Tool’s “Fear Inoculum”

After well over a decade, Tool has released a great new album. It’s definitely a great experience to listen to in its entirety, but it somewhat lacks any great singles like Aenima and 10,000 Days had. What it does have is great asymmetrical time signatures (5/4, 7/8, etc), providing some awesome rhythmic grooves.

If you like Tool it’s worth checking out. The “deluxe” sort of CD offering is long gone/sold out, and now the price to get one is even more absurd than the $37 that they were offered for brand-new… but the mp3 album is great and goes for $12.

Green Rooibos

I drink a lot of tea, and while I’ve enjoyed regular Rooibos tea (or “red tea”) as a caffeine-free plant to drink, it has an extremely mild flavor.

On the Tealyra website I came across green rooibos, which is the same plant but processed much like regular green tea. The flavor is stronger, with a spicy peppery note and grassy flavors.

I definitely recommend it for a flavorful herbal tea.

BBE Sonic Maximizer

Late last year I purchased a BBE Sonic Maximizer, for both recording music and enhancing music I listen to from my PC into my stereo. While I haven’t recorded all that much music lately, the difference with the Maximizer on or off is astounding.
The bass is boosted without becoming boomy, the stereo separation is dramatically enhanced, and there is a treble and/or presence level EQ enhancement that really clears the sound of music.
It sounds particularly amazing with techno and electronica. My device version is the 882i.

Finally Beat “Abzu” on PS4

It didn’t take long to beat Abzu out of difficulty, but rather losing interest for quite a while. The visuals are beautiful, and it’s a fun experience, but there’s basically zero difficulty and no way to lose.

Overall I’d say it’s a mediocre game, and far less interesting than “Journey”, made by the same developer. And while I’d like to play Journey again, I don’t think I’ll be playing Abzu a second time.

Nonetheless, having found a deal on the PlayStation store to buy it for $5, I’d say it was well worth the money.

Record an electric guitar… without an amp! Sounds like a mandolin.

One technique I came up with years ago for an exotic tone from electric guitar is to tune the A and D strings in unison, and the B and e strings in unison, giving about two octaves below the 12th fret for playing “courses” of strings. Tune the E and G strings to a suitable pitch for your chosen open tuning.
Then, place a microphone right up to the guitar and record it acoustically… add some reverb and it provides a wonderful (albeit tinny) sound to change the tone of a song.

Elder Scroll Digital TCG

I’ve finally started playing the free-to-play game “The Elder Scrolls: Legends”, a digital trading card game. It has the concept of lanes for cards, which can only interact in their own lanes, a player life total, being able to attack a specific target without the defender choosing how to block etc, and an increasing amount of magic to cast cards each turn (as opposed to “lands” in a game like MTG).

As you might imagine, it features the fascinating lore and concepts from The Elder Scrolls series.

From what I’ve played, it seems like a great game.

Eclipse Should be Number 1

I recently ran across an online ranking of IDEs, and Eclipse is apparently just barely below Visual Studio – you can see the full rankings here:

http://pypl.github.io/IDE.html

As much as I love Visual Studio, especially now that it’s free for individuals in its full form, I just appreciate the look, feel, and layout/interface of Eclipse much more. There is some relief in seeing that number 3, Android Studio, has less than half the share of either Visual Studio or Eclipse.

Tortex Picks and Metronomes… Playing Faster!

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on clean, fast alternate picking on electric guitar. I’ve noticed I like a slightly thicker pick for this than general playing – so I’m back to using green Tortex picks, which are .88 size; I might try an even thicker pick at some point.

I also bought a mechanical metronome, which I thought was just cooler than a digital one or a phone app. It’s a cheap Chinese model but it works fine. It’s amazing how much more productive practice is with a strict time, like a drummer or metronome provides.

The work seems to be paying off as I’m playing fast lines much cleaner already.