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Music, voice demos from fellow actors, or other audio media that's currently caught my ear ...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Play! A Video Game Symphony (Live)

I got to go to PLAY! A Video Game Symphony when the touring show hit North Carolina this month, and it was a phenomenal experience.

If you're not familiar with PLAY!, it's a live symphony performance of music from and inspired by video games -- from Mario to Halo -- with top-notch guest conductors ... conducting.

Our evening's guest conductor was composer, conductor, and symphonist Andy Brick (The Sims II, Arc the Lad, etc.), who aside from being a talented conductor, was personable, engaging, and entertaining (not a given in conductors, unfortunately).

Performances ran the gamut, with images from the games projected over the symphony as they performed, and to me the most technically and artistically sound pieces were the Castlevania, Kingdom Hearts, Halo, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

We were treated to two new performances in NC -- SIM City 4 and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. The former was "OK" (solid, but not differentiated enough for my tastes), but the latter, while rousing in its own right, was even more enjoyable for me because it's one of the titles powered by my company's tech (of course, same goes for Oblivion).

My bias toward WAR and Oblivion speaks slightly to the subjective nature of this performance in general -- it's really going to depend on your emotional attachment to different games, and how those tunes resonate with you in their new form.

WAR was also enjoyable because WAR composer Brad Derrick made a guest appearance.

Also on the guest appearance front, guitarist Carlos Alomar performed on Silent Hill and the Chrono Suite. Alomar might not be a name familiar to you, but his work should be, since he's written and performed with the likes of David Bowie, John Lennon, Iggy Pop, Nine Inch Nails, Duran Duran, and more.

The venue -- the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, NC -- is fantastic; despite being rained on through the last 4 performances (I was not going to leave, and, besides, I felt the rain added a certain additional gravitas to the Halo suite in particular).

As far as family-friendly (which the event is advertised to be) it's mostly there. There's some fairly disturbing imagery in the Castlevania Suite, and they basically show the entire launch trailer for Warhammer Online, which is bit intense for wee ones. For the most part, they did a great job with the content, and even Silent Hill kept from showcasing its more disturbing moments.

I picked up the CD / DVD combo after the performance, and framkly, am disappointed.

It's an OK CD, but did not (obviously) contain the two new performances from the evening, but it is also so dated that it does not even include the Mario suite, which I very much wanted in my digital library.

The DVD is a disappointment, and feels incomplete and unprofessional, though liner notes caveat this being the result of a challenge with the historic Prague recording location (which, to me, speaks to an opportunity to do it again, "right").

But overall, certainly a worthwhile experience (barring the OK leave-behind reminder), and one that I recommend to lovers of video game and / or symphonic music.


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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Brian Vander Ark

Last night, I went to see Brian Vander Ark (previously of The Verve Pipe) at the Cactus Cafe at the University of Texas.

It's a small venue, and there were just south of two dozen people there.

I'm amazed the place wasn't packed, but I'm selfishly glad to have had such an intimate experience watching and hearing one of my favorite artists.

Brian did two long sets, which netted out to around a couple of hours, and played a lot of stuff from his albums "Resurrection", "Within Reach", and "Angel, Put Your Face On" (the latter two I picked up after the show). He also did one (maybe two) songs that aren't on any albums as of yet. "Evangeline" is really neat.

Brian came across as fun, funny, easy-going, confident in his own skin, and thoughtful. It made for a full-flavored night, as I laughed at his wit, and was alternately lifted or stung by his songs. He's a really pleasant guy with whom to talk, too.

I really enjoy all of his stuff, and have been a fan for a long time. Recent favorite tracks include "Another good man" and "I don't want to be a bother" (both from "Angel, Put Your Face On") and "!229 Sheffield" (from "Within Reach").

Of course, my all-time favorite is still The Verve Pipe's "The Freshman". And Brian did an amazingly powerful, heart-wrenching a cappella version which I feel blessed to have experienced (there's a cool live a cappella version on "Within Reach", but for me it doesn't hold a candle to seeing it).

So, yeah, it was a great, great night.

As an aside, Brian did a lot of the music for the film Pineapple, and is a strong friend and supporter of The Bohemian creative troupe.

You can hear Brian's music on his Website, and buy albums. Why buy when you can hear the music online? Reasons vary from person to person, but for me, it's important to support contributing artists, and I firmly believe in the importance of the whole "Give the worker his wage".

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Rainbow Quartz showcase (SXSW 2007)

I wanted to catch one showcase (Rainbow Quartz) and one band in particular (Youth Group) as part of the South by Southwest 2007 (SXSW).

I did catch Youth Group, but other than preceding band Gasoline Cowboy, I missed the other bands -- which sucks, because I really wanted to see them. Note to self: Find new music buddies.

But Gasoline Cowboy was good, and I liked them.

I liked Youth Group a lot, and their set was amazing. I dig passion and poetry in lyrics.

The venue was no-cover Latitude 30, which sounds good, until you realize at 1 a.m. most people at a no-cover venue are there to hang out and drink, and aren't there for the bands. So there were some seriously discourteous folks there. Which was too bad.

But the space is interesting, and the two bands I got to hear are great.

And I know the others, so you should check them out, too -- here's the full-showcase lineup:

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