March 2012

Karoshi by Salaryman (9/10)

Format: CD

Another collection of analog synth laden songs from the members of Poster Children. This one feels a bit more focused and less sloppy than their debut EP. Still, these are loose, live feeling songs and not sequenced laptop tracks. I had always hoped that Poster Children would have incorporated more of this experimentation in their records too, but, alas, that never really happened. The CD includes a bunch of obsolete CD-ROM multimedia that crashes in a modern OS.

The Rutles by Rutles, The (10/10)

Format: CD

The Rutles make you realize just how unique, yet weirdly predicatable the Beatles were. Although intended as a joke, the lyrics are not too far off the mark of actual Beatles songs. In fact, I may actually prefer most of these songs simply because they have a sense of humor about them. Stuff like, "Although I may not be a man of words, yeah, yeah" is just great. This CD makes me want to be a hair dresser, or two. I'd like to be two hair dressers.

Don't Look Now (4/10)

Don't Look Now is known mostly for Donald Sutherland's naked gyrations. I was more impressed with his hobbity mop of hair. I thought the movie was overly long and boring. It's supposed to be horror movie, but you would know that if left before the last four minutes. For the most part it is mostly just people walking around Venice and being dull.

Dead Space 2 on PC (7/10)

Dead Space 2 - Floater

I liked the original Dead Space well enough. The sequel is just more of the same endless dark hallways, jump scares, limb shooting and occasional weightless environment. This makes for some mindless fun, but, like the first game I was just yearning for a little variety.

The Art of the Theremin by Clara Rockmore (9/10)

Format: CD

This CD came as part of my Theremin kit I ordered from Big Briar back in the 90s. Just holding a single note is hard enough on a theremin, Clara Rockmore manages to control the intrument like a violin. These are all classical pieces performed with only a piano as accompanyment. The overall feeling of the music is somber and not at all like the sci-fi buzzing you normally hear from theremin playing.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer (7/10)

I am not usually a non-fiction reader outside of the occasional political tome, but I bought this after it was recommended by Virginia Postrel on her Twitter feed (and it was a 99¢ deal of the day on Amazon). To demonstrate how the brain's chemical processes effect decision making, the author uses various real world examples like a quarterback picking a receiver, a pilot crash landing a plane and a world champion poker player. The anecdotes themselves are very interesting and on top of those there are quite a few examples of weird psychological studies.

Warm in your Coat by Romeo Void (7/10)

Format: CD

Like many one-hit-wonders, that one hit (in this instance "Never Say Never") sounds completely different than the rest of the band's songs. On most of the other tracks the screeching, insane saxophone is replaced with a more standard 80s smooth jazz sound—the kind of thing you would hear on a failed late night talk show's theme song. I wonder if Romeo Void ever played on the Pat Sajak show? Anyhow, this isn't to say the rest of CD is bad. It's just less punk-y.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (9/10)

The third Discworld novel starts a completely new storyline with no crossover with the first two books. I actually liked this better than the other books because it hit on the sort of underdog themes that I always tend to find appealing: a young girl is trying to become the first female admitted into the school of wizardry. As with the other books in the series, this one is filled with vivid, interesting characters and silly anachronisms aplenty.

Metroid Other M on Nintendo Wii (6/10)

Metroid Other M Cover

I guess the best way to describe Other M would be "disappointing." Judging from  screenshots of the game you would assume that this was simply a return to the 2-D side-scrolling roots of the franchise. That would have been a good thing. Instead, this is a weird third-person/first-person hybrid game that has you constantly flipping the Wiimote around to change views. This is not quite as awful as it sounds, but the game would be much better if they had just chosen to go one way or the other. As it stands, the 2-D sections of the game, which could have emphasized platforming and twitch skills, are dumbed down to "press right and hit fire... the auto-aim will do the rest." The 3-D parts are equally disappointing. Unlike the Prime series, exploration and investigation don't really play a role here. The first-person perspective is mostly used to charge up your super-missiles and lock on to targets.

The Number of Magic by Richard H. Kirk (10/10)

Format: CD

This record fits nicely along side Virtual State. This is atmospheric electronica that the laptop kids probably have a specialized sub-sub-genre term they would use to describe it. To me it's just a continuation in the evolution of Cabaret Voltaire with lots of eerie found sounds and the occasional world music sample.