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Brass Menažeri met Mr. Lif way back in December of 2010, when mad genius Devon Leger thought—unlike anyone else in the world—that Balkan brass would make a good backdrop for hip hop. So he invited us all to meet and collaborate in the Seattle Folk Festival. We sent a swath of largely fruitless emails, flew to Seattle, and had a single rehearsal in a puddly coffin factory, with a borrowed Crate bass guitar amp for Lif’s vocals. We didn’t get electrocuted, somehow, and thus we didn’t make use of the factory’s usual product. Instead we created a collaboration method based on live remixing the band, slicing and rearranging our repertoire on cue, muting and soloing sections of the band & looping sections willy nilly, like a DJ might if they held dictatorial control over ten people, instead of Ableton Live.

You weren’t there, but it was awesome.

We loved it & rocked it. We decided to make a record, raised money from friends & faithful strangers, recorded a lot of music, the band disbanded, some people loved and lost, others simply waited, we composed & recorded & edited & re-recorded (in three different countries) & cut & recut & recomposed (& decomposed a bit—happens to us all), and now only seven years later, you’re holding this thing in your I-wouldn’t-say-grubby-exactly hands, praise the laud.
We’re so eternally grateful to all those who believed in us and supported us throughout this long process; to all who donated to the project; to Waxsimile Records for putting us over the top; and to you for listening to the final result. We hope you enjoy this crazy fruit of our crazy labor & our crazy love. And while the world's winds whip up certain uncertainty, may we breathe deep & build Resilience together—our intertwined roots anchoring our supple-yet-shatterproof trunks, so that everyone's limbs might offer up their most beautiful particular fruit, to nourish us all, while we birth again the world.

—Peter Jaques, Athens 2017


released November 3, 2017

Produced by Peter Jaques / Mr. Lif / Eric Oberthaler (eO)
Executive producers: Tim Boyle / Briget Boyle
Recorded by Scott McDowell at Hyde Street Studios, San Francisco; Dan Fries at Freeze Land
Studio, Berkeley; and by our own selves in our mobile labs in Kensington, Thessaloniki, Athens,
and Istanbul
Mixing & additional production by Peter Jaques / Gianmaria Conti / Eric Oberthaler
Mastered by Eric Oberthaler
Design by Dejah Leger
Photos by Anastasia Kuba & Ilianna Skoulaki

Mr. Lif, vocals

Brass Menažeri:
Peter Jaques: director, clarinet, trumpet
Briget Boyle: snare drum, vocals
Sheldon Brown: saxophone
Darren Johnston: trumpet
Larry Leight: baritone horn
Rachel MacFarlane: baritone horn
Eric Oberthaler (eO): trumpet
Michele Simon: tupan
Evan Stuart: sousaphone
Alexander Zendzian: baritone horn
Erika Parissi: additional vocals on tracks 2 + 7

Jeff Haynes, Virtua Stab Publishing (SESAC); Peter Jaques (BMI); Darren Johnston, (ASCAP); Eric Oberthaler (ASCAP)

Kickstarter executive producers: BayWolf Restaurant, Tim Boyle, Jefferson Breland, Wes del Cid, Jesse Ducker, Sam Genovese, Sissy Jaques, Justin Kramer, Devon Leger, Stephanie Love, Helen and Jon Stuart, Leah Vass, and Janice Weingrod.


all rights reserved



Mr. Lif & Brass Menažeri Oakland, California

In 2010, Hearth Music arranged the ground-breaking collaboration between Mr. Lif & Brass Menažeri for the 2010 Seattle Folk Festival. That work has inspired these artists to work together long-term. The fruits of their creative melding can be heard on their up and coming release. ... more

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Track Name: Rebirth
This is driving through Cali on a beautiful day
This is the reassurance that'll wash your worries away
This is rebirth when the whole earth has gone spoil
This is poetry that helps to calm my inner turmoil

At first glance
You may not give us a chance
Then your feet start to tap
And you start to dance

Break out of that tiny box locked in your mind
The confines
That got you walking through these lost times

The second hand vicious
The minutes are malicious
My brain was saturated
Aggravated by traditions

But what if I just don't fit in this shit
The complex world we study years to grip

I say no to junk mail
To email
To polls
And paperwork that’s only there to muddy my goals

It's life off the grid
It's So often hid
From 1 dash 7-2
Your newborn kid

My key to life lately
Man I had to simplify
Don't bury me with amenities
I'm gonna die

Allergic to bills
But assertively chill
I like to workout
I exercise my free will

Hills I climb
To get a view of the signs
It's The beauty of creation
Yes it's truly divine

My inner peace shine if I finding my calm
But if not
You'll be alarmed
Cause I'm dropping a bomb

An explosion
Of the truest devotion
To constant evolution and perpetual motion
I'm known to roam around the earth
I could be your neighbor
You may see me later
I'll ask you for a favor
And in return
You've got a friend for the long haul
I'm sending only positive vibes when I spot y'all
The simple things in life
My humble aspirations
Man, you healthy & safe?
Track Name: Crypt of Lost Styles (feat. eO)
To open up the crypt of lost styles
Had to throw a boulder cross Nile
Change the weather
frost now
I arrive
I'm alive
With energy to
Mend the earth where lands split
Write a verse in Sanskrit
My style
Envision this as docile
But notice that the rhythm is
Skull boring
Waking up your brain snoring
Frame goring
Squeeze a cloud til rain's pouring
Turn a desert plain orange
This warrants riptides
Message coming via fax
Better hide the battle axe
Get your game face on
Mud mask
Come and hug an A-Bomb
Feel the blast, Stay strong

If you call Po
Imma wrap myself up in the cosmos
Not close to your location
Witnessing the earth's rotation
Made of gases
See a star that's wearing glasses
That's me
You wanna talk about milenniums?
I saw the last three
Stand from ya
Ban summer
Disallowing seasons
Betting odds or evens
That's for breathing
Where the Gods are eating
Humble pie
Even as they put the sun to sky
Wonder why
You think you're greater than
A simple homo sapien...
Adjacent men in suits
They rally troops for loot
They think your value's moot
So you're a new recruit
Does that compute?
Or do you need another graph
Hug a bomb
Feel the blast
Revel in the aftermath
Track Name: Aftermath
I was so disoriented after the blast
I couldn't grasp
They float past
The aftermath is grey skies
Where the fallout lies
Radiation in my lungs
So I radiate live
Once upon a time, I had a bright idea
About a cross I bear
now it's not quite clear
We've all got our own woes
On the soles of regret
With every step it gets worn
But a part of you yet
I feel a ray
Could it be a beam of the sun
That's hope
That's light
That's love
That's right
I rose to my feet
It took me all of my might
Now I'm standing
I'm landing on the dawning of a new age
With analog thoughts
On a digital page
If you see me embrace
We're lost in the race
Our fingers on the pulse of this life
Let's keep pace

The pace car
Was a space car
It drove according to whatever your tastes are
I face far
Listening to the unknown
The Audiographer
Oddly vivid with one tone

The paint brush lush
..Drunk with bright ideas
The doubts then hushed
Inhibition will fight fear
And give birth to reflex
The smooth instinctive
The snare hits the Modus operandi for business
It shatters the status quo
best to let those matters go
Focus and regroup
Yeah my suit is anti matter bro
Looking through the fallout & all the rubble
I guess that it was time to see the modern world crumble

I stumble half a block
And feel the after shock
So if you see me again, you'll know we have to talk
Then embrace
We're lost in the race
Our fingers on the pulse of this life
Let's keep pace
Track Name: The Wanderer (feat. DJ Mr. Sonny James)
You've now entered the zone of a true rolling stone
A lost wanderer
Every place I go
I partially know
With no great detail
I just keep sailing away
To see another spot
Another day
Every location
Sparks a little sensation
But never makes me feel whole
Hence I've gotta go...
The Musician with no muse
Life with no rules
I Travel, entertain, and amuse
Then I heard a voice and saw a spiritual beauty
That made these ever moving feet simply stop moving
She danced with a grace
And her beautiful face...
Displayed the type of smile that made my journeys worthwhile
Now I see clearly
I need to have her near me
Approach for a toast while my heart beat barely
Estonia to Macedonia to Ancient Rome
I think I just discovered my home

CHORUS Translation
I traveled, mother, I went to Tetovo to see Mirvet and to steal her eyes. I went to a wedding to play; I saw Mirvet, who danced beautifully, leading the dance line. My heart stopped beating. I married her and brought her home; I gaze at her eyes; I kiss her hand.

I'm coming to you through a frigid storm
Through the crystallized particles where a blizzard's born
It isn't warm
And my spirits' torn
though my actions are wholehearted
The crossroads of martyrs may be where this all started
She acknowledged me
Then set my spirit aglow
As she spoke in such an eloquent prose
Written on the weathered pages blessed by ancients
As majestic as pride tamed by patience
on many occasions
Prophetic equations explaining life's essence
Can't describe this feeling
I'm alive in her presence

I could see she could escape
Into the realms, I roam
She held her own
She spoke in some epiphany tones
Her presentations of revelations
Were a throne
She had built for me her man with the most precious of stones
We painted with a vast brush
Like every stroke was our last touch
Eternity had slipped past us
Concealed under sheets
Woven of bliss
Holding me close when she spoke to me this
Words I can't share
No, I won't dare
For fear of the reaction when desire hits air
Bright light ignites
Scaring dark with a spark
Moonlight unites with her lower back's arc

This feminine figure
With a silhouette story
This unbeknown glory
That unfolds before me
Estonia to Macedonia, to Ancient Rome
I know this woman's love is my home
Track Name: Burning Up
Since you’ve gone I’ve been pining for you,
I long for you and grieve for you.
I cannot find my peace without you,
I cannot go on without your kisses.

I’m burning up, I’m going insane without love, know this!
Don’t let, don’t let this be the end for us.

How can I love without your love when every part of me is a part of you?
The nights are cold and empty as can be
Since you, beloved, are no longer by my side
Track Name: Hump Day
So we got a little budget now
To make the record
We had some options
and we selected to live together
Peter, Briget, and me
Up in North Cali
In a nice little crib
Epicenter creativity

Briget's a workaholic waking at the crack of dawn
I'd see her in the morn
And I'd greet her with a yawn
Oh he's still sleeping from the gig last night
The homie rocks in like 4 different bands
Yeah, that's right
And Who me?
I could have gone out
But I was skipping

Being a hermit as usual
I'm just living

How should I start the day?
Maybe some green eggs
And some French toast
To the utmost
Why would I eat some green eggs?
Well, Let's see
It's my specialty
So peep the recipe

Use the medical
Humboldt County
Break it up and sprinkle in the frying pan soundly

Add a little butter
Let it simmer at low flame
Mix it with the eggs
I'm feeling like I've got 4 brains

Peter wakes up
And I can clearly see the code
My mind is aglow
Now I'm ready to go
He fires up the studio
The magic commence
Please turn the music up in my phones
Let me vent

C'mon everybody
Now it's Wednesday night
It's hump day
For me and the band
It's a fun day
People bailing in the door
Sousaphone sounding raw
Lug in the equipment
Put the amp on the floor
When everybody's settled in
Horns start to blow
Y'all know I like my beer, so the brew starts to flow
Today is a Chimay day
Or maybe Racer 5
That'll get me live
And then I hear the vibe
Take a sip
Then I started to rip
A verse
We rehearse cause we're staying equip
With state of the art art
In 4 or 5 jams
We start to see that we may have an album on our hands
The energy builds and then the house starts rocking
But yo, keep it low before the neighbors come knocking
Not again! Very sorry my friend
But remember we agreed that we can rock until 10
Track Name: What About Us?! (feat. DJ Mr. Sonny James)
We're out of limit now, enough is enough, you're sitting on billions of dollars
But what about us?
One government, one world motto,
"In God we trust,"
But what about us?

I write my rap quotes on bank notes
And bank statements that don't make sense
Around the time it's time for me to pay rent
My patience is running out, the truth is coming out;
Abusive clout, CEO's using large amounts
We could never dream of for leisure
It's like we're in a war without a heater
A broken-up casino staring at the dealer
Light ya sensimilla
They rush to lock you up for puffin on the stress reliever
And Obama wouldn't stop 'em neither
Whooped McCain, let me explain
I got lost playing your game
They pumped a couple of slugs in my frame
We're all tax payer slayers, turn the other cheek
The regulators, trust-betrayers
Reagan 'n Nixon never betrayed us
Poorly portray us, program us just to sway us
Farmers with favors, then use em just to dominate us
And now you're bent on 700 billion just to save the children?
Y'all motherfuckers bound to make a killin'!

We're out of limit now, enough is enough, you're sitting on billions of dollars
But what about us?
No health-care, just enough change to ride the motherfucking bus
But what about us?
Our biggest mistake was giving you trust, you live in plus
'n you don't give a fuck about us
One government, one world motto,
"In God we trust,"
But what about us?

Is this in our best interest to infest the world with stress?
Just so you can trespass, I guess you answer yes
As we linger at the precipice just to hear from dying, hear the crying
That old couple with the hopes of retiring
About to pop you with the iron, trying hard not to let go
The goals he set from the get-go
Lost the power in the price of petrol
And now they patrol and so the story goes
Definitely no memorials, tutorials
On this don't exist, income taxes just a myth to make the bankers richer
So they can sell you half the picture
Then seize ya assets quicker than you can go acquire them
We have the right to fire them, then say we're co-conspiring
Through silence, through science, that's social
And economic, you manufacture our consent to make a profit
The paper's been powerless since they left the gold standard
They're using currency to rule the whole planet

We're out of limit now, enough is enough, you're sitting on billions of dollars
But what about us?
No health-care, just enough change to ride the motherfucking bus
But what about us?
Our biggest mistake was giving you trust, you live in plus
'n you don't give a fuck about us
One government, one world motto,
"In God we trust,"
But what about us?
Track Name: Guiding Light
I'm deep inside a zone and I can't return
I'm standing in the flame and I can't be burned
The fire all around me extolled my flesh
I'm blessed by the warmest caress and yes
I do have strength and I'm fighting this fight
The world closing in on me
so I do write
My pen can bend from now til then
I can mix eras with a perfect blend
And when you talk about it, it becomes new trend
I travel round the world and I make new friend
The energy from those conversations send
A positive vibe that'll help you mend
Create it on your own, and you make it your home
No matter where you are, you know you're never alone
We're right there with you on your darkest night
Consider this melody your guiding light

Verse 2

Where did it take you?
Did you create too?
I'm hoping you'll tell me that it leads to a breakthrough
When those walls come down, we arrive
Empowered and alive
In a place, we can thrive
Did you know your light shines so brightly?
I know at first it can be a bit frightening
Exciting nonetheless
Cause the stress
That used to haunt you seems to have gone to
A place so far and distant
It's almost as if this never existed
Twisted how the status quo we know
ain't designed to let our inner light glow
Now, who does this benefit?
Will we see the end of it?
To keep our spirits untarnished and benevolent
Follow your bliss
and I'll leave you with this
Nothing but love coming from Brass and Lif

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