Summer of Rock 2008

Summer of Rock 2008I am very pleased to announce the arrival of the third installment of Summer of Rock, my annual summer music compilation. Summer of Rock ’06 and ’07 have been (I flatter myself to think) great successes, and I’m hoping this year will continue the trend.

As we all know, summer is a time for making memories, and nothing goes with memories like good music. From the high-energy, sunny days to the lazy, reflective and romantic nights, this compilation will be the perfect soundtrack to your summer adventures. I’m showcasing primarily songs that have been released in the past year, though there are a handful of older favorites.

Two songs in particular deserve special mention. “Ndikumaka” was recorded by a Tumaini kid (Rosemary) and myself while in Kenya, and is a wonderful example of the talent latent in those kids. “Hello” is a new Splendour Hyaline song (Splendour Hyaline is the band name for the songs David and I write and record). Be warned: it’s a non-final mix of a song from an album we are recording this summer, so stay tuned for the album’s release to hear the final version. (Both the Tumaini album and the Splendour Hyaline album will be available for download later this summer).

Here is the playlist (you can download the songs immediately below it):

  1. Let It Ride, by Ryan Adams (from “Cold Roses (Disc 2)”)
  2. No Sunlight, by Death Cab for Cutie (from “Narrow Stairs”)
  3. Viva La Vida, by Coldplay (from “Viva La Vida”)
  4. Skinny Love, by Bon Iver (from “For Emma, Forever Ago”)
  5. Coconut Skins, by Damien Rice (from “9”)
  6. Killing for Love, by José González (from “In Our Nature”)
  7. Apartment Story, by The National (from “Boxer”)
  8. Lovesong Of The Buzzard, by Iron and Wine (from “The Shepherd’s Dog”)
  9. Not California, by Hem (from “Funnel Cloud”)
  10. Come Out Of The Shade, by The Perishers (from “Victorious”)
  11. Baby, It’s Fact, by Hellogoodbye (from “Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!”)
  12. Ndikumaka, by Tumaini (from “Songs of Hope (Pre-Release)”)
  13. Here It Goes, by Jimmy Eat World (from “Chase This Light”)
  14. The Modern Leper, by Frightened Rabbit (from “The Midnight Organ Fight”)
  15. Not What You Wanted, by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (from “Baby 81”)
  16. Lake Michigan, by Rogue Wave (from “Asleep At Heaven’s Gate”)
  17. Hoppipolla, by Sigur Rós (from “Takk”)
  18. Leap Year, by +/- (from “Let’s Build A Fire”)
  19. Hello, by Splendour Hyaline (from “When Love Leaves Its Hiding Place EP (Demo)”)
  20. Why You, by Joe Purdy (from “Only Four Seasons”)
  21. Dash, by DeYarmond Edison (from “Silent Signs”)

Download and setup instructions (sorry, but you will need iTunes):

  1. Download the zip file here: Summer of Rock 2008
  2. Unzip the files to your desktop or some other location (this will create a folder called Summer of Rock 2008).
  3. Drag the folder into your iTunes software (typically, dragging it onto the “Music” label underneath “LIBRARY” is the safest way to do this — you’ll see a “+” sign before you know it’s OK to release the mouse button). This should copy the song files to your iTunes library.
  4. Finally, in iTunes, go to File > Import. In the file browser, navigate to the Summer of Rock 2008 folder, and select the file “Summer of Rock 2008.xml”. Importing this playlist file will create the playlist “Summer of Rock 2008” in your iTunes library, which you can use to play the songs in the intended order!
  5. Now, you can safely delete the “Summer of Rock 2008” folder and the zip file, as the song files should be safely organized by iTunes.

Unfortunately, doing things this way has its drawbacks as well as its benefits. The primary benefit is increased song quality. One of the drawbacks is that, in my version of the playlist, I have opted to cause some songs to end earlier than their actual finish time, to make the compilation flow better (for example, Lovesong of the Buzzard takes way too long to finish, and I modified its options in iTunes to end at 3:52). It will be up to you to do this if you want! It will also be up to you to burn a CD from this playlist to take in your car or wherever.

As always, the point of this compilation is to introduce you to new music and encourage you to buy songs and merchandise from the artists you like, through legal channels. If you are not open to supporting the artists financially, please don’t take advantage of my offering these songs for download!

Thanks, and enjoy! I look forward to hearing any comments. If the playlist or song files change, I will post a notification in this entry.

Easter Reflections From Kenya

It is the Quiet Saturday before Easter Sunday, when thousands of years ago the universe held its breath, awaiting the vindication of God for the as-yet-unveiled Messiah, Jesus. That vindication came in the most unexpected form–the resurrection of the dead! Long looked-for, but almost overlooked when it did come, Jesus became the firstfruits of that most remarkable of events, the completion of which we still eagerly desire.

I am writing at the Tumaini orphanage, near Nyeri, Kenya (where I have extended my stay an additional 5 weeks). From where I am sitting, I can see no end of reasons why we should continue to eagerly await that desire. It is the one fundamental hope that undergirds every other, because it is the hope which defeats the oldest and hardest of all despairs, which is Death itself. I have a lot of reasons (or so I think) to despair at the moment, and when I look at the children who surround me, I know that they have many more and legitimate ones–some have reason to despair even of life, which I know nothing about.

But there is one hope, that the one thing which is the most wrong with the universe can be righted. More to the point, it has been, if we have eyes to see. The fact that people still die is now the illusion, the lie struggling to prevail against the coming truth, which is already true, but which will shine forth in infinite clarity at some time yet to come.

And, as every despair, no matter how small, really derives its life in some way from Death, so the key to every hope, no matter how small, can be found in this one hope of life regained, and made indestructible. Though I have no other hope to cling to, yet this one hope will prove to be my salvation! And this is true, not just for those like me who have never tasted the true Sickness Unto Death, but also for those who have. It is the one firm rock on which to build my relationship towards the universe–the cornerstone which the builders have rejected, but which has, in time and in its turn, become the capstone.

This year, I have not appropriately contemplated all that I could contemplate during Holy Week, nor have I appropriately prepared myself to experience another Easter in the fullest way. However, I am certainly in a place to appreciate and long for the unique comfort which is the hope of the resurrection of the dead (and it is the telltale signs of that future resurrection in Jesus’ own resurrection which we celebrate tomorrow). I believe the renewal and serious appreciation of this hope is just what Easter celebration is all about.

“Tumaini” means “hope” in Swahili.

In past years, I have traditionally created some piece of art on Easter to commemorate the day (for instance, the two monologues I wrote for Easter 2003 ). I do not know if such will happen tomorrow, but at any rate think that in view of what the hope of Easter really is, nothing can be for me a more appropriate offering than the Suite Apocalyptique I posted in a recent entry (click here to read about and download it), given that its central theme is exactly this one of resurrection hope. Perhaps it will be of benefit to you in your Easter worship!

So, Happy Easter! Christ is risen indeed!

I will leave you with a poem, the lyrics to one of the songs in the Suite (Mvmt VI: The Sun Rises):

I breathe at last, the work is done
Like shining glass, sea and sun
Are sharp and real, bright blades of love
Which grew to heal the wounds of

Night is over now
Night is over now
The sun is coming up

But don’t turn away from the flames
These brilliant rays annul our shame
The fire burns, but we stand
For which we yearn is in our hands

When we touch the earth, it sings rejoicing
For the day has dawned, and we have returned
To ourselves as we were meant to be
To the world as it has longed to be

I breathe at last, the work is done
The shadow passed, and life begun

Splendour Hyaline in Paste Magazine; Album on iTunes

I have some great Splendour Hyaline news to share! First of all, Paste magazine (my favorite music magazine) has run a short “review” of our new EP, Hope (A Sliver, Like the Moon), in their March edition (with the Norah Jones cover).

This is a first for David and me, and we’re super excited about it–as it turns out, the review is (in my opinion) overwhelmingly positive! Please go and support Paste by picking up a copy (they should be at places like Barnes & Noble, etc…). Our review is, I’m told, on page 69, right underneath Bright Eyes!

Second, if you’re interested in purchasing Hope…, it is now available for sale on iTunes! We have pressed CDs as well, but as I’m out of the country for a while, iTunes is an excellent way to get your hands on a copy now. You can preview tracks in iTunes, or listen to full-length tracks at Splendour Hyaline’s myspace. If you decide you’d like to purchase the album, simply click the link below. Thanks for your support! If you do buy the album, I’d really appreciate it if you also wrote an honest review on iTunes, describing your reaction to the music. Having a lot of reviews helps us out when people are browsing music!

Check out Hope (A Sliver, Like the Moon) on iTunes!

Sabbatical Part 2: Leaving Austria / Suite Apocalyptique

When I last wrote about the sabbatical which is underway (read part 1 here), I was in the middle of my time at Schloss Mitersill, in Austria. That time has now ended! I’m currently writing at a hostel in Oxford, and tomorrow I’ll be catching a flight to Nairobi, before heading to Nyeri, Kenya. I’m very happy to report that my time at the Schloss finished well. This, of course, means that I’m certainly sad to see it end. But before I talk more about that, here are some pictures of the Schloss and the gorgeous surrounding area:

Continue reading “Sabbatical Part 2: Leaving Austria / Suite Apocalyptique”

Splendour Hyaline on Tour Now; New Album

No time for a huge entry, but I wanted to post some tour dates. I am hanging out with my friends The New Frontiers on their southeast tour with Manchester Orchestra. At some venues I may be able to play some Splendour Hyaline music. Either way, if you’re anywhere near these towns on these dates, come and say hello!

  • Dec 27 2006 – 8:00P – Juanita’s – Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Dec 28 2006 – 8:00P – The Hi-Tone – Memphis, Tennessee
  • Dec 29 2006 – 8:00P – 3rd & Lindsley – Nashville, Tennessee
  • Dec 30 2006 – 8:00P – The Brothers Pizza – Owensboro, Kentucky
  • Jan 1 2007 – 8:00P – The Village Tavern – Charleston, SouthCarolina
  • Jan 2 2007 – 8:00P – New Brookland Tavern – West Columbia, SouthCarolina
  • Jan 3 2007 – 8:00P – Tasty World – Athens, Georgia
  • Jan 4 2007 – 7:00P – The Sound – Ft. WaltonBeach, Florida
  • Jan 5 2007 – 8:00P – The Venue – Pensacola, Florida
  • Jan 6 2007 – 8:00P – The 585 Club – Atlanta, Georgia
  • Jan 7 2007 – 8:00P – The Rave Arcade – Florence, Alabama
  • Jan 8 2007 – 8:00P – Hal & Mal’s – Jackson, Mississippi
  • Jan 9 2007 – 8:00P – Flannagan’s – Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Jan 10 2007 – 8:00P – Rikenjack’s Brew – PubLakeCharles, Louisiana
  • Jan 11 2007 – 8:00P – Red Seven – Austin, Texas
  • Jan 12 2007 – 8:00P – Sons of Hermann Hall – Dallas, Texas

Also, Splendour Hyaline’s new album, Hope (A Sliver, Like the Moon) (cover pictured above) has been released and it will be for sale on tour. It will be for sale later via the internet (including iTunes).

A long blog entry is overdue–some big news for the next couple months (which most of you all have probably heard anyway), but we’re getting ready to drive to Little Rock for the first show. Cheers!

Holy Night by Splendour Hyaline

Now that we are in December, and are therefore allowed to start thinking about Christmas (whereas consumer hegemony would have us believe that time was three weeks ago), I am very pleased to present Splendour Hyaline’s 2006 Christmas EP, Holy Night:

(To download the album, right-click the above links and choose the option to download the files to your computer.)

David and I hope that these songs can accompany your 2006 Christmas season, as our previous Christmas EP did last year; if you have not downloaded those songs, you can get them here. Unfortunately, we had a very limited amount of time in which to record the three songs above (very few takes each), so the performance quality on my part is less than superb. (In addition, I just realized I didn’t catch an error in the lyrics of “O Holy Night”. Oh well.) Equally unfortunately, neither David nor Rachel were able to add their talents to the mix. David did, however, produce, mix, engineer, and master the whole album, which is happily noticeable.

That being said, I think things sound great on the whole, and am excited especially about a few classical guitar interludes in the songs. So, please download and enjoy them and, as always, listen with headphones!

The Wayfaring Aesthete

Last weekend, our small church community went on a retreat to a place in San Francisco. As a major part of the time, each person had one or more pieces of art to present on the subject of her “deepest dream(s)”. The idea was that something prepared in advance on that subject, then later presented and discussed, would provide an interesting, focused, and perhaps vulnerable manner of getting to know one another more intimately. When I started working on my own art a couple weeks ago, I found that having a deadline for the creative process actually made me quite fruitful, and I ended up having three songs and the start of a short story / novel to share.

I won’t talk about two of the songs, the novel, or what dreams they represented, at this moment, because they will no doubt receive special treatment when they are recorded / completed. I did, however, want to share one song, an instrumental piece I composed in Logic with my keyboard. The composition took over many long nights, zoned out hammering keys, headphones pressing a wide canyon in the top of my skull.

Even all the way through the retreat the song had remained unnamed, but now that I have had some time to think on it, I have decided to call it “The Wayfaring Aesthete Engages the Road in Conversation”. (Originally, it was supposed to be called “ReCreation”, but I didn’t want to inflict on it too great a connection with this weblog, and the storied nature of the final name is much more appropriate).

The dream of mine which corresponded to this particular work was that of creating/designing objects/experiences which faithfully and reliably transmit emotion. In a word, “evoking”. I long to evoke responses in others the way that good art evokes incredibly deep emotional responses in me. I treasure those experiences as gifts, and desire to give such gifts to others as well.

Click on the link below to download the iTunes-format version of the song. (The picture is a screenshot of the song’s timeline, with its various instruments).

The Wayfaring Aesthete Engages the Road in Conversation

Let me know what you think. Friends who were with us on the retreat–I encourage you to likewise post your creations, which were all excellent!

My Holy Grail, At Last?

Anyone who has been around this weblog for long enough has realized that I care a lot about mainly two categories of things. The first is Girls, and specifically how to entice an especially awesome, as-yet-unpinpointed one to eventually marry me. The second is The Stuff I Am Passionate About. This second category is usually seen in long diatribes about how I have so many passions that the thought of finding one thing to do in my life (my life’s project, so to speak) is incredibly daunting. I usually think of such pursuits as falling under one of the following headings: Philosophy, Theology, Music, Language, Coding, Writing, or Design. Importantly, I’m interested in the creative elements of each.

I often laugh derisively at any suggestion that these things could be combined into a single role or project; for what pursuit can bring together such disparate fields as philosophy and computer programming, not to mention the others? It struck me today that maybe there is such a project: the design and implementation of a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), of which the current most popular example is World of Warcraft.

Clearly, since a MMORPG is a piece of software, it involves coding. But it also involves World Design–the overarching story and history of a fantastical place (a la The Silmarillion, my favorite book). Clearly creating such an immersive world involves a foray into philosophy (and probably theology, since worlds without magic or arcane technology are boring). Beyond that, what can provide more immersion than Tolkien’s strategy of language creation? Of course, histories of entire civilizations and languages need to be conveyed in as powerful and encompassing wording as possible, thus requiring a skilled writer. Finally, what is a venture into an unknown world without the appropriate stunning visual and audio design? The score would need to be more immense than any 2-hour movie.

Well, there it is! It doesn’t seem like anything important is missing. And it certainly explains my fascination with the concepts behind MMORPGs in the first place. Unfortunately, I don’t know that working for a MMO house would be fulfilling at all to me; curiously, I don’t know why. I certainly don’t think that a life spent to encourage the use of the imagination is wasted–Tolkien and Lewis are my heroes precisely for that reason. Maybe it’s just that my experience with MMORPG culture has made me doubt whether the kind of imagination encouraged is actually of any enduring value. I suppose that at the end of the day I do believe that imagination has a function–that of re-envisioning a broken and fractured reality–and I don’t know that World of Warcraft really inspires this, rather than a mindless grind for powerful virtual items that give one a sense of superiority over other players.

Maybe that’s the difference between The Silmarillion and World of Warcraft–since The Silmarillion is a story, it asks you to enter in and wander around by yourself, unlocking experiences with the imagination. Warcraft, on the other hand, is unavoidably a game, and one not of collaborative imagination as often as competitive un-imagination. (What I mean by unimagination is that many players purposefully de-mystify any imaginative elements in MMORPGs, reducing it to the underlying code systems, so that they might more easily “win” the game. My motivations in playing MMORPGs, on the other hand, are generally rather to have an immersive, imaginative experience). Perhaps there are ways to create a game like this; perhaps that is what real-life role-playing groups find attractive about their sessions (which frankly don’t appeal to me, for some reason); however, I doubt that, even given the possibility of designing such a game, that the result would be compelling to enough people to build a multi-million-dollar franchise on top of (which seems to be the point of most computer games).

But what do you think, O Reader? Should I go try and get hired by Blizzard? I haven’t said anything about the physical pursuits I enjoy (which are also many), or about any actual positive results of work for the poorer and more downtrodden in the world (who might not be able to afford my computer game). What is there to say about that? (But note that I’m not asking the question, “Was Tolkien wrong in writing his novels when he could have been helping poor children elsewhere, very materially?” since I take it for granted that the answer’s no.)

The Quota of Rock

Last night I went back to the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco for the second time this month, to see the Smoking Popes / Lovedrug show. It was an incredible experience, and I realized something about myself that is important to share (and might also be an important contribution to Rock Theory in general).

Gratuitous picture to get you to read further: Lovedrug’s symbol of the moment

Continue reading “The Quota of Rock”

Recording Spree Over: New Album Complete!

My recent weeks in Orlando were excellent, though not very relaxing. Between intense meetings at Teleios World Domination HQ (we’re meeting resistance in certain parts of eastern Europe), and non-stop work on the new album, I got 2-3 hours less sleep per night than my normal. (There was also the fantastic celebration of my dad’s 50th birthday party, attended by close family and the uncorking of a very expensive bottle of wine which was a good bit older than I was. Not to mention the less-meaningful but more-rowdy celebration of Cinco de Mayo). The result, at least on the music side, was a brand new 6-song EP that sounds incredible. The performance, production, everything is stellar. My brother David was in charge of the engineering, mixing, production, and mastering, and he is becoming very talented at all of the above.

Working on an improv synth solo for So Talk About It at 3am

I have a strong desire to share all our new songs with everyone here, but a few things remain to be worked out. First, I don’t have an “official” CD–David does, and he’s in Africa for a month. Second, I’m not naive enough to think that the mix I have will be final. We usually go through rounds of tweaking, and, while things sound excellent, there’re always one or two minor changes to make. Third, the album has no title. Fourth, the album has no artwork. I’d like all of these things to be present before I unveil everything officially. So just hold tight for now! I’ll probably break down and put one or two up here anyway, since the only reason I feel secure is that I am validated by my peers.

Speaking of being validated by my peers, let’s go on a tangent: those of you who are e4 weblog owners or frequenters might have noticed that I have added trackback capability to the e4 weblogs. Trackbacks are a cool example of the way the web is supposed to work–now, when you write entries, e4 will check out any links you make, and attempt to send a trackback ping to that site. If the site is trackback-enabled, it’ll accept the ping, and people who visit it will see that your entry references the page! Likewise all the weblogs here are now trackback-enabled, so anyone can send pings from Movable Type, WordPress, or wherever. Let’s just hope for no horrible spam!

(For you e4 bloggers, you can play with the trackback preferences at your weblog config page)

Well, I am now officially back in California for a while, so hopefully I’ll have time to write some more reflective posts soon. Ciao!