Tuning In: About Tuning Into The Obscure + Contact info and Submissions


We’re moving! Our contact info is changing!

We’ve had a lot of delays here at Tuning Into The Obscure and searching for a new place to call home was a major factor.

This move goes into effect November 1st, 2016.  Please email for updated contact info!


Scroll down for new content.

And now, the obligatory front page bio stuff and contact info….

Over the past few years, I’ve been on a mission to find the best music on the planet, whether it be old, new, well known, obscure, underground or mainstream, or completely unknown previously. I started this project on an older, more personal blog but eventually figured it’d be easier to post all the music stuff here.

So here, you’ll find reviews on a variety of genres as well as interviews with artists and labels, spotlights on musical history, band previews and other various ramblings. Occasionally, I may even slip in some bits of my own music.

Submissions and Contact Info:

If you’re an artist/in a band or are a small label with some music you think the world should hear, contact me! Seriously, send me some tunes! Submissions are always welcome in all physical formats (please note that until further notice, digital downloads cannot be accepted due to tech issues). All genres are fair game.

Contact: lonelyfox_music@yahoo.com

Twitter: @Hound_of_Music

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Some Spring Electronic Jams

Paneye – Desertism – Provenance

After what felt like a long silence after his previous release, Paneye returns with a new cassette/digital LP via Provenance. What’s showcased here is nothing short of what I was hoping for: a blending of acoustics, ambient and lo-fi all stirred smoothly together.  Right away, it’s quite captivating; showcasing expert production and instrumentation/effects, even songwriting.  Right away, I’m thinking of a more ambient Jose Gonzalez, only better.   That speaks volumes.  I feel like with each Paneye release, the sound and style matures and evolves.  It’s stunning to hear.  Preorder your copy ASAP!  (5 out of 5)

DJ Food/Stricktly Kev – Music on a Shoestring – Psychonavigation

A massive mixture of the best ambient tracks from the label itself, ranging from FSOL, Spacetime Continuum, Off Land, New Composers/Brian Eno, Lorenzo Montana, and tons more. This is one fine, chilled, thought provoking mix drifting all over the ambient spectrum, hitting every spot in between.  Basically, take everything you’ve loved from the label, toss in a few extra tracks, let one of the most prolific and talented DJs mix it all up, and you have yourself one nice trip.  It’s like am ambient fan’s love letter.  Perfect!  (5 out of 5)

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The Long Awaited Showcase for Saint Marie Records


This’ll be one of many catch-up posts that’ll be coming. You can thank a series of reasons for this, including broken toes, five jobs, being poor and starving, and working on various wildlife education projects for two different research/conservation groups…   So while it may take a while, there will be more posts coming. So for now, let’s catch up on twelve releases from Saint Marie Records.  This will also serve as my personal introduction to the label.

Blindness – Wrapped in Plastic

A darker sound indeed. By all accounts, this is the debut LP from the all female indie rock band.  They offer up a supreme mixture of darker rock with elements of electronic, shoegaze, blues and maybe a dash of goth.  Think Siouxsie and the Banshees meets a darker Eurhymthics.  There’s no part of that I don’t like.  Melodic!  The songs here are haunting, catchy and beautiful. Lyrically, this is a fine set.  I was kind of surprised to hear such a strong debut. This is really worth picking up!  (4.8 out of 5)

Bloody Knives – I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This

Loud and wonderfully distorted electro/rock/shoegaze is infused with lyrical floods, half submerged in static and echo, like a shimmering psyche gem that’s been melted down by angst and heartache. That about sums up this wild album from start to finish.  Its sound matches its cover art: if ever there was a soundtrack for a burning flower, this would be it. This is their second release for this label, I believe, and I can see why they have a following.  There’s such a force behind their sound! Only eight tracks appear here but each is strong, bright and intense.  Think M83 at their loudest and most distorted meeting up with Primal Scream at their most psyche, finishing off with a dose of blissed out darkness. Prime! (4.8 out of 5)

The Blessed Ilse – Straining Hard Against the Strength of Night

This is the band’s debut LP, following on the heels of a few singles. Relaxed toned vocals swim gently through the sea of slightly distorted shoegaze, bringing a forest of buzzing guitars and light electronics to life, intertwining them with light bits of pop rock, jangle and indie rock.  I think I could draw closer comparisons here to M83 or something off of Jigsaw if they wen a bit more electronic in their jangle…  At any rate, this is rather engaging and fans who have been waiting for this over the last five years will be quite pleased.  (4.8 out of 5)

Jeff Runnings – Primitives and Smalls

The man being For Against debuts an album of solo material, blending post rock with shoegaze with elements of ambient, dreampop, dark pop, and very subtle hints of early goth.   The opening track is certainly a strong choice, showcasing his knack for creating melodic, hypnotic and dreamy darkness. This tone and genre mixture continue to stay strong through the album as a whole, perhaps a bit more melodic in some spots than others.  I did like that instrumental: a nice surprise in the middle of things.  I’ll admit, overall, the melodic vocals drew me in, especially on “Premium,” which is only the half way point of the album.  Sold.  Fans of his other works will be  happy with this. I know I was. (4.8 out of 5)

Deardarkhead – Strange Weather

A rare reemergence of a band that’s been around since 1988! Leaning on post rock and shoegaze mainly, I can also pick up hints of new wave, psyche and electro-rock. This album is made up entirely of instrumentals, a first out of my pile of albums from this label thus far.  Think Ozric Tentacles meets the Cure with dashes of psyche and a lot more shoegaze… this is what you’d get.  And really, it’s pretty good.  Certainly a surprise.  (4.7 out of 5)

The High Violets – Heroes and Halos

I noticed about three CDs into my stack that this label sure likes its shoegaze. This album leans into that genre as well but does not rely so much on distortion in its sound.  Powered more by clearer and refined synth, guitars and strings, this album puts more focus on the vocals and lyrics as they seem to be way out front as opposed to hiding within the layers of sound that some of the other LPs tended to do. Again, not knocking on that, but this one is different in that respect.  It’s gentler but does not lack in power.  It feels like Ladytron met up with Mandolay and mellowed way, way out and made this incredible gem together.  Just stunning.  (5 out of 5)

SPC ECO – Dark Matter

It’s pronounced Space Echo. Moving on.  This project features Dean Garcia of Curve fame (among numerous other projects), and Rose Berlin, his daughter.  This album was described as a trip hop album, which kind of excited me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had anything new from that genre land in my pile.  I’d also say that the music dabbles a bit in downtempo in parts but that’s not the main focus.  The collaborative effort of father and daughter here is dazzling… well, as dazzling as trip hop can be. It’s a gentle genre as far as sound goes with the power coming from the audio textures, vocals/lyrics and of course, that relentlessly steady yet slow beat.  I am picking up traces of Portishead, Sneaker Pimps and a slew of others but this album comes out on top as fresh, modern, new and something we should be paying attention to.  The duo play a bit with autotune and some vocoders, but they largely leave the vocals untouched, letting them shine through, only adding texturings or other techniques if it fits the track.  And I think that is what makes me so excited about this. Well, that and the vocal/lyric work.  This isn’t “just another female vocal trip hop album” that we’re dealing with.  This is new and yet somewhat familiar in all the right ways.  You will not be disappointed.  (4.9 out of 5)

Thee Koukouvaya – This is the Mythology of Modern Death

We move into more ambient/IDM territory here. And I am digging it.  This album leaps and zips in many different directions without losing any cohesion between tracks.  And the fact that things can jump from ambient one track to something experimental and yet dance oriented is rather intriguing.  Nothing is compromised here.  Lush and energetic synth meet up with soundscapes and well-constructed beats to create wild yet controlled experiments of sound, depth and deep subconscious rhythm.  I really can’t compare this to much of anything really; this is fairly unique and a nice surprise to come out of my massive pile of discs from this label. (4.9 out of 5)

Presents for Sally – Colours and Changes

Moving back into the indie rock/shoegaze world, here comes this three piece band from the UK.  The sound here, compared to the other albums I’ve reviewed from this label so far, is fairly mild. I mean that in the best way possible.  Where many of the other albums were also shoegaze, they also delved into noisier domains, branching into noise pop or experimental or even a bit into goth.  This album seems to stay a short distance away from the noise pop style but keeps its roots firmly in shoegaze.  Vocal duties are split amongst members, which is kind of nice.  The tracks themselves are neatly constructed, lyrically sound, forcing me to find nothing too big to really complain about…. The vocals could have been brought a bit closer to the surface but maybe I’m just being nitpicky.  Have I used the word “catchy” yet?  It’s kinda catchy. It feels like it’s been a while since I could say that.  Again, it’s difficult to draw too many comparisons to this one but I’d say that if you like shoegaze or any of the other albums from this label, you will no doubt enjoy this one.  (4.7 out of 5)

Snow In Mexico – Juno Beach

A short four track EP of the gentler side of shoegaze.  It feels like this EP relies a bit more on atmospheres constructed of synth and simplistic beats to create its sound, a hazy one though it is.  And I’m actually really liking this one.  Just when I thought I was burning out on the genre, this kind of rekindled my enjoyment of it.  This little EP works well as an intro to the modern form of the genre and for the band itself.  Very nice! (4.9 out of 5)

Static Daydream – s/t

Shoegaze but building more on vocal harmonies… I guess this is what it might be like if the Vaselines went shoegaze. Like the other albums here, this one tends to lean more into the electronics… I am guessing that this is what the genre evolved into since its early days. I really need to pay more attention.  I find the sound her a bit more accessible and less noise oriented than some of the other CDs I’ve played lately.  It still haz that nice, hazy vibe to it, which is always a good thing in my book.  And as an added bonus, the band doesn’t settle on slower tempos, which gives this an extra boost of energy in spots.  Rock on!  Nice album altogether.  (4.8 out of 5)


Mark Van Hoen – Nightvision

You read that right, the guy from Locust and Seefeel releases this new album of ambient-ish music. I would, at first listen, describe these tracks as moody, perhaps touching a bit at times at the shoegaze attitude but branching into darker, more composed works… something I might hear on a soundtrack to a horror themed video game.  And that’s not a bad thing.  Dark, almost drone styled atmospheres come to live with brilliantly composed melodies, gentle haunting beats and a plethora of odd sounds.  The synth and instrumentation itself is fairly unique, going out of the realm of what I typically hear on ambient records and diving more into its own uncharted direction.  And I swear those reversed vocal samples sound familiar…  Anyway, the album as a whole is pretty good.  It does venture into lighter patches so it’s not dark for too long.  Fans of Van Hoen’s moodier work will be quite excited by this.  Hell, even if you’re just curious, pick this up.  I actually quite liked this. (4.9 out of 5)

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My Top Five and Over All Top 40 WBER Picks


90.5 FM WBER (The only station that matters) broadcasts out of the Rochester, NY area with a very indie format, solely operating through listener support. Over the last month or so, they opened up a huge voter poll, asking listeners to pick their top five artists that were played on the station that have impacted the lives of the listeners in any way, shape or form.  The results would be tallied and the top 90 ½ (coz it’s 90.5 FM…get it?) and on Friday, April 29th, the results were broadcast as part of the annual station fundraiser.  I voted for my top five a few days prior and was happy to see that each artist/band made it somewhere on the countdown and that I wasn’t alone in having these bands mean something.

So, as many of the DJs and listeners had done on their respective FB pages, I will post the top five I voted for and tie that in with the top 40 artists that I either discovered through the station, or had grown a deeper appreciation for thanks to a wider variety of songs aired.

  1. Sisters of Mercy
    1. Prior to hearing some of their tracks on WBER, I had only a vague sense of who they were. I got a nice taste of their sound through songs like “This Corrosion,” “More,” and on one occasion, their cover of “Give Me Shelter.”
  2. The Smiths
    1. Believe it or not, no station I had listen to prior had EVER played them. I can’t say enough about their unique writing.
  3. REM
    1. Yes, who hasn’t heard of them? Most other stations play through a set of five of their songs whereas I think I’ve heard at least 25 more through WBER spanning their entire career.
  4. Nirvana
    1. I owned nearly their entire discography prior to finding WBER but again, it comes down to variety of songs played. I’ve heard more b-sides, deeper cuts and demos on this station than anywhere else.
  5. Kraftwerk
    1. This is the only station that has played “Autobahn” in its entirety on a regular basis. Plus, jamming out to “Pocket Calculator” and tracks off of The Mix and Computer World helped.

And now for the  remaining top 35 picks:

  1. Joy Division
    1. Shocking yet again that this was the first place I heard them. Where have I been?
  2. Portishead
    1. Knew of them vaguely but got into them with the wide array of tracks played here.
  3. Duran Duran
    1. Obviously unavoidable elsewhere but Jenifer V gave me a new appreciation for them on her WBER show, New Wave Wednesday
    1. I only heard a track here and there prior to WBER. Now they’re helping me find my mind…… where is my mind?
  5. MC Lars
    1. The first track I heard from this guy was “Space Game” and my inner geek exploded. Thank you!
  6. King Missle
    1. “Sensitive Artist” makes me laugh the hardest
  7. Laurie Anderson
    1. WBER played “O Superman” one day and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Been a fan ever since.
  8. Thomas Dolby
    1. Again who hasn’t heard of this guy? But “One of Our Submarines” was awesome.
  9. Tears for Fears
    1. Again, thanks to Jenifer V for playing a wider range of their music than just what the other stations played.
  10. Underworld
    1. I’m still on the fence on which labum of their’s I should by so I’ve stuck to singles that I’ve heard only on this station
  11. Blue Clocks Green
    1. The first tongue in cheek songs I’ve heard about Hemmingway. Well, really the first song period.
  12. TV on the Radio
    1. “Wolf Like Me” was my first introduction and I’ve been hooked since.
  13. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    1. Talk about a wide range of sound from this band. Thanks for introducing them to me.
  14. Dirty Little Rabbits
    1. Yeah, so what if I only know one song? I love “Hello” and will scream along with it every time I hear it.
  15. Snake River Conspiracy
    1. “Vulcan” was freakin awesome.
  16. Justice
    1. “Waters of Nazareth” and everything since.
  17. KMFDM
    1. Knew a bit about the band (and its ever changing lineup) but heard the most of their discography through WBER.
  18. Iron and Wine
    1. Again, no other station really played all that much of them in my area.
  19. Fleet Foxes
    1. I bought the album on a whim and not long after, I was hearing quite a few tracks getting air play.
  20. Ministry
    1. Outside of a specialty show that used to play out in St. Paul, WBER was the only place I could get my fix.
  21. Poe
    1. Right? Discovered her through WBER
  22. Splashdown
    1. “Iron Spy”
  23. Wolfmother
    1. “Woman” was the first single I heard and I’ve been quietly following afterward.
  24. The Heavy
    1. “Big Bad Wolf” with its mix of electronic mayhem, wild vocals and funk is now a standard for me.
  25. 1000 Homo DJs
    1. A DJ spun “Supernaut” late at night while I was coming home from work but wouldn’t give out the name of the artist over the airwaves. A quick google search gave me the answer. I had been curious about this Ministry side project for a while and shortly after hearing this, I bought their only EP.
  26. Panda Bear
    1. “Come to Your Senses” is indescribable.
  27. Wall of Voodoo / Stan Ridgway
    1. Discovered both the band and the frontman’s solo stuff at exactly the same time. JUST DRIVE!
  28. The Orb
    1. I had a few of their albums previously but WBER played some cuts from their debut, their live album and hearing those always makes me happy.
  29. Orbital
    1. Almost a tie with Orb for the same reasons. “Halcyon” is just great.
  30. Junip / Jose Gonzalez
    1. Again, kind of found both the band and its frontman at the same time. His cover of “Tear Drop” is stunning and Junip’s songs are amazing.
  31. Soul Coughing
    1. “Busting up a Starbucks” clued me into to their style. Hooked ever since
  32. Chemical Brothers
    1. I owned I think 15 releases from this band before I found that WBER was spinning them regularly and would always showcase their newest material.
  33. Aphex Twin
    1. I had a few EPs and LPs before but first hearing “Windowlicker” in roation was incredible to me. I mean, APHEX TWIN IS ON THE RADIO!
  34. Propeller heads
    1. I knew of this band for a long time and friends owned the LP but I didn’t pay much attention until it got some play on WBEr and was used as intro music for a certain DJ.
  35. RJD2
    1. Actually, for the same reasons at the aforementioned band!

I really could go farther, maybe moving into a top 100 list. It’s amazing how just one radio station can be life changing, musically speaking, and shape my likes, dislikes and even shape the way my own music sounds.

If you decide to t une in or drop by their live stream, check out a few of thei specialty shows:

New wave Wednesday – Wednesday mornings from 6 to 9

Elektrobank on Saturday evenings, usually starting at 9 – very cutting edge!

First Impressions, which showcases the newest music of literally every genre.

And of course, scope out ANY of the DJs on air at any point of the day.

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What’s the Deal with Five Nights at Freddy’s?


So by now, I’m sure everyone on this planet has at least heard of the viral game sensation that is the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, created by Scott Cawthon via his own one-man development company, Scott Games.  So far, four games make up this indie franchise (five if you count FNAF World) and all have found major success despite being a download game via Steam.  So why is this such a big deal?

First of all, you can thank the Internet. Word of mouth travels so much faster these days thanks to social media. Imagine a game like this trying to take off in the 1980s.  It’d take a lot longer, obviously, especially for an indie game.

Secondly, the premise of the game itself. While it’s rather simple (jump scares, pattern finding, etc…), there’s a lot more going on in the games than one would think. I’ll get into this a bit more later on.  And thirdly, the mystery that surrounds it.

The Basic Idea:

So, the general idea behind the first game is that you’re a security guard working nights at a Chuck E Cheese type pizzeria. There are animatronic animal mascot characters and you find right away that things aren’t at all happy and fun at this place at night.  The mascots come to life and start sneaking around and try to kill you. You cannot leave your office and only have a few cameras, lights, door switches and a limited use of power to protect you, which can all fail at any point.  Once they fail or you screw up the pattern that keeps the characters at bay, you’re dead, mauled by the bear, fox , bunny or chicken. And each night you live, you’re greeted by another phone call (fans dubbed this character “Phone Guy”) and clues start to surface as to the danger you’re in, what might be causing this and other subtle hints. However, not much is revealed and you’re left to speculate and fill in the blanks with very hidden details.  Survive the first five nights and things really get crazy on night six and seven.

Game 2 and 3:

The mysteries of first game get a few answers in game two, which rather subtly is revealed to be a prequel half way through play. It gets weirder, though.  There are more animatronics, more mysterious chaos going on and Atari-styled 8bit games that appear when you beat a level that gently give you clues as to what is making the characters evil.  The third game goes a bit further, taking place thirty years from the original game, in which you are a guard at a horror attraction based on the terrifying happenings at the original pizzerias.  Things get out of control rather quickly as your boss discovers an original animatronic and original training/message audio tapes from the restaurant.  Again, there are mini games to play upon completion of the level, but thanks to some EXTREMELY hidden clues, you can purposefully glitch a game and find the “true” ending.  Yes, the game is designed to let you do this, but figuring out how isn’t very straight forward, and the various Lets-Players I frequent on YouTube have all had to research the hell out of this to find out how to do it correctly.

Game 4:

We’re back in the past, most likely in 1987. This time, you’re a small child alone in a dark bedroom at night, armed with a flashlight.  You’re terrified of what lurks outside the doors and what is in your closet.  To make things worse, your older brother and his friends torment you mercilessly, scaring the crap out of you during the day whilst wearing masks of the FNAF characters.  This game relies MUCH more on listening/sound cues as to when you should shut a door, open one, or peak at what’s crawling onto your bed or trying to leap out of your closet.  This one for me was a lot more unsettling because the sounds are so subtle, so soft and one mistake kills you.  Slowly, thanks to subtle visual cues around the bedroom and revelations and text from the mini games, things start to make sense.  Hell, this game actually made me sad at its conclusion.  “Perhaps some things are best left forgotten”.

So why is that a big deal?

Well, partly it is the minimalistic storytelling. You only get dialogue from the Phone Guy in the form of a voicemail, and he’s not very up front about anything.  Secondly, the tension the game creates as you frantically try to figure out where these characters are in the building as they come to life.  It really starts to get to you.  You know they’re coming but you only have a few audio clues as to their location.  Your cameras can only give you so much warning and if you miss a cue, you’re a goner, AND you only have so much power and once you’re out of it OR your lights or the doors break, you’re screwed.  Thirdly, the clues given in the mini-games reveal murders, possession and other horrifying details that are causing what’s occurring. Some clues are subtle and others are blatant.  Lastly, it’s just a creepy feeling you get when you play. The atmosphere is morbid, the ambience is dark and frightening and while the game play is simple, it’s a race against time and relentless attacks.

The Unexpected Success:

I had first heard about this through my girlfriend. I work 4am shifts certain days of the week so I’m in bed early so she sometimes watches online Lets-plays while I loudly snore in the bedroom.  So, one night, she had stumbled onto the first game of the series and just had to show me (and explain why she was screaming and throwing her phone away in terror all night).  I was skeptical, but upon watching the Steam Train (Game Grumps) and Markiplier’s playthrough, I was quite impressed by every aspect of this game.  It was simple, but it was captivating.  The minimalist storytelling and the whole question of “why?” as the clues slowly appeared kept me hooked.

It was thrilling being blown away as news/clues of a new game would get released, coming out merely as small, often hidden clues on Scott’s webpage. Some of which were only visible if you manipulated to colors of the photo or even accessed to coding thereof.  All of this was intentional, something I had never seen a developer do for their own advertising to this extent.  Between that and the spooky artwork that’d be posted, often without warning, I couldn’t help but to hang on to every detail.  It was exciting and video games don’t normally get me –this- excited.  And for an indie game to generate this much buzz was even more exciting.

And as each subsequent game got released, we were glued to Markiplier and 8-Bit Gaming’s channels to see, re-watch and dive into in depth theory analysis on every terrifying detail. And the fourth game, while just as scary, really made us sad at the end.  And with rumors of a 5th cannon game on the way,  I am eager to look back on the games and brush up on the story.

My Reaction as an Ambient Music Junkie:

While the idea of a game using sounds as a cue isn’t new, I felt that the way Scott used it was unique. It was, at times, your only clue to avoid a terrifying death in the jaws and claws of an evil animatronic mascot.  In fact, as each game progressed, the atmosphere and sounds would thicken, in a way.  Foxy would sing, Freddy would laugh, Balloon Boy would laugh/talk, and a plethora of other clattering, static, footsteps and poundings would echo through the halls, and nothing is more frightening in that universe than nonliving things coming after you and the player having an extremely limited means to avoid them, to tell where they are and protecting yourself.  Listening to all of that through headphones is chilling.  I really admire the thought and simplicity of it all.  Normally, a slowed down laugh or reversed speech would make me laugh because I have used a lot of that in my own sound recordings but here, it’s oddly morbid.

My personal favorite usage of sound was in the mini games of the second installment. In true old school 8-bit fashion, a digitized voice calls out letters.  Although hard to understand at times because it was meant to be vintage technology, they spell out words and phrases integral to the plot.  I am sure this isn’t the first game to do this but for me, that impressed the hell out of me.  It added a whole new creep factor in to boot.

Moving On:

While the reaction to the revelations and conclusions on the fourth (and supposedly the final game) were mixed, with some fans rejoicing and others revolting, I have to say I’m satisfied. Yes, there may be a few questions here and there left unanswered but, honestly, I’m ok with that.  Watching the fanbase react the way they did is something interesting onto itself, for me, anyway.  Scott did seem to enjoy watching gamers and game theorists take apart the game and storyline bit by bit to find the carefully hidden clues he had painstakingly put in and I could tell his frustration when some folks didn’t get or want to accept the ending for the fourth game.  Despite all that, I am glad to see Scott returning with a 5th installment to the series, taking place at a sister location that was referenced in several of the previous games.  That in itself has me genuinely curious.  By now, we have nearly all the answers to what happened at the main franchises and why things were the way they were.  It’ll be cool to get the scoop on what was going on at a place we had never seen but had only heard about in the messages Phone Guy left us.

So, thank you, Scott Cawthon. Seriously.  I am glad to see you’re still creating and coming out with something that I have no doubt will be quite an experience.

Play and buy all four FNAF games on Steam via Scott Games.

Watch Markiplier’s Playthroughs  for all four games (plus some animated clips, comedy spoofs and a playthrough with Jack Black) here!

Check out in depth theories by The Game Theorists, something Scott at times comments on.

And check out 8-Bit Gaming’s playthroughs and theories as well.



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An Animated Star Fox? Star Fox Zero vs. A Fox in Space


–Yes, I decided to write about video games and animated series. Don’t fret.  Your music will return soon.

If you’re near my age, you most likely grew up on some of the older video game systems, including the various older Nintendo systems. And, if you’re my age, you might recall some of the licensed TV shows that spawned out of some of Nintendo’s games.  They weren’t the greatest but I’ll admit that when some of them popped up on Netflix/Hulu over the last five years, it was a lot of fun to invent drinking games to go along with them.  Now, with the new Star Fox game out, two new animated incarnations of the world’s favorite space vulpine have emerged; one an official Nintendo promotional cartoon of sorts and the other a crowd-funded project that goes in a very different direction.

So which one should you watch and which one deserves to actually continue on as a series?

Perhaps both, in my opinion, and here’s why.

Let’s look at Nintendo’s “The Battle Begins” incarnation. You can tell at first glance that there’s a distinct lack of cheesiness here.  This isn’t the Super Mario Brothers Super Show (but my God that was a good time); there’s an actual budget here, a greater production value and it followed the game and Nintendo Power story lines rather faithfully, which kind of surprised me.  Maybe I’m too much of a cynic but I was kind of glad I wasn’t seeing another “excuse me, princess.”

The style here is anime, a very shiny kid friendly anime that seems to avoid most of the stereotypes kid-anime suffers from (cheap effects, run of the mill production, lackluster voice acting, etc…) and they make it more cinematic. The writing at times could have been better but really, it’s not bad.  It at least tries to not patronize its audience, regardless of their age. Will I watch it?  Maybe out of curiousity and the fact that I kind of wish that something of this quality would have been around when I was young.  Will it actually get to be an ongoing series?  No idea.  As far as I know, it’s merely a promotional episode but a lot of fans young and old would like to see it happen.

Now let’s examine “A Fox in Space,” the fan made episode.

This is a grittier, darker, more mature version, and by that, I don’t mean it’s a furry’s wet dream but rather, it’s a more Adult Swim styled show, full of well-crafted dialogue, 80s sci-fi style choices, jazzy-Cowboy Bebop-esque hints, and it comes off feeling like a cross between a noir anime, Home Movies Heavy Metal and Star Fox. With gritty voice acting, stylized animation, thought-out soundtrack, and decent writing, I feel like I could get into this.  It references the Nintendo Power comic a lot more than “The Battle Begins” and I even would argue that the characters are a lot more believable in their personalities.  And yet, they boldly take the story in a different direction rather than sticking solely to the plot line of the previous games.  Seeing Fox in a sit down meeting between Wolf and Andros in a dingy bar with a nice mixture of humor and tension is not something I expected to see but found that I actually really enjoyed.

So, in a word, yes, I’d like to see more of this rather than Nintendo’s version simply because it’s not watered down and it feels like it was directed to older fans who were looking for something different. And so long as Nintendo doesn’t pull its usual bullshit and try to tear it down over copyright claims, I hope to see more episodes soon.  In all honesty, Nintendo should be flattered there are quality fan-made projects like this that aren’t yiffy, for a change.

And here’s hoping it doesn’t turn out that way if it goes on…

Watch Nintendo’s “THE BATTLE BEGINS” here.

Watch “A FOX IN SPACE” here.

My final thought is Nintendo should pursue making a Star Fox animated series IF and only if they put as much effort into it as they did with this promo episode.  It would certainly bring in more fans to the Star Fox franchise and give some of the current fans something cool to go along with the game.  But, just don’t turn it into a carbon copy of the games; be adventurous.  Go into new directions in that universe while still being cannon.  Show people something new.  Hell, maybe even go so far as to make a game down the line  based on the series itself.


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New mixture from TCE …. again

Keith and I have been busy trying to put things together for new releases. He’s created some wonderfully dark ambient/sound collage tracks, most of which I’ve posted on our bandcamp page.  The first released I stuck under the album “Voices From Beyond Time and Space” and the newest one is “Space v1”  Both of these are under our TCE project despite being vastly more ambient than our usual plunderphonic styled stuff.

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A New EP by TCE

Keith did most of this.  I did the last track.

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Of Oz The Wizard

Have you ever wondered what it might sound like if you took the dialogue from a film, cut it up into little pieces, and arranged it so that every word of it was put in alphabetical order? I bet the majority of you never once thought that. But someone out there did and turned The Wizard of Oz into a restructured alphabetical work.

I give you Of Oz The Wizard

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/150423718″>Of Oz the Wizard</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/mattbucy”>Matt Bucy</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Essentially, this is just a gigantic YouTube Poop, a video and sound collage of sorts, but for some of us who are sound junkies and fans of the spoken word, this is a little more than that.

Every word has been pulled out of its original context and placed into its proper spot in order, making this an almost two hour long word fest. There is something quite amusing about hearing it laid out this way. Taking a masterpiece, breaking into its smallest pieces and then reconstructing it is sort of an art form onto itself. Look at mosaics, collages and even remixes. They were all something else before getting rebuilt into something new.

Words by themselves only have the most basic of meanings and most times rely on other words arranged around them in a specific way to give a larger meaning. In this video, that’s gone out the window.  For some reason, that fascinates me.  Maybe I’m weird, I don’t know.  Maybe you’ll get a laugh out of this as well. I sure did.

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Movie Review: Krampus

Everyone is writing about Star Wars, but I won’t. Sure, I’ll see it, but not right now. Fpr the second movie review for this blog that’s about music, I’m taking a look at a holiday film.

Yes, I know, I’m scared, too.

I went to see Krampus with some friends the other night. I knew a few things going in.  Firstly, some of the cast were comedians, and secondly, this was a horror film.  Most of those who know me often notice notes of cynicism around this time of year.  I dislike nearly all holiday music (blame my various jobs for that), I don’t like shopping, and I feel like a lot of people out there turn into wild, rabid monsters around Christmas while in the stores, on the roads and even at places I like to eat.  So I leaped at the chance to see a film based on the folklore of one particular creature who hates it when people acting like jackasses around the holidays and would rather drag them to hell than give them a gift.

The Film’s Plot: SPOILERS!

It opens with a fairly accurate scene of how the shops are around the holidays: epic chaos with fist fights, trampling, etc… and it pans into one of the members of the main cast, Max (Emjay Anthony), who is dressed as a reindeer at a Christmas play, getting punched about by one of the wise men. We follow Max over to her grandmother’s house as we learn that the fight broke out over Santa-bashing.  Max is one of those stern believers of not only St. Nick, but of the holiday spirit as well.

Max is accompanied by his parents and grumpy older sister and is soon joined by his mother’s sister’s family, a sort of loud, gun wielding pack of nut jobs, minus most of the stereotypes I was expecting. At any rate, no one really is getting along at all and the tension builds to a climax when Max’s cousins shame him at the dinner table for writing a rather heartfelt letter to Santa, asking more for family harmony than material wants, which ironically, leads to a brawl. Max, beaten, announces that he hates the entirely family as well as Christmas and that’s when things get crazy.

A blizzard sets in, Grandma (Krista Stadler) starts to stay silent, speaking occasionally in German, and staying very close to the roaring fireplace. As the power goes out, Max’s sister, Beth, loses contact with her boyfriend and goes out into the blizzard to try to reach his house and this is when we first see Krampus.  Mind you, we aren’t too far into the film yet.  And one can argue whether showing off your monster too early or too late in the film is good or bad, but in this case, it’s perfect.

Krampus looks very close to how he is depicted in some of the folktales I’ve heard and closely resembles some of the artwork I’ve seen. To say he’s a nightmare I would never want to meat in real life is putting it lightly.  The use of both practical and digital affects to bring this character to life is nothing short of stunning.

Needless to say, we get a very intense chase seen and long story short, no more Beth. She’s searched for as the storm intensifies by her father and uncle and both of them quickly realize that something sinister is going on out there. Being chased by a few underground snow monster things and having their car explode might have helped them get to that conclusion. Back at Grandma’s house, they board up the place and bunker down, again, all the while, Grandma is sitting nervously by the fire, keeping it hot and roaring.

After a sneak attack once the fire dies down in the night and the cartoony yet terrifying way the youngest cousin gets torn from the group, Grandma finally tells the frightened family about Krampus, the taker of the wicked in times of hopelessness and how she met him once as a young girl in a tiny village in Germany. This is told through a gorgeous animated sequence (dark, but so well done).  Basically, the idea behind Krampus is if you lose hope and become angry and bitter, wishing that everyone around you was gone, you’d get your wish, in the worst possible way.

This is met mostly with disbelief and yet, rather than the family unraveling, they start banding together. This is where this film breaks away from typical horror flicks as usually at this point in the film, sharp difference and dislikes are suddenly points of heated hatred and usually end up with fights, betrayals and a general splintering of the group. Here, despite everything, they get closer, and it’s not done in a heavy handed way.  In fact, it’s shown rather than told, and that’s what stood out to me.

Anyway, Krampus sends his “helpers” into the house to start picking off the family. This is made up of hilariously evil gingerbread people, nightmarish toys (mostly very surreal puppets and costumed actors) and elves. Yes, elves… the most nightmarish, otherworldly elves. And they succeed in taking a few more of the kids and even the aunt. And just as the remains of the famil make a run for it, hoping to reach a snowplow they found abandoned earlier on in the film, all are taken down by the creatures except Max.

Max at this point remembers his Grandmother’s story about her being the only child left with Krampus came to visit her and decides to make a sacrifice, something that is partly behind the true nature of the holidays. So we have a showdown of sorts between Max and Krampus as he comes upon their camp on the edge of the neighborhood. Max begs for forgiveness and to take the place of his family – we get a wonderful close up look at most of the creatures and Krampus… awesome—.  But Krampus drops him into a giant pit of lava anyway, laughing.

Spoilers! It’s was a dream! No, actually it wasn’t. Max does awake in bed Christmas morning and his family is downstairs by the tree, acting like their old selves as if nothing had happened…. Until Max opens his gift and it turns out to be a bell with Krampus’s name on it.  As he holds it, everyone around him suddenly remembers what had happened the night before….  They sit in silence as the camera pans back,  back, back…. And the house is within a snow globe among hundreds of other snow globes in a dark, messy house that seemingly mirrors Santa’s workshop in the worst way possible.  One last jump scare and the film is complete.

My Reaction:

Much to my surprise, I really liked this film. I’m picky about horror films as they tend to be pretty generic with the good ones being hard to find and I’m really not the holiday film type (very few exceptions) and yet this film, which in a sense is both a holiday film and a horror film, made me love it. Here’s why:

This is a film faithfully based off of real folklore. The appearance and behavior of Krampus stayed truthful to the source material in a modern setting.  The message of the film, which was simply that the true meaning of Christmas was hope, love and sacrifice, was portrayed well without being heavy handed or preachy.  The mixture of comedy and horror was so well done by the writers, actors and filmmakers as a whole that I felt everything was well balanced, well thought out and it wasn’t afraid to make you laugh as well as scare you. In fact, I thought the scary parts were fun. Heck, even the cinematography in this film was stunning… the usage of angles, slow spins, close ups and distance shots really helped convey a rich atmosphere if terror, darkness, shadows, and yet, still made us laugh.

Should You See This Film?

While horror and holiday films both have a very broad and yet oddly niche audience, but this I’m finding fans of both love this movie.  It’s definitely not a kid’s film by any means unless you like staying up with them at 3am after they’ve had a nightmare .  So, yeah, go see it.  It’s really damn good.

5 out of 5

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Psychonavigation Records and Other Crazy Fun!

Psychonavigation Records and other Crazy Fun

No Mask Effect – Quick Smart

Sweet and delicious longform ambient!  Field recordings, phonography, soundscape, atmospheric space and true ambient music come together to make huge, lengthy and engaging sound environments.  The time it took to pile all the samples and sounds together must have been something; the end result reminds me of a more organic form of FSOL’s first Environments LP.  I can’t praise much higher than that.  Fans of FSOL, Namlook’s more experimental side, Herd and Arthur Dent will dig this. Spin today and enjoy the trip! (5 out of 5) – Seriously, I want a copy of the entire disc.

Lorenzo Montana – Trilogy

Having been on the label’s mailing list for a while, I’m quite familiar with Lorenzo’s material and I was kind of surprised to see a three disc set sitting in my inbox.  It featured the long awaiting reissues of Eilatix / Leema Hactus & Vari Chromo all in one neat case.  Yeah, you read that right.  You can now get your paws on these three sweet ambient gems.  For those of you who’ve not had a listen to any of these, the music on these three LPs are stunning.  Lorenzo makes some prime ambient material, ranging from atmospheric/space/Namlook to Lifeforms-esque or even Boards of Canada/Spacetime Continuum styled soundscapes.  Every minute of every track is a moment of captivating bliss, showing Lorenzo’s production and composition skills.  Take everything you loved about ambient music from 1994 and add massive amounts of ingenuity and push it lightyears into the future.  Get it while you can! (5 out of 5)

Music on a Shoestring – DJ Food / Strictly Kev

Brace yourself!  The mixmaster himself, DJ Food has teamed up with Psychonavigation to spin a massive mixture of tunes from the label, spanning fifteen years.  The track listing is massive, featuring a varied range of artists/bands from FSOL, Off Land, to New Composers, Lorenzo Montana and others.  The resulting sound is something out of an ambient fan’s wet dream…. Soundscapes from every end of the genre, space, dub, modern classical to whatever you want.  I’ve not heard a more coherent and diverse ambient mix in ages.  Brilliant! What more can I say about this? Hear it for yourself! (5 out of 5)


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