Saturday, October 22, 2005

Never Enough Halloween Music Department

Halloween is coming. For people like me, Halloween is the greatest holiday in the world, surpassing Christmas handily. It's a day when weirdness is encouraged, when the spooky is embraced. And I relish the weirdness and spookiness of the day--or, I should say, night.

I've been collecting a number of albums which I play when I need to hear a darker atmosphere to get me out of my ruts. Coincidentally, many of these CDs are great soundtracks for an eerie Halloween:

  • James Plotkin / Mick Harris -- Collapse

    I can sleep contently with almost all my CDs playing. Not with this one. Plotkin and Harris started as metal musicians but both have become much more interested in avant-garde sonic explorations. On this album, the two wunderkinds have teamed up to combine natural sounds with processed sounds to create one of the few albums capable of creeping me out. One track has what sounds like demonic snarling low in the mix, just enough to make you wonder what's lurking outside your room. It's out of print, but aside from the used CD bins, you can find it on the iTunes Music Store.

  • Melek-Tha -- De Magia Naturali Daemoniaca

    I personally find this one a bit on the corny side of things, if only because the evil portrayed in comic books, pulp novels, bad horror movies, and black metal bands (ahem) is so banal and yet over-the-top. Real evil exists, but is almost always swathed in the raiments of goodness. (Hitler, after all, thought he was saving his kind from the "evils" of lesser beings, even as he brought abomination upon abomination upon the world.) But, since we speak of Halloween, this CD of material sampled from horror movies will put the chill on the neighbor's bones. Note: You may not want to play this one if your neighbors are overly religious, and you will definitely want to skip Track 1 so the kiddies don't hear a single dirty word. Melek-Tha's site has mp3s which I haven't checked out yet--but will. Use at your own risk.

  • Dissecting Table -- Life

    Dissecting Table is among the better-known Japanese electronic noise projects (along with Merzbow--more below) and all their music is intense and overwhelming, although the character of each piece is different. The track "Pure" on this album has moments which resemble death metal, if performed by insane poltergeists within a silo. And that's the most accessible song on the CD! You can find mp3 samples of other Dissecting Table songs here.

  • LAW -- Our Life Through Your Death

    The more adventurous of electronic musicians tend to go in one of two directions--ambient dronescapes, or harsh noise. LAW does both to horryfing effect. Even when the power electronics are not hammering at you, you can hear the whispers and scratches of immanent threats creaking through your ears. I'd use this one sparingly for maximum effectiveness. You can get mp3s through Mile 329.

Never Enough FCC Outrage Department

I've seen it happen before: A radio station that serves the community gets taken over by a better-funded Christian group. It happened in Dallas back in 1988 when the Criswell Bible Institute claimed non-commercial station KNON was not serving the community by upgrading to its maximum allowed wattage for that frequency. (Search for "90.9" on the above linked page to read the story in more detail.)

But apparently the Christians can take away your radio station if you do upgrade your wattage, as WAVM, a small high school station in Maynard, MA, has found out the painful way.

If you want to help, you can get more info from the station's web site.

And it is worthwhile to help. In KNON's case, the Criswell Bible Institute was forced to give up its old, but lesser-powered frequency and swap it directly with KNON, which then held a pledge drive to upgrade its wattage to the maximum allowed. KNON is alive and well today, and you can even listen to it over the Internet.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Never Enough Blogtagging Mania Department

I just read an article on LifeHacker concerning the Tagyu service, which generates tags (for use on sites like and Flickr, for example) based on text or URLs that you give it. Let's put it to the test....

What does it say for my blog's public address?

mac coca cola hellenic cchbc company cokewww bottler bottling

HMM. The "Mac" tag is understandable, but what the hell is up with the Coca Cola references?!?

Let's try the actual server address for my blog:

blogs art map

At least it got something right, I guess.

What about my main site, neglected after all this time?

humour comics art horror dark

Not exactly right, but closer, although there's not really much horror on my site.

What about Friday Jones, a fellow SubGenius whose site does have horror stories on it?


...That's an outrage. Finally: What about

tips golf science diy

All of a sudden, Tagyu looks a little dubious. But wait...! Then I read this blurb about Tagyu accuracy when given URLs. AHA. So, using text instead should give more accurate results? Let's see....

Let me feed it some text from this page on my site and see what we get:


OK, that's just wrong. In every sense.

What about this page? I quoted nearly the entire page, so it should give better results, right?


Let's try one more web page:

bible christian

The tags are somewhat right this time, but still miss the point. The lesson? If you insist on using tags, you should take the time to figure out what the tags should be, based on the kind of audience you're looking for as well as the subject material. Tagyu may develop to become an outstanding tool for coming up with tags, but depend on it only if you like inadvertant humor.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Never Enough Synthetic Concerts Department

Music Thing reported on Zenph Studios back in May, with the amazing story that Zenph had discovered an accurate method of polyphonic transcription--meaning, in simple terms, they can now digitally analyze a piece of music and create a perfect copy of the performance (timing, chording, playing style, etc.) as a high-resolution MIDI file which can then be fed into any MIDI-capable device. Imagine classic performances which only exist on rare and degraded recordings, brought back to amazing life with the help of technology.

And if you live in New York City, you can hear it live in a week. I almost wish I lived there, if only so I could hear for myself.