Tuesday, November 18, 2008

culture de trag├ędie (preview)

Culture header

Inspired by the alternative beauty pageant "Miss Catwalk Tragedy" this 134 page, full color 8.5" x 11" collection features some of the country's top alternative photographers and a few promising newcomers.


Look for an interview on Alterati.com with photographer S. Jenx about this collection in coming weeks, covering what inspired him to curate this collection, his own photographic process, and knowing us, probably a lot more.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Two Headed Monster

(Photo by Matthew Cooke.)

In my opinion, Collide’s recent release, Two Headed Monster, is both a culmination and a departure from their past work. Though it may remain in the same rack in the record store (those still exist, right?), you can feel that a maturation has taken place.

Contrary to opinion, maturation of this nature doesn’t simply come with time. As many artists prove, you can create and re-create the same thing for a lifetime, if you so choose. There is a deceptive, almost infinite freedom provided by working on projects exclusively in the studio, as much of Collide’s previous work has been. Sometimes those boundless 3 a.m.-in-the-studio possibilities can become a creatively stagnating trap. I’m happy they managed to avoid that trap, instead creating a thickly-textured, lively album that stands up to many listens.

As some of you probably already know, I’m not a fan of regurgitating the experience of listening to an album in an attempt to entice you into buying it. (Though as that goes, the Fearnet.com review was pretty good.) Rather, I leave it to you to check it out, and form your own opinion. The process that created a work is always most interesting to me, so I am happy that I had the chance to talk to kaRIN and statik about how this album came into being…

James Curcio: The first thing that stood out to me on this album was that it seemed to be more collaborative than your previous work. Correct me if I’m wrong on this, but it feels to me that Collide really took a step forward in that regard, and several others. After so many years with the two of you primarily working as a “two headed monster” (as it were), what was it like opening the songwriting process up to other band members and contributors?

kaRIN: The primary song writing for Collide is still primarily Statik and myself. Over the years, we are just trying to evolve as much as we can and not make the same songs over again. We were very lucky to have gathered up some great live players, so the live influence and the fact that all of our live members contributed to each of the songs is definitely evident on Two Headed Monster.

(Read the full interview on Alterati.com.)

"Science bears a clear parallel tomilitary organisation and the instrumental application of armed force in that its practitioners are always attempting to extract ‘patterns’ from ‘noise’, to find regularities in the fog of
randomness, to uncover the ‘laws’ governing the behaviour of nature, to reveal the hidden order behind its apparent chaos."
From http://twitter.com/brainsturbator

The Scientific Way of Warfare: Science and the Management of
Techno-social Systems of Warfare

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Synchronicity Studios mockup

Originally uploaded by agent139
This is a mockup in progress for an interactive production group we're working on forming. More content to go in there, but since its CSS controlled around 2am after being up all day working at TLA and then from home I got sick of doing mockups.

If you're curious about what we'll be offering, or just want to gripe about my use of obnoxious colors- as always, feel free to inquire.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Netwar- the swarm, 2.0, and its effect on conflict.

The rand corporation published this white-paper on the subject that I think many of you may find interesting. (Not surprisingly, many of these are ideas I played with liberally during the creation of Fallen Nation.)

"Editors’ abstract. As with other new modes of conflict, the practice of netwar is ahead of theory. In this concluding chapter, we suggest how the theory of netwar may be improved by drawing upon academic perspectives on networks, especially those devoted to organizational network analysis. Meanwhile, strategists and policymakers in Washington, and elsewhere, have begun to discern the dark side of the network phenomenon, especially among terrorist and criminal organizations. But they still have much work to do to harness the bright side, by formulating strategies that will enable state and civil-society actors to work together better."

The use of "bad guys" and "good guys", used so liberally throughout, is rather comedic. However, the central premise is sound.

Also of particular note:

Why have the members assumed a network form? Why do they remain
in that form? Networks, like other forms of organization, are held together by the narratives, or stories, that people tell.

The kind of successful narratives that we have in mind are not simply rhetoric—
not simply a “line” with “spin” that is “scripted” for manipulative ends. Instead, these narratives provide a grounded expression of people’s experiences, interests, and values.

First of all, stories express a sense of identity and belonging—who “we” are, why we have come together, and what makes us different from “them.” Second, stories communicate a sense of cause, purpose, and mission. They express aims and methods as well as cultural dispositions—what “we” believe in, and what we mean to do, and how.

Obama: much ado about the wrong thing.

It really doesn't matter- so far as I can tell- that Obama is half black. The fact that it does matter just shows how far we have to go.

What does matter is that he's intelligent, and, despite being a politician (and all that comes along with it), he is also an able statesman. How much that matters is yet to be seen. The work has just started- and I do not envy his job. Talk about first-day-on-the-job pressure, at least in January. The entire world seems to expect a miracle.

That's all I feel like saying about politics right now. The Collide review is on slight delay because though my iPhone claimed to download the mp3s, they're not showing up in my playlist. And I won't be home for 4 days...

Palin: Sigh of relief...

Palin might have been your vice president, America...

Palin was apparently a nightmare for her campaign staff to deal with. She refused preparation help for her interview with Katie Couric and then blamed her staff, specifically Nicole Wallace, when the interview was panned as a disaster. After the Couric interview, Fox News reported, Palin turned nasty with her staff and began to accuse them of mishandling her. Palin would view press clippings of herself in the morning and throw "tantrums" over the negative coverage. There were times when she would be so nasty and angry that her staff was reduced to tears.

Huffingtonpost article.

Monday, November 03, 2008


For those interested in following me on twitter who don't already, my profile is here.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Scott Landes of Collide: a collaborative profile-

Next week- supposing I can finally kick the plague that's been ravaging my innards- I'm going to be writing a review of Collide's recent release Two Headed Monster. It'll run both on Alterati.com and Greylodge.org. This album has been three years in the making, and as you may have already heard, showcases Danny Carey from Tool and Dean Garcia from Curve, as well as the members of the live band they assembled.

Video for Euphoria, off of Collide's previous album.

Before then, however, I wanted to give a shout out to an ex-bandmate and good friend of mine, who happens to be a member of that live band- Scott Landes. The fact of that matter is that oftentimes the headliners steal all the oxygen from the room- which isn't to say that it isn't warranted. (My respect for what kaRIN and statiK have done aside, I won't deny an almost fanboy-ish love for Danny Carey's drumming.)

However, in this case the other members, who often get referred to in the reviews as "the live band," are all talented musicians in their own right. Who knows the names of the band that played with Tori Amos when touring for Little Earthquakes, or PJ Harvey's bandmates on Rid of Me? (Don't check with Google. I'm just making a point.) This is a fault purely of the press- and the simple bottom line of what sells tickets and records.

I don't know the other members of Collide's band well enough to talk about them, though Kai Kurosawa's muscianship is clearly impressive. However, having known, worked with, and on several occasions lived with Scott, I wanted to share a little of that, and some reflections of my own work with him and how he influenced me- before jumping into a review of Collide's album on its own ground.

I first met Scott in 98 or 99 during my Sophmore year at Bard College. Our mutual friend Jim introduced us, and he promptly blew me away with the intensity of his playing- and in the process snapped at least one of the strings on the Mexican strat that I owned at the time.

From that point on, we began a many-year long collaboration which oftentimes veered into the obscure or plain bizarre. Scott got me to take music more seriously- it was hard not to, what with how passionate he is about it. He would literally stay up all night playing until his fingers bled. (And then keep playing.) One part of what motivated me to take Jazz harmony and music theory classes was so that I could keep up with him on my chosen instrument at the time, bass. On the other hand, I'd like to think that I helped him learn to take music a little less seriously. Oftentimes, we would have absurd jams so ridiculous that we'd fall over laughing. These first meanderings took the form of Bile Shower, a truly awful concoction which was a great deal of fun to create, and which wreaks pain and havoc upon whomever has the poor sense to subject themselves to it.

This did eventually lead to more serious projects, such as Babalon, but throughout I would say that there's always been an underlying comedy in most of the work we've done together, even those which got more production attention, like subQtaneous. (Here is a live recording of Waiting and a demo of Save The World, two of my favorites from what we recorded with Babalon).

After Babalon broke up, Scott joined forces with Collide, and a little while thereafter, with Mankind Is Obsolete. I had MKIO stay at my apartment several months back, when they were still on their colossal year+ tour, and got to briefly reconnect with him and meet some new faces. Here is a band operating completely without a label, living out of a van, playing gigs varying in size and grandiosity from Warp tour dates to some people in a corn field. (Read Part 1 and Part 2 of my review and interview with Mankind is Obsolete from last year before they hit the road.)

Living off of tuna and celery and playing music every night. It just goes to show that though the days of excess Guns N' Roses got to experience might be gone, if you are committed enough, you can hit the road and find an audience.

I've been involved in several musical projects since Babalon, and some studio work with Scott since. However, I've yet to meet someone with his singleminded passion, dedication and drive for the art. It is truly a rare thing. If you have the opportunity to see him perform with Collide, Mankind Is Obsolete, or any other bands that he chooses to work with, I highly suggest you take it. I always look forward to seeing him on stage, or having another opportunity to collaborate.

Look for a review of Two Headed Monster next week.

(As a final note to the Fallen Nation readers out there- yes, the character of Cody was based- in part - on Scott.)


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