torquill: The magician Howl (happy things)
I have come to the realization that what I love most about Burning Man is those enormous, obnoxiously loud art cars with 43 subwoofers and enough LEDs to light up a small city.

Seriously, you see praise of the amazing art cars out there... the smaller ones shaped like praying mantises, or skeletal mastodons, or giant flaming octopuses. But when it comes to the big ones with sound systems -- the two-story birthday cake, the Dancetronauts cube, Flying Heart, some of the others I can't name but see hear every year -- you hear people bitching about how loud they are and, sometimes, how unimaginative. (I would like to point out here that, so long as they turn their systems down in the city and near the Temple, judging what people choose to do with their $150,000 mutant vehicle isn't really in keeping with Burning Man's principles... but I digress.)

But I love them.

My favorite thing out there, hands-down, is going out at night on my bike (which is kitted out as a hippocampus) and finding an art car which is playing decent music -- usually some form of house or trance, but sometimes general electronica or disco -- and shadowing it. I play pilot-fish as it cruises at 5-10mph across the open playa, listen to the music, try to steer around dust patches, and generally relax. You'll find me mounted up for 2-3 hours at a time most nights, sometimes longer.

There are several advantages to this practice: some of the cars have great music, on amazing sound systems (I like to feel the bass); being next to an art car means I'm less likely to get hit by some other bicyclist or vehicle, which is a real hazard given how badly lit some of the bicyclists are (light yourselves, darkwads, it's so that you can be seen!); and the cars have better lighting than I can manage on my bike, so I can see the dust snakes and obstacles before I run into them. They also choose a destination, when I don't really have one in mind... I'll attach myself to a car and take a tour of the playa, and often I get to visit things I didn't know were out there. There's a lot of art and a lot of attractions in mid- to deep playa that you don't see from the city.

So I come up to the mutant vehicle, settle myself out of the cone of the loudest speakers, and ride along. I try to stay well back of the front wheels, so that if they need to turn, I'm not in the way or making the driver nervous (we had an art car fatality this year, so they were really twitchy by the end of the week). Beyond that, I just have to avoid the exhaust and whatever engine or generator is riding on the back, and stay 8-12 feet to one side. Easy, on a good bike that coasts well. The passengers often call out when they see my hippocampus, and enjoy sharing the trip.

There's something comforting about having that slow-moving bulk at one hand, wheels turning steadily as the music thrums. I was watching the LED outlines on the Space Shuttle dim slightly as it did bass drops this year; apparently they don't have a separate power source for the amps. Kalliope does, but none of the VW camp's cars (Kalliope/Vanguard included) do cruising, they just park and set up shop. Quite a shame. I just stood and took in a Kalliope set this year, with the VW bus (Walter), VW bug (Big Red), and Vanguard providing a wall of lights... it was a Serious Experience. But I prefer to be in motion.

I fondly remember the first art car I did this with, in 2009: the Reel Mobile, with its giant tape deck reels rotating endlessly, taking me on a tour of deep playa in the wee small hours of the morning, playing an odd mix of German industrial and Russian techno. It's been gone these last several years, and the birthday cake seems to have joined it, but I found several newer ones this year that filled the gap. And there's always Soul Train to offer my daily requirement of funk.

Keep cruising, sound-system art cars. I look forward to pilot-fishing with you.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dork)
I really am working -- I swear. I've got the article outline forming up.

I'm listening to, though; I discovered today that DJ Ciacomix has a regular show Mondays from 13:00 to 15:30. I love this guy. His occasional comments, rather than being irritating (I really dislike people who interrupt my music) are entertaining enough that he makes me laugh. That's always a good thing.

It's fortunate I ran across him now, as I have a mix he did two years ago which I loved, but his accent is so thick (he's in Germany) that I couldn't make out who he was on that recording. Now I know his name, and I can get more of his really good European trance. In fact -- insert GEEK tag here -- I set up a cron job to run every Monday at 12:55 with a timed run of streamripper to catch the show. So long as I have disk space, I won't miss it. It reminds me of the old days of programming my VCR... ;)

I'm running this show through streamripper too, of course. Wonderful program. It has an option to retransmit the stream on a localhost port of your choice, so I pointed xmms to that to listen in while I record. (Oh, and I fixed xmms today as well, for extra bonus happiness. It just needed to be pointed to the correct sound output.)

I donated $50 to AHDJs last month, when I still had funds, and they sent me a t-shirt as a thank-you gift. Nice people. :)

Edit: Bah, it's 2:30 and he's signed off already, leaving me to listen to really dull canned music. I hope next week is better.
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
It's funny... I read cheerful books (fantasy with, largely, happy endings)... but I listen to rather dark music. It occurred to me when I was introducing a friend to XTC -- I hadn't realized how grim a lot of "Skylarking" actually is -- and I'm reminded of it again now. Depeche Mode may have changed the style of their darkness toward mystery and sensuality with "Songs Of Faith And Devotion", but the fact remains that "Music For The Masses" is full of betrayal and unhappiness, and "Violator" is focused on vices.

Still.... nobody sounds like Dave Gahan. Talk about an iconic singer. I may love the way Maynard James Keenan sings, but his isn't a voice that haunts my subconscious.

It strikes me that songs end up being the set of friends that never really leave you. You may outgrow them, and they may mean different things to you at various stages of your life... but you can always go back and visit. I first started listening to "Music For The Masses" when I was fourteen and angsty; I listen to it today and wonder what my "friend" would think of where I am now. I certainly didn't expect to end up here.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (squee)
I got a little package in the mail today. UPS stuffed it in the mailbox, which puzzled me for a little bit as I hunted around for the parcel that was listed as "delivered". They're not supposed to do that. :)

I used up daylight hours to unpack it, which (in this season of spending every available moment in the garden) says a great deal about its importance.

My first thought: it's really small. It fits in the coin pocket of my jeans. I now have a little, bitty, shiny, kickass mp3/mp4 player. This makes me happy.

details )

So I have portable music, and a sweet kitty asleep on my bed, and seeds sprouting in the light rack, and the melon bed is dug. I'm going to go have dinner. Life does have its up sides sometimes. :)
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
There are two men on this earth who know exactly how to please me. They aren't always spot-on, but when they get it, they delight me like no one else.

I know them only as The Crystal Method.

Having finally gotten a stereo worth the effort, I cracked the wrapper on Community Service II. It is, in a word, interesting. Not as good as the first one, but nowhere near boring, either.

Track four is exquisite. Full stop.
They remixed "Keep Hope Alive". It's the closest thing I have to a signature song... but sadly, I think the original is better.
Track ten: hey, guys, your Aphex Twin is showing.

And what can I say about Bizarre Love Triangle? Somehow, I don't know how, they managed to remix a song and made it even more authentic than the original. Of all the New Order I've ever liked, I love that song most, even without the memories... I was laughing helplessly in astonished delight at their treatment of it.

New music = happy me.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)

I spent eleven hours -- minus a bit here and there to do stuff like eat and fix the sprinkler -- working on that damn stereo.

I soldered. I laid wire. I ran more errands. I cried in frustration. I skipped dinner. I screwed and unscrewed and clipped and unclipped and took the whole damn dashboard apart.

I found out there was nowhere in the fusebox to get power. Rather than try to run it through the firewall (which is hard) my dad figured out a way to get power from the lighter. Then I installed the head unit, turned it on, and the amp had no power. After reclipping leads and still getting no power, we replaced a blown fuse in the line. That finally did it.

The upshot:

Full fuctionality. Radio and CD, the amp works, all four speakers (at least it doesn't sound like I'm missing one, must check later), and I plugged in the subwoofer and found that it vibrated happily. I can play the half of my collection that I have only in mp3 format. I have it all back again.

There are still a few things to do -- testing, for one. I need to install the straps to secure the woofer, which is currently just wedged in a corner of the trunk. And the inside of my car looks like a tornado hit it. I put all the bodywork back together, but I have personal stuff everywhere, from the console, glove box, and so on.

I also haven't done any homework at all today. I have a 40-point take-home quiz due Thursday morning that I haven't touched, and I was supposed to do a problem to turn in for discussion tomorrow. I'm also behind on the reading. But you know what?

It's okay.
I have music again.

Yay sanity.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (school)
I hit a bike today.

Fortunately, it was mounted on the back of a truck, which I managed to back into (after an initial glance, I hadn't been paying attention to directly behind me, where he started pulling out as well). We got out, looked it over, concluded that there was no damage; the bike rack had given it enough freedom to move. No damage to my car, either.

I've been having this feeling that I'm going to get into an accident these last couple of days; frankly, if this is it, I will consider myself to be very, very lucky.

If you hadn't guessed, I drove up today. My last 10-ride pass was going to fall one trip short, and a regular ticket is $22.80 round-trip... it costs less than that in gas and parking to do two trips by car, let alone one. Besides, we're cleaning out the greenhouse in Plant Prop, and I'll have to haul home a bunch of plants.

I need to pick up my biochem exam before lab. Not looking forward to it; the last one was a nasty shock. If I do better than a 70% on this one, I'll be happy... hopefully that will set the bar low enough that I won't be crushed.

A note to the trance DJs out there: the surest way to my heart is to find one of the (rare) copies of Skylab's "Satellite" and mix it in. A DJ from Germany was the latest one to win me over that way. Not an easy piece to find, but quite lovely.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (challenge)
AfterhoursDJs is trying to cover their bandwidth costs; the plea seems to be more desperate than usual at the moment. It's a really great channel, to the point where I rip the stream to put it in the car, and I've been really happy with 75% of what I get. If you like trance, check out the live feed at (click through at the bottom) and think about tossing a little change their way.
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
Music ramblings... )

I've heard that MTV is going to offer older music video downloads. Might be worth a look.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (weirdness)
Am I the only one who listens to "The Statue Got Me High" and thinks of the Melkur?

(Talk about geek confluence... not sure how many people out there would even get both references.)

Edit: Apparently no, I'm not the only one.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
Everything really is better when I have a trance stream.

I'm not usually into Internet radio, but is quite yummy. (If the 192k feed cuts out on you after a few minutes, try the 24k feed, it's often better behaved.)

I could live with having this jacked into my brain.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
I've been meaning to post this for months. Always "when I have time", but it keeps coming back to mind at odd moments. So...

Why do I listen to the music I do? Or, more generally, what do I look for in my music?

Cut for the uninterested )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
I've had a song running through my head for quite a while now, refreshed on Tuesday by watching the season finale of the Chris Eccleston Dr. Who again. High-energy techno, on loop in my head. It was driving me batty.

It absorbed me to the point that I ripped the audio track of the entire episode off a DVD and fed it into Audacity, so that I could harvest a couple of good clips. (DVD ripping in linux has gotten a lot more mature, and I'm still singing the praises of Audacity for audio editing.) It took a couple hours, but I had to have the music that was in my head.

Then I started looking it up, and wondering. And then Nick started playing the full, unadulterated track on his computer. He had found it.

Very minor spoiler for those who haven't seen the 9th Doctor, and plan on doing so )

So now I have the whole (enormously catchy) track, without having to edit anything. Yay!

And I asked Nick to grab a copy of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" while he was at it. I'm not really big on his music, but that song has always been a favorite of mine, between the horns and the syncopation.

For those who are wondering, the cut-tag is because I'm very sensitive to minor spoilers about things I'm planning to see, and want to be at least as considerate as I'd want others to be. And I mean minor spoilers. I like it when I haven't seen any trailers for a movie, only heard it was worth seeing, because then I'm not anticipating anything. The mutters about who's in the next season of Doctor Who annoy me -- if they're bringing back so-and-so, I want it to be a pleasant surprise. So I figured that, despite the fact that anyone who sees the episode will have the information in the first five minutes, it was a surprise to me the first time around, and I don't want to deny anyone else that discovery.

Sermon over. :)
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
I said I'd have to do a review of the current CD in my stereo. )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
Imagine my grief when I managed to take off some of the lacquer on my copy of Sasha's "Communicate One", right in the two spots where I loved it best.

Then there was hope, when I realized that I had the tracks in mp3 format on my computer... and frustration when I discovered that the encoding process had introduced blank space at the end of each track, breaking up the smooth transitions of the mix.

I have just spent about an hour in Audacity, working with the decoded WAV files, looking at some very fine-grained wave forms and making judicious snips. I got rid of blank space, plus a couple of encoding artifacts (the "thud" as the encoder reaches for more data and falls off the end of the WAV file). Then I threw the files back into WAV, burned them to CD-RW to spare me XMMS' hesitation as it changes tracks, and started playing the disc to see whether I could detect any remaining flaws in the transitions.

I can't hear any bad ones, even with a trained ear which is also very familiar with the CD. A slight pop in one spot, similar to a small speck of dust on a record. Otherwise, I haven't been able to tell when the transitions occur. Not at all.

I have my CD back! *dance dance*

Now I get to look for Communicate Two -- I know it's around here somewhere, in its case...
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
If you are at all a techno junkie, check out the "Run Lola Run" soundtrack. (The movie's good too.)

My impression from the first time through: Powerful, elegant, and quirky, without being downright weird. Listen to it on a good set of headphones or, better still, a full system that lets you feel the beat. Lovely.

I'm going to be enjoying this one for quite a while.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
At least for the time being, until I discover some other song that I want on this CD... I wrenched the tracks I needed from Apple's grasping little hands. I just have to say...

I have "All Through The Night", sung in beautiful Welsh!

And now you do too.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (teh mad)
I need make no apologies for how I arrange my own CD of Christmas music. Dammit. If I want those three songs in a row, in a row they will be. Doesn't matter what I think anyone else might like.

That said, I'm mad at the iTunes Music Store. I booted to Windows, brought up iTunes, and found a song I wanted. That was the easy part.

It took me an hour or so to read through the license agreements, sign up for an account, discover I already had one I don't recall signing up for, recover/reset the password, verify my info, make another account for the music store itself (I guess the other one was Apple, generic), feed it my credit card and address, verify my info again, sign in three more times, find the music, and click "Buy".

I bought it. It said so. It went to download it, and told me "oops, sorry, the music store is temporarily unavailable. Try again later."

I tried several times in the next couple hours before I gave up and went back to my native linux. I can't find that track anywhere else, I want it for this Christmas CD, I paid for it so give me my music, biotch.



I'm currently arranging the tracks I already have, and waiting (not-so-patiently) for iTunes to come back up. And I just realized that fitting that track in may mean rearranging the others again. Feh.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
The song I heard caroled today at Dickens Fair, which I couldn't name and which drove me batty all through high tea, turns out to be one I already had on my list of my favorite holiday music.

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen

It's yet another German song... considering that it was the Germans who really got into Christmas, and (through Prince Albert) reintroduced it to England, I shouldn't be too surprised that several of my favorite seasonal songs are from Germany.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
I'm listening to Sasha ("Communicate One"), ripping "Live in Ibiza 2", and thinking that Ibiza 1 must be in my portable CD player. Somewhere. I lost it a few months ago, though I suspect it's somewhere in this house... I did, however, find a copy of Ibiza 1 while cleaning my room today. Good thing, as this is apparently the only set of Sasha discs I had neglected to rip to MP3. That is being corrected.

In which I ramble about CDs, music, and technical gibberish )


torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)

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