Blinding Dark

I haven’t updated in a while because $reasons. Anyway, I do more than just Tarot. Music is also my thing, esp. synthpop, Goth, and Industrial. Covenant has been one of my fave bands for close to 20 years now and this is their new album.

Soo…Blinding Dark…

Disclaimer: this album was NOT given to me for any compensation. Eskil Simonsson and Stefan Herwig (Head of Dependent Records) are old and dear friends of mine and I miss them both terribly. 😦 I got the hotshit box set as a birthday gift. Unfortunately, the top of the box has a bald patch where it got damaged in shipping. Eskil should just sign over the damage next time I see him. πŸ˜‰

I’m only reviewing the main disc, not Psychonaut or the supplemental materials, as I don’t know what version people will be getting. Also, bear in mind I have the European box set. The US version has a different track order that frankly doesn’t work well. I’d also like to get my hands on the schmuck who classed its genre as metal? Wait…what?

Here goes nothing:

1) Fulwell: this would be a good stage intro track. As an album track, it’s a smidge long and can be easily skipped.

2) I Close My Eyes: a lovely 90 bpm meditation in B-flat major. This song has been floating around since about 2009 or so. I’m glad it found a home. This is probably my fave song on the album by a very narrow margin. I can listen to this one on repeat for hours.

3) Morning Star: Interesting song and a logical evolution from their Europa-era material. I like the hip-hop-ish beat used here. Definitely has a menacing feel to it, and in a good way. It could be mistaken for a track taken from Northern Lights, though. Not a bad thing.

4) Cold Reading: I actually *like* the vocal effects in this song. This song is classic Covenant. There’s no ambiguity and sounds like an upgraded version of something off Sequencer. I would very much like to see this become a new club anthem instead of ‘Tears In Rain.’ Hear that, local DJs? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS (un)HOLY NO MORE TEARS IN GODDAMNED RAIN. YOU PLAY IT TOO FUCKING MUCH. But this track works as a companion piece or sequel to ‘Liquid Sky,’ another of my fave songs by them.

5) Rider On A White Horse: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? This is a cover of a Lee Hazelwood song. Thematically, sure, it fits the rest of the album. But it just doesn’t work. It definitely drags down the pace of the album while thankfully not bringing it to a screeching halt like ‘I Walk Slow’ did on Leaving Babylon. But Erica Li’s voice is like a chainsaw outside my window at noon waking me up (fucking annoying) and this song is just No. Nope. No. Nope. SKIP. They should have put ‘In Theory’ from the Sound Mirrors single on here. It would have worked better.

6) Interlude I: meh, generic. Daniel Meyer gets a pat on the head here for effort. I’m not really a Haujobb fan and this sounds like a Haujobb teaser. Next!

7) Dies Irae: Latin for Day of Wrath, we get a real song again. Definitely in the vein of material off Skyshaper and LB, but with a bit of an edge to it. I forget who wrote this, but I know it was one of those existential authors a hundred years ago. Some guy shouted out to the universe ‘I exist!’ and the universe said, ‘So what?’ That was the gist of it anyway and it’s pretty much the theme of the song.

8) Sound Mirrors (Fulwell): This is the main single off the album, and it was a good choice. I could do without the 45-second intro, but other than that, the song works. It’s a catchy, upbeat number that once again hearkens back to Northern Lights. Cut out the intro and it’d probably pack the dance floor. The soaring chorus *will* get stuck in your head for days. Also a good song for driving at speed across open desert at 3 am.

9) Interlude II: I’d reach up and give Andreas Catjar a pat on the head here for effort except I’d probably have to stand on a stepladder to do it. The guy’s what? 6’7? While this is better than the first Interlude, it still strikes me as filler more than anything.

10) If I Give My Soul: Tied with ‘I Close My Eyes’ for my fave on the album. Starting out very much like ‘The Men’ off Skyshaper, this goes into a very Tangerine Dreamish main song that reminds me a lot of ‘Crystal Voice’ off the Firestarter soundtrack. This is a good thing. Eskil: insecure much? I think everyone’s asked these questions of pretty much everyone else, whether they realize it or not.
– Call you? Absolutely, but the whole 8-9 hour time difference thing…email and Messenger are easier.
– Spit on you? Nope. Just don’t backwash if we wind up sharing drinks like usual, K?
– Die on you? I’ll try not to, but it wouldn’t be voluntary if I did. I’m too damned stubborn to go down without a hell of a fight.
– Leave you? Not unless you do or did something egregiously stupid or you lie to me, disrespect me, or take me for granted. But for being yourself? Nope–I’ll stick around for a while. You did summon me after all… πŸ˜‰
– Die FOR you? HAHAHA buddy I love you but not that much. I’ll more than likely outlive you anyway. *sigh*

11) Summon Your Spirit: A good idea that essentially peters out and goes nowhere. It’s way too long for what it does. It works as a closer, but should have only been a couple minutes long, not 5:19. This probably should have been edited to make it much shorter or scrapped entirely.

So on the whole, I do like this album. They’ve achieved full redemption after the slickly overproduced and soulless shell that was Modern Ruin. Leaving Babylon was the halfway mark. Their most accessible album remains Skyshaper, but this is tied for 2nd with United States of Mind. It could flow better, but it’s not the disjointed mess that the US track order is. I would have split it into three even sections with the interludes marking each one. Regardless, this is one that will grow on the listener with time.

**** or 4/5. It’s not perfect. Don’t miss it.

Principal Photography

Hey everyone, I’m still here, still alive, still chugging along. You can put away the crucifixes and holy water now. πŸ˜‰ Garlic? No effect. Hell, I love the shit. Sign me up for Bulgogi anytime. It’s Korean spiced and thinly sliced beef that’s grilled. It’s usually heavy on the garlic and red pepper paste. But I digress.

Sorry, going to Das Bunker’s 20th and K-town’s literally a mile and a half from the club. I’m thinking of dinner already. πŸ˜‰ Live octopus, anyone?

Anyway, back to my topic. I do a lot of online readings, and being able to take clear pictures is critical. I can describe a deck to a client, and have them look up the images, but honestly, it’s easier for me to take a clear photograph of the cards. This is often trickier than it sounds, because a lot of cards have a plastic high-gloss finish. It’s great for protecting the cards from damage, but not so hot for photography as the flash will often reflect off one or several of the cards. It’s like staring into the sun and it obscures the image. If that card happens to be a critical one in the reading, then that’s a BAD thing.

So I did a reading withΒ Barbara Moore’s Steampunk deck and I have to say I’m very pleased. The cards feel a smidge thin, but the matte finish is great for photography. Here, you’ll see what I mean:

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I won’t say what the subject was, or whom it was for, as that’s not the issue here. The cards are clear and bright with no glare. Each image can be clearly seen, with details, and the title of each card can be read clearly on the full-size image. That’s what the goal is in an online reading. Too many cards have a high gloss finish and I have to take 6-10 pictures to get one good one. This one came out perfect on the first image because of the matte finish. WP pares images down, so some clarity is lost here.

My camera is a Canon PowerShot A1000IS that my sister gave me probably about 7 or 8 years ago now. It’s hardly top of the line but it’s a good workhorse. It just chews through batteries something fierce. If you have a smartphone, the camera on that should also be good enough.

So for you wanting to dip your toe in the online pool, keep this in mind. Clients don’t like it when they can’t see their cards. The typed interpretation is important, but a good image helps the client follow the story. Oftentimes they’ll also notice things the reader may have missed, too.

For face to face readings, finish doesn’t matter so much. There it’s do the cards have a coating that can protect them from things like spilled drinks. I do a lot of readings in clubs and restaurants, so this is important. It’s also the reason I use mass-market decks for personal readings and leave the rare ones at home. I don’t want my oop ones getting wrecked.

Until next time…

 

 

 

This works?

So I get asked frequently, ‘Does Tarot work, and if so, how?’ I’ll be the first to say it *does* work, but I have no idea how or why. Hell, I’m not sure if I’m not abusing the hell out of the Forer/Barnum effect or not. Basically, the Forer effect states that people will assume generalizations apply to them specifically, when in reality, they apply to a wide swath of the population. It’s a good example of a cognitive bias, and knowing it’s there goes a long way to boosting critical thinking skills. Then again, I’ve pulled details out of the ether that I figured were BS, only to find later I was spot on in a big way. Like a friend of mine said, ‘Does it really matter if you’re abusing a bias or not? If people feel empowered to deal with whatever situation they’re facing, you’ve done a good job.’ He has a point. The argument could also be made that if the bias is abused, vague generalities are of no use. I have a feeling this debate will rage on endlessly, much like the charge or not to charge debate.

Another thing I get a lot is that the cards tell my client what they already know. Well, duh, that’s actually the point. And sometimes, we need a visit from this guy to get us back on track:

: hotels-com-spring-break-sale-captain-obvious-workout-bathroom-large-8

Sometimes something that seems obvious isn’t, and something that shouldn’t be is. A lot of times it’s because the client is too close to the situation to SEE the obvious until it’s pointed out–and then they just lean forward and do the double facepalm. Other times, Cap’n Obvious needs to smack someone upside the head repeatedly with a baseball bat to get the message through. Situations vary.

Here’s the thing, though–yeah, often times the cards will tell the client what they already know. They’ll also advise the best course of action for a given situation. A reading is a snapshot, nothing more. It’s like a weather report in a lot of ways. Change the circumstances, change the outcome. Most of the time, the sitter can do a lot more to shift things in their favour than they realize. Whether or not they choose to take responsibility is up to them, not me. All I can do is show a way. Getting mad at me for not telling them what they want to hear is like getting mad at the GPS because the guy in front of them got T-boned by a red light runner and now they’re stuck in a traffic jam. Shit happens and we can rise to the occasion or not. Our call.

I’m not going to tell you when the love of your life is going to come into your life because I simply don’t know. I’m not going to give you the winning lotto numbers because I don’t know. Hell, if I did, I certainly wouldn’t be sharing them! I can’t tell you how long will you live because, you guessed it, I don’t know. Does life have a higher purpose? I have no idea. And I’m not a medium, so don’t ask me what your dead grandparents think because I can’t know. I make no claims to be psychic, and people may assume that, but then that’s on them. How does the Tarot give guidance? I have no fucking clue. All I know is that it does, and if I can help people, then my job is done.