July 30, 2011

Donata & Über-Ich: Debut EP "Mozaïque" Incoming

Singer/songwriter workaholic and good friend of mine Donata apparently still finds the time for some fun side projects besides managing her solo career and touring around with her band Nosoyo: The trio Über-Ich, also starring Dutch singer Chris Kok and allrounder Marnix Dorrestein, has just announced their upcoming debut EP, called "Mozaïque".

The EP will be available shortly after the release party at Winston Kingdom in Amsterdam on September 30, maybe even earlier. We still have no information concerning the tracklist, but I'm quite sure the first Über-Ich single "Uniform Child" won't be missing.

Über-Ich – "Uniform Child"

Please enjoy some further information, interesting links and auditory pleasures:

Über-Ich
"Mozaïque"
EP (30.09.2011)

Relevant Links:

EP Release Party Facebook Event
Über-Ich Official Homepage
Über-Ich Official Facebook Page
Über-Ich "Uniform Child" single at bandcamp.com
Nosoyo Official Homepage
Donata Official Homepage

And because I'm still totally in love with Nosoyo's January single "Close To Me", I can't help but share this one with you, too. Enjoy!

Consider me excited!

July 29, 2011

10 Truly Awesome Old-School Video Game Soundtracks

I often skip through my collection of soundtracks and as you know, I'm a sucker for nostalgia. So I guess it's time I told you about my choice of 10 Truly Awesome Old-School Video Game Soundtracks ~ enjoy!


10. Illusion of Gaia

Quintet (SNES, 1993)
Soundtrack by Yasuhiro Kawasaki

Our first entry is a neat little RPG from Quintet, who went on to develop the better-known Terranigma for Enix a short time later. Illusion of Gaia comes with a vast world and many weird as well as historical places like the Cambodian temple complex Angkor Wat. To make the journey work, composer Kawasaki had to create a variety of tunes fitting to each setting, culture and mood. A challenging task with this game, which also features locations like the lost continent Mu or a maze of giant mushrooms. The music is often very sad and depressing, just like the story, which remains pretty serious until the philosophical ending.

"Signs of the Past"

"The Great Wall of China"

July 27, 2011

Dir en grey - "Dum Spiro Spero" Sneak Review

It's Wednesday, July 27, and everyone is listening to the new Dir en grey album "Dum Spiro Spero". Well, what's wrong about that? Could it be the fact that the album is not even released until next Wedesneday, August 3? Oh!

Yeah, after the band also suffered from an early leak of their most recent single "Different Sense", the long anticipated new album, "Dum Spiro Spero" has hit the internet a week early. Don't look at me now, instead read: This album is so unexpectedly good that I will gladly transfer my dollars over to Amazon's MP3 service to buy the legal thing in a few days.

After the rather unbalanced and more serious "Uroboros", the band's latest album, Dir en grey attack again with an almost eight-minute long track to introduce their new sound, which is not as riddled with hardcore growling and deathcore moments as you might have expected. "The Blossoming Beelzebub" is only one of many great compositions on this album, which is remarkably well produced and almost three steps up compared to their recent single "Lotus", which pales in comparison to the great, re-done album version.

"Dum Spiro Spero" is full of surprises in terms of great epic tunes. Where one would have expected an all-out attack metal album after the heavier recent singles, the band shove your expectations where the sun doesn't shine. Instead, we get elaborate and well-written songs like "Yokusou ni Dreambox", one of the early favorites of most people who have listened so far.

Playful and more aggressive songs like "Amon" or the first album single "Hageshisa to, kono mune..." can't beat the fierce hardcore riffs of "Juukyou", a fun moshfest for every live, or the wicked-structured riffs and sequences of the beautiful "Shitatarou mourou". "Diabolos", "Akatsuki" and "Decayed Crow" also rock hard, the first running for almost ten minutes and seemingly fighting an epic battle against its predecessor in mind, "Vinushka" from the "Uroboros" album.

The utterly beautiful double rock ballad ending of the album consisting of "Vanitas" and "Ruten no tou" perfectly closes the album...if there wasn't the bonus disc with a pretty snarky and great remake of "Rasetsukoku" (from the far-away album "Macabre") and a symphonic version of "Amon", which is better in my opinion. The fine intro fits the title, whereas some parts are not that fitting, but hey, "Amon" isn't one of the really good tracks on this album, so I'm glad they at least tried to improve it.

My final rating for now: a great album! I wouldn't call it the band's best, but it's utterly devoid of any sort of "fun" or "giveaway" track, contrary to every album before, and I totally enjoyed it. It's not too long or anything like that to me, and you can't have enough good music anyway, so grab "Dum Spiro Spero", and you won't regret it. It's by far the band's most mature record to date, but by far their hardest one to grasp. As Evan truthfully spoke: "'Dum Spiro Spero' is satisfaction."

10 More Addictive Android Games

A little more than two weeks ago I posted my list of 20 Android Apps & Games You'll Love, but there is just so much more fun available for your Android phone. So I made another list of more games I've enjoyed in the meantime for your recommendation.

Enjoy!


Inotia III: Children of Carnia

Developer: Com2uS
Price: free

Only starting to play this one, but look at it! Inotia III instantly reminds you of your favorite Super Nintendo RPGs and looks more than charming with it's fine presentation and visuals. The gameplay consists of pretty straight-forward monster slashing, plus the usual role-playing stuff like upgrading your characters and equipment. Inotia III comes with a touching story, interesting characters and a vast world to explore. You won't regret delving into the adventures of the Carnia children, and I thoroughly recommend it!

July 25, 2011

A Few Words About My Last Week Off

I spent the last week in Heilbronn at my mom's place and saw a lot of old friends again. After a few quiet days I visited Katrin on Friday and then went on to party throughout Friday night and Saturday morning.

It pains me that my the cam isn't really the best option to snap lovely party pics at a club or disco. Thus I can't show you all too many impressions from my recent days and party nights this time, save for the handful with Jay, Nadine, Sabo, Naemi and Gabi below.

More galleries can be found here, but on to more important things – well, the last week included some pretty heavy news like the killing spree in Utøya near Oslo and Amy Winehouse's sudden demise.

The many deaths in Utøya have made many people speechless, and the many people who have lost someone have my deepest sympathies. It's so sad that no-one could prevent this lunatic from destroying so many lives and wreaking such havoc at his will.

Amy Winehouse on the other hand, well, who didn't see such a thing coming? I guess she ultimately didn't have the friends to help her out of her misery, and she just didn't care about herself at all. I wonder what the official cause of her death will be, since there are some rumors about a violent, unnatural death floating around.

Enough with the sad news, I'm also sad because I have to work again tomorrow and my router ceased to function during my week off. Damn you, router! As if my budget hadn't suffered enough this month already.

The Hobbit's Dwarves, and Lost: Jacob & Barry

Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is eagerly anticipated, more so that we now know all the thirteen dwarves starring in the first of two Hobbit movies.

TheHuffingtonPost.com:

From left to right, Jed Brophy as Nori, Dean O'Gorman as Fili, Mark Hadlow as Dori, James Nesbitt as Bofur, Peter Hambleton as Gloin, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Ken Stott as Balin, John Callen as Oin, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, William Kircher as Bifur, Adam Brown as Ori and Aidan Turner as Kili.

And then, there's this gem from the Lost Comic-Con session with Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, which made me miss the series, Jacob and...Barry once again:

Lost – The Marbled Rye

"They want answers, Jacob. Not corks!"

via sl-LOST

Kagrra's Isshi Passed Away on July 18

It's like a curse with Japanese bands right now, and it doesn't seem to stop anytime soon. As VKDB.jp is reporting, former Kagrra, vocalist Isshi passed away on July 18.

Isshi was a member of Kagrra, for over ten years and had recently launched his solo career under the handle shiki∞project. He was one of my favorite singers in J-rock and I once saw him live with Kagrra, during their European tour stint at the Cologne Live Music Hall with Jay.

A notice on his official website doesn't state a reason for his death. Whatever the cause may have been, rest in peace man. You will be sorely missed.

via jrocknyc

July 18, 2011

Carnivàle

Just a nap and a few more hours until I'm leaving for Heilbronn until Sunday, and I happily completed my most recent TV series marathon right in time: two seasons of HBO's Carnivàle, which ran from 2003 to 2005.

The series, set in the 1930s Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression, holds a classic theme of good versus evil and follows the storylines of Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl), a young fugitive with the gift of healing hands who joins a traveling carnival, and Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown), a minister getting more and more sinister in his quest to do the right thing for him and his followers.

Carnivàle is visually stunning with its high-budget looks and cast profile. The production is terrific and you really feel the grind and roughness of those times long gone now during every single scene. The great cast features a lot of known faces like Michael J. Anderson (Twin Peaks), Clea DuVall (Zodiac) and Amy Madigan (Grey's Anatomy), while Clancy Brown and Nick Stahl shine as the main characters who are ultimately destined to face each other, but don't do so until very late in the series.

Carnivàle was planned to run over six seasons, but while the budgets certainly didn't decrease, the ratings unfortunately did during season two, and so HBO pulled the plug and left the fans of the show with a good but pretty open ending after only two years. While the series ran on a strong religious theme, the sometimes confusing storylines and the many surreal, supernatural elements especially during the second season probably didn't sit well with a part of the audience.

Alas, the 24 episodes that were shot are truly worth your time, and if you're a fan of Lynchian mindfuck moments, you'll be happily tuning in for each new episode.

July 17, 2011

X Japan's Taiji Passed Away

♣ SЯ:

As reported by several japanese news websites, Taiji passed away today. He had been in [a] hospital's intensive care station since July 14 after trying to commit suicide. According to some newspapers he was unconscious till then.

Man, that's a lot of sad news for a Sunday. Taiji Sawada (†45) played bass on X Japan's first three albums until he left the band in 1992. He then went on to perform with several bands like Loudness, Dementia and Cloud Nine.

Rest in peace, dude.

Meeting Old Friends is Always a Funky Thing

Today Dave and I reunited with a whole lot of old friends and folks at the rainy Rhine riverside, before we continued our funky party times at my place. Kenan is still asleep and Evelyn and David are still arguing about the best ways to consume things, but whatever! Here are some funky pictures:

Visit the gallery for more pictures.

July 14, 2011

This is What You Call "Summer" Over Here

Summer

Ain't that fresh? Yet another wayward summer in Germany this year. Much rain and disappointment. We have planned such a beautiful open-air get-together for Saturday, yet forecast predicts another rainy day.

My first week of summer vacation starts after tomorrow and I'll spend the next week in Heilbronn, meeting family and old friends once again. Another free week happens in August when Eule comes over for a few days. I'm really looking forward to both weeks, but I also really hope for the sun to finally break free and show up for more than one day in a row.

In other news, I'm pretty satisfied with my Desire HD's camera. It's not awesome, but alright.

July 10, 2011

20 Android Apps & Games You'll Love

When I bought my first smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy, two years ago, I already made a small list of my favorite apps, so I thought I could do an updated one after I spent one week with my fresh and adorable HTC Desire HD.

For the apps, I won't mention the regular ones to have, like the Google ones (Maps, gReader, Voice Search, etc.), shopping apps (Amazon, Kindle, etc.) and standard social and video apps like Facebook, Google+ or YouTube. For the games, I tried to avoid suspicious ones or those which can't be enjoyed without paying extra money for stuff in order to advance.

And here comes my list of 10 useful apps you don't want to miss, followed by a selection of 10 fun games you won't be able to put aside. Enjoy!


Apps

Hi-Q MP3 Recorder

Developer: Yuku
Price: free; $3.99 (Full Version)

This awesome audio recorder is a great app for recording MP3 files in a decent quality. It saves your audio with sample rates up to 44 kHz and bit rates up to 128 kbps in real-time, so you won't have to care about lengthy converting. The pretty expensive full version only removes the 10-minute limit for recordings, so you'll probably be fine with the free lite version.

July 1, 2011

Dir en grey: "Dum Spiro Spero" Samples, Finally

Dir en grey – "Dum Spiro Spero" (Album Samples)

Amazon.com surprisingly updated their Dir en grey MP3 download page with samples for each song from their upcoming August album "Dum Spiro Spero", sending fans into even deeper and more demanding anticipation.

Half of the (too short) samples sound great, especially "Diabolos", and "Ruten no tou" may prove to become two of the presumably many highlights of the album. Here's the whole tracklist for your orientation; the clip above includes all the samples from song 1 to 14, including previews for the re-recorded singles "Lotus" and "Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami":


Dir en grey
"Dum Spiro Spero"
Album (02.08.2011)

Looking forward!

First Impressions of My Lovely New Desire HD

Received my new cellphone, a HTC Desire HD, today after Hermes "could not find" my address the day before, oh well. But it's here, and I totally love it!

I expected the Desire to be fast and responsive, way more than my slow old Samsung Galaxy i7500, but it's such a flash I want to cry tears of joy and happiness. Everything responds instantly, websites load really fast, and it also updated itself to Android's 2.3.3 Gingerbread version without so much as a hint of some error or whatever always happens if you think everything's cool.

The HTC Hub has some nice downloads for your pleasure, apps, backgrounds, color schemes and so on, the Android Market is filled with games I can finally play thanks to 1 GHz of raw CPU power, and the popular Sense interface is still awesome.

Right now I'm only concerned about the battery, which I hope will last at least two days. I'm not a hardcore smartphone user, so I guess that should be possible. Consider me a happy man right now, though. For once, I believe I've made a good choice with my regularly questionable cellphone picks there.