Auditory Flashbacks: Icon of Coil, VNV Nation

I’ve been busy as of late, albeit occupied with a lot of things IRL and not online as much. I realize it’s been a while since my last article here, so in the spirit of keeping the beat going, here’s a music post.

Tonight we have select songs from Icon of Coil and VNV Nation. Crank that volume knob way up high, and enjoy …

Regret // lyrics here.

Everything // lyrics here.

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Auditory Flashbacks: Sea Songs and More

When I began going through my posts as part of back-end maintenance the other day, I realized I haven’t done an article on sea songs yet. Considering how deeply that genre runs in my heart and my connections with the sea, I feel a bit silly at not doing it sooner.

So here’s a smattering of old favourites. I’ve searched a while for special versions of some of these songs, which you’ll notice below:

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Auditory Flashbacks: Die Laughing

Tonight’s post isn’t a review so much as a handful of snippets from the talented UK goth group Die Laughing. Having been active from 1986 to 1999, they dissolved the summer before Y2K and eventually re-formed in 2012 with a new single, “Tangled,” and news that they’re working on material for a new album.

Seeing as their international following never really stopped (due in equal parts to the Internet and the periodic releases of their work on other compilation albums) it’s refreshing to hear they’re intent on adding more works to their repertoire.

Enjoy …

Auditory Flashbacks: Blutengel

Tonight’s post isn’t a music review (for now, anyway). I just wanted to share this very beautiful song off of Blutengel’s 2011 album Tränenherz:

Tea Time: Meßmer’s Rosehip and Hibiscus

I’m WAY overdue on posting this review, considering I’ve been drinking this stuff for a long time.

Meet Meßmer’s Rosehip and Hibiscus:

Meßmer Rosehip and Hibiscus Tea Meßmer's Rosehip and Hibiscus Tea

It comes pre-packaged in individual paper wrapped tea bags (I’m not aware of there being any loose leaf variants). The ingredients list notes only three items are used to make it: rosehips, hibiscus, and sweet blackberry leaves. There is no caffeine content.

This tea is best served hot or cold. While it’s a great way to warm up on a winter’s night, it also makes some of the best iced tea, if you prefer it that way. The flavour is strong yet subtle, full-bodied with slightly earthy tones, and slight but noticeable sour and tangy notes.

The infusion is a characteristic blood-red hue, which makes for fun conversation and interesting speculation about what one is drinking.

While this product tastes great on its own, there have been plenty of times I’ve paired it with a sweetener in making iced tea to share with family and friends. For this, I’ve found honey gives the best results as its flavour spectrum runs complementary to the tangy and sour notes of the tea, and highlights the earthy tones perfectly without being overpowering. The result is an iced tea that tastes exceptionally smooth, which both adults and children love.

Much like good music, this tea is an export of Germany and comes to British Columbia as somewhat of a niche product. Not many people know it exists, and fewer still have had a chance to try it. This has unfortunately been borne out in the way retailers treat it, too: since 2005, I’ve seen both Walmart and Canadian Superstore briefly carry and then discontinue the Meßmer product line.

More recently, my girlfriend totally lucked out and found some at a downtown London Drugs here in Victoria (and on manager’s special, no less!) so needless to say, I’m stoked at having it again. Hopefully they’ll keep stocking it!

Last but not least, I created a Food and Drink section to categorize this post, and it got me thinking: this is not the usual content I share here, but considering how much kitchenware I own and how much creative stuff we do each year in the kitchen, I think I’ve been holding back. Perhaps in the future, I’ll post an occasional family recipe or recommendation … there are just too many good things out there, and not sharing them would be wrong.

:)

Tools for Audio Geeks: Spek, a Free Spectrum Analyzer

Tonight, I’d like to give a major shout-out to the creators of Spek, a free spectrum analyzer I discovered recently, which has been extremely useful in the course of processing my music collection.

Why use a spectrum analyzer at all? Glad you asked.

The main benefit is you can physically see how the encode turned out — peaks, frequency cutoffs, bit rates, and other details can be checked with this tool. It can be somewhat nebulous on the details if you used VBR, but I generally find that’s not much of an issue considering being able to see a track’s audio spectrum provides a better look at the file anyway.

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Slam Poetry: “Hi, I’m a Slut”

Back in my university days, I jumped at the opportunity to be a volunteer for our showing of The Vagina Monologues. I loved the format of that performance and the way it engaged the audience, and I’ve been on the hunt ever since for similarly off-beat, hard-hitting content that gets dialogue started about important issues.

So, when I found this video by Savannah Brown in a friend’s FB feed today, I couldn’t resist posting it here. Her unpretentious, cut-to-the-bone style makes lingering points and delves deeply into our collective memory on the pathological sexualization, rampant objectification, and victim-blaming that goes on all too often as a feature of the social fabric in North America.

I’m also throwing in an older video she made called, “What Guys Look For In Girls.” The message, again, is too important to leave out:

First Photo Trip of 2016

I’m not sure how the rest of my readers have been faring, but here in my city we’re fully into spring, and there are lots of beautiful places to visit as the lands (and their inhabitants) wake from seasonal slumber.

This Tuesday I went for an afternoon bike ride around the city, eventually making my way through Ross Bay Cemetery and Beacon Hill Park. I figured I’d post a few of the highlights here. Please excuse the craptastic mobile phone image quality, I’ll have to make it a point sometime this year to get a proper camera and do these right.  ;)

More to come as the weather warms up!

Spring blossoms! Also, the back end of a bee. Spring blossoms. Of endless seas, and boundless skies ... Shoreline view taken from the Beacon Hill waterfront trail. A long abandoned, undisturbed gave in Ross Bay Cemetery.

Also, I updated the layout configuration files for this site earlier in the week. I don’t think there will be any glitches as a result of this, but in the off chance my readers see anything weird happen, I’d welcome a bug report via the contact page.

Building a website is a learning experience, and an ever-expanding construction project, and I’m planning to become much more involved with it this year.

Auditory Flashbacks: Helalyn Flowers, Asperger Synthdrome

While browsing the BC goth feeds on Facebook this morning, I found a link to “Hybrid Moments” by Helalyn Flowers. This lovely Italian band is a bit of an unknown for me, so I took a moment to listen, then, very content with the melodies of their colourful soundscapes, I promptly went looking for more.

It turns out they have a nice body of work in circulation, sitting in the shadows waiting for listeners like us to dig a bit more deeply. So let’s break out the shovels, nein?

Next up is a video I’ve been wanting to post for ages, somehow it got lost in the shuffle a while back. That’s especially unfortunate since I’m a fan of Adora BatBrat, and I LOVE hearing her sing.

Actually, it’s Adora and her sister that both head up their band, Asperger Synthdrome. At a graceful 44 (surprised?) Adora’s vein of talent and ability to constantly shake things up and reinvent herself makes me see parallels with Madonna. I mean this as a compliment — it takes a lot of energy (and an exacting eye) to balance ongoing fashion design, aggressive self-promotion, and the kind of marketing genius that Adora’s put into her work.

Hope today’s post brings a smile to your face! Sure is nice, being able to share this with my readers.

Starry tides and fair winds,
~ crimson

Reading 2.0 and the Ultimate E-Book Toolkit (Calibre)

As a child of the original ‘Internet generation,’ I’ve long felt blessed and grateful for the transformations that have come about in the wake of the personal computing revolution. It’s changed the way we communicate, the way we share information, the way we store our things, and the way we think.

There’s always been something very beautiful about the intimate enmeshment of physical essence and technology. The tighter that bond becomes, the more we become able to transcend our own natural limits. If not also in name and appearance by this time, I’d argue we are at least the first cyborgs in spirit, augmenting our living bodies with tireless electronics and high-powered microprocessors, holding a universe-within-a-universe between our quivering fingertips.

Back in the day, a lot of people used to talk about device convergence, a point at which all (or most) user needs could be met by the capabilities of a single multi-purpose platform. There were numerous experiments tried and failed over the years to find that idealized, comfortable sense of mass appeal, ranging from the launch of WebTV to installing hard disks into game consoles, but despite all of this, the true killer app came only when the computing industry finally set its sights on the ordinary mobile cellular phone and said, “Let’s make this better.”

Ka-boom.

And so the second revolution of our generation began.

Nowadays, it’s almost abnormal to meet anyone on the streets who isn’t carting around a three-by-seven-inch smartphone (or tablet) with power and endurance rivaling that of many netbooks and lower-end laptops. With boosts in portability and battery life, more storage, multi-core processing, widespread open-source development, and easy cloud integration, the possibilities are endless. Much like the change in our own destiny, augmentation of our phones has hit a point where it’s transformed them into something entirely different, and made them part of a greater force in the realm of cultural design and social function.

And while we use these devices for a multitude of everyday tasks, one of the more subtle ones that’s taken hold is reading for business and pleasure. It’s long been obvious, ever since cyberspace gained mass appeal, that one of the more hotly debated issues would remain the divide between reading from physical media versus reading from digital. The e-book trend is in an upward swing, a lot of readers have traded in their cumbersome dead-tree-format for something that slips more easily into a data card, and these changes have many more questioning the direction in which these changes might take us.

First off, I don’t care much for the politics, and I’m not here to preach. The views on electronic reading are as varied and numerous as there are people who read. Some like to keep their distance and feel that e-readers are inferior and a betrayal of a wholesome pastime. Others strike varying shades of balance between the use of digital and physical formats. Still others are at a point where they’ve either swung firmly toward carrying out an eventual migration to digital or have already arrived there.

Personally, I’m flexible when it comes to my books. I have a lot of paper, in spite of everything else in my life being almost entirely digital. I also have a lot of books in digital format. So, whenever I want to indulge in a story, I go with what’s convenient and feels good that day.

The take-home lesson here is, “you do you.” Work with what makes you happy. Work with what you feel works best for the circumstances. The ONLY thing you need to care about at the end of the day is that what you’re doing keeps you reading and keeps you feeling joy from your pastime.

Books are a priceless tool to hone the intellect and give wings to our imaginations. There’s a lot we could do that’s far worse than consuming them regularly (and eagerly) in digital form.

On that note, I’m going to share one more tool that might be of interest to anyone who’s dipping their toes into the e-reading pool. Calibre is an e-book system that’s totally free, has no ads or spyware, and pretty much does everything you could ever ask for in an e-book software package. I’ve been using mine to convert between EPUB and PDF formats; as long as a user understands basic typography, this program is a dream to work with. Calibre makes it ridiculously easy to create output files that are re-flowed and set for the screen size of one’s reader.

Also, huge kudos go to Morri for gifting me with the old Blackberry Playbook that became my mobile library. I love so much of what we share, interest-wise and otherwise … and this BB made for such an awesome DIY hack, and even more fun after the fact. I can slip this thing into a purse or coat pocket and just run out the door, and not have to worry about carting around 50 pounds of books. (I know I’ve already thanked you profusely IRL, but credit is due in cyberspace too!)

So long story short … if you’re an avid reader, check out Calibre, it’s one of the few applications I’ve encountered that’s probably worth your time.

Now … pick up a book and read, dammit!  :)

<3

Auditory Flashbacks: Cauda Pavonis, Adversus, Flesh Field, Aesthetic Perfection, Aïboforcen, Aeon Sable, The Birthday Massacre, Battery, and Qntal

After more than ten hours of hard work, the Links page is finally up to date, along with a slew of new additions to the music section. Artists beginning with letters A through F are complete, with each entry researched prior to listing in order to make the most useful resources available to readers who are interested in exploring further. In cases where an artist has retired or gone on hiatus, I’ve tried to link to resources that offer the most complete overview of their musical works.

Now that that’s finished, ON TO THE MUSIC!

Starting off tonight’s round of offerings is the awesome, driving sound of the one and only Cauda Pavonis:

Next up, we have the ultimate graveyard serenade: Adversus’ Seelenwinter. The song is an old favourite of mine, and seeing the video hits even harder than anything before.

Those voices, those melodies … they’re eight blissful, soaring minutes of pure lovelorn flight. I adore every part of it. Studio version here. Frankly, though, I think this one works much better live.

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Victoria Times Colonist to Remove Online Commenting

This week, our local newspaper announced it was removing the comment section in future posts. This comes in the wake of a fairly well-established trend of prominent media outlets, including Popular Science, deciding to do the same in order to bring the emphasis back to the content, and curb widespread abuse of writers and their audiences by unpleasant drive-by commenters.

And truly, nothing of value was lost.

First, what many major outlets have realized by now, many of them through rather hard lessons, is that journalism isn’t just a business, it’s a delicate balance, a deep search for the truth. By its very nature, this demands well-developed communications skills and keen social competence on the part of its researchers and presenters, and a carefully crafted environment in which to convey the information to the audience.

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Auditory Flashbacks: the Music of Ost+Front, Megaherz, and Lord of the Lost

Somewhere along the way, my listening list got so large it hit that magical tipping point where it became its own novel. By the end of this post, it will officially be 442 artists. Even the fairly robust WordPress Editor was having issues last time I tried to add more band links. I’ve posted *maybe* a quarter of them here on my site by now, but made full-fledged discussion posts for far too few.

That’s going to change this year, as I’ll eventually get around to revamping my content a bit, along with a few changes to update frequency and post format.

But for now … LET’S DISCOVER SOME MUSIC!

Today’s theme is Neue Deutsche Härte, and to that end, I have three submissions for your listening pleasure.

First, there’s Ost+Front. What can I really say here? Their stage presence is the result of someone sneaking into a genetic engineering lab to combine Rammstein’s DNA with the entire cast of Dead Snow. Nazi zombies with awesome voices? You’d better believe it.

BUT WHERE’S THE FIRE? In the lyrics, of course …

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On the Death of David Bowie

There’s “passing away with style,” and then there’s “I’m going for one more encore, and I’m not just going to love this, I’m gonna strike the boldest dot imaginable on the exclamation point that is my life.”

When I heard about David Bowie’s death, I partly expected to hear about him doing something notable or dramatic on the way out — ain’t that just like him.

The end is near, the odds are tangibly impossible, and even as the world comes crashing down around his ears, here he is on set casting a music video, singing with that same sweet, silvery passion that’s defined so many of his life’s other accomplishments.

Not florid prose nor mournful discourse nor simple wonder can properly describe the inspiration and beauty in such a gesture. Lyrics here. Links to the Canadian and American Cancer Societies as well, because why not contribute?

Now, if you haven’t clicked PLAY on the above video, you’d better turn off everything else around you right now, and load it up.

And don’t forget the encore …

May you be well remembered, and remembered well in all the ages to come.

With Liberty and Firearms for All

One of the issues that’s come up repeatedly in contemporary US politics is the idea that the 2nd Amendment conveys an individual’s right to obtain, possess, and openly carry firearms.

The realm of law and order is not unlike the fashion world in that over time, new trends emerge and fresh items of interest arise, while established trends can be played down or may fall out of favour entirely. Interpretation matters most, and that interpretation is generally subject to the linguistic evolution and societal attitudes of the period. In the case of the 2nd Amendment, the legislation has been furiously debated in a modern setting as to the merits of its grammatical structure and meaning, other historical precedents, and differences between the original and ratified versions.

The recent push for widespread ‘freedom’ enshrined in law as permitting individual gun ownership wasn’t always so. Up to the turn of the 21st century, it was widely accepted by many (even conservative Chief Justice Warren Berger) that an individual right to bear arms wasn’t a thing. Many conservatives at the time carried the same torch and stood in opposition to what they believed was a silly, if not fairly hazardous, idea.

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Anti-Intellectualism and Politics

During 2015, Canada took a conscious, introspective turn toward a more progressive journey as voters elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Since then, we’ve been making inroads on a significant departure from the attitudes of the prior administration and staying mostly true to this. While there remains a lot of heavy lifting to do in correcting the anti-progress legacy of Stephen Harper, we’re on the road to recovery. There remains a certain faith in government, such that we’ve significantly boosted voter turnout. That in itself speaks volumes.

The change of administration brought with it some very public moments, like the new equality cabinet, the rise of an aboriginal chief as Justice Minister, and the appointment of an internationally respected war hero as Defense Minister.

While these changes are in all respects welcome, and in most cases long past due, it’s the subtle stuff we don’t see going on behind the scenes day-to-day which contributes just as much if not more to the shaping of our character as a culture of many different cultures. The way our politicians behave toward one another, their interaction with the people, their willingness to champion progress and education, their attitudes toward strangers, and their compassion towards the ‘other’ — all of these are the measure of a politician whether that individual is within view of the press or not. One thing I found reassuring about this past election was the conscious rejection of divisive politics by the Canadian people. What we have right now is not perfect by any measure, but it’s a lot better than the alternative might have been.

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Keeping Our Perspective on War

When one takes a bird’s-eye view of battle and civilian casualties by the numbers, the results as shown above are shocking.

All of this helps one maintain a healthy sense of perspective, and reveals that not only do present-day news channels and distributors exaggerate the frequency and ferocity of conflicts on a regular basis by flooding the public space with over-reporting and embellishments, but we almost invariably are fed information to arrive at a mindset that makes us forget on a daily basis the major powers have not fought one another since World War 2, and today’s war deaths (military and civilian) are minuscule in comparison.

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Owl Give Ya Somethin’ Cute …

I present for your viewing pleasure one baby Great Horned Owl singing The Monster Mash.

My life is officially complete.

Auditory Flashbacks: Hungry Lucy

This is the title track from their 2010 album (lyrics here). If this isn’t pure, wild, refined beauty, I don’t know what is.

Looking back in time, Hungry Lucy has fit my tastes in a decidedly odd way over the years. I’ve been a fan of their work since at least 2000 with the advent of Apparitions, but somehow their original work didn’t end up in my collection until more recently.

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Reclaiming Old Tech for Music

I was browsing Slashdot earlier today when I came across a really cool article showing how Toolbox Bodensee e.V. took a bunch of old floppy drives, added a controller with a piano interface, mounted the lot on a board with 3D printed hardware, and turned their strange marriage of parts into an entirely new kind of instrument.

Here we go …

… and it only gets weirder from here.

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