23 January 2008


My jaw has officially gone below sea-level.

Meshuggah, my favorite band for the last 2 or 3 years, has created another masterpiece. As expected. This release is even more innovative than its predecessor, Catch 33, which has been my favorite album for an equally long time. This one might just topple that. I got a leak, at pretty low quality, but I can't resist listening to it ad infinitum. So here's a song-by-song (p)review.

Track 1: Combustion
WAH! Insanity. I don't think Meshuggah has played this many notes in one bar ever, aside from Fredrik's Holdsworthy solos. Every time I listen to it I like it more. Definitely a new direction, at least in the intro. The rest is a bit more similar to their classic style of pounding arrhythmic monotony, but still throws in some flourishes of color. Knocks my proverbial socks off my theoretical feet.

Track 2: Electric Red
Starts off with a very familiar sound, perhaps a Nothing feel, followed by some more of the Chaosphere intensity I love. Some of the chords are perhaps a bit more doomy than usual. I think it was an interview with Marten where he stated that this album would be more dense; it certainly is that. There is a lot more sound going on. I've always loved Meshuggah for their minimalistic intensity, but this is good too. Jens' voice hasn't changed at all. Still awesome. The latter parts of this song are a bit quieter, with some light chugga-chugga breakdown things. Doesn't excite me too much, but I'm sure I'll grow to love them.

Track 3: Bleed
This is the track I mentioned a couple posts ago. It just might be the best on the album. From what I've read on several forums, this is the one that everyone likes; some for reason a lot of them can't stand the opening track, but this one is a standby. I don't blame them for liking it. The pitch bend amid the cacophony of bass drums and polymetric chord-chugging is orgasmic. Other than the pitch bend, the only major difference from their previous work is the speed and density. It's fast. It's thick. Very little breathing room, and not that many polymeters really. But dog-mad, is it great. There's a bit of Catch 33 in here too.

Track 4: Lethargica
Another favorite on the message boards. The title is an accurate one; the speed hearkens back to Nothing's drawn-out soul-crusher riffs. Yet again though, the notes are much more diverse, which reminds me of Straws Pulled at Random (Nothing), come to think of it. We've got some more of the doomy chords from Electric Red. Holdsworth solo, sounds a bit like the one on Catch 33, but more structured. Holy hell Thomas Haake is awesome. Woah! I think I just heard some harmonics! Sweet!

Track 5: obZen
Apparently, the title track name came from some made up language. I can't remember which one, but I think it was an established language that no one uses. The word itself means "obscene." As for the song, I think It's most similar to the Nothing sound, but there are definitely a lot of differences. Alright I take that back. It's too different from Nothing. This is something new. Lots of polymeters. Unrelenting. Maybe a bit like War from the Rare Trax album, but not quite the same intensity. It's impossible to reach that with a human behind the drums.

Track 6: This Spiteful Snake
Badass title. Badass song. More of the doom chords. Man I wish I were a guitar player and had one of those 8-strings, they sound like so much fun. I wish I could understand what Jens is saying. Well, when I buy the album I'll be able to read the lyrics; this will be the first Meshuggah album I've bought, and it won't be the last. I might buy Catch 33 next. Fredrik is nuts. This one is pretty atmospheric, what with his rapid-picking going on in the background. The song ends with a nice drawn out signature Mesh chord. I love that sound so much.

Track 7: Pineal Gland Optics
Wikipedia says the pineal gland has something to do with dreams; there's a hint at the subject matter. The sound doesn't deviate much from the previous track, but we have some more of the drawn-out chords with a slight pitch bend that remind me of Catch 33. Fredrik's having some more fun with soloing in this one. There seems to be some note-sliding going on; I don't think I've heard that in a Mesh song before.

Track 8: Pravus
Boom! Another ass-kicker. Very different. This one almost has a death/black metal vibe in parts. Otherwise we have the new note-barrages and rather straight-forward drum footwork. Woah, there's a new sound, almost a traditional twin guitar tone, again with the black metal vibe.

Track 9: Dancers to a Discordant System
Awooooga. I love this. Non-sequitor notes. Meshuggah is pretty much anti-music. This is very Catch 33. Awesome. So saddening that it has to be the last track; this album is far too short. I'm getting lost in the polymeters as I often do when listening to Meshuggah... Now we've got an almost major scale going on. I wish I new more about scales. Then I could be even more confused. Gosh darnit, I have to see these guys live. There's just no buts about it. It's a necessity. And so, the final chapter to this masterwork fades out in polymetric glory.

That's that. I'm sad that I can now only look forward to owning a physical copy and not revel in the anticipation of hearing the sounds of genius, but I'm also ecstatic that I can finally listen to new Meshuggah. You can only play New Millenium Cyanide Christ so many times before it becomes commonplace.

Nah, you can't. Meshuggah will never get old.

EDIT: Here's a pretty great video interview with Marten and Tomas.
EDIT 2: Full album art finally!

19 January 2008


This movie was hyped a lot for the last half a year or so. Lots of viral advertising, not unlike the next Batman film. I didn't really get into most of it, but I kind of wish I had. It would probably have given me a better idea of what was going on. This leads me to what is probably the biggest complaint (not necessarily mine) about this movie: it tells you almost nothing about what's going on.

I for one loved it partly for this fact alone. It's in the same vein as JJ Abrams' other opus, Lost. So much is left to speculation. The camera work itself is the biggest part of this, as usually it's not pointing at what you're hanging off the edge of the seat to see, instead focusing on the ground in front of the camera man as he walks over precarious ledges. The film often reminded me and my friends a lot of first person shooters for this reason; the first-person-perspective and environments, even some of the monsters, gave off a very Half-Life 2 feel. The only difference was that the guy behind the camera actually spoke, unlike Gordon Freeman.

Anyway, the advantage given by withholding so much from the viewer is the rapt attention that it results in (at least for me). You're straining to catch a glimpse of the monsters so much that you forget that they're just a bunch of computer generated vertex meshes.

Another complaint I've heard is that it's just 911 propaganda. I can see where this is coming from, as the opening scene of devastation was very similar to the footage I've seen of the September 11th attacks; huge dust clouds, collapsing buildings, and giant lizard-spider monsters decapitating the Statue of Liberty. GET OVER IT.

Those things aside, it was a great experience. I never saw the Blair Witch Project so I can't really compare the camera work to that, but I have no desire to anyway. I liked it. The acting was better than I thought it would be based on the previews. The monster was BAD-ASS. So were the zerglings, er... antlions... I mean, whatever the bleep those things were.

I just wish it had been Cthulu.


Oh yeah, any movie that includes music by Ratatat is automatically classic.

18 January 2008

Fawlty Towers

I finished watching this classic 12-episode series last night. It was funny. John Cleese, one of the main members of Monty Python's Flying Circus, plays Basil Fawlty, the owner of a rather low-quality hotel. His character is extremely racist, a compulsive liar, and an ignoramus. Hilarity ensues. His interactions with the various clients of the hotel are always a laugh, as it seems it's impossible for him to tell the truth about anything and his lies are usually ridiculous. One of the running gags is that the waiter, Manuel, is a Spanish man of seemingly low intelligence and with only a tenuous grasp of the English language. He is constantly misunderstanding orders from Fawlty with hilarious results. Other themes include husband-wife conflicts and Polly's artistic leanings, which Fawlty doesn't seem to understand at all.

One of the best episodes for me was one where an American (U.S.) man came to the hotel and chewed Fawlty out like mad for his stupidity. I guess that says something about the way I think...

It was a very enjoyable show, and the episodes were short enough that they didn't keep me from other work very much. John Cleese is quite a comedian.

14 January 2008

Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles n' stuff



Summer Glau.

I don't really need to say anything more, but I'm sure if I left it at that my pitiful readership would be disappointed. Anyway, I just watched the first episode of the the series mentioned in the title of this post. It was leaps and bounds better than I was led to expect from several amateur reviews; mostly because SUMMER GLAU. Summer Glau. The hottest I've seen her in anything. Robotic Summer Glau. Uagh... my nerd-core is imploding. The rest of the cast was pretty good too, the lady playing Sarah didn't really pull off quite what I expect for her character, but she was decent. John's a pansy though. Pansy pansy pansy. Even if he was in Heroes. The show itself was a little cheesy and not entirely mind blowing, but I will most definitely be watching the rest of it.

On to the n' stuff. The other day I nabbed 4 albums. The first one was Dead Can Dance - Aion, on recommendation in respect to being similar to the album Shadows of the Sun by Ulver. It is passingly so. Not nearly as good though. Ulver's masterpiece is amazing. I never thought I would enjoy pseudo-gregorian chants. DCD is interesting, I'll probably check some more out.

The second one was Manes - Vilosophe, gleaned from the same recommendation thread. The reason for this one was that Manes' history is similar to Ulver's in that they started out as a black metal group and morphed into an avant-garde electronic thing. It's good, but again, not as good as Ulver. granted I've only given it one listen so far, and haven't paid that much attention to it... I wasn't put off or anything though.

Coming up next is Archetype by Fear Factory. A decent album. Not great. Obsolete is by far their best, most brutally beautiful work to date, and Archetype doesn't touch it. If you know Fear Factory's sound this is no deviation.

And finally, 16 Volt's latest release FullBlackHabit. Not bad. The only other album I've heard from them is SuperCoolNothing, which is regarded as their best, as I've gathered. One track (I forget which one) basically sounds like a NIN ripoff, but the rest is distinctive 16 Volt sound, a sort of industrial Tool. Enjoyable.


Oh yeah I forgot. Metal giants Meshuggah have (sort of) released a track from the upcoming (March 7th) album obZen, which promises to be [gosh diddly-darn] AMAZING. The track is called Bleed, and it is fantasmic. Dense pounding polymetric headbanging miasma of sound. I cannot wait. Seriously. If you want to hear it, try looking around Meshuggah's official forum. Google will help you there.

11 January 2008

Tracin' Rays

Alright, stuff's gettin' busy now. I have about 4 projects going on at once for school so lazy time has decreased a bit. My favorite project at the moment is my ray-tracer for Computer Graphics II; it is also the hardest I think, mostly because C++ is an ornery female dog. Anyway, you can watch my progress here. Here's an an example of the awesomeness I am in the process of producing:

This image died in a knitting accident.
Oddly, I haven't found a whole lot of good music since my last post. I just got an album by Zyklon called Disintegrate, but it's not really impressing me too much. I had sort-of high hopes for it as the lineup includes the former guitarist and drummer of Emperor, one of the best black metal bands ever. This outfit is more of an industrial death metal thing with black tinges though. It's okay I guess.

Oh, and I heard that Elvis died in a knitting accident. (Just doing my part)