Archive for September, 2007

Pelican – City of Echoes

Posted in Review on September 25, 2007 by joeki2000

On their 2005 effort “The fire in our throats will beckon the thaw“, Pelican had already exchanged their doom sound for a gentle more accessible one. They lost a lot of power, but this made their songwriting skills shine through much better. What direction do they take on this new full length?

The opener “Bliss in Concrete” is hard to place. It’s one of the louder and harder pieces on this record, reminiscent of older Pelican works. The pounding force however is neutralised by the absence of any stand out riffing.
The tittle track offers a different approach. It fits in more with recent Pelican sound using some gentle guitar melodies with the bass staying nicely in between. It mixes up faster and slower parts effortlessly. We never reach that epic height like some of the older work did, but that’s o.k. because the modest ending is very fitting here.
“Spaceship broken – Parts needed” sounds rather radio friendly. The build-up is not very successful. On top of that the drums seem slightly off beat. When the song finally picks up tempo near the end it does become interesting but too bad we had to sit through 4 minutes of bland stuff before this.
Winds with Hands” is the acoustic intermezzo, by now a Pelican tradition. The native American influences give the song a laid back “Rockie Mountains” feel to it. But they push their luck and it goes on for 2 minutes too long, losing a lot of its impact.
Dead between the walls” & “Far from fields” are the two stand out tracks on the album. They both have very solid endings and start off with heavy pounding guitar riffs that actually stick in your head. They contain the traditional elements Pelican has mastered to perfection. Like quiet to loud parts and impressive technical skill on the guitars.
Lost in the Headlights” has the band throw some more radio friendly riffs in the mix but its just not very memorable.
A delicate sense of balance” closes the album. The beginning is amazing and shows the potential this song had. The slowed down tempo works very well with the mechanic drumming. But somehow they manage not to use the beautiful opening riff in the rest of the song. The result : Another track that just doesn’t go anywhere. The modest ending is not so fitting here, both to the song and to the album as a whole.

So we have a few good tracks and a lot of mediocre stuff that will be forgotten by next year. Another big problem is the lack of atmosphere. A Pelican album should sound epic and triumphant. Only one or two songs managed to evoke those emotions. The much shorter songs also prevent epic build-ups or heavy repetitive droning riffs, two of Pelicans trademarks of the past. I must say this album was quite a disappointment. Don’t trust me though , you can check the entire album out on the official Pelican website by clicking here. So is this a transitional moment in Pelicans career or have they lost touch?

Out on Hydra Head, June 2007
Written 04/07/2007

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7 Days remaining

Posted in Japan News on September 23, 2007 by joeki2000

Actually , its just 6 after today.
I spent my last Sunday in the city of Paris which I had never visited before. We saw all the famous landmarks and had a few good laughs so it was a great last weekend.
Maybe I can post some pictures of the trip later.

So in one week I will be in Matsumoto (松本), Japan and I’m really getting nervous. Preparations have gone surprisingly well considering I had very little information a month ago. I have got health insurance, my visa cleared last month and I have a good suitcase and a nice amount of Japanese money (円). I have also made arrangements to get from Narita Airport to my apartment in Matsumoto. I hope that goes well. If I make it through the 12 hour flight in good shape there shouldn’t be many problems (I hope 🙂 ) .

What’s left for me to do this week?
First getting some winter clothes. I hear Matsumoto is rather cold in the winter so I’m going to need some thicker clothes. Second I have to pick up my airplane tickets, which the travelling agency has been holding for me. And last but not least I still need to do a good deal of reviewing because I really haven’t practised my Japanese a lot in the last two months and I believe the placement tests are the day after my arrival.
I’m excited but at the same time I think the first month is going to be quite a test. I’m not used to being away from home a long time and I’m not the most independent person on the planet. So yeah, that will be scary. But again if I survive the first month, I hope I’ll be fine . So next time I post here I will probably be in Japan.

Nadja – Touched (Remastered)

Posted in Review on September 18, 2007 by joeki2000

Touched” was originally released in 2003. It only saw a limited CDRom release. Furthermore the quality of this material was, compared to other releases from that period, rather weak to Nadja’s standards. Mainly in production it failed to impress.
So the duo decided to release this new remastered version along with a new bonus track this year.

The album sounds completely different. The broad structure is still there but its so much heavier yet at the same time sounds crystal clear. The smoother guitar is further back in the mix compared to the original material.
The release opens with “Mutagen“, a 15 minute droning piece of ambient metal. Occasionaly we catch some more melody but it’s mainly just 2 riffs being droned the length of the song.
The second piece “Stays Demons” is arguably the best on this release. It starts in a dubby fashion with electronics and drums. But soon the droning guitars kick in again playing a simple but effective 4 chord riff . When the vocals make their debut on the record you know this is a Nadja release. Beautifully whispered voices lead out the walls of drone and form the path for a high pitched guitar that tries to take us up into thin air where oxygen is scarce. Only to decent violently again when the droning resurfaces. Fortunatly we get to do this several times again.
Up next is the two piece “Incubation/Metamorphosis“. This starts with some noise/sample experimentation and slowly swells post rock style into a full fledged song. Again whispered vocals just add subtle melody. When the drums kick in I am anticipating an explosion into another drone filled piece of metal. But they fake out the listener here and go for a more groovy effort putting the emphasis on rhythm rather than heaviness. Growls take over as the song meanders on like a river. A few minutes later, practically out of the blue, it does finally explode, but a lot more timid than we are used to from Nadja. These post rock dynamics work very well for them.
Next up is “Flowers of the Flesh“. A relentless 8 chord riff opens this song. It is similar to the second track using a high pitched guitar to create a modest melody. It is nice and gloomy but the formula worked better on track 2.
We have a fitting fade out with noise, samples and barely audible whispering. The album should have ended here becouse the bonus track doesn’t really add anything to the listening experience.

This is once again a strong showing by Nadja who made a good call restructuring this album. It’s always heavy and has some melodic touches at the right times. The only flaw I could find was the bonus track and perhaps some more clean vocals would have been nice. Still : this is arguably the best doom/ambient release of the year.

out on Alien8 , March 2007
Written 09/04/2007

Last.FM

Posted in Technical on September 10, 2007 by joeki2000

I added a feed from my last.fm page in the sidebar. This feed displays my weekly top played artists. If you go to the page you will get alot more charts including

  • Recently Played tracks
  • Overall Top played artists
  • Weekly and Overall top played tracks

There is also a radio player where you can preview some of the tracks I listened to. Last.Fm is sometimes a bit unstable  so I’m still evaluating wether this will be a permanent addition to the blog.

September 11th Edit :

On some more music related news, I’ve just put the final hand on the first three reviews. They are all 2007 albums and I’ll post them soon.

Language Pack

Posted in Technical on September 6, 2007 by joeki2000

I have already noticed the first problem.

You might get some weird symbols at the top of the page like this :

“Watarimono / ?n? ”

If this is the case, you do not have the Windows Asian Language pack installed (needed for seeing Kanji and kana) . This is easy and free if you have a legitimate windows copy. It doesn’t take up alot of memory either. If you install it you will finally be able to see those Chinese or Japanese website’s you have been dying to check out. Needless to say any Japanese entry posted on this blog will not be readable either if you do not install it.

An easy guide to installing the language pack on all windows versions can be found here . I also added a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page where some possible problems are adressed.

The “Japan” page has been updated and I created the “My Paper” page. This section of the blog is rather personal and is basicly an archive or log for my convenience.

September 9th edit :
Added the “My Music” page. This serves mainly as an archive to keep track of the music reviews I will post in the future. I also tried to explain my motivation for this a little bit and hope atleast someday someone will read one of them and check out the particular band. Thats as far as my aspirations go.