Friday, 4 June 2010

Music as Meditation - Introspective and Dedicated listening

Do you ever use music to relax? I'm betting most people do, in the form of some background music whilst they read a magazine or work on their computers. But do you ever really focus on what you're listening to, getting lost inside it and using it as a form of meditation?

In this post I'm going to share some of the methods I use when I really want to relax or listen closely to a piece of music. I'm not saying that this is how it should be done, or that this is the best way to do it, but its just what works best for me and what I like doing.

I made an Ambient album, and its completely FREE to download

If anybody wants to hear the kind of music that I make, this is a sample from my more relaxed side. Its a collection of pieces I've made over the past year, some structured and others experimental exploration. I've divided it into two 'EPs' so to speak - The first one (Windowledge Doll EP) is shorter, more relaxed and consisted mostly of Pianos, keyboards and string arrangements. The second (The Red Noise EP) is darker and, despite only having two tracks, is longer than the former (mainly due to the first track clocking in at 30 minutes!). The title track was made mostly using iPhone apps as instruments, whilst the second is based on my favourite JFK speech.

The link is HERE if you want it.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think ;)

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Any form of competitive music is complete and utter bullshit

I'm not just talking X-Factor/Idol and Eurovision, I'm talking Battle of the Bands as well. Little things like this have absolutely no meaning with regards to quantifying the quality of music, as is well demonstrated by the almost universal hatred of all the "winners" of competitions such as these, despite how many thousands of people there seem to be who cause them to "win" this pretty much useless competition.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Poetry vs Prolapse - what defines "good lyrics"?

Lyrics are traditionally a central part of the song. After all, how else do you know what the song is about? The title can sometimes be an indicator but its quintessentially the lyrics which are telling the story.

And just like music, there seem to be categorically "good" lyrics and definitively "bad" lyrics. Whats the difference between the two?

New Music Review - Darko

Todays review is a high-energy punk band with heavier riffs, technical influences and a whole lot of attitude. Their EP is streaming now on their Myspace page, have a listen whilst you read!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Tapping into the teen market - what are the kids listening to today?

Its a good market to tap into, if you think about it.

There's been grunge, theres rap, there was Nu Metal, there's all this goth stuff and now theres that "Emo" thing. If there's one fact they all have in common, its a huge, fanatical teenage audience. Also, there's an equally large group of slightly older haters. Haters gonna hate.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

What makes a great album truly "great"?

We've all got a few albums, maybe a lot of albums, maybe just one, which you keep coming back to. Or perhaps you only come back to it once in a while, but it still surprises you when you listen to it again or it just never 'gets old'. You always enjoy listening to it when it comes on, sometimes you hear one song from it and you instantly have to reach for that CD (or vinyl or mp3 folder!) and listen to the whole thing through.

What is it about these albums which is so good? Is it something we can pinpoint and quantify?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Do you think that arguing about music is actually really pathetic?

Even though I love doing it on a daily basis, as do millions of people around the world, its really quite funny how silly a pastime it is. Loads of people are passionate about the music they love, and are equally passionate about denouncing the music which they hate, music which is awful and should be wiped off the face of the earth.

But again I have to ask the question: What is music? What exactly are we arguing about when we argue about music?

New Music Review - Blind Image

Another new band from India, this one goes under the moniker of Blind Image.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Ok, that was more than a 'brief' lapse in communications!

Hi everybody, I'm back!

Apologies for the extended lack of posting. Its taken me a while to recover from several nights of bad sleep, and I've been busy sorting some personal and useless-estate-agent related things lately. I'm definitely going to try and find some time to post some new reviews as promised, at the moment my head is still heavy and cloudy and as such I can't do any objective listening. Well, I can listen to music, but not in a way that I'd like to base a review on - I don't want to be unfair in any of the reviews, so they'll have to wait until I'm clear headed! Sorry...

Hope you are all well, and still loving music!


Thursday, 22 April 2010

A brief lapse in communications

I will be absent from the realm of the Internet as I'm going camping with the missus until Sunday! Regular posting will resume on Monday, starting with not one, but two review posts; the first will be another up-and-coming band from India, Blind Image. The next will be a review of Gavin Castleton's concept EP, "A Bullet, A Lever, A Key".

Until then, feel free to comment here or on our Facebook Page.

Have a great weekend with the music you love!


Monday, 19 April 2010

A word about "Sound Quality"

Ever since CD's became a widespread media, there has been an ongoing debate about several tiers of so called 'sound quality'. Words have been thrown around such as 'pristine', 'warm', 'lifeless', 'punchy', 'tight' and many, many more. Then mp3s came out, and more and more of the recording industry became digital. Arguments still carry on about 'Analog vs Digital'.

These days, most of us listen to mp3s, or AACs, or wma's, or some sort of digital format. Apparently the youthful generation 'prefers' the sound of mp3s. So is there really any difference in all of this? How does it affect this thing we call music?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

New Music Review - Limit Zero

Time for something new. As well as reviewing the bigger bands who have their CDs in shops and a big fanbase, I'll also be reviewing up-and-coming artists from all around the world - If you have a band with an album or an EP recorded, let me know here or at our Facebook page and I'll put you down for a review. You'll have to send me your music too!

Today's band is Limit Zero, from India.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Whats in a name?

I think this blog could do with a better name. Something shorter - a lot shorter - but catchy, easy to remember and representative of what I do here. Oh, and it can't already be taken (which every good idea I come up with these days seems to be).

Any ideas are most welcome!


The wonders and horrors of Autotune

It seems as though nobody has to sing in key anymore. Radio artists everywhere are sticking this "Autotune" thing on their voices to sound like a robotic warble and it takes no effort whatsoever. Its ruined the Black Eyed Peas for good, and its fooling people everywhere.

What's it all about?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Meshuggah - The massive Review

Meshuggah are a crazy band, and one that have divided my opinion. I used to love them, and then just as quickly as I fell in love with them, I began to fall out of love with them. As crazy and intense as they are, their lack of dynamic quickly became boring to me and I never really went back to them.

First, a word about Meshuggah for the uninitiated. I'm not going to try and pidgeon-hole them into any particular genre, but some tag words which you could use to describe them are "Math-metal", "Progressive Metal", "Experimental" and "Downright insane".

Have you ever heard a down-tuned guitar? Meshuggah took it a step further, going almost an octave lower than the standard guitar tuning (yes, practically a bass) and now play guitars with 8 strings on them. Ever heard an odd time signature? Meshuggah again took it a step further and play music which is pretty much a consistent jumble of polyrhythms, usually over an implied 4/4 backbeat on the drums to allow you to headbang along. Despite this, they also have moments of very sparse, ambient and sometimes disturbing soundscapes.

So what's my current opinion of the band?

Its not background music for sure. Meshuggah are a band which you have to sit and listen to, you can study it and find a whole wealth of crazy ideas or you can just let it drag you in - its quite hypnotic in a certain way. However, this is what I've always had a problem with. Despite it being deep music which is great for sitting and listening to, its unique over-the-top level of relentless brutality gets tiring. There are only two dynamics within Meshuggah's music - insanely heavy metal, and its-quiet-almost-too-quiet bad-LSD-trip infused ambient gaps.

I'll probably address this again and again as I listen, but its one of those marmite qualities about their music. Some like this incredibly stark contrast - I myself love a lot of music with stark contrast. However, the fact that Meshuggah takes it to both extremes makes it a fatiguing listen for me. Its so heavy and relentless, and needs some dynamic, but when you get to the quiet but it tends to feel like its dragging on too long and all of a sudden you're wanting the brutality back. Its tension and release, but I feel that its tension and release taken too far.

These are just my own reactions to the band, though. They have a legion of fans who love this tension and release, and who could listen to the brutality on repeat all day. To those people, I give kudos. My brain can only handle so much extreme complexity within a space of time under normal listening conditions.

So anyway, I've decided to come back to them now. I'm going to listen to every single album, in no particular order, and give a fair subjective review on their work. Perhaps I'll come out of this with a new found love, perhaps I'll think they're boring and pretentious, who knows.

Here goes.

The Art of reccomending music to other people

Do you ever show your friend a band you think is awesome, and they seem underwhelmed but then a few weeks (months or years!) down the line they suddenly say "Dude, have you heard xxxx? They're awesome!" and you say "Yeah...I said that to you ages ago"?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

But is it music? Ambience, drones, noise and more.

Its not the most mainstream genre of music, but it is still out there and people do still listen to it. Ambient music, drone-based music and even pure noise. Just like asking whether throwing paint at a canvas is art, some may question whether this is actually music or just a lazy attempt at being pretentiously 'artistic'.

What do you think?

Music and the big, evil corporation that is Apple

Music lovers love Apple. Music lovers hate Apple.

Just like the constant flame war between computer users and phone users, the same goes on with music lovers; Apple's dominance of the downloads market, mp3 players, iTunes and DRM. Is it really all that bad?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Don't try to get your song on the radio, you'll ruin it

Despite the fact that most mainstream radios just play crap these days, occasionally they can play good songs. Some mainstream artists, believe it or not, release fantastic songs. But the radio ruins them, the more successful a song is, the more its ruined.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

If you really love music, you'll spend a lot of money on Headphones

I seriously think that dedicated headphone listening is underrated these days. Especially with music you love the most.

I'm not talking about your iPod earbuds, or any in-ear tacky headphone on any mp3 player you listen to on the bus to work. I only use these to half listen to music so that I have an interesting soundtrack to my lonely walks.

No, I'm talking about taking some music you love and putting some awesomely huge expensive earphones on and just listening.

Porcupine Tree: My favourite band, reviewed to death.

Absolutely everyone who knows me in real life knows how much I rave about this band, and in particular the frontman/writer/arranger/producer Steven Wilson. If you already know and love Porcupine Tree, then this blog post won't really give you anything new. I thought I'd just add to the reviews on this page and review as much Porcupine Tree as I can be bothered to.

Meaning, 'I was gonna review every single album but they have too many'. Plus, its hard to review the really old Porcupine Tree without a half-burnt joint and some ambient lighting for context.

So anyway, read on for a lot of words, about the band that is, for me, the greatest one ever.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Music Journalism - don't believe a word you read

Oh, its too easy.

"So music journalism sucks, huh? Then how come YOU are writing about music?!"

Indeed. Another contradiction within a blog full of contradictions. As I always say when such an occurrence happens; Such is the nature of music. Read on for lots more glaring contradictions!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Review: t.A.T.u - Waste Management

An entire album presented as a single hour-long song? Sign me up!

Of course, most people remember Tatu (which I'm going to type as a word because the mix of capitals and full stops takes too long) as the "omg lesbian marketing scam". Of course, it was successful in creating a stir, but then they kinda vanished. Since then, they now have 3 albums out, the latest of which (Happy smiles) has been re-jigged into a single and called "Waste Management".

Blatant repackaging or artistic beauty? Read on.

Friday, 2 April 2010

The Ultimate Rule of Music

Flying defiant to the very title of this blog, as is the contradictory nature of music, is the number one truth about music. Possibly the only truth. One which we all deny, and we all break. Me included. But it helps to remember it.

If at least one person likes a piece of music, then it is good music.

Thus, there is no such thing as bad music.

Are we falling madly OUT of love with music?

These days, everybody's music collection is huge. My own personal collection is almost 30GB worth, and iTunes tells me that its about 2 weeks long if I listened to absolutely everything, back to back.

But does having all the music in the world at our fingertips take away the personal relationship we have with it?

Thursday, 1 April 2010

How to play a damn good gig

Of course, all of this is my opinion and is garnered from my own meandering experience, but take from it what you will and add what you think is missing.
Too many times I’ve been to gigs and been disappointed by otherwise good bands. Writing songs and playing them in front of a crowd is one thing, but playing a good gig…well, that can be a whole new kettle of fish.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Anyone can make music, here's how to get started

So, all these countless bands on Myspace, they don't all get studio time do they?

As I've said in a previous post, there are just too many bands out there. They all have music up on the Myspace player, sometimes good, sometimes awful. If you've ever wanted to know how easy it is to get some of your own music up there, here's how.

So, you're going to music college?

There are a lot of popular music colleges and courses popping up with a variety of performance courses for modern musicians. Some look a lot like a school for wannabe rockstars, but will they actually get you success in the music industry?

So, you want to start a band?

Everyone dreams of being a rockstar. I still have that dream. I have a band and I'm still reaching for the sky.

The only problem is, there are too many bands out there - and you think YOUR band is going to be the next big thing? Good luck.

There is a ray of hope. Read and consume.

NICKELBACK - The good, the bad, and the suck

Nickelback are my favourite band to talk about. Why is that?

Because everybody hates them. So much.

I know exactly why everyone hates them. I know all the songs they hate. I hate some of those songs too. You can't get past the fact that some of those songs are really contrived and awful.

So why post about this band that everybody hates?

Well, to put it bluntly: I fucking love Nickelback.

Oh, here's your new favourite song

I heard it on the radio a bazillion times.

Metallica vs Megadeth

Wait...did I just go there? I think I did.

In all manner of speaking, this is the musical equivalent of the Mac vs PC debate. There is no conclusion, each side has fanboys with massive raging hard-ons for their chosen side, and everybody is wrong.

So lets have some fun.

Three reasons why people hate music, and why they're doing it wrong.

Subtitle - FLAME ME

Of course, always remember that these are my opinions. I believe in them myself, but they are still mine, and I don't necessarily believe that they should be yours. But I still think I have a point.

We've all heard these before, probably when telling somebody about your new (or long time) favourite band, or when getting to know somebody and the conversation turns to music.

However, they're all doing it wrong. This may be a long post...

Everybody's perception of music is wrong!

But mine is right.

How many people do you know who have this view on the music that they love? How many of them are metal fans?

Of course, its more than metal fans. In fact, its most fans of most music, but especially the ones that like one genre more than the others.