Transform

Monday, 30 June 2003

Powerman 5000’s lat­est LP, Transform, marks a tran­si­tion for the band from goth­ic space-rock to a niche be­tween n?-metal and stan­dard hard­core. Its not as good as it used to be, but at least it ain’t Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit.

If it is any­thing, Transform is one of the strangest calls to arms I’ve ever come across. It is a much blunter ex­pli­ca­tion of PM5K’s an­ti-es­tab­lish­ment oeu­vre than they usu­al­ly spit out.

Tonight the Stars Revolt! was a metal­lic bar­rage with a dis­tinc­tive Ziggy Stardust space­man feel. Transform, is lit­er­al­ly more down to earth. Spider One, is de­cide­ly in just about everyone’s face: the gov­ern­ment, cor­po­rate bu­reau­cra­cy, and es­pe­cial­ly sil­i­con breast­ed, boy­band mar­i­onettes who pass them­selves off as artists in­stead of en­ter­tain­ers. At the same time he wants “hands up to mis­fits, the ones that don’t fit.” Granted, not the most elo­quent of verse, but the point is clear enough.

The mis­fit mus­ter­ing songs don’t re­al­ly do much for me lyri­cal­ly, and on the whole, while the blunt­ness is ap­pre­ci­at­ed, and the drool­ing in­vec­tive in songs like “That’s Entertainment” makes me grin and sing along with in­fer­nal de­light, the mu­sic is what makes the al­bum.

Nothing in par­tic­u­lar is out­stand­ing­ly orig­i­nal here ei­ther. The first eight true songs all rock, but the al­bum kin­da ends flat­foot­ed. None of the songs are over­ly long, most are pret­ty catchy, and good to rock out to, but with­out the ‘space-vibe’ it miss­es some­thing. This will def­i­nite­ly be an al­bum I take with me on long car trips. It re­al­ly isn’t some­thing I just want to sit back and lis­ten to, it does not de­mand that much at­ten­tion.

This is a good tran­si­tion al­bum for PM5K. They ef­fec­tive­ly changed their sound, but avoid­ed be­com­ing a n?-metal clich? by ap­peal­ing to ac­tion from their angst-filled de­mo­graph­ic in­stead of com­mis­er­at­ing with pul­ing whine-songs. Hopefully their next al­bum will com­plete the trans­for­ma­tion. Knowing Spider One’s metic­u­lous and de­mand­ing ethic to be a dif­fer­ent kind of rock force, this is like­ly to be the case.

Recommended songs: That’s Entertainment, A is for Apathy, Sterotype.
Rated: 6.5÷10.

Know Nothings

Sunday, 29 June 2003

Bear with me here, please.

After brief con­scious mas­ti­ca­tion, fol­lowed by a long boil in the sub­scon­scious, and an­oth­er bout of con­scious bang­ing my head again­st this thread [and ac­com­pa­ny­ing ar­ti­cle], the­se are what I think about some stuff.

We al­ways know noth­ing. [Yes, that con­tra­dicts it­self, as do most of my navel-gaz­ings].

Here we go.

What start­ed me off was this state­ment by one Ryvar:

It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to re­al­ize that all of the ex­pe­ri­en­tial process­es you have with­in the course of a day or year can be ex­plained while ac­cept­ing that there is no mys­ti­cal com­po­nent to con­scious­ness.

Now, I dis­agree with this quite a lot, but I’ve no­ticed when dis­agree­ments arise it is usu­al­ly the re­sult of a fal­la­cy in a high­er or­der of thought on the part of all par­ties, so af­ter I gnawed on this for a bit, de­cid­ed what was wrong with his ar­gu­ment, I then ap­plied it to my own.

We are both ar­gu­ing be­lief sys­tems, he has his de­ter­min­ist ap­proach and I’ve got mine. His is fact based, mine is more of an amal­gam of faith and fact. I am not go­ing to ex­plain my be­lief sys­tem, as it would be tan­gen­tial to what I want to dis­cuss.

Both of us are com­plete­ly wrong, forever.

What is a fact? Something that can be proven, no? Twice two is four, as the Underground man would say. Humans eat, sleep, and ex­crete. An acorn grows in­to an oak tree. Behavior is de­ter­mined by the stim­u­lus of en­vi­ron­ment up­on mol­e­c­u­lar sys­tems [If it is cold out, we shiv­er.]

There is no such thing as fact, with this de­f­i­n­i­tion.

Facts are still things that are be­lieved in. I have sort of touched up­on this kind of thing here but now it ap­pears to be reach­ing a type of ma­tu­ri­ty. A fact is sup­pos­ed­ly some­thing that is known to be true, and true faith knows in this way as well. What, er­go, sep­a­rates the two?

Everything we know we have been taught in one way or an­oth­er. Yet it seems that we have been taught to be­lieve in knowl­edge. Belief in Fact is just like Belief in God, we can prove it to our­selves, we can prove it to oth­ers, oth­ers can prove it to us. Yet, it is still false.

The prob­lem, yes as usu­al, lies with the old Delphic fi­at, Know Thyself, an im­pos­si­bil­i­ty. Since no one has at­tained this goal, any oth­er knowl­edge they come across, dis­cov­er, pro­pound, or have prop­a­gat­ed up­on them­selves is flawed. This is be­cause the per­son who orig­i­nal­ly thought it up was flawed in them­selves, an Original Sin of cog­i­ta­tion, all hu­man ef­forts be­come ut­ter­ly fu­tile. This is sort of how bib­li­cal schol­ars jus­ti­fy var­i­ous in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the bible, it was hand­ed down from a per­fect source, but tak­en by a flawed be­ing, and is there­fore im­per­fect in its in­ter­pre­ta­tions.

So we can­not ever know any­thing be­cause every­thing goes back to­ward the ba­sic flaw in hu­man un­der­stand­ing. We on­ly be­lieve, have faith, that we know things. Unless we are per­fect be­ings, we have mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stances to un­der­mine any­thing we think we be­lieve we know.

I’m sure this is old hat to plen­ty of philoso­phers and the­olo­gians out there. It seems a bit rem­i­nis­cent of the whole ‘Do we ex­ist’ ar­gu­ment. We think we ex­ist, we be­lieve it, but we can nev­er quite know it. If we can­not even feel se­cure about one of the old­est and most ba­sic verbs, the one fun­da­men­tal for any cod­i­fied knowl­edge, we can­not tru­ly know any­thing.

I think I might eat break­fast now. [At least, that is what I think I be­lieve I know I am do­ing.]

Want Ad

Saturday, 28 June 2003

I want a job. However, get­ting a job is pret­ty hard. Especially when sub­mit­ted ap­pli­ca­tions to open po­si­tions get no re­spon­se, and fol­low-up emails go equal­ly unan­swered. No one wants some­one fresh, it seems that all jobs de­mand 2 – 5 years pri­or ex­pe­ri­ence, at en­try lev­el pay.

It must be quite the com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, when a cum laude grad­u­ate of the University of Notre Dame, a National Champion ath­lete, and an all around good, ca­pa­ble, re­spon­si­ble, and hard-work­ing guy can­not even get his foot in the door.

Anybody hir­ing?

Thursday, 26 June 2003

Deloused in the Comatorium [DITC], the new se­man­tic ex­pe­ri­ence from The Mars Volta. Read my pompous re­view, but first go buy the al­bum.

When At the Drive In split a while back, my friend Kyle was pret­ty miffed, they were one of his fa­vorite bands. From the splin­ters of this band emerged two new mu­si­cal di­rec­tions: Sparta and The Mars Volta. Unfortunately Sparta seemed to get their act to­geth­er a bit too fast, and in­stead of a new mu­si­cal di­rec­tion, the band’s sound foundered in the seas of medi­oc­rity [at least for me it did]. Their brand of rock­in’ was a bit too, um, un­o­rig­i­nal and cooki-cut­ter for my tastes. In fact, I couldn’t tell you what one of their songs sound­ed like right now, de­spite hav­ing seen them in con­cert, and lis­tened to their al­bum, and I must not for­get pal Kyle.

The Mars Volta, took con­sid­er­ably longer to pro­duce a full al­bum. Wisely so, if this de­lay has in­creased the qual­i­ty of DITC. Granted, they re­leased the Tremulant EP awhile back, but its three songs, seem to me more of a test bed for their sound, be­fore the full blown ex­pe­ri­ence emerges [and getes paid for].

Tremulant pre­pared lis­ten­ers for the in­ven­tive se­man­tic mum­bo-jum­bo and ex­per­i­men­tal punk [re­dun­dant or just that mar­gin­al?] sound that The Mars Volta had de­fined as their own. Their lyrics are shall I say, in­choate. An ad­mix­ture of var­i­ous lan­guages [eng­lish then span­ish are the heav­i­est thank­ful­ly] and spack­led to­geth­er phonemes and mor­phemes, lis­ten­ers pret­ty much have to re­ly on the singing to get a han­dle for what the songs are about. The lyrics for Eunuch Provocateur off of Tremulant can be found here. [As you will note, one of the lines from this song be­came the ti­tle of the LP].

Stupidly, the lyrics for DITC are go­ing to be avail­able for mailorder pur­chase some­time next mon­th, mak­ing them that much hard­er to ac­cess. You re­al­ly have to want to know what the fuck he is say­ing if you are will­ing to pay for it. Personally, I will wait till some­one does buy them and then sticks them on the ‘net.

The vo­cal pirouttes of Cedric Zavala are what make this al­bum for me. His tenor is crisp and clear and loud, but thank­ful­ly not pierc­ing. Its like wind off of a moun­tain, or if you live in the city, what your clothes smell like af­ter you toss in about eight dry­er sheets with them.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez can wring some mighty wild sounds out of his axe let me tell you.

DITC be­gins with a steadi­ly grow­ing sound of syn­the­siz­er and dis­tor­tion, and then Cedric comes in with his elec­tron­i­cized voice, and you know some­thing huge is about to hap­pen, then you are teased with some false starts be­fore C re­al­ly lets it rip in­to the first true song ‘in­er­ti­at­ic esp.’ This seems pret­ty straight­for­ward The Mars Volta, the mu­sic is seg­ment­ed in­to sev­er­al mod­es, usu­al­ly with quick but full stops be­fore launch­ing in­to the next sec­tion. Beware though, The Mars Volta can switch gears seam­less­ly if they want to, and some­times they want to.

‘roulet­te dares (the haunt of)’ presents a slight­ly more melod­i­cal­ly vari­ant, though smoother, ex­pli­ca­tion of what­ev­er the hell C is singing, it ris­es and val­leys, then peaks and then falls again, some­times precipices lurk right in the mid­dle of things, but the song is quite mel­low and quite cathar­tic at the same time.

‘drunk­ship of lanterns’ bor­rows its end from their Tremulant fin­ish­er ‘Eunuch Provocateur,’ and ‘ci­c­itriz esp’ is al­most just like Tremulant’s ‘Cut That City’ ex­cept quite a bit longer. I don’t feel that they are just re­cy­cling this be­cause they can­not hack it. To me it seems that Tremulant tru­ly was a test­ing bed, and they took what worked from that EP and beefed it up for this al­bum.

This was re­al­ly hard to write, be­cause DITC is so queer. Somehow The Mars Volta has made it pos­si­ble for two ob­jects to ex­ist in the same space at the same time, con­trary to the lit­tle mu­si­cal physics I am ac­quaint­ed with. Songs can be mel­low but un­re­pen­tant­ly cathar­tic from one sec­ond to the next. It works. 810. Thanks to Phil for the rec­om­men­da­tion.

Adam The Saurus

The fol­low­ing words [and their var­i­ous man­i­fes­ta­tions] should be used more of­ten.

flum­mox
cat­ty­wam­pus
flab­ber­gast
hoos­gow
dread­naught
oaf
poxy
sim­u­lacrum
sepuchral
win­some
malef­i­cent
malfea­sance
mal­lard
gan­der
dis­com­bob­u­late
rhetaphori­thet­i­cal­ly [yeah i made that one up. you could al­so try hy­po­to­riphor­i­cal­ly or meta­theta­tor­i­cal­ly.]

Rut

Monday, 23 June 2003

I’ve been strug­gling with po­et­ry late­ly. I feel that mine is too cere­bral, I feel I make peo­ple work too hard. When I try to open the ac­cess, I lose some­thing along the way, and I’m not quite too sure what it is. All that I seem left with is ‘wry.’ Twists and turns of phrase, word play, gives a feel­ing of wry­ness, but naught else.

In short, I feel stuck in a rut, and with­out in­spi­ra­tion, or di­rec­tion. I am find­ing it hard to go any­where new, be­cause I am fo­cused on where I’ve been. The an­thro­pol­o­gist in me [the per­son who is in­ter­est­ed in things peo­ple are in­ter­est­ed in] does not know where to go next.

Here is where you come in.

I think if I get feed­back from peo­ple, or rules to fol­low, what not to do, what new to try, et cetera, I might get my head around this writer’s ap­a­thy. In short, I’m ask­ing for ad­vice, and as­sign­ments.

I don’t pre­tend to­ward any type of writ­ing tal­ent, but I know I can do bet­ter than what I do cur­rent­ly. My best is all I ask of me. But, I’m not sure I can do my best with­out y’all.

Boxcar Rockstar

Sunday, 22 June 2003

The old man has no teeth
two shoes but no laces,
an in­com­plete look in his eyes.

He plays a gui­tar
with on­ly five strings.

I imag­ine him tour­ing,
coal pile to steel mill.

During the long nights he watch­es
for the glow of an­oth­er town
and rubs the spray-paint­ed
door of his box­car.

Before sleep he pats his gui­tar
and thinks about a pair of socks.