Saturday, January 31, 2015

6 Reflections by Markus Reuter

This gift of music
reveals itself in new ways
with each listening.

I hope you took advantage of Markus Reuter's gift to his fans and music lovers everywhere when he made his album 6 Reflections available for free at the end of 2014. (I tweeted; don't blame me if you missed out.)

3 of the 6 tracks are studio recordings, Glaus Haus 1-3. Two tracks are live recordings from the Crimson ProjeKCt tour. And the remaining track is a remix of Glaus Haus 1. All feature Markus' work on Touch Guitar. These works are open, breathy and contemplative - as opposed to inwardly ponderous - and sinuously layered. They are a perfect backdrop for relaxed thought or working on the computer. Give one a listen:

The album is available from iapetus for €4 (digital download only). Whatever the price, 6 Reflections is a beautiful work. Thank you, Markus, for this gift.

Markus' website is

I received no compensation of any kind for this review other than downloading the album when it was freely available.

Enjoy present pleasures in such a way...

Let's begin with a little chill from Robin Guthrie, recorded live at KEXP, in the first three videos of this playlist.

Music on CD sounds better than music on vinyl. I can hear the purists howling now. I can hear the kids asking now: "What's a CD? What's vinyl?"

Magnified in both space and time, corals and sponges reveal themselves in the video Slow Life.
When you drill through the Antarctic ice sheet to a depth of nearly 2,500 feet and hit the sea floor, you might not expect to find fish.

Geek out with every issue of Popular Electronics magazine from 1954 to 1982.

America's top jobs for 2015: #2 Software Engineer, #12 Mechanical Engineer, #25 Sales Engineer.

How many of you thought that door was a real movie set? Welcome to the age before digital effects - matte paintings - as used in Star Wars.
More scifi film stuff. Art of the Scene dissects the iconic chesterburster scene from Alien, one of my all-time favorite movies. In the video there's a line about the set design of the Nostromo and its claustrophobic quarters: "The habits and vices of human life springing up in the cracks between machines." I found this to be an apt parallel to the actual chestburster, alien life springing up between the cracks in the human ribcage.

This sonnet was created from my Twitter stream by Poetweet.
Big thinkers share big thoughts about the next 15 years and what 2030 will be like. The guy from the Council on Foreign Relations was a real downer (The world of 2030 "will resemble today's, only almost everything will be more difficult to manage and solve.") while others sound like unfounded happy thoughts (Stanford: "Within two decades, we will have almost unlimited energy, food and clean water.") I kinda like what Esther Dyson said about childhood education and health.

Prefer more near-term predictions? Check out these predictions for 2015 including a Google-Twitter merger.

This may be my favorite map of all time: every goat in the United States, 500 per dot.
College students can now major in beer, the main difference relative to prior decades is that it actually appears on your diploma.

Everyone likes pizza. Therefore, perpetual pizza. to not injure future ones. ~Seneca

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Memory and Matter by Manual

Always by your side,
You always want to be touched.
I'm not going cruel.

Jonas Munk's (aka Manual) Memory and Matter is a 2 CD compilation of mixes and unreleased tracks and I'll steal another reviewer's words to describe them: "lush vibes."

One of the tracks that really resonated with me was the remixed Annie Barker track Cruel. The way he's layered the recording expands Barker's vocals and the backing work to fill the entire room. This is notable because it's not the type of tune I normally bond with. Hear for yourself with the video below. (Plus the lyrics prove the song isn't exactly what you think it's about.)

Also, I found Miraparque to be a throbbing, intoxicating arrangement. You can hear it on the Bandcamp page where the album is for sale.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

There is danger in being persuaded...

Turn on the rainy mood.

Stream this collaboration of Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer.

Singles from Trey Gunn's upcoming The Waters, They Are Rising are available on Bandcamp. They include his live improvised intros to Here Comes the Flood from the Security Project tour.

Jazz defined by 100 tracks. A lifetime of reading defined by 100 books. I think I counted 14 or 18 of the latter.

Gerhard Richter, Fuji, up for auction next month with an estimated price of $400,000.
Ray Lewis thinks the tuck rule is the only reason Tom Brady is famous. Of course, I think we all know why we know who Ray Lewis is.

"Creative spontaneity takes practice" and other thoughts on wit.

"Joviality, joking, relaxed kidding are the essence of creativeness.

"What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important."

Are you programming a "safety critical" application? If so, you might be interested in NASA's ten rules for writing such code. #4 No more than 60 lines of code per function.

The most iconic restaurant in each state. Texas = Salt Lick BBQ. OK, I get that one.  Ohio = The Golden Lamb. Never heard of it.

Most popular food by state. Texas = Tex-Mex? Sure. Ohio = Soup? What the hell is that?
Craft pr0n: umbrellas, Japanese wooden dolls.

Famous Disney artist Walt Peregoy recently passed away. In his memory, I rewatched 4 Artists Paint 1 Tree, one of the most interesting Disney things I've ever seen. What I wouldn't pay for 1 of these and to have all 4 would be too much to dream.

When a penny is worth $2.5 million - the 1792 Birch cent. And this only slightly outdid the $2.3 million paid for a 1793 Chain cent.

This seems incredibly cruel but for $10 you can have a package of glitter mailed to your friend (who will soon be your enemy when the stuff goes everywhere).

Science shares 8 reasons why reading real books is better than e-books. #4 Turning pages aids comprehension.

Who is too young for you to date? Half your age plus 7. 33? Really?

Think you know your hex color codes? Do you know them well enough to play and win Hex Invaders? I got through level 5.

...before one understands. ~Thomas Wilson

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Heist by Daniel Silva

The old witch told him
no harm must come to the girl.
She's at the center.

The Heist is the latest in a long line of novels I've read by Daniel Silva. It's centered on the exploits of Gabriel Allon, master restorer of Baroque Christian paintings and super spy from Israel's intelligence service.

This time we find Gabriel between jobs - he's restoring an altar masterpiece in Venice before returning to Tel Aviv to take over as head of The Office. So what better time to be tasked with locating one of the most famous stolen paintings: Caravaggio's Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence.

Where there's one stolen painting there are bound to be more and what complicates matters is who's stealing them and for what purpose.

Although the ending left me a bit unsatisfied, I enjoyed this installment perhaps more than any other of Silva's books and look forward to seeing what he has in store for Gabriel when he arrives home.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Beyond the Seventh Wave by Silhouette

This is a rare chance
to hear new music without
any biases.

Silhouette's album Beyond the Seventh Wave landed in my mailbox one day a couple of weeks ago completely unsolicited. In fact, I knew absolutely nothing about the band prior to receiving the CD.

So I decided to have a little fun with this. I would refrain from any and all research on the band, its members, or this album. Instead I would just listen and let my ears do the talking.

Prologue (2:32): OK, this sounds like it's contemporary progressive rock. Nice guitar solo layered over keyboards. Some wind instruments too.

Betrayed (1:42): No doubt. This is prog.

Web of Lies, Part I - The Vow (8:20): The mix is a little too light. Needs a bit more low end. Oh no, the vocals remind me of Al Yankovic. That's gonna be hard to get out of my head. If I had to guess, the vocalist is not a native English speaker; not in a bad way, but there's something in his annunciation.

Web of Lies, Part II - The Plot (4:31): Hits all the prog requisites.

In Solitary (6:16): Opening keyboard bit gives me a Tony Banks vibe. OK, this sounds like a concept album based on the story in the lyrics. It's hard to resist the urge to Google.

Escape (5:14): Ah, nice buzzy edge and pounding guitars to start this one. Nice build with keys. Probably my favorite track thus far.

Lost Paradise (10:19): Vocals and acoustic guitar to start. I'm wondering why the heavier tracks don't have vocals too.

Betrayed Again (1:25): Dang. Strong Genesis "Watcher of the Skies" sound.

Devil's Island (8:55): Al Yankovic is back. I knew I wouldn't forget that mental image. Speaking of images, I'm trying to figure out the significance of the butterfly on the cover which has been mentioned a couple of times in the lyrics.(Yes, I am looking at the CD's front and back covers but not reading any of the details or looking at the inside.)

Beyond the Seventh Wave (7:39): The title track ought to reveal something. This pulls together all the best bits of the other tracks - orchestration, keyboards, rumbling guitars. The bit with the violin gave me a Kansas flashback.

Wings to Fly (5:09): Just one more track and I can find out who these guys are. Drums sound kinda flat in this recording, especially the snare. Are they a new band with young folks? Prog vets come together for something new?

There's a lot of music on this album as you can tell from the track timings. And overall, this is a solid prog rock album. Admittedly, I haven't kept up with modern prog so I don't have a good basis for comparison. And therefore, I thank my mystery friend for sharing this fine bit of work.

And now, off to my Googling.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review. However, I did receive the CD at no cost.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Red Hope by J.J. Dreese

Images from Mars
then darkness. Who will we send
to discover hope?

It's cool and unique to personally know someone who has authored and published a book. J.J. Dreese is the latest with Red Hope, a sci-fi tale of portentous images beamed back to earth by the Mars rover Curiosity - right before the rover goes dark.

I recommend you give it a try.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Confidence in others' honesty...

A "Hidden Mickey" is the deliberate placement of a Mickey Mouse head and ears (i.e. 3 circles) in obscure places. Books have been published about all the Hidden Mickeys at the Disneyland and Disney World parks. But they're in Disney movies too as revealed by the animators themselves.

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #54, 1972. source. Today seemed like a good day for something especially beautiful.
If you need to get caught up on your reading of Newton's works, checkout the Newton Project.

Here's a behind-the-scenes preview of how 20 Go-Pro cameras were used to capture The Aristocrats live performance in Tokyo for their upcoming DVD.

An extensive interview from Innerviews with bassist Colin Edwin, "a serial collaborator."

The Hubble Space Telescope retook this image of  the Eagle Nebula (aka The Pillars of Creation)  with spectacular results. I have the original 1995 image framed at the office.

When Malcom Gladwell quotes from Steven Brill's Obamacare book "It [Obamacare] did heroic [emphasis mine] work in broadening coverage and redistributing wealth from the haves to the have-nots." I feel only disgust and anger. The review describes a psuedo-intellectual exercise in social engineering that is contemptuous and vacuous and leaves one feeling stained by its deceit.

On a related note, read how America's intelligentsia at Harvard feel about things when they're on the receiving end.

Mr. Gladwell should stick to writing pop-psychology du jour masquerading as business text. That's just for this review. God knows what Brill's book is actually like.


They've discovered a new antibiotic (in dirt) that seems to be effective and resistant to resistance.

Remember Ebola? If so, your computer can help in the fight against this disease via World Community Grid.

Damp derrieres leads to diaper rash. Hence the Baby Butt Fan. My only question: do they have an adult version? no light testimony of one's own integrity. ~Michel de Montaigne

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Candylion by Harold Budd & Clive Wright

Oh Candylion,
your sweet roar whispers to me

Released only seven months apart, Candylion is the sequel to the previous collaboration between Harold Budd and Clive Wright, A Song for Lost Blossoms. (You can read my thoughts on that album here.)

Unlike its predecessor's longer tracks, Candylion features shorter, more structured, and perhaps more conventional tracks that approach almost soundtrack-ish quality. (I may be influenced by my recent listening to Budd's collaboration with Robin Guthrie on the soundtrack to White Bird in a Blizzard.)

The title track (clocking in at 5:41) is a perfect example of the interplay of Wright's guitar and Budd's keyboards, gliding in waves over and around each other. You can hear it yourself here.

Down to the cover art for both albums that features a heart nested within boxes, Candylion and Lost Blossoms are a superb ambient pairing.

Now all that remains is to add the third work in this trio: Little Windows.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

The secret to success is giving, not getting. Hence the title's play on words: be a go-giver not a go-getter.

Here are the laws of stratospheric success, as illustrated in Bob Burg and John David Mann's The Go-Giver.

The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. Less a strategy and more a way of life. Have a greater passion for what you're giving than what you're getting.

The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. Your compensation is directly proportional to how many lives you touch.

The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first. Forget win-win; focus on the other person's win.

The Law of Authenticity: The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. Be a real person.

The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. It's better to give than receive but each gift requires a recipient.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Real generosity to the future...

Craft pr0n of the week: making a carved candle and taking apart a Rolex.

The patience required to create stop-motion animation is well beyond my ability to comprehend. Check out this clip from the closing credits of The Boxtrolls.

Cooking for one? Here's your weekly grocery list.

In case you didn't read teh interwebs last year you missed learning that early risers are more unethical at night and 99 other factoids.

Here's another perspective on the passage of time. What does it mean that it's 2015? For one thing, The Empire Strikes Back was released closer to WWII than today. Put that, and these other facts about 2015, in your pipe and smoke it.

Clyfford Still, PH-1039, 1977. source
For a taste of what Rare Noise Records was up to last year, checkout their playlist RareNoise Anno 2014 on Soundcloud.

When you only have 20 B-2 stealth bombers at $2.1 billion each, you don't hesitate to spend $100 million to fix one that crashes and burns.

Here's a quiz on baseball slang. I got 9 of 14 correct.

Sunspot activity via x-rays superimposed on an ultraviolet image of the sun's surface. source
Genesis keyboard player Tony Banks talks about this, that, and the other.

In which we learn that mathematicians don't have a rigorous definition for hole.

...lies in giving all to the present. ~Albert Camus

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Favorite Music of 2014

And now the other shoe drops with the alluded-to second year-end post, this one about the music I enjoyed the most during 2014. Please note that I am not implying this music is new (i.e. released in 2014) just that it's new to me.

The highlight of 2014 for me in music was the remastered version of 1993's live album damage by David Sylvian. An absolutely enthralling performance featuring Robert Fripp's bright guitar accenting and slicing like the proverbial hot knife through the buttery richness of Sylvian's lyrics and vocal performance.

I must've been living under a rock to have not heard about this recording for 20 years. Thank goodness Trey Gunn (or was it Pat Mastelotto?) posted about it on Facebook. The two of them were in the band with Fripp and Sylvian along with Michael Brook on Guitar.

I could listen to this for days and in fact I did when I discovered it on YouTube before buying the CD.

Wave may be my favorite track on the album. Here it is.

Another live (or at least partly live) performance that made itself at home in my brain this year was Supercollider by Stick Men.

As I wrote at the time, this is the album to purchase if you are new to Stick Men (Tony Levin, Markus Reuter, Pat Mastelotto). As indicated by the album's subtitle (Anthology: 2010-2014) the first disc consists of a "best of compilation" of tracks from their previous albums.

But the gem for me was disc 2, a collection of live improvisations by the band from their DEEP tour in 2013. "My God - it's full of stars!"

In the live performance below of their song Whale Watch you will experience what I characterize as their elegant power.

Which brings me to these lovable knuckleheads, The Aristocrats, and their Culture Clash album.

In the same way that Monty Python can effortlessly and seamlessly blend absurd physical comedy, Schopenhauer, and Cardinal Richelieu into an iconic performance that stands the test of time, Guthrie Govan, Marco Minnemann, and Bryan Beller perform some of the best instrumental jazz, rock, blues, pop, metal progressive I've ever heard and do so with equally high degrees of musicianship, aplomb, and humor. (Wait until you see/hear them performing on squeaky rubber toy animals and cell phones.)

I could have listened to their performances for days and each time pick out a new riff that I never noticed before. They manage to play complex music in a way that doesn't sound complicated and is, in fact, incredibly pleasing.

Here for example, is the band performing the song Culture Clash live.

Honorable mention goes to the Elements box set from King Crimson's recent tour.

Lest you think I'm short-changing the godfather of all progressive rock bands (Mr. Fripp) by relegating this work to only "honorable mention" status, I enjoy a good compilation of alternate tracks from a band's career as much as the next guy. But what I yearn for is new stuff.
What's Coming in 2015

On the topic of new stuff, I hear that many new things are coming in 2015. In late January King Crimson's Live at the Orpheum from their recent tour will be released. I've already pre-ordered The Aristocrats' Culture Clash Live. Steven Wilson's Hand. Cannot. Erase. is due out in February. It looks like the 3rd album from Naked Truth is coming in September. Who knows what else the new year will bring?