Typer Tyme – Episode 9

Typer Tyme is a club-music radio show exploring a growing library of music and sharing the hope found in it.

This episode Typer brings a mix resorted and redesigned 3 times in September while taking care of his Dad passing away from cancer.

Twitter: www.twitter.com/TyperTyme
Tumblr: typertyme.tumblr.com
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Elite: Dangerous – Take Me Away

New posts on Wednesdays if I can muster up enough desire to write about video games on Wednesdays. The Mass Effect schedule will resume soon, life was a bit weird the past two weeks.

A week ago today (Sunday the 25th) I was supposed to be at a work meeting and then I had a rarely-planned work party later in the day. It was supposed to be a thing where for just 3 or 4 hours I’d go be with my coworkers and relax at my boss’ house. The team I work with rarely gets to spend time outside of work having fun all together so I was really excited at the chance to get out of the house for the first time in about a week and go hang out with my coworkers.

That unfortunately didn’t happen. My dad had a breathing incident that morning, no one could be over here to take care of him, and to be honest I was little too worried about someone else not being able to take care of my dad the way me or the other primary caretaker typically could. In the following days I’d spend more time at home barely able to take time out for myself than ever before and then Tuesday morning my dad’s final turns towards the afterlife started. Simply put: I barely touched my computer from Sunday through Thursday night when Dad passed away. I played some games when I could but was too wrapped up in worrying about what needed to be done or getting things done to focus on what was uploaded to YouTube that day. And so after five days I had accumulated quite a backlog of videos to watch.

This past Fridaymy best friend Micael and his partner Kaden bought me Elite: Dangerous, a game I had in my wishlist mainly because my other friend rane0 had often played it as a game to enjoy while watching YouTube or Netflix. Little did I know the wonderful space sim world I was going to be diving into across my weekend and in the coming week. See my brother took it upon himself to do most of the funeral arrangements. And with the paid week off I have from work right now due to Dad’s passing, I decided to take the opportunity to rest. I sought the best ways I know myself to unwind: Hang with friends for the first time in a while, catch up on YouTube, do chores, take care of myself, and play some video games, oh and work on my mixes of course. It’s not an easy thing to forget the images and experiences taking care of a loved one on hospice, it all flies by even though it feels like forever. Regardless, shifting from the ugly picture of a loved one slowly dying to thinking on memories of your loved one just brings into focus the reality that your loved one is gone. That too isn’t the best feeling in the world. And while I’ve mostly accepted that feeling I don’t want to spend all the time off I have sitting in my house staring at pictures and losing my mind either. So…Elite: Dangerous.

It’s a space sim played by many people online. It’s not as grand scale as EVE Online but you basically live life as a “space trucker”, a “space miner”, or a “space fighter”. With my YouTube backlog and the ordeal I’ve just been through I thought “space trucker” would be a fantastic mini vacation for myself as I caught up on YouTube and took some time for myself without sitting in sorrow over my dad’s departure. Fly from system to system, deliver packages (whatever they be), fly around, you know, the fun stuff. To be honest I added this game to my wishlist just off of screenshots and Rane’s insane number of hours spent playing it. I really didn’t know it was this deeper space sim. Growing up I had spent plenty of hours playing TIE Fighter and X-Wing Alliance (two games that practically REQUIRED a joystick AND keyboard combination of controls to manage your ship effectively). Imagine the glee I found when hitting up the training missions and realizing that I could use boosters to push myself in any direction but wouldn’t have perpetual forward motion until I carefully adjusted the throttle on my spaceship. I do recommend the training though, even though it’s not clear and you’re just pushing buttons thrown up on your screen (or not) until you figure out how to actually play the game it’s a safe place to mess up, start over, try again without any consequence. Even the training can be a challenge as you train yourself to dogfight, where to look, how to find your enemy or properly use your weapons or approach the enemy force (hint: Pick the small ships first). It was in the last combat training mission where I found myself doing close pass byes to a larger cargo frigate after taking out a 2-ship escort just barely missing physical contact with the enemy and flying right over their front end. At that moment I said, “Okay! I’ve definitely got the hang of this.” What better way to focus the training of the game: What you need to know to survive the most unexpected danger of space: Other people.

But I didn’t have the hang of it actually. See with training out of the way it was now my turn to learn the system-to-system mechanics of the game. And boy are there a lot. See with the Star Wars X-Wing series the space simulator never got past the “jumping between systems” scale of things, which basically meant that you’d be returning to the same base most of the time by the end of the mission, landing was done with the push of a space bar as long as you were flying slow enough, communication was contextual and simple, and multiplayer was dogfighting. And this is where I, among probably many other people, think that Elite: Dangerous might actually be a game that (given more time, adjustments made to certain features, etc.) could be at least 50% more of the game that people wanted No Man’s Sky to be and even contain the features the lead directors talk about. Because Elite: Dangerous is a big and (maybe even accurate) replication of our milky way galaxy. And that’s just crazy talk to me but well just spend a few minutes in the game’s galaxy map (which you will do when first looking for missions to take on) and you’ll just notice the sheer density of how many systems there are to visit, explore, and traverse in this game. No the game doesn’t have that space-to-earth transitionary element to it but it already had the gigantic spcae thing done and apparently expansion packs DO let you go to planet surfaces for mining and resource gathering or missions. To be honest as much as this realization slowly creeped into my brain about the amount of work that has gone into building this universe for an MMO of sorts to exist, the more blown-back I am that I haven’t seen millions of No Man’s Sky haters all carrying Elite: Dangerous on their shoulders with memes and clickbait articles telling me 10 reasons why E:D did it better before it was cool.

Regardless, the game’s huge. The most wonderful kind of huge: Space huge. And so I started picking up missions and getting the ropes of how to accomplish them or what missions I wanted to do. As a space delivery guy I wanted to be the most boring version of the Firefly, no space pirate stuff, no trouble, just floating on between the stars taking packages from one place to another and getting paid for it. I tried doing missions involving finding lost things but it seems to require that you go to a star system and float around each planet and its orbiting moons/space rocks/random lost space debris and see if you can find the item. This may seem menial but it’s also confusing and makes you feel like it’s not worth the effort when sometimes a star system can have 15-20 asteroid formations, 5-10 planets with their own orbital moons or space debris to search through. I’ve heard bounty hunting is really cool and I’ve heard space-mining is more boring than space-delivery so I chose the road less pulse-pounding. I just wanted that YouTube catch-up tool, or that “just got home from a long day of funeral service stuff, don’t feel like getting wrapped up in exploring Wikis just to find out where to go next in Mass Effect”. It’s almost contradictory of me though since navigating so much of this game (being a sim) is not straightforward.

Your ship can dock at various stations and orbital platforms and cool hexagonal hubs in many systems across the galaxy. You start off docked at one and at any station there’s an available mission board where you can choose to accept missions and go get them done. Of course this is built as an MMO of sorts (internet needed but you can play without actual people if you want) so the grind missions all have a realistic timer on them. The factions or industries you accept jobs from need stuff done within 24 hours typically. So I typically loaded up three deliveries at a time, turned left in my space interface and pulled up the galaxy map to pick a destination and try to plot out my path. I learned a little later you can have the game plot your course for you (but only if the servers cooperate and before you get the good tech: Only close enough systems). So you lift off from your current “truck stop”, leave the area, raise your landing gear, speed up enough to get some distance from the station at which point they’ll release their mass lock on you so you can jump to inter-system-travel mode or just make an immediate jump to lightspeed/hyperspace and hop over to the next system over on your journey. Destination arrived, you go to the small planet system where the station you’re delivering the goods resides, slow down enough for you to enter the system safely (or you’ll just ZOOM on by using the force of gravity and centrifugal force if I know my science right….I don’t), and once you’re close enough you can enter the “tiny area of where you are” and fly towards your next orbital platform/space station/destination. Then you turn over to your panel on the left of your cool spaceship interior and tab over to nearby ships, and send a request to land (that’s right: You gotta ask permission before you waltz in). If you’re close enough to the place they’ll grant you a bay, tell you where to land and ask that you don’t speed on your way in. You will, you’ll also forget to put your landing gear down sometimes or land in the wrong bay for a moment or accidentally hit the button to discharge your turrets thinking for some reason it’s your landing gear or throttle and suddenly an entire space station blows you to smithereens.

And that’s just the basics of a delivery. As you upgrade your ship at stations for unique utilities or simply better gear to do the job and protect yourself (or if you’re BUYING a better ship) you have to make sure the stuff that needs to be equipped in inventory slots are set correctly. You have to make sure to refuel when at a station so you have enough fuel to make the next big star system jump until you find out what a fuel scooper is and how to get one, then you can fly close to the sun like Icarus (EXCEPT SNOW COLORED SUNS: AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE JEEZ THEY’RE HOT) and turn that energy into fuel like Wall-E. You’ll upgrade your weaponry to try and hold your own a bit more whenever invasions happen (happens more around busy hubs), find the much better efficient way to navigate star systems without using the galaxy or system map and look for nearby stations to fuel up on gas like the time Han was looking around for help and noticed Lando’s name come up. It has happened horribly to me at times too. Ship kept overheating, my recent additions to my ship created a power problem and I could only fly to another system by draining my shields and so I flicked my display over to my left panel and looked for the closest station where I could land, re-sort my ship parts and find a better setup that wouldn’t drain power on me. Last thing you want in space is to be out of fuel, unable to jump to another system where there is fuel, or be losing power while on your own. It was after a good chunk of doing delivery missions that I realized not only was I getting really comfortable flicking back and forth between my ship’s wonderful HUD and just going from mission to mission but I also getting a little bored of it. Like any giant world / MMO / big game: Pad the stuff to do to get more time out of it, but make the stuff you do so much less significant.

It was around this time that I was playing with the galaxy map, crazily zooming in and out of the milky way’s center and saying, “Man I hope my missions take me from this end, through the middle where there’s TONS of systems nearby to the other end and maybe throws me at earth along the way.” Then I laughed, looked at how much money I had already accumulated by flying by planets and mapping out systems by scanning each unknown planet in a system and selling the map data to the public, and said, “Why don’t I make this a trip?” And so I am. I picked out a few well known documented nebula, bookmarked them, made a 2-day journey over to the nearest giant “city center” in the game where factions do stuff or something and then mapped out my path to a “dark nebula”. I’m so excited to head through these things, see what they look like in game. The game’s pretty, though a bit oversold by its own store pictures, it’s beautiful watching a tiny star on the horizon grow into a giant ball of fire as you sit back and watch the distance counter run down, gracefully nudging your joystick to keep the course straight while catching up on YouTube. I’m going to have some wonderful journeys traversing our galaxy and watching daily videos.

I’m only about 15 hours in and there’s plenty more I could talk about. The sheer lack of direction for newcomers, the way the game fails to engage the players in its world’s ongoing story (like WoW does) or create a functional system that allows players to craft the world’s story on their way (like EVE does), the intensity of being pulled out of frame-shift (system travel) mode by an enemy looking to blow you to smithereens for your stuff, the rush of scaring them off, or the frantic feeling as you divert power to your systems or your engines, mash the booster button and look to escape to a nearby system instead. I could talk about how those mediocre training elements reminded me of Dark Souls 1’s flawed “too hard” moments that only made players who sit around to figure out what to do in the game love it. I definitely should talk about how beautiful this game is (but not all the time) and how you should actually avoid looking up pictures of the game because the developer images don’t show gameplay too much and gameplay images are only capturing the beautiful moments instead of the beauty you’ll realize in just sort of spacing out staring at a tiny star in the distance actually slowly growing on you across 10 or 20 minutes or how you start to notice the spatial orientation of the special locations of the galaxy. I can see the density of the stars increasing but it’s mostly horizontally aligned but I can also see the nebulas afar off that I know are going to get bigger and bigger in view as I get closer and closer to them with each jump along the way. I could go on and on about the wonder I found in games like Homeworld and X-Wing Alliance where universes were crafted and space backdrops were the body of water to traverse and navigate carefully while simultaneously the very thing you just wanted to stare at for hours and just go…a little farther to see what things will look like if you went deeper into the wondrous and vast sea. But now I don’t need to look to worlds like Homeworld or X-Wing Alliance. I can just play Elite: Dangerous and go to those places I saw growing up or when I look up at the sky at night these days.

For that alone it’s won me over.

Maybe it’ll win you over too. It’s available on PC and XBone.

Typer Listens – Andy Moor & Somna with Amy Kirkpatrick: One Thing About You

Contrary to popular belief I actually don’t think the greatest thing that has come out of Skillrex’s revival of the dubstep/electro house scene this side of the 10s is the ear-destroying high pitch sounds and the “wubs”. Don’t get me wrong, those are some…really…nice qualities that an untapped market totally appreciates. I’m not that market though, I like balanced sounds. Skrillex’s style of dubstep, for the most part, has been about mixtures of hip hop with dubstep or the complete and total annihilation of what it means to be “balanced”. And that’s not a bad thing all the time, in fact if Skrillex’s success is a metric then unbalanced highs and lows in music is in fact really cool or exactly what some people want. And if you take a look at the genres before Skrillex  it’s fair to say he inspired many people and changed the way artists approach them. I just don’t care for it and really I think people have gone head-over-heels for it because at times Skrillex has represented the “edge” for hipsters to jump on (no, you’re not a hipster, but there are hipsters for everything that’s new so face it: The person next to you MIGHT BE ONE), it’s either that or my hearing is just weirdly sensitive. The third possibility is the one that keeps me writing this stuff: People just haven’t explored what’s out there. And so I write these blogs and make Typer Tyme the show in the hopes that one day there’ll be a crowd of people looking for the stuff I look for and I’ll finally have some friends on the internet. /sarcasm

Really though I think the best things that have come out of Skrillex’s revival of the dubstep / electro house scene come 2-fold. First and foremost is…well the style of the electro-trend that built out of it. Again, Skrillex’s appeal these days is Jack U and some combinations of hip hop, jazz, lots of genres actually mixed in with his electronic skills. And I have nothing against what he does, in fact he does a really good job at what he does. His style just clashes against mine like tuna salad. Somebody likes it but I know it’s not me. It smells wrong and I think if you need to work that many extra ingredients onto the fish it just doesn’t want to be eaten. But so many artists have looked at what Skrillex did to a late 90s/early 00s breaks-based genre and have been inspired by that. That’s awesome, it’s brought out artists like Savant and Adam K and given fuel to already wildly successful people like deadmau5. In fact I’m pretty sure the entire Monstercat label just wouldn’t exist today if Skrillex didn’t do his thing. Without Skrillex you wouldn’t have today’s track either, at least it wouldn’t be the same. Speaking of today’s track…

That’s the second best thing Skrillex’s work did: It gave electro-bass REALLY GOOD FUEL. Look believe it or not electro-house was a genre that developed back in the late 90s/early 00s as well. Ferry Corsten’s trance album “L.E.F.” in 2006 featured a lot of unique electro instruments through and through and the Above & Beyond crew even considered running a daughter label “Anjuna-Electro” but they folded it after some time (probably didn’t get enough steam). The difficulty with making the music back then either came because the technology wasn’t there to play with more electro-sounds or because someone hadn’t really thought about taking the typically thuddy bass and distorting the crap out of it to the point that it felt warmer than it did impactful. Either way, the resulting sound from our “EDM” movement of the past six years is a textured one, providing a sheet rock of new sounds to build upon or morph from when working with bass. It’s proved so pliant that it works for a big club presence with tracks like iLan Bluestone’s “Spheres” or “Tesseract”, it obviously works well in the dubstep presence (see Xilent’s entire album “We Are Virutal” or deadmau5’s “4×4=12”), and it even works in trance. In fact, it works really well in trance.

And so that brings us to “One Thing About You”, a trance favorite of mine from 2015 that knocks it out of the park. Andy Moor pairs with Somna and they worked with Amy Kirkpatrick on the writing and vocals to create this track that wonderfully represents how trance tracks can use that new textured distorted style of bass as a background element, a presence, and even a piece of the mood set by the songwriting.  The lyrics speak of someone walling up feelings / creating a sense that things are not okay to the person speaking. Yet despite difficulties, the person speaking does not want the other to change. It’s a tangled bag of wanting things or confidence to change without wanting the person to actually change who they are. The drive in is strong but the track really shines as an electro-infused trance anthem as it hits the crescendo. It doesn’t rely on a multiplying time signature or a big “drop” so much as a snare and the lifting of the melodies in pure trance style. This all comes shortly after a bridge mixed with acoustic guitar, piano, and Amy’s lovely vocals in also pure trance fashion. The final chorus fades the strong club sounds and eliminates most other sounds besides a focus on the vocals and the ever present electro-wall that rides the experience through and through.

See also: Tomahawk by BT with Adam K, Keep Your Secrets by Andrew Bayer (Myon & Shane 54 Summer of Love Remix)

Sidebar: Dad’s viewing was today. It went well, many many old friends and family seen and hugged. It was a long day, I’m tired, I wrote this a week ago and I’m glad I did because I don’t to work up the effort to find another song or album to write about today.

Mass Effect 3 – Saving the RPG (Part 4)

New posts on Wednesday! Not all Wednesdays just…when I have them ready on Wednesdays.

Leaping forward a bit in the story and we reach The Citadel, one of only a few places in the Mass Effect series that truly feels like home. I think being grounded in RPGs with a hub is a really good design to bring to the table. The “board the ship and check every character for new dialog” routine is something so done to death in space RPGs that by this point we have parodies of this process.

But the strength of being able to go to these characters that we do not bring on missions allows players to feel like all characters have some sort of a progress across the game’s story (or some don’t because their emotional attachment to the quest is…minimal). We see these ideas even taken to new expanses in games like Knights of the Old Republic 2 where character interactions don’t entirely involve the player (though they may still surround and regard the player in their character’s absence). Sometimes as you board the ship, characters are talking in secrecy to others about card games, routine maintenance, disagreements that you might settle, or stories from their past that they wish to remain hidden from you in particular. This allows the developers to show players that characters might choose to hide something from their avatar, but restrict the player’s ability to understand what those characters are doing, or what their motivations are. It’s also, altogether, a very interesting social interaction that video games don’t explore often enough in RPGs. So often the hero quest means everyone wants to get to know you, everyone opens up to you, you’re not just this action hero, you’re their developmental hero. The possibility that a person around you loathes you, wants nothing to do with you outside their own self-interest, and even conspires against you and questions you behind your back is…very un-gamey in a party-based RPG.

Regardless the “hub” remains the wonderful go-to grounding zone of the party-based RPGs that BioWare tends to make. And with space RPGs it’s the hub is your ship: The vessel by which you pursue your quest. It’s a wonderful design but I feel like this grounding in a place that’s so important feels even more rewarding when it is earned. And that’s why we talk about the Citadel today instead of the Normandy or the Ebon Hawk.

In Mass Effect 1, the Citadel was what Taris worked as in Knights of the Old Republic. The game starts with a small / short mission that gets the story in motion before you and your party join you on a more non-hostile location where the story develops further and you get to know the characters traveling with you. KotOR 1 did this by crash landing the player and 2 allies on Taris while you hid from a Sith army takeover of the planet. Many quests across Taris work towards rescuing one of your two allies, getting to know other party members that will join you, joining a bounty hunter guild, becoming a fighting champion, a podracer, and then hatching a plan to get off the planet safely. The journey involves getting to know the ins and outs of a planet that has a layered socioeconomic society. The rich live in the beautiful city while the poorer and less privileged live in the lower city and the destitute live in the undercity surrounded daily by the possibility of death, eeking out a way to survive near sewers. The end reward of your long journey is the spaceship that becomes your world hub for the rest of the game. It’s by no stretch of the imagination that BioWare developed Taris as a part of the game players would spend nearly 15-20% of their KotOR experience on. It’s developmental for the story, the characters, and the many different quests and deeper RPG encounters that players will experience across the rest of the game. The same is repeated in KotOR 2 on a mining asteroid. And with Mass Effect 1 BioWare gave players time on a peaceful super space station called “The Citadel”. It functions pretty much the same way Taris does. You uncover more of the plot of what’s going on in the main game, prove it to the Space Council so you can be granted Super Space Agent status, gather a team, meet many people who you’ll remember in years to come while learning a lot about the technology and ancient race that predated human and alien civilizations (where the Citadel comes from), and (lastly) get the awesome space ship that lets you do the rest of the game’s quests.

https://typertyme.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/1cb40-04-taris.png?w=620

For players of the series, returning to the Citadel in Mass Effect 3 and hearing its musical motifs will be reminded of the wonder and curiosity of the station while they gape in awe at just how huge this thing is. It almost feels like Taris and the Citadel are even meant to LOOK similar just to plant in the players’ mind the concept of “open” and “big”, or even “sprawling” when the core games actually consist of smaller worlds that they just spend a lot of time on doing many things. A location like this early on in the game would help players feel like the world is bigger than it is. And that’s…a wonderful thing to do to players actually. Half-Life and Half-Life 2 are these phenomenally paced corridor shooters but because of the use of vistas after long amounts of time making progress and carrying the player to new places, the games feel like they span an entire country or an entire facility in a matter of 8-12 hours.

Design decisions like this would be a fault if BioWare didn’t recognize it and support it the ways they have. In Mass Effect 3, the Citadel feels similar. We’ve escaped Earth, done a mission on Mars and now, for the first time, we explore layers/floors of small side quests, have many different conversations and get an idea of where we’ll be going in the game next without being given the urgency to go there NOW. It’s a chance to catch your breath, get your bearings for the absolutely dense stack of quests you’ll get before too long (too dense in Mass Effect 3, but that’s another entry).

The Citadel in Mass Effect 3 practically serves as a secondary hub as we return to it again and again. We watch characters overcome their losses, find ways to mingle and relax during the brief times they get shore leave, meet family members from their past for the first time, and players get to comprehend how the war is progressing. There’s entire floors dedicated to refugees where you overhear conversations about planets being entirely wiped out (poor Batarians), even some of your party members join the refugees to help their own species that have been run off planets. Meanwhile the political-based floors still have espionage and spy work ready for you to pick up. Even some missions that end on other worlds start at the Citadel as everyone knows it’ll be the last great place of defense in the galaxy, so refugees are going there first. People looking to join the war effort are leaving from there, and in many ways it is this gigantic central hub of communication.

I think this morphed hub that we return to across the game is something BioWare consciously decided to focus on in the game. We watch Kaiden as he rests up from his injury and is granted Super Space Spy status or sit next to our dying friend Thane. With Mass Effect 2 and other RPG titles of BioWare’s, the team was always small, elite, and performing a mission that wouldn’t involve an entire army. It fits with the designs of RPGs where parties and small teams are the foundation of the design (it’s an RPG, not an RTS). And so in the past players have always understood or perceived the scope of what they were doing through the lens of the small transport hub, the campfire that the whole party huddles around or the Ebon Hawk’s many comfortable and quiet rooms as it travels through the dark and silent space. Mass Effect 3 though is a mixture of the experiences. All out war is happening across the universe while Shepard continues to gather his private team of fantastic soldiers and act in the shadows of the same fight for the universe.

In simple terms: You, Shepard, and your team, are reminded of what you’re fighting for every time you return here.https://i1.wp.com/vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/masseffect/images/d/d7/MassEffect2Citadel.jpg

Typer Listens – Andy Duguid: On the Edge

New posts on Mondays! (not every Monday necessarily, just…Mondays)

Friday (September 16th) marks 3 years since this album hit shelves and spawned a few successful singles. It’s not a legendary album by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it a remarkably perfect captured image of music from a year that remains so special to me. But, On the Edge by Andy Duguid is remarkably good and worth your listen. The Scottish producer and performer spends more time building work for the club, and possibly even more time doing work in it, which only heightens the significance of when the man sits down and works on an album. The only other full length album in Duguid’s history is Believe, a release that goes back to 2008. Whether or not Believe is the same interesting collected work of artistic pieces remains irrelevant though because On the Edge remains a good album today. It’s a unique take on trance during a big crossroads for the genre as EDM exploded into new markets and producers / artists started wondering whether to join the revolutions being seen by big-room party work or to pursue the things that have made trance what it is in the past 20 years. The answer was: A little of both, but more of the later.

On the Edge is a collection of 12 trance songs Andy Duguid worked on and built from various inspirations (all of which he shared on a cool SoundCloud audio commentary of the album). The album title takes a line from something his brother once told him, Percussion Man borrows a rhythm and beautiful drum sound he once heard from a public drummer, and When You’re With Me explores darker club-based trance sounds clashing against a common emotional point in the album: The feeling that a relationship isn’t quite what it should be.

This album that uses high melodies, piano, and airy staging in its track-to-track mixing is actually using the elements at hand to its emotional advantage. The clash of feelings with anthemic, dancey hits like In this Moment and Paradise (Richard’s Theme) do at times feel like a producer just drawing lines and connecting dots. But the vision, the instruments at play, and the wonderful talent across the board end in an album that works for the most part, really well. Tiago feels like some sort of an unnecessary bridge from one high point into what’s supposed to the next, but Stars is missing something special regardless, making the tiny piece of the journey a little lackluster. But the end result is nothing short of spectacular.

7even, the ending track on the album might be the most fascinating work to come from the 2013 labor of love. The inspiration here was one Olivia Downie, a young girl from Scottland who died at age 7 to a form of cancer called neuroblastoma. The track’s leading piano tones and notes were played and built around the time her death hit the news. 7even itself, with Jaren’s achingly beautiful vocals here, is quite possibly the most emotional / transcendent high place that could end a dance album. It’s jarring as well, something so sorrowful and emotionally wrenching has blasts of noise, beats, sound that one can dance to as we experience airy sounds and vocals so bright as the sky and the sunlight that it’s hard to not be moved considering the inspiration.

On a separate but important note, the music videos are worth a look as well. Only videos exist for In this Moment and 7even but both received some really well structured storytelling. In this Moment has an air of mystery to it as an old man carries a bunch of stones out to the water. But 7even almost packs an extra emotional (albeit creepy in ways) and cinematic punch to an already visual track as it depicts a girl being presented the 5 stages of grief in horrific fashion.

Ultimately it’s a good album with some cool concepts woven through it, definitely worth your listen for the journey leading up to 7even alone. I bought the album mainly because I liked two leading singles off it and wound up considering it as one of the best albums I listened to from 2013. It’s thoughtful, well polished, and it varied itself well enough while keeping a welcome consistency, regardless of whether or not you were listening to a continuous mix or unmixed tracks.

In the Pipeline (Update on Things)

It’s all “behind-the-scenes” but things are being worked on. Last week I launched Type Tyme 08 and announced my Dad’s hospice care so obviously you can imagine how busy life has been.

Dad’s managing for now and family has visited. It’s been a good (and long) week since he made his decision 8 days ago. His eating habits have improved (go figure, take chemo out of your system and you’re officially less poisoned than before) but pain seems to be on the rise whenever my dad is out of bed. We’re working on a system to improve his pain.

When rough times like this hit I recede a bit from my hobby interests that require more work and dedication to create. That being said, here’s an update on all things Typer:

-Mass Effect 3 blog: I’ve got the idea of what Part 4 is going to be about and I’ve got all the DLC for the game now so I’m burning through it in bigger chunks. The Aria DLC is a real pain though, not enjoying it at all and finding the time to play Mass Effect with no distractions is difficult (due to dialog it’s one of the most demanding games the first time you play it).

-Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst Streams: I’ve done 2 so far and I’m happy with how they’ve gone. This takes even more time than Mass Effect in ways though. I need uninterrupted time. I should take advantage of weekends when it’s not just me in the house watching my dad. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about these though!

-Typer Tyme: Obviously my year-long resolution is going strong and plans and work on it continues to churn month-in/month-out. I’m super proud and super glad of the fact that 1. I’ve kept up on making a mix every month and 2. That it’s turning into something that has a bit of merit to it (even IF there aren’t many listeners). I’m so psyched to celebrate the 1-year mark on it that I’m already mapping out the Record Review years being plucked, the tracks I’m using for each one, and I’m churning some ideas for what I want next year to be like when it comes to this show. Needless to say: It’ll be around, and it’ll include more of what I’ve been doing so far while trying to continue doing new things and challenging myself to create in new ways.

-Project TE: I’m working on another remix at the moment. It’s a lot bigger than the Skylarking remix, and a lot more thought out this time around. I’ve got a lot of ground to cover but for now I’ll just say I’m working on it, and I’m a third of the way through the big first hurdle. I hope to have it done in time for Typer Tyme 12’s release. We’ll see though.

And that’s it, just a quick update on everything I’m up to since I haven’t released much content in the past week or four. Oh, Dark Souls 3’s DLC launches next month as well so I’m getting my NG+ character all the way through the game so they’re ready to dive in when it comes out.

Gotta enjoy some things while they happen, right?