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diverging since 2008

Entries tagged "culture"

2008-06-18 14:42

I saw Dante 01 with Kebbish yesterday. The film was mind-blowing, something in the vein of Riddick meeting Muad'dib under the gentle guidance of Kubrick. The script would've made a top-notch scifi novella on it's own but director Marc Caro pushed it even further. Kudos for this. Additionally, the multiple references to classical literature and the detached narration from Perséphone really made my day.

As a downside the narrative flow stumbles somewhat towards the end, resorting to a slight deus ex machina by a very flat character. Also, the film is divided into four segments, labeled "Cercle 1" to "Cercle 4", obviously alluding to Dante's Divine Comedy, but the Divine Comedy relates of nine circles of hell. This and the Space Odyssey 2001-esque ending might point towards truncating the script? My sentiment here is echoed by http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0487928/board/nest/94052306, though I don't agree with the writer's view of the ending. The film is a very compelling whole however, so the non-classical story arc might very well be intentional.

Spoiler warning!

The setting is space station Dante 01 in orbit around a fiery planet named Dante. The station is a mental asylum/prison/test center that houses criminals who have agreed to submit to medical experiments in order to evade a death sentence. The movie begins with a shuttle bringing a new doctor sent by the company running the station and a new inmate (the protagonist, soon christened Saint George by the other inmates).

The movie seems to be an allegory for a new scientific and social awakening of humankind. The medical company running the station injects an experimental DNA-altering nanovirus into the inmates and seemingly expects everybody to die (weapons research?). It also seems that the company is aware of the strange gift of healing that the protagonist has, and is seeking to commercially exploit it. As usual, the good prevail and the new doctor and an opportunistic inmate are the only ones to perish. Even the inmate who dies while trying to save the station from crashing into Dante is resuscitated by the protagonist. This lack of death nicely contrasts the harsh dystopian future and the grim visual language of the film.

In a psychedelic ending Saint George exits the station in a space suit and decomposes into a double helix (DNA anyone?) that rushes towards Dante. The planet turns green and Saint George has "beaten the dragon". Technology has been turned towards general progress instead of commercial gain. The collaboration of the crew and inmates points towards the need for a different kind of society, one that doesn't force human beings into cold robots with the hand of "established procedure".

Updated 15:50: minor changes, grammar
Updated 19:10: more on patchiness

Tags: culture.

Paycheck came in today so I could finally pay off my library bills. While at it, borrowed some music:

  • Squarepusher - Selection Sixteen
    • 'nuff said
  • Ceephax - Exidy Tours
    • Brother of Squarepusher, new find. IDM with gabber and d'n'b flavours
  • LFO - Sheath
    • Nicely executed dark techno with IDM influences
  • German Elektroniks - Elektro Jugend
    • Kraftwerk goes industrialish
  • Itäväylä - Itäväylä
    • Undescribeable ambient electro-boogey
  • Four Tet - Everything Ecstatic
    • Abstract, unsettling, jazzy, hyperactive something; Venetian Snares goes artistic.

Great stuff, gotta love the libraries in Helsinki!

Update 2008-07-05: Gah, forgot all about Autechre - Chiastic Slide, probably the best in this pile. Not quite up to the aggressive-disassociative madness of Autechre's Untitled, Chiastic Slide presents a calmer and warmer side of the artist w/o compromising the weirdness and smooth execution that are the cornerstone of their music.

I've also found a weird, shy love that hides behind the samples in Everything Ecstatic, but I can't shake the forlorn and melancholic vibes it sends down my spine. Definitely recommended.

Also, added juno.co.uk links on the albums I could find, enjoy the free samples!

Tags: culture.
2008-07-20 20:40

(Written 2008-07-17 22:00)

Attended Pori Jazz in Pori, Finland. Highlights: Return to Forever and Bob Geldof.

Return to Forever split up 25 years ago and this gig was part of their reunion tour. The quartet played very solid traditional fusion jazz (strange, shouldn't that be an oxymoron?), improvisation interleaving seamlessly with unisonous vamps. There was tangible synergy between Stanley Clarke (bass) and Chick Corea (keyboards) during the jamming; observing the professionalism, the playfulness, the ease of it all and the joy on their faces was a pleasure. The gig wasn't a performance, it was great musicians having fun together. It was, however, a shame to see guitarrist Al DiMeola shunted into a side role in all this. It seems everything can't be healed after 25 years of growing apart. As a whole, the performance was great. I love fusion jazz and here was one of the best lineups playing it live.

I found a new friend in Bob Geldof. Firstly, I fell in love with his style the moment he entered the stage. Secondly, when the music started I immediately knew what I was looking at: a heir of the same British music tradition that spawned The Clash's reggae-punk, David Bowie's detached and angsty country glam rock, David Gilmour, Syd Barret and Ian Anderson. Bob is a punk star grown old and tired, a rock musician who found folk influences (like Anderson), and most of all, a blue storyteller. Needless to say, the gig hit me hard.

And now to the posterior part of my titular juxtaposition: modules, i.e. tracker music. I've been composing a soundtrack for a short movie project for the past few weeks. The movie itself was filmed a few months ago and edited in one all-nighter a few weeks back. First, a few words on music software:

Years ago, during my first foray into making music, I used Jeskola Buzz on windows. Buzz was an all-in-one solution: sequencer, mixer and loads of software synthetizers all in one sweet package. I've searched for a replacement that would run on linux for years -- to no avail. A few reimplementations exist nowadays but they tend to be young and flimsy, not ready for production. BEAST is just inadequate. Running soft synthetizers and a sequencer separately is just too much of a bother, but the best method I've run across. I've never digged sample-based stuff so trackers were pretty much out of the question. In the end I just stopped making music for lack of time, tools and motivation.

The soundtrack project provided me with the proper motivation so I just needed to find the tools. We needed something very acoustic and decidedly non-electronic, so I turned to the numerous freely-licensed sample libraries on the internet. I managed to cobble together an adequate set of sounds and fired up Schism tracker. I had played with Impulse Tracker years and years ago and tracker software on linux while searching for a Buzz replacement. Schism was the best of the bunch and also a reimplementation of IT so it was a natural choice. I started working and soon the tracker started feeling very natural. After a long pause I was channeling creativity into music once more. It felt great. How typical: to get over the angst and procrastination all that was needed was the proper motivation. You'll hear about the movie when it's released, which will hopefully happen at the Assembly '08 Short Film Compo.

Update: 2008-07-17 22:50 grammar

Tags: conf, culture, travel.
2008-08-04 18:35

Assembly Summer 2008 ended yesterday. The level of the entries wasn't quite up to last year's although 64k Intro and Real Wild had some real gems in them. The music compos especially were appalling. I did like moravia, though.

Assembly 2008 also featured my first release: a short film titled Sakura. The flick didn't fare too well but that was to be expected considering the tastes of the masses ;). BTW, the winner of the short film compo was mind-blowing.

I was planning on participating in the fast music compo (1.5h time limit) but unfortunately my plane from IMC arrived after the deadline. I've already started working on two entries for next year: something for extreme music and something that I'll keep secret for some time longer.

PS. Alternative party looks interesting, especially with the discount.

Update 2008-08-05: Yeah, I'll be there. Hopefully I'll get something together for the one-track music compo :). Also, fixed links.

Tags: culture.
2009-02-08 03:05

Just found two wicked indie shoot-em-ups.Check them out:

Both work fine under wine and offer some smooth minimalist eye candy and great game mechanics. Check out especially the weapon system of Garden.

Some older findings in the field of shmup minimalism are the games of Kenta Cho, some ported to linux. Rrootage and Noiz2sa are my favourites.

Tags: culture.
2009-03-02 23:30

Off-the-record is a crypto protocol implemented as a quite mature open source (LGPL) library. Its purpose is to enable trusted one-to-one instant messaging (etc.) that can be trusted at the moment it is said but can be later plausibly denied. Also, the protocol is built so that there are no long-term keys that when compromised would reveal all past communications. (This is a problem with for example PGP-type encrypted email solutions.) There are OTR plugins for irssi and xchat as well as other IM clients. If asymmetric cryptography and D-H give you that warm fuzzy feeling, this is the coolest toy since ssh.

New chiptune finds: Nullsleep and Pulselooper, both producing authentic Nintendo (NES & Game Boy) beats. Great stuff. Sadly the other releases under the new 56kbps netlabel aren't as good as Pulselooper...

Tags: conf, culture.
2009-04-22 18:30

Went to Ruka for some downhill skiing with my folks over easter and had a great time. I retried telemark style after many years of concentrating on polishing my alpine technique and found it very invigorating. The kind of joy I hadn't for years experienced on Finnish slopes (preferring the Alps) was there as sharp as ever. Also, the naturalness of the free-heel turn caught me by surprise. I'm sold, I have to buy a set.

The thing that kept me occupied after a hard day of sliding down the fell was D. B. Weiss's debut novel Lucky Wander Boy, a book that left my head spinning for hours. LWB is a nerd book that doesn't glorify nerds but also a prime example of postmodern fiction that starts off very innocently and ends somewhere out there. Outwardly a straightforward story in three acts, the bulk of the book is just a well-disguised buildup to an out-of-the-box conclusion. Read it, please.

Tags: culture, life.

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