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Media Reviews

Winged Migration

In nature we see a vision shaped by eons of natural processes, interactions between the biosphere and the weather systems, influenced by our planet's cosmic rotations. The subject is birds this time, but we can all place our selves in harmony with these pristine worlds. Through bird's eyes we see the land and feel the intensity of long migrations through extremes of weather, the miracle of flight. Community and family, food and survival are primary values.


This film, by cinematographer Ron Fricke, is an epic poem of visuals and music regarding the human predicament. It is a meditation experience, not a narrative. Scenes of planet Earth's awesome beauty are contrasted with chilling scenes of despair and resignation in the mechanistic industrialized society. And threaded throughout are scenes of those that know the secrets, the spiritual peoples of the world. This film helps us realize the essentialness of why we should question our role as humans on this world. This film is in a high quality wide screen format with incredibly detailed scenes, and a majestic soundtrack by Michael Sterns, with additional music by L. Subramaniam, Dead Can Dance, and a fantastic scene of Balinese Ketjak dramatic chanting. To see this on a home VCR would not do it justice--the visionary quality of the experience would be lost.

Mystery Repeats Itself

This CD recording by Michael Masley is a rich exploration of the Free World Music, with Masley performing on his unique bowed and hammered Cymbalom, a hammer dulcimer type instrument. Many co-performers on many world music instruments are playing with Masley. Over 20 selections range widely in emotional and textural content, including passages from 1984-1993. Available from Tonehenge Productions/Happensdance Music, PO Box 5232, Berkeley, CA 94705. (510) 548-1241.

Mbira Dreams

This music from Erica Kundidzora, Zimbabwe music expert from Berkeley, California, has a warmth that grows with each listening. First you hear her voice, sometimes peering out from behind rich weavings of rhythm and metal rods hammered flat, plucked by only one finger and two thumbs. This is a music of a soul searching, while passing the time picking out patterns of generations of soul searching on a music instrument made from the humblest of materials. A piece of raw wood as the base, and re-used metal rods and wire hammered into keys tightly bound across a metal bar bridge. Where cowry shells used to serve as rattles attached to a platform of reused sheet steel or aluminum, now the people that created this music, the Shona people of Zimbabwe, are using bottle caps from used soda and beer bottles. These people are too connected to their souls and the master soul of earth to throw away steel bottle caps. Everything gets used, as it should be.

A special highlight of this recording is Erica's duo piece which includes one of her humble yet prolific and brooding friends, Todd Boekelheide, a diversely influenced film music composer from Oakland, California. This piece softly sparkles along with the entrancing sound of two mbira players rhythmically dancing and echoing each other.

An interesting insider secret related to this album is that there exists a whole interesting community of people on the West Coast playing this music of Zimbabwe, ranging from drumming and dancing, to mbira groups, and a host of full-fledged marimba groups comprising 7 marimba players. The player of the gargantuan bass marimba has to stand on a box or stool to reach the keys. And these are mostly Americans, searching for a way to re-establish a connection to music and true living, rather than accepting the endless flood of insidiously entertaining consumer goods advertisements on television.

Voice Garden

This velvety and classicly influenced multimedia experience is a wonderful walk in a soft furry cave, one where love and sexuality are blended together in a swirling marbled cool drink. Poetry, an exploring quality to the navigation, and wonderfully morphing images and animations appear like the reveries of a pair of forest elves. In this case, the elves are Beverly Reiser and her son Hans. Their collaborator composed the music which sets the mood for the various stages of psychic evolution you uncover as you wander through it's many virtual spaces. Beverly is a key manifestor of reality and synergy in her position as the San Francisco Bay Area's YLEM group, a witty and subversive group of "Artists Using Science and Technology".

Dave Hayden and Jessica's Attic

Dave Hayden, a San Jose area based synthesist and performer, has been creating some very interesting recordings, sounds that take the listener into a different place. Landscapes evolve over timeless minutes, subtle features rise up like landmarks on the horizon in the sillouettes of dusk. Riding through these soundscapes is like a rite of passage, one must confront one's own self and listen to the thoughts that arise.

Internet Mania

Internet mania is just a current cultural phenomenon, but one which has some potentially cunning and lethal stabs at the convulsing body of freedom. Imagine, if you will, the electronic system thoroughly entrenched in one's life outside of the corporate 'slave-tropolis' as the 'home entertainment center'. In reality, this hybrid system of computer, television, VCR, and stereo system exists merely to drive the consumer lust in a lost and thoroughly deceived soul. One's privacy is invaded by the flood of consumer lures disguised as entertainment and art. An interesting corporate slime technique is for the big guys to award 'editor's choice' and 'best of the web' awards to the little guys. Then the naive little guys put up a banner that links the dumb web surfers off of your cool page of independent content and onto their consumer society boob tube of a web site. And then Big Brother worms his way in. People naively install those cool animation and music plug-ins for their web browsers, and someday one or more of those plug-ins is going to start reading your private files off of your harddisk and feeding them back for secret evaluation by government and corporate interests. It is entirely feasible right now. The infrastructure is being installed at hyperspeed and with hyped promises of better education and business opportunities. Dare to think for yourself.

Gamelan Son of Lion

This fascinating and outrightly weird album of contemporary gamelan compositions from New York composers is a great listen. The threads of Indonesian instrumental sounds bind together this diverse set of compositional ideas, ranging from formal rhythmic pattern play, to strangely twisty stories of extraterrestrial contacts.

Junk Mail

I am a one-person business, in the software industry. I develop software and publish it on a small scale. My disks are shipped in 6x9 inch white envelopes. Yet I receive more junk mail by weight than I produce in product in a given month. I get:

software mail order catalogs ... office supply catalogs ... desktop publishing magazines ... computer graphics magazines ... entertainment magazines ... multimedia developer magazines ... cd-rom magazines ... cd-rom catalogs ... web site business magazines ... web site developer magazines ... marketing journal trial issues ... marketing magazines ... investor magazines ... personal finance junk mail ... tax software junk mail ... tax exemption secrets junk mail ... flyers for expensive ethnic music concerts ... "have you seen this child?" inserts ... grocery store coupon flyers ... chain supermarket coupon flyers ... hardware store flyers ... consumer electronics special closeout flyers ... furniture store flyers

This shows the sickness of our society. The big greedy corporations and their sympathizers and sub-divisions are preying on me because they think that as a computer programmer, I have high hopes for the world of technology and therefore I spend a lot of money on electronic devices for 'entertainment'. I have started calling all the 800 numbers and telling them to take me off their mailing lists. I'm just another customer number to them. It hasn't seemed to help yet. The flood is too great, perhaps.

Cut your junk mail labels and send them to:

Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008

and for phone lists:

Telephone Preference Service
c/o Direct Marketing Assoc.
P.O. Box 9014
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014

Include your name, address and phone number in your letters.

Clip all the labels with your name and address (the more misspelled variants, the better), stick them onto a piece of paper, and write at the top, "PLEASE TAKE ME OFF ALL MAILING LISTS." This really works. I have gotten hardly any junkmail in years. You need to do this about every year or so, since every time you subscribe to a magazine or buy something from a catalog you usually get "re-introduced" to junk mail lists.