July 2008

Five Albums You Should Download (Legally)

Everything that can be copied freely, will. And for some of the better stuff, it’s even legal. For instance: Five free albums you should download:

AmpLive‘s album “Rainydayz
Freely at: http://www.onesevensevensix.com/amplive/
I apparently missed the fan outcry that surrounded this album (you can read about it on the link,) but whatever process it took to get it hosted freely on the net, then I’m glad it happened. The remix of Radiohead’s In Rainbows, with four of the seven songs featuring hip-hop vocals, could have been horrendously bad, but AmpLive never approaches that territory, and instead keeps is surprisingly fresh all throughout. There are a few effects such as ‘stuttering drums’ that you just really don’t associate with Radiohead, but you can only smirk at them, given how great the album is as a whole. Normally when a rock album is remixed by a DJ, it becomes “a rap album with rock samples and the original singer is nowhere to be found.” And to that we all typically roll our eyes, right? Right. Well, of the seven tracks on the album, four have other artists’ vocals, three don’t. Of those seven albums, Thom Yorke is noticeably sampled on six of them. Of those six, he’s the sole voice on three, and heavily featured on another. If rock albums are to ever be remixed with rappers over then, then AmpLive has just written the blueprint on how to do it. The rappers, singers, and music aren’t card board cut-outs to be glued where he sees fit, but instruments in themselves to be guided by his turntable, mixing board, and creativity, to create on cohesive song.
Best tracks: 2, 4, 7, 8

NIN‘s album “The Slip
Freely here: http://theslip.nin.com/
The Slip is Trent Reznor’s first full album since he told his record label ‘fuck off’, and decided he wanted to do things ‘his way’. As such, he gives the exemplary NIN experience: a story within an album that reeks of personal complication and near-futile struggle, only, this is different. If The Downward Spiral was the story of a person coming apart and failing, and The Fragile was an attempted rebuilding that ended in failure and realization at the fragility of the attempt, then The Slip is the realization that it’s not strength and overpowering that gains freedom, but simply agility and speed to keep other’s hands off of you; slipping away. And that’s exactly what Reznor did when he finally got out of his contract, and with that new found freedom, this album slips into a more comfortable pair of shoes as he realizes that the opposite of the pain previously felt isn’t happiness, but absence of feeling. And it (seems to) show that he’s come to realize his role in all of this, ending strongly on Demon Seed. And it’s a comfortable one too, as it plays almost like a greatest hits album that you’ve never heard before.
Best songs: 2 (though the vocal echo is a tad annoying,) 3 (noisecore, but it grew on me,) 5, 7 (Ahhh Clara, forever with us, forever not.)

100 dBs‘s album “Aphex Twin Mashups
Freely at: http://www.100dbs.com/mixes/aphex/
DJ 100dBs (one hundred decibels,) mixes a work of techno-rap genius. Discontent that his every-day average hip-hop-head friends can’t appreciate finer techno works of Aphex Twin, he takes to task of mixing Richard James with lyrics that we all know well (assuming you’re into hiphop.) The result isn’t a molesting of Aphex, as some may imagine, but instead hip-hop that belongs on the soundtrack for The Fifth Element, or an equally hip futuristic film. Also, he has tons of other mixes for free here: http://www.100dbs.com/mixes/
Best songs: 2, 6, 8, 10

Harvey Danger‘s album Little by Little…
Freely at: http://www.harveydanger.com/downloads/
Before it was cool to do so, Harvey Danger knew that giving away their album for free would not ‘make them worthless,’ but in actually ‘get them more fans’. Seems kinda obvious now, huh? But after a few years of hiatus they were back at it in 2005 and in September they gave away Little by Little (even though a physical copy was on the shelf.) The result? According to the Wiki: “Within two months of release, the album had been downloaded 100,000 times, while the first pressing of physical copies (packaged with a disc of bonus material) had nearly sold out.”

And amazingly, if you’re the kind of person who actually read blogs, like this, I think you’ll agree that it’s really stood the test of time.
Best songs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

DJ Z-Trip & Radar‘s album Live at the Future Primitive Sound Session Vol. 2
Freely (DIRECTLY) at: http://djztrip.unknownvariable.com/audio/ztrip_fpv2.zip
From the first time I heard DJ Z-Trip I’ve been unable to pick my jaw up– No, wait, that’s not true. Not unable. UNWILLING. If history says nothing else about Z-Trip, it should be “He is the man with the golden ear.” Given any two sounds, I’ve no doubt he could figure out the way to optimally fit them together like an audial jigsaw puzzle that when completes shows a sonic picture of pure kickass. Now, this isn’t to slight Radar. DJ Radar is the turntablist who created sheet music for turntables. Yes, sheet music. He has since produced “Concerto for Turntable,” which he performed (along with an orchestra) at Carnegie Hall.

But this recording was done live, and as the liner notes say (something to the effect of (mine’s in a closet):) “Two men, five turn tables, and forty years of music.”

This is the album you want to own. Well, this and DJ Z-Trip and DJ P’s Uneasy Listening, which can also be found on DJ Z-Trip’s download page here: http://www.djztrip.com/downloads.html
Along with a remix of Mamma Said Knock You Out, Prince’s Kiss (with Murs,) Murs’ Beginning of the End Remix/Sampler, and tons more. Seriously. They’re good. They’re god damn good. They’re that good, and they’re free. And you should download them all.


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Tackling “The List,” and Dwarf Fortress

I intend to get a ‘to do’ list widget, but until then, I’ll post here that I’m firmly aiming to do a Nintendo DS game. In fact, I’ve already ordered the R4 card. But until that gets here, I intend to dedicate this weekend completely to Dwarf Fortress.

I love that insane game with all of my ACII-art lovin’ heart, but I’ll be damned if the tiny window it uses doesn’t make my eyes well screaming for relief from deciphering one tiny mark from the next. The creator has said in an interview in which he talks about ‘losing’ his own project, saying: “I’m leery about third party interfaces. If a third party interface becomes popular, I think I might lose control of the project. I don’t want to be in a position where I have to accommodate and work with other people.” That’s a pretty scary notion, and one worth worrying about.

But at the same time, when my eyes hurt trying to play the game, it’s pretty hard to say that everything’s okay. I mean, I’m not saying I want 3d, or even a tileset, I just want it larger, so that I can see the stuff, y’know? Ahhh well.

But DF has something special. That thing; that “special something.” It does exactly what I want to see games do, tackle data complexity over graphical complexity. I want to be able to chop a bed up into its components, and breed war dogs, and when enemies (be they goblins or attacking wildlife,) enter your fortress, close the gates and flood the entrance with water through a system of levers that leaves your foe lying dead on the soggy ground.

Like Crysis goes to graphical extremes, and Grand Theft Auto goes to physics-interactive world exploration extremes, Dwarf Fortress juggles data like no other game out there, and it’s a shame that no one’s decided to back this guy, and hire him an additional coder to work with him (or some type of help that he’d have, anyway.) I mean, I could only imagine if a few other programmers were put under him and he was still given creative control.

Gaming's future
Project X
That Thing...

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E3 Denial.

Sony and Microsoft can’t even admit how bad they got their ass kicked this gen. They’re in denial.

I feel the need to preface this post by saying: I only have a 360 from this generation of hardware (well, a DS too,) and I eventually aim to get a PS3 and a Wii, as both either have games I want, or soon will. But I think myself a fan of games, more so than consoles. That said…

Don Reisinger put a great reality check up on Cnet today which I’ll choose to not quote, but instead paraphrase in my own words:

“Hey Sony, Microsoft, quit your bitching. Just because Nintendo cleaned your clock doesn’t mean you have to cry in the corner and whine ‘they don’t count anyway!’ They do. Now cowboy up and fight back. You”re trying to turn Nintendo into the elephant in the room no one is talking about, but it doesn’t matter, because everyone’s still giving the elephant their money, and not you.”

… Okay, so he was more nuanced, but I think I captured the sentiment well. It seemed particularly spurred forth by a comment from Sony’s CEO Howard Stringer: “I’ve played a Nintendo Wii. I don’t see it as a competitor. It’s more of an expensive niche gaming device.”

That’s hilarious; calling a cheaper competitor that’s kicked your ass in sales “expensive” and “niche.” Don’t worry Howie, I’m sure Nintendo doesn’t view you as ‘competition’ either. I mean, for that to be the case you’d have to double your hardware sales for both your console AND your handheld. Of course, you’d still be behind in both counts.

Of course, Nintendo capitalizing on their success is another thing entirely. I think they waited far too long to start believing their own hype. I really hope they’ve got some good things up their sleeve.

Gaming's future
teh Funny

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