NOTE: For a shorter, and more complete experience, follow this link to hear a 4 minute demo reel narrated by the composer as he previews the album for you:
The album was originally conceived to be a vinyl EP with both sides carrying identical labels. The idea being that what happened on the "first" side would recur on the "second" side, with both sides having roughly the same themes and structure but in mirrored order, with two different "outcomes" or endings.
I was thinking about Berlioz' "Symphony Fantastique." I first heard that symphony when I was 10 or 12 years old, and it was immensely impactful and changed my concept of what music could do; his use of cyclical treatment of the main motif to hold together an otherwise insane story of hallucinogens and romantic love by using one guiding theme that repeats throughout, but imparts a different meaning and significance with each repetition in context - until it reveals its final, true meaning and impact only at the end - was mind-blowing to me as a young person.
It made you want to get up and walk around. It made you want to thrash and headbang and scream. It brought you to such extreme levels of joy and sorrow, and I never forgot these feelings as I got older, and became a musician myself. I discovered Gershwin and Tchaikovsky and Beethoven and all the other greats as I got older, but my own concept of music itself was shaped primarily by Dittersdorf (which made me jump around naked until I turned 8 or 9, and is a practice I am pleased to report that I have brought back into fashion as an adult), then Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, and finally, Berlioz.
Simultaneously, the synthesized sounds of the Blue Sky Rangers from my Intellivision, the cacophony of the Vegas arcades in which I grew up, and the ever-more sophisticated and detailed (yet drastically paired-down) compositions and arrangements of the great composers (who were predominantly women, especially in Japan) for the 8-Bit games of my youth in 1986 were super influential to me.
I wanted to take these tight, super-punchy, extremely iconic, 3 voiced, synth themes and turn them into a rocket-powered roller-sled that combined all of the above (and 25 years as a composer and pianist) into one album.
In late 2021, I decided to do "Slutty Wizard," and thought how compatible this idea of having a record with the same label on both sides was with the awesome game design of "Castlevania: Symphony of the Night," which was a brilliant game where they allowed the player the freedom (and tricked the player into thinking) that they could beat the game in a few hours by simply going after the main boss, who was deceptively easy to reach. This gave you one ending to the game, but - if you explored the castle more thoroughly, came to understand its secrets, and found areas of the map that were off the beaten path, you eventually understood how to unlock the second castle, which was the same game map, but upside down, and that was absolutely brilliant to me. In this second castle, all the enemies had been replaced with different, more capable enemies, and the whole thing was so much harder that you had to learn how to prepare for it through sheer experimentation and careful planning.
So I had Berlioz rattling in my brain, and CSOTN's secret, dark-mirror game design jangling around in there as well, along with this idea of an album that you would never know if you were putting the "A" or "B" side down unless you read the grooves, and how, even then, it wouldn't matter - cause you'd just keep turning it over and over again - which mimics the way we played (and still play) games.
I also had the 1960's musical adaptation of "Canterbury Tales" running through my mind, because, once I started pulling the voice samples (which was a horrendous process I'll describe later), I realized I could do some truly funny stuff with the cringe-factory of all-time classic lines from these games, and decided to basically take some of our favorite characters into a mind-controlled parallel universe where evil wins, good is dumb, and all is corrupted (in the style of "Rocky Horror Picture Show").
So, to do the interim total, we have a recursive, semi-Chiptune, videogame, tragi-comic, science fiction, magical, sex adventure, all done in a semi-symphonic form.
The album began to get complicated as I pulled the samples I thought I might want. Most of the music had been written and recorded at that point, but I knew I wanted to capture and manipulate and twist some of the opening voice lines from CSOTN, and that sent me down the rabbit hole. I eventually included three other storylines (each terrifically demented; the villains from one story are the heroes in the others, etc., a true multiverse mind-fuck), and so adopted a vignette approach to each track, which I began to think of as scenes in an abstract play.
I had to then decide how I was going to get the most exciting tracks to be listened to - which had been a consideration since I began working on the compositions themselves in longhand, but now that the idea of a short run vinyl album was off the table, I had to do some serious soul-searching. All of this was being done using manuscript paper with a pencil and a dope sheet and cue list, so it was a hell of a process.
At the end of the day, with our release deadlines fast approaching, I decided on breaking it into 5 parts, still clinging to the fantasy of a vinyl album, consisting of 2 sides, even though by then the whole thing had gone completely out of control and could only be published as a digital release.
Ultimately, I totally fucked up this step of the release through our publisher, somehow believing that we could include an art-book or liner notes beyond the mp3's. When setting up the publishing arrangements, I didn't understand that making each track available as a single would completely break the album. I guess it's preferable to only having 2 tracks (discreetly labeled side A and AI), but, again, I didn't fully understand the implications of breaking the whole thing into singles... Regardless, I regret this very deeply, because I thought I would have more control over the final product, and that I could publish a really cool diagram (which I am working on) that shows the actual structure of the album done up in a really cool, Gothic, blood-splattered manuscript page kind of "secret map" format, but the published-as-singles thing took all control away from me. Such is life.
I'm not sure what's going to happen to "Your Mom Is A Slutty Wizard" now that it is approaching full release (which I guess will be completed sometime towards the end of July), but I do know that it was a labor of love that I poured every ounce of my energies into. It's terrifying to me now, as Tchaikovsky said of his 6th, that I have to send - perhaps my most complex, obtuse, and strange - of my musical children out into the world to defend itself alone and on its own terms. I don't think many people will understand it without hearing it, and I don't think that many who will hear it will truly understand it, but I think (and hope) that (like the parents of all special children) "Your Mom Is A Slutty Wizard" will thrill and delight and confuse and bewilder and mystify listeners long after I'm dead. I'm biased, but I believe it to have some very good qualities, and really just hope it can find its audience.
-Seth Fingers Flynn Barkan
Las Vegas, NV 2022-06-22