Archive: July 2007

Do I need to install an add-on to watch?

I love Firefox as much as the next web geek, but does it really need its own music festival? In Japan, it does, so reports Bounce.com. The Firefox Music Festival ’07 happens Sept. 15 with a line-up featuring a number of indie bands, including SXSW alumni Tsu*Shi*Ma*Mi*re. (I do like the name MARS EURYTHMICS, though.) The concert is being webcasted. I wonder if you can view it on Safari and Opera. I’m not even bothering with IE.

Access for the precocious

Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been like if the Internet was accessible to me back in high school. I remember getting into Kronos Quartet and a whole bunch of other late 20th Century music (most of them on Nonesuch) and pining for a glimpse into those scores. Even in my early college career, the resources on hand just weren’t enough.

There was no way the local sheet music sellers would have any of that stuff in stock, and the university library, while well-procured, didn’t exactly have the capacity for my voracious curiosity. So I contented myself with just being a listener and not the student I could have been.

Fast forward 10-15 years later, when anything can be had online, including sheet music. Sure, you could search Amazon for music scores, but Amazon is just going to direct you to Sheet Music Plus anyway. I discovered this site a while back, and on occasion, I’d visit, gawk and pine some more.

The issue now isn’t accessibility — it’s cost. Because if that weren’t an issue, man would I be going to town.

More »

Shiratori Maika releases new album in September

Both Kevin and V! have commented about the impending release of a new Shiratori Maika album, and I keep forgetting to post about it myself. So if you want to express your excitement over a new Shiratori album — the first in three years — please post here!

The album is titled Hikousen, and it’s scheduled for release on Sept. 12 on her new label, Universal Music. CD Japan lists the album at 2,381 yen, which is slightly less expensive than her releases on Pony Canyon.

My own funds have gotten tight that I’m actually going to have to depend on the Evil Sharing Networks to listen to this one. I liked Gemini, but I was somewhat lukewarm to Tougenkyou. So I’m going to approach this release with a bit of cautious optimism.

I do have to say the Japanese release schedule this year is far more appealing than what’s happening domestically.

Last.fm releases Winamp plugin with Unicode support

If you’re tired of seeing question marks every time Winamp scrobbles an MP3 with Japanese tagging, you’re in luck. Last.fm has released an updated Winamp plugin for testing. If you’re an old-school plugin user, you’ll have to install the client to take advantage of the Unicode support. You’ll also need to install Winamp 5.34 or later, since that’s the version and build in which the player fully supports Unicode.

After three months of no Scrobbling, I’ve started up again, and to test this update’s mettle, I played a bunch of Japanese-tagged files. Looks promising.

I can now start retagging my files to use Japanese. I could just keep it in Romaji (easier to read for me, at least) but I need the reading and writing practice. I’m also going to have to start feeding Last.fm all the stuff that I’ve been listening to these past three months.

Radio killed the record store star

I guess it all depends on how you stack the numbers. A professor in Dallas, Texas, performed a study which found a 0.75 drop in album sales for every hour of radio listening per person from 1998 to 2003, so says the New York Times (registration required or not.) I haven’t read the study, but the Times article characterizes the relationship as a correlation — not a causation.

That 0.75 drop could explained by any number of factors, not all (or any) of them related to radio. But what if radio were responsible for a drop in album sales? The reason I stopped listening to radio was because I just didn’t want to get sick of hearing some hit song over and over, even if it was something I originally liked. Overplay — that could kill an album sale. Personally, I just assume if it’s on the radio, it must suck anyway.

So yeah, I think I can buy into the idea that radio hurts album sales. Why not?

Exception for public radio and, perhaps, college stations.

Enigma: A Posteriori

I don’t take Enigma half as seriously as Michael Cretu does. If anything, his attempts at high mindedness usually end up being unintentionally humorous. I mean, what could be more obvious than sampling Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana on his previous album, The Screen Behind the Mask?

But at least he tries, and even if sampling Gregorian chant seems gimmicky, it still takes guts to do it.

At first, I listened to A Posteriori just to see if Cretu was still reaching beyond his means. In true music fan OCD fashion, I alphabetized my playlist and put Enigma right next to Eluvium’s copia. As a result, A Posteriori would start as copia would end. All that to say, I listened to A Posteriori more times than I planned.

And I have to say, it may actually be the first really decent Enigma album, if not ever then at least since MCMXC a.D.

More »

Eluvium: copia

Matthew Cooper is the focal point for a battle between two feuding muses. In one corner is the muse who directs him to explore new timbres through long, static, droning works. In the other corner is the muse who directs him to write melodic pieces with conventional but odd harmonic rhythms.

As a result, he’s created a surprising body of work, unified by its ethereal aesthetic but divergent by its working methods. That’s the $10 way of saying he has a distinct sound even when he’s writing completely different pieces.

With copia, Cooper attempts to broker a cease-fire between the two muses, hoping to demonstrate that both can inform his music simultaneously. Whatever the terms of the peace accord, it’s clear the neo-classicist in Cooper got a better deal.

More »

The worst performance of Terry Riley’s ‘In C’?

I don’t usually mention my home studio project, Eponymous 4, except when I let readers know I’ll be neglecting this site to do work there. But I just spent the last two or so hours on an experiment.

It involves Ableton Live and Terry Riley’s seminal work, In C.

The Session View of Ableton Live lets musicians take snippets of a song and arrange them in different configurations. Say you have a bass line in a verse. If you want to hear what it sounds like in another part of the song, you have to cut and paste in a linear setting but not with Ableton Live. You can even experiment with how different parts of a song connect. It’s tough to describe Session View (especially at 2:40 a.m.) without some demonstration.

When I was introduced to the Session View, I immediately thought of In C. If it’s so easy to isolate every portion of a song to mix and match every which way, why not leverage that with the 53 motifs in In C?

More »

What the hell kind of title is ‘Red Carpet Massacre’?

Billboard magazine is reporting an Oct. 30 release date for Duran Duran’s next studio album, Red Carpet Massacre. It’s the first album since Andy Taylor’s departure the second time around. Or the second such album to follow an Andy Taylor departure. Given this group’s tenacity, I bet there’s going to be a third time in around 2028.

God, I hope they break up by then.

I tease my fellow Duranie friend, Dreama, about my desire to witness the dissolution of what is arguably my favorite group — yes, even more than Number Girl, but only by that much. I would like to miss Duran Duran, to feel wistful about Medazzaland and nostalgic about The Wedding Album, but that can’t happen if they’re still recording albums.

I mean, goddamn — Pop Trash. What a prophetic title. As Red Carpet Massacre must be.

Timbaland and Justin Timberlake make appearances on Red Carpet Massacre. If Utada Hikaru’s Exodus showed us anything, having Timbaland behind the console is no guarantee for a homerun. If they’re really that desperate to look relevant, they should have gotten — I don’t know — Sufjan Stevens or the Shins to work with them. Hell, the Postal Service sound more Duran Duran than Duran Duran.

Oh, don’t take my hate too seriously. I know on Oct. 30, I’ll be in line at the music store with CD in hand, dutifully putting my hard-earned cash into the coffers of Le Bon-Rhodes-Taylor-Taylor-Taylor. To paraphrase Ennis Del Mar, I wish I knew how to quit them.

I should double check to see if Oct. 30 means 2007 or 2008. Duran Duran doesn’t have a good track record of keeping by the release dates they announce. Back in November 2006, Nick Rhodes said this album would be out by May 2007.

[UPDATE, Aug. 31, 2007]: The official site lists Nov. 13, 2007 as the new US release date, Nov. 12, 2007 in the UK. Isn’t that nice?