Saturday, February 16, 2008

Gandurile Metalheadului eclectic inainte de a vedea Rambo

Absenta unei indentitati transilvane reprezinta prima piedica in imaginarea Transilvaniei ca parte dintr-o Romanie federala sau ca stat independent. Prima observatie critica : de ce Transilvania in sine ar exista ca si regiune delimitata admnistrativ sau ca un stat independent, de ce nu coboram la un nivel de segmentare suplimentar, Ardeal, Secuime, Banat etc. E o observatie perfect pertinenta, totul depinde de nivelul de granularitate al definitiei de identitate regionala, iar in momentul in care in Romania va exista intr-adevar un curent puternic al identitatii regionale - si aici nu ma rezum doar la Transilvania, la fel se poate vorbi despre Moldova, Muntenia, Oltenia etc. - vom vedea unde se stabilesc barierele. Deci il iau mai degaraba ca pe un exercitiu intelectual. Paradoxal imi pare faptul ca Transilvania are o imagine puternica peste tot inafara Transilvaniei (culturally biased or not, nu toti se uita la Dracula) dar daca ar fi sa ne punem - "sa sedem" ca in bancurile cu taranii ardeleni - sa o desenam ne-ar lipsi pana si creioanele. Maghiarii din Transilvania au o identitate puternica si lor le-ar fi cel mai usor. Romanilor le-ar fi mult mai greu, apartenenta la statul roman depaseste identitar apartenenta la Transilvania, chiar lansez pe aceasta cale un challange tuturor celor care pot sa descrie concret in ce fel identitatea lor regionala prevaleaza in fata identitatii "statale". Sau ca sa ramanem la lucruri de baza, un challenge mai simplu, de a defini identitatea lor regionala transilvana (sau orice fel de diviziune subregionala gasesc). Din pacate nu am suficient de multi cititori ca sa provoc vîltori identitare - desi mi-ar placea - dar contez pe putinii mei cititori hardcore ca vor purta mesajul mai departe. Chiar, ce gasiti transilvan la voi? Spit it out! Pe Sorin il astept primul sa raspunda pentru ca el are si un tricou:)

In ceea ce ma priveste Doamna mea mi l-a soptit intr-o seara si cred ca are dreptate. Mitteleuropa. Conceptul transgreseaza foarte elegant diferentele etnice dar nu exclude deloc o mai mare granularitate administrativa decat pur si simplu Transilvania.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An Ecclectic Metalhead's Thoughts on Valentine's Day

A significant part of Europe seems seduced by Barack Obama and it's quite easy to see why, because Hillary Clinton isn't delivering as well as he does. The key word here is seduction, that's where the Obama power lies. With Mitt Romney out of the race I guess my choice goes towards John McCain. I might sound cynical, but abortion ban, gay rights and religious conservatism are overrated topics in this election campaign since there is plenty of lobbying around this issues in society on a daily basis and this regardless of the political orientation of the U.S. president. Instead there is a disproportionate lack of lobbying in favor of free market and free trade. As far as foreign policy is concerned - and particularly Iran - McCain fits me most : "form an alliance with European countries to put economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran". But both Democrats and Republicans fail the test on immigration, the huge costs of strengthening the borders are easily imaginable, but what about the benefits. From zero to none.

Why Dark Passion Play, the latest Nightwish album, is among the best Metal albums of 2007 ? For a starter, Anette Olzon is far from being the main factor. If you want the long answer you should read this piece on If you want the short one, here it is : composition and heaviness. Not everything on this album is gold, it becomes self indulgent at times and makes you want to fast forward to the next song. But the symbiotic combination of a full symphonic orchestra with heavy downtuned guitars unleashing themselves into devastatingly fast and melodic pieces creates little gems of what Symphonic Metal should sound like. Kudos to Tuomas Holopainen, the main songwriter of the band, for achieving such a performance. The implication of bass player Marko Hietala into the songwriting process must also count for something, not to mention the use of his excellent voice on a much larger scale than on any previous Nightwish album. For a quick preview of Marko's vocal talent here is the song Pyre of Gods from his other band, Tarot. In support to what I was saying until now here is the excellent The Poet and the Pendulum (part 1 and part 2) from the latest Nightwish.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Two Links for Today

  • Greg Mankiw points to a very interesting article in the New York Times on measuring the gap between rich and poor. While the difference in households income is indeed huge (15 to 1), the consumption per person in the top fifth is only 2.1 times bigger than in the bottom fifth. What I make out of it is that the money saving capacity could be a better measure of the poverty rate than the classic income based one.
  • Another good piece on the Microsoft bid for Yahoo! in this week's issue of The Economist magazine, When clouds collide. I think the discussion is too centered on online search and advertising - in a way it's only normal since that's where the big money is - and it misses other important topics like web based e-mail, instant messaging or photo-sharing (Flickr is owned by Yahoo!) where the new Microsoft-Yahoo! giant would largely be the market leader.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dig This. Slayer at the Grammy Awards.

Via Blabbermouth, Slayer won the Grammy award for the Best Metal Performance this Sunday with Final Six, a bonus track from their latest album Christ Illusion. The list of nominees was interesting : Machine Head with the superb piece of modern Metal Aesthetics of Hate (this would have been my choice for the winner), the classic King Diamond with Never Ending Hill and two metalcore acts, As I Lay Dying with the impressive Nothing Left and Shadows Fall with Redemption.

Here's a sequence on YouTube with Tom Araya receiving the award and some pictures from backstage - my first sight of a metalhead in a shiny business suit. The most remarkable thing about Slayer's song walk to fame is in the following passage from the Blabbermouth article (see below). This prize might actually be an important mainstream acknowledgment that things change massively in the music listening universe - which wouldn't have been the case if either Machine Head or As I Lay Dying would have won - we'll see if the industry follows.

(PS : Before going further, remember that God listens...)

The track made its debut last July as the "Single of the Week" on MySpace where it has since accumulated some 750,000 plays, an astounding number for a song that received no commercial airplay.

"This is awesome," Araya stated backstage. "I guess we're part of the industry now, above ground. None of those tunnel diggings anymore. No, this is our second win actually. It's kind of exciting. We've been fortunate to have been around this long with no radio play. We've gotten support from satellite radio recently, MTV gave us minimal support, but it's all on word of mouth and people liking what we do and passing it on to their friends. We owe a lot of our success to our fans. The industry is great, but the fans are the ones that take the time to look you up to see what you're doing, wait for the record to come out and buy it so..."