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November 2, 2008: Copernicus ends a long self-imposed hiatus, as he quarantines a 13-piece ensemble of risk-taking musicians for a marathon studio session in illustrious Hoboken, NJ. Many of the participants are artists that he's worked with for more than two decades. All of them keenly attuned to the willing abandonment of premeditation, but well-versed in the inherent dangers of deliberate sonic free-fall. Knowing the fate that awaits them, they stride forward boldly and briskly, none-the-less.Undaunted by the task ahead -- and at the helm of this mayhem since Day 1 -- the musical director, Irish keyboardist and composer Pierce Turner. His musical cohorts in tow, ever eager to follow wherever the music takes them and deliver whatever the monent necessitates.Clearly, it's the stuff of legends: an all-or-nothing bet at the ultimate musical proving grounds. After a long hiatus away from center stage, casting aside all fear and doubts, Copernicus stands on the threshold of something big.A hero reemerges; history is made ... as the next chapter of the continuing saga unfolds.
TRACKSClick on any highlighted track title to listen to individual audio samples, or listen to them all on the player to the right.
6. Poor Homo Sapiens 13:57
COPERNICUS: poetry, lead vocals, keyboards
PIERCE TURNER: musical director, Hammond B3 organ, acoustic piano, vocals, percussion
LARRY KIRWAN: electric guitar, vocals
MIKE FAZIO: electric guitar
BOB HOFFNAR: steel guitar
RAIMUNDO PENAFORTE: violin, acoustic guitar, bandolin, percussion, vocals
CESAR ARAGUNDI: electric & acoustic guitar
FRED PARCELLS: affected trombone
ROB THOMAS: violin
MATTY FILLOU: tenor saxophone, percussion
MARVIN WRIGHT: bass guitar, electric guitar, percussion
GEORGE RUSH: tuba, contrabass, bass guitar
THOMAS HAMLIN: drums, percussion
MARK BROTTER: drums, percussion
All lyrics by Copernicus. All music spontaneously created by all musicians. (C) Nevermore, Inc. 2009. (P) Nevermore, Inc. (Ski Music Division) 2009. All rights reserved.
Recorded and mixed by James Frazee, at Water Music Studios, Hoboken, NJ, on Novermber 2, 2008.
Mastered by Scott Hull at MasterDisk.
Executive Producer: Joseph Smalkowski
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"I look forward to each new Copernicus CD as others dote upon Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Tool, etc. and have been doing so since I first discovered the Ski Records Nothing Exists a quarter century ago, realizing I'd stumbled onto someone as unique as Capt. Beefheart, Root Boy Slim, Morton Subotnick, any of a small melting pot of unique sound artists purveying work that was disturbing, exhilirating, obtuse, passionate, brilliantly crafted, coming-apart-at-the-seams, and unique, no matter the genre.

"Formerly Joseph Smalkowski, Copernicus has transmorphed more than once on his constantly exploding centrifugal axis. One of the true examples of artistic anarchy around, he managed to record LPs and CDs; gain a cult following; tour Europe, America, and Russia; issue videos of electrifying performances; and write a book that's a fascinating companion to Ken Wilbur, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Chogyam Trungpa, G.I. Gurdjieff, and the more abstract reality cartographers. When I peruse that volume, Immediate Eternity, I'm reminded of The Mumonkan, I am That, A Brief History of Everything, the whole schmear of bewildering spiritual bitmapping. When I listen to the music, it's as if the Doors never crashed and burned but locked into their own most psychedelic essences and decided the Living Theater, with whom Copernicus has been associated, was the E-ticket to the center of the cerebellum.

"This disc is not only no different in its virtues but marks a swift return of Copernicus' most leonine persona. The last one, Immediate Eternity II, though as magnificent as any in his catalogue, was a tad restrained, so I wrote and inquired if it mightn't mark a mellowing of the incandescent Copernican core. "No such thing", replied he, "just wait and see", and so I've been awaiting Disappearance for four long years…now worth every second of anticipation. Pierce Turner, a gent formerly produced by Philip Glass and a singer who's come in for quite a few accolades (from Christy Moore, Pat Kenny, etc.), is a long-time associate of C, though Wikipedia, in its perennal Libertarian ignorance and prejudices completely ignores this. Turner appears prominently on the disc, playing keyboards, directing, and singing.

"If you've heard his discs, though, don't expect anything like them. All Copernicus music is spontaneous, completely improv'ed, chaotic, ravingly psychedelic, and perfectly intuitively scored to the rants, cozenings, enlightenments, and madnesses he's conveying. Turner, despite a much more staid personna otherwise, has no problems whatsoever in joining in. Disappearance is actually a long continuo on the Immediate Eternity theories, here made hypnotic through a manic recital worthy of Richard Burton, Marlon Brando, and George C. Scott if they'd gone completely around the bend yet retained complete aesthetic command and entered into a new thought mode transcending consensus reality.

"The propositions posited here are almost insidiously pervasive and will have listeners questioning their own unspoken anchor premises in many areas. But then, that's what real art does, and Disappearance represents a torrid meditation upon epistemology and existence, the kind of bridge between art, science, and spirituality that even Michio Kaku will appreciate."

- Mark S. Tucker, Acoustic Music

"A compelling and altogether mind-bending voyage it is."

-Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz

"As an exploration of mankind in the throws of a doctrine trying to find a self, it's first rate entertainment I can dance to."

-Billy Sheppard, Billy's Bunker

"'Disappearance' is a work of art. This is great stuff."

-United Mutations

"It takes some time to fully absorb this mystical avant-free rock/jazz world, but this kind of free-form avant-garde music would surely capture the keen listeners who are into challenging and forward-thinking music and lyrical contents."

-Pilgrim World


Perhaps the most fitting way to describe Copernicus is as a "performance poet." Even though the gentleman originally named Joseph Smalkowski plays keyboards, Copernicus refuses to be categorised as a musician. Despite often having inhabited the alternative New York rock'n'roll scene, his music also exudes strong elements of jazz, classical and the avant garde. Even though Copernicus' preferred recording strategy is that of improvisation, his epic pieces tend to revolve around themes, riffs and repeated clusters, moving along a clearly linear pathway.

The booming delivery and abstract texts evoke the spirit of classic beat generation poetry, but the Copernicus stance goes back even further to the theatrical confrontations of the Dada movement. He's always preferred the improvisatory approach, even though each poem's grist might be prepared in advance, their rhythms and content might be disassembled in the moment.

Copernicus has always been fiercely independent, since he first started recording in this manner, back at the dawn of the 1980s. He organises the recording sessions, sculpts the assembled band, oversees the album artwork and releases each disc on his own Nevermore, Inc. label. 1985 brought Nothing Exists, which emphatically laid out the themes of his subsequent work. A burst of creativity led to the swift succession of Victim Of The Sky (1987), Deeper (1989) and Null (1990). Often, Copernicus would perform with large-scale ensembles, but in 1991 he initiated the practice of giving completely solo performances, revealing his declamations in a stripped, confrontational space. He views himself as a conduit for abstract ideas and philosophical notions. Copernicus decided that his particular marriage of music and narrative was the best way to communicate his thoughts and concepts to a receptive audience.

He released "No Borderline" in 1993, but there was to be a longer gap before the eventual release of 2001's "Immediate Eternity" -- which moved in a completely different direction, as its creator was spending increasing amounts of time in Ecuador.

Copernicus was evolving after having spent three years penning his book, also called Immediate Eternity. He linked up with Los Nomadas from Guayaquil, the country's biggest city, and his music moved temporarily more towards the zone of jazz-rock fusion. With 2010's Disappearance, Copernicus made a return to the old established methods, refining them into a distillation of an ongoing obsession with the freedom and beauty of nothingness.

Image: Nevermore Records artist, Copernicus



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