Peterbe.com

A blog and website by Peter Bengtsson

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Now I'm on Last.fm

30 October 2007 1 comment   Music

http://www.last.fm/user/peterbengtsson/


Now I'm on Last.fmI've started exploring Last.fm now as an alternative and/or complement to Pandora which I still use.

Here's my profile page

I haven't yet fully understood how Last.fm works but I'm going to try to learn it the same way you learn to use a new wrist watch: baby steps.

The standalone player application works great on my mac at home but the Linux version segmentation faulted before the music even started so I'm going to use a much more interesting alternative on Linux which is to play Last.fm inside Amarok (which is tonnes better than iTunes by the way). Sadly the pause keyboard command doesn't seem to work.

One thing I do love about Pandora, is the ability to shuffle between various stations/channels. In Pandora I've got one station of heavy metal and one for Frank Zappa type music (amongst others) and if I stay for too long on one station it gets a bit boring. Let's hope this is possible with Last.fm too.

Trout Mask Replica - Captain Beefheart

19 July 2006 5 comments   Music


Trout Mask Replica - Captain Beefheart The last couple of days I've been listening to Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. It's a strange experience and the more I listen to it the more it gets to me. The reason I got this album was because I saw an old documentary about Captain Beefheart and there's this special album that they talk about that was meant to be so special.

I've never been a huge fan of Captain Beefheart. The only other album I've been listening to is Clear Spot where the song Big Eyed Beans From Venus can be found. Probably one of the best songs I know. Like with Trout Mask Replica, it took me a long time to appreciate Big Eyed Beans From Venus. It wasn't until I actually listened to the song that I realised why it was so fantastic.

Some of Captain Beefhearts music isn't really music. It's like seamingly random banging on instruments with lyrics that don't make any sense or reason. Captain Beefhearts music is better described as art. Abstract art if you like. I know it sounds pretentiuous but the more you listen to it the more it thrills you. Yes, you guess right, you can't dance to this kind of music. To some it might initially sound like a drunk hobo plus his drunk hobo friends who manage to switch on the power in a recording studio and record an album with made up lyrics as they record.

Anyway, about that documentary. They interview Matt Groening (the creator of The Simpsons none other) and he talks of this amazing album.

"So I bought it. I took it home, I put it on. It was the worst track ever. They're not even trying! They're just playing... randomly. But then I thought, Frank Zappa produced it so maybe if I play it again, and I thought... It sounds horrible but they mean it sound this way. And about the third or fourth time it started to grow on me. In the fifth or sixth time, I loved it. And the seventh or eighth time I thought it was the greatest album ever made. And I still do."

The documentary also mentions that it took the band eight months to record the album. Produced by Frank Zappa and without any money since there wasn't a record contract and hence no food except small portions of soya beans in really dire times. Also, they weren't allowed to leave the house except once a week, one band member was allowed to get food from the crocery store.

You can read more about this amazing album on this Wikipedia page . To give you a little head start, here's a snippet of an intro of the song Pena as an MP3 file.

I'll continue to listen to it and will probably like it even more. This is probably the "hippiest" blog on this site of the year.

UPDATE

Here are some additional links worth checking out if you're interested.

The lyrics of Big Eyed Beans From Venus, The lyrics to Pena and A writeup of an article about Matt Groening

UPDATE2

Here's a great article on epinions.com that contains a track analysis. I learnt a lot from this. "It is methodically calculated chaos"

Pandora Update

14 November 2005 0 comments   Music

http://www.pandora.com


I really do enjoy my Pandora internet radio station and it greatly pleases me to hear about the Pandora Version 2 which they emailed me about just a few days ago.

"As one of our most treasured early listeners, we want to make sure this transition works for you?-recognizing that you subscribed at a time when subscription was the only option. To that end, we've automatically given you a complimentary upgrade of your current quarterly subscription to an annual subscription-9 additional months at no cost to you."

Cool. Not only are they upgrading my subscription, they're also vastly improving the whole service:

"As you read this, we are releasing Pandora Version 2. In addition to many new features including bookmarking, station editing, playlist improvements and much fine-tuning, the new service will now include a free, ad-supported version. Listeners have the choice to subscribe and stay clear of ads, or use the free service which will gradually incorporate advertising."

What can I say? Use Pandora!!

Pandora - a great Internet radio

21 October 2005 0 comments   Music

http://www.pandora.com


I've been using Pandora for a while now. It's a Internet radio station where you create your own stations. When you start you enter an artist or a song or something and it then tries to play songs that are similar to that one you entered. So, I enter "Frank Zappa" and now it's playing songs that sound like Frank Zappa songs (and some Frank Zappa too of course). Songs do repeat I must admit, but it's not very often. It's not a free service like so many other Internet radio stations but unlike others, on this one you can fast forward. If there's a song you don't like, you click the little album icon that is shown and select "I don't like it". This skips that song and I hope to believe it remembers this and doesn't try to play that song again in a long time.

Likewise, if there's a song you like, you click and say "I like it" which just means it'll be played again fairly soon.

The price is really cheap too. It's $36 for a year or $12 for a quarter. If you want to you can try it for free for 10 hours which is what I did and was impressed enough to pay up. I really recommend this site to all readers of this page.

Another neat thing is that if there's a song you really like you can click the icon and select to buy it from iTunes or Amazon. (unfortunately Amazon.com and not Amazon.co.uk) So far, by discovering good songs on Pandora I've purchased two CDs from Amazon.

Dream Theater - Octavarium

11 August 2005 1 comment   Music

http://www.dreamtheater.net/disco_dreamtheater.php?s=octavarium


Dream Theater - OctavariumMy latest CD I bought in a real shop was Ocatavarium by Dream Theater. It's fantastic! If you like crystal clear heavy metal with an impeccable musical production, then this is for you. Unlike the previous album, Train of Thought, this one is much lighter and even more accessible for non-death metal lovers. Some of the tunes remind me a bit about Muse's latest album Absolution but that's ok.

My favorite song is still Panic Attack but the second half of the song Octavarium is just absolutely marvelous! If you appreciate genuinely good music that will last for years to come, get this album too.

Serious flaw in Bose headphones

23 April 2005 7 comments   Music

https://www.peterbe.com/plog/noise-reduction-headphones


Perhaps you saw my praise over my new Bose headphones with noise reduction a couple of days ago. Well, now I've discovered a serious flaw that I didn't realise before.

When you run out of batteries, like I have now, the headphones don't work at all. Granted that the noise reduction feature can't work without batteries but I should at least be able to listen to music in them don't you think?

It should work like this:

function listen2music():
    if hasBatteryPower():
       playMusic(enable_noise_reduction=true)
    else:
       playMusic(enable_noise_reduction=false)