Volcano Choir. Volcanic, rather than choral.

November 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

It is rather volcanic.  Really, on stage.

As far as I’m concerned, this one-time unit by Collection of Colonies of Bees and Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) represents how contemporary American popular music has evolved over the past decade, during which I almost ignored (indie) pop music, since I foolishly decided I was not so young to eagerly and excitedly listen to “that kind of” music when I turned (around) 30.

Now age 42, and I was stunned to be able to experience kind of a sublimity no other artist could achieve in the way they did in a series of live performance in Japan.  I joined one of them in a club called “sunsui” in Osaka. Featured band was Volcano Choir, which is one-time project by 2 units, one Collection of Colonies of Bees, the other Bon Iver.  The 45-minutes opening act by Collection of Colonies of Bees was followed by Volcano Choir.

Collection of Colonies of Bees is a group of experienced virtuosos of rather experimental minimal sound.  The guitar of Chris Rosenau creates every sound that decides overall tone (ambient, environmental, noisiness and noiseless at the same time) of the band, which was led by intense and heavy bass drum beats of John Mueller, for whom this Japan tour would be the final performance as a member of Collection of Colonies of Bees.

The sight to see was the presence of Bon Iver a.k.a. Justin Vernon.  Of course, you are familiar with the sure and resounding pitch of his voice on his studio work For Emma, Forever Ago and “Blood Bank.”  Actually, Peter Gabriel (with “Flume”) and Kanye West (with “Woods”) are the ones who could not resists to take Justin’s voice into account for their music career.

Tonal/atonal, high-/low-pitched, emotional/impassive,  serene/stirring, divine, celestial, angelic.

Still, provocatively volcanic.

Difficult is to find appropriate expression to describe Justin’s voice and presence there.  NPR commented on Volcano Choir’s “More choral than volcanic” on their studio work.  Once you witness their actual performance on stage, you find, ultimately, the reality of their volcanic nature, rather than just serene and quiet ones.

Reflections, and being philosophical

November 5, 2009 § 3 Comments

At least once a year, I go back to Benjamin Franklin’s “The 13 Virtues,” finding myself not being able to observe even one third of them at the same time. Here they are.

  1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Well, about the last item, how to interpret it is a pending problem for me because I am not a Christian. In older times, “humbleness” was a virtue all Japanese should have. I think I know what the humility is, but sometimes it is difficult to be humble. What relieves me is that even Franklin himself didn’t ever try to work on them all at once. He would work on only one each week “leaving all others to their ordinary chance.”

And I sometimes talk about those lessons with young people. However flippant and sometimes hoody they seem to be in appearance, most of them surely take them seriously. I am always surprised to see that. I wonder if those disciplinary rules might be even quite “new” to some of them, in this time of diversity and generosity. You can imagine how I can be philosophical when I think about this.

That Kindles my mind, actually

October 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

I bought several items via Kindle in first three days. Here’s the list:

The Henry James Collection II: 24 Novellas and Short Stories, The Henry James Collection I: 24 Novellas and Short Stories, The Henry James Collection III: 16 Novels in One Volume , The Complete Charles Dickens Collection, The Women(T.C. Boyle), The Complete Mark Twain Collection.

Each item cost only 3 dollars, except for Boyle’s The Women. I guess, for people outside US like me, shipping cost of items purchased at Amazon.com makes us think twice to “place the order.” Kindle edition of The Women was actually a little more expensive than printed version, but it is needless to say which we should buy, in terms of total cost.

For a bookworm like me, Kindle is really a messianic new device that helps non-US people reach primary sources “printed” in US. It’s extremely easy to buy them now. As a researcher, however, I still don’t know how to handle the reliability of the sources when they are mediated by Kindle.

Other than that, it’s really awesome. The e-ink display way exceeded my expectation and the letters and pictures are beautiful on it. The lightness allows me to hold it as long as I like. While my driving a car, text-to-speech gives me authentic news source like New York Times, Financial Times, LATimes etc the instant they are out, while I’m in Japan. And still the battery will last for days.

I’m on with Kindle.

Kindle 2 released in Japan, eventually

October 26, 2009 § Leave a comment


The international version of Kindle was released last week, and now it’s available in Japan.

It surely has such a good texture that reminds me of the “real” book.

Fun thing about Kindle is it has a lot of stand-by pictures of famous writers like Ralph Ellison, Charlotte Bronte, James Joyce etc, which may urge users to buy complete works of them sold only at 2 or 3 bucks!


October 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

Thank you for visiting zacky’s memoranda blog.

This blog is going to be my primary one that reflects my thought concerning my research projects, jobs, family and so on. Zacky’s AlterBlog has already started mumbling something, especially about my particularity(?) on electronics, gadgets, music and other hobbies of mine. Please enjoy this blog and, if you like, visit  Zacky’s AlterBlog either.