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The Four Of Us Are Dying

I haven’t been watching much old TV but one thing I have been going through from its very start is the original Twilight Zone TV series. It’s pretty damn impressive. The first season was waaaay back in 1959 and a lot of the story lines still stack up well. It’s far back enough that almost none of the actors in it cross over into other tv shows from the mid to late ‘60s that I’ve seen. The only exception so far was the episode title People Are Alike All Over that has an actress who later went on to also appear in the pilot for the original series or Star Trek. Funnily enough the pilot leaned heavily on the storyline of the Twilight Zone ep.

There’s been several episodes dealing with the Cold War that I would’ve thought would be too touchy to talk about then plus a bunch of plum science-fiction speculative ideas that were really impressive. The fifties really were a highpoint for SF in book form so it must’ve rolled on into other media too.

whatyouneed

Maybe it’s partly the silver-screen effect but the women seemed really beautiful then too. Interesting hairstyles or whatever. I dunno. The above image was schlepped from the TZ wikia site and is from the episode titled ‘What You Need’. I could’ve hunted it down myself but that would mean turning on the other computer.

The title of this here blog post is actually the name of one of the episodes which was also used by the band Nine Inch Nails as a song title 48 years later. To me that’s a great example of how edgy the Twilight Zone was for a TV show. And as such it was stuffed away in the Friday night 10 to 10:30pm timeslot. Wouldn’t want anyone actually seeing it now would we?

That particular episode contained lashings of noir/Hitchcock style lop-sided frame shots and as it happens is available to view on yootoob.

In some ways a good comparison is the X-Files except the Twilight Zone probably had a lot less budget and crammed all its goodness into half an hour. In fact it seems like Rod Serling did a lot of the sourcing, adapting and writing for the first season himself. So the next time I hear The Simpsons or something parodying his quirky narration style I’ll have a better appreciation for how ahead of its time the Twilight Zone was.

&&&

In hindsight The Black Keys don’t need me promoting their new album. Mainstream media seems to be doing a fine job of that thankyou. After a few listens I’m kind of underwhelmed by it too. I should qualify that by saying that I didn’t really like their album before that either. I mean, it was okay but not as good as their early stuff. I know there’s only so many places you can go when you just got a guitar and drums, and that was always the thing about the earlier albums; as good as they were, I could only listen to an album and a half before the structures were all too samey. I was listening to the Turn Blue album while washing the dishes and in that dumb way that iTunes does, it started playing the next thing straight after. The next thing was the El Camino album and I tell ya I didn’t know it. ie there’s no difference in the sound of the two albums.

With Turn Blue, some of the production aspects (that this chap danger mouse contributed) sound tacked on. Also as a wannabee bass player the bass sound they used on several tracks sounds really unenthusiastic. And lyrically it’s heavily influenced by Dan’s relationship break-up with some famous woman. Jilted/love songs will always be popular but a little hard for me to relate to in this part of my life.

But I’ll be constructive. So what could have they done? Five or whatever albums of good, raw guitar & drums -> it’s obvious that they had to broaden their sound somehow. I think I would’ve tried some sort of non crowd-pleasing, long concept album. They’ve earned enough money/fame to do something really nutty so why not go for it? For posterity’s sake I’ll include this pic of Dan _Uber_gene unintentionally (0((()(??????)())))) getting his Hitler on. This could’ve been the look that tipped them in a whole new musical direction.

Dan UBERbach

Fishbed!

For me at least The Black Keys have really nailed the the promotional/retail stuff. They’ve been lightly spamming the twitter feed for a couple of weeks now, giving a little taster of their next album, Turn Blue. The first single, Fever is kind of okay but the second one really sounds really good. They were linking to the iTunes pre-order of the album but fuck that with the iTunes fatcat tax. The album is available on The Black Keys’ own website – and at usd $11 that’s value. They don’t mention (and they should) but it’s mp3 format and thankfully at 320kbps.

Dan Aubergine has great taste in guitars and he needs more, so buy album!

This is the second single:

, — YS @ 2:22 pm, May 2, 2014

arx arcs, hot like an oven


angles

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.

PublicEnemyItTakesaNationofMillionstoHoldUsBack

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.

sandisons

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

reverse-engineering nostalgia

Boardwalk

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
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