Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jack Vance and RWS



I want to praise James Hollbrook Vance, aka Jack Vance. I am finally reading "The Tales From Dying Earth", after wanting to read for around 20 years, it was not translated to Portuguese, except the tale "Mazirian The Magician" -  I must say that  has been my all time favorite story-  and it might turn to be my all time favorite book and I am just on tale 3 of the first book.










I just received from Chris Rodler ( Leger DeMain, Razor Wire Shrine, etc ) two incredible fusion technical prog rock metal cds of his band   Razor Wire Shrine :

These make Spastic Ink/Ron Jarzombek childish. The Rodlers are probably two of the best prog rock and metal musicians in USA and yet they are quite humble.

Chris is a modern version of Fripp with tons of Jim Matheos insights.

Brett Rodler, is  polirhythm  master and crazy tempo addicted. The only guy in USA that can rival with him is Bob Jarzombek.

Mike Ohm solos here and there quite well, but I think the main focus are the Rodlers.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Manilla Road "Open The Gates"

Released in the 80s, this album still today is as astonishing and impressive as when it was released. The band creates a journey to a magik world and does it creating very heavy, epic and dark music. By mixing old prog rock like Tull and Rush, hard rock like UFO with energizing metal a la Judas Priest and Saxon and immersing everything in an Arthurian atmosphere, Manilla Road simply created a classic.

The thundering opening "Metal Storm" simply blows up everything in your block. The next, "Open The Gates" slows down the tempo but smashes everything with a killing heavy guitar riff. Then you are left to the amazing piece of art called "Astronomica". My favorite song on this album is "The Fires Of Mars", whose main riff is like a dark lament from a dying bard. I had the LP, the cd changes a little bit the order of the songs as in the past two songs were in an EP.

I would not call this power metal, because it is different from anything in this genre. One is not supposed to worship metal to like it, like with a Manowar album, but one is faded to love metal after listening to this.

Mark Shelton crafts lyrics based on Arthurian myths and dark texts from ancient mythology while sings with rage and beauty and plays intricate guitar riffs and atomizing solos. Randy Fox is probably the best metal drummer to come from the 80s Scott Park delivers thunderous viking bass lines.

A true metal classic, one of the rare gems from 80s American Metal.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Michael Moorcock Warlord Of The Air

Moorcock tells this story in an alternative future, by the eyes of a typical soldier of the British Empire who is sent to an alternative future where the British Empire seems to have created an utopia. At least in the main character's eyes.

The British Empire after years without going to war ( the technology is not as advanced as it was back in our actual 1973) which leads to apparent economical and social advances. We will know later that the Empire is in fact lying in fragile foundations.

There are billions of people still starving and living in poverty while a few live happily enjoying the advances of science and all modern society goods. This book treats an universal theme, that is why it is so compelling and impressive. One can change history events but the very nature of man will remain "evil".

Look at the world these days, transpose the ideals presented here and realize Morcoock makes a portrait of our very own world. While some will be happy celebrating the new i-pad, downloading digital content for a few dollars, watching 3-D films, eating yogurt ice-cream ( because Oprah said it was healthier) others will still work for 14 hours to produce a consumer good for the rich. Yet this person will earn at best, a full plate of food.

This book is rather political in a way that the author shares his political views but he also succeeds describing a fantastic world. Essentially, a society lacking elements like: poverty, exploration, some having better lives than others, social discrepancies, diseases, plagues, does not exist in reality. Well, that is why we call it utopia.

I personally agree in all terms with Moorcock: he does not say that armed revolution is the way to change, in fact, it concludes pessimistically presenting a single fact: all forms of riots lead to chaos and death of several innocent lives.

The "steampunk" and "dieselpunk" aspects of this book make it more impressive and interesting. The dirigibles populating the world skies, the Victorian and Edwardian way of life almost intact after 70 years yet that society can have access to the goods of the technology after those years.

Moorcock's style is rather elegant, precise. His technological descriptions expose details when necessary: he does not waste time abusing of it to simply show erudition.

To me a great book is one that you cannot discern between reality while reading it is hard to stop reading. This was "Warlord Of The Air" for me.

Incredible, radical, fantastic and innovative. Five stars are few for rating it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Meshuggah Koloss

As many reviews at Amazon note ( and I have to agree with all of them ), at this time Meshuggah has returned to their 90s tech-thrash roots, when they've released two ultra heavy post-apocalyptic poli-rhythms based efforts: Destroy Erase Improve and Chaosphere, perhaps two of the finest metal albums ever released. I simply love every album of them released in 2000s, specially Obzen, which already hinted the direction they would follow, but Koloss is my favorite Meshuggah since Chaosphere...

Total brutal, insane and quite extreme metal. A MetallicA with brains put on acid. Some of the most awesome metal riffs ever written. At the same time, Meshuggah is able to reach a contemplative state, something almost like a mantra, something that grabs your mind and soul and takes you somewhere inside your self.

And it is pure metal. That is perhaps my favorite part...

Grandfathers

You know. When Ray Bradbury, Will Eisner or Dennis Ritchie died, it was not hard to write about them. I tried to make homages. In my own way...

However, I find it too hard to write about my grandparents who have left us a few years ago.

The father of my father, my grandfather was called Manoel. He was a pragmatic man, quite capable of making computations in his head. I remember when he calculated easily how many seconds a whole year had. He told me everybody used to tell him he should have been an Engineer, something he may have passed onto my father who passed onto me, who became an Engineer. When I remember him, I like to think about large dinner tables, full of food and drinks, smiles and wiseness.

He used to take me and my brothers to know the countryside of Ribeirao Preto. He knew practically everybody there. He used to be a pork farmer, but had to stop this activity because the law did not allow him to raise pigs so close to the town. I remember one day he took us to take care of some of his cows, which are to this day, something quite unforgettable.  My grandfather was also  an artist: played guitar and was great at clay sculpturing. So I like to think about him.

The father of my mother, Rui, was a long time book lover and technology enthusiast. He was a photographer, knew all sort of mind tricks like hypnotism. He was an Officer at the Brazilian IRS ( taxes, money etc), still, I think he would rather like to be called an artist. My best fond memories of him are when he was having some beers before Christmas parties and used to tell my brother and I a big deal of his stories. My uncle Paulo tells me that some of these stories were invented. To be fully honest I prefer to believe in them as real.

He was fond of rock music, and I remember when we just organized my uncle Cleido's LPs or when we repaired part of the ceiling in one of the houses he has lived. He just had this wise look, something that would calm you down by a mere look of his eyes. Sometimes he used to tell me he would pick me up at the school in a helicopter. I spent hours trying to find his helicopter in the skies. So I like to think about him.

They both loved their grandchildren.  I like to think that a great part of the best from me came from them as well as from my parents and grandmothers.

This post is dedicated to my greatest heroes: my parents.