Alice Shields: Apocalypse, An Electronic Opera
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR647     Release Date: 2007-01-01
Performers: The Woman, The Seaweed, and Chorus: Alice Shields; Shiva: Michael Willson; Electric Guitar: Jim Matus; Keyboards and Synthesizers: Alice Shields

Apocalypse is an electronic opera for live and recorded singers, choreographed with movement patterns from the Hindu Bharata Natyam dance-drama. The present recording contains selections from the complete opera, and is essentially the tape part of Apocalypse, created with MIDI and analog electronic music technology. In live performance, the soloists and chorus sing along with their already-recorded electronically-manipulated voices on tape. All of the voices you will hear on this disc are my own—sometimes heavily manipulated, the only exceptions being Scene 46 "Aeon" and Scene 60 "Organ Screaming," in which the role of Shiva is sung by the baritone Michael Willson; and Scene 50 "Eating," which is rendered by myself and Jim Matus, Jim being a gifted belcher who can perform upon command. Jim also soloed in this scene on broccoli; I accompanied him with yogurt. The various "bird" and "sea-lion" sounds are also my own voice; I'm sure my operatic voice teachers would be proud.

The central character in Apocalypse is "The Woman," who journeys from conception, to birth, to her meeting with and initiation by the Goddess, whom I've called "The Seaweed." The Seaweed is a sort of biological Aphrodite who emerges from the ocean covered in green sea-slime and algae. She communicates with the Woman through phrases based on the Bhagavad Gita. But instead of Krishna's emphasis in the Gita on duty and emotional detachment, the Seaweed teaches empathy, emotional attachment, and reverence for all life.

After taking on herself the persona of the Goddess, the Woman prepares for her meeting with the God, whom I have termed Shiva. Shiva appears as both the ascetic god covered in white ash, the inhabitant of graveyards, as well as the erotic god covered in flowers, the riotous companion of a forest-full of women. In Apocalypse, Shiva teaches identification with all life, the breaking of the illusion of separateness, through the vivid metaphor of sexuality. The opera culminates in the Woman's ritualized union with Shiva in the form of a stylized enactment of the Tantrik maithuna, the love-making of Shiva and Shakti, of spirit and matter, mind and energy, asceticism and sensuality.
—Alice Shields


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available for order from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

Michael Willson

Alice Shields: Apocalypse, An Electronic Opera

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $15.99

Track Listing

Apocalypse: Sacrifice
Apocalypse: The Sea
Apocalypse: First Greeting
Apocalypse: Here
Apocalypse: Truth
Apocalypse: On The Dark Mountain
Apocalypse: Final Question ‰ÛÒ Aeon
Apocalypse: Dismemberment and Eating
Apocalypse: Someone, I Say, Will Remember
Apocalypse: Someone Spoke of Your Death
Apocalypse: Apocalypse Song
Apocalypse: Heat Drum
Apocalypse: Organ Screaming
Apocalypse: The Dawn Wind