Let's dance

Mon, Jan. 11th, 2016 18:41
gominokouhai: (Default)

Is it just me, or has the quality of radio programming taken a distinct upturn today?

I never got around to Bowie. I've heard his stuff in the background. I can recognize his voice. I've drunkenly sung along to Life on Mars in the pub, despite not, at the time, knowing the lyrics. And I know Under Pressure obviously.

Related: way back when, I only got into Queen at Freddie's tribute concert—although I have vague childhood memories of Live Aid. Apparently, sometimes people have to die before I take notice of them. That's not right.

When I first met her, Jehane could only ever get to sleep by playing a single Bowie song on constant repeat. We'd wake up the following morning and it would still be going. I wish I could remember which one it was.

I've liked him in a general way, but I never really spent any time on him. It's time to change that. Recommend me some albums.

On catharsis

Sun, Dec. 6th, 2015 00:32
gominokouhai: (Default)

Last night's post was a touch on the melodramatic side, I'll grant you, but it matched how I was feeling. Gettin it all out onto paper, or pixel-stained post-millennial equivalent, helped a lot.

Wanna know how I know I'm over it? Good, because I'm about to tell you.

Cee Lo Green's seminal ‘Fuck You’ came on the radio while I was settin up the breakfast room for tomorrow. (Minster FM are actually pretty good. They were playin TMBG earlier on.) It was the bowdlerized radio version, natch, but I fixed that while dancin around the tables, arrangin cruet sets, and generally thinking that my life is pretty okay.

Such a deep and meaningful song, too.

And this time I didn't even need the Shatner to help.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Those of you who grew up in the 90s will know already that perky elfin teen-pop princess and sometime Ozzie soap star, Natalie Imbruglia, in a dark and terrifying departure from her usual glittery milieu, once witnessed the terrifying Frankensteinian reanimation of a previously deceased human being. It's well-known that her popular song Torn is a postmodernist retelling of T'Pau's China in your Hand from the perspective of an affected observer descending into schizophrenia.

You all know what I'm talking about, but because I'm nice I shall provide the vid for context. Behold.

In which there are several embedded media )

Splains why I always liked the theme to Ski Sunday so much, but: how the FUCK did I not already know that about Ski Sunday? My musical recognition skills were hitherto frankly superhuman, but lately I've noticed that they've begun to diminish with age, or possibly with lack of practice. I'm now all out of faith in my own abilities. This is how I feel: I'm cold and I'm ashamed, but thankfully still fully dressed.

gominokouhai: (Default)

I've been investigatin electropop lately, most of the current batch of which appears to be Canadian for some reason. I have no problem with this. At least it's not Canadian hip-hop. Movin on from the Canadian theme before I get myself into trouble, at this stage I feel I should mention CHVRCHES, who claim that their band name is pronounced churches, but I know better. They are from Glasgow and they are awesome. Particularly the lead singer, Lauren Mayberry, who is cute and elfin and adorable and basically so much the complete opposite of Shirley Manson that she goes round the back of the spectrum and becomes exactly as amazing. Chvrches spell their name with a V so that you can google for them, which you should do immediately if you've not already done so.

I have this 160GB mp3 player to fill up, and it's an actual mp3 player this time, so I can't cheat by includin the complete Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who and all the seasons of Sherlock I haven't watched yet. It's got to be actual music, and even for me there's only so many versions of the Glorious Ninth I need to carry around with me in my pocket. (A post on which is forthcomin; suffice to say I renounce all former allegiances to Karajan.) Somebody on the Twitters recommended the New Order album Power, Corruption & Lies, which I've not actually listened to. When it was released in 1983, my listenin habits were more or less evenly split between Prokoviev and Pinky & Perky. (I was precocious, but I was also three years old.) That I have not got round to it since then is an omission I knew I must rectify forthwith—but, in my defence, do any of you realize how many different versions there are of the Glorious Ninth?

Listenin then, at last, to Power, Corruption & Lies, three or four tracks reminded me of That Goddamn American Express Advert that I remember seeing once. And then, finally, it arrived in my ears as some part of me knew it would: Blue Monday, the biggest-selling 12" single of all time.

Of course I knew it already. And, because I was cursèd to grow up in the nineties, I knew it already chiefly because of this:

Even back then I was aware that this was possibly the worst advert of all time. I envisioned a cadre of corpulent besuited bastards, cocaine-crazy and caffeinated, masturbatorily manifesting moronic muppetry, thuswise: it's time for an EMERGENCY MARKETING MEETING!

INT. DAY. The MID-NINETIES. Opulent CORPORATE BOARDROOM

(PROPS DEPARTMENT: please make sure there is a RED STAPLER somewhere in shot)

TWAT #ONE is agitatedly pointin a STICK at a FLIPCHART that has some damn GRAPH on it.

TWAT #ONE
Okay, we're the wealthiest and most expensive credit card company on the planet, we own all the money in the world, and each of us has a secondary personal Learjet just so we can ship around the team of flunkies required to wax our primary Learjets, but but we need more. More... flirting?... sorry, that's a whole different advert that hasn't been made yet, with subtler humour than this scene. Anyway. I understand there's an entire new generation of suckers who have money. So: who knows anything about this "youth demographic"?

TWAT #TWO
Well, from what I've read in the newspapers, the Youth Demographic really do like their "music with a repetitive beat".

TWAT #ONE
Excellent. Let's have some of that. Anyone else?

TWAT #THREE
They like... skydiving?

TWAT #ONE
Brilliant. Throw that in there. What else?

TWAT #FOUR
I heard that they really like skin-tight black PVC trenchcoats.

TWAT #ONE
Who doesn't? You're fired. Next!

[VO] prolonged nasal SNORTING noise

TWAT #FIVE looks up from the table, takes a moment to orient himself

TWAT #FIVE
They like... geishas pulling stupid faces?

TWAT #ONE
Give that man some stock options.

~ FIN ~

I have always said that I hated the bloody Nineties: the decade of Westlife and the Vengaboys and Columbine and backwards jeans and Global Hypercolor and pastels and plaid and the Bosnian genocide and the Doctor Who Movie. But! (Even before you start: that was a preemptive but.) To be fair to the nineties, we also had Dark Season (so much pastel! and Jacqueline Pearce!) and Knightmare and Animaniacs and Way Out West and Portishead and we had both Ren and Stimpy simultaneously.

I've made my peace with the nineties.

After all, if we're considrin solely the restricted subset of credit card advertizin, then it could be so very, very much worse.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Yes folks, I'm still here, and sometimes I even have time to post something other than a linkdump. I hope the linkdumps are working for people in the meantime. Feedback appreciated. (STFU will be considered valid feedback.)

The manager's flat is in the second subbasement, which is still at garden level at the back of the hotel, but it's down two floors from the front door. There's a floor with guest bedrooms directly above me. I have to climb two floors and check with the hotel's booking-management system before I can play music properly.

Apropos, this evening was the first time I've been able to test my newfound appreciation for (some of) the dubsteps using the +5 Personal Media Player Of Thirty-Nine Graphic Equalizer Presets and the Speakers of DOOM. Initial analysis suggests: if anything, it's even better through big speakers with the bass turned up. FLAC helps, too. If one is to do a thing, even the dubsteps, it is after all better to do it properly.

Immediately after Skrillex in alphabetical order on the +5PMPo39GEP comes Sleeper, which is something of an abrupt thematic shift, especially when one has the bass turned up appropriately. Could be worse. Next if I recall aright comes Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, obviously.

ETA: Turns out that what I've been listening to isn't the dubsteps at all, but a brutal 110bpm moombahcore/undercore hybrid monster. I stand corrected.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Further to my recommendation of MC Xander the human beatboxer yesterday, I should add the following caveat. Undoubtedly talented as he is, he is not necessarily to be recommended for playback over an incredibly high-quality personal media player with in-ear headphones.

I can hear the spitting. Right in the centre of my brain.

No amount of PLUR makes up for that, yo.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Today it's a magical musical-themed linkdump, just for you. Don't say I never spoil you.

gominokouhai: (Default)

I just

  1. listened to the proper version of a song, to clear my head of the shitty remix version they keep playing on Viva Top 40, and
  2. abused the guy who made the shitty remix version on the Twitters
all using technology that I carry about my person without ruining the line of my suit.

Goddamn, I love this century.

Srsly tho, as I believe the kids say these days. Compare and contrast. All he's done is move the pitch-bend slider slightly and set his Fischer-Price® ‘My First Drum Machine’™ onto auto-demo, and in the process has turned an awesome song into a deeply, deeply awful one. It's so rough you can hear the square waves. This is apparently Calvin Harris' full-time job.

(And yes, I'm aware that there isn't really a machine. It's more of a concept.)

gominokouhai: (Default)

When I got to work at seven o' clock this morning, there was a car alarm outside that had already been going off for at least an hour. One of those annoying ones that, in order to comply with legislation, doesn't sound for any longer than twenty seconds. Then it waits 2.5 seconds and then immediately goes off again. And again, and again. I remind you that this scenario is taking place at 7am. And the alarm is on a shitty 1980s Citroen that no one would ever want to steal.

By 8am everyone at work was going a little bit mental. And by "everyone", naturally, I mostly mean me. So I printed out this:

laminated it, and stuck it to the offending windscreen. The noise stopped sixty seconds later. I probably shouldn't claim credit for the shaming into submission of an inanimate object solely with the use of satirical webcomics and the Laminator of Justice, but I'm going to do so anyway.

Tonight, a little bit of Ludwig Van, O my droogs. Specifically, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra perform the Choral Symphony at the Usher Hall with [personal profile] scotm and [personal profile] stormsearch. [personal profile] scotm didn't realize that the Choral Symphony was the same one as the Glorious Ninth until the interval. The look on his face reminded all present what the Ode to Joy is about. I should have charged him extra for the tickets.

Speaking of. This was the second time this week that I've spent money to be the youngest person in the room. The pleasant white-haired old gentleman in the seat next to me made indignant snorting noises when he heard me saying before the concert began, perhaps just a touch louder than conversationally, that the libretto to Ode to Joy was a load of old wank. The house lights dimmed before I was able to explain myself: if you don't speak German, then the Glorious Ninth appropriately remains music.

If you understand German, the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth is an excruciating exercise in George Lucas-level dialogue. Joy, sing the choir, joy is a good thing, we'd like more joy please, and less not-joy would be nice too, joy joy joy, joy is cool. Also: joy. Then there's something about shiny happy people holding hands and the whole thing degenerates into hippydom. I'm working from memory here.

Beethoven wasn't a poet. I'm fairly safe in making this assertion—he has many other sterling qualities—and, besides, and it's been said before. (“That ‘Ode to Joy’, talk about vulgarity! And the text! Completely puerile!”, said Leonhardt.) Schiller, who was a poet, and who wrote the original text that Beethoven adapted, frankly should have known better. It goes: joy (which is a good thing that we'd like more of) is like a joyful river of joyous joy, but it says it in German, and therefore it still sounds kinda cool.

We, who are privileged not to understand German, can listen to the Ode to Joy without engaging the semantic cortices, and thus we can listen to the human voice in a symphonic setting simply as another instrument. The voice is a flute as designed by David Cronenberg. It sounds fantastic when you put it in an orchestra. It sounds even better when you use a hundred of them. Just please don't think too hard about what the words actually mean.

What intrigued me about this particular performance of the Glorious Ninth was the second movement, which was among the best I've ever heard. The first movement of the Ninth is grand and regal and wonderful, and then there are the second and third movements, which... exist, and then the audience wake up again for the fourth movement and that glorious Ode. This orchestra took the second movement (molto vivace!) and made it their own. It was peppy; it zipped along. It was energetic and vigorous and it had zing. The tempo was such that I wondered if the conductor had some urgent appointment at the bar, and then the third movement was an appropriately reassuring, lugubrious, respite from all this orchestral fanfara that I forgot any such concerns. Usually I, like most of the audience, would be quite happy to sleep through the third movement, because it doesn't count. This third movement was a good one. It was, in a way I've never appreciated before, a welcome respite between the breathless gallopping rhythm of the scherzo and the relentless onslaught of that glorious fourth movement, which amazes all the senses through purely orchestral means and then, as if it was an encore, breaks out the choral section in order to make the perfect more perfect. O that fourth movement. It gets no better.

The solo vocalists weren't quite top-rank and the percussion was a bit louder than it should be, and we were in terrible seats way up in the gods, but that's why we have live performances. The Glorious Ninth will never sound exactly like that again, and it was personal and intimate, and it was marvellous.

We applauded until our hands stang. On the way out, the pleasant white-haired old gentleman who'd been in the seat next me collared me and said: the words may be awful, but didn't they do them well? Not appropriately placed for a discussion about semantic cortices, I could only agree. And then, perhaps overheard on the way home, as we walk down the main road past the well-known Sauna:

Oh. So that's where all the cute strippers have gone.
I went to school with her.

A good day and an interesting one. I hope it remains so after I write it down.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Oh folks, hello folks. RSNO plays Prokoviev's Romeo and Juliet at the Usher Hall next Friday, the 17th. Tickets a tenner. Who's coming?

(In Soviet Russia, Juliet and RomeYOU!)

gominokouhai: (Default)

Oh folks, hello folks. I'd like to go to these. Who wants to come with me?

  • Florence + the Machine, Glasgow SECC, Monday 12th March. £29.50 a head. There's not really a machine. It's more of a concept. Nonetheless I like Florence a great deal and I suspect she's bloody awesome live.
  • All-new Jeff Wayne's musical version of The War Of The Worlds, Glasgow SECC, Tuesday 11th December. It's a brand new one starring Liam frickin' Neeson in Richard Burton's role. There's a 36-piece string orchestra and a 35-foot fighting machine that attacks the audience. (This one isn't just a concept.) And did I mention Liam Neeson? I have a huge man-crush on Neeson's voice. Tickets £42.50 or £62.50; not sure what you get for the extra twenty quid.

For either one it should theoretically be possible to get the late train back to Edinburgh.

Who's coming?

gominokouhai: (Default)

As most of you know, I like my music loud, bombastic, and pretentious (and before you say anything: Ode to Joy, mofos). Consequently, Florence + the Machine's new album Ceremonials has been making me very, very happy over the past month.

There's a guy on Demonoid who posts torrents of what are essentially his own indie mixtapes. As a result I have been discovering about eight excellent new bands I've never heard of, and a whole bunch (Blonde Redhead, Arcade Fire, Twilight Singers) who I had heard of but had never listened to before. Excellent stuff. And now I have a 160GB mp3 player to fill, so I have been buying many albums.

Remember when home taping was killing music?

(Look for A Bloodbath Spring and A Bloodbath Summer on Demonoid and prepare to have your footwear rocked off.)

gominokouhai: (Default)

Copying ALL my music onto the new mp3 player. They call them personal media players now, it would seem. Quite disturbing to watch 38GB worth of filenames flash past, and to realise that I only recongnize about half of them. What is all of this music that I've been carrying on my hip for the last seven years?

My trusty old iRiver IHP140, bought in 2003 or so, has started getting bad sectors on the hard disk. The only thing for it was to buy a new device with four times the disk space and ten times the battery life, along with the capacity to play videos and a stopwatch feature for no particularly good reason. The new thing is the Cowon X7, a Korean-made Windows-only behemoth with a VFAT hard drive that throws a hissy fit if you try and copy 38GB of assorted media files to it from Linux. I am putting up with this. The sound quality is absolutely stunning.

I have a pretty reasonable sound setup at Apocalypse Laboratories, courtesy of [personal profile] scotm's old Speakers of DOOM and an amplifier the size of Russell Brand's ego. Nonetheless I am only now, as of seven o' clock this evenig, discovering new subtlety and nuance in my old audio tracks. And this includes a lot of the late-1990s trance I own (hey, some of that stuff is actually quite technically adept). I just played Jean-Philippe Collard's rendition of Rachmaninov's Prelude in C♯ minor and I had to sit down.

I haven't even tried playing my Beethoven FLACs through it yet. O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!

The thing has thirty-nine preset graphic equalizer options. You may not hear from me for a couple of weeks.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Best music video ever, or BEST THING EVER? Steel your mind, prepare your soul, and gird your underpants for: A Complete History of the Soviet Union, Through the Eyes of a Humble Worker (Arranged to the Melody of Tetris).

The theme from Tetris, as we all know, is a pre-Revolutionary Russian folk song more properly referred to as Korobeiniki; or, more frequently, Korobeinikisay wha?you know, the Tetris themeoh. No doubt you'll recall the one-hit wonder Eurodance sensation Dr. Spin, who charted at number #6 in 1992 with a hip, fresh techno remix of Korobeiniki full of phat beats and suchlike. They called it Tetris. Just in case you don't recall, it's provided below.

I know you're going to dig this:

...I know I sometimes ask a great deal of my readers, but I'm really not expecting you to have watched that all the way through. If you did, have a gold star and please don't take it personally when I back away slowly.

Apparently, as I've just learned, Dr. Spin was a pseudonym for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yes, that Andrew Lloyd Webber. Wikipedia wouldn't lie to me... right?

I thought that Andrew Lloyd Webber (Baron Lloyd-Webber since 1997; so, as we should properly refer to him, The Rt. Hon. the Lord Spin) had perpetrated quite enough evil upon the world already. Having said that, I really should expect no less from the man who married the woman who did I Lost My Heart To a Starship Trooper.

gominokouhai: (Khaaan!)

Life is currently an unending, relentless nightmare, but I have 701 Greatest Hits of the 1980s on .flac and you, dear reader, and the rest of the benighted universe that spawned you can kindly fuck off and leave me to it for an evening.

I'm currently up to B. And this one has Bonnie Tyler.

(I'm amused that I go into a directory marked 701 greatest 1980's music hit Singles and think, ooh, what should I listen to next, so I hit double-tab to bring up autocomplete and the computer asks me if I want it to Display all 699 possibilities? I'm glad that penelope has my back. BitTorrent, you have failed me for the last time.)

(It has Bonnie, but there's no sign of Video Killed the Radio Star. And they have the wrong Spandau Ballet track, but so does everyone, and one can't have everything.)

Also: The Doctor's Wife. OHMYGOD YES.

I'll live.

gominokouhai: (Default)

A post about the new Doctor Who is coming, I promise. In the meantime I'd like to talk about some old Doctor Who. And the Beach Boys. And the Archbishop of Canterbury. But mostly I'll be focusing on Doctor Who. All will become clear. I hope.

Some time ago a good friend left me a copy of some music by a band known as The Pixies, a Boston-based alt-rock ensemble, to which I've only just now got around to listening. They sound like this. They produced this in the distant past year 1990:

Listen ye and be amazed. (It's quite good.) Specif, listen and note ye how similar it is to this, of which it is a direct cover version:
In which there are further embedded media )

Bear with me and try, if you can, to ignore the brass line from All the Strange, Strange Creatures. The bassline is identical. I only noticed when Murray provided a version without the brass line in it during the first episode of Season 5. It's right after Eleven tells Patrick Moore to pay attention, when Rory and Amy are driving the Mini to the Hospital (00:40:15). I once wrote fanmail to Murray Gold and asked him if this was an unconscious ripoff or a deliberate homage. I'm beginning to realise why he never replied.

I understand that there are eight notes and that, as a result, there are a finite number of permutations to which one can subject those eight notes. But I must be forgiven if I am occasionally suspicious.

While we're on the subject of cultural homages—because I'm sure that's what these are—let's just observe that Paradise Towers was a total ripoff of J. G. Ballard's High-Rise. I'm not judging. I'm just saying.

Apparently this weekend was the anniversary of some fictional (and highly unlikely) thing that didn't happen to a bloke who probably never existed, involving a story during which he was crucified and then entombed in a chocolate egg from which he escaped on the third day, or something. Apparently on these occasions the Archbishop of Canterbury is obliged to give a speech of some kind. Apparently, according to what I can tell from BBC news (about 01:07 in), the Archbish makes reference to popular culture.

It's probably unseemly to involuntarily shout woo! from the congregation while the Archbish is giving his address. So it's probably a good thing that I was only watching the BBC stream. Nonetheless it's good to know that the cultural information flow goes both ways.

Frankly, we've always known that Rowan Williams was a leftie Who-fancying nerd. His problem is that, as chief spokesperson for a monolithic, regressive, medieval, omnipervasive, misogynistic, homophobic, repressive, anachronistic, capricious, conservative, disingenuous, perfidious organization, he's never been allowed to say so.

Since at least the 1970s, the Doctor has been swanning out of police boxen and teaching people that they were actually lefties all along. It's good to know that he's managed it with the Archbish. of Cantab. as well. As always: the Doctor shows the way.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Frisky and Mannish were amazing, as ever. It being the finale for the School of Pop, it was a little melancholy, too. Still, The College Years is still on, and if anything it's better. Edinburgh people: go.

(Here's the trailer in case you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Then: stargazing! It was cloudy. We saw a single Perseid. One lousy meteor. It was a bloody good one though; a big chunky one with a trail of smoke following it, looking like the shooting stars you get in cartoons. Lovely.

Thus, since astronomy was a bit of a washout, I leave you with a snippet of medieval history:

Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror (known as William the Bastard before 1066), instigated his first insurrection against his father in 1077, aged about 24, when his younger brothers emptied a chamberpot over his head. Apparently they'd grown bored of playing at dice and decided that this would be a good way to liven up a dull afternoon. Yeah, and you laugh at what Harry gets up to in the tabloids these days.

Angry that William failed to punish his brothers sufficiently, Robert rode forth the next day and attempted to capture the castle at Rouen. Like you do. It didn't go well. Basically it's not a good idea to pick a fight with a man called the Conqueror, especially not if that man is also called the Bastard, and especially not if that man is also your dad. (Rumours that one of Duke William's other names was Lord Will-spank-the-shit-out-of-you-when-I-get-you-home remain unconfirmed.)

Anyway, bottom line, Robert didn't get to be King after William died. We got William II instead. On such matters as that tenth-century pisspot do the fates of empires turn.

(Lord Will-spank-the-shit-out-of-you-when-I-get-you-home would make an excellent character on Knightmare.)

gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)

It's another late-night IM conversation, click at your peril )

I would have got it eventually, by the way. And it has been six years since I've seen it.

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