Monday, March 03, 2008

Links for Today

  • Buffer Overflow has been elected on a shortlist along with 78 other blogs to compete in the Best Romanian Blog section of RoBlogFest 2008 awards. Unlike in the similar section which is open to public voting, the winner in this one will be elected by a jury. This is a decisive step forward in turning RoBlogFest into something more than a popularity contest with the remark that there is a lack of visibility over the jury's evaluation criteria. Thanks a bunch for the nomination and good luck to me:)
  • Via Greg Mankiw, a very interesting article in the New York Times about the mechanism of informational cascades which contributed to the housing bubble and led experts into failing to anticipate it - although I cannot imagine experts being completely unaware of the phenomenon.
  • Senator John McCain scores some good points on NAFTA (check out this video on YouTube recorded before the Iowa primaries) unlike Barack Obama. At least the guy is trying to be reasonable, some loose their jobs because of free trade but the overall benefits of buying foreign-made goods at a lower price is much more important and the loss of jobs can be balanced through training and education for the local needs. He also found a new line of attack on Obama which links NAFTA to Canada's military support in Afghanistan, very nice move Mr. McCain (via Greg Mankiw).
  • Transylvanian Black Metal will be represented at this year's Wacken Open Air festival by Negura Bunget from Timisoara. They will also be playing at the Summer Breeze festival which I attended last year. Kudos guys, very nice achievement. Although I'm not exactly up to date with their latest albums - from 2000 onwards - I am still seduced by their first release in 1996 under the name of Negura Bunget, Zîrnindu-să. It was mind blowing! I remember I was like "Where do these guys come from?" the first time I listened to the tape. The album is a masterpiece of classic Black Metal, fast paced drumming, raw guitars, foggy corpse painted figures roaming on the misty hill tops of Transylvania, barely listenable poor production and on top of that cryptic lyrics written in a difficultly comprehensible form of old (maybe middle-aged) Romanian language. As a kid the overall feeling I got from listening to this album was the revival of a long lost form of Romanian pagan culture which once extended beyond the grim boundaries of those years' nationalistic and religious orthodox exuberance. I guess it's not that far from the excitement of a Norwegian kid when listening for the first time to Darkthrone or Mayhem, but my gateway into Black Metal was Negura Bunget. Today Negura Bunget's artistic expression has evolved into a much more articulate form of esoteric mysticism which makes them far less appealing even if their music still preserves some raw Black Metal elements. When people take these things too seriously they suddenly loose all their fun. Nonetheless, Zîrnindu-să remains a landmark album in the Romanian Black Metal scene, so I encourage you to listen the keyboard enhanced version of Dupre Reci Imbre on the band's MySpace page. I'm anxious to seeing them at Wacken.
  • Another excellent news coming from the 2008 Wacken Open Air festival is the participation of the godfathers of Progressive (Death) Metal, Cynic. There's no better review than that on Satan Stole My Teddybear which reflects what the band's only album, Focus (1993), stands for in the Metal world : "To call this act 'technical' would be a cruel understatement; Focus sounds like three Dream Theater discs playing simultaneously, if John Petrucci had six arms and a four-neck guitar (okay that's not entirely fair - Cynic have TWO guitars). There are polyrhythms and time-changes shooting about everywhere, stabilized by a healthy jazz/fusion influence and an obvious understanding on how to blend these clashing styles into a coherent intellectual trip even the musical layman can appreciate". So here is the Cynic classic How Could I from a live performance from 2007 (in front of a rather small crowd) and also the brand new Evolutionary Sleeper which has the full potential of turning the Metal world upside down once again. Kudos to Paul Masvidal on guitars and Sean Reinert on drums. Update : This is the brutal one, Uroboric Forms, and the intricate one, Textures.