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Music Review: Everything You Should Know by Silence is Sexy

Year: 2008
Tracks: 12 (this release)
Genre: Indie Rock, Alternative Rock, Pop Rock, Rock
Similar Artists: Coldplay, Radiohead, Monoral, Screaming Trees
Online: Facebook, Jamendo, Bandcamp, FreeMusicArchive

Dutch band Silence is Sexy is one of the earliest bands that I came across on Jamendo. Whilst the members seem to have moved on to other projects, their several albums remain among the personal favorites of my music collection. Today, I will be focusing on one of the earliest of their releases, Everything You Should Know. Please note that this album is what led to me becoming a fan of their music in the first place. Today’s review is going to be short but I hope it is helpful.

Everything You Should Know is a collection of twelve songs with a gritty acoustic sound that contrasts pleasantly with the occasional orchestral elements. The compositions are solid, backed up by excellent instrumental work and crisp sound engineering. Whilst the rest of the Silence is Sexy catalog is enjoyable, I consider this album to be their best so far.
The album begins on a strong front, with the song This is Our Start?. This track sets the stage for the rest of what appears to be an anthology of musical stories. Whilst the album contains more melancholic songs, we see glimmers of hope throughout. This is made very clear with the second track Stories Yet to Come, the declaration that moments of sadness are not the end as much as it feels like it at the time.
Do have any favorite songs on this album? Yes. The eighth track Reptiles is energetic and a lot of fun to listen to. It is hands-down my top pick for the album. The song resonates with me and I find myself listening to it on its own time and time again.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this album. If you a writer looking for a soundtrack for a modern-day drama or urban fantasy character-driven story, then this album is a solid pick. Artists looking for some melancholic and reflective songs to help with their own projects should probably check out this album as well. I also recommend checking out the album if you are a fan of the musical genres listed above.

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Course Review: Drawing Foundations: Fundamentals

Teacher: Will Kemp
Length: 2h 24m
Provider: Lynda.com (course link)

Some background…
Back in ninth and tenth grade, I decided to do high school art. Both my sisters had done it during their time in high school and I had an inkling that I would as well. As much as I tried, I also had to juggle other things that were going on at the time. I didn’t excel near as much as I had envisioned. In eleventh and twelfth grade, there was a choice between agriculture and art and I ended up choosing agriculture because it came a bit more naturally for me. Still, there was always this desire to one day return to art.
Several times over the decades that followed, I have tried to get back into it. I found some manga tutorials and attempted that but I always felt like I was missing some fundamentals. When my husband got a position in Gympie, I frequented a rather neat art group at the Gympie gallery. I met a bunch of awesome people there and learned a lot in a short period of time. We ended up moving and I found myself in a place where the art community wasn’t as accommodating for people trying to hone their skills. To this day, I still miss that Gympie art group.

When I came across several learning pathways focusing on improving art skills and design on Lynda last year, I decided to give them a run. The first part of the Improve Your Drawing Skills pathway is Drawing Foundations: Fundamentals course by Will Kemp, an entry-level course to get people started as artists.
Will Kemp begins by going over the tools and equipment that you’ll need for the various exercises covered in this two and half hour course. He then goes over some important elements and techniques in a lot of detail. He offers a bunch of exercises to assist with deep learning. Unfortunately, I was missing several of the tools and equipment necessary to participate in several of them which made it difficult to put the lessons to use.
I enjoyed this course overall. Will Kemp does a great job of making the material accessible to both beginners and veterans alike. The exercises are appropriately challenging and relevant to the current stage of learning, also encouraging students to go out and find some of their own studies to draw. Just make sure that you have access to the tools and equipment mentioned in the first module as it will help you get the most out of the course.

In conclusion, this course is great for learning the basic skills of drawing. I highly recommend this course to beginners and a terrific way for veterans to brush up on their skills. If you are innately curious about how to draw, this course will give you an idea of whether or not drawing is right for you. If any of this applies to you, be sure to set some time and money aside to do the course in the not-so-distant future.

Australian residents should check their local and state library services to see if membership provides free access to LYNDA course. In the case of the state of Queensland, the state library and rural libraries program offers this, which is something that I am currently taking advantage of. If you aren’t an Australian resident, check your regional library, college and/or place of employment to see if they offer a similar perk.


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Video of the Week #027

This week’s video is another DIY, this time offering several woodworking projects by the DIY Creators channel. The descriptions are simple but the designs certainly are neat in my personal opinion. If you find this video helpful, feel free to check out the rest of the channel because the folks there post some really neat projects.

So, what did you think of the projects? What would you have done differently? Has it sparked any new ideas for your own projects? Feel free to post away in the comments section on this page or over at the original post.


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Manga Review: Arslan Senki 001 – 005

Year: 2013 (ongoing)
Author: Yoshiki Tanaka
Artist: Hiroumu Arakawa
Version: MangaStream
Online: Wikipedia, MAL, KissManga
Genre: Shounen, Action, Fantasy, Drama

In lieu of my upcoming writing project, I figured it might be worth reading some manga that more closely reflected the aesthetics that I was looking for. I decided to give the newest manga adaptation of the novel Arslan Senki a run. The first adaptation was in 1986 and the second in 1991. Each had their own unique art style that gave a distinctly different feel. I’d also like to point out that there are also several anime adaptations of the various manga adaptations. So… many… adaptations!

Arslan Senki, otherwise known as The Heroic Legend of Arslan, tells the story of a kind-hearted young prince named Arslan. When one of his father’s most trusted generals betrays the unstoppable Parsian army, the defeats of the Parsians leads the way for the capital to be attacked. As Arslan’s first campaign, he loses so much. However, with so much on the line, fate forces the fourteen-year-old to step up. The first step will be finding some allies to take out hundreds of thousands of soldiers motivated by religious zealotry.

To begin with, this series is drawn by the talented Hiroumu Arakawa. Hiroumu Arakawa is the artist for Fullmetal Alchemist, a series that many of you have at least some familiarity with. The art style may not feature that mechanized contraptions of his Fullmetal Alchemist setting, but it does share similar character designs. In this case, the world setting is based on certain areas of the middle east during the crusades. Given the subject matter, the art shows more gore and the audience is quickly made aware that Arslan and his companions have their work cut out for them.
The plot is a very simple one but it does a good job of showing how much trust many of the characters put into their allies. This doesn’t necessarily work out, a major betrayal causes the deaths of thousands of troops, creating a baptism of fire for young Arslan. He isn’t a particularly good warrior but he has Daryun looking out for him.
This focus on working as a group feels like it will continue on in future chapters. I also anticipate Arslan’s martial training to finally pay off. Given the hint at the inclusion of future allies, how will they affect the dynamic of the party of four? I am also curious if Narsus paints nudes. In any case, the first five chapters have my interest perked. 

Will I be continuing this series? Well, I like the artwork and I like the characters so far. The action sequences are cool and the plot is interesting. Whilst there were some goofy moments in chapter five, it was more of a way to contrast the large amounts of bloodshed seen earlier. So, the answer is a resounding yes.


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World of Keiko 2018-03-19

Another week has passed and in an attempt to regularly analyse my own progress, I am back with another overview of what I’ve been up to. This past week has been quite busy… in a good way. I’ve made some decisions and put some plans into motion, all while keeping up with my blogging schedule. That is a pretty big deal for me, especially how inconsistent I’ve been over the past year. During that time, it has been a lot of false starts in my attempt to get back to my blogging schedule before Cyclone Debbie. In any case, I will take a moment and try to continue one day at a time.

On the exercise front, I have been watching a lot of legitimate videos on YouTube in the hopes of more efficiently meet my health and fitness targets. I’ve been keeping up with my push-ups, squats and sit-ups, taking necessary rest days. The game plan is to have two days on, a rest day and two days on followed by the weekend off. That should give me plenty of time for recovery.
Today, I introduced something new to the routine. Whilst the first four sets of each exercise are a set number of reps each, I decided to exercise close to failure on the final sets. The rationale is to see what I can do and to push myself a little bit more in order to build muscle. For those interested, I highly recommend the following YT channels:

You’ll probably notice that three of the channels focus on Calisthenics. Body weight exercise make perfect sense for my current health and fitness goals. I am also interested in doing bar work. Hubby and I will likely purchase the related equipment and make any necessary installations when it becomes relevant.

Gaming? I haven’t legitimately played FFXIV in nearly a week. I don’t necessarily consider this a bad thing given that I am enjoying the other stuff that I’ve been up to. I anticipate a decrease from the hours that I used to spend in game when I get back to it. For now, I’ll be focusing on my retainers and maintaining my gardens.

On the subject of gardens, an old gentleman up the road dropped off some avocados and dragon fruit last week. Today, I discovered that one of those dragon fruit is the red flesh variety Hylocereus costaricensis. In lieu of a recent desire to set up a fruit and vegetable garden, I took time out to dry some of the seeds and store them for later use.
The avocados that I started growing from seed last year are currently in small pots and a little shy of a meter in height. I can’t help but smile when I look at them. However, I really need to get some potting mix and other supplies next time I visit Bunnings as I would like to transplant them into large terracotta pots that were here when we moved. The plants deserve a home and those large pots are suitable for growing a large topiary tree.

On the education front, I am back to work on my French lessons at Duolingo and the Improve Your Drawing Skills learning pathway at LYNDA. I find it curious that I’ve changed the way that I approach my language lessons. It might be some time before I am fluent but I am enjoying doing those lessons every day. I’ll try to stay consistent with my lessons and find some way to apply what I am learning.
As for the learning pathway at LYNDA, I am noticing that the current course that I am doing covers some material that I never got to during my year nine and ten art lessons in high school. I have reached some obstacles in my learning due to lacking some essential equipment. This means that I am unable to practice some of the principles covered in the coursework.
The goal for my language lessons is to do lessons each day to keep the material fresh in my mind. As for my other coursework, the goal is to complete one course a week. If I don’t manage, I won’t be overly worried but I do think that doing coursework to refine my art skills will be helpful in designing both my fictional characters and worlds.

Writing has seen some major changes. Although I was working on my modern romance story, I’ve decided to put it on hiatus until after the upcoming Camp NaNoWriMo beginning on the first of April. During this time, I have decided to work on an old project that began as part of my old Eternus Divum blog. Eternus Divum was a blog where I used to post stories inspired by classical artwork. It was a lot of fun and I came up with a bunch of ideas during that time.
For Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ll be working on a story that became a bit of a serial during the short-lived blog experiment. However, I’ve made significant changes to the plot, fleshed out the world and made necessary changes to several of the characters, including the protagonist. I still have a little over a week before Camp NaNoWriMo begins and a lot more work between then and now, but I have made significant progress. I just need to put in the work and figure out some ways to deal with distractions during Camp NaNoWriMo.

What have I been listening to over the past week?

My reading has been nearly exclusively related to writing articles. Here’s hoping that I can apply some of the principles when I am ready to start my next project. I’ve taken a liking to Reedsy‘s ten-part mini-courses and the articles posted on the NY Book Editors website.
That being said, I did get some manga reading in last Tuesday. I might try to pick a genre closer to my next writing project for my next weekly manga review. It should help me stay in the right frame of mind during the planning process.

Well, that is it for the weekly overview of what I’ve been up to. I’d like to say thank-you to long-time readers for your ongoing support of this blog. I’d also like to offer a big hello to new readers. I leave you with the following film clip by The Slants:


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Sunday Playlist 03/18/2018

Hello again! Another week has passed and it time for another playlist. This time around, I have a collection of electronic dance and electropop tracks for you guys. I hope that you guys enjoy the compilation and consider checking out the featured artists.

  1. Red Moonlight (Radio Edit) by Pokki DJ [ITA]
  2. Take It To The Top by DJ Karda from Maximum Music (album) [CZE]
  3. Its Over by Jarek Laaser from Annailhating Rhythm (album) [DEU]
  4. Synapse by TheVicious from The Beginning (album) [AUS]
  5. Moments by the.madpix.project from Moments (single) [DEU]
  6. Never Deny (feat. Sabina) by Soundatelier [RUS]
  7. Safe & Sound by Sean Green from Rising (album) [DEU]
  8. No Regrets (feat. Lokka) by PlatinumEDM [FRA]
  9. Fernweh (feat. Mindmovie) by Kevin S. from Farben (album) [DEU]
  10. The Sun Goes Down by Fhernando from Last Days of Disco (album) [ITA]

You can find the playlist here.


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Music Review: Cinematic Volume 1 by Grégoire Lourme

Year: 2012
Tracks: 18 (this release
Genre: Soundtrack, Classical, Orchestral, Electronic, Ambient, World
Similar Artists: Celestial Aeon Project, MuswayStudio, Epic Soul Factory
Online: Jamendo, IMDB

Grégoire Lourme is a French composer that is one of the more prolific artists on Jamendo. Whilst his web presence is somewhat lacking, one gets the impression that the time that he would otherwise be spent social networking is directed to composing his rather expansive music catalogue. His albums are usually tied together by a theme, such as his 2017 release Spy. Today, I am discussing the first in his lengthy Cinematic theme series.

Volume 1 is a collection of instrumental tracks perfect for action, suspense, drama and science fiction sequences. The tracks are full-length and well-composed, making use of a big orchestra sound. It also utilizes pacing to great effect. I would usually go into vocals and lyrics, but given that it is an instrumental album it is not applicable. What I will say is that each track is a pleasure to listen to.
Favourite composition? If I had to chose a favourite track, I think it would be the ninth track The Empire Burns. The composition has a wonderful build-up and ability to elicit emotion from the listener that is prevalent in many of Lourme’s songs.

Whilst the tracks are geared towards film and television, they also work well as the soundtrack for writing science fiction, fantasy, action and adventure stories. If that interests you, I’d recommend checking out this album as well as Grégoire Lourme’s other releases. There is a lot on offer, so be sure to check out his music.