really fit into anything. Flaster has a nice bassish solo on the words "so shy and mysterious", but the chords following are so imprecise that it just isn't much fun. Here all the parts are slightly syncopated. There are a couple of really interesting chords just past the 2 minute mark. Later, the "these are the days" cascades are interesting, but pitchy — even when the tuning is reasonable, the sound is too empty — this is not ideal one-on-a-part music — and the blend rarely locks. It's frustrating.
    Rating: 4

    Ben Tritle

    Tempo was not solid immediately. This is one of those songs that, by title alone, could seem like "Ironic", but doesn't come close to that descriptive feel. Rather it seems to be about a relationship (another time where I felt confused by the lyrics). Again, the music is nicely done and moves the tune and a pleasant pace despite it's walking tempo. This song, like most others, has no problems with tempo, which must have mixing easier (unless a lot of takes were done, but I should think not, what with the final product).
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    when jeff sings "so shy and mysterious," it's truly one of the great musical moments of all time, captured for eternity on digital compact audio disc. YOU CAN BUY THIS DISC! it's for sale! here! he's got his own trademarked music company, complete with website! i haven't been, but i can only imagine... melodic music (tm), http://www.melodic.com/. it's got to be worth the trip. buy the album! i guarantee you will enjoy this thing on a level you've never experienced before and will never again.
    Rating: 1

    John Magruder

    The opening verse sounds acceptable on the surface, but when I looked closer the words did not make sense with what had been sung in the previous piece of the movement.

    "Uncharacteristically, my love
    I cried out for help.
    Uncharacteristically,
    you were there to rescue me."
    I read that and I see "I needed help, and Whoa! You actually helped me this time! Cool."

    The recording quality of this song is inexplicably lower, and the tenuous balance of parts is blown because of it. The soprano suddenly sticks out more than usual. The bass line sings the solo for a moment, and his voice is so thick he sounds like a drunk on the verge of belching. The soprano gets a bit shrill right at the end of the last chorus.
    Rating: 4

  5. Come Up the Mountain (reprise) (4.4)
    Randi Sherman

    Another instance of bad recording quality. The tone is very scratchy when the dynamics are louder, the soprano sounds like she is singing in a separate room, and the moving "ah's" in each voice part are monotonous.
    Rating: 2

    Rebecca Christie

    This blends a little better, slow ballady at first, with the interesting line "just say the word and the stars will fall like confetti." When the familiar melody from track 1 comes back in, it's pretty and works well. I like this better than any so far, it makes good use of the hymn sound and Brown's higher, light, non-belty range.
    Rating: 6

    Ben Tritle

    Transition (was nice this time). Like a symphony (aaaahh), it starts with a beautiful vocal image of a forest, written beautifully with a nice lyrical palette. And then the first tune is back, with no effort whatsoever. A terrific ending to what was, overall, a pleasant "symphony".
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    thank god! i didn't get enough the first time. WAIT! THEY'RE CHRISTMAS CAROLS! they're really bad christmas carols! i just figured it out! the whole album is filled with a bunch of christmas carols that are about some mountain hideaway or something with two lovers and no christmas. another thing i've been forgetting to mention is that this entire album sounds exactly the same start to finish, broken up by a few brief moments of utter hilarity.
    Rating: 1

    John Magruder

    Begins somber and thoughtful, and swells back to the happy chorus from the first piece. Balance is too tenor-heavy in the ending chords.
    Rating: 5

  6. II: Good Enough for Today (3.6)
    Randi Sherman

    Pronunciation is a problem again in this song. Some notes are basically just wrong. At first I thought it was supposed to be atonal, but when the same phrases came back the second time and sounded totally different, I knew it was a tuning problem. It's a nice melody, but not for over 6 verses. It needs a little variation.
    Rating: 2

    Rebecca Christie

    This sounds like a children's song, with all the triteness and general blah that a lousy lullaby can imply. Bass has a choral feel and is much more successful than the attempts at rhythm earlier.
    Rating: 4

    Ben Tritle

    Speaks of a person who speaks of not finishing perfect, but doing well enough, and getting the support he/she needs. The slow tempo seems to drag it back. It, again, is a nice track, performed well, but stirring very few emotions or hitting with any impact.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    here's a good line: "while i still see myself as a winner, there's no test for which i would give up dinner." hearing jeff try to sing notes anywhere in baritone/bass range has to be one of the most amusing things of all time.
    Rating: 1

    John Magruder

    This is a song all about being happy with where you are. To me, it sounds more like the touching anthem of a couch potato. The line that clinches this whole feeling is when the bass sings:

    "While I still see my self as a winner,
    There's no test for which I would give up dinner."
    Oy. The bass solo in the second half is weak and full of his 'thick-tongued' sound. Otherwise it was fine musically.
    Rating: 5
  7. III: High of Seventy-Five (3.2)
    Randi Sherman

    This seems really atonal in the beginning which is definitely allowed, but the first minute or so of the piece is like this, and then the rest is very "chordal" and madrigal-like, confusing the listener greatly. There's not much dynamics here, and the consonant "s" sounds very brassy.
    Rating: 2

    Rebecca Christie

    Hmm. Sort of Sondheimy. Flaws in the Flaster's voice come out. Brown's thirds blend well, and in general she seems much more in touch with a pretty tone for this — sort of a modern-musical feel to it. On this song, she outsings him, which is a change of pace. Not sure at all where the words are going, but hey, I don't care. Brown's ornaments are good, and she blends with herself here — it's great. It's not belty at all, it's pretty, her pitch problems only surface in a few places. If Flaster had mixed some of his lines (particularly the wordless ones) down quite a bit it might have been even better. In minute 4 Brown uses several "character voices" to great effect, and Flaster tries the same. This is much better sung than most of its fellows. (Longer, too; 7 minutes) Indian Summer reprise actually has some oomph to it and picks up beautifully, by any standard — nice for late in minute 5.
    Rating: 5

    Ben Tritle

    The weakest track (to me) starts with a bass line that seems to be getting down at the VERY bottom of Jeff's range. I didn't understand a couple things: first, the beat/tempo changes (numbering greater than 3) seemed like it was written with several song styles in mind, but not being satisfied with using one or even two; second, the lyrics, making reference to seasonal comparisons, seem like they're trying to tie it to life, but the title doesn't make sense.
    Rating: 4

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! HERE IT IS! THE ABSOLUTE FUNNIEST PURELY VOCAL TRACK OF ALL TIME! FUCK THE BOBS! JEFF FLASTER IS THE KING OF A CAPPELLA COMEDY AS WE KNOW IT! HE JUST DOESN'T KNOW IT! YOU HAVE TO BUY THIS ALBUM, IF ONLY FOR THE FIRST 45 SECONDS OF THIS TRACK. call me if you live through it. but try to stay tuned for the tango section later on...
    Rating: 1

    John Magruder

    The intro to this song is out of tune, and features Mr. Flaster's odd non-bass bass voice. In this movement he is talking about wishing it would not be so rainy in October around his birthday. He also makes various metaphorical references to the weather being like life, and looking to reach a high of 75. Is that the temperature or the age he wants to reach? Ooohh, clever... What bugs me more is that the melody keeps changing, and there is no consistency in the feel of this movement. Kinda like the first movement. But at least he broke that one up into separate songs. In this movement the melody changes 5 or 6 times, so each melody lasts about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. That bugged me, especially when an interesting melody comes in, and leaves just as fast to be replaced by a plodding one. No sir, I didn't like it.
    Rating: 4

  8. IV: My Fat Cat (4.8)
    Randi Sherman

    This was my favorite song on the CD (which doesn't say much) because it had funny lyrics which distracted the listener from somewhat boring music. It has a nice canon style of each voice part coming in at different measures on the lyrics. There is a really nice key change at the end of the song which is difficult to do when one voice comes in at a time: they all have to hit the key change solidly.
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    Yawpawblaw. Uh, ok. Sure, start a new song. Keeps the showtune feel of the first, but with a British canon feel to it that increases as the patter speeds. Lyrics make little sense to me; granted I haven't really studied them. Commentary on society and an (allegorical, I presume) fat cat. I am kind of tweaked about the "my fat cat, my black jewish cat. My fat cat, my little bubbeleh" (that's a Yiddish endearment, by the way) lines. To me it reeks of anti-semitism, particularly since many of the lyrics would corroborate with a "rich uncaring Jew" stereotype. Blihh.
    Rating: 4

    Ben Tritle

    Because I don't have much experience with Hebrew/Jewish music, I can barely make comparisons, but it is very close to how I imagine such music to be. It has a BOBS quality to it without being a parody. This track stands alone as fun. It seems like Jeff had difficulty keeping tune with...himself. This time, even thought he solo line moves through all four lines, it serves well for the song. Lyrically, musically, stylistically, it all blended together for a great track.
    Rating: 8

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    WAIT! NO! THIS IS IT! FUCK WHAT I SAID ABOUT NUMBER 7! THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE SHIT! allow me to quote a selection.

    "squirrels in the trees astound him.
    when his blanket's wrapped around him.
    metaphorically, i've found him like a chocolate blintz.
    felis mendelssohn's his favorite composer.
    mtv to him is an anathema of noise.
    but this song, which he knows is entirely about him,
    is the composition he most thoroughly enjoys.
    chorus:
    my fat cat, my black jewish dumpling.
    my fat cat, my little bubbale.
    my fat cat, yawning on the sofa.
    my fat cat, stretching out in the sun."

    Rating: 1
    John Magruder

    This song is all about Mr. Flaster's cat. The most incongruous movement of the 'symphony'. Also the wackiest. Which of course means it's the one that sticks in your head the most... how ironic. I think the brain latches onto this one because of the conceptual loop-dee-loops in the lyrics you get to hear. Examples:

    "If he were to speak in English
    He would say ``The world's delicious.''
    Or, were he to speak in Yiddish,
    ``Kreplach, halevai.''"
    or how about:
    "He has all the worries of a toasted english muffin."
    better yet:
    "Metaphorically, I've found him
    like a chocolate blintz."
    God, that's so deep as to be ludicrous! I could not stop laughing! And the melody just sticks with you, even when you don't want it anywhere near you. Unfortunately, what else sticks is the bad singing by Mr. Flaster in the bass line this time. Just flat-out wrong notes all over the place. Ms. Brown is just fine. Mr. F is sloppy.
    Rating: 5
  9. V: Homecoming Train (3.4)
    Randi Sherman

    A country style song? Where does this fit on the epitome of folk music selections? The "ah's" between each verse are way too slow, because you just want to hear the lyrics at this point. The soloist varies from one voice part way too often, and it's hard to figure out who to follow for the lead, because there's not much change in dynamics at all. This song should've been interchanged with the previous- it's not a strong ending.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    This has that "school song" feel to it. Not great. Really, I'm ready to go by now. The seventies-rock verse (empty trashcans, forgiven heartache, all that) seems sorta weird after all this. The whole song — half formal, half folk — takes about twice as much time as it has ideas. Patter at end is weird, but better than rest, and Flaster's attempts at countertenor are better than usual. Still a bit short, but for this album it sounds ok.
    Rating: 3

    Ben Tritle

    A moving melody with well-written backing, it suffers from length. Again, if you try to analyze it, you'll want to just move to another track. It looks to be several views on how people approach going home. I can't say much more here that I haven't said elsewhere. It serves nicely as a final track. Well-sung, on-key, in tempo, it is a competent effort that shouldn't be listened to with a discriminating ear.
    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    apparently this is the final movement of what was for obvious reasons called "symphony for chorus in g." while this album may have been neither a symphony, nor a chorus, nor in g, it certainly is of the magnitude of the most dramatic and powerful of compositions. it actually is insulting to anyone who's ever written a symphony. seriously, it makes me angry that jeff flaster has the audacity to call this a symphony. a symphony is something to behold, a real accomplishment by the composer, an arrival. any composer worth a shit knows when he's written something worthy of that title. jeff, listen to your mendelssohn, and while you're at it break out some beethoven and some mozart and some stravinsky and some mahler and some gorecki and some brahms and sit at home and think about what a symphony really is.
    Rating: 1

    John Magruder

    A strident sound reminiscent of trumpets as they sing about grabbing that train and going home. Bass tuning is still not all there as we begin this trip down memory lane. We hear about the things at home that he welcomes as good, simple memories of what is right and good in 'Home'. A trippy little section takes us through a number of states, just like a train line. But the lyrics make no sense. First he talks about his going home. Then it is 'us', he and his love. Then:

    "I can feel the rumbling wheels
    bring you home to me.
    Now, here at the station,
    You have been extremely patient,
    And I see you've waited for me to
    come home to you."
    What did I miss? He could feel her train coming, then it was herat the station — not him — waiting for him to come home. Does that make any sense?!?

    Screw it. Artistic license... topped off with a weak ending chord as the icing.
    Rating: 4

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