Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Climbing"

You might have noticed a bit of public quiet on the Ontario Emperor front. After releasing at least one song every month, nothing at all has been released to the Ontario Emperor Bandcamp page (or the Wasp the Houseboy page, for that matter), since June.

If you are a member of the Ontario Emperor group on Facebook, you saw me hinting at the reasons.

...the June release of "Drains to Ocean" was hectic, with some after-the-last-minute changes (including the removal of the song "Drains to Ocean" from the collection "Drains to Ocean").

I characterized this as a #FirstWorldProblem - after all, I didn't die or anything.

But I haven't released any new material either.

Yet for some unknown reason, my OntarioEmperor Facebook page has been drawing attention lately, so I thought I'd start reposting some of the old stuff there.

As a result, I've found myself listening to the featured song from "Drains to Ocean" a lot lately. That song is called "Climbing," and I've reproduced it below.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Band on the march

I was in marching band in high school, and I remember how we would not only play your traditional Sousa-like songs at football games, but also then-contemporary songs. Our band's playlist included the Star Wars theme and "Disco Duck," and I still remember a trumpet player who would solo on "Rise" any chance he got.

Yes, the image of marching bands is true Americana.

Hold my wine.

A marching band performed at today's Bastille Day celebrations.

And, to the delight of some in the audience (but not others), this band continued in the "be contemporary" tradition by playing a medley of songs by French band Daft Punk.

While Spin makes a big deal about Trump's stone-faced reaction, that's not the only highlight of the video. My favorite occurs at about 1:22 into the video, as some older French veterans kinda sorta clap along to "Get Lucky."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

And just think, nobody thought this would 'last"

In 1994, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jackson appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards. Mr. Jackson commented on their marriage, saying, "And just think, nobody thought this would last." The couple then kissed. (Spoiler: it didn't last.)

Mrs. Jackson was, and is, better known by her birth name of Lisa Marie Presley. While she has recorded three full-length albums to date, her former husband (since deceased) had slightly more success in the music industry. While I don't think I've ever listened to a Lisa Marie Presley song, I have listened to Michael Jackson songs 158 times since 2007.

How do I know this?

Because I have gotten myself into ruts at times.

For several years after I graduated from college, I would repeatedly go to the Jack in the Box on Archibald and Arrow and order a side salad with ranch dressing.

For a nearly ten year period, I would record my whereabouts in a series of books. I can't remember how many, but I know it was less than 26; I had an "A" book, but never created a "Z" book.

For almost as long, I played in various Starfleet Commander universes.

And, since Thursday, July 26, 2007, I have repeatedly "scrobbled" many of the songs that I hear. Over 170,000 times.


Why?

Initially, scrobbling songs on last.fm allowed me to hear the songs. In those days, last.fm actually hosted the songs, and I was able to listen to the songs for free. A couple of years later, I even hosted six of my own songs on last.fm itself.

Then, over the years, last.fm reduced its functionality while other services such as Spotify increased theirs. I can't directly listen to songs on last.fm any more, but I can record ("scrobble") the songs that I listen to on Spotify, Bandcamp, YouTube, and other services...sometimes. My Bandcamp and YouTube scrobbles are dependent upon a Chrome extension, which works fine in Windows, but doesn't work on iOS. And many services don't support scrobbling at all.

So one morning while I was driving to work, Spotify scrobbling away on my iPhone, I asked myself, "What benefit am I receiving from giving last.fm all of my scrobbling data?" I could identify the benefits from giving certain data (such as this post) to Google, Facebook, and other services, but the value proposition for last.fm has disappeared over the years. What's more, my devotion to last.fm has led me to shun other non-scrobbling services for no good reason.

Often when I get into these ruts, I suddenly snap out of them. One day I didn't get a side salad at Jack in the Box. One day I put my book down and stopped recording where I was. One day I let my planets in the Starfleet Commander universes all die. These actions gave me a sense of freedom.

Well, after listening to one last song (the top one on thie list), I disabled my Chrome extension and turned off scrobbling in my Spotify app.

I may not keep scrobbling turned off forever. After all, I quit Foursquare at one point just to join it again a while later.

But now I have the freedom to listen to songs and not worry about the documentation of them.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Robert Smith, approved by the Comics Code Authority?

Continuing on the general theme of repurposing music, what would happen if my favorite Cure song, "A Forest," appeared as a comic book?


Yes, I can quibble about the cover, since Robert Smith didn't become Edward Scissorhands until AFTER "A Forest" was released, but it's still brilliant.

This is from a collection of Cure songs reimagined as comic book covers by Butcher Billy.

Butcher Billy has also reimagined love songs as Stephen King book covers. How deep IS your love? (H/T Laughing Squid.)

P.S. going off on a tangent: you'll note that Butcher Billy even went through the trouble of reproducing the "Approved by the Comics Code Authority" emblem on his comic book covers - which is definitely humorous. For a history of the Comics Code Authority, and how William Gaines and Stan Lee (working for Richard Nixon) reacted to it, read this.

Monday, July 10, 2017

This Charming Charlie revisited

So anyway, this happened some time ago. (I'm writing this post an unspecified amount of time before its publication.) One day, I was informed at work that a particular item, which was declared "final" at one point but had then gone through a second and third revision, had just gone through a fourth revision.

So I did the best thing I could do under the circumstances.

I took a walk. (I needed the steps anyway.)

So I put my earbuds in and started Spotify on my phone.

And what song came up?

The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now".

And yes, that's the song that includes the lyric published in the "This Charming Charlie" comic strip that I shared in 2013.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Musical skills are handy - or, how an optical organ manufacturer got caught up in Watergate

In business, there are many circumstances in which you will make one deal in order to get another deal. And while I was reading about various 1970s organs, I ran across an intriguing story.

Richard Nixon was well-known as a piano player, although as several sources note, Nixon often proclaimed that he could only play in the key of G. But he was clearly interested in the instrument, and although he wasn't going to join the German band Kraftwerk on stage, it would make sense for keyboard manufacturers to court the President.

This explains the series of letters documented here. In brief, Miner Industries offered to give President Nixon an Optigan (optical organ) for his enjoyment, and offered to have musical director Michael LeDoux personally install the Optigan at the Western White House in San Clemente, California.


By PMDrive1061 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Sounds simple, right?

Except for the fact that this series of letters was written on July 24, 1974. (A stamp on one of the letters indicates that it was received in Orange, California on July 29.)

And the fact that LeDoux had extensive experience in audio, having worked on the Talking Barbie, as well as the discs used by the Optigan.

Now what would be the significance of having an audio expert visit the Nixon Administration in July 1974?

According to Pea Hicks' recollection of something that LeDoux said (he has since passed away), the delivery of the Optigan to San Clemente was a pretext for something else.

...apparently Mike was known by someone associated with Nixon as a skilled audio tape editor, and given the Optigan office’s fairly close proximity to the Western White House, he was recruited to consult on a possible editing job of the famous “smoking gun” tapes...

The entire story is here.

Of course, by the time LeDoux received the letters on July 29, the House Judiciary Committee was passing the second of three articles of impeachment. Two days later, on July 31, Alexander Haig and Ron Ziegler privately told President Nixon that the smoking gun tape was "devastating" to Nixon's cause. The next day, August 1, Haig would tell Vice President Gerald Ford about the "smoking gun" tape (and kinda sorta mention various things about pardons).

The time for consulting audio experts had passed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New Ontario Emperor album "Drains to Ocean" now available on Bandcamp

Ontario Emperor's latest synthetica release is self-described as greatest electronic album ever


Empoprises announces that musical artist Ontario Emperor has released a new 12-song album entitled "Drains to Ocean." This newest instrumental collection is available electronically on the "ontarioemperor" page at Bandcamp (ontarioemperor.bandcamp.com).

This is Ontario Emperor's fourth Bandcamp release. Ontario Emperor's music was originally released on mp3.com in 1999 and 2000. After mp3.com ceased operations, Ontario Emperor released a free track on GeoCities. After GeoCities ceased operations, Ontario Emperor released a free collection of songs on last.fm. After last.fm ceased hosting music files, it was on to Bandcamp. As of June 2017, Ontario Emperor has not yet succeeded in closing Bandcamp down.

The marketing flack who is pretending to speak for Ontario Emperor put some new words in his mouth for this release. "Yes, I am self-proclaiming this to be the greatest electronic album ever," stated Ontario. "And in all honesty, the songs are more developed than the ones on my previous releases. Each of the twelve songs evokes a particular mood, although I will leave it to the listener to determine what these moods may be."

Empoprises' John E. Bredehoft also had some words put into his mouth. "Our experience with Bandcamp has been very fruitful," Bredehoft supposedly said. "We look forward to expanding our relationship with Bandcamp in the future."

The twelve songs can be previewed on Bandcamp. Purchase of the album, or of selected individual songs, allows unlimited streaming as well as download of the song files.

Other Ontario Emperor releases on Bandcamp include the six-song "Relusion," the ten-song "Salad," and the song "Bare Plate," all available at ontarioemperor.bandcamp.com. Empoprises also manages the musical career of Wasp the Houseboy, whose individual songs can be found at waspthehouseboy.bandcamp.com.


Monday, June 19, 2017

#empkamperz "Moonshadow Park," Jacob Walter

Sunday, June 18, 2017

#emukamperz "Grimshaw Road," Durham County Poets

Saturday, June 17, 2017

#emukamperz "Mermaid's Song," Janice Kephart & Stuart Lynch

Friday, June 16, 2017

#emukamperz "Family Says... (Refugees Welcome)," Helen Sventitsky

Thursday, June 15, 2017

#emukamperz "Obnoxious Blocks," Poppy

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

#emukamperz "DO IT! (ft. Shia LaBeouf)," ΛDRIΛNWΛVE

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

#emukamperz "Plate," Ontario Emperor

Monday, June 12, 2017

My God is Color Blind...and has apparently visited Alexandria, Indiana

Years ago, I wrote about the rarity of my love for Eddie Murphy's song "My God is Color Blind."

In a world of billions of people, I was able to find a few (via YouTube comments) who shared my admiration for the song.

Via blog comments, I've found another one:

I was on the radio the other day & Eddie Murphy's singing career came up. Party all the Time was of course the first song mentioned. But it reminded of my youth back in the mid 80's and that I had this album (I may have had it on cassette, not real clear on that). Anyway, like you, I started thinking about that one song I REALLY liked on the album but drew a blank. I looked up the album on iTunes & BAM - there it was - My God is Color Blind! I immediately downloaded it & have been listening to it in the car over and over on the way to work! I then started thinking I was probably the only other person in the world who liked this song so I googled it & found this blog. I don't know you - I've never heard of your blog - but we shall forever be link together by the ballad of Eddie Murphy! Blue, black or white, you can be a friend of mine!

Steve Koester
Alexandria, Indiana


Note that Steve didn't say anything about the second side of "Total Devo," however. As I said in 2009, "So I can't win them all."

#emukamperz "Level Minus," Wasp the Houseboy

Sunday, June 11, 2017

#emukamperz "Get Ready 2 Move," Rahsheen

Saturday, June 10, 2017

#emukamperz "Ringed By Lovers," Helen Sventitsky

Friday, June 9, 2017

#emukamperz "Suburban Encyclopedia," Ontario Emperor

Thursday, June 8, 2017

#emukamperz Introduction

Ever since I first became involved with Bandcamp, I've really like their embeddable music players - especially how they embed into blog posts (although the display of Bandcamp links in Twitter and Facebook isn't shabby either).

So, I thought to myself, why not just embed a bunch of stuff?

As the meme says, brace yourselves - embedded Bandcamp songs are coming.


And while I obviously won't be shy about sharing Ontario Emperor and Wasp the Houseboy songs, other Bandcampers are coming also.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

And I call myself a...creator

It is a truism that there are many more consumers of content than creators of content. And now that I am not only a blogger, but also a publicized electronic music performer, I guess I can claim to be one of the few creators of content.

I took a break from creating for a few days after Ontario Emperor's "Relusion" was released, but I decided to plunge back in this afternoon. There are a number of songs that I'm working on right now, and I'm still tweaking a few of them before I convert them from MIDI form to a form for your enjoyment.

So I started working on the first song, "Older Rag," and tweaked a few things here and there. Sadly, I realized that the song is in no final shape. Things aren't sounding quite right.

I moved on to the next song, "Saint," and did some more tweaking. But that one isn't ready either.

On to the third song, "Curb." Same story. Before I took my break of a few days, I was under the impression that these songs were just about ready, but none of them sounded right.

So I moved on to the fourth song, "Initialism." I had been working on this one for a while - it's a mood piece, slightly similar to "Suburban Encyclopedia" from "Relusion," only with more (obvious) form. But as I started to listen to "Initialism," I realized that there was definitely a problem.

And it only took me a minute to figure out what the problem was.

I was playing the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth sounds, not the improved Timbres of Heaven soundfont that I had loaded back in March.

No wonder the songs sounded so bad (or, if you don't like my music at all, why the songs sounded even worse than normal).

What had changed on my computer over the last few days? Well, for one, I had installed the Windows 10 Creators Update. I don't know if that was what caused the glitch, but it would be ironic if the Creators update interfered with my creating.

So first I went back to the Coolsoft Virtual MIDI Synth site, discovered that I had an outdated version of the software, uninstalled my old version, and reinstalled the new one.

Then I went back to the Timbres of Heaven site and re-read the instructions.

Next, create a new folder named "SoundFonts" in a logical place that you will not forget, e.g. "C:\SoundFonts".

I had forgotten, but luckily I followed Don Allen's suggestion and created a directory called "Soundfonts" on my C drive. The Timbres of Heaven files were still there. So I just had to follow the steps to add Timbres of Heaven to my new version of Virtual MIDI Synth, and I was back in business.

Back when I wrote my March post, the main reason that I wrote it was not for you, but for me. I figured that at some point I'd get access to a different computer and have to reload everything on that computer, so I wanted to remember how to do it. And what better place to stash the instructions than on my music blog?

I didn't realize that I would have to re-examine that post in less than three months.

In closing, I figured that I'd share the aforementioned "Suburban Encyclopedia" again. And by the way, while my songs usually sell for $1 each (with some discounts if you purchase the entire album), the song "Suburban Encyclopedia" has an official price of "name your price."

Which means that you could name a price of $0.00 and download it for free. I wouldn't complain.

Or you could name a price of $1,000.00. I DEFINITELY wouldn't complain.

Reminds me of a story from a fake Rolling Stone parody. In the story, which was set at about the time that everyone except Tom Petty was starting to charge an astronomical $9.98 for a 40 minute album, the Eagles were reportedly setting the price for their next album at $5 million. When asked who would buy an album at that price, the Eagles (according to the fake article) responded, "We only need one."

On to "Suburban Encyclopedia," which doesn't sound like the Eagles. Or Tom Petty.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ontario Emperor Releases First Half-Length Album in Over Seven Years #relusion

I promised that I wouldn't write a ridiculous press release this time around, but I did want to let everybody know that Ontario Emperor has released a mini-album, "Relusion," as a follow-up to the full-length "Salad" album.


"Relusion" has six songs - not just the three songs "Relusion One," "Relusion Two," and "Relusion Three," but also the twin pieces "Sober Introspection" and "Toxic Rigidity," and the extra song "Suburban Encyclopedia."

I've already talked about "Relusion One" here, but I should probably share a few thoughts about "Suburban Encyclopedia." Yes, it's sort of named after a very popular website, while in essence being in opposition to everything about that site.

And everything about all of the other Ontario Emperor songs that have been released.

From my perspective, I have to worry about the Ontario Emperor songs getting formulaic - four measures of this, four measures of that, chorus! Back, jack, do it again.

So "Suburban Encyclopedia" throws form to the winds (on one level), taking various snippets from the other songs on "Relusion" and throwing them together to pleasure your little treasure (despite my thoughts on that particular Depeche Mode song). The song certainly strays far from verse chorus verse land, but doesn't quite get to ambient territory. Maybe I'll play with that at another time.

Oh, and one more thing about "Suburban Encyclopedia" - it's the "name your price" track on "Relusion," so you can download it for free if you're so inclined. (But I won't pay you to download it. I don't go that far.)

"Relusion" is at Bandcamp, and as before, you can preview the songs a few times before having to buy them. Once you buy them, you get unlimited streaming on bandcamp.com, plus the ability to download them to your favorite device.

Enjoy.



And now that "Relusion" is out of the way, I can return to working on my forthcoming full-length album. As of now, "For a Meaningful Apocryphal Animation" HAS made the cut (I completed it, adding and subtracting as I planned.)

P.S. If you're one of those people who takes the time to follow the links that I embed in my posts, you know how I feel about Waylon Jennings' cover versions. He has another good cover out there.