Amoeblog

All That Biodigital Jazz, Man

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 30, 2010 10:55am | Post a Comment
tron arcade game legacy disney upright set
I remember the first time I caught sight of the glowing, blacklit neon appeal of TRON. The boxy upright console outshone the others in my hometown Putt-Putt arcade and I couldn't help desiring to bask in its purple hazed portal though I'd always considered Centipede to be my one and only love. Let's be honest, playing TRON was about as exciting as the saccharin in a can of Tab, no matter how romanced I was by that Starlight Express meets Pinball Wizard of a design story. It's a silly game popularized a silly movie and it seems the good folks down at Disney completely understand that. TRON may never be taken seriously for its dramatic narrative and that's exactly right-on, but it is bursting with cinematic content. For me, re-viewing the 1982 classic TRON flick and the recently reimagineered TRON: Legacy was pure pop Sci-Fi pleasure the likes of which anyone this side of the Logan's Run Carousel knows better than to over-analyze.

Anyway, what better way to punctuate sweet freedom of another semester completed and celebrate the spirit of the season than seeing TRON: Legacy in IMAX 3D over Christmas vacation? Disney's new take on the ambitious yet sketchy Rotoscoped, post modern, science-fantasy arcade-gaming jam delivers a not very smart but sometimes clever cross-section of tired sci-fi/fantasy genre clichés, slickly redesigned to diamond-cut, mind-blowing visual perfection, ever flying the promotional gaming flag and still driven (literally!) by a pre-Lebowski albeit CG'd Jeff Bridges (which raises questions about the ethical treatment of dead actors' imminent bodies of possible future work) as well as the more popular (and less obviously plasti-complexioned) post "Dude" Jeff Bridges. Aesthetically, TRON went from this: 
tron original 1982 jeff bridges color design story set cinematography
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy
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to this:
tron legacy castor party sequence sexy costume disney
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tron legacy disney movie film lovers
tron legacy disney movie dinner scene design furnishings white weird
...clunky helmet no longer required. I really love the visual shift in the application of a primary color scheme from TRON's UV tinged, patent eighties neons to the updated laser red, tungsten yellow and halogen blue as they appear both on and off their respective renderings of "the grid," not to mention the thrilling, hi-tech hard edge TRON: Legacy has over the crappy vectorgraphic "effects" dealt by its predecessor. However, TRON: Legacy does manage to shovel its fair share of shit: what's with that queeny Castor character and his, or should I say HER, swishy hardly-head-of-security counterpart? Accommodating the Brits-as-villains Star Wars stereotype much? Castor's little ditty and dance act should be cast out. And how about all that easy, cheesy dialogue? I swear some of those lines were straight up lifted from the Matrix --- is that why this film wasn't made ten years ago? And while I'm not buying so much the Neo/Jesus/Skywalker/Solo vibe of Kevin Flynn's son (played by Garrett Hedlund), Sam, I am totally vibing on Jeff Bridges' Obi Wan/God/Gandalf "zen thing" update of his completely timelapsed character, under the influence of a heavy dose of his Dudeness (Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing). I mean, really, if Bridges hadn't had his prior engagement with the brothers Coen, TRON: Legacy would probably only have its visual wizardry going for it and zero characters for folks like me to latch on to. Besides, I was more than ready to settle in and enjoy the ride after that opening sequence: Bridges' voice, speaking over Daft Punk's excellent score of electronic minimalism meets classical orchestration --- incorporating Wendy Carlos' original TRON soundtrack in a fitting homage --- urging us to think of a time when computers seemed more magical than mechanical and menacing, the inevitability of A.I. more a willing dream than nightmarish catastrophe. "The Grid," he recalls: "A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they move through the computer. What did they look like? Ships? Motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see. And then, one day, I got in."

The Cure Celebrate 20 Years of Disintegration

Posted by Aaron Detroit, June 16, 2010 05:45pm | Post a Comment

“[On
Disintegration] they thought I was being 'willfully obscure', which was an actual quote from the letter [received from the band’s label at the time, Elektra]. Ever since then I’ve realized that record companies don't have a fucking clue what The Cure does and what The Cure means."
- Robert Smith, from the book Never Enough: The Story of the Cure by Jeff Apter

Twenty (and some change) years later we know that The Cure’s label bosses were indeed wrong; Disintegration is celebrating its 20th anniversary (a year late actually – the album was released in May 1989) with the release of a remastered 3-CD deluxe edition and remastered 2LP. Today, the album remains in the unique position of being both widely considered the group’s masterpiece among fans as well as their most commercially successful LP (containing their biggest US hit, “Love Song," which peaked at #2 on the Billboard chart).

There haven’t been a multitude of complaints over the years about the mastering of the album, so no surprise here that the main disc is just a bit louder than the original. The real appeal of the 3-CD set is the bonus material…and there is a lot of it! The second disc of rarities is compiled by Robert Smith himself (who was the only original member left in the band by the time Disintegration was released --Lol Tolhurst having been booted by group consensus before its completion) and is largely made up of his instrumental home demos and band rehearsals for the album. It seems like a superfan-only venture with these lo-fi takes sans vocals, but these tracks reveal themselves to be a cohesive and seamless vision even in their infancy; The vocal-free band demo for the title track reveals an even more urgent forward flow than the album cut, with drops of synth gently shimmering in an ocean of flanged-out bass. “Esten,” a previously unissued demo of a never-before-released song (of which there are 4 here), is a bit more lively and feral than its siblings that eventually found a home on the album, perhaps a bit more like their 'willfully poppy' tracks from the Head on the Door-era. The absolute stand-out from the Rarities disc, however, is a solo home demo by Smith covering Wendy Waldman’s “Pirate Ships.” It is a gorgeous lilting sea shanty-like lullaby with ocean sound effects, harmonium and a lovely understated vocal from Smith. With the refrain of “Far away/Far away child,” the track could be culled from one of the several rumored-but-never-surfaced children’s albums Smith has allegedly recorded.

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