I’ve done a lot of work in Photoshop – both for work and for fun – and something always amazes me when I go back to look at a good piece: whether it’s a simple image or a really involved picture, the number of layers, smart objects, layer masks, etc. are always more than I remember. And, most of the time, that’s the key difference between an average image and something that gets a lot of attention.
Consider this image by my buddy, Tony2Nice, which has more than 55 layers – not including those that were merged at some point during the process:
Working with digital media allows lots of freedom, but it also requires seemingly non-stop repetition and attention to detail. Where a painter might just switch colors and splash on a few strokes to add dimension, digital artists point & click, ad naseum.
I’ve done a little video work, too. So I know that really good video work involves a lot of the same endlessly echoing mousework. But it wasn’t until I watched the video below that I understood how tedious that digitally produced music could be. What follows is a reproduction of The Prodigy‘s “Smack My Bitch Up” by a Ukranian DJ, using nothing more than Ableton, a few choice samples and a hell of a lot of time. (And I thought Photoshop demanded a lot of layers!)
I just found an e-mail in my spam folder from the editor I’ve been working with on a story I wrote for an upcoming Chicken Soup book. Technically, the news arrived yesterday, so I guess this gets accounted for in the 2009 ledger. The publisher cut the chapter that my story was going to be in, so I’m out: no publication, no money. Figures.
2009 was such a shitty year, it’s still screwing with me … even in 2010.
“Do you like Huey Lewis and the news? Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercial and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far much more bitter, cynical sense of humor.”
While I know a lot of people aren’t crazy about electronic music, I really love a good techo song. Whether it’s big beat , trip-hop or trance, turn it up, increase the bass and start moving. And Underworld is one of my favorites. I’ve been a fan since Dubnobasswithmyheadman. This is a great combination of the songs Rez & Cowgirl, set to video from the film Koyaanisqatsi.
The meld of music and video is very nice, they almost seem perfectly paired for each other. And the music – it’s so fucking fantastic – as Rez builds and builds towards Cowgirl, I can’t help it, but it just puts a big, huge smile on my face. If you like these songs, you ought to check out their collection 1992-2002.
So, yesterday, I finally got around to watching “It Might Get Loud“, a documentary that might have been the best of 2009, if not for Anvil! (despite what the idiots at the Academy Awards think). This documentary brings together three rock guitarists – Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page – for a conversation about how they started playing, what music means to them and some discussion about their techniques.
If you’re into rock bands or guitars, it’s an absolute delight to watch. There’s not that much actual music in it, but it is jam-packed with trivia and wonderful little stories about where songs were recorded, early gigs and first instruments. The Edge talks a good deal about his fascination with hardware and effects – a conversation that’s interlaced with Jack White complaining about how music has become too dependent on computers and pedals and how it has become too easy for people to sound good. Whether or not that makes The Edge less of a musician is open to debate and there are lots of arguments to be made on each side. To be sure both he and Jack White are talented musicians. Unfortunately, for me, White comes off as being a bit pretentious, which is unfortunate, because he has added a lot to music over the past decade.
Then there’s Jimmy Page who, at age 64 when the movie was shot, still had all the swagger, moves and licks from his vintage Zeppelin years. Unlike some musicians of his age (or even younger), his fingerwork doesn’t seem to have slowed down a beat. One of the best scenes of the movie comes about halfway in when Page starts playing the opening riff from “Whole Lotta Love”. Immediately, both White & The Edge get these wonderfully happy, ear-to-ear grins on their faces. The Edge moves around so he can see Page’s fingers work the neck a little better and you see on their faces that they’re just watching as fans, like you and me, appreciating one of the greatest guitar heroes of all time. It’s a very special moment.
Altogether, “It Might Get Loud” is a fascinating movie, for its insight alone. Director David Guggenheim (whose previous work includes a fictional account of the coming ice age, errr, global warming errr, climate change, errr, climate crisis) has done a great job weaving three very diverse stories together. The end product is a great homage to the contribution of several very talented guitarists and – even more so – a celebration of the electric guitar.
Don’t forget to watch the DVD extras, which include some deleted songs, a jam session or two and a wonderful discussion about strings. Buy at Amazon or rent at Netflix.
OK, so it’s no big surprise that George Lucas royally fucked up the Star Wars series with that travesty he called Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I hate it, you hate it … but this guy really hates it.
What follows below is a 70 minute review (yes – seventy friggin minutes) that dissects the movie like Obi Wan’s light saber took apart Darth Maul. At the beginning, the review may seem as annoying as those God-awful Gungans, but stick with it. There are some incredibly well-constructed arguments and some great insight. It is a very worthwhile, pretty damn funny and definitely worth a watch.