First Day of Teaching 2017-2018

My top tip for the first day of teaching 2017-2018.

This year I am teaching, Performance with Electronics (PWE), Software Environments 2 (SE2), Computer Game Prototyping with Ableton (CP CGP) and Recent History of Studio Production (CP RHSP).

Feeling Strangely Fine by Semisonic

In a continuation of my unsolicited music recommendations series, todays recommendation is, Feeling Strangely Fine by Semisonic.

Feeling Strangely Fine was released in 1998 and features some stunning song writing and great lyrics.

The album opens with, what to my mind is the most well known track of the album, Closing Time. Closing Time is a modern classic, covered by many and performed in many open mic nights much to the chagrin of many a publican.

The album continues with the track Singing In My Sleep, including a catchy tune and an interesting musical conclusion. Though the highlight of the track is the stunning lyrical content,

Got your tape and it changed my mind,
Heard your voice in between the lines
I've been living in your cassette
It's the modern equivalent
Singing up to a Capulet
On a balcony in your mind

After the high energy start of the album the pace changes with Made to Last. The large guitar sounds are interesting and the solo is well crafted. It seams a shame to spoil the surprise which is the Never You Mind so I will say no more.

Track 5 Secret Smile was a single release from the album and peaked at number 12. It features the same great song writing and interesting lyrical work of the previous tracks combined with beautiful guitar sounds and a fascinating sonic landscape.

The album continues on in great strength with the considered reflection of Dnd with interesting layering beneath the intimate vocals. The change of feel for Completely Pleased is also very welcome with great vocal parts. This Will Be My Year is a harmonically interesting celebration of the optimism of a new year and a fun track.

Of the album All Worked Out is my least favorite track, and while the vocal performance is interesting the chaos of the accompaniment detracts from it and the positioning on the album seams disruptive.

California, She Spreads Her Wings and Gone to the Movies conclude the album though the fear that the best has already been is confirmed.

Feeling Strangely Fine is a great album there are some great tracks within it and a few unexpected moments such as the conclusion of California. However while Closing Time is the most famous of tracks I personal always think fondly of the album due to inclusion of Secret Smile.

If you are use Apple Music you can listen to Feeling Strangely Fine by Semisonic.

Review The Second Machine Age

Recently I completed reading The Second Machine Age - Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew Mcafee.

I found it to be a worthwhile read that both explores the potential of the near and distant future while acknowledging that much is uncertain still. The early chapters exploring the charcuteries of the second machine age where will considered and create a compelling argument that something fundamentally different has perhaps changed in the relation of capital and labour once again.

A weakness of the book was in the final chapters and particularly chapter 14 ‘Long Term Recommendations’. The chapter makes use of a Voltaire quote from Candide,

Work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.

In discussing the possibility of a universal income they argue that while it would meet the requirement of need it does not handle the other evils of boredom and vice. I felt this was a week part of their conclusion. Perhaps some other activity, other than work, exists that would handle the evils of boredom and vice? This could become the focus of humanities time if working to meet needs was no longer required.

Threads by Ruth Notman a great folk album

In a continuation of my unsolicited music recommendations series, todays recommendation is a folk album, Threads by Ruth Notman.

Threads released in 2007 is a particular interesting considering it sits just before the more commercially successful new British folk music that followed. Albums such as Here’s the Tender Coming (by The Unthanks 2009) and Sigh No More (by Mumford and Sons 2009).

The album opens with Billy Don’t You Weep For Me a well performed and mixed opening with grate guitar parts.

The album then immediately moves to the bench mark by which all modern folk albums can be the judged. A cover of Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia (perhaps not as old as you think 1978?). Personally I consider this to be one of the best versions of this song.

Threads continues on to deliver song after song of well considered and crafted performances with the mood shifting effectively from tracks such as Dark Eyed Sailor to Heather Down the Moor. Over the Hill and the Lonely Day Dies as particular highlights with heartfelt performances and detailed arrangements.

Still I Love Him, my favorite track, is a great track that provides an appropriate transition from the somber Farewell Farewell into the more bright final set of tracks at the conclusion of the album.

The final tracks of Threads are perhaps the reason that the album stands out to me with a surprising expansion of material typically within genre. Roaming features a hauntingly large arrangement with strings and multiple voices based around a piano lead. The final track What’s Going On? would be a great track for Little Mix to cover.

If you are use Apple Music you can listen to Threads.

MuSA 2017 Karlsruhe

This past week I have been at the MuSA 2017 Conference at Karlsruhe Germany presenting a paper as a result of a collaboration with a third year student. The conference was hosted by by the Karlsruhe Institut für Musikwissenschaft und Musikinformatik (IMWI).

My daily highlights from the conference can be found on my research blog AbleLemon.

As for Karlsruhe I found it to be a delightful city to visit. The tram network is stunning, cheap for groups and has a plentiful service in the middle of the town even on a Sunday.

The circumstances of my visit prevented me from enjoying the local beer but I did enjoy a wide variety of different types of Ice Tea. Of particular interest was a cherry variety which I had never seen or tried before, alas it came served in a glass and consequently I have no idea if it was home made or not!

Also from a drinks perspective I had the opportunity to try Mezzo Mix, its no cherry coke but still pretty good. There is also a medium level of fizz available in sparkling water,

I also took the opportunity to visit ZKM and enjoyed playing some vintage computer games at the ZKM_Gameplay exhibition.