Category Archives: Oddities

Electricity Is So Mainstream

I started this post on the 12th of January, the day my electricity was re-connected after being cut off for 5 days. Things kinda didn’t go according to plan. On the first night it was off, I was in my room in the darkness and all I could think was I really need to hear some music, and there was something I came here to say afterwards, but didn’t quite manage to finish the post.

The first thing I need to say is that if you have contacted me about a review (and many have), please accept my apologies if I didn’t respond, and most particularly if I did and haven’t written anything yet. In some cases it may be too little too late, but I’m hoping I can still listen and write for them over time.

My life doesn’t suck, by the way, it’s just not particularly easy at the moment, and yes – as the opening of this post may indicate – it’s a business/finance thing, which is unrelated to this place but the one thing it’s affected is my capacity to listen to music and write about it the way I had been. I hope this makes sense to everyone out there, but before things got a little complicated for me in other areas of my life, when I listened to music, I went to where the music was….and when I came back, I brought “souveneirs” (just a fancy way of saying “blog posts”, really).  Right now, the difference is when I listen to music, it takes me home.

I miss the other way.

Anyway, I also want to say a very belated thank you to the awesome Arvel Hernandez (Endless Nest) and Evan Hydzik for making it possible for me acquire Fringe – it was worth the wait – such incredibly moving music – and I am blessed that others went out of their way to enable me to hear it.

So, back in January, the power was off, and on the first night (that sounds unintentionally biblical, but perhaps here follows revelations!), I craved just to hear at least one song, one note… I don’t have an MP3 player, by the way, all my audio devices are powered by mains electricity. Except, I remembered that just before I moved into this place, and was staying with my brother and that other hopeless yobbo, I bought an SD card for my phone so I could transfer photos to the computer, but I had saved one song to it.

Lucky for me, my phone was charged, and so for about 20 minutes I was in my room, in the dark, listening to Bloodhail by Have A Nice Life on my very tinny phone speaker.

It was a strange experience.

A very (very) long time ago, I was meant to write something about the solo music project by HANL’s Dan Barrett, Giles Corey. I didn’t obviously, but one thing I did do was buy this…

That’s a pendant bead (hence the drilled hole at the top), made from seraphinite. I bought it because it reminded me of Giles Corey, in essence, and I had planned to use it in a necklace or something (unfinished – surprise). It’s the tombstone shape, the dark shapes like hollowed skull eyes, the almost black/grey washed out colour, in part, but more importantly it’s the finer details. The feathered texture, the fractured lines within a solid stone, like calcified and imprisoned broken wings…it’s full of ghosts, some of them dark, some of them light. That’s what I saw, anyway.

And you know, when I was listening to Bloodhail that night, I realised that here on earth, unluss you’re buried in something¹, there is no such thing as pitch black.

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1. Just to clarify, I don’t mean dead and in a casket, I mean unless you take the light of the world away from yourself, even in the darkest moments there is light from somewhere.

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Conversations With My “Stalker”

I’ve mentioned here before that I recently had to move. As it turns out, it was just in time, because I’ve recently acquired my very own nuisance caller – someone I met a few times (through a friend) and who had visited my old address on a couple of occasions (neither of them know my new address).

In general, I’d question the intelligence of anyone who thinks it’s a grand idea to phone a relative stranger dozens of times a day, but you really have to marvel – and then make fun of – the thought process that resulted in the following conversation taking place with them. (I’m trying to maintain some sort of dignified image here, so I’ve removed all instances of my swearing at them, and slightly altered how I answered the phone… Also, I don’t sit on my couch like that. Everything else is, unfortunately, an accurate account of the conversation).

Obviously this person is disturbed and needs help. I hope they get it. In the meantime, I maintain the right to find the humour in the situation.

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Not Until You’re Doomed

Probably don’t need much of an explanation here. Maybe a few excuses – I went for all the most obvious jokes, which is either totally inspired genius or pretty darn lame. I don’t care. I do these things for my own amusement.

That’s a lie, actually – they’re not all obvious, as there’s a couple of in-jokes (the book and the guy on the bike) specifically for the one or two other people who might find it mildly amusing. Unless I explain them, or something.

By the way, my friend at Binge Cringe Whinge has reviewed this album already – a recommended read if you’re even mildly curious to know what it’s all about.

This is standard practice the world over – that ridiculous, universal phenomenon of withholding nifty rewards like chocolate ice cream until after you’ve eaten all the horrible stuff on your plate and you’re not hungry anymore.

That postman was supposed to appear in the last panel like some kind of guru, or zen master. Bitstrips just wouldn’t let me make that – and may other things – happen. So, he just looks like an over-excited chipmunk.

The “interesting” book is Sex & The Paranormal by Paul Deane. Yes I have it – it cost me $1 and now I know all sorts of weird stuff about succubi, demons, ghosts and monsters that have a human fetish. Or vice versa. $1 is a small price to pay for such knowledge. Unless someone you actually know knows you know. Then it’s just weird.

The guy on the bike… was not my mailman. Just some random dude who rode past my house with his own package in his hand.

I repeat: I do these things for my own amusement.

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Woe Betide: The Things I Do When I Can’t Sleep

The title is pretty self-explanatory. Up late, couldn’t sleep, subsequently decided to amuse myself by using online movie maker Xtranormal, which is similarly self explanatory. All you have to do is choose a set of characters, a background, and type things for them to say. For whatever reason, I decided to use the lyrics from Have A Nice Life‘s song Woe Unto Us (from the Time of Land EP) as the basis for a conversation between Einstein and Napolean, with…. Well, I’ll let you be the judge of the results. First, here’s the song in question.

 

Einstein’s script is the lyrics, Napolean’s script is whatever the hell I could think of at the time. Or, where I couldn’t think of anything myself, quotes, which I’ll attribute properly in a minute. You may also note that Einstein speaks with an American accent, while Napolean speaks with an English accent. The reason for that is rather practical – there are German and French accented voices on Xtranormal, but even when I typed in plain English, they made no sense at all.

The “care” quote is by a dude called Doc Childre, from a book called The How To Book of Teen Self Discovery. I altered it slightly because the voice couldn’t quite enunciate the words properly when left in the same sequence as the original, which is:

The more care you put into your life, the more life will care for you, bringing you fun adventures, great friends, and real inner security. Caring is just good street sense — So, Judge less and unstress, Care more and high score.

On a side note, where was this Doc Childre when I was a young, angry teenager? If somone had said that to me all those years ago, I woulda been like “whoah, this Doc totally gets me and is speaking my language – caring isn’t just cool, it’s street smart!” And that rhyming slogan at the end is just slick.

The other quote comes from Betrand Russell’s Philosophical Essays:

Brief and powerless is man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark.

Which may have been heavy at four in the morning if I wasn’t busy fiddling with the timing of Einstein’s blank stare to the other quote and trying to figure out how to get Napolean to point at the trees and not the bench. o_0

 

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Tom Vourtsis – Mothhunting

I mentioned this a few weeks ago, briefly, and the other day decided to try something a little bit different in terms of elaboration. Despite the drawbacks, and my lack of talent, I wanted to mess round with a visual medium and had this bright idea of trying my hand at a visual interpretation of each track on the release, but I wanted it to contain a smilar, unifying thread (as does the release itself), so here’s what I did…

I made the particularly inspired choice to google for an image of a moth (yup, firing on all cylinders that day) and chose this one:

Not that it probably matters, but that’s an Emperor Gum Moth, which I chose primarily for the relatively blank canvas of the wing span and the leaf-like shape and texture of the antennae (see a full colour version of the above photo here). I basically divided the image into five segments, then re-made it using whatever I felt like while I listened to each track. So here’s my visual interpretation of Mothhunting:

Ghost Doze | Overlookers | Mothhunting | Crowhurst | Attic Summers

In amongst the panels, along with original segments of the photo, is the following: a snake eye; bee wings, legs and body; a fish, a metal screw; blood vein; wire mesh; paper; smoke; sand; water; glass; salt and Hungarian words; with touch ups, filtering and effects using both Photofiltre and a couple of bits n’ pieces on Photobucket, like the frame once it was all re-assembled.

Each of those components represents an element in the respective songs, though as the specific components I chose were down to purely personal interpretation, I’ll leave you to do the same. What I will say is that you may note there is an underlying tone that is consistent throughout each panel, that various textures are prominent, yet generally maintain that tone in some way. Most of them have subtle backgrounds intended to indicate certain forms of movement, which are underneath the more present forms in the music and generally fluid, but occasionally fractured.

I shared the first track, Ghost Doze, last time, so take a listen to the title track Mothhunting.

Mothhunting is due out on Music Ruins Lives soon, and you can order the CD here.

Oh, and I’m not quite sure why I went for Hungarian as a language in there – I originally chose Japanese but that didn’t work. I am, however, a big fan of sweet paprika, a deep, coppery-red powdered spice that also comes in smoked and (very) hot varieties. I often cook large pots of Hungarian goulash, to which generous portions of paprika is added, and is a favoured dish to cook during winter. I suspect that, for some reason, that little cottage on the cover is entrenched in my mind as belonging to some Hungarian village somewhere.

 

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Playing With Briefs

Following on from my last post on the subject of music used in advertising, I decided to take a another look through all the ad briefs I’ve been sent, since they were what sparked my interest on the subject in the first place.

These briefs detail the brands and products, then lay out the specifications for the type of song they’re looking for, the effect they want it to achieve, and/or – most commonly – the original song they want to rip off. In the interest of something akin to benevolence, I’m going to leave out any identifying details.

Here’s one that stuck out a mile, for an alcoholic beverage:

…they’re looking for a replace for Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’…something with a similar ‘slightly bittersweet tone’. (It)…tells the story of a paralympian pushing himself as hard as possible to be the best triathlete in his field. All very emoting.”

Leaving the concept aside… No, wait. Really? An ad for alcohol about a paralympian pushing himself to be the best? Last I checked, every single ad that has come before involving both an alcoholic beverage and a paraplegic was doing the opposite of advertising alcohol. Did the dudes think this one through? If advertising actually has the effect on us that those in the field suggest, then paraplegic + alcohol = inspiration & motivation to improve skill is not a compatible equation to most people. More like alcohol + inflated sense of skill = paraplegic.

It was at that point, owing to the sheer ridiculousness of the concept (at least on paper), my mind started wondering and – in a chain of thought I doubt I’ll need to explain – found myself on a site called Bitstrips

Alcohol¹ + internet + a list of ad briefs = inflated sense of comedic ability and literally minutes of time wasted on creating characters & comic strips.

So here’s the sexy results.

Brief 1.

Product: Beer

“What we are looking for is an undiscovered gem. Somewhere out there is the next big thing/track and that is what we’re after. Something cool, contemporary and fresh. In a nutshell – fresh, hot, undiscovered, next big thing, unknown genius – we are open to a wide net of options”

Unknown Genius knows no bounds

Brief 2:

Product: Mouthwash

They’re basically looking for a track that sounds like I’ll Be Your Mirror by The Velvet Underground. They like it as it’s haunting and moving

Mouthwash haunted by the ghost of Velvet Underground past

 

Brief 3:

Product: Home Furnishings

This brief is for a new piece of [product name] music for the next 2 or 3 years. We are looking for an uplifting track with a positive feel. The music needs to have a relaxed pace and in some part (or throughout) be distinctive, engaging and emotionally resonate with people too. It is imperative that it contains a distinctive hook that can be used as the signature opening/ending or part of the radio 10” Ad or 30” TV commercial. We need the hook to become the signature of [product name] communication over the next 2 to 3 years.

(It)…should be available for re-composition depending upon the time of year (allowing a Christmas version or summer feel to the track). A ‘whistle’ in the track would help with continuity but is not a pre-requisite of the music. The track must work equally well on a 10 second radio Ad as on a TV commercial and be memorable even when used alongside a packed voice over.

…they are after something a little more “emotive” than the current track… They would like something with a build for the longer form TV ads.”

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1. Ok, so there was no alcohol comsumed during the making of this post.  I’m sorry. I know they’re lame, but I couldn’t help myself and I promise I’ll never do it again, I’ve got it out of my system now…. Probably.


Theme Songs For Favourite Things – Smileys #2

Basia Bulat – A Secret

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Favourite Ninja Smiley – Gift-Bearing Ninja

In my previous post regarding my fondness for these little critters, I mentioned a particular yen for the Ninja Smiley. While it’s true that I have more than enough smiley-love to go around, I save a little extra for those of the ninja variety. I can’t rightly say why, they’re just one of those things I find inexplicably irresistable. Especially this one.

The iconic ninja tends to represent stealth, evasiveness and ultimately danger. I wonder if a ninja bearing flowers is even more dangerous than one who’s throwing stars at you, perhaps so if you consider love and romance a more torturous thing than a swift, silent execution. Possibly the most telling thing of all is that he’s retained his anonymity and weapon. Honestly I’d be pretty darn scared to reject him. I might even steal his idea – next time I decide I’m going to make any kind of bold declaration, I’m borrowing that outfit  so I don’t feel so conspicuously bare and/or threatened! On the bad side, people may not ever know I was the one that always wanted to say certain things, but on the good side, no one will ever know who to call a chicken. In fact, calling a ninja chicken is probably a bad idea, even if that’s what they are.

To briefly sidetrack… Up until very recently, it was my firm belief that traditionally, Valentines Day was supposed to be for all those secret admirers out there to reveal their true feelings to those they ‘admired’. The romantic fantasist in me refuses to believe this to be a misnomer, despite what Wikipedia says. While realistically and practically, I can appreciate the meaning to have evolved from whatever beginnings and become a day to honour and celebrate all forms of love, the idea of hidden, romantic passion appeals to me at a completely different level (for one thing, it’s been one of the central sources of inspiration and therefore themes in my creative writing; though I should probably point I tend to favour less the romantic side and more the so-called dark side).

Anyway, the theme for my florally-inclined ninja, is the very apt A Secret by Basia Bulat, a sweet little song that belies the underlying sting; and today it’s not just dedicated to him, but to everyone who could never tell.

In either sense of the phrase.

 

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