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earthly paradise


music review :: o paradis :: cuando el tiempo sopla :: punch records

i'm not sure why o paradis get lumped in with the whole "neo-folk" movement. other than the combination of acoustic instruments and electronics (which is cutting a pretty broad swath), and a tendency towards a "softer" tone, there isn't much to link them. really, o paradis is part of a much more interesting group of artists (including ait!, novy svet, mushroom's patience and a few others) who have established a new sort of sound with elements of traditional, cabaret/ lounge, and experimental music that is as geographically rooted in southern europe as pure noise is in japan, coldwave is in germany or power electronics is in england.

of this group of artists, o paradis stands out as the most lyrical and the most emotional. this isn't the sort of contrived melancholy one gets from many artists, at times raw and unflinching enough to be uncomfortable, but moving in its complete honesty.

"cuando.." is o paradis' most experimental album to date, with the production and atmospheric sounds taking a more prominent place than previously, but it still falls back on the same key element: sole proprietor demian is a superb songwriter. that's a greater accomplishment than you might think, since it's fairly easy to dress up mediocre songwriting with effects and trickery and, if you're reading this blog, chances are that not everything in your music collection relies on the fragile mix of melody and harmony.

the fact that there is a greater range of elements at play here makes this a more diverse work than previous albums and allows it to float effortlessly between the world of reality and the world of dream. (nowhere is this established more clearly than on the first track, where the blissful intro dissipates into a rhythmic morass of industrial noises and finally into the sound of an alarm clock.)

fans of this school of music will recognise the hyper-distinctive vocals of jurgen weber (novy svet) and tairy ceron (ait!) and there are contributions on vocals and instrumentation from a few others, but, at the end, this is a one man show- deeply personal, exquisitely executed and exuding romance in all senses of the word.

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the world at war?

in my semi-smug but genuinely curious way, i posted a question on my facebook page earlier: how much of the world has to be at war before it counts as world war iii?



the first response i got raised the very legitimate point that this is the sort of question that gets answered by historians, once the haze of the present has faded. the other important factor is that people don't just declare war on each other the way that they used to. major powers entered both the of the world wars with the blessings of their own parliaments, whereas conflicts since world war ii have happened in coded language, sometimes circumventing the political process in the interests of expediency. president reagan never declared war on the nicaraguan government in the eighties, for example, but the united states was clearly in a state of armed conflict, even if most of the arms were being carried by their proxies, the contras.

whether or not we are living in a world at war is a tricky question. despite what…

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

diet diary, part 2

so the battle with the bulge continues. i'm actually becoming used to the pace, although for some reason my stomach still seems to think it needs far more food than it actually does.

week days, when eating is more of a functional than a festive activity, are fairly easy to cope with. weekends are a challenge, especially living in a city that has as many good restaurants as toronto. i'm not restricting myself to the home, but i am finding that i have to pay careul attention when i go out. last night, i overindulged on injera atthe ethiopian house. injera (the soft, moist, spongy bread that serves as food and cutlery in ethiopian cuisine) makes food fun by forcing you to eat with your fingers. it's hard to exercise restraint in such conditions.

when i first moved to toronto, i was expecting to find it much as i remembered it from years ago- with a dearth of good eating places. apparently, things have changed. there are great places to eat just about every kind of food you&…