Archive for the ‘Aristotle’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: UraShimaSakataSen (浦島坂田船)-Shoutër (2016).

When I looked up “Shouter” I found this song (I love the umlaut).

I’ve never heard of UraShimaSakataSen (浦島坂田船), or USSS for short.  But I love that this is their description:

USSS is a 4-unit indie pop boy group consisting of Uratanuki (Green), Shima (Purple), Sakata (Red) and Senra (Yellow).

I didn’t spend a lot of time researching this band, but every image of them seems to be manga.  And the video for this song is entirely manga (hilariously only four still images recycled).  Each singer is a color and each singer has a background of that color.  And each time that singer sings the screen turns that color.

I particularly like that Green has a cuddle creature on his shoulder implying some kind of fascinating back story, I’m sure.

Most of the lyrics are in Japanese, but there is an occasional English section like the one that mentions the title:


For a pop band, this song doesn’t quite sound as poppy as I’d have thought.

It starts with a flute and loud electronic drums as the soft vocals come in.  The flute returns and it segues to heavy guitars and kind of rapped section as the song bounces along.

The chorus has heavy guitars and a grungey stomp before all four sing whatever it is the chorus is.

The melding of heavy metal guitars, traditional sounding flute, dance drums and pop melody and fast singing is (at least for 2016) so uniquely Japanese.

Babymetal has released their first album two year earlier.  While this is in no way a heavy metal song (and sounds nothing like Babymetal), the use of the really heavy guitars in this song has to be attributed to Babymetal’s success.

Then I had to check out the lyrics.  Someone has spelled out the English lyrics online.  Holy cow this is a really dark song.  And, how many pop songs name check Joan of Arc, Aristotle and Nietzche?  Is UraShimaSakataSen some kind of existential anime boy band?  The plot thickens.

Maybe we cry while we’re born
And smile when we die because we’re happy
All our words pile up
Our voices continue to reach its limits as we search for the meaning of shouting
Input, Verify, Accept, Start.
Being raised in a made-up and empty pitch black world
I play alone
A little light shines from the window like a lamp
One or two texts stand out
I wonder what I should play tonight.
Should I talk, dance, or draw…
Walk out to spaces and change
Going back and forth from reality and delusions
All ya flags throw away; struggle through it.
After spending extra time eating dinner and taking a bath
I say the magic words.
Listen to my voice
What should we shout in an empty world?
The people who “encourage” us, like a gallant figure Jeanne d’Arc
What should we shout in an empty world?
We chase after people who cause “conflict”, and want to be like Einstein…
Shout! Yeah Yeah Yeah
Until our voices continues to reach its limits
Stopped, Reload, Reenter, Restart.
I see. It’s because I wasn’t taught to be a good loser?
I only keep on losing my way
So I wonder what I should do with my future?
Right hand, left hand, you, and a survey
Let’s talk more; it’s prolonging the battle
Really, thank you for everything.
Shocking sound and tonight; you’re the guest of honor
Here, so to say, is the electronic secret base
Enjoy tour and travel; I’m the guide
It’s the era for minority groups and puffing out your chest.
These are words to destroy weapons
Listen to my voice
What should we shout in an empty world?
We “petition” to understand people, like the unfortunate Alan Turing.
Comforting people in lamentation about Friedrich Nietzsche…
Shout! Yeah Yeah Yeah
Until our voices continue to reach its limits
If the us that cry while we’re born
Smile when we die,
Then, y’know
I’ll make noise with you all every night
Until our voices reach its limits.
That’s the answer I got from shouting daily.
The empty world disappears and returns to normal.
Each person lives together and waits for reality in a faraway place
In an empty world, I wonder what’s left?
I want to play here one more time.
Please listen to my voice
What should we shout in an empty world?
“Confessions” tie people to the truthful Aristotle.
What should we shout in an empty world?
“Promises” tempt people like Shakespeare…
Shout! Yeah Yeah Yeah
Until your voice reaches its limit

[READ: June 20, 2019] “Shouters”

I think it’s fascinating the way that Shouts & Murmurs tends to make funny people… less funny.  Is it the nature of the New Yorker, that the comedy is such that it’s at a different wavelength?  (Not higher or lower, just different).

Or maybe these pieces aren’t really supposed to be all that funny.

Steve Martin is one of the funniest people ever and yet this idea is so blandly unfunny, that I don’t understand why he wrote it.

I enjoyed the opening… (more…)

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walrusaprilSOUNDTRACK: GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR-Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! [CST081] (2012).

330px-Godspeed_You!_Black_Emperor_-_Allelujah!_Don't_Bend!_Ascend!After ten years, GY!BE came back with a new album.  It fits on one CD, but, just to be different, the band released the vinyl as one 12″ and one 7″ record.  The 12″ contains the two longer songs and the 7″ contains the two shorter ones.

“Mladic” (20 minutes) opens with sampled voices: “with his arms outstretched.”  Then comes a hurdy-gurdy and violins and droning sounds with incidental guitar notes.  This goes on for about 4 minutes before the drums and ringing chords slowly enter the song.  By about 6 and a half minutes, a buzzy guitar starts playing a feedback-squalling riff, while a second guitar follows along (in the other ear).  And by 7 and a half minutes, the drums begin and the song really takes off.  At around 9 minutes a new riff begins, slightly Middle Eastern sounding.  The whole band joins in, including some fierce drumming and the song gets bigger and bigger.  Then around 11 minutes, everything drops off except for bass and drums.  And that’s when the noisy chaotic guitar solos begin.  Things slow down, but don’t great less intense.   And then at 14 and a half minutes, everything pretty much drops out save a cello and feedback.  But that’s only a precursor to the big riff that follows.  Things slow down one more time, although it’s more of a quiet rumble with the drums going throughout.  And then they launch into the final cascade of music, saving the last 2 minutes for echoes, feedback and a rackety percussion section.  It’ fantastic.

“We Drift Like Worried Fire” (20 minutes) opens slowly with pizzicato violin notes and other sounds in the background.  A guitar riff starts at around 3 minutes which leads the song in a very different direction.  A slow violin plays over the top of the guitar riff.  The violin and drums grow more complex and at 6 minutes, the ringing guitar overtakes the rest of the music.  At around 8 minutes a series of ringing guitar “solos” enter the song. Combined with the percussive noise and the bass, it’s surprisingly catchy.  When everything drops out and there’s simply a violin playing, it seems like the song will end, but no.  Guitars play around the violin and then at 12 minutes, a new section develops around a two-note motif and complex percussion.  I love the ominous direction the song takes those two notes, and when the steady beat kicks in at 15 minutes, it makes the whole thing that much more intense.  It resolves itself into a wonderfully catchy melody.  At 17 minutes everything drops away except for a ringing guitar and strings. It seems like it might be an ending coda, but soon enough the drums come back and the song picks up again heading towards a proper climax, complete with crazed drumming that takes us until nearly the end of the song.  Another really satisfying conclusion.

The two shorter pieces are on the 7″ disc.  “Their Helicopters’ Sing” begins with a droning sound in the background.  And nearly all of its 6 minutes sound like screechy violins trying to break through the rumbling drone.  It more or less resolves itself by the end of the song into something a bit more tuneful.

“Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable” is the final 6 minute song.  Like “Helicopters” it is primarily a drone song.  This one is a little prettier at the beginning, with some delicate notes punctuating the noise, but it’s the screeching violin and feedbacking guitar that really create the noise.  By four and a half minutes that all drops away into a gentle, but still disconcerting, drone.

I don’t really love the droney stuff compared to the longer songs.  I find the two long songs to be some of their best work.  Perhaps if the droney parts were actually a part of the whole piece they would work better.

  • Thierry Amar – bass guitar, double bass, cello
  • David Bryant – electric guitar, dulcimer, Portasound, kemençe
  • Bruce Cawdron – drums, vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel
  • Aidan Girt – drums
  • Karl Lemieux – 16mm frames artwork, photography [new]
  • Efrim Menuck – guitar, hurdy-gurdy
  • Mauro Pezzente – bass guitar
  • Mike Moya – guitar [replaced Roger Tellier-Craig]
  • Mauro Pezzente – bass guitar [new]
  • Sophie Trudeau – violin, Casio SK-5
  • [exit Norsola Johnson – cello]


[READ: April 10, 2016] “Hackles”

This issue of The Walrus was pretty bleak and this story is similarly bleak (what’s going on in Canada?).

The story is about a woman (told in first person) and her reflections back on a summer when she was fifteen, living in Enniskillen.  Her memories revolve around two dogs: Mort and Julie.  When she first encountered them they were guarding a farm house.  They saw her and snarled and growled at her causing her to trip and fall, but they would not cross their property line.  She says the thing that amazed her was their self-restraint–they never put one paw onto the road.

She began stopping by, looking at the dogs, for six or seven visits when the farmer’s son happened by.  He had come to tell the dogs to stop barking and then her saw her. (more…)

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About five years ago I mentioned all of The Beautiful South records in one post.  But I didn’t really talk about them all that much.

This comes from one of my favorite Beautiful South records–I like all the songs equally, but I often have this song in my head.  And the reason I picked it right now is because Paul Heaton sings about a bunch of things each one ending with “either you are simply beautiful or I am simply dumb.”

And these are: “It doesn’t take a mathematician to add a simple sum”; “It doesn’t take a labrador to show a blind man sun”; and this one: “It doesn’t take Robert The Bruce to see the web you’ve spun.”

I had no idea who Robert the Bruce was and I never bothered to look it up.  And yet, as you will see below in the post, Robert the Bruce is mentioned in JR!  I was flabbergasted.  And this song immediately popped into my head.

And that’s not a bad thing.  It’s a pretty piano ballad with a seemingly negative chorus (dumb, dumb, dumb) despite its positive message.  There’s also a beautiful ending: “The sun, the sky, the moon, the stars/Jupiter, Neptune and Mars/All these things I clearly see/It don’t take a telescope for you to love me.”  The songs ends with Jacqui Abbot’s lovely echo of this stanza.

The Beautiful South were a great band, they broke up a few years ago.  Paul Heaton has a number of solo albums out but they’re not available in the states, so…

[READ: Week of August 6, 2012] JR Week 8

This week’s read finds us primarily in the apartment.  We see bast return home and fool around with Rhoda before he goes off on his trip to the funeral.  We see Gibbs come in and try (in vain) to get work done.  We actually get to see Gibbs’ magnum opus (or parts of it), and we see him fall off the high that he felt with Emily.

There’s a lot of funny stuff in this week’s read.  It seems like the darker the story gets, the more childish jokes Gaddis throws in there.  Seeing Gibbs unable to work on his manuscript because of all of the (real and fake) distractions is simultaneously hilarious and spot on.  And also, the plotlines are really revving up now.  JR Corp is starting to see some pushback on their deals, and a number of outsiders are starting to get angry.  There’s bound to be a collapse of some sort soon.  I’m also starting to think that with all of the ellipses in the book that it will end with a dot dot dot.

As we resume, Davidoff and Bast are still talking.  Davidoff tells Bast “Don’t worry about” something [Thanks to Simon for pointing out this expression–I recognized that Davidoff always says “brush fires,” but not the don’t worry about it].  He is concerned that Bast’s hearing aid isn’t turned up (ha), but that the Boss [JR] wants Bast’s signature on any expenditures over $2,000 (It was originally $200, but Davidoff said Bast would get writer’s cramp).  He explains the title change in the magazine from Her to She–passive to active readership–will cost $14,000.  There’s also $27,000 for a new logo.  And the logos are awesomely cheesy–hard to believe they paid $27,000 for them.  They revolve around the dollar sign, with the least offensive one making a J and R out of the top and bottom of the S–the others have a snake, or breasts or thumbing your nose or even someone behind bars.  They pick the least offensive one that says Just Rite in a dollar sign (“something patriotic about the dollar sign”).  They’re going to put them on half a million matchbooks. (more…)

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In my head, no band garners as much debate as Weezer.  According to this article, a man offered them $10 million to break up.  Even I go back and forth about whether they are great pop song writers or incredible sell outs.  I mean, look at one of the items on their thanks list for Hurley: “Dodge–makers of the timeless Challenger.”  Is this ironic or not and if not, does it matter?  I’m also torn by Rivers Cuomo’s Harvard degree, which I would think means he would write intellectually rigorous songs–and yet he never does.

But what of it?  Let’s talk about the music.  It has dawned on me that the closest band to compare them to is Cheap Trick.  They write poppy songs with often heavy guitars that are completely sing along-y but are in no way alternative to anything.  And yet everyone loves Cheap Trick, so why not love Weezer, too?

Hurley is no different.  Each song is 3 minutes of pure pop (for crying out loud Desmond Child is on one track–put one in the sell out column).  But they also have some odd fans on this disc: the crew from Jackass sings backing vocals on “Memories” and Michael Cera plays mandolin and sings backing vocals on “Hang On” (although you can’t hear any of them really).  “Hang On,” by the way is their most Cheap Trick-y song to date.

“Unspoken” features a flute and acoustic guitars until about two minutes into a three-minute song.  Then it bursts out of acousticland and into heavy rocking guitars.  The one song I don’t get is “Where My Sex?” which I suppose is the controversial song on the disc.  He’s clearly talking about socks but he keeps saying sex.  I really have no idea why.  It’s not funny, even remotely.  It’s just an odd decision.  And I would say I rather dislike the song, but the chorus is great, as is the totally unexpected third section (which is like  pop song unto itself) that comes in 2 and a half minutes out of nowhere.

“Smart Girls” has to be ironic, but who knows anymore.  To me the most interesting song is “Brave New World.”  It eschews the standard big-chords-for-choruses format they’ve been using with a much heavier guitar and single guitar notes in the verses.  (Although the chorus is, once again super catchy).

My version of Hurley has bonus tracks which are separated by an interesting 10 seconds of string music.  The bonus tracks include a cover of a song from Yo Gabba Gabba ( I really must watch that show some time).  There’s also a great cover of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” (in many ways Weezer is like a harder rocking version of Coldplay in terms of success and obvious sellout possibilities).  Although this live version shows that Rivers’ voice is no match for Chris Martin’s.

“I want to Be Someone” is an earnest acoustic solo track while “Represent” (Rocked Out Mix) is one of the heaviest things they’ve done.  I assumed the original was on Raditude, but it’s not.  Evidently it’s the unofficial song of the U.S. World Cup soccer team.  Huh, who knew?

So yes, it seems that they’re pretty much sell outs.  And yet for thirty minutes (all of their discs are so nicely short) it’s easy to stop worrying about “indie or not” and just sing along.

[READ: November 7, 2010] Fate, Time and Language: An Essay on Free Will

First I wanted to thank Columbia University Press for sending me an Uncorrected Proof of this book. I was pretty excited to read it, but to get it a few weeks early was even cooler (and, no, this won’t have any impact on my review).

Second, I wanted to state exactly what this book IS (because I wasn’t entirely sure myself).  The book is a reprinting of David Foster Wallace’s philosophy graduate undergrad thesis.  However, rather than just publishing the thesis (and giving us a short book or a long book with one sentence per page), Columbia University Press has packed the book with a great many essays that help to contextualize the thesis.  The Preface by Steven H. Cahn & Maureen Eckert explains this quite neatly.

So, my (briefer) version of the background: DFW’s thesis is about Richard Taylor’s article “Fatalism” (1962).  CUP has also included Taylor’s initial article (so we can see what DFW is talking about).  And even more than that, when Taylor’s article was initially published, it caused a bit of controversy and a lot of responses.  So, to get a sense of everything that DFW was working with (and against), this book also includes the intellectual dialogue: articles that range from four to ten pages (and also include a dense of Taylor by Steven H. Cahn himself (published in 1964).

Part II of the book includes an introduction by Maureen Eckhart and DFW’s essay.

Part III is a brief look at DFW as a student written by a former professor, Jay Garfield.

Before I get to the meat of the book itself, I wanted to say that I didn’t know anything about this essay.  And I’d thought about this thesis as possibly an interesting piece of philosophy from an author whose work I greatly admired.    Well the introduction to this book states in pretty certain terms that my thinking about this thesis is a massive understatement.  For, in fact, DFW’s thesis undermined Taylor’s argument in ways that no other argument had been able to do before.  His thesis more or less repudiated Taylor’s original essay.  The thesis also won the Amherst University Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize in Philosophy (and a wonderful piece of trivia: DFW’s father James won the same prize in 1959).  So, yes, this isn’t just a graduate undergrad thesis, this is real philosophy.

On to the book: (more…)

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