Friday, December 10, 2010

Sources of Inspiration: Music

Photography and lolita both require a heavy dollop of creativity just as a matter of course. I find a lot of inspiration from many different sources, but I'm incredibly fond of having music going in the background when I'm working on things. It makes the time pass more quickly, and gets the juices flowing.

The only time I'm not listening to music is when I'm talking to someone, because that's just rude.

I recently rearranged my furniture in order to plug an old, broken laptop into my stereo. It makes things really convenient, as I can turn on Pandora and let it run without having to get up to change CDs the way that I used to. Since I'm also fond of a wide variety of genres, Pandora is a great option for finding new music to listen to. I'm sure that most of the internet is aware of its existence already, but if you don't have an account with Pandora and are looking for some new tunes, I highly recommend their service.

In this entry, I'm going to talk a bit about music I like to listen to when I'm working!

Now, I'm not very musical, so please forgive my bumbling when it comes to the technical stuff. I'm only going to cover three bands for this entry, and may do a few more in the future if the fancy strikes me. These are just three bands that I've been listening to a lot of lately!

Hope you enjoy!

Band Name: Orphaned Land
Genre: Metal/Folk fusion
Suggested Songs: Birth of the Three, Building the Ark

I got into this band only recently thanks to my boyfriend. He took me to see a concert of theirs as a special treat for my birthday. The venue was tiny, but the crowd and band both were absolutely amazing.

Orphaned Land is an Israeli band that blends middle-eastern folk instruments and traditional choir work in with metal drum and vocal work. Their music explores the balance of light and dark, the proliferation of the positive aspects of life, and also delves into the nature of the conflict between the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).

The only way I can describe their music is "celebratory"; when you go to one of their shows, they're constantly smiling and dancing, and always encouraging the audience to sing along with them. In response, the audience jumps around, dances, and sways as well as the typical head-banging. It was probably one of the most lively and enthusiastic crowds I've been a part of that didn't show even a hint of violence.

Because of where they were raised, and when, this band has an intensely strong desire to promote peace and understanding between cultures, which is the message that they carry like a banner to every city they visit. They strive to inspire brotherhood and friendship throughout the world, and so far seem to be doing a pretty good job.

Band Name: Yousei Teikoku (Fairy Empire)
Genre: Visual kei/Metal/Jpop/I-don't-even-know-anymore
Suggested Songs: Hades: The Bloody Rage, Noble Roar

I first encountered this band when I saw Innocent Venus. They did the opening song for the series, Noble Roar. I didn't get into them right then, but I did enjoy the song. I encountered them a few years later, when I came across Yui, their vocalist.

Yui occasionally wears lolita in their promotional videos, and also wears a sort of "dolly" goth style when they perform.

Their sound is something that takes a bit of getting used to, if you haven't listened to much Japanese music. Yui has a very typically Japanese singer's voice. It's a bit on the breathy side and rather girlish. If you had to ask me to give a scale of "lolita" performers, it would go like so:

(Low end) Kana, Kokusyoku Sumire, Nana Kitada, Kanon Wakeshima, Yousei Yui (High end)

She isn't the best singer in the world, but her voice makes an interesting counterpoint to the often frenzied instrumentals. She also doesn't make my ears ache the way Kana's screeching does, so that's a huge plus.

Speaking of the actual music, the instrumental passages are pretty heavy, with really rapid-fire drum beats. They are capable of more "pop" sounds, however, and have done a number of gentle ballads. They recently shifted from a drumming machine to a live musician, so I'm eager to hear how he holds up to their original compositions. They also added a new bassist to their number, and will be doing a tour of Japan shortly.

Band Name: Epica
Genre: Power/Progressive/Death Metal
Suggested Songs: Unleashed, Sancta Terra, the Classical Conspiracy (Live album)

I found Epica half by accident, and half by suggestion. I found the vocalist of the band, Simone Simons, from another band I love (Kamelot), with whom she frequently collaborates. 

Simone is a classically trained soprano, and the band overall is incredibly talented. The reason I like them so much has to do with how they play the music against Simone, and Simone against the music. They back her voice with death grunts and growls, deep, fast bass lines and really intense choral vocals. It's a really interesting combination, because she invariably soars in and out of the rest of the music, playing with and dominating the other track elements without being overpowering.

Compared to similar vocalists, she also is much more confident in her actual singing. I find that a lot of bands which attempt to do similar things with their music choose someone who is too breathy and insubstantial. Simone's voice is powerful, and she has amazing stamina in live performances.

I recently streamed a concert of theirs, and was incredibly impressed by her voice. Often, live performances don't hold up unless you're there in person, because the sound quality shows every mistake in pitch and tone. The show, however, was flawless.



I'm a big fan of Yousei and Simone, though I've heard more of her songs with Kamelot


Metaaaaal :DDD I've heard about Epica but for some reason I've never really tried them!


I have a weakness for folk-inspired metal. You should try listening to Turisas!


I was quite excited to hear about Pandora since I used up all my listening time at, but sadly it doesn't work for anyone outside the US >_<

And yay for metal lolis =D (I've been meaning to make a community for us, but I never get around to it). I love the atmosphere at folkmetal bands, korpiklaani was a blast ;) Alestorm also (but that's Pirate Metal xD)


I've been looking for some good music to listen to, because I've been listening to the same stuff for years @_@ I'm going to check out your first rec, thanks!

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