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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Saving My Face

The Mużika Mod Ieħor 2007 Listeners' Picks poll is open for your votes. In the first couple of days since we launched it, it has already attracted a good number of people. Although I'll be very pleased if we get over 200 people voting on this poll, I'm secretly hoping that we can come close to the seemingly impossible 1000 unique user mark.

James Attard has developed an exclusive application for Facebook to ensure that voting is done in a way that's much more fair and visible than what we had last year in the first attempt at holding this annual poll. Any compliments about the technical aspects and how well this Facebook app works should go directly to James. I take full responsibility for anything else...especially the titles included (or not) on the lists in each category. The final results, of course, are up to you and the other MMI podcast listeners. So please make sure to invite all your Facebook friends to vote too.

It gives me great satisfaction to say that the MMI 2007 poll does not involve some convoluted jury nor is there any money making scheme from SMS voting. Taking full advantage of the power of the Internet we've placed the emphasis on the people who really matter to any musician: the listeners, or, to call them by their proper name, the fans. If you're a Facebook user you can vote. That's it. No gimmicks, no scams.

There are five categories this year. 'Online Music Videos' joins 'Albums', 'Singles + EPS', 'Internet Releases', and the 'Maltese Based Overseas' categories. James has also provided links for each of the video as they currently appear on YouTube.

The total number of titles nominated this year is 112, with 26 albums, 22 online releases, 19 overseas-based, 13 videos, and 32 singles/EPs. Nominations were gathered between September 14 and November 26, based mostly on tracks played on my weekly podcasts. However, I have also included several recommendations by my podcast listeners.

Have you voted yet?

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

In A Moment

Starting on Monday, listeners of my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast will be able to vote for their top picks from the 2007 Maltese music releases. This year, the voting will take place on Facebook. White Crimson bassist James Attard has developed an exclusive Facebook application for the MMI 2007 poll. Voting through Facebook enables us to take into consideration a technical issue that bothered us last year, with regards to controlling multiple votes from the same person/s. This year it's one vote per category for every registered Facebook user. This should minimize, if not eliminate, unfair multiple voting.

The 92nd podcast in the MMI series opens with another track from Jewls Verse's album Taking It Easy. This time I've selected Fallen Angel, which is truly a highlight on this collection by Lino Busuttil, aka Ozzylino. I've already featured two tracks from this album on the series and it is indeed one of the best 2007 CD releases from Malta. Whether my listeners agree or not is still to be seen as the voting progresses.

I'm pleased to report that Mystic Diversions have released a new album. I'm particularly interested in this Italian band since the Aidan Zammit here is the same Aidan Zammit Lupi that many who follow the Maltese music scene know and love so well. The new album is called Wave a Little Light. From this album you can hear one of Aidan's compositions on this week's podcast; it is entitled Soledad Sensual. Naturally, this album is nominated on the 2007 MMI Listeners' Picks in the Overseas-based Maltese musicians category.

I don't always manage to get copies of all the CDs released in Malta. Many musicians and singers are kind enough to send me a copy of their releases though the postal service. I'm very grateful to them. One new CD I'd really like to get my hands on is Niki Gravino's new album The Politics of Doublebeds, due to be released at the end of this month. I heard a track from it on his MySpace page, but for this week's podcast I chose to play Fingers one of the three tracks on his 2004 EP Vitamins & Eye Cream. The new album is nominated for the 2007 MMI Listeners' Picks poll, even though I haven't heard it. That's a rare occurrence but there are some things we know are worthy, no matter what. Franco Tartaglia plays guitar in Niki Gravino's band, and as Tartaglia is already nominated on the 2007 MMI poll for his tracks on MySpace there's surely no harm in having him indirectly nominated again for Gravino's album.

Looking into 2008 there are several new album releases in the pipeline. One of them comes from a band called Colourblind. This band has been around for about 10 years but the upcoming album is their first full-length CD. Any band that sticks together for so long is worth a listen, and you can do this through Paper Planes the closing track on this week's podcast.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

How Soon is Now?

Earlier this week I attended a symposium at the University of Salford's Think Lab entitled New Performance Paradigms: New Languages. I was invited to present my most recent research on Second Life along with several other performance scholars and practitioners. Together we form a research network that's involved in facilitating a new language to study and discuss contemporary performance. Mary Oliver and her team at the School of Media, Music and Performance at the University of Salford did a magnificent job in putting together the day's proceedings.

I was very impressed by the facilities at the Think Lab The Pod at Salford's Think Lab(pictured here). This place is quite conducive for this sort of activity. To be honest, when I first stepped into the Think Pod I felt like stepping into the future. It's a great feeling. I hadn't felt that way since the first time I visited HIVE at the University in Hull or MARS in Italy.

Aside from the academic gathering, this event gave me the opportunity to spend a couple of nights in Manchester's city centre. I must admit that I found it nicer than I expected. It feels like a city in renaissance and, as cities go, one I wouldn't mind visiting over and over to partake in its vibrant activities.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

From the Morning

My weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is a personal time piece and calendar. It marks the weekend for me. It also marks the time of the year, especially towards the last few months of the year when I start preparing a list of nominations for the Listeners' Picks. The list is almost finalized and it will be released within the next week or two.

This week's podcast in the 91st in the series. It opens with Song for You from new band Uncharted. The recording captures some of the raw qualities this band undoubtedly exhibits during their gigs. Apparently it was recorded by former band member Cyprian Cassar, who was recently featured on MMI within his DJ duo Tanishia and their Everything But the Girl remix. Incidentally, there's also a YouTube video to go with this debut release from Uncharted.

The rest of the acts that I've picked for this week's podcast have already appeared on previous editions in this series. The first is Brian James who recently released an EP on the Belgian label Aesthetik Records entitled Micromekanik. From it I've picked a track called Flambe in Paradise and the EP goes onto the list of nominations for the 2007 MMI Listeners' Picks.

The next track is from The Vagabond Project, Gavin Borg's current incarnation, which first appeared on the MMI series just a few months ago. What merits a reappearance so soon is the fact that Shine is now available as a download for pay on Facebook. To my knowledge, this is the first Maltese download you can buy through Facebook. If there are others, especially predating this one, please let me know. Otherwise, take this as one for the Maltese record books thanks to Gavin.

MySpace continues to be the main source for new music on the MMI podcast series. A few days ago I was very pleased to receive a friend request for a new page from Hagen Ebejer, whose work I had previously included on MMI. He appears to be in the process of releasing a new collection of ambient tracks under the title Endless Stories. There's nothing official from Pinkpube about this yet, so I'm not sure whether it'll be a Pinkpube release. In any case, as MySpace tracks they're still eligible for a Listeners' Picks nomination. As so it shall be.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

You Can Make Me Dance, Sing, Or Anything

Something I found out about today made me want to post a quick blog entry to mention it along with something else I should have blogged about a few days ago. I was amazed to read today about the fact that Maltese Foreign Minister Michael Frendo participated in a joint virtual press conference in Second Life, together with the Foreign Ministers of the UK and the Maldives. I wonder if Minister Frendo is a Second Life user beyond this PR stunt intiated by the Maldivians at the Maldives Virtual Embassy on Diplomacy Island in Second Life. Now that's certainly something that should feature on one of the various Maltese politics-related blogs that have surfaced recently, in light of the upcoming general elections. I am particularly surprised I've read nothing about it on The Malta Chronicle, yet. Second Life? What's that?

The other thing was just to bring online (as a PDF) something I wrote for a magazine that's not available online. My article Facebook Value (10 things about Facebook) appeared on last Sunday's edition of FM, the magazine that comes with one of the Maltese English language Sunday papers. As an article it's not that special, but what I'm pleased about is how many people have been in touch with me about it and/or joined Facebook after reading it. Have a look at it and please feel free to either leave your comments below or get in touch with me on Facebook.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Busy Being Fabulous

Just as expected, the last few days have been mostly about Second Life. I'm actually grateful for my weekly podcast because it's a great way to cool off from all the SL activities I've been involved in since the last one. As soon as I submitted my first academic paper on Second Life for the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media earlier today I jumped straight into the production of the 90th edition of my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast.

Former Dripht guitarist Patrick Galea has been promising us a new studio recording since last year. Recording as Pekletrick he is now all set to release his first solo album on 24 November at Rookies. If Reclaiming Space, which is presumably the title track, is anything to go by, this should be a fabulous debut album. Bring it on!

Last night, Cable 35 launch their first CD release entitled My First EP at the Poxx Bar, with BNI as a support act. The track A Beautiful Story shows that they have very capably mastered the ability to shoot out a 3-minute pop rock tune that's very radio friendly and can give other wannabes enough to worry about to spare us from saturating the local market with too much of this stuff.

The follow-ups on my podcasts never fail to amaze me. After I featured a track by Acces To on last week's podcast, I found out that the band's bass player is a very accomplished composer of incidental music. Justin Martin recorded a show reel of this material last year and has included some of it on his MySpace page as Valley Wave Sound Solutions. I've selected to play The Pirate's waltz, which really shows Martin's compositional prowess to the full.

Also this week, I found a new clip on YouTube showing Corkscrew playing live on a local TV show. Apparently they played more than one track during this programme. One of them is Insomniac from their 2004 album No Ordinary Maybe. If nothing else, it's always great to see ir-Rex play bass in so many different formations. Is there anyone who works harder than him in the local music scene?

Eve Ransom seem to be making quite an impression these days. They've released a new song called Souvenier and it's apparently receiving a considerable amount of airplay on some local radio stations in Malta. I've been wanting to play something by this band on my podast since last year and I've finally managed to get my hands on Believe, which is also used on the cable TV show Kick Off. They'll be added to my list of nominations for the 2007 Listeners' Top Picks, which will be launched for voting in a couple of weeks or so.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Falling Down

It's time for another weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. This time it's the 89th edition and it's one of those housekeeping moments where I clear out a number of tracks I've been wanting to include for some time along with the new stuff that keep coming week after week.

Access To are planning to release an album of songs they recorded recently at Robert Longo's Padded Cell Studio. They've released a sample of clips from these recordings on their MySpace page but no date has been announced yet for the album. I don't know if they're actually planning to release it this year, but just in case they're not I thought it's about time I played their single from 2002 on my podcast. Like A Sparrow opens the show this week serving as a great warm-up for the heavier tune I have in store later on.

Remaining in the past for a little longer, I pulled out a track called Oratorio Mortem by Sceptocrypt from a 1997 Storm Records compilation entitled The Core of Creation. The band and the record label are both long gone but interestingly enough Sceptocrypt now have a great page on MySpace. It's really worth your time if you're interested in the relatively recent history of the Maltese rock music scene from this band's perspective.

Moving on to the new, Halycon have released a demo of a song called To the End. If you like your music rough then you'll like this band. They're simply a bunch of post-pubescent punks and there's no harm in that. This is a band I'm keeping an eye on, however, because there's something about them that makes them stand out from all the other performing monkeys of their ilk. For some reason I have a feeling that this band will be around in one guise or another for some years to come.

The closing track for this week's podcast is entrusted to Maltese metal monsters Loathe who are about to launch their third EP. The record is due out on the 24th of November. It Will Get Worse is one of the songs on this upcoming release and it's as powerful as anything you'll ever hear coming out of the Maltese islands. Needless to say it gets nominated for the 2007 MMI Listeners' Top Picks. If you want your ears to bleed, look no further than Loathe.

That's about it for this week. I have a heavy Second Life week coming up. If all goes well I'll blog about all that before it's time for the next edition of my Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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