Thursday, November 18, 2010

Soft Cell - "Memorabilia" from the CD Non Stop Erotic Cabaret

Soft Cell Non Stop Erotic Cabaret CD coverSoft Cell's larger FM radio hit notwithstanding, "Memorabilia" is in my estimation the high-water point for 80's synthpop.

Or at least, it's the point where the genre's aims best mesh with my own tastes, which admittedly run towards the somewhat dark.

And "Memorabilia" is no doubt that. Beyond its proto-electronica digital clicks, and beeps, and whirrs, the song gives us an evocative and disturbing first-person view of a collector-by-disposition who veers wildly into dysfunction when the physical relationship he'd longed for fails to materialize.

Interesting, how our narrator (and Soft Cell themselves) manage to imbue the most trivial of objects with an air of gravity that they don't in fact possess, how keychains and ashtrays and other trinkets of mass production transform through tenuous association into emotional markers, the real enough hoarded residue of a fantasy liaison.

His delusion yearns for reinforcement, whether it be through furtively snapped photographs, through cheap melmac souvenirs, or through malleable memory that must be altered on its demanding behalf.

If you polish your delusion strongly enough, I have never had you will gradually become molded into . . . I've been there

Places are collected in this way too, towns that he's passed through and their pretty postcards for sale, the snowstorms trudged through in winter recursively mimicked in Taiwanese plastic, resorts visited clandestinely on the Costa del Sol, and the girl with him there in her mantilla, or, really, markers for the monothematically deluded tourist placed anywhere else the fetishistic meets the obsessive-compulsive.


Soft Cell - Non Stop Erotic Cabaret - Memorabilia.mp3

160 kbps mp3, up for six weeks (Right click and save as target)

File under: Synthpop

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Scrobbles

Please give a warm LHdlMR welcome to the newest version of my Blogger Last Child widget, now featuring fifteen songs, copiable text, fine-tuned colors that change from day to day, and a handy link to a well-formed XML file.

All so that y'all can have access to the songs I'm listening to on my iTunes.

Last.FM had thoughtfully provided a customizable widget for me to use, but I was never happy with that 'coz 1) it was an image, not a text file, and 2) the titles that were long enough to run past the edge of the image were simply chopped off rather than returned to be completed on a new line. So you most recently had entries like "They Might Be Giants - Sapphire Bull"

Not that there's anything wrong with Sapphire Bull, mind you.

Anyway, I decided to tgry and write something that would get it right, a PHP script that would parse the XML file my scrobbler generates, and once I had worked around the difficulties it had with Blöödhag, and had something I was happy with, I then--and only then--realized that Blogger won't allow you to post PHP scripts!

Ack, all that time wasted . . . but no, at the last I realized I could host the PHP file on my site, and run it here in an iframe.

Yippee!




Here's some code if anyone's interested:






<?php

$date = date("j");
if ($date %7 == 0) {$todayscolor = "#A47FCC";}
if ($date %7 == 1) {$todayscolor = "#0D3F04";}
if ($date %7 == 2) {$todayscolor = "#F7646A";}
if ($date %7 == 3) {$todayscolor = "#26388A";}
if ($date %7 == 4) {$todayscolor = "#EABF15";}
if ($date %7 == 5) {$todayscolor = "#000000";}
if ($date %7 == 6) {$todayscolor = "#408080";}

$i = 1 ;
$spacer="";
$backgroundcolor=$todayscolor;
$fontcolor="#FFFFFF";
$dashflag=1;

echo "<body style=\"margin:0px;padding:0px\">";
echo"<table cellpadding=3 style=\"font-size:12px;width:218\">";
echo "<caption style=\"border:3px double black;color:#666666;font-size:18px;font-weight:700\">Last 15 Tracks Scrobbled at
Last.FM</caption>";
ini_set('allow_url_fopen', 1);


$file = 'http://ws.audioscrobbler.com/2.0/?method=user.getrecenttracks&user=rastronomicals&limit=14&api_key=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX';



$NAMEflag=0;
$ARTISTflag=0;

echo "\r\n<tr

style=\"color:".$fontcolor.";background-color:".$backgroundcolor."\">";


function contents($parser, $data){
global $spacer;
global $todayscolor;
global $fontcolor;
global $backgroundcolor;
global $i;
global $NAMEflag;
global $ARTISTflag;
global $dashflag;

if ($i % 2==0) {$backgroundcolor=$todayscolor;
$fontcolor="#FFFFFF";} else
{$backgroundcolor="#FFFFFF";
$fontcolor=$todayscolor;}

if ($ARTISTflag==1) {
$NAMEflag=0;

echo $data;
}



if ($NAMEflag==1) {

$ARTISTflag=0;

if ($dashflag==1) {echo " - ";}
echo $data;
$dashflag=0;


}

}

function startTag($parser, $data){

global $i;
global $spacer;
global $NAMEflag;
global $ARTISTflag;



if ($data=="NAME") {$NAMEflag=1;
$ARTISTflag=0;
} else
{$NAMEflag=0;}

if ($data=="ARTIST") {
$ARTISTflag=1;
$NAMEflag=0;
}
else {$ARTISTflag=0;}

if ($NAMEflag==1) {
echo ""; }

if ($ARTISTflag==1 ) {
if ($i > 9) {$spacer="";} else {$spacer=" ";}

echo "<td style=\"vertical-align:top\"><b>".$spacer.$i.". </b><td><b>"; }


}

function endTag($parser, $data){

global $NAMEflag;
global $ARTISTflag;
global $fontcolor;
global $backgroundcolor;
global $i;
global $dashflag;

if ($data=="NAME" ) {
$NAMEflag=1;
$ARTISTflag=0;
}
else {
$NAMEflag=0;
}

if ($data=="ARTIST" ) {
$ARTISTflag=1;
$NAMEflag=0;
}
else {
$ARTISTflag=0;
}

if ($NAMEflag==1) {

echo "</td>\r\n<tr
style=\"color:".$fontcolor.";background-color:".$backgroundcolor."\">";
$i++;
$dashflag=1;
}

if ($ARTISTflag==1) {

echo "</b>"; }

$ARTISTflag=0;
$NAMEflag=0;

}

$xml_parser = xml_parser_create();




$y = xml_set_element_handler($xml_parser, "startTag", "endTag");


if ($y == "NAME") {
xml_set_character_data_handler($xml_parser, "contents"); }

// make sure the remote file is successfully opened before doing anything else
if ($fp = fopen($file, 'r')) {
$data = '';
// keep reading until there's nothing left
while ($line = fread($fp, 1024)) {
$data .= $line;
}


} else {

echo "uh-oh";
var_dump($http_response_headers);


// an error occured when trying to open the specified url
}




if(!(xml_parse($xml_parser, $data, feof($fp)))){
die("Error on line " . xml_get_current_line_number($xml_parser));
}

echo "</table>";
echo "<br><center><a style=\"color:#666666\" target=\"_blank\"

href=\"".$file."\">XML File Here</a></center>";

xml_parser_free($xml_parser);

fclose($fp);

?>


Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love" (Two Different Ones)



I wonder whether anybody ever asked John McLaughlin what type of gun, exactly, it was that shot those sapphire bullets. Maybe it was the same one that shot that diamond bullet right through Kurtz' forehead?

Or maybe not. Maybe you need a different model gun for each precious or semi-precious stone. Or maybe it's that you need a different gun for each mental capacity, one for pure love, one for Kurtz' crystalline realization, maybe a third for bullets of acceptance, if you've heard of those.

Indeed, I'm kind of surprised we never saw a sequel song from the preternaturally talented Mahavishnu John, "Platinum Rifles of Inchoate Ecstasy" or some such . . . .

Alright, alright, alright, enough from me. "Sapphire Bullets" is a trifle of a song, actually, one that doesn't even display the Mahavishnu Orchestra's greatest calling card, which was their extreme instrumental virtuosity. It sort of blends UFO sounds with those of a guitar being tuned up, while featuring none of that fabulous pentatonic riffing from McLaughlin or Jan Hammer or Jerry Goodman or anyone.

It seems to exist, strangely enough, solely for the purpose of its silly little title, which on further reflection, seems to be a tad less little than the 21-second song itself.

I think the whole thing's pretty absurd, and I'm sure that McLaughlin himself--who's long since dropped the Sri Chinmoy nonsense--would agree.

But of course you don't need me to skewer the song, because They Might Be Giants already have!

Pistol shots
Gun shots
Pistol shots
Gun shots

Bullets from a revolver
Bullets from a gun
Bullets through the atmosphere
Here they come

John, I've been bad
And they're coming after me
Done someone wrong
And I fear that it was me

Sapphire bullets
Bullets of pure love
Sapphire bullets
Bullets of pure love

Anyway, the whole thing is kind of interesting to me, the way TMBG wrote a new song lampooning an older song and then had the chutzpah to name their tune after the song they lampooned.

Can't think of any other case quite like it, the Two Johns clearly had a blast with it, and now you can too.

The Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire - 04 - Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love.mp3

192 kbps mp3, up for six weeks (Right click and save as target)

File under: Ridiculous little snippets


They Might Be Giants - Flood - 17 - Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love.mp3

192 kbps mp3, up for six weeks (right click and save as target)

File under: Nerd Rock