31.10.07

Photo store: Camino de Santiago, Logroño

Saliendo de Logroño, vista hacia el oeste, y de repente, al vover la vista...


B sos.

27.10.07

Theremin

Check what I found. The theremin is an musical instrument invented by the Russian inventor Léon Theremin in 1919, and it is unique in that it was the first musical instrument designed to be played without being touched. It generally consists of two pitch and one volume radio frequency oscillators and two metal antennas. With one hand you control the volume, with the other the pitch! Apparently it's very easy to learn but extremely difficult to master. This is one example, by master Masami Takeuchi:



I love the world because it's full of such amazing little surprises, every day. Today's surprise: the theremin.

23.10.07

Wedding: the videos

Adding the videos from our wedding:

Here we are leaving the church after the wedding... fast:

video


And this is when we arrived to the hotel for the dinner:

video


This is our first dance (where you admire our wide range of movements... ;)

video


Some more dancing...

video


... and a bit more...

video


... and even more!...

video


This is the throwing of the bouquet:

video


... and when I throw my tie:

video


Finally, this is when the cousins of Ewa throw us (!) in the air:

video


Ciao belli.

21.10.07

Chris Jordan

A very interesting photographer. His most famous series are about the massive consumism of American population. Here goes an example. This photograph depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes:


Partial zoom:


Detail:


More of his work here:

Shame on you, Kaczynski

The Kaczynski brothers, perfectly aware of the lack of support they have among the mainly young Polish population in the U.K., have made it really hard for them to vote in the parliamentary elections that took place today in decent conditions.

The Polish consulate in London was the place where all the voters in southern England with surnames starting with the letters L to Z had to go to exercise their right to vote. It seems incredible and ridiculous to do such a thing given the amount of Polish people living in England (a great number of them in London): around 1 million Polish live, work and pay taxes in the U.K. In Mielec, a 60000-inhabitant Polish town, there were today 30 election polls. Today, in the whole U.K., just 20.



The results, therefore, did not surprise anyone. Queues were embarrassing. There is no excuse to such lack of organization from a government which claims to rule a democratic country. Absolute premeditation was in the mind of all of those waiting for hours in the cold to be able to vote, specially when the English government had offered help to the Polish authorities to open more election polls, help which was refused on the grounds of lack of time to prepare.

Overall, me and my Polish wife, Ewa, spent 3 hours since we arrived until we left the consulate. Finally leaving by 5pm, and seeing that the queue was then even longer than when we had arrived at 2pm, we wondered how many people would not make it in time, since the polls were closing at 8pm. What happened today actually broke the civil rights and was anti-constitutional: every Polish citizen has the right to exercise their right to vote in equal grounds. And this did not happen today. Not only were many people late to vote due to the queuing, but many others did not stand the wait and decided to go back home given the situation, which is certainly beneficial to Kaczinski's interest.

The ones that decided to stay and vote took it, at least, with humor and patience. Polish people do not complain when it comes to their governments, used as they are to these sort of situations. As Ewa was telling me, Poland is the country of queues. Let us hope that their effort today was worth it, and that today's negligence could not stop the necessary political change in Poland. They deserve it.

17.10.07

Photo store: Oude Markt, Leuven

Éstas por los viejos tiempos (for old time's sake)...



14.10.07

Music store: Nick Drake

Nick Drake, another genius. Unknown for most of us, specially outside of the UK. This guy released 3 LPs, in the seventies. He committed suicide when we was 26 years old... god. Deep depression, alienation, solitude. Who knows, he could not bear it anymore.

At least we have his music. And hell it's worth it. His guitar chords, his string works, were extremely innovative in music. Even more astonishing is the fact that he did not learn to play the guitar anywhere, he learn it by himself, in his bedroom, mostly during the night.

His three LPs, Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1970) and Pink Moon (1972) are all mind blowing. Detached lyrics, aching melancholy, make this the perfect music for when you are feeling miserable, by his songs, apart from sad, are immensely beautiful and dreamy. Definitely not to be missed. Some of his best pieces are Day Is Done, Pink Moon and the colossal River Man and Things Behind the Sun.

This is one of his saddest songs, Place To Be, with lines like "I'm darker that the deepest sea". I hope you are in a good mood:




And to finish, River Man, with its compelling strings and sense of alienation ("Betty said she prayed today for the sky to blow away"). Nitenite:

13.10.07

Photo store: mar de algodón

Despega el avión, está nublado. El aparato asciende, se mete entre las nubes. Y de repente emerge a la superficie, para descubrirte el espectáculo, el mar de algodón. El sol en su paraíso privado, su escondite secreto. Siempre me he preguntado que habrían escrito los grandes poetas del pasado sobre tal escena, las olas de vapor, la luz pura y helada, el sol armado, limpio, los montes de agua.

Volando de Bruselas a Barcelona:



11.10.07

Photo store: Panteon, Roma

Easter '07, we went to the old city, marvelously hosted by Daniele's family. Roma, lovely nights, and that nice feeling of being at home.

10.10.07

In Rainbows: my personal review

Wow, this is a good CD. I just heard it a couple of times, but this is good. Maybe not as innovative as OK Computer or Kid/A, but reaches heights in beauty, cohesion and completion as a work of art. The string accompaniments by Johnny are fantastic, and the voice of Thom Yorke is again incredible, giving infinitely refined textures to all the songs, which again do not follow the typical structure, but always start somewhere and end up somewhere completely different. Here is a song-by-song review:

01.- 15 steps: already a favourite. The initial mess is meant to wake you up. Thom starts complaining about something when Johnny comes in to bring the melody, and the Thom follows with a beautiful voice melody on top. And then the glorious bass enters. And so the songs starts growing on you, and you feel better and better, feeling even like dancing. The kids shout, and all is joy. Then, towards the end, dreamy guitar sounds, together with a gorgeous bass again, take you around the universe and back. Love the distortion in the guitar towards the end. A highlight.

02.- Bodysnatchers: dirty sounds to start this fast, energetic song. It grows on you. It has some National Anthem hidden in it in the synth landscapes. Thom performs angrily to follow the drums, in speed. At the end, the airy guitar and the voice of Thom begging let loose and we reach the climax, among incredible chords. before the song dies not without putting up a good fight.

03.- Nude: as romantic as Radiohead ever got. The guitar is a pleasure throughout, so delicate. And the voice of Thom, always remarkable. The melody, though, lacks simplicity, directness, and it feels more like a succession of grand chords. Beautiful as it is, it will need several more listens to grasp it as a whole. The last voice crescendo is a moment to remember.

04.- Weird fishes / Arpeggi: it starts a bit like Song 2 of Blur, but it suddenly becomes so melancholic that it hurts. The guitar melody is just overwhelming, and Thom makes it feel so hopeless. The drums help you keep up the pace, while you just want to cry. And then everything stops and some hope arises. Weird fishes starts. And the song enters then an alarm stage, with Thom singing at low pitch, while the guitar is begging for escape with Thom, slightly reminding Knives out. Amazing ending.

05.- All I need: first time I heard this one I was not entirely convinced by the sound they've chosen for the melody notes, as I had only heard it with grand piano. But after a couple of times, it starts to work out fine with me. The tickling bells are a nice contrast to the sound that seems to get closer to a plain piano as the song advances. When the drums let loose, the crescendo is like a warm embrace, and then Thom wraps it up with his crescendos. Sweet.

06.- Faust Arp: this is a clear homage to Beatles. Even the initial One, two, three, four reminds us of Taxman. The rest of the songs has some Blackbird and some Dear Prudence in it, even in the length of the song. To me, another highlight in the album. The combination of acoustic guitar and strings works just great. I may be stretching it, but I hear some Nick Drake there too.

07.- Reckoner: this song has been there forever, although I didn't know it too much. The echo throughout the song give it a dreamy touch, which Thom helps as well with his whining. As always, the piano brings completeness to the composition. When it all stops and the voices come in, we can intuit 2+2=5 just before the you have not been paying attention part. But the song soon deviates from there to finish up quite poppily, with some more string work from Johnny. Is it me or I hear the same sound effects as in Pull pull revolving doors?. Not the strongest song in the album.

08.- House of cards: moody song, with a nice'n'slow pace, to lay back and enjoy. Echoing here and there help that effect. It is possibly the song in which Thom voice leads the most, above all other instruments. Everything else seems to float around it to keep it warm, but it's Thom who brings the action. Not a personal favourite, but very enjoyable.

09.- Jigsaw falling into place: this is a completely new song for me, and I love it. Starts fast and you feel like jumping on a running train. The voice goes up and down as in a roller coaster. Then, Thom starts singing a bit a la Edge in Numb, in contrast with the melodic background vocals. Guitar interlude and Thom gets crazy, jumps on the chair and starts shouting as the guitar brings some help. Nice familiar Radiohead structure. And the the guitar draws again a beautiful melody, together with the strings, while Thom says goodbye to the song.

10.- Videotape: as many other people, I've not been pleasantly surprised by this version of the song, as I considered the live version far far better, with the guitar crescendo and decrescendo, while Thom's voice wonders around. But again, what do I know what Thom and Co had in mind here. It is true, however, that this version is appealing on its own. The naked piano in the beginning gets you real deep, and the percussion work is, well, puzzling, until Phil comes in and makes a bit of sense with the cymbal. I'm still trying to figure out the background nonesense with the repetitive drum. As a reference, I attach here the live version:

9.10.07

Music store: Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens is another gem. This guy got very famous with the release of his cd Illinois, 2005, voted best album of the year by many many critics.

He's an artist with a style of his own, very original. His songs tend to grow steadily to end up in an aphoteosis of mostly wind and percussion instruments, ressembling a full orchestra at times. This, together with choir voices, may sound pretentious, but after listening to some of his songs, one ends up understanding that he just can't help the grandiosity. Actually, the choirs and the abundance of sounds and instruments potentiates the lyricism and religiosity of his music.

He is a talented multi-instrumentalist. His lyrics are very spiritual most of the times, revolving around US landscapes, religion and human relationaships. What is more important, some of his melodies can give you the goose skin, that beautiful they are. And that's not common.

Some of his best songs include Casimir Pulaski Day, Come on! Feel the Illinoise, The Henney Buggy Band, John Wayne Garcy Jr and The Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake. This is Concerning the UFO sighting near highland:



And this is Chicago, his most famous song, soundtrack in the movie Little Miss Sunshine:

Music store: Polly Jean Harvey

I've decided to talk about PJ Harvey because she just released a new cd, White Chalk. She is a rock star, the old way. An interesting member of stardom. She became famous with her LP Dry, released when she was 22. Some of her hits include Dress, Sheela-Na-Gig, To bring you my love, Down by the water, Send his love to me, Big exit, Good Fortune, The mess we're in (featuring Thom Yorke from Radiohead), This is love...

Polly Jean sings as a hurt cat. I don't mean she whines ans shrieks annoyingly. What I mean is that she's a wild sexy pussycat with a mini-skirt and a microphone, crying for love and understanding, most of the time. Don't expect many layers in her music, she's kinda raw. And powerful. And energetic, uncontrollable, untamed. Although not always: her last but one LP, Uh huh her, was close to crap. Almost everyone agreed on that one. The good news is that her latest cd, White Chalk, has generated all but unanimity. She has raised the pitch of her voice, changed the guitar for the piano, and sings her new songs quietly, as if in a long, peaceful hangover. Being very different from her previous cds, this is the kind of album that some consider her best and most intimate while others are left wondering what the hell is wrong with her. But that's good, see, because unanimity rarely means genius and more often than not means boring, lame. This cd shows that Polly Jean is changing, like the sea, the landscapes, like each of us. And that, for her music, can only be healthy.

Here goes my favourite PJ's song, Down by the water (don't miss the guy playing the guitar with a knife):

Pictures of people going nuts

So more pictures from the weeding party have reached me... wow. I promise to post all of them in Picasa once I gather pictures from more people, but here's an advance. This pictures are from my cousin, Santi (thanks!). In the first one, Manu appears to be in a very nice dream, although probably he did not know where he was dancing with Gosia or with a telephone post. In the second picture, well, what can I say, love is in the air ;). The third is... Ruben in its pure essence.





Love you all!!

7.10.07

Music store: Joy Division

We just came back from the cinema, went to watch Control. It's a biopic of Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division, the late 70's band from Manchester that did so much for the Manchester scene in that period (together with bands like the Happy Mondays). The poor guy was so messed up that committed suicide at the age of 23. A pity really. The movie is pretty good, although you are left a little bit confused at the end as to why he committed suicide, since the only problem he had was that he didn't love his wife anymore, not the most uncommon of problems. The movie does not explore the effects of his epileptic condition and the medication he needed to take on his mental health and ultimate suicide. However it went, he killed both himself and Joy Division on the 18th of May, 1980.

Let this be a little homage to the band, creators of raw and simple musical landscapes to surround Ian's deep, emotional poems. This is Transmission, one of their most famous songs. A pure gem. Don't miss the geeky dance of Mr. Curtis, for which he's famous:


video


But not everything is sadness and mourning. From the ashes of Joy Division another band was born: New Order. But that's a different story...

Photo store: Brandenburger Tor

Ewa and me were in Berlin in August 2006 visiting my friend Rubèn and his girlfriend Friederike. Impressive as it is, the history behind the Brandemburg Gate makes it even more so.


Pi

Wisława Szymborska is a Polish poetess. She was awarded the Nobel prize in 1996. She's great because she writes accessible poetry, not the type that some pseudo-intellectual poets write, as if you needed an IQ of 314 to understand what the hell they are talking about. Her poetry is beautiful and moving, cheerful and entertaining.

One of her poems deals with the number pi. Ain't that nice. This is an extract, in Spanish:

¨El admirable número pi
tres coma uno cuatro uno.
Las cifras que siguen son también preliminares
cinco nueve dos porque jamás acaba.
No puede acabarlo seis cinco tres cinco la mirada,
ocho nueve ni el cálculo
siete nueve ni la imaginación, ...¨

Having studied some math myself and being able to appreciate the inherent beauty in mathematics, I thought I´d add here my own and very personal mathematical poem of pi. Here it goes:



Radio Paradise

I've added a link to Radio Paradise, the coolest radio station on the Internet. They are listener-supported, which means that they do not broadcast any sort of advertisement or commercials, but rather leave it up to the listeners to donate some money to keep it going. The songs they play have been uploaded by users and, what is better even, songs only jump to the playlist after having been voted by the users in a provisional playlist. Basically, only the stuff most people like make it to the air. It's pretty cool. Here's the logo-link


The station was created by Bill and Rebecca in California, form their own garage. I hope you like it. It's great when you don't know what to listen to, and you discover lots of new stuff here. Enjoy.

Music store: Radiohead

And since R A D I O H E A D is by far my favourite band, it has to be added into the Music store straight away. Nobody out there is doing anything close to these guys, no one.

These guys are genius. Their ability to explore new melodies, the insatiable will to learn about new instruments and techniques, their pursuit of naked musical beauty... make them special. No other band, except the Beatles (to whom Radiohead owe so much) have felt to uncomfortable with their own success and have tried so hard to escape from commercial comfort findi

ng in their way new sounds of unexpected quality and artistic talent. And what the hell, no other band has made me feel like these guys have, and that's enough for me. From the lightest melodies (No surprises, Nice dream, Like spinning plates) to the angriest guitar riffs (Just, Myxomatosis, the colossal Paranoid android), Radiohead can take you emotionally around the world in a few songs, leaving you not knowing whether to laugh or to cry.

Other Radiohead hits include Planet Telex, Fake plastic trees, Airbag, Karma police, Subterranean homesick alien, The national anthem, How to disappear completely (know as Yorke's favourite Radiohead song), Morning bell, Pyramid song, Optimistic, 2+2=5, Sail to the moon... the list is long. As you may know, they've just released their 7th PL, In Rainbows. Life could not be better.

It has been difficult for me to choose songs to post here, but to keep it low I've chosen two of the most inspiring, compelling songs these guys have composed. That anyone have composed for that matter: the live performances of Pyramid song (with Colin in the contrabass and three ondes martenot!) and Everything in it's right place. Enjoy.



Music store: Midlake

With the same idea in mind as with the Photo store, in the Music store I will add music that I like, bands that somehow bring something new to music from my very personal point of view. Surely, this won't include only new bands. I start to get tired to listen to new stuff, plus there's so much old good music out there. Basically, anything that made my life better will be here.


The first Music store post goes for Midlake, a band from Texas whose music is so light and fragile that leaves you almost untouched, but caresses you with pure beauty. Check this out from the latest CD, The trials of Van Occupanther. This is called Roscoe:





Their first LP, Bamman and Silvercork, is less commercial and more experimental, showing the true talent in these guys for a debug album. The psychedelic sounds and delicate melodies take you somewhere new in music, reminiscent sometimes of Radiohead (the lead voice has been quoted as Thom Yorke on Valium) or Pink Floid. Either way, there's something making these guys special, the infinite looseness of their songs, the feeling of detachment, the apparent lack of hope and energy that hides, actually, a whole new world of musical textures.

Some of their best songs are The jungler, Kingfish pies, Roscoe, Head home or We gathered in spring.

Photo store: Ewa in Varadero

I intend to add here pictures that I find compelling, beautiful, pictures I took. Some of them may have been modified using Photoshop, hopefully giving some improvement. Hope you like them. This is the first one, Ewa in Varadero, Cuba, october 2006.

6.10.07

We got married

A week ago Ewa and me got married! It was in Krakow, and it was just great. We came back on Tuesday and hadn't have the time to reflect on it or write about it. There's so much to explain that I won't even start. Those of you who were there know how great it was, of special. Thanks all of you for being there! Love you all. This is us cutting the cake:



David explains in a few words how it was (as long as he can remember):


He also posted a nice video. It's when we come into the hotel for the dinner and we follow the Polish tradition of eating the bread and salt offered by the parents. After that, we throw our glasses above our heads in signal of good luck. I love that part:



Hopefully I'll be adding more impressions, pictures and memories here, in time.

In Rainbows

Only they could do it. Genious. Fuck the middleman:


Long live R A D I O H E A D. Here is a nice advance. This song, Down is the new Up, is not available in the download, but will appear in the box set:



Grandfalloons everywhere

In Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut hilariously invents and describes a religion, Bokononism. This religion exists on an island of the Caribbean, and it is based on The Books of Bokonon. The first sentence in the book is genius, as a satire of religion: "All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies".

One of the most important concepts in this religion is the karass, described by Bokonon in this way: "If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons, that person may be a member of your karass". For true love, Vonnegut describes an special karass, made up of only two people: a duprass. I like the idea of a karass: we all meet those people, once in a while, with which we feel a strange connection, a deep link, even if we only meet for an evening, for a week, for an hour, members of our particular karass, which then disappear in time as lightly as they came by.

But an even more revealing concept within Bokononism is that of Granfalloons: "it is a false karass, a seeming team that is meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done. Other examples of grandfalloons are the Communist Party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, The General Electric Company, the International Order of Old Fellows - and any nation, anytime, anywhere.". So a Grandfalloon is a group of people that believe that they belong to something, while this something is just not there, it's an illusion. As I was saying, Grandfalloons everywhere.