Created and released late in 1999, Elegies was recorded, mixed and produced entirely at my URBAN PRODUCTIONS recording facility in Manhattan, and mastered at Sterling Sound Studios, NYC.
In realizing this latest work, nearly nine months were spent laying down over 300 individual tracks of vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, sytnhs, pianos, organs, bass guitars, live and sampled percussion and orchestral instrument sounds. Elegies also features guest performances on several songs by drummer Anthony DeMarco, keyboardist Peter Farrell and bassist Steve Sullivan.
This millennial eve release follows my 1997 acoustic-rock debut "godless". Elegies combines elements of both heavy acid-rock and dreamlike balladic art-rock - and is laced throughout with orchestral, electric guitar & synthesizer textures. As provocative and introspective as ever, an additional air of haunting reminiscence pervades all the albums's lyrics & music. Notably, this recording has enabled me to stretch-out on guitar - be it electric, acoustic, synthesized, bottlenecked, wah-wah'd, or wildly overdriven.
The CD opens with a pulsating "one-love" anthem THE WAITING SONG, and includes two love ballads - JOEY SAILS AWAY & MY LOVE FOR YOU. The ultra-personal I'M ONLY HAPPY (WHEN I'M FREE) and THE RIVER are virtual autobiographies. The acid-metal TRAGEDY paints perhaps the bleakest portrait of humanity ever put to song. The melodramatic ELEGIE & MARCH OF THE FALLEN LOVERS, from a poem by Gallet, is sung in the original french. The Beatlesque J'ACCUSE points an angry finger at the destroyers of the earth's ozone layer.
In addition to seven brand new songs, the CD also includes my own arrangements of three "classical" pieces. The first is American composer CHARLES IVE'S art song ELEGIE - originally written for voice and piano- arranged here for voice, rock band and full orchestra. The second is French composer ALBERT ROUSSEL'S SERENADE (2nd movement) - originally written for flute, harp, violin, viola and cello - rearranged for electric guitar, percussion, harp, piano and strings - arranged here for synth guitar and rock chamber ensemble. The third is French composer OLIVER MESSIAEN'S LOUANGE A L'IMMORTALITE DE JESUS from his QUARTET FOR THE END OF TIME (part 8), originally written for clarinet, violin, cello and piano - arranged here for electric guitar, bass, piano and percussion.
And once again - special thanks also
to friend and colleage Peter
Hodgson - for the great little vox amp...the vintage telecaster...the
nasty old fuzzbox...the special vocal mic...and the innumerable late night technical
CD cover photo - ruins of Greek temple at Selinunte, Sicily - by Robert Urban. CD back photo - Robert Live at the Greek ampitheater, Segeste, Sicily - by Morgan Humphries.
"A rare find indeed, the music of NYC-based Robert Urban combines a knack for gifted pop melodies with a lyrically insightful blend of rock that's hard to top. Urban more than proves his caliber as a gifted guitarist and a singer-songwriter worth checking out"
- ROBERT SILVERSTEIN, 20TH CENTURY GUITAR MAGAZINE
"A moving & brilliantly produced album" - JEFFREY NEWMAN, NY Blade News
"Further proof of just how wide-ranging the scope of gay male music can be - Urban's guitar work is something to behold!" - GREGG SHAPIRO, Outlines Mag, Chicago
"Artist of the Week - Really Great Stuff!" - JON YARGER - Progressive Rock Radio Network
"ELEGIES is a revelation from the exhilarating opening bars of THE WAITING SONG to his thoughtful interpretation of Messiaen's LOUANGE. J'ACCUSE is one of the greatest environmental protest songs I've ever heard - Do yourself a favour & check this CD out!"- PHIL JACKSON, Acid Dragon Progressive Rock Magazine, UK
"I am impressed! Robert is obviously a craftsman not only in performance of his material but also in composition. Very solid, never over-blown, understated where it needs to be, & always approached with style!" - RIBEAU - Deep Art Radio, Colorado
"Now let me get this right - An openly gay man, playing in his own rock band that doesn't suck... and you even like Led Zeppelin. Have I been thrust thru some cosmic vortex into an alternate universe or what!?!? Dude - You totally rock! And thanks for being a gay musician with balls!"- FUZZYROCKERDUDE - Professional Roadie, OH
"There'll be a lot more ELEGIES airplay here - I played "Louange" as the final piece of my Stonewall Day broadcast. I like it!" - TAYLOR CAGE - KOOP 91.7 FM, Austin, TX
"One hell of a musician!" JULIE NICOLAY, Outloud Radio, New London, CT
"Your music is FANTASTIC!" It's people like you who give me inspiration - Keep up the great work!" - BILLY BUDD, Founder-Gay Metal Society, Chicago
"There is great power & richness in each personal composition - all seems simple, natural & coming from the self. The music appears to be the work of a tight, cohesive group yet Robert did it all solo." P. GNANA - HARMONIE Rock Mag, France
"Robert, you rock - I love it!" - JOE RIVERA, founder YAHOO QUEERMETALHEADS
"This Urban guy is one hell of a guitarist & vocalist, & a fantastic songwriter to boot. The future of progressive rock is in good hands with guys like Robert carrying it along!" - RICK WHITEHURST, RECORDHEAD MAG
"I deeply appreciate that I may present for Russian listeners YOUR music. It is a big pleasure to discover. Many thanks indeed for great CD." -S. Tutov, 107 FM, Moscow, Russia.
"Excellent! We will play it immediately" - O. Ribeiro, 105.5 FM, Brazil
ELEGIES is a great intro to Robert Urban's music. His guitar ROCKS, with a theatrical center!" - Patrick Arena, Outvoice
"I've enjoyed listening to ELEGIES & will give it regular airplay. It's one of my favorites!" R. SWENNEN, 105.9 FM, Limburg, Belgium
a river, as large as all life, rolling in from the mountains
It runs 'round and down, thru field and thru town, towards the sea
On this great river, borne by the tide, and proudly plying the currents
floats the human world, with all flags unfurled, triumphantly
I see people bobbing up and down, as they tread their lives away
Onward, some survive...some drown ...as they pour into the bay
EVER FLOWING - ON TO THE OCEAN - OUT THRU THE SEA
EVER UNKNOWN TO ME - A DESTINATION - NOT MEANT FOR ME
(I was always too afraid...of the deep)
Volumes of water - in flux to the end - on which all mortal endeavor
seeks to navigate the course of its fate - its destiny
Safe on the shoreline - dry and alone - always the silent observer
I dip my toe into the flow - and out again
Now they're calling out "The water's fine! Why don't you plunge right in?"
Sighing - I know I must decline - 'cause I don't know how to swim
EVER FLOWING - ON TO THE OCEAN - OUT THRU THE SEA
EVER UNKNOWN TO ME - A DESTINATION - OUT OF MY REACH
(And I wave one last goodbye...from the beach...)