Discussion in 'SBAF Blogs' started by MuppetFace, Dec 10, 2016.
Coming soon[er or later]
Dec. 16th, 2016
[ - Some sort of a beginning - ]
[ - Album of the week: Lemmings by Bachdenkel - ]
To quell any expectations of this being an artful introduction right from the get-go, I may as well say: I never quite know how to start these things off. But at least now you've got some weak metatextual irony to chew on, right? Just don't get all that cliche caught in your dental work.
To the point.
I'm opinionated, and I've got albums to recommend, though I'm not sure if this if going to be an "album of the month" or "album of the week" sort of thing. I guess it all sort of depends on how much other crap I feel like writing about in between selections. Also general life happenings. Those tend to be a thing.
So without further ado: the album for this month is one I discovered during a low point in my life, toward the end of my undergraduate days when I was abusing my body and mind. Amid that self-destructive downward spiral, certain albums and songs provided a soundtrack, a soundtrack that---for better or worse---always evokes painful memories of that time when I think about it to this day. Yet this stuff is too good to ignore. Maybe I like picking at scabs? And maybe we shouldn't forget sometimes.
Fitting then that Bachdenkel's Lemmings is an album about redemption, among other things. There's a rather esoteric spiritual core to this album, one that goes beyond the usual "love one another" sentiments that were dying out by the time the 70s rolled along and bands like Sabbath traded doves for bats. The recording itself was completed on the cusp of that decade, when the British band underwent their metamorphosis from U No Who and relocated to France to heed the call of prog. For whatever reason though the results wouldn't see the light of day until 1973, just on the tail end of that special year when everything good and amazing seemed to happen.
One of the album's high points for me is undoubtedly "An Appointment With the Master." With its stately guitars that convey a sense of God-sent urgency, its utilitarian but raucous percussion, and a gradually rising vocal tide that ends up cresting above the crown of your head, the track is like a majestic kick to the crotch unfolding in slow motion. The foot finally connects toward the end as the guitars let loose, and you're lifted upward, the tips of your toes disconnecting---if for but a moment----from the earth below. Serenaded by wailing prog virtuosity. I find myself left in a sort of fetal position as the waters recede to the call of shimmering cymbals, the track winding down as some sort of rebirth has clearly taken place.
The whole album is a prog rock masterpiece. Weird, aching, beautiful: tender and almost embarrassingly sincere at times, while at others it's completely aloof and unwilling to give up its inner most secrets.
I'll have to cut the poetic waxing short this morning. As I type this, I'm listening to the album in question on a Stax SRS-3100 system which I've really come to adore. The small SRM-252S amp is hooked up to an old Sony CD player. Ah, Redbook. Just like those college days.
Anyway, I've got Crimbus gifts to wrap, so I may as well make this a wrap.
What's the etiquette here? Are these blogs open for musing and discussions between entries from the blogger?
I would think it would be the same type of blog that MF had on Head Fi. They were open for discussion. If not I will gladly delete this post.
Mm.. what is prog?
By all means, feel free to comment and ask questions. You can treat this as an evolution of the "ask muppetface" thread.
Notice I left the first post blank. I plan on making an index with all my entries by date and subject, so even with lots of comments in between, you'll be able to find what you need in the future.
Prog is shorthand for "progressive rock."
It's like rock's weirder, more long-winded cousin.
Think of bands like King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Yes, Rush, etc.
Listening to King Crimson feels like listening to records that went ahead of time. Sometime I can't believe that Court's and Larks' were 1970s releases, brutally rock my ears while soothing them at the same time.
Also, Pink Floyd deserve a mention there, do they ? IMHO they are probably one of the most iconic, famed bands of the Prog era.
There are hundreds of awesome prog bands. I just listed four that immediately came to mind.
I mean I left out Magma, Comus, Zappa, The Alan Parsan's Project, Jethro Tull, ELO, Deep Purple, Soft Machine / GONG, Hawkwind, Captain Beyond, Flower Travelin Band, etc. etc.
Plus you've got Krautrock which is the German brother of prog.
And more synth-y stuff like Goblin. <3
And Emmerson Lake and Palmer, just thinking about them because lake just died a few weeks ago.
Haha, yeah. Actually, that's an inside joke among the prog fandom on the net. It's such an umbrella term for a lot of genres that many fans have subjective definitions of what it is. I usually take a looser road on defining what it is. Although symphonic prog is what I've been used to, I've gone through many others under the "prog" banner. I've posted on the Prog Rock Rebels thread (http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/prog-rock-rebels.359/).
Anyways, enough about me...
Oh, I didn't know that about Greg Lake... another great musician we lost this year.
Strange to think I saw King Crimson in concert on Dec 1, only days before their co-founder and first lead singer passed away :/
Thanks for the "Lemmings" recommendation @MuppetFace. I heard this album a looong time ago and hardly remember it. Will check it out again...
Dec. 31, 2016
[ - Looking back at 2016 - ]
[ - Looking forward to 2017 - ]
Twenty sixteen was a strange year for me: it was a year of definite highs and lows, but overall I come away from it with the feeling of stasis. Mostly I stayed home. Mostly I slept. Mostly I recovered. If 2015 was the year from hell, then 2016 felt like a purgatory of some sort.
It was a year of ghosts: traumatic memories of hospitals, my 23 year old cat calling to me from his garden grave right outside the window, and famous souls passing I didn't know but toward which I felt an affinity. The dead are quiet, but ghosts are anything but; they haunt the recesses of your thoughts, always on the perimeter of a memory or a blur among sensory data from the corner of an eye.
A few things to summarize:
I was the world's worst cinemaphile this year. I can't recall seeing any new films in theaters. I finally saw The Lego Movie and Zootopia on Blu-Ray? They were cute, though admittedly part of the impetus behind this was to expand my pitiful collection of Sony's new media. I'm still very much a DVD person, just as I was still very much a VHS person well past any reasonable period. Anyway. I wanted to see Dr. Strange and Toho's newest Godzilla reboot, but those will have to wait for another time.
Perhaps the most significant act of film liturgy for me recently was obtaining the Criterion version of Krzysztof Kieślowski's magnificent Dekalog, the greatest thing to ever come from Polish television. I assume. Really, @%20 Oddity would know more about that than I, but I'm going to go ahead and keep assuming regardless.
Best videogame of this year? Undoubtedly the new Doom. As someone who is more than a little obsessive over early 90s FPS games---in particular all things Doom---it gives me a veritable girl-boner to talk about it. I mean, this is a game that could have reeeeaaally not been all that great. Okay, it could have *sucked* something fierce and almost nearly did: originally Bethesda wanted it to be some kind of open-world military tactical thing? But it wasn't. And it didn't. Oh did it ever *not suck* something fierce. Instead, it elevated the single player FPS formula to a new level, a gruesome dance resulting from impeccable balancing of combat's ebb and flow. The environments, the soundtrack, the new lore.... everything centered around kicking copious amounts of demon ass, and nothing really detracted from that number one priority. Granted the upgrade system and stat investments seemed a bit tacked on, but they can be ignored easily enough if one so chooses.
That new lore though. I was surprised by how endearing it felt and how seamlessly it blended with the old bare-bones storyline, mostly enhancing what came before instead of trying to clumsily retcon everything. It also reversed the usual, tired trope: instead of the hero sealing away some ancient evil, it was an ancient evil that sealed away the hero. Because he was such a badass, the denizens of hell were scared of him. Demons told cautionary tales to their little demonettes, stories where the Doomguy was the boogeyman, so they'd behave and do their demon chores. When the monsters are screaming in the game, it's not because they're trying to intimidate you; it's because they're scared of you.
Oh yeah, some other games happened. Dark Souls 3 and The Last Guardian among them. I've talked about them elsewhere, so I don't feel all that compelled to continue here.
Music. Usually I'll hear somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 new albums in a given year, both new in the sense of their being new releases and new in the sense of their being new to me (having been released whenever). Again, for whatever reason it was a slow year for me: I think I heard around 200 tops, maybe? Instead of doing my usual "top 50" or "top 100," I'll just list a few *new releases* I heard this year that stood out to me (so keep in mind this is stuff released in 2016 only).
~ t h e l i s t ~
[ in no real order ]
Dalek - Asphalt for Edan
Aesop Rock - The Impossible Kid
Childish Gambino - Me and Your Mama
Death Grips - Bottomless Pit
Swans - The Glowing Man
Helms Alee - Stillicide
Alcest - Kodama
Tim Hecker - Love Streams
Clipping - Splendor & Misery
Sofia Reta - Bureau For Melon
Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
Run the Jewels - RTJ3
Kayo Dot - Plastic House on Base of Sky
Grave Miasma - Endless Pilgrimage
Gorguts - Pleiades' Dust
Kvelertak - Nattesferd
Motorpsycho - Here Be Monsters
Vanhelgd - Temple of Phobos
Anaal Nathrakh - The Whole of the Law
Graves At Sea - The Curse That Is
Church of Mosery - And Then There Were None
Earthless & Harsh Toke Split
Horseback - Dead Ringers
Danny Brown - Attrocity Exhibition
Tobacco - Sweatbox Dynasty
Rod Modell - Mediterranea
True Widow - Avvolgere
The Field - The Follower
Porches - Pool
Nothing - Tired of Tomorrow
Nadja - Sv
The Body - No One Deserves Happiness
Aluk Todolo - Voix
SUNN O))) - НЕЖИТЬ: живьём в России
Skullflower - The Magician
Our Love Will Destroy The World - Powers
Our Love Will Destroy The World - Mountainteeth
Varient - Sequential Sleep
I know I'm forgetting a bunch of stuff, right? But I honestly can't be assed at this point. It's 9:30 AM and I want to go play some Demon's Souls and have a breakfast of some sort. Musically speaking, my interest levels for various genres tend to come and go in cycles for what it's worth. I find myself gravitating toward noisier shoegaze and drone right now, stuff like Astrobrite, Skullflower, Birchville Cat Motel, Nadja, etc.
On that note, one of the big losses for me this year was not a particular musician, but a record store: Aquarius Records of San Francisco. I knew the owners on a semi-personal level, and they were always a source for more esoteric stuff. Artists like Campbell Kneale and Matthew Bower would always release many, many recordings in small batches, usually burnt to a CD-R or dubbed on a cassette, packaging almost always handmade. AQ Records was an excellent source for these kinds of releases. With them out of the picture however, it seems the aforementioned artists are using Bandcamp to release a lot of new material and stuff from their archives. As much as I miss the care that goes into producing small-batch physical artifacts, having a steady flow of accessible material is admittedly nice.
Also Bandcamp is just a great platform for discovering smaller artists. Occasionally said artists will even make a couple of cassette tapes if they happen across a box of blanks in their basement or something. Here's my admittedly neglected collection thus far:
~ o u t r o ~
Perhaps the best way to end this post is with a bit of optimism for the new year.
I'm definitely looking forward to the new Mass Effect---probably a bit *too much* for my own good---and titles like Resident Evil 7 and NiOH are definitely up there on the ol' hype list as well.
Looking forward to trying the Sonoma Model One e-stat system in addition to the Abyss Diana. Also looking forward to owning @n3rdling 's spectacular creation should he decide to put them into production. Not to mention the long-rumored new flagship amp from Stax this summer and *apparently* a new flagship for their 80th Anniversary (next year)?
For some reason I've managed to convince myself that writing a 10-way comparative analysis of stupidly expensive in-ear monitors is a good idea. This sort of thing is becoming increasingly rare for me cuz, to be perfectly honest, my heart just isn't that into it. But yeah, the IEMs in question are most likely going to be the: In-Ear P8, Oriolus 2, FitEar x2, KSE1500, Andromeda, EAMT-1C, Tralucent +5, W80, Zeus-R, and the Tia Fourté. So expect that sometime next year. Unless I have a nervous breakdown A/Bing this shit.
Last but not least (to me, at least): I'll be getting a pure bred Chartreux kitten early next year. My last cat, Maxx, lived to the ripe old age of 23. Which is like 120 or something in cat years? I got him for free from a nearby vet who discovered him in the alley behind the building. I know there are tons of needy cats out there, and most people I know have good experiences picking up a shelter cat, but I suppose this time I want to go a different route. No cat could ever replace Maxx for me, anyway. Mostly I've just always had a thing for "blue grey" cats like the Russian Blue and Chartreux.
So here's to 2017. To new cats. To new e-stats. To new galaxies.
To waking up from stasis.
I think that's a pretty fair assumption, since TVP has been steadily doing more dumb bullshit programming reductions since as far as I remember. Even on the so-called "culture channels". So movies made for TV ceased to be an actual thing in early '00s, instead being replaced with, uh, mostly old polish movies (because the new ones have a screening run of maybe 500 people at local film festivals and don't get released anywhere afterwards) and weird documentaries about people literally nobody has heard of.
I haven't actually watched it further than the first commandment, though, since concentrating (or paying attention (or being cursorily aware the thing's still on)) on a single thing for more than an hour is a titanic effort for me lmao.
That list will keep my busy in the office when I return to work next week! I'm looking forward to checking some new stuff. Thanks for putting it out there. And happy new year too.
As always, thanks for the list @MuppetFace. Looking forward to leaving my comfort zone and checking out some really obscure stuff.
(Btw, is it ok to post one's own list here? Can't bring myself to cut it down to fit the "Top 5 of 2016" thread lol)
Post what you like here, friend-o.
randomly found a sea foam green speaker amp. could this be muppetface's secret commision?
...without further ado, here's my favorite albums of 2016 list (top-rotation in bold):
Alexander Von Schlippenbach - Jazz Now! Live At Theater Gütersloh
Aoife O'Donovan - In The Magic Hour
Bent Knee - Say So
Brian Eno - The Ship
Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow - Andando El Tiempo
Case & Lang & Veirs - Case & Lang & Veirs
Childish Gambino - Awaken, My Love!
D. D Dumbo - Utopia Defeated
David Bowie - Blackstar
David Helbock With Raphael Preuschl & Reinhold Schmölzer - Into The Mystic
Deep Sea Diver - Secrets
Donny McCaslin - Beyond Now
Dr. Dog - The Psychedelic Swamp
Elliott Power - Once Smitten
Eveline's Dust - The Painkeeper
Fay Hield - Old Adam
Gogo Penguin - Man Made Object
Griffin House - So On And So Forth
Helene Grimaud - Water
Holy Esque - At Hope's Ravine
Hvide Sejl, Varg & F. Valentin - Brazil
If By Yes - Salt On Sea Glass
Jane Siberry - Ulysses Purse
Jeremy Flower - The Real Me
Jon Bryant - Twenty Something
Josephine Foster - No More Lamps in the Morning
Junius Meyvant - Floating Harmonies
Kayo Dot - Plastic House On Base Of Sky
King Crimson - Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind)
Lambchop - FLOTUS
Lanterns On The Lake - Live With Royal Northern Sinfonia
M. Craft - Blood Moon
M. Ward - More Rain
Marina Lima - Sissi Na Sua
Melanie De Biasio - Blackened Cities
Motorpsycho - Here Be Monsters
Nancy Harms - Ellington At Night
Natacha Atlas - Myriad Road
Natalia Sikora (Feat. Voo Doo Dog) - Buried Alive In The Blues
Nik Bärtsch's Mobile - Continuum
Paul Simon - Stranger To Stranger
Pete Yorn - Arranging Time
Pitts Minnemann Project - The Psychic Planetarium
Polica - United Crushers
Pristine - Reboot
Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
Richard James - All the New Highways
Rolf Kühn - Spotlights
Rosa Passos - Ao Vivo
Rusconi & Fred Frith - Live In Europe
Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop - Love Letter For Fire
Sarah Neufeld - The Ridge
School of Seven Bells - SVIIB
Shearwater - Jet Plane and Oxbow
Snowpoet - Snowpoet
Steven Wilson - 4 And A Half
Stick Men - Midori
Stranded Horse - Luxe
Suede - Night Thoughts
Tanita Tikaram - Closer to the People
Tedeschi Trucks Band - Let Me Get By
The Besnard Lakes - A Coliseum Complex Museum
The Cave Singers - Banshee
The Divine Comedy - Foreverland
The Gathering - Tg25 Live at Doornroosje
The Magnetic North - Prospect Of Skelmersdale
The Slow Show - Dream Darling
Theo Croker - Escape Velocity
Villagers - Where Have You Been All My Life
Big suprise for me last year was Autolux new album (Shoegaze, Indie Rock band from LA)
Strange album name, but nvm..
[To be Continued... ]
I knew I was forgetting some stuff:
Nicholas Jaar - Sirens
Machinedrum - Human Energy
Deathspell Omega - The Synarchy of Molten Bones
Antaeus - Condemnation
Prolly a ton of other metal I liked that I'm forgetting, too.
Separate names with a comma.