This journal entry first appeared sometime around September 30, 2012. It was part of a series of posts I made describing the process of creating my album, Acolytes of the Machine & Other Gaming Stories. When we migrated the website, all the blog entries went away. Many of them have draft versions on my hard drive, and this is one of them.
Four villains on their quest for revenge try to save the world from a dark angel. (Campaign: Hamanuptra)
Song title: Massacre Anne
- Mary Crowell – vocals, piano, accordion, clarinet
- Jeff Bohnhoff – acoustic bass, drum programming
- Maya Bohnhoff – backing vocals
- Michelle “Vixy” Dockrey – backing vocals
- Teresa Powell – backing vocals
- Brenda Sutton – backing vocals
Friday [in September of 2012] we played another session of Wesley’s Hamanuptra campaign. Our four characters are deep within the belly of Sekmet just realizing they are actually inside the Thothian Crocodile god they were looking for it. It’s like Palmolive—we’re soaking in it. All too soon we will be out of the pocket dimension (if our party doesn’t die) and resuming our trek across the desert on our post-apocalyptic mammoth we picked up along the way.
Most people who play Dungeons & Dragons or some other role-playing game find their characters in a situation that seems wildly improbable to anyone being forced to listen to the story of the campaign. Yet, it makes perfect sense to all the people at the table (if they have at least one note taker or a player with a good memory.)
“Massacre Anne” was my attempt to write a theme song for our Hamanuptra party: Gitche Gume, the necromancer; Vechter, dwarven priest of Dumathoin; Arcus, air elemental familiar turned rogue; and Massacre Anne, the assassin.
We’re the heroes, although we are definitely not on the side of angels. A dark angel of Set is responsible for both the destruction of Anne and Arcus’s beloved master wizard and their city. Another emissary of Set is hunting down the necromancer, so that he can eat his soul and destroy the world. Our dwarven priest has been ordered by his deity to witness things his deity wants witnessed and protect the necromancer while he’s at it.
And that, my friends, is why the lyrics of “Massacre Anne” are so trippy. After writing the lyrics to “Massacre Anne,” “Rupus Fugue,” and “Pretty Little Ladies” I have found myself wanting to reverse engineer trippy lyrics like “Main Street Blues” by the Red Stick Ramblers and Eagles’ “Hotel California” into one shot adventures or mini campaigns. I’ve got the “Main Street Blues” adventure mostly worked out already.
The Musical Style
“Massacre Anne” is a relatively new song compared to some of the others on Acolytes of the Machine & Other Gaming Stories. I wrote it last summer in the same week I wrote “Post-Apocalyptic Blues” the other Hamanuptra song. Also in 2011 I discovered Zoe Lewis’s album, Rotary Phone, one of the most exquisite gems I have ever heard. I love all the songs, Lewis’s voice, the instruments, the way the album is mixed. Everything about it!
So when Jeff Bohnhoff, the producer of Acolytes, asked me what particular sound I wanted, I bought him a copy of Rotary Phone.
There is a particular song, “Barbizon” that we both especially liked on Rotary Phone. It has a French jazz quality with accordion that is just delicious. It is in triple meter, and so as it happens is “Massacre Anne.” I sent Jeff a scratch track of “Massacre Anne” about a year ago, and after tossing around a couple of ideas we knew it should have a French jazz feel to it. Clarinet would be part of that. F minor becomes G minor on a Bb instrument, and G minor is just a lovely key to improvise on in clarinet. I began working on clarinet riffs for MA.
November 4, 2011 I flew out to San Jose and recorded the piano for Massacre Anne and several other songs. Saturday was vocals day, and after testing both a ribbon microphone and a condenser we decided on the condenser for that batch of songs.
Later, clarinet was added in March when I was back in California for Consonance. (All four Three Weird Sisters were Guests of Honor in 2012.) I added the midi accordion during one of the March sessions. Jeff bought a very nice sampled accordion sound—complete with button clicks—that is amazingly realistic sounding. (That said, I want to learn to play a real keyboard accordion, but I’ll need to shop around a bit for a nice instrument.)
The additional vocals were all added the Monday after Consonance in March. Teresa Powell, Brenda Sutton, Michelle ‘vixy’ Dockrey, and Maya Bohnhoff worked out who would sing what and took turns singing their harmonies in the very cool whisper room that the Bohnhoff’s have out in their garage. This was incredibly fun and relaxed—especially for me. I had already done my parts for this song. Actually, the emotion could better be described as a mixture of awe and delight.
Also, while we were at the Bohnhoff’s we used our Ipads to create a Happy Birthday message for Debbie Ohi (who as of this reblogging just had a birthday!) and then it was time for first vixy and Tony and then Brenda to fly home.
Teresa and I got to stay an extra night with the Bohnhoff’s and enjoy their most excellent hospitality.
There will be more posts about the songs on this album forthcoming!
Massacre Anne Inspirational Round Up