Listening/reading log #19 (April 2021)

Another month gotten through somehow. And no matter how much else I have to do, I’ll keep going here on the site.

For now, let’s get to the business: more music and more great writing from around the communities here. This time I’m covering another set of two albums that are extremely different in tone and execution, so depending on your taste or just your mood right now hopefully you’ll like at least one of them.

Yeti (Amon Düül II, 1970)

Highlights: Hard to pick one out considering the nature of the music, but Eye Shaking King kind of sums the album up. Cerberus is also catchy

If an album cover ever gave me a first impression that the first minute of listening confirmed as true, the cover on Yeti sure as hell did. This album was recorded by Amon Düül II, a German band that came out of a late 60s Munich artistic and political commune called Amon Düül. The history of this commune and the projects that came out of it is interesting — there was apparently an Amon Düül I as well that operated alongside II as a separate group, but it seems like all the musicians with talent joined II, and they ended up being the ones remembered as more than a footnote.*

And these guys certainly deserve to be remembered. Yeti is a classic German rock album that I just got around to hearing. Quite a rough listen, especially the first time around — it’s a double album that runs for 70 minutes, and the entire second part of it consists of improvisations that wear me down a bit. A lot, even. From what I understand, at least some of the members of Amon Düül II had LSD habits, and you can kind of tell from the music here. But they also clearly had more than enough talent to make some really memorable music, mainly on the first record, which features some great tracks like “Cerberus” and “Eye Shaking King”. I also like the multipart Soap Shop Rock that opens the album.

A lot of the music on Yeti feels apocalyptic, which certainly fits some of the song titles and that Grim Reaper swinging his scythe on the cover. Great stuff if you’re in the mood for it (or if you’re consuming a certain substance maybe, but I don’t advocate that at all. The only psychoactive drug I use is caffeine anyway.)

Midnight Cruisin’ (Kingo Hamada, 1982)

Hightlights: Dakare ni Kita Onna, Midnight Cruisin’, Machi no Dorufin

And now for something on the opposite end of the spectrum, from rough to smooth. Kingo Hamada is one of the big names in city pop, a popular Japanese style from the late 70s/early 80s that I’ve covered here a bit before, and Midnight Cruisin’ seems to be one of his best known albums — or it is now after “Machi no Dorufin” (also listed as “Dolphin in Town”) blew up online recently for some reason.

It is a really catchy song, though, so much like the even bigger newly popular “reborn hit” “Plastic Love” I can see why this song got new life on the internet. But the same is true for the title track, as well as “Dakare ni Kita Onna”, a slower song that really makes me feel like I’m sitting in a Tokyo bar in the early 80s (even if the closest I’ve ever been to doing that is playing Yakuza 0. Close enough, right?)

I’m not such a fan of some of the other slower songs — there’s a little too much sap for me in places. But the good stuff here is really good, and if you have a higher tolerance for sap than I do, you might love all of Midnight Cruisin’. Much like Aja, it’s a good nighttime listening album, only it’s a lot less depressing than that one.

So those are two albums that I only like about half of each, but those combine to make one great album at least. I don’t see any need to ignore the good parts of these albums just because there are parts I don’t like so much, you know? Maybe one day I’ll feature a few albums that only have one song each I like. But for now, the featured articles:

Getting the Read: Fighting Game Literacy (Frostilyte Writes) — I was never able to get into fighting games, and I think this piece identifies exactly why I had such problems with the genre. Frostilyte clearly knows and cares a lot about fighting games — I highly recommend checking this out no matter how you feel about the genre to get some insight on it.

I Can’t Review Vivy Fluorite Eye’s Song (Crow’s World of Anime) — Vivy Fluorite Eye’s Song is a beautiful-looking anime currently airing. While acknowledging that, TCrow here also sets out reasons he can’t review it, and they are reasons I completely understand, having to do largely with its approach to future technology.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Extra Life) — Red Metal reviews Aaron Sorkin’s new historical courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 as part of his look at the Oscar Best Film nominees. I don’t watch a lot of live-action stuff in general, but this film is one I absolutely want to see. Both as a lawyer and as a citizen (edit: and just as a human for fuck’s sake) the treatment of the defendants in the proceeding pisses me off, but it sounds like Sorkin also brings some much-needed optimism into the story (no surprise considering his other work.) At the very least, we can say we’ve progressed somewhat from 1969.

Azur Lane: Slow Ahead! (Otaku Post) — Johnathan of Otaku Post does what I said I probably wouldn’t do myself and reviews the short fanservice comedy Azur Lane: Slow Ahead! Sounds like it’s just what I expected from what I saw of it — something very comfortable and fun if you’re into the game. Anything with more of that drunk bunny girl destroyer Laffey is worth it to me.

On the Necessity of Character Growth in Anime (I drink and watch anime) — As usual, Irina brings a lot of insight to an issue in anime and other media that gets argued about all the damn time — how much does a character need to grow in a story to be interesting? Her argument might go against the grain a bit, but I find it interesting (and I pretty much agree as well anyway.)

Anime Review #54: Angel’s Egg (Or, WTH IS THIS: The Movie) (The Traditional Catholic Weeb) — From Traditional Catholic Weeb, a review of Mamoru Oshii and Yoshitaka Amano’s famously strange anime film Angel’s Egg, and he brings his own interpretation to it that’s well worth reading.

The Unique & Sad Dynamic Between VTubers & Translators (Anicourses) — VTubers don’t exactly have easy jobs, and for the vast majority outside the giant agencies like Hololive and Nijisanji, it also seems difficult to get a lot of attention. Translators on YouTube can help bring these streamers to an international audience, but Le Fenette here explores the relationships between VTubers and translators and how they can get complicated.

Top 7 Characters That Fans Are Reluctant to Call Blatant Ripoffs (Iridium Eye Reviews) — In the comments of my review of Perfect Blue, Ospreyshire brought up Darren Aronofsky’s borrowing without acknowledgement of elements from that movie in his own Black Swan, along with some other examples of such “borrowing”, which are all explored in this post on the subject. I knew about the Kimba the White Lion/Lion King connection, but some of these I had no idea about.

A Grinding Pain (Lost to the Aether) — Aether brings up a subject that many gamers know all too well, especially those of us into JRPGs: the grind. And hell, I agree with him, even if I like JRPGs in general too. I don’t have time for that shit. It’s also more interesting to feel like you’ve beaten an enemy through good strategy rather than raw strength through killing common enemies and that kind of busy work leveling. But if I keep going I’ll be writing my own post about it, so be sure to check Aether’s out.

Nepiki Gaming 2.0 is here! Update + Roadmap (Nepiki Gaming) — Nepiki has established a new self-hosted site, so be sure to update your bookmarks/browsers. And congratulations are in order! Self-hosting is something I don’t have the courage to even bother thinking about, because I’m sure I’d make a mess of it. Certainly worth it if you have any technical knowledge though (or maybe I’m just making excuses for myself yet again. I don’t know.)

And finally, I don’t know if I’ve done this yet, so just in case: a general plug for Pete Davison and his colleagues over on Rice Digital. If you want more posts about the new Nagatoro anime and VTubers, check it out. Also paying respect to Saya no Uta, which is always good (but also kind of NSFW unless your bosses are really cool, and most aren’t. Incidentally, happy May Day.)

That’s it for last month. What a shit, just like every other month. At least the weather isn’t so bad right now, though. And I’m now almost effectively vaccinated against the coronavirus, so soon I’ll be able to go outside and do all those things I love doing outside, like… uh.

Well, at least I’m vaccinated. And this month, I’ll be getting around to at least one more game (finishing out Atelier Shallie soon, just powering through it) and another anime series or two, as well as one of my standard “AK complains” pieces about a game-related controversy I discovered recently that I think has some interesting implications for all of us, even if it seems like it might not at first glance. And though they may not be coming this month, I’ve gotten ideas for a few more deep reads posts that I’ll be working on soon (those things take forever to write, but I think they’re worth the trouble, even if Google’s algorithm thinks they’re too long and rambling. Well fuck you, Google; I’ll ramble as much as I want.)

I also might be shitposting on Twitter about NieR Replicant, which is an entirely new experience for me. I’ve already died a few times in unexpected ways, but I’ve played Automata so I know at least a little of what to expect from Yoko Taro and his gang anyway. Until next post, all the best.

 

* As another footnote, the Amon Düül commune also produced future members of the insurrectionist West German communist organization Red Army Faction, but this group and the band otherwise had nothing to do with each other as far as I understand. It’s interesting how the same movement can influence a bunch of peaceful guys who just want to make music and a bunch of other not-so-peaceful guys who want to overthrow governments.

18 thoughts on “Listening/reading log #19 (April 2021)

  1. Thanks for the shout-out and for promoting that Top 7 list I made on Iridium Eye. That was a fun one, but it took a lot of work to make. I do like how it got a discussion going and for different people checking it out.

    • Certainly! This is something that should be talked about, especially when people aren’t giving proper credit in the hopes that no one will notice or bother to bring it up.

      • Sure thing. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I want to make sure credit is due with these different stories and characters. It annoys me when a lot of big companies get away with these things.

  2. Thank you for the shout-out and spreading awareness since I’m still not 100% convinced every subscriber carried over smoothly! It was… definitely an interesting journey to becoming self-hosted. I do feel like you don’t need technical knowledge for most of it and just a few guides on google on the side, but when something goes wrong–that’s where things go south very fast. Fortunately I have a technical background so I can find- and fix problems decently fast. I absolutely feel it was worth it though, and the less you’ve messed with themes and widgets on your current blog the better :).

    • Absolutely, and I can see what you mean there. My lack of technical knowledge does feel like a barrier, but maybe it’s not as impossible as I think. Agreed on the themes and widgets and all that too; it can quickly become a mess.

  3. Hm, going for Amon Düül II this time, huh? I haven’t listened to them in a while, but I do remember liking Tanz der Lemminge quite a lot.

    Also, I’m proud to say I (somehow) got vaccinated as well. It’s a good feeling, isn’t it? Here’s hoping more people follow suit.

    And thanks again for the shout! I get the feeling as a lawperson, you’ll really get something out of The Trial of the Chicago 7. Aaron Sorkin’s certainly a cut above the rest when it comes to politically charged films; he knows what he wants to say, yet he isn’t preachy and doesn’t leave his audience feeling apathetic after the fact. This makes me want to check out A Few Good Men later.

    And I don’t really blame you for your lack of interest in live-action films. This year, the lineup was dominated by low-budget indie films, and that I only found myself recommending half of them isn’t really a good sign for where they’re going. Far-right types, in a stunning inability to vary their opinions up, blame the record-low viewership of 9 million on leftist politics, but, once again, the real enemy is creative stagnation. The current wave of filmmakers are in some serious need of direction, and the recent mumblecore-inspired hipster indie films are not a direction, but rather aimless meandering at its finest. It was interesting reading the Variety article about what went wrong, and Owen Gleiberman actually put it really well when he said “the specter of the disappearing audience can only be solved by winning the audience back to movie theaters, with movies that are too good to resist”.

    So basically, filmmakers need to get good. I’m on board with that sentiment.

    • Yeah, Amon Düül II was a new thing for me. I’m looking into that continental European weird artsy prog/experimental 70s stuff more now — I want to check out a few other bands as well. I need to hear Tanz der Lemminge too; I’ve heard it’s a great one.

      It does feel good to be vaccinated finally. It’s still not effective yet for me, but soon enough. I know there’s still controversy around the whole thing, which considering what happened with Johnson & Johnson I kind of get. Still, it all seems like it’s more or less what you’d expect considering just how many people are being vaccinated, the speed of the approvals, the urgency of the situation and all that.

      Definitely! I saw A Few Good Men a very long time ago, and I remember it being pretty good, though all that famous yelling in the courtroom would probably quickly get shut down by the judge in real life (but then I also get the need for some drama. Real-life trials, even high-profile ones, are mostly pretty dull.)

      Somehow I think those far-right types are always going to find a way to blame anything and everything on liberals or leftists. I think extremists are just like that. I see how creative stagnation would do it, though. Mumblecore is absolutely stagnant, and I’m kind of surprised it’s still even much of a thing these days considering how long it’s been around and how played out it is now. And how generally irritating it’s always been too, though I guess a lot of critics still like it.

      And yeah, if there were more live-action films I were interested in seeing, I’d watch them. It’s not that I have anything against, them, though my anime and game backlogs are massive and usually take priority for me — but if there’s one of those “too good not to see” films out I’ll certainly make time for it. Owen Gleiberman is certainly right about that, at least.

  4. Thank you for the shout-out. 🙂

    Well based on previous conversations it should come as no surprise that I’ve already listened to Midnight Crusin’ (among other songs that Youtube correctly clumps into one’s feed upon listening to said album). Don’t have much else to add on that front, but it was an enjoyable listen for a busy Monday at work.

    Yeti though…that was…a bit much. There were bits and pieces I liked, but that had to be one of the more disorienting albums you’ve put on here. Probably alright in the right frame of mind. Kind of reminded me of…I have forgotten the name, but that really alien prog rock album you had on here with the orange explosion/tree on the cover art.

    • Definitely!

      Yeah, not surprised that you know about it. I think I’m still picking up city pop and getting to know it better.

      As for Yeti… yeah. I completely get what you mean. I think I was in exactly the right mindset for it when I heard it, and even then I didn’t care for the second part very much. Amon Düül II probably ties the Residents for most out there band I’ve covered in these posts. I’m thinking that other album was Geogaddi by Boards of Canada? I can’t think of another album with a similar cover I’ve put up here, and I think that one can be disturbing as well. If someone reading this is new to both these albums, I hope they start with Yeti and then relax or cool down with Kingo Hamada; that’s probably the best way to go.

  5. Thanks for the shoutout! And yeah, Google’s algorithm gets to be a weird, weird thing. Doesn’t seem to capture what I consider good content nearly as well as it does shallower things when I’m searching, and in my case, at least, it links my blog to some really bizarre search terms. I’ve kind of stopped looking into those, although it is interesting sometimes that ‘that’s how you found my stuff?’

    • No problem!

      I think Google prefers shorter articles. When I wrote freelance articles, I remember a lot of the emphasis was on keeping it relatively short and throwing big keywords in early. As you say, I think this tends to promote shallower sorts of articles, though it’s possible to write substantively this way — but depending on the subject matter, that can be hard to do.

      I can relate to those weird search terms, too. Sometimes I just feel bad that whoever was searching for “[character name] naked” didn’t find what they were looking for on my site.

  6. Pingback: Dazzling Blogger Award! | Ospreyshire's Realm

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