Saturday, July 23, 2011

Last Show

I'll have a retrospective post later one. If you are in the area, come to this, and say goodbye. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Guide to DIY Extreme Music Recording

In order to force myself to make more posts, and because I think it might be generally useful, I am going to be making regular posts regarding the creation of a DIY metal/grind/punk/noise/pv/hardcore album. It will not be a step by step guide to compressors/amp sims/mix placement/what have you. There are plenty of those out there and I'm not particularly great at it.

Instead it will focus on the overall process of recording, and provide some useful tips in how to keep shit from going wrong and what to do when it does. I'm also hoping to get Luke (my bandmate and the guy who actually knows his shit, instead of simply repeating "dude the guitars should be heavier"... that's my job) to add to a few sections, and hopefully get other people to talk about their experience. On my end I'm hoping to add practical and aesthetic concerns, and well as offering my opinions on a few things that I think are roadblocks to putting out a decent album. Much of what will be featured will be mistakes I've personally made.

And while I may not have the technical knowledge of a lot of people out there, I know how to be borderline starving and put out an album (see Jigoku). I'm going to try and share my knowledge of how to get away with making an album with literally no budget (see all of my releases). I'm going to avoid the idea of studios for the most part, unless it's in the context of "I got a 100 level recording class to record my band, but they fucked everything up, now what do i do?" because I've been there.

Ultimately I'd like this to be somewhat of a cross-media experience, and to help illustrate the points made during posts, I'll be throwing up audio examples. There's a possibility when I'm at Mills I'll throw in some video interviews, as technically this is one of the things I'll be studying. When I feel there's enough material, I would like to throw a PDF and collection of audio examples on to Grindcore Karaoke, but I'm not sure if that's something that Jay wants.

Anyway this a project I'm really excited about, so hopefully it comes across fairly well.

I would like to make a few things known before this project starts: 1. As has been previously mentioned, this is specifically for DIY recording, if you are looking for purely technical knowledge look elsewhere. 2. I come from a very particular perspective, and my experience of DIY may different from many people. I am white and male, and while there are other aspects of me that give me an outsider status, my race and sex probably determine more than I'd like them to. I would like to bring a wider perspective to this project, but I am not sure how possible this will be. 3. Much of what will be posted is my opinion, not objective truth. It is my feeling that these opinions are useful in overcoming obstacles in recording, but they nonetheless come from a very biased perspective.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Preview From Our Split with Detroit

The mix is in progress, but its somewhat close to its final form, with the exception of the vocals. Keep in mind that this a sample from a five minute song.

New Robocop Preview Mix In Progress by ryanpage

Japanese Cyber Punk: Tetsuo The Bullet Man

I should use this preface to express my anguish at the series of kicks to the groin that have come from some of my favorite directors in recent years: From the progressive disappointment of Romero's recent excursions into the genre he started, to the extremely frustrating conclusions of Argento and now Tsukamoto's signature trilogies, I am left totally confused as to what they were thinking.

Actually, Argento and Tsukamoto have interesting parallels in regards to their trilogies. Both began with an extremely innovative film and expanded the mythology in a sequel treated with total indifference, only to tarnish the reputation of the original work with films that seem so confused about what the original picture did well, that I had to look away in pain at various points. I might also add that I feel the second films in both trilogies were unfairly under-rated. Both 'Inferno' and 'Body Hammer' were unfairly criticized for faults that, when compared to the series conclusion, seem impossibly insignificant.

When compared to the original 'Tetsuo' film, Body Hammer's aesthetic is somewhat subdued, and to a certain extent it lacks the verisimilitude of its predecessor. However, I'm not convinced that this makes it a bad film, or relevant to the director's intentions (by the time Body Hammer came out the lo-fi extreme Japanese cyber-punk style of Tetsuo was already adopted by directors such as Shozin Fuki). Instead, Body Hammer accentuates the Robert Longo stylings hinted at in the first film, and articulates the cyber-punk aspect to a greater degree.

Which brings me to Tetsuo: The Bullet Man. While I had been trained for disappointment, none of the circumstances of the film's production seem to indicate a the anticlimax of, say, 'Mother of Tears'. With the exception of Nightmare Detective (on which he was essentially a director for hire) I've liked all of Shinya Tsukamoto's films. Most likely though, the film slipped past my crap detector because it was originally disguised as a sequel to Bullet Ballet (another favorite Tsukamoto film). Since it was revealed to be a sequel to Tetsuo, not much information about the film was put forward, and while the reviews I saw were negative, most of the reviews of Tetsuo were negative as well, so I took them with a grain of salt.

I don't want to overly dramatize my disappointment, but I honestly felt like there was barely a fraction of the talent on display in the original Tetsuo. It is possible that if I hadn't seen the original films I might be able to overlook some of the major issues, but in that situation I wonder if the film would be rendered completely unintelligible. I am always frustrated with films that require some understanding of a certain mythology to watch, and yet spend their entire running time contradicting that mythology, especially when they're adressed literally in the dialogue (the Silent Hill film is a great example of all of these errors). I remember a Roger Ebert quote that went something like "Never in a film where I've had so little of an idea of what is going on have I wanted less explanation."

Another issue is the visual aesthetics. While this is probably the element of the film most readily salvageable, much of it feels painfully contrived. The Longoisms of Body Hammer carry over, and in some scenes are perfected beyond what the 1992 film could accomplish, however, the faux Matrix stylings, especially in regards to electronic devices, seem nearly as out of place as the late 90s gabba on  Illud Divinum Insanus. Attempts at creating the kinetic energy of Tetsuo through the use of excessive shakycam fail entirely, likewise does the Iron Man imagery which amounts to one rubery prosthetic for the majority of the film that looks like a reject mask from one of the members of Slipknot.

From my perspective the worst element of the film is the dialogue. Nearly every element of it is bad, from the writing, to the delivery, to the fact that its in English, to the fact that it exists at all. Tetsuo had maybe 5 full sentences in the entire movie, this film rambles in painful phonetic english for much of its 79 minutes. Other aspects of the overall sound design fair much better (even the soundtrack doesn't completely lose the timbre and energy of the original).

What's probably the saddest aspect of this is that the film is paper thin. There is nearly nothing here that wasn't already done, in much more interesting way, in the earlier films. It's unfortunate because it fails in the context of a stand alone film, concludes a series of films I really enjoyed, and does so in an utterly moronic way.