Known Johnson

October 15, 2007

A Rós by any other name

Filed under: Music,Video — Tom @ 8:53 am

Here’s an absolutely painful interview with Sigur Rós conducted by NPR last week to promote a documentary about the band. For those not familiar, this Icelandic band that specializes in hard-to-define elegant, atmospheric music with lyrics sung in an entirely made-up language (similar to Cocteau Twins.) The band themselves prove as distant and as icy as their homeland’s name in this interview.

Sample dialogue, in reference to the non-lyrics:

Interviewer: “It doesn’t mean anything? If you do it the same way every time, does it start to take on a meaning to you?”

Guy from Sigur Rós: . . . (long, loooooooooong pause) . . . “No.”

October 12, 2007

Trey Gunn: Schizoid Man

Filed under: Music,Video — Tom @ 9:23 pm

I’ll make it short but sweet: this video blog shows ex-King Crimson Warr Guitarist Trey Gunn rehearsing the classic “21st Century Schizoid Man” in his hotel room for a later show with current King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto (in their own band, Tu.) He pretty much nails it – and that’s unamplified. Sorry, I just geeked out over this, and someone else needs to see this, too, I’m sure.

September 23, 2007

Whine On (You Lazy Viewer)

Filed under: Music,Video — Tom @ 12:30 pm

So I watched David Gilmour’s Remember That Night DVD last night . . . or I tried to. It appears that either my DVD player is woefully aged or there is something wrong with the first disc – I couldn’t get further than “Fat Old Sun” in the second half of the show. The video started breaking up, then the disc froze over and over, and then it would jump back to midway through the second set’s opener, “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” I’m not alone. But it works okay in my computer – annoying. I don’t want to sit in front of my monitor to watch this thing. But that fact alone causes me to believe that our 8 year old DVD player may be on its last legs.

Otherwise, this thing is stunningly beautiful. Filmed by David Mallet (who also filmed this week’s release of U2’s Popmart DVD set,) the show has just the right beautifully hazy quality that fits Gilmour and Pink Floyd’s music. It’s a shame I had to give up watching it – the whole thing was just mesmerizing.

After the RtN debacle, I opted to switch it out for the aforementioned Popmart DVD, which was equally visually gorgeous. Some buyers are already complaining about film grain and sometimes murky visuals, but that’s just how David Mallet works. I think it looks fantastic – it feels like something really special, unlike the super-crisp, overly-digital look of many new concert DVDs. Maybe it’s just me – I prefer my concert DVDs to look like film. It makes the show look like a real event, something extra special that got the actual film treatment.

Unfortunately, I only got through nine songs of the U2 DVD before I just had to call it a night – Alissa was home from her ASU football game, we watched a few more songs, and that was it. I’m just not able to stay up late like I used to. So U2, and I guess Gilmour, will have to wait for another day.

Oh, and if anyone was curious, my rip of the two Gilmour DVDs in this set amounts to four audio discs. Two discs for the concert-proper, another for about 60 minutes of audio (leftovers of the RAH show and a handful of tracks from the Mermaid Theatre,) and one more disc for the remaining 22 minutes. That’s right, it almost fit on 3 discs, but that remaining two minutes forced it over to a separate disc, so I just paired all the “various locations” tracks on it. I did leave off one track, “This Heaven,” from the AOL Sessions, as it is available on my just-acquired “deluxe edition” of On an Island (along with the rest of the AOL Sessions,) so for those who are ripping this disc and want this track, prepare for an additional 5 minutes or so. Also be aware that one of these bonus tracks is a very hidden easter egg in the form of an acoustic version of “Echoes” from Live At Abbey Road, which starts off goofy like it’s just an outtake, then becomes an excerpt of the real deal. Floyd fans will want this badly, and if you’re using DVD Audio Extractor, it’s track 1 of Chapter 13.

Now, when are we going to get Delicate Sound of Thunder on DVD?

September 19, 2007


Filed under: Music,Video — Tom @ 8:07 pm

UPS dropped off a couple of very exciting packages today: the new Mark Knopfler, Kill to Get Crimson, and Weather Report’s Forecast: Tomorrow box set. Knopfler’s disc is pretty much exactly what I was expecting and hoping for: a comfortable album of his trademark talk-singing (this is called sprechstimme,) tinges of Irish-folk, and that guitar. I don’t much care that there’s nothing surprising going on – when someone’s as good, talented, and enjoyable to listen to as Knopfler, all I really care about is having more.

I can’t really say much about the WR box other than that it’s really beautiful – there’s a huge book inside the box that has a lotta lotta text in it. I haven’t dived into that – either the book or the music – yet, but I’m looking forward to it. This should be about all I need from them – three discs covering their career and one DVD of a concert in 1978. Sounds like a good time to me.

I had been conflicted about the necessity of getting U2’s Popmart DVD (the “deluxe edition,” naturally) right now, but once I saw the thing at Best Buy yesterday, that question was answered pretty well: I needed it. I picked it up tonight while we were out and I’m glad to say it’s a gorgeous, ridiculously over-the-top package, complete with a pop-up Edge inside (the flipping-out action of which required me to show it to Alissa and add in a “doing!” sound as he popped out. I also really liked that if you turn the set over while the book is open, the Edge is printed on the backside so it appears as if he’s jumping up over the book – saying “doing!” as he does so, of course.)

Popmart and David Gilmour’s Remember That Night will fill my Saturday night, as Alissa has an ASU game to attend with her dad and brother. Once Amanda’s in bed, I’ll be sitting down with a bowl of popcorn and watching as much of these as possible (I have a feeling that I’ll only make it through one before overdosing – there’s only so much of any artist I can take at one time, so the extras will wait for a later time.) In the meantime, DVD Audio Extractor will be busy ripping the audio off so I can burn some discs (and then, of course, rip them in Itunes for my Ipod.)

August 2, 2007

The ridiculous unreality of Transformers

Filed under: Video — Tom @ 11:38 am

You’d think that if anyone were to dispute Transformers‘ in terms of realism, it would be due to the obvious element – robots that disguise themselves as vehicles. That’s patently ridiculous. Some have even taken issue with the robots being represented in such ludicrously “realistic” ways (rather than being the simple, blocky shapes they were in the 80s cartoon.) But no, not me, a space geek. I was perfectly happy suspending my disbelief to allow a reality in which robots descend upon the earth, take on the shape of popular GM products, and proceed to attack each other and us. No, my biggest issue with the film is when some government lackeys explain to others that we already knew about the “robots in disguise.” They then show a quick, top-secret video of what is obviously one of the Mars rovers rolling off its lander, then rapidly being attacked by what is obviously one of the Decepticons. Over this, one of them says that the Beagle 2 rover was attacked and destroyed by this robotic presence. Why do I have a problem with this, of all damned things? Because Beagle 2 is real. It is a British lander sent to Mars in 2003 that disappeared on entry into the planet’s atmosphere. Let me emphasize that again, so you can catch my issue: It is a British lander. A lander, not a rover. There was no rover involved in the Beagle program. NASA has the only space program sending robotic rovers to other planets, and so far only three have done so: Sojourner, Opportunity and Spirit (USSR sent two to Mars in the early 70s but one malfunctioned during entry and the other landed but stopped working after 14 seconds.) What’s my problem with this? The writers were lazy, super, stupid lazy.

Most writers in most movies would have just made up a rover name but instead our Transformers team opted to use something real, something some people out there would know about. Why?! Why not make up something that can’t be fact-checked? I realize the whole premise of the movie is ridiculous, but if you’re going to be facetious about everything else, why have this one element be based on something real? I won’t say it ruined the movie for me, but it did seriously annoy me when the scene popped up.

Otherwise, awesome movie, if totally stupid.

July 26, 2007

This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error

Filed under: Video — Tom @ 9:46 pm

Fans of Kubrick (ahem) and 2001: A Space Odyssey get ready for a big day: October 23, 2007 – the release of the Director Series: Stanley Kubrick Collection as a box and individual titles consisting of two disc versions of my all-time favorite movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, plus The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, and one disc versions of Full Metal Jacket and the Kubrick documentary, A Life In Pictures, all with beautiful new packaging (unlike the current versions which are pretty naff). The titles will also be available separately on that day, and you can bet your ass I’ll be getting 2001: A Space Odyssey – but I’ll be tempted to get the whole box for The Shining and A Clockwork Orange as well, since it’ll be cheaper that way (and I’m sure the doc is very interesting.) No details as to what is on the second disc of those sets, since Kubrick is known to have left very little extra material behind for his films – what was released to theaters is it.

January 28, 2007

Bill Frisell – Rambler

Filed under: Music,Video — Tom @ 8:28 pm

Thanks to fellow Blogcritic Mark Saleski for pointing out what I’d been looking for on YouTube a while back . . . Bill Frisell videos:


November 7, 2006

Jeff Tweedy – Sunken Treasure Live audio downloads available

Filed under: Music,Video — Tom @ 3:45 pm

Anyone who purchased the Sunken Treasure Live DVD was entitled to free downloads of mp3s of the soundtrack, but may have found that for the first couple weeks the DVD was available that the downloads were not.  Well, as of Sunday night, they are, and I was able to grab them surprisingly quickly – in about 10 minutes I downloaded all 24 tracks (yes, that’s actually more songs than on the DVD – thanks Jeff!)

Each song is zipped individually, a bit annoying, yes, but once they’re unzipped and loaded into your player of choice, the sound quality is great, if varying a bit from song to song (due to different venues.)  One relatively minor quibble: each track ends abruptly rather than segueing into the next song as a live album would.  I have to admit that I haven’t had a chance to actually watch the DVD yet, so I don’t know why the songs end so abruptly instead of either fading out or having crowd segues, but if the DVD is this way, I may find myself ripping the audio from that instead, unfortunately – I just don’t like to listen to random live tracks like this even if I’m well aware that they’re all from separate sources.  At least let me pretend they’re from a single concert.

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