5.31.2008

Tired of making conventional music, I have been creating Stockhausen soundscapes on the Acid program. Most of it utilyzes "found sound" and tonal manipulation. It's definitely what I would consider "ambient music".

One "song" is called "The Weather Music". The primary instruments on this one are a 2 liter soda bottle with some water in it and a bicycle bell. There's also a home-made loop I made by tuning a guitar string down and then back up. I duplicated the track, added some delay to one of 'em, reversed another, and positioned them to where they would sound nice and trippy bouncing from the left to the right channel. Not exactly minimalistic, but certainly nothing elaborate. Effective, though.

Not quite as "unconventional", but unique, are a couple of other songs I'm working on, which are musically loop-based. I'm chopping up sound bytes from a fire-and-brimstone church sermon and pasting them into an electronica styled piece (I was actually a little surprised, when I first listened to it, that it bore an uncanny resemblance to early-period Autechre).

I don't think I'll be able to upload them to Soundclick or MySpace...in fact, I KNOW I won't, because they far exceed the amount of time either of those sites allow. If anyone out there wants to hear them, send me an e-mail at jackory69@yahoo.com, and I'll get it to you via YouSendIt.

Won't that be cool?
Just came back from a few garage sales. Not a whole lot to be found this morning. A stack of GameInformer magazines that we bought for Bryan at 50 cents apiece. Not bad, when you consider that one of them is the June 2008 issue and probably hasn't even hit the stands yet.

Otherwise it was a wasted trip. I hate garage sales that have nothing but clothes for sale. And dinky little garage sales where it looks like someone dug a bunch of junk out of a dumpster and laid it out on their yard to try and sell it. We saw a couple of each kind this morning and even stopped at one (usually you can spot these sort, and drive on by).

The big time garage sales have not yet begun, I assume. Probably later in the summer we'll see some better ones. Then there's always the City Wide garage sale. If you can't find something cool at that one then you're too hard to please.

Why do we go to these garage sales? It's not that we NEED any of the stuff that people sell. We're not so poor that we'd have to buy a pair of shoes at one because we couldn't afford to get them new.

But I have to say that it's a lot of fun to see what kind of crap people want to get rid of. Most of it is just that---total junk. Still, every once in a while you'll find something really neat. You decide you've got to have it and what the hell, it's probably going to cost a dollar or two (less if you're looking for books, which is practically the only thing I ever buy at yard sales). It's a recycling thing of sorts...you move it from one person's pile of crap and add it to your own until you decide to have your own garage sale. By then you'll be tired of it. Throw it in with the other garbage you're ready to chunk and make what you can off of it (might as well...if it doesn't sell you'll chunk it anyway...after all, it's a long drive to the Salvation Army and Goodwill thrift stores).

5.30.2008

I had to post this picture I found on Sigur Ros' MySpace page. I assume that the youngsters here are the boys choir the band used on the upcoming album. I also assume that the hat Jonsi is wearing does NOT belong to him...

I could be wrong on both counts...

5.28.2008

We went to the DHS office yesterday. I'm not even sure of why we were there. I keep myself in a constant state of unawareness when it comes to matters of such importance. You can call that "irresponsible"...I call it a concentrated effort to avoid another psychotic episode. You see, my stress tolerance is pretty damned low. When it reaches the breaking point, so do I. It can't be helped...if it could, don't you think I would have already done something about it? If not, well, you don't know me, do you?

Regardless of WHY we where there, it was nothing but a long wait for my son and I. We read for most of that time. Then we entered into a conversation concerning the likelihood of having lunch at Pizza Hut. Personally, I love Pizza Hut. Their pizza is always good. Even if the salad bar isn't as well stocked as others, they DO have the absolute best ranch dressing on the planet. I don't even like ranch anymore, but Pizza Hut's is the exception.

Alas, Bryan is fed up with the Hut. I've dragged him there so many times that he's sick of it and has developed a severe distaste for the food (or so he says...I have to wonder, though...). I will concede that the last time we went to a Pizza Hut we had bad service. There have been two or three instances of shoddy service, indeed. But as I see it, when an issue such as this arises in reference to a restaurant CHAIN, the particular location/franchise should be boycotted, not the whole chain. I'm okay with that. But apparently, as far as Bryan is concerned, the "Pizza Hut" name has been smeared by the incompetence of some lazy waitress.

We wound up eating at Taco Tico. The food there is pretty good, but the cool thing is that they have an old Johnny Kneumonic (sp?) pinball machine. Any chance I can get to play a pinball game is going to be taken, and I whipped this one's ass. I won 2 free games and the point count was astronomical.

Music Video of the Week: Sigur Ros

Pause the Sigur Ros jukebox at the top of the page unless you want to hear a mash-up (which might not be too bad, actually)...

1st half


2nd half
"Untitled 8" Live 2005
Sigur Ros



The new video of "Gobbledigook" was originally this week's featured video, but YouTube pulled it down. I presume it was done because the nudity "violated the terms of usage". Okay, I'm not upset about that. There are lots of youngsters on YouTube, though I don't think this particular work is in bad taste. On the contrary, it's artistic merits, IMO, raise it above anything that I would find objectionable to anyone old enough to operate a computer and log in to YouTube. I'm sure there are hordes of parents out there who don't see it that way though.

Oh well...instead I present to you a very nice version of "Untitled 8". It's split into two sections, for whatever reason. Enjoy!

PS...by all means go to SigurRos.com and see the "Gobbledigook" video. It's great!

5.27.2008

Sigur Ros press release 5.27.08

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
(English spelling: Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust)

Sigur Rós will be releasing their fifth album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (English translation: with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly), worldwide the week of June 23.
The first track from the album, entitled "Gobbledigook," is available worldwide for free download via SigurRos. com.
The video for the song is also on the website.



A pre-sale for the album will begin on SigurRos. com on June 2. A special deluxe edition of the album to be released later in the year — featuring a "Making Of… " book, a film and more — will also be available to pre-order on the band's website as of June 2.
A stream of Með suð í eyrum… will be available to hear on SigurRos. com on June 9. Lastly, a plethora of Sigur Rós goodies — exclusive clips, information on tickets for upcoming shows throughout the year, etc.
— will be available to those who sign up for the mailing list on SigurRos. com.



Með suð í eyrum… was co-produced with the band by renowned producer Flood, and was recorded in New York City (at Sear Sound Studios), London (at Assault and Battery Studios and Abbey Road), Reykjavík (at Álafoss, the band's studio, as well as a church in Reykjavík), and Havana, Cuba. Whereas Sigur Rós' last release — the critically-acclaimed documentary Heima, chronicling their free tour throughout Iceland — took the band to their homeland, their newest creation, Með suð í eyrum… is the first album in the band's career to be made outside of Iceland. It is also their first album to feature vocalist Jón "Jónsi" Thor Birgisson's vocals in English on one track (the remainder are sung in Icelandic).



Inspired by the unfettered feeling of the acoustic performances filmed during Heima, Sigur Rós decided to adopt a looser approach in the writing and creation of their brilliant fifth album. The material for the album was written, recorded and mixed entirely in 2008 and is being released just one month after its completion. The album glows with the perfect imperfection of live takes, the sounds of fingers playing guitar strings, cracked notes, and a stark, upfront presence not found in previous Sigur Rós recordings, moving away from reverb-soaked guitar sounds towards something altogether more affecting. The record also contains some of the most joyous music the band has ever recorded.



Opener "Gobbledigook" sets the tone for Með suð í eyrum… with its shifting acoustic guitars, playful vocals, time signature swings and swirling percussion, while "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur" ("Within me a lunatic sings") sparkles as one of the most anthemic songs Sigur Rós have ever written. "Festival" is epic in its elation and scope, "Illgresi" features one of Jónsi's finest vocal melodies over a lone acoustic guitar, and "Ára bátur" is the largest musical undertaking in the band's career, as it was recorded live in one take with the London Sinfonietta and London Oratory Boy's Choir, a total of 90 people playing at the same time. The band also utilized the talents of their string-quartet friends Amiina, as well as a five-piece brass section on certain tracks, in addition to introducing the Mellotron into their writing/recording process for the first time on this album, highlighted on one of the most tender and beautiful songs on the record, "Fljótavík.

"

The spirit of Með suð í eyrum… is best captured by the album's stunning artwork, contributed by acclaimed visual artist Ryan McGinley. McGinley first met the band when he photographed Jónsi six years ago; the album cover was taken from a flyer for McGinley's most recent exhibit, "I Know Where the Summer Goes," which happened to find its way into Jónsi's inbox just as the band was deciding on how to best visually represent their new collection of songs. The result is a perfect synergy of the aural and the visual.



The tracklisting for Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly) is…

1.

Gobbledigook
2.

Inní mér syngur vitleysingur
3.

Góðan daginn
4.

Við spilum endalaust
5.

Festival
6.

Með suð í eyrum
7.

Ára bátur
8.

Illgresi
9.

Fljótavík
10.

Straumnes
11.

All Alright

Sigur Rós will be playing shows all over the globe throughout the summer and fall to preview material from Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, including a special set at this year's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

The tour dates are:

The June tour dates…
6/5/08 Guadalajara, MEX @ Teatro Degollado
6/7/08 Tepoztlan, MEX @ Festival La Colmena
6/8/08 Tijuana, MEX @ Planeta Tijuana
6/11/08 Omaha, NE @ Orpheum Theater
6/12/08 Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
6/14/08 Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
6/16/08 New York, NY @ Grand Ballroom
6/20/08 Neuhausen ob Eck @ Southside Festival
6/22/08 Scheesel, Bremen @ Hurricane Festival

More worldwide tour dates will be announced soon.



Sigur Rós is: Jón Thor Birgisson (vocals, guitar), Georg Holm (bass), Kjartan Sveinsson (keyboards/piano), Orrí Páll Dýrason (drums).

New Sigur Ros tune..."Gobbledigook". A percussion driven song, it reminds me much more of Bjork than anything Sigur Ros has ever released. And that's no joke. It doesn't even remotely sound like Sigur Ros. I like it.

As for the video...uh...well...My wife, who isn't familiar with the artistic aspects of the band, seems to think that they're trying to sell albums by featuring frolicking nudists in this clip. Of course I don't see it that way. It's not as if music videos sell albums anymore. It's not an overtly sexual video, anyway. It straddles the thin line that separates eroticism and innocent naturalism, with the latter emerging triumphant.

If the whole album is as much a change of pace as "Gobbledigook" I suppose I'll be pleased, but I do hope there are at least a couple of "signature" tracks as well.

5.26.2008

A family favorite, and very likely my all-time favorite Dr. Seuss book...

The disastrous show last Friday has triggered a minor depression. I'm okay, but I have temporarily lost interest in some things I normally enjoy. Like several different kinds of music. Basically all I can listen to right now are Sigur Ros, classical and opera. I'll get over it soon enough, I'm sure. It's happened before and I came through it with a fresh appreciation for the artists that I'd ignored.

Fed up with trying to use the Acid Program as a "regular" music studio, I have gone back to loop-based compositions. I'd forgotten how much fun that is. Plus, I can take all that I learned in the failed "regular" sessions and apply it to the new stuff. Right now I'm working on a piece that features chopped-up lines from a fiery church sermon, arranged out of context, and placed strategically within a heavy ambient structure. It's coming along quite nicely.

My son and my wife are on summer vacation (she's a teacher and he's a student), so the dynamic in the house has changed somewhat from what it normally is. Not that that's such a bad thing...the way things have been going lately I'd venture to guess that it will be good. I have been known to be wrong, though. I reckon they'll take some trips to Stacie's home town, just to get away from me (I am a very difficult person to tolerate in long doses...I admit it). It also gives me some "private time" (which has proven, in the past, to be essential to my state of mind).

So, I went to the video store and rented 6 DVDs, with the intention of watching them over the course of the week with Stacie (Bryan's got to the point where he wouldn't want to watch a movie with us even if it were something he actually wanted to see...I'm sure it 's a "teen thing").
The roster:

~~~"The Sum of All Fears" (watched that one this morning. It was decent. Awesome nuclear bomb explosion sequence)
~~~"Spider Man" (no, I have NOT seen it)
~~~"A Series of Unfortunate Events" (I've grown to enjoy Jim Carrey...I never thought that would happen)
~~~"Artificial Intelligence" (completely blew this off when it was first released)
~~~"Session 9" (ya gotta love a horror movie set in an abandoned mental hospital)
~~~"Reign of Fire" (which has flown under my radar since the day it was released)

To change the subject...we finally received some good news from the Social Security Disability people. At least now we know when my benefits will begin. June 18th for the first regular payment and July 1 for the big chunk. It shouldn't be hard to wait that long, seeing as how we've already waited two years.

The Kansas City vacation is booked and ready to go. Arrival on Thursday, Sigur Ros concert, night in a fine motel, drive down to Springfield the next morning for the Cave Tour at Fantastic Caverns and maybe a detour through Branson, then back to Springfield to stay the night (in another fine motel) then departing for the return trip in the early afternoon.

Of course, I am most excited about the Sigur Ros show. To make things even better I finally convinced Bryan that it would really be fun, so he's coming with me! I DO think he'll have a blast. He's never been to a rock concert before. He's never seen an awesome light show. It will be a night to remember and one day he will look back on it with fond memories. I am certain of that.

5.24.2008

This is some weird shit, people

King Vitamin BABEE!

In my post from the 16th of this month I mentioned that I was going to take the family out to the new Mexican restaurant. I'd hoped that it would be good, since there are so few choices in this town for dining out.

We went last week and I have to say it's not too bad. Sure, I've had better, but I am not complaining. I ordered the chili relliano (sp?). That's not what I usually get at Mexican places, but I was in the mood for something different. Looking back, I suppose I should have ordered something I eat more often so I could judge how their food stacked up against other places I've eaten at.

The salsa was only fair (though my wife liked it a lot). The test of a truly great Mexican restaurant is the salsa. Here it was just a little too strong on the tomatoes and it wasn't quite hot enough. The queso seemed a bit too watery for my tastes. It was not as spicy as I would have liked, either.

The whole affair was somewhat more expensive than I would have liked. I don't think it was worth what we paid for it. But I don't really want to complain too awdul much, because it was decent.

deja vu sends me back into retirement

The "big show" was last night. The "coming out of retirement" performance. I'd like to say it was a smashing success, but it only reminded me of why I "retired" in the first place.

Okay, I'll get the usual excuses out of the way right now. The place was not the kind of venue that is suited for the kind of stuff I do. I know, that was the one I used for my last debacle at VZD's. It was most definitely a legitimate reason then, and so it was a valid one last night. This Speakeasy club is a very popular place amongst people who are looking to socialize. There is definitely a lot of socializing going on. There is so much of it that the act on stage might as well be playing to a room full of mannequins. Of course, I had a few friends scattered amongst the lot, so it's not like I had no support whatsoever. But I sure didn't win any new "fans" last night.

Perhaps it was a good thing, for me, that the club's owners were out of town for the night. I doubt I would be asked back again. That would be okay with me, though, as I do not want a repeat of the evening.

It's like this. If I'm in a band and I'm playing the bass, I have all the confidence in the world. I can knock 'em out every time that way. But when I try to do it with just the guitar and my songs I simply don't have that same self-assurance. I feel too alone and vulnerable up there. A song ends---silence. Even with supporters seeded in the audience. I don't know what that means to any other musician/songwriter. For me it just ratchets up the "uncomfortable vibe" and reinforces the nagging possibility that maybe, just maybe I'm not as good at this as I would like to think I am.

It didn't help that my guitar was running through a small practice amp and not straight into the house PA's board (though I did appreciate the loner from J.D.). The amp was situated directly behind me at head level. Maybe that wouldn't have been so bad if I could have worked out a decent EQ. I could not. So I had to make do with it blaring straight at the back of my skull.

I knew the sound wasn't going to be very good. I couldn't quite adjust to it, and so my singing left a lot to be desired on certain songs. The crowds lack of attention and enthusiasm (which I previously mentioned) didn't help matters. For a couple of songs I decided, "What the hell, I'm gonna make sure a FEW people are gonna hear me"... I remembered that all the groups I've seen who play there have a "like it or leave it" attitude. So I tried to channel that spirit a couple of times, and to be honest, I think those were the the highlights of the evening. I should have taken that position from the very start. Still, it probably wouldn't have worked on all of my material.

Speaking of my material...I don't think my selection was well-suited to the place. I take some comfort in knowing that it wasn't necessarily the "material" as it was in the format of a "Barnes & Noble open-mic night singer/songwriter gig" that I'm doing. Once again, that was the deal at the humbling VZD's show that knocked me for a loop those two years ago. It only qualifies as a stock excuse.

I regretted the decision to make the show a "novelty" affair, leaning heavily on the wacky stuff that goes over so well in smaller gatherings. I'd done that because I really thought that a lot of my posse would be there. Alas, very few actually showed up. And there was at least one who DID show and left before I even started playing. Ugh! I doubt that it would have mattered, because practically no one was paying attention.

That said, obviously I'm very grateful to the ones who did make it and offered encouraging remarks afterwards.

I didn't have a set order for the songs. I'd hoped for a chance to "read" the audience and tailor the songs to their fancy. Bad decision. I wasted a lot of time trying to decide what I would do next...I know I looked like a rank amateur doing that. My plan backfired on me. I also wound up mixing the song styles in a less-than-successful manner. And there were a couple I just said "fuck it" to. I first looked at my watch about thirty minutes into it and I was already thinking about stepping down. I would have, but I decided to play a couple more songs if only for myself. I wouldn't have cared if the people at the club expected 45 minutes or an hour from me. It's not as if I was being paid.

I decided to kill it with a rendition of the Stones' "Sister Morphine". I don't know, maybe I just had the capo on the wrong fret, but I swear to God it was the wrong key for me. I improvised a melody line that I was fairly comfortable with, but I knew it was bombing. The scant few in attendance who may have known the song probably couldn't recognize it from my poor rendition. I forgot a verse. It was a sad ending to a bad show. I would like to humbly apologize to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for butchering their song like I did.


I rode up there with Jeff and my brother, and I don't mind saying that I was ready to leave that joint a long time before they were. Paid six dollars for a pint of Guinness, which I don't doubt is the going rate, especially at nice places like the Speakeasy. But I am no bar-hopper. I'm not accustomed to paying that much when I can walk down to the liquor store and buy a six pack for only a couple of dollars more. It was good, but it kinda wiped me out. I didn't bring that kind of cash with me and I wasn't going to break out the Visa card. I took 25 bucks out of the bank before I left town earlier, and I had 2 in my wallet. The transactional analysis for last night broke down like this:

$4.00- Monster (BFC size)
$6.00-Brisket dinner from Van's Pig Stand (which was well worth the money)
$4.00-20 oz. Dr. Pepper and 2 packages of Sour Skittles (yummy)
$6.00-Pint of Guiness @ club
$2.00-Large Dr. Pepper from the fountain of a Circle K and a bag of Snyder's Honey Mustard flavored pretzel pieces.

Which, I now realize, as I crunch the numbers, adds up to only $22.00...Somewhere along the lines I lost a 5 dollar bill. Man, that sucks. I hope I didn't accidentally give that bartender a TEN and a ONE instead of a FIVE. There is the possibility that I gave the extra money to Jeff, paying for the brisket that he was responsible for procuring. I think he would have noticed it, though. and said something. I can think of a few scenarios that would explain where that fiver got off to, but it all comes down to the hard fact that it, like "Deliah", is gone.

It was paar for the course last night, though. I was SO happy when I got home. A nice, hot shower and I was revived. Maybe too much so. I didn't feel like going to sleep, so I listened to a couple of CDs. I'd been meaning to play some Jefferson Airplane, who have, in the past, come mighty close to being a "critical blind spot" for me. I chose "After Bathing at Baxters" over the "Jefferson Airplane Loves You" box set that I've got. It was actually a lot better than I remembered it being. The harmonies are all over the place and they're tight. But I'll tell you this... Grace Slick wails like a banshee. Talk about histrionics. Her lyrics are a certain shade of surreal as well. You can sure tell that she was tripping on some illegal narcotic or another when she wrote those. It is a testament to how good the rest of the package is that, despite Grace's caterwauling, it's still a very good record.

Then I got in the mood to hear some Moody Blues (and that is one mood I rarely find myself in, I don't mind telling you). I'd heard "Send Me No Wine" on the XM Deep Tracks a couple of days ago and it was stuck in my head. Not that it's such a great song, but it did make me want to hear some more. I wish I had known which album that song is from. I don't. So I selected "To Our Children's Children's Children" (I think that's the name...something very much like it). It was not as enjoyable as I thought it might be, but it wasn't too bad.

And finally, as I type this post, I am running on a mere 3 hours of shut-eye. Not good for me. I don't think I could go back to sleep if I tried, though. Maybe. I do feel miserable. My head hurts and my brain's full of what I call "lack-of-sleep wool". My belly is upset from the honey mustard pretzel pieces and the French onion dip I ate before I turned in. What the hell was I thinking?

5.18.2008

How odd...

I just burned a CD of the Metal Machine Music station I wrote of in the last post, and it timed out at 92 MINUTES!

I have never known of ANY digital audio CD-R that held more than 80 minutes.

This one was from a batch of Hewlitt Packard CD-Rs that I've never used before. I thought I would give them a try because...well...because they were CHEAP. 50 of 'em for around 13 bucks, tax included.

I've burned on at least a third of them and they seem to work just fine. None of them, however, has topped the 80 minute mark.

Very, very strange.

Lou Reed: " Metal Machine Music"




NOTE: I've revised and re-worked this review on June 8,2010. Read it HERE.

The last couple of days I have re-discovered the joys of Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music". Panned universally by critics when it was first released, the "noise-scapes" that filled the 4 sides of the double album were considered to be a drastic attempt at commercial suicide and a hearty "fuck you" to his label, RCA, who were goading him into writing another hit song.

"Walk on the Wild Side", from the "Transformer" album, was not your typical 70's radio hit. But Reed had never been "typical" about anything. The song's success must have surprised everyone involved with the project, from producer David Bowie to the nameless bigwigs making decisions in the RCA conference rooms to Lou himself.

If you think about it, it was absurd to want an artist like Lou Reed to conjure a follow-up to a song like that and expect it to shoot up the charts like it's predecessor did. "Walk on the Wild Side" was one of a kind. Over 30 years later and there's still nothing like it (that I've heard, anyway). It was only natural for the former frontman of the Velvet Underground to rebel against any attempt to force him into writing a sequel.

So, instead, he invented a gizmo (I wish I could remember what he called it) that sounded like a short wave radio placed in the middle of a nuclear reactor. In reality, it was a four track recorder he used, but God knows what he did to create all those sounds. If I were to come up with a label for this kind of "music", I think I'd call it "ambient chaos" or "chaotic ambience". It is, I suppose, the polar opposite of what is considered to be "ambient" music, which usually provides a more relaxing experience. "Metal Machine Music" is about as relaxing as a bumpy ride on a train bound for Hades.

And yet, I love it.

It was in the mid-late 70's when I first purchased MMM. I had heard a lot about it, but my exposure to Lou Reed's music was limited to hearing "Walk on the Wild Side" on the radio. Still, I more or less knew what to expect.

Sound Warehouse was probably the biggest record/tape store in Oklahoma in those days. This was when 8-Track tapes were almost as popular as vinyl records (hard to believe, but true). My friends and I would drive 50 miles just to go to a Sound Warehouse and loiter for hours to looing at album covers and reading liner notes. Most of the time we didn't have the money to buy any of them, but every once in a while the store would run clearance sales on 8-Tracks that, for whatever reason, they wanted to get rid of. Probably because they just didn't sell. It was all "off-the-wall" stuff that, I'm sure, was totally off the radar for the typical customer. They'd sell 'em for as little as 50 cents apiece. I took advantage of the situation.

Luckily, I never was the "typical customer" and a lot of these tapes were from bands that I'd read about in Creem and Rock Scene...bands that had been critically lauded but ignored by the public. That's what I was all about, my friend. I bought scads of these 8-Tracks. I obtained practically the entire Berserkly catalogue (including every one of the awesome Jonathon Richman & the Modern Lovers albums). I got at least three Nektar tapes, a couple by a bizarre group called Magma. lots and lots more.

But the most unusual one I ever bought was Reed's "Metal Machine Music". ON 8-TRACK! FOR 50 CENTS!!!!!! You have to understand, you just can't get these anymore. They sell on eBay for big bucks (you can't even find one there at this time). Thurston Moore, of Sonic Youth, has lauded the album as an integral influence on his band's sound and has even used excerpts in a couple of their own songs.

AND I HAD IT!...big deal. I don't have it anymore. I think it was among a box of tapes that were stolen from my car while it was parked at my school. If it was, well, I hope the thief felt cheated when he/she listened to them. Sparks, PFM, Moonshine, that kind of stuff just wasn't hip in my little town. And I ESPECIALLY hope MMM freaked the thief out. I can see it now...he's tooling down the highway checking out his newfound booty...he pops MMM into his deck...the sheer aural assault almost drives him off of the road as he becomes hypnotized by the noise. He can do nothing to stop it, and before the first program has even ended he is hopelessly and incurably insane.

Most likely he chunked it out the window within 30 seconds of inserting it into his Lear stereo. It hit the ground and broke into several pieces, the metallic tape blowing like a long, black streamer in the wind.

Can't say that I blame him for that. To say that it is "a difficult listen" is a grand understatement. I think I only played it once all the way through, and that was with headphones. I actually bragged about that...I considered it an achievement that set me apart from the other music geeks I hung out with. It was a milestone for me. Don't ask why...I guess it had something to do with how certain I was that I had joined a circle of people, those who had endured the entire album, which had to be almost infinitely small.

Anyhoo, I bring all this up because in the process of burning discs from Pandora I decided to "create a station" around the "song" "Metal Machine Music". To be honest, I didn't think it would even recognize it. But I was surprised to see that, not only was MMM represented, there were lots of bands churning out "ambient chaos" that exhibited the same room-clearing standards as the original. I knew that "noise" had become a genre (or a sub-genre) but I'd never had the opportunity to sample it. Now that I have, I'm pretty heavy into it. Of course, had I never listened to MMM when I was a kid I would probably dismiss it outright. Even now I am hesitant to classify it as "music" (though there definitly was a time when I defended it as such). But, seeing as how I've been indoctrinated, I can say that all this cacophony actually sounds good to me. It's a nice change, a unique alternative to the usual.

5.17.2008

I was able to accomplish just about everything I planned to do yesterday.

"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" turned out to be an excellent film. No happy endings here, that's for sure. I guess you might could call it a "downer", but it was enthralling nevertheless. Highly recommended on all counts.

My son's talent show was a success. He performed very well and I'm sure his popularity will be cemented for another year (after his well-received performance last year).

I was able to read a bit of "The Fires of Heaven". Not nearly as much as I would have liked, but every little bit counts.

Rented and watched "Untraceable" with the wife last night. Quite enjoyable. About a guy who puts up a website where he kills people. The more people who log in to see it, the sooner the victim dies. Brought up a lot of issues about net security, the human condition (indeed, thousands upon thousands of people would actually go to a website like this if it were real...I honestly believe that...think back to the time when the American journalist was beheaded by Islamic terrorists and how many people watched it on the Internet), the pace of technology and our inability to keep up with it... There were a couple of times when it almost seemed to slip into "B Movie" territory, but it rebounded well. Even if it wasn't a star-studded event, it was a well-done movie that I can recommend to anyone whose in the market for a suspense/thriller.

Went to the library this morning and looked at the books they had for sale. Unbelievably priced at 5 cents for paperbacks and a quarter for hardback. I couldn't resist picking up several of them. The best "catch" was a trade paperback of Dalton Trumbo's "Johnny Got His Gun". It's been YEARS since I've read that. It's always been a favorite.

5.16.2008

agenda for the day

Plans for the day:

Burn a few CDs from my PANDORA stations...especially Pan American Radio. There's so much good stuff there that I will surely buy some of it soon, so I don't feel too guilty burning it for now.

I'm gonna watch "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" just to see if Philip Seymour Hoffman is as good here as he was in "Charlie Wilson's War".

Then I'm going to attend my son's performance at his middle school talent show. He's singing a song by The Fray called "How to Save a Life". I can't say that I've ever particularly liked the song. Now that he's sang it at least 150 times while practicing I can assure you that if I HAD liked it before, I would no longer. Still, it's not about the song. It's the performance and the performer. So I am sure I'll enjoy myself.

I'm going to try and read a decent sized chunk of Robert Jordan's 5th Wheel of Time book, "The Fires of Heaven". My eye problems of late have kept me from reading for long periods of time, and consequently it takes much longer to finish a book. This is frustrating, because there are so many books I want to read. The hope is that when my disability benefits start to come I can see a different optometrist and get fitted with some better glasses. I'll never see my old doctor again, that's for sure.

If I don't forget, I'm going to suggest that we eat at the new Mexican place in town, Juana's. The last Mexican restaurant which used that building failed miserably, closing down in little over 6 months from opening. I hope this new one is good, both in the food and the service (the latter of which probably was the downfall of the prior tenants). We desperately need another dining choice in this small town. If it's going to succeed, though, it will have to gain a good reputation and bring in people from the surrounding towns, because I highly doubt that our economy here can support it alone.

Haven't decided what to do after that. Maybe watch another movie with the wife, give her a foot rub. I swear she seems to prefer foot rubs to sex, but I'm hoping to give her another chance to choose between the two tonight.

5.15.2008

Contrary to previous reports, I am ecstatic to report that

I WILL BE SEEING SIGUR ROS IN KANSAS CITY MISSOURI ON JUNE 12TH!!!!!!

The trip is going to kill me, what with gas prices most likely in the $4+ range by then. But it is vacation time, the wife and kid want to go somewhere (though they have opted not to attend the show...they are not the stalwart Sigur Ros fans that I am). The Grand Prix has proven reliable the last few times we've gone on long trips, so we're gonna put our trust in it. It's very likely we'll have put new tires on it by then. Plus, an oil change and general tune-up will likely have been performed on it as well. Hopefully that won't be an issue.

The ticket was cheap, though. About $35. General Admission, so I will probably show up about 3 hours before the doors open so I can get a choice seat. I don't know that I want to be right up front...I think the noise level would be too high. But I would like a good seat in the center of the venue, not too far back from the stage.

This is my second time to see them. When I saw them in 02 I was not as big a fan as I am now. It was by far the best concert I'd ever been to up to that point. The chances are very good that I'll find this one to be even better. I'm really wanting to hear stuff from "Takk". Of course, I'm anxious to hear new material, but to be honest, I kind of like to get familiar with an album before I hear it performed. I don't think that will be too much of an issue, though, since much of what I've heard from the upcoming release features a full orchestra and a boys choir. I doubt they will be sporting an entourage that big when they blow through Kansas City.

One might think it strange that I'd be attending the concert all by my lonesome. The fact of the matter is that I simply don't know anyone who'd want to see the show with me. Most of my friends are into different types of music. I do know one guy who I'd like to be there, but he can't make it because of his job. I know he would if he could, because he's seen them at least 3 times and this venue is a lot closer than some he's gone to. It's okay, though. When I saw TOOL I was alone. To be perfectly honest, I think I'd RATHER be there by myself. I'm a loner, anyway. There's no way my being alone will detract from how much I'll enjoy the occasion.

I wish I had a camera phone, though.

5.13.2008

I'm taking short break from posting. No doubt I'll be back soon enough. In the meantime,enjoy the archives.

PLUS, the Sigur Ros "Dot" widget at the bottom of this page is constantly being updated by the band, and it is infinitely interesting. The snatches of music from the next album that you can hear on these webcam videos would tend to validate hopes that the next album is going to be awesome.

Check it out.

5.10.2008

Haven't had the opportunity to blog much the last couple of days.

Thursday I had an appointment at the local Social Security office. Woo-hoo. Just another pit-stop down a long and winding road.

Yesterday my son had a band contest at Arbuckle Wilderness. I was supposed to follow the bus down there, but I got behind some slow-pokes and wound up losing their trail. As I am somewhat unfamiliar with that area, I also got lost somewhere in the vicinity of a 10 mile radius of my destination. After getting reliable directions from a kind young gentleman at a small grocery store I was able to navigate my way into "the Wilderness". I made it just in time for his performance. The band did a fine job, as they usually do.

Earlier this morning was the commencement ceremony at the college my wife is graduating from. It was a long, drawn out affair. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it was "boring", but I was definitely glad when it was over. Stacie was quite beautiful in her cap and gown. She was one of only seven students (in a class of 144) who graduated Summa Cum Laude. In fact, her grade point average was exactly the same as that of the Valedictorian. I don't know why the other girl was chosen to speak, but the wife didn't care, as she didn't want to give a speech, anyway.

5.07.2008

Sigur Rosstuff on YouTube

Here are a few Sigur Ros related videos I found on YouTube. I hadn't seen any of them before, though I had heard about the first one, which has come to be known as "The Worst Interview Ever". That it may well be, but in the band's defense, the interviewer's questions were banal and for the most part meaningless. I don't blame them for being so silent. When the guy asked Jonsi about "Hopelandic" I cringed and understood exactly why they brushed the whole thing off.

Anyhoo, as always, disable the (newly re-decorated) Sigur Ros jukebox before playing these videos.

Enjoy.

NPR's Bryant Park Project interview


Sigur Ros' complete performance on HBO's "Reverb"


"Heima" acoustic @ Florence Gould Hall, New York (this is only an excerpt of the performance, but it's really nice.


"Takk" documentary (I did see this one some time ago, but haven't noticed it on YouTube lately)


Sigur Ros wins MTV Best Video Award (absolutely surreal!)


"Ny Batteri" w/band profile


"Untitled (7)" Live


"Vaka" Live


"Untitled (4)" Live in Reykjavik


That's enough for now. I'll hunt for some more later.
It would appear that I have absolutely no luck whatsoever when it comes to finding a decent CD player for the bedroom. I bought the Sony I have now after becoming disgusted by RCA products. I've had two RCA stereo consoles screw up on me. The first went balistic, I can't even describe what happened to it. But even before it crashed there was a hissiing noise coming through when CDs were played that made them sound like old analog tapes. The second simply stop reading the discs. As it turned out, this was not a chronic problem. If you want to listen to a CD on it today, chances are you can if you bang the box hard enough with your fist. That seems to get it going, but there is also a good possibility that it will shut down during the 4th or 5th song.

Basically, both of them were total pieces of shit.


So I said to myself, "Okay, time to try something different."

I'd seen a nice Sony console at Wal-Mart for about 100 bucks. It was a 3 CD changer and had an input for another source (I use it to listen to XM radio). Furthermore, it was capable of playing Mp3 discs. It seemed to be perfect for the bedroom and I'd always had lots of luck with the Sony CD players I've had. I bought it. I took it home and hooked it up. I kicked back, laid my head on a pillow and enjoyed the good sound quality. I fiddled around with the remote control until I could work it with my eyes closed. I read the owner's manual carefully and memorized the most important parts. I plugged in my treasured Bose headphones to see if the unit had what it took to drive those suckers. It seemed to do just fine.
Things went well for a few months. Then, a couple of days ago, I noticed that the CD player in the unit was acting strangely. At first, all I noticed was that the Disc Skip function on the remote didn't seem to be working. If that had been the only glitch I might have brushed it off and counted it as one less convenience.

But then it became apparent that the player's laser was not reading the discs properly. It would show "no disc" on the first then cycle through the other two with the same results. The weird thing was that when you opened up the tray and closed it back up again it would seem to read just fine.

I began to wonder if the problem was caused by the CD player's ability (or inability) to play burned CD-Rs. I placed a couple of "regular" CDs in the trays and, sure enough, it read them perfectly. I thought, "Oh, shit. Most of my discs are burned, what good is this thing going to do me?"

Discouraged, I nevertheless popped in one more burned disc (my two-fer special of Tangerine Dream's "Electronic Meditation" and "Force Majeure"). And I'll be damned if that pesky Sony didn't read that thang and play it perfectly.

Now I am baffled. My mind is boggled. This Sony product has got me scratching my head in confusion. I will not give up, though. I'll keep trying to figure out what's wrong, and how to get it fixed, until the laser poops out on me or until I die, whichever comes first (pray it's the laser...I can always buy another stereo for the bedroom...).

Music Video of the Week: Sonic Youth

Be sure to pause the Sigur Ros Jukebox above before playing this classic video. If you don't, the combination of Sonic Youth w/Sigur Ros will make your head explode and I will not be held responsible. You have been warned.

"Teenage Riot"
Sonic Youth

5.06.2008

"Top Cat Leviticus & the Dart Board"

Barry Leviticus...that was his name. DO NOT forget it.

Leviticus was slick. You should have seen him, all decked out in his Wranglers, Tony Llama boots, gaudy pink-and-blue striped Brushpopper and a bitchin' Stetson. His beard was trimmed in a fashion made popular by Keith Urban, who was one of his role models ("ole boy snagged up Nicole Kidman, what the fuck is that?"). He was meticulously, obsessively clean...the smell of expensive cologne wafted from him is subtle waves...Ban Ray shades hid his blue eyes, totally unnecessary in the all-pervading darkness of the Top Cat, his favorite beer joint.

What was it about the Top Cat that kept Leviticus coming back every night? Some patrons would say it was the jukebox. It was the only one in the county that didn't have some Kid Rock song on it. Or "Strokin'". Great Googly Moogly in Heaven, how he detested that song and all of the jackasses who filled the dance floor to line dance every time it came on. He was the slightest bit skittish, and every time those boot heels would smack on the floor it would make him flinch.

The bartender felt certain that his devotion to the Top Cat was contingent upon the two-for-one happy hour beer specials that were so popular with the factory workers coming home from their shifts, stopping in for a quick, cheap beer buzz. Barry generally availed himself of the bargain, but this was not the reason the Top Cat was his pick. Hell, he was more of a Jim Beam drinker. Maybe ole Jerry Galileo behind the bar didn't notice, but he didn't gulp down the brewskis with the same fervour as the rest. Galileo was selfish with the hooch, so the liquor and the service had nothing to do with Leviticus' decision to keep coming back to his establishment.

The most logical reason that Mr. Leviticus chose the Top Cat was because the local Johnny Laws turned a blind eye to all the pot smoking going down in the back yard behind the club. Every 45 minutes, when the band was on break, a thick cloud of pungent bud fumes could be seen rising into the sky, like incense from a burnt sacrifice. The cops sometimes drove around the Top Cat, patrolling for fights. There was no way they didn't see (or smell, for that matter) the marijuana smog and/or the crew of potheads huddled like hunchbacks, each one waiting greedily for the hogleg to be passed his way. John Law just didn't care. Business as usual for them. The chief of police was a big time supplier for the Tri-City area, so there was no way his flunkies were going to throw a monkey wrench into his action.

No, that was not it, either. Leviticus was not a stoner. He got high when the occasion warranted it (usually this was when an unorthodox sexual activity demanded a measure of relaxation that was beyond the ability of Mr. Beam). But he didn't need it, he didn't want it. His position on the matter had always been, "Toke up, boys. I don't care. No, thanks, moondog, you can eat that roach. I'm all good."

All the Top Cat losers would would be more than surprised to know that the ONLY reason Barry Leviticus kept comin' back to the Cat was...

The dart board in the back corner just across from the pool tables.

There was blood on it.

HIS blood.

It was a memory that haunted Leviticus, one that few of the party-hardy asshole regulars knew anything about. Anyone who may have had a clue about why his blood stained the bullseye had either moved on to neighboring states or to that great suburb in the sky. He'd made damn sure of that. Not even Jerry Galileo knew what had happened to them, and he was content to let sleeping dogs lie.

But the dart board was like a ghost to Barry. It was a spectre that he had fallen in love with. Some masochistic urge kept him bound to it's power to the point where he could do nothing to resist as it compelled him, day after day, to return to "the scene of the crime", as it were. It would lay it's trap within the toss of a dart. Once Leviticus was snared, having been drawn inexplicably to that dreaded parameter, another kind of dart, an invisible one, pierced his skull and injected the memory of that night in 1964.

He had just come back from the war, tired and ready for a life that didn't include the taking of other's. Vietnam left scars on the majority of American soldiers who fought so hard for their country...but none so deep and painful as the ones Barry Leviticus bore on his psyche. The reasons for this are better left unspoken, but the results play a huge role in what happened in the Top Cat bar on February 14, 1964. What could have been unforgettable round of darts between a grizzled, yet incredibly fresh and clean, veteran with a chip on his shoulder, and a cadre of biker hippies who were probably only there to cause trouble. The kind of trouble that biker bad-asses are famous for.

Barry was sitting at a table in the back, close to the dart board, with his arm around a cheap hooker he'd picked up earlier at the International House of Pancakes. She'd told him about four of her friends and a reservation they all had at the Cinderella motel. Leviticus was waiting for a visit from the chief-of-police. He hadn't planned on sticking around for very long once the chief had hooked him up.

But then one of those filthy, fat bikers sauntered up to him. Like all of his co-horts, he was as unkempt as a skid row bum and every single article of clothing he wore was emblazoned, somewhere or another, with the Harley-Davidson logo. Leviticus wouldn't have been surprised if the dude's underwear was Harley Davidson brand.

"Is this here your woman?" he asked with a gruesome leer in his eyes.

"It is for tonight," said Barry. "What's it to you?"

Biker thug said he thought it was very important to him, as he thought she was one of the most beautiful, angelic women he'd seen all night.

"I want her," he said. "I'll pay."

Barry took the toothpick he'd been gnawing on out of his mouth. He turned to the hooker and considered. The decision he eventually came to was inspired not so much by the qualities that his foe found in her, it was more a matter of her four friends making it a fivesome and the money already invested (not only in the prostitution fees but also for the rarely smoked dope he'd just sunk a couple of hundred dollars into).

"She ain't for sale. Now why don't you hop back on that horse and mosey on back to whatever pasture you came from?"

Biker thug didn't like that suggestion. He called over a couple of his friends, who flashed muscular arms tattooed with the popular Harley-Davidson logo. They stared at him with a meanness that rivalled the most vicious pit-bull ever primed to fight.

"Howzabout a round of darts?"

"I don't play darts," said Leviticus.

"Oh, yes, you do," said biker thug.

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do."

"No, I don't."

Biker thug swallowed a lump that had found it's way into his throat. He looked to his cronies and said, "Oh, well. I guess he's not up to a game of darts."

"Damn!" said the biker with the Harley-Davidson bandana around his head. "I wanted to play darts!"

No one was more surprised than Barry when they gathered their things and walked through the EXIT doors of the Top Cat. To a man, they hopped onto their Harleys, kicked 'em start, and drove off into a haze of dust.

He wasn't sure how he felt about the exchange. Part of him was relieved that it had not come to blows. But there was no denying that he was hoping for just that.

He sauntered over to the dart board, calmly considering what had just happened. It weighed heavy on his mind. What would have happened if he had taken them up on their offer of a dart game? Who would have won such a battle of skill and what were the stakes?

He took a sidelong glance at the whore whose friends were waiting for him just down the block in room 101. She was handsome, in her own hand-me-down way, but her honor had not been his to avenge.

They had not insulted him for his good looks, his refreshing cleanliness or the showy, if not somewhat tacky, wardrobe he was sporting. Even though he stood in sharp contrast with their slovenliness, they had not said a disparaging word to him about it.

In fact, none of them had done anything to upset him. The only one who even spoke to him, biker thug, had only desired an illegal transaction that he had already consummated. He had no right to be so possessive of a woman who only charged him 50 bucks and a quarter sack of weed. A true bargain when you throw in the four friends at no extra charge.

Basically, these guys only wanted to play darts. Sure, it was in bad taste to want to scag a slut straight from a paying customers arm, but it wasn't the first time that had happened. Barry Leviticus would be a liar if he told you that he hadn't accepted a similar offer when the price had been right (a 50% profit was more than enough to rid him of any traces of chivalry). On this occasion he had simply decided that his original plan was better than any he could have purchased with biker thugs money.

It all boiled down to this:

He had not wanted to play darts.

He stepped to the board. There were darts sticking out of the 14, 20, 15 and 5 point areas. Somehow this seemed significant. He pulled one of them out to inspect it (the one that had scored 5 points). Turning with his fingertips he reflected upon what had transpired. He came to the conclusion that the next time bikers showed up wanting to play a game he would indulge them.

Then, as he was just about to return the sharp projectile to the board, he accidentally pricked his finger. It didn't feel like much, but for some reason it bled profusely (as much as a finger can bleed, one might say).

"OUCH! Damnit to Hades!" he cursed, cramming the dart back into the board...

A small drop of crimson ochre welled up from the dart's end and fell like a teardrop down the circumference of the board. Lifeblood seed of a waif.

Every night since, Leviticus has returned. He's at the Top Cat tonight. He'll be there tomorrow night. Even if the music supplier puts a Kid Rock CD in the jukebox. Even if the line dancer's strokin' and stomping sets his teeth on edge. Even if Jerry Galileo decides that the two-for-one happy hour deal loses too much money to continue. Even if the DEA busts the chief and the Laws have no choice but to put the fear of God in the dopers.

Barry Leviticus will be there.

The blood draws him.
In regards to "Hvorf/Heim"...you know, it just now occurred to me that what the band should have done was to release a soundtrack album for "Heima" and include some of the "Hvorf" tracks as bonuses. I mean, the whole of "Heim" is basically soundtrack material anyway. I would especially have liked to have the live "Heima" version of "Hoppipolla"/"Meo Blodnisar" on a CD. Those two simply blow away the studio versions (especially the latter). I was sorely disappointed that they didn't include "Guitardjamm" as well. That's one of the most intense songs on the entire DVD.

Lucky for me, I've got a component CD burner and a music studio program that converts DVD to wav or mp3 files. I can easily make my own "Heima"soundtrack.

hee hee!

5.05.2008

3 years ago...the 15 movies I think everone should see (re-post)

[I compiled this list 3 years ago, almost to the day. It was the 15 movies I thought everyone should see. Surprisingly, I still agree with most of my choices (although I don't know what possessed me to lift up "Born Innocent" to the same exalted status as "The Seventh Seal"...that one was kinda iffy). As the first installment in a series of re-posts from 3 years ago, here they are...]


Okay, that was kinda fun checking out AMenity's 15 Movies she thinks everyone should see, so I thought I'd try my hand at a similar list.

1.Magnolia

2.Once Upon a Time in the West

3. The Passion of the Christ

4. The Seventh Seal

5. Koyaanisqatsi

6. The Deer Hunter

7. The Exorcist

8. Time Code

9. Head

10. Born Innocent

11. Saving Private Ryan

12. The Truman Show

13. Pink Floyd-The Wall

14. Amadeus

15. National Lampoon's Animal House
...and one extra...

Cries and Whispers

...of course, these can all be purchased from
Amazon.com.
Last night I dreamed of a person falling from the sky to the ground...thump...Why was he/she falling and from where did he/she fall from?...thump...

I have similar dreams all the time, to the point where I think I KNOW I'm dreaming from within the dream whenever I see one of 'em come crashing down. But sometimes I can't convince myself that it really is a dream, like if I try to wake myself up, I can't.

I don't mind these dreams. Actually, I find them to be quite interesting. You don't see people dropping to the ground from the sky every day in the waking world.

dizzler/project playlist battle for Sigur Ros Jukebox supremacy

No doubt there are hundreds, if not thousands of people out there who are fascinated and immensely amused by the Project Playlist versus Dizzler war that is playing itself out on this blog. Dizzler, with it's superior designing capabilities, has been the victor for the last couple of days.

But as of right now, Project Playlist has made a strong comeback and has very likely dealt the death blow True, the rumour is that PP is in deep trouble with the record label suits. I don't know how reliable this information is, nor do I know what, if any, effect it will have upon the site. My hope is that all the issues get resolved satisfactorily and that the fun doesn't end for the millions of people who are, in reality, promoting the music they love by sharing it with others.

Dizzler's downfall came when I started to get tired of "Glosoli", which was my "default song". I never thought I would tire of it, and I haven't reached that point, having turned down the sound every time I open my blog page. I WON'T get burned out on it if I listen in moderation...unfortunately this is not possible with Dizzler's player. The shuffle feature, as I have recently discovered, DOES work, but the problem is that you always have to start from the default song.

For the most part, I'm the only one listening to the thing (though who knows...there may be a few others with the same superior taste in music who park here for a while just to listen to the world famous Sigur Ros Jukebox). What I want is a different song order every time, and that includes (most importantly, perhaps) a different starting point. The Project Playlist player may not be the most visually appealing widget out there, but I don't care.

Furthermore, it takes Dizzler forever to connect and start playing. I won't cast the blame on the service itself, as it may be my DSL connection (I will never go back to a 56K, but even so, this DSL we've got is still frustrating and makes me wish I had a cable connection...the reasons I DON'T are good ones, but I can't talk about them here). Regardless of who or what is at fault, it's still an unacceptable problem.

Anyhoo, the long and short of it is that the Sigur Ros Jukebox has returned to the Project Playlist mode.

One change that I've made on the Jukebox is the addition of several tracks by Amiina, who have recorded and toured with Sigur Ros as a string quartet. Their music is not confined to strings, however. It is an interesting and intriguing experimental sound that compliments, in it's own way, the soundscapes of their Icelandic compatriots. If you've seen Sigur Ros' "Heima" you already know how important their contribution has been to that band's overall sound over the last several years. I think you will enjoy the tracks I've added...I will, and I suppose that's what matters.

Sigur Ros: "Hvorf/Heim"

It took 6 months, but I finally procured a copy of "Hvorf/Heim".

I don't want to say I'm "underwhelmed", because there are so many good performances here. But the fact is that I've heard pretty much all of it. The second disc is culled completely from the "Heima" soundtrack, so it shouldn't surprise you that I'm more than familiar with these versions. And they are very good...interesting...unique departures from the originals sonically if in no other way. But I've NEVER been a fan of what I call "Unplugged" projects. A couple of songs work very well in this format. "Heysatan" is great, the open soundscape giving the horn section more room to breathe. "Vaka" works well on the strength of the vulnerability in Jonsi's voice during the end section. On "()" it's padded with a beautiful counterpoint, but it's naked to the world here (it took me some time to get used to this rendition after I heard it on "Heima", but it really grows on you). Amiina, the string section, are integral to the overall feel of these acoustic versions. I've said it somewhere else, but I think it would be cool if Amiina and Sigur Ros simply merged into one mammoth 8-piece band (I guess that's more or less what's happened the last few years, but I don't want to see them split). The "chord organ" (I'll call it, since I don't know it's proper name and since it sounds just like those Magnum chord organs I used to play with when I was young) is a staple in these songs, and though it sounds pretty neat at first, it gets a little tiresome when it's used in so many songs.

One thing that truly disappoints me about the acoustic disc is that they did not include the song "Heima". I cannot, for the life of me, understand why not. It would have been the only "new" song in the lot...it would have upped the too-short duration of the disc by about 5 minutes (barely pushing it out of EP territory into a short LP)...and it would have tilted the scale of songs I really like, as opposed to songs I just KINDA like, 4/3. "Heima" is certainly as good as anything here, perhaps even better than most of these tracks.

As for the "Hvorf" disc, the songs are very good, at least as good as outtakes usually are in relation to released material. Most of it has been available for a long time as free downloads from the Sigur Ros website. In other words, there's very little, if any, new stuff here. It's the kind of disc that critics say is "essential for the fans but not a good place to start for those who are merely curious". And it is that, but as I said, it's been available for several years, so the hardcore devotee likely already has it. The only advantage in an official release is that the sound quality might be a tiny bit better.

That said, there are some stellar tracks on this "electric" disc (sidenote...when I surf the performances on "Heima" I seem to always gravitate, with a couple of exceptions, to the electric material). "Hljómalind" is wonderful, a very slight tweaking of the band's signature sound. "I Gaer" is kick ass heavy, a swirling mass of distortion that conceals the chordal structure. You have to dig through all the chaos to find the beauty. Sort of the same way you need to listen to My Bloody Valentine (though they sound nothing alike). All the folks who might complain about the glockenspiels and toy boxes that seemed to permeate "Takk" will find "I Gaer" most satisfying. It would have fit quite nicely on "()". Then there's the legendary "song where the bass player uses a drumstick", "Hafsól". That's another good 'un, but hey, I'd bet it's been one of the most popular downloads on the website...

I only wish there had been something NEW on "Hvorf/Heim".. Just one song on each disc, and we've already established that "Heima" should have been included on "Heim".

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to come off as if I'm complaining. It doesn't bother me that neither of the discs last much longer than 35 minutes. I suspect that the brevity is beneficial to the overall concept. I don't so much mind the regurgitation of older material, seeing as how most of it is so good. Even "Sigur Ros Unplugged" sounds 100 times better to me than the typical "let's strip down our studio enhanced songs so we could play them in a boring coffee shop if we weren't so famous" routine.

But it isn't much of a teaser for the new album they're working on right now. An album, one can only hope, that will find them laying down the acoustic instruments to experiment with sound in the manner of which they have become so adept for so long. Their recording studio is a refurbished swimming pool, so perhaps it's ambiance, as opposed to the lush greenery of the Icelandic countryside, will provide the atmosphere for a more esoteric approach.

5.03.2008

Back on the circuit

It's probably been about 2 years since I played a solo performance at a club. The last time was at a club called VZD's. It was a disaster. The Mad Laugh had asked me to open for them. I thought things were going fairly well, until the end of the night when the the guy in charge of the waitstaff and bartenders let it be known, loud and clear, that he did not like my stuff. Apparently he'd heard some complaints from people who hadn't come there to hear a guy with an acoustic guitar singing his own songs. They wanted to rock, and I can't hold that against them. VZD's IS a rock music club. I probably was out of my element. Still, the guy didn't have to be an asshole about it.

Funny story...Mike Watt, who was playing bass with the Mad Laugh, really nice guy who enjoys my songs, felt so bad about how things turned out that he insisted that I take the $20 that was his cut for the night (I'd played for free). I told him it was okay, I appreciated the thought, but he insisted. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer, so I broke down and took it. A few hours, just before I was going to leave, Mike came to me and said, "Jimbo, man, I'm sorry, but can I have that 20 back?" Ha! I should have kept it, he'd been so persistent about my accepting it. But I felt for the guy. I returned it.

As I was saying, it's been two years since that unforgettably bad experience, and now I've been booked to play a show at an OKC club called the Speakeasy. The gig will be on May 31. If I can get enough of my friends to come out it will be a fun time. If something else is going on and none of them show...it might not be too pretty.

I'm sure I'll blog about it when it's all said and done...

...but that's a long way's away.

Listening Station may promo

Just in case you haven't noticed in the sidebar and at the bottom of this page, I have a blog called "The Listening Station" where I post YouTube videos of songs and artists I've loved over the course of the last 40 years. There's a lot of variety there, seeing as how I've never been content to listen to only one style of music.

This month begins with classic video gems by Husker Du, This Mortal Coil, Joy Division, Radiohead, The Smiths, Fields of the Nephelim, Pierce Turner, They Might Be Giants, Guadalcanal Diary, TOOL and the Monkees.

Check it out.

kc mo sr potential :(

Sigur Ros is playing a show in Kansas City, MO, on June 12...

Tickets are reasonably priced, I could probably get one...

...But neither of our cars are up to the trip.

I only have one friend who likes the band, and I haven't seen him in a couple of years. I sent him a message via MySpace to see if he was planning on attending. I asked if I could tag along. That would probably be cool with him, if he was going to the show. I kind of think he is, if he knows about it. He's seen them 3 or 4 times. The first was on a road trip with me and a couple of other guys. That concert was in Denver. A 10 hour drive from where we started out. This Missouri show is considerably closer...

Please, please, please!

Actually I'm fairly sure that he'll be going, but what I'm afraid of is tickets selling out before I hear from him. It's general admission and they are less than 30 bucks, so I doubt they'll be available for too long.

I am actually kind of shocked that they are playing this show, and the one in Nebraska the night before. They've been hopping all across the planet the last year or so, and it just seems odd that they'd light in the heartland in the middle of the rest. But it's cool, don't you think?

5.02.2008

1983 U2 concert memories

Still doing a lot of bootleg recording from Wolfgang's Vault. Don't tell anyone, okay? :)

This afternoon it's a concert by U2 from 1979. They're promoting their second album, "October". Lots of material from "Boy" as well. 1981 was three or four years before they really captured the attention of the masses, so the confidence they exude in this performance has nothing to do with mega-success. Nevertheless, it is real, and it is palpable.

It reminds me of the time I saw them in 1983. This time it was the "War" album they were doing. I didn't like that one quite as much as the first two, but I still thought it was a great record. The concert was phenomenal and I was lucky enough to be in the front row directly under the stage. I wasn't supposed to be that close to the stage, though...

I had been given my ticket for the show by a benevolent friend who couldn't make it...I think he won it on a radio station contest. It wasn't exactly the greatest seat, even though the venue was arranged in what was called "concert seating" (only half of the center was used, so there were very few seats that were not decent). It was okay, I wasn't complaining. Free, you know?

My brother was also attending the show, and his seats were much better. He had a friend whose uncle owned a stereo shop that handled ticket sales. Consequently his nephew always got front row seats, and he invited my brother along.

So we devised a plan to get me closer to the stage...No doubt there is nothing original about it, but we thought it was brilliant.

We both bought t-shirts. Charles hid his front row ticket stub in the fold of his and we planned a rendevouz by the partition that divided the cheap seats from the good ones. I don't think I'd bought mine by that time, my memory is a little fuzzy...but we acted like he had bought the shirt for me and gave it to me. I was thanking him profusely, just in case a security guard might be nearby (a security guard, I realize now, who would have been dumb enough to fall for a scheme as simple as ours was).

And yet it worked. I waited for about 10 minutes, then I made my way to the "dividing line". I showed "my" ticket stub to the guard and waa-laah! I was on my way to the front. Right there with my brother and his lucky friend (who had been my friend, too, at one time, but at this point he didn't think too highly of me).

The supporting act was The Alarm. Nobody had ever heard of them. During their first song the guards were adament about the crowd remaining seated. But Mike Peters, their frontman, encouraged everyone to get up and dance for the rest of their set. Which we did, and the guards didn't seem to have any power to do anything about it then.

Of course we all remained standing until U2 took the stage and never sat down. During one song Bono pulled a girl out of the audience and did an Irish jig with her...she had been right in front of me, if that gives you any idea of how close I was. If that doesn't, consider that Bono leaned down at one point, extended his hand, and I grabbed hold of it! You can bet I've told that story a million times.

Another thing I remember about it is that I had this crucifix and I waved it above my head, like it was a disposable lighter at a metal concert. I have no idea why I did that. To this day I wonder what in the world Bono must have thought of it!

My brother's friend was wearing a tacky camouflage hat, kind of like a safari hat or something. Bono took it from him, laid it on the floor and danced around it. Then he gave it back. The guy had not really heard much of U2. He was there more for the sake of having a sweet front row ticket and because my brother liked them. But I guarantee you, by the time Bono gave him his hat back, he was a U2 fan for life.

5.01.2008

Yesterday I went to Med Clinic and found out that I'd actually lost some weight. I don't remember exactly how much, but it was fairly significant. It was unexpected news...when I look in the mirror all I see is "gut". I thought I would have GAINED weight during the last three months since I was there. It sure ain't coming off of my waist, I can assure you of that.

I'm still reading Koontz's "Intensity". My opinion of it hasn't changed much since I last mentioned it here. The story has picked up somewhat. But I still think his writing is dismal. I believe Stephen King called him a "hack". I'm tempted to agree. "Light reading" indeed, but I guess that's not such a bad thing every now and again.

I read some while waiting to see the doctor at the Med Clinic. It's usually an hour and a half wait to see the doc for 5 minutes. When I first started going there I would get very irritated and annoyed that the wait was so long (I've seen people get almost violently angry because of the lengthy wait). But anymore I just take a book, relax and think of it as a good time to take care of a nice big chunk of whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. The other people there, thought they are loud and often annoying, don't really bother me too much anymore. I've learned to tune them out. There's only one guy who distracts me...he has some quite bizarre conversations with himself. I can't help but stop in mid-paragraph to try and hear what he's talking about.

So, when I finally do get in to see the doctor I don't mind that I will only spend 5 minutes with him. After all, he's not my personal psychiatrist. He knows it, I know it, not a big deal. Basically he's just there to write a prescription for the same medicine I've been taking for the last year and a half (which, thank God, seems to be working).

But he's a pretty cool guy. Our entire visits generally consist of him asking me what I'm reading, me telling him, then him commenting on it. Most of the time I agree with him, although I was somewhat offended when he said that Charles Dickens' novels put him to sleep.

Yesterday, when I showed the copy of "Intensity" I was reading, he mentioned that he thought Koontz was okay, that he had a "dark side". He contrasted that with his view that Stephen King wrote with a similar "darkness" but was more the kind of author who "kept you hanging on the edge of your seat". Koontz was a much more subdued writer, in his opinion, but, he reiterated, definitely wrote about "the dark side".

And so he does, I suppose.

When I finish this one I think I'll move on with Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I'll be on Book 5, so I'm familiar with it's locales, it's characters, it's themes, et. al. I plan on reading the entire series (which is 11 books long at the moment), but I always read a few books in between installments, so I don't get burned out on them.

New Sigur Ros Jukebox

Okay, I broke down and changed from Project Playlist to Dizzler. The damned thing was just too cool. And the video and radio features are nice. The shuffle feature, alas, is not working, but I have sent an e-mail to their support team, and if enough of us do that maybe they'll do something about it.

In the meantime, enjoy the new Sigur Ros Jukebox.

Dizzler

I received an anonymous comment yesterday from someone who warned me that Project Playlist may soon be a thing of the past, due to some copyright infringement issues they were dealing with. I was saddened to hear this, as I've always liked my little black Sigur Ros jukebox here and on my MySpace profile.

The commenter also suggested that I avail myself of one of many legal music players currently offered in the outer reaches of cyberspace. I responded that I would definately look into it.

I thought I'd found just the right alternative. It was from a site called Dizzler. Their player had all the features of the PP player, along with access to videos, online radio, games...a lot of cool stuff. You can even design the look of the skin you choose. I made an awesome one featuring Jonsi dragging his bow across the strings of his guitar. I couldn't wait to get it on this blog...

But there was one significant problem. I could not get the thing to shuffle. It's SUPPOSED to...there is that option right there on the player, but it apparently doesn't work. Also, when I opened up my test blog, not being signed in to Blogger, the player still allowed adjustment to playlist (adding and deleting of songs).

I suppose I'll dig back into it soon enough and try to work out the kinks...but I'm tired of screwing with it today.