18.12.09

Everybody loves a freebie

2009, the second year of Noori Records existence, is actually the first "complete" year of Noori Records activities. We know that everybody loves a freebie, and with that in mind, we've setted up a free compilation album called "Noori Records 2009 sampler". Here, you'll be able to listen to some track from the four Noori Records public releases that were made during this year.

Click on the cover image to listen or download the album!

Noori Records 2009 sampler

Here's more info:

=== Noori Records 2009 sampler ===


1) NR005 * Merankorii - April in Portugal 4:07
2) NR007 * Betray-ed - Forgotten Landscape 3:00
3) NR007 * Betray-ed - My Impervious Homeland 3:23
4) NR010 * +ko+ko+ - Dark Swan 8:11
5) NR010 * +ko+ko+ - Little Harbour 7:46
6) NR011 * Ambiansu - The Train's Bar 5:23
7) NR011 * Ambiansu - Clearing 10:51
-----------------------------------------------------
Total: 42:41


# NR005 - 02/04/2009 - V/A - April in Jazz
# NR007 - 20/07/2009 - Betray-Ed - Haunting Memories
# NR010 - 24/11/2009 - +ko+ko+ - What Are You Gonna Do?
# NR011 - 24/11/2009 - Ambiansu - Tagebuch

This is a free promotional compilation regarding Noori Records' public releases in 2009. Feel free to know more about each of them at http://noorirecords.ning.com . Also, here are the links for the bands' websites, send your love to them!

Merankorii - http://www.reverbnation.com/merankorii
Betray-Ed - http://www.last.fm/music/Betray-Ed
+ko+ko+ - http://www.reverbnation.com/pluskopluskoplus
Ambiansu - http://www.myspace.com/ambiansu

The author of the picture used on the cover is pa1nt, and is covered by a CC-BY license.
Check out his pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pa1nt/

11.12.09

Ambiansu - Tagebuch

Many of you know that I have a one-man-band called Merankorii, but only a few know that I also have another musical project, called Ambiansu.

After interviewing M., the person behind the one-man-band "Ambience", whose latest album "As Dez Esperas" I considered one of the 10 best albums of 2007, we kept contact, and one thing leading to another made us want to try something different. The result, Ambiansu is more or less what you could expect from a fusion of Merankorii and Ambience styles (and something that people are generally describing as better than any of those two projects alone, but I'll leave that for you to decide).

Almost two years later, we had a musical project with one album released: "Tagebuch".

Ambiansu - Tagebuch (cover picture)


Tagebuch is an opus of 5 pieces, a mix of what's classical with what's disruptive, and what's traditional with what's unconventional. Instead of entering into much details, I'll instead ask you to listen. It was released in a 500 copies limited edition CD in card box, and it costs only 8€ (postage included). And the best part of it? If you buy it until the end of the year, for each CD you buy, I'll offer one to a library.

Before you ask: no, we don't intend to have the album for sale in digital form. On the other hand, it costs less than your typical mp3 album, I'll offer one to a library with each purchase, and you can always rip it to your favorite format and give the CD to a friend (yes, this is a promise that we won't charge you for "piracy" or any other of those silly things).

So, what are you waiting for? ;-)

4.10.09

Reasons to buy cassette tapes

Fire + Ice - Birdking (vinyl, white marble edition)

Last weekend a friend couple ended up the night coming home for some tea, chess and chat. I changed the record in the player to the beautiful white marble Fire + Ice's "Birdking" vinyl, and that led to a conversation around music, where I, perhaps annoyingly, ended up bragging about my music colection showing this or that vinyl or CD, mostly talking about artwork, limited editions and what attracted me about this or that album. Nothing too extensive or boring (I hope, for their sake).


At one point I showed the latest C-Utter release (actually because of its artwork and packaging, uncommon for a tape), and got as a reply "now that's something I don't understand". It was simple: my friend understands everything about why I prefer physical to digital (music-wise), and what's the attraction about vinyl records or (more commonly understood) CDs. But cassette tapes? Why? They went to their homes before I had the chance to reply, but the question stood on my head. So here's one possible reply:

Most people that buy cassette tapes do it by fetishism. I can understand that, and it's more or less similar (or even a sub-case) to the "physical release fetishism), and, like every other fetishes, it actually has an emotional part, not mandated by reason. But that's actually not my case, not in the particular case of cassette tapes. I want physical releases, and a cassette tape is a physical release - and that's as far as I can go fetishism-wise.

So what are the reasons why I buy cassette tapes?

Thanatos Cassette

Well, one of them is that... cassette tapes are cheap. Really cheap. No, I mean it. As an example, I can tell you about my second to last cassette tape purchase: a Thanatos album. I bought it directly to the record label that released it - at the time in two formats, tape and CD. The CD version costs $13.98, the tape version (the last copy, I suspect) cost $0.99 (or something like that, I don't want to lie, but if it wasn't that it was only a couple of cents less). See the difference? Exactly the same album, different formats. Well, I listen to tapes anyway, I have tapes anyway, it's not like I have a burden, or that I'm buying a lesser version. For me, it's more or less the same, only super-cheaper. Is this a reason or what?


But there are other reasons. That C-Utter cassette, "Urban Hermits", was only released on tape. The same thing about Astra Autisma's latest, self-titled, release. And this is more common than you would believe. So, what to do? Refrain from having that album or buying it on tape? No question here, this is a great reason to buy compact cassettes.

Finaly, the most arguable one, but one that I'm paying more and more attention (maybe because I am also a recording artist). Preservation. Yes, you heard it right. People talk to me about the cassettes saying "but they break the tape, heat messes with them, they're unreliable, it takes a lot of time of putting it back together when something happens with its tape"... but they're not looking to two crucial (for me) aspects: not only tapes "degrade gracefuly" (the sound gets poorer, but it doesn't just stop working, unlike CDs or digital files), but they actually have more longevity. What does that matter? Well, my music colection is actually already crumbling to dust. Several CDs unplayable, one cassette tape dead (recorded in 1976, 33 years ago), and counting. What percentage of it will I be able to play out in a decade? Will my grandsons be able to listen to the music I created? To me, preservation matters. Oh, sure, you can shoot me a "if you want preservation, go vinyl!". And I agree. But tapes are way cheaper to manufacture, so there's lots of music on tape you can't find on vinyl.

I understand if you still think buying tapes is silly. Really. Also, I don't mind :-) But, there, here are my reasons (or at least the ones I can remember of at this time of the day, my cup of tea is already empty, which must mean this blog post is bigger than it should) to buy compact cassettes.

12.8.09

Where are we heading to?

Some interesting stuff lately:

The "Portuguese version of Google Summer of Code" is "Sapo Summerbits", with its 2009 version already going on with 10 approved projects. From those, two are quite interesting to me:

  • "Erro de Sistema" (translated to "System Error") is going to be an Open Source 3D Animation Short Movie ("open content film"), made entirely with Open Source and about Open Source. The script is already published, and the team is getting more contributors. Work on the storyboard and concept art has already started. The project will use Open Source tools like Celtx, Blender, Pencil, Debian, Ubuntu, Ardour, Audacity, LMMS, Transverso DAW, Gimp, Inkscape, Cinelerra, Kdenlive and Farmerjoe. The student behind this project is João Alberto, which you might recall as being one of the two guys who made the 3D Animation Short Movie "Playground", which I've talked about here in the past since its soundtrack was made using Merankorii tracks.
  • "Portucale" is going to be a Real Time Strategy Game about the History of Portuguese Conquests. It will be written in "C/C++" (maybe a mixture of the two?) and Javascript for user interaction with the game's interface. It will use NASM, SDL, Boost, zlib, libpng, libxml2, OpenGL, OpenAL, libogg, libvorbis, cryptopp, wxWidgets, gamin, BFD, enet and DevIL. I think it will be a fork of 0 A.D..

Facebook bought Friendfeed, supposedly to get its staff into their R&D. This is a huge blow to Friendfeed users, which - it's easy to see - aren't happy with the decision. The biggest question is wether (or, in fact, when) Friendfeed will just be shutted down. Facebook isn't a replacement for almost every Friendfeed user: there are the few of us that simply refuse to have a Facebook account (I'm in this group, as you already know if you're a regular reader of this blog), but for the others there's still the simple fact that they are two really distinct web apps with really distinct communities. Not only Friendfeed isn't replaceable by Facebook in terms of features - something that Facebook people might want to change - but specially the two services have different purposes. So, people are already planning "the future", their jump. From people asking for good methods to backup all their Friendfeed data (including their social graph), to people asking Facebook to just make Friendfeed's code Open Source, or people actually looking into alternatives. I've been looking into those alternatives myself, and the most convincing one for me was Identoo.com, because it lets you do almost everything that Friendfeed does (until now I only missed the "Hide" functionality), adaptation and migration is more or less quick, and it is mobile-friendly (heck, here it is better than Friendfeed: instead of using a fftogo-like mobile portal, I can use Identoo's website in the mobile without problems). I didn't considered in my tests one fact that makes Identoo even better: Identoo is nothing more than an installation of the Open Source platform NoseRub (similar to what Identi.ca is to Laconi.ca), which means that the development of NoseRub (thus Identoo) is transparent, and we can actually affect where is it heading to (even if not with code, just by making bug reports, suggestions, feature requests and such). Is it as good as Friendfeed? No, but it can turn out to be as good or even better, and it is good enough for when Friendfeed dies (if you, like me, won't believe that Facebook would open source Friendfeed's code). When I heard about FB buying FF I was worried, now I'm relaxed about it.

The WTF moment: Microsoft was told it can't sell "Microsoft Word" on the United Stated while it still has the ability to open XML, DOCX or DOCM files that have "custom XML" (and also pay a fine), thanks to a patent infringement. Ridiculous, like every other patent case... Of course, this being Microsoft, and them having the money they have, they'll appeal and try to rule the patent as invalid. And they'll do it again and again until they manage to win. The bad news is that they still don't see patents as bad (how could they, when they use their own patents to try to scare their competition?), just invalid (like every other patent against them would be, and neither of those patents owned by Microsoft are, for sure).

The RealDVD case is finally over, the making DVD copies program is now illegal in the United States. Yes, people can make copies of their DVDs, but they can't invent a way of doing that copy, nor use a tool to make that exact copy. Am I the only one seeing this as obviously stupid?

And the final rant of the day: two guys were convicted in UK of refusing to decrypt data. These are, as far as I know, the first two victims of 2007's law that gives authorities the power to force people to unscramble their data. "Privacy? Rights? Pfft, we can't have those if we want to take down the terrorists!"

2.8.09

SciFi

I'm an avid reader of Science Fiction since I was a kid (the great collection of SciFi books from my elder brother and specially from my elder sister were a great help for such). Many don't understand what I see on SciFi, when the response is quite obvious: SciFi is a futurology practice of telling you the possibilities of our future, an help for us to understand the choices we have today to help us shape the future. So when I read some news of today about some practices that shock someone, I usually aren't shocked: it was something already predicted by someone, and that means something. Fahrenheit 451 talks about a society where books are taken out from their owners, a couple of weeks ago Amazon decided to take out some books they sold from their "owners". 1984 is a book that talks about a society where people's houses are watched ("Big Brother is Watching You" is an expression that comes from that book). Yesterday came the news that United Kingdom are making a program to keep an watch on more than 20.000 families using CCTV cameras. Now, the question really is: do people understand what's at stake? Do they know the choices? What are they doing to make the world turn into the direction they want? For instance, it still puzzles me how can people vote the way they do...

Proud

I'm proud. Proud of doing what I do, proud of having the friends I have, proud of being the one who did what I did, or make someone do what they do. Pride isn't an ugly thing, is something fulfilling. I am proud - and feel real joy - each time I see the fruits of my doings, specially when they are things that have value by themselves, even if I don't interfere any more, not even as an observer. Does this make sense? I don't know, I only had to share this with you: lately I've been proud, because finally I'm seeing the results of my doings, the results of the fact of me being, and being the way I am.

19.6.09

bits

Yup, I'm still pretty much alive. There are so many things to do, and so many things I want to do, that I really don't find any time to write on this blog, and after finding Friendfeed as a way to let my thoughts escape, I really don't think I'll ever return to use my blog as I used to. But I still like having a blog, and for so many times I've found myself thinking I want to write here again. So, this is what to expect: sometimes, rarely I suppose, I'll just write something, rant a little bit, and say almost nothing. Personal blog, okay?, it's fine to do just that :-)

I've been quite busy in a number of fronts. Work, Merankorii, Noori Records, I'm also now officialy a member of ANSOL... And there are lot's of things that urge to get people to act, specially if you take into account the whole craziness of lately regarding digital rights, copyright, freedom, privacy and so on both in an European level (specially with the Telecoms Package, then the event of the Pirate Bay trial and everything that "floated" around it, and then the three-strikes-like things, or the internet censorship like what's possibly going to happen in UK or Germany) and in Portugal (and things are really muddy on those fields too, but I'll probably reserve some time to talk properly about that later).

One thing that has been keeping me excited for a couple of months now are the "20th's": Cabinet Pin is a micro-label that organizes a monthly compilation where artists can participate by following the rules: they have to do a complete track in one day only - the 20th of each month - and then submit it. I've been doing it (almost) each month, and I really like the concept and the results. I'm really fun and an artistic challenge, and I've been trying to convince a couple of other musicians to also participate... Maybe you want to give it a try? Anyway, tomorrow is the 20th and is a saturday, so it will be the first time that - I hope - I won't be in such a hurry and with such an high-constraint as usual... Let's see what will come from that, having an actual entire day instead of - like what happened once - having less than one hour till midnight to get finaly started...

And now, AvatarCamp is running (today and tomorrow) and I'm "there" via Selva (my Portuguese text-based virtual world). So, excuse me, but I have a virtual barcamp to attend to :-)

3.4.09

Taking the "name your own pricing" model one step further

There are many ways from which I could explore this issue, but as you can probably see by the lack of updates on this blog, I don't really have much time to write about this - I have more important and/or interesting things to do... Anyway, this blog post can work in three ways: 1) to tell you about one experiment I did, how it went, and what will I do now that the experiment is over; 2) to improve my comment on André's blog post about Portuguese people (in Portuguese), where he states that "Portuguese people think that everything that has to be paid is too expensive"; 3) to improve my comment on Miguel's blog post about tips and tip jars, where he says that some tips are "socially accepted" while others aren't...

April in Jazz

Yesterday, the 2nd of April 2009, my micro-label Noori Records released its first "Pro CD Audio" (a term generally used by labels and distributors to describe Audio CDs that aren't CD-R's), a limited edition beautiful (as you can see in the picture) compilation called "April in Jazz".

I've been playing in my mind with the concept of the "name your own pricing" model in my mind for a long while: first it was the Nine Inch Nails experiment, releasing an album for free in digital format, selling it also as a physical release that soon was sold-out, and Radiohead's "In Rainbows", where people could choose how much to pay for the (digital version) of the album. From March 2008 I decided to let people buy Merankorii digital tracks at the price of their choice, and in May 2008 I wrote about why wasn't all my music free. Yet, and after many hours thinking, reading and learning, I decided to take the "name your own pricing" one step further.

At the 2nd of April, "April in Jazz" was released, and got sold out. News about the album release were spreaded via e-mail to Merankorii and Noori Records fans and friends, and because I was more of less afraid of the results I decided to tell first (and it ended up being only) about it to Portuguese people (because shipping costs are less that way). And so, the challenge was made:

[...] and doing it in a very special way: you choose the price. That's right: it was your money that made this release possible, so you are the ones who have the right to tell how much is it worth to you, how much you're willing to pay.

There are several things that you have to think about this: probably the most important one is that I wasn't selling the CD on a widely available website where everyone could click and buy, I was talking to true fans, and only to them. Still, here are some data about the results of the experiment:

  • More than 50% of the buyers paid more than I would ever dare to ask for a CD;
  • I hadn't a "price" in mind, but the price I would probably choose for this release is the same as the lowest price people paid for the CD;
  • If the edition had the double of its size, and everywhere else paid 0 € for it, and those other copies needed to be shipped to the moon, it would still be profitable;
  • 20% of the people who bought it didn't like to have to choose how much to pay for it.


  • WOW, Noori Records and Merankorii fans totally ROCK.


So, is it true that Portuguese people always think that everything is expensive? I don't think so, if you make them wanting to get it (whatever 'it' is you're trying to sell). So, is it true that people won't tip artists? No, I don't think so - but you'll have to make them comfortable in doing so. Having a tip jar in Merankorii's website never helped me getting money (well, I got $0.20 :-)), but when people feel they have to pay something for something, they can be very generous. What about this experiment, what will happen next? I really don't know, but one thing I'm sure of: I'll keep thinking and trying to test several models that feel right for everyone: artists, labels, fans, buyers, freeloaders, everyone. If it's fair, it's good for everyone. And I don't think that putting buyers in the position of "OK, now I have to chose an amount to pay for this..." isn't that fair, that good, and, as I stated before, not everyone liked the idea. So, I probably won't do this again. But that doesn't mean that the experiment isn't worthy - it is, and a lot. It let's you be a lot more transparent with your community, and the community will show a lot more about themselves.

Think about it.

27.2.09

The new Facebook Terms of Service

Sorry about the lack of links in this blog post, its was written offline

So, Facebook fsck'd up, and then reverted to the old Terms of Service. I'm glad to see that wasn't enough, since lots of people actually ended up reading the previous Terms of Service, that were already bad enough.

The most offending - for me at least - on any version of Facebook's TOS was the "blank contract" clause, a clause unfortunately seen in lot's of Terms of Services, and that basicly say "you're agreeing with this but you shouldn't even bother reading this stuff, because we can change it whenever we like and you automaticly signed the new terms".

Fortunately, it seems, a new set of terms is being drafted and scheduled to replace the old ones by the 29th of March. Now in a phase of discussion (with their users only, so those who don't have a Facebook account because they don't agree with the actual terms - probably the most critics about them - don't have much chance of voice their worries about the new Terms), this terms (until further re-draft, which might happen thanks to the comments being submited by Facebook users) replace the previous "blank contract" clause with this:

12.1 We can change this Statement so long as we provide you notice through Facebook (unless you opt-out of such notice) and an opportunity to comment

12.2 [...] we'll give you a minimum of seven days notice

Unfortunately, I still think this is hardly acceptable. You are warned about the new terms in the service, and if you don't act in seven days, even if you didn't read your Facebook messages in that period, you are automaticly accepting the new Terms.

With this, further discussion about other items is more or less irrelevant, since even if all the rest is acceptable, there's no warranty that one month after you sign it, the Terms are still the same. Remember: this isn't acceptable in any "paper contract" you sign, how come should it be acceptable in an online contract?

Anyway, let me highlight some other items in that Terms that should worry you...

2.3 For content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos and videos), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub.licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use, copy, publicly perform or display, distribute, modify, translate, and create derivative works of ("use") any content you post on or in connection with Facebook

3.2 You will not collect users' information, or otherwise access Facebook, using automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scapers) without our permission

4.5 You will keep your contact information accurate and up-to-date

5.6 You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Wall and 32665) without our written permission

6.2 In the event you change or deactivate your mobile telephone number, you will promptly update your account information on Facebook to ensure that your messages are not sent to the person who acquires your old number

Sorry Facebook, to get me as an user, you still have a lot of work to do.

16.2.09

[Merankorii - Angellore] new album released!

[Updated with link to an online store selling this CD]

flyer

Merankorii's 7th album, [Merankorii - Angellore], was released yesterday, 15th February 2009.

This album, a split with Angellore, shows two faces of the same story - We - one noisy and urban (Merankorii), and the other neofolkish and pagan (Angellore).

The album was released in a 60 copies limited edition by NgH Productions, and it is the first Merankorii album in a printed CD.

If you're interested in buying it, feel free to contact me here's an online store selling it. The album price is 8€.

I hope you'll enjoy this new album!

3.2.09

New free stuff ('cause free is what you like)

This is a quick post, just to let you know a couple of things, both related to my musical projects.

First of all, my Metal band "Mordor" is officially setting itself "deceased" with the release of its last track, for free, in a 2CD Metal compilation: Carrying the Deadly Blast Vol. 3&4 is a free, Creative Commons licensed, double CD Metal compilation, feature tracks from bands like FluiD, Odium, Mordor, Nihil and Elgibbor.

Carrying the Deadly Blast Vol.3&4

The other news is about the first movie of a promising couple of directors: Playground is a short movie made in Blender, with a Creative Commons license and a soundtrack by Merankorii.

Here's the movie.



Enjoy!

19.1.09

2008 is over, welcome 2009

2008 is over. It's peak, for me, was obviously the 27th of December, the day of my marriage. Being a married man is... not that different. I have a ring on my finger now, and that's a difference, but the really nice thing about being married is actually living with Paula, something that could happen without the ring :-) Anyway, the wedding went really well (and I even did something I wasn't expecting, and acted like a crying baby for a couple of minutes), and our honeymoon was excelent. Now that I'm back to "real life", working again, there are things that change. Living with Paula is awesome, but the adaptation has quite a few funny episodes. For instance, who gets to control the waking alarm and choose at what time it should be set to fire up, in which side of the bed is its place, or - most importantly - if it will wake us up by playing CD (my choice) or radio (Paula's choice). Or, for that matter, what CD should we be listening to at this very moment: I just had to change CDs! O:-) Oh, and where will we get space to store those tons of excelent books Paula have? She argues that we should use the space reserved to my tons of excelent CDs, but that's obviously not the right answer :-D

Another news from me is that I have now, as a birthday/Yule gift from her, a Stylophone. It's a cute little musical instrument, and a quite addictive one. I wonder how much time will it take to "suddenly disappear", as I tend to play it quite annoyingly for hours. Don't worry, I only plan to release stylophone-played tracks that were previously approved by her :-)

2008 was an intense year for Merankorii: two albums released ("A Viagem" and "Split") and participation in a few compilations: "Anti-Nuclear Music Compilation", "Killing In The Name of Reverend Murder ...Is Our Business (Vol. 1)", "Evocation", "The World Of All Evil" and "Okkulth Magick I". In this year I kept the "one track per month" iniciative, meaning that each month I published one new mp3 of Merankorii into the wild. One real interesting thing about this experiment is that, even if all my music is licensed with a Creative Commons license, there are a few Merankorii fans that, while liking the music enough to want to listen to them, don't actually want to pay for it. Thus, I'm pleased to make them happy by releasing one track per month. It's great to have the feedback I got from this: both from people telling me "thanks" for the iniciative, and from those telling me "hey, when is this month's track? Will I have to wait for the last day of the month to get it?" :-) 2009 will surely bring you more Merankorii news: I can tell you that Merankorii's 7th album is going to be released really soon now!

Speaking of music, and because people tend to do lists every time an year ends, here's my "top 10 2008 albums" list, that exclude everything with the hand of Merankorii or Noori Records. Here is it (without any relevance to the order, they're ordered by "when did I buy it"):

  • Caprice - Kywitt ! Kywitt !
  • ThanatoSchizO - Zoom Code
  • Edo Notarloberti - Silent Prayers
  • V/A - Fairy World IV
  • Ashram - Ashram (2008's re-edition)
  • Les Fragments de la Nuit - Musique du Crépuscule
  • Sol Invictus - Lex Talionis (2008's re-edition)
  • Marilyn Manson - The Early Years, Volume 2
  • Cranes - Cranes
  • V/A - La Nuit des Feés 2

Actually, this is the best time to revise my list of "best from 2007":

  • Dismal - Miele Dal Salice
  • Antimatter - Leaving Eden
  • Tenhi - Folk Aesthetic 1996-2006
  • V/A - Fairy World 3
  • Ambience - As Dez Esperas
  • Corde Oblique - Volontà d'Arte
  • Knox Om Pax - Laudanum
  • (r) - In Pink
  • V/A - La Nuit des Feés
  • Sol Invictus - The Killing Tide (re-edition box)

I guess someday I'll take some time and do the same for 2006... But not today.