Defying Geography: Brazilian Girls
(without a single genuine Brazilian girl)
By Ahsan Sajid
Imagine experiencing a particular transcendental experience where you get the sensation of being in more than one place at the same time. Your mind cannot stand the pressure anymore; you're trying to figure out exactly where you are. Are you in Trinidad or Tokyo? Manhattan or Milan? Brazil or the Bahamas? That is exactly the type of rich, vibrant feeling that animates the diverse soundscape of the twelve tracks of Brazilian Girl's self-titled debut album. Coming from different corners of the globe (Sabina was born in Rome, and raised in Munich and Nice; Didi from Buenos Aires, Argentina; Jesse and Aaron from California and Kansas, respectively), each member of Brazilian Girls has an impressive fodder of prior works that goes a long way in making Brazilian Girls the kind of band it is. The musicians are obviously, even to the untrained ear, seasoned performers-- however, they still maintain the small nuances of creativity and originality so frequent in passionate new learners.
Sabina sings in five different languages: German, French, Italian, Spanish and English, in one single album. The album's introductory track Homme unfolds like the opening sequence of a vintage (perhaps 1940s?) cinema mystery, while the sensual house track, an example of the diversity practiced in the album, Don't Stop, is peppered with simple, honest and often humorous lyrics. Lazy Lover is at its core truly a sensual song, having been featured in the compilation Music To Make Love By. Sirénes de la Fête layers 'naughty' loops and Sabina's sensuous vocal, in French, with lush synth sounds. The dancehall chant Pussy, is a delirious wonder-- it reminds one of summers outside the city, sand, extreme heat and lots and lots of fluids, condensed into five delicious minutes. The metropolitan adventure Corner Store steps out of the front door with a confident stride, only to turn the corner into a chorus of boisterous gypsy brass. And Dance Till The Morning Sun is exactly what the name implies-- a percussive, all-night party, pulsating with deep, rolling beats.
The four members of Brazilian Girls met in 2003, while jamming together at Nublu (a downtown New York club) which has served as their spawning ground. Playing together every week, they eventually co-wrote and recorded the twelve originals of Brazilian Girls over a couple of months, the twelve that made their self-titled debut, letting the nuances of their songs evolve over time. The drummer, Aaron, has said, "Being able to play consistently at Nublu and jumping into the studio every few months helped keep the vibe organic and fresh." "It's a collective," explains Didi. "A community, in which musicians, DJs, poets, painters, and bon vivants exchange ideas. At Nublu we were able to freely experiment with the music, without restrictions and expectations. That's what made the songs unfold."
And the album will definitely prove to be without restrictions. Whatever much you expect off Brazilian Girls after reading this review, stay prepared to be very startled.
The Fantasy Kingdom Sim
By S. S. Emil
RTS has never been my genre of choice. I can never do all that macro management business, and my civilization always falls behind and then I suffer from a gruesome horrible death at the hands of opponent. Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, a sequel to the first Majesty, a cult classic hit, that we reviewed a few weeks ago, is a bit different from the usual RTS.
The game is set 500 years from the last game, and during this time there has been many rulers of the state, and all of them are famous for vanquishing one evil or another. Unfortunately, your predecessor found himself without foes? What do you do when that happens? You perform dark rituals to call forth an evil unstoppable demon to ravage your land so that you can save your people from its cruel grasp.
The unstoppable demon bit however put a dent on the king's plans, and the evil entity killed the king and took over the throne, spreading chaos and debasement all around. All hope is not lost, however, for YOU have been found, the last heir to the throne of Ardania. Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!
You still build buildings; market places, guard towers. You still collect gold. But you don't control any units. Rather, this game focuses on you, as a Sovereign of the state and what you do in your power to influence events in your kingdom to get the job done. A Wolves' Den needs to be cleared? Well, then. Wait for the tax collectors to cough up enough cash for your needs, and then build a Ranger's Guild. Hire a Ranger, and set a Reward on the destruction of the Wolves' Den. Provided the reward is high enough an incentive for the hero(es), watch as they clear out the beasts and thus keep your subjects safe from their menace.
Most gameplay elements are the same as before. You're still in Ardania, a fantasy land filled with humans, elves, dwarves, skeletons and annoying huge and icky ratmen that just lurvs to skulk out of their sewers and disrupt progress. Those bastards. Heroes that you hire from Guilds (Warriors, Rogues, Rangers, Warriors, etc) are more diverse than in the previous games. Classes have been diversified. Meeting requirements enable you to upgrade the heroes to different classes; Clerics for example can become a Light Priestess of Agrela or a Dark Priestess of Agrela, depending on whether you want defensive magic or offensive magic. At the end of each quest, you can choose to make one of the Heroes a Lord of your realm, who you'll be able to rehire them from a Hall of Lords structure. This allows you to retain your high levelled heroes.
The magic system is, of course, mostly intact. If you have built a Cleric's Guild somewhere in your town, then you can research spells from there. The spells appear on your HUD, and should you so choose to, for a fixed amount of gold, you can cast that spell. For instance, if your Ranger is fighting against a horde of skeletons and his health is low, just cast the Heal spell.
The game's unique style is very interesting and all. But, unlike the first Majesty, Majesty 2 succeeds in having enough repetition of quests to disillusion most hardcore fans. Very unfortunate, as it could have been something really, really awesome. That however does not make this any less of a good game. New comers to the series will be sure to enjoy the game with all its quirks and its funny-ish Sean Connery voice-alike advisor.
The graphics are pretty decent with good enough models, however this is the not the area where Majesty expected to shine. Majesty's about fun gameplay rather than just plenty of eye candy. One of the few flaws of the game is that it's a bit repetitive. If you push that aside (I mean, seriously, WHICH game isn't?) then you've got a really unique and enjoyable game in your ends which should keep you busy for the next week or so.
The king is dead. Long live the king.
Arrested Development: A lesson in funny comedy
By Emil and Tareq Adnan
Throughout the history of the world, time and time again, the general American populace has unfailingly proved their bad taste in pretty much everything. Sydeny Sheldon and Limp Bizkit for example. Or the TV program Cops, for another example. But never have they displayed worse taste until Arrested Development came along. It lasted only three seasons. Because nobody watched it. Even though it was, by a fairly ginormous margin, one of the best sitcoms ever.
And the American businessmen being, basically American businessmen, they decided that something so enormously brilliant just wasn't profitable if it went over the head of the general red-neck. And so a potentially glorious series was nipped in the bud, for which the wiser of us suffered and some may have even gone to such lengths as crying in the shower. We'll never know.
Now you people know why the recession took place.
You may be asking us, yours truly awesome, what exactly this Arrested Development thing is. It's a TV show, as mentioned. It's a sitcom. And it's awesome. It's about the Bluth family who has suffered a kind of a financial breakdown thanks to George Sr. and his questionable activities as a business and possible illicit dealings with men from the east; and now it's up to his son Michael to do the impossible: fix everything.
Some of you might have been wondering exactly how those Wall Street businessmen pulled something like the recession off, well, once you start on the series, the activities of George Sr., will be Embezzlement 101 for you. For Michael, saving the company, and keeping his wayward family from spending what little money they still have left, unravelling his father's many schemes is nigh impossible.
Michael Bluth finds himself to be the only rational member of the family, among a number of crazies; an older brother who's a magician with no sense of responsibility, or rather with a mistaken sense of responsibility, with the other being a young man of considerably stunted maturity, and a sister that loves to shop with company money the family doesn't have. Their mother, Lucille, is no less crazy; case in point: she signed up one of her son to the army at a whim.
And there's George Sr.- a man of many talents and virtues, unfortunately for him, he never learned to do business the right and honest. In one episode you see a flashback of him firing all his employees on "Black Friday" after docking their pay. Basically, George Sr. is the personification of the racketeering Enron causing businessman who won't stop at taking a kids candy bar to make a profit. He even manages to find a way to earn money from prison by selling tapes about him finding the light, aptly named Caged Wisdom.
Most sitcoms take the simple approach to humour. Something funny happens because of which another funny thing happens. Thus we laugh. In this series, the humour is inherent in the characters themselves. You won't find much slapstick or body humour. What you will find is awesome dialogue, awesome acting and to be truthful, a story which is riveting and yet contains enough twists to keep you satisfied for the duration of the series, which is thanks to the common American idiot only about two and a half seasons long. I mean, it has FONZIE! As a lawyer, no less!
In terms of acting, most sitcoms employ people who can basically hold their faces straight while delivering the punch line. In this one, you have a cast who not only hold character, but create very realistic ones as well. And while most sitcoms employ a laugh track, an obviously fake audience laughter employed after a punch line delivery, AD is devoid of such a thing, so there's always a constant flow to the show, never broken by annoying audience whooting and twooting. Besides, you'll find yourself cracking sides before long anyway. You won't need a fake audience to tell you where to laugh and where to not.
To be truthful, if you find yourself like us, tired of the same comedy techniques being re-used and recycled over and over again in TV, give this sitcom a try. We are still so enamoured by what he witnessed that we plan on opening our own frozen banana stand, which incidentally happens to be the only business venture that George Sr. ran honestly. You get the idea.