Dan Deacon Has a New Video… and It’s Awesome!

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Last month, electronic composer Dan Deacon released his new album, Gliss Riffer. If you’re not already listening to this guy, you should be. His genre-blending music is as eccentric as it is passionate. His sound is experimental, glitchy and totally unique.

Oh hey, Adult Swim has a show that fits that last description! Airing at the graveyard slot of 4am is Dave Hughes’ hidden gem, Off the Air. Each episode sees Hughes editing music videos, animations, stock footage and other internet oddities into and 11-minute something-or-other revolved around the episode’s theme. Think of it like Liquid Television, but with even less context.

My excuse for cramming these two disjointed paragraphs into a single article is the latest collaboration between the two artists: a music video for Deacon’s new single “When I Was Done Dying”. It’s a 5-minute spectacle featuring the work of 9 immensely talented animators (most of whom have been featured on past Off the Air episodes), pieced together by Hughes into a single, cohesive, symbolic journey molded to Deacon’s euphonious tones and metaphysical lyrics. From the trippy CGI of Taras Hrabowsky to the fluid motion of one of my personal favorites, Masanobu Hiraoka, this thing is absolutely packed with inspired visuals. Check it out if you’re a fan of abstract animations, or if you just want to see collaboration at it’s finest.

As a little something extra, I’ll let you know that this isn’t the first time Deacon and Hughes have teamed up. Back in 2013, coinciding with Deacon’s appearance on the Adult Swim Singles Program, a special episode of Off the Air was set to Deacon’s 20-minute (!) feature, “U.S.A.”. I’d definitely say to check it out, just be aware that there’s a little bit of simulated, NSFW nudity towards the middle.

If you enjoyed these videos and want to see more, Adult Swim has an ongoing online live-stream running all of the Off the Air episodes in a loop. You can also find the music of Dan Deacon on iTunes.

Something to Watch/Listen to: “We Were Young” by SRTW

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Yeah, I know. It’s a little cheap to have both of this week’s posts be about animated music videos. But I really like the look and feel of this one, so let’s talk about it.

Trunk Animation brings us a stylish music video for SRTW’s single “We Were Young”. It’s a dance track, so the lyrics are relatively few and come around in circle. The video responds to this by showing animated cycle of everyday activities repeated multiple times.

It’s got a great minimalist art style and a great color scheme. When set to a soothing track like this, you’ve got a great gem to watch. Take a look!

For more music from SRTW, you can check them out on SoundCloud. For more from Trunk Animation, check out their official site.

Something to Watch/Listen to: “Many Chances” by BRNS

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Who’s up some music-driven animation? Animator Nicholas Fong has directed a music video for the indie band BRNS. Namely, a video set to “Many Chances”, a single from the band’s first LP, Patine.

It’s a darkly-colored visual journey of an evolving creature. One that fights to survive, consume and grow. A pleasant, minimalist art style and some fluid animation makes this video shine. Take a gander at this!

Like the song? Well that LP I just named (which, again, is called Patine) was released digitally a few months ago. You can find it on iTunes here.

For more from BRNS, you can check out their Tumblr. And for more work from Nicholas Fong, you can visit his Vimeo page.

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.

A Few of My Favorite Things: A Look Back At 2014

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Well, look at that. The year of 2014 has come to a close. Was it a good one for you? Looking back, some really cool stuff came out this year. Here are a few of my favorites.

Favorite Movie: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

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This is, by far, one of the coolest movie experiences I’ve had in a while. The story of a washed-out actor struggling to find relevancy is intriguing enough, but every part of this movie helps to make this an extremely enjoyable couple of hours.

The visual style alone will leave you mesmerized. The whole movie is filmed to look like one continuous take and the camera is almost constantly kept at a close-up shot, providing a sense of profound confusion and delirium. Those visuals, combined with a soundtrack made up of the hypnotizing drums provided by jazz artist Antonio Sánchez, created an environment I never wanted to leave. Throw in stand-out performances from the entire ensemble (which includes the likes of Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone,) and you’ve got one engaging ride.

Favorite Book: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley 

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The Scott Pilgrim series was a godsend for me back when I was in High School, and I found Lost at Sea to be a very enjoyable character study. So I didn’t need any convincing when Bryan Lee O’Malley’s latest graphic novel, Seconds, was published last summer. The concept is a perfectly ordinary one: A young chef’s life starts to fall apart, so she uses magical mushrooms that she receives from a mystical spirit to rewrite history and fix her mistakes. Simple, right?

Well, get past the quirkiness of it all and you find a cast of charming and relatable characters, gorgeous art and a wonderful story. A story that manages to be funny, poignant and enlightening simultaneously. I loved my time reading this one and I recommend you give it a read.

Favorite Album: You’re Dead! by Flying Lotus

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Man, am I glad to have listened to this one. You’re Dead! is the latest studio album from experimental producer Flying Lotus. An album that tackles dark themes such as insanity, addiction and, above all else, death itself.

It’s also one of those albums that you’d probably enjoy much better by not paying attention to the track list and listening to the whole thing in one go. Each track flows in and out of one another in such a way that it all becomes one mesmerizing ride, mixing in large amounts of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music to create FlyLo’s signature sound. For my own tastes, this album did a lot to push me outside of my love of electronic music and start taking a look at the jazz scene, so it’s certainly had an impact on me.

Favorite Indie Game: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

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Yeah, I had my problems with this one. I didn’t get to spend much time with the game, due to it’s short length, and I haven’t gotten to see the ending yet because I’m too much of a wimp to tackle the game’s only jump-scare section. But there’s still so much about this game that there is to love.

Ethan Carter is an atmospheric first-person exploration game where you play a supernatural detective, who can communicate with the dead in his search to find out what happened to a missing child. As you solve puzzles and murder mysteries, more and more of this wonderfully creepy story comes to light. All while exploring one of the most gorgeous game worlds I’ve ever seen.

Seriously, if nothing else, pick this one up for it’s atmosphere. Throw on a good pair of headphones and turn out the lights. You’ll be in for a treat.

As we wrap up 2014 tonight, I’d like to thank each and every one of you who have taken an interest in my ramblings. I certainly don’t have plans to stop yet. There’s more to discover out there, so I’d better get to it!

Something to Listen to: Water Dancing Speakers

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This is going to be my first appliance review. It’s not quite like the forms of entertainment I usually talk about on this blog, but I think anybody who really likes listening to music would be interested in decorating their place with products like this one. So today, I’m talking about one of the things I got for Christmas this year: the Water Dancing Speakers from RadioShack.

The Water Dancing Speakers work like this: You get two speakers, the left one you plug into a USB port for power, the right one you connect to the first one using the provided cord. You then take an auxiliary cable (also provided,) and connect the left speaker to your audio device of choice. Then you play whatever music you’d like, and the show begins.

On top of both speakers is a glass container housing four water jets (one red, one blue, one green and one yellow). The water jets will then shoot up and fall down, resembling an equalizer playing in time to your music. I’ve embedded a video below showing how this looks. To be clear, the speakers show in the video below are of a different brand, but the effect looks the same on the brand I own.

As you can see, this makes for a very pretty water and light show and a great decoration for one’s desk. Not only are the illuminated water jets fun to watch, but they make the glass containing them glow a cool light-blue. The lights also reflect off the walls and ceiling to create a beautiful aurora borealis-like effect in my room.

However, these aren’t just lights. They’re supposed to be speakers, too. Unfortunately, it’s when you start listening to the speakers that this whole thing starts to fall apart. I tested these speakers with several pieces of music, and there were two songs that told the most about how these speakers work.

The first song I tested these with is “The Night” by School of Seven Bells. Luckily the two most prominent aspects of this track, the guitar strings and the vocals, come through fine enough. The bass and drums are also audible, but everything sounds kind of flat. This is an example of the speakers at their best.

The second song, on the other hand, provided an example of the speakers at their worst. I threw on “5/4” by Gorillaz. The loud guitar string came in fine, but the vocals became nothing more than a faint echo, overpowered by the drums and bass.

I’m not the biggest expert on how speakers work, but what I think is happening is that these speakers are processing these multi-layered MP4 files down to a single layer file. The result is that some aspects of the music will come out clearer than others. Also disappointing is that only the left speaker put out any significant sound, with the right speaker only putting out ambient-static-like audio.

By the by, none of this has been helping with the sinus headache I’ve been dealing with today.

So yeah, strictly as speakers go, these are pretty terrible. But I still find value in them as desk decorations. If you simply keep them plugged into a power source, the glass will still glow and the water jets will still occasionally bounce up and down on their own. If you’re looking for good speakers, you should definitely look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for something cool-looking to decorate your place with, this might make for a great addition.

You can find the Water Dancing Speakers from RadioShack, here.

Jingle Things: Christmas Video Collection

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Have you seen Me and My Moulton, yet? It’s a charming, animated, autobiographical short film from Oscar-winning director Torill Kove, about living as a daughter of two modernist architects. If you haven’t seen it, you should go look it up. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

…You back? Okay, Here we go. So, for my final holiday-related entry this year, I recommend you check out this spin-off short, Redesigning Christmas, starring the characters from Moulton.

Again, it’s charming. The notebook-style art fits the fun take on a family holiday, and I actually want to try some of the unconventional ideas. Not enough for you? Alright, how’s this.

I found another animation on Vimeo from motion designer and video editor , who whipped up this animated greeting for his clients. It’s funny and it has a nice look to it. Take a look!

Need one more? Okay, here’s an oldie but a goody. Previously featured on Adult Swim’s Off the Air, animator and sound designer Randy Knott provides a brief glimpse at a winter night in the woods

It may not be directly Christmas-related, but I love taking a look at this one during this time of the year. To me, it’s the perfect soundtrack to coming in during a freezing winter night and cuddling with a significant other as you watch the snow fall. Here’s The Ghostly Voices Once Said!.

So there you go. Three videos to get you in the Christmas spirit. Have a very merry Holiday Season, and have a happy New Year!