To Mosh or Not to Mosh


Hello loyal readers! Want to get a perspective on mosh pits and live music? Check out my article To Mosh or Not to Mosh!

~Austin R Ryan

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Sample Size


Sample Size

By Austin R Ryan

            Like plenty of progressive rock fans, I fell hard in love with the genre and gave it most of my ear. I felt all too eager to spread my musical self-discovery to others, and spent plenty of evenings putting on Rush and The Mars Volta for friends and trying to explain to them why they needed to look more impressed than they did. After a I got enough “cease and desist” looks from my friends, I accepted that this genre would not be everyone’s favorite and tried to keep pressure free music exchanges going where I could. Yet the more and more I listened to progressive rock the more I found my friends giving me pieces that reminiscent of my favorite brand.

Particularly, I remember Kanye West’s Power. People loved Power, because it radiated its title. I never loved rap, and at points hated it, but Power felt fluid and forceful. I remember hearing Power again and again for a while, and whenever I did I went home and listened to King Crimson. Power featured a sample of that beautiful moment in King Crimson’s 21st century schizoid man where the music readies to lurch right into the pounding rhythm of a violently undulating trumpet, steadied by the aggressive roll of the drum and bass beat.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouwCWDbBskU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujIbpt-CCTY

 

Power never compelled me to listen to more Kanye. It only ever made me retreat to King Crimson because that simple sample reminded of how much more I liked King Crimson than Kanye. Similarly, when I played 21st century schizoid man for friends who heard the song, they started discussing Kanye, which leads to listening to Kanye. I always expected sampling to open up musical avenues for people. So far I’ve been proven dead wrong on that note.

For my friends, that sample did not open up King Crimson, it just lead them back to Kanye, just as it only pushed me further into a prog rock cloister. When a sample really hit me nothing compelled me to pursue the source of that sample. In fact, even samples I knew did not push me to appreciate the source of the sample more. Immortal Technique wove in Ennio Morricone’s Ecstasy of Gold into Land of The Gun so well that I felt my head spin like a revolver in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly whenever I heard the song. The incredible sampling made me appreciate Immortal Technique more than I had before, but it did not make me think to pick up some Ennio Morricone soundtracks, even though it was that soundtrack that ran shivers of nostalgia down my spine, and did at least some of the emotional legwork for Land of The Gun.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dcV7HVnRU8

 

I felt a bit frustrated at the way samples could overpower a song and still go unrecognized and abandoned by myself and others. It seemed like samples provided an avenue for exchange that no one went down. A sample of an old song left the old song just as dead as before. However music cannot be blamed for how people listen to it, and conversely samples deliver wonderful bits of cultural memory that make them fascinating. Immortal Technique does something remarkable in Land of The Gun by using that simple sample to conjure up images of a traditional cultural view of the west as wild and untamed. He follows up on that image and uses his lyrics and the mesh of violent noise to relate it to the city streets. Similarly, Willy Moon’s sample in Railroad Track adds an element of power to the song that it would otherwise lack. That steady vocal force blends in with the tremor of noises rippling across the track. The pound of the church bell, the strike of the lightning and the soothing high and low pitch gliding into the track brings it all together beneath the Willy’s energetic voice. Without saying much, Willy Moon creates a story and the sample he uses is beyond crucial in the construction of that story.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF479nQ-s8E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-Ib36OXrEL8#!

 

If there ever were an area of rap I’d tell other genres to embody, it is the sampling. Even though sampling’s full potential as a glorious touch of history for a new listener may never come to fruition, a sample can build up a story with all the deluge and force of memory and culture. A sample may not open up as many paths as it should, but it can dot the path you are headed down with scenery just as visceral as the drum roll, the guitar riff and the bass groove.

 

An interesting website if you want to track some samples down:

http://www.whosampled.com/

Escaping Aspiration


Escaping Aspiration

            Everyone writes. Teachers demand sheets of organized black lines on routine and treasured job holders covet cover letters. Everything in this world is built upon the rhythmic clicks of a keyboard or the smooth lines drawn from granite, chalk and ink. Fingers sweating beneath the buzzing gaze of a backlight compile financial reports and propaganda pieces. Amongst the seas of fingers sliding across little tiled letters we lose the crucial knowledge that writing is not simply necessity, but at heart an art. Even in the raised register of academia, everything written belongs to the author. I always maintain that I give a teacher a paper, but the nature of writing dictates that that paper is still mine. I simply released it into the world.

            After running through the incessant scribbling of a day’s work there might come a moment when the fingers scorn the keyboard. Constantly, we write for things, for grades, for jobs, for other people. Upon passing some inordinate threshold, some line drawn in stressful sands, the thought of pounding each key rouses a terrible headache. Not a sentence can find approval from a jumbled and judgmental thought process. Massive tangles of preconceptions swab the page in mire that no thought could stand in. Am I formal enough? Did I organize this paragraph correctly? Is that phrasing awkward? Writer’s block might seem more noticeable to creative writers, but plenty of people just want to finish that paper, only to find they can hardly dream up a proper sentence. Endless swirls of vicious thoughts tear asunder our work. I wait until the crack of dawn to start on some delirious writing just so that my mind might be dulled enough to let me have a few words before it begins spellchecking.

            I have no miracle cure for writer’s block. Even the four A.M. sessions of frenzied writings can fail. You can find lists of ways to defeat the beast of bad brains on the internet, but every method is subjective in the end. The truth is that there is no exit strategy to the quagmire of writer’s block. When you get tangled up in your objective, beaten by your own thesis, you may be stuck. Although, I find that most every day we write for objectives. I know that even my creative writings have goals that loom in the distance. We take time to forget about our goals perhaps by playing a videogame, hanging out with friends, or just lounging on a nice patch of grass beneath the press of a warm sun. However, it is not so difficult to place all those long-term longings beneath a layer of printer paper.

            If it all you feel the need to escape all the aspirations and realities vexing you then try out this recommendation of mine. Remove some CD from your shelf that inspires you. Grab something that will stir you, but not direct you. Pop in your noise canceling headphones and just start writing. Just freely style whatever it is you feel like writing, whatever images might pop into your head or sentences might rouse you. Ignore how great or terrible you think you are at it. Ignore awkward phrases and poor grammar. Shed off any ideas of presentations and publications. Search for something instinctual, interesting and entirely for yourself. I run off instrumentals, dynamic pieces and sometimes a first listen to a band I’ve never head, but everyone’s tastes differ. All that matters is that you do not set anything out for yourself, you just scribe whatever it is the music brings you. I am no therapist or specialist but I know we pour ourselves out onto pages designed for others, so if you have the time, take a moment to explore yourself with a piece of music and a sheet of paper.

Cerebrally Yours, Austin R Ryan

Escaping Aspiration


Everyone writes. Teachers demand sheets of organized black lines on routine and treasured job holders covet cover letters. Everything in this world is built upon the rhythmic clicks of a keyboard or the smooth lines drawn from granite, chalk and ink. Fingers sweating beneath the buzzing gaze of a backlight compile financial reports and propaganda pieces. Amongst the seas of fingers sliding across little tiled letters we lose the crucial knowledge that writing is not simply necessity, but at heart an art. Even in the raised register of academia, everything written belongs to the author. I always maintain that I give a teacher a paper, but the nature of writing dictates that that paper is still mine. I simply released it into the world.

After running through the incessant scribbling of a day’s work there might come a moment when the fingers scorn the keyboard. Constantly, we write for things, for grades, for jobs, for other people. Upon passing some inordinate threshold, some line drawn in stressful sands, the thought of pounding each key rouses a terrible headache. Not a sentence can find approval from a jumbled and judgmental thought process. Massive tangles of preconceptions swab the page in mire that no thought could stand in. Am I formal enough? Did I organize this paragraph correctly? Is that phrasing awkward? Writer’s block might seem more noticeable to creative writers, but plenty of people just want to finish that paper, only to find they can hardly dream up a proper sentence. Endless swirls of vicious thoughts tear asunder our work. I wait until the crack of dawn to start on some delirious writing just so that my mind might be dulled enough to let me have a few words before it begins spellchecking.

I have no miracle cure for writer’s block. Even the four A.M. sessions of frenzied writings can fail. You can find lists of ways to defeat the beast of bad brains on the internet, but every method is subjective in the end. The truth is that there is no exit strategy to the quagmire of writer’s block. When you get tangled up in your objective, beaten by your own thesis, you may be stuck. Although, I find that most every day we write for objectives. I know that even my creative writings have goals that loom in the distance. We take time to forget about our goals perhaps by playing a videogame, hanging out with friends, or just lounging on a nice patch of grass beneath the press of a warm sun. However, it is not so difficult to place all those long-term longings beneath a layer of printer paper.

If it all you feel the need to escape all the aspirations and realities vexing you then try out this recommendation of mine. Remove some CD from your shelf that inspires you. Grab something that will stir you, but not direct you. Pop in your noise canceling headphones and just start writing. Just freely style whatever it is you feel like writing, whatever images might pop into your head or sentences might rouse you. Ignore how great or terrible you think you are at it. Ignore awkward phrases and poor grammar. Shed off any ideas of presentations and publications. Search for something instinctual, interesting and entirely for yourself. I run off instrumentals, dynamic pieces and sometimes a first listen to a band I’ve never head, but everyone’s tastes differ. All that matters is that you do not set anything out for yourself, you just scribe whatever it is the music brings you. I am no therapist or specialist but I know we pour ourselves out onto pages designed for others, so if you have the time, take a moment to explore yourself with a piece of music and a sheet of paper.

 

Cerebrally Yours, Austin R Ryan