July 2003 Archives
I got some new CDs today, one of which made me laugh - the back had a disclaimer:
Every sound on this album is deliberate, and if you find some parts of this album are strange; it isn't because the music itself is strange, but because your conscious is ill-equipped to comprehend the sounds produced on this recording
The band (Sigh) get away with this bold statement simply because the work contained on this album (Hail Horror Hail) is amazing, cinematic avant garde black metal at it's finest. A proper review will eventually be forthcoming
However it reminded me of another label I'm quite familiar with "the modern noise makes modern people", these words grace stickers on more than half my CD collection. This is the motto of Melbourne based Modern Invasion Records, who have been importing quality music for many years.
The aforementioned Cathedral album Forest of Equilibrium was the first album I ever purchased to feature this distinctive triangle shaped red, black and yellow sticker.
Since then, many firm-favourites have featured this label: mostly extreme metal originating from Scandinavia. However in the 12 years since I started down this path, much has changed and I'm unsure if this motto is still as true, The Scandinavian scene is still producing quality music, but the raw freshness of innovation are long gone. I recall listening to early albums by Emperor and Immortal and thinking the wall of sound they produced was almost impenetrable. Nowadays, both bands have broken up and their music has become (at least to my ears) much more accessible.
This highlights I think an important rule of thumb in music, the difference between noise and music is about 3 years.
Was listening to some old but rarely played favourites today. At some point the playlist featured a good portion of the Cathedral album - Forest of Equilibrium.
Forest was a ground breaking work, despite being heavily rooted in worship of Black Sabbath's first album.
Released in 1991, Forest was also my first exposure to the genre that later became a firm favourite for most of the 90's - Doom Metal. This style melded the doom filled elements of early Sabbath with more modern metal techniques like growled vocals and down tuned guitars playing dirge like refrains in minor key modes.
Doom has a half brother in Stoner Rock, which instead reveres the more groovy, thick and occasionally psychadelic elements of Black Sabbath's sound.
During their career, Cathedral have spanned both genres, however their masterwork is Forest their first album which sits firmly in the Doom camp, with only the guitar solos hinting at the Stoner side.
Refreshed after leaving the seminal Napalm Death, Lee's vocals are untrained, raw, growled yet profoundly beautiful.
Lyrically, I'm not sure Lee has ever managed to top the themes he deftly explores on Forest, Dorrian systematically explores negativity, failure, disattachment, disappoinment, retreat whilst managing to juxtapose a slight glimmer of hope and positivity which just serves to strengthen the negative themes.
The fatality of optimism shall we not embrace but evolve into the actual with grace
You promised me laughter in autumn days, now I can't awake from this lucid haze, I can't awake to laugh with you, I'm so weary
Let me wander through buildings immense in their desolation
exemplify the lyrical line that runs through the album depicting a mother-lode of desperation.
The guitar work is also exemplary with Jenkins contributing much to the overall doomy air, occasionally he can't resist throwing in a groovy riff the basis of which would form the sound for later Cathedral, where Jenkins takes on the role of riffmaster general.
Production is stark and clear, showcasing the deliberate flaws in the vocal delivery and thick slow paced riffs, only the bass doesn't come through clearly.
A masterpiece that appeals to only a select populace who can see beauty contrasted in misery. This (and Bathory - Blood Fire Death) formed my first tentative steps into the underground metal scene.
I've been looking for a new mobile phone recently. All my previous phones have been from the Nokia business phone line - the 6x10 series.
This has made re-use of existing accessories simple but limited my access to the more fashion conscious consumer features some of which are actually useful like changeable cases.
I'm pretty rough with my gadgets and to be honest the biggest problem i've had with my current phone has been to do with the case having become damaged and as a result causing the phone to misbehave. Yes it's possible to order new cases through Nokia care or even buy cheap knock off cases, however as it's not designed to be user accessible, changing the case is not simple.
The business series phones have offered a better balance of features that suited me, without so many of the whiz-bang crap that filters into the pro-sumer range.
Looking at the current range of phone, it's obvious that durability is not a feature the phone manufacturers are interested in pushing. I guess they sell more phones if they are easy to break!
In addition, I'm famous for managing to hang up on people when pulling the phone out of my tom baker style impossibly full pockets. This despite the fact that only two buttons on my phone can hang up an incoming call.
Keeping all this in mind when shopping for a new phone, the choices are extremely limited, a couple of phones are designed to be robust but only offer very dumbed down feature sets. Many that offer some way of obscuring the keys whilst the phone is not in use have an extremely flimsy design. To top it all off, the largest range seems to be filled by pro-sumer phones which are filled with next to useless wow factor features
Discarding many trashy, poorly designed phones I eventually stumbled across a phone that managed to address almost all of my requirements. Housed in a metal case for strength, with a cleverly designed mechanism to cover the keys when not in use and featuring mostly the same set of business features I had previously become accustomed to. On the whizz bang front, it had colour screen, picture messaging and java support. The Java could be useful, but not with the small 130k memory offered by the phone.
Still I liked it; so I asked the question never asked by the pro-sumer base: "what's the outright price of this little beauty?"
With a wry grin the sales person responded: $1500
Ahh the price one pays for something that is both stylish and functional
I was in haymarket yesterday with Mum, amongst the hubub that is normal for the area. After doing some research/shopping (looking for a new mobile), was feeling low in energy and mum suggested we go to Bodhis for yum cha. Wandering over to the capitol complex, we found instead a Korean restaurant. Has Bodhis closed? Or just moved? I know it's had a few different homes over the years, and maybe it was getting too expensive to run the place.
Living so close to Green Gourmet, i've come to frequent it instead for all my vegan chinese eating. However Bodhis was a venerable institution for those who wanted to enjoy great vegan food. It would be a pity if it's gone.
Overshadowed by it's neighbours Norway and Sweden, the music of Finland doesn't get as much exposure - which is a pity as their music has a unique streak/sound.
Even the extremely isolated Iceland gets more mainstream mindshare, mainly thanks to Bjork.
Having never been there, it's hard for me to get beyond the fragments of stereotypes that I know about the country - land of the midnight sun, suicide capital of the world etc.
Like the rest of Scandanavia, Finland produces it's share of Extreme Metal, including the glorious Unholy, who produced what is arguably the best doom-metal album ever with Rapture. Not to mention Skepticism who redefine dirge with their totally unique brand of funeral doom.
Overall, Finnish extreme metal seems imbued with a different, bleaker yet more organic attitude than the output of Norway. Whilst searching for the inspiration behind this difference, I came across Tenhi.
Tenhi aren't metal at all, their approach takes in traditional Finnish folk elements, instruments and techniques and applies this to producing forward-looking mellow music. The end result is something that distills the pure essence of the finest doom into a beautiful sparse soundtrack for relaxation.
Distributed through German Label Prophecy Productions, a label more known for darker metal edged releases, their CDs are pretty much impossible to find in Oz. I however managed to track down some CDs via the excellent US mailorder store The End Records.
The best overall picture of the band is given by their most recent release: 2002's - Väre. Featuring a diverse range of instruments, some traditional (jew's harp), others decidely not (like the didgerioo) the only consistent theme is a serene bleakness that permeates the entire sound. This is an album and band that suits (nay demands) quiet introspection.
Despite songs around the 7 minute mark, the arrangements are excellent in that they make the complexity and shifting aspects of each piece seem deceptively simple and instead requires you pay attention to sheer beauty that is the whole.
This is magical music that draws on the earth-spirit of a region which is verdant in bleak and sparse natural beauty.
This looked interesting, one of those ancient oriental mysteries that western science is still trying to fully explain. Magic Mirrors
A week ago, I tried to be superman, it lasted about 3 seconds.
I'm still recovering from the resultant physical damage, although the skin is healing well, I suspect I have done some damage to my ribs.
The short story goes like this, went for a ride with some friends from work, rather than cross country as I was expecting - we ended up trying out a bmx jump track.
After getting up the courage, I ended up doing about 5 uneventful laps. With the day winding to a close, I decided to do one more lap, not sure what was different but I found myself hurtling towards the first jump a lot faster than before and despite trying my right foot was not clipping into the pedal. I went up the front of the jump and as i reached the crest - my rear suspension kicked the back of the bike up and I lost control.
I was thrown over the handlebars, hit the ground forehead first and then flipped over onto my back/left side whilst i slid down the back of the jump. Winded, groggy and shocked - I looked up to see my two mates running towards me as well as one of the teens who was a regular. This confirmed my own impression that it must have been a bad fall.
Suprisingly I was able to get up, and once I got my lungs filled with air again - I said I was okay.
In retrospect, i was lucky I didn't crack my skull or break my collarbone. Also, I'm extremely glad to have been wearing a helmet.
A week later, the abrasions are well on their way to healing, the bruising has all but gone but the pain in the ribs remains.
I doubt I'll be trying to imitate superman again for a while!
Finished reading the latest Harry Potter novel tonight.
Like my mother, I read it in less than a day, Rowling has a great writing style which pushes you to keep reading.
Not wanting to add to the fuss/marketing that surrounded the arrival of the book, I intended to hold off for a while before reading this new book. However during the week I was without anything new to read and stuck at home healing, so I picked up the 4th novel - Goblet of Fire. After re-reading that, I was even more interested in book number 5. So I got my hands on a copy and pretty much read it in two sittings, separated only by sleep.
The writing is very good, just as it has been for the past few books, plotting is impeccable with existing and new characters weaved into a complex and engrossing world.
Rowling's real achievement however is the new twists she manages to put on well established characters.
I was disappointed with the way the well reported killing off a major character was done, but the aftermath was handled extremely well.