Friday, April 25, 2008

Going slowly crazy... (Originally posted on My Space on Friday, February 24, 2006)

Well today was officially day one of my new race to win the THQ diet contest. I was originally planning to cut my caloric intake to 1500 calories a day, but Becca said if I was really hard core I'd cut back to 1200. So I'm trying it out. For breakfast I had a bowl of soup. For lunch I had a salad, no dressing. I can honestly say that now I have entered the early stages of withdrawl. I am shaking a little and I am somewhat irritable. I can only guess as the pounds slip away I'll get more and more iritible. Anthony and I looked up our ideal weights today. For a man of my "build" that is to say LARGE and Height, that is to say about 6', I should weigh at most 187 pounds. 187!!! And here I thought my goal of 210 seemed unreasonable. Anyway I have told too many people that I am riding my bike tomorrow...that I need to do it just to live up to my reputation of being dedicated to fitness at the cost of my own health. I'll show them!

Anyway, so I promised you guys a review. Let me start off by setting some ground rules. First of all I will make references to stuff that I like and listen too, I will not explain why something reminds me of the Blue Door remix of Depeche Mode's song Death's Door, that is just a reference you will have to come to terms with on your own. So having established that we'll start things off with a nice CD review. The CD in question is 'Dreamweb' by Mind in a Box. A special thanks should go out to Molly, who bought this CD for me for Christmas. She got me so many good CDs that I haven't even really digested them all yet, but this is one I am ready to talk about.

First off it is important to understand the atmosphere in which I discovered this band. It was during the brutal overtime I endured during the test cycle for Full Spectrum Warrior at Pandemic. I was listening to shoutcast industrial stations for about 15 hours a day. You tend to hear a lot of stuff that sounds the same. And in general when you are that deep into crunch time everything just blends together in a blur of caffine addled sleep deprivation.

In this time there were three songs that I became obsessed with. The first was a remix of a PzychoBitch song called 'Caress', The second was 'The Cell' by Project Pitchfork, and the third in this triad of songs I waited all day to hear was 'Lost Alone' by This last band was most intriguing (and not just based on the interesting way they spelled their name). There was something compelling about what for lack of a less melodramatic word I will call their soundscape. The two songs I heard weren't the usual dance floor singles, although they were dance-oriented there was an unusual depth. Something sort of for lack of another better, less over used word I will call cinematic. The more I researched this band the more I discovered that they had done one better than the concept album, they had formed a concept band. But more than Daft Punk, this band had a story to tell. It was a Phillip K. Dick inspired story about humanities attempts to use technology to expand the physical boundaries of the mind. Totally great sci-fi stuff.

Their first album, Lost Alone, was one of my favorite albums of 2004. I listened to it incesantly. Discovering new elements and subtlties with each listen. For a time I had the whole album on my MP3 player (not an ipod by the way) so I could listen to it while I jogged from start to finish on my head phones. Many nights the gloom of the late autumn nights were made far more opressive by this haunting soundtrack.

So I was aniticipating's second release with great expectations. I was originally going to give it a review along the lines of 'sophmore slump' but I think that in many ways this album is merely an extension of the themes hinted at on the first CD. As a collection of songs I would say that this album fails to maintain the balance between high melodrama and inspired psychological observation. It seems as if the band decided that they were more interested in forwarding the 'story' of the album over creating a cohesive musical foundation on which to layer the vocal elements. There are references throughout the second album to their earlier work. In some cases their are entire sections of songs from 'Lost Alone' that drift in and out of the mix. It is hard to decern weather the band is attempting to be self referential in an attempt to more deeply explore the themes of the earlier work or if they simply couldn't think of another way of saying the same thing. Unfortunatly more often than not the songs come off hitting to many of the same notes as the songs they are referencing leaving the listener with little more than they would have gleaned from a remix CD.

Also the album's flow is not as tight as the first CD. The first CD had a great build, with each song segueing to the next seemlessly...almost not allowing the listener to skip tracks or listen to the songs out of sequence. This CD maintains this spirit in its opening tracks, but as the album wears on it seems to lose its focus...ending with the lukewarm VNV-ish "escape" a song that meanders its way through five minutes of the listeners life without adding much to it.

Overall I was left hoping that this album was going to deliver far more than it did. In the end I find myself hoping that it will be something of a transition thematically to a third CD that shows more depth and growth to the core sound and ideas that have been simmering in the first two releases. I would recommend this CD to anyone who is a fan of their earlier work, but I would be suprised if anyone who had never heard of this group before would be won over by this second effort.

As for me...I'm going home to try to finish my laundry before someone else gets their damn clothes in the machine!!!! I hate them all!!!

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