Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk: Understanding Music Through Geometry


Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk: Understanding Music Through Geometry from Carl King.

This is Episode 3 from a low-budget video podcast I created in 2007. I shot it entirely myself on a Canon GL-2 in a bedroom in Culver City, California. As the character Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk (imagined as an evil version of John Tesh) I attempt to explain some of the unusual rhythmic ideas I’ve used in my music for a decade. Tuplets, borrowed rhythms, Pointillism… call it whatever you want, but it’s what I did while no one was listening in 1997.

Five Points of Interest:

1.) At the time this video was made, I was unaware of the animation company called Titmouse. In the video, I was actually referencing an old Sir Millard Mulch skit written by LevelNivelo, from back in 2002, in which “The World’s Greatest Commercial resulted in the extinction of the entire species of Tufted Titmouse.”

2.) That pinky ring can be heard intermittently beeping / screeching against the guitar strings on the Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk album, “Why I Am So Wise, Why I Am So Clever, And Why I Write Such Good Songs.” An old Jim Martin trick.

3.) I’ve never been a warm and empathetic person. I tend to make others nervous. I think I’m borderline Asperger’s. So it amused me greatly to invent this character who over-emphasizes his facial expressions, getting applauded for every pose and phrase that no one would typically laugh at. People want facial expressions from me? Fine, here they are. I love the idea of a parallel universe, where Dr. Zoltan is the greatest comedian ever known. These videos reminded me of those crazy Japanese commercials or game shows, so I had a guy in Japan send me those overdubs. I still laugh at the titles every time they come up.

4.) Making these 3 stupid videos taught me the skills to become a professional video producer for music instructional videos. All of the mistakes I made with that cheap gear helped me develop a workflow for lighting, sound, editing — and I’ve made a lot of money. Had I not struggled for hours through making these stupid videos… wow…

5.) The design of the series was inspired by a scene from V For Vendetta. I was in love with the idea of some renegade broadcasting his unpopular ideas on unsuspecting viewers. Except in my case, I wanted people to be confused… to feel as alienated by my videos as I did by Blink 182. Imagine how upset people would be if Dr. Zoltan saturated their world! “Does this guy think he’s funny?” I wanted revenge. And I succeeded, because this video got hundreds of angry comments / threats of violence on YouTube before I took the series down.

So there it is. Maybe someday I’ll upgrade the production and writing, and release a new series. I could certainly do a lot better now.

If you want to hear what can be done with the abstract musical ideas in this video, you can check out some of my records. You might also want to experience Drum Battle: Dr. Zoltan Vs. Marco Minnemann to hear it taken to a fun extreme.

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