It’s good to hear that one of my ‘old’ heroes, David Bowie, is back with a brand new album. Due to his health issues in the past decade, I presumed such an album was not possible anymore, but after 10 years of silence Bowie surprised us again. I had the album quite often on repeat in recent days due to a minor flu and cold, so here is a little review about what ‘The Next Day‘ is about.
The pre-released single ‘Where Are We Now‘ gave perhaps a somewhat wrong impression about what to expect from the album. A breakable voice and a lush atmosphere might give the impression that we were in for an album full of nostalgic look backs, but ‘Where Are We Now’ is one of the few ballads on the album. The next wrong impression that one might have is by judging the album cover, the 1977 Heroes cover superimposed by a crude and simple white rectangle with the album title. Although ‘The Next Day‘ carries lots of references to his rich repertoire, the album is certainly not a ‘Heroes Part II‘. Most of the songs from ‘The Next Day’ are in the rock idiom and Bowie still has a powerful voice that can carry the songs.
Overall the album has quite a darkish atmosphere and the instrumentation is quite conventional throughout the album. With Tony Visconti behind the desk, there are hardly any inventive or experimental sounds going on, like you can find on -for example- ‘Scary Monsters‘. The style of the songs is similar to the works Bowie produced in the late 70s/ early 80s.
Overall the quality of the songs is high and musically interesting. My favorites are ‘The Stars Are Out Tonight‘, which has a very subtle mixed lead vocal, while the solo guitar is much louder, creating an interesting effect. ‘Love Is Lost‘ is is for me the best track, powerful vocals, with a slight touch of insanity that only Bowie can produce. ‘I’d Rather Be High‘ with its psychedelic influences, is the most interesting song when it comes to song structure and harmonies. But as indicated the album is very coherent, you won’t need to skip filler tracks.
Update: after some more relistens, the track ‘How Does the Grass Grow‘ has grown on me and has become my favorite track. It starts with staccato singing and then cumulates in a refrain, where the main theme from ‘Apache‘ (yes indeed, the Shadows song) is being sung. But then comes the most beautiful part of the song, a Procol Harum AD 1967 like psychedelic interlude before the guitars take over and the song gradually fades.
I uploaded a compilation of the film foorage that my grandfather recorded during his stay in Indonesia (The Dutch East Indies) during the 1930s. It also contains scenes from the Netherlands in 1946, just as the country was freed after 5 years of Nazi regime.
The movie contains the following scenes:
- Arrival in the harbour of Batavia (nowadays Jakarta)
- Arrival and departure of the carrier ‘Johan van Oldenbarnevelt’
- The fish market of Batavia
- An unknown celebration/ festivity
- The launch of the Hr. Ms. Poolster
- Family moments in the 1930s
- The arrival of KLM PH-ARG (a Douglas DC-3) on Batavia Airport
- Post war scenes from the Netherlands, including Utrecht, Amsterdam, Scheveningen
- Scenes from the severe winter of 1946 – 1947
“As a small company in the field of audiovisual production we have been using Apple equipment for over 20 years. Because of the special needs when it comes to raw processor speed we always relied on the fastest of Apple’s machines and so since 2003 on Mac Pro.
In recent years there has been some confusion about the direction that Apple is taking considering their support for their customers that depend on the high end Mac Pro. This confusion became more apparent by the recent EU decision to prohibit Apple to sell the current Mac Pro models in Europe. With the consequence that at the moment there are no high end Mac Pro models available from Apple in Europe.
When it comes to the mass markets of smartphone and tablet sales it is fully understandable that a company is very secretive about their future plans in regard to product development. Even when it comes to software development such an approach is understandable.
When it comes to the high end computing market I think Apple could show more transparency considering their future plans on high end computing. I’m convinced Apple is dealing in this segment with a very loyal customer base that is all about continuity of their businesses and need to make plans on investments and replacements of equipment.
From that perspective I would like to see that Apple could present its customer base more insight to the future developments regarding the Mac Pro.”
Lately there have been rumours going around about a new product being prepared in the secret labs of Apple’s headquarter. This product has been dubbed as ‘iWatch’ on numerous rumor sites. Until recently these articles would go accompanied with mock ups of a rather conventional: a wrist band with on top a sort of mini iPhone-like screen.
Until a few days ago it became clear that Apple probably had more advanced plans and had patented a technology in 2011 that would contain a continuous display experience on such a device.
That would of course open up a whole new range of possibilities that wouldn’t need to be restricted to a watch but could be applied to all kinds of devices, like jewelry and cards. How would that for example work if a company released its own ‘iBracelet’ ?
I stumbled on this video from 3M that gives some indication how a device with a continious display could be used.
I think the video is a bit restricted to the current paradigm that such a device should give you a stream of applications and serve as an alternative input device for your smartphone or tablet. Of course that could be a way of application, but the possibilities could go far beyond that. First of all a device with a continuous display screen would not necessarily be restricted to a wrist band, but it could take any shape: for example a bracelet or a credit card like format (or any of the other examples presented in the video).
You could have a possible application to use such a device solely as a way of fashion accesory where a certain pattern could be applied to the surface, for example emulating a golden brace or tiger print with in the middle the display of a clock.
Another way of applying functionality to such a device would be to display on the device information that could be used to grant access to objects like buildings or sites. The device could in such a case display information that is unique to the person carrying the device.
Of course it could serve the possibilities mentioned above in a combined way, for example beng an accesory in a ‘quiet state’ and become an input device in case where the device is being activated by its owner.
Today I learned that Korg is going to re-release its MS-20 monophonic synthesizer. Actually the MS-20 was my first synthesizer and a fine one it was! Always regretted selling it, but now there is second chance of obtaining it. Hopefully it sounds as good as the original. Contrary to the late 70s -early 80s model it will come with mini-keys (like on the Mini-Korg), USB midi and smaller 1/8″ patch connections.
To let you hear some of its capabilities I uploaded on Soundcloud the track ‘Space Intro’ that actually is the opening track on the new album ‘The Adolescent Years’. It was recorded around 1982/ 1983 and consists of multiple recordings of the MS-20 resulting in an experimental and minimal music track.
Been quiet on this website for some time, mainly because I have been preparing an album full with new music. Later more on that.
Recently I also have been uploading some new stuff to my Soundcloud account:
My first experiment with the Arturia Minibrute which I hooked up to my Doepfer Dark Energy through CV. I used the Minibrute arpeggiator to create the rhythm in the bassline and the lead part. The chords you hear come from TX802 and the drums are from NI Abbey Road 70s drums.
Always loved this piece from Ravel and since long had plans to transcend it into a more modern synthesizer arrangement. Until recently I only knew the orchestral version but recently heard the piano version played by Richter. I liked the relative simplicity of the piano actiually better than the more complex orchestral arrangement. I recorded all the sounds with U-he’s Zebra synthesizer.
Of course there is a lot of to do concerning the release of the new iPhone 5. The opinions seem to range from a moderate enthousiasm with the regular press to more critical notes among visitors of forums like MacRumors.
It is clear that the days of Apple introducing a revolutionairy smartphone seems to lay behind us. Has this to do with the fact that Apple is missing the lack of the sheer geniosity of Steve Jobs? I’m not sure about that.
From a perspective of design I have doubts that some design characteristics would have seen the day of light. Especially the assymetric positioning of headphone jacket, speaker, lightning connector and mic on the bottom side strikes me as odd. On the other hand we should not forget that the iPhone 4 and 4s were received with initial skepticism, but turned out to be terrific success stories for Apple. Looking at the rise of Apple shares since the introduction of the iPhone 5, the market has no doubt that the iPhone 5 will create another sucess story for Apple. And within the reign of Steve Jobs products were not altered al too radically for a number of years and iPhone has matured and now is part of the ‘regular’ Apple product range. For example iMac had intially radical design changes, but the current form factor was introduced in 2006.
On the hardware side the iPhone 5 has reached a new peak in form and functionality and for the time being, the phone will undoubtfully succesfully take up the challenge with rivals like the Samsung S3 and Nokia Lumia with Windows 8.
The most revolutionairy developments concerning the iPhone 5 will take place on the software front. The WWDC 2012 already gave us a sneak peak about what to expect in the new iOS 6. Personally I can’t wait for a new Maps app with turn by turn navigation, although this might take time to become availiable for the international market. Although I am not sure in what direction smartphones will develop, I’m convinced that a smartphone that will be able to translate voice into text will be the next ‘game changer’. Suppose you could talk to Whatsapp and your text lines would be perfectly converted from voice into text…
Yesterday I learned of the passing of one of those true heroes of space exploration, Neil Armstrong. Witnessing the Apollo moon exploration program in the late 60s and early 70s surely was one of the most exciting things that could happen to you as a little boy.
In 2007 I recorded a song about that special time, commemorating all these brave men like Neil Armstrong, Edward White, Buzz Aldrin, John Glenn, Walter Schirra and their stunning achievements.