Tuesday, 28 February 2012

La Ciel Chromatique part 2

Although I'm not the sort of person that likes to reminisce, I am am unable to stop the fact the fact that I miss some things. I miss my other half. I miss having money. I miss having a working oven. I miss being five years old, having no idea what a paedophile was, building a machine that would kill santa and making thrones out of mud. But most of all, I miss this blog. No. Really. I miss the days where I updated this every single day. After a while I updated it every two days. Two days became four days. Four days became a week. I haven't updated this in almost a month as most of you are probably aware. Which is sad. Ah well. Here's to the 50th attempt at consistency. Updates in my life: Got an interview on Thursday, struggling a little with a massive report due in a couple of weeks, and I'm still a reclusive alcoholic. Going to crack on and discuss my favourite albums from last year, continuing from part 1 a few weeks back.

5.Battles - Gloss Drop
When Tinkerbell takes a dump
In my humble opinion, no 'top albums of 2011' list should be complete without Battles' Gloss Drop. After their solid debut, Mirrored, the band have since shed their lead singer and replaced him with a number of guest vocalists (including Gary Numan, oddly enough) on this release. Battles pretty much do experimental music for people that hate experimental music. The sounds are unique, but the melodies have a playful, childish quality, bursting with energy. The fact that John Stanier (one of my favourite drummers) happens to be on this album also made this an incredibly joyous listen.

4.The Beach Boys - Smile
This is a bit of a weird one. Smile was originally recorded in 1966/1967, but if you know much about the Beach Boys, you'll know that front man Brian Wilson flipped his shit and hid in his room for a few years smoking weed before the recording process was complete. Since then, the mythical album was released in various forms - Smiley Smile was released in 1967, further Smile bootlegs were leaked in the early nineties, and Brian Wilson re-recorded and released the album under his own name in 2004. But is this just the band/record label completely milking the public for the naive fools we are? Probably. Regardless, this version is known as 'The Smile sessions' and it's probably the closest we're ever going to get to hearing the original album as it was intended. Gritty and hard-hitting it ain't. But the group's voice harmonisations and melodic psychedelia touch on a exciting part in musical history, which stands out as a fantastic album even today.

3.Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica
A journey through an endless, industrial jungle from the 1980s with with all of humanity wiped out. Filmed by Stanley Kubrick. On acid. I'm not quite sure how else I can describe this album. It has the most exciting and unique sounds to come out of any experimental ambient album I've heard in my life. The synthesizers chop and change; they buzz angrily, they provide a heartbeat, they softly sigh as if they were featuring on the Blade Runner soundtrack. The samples used on the album are mostly from adverts from the 1980s, funnily enough, but rather than lazily giving the album cheesy excerpts, the sounds are extremely well crafted into intricate, emotional pieces.

2. Colin Stetson - New History Warfare 2: Judges
Try playing 'Careless Whisper' on that beast
Before this album, I'd never heard of a bass saxophone in my life. I suppose I just assumed everyone was playing an elaborate prank on me for a while. But 'Judges' has turned out to be my favourite album of 2011 along with the next entry. Although labelled as avant-garde, Stetson's playing is anything but. Wild, skilful, and completely unpredictable, the sax is completely transformed as an instrument, into something dark and shadowy. Having mastered the art of circular breathing, Stetson achieves fast, uninterrupted playing which will stomp all over any ideas you had of the saxophone being nothing but a platform for cheesy pop or jazz.

1. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Giving absolutely no thanks to the generic garbage that is Mumford & Sons, I acquired an opinion that was pretty much "Once you've heard one acoustic-indie sort of band, you've heard them all because they are generic pieces of shit" last year. That was until I gave Helplessness Blues a listen. Fleet Foxes aren't terribly unique with their formula (well crafted acoustic playing with a vocalist that sounds like a bleating lamb), but they manage to execute it amazingly well. The Shrine/An Argument touches my soul in a way not a lot of music does, and the album flows exceptionally well. The tracks aren't cluttered in any way,  each instrument is arranged so that it could be argued that any one of them is the centrepiece of the track. There are inspired appearances from a number of instruments and the lyrics are a beautiful compliment to the entire album.

Changed my mind this time, and I'm linking to the songs on youtube instead of making them available for download. It's probably easier for both of us that way. So here's a little selection of some of my favourite tracks from 2011. They come with the usual warning of the music varying heavily. I was going to put them in some sort of order depending on how weird or experimental I thought each track was, but it became a fruitless exercise. Enjoy -

Oneohtrix Point Never - Up
The Vaccines - Norgaard
Fleet Foxes - The Shrine/An Argument
Colin Stetson - A Dream of Water
Primus  - Tragedy's a Comin'
Battles - Ice Cream
Protest the Hero - Hair Trigger
The Beach Boys - Surf's Up

I'm suddenly becoming annoyed at really stupid things. One of my dickhead flatmates tied up a full bin bag and just left it in the kitchen, and they think it's a good idea to keep opening the windows in this freezing cold shithole of a flat. So I better end the blog now.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Modest Dog

Pictures of wasps make my skin crawl, so here's
Sting looking like a twat instead
There are a lot of bad things about getting up early. Everybody knows how ghastly it feels to wake up to a bleating alarm, emerging from the warm hug of your bed covers to the cold and unforgiving world of being awake. But there is one thing I hate even more, and that is the brief, terrifying intermissions that come on show in your head during the 10 minute snoozes. This morning I had to rise at 8 o' clock for the first time in months. I ignored the first alarm, and hit snooze. Falling asleep pretty quickly, I looked over the side of the bed. A number of wasps were crawling about on the floor. Many more were emerging from various items of clothing. Ants, beetles, and a number of other disgusting insects followed, with some taking flight and landing on my face. It was then that I actually woke up in a cold sweat. With much effort, I turned my head to the floor to find out it was just another sick dream. But those vile thoughts lingered for another 5 minutes as I groggily put my clothes on. Ugh. The past week has been uneventful, up until the start of the weekend. On the Friday, I went to a party at a friends, which kicked off an entire weekend of drinking, acting like an idiot, and meeting some great new people. According to sources I ate a BLT sandwich naked in front of two people I'd known for 2 days. I also attacked my boyfriend in my sleep. Again. Elbowing him hard in the face can be added to
-Slapping his face (twice)
-Punching him in the chin
-Attempting to wrench his fingers from his arm
-Spitting in his face
-Talking nonsense to him, which ranges from mumbling about the process of animation to shouting about utility bills
All while unconscious. Aren't I romantic?

I hope you enjoyed last week's post, but I'm leaving part 2 until next week because I think it's a bit repetitive to do two music blogs in a row. This week I'm going to do a review. My last one seemed to go okay, although I gave everything the same rating and I became increasingly aggressive even though the alcohol was pleasant. This week's items are not alcoholic, but I have nevertheless decided to drink some booze in order to review fairly and accurately. The products I will be reviewing this week are the four limited edition flavours brought out by Nestle for the kit-kat. My blog description says I have a love of cider and a sweet tooth. I've yet to expose my sweet tooth to the blogging world so I thought 'why not?'

Kit-kats. Four of the bastards.
So here's the deal - kit-kat is keeping one of these flavours based on the votes on their website. I assume the winner will be the one with the most votes, but these sort of things never seem to work out. My drink of choice is 2 litres of cheap cider, so to to give you a comparison I'm about as drunk as when I finished those three bottles in my last review. I still have 2/3s of the bottle to go. Videogame of choice is Spyro 2, the first flavour is white chocolate. Here we go!

I have to say that white chocolate works surprisingly well with the biscuit on my first impression. This is, however, my first bite. By the end I'm going to be on the verge of vomiting and my teeth will be reduced to dust. It reminds me that I rather like chunky kit-kats. The chocolate is always thick enough and the wafer adds a bit of depth. I doubt that will change much with each flavour. I can't say much else, really. Nestle have white chocolate sussed (Exhibit A: Milky Bars) so you can pretty much imagine what it is like.

Fuck, these monkeys are hard to kill. 'Sparx' the dragonfly takes the hits for Spyro, so the poor bastard is getting rocks battered against his tiny frame while Spyro chills. I really love this game, fantastic soundtrack too. You know, I used to have a bit of a crush on sp- uhm ahem...yeah, the next kit-kat. Orange! I could eat this normally, but these guys aren't Terry's when it comes to chocolate orange. That piled on top of the fact that a lot of folk aren't keen on orange anyway gives me the gut feeling that this won't win. Not too bad though.

It's just a cartoon dragon you sick fuck, you get
no captions tittering about how 'horny' he is
Yeah, you have to flame the monkeys at the top of your jump, and you have to be really close as well. There are some snails elephants that don't die from the charge attack too, which is a bitch because they are pretty fast. This game really makes me miss the age of platforming games. I don't know if I don't see them as much because shooters have taken over in general, or because I've simply grown out of them. I remember playing a Playstation 2 version of Spyro, and although it wasn't that different it lost a lot of its charm. Ah. Peanut butter now. This is a controversial one for me. In the states, the yanks have fully embraced peanut butter and sugary treats. But I remain distinctly British. My tongue just doesn't seem to appreciate the blend even though I love both separately. But I like this one. A lot. The peanut butter is smooth and creamy, for some reason I just can't like crunchy peanut butter. It isn't loaded with the stuff to a disgusting degree, so I'm very happy. So far this has my vote. Very good.

Double chocolate now. Don't know what to say about this one, really. There is another layer of slightly different chocolate under the main skin. As much as I like chocolate, it's just 'okay' and the concept feels half-arsed. I thought they might have done something to the wafer at least. Again, it isn't making me throw up but it isn't really winning my heart over. Bland.

I'm giving this an abrupt ending, because the booze and the early start this morning are slowly hypnotising me. Part 2 of my 2011 music is coming up next week, so keep yer eyes on this blog.

What I'm currently listening to > \Public Image Ltd - Flowers of Romance/

Thanks for reading!