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The Longest Stylesheet

Tuesday January 31, 2006

Actually, it's not that long, but I couldn't think of a better snarky headline for this post about the launch of the new Pharaoh website, designed by me. I've certainly seen MUCH longer stylesheets. But the new album is called The Longest Night and that title begs to be satirized, so I did what I could. If you don't like it, you can go pound sand!

So, what's next for me? I'm in the middle of writing and recording the guitar solos for the next Dawnbringer album, which is a long-running project of Pharaoh's drummer Chris Black. It's an interesting challenge for me, because Chris is looking for a specific sound, but he doesn't really want to articulate the specifics of what he's looking for. It's up to me to figure that out. I feel like a real studio musician, trying to decipher from the song what the "client" wants from the guitarist. Of course, I'm not getting paid to do this, save for a free CD (I hope!) but it's a fun experience and it's forcing me to play in a way I wouldn't normally play. I even used my friend Gary's wah pedal! I'm a regular Kirk Hammett! The release of the album is entirely dependent on the speed with which I finish my solos, but I hope to be done in a couple weeks, so the album will probably be out in the late spring. I'll keep you posted.

When I'm finished with Dawnbringer, I'd like to sit back and do nothing, but that almost certainly won't happen. I'll get bored. My next big undertaking is the design and launch of Feast or Famine online. I'm resurrecting my not-quite-dead print zine on the Internets, to be published in monthly issues. My plan at the moment is to write a custom CMS (content management system) with Ruby on Rails, a pretty new web framework based on the Ruby scripting language. At work, we have a project in the making using Ruby, so this Feast or Famine experiment will be a good way for me to expand my understanding of the language/framework offline (or if you'd like, my work assignments will help me to make a better zine.) I don't expect to get this done anytime soon, but I'll optimistically say that sometime in the summer I'll be ready to reveal the first online issue of Feast or Famine.

It occurs to me now that this post reads like one of those photocopied status reports one occasionally finds in Christmas cards, and I do apologize for the absence of real humor in this post. Perhaps I should put a mark on my calendar that reads "Be Funny on Blog," but I have a feeling I'd just ignore it if I did.

Posted by Matt at 09:25 AM | Comments (3)


Thursday January 26, 2006

I should really have something better to write about than this. After all, in the past month I hosted a crazy-go-nuts New Year's party, I saw Sodom (one of my favorite bands ever, on which more later), Sonata Arctica, and the classic lineup of Anthrax. Pharaoh's album is mixed, mastered, and in manufacturing, to be released on February 21. And yet the thing that has roused me from my posting slumber is the recollection that in my wayward youth I spent all too much time transcribing and notating other musician's songs.

You see, back in the mid 90s, one of the things I did to pass the time was to maintain a couple fan-sites for metal bands that I felt were woefully underappreciated and underrepresented on the then-emerging web. The first band I did a site for was Sodom, a German thrash band who have been around since 1981 or thereabouts, and who are still going strong. The second band to whom I paid virtual tribute was Scanner, another German band, but this time a power metal combo. They're still around, but their last album was not so good, and their current status is somewhat in question.

One of the things, back then, that you'd commonly find on fan-sites for metal bands were guitar tabs (short for tablature, a half-assed musical notation system that doesn't require any actual musical understanding or the ability to read genuine music notation.) As an intrepid and motivated fan-siter, not to mention a reasonably able guitarist, I took it upon myself to transcribe some Sodom songs. As far as I know, there were no other Sodom tabs available online at the time. Sodom songs, at least from their golden period from 1986-1989, are not terribly difficult to play, and so they weren't very hard to transcribe. I never did bother to learn the solos, though. They're noisy and atonal, and frankly, too much trouble to transcribe.

Through the Sodom page I met a lot of other people doing the same thing as me, but for other bands. I helped a guy start up the first ever Kreator site. Another friend of mine was the first guy to put Rage up on the internet. Neither of these guys played guitar, so I offered to make some tabs for the bands they were representing. And once all these tabs got around, I started to get inquiries from guitarists who liked my tabs and wanted other songs done.

In this way, I ended up transcribing and, um, tablaturizing about a dozen songs. And owing to the immense greed of certain people, who think they can make a living selling advertising on webpages that centrally collect the free tabs on the internet made by fans, these tabs refuse to die, and are in fact quite easy to find. I was able to locate all but one of the tabs that I remember doing on a single site, even. In addition to the ones listed below, I seem to recall transcribing another song off Rage's End of All Days album, possibly the title track. I also did a Voivod song ("Psychic Vacuum," off the mindbending Dimension Hatröss), but I don't think I ever sent it to the guy that asked for it. That song was a bitch to learn, because Voivod's guitarist (the late Denis D'Amour, aka Piggy) used all sorts of weird diminished chords. I wonder if I still have that file somewhere on my computer at home?

So here it is, as comprehensive a list as I've been able to assemble of all the tablatures I've made that are still available on the internet. I am absolutely, 100% sure that every single one of these transcriptions is incorrect in some way, but as they say, you get what you pay for.

Posted by Matt at 03:27 PM | Comments (5)

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