Pinball Design Python Anghelo – A Tribute

High Speed

Python Anghelo: He had such a huge impact on my life with his wonderful art and design. Highlights (for me) of his work include:

Video Games:

  1. Joust (Williams)

Pinball:

  1. High Speed“: (1986) (Williams)
  2. The “Roller Coaster” Trilogy: “Comet” (1985), “Cyclone” (1988) & “Hurricane” (1990) (Williams)
  3. Pin*Bot” (1986) & “The Machine: Bride of Pin*Bot” (1991) (Williams)
  4. “Fish Tales” (Williams)

He died from cancer– far too young.

High Speed was the first pinball machine I got into.  It made me realize that it actually “was” a game of skill.  And it has a story– you’re a speeder in a fast car and you need to turn the traffic lights red and then run the red light. You then need to escape the police and go to your hideout.

Most of these games are available virtually on the game “Pinball Arcade“– available through Steam or the Mac OS X App Store.

Anyone interested in games/pinball should take a look at this guys work.

RIP, Python.

Phil Collins – An Apology

Phil Collins - Hello, I Must Be Going!

I have no shame now—I *love* Phil Collins’ music. I have since his first solo album—”Face Value”—the one with “In The Air Tonight” on it. Can you think of a more iconic drum fill than the one near the end of that song? It actually started with “Misunderstanding” and “Turn It On Again” from Genesis’ 1980 album “Duke”. When they were hits. Yes, I’m old. (That was 34 year ago—but hey, I was 10.)

I know it’s cool to not like him. I also know it’s norm-core cool to like him. I don’t care. I can listen to most of his albums and some of his songs over and over again and hear something fresh and masterful—and emotional each time.

I really got hooked on listening to him solidly with “Against All Odds”—what a fantastic ballad. The perfect pop song—impeccably produced and performed. Some of my friends scoff at the “corporate rock” perfection, but that seems so precious and too quick-to-judge to me. (I also love Toto, Mr. Mister, Journey and Steely Dan—but those are stories for another time.)

Then in early 1985, “No Jacket Required” came out. A masterpiece from start to finish. This one was in heavy rotation with me for the entire spring and summer of that year, and it comes back several times a year. Give it a listen—all the way through…from Sussudio to the CD-only bonus track “We Said Hello, Goodbye.” It’s so cohesive but disparate enough to keep you hooked.

I’m ashamed to admit that I called his music “cheesy” on NPR (with 10 million people listening) back in 2004 when I reviewed the video game Karaoke Revolutions on All Things Considered. (Click on the big triangle next to the word “Listen”.) It was not a lie—but the lie by omission is that I like cheesy music—hell, I love the Carpenters. I still feel shame for saying it—especially after hearing that he was depressed that people weren’t into his music and he was being made fun of.

Listen to the piece and read between the lines—I spend a large portion of the piece singing Against All Odds (it took 10 or so takes to get the vocal I wanted…J…but it’s pretty obvious I didn’t use AutoTune.) What could this mean other than I love the song?

Lately I’ve “discovered” “Hello, I Must Be Going”—his second solo effort. I’ve been listening to it on pro-level equipment at very high sample rates (192 kHz). What first caught me was the iconic and powerful drum sound—and the message and emotion in the song “I Don’t Care Anymore.” The context around this song is that he was going through a painful divorce at this time. It’s very clear. The song is also very empowering.

Then there’s “Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away”. It’s a creative ballad with excellent piano and strings—and he does some unexpected things compositionally with the pedal point musical form. (This essentially means a single bass note repeated with the chords above changing around it creating interesting dissonances.)

My main point—give Phil a listen. He’s amazing.

And Mr. Collins—if you ever read this—I apologize for calling your music cheesy. It’s had such a huge effect on my life. J

Steve Roach in Concert in Baltimore, 1996

Here’s a review of a concert that Liza (at the time, my girlfriend and now my wife) and our friend Erin Wisnieski went to see.  It’s exactly as I remember it.

When I talked to him about it afterward– months later– I told him it was almost TOO intense for me.  It was soul-shakingly powerful and dark at times with islands of solace.  He said “Well, you gotta shake the cage, man!”

Words to live by.

Here’s Cliff Tuel’s review:

Baltimore — June 29, Cloud Watch: a Futuristic Tribal Gathering, with Steve Roach, Chuck Van Zyl, various ambient DJ’s including Jeff Towne

What a trip! Steve Roach the big super-star at an ambient rave? This was the most atypical concert of the week, but the most fun. Imagine a couple hundred kids in a warehouse from 10pm ’til 8am, trancing to non-stop ambient grooves, zoning out while trying to stay awake, or just curling up in sleeping bags drifting in and out of sleep. Some brought candles to set around their blankets on the ground, others brought a variety of mind-altering substances, afraid the music might not be potent enough. Slide projectors lit whole walls with planets and star fields; an uninhibited girl writhed in its light, in time to the music. A movie projector threw random images onto a thin sail hanging from the ceiling and snaking back and forth, so that the image would project on the sail multiple times, each time slightly more out of focus. Green, yellow, and purple lights formed patterns, and black lights lit the corners. The DJ’s sat in a huge translucent plastic cocoon, which obscured most of the stage.

At midnight, Chuck Van Zyl took the stage, although with no introduction and obscured by the DJ cocoon, it was hard to tell. The crowd seemed to really enjoy Chuck’s set, but in 45 minutes or so it was over, as the music faded into a CD: the title track from “Well of Souls” — the same pre-show music used in Chicago. As the music began to soothe the crowd, Steve Roach came into the room, slowly walking around blowing incense, filling every corner with its sweet, heady perfume. Not a word was spoken, and as he made eye-contact with the mesmerized audience, they knew they were in for something special. Soon, “Well of Souls” faded away and Steve’s didgeridoo broke the silence, transfixing the audience. Unfortunately I couldn’t see Steve from where I was, and only those on the far end could see him. But soon it didn’t matter, as I closed my eyes and leaned back on my pillow, as the music took off, and took me to another place.

The set followed the same path taken at the Chicago and Philadelphia shows, but there was more of everything. But with the top-notch sound system, the incense in the air, and the vibe of the crowd, the music seemed so much more intense. Steve played for almost three hours non-stop, and those were three of the most relaxing and soul-nourishing hours of my life. The last hour was filled with more upbeat pieces, with modern (almost techno) rhythms and sequences that made no attempt to hide their electronic origins. Over the years Steve’s music has sounded less and less electronic and more organic, so it was a rare treat to hear the raw electronics make a comeback. The mood of these pieces was a bit like the Stormwarning album, with the music going fast and hard, shifting around from one rhythm to another, yet it had a distinct 1996 flavor, with the constant waves of synths rising and falling, balancing the driving beats with their steady breaths. As the music segued back into “Well of Souls” from the DJ cocoon, the crowd slowly regained consciousness, and after a few minutes of awed silence, broke into applause.

I had a two-hour drive back to Philadelphia ahead of me, so I left after Steve’s set. “Star’s End”, Chuck’s weekly radio show, was underway (pre-taped for logistical reasons). About a half hour outside Philly I was able to pick up the broadcast, and “The Magnificent Void” crackled over my speakers. As the sun began to rise, the climactic soaring notes of “Altus” began. Only minutes after reaching my hotel, “Altus” came to an end, and bleary-eyed and emotionally drained, I stumbled to my room.

I’ve been back for a week now, and I can’t remember ever feeling so relaxed and stress-free. Seeing four Steve Roach concerts in one week was incredible and intensely moving, and I’ve still not gotten over my emotional and spiritual high. People ask me why I gave up a week of my life to follow a musician around the country. If they could get inside my head, and experience what I’ve experienced, they would understand.

- Cliff Tuel

A Boy And A Girl

Eric Whitacre - Light and Gold
A Boy And A Girl – Eric Whitacre
This is an incredible choral piece composed by Eric Whitacre.  It is based on a poem by the great Mexican poet Octavio Paz.  If it doesn’t send chills up your spine, I’d be surprised.  I was introduced to his music at a concert at Benaroya Hall in Seattle– I had never heard choral music like this with dissonnance and tight tone clusters.  I looked him up– he’s my age. :)  Music lovers, let me know what you think!

Original poem in Spanish:

Los Novios

Tendidos en la yerba
una muchacha y un muchacho.
Comen naranjas, cambian besos
como las olas cambian sus espumas.

Tendido en la playa
una muchacha y un muchacho.
Comen limones, cambian besos
como las nubes cambian espumas.

Tendidos bajo tierra
una muchacha y un muchacho.
No dicen nada, no se besan,
cambian silencio por silencio.

A Boy And A Girl

Stretched out on the grass,
a boy and a girl.
Savoring their oranges,
giving their kisses like waves exchanging foam.

Stretched out on the beach,
a boy and a girl.
Savoring their limes,
giving their kisses like clouds exchanging foam.

Stretched out underground,
a boy and a girl.
Saying nothing, never kissing,
giving silence for silence.

Octiavio Paz (1914-1998)

Source

Teleglitch – Retro/New Gaming at its’ Best

Maybe it’s the Atari 2600 font ca. 1979 that gets me…no it’s not, I loved the game before I saw that.

This game is HARD. And amazingly fun. The sound design (using free .ogg sounds) is amazing. This game is worth buying and playing.

I know that I’ve barely scratched the surface of this one (I haven’t even gotten past level 1!) but I’ll keep trying. It’s so damned cool and atmospheric—in an 8-bit sorta way.

Play this game.

Teleglitch

High Definition Music

I’ve been buying a few albums from hdtracks.com. The sound quality of analog recordings sampled at high rates is amazing. Especially Daft Punk’s new album (watch “The Creators” series), and Prince & the Revolution’sPurple Rain” at 192 KHz sampling rate/24-bit audio resolution.

With my Mackie HR824 monitors, and my MOTU Traveler Mark I audio interface, I can really tell the difference. I’ve been making CD projects using the AWESOME Studio One from Presonus (which is my favorite DAW, BTW) to listen while gaming.

Territories

Better the pride that resides
In a citizen of the world
Than the pride that divides
When a colorful rag is unfurled

–Neil Peart (Rush)

As much as I’m proud to be an American, this rings very true for me.  Especially since it was written by a ferigner…:)

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

It’s synchronicity: I was on a disco/Nile Rogers/late 70′s dance music/Paul Williams (!)/Georgio Moroder kick for the past 6 months…and then Daft Punk comes out with their new album with all of these same elements on it. On first listen, I was not impressed, but I like it more with each listen. I cannot tell yet if it will be a classic to me, but as of now, it’s amazing. Pharell Williams is amazing as usual—there’s something unique that he brings to music and to hear all of these elements together is an amazing thing.

The only criticism is that it’s too retro.

Paul Williams: he wrote We’ve Only Just Begun. I couldn’t live without this song it’s so incredible. He also wrote “The Rainbow Connection”.

Georgio Moroder: Donna Summer’s late ’70′s disco hits—the entire Flashdance soundtrack. Seriously. Listen to Flashdance from a sonic and musical perspective—it’s full of some incredible sounds.

Time will tell about this album, but what’s with the French lately? It started with Air, then Daft Punk then Phoenix…all AMAZING…oh yeah, and fricking Edith Piaf.

What do you think of the new Daft Punk album? Let me know in the comments.

What Can Replace the BBS?

Back in the mid-1980′s I ran a Bulletin Board System (BBS). Only one person could call in at a time. We always dreamed of more than one person at a time, but it was still amazing to have conversations and trade files/knowledge with people you would never otherwise meet. The two best software programs for the Commodore 64 were CMBBS (Commodore Mania BBS by the great Don Snider who lived 10 miles away from me in Montgomery County, MD) and C-Net by the great Ken Pletzer, who lived in Canton Township, Michigan—near Detroit. These were amazing pieces of software for their time. C-Net was written in a combination of BASIC and machine language. It also featured dynamic loading of program modules to circumvent the 35K limit of programs written for the C-64. Ken Pletzer was a genius. From what I’ve read, he has no interest in BBS’s now, and is involved in the theatre.

Yes, we were pioneers. And yes, this post is a little “get off my lawn!” But hey, I’m only 43.

I miss the intimacy. There was anonymity—just not as much as there is now. And we always had parties where we would meet in person. I remember one particular party in the fall of 1985 in Laurel, MD for one of the most popular social BBS’s in Maryland at the time—Real Life BBS, run on an ancient (even at the time) TRS 80. It didn’t matter—it was the place to be. It ran TBBS. It was always busy—you had to have an auto-dialer or call in the middle of the night to have a chance to get on. It was at this party that I met Jyri Kork, Ned Potter and his two brothers (who ran the BBS) and the other denizens of the BBS. It was the first time I heard ABC’s “How to be a Zillionaire”. It was on vinyl. It was amazing.

Back to the point.

What fills that BBS void today? To some extent, Reddit does. Also, the WELL—which has been around A LOT longer. But I miss running a BBS. Maybe that’s why my job is to help run one of the most visited sites in the world: http://windows.microsoft.com/.

Either way, I’m going to try yet again for my own, small BBS. Using the best free solution out there today, PHPBB3. If you’re interested in an intimate group of friends, no spam, no tracking cookies, no Mark Zuckerberg or Eric Schmidt having your personal data, come on by to http://sotm.net/phpbb3/.