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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in heuristicsinc's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
5:14 pm
#372: Superhumanoids: "Do You Feel OK?"
Comp: origami 120
Genre: see below
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/4W7bdRhJz1MUla0pqy3fid

Well, it's been just over 5 years since I posted here. I guess I must have gotten a little burned out and now I can get back into it. Actually, given that my last post was in February, I think that I may have stopped because I was too busy recording songs for FAWM... however, note that it's March 2nd as I post, so FAWM is officially over for the year.

I was going to say that this might be my favorite album of 2016, but, well, it appears it came out in 2015 and I just didn't hear it until 2016. Too bad! I think I might have been able to see a concert. This band is in the same general genre that contains Phantogram, Chvrches, CLAIRE, Tiny Deaths, Computer Magic, POLIÇA,... the list goes on and on and represents a lot of my favorite things lately. I suppose it's electronic, dark pop, female vocals... back in the old days I thought of it as "ethereal" but these bands have much more up-front and strong vocal performances (compare to Cocteau Twins, for example, the emphasis on the vocals is a lot stronger in these bands). Electro-pop with female vocals? I've had a lot of trouble picking a song that would best embody what I like about this album, since there are so many choices. Here's one example...

I love how the chorus comes in, with just the right changes in instrumentation. I feel like I could learn a lot about composition from this band. There's also a really nice downtempo solo bit with some very cool echoey vocals before the chorus comes back the third time. One thing I really like about this song is it doesn't have a lot of lyrics and says a lot in what it has.

Mmmmmm.... synths....

Current Mood: good
Thursday, February 16th, 2012
3:55 pm
#371: DJ Shadow: "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt"
Comp: pax ?
Genre: turntablism
Spotify: Building Steam with a Grain of Salt

Turntablism! DJ Shadow builds his songs with old records, mixing and scratching. And perhaps with sounds of his own. Although I am reading over at wikipedia that the album that this song comes from was indeed recorded using only sampled sounds (Guinness Book says it's the first). The genre is often listed as instrumental hip hop, and that is most evident in the drums, but it's pretty downtempo/ambient-ish. Definitely genre-bending stuff. I love the mix of sounds. In this one we have choral voices that yield to stuttery drums and funky guitar. I love that mix of moods. And the transitions between sections really make you feel like you've been on a journey and ended up somewhere different from where you started. In fact, the whole album melds together and gives you a macro- version of the same feeling. It feels very organic and not cobbled together from disparate parts. In fact this wikipedia page lists all the sample sources for the album's songs. This song, for example, uses bits of 6 different sources. Cool! I don't know any of these original bits. Some of the other songs on the album, I do.

Current Mood: good
Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
5:21 pm
#370: Herbie Hancock: "Vibe Alive (Extended Dance Mix)"
Comp: origami ?
Genre: jazz-funk
Spotify: Vibe Alive

Here's a track I heard today and decided to post. This is another of Herbie Hancock's funky pieces from the 80's (1988) that features the same band as Rockit (#86). I guess this album didn't get good reviews, but I enjoy the jam character of this dance remix. I especially like how mixed in you get chunks of M/A/R/R/S's "Pump Up the Volume" and George Clinton's "Atomic Dog". The vocals are pure funkstuff. It's pretty fun to hear the track evolving as different elements come in and out.

Current Mood: okay
Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
2:32 pm
#369: Laptop: "End Credits"
Comp: origami ?
Genre: synth-pop
Spotify: End Credits

Another one I don't remember how I found, but there are some excellent songs on here. This one deals with a guy trying to call his girlfriend to break up with her:

"Hey, you're not at home
Or never answer
Pick up your telephone

Stop this teenage movie we've lived
Stop this teenage movie, you dig?

I'm ready to roll the end credits
Ready for the curtain call"

But see, she never picks up the phone. Why? We don't know. One of my favorite things about this track is the use of sound effects. Interwoven between the lyrics of the song we have the phone dialing, then ringing, the woman's answering machine ("I'm not home right now, leave me a message, and I'll call you right back. Thanks!" - so perky), and my favorite, the off-the-hook sound (awesomely, in time with the song tempo). Also, the chorus, even though it's the same line repeated, doesn't get old... it has a nice little anthem quality to it.

Current Mood: good
Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
5:16 pm
#368: Nine Invisibles: "King Dubby"
Comp: origami ?
Genre: prog?
Spotify: King Dubby

I don't remember now how I found this album. I guess they're on Delerium Records, along with Porcupine Tree and some other interesting bands. Maybe I just saw a description and thought it sounded good! It's got a nicely unique combination of sounds. Dub, world music, heavy drums, synths, space rock. This song has a great groove. I guess the main composer here is a drummer so that goes without saying. Another thing that I love in this song is the mix of vocal samples. Ethnic sounding stuff but unidentifiable. I suppose that describes the whole album! It's creative. According to some reviews I've been reading, this group formed from members of another band called Ship of Fools - sounds like something I should check out.

Current Mood: rushed
Thursday, January 5th, 2012
11:37 pm
#367: They Might Be Giants: "The Mesopotamians"
Comp: origami ?
Genre: quirky pop
Spotify: "The Mesopotamians"

They Might Be Giants reappears, after a hiatus of only 23 entries but almost four years. Heh. This song came up on my phone's shuffle play today and inspired me to post it. It has what is probably the most improbable chorus I've ever heard:

"We're the Mesopotamians!
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh!"

The best part is it WORKS and you can sing along to it. Go ahead and try! The scheme here is that The Mesopotamians are a band that nobody's ever heard of and there are links between the band and the historic people. It's cool. Also, the mention of Hammurabi reminds me of an old text-based computer game we used to play... it was a resource utilization and allocation game, and wow - the wiki says it was written in 1968, even earlier than I thought! Anyway, back to The Mesopotamians. A while back I found a fun animated video for the song and you can see it here at the tube. After I hear this song I'm sure I'll be singing it to my daughter for the next couple of days. It's that fun! Think she'll get a kick out of it too.

Lots of thanks to our friend Bryan for giving us this CD a few years ago!

Current Mood: boppy
Saturday, December 31st, 2011
5:49 pm
#366: Arthur Loves Plastic: "New Year's"
Comp: origami ?
Genre: electronic
Spotify: not there!

So! This post represents the first post of a new year's worth of posts (365 previous posts) and it's on New Years Eve! How's that for appropriate! So how long did it take me to make one year's worth of posts? #1 was 14 Sept 2006. That's only a bit over 5 years... okay. Let's get back to work! I previously talked about Arthur Loves Plastic in #171. Here she is again, with a song featuring vocals by Lisa Moscatiello. Unfortunately, all of my listening opportunities fail on me here - Spotify doesn't have this album, and ALP's Tapegerm page doesn't have it any more either! You can hear a sample of the original song here, or you can hear the whole length of my own remix of it here, but neither of these are very satisfying if what you want is the original song (also, I am pretty bummed that the only comment on my remix is "out of tune" - blah!). Anyway, this song is topical, of course, so I picked it today. It's not the most upbeat set of lyrics, though!

"Poised on the brink of destruction
Dancing on the rim of despair
Turning away from the past
And the ghost that lives there

Everyone says I'm a trooper
But I tend to disagree
It's just a drunken stupor
Saving me"


"Confetti's released in the square
And the same old thoughts remain
I'd have some hope if I dared
But nothing's changed

Cold dark night and a loud cry
All I do is stare
And stagger to my room
To sleep so I don't care"

However, in true ALP fashion, the music is pretty danceable and catchy. I especially love the chord sounds. Happy New Year!

Current Mood: happy
Thursday, December 29th, 2011
11:58 pm
#365: Kraftwerk: "Music Non Stop"
Comp: origami 95
Genre: industrial
Spotify: Music Non Stop

So! I've done 365 of these here song posts and somehow have managed to not post a Kraftwerk song yet. If you can't tell from the name, these guys are German, and have been recording music since 1970, making them pioneers in this genre (electronic music). I guess they're not exactly industrial as we know it, but they certainly had a large part in starting it in the right direction. They are well known for using synthesizers and especially vocoded vocals, presenting a robotic "persona" and dancy but impersonal songs. This song has a fun rhythm which is set up by a voice speaking "boing, boom chop-chop, boing, boom chop ping, boing, boom chop-chop, boing, boom chop chun" and the drums come in among the words. Pretty catchy! This version comes from the album The Mix, which is a compilation album of sorts, of re-recorded versions of older songs. The band said that they wanted to make an album that represented the current (1991) sound that they had in concerts, so they re-did the old songs instead of just making a greatest hits album. I enjoy hearing the new versions alongside the old ones. Ah, according to the wikipedia, this version of the song has elements from a different song, "Boom Boom Tschak", which is where the vocal rhythm I mentioned above comes from. I like the two songs being put together in this version.

Current Mood: a bit sleepy
Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
1:22 pm
#364: FC/Kahuna: "Machine Says Yes"
Comp: ?
Genre: electronic
Spotify: Machine Says Yes

Did you know that Pandora, the excellent configurable internet radio, has most of my own (Heuristics Inc.) CDs? Yeah! And you can make stations to play based on my music. But here, I did the work for you already: Heuristics Inc. Radio. I have found quite a few great bands by listening to this station over the years. Here's one of them. These guys are British, but the vocals are done by an Icelandic woman, Hafdís Huld. The album is nicely varied. This track has a very distinctive bassline - woow woow woow woow and combined with the drums makes for a very danceable track. I love the intricacy of the drum track on this one. It's got a great breakdown/solo section too. I guess there's only one verse, then a bit of repetition of the chorus, but a good amount of instrumental sections too. But here's the most memorable part of the lyrics (from the chorus):

"I'm gonna stay here with you
There's nothing else to do"

I'm glad I found this one on Pandora, bought the CD. Well worth checking out!

Current Mood: fine
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
11:49 pm
#363: Portishead: "Machine Gun"
Comp: origami 80
Genre: trip-hop
Spotify: Machine Gun

I talked about Portishead way back in #11 for a sudden drumbeat. Well, I picked another prominent drumbeat for my next post of theirs. This song came up on my mix CD in the car today and I decided to post it if I hadn't done it already. In this case, the drumbeat comes in at the very beginning, and continues throughout with some changes. I find it very compelling, especially because there are not many instruments in the mix. You have no choice but to concentrate on the drums. Then at the end there is a great classic old-style synth solo. One time I was listening to this in my office and an unexpected guest came in, and he loved this song... also unexpectedly. What good taste! Not sure what the lyrics are saying though, they're pretty oblique.

Current Mood: tired
Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
11:55 pm
#362: The Dartmouth Aires: "Crazy"
Comp: origami 100
Genre: a capella
Spotify: Crazy

So the other day I was making Spotify playlist of all the tracks I'd selected so far. And while searching for the Gnarls Barkley song "Crazy" (see #195) I found this cover. And I was intrigued by the band name, since my wife went to Dartmouth College, so I mentioned it to her (turns out that, yes, they are from that school)... and it turns out that she had just gotten a newsletter from the school that mentioned that this very same group was in the final episode of a music competition show for a capella groups (The Sing Off). So we caught the last episode, which was pretty entertaining (although it did have a lot of filler intended to raise tension). So these guys didn't win, but they came in second. Not bad! Back to this song. One of the things I love about this track is that all the "instruments" sound very real, despite being all vocals - they did a great job of keeping the electronic feel of the original song. And the pad vocals are great - I love the arrangement. Also, the lead vocalist is very talented. I'm guessing that none of the current group members were involved in this recording (their website says the track was recorded sometime between 2005-2007, but you could hear a common philosophy between then and now. Man, I love the bass. Very cool. Ha, upon checking my post about the original song, I said: "Man, that bass... so cool." I guess I am consistent, four and a half years later.

Current Mood: good
Monday, December 5th, 2011
3:24 pm
#361: New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble: "Harlem Nocturne"
Comp: origami ?
Genre: ska-jazz, what else?
Spotify: Harlem Nocturne

I got this album from my Emusic days. I think I said recently how I've been going through all of the albums in that directory in alphabetical order, so here I'm up to 'N' (Next up: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds). I was reminded of how good this album is. I was trying to pick a track to put on the next mix CD but was having trouble choosing one... there are a lot of good tracks here! Spotify also has some newer albums. Cool. Anyway, this song was on a previous origami, not sure which one. It is an old jazz standard (1939) originally written by Earle Hagan and Dick Rogers. I think the version I knew best before I got this album was by Duke Ellington, but there are a lot of them. I remember my parents watching Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (that was evidently 1984 and 1985) but I did not remember that this song was the theme music for the show. It would fit in well in a noir like that. It's got the requisite sax and a languid feel. I love the way the classic parts interact with the ska elements in this version. And when the rest of the horns come in at :48, it's a classic moment. Great arranging. Some good organ in the back there as a pad to thicken up the sound. This is a talented band - I actually listened to this album through twice this morning. Good stuff!

Current Mood: relaxed
Friday, December 2nd, 2011
12:00 am
#360: The Sisters of Mercy: "Flood II"
Comp: origami ?
Genre: goth
Spotify: Flood II

I last talked about The Sisters of Mercy all the way back in post #44. I figured it was time to revisit them! The last song was released in 1983, but this a bit later, in 1987. This album has a more synthy sound to it. "Flood" and "Flood II" make up a pair of similar songs, a diptych? According to the Wikipedia, Andrew Eldritch, the main guy of SOM, says this about the track: "It's sex—at least in this context. Most people, if you think about it, only get wet under certain circumstances. [...] Water is something so mammoth, so a flood is emotionally very stimulating."

I love the main melody line of this song. At some point I'd learned to play it on the keyboard, although I've since forgotten it. I also never got around to recording a cover or anything. Perhaps in the future. And looking at the lyrics, I can see what he means... sex.

"And her hallway
Like the ocean
And her hallway
Like the sea
Like the sea

She says no no no no harm will come your way
She says bring it on down, bring on the wave
She says: nobody done no harm
Grace of God and raise your arms
She says: face it and it's a place to stay

This, this is the way it was
This, this is the way it is
When the water come rushing, rushing in"
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
11:38 pm
#359: Peter, Paul and Mary: "Leaving on a Jet Plane"
Comp: origami ?
Genre: folk
Spotify: Leaving on a Jet Plane

My wife said she was singing this one all evening, so I figure that's as good a reason to pick a particular song as any. I love the smoothness of the vocal delivery in this song. The voices work together in harmony, like the best folk songs. The chorus picks it up in just the right ways too. The song was originally written by John Denver, who was going to name it "Oh, Babe, I Hate To Go" but more reasonable heads prevailed. The first verse is probably the best:

"All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go
I'm standing here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin', it's early morn
The taxi's waiting, he's blowin' his horn
Already I'm so lonesome I could cry"

Then there's the beautiful chorus:

"So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go
I'm leavin' on a jet plane
I don't know when I'll be back again
Oh, babe, I hate to go"

The second verse gets into apologizing for fooling around, which doesn't hold the story as well for me, but the chorus repetition brings it back well.

Current Mood: calm
Monday, November 28th, 2011
9:35 pm
#358: Louis Armstrong: "When the Saints Go Marching In"
Comp: origami 96
Genre: Dixieland (?)
Spotify: When the Saints Go Marching In

Louis Armstrong is one of the jazz greats who played trumpet (my own instrument, when I was in the band) and had a great, very distinctive singing voice to boot. This particular song holds a special place for us because it's the "fight song" for my wife's alma mater, Siena (the Siena Saints, get it?). I enjoy the spoken word intro and this version of the song is very nicely upbeat. I love it when the full group comes in, and Armstrong's vocals are perfect for this one. Nice solos too!

Current Mood: boppy
Sunday, November 27th, 2011
5:27 pm
#357: Action Figure Party: "Action Figure Party"
Comp: origami 96
Genre: jazz-rock-funk something hybrid
Spootify: Action Figure Party

This is a side project by one of the guys who, when I first heard them, called themselves Geggy Tah (after the names his and his bandmate's little sisters used to call them). I heard this song, I think it was on the Towson University student-run radio station, and liked it enough to go search for them later. It was pretty exciting to find out that the song was a project of somebody I already knew - Greg Kurstin (the Geggy)! This is a pretty funky affair. Interestingly enough, it's a song called "Action Figure Party" on an album called "Action Figure Party" by a band called "Action Figure Party". I swear, he does come up with different titles for other things. The album has lots of great guest artists, but I'm not sure where my copy of the CD is at for checking the liner notes on who's on this track. Perhaps I'll update this later. I love the bass and organ combo on this track. Anyway, the lyrics are pretty silly, but fun, with their mentions of kung-fu grip, guns underneath her dress, and "a permanent smile on her face". A very fun track.

Current Mood: sleepy
Saturday, November 26th, 2011
11:40 pm
#356: Brian Eno & David Byrne: "America is Waiting"
Comp: origami ?
Genre: prog-ish
Spotify: America is Waiting

Recently I saw David Byrne on his tour that followed the album "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today"... in keeping with the collaboration for the album, the songs they did on tour were all ones that he'd worked on with Brian Eno, including the album that this song comes from, "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" from 1981. The album was one of the first that used sampling to a large degree, in that the samples take center stage rather than just rhythmic background or suchlike. This song has a great funky sound, upbeat, and some good samples from an "indignant radio host" (according to wikipedia, "Unidentified indignant radio host (Ray Taliaferro of KGO NEWSTALK AM 810), San Francisco, April 1980"). "America is waiting for a message of some sort or another" and "No will whatsoever" are common phrases. I love the edgy guitar and the rhythm sounds, very Talking Heads-ish and Eno-ish at the same time, a good collaboration.

Current Mood: good
Friday, November 25th, 2011
5:05 pm
#355: Phantogram: "When I'm Small"
Comp: origami 97
Genre: trip-hop
Spotify: When I'm Small

I was heading back home from the grocery store one day and I was listening to XM radio. I had the downtempo station on and I heard this song. I bought the album when I got home, that's how much I liked it. The band is named after a kind of optical illusion, which is cool, and also cool is that they're from New York State (Saratoga Springs, to be exact, although they record somewhere more remote - don't know where exactly).

The song grabs you right away with the bassline, and that's what got my attention on XM. But the vocals are really good too, with the wordless bits and then the lyrics. Those, though, are a bit thick:

"Lucy's underground
She's never coming back
Am I still alive
Or has the light gone black

Take me underground
Take me all the way
Bring me to the fire
Throw me in the flame

So, show me love
You've got your hands on the button now
Show enough
You've got your hand on the button now"

Yeah, not really sure what the story is there. I do love the instrumentation here - the guitar wails that we hear near the end are pretty awesome.
This looks like the official video. It's pretty visually striking. I love the liquid imagery and the starkness of the backgrounds.

Current Mood: somewhat weary
Thursday, November 24th, 2011
4:13 pm
#354: 'Weird Al' Yankovic: "Eat It"
Comp: origami 95
Genre: pop parody
Spotify: Eat It

Special for Thanksgiving, here's a song all about eating. It is, of course, a parody of Michael Jackson's "Beat It". I feel like I should find the video for this one... Here it is! The video parodies the original video pretty closely too. This one's from way back in 1984. I really love the way Al rhymes words, always staying on topic and within the sounds of the original songs:

"How come you're always such a fussy young man
Don't want no Captain Crunch, don't want no Raisin Bran
Well, don't you know that other kids are starving in Japan
So eat it, just eat it

Don't want to argue, I don't want to debate
Don't want to hear about what kind of food you hate
You won't get no dessert 'till you clean off your plate
So eat it"

Pure gold! Now go eat some turkey!

Current Mood: cheerful
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
12:51 am
#353: Mike Patton: "Il Cielo in una Stanza"
Comp: origami 98
Genre: Italian
Spotify: "Il Cielo in una Stanza"

My friend Craig told me about this album. I knew a lot about Mike Patton already, since he's the lead singer from Faith No More and Mr. Bungle and a lot of other stuff, but what I did not know is that he married an Italian woman and lived in Italy for a while. So he became enamored of Italian soundtrack music and made an album of all covers. The original of this song is by Gino Paoli and Mina and can be heard here and is a very nice listen also. In the Patton cover I love the strength of his vocals and the fact that he also sang FNM songs, well, that's a lot of fun. I like his versatility. And I think that he has very good pronunciation, although I'm not an expert. Let's see if I can off-the-cuff-translate some of the words:

Quando sei qui con me (when you are here with me)
questa stanza non ha più pareti (this room doesn't have walls)
ma alberi, (but trees)
alberi infiniti (infinite trees)
quando sei qui vicino a me (when you are near me)
questo soffitto viola (this purple ceiling)
no, non esiste più. (no, it doesn't exist any more)
Io vedo il cielo sopra noi (I see the heavens above us)
che restiamo qui (we rest here)
abbandonati (marooned)
come se non ci fosse più (as if there were more)
niente, più niente al mondo. (nothing, more nothing to the world)
Suona un'armonica (plays harmonica)
mi sembra un organo (it seems to me an organ)
che vibra per te e per me (that vibrates for you and for me)
su nell'immensità del cielo. (under the immensity of the heavens)
Per te, per me: (for you, for me)
nel cielo. (the heavens)

Well, I don't think that's all correct exactly, but that was fun. It's good to practice my Italian once in a while.

Current Mood: chipper
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