Review: Yanni – Truth of Touch

You all thought I was kidding when I told you I have a wide range of musical taste. Admit it. You thought I was just kidding.

Wrong. See?

And I’m more than qualified to write this review as more than just someone listening to his music for the first time cuz I own almost everything he’s ever made. Well, studio recordings, anyway. Not all the compilation discs, because what’s the point? I’m talking Niki Nana, Chameleon Days, Keys to Imagination … old-school Yanni.

It all started when I was living in Virginia Beach back in 1992. I had some pretty stringent rules that I was living by. One of which was that I could only listen to instrumental music. The guy I was living with had some interesting stuff: Tangerine Dream, Lanz and Spears, solo David Lanz stuff … and this guy named Yanni. My buddy recorded Yanni’s Reflections of Passion on one side of a 45 minute tape. Of course, I lost the last couple tracks and a portion of the last song on the recorded tape, but at least I had them.

Anyway, as I got more into CD collecting and music in general, I decided that his music is collection-worthy. By that, I don’t mean that his music is worthy to be in my collection … I mean that his music is worth collecting. I’m not that arrogant. 😉 So I picked up Dare To Dream, which had jus barely been released.

And that was that. Yah, I like Tool, and I really get into Metallica’s old stuff … I also have times where I like to chill. You’ll be hard-pressed to find more chill music than Yanni’s.

So how does the new CD rate?

After 2 tracks in, I knew he had another winner on his hands. The sounds are lush, full, and the music is as entrancing as it has always been. If there is one thing that can be said of Yanni, it is that he has the uncanny ability to convey the feeling of the song through the music. Almost every other artist requires lyrics to convey their meaning. Yanni’s music is the lyrics. You know exactly what he is trying to bring across. This has always been, and it always will be.

The CD starts off with the title track – “Truth of Touch.” Just from the key the music is written in, to the chosen melody, the accompanying bass line, the background strings … you can feel the truth of … of ….. well, everything. I know that sounds cheesy. Really … I do. But it’s the truth! No pun intended. This song is full of happiness and peaceful warm fuzzies … like you’ve just come out of the surf from swimming with turtles and clown fish, and you’re ready to sit in and dry yourself with warmth and sunshine.

“Echo of a Dream,” the second track on the CD, will very much make you question your own state of being. “Am I awake? Did I drift off ? How did I end up in this ethereal state …?” A lot of the sounds on this track seem to have an almost binaural effect … setting your mind to relaxation mode as you ride those alpha waves to a state of relaxation and tranquility. Put this on repeat, and you’ll probably be out within two or three rounds.

Conversely, “Vertigo” slams into the song with a force akin to free-falling from a rooftop and landing  on your back on the cement below. Again, the chords, the instrumentation, the beat … you get the feeling like you’re lost in space and tumbling endlessly through a void, yet you have that nagigng feeling like you’re going to hit a wall at some point … you just don’t know when.

As the CD progresses, some of the later tracks have a kind of Hooverphonic, Enigma sound to them. It’s different from anything I’ve ever heard him do. You could almost dance to some of this stuff.

There are some suprises on this CD, but I’m going to let you discover those on your own. Who am I to spoil anything?

I am not at all surprised that he’s been around these 25+ years, consistently coming up with new music. He has a style that is at once so unique yet so familiar that he becomes  his own enigmatic doppleganger. How someone is able to this much music on his own over the course of 14 CDs is amazing to me. Yes–there are similar elements from previous works. That doesn’t mean that these songs are not incredibly fresh and incredible. He maintains an air of familiarity, yet also re-invents himself with just about every new release.
File this under “shiver,” for you will get goosebumps when you listen to this.

Review: Malatese EP

Well, today was rather interesting. As you’ll recall, I recently reviewed the Gypsy Death and You EP. WHO, by the way, made it on the newest NWShoegazing compilation! Congratulations to Alex and Emily! Excellent cover, excellent band. Again, if you haven’t checked them out, do it! They’re on muxtape.

Malatese is Jon Reed (drums), Graham Brouder (bass, vocals), Travis Legg (vocals), and George Dodson (guitar). They’re from Harrisonburg, Virginia.

So apparently Gypsy Death and You are friends with the guys from Malatese. I’m assuming they read my review of the GDaY EP because they very kindly sent me a link to their music to check out. Here are my thoughts.

My wife is with me, listening to their stuff as well. Her first reaction to “Time Mask,” the first song on the EP, was that they have a somewhat similar sound to really early U2 from about 34 seconds in. I mean, we’re talking Boy-era U2–not The Joshua Tree type material. So, you know … that’s a pretty good thing. I think it is, anyway. She also compared their sound to Weezer. I didn’t get that from their sound, but to each their own, right? I think they have a much more aggressive sound than either of those two band. Not violently aggressive … just aggressive. As in, “Hey guitar … I’m gonna pwn you. Just get used to it.” Or “You are *my* drum kit. You *will* obey me!” You know … stuff like that.

The first thing that strikes me is how well balanced the mixing is, even though it’s obvious this wasn’t recorded in a professional studio. Despite that, the drums sound as raw as if you were sitting right in front of them; the bass comes through with a very prominent distinction. I’m pretty sure I’m hearing two guitars here. Now … I don’t know if this is on purpose or not, but one of them sounds a hair out of tune. If that was on accident, whoops. If it was on purpose, congratulations–you’ve stumbled on some kind of sonic dissonance that doesn’t suck–in fact, it’s actually pretty damn cool. Edit: Uneless I’m mis-reading their email, there is but one guitar. Guess I need to break out the headphones instead of listening on iTunes.

“Heaven Would Melt” has me scratching my head. During the chorus, there’s some kind of squawking falsetto screaming that I can’t quite … get. It just doesn’t seem to fit the song. Now … to be fair, in the interest of full disclosure, with the kind of muted vocals and over-emphasized distorted guitars, it’s a bit hard to make out all the lyrics, so the squawk shrieking might very well be completely relevant. However, I have no idea.

Remember The Misfits? Ever heard of Samhain? Yah … there’s a very Glenn-Danzig-meets-Jim-Morrison kind of quality to the singer’s voice and style. For the music, it totally fits. I’m liking it.

One thing the band told me when they wrote and said, “Let us know of any comments you have, for we did everything ourselves and won’t turn down any kind of feedback.” I have one suggestion: find a way to get some funding for a professional studio because I would *love* to hear what you guys can do with some better recording equipment. I mean that with all the respect I have for what you’ve accomplished so far. Your sound is raw and raging, and I like that. I really do. But you owe it to yourselves to see what would happen in a professional studio. Hey … ya never know what you can pull off!

So I’m filing this one under “bands to watch.” I don’t know if they’ll ever score a radio hit with their sound, but ya know what? These days, that’s probably a *very* good thing. 🙂 Actually, let me amend that: I can see them becoming a college radio circuit phenomenon. That would be very, very cool cuz most college radio stations don’t play crap, so if they hit that stream, good things will happen.

Online Malatese hang-outs:

Her are some music vids they sent along as well.

Thanks for the music, gentlemen!

Super Bowl Half Time Show

So, to be fair, I’m not at all familiar with Black Eyed Peas. I don’t even know if they use a definite article to define themselves. That’s how unfamiliar I am with them. So it’s with a very large salt lick that I feel qualified to write this review. I hate it when you open the paper to read a review of the <insert favorite band name here>concert you attended the night before, only to read a less-than-favorable article because the write has no clue who the band is or any songs they play. So I’m trying to be favorable here for what I saw.

I guess I know more than I thought. I do know that Will.I.Am and Fergie are in the band, so … there’s that. However, no idea what they sing.

Gah. Ya know what? Forget it. I don’t know them, I don’t particularly care for their stuff, and that’s just  … it. That’s fact.

The best part of the half time show? The dancers off-stage who had those color-changing suits. All of us watching decided that we need to find a way to get those suits for us, then we’re gonna go dancing. Cuz really … who could resist a light-up suit?!

I will say this: they are extremely high energy. If all you’re looking for in your music is something to shake your booty to, then these guys need to be near the top of your playlist. You will shake yo’ ass until yo’ ass falls off! Like I said, I don’t really care for their stuff, but even I wanted to get up and jump around (jump around!). Ha ha ha. I slay myself.

Usher. I …

No … it’s not worth it.

So that’s that. Another half time show come and gone.

Tool Going to the Studio?

I heard a rumor … and it’s goooood.

It is entirely possible that we will have a new Tool CD by the end of the year or early next year. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

In the interest of full disclosure, I pull my source from Kabir at Toolshed. The news update from which I cull this exciting bit of news is dated 8/17/2010, so it’s not even recent news. However, given the fact that Maynard has been busy touring with A Perfect Circle, who knows how much has been accomplished. For that matter, who knows how entrenched he is in the music writing process. The band is so enigmatic that there doesn’t seem to be a definitive definition of which band members contribute what.

After reading that the other day, I wondered what vids I could find on YouTube. Oh … there are some good ones.

I like live videos on YT–fan-shot concert vids. Or professionally produced works too. I just don’t want to see a static image and hear the studio recording overlaying the “video,” ya know? Blah.

For those unfamiliar with the band, this was their first single off their 4th studio release, 10000 Days. This CD had the incredible gift of the title track, clocking in at over 11 minutes of sonic bliss. In fact, here it is.

This song on the CD is a Picasso. It’s more emotive than just about anything you can imagine. The song reflects his feelings for his mom, who reportedly passed away in 2003 (2 years after Lateralus came out).

There are very few bands who come close to matching Tool’s intensity and musicianship. If you’re not familiar with them, I would recommend picking up their 4 studio CDs and their EP (if that’s what you want to call it … it’s more of a full length CD, but whatever). Aenima is dark, angry and bleak. Lateralus–the follow-up–much “brighter.” 10000 Days … masterpiece. Brilliant writing, brilliant music. Amazing stuff.

Hurry up and get that CD out!!

Review: Moldover!

I know I already posted about this article, but I think it bears mentioning again in that I bought some stuff from reading it.

Namely, Moldover’s CD. If you check out his site, you’ll see why. It’s not rocket science. My copy came in the mail yesterday.

So, for now, we’re going to set aside the fact that the music will make you get up and shake your rump like you are the dance club. Let’s focus on the CD case.

In 2006, the legendary Tool released 10,000 Days with one of the most innovative jewel cases ever conceived. Built into the case was a set of lenses that allowed the user to view the images within the book in stereoscopic 3D. Pictures specifically designed for the CD case, members of the band … insane Alex Gray artwork.

Moldover is no Alex Gray, but he is, if nothing else, at least as innovative and creative. See … his CD case is a printed circuit board. On the board is a button that activates a little piezo speaker and blue LED. Also on the board are two photo diodes that cause the speaker and the LED to react–either by lowering the pitch or by dimming the LED. In essence, the board is its own musical instrument. How cool is that?! It’s battery-operated, so if the board starts acting funky, you can replace the battery for cheap, and you’re back to making music. Or at least squawky light-up music.

There’s a headphone jack to soothe your narcissism and allow others some peace and quiet. Or, if you feel so ambitious

Also etched on the board are the song titles, in typical PCB line fashion. On the inside cover, where the CD sits, there is a maze of lines running all over the board. At least, Ithink it’s a maze. On the left side of the board are two holes. One says “In” while the other one says “Out.” I emailed Moldover to see if my guess is correct, but I haven’t heard back yet. He’s probably off making amazing music or something.

So if you watch that video on his site about how the CD case is a musical instrument unto itself, you automatically assume that all of his music is going to be this trippy squawk stuff. Your assumption would be so far left of right that you couldn’t even prop yourself up on the edge … you would end up tumbling into the other dimension that he specifically created for his music. But when you land, you’d be so happy that you got there, that you wouldn’t care that you were just that wrong.

There’s a diversity to this CD that you can’t really justify expecting if all you based this purchase on was the “buy this CD” video, which is precisely what I did. I fully expected to get this and file it under “Aphex Twin.” Ha ha ha ha ha!

I’m assuming that he plays all his own instruments. I have yet to confirm that. But there’s a lot going on here. Drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, synth … I’m also assuming a lot of it is processed through his home-made device.

There are dance tracks. There are rock tracks. There are melodic, pensive tracks. There are discordant, loud tracks. This has something for practically everyone.

Stand-out tracks:

“Say It.” The Speak’n’Spell track. Using his custom-made sequenceer, he integrated the iconic 80s toy and created a completely melancholy track. Every word he’s asked to spell is filled with hope, dreams and life … of which the machine tells him is wrong. I cannot express how cool this track is. Seriously. This alone should make you buy the CD.

“Slipping In.” The aforementioned rock track. A very Anthrax or RatM-style rap overlaying a metal guitar track. I’m a HUGE fan of the lyrics … in all honesty, he’s no Zach de la Rocha, but he can definitely hold his own. Very cool song.

“Reflex.” A very moody, atmospheric, kind of dark track. I was talking to my 6 year old girl about how she shouldn’t be playing “Nazi Zombies” (Seriously?! Her friend at school asked her if she likes playing that game. WHY would a 6-year old even know that game exists?! It’s not even a game unto itself … it’s a Call of Duty add-on. Just … wow.), and she asked, “Is this the music from that?”

“From … what? The game?”


“Ha ha. No, honey. This is daddy’s new CD.” Pretty funny. but yah–there’s that dark element to it. I think it has to do with the Hammond organ sound that pervades the whole track, mixed with the bass and freaky noises.

I am so much more than just pleased with this CD on multiple levels. The music itself is amazing. The jewel case is seriously a collector’s item. It’s too cool NOT to own! However, it is $40, so if that’s out of your budget, I would recommend the iTunes version at $9.90. However you manged to obtain this CD, I would suggest you do it as soon as possible.

iPhone App Review: Jamendo

I admit … I’m relatively new to the music blogging world. Sure, for the first few several months year, I tended to write more about what CDs I was buying. I look back on those posts and think, “Hmm. Well, at least you can recognize where there’s room for improvement. Onward and upward, right?!”

So admittedly, there were few reviews of anything other than a smattering of CDs and a few concerts.

I’m digging this review thing. I will always throw down the occasional rant whenever the need arises, but for now reviews are good.

Which brings me to this “Jamendo” app. So I had no idea that there was a website devoted to creative common-licensed music. The app is an extension of the website, which, I have to tell you … dear sweet merciful crap in a burning paper bag, this is out of this world. There’s more music on here and more variety than I ever dreamed possible. Right now, I’m listening to Diablo Swing Orchestra’s The Butcher’s Ballroom CD. It’s like the Phantom of the Opera has decided to delve into the weird (wait … what?), picked up a violin and started throwing the bow around just to see what would come out. It’s orchestral. It’s operatic. It’s rock. It’s … not rock. It’s Flamenco. It’s mondo-bizarro weird … and I am digging the shit out of this.

But this isn’t about them. It’s about the app.

To be truthful, I don’t even know where the hell to begin. There is so much going on here that it’s basically a toss of the dart as to where to start. How about the “Featured” tab, where you have approximately 45 artists to choose from. No idea what kind of music this is because I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ONE OF THE ARTISTS.

There’s a radio tab. 5 categories:

  • Electro
  • Instrumental
  • Jazz
  • Lounge
  • Pop

Not a very diverse genre selection, if you ask me.

Okay, well … this will more than make up for the Radio tab. I completely missed the fact that under the “Featured” tab you have 4 choices:

  • Albums of the Week
  • New Releases
  • Popular Genres
  • Top 50 of the Week

Yah. That should make up for the “Radio” tab.

In the New Releases section, there are at least two Russian-language CDs and two Portuguese-language CDs. At least, if the titles are indicative of the material, and if I know my cyrllic alphabet (which really, I don’t … but I like saying that I can recognize cyrillic characters 8 out of 10 times).

No lie … check out the CD called “Free Mouse Jazz.” Check out the track “Free Mouse F***.” If you don’t laugh your ass off, you have issues. How someone came up with that is beyond me, but someone indeed did.

Anyway, so to tie the app to the website, you need to create an account. Probably on the website. In fact, I’m fairly confident that you have to create it online. I see nowhere to create an account in-app. Hmm … something to suggest to the dev team. Unless they want you to create the account online. Hmm. That’s pretty nefarious. Why? Dunno. Just seems … nefarious. Also, I like that word. A lot. It probably applies to you. 😉

Oh. Here’s a good reason to say that it’s nefarious: the only real purpose the account serves is linking to your “Favorites,” which, you know … if you don’t know how to use a search bar by now, you’re probably drinking your meals through a straw and having a nurse change your Depends. Basically, it serves little to no purpose.


Be glad you don’t know me. So far this week, I’ve been diagnosed with bronchitis and conjunctivitis. For those of you not “in the know,” conjunctivitis is that child-hood dreaded disease where your eye (or, in my lucky case eyes) gets all red, pusy, and blotchy. Commonly referred to as “pink eye,” which I don’t get. There is jack squat that’s pink. It’s *all* red, inflamed, itchy, and #$%@ing annoying.


BTW, hope you know HTML.  If not, learn it. It’s the 21st century. At the very least, you should know .php. AND html. And a myriad of other web dev languages. Oh … wait. Everything’s nice and automated.

</second tangent>

Okay, so listen … if you have an iPhone or any other smartphone that can download the Jamendo app, I would so much more than just highly recommend it. If you love discovering new music, this app is an absolute must have. And it’s FANTASTIC! Did I mention that the music is FREE to download on their site?


What Were You Doing When YOU Were 12?

When I was 12 years old, I collected Star Wars cards. Topps had a line of Return of the Jedi cards that were over-the-top uber-geeky, and I had them all. I also spent a fair amount of time avoiding getting my ass kicked. That alone was a full-time job.

I played in my backyard, climbed our tree, walked down to the park, played in the woods, walked home from detention, and stuffed broccoli in the crack between our wall unit air conditioner and the window frame.

I did not, however, make music and put them on iTunes. This chick (and I mean that almost literally) has written 4 songs and has proudly displayed them for the world to hear.

Now … in my defense, when I was 12, there was no iTunes. In fact, there was no such thing as an mp3, let alone an ipod or mp3 player. No … the most we had were huge, bulky tape players. “Walkman.”

Some of you may be wondering, “Well, she’s 12. How good could these songs be?”

Ever heard of Feist? How about Regina Spektor? Tori Amos? No? Well, okay … she’s not quite in the same league as them. YET. Give her a few years. She’ll bypass them all.

She wrote the music. She played the instruments. She wrote and sang all the lyrics. She was her own recording engineer. People … if this doesn’t have you scratching your head, you’re too dumb to realize what we’re witnessing.

She plays piano. She plays guitar. She plays the violin. She programmed the drum loops. She. Did. It. All.

And these aren’t plush, cushy, “OMGZORZIAMSOINLURVEWITHBIEBERHOTBOY” songs. There is a depth that transcends pre-adolescence. How she is able to write about relationships at this level is beyond me, but write and present she does. In “Unbound, she writes, “Don’t wait the time is now. Brace yourself in flight for all that you love. Raise your eyes to the sky and tell yourself you’ll never give in. Never fall. Fly away now. Can you feel the wind? It’s going your way. You’re unbound now–free to take to the sky and go where you want to. Fly away.” At least, that’s what I got from several passes with my phone and earbuds. Haunting. I wonder if she’s referring to someone who’s close to passing away. Regardless, to hear the song, you’d never guess that a 12 year old wrote and performed it.

What haunts me more than the musical abilities is her vocal ability. She just doesn’t sound 12. Granted, I don’t think the musical world has much of a benchmark upon which to ascertain what a 12 year old should sound like, but if Miley Cyrus is any indication, then … well, no. Mari’s voice does nothing to betray her age. She has a very Norah Jones quality to her vocals. Norah is 31–19 years Mari’s senior. The fact that she is able to pull off that voice at her age is such a rare gift.

So, listen … in a nutshell, you’re only doing yourself a dis-service by not spending the $4 on iTunes to check out her undeniable talent. Again, if you haven’t picked up on this dead-horse-beaten point, SHE IS FRICKING TWELVE YEARS OLD. Imagine what she’ll make in the next 5, 10, 15 … who knows how many years?!

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