Break on Through

I’ve long had a fascination with the idea of windsurfing on the open ocean, but it has always seemed like a distant dream. The added dimension of actually surfing on waves seemed thrilling, but the skills required to be able to even attempt it are fairly advanced and the awesome power of the sea is intimidating. Last year, on a drive up the coast in Santa Cruz county, we came upon Waddell Beach. There were dozens of kiters and windsurfers zipping around in the surf. It looked challenging, but not as extreme as I’d imagined. I made it a goal to get good enough to give it go. This summer, I finally made the dream a reality:


Continue reading “Break on Through”

Windsurfing Revisited

I walk my windsurfing rig down the ramp to the water’s edge, gently lower it into the bay, wade out a bit, fly the sail and let the wind pull me up onto the board. Looking forward, I hook into the harness, let my toes find the footstraps, and find the balance point with the wind. It’s steady and strong today. I’ve only sailed this spot a few times — I probably couldn’t have handled it just a few weeks ago. In a minute I’m in the churning chop of the deeper part of the Bay. The “terrain” is much like moguls on a double diamond ski run — with the added challenge that the “moguls” are moving. I tilt the board’s left side downward a bit with my heels, turning the board upwind, launching off a wave. I’m only in the air for a second but it’s a great feeling. Upon landing, the fin loses traction and starts to slip downwind but I’ve anticipated this and pull my back leg under my body to bring it back in line. I continue carving a path through the swell, using my knees as shock absorbers to keep the board from inadvertently launching. I spot a nice rolling swell ahead. Just as I’m about to reach it, I carve a steep turn to the right, shifting the balance of the sail, oversheeting a bit so that it depowers, and end up on the slope of the swell, facing down it. Briefly, I’m surfing this rolling wave. The shift from wind power to wave power feels like walking on the moon. I carve left again before the wave crosses another swell and power the sail again, skimming across the surface.

Although other windsurfers continue until they disappear as tiny specs in the distance, I decide it’s better to not venture too far across the bay. I look behind me to make sure nobody is following too close, unhook from the harness line, and perform the complicated dance called a carve jibe. In the space of 5 seconds I carve the board downwind, shuffle my feet (briefly looking like I’m trying to pliĆ©), flip the sail around and grab it on the other side, and end up on the opposite tack. This move, which essentially amounts to simply turning around, has taken four months of intense practice (with many spectacular crashes along the way) to get right. It’s still a joy when I complete it, and I still crash half my attempts. I let out a “whoo hoo!” and carve a path toward shore.

In three short weeks the engine that generates the San Francisco Bay wind will shut down for the winter. My friends will see more of me and I’ll start mountain biking again, mainly to stay in shape for the beginning of the next wind season in March. By the beginning of February I’ll be jonesing so much for my next windsurfing fix that I’ll write a blog post just to relive the last one.

Beak

Beak Artist PhotoBeak has achieved that confoundingly difficult feat: originality and catchiness. He’s managed to integrate acoustic guitar with breakbeats and IDM in an ingeniously seamless way.

The first track of Amoral Mayor Earwig EP, how a hot air balloon works, starts out straightforwardly enough. Some quiet acoustic guitar plucks, repeating and slowly adding some more layers of guitar. Sure, there’s some digital delay but mostly it’s just guitar. Some bitcrushing distortion eases into the left speaker just enough to raise an eyebrow, but it keeps with the guitar thing. Oh nice, some drums. Maybe even live. Strange processed guitar in the background, almost voice-like. A single reversed cymbal, very quick. Drum break. Quite distorted. Wait, how did we end up here? By the time the second track, i saw two of me, starts our hot air balloon has caught the jet stream. No turning back now.

Amoral Mayor Earwig EP and Bishop-Whitney EP could be two sides of a single album. I tend to listen to these together. El Hacedor is perhaps a little more mysterious, a little mellower. All three are intriguing and highly enjoyable.

Links

Beak on MySpace (bonus downloadable track, Limozeen)

Amoral Mayor Earwig EP: Stream | archive.org | Monotonik netlabel
Bishop Whitney EP: Stream | archive.org | Monotonik netlabel
El Hacedor: Stream | archive.org | Monotonik netlabel

This is part of a series of netlabel reviews.

Glander: Heavy Weights & Vate

Glander: Heavy WeightsNormally I avoid repetition in music. Usually my iTunes is randomly shuffling from my “Not Recently Played” playlist. Yet I find myself playing these two netlabel albums by Glander multiple times a week. Music that is highly repetitive, with long, sprawling arcs, and four on the floor kick drum. Reading a description of it, I wouldn’t have given it much of a chance. But this is one of my favorite discoveries of the year.

Yuki Yaki’s blurb for Heavy Weights has this fanciful description: The tracks will take you on a dive cruise, each of them has its own little valley and its own moon. So: Take your time. This is exactly how I feel about it. The underwater aspect is suggested by the cover, which looks like a Shogun trilobite, and continues through the tracks with glossy, undulating textures. When this album starts I feel like I’m returning to a space that has continued to exist in my absence.

Glander: VateA couple of months after finding Heavy Weights, Vate (released on the 1 bit wonder netlabel) popped up in the archive.org feed. I literally cheered when I saw that there was more Glander to experience. Vate shows how dialed in to his technique Glander is, without at all being formulaic. The same masterful use of repetition is there but there’s a slightly grittier edge to the textures, and I almost get the sense that the camera has a wider angle lens, as bizarre as that is to say about music. These tracks are funkier, too. For instance, listen to the syncopation in the second track, Hmbrg, or the staccato gurgles in Drift. While Heavy Weights is a deep sea dive, Vate is a swooping flight through an urban landscape.

I’m still trying to understand why Glander’s use of repetition is so satisfying. On closer listening, the repeating textures are actually continually varying in small ways, and the different layers flow in and out of the foreground, creating complex interactions. There’s also a constant, but subtle, change in the surrounding space. Sometimes the textures will echo, and then it’s like they come close to you and have a very focused feel, and then drift outward into a cavernous space. There will be long stretches where you might not have noticed even that there were no drums, and then the kick will return at just the right moment.

Both of these albums, along with the bonus tracks available on Glander’s site, reward close listening as well as zoning out and using as background to working and working out.

Links

Glander (download individual tracks that have been on various compilations)

Heavy Weights: Stream | archive.org | Yuki Yaki
Vate: Stream | archive.org | 1 bit wonder

This is part of a series of netlabel reviews.

Everyday

Miraculously I remembered to turn on the TV Sunday night to catch a new episode of The Simpsons (I get TV for free on this amazing real time wireless technology called “broadcast”). It was a pretty funny episode, not relying on cameos, etc. But then it had one of those transcendent moments, where somehow the creators allow themselves to slip into art, in the guise of parody. Here it is: Homer is apparently falling to his death and his life is flashing before his eyes (apologies if the video is gone: Fox is taking these down fast — you’ll see why this is ironic in a minute).

Homer Everyday

I knew this was a parody of some something but I didn’t know what. Today while eating lunch I was goofing off, clicking on random videos on the YouTube main page and stumbled upon the parody-ee:

This is a timelapse video of this guy’s (Noah Kalina) life, one photo per day for six years. The music was composed for the video by Carly Comando, which, combined with the dedication of doing this for six years, takes the YouTube meme thing to a whole new level. Incidentally, check out Noah’s photography portfolio. Really interesting, surreal use of lighting, often in mundane spaces (which adds to the surrealism).

Speaking of surreal, I wonder what it’s like to have one’s concept immortalized by Homer Simpson.

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928 – 2007)

Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1975A giant in the modern music world passed away last week: Karlheinz Stockhausen. He seemed to appear in every chapter of the modern music books I studied in grad school, such was his influence. I had always thought him a realist and pragmatist, so I was surprised (and touched) a few years ago when our friends Nandini and Thomas gave me a sort of “call to creativity,” attributed to Stockhausen, which was quite spiritual. I then learned he was both a rationalist and a mystic, attributes that seem difficult to reconcile but somehow make sense. Continue reading “Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928 – 2007)”

Finally updated the photo gallery theme

[thumb:77:l:l=g]After years of my photo gallery on this site having a completely different look, I’ve finally integrated it with the theme of this blog (oh-so-cleverly named Nightcappuccino). Thanks to some hard work by Billy Bullock, who ported the k2 theme to Coppermine, it just took a few tweaks to get it to look right. I put just in quotes because it took me most of the afternoon to get it to look right, but that’s no fault of Billy’s. This is just very tweaky work. And sometimes I wonder if I should stop fighting with the trend and move over to flickr. But for now I like having more control over how my photos are presented.

I’m still trying figure out what to do with the main proppe.org page. I have half a mind to just redirect it to this blog page. Or do I just have half a mind?

Now I just need to start shooting again and add some more photos.

Update: Now there’s an RSS feed of the last 10 image uploads.

Podcast #10: Homeosis 1 sketch 01

Hand to Mouth by Nathan S. MoodyRecently Nathan posted a series of photo manipulations called Homeosis. Something about the contrast between ominousness and whimsey hit me in the creative nerve. It struck me that there was music implied in these compositions. They seemed to be a glimpse into, or evidence of, another history. This is a first rough sketch of this soundtrack. It’s a lot more plodding and heavy than I planned, but it starts to suggest the sound scape I’m going for. Click the link at the end of this post to open the slide show in another window. Click the slow button in the lower left and try viewing it while you listen to the music (the slide show will loop around a couple of times).

Homeosis Slideshow

scribbles – simple drawing for Mac, by atebits

scribbles – simple drawing for Mac

Scribbles from atebits.comThis is the way of Indie Mac development. Create a tool that either does something (one thing) new or does something old in a new, easier way. Make it beautiful and fun to use. Take advantage of the APIs Apple provides, like Core Animation. Make a slick web site with a forum, blog, and user-contributed content, put a screen cast showing how cool the app is, provide a demo and charge a reasonable price for the full version. Finally, create a silly, punny company name. Like atebits. Heh.

via tuaw

Julius Lagerfeld – Konterkonzept EP [ID19]

Julius Lagerfeld - Konterkonzept EP CoverKonterkonzept EP by Julius Lagerfeld from the Interdisco netlabel. This is music with an evil grin. The Joker’s henchmen would dance to this. Yes, it’s electronica, but moreso, it is electric.

According to Lagerfeld, “it was created by exclusively using hardware synthesizers to set a counterpoint to the prevailing approaches of laptop and software.” He seems to be onto something. This stuff just crackles with energy from the first few seconds and carries through to the end.

While the requisite minimal techno repetition is there, it exists simply to lull you while subtle surprises slink in and out of auditory view. Lagerfeld knows how to take his time and explore an idea, and then move into territories that at first are unexpected, then seem inevitable. This is true of the structure as well as the sound design.

Note: for some reason archive.org’s stream of this EP is playing back at a slower speed. Preview this one from the mp3 downloads instead.