There’s too much confusion…I can’t get no relief

If you haven’t seen the season finale of Battlestar Galactica, then the following link won’t interest you much. Otherwise, check out this blog entry from the composer of the series’s score, who also wrote and arranged the version of All Along the Watchtower that played during the third season climax (which I now feel stupid to learn was written by Bob Dylan, despite the most famous version being recorded by Jimi Hendrix).

Michael Jackson Considers 50 ft Robot Replica to Tower Over Desert, Shoot Lasers

That headline probably sounds like a joke. Maybe it is. After all, it was in the “Gossip” section of The New York Daily News

Michael Jackson has been reviewing plans for a 50-foot robotic replica of himself should he launch a show there.

“It would be in the desert sands,” said Mike Luckman of Luckman Van Pier, consultants to large entertainment companies. “Laser beams would shoot out of it so it would be the first thing people flying would see. Neon is wonderful, but it’s old school.” Luckman’s partner, Andre Van Pier, who designed the futuristic spacesuits worn recently by Bono and U2 at a benefit concert in New Orleans, designed the robot. He has also sketched out a stage set of a giant audience-interactive video game with human cyborgs controlled by the audience. Said Luckman: “Michael’s looked at the sketches and likes them.”

“Gossip” section notwithstanding, consider that we are talking about Vegas here.

Short Music Review: Holy Fuck

When I noticed this band in an email from my friendly neighborhood indie concert promoter, I was initially turned off by the name. I couldn’t help downloading the sample tracks, though, given that they were described as “a bunch of dudes wigging out on toy keyboards and the 35 mm film synchronizer.” My friends, it is all that and more. This is instrumental playfulness at its craziest. And when you think about it, the band’s name is actually pretty clever in its own way: there’s no way I could pirate their music on the internet without wading through a few terabytes of porn, so I coughed up six bucks Canadian for the rest of the album. Anybody feel like catching these guys (opening for Clinic) on Wednesday?

The Go! (play Ms. Pac-man) Team

My favorite video game meets one of my favorite bands—what better way to celebrate the good news that I passed my exams?

A DRM-free world…

To quote Jason: “Sweet Moses on a pogo stick!” I came back from a run to the grocery store to find my boss at Macworld had done “a Moren mash-up” (his term, not mine) and posted my anti-DRM piece, smushed together with my post on Steve Jobs’s open letter on DRM as one big essay on Macworld. Crazy.

Short Music Review: Japanther at the ICA

Even though I have the biggest exam of my life in three days, I went to see a band play tonight. The Institute of Contemporary Art (across the street from my office, where I was studying) had an art opening tonight, and one of my favorite bands played very briefly. They didn’t do a sound check. Why bother when you use a plastic telephone for a mic and hand off your cymbals to some 16-year-old who takes them crowd surfing? Yes, I love Japanther because their whole approach to music is fun and bizarre. They sound like garage band banging on and shouting into stuff that was actually lying around a garage. I couldn’t really see Japanther because of the small but extremely densely-packed and spastic crowd around them: my love for the band is apparently shared by a bunch of exuberant teenagers in glasses so thick that I worry about them getting neck strain. Fortunately, their antics were something of a spectacle in its own right. I wonder if all my favorite bands are followed by such lovable miscreants, and what that might say about my own taste in music.

MacUser: What if…Apple sold DRM-free music?

Most of my time writing over at MacUser and Gadgetbox is focused on short posts, often news or current events, but every once in a while—when the mood strikes me—I get to open the floodgates and work in the long form. Today, the subject that captured my fancy was the idea of the online music market, and its insistence on Digital Rights Management.

What does the music industry fear from DRM-free downloads? They fear file-sharing, of course—piracy. But that’s silly, because piracy is well-established by this point; we’ve had almost a solid decade of high volume media piracy. I’d say that the vast majority of the songs that you can find on iTunes and the other services are available through file-sharing networks, if you know where to look. Meanwhile, destroying piracy has proved to be emblematic of a phenomenon I like to call the “hydratic equation”—for every service you take out, two more sprout up in its place.

That’s just an excerpt, of course. The full piece is a bit longer. I hope to do a few more of these “What If?” pieces in the future, as long as I don’t get sued by Marvel.

Of Plastic Guitars and Aftershave

There is something a little disorienting about going into the Body Shop (not to be confused with Bath and Body Works, whose men’s aftershave pales in comparison) and realizing that the music playing is the Guitar Hero version of Freezepop’s “Get Ready 2 Rokk.” I am that big dork who is always asking people in stores where the music is coming from, just in case Body Shop Corporate actually pipes in indie electropop, so this led to the clerks calling some girl out of the back room to explain that it was her CD. I was just surprised to hear a local Boston band playing at a skin care goods chain store in Philadelphia, I explained. It’s from a video game with a guitar, she explained excitedly, and while she doesn’t play video games, this one is awesome.

Next time that someone tells you that video games are for nerds, remember the girl with good taste in music who works at the Body Shop. Well, video games are for nerds, but now we have to share, I guess. (And thanks to Sarah for taking me to return shoes and inadvertently reminding me I needed aftershave in the mall I forgot existed.)

Short Music Review: Kid Koala at World Cafe Live

I don’t know who came up with the idea to use the actual record and needle to make music in addition to playing it back, but I think that person must be proud of Eric San. I got to catch San/Koala at a local venue last night, and he was grand. They had a neat setup with a camera pointing down over the turntables (he had three), projecting an overhead view of his hands at work on the wall behind him. The actual music that resulted was fun, though not as re-listenable as his recorded albums. Still, seeing him go at those turntables was a performance in itself. Also, on a dare (made before the show), he had got some audience members to do glowstick dance-off. It was not as cool as the time I saw Spider-man get onstage and start dancing with Moby, but I am still a fan of seeing folks mixing things up on stage. Then again, if Kid Koala had actually been joined onstage by superheroes (or, for that matter, robots or ninjas), my heart probably would have exploded.

Short Music Review: Sukia

I first heard Contacto Especial con el Tercer Sexo (roughly, “close encounters with the third sex”) on the road with Kai. We were driving to visit a college I’d applied to in New Jersey, and dropping him off to visit Scott at Princeton. He was in charge of music. When he popped in this album, my first question was, “What the hell is this?” Within a couple tracks, my attitude had been nudged to, “Huh, I guess this isn’t bad.” By the end of the album, I was kind of surprised that I was thinking, “I guess I have to buy this now.” I have a vague notion (unconfirmed by the interweb) that Beck once described this album as the music he’d have playing if he were hanging out in a party sex van. I’m no expert on party sex vans, but I’m inclined to agree with him.