Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One of those little posts you don't really notice because it's between two bigger posts with images inside

So, you may have noticed i haven't very good at the updating-every-day thing lately. I have a good reason for this: i was mostly at home with a sore throat, and being home with a sore throat isn't the best environment for coming up with groundbreaking new blog material. Well, unless you're Neil Gaiman of course, in which case the tissue paper is made of fairy wings and the throat medicine is made of pure awesome. In my case, it would have just been a bunch of posts about "oh hell i feel terrible", "i feel like i woke up with two throats today and they're both blocked", "my voice makes me sound like i'm the bastard child of Tom Waits and Nick Cave (whom i don't want to know how he would exist, but would almost certainly have a tail)" and other such amenities. So thank me for not blogging, and you're welcome. What i did do was fix a couple of things on the sidebar which i wasn't too comfortable with, and the fact you can't really notice the difference is a great victory for me in the field of not-fucking-things-up-completely. So if you were paying attention there should be one or two new things, although of course i don't vouch for them being very interesting.

Later today: a weekend download. Yes, it's a tuesday. No, i don't care.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Now all i need is a good graphic designer and, um, some music i suppose.

Ripped off from Randy of SomethingPositive*:

1 - Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to Random quotations: http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr's "explore the last seven days" http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

Put it all together, that's your first album.

Our main inspirations are heartbreak and opossums.

*(which is my favourite webcomic by the way even if i don't mention it half enough here and even if when i show it to people nobody really gets it which is weird because it's one of those comics which deal with everyday people and situations instead of fermat's last theorem and retro videogames like 97% of other webcomics. I tend to reread the full archives once a year, last time it took me almost three months. Considering it updates every day, i'll achieve critical mass approximately by 2011)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh ok, here's a post

Had fun learning how to use last.fm tags today:

For reference:

(Sorry Wikipedia, never again will i go around saying you're useless. Not for the next eight-to-ten hours at least. Maybe.)

I then retraced the history of giant crabs on the internet:
-Telegraph Article, 28/2/2004
-Neil Gaiman Extremely Alarmed Blogpost, 3/3/2004
-Radio 4 BBC Science/Travel Report, 14/1/2008
-Extremely Whimsical Momus Post, 20/1/2008
Who knows if these inspired forms of mixed media will continue multiplying before we are all invaded and enslaved by large red stalin-moustached crustaceans.

And to end this completely random post with something of a vague continuity, here's a similarly themed image i came across last night and was waiting for an excuse to post (as if i needed one):

I think it was somebody's avatar.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Blindfold Test.

Here's a little game you can do at home too. Ever read those articles in music magazines where they make someone listen to a bunch of random tracks and they have to guess what they ae and comment on them? Ok, in magazines they're usually unoriginal enough to include stuff by the interviewees themselves, or stuff they produced or played on, and the guy has to act surprised. Not here, ladies and gentlemen.
What we're presenting is Ye Olde Blindfold Test, est. 2007.
1)You grab your WinAmp and put all your music folders in the playlist. All of them.
2)Then you set it on random and press play.
3)Then you turn the screen off or look the other way and try to identify what's playing, and write a couple of words' commentary about it if you feel it's necessary.
4)You post the results on your blog, or on your myspace profile, or as a Facebook note, or print them and nail them to the local church doors, whatever.

In my case, the playlist goes well over 30000 tracks (31352 to be precise), so setting that to random accounts for a rather satisfying level of unexpectedness. I did the test some time ago, and this is how i fared:

Ten songs - Blindfold test

1. Gilberto Gil - Domingou
Os Mutantes? The intro was a giveaway. Of course i like Os Mutantes but never found them all that focused - i appreciate their imaginative use of instruments and the wide and wild color they give to their songs, but only their best songs are actually going somewhere as a song and lyric. Plus, most of their best songs were actually by caetano, which doesn't really surprise anyone. (Is told what the song actually is) This one is a song with Gilberto Gil from one of his first albums. I need to listen to more Gil from that period!
2. PUSA - Shortwave
Presidents of the United States of America! God i love this band. They were important to me in the mid-nineties because they reminded us all that this kind of guitar music (i'm trying not to call it "grunge") could also be cheerful and joking, not just deep and angsty like Kurt made quite an extreme point in convincing us. This one's from one of their more recent albums - they had broken up at their peak, and reformed some years ago with a strong new repertoire. of course i know the old ones better.
3. Towa Tei - Technova
Technova, Towa Tei. Featuring Bebel Gilberto! I think this was the firt time Bebel got international exposure. The album itself is great, it has Arto in it, and Bebel of course, and even Maki Nomiya if i remember well! I remember once attending a videoart retrospective in Santiago, and being most surprised when the video for this song was shown. It was probably quite groundbreaking at the time, with the digital animation, the three arms...
It was Towa's first solo album, a special edition came out reently for the tenth anniversary. I first heard of Towa from his presence in Arto's O Corpo Sutil, which is one gem of an album. All-star participations, opened me to the work of so many geniuses: Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Vinicius Cantuaria of course, Yuka Honda, Amadeo Pace... plus Sakamoto and Eno! Going back to Technova, it seems to foreshadow so many things... coming from the NY dance scene, with bits of the london hip hop jazz, not yet exactly shibuya-kei...
4. Cassandra Wilson - Wichita Lineman
Wichita Lineman. Sounds like Cassandra Wilson! Yep, that's her. Beautiful song, i've developed a loving for Bacharach so strong i even went to see Dionne Warwick live this summer! This Cassandra album is my favourite (certain others i find, excuse me, rather boring), she covers some great songs: Only a Dream in Rio by James Taylor, Aguas de Março by Jobim, Hot Tamales by Robert Johnson...can't go wrong!
"i know he needs a short vacation"...that bit always stops me on my tracks!
5. Frank Zappa - Do it in C
Oooh, The Lost Episodes! The Blackouts! this is just a really short spoken track of Zappa's very first band. It says a lot that he published a spoken part but none of their playing... he had high standards and needed to live up to them! This one's off the Apocrypha bootleg, a precious and very elegantly designed affair. First time i heard it, it was as the first track on The Lost Episodes which is much, much easier to find. And legal, too!
Oh, this version also has some Studio Z muddling in it. There's Beefheart doing some of his trademark voices back before they were trademark. Before he was Beefheart as a matter of fact!
6. John Zorn - Avelut
Hmm. plenty of classical guitar, sounds chilean...Oops, couldn't have been wronger, it's John Zorn! it's a track from Masada Guitars. His Masada project is something wonderful, there's another double album i highly recommend but can't remember the title right now... this one's great too. It's funny, it does actually sound a bit like something played by John Williams with Horacio Salinas!
7. Flaming Lips - Thank You Jack White (For The Fiber Optic Jesus That You Gave Me)
Oh dear, what's.... OOOH! Flaming Lips! Thank You Jack White! It's a b-side, or rarity, but you really should track it down. The full title is indication enough! The first time i heard it i had it on loop for an hour... So simple, so spontaneous, so funny, so beautiful!
8. Arto Lindsay - Counting The Roses (self-remix)
Hmm, arto sounds involved... a remix perhaps? There's a sample and it's on loop, i'm waiting for something to happen... (peeks at screen) Counting The Roses. It's Arto! Lovely track from his remix album (ecomixes), only came out in japan... had to ebay for it! This track is apparently the soundtrack for some videogame. It says "self-remix", but i have no idea where to find the original, and actually doubt it's ever been released anywhere! But this is more than enough... lovely track. i'm glad we got Arto in this round of the game, after talking about him earlier!
9. Koop - Vuelvo al Sur
Vuelvo al Sur, probably by Gotan Project? plenty of background effects... it's not their beat...koop! I missed them when they played in trieste this autumn, I was in Faenza. I have very, very fond memories of their Summer Sun video (and the song of course!), always makes me feel a bit melancholy but happy at the same time. The first time i heard Piazzolla's Vuelvo Al Sur was when Caetano played it in Venice, back when he was touring for the Fina Estampa albums. Beautiful version his, but a tad too slow...i like this one better! How blasphemous!
10. Luis Alberto Spinetta y Fito Paez - Dejaste Ver Tu Corazon
Speaking of argentinians... this is Fito, from his album with Spinetta. A great, great, great album. the title is fairly simple to remember: La La La. I had this on a tape i'd copied from my cousin, it kept me company for so long... It's really hard to find on cd, i'd love to own a copy. I make do with the mp3s nowadays, but will probably pull the old tape out again one of these days.

That's it. Hopefully next time i won't be rambling insanely about Arto Lindsay. Now what i hope is that other bloggers i know see this and have a try, it's great fun despite being sort of self-centered. But then again, so is blogging.
Oh, almost forgot! There's also another rule:
5) If you have the time and the bandwidth, upload a track or two you've commented for all to hear!
Which, of course, i didn't.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Weekend Download: O Futebol

We're sort of staying in the same world as last week: after all there's not much of a distance between Vinicius Cantuaria and Arto Lindsay. Today's song is quite the rarity, a cover Arto recorded in 2006 of Chico Buarque's composition O Futebol, for a football-themed compilation called PlayUp.

Arto Lindsay - O Futebol (285kps VBR 7Mb 3:21 Mp3)
Credits here; lyrics here.

This song was sent to me by Guerolito, a very very kind reader, and i think this post shows how much i appreciated it! Incidentally, the original compilation seems like a rather interesting find for anyone who manages to get their hands on it: Besides Arto, it also features occasional collaborators Waldemar Bastos and Jun Miyake, plus italian reggae band Africa Unite (who once published a dvd where my presence in the audience is quite visible, or so i've heard) and a number of acts i've never heard from but seem to be worth looking into considering the top quality of the others. Keeping in line with the coincidences, Jun Miyake's thank you list includes Ramuntcho Matta, a name which is all too familiar to me in more than one way. Yet another thing i'll have to keep an eye on.

(Template color opinion update: blue was kind of bleah, grey slightly better but still bleah-ish.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


As you probably won't notice, there are still some slight changes going on in this here blog's appearance. I made some minimal changes to the template color and also didn't change the color of certain bits of the sidebar. I'm pointing this out because i had actually *tried* to make things look better but had ended up with one single big ugly mess and had to fight through the teeth to get things back how they were originally, which brought me to decide that hey, those particular bits didn't look that bad in the first place.

What you will see changing are the colors of the template: starting tomorrow, i'll be cycling them around to see how they fit better, which combination i like the most, and if i manage to not make a big ugly mess of things for a change. This you will notice, and please feel free to point out your preferences in the comments bin.

It would make no sense to make these changes if there were no updates, as it has been for quite a while in these whereabouts. Which is why in the past week i've forced myself to update every. single. day. and will try to keep going like this for as long as i can. I have a small backlog of posts for quieter/busier days and will concentrate my online thoughts and commentaries here instead of dispersing them here and there as profile updates, twitter updates or whatnots.
Except for today, of course. Today i'm just rambling about the template which does not at all count as an update. As a matter of fact, it counts as exactly what the title of this post is.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Don.

It's the Captain's birthday, the 67th.
You can start by rereading his story.
Then you can listen to Black Snake Moan(Right-click to save).
And then you can go out and do your own thing, and make up the rules as you go along, because that's what the Captain taught me to do. And if you don't have a plan you can always pretend to have had one all along, because that's a little something i learnt from acting this way and let me tell you, it works.
But most of all, Happy Birthday Don, we miss you, thanks for giving us so much. Happy birthday planet earth, thanks for still giving us the music Don would be proud of.

Black Accountant (1989)
Black Accountant (1989)
Oil on canvas
94 x 82.5 cm

Monday, January 14, 2008

Old and familiar faces 5 - Celeste

My good friend (and occasional presence from the first year or two of this blog) Celeste sent me these pictures the other day, and kindly agreed when i asked her if i could publish her here. The main reason she agreed is that i asked while she was busy watching a My Name Is Earl episode and would therefore have agreed even if i had asked "can i take all your personal possessions and grind them into breakfast goo for my pet truck".

The reason for these photos is that she was telling me she had so enjoyed a certain picture of me dancing at this september's electroblog, that she intended to set it as her desktop wallpaper. Of course i immediately prompted her to do so, and to send a picture as proof of this. Here is that picture:
(As always, click to enlarge in a new window)

I have to admit i look rather flattering in a mac. Then again, i suppose anything does.
To my surprise, she also sent the following one:

Sorry guys, she's taken. And in Switzerland. Where i've been promising to go visit for a number of years already but it's never really happened 'cause i'm a lazy bastard.

And finally, if anyone else is crazy enough to try out the desktop experience, here is the original unflattering pic of me shaking my booty to the 3rd hour of 2manyDJs' live set shortly before almost dying from dehydration. Special thanks to Daria for the hi-res pic!

If you want to follow Celeste's example, feel free to send in your photos too. If gracious enough, they too will be posted here for public mockery.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fun with UbuWeb

Some links from the quintessential online archive, in case there's still someone i haven't forwarded these to personally. I usually visit ubu.com for the avantgarde audio and video archives, but occasionally come across unexpected gems like the following, which deserve greater diffusion.

Kenny G meets John Zorn (No, really)

The Gaylords sing american hits in italian (from the 2007 365 days project)

A visit to the Postojna Caves (Sadly, it makes no mention of the fantastic hot-dog stand outside - a favourite childhood memory of mine. However, may i suggest an expedition to accompany this soundtrack? Pino, ci sei?)

Telemundo - Dificultades tecnicas (probably the funkiest beat i've heard today)

The Most Wanted Song and The Most Unwanted Song (Featuring Vernon Reid on guitar, ladies and gentlemen!)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

First video of 2008

Trieste, 3:15AM, 1st of January 2008. Cinematic!
Someday i'll learn how to lower the volume on my videos so you can actually make out what's going on. I could also try to learn how to keep a camera straight while i'm drunk, but that would be hoping for a bit too much.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Weekend Download: Ominira

I had quite a surprise -and a pleasant one- the other day whilst listening to Vinicius Cantuaria's new album, Cymbals, when i realized one track was most familiar. And no, i'm not talking about the new Jobim cover he records for each new album (this time around it's Vivo Sonhando).
The song was Ominira, which i'd heard before on Lisa Ono's wonderful 2004 collection of lusafrican songs Naima ~meu anjo~. A little bit of research made me discover the song was written by Vinicius in 2002, with lyrics co-written by Angelique Kidjo for her Black Ivory Soul album.
Romero Lubambo, who was the guitarist on that album, brought the song into Lisa Ono's repertoire when working on Naima. And now Vinicius Cantuaria rerecorded his own version, complete with new portuguese lyrics.
Why so many versions? Easy: Ominira is one lovely song. And i've decided to share all three versions here.
(As always, right-click to save)

Vinicius Cantuaria - Ominira (2007) (320kps 10Mb 4:21 Mp3)

Lisa Ono - Ominira (2004) (160kps 5Mb 4:20 Mp3)

Angelique Kidjo - Ominira (2002) (192kps 6Mb 4:23 Mp3) (credits here)

There, now you can decide which version you like best. I already know which one's my favourite!

One last little thing i was wondering: Ominira is the Yoruba word for Freedom, yet this website says the lyrics are in Fon. Can anybody out there confirm or deny this?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

No spoilers.

Location: The bar. Time: this morning.

Him: What? You don't know 30 Seconds To Mars?
Me: Um, no.
Him: They're good. The singer's the blonde guy from Fight Club, remember him?
Me: ...
Him: He was also in that movie about the death of John Lennon: he's the guy who killed him.
Me: Well thank you very much for spoiling the ending.