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Messages - Bill Binkelman

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Everything and Nothing / Re: Help me find good cider
« on: January 01, 2014, 12:27:26 PM »
It's not a dark cider, but the closest brand I have had here in the US (after a visit in England to a cidery and having draft cider) is Crispin Brut (Extra Dry). It's very dry, IMO, esp. when compared to a lot of other ciders. And it's reasonably priced, too. But I haven't sampled a lot of the more expensive artisan ciders, either. The main thing I like about Crispin (the Brut variety) is it really is quite dry, which what many of the English ciders I sampled while there were.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Christmas wishes from Mike & Lena
« on: December 25, 2013, 05:52:46 PM »
Merry Christmas to you and Lena, Mike. Hope it was a good day, despite your being sick. I also hope you both get better soon and that you have a fantastic New Year!

For me, it's still a toss up between Cragganmore and Balvenie DoubleWood. I'm a Highland and Speyside man, and not that fond of peat. There are some great lower priced Scotches out there, such as the undated McClellands, which I've always enjoyed. Last time I bought it, it was about $18 bucks...for a single malt, that's pretty good. It's not dated, but I'd imagine it's a 7-9 year old Scotch. A lot smoother than you'd think, IMO.

Everything and Nothing / Re: The new age music 'scene' ?
« on: December 17, 2013, 12:34:13 AM »
Is there such a thing ? I was looking at this site today:

I'm not getting into the merits / demerits of the music as such, just that it seems a whole lot more commercially oriented than ambient. There's some artists who crossover from the ambient side of things, but they aren't as 'hardcore' (an oxymoron here ?) as some of the big name new age artists I've come across. I'm not being judgmental about that, I'm just curious. My only dalliance with the 'scene' was trying to push the 2004 '8 Shades of Sound'  album I produced, but I gave up on that as I wasn't too keen on sending hundreds of copies of the CD to the States (where all the radio stations were based) I'm curious if things are still the same ?

I'm sure some people here know much more about this side of things - Bill B, Jeff P et al 

Don't these artists have bad days and want to release some fiercely abrasive dark ambience ? :)

Do you really want my opinion on this? Remember that I now review for a "new age" magazine. Plus, as many know, I am a HUGE fan of the genre as well. Is this a Pandora's box you really want to open? I am asking that sincerely before I write a book in answer to your post. I'll never apologize for my love of new age music...and I will also always opine that the line between "some" ambient and some new age music is mighty thin.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: what Tv series should I see ?
« on: December 08, 2013, 08:02:42 PM »
Ya know...if you like SF, Falling Skies is pretty decent. Some episodes are kinda "meh" but the story arc is intriguing, especially the most recent season.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: what Tv series should I see ?
« on: December 08, 2013, 04:43:40 PM »
I assume you already have watched Firefly?

Samsung 37 inch LCD (1080/120 mHz) in the living room
LG 32 inch LCD (720/60 mHz) in the suits us fine since we don't watch much TV there

I will be buying a 46 inch LG LED (1080/120 mHz) next because Samsungs are more expensive and I can't tell that much difference between the two plus I have had some issues with my Samsung (3 of the 4 HDMI inputs went bad within 1 year...a problem with lots of Samsungs back a few years ago).

I know plasmas give a better picture, but I have had no issues with LCD...the picture is bright enough, the blacks are black enough (for me) and the viewing angle is more than good enough for our rather narrow living room.

You said Steve roach was totally overrated, then you later said he was brilliant. 

I'm surprised on this Vangelis opinion because there are lots of EM biggies who list him as a major influence.  He had some amazing synth sounds and nobody could really replicate that.

No...the joke is that I used to say Steve was overrated all the time (long time forumites can back me up on that). I was using that as example of an outrageous statement I could make to provoke discussion. I haven't had that opinion of Roach in many years. I don't like him as much as a lot of people, but I no longer think he is overrated. He's just not always my cup of tea, but some of his recent stuff is great.

I only offered my real opinion of Vangelis because you or someone else asked if I was serious. I was only making a joke in response to the lack of discussion here. Sorry if that wasn't clear. But I still don't care much for Vangelis. And I am mystified that so many artists claim him as an inspiration and an influence. I just don't get it. So, sue me, I guess.

So you can be brilliant AND overrated?  If someone said I was overrated I would take it as a knock. 

About Vangelis:  I would recommend Soil Festivities and Opera Sauvage to those who think only Bladerunner is worthwhile.  The compilation Themes is also pretty comprehensive for his classic period.  Anything after The City is not recommended.

Who did I state was brilliant and overrated?

RE: Vangelis...I find a lot of his music to be overblown, melodramatic, and pretentious. For example, Heaven and Hell. Admittedly, Blade Runner is good...albeit even some of that is a bit syrupy, IMO. I must admit I am puzzled by how many ambient fans like his music when, with only a few exceptions, he is much closer to classic new age than either ambient or EM (again, this is IMO). I recently played The City again and could only get through half the tracks without hitting the "skip" button. If you like a "big" dramatic sound like Vangelis, I think early Jon Jenkins (with Paul Lackey), e.g. Continuum, or Greg Klamt's Fulcrum, or JJ's later work with David Helpling are all better choices. Or you could go the oldie route and dig up some classic Richard Burmer, e.g. Bhakti Point.

Are you serious that Vangelis is complete crap???

No...some of his stuff is okay...but IMO he IS totally over-rated and a bit self-important about his own musical impact. Just my two cents. I couldn't use the words "over-rated" to describe him because Steve Roach already took that title. ;) ::)

Don't pay too much attention to what I write. Everyone who knows me knows my opinions of who is great and who is over-rated are all out of whack with everyone else. For example, I think Jeff Pearce, as loved as he is here and among his fans, is actually UNDER-RATED. I think Jeff is a freakin' genius when you examine his entire body of work. Why he isn't every bit as revered as Roach and Rich (which is NOT a knock on Steve and Robert, both of whom are also brilliant) is a mystery to me. Just my two cents.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: what Tv series should I see ?
« on: November 26, 2013, 06:49:56 AM »
The Shield

They are among my all time favorites...all are on blu-ray and DVD. All have great great characters, great performances, and are exceedingly well-written, esp. IMO, Justified.

I'm listening to this now (thanks to Jeff for sending me a copy). Long time list members know that I, unlike many, am a huge fan of fairly recent Greinke releases, such as Virga and Winter Light, which some found to be too "soft" and nothing at all like his past, more abstract albums, such as Places of Motility, Lost Terrain, etc. I loved the melancholic, soundscape, cinematic elements of both Virga and Winter Light, both which reminded me of Mychael Danna's work, such as skys as well as of Tim Story's The Perfect Flaw. Anyway, this new one has Jeff working with a LOT of acoustic instrument accompanists: French horn, percussion, drums, trumpet, clarinet, viola, violin, trombone, cello, guitar, bass, etc. Jeff plays "all other instrumentation, sounds and rhythms." Some of the music has a strong chamber music aesthetic to it, and may elicit a somber/melancholic mood, but not always. "Valley and Ridge" is propelled by a cheery series of bell tones, percussive effects, and sweet string melodies with what I would characterize as a subtle Asian undertone. Based on the (gorgeous) photos contained in the accompanying booklet, I think the title of the CD indicates what the CD is meant to accompany the images as one rides the train...particularly across a rural landscape in what appears to be the farm belt of the US (but I'm just speculating here). "The Milky Way" features forlorn trumpet set against an undercurrent of a rhythmic repeating texture (meant, I guess, to simulate the sound of a train on the tracks) before its mid-section morphs into a more free-form jazz meets quasi-experimental neo-classical semi-dissonance, reemerging into a more structured repeat of the first half. OTOH, "Haboob" is closer to post-rock. Searing guitars, raucous rhythms on trap kit drums and other devices, a subdued sensation of restrained chaos permeates the cut. and And I am now writing a review, which I only intended on giving a snapshop so I'll just close by saying that this may be Jeff's most ambitious album to cannot be easily summed up (I wish myself luck on writing this review), and needs to be slowly digested, especially with how diverse it is at times.

My caveat is if you are fond of his early more traditionally ambient/dark ambient work and don't enjoy his recent stuff or his more non-ambient work and also if you don't enjoy acoustic instruments carrying the bulk of the load, you should listen to sound clips first. Myself, while I am still getting used to this, I know I like it just because I can "hear Jeff Greinke in it" and that's enough for me.

Steve Roach is over-rated, Vangelis is complete crap, Prometheus is a REALLY SHITTY movie, and New Age Music is not the devils's spawn but actually can be really cool.

How's that?  ;)

Everything and Nothing / Re: A Favor from my Hypnos friends.
« on: October 16, 2013, 07:45:48 AM »
Saw the message about this at Relaxed Machinery and have voted 3 times (twice from home and once from work) so far and will continue voting as well. Good luck!

Everything and Nothing / Re: My coworker stopped talking to me
« on: September 07, 2013, 11:09:25 AM »
Unless she provides useful services to you as a co-worker, just leave her alone. Seriously...just ignore her. Not in an unfriendly way. Just leave her be. Don't stew about it...she'll either get out of her mood or she won't or she'll confront you with whatever is bothering her. This happens to me and I spend way too much energy trying to figure this shit out and in the end, it hurts my productivity at work. If she is too valuable to your work, then suck it up and just tell her how you feel, direct and to the point, i.e. "why have you changed how you treat me lately?" If she refuses to acknowledge there has been a change, drop it and do your best to work around her bullshit.

The only way to approach a comprehensive "history" of the genre is to (a) look at it from a global perspective and (b) remove the limitations of what constitutes the genre. I can't begin to count the number of Internet arguments over "ambient doesn't have beats" "oh yes it does." I find it more than a little funny that those who claim ambient can't have beats seem to have no problem with placing SAW II in a top ambient of all time list. Anyway, my point is that any book I would undertake would include not just Eno-derived works and the various rhythmic ambient offshoots, but also the cross-pollination with both spacemusic (Serrie, Tyndall, Braheny, et al.) and "new age" (i.e. artists like Story and O'Hearn whom most "ambientists" don't recognize as ambient). The book would probably best be structured as (1) first a brief pre-history of the genre, which would mention Satie, et al., (2) a brief chronology of the history of ambient recordings starting in, I would guess, the 60s, (3) a section of the book detailing the different global approaches to the genre, (4) a look at crossover genres (see above) and (5) essential artists and recordings (basically "if you want to start an ambient collection, here are the albums you need to get). Finally, the last section would probably be devoted to the surge of popularity of netlabels, download only releases, and the "future" of the genre. This section would almost certainly be comprised heavily by interviews with notables in the scene, such as Mike G and other label heads, as well as noted critics, Lockett, etc.  Of course, one cold also get into a history of the electronic side of the music, i.e. how the first synthesizers came about, their development, sequencers, the digital revolution, laptop and glitch, etc. But, shit, that could a volume all by itself, so it would have to be, at best, a cursory overlook, IMO.

You start to see why this would be a massive undertaking if the author had any intention of posturing the book as either a history or comprehensive. It may make a lot more sense to do a collection of essays, kinda like the two Lester Bangs books, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, and Main Lines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste. If THAT was the case, the essays could be a multiple author collection, featuring a number of my contemporaries and myself. I would be ideally suited to address the cross-over genres, as I'm sure others would be better with contemporary ambient, the history of netlabels, etc. The only problem with this approach (and it is the ONLY problem I can think of) would be that the reader would be confronted with VASTLY different writing styles. Just compare my style with Alan L and Darren B and you see what I mean. OTOH, my style meshes nicely with John Shanahan (Hypnagogue) whom I think would be a great person to bring into this IF it ever reached the actual planning stages, as well as Phil Derby (the perfect person to chronicle Berlin EM). Another obvious person to include would be Richard G and others who contribute reviews here and elsewhere. The logistics might be problematic, i.e. deadlines, etc. But that would be the domain of the book's editor.

Hoo boy...I am putting way too much work into this!

That's how I would see it, at least.

Scott and Chris,

I am flattered by your faith in me, but I only said I COULD do it and that it would take a lot of time, research, and money as well to pay for all the many recordings I would need to hear in order to fill in my gaps, as well as purchase any reference materials I would need. I have not followed ambient hardly at all since 2008, so I would have a lot of catching up to do. Believe me, I have toyed with the idea of a book, even a very informal one (most likely a collection of essays), but I would have to be ready to devote a lot of time to it and at this point in my life with all that's going on, that's not going to happen any times soon, unless something changes. But if it does ever start to even remotely materialize, I will be sure to write something here about it.

My main point was that I would approach it knowing my limitations of knowledge and be sure to address those limitations either by working to increase my knowledge OR acknowledging that the book had severe limitations. Also, not trying to sound TOO arrogant (LOL) but I know I can write as well as the next guy, too. So, it would, at the least, prove to be an entertaining thing to read (I hope).

Geez, now y'all got me thinking about this...thanks a lot!  :-[

While not defending the glaring omissions and missing research, our kind of music is
hard to find in the UK.  There was no national radio broadcast or station playing
ambient, space, or electronic music.  I only learnt of Messrs Roach, Rich, Stearns...
when I came to work in the US in 1999 and a friend pointed me to Hearts of Space.
Internet radio has helped, but mostly if you already know the music exists.  There's no
equivalent of Hearts of Space.  I wish it could be syndicated to the BBC Radio or
Classic FM.  Yes John Peel did introduce we Brits  (me included) to Tangerine Dream,
but that was forty years ago.

Are there any good writers out there in ambientland who could write a more
comprehensive history of ambient or electronic music?

Well, if pressed and allowed to spend a year or so doing intensive research, with a decent advance from a publisher to cover some needed expenses (not a king's ransom), yeah, I could write a much better history of the genre, IMNSHO (not so humble indeed, probably). Look, I can grant you that the guy maybe doesn't have knowledge of "non-UK" or "non-European" ambient, but that doesn't excuse him presenting himself as a genre expert when he clearly is not. I am not an "expert" but I damn sure would do some extensive research before making it appear that I WAS one. And when one makes a presentation with the words "history of..." in its title, I'd either make sure I KNEW the history of whatever I claimed to know OR I would change the title to "MY history of..." or "An abridged history of..." or "A European history of..." Not knowing about Hearts of Space (really???? unless one lives in the bush or way upriver on the Amazon or in the outback), how hard would it be to find out about Hearts of Space?

OTOH...playing devil's advocate to my own diatribe above...I just Google'd "ambient music labels" and came up with the wikipedia entry, which (while including both Hypnos and Lotuspike) omits Hearts of Space and Spotted Peccary (although it does include Valley Entertainment which DOES own the HOS catalog, but how many non-insiders KNOW that?). So, while I still do not excuse his many and serious omissions, I do start to understand what some of you are saying. Still, it does represent a certain ethnocentric (from a musical standpoint) viewpoint to not do a serious exploration of the GLOBAL existence of the genre, e.g. finding out about all the great stuff through the years that has been put out by Artemiy Artemiev's label, Electroshock, which wikipedia also ignoes (I assume he likewise missed them, but TBH, I haven't even watched the video yet).

So, while I appreciate what drkappa says when he states "...our kind of music is hard to find in the UK" I simply don't think that is a valid excuse for his ignorance. Just my two cents.

While I see your point, Chris, I think if one is going to present oneself as even somewhat of an authority on a subject, one is obligated to do a modicum of research. Or one must qualify the extent of one's expertise. E.g. some folks might say "I am an expert on early 60s rock." But that person may know next to nothing about 80s new wave or 90s grunge, etc. So that person should not say he is an expert on ROCK music per se. To elevate yourself as someone who can address something as broad as the history of a music genre, even a genre as "new" as ambient (as compared to classical), one must have a strong academic background in that genre and that REQUIRES doing research beyond listening to and reading about music the person LIKES. The omission of absolutely undeniable pivotal ambient artists such Roach, Rich, et al. completely undercuts the viability of a person as a HISTORIAN and reduces the person to nothing more than a critic (like yours truly). A better title for his talk would be "A Selective History..." or "My Personal History WITH Ambient music..."

It's why I will never write a book, despite being told to do so by many folks. After 15 years of reviewing, I realize I am aware of just a fraction of the releases (and artists) in both the ambient and new age genres. I just got a CD from an artist with 14 PRIOR releases and I had never heard of him before this!

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Cloud Atlas
« on: November 27, 2012, 01:54:51 PM »
If it comes to the neighborhood second run house near my home, I'll see it then. Otherwise, I'll rent it. It sounds like a "pretty" movie with a preachy/pretentious "plot."

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