Album review: VCMG – Ssss

VCMG. It sounds like some sort of merger of car manufacturers, but it’s actually just the combined initials of two original electro-pop band members who have reunited after 30yrs to present us ‘some minimalist techno music’.

Now, I like what these two guys have achieved in their day jobs, but I’ve never been into hearing a repetitive 4/4 kick drum surrounded by dodgy synth riffs that possibly could only be enjoyed with illicit aids, but I decided to give this a go as I thought there should be a bit of a spin on it.

In some ways there isn’t. You could make the case that this is another of those albums which doesn’t represent the historical DNA it arose from. So in that respect, you probably really need to like ‘minimalist techno music’ to like it.

…That said, I gave the album a handful of listens and it does appear to be a grower. Occasionally you can make out probably who did what – VC’s white fish with black eye happy stuff, and MG’s black fish with white eye darker stuff. While there is 4/4 kick drum almost throughout, the riffs aren’t dodgy and amidst the stereotypical canvas there are some really interesting earworms – in terms of sounds and structure.

Fans of the respective bands of VCMG probably won’t play this infinitely (I put my hand up), but for a type of music that I – let’s be clear – call crap, it is quite engaging. Highlights would have to be the dark Spock, the trippy Windup Robot, the aptly titled Bendy Bass, and Aftermaths with its kind of harsh synth that wants to work as a basic vocal line

Do I want to see a follow-up to Ssss? Personally, no. But for a project that seems to have be borne out of pure fun, seemingly through internet exchange of files, it’s a worthy release to have put out. It’s somewhat an appetiser to what they’ll serve up next as split twigs again.



Fruity drug

The biggest tablet maker – other than GlaxoSmithKline – announced the latest version of their best-selling drug nearly a week back: the new iPad.

I’ve never been an Apple fundamentalist; that is, one of those people who will sleep at the front door of an Apple Store overnight to await orgasm at holding the latest iProduct. In fact I only own one Apple product and that was gifted to me, the very nice iPod Classic. I’ve always respected Apple but could never buy into the culture as it does seem a little elitist and zany.

But I have to respect them for making good products and marketing them well. They aren’t the top tech company right now for selling things people don’t want, even if they seem to do more well with their consumer electronics range rather than their traditional line of Mac computers.

I’ve long felt an indifference to the iPad and similar tablets (particularly Android ones as I demo’d one and was unimpressed by the hardware of a cheap sort, and had been only marginally impressed by the OS) as I didn’t really get their appeal. When the first iPad debuted it was an evolutionary response to the cheap netbooks which flooded the market. Netbooks which, despite no touchscreen, came with USB ports, better storage and generally more functionality. But, from observing a friend’s iPad 2 – someone who has become an Apple junkie now, somewhat – I can see the charm of a tablet as a consumption device. If a particular computing session you have doesn’t demand much mouse or keyboard work the iPad is a pretty fine entertainment device for looking at websites and videos, and perhaps even wasting time with some useful or not so useful apps. The higher resolution on the latest iPad even makes it a better ebook reader than it was. I doubt it’ll trample the Kindle’s dominance for this usage, but it should place Apple’s ebook store as a strong second to Amazon’s.

Later this year Microsoft will be releasing their own range of tablets, and from what I’ve seen, Windows 8 looks very good (I highly rate Windows Phone). They should give Apple the competition that Google really didn’t. However, the pitfall Microsoft has is making sure they have good hardware partners. Part of Android’s failure is lacklustre hardware, and if that fate befalls Windows 8, I just don’t see anyone touching Apple’s dominance.

One childish thing about Apple’s vision is that they believe that we are moving into a post-PC world. I don’t think, at least foreseeably, that we’re going to see the end of desktops and laptops, as these are needed to produce content. You’re not going to sort photos, compose an album, make a website, produce a video or write a book on a tablet; it might be possible in future, but not for a little while at least. If Apple really believed that now, they would take the axe to their own Mac range. After all, Macs are personal computers too.

That said, Apple do seem to be leading the path away from the idea that the traditional computer is your only computing experience.

I thought I knew you

An event today that occurs to me semi-frequently reminded me to blog about this. I don’t think I’m alone in this behaviour but it’s certainly strange.

When I pass people on the street that I once knew quite well, perhaps over a decade or more ago, I don’t often stop to say hello or give any acknowledgement that I recognise them, and, if they’re like me, they’ll behave the same (though they may have genuinely not registered me).
One of my excuses is that I’m mildly short-sighted and, due to only needing glasses for distance vision, it might take a few more paces for me to really recognise someone, but on reaching those few paces, it seems like they’re not making eye contact. Maybe they did a few paces back and it seemed like I blanked them? Regardless, I’ve no idea why I don’t take the initiative to stop and say hello.

It’s much easier when more socially fluid people come up to me and say hello first. I can start a conversation very well, but I’m more relieved by someone else doing so.

I think a few things unconsciously run through my mind: Does this person really remember me (they should, but…)? Did they really like me enough (I think so)? Should I mind my own business as we last talked so long ago that you could classify that as two different people meeting?

It perhaps doesn’t help that I’m not part of the Facebook crowd – I’ve myriad reasons for not being on it, though my closest friends just call it stubbornness – so I’m not connected to old my history to make chance meetings easier, but I’ve never been interested in rekindling old ties in a sort of artificial way. If I chose to cease communicating with someone completely, it was likely because I/we didn’t really care; not that I may have disliked the person, but I allowed them to float away from my circle, and likewise. I also prefer looking at old times in my memory and not ruining them with a forced attempt to reconnect; but that’s just me. I favour maintaining and making new friends. I’m unlikely to attend any school reunions.

That said, I would like to say ‘hello, how are you? It’s been a while’ to someone I knew well enough and saw again in personby chance. I have no idea how I’d get over that though. Maybe when I get a little more older nostalgia will make me bolder. So long as I still have my memory. And they still have theirs.

It’s possible that this is just a selected Londoner thing, in which case, I invite a swarm of foreign psychiatrists to come and sort us out.