Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

Don't worry Alexander Pope, you couldn't have the cerebral cortex.
But that's harder to rhyme with.

I am THISCLOSE to being done with school, graduating and becoming a real person. Definitely feeling overwhelmed and overworked, but it's nothing I can't drown in a few cups of caffeine juice. More serious is the lingering anxiety about closing off an entire life-phase...eek!

In the end, I've decided that the best way to get through this inordinately stressful time is to just stop focusing on it. We all know it sucks. So let's pretend it doesn't. There are so many positive opportunities awaiting our release from the hedges of Rice U. Obviously, thinking happy thoughts won't make schoolwork go away...but it's helpful to remind yourself there's (quite a bit) more to life than these awe-inspiring todo lists. Like flying. Happy thoughts make you fly, right?

Last of all, beware: the ides of May will be upon us sooner than we think. Except, if we're lucky we'll just graduate and not get stabbed to death. (The power of optimism!)

Today's Playlist: Optimism! featuring ELO, The Icicles, Ben Kweller, M83 etc.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Sound of Surrealism

Isn't it fascinating how our brains have trained themselves to interpret reality? All we're doing is inputting vibrations from the environment. Somehow this assault of stimuli is translated into electrochemical signals and sorted into networks, popping out the other end as sound, color, and meaning. (It's magic! ...fucking magnets...)

After awhile we get pretty used to how things are supposed to sound, look and feel. I mean, we've built up a lifetime of experience to tell us what is or is not physically possible. And that is why surrealism rocks so hard. I like to think of it as the art of stomping on your expectations. Ironic, absurd, subconsciously extracted- call it what you will. Sometimes it means transcending reality by drawing inspiration from internal reservoirs (ex: dreams). Sometimes it means messing with the fundamental laws of nature (ex: melting clocks). Sometimes it means disturbing you on a fundamental level, forcing you to question what exactly it is that you've been experiencing all along.

So, here to wake you up from this perceptual operating system we call reality, I present Zeitguised, a 3D motion-design group, self-described as "the strange, obscure twin of contemporary zeitgeist imagineering." I found their videos browsing through Vimeo staffer's favorites (a very redeeming way to waste time, for sure).

This audio-visual candy comes from a six-act (but only three-minute) exhibit they aired for the opening of the Zirkel Gallery. It presents a hyperrealistic fusion of plants, human bodies, textures, sounds and architecture. Watch it fullscreen. With headphones. Relax let yourself travel to a reality controlled by sound waves and fueled with lysergic acid diethylamide. Delicious.

First up, the original Peripetics. And because I so love the way they describe themselves, this is an "installation of an irreversible axis on a dynamic timeline."

Don't worry, there's more : Peripetics Ex Machina features scenes, outtakes, and iterations of the exhibition that didn't make it into the final cut.

(and that is why I want to learn 3D modeling)

Other gems among their work include Room Zoo, commercials for the Toyota Aygo & Yaris TVC and Untitled Geometries: Booleay. They remind me a lot of ATTIK's work on the new Scion ad campaign, but that's a whole different can of worms (/blog post).

Honestly, I'm curious how watching these videos makes other people feel. After all, that's the best part about perception, maaaaaaan. Even when presented with the same stimuli, we all walk away with our own personal gut-feelings. Brilliant or nonsensical, you decide!

: : : : : Want MORE Zeitguised? Visit their portfolio, blog, or videos

And I've decided to make playlists again.Partly because it's fun to think of songs that are conceptually linked to posts and partly because I like documenting what I'm listening to. Unfortunately, seeqpod is dead and buried and took all of my previous playlists with it. So it goes. Cristina-from-the-future, this is for you.

Alan Parsons, Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve, Chemical Bros, Lemon Jelly, MM MMM GOOD.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some things to look forward to

We're out of Federal Holidays for the school year and I'm tired of counting down til Graduation. Time to set some new markers to cross off your calendar for the next few months.

EEEEEEEE! Listen to the singles: Bloodbuzz Ohio and The Runaway

Get ready for 8 tracks and 8 accompanying psychedelic short films. Listen to the single: Escape Velocity

NEW WOLF PARADE! (~July 2010)
Album name: Expo 86.

NEW DOES IT OFFEND YOU, YEAH?! (um, either March or Summer 2010)
NOT the album name, I just like the word: Interrobang.

NEW JUSTICE! (Projected: early 2010)

NEW INTERPOL! (Projected: early 2010)
Confirmed by an interview from Nov. 2009 and three million rumors spread by rabid fans.

: : : : : EDIT! FOUND SOME MORE! : : : : :

Play songs, preorder the album -> here. This is happening!

NEW OF MONTREAL! (September-ish?)
False Priest. (thanks for the tip, Dean)

NEW THE AVALANCHES! (October. Maybe.)
I certainly hope so...

Drink! Watch Short Films! Be Merry!

Okay so-

a) There's going to be a viewing of of some short films made by Rice students at the Media Center (the one by the Police Station) this Wednesday, April 14th.

2) I think we should go to Valhalla, drink a lot, and THEN go watch them.

iii) I won't ask you to vote for my video, but I will say this: the video voted the "audience favorite" at the screening wins a prize. So that's cool.

If you like beer and want to support Rice students making short films- JOIN US!

: : : : : The Official Rice-Sponsored and Tragically Beer-less Facebook Event

Oh Rauschenberg, You Elusive Beast

Visiting the Menil Collection always brings back good memories. Houston in the Summertime. Wandering the surrounding neighborhoods back when I didn't recognize the street names... Good times.


Which leads me to this post's

Bad News:
That big Rauschenberg from the back room has been replaced. (I know, I know, it's really embarrassing that I don't even know the name of my favorite. All I remember was that it was hard to remember and I to write it down somewhere after every visit. Yea, a lot of good that did). Honestly I'm a lot more torn up about this than I thought I would be, and I blame this on the fact that I CAN'T FIND IT ANYWHERE ONLINE. Seriously, anywhere. (It'd probably help a bit if I knew the name but that's not the point). I've been looking through artcyclopedia archives for about an hour, which in internet time is like fucking YEARS. Zipped through the first three stages of grief like nobody's business, getting hopelessly stuck on the fourth which I assume will stick around until I either FIND THE GODDAMNED PIECE or realize I've wasted an entire afternoon pining instead of writing up that Research Methods paper. I should go do that at some point.

Good news:
My desperate searching hasn't necessarily been in vain. Apparently by browsing through every. single. art. archive. ever. you turn up some pretty obscure works (whodathunk) So I present to you: Rauschenberg on Dante's Inferno.
Specifically, this one is Canto VIII: Walking around in the fifth circle of hell and Virgil getting denied entry into Lower Hell (a-thank you, Sparknotes). There's an entire gallery if 12th-century-literature-you-read-in-high-school-but-don't-remember-too-well is your thing.

Also, I found that there are a lot of places nearby-ish that have Rauschenberg pieces on permanent exhibition. Fieldtrip, friends?
Downtown Houston MFAH, R-berg count: 3
Obviously, Menil Collection, R-berg count: LESS THAN IT SHOULD BE.
The Modern in Fort Worth, R-berg count: 2

And last but not least, Save the Date!
Sunday, June 6, 2010, 3:00 p.m local artist Nathaniel Donnett will be speaking on Robert Rauschenberg in The Menil.

: : : : : More Menil Programs

I have the best friends in the universe! Charlotte found it!! The piece is called "Holiday Ruse (Nightshade)" and the only picture I can find of it is on this artblog. (Which does a great job of describing the museums and neighborhood in the area, by the way)

Now I just need it back.
plz k thx

Heligoland: Splitting the Album

First impression: Heligoland makes me want to take these Senneheisers into a sensory deprivation chamber and let phosphenes work their magic.

Second impression: Too entranced to move, so this computer-on-the-kitchen-table setup will have to do.

But seriously, if you haven't picked up Heligoland yet, you're missing out. Especially if you're into their brand of dark, calm, trip-hop (perfect for spring-cram-study-sessions if I may saysomyself). The album is seamless incorporation of various fun people and minor chords. If there was an English word seated directly between ominous and optimistic (semantically, not alphabetically) it would probably be the most appropriate. This is why I can't write nice things.

For whatever reason, we tend to be pretty harsh critics when Bands We Love release A New Album: sometimes you have to listen to music a few times before you can truly appreciate it. Yet Heligoland sucked me in on contact. The layers of sound are woven flawlessly, allowing you to deconstruct the levels of instrumentation or just let it hit you all at once. Back to first impressions, I was genuinely moved. Inspired, even. Closing my eyes, letting the audio flow over my consciousness, I swear I was one sensory deprivation chamber short of conjuring up an accompanying visual trip a la Interstella 555 (Hm note to self: get on that). Luckily for us chamberless folk, there have been five professional visual interpretations of songs from the album. All are absolutely phenomenal and I highly recommend this screening be your next break from productivity:

Splitting the Atom - directed by Edouard Salier Beyond being a miraculous work of CGI rendering, this pretty much exemplifies the "darkly sensual" tone of their sound in general and this album in particular. Cherry on top of the delicious video? You're hearing reggae-singer/songwriter Horace Andy (see: awesome voice from MA's Angel) and creepy keyboardings of Damon Albarn (aka Gorillaz...and 25% of Blur). Fantastique!

Paradise Circus - directed by Toby Dye (classy, but NSFW) This microdocumentary accentuates the song's underlying eroticism overlaying Georgina Spelvin's insight on the surreality of film, the narrative of sex, and the Devil Inside of us (allusion alert!) over vintage clips of her most famous work.

Flat of the Blade - directed by Ewen Spencer A day-in-the-life glimpse of black youth sifting through memories and experiences and music. Ambiguous, yet implicitly haunting.

Saturday Come Slow - Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin Exploring the physical effects of sound, resonance and vibration on the human body. Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Ruhal Ahmed reflects on his experiences, like high-volume music interrogations. Stunning, eerie visuals.

Splitting the Atom (Round Two) Except this time it's about Bullfighting. Proof that you can affix this music to essentially any image and leave the audience residually unsettled (and that's why we love them so!)

Last but not least: Atlas Air Live from Russia with love.
Apparently the song is named after an airline company that sold out to the US military after going bankrupt by transporting supplies to war zones. My only source is some dude on YouTube, so take it with a grain or two.
Then again, in all honesty I don't even care what the song is about. The music this band produces transcends meaning. I'll bother with the allusive (/elusive) meanings of lyrics after I can comprehend the pure audio so uh... this might be a while.

: : : : : Buy the digital download, check out their tour listings, or find similar music
: : : : : Official Website:

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Internette

Remember when Microsoft Word used to spell-check-correct the word "internet"? I don't just mean recommending the approved AP style guide version (The Internet), I mean a time when it would underline it with those cute red squigglies and suggest "net" or "intern." Those were the good ol' dial-up days.

(image via timanderic)