Recent comments

  • Favorite albums   5 weeks 6 days ago

    It is very lively and cheery but at the same time is about the individual's personal relationship with paradise. The paradise is both of civilization (theatrical entertainment, carnivals, shopping malls, etc.) and of nature (animals and flowers). The cyclops represents the shortsighted and ugly animal but his single eye is also a metaphor for the unified vision of the soul where all these images swim. For a similar sounding album listen to Kevin Ayers's Shooting at the Moon.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   5 weeks 6 days ago

    Re: Agree with him? ... I suggested the possibility in a previous post that we may be arguing semantics and little else but it was ignored. I think the only actual disagreement is he feels the lyrics have more impact than I do, while I feel the vocal performance goes much further towards the overall emotional/conceptual impact than the words being said. From the beginning, Ive stated my position clearly and simply and each time its been twisted and complicated into something else/more than what I said. I wasn't ever even trying to state something that wasn't obvious or that should've even resulted in an argument, and yet, here we are...

    The only other part of the argument was he claimed one would need to read the lyrics to Mother of Virtues to experience it as an 8/10 which I disagreed with. He appeared to take some offense and get more argumentative when I also pointed out that Scaruffi doesn't think so either and included a short exchange on the matter plus his website comments about the lack of importance of lyrics.

    That is the actual totality of it.

  • Favorite albums   5 weeks 6 days ago

    You're a great fan of Cyclops Nuclear Submarine Captain, what do you think of it? I think it's one of the most enjoyable pop albums ever, but it's overlong; some of the songs at the end could be disposed of to make the album a better experience (though these songs aren't bad; they just shouldn't be on this particular release).

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   5 weeks 6 days ago

    Re: "I never even mentioned that I don't think the lyrics improve the vocal performance"...so that means you actually agree with him?

    Also, ignore the "sound"/"emotion" point, it was a way too obvious thing to say.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 1 hour ago

    I have been very clear, but at this point, I have nothing left to assume than you simply don't understand (or maybe are intentionally altering) what Im saying and I'll just leave it at that. Surely there are better things to discuss/argue.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 1 hour ago

    I haven't complicated anything. Re-read my statements if need be. He (and now you) have altered and/or added to what I've said/meant instead of simply receiving what I've said/meant. I never even mentioned that I don't think the lyrics improve the vocal performance, yet that seems to be the majority of his "argument". I mainly said and repeated (however many times and in so many ways) that the performance adds much more to the overall emotional and conceptual content than the lyrics do. This is extremely easy to see and prove (in all forms of music, and in everyday life as well) but it has been complicated beyond belief into all sorts of detours, claims of this and that and basically ... nonsense. This is also extremely easy to prove in different covers/renditions of the same song, each having the exact same lyrics.

    Regarding "sound" having emotion, there is absolutely emotion coming from the performers/performance itself of such sound/music. It is up to the listener to receive it or not, and of course one's experiences and associations can have quite an impact on whether one does so or not.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 1 hour ago

    I think calvinandhobbes has a point tbh: one can easily absorb the meaning of the lyrics in relation to the vocal performance/music, thus making the vocal performance/music more powerful, and then be under the impression that the lyrics ultimately didn't matter because you weren't consciously analyzing their quality. So the confusion here is that the lyrics were essential for an understanding of the music, but at the same time the quality of the lyrics didn't contribute to the rating at all. AfterHours keeps bringing up the "monotonous spoken word" example, but what of the opposite: Van Morrison singing about nonsense that completely contradicts the emotions in his vocals? AH seems to think it wouldn't be that important, but I'm quite sure it would be because it would be like messing with the ecosystem. You can still enjoy the music, but since the lyrics are out-of-place and grating, they will be a problem because instead of guiding towards the emotions in the music, they're an unnecessary nuisance, and thus may even be obscuring the themes of the music and affecting your overall perception. There's no actual emotion in sound itself: you, the listener, are the one who extracts "emotion", whatever that is, from the music, depending upon your past experiences and associations. So if Van Morrison sings about cat food, you would be impressed by his vocals but at the same time be amused because you can't feel the same way about cat food as he does, and you'll probably think that it's just a joke.

    Anyway, the impression I've gotten is that you two have actually the same criteria (that it's not necessary to read lyrics carefully) but are needlessly complicating the argument.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 6 hours ago

    Okay, I'm undecided (only one listen), but will probably give it another shot or two. Curious what Scaruffi ends up thinking whenever he gets around to checking it out.

  • Criteria Used For Evaluating Artistic Merit in Music   6 weeks 6 hours ago

    Yep, agreed. Your article inspired me to finally add a line in mine that mentions the correlation.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 8 hours ago

    You keep running into the same mistakes that I already pointed out in your argument, and that's why it's hopeless. Once again you cannot isolate the lyrics and point to their worthlessness standing alone as proof that they are not worth a lot in the context of the music. And it is obvious from my list that I like music with few or no lyrics, yet you keep bringing up that argument. Obviously music does not need lyrics to be good: look at my list. What makes the conversation hopeless is not our difference but your inability to engage with the difference.

    There would be an enormous drop in Astral Weeks's rating and you would know it if you did not permanently associate the concepts in the lyrics with the way he is singing those lyrics or the way the musicians are playing their instruments. What matters is your final emotional experience (not the one that the singer is strictly suffering himself), and that comes largely from concepts that the singer can't telegraph to you just through dramatic expression alone.

    You must think it is illogical to talk about the lyrics in relation to the music, and that is why you keep trying to isolate them. Let me explain why that is not illogical. Think of a chess game. If I tell someone that I lost because of the opponent's queen, I am suggesting that the queen did something in the context of the game. I am not even suggesting that the queen was powerful. I am not talking about anything about the queen itself or evaluating the queen's merits. Similarly, if I say "I downgraded Songs of Leonard Cohen because of the lyrics," I am not suggesting anything about the lyrics by themselves. I am saying something about the lyrics' function in the context of the music. If the lyrics do not create something great in partnership with the music, then it is the lyrics' fault.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 9 hours ago

    I've already explained my position a few times, simply and concisely. If you're not convinced it doesn't really matter. It is totally okay if you listen differently as long as it works for you. I've never said I didn't listen to the lyrics or that they had no worth. I did say that their emotional impact alone is marginal and that my position is simply: the emotions and concepts of the work are far more prevalent in the expression/performance than they are in the lyrics themselves. One could easily prove this by reading the lyrics of Astral Weeks spoken-word, monotonously, without any attempt to dramatize the words, and with the same musical accompaniment backing that as in the album. And see the rating plummet very lowly. It would suddenly be the worst album of Morrison's career, despite the best lyrical content. This can also be seen very easily in wordless or foreign and many choral vocal performances, and the like, which have no (or marginally) less emotional impact than lyrically understandable ones.

    Morrison's vocal performance is far more singular a voice, nuanced and emotional than any Mariah Carey performance I know of so that comparison doesn't really work, though fundamentally, I agree that there would probably be some lowering of rating if he were dramatizing something completely ridiculous (even though I don't think he could do it in the first place), and I don't think it would be as significant as you seem to.

  • Criteria Used For Evaluating Artistic Merit in Music   6 weeks 10 hours ago

    Yeah just different ways of saying that artists should 1) "say something" using their aesthetic as their language), 2) say it in a compelling way, 3) and also be abstractly compelling (some might value the third one more or less than I do, all else equal). To your point, what I didn't mention is that the first two require an emotional conviction to come across most effectively (even when the concept itself isn't an emotion per se) or at least some sort of "will".

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 10 hours ago

    He's confused then too, most likely about semantics. I'm going to make one last attempt to explain my position and that's it. If I am still wrong and you want to convince me you'll have to provide good arguments (which you haven't done). That email doesn't clarify anything for me; it only confirms your position for you.

    Your fundamental mistake is that you think the song "Astral Weeks" for example has all its emotions embedded in the music. That is only because you have listened to it a gazillion times and long since associated the lyrical content with the music and the singer so that the emotions click without your having to keep track of the lyrics. You have removed the meaning from the lyrics, which were important in the formation of your understanding of the song, and injected them into the recognizable voices. Because it takes longer to process the words than recognize the voices you have come to overrate the voices for their unmistakable resonance. This is also how you think of concepts: you attach emotions to them. For example the concept of "anti-racism" becomes some angry emotion. When you experience racism you feel the emotion which contains the arguments against racism in expedited form. But if the concept created the emotion then the concept should get some credit as well, even if the musical or cinematic language is the one dramatizing it. All you have to do is admit that "Astral Weeks" would be significantly worse if he were dramatizing something completely ridiculous. Then the drama would be empty despite being equally intense, as the drama in a Mariah Carey song is.

    The lyrical themes in Astral Weeks are not embedded in the music or in Morrison's vocals, and they are inherently emotional (not as much by themselves as with the music as a synergistic element). If the different instruments can create an experience greater than the sum of the parts there is no reason why the words and the music can't do the same. Your logical mistake is that you assume that isolating lyrics and then judging them (out of context) proves they are not valuable in the context of the music. Isolating the drums or the strings would also give you squat. Yet they are important as a member of the team. In the context of the music, the entire passage that ends with "To be born again" is emotional in a way that delivering that passage the same way but as "To be dead again" would not be. And what would account for that difference? The lyrics. Furthermore, if the lyrics were about plungers and dirty bathtubs I would not be thinking "Could you find me? ..." at the same time. The music and Morrison's delivery despite being the same would not urge me to think that anymore. The delivery would either naturally shift to conform to the lyrics or stay the same but become ironic: either way it would morph, doing so in relation with the lyrical content.

    People want to answer "no" to the question "Do lyrics matter?" but it's not a fair answer. It's also not a fair question: the question wants to be heard as something like "Should I read the lyrics carefully?" Of course that answer is no.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 10 hours ago

    I also changed my mind about A Umbra Omega. It's off my list, I doubt it'll return.

  • Criteria Used For Evaluating Artistic Merit in Music   6 weeks 10 hours ago

    Thanks for posting this. Its well thought out. Ive been considering adding a bit more about "degree of concept" into my criteria page just to express it as a focal point, however, the degree of conceptual significance seems to only be a byproduct of "expressed emotional conviction" + "ingenuity" so I'm not sure its worth adding as those two seem to be the foundation for everything else.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 15 hours ago

    Not to beat a dead horse, but I got a response from Scaruffi on this today that might be of interest:

    I asked him: "Did the lyrics have any impact on your rating for Mother of Virtues?"

    He responded: "No"

    I also recommended he check out A Umbra Omega (despite my own uncertainty of its merits). It will be interesting to see where he rates it.

  • List of Must-Watch Movies   6 weeks 21 hours ago

    Haven't seen either Khuda Ke Liye or Bol. What did you think of Khuda Ke Liye?

  • Films I've Seen of the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" (11th edition, 2014)   6 weeks 1 day ago

    I did it !!!
    On June 20, 2015 I succeeded in my task having seen all the movies in the book. It took me exactly 7 years and 3 months since I bought my first edition of the book. (Eng. 1st Edition).
    In fact, I had seen about half of the movies already back then.
    So now I can die .... (as the title of the book suggest).
    But because there are annual updates and additions of new movies (and I have decided to see them too) the work will continue, although I have no printed book to follow anymore).

  • 100 Favorite Albums of the 1980s   6 weeks 2 days ago

    Thanks! Yes, Dreamtime Return is one of the great ambient albums, and I agree that it's unappreciated. The album does have a bit of a cheesy 80s new-age sheen that may frighten off some people. But if you look beyond that surface, you'll find some profound, mystical ambient music (especially the tracks Australian Dawn and Looking for Safety, in my opinion).

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 2 days ago

    It was a shaky assertion/supposition at best. If "a lot of the emotion comes from the lyrics" then, you're right, there would be no way it would rate 7.8+. However, after listening to it, I didn't find that to be the case at all (though I'm mid-decision on whether its 7.8+ anyway).

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   6 weeks 2 days ago

    My only point is that it's far more dependent on the emotional/conceptual delivery of the vocal performance, as opposed to the lyrical content. They are not even remotely similar in terms of importance towards the overall emotional/conceptual significance of the work. The concepts and emotional content is largely conveyed by the performance (95-99%?). If one has an album with just spoken-word lyrics, it is going to be awful (unless there are instrumental aspects that are astonishing or something, then that might make up for much of it). If one has an album where the vocals are wordless -- purely vocals (without any lyrics) -- it can still be one of the greatest of all time, such as Pavilion of Dreams. This also holds up in gazillions of classical choral/opera works, mostly in foreign languages, where one absolutely does not have to understand the lyrics.

    If you agree with this, then I guess we're disagreeing about semantics and little else. Although, a point you mentioned that would contradict that would be your statement about not being able to experience Mother of Virtues as an 8/10 without reading the lyrics, which of course, we'll have to agree to disagree on.

    Regarding your straw man assertions, it's a nice stretch but you're mostly putting words into my mouth and either ignoring or misunderstanding the point.

  • MY FAVOURITE WORKS OF ART   6 weeks 3 days ago

    Great interpretation by Sviatoslav. The piece? It sums up my ambivalent sentiment for Schubert. Probably the best gifted tune writer along with Mozart but quite repetitive at the long distance. It's a very Schumann-like piece. Harmonically quite inconsistent, full of arpeggios and redundant moments.
    Bach only once fell once on this territory, with his Chromatic Fantasy, one of the less consistent work by the greatest composer of all time.
    Anyway, Richter made this listening a marvel. Thanks for sharing it.

  • MY FAVOURITE WORKS OF ART   6 weeks 3 days ago

    What's your opinion on Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy? Here is a great recording by Sviatoslav Richter:
    https://youtu.be/OJQQ0fPemaE

  • Criteria Used For Evaluating Artistic Merit in Music   6 weeks 3 days ago

    I have been updating my album rankings to better reflect these concepts and will post them in one fell swoop.

  • 100 Favorite Albums of the 1980s   6 weeks 3 days ago

    Another really good list, will have to revisit some of these. Glad to see Dreamtome Return so high, it's a truly spellbinding album that often goes unappreciated.