Thursday, November 30, 2017

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away

Well, here's another hot steaming platter of newly recorded experimental noise, and the sixth and final Gauntlet post for November, 2017.

This vaguely anti-Marxist trance-like industrial track, "Veritas - Part II (Eisenhower Imperatives Mix)" is the latest release in the BandCamp hosted 391 & the Army of Astraea Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away program.

As I mentioned last time, "Veritas" is a three-part opus that was originally conceived as a diverse multi-part work that clocked in at well over twenty minutes.

Part II is the main body of the theme and the "polemic" section of the piece. Otherwise instrumental, it features audio samples culled from a public domain speech by former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Please enjoy.

Till next time.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away

Well here we are at the end of another month and it seems that I've recorded quite a bit of unbridled noise for the "391 & the Army of Astraea's" BandCamp hosted Give-Away program.

This particular upload will be the first of in a series of three-parts, and is based on kind of an elaborate endeavor that included some experimental forays into two mobile music creation apps I was previously unfamiliar with - Soundcamp and Thumb Jam. While I originally thought I might just review the functionality of these sort of apps as a new feature on the Gauntlet, I instead ended up creating a rather lengthy piece (well over twenty minutes) with their assistance, and then edited it down into three shorter, and seemingly divergent parts, timing out at four, six and just under seven minutes in length.

I've titled the entire piece "Veritas", and as politics always does seem to find a way to creep into art in some fashion, the second section does relay some basic "truths" relating to our current culture war through speech samples of former US president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Today's upload, Part One, features Soundcamp's digital reel-to-reel setup, which I used to simulate an old school "head echo" experiment that features manipulated feedback and human voice (my own). It is essentially the "intro" section of the piece.

As always, enjoy, and don't forget to check back for more releases in this series. Till next time.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Gauntlet Thanksgiving

I've been very ill with an extremely monstrous ear infection for the last week or so, and I must say that this has really incapacitated me in my ability to engage at all with social media, make any kind of art, or even communicate with fellow human beings.

Regardless, I'd like take this opportunity to wish every Gauntlerian out there a Happy Thanksgiving (obviously for those of you who are American and celebrate the festivities) and I vow that I will soon enough pull back from the recent slew of "creative only" uploads and crank out some cutting political rants that I know many of you visit this page for.

Fortunately, the abundance of primarily (except Roy Moore, that is) Democrat-fueled sexual harassment cases have led to a well-timed general media frenzy that merely highlights my life-long belief that all politicians, by their nature and proclivity, are just the narcissistic power-hungry wretches we for the most part all suspect them of being in the first place.

But onto today's holiday photo upload.

As has become part of my quarterly regime, I thought I'd drop a few seasonal pics I snapped here and there, and share them with you just prior to the more dreary weather, expected snow storms and the like.

Backyard white-tail deer and the last flowering begonias should do the trick.

So, please do enjoy the holiday. Try not to brow beat your leftist relatives (too much) over turkey, and if your eggnog has one part too much of brandy in it, make sure that you let someone else drive.

Till next time.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

From the Writers Studio: The Walking Dead - A Hope Machine

On the occasion of The Walking Dead's eighth season and 100th episode, I thought it might be nice for the Gauntlet to take a look back at one of our favorite shows; the writing thereof, and contrast it to other televised series of similar sorts.

Let me start by saying that, for me, The Walking Dead sets the bar very high. In that I mean, it accomplishes, once again for me, the sense of urgency that very few shows do now-a-days. In the age of on-demand streaming, internet surfing, and box-set binge watching, it is really quite rare that one eagerly waits to watch each new episode of a series on first air date and time. But such is the power of The Walking Dead for its fans.

Obviously if you were never a devotee, or if you lost interest somewhere along the way (let's assume the middle of season two), you might be asking yourself, "Ugh, who the hell cares about a dumb zombie show anyway?" But in that question lies the cause of the shows insanely high popularity level, because I contest that the show, on an emotional, and metaphoric level, has scant little to do with zombies at all.

Psychologically, The Walking Dead does perhaps the best job of any series, ever, in making the viewer feel that he or she is right there beside the main characters. When Rick and Glen march down an alley, you are the third person right beside them, and you can almost hear your voice commenting along theirs, "Hey, guys, I'm not so sure about this alley, I think there might be a bunch of zombies ahead."

This entre to, or rather, this remote inclusion into, what I call "the ensemble catharsis paradigm" of the show, means that the viewer by extension is rooting for themselves to succeed in the daunting post-apocalyptic world presented in The Walking Dead, hand-in-hand with the characters they have developed an affection for.

In stark, or maybe not so stark, contrast to this well-thought out, or evolving emotional paradigm, is another hugely successful cable franchise - the medieval-style sword and sorcery fantasy world of Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones, in comparison to The Walking Dead, is intentionally meant to place the watcher in the capacity of an abstract third person viewer of the "game". This is not to say that Game of Thrones is not well-thought out, or that hardcore GOT fans do not feel the same strong affections for their favorite characters as those who enjoy TWD, but merely that as a viewer, your "transfer" involvement is pretty much uncalled for. Akin to the role of the typical dispassionate third-person omniscent narrator in an epic fantasy novel, events in Game of Thrones are meant to be digested as a passive "overhead" viewer, gleaning catharsis in the traditional manner, rather than in an interactive fashion.

Likewise, the reality in which Game of Thrones characters live is terminally flawed. Regardless of class, race, gender, or location, the world of GOT is pessimistic, perverse, and for lack of a better description, populated by evil. Regardless of who wins the "game", this reality is still thoroughly repugnant. There are those who will defend it as "apropos historically", but it is frankly far from it. Game of Thrones is clearly set on another planet, with landmasses and languages unlike any on earth. George Martin's haphazard take on feudalism, fails miserably at conveying the actual state of historical feudal societies and the protections and responsibilities implicit in the noble-vassal relationship.

On the contrary, TWD is by far the most "realistic" show on-air, excluding the fact that, hey, zombies don't actually exist. TWD is also a "hope generator". The invested viewer consciously knows that not every one of their beloved characters will make it to the end, but we imagine that one day the zombie plague will cease to exist, some good people will survive, and they will rebuild society. Hey, maybe it will even be a better society than the series proposes we have lost in the wake of the virus.

Human beings generally define their reality by a "misery to pleasure ratio", and for a banal example of this, when we open the refrigerator, we take account for items we might be running out of, not the opposite. The suicide rate in Hitler's Germany at the peak of their success in WWII was quite high, while documented instances of suicides in the mechanized death camps was rarely recorded. Strife makes us strive to correct ills, success makes us complacent and prone to narcissism.

Individual characters within The Walking Dead universe are only judged by two criteria - one, their ability to survive, and two, how they manage to do so without losing their souls and human decency. Unlike many other franchises, GOT included, the latter criteria is rarely considered, and once again highlights the fact that the sadism and depravity displayed on the show are merely embedded there for the remote prurient titillation of the fan base. This moral subjectivity within the inclusion catharsis of the show is part of its beauty and part of what sets it apart, even from its less "on the money" counterpart, Fear the Walking Dead.

So, if it isn't clear by now, the Gauntlet fully supports TWD without reservation, and if you don't, and can tolerate the occasional gore, I suggest you get your binge watch on and marathon it out through the first seven seasons and get up to speed with season eight. Truly, the hope machine seems to have much more to offer, with hopefully the end nowhere near in sight.

Till next time.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

From the Writer's Studio: "Isolation Room"

Welcome back all.

Obviously this post and the previous were originally planned to not follow one another in such close proximity, but as the Nevekari Enterprises short film release for the month of November, you can understand why our "Halloween" release, "The Dark Wood", and our AT&T Create-a-thon NYC submission, "Isolation Room" follow so close on each other's heels.

The Create-a-thon, was for me, a mode of networking, and maybe even more so, a means to challenge ourselves to produce a film in less than eight hours, and with very limited resources. The goal was to shoot the film entirely on Saturday October 28th, pull an all-niter editing, and submit it to the contest by 2:00 PM Sunday. Thankfully, I had just finished editing The Dark Wood that Thursday, and my partner Kevin and I had quickly written the script for Isolation Room that same day. So, we peddled our way downtown to the Create-a-thon Friday evening with script in hand as a possible fit for quick production.

After pitching the idea on stage to the other Create-a-thon attendees, we eventually gathered a great group together who fell into their roles, with Brittaney Check corralling everyone with her magic powers of Line Production. Travis Becker came aboard as Director of Photography, though I think he and I originally intended to hand off the camera throughout. As it panned out, I was much happier serving as Director alongside Kevin. Aside from Brittaney, Keven Almanzar, Desiree Frieson (who locked down the shoot location), Nikki Donell, Kelvin Hernandez, and Samuel Gauthier came aboard as the rest of the cast. The latter two had almost no experience, but I think did a pretty damn good job regardless.

To save time in scoring the piece we used some music provided cost free for the contest by Pond 5, but I also placed a couple of 391 & the Army of Astraea tracks in the mix, one of the early "Give-Away" tracks, "The Aeon", and "Ghost" - an unreleased horror-themed outing that I co-created with my daughter.

We wrapped before 9:00 PM Saturday and finished post-production Sunday morning around 12:45, rushing to make the 2:00 PM deadline. The version I've uploaded below has since undergone further editing, but mostly in the sound arena.

Sadly, we did not win the contest, but in retrospect this was based on our misunderstanding of what the judges wanted. You see, we were under the illusion that this was a Halloween specific contest, and as such we intended to create a horror / suspense short, which Isolation Room is. However, speaking for myself (and no one else on the team), it seems that AT&T is much more interested in cultivating an image as a promoter of Social Justice issues. The dialog in the film does present one oblique "pro" second amendment reference, so I imagine the judges might not have cared for that. But alas, such is the state of our current political climate where virtue-signalling partisanship can so easily dictate art - particularly from ideologues and dogmatists on the failing Marxist left. We can only hope that they will all look back one day and reel in utter embarrassment for their cock-eyed authoritarianism, but, probably not. Sigh!

Anyway, I think Isolation Room came out swell for our first live action film in this new phase of Nevekari Enterprises' existence. What do you think?

Oh, and P.S., please don't forget to subscribe to the Nevekari Enterprises YouTube Channel, and give it a like if you feel so driven. And stay tuned for an upcoming "The Making of Isolation Room" reel that is scheduled for released some time in January 2018.

Till next time.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

From the Writer's Studio: "The Dark Wood"

The Gauntlet is extremely pleased to announce the upload of the most recent Nevekari Enterprises short film project "The Dark Wood". Initially envisioned as a Halloween submission to the "Creepy Pasta" on-line horror / urban legend community, it has veered off course somewhat, and has become slightly more cinematic in nature.

The story itself is a nine or so page outing that tells the tale of a young man's peculiar "relationship" with a stretch of mysterious wood that lays just behind his family's home. Laced with existential observations and, in retrospect, some interesting dimensional perspective shifts, I think the film came out (both thematically and visually) pretty much the way I envisioned it when I first started writing it.

The narration was performed by actress Dannah Basgall, who I think did quite a good job, and if this doesn't demystify the project completely for anyone, the woodland footage presented in the film was shot in three different locations in both New York and Michigan with our Canon EOS C500 and with Rokinon lens. Aside from the environmental elements, the score is a another 391 & the Army of Astraea electronic sound scape. It is very nuanced and quiet at times, but also I think very creepy, and even beautiful in sections.

So, even if you don't celebrate Halloween, or you've already lost interest since it's November the first, I highly recommend that you lower the lights and cuddle up to your laptop like it's a roaring fireplace in a lonely country cabin and watch "The Dark Wood" while sipping  cup of coffee or cocoa, or eggnog. I think you might enjoy it. But remember, "Everyone knew to avoid the Dark Wood..."

Till next time.