Before I start to gush about The Sight Below I think Alan Kellman from Allmusic Guide nailed the description perfectly: “The work of an anonymous Seattle-based producer with an evident affinity for the outer realms of shoegaze and somber ambient techno, Glider would have been an equally easy fit on Kranky, like label staple Loscil, or an idealized version of 4AD that has maintained the line running through the darker and spacier aspects of their early catalog. Alternately, this is just as likely to evoke the absorbing gray moods present throughout the Cure’s Faith and Seventeen Seconds as thaw-out techno like Yagya’s The Rhythm of Snow or Markus Guenter’s In Moll. Though heavily processed, caressingly foreboding guitars are a major component of the Sight Below sound, the root is Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas releases — whether or not a muffled thump is present, rhythm is paramount. Lesser producers would ride out these tracks for eight or nine minutes, rather than the six-minute average here; this producer keeps things tight and ever-developing, never straying into formlessness.”
The Sight Below – Life’s Fading Light[audio:fading.mp3]
Slowdive – Melon Yellow[audio:melon.mp3]
Au Revoir Simone – Backyards Of Our Neighbors[audio:au.mp3]
The Sight Below – Further Away video
One testament to the success of Shepard Fairey’s iconic (and nearly ubiquitous) Obama poster is the sheer number of spoofs that have turned up since he created the now famous image. The Village Voice has compiled a rather comprehensive collection of them; some are good natured jabs while others come off a bit more incendiary. Either way, it’s an interesting look at the flip side of the veritable phenomena and centerpiece of a revolution in the visual communication and branding of election campaigns. I particularly like the Mad Magazine take pictured above; as a kid I obsessively collected every issue I could get my hands on and it’s great to see them still at it. Link
Ahh the uphill battle that is releasing electronic music and trying to explain to uninformed fans and even friends that its not all the same 4/4 club music.
It is difficult to attract new fans to the hidden gems of the genre, there is so much good music that comes out weekly that gets buried under mediocre mainstream releases; the gelled up DJs, and the gimmicks that don’t age well. With “No New Enemies Vol. 1” we’ve assembled some up and comers that have strong melodic crossover tracks from the past, present, and future releases on Moodgadget. We think this is our finest attempt to date to show the diversity in this genre’s sound.
Slow disco edit experts Worst Friends kick the compilation off with a psychedelic rock/disco jam that begs the question “What if Pink Floyd made a dance track?” Charles Trees drops in with a dusty, heavy sample-laced track that is both soulful and upbeat; conjuring up the good times.
I know i’ve filled this blog with Benoit Pioulard but here he offers a serenade over a snowy Direwire’s song from the past, a real enjoyable headphone listening piece.
Tstewart’s, “What’s This Color” is new folk at its finest; with bouncy circular guitars, and samples warm enough to take the place of your winter coat in the coming months.
Also, not to be overlooked but Alex/HeadUp did the cover for the compilation and Scott was kind enough to let me take up a whole post to share these exclusive songs on the blog with you guys, I hope you enjoy.
Worst Friends – Pillows Of Wind[audio:pillows.mp3]
Charles Trees – Memories[audio:cmemories.mp3]
Direwires – Oh, Her (Benoit Pioulard’s Serenade)[audio:ohher.mp3]
Tstewart – What’s This Color[audio:thiscolor.mp3]
As you may have already guessed, I caved in and got a new Macbook Pro (MKII, Unibody….whatever it’s called) last weekend. Since there’s no sense in beating around the bush with this one, I’ll come right out and say it: This is possibly the most beautiful, functional, and elegant piece of hardware I have ever owned (or been in the same room with for that matter). Obviously it’s a looker, there’s no denying the aesthetic appeal; it feels as if you’re in the presence of some artifact transported back from the future. It’s almost impossibly thin and the weight is perfectly balanced, it feels almost like a solid brick of aluminum. The most incredible part is the power hiding beneath that sleek skin, it’s hard to believe Apple crammed it all into this svelte form factor. I think the real key to the success of this design is the fact that it feels and looks like one solid object. All laptops I have used until this point sort of felt like a loose collection of disparate components shoehorned into a flimsy shell. The new Macbook feels like a single unit; a rugged, seamless, integrated tool. As it should, the body is carved from a single piece of aluminum.
The battery life is also great, I have been squeezing around 4 hours out of a single charge which blows away my previous HP laptops. I Would have to say my favorite part though is the new trackpad. It’s huge, lacking a button (actually, it’s just one big button), and very responsive. The gestures are genius: four finger gestures activate expose functions, three fingers handles navigation (fwd, back, etc..) and the old two finger scrolling is intact. This is the first laptop I’ve used where I wasn’t constantly wishing for a mouse. The keyboard is great too, very nice tactility with a solid feel. A great improvement over previous versions in my opinion. Bottom line: Believe the hype, this thing is a winner.
Ok, so enough gushing, everyone knew the new Macbook Pro was going to be an amazing machine before it even came out. It does have two potentially major weaknesses, and while they pale in comparison to the upshots, I feel compelled to list them here in case any are deal breakers for those of you considering buying one. First up: the infamous glossy screen. A lot of people have lamented the death of the matte screen option which was available on the previous incarnation of the MBP. But to tell you the truth, it really doesn’t bother me like I thought it would (and kind of gives me a nostalgic feeling for my old CRTs). The glossy screen was originally a deal breaker for me, I was planning to wait until they released a matte version (which is supposedly in the works) as my previous HP gloss screens were absolutely terrible. But after comparing the new MBP with an old matte MBP, I definitely prefer the new screen. Given, it is an LED so the brightness and contrast are better than the old LCDs to begin with, so perhaps a matte version of the new LED would win out in the end. But honestly, this has turned out to be a non-issue for me; I have yet to encounter a lighting situation in which I had a big problem with glare. I took a shot of the MBP doing it’s best mirror impression (below). Keep in mind that the screen was turned off for this picture and I was running some very bright photo flood lights, so it really amplifies the effect a bit more than a normal usage scenario. That shiny screen is a fingerprint / scratch magnet though, I can’t imagine it still looking very pretty in a year or so.
Next up is Apple’s new Mini Display Port format. It’s a very, very small port that handles all of the video output duties on the new Macbook. I’m all for innovation and moving forward, but this seems like too much too soon. It also seems like Apple is just trying force it’s customers to adopt it’s own, proprietary format. My issue with the Mini Display Port isn’t that I had to buy $100 in adapters just to make it work with my existing equipment (although that wasn’t exactly a plus), my problem is that, for the time being at least, there is no TV out for the Macbook Pro. The old full-sized DVI ports had four analog pins that allowed for an S-Video or Composite adapter to be used. Even the mini-DVI ports, which would have fit fine in this new form factor, supported analog output. You might say that S-Video and Composite are old formats and worthy of deprecation in this day and age, but a lot of video professionals still rely on these formats for live performance. For most VJs, DVI or VGA just isn’t an option as a lot of venues don’t supply them on stage and most video mixers still run off S-Video/Composite only. I know this isn’t an issue that will effect the masses (clearly who Apple are shooting for), but the word “Pro” does appear at the end of this laptop’s name and I’d expect it to have all the “pro” features included. And even if you aren’t a pro, it’s always nice to be able to hook up to an older (sans-HDMI/DVI) TV in a pinch. I was really caught off guard by this issue since at the time of purchase I was told that TV out was possible and the nice salesman even sold me a TV-out adapter (which of course didn’t work considering It’s only compatible with the old MBP. Something I didn’t learn until I got home). There is hope though, I read somewhere that the new Nvidia chip does support analog out, it’s just a matter of Apple taking advantage of this ability and offering an adapter. But since they don’t currently offer such an option, I’ll have to go plunk down another $100 for a TV scan-converter which will further degrade the already poor S-Video/Composite signal I’m trying to output. (See Peter Kirn’s Create Digital Motion article for more info on alternatives to TV-out on the Macbook.) And if all that’s not enough, those who invested in Apple’s flagship 30″ Cinema display have to purchase yet another $100 adapter just to make Mini Display Port work with their monitor. So to sum up, that’s a potential $300 extra just to get your shiny new Macbook to play nice with all your existing gear/formats. (And that’s not counting a Firewire 400 adapter.)
Obviously, neither of these relatively minor issues were enough to turn me off to this otherwise incredible machine. But I guess when I see something so near perfection and the only things holding it back are such simple fixes, I tend to fixate on those problems. The bottom line is that this is a huge leap forward in mobile computing and would serve any creative well. $2000 gets the base model and $2500 will get you the beefed up version (4GB ram / larger HD / 512MB vram). The student discount will knock off around $200.
So what say you? Anyone else scored one yet? Any thoughts / issues? Sound off in the comments.
Well composed ambient music with dynamics always brings a smile to my face no matter how sad people think the song might be. I want to start from bottom to top on this post since this Pub song “Lunch” is the most listened to song on my iTunes with just over 100 plays and clocking in at under 17 minutes long. I don’t know much about Pub, i’ve emailed him a couple times telling him I was a big fan years ago but I think he just keeps to himself I guess which is fine. I’ve honestly never heard anything else like this song, he makes this sound that fluctuates thru the song that feels like your standing in a clear huge air tunnel with the sun just beating down on you thru the glass and you stand there taking on a clean 30 MPH wind with your eyes closed. If you want more by him I’ve posted another alias of his months ago where he went under the name Lucky & Easy.
I went to the label Mush to check to see if Bibio was releasing anything anytime soon and behold there it was, a new LP. They had one song to sample and it couldn’t be more beautiful, a bit short but i’ll take whatever I can get my hands on. Very similar to his sound on his last 2 albums but thats what I want from him; lo-fi folk songs that bring me back to daydreaming about Polish mountain sides, collecting rocks, and thinking about how crayons we’re made.
My friend Danny turned me onto The Innocence Mission when I was getting my first listen in on Sufjan Steven’s Come on Feel the Illinoise! album. The song “John Wayne Gacy Jr.” came on and he ran upstairs and yelled “what’s this rip off artists name?” He thought the songs sounded the same, I still to this day don’t hear it. I guess he was just very protective of The Innocence Mission.
All this time I thought I already posted this Ekkehard Ehlers song but haven’t instead I was actually going to post Yo La Tengo – Autumn Sweater but i’ve already done that, damn. This song just completely satisfies my ambient sweet tooth by offering up some of the richest layers of drone you’ll ever hear. Each time I listen to this song I find a new section to magnify and listen to over and over.
As Autumn is rolling thru I have to throw my ring in with the first winter themed song by French musician Domotic, the beginning really captures that frigid winter night snowshoeing by yourself and wondering why on earth anyone would do this for fun.
Domotic – Smith, Klaus & White[audio:domotic.mp3]
Ekkehard Ehlers – Plays Cornelius Cardew 1[audio:ehlers.mp3]
The Innocence Mission – The Lakes Of Canada[audio:mission.mp3]
Bibio – Mr. & Mrs. Compost[audio:mrbibio.mp3]
Pub – Lunch[audio:lunch.mp3]
This 13 min. journey by DFA’s most unrated duo is a pure analong synth gem, just let it ride out. When IDM producers slowed down some of the best composers of melody started quiting o9 and Marumari we’re 2 of my favorites, this track was only available if you bought the Marumari remix CD then you had to find the files that we’re on the CD, it came with some real treats like remixes from Casino Versus Japan, Atomly, Kettel, Greg Davis, Lusine, etc. Superpitcher always comes with such fullness, his style of taking techno and stretching and pulling on it to the point its almost made for everyone and the use of bird sounds is unbelievable in this track “You Don’t Need A Weatherman”. I don’t know much about Shogun Kunitoki I just know that this song has been on my computer for a long time and I keep coming back to it, i’ve heard more by them and some of their labelmates and everything was pretty flawless, enjoy the weekend.
Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom – Black Spring[audio:delia.mp3]
Marumari – Untitled (o9 remix)[audio:o9.mp3]
Carsten Jost – You Don’t Need A Weatherman (Superpitcher Remix)[audio:jost.mp3]
Shogun Kunitoki – Tropiikin Kuuma Huuma[audio:shogun.mp3]
I have been searching for some time now trying to find high res versions of Troxler’s work to post. So far I’ve come up empty handed and consequently I’ve decided to just post the small versions available directly from his site. For the uninitiated, Niklaus Troxler is a Swiss born designer (and also the organizer of the Willisau Jazz Festival) who now teaches at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. Visit his site for more information and images. Very, very inspirational stuff.