Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame


Mahavishnu Orchestra: Inner Mounting Flame

This could be the best album ever made (well, one of them). I know earlier I said it might be Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, and that could still be true–but I hadn’t listened to this in quite awhile. The instrumentation and composition are tremendous. If you are a fan of any kind of music, classical, indie, prog rock, heavy metal, classic rock, jazz, krautrock, post rock, psych rock, electronic, synth rock, hip hop, there is something in this album for you. Much of modern day indie prog and prog metal, from Voivod to Don Caballero to Drive Like Jehu to the Fucking Champs to all of those technical metal and “emo” bands to older school metal like Metallica probably took a few moves from John McLaughlin’s book. He also played with Miles Davis and Tony Williams. For their first two albums the Mahavishnu Orchestra, starring John McLaughlin, along with Jan Hammer of Chariots of Fire and Miami Vice fame, the legendary Billy Cobham, and Rick Laird, were unparalleled.



Just Say No to Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power


CNN Article: Inside the nuclear underworld: Deformity and fear

This is unspeakable. With that Japanese nuclear power plant earthquake incident earlier in the year also in the news, I hope the people of the world take a good hard look at what nuclear power really entails…

Sada Punjab TV, Radio and Sikh TV



mp3: A kirtan on Sada Punjab/ Sikh TV (Can you tell me who the performers are?)

Today on a local public access show I got a chance to see a show called Sada Punjab–it was a totally great set of Indian music (I assume it was Indian, although Punjab culture is also shared by Pakistanis?) with dancing and videos. You may have seen this type of Bollywood-style video before–big groups of people dancing and singing, with neat percussion, violin-sounding string instruments, and that neat string instrument you may have heard in that Panjabi MC “Beware of the Boys (Knight Rider theme) song featuring Jay-Z a few years back. I know virtually nothing about Punjab
culture but this excellent music has me definitely intrigued.

Then the program switched to Sikh TV Chicago featuring a long, beautiful performance by three men, one on some sort of hand-drums and two others on these little organs–and singing songs with the most beautiful harmonies together. The chorus to one of the songs was “Pootan Mata Ki Aasees” which was translated as “O son, this is your mother’s blessing to you.” I’d like to track down the performers’ identities as the performance was awesome. The drums, those little organs, the signing, everything was great. Not to culturally mix and match but some of the harmonies reminded me of some Magic Hour/Major Stars, Brian Eno, what the Beatles sometimes tried to do and also some modern-retro indie folk rocksters. I really would like to hear some more music like this. Then another video was also great and had some lyrics reading “Miley Naam Har Nimka,” with no English translation. Both shows were produced by Indermohan Singh. I’d like to see/hear more and learn more about the culture and the music. What are the different types of stringed instruments, some of which sound like violins and some which sound sort of like Japanese shamisens? What are those little organs that sound so good?

Here’s a link to a punjab web radio feed from the Sada Punjab website:

UC Berkeley on Your iPod

Get your school on (your iPod):

Have fun learning and not worrying about being late to class!  Distance learning, for free!


“Noble Lies”: Political Philosophy, Leo Strauss, and the War in Iraq

Interesting article on political philosophy, the controversial concept of “noble lies,” and the war in Iraq…the possible real-world effects of academic theorizing on real-life political administrations! Read about Strauss’ detractors and defenders…are critics justified in seeing Leo Strauss’ imprint on the current administration and the Iraq war?

More later…

Malcolm X-Quoting Anime Cats with a Sociological Bent: The Pinky Show

Cute Hello Kitty-type animation? Check. 11-year old sounding voices? Check. Quoting of Malcolm X, sociological theory, analysis of context and social interpretation? Check.   What exactly is the story behind the cute animated cats of the Pinky Show?  Their videos include “Thomas Edison Hates Cats”…Let’s see if these revolutionary animated grad school kitties get Habermasian on us…

(From Wikipedia: Between Facts and Norms

“Habermas contends that law is the primary medium of social integration in modern society, and is power that extracts obedience from its subjects. As power alone cannot grant it its legitimacy in modern society, law derives its validity from the consent of the governed. Arguing that law is characterized by an internal tension between facts and norms that develops from the modern process of secularization, Habermas introduces a new term, “communicative power”, in this book. Pointing out that legitimate law-making is itself generated through a procedure of public opinion and will-formation that produces communicative power, he asserts that this communicative power, in its turn, influences the process of social institutionalization. In his words:

“informal public opinion-formation generates ‘influence’; influence is transformed into ‘communicative power’ through the channels of political elections; and communicative power is again transformed into “administrative power” through legislation. This influence, carried forward by communicative power, gives law its legitimacy, and thereby provides the political power of the state its binding force.”

There is, hence, a circular and reciprocal relation among communicatively-generated power, legitimate law, and state power that, Habermas believes, are co-originally juxtaposed. The co-originality of legitimate law and political power suggests a functional connection between them — “power” functions for “law” as the political institutionalization of law, and “law” functions for “power” as the legal organization of the exercise of political power. The functionalist codes of both law and power, then, suggest that “law requires a normative perspective, and power, an instrumental one”. This difference leads Habermas to distinguish between “communicative power” and “administrative power”.”

(BTW: Some more random social science stuff:

Definitions of oft-used terms normative and positive;

Clifford Geertz: “At the University of Chicago, Geertz became a “champion of symbolic anthropology“, which gives prime attention to the role of thought (“symbols”) in society. Symbols guide action. Culture, outlined by Geertz in his famous book The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), is “a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which people communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life” (1973:89). The function of culture is to impose meaning on the world and make it understandable. The role of anthropologists is to try (though complete success is not possible) to interpret the guiding symbols of each culture (see thick description). His oft-cited essay, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,” included in The Interpretation of Cultures, is the classic example of thick description at work. Geertz was quite innovative in this regard, as he was one of the first to see that the insights provided by common language philosophy and literary analysis could have major explanatory force in the social sciences.”;

Thick Description: “In anthropology and other fields, a thick description of a human behaviour is one that explains not just the behaviour, but its context as well, such that the behaviour becomes meaningful to an outsider.”

C. Wright Mills:

“Sociological imagination is a sociological term coined by American sociologist C. Wright Mills in 1959 describing the ability to connect seemingly impersonal and remote historical forces to the most basic incidents of an individual’s life. It suggests that people look at their own personal problems as social issues and, in general, try to connect their own individual experiences with the workings of society. The sociological imagination enables people to distinguish between personal troubles and public issues. For example, people in poverty by this perspective might stop to consider that they are not alone, and rather than blaming themselves should criticize the social forces that directed them into their present condition.”;

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs i.e. EA’s The Sims:

“Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the four lower levels are grouped together as deficiency needs associated with physiological needs, while the top level is termed growth needs associated with psychological needs. Deficiency needs must be met first. Once these are met seeking to satisfy growth needs drives personal growth. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus once all the lower needs in the pyramid are satisfied. Once an individual has moved past a level, those needs will no longer be prioritized. However, if a lower set of needs is no longer being met, the individual will temporarily re-prioritize those needs – dropping down to that level until the lower needs are reasonably satisfied again. Innate growth forces constantly create upward movement.”)

Best Noise Rock Post Punk New Wave No Wave Experimental Indie Emo Goth Album Ever: Live Skull’s Bringing Home the Bait


Note: New candidate: Nice Strong Arm’s Reality Bath!

Live Skull: Bringing Home the Bait (mp3s) : this album to me is every bit as good as (or better than, that’s highly subjective) Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, Sister and Evol, Drive Like Jehu’s self-titled and Yank Crime, Shellac’s Action Park, Swans’ Filth, etc. Anything by the Birthday Party, Jesus Lizard, Slint, Stranglers, Joy Division, Bauhaus, the Cure, King Crimson, Bastro, Germbox, Green Magnet School (see their awesome Blood Music, etc). Christian Death’s Only Theatre of Pain, anything by Mission of Burma, MX-80 Sound, etc. The Fucking Champs III and King Crimson’s Red are pretty darn high up there of course.

Besides Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain, Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, and Arthur Verocai’s album, this is one of the best albums ever made in my opinion–they just captured some inspired performances and the engineering/recording/production styles sounds great to me. I prefer the recording sound and guitar tones etc on this and their self-titled album to some of their later work…

This album came out in 1985, two years before Sonic Youth’s Sister and three years before Daydream Nation, not that that matters at all–after all, Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica came out in 1969–but the point is, some very misinformed people have called Live Skull a Sonic Youth ripoff, but they were making Sister and Daydream Nation -caliber albums three years before Sister and Daydream Nation (1986’s Cloud One is just as good if not better depending on who you ask). Not as catchy in a pop way as those Sonic Youth albums but perhaps even better in terms of highly technical guitar, bass, and drum mayhem in a post-punk, new wave, no-wave, indie prog vein. To me Bringing Home the Bait and Cloud One are up there with Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Birds of Fire and Inner Mounting Flame in terms of unique energy and experimentation.

Thanks to the folks at Xhol Desert for putting these Live Skull albums online–many of which are vinyl-only and are in dire need of CD rerelease. Check out also Cloud One and their first self-titled album which are totally awesome too; they’re all awesome but these are my favorite three.

Live Skull featured James Lo of Chavez, Marnie Greenholz, Tom Paine, Thalia Zedek later on of Come, Mark C of International Shades, Richard Hutchins of Hungry March Brigade, etc.

Also see the unofficial Live Skull myspace page.

Also check out early crazy postpunk experimental pre-emo madness by great early 1980s experimental hardcore bands the Dark and Spike and Vain