Monday

This thing with these mixes

I listen to some music. At my department meal the other night, when asked why I have two wallets, I started 'This is my joint account wallet', and the person next to me jumped in 'and this is his music wallet'.

So, a few years ago, I thought I should start doing mixtapes for general consumption as a sort-of-diary of what I was listening to. As in, rather than writing up a review of every single record I bought and consumed, I could just weave together some tracks from all the various sources I had into some sort of narrative. And you could listen to this and make up your own mind. Show, don't tell, kind of thing.

Then I kept forgetting to keep this updated with the latest ones and stopped writing sleeve notes for them, and like the blog, the frequency has massively fallen off. THey;ve gone more 'thematic' too, but that doesn't mean there isn't a narrative, especially between mixtapes.

I've arranged them into annual playlists too; here's 2014. you can find the others on my mixcloud profile.



I feel at this point, I need to stop using the same artists (who always have a new album out) as much, and we can just take Cult of Luna, Euros Childs, Necro Deathmort, anything starring Scott Hull (pig destroyer/agoraphobic nosebleed &c), anything starring Igorrr, anything staring Davide Tiso (of ephel duath), Drumcorps, 65daysofstatic, and Sparks as read.

Sunday

I just watched chronicle and now I'm really angry

I'm sorry. I don't mean to make everything a moan. It's just in so frequently disappointed by things. Often everything just seems to get the basics wrong. I was going to call this one 'stupid intelligent films'. I don't know where else to start with chronicle.

I'm just so annoyed at all these films that just get the basics wrong.

It acted like it was the first found footage film ever. The lengths it goes to to establish that this is found footage is ludicrous, every scene at the start had 'oh, so you've got a new camera' as an intro line. It goes so far that I wonder if it's even a comment on found footage films.

To its credit, the protag Andrew says he finds it comforting because it puts a barrier between him and the world (despite the fact that he already seems entirely alone). So it starts out as a dramatic, as well as practical, technique. Like district 9, it wants to do away with the shaky cam stuff, but it does it by bending the rules hilariously far, til the point where they interfere with the plot.

So is this some sort of point about found footage movies in here? With Andrew's line 'I'm trying to put a barrier', is he talking about how FF films actually make cinema less believable, not more? Is it a comment on voyerism and technology, how what we think is bringing us together is not, like all those idiots who watch gigs on a their phone while they record it for the future instead of living in it in the moment. It lets things which would not be remarkable in cinema, like cars levitating, become interesting again, because we see it from first person. So I'm not convinced it's a deliberate comment on found footage. It's just enough to make me wish it was.

The fact that the only female character only existed in order to hold a second camera is jaw-droppingly poor. And she had to suffer the whole 'stalking pays off' thing with Matt, in that she begins to like him simply because he is persistent. and then he seems to leave her, and go travelling, cause, "I love you Bro." It's like the worst of both worlds; we get the shallow love interest, which then doesn't go anywhere. Better to ditch it entirely.

There isn't a story as such, other than the 'damaged underdog ends up misusing power when s/he gets it', which is a good story; I intend to use it myself one day. The treatment is fairly realistic I suppose, of how one can retreat back into one's shell; but against a background of recent disaster-porn scenarios, I can't help wishing there was something to overcome that was successful. I'm so sick of the 'here's an opportunity, let's watch people screw it up' plots, especially in sci-fi. I had hoped it would be like a proper superhero origin story, but an original setting with a fresh angle and a bit of realism. I don't want some depressing story about how you can't escape your upbringing, that once you're ruined, you're ruined forever. I totally accept that this is a preference thing, but it seems a real shame to tell this story as, as Primo Levi said, 'troubles overcome are good to tell'. Wouldn't it be nice if there was something to achieve, rather than social acceptance? And social acceptance could be a byproduct/subplot to the main thing?

Overall, it felt more like The Explorers than Primer, with an ending that felt totally Akira.

Think that sums it up.

9/8 bongo break

Happiness is realising you've finally written something that you can use that 9/8 drum break on.

Frustration is putting your riff with the bongo break and realising its a different arrangement of the beats in 9/8.

Satisfaction is figuring out that you can hack up the beat to fit your arrangement, in fact it just need to start it a few beats late.

This piece was inspired by the excellent music for the Shalom Aleicham documentary, which I was enjoying throughout, and then delighted to read it was credited to John Zorn, who seems to be able to do anything. I ordered the soundtrack, but before it arrived, came up with this tune; fortunately it had mutated far enough away from the source to be its own thing, yet still be klezmatic in a funny time sig enough to be familiar.

See, when you get into time signatures that are... Differenter, it's not just a case of slopping a funky 4/4 beat over the top to make your song funky. You have to start counting in 2s and 3s.

My track you can count as 2-3-2-2, but the sample (of Turkish karsilama tune 'rampi rampi') counts 2-2-2-3. In other words, mine sounds like 5 and then 4; the drum break is 4 and then 5. So putting one over the other made an absolute cacophony halfway through the measure, as the rhythm started it's second part one beat before the melody.

all it took in the end was swapping round the start and the end (which I also understand was the case for the James Brown 'woo yeah' break). In fact I just trimmed the sample down to the end of one measure and the start of the next, no comping required.

And then I was demoing it in nanostudio, I went and put a drum loop that goes 7-7-4 over that as well, which somehow works.


And then, on top of all of that, I keep playing it wrong. I keep putting in an extra 2 half beats in the middle, turning it into 10/8, with a 7-7-6 rhythm that feels great. Perhaps I could incorporate this mutation somehow. Or just discorporate the whole thing.

Btw my references for this work are Kate Bush's Egypt, and Ozric Tentancles. So I'm aiming for that proggy fusion vibe and seeing this track as a trial of ambition for the KNO album. I intend both to be instrumental, very metal but very thought provoking, and enjoyable on all three levels music matters: the head, the heart and the hips.

Wednesday

Tigers in the house

The lady and I were appalled by this program - the contrast of the jolly, madcap tone against the actual horror of what was happening was enough for us to switch off. Here's a few reasons why.

To start off with, the zoo keeper in question (in Australia) was portrayed as someone who had wanted to work with tigers since childhood, a dream now fulfilled. To say this is anything other than selfish and obvious is odd, as illustrated by a variation on this comic: http://explosm.net/comics/3557/
This man doesn't apparently love animals as a rule, just the sexy ones. At least, that's how it's edited. I wouldn't claim to know really.

Then the story kicks off, which is that this tiger is going to give birth and then they're going to take the cubs away for some reason to raise in a house. We were assuming that something dreadful was  going to happen to the mum, or they got rejected, but no - everything was completely fine. 

I can't really work out exactly why the cubs are taken away. It can't just be this zoo keeper's ego - why would a zoo allow that? It's all ostensibly done in the name of conservation, but with the caveat that 'these tigers will never be released into the wild so they better get used to domesticity'. The zoo itself is all hands-on and cutesy, so that explain raising them as house cats rather than wild animals.

So the cubs arrive home at two weeks old, and have to get used to drinking tiger formula milk from a bottle, get used to being toileted by humans, get used to being taken back to the zoo for antibody inhextions, get used to the sound of dogs and being handled by all different humans, being moddled by shipped in straw that smells of mum... Clearly, this is not happening in these tigers' interest, or their mum, who had to be monitored fur anxiety. All this to jolly music and jaunty narration. We switched off.

The morning after, it struck me, terribly, what all this reminded me of: the aboriginal stolen children http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Stolen_Generations. I hate how apt the analogy is, down to the location. This is the story of children stolen away from their mum specially to break the cultural link and raise them in a white, 'civilised' home. Children thought of as too rare to risk leaving things to nature. I'm schocked that that exact mindset has not been destroyed, merely moved from 'animals' to animals.

It's not conservation to take an animal from the wild and turn it into a theme park ride, conservation is a breeding program for repopulating the forests. Domestication will destroy the Sumatran tigers as sure as killing them. But, you know, cute tiger cubs chewing on sofas, awww, who gives a fig what the bigger picture is and what the backstory is and what the meaning is.

Bad.

Tuesday

Back to bloglam

So how have I come back to blogging?

I'm a bit frustrated with the state of things is why. For a start, I dont get out much with two kids, so talking about things I've seen that have provoked thoughts isn't something that happens. And these things don't fit into twitter.

Twitter is to blame for a lot. If I have a quick thought, I can just blast it out, and compressing it is actually a bonus; it pays to be economical with language. It's a good skill to have. But if I have something that can't be forced into a tweet, it suffers or is just scrapped as I don't have time to flesh it out. This is what Chomsky called the 'concision trick' btw, which is quite dangerous; anything worth saying is eliminated and we are left with glib nothings; or a reasonable statement broken over 5 or 6 tweets, which is just appalling. 

But it's not just twitter. Something has changed, and now I barely ever get any phone calls, texts, landline calls, or emails. Almost all communication is going through social networks. They are swallowing not just communication, but the whole internet, which appears to be becoming just links to buzzfeed (and other, disastrously boring, websites).

And then buzzfeed starts publishing fantastic critiques of mainstream media and you don't know which way is up anymore.

Another criticism of facebook, other than the fact that they're evil and their business model is horrid, is that it's so noisy and monotonous. The endless stream of colourless posts is death.

You see, facebook to me is like a busy market, with an endless row of propped up stalls competing for your attention. What i want, to stay in touch with old friends, is not, to be honest, a drip feed of micro thoughts. I want a virtual home. I want to think, "oh, I've not heard from Beth for a whole, how is she doing?" And go to her homepage - that's what I'm looking for, no one has homepages any more - and see the sum of what she's been doing of late, and maybe pop a couple of discussion points down. Her, all in one place. Facebook's not the place to do that, even with your profile page. I'm officially done with it now. It just emailed me to say I hadn't logged in for a while, and I'm watching it squirm, waiting for it to beg me to come back. It can sod off.

I figured something had to change, so I tried to start a forum with Ed. Free chat with like minded people, I invited a bunch of inter-friends to join up, and just crap, without restrictions on message length, without posts disappearing of the bottom of the page to be missed, and without the feeling you're pissing in the wind to people don't care. But it was a failure, and no one took up the offer, which was very disheartening.

Which brings me back here, my old friend. If no one else is reading, at least I can use this to just catalogue my thoughts. If you are, post a comment on my webzone and we'll have a bloody chat.