Archive for the ‘Method of the W.O.R.M.’ Category

princessSOUNDTRACK: DAWN OF MIDI-Dysnomia (2013).

domI heard about this disc while listening to The Organist podcast. (Episode 6)  I didn’t know anything about Dawn of Midi, but I understand they were/are a kind of improvisational jazz band (piano, contrabass and drums).  But don’t stop reading yet.  Dysnomia (between this and Method of the W.O.R.M.’s Cicatrix, I am certainly learning a lot of new words) is certainly jazzy.  But it doesn’t feel like jazz exactly.  In fact, I would never have guessed that they were playing real instruments.

The album is 47 minutes with 9 songs.  They are all instrumental and more or less flow into each other.  And as I say, I never would have imagined that it was just three instruments playing the music.  Not because it sounds weird–there’s nothing particularly unusual sounding about the record.  But because it is so precise.

And indeed, the piano doesn’t really sound like a piano (it’s a little muted), but the other two instruments are quite clearly drum and bass.  And yet it’s the rhythms and textures of the songs that are so unusual.  The songs are minimal, true, but they are complex in that minimalism.  So while there’s repeated piano notes, there’s complex drum patterns.  And the songs morph and change over the course of the record.  And not just from track to track but within a song as well.

Without going into great musical detail, there’s not a lot to say about the individual tracks.  As I say, it’s a lot of repetition, but there’s enough morphing that it never gets boring.  Maybe the piano is the emphasis for these few minutes, then a snare drum takes over.  Or the beat shifts or speeds up.  It’s really cool.  And it’s really hard to believe that these three guys are playing this live and not with machines.

I really can’t say enough about this record.  I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do, but I find that I can’t stop listening to it.

Check it out at their bandcamp site.

[READ: July 17, 2015] I am Princess X

Sarah brought this home from the library and said that I would like it and, as usual, she was right.

The story is about May and Libby, two young girls (fifth grade?) who are thrown together (they don’t know each other but are both skipping gym class) and form a cool bond.  Libby is a great artist, and while they are sitting in the Kindergarten playground, the little kids come over and ask her to draw things.  Soon enough, Libby draws a princess (I like that it was suggested by a boy).  She’s wearing red high tops, a crown and cape and has a cool katana sword (I must say this has to be the smoothest playground ever if she could get that much detail out of playground chalk).

The girls name her Princess X and since May can’t draw, she comes up with stories about her.  And soon enough, Libby and May have binders full of the Princess’ adventures.

As with a lot of YA books, there’s a horrific tragedy that follows.  Libby and her mom are in a car and her mom drives them off a bridge where she and Libby die.  (I know!).  May always thought there was something suspicious about the whole thing–Libby had a closed casket–but since May was a little girl no one paid her any mind.  Libby’s dad fled Seattle and that was the end of contact for May.

Meanwhile, May’s parents divorced and may moved back to the South (people in Seattle tease her about her accent).  But she does get to come up to Seattle to visit her dad from time to time.

And this time, when she’s walking around old haunts, she sees a sticker on a window.  It is Princess X and it even says “I am Princess X”  What the heck?  Well, when Libby’s dad sold the house, all of their Princess X stuff was given to goodwill.  So it must be someone who found it and stole their ideas.  But what if it’s something else? (more…)

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raslSOUNDTRACK: METHOD OF THE W.O.R.M.-Cicatrix (2015).

motwormMETHOD OF THE W.O.R.M. is the project of one guy–known as Grimm.  Cicatrix is a collection of songs that spans decades (“begun long before the present digital day”) and recently remastered and released.

The blurb on CdBaby (where you can download the disc–it’s also on iTunes) notes that Method of the W.O.R.M. is “an industrial hard rock with a trip hop edge, intelligent grown up lyrics delving into the microcosm and macrocosm of our world. Influences run the gamut of NIN, Massive Attack, Cop Shoot Cop, Swans, Coil, Tricky, Skinny Puppy, Tom Waits and many others.”

There’s quite a diversity in that list even if the bands are similar, and you can hear the melding of influences.  And you can hear most of them in the songs. But what sets MotWORM apart from these bands is a keen sense of melody in the vocals.  Most industrial music tends to bury the vocals with distortion or just under the music.  But Grimm’s got a good (even pleasant) singing voice which elevates the songs above the din of lesser industrial bands.

While it’s not like pre-digital technology was all tape manipulation, it also wasn’t as easy as it is now.  And the complexity in these songs shows a lot of skill and attention to detail.

“No Flesh” opens the collection.  After some interesting noisy samples (steel drums?), a slow bassline enters (which also sounds sampled—it’s got a very 70’s sound).  The song slowly builds with more and more layers of sound until the vocals come in–a gentle singing that also builds.  There’s a Skinny Puppy feel in the music, but the vocals are very different from Puppy’s style.  “Purge” is the first of many songs with sampled dialogue, but it’s the sounds around the dialogue that are so interesting–squeaks and buzzes, radio tuners? who knows where they come from.  Once the verses start, the main music in this track is more synthy–a compelling riff that wends through the mix.  When the distorted guitars kick in, it takes the song to an entirely new level.

“Burned” showcases the vocals up front in the mix over a simple layered melody.  But there are actually a lot of vocals in this song, including a fascinating sample that opens and closes the track.  Grimm adds layers of vocals–harmonies (or not exactly)–distorted vocals and clean vocals.  I particularly like when the higher voice sings a new (very cool) melody in the middle of the song (the sampled voice melds nicely if creepily with this too).  This song is a real highlight.

“Tragic Rabbit” has some more interesting samples and a pulsing synth line with cool swirling sounds over the top of the vocals.  “As If a Dream” is a slow trippy number with an excellent processed sample.

“A Viral Method” introduces live drums (which sound great and were provided by Swans’ Phil Puleo).  It also has a great live guitar sound playing a fast riff and harmonics.  There’s more great harmony vocals. And a wild riff for the bridge (do I dare say a bit prog rock?).  Although I love the cool samples and layers in the earlier songs, this live instrumentation adds an excellent urgency to the music.  The only problem with this song is that it’s so short.

“Absolution” starts off quietly but after the distorted guitars, the chorus is super catchy–the way it seems like it’s going to end but rebuilds itself.  It’s really well crafted.  “A Moment of Silence” opens with a retro-sounding synth bass.  It’s a fairly minimal song with the vocals really taking over as that synth line drifts to the background and new sounds bubble up.  “Wasted” opens with distorted guitars kind of like a Ministry song, but the vocals are much cleaner, which brings an unexpected quality to what could have been a typical heavy song.  Especially the chorus which is musically bright (even if it’s lyrically dark).

“Freak-O” (what a great title) opens with some loud jackhammer type drums.  The song creeps along menacingly (with a great sample of someone shouting “You are one ugly son of a bitch!”).  I like the simple melody that simmers up from the noise by the end of the song.  “Miscreant” opens with quieter acoustic guitars before the drums kicks in and a menacing synth line takes over.  The vocals are quietly sung with an interesting effect placed on them.  The middle of the song has some wild sounds–I’m not entirely sure what’s happening with them, but it makes for an unsettling ambiance.

“I Love You Goodbye” is my favorite song on the disc.  It starts out simply with big guitars but quickly retreats into a much quieter verse.   There’s a great riff that throws in a slightly dissonant harmonic note that is just great.  But as the song builds into a unexpected bridge with horns, the song adds an dark carnivalesque atmosphere (and that harmonic note returns in a more prominent role).  It’s such an unusual riff and really bodes well for the interesting direction MotWORM might be heading (if they ever release anything else).

This is a real fun disc full of interesting sounds and samples.  If you like industrial music this is a disc totally worth checking out.

[READ: July 31, 2015] RASL

Jeff Smith is creator of Bone, one of my favorite comics ever.  As far as I can tell he hasn’t done a lot since Bone, but he sure did his research for this book.

The title is unfortunate (and is explained satisfactorily in the last few pages, but it’s still awkward and hard to manage).  But the work inside is extraordinary.  The story concerns dimension jumping, art theft and a whole lot of information about Nikolai Tesla.  It’s also more mature than Bone, in that there are a couple of (non-explicit) sex scenes.

In a nutshell, RASL (real name Dr. Robert Johnson) and his partner Miles are scientists.  They grew up together and studied the works of Tesla.  Miles married Maya, a beautiful scientist who has assisted them with their work over the years.  They delved deeply into the research that Tesla undertook (Resonant frequency, remote control, the earthquake machine, wireless communication) and used his ideas to create a machine that is something like a transporter/dimension hopper. They are working for the military but hope to be able to use the device to end wars (idealist scientists as they are).  Their small tests has been successful, but RASL believes that they need more testing to see if there are any effects when you use it on bigger subjects.

So he takes the machine and hops.  It turns out that each hop between dimensions takes its toll on his body and also tends to confuse matters.  (In one dimension, he checks his iPod and sees that Blonde on Blonde was recorded by Robert Zimmerman (I love that detail)).

We learn that RASL (who as the story opens has shaggy hair and cuts and bruises, unlike the composed scientist we see in flashbacks) has been jumping from dimension to dimension to steal precious works of art as a way to make some money.  There is also a really creepy-looking man whose face looks almost amphibian (Smith has some really disturbing characters in this book) chasing after him.  This man kills everyone that RASL knows in different dimensions because he is after something 9and he believes that the people in other dimensions are not real).  It is slowly revealed why RASL has been reduced to this state. (more…)

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