Only Revolutions: Our love affair with vinyl


Vinyl is a format that has enjoyed mainstream success for a very long time, from the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, through to Beatlemania and beyond, it has been a format that has refused to die. It saw its eventual downturn in mainstream popularity with the introduction of the cassette and at the advent of the digital age with the CD. But to some, it has never gone out of style.

The record collector, you will see us in record stores & charity shops, eagerly flicking through records with catlike dexterity for that next find to quicken the pulse. What is it that makes us do this? it certainly isn’t the convenience of filling our living spaces with large amounts of vinyl of varying degrees of value and expense, so what is it?

Some maintain it is the audio quality that is superior, a presence that just isn’t there in the digital format. For others, simply finding that rare or sort after record can produce an odd euphoria akin to the drop at the top of a roller coaster, it’s there, in the pit of your stomach and i have experienced it on one or two occasions admittedly. Perhaps it’s the comforting familiarity in the age-old ritual of simply putting on a record? The musty smell of the old record sleeve, carefully wiping any dust from the surface before setting it down on the turntable and lowering the needle, waiting for the crackle or pop of a worn, well-loved record? I myself can relate to that one with a wonderful copy of Johnny Cash: I walk the line, a song that can only truly be enjoyed with the characteristic crackle of aged vinyl. It is a feeling that is immensely satisfying i must say.

Maybe it’s all those things? A sense of history & place etched in polyvinyl chloride, sat neatly on our shelves, satisfying all our musical needs and maybe in some dark, dirty corner of our subconscious, that age-old ingrained need for possession, MINE!!

One point I think that can be universally agreed upon is the most obvious, it’s because we love music. We want to experience an album in the format it was intended, we want to hear subtle nuances on records that just aren’t noticeable on CD (I had this with a copy of Tom Waits: Mule Variations I bought from my local record shop, still to this day the best record i own, i swear you can hear fingers grazing piano keys) We want that fancy vinyl only 8 disc 180g special edition with liner notes in a velveteen box……ok, maybe not ALL of us on that last one.

There is no grand overarching answer here, it probably is all those things, some more than others. One thing is for sure, it’s not going away anytime soon. Vinyl sales are competing admirably with those of CD and streaming services, its recent peak in popularity bringing to my mind a theory presented by a fictitious version of Tony Wilson in the film ’24 hour party people’ of certain things in life being cyclical, ascendant one moment, descendant the next and so on forever and ever, and with each return to prominence, a new generation of vinyl gannets eagerly pacing the aisles of our local record shops in hope of that next great find.

 

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Learning to walk: A thank you.

Hey Guys, 2016 was the year that I decided to take the leap into the world of writing, the first steps of which being to start a blog. It didn’t take that big a leap to become a blogger, to wax lyrical about that which I am passionate about. It has been very much of a learning curve, testing ideas, thinking out the composition of pieces, knowing what to say and what not to say and being able to steer myself from being one of those kinds of people who writes in the public eye just to vent spleen at that which offends their sensibilities. I wanted above all things to be a level headed critic, to not actively search out that which would appear inflammatory or provocative but to honestly give my two cents to anyone who would care to listen.

I picked a pretty good year to start blogging, popular culture in 2016 certainly gifted me with a wealth with which to cast my eye over critically and also a lot of things I already have love for to enthuse about, I’m just hoping that I did so in an interesting, engaging and hopefully informative way and turned a few people’s heads toward checking out something I have talked about.

I am feeling very much at home now as a writer and hope I can continue and evolve and improve in 2017 and beyond. Thank you to those of you that have read what I have put out this year and for offering many kind words of support and encouragement, it really does mean a lot to me. Anyways, I am in danger of falling into the writing pitfall of waffling on so I’ll leave you by wishing you a happy new year and an awesome 2017.
Much love
M

Bulls**t Artist! A The Greasy Strangler review.


Directed by: Jim Hosking

Starring: Michael St Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth DeRazzo

This is a deeply odd film, that is probably self-evident, but this film absolutely revels in bad acting, the absurd, the disgusting, the sleezy and the wonders of repetition.

Big Ronnie & Big Brayden are a father and son who live together and hold disco tours of their town to make a living, soon the two are pit against each other for the affections of a woman who one day takes their tour. The town has also at this time become the stalking ground of a serial killer who slathers himself in cooking grease, as you do.

This film will bug the living hell out of some and absolutely slay others, The acting is deliberately bad and very awkwardly delivered at time lingering on or repeating a subject ad nauseum to the hilarity or complete annoyance of the viewer. The sense of humour present is very weird with oddly British sensibilities I thought. It’s a style of film making that brings to mind the works of John Waters and to an extent, Harmony Korine.

The acting is very hard to gauge in this film as to if the actors are completely aware of how bad they are, which if they are, they deserve an Oscar in naturalistic bad acting. The amazingly monikered Michael St Michaels plays Big Ronnie, a man with equal obsessions in disco, coarse language, bodily emissions and greasy food. He is an horrific gargoyle of a man who elicits uncomfortable seat squirming as much as laughs, verbally bashing his ‘bullshit artist’ man-child son Big Brayden played by Sky Elobar, kind of like a young Jeffery Tambor with a penchant for pink short shorts/jumper combos.

The insanity on screen is backed by an equally whacked out synth soundtrack by Andrew Hung. It is as odd as the film it accompanies so in it’s own way is utterly perfect.

Whether you enjoy The Greasy Strangler or not is kinda dependant in how odd your sense of humour is and how strong your stomach is. You will laugh and you won’t really know why, you will feel uncomfortable for a variety of reasons and one thing about viewing this film is a definite, you will not forget it.

You can’t take the sky from me: A first impression of No Man’s Sky.

Only Announced at E3 in 2013, it seems we had been waiting an eon for No Man’s Sky to arrive. Each passing year heaping more expectation on to the shoulders of developers Hello Games to deliver something truly special.

Within the first dozen hours or so with the game it become clear that that is most certainly the case. The scope is really quite staggering. You start on a planet next to your damaged ship and are basically told ‘fix it’, no hand holding, very few pointers, it lets you discover how to play the game. It all become very intuitive very quickly. Scan for resources, Mine those resources, craft those resource into parts for your ship, exosuit and multi-tool. It took me a good few hours to even get that done because there is just so much to explore, and this is just the one planet I started out on out of an entire universe. That part didn’t really dawn on me until I finished repairs on my ship and headed off into the black, or in this case yellow. When you break the planets atmosphere and are confronted with the vastness of what you have to explore, it really does become quite mind blowing.

It’s not a particularly unique premise for a game and is more than a little reminiscent of the Elite series on PC but with a suped up engine behind it, not that that is a bad thing, not at all as is appears. No Man’s Sky does indeed play like the old Elite games of yore but with a simplified, more arcade like control system. This allows you to seamlessly beat an hasty retreat on foot to your ship whilst being pursued by whatever form of nasty has taken offence to you and leap into the cockpit of your ship and be jetting out into the stratosphere within seconds, providing your jump thrusts don’t need refilling which happens to me A LOT. It makes for some very quick paced and dynamic encounters. It would have been a mistake I think to implement a big beardy control system like that of Elite into a console game like No Man’s Sky and risk alienating a portion of its proposed audience by bamboozling them with a full cockpit to control in every tiny detail. They have kept the premise and execution of the game and its mechanics nice and simple, anyone can pick up a controller and dive into No Man’s Sky and not feel overwhelmed by things being over complicated, you’ll feel overwhelmed enough by the enormity of what’s in front of you let alone a complex control system.

The other thing that I love about no man’s sky is there is no right or wrong way to play it. Want to fly to different planets obliterating everything in sight? Good luck to you, you can certainly try. Fancy the pirates life? You can carve your way through the universe robbing all you come in contact with, just don’t expect it to be an easy journey. Want to take the route I did of operating as a trader? Mining minerals to sell and upgrade my ship to make my journey to the galactic centre a little simpler, of course you can’t account for other NPC’s deciding you and your cargo are fair game and are then presented with the fight or fly choice. All of these avenues are open to you, There are so many ways to approach how you play, but in the end everyone has the same goal, reach the centre of the Galaxy.

This is a truly beautiful game, diverse planets, plant and animal life all wonderfully realised. The style of this game is very much influenced by the covers of science fiction novels of the 1970’s and 80’s, all abstract alien vistas and vibrant colours. I suppose it’s kind of difficult to appraise the layout of the game universe that is procedurally generated. What I can comment on is what I have encountered on my own journey. The planets I have discovered seem to have different forms of life and topography, I can’t really say hand on heart I’ve visited two I’ve found the same. The same can be said for the different star systems I have visited, huge planets, dead moons, space stations & cruisers, I’ve seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion and sky’s of different, vibrant hues (I may have made one of those up). No Man’s Sky is doing what it says on the tin. 

It isn’t faultless, since launch there have been issues technically, crashes and the like, but with a game as involved as this, I think that is to be expected really. PS4 issues pale in significance to our master race overlords who seem to have a lot of issues with with the PC version of the game, I’m not concerned with that though, this is first impressions on the PS4 version and on the whole, it plays just dandy.

You can mine each planets resources as you see fit for trade or to craft for supplies, the mineral deposits of planets can be refined into fuel for your ships warp engines to get you further toward your goal, of course that’s once you actually get a warp engine. The game is very well paced to keep setting you goals to chip away at to reach a target to progress further with enough to see and do to keep you interested.

It does remain to be seen whether No Man’s Sky will keep me hooked for the long haul or not. It is definitely a game that is going to receive a steady stream of abuse from some corners of the gaming community, it’s prospect is kind of marmite, you are going to love it or hate it, no half measures. At the time of writing this I am utterly immersed in the shear size and variety this universe has to offer and I can’t see me wanting to leave it anytime soon, the mystery of what is at its centre is far too tempting right now for me to want to give up anytime soon.

An Introduction

Hello, I’m Mr Mid and this is my awesome blog.

I get excited about stuff, geeky stuff mostly, stuff that might make some people go ‘Sad bastard’ and others go ‘Dude! I know right?!’. So, an outlet in which to creatively articulate how much i dig/loathe a certain thing has been something i have thought about doing for quite a while now. It is spurred primarily by my need to loudly proclaim my thoughts on music, film, TV and that. Now, whether people wish to listen to, or in this case, read it? that’s another matter entirely. Hopefully i will write about these subjects in such a way that is at least engaging, possibly amusing, and maybe, just maybe, at times interesting, even if you don’t agree with a word i am saying.

I am open to requests and all other forms of input on what to cover on the blog, you can post any requests in the comments section or the links provided.

M

#filmblog