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May 21, 2014

Slowly, very slowly the horizon comes into view. Well, horizon, let's keep it on a street corner for the time being, as there are still a few miles to go with this project. And I'm talking about Cleopatra- The Crown of Isis, which we (Irene Linders and I) started writing about two years ago. The first street we crossed was writing lyrics and music. Although the lion's share was almost ready by November, the last song (an instrumental piece, called Philae) did not cross safely until the end of January. Meanwhile, a start had been made with the recordings - if we do not count my own input for a moment. The composition and playing of the keyboard parts are an extension of each other, and the adjustment and addition of the keys in practice only ends when the mix is going to be done. Week after week new vocal tracks were added. Fortunately, the calendars of my colleague Kayak members are well-filled, but that also means decisive planning. If we are not careful, we will still be singing next year and that is of course not the intention.

The story of this rock opera (we call it that, the best of all names it covers) is, that should come as no surprise, based on the life of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Although there are few people who have never heard of this special lady, you notice as a maker that most do not get much further than: did she not have something with Julius Caesar? I must honestly confess that, before I had delved into this matter, my own knowledge about this did not go much further.In 'our' version (we have, just like with Nostradamus), opted for a chronological story with some original additions on our part.

The existence of every main character - we have five - has been documented, but some people know a little more than others. Much has been written about her two partners / lovers Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius, from the moment that both were still alive. These two characters are 'interpreted' by guest singers Alexander van Breemen and Martin van der Starre. Of course we could have searched for well-known names at home and abroad. This provides all kinds of benefits, such as publicity and the chance of more sales by fans of those 'stars'. But we chose to search close to home; there is more than enough talent and quality in the Netherlands. It also gives you more peace of mind: you also have the time and the opportunity to try things out and, if necessary, look further.

Within the band we obviously have Cindy Oudshoorn who takes care of the leading role. Let's face it, Edward Reekers or Rob Vunderink would have been hard pressed to come across as convincing as the Egyptian queen. Edward 'is' in this project Appolodorus The Sicilian. This man really existed, and was a loyal follower of Cleopatra at the time. Since he was soon heard of nothing more, we gratefully used it to encourage his 'faithfulness' somewhat to a secretly cherished and at the same time impossible love. He tells the story (singing, of course), but from a different angle and his own tragedy. Finally, Rob, who happily took on Cleopatra's demise as the General (and later Roman Emperor) Octavian. This inflicts devastating defeat on her and her lover Mark Antony, which ultimately leads to their suicide. Well, it was indeed not all fun at the time. Good thing it turned out this way, because for our story it works fine and the drums were recorded at the end of February. That happens in a 'real' studio, because here in my own recording room, or with the other band members, that is technically not possible in terms of space and logistics. Hans Eijkenaar does such a double album (with 23 songs with percussion) within two days: and then he is home in time for dinner.

Due to my sudden substitution with the English group Camel, the further recordings had to be moved back a month, which is why we could only start with the bass of Jan van Olffen at the end of March.At the same time, the guitar was added: most of it happens at the hh. guitarists at home. They listen to my demos with fake guitar, hear what I want and then make something nice out of it. I receive the files via e-mail and we-transfer, which I then put in the computer and 'align' with the existing recordings. It gradually becomes like a tape, although the individual members hardly see each other during the recording process. For some specific wishes that cannot be explained by e-mail, Joost Vergoossen and Rob come to my house for another day. Have we had everyone who can be heard on the double album? Certainly not. There is also our good friend Marjolein Teepen, who already assisted us with advice and assistance, song and dance at Nostradamus. She participates (as Charmion, lady-in-waiting and confidante of Cleopatra) on two songs. Irene speaks out on 'Hail'- and with that I immediately come to a large number of unknown participants in this project: the audience in a full Boerderij in Zoetermeer at a Kayak performance on December 28th. After some explanation from Edward about the intention , everyone there loudly chanted "hail!" as did the enthusiastic crowd that Julius Caesar used to cheer during one of his triumphs through Rome.

Finally: strings. As beautiful as the synthesizers and samples may sound, nothing beats the real thing, that is, real violins played by humans (or strings in general). For this I asked Maria-Paula Majoor (of the string quartet Matangi, whom I knew through Youp van 't Hek). She and two colleagues (Daniel Torrico Menacho and Robert Baba) came here for half a day to play a number of parts that had already been done on the keyboard. Do not tell any further, but the combination of (twice) three violins plus synthesizers here and there suggests that a large string orchestra is at work. And that was exactly what I wanted. Apart from the budgetary problem that such a whole orchestra poses in a matching studio, with such a small group you have more control over timing and interpretation, especially if you are allowed to work with good musicians who understand what is intended - and in a single if the errors in an arrangement locate earlier than the arranger (ie the undersigned) himself.

Now that everything is pretty much on it, it will soon be the turn of Hans Eijkenaar, who will do the mix in his own studio. Of course I interfere with the end result, but for now he can go ahead and make a nice set-up of the more than 7 quarters of an hour of music, which now contains (difficult to estimate, but at least) a few thousand hours of work. turn into? Or is it ready after three months despite the more than two years of work that we have had? Well, you could, but I don't really believe it. If you stop to think about that, nothing will come out of your fingers anyway. But admittedly, they are not bite-sized chunks. As is often the case, we do not choose the easiest way. A few things happen musically and lyrically. You can also only get the most out of this project if you also delve a bit into the background and, for example, read the texts. In short, something is also expected of the listener. Of course, it is music and it should appeal without all those extras, all those layers, all that history. But if I can draw a parallel to sports (and why not), it's nice to see a game of soccer, volleyball or baseball. A hard shot, a diving goalkeeper, a goal, things like that are recognized by everyone. But if you don't know the rules and intentions of the game, you still miss a lot.

The plan is to release the 2CD on November 1, currently exclusive to the webshop and the tour merchandise. Two months later, it will go into regular sale, so that the album will also be available in stores - if it still exists - and via other internet channels. During the (rather short but intense) tour at the end of this year we will play a number of songs, which are best suited for performance in the club circuit. Ultimately - but not yet this tour - we envision a very theatrical version, with many more testers and bells. Hopefully that will all work out. Cleopatra- The Crown of Isis, an orchestral and ambitious project, will do best in this way. However, this is, quite literally, still future music.


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