Friday Song(s) of The Week

Dear Chris and listener,

I wholeheartedly accept your invitation to dig up some of the musical gems of my video game past. Back when we didn’t know what was good, what was sophisticated, and what was bad. Back when a single song could be the very anthem of the gods, and when played would manifest an instant high-score.  Also, being the work of divine beings, it could never be worn out, even when played 18 times on repeat.

This was a difficult decision for me, as there are definitely several. The Naoto Shibata Project’s Bloody Tears rendition of the Castlevania soundtrack definitely came to mind first. And by all accounts it’s a worthy choice. It’s quick and electrifying, and it can leave you in no other possible mindset than that of fighting your way through the Army of The Night. It’s a track that was shown to me back in my impressionable years, and regardless of how much my music tastes have changed since then, it’s vividly stayed with me since.

In more recent times, an honourary mention has to be given out to Bastion: a game in which the soundtrack and narration can truly be called integral and enriching to the gaming experience on par with the classically core elements like gameplay, graphics, and narrative. Darren Krob made this game a lifetime favourite of mine, and I strongly encourage you to check out the whole game’s soundtrack as it’s pretty much a narrative in itself. It is greatly varied in its used of instruments, tempo, and composition. But for a taste, eat your dessert first, and try the closing track of the OST: Setting Sail Home (End Theme).

And for the closing curtains, I want to take you by the hand and show you the truly magical world of Ori and The Blind Forest. When playing it, it’s hard to tell exactly how, but the game takes you to that secret, vulnerable place you had as a child. The visuals, and pacing of the narrative definitely do their part in getting you there, but I think the music does the lion’s share of the work in making you feel submerged into something so beautiful and vulnerable. I’ll let Gareth Coker’s Ori And The Blind Forest (Main Theme) say the rest.

Our track list:

Find Me” by Marcus D (Ft. Jun)

Hide” by FKA Twigs

I Am Here” by Funky DL

El Pescador” by Banda Magda

Empires” by Electric Swing Circus

Jungle” by Tash Sultana

Never Knew a Thing (Live)” by Kileza

Time of Extinction” (소멸의 시간) by Jambinai (잠비나이)

Hi-Lights” by Savlonic.

Common Ground” by Kognitif ft. The Mic Jordon

Believe” by Kenichiro Nishihara ft. Cise Starr

Gerudo Valley (Metal Version)” by Machinae Supremacy

Bloody Tears” by Naoto Shibata Project

Satting Sail Home (End Theme)” by Darren Krob

Ori and The Blind Forest (Main Theme)” by Gareth Coker

Common Ground – Friday Song of the Week

Dear Chris and listener,

While 80’s synthwave is definitely not my music of choice, I do appreciate the time capsule that Hi-Lights is. And since you mentioned Vice City, I couldn’t watch the music video without wondering when the cops were going to show up, or whether or not she was going to stop to pick up a hooker or two.

This week I am going to share with you something rather high up on my musical taste buds. Kognitif’s Common Ground ft. The Mic Jordan is one of my favourite tracks from one of my favourite albums. As a world-class DJ, he layers multiple melodies and progressions over his track with seeming ease. You feel like you’re listening to multiple songs at the same time, and in the best possible way. I stumbled upon this glorious mishmash of hip-hop, trip-hop, funk, and jazz, last year. It has been one of my top go-to albums since then.

Hope this gets your foot nodding.

The track list so far:

Find Me” by Marcus D (Ft. Jun)

Hide” by FKA Twigs

I Am Here” by Funky DL

El Pescador” by Banda Magda

Empires” by Electric Swing Circus

Jungle” by Tash Sultana

Never Knew a Thing (Live)” by Kileza

Time of Extinction” (소멸의 시간) by Jambinai (잠비나이)

Hi-Lights” by Savlonic.

Common Ground” by Kognitif ft. The Mic Jordon

Time of Extinction (소멸의 시간) – Friday Song of the Week

Dear Chris and listener,

Thank you for sharing Kileza’s track with me. Her wonderful voice is definitely a pleasure to listen to, and the raw emotion she pours into her singing is definitely sure to ring an emotional bell or two.

This Friday I want to up the tempo a bit, and feature some foreign artists. The band I’m talking about is Jambinai (잠비나이). They’re from South Korea, and they blend metal, rock, and traditional Korean music in quite a fantastic way.

The track I want to share with you is Time of Extinction (소멸의 시간), one of their more agressive and upbeat numbers. The track has a steady build up of energy. A sinister Koto starts setting the tone, and one by one, the other band members chime in with their own layer of sound, until the track builds up to a chaotic explosion of musical expression. The music video also doesn’t leave you wanting for much with its juxtaposition of colourful silhouettes.

Look forward to hearing your two cents.

Our musical discourse so far:

Find Me” by Marcus D (Ft. Jun)

Hide” by FKA Twigs

I Am Here” by Funky DL

El Pescador” by Banda Magda

Empires” by Electric Swing Circus

Jungle” by Tash Sultana

Never Knew a Thing (Live)” by Kileza

Time of Extinction” (소멸의 시간) by Jambinai (잠비나이)

Jungle – Friday Song of the week

Dear Chris, and listener,

The Electric Swing Circus definitely made this usually static booty want to go “Pop, pop!” If you don’t enjoy this track, I feel like you have to call human customer support and demand you get your missing parts back. The track is fun, but more than that, the music moves. It’s not static in its composition, and it’s just fun and fresh. And if that was not good enough, the music video really has a pulse! I’ve seen a good share of electro-swing on Youtube, and it’s usually just people dressed up in retro costumes playing 4-chord jazz pretending it’s swing. But this video POPS real hard. Love it.

I accept your declaration of war. And what better way to wage music war than to throw strange mishmashes of genres at your respectable (or otherwise) opponent. This week I am going to hit you with Tash Sultana’s Jungle. This girl came on the scene only last year, and seems to be the spirit child of Jimi Hendrix. She plays a prodigious mix of rock and reggae guitar. And with her mastery of looping pedals she’s truly a one-woman band.

The glove has been thrown.

Find Me” By Marcus D (Ft. Jun)

Hide” by FKA Twigs

I Am Here” by Funky DL

El Pescador” by Banda Magda

Empires” by Electric Swing Circus

Jungle” by Tash Sultana

El Pescador – Friday Song of the Week

Chris, and listener,

I dug the Autonomy track you sent me. I enjoyed the trumpet melody line that contrasted his vocals. The trumpet was just blowing carefree notes while his voice delivered the rhymes in an intense contrast. It was an enjoyable blend of hip hop, soul, and jazz.

This week I’m going to share a track with you which impresses me in its layering. Don’t get me wrong, the aesthetics lack for nothing – Banda Magda’s El Pescador has a big band Mediterranean sound that will get your foot nodding. But the sequence in which the instruments join in, weave through eachother, and finally climax, is absolute finesse. This track could be on Masterclass teaching composers and audio engineers how to make and layer a track.

I think it’s nothing short of criminal to listen to this song on an iPhone or a tablet. Make sure you got yourself a proper headset or at least decent speakers. This is a song you have to listen to at least two or three times. The first time you’ll hear the aesthetic and the lead melodies, which granted, are great. The second time you’ll start paying attention to the many melody lines and rhythms playing off eachother. And from the third time on, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a sense of the spectacular chaos sculpted by the many musical elements of this gorgeous track.

So far we have have built the following playlist:

Find Me” By Marcus D (Ft. Jun)

Hide” by FKA Twigs

I Am Here” by Funky DL

El Pescador” by Banda Magda

Happy listening 😉

 

Hide – Friday Song of the Week

Dear Chris, and listener,

I want to reciprocate the gesture of sharing a piece of your world with me.

As this is the first time we do this exchange, I also want to share something that currently reflects some small part of my world.

I recently met a friend who pushed me further down the rabbit hole of obscure, yet wonderful music. She also shares my love for trip hop, but unlike me she has done more than just dip a toe.

The track that I want to share with you is “Hide” by FKA Twigs.  It’s a bare bones trip hop track. Tahliah’s voice doesn’t leave you wanting for anything. It rises and falls between the weaves of a day-dreaming jazz guitar. The precussion is simple and works. The bass pops its head up when it’s needed, but is always noticed. More than anything, this track has a unique musical idea and identity that is so rare to find in the trip hop universe. With so many preformers trying to outdo eachother on producing the freshest sound, FKA Twigs just does it. And like all great preformers, they do it better live.

FKA Twigs – Hide (live)

Thank you for sharing this experience with me.

Vladi

🌸Okinawa: Cute Stone Doggos, Karate, and Good Vibes🌸

It was a time of unrelenting heat. It was a time of ever-present humidity. The summer was upon me, and it found me with no plans how to best spend it. So I sat beneath a tree in the local park to meditate upon this serious matter. As sweat poured down my body, and the infernal song of hundreds of horny cicadas dominated all manner of sound, a truly profound thought came to me: go somewhere even hotter. Ladies, gents, and other such creatures, today we look at Okinawa.

The islands of Okinawa have always held an attraction for me. Japan has no shortage of history and culture by any stretch of the imagination. And even so, The Ryukyu kingdom stands apart in my eyes.

The Ryukyu kingdom came to officially be in 1429. At the time, there was no trade agreement between China and Japan. The Ryukyu islands situated between them proved a great middleman of both trade and culture. While the two nations couldn’t openly trade with each other, they did so through the Ryukyu islands. The islands became a melting pot of culture. The earliest forms of Karate were born there, inspired by Chinese Kempo. The Ryukyu kingdom thrived on trade, and it continued to develop its own unique culture that was neither Japanese nor Chinese, but a thing of its own. In 1879 the Ryukyus officially became the prefecture of Okinawa, but their culture and heritage strongly endures to this day.

As a long time student of Karate, it was my Mecca. It was the birth place of Karate along with Kobudo – the use of traditional weapons such as the nunchaku, sai, bo staff, tonfa, and kama. And after a year in Japan a pilgrimage seemed overdue.

A comfortable two and a half hour flight later I landed in Naha. The first thing I noticed, literally as I walked out of the airport air-conditioned doors, was the wall of heat. The air was just moister and hotter than anywhere I’d ever been before. And that’s saying something from someone coming from central Japan. That being said, three or four hours later I no longer noticed it. Vending machines are accessible virtually everywhere, so as long as you stay hydrated and pace yourself, honestly it’s just fine. If you’ve heard any horror stories about unimaginable heat and humidity, dismiss them. Don’t let them sway you from an otherwise awesome experience.


The second thing I noticed was how little like the rest of Japan Okinawa looked. If the Japanese signs were to poof out of existence and I had to place my best bet on where I was, I’d have wagered maybe northern Spain, Monaco, or Greece. The streets are wider. There are gardens, flowers, and vegetation hanging out of balconies and adorning street corners. Even the buildings themselves are colourful and the architectural designs vary greatly. A very sharp contrast to the concrete and homogeneous jungle that is Tokyo.


If you’re a museum junkie like myself, you will probably find the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum to your liking. The exhibit has a great collection of old Ryukyu documents, pottery, works of art, and so on. It gives you a decent idea of what life was like six or seven centuries ago. Also, once you’re done getting your history fix, you can just hop on over to the other side for some art. There are regular art exhibits in the very same museum from both contemporary and historical Japanese artists. No pictures allowed there, unfortunately. But hey, you have eyes.

Naha Budokan

For you would-be warriors out there, there’s two facilities worthy of mention. There’s the Budokan in Naha. If a samurai was transformed into a building, it would literally be it. They have classes and seminars on just about every Japanese martial art imaginable. They are open to foreigners as well. Just keep in mind to pay attention to the etiquette, as you are in another country. If the sensei at said classes are willing to share their culture and tradition with you, the least you can do is reciprocate with respect and humility.

Also, freshly opened this year there is the Okinawa Karate Keikan. A facility truly devoted to the preservation and continued influence of Karate. Masters from different styles come to teach there, predominantly the more Okinawan-centric styles. If you train a different style, don’t let that discourage you. The differences in the styles are pretty small. For the most part you can follow along without too much difficulty. They are very welcoming to foreigners, and some of the younger black belts there speak English and really go out of their way to help you and welcome you.


The facilities themselves are ideal. Large, well-lit dojo with plenty of room for large classes. There’s a garden around the facility if you want some time to collect yourself after a hard work out. And then there’s Shuri hall – a room made in the style of traditional Okinawan dojos. It is used for special ceremonies and important black belt rankings. As a practitioner of Karate, it felt difficult not to be in awe and in love with the place. A lot of time, work, and thought clearly went into making it a Mecca for Karate-ka, and even with my high expectations, there was no room for disappointment. Also, it is worth mentioning that they hold a week-long Karate seminar every summer, open to foreigners from all over the world. The classes cover several different styles of Karate as well as Kobudo. 10/10.

So, you’ve just finished a vigorous session at the Mecca of Karate. What next? How does one Karate even more? By stopping by the Dojo Bar for a drink, of course! Located conveniently in Naha, it is a hub for fellow Karate pilgrims.

The DOJO bar is unique in Okinawa, perhaps in the world. Okinawa is the birthplace of karate and kobudo and the DOJO bar is a tribute to that heritage and a gateway for visitors to the island, its people and its rich fighting arts culture. We offer a truly special place, open and easily accessible to all, across cultures, countries and styles.


Of all the tourist attractions in Okinawa, I feel like one’s actually worth its salt. I am talking about the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. I’ve been to a great number of aquariums, and while most of them are decent, I would say they barely cover the price of admission. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It is by far the best and biggest I’ve ever been to, and I’ve visited a good amount. Also, while most aquariums are just giant boxes, this one is designed beautifully. The tanks are all underground, and above ground you have beautiful winding gardens with the ocean as a backdrop. The selection of marine life is spectacular. There is a whole host of species which are only native to Okinawa. So you’re not just seeing pretty fish, but you’re getting a good idea of what the surrounding waters hold. Pictures speak louder than words, so I’ll let them do just that.


I visited the Okinawa theater, where you can see some classical Japanese plays. I also went to see Okinawa World where you can explore some pretty cool limestone caves. I saw the shrines, the castles, the beaches. But honestly, the best part about Okinawa is, well, Okinawa. Unlike most big tourist places there aren’t many attractions and things to do. Rather, the atmosphere and the place itself is the attraction of Okinawa. By all means, I urge you to see some of the beautiful temples and castles. But make time for Okinawa itself. Go to a few Jazz Bars (one that comes to mind is Parker’s Mood) or workshops. Strike a conversation with some of the locals. They’re more than happy to exchange a few words with a foreigner, and you’ll learn much more about the real Okinawa from them than any other museum or castle. The transportation in Okinawa is pretty limited, so if you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) or a Japanese license, just rent a car for a few days and drive around the island. It doesn’t take more than three hours to go from North to South. Take the ferries to the smaller islands, and just soak in this awesome and truly unique place!


Oh, and last but not least, as promised – a vast abundance of Shisa stone doggos!