Sunday, July 21, 2013

Events of Late

Due to the steaming sidewalks of New York City area closely resembling the surface of Venus, I have not been venturing out and about as much. Here's some updates of my recent escapades:

Agent Cooper moment July 20th 2013: ate at Sunset Diner in Brooklyn. I of course waited until after the clouds poured their hydrating lifeblood (in liquid format) upon the scorched earth, thus making it possible for non-extremophiles to travel outside their hermetically sealed, temperature moderated domiciles. Anyway, the diner is very affordable, has GREAT food with good selection and is open 24 hrs. Located near several bus and subway stops, get your ass over here if in the area! The staff is always fantastic, with some particularly stand-out comedians and genuinely nice wait-staff. I had the chicken souvlaki platter, which consisted of (you guessed it) CHICKEN with pita bread, a greek salad, and french fries for $9.50. It was (as always) a TON of food, challenging my gastric walls to their utmost limits and was fairly priced considering it wasn't even a special. I of course finished with one of their FAMOUS donuts, made on premise (yes, many Twin Peaks reference were had); a boston creme. They deliver too, so you really don't have an excuse. GO THERE!!!

I also  spent a good 4+ hrs. listening to mid 80's Hawkwind releases in (very premature) preparation for seeing them LIVE (!!!!!) in October. I am trying to swing some craziness where I see Velvet Acid Christ on the Friday before, but it is looking bleak currently. I NEED to see VAC. It is the first tour in 13 years! I am slightly regretting not flying out to Denver to see the very first show last year which kicked off the west coast tour. I am going to miss the NYC show due to travel to Iceland, but I consider that a very fair trade. Best year for many years for Northern Lights, on a tour specific to them, in ICELAND??? Definitely a swell time and worth missing VAC. Any of you who know me know my obsession with VAC, a fairly indescribable electronic band with many of the same influences in the goth, industrial, and electronic (and occasionally metal) scenes as me that blends the aforementioned genres into a unique hybrid of psychadelic bizarreness that can be beautiful, ugly, fast, slow, sad, angry, and more; all at once even. It's hard to pick a favorite album, but "BTE: Volume 3" (a collection of rare and favorite tracks in a 4 part set) and "Calling Ov The Dead" were my first listenings, followed closely by "Lust For Blood." These show a pretty good mix of VAC's abilities, but all the albums are good in my opinion. Be mindful that on "The Art of Breaking Apart" (sound familiar NIN and Soft Cell fans?) there is a fair amount of acoustic guitar parts ala Death In June but they are spectacular. The album is a bit unbalanced with the remainder being fairly dancey bits but if you have listened to VAC before the sounds are familiar and so are some surprises. It's a great album, but I don't recommend starting with it.

I have also been listening to the early Burzum albums "Burzum," "Aske," and "Hvis Lyset Tarr Oss." While I really like Burzum's music and lyrics, as well as respect his place in Metal (and electronica) music history, I must say, he is an asshole of a person. He is a huge bigot and I am glad I have never met him. His music has been less appealing lately too, with the albums feeling very rushed. I haven't listened to the most recent outing, but I am in no hurry; I get more disgusted with Varg all the time. That said, if I like your music I will support you. If you have things I disagree with in your lyrics/iconography, etc, I will take them on a case basis to determine if I will support you. It should be said that some artists' contributions are simply so important to the development of their art that you overlook some of their flaws. I would cite Richard Wagner as an example. Your private life is your own, but what you make public in your products is another (this is why I don't buy any of Varg's racist conspiracy-theory books, etc.). Additionally, I support your right to say whatever the fuck you want. It is when actions follow words that things become more real, obviously. If you want to profess bigoted messages, that is your own (confused) business. If you burn a cross on someone's lawn, that is a different story. Coming back to Black Metal, this is a complex issue in the case of some Norwegian band members (Varg included) being involved in Church burnings. The rationale was that the churches were constructed on ancient pagan holy ground and were put there after shedding much pagan blood and forcing religious change. This is true. At the same time, these events happened many many years prior. It would be more topical for them to burn a Swedish embassy, for example, as Norway was still owned by Sweden until 1905. Back to topic though (did I have a topic?) For an example of supporting Heavy Metal music with themes that are somewhat foreign to my own, read the following: I love the band Trouble who are a professed Christian Heavy Metal band. Their doomy metal is outstanding and the message, when overtly religious, is usually stuff I get behind if I take the Christian name off it (like many major tenents of many religions); i.e. living by the golden rule and 'your freedom extends as far as my nose.' Plus they get doom; slow, colossal, and with a depressive edge. I do NOT like Stryper, they are far too non-secular and their music SUCKS MAJORLY. Its description is beyond any eye rolls, sounds of disgust, or words that I currently know or have in my power to produce. As a further example (outside of music), HP Lovecraft was racist but thankfully little of it appears in his works. Additionally, his is important work in the development of horror fiction (though many of his ideas came from older authors) which allows me to overlook this flaw a bit. Also, take Robert Heinlein, he writes incredibly strong female characters often, yet is stuck in a very gender-biased mindset despite some interesting propositions and ideas about relationship opportunities (see "Stranger In A Strange Land" UNCUT edition). He's like an apologist, almost. Anyway, profess what you believe and stand for it. I will continue to like and listen to Burzum records that don't contain Varg's bigoted messages, and I will continue not to read his books that do, extrapolate ad infinitum to life in general.
In preparation (sort of) for my upcoming transition to part outpatient, part inpatient work schedule, I decided to briefly review the history of medicine, pan-culturally! Yes, I am that boring and tedious. Anyway, I was reminded of my marked lack of Vesalius' "De Humani Corporis Fabrica" in my collection. Helpfully, it can be viewed here:

*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Recent Concert Reviews: Martyrdom Festival (Fri & Sat), (Micheal Aston's) GLJ, Weep

Last week was a big one for shows, so here's some brief reviews:

1. Martyrdom Festival II
I was unable to attend the Thursday pre-show or the Sunday show due to late set times and 7AM work, not to mention feeling fairly beat after Friday and Saturday's multiple hour onslaughts. Both days had good bands on their lineups but standouts for me are as follows:

FRIDAY (*in giant "The Shining" letters)
Decrepitaph- US doomy death metal done simple, done right. If you like Impetigo, Cianide, and old Incantation, you are in for a treat. I am a fan of Elekrokutioner's work in Tombstones, Father Befouled, and Encoffination so it was a treat to see this show. Not to mention it was their last as well. Way to go out with a bang, dudes, I feel privileged and honored to have been a part of it. I caught Elektrokutioner after a band on Saturday, very approachable, to ask for a signature on my Tombstones cd. After granting my request, I asked what projects he was currently working on. His main project is now Ghoulgotha. He was going to get their demo for me, but he couldn't find the guitarist to get the car keys. Oh well! I will try to get it from them on facebook. I would say a thing about the music that's posted but I can't get their player to work.

Morbosidad- US brutal and interesting death/black metal, often with Spanish lyrics. They threw x2 pigs' heads into the crowd, Mayhem-style, and also ripped up and burned part of a bible. So there's that. The pigs' heads became instant mosh-pit favorites and a game of 'capture-the-head' quickly ensued. I did not participate, as I did not know how sanitary those heads indeed were. The live sound was awesome and I felt the vocal delivery was far more intense in person. How Tomas Stench was able to shake and fist bump so many fans without impaling anyone on his impressive forearm spikes remains a mystery.

Kommandant- US political Black Metal that uses Fascist imagery to challenge and satirize the current state of American government and way of life. I have tons of respect for this band and they deserve (and will have!) their own review. The first half of the set was a bit sloppy (for them, which still means very tight), but the second half was well-rehearsed and impressive, though I think that of the three times I've seen them, the first (at Martyrdom Festival I, the second being at MDF 2013) was the best.

Of note, several bands (including and most notably Hellgoat) apparently decided to ritually cut their arms with razors prior to playing.

SATURDAY (*also in giant "The Shining" letters)
Shitfucker- dirty metal punk with a FOAD attitude. 'Nuff said.

 Morpheus Descends-a fantastic NY death metal band that through circumstance missed out on being better known. I would call their sound a mix between old Incantation and old Immolation, which is quite a powerhouse! Brutal stuff. They recently reformed and did not disappoint.

Bestial Mockery- dirty, nasty, Swedish Blackened Thrash, great style when done right, as it is here! I was a big fan of their chainsaw. Thankfully they didn't think they were GISM so the chain wasn't actually on it. It did smell an awfully lot like cut grass and shrubberies though, so I guess that tool has seen some use. Members are also in Rawhide (who played Sunday) a fantastic rock n' roll band, which I recommend for Motorhead and punk fans in the metal community. Considering they (Rawhide) have a song about Twin Peaks, how could I NOT like them? Interestingly, I got into both bands independently so it was a bit of a head trip to realize the connection.

2. (Micheal Aston's) Gene Loves Jezebel.
I don't care that they are a glam-goth band and are totally lame and not metal. I like them. Even the Jay Aston stuff (much more pop-oriented). The band was formed by two twin brothers who eventually broke up the band due to disagreements and (long story short) run independent versions of the band. I prefer the stuff that Micheal writes so this was awesome. He still looks pretty good and is a humorous frontman by the way! The crowd was small and pretty mixed age-wise but everybody there was super-stoked so that made for a great show! I mean, come one, they opened with 'Heartache'! They also played 'Cow,' 'Loving You Is The Best Revenge' and closed with 'Desire.' The songs sounded better live than any other version I've heard. This was due not just to the sound production and talent of the musicians, but also due to the band's ability to adjust to the crowd and adjust to maximize crowd participation, anticipation, and enjoyment. My only complaint was that they only played for about 40 minutes.

3. Weep
Okay, forget that this is band is the brainchild of talented painter and co-creator of the Venture Bros. TV show, Doc Hammer. Let's talk about the band. This is a modern goth rock band that sounds like it fell out of the 80's. I hear a fair amount of Joy Division AND New Order, though the band obviously takes quite a bit of influence from the likes of classics like Siouxie, Bauhaus, Southern Death Cult, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. Very rock oriented, which I like. Doc's vocals are really the centerpiece for me though, some of the melodies are crazy-catchy and mega-melancholic. I definitely hear more of a UK sound (especially in the guitar tone) than an American one which is interesting from a US band.

Thanks for reading, and if you find anything worth checking out here, I hope you support it! Expect regular updates (for real now), I am shooting for x1 massive update/wk.

Be seeing you,

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Agent Cooper Moment: April 6th 2013

After work in downtown Manhattan, stopped for treats near Union Square:
1. slice of grandma pie from Little Itlay Pizza III
REVIEW: best grandma pie I've had in New York. And I've tried A LOT of places.That is all.

2. one small Italian thick hot dark chocolate (expecting a different word than chocolate at the end of those adjectives? Get your head out of the gutter!) at Max Brenner's in Union Square:
REVIEW: very viscous, extremely flavorful, hyper-chocolaty. Best hot chocolate I have EVER had. And that's saying a lot.

For those of you who have not spoken to me long enough (about 5 minutes) to know, pizza and chocolate are my favorite foods on earth, or elsewhere in the cosmos for that matter. I live for them, I'd die for them, I'd have sex with them. I am like a TMNTCOTR (teenage mutant ninja turtle constantly on the rag) and that's a fact. Especially the ninja part.

 *Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Agent Cooper Moment July 1 2013

Due to some circumstances of scheduling, I found myself hungry and in search of sustenance in the Union Square area of Manhattan. As I had been craving kielbasa for about a week prior and since I knew of a place of good reputation in the area that served such stuff, I made a stop at Little Poland. Their Yelp page can be found here:

 I ordered one of the specials, which included 2 pieces of kielbasa boiled then finished on the grill and wrapped in x1 piece of bacon each, along with soup (I got borsch) and x2 'veggies' (I ordered potato salad and sauerkraut). It was, excuse me, DAMN FINE food, Diane. The preparation of the kielbasa was ideal, not to mention high quality. The borsch was good, with a higher amount of veggie content than I am used to, more like I would expect of a beef stew but that someone had exchanged a letter to be a beet stew. The potato salad was more good and not at all disappointing but was not remarkable. The sauerkraut was, however, as it was a bit more on the sweet side and had carrots which made it a bit different for me, as I am accustomed to more straight cabbage and onion varieties. The service was good and fast, though admittedly I was there at about 4 PM with only about four other customers present.
NOTE: for you vegetarians and vegans out there, options here seemed very limited from my quick perusal of the menu.


*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*