Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Quasi Una Atomic Octopus Fantasia

Because I don’t have a theme this week I’m going to take this opportunity to tie up two loose ends.

Loose End #1

From just a couple of weeks ago in Thinking About Perspective I made fun of the Roland Corporation for using an ad (not the picture above [the picture is in this post]) featuring a guitar player to sell their new keyboard, the Roland Juno Gi. I feel a little bad about this because one aspect of the Juno Gi looks very cool.

Now, I don’t own any Roland products at all. Right now I am pretty much an HP/Tascam/Yamaha kind of guy. But, as a kind of principle, I’ve resolved from now on only to buy products that are capable of battery operation. I don’t mind if they normally are used plugged in, but in keeping with the whole mumblecore theory—or at least my vision of it—that the whole world is a studio, I’ve found it incredibly convenient to be able to just pick up my laptop or my Tascam amp/recorder and work anywhere at all. It’s a good thing. Now as far as I know Yamaha products all need to be plugged in. Korg makes the MicroKorg XL which can run on batteries. But Roland has really embraced this concept and has an entire line of reasonably good portable amplifiers and, now, the Roland Juno Gi synthesizer, which can operate on batteries [!] and do some of the things my Yamaha keyboard can do as far as recording and sound-making.

Now I’m dubious about Roland because of what tech-types call “build quality.” At the local Guitar Center Roland products are always on display with parts that have fallen off or cracked in half. That’s awful for products that cost as much as these things cost. And it’s especially awful in machines that are designed to be carried around to performance locations. But the whole battery-power issue might be a key issue for me in the future. I might put up with cheesy manufacturing for the benefits of portability. I don’t know. I’m thinking about it.

Also I wanted to point out that although I made fun of Roland for featuring a guitar player in their keyboard ad, and although that ad still seems like a bad idea to me, in fact I use my own keyboard as an amp and amp model for most of my guitar videos. Yeah, right now I’m a guitar player who plugs into a keyboard. But Yamaha doesn’t make ads for their keyboards that feature guitar players. I admire Yamaha for that.

Loose End #2

Five years ago (this has been bugging me for five years!) I wrote a song for this blog and, because I had no multimedia resources back then, I only posted the lyrics — The Atomic Octopus Song (Goodbye Jamie)

A couple of weeks ago — in Oh-Oh, Ghosts (and tangentially in the afterward to Beethoven, Britney Spears And A Ghost) — I quoted my poem “Jamie’s Ghosts” and that reminded me of the song because I’d written the song for a cool young woman, Jamie, when she stopped working at our local library.

So I figure five years is long enough for a loose end to dangle without getting tied up. Yesterday I mentioned Ray Harryhausen, and here is the complete version, the lyrics and music version, of my “Atomic Octopus” song, inspired by saying goodbye to Jamie and Harryhausen’s great film, “It Came From Beneath The Sea.”

Now I always have trouble playing and singing at the same time and this song is particularly hard for me. I like everything about it—the lyrics are funky and don’t rhyme and the music is simple but with a couple of little syncopations—but the little syncopations and lyrics that purposefully have an odd meter make my fingers and tongue get all tangled up and I fall all over myself. This took like seven takes. But I got through it!

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