Thursday, 17 December 2009

Happy birthday to me!


I always look forward to the Winter months because not only does it mean Christmas is approaching, it also means my birthday is too! Well that glorious day, the 14th of December, has come and gone, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My ethos is that no matter how old you are, your birthday is the one day of the year when you have the divine right to act like a child again. With that in mind, I spent my 23rd birthday playing Final Fantasy, watching Star Wars and building Lego!

I actually made a birthday and Christmas list this year, which sounds a bit childish but hear me out. My reasoning is that instead of people worrying about what to get me I'll give them some options. When you get older you know you're not gonna get as much for your birthday as you used to, so I thought I'd make sure the things I did get were things I actually wanted.

With that in mind, I wasn't totally surprised by my presents, but I was really thankful. Of course I got the obligatory chocolate and cash (both very appreciated), but I also got some cool DVDs, such as the first season of Firefly, a couple of Studio Ghibli films, and the original Star Wars trilogy. I only had them on VHS up until now. Lauren out-did herself this year and got me the above lego kit, which contains a lego Tauntaun and a Han Solo mini-figure with a cool little hood! Am I ever gonna grow up? Not likely!

Anyway, thank you to everyone who sent me a card or a gift, I appreciate your thoughts and generosity deeply. Also thanks to everyone who sent me a Facebook message. My inbox was clogged up with notifications as a result, but it was a welcome annoyance!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...


This is my run down of the worst through to the best of the Star Wars films, the live-action ones that this. Enjoy!

6. The Revenge of the Sith (2005)

The pinnacle of the steaming pile of excrement that is the new trilogy of Star Wars films. The charm and excitement of the original series is all but gone at this point, replaced by awful dialogue, shocking performances and an over-reliance on CGI. Even the cool space battles and light saber duels have become boring at this point. There are a few gems within this dark pit of a film, such as the Galactic Empire being formed legitimately, mirroring the coming to power of the Nazi government in 1930s Germany. But for the most part, this is just the culmination of Hayden Christensen's horrific acting, George Lucas' now terrible directing, and hopefully the last time we ever see Jar Jar Binks in a live-action Star Wars film.

5. Attack of the Clones (2002)

Definitely the worst-named Star Wars film, and quite inaccurately named, as the clone troopers technically come to the 'defense' of the Jedi. This was the point when things really started to go downhill. The plot of this installment is shaky at best, and with the introduction of Mister Christensen to the saga, the acting becomes as wooden as a tree. At no point did I believe in, or care about Anakin Skywalker's love for Padme, not when the only way he could express it seemed to be by grimacing. The film's conclusion is decidedly anti-climatic. Although the desert battle between the clone troopers and the separatist forces is fairly epic, the light saber confrontation afterwards is a hum-drum affair, even with all of Yoda's pinwheeling and leaping about.

4. The Phantom Menace (1999)

By no means is this film on a par with any of the original trilogy, but it is definitely the best of the new films. While this part of the Star Wars canon does show that Lucas' skill as a director is either gone or no longer relevant, there are some elements that are in keeping with the feel of the series. The light saber battles at this point were very impressive and not repetitive, especially the 'duel of the fates' finale. Darth Maul, the devilish henchman of the emperor, is positive element, and in my opinion the best addition to the Star Wars universe from the new films. However, this film also contains the worst addition to the Star Wars universe; Jar-Jar Binks. Argh! Just thinking about him makes me angry! I don't think I need to go into detail.

3. A New Hope (1977)

A small disclaimer at this point. The three remaining films in the rundown are light-years ahead of the previous three, and it is extremely hard to rank one better than the other. But this is how I've judged it. I remember sitting in my auntie's house as a wide-eyed child, watching those golden letters scroll up the star-spotted screen as the majestic sound of John Williams' score thundered into my ears. I was amazed by the grandeur of Luke and Han's quest to save Princess Leia and destroy the Death Star. The childish bickering of R2D2 and C3PO added humour to tale, contrasted with characters such as the evil Grand Moff Tarkin and the towering monster of Darth Vader. Every time I see the x-wing fighters wheeling over ominous Death Star, I get the same fantastic feeling. Like I'm back in my childhood again. From this point on, I was hooked, a Star Wars fan to core.

2. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

This was a hard decision. Most people rank Empire as the best Star Wars film, and so I'm disagreeing with the majority by putting it second. But it is a supremely close second. This film contains possibly the most earth-shattering narrative twist ever seen in film history. It's so good I'm not going elaborate any further, on the slim chance that someone reading this may not have watched a Star Wars film yet. From the snowy plains of Hoth, through the swamps of Dagobah, and on to the cloud city of Bespin, the struggle of Luke, Han and Leia against the empire continues. It is worth noting that this installment of the series introduces one of the most memorable pieces of music in film history, the chilling 'The Imperial March'. New characters in form of the enigmatic bounty hunter Boba Fett, the quirky and tiny alien Jedi master Yoda and the slick businessman Lando Calrissian add new depth to the story and instantly become fan favourites.

1. Return of the Jedi (1983)

Here we are, at what I consider to be the best Star Wars film of the saga. Luke is on his way to becoming a Jedi, and the rebels have a plan to cripple the empire once and for all. But there's the little matter of freeing Han Solo from the clutches of the malicious slug-like crime-lord Jabba the Hutt. And then it's off to meet everyone's favourite deadly teddy bears on Endor. I guess the ewoks are probably the reason why Jedi is seen as a worse film than Empire, but look at it this way; they could be Gungans. The film's epic finale is what wins it for me. The three simultaneous battles, one amidst the trees of Endor, another above the planet in space, and the final one between the warriors light and dark in the emperor's throne room, make for a truly entertaining end to the saga. This is my favourite Star Wars film for sure. It ties up the story nicely, but has allowed for an amazing universe of fan fiction to be built upon it and carry on the legend.

And that's it for my rundown. It's fairly brief, but I think I'd bore you if I went any further. And trust me I could go on.

Friday, 4 December 2009

I'm lovin' it


I discovered this morning that if I turn around and face the door of my bathroom whilst I'm in the shower, I can see myself reflected in the mirror. It was rather unnerving, mainly because I decided to put my contact lenses in before I showered, so when I turned around I was presented with my long-lost twin, lathering up in high-def. Quite a disturbing image I assure you.

Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, I'm loving Spotify at the moment! For anyone who hasn't heard of Spotify, it's a piece of downloadable software that gives you access to an online library of music for free. Sounds too good to be true right? Well, there are a few catches. To listen for free you, you have to put up with adverts that pop up in between every few songs, which cannot be skipped and pause if you turn the volume down. Sneaky! You can pay monthly for premium usage without adverts, or buy a daily pass for 99p to avoid the ads for 24 hours. The other catch is that due to it's rising popularity, Spotify is only available for free if you receive an invite, which you can apply for on their homepage. So unless you happened to sign up when it was fairly unknown, you've gotta wait indefinitely for an invite.

Apart from these negative aspects, caused by the need to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of the user, it's a pretty cool bit of software. There's a fairly wide variety of music in the library, which covers a lot of different genres and styles. Although it isn't exhaustive, I was quite surprised by the stuff I found on there. I've been using Spotify to listen to some cool music, such as the chilled-out alternative styles of Team Sleep, the side-project fronted by Chino Moreno of Deftones. On a similar vein, I discovered a band called Strata, who are a cross between The Mars Volta, Tool and Deftones. Very atmospheric and powerful. Sadly they've split up, which is annoying cos I've just got into them!

In other news, I've completely changed my writing project idea for university course. I was going to write the first 10,000 words of a sci-fi novel, but I was getting nowhere with it. I had a plot sorted out, which could extend into a series, but the setting and the characters just weren't coming to me. Every idea I thought of just seemed derivative and dull. So after a flash of inspiration I decided to start over with a new idea; I'm going to write a collection of short stories and micro-fictions (REALLY short stories!) with a sci-fi theme, inspired by quotes from my favourite films, fiction and music. Gotta pitch the idea to my tutor next Tuesday, let's hope it goes well!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Not all heroes wear capes


Things have been pretty hectic as of late. What with a dissertation to write, a wedding and a stag do to attend, and my fiancé's birthday to plan and buy presents for, November has been a busy month.

On Saturday the 14th, I had a massive of shock to the system in the form of my hard drive unexpectedly and unexplainably dying. Had I backed up my files? Of course not, it's a Macbook. They're invincible! Well, I've learnt the hard way that this is very much not true.

I took my laptop to the Apple shop in Southampton the following Monday, expecting them to press a few buttons and pronounce it cured. No such luck. The guy in the shop said they would replace the broken hard drive and fix the slight damage to my keyboard (the result of a design flaw in the magnets used to close the screen), but it would cost me £120 for the new hard drive. I didn't really have much of a choice, I couldn't go without a computer.

The guys in the shop were really understanding and got the job done within the afternoon because Lauren and I had to get back to Portsmouth. When I arrived back in the shop at 4.30 to collect my laptop they even let me keep the old hard drive so I could try to retrieve the files (they don't provide that service).

And here's the point where the day brightened up considerably. It turns out my laptop was still within it's warranty, so I didn't have to pay after all! So although I may have lost my pictures, music, and most importantly, my uni work (I have paper copies of a lot of it though), I got a new 120g hard drive to replace my old 80g one, an updated operating system, and a spotless new keyboard. Bless Apple and their customer support!

My housemate's dad is going to give my old hard drive to a friend of his who managed to retrieve his files when the same thing happened to him, so hopefully I won't have lost it all. Otherwise I'll 40 pages of dissertation to rewrite over Christmas.

Because she felt sorry for me, Lauren bought me a new Wii game to cheer me up, Medal of Honour: Heroes 2. I had wanted it for ages because it got really good reviews but I never could find it in any game shops, probably because it was quite popular when it came out. It's a pretty standard war first-person shooter in terms of story, gameplay and graphics, but the Wii motion controls have been used really well to make the game fun and innovative. There are some nice touches, like tossing grenades with the wiimote and realistic hand positions when using weapons like mounted machine guns and RPGs. However, I'm very tempted to get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex as I don't have an Xbox 360 or PS3 to play the original on, and it got a good review on Gamespot. Maybe when the price comes down I'll give it some thought.

Monday, 26 October 2009

A Plug for a Friend


I noticed today that my good friend Mister Stu Fenwick (the genius who made my logo) has a website promoting his artwork and illustrations. So I'm promoting his website, click here to have a look.

Also here's a little update on the PS3/xbox 360 dilemma. I discovered the other day that while Final Fantasy XIII is going to be multi-platform, Final Fantasy XIII Versus is only going to be available on the PS3, as it stands at the moment. Therefore I am now pretty much 99% sure that I'm going to get a Playstation 3. If it means I can play more FF, then that's the choice that has to be made!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Big Decision


With the release date for Final Fantasy XIII announced to be spring 2010, a fork in the road is rapidly approaching for me. At last, a choice has to be made as to which of the next-gen consoles will win me over? I asked the advice of my friends and acquaintances (via Facebook), and I've started to narrow things down between purchasing either a Playstation 3 or an Xbox 360.

I'm told the PS3 is more powerful than the 360, which makes sense as the PS3 came out after the 360, but I haven't really been able to tell the difference in terms of graphics or performance. The PS3 has a Blu-ray DVD player built in, which is a plus as buying the console is the cheapest way to purchase one. There are rumours that an external Blu-ray player may be released for the 360, similar to its now obsolete HD/DVD player, but I would have to pay extra for that.

In terms of games the 360 is the winner at this moment in time. There are a lot more exclusive games out for it that I would definitely play, such as Gears of War 2 and Halo 3. MGS4 is probably the only exclusive for the PS3 that I would really be interested in, possibly Little Big Planet as well. However there are a few games available for both platforms that I would definitely buy, such as Fallout 3 and Oblivion. So that slightly levels the playing field.

Longevity is a very important factor in my selection. I'm still playing my Playstation 2 and that console has been out for years. In fact I'm still playing some of my PS1 games on it. So I want to know that the console I buy next will give me a few years before it becomes obsolete. The 360 is coming to the end of its life expectancy, and it would seem the PS3 will last longer. However, the cynic in me thinks that as soon as a new Microsoft console is released Sony will drop the PS3 and focus on its next project. But then again the PS1 and 2 have hung on for quite a while, so maybe I should trust Sony on this one.
The internet capabilities battle is easily won by the PS3. If I have to choose between free online play and paying around £50 for a years usage, the choice is a pretty simple one.

In terms of looks the PS3 and the 360 are both able as ugly as each other. When it comes down to it I'm going to end up using either console as a coffee table, regardless of how 'slimline' the new PS3 is supposed to be. Both the consoles controllers are equally aesthetically and ergonomically pleasing my opinion, so no clear victor there either.

So there you have it. I'm probably leaning slightly more towards the PS3, because it might last longer and has the built-in Blu-ray player. However the Xbox 360 has a lot more games out for it, and is slightly cheaper. I've got a few months to decide, we'll have to see if the situation changes by the spring!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A Student's Guide to Paris


With tickets on the Eurostar costing as low as £59, a day-trip or weekend break in Paris is the perfect low-cost option for students who want to experience the culture and style of the continent without burning a hole in their maintenance loan. Here are a few practical tips that I picked up whist in ‘The City of Light’.

Walk as much as possible – Paris is a beautiful city, but the beauty is lost if you take the Metro to all your destinations. Purchase a good map and plan your route throughout the city. You’ll be rewarded with quaint shops in hidden side streets and quiet parks and squares, such as the spacious Jardin du Luxembourg and the enchanting Promenade PlantĂ©e, to relax in on your way. I found that most of the parks are equipped with hundreds of chairs that you can move around to put your feet up just the way you want. It’s cheaper than using public transport for every journey and the sights are closely located, so you shouldn’t get too tired out!

Go while you’re under 26 – many of the historic attractions are free for 16 to 26-year-olds – perfect for students counting their pennies. The Lourve art gallery and the Notre Dame Cathedral towers are examples of fascinating attractions that can be visited with no admission price. All you need is your passport or driving licence and you’ll save yourself quite a few euros.

Don’t try to do everything a once – if you’re on a short break don’t spend all your time rushing around to tick off all the sights and not really enjoying yourself. Instead pick out a few things you definitely want to see and don’t worry about the rest. This gives you a good excuse to return to Paris to finish off your sightseeing!

The start of autumn is good time to go – the traditional tourist period will have just ended and Paris will be getting back to its normal self. You can take advantage of thinning crowds and get away from the rain clouds of Britain when they’re still enjoying sunny hot weather on the continent.

Don’t rely on regular opening hours – the shops and supermarkets are a law unto themselves in regards to their business hours. Make sure you check the convenient shops you may need to use. Most shops close on Sunday afternoons and Mondays but many of the smaller ones stay open till after midnight on weekdays.

Feel free to attempt the lingo, but don’t worry if you can’t - the stereotype of the French refusing to speak any tongue but their own no longer applies for the most part. The majority of shopkeepers and waiters will offer to speak English but will let you muddle through if you have a rudimentary knowledge of the native language and want to try it out. All I had to do was attempt the word ‘bonjour’ and the waiter would reply, ‘ah… English?” You’ll probably pick up some French words and phrases along the way. I now know what ‘fruits de mer’ means after ordering a disgusting seafood dish by mistake!

Get to the top of the Eiffel Tower! – Paris’ iconic landscape would be incomplete without this stunning monument, and your trip will be too if you don’t ascend to the top. When at its busiest, the top level of the tower is not open for entry from ground level. However, you can upgrade your ticket once you get to the second floor and make it to the top. Night time is the best time to go up the Eiffel Tower in my opinion, as the twinkling streetlights enhance the splendour of the Parisian streets below even further.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Guess who's back?


It's taken a while, but I'm finally back online! I moved into my uni house at the end of September and we've got our internet/tv/phone package from Virgin Media sorted out at last. I thought we'd be stuck in the dark ages till next year, but after a trip to B&Q by my housemates, we managed to jury-rig the tv box thingie to work. The only downside at the moment is that we have a 20 metre cable snaking dangerously through our house, which seems to be sentiently trying to trip everyone over. And we don't have a phone yet.

My registration all went smoothly, despite my fears that the student loan fiasco would rear its ugly head again. My units are, for the most part, very interesting, in particular my dissertation unit and writing project. I'm writing a 90 minute scifi/noir screenplay for the former, and starting a fantasy/scifi novel for the latter. Essentially I have roughly 30,000 words to write whatever I want! Slightly daunting but I know I'll enjoy it.

Best get on, I'm popping home this weekend to work, so I need to pack and do a few other things. Over and out!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

J'adore...


It's always nice to come back from holiday in a hot, sunny, dry location, and descend into the dreary, wet, dull countryside of the UK! I am glad to be home though, I've only been away for a week and a few days but it feels like ages.

After finishing my work experience on Friday, Lauren and I travelled to France and stayed in Paris for a few days. I was a fantastic break and will be really useful for the travel writing unit I'm taking next semester. I'll post a full account of my trip and some pics as soon as possible.

This morning has been one of phone calls. I had some loose ends to tie up, and with the help of Mr. Telephone, they are all tied neatly in little bows. Firstly, I needed to change the delivery address for my tickets to see Enter Shikari in Southampton. Done. Then check with my uni to see what I need to do about my late loan application (due to the inadequencies of Wiltshire County Council). Turns out the uni are well prepared for the onslaught of students with no proof of their loans, so I have no issue there. Lastly, I rang Play.com for the second time to find out what has happened to some DVDs I ordered two months ago, and decided to get a refund. Sorted.

Now I've gotta pack up my stuff one last time for my final year (he says, a tear trickling down his cheek). I got my timetable for the next semester today, and it's pretty good. I get Fridays off and only have seven hours contact time a week! But I guess that means I'll have to whip my time management skills into shape.

I've started writing a sci-fi short story, which I will post soon. It will probably be a two-part thing. It's an uber-geeky space battle sequence, a little homage to Star Wars and stuff like that.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Beauty Sleep: I need it.


Hello readers. It's the second week of my second work experience placement and to be honest, I'm looking forward to the end of the week.

Not that it's been bad, I'm just looking forward to not having to get up so early! I know I'm gonna have to live in the real world very soon (next year most likely) but until then, I wanna get up when I want to. It's not that I'm bad at getting up early, I usually get up at 8ish of my own accord. But the difference is that I chose to get up at that time. It's the autonomy that counts. I think having to get up for a 9-5 job will probably be the catalyst that will push me to become a published author, because if I'm successful I can be my own boss, and get up whenever I want!

The weather's been nasty in London today, I got soaked whenever I had to venture outdoors. First time was to get some euros for when I go to Paris with Lauren on Saturday (another reason for my desire to get to the weekend) and the second was the five minute journey between the bus and my aunt and uncle's house.

Mister Duffield of Duffy's Deliberations introduced me to DJ Bento the other day, who is a dubstep dj friend of his from school (not to be confused with DJ Bento, some guy that's big in Japan). Have a look at his blog where you can download some mixes by him for free. It's grimy stuff!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Divine Heresy - Bringer of Plagues - Review


Music by Dino Cazares, Tim Yeung and Joe Payne, lyrics by Travis Neal (except lyrics to “The Battle of J. Casey” written by Jason Casey), produced by Logan Mader and Lucas Banker for Dirty Icon Productions and published by Sangreal Music, Inc.

If you’re looking for juggernaut heavy riffs, pugilistic industrial rhythms and howling apocalypse-declaring vocals, then you’ve come to the right place, as Divine Heresy, the brainchild of veteran axe-wielder Dino Cazares, continue to pound out their sonic destruction with solidarity and technical prowess.

Divine Heresy were formed officially in 2006, but the origins of the band began in 2002 when former Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares and former Vital Remains drummer Tim Yeung decided search for a vocalist to work with them on a new musical project. Tommy Cummings was chosen, as was former Nile bassist Joe Payne. And thus Divine Heresy was born, their first album Bleed the Fifth released in 2007, receiving positive reviews and generating an instant following. After an onstage altercation in August 2008, Tommy Cummings was sacked from the band and replaced by Travis Neal, vocalist of The Bereaved. A year later and the melodic death metal group release their second and latest album, Bringer of Plagues.

One might expect a fairly different vocal sound and approach with the change in Divine Heresy’s line-up, but Neal ticks all the same boxes as Cummings did, switching fluidly from aggressive screams to melodic sections and back again. As far as lyrics go Bringer of Plagues follows the apocalyptic religious themes set up in Bleed the Fifth, and aren’t that much to get excited about. However, they fit the dark and desolate tone of the other musical elements of Divine Heresy, and work well with the overall rhythmic feel of the band. The gutturally chanted chorus of “Monolithic Doomsday Devices” (has there ever been a better song title?!) is particularly worthy of mention, working perfectly with the brutality generated by the other instruments.

The riffs of Dino Cazares have always been a straight-forward rhythmic onslaught right from the days of Fear Factory, sprinkled sparingly with melodic sections. While this was never a bad thing at all, it is great to see him embracing more technical ideas in regards to his guitar playing in Divine Heresy. Bringer of Plagues contains some extremely demanding riffs and licks, and not just in regards to their epic speed. The album’s opening track “Facebreaker” in particular contains some fantastic sweep picking in its main riff.

The drumming of Tim Yeung conforms to the same pattern, with sections of pure machine-gun double kick contrasted with more technical ideas and skills. I do find myself slightly cynical when regarding metal drummers nowadays however, as the proliferation of aids such as kick drum triggers allow a moderately competent drummer to sound perfect without good technique. But I will leave this scepticism aside, as I wouldn’t want to accuse Mister Yeung of being anything other than a talented musician.

Joe Payne's bass lines generally follow the guitar riffs, and don’t do much other than that, which isn’t really a bad thing considering the style of music. The overall result is songs that contain drilling riffs at the speed of light, with melodic tones thrown in for good measure. The only break from this rule is the slower ballad-like “Darkness Embedded”, which is as light as Divine Heresy will allow themselves to be; in short, still very heavy!

One could be forgiven for finding that the songs of Bringer of Plagues do have a tendency to blend into one and all feel fairly similar. This would probably only be an issue for music fans not interested in or accustomed to the styles and sounds of industrial death metal. Divine Heresy clearly do not have general commercial appeal in mind with their music, and hence are happy with the specific fanbase they have generated amongst the metal community. It could also be said that Bringer of Plagues does not strike out much further than the band’s first album, sticking to already covered ground. However, when you hit that precise sound you want from your band, you would be foolish to stray away from it unless you were really certain of wanting to take new direction.

While it may not be ground-breakingly different from Bleed the Fifth, Bringer of Plagues by Divine Heresy is a solid second album from a hard-working and passionate band. With their brutal aggression and thundering momentum, this metal-machine has a lot of mileage left in it.


If you like this, then try: All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, The Bereaved, The Black Dahlia Murder, Chimaira, Fear Factory, Gojira, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Machinehead, Nile, Pantera, Slayer, Trivium and Vital Remains.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Finally, Sam Richards has come back, to Blogger!


It's the same story as it always is; I've been incredibly busy. Hence, no posts for a while. It's been my last week at work for the summer this week, which took up a fair bit of time. Also been doing some stuff at church, chairing the evening meeting and doing the talk at the youth club, both of which required some more time. All the other small details of life filled in the rest of the gaps.

Had a wonderful kick in the teeth on Friday. Rang the Student Loans Company cos I thought I'd lost my registration letter and needed another one; turns out I have no loan for next year! My local education authority used all the info I sent them to finalise my loan for last year. Why? I have no idea! But the fact of the matter is I have to reapply with all the slackers who've left it to the last minute. Should get my loan in time though, so no real harm done.

Went to Hillsong London today, which is a big church in the nation's capital that meets in The Dominion Theatre. It was my friend James' idea to go, as I happened to going down to London today for another work experience placement. Have a look at his blog, Duffy's Deliberations. We (James, my fiance Lauren, and myself) thought it would be cool to see what a big church is like, as we're all used to fairly small services.

There were quite a few subjects that my trip to Hillsong London caused me to ponder. I was kind of skeptical about how 'showy' the service would be. Sitting in the theatre before the start I could see all the lights, smoke and multimedia that was to be employed, and wasn't sure it was appropriate or if it would distract from focusing on God. However, I came to the decision that it would be ungrateful to God to have the blessing of a building like The Dominion, and not use its full capabilities. Also, it's all about your own heart. You can be distracted from focusing on God in the plainest and most mundane surroundings. I know personally that my imagination can be the biggest distraction for me, and it's for each individual to channel their attention, regardless of the surroundings.

The preacher at the service, Stovall Weems, the senior pastor at Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, USA, brought up some interesting thoughts in his sermon on Mary the sister of Martha. His main point was how she sought happiness at the feet of Jesus, encouraging us to follow this example and be happy in God. Placing our happiness in our relationship with Christ is the best way to bring people to God, because happiness will overflow onto those we interact with, leading them to question how they can obtain that kind of joy. There were a lot of other things he said, and I haven't explained this as well as others could, but it stuck with me as something I should put into practice in my life.

Phew! That's a lot of writing for one night. Got a few reviews to come, as I saw Inglorious Basterds last week, and recently purchased Imogen Heap's new album, Ellipse. Will have them up shortly. Should do some fiction as well really, so I don't get rusty. That would be unforgivable!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Sam Richards is no longer M.I.A.


I've been off the radar for quite a while, but I'm back now. It's been a very busy week and a half!

I've been in Portsmouth since Monday, helping at a music academy that my church is putting on. I had to learn four songs for the academy, "Mercy" by Duffy, "When You Were Young" by The Killers, "Stop and Stare" by One Republic and "Hit Me Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears. The last one was an interesting choice, but we've made it quite 'rocky'. I had to spend most of last week working out all the parts and learning them, hence my absence from the blogger-verse. 

We had one guitarist yesterday, who didn't turn up today, and isn't going to come anymore! So I taught the songs to the other guy helping with the teaching, because I'm off home tomorrow and won't be there for the performance on Saturday. It was useful for me to be there anyway, because they needed someone to practice with the kids.

It has been very tiring though; we arrive at 8ish in the morning and finish at 5. Because we have to stay with the kids all day I spend 8 hours a day in the great indoors. I was so glad to get outside at the end of the day!

Bought a new DS game the other day that's really good. It's called Puzzle Quest: Galactrix and it's uber-geeky. Essentially it's Tetris crossed with Star Wars, and therefore, very cool. Also got the new Divine Heresy album, which I will review for you in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Thank you Nintendo customer support


At last my Wii is working again. I went to set it up a few weeks ago and for no apparent reason the remotes wouldn't sync. Oh well, I thought, I don't desperately want to play it. So I left it for a bit.

A week or so ago I thought I'd try it again. New batteries and all that, read through the manual and followed the instructions to the letter. Nothing. I sat there for ages pressing the little red buttons with my hand in the air. Nothing. I thought it must either be the sensor bar or the remotes that were broken, meaning I'd have to spend some money on new equipment. 

Before I followed that assumption I borrowed my friend's remotes and sensor bar just to check if it was my things that were broken. And they didn't work either. So in my despair I went to my last resort. I rang customer support. 

When I got through to a human I told him I'd tried everything in the manual and was at a loss. 

"Ok, press the button on the Wii, don't hold it," he said. I pressed it. "Now press the button on the remote." I pressed it. "Is it working now?" I'm all prepared to answer in the negative, and then the mickey mouse glove appears on the screen! Simple. 

My question is this; why didn't it say in the manual to try that? Why did I have to ring an 08 number to get this simple solution? I don't really care though, I'm just glad I don't have to shell out to get new accessories.

On the subject of Nintendo products I'm fully obsessed with The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass. The Zelda games are annoyingly good. Annoying because you easily get hooked but also because when you get stuck, you get stuck. One particular puzzle in the ghost ship completely halted my progress. And in the end it turned out that I just needed to apply some numbers in a different order. Still a great game, regardless of the frustration. 

Saturday, 15 August 2009

I'm clean at last!


I'm now back from camping in Wales, where the washing facilities weren't much to talk about but lots of fun was had nonetheless. We all had a really good time, the weather was beautiful for the most part and there were only minor issues to deal with.

My main blight of the week was the numerous insect bites I sustained throughout the camping, some of which blossomed very painfully and disgustingly. I had one on my wrist which was particularly gruesome. It turned into a pus-filled boil which I named Juarez. Its gone down now thankfully, I kept catching it on things. Ouch.

My night-duty responsibilities were fairly simple. Nothing really happened so all I did was watch films and play on my DS. I got quite far on The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass, which I was previously stuck on. The best film I watched was Stranger Than Fiction. Its got a fantastic plot and great performances, especially from Will Ferrell who proves there's more to him than just comedy. Also watched quite a few episodes of Flight of the Conchords and The Mighty Boosh, both of which I had never seen before and found very funny and weird.

Well I guess I should get on with some writing now that I'm back, need to work on some stories to post. Also I'm kinda realising how much work I've got to do over the next year for uni; I worked it out at about 50,000 words give or take. Slightly scary, but that's what I chose to do, so no one to blame but myself!

Friday, 7 August 2009

"Ten O'clock and all's well"


This will be my last post for about a week or so as I am heading off to Wales to help with the youth camp my church puts on every summer. I'm on night duty for the week, protecting the kids from a variety of nocturnal dangers. In reality all I have to do it sit in the car watching films on my laptop, as nothing bad ever happens. The worst event last year was when a fox got stuck in our camp site, and I was more worried for him than anything!

I was gonna post a review for the new Killswitch Engage album, but I've decided against it. Basically, it's a very average album, not really worth the time and effort of writing a review on. It feels very diluted, in that all the elements are there, but never becoming more than the sum of their parts. A bit of a disappointment really. Maybe it will grow on me in time, we'll see.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Men from the Forest - part 3 of 3


Absolute terror. He is gripped, controlled. He wants to be so far away. Back in the cottage, wrapped up in his patchwork blanket, clutching his toy bear, enveloped by sweet sleep. But he is feverish, fervent, hopeless. The chasm within him is opening up, consuming him. He wants tears to rock his body, to pour out of him. The boy feels something.

She has drunk. She contorts, writhing, her naked flesh flashing like a gem in the torchlight. Death echoes in the chamber. She has filled herself, she is powerful, delirious, drunk on the fountain of his youth, his naivety, his innocence. She laughs, a rich peal of danger.

The knife is in his hand before she can break his neck, the claws enclosing. The cackle distorts into a scream as the blade violates her. Somehow he is dressed, he is tumbling down the stairs, a howl of pure rage pursuing him, snapping at his heels. He crashes through the door, across the clearing, plunges into the trees. She follows, a silken trace of scarlet falling in her wake, grasping her way through the treetops, panting, gasping, bleeding, ashamed, furious, alone.


She dives through the branches, knocking him to the ground, claws flurrying about his body, stealing more of him, ripping his clothing. Wildly he slashes. She pouches back, a streak of luminescent blood drawn on her white cheek. He stands, tall and cold. His shirt is in tatters, revealing his muscular chest, gashed. His dark hair is feral in the wind. His eyes pierce her emptiness. She is disgusted. He repulses her. Melting into the darkness, she returns to her tower, her hatred healing her skin, her pain eating her heart.

The villagers hardly recognised young Benjamin Thorn when he returned. He was so stern, so chilling, somehow taller and broader as he emerged from the Devil’s Whim on the third day. The grand old maids averted their gaze, knitting the funeral shrouds for the newly born babes.

He is a man now, they say, a shiver of discomfort running down the lace of their shawls. Benjamin grows up, he marries, becomes the father of a son, and then a daughter. He sends his son out on his fourteenth birthday, the son returns a man. He carries on living, as we all do, he builds Karletto’s first airship dock on the hills nearby, as air travel sweeps a new generation of travellers from the coast to the capital. As the village grows and becomes a town he grows old, sinks into bed, and ponders his dance with the beast in the forest, while his son stands in the dusky light, his newborn boy held in his arms, eyes piercing the night sky, watching the hills roll away, over and over, over and over.

The End

A Miscarriage of Justice


"You idiot! That goat was worth way more than a few stupid beans!"

SLAP!

Jack nursed the side of this throbbing head, tears welling in his eyes. This mother, a brutish woman who resembled a barrel with twigs for arms, thundered off into the ramshackle kitchen of the cottage, grasping the bag of magic lentils in her pudgy fist.

"And don't think you'll be getting any dinner tonight, you fool," she screeched, clattering pots and pans, making an unholy racket. "In fact," she continued, squeezing through the tiny frame of the doorway, "you don't even deserve to be under my roof. Get out!" Brandishing a greasy spatula she chased her son out of the front door, slamming it behind him.

Jack watched through the cracked window pane as his awful mother wolfed down a massive plate of steaming chilli con carne, a helping big enough for three people. His beans were mixed into the mess, glistening in the oily beef. The boy's stomach growled, and it took all his strength not to eat the grass under his feet. Shivering, he wrapped his ragged jacket as close as it would go against his jagged frame, and shuffled off to spend the night in the goat's shed, still stinking of its previous tenant, but warmer and drier than being outside at night.

ARRRGGHHHHH!!!

Jack awoke with a start. A strangled cry resounded from inside the cottage. Fearing the repremand he would face if he did not hurry to the scene, Jack jumped up and ran inside. He burst into his mother's room, greeted by a terrible sight. His mother was writhing in agony, her huge belly expanding much larger than its normal size. Sweat and tears streaming off her mottled flesh as she screamed,

"Jack! What... have... you... done to me?!"

Still her stomach distended, as Jack watched in horror, unable to act. With one final blood-curdling bellow, the skin of his mother's belly split, covering the room with guts, gore and fluid. Errupting out of it, plowing through the thatched roof of the cottage and into the sky, a plant grew, green and hearty, pulsing with life. Jack stood and gaped at the destruction, until he was taken away from the scene by police officers called to the incident by the concerned and nosy neighbours.

"Look, we know you fed her the beans. We've got a statement from the dealer who sold them to you, and he's getting ten years for distributing an illegal and deadly substance." The detective glowered at the pale-faced Jack, his stocky partner leaning back in her chair, appearing uninterested. "The forensic evidence alone is enough to send you to the chair. Confess, and it will be life in prison." Jack cleared his throat nervously, knowing what would come when he spoke.

"I didn't-"

The female detective suddenly surged forward, grabbing him by the throat.

"Go on. Say it." She ground the words out of her mouth, crushing them between her teeth.

"I, I, didn't do-"

She flung him to the floor, his head colliding with the solid bricks of the wall. Both the detectives left the room, the man sneering as he went,

"We'll see what the jury thinks."

The old judge, a wasted skeletal figure, turned to the spokesman of the jury.

"Have you come to a vedict?" He croaked.

"We have," repiled the spokesman. "Against the charge of 'beanacide' (not to be confused with Ribenacide, the criminal act of murdering an individual through the use of fruit squash) we find the defendant... guilty." Jack hardly reacted, evidence some would say, of his guilt. He stepped down from the defendant's box, flanked by court security staff, and out of the room, followed by the flash of cameras and the gabble of reporters.

A strange thing happened not long after Jack's execution. It seemed that the enormous plant which had grown up out of the cottage, had disturbed a giant living high in the clouds above. Furious and raging at the insolence of the men below, the giant climbed down the plant and flattened the town, crushing men and women and animals, leaving none alive. He climbed back up to his cloud and uprooted the plant, casting it down upon the wreckage. Let this tale be a lesson to us all; only use beans for their intended purpose. Who knows what might happen otherwise?

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Men from the Forest - part 2 of 3


Wrapped in a green cotton travelling cloak with a leather strap across the neck and carrying a tattered old knapsack containing a knife and a magic scroll, Benjamin set out into the woods. He isn’t scared, there isn’t anything to be afraid of in the trees, just small animals and shadows. His father taught him how to live in the wild and they had been camping in the forest before, on the outskirts. He takes out his scroll because the shafts of light dancing through the branches are growing dim. He reads the enchantment out aloud, the syllables slithering around his tongue like a serpent, watching as a little spark creeps off the page, floating up and growing brighter. It follows Benjamin, lighting the way. An obedient spark.

She can see him. Through the jet-ash boughs and trunks. She creeps. Watching him is making her thirst.
Soon I’ll make my move, she tells herself. An apocalypse of feeling rushes up her spine, causing her to shudder. Soundlessly she jumps to the next tree, her claws sinking into the bark.
The boy was walking, searching for a good spot to make camp, when he saw the black tower. Glimmering like an obsidian spike, it stands in a clearing of trees. Looking up he sees a window high above, near the tower’s peak. A light issues from within, its warming tendrils pulling at the boy, showing a presence inside. Benjamin strides up to the door and raps his knuckles on the ancient wood, no shame, no fear. The door slowly opens. When Benjamin thinks about it, he should have found it strange, the door opening as soon as he knocked. But he was too pure, too unassuming. Standing in the doorway is a tall woman, skin like a stone, washed by time, hair flowing like blood, thick and dark, her face too perfect, too symmetrical, beautiful but in a hideous way, a mask hiding secrets. The boy feels something, a depth within him, a cave opening, a gnawing. 
I shouldn’t be here, he thinks. She beckons him, her words cannot be heard, cannot be remembered. He follows. Her long violet cloak reaches down past the smooth stone floor. Like a ghost, he follows her up the stairs, past flickering torches in brackets high above. No shadows though. The black marble, its bone-white ripples, they take the shadows.
They are in a bedchamber, ornately furnished with plush purple cloth, a four-poster bed of regal proportions taking up the majority of the room. The boy feels uneasy, noticing that nothing in this, the highest room in the tower, seems to have any signs of the damage of age. The wood of the bedposts, the long flowing material, the stone walls, they were from the beginning of time, yet they will be there for forever. The window offers a view over the trees, a sea of green, brown and black, waves billowing over the branches. The woman slides over to the bed, busying herself at a cabinet beside it. He is looking out of the window, gazing towards Karletto, wishing he were there, sweat and fear driving him to rush away. He doesn’t jump when she touches him, turns him towards her. Like a mother, like a fiend, she removes his cloak, taking his dignity. He sees for the first time she is wearing nothing beneath her gown, a figure crafted from darkness. He hurts inside, a well of confusion, staring at that body, he will gaze as she fully removes the gown. She takes him across to the bed.

Heroes Needed!


Again, I must apologise for my lack of posting as of recent. My literary silence has been due to a combination of being extremely busy and wasting what little free time I have playing Driver and watching the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films.

Mostly this week I have been working, which isn't really out of the ordinary, and also helping at the 'Junior Heroes' kids club at my church, which is slightly out of the ordinary. I didn't think I would really enjoy it but it was actually quite fun. I haven't done any youth work for a while so it was a bit weird to start with, but I got into it quickly.

I'm going to Uckfield tomorrow, to visit my mate Tom for his birthday. It's a long drive but worth it for his Mum's cooking.

Finished two books this week, Film Noir by Andrew Spicer, and Suffer the Children by Adam Creed. The former was very useful for my dissertation and the latter was just a very good read, which did have some noir elements so I guess it will be useful academically. That's the beauty of my course; I can watch films, play games and read books, all in the name of inspiration for my course!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Men from the Forest - part 1 of 3


When the men of Karletto look back on their lives, when they are just cobwebs clinging to a bed, they all remember their trial in the forest. They feel cold because they will never know that warmth again. That fever. A burning, as powerful as an earthquake and as dangerous as a demon confounded. It was locked away long ago.

You’ve probably passed through Karletto, you didn’t take any notice because, well, why would you? Just a small village, a way-station for travellers from the bustling metropolis of Jahrad, the southern port, on their way to Meerith-Tal, the capital of the nation, the shining jewel. And this village, just a link in the dull chain that connects these gems of life and interest. Just a small village, sat on the edge of Razor’s Whim, a dark-waste forest. You probably shivered when you looked up at the towering jet-ash trees, their dark branches clawing the sky.

Why would anyone live so close to such a forest? You thought to yourself. But then again, those who live here probably don’t have a choice. Despite your comfortable night in the inn, the hearty meal you enjoyed, you are shivering within your soul. You shrug this place off your shoulders and walk on.

Young Benjamin Thorn lives in the village of Karletto, and will for all his life. All he knows is the little wooden houses, the mill sitting astride the stream, the tavern, where people come and go, come and go. His face glows as he trots along the village’s only street, health in his legs, the strength of youth in this back. The grand old maids watch him, smiling as they sit in their doorways; sewing the magic threads onto the cloth of the scrolls they sell in the marketplace.

Sweet boy, they are saying, but behind their wrinkles and grey hair lies a fear. They know that if he catches one more snowflake he’ll be crushed under the weight of his own innocence.

Benjamin survived however, living a normal life until his fourteenth birthday. It is tradition in Karletto for the boys of this age to be sent out into the woods for three days and three nights, facing the elements, living in the wild. They would return as men, but none of them ever said why. Benjamin was actually the first youngster to take the trial. No-one knows why his father, a tall, rough man with eyes that flashed, blinking moonlight, decided to send his son into the forest. Some say he had made a bargain with dark powers, some say he thought the boy would benefit from the harsh life, and some say he doesn’t even know himself. But from that time onwards, all the boys from Karletto take the trail into the forest.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

"Would you like a bag with that?"


I must confess I've been slacking off a bit over the past few days. This was actually posted on Saturday, I think Blogger has done some magic with it and sent it back in time. I guess most writers must find the biggest problem to deal with is inspiration. You feel massively inspired one day and wish you had more time to write. And then the next day you'll have loads of free time and no passion at all, and spend the day watching reruns of Friends.

Lauren and I went across the rolling hills of the shire to visit her family in Devizes the other day. That makes it sound really far away, it's only fifteen minutes along the road. Lauren's little sister absolutely loves me. She's four (I think) and she used to cry when I went into the same room as her. That was a great first-impression when I met Lauren's Dad and step-Mum. "Hi I'm Sam, Lauren's boyfriend. Your daughter appears to think I'm the anti-christ." But after having to sit next to me in the car on a journey down to Portsmouth she's realised I'm not pure evil and loves me to bits.

It is tiring though, being a four year-old's best friend. Everytime we go over there I have to play a myriad of games, the favourite often being 'hide something then make the other person find it.' This time is was 'shopping' which I had to join in with. The game consisted of me buying a pile of books with those little plastic toy coins we all used to have, then I would become the shop keeper and sell them back to her. So essentially I had to do what I do at work over and over again for the pleasure of a child. Wait till she has a part-time job. Then I'll come in over and over again and she how she likes it!

When we had to go, Lauren's sister burst into tears. I didn't know whether she was genuinely upset that we were leaving or if she wasn't finished shopping and protesting about her transaction being left half-calculated. Anyway, she used to cry when I turned up, now she cries when I leave. I think that's better really, although if she didn't cry at all it would be perfect.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A Life Thwarted


Oliver Mansell sat at his desk. It had become his desk over the years. Whenever he went to work he always sat in this spot, the furthest to the left, from the customer’s point of view. Not that he really cared. It would be a change to sit in one of the other two places. He didn’t ever get upset if a new staff member sat in ‘his’ seat, although someone would generally whisper quietly in their ear, and they would flush red, apologise and move aside to let him sit down. He didn’t really mind though.
It was a Wednesday, busier now that that phone company were doing the two-for-one deal on tickets. Relentlessly he checked codes on mobile phone screens, punched in the numbers on the computer, watched the little blue stubs pop up like toast from the slot in the counter, and handed them over to the customers. He watched them walk away, laughing, smiling, over to the food counter to buy over-priced sweets and watered-down soft drinks.
He repeated his task, almost establishing a rhythm in the jumping of the tickets, anticipating what film the customer desired to see. After working there for goodness knows how long he had acquired a certain amount of skill in guessing what the customer was there to watch. He would hover the mouse-pointer over the option he considered most likely, awaiting their answer. Some nights, when he was particularly bored, he would keep score for himself. 
As he watched the tickets arrive through the slot in the counter, Oliver remembered all those years back, how there had been something magical about the tickets appearing through the surface of the desk, as if mystically summoned or produced by tiny creatures in a miniscule factory. But now he’d had to check and change the ticket paper so many times, all the magic had gone, leaving him with the mundane reality that it was just a piece of machinery.
There were two other employees on the desk with him tonight, as it was busier than usual. Oliver had nicknames for everyone who he worked with, not that he ever used them to people’s faces. Furthest to the left from him was “Claudia Shuffle”, a stunning young blonde who scuffed her feet across the floor whenever she walked. In the middle, between himself and Miss Shuffle was “Jean Claude Van Dumb”, a muscle-bounded gym freak, who definitely had more brawn than brains, in Oliver’s opinion. They probably had nicknames for him, he thought. ‘Baldy-locks’ or ‘four-eyes’, something really original. He didn’t really care though.
“Oi, I sed two fuh James Bond.” Disturbed from his daydream, Oliver looked up to see a young lad and what must be his girlfriend, both clad from head to toe in neon sportswear, the boy wearing a baseball cap that slanted ridiculously off to the side. Oliver looked down at the “15” certificate for the film and back at the slouching teenagers.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to see some ID or I won’t be able to let you into the movie.” Dripping with smugness, the couple both produced citizenship cards proving their ages, smirks daubed across their zit-filled faces as they took their tickets, muttering insults under their breath as they slunk away.  As there was no one else to serve at that point, Oliver turned back to peruse the computer screen.

BLAM! 

Something struck him on the head. Shocked and confused, he looked down and saw that the projectile had been an unusually large chocolate-covered raisin. Looking over the pick-n-mix he saw the teenage couple, shuddering with repressed laughter, pretending they had been looking the other way the whole time. Red with embarrassment, Oliver looked around to see if anyone else had witnessed the incident. To his increased shame, his two colleagues on the desk were also trying not to chuckle.
“Are you alright?” managed Van Dumb, stifling a giggle. Oliver muttered something. Why didn’t he just get up, march over there, and order them off the premises? Why did he take this kind of abuse? He was so ashamed of himself, a thirty-seven year-old man, made an object of fun by puss-filled louts! But he didn’t get up, he stayed sat in his seat and let the rage subside and sink down inside him. The truth was, he didn’t really care.

The End

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Mistabishi - Drop - Review


Music by Jamie Pullen, produced by Jamie Pullen and published by Hospital Records.

When you were standing in the office, staring blankly at the sheets of A4 paper relentlessly dropping into the tray, did you feel musically inspired? Mistabishi did, and he didn’t stop there, producing probably one of the best drum and bass albums this year.

Making his debut on Hospital Records in the later part of 2007 with the piano-led rave ‘No Matter What’, Mistabishi quickly gained critical acclaim, in particular from radio one’s Zane Lowe, Jo Whiley and Annie Mac. Now returning with his first studio album, the drum and bass innovator has generated a rising band of followers and has been nominated for the ‘Best Newcomer Award’ at the Drum & Bass Arena Awards 2009.

I first discovered Mistabishi the same way most casual drum and bass enthusiasts would have done; through the radio one promotion of his tune ‘Printer Jam’. A wonderfully inventive piece of music employing the whirrings and chirps of an ancient printer, the story goes that the song was created when the artist knew he was facing job loss and wanted to make use of his last few days in the office. Therefore he took his recording equipment in and sampled the sounds for his music, using the sonic by-product of the machinery to produce a pounding drum and bass anthem.

Of course with a song like ‘Printer Jam’ there is the danger that people will either dismiss it as a gimmick, or be disappointed when the other Mistabishi tracks do not have exactly the same ethos and feel. The ‘true’ drum and bass fans would mock the mainstream interest as a fad and Mistabishi would remain a favourite only to a select few. But this would only be a danger if the rest of Mistabishi’s tracks did not deliver the same level of ingenuity and passion, which happily is not the case.

Although pigeonholed as a drum and bass artist, Mistabishi demonstrates that he is not bound by genre with the vast array of styles and influences found on Drop. There certainly is a powerful drum and bass presence throughout the album, but even within that aspect there are differing facets. The grimy and gritty tones and beats of tracks like ‘Printer Jam’ and ‘Damage’ are contrasted by the ethereal synths and chilled feel of ‘Heaven’s Sake’ and ‘The View From Nowhere’. Breaking from the drum and bass mould Mistabishi dabbles in dub-step with relentless grinding of ‘White Collar Grime’ and ‘Wipe Your Tears’, the latter of which features a clever windscreen wiper sample. The use of trance-style piano riffs pummelling over the rhythms of ‘No Matter What’ demonstrates that even with his first hit track, Mistabishi is not content to churn out the expected, throwing off conformity from any aspect of his music.

Mistabishi has been described as the ‘Tyler Durden’ of drum and bass, a description that Drop supports very well. Although there are relaxed, ambient areas of the music, the album is laced with an unnerving edge, the feeling of violence and feral energy beneath the surface, which sometimes breaks through. In the same way that Fight Club’s protagonist eschews the mainstream material conformity proscribed for society, Mistabishi’s music seems to suggest a search for alternate meanings in a world that has been sold short by the vendors of greed and selfishness. Creativity brought on by the financial collapse is definitely a motivating factor Mistabishi, with Drop as the call to leave your office cubicle and find something that actually matters.

The only thing I don’t particularly like about this album, and it’s only a tiny little flaw, is that it has one of those extensive final tracks, made up mostly of noise in this case. Hidden tracks and silent gaps really annoy me, right from the days when I used to listen to Korn and had to skip the first twelve tracks on their album Follow The Leader to get to the music. On a practical level it wastes space on your hard-drive and MP3 player, which is just frustrating unless you have software to remove the gaps. Not a big deal really, I just would rather it wasn’t there.

Mistabishi’s Drop will not disappoint hardcore drum and bass enthusiasts or those enticed by hearing ‘Printer Jam’ in the mainstream setting either. Full of interesting and varied styles, the album speaks an ethical message on greed and materialism but without preaching or condescending. A unified collection of catchy tunes, Drop will get you on your feet and dancing in no time.

If you like this, then try: Badmarsh&Shri, Bloc Party, Chase & Status, Enter Shikari, Faithless, High Contrast, DJ Hype, Innerpartysystem, Pendulum, The Prodigy.