Friday, July 29, 2005

Harder than the rest

Today is my last day at my assignment here in Jersey City. I was fortunate enough to land a new position back in midtown Manhattan and I start Monday. I'll be working for a Managing Director who's fairly high up the food chain. This is a good thing because it means there will be a lot of work to do. That means no unemployment worries for a while.

Knock on wood.

My current boss has been kind enough to encourage me to take a half day today. Nice guy. I've got some stuff to wrap up, but I should be out of here early. In keeping with the speed of the day, however, I've been indulging in a new found sound friend: Nasum.

Today's word is: grindcore.

Hyperspeed blast beats, howled and growled vocals, insanely technical guitar riffing at speeds that simply boggle the mind. If you're brave enough, check out "Feed Them, Kill Them, Skin Them". All you have to do is hang on for 50 seconds. No, it's not a sample; it's the whole song...

I downloaded their album Inhale/Exhale off of this month and have been headsnapping ever since. I also downloaded a bunch of free tracks off their website and tossed together a comp that I've dubbed Various Deviances. I suspect I'm going to get completist about these guys.

Unfortunately, that will be fairly easy to do.

While the band was founded in 1992, they only released four full length albums. Each of these CDs has anywhere from 25 to 40 tracks on it, although they're all less than an hour long (as I said, today's word is grindcore). They also released a couple of singles and splits, but I got most of that off their website.

The sad thing is that they're not going to do any more music. Their lead singer, Mieszko Talarczyk, was vacationing in Thailand for his thirtieth birthday in December of 2004. Yup. You guessed it. He was killed during the tsunami. While his body was not identified until February of 2005, the band had already decided that they would not continue if he had not survived. So they've put down their instruments, at least under the Nasum moniker. Hopefully the surviving members will continue to create through other projects. I do, however, deeply respect their decision.

R.I.P. Mieszko Talarczyk and Nasum. Thanks for all of the skull crushing, face ripping tunes.

Faster than you:

Nasum - Inhale/Exhale
(38 tracks in 45 minutes; try to keep up)

Nasum - Various Deviances
(contains a live recording that is 3 songs in five minutes; get the picture?)

The Redeemer - Hardcore Owes Us Money
(Panacea and DJ Scud team up for some tongue-in-cheek techno-breakage)

Curse Of The Golden Vampire - Mass Destruction
(JKFlesh and the Bug cast aside Alec Empire and get even meaner)

Various - Demon Spirit Bitch From Hell
(two jam packed discs of fuckin' GABBER!)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tigerbeat6 Instant Weight Loss Program

Given my trip to Philly last weekend and then my Bizarro World illness on Monday, I’d been taking it easy exercise-wise since last Saturday, i.e. no gym. I’d also been eating out a lot (the restaurant kind...), so I’d managed to put back on some of the pounds I’d lost recently.

Enter Tigerbeat6’s Paws Across America Tour, starring Eats Tapes, Knifehandchop, and Kid 606. I took in the show last night at Northsix in beautiful (insert dripping sarcasm here) Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Man, am I tired and sore. But also about 300 pounds lighter.

The show was scheduled to start at 9PM, but didn’t get rolling until about 9:45. The duo that is Eats Tapes took the stage with what appeared to be some primitive drum machines (a Roland 707 and 909, I believe) and some marvelously circuit-bent machines, including what looked like an old portable tape player. After a few initial bleeps and squiggles, the beat dropped and the Four was On The Floor in a BIG way. Now, I’d planned to take it easy so I’d have plenty left for Kid 606, but I simply could not resist the siren call of happy feet. I was up and hopping about after about a song and a half.

Eats Tapes stuff is medium tempo for the most part, so I wasn’t pushing really hard, but I worked up a sweat and had a smile on my face when Derek arrived near the end of the set. We did some catching up and turned our attention to the front when Knifehandchop started up.

I’ve always been a fan of KHC because he is completely all over the place. He was in great form last night, starting out with a really downtempo piece that had Derek and me headnodding in a serious fashion. However, downtempo morphed into reggae-esque, reggae-esque morphed into ragga, ragga warped into drum and bass, and finally drum and bass exploded into hardcore. Knifehandchop covered a myriad of electronic genres over the course of his 45 minute set, with me flailing away pretty much constantly. At this point, the shirt was off and I was drenched, deliriously lost in the pounding rhythms, rumbling bass, and ricocheting synth melodies.

Who needs drugs when you’ve got this stuff?

The Chop finally signed off, leaving me completely exhausted but anxiously awaiting the arrival of Kid 606. Bianca and Nellie arrived just as he started.

Now, Derek, Bianca, and I caught the Kid at Rothko back in February, so I had some concept of what was about to occur.

Or so I thought.

I have to say that the Rothko show was amazing. The crowd was completely jacked and the music was slamming. Lots of breakcore and sampledelic stuff. Not a lot of room to dance, but I made due.

Last night was a completely different story.

At first the crowd didn’t seem into it. I guess it was partly because it was a Wednesday night (in my experience, midweek crowds tend to be mellow) and partly because a lot of people in "the scene" frown on dancing; lots of pretentious folk who prefer to sit back and observe.

They’re nuts. Because what was Kid 606’s plan for the evening?

Death by acid.

After some incredible high pitched static bursts and glitches, he got to work. In came the beats and bass and then some of my favorite sounds in the world. I peered up on stage and there it was: everybody’s favorite little silver box, the Roland 303. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 303, suffice to say that this machine is the backbone of most nineties trance and techno. It generates those squelchy, squirrelly synth lines you always hear. Anyway, the Kid was laying them down THICK.

The set itself is now a complete blur, as I basically only stopped moving to take on some water every now and again. While there was an acid theme to the majority of the tunes, Kid 606 did vary stuff enough so that it didn’t get boring. There were forays into hardcore, drum and bass, drill and bass, downtempo, neo-dub, and a host of other flavas. I think he played for about an hour, but it seemed longer; not long enough, though. I did not want it to end. Some of the crowd danced (at one point, an honest to goodness majority), but it never got crowded, so I got to THROW DOWN.

Did I mention how sore I am today?

Anyway, I did actually get to talk with Miguel (the madman behind Kid 606) once the audio storm was over. He and Derek and I had a brief chat about the show and what was to be his upcoming show on Friday, which unfortunately got cancelled. After Miguel went back to break down his stuff, Derek commented that one of the things he liked about the indie scene was that you could just strike up a conversation with the artists. I agreed completely. No 10 foot tall, head-neck optional bodyguards to deal with, very little pretension, and a shared appreciation of the music.

So I limped out of Northsix at about 12:45am this morning and stumbled my way back to Bedford Avenue to catch a cab. Almost snagged one on the first try, but got upstreamed by yet another New Yorker with no appreciation for taxi etiquette.

BTW, to the lady who upstreamed me: despite the apology, you’re still a bitch. If you’d really been sorry, you’d have given up the cab. And as for the cab driver who picked her up instead of me? I would have tipped better.

Who gwan test mi wan I and I got deez tunes?:

Knifehandchop - Rockstopper
(blistering beats and bitchslapping bass)

Kid 606 - Resilience
(new and surprisingly laid back)

Mortician - Hacked Up For Barbeque/Zombie Apocalypse
(the only kind of metal you can write when your drum machine is stuck at 250BPM)

Arvo Part - Passio
(68 minutes of monochromatic beauty topped off with 4 minutes of audio sunrise)

Gustav Holtz - The Planets
(epic orchestral; too bad he only knew about 7 of them)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ralph PS

Then again, sometimes it's better just to let it all out. Just beware the consequences.

Do the Disassociate

I’ve been reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. While it’s been a bit slow moving, the writing is excellent. Gaiman is also an author who hits you with something profound every now and again. Point being, I came across this passage while reading on the train this morning and it got me thinking.


No man, proclaimed Donne, is an Island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other’s tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others by our island nature and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived, and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life. Lives are snowflakes – forming patterns we have seen before, as like one another as peas in a pod, but still unique.

Without individuals we only see numbers: a thousand dead, a hundred thousand dead, "casualties may rise to a million." With individual stories, the statistics become people – but even that is a lie, for the people continue to suffer in numbers that themselves are numbing and meaningless. Look, see the child’s swollen, swollen belly, and the flies that crawl at the corners of his eyes, his skeletal limbs: will it make it easier for you to know his name, his age, his dreams, his fears? To see him from the inside? And if it does, are we not doing a disservice to his sister, who lies in the searing dust beside him, a distorted, distended caricature of a human child? And there, if we feel for them, are they now more important to us than a thousand other young lives who will soon be food for the flies’ own myriad of squirming children?

We draw our lines around these moments of pain, and remain upon our islands, and they cannot hurt us. They are covered with smooth safe, nacreous layer to let them slip, pearllike, from our souls without real pain.


A rousing endorsement of disassociation, no? Perhaps.

Yes, caring can cause pain and bring into focus the magnitude of human suffering, yet is the reverse any more comforting? If we completely shut out everything that is painful to us and simply don’t give a damn, don’t we risk shutting out everything else as well?

Down that path lies only loneliness and isolation.

How do we manage to be sympathetic without becoming empathetic? Sympathy allows us to care about the feelings and experiences of others, while empathy pulls us into those feeling and experiences, often resulting in our feelings and experiences being overwhelmed by those of the person we are empathizing with.

It’s a thin line, a tightrope we walk every day. Can we turn a blind eye to the staggering, half-blind vagrant on the subway or do we give them a quarter and trust they won’t use it to stumble further down their spiral? Can we ignore the suffering of people who had the simply misfortune of being born in a third world country, secure in the idea that some international aid organization will help them out with our meager donation? Or do we just not give a damn about either?

Not exactly sure what point I’m trying to make here. It’s just that Gaiman’s passage got me thinking about how we compartmentalize things we encounter every day. We do this for the sake of our own happiness and sanity, but to what degree does it rob us of our humanity?

Shutting out the world with help from:

Austere - Curio
(shimmering audio haze from Portland’s ambient gods)

Erroll Garner - The Complete Savoy Master Takes
(lovely, light, and lilting touch on the piano)

Depeche Mode - Violator
(I do indeed enjoy the silence)

Method Man - Tical
(OK, can't all be mellow now, can we?)

The Weir - Weiry But Wisened Old Fool
(weird DIY hip-hop funkery)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Back from the dead

Ever have one of those days where you wake up so sick that you pray for death? Welcome to my yesterday. I've no idea what happened. I'd spent a beautiful, fun weekend down in Philadelphia with friends and had had a fantastic time. I went to bed at a decent hour on Sunday night but awakened Monday to... I'll spare you the gories, but suffice to say I didn't eat very much that day. Also had to cancel my plans for that evening, although I was feeling human again by about 7 last evening.

Really weird.

Anyway, as I was busy in Philly over the weekend, I didn't get a chance to catch the last couple of stages of the Tour De France, which I've been following voraciously on Luckily, they ran commentary on each stage, so I did get a chance to go back yesterday and read about the races I missed (at least when I wasn't puking my guts out; sorry, TMI again).

Lance is an amazing guy. Sounds like he might be a bit of a dick in real life, but you have to admire his athleticism and dedication to fighting cancer. Can't say I'd want to meet the guy, though.

Hopefully all the things I have planned for this week will unfold as expected. As long as my weird bug doesn't come back.

Settling my stomach today:

Various - Bond Beat & Bass: The Elektronica James Bond Themes
(a great concept, but badly executed)

Various - DJ TTFuk's Mix 1
(badass Bianca Beeman lays down the grooves)

Takeshi Muto - Expect More From A Past Life
(glitchy downtempo with ambient touches)

Rasputina - Cabin Fever!
(more magic from Melora)

Bill Laswell & Terre Thaemlitz - Web
(20,000 leagues beneath the sea)

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Next week is shaping up to be quite a funfest.

I'll be catching Kid 606, Knifehandchop, and Eats Tapes at Northsix on Wednesday. This will be one of their two stops in NYC on their Paws Across America tour. The other show is on Friday and I'd love to see them twice.


My buddy Bitshifter is playing downstairs at the Knitting Factory that night. This is a man who needs to be seen to be believed. He performs his music with... here it comes...


Yup. In a flurry of 8-bit madness, Josh creates some of the coolest, quirkiest electronic ditties. Very wicked stuff. Nasty, programmed breaks and skittering rhythms. Lots of nice blips and pops. Much fun. I saw him first when I was spinning at Dogs Blood Rising (RIP - miss those days). He was awesome, though it was a complete bitch following him up with a decent DJ set. Did what I could, though. So I expect it to be a slamming show.


I'm seriously contemplating catching The Dirtbombs that night, too. Saw these maniacs first back in April and they BLEW MY MIND. They're playing the main stage at the Knitting Factory, so if Bitshifter is done before they go on, who knows? Perhaps I'll head upstairs and catch their set, too.

It is my sincere hope that this is how it goes down.

In any event, next week is going to be chock full o' music, which is just how I like it, baby.

Today's tune fix:

Bauhaus - Swing The Heartache (The BBC Sessions)
(the mislabeled gods of goth)

His Name Is Alive - Livonia
(beautific weirdness from the treasure trove that is 4AD)

Tom Waits - Alice
(further proof that Tom is one of the most diverse artists in existence)

Pain Teens - Pain Teens
(a favorite tiny platter of fear)

Godflesh - Songs Of Love And Hate
(heavy, heavier, heaviest)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

This should be... interesting

So Dumbya has picked John Roberts as he nominee for the Supreme Court.

I'm intrigued.

The man wrote a brief in 1991 stating that Roe Vs Wade should be overturned, yet he insists that he was simply representing his client (in this case, the government under George Bush the Elder) and that "there's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent".

Let's hope not.

(This is yet another reason I could never be a lawyer; couldn't sufficiently separate myself from issues)

Roberts also believes that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to terrorists, essentially OK-ing the shenanigans going on at Gitmo.

That's kind of a dangerous precendent.

I'm also spooked by his rulings about the environment, religion in schools, etc. I'm especially spooked 'cause he worked for that vindictive little monkey, Ken Starr (if there was ever a last name misnomer, that one's a champ).

Still, many say that he's not a completely hardline conservative (although the fact that he's a devout Roman Catholic casts some doubt on that, methinks). We'll see, I guess. It's just my sincere hope that we don't get stuck with Scalia Jr.

If we do, start buying stock in coat hanger factories.

Far less crude than my final comment:

Deep Forest - Boheme
(the pygmies have left the building)

Madonna - Ray Of Light
(and the ray's name is William Orbit)

Loren MazzaCane Connors - Portrait Of A Soul
(delicate and melancholy; an interesting tangent for this avant-garder)

Goldfrapp - Felt Mountain
(future retro, baby)

Ween - GodWeenSatan: The Oneness
(the first CD from the mean Dean and Gene team)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Adios, The Brainwashed Brain

I was deeply troubled to discover today that one of my favorite webzines is closing down. The Brainwashed Brain has been a constant source of new music for me since I stumbled across in years ago. I would greet the beginning of each week with a quick run through all of the current issue's reviews and almost every week, I'd pick up some new CD by artists I'd either never heard of or had never fully investigated.

So shed a tear.

I'm not sure exactly why they're closing down. isn't folding (thank goodness); just The Brain. Perhaps it just got to be too much work. After all, The Brain grew and evolved over its lifespan, starting out as a lickle website and ending up as a bigun, with multiple contributors, all volunteers.

And I think that's very telling of independent (or at least non-mainstream) music. These are folks who didn't get paid. They wrote about music because they loved it. Helps keep your integrity when you don't take adverts from big labels. In fact, The Brain never reviewed stuff that was on the majors. They were staunchly anti-corporate and always picked stuff that was weird enough not to be boring.

So I thank them.

I thank them for all the lovely glitch I heard about from them. I thank them for all the fantastic downtempo I heard about from them. I thank them for all of the tasty, evil metal I heard about from them. I thank them for all the dark ambient and drift I heard about from them.

In other words, I owe these folks a lot.

So thanks, Brain. Thanks very much.

Easing me into the post-Brain era:

Various - Music For Seances Compilation
(all the MFS releases, lovingly compiled by Wink Jr)

Various - Stronger, Faster, Thinner
(Wink Jr does it again, this time with release from the Thinner label)

Various - DJ Abstract's Twilight Mix 3
(mad mellow music, man)

Various - Psyfunk Part Deux
(yet another Wink Jr mix, this one awash in four on the floor, baby)

Helmet - Strap It On
(or I'll rip it right off)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

New view review PS

Been ages, but at last there's new review over at an abstract view. Check out the relative merits of Miasmah's Lighted Apartment compilation.

I'm obnoxious PS

Was talking with a friend of mine several nights ago and this phrase somehow fell into my head. I'm thinking of having t-shirts made.

Perhaps this seems inappropriate after my rant this morning, but, hey, live a little.

My baby shot me down

Seems that the poor little girl who died in the Los Angeles shootout on Sunday was killed by a cop's bullet.

Let the media frenzy begin.

I'm anxious to see who steps up to the plate and attacks the LAPD first. I mean, it's not like the girl's father used her as a human shield.

Oh, wait.

He did.

This is why I'd never be a cop. No matter what the real circumstances in this situation, the LAPD is going to get grilled again. The department has had so much trouble in the past; they're definitely going to be presumed guilty. Sharpton, Jackson, and the rest will no doubt be arriving shortly to pick at the bones.

And why did the officers shoot Pena (and, collaterally, his daughter)?

Because he had a gun and he shot at them.

Thank you, NRA.

Bill of Rights, Amendment II: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

A guy waving a gun around while shielding himself with his 19-month-old daughter?

"Well regulated militia" indeed. Don't think the Founding Fathers had that in mind when they penned that ol' Constitution thang.

The U.S. spent $420.7 billion during FY2005 on "defense", but we're still fighting the War On Terror. Somehow I don't think some goon with a Glock 9mm is going to improve our chances, so our "militia" can stand down for the moment. And for those of you who cling to your 2nd Amendment:

"I need my gun to protect myself against a government that's infringing on my rights." First, if you fuck with the government that way, you'll get killed. Second, try voting.

"I need my gun to protect myself from criminals." Good luck with that. Chances are you'll shoot your kid when they're coming home late or they'll blow their own brains out by accident when they find your gun in the sock drawer. Nice.

"It's just my God given right." Yep. Jesus was a huge fan of firearms. Turn the other cheek, but then pull your gat and throw down. Son of God on the 187 tip, muthafucka.

Guess again.

I could spew all kinds of Bowling For Columbine stats and stuff, but it wouldn't make a difference in the end. A gun nut will always be a gun nut and a liberal pinko scumbag like me will always be a liberal pink scumbag.

But you can bet Lorena Lopez has no love for guns.

Various and sundry:

Various - DTS Volume 2
(that'd be my short hand for down tempo shit)

Various - Mighty Fist Of Funk
(another bizzaro world comp from the mangled mind of DJ Abstract)

Various - Elektronia II
(little bit o' this, little bit o' that)

Various - Lighted Apartment
(the sound of crickets writing glitch)

Various - Differing Dark Moods
(down with the doom from DJ Dubcrash)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Prayers for (not) rain

It is my sincere hope to be in Central Park this evening to catch the New York Philharmonic in all their esteemed glory. They'll be performing Wagner's Flying Dutchman Overture, Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole, and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. While I'm not familiar with the Lalo, I'm definitely looking forward to the Wagner (although a lot of people can't stand him) and the Tchaikovsky (who is universally well loved?).


The skies here in the abysmal pit that is Jersey City are threatening and the kind folks at are telling me that there's a 40% chance of rain tonight in Central Park. While I love classical music as much as the next guy, the idea of catching it in a torrential downpour holds less of an appeal.

So hopefully Mother Nature will see fit to allow me to get my orchestral on and, while we're not getting Maazel, I'm sure Zhang (the assistant conductor) will be worth the trip.

Definitely not in the Philharmonic's repertoire:

Opus III - Guru Mother
(trance your way into space)

LFO - Frequencies
(gotta have house)

Lush - Gala
(intense shoelace examination)

DJ Krush - Kakusei
(his kungfu is strong)

DJ? Acucrack - Sorted
(more for the four on the floor whore)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tick tock

So my official end date here at JPMorganChase is August 1st. Yep. Three weeks to find a new job.

It's been a strange experience. For the past three years or so, I've just been shifting from job to job within the firm, never coming close to running out of time. The extensions come without me having to even think about it. One almost forgets one is a consultant.

But all things come to an end.

I've spread my resume around and have had some bites off my Craigslist posting, but so far, there have been no fits. The problem is often knowledge based. My technical background is damned near unimpeachable, but these days employers can afford to be mad picky, insisting that you know the business side of things as well as the techie bits.

In short, I should go back to business school.

But I really don't want to.

I have had a promising bite from another group here at JPMC, but it's a question of how long the project will last (might just be a week or so; not really a help). Also, I'd be doing VBA programming again, which I enjoy but would not be my first choice of things to do. My heart lies with ASP and JavaScript nowadays.

I will, however, simply put myself in the kind hands of the Fates and hope for the best. In the meantime, if you're looking for an excellent web programmer, let me know.

One nice things about things being so light here right now is that I can do a lot of non-work related stuff, like these:

Building Castles Out Of Matchsticks
(a first stab at a site for a musical project from Anne Sulikowski, headhoncho of Worthy Records)

(a first stab at a site for my collaborative project with Princess Coldheart)

It's been fun futzing around with site design and builds, so I've been enjoying myself even when unemployment has begun to loom large.

Perhaps it's just time to simply realize my dreams of selling crack or stripping?

Will rock for food:

Immortal - Sons Of Northern Darkness
(gotta respect a band that makes their own weapons)

Onyx - Bacdafucup
(beware the madface invasion)

Electrostatic - Awake Alone
(poptech in its purest form)

Joseph Arthur - Come To Where I'm From
(heartbreak and joy for every girl and boy)

Austere - Eco
(who's up for a 79-minute blissout?)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Can I get a witness?

What a festive Sunday for me.

After a brisk (and very hot) bike ride to and then in and around Central Park, it was my good fortune to take in a lovely show at SummerStage, featuring The Royal Wylds, Citizen Cope, and The Blind Boys of Alabama. I was joined by several friends and we had a lovely afternoon.

I arrived first and was therefore the only one of us to catch The Royal Wylds. This wasn't such a bad thing for my friends, as The Royal Wylds weren't much to write home (or here) about. Straightforward folk-rocky stuff. A decent listen, but ultimately not very satisfying. I suspect this had more to do with my personal tastes than any musical shortcomings on their part. I'm just not that into those types of tunes.

Citizen Cope started off well with a thick, bass-heavy Marley-inspired tune. However, their set rapidly lost cohesion as they began to indulge in a bit too much jam band nonsense. Add to that the singer's uncanny vocal resemblance to Greg Allman and we're talking a recipe for personal annoyance. They really dragged on and on (Rebecca and I were practically in tears at certain points) and played an extra long set for some reason (although the show did begin at 3pm, so nobody was in a hurry). But in the end, we all managed to survive. Tasty food was had, as well as good conversation; a pairing which always makes that time go more pleasantly.

Then the Blind Boys took the stage and made it all worth it.

Incredibly powerful gospel inspired blues and rock with more than a pinch of Southern Baptist church fervor thrown in for good measure. All of us were swaying and bopping to the beautiful harmonies and stiff country two-step beats. It's the vocals, however, that put things in the stratosphere. Rumbling basses, sweet and light tenors, and a solid baritone section fill the entire sonic palette. It was like a prayer meeting without all the annoying God stuff.

Just great.

The Blind leading the rest of us.

So I hopped back on my bike with a smile on my face (and a song in my heart; oh, Jesus, that was lame...) and zipped back to Brooklyn. All in all, a fantastic day. Great music + 25 mile bike ride + lots of sun + women dressed for summer = happy Ben.

Seeing summer in a different light with:

Various - Cen'Art
(1 cup ambient, 1 cup glitch, 1 cup down tempo; shake until smooth)

Mick Harris / Eraldo Bernocchi - Total Station
(weirder, darker down tempo experiments)

Various - DJ C's Rubber Teeth Mix
(pump 'n' thump it up, rastabreaks style)

Various - Friendship Into Decadence
(a gift from the one and only Derek Rush)

Various - Don't Fuck With Us!
(just don't; you'll be better off; really)

Friday, July 08, 2005

In praise of friends

Sometimes I find myself feeling like an old guy. As an old guy, it's often difficult to drag myself out to stuff during the week, especially music events, which tend to start late and end early (the next morning). However, last night I managed to get out to see Smear Campaign play an early set at Kenny's Castaways.

Glad I did.

My friend Mike (aka Dubcrash) is a member of Smear Campaign, so it's his fault that I know about them. They played a great set, performing a variety of tunes.

Now, the band began as a pretty straightforward rock and roll combo, but with the addition of a keyboard and sampler player (that would be Mike), their sound has changed quite a bit. They incorporate elements of jazz, dub, swing, punk, and electronic. Quite a varied palate, really.

As musicians, all those involved are incredibly talented.

Their drummer is positively manic when it comes to laying down the faster stuff, but has an excellent touch and knows when to pull back on the more downtempo, laid back numbers. Likewise their guitarist, who revels in blistering solos, knows when to calm things down and do rhythm during the more dublike tunes.

The bass is always solid, but never boring. Bassists often are stuck with simple "pluck, pluck, pluck" routines, but not Smear Campaign. The bass is as integral to the melody as the vocals and guitar.

And the vocals are excellent. The band's singer is a tiny woman, yet she generates a sound that can swing from aggressive and threatening to soft and endearing. Enthralling, really.

Mike adds texture and beefs up the melody lines. There's just something about keys that adds a bit of zing to the standard rock and roll foursome. I know some folks don't like keyboards, but then again, some people liked Stryper. These are things we are just not meant to understand.

So next time Smear Campaign does a show, do yourself a favor and check them out. Worth the trip.

Helping turn my brain into mush:

Iron Halo Device - The Collapsing Void
(cut and paste and in your face)

Joe Colley - Anthem: Static For Empty Life
(dark ambient and noise; two great tastes etc. etc.)

Dimmu Borgir - Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
(worshipping Satan the old fashion way: screamin' about it)

Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty
(well, hello to you too)

Billie Holiday - Songs For Distingue Lovers
(the greatest female jazz vocalist ever; yes, better than Ella)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The more things change

London is beset again.

Harkening back to the days of the IRA at its most violent, bombs exploded in the transit system during the height of rush hour. Hundreds have been injured and the number of fatalities is as yet unknown.

Welcome back the senselessness of terrorism, Londoners.

As mayor Ken Livingstone said, "This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful. It is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers. It was aimed at ordinary working-class [people]."

Much the same as 9/11, much the same as what’s going on in Israel, much the same as what goes on in countless places around the globe every day.

This is violence with no ultimate purpose. Certainly fear can be an effective motivator and does bring attention to issues, but in the end, it simply compounds the violence and hatred. You attack us and kill our citizens, so we attack you and kill your citizens. Is there ever resolve?

One of the most difficult things about being a pacifist is the realization that it goes against human nature. For every levelheaded, nonviolent person, there are a hundred gun-toting crazies. For every Gandi, for every MLK, there are a hundred Jihad lunatics, militia madmen and KKK members. Deep in all of us (although very near the surface of far too many) lurks the caveman with his club and his "might-makes-right" attitude. Take what you want by force, regardless of consequence. Someone disagrees with you? Kill them and pave the way.

Simplistic, barbaric, and ultimately foolish and counterproductive.

I realize that a peaceful utopia is an unachievable ideal. However, I think if more people stopped to consider the far reaching effects of their actions, they'd be less inclined to do violence, for how can you reach your goals and establish your place in the world if a large percentage of it hates you?... short of wiping out every one who doesn't think the same way you do, which it sometimes appears is the actual goal of these people.

This type of violence is also inherently cowardly because of its anonymity. Since there is no face on which to lay the blame, because there is no recognizable responsible party to hold accountable, people will simply hate those who fits the stereotype. Anyone who looks even vaguely Middle Eastern now gets yet another additional dose of mistrust and suspicion from those around them.

And what's next for the Arab world?

Expect more military pressure from the West as George Bush gleefully draws parallels to 9/11. More bombing, more soldiers, more dead children, more maimed civilians, more death, more misery, more global hatred and fear of Muslims.

And less sympathy for what you believe in and no sympathy for those who believe in it.

Well done, you thoughtless brutes.

Just three of the people that now hate you the rest of the way.

Today’s suitably somber sonics:

Austere - Dark (Untitled) v1
(echoing, swirling dark ambience)

Austere - Dark (Untitled) v2
(dark ambient echoes and swirls)

Austere vs Stephen Phillips - Faded
(remixed, rethought remake of the epic classic, Fade)

Bowery Electric - Beat
(look! it's my shoes!)

Ministry - Filth Pig
('cause sometimes even I get angry)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Relative merits

For ages I was of the opinion that The Simpsons ruled the animated roost. They were, in my opinion, unassailable: smart and irreverent, excellent use of pop culture references, and all that good stuff.

But then... Enter Family Guy.

(Yes, I know I’ve been here before, but bear with me).

Perhaps it’s because The Simpsons seems to have lost some steam. Hell, it’s been on for SIXTEEN seasons. That’s like 300 in human years. Or perhaps it’s because I’m a complete degenerate with an evil, twisted sense of humor (a badge that I wear with beaming pride). Whatever the reason, I just find Family Guy more funny.

Like two mighty teams taking the field, it’s a question of personnel.

Peter vs Homer
Yes, both are blubbering idiots, but Peter’s bigoted, sexist view of the world makes for more of the funny. You can count on multiple "Jesus, I can't believe he just said that" moments from big Pete every episode. Yep, Homer's got his moments, too, but those usually involve him doing something stupid as opposed to offensive.

Trust me, offensive is funnier.

Lois vs Marge
While Marge can show a bit of the wacky, there's an underlying psychotic in Lois that occasionally erupts to the surface. Also, many of her offhand comments to Meg about how women should act towards men are just priceless. It’s no wonder Meg is such a mess.

Chris vs Bart
Chris’s complete lack of brain power again makes for more of the funny. Sure, Bart's a mischievous lil' scamp, but would he ever have a fight with a lamp because Homer told him it just smacked him? I think not. Score another for the FG posse.

Meg vs Lisa
This one's pretty much a draw. Both characters are the overlooked middle child, but Meg takes more abuse. Peter's complete disregard for her existence can put me in stitches more than Lisa's moping.

Stewie vs Maggie
Are you kidding?

Stewie vs Mr. Burns
A more apt parallel, don't you think? While Mr. Burns's Scrooge-esque greed and capitalist machinations are amusing... come on, folks; this is Stewie we're talking about. What's funnier than an infant with an evil brain, pure ego and a world conquering ambition? If I were to ever have a child, I'd pray every night for it to be Stewie.

Then there's Brian, who I could write pages about. His world weary attitudes remind me a lot of... me ("I don't know, darling. Should I hate him?" Sorry, wrong movie).

Add to this standout characters like Cleveland, Joe and Quagmire (aalllllright!) and you’ve got a tasty soup, no?

Me like a da sauce.

This blog entry does, however, completely eliminate any questions about my geekiness.


Sending the tiny hairs in my cochlea screaming in terror:

L7 - Smell The Magic
(fast and frightening)

Bit Shifter - Life’s A Bit Shifter
(think Mario Brothers with balls and a better senses of humor)

Plumbline - Pin Points
(cello glitch? sweet. sign me up)

Various - Rekall's Override Mix
(de drum and de bass set de pace...)

Various - Rekall's 33 Mix
(...all over de place)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Separated at birth PS

Is it just me or does Dennis Rader, the BTK guy, look like James Lipton?
I'm just sayin...

Magnificent Meat

Caught quite a show at Irving Plaza last night. On the bill: Dub Trio, Ming & FS, and Meat Beat Manifesto.

Oh, the tasty.

Dub Trio had their moments. When they were doing the dub thing, it was all good. Unfortunately, they did slipped into jam band wankiness more often than I would have liked. It was obvious on several occasions that they wished they were Bad Brains, but it wasn't even close. They rocked out now and again, which was a bit fun, but overall I'd rate them a pretty lukewarm.

Ming & FS mixed up a pretty wicked set, my only complaint being that they would switch vibes too quickly. I'd be maniacally thrashing about to some hard d&b and then all of a sudden they'd toss in a headnod vibe. While I like a variety of music with my DJ sets as much as the next goon, it was tough to get a really good groove going with all the change ups. Still, fun was had and sweat was shed.

Then Meat Beat took the stage about 11:15. Their opener?

"I Am Electro".

I knew immediately that we were in for a killer set...

They stormed through a bunch of my faves, including "Helter Skelter", "Radio Babylon", "She's Unreal", "Hello Teenage America" and a host of other MBM classics. The vibe was insane, almost every song beginning with a joyous bellow from the crowd once they recognized the tune. I danced like a madman and was (in typical fashion) shirtless within the first two or three songs. The crowd was also cool. Not at as packed as I'd expected (or hoped; Jack deserves everyone's worship), but that left mucho roomo to flail about.

Dangers and crew also laid down plenty of dub-inflected stuff, including some amazing interpretations of tracks off of Subliminal Sandwich. They played for over 2 hours, ending off with an incredible encore:

"House Of God" by D.H.S.

Ben Stokes, the mad brain behind Dimensional Holophonic Sound, is a member of the MBM touring band, so mad props to him for making this miracle happen. Bianca and I lost our damned minds (for about the hundreth time that evening) and stomped as if our lives depended on it. Just awesome.

So, sweaty, sore, and completely wiped out after close to 5 hours straight of nonstop dancing, I stumbled home around 1:30 this morning. Goodness, what a night.

I'm all happy now.

Genius Jack lays back

Saving the universe from boring tunes with my sidekicks:

3rd Bass - The Cactus Album
(Pete Nice, Serch, produced by Sam Sever)

White Zombie - Supersexy Swingin' Sounds
(retwisting the twisted)

Proswell - MP3 Compilations 1&2
(widereaching experimental electronic escapades)

Radiohead - Hail To The Thief
(still trying to wrap my head around this one; not their best...)