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Messages - Bill Binkelman

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41
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« on: October 05, 2012, 08:36:11 AM »
But to me, the artwork strikes to the core of my emotional being and floods me with emotion . Is it good "art?" Frankly, I don't give a shit as it means something to me.

Yikes, Bill, I think it feel a Thomas Kincaid moment coming on...;)

(snip)

Forrest

I expected that reaction from some folks...and I admit that on the surface Redlin and Kincaid may appear alike, but really they aren't at all (IMO). Yeah, wildlife art is not "art" to a lot of people. That's fine. Ambient music isn't "music" to a lot of people. Artistic taste is 100% subjective. I know the remake of The Italian Job (film) is not as "good" as the original but I like it better. What I was trying to say with the Redlin example is that his depiction of rural midwest scenes in autumn somehow strikes this chord in me from my childhood...it reminds me of trips up north with my (long since deceased) parents. It reminds me of playing outside in the fall (my favorite time of year) as a kid. There is no "reason" why it hits me this way or so hard. It just does. There's nothing rationale about it. Why do some things hit us the way they do? Despite my obvious cynicism (which I parade around every chance I get), in my heart I would actually call myself a romantic idealist slanted towards being somewhat obsessed with nostalgia (I tend to dwell on the past in a lot of ways). Anyway, my point is that my appreciation for a painting, an album, etc. is just that...MY appreciation for it.

As for the snipped comments you made about what drives you to make music...well, I have never been a musician so I can't even comment on that. I think that people do what they do for a lot of reasons. I don't think one impetus is automatically better or worse than another, including doing something just to make money (although, that has its limitations, e.g. labels releasing countless compilations by raiding back catalogs, which is what Windham Hill did a lot after it was sold by Ackerman to BMI). As a journalist, which is what I view myself as - not a creative writer - my impetus is solely to communicate something, which if I understand you correctly, is the opposite of what you intend...I think I get what you are saying that your music is more "pure essence," i.e. you are "playing with paints" as you wrote to see what comes out of it all. I respect that...but it is the opposite of where I come from when I write (your approach is probably closer to poetry, although that is itself a generalization on my part).

42
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« on: October 04, 2012, 09:50:36 PM »
Hi Bill,

I'm glad you clarified your position.  The reason I thought you were second-guessing Robert's opinion of his own work is that you stated that "the ultimate appraisal of an artist's work should be made by the audience, not the artist."  I couldn't disagree more with this statement.  If this were the case, then chart position would be the equivalent of aesthetic merit---which really begs the question.

Forrest


To some degree, I stand by my statement about "ultimate appraisal." But I sure as hell am not equating appraisal with commercial success. My point is this: IF (and that may be a big IF), an artist is trying to communicate something via his/her work (whether it is an idea, an emotion, or whatever), then, ultimately, the transmission of that thing (idea, emotion) is the goal and only the recipient of said info can be the "judge" of whether or not the art was "successful." Now, I understand, appreciate, and respect if an artist only does his/her art to "let out the muse," i.e there is nothing to communicate. The art is for its own sake. It just "is." It may express something an artist thinks or feels, but if no one else "gets" it, that's fine and dandy.

This is an important distinction, IMO. Does art exist for the "appreciator" or for the artist? If one extends the analogy to food, then if the person who eats the food says it's "terrible" (even if prepared well), does that invalidate the food's worth? Conversely, if a person thinks Robert Rich's Rainforest is "good" but Stalker is crap, does that mean anything other than what it is? A preference?

But, from a different perspective, viewing the appreciation of one's work as the "goal," then even if the cook "makes a mistake" (e.g. cooks a a Kobe beef cut to medium well) but the patron loves it and finds the meal delicious, well, was the "goal" met?

It's a curious thing, i.e. art appreciation. I had a former girlfriend consider the work of wildlife painter Terry Redlin (see below for an example) as "kitsch" and chided me - overtly - for my love of it.



But to me, the artwork strikes to the core of my emotional being and floods me with emotion . Is it good "art?" Frankly, I don't give a shit as it means something to me.

This was my sole purpose in my original post in this topic. The recipient of any art is the ultimate judge of the art's worth TO THAT INDIVIDUAL. There is never any absolute judgement of art. But an artist should, IMO, appreciate that what the artist may deem as inconsequential may hold deep meaning for the fan. That should never be taken lightly, IMO.

43
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« on: October 04, 2012, 12:54:15 PM »
I never meant to infer that I was (quoting Forrest here) "...second-guess[ing] an artist's opinion of his or her own work." if that's what some folks here think I was stating. My point is that while an artist, obviously, has every right to evaluate his/her work from his/her own perspective (as does the fan of that artist), it's ungracious (IMHO) of an artist to reply in a way that deflects or minimizes the compliment. It's not about allowing the artist to be human, here quoting Mike who wrote "...[the artist] must not ever offer genuine opinions or interact with listeners like a human being." There's being a "human being" and being a dick. If someone came up to me and said "Bill, Wind and Wire was AWESOME." but didn't say anything about my subsequent work at Zone Music Reporter or Retailing Insight, I'd STILL say "Gee, thanks a lot. I appreciate it. Really glad you liked it. Say, have you caught some of my newer stuff? I'd be curious how you think it compares." Because that is EXACTLY what I would want to know. And if they said, "Yeah, your reviews are still okay but Wind and Wire was the bomb." I'd still be polite. It's not about my "reaction" because, sure, I'd be disappointed that this fan didn't care for what I was doing now, but so what? Truthfully, I might ask "What do you see is the main difference? I'd really like to know. Is it the music I review now or are my reviews not as well written as before?" If Robert thinks Rainforest is not that good, maybe he could ask "What was it/is it about that disc that moved you so much?" OTOH, maybe he just didn't care, which is fine too.

I met Robert at a show here in Minneapolis and he is a shy and reserved person, IMO. In the situation recalled here in this thread, I don't think he was wrong or being a dick, but I do think what he said was a little insensitive...no big deal - just a little insenstive. It's not that I think fans' opinions outweigh an artist's...but an artist should be, IMO, appreciative when a fan says anything nice. Just because an artist thinks his/her earlier stuff is of lesser quality, that's no reason to not accept the compliment with grace and humility. As my Wind and Wire example stated above showed, merely engage the fan in a conversation, if time allows, and find out what he/she thinks of your newer stuff. And if he/she (fan) doesn't like it, well, that's just the way it is. There is no right or wrong in this issue, except that politeness would dictate, IMO, that the artist receives the compliment graciously without the need to deflect the praise or infer, even subtly, that the praise is unwarranted when compared to other work.

44
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« on: October 03, 2012, 09:25:03 PM »
I think that telling an artist how much you liked/loved his earlier work should be taken as the HIGHEST of compliments. Think about how powerful that comment is...an album that had a significant impact on an individual that the artist turned out early in his career. To minimize that by inferring "hmmm...this person might not like my later stuff..." is (1) belittling the individual who praises the earlier work and (2) assuming that the artist's later work IS, in fact, "better." How many people here think Brian Eno has ever approached the brilliance of Music for Airports, Apollo, or Neroli (if you like that album, that is)? Rich can think whatever he wants about Rainforest...that's his right, of course...but I think his remark, however innocuous he MEANT it to be, is a slap in the face , to a true fan of his work. I think a lot of artists over time don't achieve the brilliance of early work. Hell, Tangerine Dream's earliest work is easily their best, when compared to later works. Anyway, it's not about whether or not Rainforest is great or not, but more that, TBH, the ultimate appraisal of an artist's work should be made by the audience, not the artist. To reply to a compliment of Rainforest as Rich did makes me feel like somehow I am ignorant or "missing something" if I still like it. Do I think some of his work since then is good? Yes. But I still think Rainforest is one of his best - if not my FAVORITE disc of his. When the artist gives the impression that it was less than his best work, as I think can be inferred from his comment, I feel...well...icky.

OTOH, I could've predicted that his reaction had to do with the business practices of HOS (the label). Why am I not surprised about this revelation (since I have heard the same from some other former HOS artists)? Now, don't go tattling to Mr Hill about my saying this since this is what got me in trouble with him back in 2001!  ::)

45
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« on: October 03, 2012, 08:16:44 AM »
When I met Robert Rich at the living room concert at Jesse Sola's house, one of the first things I said to him was how much I liked Rainforest as a teenager.  His response to this right away was something of "well hopefully I've gotten better since then".  Expecting the typical "oh thank you" response, I was a little taken aback that he would look back on it with almost embarrassment (like for a certain time when the good ol' Beastie Boys would look back at Licensed To Ill) Maybe Robert thought his work has gotten much more complex and skilled since, but there is something about the simplicity of that album that I really like. 

(snip)

This is a sad thing to read. I LOVED Rainforest when it came out and, actually, I love it now even more. I still consider it easily one of Rich's top 5 albums. I can see Rich saying something like "Well, I hope I have evolved since then" because he has, but not evolved into something "better" per se, just something different...so maybe a better choice of word(s) is "he's morphed." But, to diss your earlier work. Well, maybe it's simply that he himself doesn't like it. I've never heard him run down Geometry, Gaudi, or (my personal UNfavorite disc of his) Seven Veils. I suppose it's possible he simply doesn't LIKE the kind of music on Rainforest, but to more or less dismiss it...well, as I wrote, that saddens me. It is, and will always be, one of my desert island discs. I hear something "new" on it every time I play it.

46
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: New cd from Jeff Pearce
« on: September 19, 2012, 02:53:37 PM »
I'm on my third playing of this album and, no surprise, I love it. On the more active tracks, I can hear that Jeff has been getting some lessons from Philip Aaberg. The more "ambient-ish" pieces, whether solo piano or piano accented by guitar, may bring to mind minimalists such as Jeff's pal Tim Story, as well as Kevin Keller (to a lesser degree). The GORGEOUS cover art perfectly captures the autumnal mood of the music, which is occasionally less somber than Rainshadow Sky but never what I would call "cheery" although some tracks, such as "Into Spring" have a decidedly optimistic warmth to them (in fact, "Into Spring" somewhat reminds me of some of the mellower tracks from Jim Chappel's Acadia or Living the Northern Summer).

Jeff Pearce does it again, IMO. Unless you loathe piano music, I'd highly recommend getting this CD. But understand, this isn't Eno-like, i.e. this is not Neroli style minimalism. It's generally much more "tuneful" than that. Which, IMO, is a compliment.

Here's the beautiful cover:




47
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Albums that should be reissued
« on: September 04, 2012, 12:48:11 PM »
Darren, I agree it's not on a par with Thief or Miracle Mile, but while Risky Business has some great tracks, it's not that good, IMO. Maybe why I like The Keep so much is that I loved the movie. It's funny because it's OBVIOUSLY been butchered by the studio (this was likely before a director like Michael Mann got final cut of a film in his deal), but even though it's tremendously flawed (seems to be missing huge chunks of the movie), I dig it. With a cast like Scott Glenn, Ian McKellan Jurgen Prochnow, Gabriel Byrne, and Robert Prosky, what's not to love? I particularly like the percussive main title theme, with that great long tracking shot down through the trees as the Nazis enter the Carpathian village. Too eerie. But yeah, I will give you that Thief and Miracle Mile are great pieces of work.

The author of the book the film was based on (F Paul Wilson) hated the movie A LOT (he and I discussed this years ago on on an old USENET discussion forum). He hated the changes made to his original story, e.g. changing Molasar from a "regular" vampire to whatever the hell he is in Mann's version - although I like Mann's version better). It sucks that something is holding up a DVD release. I'd love to see Mann get to do a director's cut and restore whatever Paramount axed out of the film. One thing Michael Mann can do is tell a coherent story and The Keep was NOT coherent.

UPDATE: Went to IMDB and found out Mann's original cut of the film ran 3 1/2 hours! Shit, no wonder the 90 minute film that WAS released is a mess. Also, here's the reason why no DVD of this:

"While it was released on VHS and laserdisc, it has never been release on DVD. It has been noted that Paramount was going to release it on DVD in 2004 but two reasons have stopped them from doing so. First, the studio wasn't able to obtain the rights of the soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. Second is that Michael Mann (who has disowned the film) forced the studio not to release it." (see the quote here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085780/trivia)

I can imagine if Mann's original film was 3.5 hours and he had to CUT IT IN HALF, yeah, I guess he's pretty pissed about it. But why not let him restore the original version, assuming the footage exists?

48
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Albums that should be reissued
« on: September 03, 2012, 03:17:24 PM »
As a close tangent to this..one album that has never been officially released (some bootlegs, I believe) is Tangerine Dream's soundtrack to The Keep. I saw a bootleg of this go for over $500 on ebay years ago. Damn shame it's never come out as it's a GREAT soundtrack.

49
I finally saw it about a month ago at a second run theater and I hated it. Hated the characters, whom I found all annoying to the max - yes, even the android. The SFX which I thought would be good were mediocre at best. The plot holes were so huge that it made the Transformers series look realistic (honestly, how does a tiny alien which somehow survives being cut out of its host grow to be so big in a food-less environment???   and getting up from a table and running around after abdominal surgery????), and the story itself was so pointlessly pretentious as to be laughable. Where are Joel, Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy when you need them? Easily the biggest disappointment I have had since Star Wars I, II, and III. The music sucked, too. I truly HATED this film and there are few movies I really and truly HATE, but this is one of them.

50
sonuvabitch....I just realized I misspelled "barring." Well, ain't that a pisser!  ::)

51
Well, I will be there, hopefully, which takes some guts on my part because the last time I was in New Orleans (which was also my first time) I got a nasty case of food poisoning. As to your specific point, I would gladly get in a cage match with some female new age musicians I know, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.  :o

(there's my snappy remark, John...happy?)  ;)

52
The two men who run Zone Music Reporter, which used to be New Age Reporter, wanted me to mention that they are are trying to raise enough money so that next year's awards for albums of the year (in all the genres they cover, including ambient and electronic) will be presented at a live event in New Orleans, where Ben and Daryl live. While the majority of recordings that chart and/or are reviewed at ZMR are not ambient, they do annually award both a "best ambient" and "best electronic" award and the site's monthly chart of radio airplay does also feature ambient artists by virtue of DJs reporting who they are playing on their shows. Currently, the following artists in the ambient/electronic genre are on the top 100 airplay chart:

Craig Padilla - Heart of the Soul
Cyber Zen Sound Engine - Cooperation
John Lyell - Eternity
Steve Roach - Back to Life
Patrick O'Hearn - Transitions
Seren Ffordd & Oophoi - The Martian Chronicles
Steve Roach - Day Out of Time
Marconi Union - Different Colors
Amongst Myself - Ambient Landscape and Space
Bruno Sanfilippo - Urbs
Steve Roach and Dirk Serries - Low Volume Music
Gert Emmens - An Artist's Stroke
Erik Wollo - Silent Currents
and more

I realize that ZMR is more a new age and world beat site...there's no denying it...and I am not coming here with hat in hand as much as relaying a message from the two men at ZMR. I also know my reviewing of ambient has been more or less absent for a few years. But, all the same, if you want to read more about the event and feel like throwing Ben and Daryl a few bucks, here is a link to the Facebook even page about the proposed shindig. Right now, they are woefully short of the goal, but a bunch of folks, me included, have gone on the record that it would be better to scale back on the amount desired and have a more modest gathering ( I suggested beer and pizza) but still do it in person so that many artists who have only met in virtual space can gather together and celebrate the music's uniqueness. Granted, there is absolutely no love lost between the new age and ambient communities - I know that better than anyone. But nothing ventured nothing gained. If the event does happen, I will be there, baring an act of god.

Here is the Facebook link
https://www.facebook.com/events/417082435008594/

Since I am not an employee of ZMR, I only review for them, please don't consider this virtual pan-handling. I am merely conveying the message per the request of ZMR because neither of those two men is known by name by any of you, I imagine.

Thanks for your consideration. I appreciate it. And no witty retorts or snappy remarks to close - a first for me here, no doubt.

53
I'll just leave this here...it's Richard Corliss' (TIME magazine) review of The Dark Knight Rises. Will this be the serious-minded, adult, provocative film that Prometheus was supposed to be? Or once again will many people fall for the hype of a film that ultimately disappoints? Only time (3 days) will tell, I guess. This one I WILL be seeing as soon as possible.

http://entertainment.time.com/2012/07/16/times-review-of-the-dark-knight-rises-to-the-depths-to-the-heights/

54
I hate to say "I told you so!" but here's my post from back in March when many folks everywhere on the 'net were hyperventilating about the film, especially at aintitcool.com:

"I have seen too many trailers that looked equally awesome and the final film didn't deliver. Admittedly, this looks fantastic, but I will wait for opening night...I have had too many expectations dashed on the rocks of reality. A lot of films can be assembled into an amazing trailer and the resulting film is only "okay" so we will see. Also, I hope Scott knows what he is doing screwing around with the Alien mythos. Lucas did that with the prequel and we got "midocholorians."

And no, I still haven't seen it, because aside from the visuals, it sounds awful. When the film finally comes to the second run Riverview near my house (the best place to see a film in the Twin Cities, IMO), I will break down go see it just so I can say I saw it.

55
Everything and Nothing / Re: RIP Ernest Borgnine
« on: July 09, 2012, 10:24:08 AM »
"No one messes with The Duke!"


56
Computers, Internet and Technology / Re: Purchase advice requested
« on: July 01, 2012, 07:41:39 AM »
Thanks to everyone for their many suggestions. I am planning on staying with a wireless solution because the wireless signal is fine when my PC is in the same location as the TV so WiFi is not the issue (plus it would mean running an ethernet cable under the floor from one end of the house to the other). Since I don't game at all, the PS3 is out as it's not cost effective. I think I will go with a Roku or similar device since the Samsung blu-ray plyer is fine except for streaming. I am really looking for the lowest cost solution, so obviously buying a new computer (the mini Mac) is also out of the question. But I do appreciate every piece of feedback given here. If I had more money, I would  consider the more expensive options, trust me. And jimzzzak, yes, I am going to buy an HDMI splitter which someone suggested to me on FB as well.

Thanks, again.

57
Computers, Internet and Technology / Purchase advice requested
« on: June 23, 2012, 01:05:51 PM »
This is a broader question than just about computers, but it is about Wi-Fi and technology, so here goes (I also posted this at Facebook):

I have a purchase decision to make and I'd appreciate any and all opinions. Kathryn and I have the Netflix streaming option but our Samsung Blu-ray player sucks at that part (reading reviews of the player, it seems we are not alone...many folks complain about how bad it is at that function). The connection drops all the time and the player won't even recognize the wi-fi signal most of the time, even though the TV says it's connected to the Internet - go figure. So, my two options are as follows: Buy a new Blu-ray player with wi-fi built-in - looks like Panasonic or Sony are best bets and relegate the Samsung to the bedroom where all it will do is play DVDs..OR buy a Roku device and keep the Samsung where it is (living room) but use it only for DVD/Blu-ray and depend on the Roku for my streaming applications (neither the Samsung nor Roku offers YouTube, though). There is nothing wrong with the player part of the Samsung but it's stupid to keep paying Netflix for the streaming option and not be streaming anything. So, any and all opinions are welcome. I know of no one with a Roku standalone streaming device, but CNET reviews were overall positive. Would like to make a decision soon. Thanks! Oh, I will have to disconnect the Blu-ray player whenever I use the Roku because of a lack of inputs on the TV (Samsung also is known for flaky HDMI ports...I have lost 3 of my 4 HDMI ports so far and the on which works is hooked to the Blu-ray player). So, an added inconvenience will be to disconnect one device and switch the cable to another one.  OH, one more option I suppose is to buy an Wi-Fi ready TV and put the current LR TV into the bedroom. That's the most expensive option, though.

58
Saw it yesterday. I loved it, yet was disappointed by it. My main gripe was the characters and their inconsistencies (Bill mentioned this).
Despite being just over two hours, the pacing of the film felt like an hour had been cut out. Aside from a few roles, character development was shallow at best. There were the "good" guys and "bad" guys, but their alliances weren't completely explained. I have no problem if they didn't explain it to keep you guessing, but the way it was portrayed felt like bad writing.

In spite of all this, if you have any interest in the film, definitely go see it. While it does leave many questions unanswered, it DOES answer the question I had ever since I watched the original Alien film so many years ago. That alone was worth the price of admission.

**********  WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS **********

An example of inconsistent characters:
Take the two who were left in the pyramid (what they called it) when the storm arrived. At first, they reacted in a realistic manner when they found the bodies stacked in the hallway. Then they entered the storage room containing the oozing vases, and the mutated worms came. Now one of the characters is completely fearless, practically begging to be killed like an idiot in a horror movie.

Another example is when David has Shaw on the table, telling her she's pregnant, and then sedates her. She wakes to find two people prepping her for hypersleep. She fights them off (why didn't they give chase?) and uses the auto-surgery machine to remove the alien.
Then she returns to find David and some others, who seem completely okay that she escaped. In my opinion, this is a clear example of something that was left on the cutting room floor.

Another comment: While I love Guy Pearce in pretty much any other film, he can't play an old man to save his life...  ::)

THIS is one of the things that every review mentions as being laughably absurd. Shaw performs self-surgery (basically she performs a Caesarian  section on herself), and STAPLES (not sews) the incision and within a very short time (instead of a few days) is RUNNING around. Come on...seriously? How can I take any movie seriously when it has a scene like that?

I will likely see this when it comes to my neighborhood second run theater (the Riverview) since (a) it'll be cheap (3 bucks) and (b) the Riverview consistently wins "best theater" awards due to screen size, sound system, etc. so I wouldn't be slumming going there. But my expectations are so low now that it would have be as bad as Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes or Joel Schumacher's  Batman and Robin for me to be STILL disappointed in it. I now only look forward to the (always praised even in negative reviews) set design, FX, etc., i.e. the film LOOKS great supposedly. But from what I have read, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (one of my ultimate guilty pleasures) makes more sense from a narrative standpoint.

59
Just read several dozens of reader reviews over at aintitcool.com and they are overwhelmingly negative....now, these are "fanboys" so they were hoping for brilliance, so maybe that is part of it. Without mentioning any spoilers, what I glean from their comments is that the biggest problem with the film is that it's a lot like the TV show LOST...it asks all these "questions" and throws all this stuff at you and nothing adds up...plot lines dangle and die left and right. And we're not talking about wrapping things up all neat and tidy, because I don't mind ambiguity in a movie, but it's the reason I gave up on LOST after 2.5 seasons i.e. I kept thinking "okay, but what about "x" and "y?" Based on the reviews, it seems that the last third of the film is a dire mess, with characters making decisions and acting either in an incredibly inconsistent manner OR making decisions and acting in such stupid ways that the film is like the worst haunted house movie, a la "Don't go into the basement, you idiot!" Not to mention that many things that are "important" are completely unexplained (perhaps answered in the sequel which looks like it will happen unless the movie tanks after 2-3 weeks).

I hope someone here on the forum who sees the movie today will post their reaction. I find it fascinating that some of the "professional" critics in the US press are praising the films but the fanboys and geeks are trashing it - usually with SF films, it's the other way around.

60
CNN's obituary here:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/06/showbiz/ray-bradbury-obit/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

Well, he lived to be 91, which is pretty damn good, IMO, but still it's a sad day for those of us who loved classic science fiction.  :(

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