Thursday, December 26, 2013

Stay Focused



you have

is the same
as having



full of



Words on
a page.

Thinking you have

Then writing them.

Does that
make them real?


You can't

what has been



Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Analytics of Listening

After working in Sports Information for 6 years, I've developed a penchant for analytics. Here's my current top most listened to artists dictated by my iPod and beginning on August 22nd, 2010. I've attached a brief description as to (1) why they hold the position they do, (2) what meaning the music has to me, and (3) what albums I listen to the most. I'll add hyperlinks at request.

  1. Luke Wieting - 11d 2h 50m (7.02%)
    1. Luke's comfortable lead used to be much wider. Essentially, I listened to the album Currents every other night for almost all of 2011. I still frequent many of his shorter compositions for film. 
    2. I know Luke through a friend I went to school with. He grew up in relatively the same area I do and I feel a close connection to the vibe his music tends to emit. I have a lot of respect for what he does and the way his music conveys hope, determination, and beauty. 
    3. Currents, Towing: Original Score, Reclamation: Original Score
  2. Stephen Drury - 9d 20h 31m (6.23%) 
    1. Stephen Drury is the listed artist for all of the pieces I have composed by John Cage. I frequently use Cage in my relaxation playlists, contributing to the high score here. In fact, it is mostly the two tracks Dream (composed in 1948) and In A Landscape (also composed in 1948) that help maintain this position (with 595 and 912 plays respectively and growing).
    2. Dream and In A Landscape both drift seamlessly through each note. It's mesmerizing. I also appreciate Cage's experimental approach to music and it has no doubt informed some of my contemporary choices.
    3. In A Landscape 
  3. Oliver Sadie - 5d 9h 58m (3.42%)
    1. I spent a long time going through Oliver Sadie tracks when I first discovered his music. He has a solid knack for improvisation and it's wonderful to see how his production has increased. 
    2. I'm really attracted to Oliver's spontaneous creativity that shines through many of his pieces. Even the more deliberately planned tracks exude a sense of peacefulness and confidence that comes as a result of being familiar with the medium and the various ways in which it can be used. 
    3. I tend to listen to Oliver's music in sets. I would love to see him release a concept album one day, but I'm more than content with the way things are organized right now. Improvs 4 & 5 have a lot of plays in my library as do most of the tracks that became organized on his debut album, Finding Stars.  
  4. Hans Zimmer - 5d 9h 46m (3.42%)
    1. My transition to more classically organized music began with exploration of move soundtracks. The field seems Zimmer dominated so it's hard not to avoid or enjoy his work. Many of his soundtracks have provided the intense, driving, or grand mood for my work.
    2. Hans Zimmer knows where to stick the music in the movie. I meticulously organize my soundtracks for both video games and movies in the order in which they appear in the media. Zimmer's music has become a catalyst for story telling and the vibe each of his pieces evoke has often helped me through many late night projects. 
    3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Inception, Angels & Demons
  5. Nils Frahm - 4d 22h 32m (3.12%)
    1. Ever since finding Screws online, I've been digesting Frahm's work faster than most of my food. Seeing him live in September of 2013 has only bolstered my dedication to enjoying his masterpieces. Frahm has only appeared in the top ten list within the last month and continues to rise. I listen to his tracks whenever I find the time.
    2. Nils Frahm makes some truly magnificent music. It was incredible to see a live performance that featured the same basic structure as his album tracks, but improvised in such a way that it deserved an album in its own right. Frahm's music hits a lot of emotions, but in a balanced way. He always brings the feelings home. Frahm's work also features some more experimental or modern compositional techniques keeping his work fresh. Simply brilliant.
    3. Screws, Felt, Spaces, Stare EP (with Olafur Arnalds)
  6. Nick Lammertyn - 4d 13h 11m (2.87%)
    1. Nick's vgPiano arrangement of the Super Metroid Ending takes the cake for most plays with 938. I find that Nick brings a fairly unique style to composition for media in my library, earning him a top spot.
    2. I really dig the Super Metroid Ending Piano for its use of emotion and source material. Nick's other pieces have a similar depth in emotion, depth, action, and transition. This is a pretty impressive score for an artist with no proper albums in my library and only 13 tracks. 
    3. Tracks/Sets: vgPiano Super Metroid Project Ending Piano, Brandpunt set, Climax Final, Administrators (I find this works particularly well with the short film)
  7. The Alvaret Ensemble - 4d 8h 41m (2.76%)
    1. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you're more than aware how much I've been listening to this. The Alvaret Ensemble is a "supergroup." Comprised of some of the top talent in modern composition, alternative experimental, and the so called neoclassical genre, its uniqueness is refreshing and open. This artist/album has calmed me through many late nights. To clarify, The Alvaret Ensemble is simultaneously the name of the group and of their debut album, their only formal release to date. So yes, this one album is number 7 on a list for most listened to artists.
    2. Simply phenomenal. Honestly, I was taken aback at first by the unique approach employed by this album. It's really free flowing and ambient without being electronic. The Alvaret Ensemble is a wonder of modern composition, but free of the electronics so prevalent in today's music. Instead of lyrics, poetry spoken in Frisian peppers tracks, the delivery of which contributes heavily to the sense of wonder, mysticism, and beauty that permeates the album. In so many ways, this album is about restraint. The silence between each note makes every sound all the more powerful. The Alvaret Ensemble is pure brilliance. The seemingly paradoxical deliberateness and spontaneous nature of each sound evokes in me feelings of intense joy and reverence for the beautiful world we live in and the potential that exists all around us. When talking to Nils Frahm about this album, he told me I had good taste. Nils Frahm recommends this album, 'nuff said. 
    3. The Alvaret Ensemble is both a single artist and the name of the debut album. If you get one thing from this list, it is that you should listen to this album. It is awesome. 
  8. Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori - 4d 5h 55m (2.68%)
    1. All things Halo makes for good road trip music or anything which involves sitting down for a couple hours and plugging away at a task. 
    2. O'Donnell and Salvatori's work on the Halo series has produced some of my favorite video game scores. Striking both grand and intimate moments such as in Halo 3 and Halo 3 ODST, these two artists display a well rounded knowledge of how to use a mix of percussion, orchestra, and electronics for a video game. I particularly enjoy how many of the tracks are rhythmically driven. 
    3. Halo 3 ODST, Halo 3
  9. 12 Followers/Meteo Xavier - 3d 9h 7m (2.14%)
    1. It's kind of hard to avoid putting this on the top ten when amateur analyzing the heck out of every second of an album like I did for the aRPS podcast. That being said, I'm not complaining. Meteo Xavier's ambient tracks are great for late evening listening.
    2. I've kind of already discussed this thoroughly in the podcast, but I feel simple structure, dispersed electronic elements, and unique samples really help make his debut album a unique offering full of intrigue. The concept behind it flows really well and contributes to the sense of fullness and completeness that comes at the conclusion of a playthrough. Meteo Xavier can clearly deploy a variety of styles and do it fairly well, a talent I have a lot of respect for. 
    3. Espers (79 total album plays)
  10. Blake Neeley - 3d 7h 40m
    1. All but one of my tracks from composer Blake Neely are from the soundtrack for the U.S. television series, The Mentalist. 
    2. The Mentalist is an interesting show in itself, but Neely's score really seals the deal. Using a variety of electronic and percussive elements to keep things fresh, many tracks feel polished, slick, and snappy--perfectly suited for the show. 
    3. The Mentalist (Original Soundtrack)
Here are some artists who aren't in the top ten, but whose plays are on the rise in my library. 
  • Helios
    • If I labeled every track composed by Keith Kenniff as such, I have no doubt he'd be in the top ten. Helios is Kennif's moniker for post-rock and electronic music. Most of the plays in this department come from his 2006 album, Eingya, which is a solid offering of emotionally uplifting ambient electronic and post-rock music.
    • Helios is currently 11th. 
  • Little People
    • With the reduced pacing and increased rhythmic complexity of his most recent album, We Are But Hunks of Wood, Little People continues to impress me with whimsical and groovy beats. Aldgate Patters is simply mesmerizing. 
    • Little People is currently 14th.
  • Johann Johannsson
    • Johann Johannsson I'm told is one of the driving forces behind modern composition and minimalism. My experience with Johannsson comes from the album Fordlandia, which I am highly impressed with for its sense of immense relief, grandeur, and beauty. Fordlandia currently has 54 plays as an album, a number that will likely continue to increase. I also plan on picking up some other Johannsson works. 
    • Johann Johannsson (Fordlandia only) is currently 16th
  • Peter Broderick
    • Peter Broderick is always willing to try new things. Perhaps one could see him as the American counterpart to Olafur Arnalds or Nils Frahm. There is certainly no lack of collaboration between them. Broderick has reawoken my desire to listen to new sounds and try new types of music even if they initially sound unappealing to me. It's neat to see Broderick try a multitude of styles while forging a new path. 
    • Peter Broderick is currently 19th
  • Ben Lukas Boysen
    • I'm told Ben Lukas Boysen is a sound designer. From his most recent release, Gravity, it's not hard to tell. Boysen's notes are chosen carefully and create solid structural pieces whose spacing evokes a subtle sense of peace and joy.
    • Ben Lukas Boysen is currently 22nd
  • Olafur Arnalds
    • I had the privilege of seeing Olafur Arnalds in his first trip to Seattle this past September. While I was primarily there to see Nils Frahm, I knew Arnalds would impress. His use of violin, piano, and electronics combined with his early background in heavy metal music makes for a unique emotional experience. 
    • Olafur Arnalds is currently 26th
That's what I've been listening too lately. I still enjoy many of the independent artists I've set up this blog to promote, but I find myself pausing to wonder at the nature of the very thing I'm promoting. My experience with music is informed by a very amateur understanding of the subject--an understanding which I am hoping to broaden. Many of these artists have informed my own contributions to music as seen in my recent releases of Soliloquy of Renovation and Pieces EP. 

When I first began to tackle music on aRPS, it was borne out of the desire to promote independent artists in need of recognition for their hard work. At the time, these artists were a result of my explorations on OverClocked ReMix, a community dedicated to the appreciation and reinterpretation of video game music. As a result, aRPS seemed geared towards indie electronica by default. I felt like this approach was expanded with an increased involvement in the SoundCloud community. Now I stand at a bit of a crossroads, not sure what necessarily qualifies as indie music and what music needs promoting or not. Regardless, I will continue to share what I think should be listened to. I encourage you to do your own exploration and check out some websites run by people who actually specialize in music. To that end, I highly recommend checking out these sites.

In particular, I find the about section of the Audio Intimacy blog to be a worthy read. The crossroads I mentioned earlier not only stems from my inexperience with music on a professional level, but also from my desire to see aRPS pursue its other objectives in being pleasant for video games and literature. Therefore, it's very likely that any official release of A Rather Pleasant Site, which has been delayed indefinitely at this point, will be the result of a collaborative and conceptual effort to unify the importance of video games, literature, and music as influential art forms as well as entertainment.

As a closing note, I'd like to point out that while I love analytics, this is not meant as a basis for comparing music. I find it fascinating to see how my taste and experience of music has evolved over the years, but I still hold many of the artists I no longer listen to as frequently with as much if not more respect for what I'm currently listening to. It is interesting to note the circumstances that lead to certain artists receiving many plays.

What do you listen to and why?

A Soft Addiction

This is
killing me.

Not really.

But it will

This isn’t pleasant.

Choose right.

Find yourself
Wake up.
Reality needs you.

Your choices
affect everyone.

Your choices

Who are you?
More than what you do?
Prove it?
Can I?

Forgive me.

The consequences
are at the doorstep.

Finish it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Realization

This is a blog, right?
I have lofty goals for A Rather Pleasant Site.
I do not need to meet these goals in order to post on here.

Reader beware.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Listen to Silence

I feel



This was
not meant to be
like this.

I'm sorry.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

still worth it



Maybe never lost.

and focus.



Do you
hear it?

I am
not alone.

Neither are

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Mediocre Pleasantry

A Rather Pleasant Site has come a long way since its inception. We've gone from a heavy focus on content generation to a more lax attitude that focuses more on promotion and marketing. We're far from the professionalism of well known web sites focused on music/lit/game promotion, but still trying to achieve something apart from the typical coalition of writers or a single writer blogging away at a whim.

It's not hard to notice a discrepancy in our goals, mission statement, and actual accomplishments. We aim to be something that simply hasn't been fully conceptualized yet, much less actualized. We claim to focus on independent music, games, and literature, yet our focus is spread unevenly throughout and our interpretation of the word independent can be somewhat hazy at times. Our actual accomplishments seem to amount to little more than odd musings, somewhat intriguing ideas, and disorganized rants in the areas of literature, games, and music respectively. Although I have often wondered at the practical direction of aRPS, it's easy to see it fall apart right here, right now.

I have no intention of abandoning A Rather Pleasant Site. However, I can't afford to delude myself into having priorities that I do not actually have. Ever since I took over from Reogan, I've been trying to formalize who and what we are with a bigger emphasis on logistics. I realize now that this has its benefits, but is not entirely within the spirit of A Rather Pleasant Site as stated within its very title. Our imaginations are filled with thoughts that entertain us and engage us. The way we perceive music, games, and literature is a product of who we are. We like to share this with you because it is amusing--it is pleasant. Unfortunately, limited resources, time, and priorities have left us without many pleasant thoughts to share. The self-induced complexities of day to day life overwhelm our desire to unpredictably pioneer our imaginations in a way that is capable of being conveyed to a reader.

Where do we go from here? This is the question that I'm always left asking. I honestly don't know. I'm still set on moving off the blogger format and into something where content generation is no longer the biggest concern. I want to organize our thoughts so that they are best conveyed to you. We've made commitments. We're not going anywhere. Unfortunately, we've taken that too literally. Let's be pleasantly engaging. It's time to start taking our mediocrity seriously.

We're moving at the speed of a snail right now, but stick around and in a year or two we might actually be in a slightly different place. No matter how long it takes, we'll get the job done. Stay pleasant. Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Death of Informality

Well here's an out of place post for the present day.

I make that statement based on the fact that I am actively trying to transition aRPS away from the blogging model and into something bigger. All this is highly speculative at this point and still in the works, but what remains is my desire to do this. This has also alerted me to another point of blogging.

A lot of people don't blog to be or look professional. Sure there are a good amount of professional style blogs with legitimate business models and that sort of thing, but I've come under the impression (let me know if I'm deceived in this or not) that this whole blogging deal tends to lead to a lot of personal rants about lives and topics and such. These "lives and topics and such" once had a place on aRPS, but that place seems more than half a decade in the past (and most of it is).

I'm writing this because I've been browsing some blogs of some good friends of mine who aren't related to any sort of my business interests. These friends talk openly about their private lives and grapple with issues openly. As with many of my opinions, I'll defer on what I think about this to the best presented argument at the time. I don't have particularly strong feelings about the subject right now, but I do have a style that I like to preserve so that gives me some preferences at least.

This style that I talk about tends to show itself through my own writing on the blog and perhaps a little bit on the first podcast (although Reogan does a good job of balancing that). Generally, I tend to shy away from posting about things from my personal life. We all have different experiences, we form opinions, people debate whose opinions make more sense, the cycle continues. There's nothing wrong with it, but I'm just not the person to do this on a blog. If any of you remember back to Earth Database, Collide Files (EDCF), you've been around too long and I'd like to think I've changed since then. That change is primarily in the fact that I don't like being openly creative without a formalized model to implement it. I conclude that any agent needs a delivery system. I conclude that formalizing processes and building a structure is important because it's respected and because it takes work; it conveys a more clear understanding of the various ways human interaction works.

This post is titled "The Death of Informality" - at this point no doubt to the reader a reference to the disparity between the direction I have concluded I must move aRPS in and the direction various aforementioned friends of mine have chosen. Yet as in most things with life, I'm still slightly hesitant to move on. I love the idea of the aRPS platform we're building right now (don't get your expectations as high as mine or you just might be let down by this). I also feel for my friends who actively write about their lives, especially content I'd keep private if put in their place. So there may be a bit of a "death of informality" here on aRPS, but simple human interaction is never too far away.

I don't feel like sharing my personal thoughts (personal as in speculative) on an open platform. I like to have my mind made up before I make a post because it tends to keep everyone on task and focused. Granted, many of my conclusions about the music I listen to lean towards long-winded rants that attempt to inadequately sum up technical specifications that I usually process as something akin to emotional injection (just reading that sentence makes me fear for a regular reader of my music reviews/articles). I feel compelled to write this off as a formal attempt to informally communicate with music listeners who know just as much as I do (which isn't much, technically). So that remains, hope is not lost (interpret that as you will).

I'm all for making people think. I'm all for making myself think. I am thinking (if you haven't noticed) right now. For all of those who've stuck with us over the years, we owe you a big thank you. It's really quite easy for me to slip into PR mode, but I like reminding myself (in front of the internet in this rare case) that I am, as Agent Jones is keen to point out, only human (don't read into that too much past the reference). Now that that's over with, thoughts?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Espers-Remastered Version Release as well as Other Related News

This post is probably a month late, but 12 Followers/Meteo Xavier's debut album "Espers", the album that Met and myself had reviewed last summer during our first podcast, has now been remastered and re-released for our enjoyment.  The link to this new version can be found here, so feel free to have a listen.

Currently we are still in the process of creating our second podcast, which is a review of Meteo Xavier's album "Meteocrity" (we had promised to work on a review for it in late 2011, so it is about time, right?).  However, while I have been trying to find the time to work on this podcast with Xanthurian, especially during the last couple of weeks, the project will be on a temporary stand-by on my part for the next month or so while I am away on business.  This podcast will happen, even if it takes another couple months.  We'll need plenty of cooperation, coordination, and time.

We will continue to post updates on the podcast and any other happenings or events as the days go by.  For now though, be patient.  The podcast will come.

This is also twenty-three days late, but I'll say it now.  Happy New Year! We hope to spend this year moving into our own website, releasing a few podcasts, and moving forward in the best way that we can with posting and podcast releases.  I feel honored to be a part of it, so let's make 2013 a memorable and productive year for A Rather Pleasant Site.