Spotlight on The Great Nordic Sword Fights

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You see a portal open above you, one made of glitchy patterns of various colors. You crawl through and explore a world that resembles a broken PS2 game. In front of you, a low-polygon version of Morpheus from The Matrix quaking in terror while pointing his gun in your general direction. You have entered the world of the strange, the uncomfortable, the surreal.

You have entered the world of The Great Nordic Sword Fights.

The Great Nordic Sword Fights is an experimental director duo made up of visual artists Kristel Brinshot and Ricky Johnson Jr.. They have made everything from music videos, to web-based promos, to random acts weirdness. If you’re looking for an act that can provide something you’ve never seen anywhere else, look no further.

Okay, what do they make?

In terms of the music videos they’ve worked on, there’s always this trippy little gem. Take a look at the video set to “Personal History” by Alpine Decline.

Or, if indie rock isn’t your thing, maybe take a look at what they imagined for “Cadillac Dreams” by Birdy Nam Nam.

For a look at their original short films, It’s hard to go wrong with BEACH BUMS. Just a bunch of surfer dudes looking to catch some waves. Take a look.

Cool! So where can I find more about them?

You mean like who they are or what inspires them? Well, that’s a little tricky. These two don’t seem very interested in talking about themselves on their own time. Their official site only contains links to their contact info, social networking pages and where to watch their work. And even on their social pages, the biographies don’t do much to provide insight.

But there is one thing that might scratch that itch. A tiny bit of research led me to an article from Los Angeles I’m Yours, where they interview Kristel and Ricky about their work and what motivates them.  It’s worth a read.

Alright. Anything else I should know?

Well, there’s one more thing. They made a video game. For a single, “Girl Behind The Glass” by the electronic group Groundislava, they essentially made an interactive version of one of their music videos you have to download it from the band’s site, but it’s definitely worth a look.

That about covers what I know, but I only showed you a small sample of what they’ve done. I definitely recommend you check out their Vimeo and YouTube pages and do some exploring. There are few out there that do what these two do, and they deserve all the credit in the world for what they’ve put out.

Something to Listen to: “Mind Bokeh” by Bibio

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So, today I thought I would take a look at a slightly older album that I’ve recently gotten the chance to listen to. Music producer Bibio released an album back in 2011 that he dubs Mind Bokeh. Described by Bibio as “a balance between the familiar and the non-familiar” and you haven’t started listening to this guy’s work yet, this isn’t a bad place to start.

Bokeh refers to the blur produced by an out-of-focus camera. Mind Bokeh does a great job of playing on the idea of a mind out of focus. Whether the sounds used verhe on the experimental or the traditional, they are often muffled or otherwise obscurely textured, giving me the sense of wandering through a hazy dream.

There is hardly a track on here that doesn’t stand out in some way. From the guitar-heavy soundtrack-worthy “Take Off Your Shirt”, to the retro jingle-powered “Feminine Eye”, you can find plenty of individual tracks to revisit on multiple listens.

No doubt about it, Bibio has always had a unique sound in his work, but not one without it’s evolution. He’s not afraid to experiment and venture into different territories. In this case, he’s crafted a colorful and varied listening experience. One populated by different textures and is as cheerful in some parts as it is poignant in others.

You can find Mind Bokeh by Bibio on iTunes, here.

Something to Play: “Octodad: Dadliest Catch”

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Okay, so today I’ve come up a little short on brand spanking new things to talk about. So I’m gonna stretch back about a year to tell you about a little gem that I’ve just recently gotten to check out. Allow me to introduce you to Octodad: Dadliest Catch.

An off-shoot of the 2010 indie freeware game OctodadDadliest Catch places you in the role of a father and head of a 1950’s styled nuclear family. There’s only one little twist: you’re an octopus, disguised as a human. You’ve put on a good act so far, but you’re wife is finally starting to get suspicious and a psychotic seafood chef is doing anything he can to expose you for who you are.

The gameplay is built entirely around the concept of moving around without a skeleton. Each tentacle is controlled independently and you have to carefully coordinate their movements to accomplish your goals. You’re often being watched by others, so screw up too much and you’ll tip people off that you’re not human.

Depending on your tastes, you’ll either find the nature of the gameplay a huge amount of fun or extremely frustrating, but’s it’s definitely unique. I found the this clumsiness simulator pretty fun, for the most part. There are some parts of the game (the final level comes to mind,) that require so much precise control of your tentacles that it may take you more than a few tries to get it down.

From a representational perspective, Octodad also shines, again for the most part. The polygons can sometimes come off as a little too low-rez for one’s taste. But’s the art-style looks very pleasant, and the story is both charming and funny. The star of the show, Octodad himself, is excellently animated and his voice actor does a great job of embedding appropriate emotion and subtext in the characters blubbering.

Once you’re done with the story mode (and the two downloadable levels), there’s also support for the Steam Workshop.You can download and play mods, levels and experiments developed by fans. It probably won’t be enough to keep you entertained long-term, but it’s good for an amusing diversion.

So if you haven’t picked up this one already, there are two ways to check this one out. You can download it for PC and Mac from either Steam or the official site. If you want to wait just a little longer, it will also be available for download April 22nd on Playstation 4.

Something to Listen To: “Now There is We”

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I’ve noticed lately that my musical tastes are starting to drift towards jazz sensibilities, so I’ve been looking around for cool indie music in that genre. It’s a pleasure, then, that one of the first things I’ve come across is this wonderful single from the Berlin-based group Jazzanova. “Now There Is We” is an uplifting piece with some wonderful vocals from Paul Randolph and a solid groove stringing it all together.

But instead of just sitting here telling you about it, why don’t I show you? The official music video is embedded below. Take a listen!

You can download “Now There Is We” on iTunes and Bleep. To learn more about Jazzanova, you can visit their official site.