RADIO HIAB-X 2013: Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality 2013 from hiabex303 on 8tracks Radio.

Two thousand and thirteen had its own musical flavour, I seemed to gravitate towards electronic grooves and music that, in my mind, would be the perfect soundtrack for floating around in Virtual Reality to. My enthusiasm for the Oculus Rift VR headset was constantly in the back of my mind, perhaps because I’ve been keen as a gamer to see a true paradigm shift away from monitors and screens into a realm of infinite creative possibilities, something totally immersive. The music from that I discovered in this year stoked my imagination. Enjoy this mix.

When Dreams Become Nightmares.

Blogging,Music and Bad Movies.

Hello again you shadowy anonymous visitors. It seems like a good point to update this blog today. I’m feeling pleased that for now, the format of this web site will remain the same for the foreseeable future. It transpires that moving from Apple hosting will disable the ability for visitor comments to be added to any blog posts. LOL! I’ve had that function for years, seen my hit counter rack up 3K+ hits and nobody has commented on anything so it’s a functionality that obviously has little purpose for me personally. I’m not having a dig at you, I’m all for digital anonymity and fully appreciate the comforts associated with being remotely nosey.

Those of you who come back for repeat servings of this website will probably know I’m currently having fun uploading new playlists on my Radio Hiab-x section.

I’ve nothing but praise for the service ‘8Tracks’; they stand out as a unique music promoting service that actually have the decency to NOT force advertisements upon their listeners. It’s a brave choice and a bold one, I love them for it. The primary reason I can’t get on with Spotify is that as a user of its free version, users are forced to listen to mind numbing adverts between tracks and making matters worse, the software pauses an ad when it detects that the listener is  turning the volume down on it. Consequently rather than being made to endure an advert, I’ve simply walked away from the service. I could write a seething essay on why I loathe 99% of advertising, especially aggressive advertising but I’ll save that for another entry of venting at some other point. In the meanwhile, back to 8Tracks, they don’t do it. Around 1999 having bought my first PC and enjoying the earlier incarnations of services such as iTunes, I began to formulate a plan for creating a collection of music representative of the soundtracks to life as I’d lived it. I called the collection ‘RAM’ and started burning CD compilations based on the music I was listening to during certain eras of life. I decided those eras would be houses I’d lived in. Now years down the line, in the advent of playlists, the decline of the physical formats, it seems that a service like 8Tracks has finally provided an optimal platform for a personal project like RAM. I only regret that I can’t suck memories out of my head, upload them as silent movies that play in the background while my Radio Hiab-x playlists do their thing.

I suppose it’s a bit geeky, but every January 1st I create a new playlist in iTunes and stare in awe at how empty it is and wonder how it will look 365 days later. As the year goes by I add newly discovered music- well stand out tracks, and build a playlist for the year. Music and memory work so well in conjunction for me, I can barely comprehend not doing it.

If there were a place called Hell, there would be a circle for scriptwriters who have a wealth of source material to draw from and still manage to completely mangle a movie script until its a lifeless, festering pile of baboon  droppings.

Yes, I’ve been to see Prometheus.

Yes, I thought it was crushingly awful.

Here’s what I wrote on a fan forum:

It isn’t terribly complicated to dissect why those who hated this film (including myself) hated it.

Prometheus was a ‘one shot’ opportunity to take a tangental narrative hinted in the original 1979 movie, in a new and exciting direction. For many, many of us, who are now long in the tooth enough to have seen the original film at the time, there needed to be some fundamental rules to the telling of the story.It needed to be equal (at least) in its delivery of narrative and well crafted characters.

Reading the wrap sheet of the creative minds at work to make the film, the stellar cast (Most of whom have delivered stunning performances in other films and productions) there simply was no possible excuse for pissing it up.

Over three decades of fans have been gained during the course of the original franchises history, many (Including myself again) held the original movie as possibly the finest of its generation and definitely the finest of its genre. Alien could have been an awful, disposable ‘B’ movie, yet its production values, its well chosen cast, it’s carefully paced script, its sensible approach to horror set an incredible benchmark.

Regardless of whether Prometheus would be a new franchise, set in the same universe but launching in a new direction, it had to, HAD TO, apply certain rules in order to be successful, those rules needed to be at heart, an equal attention to narrative, pacing and characterisation.

In today’s world, it also needed to NOT fall into so many traps that so many disposable movies fall into.

George Lucas inadvertently demonstrated how not to approach a prequel when he decided to do SW 1,2 &3.

Lindelof was clearly acutely aware of the potential pitfalls when he pitched that Prometheus shouldn’t be a prequel.However, it is now clear in retrospect that to even include elements such as the Bone ship, The Space Jokey and creatures that burst out from within was an unconfident or at least underhand way of maintaining the status of an Alien 1979 prequel. Hence the confusion in all the pre launch hype, is it or isn’t it? Because the choice was made to keep those original design elements in the new film, It became imperative that it HAD to deliver a satisfying correlation between the films, therefore landing it back in the realm of prequel.

This now sets up all the ingredients for a fall if the ingredients aren’t correctly balanced.

Perhaps the most baffling visual contradiction was the blatant disparity between the sets and the creatures.

Everyone applauded the HR Giger designs from 1979, they were after all, one of the key visual elements that disturbed and inspired the audience and their legacy remains ingrained into our collective consciousness.

To see the sets and the murals of the alien world in the trailers gave huge hope and false promise that any new horrors would almost certainly be born of that aesthetic. The promise that the new creatures were huge, not the xenomorph and frightening stoked the flames of anticipation higher because any fan of Alien and Giger knows in their heart that Giger has designed creatures that share the DNA of Alien but are freakishly more horrific in their design and concept, several key Giger paintings have repeatedly made their rounds on fan message boards and everyone knows to see them come alive and animated would have been truly wonderful and horrifying to behold.

We now know that his monster designs were completely divorced from the final product and rather unfairly so.

There was a logical efficiency to the original creatures in Alien, they made a horrible macabre sense. Super-sizing the face hugger to become ‘Cuddles’ made bugger-all sense biologically and took the new form into the realm of something Ed Wood could have cooked up. Likewise, the ‘whatever burster’ at the end of the film, clearly lacked the bio-mechanoid elegance of the original Xenomorph yet aped its characteristics in a pretty insulting way. Everyone knows that it ‘is’ but at the same time it woefully isn’t.

So, aesthetically the movie was falling over badly, it needed a really tight script and pitch perfect pacing to rescue itself from the holes it was already falling into.

What a pity then that the structure of the story bobbed in and out of tension building like it had time to spare, like you can get away with almost creeping people out, like you can almost bring about a haunted alien house of horrors but change your mind at the pivotal points.

There was no room in the story for incidental crew members who were clearly marked for death because they had no other lines or roles to perform. How foolish it was to go back and forth between Prometheus the space vessel and the alien base with diminishing reasons for doing so, abandoning common sense and just assuming that an intelligent audience would just buy into that concept.

In terms of intelligent story telling, surely it is now lesson 101 to ask yourself when writing “Would I do that?”

“If it was me, would I really make that choice.” Fear is a great motivator, it is in our nature to run from danger and remove ourselves from life threatening situations. It is therefore bad story telling to assume that people will collectively buy into supposably intelligent characters taking flighty stances against survival instinct.

I’m sure Damon Lindeloff has feelings and perhaps feels hurt reading his negative reviews, we have feelings too and it genuinely hurts to invest excitement and expectation into a story that deserved a far better, intelligent treatment than the one that was delivered.

It’s only a film.

Yes, but it’s one I (We) grew increasingly attached to because it made promises that should have been easy to keep. I resent the notion that the age of narrative is dead in cinema, there are a wealth of contemporary movies and their makers that clearly illustrate that this just isn’t the case.

When I see an advert telling me to put away my camcorder and recording equipment because It is killing the collective experience of going to the cinema, I have to bite my tongue. My experience and point of view begs to differ, so far, the worst thing going for the movie business is shitty movies that could have been great and shitty cinema goers who think its ok to talk at volume once the film has begun.

Oh yes, if you stick all the surprises as reveals within the bloody trailer, then you might as well show the final scene and do away with the movie altogether.

Remove these three elements from cinemas and well see the movie theatres get a few more years yet.

What a regret it has been to so easily find holes in what should have been a great film, the ‘should have’ movies are perhaps the most unforgivable, for they cripple the faith of movie loving viewers that there is any worth in emotional investment before a film’s release.

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 Writing the above rant has provided me with s light sense of release as I’ve been quietly mourning the thoughts of what ‘could have been’ and what was expected before the movie’s release. I know it was just a film and therefore perhaps something one shouldn’t get too worked up about, I just happened to care a lot about this one because Alien still ranks as my all time favourite movie of the genre it so masterfully created. But now, it is time to move on…with 0% excitement at the thought that there will be another Blade Runner movie.

 

 

Housekeeping

Briefly updating this website while it quickly approaches its final stages of this current incarnation. I’m quite disappointed that I’ll have to abandon the current format as it has served me well to build a website utilising an assortment of RSS feeds to serve my purposes.

You don’t want to read about my gripes though do you.

OK, as the title suggests, this is just a little bit of housekeeping. I’ve been adding new radio stations to the Radio section. All of them feed from my 8Tracks.com profile here. I’ve enjoyed compiling the playlists so far, they represent the music I’ve had as the soundtrack to my life over the last twenty years. My final aim is to reach as far back as my childhood with the things I remember liking and listening to over the arc that has been my time on this crazy planet.

The mixes are very personal to me and are evocative of the times they represent. I’m not entirely certain how any of them translate to strangers, or people who weren’t around me at the time but I like to think I’ve got good taste in music and an ear for arranging music in order to make an engaging playlist.

As usual, life is busy here in HIAB-X land, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into DIY projects pimping out my crib. Creative art is once again suffering low output due to the demands of getting other things done. Having said that, much of my art is inspired by dreams and lately, my recall has been somewhat fuzzy due to the above ‘busyness’ I do miss keeping my diaries and doing my images to accompany nocturnal adventures but I’m confident at some point I’ll just hop back into being able to focus more on doing it again.

Tidbits of news in brief:

Went to see the incredible Rammstein play live at the O2 in London recently. They put on a show that is unrivalled by any other band I’ve ever seen.

My end of evening routine of mellowing out before bedtime is putting an hour of downtime into playing the incredible game Skyrim. Mum bought it for me  as a Christmas present and I have to say, in terms of providing an unparalleled immersive, engaging, beautifully rendered mythical world with seemingly endless hours of content, there’s nothing quite like it on the gaming market.

Since last blogging here I’ve reached the pivotal age of 40.

Side effects have included: An increased amount of retrospective pondering, several shades of nostalgia and a slowly growing sense that being a thirty-something had its own unique character. I think a sense of mortality does creep in, it has partly provided the impetus to catalog and build a chronological log of photos, comments, music and flavours that life has given so far, arranged on the Facebook Timeline feature.

I had been looking for some software that would provide me with the means of doing this ‘Life so far’ audit, I couldn’t find anything that managed to push all the metaphoric ‘buttons’ then Facebook came along with their new feature that pretty much served every function I was looking for. There lies the bind in what I sometimes feel is a modern ill, I don’t like to be glued to Zuckerberg’s monster more than I need to be, but It transpires that it does have many convenient uses.

What I loathe though, is that I would love to do it all on my own web site but I’m constantly held back by the knowledge that I can never be too personal or provide information that might be harvested by the digital lowlifes that lurk around the dark corners of the web. Who are you, reading this blog? Who are YOU? I like to imagine that you are benign but I’m not naive enough to embrace that sentiment entirely.

Over three thousand hits on this website and not a single comment on a single blog entry : – /

Moving on, I must admit I’m getting pretty stoked about the imminent arrival on cinema screens of the new Ridley Scott flick :Prometheus. It promises to be the spiritual precursor for Alien, which to date remains one of my all time favourite movies of all time. No doubt I’ll write an account of my impressions of it here, I have that horrible hesitancy that It might be awful or sub-standard. I blame George Lucas solely for that feeling, after all, he DID manage to make three consecutive screw-ups and forever mar his legacy with Star Wars. I managed to avoid the last Indiana Jones movie based on that bitter taste and it then transpired that my avoidance was wholly justified.

OK, this was supposed to be a blog entry of updates and now it resembles a moan.

Thank you dear void, for your brief attention paid to this particular missive. Don’t be a stranger now ;-P