irony and firewalls

“Scio me nihil scire” – Socrates

According to Plato, this is Socrates response to the claim by the Oracle of Delphi that ‘no human is wiser’ than he. “I know one thing, that I know nothing.” Rather than being Socrates denial of his knowledge, this was a claim that, to understand what one lacks is a true test of wisdom. This seems to have been the tack in the US senate of late, whose coverage was consistently and frustratingly interjected with phrases such as "I'm not a nerd" or "I'm no tech expert, but they tell me..."
The problem is that the issue in hand in the senate at the moment may very well dictate and shape the future of what is currently the single biggest technological advance connecting human beings the world over, the internet.


strike the harps

“It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid” Crooned Paul Young in nineteen eighty four over the spine tingling opening to the first band aid single.
But nearly three decades down the line there is still an inherent fear that rises in me with the dawning of winter and the imminence of the Christmas period. A fear that for the better part of a month and a half, everywhere I go I will be subjected to the never ending tirade of over-played, over-hyped, Christmas jingles. Or worse still, that there will be yet another attempt to capture the feeling of the season and squeeze it, against its will, into three minutes of senseless and emotionless frivolity.
As my tone may reveal I’m not a huge fan of the tradition of Christmas songs, in my mind they inhabit the worst parts of the festive period. A place where the charm and warmth of open fires and Bing Crosby have been forgotten in place of brightly coloured, plastic tinsel and eggnog based cocktails tipped over coworkers at raucous office Christmas parties.


nanowrimo - week five

To the winners circle!
This blog is the fourth in a series following my experiences joining the other plucky individuals across the globe participating in National Novel Writing Month.

The challenge: write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November.
Check the links below for the previous weeks blogs:


nanowrimo - week four

It can't be all bad!
This blog is the fourth in a series following my experiences joining the other plucky individuals across the globe participating in National Novel Writing Month.
The challenge: write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November.
Check the links below for the previous weeks blogs:


nanowrimo - week three

Onwards brave writers!
This blog is the third in a series following my experiences joining the other plucky individuals across the globe participating in National Novel Writing Month.
The challenge: write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November.
Check the links below for the previous weeks blogs


nanowrimo - week two

And so the writing continues. 
This blog is the second in a series following my experiences joining the other plucky individuals across the globe participating in National Novel Writing Month.
The challenge: write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November.
Check the links below for the previous weeks blogs:


nanowrimo - week one

As mentioned in last week’s news blog I have spent my time attacking the challenge of National Novel Writing Month with great fervour. Not wanting to publish my work here I do want to relay my experiences on a weekly basis in an effort to keep this blog alive during November. To be honest I thought I would be too fed up of writing to have even the slightest motivation to continue here, but it comes as a welcome relief and hopefully in posterity it should offer some insight should I choose to take on the challenge again next year.


now new news - 11.11

In the upcoming month this blog will fall a little silent as outside commitments take up a large proportion of my time and life.
Firstly I will be taking part in national novel writing month, which involves an attempt to write 50,000 words over the thirty days of November. I have had a solid concept for a novel knocking around for years now but never any inclination to sit down and actually type the thing. NaNoWriMo seems to bring a stronger sense of community to the process rather than the singular author sitting alone in a room, and with Miss F successfully following her dream in our nations capital I have a lot more time on my hands and a necessity to be social in light of her absence.
I'm not sure if I'll update the blog with what is being written, would anyone want to read a blog a quarter of a novel at a time? Answers in the comments if you have them.


addiction to the physical

In the many faiths and doctrines of our wide and varied planet there are a few interconnected ideals, strings of common sense meant to appeal to humanity at a base level. Kindness to others, moderation and the renouncing of material possessions all feature highly across the gamut of both secular and non-secular faiths and where I am wholly in favour of the two former I am a sucker for ignoring if not blatantly defying the latter. I like ‘stuff’, as much as I am told that the key to happiness, creativity and enlightenment itself is to clear out the clutter of my life and live by an ethos of less being more I have quite a problem giving it all up. I am by no means a hoarder, but like most of us – like you I wouldn’t wonder – I have a penchant for things. I like things that make life easier, things that solve a long term problem, things that mean I no longer have to think about the thing itself.


another dimension...new galaxy?

Those not of a geeky persuasion (if that is you, thank you for gracing my blog with your acceptably cool self!) may not have heard a large hubbub in the nerd community regarding the release of the star wars saga on blu-rayI thought I loved the Lucas lunch-ticket that is star wars as much as the next man, but I would be sorely mistaken with regard to the nuances which are causing the collective vitriol of the geek community to rise such as has never been seen before. Granted Lucas has made some major blunders in his days as he rode about on Lando’s dashing cloak tails, but adding an additional “Nooo!” here or there does not really undermine the emotion of an individual scene or the scope of the overall saga. I am currently here to offer a small saving grace to Mr Lucas in this bleak hour of fanboy insurrection in the form of a trend which has been darkening our screens far worse than repeated re-hashings of star wars ever could.


let's be adult about it

The is something strangely comforting when considering the balances which hold the human race on the precipice of advancement, each time we extend our reach we account for our actions and put in place a means of regulation and control as a counterbalance to our increased lean away from the fulcrum.
For the most part these institutions and rules work as they should but conversely, there are periods when control is applied to something which has made no attempt at increase or progress. As time passes we are left with a situation akin to the Emperors new clothes, a vague sense that something is inherently wrong yet slightly indefinable. There becomes a transparency to the arguments for these measures which, while trying to shield us from the metaphorically naked truth underneath, claim in themselves, to be the supporters of decency and common good.


the future heart of music

Human beings, as with all mammals, are a finite species; we are inbuilt with defects and obsolesce which cannot and were never intended to last forever. Almost every mammal on the planet is governed by the steady beat of their hearts, at a gentle 28 beats per minute an elephants heart finally gives out after 70 years or just over a billion heartbeats. A billion heartbeats seems to be a standard across the board for the majority of mammals, all apart from one; humans.
We have nearly tripled our capacity racking up nearly 3 billion heartbeats over our 80 years life expectancy. With all this bonus time on our hands the expectation would be that we had learned to relax and live life at a comfortable pace, allowing our hearts an easy ride. But it would seem that our pace is increasing exponentially; everything about modern human existence is built on the speed at which it can be achieved, whether we’re talking bullet trains or smartphones.


new market media

I love information, I think it inherent in the human psyche, the want, need and permeation of information are the things that drive our species. In the Amazon delta or the Kenyan savannah information and communication can prevent one falling prey to hidden predators, in the information age it can mean the death of your income and ego if you do not use information to your advantage. And we now have so much access to so much information at any given moment that it is hard to imagine how much this has changed the world. From tribal fires to the Manzetti / Bell problem, communication and the exchange of information has been a constant human pursuit and investment of our time and technology. 


the anti-social network

In the wake of the over publicised and much maligned riots that rippled across England earlier this month it appears that technology and mass social interaction over the internet is once again being put forth as a scapegoat and proving once again that without any actual communication with social media providers or their users the government is at high risk of losing its footing on the last of the slowly slipping common ground with the modern public.
Facebook, twitter and RIM (Canadian founders of the blackberry system) are being called upon as spokespeople for the millions of users on their networks, most notably consumers who are suspected of using the networks to incite and organise violence and looting during the disturbances.


Bioshock: Rapture - a review

As will become apparent to anyone reading more than a few of my posts here I am a huge fan of the Bioshock series. I believe them to be a shining example of how sophisticated and powerful the medium of gaming can be if treated with the passion and respect a creative venture deserves.
Bioshock is for the most part a narrative driven game, an in depth story unravelling in both directions of time with strong allusions and reverence to important works of literature and philosophy. The plot not only deals with the subjects of idealism, faith, loyalty and dystopia it also focuses on the concept of choice, both in the real world and in the meta-philosophical sense of gaming itself. Throughout the game you are directed onwards by well formed and believable characters while learning about the games past events through found audio diaries scattered around the game environment. While this drip feeding of information appealed strongly to the completist in me, attempting to form a logical timeline out of these morsels proves to be difficult especially when factoring in the addition of a sequel based in and around simultaneous events in the ailing city of Rapture.


should Wii ridicule or revere?

As the heavenly shaft of light thins to the closing doors of this the age of seventh generation game consoles, there will come a period of introspection and reflection as to what effect these machines will have on the future of technology and the shape of human/computer interface.
The past six years has seen great leaps and bounds in gaming technology and developed the gaming market to a level comparable with the ailing music and movie industries. Gaming has gone social, controller-less, portable, casual, and into the 3rd dimension all to please its pleasantly spoilt fans. E3, comic-con and PAX are now huge events on the media and social calendars, drawing vast crowds and big name celebrities to conventions which were once snubbed and brushed aside for only the lowliest of socially inept geek to covet a place in its now thronging exhibition halls.

The main perpetrator of this popularity; the machine that brought children, grandparents and whole families together to bring gaming to its new rank of social acceptability?


the perpetual muse

When I record somebody else's song, I have to make it my own or it doesn't feel right. I'll say to myself, I wrote this and he doesn't know it! 
 - Johnny Cash

There has been a spate of programs across the BBC recently regarding music; or rather the BBC always has something on about music but this so happens to be regarding genres and ideas in music that interest me. In ‘Secrets of the pop song’ the beeb commissioned Guy Chambers (40 million record selling Robbie Williams collaborator) to write three pop songs of a distinct theme, the ballad, the breakthrough single and the anthem.
The later one struck me as odd because I’d always thought of anthems as something more fluid than the usual songwriting fare, more organic in the way they surface, essentially a song becomes an anthem as opposed to being written for that specific purpose. The appropriation of a song by an emotion is what really causes music to stick to our lives like internal postcards of places and times; it’s said that memories are better triggered by smell than by sight, where does sound fall into that hierarchy?
It becomes apparent that no matter how a song is written or by what intention it is produced it is the relevant appropriation by the public mindset which defines how a song will play out through musical history. One of the easiest ways to see this is through the cover version, songs molded and remodeled by other artists as tribute or by means of sharing the emotion they felt when they first heard the song.


monologue on man-boy misconceptions

So after reading this this week and not really having a whole lot to write about I thought it about time to correct some issues with the stereotype this particular article is attempting to portray and by doing so shed some light on a few wrongs in the plight of the modern male.
Mr Flett is obviously quite successful, a published author of a self-help book and self confessed ‘Alpha male’ and it would be very easy of me, after only a few cursory clicks through his website, to pick a stereotype which I believe Mr Flett to fall under but I’m not here for eye-for-an-eye retribution, the real issue here is the concept of what constitutes a man in the modern world.


so-called social schism

And so google+ has landed; facebook and yet not.
Having never joined and having withheld my vitriol for facebook since starting this blog, I now have an adequate comparison and reason to espouse my distaste for the social Goliath. I can’t say that I am a particularly social person, I don’t set out to be anti-social by any means and people who I deem to be my friends I enjoy spending time with much like everybody else. Where I differ, I think, is that I don’t really seek out social interaction, I’m very happy in my own company, rarely get bored or lonely and generally quite like being on my own.


a month without music

For the better part of a month now I have been without the usual staple of music that has filled my life for the better part of fifteen years.


the orphaned community leader

Picture the scene, an uneven field of technology, like an opening shot from a terminator movie, mangled titanium body parts and jettisoned circuitry strewn across the wasteland.
You are the embodiment of mankind; your fleshy shape stumbles and falls as you strive onwards in a never ending march of progress. The metallic carcasses and blinking rubble surrounding you should make sense, they should be a part of your history, of your memory, but in reality you have no idea how or when you began to walk or how long you have struggled through this mire of technology that hinders your advance.

Sound familiar? Probably not, as by reading this you have embraced one of the myriad of nuances and intriguing aspects of the internet.


now new news - 06.11

For all of my opinion and rhetoric over the past few months I have mentioned very little of what is actually occurring in my own musical ‘career’ (should such a word be applicable)


sights/sounds of our time

Recently I have taken to listening to regular, band produced albums less and becoming more and more enamoured with soundtracks.
This can be partly blamed on the video game soundtracks I am currently undertaking and partly, by what seems to be, the new idiom growing amongst the film industry of understanding just how important an interesting and cohesive soundtrack is to the over-arching nature of film as an experience. 
So I wanted to share with you my views on the changing shape of film scores and highlight some of the greatest of late.


songs to test by - a review

The first thing that needs to be said is that this is not Portal 1, the short lived ambient brilliance of Kelly Baileys work on the original 3 hour puzzlefest created an amazing feel for the isolation and subtly understated storyline of Portal 1. Rarely did it come to the forefront of the experience to show you exactly what Bailey was capable of, he seemed to have kept those moments for the stirring score for Half life 2. The music to portal 1 was emotional but beautifully understated.


meta reporting and the outlawed web

Are you taking part in the new quiet revolution? 

Are you one of a new breed of dissidents and dissenters who are going against the grain, flaunting the law and creating general unrest amongst the countries leaders? 

Have you disclosed the identities of a celebrity with an injunction? 

Through the rise of the social web we are all more connected than we care to understand, all linked by the liberty of our voice in an un-policed environment.


a brief apology Re: 'sights/sounds of our time'

It would seem that blogger and I are at a difference of opinion. I wanted to put up a full post regarding cinematic scores and their evolution, featuring full length versions of feature tracks, blogger begged to differ when I posted 'sight/sounds of our time.'

I will endeavour to finish up this blog and have it back out to you in full in the very near future.
Thank you for your time.


bonus mid-week post - Ulrike and Eamon compliant

You are standing a small loosely constructed room made from chipboard, In front of you there is a large screen showing an interview/interrogation in a room similar to yours. You have a mobile phone in your hand, it does not belong to you but you keep it pressed tight to your ear.
“Now turn and leave the room and head out to the courtyard with the large mirror.” The faceless voice instructs, and you follow obligingly.
Why? Even after the experience I can’t tell you why I willingly walked the streets of Nottingham taking orders from a strong voiced man with exquisite diction. When he asked me to say, out loud, in public
“I am Ulrike and I am a decisive person” I complied despite the obvious embarrassment.


elusive signature in a sea of the free - part 2

In part 1 of this diatribe I spoke about the changes in the music industry over the past decade and how the switch to accepting digital music changed the way in which everyone with ears and a wallet thought about their record collection. Fans wanted free and were willing to flaunt the law to get it, the record companies had few ideas on how to market such a blanket interconnectivity of consumption, the bands seemed to be the only ones benefiting as they stepped away from the labels and made new connections with fans. 


ownership with your head in the cloud

Sometime in the near future the way in which you have access to your media will change significantly; it will pull you away from a legal pitfall which is punishable by considerable remuneration and jail time. All this will change and you won’t even realise that it’s happened.

The Hargreaves report is set to be published this week detailing the need for a change in the currently over stringent copyright laws in the UK. This report was set into motion on the back of a previous report, dubbed 'the google review' stating that technology based companies, such as the modern goliath Google would never have had a chance to start up if they had been founded in the UK due to the current state of copyright regulations. And so in another bid to grasp some modernity and cool for British politics David Cameron commissioned the Hargreaves report. The report itself is an assessment of the way in which both providers and modern citizens of the UK produce and consume media.


clash of tiny titans

Words, Language, they are the reason for our elevation to the highest species on the planet and the reason I can communicate with you here and now. 
The humble book has come a long way since Gutenberg reeled off the first texts from his press and today the battle seems to have begun between the leafy, long standing champion of literature, the common paperback and the young but popular upstart of the ebook.


using stolen fire

As the myth goes creation itself, the very spark of life was stolen from the gods by man. We gained knowledge beyond our grasp and dissolved the hold of apparent higher powers over our exploits. 
But the question begs to be asked, 
how do we use this fire?

As human beings we have the innate gift of creation whether through the freight-train tenacity of invention, the nurture of offspring or the varying mediums of art.
In the later there are few times when the strangest of tides pull seemingly disparate individuals together and fuse them into an almighty force that impacts the medium upon which they land. 


a triptych of co-dependency

For some time I have been mulling over the nature of creative endeavours and in many ways this blog is the main output for my feelings toward and about creative industry and pastime.
I predominantly write on music but many of these ideals and theses can be applied across the gamut of creativity.
One of my main concerns is the creative’s contact with appreciation and fandom. The way in which the symbiotic relationship of output to consumption, and conversely the necessity for validation and on some occasions income can be affected on both sides.
How much power does a fanbase hold over and artist? And how far can an artist continue without the recognition and/or justification of their peers?


do musicians dream in electronic beeps?

A realisation came to me after posting my miniature musicians memoirs a few weeks ago and that is, that after a few years of making music almost solely by computer I have a distinct vocabulary that I realise is somewhat garbled to those who are not in the know on music production.
I have, in past blogs, used phrases such as "pinched the high end a bit" which means absolutely nothing to most of you. The image to the right is a pretty standard set-up for a professional computer musician, and even to me its a little daunting, to most it is a jumbled mess of computer geekery beyond comprehension.   
So this blog is dedicated to an explanation and glossary of sounds and effects used. A sort of, "how to blag a conversation about electronica and music production".


elusive signature in a sea of the free - part 1

It is impossible to deny that the face and even the very form of almost every consumable media has changed significantly in the past decade.
Ten years ago the tradition of singer songwriters and the vinyl age were drawing to a close following the deaths of John Lee Hooker, Joey Ramone and George Harrison
Thirty years since their last chart surfacing, the beatles released "1" a collection of all their no. 1 singles which sold better than any beatles record before or since.
In the wake of this decline the gears of the music industry ground slowly to a halt and the silence they left was filed with a kraftwerk-esque series of computerised blips, a stream of hidden information.

The digital age of music had begun!


in depth with the Portal:Awakening OST - part 3

This post follows on from the two previous posts discussing the music from the upcoming portal mod 'Portal: Awakening' in development here;


the why in new now

I suppose now is as good a time as any to give you the rundown of my life in music.
Fret not, this is not some lengthy memoir monologue, rather it has become clear recently that very few members of my friends and family have any knowledge of my musical hobbyism, and a brief description of how, why and when, written here will save all the quarrellings should I become the ego-bloated rockstar who forgets that any of you ever existed. 


in depth with the Portal:Awakening OST - part 2

This feature follows on from the first three discussed tracks from the upcoming portal mod 'Portal: Awakening'. Sadly it would seem that at this time the game will not appear to the general public until after the release of Portal 2, but (now under new management) I'm hoping their hard work will pay off in the near future, that aside please have a look at the glorious screenshots and tidbits they have released so far;


games as art

Music aside, one of my increasingly embedded passions has been computer gaming. I have had the fortunate knack of off-setting myself some five years behind most gaming trends for some time now and its benefits have always treat me well.


in depth with the Portal:Awakening OST - part 1

Attempting to gain any semblance of recognition in a creative industry is possibly one of the most infuriatingly, futile pastimes any human being can attempt, but the love of a medium can often drive people on.
I have not had much of a following as a musician in the past eight or so years I have tinkered with it as a hobby but recentley I had discovered (through means of my gaming geekiness) moddb.com, a website for developers of games made from modified game engines of previous releases.


to begin...

I have only recently begun blogging on other sites that offer various sections to ones online profile. Previous to this, and like many people I would assume, I had not thought my life and by extension thoughts to be of merit or interest to others in any way.