"Here's a fellow with musical ideas in his soul." Barry L. Cohen, The New Music Connoisseur Vol. 9, No.2-Summer 2001
Pro-Choice on Mental Health -- THE REVIEWS
Peter Dizozza - Pro-Choice on Mental Health
Well this is certainly not something we at Smother.Net get every day. This monologue/mini-play all about mental health or lack thereof is quite compelling. Although it may have some roots in the anti-folk movement this is much more brilliant and original. Consisting of seven songs that are mixed with monologues that move along the whole theme, “Pro-Choice on Mental Health” asks the question of whether mental health is a choice or is up to chemistry. Quite interesting and no words could do this album justice so pick it up for yourself.
"Dizzoza(sic) is the latest (and possibly strangest) star of downtown NYC's anti-folk scene to make it across the pond. Imagine a nerdy John Turturro playing Woody Allen and channeling Harry Nilsson and you're half way to grasping the Sondheim meets Burroughs vicissitudes of new CD, 'Pro-Choice On Mental Health'." Time Out London, January 30th, 2002, Issue Number 1641.
NEW REVIEW from Indieville.com, April26-May 2, 2004Peter Dizozza's ambitious Pro-Choice on Mental Health album is a "seven song cycle with monologues and mini-play." Essentially, this means you get seven tunes (with melody and rhythm), and then a batch of spoken word recordings, either with just Peter alone or with other actors as well. The topic is, of course, sanity - how one should feel entitled to act as they wish without being deemed "insane" or "unstable." The songs comment on these matters, while the spoken word pieces satire society's viewpoint on the subject.
The tunes themselves are largely piano-and-vocal-driven numbers, melodic and funny in nature. "Let Me Be (With You)", for example, is an amusing and remarkably catchy number, with one basic (albeit common) message - we should all have the right to be what we want to be. Meanwhile, the corny Vegas-crooner influences of "The Song of Laughter and Forgetting" make it one of my favourite songs on this album.
The disc also comes with a computer component. This is, basically, a short excerpt from a film called "The Last Dodo." It's a bizarre, ridiculous video-clip that will be enjoyed by fans of the absurd. It doesn't really have a connection to the rest of the album, but makes for fun viewing nonetheless.
Dizozza's opinions are idealistic, and his music reflects that. Sometimes Pro-Choice on Mental Health can get too repetitive and preachy - this is often a problem with albums based largely on monologues. However, if you're up for some very interesting outsider pop - with a message - the large base of material on this disc should keep you entertained for quite a while.
[Vitals: 18 tracks + 8 hidden, distributed by CD Baby, released 2001]
February 5, 2002 "Peter, I LOVE Pro-Choice on Mental Health. You get me at that crying/laughing cusp." -- Polly Paulusma, London based singer songwriter
Thanks for "pro-choice"- it's funny, disturbing, and really odd. (Mark
Flake at Wood Records,
a Midwestern disc distributor).
Inventory #: wd53 -- PETER DIZOZZA: PRO-CHOICE ON MENTAL HEALTH feel free to lie down as you experience this delightful and strange seven song cycle with monologues and a mini-play. Playful in a painful and disturbed sort of way and highlighted by excellent production values. If Stan Freberg and Dr. Ruth had a bastard son raised by the Lunts, he might sound something like this very earnest and odd disc from NYC's East Village.
"The Song of Laughter and Forgetting" is included on Wood Record's 2003 Compilation -- "Saturday Night Cedar".
Here's a thoughtful review by Luke Martin of Splendid Magazine.
This is an odd CD. Inside its bright pink cover is a collection of narratives and songs, as well as a mini-play, all about the idea of how much choice one can exercise in terms of mental health. Prozac Nation meets Sondheim? Kind-of: if you could work a bit of Ben Folds into the mix, you'd have it nailed. And hey, it's not every recording that features a narrator who walks through Williamsburg, calls up Alban Berg to ask how his wife is, or imagines he's a horse owned by a violent jockey, is it?
Musically, this disc is quite simple: Dizozza sings and plays keys, while producer/recorder Joe Bendik handles guitar, bass and percussion. This is the sort of setup that means that anything less than strong songwriting will see the music flounder -- something that occasionally happens, though it's usually overridden by the croaky appeal of Dizozza's voice.
"No Problem There" hits the same sort of stridency that drove Billy Joel back when he was still writing compelling material, and contains some ballsy piano playing that is the first hint -- along with some pretty nifty vocal doubletracking, in places -- that Dizozza can hammer together a great tune. Sure, the form that he's writing in can sound a little limiting at times, but there are some sly guitar additions, and some pretty liquid lyricism -- "The Song Of Laughter And Forgetting"'s Freudian bus-ride, for example -- that can carry over any background cheesiness.
In terms of professionalism and pizzazz, I found it really, really difficult at times not to think of Christopher Guest's film Waiting For Guffman. I can only assume that Dizozza is incredibly honest and dedicated about this topic; it's this naïveté and lack of overt "Look! It's irony!"-style asides that make the album work. While there are a couple of moments where Dizozza's narrative veers towards the overtly Woody Allenish, the honesty that's hinted at (and finally loosed on the bonus monologue on the Social Security Department) is what makes this disc successful: it's honest and unadorned.
Enhanced copies of the album come with Queen Lili Ukalani's Bonus Sampler: a collection of tracks from other Cinema VII recordings. These throw the tracks on Pro-Choice On Mental Health into sharp relief: their seriousness is underscored, whereas some of the sampler's tunes sound like just...songs. Still, it's interesting to hear what else rests in the CVII stables: my interest is definitely piqued.
Pro-Choice On Mental Health isn't the sort of thing that I'm going to put on the stereo very often, but in a way, I'm glad that it's there. It's a reasonably well-written excursion into musical theatre that doesn't rely on (God forbid)
Lloyd-Webberisms to work. The album engages a topic that's of increasing importance, but seems to do so without
any tedious voice-of-God-style proclamation. And it's good, dorky fun that's not afraid to be serious. That, I like. -- Luke Martin.
Peter Dizzoza - Pro-Chioce on Mental Health - an eccentric NYC performance artist who puts on musical plays and does monologues, weird stuff, kind of like a schizophrenic Woody Allen
Gregg Luvoxx" <email@example.com>
One of the CDs I acquired in NY, "pro-choice on mental health" by Peter Dizzoza, given to me by John (Kessel) is quite amazing. This guy is a nut and he has several other musical plays available at his website.
Lopez 4:17 PM 12/13/02
Date: 5/24/2002 1:33:10 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Pro Choice was great.
Pine Bluff Commercial (Arkansas)
May 21, 2003
World of the Weird
By Kristofer Upjohn
It's actually scary that there's this much experimental music to be unleashed on the world. Heh heh. "Pro-Choice on Mental Health" is the name of a neurotically loungy offering from Peter Dizozza. The work is described as a seven song cycle with monologues and mini-play. The strange series of songs are strung together with intermissiony tracks of Peter's quirky satirical commentary. The lyrics are poetic, clever and engaging and would fit in nearly any style of music. I could see them in brutal metal music, angsty alternative, punk rock or - - or the zany music to which Peter chose to set his lyrical output. The core of the music is simply piano and Peter (which could have been a good album title, as well, though one is hard pressed to beat "Pro-Choice on Mental Health"), with a few other little back-up elements here and there. The oddness/experimentality of the music doesn't lie in any one element by itself. Peter could easily lay out a chilled out night club lounge set if he wanted.
The lyrics, in and of themselves, are well-crafted but don't, on their own, relegate themselves to the
fringe. It's when you fuse the disparate pieces together you get something more than ordinary and less
than mainstream. Peter Dizozza is a talented song-writer who has made the artistic decision to live life on the fringe.-------------------------------------------
THE APPLAUSE APPLAUSE REVIEW
It's the 4th of February, 2002. The language contained in the following essay should leave the reader with no doubt that it is meant to be a negative review of the Pro-Choice on Mental Health CD.
Applause! Applause! Volume VIII, Issue 2 Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens Editor in Chief, Tel/Fax: 718-357.7075 A subscription publication
John Patrick Schutz
Pro-Choice on Mental Health - Peter Dizozza
CD Review (CVII Recordings)
As the album cover states, "Pro-Choice On Mental Health - A Seven Song Cycle with Monologues and Mini-Play" originated on a Strange Folk Sunday at Lach's Fort at SideWalk in January of 1996. Somehow though only thirty-seven minutes and twenty seconds long, the piece seemed to me to take at least two or three geological ages of the world. Then I actually had to listen to it AGAIN in order to review it properly. I would love to sue to get that hour and a half of my life back. To be fair, I am unsure whether this performance art piece is to be taken seriously or considered a satire of the mental health system in this country. If seriously, I am very frightened for the artist, and suggest that he get a new therapist and get off the medication he claims on the album they are prescribing for him. If this is indeed satire, I failed to find the humor. Yes, our mental health system leaves much to be desired, and yes, the "magic pill" for every problem in your life may have created a generation of insecure neurotics who think peace of mind can only be found through chemicals. Unfortunately, this piece doesn't find any recognizable humor in these foibles. The monologues are abrupt and lacking in focus, and the songs are recorded with the singer off-key against a synthesized score with a mechanical rhythm device. Again, extremely unfortunate if serious and extremely annoying if purposeful.
The song lyrics are simplistic and without clear direction; "Thank you doctor, you heard all of it, and your pills they do not hurt a bit. I have been caught in time, to sit with dreams benign. But come the clear sign, I lash out like lions - in their prime." And so on, and so on. If you care to listen to someone else's therapy, perhaps this album is for you. As for me, in ten years of reviewing, I have always strived to find something positive to say about any work I review, no matter how unpolished or incomplete. It hurts me to do so, but unfortunately, the only positive thing I can find about "Pro-Choice On Mental Health is that having listened to it twice, I will never have to listen to it again. The album appears to be available through www.cinemavii.com.
Peter Dizozza comment: It appears from a web search that John Patrick Schutz is a 2 time MAC nominee Cabaret Performer (The Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs gives out MAC awards.). He has worked with Neil Burg, a songwriter/music director whom I know through BMI's Music Theatre Workshop (I enjoyed Neil's Nyack production of "Anyone Can Whistle" in the early 90's).
Although Mr. Schutz's review is dismissive, I find no fault in it. I question whether he uses the literal meaning of the word "listen," since I contend that if he had listened he would have enjoyed the album. His quote from "The Song of Laughter and Forgetting" is representative of my lyric writing. I do not claim to take medication in the album. Although he states it as obvious, his well-worded statement, "Yes, our mental health system..., Yes, the 'magic pill'...." accurately summarizes the album's intent.
March 28, 2002 "I listened to your CD, bizarr. I loved the topic, dealing with mental health, disease, all those strange and capturing areas approached by a intellectual. I think the music is stylish, has a raw beauty to it and connects to the subject on a sharp way, definitely has an edge to it , also has a surprising even shocking quality." Zoi Florosz (Hungarian Performance Artist).
March 30, 2002 "... loved your CD it made me laugh. We're considering adding some of the monologues to a future show. All the best." Sean Ison, ILR Australian worldwide radio network
Here's you're chance to get your copy. (The new edition of 1000 copies is enhanced with an MPEG scene from The Last Dodo and bonus tracks -- alternate recordings of songs from upcoming CVII recordings.)
Upcoming releases: The Last Dodo Soundtrack, The Prepare to Meet Your Maker Soundtrack, & Songs from The Golf Wars.
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