where are they now, Russian edition

Well, I honestly don’t know what happened to the instrumentalists, but Nikolay Noskov is still damn big here in Russia. He long stopped playing this sort of VanHagar-lite rock, but he’s still one of the best male singers in our pop scene.

Gorky Park’s second singer, actually their bassist Alexandr “Marshal” Minkov, was never half as good, and when GP fell apart some time in the late 1990s/early 2000s, lost any and all musical credibility very quickly.

// yes Noskov’s solo stuff is musically way less interesting than Gorky Park even (imagine that!!), but as compared to the utter garbage Marshal plays these days, Noskov is amazing //

But damn, Stare was a fun song. Don’t expect me to make any sense of the lyrics, though =D



you’d better believe him

Mike Howe covering Priest’s Killing Machine. I do realise that it must’ve been one of those tracks he cut his teeth on, back then in his home town with his first cover band. And yet.

There are a few other interesting performances in this video as well. Even Stet Howland, who’s thankfully alive (no thanks to the WASP fandom and his ex-employer), plays a couple of tunes.

One thing I noticed about these 70K jam series over the years is that the ladies of symphonic metal (and “metal”) are quite confident. For instance, here Capri of Amberian Dawn doesn’t seem to be anyhow intimidated by the misfortune of going onstage after Mr Howe (if you ask me, I’d rather jump off the boat instead). And she’s not afraid to sing a Maiden classic in her pop rock style. Dressed the way she is. All the while – I’m pretty sure – knowing that she’d get the sort of comments she got already (check out the youtube page of this vid; sad but true ™). And yet, she went and delivered.

That, o dear readers, takes ballz.

// yes performing dressed the way MH is dressed here also takes ballz, but that’s not the point //

synths do not progmetal make, o Arjen

This is a preview of that mega Ayreon DVD. The chances of me ever getting it are damn slim because no store I know of sells DVDs as digital downloads and I do not buy physical media unless I’m attending a gig… but that’s not really relevant.

What matters is that the editors made a very annoying mistake several times in a row.

Okay I get it, Hansi messed up something in the chorus and they decided to fix it by turning the backing vox up to eleven. Good. Smart.

But why would the video editor ever cut to Hansi then, right at the very moment when you can’t hear anything but the backing vox? It’s just so jarring, so disconcerting. When editing lives, you cut to whoever matters sonically at a given moment. You try to make it a natural experience, and we bipedal unfeathered look at the source of the sound that dominates. At least, that’s the way all good lives I’ve seen in my life were done.

That’s the biggest complaint. It just screams incompetence. Arrrrgh EXTERMINATE.

Complaint no. 2 is the mix overall. It’s uneven; it’s plastic. But I can let it slide because let’s face it, most metal (and “metal”) mixes over the last twenty+ years have been meh. For understandable reasons. Shame, but good sound engineers don’t grow on trees.

Complaint no. 3: it’s third place because it’s been expected. The music itself. I have said it before, I’m anything but a fan of Ayreon. Lucassen has never been a lyricist of the caliber that would impress me; and musically, Ayreon is just very emphatically not.metal. It’s pop music. Hard rock at most. No virtuosity would ever change that. It’s not a problem per se, y’know; but it’s a problem when it gets marketed as “metal”. “Prog metal”, to boot.

Most prog metal is, of course, not even remotely truly progressive; it’s all same old same old chromatic guitar noodling and showy synth runs. Like the ones featured here. But at least prog metal is trying to be “uncommercial” by flirting with unconventional harmonies, experimenting with rhythm, borrowing riffs from thrash and death…

Nothing of the sort here. This music is saccharine. Probably it’s exactly the reason why it’s so popular. Outside of the clever “all star singer cast” marketing.

See, I wouldn’t be talking about this if it weren’t for people like Hansi, Floor and Maggy.

Complaint no. 4: a real petty and silly one, but hey. Suppressing emotions is bad for your (my!) health. So I’m venting. Maggy’s hairstyle. WHAT WAS THAT?! WHY?!?!?!

But hey. At least all these awesome people got to know each other. I truly hope this event sparked some new friendships. If it did, then it’s the only thing that really matters.

fans waiting for the orchestral album…

…having fun with classical interpretations.

and the original, for the uninitiated:

// the wait for “the” album is about twenty years old; I actually understand all the whys, and yet, it’s a bit funny to think about //

You know, on the surface it’s easy to think of BG as exclusively writing in the “European tradition”, kinda classical diluted with folk (or the other way around, depending on your particular preference in classical), but listening to their stuff transplanted into another medium opens up the fact just how much jazz they have in there. Even without every other chord being some sort of a 7. I started hearing it on BtRM with tracks like Distant Memories which are kinda minimalist and not that electric, but unholy hell, it’s been there all the way. Probably because they started out as a speed metal band, and speed did crosspollinate with thrash which is inherently jazzy, a genuine product of US culture and all? Wild theories because I just never saw an interview where any of the two main songwriters were to confess their secret love for jazz.

PS Sorry for the production. I am painfully aware that BG post-Nightfall are hard to listen to sans major remastering.

this erm product offends me on so many levels…


…I don’t even know where to start.

Religious feelings? Check. I mean, metal is a religion, just ask around; DAZ are just lucky these scenes barely overlap. Or they wouldn’t be able to get away with all the profanation they are being able to get away with.

Feminism? No explanation required.

And this sort of meh floodfill texturing toooootally requires proudly mentioning Substance Painter. Laughable.

Yeah if any random DAZ fanboi is reading this, I can totally hear their “sour grapes” kinda thoughts. Well, anyone has the right to entertain whatever opinions they chose to blind themselves with.

I’m just lucky I never made that mistake that so many “published artists” did, solely relying on selling hobbyist 3D content for a living, and consequently never had to (pardon the {b; p}athos) prostitute my art.

PS Anyone else as annoyed as me with this “saving of draft failed” message MAJORLY getting in the way whenever connection is lost? Honest, I tried to find if I could turn it off and failed.


nasty feminist convictions getting in the way

So I felt like checking out Ardour – since it’s that Big Open-Source DAW and you can get it almost for free if you’re on Windows (and for free if you’re on Linux AFAIK).

The UI is ugly as hell (all Fashionably Dark ™; when is this fad going to end?!), but there’s always hope for reskinning. Either way.

The website is best used with an account; okay; and then I click around and find this:

… Ardour development is driven primarily by the interests of just a few people. Development is a full time job for the lead developer, who also raises a three kids, fixes up his house, has friends and even a relationship with a gorgeous woman.

Source: https://ardour.org/support_expectations.html

I don’t know. Maybe I’m the only person in the world who gets majorly disappointed at seeing that. Maybe it’s a perfectly normal human way to describe their relationships, referring to the looks of their partner as THE definitive trait.


But this has killed all my enthusiasm for now. Maybe I’ll wind down and go back. Maybe.


orthodox Christmas tonight

And I’m outlining the things to be dealt with in 2018.

I have my priorities. Sacred duties, if you wish. 2017 saw an extraordinary number of releases by the artists I follow. Hopefully I’ll be able to entice some of you to check them out.

Then, 3D and tangentially related stuff. I owe everyone a post about why I next to left deviantart (this will be of a TL;DR variety, beware). I owe everyone a couple of Dawn/Dusk fix morphs. I owe a few select people an updated build of my 3Delight raytracing kit (with lots of neat stuff and hopefully no new bugs).

Oh, and if anyone here’s playing that Android thing called Hidden City… =D

G3F shapes and smiles

All those late autumn and early winter sales that include giveaways often lead to new characters in my DS runtime. Which I diligently try to put to some use when I have free time.

So, how do I test characters? I try and make them smile. It’s a multi-dial expression, not a stock full-face one. And yet.

// disregard the shading artefacts on the hair, that was a combined pwSurface2 test //


So apparently Arabella 7 the vampire lady has lip implants.

And the other ladies have some lip elasticity issues as well (not showing the most scary results here):

Vickie 7

Well, that’s annoying. Thankfully, Genesis 3 has these “expression bones”. As I have already ranted about, these bones make no sense in terms of anatomy, but at least they’re a thing. So I tried scaling some of them to approximate stuff happening to lips during an actual smile (back to the Arabella shape):


Not exactly a perfect solution, but a step in the right direction.

I actually hope that Genesis 8 has better out-of-the-box functionality in that regard. I don’t yet have any official G8 characters, but I have a couple of custom morphs from the store. When I next have some time, I’ll check the situation.