Monday, October 16, 2006

That X Flavor

There are some bands and musicians that play music that has a kind of feel or 'flavor' too it. Sometimes it is delicious.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela are 2 guitarists that add that delicious latin flavor to exciting rhythm and melodic guitar excersizes that are as innovative as they are fun. Their dynamic playing personalities come through in the form of technical ability, a bit of that latin flavor, and beating the shit out of their guitars.

Rodrigo y Gabriela - Tamacun

Rodrigo y Gabriela - Diablo Rojo
Rodrigo y Gabriela - Stairway To Heaven

There are other bands that have a more "party" flavor. The kind of band that makes one want to jump around and have a good time. A combination of happy 70s sunshine rock, funk, hip-hop, with an interesting use of a couple of samples, some great harmonica solos, it sounds like a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack having a crazy fun party time. The Go! Team is a barrel of fun.

The Go! Team - Panther Dash
The Go! Team - Junior Kickstart
The Go! Team - Bottle Rocket

Additional Links:
Radrigo Y Gabriela Site
The Go! Team Site

Monday, October 09, 2006

Modest, mouse colored folk

These tracks range from fairly recent, to mid-90s old, from a band most are by now well acquainted with. A good friend got me into them around the release of The Moon and Antarctica, and I've been off and on with them ever since. Theirs is a growth and development in sound that, I think, seems more sideways than forwards or backwards. They've certainly changed since these few tracks. And increased popularity has correlated to change, for them. But I find earlier Modest Mouse speaks to me more personally. Maybe you do, too?

Modest Mouse - 'Dramamine'

Modest Mouse - 'Never Ending Math Equation'

Modest Mouse - 'Here It Comes'

Modest Mouse - 'Other People's Lives'

Modest Mouse - 'So Much Beauty in Dirt'

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Am the Upsetter

What's in a sound? It's something like that boom booming of the rhythm and the beat beat of the pulse. The chop of the skank and the flow of the voice, oh so smoothe and indiscreet, a primal feeling that resonates with the limbs and the mind. One big drum, skin drawn taught by social pressures, ready to let loose in one big release.

The roots of the reggae sound find themselves beneath the political rollers and musical whirlpools of the 1960s. For the likes of Desmond Dekkar, Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals, the Skatalites, and many others, including avid crowds of fans in Great Britain the new sound that emerged was different from the rest. Producers like Coxsone Dodd at Studio One, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, and King Tubby helped to cultivate and spread it. Its realm of association has come to include many names, with ska, dub, dancehall, and reggae being amongst them. Despite their notable differences, each name bears some similar connotations. That strong offbeat skank and those wailing singers. That soul and that beat to connect to.

Burning Spear - Sneakmove
Desmond Dekkar - 'Fu Manchu'
Lee 'Scratch' Perry and the White Belly Rats - Panic in Babylon
Toots and the Maytals - 'Funky Kingston'
Lee 'Scratch' Perry - 'Scratch the Dub Organ'
The Skatalites - 'Skaraven'
Lee 'Scratch' Perry - 'The Upsetter'
The Upsetters - 'Live Injection'
The Skatalites - 'Garden of Love'
Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley - Move!
Desmond Dekkar - 'Music Like Dirt', a la link from the side bar, airs a wonderful set of Jamaican beats every Saturday from 9am - 12pm. It's called Positive Vibrations, and you can access it either by using the live radio streaming feature, or accessing their streaming archive. Well worth your time when you're feeling the beat.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Close your eyes and begin to relax. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. As I count back from 10 to 1 you will become completely relaxed.

10. Sometimes there comes a song so beautiful, yet simple, that it cannot be just ignored. The subtle beauty draws you in and holds you there, in a warm little place, just feeling content. Or perhaps, it brings you to tears. 9. Sometimes a sweeping dramatic string melody atop a lovely piano counter melody brings life into focus.

8. The Album Leaf - The Outer Banks

Imagine the soft trickle of a stream in a beautiful woodland area. 7. The autumn wind rustles teh autumn leaves while the sunlight pans through the bare branches. Gentle cold breezes push your clothes against you.

6. The Album Leaf - Shine

The keys are stroked, a somber melody is played and the room goes dark. A gust of wind through the window brushes the curtains outwards. 5. The moon shines in, spilling white light all over the floor. Cool and calm, drift... drift...drift.

4. Agalloch - The Misshapen Steed

A lizard scampers across the sand in the waning moon as the earth turns from blue to orange. 3. A single voice draws one to a deep pool. Fall. Drift. Sleep.

2. Elfonia - Eldalinale

Before you is an endless sea of stars. Two shine brighter. Looking into the eyes of the universe.... find the peace you seek.

1. Motoi Sakuraba - Rena of Arlia Village

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Shut up, I'm dreaming

"'It was a great evening,' said Thomas.

'I'm glad to hear it,' said Jesus.

Then they were silent for a while. Downstairs, Louis Armstrong played his trumpet.

'Jesus?' asked Thomas.

'Yes, Thomas?'

'Can you help Papa?'

'I am afraid not.'

It was a pity, but Thomas understood that some people are hard to redeem. You couldn't ask the Lord Jesus for the impossible.

'Do you think Eliza will wait for me?'

'I would think so.' said Jesus.

'Is it scary when she takes her leather leg off?'

'Of course not,' said Jesus. 'You've faced worse things.'

That was true. In his young life, he had already seen quite a few scary things. A bottombiter, Granddad's artificial teeth, a wooden spoon, a swollen nose, a carving knife, and a woman with outboard teeth. And even so, he was going to be happy later.

'Because I am going to marry her, you see,' said Thomas.

The Lord Jesus put a hand on his head and said, 'You have my blessing.'

Then Thomas fell asleep and Jesus ascended to heaven.

The angels were waiting for him anxiously, heaving deep sighs.

'How are things with Thomas?' one of them asked.

'Yes, how is he?' at least a hundred others asked him in unison. They were all hopelessly in love with him, you know.

'He will be alright,' said Jesus.

'Are You going to call him to You soon?' asked a pitch-black angel. 'I would so much like to play trumpet for him.'

'No,' said the Lord Jesus. He smiled. 'Anyway, none of you would have the slightest chance with Thomas.'

'Why not?' the angels asked, appalled.

'None of you has a leather leg that creaks when you walk,' he said.

That was too much for them. Every single one of them was extraordinarily beautiful, but none had a leather leg. You can't have everything."

--from the end of The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer

Sunset Rubdown - 'Shut Up I am Dreaming of Places Where Lovers Have Wings'

This track is from the wondrous Daytrotter archives. In travelling between shows, bands happen across Daytrotter's Rock Island, Illinois stuidios, and they leave behind gems like this in their wake. Rubdown is itself one of many side projects that includes the oft-mentioned Spencer Krug, who is better known for his singer/songwriter/keyboardist role in Wolf Parade. Their sound makes me stop and listen. Makes me want to cherish the leather legs of my lovers.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Birds to Fly, You & I

When fall rolls around, all I want to do is cuddle up with a good book, a cup of java, and a cozy wool sweater. Music fades in and out of my perception, along with the sound of rain rolling off the skylight. After all of the brittle leaves have turned to mush, music is my shield against the grey and the rotten, the decrepit and the decaying, the dingy and the tarnished. This is my sound track. It's eclectic, drawing from the roots of Etta James, John Coltrane and Louis Armstrong, and flowering to the young innocence found in La Cha-Cha, Devotchka, and Bears.

Spider Silk Dress- "Too Bright"
Bears- "Over It"
John Coltrane- "Naima"
La Cha-Cha- "Papercuts"
Louis Armstrong-"Black and Blue"
Devotchka- "Lunnaya Pogonka"
Etta James- "Trust In Me"

Rock Opera Revival Pt 2: Side Projects! What?

Hello again kiddies. I am back with more things about the great Arjen Anthony Lucassen and his many projects that encompass many genres. First, more of the same, and then, SO MUCH SIDEPROJECT. Okay, not really so much.. but a little bit. Also, some of these files are in .mpc format. If you use winamp, you can find various plug-ins to play these files from winamps plug-in website. Just google .mpc files and your media players name. It should work.

In 2000, Arjen released the Universal Migrator in 2 parts. Part 1, The Dream Sequencer, and Part 2, The Flight of the Migrator. While part 1 was more electronic and atmospheric, part 2 was extremely heavy. Originally Arjen intended only female vocalists on the first part, and only male on the second, but it didn't work out that way. Though there is still extreme variation in the 2 releases. Especially in the vocals and the way the music feels. The album is about the last man on mars. Humanity had migrated to Mars because it was impossible to live on earth. He is the last survivor. He uses the Dream Sequencer to go back in time and re-live his past lives in the Dream Sequencer, and in The Flight of the Migrator, he goes back to the dawn of time and the beginning of the Universe.

Part 1:
Ayreon - One Small Step
Ayreon - Carried by the Wind
Part 2:
Ayreon - Dawn of a Million Souls
Ayreon - Into the Black Hole

One year following the release, Arjen somehow came across a young singer named Astrid Van Der Veen. She was only 14 at the time, but he was so impressed with her voice, that he developed a side project just so he could work with her. Generally, the way Arjen selects vocalists for his projects, is if they give him a certain feeling. Like, they make the hair on the back of his neck stick up, or give him chills. So for this project, he re-worked previously made Ayreon songs, and mixed them so they would be more subdued and ambient. He let astrid write all the vocal lines and lyrics, so it was a collaborate effort, which is rather unusual for Arjen. It was a good follow up to the Universal Migrator part 2, in the sense it was it's opposite. As you will soon find out, Arjen likes to do opposites.

Ambeon - Cold Metal

Ambeon - Ashes
Ambeon - Dreamer

Just one year after Ambeon, Arjen released a straight-forward heavy metal project called Star One. If featured 4 singers: Russell Allen, Dan Swanö, Damian Wilson and Floor Jansen. If you don't know who they are, that's okay. If you do, good for you, you get a cookie. Russel Allen and Damian Wilson handled of the powerful rocky vocals, Dan Swanö handled the deeper more creepy vocal melodies, and Floor Jansen did a lot of higher register vocal stuff. Combined, It sounds very interesting. All 4 singers are amazing in their own rights. The various songs on this project are based on Arjen's favorite sci-fi series or movies. Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Dr. Who, Dune, and even Stargate are featured. It's a little cheesier (eh?) and completely different from Ambeon. In fact, it was mostly a reaction to Ambeon that he made Star One. SPACE METAL! YEAH! WOO!

Star One - Set Your Controls
Star One - Songs of the Ocean
Star One - Sandrider

2 years later, in 2004, Arjen put together one of his most, in a sense, star-studded release. He recruited such big names as James Labrie(dream theater), Mikeal Akerfeldt(Opeth), and Devin Townsend.(hey it's that guy again) The Human Equation spans 2 discs, ranging from folky to heavy to electronica, it is by far the most diverse and bombastic Ayreon releases. The story is a little different as well. A man is in a car accident, and goes into a coma. The events surrounding the accident seem kind of odd, as there were no other cars nearby, and nothing at all in view. He just smashed right into a tree. 11 singers play out a story where they take on the role of a specific emotion or idea. Agony, Reason, Pride, Love, Passion, and Fear are all present. The 5th Ayreon release takes you into a man's mind to face his troubled past, foolish pride, and ruthless nature. It's pretty neat.

Ayreon - Day 3: Pain
Ayreon - Day 8: Hope
Ayreon - Day 14: Pride

Arjen's latest project, entitled Stream of Passion, was brought about by a contest for the Human Equation. He held a contest for a young female singer to send an audition tape or recording of somekind, and he would let them sing on his project. A young Mexican singer named Marcela Bovio won the contest hands down. Arjen liked her singing so much, he started a side project just to focus on her voice. He allowed her to write the vocals and lyrics, and he recruited a band of young musicians from various places. Mostly out of nowhere. Another interesting choice is the lead guitar role was given to an American woman currently living in sweden named Lori Linstruth. Also, he finished with a young dutch drummers, and the piano/keyboard player is Marcela's boyfriend Allejandro. It's the last thing he's released, and now all we can do is wait for more.

Stream of Passion - Passion(Music Video)

Stream of Passion - Out in the Real World(Music Video)
Stream of Passion - Calliopiea

Other Links:
Ayreon's Website
Stream of Passion Website
Ayreon Wiki

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Rock Opera Revival Pt 1: Arjen Anthony Lucassen

I can't quite remember anything about 1995. Sure, I was alive at the time, but I was young and events around me didn't seem very important. If only I knew! If only I could have guessed that the revival of that ancient form of musical expression, the rock opera, was about to be revived/reinvented/made more metal. At least, eventually.

Let's start things off with some knowledge. Arjen started his musical career in a small rock band called Bodine. They released 2 albums together, and Arjen grew as a musician and started to play bass at this time. In 1984, he joined a hard rock band called Vengeance. He was in vengeance for awhile, and then, in 1995, he released his first CD under the name of Ayreon: The Final Experiment.

The Final Experiment is a concept album about a blind minstrel named Ayreon that lived during the middle ages. Scientists from the year 2085 or 86 or something, have developed a new technology that allows them to send telepathic messages through time. Mankind has virtually destroyed themselves. They are attempting to send the messages back in time to change the FUTURE! However, Ayreon goes and sings about these terrible events of the future, and is banished by the wizard Merlin. So the final experiment fails, and mankind is doomed. How uplifting. There's more to the story/characters, but I don't want to spoil too much.

The sound of The Final Experiment can best be described as a hard-rock romp through a medieval fair. There are multiple singers, and Arjen basically plays every instrument on the album. Keyboards, guitars, bass, flute. There is also some electronica elements in it. It's a very unique approach to a fantasy rock opera with sci-fi elements.

Ayreon - Sail Away to Avalon
Ayreon - Computer Reign (Game Over)
Ayreon - Charm of the Seer

Just one year after The Final Experiment, Aryeon's second album, Actual Fantasy, was released. It was more a collection of short sci-fi/fantasy stories than a single story. It is the only Ayreon release that is like this. Some of the story themes expanded in later releases, like the song "computer eyes" is about a device called "The Dream Sequencer," which Ayreon's 4th release deals with exclusively. This release had a lot more electronica elements then the last release, and the keyboards play a more prominent role in many songs.

Ayreon - Actual Fantasy

Ayreon - Abbey of Sinn
Ayreon - Computer Eyes

Arjen, at this point, waited until 1998 to release his next rock opera. This one... was a SPACE OPERA. It involved time travel, aliens, and an experiment for a highly advanced race of beings to rediscover their emotions. By taking stereotypical characters as portrayed by old movies, Arjen created over-the-top silly characters. A barbarian, a futureman, a hippy, a highlander, a crusader, an egyptian, and an indian. And some other characters I probably forgot. Into the Electric Castle is an attempt to analyse emotions through ridiculous characters. Successful? Well, I'm not sure. It's a fan favourite. The sound for this album is a lot more of a "psychadellic rock" feel than the other ones. It's not quite as heavy as some of his other projects.

Ayreon - The Hall of Isis and Osiris
Ayreon - The Decision Tree (We're Alive)
Ayreon - The Castle Hall

Now, for the sake of making this a little more edible, I am going to divide it into chunks. Probably 2. This is chunk 1. Chunk 2 will probably be done by tomorrow. I plan to go from the 4th Ayreon release to Arjen's latest side project, Stream of Passion.

It should be fun!