Music Review: Tool – Lateralus (2001) – Part 3

AmpersandQuest

When I review albums of music I want to provide as much useful information as possible while also providing my own unique perspective on the album. Below my commentary will be a series of links for more information, lyrics, the band’s website, and a link to purchase the album. Please support the artist you enjoy!

 

Tool_-_Lateralus

Part 1 of Review Click Here!

Part 2 of Review Click Here!

 

                      Track #10 -Disposition-

This is perhaps the most relaxing, cool sounding, and mellow Tool song ever written. I believe all the members of Tool must have been in a very spiritual hippie kind of place in life when they created this song and wanted to explore a new style of music. This can be risky for any band but Tool pulls it off very well. It’s placement in the album comes after the bright, colorful, and loud Lateralus theme song but it doesn’t feel like it’s here for the sole purpose of breaking up the album or just to set the stage for the remainder of the album. It does all of that and more for me personally. This song comes across as a message of contentedness, acceptance, and a desire to keep learning and experiencing new things. There is an emphasis in the music on more natural sounds especially with Danny Carey’s hand drumming performance. Maynard’s lyrics are simple yet beautifully sung with a focus on nature, the weather, and communication. Adam Jones’ guitar work is 100% pure atmosphere creation with heavy bends and cool sound effects. Justin Chancellor mirrors Jones’ guitar work on his bass giving the track a bellowing and thick foundation to stand on.

As you listen to the song try to imagine how it feels to be with family or good friends at a picnic, camping, or hiking. I really love putting this track on after I’m done running too cool off while I walk myself and my heart rate back down to earth. This song makes me feel very grounded and willing to accept what nature hands me. It also makes me want to reach out to others and share my experiences with the one’s I love. Normally when Tool does a track to break up the album and set up new ground for the next songs it is usually something simple, short, and consist of strange sound effects. As I said, this track certainly has all of that but is a fully functional and critical song to this album. I strongly feel that without this really unique Tool track Lateralus simply would not hold the weight it does. I can show this song to almost anyone and they will typically enjoy it. It’s been a great way to break the ice with someone who might have never given Tool a chance. I have a sister who listens to mostly country or pop radio music told me she never imagined a band like Tool would ever move her in a way that inspire her because of this very song. I believe that is a compliment to the artist rather than a knock or a way to say “they sold out”. It’s the fact that such a unique and wonderfully performed prog/rock song from a band as aggressive and bright as Tool can reach across genres and musical taste to reach out and touch a stranger really sticks out to me. To me this song seems to celebrate the idea of reaching out and trying new things with other people makes it all the more perfect.

When the song reaches its end don’t react yet. Just focus on what you’re hearing. Listen to the guitar and bass fading and the drum stick bouncing off the head.  Listen to the whirring background and empty your mind. Prepare for the beginning of the next track because you’re in for a big time treat. Just when you think the album could be running out of gas you are presented with an even more unique, incredibly deep, and complex song that is going to be a great challenge to review as I have so much to say about it.

                     Track #11 -Reflection-

I am going to have to be really careful not to write an entire book about this song. I have a lot to say about it because it has a lot to say to all of us.  Let’s just dive right in though and start swimming. I hope you really paid attention to the end of the previous track Disposition and how it bleed right through into the beginning of this song. Danny Carey has always prided himself and his skill. He doesn’t seem like an arrogant man but he is definitely one of the most confident drummers I have ever heard. The main reason I speak so highly of Danny Carey when top drummers list are being discussed is mostly because of how truly unique he plays. I will always appreciate and admire a more rigid and technical approach to music. Staying inside the lines so to speak is part of the art form of playing music. Mastering classic techniques and showing proficiency with them will always be impressive and Danny Carey certainly is impressive in that aspect when looking at drumming. That said, the real reason I am such a big fan of Danny Carey is just how far outside the lines he can draw yet still keep it all together without it feeling like a drug fueled drum solo.  The performance by Danny throughout this song is absolutely bullet proof and inspires me to no end. At times it sounds as if there are actually two drummers playing a duet instead of just one extremely talented man. Absolutely brilliant drumming.

By the time the bass is introduced you’ve already been experiencing a very dark, tribal, and atmospheric drumming performance. The introduction of the bass only amplifies this feeling. This is another case where the simplicity of the actual playing is not as impressive as how it was composed into the song. It makes the song feel really trippy and weird and I love it. Synth work is also introduced and adds more depth to the song making it feel almost sluggish in contrast to the incredible drumming going on.  Adam Jones guitar work sounds very eerie and creepy which fits perfect with the rest of the band. Still though, Danny Carey’s drumming stands out and almost seems to be in command of everything. It feels as if no music can take place or be added without Danny’s permission. And that’s when we get our first ghostly listen of Maynard’s singing.

This song more than the rest of the album needs to be read. Please find the song here and study it. “Lateralus Lyrics Link” This is going to be incredibly difficult to keep short but I will do my best not to bog you down here. This is a song all about you. It’s not to feed your ego however so don’t even go there. Instead try to imagine what it feels like to make a mistake but not just any mistake. The kind of mistake you can’t make up for. The guilt, shame, and indignity that comes with making those kinds of mistakes are unique because while it might seem painful and difficult it’s really a chance for you to take responsibility for yourself and own your actions. I often find it’s a means by which I get to know myself better especially as I grow older and stop blaming others for my problems.  I often find that running away from this often leads to even more severe consequences down the road so in essence failing to recognize your failures will result ultimately in even more dramatic failures in the future as you keep avoiding what ever problems are plaguing you.

The beginning of this song is so dark and makes me feel isolated and I am fairly certain that this is exactly what the artist wanted us to feel. Maynard’s voice sounds so desperate, whining, and small underneath the big giant behemoth of the instrumental. To me, the singing is the narrative of the story while the instrumental aspects of any song is the foreground and background of the narrative. Applying that idea here means to me that Maynard plays the roll of a person who’s been over whelmed with the world around them and that the instrumental music is the world around them. In this case a very dark and brooding world where fear and confusion dominate the emotional fortitude of the main character.

As the song progresses there seems to be small sparks of intuition and inspiration with our main character. I get the feeling the artist are subtly inviting us to face our problems, grit your teeth, and keep a stiff upper lip as you move on to conquer your problems.  What I love about this song in particular is how often my emotions change throughout the song. We’re used to this with all music as we follow familiar patterns of chorus and verse and interchanging them in order to elicit a certain emotion towards one thing or another. This song is no different except they seemed to composed it all in a way that seems to wax and wane between positive and negative emotions so often that I always seem to get lost in the music and start to really think about my life. It’s a wonderfully strange feeling because I am deeply impressed that a song could make me focus so damn hard on myself. It’s not an angry focus but more like healthy criticism.

This song also wants to remind us that we are not alone in our day-to-day suffering and struggle. This small consideration seems small until it turns into incredible inspiration. There is verse in this song that to me symbolizes what it means when people say “we are not alone”.  I don’t like to paste lyrics into my writing but I really want to now because I’m worried you won’t read the lyrics for yourself but if you’re a fan of music and you’re reading this please try your best to love this song after multiple times listening and after having read the lyrics.

The ending of this song last a couple of minutes as the musicians really take their time to put a strong emphasis about the urgency of living life to its fullest as often as you can while you’re still here. There is a message that repeats and drives the point home as the rest of the band really push themselves to deliver a perfect ending to this epic song that also lends itself to the next and last musical track on the album. To me the end of this album is like a trilogy of songs meant simply to be very different from anything you’ve ever heard before. That said, this particular track stands out the most. It’s just so very good especially if you’ve taken the time to really look into the lyrics after you’ve enjoyed the song a few times. I never read the lyrics to songs until after I’ve heard the music several times and I can’t stress enough how much more this song comes to life once you really dig into the lyrics.

Enjoy this song folks. Before you pine away.

 

 

Track #12 -Triad-

As you leave the ambiance of Reflection and enter into this song you might notice a steep and exponentially more aggressive theme beginning to pulse in the background.  My friends if you like flat-out rock and roll meant to make you start banging your head this is to me one of the most ultimate head banging anthems to come out of the new millennium.  The focus on this song is strictly on rocking as hard as you can while you have time to do it. This is the spirit of rock and roll and a bit of heavy metal incarnate in the form of four amazing musicians capping one of the great works off with an amazing instrumental opus meant to please the gods of rock.

I always imagined this is what an ancient tribe of musicians would sound like if they had access to modern instruments and technology. It’s easy for me to imagine a rain dance going on in the back ground or a rite of passage ceremony.  There is something so familiar and comforting in the aggressive tribal drum beats being granted to us from above by Danny “The Lion Fucker” Carey. The guitar work is once again nothing extremely technical but some how Adam Jones is able to make it sound ridiculously awesome I believe in large part once again to the talent of Danny Carey. Adam’s guitar playing just so happens to be a perfect accent to Danny’s drumming sound. That said, we do get some really cool sounding guitar solo’s in the track as well.

Justin Chancellor’s bass work is present and definitely adds a very crunchy and very round sound to the whole song. I always liked Justin’s work because of how percussive his playing seems to be. Like Adam he is the perfect accent to Danny’s drumming making it even more thunderous than it already is. There are no lyrics to this song but when I saw this song performed live Maynard James Keenan was playing a guitar and also played with a keyboard. There was also another percussionist playing some sort of tenor tama drums. It made this already really epic song even more incredible and I’ll never forget it. I believe it was the second to last song they played and the stage was ablaze with amazing artwork, incredible visual effects, intense video packages, and of course amazing musicians performing amazing music.

What we have here then is a song best listened to when you’re with a bunch of buddies doing something awesome together or if you’re by yourself you should get up and move a little bit to the music. It’s meant to be rocked out to by cool people who appreciate good rock and roll music. This song really makes me feel more connected to other Tool fans almost as if it’s our tribal war song that we all want to mosh to.  In the end that’s what this album feels like to me. I big long epic voyage with interesting twist and turns all capped off by an exclamation point.

Track #13 -Faaip De Oiad-

One of the most creepy bits of audio I’ve ever heard. It’s a track meant to catch you off guard as it’s tucked away and could be easily missed. It’s a combination of a conspiracy theory radio show getting a call about Area 51 aliens taking over the planet and eerie sound effects done by someone combined to make what feels like a horror radio show. If you ever want to creep someone out play this while they’re asleep and wake them up, tell them it’s on the radio right now and all over the TV!

This has become quite a lengthy article so I have decided to break it up in three parts. Be sure to visit the previous two articles if you haven’t already! 

 

Lateralus Wikipedia Link :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralus

Tool Website: http://www.toolband.com/

Lateralus Lyrics Link:  https://www.toolband.com/album/lyrics/lateralus.html

Don’t forget that if you want to listen to the album, please, for the love of all that is right and just in the world. Buy the songs or the album.

Music Review: Kyuss Blues for the Kyuss Fan; Devil’s Advocate (Part 2 of 3)

I have thought about this particular case a lot since it’s happened. I know one of the reasons why is because I just absolutely love Kyuss’ music. Anything that tarnishes the awesome music they produced makes me feel a bit angry at those responsible and I have an emotional reaction to it. This part of the 3 part article is to install a sense of contrast. Perhaps I am wrong for feeling the way I do in some ways and I believe in challenging yourself in order to understand yourself better. To know why you feel the way you feel and to learn whether or not your initial reaction to a situation is a factually correct reaction to have. This case, as a whole, provides a lot of very important lessons one can use in other areas of life and for that reason, I chose to go into great detail and write a blog entry about the case in order to both share the story and also hopefully grow my understanding of ideas like “intellectual property”.

When this case first hit the web, my initial reaction was to throw my anger towards Josh Homme and Scott Reeder. That anger has the potential to be misappropriated because as Josh and Scott point out, Brandt and John filed papers as well, to claim ownership over the name sake Kyuss. This goes against my idea of intellectual property as well so why should I just be angry with Josh and Scott? After thinking about this further I’ve discovered I now feel quite differently about everything that happened. I find myself dividing that initial frustration unto Brandt and John as well. Why do they all believe that they should own Kyuss? Don’t they remember the excitement that came with writing and performing those songs? Has their successes and failures in life lead them to forget what it was like to be a fan of your favorite rock and roll band? Is it no longer about the fun, joy, and challenge of creating something special with their given talents in order to embrace the cold confines of financial security and ownership of ideas? Looking at the picture below, it makes me realize that at one time all these guys were friends, band mates, and colleagues. Somewhere along the line, something must have happened between them that lead to all this. That said, maybe, just maybe, something else can happen to lead to another fully fleshed out Kyuss project down the road. Though I’m not getting my hopes up.

Perhaps then there is an alternative way for someone like myself to view such a tragic situation such as this. I don’t have to like that Kyuss is no longer going to ever exist or perform any of their classics or create anything new for audiences to enjoy and pay for. It’s all about the money to all of these men when it comes to Kyuss it seems. Though I did appreciate being able to see Kyuss Lives! for the last time and I appreciate the effort of continuing Kyuss by Brandt and John I find I must place some blame on them as well for not trying to work harder with Josh and Scott on finding a private resolution to this situation. While I still disagree with Josh and Scott’s lawsuit, I can say now that I understand why they did what they did. I just wish everyone involved could have found an agreement and not ruined one of the greatest unknown 90’s hidden gem of a band that has inspired me for quite a long time now.

What’s done is done however, the past is the past for a reason. From here on, I will find myself enjoying Kyuss for the epic band they were, the songs for the classics they are, and also all of these musicians career’s as they continue to write their stories with Vista Chino and Queens of the Stoneage.  I must admit though that my frustration with Josh and Scott lead me to pre-maturely boycott the release of Queens of the Stoneage’s …Like Clockwork. Perhaps it is time for me to let the past be the past and press play on the present so that I can enjoy what I know will be a quality effort from Josh Homme with Queens of the Stoneage.

So, at the end of my frustration with this story, I find myself fine with the squabble between the former band mates. I see now that it is their failure to find an agreement that lead to this situation, not that my ideals are failed. I keep thinking back to Wizards of the Coast and their Dungeons and Dragons character. They must have heard about this story by now and still, no news of a major lawsuit against any one of the former members of Kyuss for reaping the rewards of being in a band with the name of a character which they indeed created for their monetary interest. Perhaps then there still are good people who just love to have a good time, share ideas freely, and let each other benefit from one another without putting up barriers and walls to divide ourselves from one another. The Devil’s Advocate has failed to persuade me that I had everything all wrong. That I should just forget about my principles, that the right things happened here, and that I am just being too critical or overly sensitive. Obviously, music and art mean much more to me than the average person. These things have an obvious and much welcome impact on my life and I am not ashamed to admit that. That is why I cared so much about this case.

Now that I feel I’ve explained this as much as I possibly could in two parts, it is time to do the review of the album. The next part of this series is going to focus specifically and only on the album Blues for the Red Sun by Kyuss. There will but no mention of any of this behind the scenes drama and will be strictly about the albums qualities and why I love it so much. I hope that by the time you read this article in full you would have already listened to the entire album and understand why it is a tragedy that Kyuss can no longer exist no matter what anyone says or thinks or feels.

And now, Blues for the Red Sun

Please come back for the 3rd and final installment! 

Pinnaclism Part 3: Humanism & Transhumanism Summary

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This post is to summarize my last two post on the subject. I wanted to focus on the positive aspects of both concepts, but also emphasize some of the clashes between the two ideologies. I honestly believe these differences will be settled peacefully and to the benefit of all. While this may sound way outside the box for many, I believe there are enough people out there who can see the technological singularity happening at some point, perhaps in my life time even. So even if you are not convinced of this now, I still feel like these ideas can benefit you because of the core principles that Pinnaclism itself brings with it. I will continue to write more about Pinnaclism. I just wanted to study this futurist dynamic under the scope of a philosophy I thought up on my own. If you find these ideas interesting, please let me know by commenting below or sending me a message. Enjoy!

 

Far removed from typical conversation with others, the ideas presented in today’s article are vast and complex in nature and I am not claiming a level of high proficiency in either are of research, I however do have questions, concerns, and inspiration to gain from both sets of ideas. I know there are passionate followers of both ideologies out there so while I respect your positions completely and even embrace some of them, I also want to offer any criticism that may help further both our understanding. The approaching singularity promises to bring about dramatic changes to the very existence of mankind in the universe, not just here on planet earth. Thinking about trans-humanism requires you to challenge many of your beliefs about reality and will even lead you to understanding some of the basic laws of nature in a brand new way.

Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.
—”The Coming Technological Singularity” by Vernor Vinge, 1993

 

If Vernor Vinge is correct, we are only 10 years from technological singularity. As humanist, do you have strict reservations to this idea? Trans-humanism after all is the relocating of the human mind and natural life force into a new genetic and technological chimera of humanity that takes on the form of humanity and rises into the cosmos. That’s what I think of when I think of trans-humanism.  That is, perhaps, just my desire to see humanity rise above it’s current problems and finally reach into the universe. A desire to see with my own eyes the universe that surrounds me and be able to understand larger portions of it in powerful and meaningful ways. Long have many of us dreamed of one day being able to orbit earth. Imagine yourself being able to live in an artificial body and being able to produce space craft and exploring what is not yet known about the universe. However, I feel it is only fair to bring up what I asked in the beginning of this paragraph. What would a humanist say about this ideology. What are their moral standards and where do they draw the line on any of these issues?

Personally, I take the idea with a grain of salt. While I do want to be able to do as described, I want to be sure that’s actually what we get when we hit the singularity. If it means giving birth to a tyrannical A.I. that’s soul purpose is to control us, then all I need to know is how trans-humanist are thinking along those lines. Will trans-humanist society be completely voluntary? If so, what does self defense look when considering the increased strength, speed, intelligence, and over all upgrade in mind and body? Will we have independent monitoring programs that you can volunteer to the public if you choose? Is there a way to hack around any privacy measures one may employ? Are we going to use metal framed human skeletons, or are we going to become genetic X-Men who can morph into whatever we please? It’s not the idea that we can do it that I have reservations on, in fact, I encourage anyone who wants to try to be the first trans-human to go for it. My reservations are reservations I believe will exist in even the most ardent of trans-humans will have to face as a real challenge once making the leap. I want them to be thinking about this now and hope that they are so that the project is successful and fully implemented.

Will aggression in human kind be eliminated by becoming a trans-human? Or will it only enrich it and foster it into a new realm of cruelty and despair for those less fortunate? Will the desire to be controlled be introduced into the population via upload? Perhaps it’s even more sinister and looks more like The Matrix film where humanity is farmed for energy and is kept in a comatose state connected to a central AI program that keeps them trapped inside a lie.  While I know many trans-humanist advocates may read this and feel that I am being paranoid, discouraging, or disparaging. I am asking them to stop for a moment and recognize the many problems humanity has proven it has over the years. While I know the past is the past, it does allow one to know and understand what humanity is capable of doing with a strictly humanist mind, body, and over all spirit. I am not discouraging the research into trans-humanism. What I am attempting to do is ask those in the community of trans-humanism to open up to the world about their plans so that we the people can ride right alongside the development of this technology so that we can learn what’s being done to help ensure the safety of this technology.

“Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.” – Kurt Vonnegut 

My view of Humanism means you’ve already embraced the fact that you will die and that you are morally okay with this fact. To me, it means you will not hold others accountable for this fact and will treat them with the same respect you desire to be treated with. It means that you are more than happy to provide your best to the world and help improve the standard of living of all life around you, including trans-humans, who may be looked upon with harsh criticism. Being humanist in a trans-human world means you are the most free a human being could ever hope to be. Free from the injustices when ruled over by violence criminals who’s lust for power caused mass chaos and violence of the beginning of the singularity. Humanism is the wisdom in ensuring trans-humanist society is one based off non-aggression, peace, prosperity, and the well being of all life.  While there are dangers in any new technology, I believe humanity is capable of achieving this goal of technological singularity in peace. However, I do recognize there are significant challenges laying in wait before this comes to reality. Whatever the choice, I believe we will reach a pinnacle in society where peace, freedom, prosperity, and the well being of life is perfected.

Thank You for Reading! Please share, comment, contact me, or simply like the article if you choose.

I am eager to hear feedback from others!

Scott D. Vogler

Finding Liberty in Music

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 “Let me be clear, to those who would use copyright law as a weapon to drown innovation and stifle competition, you will be left on the side of the road of history.” – Kim DotCom

This is something close to my and millions if not billions of people on planet earth. Even if people don’t realize it, when they are enjoying music, they are enjoying tons of liberty. It’s fascinating to me to consider all that had to go in to the producing of a piece of music. It may seem mundane to the casual observer to consider how much we depend on our individual freedom, but especially when creating a piece of art which will be used to communicate an idea that you personally can’t put to words alone. I think the obvious freedom when it comes to music is the ability to speak freely, share ideas, and spread knowledge without violent interruption.

Whether it is rap, rock, country, or any other music, the ability to go into a studio, create content, and then distribute that content without violent intervention is neccesary to uphold any semblance of freedom in music. The very idea of intervention being brought into the equation threatens the very essence of creativity and art in general, so I will examine why someone might want to stop certain thoughts from being presented in even subtle ways.

If for example someone wants to go to war with someone else, but there are a lot of songs that have become very popular that espouse peaceful and cooperative means to find solutions, perhaps that makes selling the idea that we should go to war a little more difficult. Maybe someone wants to create songs specifically to foster in ideas about peace, liberty, and prosperity and find themselves in opposition to those who enforce the copyright laws that prohibit them from expressing ideas that the enforcers say they own. It is painfully obvious to see how creativity can be stifled and that there are specific reasons one sites as reasons to intervene. I certainly hope that humanity will flourish past these ideas of ownership of ideas and mount a far superior idea of free and open output of ideas.

It is my hope that the musicians of today going forward will use their liberty to express themselves in deep and rich ways that will help move those around them towards more productivity, more freedom, more peace, less war, less violence, less government intervention. Which ever genre you relate to most, whether you prefer an more deliberate and in your face approach or a more mysterious and subtle approach, please remember how powerful it is to be able to express yourself in such a way that takes more than just words to say. The fact that no one will get in your way should be felt and celebrated in your music and should foster more of the same from those who listen to you. There are examples of music being stifled in the past, I will not forget those incidents where it was deemed neccesary to censor or otherwise intervene in the creative process, which leads to the output of information in the form of music.

And now for some silly lyrics for your enjoyment. 

“Freedom isn’t free, it cost a buck-o-five and if you don’t pitch in who will?!” 

From Team America: World Police