Retrospective Sound: Osc-Dis by The Mad Capsule Markets

For the second Retrospective Sound article, we’re looking at this seminal Japanese import from 2001.

718omb7oeMLAh, The Mad Capsule Markets – the descriptor is in the name. They are mad in a wonderful, wonderful way. An eclectic mix of punk rock, metal and techno, the band formed in Japan in 1990 but made their way to western shores in 2001 with a re-issue of their 199 album Osc-Dis.

This import can be attributed to the hugely popular single, Pulse, which featured in the video game Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 and had a bonkers 3D animated video which received a healthy rotation on MTV (back when MTV actually played music)

Their mash of genres and mix of both English and Japanese lyrics was probably too far out for many listeners, but their similarity to the burgeoning western “Nu-Metal” genre allowed them to carve a niche in the alternative crowd and Osc-Dis showcases that perfectly.

Starter track Tribe sets the with a hypnotic, sweeping snythasizer giving way to toe tappingly crunchy guitar and drums, providing a perfect blend of dancefloor and moshpit anthems. This is the motif carried through much of the album with tracks like Multiples and Jag adding in stabbing staccato guitars and vocals.

Mixing things up, tracks like Pulse and Good Girl give a pop-punk flavour to the proceedings while All The Time In Sunny Beach and Island have a distinct surf rock style with hardcore punk leanings.

Restart! shows some of the bands more techno leanings blending metal with glow stick waving beats, while Step Into Yourself is a slower, more atmospheric effort – a comedown track. The album ends with Midi Surf, a combination of wet synth loops, crunching metal riffs and a roof raising chorus which ends things on a high.

It’s a shame that The Mad Capsule Markets are on an indefinite hiatus as their creativity and ability to expertly blend genres is something that few bands seem to be able to do. Fans of modern contemporaries such as Enter Shikari would do well to track down Osc-Dis and its follow up 010 for a look at this bands phenomenal and no doubt influential sound.

The 2015 Entertainment Log

Taking inspiration from an idea by director Steven Soderbergh, I’ve decided to try and log my entertainment consumption for the next 12 months. Rather than a straight up list I’ve made a spreadsheet which I’m hosting on Google Drive here, because everyone likes a spreadsheet (right?)

On this I will be logging films watched, books read, videogames played, shows attended and a bunch of other stuff. I like to think it’s pretty self explanatory and I think it’ll be interesting to try and analyse the data in some way this time next year.

The only thing I’m uncertain about is how to log my videogame consumption. Should I put down play sessions, quantifying when I complete a game, or should I only put down game completions. I’m only logging books that I have fully read, not every reading session, so if I apply the former to games should I do the same for books? And if I apply the latter, how do I quantify games like Smash Bros and Mario Kart where there is no real end to the game?

Chime in below if you have any thoughts!

A look to 2015…

At the risk of sounding somewhat melodramatic, 2014 was not the best of years. That’s not to say it was a real stinker, but there was an overwhelming sense of gloom in the media, much of it surrounding areas that I have a strong interest in, coupled with me trying to find my feet in a new job as well as a number of other things bubbling up personally. This led to a sense of ambivalence and lack of achievement which, after a strong 2013 deflated me a bit. I’ve been struggling to write, finding it difficult to put into words my personal and professional achievements. I also feel like I’ve perhaps been spreading myself a bit thin with what I’m trying to achieve, leaping between film, music, writing and work with sometimes senseless abandon and not really driving anything forwards.

So, with that in mind, here are a few bullet points for 2015 that I’m hoping to hit:

  • Write more – I feel like a bit of a broken record as I think I say this every January, but I’m really hoping to keep the writing momentum going this year. That’s not just for posts here, but for my work with ShortOrme Productions, trying to focus on writing some compelling scripts both short and feature length. I also have a number of unfinished short stories that I’d like to see polished off.
  • Talk more – Not being freelance this past year, I feel a bit out of touch with a community that I once enjoyed being a part of. I’ve got a couple of projects that launched in 2014 that I think I’ll be discussing over the next few months which I hope will be of interest to some people, and I also hope to be getting involved in other projects to start energizing my thought processes again.
  • Talk elsewhere – I’ve started doing this. Towards the end of 2014 I had an article published on the Next-Gen Gaming Blog discussing discussing the advancements in cloud computing with relation to video games. I never talked about it here or on Twitter for some reason, but go and have a read. I’m in talks to guest publish on a couple of other sites and I’ll make sure I share those links here.
  • Form wider networks – We’re already doing this at ShortOrme, casting outside of our usual crowd for some of our forthcoming productions, but I want to start exploring other networks for music and professional work.
  • Don’t talk too soon – One of the things that I think I did too much of in 2014 was start to blow the horn on a few projects that never even saw the light of day. We’re still trying to film our short story, Highways and Transportation that’s been in production since 2013, for example. So, this year, I’m not going to talk about anything unless it’s concrete. For film, that’s if the footage has been shot; music, if something’s been recorded; writing, if words are in a document. You get the idea.
  • Plan better – My planning in 2014 led to some missed opportunities and let downs. I’m not going to let that happen this year (to the best of my abilities!) and that should hopefully lead to less stress and headache and allow me to balance everything out.

I think, the overall idea is to make 2015 a compelling and potentially game-changing year. I want to be able to create and contribute to some content that will develop me both personally and professionally. I want to be able to share that and feel proud about it and, most of all, I want to be able to up the ante in a number of different areas.

Let’s revisit this post this time next year and see how well we did! For now, keep your eyes on the site!

Retrospective Sound: Zeitgeist by Smashing Pumpkins

In the first of a regular series of articles, I’m going to be revisiting my record collection and pulling out some albums I’ve not listened to in some time, starting with this much maligned release from 2007.

Zeitgeist

If anyone had asked me in the 90’s what my favourite band was I would not have hesitated with my reply; Smashing Pumpkins. Their double album masterpiece Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness absolutely entranced me and I took it upon myself to collect their back catalogue, including singles (the Pumpkins embraced the concept of the B-side as a way of releasing unused material from their albums meaning collectors absolutely had to get the singles to add those rarities to their playlist). After Mellon Collie, the band started to ebb slightly, with band members coming and going, seemingly at odds with frontman Billy Corgan’s desire to experiment more with their music (the follow up album Adore, a highly experimental electronica infused piece was met with fierce criticism on release but has become a strong favourite of mine over time) led ultimately to the band dissolving in 2000. It seemed definite, the members went their separate ways and formed other projects. The Smashing Pumpkins were gone but they’d left behind a hell of a legacy. So, colour me surprised when Corgan announced in 2005 that he was getting the band back together.

Well, the Smashing Pumpkins that materialised weren’t really the band as they had been. The recording group was made up of Corgan and former drummer Jimmy Chamberlin with guitarist James Iha and bassist D’Arcy Wretzky declining to return. The resulting album, Zeitgeist, released in 2007, clearly demonstrates this fractured band trying to reclaim its roots. It’s an album that generally feels unambitious and lacks both the confidence and the grandiose, sweeping sonic vistas of previous albums. The first half of the album, clearly influenced by early metal such as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, full of crunching, chugging guitars, has a focus on pure guitar and drums with a constant driving rhythm that means many of the tracks tend to feel very similar until the album hist the slower, more thoughtful, Neverlost. It’s a jarring change to suddenly move to more varied material and makes the album feel more like an uneven collection of ideas rather than a succinct record. The albums low point has to be Bring The Light, a track that overstays its welcome after the fifth or sixth repetition of the line “Bring the Light”. God and Country feels surprisingly unpolished and uneven, another odd addition to the album. Pomp and Circumstances ensures the album fizzles out rather than ending on a high.

There are some strong points, though. Corgan’s vocals are poetic but often nonsensical, keeping with the Pumpkins tradition of mixing whimsy with hard rock. Where many bands will lean to “message” songs, it’s this lightness that keeps the listener going. Song wise, the heavy grooves of Doomsday Clock and 7 Shades of Black are both solid openers and lead single Tarantula is a foot stomping corker. Despite this, it’s easy to see why many fans felt let down by the record that they thought would subvert the stale sounds of the early 2000’s and show some 90’s creativity and variety.

Two years after the release of Zeitgeist, Chamberlin departed the band in what can only be seen as a positive move. Corgan continued performing as Smashing Pumpkins, spending the next few years rediscovering the groups sound. This resulted in the mammoth and unfinished Teargarden by Kaliedyscope experiment which saw a number of freely released tracks hit the internet, followed by the commercial and generally well received Oceania which saw Corgan minting a brand new studio band.

Zeitgeist, however, does remain a black mark and a good example of how to misfire when reforming a popular group.

The year wot was…

Time for a change up, folks. Seven months without an update is pretty poor going but, well, I’ve not really felt the urge to speak to be honest. I’ve had a funny old year – I’ve been hugely productive on a number of projects, both work and hobbies; I’ve posted about my films over at Short Cut Films and my music at Stage of History. But for some reason I’ve not felt enthused to come here and talk about video games, movies or web development. Moving house, getting my life in order – these things seem to have taken over a bit but, well… I’m back.

2014 is set to bring about some big changes for me both professionally and… not so professionally. First up – I’m starting a new job! After two years being self employed, something I’ve loved and enjoyed the hell out of, I’m taking up a two year, full time contract at the University of Lincoln as a Research Systems Developer. Basically it’s going to involve distributed databases, open data libraries – all sorts of fun stuff that I kind of dabbled in when I previously worked at the Uni as a CLOCK developer. That’s coming up in January so I should be talking about that soon.

Filmmaking! I had a brilliant year at Short Cut Films, stretching my legs as a producer and pulling together some nine short films which you can watch on the Short Cut Films website. I’m very proud of the films we’ve produced so far and there’s more to come this year, although we’re going to be changing things up a bit. More about that in the coming weeks as we prep our next one which is sure to be a doozy!

Musics! I’ve been playing around with a lot of things musical this year but I’ve only released a handful of tracks including an EP back in July and a new stand alone track in December. You can check those out on the Stage of History website. I’ve got a few new bits in the pipeline there but I’m adopting a “Talk about it when it’s ready” approach. There may be some different things coming up but I need to be sure I’m happy with them before I unleash them on the world!

So, please stick around – things should get a bit more interesting on here in the next few months as I start to talk about my time at Lincoln Uni, look at setting up a home studio for my music and film making excercises, as well as (hopefully) getting back to randomly rambling about nonsensical stuff that you all probably don’t care about!