For Immediate Release
Art Rock Band Schooltree Descends into Crumbling Dreamworld with Multimedia Epic Heterotopia
Boston, MA - When music trends pander to the lowest common denominator, the real rebellion discards formulas and charts a stubbornly individualistic path. That's where we find Schooltree on their second release, Heterotopia: forging a new standard in sonic storytelling and taking us through cracks in the sidewalk into other worlds.
Four years in the making, Heterotopia is a symphonic odyssey through a dystopian dreamworld: a 100-minute double record in the tradition of ambitious concept albums like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Quadrophenia.
Underachiever Suzi loses her body and must make her way through a parallel world of the collective unconscious to get it back. But the road she travels has been overtaken by shadows and chaos. In order to become whole again, Suzi must uncover the origins of this darkness, in a journey that takes her from the neon lights of her plasterboard horizon home to the bottom of a cursed river, where the fate of this place and her own are inextricably linked.
Now streaming on Bandcamp
Produced by Peter Moore (Think Tree, Count Zero) and Lainey Schooltree, Heterotopia favors warmth and dynamics but also clarity and punch, effecting a sound that’s both classic and contemporary. Dramatic choices like distinct singing styles for each character’s voice and accompanying instrumentation guide the listener through a shifting topography layered with stacked guitar harmonies, crystalline synth leads, odd time grooves and ominous ambient soundscapes.
Heterotopia’s successful Kickstarter campaign raised more than $20,000, with signal boosts from notable artists Aimee Mann, Neko Case, Margaret Cho, Amanda Palmer and Barry Crimmins.
Brimming with ambition, this record is the sound of a group of musicians playing at their peak.
The illustrated book
In a nod to classic opera, Heterotopia’s complete libretto will be made available as a companion to the album later this year, bringing the story and lyrics to life in a full color illustrated book. Combining influences from art nouveau and graphic novels, the artwork has a dreamlike quality that complements the music.
The live experience
Heterotopia's world premiere played to a sold out house on March 31 at OBERON, the American Repertory Theater's stage in Cambridge, MA. Awarded a Live Arts Boston grant from The Boston Foundation, the multimedia performance took audiences inside a 3D interactive light sculpture video installation by Sam Okerstrom-Lang (Samo), a Boston-based new-media interdisciplinary digital artist and designer. Samo’s boundary-pushing work uses technology create an immersive sensory experience, blurring the line between nirvana and dystopia. The installation’s elements were activated in parallel with the performance. Key moments were accentuated with sound and light, triggering an out-of-body sensation of navigating the worlds expressed in the music.
Lainey Schooltree is a Boston-based composer, performer and producer. A classically trained musician and vaudeville performer, humor and tragedy inform each other equally in her work. She explores the intersection of the new and old, always striving for the timeless in sound and theme. Her band, Schooltree, fuses literature and music to create something uniquely accessible, visceral and profound.
Lainey is the composer and librettist of Heterotopia, and will serve as performer, musical director and producer of the live experience.
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PRESS FOR HETEROTOPIA
"Heterotopia is, indeed, an opera, and it operates on an oceanic scale. The music is fluid and prismatic, churning through knotty riffs and shimmery hooks before coming to rest, briefly, in sublime moments of repose." | NPR
"Lainey Schooltree spent years putting together a 100-minute double album telling the tale of Suzi, a dreamer and underachiever who loses her body and has to take a trip through the collective unconscious to retrieve it. Yup, it’s wild — think less 'Hair,' more Genesis’ 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.' " | The Boston Herald
"[Heterotopia] just never tires. It's still giving up its secrets, such is the range and depth of material on display." | Fireworks Magazine
"During a time when the fight for reproductive rights is again part of the national conversation, the poignancy of a writing a character who’s literally on a journey to reclaim her body isn’t lost on Schooltree. And the opera has shades of dystopian fare like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, both of which have seen sales spikes in the 'alternative facts' era." | Scout Somerville
"Here we have an artist who obviously doesn't know the meaning of the word compromise and as such has produced an album that is rich in both scope and vision." | Glorydaze
"One of the most wholly unexpected works of genius that I have ever encountered." | Progarchy
"Taken individually, all of the songs are interesting and enjoyable, and taken as a whole, Heterotopia is a considerable achievement, worthy of notice outside of the band’s hometown, and a notch or two above any number of overblown prog epics from recent years that I could name." | Exposé
"Paired with the heady psychological themes, Heterotopia is a lot to take in at once — but then again, Schooltree never really intended for it to be any other way." | Vanyaland
“Schooltree's music embodies the essence of Art Rock, with catchy melodies, sophisticated arrangements, lush instrumentation, and a wide array of influences that - besides classic prog - include opera, Broadway musicals and baroque pop. Lainey's dazzling vocals deliver lyrics that are humorous and thought-provoking at the same time. Highly recommended to fans of Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Supertramp, Queen and Roxy Music.” | Progarchives.com