domingo, octubre 31, 2010

Los "cool"

Los "cool" son individuos que hacen cosas "cool". Ellos mismos son los que encargan de dictar lo que es "cool" y lo que no es "cool". Y encontrarán la manera de hacértelo saber.

Los "cool" no sólo se conforman con ser "cool", a ellos les resulta imperativo hacerlo público. Para ello harán uso de sus cuentas en Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr. Y blogs. Porque resulta que desde hace un par de años, también es "cool" tener un blog.

Los "cool" se saludan de manera "cool". Si se encuentran en un evento "cool" como la fiesta de lanzamiento de una nueva bebida energizante, la inauguración de un nuevo local "cool" o el aniversario de una revista "cool", las mujeres "cool" se saludarán con un beso en cada mejilla, a lo francés, mientras que los hombres "cool" se saludarán con un medio abrazo luego de darse un apretón de manos con cierto toque "hip-hop". (Porque sí, oh, sí, el hip-hop es muy "cool".)

Los "cool" usan palabras que son "cool" en otros idiomas. El inglés es su primera opción, pero también suelen utilizar el francés y el italiano -aunque no lo sepan hablar. (El alemán no es "cool", por cierto.)

Los "cool" viajan a sitios "cool". Londres, Nueva York, Los Ángeles y Barcelona suelen ser sus destinos predilectos. Ellos compartirán sus experiencias mediante tweets, o posts en sus blogs, en los que escribirán sobre lo que hacen por allá -y hasta sobre lo que no pudieron hacer también. De igual forma, ellos se encargarán de hacerte saber que fueron a muchos conciertos de artistas "cool" mientras estuvieron por allá.

Los "cool" pertenecen a un exclusivo grupo de personas. Algunos "cool" trabajan en radio, prensa y productoras de eventos como fiestas, conciertos, desfiles de moda, ferias de arte y de diseño. Su trabajo les garantiza un privilegiado acceso a ciertas cosas que el resto de las personas no tiene. Por ejemplo, si un famoso cantante se encuentra de visita en Caracas o en Nueva York para ofrecer una presentación, ellos seguramente tendrán acceso a la rueda de prensa, al backstage del concierto, o a entrevistarlo en su programa de radio "cool". Los "cool" no tardarán entonces en postear, en su blog o en su páginas en Twitter y Facebook, alguna anécdota relacionada con esa experiencia. Dirán algo así como que se encontraron con el cantante Sultanito en los pasillos de tal hotel y que luego se pusieron a hablar con él. El tweet dirá algo así como "acabo de hablar con Sultanito! demasiado pana!" Una foto donde se muestre a Sultanito junto al "cool" de lo más sonriente registrará el hecho.

A los "cool" les encanta hacer reuniones en sus casas "cool", donde sólo invitan a sus amigos "cool". Una vez más, ellos lo notificarán vía Twitter. Incluso, estando bajo el mismo techo, se twittearán chistes internos entre ellos, es decir, cosas que sólo los "cool" pueden entender. Los tweets vendrán firmados por el hashtag que se ha creado para la ocasión.

Lo que no saben los "cool", es que los verdaderos cool, los que no llevan comillas, son precisamente cool porque no buscan serlo. A diferencia de los "cool", ellos dejan que sus ideas, proyectos y logros, que es a final de cuentas lo que los hace cool, hablen por sí mismos.

Lo que no saben los "cool", es que la gente más cool de este mundo es la más humilde.

miércoles, octubre 27, 2010

Oneohtrix Point Never: scoring a dirty environment

I love listening to weird music. But “weird” in the sense of being made out of a genuine creative impulse, not “weird” just because of trying to sound “experimental”. That been said, electronic music seems to be one of the most fertile fields where experimental undertakings grow healthy. With the aide of such a great amount of available technological tools, a lot of musicians have been able to make music using just their laptops –“laptop music” has already become some sort of a term to describe that type of music as a matter of fact. However, just a few artists have proved to be talented and hard working enough to deliver significant material. Oneohtrix Point Never is one of those musicians that belong to that elite. On Returnal (2010), his latest effort, Daniel Lepatin has made a delightful work of “ambient noise” –synth-oriented music filled with rare sounds, made with the purpose of taking you on a journey to places you’ve never thought of before. His music might be challenging to listen to at first indeed, but once you pay a good amount of attention and lose yourself to his offer, you’ll certainly enjoy this great weird music. Give yourself a treat, get out that listening comfort zone and listen to this unusual yet beautiful music.

Listen to this remix of Returnal featuring Antony Hegarty

sábado, octubre 23, 2010

A veces blanco y negro

A veces sueño en blanco y negro.

Sueño que beso a alguien que quiero en blanco y negro.
Sueño que beso a alguien que quiero en una ciudad en blanco y negro.

Y hay veces, como esta, en las que vivo ese sueño en blanco y negro.

Hay veces en las que vivo que beso a alguien que quiero en blanco y negro.
Hay veces en las que vivo que beso a alguien que quiero en una ciudad en blanco negro.

(La foto es de Robert Doisneau y se titula "Le baiser de l'Hotel de Ville")

jueves, octubre 21, 2010

Así suena el cielo

Allá donde estás tú, abuelo.

Quien te ama y te extraña,

Tu nieto

(Final de la Sinfonía No. 2 “Resurrección” de Gustav Mahler, interpretada por la London Philharmonic Orchestra y dirigida por Leonard Bernstein)

miércoles, octubre 20, 2010

Time stands still: the endless drama of war

War is a drama within itself. Every work of art that aspires to portray this prominent attribute of human condition must touch and embrace sensitive issues inherent to it -loss, hurt, suffering. So when you go to see a play that promises to embark on such a challenging endeavor, and you get out of the theater genuinely touched by experiencing a tour de force onstage, that work of art has succeeded indeed. That been said, Time stands still is a successful dramatic play.

Time stands still, written by Donald Margulies and directed by Daniel Sullivan, tells the story of Sarah (Laura Linney), a war photographer who gets seriously hurt while covering an armed conflict in Afghanistan. Sarah comes back to New York to recover from those injuries with the aide of Jamie (Brian D'Arcy James), her longtime boyfriend. The play focuses then on those critical days -the postwar days.

This production not only concentrates on war as a general topic; it also presents it to us as a personal subject. Each one of the characters faces his own wars. Sarah's is perhaps the most explicit case -she has to deal directly with the consequences of being so close to the war. Jamie, for instance, has to fight with his doubts on his current relationship with Sarah and his discontent of living an unfulfilled life. Richard (Eric Bogosian), Sarah’s friend and boss, faces his own conflict against aging, somewhat materialized by the relationship he maintains with Mandy (Christina Ricci) -a woman much younger than him. And finally, Mandy has to struggle with her new group of friends, one that, according to her, chooses to only look at the darkest side of life.

Mandy is a crucial character in the play. She embodies a fresh point of view. Her shallowness not only brings the funniest moments to the stage -it also offers a different perspective, perhaps due to her youth. Mandy's role is quite significant in dramas as deep as this. Without her part, the play might end up becoming a load too heavy to carry for the theatergoers throughout its almost two hours. Her bright standpoint delivers an enjoyable and necessary amount of fun to the production.

One of the most outstanding features of the play is definitely its cast. Everyone delivers an astonishing performance. Laura Linney undoubtedly offers the strongest -and most applauded- one. Christina Ricci, on her Broadway debut, managed to impress us all by offering a hilarious performance. Eric Bogosian gives also a terrific act. Brian D'Arcy James is also a good addition, perhaps a little bit eclipsed by the dazzling participation of the rest.

The first act of the play is, in my opinion, the best accomplished. It involves the war's most severe damage on Sarah -her emotional injuries. Another type of battle soon surfaces between Jamie and Sarah because of that psychological fragility. During this part of the play, Sarah confesses she was unfaithful to Jamie while she was in Afghanistan -her lover was killed by the same bomb that caused her those terrible wounds. Consequently, this not only accentuates Jamie's insecurities about his relationship with her, but it also emphasizes his worries about where his own life might be heading. He loves Sarah and ends up by forgiving her, but the war doesn't quite end yet.

This is the definite dramatic peak of the play, and it comes at the end of the first act. The climax manages to last longer than you would have normally expected, and it extends just enough to grab the attention of an audience that loses itself to the most endearing passage of the production. This is the best moment in the play.

In contrast, the second act is the most positive one, but it is also the weakest. The play loses that remarkable tension it brought at the end of the first one, and the performances fall short not because of the actors, but because of the plot itself. In the second half of the play Sarah and Jamie get married and Mandy gets pregnant. Everything seems to be working out well for everyone but that, once again, doesn’t mean the conflict is over -at least for Sarah.

Sarah got married to Jamie under the promise that she would try to make significant changes in her life –live her days at a slower pace, have a child. But she fails at it. On the other hand, Jamie moves on with his life, first by breaking up with her and then by dating another woman. In parallel, Mandy and Eric live happily as a couple enjoying the company of a new comer –their new baby.

For Sarah, though, it seemed as if life didn't go on. She totally recovered physically at the end of the play but her mindset, as a picture, remained unaltered, static, inert.

Her life, as a picture, stood still.

martes, octubre 12, 2010

Mark Ronson: a piece of good taste

I couldn't think of a better word to describe Mark Ronson's musical personality than 'versatile'. Celebrity Dj, producer and music conaisseur have been the terms used by the media to portray him. Nonetheless, Ronson has now embarked himself on becoming a songwriter with the release of Record collection (2010) -his sophomore album as a solo artist. Ronson has produced tracks for artists like Lily Allen, Robbie Williams, Adele, Amy Winehouse and, most recently, Duran Duran. He has admitted that, after working with the legendary British act, he became obsessed with synthesizers and their sound aesthetics. If you listen to Bang bang bang, the first track on the album, you'll definitely tell the influence. Unlike Version (2007), his opera prima, where Ronson arranged and produced covers à la old-school soul, Record moves forward and goes modern -and original. For this album, Ronson has written original tunes (and also sings) with the aid of his many collaborators including Boy George, Q-Tip, Ghostface Killah and D'Angelo. Record collection is catchy, poppy, dancey, and somewhat sophisticated. This is the type of album producers make -detail oriented, strong focus on structure and arrangements and with an evident intention of delivering good songs. Record collection is not just a fun album; it also embodies a very good promise of what Ronson may offer us soon.

This is the video for Bang bang bang featuring MNDR and Q-Tip

lunes, octubre 04, 2010

On three great Metal records

Metal has been one of the types of music I've been listening to the most since I was a kid. Metallica's Black Album and Pantera's Official 101 Life Proof became the definitive soundtrack of my teenage years -which is when I started to listen seriously to music.

Listening to those bands led me to discover other legendary metal acts like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin -a group on which many agree to consider one of hard rock's predecessors.

Later on, when I was in High School, I became an enthusiastic follower of Nu-Metal, a genre that seemed to take the command from Rage Against the Machine and Faith No More, both pioneers in combining rap with rock. I really just can't remember how many times I must have listened to Korn's Follow the leader, Incubus' S.C.I.E.N.C.E., Deftones' Around the fur, Limp Bizkit's Significant other or Linkin Park's Hybrid theory.

When I got into College I discovered the amazing music of The Doors, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, and even though I was starting to lose interest in Nu-Metal, I never stopped listening to Metal -Pantera's live album was among the first ones I put in my first iPod and I'm sure it will hold its position among my all-time favorite records.

After that whole Nu-Metal craze was over, I stopped listening to it. I just wasn't into it anymore. However, there was a band I'd never stop listening to, simply because they managed to stand out from the rest. They weren't necessarily a Nu-Metal band but, in a way, they managed to take advantage of the great moment that music was having.

First record: Mudvayne

That band was called Mudvayne: four guys that played heavy music with their painted faces. And they were special not only because of their colorful act on stage, but because they were also astonishingly proficient with their instruments. Additionally, the structure of their songs resembled more those of a progressive rock act than those of a regular metal: refined intros, virtuosic transitions and sophisticated riffs. Their approach felt more stylish than the others', thus their sound ended up being quite unique. Their music could sometimes reached a few melodic peaks, yet it was not catchy; their music was accessible, yet it was never easy to listen to.

Mudvayne never stopped making music. It wasn't always good, but they worked hard to keep an admirable prolific pace. Earlier this year they edited Mudvayne, in my opinion, one of their best releases to date. After their disappointing New game (2008), which drove them to a failed attempt to deliver short and mediocre radio-friendly tunes, they have come up with great material much closer to that outrageous music they recorded on Ld 50 (2000) and The end of all things to come (2002) -my other favorites of their catalog.

For this new album, they're back with complex songs -elaborate intros, experimental endings and intricate arrangements. Mudvayne is a great testament to their outstanding talent. Once again, they have immersed themselves into structure-oriented songwriting to craft excellent pieces. Take for example 1000 mile journey and Heard it all before, tunes that show how much they have progressed as song auteurs. Growth is what you shall recognize if you compare this music to that of their previous efforts.

This is the video for Scream with me

Second record: Stampede

One of the saddest moments in metal history, the murder of Pantera's extraordinary and beloved guitar player Dimebag Darrell, would bring Mudvayne and Pantera's worlds together. They joined forces to form a southern metal supergroup called Hellyeah! The new ensemble promised a lot, but it failed to please metal's legion of fans when they released their self-titled album in 2007.

Luckily, their sophomore record tells another story: expectations have not only been fulfilled this time, they have been exceeded. With Stampede (2010) they have accomplished to literally sound like supergroup. And that means great music. You'll find good trash metal in frantic tunes and you'll even get to find beautiful melodies in some ballads. When every member of a group brings his best to the table, a solid piece of music like Stampede gets made.

This is the video for Cowboy way

Third record: The final frontier

Iron Maiden was one of those bands I never stopped listening to once I discovered it. I was so fascinated by their songs, that I remember I even started to collect several live versions of them -which it wasn't hard since they have plenty of live recordings. Nonetheless, I wasn't impressed by the music they were making in recent years. It seemed to me that they were not bringing anything fresh; instead, it seemed they had found a formula and then refused to stay out of that comfort zone.

A few weeks ago Iron Maiden crafted quite a surprise to metal listeners around the world. A huge buzz over the Internet said that Iron Maiden had challenged themselves while recording The final frontier (2010), their last record. It then became mandatory for me to hear that in order to believe it. It was a promise that sounded way too good to be true.

And it was great, as a matter of fact. The final frontier is one of the finest metal records I've heard in a long time. This music literally blew me away. I just couldn't believe what I was listening to when I first played it in my iPod. And trust me, I'm not overreacting -this album is that good.

Unlike other metal big names that continue to release new music like Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Heaven and Hell or even Metallica, Iron Maiden have proved with The final frontier that a music legend can indeed write legendary music.

This is the video for The final frontier

When I was a little boy I always wondered if I would ever get bored of listening to distorted guitars, blasting cymbals and screaming vocals. Now, being almost 30, I'm sure I will not stop listening to this music as long as it stays relevant and interesting - just as these three records I have written about have managed to accomplish.