arx arcs, hot like an oven


The backyard is a bit of a blank canvas. Barren you might say. I’m hamstrung by not being able to really mess it up because of rental agreements. All up this is the kind of house, we have decided, that would be good to buy, if we were ever going to do that because there’s lots of things we’d like to change. The backyard faces north which is the best I think. The front of a house if for asphalt, road, cars and paranoidly peeking out of curtains onto but the backyard is for living in—and growing stuff in.

I started hacking up some of the lawn near the backdoor along the lines of the permaculture principle of putting the most used things closest. Plus that part of ground probably will get the most sun during winter but I’m not good at geometry so who knows. Believe the hype, there is an app for that but I can’t understand it because again – the geometry.

In right corner of picture is a minor environmental disaster we only just discovered. From the day of moving in there was this terrible strong petrol smell noticeable as soon as stepping outside the backdoor. I couldn’t locate it. Sometimes I’m thick like that. I thought it might’ve been the gas hot water service, but then that’s gas and smells different. It turned out to be a dead patch of grass I guess I overlooked but I assumed no one would ever be so stupid as to pour a can of petrol onto grass. Maybe it was spilled. Either way it happened between us looking at the place and moving in. I had to dig a whole lot out and bin it because after a month it was still just as strong smelling as ever.


De La Soul just released a (For Free-z) mixtape of stuff done by hip-hop legend J Dilla. Very cool.

, — YS @ 10:12 am, March 29, 2014

I can’t get no Devo

Today we might be remembering Devo because their guitarist Dave Casales died but lets take a look at this track.

The thing I like about this is the drummer and how he was basically doing the work of a drum machine – way back in 1978. Apparently he left after this. It reminds me of what post-rock band Battles were doing 20+ years later.

— YS @ 9:57 am, February 19, 2014

Last night on Earth

This is the name of a new album by Lee Ronaldo and the Dust. It should probably be subtitled #firstworldproblems. It’s mostly based on Lee’s experiences of being in NYC during _super_storm Sandy. I’m sure a lot of people had their lives or lifestyles messed up by Sandy but I guess the point I’m trying to make is that it’s interesting to compare the effects that natural disasters have on different parts of the world. Rich places: tens of billions of dollars worth of damage and a few people dead, poor places: tens of thousands of people dead and a few hundred thousand dollars worth of damage.

Most of the lyrics are about the weather and being stuck inside, so I can dig that. I actually quite like the album. Enough to have bought it. I only found out about it through that way that ‘friend of a friend’ way that twitter works. I haven’t kept tabs on Sonic Youth since Washing Machine and I was pretty disappointed to hear that Kim and Thurston broke up under messy circumstances and in a way that makes it seem fairly unlikely that Sonic Youth will ever get back together. And so through twitter I saw a life performance vid of Kim’s solo project body/head. I don’t know if they’re stoners – maybe that’s what summer in Germany does to you. And Thurston’s off having an affair—so when I listened to Last Night on Eart I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Lee has basically inherited the Sonic Youth sound. I don’t know what went on with their last however many albums but there was really only one way to go and that was mellower. That’s how this album is and of course it didn’t hurt that Lee also inherited SY’s drummer, Steve Shelley. Kind of like after the Beatles broke up and Ringo ended up living in the guest house at John’s big-arse mansion. And there’s two other guys in there I don’t know who they are.

There are times when the lyrics or singing sound a tad lame, and this is where there is no Thurston or Kim but Ronaldo’s always been a great guitarist and there’s some characteristically sweet chord progressions in there. You can stream the album here

, , , , — YS @ 9:29 am, December 3, 2013

take another step back

I’ve been battling away with the procrastination and getting a bit of study done of late. It’s related to music and occasionally there’s tracks I want to listen to for reference that I don’t have on any computer here and so I go take a look at youtube. It’s pretty amazing that when you type in artist name – album name – “full album” almost always it’ll show up and you can stream-listen the whole thing. Most middle class people have an internet connection that is capable of that these day. And it strike me that this is probably one main new way that kids are discovering new (old) music now. It’s quicker than illegal downloading and actually it strikes me as odd that the corporate music nazis don’t consider it illegal. Posting 10 seconds of a Simpsons episode will earn you a take-down but as long as it only has a still-image attached you can upload pretty much any album you want and it’ll stay there. Last night I was listening to The Rolling Stones December’s Children. I really like that song Blue Turns To Grey.

, , , — YS @ 9:31 am, September 25, 2013

Rebel without a trumpet

I was listening to this radio mix on ninjatune=solidsteel (get in quick because it’ll only be there for a few more days) marking 25 years since Public Enemy released the album, “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back”. It’s pretty good. There’s some interviews in there with (I think?) Terminator X—I didn’t know he could speak…

Anyway, I was washing the dishes at the time and it got me thinking down memory lane. Vague as the memory is I did actually buy that album back in 1988. We, the family, had travelled up to Geelong from our country station one saturday and I was looking around in Brashes (remember Brashes?). Rather uncharacteristic of me, I slammed down my hard-earned pocket money for the cassette of ITANOMTHUB without ever having heard it, or knowing who Public Enemy were or even what kind of music it was.


I just liked that cover and the name ‘Public Enemy’ sounded really cool. And I liked the little silhouette in the crosshairs logo, which on the back was connected to the phrase ‘public enemy no. 1’ I think.

Anyway, upon getting it home and listening to it I found that I didn’t like it at all! There was too many repetitive loop samples and I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I actually took it back to the shop the next week. The usual practice with tapes like this is that there is no returns because, you know, you could just dub it to a blank tape—and that’s like stealing music, but I guess I must have had such a genuine disappointed confused look on my 14y.o. face that I did get an exchange for something else (fucked if I can remember what now).

These days I do appreciate PE’s place in history but not enough to listen to whole albums of their stuff on a regular basis. And a quick look at the track listings of It Takes A Nation, and its successor, ‘Fear Of A Black Planet’, the latter really does have a lot of classic hits on it.

I really like this mash up of Rebel Without A Pause with a bit of Herb Alpert

But I think my favourite PE track is one that Flava Flav takes the front for, Can’t do nuttin’ for ya man. I like his sing-song delivery. I’m going to try and learn how to play this one on the Telecaster.

, — YS @ 10:38 am, August 6, 2013

Tomorrow’s Harvest: Boards Of Canada

Tomorrow's Harvest

After six or seven years BOC finally released their next full-length album. It’s been a long wait. From memory, the last one, The Campfire Headphase, was one of the first things I purchased over the internet with my (then) newly-minted credit card (really just a debit card but whatever).

Bleep.com, a digital music store, sent me the link to my purchased download last Friday night—much earlier than I was expecting! And so, each day for the last week I’ve been having a listen to the album to get a feel for it. BOC’s stuff is anti-pop. Pop and successful TV jingles succeed because you can hear them once and they dig into the memory. The melodies and chord progressions in Boards of Canada’s music are much subtler and take time to come out. But this means they also have a much greater longevity and relistenability.

Tomorrow’s Harvest I would say is more of the same, in that the sound of it is similar to their stuff in the past. The last most recent, Campfire Headphase, had a fair bit of guitar used in looping ways which made it a bit different but it was still clearly BOC. “More of the same” isn’t a negative judgment at all, because for the last 6 years fans everywhere have been waiting for more of the same. It’s because of this that they become my number 1 favourite musical performer. Amon Tobin used to be it but then he went off in ambient, unmelodic directions.

This new album, if anything reminds me a bit of their 2002 album, Geogaddi because of the ‘bad trip’ overtones. BOC’s music is often generalised as psychedelic trip music but then sometimes it’s not all happy sounding.

And I think that’s what’s happening with Tomorrow’s Harvest. My take is that it’s a nuclear apocalypse concept album. The artwork: sunrise in San Francisco, but then it looks a bit like an A-bomb just about to go mushroom too. Then there’s the titles of some of the tracks: Reach For The Dead, Cold Earth, Sick Times, Collapse, New Seeds, Come To Dust. New Seeds is interesting because it’s one that really sounds like the title – it reminds me of science and robots planting things on Mars or something.

The music by itself is just music and doesn’t sound down particularly when compared to other BOC stuff, but there’s no samples of kids’ voices counting numbers or singing rhymes. There’s no samples of the original Boards of Canada Public Service Announcements—or if there are they’re so distorted that I can’t tell what they’re saying yet.

From what I’ve read in the rare, odd interview they’ve done, they’re the kind of group that only releases 10% of what they produce, and it may well be possible that this music was made years and years ago. Anyway, I’m really liking the album and I just hope it’s not another 7 years til we hear from Michael and Marcus again.


Ps. (minor congratz to bleep.com on having their shit together better than those idiots at topspin media.)

reverse-engineering nostalgia


It was initially nice to get hands on my banana-boxes full of old records, tapes and CDs that have been sitting in mum’s garage for the last 8 years. It was specially nice to have a little look at the CD cases of albums I’d listened to a lot during the different parts (places, friends, adventures) of my time in korea—soundtracks. I bought several (not a huge amount by my own standards) CDs while I was there, ripped them to computer then brought them home to mum’s place for safe keeping on holidays.

I’ve already mentioned how artwork, liner notes and that concrete sense of possession are terribly, badly lacking from music in the MP3/Internet medium. But sometimes old stuff isn’t as good as I remember it either. The CD “jewel case’ was probably designed by some coked-out ‘80s executive who obviously wasn’t thinking of longevity when they decided on brittle plastic for flimsy hinges and those little circular clippy bits that are supposed to keep the CD in place.

My re-experince of tapes was worse. I am from the cassette tape generation. The first albums I bought were on tape. I started taping the radio right after I discovered radio. I had a whole load of tapes of stuff I’d taped off 3PBS and RRR during the early-mid 90s that I’d been itching to get back to listen to. Stuff that is obscure enough that I have very little chance of ever finding on CD in 2nd hand shops. Because it was taped off the radio there were all these big FM scratchy sounds blasting through intermittently which I’d forgotten about. Plus there was this HUGE slab of white noise which was really, really noticeable and hard to ignore. I haven’t given up—I need a better tape player with clean heads.

I haven’t found a record player at all yet so I don’t know how the records will sound. I did have a hi-fi (now there’s a relative term..) here for a few days that had CD, tape players and a record player with no needle but I got rid of it again thanks to freecycle.org (the digital place where real people come together to pick over eachother’s junk) mainly because I kept noticing how much space it was taking up. I thought about the functions it could perform (tape, CD, radio etc) and the electronic components needed to make those things happen and I kept think what’s all the rest of the space in there for? I guess that’s caused by a combination of living in an age where a song now takes up the space of a few electrons (or nothing at all, in my house at least, if I was streaming the music) as well as living in shoe-boxes in korea where home-space is at a premium. It still is a bit here in the new place.

Streaming music, not even radio stations, just music services is much more common in Korea, and from what I can gather in the US too. And it makes me wonder how this younger generation (the millennials or whatever they’re called) will experience musical nostaligia if they’ve got nothing to hold onto. Very few people keep their old mobile phones when they move onto a new one and the phone is really the only physical site that I can think of that a person might be able to go back to to remember how things were. But then, these things always find a way (even if it seems in diminished form to an old fart like me). Just the other day I was surprised to find that my girl J-e, who I’d always thought was dead against computer games, used to play a game called Princess Maker when she was a kid in the  early 90s. We found some clips of it on youtube and the music from it brought back memories for her.

I don’t see radio station bumper stickers on the backs of cars like I used to.

In conclusion, Steve Jobs and Jony Ives have, and will continue to, destroy society as we know it.


editarticle on revival of tape format

edit 2 (21/05/13) – BBC article on tapes.

, , — YS @ 12:44 pm, May 6, 2013

we are reasonable people

I’ve been an appreciator or what Ninja Tune produces since I came across Amon Tobin’s stuff in 2000. Being without regular, good FM radio has been one of the many bummers about being here. One small thing I found to fill the gap has been the Solid Steel weekly hour and half (or something) of beatz overseen by the record label’s honchos,  Cold Cut & DK, and usually has a guest of some kind. Some of the mixes they’ve done over the last year have been sweet, especially a Beastie Boys special with DJ Cheeba. Also I thought it was a really cool move getting a bunch of the label’s artists’ music into the soundtrack for the computer game, ‘Sleeping Dogs’, which was released last year.

Anyway, Ninja even made the effort to track me down to this here website and emailing me a few new tracks from folks they’re working with. And they’ve said it’s alright for me to share with you. So, of the four, I liked this one the best: Moire – INTO. It’s very 1st world urban sounding. It’s the sound of London, baby! [I’ll leave that file there for a few months but not forever. More reasonable people, HostCentral already give me so much, I wouldn’t want to vampire their bandwidth.]

It’s been a strange year for me listen-to-musically. My music library basically fucking broke when I tried to transfer the files for itune (on a mac mini) to itunes on a larger capacity windows box. Every song got a doppelganger, and the whole thing never really recovered. Also, the collection got so big and out of hand that I was losing control of it. I’m still kind of stuck using itunes and I’m really not happy with it. Electronic music files and the internet has introduced me to so much stuff I’d never have heard otherwise but it’s so easy to lose, or forget—so ephemeral.

The most serious problem I’ve had is tracks mysteriously disappearing from itunes. Eg. an album of 12 songs will be there and viewable in the itunes window, but when I go to click through them, 1 out of 12 will say, for eg. “The song “Windowlicker” could not be used because the original file could not be found. Would you like to locate it?” and I say, ‘Yes, you better bloody well locate it’ but it’s nowhere on the computer. Yet, strangely, it’s still on the phone, from when the file was on the computer and copied to the phone. But I don’t think there’s any way for re-upload it from the phone to the computer. Thankfully, it’s not at the ratio of 1 in 12, but any loss is bad.

An internet search shows me plenty of other people have this problem but nothing’s being done about it yet.

My attitude toward music has grown a bit hackneyed in the last 12 months too. Sometimes it just feels like a thing I use to distract my monkey-mind. I haven’t felt comfortable blasting the speakers in this apartment because the walls seem thinner and I don’t know the people living around me, whereas I did in 2011 (and I knew there was no one downstairs). I use music to blot out the noise of people on public transport—that ain’t good. And sometimes I get sick of all the old stuff I listen to habitually, but at the same time don’t feel like there’s any space in my life for new music either. For a long time I’ve been working on a theory that there’s only so much new music that I can connect with in any given period of life. There needs to be some new stimulus—like being in a new place, a new feeling, a new season, a new section of life, for the new music to attach to. It’s been slow going for me in those areas of late.

, , , — YS @ 9:58 pm, January 31, 2013

on the edge of the abyss

Well now, it’s been almost a month since I posted here, which is unusual, even for me.

Here is what I’ve been listening to:

The soundtrack from the top-down shooter game, Hotline Miami. Haven’t played the game but I like the sounds. All the artists were found on bandcamp.org and most of them also have EPs of stuff going for very cheap monies. Some of it reminds me a bit of the sounds Jan Hammer put to the TV show, Miami Vice, and some sounds a little like 80s era Vangellis. Probably the same synths used.

Mostly it’s been a pretty damn cold december here. Colder than one would prefer it. I have a cold: a sore throat. I had to actually go out and do work stuff yesterday so, because of the cold, ended up crashing out early last night. And then waking up early this morning. I was lying restlessly in bed thinking I’ve been here for a mini-generation now. The girls (because at that school it was only girls) I taught back in 2005 would now be finishing the 2nd year of university. I don’t feel like I’ve changed much at all.

Today is election day in s.korea. I hope the scary lady doesn’t get in.

, , — YS @ 7:01 am, December 19, 2012

Type slowly

I don’t know how it happens but weeks slip by quicker on this blog than they do in the outside world.

Nothing much earth-shattering to report. I’m quite enjoying Bad Piggies. More to think about than Angry Birds. Someone should gift this to Adrian Newey.


Also quite enjoying Two Fingers’ album, Stunt Rhythms. Amon Tobin with some other dude, and mostly I’m liking it more than Tobin’s last two solo albums because it’s more reminiscent of the older, four on the floor style of his earlier albums.

Also, for decades I steered clear of anything audio-visually related to Joss Whedon because I’m just not into romantic-vampire tv-shows. But I came across a reference to the series Firefly, sci-fi in nature, so had a look while preparing to be disappointed. But actually it’s not too bad. The interesting thing is that the whole background universe structure was ripped from the table-top role playing game, Traveller.

I used to muck around with RPGs as a teenager and am now just having a look back at some of them. It’s pretty good fun and so unbelievably old-school compared to computer games. RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons were demonised by the old folks back then but I think if I had kids now I’d definitely be encouraging them to take up these games compared to whatever else is on the go in these modern times. Reading books, using a pencil and paper, (rolling dice), meeting up with a group of friends at someone’s house, listening to someone read descriptions and then using your brain in your head to imagine those things, acting (without the walking around part). What’s not socially healthy about any of that?

, , , , , — YS @ 9:59 am, November 1, 2012

Two genres: two movies (pt 1)

I don’t know that genre is the right word here but it’ll have to do. One is Rasta the other is early hip-hop.

I think I was having a quick read of the wikipedia page on Rastafarianism and came across a short list of films to do with it. One is Rockers (1978). Apparently it started off only intending to be a doco on Rasta life but turned into a full-length film with something of a story to it. This is the thing that the two movies mentioned here have in common – they do really well at showing a slice of the niche they’re about but the plotline is barely there. I don’t mind that. I got to thinking we put too much emphasis on whether a plot makes sense when it comes to film.

There was quite a bit of the ganja smoking in it. There was also several well know Jamaican musicians from the time. I found the fashion kind of interesting. Eventhough the main Rasta colours are red, green and gold, occasionally the colours of the Angolan flag, red green and black pop up. Somewhere this is mentioned on the wikipedia page but I forget what it’s about.

And even more interesting was the creole of English that they use there in Jamaica. There were subtitles, and they were speaking English of a kind but I’d be buggered if I could understand it without the subs. There were certain words that got used a lot, like ‘forward’ and ‘rascal’ and it makes me wonder why those particualr words…   Also, words used to insult people, like “bumba clot” (something I heard a lot in grand theft auto 4) was actually bum cloth, which I guess is another way of saying ‘asswipe’.


The hip-hop film is Wildstyle (1983). I came across this because it was mentioned on this really awesome page that had a whole bunch of pictures of ghetto blasters. I don’t know where that page is now. Wildstyle shows a bit of the graffiti culture and the rapping culture that are central to hip-hop. At times the film is almost like a musical. Again, there’s a bunch of rappers who were famous at the time cameoing, like Grand Master Flash.

, — YS @ 5:11 pm, October 1, 2012
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Tomorrow looks unsure,
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What are you waiting for?
The time has come to make your break:
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