Saturday, 28 March 2009

Mastodon-Crack The Skye

From the embryonic thrash of Remmission, to the more developed and broadened sounds of Blood Mountain, there has been an evolutionary shift in the sound of the exceptional sonic musings of Mastodon.

This progression has not let up in the U.S bands latest musical offering Crack the Skye which should see the band rocketed to heavy weights within the metal genre.Crack the Skye is a fine example of how Mastodon's music has matured into the deeper and more focused realms of metal master class.

Their latest offering seeing them fuse elements of the old and the new, from Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, combined with their very own ultra modern prog-metal sound. Imagine a hybrid of the band from the Leviathan era combined with elements of the trippy and ethereal sounds of Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd and you are still not even close.

This album defines categorization, and is one that requires a few listens until its sweeping soundscapes begin to reveal themselves with mystical, surrealist beauty.

One can hear from the tone from the first couple of tracks that this is a Mastodon offering that is much more upbeat in tone and mood. For the faithful though, don’t worry, as this is not an album lacking in intensity or lagging behind contempories in emotional standing, the album has trademark punchy, of kilter riffs and musical progression but this time these attributes are combined with psychedelic wizardry and moments of classic rock retrospection.

There are real nostalgic moments on the album with the cap being firmly tilted to late 60’s and ear 70’s bands, combining layered and progressive metal sounds so engrossing that one is left breathless and literally craving more.

One listen provides a level of intrigue that I have not felt for some time with a metal band, forcing the listener to hit that play button one more time. This album is a triumph is musical experimentation and its genre bending antics deserve to be hailed as a wonderful new epoch in the ever developing direction of the wondrous metal tradition.

If Crack The Skye was a drug, it would be akin to the like of Meth or Heroin, that is to say; Dangerously addictive.


Friday, 27 March 2009

Alice and Reality

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?'

In this quote Lewis Carroll was hinting at the illusion of perceived reality and all its enticing trappings. It’s all too easy for one to drift through life in a five sense bubble, (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell) thinking this is all there is, and believing one is the centre of all that exists. One needs to recoil from this premise and free one's self from the illusory nature of this blinkered, conditioned perception.

Imagine yourself sitting in a cinema, enjoying the latest blockbuster on the 50foot screen in front of you. One is engrossed in this movie and one feels an infinity with the car chases and the fight scenes. Sitting there in this darkened room of pass-time entertainment, one perceives the sequenced events on the movie screen, momentarily, as 'reality'. This is how individuals their lives, staring at the screen we call 'reality.' absorbed in the five senses, seeing it as all there is. Now, imagine for a moment in that cinema one loses interest in the movie, and starts to become move aware of surroundings; the seat one is sitting on, who is beside and behind you, how the air conditioning feel against one's skin. At once, one notices the light beaming through the room on to the screen and the dust particles dancing in the air through it's image giving path. One then follows the light, curious to know where it's source lies. To achieve this one follows the light to the rear of the room, inside a space unknown to the individual. This is what we need to do in life. Stop for a moment, and experience our surroundings, and get accustomed to them. Then we can follow that energy which causes our thoughts back to its source, here one finds the nature of reality, our pure mind. Once one has done this, one will quickly realize that we create our own reality and then project it outwardly, just like the cinema projector. Once we know this we can start dipping our toe more in the illuminated, beautiful emptiness of the mind, becoming the creator, rather than the follower of what we perceive to be real.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

Who's For Soma Then?

"By this time the soma had begun to work. Eyes shone, cheeks were flushed, the inner light of universal benevolence broke out on every face in happy, friendly smiles. Even Bernard felt himself a little melted." (Aldus Huxley-Brave New World)

Just finished reading Huxley's 'Brave New World' and as would be expected, many ideas and emotions are flying round in my mind. This magnificent book has hit me like a jack hammer, jolting my perceptions with a 'We are doomed' cattle prod and reinforcing some existing opinions on the world.

Huxley's happiness drug 'Soma' which was referred to as having, "All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects," is something that resonated with me while reading.

The last few decades have seen the use of mood stabilizers and anti depressants as part of daily life in the West.

Doctors, at the beckon call of their pharmaceutical company paymasters, have been dishing out these tablets like there is no tomorrow, reinforcing the idea that internal problems can be solved externally.

I was doing a bit of searching on this topic on the net and found this article on 'The Rabbit Hole' blog.

'Scientists have been chasing after a fear-numbing pill in an effort to create the “Guilt-Free Soldier.”

Dutch scientists believe the heart drug propranolol can double as a deadener of painful memories in people with P.T.S.D. Just knowing such a pill is out there, of course, might also encourage soldiers to commit atrocities, because they will no longer have to live with the pain they have created'.


Here is a Brief Communication Abstract from the conducted study.

[By Merel Kindt, Marieke Soeter & Bram Vervliet, | Sunday, 15 February, 2009.]

Animal studies have shown that fear memories can change when recalled, a process referred to as reconsolidation.

We found that oral administration of the adrenergic receptor antagonist propranolol before memory reactivation in humans erased the behavioral expression of the fear memory 24 h later and prevented the return of fear. Disrupting the reconsolidation of fear memory opens up new avenues for providing a long-term cure for patients with emotional disorders.


Thanks to 'The Rabbit Hole' for bring this story to my attention.


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Huxley Interview 3

Here's number 3!


Huxley Interview

I must say, if you do notihng else today watch this video.

Currently reading 'Brave New World' again-this ties in very nicely indeed.



Could the Real Thai Obama Please Stand Up?

Now Thailand has its very own Obama in the form of 50-year-old Saraburi resident Suphoj Bunseupwong.

Like President Obama, Mr Suphoj will be spreading a message of hope – not through rousing speeches, but through cheerful luk-thung country music songs.

Mr Suphoj, or “Obama Thailand” as he is now known in his village, was until recently preoccupied with running the sports store he owns in Ban Mor District.

A sports fanatic, he shot to local fame after taking part in a football tournament where the announcer pointed out how much he looked like the new US president.

News travels quickly in a Thai village, and before long curious locals were calling in at his shop to see for themselves.

“At first I was a bit shy with everyone calling me the ‘Thai Obama’ all the time. Then I got used to it and changed from wearing my usual open-necked shirt to wearing a navy blue blazer with a neck-tie. At every event I went to, people turned to look at the Thai Obama,” Mr Suphoj said.

Born in Ban Mor, Mr Suphoj is the second of seven children.

“Most of my brothers and sisters look like Indians or Muslims, but we are really 100% Thai Buddhists,” he explained.

Apart from running his “Num Noi Sport” shop, Mr Suphoj also moonlights as a DJ on a local community radio station and sings and plays guitar in a band.

Through his radio work he met up with some composers and record producers who suggested he use his singing skills and striking resemblance to the leader of the free world to make a breakthrough luk-thung album.

Mr Suphoj is now working on 10 songs for his highly anticipated debut album. He says these will be cheerful luk-thung numbers that you can dance to and sing along with to forget your worries – not a bad formula in these trying economic times.

Thailand’s Obama counts among his influences not left-wing radicals or fire-and-brimstone preachers, but popular Thai music artists such as Chatri Srichol, Sayan Sanya and Yodrak Salakjai.

The CD, which should be hitting the shelves in the near future, will be released under the artist name “Barack Obama”.

It was not reported whether a complimentary copy will be sent to the White House.

From Phuket Gazzet Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Monday, 16 March 2009

Why are babies cute? Why is cake sweet?

Why are babies cute? Why is cake sweet? Philosopher Dan Dennett has answers you wouldn't expect, as he shares evolution's counterintuitive reasoning on cute, sweet and sexy things. For a topping, try his new theory on why jokes are funny.

A dam fine seven odd minutes.


Dissidents or Dissenters?

Thought I would post this recent Christopher Hitchen's excerpt as it makes typically engaging reading on Northern Ireland.

From: Terrorists, Dissidents, and Copy Editors
Why it matters how the media describe killers in Iraq and Ireland.
By Christopher Hitchens

'Until recently, the same newspaper(The New York Times) used to employ a description of the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland that was slightly less misleading and also somewhat more amusing. Aware of the fact that its readers knew that there were two discrepant kinds of Christianity practiced in the province, the New York Times would do its job of being strictly informative by characterizing the IRA as "overwhelmingly Catholic." One could see what the editors were vainly trying to do—namely, to suggest that very few Ulster Protestants indeed were succumbing to the temptation to enlist in the ranks of the IRA—but the resulting image was nonetheless risible, as if someone encountering a gunman of the IRA would be first and foremost overwhelmed by his Catholicism. (Come to think of it, where was Bill Donohue of the Catholic League when this slander was being promulgated? He usually kindles into flame at much less provocation.)

But now something really depressing has happened and is spreading like weed across the media. Since the Good Friday agreement that committed the IRA to disarmament and the Republican movement to electoral politics, two small, ultraviolent nationalist factions have sworn to continue the armed struggle. In the past week, they have randomly slain members of the army and police. And it has been agreed, apparently without a discussion or an argument, to refer to these gruesome elements as dissidents.

I have consulted the final court of appeal on this, in the form of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the ruling is pretty final. All the origins of the term lie in expressions of argument and opinion, and of "dissent" from ruling systems or ideologies. There is a solitary and obscure reference, from a report in the London Times of 1955, to an obscure Vietnamese sect described as "dissident" and also as launching attacks on local Vietnamese army positions, but otherwise all the sources and authorities are unanimous: The term describes only attitudes and not actions, and it is most famously associated with the intellectual opposition to Soviet totalitarianism. (Prior to that usage, it was principally applied to those religious people of conscience who refused allegiance to the established Catholic and Episcopalian churches, which ironically would perhaps qualify the word dissident as being "overwhelmingly Protestant.")

Thanks for the original link K.


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Haiku-Ireland's Knife Edge.

Country on the edge
Violence escalating
Support there is none
Strength, united with one voice
Together as one
Unwanted heartache
Retrospective memories
Dark shadows cast visible
Anguish like stage show
Faces wince in defiance
A collective show of love


Could The Leaders Of Sinn Fein Be Doing More?-Soothing Words Are Not Always Enough

With senior leader of Sinn Fein condemning the recent murders in Northern Ireland and the insistence that the Republican movement pass on any information regarding the same, people have heralded halcyon times in Republican openness.

Is this really the case, or are certain factors not being revealed?

The likelihood of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness knowing about the timing of these killings is very doubtful, but there is little doubt that the senior figures in Sinn Fein must know who the perpetrators are.

These murders where carried out in a professional, militaristic fashion, leaving little evidence or trace of identification, and is therefore unlikely to be the work of a fanatical teenager.

Those responsible fired at the victims from a distance and then finished them off from point blank range as they lay dying. This levelheadedness, in the face of such a crime points towards a more mature killer, perhaps one with many years experience.

Thus, with many members of the PIRA leaving after the ceasefire, disgusted by the democratic path taken by SinnFein, it is possible that these disaffected individuals were involved in the recent murders.

It stands beyond reasonable doubt that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness know who jumped off the ship ten years ago, and the names of these individuals should be presented to the authorities.

Northern Ireland is such a small place and the numbers involved in terrorist activities are so low, therefore individuals who left the organisation have to be compiled, profiled and handed over to the police.

If this was carried out, we really would be witnessing a new age of transparent Republicanism.


Monday, 9 March 2009

Dangerous Times

Eve Merriam said, "I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?"

These sentiments are difficult to read after the events of the last few days in Northern Ireland. In the last decade the majority have tossed aside the bondage of conflict, adapting to life in a peaceful land, albeit with tentative steps. Few wish to turn back their clocks to the bygone days of retribution, division and political paranoia, but three killings in as many days shows deepening cracks in the countries socio-political landscape.

At this point no group has taken responsibility for the killings, but 'The Real IRA' are strongly suspected of involvement. Republican leaders such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have called for Nationalist/Republicans to pass on information to the police, an act traditionally held in disdain during 'The troubles,' and seen by many as acquiescing to British occupation. This eventuality seemed unthinkable a few years ago, and stands in testament to how far the political process has come, but is the house of cards going to stand up to the current storm?

These atrocities have a real danger of stoking old flames and hatreds that need little encouraging to ignite into something perilous for the future of the country. Loyalist paramilitary leaders called for calm in communities as graffiti calling for revenge was seen in various parts of the province.

What the future holds remains to be seen. The stability of the province stands on a precarious knife edge, one that people over the age of twenty will remember all too well, for they were the dark days of the countries history.

People now squint at the news in disbelief at the current situation, hoping and praying that history does not repeat itself.

Only time will tell.


Saturday, 7 March 2009

Words to live by

Ancient Monastery on Mt. East

Artist: Chen Jun

"The ancients wishing to exhibit goodness throughout the kingdom, first ordered well their own states. To order well their own states, they first brought order into their families. To bring order into their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. To rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things."

"The investigation of things rounded out knowledge. Their knowledge being rounded out, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated. Their persons being cultivated, order was brought into their families. Their families being in order, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy."

From The Great Learning:
Confucius (551 BCE to 479 BCE)

Its as easy as that.


Friday, 6 March 2009

The Hunt in the Forest

The Hunt in the Forest (c1465-70) by Paolo Uccello in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

A crowd of hunters gather in secluded part of an unknown forest, mounted on horseback, dressed in red and black. Dogs scurry into the distance with reckless abandon, continuing their frantic search for the kill. Above the beautiful and almost ornate canopy, the sky in deep blue, possibly that of daybreak. The unevenness and manic randomness of the animals and hunters, gives one the impression of a frenzied chase within the darkest depths of the forest.

Perhaps they have been chased by an unknown quantity until the break of dawn and are attempting to avoid disorientation by following the river on the right of the picture. Another possibility is that the group lost their way and naturally panic has descended into rabid madness. Perhaps they have been trapped within the bleakness for days, who knows?

As the dogs rush into the darkness, some of the men appear to hold back, as if a moment of clarity has been reached, momentarily calming their frenetic charge into the abyss. One of the hunters in bright red leans over backwards to rein in his horse, another in black raises his hand to stop the pursuit.

What have these individuals seen?

Could it be that a way out of the forest has been found, freeing them from the perplexity of their surroundings moments before dawn gives way to daybreak?

For definite, the hunters have seen something that has stopped them in their tracks, and soon all the rest of the group will see what they have seen, for good or ill. Their pause in the forests depths leaves one with an empty feeling.

There is an emptiness in the painting, a dark an unknown reality is about to be revealed and what it is, we can only speculate. The forest could represent the dark void of the mind in distressing times, and the hunters/dogs movements the way we manically live in our own heads in times of distress. The hunter pulling up the horse and the other holding up his hands, has noticed something and perhaps this is a way out from the madness that they have been actively engaged in.

The hunters have walked through a dark and sinful place, just like we all have felt at points in our lives. They may have found a way out from the void, and into a place of light and sanity.

There are lesson to be learned from this great painting.


Thursday, 5 March 2009

Good Old New Labour

As the march towards Labour's police states continues to pick up pace in Britain, the public are left in a state of paralysis by what is happening on their fair shores. Lord Haysham called it an 'electoral dictatorship' others have more caustic words echoing around in their psyche.

Almost 60 new powers contained in more than 25 Acts of Parliament have whittled away at freedoms and broken pledges set out in the Human Rights Act and Magna Carta, as a result of laws introduced by Labour since they came to power in 1997.

The Convention on Modern Liberty recent dossier, rightfully criticises draconian police powers to detain terror suspects for 28 days without charge, new stop-and-search powers handed to police (allowing them to stop people without reason at airports and other designated areas), and restrictions on the right of peaceful protest.

When the fevered rhetoric dies down and the dust begins to settle on the pages of the 'objective' broadsheets, we can take time to breath and reassess what has become of Britain, and more frighteningly, where it is headed.

It is the first time such a picture of the erosion of rights under Labour has been published, exercising their right to free speech and providing the government with a clear and comprehensive depiction of how Britain is being run.

Liberty's voice is not alone in the wilderness, it is one shared by many disenfranchised and disillusioned people throughout the land, and surely can't be ignored. A solid platform for dissent and oganisation has been built and with grotesque despoliation a daily occurrence, the growth should be rapid.

With the proliferation of surveillance technology, new laws allowing individuals to be electronically tagged, the legal interception of letters, emails and phone calls, one could be forgiven for mistaking our 'free' society for that of North Korea or China. But no, these latest pearls of wisdom come from Whitehall, an institution rapidly losing face and credibility.

The question many are asking is, 'Where is it all going to end?' Huxleyian and Orwellian images and language resonate in one's mind, and present a very real and present danger for society.

A more pressing question for one to forward could be, 'What can be done to stop it?'

Direct action with violence would provide an opportunity for the government and would see the police state close in further, using fear through the media to validate their means.

It has taken economic quandary to waken people from their docu-soap slumber, and now is the time for free thinking and well informed citizens to educate themselves in the hypocrisy, and organise.

The battle of state vs people has been set in motion, for who will win the war, the jury is out. The power lies with the people and the time is right for action