All the Cats In Hell

All the Cats In Hell is a concept album: seven songs and sound collages about cats, the infernal, and combinations of the two. I don't have anything against either of the parties involved-- though I do think they go well together.
This project is dedicated to Panther, Molasses, and Mandolin.

The Playlist

  1. All the Cats In Hell (instrumental)
  2. Dead Cat Swing
  3. Keys to Kitten (instrumental)
  4. Oni-Neko
  5. One Blue Eye, One Green
  6. Life No. 10
  7. The Hell in All Cats (instrumental)

1. All the Cats In Hell

From silence, a low rushing sound arises. Suggestive of both flames and water, it never becomes loud enough for the distinction to be clear. Slowly, filtering up through this layer of noise, we hear small noises. These do become loud enough for us to distinguish: they are the voices of cats. Meowing, rowling, purring, yowling. Not a cacophony or din, these sounds are more in the nature of night-time crickets, or cicadas during the day. Now near, now far, all varied in temperament. Just as we become accustomed to the peculiarity of it, the cat voices quiet down a notch. Now we hear a new sound, a simple snatch of melody played over and over. Now a clarinet, now a saxophone, now a bass, now a piano... Some of the instruments sound far away, some sound hollow, some like they're filtering through water. The melody is from Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf: it is the cat's theme, repeated again and again. After they have played for a minute and a half, the whole soundscape recedes.

2. Dead Cat Swing

(This one is meant for a vocalist and swing band. Horn section, bass guitar, as Brian Setzer as you like. After a nice lead in, the singing starts...)

I'm huntin' for some rythm
I'm huntin' for some chords
But all the tunes I'm catchin'
Are stiffer than a board
Now I don't care for killin'
I only wanna play
Let's get this dead cat swingin'
And send him on his way
So don't sit in the graveyard
And don't stand by the door
You can't swing a dead cat
Without hittin' the floor

I know a cat who used to swing
Until he crossed the line
He played away lives one to four
And crashed from five to nine
We oughta go and wake him with
A high hat and a fife
We'll bring him to the party
If we can't bring him to life
Let's get some voodoo goin'
Some pandemonium
You can't swing a dead cat
Without bangin' the drums

(Various drum and instrument solos)

Swingin' from the top shelf
Swingin' from the rail
Swingin' from the rafters
Those feet'll really flail
But don't just let 'em dangle
Start scratchin' with those claws
Stalk the syncopation, man
And pounce upon the pause
Then tell me, Mr. Prowler
Tell me, wha'dja find?
You can swing a dead cat
'Cuz the kitty doesn't mind

(More instrumental flourishes, then big finish)

3. Keys to Kitten

Through the talking of a piano, we hear the story of a young cat's encounter with an older, more experienced... er, Tom. Whether this is ultimately played by two hands or four, there are two voices whose courses approach each other, but never cross. Kitten stays on the right side of the keyboard, Tom on the left. Kitten apppears first, idly strolling up and down the keys. If she hits the odd sharp or flat, it is a fortuitous accident.

After only a moment to familiarize us with her voice, Tom leaps in at the extreme opposite end of the piano, hitting the scene heavily on all fours. By simple instinct, Kitten jumps back defensively in a scrambled echo of Tom. Tom slowly but calmly walks up the keys, methodically, non-threatening, a more complicated and aware use of the black keys.

After a moment of hesitation, Kitten approaches the middle too, attempting to copy Tom's moves but having a harder time of it-- she is less practiced, and doing it from the mirror position. As they are almost within range of each other, Tom makes an overconfident mistake and rushes in a little too close. Kitten takes a swipe at him and scampers back to the other end of the keyboard, panicking the keys there in a nervous staccato.

A pause. Tom takes an inquisitve step forward and is rebuked with more of the high staccato. Another pause.

Carefully, obviously, Tom withdraws a ways off. In his new location, Tom begins to dance. He dances slowly at first, executing little turns but never straying too far from where he is. Again, shyly, Kitten begins to echo him. As her moves become more confident, Tom speeds up. They are beginning to speak to each other across the piano, Kitten matching Tom's tempo and tone and throwing in some notes of her own. As they reach a crescendo, the two suddenly break from the dance and rush towards each other, perfectly in synch, chording along the way, racing closer to middle C and then--

4. Oni-Neko

(A spritely, vaguely saccharine J-pop song begins to play. The melody is nice but forgettable. It maintains normal song volume, but instead of lyrics, we hear a man calling for his cat. His words are in Japanese...)

Oiii-- neko-chan!
Kocchi kocchi!
Gohan da yo!
Neko-chan? Chu-chu-chu-chu...

(Rough, not-literal translation:
Here, kitty!
Puss puss!
Dinner time!
[tongue-clucking noises])

(The J-pop song adds a female voice or voices merrily Na-na-na-ing as back up.)

Aa-- kitta ka.
Saa, dozo...

Ah, there you are.
Welcome back.
Here you go...)

Nan da...
Hen na kao shiteiruzo.
Neko-chan no me wa chotto...

Man, you look funny.
Your eyes are kind of...)

(The man's voice becomes increasingly agitated. The music stays perky.)

Nani wo shiteiru ka!
Gohan wa booru no naka ni aru yo!

What the hell are you doing?
Dinner is in the bowl, you nut!)

Oi-- koi na!
So na jiro jiro miru na!
Ie-- ore wa gohan janaizo!
Ie! Iiiieeeeee!
Neko-chan wa oni-neko da!

Hey-- don't come any closer!
Don't stare at me like that!
No-- I ain't your dinner!
No! Nooooooo!
Kitty is a devil cat!)

(All human voices on the track begin screaming and panicking. The music wends it's merry way towards a quaint ending.)

5. One Blue Eye, One Green

(Spoken by one rough voice, with snatches of beat-style instrumental accompaniment. Tom Waits, where are you when I need you?)

Why are your eyes on fire
When your whiskers don't match?
You got too many teeth
Too much tail
A tired tread--
Your ears get another notch
Every time some pigeon turns up dead

Your shoulders are too narrow
For all the chips you've collected
You trip up
You stare down
You itch like thirst
You keep your knives protected
But you can't hide your worst

Was that you stole Bad Dog's boots?
That you left blood on the porch?
You don't answer to your name--
Nobody likes it
Your breath is mean
You got a face like a dying torch
One blue eye, one green

You got a face like a dying torch
One blue eye, one green

6. Life No. 10

(A meddley. Each declaration by the calm narrator is interspersed with three to five measures of the indicated song, played in a burst by the swing band...)

One for the money
... "Lucretia, My Reflection," Sisters of Mercy

Two for the show
... "Kiss Them For Me," Siouxsie and the Banshees

Three to get ready
... "Bela Lugosi's Dead," Bauhaus

Four feet of snow
... "Strange Days," The Cure

Five more verses
... "Love Under Will," Fields of the Nephilim

Six feet under
... "Dead Man's Party," Oingo Boingo

Seven as a heaven
... "Nemesis," Shriekback

Eight as a wonder
... "Come This Far," Cranes

Nine missed chances
... "Paint It Black," The Rolling Stones


7. The Hell In All Cats

The whole band plays slowly, achingly, trading off the part of the lead melody. Again, they play the cat's theme from Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, only now, they play it backwards. Every one takes a turn. Fade out, end.