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Messages - mgriffin

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I've owned two Rotel amps and a Rotel CD player, and while I'd say they're not a "high end" audio gear company any more than NAD or Denon (more of a mid-range audio line, I'd say), the stuff is great for the money. 

I've had a couple different, small issues with these (for one, the power switch in the preamp broke and it won't switch off, which is OK with me since I leave it on all the time anyway) but considering that I bought them in the 80s, I feel I got my money's worth with them.  The CD player is so bad with CDRs that I don't even use it any more, but the amps are in daily use in our household.  I don't view the problem with CDRs as anything specific to Rotel, as 80s era CD players are not so good with CDR media in general.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Ambient Sub-genres
« on: February 25, 2008, 04:53:08 PM »
This doesn't rhyme with ambient and so may disqualify me, but...

When Viridian Sun was a brand new entity, we coined the phrase "BoreCore," which was minimal drone music actually intended to be especially boring... not evolving other otherwise worthy of attention, rather a genre of recorded actually intended to be boring.

That's not to say Viridian Sun chose to pursue that angle... not intentionally anyway!

Everything and Nothing / Re: HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray war settled
« on: February 19, 2008, 12:34:48 PM »
I personally felt the war was settled when Sony decided to include a BluRay player with every Playstation 3 sold, while Microsoft decided to make the HD-DVD drive optional on the Xbox 360.

These decisions settled the fact that a year or two after the release of both formats into the market, 10x as many people would have a machine at home that would play BluRay discs, compared to the number who had a machine that could play HD-DVD discs.

If MS had decided to make the HD-DVD drive standard on a newer version of the Xbox 360 that might have tilted things back toward being more even, but even a $200 add-on (as the HD-DVD drive was), most people will be reluctant to add on.

So effectively, many people who bought the Playstation 3 as a game machine, and not as a BluRay player, decided as an afterthought to pick up a handful of BluRay movies.  And that number was many millions more people, than the number doing the same thing with their Xbox 360 and HD-DVD drive.

If you think video game systems are a trivial part of this equation, look at the number of stand-alone BluRay and HD-DVD players sold, compared to the number of Playstation 3 systems, and Xbox 360 HD-DVD add-ons.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Vinyl
« on: February 15, 2008, 03:13:52 PM »
So, anyway, the whole vinyl thing.  I don't know if I'd say it's better or worse than vinyl.  It's just....groovier.  Maybe there is some unfounded level of connection that happens when music travels the purely analog journey from musician to recorded media to stereo to your ears without the mathematical process of conversion to digital.  I wonder if there was ever a vinyl printing of Mark Mothersbaugh's Music for Insominacs, which was a totally computer-programmed, digitally recorded, cd release.  That would be interesting.

No vinyl, but if you love the sound of analog, this Music for Insomniacs series was originally released on cassettes, I believe 7 of them, which included material beyond the 2 CD set on Enigma (which are among the most treasured CDs I own).

Mr. Undershadow, is that your first time utilizing the sliding-across-the-screen red banner?  Maybe I should change the Hypnos logo to a red and blue sliding banner like that?


I've actually had a chance to play Oblivion a few times in the past week.  And now that I had a few aspects of the game explained to me by a friend who's more familiar with it, things are making a lot more sense, and I'm enjoying it more.  Guess I shoud've read the manual, but I usually don't.

This game is really amazingly broad and deep.  I can see how you could play this game every day for a year and still not get to where there was nothing left to do.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Vinyl
« on: February 08, 2008, 11:00:39 AM »
I'm on a roll
Just got (on vinyl)
Emerson, Lake and Palmer   Pictures at an Exhibition
Hall and Oats   Along the Red Edge
Uriah Heep   Return To Fantasy

4 for $10 at an antique store 8)

How much were they charging for their good music?


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Gear: Studio shots by Deb
« on: February 07, 2008, 07:05:08 PM »
It looks like a plain old Target stepladder thing to me.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Utopia & Dystopia
« on: February 07, 2008, 07:04:12 PM »
Neal Peart (drummer & lyricist for Rush, for those who don't know) was a huge, huge, huge Ayn Rand fan, and has admitted that Anthem was a big influence on 2112.

The closest thing to a working utopian society I can think of, is the Federation system in Star Trek.  I know this has come up before and others have argued that they find the society in Star Trek to be really unbearable,but I suspect those people just don't like the show(s).

Everything and Nothing / Utopia & Dystopia
« on: February 07, 2008, 05:35:26 PM »
Not sure exactly what it is -- maybe I should think about it some more -- but I find literature and film based around stories of utopian or dystopian situations incredibly compelling.  I'm thinking of this at the moment because Lena and I re-watched The Handmaid's Tale last night, and it's a fairly good example of a dystopian tale (though it seems the book is very very different from the movie).  We talked a bit about 1984 and a few other examples, and I got started thinking about Things to Come, Gattaca, Anthem, and a few others.

I guess, as I type this, that what's compelling about these stories is what it reveals about where we might potentially hope to go, and also about where we should be careful not to go.  For example, The Handmaid's Tale immediately made me think about the problem of rising religious fundamentalism in our government.  That's not to say that I think religious people can't have a political voice, but I think you start to have a problem when the government is too driven by any religious text.

Anyway, this isn't a topic about the rise of religious fundamentalism, which is debatable anyway.

I'm more interested in hearing from others who find compelling stories or films depicting utopian or dystopian futures or alternate realities.  Further, I'd love to hear of some favorite examples.  I  listed a few of mine above, but there are others I'll come back and discuss further.

Everything and Nothing / Re: TV: Lost
« on: February 07, 2008, 05:21:03 PM »
Next episode of Season 4 tonight.  It's weird for me to be excited about sitting down for a scheduled TV program, certain day, certain time... but excited I am!

Everything and Nothing / Re: Help the playwright do some research
« on: February 07, 2008, 03:44:43 PM »
I knew guys in bands in the 80s who would all save up for like 3 months, just to go into a crappy little studio for a 6-8 hour session to record a 3-4 track demo.  It used to be a really big deal for a band to be able to say they had a demo!  The great majority of bands just rehearsed and played a few shows, but had no recordings to speak of, other than stereo cassette "audience recordings" from some of their gigs.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Help the playwright do some research
« on: February 07, 2008, 02:30:18 PM »
I've got to agree (1" reel-to-reel, 16-track), but they probably would've scrapped together as much money as possible and gone into a studio, so 32 track is not out of the question. From 1984-86 I worked as a writer for a number of heavy metal magazines so I was exposed to many of these types of bands and the way they operated. I wasn't into heavy metal, but I did get to tour with many of the big bands at the time (Iron Maiden, Dio, Ozzy, etc.). It's a long story. Those bands hit it big more in the mid-80s than the early 80s but I don't know if that has any bearing on the crux of your story.

Wow, Jonathan, you were almost famous!

Everything and Nothing / Re: Help the playwright do some research
« on: February 07, 2008, 12:15:46 PM »
And yes, in the early 80s, people on a modest budget could only dream of 32 track recording.

This is the Fostex I was talking about.

There might be something a little more ambitious & expensive than this, like I think there was a bigger 16 track I saw here & there, that might have been near $5,000.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Help the playwright do some research
« on: February 07, 2008, 12:10:06 PM »
I'm picturing one of those 8 track Foster reel to reel things that Loren and Forrest probably did a bunch of recordings on at some point... they were sort of the budget studio precursor to the ADAT.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Anybody here...
« on: February 05, 2008, 09:10:10 PM »
I should add that I purchased that Absente without any expectation of traditional absinthe weirdness, and I was surprised to read that it contained any wormwood or thujone at all, after I bought it.  So i wasn't expecting any kind of Jean Cocteau weirdness, and wasn't disappointed to find it just about like drinking ouzo or anisette (except you won't find 110 proof anisette).

Everything and Nothing / Re: Anybody here...
« on: February 05, 2008, 09:00:08 PM »
This is the brand we tried recently.

It was about $40 and pretty pleasant (it grew on me after the first couple of sips) but nothing too exotic.  I certainly didn't hallucinate or wander the streets naked.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Anybody here...
« on: February 05, 2008, 08:13:39 PM »
Absinthe without wormwood's active ingredient, thujone, has been legal for a while, but there is speculation that one or more of the brands now available might actually contain tiny amounts of thujone.  Actually I'm gonna have to read up again on the whole wormwood/thujone legal/illegal matter, get back up to date. We have a bottle of wormwood-free absinthe, and it's very good, tastes like a warm and fragrant version of "good & plenty" candy... actually, better than that makes it sound.

The question is, without wormwood or thujone, how is absinthe all that different from other anise or licorice flavored liqueurs or liquors, like anisette or ouzo or "absente." 

I have to admit, I have long been fascinated by absinthe, mainly due to my Hemingway worship in college, and the various evocative descriptions by that author of the absinthe experience (I'm recalling A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises at least).  It seemed like a more mystical and poetic cousin of alcohol.  Now that it's readily available I find myself thinking, it's just another liquor, though maybe if I got my hands on some thujone-heavy stuff I might feel differently about it.

Hypnos Label Releases / CD release: Austere - Solyaris
« on: February 05, 2008, 05:46:25 PM »
Nah, Joe, let's just transmute your Solyaris topic into the official release topic.  I hope you don't mind me re-titling it slightly!

CD release: Austere - Solyaris

Artist: Austere
Title: Solyaris
Label: Hypnos

2008. This is a creative peak for this much-overlooked ambient duo, their first release on Hypnos, following their Hypnos Secret Sounds album Pulse in 2007. In their 10 years of productivity, Austere has covered territory from Pulse's drone minimalism , ranging back through odd and trippy Coil-inspired sonic experimentation, to seamless dark ambient, and occasionally glitchy weirdness. Despite some challenging material in their back catalog, Austere have in this case produced an album as friendly and pleasant as any Austere fan could have imagined possible, and yet without resorting to the usual tricks that make music sound "listenable."

Bill Binkelman of Wind and Wire said of Austere:
"Austere is an enigmatic duo who record some of the more interesting ambient music I've heard in my six plus years of reviewing. From the swirling drones (I was gonna say "dark" drones, but ....) and eerie melancholy of Monodia to the warmth and beauty amidst minimalism of Fade... Austere are less concerned with following the path and more concerned with breaking new ground. However, they are undoubtedly enigmatic, as one would glean from the above, and shun the spotlights of media and personality."

And the Austere boys themselves, not normally prone to gushing or self-praise, say these words on the subject of this recording:
"Solyaris, our first release for 2008 e.v. on the Hypnos label is major departure from our recent emphasis on Minimalist composition, but more in the direction started by our last release, mirror.shtml and is instead is a collection of recordings improvised and recorded "live" over a weekend session and are presented in their original form, unedited in any way aside from mastering by The Sound-O-Mat.

The recordings turned out extremely well; it was obvious that our Muse(s) had visited us, and we were able to simply "let the tapes roll" and play, and this recording is made up from one track each from a recording session (we may release the rest at some later point.)

We could not be more happy with the sound of this album there was definitely something special about that weekend and it was one of those rare occasions where everything just seemed to come together without any effort, and we think this is reflected in the musick. The CD flows very nicely, and is one of the most uplifting and special CDs we have ever released. We hope that you might enjoy it at least half as much as we do."

We here at Hypnos are likewise happy with this album, and find ourselves playing it over and over, soothed and bewildered at the strange and beautiful atmosphere. Solyaris does not fit squarely into any one genre, but it is wonderful to listen to, without being easy or without depth.   The sounds could be described as the thought transmissions of benevolent aliens.  They mean you no harm, and they
 thank you for listening!

Track listing, with mp3 sample clips:
01 - Seraphim
02 - Striae
03 - Launch Sequence
04 - Nictitate

To order Solyaris now for $12.99, visit here:

Hypnos Label Releases / Re: Solyaris
« on: February 05, 2008, 05:06:05 PM »
Hey, the new Austere disc, Solyaris is now up for sale at Ye Olde Hypnos Store. 8)

I think I'll celebrate by playing their black masterpiece, Monodia.

Hi Joe-
Yep, it's available, and I'm making the MP3 clips right this second.

I'm actually going to create an "official" CD announcement topic for Solyaris soon, too, so we'll have two Solyaris discussions... but thanks for bringing it up, and for all the Austere love!

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