Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The sounds of today

Don't let that Lastfm list over on the right lull you into a false sense of security about my musical tastes. That just happens to cover what has ended up on this PC through downloads and ripping of choice tracks to use on compilations or as ring tones or just to listen to while I'm up here. There are plenty of artists on the CD shelves not currently starring on this hard drive not to mention the drawers full of cassettes that still get the odd play and even the vinyl sat down to my left comes out once in a while (in fact the turntable has been quite busy of late as I've been sticking my old 12" singles onto the PC to then re-use as CDs). I'll come back to those some other time. Anyway, while I wouldn't go so far as to claim that the internet has revolutionised how I consume music, it has definitely had an impact in helping me find new artists as well as obtaining loads of bootleg concerts, unofficial mixes, mash-ups and the like. But I'm still one for a physical object.

I think I have conquered my past obsessive need to own every song released by certain artists with multiple format purchases of singles and albums (although knowing that there is a 1989 Dogs D'Amour B-side I'm still missing does nag at me in the wee small hours) but still have walls full of discs. It helps that the single has almost died off as a physical format of course, no temptation to wander off to the nearest record emporium every week to see what has come out, even if that does mean the supply of extra tracks to complement an album has gone too. I do still pop out once a week to look at the new albums of course, even if I then go home and order them online. Although not as often as I used to. If you'd told the 22 or 23 year old me that I'd be happy to wait for a new release until it came in the post (or even until the end of the month, or - shock horror - Christmas) I would probably have laughed in your face. With age comes patience and mortgage payments.

Which is why I am now listening to a CD I just burnt of The Future, The Past & The Present Tension - the new album from Mark Vidler aka Go Home Productions which is now available as a free download from his site. I first encountered GHP via the mash-up scene (and have several mini-discs featuring his past output, including longer mixes as well as loads of cut & paste stuff) but this is "proper" original music and I'm liking it a lot. Lots of real instruments with smaples and other stuff laced throughout. Well worth the effort of clicking on a download link and then bunging onto a shiny disc. I'm not sure really who to compare him to in terms of style - a bit of Lemon Jelly perhaps, with a smattering of indie guitar and a love of the Beatles. That doesn't really help I'm sure, but as you can find out for free don't let my feeble attempts at categorization put you off.

I have also downloaded a couple of discs worth of stuff from Soundhog tonight for future listening pleasure. Another one I found through mash-ups who has branched out into longer mix sets (which have had radio play) and remixes etc. And while I am recommending music from the interweb you could also try Paul Thorpe in his Braces Tower guise for some fun electronica.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Obligatory anniversary post

So today is the 40th anniversary of Mr Armstrong taking his small step onto the moon and I am quite surprised to note that none of the blogs I regularly read have mentioned it at all. Perhaps I'm the only space freak out there (can't quite believe that) or perhaps everyone else had more thrilling things to write about. After all, it was fourty years ago and who cares these days? Well, I do.
Although I didn't come along until 1971 and the last few gasps of the Apollo programme, I have always been fascinated by the idea of getting off this rock. I'm told that almost as soon as we could walk, my friend Rebecca and I were bouncing up and down the lounge in slow motion imitation of the moonwalkers. So either they were repeating the footage quite a lot or we were pretty precocious in the mobility stakes.
Having read a fair bit on the subject in recent years (particularly since visiting Houston in 2006) I am still staggered by the effort put into the whole space programme and how well they did. The fact that NASA didn't lose any astronauts in flight until the Challenger explosion is just incredible when you think how many people get killed by their work in other fields with a much lower percieved risk. I can also appreciate that the shuttle has done a good job of helping learn the science and medical stuff etc for long term future of space travel, even if mucking about in low earth orbit is one hell of a come-down compared to shooting for the moon. I'd still give my left leg for a ride up out of the atmosphere, that's for sure. Maybe Virgin Galactic will get their act together soon enough for me to try it (if I win the lottery) but I'd rather be up there for my job than as a tourist. And given that we have had British astronauts I might just have made it if I'd put my mind to it 25 years or so ago and applied myself to the right kind of studies. We will never know.
Still, I am lapping up all the documentaries and stuff the BBC have been putting out over the last few weeks. I've seen some of the footage so many times I can follow bits of debris and know where they will fall during a lift off, but it still stirs the emotions. And the fact that stuff I haven't seen before is also cropping up is just fantastic. I could sit and watch that for hours. Even the larking about with blobs of water in zero g (OK, microgravity if you want to get technical) is worth watching to remind ourselves of the possibilities of getting out there.
We are having a day trip to London next week and I might just have to find half an hour or so to pop into the Science Museum to stare at their battered old command module for a bit. It may only have been from the dress rehersal, but it did go to the moon and back, which is pretty impressive for any man-made object.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

And Did Those Feet

Well, my feet anyway.

According to my phone I have now recorded over one million steps this year. OK, so if I was managing my 10,000 a day this milestone would have been passed over a month or so ago, but I still think it's worth noting for posterior. Or posterity!

It reckons that's over 500 miles too, which is not bad going if you ask me.

And now the sun is shining so time to add a few more to the total.