An interesting article today – rather a few moons ago (due to my incredible knack for time mismanagement), a band who are apparently actually quite well-known and well-regarded in the metalsphere actually e-mailed me asking for a review of their sophomore album. Let me just say that I was pleasantly surprised to receive this e-mail and that I’ll be happy to do any further reviews by request like this – time permitting, of course. I have been very preoccupied with various projects and commitments lately, which I will be sure to post about in the near future.

Vocals and Guitars: Matt Page
Bass: Chris Tackett
Drums: Joey Waters

Website: http://www.dreamtheelectricsleep.com/
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/DTESBAND

I also listened to their earlier work, “Lost and Gone Forever”. They’re a progressive band, for sure – they’re a group with points to make and stories to tell, and they do so through the medium of thought-provoking, lovingly and elaborately constructed music. There’s a great deal of emotion on display at every turn, every chord carrying the appropriate weight to it, major or minor (and these two opposites are utilised excellently in the compositions themselves), and singer Matt Page’s voice complimenting the music brilliantly. If you’d like to take a look at a review for that you can find one here – a seemingly well-received release – it was named Album of the Year 2011 by this blogger!

The band has published a guide to today’s album, their second release, on their website. To summate its artistic purpose, it draws inspiration from the ideals of women over the ages who have sought to improve the world, in spite of adversities or social stigmas. This is cemented by the album’s cover artwork:

History buffs will notice that all these women are signficant – Virginia Woolf, Faith Wilding, Emily Dickinson, Faith Ringgold, Dame Ethel Mary Smith, Helga Birgitta, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, and Christine de Pisan.

The album, having 11 songs, but boasting a running time of 73 minutes – is divided into five segments, which make up two songs each, apart from the final segment which makes up three. “Heresies”, “Introductions”, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, “Cornered”, and “Waiting”. The lyrical themes across the tracks, backed by the instrumentation, seem to start off jolly and upbeat, but soon progress into despondency and despair, before becoming strong and empowering again by the time the album is over.

It’s an album that doesn’t pull any punches, and is a pretty epic journey of heart and mind. Let’s venture forth then.

1. Heretics (4:50)

The album begins by thrusting us unyieldingly into the powerful guitar-driven title track, with some pounding drums from Joey, which are undoubtedly the driving force behind this song’s raw power, even though the guitar line is also nicely varied and is kept melodically interesting, and not to mention backed up by some subtle orchestral strings. A nice high-power harmony comes in on the guitar just before the 2:00 mark, which then leads us into a pleasant acoustic section. Halfway through the track we get introduced to Matt Page’s vocals. Here they’re distorted and pushed into the back of the mix, which I have to say I’m personally not a huge fan of, as it doesn’t quite call him to the forefront or hit you full-on in the face with his vocal power – which you will soon discover on listening to the rest of this album is a very real thing. Perhaps they’re teasing us in a way.

A heavy start – this track is deliberately jarring and schizophrenic, as it can’t seem to make its mind up whether to be minor or major. It closes with a demonic-sounding chord which eventually fades serenely into the next:

2. Elizabeth (8:22)

This is the second “part” of the first track which is together called “Heresies” – the use of a shuffled beat at the same tempo as before, but things build up much more gradually this time, with a simple strummy acoustic intro that makes the song sound somewhat like an Irish jig. It actually really helps to establish the theme and setting of this entire album.

Matt comes in almost immediately with some delay-heavy harmonized vocals, which here sound much clearer, and demonstrate his clean, melodic tones much better. His performance here reminds me of Karnivool’s Ian Kenny on their “Sound Awake” album, in a very cool way. He sings of a woman living in the early 20th century at the beginning of the Suffragette movement, striving to make the world a better place for herself, her daughter and other women like her.

The chords used here are pleasant and catchy, like it was written with a folk dance in mind, though it stays hard and rocky in the latter parts of the song. The chorus is a soaring wave of sound from all sides as the musicians seem to be pouring as much as they can into it already. The drumming is kept solid and varied throughout – damn, Joey has some power in those arms. About 4½ minutes in we get some cool layered vocals, after which the latter half of this track is purely instrumental, and the vocals lead us with a cool drum roll into a lengthy guitar solo. Some very cool musicianship on show here (including a reprise of that very first riff in Heretics, a very well-placed callback), with a creepily ambient and slightly orchestral minute-long outro which fades into silence and brings us into the next “part” of the album: “Introduction”.

3. Utopic (6:38)

This song is perhaps the highlight of the album for me, but we’ll see as we continue through the tracks – there’s a lot of great and admirable stuff still to come.

We start this number with a mellow acoustic intro in D minor – undoubtedly one of the coolest keys for melodic metal music. The guitar work here is pretty stellar, with cleverly-arranged 16th notes all combining into an excellent and persistently interesting melody. The song progresses into a sombre-sounding yet major chorus, and this is where Matt Page first really shines. His harmonies throughout that wonderful chorus are spot-on as always, but he demonstrates a much higher vocal range this time around come the latter half of the song, turning his falsettos into powerful belts.

The song finally explodes into a soaring final verse, which uses a simple but appropriate duo of chords, while Matt repeats the word “utopic” in what might be a vague callback to Dream Theater’s “Forsaken” (probably not, the similarity is kind of uncanny, I think). We get treated to an interesting screeching solo in which the drums pick up a great deal of speed. The outro repeats those same two chords with many overlaid guitars in a chaotic climax of music and rockin’ noise working together in equal harmony.

4. To Love is to Leave (8:01)

We open with a sad and slow almost lullaby-like acoustic guitar line. Matt sings in a soft but powerful tone, before his vocals again swell into another big harmonic chorus.

We get an extensive solo on Matt’s guitar, followed by a pleasant guitar melody interspersed with further powerful hits from Joey’s drums.

Matt then employs some strange distorted wailing during the ensuing breakdown, which is rather unlike anything I’ve heard a vocalist do. It is in equal parts joy and despair, power and weakness, melody and discord.

The music fades out with still a minute to go, so we get treated to another cool atmospheric outro of subtle guitar effects and feedback overlaid by what sounds sort of like a downpour of rain and wind chimes.

5. The Name You Fear (6:09)

This track opens with a cool bassline in A minor courtesy of Chris. The verse we enter could barely be simpler, musically speaking, but it works surprisingly well, especially thanks to the powerful on-beat drumming from Joey, which by this point seems effortless.

Halfway through, there are some cool rhythmic change-ups which lead into the song changing from 4/4 to 3/4. The middle section is a series of sombre but immensely satisfying harmonized vocals from Matt, and it leads us into an equally powerful guitar solo and back again. The outro is an ostinato played on Matt’s guitar, with Chris’s underpinning bass keeping things moving and interesting. Quite an explosive song and another serious highlight for me.

6. It Must Taste Good (8:31)

We’re greeted by a peculiar intro that sounds more like a retro arcade machine, like a game of Galaxia or something, than an actual guitar, though the latter becomes more obvious as the music mounts. A powerful bassline in E minor sets us off, marching steadily into a heavier verse.

Matt’s voice has a surprising amount of grit this time around. He alternates between this tone and the softer head-voice register for his pleasant harmonized vocals again, all in just the right spots to keep the music’s dynamics nicely mixed up.

The song remains heavy and hard-hitting all throughout until about 6½ minutes in, when things settle down a bit. Joey’s drumming throughout this part, with the plodding four-on-the-floor kick, is pretty damned cool, and Matt’s various guitars provide a decent atmospheric backing to this as it fades out into a soft A major chord. We get one final flourish from Matt’s lead guitar played completely solo, before the next track starts.

7. I Know What You Are (6:42)

An incredible track right here, another in my highlight reel. We start with another acoustic intro in D minor, multi-layered this time. After that, there’s quite an explosive interlude, but after that it paces itself very slowly, and only gets going again about 4½ minutes in.

Over the top of some extremely minimalist guitar work (though pay attention, there’s a repeated melody in here that will haunt you later on), Matt begins singing in a shaky falsetto, gradually intensifying back into a harmonic belt.

After this intermission of relative calm and quiet, the guitars suddenly come screaming back in a looong multi-layered outro, where a series of clever chords are repeated by Matt’s guitar and Chris’s bass, with Joey’s steady-but-heavy drums serving as a very strong underpinning. Very Muse indeed. That one melody returns at this point, and there’s just something about that wailing guitar tone that gives my ears the shivers.

The spoken phrase “it is not art, it’s pornography” segues into next track. Given the concept of the album, it seems a fitting quote, although I don’t know whom it is attributed to.

8. Fist to Face (4:15)

Things get less complicated now, with the tempo picking back up but the key staying minor.

I’ve gotta say I love all the melodies in this one, especially in that heavy chorus. The drums are kept relatively simple to call attention to what’s going on with the guitar and bass. Some seriously heavy drumming does kicks in at about 2½ minutes in, but that really only seems to help the whole band come together.

The song opts for a very simple chord progression to lead things out, overlaid by some cool “whoa”s from Matt. A single E chord fade out crossfades us cleanly into the next track.

9. Lost Our Faith (2:05)

A short and simple track to break up the rampant emotional chaos that’s been thrown at us for the last 49 minutes. Two guitars play concurrently (along with what sound to be some pizzicato strings in the background) while Matt sings over the top of them. The song seems to be structured like some sort of folk song, in its clever and memorable use of chords and the vocal melody.

About halfway, Matt returns to more emotional note belting combined with some interspersed falsetto, and the drums kick in rather unexpectedly. This is a very short track, so immediately after the drums are done, we’re greeted with the intro to the next track.

10. How Long We Wait (9:28)

The longest track on the album, and the band waste no time in making as much good out of those 9½ minutes as humanly possible. Great intro, guys. Some very cool-sounding drums kick in almost instantly, along with the guitars and bass playing off each other perfectly. Another mega-cool highlight.

This is the fastest track on the album by a long shot, and perhaps the most musically diverse – the melodies from Matt’s voice twist and turn expertly, gracefully dipping and diving into low and high, while the bass line keeps things switching between major and minor at a constant rate.

A gradual dynamic change-up occurs about 3 minutes in, and we get a purely instrumental section of cool solos with nice bass and keyboard accompaniment. This gradually builds over several minutes, during which there’s a very subtle tempo change which you might even miss out on on the first listen. Matt’s voice returns promptly again to quieten things down, only to have them pick up again immediately after as the thumping kick drums brings the percussion crashing back in.

Boy oh boy are the next few minutes something. The chords explode in as Joey hammers his drums with all his might, and the guitar and bass return with flying colors. And HOLY SHIT THAT G#5. Wowzers, Matt.

As if all that weren’t awesome enough, there’s a very cool orchestral section towards the end with some almost celebratory french horns playing the chords from “Lost Our Faith” over strings and guitar feedback in a climactic wall of sound. This track has to be the most epic in scale on the album.

11. Ashes Fall (8:07)

But wait, there’s more!

By far this song has the heaviest intro on the album. A very cool B minor phrygian riff which returns at a couple of points in the song and gives the whole thing a distinctly evil tone. The chorus is soaring and powerful and features exciting, unexpected chords.

There’s an awful lot going on, vocally. Matt’s voice seems to cover almost every register known to man in this song, and two strange filtered voices overlay the instrumental middle section, both speakers coming through, er, both speakers. A rather chilling  guitar line plays over the top of these. Then Matt fills in for them, imparting what I assume is more or less the same message except in one of his more haunting sung registers. With another powerful wail, he brings the guitars crashing back in, in a dazzling solo section interspersed with some expert fills from Joey’s drums.

The creepy voices return in the outro, leading us out of the album with mourn-filled talk of “waiting”. I assume the female of them is Faith Wilding in her 1972 speech “Waiting”. An interesting choice of thing to close the album with, seeing as it ends right there and then.

With all that said, let’s sum things up.

The album takes pride in pacing itself and using the chords to their fullest potential, never straying too far into uber-prog territory, but remaining interesting and diverse all the same. The melodies are constructed carefully and placed precisely, and the dynamics are given a good deal of thought too – there are certainly heavy moments, but they’re not overblown and in your face like a lot of deadly progressive metal bands. I would almost not call Dream The Electric Sleep a progressive band, if it weren’t for some of the more involved elements of their songwriting which include the tempo and meter changes, occasionally odd song structures, long instrumental sections and solos, and extensive use of an overarching concept.

The production is pretty damn good, although I do feel as though Matt’s singing could be shinier, as he definitely is a seriously good singer. I detected not a note out of place or inappropriately sung, he’s got the chops on all the right registers, he just isn’t done justice because his own guitar seems to occasionally drown him out. It’s not within my nature as a lover of music to go into a huge whining spree about how imperfect the mix of a metal album is, so I’ll chalk it up as only a minor concern.

This is overall a pretty damn solid album. I never found myself bored, unlike my experience with Affector, nor did I feel the songs were unnecessary filler as I did for a couple of the Adrenaline Mob songs.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Certainly worth a look!

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Just dropping in real quick here to let you guys know that while I’m a bit late, I have delivered what I promised! (I uploaded this video at Christmas time last year.)

I’m working on making things on my end a bit more organized. The MIDIs and Albums pages have been updated greatly with new content.

And for those interested, I’ve added some more links to my Videos page. I’ve been busy this last year, that’s for sure!

The biggest thing of note, however, is the fact that a lot of my stuff is now featured exclusively on BandCamp. My finest (in my humble opinion) works are now bundled neatly into downloadable albums for affordable prices on the website. Now you can more easily add the tunes to your music library, listen on the go if you add them to your mobile device of choice, and I fully allow burning them to CD for personal use (and personal use only), i.e. listening in your kitchen or car or whatever.

More albums are to come, including the third Back to Saturn X album, the music for The Adventures of Square, and hopefully my most ambitious musical venture yet, the soundtrack to the work-in-progress Doom megaproject Supplice. However, most notably, there is now a “Best Of” collection that features 32 of what I consider to be my best ever works from 2008 to last year.

BEST OF 2

Click that graphic of my face right there to go straight to it on my BandCamp page. Check it out!

Also, I promise I’m going to make a big post here at some point about my 2014. May be a while though. It was eventful, I can say that much. :P

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Holy crap I’m alive and what is this.

Yep, after just over a year of solid labor, an official release of my ZDoom magnum opus has finally seen the light of day.

This thing has already been described as “a total conversion but more” and I’m inclined to see it as its own independent game. Absolutely no assets from the original Doom game are present here, apart from the game engine itself, and even that is modified greatly by the ZDoom port. It is officially now a throwback to the original Doom, rather than simply being a mod designed for it.

Anyway, enough ego-jerking, here’s the release post from Doomworld!

SQUARE

The brilliant Doctor Octagon has been kidnapped! Square must find him, and rescue him from the clutches of the Circle of Evil, a mysterious cult hellbent on the domination of Shape Land. He will square off against terrible monsters and impossible traps in order to prove that he’s no square when it comes to justice. Guide him to the center of the Circle’s domain, unravel their malicious plot, and win the day fair and square.

The Adventures of Square™ is a wacky and wonderful total conversion for the DOOM engine by Bigbrik Games: a new company of level designers, programers, musicians and procrastinators whose impetuous charge is to make things blow up in fun and interesting ways! Lead by James Paddock from 2011, the project began as an ambitious, one-man attempt to bring to life a hidden world of paint, puns and shapism, but soon grew to become the flagship title of a small and dedicated team, including community veterans Xaser, Alfonzo, MTrop, Pavera and Tarnsman. While the first episode is a complete and paid-for experience, it’s only a small taster of the crazy delights we have in store for later – so stay tuned!

Square makes extensive use of ZDoom’s advanced features in the UDMF format, with a unified approach to its level design, art direction and gameplay. Players can expect to find all the best elements of DOOM’s fast and frenetic pace unencumbered by a sharp focus on fun, shapely layouts and free-flowing combat, and with a variety of new and familiar mechanics that build upon this brand of play. The game is made with speedrunning and multiplayer in mind, and features exclusive deathmatch (Square-Off!) maps in which to blast your buddies. It’s the whole shebang, I tell ya!

The Squareware™ features the first episode of the game, Cornered By Circles: Radial Dawn, including:

  • 9 fully playable levels, fresh out of Shape Land.
  • 16 tracks from The Adventures of Square OST, courtesy of the musical minds of Jimmy, Xaser, Alfonzo and jmickle.
  • All-new textures and artwork.
  • All-new sounds and voice acting.
  • 4 exclusive deathmatch maps.
  • Arcade style Time Attack! Mode for single-player support in deathmatch levels.
  • Support for Xbox controllers.
  • Partial support for Mac users.
  • Really, really awful puns. I mean Jesus.

Be There And Be Square!


 

Also we have a website! Watch that page for all changes.

http://adventuresofsquare.com/

Here are the release threads:

Doomworld

ZDoom

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It’s been a long time coming, but here it is. Me and my brother wrote an EP. We wrote melodies, lyrics, then sang and played to create the songs, and then the music was arranged and mixed and mastered to the best of our collective abilities. We present to you the final product of our labours:

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The Rainbow Season EP.

Head over to iTunes now to listen to and download the EP!

Track listing:

  1. Control (4:39)
  2. In My Box (4:56)
  3. Breakthrough (4:54)
  4. Judgement Day (6:06)

Rainbow Season are an electronic music duo originally from Surrey, England, now living in Perth, Western Australia, consisting of brothers James Paddock (writing, composition, backing vocals and mixing) and Ben Paddock (additional writing, lead vocals).

Their style is perhaps unsual, merging the facets of rock, particularly of the alternative and progressive varieties, into upbeat electronic pop numbers. They perform with a range of vocal styles, from quiet to harsh. Their music aims to provoke thought on touchy or controversial subjects such as self-aggrandizement, social introversy, self-humiliation in the pursuit of internet fame, and the prediction of doomsday.

Composition-wise, the songs aim to have a wide spread of sounds, mainly electronic, but not discounting acoustic – as well as complex arrangements, keeping the songs varied with strong instrumental solos, frequent (but non-jarring) key changes, and instrumentation change-ups to allow for maximum dynamic and timbral variation. Most importantly, however, the songs are written with pop-like catchiness and memorability in mind, with the songs being highly melody-driven, the instrumental sections having as much musical diversity as possible, and the sung sections having infectious vocal hooks and powerful rhythms to make sure the songs can be sung along to, and also danced to.

James and Ben Paddock grew up in Addlestone, Surrey, England, before moving to Norfolk for their higher education and finally to Wanneroo, Western Australia, to pursue their interests and careers. Both are virtually completely self-taught in everything they’ve put together on this album, aside from James who has recently started vocal tuition, and for future Rainbow Season pursuits will be taking a more upfront approach to performing and recording his vocals.

With the release of their debut self-titled EP, they sincerely hope you’ll enjoy their take on what music is really all about.

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Rainbow Season are proud to release a lyric video for the first track off their debut EP – enjoy “Control”! :D

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Ladies and men of the gentle disposition, I can conclusively say that Rainbow Season, the joint musical venture between myself and my brother, are finally ready to unleash their EP to the world. The tracks have been mixed to the best of my ability, mastered, and uploaded to CDBaby – and the EP will be available for purchase on CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon on January 12th, 2014!

Recently the brilliant Thomas van der Velden created a new piece of artwork for the EP’s cover. He loves his giant robots. Here’s what he had to say about deciding to do it this way:

So basically it’s a giant robot walking around in a rainbow-like landscape.
I could tell you a philosophical story about how the giant robot symbolises your musical creations, which allow you to step into the colorful world of music. The robot (your music) allows you to rise above the normal world, but only works with both pilots (musicians) present.
… but really I just wanted to draw a giant robot :)

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Screw symbolism! GIANT ROBOTS.

Ben and I sincerely hope you enjoy the music as soon as it’s available. We will uploading further promotional videos in the near future, which will hopefully include a teaser trailer of all four tracks, and at least one lyric video. Until then, here is an exclusive preview of the first track off the Rainbow Season EP – Control.

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Season’s greetings to all our friends, family and followers! We (myself and Ben) have a very special announcement. :O

We hope you had a splendid Christmas and wish you a great 2014 to follow! Here’s a VERY SPECIAL MESSAGE concerning the EP.

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I so want a peanut butter sandwich right now.

It’s 2:30am.

Get in my belly, you saucy bitch.

Right now, though, I cannot.

As of about three weeks ago, I am now on the “5-2″ fast diet, and today is one of my fasting days.

Yes, I am finally doing something about my weight. I have always, and I mean always, preferred staying chunky and felt no need to correct my figure because I’m happy with how I am. That’s still kind of true in a way, in the sense that being a little bit overweight is not a horrid idea to me, but I think I’ve overstepped the boundary. I don’t feel young and spry and full of energy anymore. I don’t feel healthy. I get back pains, neck cramps, headaches, shortness of breath and am in a virtually perpetual state of tiredness. I put this down to 22 years of bodily neglect, i.e. eating what the hell I want when the hell I want, having a largely inactive lifestyle, and saying “bugger you, good sir” to exercise.

But now I think I’m about to make a change. Recently, a couple of my parents’ friends discovered the magic of this ingenuitive new “dieting” regime whereby the dieter eats what exactly they want… for five days of the week, and on two designated “fasting” days, eating virtually nothing. For men, the recommended max is 600 calories, and for women it’s 500. Those values are, to my estimate, about two peanut butter sandwiches and a couple of cups of tea. Not very much at all.

Still, my parents have been enduring adhering to the diet for a while now, maybe a year, and the weight loss has been rather amazing. Imagine a large watermelon. No, even larger. Like, quite large, like the ones you get in supermarkets. Now imagine two of those together. That’s how much weight just my dad has lost in that time.

He should probably stop stuffing them up his shirt pretending to be a woman before he hops on the scales.

For me, it’s been hard. The cravings are hard to control (I have a pretty bad sweet tooth), and drinking mineral water just isn’t the same as say fruit juice or a refreshing glass of milk. But I’m doing my darnedest to restrict my calorie intake (boy oh boy do you hear those words a lot from the people who back this diet) to make the weight loss as quick as possible. I’m actually trying my hand at three fasting days per week instead of two, because I want to see a difference fairly quickly. I tried just two days, as the diet recommends, but it didn’t feel like I was making enough of an impact on my weight, and that I was given too much free time to just pig out and give in to my cravings, even though I was, for all intents and purposes, allowed to. My fasting days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so I still get to partake of the family roast dinners on Sundays (which I’m getting better at preparing myself). They’re also spaced out evenly so that I’m never more than 24 hours away from eating what I want. A lot of this diet is purely psychological. The promise of all the food I could want to consume the following day is what keeps me going.

On my fast days, I’m not allowed juice drinks, sugary snacks, or a huge amount of meat. I usually have a bit of cereal and tea at breakfast to start the day, then it’s essentially an all-day fast until dinner time, with perhaps one apple at around lunch time just to stave the pangs. I’m getting used to eating salads. They’re not that bad. Throw some bits of chopped apple and some Greek yoghurt in there and they go down a treat. Yum.

I can still drink tea, which is excellent. I’m using a sugar substitute which is more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, and I’m slowly starting to wean myself off of that, too, although one teaspoonful of it is like 2 or 3 calories, so the difference I’ll make doing that is perhaps negligible. The tea over here in Strayaland doesn’t seem quite as bitter as the UK varieties when unsugared – not too sure what that’s down to – but I am finding it easier to stomach tea that isn’t crammed with sugar.

The problem I’ve found is that hunger really feels uncomfortable and is sometimes kind of distressing. Well, I mean, it’s never to the point where I’m hallucinating or thinking I’m about to die – at least, so far – but not eating when my body wants me to really throws me off. I can’t stop thinking about the things I’d like to be nibbling on right at that moment. A bit of raisin toast. Some chocolate chip cookies. A glass of apple juice – to wash both of those down. Stop it. Bad brain.

Apparently it’s when you feel hungry that the body starts to burn fat, turning the excess calories stored in your fat reserves into energy to run the body. My only question is – why does the body have to demand more food as it’s burning fat. I feel that it’s the most counter-intuitive and counter-productive design choice by evolution ever not to have the sensation of the body starving as though a famine had struck and the simple process of the body employing its backup energy reserves to be completely separate. It’s kind of like having a car that wails at you with an annoying siren on the dashboard the moment the needle on the fuel gauge rises a nanometer or two above the F. Seriously, body. You done gone F’d up there.

I’ve been measuring my weight daily with the Wii Fit program, just to track my progress – and it’s annoying for three reasons.

1. The little Wii Balance Board character is a little shit. He’s so damn chipper and optimistic, and loves to throw in random comments about how much thinner and healthier I’m looking (all in his weedy high-pitched voice), when he’s clearly an unfeeling computerized being with absolutely no humanity to speak of. My weighing scales should not talk to me – that’s some Futurama shit right there. Joke’s on him, though – he doesn’t know how the seasons change between the planet’s hemispheres. (He knows we’re in Australia because he measures us all in kilograms, but somehow he fails to realize that we are not suffering from “gloomy winter skies”. I am sat in my pants right now at well after midnight as I write this blog post – sweltering in the stuffy heat.) He was also designed to be stepped on. So ha ha.

Hope you enjoyed the foot stank, then.

Hope you enjoyed the foot stank, then, you perfidious piece of plastic.

2. My weight apparently fluctuates like a kangaroo doing the worm on a trampoline. Sometimes I gain weight after my fast days, and lose weight after my feast days. It make-a no sense. And I really can’t figure out what I’m doing right or wrong. Metabolism, y u do dis.

3. I have to do it first thing in the morning. Did I ever mention on this blog that I am the least morning person ever?

All in all, however, I’d say it’s going well. Nothing’s gone terribly wrong as of yet, apart from the days I have every so often on which I gain close to an entire kilogram in weight, and feel a bit shitty with myself, and I can tell (just through numbers, rather than through my actual figure, so far, anyway) that I am losing fat very gradually. Would be nice to be able to speed up the process a bit more, but there’s perhaps a problem with that, in that doing a “4-3 diet” is perhaps overkill and would be demotivating as hell, and then there’s the obvious issue of when I cave into the temptation to gorge myself on my feast days, I’m not going to be able to make up for the resulting net loss (or net gain, if you want to put it like that) with the following fast day, slowing the pound-shedding process down even more. I’m trying my best to conserve my intake on my feast days, but I do find myself guzzling a glass of juice or two to wash down my regular meals. And my fast days can be problematic when the cravings strike. (I can sleep them off, but then of course I wake up on a feast day and ironically don’t feel like eating anything. Stomach, are you high.)

I’m excited to get past this mindset of needing to consume. I might soon get used to eating this little, or even start being brave and having absolutely nothing all day – biologically, there’s no harm in doing so, and the body isn’t exactly starving, even though that’s what it might feel like (again, thanks, human digestive system) – it’s simply running off its reserves. I’ll be trying to stretch myself a bit further every now and then, and try to blot out the hunger pains. And the unpleasant growls that my stomach emitted literally as I was typing that.

If you’d like to learn more than my hopeless stream-of-consciousness ramblings can impart, the book you’ll want to read is Michael Moseley and Mimi Spencer’s The Fast Diet. Experienced dieticians collaborated to confirm the science behind this diet. I have the evidence that it really does work – in all its glorious simplicity – in what it did for my parents. Maybe it’ll work for you?

Note: It kind of helps to keep the cravings at bay if you don’t write a 1600-word blog post mentioning peanut butter sandwiches while simultaneously craving peanut butter sandwiches.

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M_DOOM_20

The best computer game of all time turned two decades old today.

Yep. The big two oh.

Doom is still played and modded by a large, still-thriving community, and it is still as fun as it was when it was uploaded to the university of Wisconsin’s FTP server and distributed worldwide. It’s still my favorite game ever.

Thank you so much, John Romero, John Carmack, Adrian Carmack, Dave Taylor, Tim Willits, Kevin Cloud, Sandy Petersen, American McGee, Shawn Green, Jay Wilbur, Paul Radek, Robert Prince, Mike Abrash, and Gregor Punchatz of id Software for creating the greatest game ever released.

Fellow Doomers, let’s celebrate! :D Here’s to at least another 10 steady years of Dooming.

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In an effort to keep myself busy, I recently signed up to audition for two separate local projects, hoping to be accepted for either or both.

The title of this post may well give away the outcome of those decisions, but let me tell you about how each one went. Things are made doubly interesting by the fact that the auditions happened within the same weekend, so I was in fact kept busy to say the least.

A friend of mine had recently posted on Facebook about the Western Australian Charity Orchestra. They were looking for applicants, and spots were open for pianists like myself. I signed up, and about a month and a half was spent after that point learning two pieces to perform at the audition. It was a bit nerve-wracking for a while, but towards the end I managed to get confident in my playing ability for the two pieces. I picked some fairly difficult pieces just to test myself a little bit moreso than usual – a piece of my own entitled “Midwinter”, difficult due to the fact that it was quite a complex quaver-based melody in 7/4 time, and the main chords to Dream Theater’s “Octavarium” (which are played on a piano as well as guitar about five minutes in), a rather crazy and unpredictable chord progression.

Simultaneously, I had another thing going on – a local girl, Holly Denton, had posted an ad on Gumtree saying that she was looking for new band members. My dad had pointed me to her ad, and it seemed an awfully good gig – she and her old band had just performed at Telethon 2013 and the video they’d posted of the performance was damn good. With the promise of being part of a talented young lady’s musical troop, learning new songs, meeting new people, and perhaps even earning a little money from the experience, it didn’t take me very long to decide that this was an opportunity to jump right on. I learnt about half of her setlist as best I could, then once I phoned her she informed me I only had to learn two songs – Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and one of her own songs, “With You Goes” (the first one performed in the video). With that clarified, I did my darnedest to learn those two songs as well, although most of my time up to the eventful weekend was spent rehearsing my two pieces for the orchestra first of all, since that audition was to take place on the Saturday, and my audition at Holly’s was to be on the Sunday immediately after.

The following weekend was pretty frantic. It of course started with the audition for the orchestra, was a fairly short drive to the college at which the auditions were being held. I was directed to a rehearsal room which had… erm, everybody else who was auditioning in it. Apparently it was the only room they had? Needless to say, with a bunch of brassists, percussionists and woodwindists all rehearsing different pieces in the same room, now with a pianist (as in me – I was apparently the only one there) it was quite the cacophony. I got onto the piano and started rehearsing, doing my best to concentrate, and thinking I’d only need to go over the songs a few times before I got called.

I was kept waiting for about an hour. I got pretty sick of those pieces after the dozenth time of going over them both the whole way through. I was, if anything, overrehearsed by that point – I was ready to make absolutely no mistakes.

A woman came into the rehearsal room to apologize for the inconvenience – apparently there’d been a balls-up regarding the availability of the performance hall the auditions were to take place in – it had already been booked out and no auditions could be held for an hour, hence why they were so behind schedule. But I was eventually called out. When I got into the hall, I felt more than ready. I was told to remain silent for the judges, and that was no problem as I naturally just clam up and let my music do the talking anyway. The judges were behind a panel, remaining invisible and anonymous to me, as I was to them, so I didn’t feel impaired by nerves at all. I got down at the piano aaaand… hang on, it’s shut. Can I lift this lid? Nnngh, bit heavy. Am I out of shape or is it… hnnngh… no. It’s locked. Umm, I know I’m not allowed to speak, but… can someone please get the key for this piano?

I had to wait another few minutes while someone retrieved the key and unlocked the piano for me, during which time a few more people went in to have their auditions, and all I could do was sit on a chair just outside and try not to make the conversation with the guy standing beside the door too awkward. I believe it was there that I was told that because they were so far behind schedule, I was only allotted a few seconds to play my pieces.

Unfortunately, the wait and the uncertainty of the whole situation had thrown off my groove – I sat down at the piano, fumbling hopelessly with my sheet music, and unable to call upon the routine I’d just spent the last hour or so trying to hammer into my muscle memory. I messed up pretty badly on the Dream Theater piece, which was pretty evident even within the ten second or so window I actually had to play it. They let me go on for a bit longer with my own piece, but since the sheet music for that is mainly all quavers and doesn’t introduce chords until about a minute into the piece, I don’t think it did a particularly tremendous job of showcasing the full extent of my ability with the instrument.

I left the audition and went home feeling vastly underwhelmed, and still rather tense from not having actually gone through with the whole procedure. I’d rehearsed for yonks for that audition and the fact that I hadn’t even performed the entirety of my two pieces left me feeling almightily unfulfilled. I wasn’t going to be too crestfallen if I didn’t get the gig with that orchestra – I didn’t particularly feel like being part of an organization which was so… well, ill-organized.

I didn’t have much time to mope about all that, though – I had another audition the very next day, with Holly.

The drive to her house was very short – 13 minutes at best – and the actual audition took place in her living room. She was mighty friendly and informal – as the whole event felt, really. There wasn’t much waiting at all, and in fact she’d clearly planned a lot of this out in advance very carefully, as we arrived in time for her to let the first set of auditionees go. I admit I made a few mistakes, but hey, at least I got to play the full songs this time around. I also felt I was in a controlled and well-planned working environment – again in contrast to my WACO audition – so while it was a bit embarrassing when I played a bum chord, I didn’t feel like I was wasting valuable time. We played her two songs, talked a bit about ourselves, and that was it, done. It probably took longer to set everything up and pack away than to play the songs. It was fun, though, and she was really nice.

That same day, hours later, I got a text informing me, very politely, that she’d made a decision and that I was unfortunately not selected to be in her band. (The likelihood is she chose a keyboardist who used more than just a rompler, heh.) This actually brought a big smile to my face. What a well-mannered, organized and respectful girl – having the decency to let me know so soon. She’s someone who clearly has the organization and the people skills necessary to hold an audition and treat her entrants with respect.

Inversely, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks on that I got a letter from WACO saying I had… not been selected. I think perhaps only one word went through my mind when I read that – “typical”. I’m pretty certain I was the only pianist who turned up for that audition, so it did come as kind of a surprise that they didn’t want me, though not a terribly disheartening one. Maybe they found it a little hard to judge my playing ability reliably with only a thirty-second sample of my playing that was riddled with mistakes brought on by how badly the event turned out.

So while both auditions ended in me being politely rejected, I feel much better about one rejection than the other. It’s not so bad when the person rejecting you seems like an honest and well-meaning human being who genuinely considers your emotions and addresses you face to face. Less so when it’s a less-than-stellar-organized group of people who reject by written letter a fortnight on.

Genuinely think I’ve learned something from these experiences.

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