Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review: Sleep - "Dopesmoker" reissue

reissue cover
Sleep's landmark, single-song, 2003 album Dopesmoker has undergone audial cosmetic surgery and is being re-released by Southern Lord Records. Awesome.

The Lord has got this sweet package where you get the double-vinyl set and a t-shirt. More info here.

I think I'm gonna go for the vinyl, man. Green.

I'll never forget playing Dopesmoker (not the reissue, mind you) in the car for my parents a couple of years ago. Dad couldn't take it for more than a few minutes, but mom said, and I remember this verbatim: "It's so heavy."

Truer words--never spoken.

Sleep goes for a Sabbath vibe, but simultaneously minimalises and amplifies it. Then, they stretch it out. The effect is deafening, the sound all their own.

Whichever guitar and bass Al Cisneros and Matt Pike played on the recording, they chose well. The sustain their axes give is evident throughout, and indeed critical to the piece. Their tone is nuanced and complex. It fills your head.

There are no stops in this song--no breaks. Don't expect to be let off the hook. Sleep challenges the listener--they expect more of you. It means you must rise to the challenge--conquer the mountain and stand tall at the peak. Then jump the fuck off, hurdle down headfirst like a missile, burst thru layers of crust, lithosphere, upper mantle, lower mantle, outer core, finally reaching earth's INNER CORE
Courage: Hakius
Wisdom: Cisneros
Power: Pike
(he so would be Ganon)

Lord, this album evokes strong imagery. And the re-release sounds good, man. The sound is clear! I think both the guitar and bass are distorted. You've got badass, earthy guitar and bass tones, combined with Chris Hakius fucking laying it down on drums right there with them, providing the third triangle to the Triforce.

Dopesmoker has a bit of a story behind it, which I won't go into.

I will say that the album itself is groundbreaking in that it's a single song, over an hour in length. It's relentless, slow punishment--exactly what true doom lovers want.

original cover (if you don't count Jerusalem)
It gets really, really repetitive. It will piss people off. All I'm saying is that it's not for the mainstream, which is good in my mind. Mainstream music has nothing to offer the underground.

Doom fans feel a source of pride in this. I do, anyway. It comes from the fact choosing doom--and indeed Dopesmoker, arguably the epitome of the genre--is indeed veering far from the mainstream, but not in a violent or douchey direction. It's all about slowing down, relaxing, and feeling heavy. Maybe getting mystical and casting a few spells.

It's also specifically about not being understatedly Christian or prioritizing glamour over talent, what the mainstream loves to do.

Doom musicians love to play in the mud.

This is not clean music. This is not pretty music. This is music of nature; of earth; of age and time, and knowledge.

And goddam if I don't feel on top of the world when Pike's first solo comes ripping in at the 14-minute mark. I fucking love this album.

Sleep is a band that had a big effect on me when I first discovered them. They'll always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you, Lord, for your bestowment of reissue.

Here's a good review of the reissue. The link takes you to blog named The Metal Minute and it's written by this guy.

I've always found Ray's reviews to be poignant. However, I will say that he goes off a little too long about the weed here--it's not obvious to me that the band was smoking their brains out the whole time, and I'm not sure they'll ever confirm or deny it either way.

However, it is called Dopesmoker. I mean, come on. They probably like to smoke.

As Stephen O'Malley said once, and I'm paraphrasing, the term "stoner metal" is kind of silly. It de-dignifies the songwriters and musicians who conjure doom.

Musicians don't want to be remembered as drug users, but as contributors to the vast musical spectrum.

So I call for an end to the terms 'stoner metal' and 'stoner rock' and 'stoner doom.' I'd call Dopesmoker a 'drone metal,' 'doom,' and 'doom metal' album.

And I hate 'psyche-rock', if anybody calls it that, I'll puke lava on them, full of igneous rock.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gletalar's Roar

12.05.05 Plugging in My New Guitar for the First Time (At Home) by Hevvy Time Records

After the last MMS entry about my new guitar, I suppokkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk0]0]\0\000000--------------00-------5555555944444e (Lucy's edit) it would be prudent to show y'all how it sounds.

The purpose of these recordings is both archival, and exemplary--to give  an example of what all my words were saying about this guitar.

Also, there's a third purpose: "Hey look at my cool new thing I'm really excited about!"

All tracks above are solo recordings of me playing guitar. Improvisational jamming, mostly. All original material, except when I start singing and playing I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges at the end of the first track.

I'm pleased with how the guitar sounds on the first track, when I'm going over those jazzy chords thru a clean tone, with delay and reverb.

There is much contained in these tracks that is difficult to sit through-especially the noodling on T4B. I don't want to necessarily challenge the listener--the music should speak for itself.

So if at any time it gets annoying, skip ahead. By no means do I expect total devotion.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Haley Reinhart, "Free" music video review

Shed that dignity, pop star.

If you're not willing to look like a stripper, and you're female, don't expect to get anywhere in modern pop music.

Adele did it, which is cool, and sort of miraculous.

However, I found something today which turned the stomachs of my wife and I, and I thought I'd share our criticism with the world.

Here is the offending material:

Zero out of five stars.

First off, let me say that I am not making a judgement about Reinhart, personally or artistically. She's fine, she's doing her thing, and she's making money. Good for her.

What I have a problem with is the artistic direction of the video, which serves to belittle all females into previously relegated roles of social servitude, not independence, freedom, originality, or intelligence.

But who cares, right? Reinhart gets her 15 min, a website, a tour with American Idol, attention, and the empty praise for looking good all females are conditioned to seek out. Reinhart's made an entire career out of it, but it's not like she's the first. She's just the newest incarnation.

The music of the song Free is also hackneyed and boring. Cringe-inducing. Telling is that it's the one song on Listen Up! on which Reinhart isn't credited as co-writer. Interscope Records picks the one song she didn't have anything to do with to make into the single and music video.

"Haley, your songs are good, but they're just not shitty enough. Let us help you out and write one for you--we know all the tricks and secrets. You want soul? We'll make you sound exactly like a second-rate Amy Winehouse."

IMO, if you've got people writing your songs for you, you're a cover artist.

I'm rich and glossy.
I think that if Reinhart had asserted more control over the making of her album, Spotify wouldn't be hyping it so much (just heard an ad for her in the middle of my Virus playlist), and it wouldn't be getting the attention it's getting. Why? Because slutty sells, Interscope Records knows slutty, and slutty Interscope has made Reinhart.

What attracted me to Reinhart initially was this picture of her on Spotify. It's an image of her from the cover of Listen Up! I liked her look--it reminded me of the eighties. I imagined her to be a true throwback to that era's lovable corniness, but mixing in a modern sensibility, like Escort does.

Escort rules.

Then I show the Reinhart image to my more fashion-conscious wife, who schooled me as to what's going on in that photo.

Better than Reinhart
Her hair looks like Jessie Spano, who hails atop her wacky throne from the early nineties. Reinhart's bra is a sixties style, which I believe was included for two reasons. 1) Mad Men is popular. 2) Reinhart was OBVIOUSLY coached, at least on Free, to sacrifice her own voice in favor of modern production values. Meaning: she sounds like everybody fucking else these days. No originality. Auto-tuned. Glossed-over.


The new song Free by Haley Reinhart, new music video, from the new album Listen Up! (19 Entertainment/Interscope Records) 19 Entertainment Interscope Records, which is gonna drop and be dropped, search engine optimization, made Megan and I cringe. We couldn't watch more than one minute of that shit, it's fucking terrible.

I don't believe it's Reinhart's fault. The video, the album cover, the sound--it all reeks of soulless modern production values and immoral marketing tactics, marketed to self-serving-morals-only-loving middle America.

You think anyone cool in New York or Seattle is going to give a shit about Reinhart?

For some reason, musical artists, to be popular, have to be the most beautiful things that ever existed. No imperfection. Glossy. Spray-tanned. Supermodel hair. Anything less than the height of glamour is unacceptable. It's ridiculous.

The music video for Free displays this perfectly--stripper shoes, short shorts, hair processed beyond belief, the slow writhing of her hips, how she moves her legs, pouts her lips, and gives seductive glances to the camera with head turned just so.

I mean, it's hot, yeah. But that's why there's porn. We don't need the crossover. You know, I'd bet that the video for Free looks that way so that Interscope can catch some of that porn-consuming crowd. You realize how huge of an industry porn is, right? Anything to get views, right Interscope? Who cares what it does to the psyche of the developing young women.

Look at her, she's a fucking teenager! Gross!

I think this video was designed specifically for women. You'd think that they're trying to attract men, with all the sexiness designed to attract heterosexual men. The only reason a man would watch this video is to gain sexual arousal, or he's researching good tranny outfits and dance moves.

The underlying purpose is: Girls--emulate this.

This video teaches females to, first of all, be heterosexual at all costs. Then: pursue the man, be sexy, bury your individuality, do what you're told, be a tool, abandon your dreams of lasting fame in favor of 15 min, get your nails done, DON'T BE HEAVIER THAN A TWIG, getcha hair did, look perfect, don't show imperfection, be graceful and have stripper dance moves, and be part of this clique designed not by you or your friends, but by record companies trying to make money by selling this dream to you and your friends.

And you know a teenager is going to be WAY more influenced by this than an adult would be. Thus, this shit is specifically marketed to children and teenagers.

It's not cool. Not okay. Women need to be given the same freedom as men to be rugged and rough if they want to be. But you know what? Men don't have the freedom to be soft, sensitive and emotional. It has a little to do with our chemistry, but much, much more with social and cultural pressure.

The video for Free wasn't meant to be a lasting product--to stand the test of time. People will forget about this drivel by day three after its release.


Girls--don't buy Haley Reinhart's new album Listen Up! out soon on Interscope Records!

The new Usher track Dreams sucks, too.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gletalar and the Purchase of the Beast

Yesterday I purchased this.

Allow me to explain--it rules. Explanation over.

But seriously, I was at the Guitar Center by Westlake in Seattle.

It was time to buy.

Coming in, I had no idea what kind of guitar I wanted, but I had a few ideas from my last visit, which was too quick. Basically, I wanted to play Hammett's and Mustaine's signature models, see what they were about, and go from there.

First I strapped on the Hammett.

The ESP Guitar Company sells Kirk Hammett signature models, and the one I played at Guitar Center was the KH-2 NTB.

Those pickups give it a great sound, and the action is pretty good on the fretboard. It's definitely a lead player's guitar--lightweight and built for speed.

However, the skull-and-crossbones decals on the neck are double-lame-o donkey dick, I like my tuning pegs on the other side of the headstock, and the neck is bolted on. Three strikes against you, ESP Hammett model.

Overall, it played very well, but wasn't mine.

Then I tried the Mustaine.

Dean Guitars have several Dave Mustaine series models, and yesterday I played this one from the Zero series.

It's a thick beast. There's a bit of weight to the thing, and it's a really good guitar for thick, chunky rhythm chugging. If I remember correctly, it's got a neck-thru design, another aspect I wanted in a guitar.

The balance you get with the body style is really nice. There's little resistance for the picking hand to deal with--it feels really open down there, with no part of the body sticking out to the left of the bottom of the neck, like with stratocasters. I felt like I'd have to really work on my control to get used to it, but it might be really worth it.

Sadly, I didn't get the full MUSTAINE DEAN GTRXPRNC because the model at the store had a fret malfuktion. On the first two strings, the difference between the first and second frets was a full step. But I jammed on it anyhow and gave it a good chance. The lowest strings worked, and that thing kinda yells at you. It's got a shout to it. Quite nice, really. Abrasive and built for speed and thrash metals.

In the end, I decided against it for mostly aesthetic reasons. I don't want a guitar with a huge decal I can't change and will probably grow tired of. Also, Mustaine has been pissing me off in the last couple of years with the words that come out of his mouth, the lame- and same-ness of all his songs Youthanasia, and that his hair looks really lame and it's gotta have a shit-ton of product in it.

After playing a few more of the axes there--one a neck-thru ESP, blood red and pretty cool, but still not perfect--I told my guy who was helping me that I liked the Hammett model for its lightweight quality, but I wanted a neck-thru design. I asked him to suggest for me.

After letting him look around for a minute or two and jamming on the Hammett, I said to him, just to joke around and be fickle, "I like my tuning pegs on the other side."

He was standing across the room, holding this black, round thing, unsure of his choice and looking up at the wall of guitars to find something better.

He says, "How about split down the middle?"

I gesture for him to bring it over--I was interested.

And over he walks with this Ibanez, Artist series-model  ARZ400.

Neck-thru design to give me the sustain I want. Simple. Reflective black like a bottomless pit. White trim around the perimeter with two ultra-thin black lines. No decals or frills to speak of. Sturdy, simple metal bridge. My eyes started to shine and my upper thighs to quiver.

It was something not specifically made for metal, but it was very, very metal.

           A guitar is what you make it, right?

The player shapes their guitar to become like them. Likewise, the guitar shapes the player to become more like it. Guitars are malleable, flexible, receptive to influence, just like people. A guitar and its player develop a relationship, however deep (depending on who is more stubborn).

If stubbornness comes with age, then wouldn't it stand to reason that, like a human baby, a brand new guitar would be all the more receptive to conforming to the style of its master!? Master!?

You pick up an old guitar--you get what you get. You buy a new guitar--you get a soul mate.

The player, being the arbiter containing free will and imagination, introduces unique ideas to the guitar. The guitar experiences, responds to, and learns from them. The player learns the instrument's uniqueness, adjusting their playing to accomodate its twists and turns.

A loop is created. Two minds, one flesh, the other wood, metal and potential, become one. Symbiosis is achieved. Both come away with renewed perspective.

If I were to play mostly country music thru this new axe, I would be shaping it to respond to not only that style, but to my style. It would become not only a Country Guitar, but a Glenn Country Guitar. A Glounntry Gluitar.

My new axe is going to be ... well, I'm not solely a metal player, so I'm hesitant to label it a Metal Guitar. But it will be metal. Understand the difference? Ultimately, definitively, this Ibanez ARZ400 will be a Gluitar. A Gleitar.

For better or worse.

... You know what? I play metal. Even when I'm fucking around with a delay pedal and making echoey noise and slow drones, it's still metal. My jazz dabblings don't come as naturally. So fuck it, it's my Glenn Metal Guitar. My Gletal Gluitar. Gletalar. Dude, did I just name this thing?!

But what ran through my mind yesterday as I played this thing for the first time in Guitar Center was a simpler notion--purely a feeling, yet complex in its manifestation.

It was comfort; a sigh of relief. This was something new, to be discovered, and holding promise; young and not yet jaded by the evils of the world. It would not only bend to my will, but flow with it and enhance it and give me new ideas with what to do with it, without resistance.

It represents pure potential to me, and the feeling I had when playing it for the first time was one of wonder, which started small but grew quickly.

A Les Paul-style body. Huh. I had always been curious how that style, with the warmth and sustain a stratocaster cannot offer, would do to my playing.

Within five minutes I was hooked. This guitar had, in combination, what the others didn't--

  • lightweight & speed-metal-ready
  • no Floyd Rose tremolo or tuning locks to deal with
  • sustaining, neck-thru design
  • glossy black finish
  • big and fat
  • my fingers fucking flow over that fretboard like water, dawg

My decision was made. It was a natural choice. It was the mature thing to do.

Here's what sealed the deal:

When the employee helping me was ringing me up, he took a couple dollars and some change off the total price, just to make it come to $666, with the case.

Six Six!