the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

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Goodbye, WHM?

I am having to let more things go… and this is really hard.

I know that some of you know that those independent music labels are appreciative of any sort of exposure they can get. But I feel that I have been dragging them along a little bit.

I have a perfectionist streak and that’s probably why I don’t get articles done faster. I did get into a niche where I wrote mostly on instrumental music, but… I think that from a marketing standpoint, it would have been better if I had finished press sooner.

I continue to struggle with health issues and now I have a child with special needs. Those of you reading already have an idea. I want to say that I am being more fair to them, but really, of course, I am letting go of pressure on myself.

I partly hung on and was duplicating articles because I wanted to keep Ex-Voxers remembering that We Heart Music started out on VOX. But I suspect that many just chose to forget; although Vu was considering WordPress (and he discussed it with me so I do know where he is coming from), he went with TypePad. Kinda disappointing because oh YES, it really is easier with native audio support… and really, articles got a lot easier to do there. I don’t think Vu knocks himself out half so much or maybe some of you remember how much VOX had to be tweaked with HTML code or Javascript commands.

Ergh… I am going to write the e-mail now. Best not to put it off.


So behind on the music blogging

In addition to more submissions from Hibernate Records in the UK, I’ve been quietly getting requests from Psychonavigation Records, which… I’m not sure where they are from. The e-mails are coming from a Keith Downey who is reportedly based out of Dublin, as in Ireland. (Works for me, I’ve got a 1st cousin once removed who has a studio in Dublin– maybe you’ve heard of him? Don Bluth, the animator.)

So I sent out e-mail replies, saying I’ve been a little bogged down with health issues and putting the kids back to school, but that I’d do what I could.

I want to be polite. Really, I do. But I do have to admit that because they are struggling independent labels and pretty much say upfront that they are happy for any exposure at all, well, I don’t think they can be too upset with me.

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Squids and Octopus: Yet More Music Blogs

[WP EDIT: Heya Margy, here’s a review that includes our very cool visitor. Yes, I’m still writing for WHM, yes, Vu still uses TypePad. Thinking about cross-posting here.]

Did you own a computer in the early ‘90s? Was it a Packard Bell? Maybe you might remember a small clip of this video:

(FYI: I believe the upload was done by the group’s keyboardist)

But as much as I’d like to write about a Seattle-area band active before grunge fashion and butt rock started dominating the scene, I’m sticking with the Octopus of Love theme to highlight some music blogs with nautiloid names.

The first one is The rise and fall of the Octopus Empire, written by Greg Cole, an electronic artist based in New Zealand. He records under the names Octopus Empire and Sleepwalker. I met him by way of a blogging friend as we were happily sharing videos of singing Telsa coils and other electronically based music.

Because I’m a really big fan of electronica, I took an interest in his hardware vs. software article.
He talks about the dilemma between using software and hardware for music creation, and the opening paragraph sums up my own thoughts pretty well:
This is a continued theme through my blog and I think a subject on the minds of many electronic musicians these days, the clarity, compact nature and ease of use of software versus the clutter, expense but alleged superior sound of hardware.

In other words, software can make composing so easy and simple. Two artists I have reviewed here at WHM, Geijus and Frame The City, produce, compose, mix, and perform music almost exclusively from their laptops. But software just doesn’t quite have the same sound that hardware does, especially analog synthesizers. If you’re like me and follow artists that have worked with such, like Wendy Carlos, Martin Gore, and Vince Clarke, you can hear the difference. I know Clarke in particular is quite passionate about analog and their CV/Gate connections, compared to the MIDI standard.

Greg believes in a balance between the two. “My plan is a mainly software studio with 2 or 3 very strong characterful analog synths, any more and I think you are moving more towards collecting and further away from a productive studio,” he told me.

While talk is good, music is better. Have a listen for yourself:

Scary Squids is an indie music review site (much like WHM) run by Ben Martin. But Ben is also a music artist, both as a solo musician (Days and Dreams) and working with the band Room For a Ghost (Voices). The blog name apparently came from an early cartoon about squids and a domain of the same name.

The site has a nice, clean, uncluttered look that’s easy to view and read. Many of the reviews include videos, which is an important feature in my book. But don’t just take my word for it– have a look for yourself.

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Re: Ex-VOXcast #4: We Heart Music

I forgot to mention that Vu still maintains a copy of WHM at WordPress, here.

If that helps you follow better, please do. But note that the WP version isn’t as full-featured because of limitations with WordPress (well, limitations that would require $$$ to overcome).

There is a note of my podcast at News: The Grammy Awards 2012. Very gracious of Vu to notice and make mention. Incidentally, yes, I had blogged about a mashup featuring Adele, who did quite well at the Grammys.


A little something that made my day

As some of you may or may not know, I write music reviews for W♥M, and my last review was for a band called Frame the City (which can be found here), and I had kept in touch with Nate Moceri by e-mail to get that done.  When I let him know the review was published, we had a little side conversation:

very cool!!  Thanks a ton!  Glad to hear things are better on your end.  I know you mentioned other Portland bands when we were emailing earlier, and I forgot to ask, but are you from Portland?

No, I'm not.  I'm 3 hours slightly northeast and a state up in the Tri-Cities area in Washington state.

Very cool. I'm very familiar with that area. You're in the northwest and that's all that matters.

Thanks so much, man, that totally made my day.  I've had the chance to travel around this region a little bit, living for periods of time in some spots (especially the South Hill neighborhood of Spokane), although I am mostly here in Kennewick.  It's all pretty wonderful.  People get really down about my area being culturally desolated and starved, but I think it's pretty much a matter of perspective– there's still wonder and beauty to be found if you know where to look.

Best wishes in your musical journeys; it's been a pleasure.

I hope to meet more people like him in the near future.  We generally are pretty laid back in the Northwest, but some get a little caught up in the hipster and jet set priorities.  I would love to kid and say "and then they go 'Frisco", but then, we get people coming from Cali probably for similar reasons– if not just because it's cheaper! 😉

It also reminds me that it is totally worthwhile to be more hands on and personable with the independent acts I review.  It's cool enough that I can enjoy great music, often for free or cheap, but it's also very cool when I can interact with the artists.  Don't get me wrong, producers and stuff are cool, too (I had an exclusive arrangement with a company called Massive Music for a while, lots of lovely and weird music), but well, yeah, y'know.  You can be more yourself and less business.   

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