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. 8/10. 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.