Classic Music Review :: Vex Red — Start With a Strong Persistent Desire

The biggest plus of working at the music store I did was finding albums that were never anything, but that really should have been. Whether it was because of poor marketing, a small label folding, the band breaking up, or all of the above.

Vex Red is a band that I found purely by accident. I always looked into the bands that we no longer carried to find something that tickles my fancy, and this one day; I hit the motherload.

They remind me of a mix between Stabbing Westward and Flaw (another band that I have to highlight one day). They would have joined right in with the early ’90s pseudo-goth scene. In fact, saying that they would have worked on the Blade soundtrack would not be too far fetched a statement.

They combine electronica with metal beautifully. Pre-programed drums mixed with synthesizers and a love for the low end. This is complimented by the singer, whose voice sounds strained on purpose to convey the bleakest of emotions.

Lyrical content is a bit more mature, even if they rarely swear on this album (with exception with the track “Can’t Smile” where it feels mandatory for the narrative.). It is the kind of pointing fingers and blaming everyone else for your misfortune, but it never sounds pathetic or unnecessarily angsty. Instead, it comes off as a plea from someone who has been tortured for a majority of their formative years.

SPEAKING OF THE SONG CAN’T SMILE!
I did not know until I got to this point of the review that there was a music video produced for the song. It is NOT GREAT. Unfortunately, that song is one of the better examples of the album. So ignore the poor censorship and awkward vacant gaze. and just enjoy the everything else.

The Future of ANEWSIN

As I think I have hinted, if not fully admitted, there will not be an anewsin for a while. I am busy working on my next book, and I am trying to flush out new ideas instead of getting fixated on new short stories. Therefore, if you do support me on Patreon for new updates early, I would not be offended if you pull your subscription for the time being.

WITH ALL OF THAT SAID!

If you do decide to support me, even just one dollar a month, you will get your name in the thank you section of my upcoming release!

I scrapped a bunch, about ten pages, but I am still trucking along. It looks like the book will be a series of shorts again. As of right now, I have no plan to do a through-narrative like I did with You’re Not Dead. I mean, that is just how it is going right now. I might, and probably will, change my mind in the future.

I have only about two hours of work present in the project right now. That equates to seven pages, or just over 3000 words. I am trying my hardest not to put a goal because I feel like it stifles what I can create. I might try to reach goals closer to finishing if I have, for instance, 99 pages or something like that.

I just made this post to update you all on what I am doing right now.
REMEMBER: donating just a dollar a month to Patreon gets your name published!
Oh: and remember that I love you.

Do you own that?

I found myself pondering the idea of ownership in todays economic climate. A climate peppered with electronic downloads of basically any media.

I, myself, am a huge fan of digital: to a point. I have 30-plus days of music in my iTunes library, and my wife and I use Netflix on a near-nightly basis. It is a great way to cut down on clutter, while still consuming all of the media that one wishes.

It comes with a massive downside, however. We own very little media physically. This means that we are at the whim of what a corporation wants us to consume that month. One can argue that I *own* the music files, but that are on an unsecure hard drive. If someone knew how to do it, they could delete large swaths of my music and I probably would never notice.

Counterpoint, if I just owned all of the CDs that I have digital copies of, someone could do the same. The only real counter I can come up with is that I have access to a physical thing. In theory, I actually own a tangeble object as opposed to an etherial representation of one. That is my only real arguement for owning as much vinyl as I do.

It really comes down to the question: are you going to maintain a collection? I take good care of what I have access to physically. I stopped buying video games a couple of years ago, simply because I am more likely to get frustrated with maintaining a collection. I realize that I have shot myself in the metaphoricle foot because I am stuck with the product regardless of opinion, but that is a risk I am willing to take.

If you like physical copies of media: I support you 100%.
If you like digital, I support you 100%.
If you struggle to see the point of why I wrote this: same 100%

ask for help

It sounds stupid, but asking for help is fantastic. I have been stuck with an ill-fitting chair and next-to no money for years, and one phone call to the local LHIN fixed everything. Either they are working with me hands on to make sure a goal or three can be met, or they have talked to me on the phone to try to give me some direction.

Now I have a new chair on order, which is fantastic and much needed. I have a Physiotherapist coming (as I write this) to give me exercises in order for me to hit milestones in regards to walking and being in good health.

The most interesting, and helpful, has been the Social Worker. I have never met her, and I probably never will, but she is helping me in ways that I was unaware there were answers to questions that I had.

For example, she has gotten me in touch with the correct branch of ODSP, which sounds minor but I was stuck. She is looking over her papers to try to get me into some sort of group as an advocate, which is my goal. She has been helping me look into government housing.
ALL WITHOUT MEETING HER.
She doesn’t know me from Adam, and she is willing to put in all of this work: I cannot fathom just how fantastic she must be in person.

In conversations with this woman, I was informed that there is no support group for people in wheelchairs without having some degenerative disease or truly tragic (but “common”) issue. I posed to my FaceBook an idea of people in wheelchairs meeting up once a month, and immediately it was taken as I was lonely and needed to talk to someone. It was dismissed straight out.

I do take on fault: I worded the idea poorly. I should have made it more clear that I was shocked at the lack of community surrounding people in wheelchairs. I was not stating that I wanted friends (though, who doesn’t, right?!).

It was just an idea. I don’t want to be co-ordinator, or even have magnanimus control of a group like that. I just want to put into motion the idea. Maybe I’m selfish, but I don’t like the idea of something like that not even pretending to exist. I want the option to not show up to something like that.

New Book

As some people have heard, I am working on a new book! I started only recently, so timeline is a bit ragged at the moment. I have an idea of where I want to go, as well as at least two characters flushed out.

SURPRISE! It will not be a happy read. For the people who have read, what I dubbed a, WIP: I have scrapped about half of it in favour of continuing this new direction that I pieced together in my head.

The one of two things I am keeping from my initial 20-or-so pages is the theme of survivors guilt. I have a character that is dealing with the death of her children by blaming herself for their death on a legal level. I am not spoiling much, as even I don’t quite know where her story will end up.

My goal is to have the book be about 200 pages long. I am not going to put more restraints on myself, for fear of not measuring up to my own goals.

Do you want to be in the Thank You list? Check out my Patreon. Anyone who donates even $1 a month will get their name immortalized at the end of the book!

Check out my already released book here! If you do not feel like giving monthly, buying a copy of You’re Not Dead helps out a tonne.

Your Caring is Showing

I have been keeping quiet with all of the political turmoil going on. Not because I disagree with it, or am worried that someone will not like my point of view, but because I am woefully uninformed and do not wish to spread false information. Some of my friend would say that saying nothing is as bad as being on the wrong side, but I disagree.

To spread propaganda or hate based on ignorance is unacceptable. I have been making efforts to learn as much as I can over the last few weeks simply so I don’t spread false claims and sweeping allegations. Unfortunately, there have been so many reports of events as of late, the knowledge I gain is outdated before I finish learning it.

It got me thinking about sympathy v. empathy. Sympathy is feeling a way about someones situation. Emphathy is more understanding the feelings. So, in the case of the #blacklivesmatter movement, I sympathise greatly. As a disabled adult, I kind of empathise, but I will not pretend that is entirely true. To truly empathise, I would need to go through all the things that are being protested about for a similar, if not the same, length of time.

I have not been able to make it to a rally, though I would love to. I hate that I have seen this bubbling for the last two decades, but the police (especially in some cities in America) have clearly been over-funded. That is a selfish Canadian boy looking through his computer screen making that observation. We are talking about a country that monetized and glorified it’s police tactics by making a reality TV show based on exploits taken.

Personal confounded moment: why are there still so many racists? On that topic, if you’re going to say or do something racist, why not own it? We all see, we all hear, we all feel. There is a difference between accidental racism (saying something out of honest ignorance while having the best of intentions) and just being completely in the wrong. Have you learned NOTHING from WWII?

I get why they say there is no point in fighting irrational hate. I have sat with my keyboard in my lap trying to come up with a second paragraph on my previous point. I have thought about the scientific discoveries and debunking of the past 50 years, I have started mapping out charts and graphs showing how ‘X’ does NOT equal ‘Y’ in this instance. I gave up when I realized that this information is VERY available and far from news. It literally takes IGNORING facts to carry down that road.

Know what? I find it sad that it took the destruction of the world to realize just how wrong we have been about everything for everything to be considered being fixed.

 

Music Review :: Amitié / Karloff

As I mentioned recently, I have been asked by .no funeral records. to look at a few of their releases. To start the collection of notes, I have chosen to focus on a split by Amitié and Karloff.

Full discretion: I am friends with two members of Karloff. I feel like pointing that out is important, though I promise you that it has not tainted my opinions at all.

Music is music. To say “you love it or you don’t” feels antiquated. I rather go with the idea of someone either understands and relates to what you are trying to say, or they don’t. In the case of these two bands (they each do a song on this EP), they define that idea. This sound is incredibly off-putting if you are not quite sure where to place your attention.

I know, I fucking know, that grindcore (and all its many facets) are not everyones bag. When it comes to the -core’s, even I become quite discerning. I tend to lean heavier on the mathcore side of things, because I’m an arrogant fuck. This does NOT mean that I cannot appreciate incredible skills when I hear them.

Amitié starts off the two track journey with a slow, low toned dream scape. That dreamscape, however, turns into a nightmare quickly. The track is only 1:18 long, and transforms into a high-end massacre of all that you expect. The drums use a much higher ratio of cymbal/snare, where as the intro was almost exclusively toms.

Karloff opens their track with a simple hold of anticipation before the hammer falls. They take a more jazz chord structure, and delve further into a feeling of anguish before just leaving the song where it began. At 1:03, this song packs in everything you could want from metal track minus the annoying 80’s guitar solo.

I would say Karloff reminds me mildly of Buried Inside (in regards to crushing oppressive tones mixed with blistering fast metre), where as Amité elicits feelings closer to Fuck the Facts. Amité has a more polished sound, but the Karloff doesn’t sound out of place: just the mids seem a bit wonky.

Overall, if you like heavy music, I very much recommend this split. It is everything one needs in less than 4 minutes.

Arbeitary number rank: 30912385 out of a possible 2.865

Bandcamp || Cassette

#BLACKLIVESMATTER

I realize my own ignorance. Instead of propagating the wrong message, I will simply say that I support the movements that are happening world-wide.

I will not be doing my usual uploads for the time being. I will update you when they come about.

Please, leave comments with reading material and support systems below.

I know I will appreciate them, but I am sure someone else will as well.

Why I write about music.

I am very certain I have written about this topic before, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to search through hundreds of self-indulgent words mixed in with only a small amount of importance.

First and foremost; I think music is THE most important thing in life. I realize that you cannot consume it for nutrients, therefore it can be argued that food is the most important. This is MY blog and I will make my sweeping statements that cannot be backed up in anyway!

AHEM: I make that claim trying to keep my past out of the equation. It’s not a secret that I spent more than a decade working very closely with the music industry. Hell, I worked at a record store for seven years. I was playing on albums and playing shows since 2005. I produced a few albums and EP’s. I have almost 40 days worth of music sitting on my hard drive. I ran a record label. I review albums because it’s fun and I think I don’t suck at it…

So, why put music above everything?

It’s the one medium that collaborates every aspect of the arts while being recognized by every single culture.

What about the deaf?
They can feel beats and rhythm, and can even tap out an approximate flow if they can focus on the direction of the metre. As far as writing guitar or piano, if they know their music theory, they can easily do that. Not to mention that, if they went deaf later in life, they can probably remember things that sound good together.

Now, to elaborate on my claim about combining every art. To combine poetry and music seems like a simple task, but after watching others do it for years, I now can confirm that it is not as easy as one might think initially. You need to keep flow and metre in mind, as well as emotional weight and emphasis. That’s two of the arts down.

Let’s keep going.

Album art takes care of the visual arts, on the surface and immediate level, anyway. Again, I ran (a very bad and unprofessional) record label for years. Visual representation does generate sales, as shallow as that sounds.. If the album cover is appealing, people are more likely to pick it up. I am under the impression that is why vinyl came back in a large way: the larger cover plus the appeal of having something tangible.

(That’s what drew me in, anyway.)

Let us not forget music and lyric videos. Though music videos have kind of shrank in importance, the few that come out can greatly add OR detract from the appeal of the music. Lyric videos are huge.

Stage performance is a kind of acting. Even the “roots” acts one may see have cultivated that image, whether it be intentional or not. I have played with many acts who (consciously or subconsciously) do a full change when they go on stage. As a musician, you learn to play off the crowd expectation. That could be reactions to a previous move you make, or observations on how the other acts that evening maintain the attention of the masses.

So, after explaining all of this: let’s get back to the initial question of why I write about music so often!

  1. I love everything about music. The concept, the sound, the feel… Every part of music makes everything in my life have context, and it’s very hard for me to go a day without thinking critically about it in some way.
  2. I think that it is important. Whether it is in regards to mental or physical healing, the effects that it has on a being cannot be ignored. I cannot be bothered to source all the facts I know, so I’ll just bring up the emotional well-being it brings myself. I know that music makes me happier, and therefore I try to do things in life. Without music, I would have little context for waking up in the morning.
  3. I’m good at it. Well, I think I’m good at it. I at least find it fun to do, and if you don’t like it, stop reading my blog.

With all of this said, if there is a topic that you would like me to explore in further depth, please get hold of me somehow. I have been contacted by .no funeral. records to examine a few of their releases, and I am excited to roll those out over the next bit.

The Trolly Problem is Broken

I love “The Trolly Problem” and have for a very long time. I will stick with the version I know best, but Saania proposed a fantastic version involving a mad man and some theatrics that is very much worth your time.

The concept is simple: you are the conductor of a trolly. Driving your route, you notice that the breaks are out. Ahead, there are three people working on the tracks. Their equipment makes them completely unaware of your impending vehicle, and, the way they are situated, you will surly kill them all.

You then notice that there is a fork in the track that you are able to activate and take advantage of. Unfortunately, there is a solitary person sitting, enjoying the view away from you, clearly unaware of the impending doom. Of course, if you switch the track, he will surely be killed by the metric tonne of steel you drive.

The question that is supposed to sit at the end of this situation is “What do you do?”

Do you kill three to save one? Or do you go the path of sacrifice one for the many?

I have noticed that in every version I have seen of this conundrum, you are always given a situation that is out of your control. It has been my experience that people will rationalize and find ways to avoid blame.

It’s the mechanics fault. He should have checked the breaks better.
It’s the cities fault. They shouldn’t have workers on an active track without notifying the right people.
The solitary man should know better than to be near the tracks at that time.

This brings you to now, where I am trying to solve this issue with a situation that can not be thwarted.

The exercise is supposed to be about where the value in a human life sits. Is it actually better to kill three? Or is it better to destroy one life?

I really enjoy how The Good Place illustrated it.

The episode kept swapping out the solitary man or the workers for people the protagonist knew. One time, it was his mother or three important people from history. One time it was a mother with a stroller vs. a collection of nuns. It quickly became greater than one life vs. many and became more a question of morality.

Does one appearance matter more than another?

Again, my frustration with the question is that it is in a bubble. There is no credence placed on the guilt that forms after the event. No ramifications of resulting law suits or familial issues arise.

To be fair; the problem was devised to see what people would do in one situation and there was never supposed to be emphasis placed on any long term issues that arise. MIT released a version looking more in depth, but it still avoided “the next day” in every version that it brought up.

None of the issues detract from how much “fun” the thought experiment is, though!