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Messages - chris23

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Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« on: June 08, 2013, 06:57:19 AM »
Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking by Daniel C. Dennett
Excellent non-fiction. Daniel Dennett is a philosopher who has devoted most of his career to challenging and probing our scientific and intuitive understandings of consciousness, meaning, and free will. This book brings together a lot of the points he's made over the decades, with a specific emphasis on "intuition pumps"--basic thought experiments that can be used to better probe your intuitions on these challenging topics. Dennett introduces several systematic ways to turn the knobs on these intuition pumps to better reveal what the critical ingredients might be in making them succeed or fail.

If you appreciate good clear thinkers who are tackling complex issues, you'll enjoy this book. Sometimes philosophy can be a bit too tedious for my tastes. Dennett knows how to get to the heart of the problems without losing touch with the reasons they are compelling problems in the first place.

I'd buy that CD just for the giggles.

Good luck!

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: June 05, 2013, 11:08:49 AM »
Aglaia - Centurion
Lovely. This release follows naturally from some of Aglaia's recent work: mostly electronic instrumentation, with a smattering of organic instrumentation and field recordings. This particular release is composed of 15 relatively brief tracks, so it doesn't have the grandeur of some of other Aglaia releases that are based on long-form compositions, but there is clear continuity in the mood and atmosphere from one track to the next. Strongly recommend. (Downloaded via iTunes because I am too impatient/eager to wait for a well-priced physical copy to come along.)


Jim Guthrie - Takes Time
His first "I'm in a band" release in about 10 years. This is fantastic indie rock that will appeal to anyone who ever wondered what Nick Drake would sound like if he played video games and drank too much coffee.
Give it a free spin on Bandcamp:

I much prefer physical CD's over downloads, but sometimes it seems the BS you have to go through with flaky or unprofessional sellers is not worth it. 

I generally have good experiences with mail order, but the occasional bad ("we forgot to send it") or slow (overseas) experience always leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Here is the physical/digital compromise that I've come to adore: Bandcamp.

A number of ambient, experimental, and minimalist artists and labels are now selling their CDs on Bandcamp. What is awesome about buying CDs via Bandcamp is that the artist/label receives an e-mail notifying them of the payment/mailing address. So the label/artist can send out the physical copy per the usual slow process. But, as soon as you make the purchase, you can immediately download the release in a number of digital formats--including flac if you're an audiophile--all of which are DRM free.

Thanks to Bandcamp, the physical CD vs. download option is no longer a mutually exclusive choice for the consumer. I think of this as win-win for everyone. For the consumer, you get the physical product, but, while you wait, you can enjoy the digital release and/or store it on your hard drive as backup. If you want to save some money, you can download the digital version only. Plus, when the artist is slow to deliver, at least you have something to listen to in the meantime. On the artist/label side, I think you get a generous portion of the sale price. Plus, since Bandcamp covers the hosting and sales end, it makes it ridiculously easy (I assume) to sell in a global marketplace with little maintenance, auxiliary costs, etc. Plus, exposure becomes more "natural": I've discovered a number of artists simply by checking the playlists of other people who bought things that I also bought. It is so much fun to see what other people with like-minded tastes are listening to. In addition, because it is often possible to hear an entire track or album before buying, the exposure factor is fantastic.

It is very rare for me to order physical releases from sellers that do not have a Bandcamp presence these days. I still do it, but, I find myself less likely to do so than in the past simply because I love ability to download the digital immediately and receive the physical CD later. Bandcamp makes the process so darn fun and rewarding.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« on: May 30, 2013, 02:38:08 PM »
Good point.   ;)

I prefer Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code to Inferno largely because those stories touch on conspiratorial themes at the intersection of faith and science. They raise issues that are fun to consider independently of the plot itself.

The current novel is similar, but, instead of dealing with themes that are overtly relevant to the Catholic church, it deals with a moral dilemma that can be challenging for secularists and the devout alike: If you had the power to save humanity, but, to do so, you would have to sacrifice 1/3 of the Earth's population, would you do it?

Bottom line: It is a fun and quick read. It isn't meant to be classic literature, even if it pays homage to classic literature.  And, if you're willing to think outside of the main plot line a bit, you'll find some troublesome moral questions to consider that are likely to generate lively discussions among fellow readers.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« on: May 30, 2013, 01:10:42 PM »
Inferno by Dan Brown
This story stays pretty close to the Dan Brown mold: The main character, a Harvard professor, uses his vast knowledge of art history to save humanity from extinction. There is a young, pretty woman; codes to be broken; apocalyptic scares; many chase scenes; and plenty of plot twists. The book is getting slammed pretty hard by the critics. But, I don't need everything to hang together perfectly or be highly original when I'm reading for entertainment.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: May 28, 2013, 01:49:16 PM »
Christoph Berg - Paraphrases (Facture)
I love music that is situated at the intersection of ambient, experimental, and modern classical (e.g., Winged Victory, Deaf Center). This release from Field Rotation's Christoph Berg is perfect in that respect.  The standout track for me is Poems Written by an Old (Prepared) Piano, which features a soft, melancholy tune played over the background of someone typing away on a mechanical typewriter. The packaging for the CD is exceptional as well, with a hand-stamped cover and a multi-page foldout of photographs by Aela Labbe.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: May 23, 2013, 07:13:38 PM »
I've also been spinning the new Vampire Weekend over the past few days. It is wonderful. I believe they are one of those rare bands that simply get better and better with each release; they always do something that surprises me.

I also picked up the latest album by The National --Trouble Will Find me-- but I haven't had an opportunity to listen to it carefully yet. It seems fine on a first listen, but I keep finding myself popping Vampire Weekend into the CD player instead.


Recently received a copy of the untitled CD by Closing the Eternity and Mathias Grassow. I am absolutely blown away by this on multiple levels. First, the packaging is outstanding: 6-panel digipak containing filtered images of natural scenes and dark subterranean spaces. Second, the tracks are amazing; mostly field recordings, bowls, and various processed sounds--more on the organic than electronic side of things.  The track on the bonus CD is wonderful too. (If I were in charge, I'd trim the first 10 mins of the second track, which is a bit too busy, and include the bonus track in its place.)

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« on: May 21, 2013, 06:47:50 PM »
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
It took me much longer to get through this than Ender's Game, but it was great nonetheless.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: May 20, 2013, 06:50:36 PM »
Michael Mantra - D/A
Absolutely mesmerizing dronescapes. The disc, released by Silent Season, contains the two core tracks of the release: D/Mountain and A/Stream. The free download that comes with the order contains an additional hour + worth of excellent remixes of the original recordings by Loscil, Arjen Schat, Ohrwert, and others. The Loscil mix is particularly interesting; parts of it remind me of M. Griffin and D. Fulton's The Most Distant Point Known.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Coolest thing ever!
« on: May 12, 2013, 07:33:09 PM »
That was excellent.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: May 10, 2013, 06:31:41 PM »
Kreng - L'Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu
Dark stuff.  Orchestral, opera, field recordings arranged into eerie and unsettling theatrical compositions. On the Miasmah label.

Current 93 - Faust
More stuff that creeps me out (but I can't turn it off). Layers upon layers upon layers of voices and whispers, often played back at half speed.

Very exciting! .74  and Telluric Waves are excellent recordings and I've been craving something new from Lomax. ;-)

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: May 03, 2013, 03:23:14 PM »
Wouter Veldhuis - Blue Forest
I saw this on Dave's list and, after listening to some samples, was intrigued enough to order it. It is fairly standard done-based ambient. What intrigued me about it (besides the lovely cover) was the claim that "all tracks are made out of captured and processed pre-heard, found sounds and field-recordings. No samples, synthesizers or electronic audio sources were used during the production process." I wouldn't have guessed that from listening to it. And, with that as context, I must say it is a really impressive recording.

Naoki Ishida & Ayato - PHAE
I don't know anything about the artists; as far as I can tell from a web search, these are the names of anime characters rather than the names of recording artists! The album is awesome, for what it is worth. It is very much in the spirit of the ambient/glitch/experimental hybrid that is characteristic of some of the more acoustic Japanese groups, like Minamo, Fourcolor, etc. Highly recommended.

Both of these releases come from the Organic Industries label. The packaging itself is noteworthy. Each disc is housed in a paper casing that frames a lovely, glossy photograph. Impressively, when the casing opens, the disc emerges in an orgami-like sheath. My daughter is impressed. ;-)

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« on: April 29, 2013, 07:07:58 PM »
The Human Stain is the first book of his that I've read. I enjoyed it and I might check out some of his other books sometime in the future.

On a different note: I just (re)read this utterly disturbing, but fascinating, story:

THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT by William Hope Hodgson

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 27, 2013, 01:19:02 PM »
Seaworthy - Sleep Paths
Simon Scott - Sillene
For Ingar Gustavsson - Johan G. Winther

I've been preoccupied lately by the Slaapwel label, after hearing Sonmi451's Ruis . These three titles are some of the few that are still in print and they are excellent. The Seaworthy release in particular is quite nice. 

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« on: April 27, 2013, 01:13:15 PM »
The Human Stain by Phillip Roth
Fiction. Coleman Silk, an eminent professor and dean at a small NE college, resigns after being accused of using racial slurs in the classroom.  The novel documents the way in which Coleman's life unravels after the incident. But the true heart of the story concerns what the reader learns about Coleman's past along the way. A well told novel with great character development.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 25, 2013, 08:38:19 PM »
Martin Fuhs - Grauton
Wonderful. A nice blend of modern classical, drone-based ambient, and experimental. I'm sorry I didn't discover this sooner.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 22, 2013, 05:35:23 AM »
Steve Roach - Soul Tones

As good as ever. Title track is marvelous. The exotic harmonies Steve Roach creates.... I could dwell inside them forever.

I've been listening to this a lot too (thanks, drone on). The last 10 minutes of the 2nd track (Resolved) are absolutely brilliant--some of my favorite of Roach's.

Thom Brennan - Mist
A classic. I will never tire of this.

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