Category Archives: Whatever and…Stuff

Some People Just Don’t Want Your Money

It’s unfortunate that I feel compelled to make this post; unfortunate for whom I haven’t worked out just yet – which may or may not make the idea a good one, but I’m not too concerned about that right now.

If you read my last post, you’ll have noticed a recommendation for Fringe by Evan Hydzik, one that was based purely on my sincere love of Pillars And Tongues, plus the brief video. I’m still yet to be able to listen to the release in full, and it would now appear that I never will. Which saddens me greatly.

I don’t seem to have much luck when it comes to certain releases by this band, and now associated member’s solo stuff… Long-term readers may recall that last year, I broke my “no cassettes, ever” rule by purchasing More Sun. I never received that cassette, unfortunately. Which was kinda ok, at least in the beginning, as I know stuff can go wrong in all sorts of ways. What wasn’t ok was that I never received a response from the label. I would have been happy just to have the download code, but I didn’t even get that. Thankfully, Pillars And Tongues released the track via Bandcamp, enabling me to purchase the song eventually.

Not the point, though it is most definitely worth mentioning that both my communication and transactions with Endless Nest/Empty Cellar (responsible for last year’s Lay Of Pilgrim’s Park and this year’s The Pass and Crossings), have never been anything less than friendly and successful (respectively).

The point is, despite several attempts, I could not get the checkout process to work over at Contraphonic so that I could buy the MP3s. In the end, I sent an email to their general enquiries address, which was brief but contained as much detail as I thought relevant, as I figured it might help troubleshoot the problem.

I sent the email on the 19th of September, which (as you may be able to see) was a week before I posted the recommendation for the release, and at that stage I had not received a response.

I wasn’t prepared to give up, though, as I really did (do) want to hear the music. So, on the 8th of October (more than two weeks after my initial enquiry), I looked up the Facebook fan page for Contraphonic and posted a comment/enquiry. They’ve deleted it, so you won’t find it there anymore, but  asked them if they checked their emails, and if not was there any way possible they could allow me to purchase Fringe, and if they did check their emails, I guess I’ll take that as a no.

The post was tongue in cheek, but most definitely borne from frustration. I had been trying to purchase the music for more than three weeks, and had my initial enquiry ignored. And quite frankly, I see nothing rude about it.

Today, 10th of September, I finally received a reply to my initial email. The message was actually quite polite, and offered me a solution to the problem. Fantastic, I thought. Can’t wait to hear it…

Then I saw this underneath the much more polite message:

I’m quite sure I wasn’t meant to see that, and if I hadn’t, I would have happily gone ahead with the purchase being none the wiser of the merchant’s rather low opinion of me… But I did see it.

I guess what I want to know, is why sending one email enquiry, then following it up once a couple of weeks later in order to be able to a) send this company money, and b) receive a music release I very much want to hear, qualifies me as such? What am I supposed to do when I haven’t received a response to an enquiry, and thus have no way of knowing if it’s being ignored on purpose or whether or not it was received? Of course I’ll look for another way to try and make contact if the first avenue didn’t work. So, it would seem this is what at least one representative of Contraphonic will think of you if you dare make two attempts at trying to communicate and purchase from them.

I may be able to understand the attitude if I was rude, or had been sending emails daily or something, but I didn’t do either. Long-term readers may also remember that this is a label I have attempted to both support and promote in the past. I obviously didn’t make a difference, so I guess it’s neither here nor there anyway.

What’s disheartening the most, in all honesty, is that at the moment, stuff like this is something I can barely make allowances for (in terms of purchasing ‘luxury’ items, that is), but I do so because I respect the artists and labels that work so damn hard to put their stuff out there for what is often very little return. Right now, I’m working unbelievably hard just to get that US$8.99 to spare for something like this. I do not steal music, no matter how much I want it and no matter how little $’s I have to spare.

Never mind. There are other releases currently available that I will be happy to purchase instead. From labels whose owners and representatives have been exceedingly kind, gracious and generous in the music they have shared with me.

I don’t know, perhaps you think I’m just being whiny over being called names, I’ve certainly been called worse! Tell me what you think, would you have still bought the music in the same circumstances, or would some unknown stranger’s opinion of you bother you enough to prevent you from acquiring something you really wanted? As an online retailer myself, I would never a) let a customer’s enquiry go unanswered for longer than 12 hours, and b) think any less of them if I did ignore them and they sought other means to try and communicate with me, but obviously other’s have different ideas.

S4E

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Some Late Night Rambling

I googled my symptoms and I'm on schedule to look like this within 36 hours; only with a much redder nose

I’m shaking my fist at circumstance right now. For some reason, I’ve developed a habit of timing things so that whatever I want to do is inevitably impeded by minor inconveniences. A classic example of this is that there are never any cars on the road unless I need to cross it.

I’m now in a rather curmudgeonly mood, having come down with a cold right at the start of the weekend (also a tad delirious, so may go off on random tangents slightly more than usual – on both those notes, if you’re one of “those people” that spits in the street, stop it. It’s the worst habit ever).

I rarely get sick, and to do so now is just another example of one of those poorly timed events, as I’ve decided to turn one of my occasional hobbies into a proper business-like thing and open a shop…on Monday, with a whole bunch of work to do this weekend. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to start advertising my junk here. Unless I make something really awesome. I used to make these hand-embossed aluminium sculptures and a few other crafty things, then sell them at markets; I always wanted to make a massive aluminium dragon but even the little things cut up my hands pretty good, mostly because whenever I try to do anything even remotely artistic I’m impatient to the point of careless and tend to have to keep things simple to avoid ruining moderately decent efforts. Or, in the case of a large-scale project like the dragon, bleed to death before it’s finished).

Anyway, I’m going to have to resist the temptation to yammer on about some important stuff – some of them music-related, some of them rather not – and just mention a couple of quick things that I can’t get too distracted with or indulgent about, lest my slightly-more-than-usual incoherence leads to some place weird.

Two Hands Music now has one of those Facebook pages you can like n’ stuff, which you can find here. I’m all on my lonesome there at the moment, and while it’s making me feel sufficiently hipster-ish with the obscurity of it all, I suspect the novelty of that will wear off sometime soon. It’ll probably be the best way to keep somewhat up to date with the happenings of the label, in a totally non-spam way. Promise.

And to sign off, here’s a track from a recent favourite album that I’ll probably never quite manage to give its proper dues – the rather brilliant Sistar from Kyü’s self-titled debut (released 2010 – check them out, more than worth the effort).

S4E


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.

S4E


How Musical I Am… Apparently

Music and Me - The Rainbow Connection

I couldn’t leave yesterday’s post without resolution, so I logged back into my BBC account this morning, all prepared to re-take the musicality test, and lo! my original results were ready and waiting. Which kinda sucked because I thought I might get a little extra advantage with the practical tests by having done them before. Nevermind. I’m not going to do an in-depth break down of my results, it’s only of cursory interest to me so I highly doubt anyone else out there has been super-keen on reading every last detail.

I’m surprised by the low musical curiosity score, though. According to the lab technicians, a low score “suggests that you aren’t really open to exploring new music, and prefer to listen to the genres and artists you are already familiar with. As a result, you are likely to be exposed to a limited range of musical styles and have a more focused range of musical taste than the average person“.

I really don’t think that could be more wrong, and stuffed if I know how that was determined.

The practical test results were the most interesting to me, and in most cases I did a better than I thought. Judging by the overall results, it also seems choosing ‘I think so‘ more often than ‘I’m absolutely certain‘ taints the results somewhat – by which I mean it appears to affect other results by way of indicating a lack of confidence in one’s skills, even if the skills are above average. At least I’ve gone ahead and assumed my results were above average, if but only slightly, with an average success rate of 70% between the four prac tests. (Lowest was 50%, highest was 90%. Funnily enough, the 90% was for determining whether a beat was in time with the music, and the 50% was for keeping time myself. I guess this means I can tell if someone else has got rhythm, but I don’t have it myself. Hmm, and I wonder how I ended up reviewing music instead of playing it!)

All up, the test didn’t tell me anything new, really. For example, the little paragraph informing me about my emotional connection to music said:

…music can strongly influence your feelings and you may even use it to manage your mood. It’s likely that you also find music a powerful tool for reconnecting with past events and memories. Your results suggest you connect more deeply with music than most people, with some songs having the power to completely change your emotional state.

Indeed. I once told someone that I occasionally create playlists specifically designed to shift my mood from one state to another. They told me that was a weird way to listen to music.

The moral of all this is: people make far more interesting, memorable observations and evaluations than standardised test results.

 

S4E


How Musical Am I?

 

I got the music in me…I swear it was here last time I checked

A friend recently pointed me in the direction of this BBC Musicality Test. According to the home page, by taking the test I would:

  • Discover my complex relationship with music.
  • Uncover my five factors of musicality
  • Test my sense of rhythm and pitch

All in around 25 minutes. Well, thought I, I’m prepared to spend 25 minutes on discovering my complex relationship with music.

I had to register on the site before the test would begin, which is no biggie – I guess now, owing to registering on another music-related site recently so I could comment on a silly article, I should probably add “No One You Know” to my list of pseudonyms in the contact info – though, I can’t say yet how often No One You Know will make an appearence. Particularly considering this certain other site wouldn’t even publish my dang comment. (All I did was mention an album that everyone needs to check out – no links or anything, just a rec. Guess they still figured it was spam. Wouldn’t bother me if it was only their loss. Meh).

Anyway, back to the point. Here’s the breakdown of the test by the science-like guys that greet participants before embarking on said test:

By participating, you will be helping scientists to better understand the sorts of experiences and attitudes which lead to different degrees of ‘musicality’ or musical sophistication“. (Additude in relation to sophistication, eh? Hmm…)

The first section of the test was just a bunch of demographical questions – i.e. race, study and employment details etc. Which, given the above, suggest they want to determine if there’s some kind of correlation between rich/poor, un-/educated people of a certain race and said musical sophistication. I dunno – last I checked, aptitude is an inherent thing, and it’s a bit of a duh if someone suggest studying music will increase one’s basic “musicality”. Anyway, with that done and dusted (i.e. confirming I’m a poor white girl with  little education and almost no history of studying/playing music – I didn’t count my brief flirtation with the harmonica and my determination to ‘play the blues’), it was on to section two.

I was asked to listen to 16 very brief sound bites (about a second in length each) and then organise them into four groups by determining their musical style. The four styles I heard and sorted by were rock, jazz, r’n’b and classical. (They’re blanket terms, by the way – meaning when I heard what I believe was distinctly swing, I put it in the jazz group). Not exactly difficult, but it took me several listens of each sound to get four groups I was reasonably satisfied with.

For stage three, I had to rate 36 statements regarding my music habits in general, and how I personally perceive my own musical aptitude on a seven-degree scale ranging from Completely Agree to Completely Disagree. eg:

  • I spend a lot of my free time doing music-related activities
  • If I hear two tones played one after another I have trouble judging which of them is higher
  • I sometimes choose music that can trigger shivers down my spine
  • I have trouble recognizing a familiar song when played in a different way or by a different performer

Another musical task followed that, whereby I had to listen to 18 audio clips with a consistent beep sounding out a beat, and subsequently had to decide if the beep was in time with the music, with an additional answer of I’m guessing, I think so and I’m totally certain – I never ‘guessed’, but I was ‘totally certain’ about 5 or 6 times out of the 18.

After that was a rhythm test. The same pieces of music as in the previous task were played, and I had to tap out the beat on the spacebar of my keyboard. My first thought was awesome! finally all those skills I honed by becoming an expert at Um Jammer Lammy will come in handy! (Which, by the way, was years before anyone had even thought of Guitar Hero – I totally ruled at this song). I thought I failed fairly miserably at that in the end – tapping a beat on a computer keyboard in time with a classical waltz wasn’t as easy as jamming with Chop Chop Master Onion on a game controller, especially as the timing is displayed clearly on-screen.

With that done, it was on to some more rate-able statements about habits, musical ability and how I relate to music on an emotional level, all fairly straightforward stuff but was a little more interesting as some of the questions were similar to those in the first set and my answers changed marginally to reflect how well I thought I did in the practical tests. For the last stage I was given a memory test – twelve sets of two songs were played in succession. Each set was the same melody played at two different pitches, and my task was to determine if, aside from the difference in pitch, there were any other differences between the two melodies. This was, again, a little more difficult that I anticipated, but I thought I got most of them right.

Finally, it was time to click ‘submit’ on the test to find out my score and see just how musical I really am. So, without further ado, here  is my result:


Oh…

So I’ve decided that rather than take another 25 minutes to let some computer program determine and analyse my musicality and ‘complex relationship with music’*, I’m going to make things nice and simple  and take two seconds to tell the science-y guys here and now.

Obviously I’m so awesomely musical that my relationship with music is far too complex to be ascertained and summarised by a computer. So there.

Attitude in relation to sophistication be damned.

S4E

*This is a blatant lie. I know full well I’m going to go back and take that test as many times as required to get an “official” result.


All I Want For Christmas

 

It’s that time of year. The appropriately named silly season, where everyone insists they were far more attentive to the good side than the bad, and the lists start coming out, as do the bones of contention, the gasps of indignation and – every now and then – the knives. While I take the necessary time to delve back through the past year to compile such a list, I thought I’d make one with a much longer tradition behind it. Thus, I submit my 2010 Christmas Wish List, ranging from the superficial kinda-wants to the absolute must-haves.

No more artists with bear in their name. I get it, I really do, the bear has a lot going for it with the fierceness and the fuzziness, and there’s worse animals for your band to be represented by. Grizzly Blobfish – while obviously quite apt, in that it looks pretty grizzly, anyway – just wouldn’t have the same ring to it. But enough.

Chillwave. It’s awful. Kill it.

~Core being stricken from the Great Music Genre Name Generator. If one can’t think of a new name for a genre, just do what other unimaginative people do and use a thesaurus. Synonyms for core include: crux, gist, nub, kernel, meat. I hereby rename hardcore as hardmeat… Wait, I might have to rethink that one.

No more  hidden tracks at the end of several  minutes of silence on CDs. I really mean it this time, dammit.

A Facebook app that prevents artists from friending me and subsequently spamming my wall with posts begging for votes in some obscure internet radio playlist/feature thing. If they post a link on their own profile, it’ll show up on my news reel and then I can choose for myself, without any implied pressure, whether or not I want to vote. Accolades are cooler if the thought comes from the people instead of the artist.

 

Now for the stuff that’s been pushing my Serious Face button:

Stop people from justifying music theft with reasons that don’t make sense. Not the biggest fan of illegal downloads, but I figure I’d ask for something that might be somewhere within the realm of possibility. Here’s the thing, no one has a right to someone else’s property – intellectual or otherwise – just because they want it. But it happens, it’s not likely to stop happening, and every now and then the reasons are understandable. However, at the very least, I’d like people to stop justifying  the action with utter bull like downloads are intangible and therefore have no value. If that were true, they’d be prepared to pay $20.00 for a blank CD.

The eradication of fans who are so damn preciously protective of “their” music, to the point that they want to restrict who listens to it. If a more ridiculous, pointless and downright counter-productive idea ever permeates attitudes toward art, it will no longer even be able to be called such. Art should broaden perspectives, not narrow them down so much that it causes people to behave like complete tools who think they have more of a right to listen to something than someone else, especially when based on utterly superficial presumptions about the kind of people listening to it or their reasons why. That’s like saying they have a right to limit the capacity an artist should have to be appreciated, which is an insult to the artists in question. On that note, I’m going to declare here and now that I don’t have to have a bootleg recording of a song someone sang in the shower years before they were famous to qualify as a ‘real’ fan.

With that in mind, I will also be requesting…

The immediate stripping of the right to listen to music for anyone who suddenly dislikes an artist for being featured on Pitchfork, or for simply gaining an increase in popularity. I don’t even have any words for how big a fail in attitude that is.  Except for maybe these: Anyone who lets what other people like and are listening to affect their own taste in music isn’t listening to music for the right reasons in the first place and doesn’t deserve the intelligence required to press play on an iPod.

Fan self-service is lame.

 

S4E


Bless Me, Father

A Celibration by way of Confession

This makes the 100th post up on Satellite for Entropy since I started it back at the beginning of 2009. I thought it fitting to mark the occasion in some way, and tried to think of something special to honour all the music that keeps inspiring me to ramble on about it as well as something that hasn’t been done a million times before, but I’m not even sure that’s possible. So, in true S4E fashion, instead of making this post about music, I decided to make it all about me and do something I know for sure no one else can, that being to tell you a bunch of my – up until now – closely guarded, musically inclined secrets. I’m going to steer clear of “deep, dark” territory, I don’t think anyone’s ready for that, especially me.

 

 

In the name of the father, the son and misheard lyrics

 

I have to admit to a few people already knowing this, but I may as well put it out there for the enjoyment of the masses. For quite a while I believed Prince‘s father’s name was Hugo, which I had no reason to believe other than going by the lyrics to one of my favourite songs, When Doves Cry. Which lyrics imparted this information, you might ask? “Maybe I’m just like my father, Hugo“.

 

 

To love, honour and break my heart

 

At the age of 12, I was quite convinced that if I could somehow manage to meet Jon Bon Jovi, there was no way possible he would not fall madly in love with me. The day I heard he was getting married, to someone else, was a very dark day indeed. My dear heart was broken for the first time, which I nursed by listening to I’ll Be There For You countless times and burning a piece of paper with the lyrics written on it, because I thought doing so was tragically poetic and romantic. At least I got the tragic part right.

 

 

 

My brief but brilliant career

 

For a year 10 drama class assignment, we were meant to choose and learn a monologue and subsequently perform it in front of the class. Come the day of performance and I had done no such thing. When my name was called, I walked out in front of the class wondering if I should admit to not doing my homework or try to get away with it. I chose the latter and decided there and then to recite the lyrics to Metallica‘s Fade to Black. I stood there looking as dejected, depressed and desolate as possible. “Life, it seems, will fade away”, said I, in my best Shakespearean accent. “Drifting further every day…” I ended this ‘speech’ by melodramatically pretending to stab myself in the stomach, complete with sufficiently protracted, spasmadic death scene, finally laying still and silent in front of the class. My drama teacher stood up, pointed at my lifeless body as he faced the class and said “See that? Now that is the level of committment to performance I expected to be seeing from all of you”. He then congratulated me on such a fine effort and gave me an A.

 

 

 

Stamp say it all, really

 

One time I stopped to talk to a particularly attractive street busker who had been playing his guitar and singing a bunch of my favourite songs. As I was quite earnestly trying to chat him up, he lamented the obvious flaws in his singing voice, which I had noticed but overlooked owing to the whole very attractive thing. “Oh,” I said coyly, “I did notice that your voice breaks a bit when you go for the higher notes, but I think that adds to its charm.” It didn’t work, of course, the guy just cracked up laughing at me because he knew I was full of it. We never saw each other again.

Speaking of my failed attempts at wooing prospective partners, I once had a massive crush on the son of one of my teachers. I came up with the idea to write this guy a song and send it to him, even though I really have no ability to write or play music. My solution? I used Music, a “game” on the PS1 that contained pre-made riffs that you could piece together and hopefully sound ok once you hit play. I slowed everything down to about 90bpm, thinking it would make my efforts sound like a hauntingly touching ballad. Thankfully, I abandoned this brilliant plan once I realised I completely sucked at Music.

Thus ends my brief window into the musical maladies of S4E past. There are, of course, many more tales of woe, transgression, faux pas and downright shame lurking about, but I think I’ll save those for a really special occasion, either post #500 or when Mr Bon Jovi finally realises that I am his true soul mate. Whichever happens first.

S4E