“Clair De Lune” might have a literal translation of “moonlight”, but I hear it as more of a reflection of the life cycle of the moon itself more than just the moonlight that emanates from the partial or full moons.
It’s a beautiful five minute piece with 3 main components. The beginning has a very slow feel, that almost sways with the stars and the sun. The middle picks up in speed, whereby the song shows us the moon as it is fully revealed. And the ending concludes with the same soft sway that the beginning had.
It’s a reflective and retrospective piece, and one that is so popular it likely goes unnoticed as even being a composition of any major significance beyond its popularity, similar to pieces like “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven and “Prelude in E Minor” by Frederic Chopin. In fact, due to the way that I perceive the video game The Long Dark, “Clair De Lune” and said game would go incredibly well together as a music video/amalgamation of some type.
Australian progressive metal band Voyager have once again bestowed us with a brand new track from their upcoming album Colours in the Sun. The song “Colours” showcases the usual breakdown riffs common in Voyager songs while also introducing heavy synth wave influences alongside the metal portions of the song.
I’ve been listening to Voyager only since their last release The Ghost Mile, however I’ve grown fond of their older albums since then. While The Ghost Mile had a very heavy and collected demeanor to it, this new album seems to be based more on a retro throwback similar to what bands such as Syd Arthur and Nektar are doing, only (of course) heavier.
This upcoming album will likely be relying heavily on this throwback style with metal as an experiment, and I’m hoping that it pays off in the form of a big tour and new proggy songs to sing in the shower.
NorthTale is a recently formed power metal super group that signed to Nuclear Blast records in 2018. The band consists of members Bill Hudson (ex-Cellador, ex-Power Quest), Patrick Johansson (drummer, Sabaton fill-in, G3 drummer and W.A.S.P.), Christian Eriksson (Ex-Twilight Force), Mikael Planefeldt and Jimmy Pitts.
To call this a review of an album would be wrong on my end. I’ve been listening to Nick Drake’s Pink Mooneveryday for the last eight months. Initially, I had no reason to listen to his music at all. It seemed too confessional and rural for my tastes. I felt that the music was incredibly simple and barren on Pink Moon, featuring only a guitar and Nick Drake’s vocals.
But while there was certainly a rural sound to it similar to his first album, Five Leaves Left, I began to realize that this album had more of a street vibe going on. You know, just a man singing and playing his guitar on the side of the road for passersby. Don’t get me wrong, Nick Drake doesn’t sound anything like an amateur street-player. He’s an incredibly gifted guitarist and songwriter, and playing his guitar parts and singing simultaneously is more like rubbing your belly, tapping your head, tapping your foot and milking a cow at the same time, and then some. He’s got a great sense of timing and a unique since of Rhythm within a flow-like state of tempo.
Songs like “Which Will” and “Place to Be” really have that rhythm I am talking about. As a result of only playing guitar and singing on this record, the guitar has to fill a large space, functioning as both the rhythm, the melody accenting the vocals, and the instrumental portions of each song. Better, still, is how Drake complements the intricate guitar lines with odd times to come in for vocals. The accent for the vocal melody in “Place to Be” and “Parasite” comes in at the 2nd beat instead of the first. Because of the way he phrases his vocals on this album, we’re given a sense of that existential unease. Rather than simply singing of his loss of direction or purpose, each song serves to elevate that unease. We never really get a break from that unease either. Even approaching the end of the album, “Free Ride” and “Harvest” have mysterious and beautiful rhythms and melodies playing with each other. And of course, the constant bass notes on “From the Morning” closes the album with a since of optimism and that uneasiness. Like I said, there’s never really a break in the songs. They aren’t necessarily directionless or constant, but they do give off the feeling of a directionless, yet hopeful man.
Every song on the album, while short in length, is introspective and relatable in a human sense. Which is part of what made this album so close to me, because much of what he sings about had the same feelings and thoughts I had last year after nearly two years of depression. The music I was writing at the time was very angry, yet my own music lacked that sense of loss and motionlessness. While minimal in nature, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon conveys a very human record with questions and issues every individual human encounters at some point in life. And this is also likely the reason why I fell so deeply in love with the album; because of the nature of the record, I had a companion of sound to my own bouts of depression and, because of it, I’ve survived to let others know that there is music from people who know what you’re going through.
There’s a calm in the air as I type up this review. I am currently listening to William Ackerman’s album Passage. There is a guitarist sitting under a tree and playing to the clarity of his heart and the rhythm of his soul. Sound-wise, the album definitely falls under the new age genre, although this doesn’t have the same ambiance as a record full of synthesizer and electronic effects. It’s mainly a steel string guitar record, but the album also features piano, cello, violin, and English horn on individual songs. The sixth song on the record, “Hawk Circle”, for instance, has the piano playing a beautiful melody that circles in on itself multiple times while remaining in unison with the acoustic guitar. It’s clear there is a sad quality to the song, with my guess being that the song is about clash of hawks battling each other in the forest, a sad moment indeed to see nature fight herself.
Songs like the second track, “Impending Death of the Virgin”, present the guitar as an awakening of sorts, bringing to mind all of the things we associate with virginal qualities, both sexually and metaphorically. It feels good to understand how things work in the world, but there is a deadly quality to hearing the guitar tell you what you’re gaining, understanding, and what you’re losing, innocence. It’s a coming of age within an instrumental context.
Passage is the closing track on the record, and it definitely feels like a continuation of the music journey at a later time. It constantly flows and features only the guitar, a fitting way to end a predominantly guitar-based record to begin with. In this song, I imagine crossing a river leading to a waterfall surrounded on both sides by two stone monuments… essentially this scene from Lord of the Rings, and just as cool.
Nick Drake’s second album might have been a distinct departure from the pastoral identity of his first album Five Leaves Left, but it is no less folk music because of it. While critics at the time described the album as an awkward mix of folk guitar and cocktail jazz, the record is more a folk album with pop dealings in today’s music terms.
Welcome, Star Slime! For that is what you shall henceforth be known as while I address this letter to you and your budding strategists for conquering the galaxy.
First things first, who likes unemployment? Yes? Me too. I love not working. Or… no? Okay, you might not like this game. And I’m not just talking about unemployment in the real world, because that’d be too easy to sum up this review letter! No, you’ll also experience unemployment on the planets that you colonize and conquer throughout your journey to become the greatest space-faring civilization in your randomly generated galaxy’s history!
There are Fallen Empires. These are ancient civilizations, thousands of years old, that rapidly progressed in technological progress before falling off the deep end and stagnating for several hundred to a thousand years.
There are also empires that somehow developed and progressed to the point of FTL travel at the exact same time as your empire in the year 2200 on 01/01/2200. How exactly every regular empire in the game managed to acquire FTL travel at the exact same time as your civilization is beyond me, but hey, this game is customizable and interpretive. Write your own narrative for it! You can choose among the pre-made empires and races, or you can create your own, giving them their own copious backstory and other minuet details to create not just the basis for a perfect galactic species, but a perfect galactic empire filled with many species.
Ultimately, I play my empire fairly standard. I’ve been trying to get as many Steam achievements as possible, so I play on Iron Man mode right now, which is great fun and hard because you can’t just save and go back when your empire is getting crushed by a 5x more powerful crisis.
I modeled my empire after the Roman Republic and called it the Triarian Republic. Parallel to Roman civilization, my galactic civilization began as a republic, then transformed into a full-blown imperial empire after I acquired Psionic traits and contacted the Shroud (basically mental telepathy equivalent to the battle meditation ability in Star Wars KOTOR II, but way cooler and the whole species can use it). I am accepting of all the galaxy’s species as long as they are subservient to my Empire’s will. The big difference between my empire and the Roman one? Mine is led mainly by a venerable group of bipedal lizards and my God-Empress is immortal (please don’t get the drug abuser trait, God-Empress! I love you, live forever).
Doesn’t this all sound like fun? Are you feeling it now Mr. Slime? Are you feeling it now Mr. Slime? Are you feeling it now? Are you feeling it…
… the grind of exploring a randomly generated galaxy. The rising unemployment of a diverse empire. Developing your species to be mental telepathics. And ultimately taking over a galaxy filled with mortal dangers that could destroy your empire at any moment and cause you to cry at all the progress you lost in-game?
Does this all sound like fun? Yes! Look, I know I’m painting out this game to be more of a time-sucking bore than it is a great strategy game, but I’ve sunk over 280 hours into the game since May of last year. This is an incredibly relaxing and slow-going game up until you get sucked into a war with a Fallen Empire you can’t beat. But the game is equal bits empire management and equal bits space-battles. And it’s entirely in real time, which is an awesome way of saying that you get to watch your empire conquer other empires without having to wait for the AIs next moves. Your empire will constantly be progressing, and the reward for picking the right technological, warfare, and economic upgrade is that you develop your empire faster and faster until, before you know it, you’ve conquered the entirety of the fictional Andromeda Galaxy! If that’s what you want to call it, of course.
Next time I’ll talk about Death Stars… ahem, I meant The Colossus.