Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Julian Assange: A Modern Day Hero? Inside The World Of WikiLeaks" DVD

This simply-packaged DVD had me slightly discouraged at first. I mean, 3 hours examining a man who I knew little about? No worries. This turned out to be an engrossing and informative (and unbiased) documentary on the effects and intentions of the publicized (and maligned non-profit) WikiLeaks project, and its figurehead, Australian computer hacker Julian Assange.

Providing a necessary "full disclosure" on often classified and top-secret government dealings and documents, Wikileaks exposes truths, be them good or bad, and endeavors to (at great personal risk) set the information free upon the world. Corporate greed is also a target (and rightfully so), as WikiLeaks has also brought to light some illegal dealings behind closed doors of some of the world's largest banks and corporations. Not surprisingly, WikiLeaks has been assailed by legal sharks, shadowy government-funded groups, and "black suits" in retaliation for these information "leaks".

Assange is the primary subject here, and a large part of this DVD consists of presentations he gave in recent years in front of international media and live audiences. This is fascinating conspiracy theory stuff, minus the theory. Simply put, Assange and his team of hundreds of journalists, transmedia artists, and anonymous donors strive to make the world a more transparent (and honest) place. This DVD is a perfect primer, and deserves an even wider audience. I say broadcast this on prime-time national TV. Ah, to be idealistic. Anyway, this one's essential viewing for modern-day thinking heads. (Blow Whistle Blow Films via MVD Visual)


Ulver - "Wars Of The Roses" album

Few bands have evolved so drastically (or intelligently) as Norway's Ulver. Beginning life in 1993 as a fairly typical black metal act, Ulver have, in recent years, embraced electronic music, ambient, folk, post-rock, and film soundtrack work, all with equal respect and reverence. "Wars Of The Roses" is the band's 8th studio album, and the evolution is striking and effective.

The surprising and brilliant Krautrock/pop of "February MMX" opens, complete with melodic chorus and hooks. Definitely a long way from the band's roots, but quite good. The rest of the album is similarly textural and layered, yet not at all lightweight. Co-production and mixing by John Fryer (known for his work with the early 4AD Records label) surely contribute to the album's ethereal moodiness, but Ulver's visionary psychedelic soundscapes are deep and almost magical. Their heart is still blackened, but their process and tools are much more colorful and diverse.

Other standouts include "Providence", a gorgeous (but dark) piano-led piece featuring female vocals, and the epic "September IV". The closer, "Stone Angels", runs 15 minutes and is an ambient narrative featuring new member Daniel O'Sullivan reciting poetry alongside lovely meditational ambience and a powerful percussive finale. Fitting. An incredible album from an innovative and unique group. (Kscope Music)

Ulverspace (not official?)

Ulver's own label and official band site

Earth - "Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1" album

Legendary drone/doom rock (don't say metal these days) act Earth here return with their most musical album yet, a multi-faceted and moody set of instrumental tunes that join the band's influential quasi-mystical guitars with Western-inspired cinematic motifs. Think post-rock meets Ennio Morricone, maybe. "Descent To The Zenith" is a deceptively simple rock song, slowed down to half-speed, and retaining enough melody to be hummable and "catchy", even. "Hell's Winter" has a little more renegade attitude (there's definitely some blues lurking within), but nonetheless remains textural and soundscape-oriented. Superb work, really, as I get a dusky, gritty "Deadwood"-kinda vibe here. The title track is 20 minutes of spaced-out drones with swells of cello. This ends it all on a lovely, drifty, and meditational note.
Earth's strength lies in their ability to conjure dramatic textures and contemplative moods, all within the normally humdrum framework of guitar-drums-cello. "Angels Of Darkness" is a well-rounded, mature, and accomplished recording, and stands as a high point in the band's catalog. (Southern Lord)


Earth site