kitten   April 30, 2007

Velvit Acid Christ, Hocico, and an interesting group called Aiboforcen I've recently discovered, are all in this week's update along with others too numerous to mention.

You know what I'd really like? Station IDs. You know, something that says "You're listening to mirrorshades radio," with the usual ominous music and the whole bit. Unfortunately, while my sound engineering abilities aren't horrible, putting together something that sounds halfway decent seems to be beyond me.

Anyone feel like crafting a few for me? Artists can mention their band or name along with the ID for that extra smooth exposure.

kitten   April 22, 2007

Not much to report this week; just added a lot of new stuff into rotation. Primarily Front 242 and Frontline Assembly -- just coincidence -- as well as some electro from Miss Kittin and her ilk. Enjoy, and as always, if you like what you hear at mirrorshades radio, spread the word. It's all about the love, people.

Goth poem.
kitten   April 11, 2007

Line about the night, rhyme about the gloom
Observation of the flower that wilts before the bloom
Lamenting tortured prose about the love I've lost
Wistful praise for the starkness of the winter's morning frost
Phrase about my heart, black as black can be
Angsty rhyme about the sorry state of damned humanity
Apologies to all my lovers I have led astray
Shocking line about how I hope my corpse will soon decay
Notes about a razor blade involving the word "gleaming"
Melancholy thoughts about the horrors I've been dreaming
Dramatic interjection regarding sadness I have known
Confessional of all the sins for which I must atone
Followed shortly by a fist against the being we call God
To show how intellectual I am for calling the facade
Unnecessary homage to Edgar Allen Poe
Rhyme that seems oddly out of place and breaks the flow
Mention of my blood and how it courses through my veins
Reference to my state of being shackled up in chains
Generic random line regarding my capacity for hate
Idiotic musing about the condition of my fate
Resignition to sorrow for which my head I bow
Gratuitous line about how I'm more goth than thou

kitten   April 8, 2007

I saw VNV Nation last night here in Atlanta; you can read all about it.

I'm enjoying their new album, Judgement, very much. Go get it if you haven't already (and I mean buy it, ya damn pirates!). Tracks to especially watch for are "Testament", "The Farthest Star", and "Nemesis". I think they're doing a lot to bring back the militant mood of Advance and Follow and Empires while holding onto the more thoughtful, emotive stuff from Futureperfect.

I've put some of their new tracks into rotation this week, along with a bunch from And One, Mesh, and others.

A very special thank you to the guys from Red Flag, too. Quite out of nowhere they sent me some tracks from their upcoming release Born Again. It looks as though they've been around since the early 90s and I'm surprised I'd never heard of them, but after listening, this is some quality stuff on the industrial side of darkwave. Their two promo tracks are in rotation now, so be on the lookout.

To the darkened skies once more.

I had the good fortune of seeing the VNV Nation concert last night here in Atlanta; a very exciting prospect since they are one of my favorites and, despite their having come through here once or twice before, I'd never had the chance to see them. They were opened for by And One, a well-known German ebm group fronted by Steve Naghavi who is ridiculously enthusiastic about his craft and performed a nice set to get everyone in the mood.

I've heard it said, mostly by those adopting the too-cool-for-school attitude of ennui that seems to be all the rage among would-be hipsters, that VNV Nation isn't that great live and consists mostly of a drummer, a keyboardist, and Ronan Harris jumping around yelling "Yeah! Yeah!"

Well, it's true that there is quite a lot of jumping and yelling, but that's not the point. Ronan's antics are both entertaining and fun, and he is excellent at playing to a crowd, especially a smaller venue like the Masquarade. He does quite a lot to get the audience involved with the show and his animated nature adds a lot to the music; he also knows when it's time to get serious for the more moody, downtempo pieces. The drumming was excellent as well, and the percussionist, Mark Jackson, had a lot of nice little flourishes that spun into the music nicely. Visually, the lights and on-screen graphics were well-planned and did a good job of enhancing the ambience without distracting from the act itself.

A few things were very apparent during the show. One is that Ronan, unlike so many vocalists in the electronic scene today, sounds more or less exactly like he does on his albums, which is a good thing as his voice is one of the most recognizable in the industry and, along with the thoughtful lyrics, one of the hallmarks of VNV Nation that sets them apart. Live, of course, he plays around with the tempo of things, but that sort of variety and spontaniety is why we go to concerts, isn't it.

But most of all I was struck by Ronan's humility. Several times he'd go out of his way to thank the audience, talk about how "unbelievable" the support was, and his sincere attitude about it was unlike most other groups who briefly mention the name of the city in which they happen to be at the moment. You really got a sense of his enthusiasm for both the music and the show and it helped bring everything together in a refreshing departure from other concerts where the feeling is that the artist is there out of some contractual obligation. He introduced the two supporting keyboardists even though he didn't have to, joked about the crazy people at MSI concerts, and generally seemed to be having as good a time with the show as we all were.

My idiot self left after the second encore after the house lights came up, but I'm told that the band came out a third time, about twenty minutes later, performed one last piece ("Beloved"), and then Ronan and Mark came out onto the main floor to have beers and just sort of hang out with everyone. I really, really wish I'd known to stay for that, but alas. Nevertheless, that sort of down-to-earth attitude is, I think, the mark of some very cool people.

Someone took some brief clips of the show; these are pretty close to where I was standing, though I wasn't quite so far off to the side. Sound quality is crap -- I'm guessing these were done with a cellphone camera of some sort -- but you get the idea. Enjoy:

"Please, sing with us, please!" From "Legion".

Having the audience fill in a great line. From "Darkangel".

A nice clip from "Perpetual". My hands are one of the ones waving spastically in the air, there, as I was doing for most of the show when I wasn't singing.

A bit from And One's opening performance. These guys were a lot of fun.

All in all, a most excellent show and I look forward to seeing them the next time they come round -- and this time, I'm not leaving until Ronan himself kicks me out.

kitten   April 3, 2007

No updates this week, as I was stuck in New Jersey all weekend and barely had time to think about how much I hate New Jersey, nevermind sift through music and find new additions to the rotation. But rest assured that more is in the works and will be added within a few days.

In the meantime, some enterprising soul appears to have added this station to the allsynthpop directory. Despite the fact that they put the station ID in caps (mea culpa!), whoever did it -- thanks. And, you can vote for mirrorshades radio to be the site of the week over there. I humble myself before your mighty vote-clicks!

But they call me uneducated.

I find myself engaged in debate with a friend of mine with some frequency over the state of mathematics and English education in American public schools. Being quite talented in math and often seen plowing through books on quantum mechanics just as a hobby, he argues the import of math being taught to students. I, having no head for math but being quite the English nazi, counter that English is much more important to the average Everyman than is knowing the quadratic formula.

One thing we both agree on, however, is that the way math is taught is quite poor -- a series of disconnected facts, steps to memorize and perform upon command, and zero understanding of the underlying principles is required. I myself can crunch through a quadratic equation with ease, having been forced to memorize it year after year, but to this day I have very little notion of what a quadratic equation actually is beyond a vague "something to do with parabolas", and I certainly have no idea how "negative b plus or minus the square root of quantity b-squared minus four times a times c, over two times a" works, how anyone arrived at this, or what it would possibly be used for. But as you can see I'm quite good at reciting the canned answer.

In truth, math is taught in quite an abysmal way, but it occured to me today that English fares little better in the long run. We diagramed approximately forty thousand sentences throughout middle school, something for which even the most die-hard English majors have no use.

When reading a poem, we were rarely asked to discuss it; instead we subjected it to a series of rigorous analysis about meter and rhymescheme, and memorize some useless trivia about the poet's life, like when he died or when she married.

If we read a short story, we usually had to answer a few cursory, superficial questions about the story's content ("Why did John want revenge against Bob?" or "Which character did you most identify with? If not, why not?" Seriously.), and then analyze the story for examples of alliteration or allusion. Nary a word was spoken of how allusion can enhance a story, or why alliteration is useful even in stories not read aloud. Just circle the examples and shut up.

When writing an essay we were told to adhere to the standard five-paragraph, intro-body-conclusion model, and deviations were punished. Content and clever prose were rarely rewarded, or even noticed. Spelling, and to a lesser extent grammar, were the focus of the teacher's mighty red pen, but as long as everything was spelled correctly you could have written a treatise on elephant feces without comment.

When writing reports, ten times more emphasis was placed on arbitrary rules about proper MLA citation, whether or not our bibliography was organized the way the teacher or professor wanted it, or the layout of the title page, than was ever placed on the subject matter and execution. Most instructors were damn near fanatic about insisting you had notecards, an outline, a revised outline, a rough draft, a revised draft, and then a final draft. In that order. No thought was given to how some people don't write according to formula. We may as well have been filling out Mad Libs.

I can't imagine that the high school I attended was special in any way, and in discussing this with others from around the country it seems everyone had more or less the same experience. And don't even get me started on the unbelievably wretched books we had to read; god forbid they find something even remotely interesting.

The state of English instruction in American public schools is every bit as abysmal as math instruction. Sadly, I am reminded of this fact every time I get email from one of our customers, allegedly educated adults who cannot string together a few simple sentences to request help or information without making grevious errors at best, or being utterly incomprehensible at worst. Adults who cannot read simple, step by step instructions, who falter when encountering words like "intermittent". These fools are too far gone to save, but if anyone cared, perhaps there would still be hope for the young.