Copernicus
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Copernicus

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Spoken Word Rock

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Music

Press


"Harrowing journeys of beat poetry and psychedelic/jazz improvisation into the irreducible atomic. Copernicus (born Joseph Smalkowski) stands at the cosmic podium, the bellows of nihilism heaving in his chest, and for sixty some-odd minutes everything we thought we knew about the universe is incinerated. Recommended to sonic adventurers who enjoyed sailing with Captain Beefheart and The Red Krayola." - Dave Connolly, PROGROGRAPHY


"...supreme vocal ranting!...If you're a hardcore jazzoid with no tolerance for anything "different", you'll shut this down after the first few bars, but if you prefer true adventure in your musical experiences, this is the ticket. I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & tell you that if you're IN to spoken word - you've GOT to have this one!" - Dick Metclaff, ROTCOD ZZAJ


"There isn’t much else I can say about "disappearance" except that it is a unique listening experience and possibly a work of genius. Or madness." - Jez Rowden, ZUNDAPP MUSIC REVIEWS


"A compelling and altogether mind-bending voyage it is." - Glenn Astarita, ALL ABOUT JAZZ


"...quite a spectacular album that traverses many different musical landscapes." - Floyd Bledsoe, PROGRESSIVE EARS


"As an exploration of physics and the nature of the self, this performance is as practical as a spelling bee conducted by email. 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. I give it a twelve, with five kudos carrying four gold stars." - Bill Shepard, BILLY'S BUNKER


"Wordplay is the keynote here, as Copernicus weaves wisdom for the modern man, comparing society's decay to particle physics. His wordage flows with an appealing cohesion, delivering jarring concepts in liquid vocabulary. His voice, rich with a gravely timbre, demands attention." - Matt Howarth, SONIC CURIOSITY


"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."
- Marc C. Tucker, FAME (FOLK & ACOUSTIC MUSIC EXCHANGE)


"After treating us to his wonderfully challenging music for over twenty-five years, it's fascinating to see that Copernicus is still as daring as ever. Make no mistake, "disappearance" proves that Copernicus can still rattle cages like no one else. - Gary Flanagan, NIGHT WAVES


“An eye opener! Masterpiece!” - Harry de Vriers, PROGLOG AFTERGLOW (Holland)


Discography

New album:
disappearance (2009, Nevermore/MoonJune Records)

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 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;
JAMES FRAZEE recording & mixing engineer.

All lyrics by Copernicus. All music created spontaneously and instantly by the musicians.
All rights reserved. All vocals of Copernicus created by Joseph Smalkowski.
Executive production by Joseph Smalkowski.
(C) Nevermore, Inc. 2009. (P) Nevermore, Inc. (Ski Music Division) 2009.

Recorded on November 2nd, 2008 at Water Music Studios, Hoboken, NJ. Mastered by Kim Rosen at West West Side Music/Deko Music.

Special thanks to Michael Theodore. Additional thanks to Fernando Natalici & Adnor Pitanga.
Very special thanks to Marcela Smalkowski, Leonardo Pavkovic and Pierce Turner without whom this album would not have been created.
This album is dedicated to Jimmy No Coats.

Previous discography:
Nothing Exists (1985)
Victim of the Sky (1986)
From Bacteria (1987)
Deeper (1989)
Null (1990)
No Borderline (1993)
Immediate Eternity (2001)
La Eternidad Inmediata (2001)
Immediate Eternity II (2005)
La Eternidad Inmediata II (2005)
Die Sofortige Ewigkeit II (2005)
L'Éternité Immédiate II (2005)

Photos

Bio

Perhaps the most fitting way to describe Copernicus is as a performance poet. Even though he (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 organizes 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 2001's Immediate Eternity which moved in a completely different direction as its creator was spending increasing amounts of time in Ecuador, where the Spanish version of the album La Eternidad Inmediata was released the same year. The album is followed by 2005 releases of Immediate Eternity II, Die Sofortige Ewigkeit II (in German), L'Eternite Immediate II (in French) and La eternidad inmediata II (in Spanish). 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. Now, with disappearance, Copernicus has made a return to the old established methods, refining them into what is probably his key distillation of an ongoing obsession with the freedom and beauty of nothingness.