mellotron, music

The Haunting of the Smiths

Like everyone else in the world, I've recently been captivated by the amazing vocals of Janice Whaley, so much so that I absolutely had to get a copy of her version of Meat is Murder.

For those that have missed what she's up to, Janice is the artist behind The Smiths Project. Not only is she trying to create a cover of every Smiths song by the end of the year, she's doing it entirely a capella with just her own voice layered several times over to produce the harmonies.

I dread to think how long it must take to produce each song, let alone the entire catalogue, but the result is absolutely haunting.

The Smith's 1985 album Meat is Murder was there only UK number one, but it didn't sound quite like this. With each track Whaley manages to retain much of the original character of the songs whilst giving them a completely new life of their own.

Every track brings something different from her voice. However, the real highlights have to be "How Soon is Now?" (not actually on the UK version of the original) and "Barbarism Begins at Home" which really show off the range of sounds she can achieve, and "Meat is Murder" which shows her at her most haunting.

All the tracks in the project are being made available for a limited number of free downloads and after that are available via the Smiths Project page on bandcamp. As a taste, here's her version of How Soon is Now:

(Direct Link)

and for comparison here's the original.
kitsch, gimics

How To Wind-Up An Astronomer

The internet is filled with almost any product imaginable.

This means that when you suddenly realise that what you need to make your life complete is a little hand-painted wind-up jumping model of Carl Sagan, Clockwork Carl is there available with a few clicks of the mouse.

Just to make all your lives complete, have a short video clip of Carl in action:

(Direct Link)

computer, internet, blogging

The Surreal Works of Google Scribespeare

So google have come up with Google Scribe (via venta), a tool whereby you type in some text and it starts suggesting the next words for you.

The question is then what to use it for...

The answer is feed it Shakespeare of course. Take a speech, feed in the first few words of each sentence and then keep pressing enter letting it play Cheddar Gorge with the rest until you reach a good point to stop.

Hey presto, the seven ages of man:

All the world's a stage, and the payment method selected by you for the abuse report to the Board of Directors
They have their own unique style of music;
And one man in the world of the living room and dining room,
His acts being seven ages.
At first the infant is not a valid stream resource in C minor for Piano
And then the whining school-boy days ago by J. A. Jance is the best way to get around them and they are nothing but a hoax and a scare tactic
And then the lover of their dreams and goals into account the fact that they are not therefore to be understood
Then a soldier came to the conclusion that the only way to get a good deal of the day and night to make sure that the following conditions are met
And then the justice system and the other is a new and improved version of the Macromedia Flash Player to view this video in a new window in your browser
The sixth age shifts Into the lean and obese subjects with and without the need for a new account or login
Last scene of all time and the user has to do with the fact that the two are not the only one who can not afford to pay for the cost of the project

Have a productive Friday...
sausage, education, grange hill

Introducing More Pointless Pieces of Paper

Michael Gove wants baccalaureate qualification for England

The "English bac" would not replace GCSEs, but would be a certificate to reward pupils who pass at least five of the exams, at grade C or above, including English, maths, one science, one foreign language and one humanity. "If you get five GCSEs in those areas, I think you should be entitled to special recognition," Gove said.

So, what's the point of that then? What will it achieve?

When I was choosing my GCSEs, I had to do Maths, Science, English, a Foreign Language and a Humanity, everyone in the school did. A quick check on the Directgov website confirms it still works like that.

Having got those at grade C or above, I can easily tell people I've got them, and I have the GCSE certificates to prove it, so why would I need another piece of paper?

I'm all in favour of Baccalaureate style qualifications, but this seems to miss the point somewhat.
mellotron, music

Twang and Click

Being at a folk festival with an injury playing up I suddenly found myself avoiding the dance workshops and heading to the music ones instead.

Having never really learnt anything musical (I've played around with the whistle and melodeon a bit and can get some vague tunes out of both, but that's about it), this was guaranteed to be interesting. As a result I've come away from Whitby with a Jew's Harp and 2 pairs of bones (being a vegetarian I obviously have wooden bones).

Anyway, just to make you all reach for your earplugs. Here's a recording of a group of us who'd been going along to the Wright families workshops at Whitby playing Jew's Harp in the final showcase at the end of the week:

(Direct Link)

Given it's a piece of music including me playing (although there were plenty of others to drown me out), it sounds surprisingly unbad.
wine, corkscrew

Taking Recycling To The Extreme

So spirits can basically be made from any fermentable material, and as a result you can find them made from all sorts of weird and wonderful things. However, this one is a new one on me:

Gilpin Family Whisky (via inhabitat) a spirit produced from the finest diabetic's urine.

Alas, I suspect I shall not be able to make the show that this is being presented at.