NEW YORK, NY – (WiredPRNews.com) – One of the world’s most provocative visual artists, multiple award-winning Andres Serrano, has stirred up controversy over the past few decades at exhibitions across the globe – from the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in his native New York City to Barbican Arts Centre in London to Collection Lambert in Avignon, France. But despite his global renown in this arena, Serrano has long found himself equally moved by the cathartic power of music. At last fulfilling his lifelong rock and roll ambitions, Serrano adopts the alter ego “Brutus Faust” to unleash “Vengeance Is Mine,” an infectious set of 13 originals and covers of classic songs as edgy and soul-provoking as his famed and passionate photographic artwork.
Helping “Brutus” pay homage to his favorite era (the 60’s) is producer Steve Messina, co-founder of the eclectic NYC based rock collective Blow Up Hollywood, and several members of this veteran band. “Brutus,” whose distinctive voice bears the grit of Bob Dylan, the world weariness of Lou Reed, the high-octane yowl of Rocky Erikson and the outsider edge of Daniel Johnston, hooked up with Messina through Marcy Jellison, a renowned vocal coach he began working with three years back. While this is the first time ever that Serrano has translated his musical dreams to a commercial studio recording, his extensive career includes several impressive visual forays into the world of rock.
Perfectly coinciding with the release of “Vengeance Is Mine,” heavy metal legends Metallica are re-releasing their multi-platinum 1996 album “Load” on vinyl. The cover of the album is an original Serrano artwork entitled “Semen and Blood III,” one of three photographic studies created in 1990 by mingling the artist’s own semen and bovine blood between two sheets of Plexiglas. His work “Piss and Blood XVII” was used on Metallica’s 1997 follow-up, “ReLoad.” Serrano, whose most controversial work was 1987’s “Piss Christ,” later directed the video for industrial metal group Godflesh’s “Crush My Soul.”
For Serrano as “Brutus,” the project began with a series of cover songs he has long loved, ones he chose to dramatically reinvent. Like a lot of Serrano’s artwork, “Brutus’” intentions in calling his debut “Vengeance Is Mine” are slightly ambiguous. He originally came up with the cryptic title because he intended for the collection to be completely comprised of re-workings of the classic songs he loves. We can also conjecture that some of the vengeance may be connected to his turning his back on the art world, for the moment, to explore a new means of expression. Like all his work, Serrano simply created the sounds to please himself, to satisfy a long-standing, personal creative urge.
The album’s 13 tracks include eight covers highlighted by a quirky twist of The Temptations’ Motown era classic “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),” one that seems to put Dylan in Detroit, and a punked-up cover of “It’s Now Or Never,” where the ghost of crooning Elvis dances with the thrash-n-sneer of Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols. His gritty approach to other familiar classics like “Bad Moon Rising” and “House Of The Rising Sun”— as well as a whispery ballad version of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and a gutsy cover of “Black Betty” that reverts to the original Leadbelly vibe – wring out the lyrical emotion of these tunes like few previous versions have. Complementing these well-known pop nuggets are five original songs, including several penned by Serrano’s girlfriend Irina Movmyga, including the title track and “Bloody Laurels.” The uber catchy bounce of “Goo Goo Gaga” conceals a lyrical dark look at the reality of today’s world, one that “Brutus” co-wrote with Thad DeBrock and Messina.
Coinciding with the release of the album are two short films for the tunes “Goo Goo Gaga” and “Love Letters,” visuals essential to complete the song-art in the words of their creator. “Goo Goo Gaga” consists mostly of black and white public domain footage from the 1930s, which makes curious parallels between the Depressions of yesteryear and today, along with the images of the leather-mask clad “Brutus” shot by the extraordinary Francesco Carrozzini. “Love Letters” is cut almost entirely from footage taken from the late cult director Joe Sarno’s erotic masterpiece ”Flesh and Lace.” Sarno gave Serrano his blessing to use this footage shortly before his death, and the final film is dedicated to the director. Both short films are brilliantly edited by famed New York film editor Vincent V and can be viewed at www.brutusfaust.com/videos
“Vengeance is Mine” was recorded at Spin Studios in Long Island City, engineered and mixed by Nik Chinboukas and Gordon Davies and mastered by Roger Lian of Masterdisk. It is available on iTunes. For song samples, biographical info, videos, photos and more, go to www.brutusfaust.com and find the artist on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.
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