Hey, we're not all about just business and hard work at Pen-Ultimate. Gotta have some fun, too! This is the part of our site where we let our hair down a bit and share a few laughs. In addition to our rotating cartoon of the day, here's where we share any post-worthy comedic tidbits that we stumble across while we're...er...working, ya, that's it. We'll also use this space to poke fun at anything that crosses our desk that titilates our cynical or sarcastic side.

 
BANG YOUR HEAD!


If you’re anything like me (and my condolences if you are), you spent countless hours in the ’80s practicing your skills imitating the chops of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and various other guitar gods using implements ranging from fire pokers, brooms, hockey sticks and, of course, your bare hands. Ah yes, the lost art of air guitar – few things can take me back to my misspent youth as appropriately as banging my head and playing an imaginary instrument.

Now, thanks to the wonders of technology, you can do more than just pretend. The Virtual Air Guitar, a project developed at the Telecommunications Software and Multimedia Laboratory and the Acoustics Laboratory at the Helsinki University of Technology, allows you to essentially play guitar without an instrument or – most importantly – any musical skill.

You just put on a pair of orange gloves and wail away on your fake axe, while a webcam films you and interprets the music you’re playing through the physical sound model software. The result is actual musical output “played” by you. Had this existed back in the day, I might never have left home. Check it out at airguitar.tml.hut.fi.

 
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CURRENTLY IN THE CD PLAYER
Phish – The Siket Disc, 2000
 

When the Grateful Dead wound up, the natural progression of Deadheads everywhere was to flock to Phish, who quickly established themselves at the head of the hippie band movement in the early ‘90s. The Siket Disc, named after engineer/mixer John Siket, is a fascinating by-product of the recording sessions for the band’s 1998 album, The Story of the Ghost. Siket, who has produced work from such luminaries as Medeski, Martin and Wood, The Replacements, and Diesel, culled this disc from approximately 75 hours of session jams, boiling it down to a 35-plus minute set of purely improvisational tracks.

The result, while not really a conventional album, is a generally very atmospheric and hypnotic package, rock’s spacey groove answer to the chill out, get-in-the-beanbag-chair scene. The Siket Disc’s classic is “What’s the Use?” featuring a jazzy, bluesy riff that serves as a backdrop for some tremendous wailing guitar work with a scaled down, mellower Robert Fripp-like feel to it.

Fans of Brian Eno’s sampling techniques on My Life in a Bush of Ghosts will enjoy “Fish Bass,” one of the disc’s shorter offerings. “Quadraphonic Toppling” is another short jam, but much more minimal in its scope. “Insects” is about as Fripp as it gets in its frenetic guitar work.

 
PREVIOUS CD REVIEWS:

Llorca, New ComerLes Gammas, Exercices de Styles

 
 
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