I find myself – after having seen Chris Nolan’s latest Faberge egg/Matrioska doll of a movie Inception – not so affected by the movie and, in fact, more excited to be now able to read the always cogent critique and analysis of the flick by the guys at Observations on Film Art, which site I’m a regular at (also a regular skimmer/sans-er of articles on most pre-sound or colour blabs).

I think the film was good, not great, and I’m now well convinced of both CN’s bloodyminded obsession with wilful obscurity and showpony-ness for it’s own sake  (he would def. be Christian Bale’s character in The Prestige – totally willing to let go of all else in pursuit of a process that eats up most everything else) and his small-man-complex need to prove to everybody that he can make all the crookeds line up ( I guess that makes him also Hugh Jackman’s character in same film, not to mention Cillian Murphy in Inception, Batman from that other film. Daddy issues abound; maybe it’s a british boarding school thing).

I think the manic layering is also a compensation for the fact that intellectually, the film is pretty shallow (nothing wrong with that, but hey! 2 hours 40 minutes?!). Much of the “workings of the brain” commentary is clumsily formal or plain dated e.g. “we only use 10% of our brain” blah blah and the moral underpinnings are either tacked on (recurring mop-headed children) or just 2D cliches (Leonardo’s becoming, as this guy pointed out, the go-to actor for dead-wife-backstory brooding). CN should just fess up to being the thinking woman’s action filmmaker and be done with it – there were some dead sexy action scenes, not to mention lovely visual stuff like the folded Paris street.

Anyways, how bout a less-is-more proposition next time around?

So: better than Dark Knight (the more I think about it, the less I liked that flick, Heath Ledger notwithstanding; less good than The Prestige or Memento.

FYI: the bit at the end to me is a fairly straightforward, despite CN’s jazz hands manoeuvres: Real life at it’s best is much akin to a dream (the top was about to topple, dudes – I think he probably owes David Chase a royalty on that one).


Dr ZoidbergHi folks,

Well, as many (or possibly a single great indifference) might have guessed, my attempt to blog regular as clockwork has stumbled like a cheap gold beachside knock-off.

I was recently made aware that good friend and object of some professional envy Jenny (I must have mentioned her before) has re-jigged her blog with butterings of the latest technology, so again, shadow-like to her, I will attempt to re-animate the cold soul of this internet location. [sidenote: I think WordPress should add software so that all of us fans of DFW can use endnotes and such to pile on the digressions and satisfty that thing in us that makes us roll in that manner…til then: here come the brackets!]

As a small initial murmer let me mention that I did indeed spend ( actual) money on (virtual) music from The Dirty Projectors + Bjork recently, to a physical benefit i.e. whales. Try it, you’ll like it too. I guess this means I don’t need music to be free as long as the musicians involved achieve no legal tender benefit.

Also: I’m trying to migrate my bands over to Bandcamp and throw off the ugly, disorganised (and yes, passe) shackles of Myspace. Just as they’re implementing exciting new upgrades, I hear. But, as with hotmail, for me it is…too late.

Go listen to The Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca now. This seems to be total hipster fare, judging by the love around the net. But seriously, what great songs, amazing vocals (parts and delivery vehicles), and – the combination of indie rock and (excuse ignorant generalisation – Bhunbu Boys area?) African guitars and harmony is exactly the sort of “Pricks! Why didn’t I do that obviously brilliant thing that never occurred to me til now…” generator that gently tells you something awesome this way comes.

Just sayin’…

Just a quick bit o’ love for two angry,angry men, and the products of their respective vitriol.

Lars Von Trier has a new film out,  Antichrist (with the female key-symbol thing making up the ‘t’, check it),

but it’s his previous film, Boss Of It All, that I’ve been watching. I’ve actually not finished watching the damn thing, (the download came without subtitles and is, thoughtlessly, in Danish – wonder if  my norge mate could decipher it?)  because the subtitles files I eventually down-and-loaded read like a mid ’90s Google translation of folk poetry from deepest, darkest Belarus. The bountiful digital bosom that is the internet does have a tendency to, on occasion,  dispense something that tastes a lil like binary vinegar, no?

Having only made it part-way into the flick I can, however,  heartily recommend it. It’s like a cross between his earlier, awe inspiring (for me) and insult generating (for some others) ‘Dogma’ flick, The Idiots, and Mike Judge’s loved-by-anyone-who’s-ever-been-white-collar-enslaved Office Space. One of the main vessels for humour (it is described by Lars as a comedy) is the idea that someone masquerading as management (i.e. the Boss) should be able to go undetected – despite knowing nothing about the company they’re running – through the judicious use of corporate gibberish. Actually, now that I’ve written that it occurs to me that mebbe The Office is a good marker for this film as well (I’ve often thought white collar folks should be made to watch The Office and Office Space before commencing their ‘career’. They could then just hand out the nooses, I reckon). Anyways, great film so far, I’ll report back once I locate a decent .srt file and finish it (or maybe that is how Danish humour sounds, when translated to English?)

The other angry man of note here is Chris Morris, who you may (or not) know from his very funny (and angry) series Brass Eye, which tackled a bunch of topics (Drugs, Science, Animal Cruelty) in a satirical current affairs format, whilst making a lot of English minor celebs look pretty daft.

Chris’s new show (well, new to me, and yes, let’s continue with first names) is the amazingly vitriolic Nathan Barley, which is one huge fuck-off fuck off (in the idiots idiom) to the glib,inward looking, trend-addicted arts and culture brigade that make up a fictional rendering of, I’m assuming, London’s indie scene. It’s hard to describe in brief why this show is so great (and I need to go to bed) so let me just say that (amongst other things) it has the two main guys from the Mighty Boosh, the plot has the fat percentage (and the bloodstream contents) of Amy Winehouse and the tone is somewhere between Bill Hicks and Michel Gondry – and sneeringly angry. And the actor playing the title character does a better broad-smile-with-nervous-eyes delivery than Ricky Gervais.

Go, put yr remaining bandwidth on the case…

I have in the last week or so banged my net-riddled head on two programs, the pleasantly sweetening (or other taste moulding) of audio for.

They are Reaper and Audiomulch. The first is a multitrack production program  (or whatever you want to call it –  for mine, since Ableton Live properly broke the real-life-equivalent paradigm that digital audio had been dragging, the adjectives used to describe the recent generation of software have become either unsatisfyingly incomplete or redundantly broad).

The second is a virtual modular audio chop shop (see? Analogies are more pleasingly ephemeral, and can be made to sound tough or brainy: good for marketing…although now that I think about it – Reason, Logic, Garageband, Pro Tools, Cubase (?) SX(?!) – I might do better to just shut this whole argument down. It’s like arguing what is a good band name? Answer: Led Zeppelin, but only afterwards…)

Besides, although I love Audiomulch’s conjuring of dirty (but not muddy, pleez!), insect and worm-riddled sounds, I will admit that what kept them out of the green room that is my full attention were the names. Reaper? I don’t even like Death Metal.Audiomulch? What is this, organic hippy music?

Anyways, I’ve finally been dragged bleating into using these two programs by articles from the Create Digital Music website, which I recommend if only to remind you that some people don’t give a fuck about winning a Grammy. Really don’t. The winning attributes both softwares have are:

1. They give you a free, non-crippled trial period (30 and 60 days respectively). Reaper has a not-so-annoying splash screen that tells you (in the 4 seconds it takes to load the damn thing) that you really out to buy a license  ($60 if yr not raking in 20k a year from yr musical pursuits). Not sure with Audiomulch, but it’s also reasonably cheap (just looked – 189USD, or 189AUD if you live in Oz. The creator’s an Aussie, I believe). Anyways, it’s much cheaper than Reaktor.

2. They are coded lean and mean: Ican get a full band project open on Reaper (the Sheikhs if you must know) with compressors and EQ all over without my Dell mini 9 netbook crapping out, like it does with, say,  Live (I haven’t even bothered to try Nuendo or such). Apart from the actual programs teeny footprint, the great sounding free effects from Cockos Inc.(OK, that name really does suck) that come with Reaper are also suuuuper miserly on the CPU juice. So I can sit on the train in and out of work dialling up a good chunk of a killer mix to then bring home and tweak on the Quadcore machine that night. Sublimey.

Audiomulch, I’m not so sure, but I dialed up a nice beats and synth thing en route home today and the mini dint seem to breathe heavy [full disclosure-thingy: I’ve been using Audiomulch for only a handful of hours, but the fact that I’ve not tripped up, got the shits and abandoned ship is a testament to…]

3. Intuitive, common sense program construction. I tried a crack of Reaktor several times after a friends recommendation (he uses Pro Tools too, which makes me want to eat my eyeballs when I use it), but, having no manual (the pirate’s curse, often enough) I tinkered for 30 or 40 minutes before declaring the thing a piece of crap. I am aware that some things are not easy to learn (I remain monolingual for this reason) but if I can’t get something satisfying out of a program the first time then it’s just not gonna happen (this would be the drummer’s curse I guess).

Reaper and Audiomulch both provide elaborate documentation and help, and the Reaper resources webpage seems almost cult-like (or American sitcom-like, if you prefer) in it’s mind-clearing attractiveness, with it’s army of helpful, smart talking enthusiasts dropping by with free lunch items. But check it: I started fiddling with Reaper alfresco, and every first or second blind leap for a keyboard shortcut was right! And not because they were the same as my ol’ flame Nuendo. No, this was a real live ‘intuitive’ interface, a rare bird, I swear. Audiomulch was similarly well laid out and Lego-like in its easily decipherable potential.

My first foray into ‘indie’ music software was with the well intentioned horse-with-five-legs, Tracktion 2, which I got free with my Mackie sound card (Mackie’s a whole other disabled animal metaphor, a duck mebbe?) This thing was so unwieldy on my plenty powerful quadcore PC, puffing and wheezing and eventually crashing projects that I knew had run just fine on my dodge copy of Nuendo. Even the fancy Mackie plugins that came with the Tracktion 3 upgrade I bought in blind hope would regularly go queer and knock over projects. This all left what tasted very much like the sourness of a hard lesson learnt in my mouth. So much for legit, paid software. It was a shame too, because philosophically and visual design-wise, Tracktion made all the big multitrack programs look paleolithic.

But now I find myself back with the paying-money-for-something-that-doesn’t-physically-exist program. Reaper has taken up Tracktion’s, uh, dropped balls and thrown them at Bob (or whatever his name is) Steinberg’s head. And mine: Clunk! a digital eureka moment. (But why was the bathtub  underneath the apple tree in yr historical analogy? I dunno, and I’m sorry.)

Audiomulch, on the other hand, has given me a new enthusiasm for synthetic sounds. In the past I’ve used drum machines, sequencers and synths as cheap stand ins for real instruments on demos (and with my early hip hop exposure, too… Sheeeeee-it!) But with the possibilities starting to itch in my brain I’m thinking it’s time to put this Mulchy thing to work on that great late-80s ambient music masterpiece I’ve been putting off. Good thing too, my traditional PC based writing approach has been boring me to tears, or at least most of the way through a sixpack, of late. I’m also hoping to coax an indie rap collab out of aforementioned friend, and mebbe this will help – calling you out Blastcorp…

If yr into music production check these programs out. Their spirits are willing, and the weaknesses of flesh you expect are nowhere to be found.

One of the hallmarks of getting older is that you start to notice ‘the parlance of our times’ changing. People start referring to ‘going forward’ (which, if you think about it, is an oblique recognition of the direction of previous behaviour, right?). Catchphrases have offspring: GenX to GenY, weblogger to blogger to vlogger (although that never really stuck did it. I bet Violet Blue’s glad she didn’t get that tattooed on her leg. And so also: what if yr an analytical logger?)

One of my pet hates has been when people say: “the thing is…is that”. What is that extra “is” doing there?! I’ve quietly (or not, ask my girlfriend) fumed about such unreflective distortions of language. I’m a hunnerd po-sent for the rejigging of language to better fit social cultural and personal needs, but not via brainless tics. So but, at this point, I’m ready to throw in the towel.

Barak Obama, surely the veronica of cultured vernacular verisimilitude, used the double skip is-is in a speech the other day. OK, fine, game over.

For the record, I’ve  always fussed like this about this kinda passive word misuse (except when I do it, no doubt). I remember the quiet itching of my then 8 year old brain,  listening to school friend scoop the ‘n’ off the already dialect laden an’ (and) to add to the phrase “used to”, creating the phrase “n’used to”, which could then be n’used in any sentence, irregardless of the presence of a preceding ‘and’ (much like the English use “innit” – or “isn’t it” if yr better spoken – as a question mark at the end of sentences regardless of  grammatical sense).

And I’m no wordy athlete neither: When Michael Pollan talks of ‘modifiers’ in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma (highly recommended BTW) I still think he’s talking about food (that stuff people put in coffee when they’re too dumb to use milk mebbe?) and though I just read DavidFoster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, with it’s gleeful smushing together of high and low language styles ([in Carl voice] …and how!), it did take me four months. I just think there’s a notable difference between, say, adding 50 layers of distortion to Ofra Haza’s voice for a particular effect, versus leaving the detuned radio on all nite cos yr deaf as a fencepost. Just sayin’ is all…

I have to get the following tunes up and with blood coursing veins by my next gig:
1) Mongooses
2) Resistance Girls
3) Love Letter
The first two are (seriously) old tunes that I haven’t been happy with until now (Iplan on adding a song analysis segment here and they both will feature: stay tuned…) and the third is a bonafide newy, London themed and all (this will also have a spot on aforementioned segment). Now you know so I have to do it, right?

Incidentally, this new shiny blog has come about as a direct competitive reaction to my good friend Jenny’s latest effort:


Not too nasty a face-off. I think Jenny’s rool nice, and I’m pretty sure I could slap her down in most combat formats, but I figure it’s good to be in a race with someone who’s so prolific, when yr (as in me) more natural output position is a comatose repose .

Anyways, just so you know.

I’m way too uh, wildly excited about this:

I love Spike Jonze’s stuff. I watched Adaptation again and (apart from his soft-pedalling me into enjoying not-one-but-two Nic Cage’s) I have to say Jonze’s Charlie Kaufman collabs are every bit the equal of Michel Gondry’s, for mine.
The WTWTA script is co-written by Dave Eggers, one of the new generation of hip(ster) young(ish) writers, whose last output seen by me was an intro to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, written perilously close (Sept 2006) to the self-de-mapping of that particular giant of the written word.

And Eggers own stats? Well, I read his ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’ and it didn’t nearly live up to its yes-I-know-it’s-ironic-but-still overweight title. I do hope his screenwriting is up to par, because WTWTA is a defining moment from my  childhood and on this one I’m happy to climb aboard the (no doubt well overcrowded) don’t-rape-my-childhood bus that I’m more usually happy to wave past with my you-live-in-a-market-driven-society-so-suck-it-up hand.

After being pleasantly surprised by the relative intactness of the comic-to-movie transformation of Watchmen I’m feeling all teary and optimistic. Let us see…

I think the thing that most suggests, nay (neigh!), veritably insists – with a metaphorical finger tapping on the (also not real) table for emphasis – that I inflict myself on the world in a bloggly manner… is this: Super anal attention paid to spelling and grammar and such (I assume I’d do this for my own blather, what with all the rollings of eye and gnashings of teeth that pour forth on discovering that, say, the sixth word of the lead article on WordPress’s homepage is ‘ambicious’).

Did I also mention that I can also cram a sentence to the brim with all manner of digressionary hoo-haa? True dat. I doubt one ability cancels the other out, just like a sincerely felt emotion conveyed via cynical sardonics is hardly likely to fail, espesh in print. Note to self: WTF?

Also: I’ll see you yr new blog Jenny Wynter, now show me yr goddamn cards. [Air kisses left and right]