Archive for the ‘Manhwa’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RUSH-A Farewell to Kings (1977).

Although I recently said that Caress of Steel is one of my favorite Rush albums, I’m really torn between a number of their albums from the 1970s.  I’ve loved A Farewell to Kings since the time I got it: it’s over the top, and it showcases all of the band’s strengths.

The opener “A Farewell to Kings” features a wonderful classical guitar intro that morphs into a heavy rocking masterpiece.  There’s time changes galore and it’s all over in just about 5 minutes.

It’s followed by “Xanadu,” one of Rush’s all time great epics.  Tubular bells, cool guitar effects, Rush’s first great use of keyboards-as-effects, even a cowbell solo all open this song with sufficient grandeur for what’s to come.  A slow vocal intro leads to a super fast exploration of Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.”  Whenever people wondered why Neil’s drumset was so big or why Alex (and Geddy) had doublenecked guitars, they needed only listen to this to be amazed that three men could play it all.  11 minutes long and not a wasted second.

One of Rush’s biggest hits and perennial favorite “Closer to the Heart” comes next and it still sounds pretty fresh all these years later.  “Cinderella Man” is an overlooked track on this disc, but it showcases Rush’s drift away from the individualism vs state of 2112, and move toward the individualism of doing what’s right for all: “he held up his riches to challenge the hungry.”  It also features a blistering solo from Alex.  “Madrigal” is a very short acoustic song, quite a departure for the time but a nice delicate track before….

“Cygnus X-1.”  The other epic on this disc.  And right from the start you know you’re in new territory here.  A fully distorted voice, bells echoing like they are floating at sea (or in outer space), all kinds of build-up lead to a noisy bass line coming from far away in the depths of space.  And after 2 and a half minutes of build up, the whole band kicks in with this off kilter heavy rocker.  It’s basically the story of a space ship flying into a black hole. It also features some of Geddy’s most screechy vocals.  I wish I could remember the exact quote, but my friend Joe’s bandmate had a wonderfully derogatory description of the end of this song.

But aside from the end, the main body is great.  From the 5 minute mark, the song is a catchy, driving song as the Rocinante flies through the galaxy.  From the 7 minute mark, the song is seemingly caught in the black hole, as the song drifts about, compressing the song into a manic session of fast fast fast riffs and Geddy’s tortured screams.  It’s pretty intense, and guaranteed to alienate as many people as it wins.

The album features so much experimentation, and it’s wonderful to see a band with so much creative energy release a disc with so many fantastic moments.  Very few records take risks like this anymore.

[READ: March 21, 2010] The Color of Heaven

This final book of the Kim Dog Hwa’s trilogy is a wonderful conclusion to this sweet story.  If you’ve read my previous two posts about these books, you know that this is the story of, Ehwa, a young woman as she matures in rural Korea several generations ago.  By this third book, she has turned 17 and has met the love of her life.  Sadly for her, Duksam has had to leave suddenly.  At the end of book two, he set sail in part because he was fleeing an angry mob, but also in an attempt to make money as a fisherman so that he can save up for his beloved Ehwa. (more…)

Read Full Post »


My roommate Glen is the only person that I know who not only owned this record but also played it a lot.  No doubt it was his relentless playing of this disc that now leads me to think of it rather fondly, even if it is pretty poorly regarded as far as BOC discs go.

It has a very poppy/80’s metal feel to it, there’s no denying.  Some of the songs are beautiful keyboard-rich tracks (“Perfect Water” which is close to cheesey but I don’t think ever crosses the line), some of them are pummeling 80s metal with chanted choruses “Make Rock Not War” (boom), and “Beat ‘Em Up” (which is as delightfully silly as it sounds).

It also featured a song that could have been a hit called “Dancing in the Ruins.”  The less bombastic metal songs are also quite catchy, like “Shadow Warrior.”  And the final song, “Madness to the Method” reminds me of one of their 70s songs, “The Marshall Plan” as it’s complete with spoken word sections and seems to be about rocking out.

I suppose compared to their 70s heyday, this falls a little short, but as an 80s metal album it’s quite solid.

[READ: March 12, 2010] The Color of Water

This is the second part of Kim Dong Hwa’s trilogy of the maturation of Ehwa (a character loosely based on his mother).  It is beautiful, engaging and very very real.

Ehwa is growing up in rural Korea. Her father died many years ago, so it is just her and her mother living together.  Her mother owns the local tavern, and for much of the day Ehwa is free to roam around and learn things from her friends.

This second part of the trilogy focuses on Ehwa’s budding sexual maturity.  She learns  more and more about what her mother and the “picture man” are feeling when he arrives at their house.  She learns, through her friend Bongsoon, what it feels like to experience individual pleasure.  She also learns what it feels like to fall heavily for someone when she meets the handsome and strong Duksam. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: KISS-Hotter Than Hell (1974).

Kiss’s second album came out just 7 months after their debut (which explains why it is less than half an hour long).

In my mind the album sounds different because it is somehow Japanese (I mean the cover is something of an indicator).  But it’s not Asian in any way.  Although, the album definitely sounds different than the debut and it’s clearly a recording style choice.

But this is one of the beloved early Kiss albums and I love every track, even the really crazy ones (“Goin’ Blind” is about a 93 year-old man lusting after a 16 year-old girl(!)).

The album starts with the crazily poppy “Got to Choose” complete with whoo hoo hoos in the chorus.  It’s followed by the blistering “Parasite” a fantastic fast riff with some cool vocal tricks at the end of each verse.  “Goin’ Blind” also features some cool slow riffs that are quite distinctive.  The title track & “Let Me Go, Rock n’ Roll” are pretty well known, and “Let Me Go” was played for many years live.

The second side is a bit more odd and seems to showcase Peter a lot more.  “All the Way” is a poppy Gene track and I’m not entirely sure what it’s all about (surprisingly not that “all the way” since “one of these days you’ll push me all the way”).  “Watchin’ You” is a great, dark song which has a really cool cowbell-fueled midsection, and gives Peter a great workout on drums.  “Mainline” is Peter’s poppy vocal track (like really poppy), while “Comin’ Home” is a Paul-sung song about (sort of like “100,000 Years”) returning home to his beloved.  “Strange Ways” is Peter’s other contribution.  This one is dark and really quite cool, with an awesomely wild, freaky guitar solo from Ace.

It’s something of an overlooked record, which is a shame as there’s some good stuff on it.

[READ: December 21, 2009] The Color of Earth

This is my first manhwa comic and I adore it.  Manhwa is (if I may be offensively simplistic) basically Korean manga (at least it is often marketed that way).  However, there are many many differences in style and tone.  And, if this manhwa is in any way representative of them all, (and of course it isn’t, but we can simplify) they are gorgeous!

Sarah received this trilogy of books by Kim Dong Hwa (The Color of Earth, The Color of Water, The Color of Heaven) and after reading this first one, I’m really excited about the rest.

The story is very simple: it follows the growth and development of Ehwa from age 7 to age 15 as she matures in a Korean village several generations ago.  The setting is extremely rural, and there are almost no amenities to be seen.  Ehwa’s father died when she was very young, so she lives with her mother in their tiny house.

Her mother owns an inn, and she must tolerate the crude comments and innuendos of her drunken customers.  Unfortunately for Ehwa, she learns a lot about the world from what she hears there.  She also gets an education from the village boys, who are foolish and impetus as little boys are (asking her why she doesn’t have a penis, and, later, to show them her persimmon seed). (more…)

Read Full Post »