INSTRUCTIONS: For the best possible experience, be sure to listen on high quality headphones or stereo/surround sound speakers. Oh, and turn off all the lights.
Make sure you listen in the evening, sometime before bed. After listening, do not consume other forms of media. Head straight to sleep for wild dreams!
Personal Statement from the Producer:
End of Time was born out of toxic situations in my life. I was unhappy with my working band because I was bullied, harassed, and told that my ideas were never good enough to be used. This pushed me to unleash my creative forces into a meditative rock oratorio.
This record serves as a way to acknowledge the struggles of existence, and to realize that despite all of the struggles there can be peace. It is an odyssey of thought on the ups and downs, the misery and hope of life.
RUN TIME: Approximately 45 minutes
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Sam Fishman
MUSIC BY: Sam Fishman, Kurt Wubbenhorst, Ryan Acquaotta, Samantha Cram
GUITAR SOLOS: Alex Goldenthal
ORCHESTRAL ARRANGEMENT FOR VOICES EMERGE:
MIXED BY: Shane Stanton
MASTERED BY: Andy Vandette
Kurt Wubbenhorst, Sam Fishman, Ryan Acquaotta, Samantha Cram, Alex Goldenthal, Bergen County Academies Chamber Choir (conducted and led by Lou Spinelli), Christine Nevill.
Analysis by Dr. Patrick Finley (Dr. Finley is the recipient of two “New Jersey State Council on the Arts” grants for his work as a composer)
Liner notes edited by: Jeremy Fishman
Spoken text written by Jeremy Fishman and narrated with effective grace and inflection true to the text’s message by Debbie Grattan, “End of time” consists of thematic tracks woven into a continuum, a kind of rock oratorio leading the listener literally “to the end of time”, the end of one’s life. Along the way we will hear jabs at our social conscience and imagery of “nightmares rotten to the core” and “slavery and genocide.” Yet, for all the portions that are direct in their delivery, there maintains a subtlety to the poetry and lyrics as the album glides from section to section.
The Musings Of Your Heart
Don’t Forget You Can Breathe…
Begins: “Every living creature has a guardian,” opening with a meditative calling to examine our “distractions.” This leads us to a plaintive solo violin with middle eastern slurs and short glissandi with a segue to another recitation “it is ok to be uncertain, to not know,” and “We are so much more than we could ever dream.” This sets a spiritual tone for the entire album with its hint of mysticism.
“Begin to place the blame” a sudden shift to a series of transcendental mellow riffs presents a more metric rhythmic section. Here, the dm-E7 –F Maj progression finally explodes into a full-band sound with “is this a dream?” Both the music and narration are abstract, speaking of searching.
Pure Kinetic Energy – the next meditation “You want to see what is ahead but smoke obscures your vision.” “To escape this labyrinth, you need to fly,” a fitting line that introduces the following tracks’ resolution.
“The sun will warm my hollow bones” – on a tonic pedal “I need some guidance before I fall.” The instruments do not overpower the voice…the text is of primary importance, and the accompanying mix makes sure of that.
The improvisatory guitar strains amid the pleasingly arranged background of rhythm guitar, drums, and bass join together in a fine balance of background effects, when suddenly, another shift, which by now is accepted as part of the weave of the album. Here is the lead guitar playing an easy rock progression, accompanying the text: “I need some guidance before I fall.”
Background voices with strings mellow the harder, grittier previous sections…. where now the strings and voices play and build over a repeated progression, moving pleasantly onto some very effective string writing. Here, and in several places in the album, there is a sense of overall continuity with its unifying musical text collages, which, while constantly changing, meld into a very satisfying whole. It would work very well as a movie soundtrack, with its memorable rhythmic drum tracks and overall sense of drama. The voice leading in this section is excellent. It elides into:
”Joy fills your being as you twist and tumble out of the labyrinth, you look down into the maze one last time to understand its grand design” which takes an agitated turn as the narrator shows us a vision of those in chains, weeping.
Stolen Lives –Prison is the theme of this track, “dreams this never ending war” “are we ready to wake up…this nightmare’s rotten to its core.”
The agitated music matches precisely the mood of the text with its twisted imprisonment theme: it takes on a harder rock feel with the text “the price of the ticket.” This is one of the heavier rock tracks. It shouts about “this never ending war”, asking us “are we ready to wake up.” Multiple layers of effects make this an exceptionally rich track.
The work is always taking us to something new…a second voice, the inclusion of strings, sudden shifts of mood. This song has as its refrain “are we ready to wake up?” with a brief but impressive drum solo over a static sustained vocal effect.
Sulfuric Fumes of Fury
“You rocket downward, you are a rocket, a missile, you smell sulfuric fumes of fury and amid this, a welcome sensation…peace”, but adds that to obtain this, “one must enter the dark (a reference to St. John of the Cross perhaps). The mystic who speaks of the essential “dark night of the soul” in one’s spiritual journey. Intentional or not, it has the same effect, and works very well here.
Again – hard upbeat, agitated guitar riffs, lead guitar sounding with rapid improvisational licks. The drums are very well attached to the rhythms of the other instruments in sections, all the while the lead guitar coming and going with this rapid, traditional and cogent hard rock passage.
This is in Dmaj, and when the high A sounds out near the end–the climax–it is very powerful. Leading to a steady beat pounding loop that ends the track with a fadeout.
Final Distance to The Clock
This instrumentals-only track begins — unusually! — with a fade-in of the closing loop of the previous track, which, when it reaches full volume, leads to an extended drum solo. It is nicely balanced with the various drums and cymbals when it is joined with new age effects reverberating in the background. A heavier, more rapid drum solo soon follows, modified by electronically generated sounds.
At length, a low pitch enters, then another, in a series of accumulating layers. The drummer cues us that it is winding down, leaving behind only the sustained generated tones in a very engaging set of effects which, as we are now accustomed, change color suddenly for what might be a new section but are the final fading effects of the track.
The Space Between Calm and Catastrophe
The solo violin returns with simple arpeggiating triads, serving as a backdrop for the narration.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen, but here you are…you always thought that here would be more love, more light, but none of that matters. You are approaching the end of time…. what are you going to do, knowing that soon, you will be gone? Words like “before” and “after” have no meaning.”
“Look up and see the windshield smashed in, smoke rising from the car…and know that you have arrived.” So at last we learn that the searching, the unresolved sense of the poetry has, all along, been leading to the very literal ending of life in a car crash (perhaps symbolic, perhaps literaly?) All the while the violin arpeggios lead directly to…
The End Of Time
The female vocalist returns to accompany spans of drum and guitar riffs. The guitar plays n subdued but dramatic tones, as the vocalist sings:
“Will someone save me, for I feel I’m going insane,” and “I can see what’s coming and I’ve made a grave mistake.” This becomes more and more dramatic and louder and louder, leading very nicely into a hard rock fortissimo segment, the vocalist now shouting her lyrics over a slow, heavy beat.
This leads to an abstract guitar and vocal loop dressed in undecipherable reverb. The loop repeats for some time, but the vocals provide forward momentum to a cadential sporadic thumping in the drums. Starting, stopping, vocals at a pitch, with the sparse drum licks coming in closer and closer intervals – we are taken into a driving yet very lyric:
“You cast your shadow…I see your face a million times”…here is a loud, slow rock climax, closing with a sudden stop of all its forces, a welcome relief from the standard fade out. Then silence, and:
A Short Dream/A Short Dream Revisited –-solo piano! Very simple tonic octave in the bass with a simple disjunct melodic line (which recalls the violin’s very similar effect). Our poet returns:
“it may seem like you have no escape from the chaos…it may seem like you have no way out. But no matter what happens, you can always take refuge in your dreams…..you will find peace”.
Piano octave and simple right hand is joined by sustained vocal effects (no lyrics…just a vocal accompaniment). Strings join in this much welcome switch from hard rock to sweetness. It is a lullaby, the female voice on “ooh”, the melody begins, and returns with a motive which contains very few pitches, and remains simple with layers of sustained color keeping our interest.
There is a very resolute, satisfying sense of arrival in the final track – serene, reflective, and harmonically still – as the frantic activity of all the layers, their variety of texture and color, rock us gently over these sustained tones. There is a chiming of the tubular bells. The end of the album.
Its message of odyssey, of searching, that is stated in elegant chaos. The album’s title “End Of Time” we realize, has been taken literally by the artist. We are carried through passages of great agitation and grasping lyrics, to find ourselves literally at the end of time, where all is settled.
This is not an album with 15 songs on it. It is a narrative, an odyssey of thought on the ups and downs, the misery and hope of life, with its resolution residing in our death. It is very reminiscent of Moody Blues’ 1968 classic In Search of the Lost Chord album, with Graeme Edge’s poetry, and Fishman even concludes “Sulfuric Fumes of Fury” with a creaking closing door. Shades of “House of Four Doors”! Though much of the poetry is dark with references to shadows, insanity, disdain, and rotten nightmares, there is a spiritual message that, in the end, there is peace. Although not stated outright in the text (for which we are relieve…being obvious is too easy), it is the music that delivers us from all of this, and not sardonically, but with an organically arrived-at consolation.
The album’s tracks vary in presentation, but these highly creative shifts and turns unite them by the thread of the narration winding its way through each song.
The journey is rich in its rewards and satisfying in its constantly changing color and text. Often, artists who attempt to unite disparate elements into a whole end with a desultory product. But “End of Time” succeeds on all fronts in its sense of purpose and coherent vision. It is the potency and deft structuring that makes this not just an enjoyable piece of contemporary rock, but a significant one.
“Sam Fishman has always had a penchant for not going by the book, and his new record End Of Time is testament to this. The usual album-format is thrown away with here, in a way that psychedelic rockers Pink Floyd did back in the day. They created music that was blended by their own rules instead of a set format of music tracks, and Fishman has done the same. With short commentary pieces that separate the music and push and underlying story, it’s an inventive record full of clever ideas and addictive melodies.”Vinyl Chapters
“The album takes you in a memorable journey by a stand-out collection of progressive rock intertwined with mythical storytelling of 15 track. While listening to it you will be find most of the tracks are storytelling about; “some heavy topics in this recording. - Accepting dicult feelings. - Finding inner peace and strength - Mass incarceration/wrongful imprisonment - Texting while driving (music video is on youtube. This could be an interesting and impactful way to market/make a difference for the better).” - Sam explained.”Rockera Magazine
“The End of Time is a worthy listen for any rock fan who’s willing to step outside of the box and contemplate tunes that have a greater scope than just getting to the next riff. Fans of Rush, Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie will probably become fans of Sam Fishman with this one as well.”Alternative Control
“Marvelously wrought, End of Time creates an alluring sonic vista, strange as a dream, while simultaneously asserting its vitality. End of Time is a work of pure genius.”Tattoo