Pavlov's Dog

BNL certainly has some scientific lyrics. The "Pavlov's dog" mentioned in Brian Wilson is about the classic experiment conducted by Pavlov in 1900s to show that dogs can learn to associate ringing of bell to the arrival of food and keep salivate even if you stop giving food.

On another note, "Nine-point-eight straight down" in When I Fall is the Earth's gravitational constant g when an object freely falls.

There aren't possibly better ways writing about science experiments in more artistic ways in mainstream songs 😉

Music Genres To Explore

If you are like me and constantly run out of fresh new music to listen, here's something that might help. The best way to discover new music is to find new/fresh/weird genres. I'll try to put here a list of very interesting select genres that I came across recently. I would highly recommend services like Rhapsody if you want to explore these. What’s more important is the way they provide navigation and ability to discover more. For example, once you find an interesting album, you can immediately click on the music genre that album belongs to and then find out the top chart for that genre and discover even more artists and so on.

So here are some cool and weird music genres to explore 🙂

  • Laptronica - This is basically music created by single person entirely by high-end software on his or her laptop. Some of popular laprtronica artists even have their concerts where they just sit on the stage with their laptop and stream out some beats for the audience! Example artist M83.
  • Experimental - This is the awesome genre to explore and can keep you busy for hours. Try Blue Man Group's Audio album or a super-weird track by Tom Waits and you'll know what I'm talking about!
  • Solo Instrumentalist - Example artist Itzhak Perlman.
  • New Age/Solo Instrumental - Example artist David Lanz. These for some "non-intruding softer displays of creativity" times :).
  • New Age Acoustics - Example artist George Winston. These are for some happy relaxing "find your soul" times.
  • Space Age Bachelor Pad - Yes, that’s really a name of a music genre! Example artist Pizzicato Five.
  • Cut & Paste - Too abstract to be classed as hip-hop, kind of beat-based experiments. Example artist Cold cut.
  • Electroclash - Energetic synth, electro-techno-pop-punk hybrid. Example artist Fischerspooner.
  • Bleep - Moody robotic sounds, too irregular for the dancefloor yet often too disruptive for passive listening. Pretty cool worktime music. Example artist Autechre.
  • Dream Pop - So how about an album named "Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements" by Streolab?

Apart from these, there is a lot to explore in Foreign, Comedy and Theater genres too. But that some other time.

DVD-Audio Format

In my recent quest to find new music, I bumped in to brand new DVD-A format on which many new demanding music albums are being delivered. It appears that this is definitely the next generation of music quality but there is very little or no information on many of its aspects. Here I'll try to summarize what I found so far:

This format is capable of delivering very high quality multi-channel surround sound on your home theater system. The DVD-A format is entirely different than usual Dolby Digital or DTS which is used for DVD movies. The quality that could be delivered using DVD-A is superior than Dolby Digital or DTS. If you look in to your DVD disk in Windows Explorer, you will find that there are two folders: Audio_TS and Video_TS. So far, only Video_TS folder was used to put all the movie files on DVDs because industry wasn't settled on standards for DVD-A format. Recently standards have been finalized and loads of new music albums are now being released in this format. They have content inside Audio_TS folder which contains DVD-A audio tracks in files with extension .aob. Because its brand new format, you need newer DVD players or sound cards to play it. However because most people aren't going to upgrade their DVD players soon, these audio DVDs supply same sound tracks in Video_TS folder encoded in usual Dolby Digital or DTS which all players knows how to play.

Now say you buy an audio album on DVD disc. Obviously you can't play it on car stereo or your portable MP3 players because it’s a DVD disc rather than normal audio CD. Or you might want to take backup of your DVD-A disc as WMA Pro files on your PC whcih allows 7.1 surround sound and playback. So what you do? You need to convert DVD disc in to normal Audio disc or rip tracks to MP3s. Unfortunately this isn't easy. The DVD-A format employs higher level of encryption than usual DVDs. The DVD videos (stored in .vob files) employs copy protection scheme called CSS which can be broken in to very easily using DeCSS or even more friendly DVD Decryptor. But DVD-A format which was developed later has learned lesson from this hack and currently there is no known way to decrypt .aob files which contains DVD-A audio tacks. That means you can't rip MP3s out of AOB files. Your only way out is to rip off from slightly lower quality Dolby/DTS formatted tracks. The most reliable and easy to use software to do this is DVD Audio Extractor. Fortunately many DVD-A albums also provides LPCM version of tracks along with AC3 (i.e. Dolby Digital)/DTS format. So to burn normal audio CDs or MP3s you might want to choose LPCM version. If DVD-A disc doesn't contain LPCM tracks, than you are out of luck. The down-mix/demux process employed by most software to convert surround sound from AC3/DTS to plain stereo format doesn't produce same quality as commercially available stereo tracks. Though you can try some equations to combine 5.1 channels in to stereo using SoftEncode etc and usually DTS works better than AC3.

Blue Man Group and Polyphonic Spree

[Artists - Album]

1. Blue Man Group - Audio
My short review of this album would be "Insanely creative". This amazing Niagara of energy is probably very different than anything you have heard so far. Some of the tracks were composed with 15 different instruments including PVC pipes and homebrewed hybrid instruments! If you have seen their off-Broadway show, you will probably appreciate this music even more. This show is definitely one of the most creative, energetic, artistic and amusing I've ever been too. On other note, they have second album called Complex. In sharp contrast, this album, apparently containing many vocals, comes nowhere close to their first. This album is available in full-blown multi-track surround DVD-A format however it doesn't contain LPCM stereo tracks, which might force you to by normal CD for MP3 extraction.

2. The Polyphonic Spree - The Beginning Stages Of Polyphonic Spree
To give you a highlight, this group is composed of 20 members including 9 dedicated just for choir, humming and making noises. They are also the only one I know of using French horn. The combined effect of this huge mix and diverse instruments is just majestic while recording quality of vocal is not as good but you probably won't care for the kind of upbeat energy it pours in. While anyone would agree they sound amazing in live concert than on recorded media, I still believe Trans-Siberian Orchestra has still maintained its "absolute best" position with me as far as large bands are concerned. Unfortunately Beginning Stages isn't available in surround DVD-Audio format. However their second album Together We Are Heavy is indeed available in incredible crystal clear DVD-A surround format but it is probably half as good :(.

These albums are available on Rhapsody, although not in surround sound.

The Triple Mix

I thought I'd nothing new to listen to but then just brewed up this triplet which nicely works out on these winter days.

  1. A Winter's Solstice VI: A Windham Hill Sampler - A nice classical album. Just by look at the track names like Northern Lights, January Stars, Snow Dance, This Clearness Of Light - you know it's gonna be good :).
  2. The Very Best Of Yanni: Yet another good (if not as great) keyboard fiesta. Nice tracks: Flight Of Fantasy, In The Morning Light, The Mermaid.
  3. Maroon: Surprisingly good for those "missing" times when there is too much to do and absolutely nothing do. This my Barenaked Ladies Firsts which probably one can never get tired of hearing one more time.

Listen As: Random The entire play list is available on Rhapsody.

Barenaked Ladies Live!

Barenaked Ladies will be performing live at New York on 22nd Oct. These guys concerts (there's no female members in the band - for the unawares) are among the most fun live events, so don't delay in getting tickets! Even more, these are the few of rare artists who prefer to perform live and then put the song in a album rather then other way around. I didn't thought they would be doing any tours. Pinch me if I'm still asleep 🙂

Evanescence @ Webster Hall, NYC

Evanescence will be performing live at Webster Hall on 16th Sep in New York City as part of their tour. This is little unusual because even the Webster Hall is kind of the top dance club in the City, I never heard any concerts happening there. But probably thats what makes this cool. Check for tickets and other tour locations. But beaware, tickets are being distributed by the worst ticketing site in the world.