Many musicians are out to be the next big thing, to create a sound never heard before and be as innovative and influential as possible.
Like any art, music is constantly evolving.
But for Ridgewood resident John Lars Zwerenz, music is best when it goes back to its roots.
“Ever since the time of Beethoven, classical music and western music in general has become more and more dissonant, that is to say, less melodic and harmonic,” Zwerenz said. “Rock’s current, most prevalent presentations are sadly bereft of melody and harmony and rely on merely beat for expression.”
That is why for his new album, “Autumn Rain,” Zwerenz revisited traditional harmonies.
“... my goal, prior to composing and recording, was to capture ‘on tape’ a new music which was inspired by the traditional harmonies of pre-Wagnerian music, such as was Bach’s, Mozart’s and Handel’s. I would return to those sounds and confirm them. I would use different genres to do so: pop, ballads, rock and classical. All these genres are represented on ‘Autumn Rain.’”
For all the complex thought Zwerenz put behind the album’s concept, the tracks are fairly easy to listen to. The lyrics and melodies are simple.
But Zwerenz layers his voice on numerous tracks to create almost a cathedral choir-like sound that can be distracting and muddle the song from time to time as in the album title track, but holds up in other songs like “Hello Elaine” and “Wonderful Girl.”
“When in the studio, as I was with this record, to not take advantage of multiple tracks and harmonies would have diminished the musical effect of these songs,” Zwerenz said of the vocal layering. “This record was conceived and developed much in the manner of an opera, that is, it builds up from solo melodies to multiple ones, in the songs, and as a whole record.”
Though he said the choice was not conscious, there is a clear influence from the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” era. Zwerenz in no way sounds like he is mimicking or attempting to be the next John Lennon but gives the impression of using parts of their sound with his own.
When asked if other parts of a song, like lyrics and tone, can be put to the forefront to create a specific sound or message, Zwerenz stood by his philosophy.
“Such noise devoid of tonal essentials would be a perversion, not a sub-genre of music, classical, rock or otherwise.”
He added that he does not feel contemporary musicians have successfully “gotten it right,” which is why he feels his album is so important.
“Autumn Rain” is set to be released on April 1 and Zwerenz will perform live later in the spring on Jamaica Bay and other parts of the city.