31 October 2006

Sd Kfz 303 Goliath

The Goliath was an expendable remote-controlled tracked demolition charge. Over 4600 examples were produced from 1943. Several versions existed, carrying different loads of explosive charges.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
Lone Tree

A tree drawn using Painter IX on a Wacom pad. Pencils and watercolour. I'm just messing around with the electronic medium. This is a throwaway piece. Experimentation.
"Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chuang Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man."

Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu or Chuang Chou)
A Run down Memory Lane: The Botanic Gardens

Last evening, I went for a run at the Botanic Gardens. The place has undergone a metamorphosis, transforming into a figuratively busy place with polished rock gardens, immaculate pots of bonsai, concrete pebbled walkways, considerably foregoing the Old World charm and tranquility of yesteryear. The run amidst the greenery was pleasant but the Botanic Garden is no longer a familiar refuge of childhood memories. My parents had brought me here daily when I was little. I recall being chased by a monkey which was larger than I was then. I recall years later of a family of fleeing monkeys on Cluny Road, when the monkeys were being put down. This is the march of progress and the destruction of old emotional landscapes.

The objective of this recent upgrade with numerous bus bays and parking lots, tourist information centre, is, of course, that of attracting more tourists. Tragically, in the quest for ever greater number of visitors, probably to meet the performance indicator or benchmark of some senior civil servant, my childhood landmarks became casualties. I'm not leaving Singapore but several of my friends are. Permanently.

Nothing in Singapore will remain untouched. Such is the impermanence of the state of affairs of a technocratic, evolving city-state.

30 October 2006

Rolls-Royce Armoured Car Mark II

The Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars were converted from the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost touring cars and were initially used by the Royal Naval Air Service in 1914. Armed with a single Vickers 0.303" (7.7mm) machine gun, these armoured cars were used successfully for raiding. These successful vehicles served well into the Second World War.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
Singapore Open Gaming IX

Good ol' Ken has announced the next session of the Singapore Open Gaming. Details are as follows:

Date: 18 November 2006
Time: 1pm - 6pm
Venue: Blk 3, Queen's Rd #01-139 (Just off Farrer Road, one level below West Lake Restaurant)
Cost: $2

All are welcomed as usual. Feel free to bring any game!

29 October 2006

AEC Armoured Car Mark II

The AEC Armoured Car Mark II mounted a 6-pounder gun (57mm) and BESA 7.92mm machine gun housed in a 3-men turret, comparing well with contemporary tanks. 627 of all three types were built and these were used in North Africa, Tunisia, Italy and Northwest Europe.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa

28 October 2006

Medium Tank Mark II

The Vickers Medium Mark II tanks entered service with the Royal Armoured Corps in 1926 and were the first post-war fast tanks then. Armed with a 3 pounder gun, 160 of these tanks were in service throughout the interwar period and continued in use as a training vehicle until 1941. Armour protection varied between 8mm to 12mm in thickness.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa

27 October 2006

Forest Path

Pigment Ink. Faber-Castell 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, Rotring 0.2, 0.3. I finished this piece while I had a drink at the NYDC at the Heeren this evening. October 2006.
T-26 Model 1933

The Vickers Six Ton Tank Mark E was highly influential and innovative for its time. Tank designs from the Soviet Union and the USA had incorporated elements of the Vickers export success. The T-26 was a direct derivative of the Vickers Six Ton Tank and was present in great numbers, easily over 12,000, during Operation Barbarossa in 1941. This was the most important type numercially that was available to the Soviets. The T-26, BT-5, BT-7 types formed the bulk of Soviet armour then and were lost in great numbers.

The presence of the T-26s in the Spanish Civil War made a deep impression on its enemies then due to its powerful gun. By 1941, it was obsolete.

The 1931 model of the T-26 was armed with a 37mm gun while the 1933 and 1937 models were armed with a 45mm gun. Armour was 15mm in most aspects. The virtues of the T-26 included easy maintenance and simple design. The shortcomings of the type included low speed and somewhat low technical reliability.

Note the track arrangements and suspension.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa

26 October 2006

M22 Locust

The M22 Locust was an American light tank which was built for an airborne requirement. The M22, armed with a 37mm M6 gun was to have been carried either in a transport aircraft or beneath one. The M22 was never used in combat by American forces because of a lack of suitable transport aircraft or gliders. It was just as well as the M22 would have been a tactical liability if faced with hostile armour.

The British used a handful of them in airborne landings via glider during the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa

24 October 2006

Dungeon Siege 2: Broken World

I finished the expansion to Dungeon Siege 2 a few days back. The premise is simple, it is simply a continuation of Dungeon Siege 2 which had left the plot hanging. 'Broken World' tied up loose ends and resulted in the elimination of the true Dark Lord.

The expansion is divided into three short Acts which requires the protagonist to travel across a familiar 'broken world' after the machinations of the 'ancient Azunite scholar' in manipulating the now dead Valdis.

All in all, this is a satisfying game. It's not too difficult or long, one should not require cheat codes or trainers.

I am taking a look at 'The Fate', 'Blade and Sword' and 'Lionheart' now. The first appears to be Korean in origin while the second is Chinese. We shall see.
Light Tank, M24 Chaffee

The M24 was an American light tank which appeared late in the Second World War due to a desire to produce a standard chassis as the basis of the "Light Combat Team". The M24 supplanted the M5 in late 1944 and became the standard light tank for the US Army for many years after.

Six of these were present at Dien Bien Phu in the climatic French defeat.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa

20 October 2006

The Shadow of the Wind

I started on this Spanish bestseller on a whim at the end of July and didn't finish it until last night. 'The Shadow of the Wind' is a bestselling melodrama in the vein of Dumas' 'Count of Monte Cristo'. What melodrama! Passion, unrequited love, revenge, lost love, secrets, vanishing books, haunted mansions, lost fortunes and more! It's quite a tale. A love story, a mystery.

It took quite a bit before the story really started. Before that it meandered all over with some rather inconsequential subplots.

All in all, not a bad read for a bestseller.

19 October 2006

All is lost save Honour: Campaigns of the Italian Wars 1494-1530

This came in from Italy last night. I took a quick glimpse of the rules. This game will be challenging.

One 22"x34" maps of Northern Italy
360 die-cut counters
Standard rules
Optional Rules
Scenario Instructions for 5 campaigns
Charts, tables

The campaigns featured includes:

- Agnadello 1509, Venice defends its Republic against the foes.
- Novara 1513, the Swiss against the French army. The last triumph of the Swiss.
- Marignano 1515, François I grabs the Duchy of Milan from the Swiss
- Bicocca 1522, the French lose the Duchy of Milan
- Pavia 1525, François I loses the largest battle and Milan to the Empire

The game, of course, focuses on the campaigns of the Italian Wars (and not the individual battles). 'All is lost save honour' utilises a modified system used by most of the Napoleonic OSG games.

Source: Website

18 October 2006

Dungeon Siege II: Broken World

I started on the Dungeon Siege expansion a few days back. The combat is more intense here.

The monsters have more immunities and resistances to more kinds of damage than in the previous game. In fact, certain kinds of damage will heal them! Thus, it is important to have versatility in dealing different kinds of damage.

The expansion introduces two hybrid classes, one of which combines a warrior and a nature mage and the other, an archer and a battle mage. Both new types appear to be rather limited unless one were to spend vast amounts of time building them.

The premise, of course, is a direct continuation of the first one. As usual, the world is 'broken'. Devastated. What has changed? And some powers in this game were tweaked. I have heard that this expansion will require 20 hours to finish it.

This should be great fun.
Dungeon Siege II

I finished Dungeon Siege II a few nights ago. It was an enjoyable experience. I had spent many happy hours slaying monsters and accummulating treasure. Initially, the game had been rather bland and slow but it picked up in Act II and was a lot more involving in Act III.

  • The interface. The interface was great and it allowed easy switches between the four different characters. The inventory system was a pleasure to use, unlike that in 'Sacred'.
  • The class and character design. The warriors or melee types in this game are not as obviously weak as in other games where melee types often function only as 'tanks' or damage absorbing characters. Yes, they still absorb damage and cannot deal damage as much as the other types but they are still effective. The powers tree appeared to be useful and well thought out, like that in Titan Quest.
  • The item design. The items in this game do make a difference in gameplay and I like that. Different combinations will yield significant results which makes tailoring fun.

  • Drab drab drab graphics. One of the most visually unexciting games I have seen in a RPG in a long while. The environment is drab and block-ish. The character design is uninspired. Polygons abound. Sometimes, utilising 3D technology for the sake of technology instead of 'sprites' leaves quite a bit to be desired. Dungeon Siege II may have a fairly advanced engine but in terms of look and feel, Titan Quest, Guild Wars, and even Scared are much much more attractive.
  • Act I. Act I was a linear walk in the jungle with insipid slow-moving monsters. Surely, the entire long Act I cannot be a learning scenario? The game only picked up in Act II and Act III when the story played out.
  • Level design or scene design. Surely, the 'same-ness' and 'blandness' of each area, be it forest or city is visually unexpected. Block-ish trees, one-track areas... This is seriously a let down. As for towns and cities, I have realised that many RPGs including World of Warcraft, Guild Wars these days can only be bothered with one main city or two. I wish the designers and developers would devote more effort into the design of the cities and towns. I recall the large towns and cities of the Ultima series of games with pleasure. I enjoy the huge capital city and the smaller ones in The Elder Scroll: Oblivion.
  • Monster design. Creepy crawlies, froggies, doggies. I mean, c'mon, these are really stale.
  • Main quests are linear. Secondary ones are not. What gives? To go back to an Act I area where monsters are 30 levels lower to get something? Seriously...

  • Specialisation. All RPGs,, whether MMOs or single player now have hybrids character classes. Seriously, hybrids are weak in almost every game including this one. It is important to specialise. Pure classes like mage, healer, warrior, etc are important if one aspires to have balanced characters that are capable of finishing quests, beating end-game bosses and other players.

16 October 2006

Footage of Type 99 MBTs on CCTV4

I don't know if anyone here can receive Chinese CCTV4. Anyway, there is some sort of a soap opera with a military theme that runs on CCTV4 at 7:15 pm every Sunday night (or maybe on a more regular basis, I don't know).

I saw great footage of the latest Chinese Type 99 MBTs, Type 69s moving fast cross country and many other types. There were helicopter gunships, self-propelled howitzers, armoured personnel carriers, trucks and more.

From what I see, a lot of the footage were shot specifically for this programme. Last week, the plot apparently involved a situation where the Type 99 MBTs were trapped and an audacious commander had proposed to use three old Type 69 MBTs to strike across improbable terrain and this was effected. It would appear that the indirect approach* and unorthodox thinking have always been a Chinese concern, even on a TV programme. Shades of Sun Zi?

Last night, a senior character in the programme mentioned a scene from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It cannot be understated how this military classic is embedded in the Chinese national psyche. Militarily, culturally and more.

And yes, there is martial music and hearty singing at the beginning of each programme.

Type 99 (ZTZ-99). The Sino-Defence website has detailed information on the Type 99.

*See Liddell Hart

08 October 2006

Daimler Armoured Car Mark II

The Daimler Armoured Car was one of the best British armoured scout cars of the Second World War. Mounting a 40mm (2-pounder) gun and a co-axial 7.92 Besa machine gun, this 7.5-tonne vehicle first saw action in North Africa in 1941.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa

07 October 2006

SdKfz 265 kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen

Armoured Command Vehicle based on the chassis of the PzKpfw I. Two hundred of these 5.8-tonne vehicles were converted from obsolete PzKpfw I tanks. Not an effective type.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
Stream in the Jungle

Pencil outline of a sketch. Main positioning. The light study will come later. Posted by Picasa
It's crazy. Visibility has dropped to 2 km or less. The air quality is extremely poor tonight. The PSI reading is now 150 at 9:00 pm. I rushed to Borders, picked up two science fiction novels by Ken Macleod. Over electronic mail, Kelvin and Kew Soon have sparked off a renewal of interest in hard SF. I bought novels by Gregory Benford, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter. I shall hide at home and read tonight.

06 October 2006


Is stamp collecting a preserve of the old? I don't collect them but I suspect that this may be a declining hobby due to the advent of electronic mail over the last decade.

05 October 2006

Good Intentions, Bad Information

You know how people with good intentions send chain mails with bad information and then ask their friends to propagate it thinking that they are dispensing good medical or health information? Well, I really wish that they would stop doing that. Here is a recent one I received:

"> >>Drinking cold water after meal = Cancer !> >>> >>For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable> >>to you.> >> It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal.> >> However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you> >>have just> >> consumed.> >> It will slow down the digestion.> >>> >> Once this "sludge" reacted with the acid, it will break down> >>and be> >> absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food.> >> It will line the intestine.> >>> >> Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer.> >> It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.> >>> >>

_________________________________> >>> >>A Serious note about Heart Attacks> >> HEART ATTACK PROCEDURE": (THIS IS NOT A JOKE!)> >>> >> Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to> >>be the> >> left arm hurting.> >> Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line.> >>> >>You may never have the first chest pain duringthe course of a heart> >>attack.> >>> >> Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms.> >>> >>60% of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not> >>wake up.> >>> >> Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep.> >> Let's be careful and be aware.> >> The more we know, the better chance we could survive...> >>> >> A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it> >>to 10> >> people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one life.> >> Read this..... It could save your life!!> >>> >> Let's say it's 6.15 pm and you're driving home .> >>> >> Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that> >>starts to> >> radiate out> >> into your arm and up into your jaw.> >> You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your> >>home.> >> Unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that> >>far.> >> You have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course> >>did not> >> tell you> >> how to perform it on yourself.> >>> >> "HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE":> >>> >>Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack,> >>without help,> >> the person whose heart is beating> >> improperly and who begins to feel faint,> >> has only about 10 seconds left before losing> >>consciousness.> >>However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly> >>and very> >> vigorously.> >> A deep breath should be taken before each cough,> >> deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the> >>chest.> >> A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two> >>seconds> >>without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be> >>beating> >> normally again.> >> Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements> >>squeeze> >> the heart and keep the blood circulating The squeezing pressure> >>on the> >> heart> >> also helps it regain normal rhythm.> >> In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital. Tell> >>as many> >> other people as possible about this.> >> It could save their lives!! "> >>> >> **PLEASE BE A "TRUE" FRIEND> >> AND SEND THIS ARTICLE> >> TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS> >> YOU CARE ABOUT.> >>

I asked His Royal Omniscient Highness about it. From His vast reservoirs of Knowledge, he proclaimed the following:

"the cold water thing is absolutely rubbish!

Heart attack chest pain do go into the left arm, and into your jaw andis sometimes mistaken for acid reflux or heart burn.The coughing and deep breathing thing is kinda true but its wrong in this context. Deep breathing and breath holding is used to slow down some types ofpalpitations (very fast heart beats) and coughing regularly is used tospeed up extremely slow heart rates, but in this context, doing bothwill result in nothing happening!"

Who is this Highness? Doubt His Holiness? Well, His Munificient Royalness is not merely some third rate GP dispensing cough medicine, He is more than that. He knows everything. Actually, he's a specialist.

Oh well, chain letters. It should be obvious enough but in reality, some people don't know better.
Unhealthy McDonald's Milkshakes

His Magnificient Highness once mentioned that the milkshakes at McDonald's are exceptionally bad. As someone who likes thick creamy milkshakes (not that blended thin smoothie rubbish), I was curious. So, I asked him. Here is his reply:

"it has quite a high fat content as they use vegetable oil to make it creamier rather than milk..."

Yikes! OILSHAKES! I think I will stick to Billy Bombers for their milkshakes. Heh.

* Yes, I remember the days when McDonald's had fries dipped in beef tallow (fat) and was absolutely the worst... I don't particularly care for the fries at McDonald's. I think they are sub-standard. I have never understood the hype and hysteria...

04 October 2006

Singapore Open Gaming VIII

Ken is organising the next session:

Date: 14th October 2006
Time: 1pm - 6pm
Venue: Blk 3, Queen's Rd #01-139 (Just off Farrer Road, one level below West Lake Restaurant)
Cost: Nil

It has been extremely successful, attracting between 25 to 30 people per session now!

"To seek what is impossible is madness: and it is impossible that the bad should not do something of this kind."

'The Meditations' Marcus Aurelius, 167 A.D.
A Fusion of the Unholy

It is surprising that a number of Japanese have a penchant for Nazi and German militaria of the Second World War. Like many throughout the world with a unhealthy fascination for Nazi uniforms, badges, regalia, and so forth, in the case of the Japanese, this has been reflected in their popular culture, from toys to anime to manga. (There are many examples, I will name them in future.) And that, of course, brings us to this series of seemingly very well-envisioned and well-made science fiction toys with overtones of Nazi stormtroopers.

These toys are based on Jin Roh (Wolf Brigade), a science fiction anime. Quoting the site:

"A remarkable collaboration between two generations of filmmakers, JIN-ROH marries a hard-hearted script by Mamoru Oshii–the internationally acclaimed maker of GHOST IN THE SHELL–with the vérité direction of Hiroyuki Okiura, assistant to Oshii on GHOST.

An ominous new child of its pedigree, JIN-ROH goes to places beyond GHOST IN THE SHELL. Its protagonist is not another Major Kusanagi, GHOST’s cold and unsatisfied government cyborg looking to ascend to virtual angelhood. Like Kusanagi, JIN-ROH's Constable Kazuki Fuse (said "foo-seh") is a special-forces operative who kills in the name of the law. Like Kusanagi, he doubts the worth of his humanity. But unlike Kusanagi, Fuse is yet a man of flesh and blood, and he still remains human enough to feel cold–to be frightened–and to seek, with quiet desperation, to be absolved.

JIN-ROH's setting is Tokyo–not the Tokyo of the future, but of an alternate past. In the bizarre, ironic tradition of Philip K. Dick’s THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, JIN-ROH presents a Japan that lost a different Second World War–not to America, but to Nazi Germany. Now, more than ten years after the defeat, the occupation troops have left, but their legacy is JIN-ROH’s twilight-zone city where the domestic terrorism of "The Sect" plays out in everyday bombings and street battles against the counterterrorist Capital Police–and their elite armored, helmeted, and red-goggled Special Unit."

Ooooh... I am gagging already...

"The movie JIN-ROH is about those in society who are predators among prey. But these "beasts" never bother to change their shape; like Red Riding Hood’s wolf, they merely drape themselves with human clothes that do not even disguise the eyes, teeth and claws of a killer. Society rightly fears them."

Yeah yeah yeah, a self-important but pedestrian movie with little to recommend. However, that's besides the point, crap movie or otherwise. The toys! Yes, the toys. The anime gave rise to these magnificient toys. The intricate designs of the armoured stormtroopers, the elaborate stylings of German Second World War uniforms and equipment coalesced into a surreal fusion of an alternate future and a horrific past. Just look at them. Look at the no-nonsense, purposeful postures.

These images are from a review of these toys written by Kelvin, a friend who is an authority on toys. Kelvin's words:

I would hesitate to even call those figures real toys because they were only slightly removed from the kits, having the most basic of 12" figure bodies, and non-articulated hands that could barely hold the included MG-34 or MG-42 machine guns (assembly required). Later, Medicom also released the much improved Jin-Roh version, although the base figure was still very limited in poseability, and the armor was permanently attached to the figure.

Kelvin has done an amazing job capturing these images and his arrangements are superb. The MG34 or MG42 are well-modelled. Look at the details of the weapon. The unholy Nazi imagery! The juxtaposition of Nazi imagery upon an imaginery nightmarish Japanese future. It's amazing. Surrealistic, bleak, powerful.

This is the power of symbols and pop culture.

Image source: Courtesy of Kelvin with his kind permission.


There are a lot lot more of these powerful images in Kelvin's review. I urge that you give the review a look.

03 October 2006

I wanted to run last evening but I could smell some sort of burning in the air. These were smoke particles from the jungle fires in Sumatra. The fires are south of Palembang apparently. The skies were a uniform grey, blanketed by a haze from the fires.

It rained this morning. I wonder if the air quality will be better later this evening.

Meanwhile, I retired my old Dell Dimension XPS 133i (Pentium P133 MHz) which has served me faithfully for a decade. A wonderful hardy machine. I have also retired my old P600 machine. The old ABIT BH6 motherboard in that machine finally gave way. I had tinkered with the machine for years, affixing many different video cards, sound cards, HDDs, CPUs. The machine had been an excellent testbed. Oh well.

I will think about getting an Intel Core Duo possibly next year. No real hurry, I don't see many compelling games that require that sort of performance yet.
Novena Square

Just six years ago, the area where the Novena MRT* station stood a sleepy pavilion leading into the station. Today, two towering office towers and a mall stands atop it. How things have changed!

And now, a new extension to the Novena Square mall is being built, effectively doubling the area within the mall!

The area around the junction is now surrounded by tall imposing condominiums.

*Mass Rapid Transit. Singapore's subway system.

02 October 2006

Illustration of Techniques

Well, if anyone in Singapore is interested, I wouldn't mind showing my drawing techniques. However, I don't 'teach' children.

Of course, the venue will only be in town. Heh.

A decade ago, some people (technically not in the civil service) had asked me to teach them and I had tried. The problem wasn't with technique, they can draw fine, it was with imagination and creativity. They couldn't create anything from scratch. They needed something in front of them. Something to copy...
Live concert DVD from Clan of Xymox due!

Woo. Good news. There will be a live DVD of their Paris show recorded early this year in La Locomotive. It's about time.
The Conquerors: Alexander the Great

I received this Richard Berg designed game through the mail over the weekend. This is a card-based game which apparently is not turn-based. Hmm.. The sequence of play is one of phases and segments. Hmm.

1 map of Alexander's world
2 sheets of counters
55 Playing Cards
Player Aid Charts

I really should get down to playing. I have just been reading and reading.
John Foxx

I first heard of John Foxx when I heard the hypnotic but alienating 'Underpass' in a compilation about ten years ago. Subsequently, I discovered a few more John Foxx CDs including the bleak 'Shifting City' at Borders.

After hearing John Foxx's 'Crash and Burn' and 'Assembly', I told myself that I would eventually get more of Foxx's work.

He is an underrated genius. I have been meaning to get more of his albums for years. Seven or eight years later, I decided to buy the rest of Foxx's work on a trip to the UK.

After a few searches in HMV and Virgin Megastores with His Royal Holiness, the Emperor, I found the following:

John Foxx - Cathedral Oceans II
John Foxx - Cathedral Oceans III
John Fox - The Garden
John Foxx - The Golden Section
John Foxx - The Golden Section Tour and the Omnidelic Exotour with Louis Gordon
John Foxx - In Mysterious ways
John Foxx - Metamatic
John Foxx - Modern Art: The best of John Foxx
John Foxx - Tiny Colour Movies
John Foxx & Harold Budd - Translucence + Drift Music
John Foxx & Louis Gordon - The Pleasures of electricity
Ultravox! - Ultravox!
Ultravox! - Ha! Ha! Ha!
Ultravox - Systems of romance

Foxx's work can be divided into the following:

Ambient soundscapes

The first Ultravox! albums are rock with quite a bit of experimentation and some form of early electronics. However, they are mostly art rock albums in essence. Impenetrable lyrics and themes abound. Foxx left Ultravox. (The first two albums were released under Ultravox! in honour of NEU! The subsequent ones dropped the exclamation mark.) Ure joined Ultravox and the rest is ....

Foxx then released the prototypical synthpop album in the early eighties which can be compared favourably to Kraftwerk and Gary Numan. These early works, consisting of four albums, had diverse influences from the Beatles to Italian landscapes to urban decay. Foxx then became a designer and disappeared from the music scene for a decade. He re-surfaced later with 'Shifting City', 'The Pleasures of Electricity' and more with a collaborator, Louis Gordon. The later synthpop work have themes of urban decay, alienation, technology and these compare very favourably with the early four albums. The concert album has great interpretations with new arrangements. Foxx's work are overlooked synthpop masterpieces.

Lastly, Foxx has quite a few ambient works with a filmic feel including 'Tiny Colour Movies', 'Cathedral Oceans' and more. These have Foxx painting broad but light aural strokes on a canvas.

For those who want to get everything from John Foxx, I would recommend that they purchase the CDs from the internet. Try Amazon UK. http://www.amazon.co.uk

It is a lot less expensive than buying them in the stores (HMV, Virgin Music) in London or Amazon USA (unless you have free shipping....)

This entry is written for His Imperial Majesty Emperor Loh (Who laughed at me for missing the John Foxx concert), Eugene, Kelvin, V, Steve, Winnie, Ken, Wei Yi, Anne, Amelia, Corrinne, June, and a few other friends...

01 October 2006

Enigma 'A Posteriori'

1. Eppur Si Muove
2. Feel Me Heaven
3. Dreaming Of Andromeda
4. Dancing With Mephisto
5. Northern Lights
6. Invisible Love
7. Message From IO
8. Hello And Welcome
9. 20,000 Miles Over The Sea
10. Sitting On The Moon
11. The Alchemist
12. Goodbye Milky Way

Michael Cretu's latest concoction does not hark back to the previous Enigma releases except for the sampling of a few signature sounds at the beginning and also in certain track segments. Otherwise, gone are the usual samples of Georgorian chants and sensual female vocals in this largely instrumental release. Instead, that is replaced by club friendly beats, akin to that of DJ Tiesto or Paul Oakenfold though somewhat sparser in feel. Does this evoke a feel of space? Surely, one cannot compare the orchestral works such as that of Holst's 'The Planets' or the electronic ambience of Tangerine Dream's 'Phaedra' as being more apt as the vacuum of space is devoid of sound, unless one were to decide not to discount x-rays and other forms of cosmic radiation... The perception of Cretu's creation will largely be dependent on the individual's cultural and mental make-up.

The lead off single is 'Hello and Welcome' which was said to be written as an opening theme for a boxer in a recent match. True? I don't know. If this were an opening theme, it would be a languid piece, relaxed and interspersed with sampled guitars? Perhaps if someone can enlighten me.

The main thrust of 'A Posteriori' will appear to be that a cosmic theme, for instance, the eventual collision of the Milky Way and the Andromeda in five billion years or that of viewing the earth from the moon and more. The feel is that of a languid ambience with no obvious pop singles. Subtle? In a sense. A work, perhaps, for the late hours of the night.