April 28, 2006

Poor, Poor Max Planck

What a life. You found the field of quantum physics and this is the thanks you get?

After several happy years the Planck family was struck by a series of disasters: in October 1909 Marie Planck died, possibly from tuberculosis. In March 1911 Max Planck married his second wife, Marga von Hoesslin (1882-1948); in December his third son, Herrmann, was born.

During the First World War Planck's oldest son, Karl, was killed in action in Verdun, and Erwin had already in 1914 been taken prisoner by the French. Grete died in 1917 while giving birth to her first child; her sister lost her life two years later under the same circumstances, after marrying Grete's widower. Both granddaughters survived and were named after their mothers.
Planck endured all these losses with stoic submission to fate.

Finally in January 1945 Erwin, to whom Max Planck had been particularly close, was executed by the Nazis because of his participation in the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in July 1944.

Planck was hands down one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. He theorized that radiation could be released in quantums, or tiny packets, instead of the acceptable notion of

This lead directly into Einstein's explanation of light as a particle (photon) or as a wave. So, in quantum physics, radiation acts as both a particle and a wave, at the same time, and Planck helped bring this notion to the forefront.

Planck's constant, the h in E = hν (or 6.626 E-34 J -s), helps determine the relation of these energy packets to the frequency of radiation.

See? Get too smart and God will punish you.

Quote: Wikipedia

April 27, 2006

The Bottom Line: Tangible Steps Forward in Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The Bottom Line: Tangible Steps Forward in Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Just linking my article to The VG for posterity...

ANWR is a Cheap Date

Republicans are trying once again to sneak into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drill for our energy independence.

They snuck the latest push behind a bill that would refund motorists $100 for the recent gas price increase. Here we go again.

The area they want to drill is 1002, in the nothernmost area of ANWR, an area described as barren and desolate by most pro-drillers and as unique by most scientists.

In 2003, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton gave a speech trying to convince the House Committee of Resources that drilling in ANWR was a viable solution to our oil problems.

In the speech, the secretary states the following,

5% chance of 5.7 billion barrels in ANWR

95% chance of 16 billion barrels in ANWR

then tries to use a "mean" of 10.4 billion as a qualifier for this data:

10.4 billion barrels would supply "every drop of petroleum for the entire state of Arkansas for 144 years, Missouri for 71 years or South Dakota for 479 years."

First of all, I'm no statistician, but the mean from that set of projected data would not be standard, it would fall closer to the 95% mark. Second, Arkansas represents about 1% of our population. Third, according to anwr.org (a pro-drilling propaganda site), the maximum yearly capacity of the pipeline is only 2 million barrels of usable oil. It may last a certain number of years, but it will most certainly not release us from foreign dependence.

They can keep the damn $100.

The info is out there, and I wish more people would take the time to do a little research. The talking TV heads are not always reliable.

Ethanol and Your Feelings

I have been poking around on the internet for information about ethanol, and while most of the sites are boring MSDS clones - chemical encyclopedias - the best of the bunch by far are the chemistry professor sites. They just make me smile.

I imagine these professors sitting in front of their computer, books strewn all over the desk (so big they don't need to be dogearred) papers stacked haphazardly, squinting at the screen, switching noisily between the reactivity of aldehydes and an html code book, wife/husband on the phone calling about dinner ("I'll be home soon, I'm just finishing up some things."). The sheer dedication is endearing.

They spend their week teaching dumbed-down chemistry courses called "Chemistry and Your Feelings" to students who don't care, trying to relate to biology students by spritzing organic chem with biochemical principles like amino acids, and squeezing in whatever research in which they are personally interested.

And yet, they still find time to type up a cohesive, clear explanation of the facets of ethanol, like this one. The professor presents the facts very clearly, touching on the industrial and recreational uses of ethanol (fuel, alcoholic beverages). At the end of the page, he warns students about the dangers of drinking in college. All in all, I thought it was a good tie-in. :-)

Science professors catch a bad rap from students. Most see them as silly or off-putting or uncaring, but the reality is that they are none of the above. They love what they do, can't help that it is "hard," and want students to learn.

It just makes me smile.

April 23, 2006

Lost Wallets and Flaming Wreckage: Fall of Troy at the Ottobar

When Tom Erak hopped on the Ottobar stage, orange Grunge amp head under one arm, guitar in the other, he was irritated.

Tom, the lead singer of the Fall of Troy (FOT), plugged in, ran up and down the fretboard with long, nimble fingers, and signaled to bassist Tim Ward and drummer Andrew Forsman. The band broke straight into a bit of start-stop heavy staccato improv, which is usually a large part of their set.

This time, however, they only had about 15 minutes in which to play. Time was short.
After losing a wallet in Norfolk and sitting on I-95 for hours waiting for a burning hulk to be removed, the boys of FOT had missed their window to play the Ottobar in Baltimore, between Criteria and headliners Poison the Well. In fact, Poison was forced to play directly after Criteria while FOT sat in a van down on the highway.

Needless to say, Poison the Well was not ready. Understandably, the performance was a sleeper; the band looked like they had just rolled out of bed, and not in a fashionable kind of way, in a “We were up until 6 a.m. this morning driving” kind of way.

Poison only played two tracks off their latest (and most dynamic) release, 2003’s You Come Before You, kicking off the show with “Ghostchant” and later throwing in “Zombies Are Good For Your Health.” Most of the set, however, was filled with the snorecore Strife/Earth Crisis-replica hits of Opposite of December. The crowd was bored. The pit was sluggish.

Poison vacated the stage, and a giant Norseman of a bouncer announced FOT’s predicament to boos and screams of “Riot!” from the crowd. It seemed like most of the audience was there for FOT, not Poison the Well.

The scenesters were getting restless just as FOT broke onto the stage to raucous applause, cursing I-95.

FOT stole the show, dominating the stage with quick, insane proficiency, unabashed by the occasional imperfection, one of the cornerstones of rock and roll in the past.

Tom and bassist Tim Ward took a synchronized running leap into the supportive crowd during an instrumental break, clocking a couple of fans in the head with backs and guitar necks.

“We’re not trying to hurt anyone,” said Tom after the tune. “We’re just trying to get out and reach you.”

Tom Erak’s guitar powers are worthy of a show of their own. The power trio might be a little “out of fashion” right now, but FOT are poised to bring it back.

“Ghostship Part 4” from early FOT demos and “F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.” from Doppelganger closed off the erratic set, only about 15 minutes in, a disappointing end to a great little show.

“We didn’t have a set list,” said Tom outside after the show. “We were basically looking at security and they would tell us ‘Okay, play another one.’”

If you are not on board with FOT yet, get there. Pick up the Doppelganger disc, or download it from iTunes or Ruckus. FOT will be playing the Ottobar again in late June with He Is Legend and Showbread, so keep an eye out for tickets. Hopefully they’ll get to play a full set this time.

**Photo: Steph Thornton

April 22, 2006

A Short History of The Fall of Troy and Nearly Everything I Have to Do Today

The semester is winding down and I find myself less interested in what I am being taught, and more interested in things I want to teach myself. I'm currently reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, and despite his many critics (especially the scientific commmunity, he's written a good book thus far, but then again, I'm only 30 or so pages into it.

I just started a blog for The Bottom Line, where we can bounce around ideas whenever we want. I want it to be a window into our operation for the campus, to see what we really do, and what our writers are really thinking, sort of a living newspaper. Hopefully Frostburg State University will pay attention, it can only make us try harder.

I have to finish the Fall of Troy show review (which will be posted here very soon), by tonight, hopefully. Steph's transcribed interview with lead singer Tom Erak is huge, just under 2,000 words. I'm have to find a way to trim it while leaving the good bits, like the interplay between the two of them. She'll be a great music journalist one day if she sticks with it.

Well, I have editing to do.

April 19, 2006

Interesting Evolutionary Tidbits

Here's a couple interesting articles I found this evening.

Finches Provide Answer to Another Evolutionary Riddle in Scientific American and
Study Shows How Octopus, Ever the Impersonator, Turns Tentacle into Jointed Limb in Scientific American

Apparently, octopuses assume stiff, jointed tentacle formation when feeding, even though, as invertebrates, they can theoretically bend however they wish. A team of biologists, including Binyamin Hochner at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, did a study on the cause of the curious tendency, proposing that the stereotypical bend-point position for limbs is favorable from an evolutionary standpoint. The octopus has a near-infinite number of arm positions to deliver food to its mouth, but it sticks with an almost-human conformation. The original journal article can be found here, at The Journal of Neuroscience

The finch story is almost as interesting (cephalopods are one of my favorite topics), but almost purely from the amount of work that went into the study. University of Arizona scientists studied a mating population of 10,000 finches, finding that somehow females chose mates based on significant genetic differences from themselves, not purely from plumage, or in this case, a bright red breast.

Border Collie Found in Frostburg, MD

In the past two years, my girlfriend and I have rescued two lost, starving animals: a long-haired tabby and more recently, a border collie mix. Its both frustrating and saddening that people do not take better care of their animals.

Heather and I just spent an hour posting FOUND fliers all over campus and town. Hopefully, the dog's family comes forward, and it was just a big mistake. She escaped and they couldn't find her.

People's attitudes towards animals need to change. Animals deserve your respect and depend on you. They will love you no matter what, you can always turn to Lily or Thistle or Fido or Max for unconditional consolation. They have nothing to say but a wag of the tail or a rumble in the throat. They don't care what color you are or how you dress. They are unashamed of their nature. Animals don't need to justify their existance; they have no qualms about what they are. Humans could learn a few lessons from our evolutionary cousins.

Yeah, I'm being a bit sappy. I just wonder at the insensitivities of people.

April 18, 2006

Redefining Science

I want to wake up tomorrow not angry at Republican Conservative Christians.

I would be embarrassed to call myself conservative in 2006. Last November, the Kansas Board of Education redefined science in the elementary curriculum, leaving room, critics say, to insert creationist ideals. The definition was modified to exclude "natural explanations" of phenomena.

The six to four vote was a resounding Republican victory.

Decisions like these made under the influence of certain members of the Republican Party have been puzzling at the least to the rest of the world. In America, we have to debate whether or not to teach creationism or some facsimile (intelligent design) in the science classes of our public schools. In Europe, it is not even considered.

In fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev. Rowan Williams, seemed surprised that the question was even asked:

"Asked specifically whether creationism should be taught in schools, the archbishop responded, 'I don't think it should, actually.' But he added that opposing creationism in the curriculum was 'different from discussing, teaching about what creation means.'"*

The Archbishop is dead on; we are taking the risk of devaluing science and religion by trying to mix the two as substantial equals. They are not, and never have been, equal in this manner.

Let's clarify. Scientific theory is driven by evidence. Scientists do not, as Isaac Asimov sarcastically stated, wake up one morning after a night of drinking and say, "I have it!" without sufficient evidence to support the idea.

Take evolution. Evolution is a theory - a scientific idea supported by overwhelming evidence - that has been built from the original observations of Charles Darwin. In the 20th century, fossil evidence has shown, if nothing else, a move from less complex organisms to more complex, and even some clear transitional stages, such as the recent find of a prehistoric fish that showed a definite similarity to subsequent tetrapods. Finally, in the past few decades, genetics has supported evolution in the short run; the genes of the strongest survive, passing on to the next generation.

Evolution is a theory, not a path to righteousness.

Religion, on the other hand, is not based on hard evidence or fact; it is based on individual faith in a higher power or principle. Religion is a personal experience, reading the stories, identifying with scriptures, lifting the mind or spirit or soul or higher-self into a place where the world can be interpreted in spiritual terms.

When Christians pull on science to try to validate some of the physical claims in the Bible - Noah's Ark and the flood, Christian ancestry, "eyewitness accounts" of Christ's resurrection - they seek rebuttal and argument. Skeptics will never accept these ideas as fact, even if presented with "scientific evidence." Faith is the pillar supporting these events, not fact.

Does it really matter whether or not these events took place? If Jesus was not the Son of God, or even if he never existed, would it change the values of his teachings?

It seems to me politicians are preying upon the faithful, and painting the evolutionary scientist as heathen and blasphemer, just to snag the votes they need to stay in office. At the cost of advancement, they are willing to risk everything.

God says no abortion, and I agree. God says theology is science, and so do I. God says no gay marriage, and I'm with Him, aren't you?

Well, aren't you?

*From "Anglican Leader Says the Schools shouldn't teach Creationism" by Sarah Lyall, New York Times, March 22, 2006

Interview with "Moose" from Bullet for My Valentine

JB: You guys are gearing up for the second tour of the US, right?

BFMV: Yeah, me and the guys cant fucking wait to be back on tour in your country again.

JB: And thats starting in March?

BFMV: Yeah.

JB: How have you been preparing for the tour in the next couple months?

BFMV: Really the three Europe shows are a warm up for you guys. Weve been home for like, just under three weeks now and have been working on new songs for the next album.

JB: You are working on new material already?

BFMV: Yes, because we see our schedule up until December and January and theres no time. Were touring all the time. So we thought wed get more stuff done now. If were not working, were not happy.

JB: Hows the new stuff different?

BFMV: Its pretty much the same flavor, but I think its more in your face than the last record, more Judas Priest. Were not recording until December or January so hopefully well have another 10 songs to choose from, we have eight now. Its cool, man. Good British metal.

JB: Are there any cities in the U.S. youre looking forward to revisiting?

BFMV: Were looking forward to going to all of them New York, L.A. Every show and every venue is looked forward to; its a great country to be in and a great country to tour.

JB: Are you big fans of Rob Zombie?

BFMV: Yeah from White Zombie. Ive got a couple of his albums. Its going to be quite strange playing every night with one of the people youve listened to growing up (laughs).

JB: I can imagine.

BFMV: Yeah, after a week or so Ill kind of settle down, I guess.

JB: Is there any difference in the crowds in the UK and Europe and over here?

BFMV: We havent noticed any difference. The last show we did was a little 200-people-a-night venue. I think kids are kids in general, but this is a bigger tour and well see if theres any major difference. Well see what your country has to offer.

JB: Well, youre definitely gaining popularity over here.

BFMV: Cool, thats great! Yeah, [The Poison] was released on Valentines Day and sold over 10,000 copies in the first week so we were all like, fuck (laughs).

JB: Metal has become back in fashion, so to speak.

BFMV: Yeah, Ive loved metal since the age of 13 or 14 and its nice to see sort of the old school bands like us come back to life.

JB: And getting more respect too.

BFMV: Yeah.

JB: As a drummer what track was the greatest challenge on [The Poison]?

BFMV: Ah, the biggest challenge would probably have been God, Im sick of fucking playing it (laughs) Tears Dont Fall which is going to be the next single. Were flying into Miami a week early to do a video [for Tears Dont Fall] before we actually join the Rob Zombie tour.

From Piazzolla to Pop: Chicago’s NYCO tops Mayer and Johnson

Stop what youre doing right now. Turn off the tube, put the book down, walk out of class, and find a computer.

Go here: http://www.myspace.com/nycomusic. Click on Pissed Off. Keep listening. Fall in love.

Why the dramatics? Just a heads-up. Chicagos NYCO will be the next big thing to hit the charts. Their debut, Two, is easily the most pleasing rock/pop album to come out of 2005. Take Ben Folds, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer, and hang em out to dry. NYCO is what pop should be.

Ted Atkatz was principle percussionist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when he decided to take a year off and put his love of music in terms of creativity. The product? NYCO.

Two is creating an honest and soulful, uncomplicated yet far from insipid. Atkatz and company worked with Grammy-award winner and producer Jim Tullio for the bands debut.

Pissed Off takes on the mantle of a ballad, but Atkatzs cynical sincerity shatters the classification, declaring: she wants to be special to someone/shes been so pissed off since yesterday.

Atkatz had a few words for TBL:

JB: What were your responsibilities with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra?

TA: With the Chicago symphony, being a percussionist means playing a whole bunch of different instruments that starts with battery percussion, which would be bass drum and snare and cymbals. After that, accessories: tambourine, triangle, sleigh bells, and maracas. Then mallet percussion: vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel I could go on and on. Basically anything you can hit or strike.

JB: That covers a lot of territory.

TA: Yeah, it does.

JB: What was the spark that made you want to go on sabbatical and form NYCO?

TA: I had been doing a lot of songwriting for the past 4 or 5 years, and get together with a bunch of musicians and occasionally perform out. We wrote some music, recorded some music, but I felt that I needed to give the music a fair shake. I wanted to do it justice and spend as much time as I possibly could
I wanted to record the album and I knew I needed a significant amount of time off from work in order to do that and support the album with touring and promotion. I wanted to take a year off to do all that.

JB: How did you get NYCO together?

TA: Dave [Saenger, lead guitarist] was auditioning for a lot of different bands and we got our signals crossed at the rehearsal space. He waited outside and didnt meet us. He came across a couple of other bands outside the rehearsal space and auditioned for those bands. Luckily for us, he didnt like those bands.

Dave auditioned for us later. Most people would just say screw you. It worked out because he was patient with us.

I found Devin [Staples] when we were playing in another band I was playing keys and singing background vocals, he was playing drums.

Kells is a former bass student of Rob Kassinger also from the Chicago Symphony. [Rob] was in the first incarnation of the band, and recommended Kells to me for NYCO.

JB: How is the transition from orchestra to rock band?

TA: The biggest difference is in the orchestra youre playing in a large ensemble, youre one of a hundred people, and playing in NYCO, Im one of four people. So the basic difference is really orchestra music versus chamber music. You have a more active role as a chamber musician.

JB: When you write your music, what do you draw on?

TA: Two is about relationships between two people, some autobiographical, some loosely based. A lot of [Two] is about a longing for change in a relationship or a reflection on what didnt work.

Now the music has taken a different shape, some of it is a bit more party music, sometimes comical, sometimes sociopolitical in ways. With this band, I felt its inspired a more comical take on lifes situations.

JB: How did you get started in music?

TA: My father told my brother and I to pick an instrument when we were kids and I started listening to my parents Beatles albums. I was really into Ringo Starr, and I thought, thats what I want to do. I picked drums.

JB: And then you went on to college for music?

TA: I just used it to get scholarship money. I thought I wanted to be either a psychologist or a lawyer.

JB: What happened to that?

TA: I think I started realizing that it was possible to make a career in music and make a living doing it. I went back to college and got my masters studying with a professor who prepared his students for orchestral auditions and winning a job in an orchestra.

JB: Do you think formal musical training is important?

TA: A lot of my favorite artists had no formal training. Its a blessing and a curse. You gain technical facilities and theoretical knowledge and it is important to go to school, but then again, certain things cant really be taught. The emotional qualities of music cant be represented in a classroom. The best musicians are drawing upon emotional states and reflections of their lives in order to transfer it into something thats emotionally powerful.

JB: How do you make the distinction when youre trying to be creative when you have this background of technical musical knowledge? Do you consider it a resource or a hindrance?

TA: The thing that people relate to with new music is the overall feeling or shape and a lot of times the technical things that are important to musicians are completely irrelevant to the listener. In listening to some of the greatest bands the [Rolling] Stones, Velvet Underground the whole vibe is loose and sloppy, but thats what gives it charm. So, a lot of times you just have to throw caution to the wind and say, I dont really care if someone says he has bad technique, the important thing is getting the right mood and feeling. You almost have to undo some of the lessons that youve learned with your formal training so you can get to a more raw, powerful emotional state in music.

JB: How was it working with Jim Tullio?

TA: It was great. Hes a Pro Tools master. He was one of the first people to take up Pro Tools in the early 90s. Tape is still great, but most every album we listen to now is recorded digitally. [Tullio] worked so quickly and yet he has the great ears of a great musician. He was really responsive to what the band was feeling in terms of the direction of the music. He has many years of experience producing great artists and yet he treated us as if our opinions actually mattered, which was great (laughs).

JB: What does the future hold? Are you guys coming to the east coast?

TA: Were getting the dates together for another east coast tour in May. If you guys will come hear us, we should probably play there. Were having the most fun playing college towns and colleges.

We actually got out to the east coast last March and just had a great experience finding different audiences and the way they behave. The New York audience is in there with their arms folded, waiting to be impressed. It was great because they actually listened whereas Chicago and the Midwest crowds are just trying to get through their pint to the next drink, which can also be fun, but it was different sort of playing experience. We definitely want to have that experience again and try to reach some new fans along the way.

Were really into recording the next incarnation of the band. I think its changed a lot from what it was. [Two] is a collection of songs that Ive written over the past 4 years. The next album will be stuff that the band has written together, starting with my ideas, but morphing into what the band comes up with. Im really eager to get the four of us in the studio.

Were hoping to [record] in the late spring or early summer and tour and support the next album. Were excited about that.

Stay ahead of the crowd. Check out NYCO at http://www.myspace.com/nycomusic or http://www.nycomusic.com.

Dissecting the 911 hoax e-mail/bulletin; Why its dead wrong.

Okay guys, read through this, let it sink in real good... and then I'll tell you why its wrong:


Body: this is some creepy shit just read itll blow your mind

1) New York City has 11 letters

2) Afghanistan has 11 letters.

3) Ramsin Yuseb (The terrorist who threatened to destroy the Twin
Towers in 1993) has 11 letters.

4) George W Bush has 11 letters.

This could be a mere coincidence, but this gets more interesting:

1) New York is the 11th state.

2) The first plane crashing against the Twin Towers was flight number

3) Flight 11 was carrying 92 passengers. 9 + 2 = 11

4) Flight 77 which also hit Twin Towers, was carrying 65 passengers.
6+5 = 11

5) The tragedy was on September 11, or 9/11 as it is now known. 9 + 1+ 1 = 11

6) The date is equal to the US emergency services telephone number
911. 9 + 1 + 1 = 11.

Sheer coincidence..?! Read on and make up your own mind:

1) The total number of victims inside all the hi-jacked planes was
254. 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.

2) September 11 is day number 254 of the calendar year. Again 2 + 5 + 4
= 11.

3) The Madrid bombing took place on 3/11/2004. 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 11.

4) The tragedy of Madrid happened 911 days after the Twin Towers

Now this is where things get totally eerie:

The most recognised symbol for the US, after the Stars & Stripes, is
the Eagle. The following verse is taken from the Quran, the Islamic
holy book:

"For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle.
The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo,
while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced: for
the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah and there was

That verse is number 9.11 of the Quran.

Still uncovinced about all of this..?! Try this and see how you feel
afterwards, it made my hair stand on end:

Open Microsoft Word and do the following:

1. Type in capitals Q33 NY. This is the flight number of the first
plane to hit one of the Twin Towers.

2. Highlight the Q33 NY.

3. Change the font size to 48.

4. Change the actual font to the WINGDINGS

What do you think now?!!
try this it will def fuck with u


Why this is a hoax:

..1: Sura 9, ayat 11 (Chapter 9, verse 11) of the Qur'an states the following:

"But if they repent and keep up prayer and keep up the porrate, they are your brethren in faith; and we make the communications clear for a people who know."

It has nothing to do with an eagle or any sort of predictions. In fact, the chapter is Allah's teaching on dealing with ancient idol-worshippers. But the author is counting on the fact that most Americans do not have a copy of the Qur'an handy. And he's right, most do not.

But isn't it insulting and detracting to Muslims everywhere? What kind of hell would the person get if he/she decided to misquote the Bible? God forbid, right?

..2: There was no "Flight Q33 NY." The flight ..'s were AA11, AA77, UA93, and UA 175.

..3: When you transfer the characters Q33NY into wingdings, you get the following:

Q = a plane
3 = a skyscraper (x 2, remember)
N = the star of david
Y = skull & crossbones

So, you get 9/11 "spelled out," like its some sort of code. What a load of bull. The symbol of Islam is not the Star of David; the Star is a Jewish symbol.

Don't believe everything you read! Remain skeptical, even if it fits your existing beliefs. I think its sad that people will actually buy this stuff. Its all coincidence. Every good gambler and statistician knows that numbers can manipulated to express whatever best suits one's purpose. It was a good try, I'll give ' em that.

Avenged Sevenfold Unpublished Concert Pics

The interview with A7X fizzled out for The Bottom Line, but we got some great pics, published here for the first time.
Photos taken by Heather Ravenscroft, @ the 9:30 Club, Washington DC, 1.29.06.

San Fran's Tenebre finds significance through instrumental rock

For three years now, the members of San Francisco three-piece Tenebre have been balancing a full college load with what is becoming a full-time career in music. The band has steadily gained popularity in the Bay Area, and keeps busy, bringing their heady brand of jazz-inspired rock to the people.

Tenebre is anything but murky, as the band's name implies. Even without a leading vocalist, the theme of each song is clear, flawlessly transitioning leads from instrument to instrument.

The band is able to find a groove within the context of beauty without pretension or tang, weaving a tight net of double bass, warm guitar fuzz, and complex kit rhythms.

"A Shocking Twist" falls away about a minute in, taking the from the math-exactitudes of odd times to the slow nod of six-eight. "Cricket" employs the lows of cello to complement the sweet threes of Max Foreman's reverberating guitar.

"Libelle" is complex, a musical dialogue of guitar and bass, circling back and forth, finding common ground, and splashing through transitions to variations.

Tenebre has recently signed on to release a full-length, In Everything Give Thanks, this coming summer through Berkeley, CA's Unfun Records. A tour of the country will support the release.

Max Foreman (guitar), Daniel Pearce (drums), and Patrick Taylor (bass) from Tenebre recently took a few minutes to chat with TBL.

Did you all grow up in San Francisco?

Hell yes. Rep!

Has the San Fran area influenced the music? In what way?

Daniel: San Francisco alone is a great place for young and independent musicians because it manages to cultivate an artistically receptive social climate without becoming oppressively competitive or exclusive. New York City, for example, is a place in which there is an inordinate amount of artistic activity, yet it is characterized by a large number of tightly knit networks of musicians and aficionados that are impossible to insert yourself into. The Bay isn't plagued by this kind of exclusivity, yet it still contains plenty of people who are interested and involved.

Was Tenebre destined to be instrumental or did the pieces just fall into place, so to speak?

Max: When Daniel and I started writing the first Tenebre songs, before Patrick was even in the band, I don't think we had seriously considered a singer. We had always been a two-piece and were fine being minimal and self-sufficient. In the few months before we asked Patrick to play upright for us, our songs were mostly an attempt at playing techy rock music with odd time signatures, without any real aesthetic. The pieces really "fell into place" when we realized that playing our songs and exerting a kind of tension, breaking a sweat, was something significant.

Patrick: After I joined, there was talk about finding a singer to round out the band. But by the time we had our first songs down, we hadn't auditioned anybody to sing for us, and as we kept developing musically, the prospect of getting a singer seemed less and less needed for our sound. As of now, we are very content with an instrumental sound. I feel like a singer would have a hard time creating yet another register and successfully cut through.

The stand-up sounds so, so sweet especially on "Libelle." Patrick, have you always played the double? What do you think it lends to Tenebre's sound?

Patrick: I actually started playing acoustic bass about four years after having played electric. Initially, I was a little concerned about the acoustic for Tenebre. There were a few factors, including the question of "am I going to schlep this thing around to every show?" I was also nervous about the idea of traveling on tour with such a fragile instrument. But the acoustic has been a very good idea.

It gives a unique counter melodic sound to the guitar An acoustic bass has inherently less sustain than an electric, creating a more natural tone. I can play with more movement and avoid a muddy sound.

I read that you will be releasing an EP, and then a full-length, then going on tour. Tell me about the EP/LP.

Max: Our EP was a tour split with The Autumn Project from Iowa. Our side was four songs from the old sessions. We don't yet know if it will see a proper release, but we're hoping it will one day. The Autumn Project is a great band and we would like to see our split with them be available some day to the general public.

The full length, which we recorded in August, was written and structured mostly in my bedroom in Santa Cruz while Daniel and Patrick lived in New York and San Francisco. When Daniel and Patrick got back to San Francisco after extended vacations in late June and early July, we drilled the shit out of the new songs for three weeks, toured with the material for two weeks, practiced for three days, and recorded all of it in four sessions.

The full length is in the process of getting prepped for release. Hopefully we'll get it out by spring. Keep your eyes peeled.

Will you hit the East Coast on tour?

Max: Probably in the summer.

Check out cuts from Tenebre's upcoming album at www.tenebremusic.com or on the band's Myspace page: www.myspace.com/tenebre.

Induce: the Wondersounds of Cycle

It is hard to come across a mainstream hip-hop album that isn't 24 tracks for the attention deficit: intro, outro, 10 digital perfect songs complete with hook, 3 joke songs about butts and boobs, and 9 worthless skits (is this hip-hop or a comedy act?) all smattered in a loose framework that makes it appear to be a concept.

Miami Deejay/producer/emcee Induce doesn't have to rely on appearances. His debut LP, Cycle, is conceptualized competently from beginning to end, and back to beginnings.

"[My music] is personal and emotional," says Induce. "That is why I chose to make my first album less of an extravaganza and more of a concept."

The main album consists of 10 tracks; six main songs and four ambient tracks, taking the listener through fluid trek, the literal cycle of Induce's creation. Three extra tracks are included at the end, "a little something extra" for the listener.
Cycle is ethereal, using voice as a layer instead of a focus, a refreshing change from the artless egomaniacal salesmanship of 50 Cent and his clones.

Induce gathered his friends in music for Cycle, recording original tracks of drums, horns, and keys to sample from, giving the album a pure, organic feel.
"Call" flows sweetly, blending light touches of Rhodes with the trails of vintage trumpets and flute a la Traffic.

In "Coltrane's Brain (The Rebirth)" Induce invokes the 1960's jazz genius Farrell "Pharaoh" Sanders, creating a stratum of velvet piano, wooden bass, and sharp hints of breakbeat. The result was so satisfying, he reprised "Coltrane's Brain" on track 9, the aptly named "Rebirth's Reprise."

"I couldn't just leave it an instrumental. The beat just needed an MC," he says.
The emcee gracing the track is Induce, he admits modestly. "[emceeing] is where I started, and I still have it in me. I like writing."

Induce has always been influenced by forward-thinking hip-hop groups like Miami-based The All and much-missed A Tribe Called Quest.
"I always wonder what an artist felt while composing a song," says Induce. "What was it like when Q-tip, Ali Shaheed, and Phife listened to Midnight Marauders as a finished whole? What does it feel like to record an album solely for your own listening?"

His hometown was an influence. Miami has a history of musical independence, unique funk, disco, and Miami bass. He helped create the indy label Counterflow, which was responsible in part for forging the current network of hip-hop in Miami.

"We were like, 'let's do it ourselves, let's do this for real,'" he says.
Induce has since moved to another label of his creation, Wondersound, upon which Cycle was released.

He has a couple of future releases coming up, including Antennae, a project consisting of Deejays Induce and Maneuvers on drum pads, and MC Stres on the mic. The Exit LP was released on Botanica del Jibaro in Japan; Induce will be bringing the LP to the States in the near future.

Induce's next project is half finished; he has beats laid out for a new album and plans to MC the entire album himself.

He finished a tour of Europe in September 2005, spinning in major cities like Barcelona, Spain, and is currently setting up a tour of the U.S. East Coast with several other deejays. Right now, he says, he is concentrating on finding radio play. Recently, Induce secured the #13 spot on 90.9 FM, CJSW, University of Calgary.

Tracks from both Cycle and Exit are available on Induce's Myspace account, myspace.com/induce1. Purchasing information is located there or at wondersound.com, his record label's webpage.

Induce keeps busy and stays positive about the future of hip-hop. He hopes to contribute in bringing the art of hip-hop back into to the limelight

"You know, it wasn't that the music has changed," he says. "Its that the people in power changed the music."

One project of hundreds: Ris Paul Ric’s Purple Blaze

Before Washington DC’s own Q and Not U disbanded this year, singer/guitarist Chris Richards wrote an entire acoustic album in his bedroom. When the trio parted ways, Richards put the album to disc and adopted the moniker Ris Paul Ric, a play on his full name: Ch[Ris] Paul [Ric]hards.

“Run Up Wild on Me” is the highlight of Purple Blaze. Richards’ falsetto is satisfying, firmly propped by bass slides and pops speed strummed suspended riffs, sung with tart hints of imperfection.
The album has three ambient tracks, two of which are almost reprises of the title track and “Daft Young Cannibals,” the somnambulant conclusion to Purple Blaze. Withonly one song out of twelve over four minutes, the entire album is fairly accessible, even to those with the greatest attention deficit.

Does it sounds like QANU? Not quite, its soft and compelling, pulling the punch of his previous project, but no less interesting. Many reviewers are calling it “psyche folk,” yet another awful label that does not quite fit.

Richards took a few to chat about Purple Blaze and the solo tour.

Chris, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. I know the album
was not completely solo, but the tour is. Tell me a bit about touring solo. Any highlights, disappointments, surprises?

It was the most challenging tour of my life - that's for sure. I wanted to isolate myself (literally and musically) to test my energy and desire to play music. The tour was exhausting, but I still felt like I wasn't finished when I got back to DC. So in that sense, it was a real success. But yeah, it's really hard from playing sold-out shows with your old rock band to playing for three disinterested dudes at a bar in the Midwest. But those rough nights made the good shows all the sweeter.

How was playing the Black Cat? Did it feel like homecoming?

Actually, no. I felt horrible that night - like I couldn't spark anything with the audience. I wondered about halfway through the set, "Where are all my friends?" and then it kind of dawned on me how many of my friends had left for other cities in the recent years. DC is a really a conduit city for a lot of people, so looks like I need to make some new friends!

Have you played any colleges on tour?

Nope, just college towns. Charlottesville, VA was the first stop on the trip and it was one of my favorite shows of the trip. Intimated and interested.

Purple Blaze is definitely a musical gear shift from Q And Not U, but its not an unrealistic one. If you were to introduce the album to someone who never heard your music, how would you get the idea across?

I think music should always speak for itself. I know a lot of people want to perceive this through the lens of my old group, but in the end, the songs are the songs. They have to stand up on their own two.

Were all the songs on Purple Blaze meant for a side project?

Yes, but I think the words "side project" always sound diminutive. It was just another project. I would have 100 projects going if I had enough hours in the day.

Is Ris Paul Ric a “permanent” project for you?

Permanent, like until I'm 80 years old? I don't know about that! But I really enjoy playing music alone and collaborating with others. I think it would be really great to keep it going, if only to ventilate my own creative furnace from time to time.

What are your plans for the future? Is there anything concrete?

Right now I'm playing more Ris shows over the cold months and starting a new band when I'm at home. But the future is always wide open.

My Bloody Forehead: 8 Melodies from Tera Melos

Just the term instrumental music makes most people cringe when they hear it, and its obvious why; popular music in the 20th century is almost devoid of the genre. In fact, we look to the lead singer to provide us with the image of a certain band, to be the physical manifestation of music.
Tera Melos wants the music to represent itself; with a sharp kick to the head.
Sacramentos singerless four-piece defies the world to place them, fusing improvisational jazz with elements of break-beat techno and hardcore, the Sacramento spits the fury of hardcore punk while maintaining the elegance and control of a well-trained jazz quartet.
Tera Melos self-titled debut consists of 8 tracks; each track imaginatively dubbed Melody and numbered one through eight. By far the most dynamic of these is Melody 5, progressing from brick walled staccatos to on the nose stops, to fluid ambient jazz runs accented by quick, careful cymbal-play.
The frenzy of chunky, drum driven riffs and off-beat breaks into complex guitar noodling comes to a reluctant head about 5 minutes in, where an amp fizzles out and melts into a scratchy break-beat over sweetly distorted keyboard arpeggios.
The bands challenge is obvious: how do you get people to listen as an instrumental? Tera Melos answers in spades. The music in its purity and rawness is the catalyst, drawing the ears of both post-punks and classicists.
The band had a few words for FSU last week:

What made you decide to skip a vocalist? It seems nowadays people want more whine and hair gel for their buck.

Actually we searched for a singer for quite sometime before we started playing shows. We tried out a handful, but no one's interpretations of our songs seemed to be adding anything to the music, which was most important. At this point we aren't actively looking for a vocalist but we're still open to the idea. Also, our record does contain vocals that were carefully placed and used as a layering tool or another instrument instead of typical words placed over two-and-a-half-minute pop songs.

How long has Tera Melos as it is now been together?

We've been writing music as a band for nearly two years. We've been playing shows for just over one year now.

I read that this is the bands first CD release ever. How was the studio experience vs. live performance?

Recording our musical ideas to tape that would eventually be available to other people was a incredible experience for us. We worked with a rad engineer from Sacramento that goes by the name of Eric Broyhill (!!!, Zao, Knapsack).
Our live show is a very different entity. There is lots of improvisation in regards to song structure and transition. We're a very raw band; our instruments get broken, gear malfunctions, guitars go out of tune, people get hurt on occasion, but that's been what our live show is about from day one. All of these elements help to solidify us as an extremely personal and "human" band.

Are you guys tired after all that touring? Would you make a stop in Frostburg on a Thursday night sometime? There tends to be about 5000 bored college students bar hopping all evening on any given Thursday or Friday night.

We'd love to come play you're town. College towns have been rad to us. We thrash on them and in return we get beer showers.

I just watched someone's head gash opening and closing on your Myspace account. Tell me about your live shows/the upcoming DVD release.

Live shows really need to be experienced first hand. There has been many a strange occurrence when we are playing these songs in a live environment.
We would love to release a DVD documentation of our band at some point. It's in the stars, but not a main priority right now.

There are definitely some complicated melodies/rhythms going on with Tera Melos. Two of you were in a improv jazz class together? Who would you consider to be influences?

Three of us took semesters of jazz improv classes. Jazz concepts have most definitely played a big part in the character of this band.
Ultimately any piece of music we have ever heard, good or bad, has in some way or another influenced the stuff we write. Be it the radio, movie soundtracks, commercials, other bands, etc. etc.- all of it has shaped the way we interpret/create music.
As far as bands go, we don't really have any specific influences. We weren't sitting around listening to (insert band name) one day and thought, "Hey we really like this band, let's start a band that sounds just like them."

And the moral of the Tera Melos story?

Ultimately, we're going to have fun doing what we want to do. We really enjoy pushing the envelope of what we are capable of with sound and hope that people can relate to our musical concepts- we have no political or social agendas; our focus is solely on our music. We would also like to make this band as interactive as humanly possible, so feel free to dance, freak out, attack us, make up words to our songs, design DIY t-shirts, make flyers, kill or create something while listening to our music, etc, etc; anything your little heart desires.

Between the Glass: Mic Todd from Coheed and Cambria

Bassist Michael Todd gave TBL a few minutes on the bus pre-show to chat about the new album outside the Sonar Lounge in Baltimore on November 5th.

Mike Todd: Mind if I smoke?

Jeremy Bruno: Not at all. How are you?

MT: Good. Chillin’.

JB: How’s the tour going?

Tour’s going great, man. It’s almost winding down. Then we go to Hawaii then Europe, then Europe again, and then I don’t know… yeah.

Where in Europe are you guys playing?

I think we’re just doing a couple of dates in the U.K. for like a week, week and a half in December, then we’re going to do a bunch of radio shows in the States again. And then we’re doing all of Europe with Thrice for six weeks at the beginning of January.

You are playing with a bunch of diverse bands (Mewithoutyou, The Blood Brothers, Dredg), is that affecting your fan base? Are there fans coming out that wouldn’t ordinarily listen to Coheed and Cambria?

Perhaps. We like to tour with an eclectic mix of bands, and also big bands that we love and try to get them some new fans if we can. So, who knows? Maybe somebody came out to see Dredg because they were a long time fan, and said, I never heard Coheed, maybe I’ll stick around and check them out. We like to make a good show, a good mix of different shit.

If you were to introduce the band to people who hadn’t heard of you, how would you describe Coheed and Cambria?

It’s rock music. We try to emphasize songwriting and musicianship a lot and less on more superficial things that are so prevalent in rock and roll today. Its rock and roll. Its progressive.

“Progressive” seems to be the most popular term used to describe Coheed and Cambria. Is that something that you are comfortable being?

Yeah, I think it makes sense. I mean, I consider Led Zeppelin a progressive rock band. I think its anything that sits outside the standard mold of a pop rock song: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, out.

Good Apollo is split in two parts: the first 11 tracks and then the four tracks at the end called “The Willing Well.” What was the intent in splitting the album in distinct sections?

It has a lot to do with the track of the story that Claudio’s writing, so it chronologically works, and also when we sit down and think about how the songs go in order we vibe it through and through and it seemed like the right way to go with this one. There’s definitely a separation. It reminds me of old cassettes where you had an A-side and a B-side, like Ritual de lo Habitual from Jane’s Addiction, where you have all the ten-minute songs like “Three Days.”

Speaking of the story, when you guys get down to writing songs together how much impact does Claudio’s story have on the music?



For me and the rest of the band. When we sit down to structure songs, we take the music as it is. We don’t take the story into mind too much when we’re tracking or orchestrating our parts around whatever Claudio’s has, whatever anyone has. Yeah, the story doesn’t really affect the outcome of the music. We write the same way we did before the story.

How about the whole Rush thing?

I’m not much a Rush fan. None of us really are, really. I started listening to Rush when people started calling us Rush. I was like, well, I guess I should check this shit out.

Is it just Claudio’s voice?

A lot of it is the voice and the fact that its progressive and a concept. Its very easy to someone to pigeonhole us and say, “Oh, high voice – Rush!”

That has to get irritating for a while.

It almost did (laughs). I was like, f*ck it, yeah we sound like Rush, whatever. They obviously don’t listen to music very much.

How do you think your playing has changed over the course of the last three albums?

Well, I know for a fact that we’ve gotten way better. And more importantly, we’ve learned how to play off each other as a band. Josh and I are almost telepathic now. It translates perfectly whether we’re on stage or writing a song in the studio. Little kicks come up here and there and everyone’s like, “Oh shit, that’s hot, let’s do it.” But without going overboard,we try to keep it classy. I think out playing together is more… musical. I don’t really know how else to describe it.

Do you feel that musicality is something lacking in popular music?

Yeah. It has its high points with a certain band or certain song, but for the most part its just like, Jesus Christ, man. There’s never going to be rock gods again, so we can just forget about that right now. We’re just going to keep getting better and play the best we can and hopefully have a career for as long as we can.

What is the next album? Have you started any work while you’re touring?

No, just jammin’ out during sound check once in a while, nothing solid. Good Apollo just came out so we’re still getting comfy with the new songs and playing them out live. A lot of songs from the new album we haven’t even taken out of the box yet on stage. Hopefully in a year we’ll go back in the studio and do another one.

That will be Volume 2?

Yeah, that’ll be Volume 2 of part 4.

And after Volume 2? Any plans that far ahead?

That’s when we go to part one, which conceptually takes place when [the characters] Coheed and Cambria are adolescents. And that will be the end of the story. After that, there’s no answer to what will happen next. Who knows? We might get tired and go home, we might do another story, we might start a new band; we’ll hopefully keep playing.

Hello Apollo. Where Should I Begin?

November 5th, 2005: 7 p.m. The Sonar Lounge, Baltimore.
The stage crackled with streaks of lightning splintering through a thick red fog. The crowd was jam-packed in the low-ceilinged warehouse, fixated, waiting for that first thundering chord, waiting for Coheed & Cambria to take the stage.
The band is currently touring in support of Good Apollo Im Burning Star IV, Volume 1: Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, their latest release on Equal Vision/Columbia records.
The whole crowd was fired up, buzzing with excitement. A chant of Coheed, Coheed was taken up and joined by preppies and punks, prepubescents and parents. The sheer diversity of the bands fanbase was staggering.
Star Wars! someone screamed, inciting a burst of laughter from nerds-in-the-know; Co & Ca is not your typical band. The music is actually a soundtrack to a sci-fi adventure that singer Claudio Sanchez has created revolving around Coheed and Cambria, the two main characters of his story. Sanchez has joked on occasion that the only groupies that the band gets are kids wanting to chat about movies and comic books.
The sweeping strings of Co & Cas theme, Keeping the Blade, filled the Sonar Lounge, met with a roar of cheers. Sanchez finally emerged alone, wielding his double-bladed Gibson SG, finger picking the opening to Good Apollos ominous second track, Always & Never. Lighters were raised and the concert became a sing-along. Everyone around knew the words, and shouted them gleefully at the wooly-headed Sanchez.
The rest of the band slowly eked out on stage, taking up their instruments and slamming immediately into the Zeppelin-esque Welcome Home, followed by Ten Speed (Of Gods Blood & Burial), the only song, to my knowledge, about a demon bicycle.
They cycled through the crowd favorites from all three releases, including Devil in Jersey City, A Favor House Atlantic, and Blood Red Summer, a track reprised briefly on the new album amid The Willing Well: Apollo II: The Telling Truth.
Midway through the set, an elated male fan screamed, I love you at Sanchez while the frontman cooed Good Apollos only ballad, Wake Up.
Theres nothing like hearing a guy scream I love you on stage, said Sanchez afterwards. But man, I dont swing that way.
Co & Cas musicianship is apparent; bassist Mike Todd and drummer Josh Eppard snapped every song to grid with taut precision. Watching Sanchez and guitarist Travis Stever trade licks on Welcome Home took the crowd back a few decades, where guitar solos were a staple of rock music.
Co & Ca fled the stage after Everything Evil, only to retake the stage amid cries of Encore! The band answered the call with In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, their previous albums title track, and finished with The Final Cut, the solo-heavy closer from Good Apollo.
Mewithoutyou, Dredg, and The Blood Brothers opened for Co & Ca, All three openers shined, especially the ethereal Dredg; they will be doing an interview sometime in the near future with TBL.
If you havent heard Co & Ca yet, check out their homepage for streaming music videos or their myspace account to hear a couple tracks from the new album.
Check out some photos from the show, taken by Erin Miller, design editor at TBL.

About this Site

The name of this blog refers to the ion channels (voltage-gated) that line the membranes upon which nerve impulses travel. They open and close according to electrical signaling, allowing the movement of ions across the membrane in order to continue the impulse, the action potential, the pulse of information.

I explore a cross section of ecology, evolution, genetics, natural history and journalism here at The Voltage Gate. If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave them on an appropriate thread, or if you want to contact me directly, please e-mail me at thevoltagegate [at] gmail [dot] com.

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About the Author

I am a non-traditional biology/writing major working through my senior year; before I went back to school, I spent several years in the hospitality industry as a baker/cook.

I am also the editor in chief of FSU's student newspaper, The Bottom Line. I have been science blogging at The Voltage Gate for about seven months now; the blog became a weekly science column in the newspaper under the same name.

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The Voltage Gate

Hi. Welcome. I suppose I should introduce myself.

My name is Jeremy, I am a non-traditional biology student at Frostburg State University, a small college in the western mountains of Maryland.

Though my degree is in bio, I am really pursuing a career in writing. I am the managing editor of The Bottom Line FSU's underfunded, understaffed indy student newspaper, where I fufill not only the role of manager and copy editor, but also the role of science, music, pop-culture and political writer.

The Voltage Gate refers to the ion channels (voltage-gated) that line the membranes upon which nerve impulses travel. They open and close according to the electrical impulses traveling along neurons, allowing the movement of ions across the membrane in order to continue the impulse, the action potential, the pulse of information.