Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Darshan Ambient - "Falling Light" CD

Veteran composer Michael Allison has been a staple of the ambient/electronic scene for many years, and "Falling Light" shows him moving ever closer to well-structured songs, rather than simply mood pieces. The title track opens this 12-song, 60-minute journey, and it's an upbeat, even rhythmic bit of light and airy ambient pop. "Small Blue Ones" brings some trumpet and mystery, all the while remaining optimistic. "A Boat Beneath A Sunny Day" sums it up well, another magical and wondrous journey with lovely swells of guitar, synth bass, and piano. "Clothed In Wakefulness" could be a lullaby of sorts, while "The Immense Window" is a drowsy, gorgeously fleeting moment that lasts 7 minutes, complete with choral voices and piano.

"Falling Light" is an album of proto-ambient pop songs, and this set of mature instrumental tunes do well to illustrate that times of hope and positivity need not be sappy nor saccharine. Well-done.

"Mold" DVD (director: Neil Meschino)

As an homage and love letter to eighties-era splatter horror, "Mold" clearly has heart. But, execution is another thing, and this one still fails to rise above. 

Set in a hidden government lab in the middle of Reagan-era America, a new strain of mold, created to wipe out coca fields in the battle against the drug cartels, gets inadvertently released, and causes extreme reactions in the humans it comes into contact with. Skin meltings, madness, and oozing orifices are the order of the day here, as the group of hammy military meatheads and scientists are forced to fend for themselves. 

There's little to recommend this one, unfortunately, and although the gore is over-the-top and appropriately sticky, there is nary a breast to be seen, and in this type of film, that's somehow verboten. Sure, it's trashy and silly, and the shoestring budget is evident in every scene, but this one just doesn't satisfy in it's pursuit of "over the top".

"One Last Game" DVD (director: Ayassi)

This German (but scripted in English) drama deals with a protagonist (played by Ken Duken), a motley assemblage of poker players, and the politics behind his "final game". Secrets are bared, crimes are admitted, and infidelities revealed, during this "last game".

It's all filmed against an abstracted black backdrop, which gives "One Last Game" an odd, otherworldly, and dream-like vibe. Duken is fine as the confident but troubled Gellert, and his co-star, Scandinavian pop-singer Regina Lund, is oddly icy and mysterious. Nonetheless, I had a tough time getting into the storyline, as the whole film takes place on the same "set", and the character development & dialogue seems, well, slow-paced. 

Not a world-class film, but certainly one with style and subtlety. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Beer: Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head - Life & Limb

Ah, two of craft beer's all-time legends and innovators collaborate on a big, heavy-duty, experimental beer. I couldn't pass this one up, being an American strong ale brewed with birch and maple syrups. Can't lose, right?

SIERRA NEVADA (Chico, CA) & DOGFISH HEAD (Milton, DE) - Life & Limb 2 - 4.0

Pours a deep, dark ruby, so dark that it looks black at first. Voluptuous head, but lace is erratic. Nose is malty, sweet, and boozy. This heavy-bodied, thick and malty ale rushes the palate first with odd sweetness, evidently the maple and birch syrup infusions. It's an unusual and smooth taste, and definitely pleasing. The sweetness continues until a fruity, nutty character follows and brings up the finish. A sipper, to be sure, as the 10.2% sneaks up on you.

Overall, a unique, quirky, and strong ale, perhaps not up to the par of Sierra or Dogfish's finest individual works, but certainly a tasty and worthwhile experiment.

"Electric Button (Moon & Cherry)" DVD (director: Yuki Tanada)

This small-time Japanese indie from first-time director Tanada doesn't succeed with glitz nor glamor, but gets by with (I hate to say it, but it's true...) charm and heart. It's a tale of a virginal young man (Tadokoro) who joins an erotic writers club, only to find that the club's most successful writer is a young woman. Taking him under her wing, the young woman (named Mayama), proceeds to school the young man in the art of sex, putting him through all sorts of trials, presumably as fodder for her own literary work.

Without giving away too many spoilers, Todokoro finds himself at a crossroads well into his sexual education, and things take a turn for the worse. With a small amount of humor, a realistic script, and a tantalizing amount of sex, "Electric Button" is a charming adult drama that deserves a bigger audience.