Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hybrid by Michael Brook

Breathless, intimate,
Distant yet immediate,
Hybrid is so lush.

Michael Brook's 1985 solo debut album, Hybrid, obviously isn't new. I discovered it and him via David Sylvian's live album Damage on which Michael plays along with Robert Fripp.

Produced with contributions from Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, Hybrid features some of the most beautiful ambient guitar playing I've ever heard. The guitar has a muted timbre that gives it the quality of a distant vocal while at the same time the compositions have an immediacy, a present intimacy.

Give it a listen on YouTube and decide for yourself.

I highly recommend Hybrid for anyone who is a fan of progressive ambient music. And now I can't wait to find out more about what Brook has been doing in the nearly 30 years since.

Brook's website is where you can find a lot of music freely available for download.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

If you desire to be good...

Care to watch a mashup of all 135 Space Shuttle launches?

Mixtape 8 from The Hood Internet is available for streaming and/or downloading from Soundcloud.

I've already pre-ordered the new CD from the Levin Brothers. Give a listen to a modern take on 1950s smooth jazz. Read more here.

Jackson Pollock, Lucifer, 1947
During 1957 and 1958, William Faulkner was Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia. In addition to transcripts of his various discussions, there are audio clips where the man himself shares insight into his writing.  On a related note and also related to the recent passing of Lauren Bacall, did you know that Faulkner wrote the screenplay for Bacall's film To Have and Have Not?

Mysterious sounds. Unexplained sounds. The slow-down. The bloop. The wow.

The Space Shuttle photographed from the ISS. source
To my architect friends: when are you gonna design a chair?

Less mysterious, but ambient, long-playing sounds. A complete playlist of them, from Star Trek engine noise to the Death Star (12 hours worth), to 2001 to Blade Runner. (I think they threw in 12 hours of Jabba the Hutt laughing just for... well, laughs.)

Need mo' video? Check out this supercut of computer hacking from 1980s films.

They say watching the Teletubbies slowed down 500x is horrifying but in my opinion it allows you see, experience, and enjoy every subtlety of theatrical genius. This should be on Inside the Actor's Studio.
From the Journal of Polar Biology: penguins produce pressures of around 60 kPa to expel their feces away from the nest, a pressure level much higher than that produced by humans during defecation.

Twas a dark and stormy night. This year's winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (i.e. write the worst opening sentence to a novel) have been announced. If you like moose, read on.

Chocolate Legos. Edible. Buildable. If you act fast, you might be able to get this on the shelves before the Xmas buying season. And you'd make a fortune.
I must not be smart enough to be a particle physicist because I can't quite figure out how CERN's game Particle Clicker works.
On the right is a tiny nano-printed copy of Monet's Impression Sunrise. Your desktop printer is 300 dpi, this new technology is 30,000 dpi.
...begin by believing that you are wicked. ~Epictetus

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Music is the silence...

In the essay The Pellucid Sound of Rain we delve into the gray area between silence and noise; rain and music; Chopin, Sakamoto, and Malhar. I have linked before to articles about the search for quiet including predictions of dystopian futures in which only the rich will be able to afford silence. Take a few minutes with this one.

Great photo of Mt. Fuji's shadow at sunset by Kris J B.
Finally there's an equation that describes how fashionable your outfit is.

Video of nighttime in Fort Worth, 2011. The Fort.

Consideration of possible use of nuclear weapons in Viet Nam.

I have been reserving my aviation pr0n for my Pinterest board but here's an exception: video recollections orf an SR-71 pilot.

40 warships sailing together. source
Animation Scoop brings us the 2nd trailer from The Penguins of Madagascar. We can only hope the entire movie will be this funny.

I offer this shitty map graphic as an example of what not to do: favorite cereal by state.

Faulkner, in his own words, and his own voice. Recordings of him during his time at U. Virginia. There's even him reading from The Sound and The Fury and trust me, it's less dramatic than the audiobook I'm listening too now.

If you're a man, the results of Harvard's 75-year study on what men need to live a happy life is probably going to be of interest. There are lots of details but two high points are: happiness = love, alcoholism = bad.

Why does Speed Racer's helmet have an M on it?
In the original, Japanese version of Speed Racer, the title character's name is Go Mifune so the M on Speed's helmet is for Mifune. The truly interesting part of this trivia is that the name Mifune is a tribute to actor Toshiro Mifune who's famous for Seven Samurai (fantastic) and other films.

Grand Prize winner of Cartoon Brew's Student Film Fest, Mr. Piggy Dies in 25 Dimensions is not for sensitive people. But for everyone else, it's great.

How about a Game about Squares? No instructions, just figure it out as you go.

Can you guess which abstract artist's painting was the inspiration for this floral arrangement?
Here's a hint. She's the top-selling female artist of all time. And it's not Georgia O'Keeffe. And you can read more about the growing popularity of female artists.

Remember when I told you about the voting for Art Everywhere, the program to post images of works of art throughout the U.S? Well, voting is over and it's now happening. Check out the interactive map to find where art is posted in your area. For my Fort Worth friends there's a de Kooning on NW 28th.

Working with all those tiny parts is what makes watchmaking a craft. But did you ever wonder how all those tiny things themselves get manufactured? More craft pr0n than you can shake a stick at.

This Way Up is one of those games involving abstract art that I, as a fan of abstraction, dread. You see a painting and have to guess which end is up. I got 3 of 5 right.

Where do you go to get your poo authenticated? Is this or is it not a 6 million year old fossil feces?
And now, spend some time with your Gentle Brain.

...between the notes. ~Claude Debussy

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Next

The girl who did these
things was a truly a complex,
unique character.

My friend Chris said that the 2nd of Stieg Larsson's three thrillers that began with the hit The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was the best. That's why I had to read both The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest consecutively to see whether I agree with him.

I do. Fire gave me the most surprising plot twist in any book that I can recall. Overall the book delivered consistent intrigue without the squirmy and nasty sex from the first book.

Hornet's Nest took way too looooooooooooong time to get going.

Larsson's protagonist was a pretty unique character and his death makes me wonder if we'll ever read anything about Lisbeth Salander again. At least the trilogy makes for good reading.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Joys of Air Travel

How much fun is air travel?

Airlines added baggage fees. Travelers don't want to pay baggage fees. Travelers carry-on their baggage. End result? Steerage class on the Titanic was probably less cluttered and territorial.

Airlines now charge for "food." Travelers don't want to pay for that "food." Travelers bring food onto the plane. End result? The aircraft cabin smells like a Taco Bell dumpster at an August high-noon.

Travelers like their electronic devices. Travelers personalize them with all sorts of sounds. End result? The aircraft cabin sounds like an Akihabara pachinko hall on payday.

Yes, I ride in the back as a matter of practice. And that's why the perks I love the most from my frequent flier plan are the upgrades.

Now, if I could only earn some.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

When the past no longer illuminates the future...

Careful. You can get lost for hours in Every Noise at Once. More music genres than you every knew existed are arrayed on the screen and a single click gives you a brief sound sample so you can hear the subtle difference between experimental dubstep and future garage, between black sludge and crossover thrash.

The museum of endangered sounds.

I've heard a lot of bizarre music in my time but Maryanne Amacher's work may be the most... something.

Here are five pretty reasonable ways that the Soviets could have won the Cold War. And if you think the 1970s was only regrettable for its fashions, read on.

Take 50 seconds for a video on the Elements of Design.

Science: The Quest for Symmetry. tl;dr

Kazimir Malevich, Black Square, 1929
What is there to say about a painting of a black square? Apparently quite a bit.

  • It is still becoming. It is imperfectly human.
  • It is the simultaneous reduction to empty materiality and the infinite.
  • It is a regrettable artistic gesture.

Can the internet keep you calm? Here at 10 website that try.

Google's hosting over 800 vintage photos from inside the Hanna Barbara studios.

There's Airbnb for finding yourself a place to stay. So why not AirWC for a place to poop?

Sink slowly.

...the spirit walks in darkness. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

Damage by David Sylvian and Robert Fripp & Everything and Nothing by David Sylvian

The damage is done.
Shadow Sun Earthbound Starblind
I'm tied to someone.

I started writing that I had no idea how I went so long without even knowing that Sylvian and Fripp's Damage existed. But then I realized that's a stupid thing to say. Of course there are innumerable albums that I'm not aware of.

Anyway, thanks to Trey Gunn for posting on Facebook something along the lines of "I can't believe it's been 20 years since this" with a link to a YouTube video a performance from the Damage tour. One click, one listen, and I knew I had to have this album.

It's no surprise that the individual performances on Damage are impeccable: David Sylvian on vocals & keyboards, Robert Fripp on guitar, Pat Mastelotto on drums, Michael Brook on guitar, and Trey Gunn on bass.What makes this album special is the contrast between Sylvian's smooth, reluctant, languid  tenor (think Brian Ferry from Roxy Music) and the band's sharp, bright, and expressive performance. And as a live concert recording there's a certain spontaneity and intimacy to the album. (I've read others say that Damage is superior to the studio recording of these works.)

The video below is Sylvian and the band performing Wave, my favorite track from the album. Simply beautiful.

After falling in love with Damage I had to educate myself more on Sylvian's work which is where his "best of" album Everything & Nothing comes in. All I can say is that Sylvian is darn good lyricist.

Then, of course, I had to learn more about guitarist Michael Brook so I got his Hybrid album. But that's for another day.

The story goes that Fripp asked Sylvian to front one of the former's incarnations of King Crimson but he declined. Damage is a great window on what might have been.

You can learn more about David Sylvian at his website You can find the other performers on the album here:

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.