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Archive for the ‘Batman’ Category

esqSOUNDTARCK: VOIVOD-Dimesnion Hatröss (1988).

hatrossDimension Hatröss takes the advances from Killing Technology and moves them even further into craftsmanship and prog excellence.  In the Killing Technology band photo and in this one, Blacky had shaved part of his head—which was pretty outrageous for a metal band in the late 80s.  It’s just a small visual showing how the band was different from other metal bands.

It also opens with some interesting sounds—a swirling noise that coalesces into a fantastic solid heavy riff—a confident metal riff that is more sophisticated than most of their output already.  And then a cool noisy chord from Piggy lets you know that this album is going to be…different.  And so it is, a wonderful mix of metal and prog rock chords (and long songs)  all used as the background of a sci-fi story of The Voivod.  The dissonance is amazing on the album—Piggy is playing chords that seem like they shouldn’t come from a guitar.

“Tribal Convictions” is a little less harsh than “Experiment” and you can really hear Snake has been honing his singing skills.  There’s even multiple tracks of vocals (including a deep voice singing along on this track).  And there are so many different sections—and the first that stands out on the album is Piggy’s echoed guitars just before the “who’s the God” section.  Or the repeated chords that open the fantastic “Chaosmongers”—sounding for all the world like electronic malfunction.  And yet for all of the experimentation, the songs are still heavy—the chorus of this song is very fast and full of Away’s noisy splash cymbal.  My favorite parts comes at around 2:15 where Piggy plays these great fast chords and Blacky plays a very cool accompanying bass line.  Indeed, Blacky’s bass sounds great on this record.  And when that riff repeats later in the song, it’s followed by a great concluding section.

“Technocratic Manipulators” is a fast heavy song—a very traditional sounding metal song until the “that’s not for me” comes in with a  huge time change that last… for one measure.  I love how the song ends with a repeated section of “I’d rather be…” until the final line, “I’d rather…think.”

Then comes one of my favorite Voivod songs with the awesome title “Macrosolutions to Megaproblems.”  It opens with some increasingly dissonant chords, but also features some loud chanted singalong sections followed by a ringing guitar solo that sounds like a siren.  All within a few seconds of each other.  It also has the thoughtful bridge, “You better shake up your mind, coz if you’re just staying blind, integrity you won’t find.” And another super cool dissonant chord sequence on the high notes of the guitar—I don’t know how Piggy thought of these sequences.  Just to top it off, the ending sequence is a series of descending chords, each one odder than the last.

“Brain Scan” has a cool riff at the end of each verse that is actually surprisingly major chord bright—amidst the chaos of the rest of the song (more great bass from Blacky and some crazy sounds of a brain scan—Snake’s voice processed?).  “Psychic Vacuum” is one of the songs where I have to wonder how they can switch to different sections so fast.  “Cosmic Drama” opens with a distant echoic riff and then nothing but heaviness.  And yet it keeps up that sci-fi experimental feel.  This is one of the great heavy metal records of the 80s.  technically brilliant playing, odd time signatures and yet still some really catchy music.

The CD has an addition of the Batman theme song.  It’s a very odd addition and has no place on the record, but I’ve always liked it because it is so weird. (It’s also only 1:45).

[READ: August 29, 2013] “Nirvana”

I was apprehensive about reading this story because I tend to dislike Esquire fiction. But Adam Johnson won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Orphan Master’s Son (which I haven’t even heard of), so I figured this must be better than the male bonding stories that usually appear in Esquire.

And so it was.

This also happens to be the second stories about a virtual reality President that I’ve read in a few days.  How about that.

So this story is set in some kind of future.  And in this future the President has been assassinated (and has been dead for three months).  The story seems like it is set in the near future (so I kept imagining Obama as the dead President and I wonder if others do too).  But something is odd, because the protagonist has been whispering to the President (and evidently the President is talking back to him).  However, what’s more significant to the narrator is his wife. (more…)

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grantlandSOUNDTRACK: The xx–Live at KEXP (July 25, 2012).

I xxkexphave casually seen The xx on a few shows and I’m intrigued by them.  I’ve never really given their albums any time though, so I can’t say anything much about them.

However, I really enjoy the sound they get live (which is funny since in the article below they talk about how much of a perfectionist Jamie, the studio tech guy, is about the recordings).

This set from KEXP (KEXP always has great audio quality) contains four songs “Fiction” “Reunion” “Sunset” and “Angels.”  And I have to say the band sounds amazing.  So close, so clean, so intimate.  Oliver’s voice is right there, whispering in your ears, and Romy’s guitars sound gorgeous–gentle vibrato, chiming chords; her voice is also beautiful.

The thing that throws me about The xx is how spare their music is.  Sometimes it’s almost like there’s no music at all. And I keep thinking of reasons why I wouldn’t enjoy such simple music (it’s usually not my thing). Or that it should only be experienced in a dark room by yourself.  But the melodies are so beautiful that I think they’ve made a convert of me.  I really adore these songs.  And I must have heard “Angels” somewhere because it is completely familiar.

I wonder if they sound this good on record.  You can watch the show here:

[READ: July 9, 2013] Grantland #5

Grantland continues to impress me with articles about sports that I don’t care about.  They style that the writers have (and the humor they impart) is wonderful.  And it goes to show that if you are passionate about something you can make it interesting to anyone.  So, even if I don’t know who some of the people who they’re talking about are, I can still enjoy what they say about them.  Plus, their entertainment coverage is really fun, too.

BILL SIMMONS-“Battle of the Olympic Heavyweights”
I really enjoyed this article which compares Olympic swimming and gymnastics to see which one “wins” in this battle for TV coverage and the hearts of Olympic fans (hint: it’s gymnastics, but Simmon’s categories are very good).

BRIAN PHILLIPS-“The Death’s Head of Wimbledon”
Phillips tries to cover Wimbledon and finds it very difficult to manage because it is all designed for TV, not in person coverage.

REMBERT BROWNE-“I Feel Like a Free Man”
The amazing decision of Frank Ocean to come out and how little it impacted his career. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HELLOWEEN-“Halloween” (1987).

Back in the late 80s, I loved Helloween–they played speed metal, they had intricate solos, and they were German–what’s not to love?  Oh, and also, they were quite funny, with their little pumpkin mascot.

In 1987, they released The Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1, a concept album (hooray), with this song as the 13 minute centerpiece.  They also released a “radio friendly” version that’s about 3 minutes long.  How do you eliminate ten minutes of a song?  Take out some verses, some riffs, a whole middle section of vocals, a cool section that sounds like Queensrÿche, a little spoken word section and a whole lotta solos.  Surprisingly you do get the essence of the song, just none of the theatricality.

So Helloween are still around, although I gave up on them after the sequel to this album (Part Two) which really didn’t live up to the majesty of Part One.

But this song is fun and whether you choose the 13 minute or the 3 minute version, Happy Halloween.

[READ: November 7, 2012] The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror #18

Yes, that’s right, I read this after Halloween!  Hurricane Sandy means I can throw convention to the wind until I catch up.  Sarah bought this for me before Halloween, but I didn’t really feel like reading it on Halloween, so here it is.

Unlike in the TV show, this Treehouse of Horror has four stories!  The first thing you have to get used to in Simpsons comics is that the characters don’t look like the ones on TV.  This is deliberate–they get different artists to draw the pages, so the artist’s own style comes in.  The characters are obviously The Simpsons; it’s amazing how many liberties can be taken with icons and have them still be recognizable.

The first story is a parody of Evil Dead.  Homer takes the family to a cabin in the woods where Henry K. Duff created the secret recipe for Duff beer.  But when the recipe is read aloud…the spirit of the beer possesses the family.  This story is actually kind of gruesome, although my five-year old enjoyed flipping through the pages.  The twist at the end is completely unexpected and wonderful. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: R.E.M. “Superman” (1986).

Even though R.E.M. is all about Michael Stipe, “Superman” is one of my favorite R.E.M. songs.  I know it’s a cover, and I know the lyrics are kind of dumb, but there’s something about Mills’ singing voice that I love (I often think his backing vocals are the strongest parts of R.E.M. songs).

Stipe didn’t like the song and refused to sing lead.  This gave Mills his debut lead vocal appearance.  You can hear Stipe in the background–he sounds great, too.  A total throwaway song that is awesome.

By the way, the original by The Clique, which I never listened to before, is very strangely clipped in the vocals.  I was sure that the band was not American by the vocal delivery, but apparently they’re from Austin.  Huh.

I know I should have picked Voivod’s cover of “Batman” for this post, but how creepy is that R.E.M. cover?

[READ: July 21, 2012] “The Only Human Superhero”

I have it in my head that I might one day read all of Jonathan Lethem’s works.  Although I’m not all that sure I like him that much. (There’s so many Jonathan’s writing, I can’t keep track of who I like).  He has 18 entries on this blog (although I see that none are for his novels).  Nevertheless, I  must like him pretty well.

Anyhow, this article is a one page thing about Batman The Dark Knight.  This was written before the terrible, horrible, unimaginable tragedy in Colorado, so there is no insensitivity about it. (more…)

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