вівторок, 5 грудня 2017 р.

MFT: Obscure Found Poem

You know it is good to look through your archives once in a while - you can find something interesting or just plain weird. 

Few days ago i've found an old flash drive. It was grey and tend to blink that particular blue light. It was last used in late November 2015 (which was a really fun time to me (- not exactly. it sucked). Its content caused nice trip down memory lane. There was an empty folder titled "Earl Slick Zig Zag", a couple of really bad photos out of focus (i'm a fan), some drafts of poems that went nowhere (bad ones), some notes of interest (nearly finished articles on Wild Blue Yonder and La Jetee among else), few midi files with some leftfield sonic combinations and whole lotta screensnaps. 

Back in the day - i was compulsive screenshooter. I was snapping everything that i thought i can use later somewhere. But since i had writer's block - later i was snapping everything that i thought i can use later somewhere. Over and over again. Most of the screencnaps were from various comic books. I guess it was meant to be used on Cut'n'Splash. But there were also some snaps from different sources - pieces of texts and some snaps of bugs and errors in various software. Nothing serious.

And then i've found this. It was a piece of lyrics transcription of some song. But I don't remember which one or where it was taken. But it is so self-contained - it doesn't matter. I really like it. 

понеділок, 4 грудня 2017 р.

My Favorite Things: Fallout 2 - Inside the Hubologists Shuttle


Just because it makes no sense - it doesn't mean you should not write about it. Sometimes surfing the web leads to some really unexpected corners of Internet. You may find yourself inside some fan-curated Wikia dedicated to something close to your heart 15 years ago. Not because you want to know more but because you feel empty inside and have nothing else to do. That is how i have found this image. It is from the files of the post-nuclear role-playing game Fallout 2 (G.O.A.T. btw). It might seem a little bit elusive and somewhat cryptic but in fact it is nothing but a non-fuctional piece of a game.

Believe it or not - this image masterfully depicts the interiors of a space shuttle. In fact - it is one of a kind depiction of the interiors of a space shuttle. It is nothing like any other depictions of the interiors of the space shuttles. It is simply a black screen covered in red patches that read "unused art". It is one of the most brilliant design choices ever. I wonder why no one ever tried to pull this off for real? It even fits Fallout's own Special Encounters rulebook (in short: odd and batshit, gallows humor)

Why am i writing about such insignificant thing? Because i find it interesting. Outside of its original context black field with red patches looks like a fine example of tongue-in-cheek conceptual art. Technically it is a piece of concrete poetry mixed with conceptual writing. It reminds me of Allen Ruppersberg and Billy Apple. It is a wasteland of its own. It is empty and filled with placeholders. It is something ponder about. 

You can enter the interiors of the shuttle through the map. If you press "5" key you will get to the location. However you can't get out of it and so you need to reload from earlier place. Why it happened to be so? Because the player was never meant to enter the space shuttle thus there was no need to design its interiors. Its exterior looks like this:


Nothing interesting - just another futurist-styled spaceship designed after NASA Space Shuttle. The  ship is titled USS Quetzel (soaring pretzel!). Inside a game - it was built some time prior to the Great War and somehow managed to remain mostly intact. It was owned by the Hubologists. Who are they? It is a religious cult based on Scientology. They are situated in San Francisco. Their religion is titled "Hubology". It is centered around the idea that humans suffer from spirits of the dead who create parasitic substances or entities known as "neurodynes" which supress talents and abilities of human beings. Hubology offeres a "cleansing" which may cause "severe" "empowerment" and permament brain damage. If you want to know how does this "cleansing" looks like - think about Room 104 episode 3 - it is more or less exact depiction of the process. 

So - some time before the game started Hubologists have found this space shuttle and tried to repair it. But because of inner city politics they were unable to do that. Then came The Player and helped to fix things. Hubologists wanted to use space shuttle in order to escape from Earth to another planet they called Quetzel (dramatic squirrel!). Due to lack of significance of the plot it was never really resolved. 

There are two quests connected to it - "get the fuel" and "repair the shuttle". The player can provide cultists with fuel and repair the ship - but then they all die due to suffocation caused by lack of air supply (sad). If player fails to provide Hubologists with fuel they use some alternative fuel and blow up during liftoff (hahaha!). If player provides them with fuel but fails to repair the ship - they all die after a liftoff due to depressurization (double sad). 


пʼятниця, 1 грудня 2017 р.

MFT: Steven Soderbergh - Schizopolis Poem


This is a frame from "Schizopolis" - a film by Steven Soderbergh. In it you can see a poem that is merely a recital of alphabet sequence. It is a throwaway sight gag that means nothing. It fits perfectly into the films nonsensical aesthetics but not much else. Or not?

This poem was written by the film protagonist (who also happened to be films director who moments prior to that delivered a master-class of making bizarre grimaces) while sitting in an office cubicle and "feeling strange" and "doing panic". Piece of paper on which the poem was written was subsequently crumpled and thrown away into the trash bucket. That led to another gag sequence which will not be described here. It was never mentioned again. It is also never mentioned in any film reviews because apparently people don't need poetry.

It is very strange poem. It is completely pointless. It is shown as a way of "killing time", needless false attempt to sort things out. But then it is literally thrown away - as if it was actually a horrifying expose and not an alphabet recital with some elaborate line breaks. But it sticks. Over time it became a personal highlight of a film. Why is was there? "Just because" is the reason. And it is wonderful that way. 

This little poem is more than meets the eye. It is not the poem you can interpret. It is the very opposite. It is empty textual void. It's not like there were never an alphabet recital poems before - Ian Hamilton Finlay's and Louis Aragon's poems come to mind first - but its appearance in a film is perplexing slap bang. It is cathartic "crowning moment of awesome" of entire film. Its mere presence tells everything the film is attempting to do. Which is "blatant expression of flight of imagination indulged in pointless verbal contortionism complicated to point of utter absurd"

This poem reflects Steven Soderbergh's desire for complete liberation from traditional rules of narrative and techniques and absolute dissociation of skills. It is not condemnation of conventions - it is a personal rejection of its dogmatic nature. Ordinary ways of presenting concepts are inadequate to express something new. It is unable to create mysteries, to tackle something unknown without demystifying it. Experiment - successful or not - is necessary. The poem signified his will to articulate his vision the way he sees fitting. Because if used only in accepted (so-called "right") ways - creative potential of any idea can be seriously limited and trampled with possible end result of its pitiful demise by imposed constraints of generally accepted rules. 

The whole "Schizopolis" experience is designed to impart new vigor - to clean the mind pathways and to make it capable of expressing anything without stuttering or fumbling. It it is more than merely an act of self-exorcism of "bad thoughts" (X). It is one of the greatest exercises in style ever put on film. It is a film filled with various ideas. 

четвер, 30 листопада 2017 р.

Bil Sabab Power Hour: Kahvas Jute - She's So Hard to Shake



"She's so hard to shake" is a song by Australian hard rock band Kahvas Jute. It was released in 1971 on their only album "Wide Open". It is one of the greatest songs of all time. Just because it rocks so hard. It also happened to be one of the unjustly forgotten gems of 1970s. Listen to the song and think about it. It is weird how they managed not to make a splash.

Kahvas Jute was ultra-tight, hyper-intense outfit with murderer's row of talent. For instance - it was an early showcase of guitar extraordinaire Tim Gaze (not that one) and bass magus Bob Daisley (who later made a man out of Ozzy Osbourne). And they were just a couple of guys who wanted to play some rock and roll.

"She's so hard to shake" is a song on the most rock'n'roll topic of all - "relationship with women (man, it is hard)". It is generic. Lyrics doesn't mean much beyond that. It is just a semi-coherent placeholder cannon fodder "to be sang".

From aesthetic standpoint the song sounds as if Led Zeppelin were possessed by ELP (basically Blue Oyster Cult before they happened. tee-hee). But it is so much more. "She's so hard to shake" is rolling and tumbling, roaring and soaring sonic sizzle reel. There are no boring parts. You got to hear it to believe it. It is pure perfection from a formal standpoint.

The structure is rock solid. It is a straightforward rock song with verses and choruses followed by showcase soloing. It is the performances that make it special. The arrangement is airtight monolithic - you can't really think about separate elements. "She's so hard to shake" is built around a simple unstoppable swinging drum beat which relentlessly propels the song forwards. It is imposing and menacing. Dannie Davidson is a juggernaut. He makes groove tornado with his sticks.

Main melody is a combination of entwined bass line and guitar riffs bursting with solo fills. There is solo at every turn and each time it gives a chance for everyone to shine. Guitar solos are followed by bass solos coupled with some elaborate drumming. This playful back and forth is sublime. Dual guitars of Dennis Wilson (not that one) and Tim Gaze (not that one) are pure bliss. They unleash onslaught of bristling fuzzy wah-wah blitz. Guitar sounds are cactus like, riddled with spikes raining with needles. They rumble along "with a purposeful grimace and terrible sound".

Bob Daisley's bass lines are very busy. He chugs through the song so intensely you might think that Bob might lose his arm in the end. Bass lines move like bloodstream throughout the song. You can compare his style to the way Jannick Top performed his parts on Magma's Mekanik Kommando.

"She's so hard to shake" is a master-class of making even the most generic song work. You just need try hard enough. 

середа, 29 листопада 2017 р.

BSPH: Steve Vai - Bad Horsie



"Bad Horsie" is a composition by master of guitar arts Steve Vai. It was released in 1995 on an album titled "Alien Love Secrets". It is hard hitting riveting slow bone crunching blues stomp. The weirdest thing about this composition is that it is just that - very heavy slow bluesy blues. And nothing else. It is somewhat of an oddity in Vai's catalogue as it is more of a meandering rambling smoking jam than an actual composition. In fact - entire "Alien Love Secrets" album was conceived as a quick throwaway in-between bigger projects 1993 "Sex and Religion" and 1996 "Fire Garden".

And that what makes it so different from usual Steve Vai output. It is very raw, not exactly thought-through, intentionally unfocused and contains lots of needless "procedural" guitar equilibrism. Because why not? It is what it is. "Bad Horsie" is based around 4x4 grinding groove entwined with black hole ripping buzzsaw riff. It moves very slowly and apparently goes nowhere. There is not much progression - it goes back and forth around the riff with some eye fencing soloing. But what a soloing - Steve Vai is having fun and it is mesmerizing.

Solos have distinct "on the fly" feel. First he simply plays a melody. With some whirls and curls on the edges. Then more noises come in - slides, squeals, shrieks, wails - melody barely keeps itself together. Then the whole thing stops for a moment so that Steve could decide what to do next. After some "how about this and that and that ?" crunch-bop-ca-chew Vai indulges himself with some exquisite classic nonsensical shredding with sweeps, dives, harmonic rampages and tapping out of nowhere just because why not. The whole thing caps on with the main riff with additional flanging effect which make it seem even more ridiculous.

The arrangement is ridiculous. It is basic blues but turned to eleven. Because of that it feels violent and intimidating. Bass booms and twangs as if it were actually a distant earthquakes. Drums are hitting so hard they raise the dust clouds and beat the listener to the ground. Drums are ridiculously, even cartoonishly, massive. Each beat sounds like a turn of the screw inside the victims body accompanied by shrieks and squeals and squeaks coming from Steve Vai's guitar. If anything it is truly a dada hobbyhorse. There is even a wicked sample of a horse's "blah".

And it is perfect that way. There is not much substance but you can hear how Steve Vai is trying various things and goes on. That is something you can rarely hear. "Bad Horsie" grows naturally.


P.S.: "Bad Horsie" sound like something you expect to be a theme song for Metal Gear Rising.

вівторок, 28 листопада 2017 р.

Bil Sabab Power Hour: Cocteau Twins - Blood Bitch


"Blood Bitch" is a song by Scottish post-punk dream pop band Cocteau Twins. It was released in 1982 on their debut album titled "Garlands". While it distantly resembles the bands signature sound - it is very unlike their future output. There are no pop elements - it is pure "take no prisoners" misty gothic post punk. TV Tropes has an entry that perfectly describes what it is - "Early Franchise Weirdness". The band was trying to find their footing. But in case of this song is perfect as it is.

There is resentfully silent mood, unwholesomely morbid tone, sullen mannerisms and gloomy undercurrents. "Blood Bitch" is circling predatory pitch black sonic roundabout with low, ominous throb. It is minimalist bloody post punk. But is so much more. It transcends beyond being simply a song. It is like aimless wandering in the thick fog - taking a step only to realize you're stepping into quicksand and slowly and helplessly getting sucked into oblivion - slowly suffocating. And then you understand that this pity pit also covers a black hole and you're about to be torn apart. It is very intimidating. It puts you in a state of "twang'" despair. It makes The Cure circa "Pornography" sound like Mamas and Papas. And I like it that way.

"Blood Bitch" is built around unrelenting mechanic beat. It is unmistakable Roland 808. It sounds thin, crisp and crunchy. This stone cold thumping also adds that particular "Big Black" ugliness to the music. The other instruments are drowned in echoes, swelled and flowing on the surface face down. There will be no bubbles.

Bass line is very interesting. It is seems to be a backbone of a song but in the same time it is constantly slips away. It lashes the ground and unsettles clouds of dust. But then it turns to liquid - as if it was merely ripples, splashes, whirls on the water's surface. It creates heightened sense of momentary falling due to rug pull.

Guitar is lurking deep in the background. It creates entangled web of textures - akin to the mist. Distorted screeches, shimmers and feedbacks are laying one on top of another. Sounds go like a straight lines speared from far away that come curdled into a ball spirals and bounce away going away like boomerangs and then reemerging as squalls a squalid tar. It sounds smooth. First it soothes, then it smothers with numerous effects - chorus, reverb, flanger and delay.

From a lyrical standpoint - it is not that much. Just some general character building rambling. It is effectively entwined with the music but not very fleshed out. Images of "Blood Bitch" are just grim and dark. Elizabeth Frazer narrates a horror story. She enters the song like a smoke cloud from a burning petroleum. She blends in a bit but still is very distinct. While she actually sings words although she is obliviously standing on the edge of slipping into singing in tongues. It is mesmerizing balancing act. She sounds haunting. There is ominous throbbing in her voice. It buzzsaws its way through the song. It is interesting to listen how she accentuates words - elongates vowels, wrists consonants, spits out certain syllables.

понеділок, 27 листопада 2017 р.

MFT: Minion Language Translator and Kennyspeak

I have a soft spot for gimmick translator. Some time ago i wrote about Star Wars-themed translators - R2D2 translator and Chewbakka sounds. Now it is time to talk about other gimmick translators.

***
Like it or not - Minions are major brand with massive following. It is easy to see why. They are cute even if they look like a fanfic frankenstein mash-up of Lego figure with Spongebob. They have these funny mannerisms and banana episode is sublime. There is nothing new i can say about Minions. This brand is a curious case of completely vacuous and somehow lucrative brand built exclusive on its memetic qualities. And so it is natural that sooner or later such brand will have some bizarre spin-offs.


Minion language translator is a cynical cash-in. It gives you an opportunity to translate some text into fancy Minionese - because it is kinda fun. "Ba tis la til yee agei", apparently (don't forget to do the "delete chop" afterwards). It sounds like a "post-apocalyptic language of some woefully devolved creatures who traveled back in time in order to hang around". It is mainly composed of short and snappy sounds with occasional guttural fills. It makes Minionese language suspiciously similar to Klingon language albeit being completely rubbish. It is perfect for sound poetry in a lettrist vein. All these "tadda buzz buzz batooay doodle mi tee toot yee pudum our hum tit" are fun to do. But nothing else.

The translator is not very though-through though. Beyond initial concept it is extremely limited. It uses dictionary which is narrowed to some very common words and phrases. Sometimes it becomes needless overbearing chore - you have to play a lot with the words in order to get them translated. And even then it is very repetitive and unimaginative. It gets old fast. There are no variations depending on the context. You can't rampage on Buffalo sentence. But If you succeed - you may manage to labor some fancy odd lettrist moo doo-dah ding acephale plum-plum toot-toot. 

Just like that:
one ip ptt ptt sak fat
ka batooay non cono whaaat? 
pik tis pelo ka piklo da ko pik tem amee
bend fino ip ka am miko thru! 
pewgun tu ooo  ka mo ooo

coo leelas. leelas sodre.

yee prompo linda aka. 
loo yee mac tu pad. 
batooay non blink. 
nop tu efsob. 
ka am pata da vowuke 
pak ria pat koop tu coz


***

I don't really care about South Park. Not my cup of tea. But I really dig this particular thing. Kenny McCormick is a cultural icon. His muffled incomprehensible speech (dubbed KennySpeak) is a thing of beauty. It is stupid simple and extremely inspiring. Muffled speech is not really explored in poetry. It is easy to understand why - it is a one trick pony, not much to do. But there are so many possibilities - whether it is remixing of existing texts or creating something new. It can really transcend the text and make it significantly different. Which is always a good thing.

Mffpmp! Kenny Translator is much more sophisticated than Minion language translator. It goes way beyond translating certain words. It uses its own vaguely distinct alphabet which based around transposed english abecederium. That makes it a serviceable cipher tool with a slight tongue-in-cheek feel. With its help you can translate anything into KennySpeak - this gagged, muffled, indiscernible semi-coherent noises for those with hardships of hearing. Because why not? Try to spell it - it is a real challenge. Basically it is anti-scat. It is sound poetry equivalent of lowercase. It obfuscates the text and turns it into warbling tone float.

KennySpeak works best with list songs. It turns them into shamanic dada roundabouts. Chemical terms and german superwords are also fun. You can also try to do dialogues. If done right - it might be hilarious.

Here is how buffalo sentence looks like in KennySpeak - Mmpfmfmpfmpfmmmpmfppf mmpfmfmpfmpfmmmpmfppf Mmpfmfmpfmpfmmmpmfppf mmpfmfmpfmpfmmmpmfppf mmpfmfmpfmpfmmmpmfppf mmpfmfmpfmpfmmmpmfppf Mmpfmfmpfmpfmmmpmfppf mmpfmfmpfmpfmmmpmfppf - fun fun fun.

Also until recently Kenny always died - that was his signature schtick. His causes of death must be used in some Twitterbot.

MFT: Obscure Found Poem

You know it is good to look through your archives once in a while - you can find something interesting or just plain weird.  Few days a...