Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Boy

The first album of U2 from 1980, years before they attained their superstar status, remains a strong debut. It also has by far their best cover art - stunning simplicity, just a black and white shot of a young boy, and hardly any reference at all to the band or the title of the album. The photograph is by Hugo McGuiness. The image was changed to a distorted picture of the band for the American and Canadian release, due to the record company's fears that the band would be accused of pedophilia. The mind boggles.

All Music

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Inward peace and harmony

You can't judge a book by its cover? Well, for some albums that saying simply does not hold true. The title already evokes new age visions of the sappy kind, and the cute cover only strengthens the feeling. And indeed, as soon as the first harp sounds and panflutes arpeggios ooze from the speakers, you know: this is the typical commercial new age drivel. For good new age, seek out the likes of George Winston, Tingstadt and Rumbel or Jim Brickman. At all cost, avoid Corubal River.

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, as well as an imaginary review, following these instructions:

[1] The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Corubal River.
[2] The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album. The random quote that came up was by Seneca: Let tears flow of their own accord: their flowing is not inconsistent with inward peace and harmony.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Safe in the arms of her boss (a shot of my brother's dog), can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Centaur 60 Violet Red and FortunaDot 50 Red, respectively.

Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Xin tian di fountain

Like (almost) all my posts this month, this one is pre-seeded before departure, although chances are I will be spending a lot of time in this spot right now. The tourist and expat hub Xin tian di is 5 minutes walking from our home. I quite like this rather abstract shot I took of a fountain in that spot last October.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.013 sec (1/80)
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 27.6 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Svendsen, the other Norwegian

Yes, Norway did have other composers, although most people will only know Grieg. The best of the rest is without doubt his contemporary Johan Svendsen (1840-1911), whose education in Leipzig resulted in a more Central European sound. No fjords evocation in his music, but his compositions are well worthwhile. Especially his two surviving symphonies from 1865-1874 (his wife burned the only copy of the third), which get a very good performance in this Naxos disc by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Bjarte Engeset. Highly recommended for lovers of romantic music outside the mainstream composers.

Amazon

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The river

The French Fauvism movement, originating from impressionism but with wilder colours, never appealed to me to the same extent as the contemporary German expressionists. However, this 1910 painting by Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958), who in spite of his name was French and not Belgian, is a really excellent piece of work that deserves to be wider known than it is. More on de Vlaminck in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A dozen explored

Sometimes photographs enter Flickr Explorer days after they were oringnally uploaded - in this case, my twelfth shot to make it, it took about 2 weeks. I caught this jackdaw resting inside an electricity pilon - a beautiful contrast between the free flowing forms of nature and the rigid manmade geometry. Postprocessing was pretty severe here, going for high contrast and black and white to emphasize the line play.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 10.6 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Sunday, April 05, 2009

And God granted it

The Mexican band Acaponeta is not well known yet outside their own country, but with this release (their third album) things may change for them. Inspired by the likes of Camel and Caravan, this is modern progressive rock of high quality. The instrumental passages show very accomplished playing, whilst the addition of native American flutes and Mexican percussion creates a suitable exotic ambiance. The singing is adequate even though the voice of lead singer Jose Alvares requires some getting used to, and personally I would have preferred the lyrics to be in Spanish. The title song is a fascinating almost over the top religious anthem, with a church choir and a majestic organ reminiscent of Rick Wakeman. The highlight of the album though is the seven part suite Quetzacoatl - 22 minutes of sumptuous prog rock with all the changes in moods that such a lengthy composition requires. Highly recommended.

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group (and an imaginary review), following these instructions:

[1] The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Acaponeta.
[2] The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album. The random quote that came up was by Voltaire: I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Oultet, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were High Tower Text 40 Black and Forte 80 Black, respectively.

Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Eleven in Explore

And just before I leave, I scored my 11th photograph in Flickr's Explore list, the daily selection of 500 most interesting shots. Like the previous one, it is unused material from my archives (2007) for want of good new shots. This is a reflection shot, turned upside down, with some post processing in Picasa, and then a lomo-like treatment in Picnik to create the effect of an impresssionist painting.

Camera: Konica Minolta KD-400Z 4 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.007 sec (1/137)
Aperture: f/4.7
Focal Length: 8 mm
Iso speed: 100
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0, Picnik Lomo effect

Flickr