Come On, Let's Go.

Three Ring Orchestra

So, in the early 1990s composer Marc-André Hamelin decided to create a piece of piano music specifically for the player piano. How is it specifically for the player piano? Well, it is completely impossible for a single person to play this. Several might be able to do it, but then it wouldn't be played as intended. Here's a MIDI rendition, along with the sheet music. Now, I'm sheet-music-illiterate -- I got out of Music Appreciation in high school with my school's equivalent of a gentleman's C (meaning I made it clear that having me repeat the class would be to no one's benefit at all) -- but you can plainly see the complexity.

Of course, it's not the same without seeing it on an actual player piano. Or, more specifically, an actual player piano that looks as if it's possessed by ADHD-riddled ghosts trying to chase a cat off the keys:



Bonus Get

So, I bought the Humble Indie Bundle this year -- something I suggest everyone who likes video games do -- and I got into a game I never thought I would. Bit.Trip Runner is a game reminiscent of Rez and Vib Ribbon: an auto-moving platformer that "generates" music. It's a game that requires memorization and very strict reflexes, neither of which are my forte or even something I thought I would enjoy. But it somehow it all comes together. The controls are incredibly limited; you can jump, spring off platforms, slide and kick through obstacles. Each obstacle has only one way around it. Playing the game becomes something more akin to practicing a musical instrument than beating a stage in Super Mario Bros. The minimalist chiptune/synth tracks it creates are things of beauty. Here's a play-through of the stage I am currently stuck on:



Gogol Bordello really brought the concept of a post-Communist Russian identity to the forefront. Down here in Brooklyn, everyone knows someone somehow related to the band. My mother stole my copy of Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike. I've never heard a Russian-born person ever complain about them selling out. If Eugene Hutz is going to be a millionaire, god bless him. However, they never really addressed the true immigrant mentality of the Russian immigrant: make money, hand over fist, any way, any how. So I'm glad that Berlin's Rotfront have a song about it. While Gogol Bordello can evoke a fists-up punk rawk reaction, this track is more of a knowing laugh.

Rotfront - Money Money Money (feat. Amsterdam Klezmer Band) by essayrecordings

Also, the song is based around the beat from Amsterdam Klezmer Band's "Naie Kashe" and, considering the lyrics, can be seen as that song's origin story.



I think it would come as no surprise that I am not a fan of purely technical guitar playing. When I think of a genuinely good guitarist, the raw bluesiness of Jack White comes to my mind, not the neoclassical masturbation of Yngwie Malmsteen. So I am surprised I like Snuffy's new album Mangia as much as I do. There's some very technical work involved behind the expert beats. I'm reminded of the days back when Ratatat were two drunk dudes with vintage guitars playing in front of an animation of forties filling up. This track isn't as exemplary of the more glitchy, dissonant sides of the album, but it's probably my favorite off the album.

01 Skipping Across the Autobahn by Snuffy


Into The Black

So I've been digging on witch house act White Ring ever since I saw them live early last year, and their track lxC999 has been on constant repeat on my iPod. So, boy am I happy to say they've got a new single out. It's a 12" out on the Handmade Birds label, and contains two tracks, one of which is a cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey My My."


Film With The Dirty Look

Co. Alt Sounds

I have a odd sensation guilt when I like first song of an album considerably more than the other the tracks. Unless the rest of the album is absolute crap, I feel like I really didn't put as much effort into enjoying the album as I should have. So, when it happened to me with The Black Ghosts' new release When Animals Stare, I decided to really give the album a shot beyond the first track. This first track, meanwhile, is wonderful, fitting into that grew-up-listening-to-Michael-Jackson groove, within which every other band that tries to cop MGMT's sound resides. Listening to it for the first little while, I could've sworn it was a cover, just because it feels like a dusted-off and remastered track off a forgotten album from 1994. Take a listen:

So, I decided to keep listening to it. My bus ride home from work was probably my fifth or six go-around, and, lo and behold, I managed to find a track I like equally, if not more. "Forgetfulness" is one female vocal track short of a great, early Architecture in Helsinki track, and rather different than the darker tone When Animals Stare has. It's sweet and even a little goofy, albeit the lyrics aren't any brighter.

In completely unrelated news, a spambot seems to have exploded in the comments section of one of my posts. Go check it out.


The Tape Is Your Voice

A while before Depeche Mode released their first album, Speak and Spell, their song "Photographic" appeared on the New Wave/New Romantic label Some Bizarre's first compilation of unsigned bands. This version was significantly different than the version that would eventually appear on Speak and Spell. It's considerably more hard-edged, with more primitive synth and, in my opinion, is a much better mix than the album version.


The Way I’m Blushin’

I have one Jonathan Richman/Modern Lovers album. It's a compilation and while I'm not particularly impressed by most of it -- "Government Center" is a great song and due to my experience with a Joan Jett Greatest Hits CD, I will probably choke someone before letting myself listen to any version of "roadrunner -- this song is great. Everything about it just so absolutely sweet that I haven't been able to get over it. Enjoy.


The TV Tells Me What To Do

The new Stephen Merritt compilation Obscurities has a great b-side on it. "Rats in the Garbage of the Western World" originally appeared on the "All the Umbrellas in London" 7-inch. Now, the Magnetic Fields' Get Lost (the album off which that track is a single) is one of my favorite Stephin Merritt release, and "All The Umbrellas in London" is one of my favorite tracks, and not just off the album. So, I'm not surprised at how great this track is. Dark, chaotic and openly gay synth-pop is -- or was, as it seems -- Merritt's forte and damn if he isn't right on key here.


Where’s the Beat?

I have, so far, been pretty lucky to have never had a corporate burger-flipping job. It's not the nature of the work that I find objectionable -- I worked graveyard shift in a cold sandwich place -- but the combination of dangerous equipment (your deep fryers, grills and the like) and bored, underpaid teenagers that scared the crap out of me. Clearly, it scared the crap out of the owners as well, as the stories of textbooks worth of rules indicating as to the proper procedure during every moment of food preparation. What's worse, of course, is when Giant Corporation tries to make it hip and fun to learn the rules. So, take a look at this wonder of cultural tone-deafness, courtesy of Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers®:

Not enough? How about some middling R&B which some very highly-paid attorneys determined was good enough training to ward off scalding lawsuits? (Meanwhile, I have at least three albums released in 2011 that may as well have been produced and sang by the same people responsible for this.)

...and finally, riding on Rapture's coattails, here's "Cold Drinks." Be sure to note the utterly unnecessarily sultry bedroom eyes in the last half-second of the video.

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