The San Francisco singer-songwriter crafts a dense reverie on his latest record, Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope.
What? Best known for his 1999 project 52 Songs, for which he recorded and released a track online every week for a year, Michael Zapruder is certainly prolific — but it’s his songs’ quality that’s noteworthy. With the recent release of his new album, Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope, Zapruder expands on his lilting, dreamlike folk. He builds symphonic compositions in the mold of Sufjan Stevens or Andrew Bird. On the album’s nine-minute centerpiece “Black Wine,” for example, angelic harmonies add an ethereal feel to an otherwise earthbound ballad.
Who? This longtime Californian singer/songwriter and guitarist first gained attention as a member the Naked Barbies, which self-released three albums between 1994 and 1998 before adopting the moniker the Vagabond Lovers. The next year Zapruder was writing and releasing solo material (52 Songs) and in 2002 released his proper debut, This Is a Beautiful Town. He also formed an orchestra dubbed Michael Zapruder’s Rain of Frogs, which features members of the Decemberists, Pink Mountain, and Camper Van Beethoven. His second album, 2006’s New Ways of Letting Go, was credited to the orchestra. For Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope Zapruder tapped 15 additional musicians to realize his vision, using a selection of unique instruments including the claviola, wurlitzer, and contrabass clarinet.
Fun Fact: As a day job, Zapruder serves as the music curator for the “personalized internet radio service” Pandora. Zapruder has said the position helps him approach his own music in a more detail-oriented manner and leaves him hyper-aware of copying the music of others.