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Archive for the ‘Math’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ROBERT SCHNEIDER-“Reverie in Prime Time Signatures” (2009).

Robert Schneider is the lead singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer of The Apples in Stereo.  He also received a PhD in mathematics from Emory University in 2018.

So he seems like the perfect person to write this complex score (even if he wrote it before he got his PhD).

In the back of the book, Schneider explains in pretty great detail how he chose to write what he did.

He also says that the music was written and and first performed at an experiemntal reading of the original script at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton on Dec 12 2009. Schneider played synth along with cellist Heather McIntosh and clarinet Alex Kontorovich.  The musical score is included in the book and you can hear it here

The piece is two minutes with harpsichord and a lead cello and flute with a synthesizer underneath.

It is mournful and quite pretty.

For a song that is all about odd time signatures, it somehow doesn’t feel awkward or choppy.  I don’t know enough about time signatures to even tell where the different parts are–I can’t hear it at all.  But I find the piece to be quite nice.  And it is reasonable to think that the victims could have the melody stuck in their heads.

 

[READ: June 19, 2019] Prime Suspects

Raise your hand if you want a graphic novel (illustrated by Robert J. Lewis) that is a CSI-styled investigation but is actually a pretty thorough look into higher mathematics.

I have a hard time summing up what this book is all about because I didn’t get all the math that’s going on here.  But the story itself is pretty fun and easy to follow.

The book opens with two cops finding a dead body in a tunnel  There’s also a documentary crew filming everything for the show MSI: Mathematical Science investigation.

A man in a hat and trench coat welcomes us to his world–a world where you don’t have to understand everything to know something.  Where a legendary mathematics professor became the subject of a documentary.

That professor is Professor Gauss. His assistant Mr Langer is in the precinct with Gauss to talk about what hey have found.

Langer is a formally educated student.  A bit uptight and stuffy.  One day in Professor Gauss’ class a young woman with a ring in her nose and unique fashion sense came in.   Her name is Emmy Germain and she proves to be incredibly smart.  But she is self-educated–an abomination to Langer.  But she turns out to be a delightful surprise to the documentary crew that is inexplicably filming Guass’ class. (more…)

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download - 2020-05-20T121917.708SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“Is David Bowie Dying” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

This six minute track starts with scraping and electronic sounds and a two note guitar melody that rise sand falls. Neon Indian, an electronic chillwave band, is the guest on this song

Around 2 minutes the music turns optimistic and soaring and then it  mellows out with trippy sounds. The lyrics change to

At the mountain, you scream
Now the fountain reveals
As you do want and make you whole
Goodbye, goodbye

The mellowness lasts for about a minute then the angular guitars returns.  This second half feels less harsh and more trippy, although the wild effects are still in place.  This sequence runs through to the end as they repeat

Take your legs and run
Into the death-rays of the sun

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #10

This limited series ends with this issue.

Katchoo is the voice over as she worries about the five years the earth has left to exist–she will have this hanging over her head as she returns home.

Francine reports that her mother is doing fine–she has the will to be alive to watch her grandchildren grow up.  This, of course, makes Katchoo even sadder.

Back home, the girls are up in the air vent wondering why Aunt Libby is crying.  But she’s not.  It turns out that there is a heavily tattooed man with a gun telling her that he plans to kidnap the two little girls because the dykes who live there have a lot of money and he intends to get the ransom for them. (more…)

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download - 2020-05-20T121901.285SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“Do It!” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

This three-minute interlude is mostly thumping drums and percussive noises with a repeated sample of someone (I assume Yoko Ono) saying “Do It!”

There’ a grooving bass line.  With all of the attention paid to Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd, it’s easy to overlook how good a bassist Michael Ivins (and has been with Wayne from the beginning).  I assume that’s him playing on this song.

The samples are tinkered with as the bass propels the song forward.  It’s a nifty little transition piece.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #9

The cover image of this issue has nothing whatever to do with the contents.  That is true for many of the issues, but it’s disturbing for this one because it suggest something is going to happen but it’s actually something similar but ultimately very different.

In New England, Katchoo doesn’t want to believe that the woman walking across the snow is Lilith.  She doesn’t want to believe any of this.

They go inside and there’s a cookie jar.  Zoe goes to take one but Lilith says that they are for the raccoon who likes to sneak in at night and pillage my kitchen.
Zoe: “You have a raccoon?”
Lilith: “Not anymore.”

They look at the scroll  Rachel reads it “This is how he did it and this is how you undo it”  Then she looks at Lilith and snarls, “Why did you write this?”

Zoe asks He who?  Jet say they’re talking about God an how to blow us all kingdom come. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“I’m working at NASA on Acid” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

This song starts out with NASA voices and beeps.   The beeps turn into a rhythm and after a cool echoing guitar the song takes on almost a spaghetti western feel.  even with the bowed cello

The song features Lightning Bolt, a noise rock duo, and I assume they join in the fun in the middle of the song.

After three minutes, a pretty guitar melody leads to a sped up voice saying 1, 2,3, 4 as it soars into the next chaotic and wild section.  The riff speeds up, the drums and distortion increase and the song feels like an epic take off into outer space.

It runs for about two minutes and then slows down.  Way down.  After a backwards countdown 4,3,2,1, the song resumes as a gentle folk song kind of like “Space Oddity.”  It’s pretty cool.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #8

Katchoo is flying to Boston.  The voice over has a nice moment where we see just how much she loves Francine.

She lands and heads to Jet’s garage.  She tells Jet that she has something to give her.

They get into Katchoo’s car which is surrounded by ravens.  They seem to be following her.  I love Terry Moore’s art throughout this series.  He does realistic portrayals of women perfectly (even if sometimes I can’t tell some of the women apart).  I love the way he draws Jet so distinctively as well.  But those ravens, um, not so much.

Jet has no idea what the container is and when Katchoo explains the contents she thinks Katchoo is joking. Why did Stephanie send her to Jet if Jet doesn’t know what it is? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“You Man? Human???” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

Nick Cave’s most recent music has been quiet pretty and tender.  It’s easy to forget that he has often been a wild man of Australian punk.  His Grinderman albums emphasized that noisy history of his and this song seems perfect for Cave.

In fact, this track seems like a song he could have released with the Birthday Party forty years ago. It’s abrasive and kind of rambling–although with more modern production and sounds. It also has a slow pummeling bass notes with lots of chaotic drumming.

Unlike most of the songs on the record which have falsetto vocals, Cave’s deep voice really stands out.  He is reciting a fairly crazy story of pools and chlorine and how you can touch him if you want.

Quintessential Cave mixed with a few Lips.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #7

Katchoo was falling off a cliff.  In the wide shot we see there is water down below (and a small boat).

She lands in the water and rockets down pretty far (some creepy eels greet her before she takes off back up to the surface).

The man on the boat tries to fend her off with a long pike, but he’s no match for Katchoo who avoids the gun shots until the boat takes off.

Back home, we see Francine and her (cool) Aunt Libby in some relative domestic happiness–Katchoo hasn’t warned her about he gunman yet.

Koo resists taking out the garbage. Francine asks, “when do you want to do it”  “Later when I grow up.”

When she puts the trash in the bin, she smells…something.  Which we see is a pile of cigarette butts and a shoe.  But she is called in before she sees what it is.

Katchoo goes to a small hotel.  There’s a man sleeping in the tub.  I’m unclear what that is meant to signify, but Katchoo leaves before he wakes up.

The book ends back home with Koo unable to sleep (she is reading I Hate Fairyland, by Skottie Young).  She heads downstairs (at 3AM) and sees a male shadow looking in their glass windows. Yipes!

Don’t mess with these cute kids, you hear me!

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“Children of the Moon” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

Lately, Jim James has been going in a more mellow direction after the pretty heavy psychedelia of Circuital in 2011.  But this song stays in that heavy psychedelic vein with a big distorted guitar riff and distorted vocals from James (and Coyne, I assume).

It’s that weird mix of creepy and catchy that the Lips do so well.  You can clearly hear James on the lead vocals, but who knows who is contributing vocals to the rest (the oh oh ohs).  The guitar solo is all distorted and reversed–a noisy explosion of sound.

This song is barely four minutes and it’s followed by another noisy short one before the album segues back into quieter terrain.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #6

Katchoo was given coordinates to meet Stephanie.  The coordinates put her way off the grid in Colombia.  As she waits, a guy on a moped drives up and a monkey hops off and delivers a package (that’s pretty adorable, honestly).

Katchoo can only assume things are bad since Stephanie didn’t show.  She can’t imagine what is in the satchel (she hopes it’s not Francine’s head).

But no, it is a tube and in the tube is an ancient piece of papyrus–Cleopatra’s mathematical ideas. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“Children of the Moon” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

I’m not exactly sure when Tame Impala became huge.  I actually didn’t even realize they were huge until this past summer when I saw them. I’d always just liked their modern psychedelia.  I gather they’ve been huge for a while.  But I don’t think they were huge in 2012 when this album came out.  So really, Tame Impala was just another cool indie rocker singing along with the Flaming Lips.

None of the songs on this album are particularly “poppy” what with all the distortion and noise on them.  But this song is certainly one of the catchiest.  The guitar melody (which is very Flaming Lips) is simple and instantly grabbing.  The vocals are high falsetto–which are probably Wayne and Kevin Parker together.

After a trippy middle instrumental, the song resumes with acoustic guitar an a nice sing along.  It feels like a solid combination of The Lips and Tame Impala.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #5

The island that Katchoo woke up on is called Bonbi, a private island in the Riviera.  The person waiting for her is Tambi.

Tambi proceeds to give Katchoo a history lesson about Cleopatra and the history of Base Phi Mathematics.

I don’t know that much about Cleopatra, so I’m going to assume that the history here is true.  I don’t know a thing about Base Phi Mathematics, so I don’t know whether Cleopatra knew anything about it. I’ll assume Moore did his research.

Anyhow, Base Phi Mathematics is also the foundation for he Alaskan Collider that exploded and caused all the trouble for Katchoo.  (Yup, I’m skimming the hard science). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-Gumboot Soup (2017).

At the beginning of 2017, KGATLW promised that the would release five albums in the year.  They released four and as the year drew to an end it looked like we might not get that promised fifth release.  And then on the last day of the year, Dec 31, they released Gumboot Soup.

Surely this one–squeezed in on the last day of the year–must be a mishmash of the crap that they didn’t put on their other records, right?  Or maybe acoustic versions of existing songs?  Or something equally lame?

Indeed, not.  For KGATLW are nothing if not full of ideas.

Their previous albums were thematic.  This one is certainly more of a collection of songs rather than an album.  And yet, this collection is not crap.  Mackenzie described thee album as a “place for us to put a lot of different ideas that we’re trying to experiment with in the song, rather than within the whole record. And for me, some of my favorite songs of the year are on [Gumboot]. It’s more song-oriented than album-oriented.”

So the album isn’t unified, but that diversity somehow makes it even more compelling.

“Beginner’s Luck” is a beautiful sweet delicate song.  The opening is quiet guitar and the clearest vocals yet from Stu.  It’s a dreamy, gentle song, as if they were influenced by the Mild High Club sessions to write a pretty, retro pop song.  There’s great bass on this song as well and I love that Ambrose adds some lead vocals to the chorus.  There’s some lovely flute and backing vocals.  As the song reaches its end it gets louder and more distorted with a wild wah wah guitar solo and the whole band joining in to rock.  This seems to mock the sweetness of the beginning.

It’s followed by “Greenhouse Heat Death” which reintroduces some microtonal melodies and a rumbling groove.  This song is an environmental song with Stu singing in his darker, distorted voice about the degradation of the Earth (from the Earth’s point of view–“my house has fried, all life has died”).

“Barefoot Desert” comes out of that darkness with a wonderfully bright song–flutes, some terrific bass lines, and Ambrose’s always-chipper vocals.  The riff is dynamite too.  There’s even a very Beatles-esque middle instrumental section before the song lopes off again.

“Muddy Water” is a really catchy fast-paced stomper with some call and response vocals (I love at the end when Ambrose starts singing “I prefer the muddy water” back to Stu).  The riffing is great and it all feels very reckless, like they (or we) can’t stop.  The introduction of (two) saxophones is pretty unusual and a nifty twist on their sound.

“Superposition” is a soft almost robotically smoothed out song.  Everything is high and floaty–the flute, the vocals, the bass.  It’s a pretty different sound for them, although they maintain the vocals-follow-the-musical-melody that they have perfected.  And then of course, they have to upend the pleasantness with some crazy skronking saxophone solos in the middle of the song.  But even those seem almost distant and like they are not exactly part of the song.

“Down the Sink” is a fantastic song that sounds very much unlike anything they’ve done before.  There’s some cool funk and 70s inflections on the riffs and sounds.  The chorus “the street is where people live, the street is where people die” has a fantastic 70s, almost blaxploitation, film soundtrack feel.   I’d love to hear them explore more of this sound.

“The Great Chain of Being” is one of the outright heaviest things they’re recorded, with big heavy riffs and growling vocals.  It’s a bit out of place on this record, but it rocks too wonderfully to complain about.  It clearly seems like it could have been on Murder of the Universe, but maybe they just enjoyed rocking out and wanted to write a new song.

“The Last Oasis” has a delightful cocktail lounge feel, with vibes, languid bass and Ambrose’s gentle vocals.   I love that it gets hazier and sounds more and more like it’s being submerged as the song goes on.  Meanwhile, “All is Known” returns to them microtonal sounds of Banana for the main riff and heft of this pumping song.

One of my favorite tracks is the delicate “I’m Sleeping In.”  I love the interesting and satisfying bass lines that runs through this gentle song about sleeping:

I know within my body
I need rest from muscle ache
I really need a break
So I’m sleepin’ in, in

There’s some quiet harmonica and a really compressed sound.  It seems like sleep will never come because of some random noises that come in to disrupt the chill feeling.  Although by the end, the tape slows down and sleep has finally won.  The disc ends with “The Wheel” a groovy psychedelic track with wavery keys and flute. It’s the least dynamic song on the record but it feels nicely stretched out and trippy.

So the track order definitely makes this feel like an odds and ends assortment.  I’m not sure if they could have made a heavy side and a trippy side, or if it’s just more fun to have this batch of oddments together in the soup of gumboot.

The good thing is there’s not a bad song on it and it really covers every imaginable style.

After five albums in year, the only thing to do was to release no records in 2018 and tour the world.  But 2019 suggests a new disc in on the horizon.  I can’t wait.

[READ: March 3, 2019] “The Arithmetic of Common Ground”

This story had an interesting conceit which I feel it didn’t fully follow through on.  It posits that children have commonalities and looks at what estimated percentage of those commonalities they need to have for friendships to work.  I enjoyed the way it seemed almost like a technical report in the beginning.

At the opening, we see a couple meeting.

Born within six months of one another, within the same medium-sized city, and of comparable socio-economic class, they automatically overlap somewhere between 33 to 35 percent. Make the city Calgary and make them both only children who—as a consequence of their solitudes—have both grown up somewhat unsociable and somewhat bookish. If both dutifully attended music lessons in guitar and piano to complement their school work, their common ground might go as high as 40 to 55 percent.

Despite being different by some 45 to 60 points, they share enough interests (musical) to meet, fall in love, get married and have a child: Benjamin.

But for group dynamics a simple Venn diagram does not suffice because each pairing is its own diagram.  The story proceeds to explore Benjamin and his friends. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-Willoughby’s Beach (2011).

After releasing five new albums in 2017, KGATLW spent 2018 re-releasing their first five releases.  These were out of print and hard to find.  And now they’re back.

Back in 2011, KGATLW was more of a goofy side project (hence the name).  But they coalesced as a seven-piece band and proceeded to make an EP–Willoughby’s Beach.  At nine songs in about 25 minutes, this garage rock/dirty blues project pretty well flies past.  Lyrics are an afterthought (most songs repeat one line) and most of the songs are under 2 and a half minutes.  It is great zipping fun with fuzzy guitars, fuzzy harmonicas, fuzzy vocals and an all around DIY feel.

“Danger $$$” is a fast, crazy blues with a wild harmonica solo and the repeated shouted lyrics of “danger money” between lots of whoops and screams.  “Black Tooth” opens with a similarly fast riff but it immediately slows down into a slower but still rocking riff.  “Lunch Meat” is a crazy fast and catchy song with the full lyric: “They made me get up in the morning morning morning morning.”

“Let it Bleed” is the longest song on the disc at 3:14.  It’s slower and the repeated lyrics are far more comprehensible (I want to see my lover again).  The wonderfully titled “Crookedile” has a kind of a spy theme for its music dark with echoing squealing guitars and chanted vocals.  What “just say god is on your side, he’s on your side” has to do with the title I have no idea.  “Dead Beat” is also (relatively) long, but it is much faster with lots of whoops and a simple but addictive guitar line.

“Dusbtin Fletcher” is a fun punk song with lots of big backing vocals–like The Monkees doing punk.  Oohs and oh ho ohs make this an incredibly poppy song.  “Stoned Mullet” has two sets of lyrics: “jack it” and “green out.”  Your guess is as good as mine.  It’s fast and catchy with a wonderful chorus.

“Willoughby’s Beach” is quick and catchy, a wonderful end to the disc.  The song is the definition of three-chord rock and features the lyric: “Just because I like you, it doesn’t mean I like you.”  Superb stuff.

[READ: January 31, 2019] Secret Coders: Monsters & Modules

This book ends the Secret Coders storyline.

It begins with the boys feeling very calm as they work out a code that will get them to travel to Flatland.  But Hopper doesn’t understand why they aren’t freaking out since as soon as they work out the code they will be travelling to a world with one fewer dimension!

Using a simple repeating code, the turtle makes the opening and they fall into the second dimension.  Eni turns into a square, Josh turns into a triangle and Hopper turns into a line!  And we learned in the previous books that lines (and women in general) were considered nothing.

They are immediately bothered by circles–the most superior shape in Flatland.  After some altercations, Josh and Eni are thrown in jail.  Hopper is able to hide because she is just a line and is therefore very hard to see. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PINEGROVE-“Intrepid” (2017).

Pinegrove frontman Evan Stephens Hall just announced that, because of indiscretions, he was cancelling the band’s winter tour.  I had tickets to two of these shows, so that’s certainly a bummer.

I can only hope that whatever the details of his trouble, he can work it out amiably, get the help he needs and get back on the road in a better place.

Before this all happened, the band released their first new single since Cardinal took off.  “Intrepid” opens with a quietly strummed guitar and Hall singing quietly, including an unexpected falsetto note.  The song threatens to get big and loud but then seems like it might just end.

But after a minute and a half the rocking guitars and backing vocals come in and the song lifts off.  It strikes me as far less catchy than anything they’ve done so far, but it feels a lot more complex, as well.

The end of the song drops in volume, with one more little rocking guitar part before it fades out quietly with the same part that sounded like the end earlier.

It’s really well crafted.

[READ: May 7, 2017] Dark Shadows

This fourth book is once again Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin.  It also has an introduction by J.J. the search and rescue dog whose current civilian job is to look after the Chicken Squad.  I would love to see what the humans think of these chickens acting this way, I think that would be a very funny insight.  But maybe it’s best if it’s left unknown.

The family, including J.J. and the chickens are in the car going to a farm to “See things you’ve never seen before.”  Sugar says she has seen everything there is to see.  J.J. counters that she has never been out of the backyard.

Their mom, Moosh, explains that this will be a family reunion–they’ll meet all of their aunts, uncle and cousins.  And when they arrives there are hundreds and everyone expects them to lean all of their cousins’ names. (more…)

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