Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turn the page.

Hello all,
This time I've managed to start this article well before New Year's Day (about 4 hours to go, that is) but I don't think I'd make it :)

This is funny, because the New Year's eve has never been so hectic and tiring so far. I've probably finished more today than yesterday, though my waking hours are comparatively less(until now)...OK. Not the point.

2011 has been among the biggest turnaround years in my conscious life so far. Last new year was the first one outside home for me. Although I might have sounded largely apathetic to my surroundings and focusing more on the end of year charts and all that in my blog last year, in reality, I was dejected, alone and maybe(definitely) depressed. That describes most of the internet addicted teens today, but in my case it was an entirely different set of reasons.

Having come back from home after Christmas, fresh with homesickness, and idle, I was at the peak of frustration and back to the days of hating my college life. I'd rather call those days worse than two years of so-called turmoil during high school, or first few months at college. It was partially based on the delusion, which I still am not sure how it occurred to me, of having a way out college very soon. It was backed by a series of events that only added Hydrogen to my hatred. In hindsight, it was more of a negative cycle where everything wrong around me backed everything else and only made me assume that things were miserable. Sure, they weren't good. But those days were a perfect example of how life is all about the way you react to things.
I don't really want to get into the Covey-ist point of view of it, but that's what it is. All it took was a change of perception. Summer was quiet. A nice break when i worked mainly on getting better with my guitar playing, learning basics of piano and reading up some physics. I also managed to watch a movie or two I suppose, and met up with old friends. Otherwise, I spent a lot of time alone in my room writing and painting abstract stuff. I also tried collaborating with friends, and recorded covers. It was short term though.

The latter part of 2011 was way different. My family had moved across the globe. Second year at college had a kick ass start. Back with old(new) friends, back to the life of night-outs, last minute assignments and such. It was lively, and probably the best semester (just 3 down, in fact :P) at college so far. I had gotten into the Media and Publicity team of our college tech fest Daksh. I became an active member of physics forum Celeritas. I'd watched more movies and listened to more music than the previous year. 2011 was not a year of Anime or Games. I've learnt substantially a lot in my subjects of interest. I've met people who inspired me, contributed to clarity in life. I'm a lot better with my guitar now. I've made more bits and pieces of music than ever.
That brings us to today. It's when you look back at such times, you realize the subtle difference between 'unforgettable' and 'memorable.' I had experiences of both categories and cherish many of them. :)

Talking of 2011, it's been most eventful in other aspects as well. Osama was killed. Prince got married. India won the cricket world cup. CERN has stumbled upon discoveries supporting the Higgs Boson(or the God Particle) theory. I'm proud I witnessed these :D

My frequency of blogging has reduced this year. I take it as a good sign; it only means I'm having a good life that makes me independent of the societies in the cyberworld. That said, I couldn't help have trollfaces rising in my reverie often. :P

Like I've been doing for years now, here comes the End Of Year Chart section :)

I'd start with movies. I've watched more Hindi movies this year than before. It's great to see great films coming up from the Indian film industry everyday. Each picking up a new direction, telling new stories, bringing new emotions...the best being:

5.7Khoon Maaf
4.Dhobi Ghat 
3.Delhi Belly:

I would indeed call it a revolution in Indian Cinema. This is a movie that will be referenced to for years. With a nonsensical story backed by an eclectic plethora of local Delhi expletives, this movie gives an entire new look to humour in movies. Sure, toilet humour has been a thing in the west for years, but it's not everyday bold movies such as this one release. Also, the cheesy 70s references and absurd but epic sequences such as fireworks exploding out of a sitar are something that shall keep one laughing.

2.Zindagi na Milegi Dobara:

A very casual take on lives of three people, not very different from the production house's earlier venture Dil Chahta Hai in some ways. The story describes a reunion of friends over a road-trip during which they eventually get over their fears, learn to see bigger things in life and, importantly, live. Every character was well moulded and the entire movie had a subtle approach. The title literally translates to 'you don't get to live life twice' which is what the movie drove through, at the end. Personally, I found it pretty inspiring and saw the need to live life to fullest and enjoy every tiny bit of beauty.


A one-of-a-kind movie. Not everyday you get to see a drug film with little or no commercial appeal. Shaitan was a refreshing change from most crime films in India. With a perfect mix of cold disturbance of Aranofsky and dark humour of Danny Boyle and Guy Ritchie, the movie has an entirely new texture that took people by surprise. Being more than just an addiction based thriller, the movie was about the evil in people. Besides, the original soundtrack of the movie was among the best Indian albums this year. Khoya Khoya Chand as background music was almost as cold and amazing at the same time as Singin' in the Rain in A Clockwork Orange. In all, the movie was an ingenious piece of art that actually grew on me over time.

Funny that almost all the movies in english that I watched this year were older ones. The only ones I had watched were Pirates of The Carribean 4 and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. The latter was quite good. I was surprised at the flawless translation of all the comical elements from the book into a movie. I must say, Spielberg at his best once again. :)
Among the older movies, my favourites were Requiem for a Dream(2000), Singin' In the Rain(1952) and Dead Poets Society(1989.)

I'm yet to watch some of the really good movies of the year, both Indian and English, such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, X-Men First Class, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Dirty Picture, Shor in the City and Don-2.

I've watched two foreign (non-english) films this year and both were awesome in their own way.
One of them is Amelie, the cute beautiful coming of age story of a lonely girl set in france. The other is the original swedish movie rendition of the Stieg Larsson novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo(of which David Fincher recently made an American version,) which is a dark, disturbing story with a raging conflagration of religion, cyber-crime, sex and journalism set in Sweden.

Musically, 2011 had been a great year for me from the beginning. Over this year, I've listened to 36 albums, including new and old ones. Like always, my charts have albums that may have released any time. Not in 2011.

The best being:

10.From the Yellow Door EP - Noise Noir
9.The Year of Hibernation - Youth Lagoon
8.Mylo Xyloto - Coldplay
7.Take Care, Take Care, Take Care - Explosions in the Sky
6.The Inner Mounting Flame - Mahavishnu Orchestra
The Inner Mounting Flame is among the earliest albums in from the american Jazz/Rock fusion scene. Apparently, the band front man had visited India and attained 'enlightenment' after which he named his band so. With energetic drumlines at odd time signatures layered with intricate bass and organ solos and guitar riffs, the album as a whole is an intense piece of art that keeps you up and going with the little funk that you need. The dark violin accompaniments, often played with piano sequences create a perfect acoustic and ambient atmosphere at the same time. In all, Inner Mounting Flame is a very apt title with all the energy in music and opened me to an entire new genre.

5.Real Life - Magazine
This is definitely one of the most iconic post punk albums after Closer and Script of the Bridge. Unlike the rhythm experiments of Joy Division or atmospherics of The Chameleons, Magazine gives melody driven tracks with mild maturity and evolution from conventional punk rock. John McGeoch's eccentric yet melodic guitar hooks propel the entire track with the usual part baritone vocals. There's little or no experimentation on the rhythm sections of the songs, unlike most post punk bands that I've listened to. But the guitar work is probably just as great as that of Bernard Sumner. I had come across Magazine when I read about McGoech, who happens to be the inspiration for Jonny Greenwood :D

4.Pygmalion - Slowdive
Slowdive is a popular shoegaze band from the early 90s who were largely inspired by the music direction started off by My Bloody Valentine. After their first two albums, Just For A Day, and Souvlaki, this album was a huge shock. To be honest, I was less surprised on listening to Kid A after the old guitar driven Radiohead. Pygmalion is easily among the greatest musical experiments that I've come across which beautifully illustrate the fact that one doesn't need great skills to make good music. Of course, Helstead and Goswell are highly skilled and talented people, but most tracks on Pygmalion, when musically interpreted, are surprisingly simple and complete at the same time. Besides, the depth achieved with such minimalist instrumentation and atmospherics is great. Like many say, I doubt a follow up can ever be made to this album.

3.Xx - The Xx
Xx is the debut album of the English indie band of the same name, and I must say, for a debut album, this is pretty bold. The level of clear instrumentation and risky music is clear. Not many bands have achieved this. Not even the greats like Arcade Fire or Radiohead. The music is an icy beautiful mixture of digital beats with intertwined guitar and bass solos and catchy duets that give each song the dynamics it needs. The album also has a lot of synthesizer usage mainly for harmony and atmospherics.

2.Strange Mercy - St.Vincent
After listening to Actor two years ago, I was sure Annie Clark would come up with more interesting work branching out of pop music. Strange Mercy has precisely that. Besides the different style of singing with pitch bends at ends, she has also tried a lot many things on guitar (at times abusing it) giving a very rough resonating sound to the entire album which moves in and out of choir like rhythms. She has kept on to the pleasant verses/loud choruses structure which once again has worked in its favour.

1.The King of Limbs - Radiohead
Most of you would say that was obvious that Radiohead would top my list. To be honest, though I had written a particularly elaborate review praising their latest album, I found myself not really liking tKoL over months. But one evening, I found this. And when i watched it, I knew I had found God. Once again.

This was when I realized the true ingenuity of The King of Limbs. Up until then, I had regarded it as a minimalist electronica album that heavily depended on samples and mixing. The fact that Radiohead creates electronica with minimal use of electronic and digital instruments is what makes it awesome. 
I'm sorry about the mirror imaging. Couldn't find a better video. 

Talking about novels, I've read two of them. One is Death Instinct, which is a sequel to the popular Jed Rubenfeld novel The Interpretation of Murder. Another is the Stieg Larsson bestseller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I'm currently reading it's sequel The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Yeah, so with that done, I'm close to ending this blog post. There's not much left to talk about what happened last year. Ah, yes. It's last year already. It's 3.30am. So yeah, it's good to see an entire year ahead of me with flower beds and landmines waiting to treat me as they'd love to.

Jump off the end
The water's clear and innocent

Friday, September 16, 2011

All Clear

Scene: Bridge on the spaceship. Two crew members Joseph and Barbara are reviewing data on their consoles.
Joseph: Running final check of bio data
Joseph: Data check all clear.
Barbara: What if it's wrong?
Joseph: It's not wrong.
Barbara: What if we're bringing back something dangerous?
Joseph: The only thing dangerous that we're bringing back is you!
Barbaa: You can't deny that it is theoretically possible we could bring back a new disease. A new disease capable of wiping out all life on earth.
Joseph: No. That's not possible. Not with the bio-scan. It has twenty five fail-safe back up systems. Nothing can get past it.
Barbara: Nothing we've seen so far.
Joseph: If you're so phobic, why did you get into space exploration?
Baraba: I like space. It's the planets that make me nervous. Besides, we know that a species can survive only if it has strong ability to overcome obstacles for procreation.
Joseph: Sure. Things survive only if they have a strong survival, reproduction mechanism. That's just stating the obvious.
Barbara: But if you go by Darwin, a virus might avoid detection and still exist!
Joseph: If it did anything to affect us, anything at all, the bio-scan would detect it and warn us.
Barbara: There is some flaw in your logic.
Joseph: I'm Barrack Obama's great grandson.
Barbara: Still, there is a flaw.
Joseph: Do you feel alright?
Barbara: Yeah, I seem to feel okay. But i can't help feeling we're missing something vital
Joseph: Well I feel great. Here comes Daniels! He's spent more time on the surfacec than both of us put together. Hey, Danies! Do you feel okay?
Enter DANIELS. His condition is sickening, although he doesn't realize it, nor do his crewmen.
Daniels: Mmmm-rrr-nnn!
Joseph: See? Daniels feels great! A picture of health.
Daniels gives another thumbs up and occupies his seat. Mmmmmm-rrrrr-nnnn!
Joseph: Barabara here is worried that we've all contacted some disease that can outsmart the bio-scan and we'll bring it back and wipe out all life on earth!
Daniels: Mmmmmm--rrr!
Joseph: Strap in everyone! Nothing can outsmart the bio-scan. How are you feeling now, Barbara?
Barbara: Okay. Great, in fact. But someday, we will come across something that can fool us. Somethhing that finds a way to be undetectable. I just know it! I keep feeling the idea almost here, in my consciousness, but i just cannot get to it.
Joseph: Um...what about you Daniels?
Daniels: Rrrrr--nnn!
Joseph: You know, if there was anything wrong, the alarms would be screaming by now.

Alarms start screaming.

An adaptation from one of Richard Nathan's works.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bittersweet Distractor

It gets strange when they put you in a room when it's not freezing outside and ask you to be happy about it. It's stranger still, when it begins to snow and you don't have a window so you can watch it. All you have is a light bulb hanging off the ceiling, radiating all that it has, that reminds you, constantly, that the room has walls. And that the door is closed.

You can dream of getting out of here soon enough, which is not false. You can plan on what to do once you're out. You can think of what to do when you're inside. Or you could just stare at the glowing bulb and wonder how it glows constantly when the charges painfully surge through it back and forth at speeds you've only come across in the physics lectures.

You can imagine smiling faces outside expecting you to face all this like a man. Too bad they're all a farce.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Past Showtime

The End.

Just as you are thrust out of the imaginative world, you feel the urge to run. Everyone is moving towards the doors at the corner with red neon board atop them saying 'exit.' You sleepily put your coat on, check your pockets, your seat and walk to the car park, the movie still in your head. Pulling your mind back into senses, you begin looking for your car among hundreds while your standing a few cars away from it. You check your watch before starting your car. You keep driving. Home is a good drive away. You look back. Kids asleep in the backseat. Wife dozing off too. But you have something to ask about the movie. It keeps bothering you from driving, and is eating into your sleep that's waiting to engulf just as you reach home.
The roads are deserted. You ease your foot on the gas pedal and sit back, gazing blankly through the windshield as gloomy street lights zoom past you. Shops and malls all closed. Darkness covering all the billboards.
You finally reach home and drive in. You don't really have to wake them up. They mechanically step out of the car and walk like zombies while you unlock and let them in. Your throat's buring with all the conditioned dry air in the hall. After having some water, you hit the bed and switch that intelligently crafted little lamp beside your bed off.
Why do we watch films?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Strings of day and age.

Hello all,

It struck me, that over the last few years, a lot of things have changed. Not from the worldly perspective, but in the small domain of things around me. That includes, to a large extent, my opinions and tastes.

Take the blog title for example: Over three years ago, i had started this blog to keep note of interesting sites that i visited. Hence i called it 'Cool Websites.' But over years, I've come to post more personal blogs that talk less and less about my travels in the cyberspace.

There are also a number of other things. My past opinions, choices and experiences do appear ridiculous now. I often find myself questioning my past decisions. I had always fancied the field of computers but i'm doing a major in Electricals now. Three years ago, i had a craze for fantasy novels, but somehow i tend to detest the idea. My religious beliefs are more and more open and abstract with every passing day.

In some cases, an alternative to the route i'd chosen would have spared me a lot of pain. But then again, there's the future that i know nothing about, which i must take into consideration. Perhaps I was wiser back then, looking into the farthest future self, and choosing the best thing...or maybe i'm wiser now, having gone through these couple of years.

It also largely influences the choices i make now. I remember, about two years ago i knocked my neighbor's door, curious about guitar as i had never seen one being played in front of me. A week later i was learning it. Today, music has become a huge part of my life. At times, I find myself drifting off into thoughts about it, often while in between something important. I must agree that it has a slight contribution in bringing my grades at college down.

As i've mentioned quite a few times earlier, I'm studying Electricals and share a big passion for music. I've finished my first year at college and am a week away from my second. Over last year, often have I seen the need to make a choice between Music and Major. Which one am I more passionate about? Which one will I BE more enthusiastic about in future? Philip Selway, an accomplished drummer has mentioned that while picking up music is mostly a teen instinct, sustaining and striving to be a better musician is a tough job.

In attempts to strike a compromise, I've also tried exploring technical careers involving music, such as designing pedals or other electronic instruments/accessories in the field of music as there is obviously a boom in the use of digital instruments. That's been a dead end.
Probably it's one hard choice. I suppose i have three more years before i take the decision. Who knows future-me might be wiser. Yes?

This is probably why Time Machines don't exist yet.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wax, Tallow, Pitch and Resin.

Don't worry about god,
Don't fear death;
What is good is easy to get
What is terrible is easy to endure


Saturday, March 12, 2011

The King of Limbs

Hello all!
Here it is, the eighth record, finally. You might find it odd with me talking about the album about a month after its release. I do too. But I remember when it came out, I had decided to hold on to listening to it for a long time before beginning to put it in words. Also, the internet at Uni. -_-

It's a Radiohead album, so, obviously, I can't review or judge it. But i've lots to say!

The King of Limbs -- Radiohead

For those who don't know what Radiohead is, and who feel really lazy to open another tab and check wikipedia, here's a quick intro: Radiohead is a five-piece music(yes, music. That's it, no particular genre. Alternate rock if you wish) consisting of Thom(vocals/guitar/piano/drums), Jonny(guitar/piano/drums/sampling/many other instruments), Colin(bass/synth), Ed(guitar/drum machine/backing vocals) and Phil(drums/percussion).

Although they started off with Emo grunge in the beginning with the singer whining over distorted riffs and feedback, they slowly graduated into atmospheric rock, then artistic rock and then into the cold land that's now called the Radiohead territory where no one else can survive.
The third album OK Computer IS considered to be the best album in the last 25 years. The 2007 album In Rainbows had one of its songs up for Grammys. Though I personally detest the grammy, it's good to see one's fave band going as far as up there. :D

With In Rainbows, it was said by everyone that Radiohead had perfected in music. They had made a cohesive album with a wide range of experimentation which was, then again, accessible. Even a common man not much into music would appreciate a couple of songs in the album. That's the kind of music they has made. I remember talking to my friend about this two years ago. He had put the question: "Radiohead has succeeded in doing what they set off to do with Kid A. Now what? How will the next album be?"
The question dazed me for quite a while until the band released two singles over the period of last two years. One was a tribute song to Harry Patch, a WW1 survivor. It was vocals and strings, subtle and soothing, yet powerful. They then came out with a five minute track called These are my twisted words which had a cold feel to it. On first listen, it's hard to believe that it's a guitar driven song. Upon later discussions with friends and the online Radiohead guitar cover guru, Warren Lain, I realized that there was so much more to it. I don't exactly remember the term he mentioned, but it had something to do with each member playing with different counts at the same time. While drummer played at counts of four, the guitarist played at counts of five!

All along the band tried letting go of the traditional rock setting and bring in new instruments like the french Ondes Martenot, the german Glockenspiel, french horn, electric piano connected to an effects pedal, or just everyday objects such as a portable television. But after mastering on that front with In Rainbows, they came back to the roots of their original music, assuming their usual positions again, but working on new stuff. Guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Yet different.

So it was around this time that i began visiting the Radiohead wikipedia page and started exploring their past inspirations like Joy Division, DJ Shadow, Bjork and others. It gave me a larger picture of the global music scene and a clear view of the Radiohead's Radiohead (adjective intended.)

Later I got into college got around to living here, visiting Dead Air Space every once in a while and checking the songs that Thom suggested, working on my own guitar playing with help of many talented Youtube guitarists who interpreted very well crafted music and also tried figuring out the artists intentions on making such compositions.

Days(months, actually) passed and it was the fourteenth of February. The day when most people spend time with their loved ones. I chose to do it differently. Ok, at this point i would like tell you that i'm single and currently love it that way. But as weird as that may sound, on that evening, i was among a dozen(meaning, very few) boys lazing around in the hostel while most of the fellas were out charming their ladies.

So I switched my iPod on and started going to the usual places, Twitter, Musicovery, Facebook, UltimateGuitar and so on, when I remember stumbling upon "Radiohead: "Thank you for waiting."
Quickly, new tab. w w w . r a d i o h e a d . c o m / d e a d a i r s p a c e /. enter.

And there it was, a three limbed creature in black and white, with it's giant eye, thanking everyone gaping at it.

Radiohead had announced that their next record will be out on 19th February, and it will be called The King of Limbs.

I don't know if the rest of that week felt long or not. But it was upbeat and i went back to listening to Radiohead tracks in all possible orders. Albums back to back, all openers back to back, all piano songs back to back and so on. I also came back to covering paranoid android on guitar, something that I hadn't done in months. It was on the 18th evening when I received a text while having cold coffee in the canteen:

King of limbs released officially by radiohead 24 hours before its previously announced date. released a single video titled lotus flower with thom yorke dancing. the track resembles amnesiac in many ways. downloading the album now.

That evening, little by little by hook or by crook, I got the album. My first listen didn't exactly shock me, but I was surprised.

The opening track, Bloom was a difficult opener. Starting with a cold powerful piano, and then colliding into techno drumbeats accompanied by the traditional drums was confusing. And then a laid back vocal talking about i don't know what. Upon subsequent listens and a look at the lyrics, i found many references to Joy Division. The song, speaking about the tranquility and yet the frenzy nature of the oceans, comparing it to the inner parts of human mind, by itself appeared to be a lyrical sequel to The Pyramid Song from Amnesiac, which was about angels in the river.

Morning MrMagpie was good. It reminded me of the 80s tracks by Siouxie+The banshees. The drum beats were new and interesting, but the drum sound was minimalist and closed, giving a claustrophobic feel as opposed to the spacey atmospheres adopted by the band in their earlier works involving lots of background sounds and effects. This style extended to most of the songs in the album. It refered to many things in the modern world. One of the things i could directly relate to was photography. No matter how much revolution digital photography has brought to this world, to a common man, a digital point-and-shoot device stores numerous photos and thus brings down the importance. Also, it's hard to cherish wonderful moments stacked away, when you have copious amounts of it, most of them being absurd and suggesting otherwise. I do not know it that was intended by the band, but since i've been into photos and cameras for a while this quickly came to mind. It's another thing that the bassist of the band is a professional photographer.

Little by Little was like a western style song at first listen. A car going at full speed in the desert, driving towards its doom. My brother suggested that it sounded rather lonely and claustrophobic to him. And guess what, upon a look at the lyrics, he was right! :)
The lines "The dark cell/the pit of my soul" suggested something analogous to a writer's block. Something that i have been going through, and hence could easily relate to. But that apart, I love the song for it's interesting structure, the dancing style beats and Jonny's guitar work. The way his fingers seemed to have brushed across the strings suggest his musical prowess and maturity. From abusing his guitar and sustaining repetitive strain injuries in the past, he has come down to playing minimalist, yet distinctly ringing guitar solos that stay in the listener's head for a long time. xD xD

Great have fun. already on a second listen and must say they have really done it again.

Feral was a different territory altogether. It was like a hidden rocky cave in the icy land of Radiohead, with flame torches and eerie carving on the wall. The repetitive drum beats and resonant ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-taa synth was cold and warm at the same time. Then the heavy drums dissolving into barely audible beats, with a fuzzy bassline taking control, while having randomly sampled vocals is yet another experiment. A successful one at that. Like an audio version of 2001:A Space Odyssey where you see colourful lights moving past your face at high speed and get amazed at it while you still have the desolate feeling somewhere inside.

Feral runs into the subsequent song called Lotus Flower. It was released as a single video on the band's blog along with links to download the album. I first checked the video since I was inquisitive about Thom dancing. Yes, I've scene him bobbing up and down going crazy while singing songs in the basement and other webcasts and that feature the band jamming.
The video of Lotus Flower is an awesomeness by itself. If there was anything to top the music with, it's dance. It was the first time a Radiohead track was danced to. But then again, the dance was just as eccentric, stylish, beautiful and symbolic as the music. Sure, Thom has a weird body language, one lopsided eye and funny epressions while singing, but they all came together in this little convergence of a video. The dance symbolized many things beginning from trees, nature and it's importance (something that Thom has always been standing for), the frenzy fast moving world with it's pros and cons, the acknowledgement of a greater power that governs us, and at the end, a dance move that acutally pays respect to fans. Masterpiece to accompany a masterpiece.

Here's the link to the music video:

And here's a guide to understand the symbology in the dance:

Now, talking about the song, Thom had come up with this song about a year ago during his solo gigs, and gigs with RHCP's Flea at LA and other places. He had first played Lotus Flower at the Echoplex in LA. A couple of days later, Warren Lain on youtube came up with it's cover and a tutorial. I sort of ignored expecting it to later be a part of yet another Thom Yorke solo album. Something that i didn't really like that much. But it was in King of Limbs! With a complete shift from the solo version. Although it still sounded like a Thom Yorke song through and through, every subtle piece of sound and music showed the band members contribution directly or indirectly.
The full band version was mostly bass and drum driven with almost inaudible atmospheric guitar sounds and synth bits here and there. There was also Thom himself clapping at odd time signatures providing another layer to the song. It had lots of references to the forests, but also the fairy tale feel to it. They were seen in the lines "'Cause all I want is the moon upon a stick/I dance around a pit/The darkness is beneath." Later, Stanley Donwood, the album artist for most Radiohead albums, explained that although the album has a lot to do with forests, trees and the thousand year old oak; its namesake, it also had to do with the fairy tale world. Most of the fairy tales in that region had characters spending a large amount of time lost in the forest and eventually seeing the beauty there, as in Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel & Gretel and others..
Lines like "I will shape myself into your pocket/Invisible/Do what you want" had me thinking about the modern day gadgets that reduce in size with every passing day, continue to amuse people but never succeed in helping mankind in any substantial way. It only makes one's life harder. With the advent of PDA mobiles, Blackberrys, Tablet PCs, Netbooks, people bring their work home and tend to screw their work-life balance eventually gaining no satisfaction on any front. No matter how many people they managed in the office, no matter how many people from different countries they got to meet, no matter how many different places they visited (on official trips), no matter how much they earned for their family, no matter how much they apologized to friends and others for not being there when needed, they eventually die alone.

I am liking little by little a lot. upon first listen however codex, feral, lotus flower and separator were my faves. i think it will take one or two days of listening to familiarize with all aspects of the album and giving verdict on it.

Codex was a paradigm shift from the style of the album seen so far. It was a massive slow down with processed piano strokes and mild icy beats giving an impression of cold music like the Kid A tracks, but also giving you the feel of being tightly wrapped in a coat so that you don't get frozen. Thom's falsetto backed by brass instruments brought in a sense of security and reassurance after a dark song about the bad bad beautiful world. It was a unique ballad unlike any other. They had tried to achieve a slowdown in earlier albums, such as in The Tourist(from OK Computer) and Nude(from In Rainbows), but this was unlike either. The former was more patchy and explicitly said "Slow down" in its lyrics. Nude had more emotional lyrics more to do with love life and chronic depression. Codex was rather positive in its outlook, like a father forgiving and reassuring his son who committed the biggest blunder of his life. "No one gets hurt/You've done nothing wrong" comforts every listener, puts him in relaxation mode and makes him feel good about himself. It also indicates rays of hope in future and the goodness that lies ahead, in the lines "Jump off the end/The water is clear and innocent"
I've had various perceptions of this song each time. The first time, it appeared to me as a track with strong pink floyd influence since it sounded like a processed piano cover of Speak to me/Breathe in a more Greatest gig in the sky style. But I was wrong. With the lyrics, the tranquil brass solo and piano in the background, it's as refreshing as Stairway to Heaven.
And then the song fades a portal opening into some other place...suddenly chirping of birds bursts in...rustling of leaves, the wind, birds flapping their wings, and a thud every now and then, and...

Give up the ghost.
Thom had first played an acoustic version in a low-key solo gig at cambridge for his friend's political needs. The song had great response. I remember coming across comments on youtube saying that he/she hoped this song was just as haunting and raw when it appears on the future records. It was so. The full band version was hardly modified, except for the processing of "Don't Haunt me/Don't hurt me" part, and some very melodic bassline that accompanies a very non-conventional afro-dub crosses folk style of guitar playing and vocals.
This is both lyrically, and musically, a continuation of Codex. The lines "Gather up the pitiful/In your arms" signifies that charity, benovalence and such qualities are what make up for the wrong we've done, knowingly or unkowingly in our past. It's to clean up the mess we've created, and turn to nature for cleansing. "I think we should give up the ghost"

There are so many layers and subtleties which reveal themselves upon multiple listens and this is what i have loved most abt them since the bends.

"Wake me up, wake me up"
Separator provides a very different finish for the album. My favourite Radiohead finisher so far has been Street Spirit(Fade Out.) Though all album ends tend speak philosophy, Radiohead had chosen the dark truth all along, talking about harsh realities, mostly to do with death, or becoming a kid again, trying to view problems in a more simplified way than growing up and complicating it. But Separator had a completely different take. Starting of with "It's like I'm falling out of bed/From a long weary dream" it gives a sense of just having woken up from the dream of problems. But as the song progresses on a more relaxed note with no deep emotions, it gets into philosophy indicating that the whole world is an illusion of senses, analogous to the way one believes what he sees in his dream until he wakes up. But then again, regardless of how pleasurable or harsh it was, he wishes to be there again, in the dream, until it finally dissolves out of his mind as he pursues other activities.
Life is all the same again.


His new hairstyle is weird but my favourite part of the video when he puts the hat back grips it and he along with the entire song goes into a feverish state.

The album lasts for less than 40 minutes and none of the songs bore the listener out. Upon first listen, it doesn't even sound special or multi-layered. Perhaps that's the way it's meant to be. Beneath all the layers and experiments, Radiohead has believed in making accessible music. Something very difficult to do. Every album of theirs has attempted in achieving the perfect balance between accessibility and experimentation.

But that's just not it. In the weeks preceding the release, there were articles on the band's blog about how powerful social networking sites have been. But what they had in mind, was seen only when the album was out. Radiohead generated the maximum publicity with hardly any input by announcing the album release just about a week before. Then by preponing it further by a day, they made sure they would have the entire internet going on about them. And then the album was out. Twitter crashed. Blogs and social feeds broke out into a frenzy. People shared the rare experience of listening to an album track by track and sharing their first impressions with each other. Ansh and me being amongst them. I believe for most of us who experienced such a thing on twitter, it was an experience to remember and Radiohead has once again proven themselves why their thoughts and ideas about music and its propogation/distribution is light years ahead of everyone else.

Ah, long session. Life's pretty good here. Working on my play and a short film. Music and anime have kept me going. Glad that The Suburbs won the Grammy. They stand right behind Radiohead for me now. :)
Heard about the Oscars. Was rooting for Social Network. Surprised that it got one for the music! :O
Anyway, talk about more later.

Till my next blog,

Monday, January 24, 2011

The view from the aftermath.

He didn't know how long he had been standing there in the doorway. The snow had started to fall about an hour ago, and it had slowly began to increase in intensity. It was strange that he didn't feel cold. The people scurrying by were all wrapped in coats and scarves and thick warm gloves, but he, he didn't feel the cold in the slightest. He idly wondered why that was. What the hell, it wasn't important.

Yet another year for most. To me, it was a mix of a lot of events. I've blogged a few times over the year and they talk a lot about how it went. However, the view from the outside is nothing short of amusing. It's like recording your moments of craziness and laughing over it later.

Part-1: The Seven-Hour Test
It's easily qualifies as the most painful time-period of my life. Worst part being it didn't really help. I flunked the entrance exam and hit an academic all-time low with no idea as to how to proceed. But then, it was also the time when i made some of the best friends I've had.

Part-2: Into the Uni
With some decent luck, I got accepted by a Uni which was sort of my last straw. Life has been bittersweet here. For most of the time, I've been a mismatch and still find it hard to adjust to the people in Uni. My birthday was an underground day with modest celebrations and low-key emotions...but fun nevertheless.

Part-3: Deeper into the Uni
Although life has been peculiar in this place, I've discovered a great deal about myself here. I got the distinction of being the best director among all the freshers. Also my guitar playing has received some attention and we often get together and jam, covering our favorite songs. Life just got a bit better towards the end of the year.

But that's just one way to look at it. Since I was far less busy compared to the previous year, I could get hold of more and more of the ingenious pieces of art that the world had to offer. Be it movies, music, books or TVseries.


2010 has been a year with lots of music. I've listened to over 20 albums over the year and loads of other music that include movie soundtracks and random tracks off compilations.
My top 5 albums of the year are:

5.Unknown Pleasures -- Joy Division

Starting from the album cover, everything about the album is unique and vaguely disturbing. The cover itself signifies the disturbing nature and symbolically represents the hurdles between birth and death. Ian Curtis' depressive baritone swallows all the happiness one could ever think of. I have not-so-good memories attached to this album, but even then, Unknown Pleasures forms an integral part of me.

4.Ágætis byrjun -- Sigur Ros

This is easily among the greatest experiments with music that I've come across. All the ten songs on the album include self-reference: the introduction contains backmasked parts from the title track, and the last song, "Avalon", consists of a different take of an instrumental passage from "Starálfur" slowed to around one-third its original speed. The album title translates to "A Good Beginning"

3.Teen Dream -- Beach House

I came across this album sometime in the latter part of December and instantly fell in love with it. It made me love acoustic guitar again. Among all the synthetic atmospherics of Post punk and ambient music that I had been listening to for most of the year, Teen Dream stood out and shone! In some ways, it reminds me of Bitte Orca and Actor.

2.The Suburbs -- Arcade Fire

I'm at loss to describe this piece of art. A cohesive album that manages to speak a lot at the same time manages to be innovative and personal. It encompasses all the changes in the world that occurred between 1997(OKC Reference) and now. The degrading urban lifestyle, blooming and breaking friendship, the need to move on in life, the way kids see things, the changing seasons...i'm bowled over. It's the most colourful album i've heard in years and came THIS MUCH close to being the best album of the year xD

1.High Violet -- The National

If anything was better than The Suburbs, it was THIS. The soothing, yet electric voice of Matt that pulls you into the song like a vortex, in combination with beautiful drum line and sparks of guitar coming on and off, is High Violet. From the amazing opening track with it's drum-crescendo to the closing gospel style track, the album flows like a river of nectar. I came across this album sometime after my exams were over and since then, it's grown over me enough to define my emotions at certain situations. =)
It's another thing that my voice range comes close to Matt's, and me being able to cover the band makes me highly motivated. =D =D


That apart, I've learnt very few songs on guitar last year. But i did get a chance to try and perfect on some of my favourite solos on my friend's electric guitar.

Suddenly he discerned a warm beam of light getting brighter, surrounding him in it's glow. It seemed to be beckoning him to its source.
He remembered the stories that he had heard of bright warm lights that people have experienced when they have been clinically dead, before being dragged back to life. The poor bastards.
He waited anxiously in case that should also be his fate, but nothing happened. He seemed to be in room bathed in white light. He had no idea of time, if it was minutes, hours or days. He started to get restless.


Although I got to watch a number of ingenious movies this year, I could not catch many of the flicks that released this year due to the isolated location of my Uni. Among those I watched this year, my favourites include Fight Club, Kill Bill, The Departed, Taxi Driver, Scarface, The Dollar Trilogy, Dr.Strangelove and In Bruges. Although, the top ones are:

5.Toy Story 3


3.Shutter Island

Christopher Nolan has truly outdone himself with his latest movie. It's easily the most popular movie and the one most rooted for at every award. But the last days of 2010 pushed it a rung down. However, it's got a never-seen-before concept put forth with an extra-ordinarily crafted screenplay that's absolutely flawless. If it's Dark Knight for action, it's Inception for true-thriller.

1.The Social Network
THE ONE which pushed Inception a step down. With an amazing script and excellent tongue-in-cheek humour, David Flincher has come with another cult hit which is sure to grab attention. My personal favourites from the movie were Mark's academic probation and the Bill Gates lecture. (xD)
Jesse Eisenberg has played a role that defines a true nerd which is, in fact, pretty inspiring. Andy Garfield has an interesting role and Justin Timberlake did an impressive job. I hated his character in the movie, but it was supposed to be that way and it succeeded in serving the purpose.
As we move on from one decade to another, it's time we see innovation in screenplay where words begin to speak louder than actions and emotions are shown in a more subtle way combined with interesting camera work (love Flincher for this and Fight Club!!), and The Social Network has hit the bull's eye when it comes to perfection.


I've read quite a few novels. Will put up the reviews soon.

Oh yeah, my phone, i.e., Sony Ericsson G502 fell in water a couple of months back. Only then i realized how much I was attached to the instrument. I had developed a mild fever that night, and had turned into an insomniac for the next fortnight until it was repaired.
Now it's functioning well, and is a well-acknowledge part of me. My photography, passion for film making, music and of course, communication. Phone.

Arg, that was tiresome. I typed this blog partly because I was waiting to speak out my favourites, and part because it was too much into 2011 already.
I have the Uni Tech and Cultural Fests ahead of me besides the number of tiny menacing tests peppered all over the term. I've been working on a play to put up at the Cult Fest. Will tell more about it in my next blog. :)

Till then,