Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eyeless in Gaza - Drumming the Beating Heart / Pale Hands I Loved So Well (1982)

The 1996 CD release of these two early Eyeless in Gaza albums is composed of fey and ethereal ambient synth nocturnes accentuated by Martyn Bates' eerily intense vocals. It's music you might stumble across in an opium den on a far distant planet. It also has some heavy spiritual vibes going on, "Sheer Cliffs" could be the soundtrack to a ritual of some sort and "Transcience Blues" is like a musical séance. "Blue Distance" is just bubbling with grave ascendancy like a flickering candle in an otherwise dark room. Although a lot of the album is ambient, a few songs here and there are heavier making for a good balance. Drumming the Beating Heart / Pale Hands I Loved so Well is Eyeless in Gaza at their most atmospheric and haunting and contains some of their best work. Although very minimal (and obviously home made by someone who was really stoned at the time), I'm particularly fond of the video below. Despite its minimalism, I find it utterly engaging, especially at later hours of the night. I hope you'll like it too.

Rating: 8.5/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?cxw196i77anlyax

Howard Devoto - Jerky Versions of the Dream (1983)

Howard Devoto's biography would make for an interesting bildungsroman As a wee lad, he moved around a lot. He attended grammar school in Leeds and later went to university studying psychology, and later on humanities, where he met future fellow Buzzcock Pete Shelley. At the age of 23, he and Shelley founded the kinetic pop punk band in 1975, but Devoto left after only one album and went on to form Magazine, his very influential new wave/post-punk group in 1977. After several albums Magazine split up in 1981 and Devoto spent the next two years working on the over-looked and underrated gem that I'm posting here today, Jerky Versions of the Dream. Throughout his career, Devoto has always been pushing for new ground and has always been ahead of his time experimenting with various genres and styles to create his own sound. Although somewhat of an oddity, Devoto's solo work would best be described as new wave with a vivacious punk spirit. Baring many similarities to The The and especially Captain Sensible (who both came from similar backgrounds and both made strangely similar music with their solo projects), this album sits along side the best of the era. The hilarious video for "Out of Shape with Me" captures how I used to feel during a continuous week-long (or some cases month-long") bender. It also showcases Devoto's sense of humor, which is pretty prevalent throughout the record.

Rating: 8.5/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?9k5dz28ojku5lvv

Monday, August 30, 2010

Iggy Pop/Ryuichi Sakamoto - Risky

How to Dress Well - Love Remains - (2010)

Despite having the most horrendous, god-awful band name in the history of nomenclature (and there have been some really stupid ones), I haven't had new music resonate with me like HTDW does in a long, long time. At its softer moments it sounds like Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works or Eno And Budd's Ambient 2 meets Aaliyah. At its poppier and more upbeat moments it sounds like Ariel Pink meets Justin Timberlake. On some songs his vocal pitch often extends past the threshold of his recording process and "bottoms out," adding another fuzzy layer of sound to the already hummiing production. Ultimately Love Remains succeeds on its element of beautiful subdued melodies. It makes for a highly hypnotic and narcotic effect; its like music your sub-conscious would compose in a half-lucid dream state. The album flows impeccably well, waxing and waning with heavily changing tempos throughout, and all the tracks are so short and sweet, they almost float right by you. One of the highlight songs, the magical "You Won't Need me Where I'm Goin'," has been on constant repeat this week and might just be my track of the year thus far. It's a very subtle "fuck you" sort of ballad and continues the theme of independence and self-affirmation Krell seems to be aiming for.

Since this technically hasn't even been released yet, I'll be respectful and not put up a link, but if you dig around google there's a few floating around out there.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Surrealist Saturday

Fellini Satyricon (1969)
Fellini’s stunning vision of the debauchery, gluttony, scandals and chaos of ancient Rome. I usually like to do my own write-ups, as trite as they sometimes are, but Italian film critic Giovanni Grazzini describes the film far better and far, far more poetically than I ever could: “Fellini's Rome bears absolutely no relationship to the Rome we learned about in school books. It is a place outside historical time, an area of the unconscious in which the episodes related by Petronius are relived among the ghosts of Fellini... His Satyricon is a journey through a fairytale for adults. It is evident that Fellini, finding in these ancient personages the projection of his own human and artistic doubts, is led to wonder if the universal and eternal condition of man is actually summed up in the frenzied realization of the transience of life which passes like a shadow. These ancient Romans who spend their days in revelry, ravaged by debauchery, are really an unhappy race searching desperately to exorcise their fear of death”

The Color of Pomegranates (1968)
I just watched this about a week ago, and adored every frame of its colorful visual ecstacy. The imagery is almost lyrical and renders dialogue obsolete, although there are bits here and there. Sofiko Chiaureli played a number of characters in the film, but the main two, the poet, and the poet's love, were the most impressionable. As an aside, I’d like to say how much it perplexes me how Armenian culture and customs took the nosedive they did from this sort of beautiful art and pure ethos to the god-awful glorification of cars and bling I observed working in little Armenia in LA the past year. The Amernian history and culture portrayed in all of Parajanov's films is rich and interesting and I wish their people had continued down a more converative and less capitalistic direction, but its a matter of natural cultural evolution, I guess. It could also be a stateside thing. I also wish I could find a better clip than this, but embedding was disabled on all the good ones. Oh well, I recommend finding a full high-definition version to watch anywhow because this is a very rewarding film and a mere clip does not do it justice.

On the Silver Globe (1989)
Cultural mutations and incestuous tribalism/shamanism take place after three space travelers crash on the dark side of the moon and begin to lose their minds. There is pyromania, voyeurism, bird monsters, absurdist soliloquies, even drug use. To say this is a "weird one" would be an understatement. It it by far the most estranged, surreal sci-fi film ever made, and one of the most visually astonishing films I've ever come across. The tone is intensely and almost overwhelmingly grave. The costumes and sets are incredibly elaborate and beautiful in this eerie foreign style that words cannot describe, that you just have to see. The dialogue and acting as well, are both just pure insanity and I mean that in the best of ways. This film was originally intended for release in the late seventies, but saw a lengthy delay due to political pressures at the time, causing production to be halted for over a decade until the end of communist rule in Poland. Some would consider this film to be broken or incomplete because of its hiatus, but I feel it turned out just fine. If you expect to watch a cohesive film, you’ve missed the point entirely. Compelling, yes. Cohesive, not quite. Still a mind-blowing film that's highly, highly recommended especially for those of you who appreciate strangeness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Orchids (almost) complete discography

The collection I present to you today is a zealous, dandy group of albums and singles, guaranteed to elicit a smile. From the start in ‘86, The Orchids have always been a staple band in the Sarah Records canon. I’ve Got a Habit was the second ever Sarah released single and Lyceum was the first full length album the label put out, so the two have always been pretty familial. The singles and Lyceum are before they started experimenting with electronics and are stellar, but feel a little underdeveloped after listening to their post-Unholy Soul work. When I heard a week ago that The Orchids had a third album in a similar approach to Unholy Soul (Striving For Lazy Perfection), I became in a tizzy (or dither, if you prefer), and hunted it down immediately. After imbibing it fully and finding it to be just as amazing as Unholy Soul, I was bowled over by its wondrous immediate appeal. I don’t know why it took me so long to discover this, but I’m glad I finally did and I have listened to it all the way through probably 7 or 8 times in the past week. I’m here to tell you it’s that good. Their fourth album, Good to be a Stranger, released over a decade later (after the band broke up and reformed with a slight line-up change) isn’t quite as good and lacks some of the youthful energy of their previous efforts, but it’s still not shabby and is home to a hit or two. The Orchids are, much like their namesake implies, pop music at its most graceful and luring - and much like fellow Sarah veterans Blueboy - excellent music for the upcoming brisk weather.

Note: This discography is almost complete and is missing only one single, An Ill Wind that Blows, which I can't seem to track down. This upload includes the following:

Sarah 02 - I've Got a Habit (1988)
Sarah 11 - Underneath the Window, Underneath the Sink (1988)
Sarah 23 - What will we do Next? (1989)
Sarah 29 - Something for the Longing (1990)
Sarah 42 - Penetration EP (1991)
Sarah 66 - Thaumaturgy (1992)
Lyceum LP (1989)
Unholy Soul LP (1991)
Striving for Lazy Perfection LP (1994)
Good to be a Stranger LP(2007)

Kind of a large file, but totally worth it.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Satoshi Kon In Memoriam

Yesterday was a terribly sad day for the world, as Satoshi Kon, one of the greatest and most visionary modern animated film directors passed away at the relatively young age of 46 due to pancreatic cancer. Kon's work often dealt with themes of psychology (especially identity), the duality of reality/illusion, and the metaphysical portrayed in a fantastical sometimes surreal narrative and visual style. R.I.P., Satoshi. This is a real tragedy and a shame the world was robbed of the future films you would have (and should have) gone on to make.

Comateens - One by One (best of) - (1991)

I made a brief reference to these guys in the Blueboy post earlier today, so I figured why not dedicate a full post to them? To be honest, this compilation, although highly sought after in physical form, is a wee bit spotty, but its mainly due to the band's stylistic changes throughout the years. They formed in the late 70’s and continued making music until ‘85. Some of their directions they took I dug on, others not so much. Mostly they shift between light post-punk, dancy synth-wave and power pop. There are a few hits in here, and some more experimental, off key pops songs. The former of which, such as "Cold Eyes,” “Uptown” and “Winter” among others I think people will enjoy the most. All in all you might say that this is a wintry breed of pop, as it just has a chilly feel to it, despite its upbeat drum machine tempos. Not the best album ever, by any means, but a good compendium of work from a solid, influential band.

Rating: 7/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?5bcgav5927bbt6t

Blueboy - Selected Discography

I walked outside today to take out the trash and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by not only non-scorching temperatures, but a relatively cool and mild gust of morning breeze. Although it's probably just Texas' bipolar climate, it felt like the first meditative day of fall (which for many years was my favorite season), and I've always thought of Blueboy and Sarah Records material as autumn music. The juxtaposition of cool, mild weather and music like this (easy, emotive instrumentation with soft, floating vocals) has always really resonated with me so definitely expect some Sarah Records posts this week. Comateens also had a really nice song about the seasonal transition of this time of year and the reflective emotions it tends to evoke.

About Blueboy. Blueboy was the musical vehicle of Keith Girdler and Paul Stewart. Musically they were an indie-pop/twee band, and lyrically you often got the impression you were listening to a sung version of a reading of Keith Girdler's diary, however it's very poetical. Needless to say, Blueboy were a very sensitive band, perhaps even, the most sensitive sounding band I can call to mind (excluding crappy modern angsty emo bands, of course). However, as sappy and potentially off-putting as that may seem, there's an intelligence and emotional range that, when combined with Stewart's concise and autumnal musicianship and Gemma Townlet's backing vocals and gorgeous cello playing, allows for an intimate relationship with the listener. Tragically, Girdler died of cancer in 2004, which makes his music all the more delicate. This collection includes a few early singles on Sarah Records and 2 of their best LPs, If Wishes Were Horses and Unisex, the latter being the highlight here - a truly fantastic album.

Rating: 9/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?avo77z5jf048q45

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nick Nicely - Psychotropia (2004)

This is the last psychedelic album I'll be posting before taking a little break and then resuming my usual pop shtick. I gotta say, this is a truly unusual and phantasmagorical album, even though at this point I feel almost a little catatonic using the word "unusual." However, it really is and I can't think of a better word to describe it. Psychotropia's abstract melodies sound at once both classic and futuristic, its unlike anything you've ever heard.

The songs on this compilation were written and recorded throughout the 80's and 90's, but most were never released until Psychotropia. One of the more characterizing properties of Nicely's music making process is the shear amount of time and meticulous effort he puts into recording many of his songs. "Hilly Fields (1892)" took almost a year before a finalized version was completed. He has stated in interviews that other songs were polished for months and months before completion as well. There are layers upon layers of subtle sounds (the vocal effects especially) on each track and it's best absorbed with headphones; you can really hear how astoundingly fleshed out Nicely's work is with a good pair of Sennheisers.

Since this album is blatantly about psychedelic drugs, I'll share a personal anecdote in relation. One night at Strawberry Fields, I unknowingly ingested 8 grams (give or take) of some very potent mushroom tea and afterward played this album while driving to 7-11 with my friend Kelly as they started to kick in rather forcefully. As I waited for her in the car I remember listening to "On the Beach (The Ladder Descends)" and melting into my car seat for 4 minutes. It's since become one of my favorite songs, and if I was ever held at gunpoint and forced to list them, it'd definitely make the top 50. Overall, Psychotropia is soaring with psilocybin spiked imagination and nearly spotless, a real nugget which I highly recommend even to those who don't normally like psychedelic tunes.

Rating: 9/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?f2i2xk2rb51fonw

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Michael Angelo - Michael Angelo (1977)

The non-stop psyche bombardment, will it ever end? I guess at this point I should just dub this "psyche week" at Bigger Splashes. To be more accurate, "neo-psyche week" because that's what most of the stuff I've put up the past few days is. Hell, some may argue its not even technically true psychedelic, its more folk with light psychedelic influences, but whatever, man. Labeling is such a chore. Let's move past it and talk about Michael Angelo. Michael Angelo's 1977 self-titled LP is a pleasant blend of 60s pop, folk, and psychedelic, with finely written songs that are easy to get lost in. I can honestly say that this is the kind of music I'd want played at my wedding if ever I have one. It makes me nostalgic for simpler, more ignorant times. Summers spent in a camper naively reenacting the 70s the best we could with bad pot and cheap beer and The Alan Parson's Project (amongst other musical travesties which at the time seemed magical). I know it's a cliche, but ignorance really is bliss and as Jason Molina once advised, "Try and try and try....to be simple again." This is good music for that.

Rating: 8/10

Rating with a whiskey buzz on a yacht with your significant other under a moonlit sky: 10/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?ma965reyx77913z

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Suns of Arqa - "Beyond The Beyond"

While I'm on a psyche kick...this is probably the single most psychedelic thing in existence. These guys are amazing.

Bobb Trimble - Jupiter Transmission (1995)

Bobb Trimble is a cult collector's wet dream. Forever destined to be on the far fringe of the music industry, his records were criminally overlooked for many years before someone somewhere stumbled upon a dusty used vinyl copy of Iron Curtain Innocence and said ,"Holy shit - this is amazing!" and decided to take action to get his work re-released. Jupiter Transmission is the result of one such discovery. It's a CD compilation album consisting of a choice selection of tracks from his first two LPs, Iron Curtain Innocence and Harvest of Dreams. This is a bizarre one, even for the neo-psych crowd, most noticeably because of Bobb's otherworldly falsetto voice (which is so high pitched it almost sounds feminine at times) and the hypnotic arrangements backing it. Each song an entrancing entity, woven into a web of mystique and euphoria. Trimble's music is like regular psychedelic music on acid; way, way out there, but also a must have for anyone with a piqued interest in the genre.

Rating: 8.5/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?yoslkps1vo0s9dp

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Death in June - The World That Summer (1986)

Sometimes I just want to feel goth, goddamnit. There is a tenebrous rain going on outside right now, and its very apt weather for Death in June. Although they are unmistakably gothic in nature, they aren't the cheesy, over-the-top sort, or the cheapened Hot Topic goth you may think of when you hear the word. They're an elegant and refined breed of goth, their influences stretching far and wide, not to be pidgeonholed by simple labeling. From violent post-industrial to somber neo-folk, Death in June's Douglas P. is known for his eruptive elegies about sorrow, sado-masochism, historical symbolism, among countless other things, often sewn together with heavy religious and ritualistic ties. Also known for his obsession with strange masks, paganism, and nazi aesthetics (although not a neo-nazi himself, as he has made clear in a number of interviews), Douglas P. is an odd fellow. He also has a fascination for Yukio Mishima, which a couple of the songs on The World That Summer are dedicated to ("Hidden Among the Leaves," and "Death of a Man"). A very transitional album for the band, containing some Death in June classics ("Come Before Christ and Murder Love" and "Break the Black Ice") as well as some experimental pieces, as they began to steer towards a more folkish route. So bust out your blackest wardrobe and pop open a bottle of red wine, push play, and let the basking gloom seep in.

Rating: 8/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?kiw6kb01c67tlve

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Human Ear Music tribute

It goes without saying that the Human Ear Music label and that whole LA music/art scene surrounding it made a huge impact in my life when I stumbled across their brown sounds and psuedo-intellectual bohemian philosophies some 4 or 5 years ago. Until then I had never been attracted to any particular subculture, but all of a sudden I was drawn towards this eccentric, kind of dark, yet classy mix of artistic junkies (to be blunt). It seemed to me at the time like an underground Hollywood, and its in part what made me want to move to LA, and changed my mentality towards a number of things, mainly music, fashion, and drugs. The obvious and biggest influences for me were Ariel Pink, John Maus, and Holy Shit, but today I want to shed some light on some of the lesser known Human Ear groups/affiliates. Keep in mind a lot of this material is what some would consider to be 'novelty music,' so don't be expecting anything too incredible. Not saying this stuff is bad, but there's a reason these bands didn't get Ariel Pink level recognition.

SuperCreep - Lo-fi synth duo consisting of Jason Grier and Julia Holter. Quite a competent pair and they produced some really cool, interesting sounds during their short-lived time as a band. A few people dissed them for riding on Ariel Pink's coattails (before it became cool for everyone and their dog to do this), but I think they had their own thing going. They eventually split up to pursue solo projects, but even those dissipated after a while. Haven't heard anything from either of them for a few years now.

Vibe Central - These guys apparently had some notoriety garnered from being overly dramatic and fucked up all the time, never playing shows, booking fake shows, releasing a shit load of (mostly unlistenable) material recorded from drug dazed jam sessions - mainly from just being crazy. If you can't handle Ariel Pink's early material, you'll probably want to steer way clear from VC, because it makes Ariel sound like U2. I lived with Aaron Frankel of VC for a few weeks and the guy was bipolar to the extreme, not to mention a total compulsive liar. I could tell stories about this guy all night long. Bastard promised me a Vibe Central/Ariel Pink "box set" which I never saw the likes of. Apparently he and Andrew Arduini and Nicolas Amato had a falling out and the latter two produced the video/song below to spite Frankel. It's actually a really cool song/video, but the whole drama I find amusing knowing one of the parties involved.

Ry Rocklen - My roommate Ellie actually studied art under this dude and had access to a lot of his material, but I've had this particular album (High Ry's) since the soulseek days. The most noticeable of Rocklen's attributes is the dynamic changes he can produce with his voice. As far as voices go, its actually kind of awful, but he has a lot of range with it. His music is lo-fi tape recordings of warm guitar strumming and synth keys over drum-machine beats. Pretty simple stuff really, but he has some unique and well-written songs. He is also a very talented sculpture/installation artist.

Pete Um - This dude performs a lot and writes a lot of material which he releases either unconventionally or not at all (because I can't seem to find anything outside of this one EP that I have). He also likes to video tape himself a lot (like seriously, a lot.) As far as I can tell he mostly just fucks around, and could very well be an outsider musician who doesn't know how to play any of his instruments or operate any of his gear outside of clueless experimentation. He's like R. Stevie Moore meets The Shadow Ring. The only song worth anything on Africa is a Fridge is the titular track, which, although short, is pretty awesome. The rest is just tripe and a little too weird for anyone's taste.

Softboiled Eggies were a project of Janet Kim of Tiny Creatures and Part Time Punk's Benjamin White with a revolving cast of members coming and going. Drawing from a vast pool of influences, the Eggies contained a wide variety of sounds from keyboard based sugary 60s pop to experimental new wave with post punk characteristics. I saw them play a few times... once in SF, and twice in LA and they always sounded great live. They had a better video than the one below up on youtube for "So High" but I guess that was taken down for some reason. Oh well, here's the video for "Glassy Eyes" instead:

A long time ago, I had both Bubonic Plague albums, but I don't know what happened to them. Bubonic Plague was the precursor to Geneva Jacuzzi's solo project, albeit much better. They featured some really unique and catchy lo-fi dark pop sounds. Can't believe I lost those...probably sunk with the ship with the loss of my old hard drive. Oh well, you can get a taste of their spooky, angular pop at their myspace page if you're interested.

DOWNLOAD (SuperCreep - Cancer +, Vibe Central - Hitsingles/hexamples, Ry Rocklen - High Ry's, Pete Um - Africa is a Fridge 7", Softboiled Eggies - Hardboiled): http://www.sendspace.com/file/zf623l

Edit: found my Bubonic Plague stash! Features the albums No Bosses No Bullshit and Instant Coma: http://www.mediafire.com/?tfg7zlht98q3crd

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cath Carroll - England Made Me (1991)

During the 80's Cath Carroll had built up quite an impressive resume for herself. She played guitar in a few random bands in the late 70's and then started her own project, Glass Animals (later to become Gay Animals). In '84 she produced a fanzine with her band mate from Gay Animals (I'm not making this up, I promise) and shortly after began writing for NME and City Limits (under the pseudonym Myrna Minkoff, taken from A Confederacy of Dunces). Also around this time she began another new band, Miaow, who released their first single, Bella Vue, on their own label in '85. Miaow continued to record indie pop singles, gaining a small cult following, until disbanding in '88. She then went on to record with The Hit Parade for a bit and around this time she married Big Black guitarist Santiago Durango and began her solo career. Her brand of sweaty high-intensity 90s dance was not unusual at the time. In fact it was quite popular in clubs and on the radio, but England Made Me had a polish, maturity and moody atmosphere most others lacked, aided by several notable contributors including production assistance by Steve Albini. England Made Me was one of the last Factory releases, and some say the relative expense of the record contributed to Factory's demise. The only reason I didn't score it higher is because the singles sort of outshine the rest of the songs. Still a very stellar album though.

Rating: 8.5/10

DOWNLOAD (.m4a): http://www.mediafire.com/?i92uvmka84ac223

Video for the remix of the magnificent single, "Moves Like You":

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Durutti Column - Jacqueline (Live 1988)

Weekend - La Variete (1983)

Believe it or not, but this is actually a side project of two members from Young Marble Giants. The two groups sound so completely different, that you'd never make the connection on your own. The album is kind of all over the place, but their style is mainly like a new wave bossa nova/samba, with plenty of bass, saxophone, and bongo drums. Kind of reminiscent of and existing around the same time as the French band Antena, but minus the electronic overtones. If you ever feel the need to take an imaginary seaside vacation, just put this album on and turn the volume up. In no time, you'll begin to feel the sand beneath your toes and the sun on your skin, hear the tide against the shore, and smell the combination of sun lotion, sea salt, and pina-coladas in the air. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but all these essences are bottled within the jazzy rhythms and airy arrangements of La Variete. If you plan on taking a real beach vacation - even better! This is the perfect breezy/sunny summer day record.

Rating: 8/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?ytdp89rkvl3pbdf

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sensations' Fix - Boxes Paradise (1977)

I hope you'll take my word for it when I tell you that Sensations' Fix were the most fucking amazing Italian psychedelic prog band to ever be. They also have one of the raddest band names ever conceived: Sensations' Fix. The implications with a name like are vast and awesome. I thought someone had laced my green beans with something tonight, but no, I was just listening to Boxes Paradise. Strangely enough, about the same time the epic, spaced out jams began, I could almost feel a wave of psilocin pulsating through my lymph nodes and making my jaws tingle and sending those funky vibrations flowing throughout my body. I had to go look into the mirror to make sure my pupils weren't dialated. Man, do I miss taking shrooms. Boxes Paradise is like the theme of Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To, only ten years prior and ten times as intense. The guitar sounds these guys make are unbelievable, and for a prog/psyche outfit, the songs are relatively well-crafted and definitely more accessible than their early work. This is a must-have record if you dig on this kind of thing. I also have a few of their other albums, so if anyone's interested, send me a shout.

Rating: 9.5/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?ovg3ingvlb1tj6i

William Gibson - Neuromancer (1984)

I don't know how I feel about this book. I've been trying to delve into sci-fi lately to garner some inspiration for my own project and I was told that this was one of the most notable sci-fi books of the century and a good starting place. On one hand, Gibson's descriptiveness and way with technological monikers is unrivaled. Its almost mind-blowing how pieced together and convincing everything is. Neuromancer's world is so fully-realized and believable you almost forget its not hard science fiction. My only gripes are with the continuous style in which Gibson writes - it's almost too A.D.D. for me at times. I feel as if his style of writing was different, I'd be enjoying this a lot more than I am, but at the same time I can appreciate the style for what it is. It's not bad, I just don't prefer it. Also, the novel is devoid of anything resembling emotion or philosophy, two things that I generally look for in my literature, but it comes with the territory I guess (Although 1984 does a great job splicing these elements into science-fiction). No doubt an impressive book, but a little dry for my tastes.

"Night City was like a deranged experiment in social Darwinism, designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button. Stop hustling and you sank without a trace, but move a little too swiftly and you'd break the fragile surface tension of the black market; either way, you were gone, with nothing left of you but some vague memory in the mind of a fixture like Ratz, though heart or lungs or kidneys might survive in the service of some stranger with New Yen for the clinic tanks."

Rhinoceros Eyes (2003)

It's a shame how underrated this movie is (a measly 45% at Rotten Tomatoes). Despite having some flaws, it's an offbeat and magnetic film that did a lot with a rather limited budget. The story revolves around Chep, a young, voyeuristic, chronic escapist, and his obsessions over a woman who one day comes into the prop house where he works with an unusual request. His imagination takes over and things soon begin to spiral out of his control. Before I go any further, I'd like to talk about some of the major themes of the film: escapism and fantasy.

Escapism is a strange thing and a bit of a touchy subject. It's something that I've become very familiar with over the course of my life. Most of us as modern Americans are unconsciously accustomed to it; some of us in more extreme, blatant ways than others, some of us do it more often than others. Some of us escape through drugs or alcohol. Some of us do it by indulging in entertainment, whether it be living vicariously through a novel, or becoming immersed in the artificial universe of a movie or video game, or like millions of Americans, coming home to be distracted by turning on the tube or in more recent years one's computer (internet addiction and virtual reality are very prominent forms of escapism for our generation). In essence, many ways of dealing with conscious existence could be construed as escaping, depending on your perspective. Either way, it has become central in our culture, and many would argue that it's a detrimental thing.

At the same time, many others would argue that it's a necessary thing. There are many things to escape from: the world itself (which is a home to death, destruction, conflict, cruelty, chaos, and uncertainty), a monotonous life of drudgery and seemingly never ending menial labors (which for many of us, who are not rich and fortunate, is our daily lives), or sometimes simply even from yourself (being trapped in the same fleshy box for decades on end can get to some people). Our imaginations take us outside of ourselves, outside of our world, outside of our tedious daily repetitions and make life okay. Things are often simplified or made linear...more manageable. That's why the entertainment industry is such a humongous and rapidly growing business - people desire distractions.

I feel like at this point in my life, having been sequestered by anxiety and depression, I've been escaping too much and for that reason I can really relate to Chep and his reclusiveness, social awkwardness and the reliance he has on his imagination. Although a bit one dimensional, he's a superbly well-developed character and his childlike naivety and schizophrenic tendencies come off as more endearing than annoying due to Michael Pitt's acting, which is so good, I might add, that between this and Funny Games, I'm almost starting to develop a man-crush on him.

It's hard to pinpoint a distinct tone of the film, because its both disturbing and simultaneously captivating and oddly humorous. Although a large portion of the film is serious, certain scenes are downright hilarious, which make for some good comic relief. The cinematography is well-shot and makes the prop house really come to life as Woodley intended. The soundtrack, aided by John Cale, is also quite good, as are the stop animation sequences. If I had to sum the film up with a cliche, I'd say it's "wildly imaginative." Its a unique vision that definitely deserves a lot more acclaim than it received.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kumisolo & Momus: Adelaïde

The Legendary Pink Dots - The Maria Dimension (1991)

The Legendary Pink Dots are their own genre. To call them simply 'gothic' would be insulting, because they are so much weirder than that. For over 30 years they've been creating music that transcends barriers and fuses genres in a unique and avant-garde fashion matched by none. Afro-beat, traditional Japanese, middle Eastern styles, post-punk, progressive rock, synth pop, jazz, industrial are just a few of the influences at their disposal. The Maria Dimension, which, out of their vast multitude of releases, is one of their most seamless, features experimental requiems and spectral psychedelic sonatas that suck you into a fey and alluring, multi-faceted world with abysmal depth. It often sounds like Arabian Nights on acid, a world with equal parts blackness and beauty, a world of enchantment and enigmas galore. They've crafted their own mythos and folklore that adds to their already ambiguous, astral atmosphere. My personal favorite tracks are the more analeptic ones such as "The Ocean Cried Blue Murder," "Belladonna," and "Home" (which is so comforting, it makes you feel like you're being cradled by some invisible maternal spirit), but the whole album's a trip worth taking.

Rating: 8/10

Rating on high doses of psychoactive drugs: 10/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?cdv2tn1tw21e2jj

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Al Stewart - Dark Side (1990)

As a preface I want to say that this is a rather elusive and mysterious release. These tracks were apparently recorded in 1990, but the album wasn't released until 2000 by the relatively small label Jackdaw. It's not featured on his wikipedia discography and I can't seem to find cover art for it anywhere. Which is all strange because its a very solid album.

Although he sort of dropped off the radar and the majority of the public seemed to have forgotten about him when the 70's ended, Al Stewart continued on with a rather prolific music career. His music has aged like a fine wine, and he's one of the few musicians who made better music later on than during their heyday, unlike Lou Reed or countless others who fell off or lost it. I'm not trying to knock "Year of the Cat" era Al Stewart or the early folk portion of his oeurvre, I'm just pointing out that he matured and expanded his sound, experimenting with different instruments and ideas and he did so without conforming to trends of the time and by keeping his own signature style, which is something many musicians could never manage to do. British folk rock-cum-adult contemporary has never sounded so fresh and inspiring. Despite what it's title will lead you to believe, this album is anything but dark. On the contrary, its rather uplifting and optimistic. Nearly every song is flawlessly fleshed-out - a would-be hit 30 years prior - an excellent fusion of classic rock revival, soaring melodies, and introspective psychedelic yacht rock (as crazy as that may sound).

Rating: 9/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?4cb2gb0gu9d4gvo

Friday, August 6, 2010

The The - Solitude (1993)

This collection of remixes and reworkings was the first album by The The to have ever graced my at the time little and naive ears. My tennis instructor Nick gave me this cd when I was around 17 or 18 and it broadened my slowly developing taste for music that was two decades old.

Matt Johnson's music has always been sultry and passionate, overflowing with a lust for life, at times even incendiary. Many of his songs start off subtle enough, like a cigarette being innocently flicked from a car window that lands in a nearby field and starts a small brush fire which the wind catches and becomes this raging conflagration. Its this very intensity that sets The The apart from other musicians of the era, and earned Matt Johnson a level of semi-stardom. "That was the Day" is the casiotone alter ego to the famous song of reminiscence, "This is the Day." Other highlights on this album are "Jealous of Youth" (video below) and the groovy, sweaty remix of "Helpline Operator." Good music for drinking alcohol and inflating one's ego before going out and drinking more alcohol.

Rating: 8.5/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?74m55fmzki3f7nc

I wanna live, I wanna live, but I ain't a big enough man to do anything other than think


The fellas over at The Power of Independent Trucking were kind enough to get together and post the entire Paris Angels discography, singles and all. I may eventually get around to reposting it here because its a must have collection for anyone with even the slightest interest in Madchester or early 90s brit-pop. In the meantime, here is the video for "Perfume," which is a most addictive and groovy song:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wim Wenders - The State of Things (1982)

This film is utterly remarkable and it completely blew me away when I watched it a couple months ago. It really makes you think about cinema and what is illusion and what is real. The soundtrack is amazing and adds to the undertone of restlessness and impending doom throughout until the shocking end. The ending literally made me jump and then applaud to myself afterwards. Fantastic scope and flawless execution.

Ben Watt & Robert Wyatt - North Marine Drive + Summer Into Winter

North Marine Drive is the debut solo album from Ben Watt, who would later go on to form Everything But the Girl with Marine Girl Tracey Thorn. Summer into Winter EP is the sensitive, seasonal collaboration between Watt and the legendary Robert Wyatt. Both albums house a pleasant, rustic seaside vibe and feature sparse, mainly acoustic instrumentation (with the occasional saxophone or piano) that creates a sense of lulling and atmospheric melancholy. The shining highlight here is the title track "North Marine Drive" - its the sort of song that makes one sigh, in a nice, reflective way. This one would make for a good soundtrack to a romantic, aimless, wintry evening drive; maybe driving around looking at Christmas lights or something equally as emotionally incandescent.

Rating: 9/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?jmbl4tuu6ltv67v

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Shiny Two Shiny - Halfway Across the Rainbow (1982)

I'm feeling laconic tonight so I'll sum this album up in short: the key lime pie of lo-fi psychedelic synth pop; an acquired taste; a classy sort of drug music. This is a rare, almost perfect record crafted for the most refined musical taste buds. For that reason I have trouble describing it, there's nothing to compare it to, it's in a league of its own and it has it all. It starts off so splendid and melodic and heavenly, and ends in dark psychotropic deluge, a beautiful wavering shadowy crescendo. If you listened to this on mushrooms you'd swear it was the very best thing your ears had ever heard. If you listened to it stone sober, you might just come to the same conclusion.

Rating: 10/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?z3fngqhfc4nlmh2

Monday, August 2, 2010

Steppenwolf (1927)

I firmly believe that this is the greatest novel ever written. I can at least say it's my favorite. On the surface, this book has a lot in common with Journey to the End of the Night. Both novels feature a cynical, nihilistic anti-hero with a certain "sickness of the soul." However, there are critical differences between the two works. Whereas the outlook in Journey was mostly bleak, misanthropic and pessimistic throughout, in the end Steppenwolf is offered a solution to all his despair - and this solution is key. He comes to a realization, an enlightenment about his condition and how to remedy it with humor, dancing, and sex. This serves to repair his fragmented sense of self in a psychedelic and unforgettable climax that will leave you in contemplation long after you've finished reading.

"I had no motives, no incentives to exert myself, no duties. Life tasted horribly bitter. I felt that the long-standing disgust was coming to a crisis and that life pushed me out and cast me aside. I walked through the grey streets in a rage and everything smelt of moist earth and burial... Dear God, how had I, with the wings of youth and poetry, come to this? Art and travel and the glow of ideals--and now this! How had the paralysis crept over me so slowly and furtively, this hatred against myself and everybody, this deep-seated anger and obstruction of all feelings, this filthy hell of emptiness and despair."

- Hermann Hesse (Steppenwolf)

Comet Gain - City Fallen Leaves (2005)

This album serves as a majestic reminder that whatever mucky shit swamp you've found yourself wading in, whatever despairs or dejections you've found yourself plagued with, there's always a sense of hope, that tiny kindling to make a change and be optimistic just for the sake of giving the proverbial middle finger to the human condition. "Paint a smile upon an egg." There's a lot of elements in this album that you'll hear me talk about frequently with a lot of the things I post on here, because they are the things that interest me emotionally: nostalgia, unrequited love or friendships, and sentimentality in general. These are feelings I used to be entirely composed of, but have been paling within me over the past several months due to my various depressions and anxieties. Listening to City Fallen Leaves today unearthed all that meaning I used to cherish so, and reminded me why I loved this album so much in the first place.

When I first heard this album, it was around the time I was readying to move to LA, and it came as a furious gust of motivation and swept me off my feet. It had been so long since music had inspired me so and lit a fire within me to go forward and live. "The Fists in the Pocket" became my theme song, and I really adopted it in full in regards to my soon to be changing situation at that juncture. For me and my girlfriend at the time, it also secretly became our album. I recall one night right around before I was to leave, we laid around in my room and just drank cheap beer and fooled around and listened to it in its entirety. Not much words were spoken outside of brief flirtatious exchanges in between songs - just eye contact, smiles and physical affection. To be honest, I really miss the time I spent with her and that time of my life in general. I was so alive and full of adventure I could have taken on the world.

City Fallen Leaves is diligent and sincere, fierce and at times tender, rising in intensity, then calming down, then rising again. The "Story of the Vivian Girls" interlude explodes into "Just One More Summer Before I Go" like a tidal wave. Ultimately this record is an anthem tailored for the youth of our generation, for those of us who feel things more strongly than the average working class kid; those of us resonating with sentiment and longing. It understands the frustrations and lethargy that we feel and the hope and nostalgia that we need. Everything that needs to be said is cried out with such vigor in the first track:

if you're looking for me, looking for me
i'll be down there on the beach
if you're searching for me
just like a dream
i'll be somewhere out of reach
the fist in my pocket
the fist in my pocket
sinking into the sea
if you're looking for me, looking for me
i'll be down there on the beach

i remember i forget
the family i called my friends
feeling high in western sky
to be the bold against the shy
full of fire in midnight cries
when you feel the same as me
but you don't know what it means
it takes a lot to be that dude
and drive that long and sing that loud
and be so hard and touch so soft
and feel so much and dream so bright
kiss that fast and wait so slow
never die, feel alone
my baby's in an after bar
she reaches out but i'm too far
head's been blown off in his car
torn his life, well, that's too far
well i can't take it anymore
i can't take this anymore
i can't take it anymore

if you're looking for me, looking for me
i'll be down there on the beach
if you're searching for me
just like a dream
i'll be somewhere out of reach
the fist in my pocket
the fist in my pocket
sinking into the sea
if you're looking for me
if you're looking for me
i'll be down there on the beach

taken in by too much crap
the silver 60s sometimes seems
a fake degree of fakers' dreams
leaves have built up in my friends
hallucinations never end
coffee grinds so we might go
we go for walks, right we talk
nothing changes in our lives
nothing changes in our lives
i can't take it anymore
i can't take it anymore
they're freaking out on the dance floor
they can't take it anymore
we shouldn't take this anymore
we shouldn't take this anymore

Rating: 9.5/10

DOWNLOAD: http://www.mediafire.com/?8gqy78lfii8gc9t

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Berntholer - A History of Berntholer (1981-1985)

A History of Bernholer is a compendium of their work, mostly songs taken from Merry Lines in the Sky and various singles. Their sound is hard to classify. It's very European and a musical cauldron with various genres brewed together: post-punk, jazz, synth-pop, psychedelic, with some minimal and oriental influences thrown in as well. The result is quite original and far from kitschy, like much of the music from this period. Some songs are almost danceable, but most serve as good background music for practical things....creating art or cooking or simply sitting around drinking wine. In short, mesmeric and spellbinding. Drita Kotaj's accent fuses well with the narcotic music and makes for some unique, loungy Belgian pop. "My Suitor" is an inspiring ode to a lover, with gorgeous string instruments and accompanying piano. A very lovely song - one of my favorites.

Rating: 8.5/10

DOWNLOAD (new link)

Fairly minimal TV performance of "My Suitor":

Pretty cool, semi-psychedelic video for "Japanese Garden"