Archive for February, 2006

Japan Urban Ruins Jackpot

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

urban ruins, japan ruins, abandoned buildings, abandoned amusement park, exploration

I’ve been sitting on this for a couple of months, waiting for the owner of the site to respond to my emails. Maybe his address is no longer valid, or my emails are getting filtered, but no response so far. I wanted to mirror his site on mine, and do English translations of his comments on each picture, but I haven’t heard from him to get permission, and I think this stuff is way too good not to be seen so I’ll just give you the link.

This is the largest collection of “urban ruins” pictures I have ever seen anywhere, and they just happen to be from Japan which pleases me to no end. They range vastly, from abandoned amusement parks, to refineries, to apartment blocks, to hospitals, schools, bowling alleys, and on and on and on. Not only are there tons of pictures, but they are all soulfully taken, with love for the environments and plenty of feeling. These kinds of things really give me that craving for exploration and discovery. I want to go to all of these places, and soak in their history. I want to understand the lives they lived, and the lives that were lived in them.

There are some gorgeous pictures in here, he even went to Gunkanjima, which was the subject of one of my first posts!
Click tsugihe (tsugi he) to go forward and modoru (modoru) to go back.


International Hip Hop Expostravagasplosion: Part I

Friday, February 24th, 2006

foreign hiphop, international rap, world hip hop

Being rather interested in linguistics, I can’t help but find hip hop/rap in different languages to be quite intriguing. It’s very impressive how far the genre has travelled in such a relatively small period of time, and how people are adapting it to their own societies and cultural elements. Who would have thought? I really have no clue what most of these people are saying but a good subwoofer and an open mind will probably help you to enjoy them. If all else fails you can just imagine that they are talking about rolling on dubs and imbibing malt liquors.

I’m pretty busy with work recently, so I’ll just give you the guts of what I gots without a whole lot of jibba jabba:

Artist: Ceza
Song: Rapstar
Album: Rapstar
[Buy Album (CD or cassette! Old school!)][Artist Website]

I really like the mood of the subdued background instruments in this titular track, it feels like walking through some extravagant underground cavern. There are other samples here.

Africa (Tanzania)
Artist: X Plastaz
Song:Nini dhambi kwa mwenye dhiki
Album: Maasai Hip Hop
[DL from itunes][Buy CD][Artist Website]

“In recent years the X Plastaz have become known for being the first hiphop crew to use Maasai music and culture in their performance. Maasai singer Yamat (also known as Merege) is now a full member of the group who has joined on tour and in the recording studio.” Very cool.

Artist: Subliminal
Song: Ba’anu Choshech Legaresh
Album: Ha’Or Ve’HaTzel (The Light and the Shadow)
[Buy CD][Website]

“…their lyrical content, though pro-Israel, is not militant or anti-Arab and has no specific political agenda, though it is sometimes described as right-wing. With occasional Arabic lyrics and songs like “Peace in the Middle East”, they take a stance that can be described as desirous of a better future but unapologetic about the present.” Nice mixing in of traditional instruments and chanting.

Artist: Fettes Brot
Song: Die meisten meiner Feinde
Album: Am Wasser Gebaut
[DL from itunes][Buy CD][Artist Website]

“(“Fat/Phat Bread”) from Hamburg, one of the first successful German hip-hop groups. Their raps are usually humorous and of late they have experimented with different crossover sounds.” Fun. German. Hip Hop.

Artist: Oxmo Puccino
Song: La Nuit M’appelle
Album: Le Cactus De Sibérie
[Buy CD][Artist Website]

“The third album from French hip-hop artists, produced by DJ Sek, Alsoprodby, DJ Duke, Diesel & Manu Key. Oxmo has sold over 300,000 units of his previous two albums in France.” This song features Casioesque opera-vocals.

Artist: Mutantoff & the Killektiv
Song: Amsterdub
Album: Not For Amerika
[Buy CD][Artist Website]

You Can Make Our Album Yourself ! Fuck Record Labels ! Fuck Fat and Dumb Producers ! On this page you can download the full version of “Not For Amerika” album in mp3 and original design for it, which you can print out on any printer. We don’t need your money for our music – listen free !
Download the other songs here. Thanks guys. I like the creepy nursery-rhyme-sounding chorus. Most of the other songs are a bit more “normal” sounding.

All songs are now also available in a solitary zip file, if that tickles your fancy. And that’s about it, more to come in part II (Probably Greenlandic, Icelandic, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Polish, and Hungarian). What do you think?

SXSW site has enough mp3s to choke an e-goat

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006


Upon perusing the frenetically updated GorillaVsBear, I was exposed to the realization that here on the SXSW site there are now hundreds and hundreds of mp3s. If you dared to dive into them I would be willing to bet that you would find some very interesting bands. I got about 260 yesterday and I only scratched the surface. If you are exceptionally brave and well-connected and you decide to check them out, feel free to comment and let me know which ones are exceptionally great.

In other news, I am working on an extra-large multi-part foreign-language international hip hop post, part one of which will be up by the weekend. So if that sounds interesting to you stay tuned, and feel free to give obscure recommendations.

Bluebird Liquor and Black Crow Wine

Monday, February 20th, 2006

  Saidthegramophone, stg, bluebird liquor, black crow wine, Joom II

A little while ago the always brilliant Saidthegramophone had a contest to win the new Cat Power Album. It was a lovely idea: Write a rhyming couplet for a fictional song entitled: “Bluebird Liquor and Black Crow Wine”. There were a great many excellent submissions, (somehow I made it to 4th place and won a poster), and now some of them are being used as lyrics in a no-longer-fictional song that already has 2 remixes!

Bloodthirsty Butchers – Gokigen Ikaga (Japan)

Monday, February 20th, 2006

bloodthirsty butchers, banging the drum, japan, gokigen ikaga

Artist: Bloodthirsty Butchers
Song: Gokigen Ikaga (???????)
From album: Banging the Drum
Genre: Post Epiphany Punk
[Buy this album][Site (jp)]

These guys have played with Rage Against the Machine, are friends with Beck and Fugazi, and have a split 7″ with Rocket from the Crypt. I guess this means that you might know of them, but just in case you don’t, here is a good song of theirs. And don’t let the name scare you away, the Bloodthirsty Butchers are really quite friendly.

Here we have a guitar and bass that are good friends. They seem comfortable with one another and talk to each other in glowing tones that are relaxed but opinionated. In the foreground we have a voice that has just come to terms with itself and is releasing all of its pent up feelings -almost yelling them- from a mountaintop, into the sky or at it.

Cities – Headstream

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

cities, yep roc, sxsw

Artist: Cities
Song: Headstream
From album: Cities
Genre: Secret Texturerock
[Buy this album][Site]

“Cities” by Cities from Chapel Hill, NC (itself, in fact, a city of some renown), is like a song-clique of above-average but disaffected students that hang out together after school. Each track fits in with its surrounding track buddies, at the same time managing to show off its own distinctly unique personality, its own brand of special.

Take the song Headstream: There’s this guitar right, it’s doing stuff in all the other songs too, could be brooding in a corner or telling its friends a fun story; but in this one it’s burning like a fuse. It lights at :08 and loops and turns until it sets off a whirling chain of spark-filled explosions at 1:54. It’s these kinds of personality things that give the album its character and likeability.

So maybe you’ll like what you hear and would like to hang out with these songs, get to know them a little. Well you could always go see Cities the band at SXSW, as I hear they will be there with a few pals. Or Buy the Album when it comes out April 18th, 2006.

Six Organs of Admittance – Eighth Cognition/All You’ve Left

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

  six organs of admittance, eighth cognition, all you've left

Artist: Six Organs of Admittance
Song: Eighth Cognition/All You’ve Left
From album: School of the Flower
Genre: Misty-river acoustic musing
[DL from itunes][Buy CD][Site]

I think Ben Chasny’s guitars must be madly in love with him. They never falter; they never question themselves or his gentle mastery of them. They just reach deep down inside, and come up with the most precious sounds they can give him. Somehow these sounds have little lives of their own; more than the note, and more than the resonance. There’s something I really can’t explain; something that makes even some of the simplest passages vibrant and, (I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but for lack of a better word…) magical.

This particular song is actually sort of two songs that blend together in the middle. The first part is something of a tumbling dream; not unpleasant but unfamiliar and strange. There are these big smoky black and silver bubbles rolling all around you, and ferrying you off to somewhere unknown, (to part 2 that is).

Part two is where you “wake up” from that dream, to find yourself lying in the bottom of a slowly drifting canoe. The river around you has a thick mist curling over it, and you can barely make out a wild green treeline on both sides. Soon airy sweet wisps of voices start singing from the mist. They are singing you into their world, both welcoming and warning.

Or so it would seem. The website has some cool stuff, including recipes… for food! I just found that to be rather nifty.

Balloons – The Biggest Numbers (Japan)

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

balloons, the biggest numbers, japan, 9:40 pm

Artist: Balloons
Song: The Biggest Numbers
From album: 9:40 PM
Genre: Guitary Rockesque
[Buy this album][Label Site]

There seems to be a whole lot of emophobia going around hipster indie circles these days. When I was but a wee lad I heard the term “emo” for the first time in connection with the band Roadside Monument, who I still think are great. But they have about as much in common with Fallout Boy (who is apparently today’s emo posterchild) as say, Mr. T has with Mrs. Butterworth.

So I’m not sure when or how often emo changes definitions, but I wouldn’t have ever thought of Balloons as emo if I didn’t see them listed as such while I was searching for their site. In my opinion, Balloons play some pretty nice guitar-driveny indie rockish music. See for yourself, what do you think?