Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ramblings: Recap of 2011

As 2011 comes to a close it is time to do a little reminiscing!

Last year I wrote, "2010 will be a hard year to top in overall experiences." Oh, I had no clue... absolutely no clue.

The year started with a trip back to Georgia. New Years Eve was unexpected, as I was passing through Memphis at 23:00 I figured I might as well drop by to visit some friends and chill with them as the year turned. New Years day was spent in Atlanta with my second Couchsurfing experience, a wonderful couple, still one of my favourite hosts. That moment I was laying down in a comfortable bed, having been fed an hour prior and shared great conversation, I realized this year was going to be great. But I had no clue how epic it was going to be.

January was a pretty dry month for music for me. I was working in Macon and driving up to Atlanta on the weekends to visit the Couchsurfing couple as well as a German friend I also made through CSing.
February was my first concert, an electronic show. It's not exactly my type of thing, especially since I felt like I was considerably older than 90% of the people there, but it was still really fun. And I got to crowd surf for the first time!

The rest of the year followed with some amazing planned experiences, and some mind-blowing unexpected experiences. So, here is my year in a nutshell!

Musical Experiences of 2011
Steve Aoki
-For A Minor Reflection

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
The Ascent Of Everest
-Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson

Képzelt Város

God Is An Astronaut
-Marionette ID
Realistic Crew
Our Ceasing Voice
-Képzelt Város

No Age
God Is An Astronaut
-Coma Stereo
Our Ceasing Voice
*Norman Music Festival 4*
-The Non
-Pidgin Band
-Jesse Aycock and Paul Benjamin
-Los hijos del diablo
-Kite Flying Robot
-Colour Revolt

Pretty Black Chains
The Burning Hotels
The Non
Chrome Pony

The Appleseed Cast
-Hospital Ships
*Dustbowl Music Festival*
-Tim Miser
-Riley Jantzen
-Gentle Ghost
-Denver Duncan
-The Workweek
-Beau Jennings
-Sherree Chamberlain
-Dead Sea Choir
-The Pretty Black Chains

Explosions In The Sky
-Wye Oak
El Ten Eleven
*Homegrown Music And Art Festival*
-Burning Hotels
-The O's
-This Will Destroy You
-Neon Indian

God Is An Astronaut
-Muy Cansado
Marnie Stern
-Moving Mountains
-La Dispute

Russian Circles

New York
A Silver Mt. Zion

Memorable moments of 2011:
-Crowd surfing for the first time during Steve Aoki
-Pre-Europe road trip to attend concerts
-Shedding manly tears during Godspeed You! Black Emperor
-Achieving my dreams of seeing Képzelt Város and Marionette ID live in their own home country (Hungary)
-Experiencing Marionette ID's home town
-Finally seeing God Is An Astronaut, in Slovenia, then again in Budapest, and again in Massachusetts
-Attending the best Hip Hop concert I will probably ever attend (Realistic Crew)
-Spontaneously attending a No Age concert with a newly made friend and discovering an awesome new band (Kanagawa)
-My last night in Europe spent in Keleti Blokk rehearsal studio seeing a brand new band (the Corny) rehearse
-Meeting Labirinto in Chicago
-Meeting and hanging out with one of the guys from the Pakistani band, Basheer And The Pied Pipers.
-Experiencing and absorbing my three new friends' excitement to their first post-rock show (God Is An Astronaut)
-Visiting Caspian in their home town and experiencing some of the sights and sounds that inspire their music
-Being mentally and emotionally crushed purely by music (Arvo Pärt - Silouans Song)
-Experiencing music in an isolation tank
-István (félperc) telling me, "I wrote some new songs"

There have been some amazing albums that came out this year, way to many to count (or more accurately in my case, way too many to remember). But there have been a few that really stood out to me.

My Personal Favourite Albums of 2011:
Years Of Rice And Salt - Nothing Of Cities
Matt Stevens - Relic
Marionette ID - Alluvion
Blank Maps - EP 1
Realistic Crew - Blind Musician

Plans for 2012:
-Dead Sea Choir in Norman, Oklahoma
-Snowboarding with Our Ceasing Voice
-Meeting István (félperc) and Alkeos (These Portraits Never Spoke) in Vienna
-Hidden By The Grapes
-Drinking and acting like ninjas with Képzelt Város again
-Rosa Parks in Győr
-Harcsa Veronika
-Mental Architects in Софиа (Sofia)
-Smallman in Асеновград (Asenovgrad)
-123 in Istanbul
-Büyük Ev Ablukada
-Move to NYC
-Catch a Caspian show in another state, most likely Massachusetts (so far I have seen them once every year since 2008 and each in different states... NY, TN, TX, and GA)

2010 was the year for Post-Rock for me. 2011, however, was the year for music exploration. Metal wasn't prominent this year, in fact, I probably listened to enough Metal artists I count with one hand. Post-Rock was fairly prominent as was Indie and Ambient. I fit Jazz in a little here and there. I finally revisited Classical, which I should try to dedicate more of 2012 to. I love minimalistic, modern Classical. However, my taste took a turn for the unexpected when Silouans Song destroyed me and I had to listen to something drastically different. I was instantly open to anything, then somehow Balkan and Gypsy Folk music was introduced into my life. Later in the year a certain Turkish friendship had also opened my ears and mind to various aspects of Turkish Folk, some styles that we're familiar with here in the US (such as the guy-sitting-on-a-stool-playing-an-acoustic-guitar style folk, hah hah) and other styles that feature the style of singing that we often associate with Indian music. I also tried a little more of some Avant-Garde styles of music... I still can't get into it.
It has definitely been a year for exploration for me.

What will 2012 bring? Besides the end of the world? (Hah hah) Oh man, who knows. Based on the events of this year, I'm really excited what is in store for the next 365 days.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Misuse - "Marsupial - Part II"

Misuse is the first artist that introduced me to the Greek instrumental rock scene. For some time I thought they were no more. But apparently they've been busy with their new album! April was released last month but was brought to my attention just recently.

This last week of 2011 has been filled with surprises. Félperc is making new music and I find out one of the bands I really like is still very much in existence. 2011 is ending quite well! I wonder what more surprises will lie in store for the next three days to wrap up the year...

[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Soundcloud] [Website]
(Albums are available for purchase on Bandcamp.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Félperc - Something New

A while ago I was conversing with István. He informed me that he was going to quit writing music. Being a big fan of his work, I was pretty bummed out. Earlier today I get a message from him...
István: started to make new songs
István hell yeah

Hell yeah indeed!!!

This brings me great excitement.

[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook]
(Older albums are available for download on, his newer work is available on bandcamp.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

417.3 - ~

For a while I've wondered if or when 417.3 will be coming out with a new album. And then I saw RibsOut's post earlier this month. Needless to say, I was extremely excited. I love their -- album, especially the track +8.

Also, check out RibsOut! It's a great blog!

[] [Facebook] [Myspace]
(Albums are available for free on or download here.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

28 Degrees Taurus - Electricity

I'm back home to Oklahoma for the next few months. Hopefully I'll be able to update more frequently as opposed to the last couple weeks.
I don't have enough shoegaze so, I think I'll start listening to some. I forget how I came across these guys. They were on a small list I made to remind myself to feature on my blog. Apparently this was a while ago because I don't remember these guys' sound at all. But I liiiike!

[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Myspace]
(Albums are avilable for purchase [Name your price] on Bandcamp.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ramblings: Taking the music experience to another level

It has been my ongoing personal goal to experience music in different ways and I have been fortunate to have many amazing experiences with live music, recorded music, and with the musicians. When I discovered sensory deprivation I instantly thought of ways I can integrate music into it.

Isolation Tank
My means of ultimate sensory deprivation was float tanks (aka sensory deprivation tank, isolation tank). I first discovered floating from the television show, Fringe. Curious to see if those actually existed, I did a search and came across a few of Joe Rogan's videos explaining these. Float tanks are large enclosed tanks filled with epsom salt water (to allow for better buoyancy). As you're floating your sense of sight is completely deprived while all other senses such as touch, hearing, and your sense of gravity is highly dampened.

My first float
As my flight date departing from Los Angeles was creeping nearer, I decided to just do it... experience music in isolation. The first facility here in LA that popped up on my search was Soothing Solutions (site is currently down, try here in the mean time). For first time customers they charge you for a one hour session and give you the second one for free. So I decided to so a first float in silence then the second with music. And I didn't know until I arrived there, apparently this is the place Joe Rogan was introduced to floating.

Well, my first experience with floating was a couple days ago and it was nice. But it wasn't quite as psychedelic as I have heard others describe their experiences. The first float, they said, is usually an introductory float so you can figure out what is a comfortable position (it's surprising how even a slight movement of the arm or leg allows you to reach that comfort level) and learn how to stabilize yourself in the centre of the tank and prevent yourself from drifting into the walls. While I found that comfortable spot and quickly learned how to prevent myself from drifting into the walls quite as frequently, I could not ease my mind. The silence only put my mind on overdrive. At moments I would exhaust myself. However, overall, it was extremely relaxing. I like to describe it as conscious unconsciousness. I was incredibly rested even though I was completely conscious even with my eyes open the entire time. In complete silence time ticks by slowly. An hour feels like three.

Experiencing music under sensory deprivation

My first experience made me really refine my playlist for my second float. I had already predetermined that my second float will include music. But the original plan was thirty minutes of silence and thirty minutes of music. Well, at this point I haven't quite trained myself to ease my mind, so I formed a playlist to turn the entire one hour float into a music experience.

Act 1 - The Mind (Ambient music)

*5 minutes of silence*
The American Dollar - Rudiments Of A Spiritual Life (Ambient)
Basheer & The Pied Pipers - paperdolls
Tomáš Dvořák - The Glasshouse With Butterfly

Act 2 - The Heart (Post-Rock, Classical)

*5 minutes of silence*
Years Of Rice And Salt - Nothing Of Cities
Arvo Pärt - Silouans Song (Tallin Chamber Orchestra)

Act 3 - Passion (Post-Rock)

*5 minutes of silence*
Caspian - Moksha
Colour For A Rebel - High

The plan was to have three experiences starting with a sort of ethereal experience with the Ambient music, then emit strong emotions with a post-rock song that seems to spark some intense emotion within myself and a classical piece that destroyed me a few months ago, then finish the experience with an intense song from a band that sparked my passion in music and another personal favourite song from one of my favourite one-man projects.

I gave myself five minutes to get situated and comfortable before my float started. I was in such great anticipation that this five minutes just felt like it was dragging on... until a high pitched tone struck my ears and gradually became louder until I felt the ambient sounds encompass my body.

Act 1

Rudiments Of A Spiritual Life

I expected to become overwhelmed with the music, but not once did I even think about the audio vibration transfer into the water. The sound waves were literally encompassing my body. I wasn't just listening to the music, I was feeling the music all over. A big grin came across my face as I thought, "this next hour is going to be freakin' awesome."

The American Dollar starts fading and I feel myself somewhat disappointed. I want the song to go on for longer. Even though the moment of silence was only a couple seconds, it felt much longer as I anticipated paperdolls. Then it quickly fades in. I was waning out of the initial excitement and ready to let my mind go to the music. I could feel my body relaxing and my mind releasing through the soothing and unusual sounds of paperdolls. And as quickly as it faded in, it faded out. Again, I feel disappointed that my Basheer & The Pied Pipers experience was so short.

The Glasshouse With Butterfly

It had been a little while since I listened to this particular track. From memory I knew it was beautiful, but my heart had forgotten the feeling of this song. When the track started I thought, "oh yeah..." as I instantly felt that surge of emotion. And as the track continued to progress, the piano comes in. My heart starts to wrench. And then 2:09... the emotional build up is so intense tears can't even build up. My body begins to feel like it's transcending. I feel like I'm no longer laying down in a pool of water but standing, witnessing these shapes form in the darkness with strobes of light flashing in the corners of my vision. The song, so emotional, so intense filling my body. And then it ends. And I'm back in the pool, hearing my heart beat for the next five minutes.

Act 2

Nothing Of Cities
My mind starts to go on overdrive again, thinking about how amazing that experience was and excited about the next two songs. Years Of Rice And Salt starts with some gentle guitar. As I'm listening I'm surprised at the lack of emotion building up. It then hit me, albeit, while depriving my senses has so far created an extremely surreal experience, the way I express emotions from this song, the rocking movements I make, has a lot to do with how the emotions continue to build up. It was actually fairly difficult forcing myself to lay still and thus I didn't quite have the normal build-up of emotion as I usually do throughout the entire song. But it wasn't until the moment when the floor toms kicked in (8:05) and I felt every single hit throughout my body when emotions rushed in. It was like a dam breaking. Chills filled my entire body. And then it happened again, except I wasn't standing... I wasn't anywhere. I didn't feel the water, I didn't physically feel anything except for a single tear running down the side of my face. This song had completely captured me and took me in. I was in a moment where all I knew was the music that was entering my ears. Then as the song neared the end I was brought back. "Wow..."

Silouans Song

"If Nothing Of Cities was that intense, this song may end up completely destroying me." As soon as the song starts I made a dreadful realization... it's too quiet... way, way too quiet. I could vaguely hear the music. If it weren't for the fact that I've heard this song quite a few times, I probably wouldn't have been able to make out what it sounded like. However, strangely enough, even though I could barely even hear it my vision was spazzing out pretty hard on me. The strobe flashes became very intense. When the song reached its climax emotions erupted. However, they weren't nearly as intense as they had been before. Not being able to hear the buildup to that climax really hurt the overall experience of that song. I hate to say this, but it was a major disappointment. In retrospect, I should have jacked up the levels of the track so the quieter portions could be audible under water. I was hoping to experience a complete and uncontrollable eruption of emotions, but that didn't quite happen. And to be honest, even if it was loud enough for me to fully experience the song, I'm not entirely sure sensory deprivation would have intensified the emotions. Much like my experience with Nothing Of Cities, but a whole lot more intense, this song causes me to curl and tense my body, my hands tightly grip on themselves (or whatever is within range), my head bows down with my chin pressed on my chest... all of these actions add to the intensity of this song, and without that I don't think it'd erupt such emotions even in a float tank. But anyway...

Final Act


The five minutes of silence went by unbelieveably quick. Normally under sensory deprivation silence feels like time is progressing slowly. When Moksha started playing my excitement had burst. This is a band that means a lot to me, so experiencing this was a very intimate moment. And then something happened that made the experience less than exceptional. "Something is missing..." I lift my head up, allowing my ears to rise above the water surface then lower it again. "I can't hear Phil's guitars at all under water!!" As disappointed as I was with my lack of forethought when I added Silouans Song, I was way more bummed out about this. I quickly learned that there is a certain pitch that simply doesn't penetrate through water, and that pitch just happened to be exactly the pitch that infinitely intensifies this song. This was difficult, this band is so influential to me and I wanted to experience them in this kind of setting... and yet I couldn't truly experience them. However, even with that slight disappointment, I seemed to get more consistent transcending feelings than the prior songs. At one point I felt myself somewhat floating and looking back at the song. (Don't ask... I really don't know how to describe looking back at sound.)


I was worried at first that my experience with this song would end up as somewhat of a letdown as well, ending my amazing experience with three slight disappointments in a row. But not only did it seem to translate well through the water, it was literally like getting smacked into a wall of music. And knowing the story behind this song (it's a love song, not a song about getting stoned) the emotional rush was intense. At one moment it felt like I was being ripped out of the tank, being pulled from my chest, whenever the song instantly turned intense and brought back in when the song mellows again. I couldn't think of a better way to end this float experience.

Final Thoughts
This was probably one of the most unique and amazing music experiences. To not only listen to music but to feel it rush through every part of your body is such an intense experience. I wouldn't say that it is a more intense experience than listening to it without sensory deprivation. I quickly learned that movement of your body can also stir emotions and amplify intensity, since in the tank you don't quite move much (if at all). Nothing Of Cities is a prime example of this. Without sensory deprivation this entire song grips my heart. But with sensory deprivation I seem disconnected with the first half but the emotions the second half causes is extremely overwhelming.

Next time I will have to do some more tests and research while setting up my playlist, even go as far as placing speakers against a filled tub, dunking my head in the water, and seeing if I can hear each instrument. This experience only makes me want to do another float session and try another Caspian song, most likely Quovis/Further Up/Further In.

All of the songs I have linked on this post are a part of a playlist I uploaded to Soundcloud for the purpose of this post. If you wish to get a hold of these songs please visit the artists' pages. Most of them will be purchasable (or freely downloadable) on their bandcamp pages.

The American Dollar
[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Big Cartel]

Basheer & The Pied Pipers
[] [Bandcamp] [SoundCloud] [Facebook] [YouTube]

Tomáš Dvořák
[] [Machinarium] [Amanita Design]
(Dvořák is a soundtrack artist for Amanita Design. His work comes with the purchase of their games, which are as artistically beautiful as Dvořák music is.)

Years Of Rice And Salt
[] [Service Bell EP (Bandcamp)] [Nothing Of Cities (Bandcamp)] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Website]

Arvo Pärt
Search Tallin Chamber Orchestra or Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir on iTunes. They have done various Pärt pieces. Silouans Song is on the Te Deum album.

[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Blog] [Website]

Colour For A Rebel
[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Myspace]

For those that live in Los Angeles,
Soothing Solutions
207 W. Alameda Ave.
Burbank, CA 91502


Monday, December 05, 2011

Rosa Parks - Only The Lights

This entire time I thought I already posted Rosa Parks on my blog. To my surprise... NOPE! Well, that will be changing tonight.

Hailing from Győr, Magyarország (Hungary), Rosa Parks is a four piece post-rock band. While primarily post-rock, they do incorporate some math rock and screamo aspects in their music. They also have a very grand sound to them, very massive. Among the few really good post-rock-ish bands in Hungary, these guys seem to get the least spotlight.

When I visited Hungary earlier this year I got to see the two of the three Hungarian bands I really wanted to see, Marionette ID and Képzelt Város. But I couldn't catch a Rosa Parks show. I have made it one of my major goals to catch a them on my next trip next Spring. Now, what would be awesome would be an mID, KV, and RP show. Oh I would be the happiest man alive. Hah hah. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Myspace]
(Albums are available for 1 USD on Bandcamp or for free here [provided by the band]. But hey, it's just 1 buck!)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Labirinto - Cairo (More Hope For Japan)

Among many other artists, Labirinto gave their contribution to the More Hope For Japan project. More Hope For Japan has been a worldwide project joining various artists from various countries together to support the recent nuclear disaster in Japan. Collectively project has included artists from Austria (Our Ceasing Voice), Greece (Absent Without Leave), Ireland (And So I Watch You From Afar), Pakistan (6LA8, Asfandyar Khan), United States (Tennessee: Ocean Architecture, The Ascent Of Everest; New York: Circadian Eyes, The American Dollar), England (Matt Stevens, Good Weather For An Air Strike), Canada (thisquietarmy), Brazil (Labirinto), from Japan itself (Anoice, Yuki Murata), and many more countries, many more artists. You can preorder More Hope For Japan and offer donations for the Hope For Japan albums here. The album will be released December 9th.

And also check up on Labirinto for updates on their upcoming tour plans and their new EP release.

Hope For Japan

[] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Twitter] [Website]
(Download their EP, Etéreo, free and purchase their latest album, Anatema, on Bandcamp.)