New demo from CDataKill

New track from one of my favorites: CDatakill.

Click the pic to get to the page with the song on it. It's different from the old stuff, and has a lot of metal guitar, but it's very cool.

CDatakill made some of my favorite records of all time, including Playing with Knives, and Severity of Gravity. The stuff on the split with Resurrector has amazing drum programming, too. I need to go pull that record out and listen to it again. If you have it, odds are your copy is mislabeled such that the sides are swapped.

Oh shit, I forgot about Six Stigmata with Abelcain. That is a hell of a record.

What? You have a dirty mind or something?

I was watching the Olympics the day before yesterday and me and the missus both saw this, looked at each other and then started cracking up. Lo and behold, a couple days later someone posts the video on YouTube. Enjoy it while you can, because I'm sure NBC will nuke it shortly.

Music from nowhere

Recently found this wandering around the innerwebs:

Very interesting underwater recordings of ice cracking and breaking and expanding. It's really amazing stuff. It sounds like a lot of the experimental music I used to listen to when I was an angry teenager.

Cool stuff from The XX

I'm really enjoying the new record from The XX, despite the fact that it's gotten wide acclaim and radio airplay. Unlike so many critical darlings, this South London trio really have something new to offer. Their signature sound is sparse and empty, with highly modified guitar and bass, creating a sound that feels like it's drifting through space. It's reminiscent of some old favorites: there are definitely touches of Joy Division, very early Cure, and even Everything but the Girl.

Here is a video posted today from Pitchfork.

Tech Itch plays Los Angeles

Very excited to see Technical Itch perform at an underground in my dear old town of Los Angeles this coming weekend. If you want discount tix, send an email to the address on the flier. Click on the flier for a bigger version.

Many thanks to Baseck and So Simple for bringing him out. It's going to be a great show. Here are some probably illegal YouTube vids to check out.

All you need is kill

The fine folks at VizMedia, a leader in bringing Manga titles to the US, now have a cool literature imprint called Haikasoru, specializing in importing and translating cutting-edge science fiction titles from Japan. I was at Meltdown Comics this weekend and came upon one of the first titles from this exciting new division, a book called All you need is kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. A quick look at the back cover and I was interested enough to buy an unknown book by an author I've never heard of before. So, I have to deduct 5 points for the name of the book, but the paragraph synopsis was tops. ;)

AYNIK is set in the not-too-distant future, on a planet Earth that is being overrun by "mimics," a mutant species that may or may not be alien, and may or may not be sentient. All that humans really know about the mimics is that they are incredibly difficult to kill and they leave death and destruction in their path. Even their metabolic waste is a deadly poison.

They story gets interesting when a fresh army recruit, Keiji Kiriya, during his first battle, inadvertently sets himself in a never-ending time loop, repeating the battle over and over again. The comparisons to Groundhog Day will be plentiful, and rightfully so, as the story revolves around a man constantly reliving the same 30 hours. But, Sakurazaka has actually created a unique phenomenon for the novel which is internally consistent, interesting, and very entertaining to try and piece together.

The other central character is the Earth's greatest warrior, a slight, red-headed American woman called Full Metal Bitch, or Valkyrie. Kiriya knows immediately that their lives will become intertwined, but doesn't realize until it's too late exactly what that means.

AYNIK is a fantastic, energetic read with two strong characters and a plot that pushes you forward. Translation work by Alexander O. Smith is extremely well done, with a modern style and a compelling mode of storytelling that makes for a fast read that is difficult to put down. I hope that the imprint continues this partnership and that we see more work from both Smith and Sakurazaka in the future.

Don't drive angry.

The Black Swan

Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan is the kind of non-fiction that I can't put down: an arrogant, self-important, and unapologetic attempt to show people that the world is not as it seems. But, there is more to it than the much quoted indictments of probability professionals and the predictions about Fannie Mae and the simultaneous failures of interconnected banking interests. Taleb gives us a book that combines a trader's experience with an academic's rigor, leaving us with something not quite math, not quite philosophy, and definitely not common sense, but certainly worth more than all three.

The central premise of Taleb's book is that the world does not move along a slow, predictable continuum. Rather, it moves along a slow continuum of events until seemingly random, unpredictable events come along to make massive changes, upheavals that alter lives, but, for some reason, not perceptions. He calls these events "Black Swans."

Taleb systematically dismantles the silent epistemology of every day life, questions the ways that we choose to spend our time and money, exposes all prediction professionals as frauds, and shows a new way of looking at the world that is both repulsive to our instincts and an accurate description of our world.

Highly recommended reading from the author of Fooled By Randomness.

Live Jungle, Breakcore, etc.

I've been checking out some live drumming on jungle, hardcore, breakcore, dnb stuff lately. The things that people manage to do with drums . . . wow. Just amazing.

First, here's the coolest one I've seen online.

A guy named Mike Glozier, and he's doing something that I wouldn't have thought possible. He is playing the percussion to Gentlemen, by Venetian Snares, live. Even if you're not into it, wait a minute and see how amazing this guy is.

The next impressive jungle drummer is named Kevin Sawka. Here he is doing a sample of fast beats:

Some more great work from Eddie Pollard:

The Design of Everyday Things

I finally finished this book after months of trying, and I'm glad I did. It's one of the most interesting and personally gratifying things I've read in a long time, and it gives me an entirely new respect for the simple details that make life easy, or at least possible.

Donald Norman's masterpiece on interface design principles examines the thoughts and ideas that go into product and software design, the many ways that they are misleading, and suggests many new ways to look at the purpose of design in general. Perhaps Norman's greatest achievement is addressing the problem of self-esteem versus design sense.

Throughout the book, Norman invites us to look at the millions of confusing, frustrating, and potentially dangerous mistakes we make operating everyday equipment, and to consider how design is at least partially responsible. He also speaks at length about the thought processes that go into using something, the universal language of interactivity, and how design trends actually serve to degrade the user experience serving no other purpose than winning awards.

Designers are constantly hobbled by the amazing shortcomings of the public who will one day use the products they design. But, it's important to realize that the point of design is not just aesthetics, but also utility and ease. Norman's book is the last book any designer should read, because it puts everything else in a logical perspective, with a user-focused agenda that reminds you to never blame a consumer for an error that could have been prevented by better design.

Surrogates: Flesh and Bone

In the 2009 prequel to one of my favorite graphic novels ever, Venditti and Weldele give us a glimpse into the past and reveal the events that will eventually lead to the story in Surrogates.

Brett Weldele's moody, atmospheric drawing once again dazzles, straddling the line between comics and graphic design, with a signature style that puts him in the upper echelon of current greats like Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith. The art is strong and loud, with linework that feels raw and gritty.

Robert Venditti's story is a bit hobbled by the fact that it has to get to a certain place at a certain time, and feels, at times, more interested in continuity than nuance. But, it remains clear that his work is more that what we see in most comics: a clear vision of a possible future; speculative fiction transformed into a new medium, and done for great effect. If he decides to continue the series, I'd love to see a story that is barely even tangential to the main arc, maybe something with completely different characters. I understand that the Prophet story is what's really happening, but it seems that every city must have a million other stories going on.

In summary, I guess my expectations were too high. Surrogates, in my opinion, is one of the best comics ever written, with a unique and realistic voice about where the world is going. It speaks through allegory about real problems in our time: racism, sexism, self-image, the cult of vanity. Don't get me started on the butchering that Ferris, Brancato and Mostow gave it. The movie was disappointing beyond mentioning, especially the last scene. And why did they get rid of the burglar surrie with the laser whip?

It's not fair to compare Flesh and Bone to what may be Venditti's masterpiece. It's a very good comic that has something important to say about race and class in a frightening future, a future that may be just around the corner. The pacing and action start off strong, but it fails to deliver a memorable climax. What begins with violence ends with politics, making the work seem excessively front-heavy.