Saturday, 25 January 2014

Level 17 - A John deCaux Web series: Episode 2

This week's short blog entry sees the release of the second in the web series - Level 17.

My reader (you know who you are and thank you, but isn't it time that you got a life?) will remember the first piece that featured in this blog back in September 2013. The piece concerns Level 17, which is an Australian Action Adventure Sci-Fi web-series that saw its first episode released in late 2013. The enterprise consists of a number of professional, emerging, amateur and student independent South Australian filmmakers who have combined their talents to produce the digital web series. 

As John himself says; "Level 17 is an ambitious new web series that follows the story of Ethan; a college student who struggles to understand his destiny when time begins folding in on itself. With the conspiring IOB Corp putting Adelaide under martial law, Ethan forms a resistance to fight back and uncover the mystery behind the city’s lockdown. The only way to save his girlfriend, is to save the world. "

So to remind this who did read the post, or to let those who missed it know what the first episode was about, here is a brief re-cap. ........ any anyone who suggests that part of this are copied directly from my previous post about Level 17 on Saturday, 21 September 2013 are entirely mistaken and may well hear from my already overworked and underpaid legal team. You could also check out the blog piece itself - but don't read it too closely to check for similarities - SEE FOR YOURSELF.

"Smart, savvy and unpredictable, Ethan is a college student who struggles to understand his destiny when time begins folding in on itself. According to the mysterious arrival of Professor Anderson, the only way Ethan can save his gorgeous girlfriend Danielle is to save the world by any means necessary."

Let me say straight away that the seven-ish minutes of LEVEL 17 - Episode 1 was, barring a couple of minor gripes, very,very good. 

There is little time at the beginning of the episode for a namby pamby detailed exploration of the characters or plot here. Instead we are immediately faced with the sight of Gun toting Bio-suited soldiers rounding up civilians and chasing a rather excellent Alien down a city street (not an entirely unknown sight here in the North of Scotland….).

We then have essentially a few rip-roaring minutes of the main character Ethan (excellently played by Hjálmar Svenna) first being confronted by the sudden morphing of Professor Anderson into his kitchen (like that has never happened to me either), who proceeds to give our hero a cryptic message about saving his girl and the planet before morphing away once again. Ethan then spends the rest of the frantic episode being chased through the streets in an effort to evade the gun-wielding Bio-suits, whilst at the same time trying to locate the whereabouts of his girlfriend. A rather nice cliffhanger leaves us guessing as to who is hiding in the house he finds himself in at the end …..……..

The clip for episode 1 can be seen in the clip below.



So this brings up to date with the rather exciting news that the 2nd episode of Level 17 was released just this week on January 24th.........but is it any good?

The answer is a resounding YES - quite frankly, episode 2 is sensational. It would be grossly unfair for me to include any plot spoilers of the episode, and to be honest I truly hate reviews that include giveaways, even if they put a disclaimer first. After all, I can't be the only one that feels that an experience of not actually knowing what happens next is rather a good thing.

What I will divulge is that the efforts of the deeply suspicious IOB Corp. are still continuing to use the cover story of a deadly virus outbreak to hide their attempts at catching an alien on the loose on the streets of Adelaide . The action begins at the very moment episode 1 ended with our protagonist and hero, Ethan, in the house of his recently disappeared girlfriend. What takes place then is 10 minutes or so of genuinely rollicking entertainment as the chase hots up in and around the city.

As in the first episode the quality of the acting, filming and production of the material is exceptional - and that is not empty hyperbole, I sincerely mean it. Both visually and acoustically episode 2 of Level 17 is impressive. The cinematography and editing is excellent, as it the sound quality and musical accompaniment (an aspect of independent filming which often lets down the overall quality of film production). Not only is it exceptional in its craftsmanship - the music perfectly transforms and compliments the action, adding suspense and excitement to the scenes on screen.

I simply cannot praise the excellence of the whole production and genuinely cannot wait until episode 3!


Check out episode 2 for yourselves RIGHT HERE !

John and the team can be reached on the Level 17 Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/Level17webseries?fref=ts

John and his company have also recently have also launched their crowd funding campaign! Every dollar counts for them to continue creating this web-series! The link for the page is http://pozible.com/level17

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Graveyard Calling - A sublime Horror music record label

I firmly believe that somewhere it is written in the horror bible (probably in fresh, dripping blood) that one is simply not allowed to talk about anything that is horror music related without also mentioning, in hushed reverent tones, the words 'John" and 'Carpenter'. The reason is simple, the influence that the greatest director within the horror genre has had is almost immeasurable (he IS the greatest, and I'll challenge anybody who disagrees to a dual with freshly caught haddock). I'm not just talking about the quality of his film work - but his contribution to the horror music soundtrack is equally undeniable. 

Forced to write his own synthesiser music due to budgetary constraints in his first few movies Carpenter quickly realised the importance that music can provide. He has never been content to let a musical score simply accompany a film to fill the odd silence and occasionally add something to the overall effect. Instead his music often acted as a principle character in the story. 

The likes of Assault on Precinct 13 (the music written in a staggering three day period), Halloween ( where perhaps he created arguably his most iconic piece of movie soundtrack) and Escape from New York would be far the poorer if Carpenter hadn't taken real care and passion to intimately wed the music to the cinematography itself. There are times, particularly in films such as Halloween when the musical score seems to be pushing the action along rather than the opposite way round. Moreover, much of his music stands on its own merits as listenable in its own right.


So it warms the heart to know that the legacy of horror and sci-fi music is alive and well in the work that the good people of Graveyard Calling are doing. Not only are the UK based company releasing some sublime horror themed electronic music, they are also making sure that their work ethos has an innovative attention to classy detail that I admire greatly. An example of the quality of their work is the third release from the label in the summer of 2013 “…And out come the bats”. The album was a digital-only release of a stunning compilation of 15 vampire/bat-themed tracks that transgressed a number of genres - the stand-out track for me was the magnificent Werewolves in Siberia and their performance of The House of Nosferatu though in truth there wasn't a particularly week track in the collection, each containing the now trademark excellence of production values afforded by the Graveyard Calling label. 

The only thing missing was the company's innovative release of their productions in cassette format. I must admit, I'm not one for nostalgia, for me the digital download is perfect for my personal tastes and needs (hey, keep it clean!). However in my opinion, offering the choice of download or an assorted choice of out of this world cassette colours is nothing short of inspired genius. I still may at some point go searching in the dark recesses of my attic for my Sony Walkman - I know the damned thing is up there somewhere. Now who say's I'm not a follower of fashion?

So when I received an email from Tommy at Graveyard Calling and advising me in breathless hushed whispers of excitement that their fourth cassette-horror-double feature is out on February 4th, I was a little enthusiastic too. This feeling quickly turned to extreme excitement when Tommy mentioned that he thought I might like to check out the releases........ "Oh if I must " I thought, "listening to new and fresh electronic horror - let's buckle up and let the old ears indulge themselves" 

And indulge myself, I most certainly did. As of yet I have only managed  to listen at length to one of the releases - the album Alchemy, by the American artist, Vespar - and more of that in a moment. I hope to give a concerted listen in the near future to the 2nd release , Destination of Madness, by the Greek artist, Darknesss. Hmm, so much good music, yet so little time.

Vespar - Alchemy

Tracks

1) Slime
2) Goblin
3) Chimera
4) Pumpkin King (VIP)
5) Werewolf
6) Sleep (VIP)
7) Pyramid Head (VIP)

News of the first horror-double feature was described to me as ...."Fresh from the lab- US artist Vespar brings 7 tracks of transmutated-monsterstep! Includes 2 bonus tracks!" .....
"Hmmm, I thought to myself, 'transmuted-monsterstep', truly a statement to suck me in", well almost.....because I wanted to know a little more about this artist before I gave away a chunk of my valuable time to give a listen to it - after all, I have people to do and things to see, or at least something like that. I had questions and as luck would have it, I found answers.

So who is this Vespar chap?

"Vespar is a 20 year old music producer from Pennsylvania. He makes mostly dark and heavy music based around horror related things."

So how long has he been doing his dark and heavy horror related thing?

"Well it seems that he's been making music for about 9 years now, 4 years screwing around with 8 bit and 5 years EDM."

And just what makes him do what he does?

"He simply loves anything Halloween orientated and mainly anything most people would find scary."

Don't we all mate :-) Anyhoo, enough of this nonsense, what about the actual music?  I will be honest with you from the outset - I'm not an expert or aficionado of electronica. I know what I like but I can honestly say that i don't know my Theremin sounding hooks from my dub step wobs, beats and 8-bit chip tunes - so if you are expecting reverent recommendations of the complex synth riffs and booming baseline beats then you are going to be disappointed. There are people far more able and knowledgeable than me to talk about that sort of thing. Well, this is not hyperbole - but Alchemy simply blew me away. It is quite breathtaking.

The opening track, 'Slime' is a doom laden attack on the senses with it's unrelenting synth beat intermixed with periods of atmospheric calm that draw you in until the unrelenting chants of 'slime' with the deliciously persistent synth beat come at you once again - I've listened to this particular track countless times now and It remains as fresh and effective after the umpteenth play as it did the first time.

Pumpkin King (VIP) for me is the standout track of the album. The preview list contains two bonus tracks in addition to the list above, one of which is the original mix of Pumpkin King. The vision of the VIP version is as unadulterated and unrelenting as it is dark and beautiful - I'm currently listening to the track now as I write this and the feeling is quite intoxicating. One could easily set this song in some scene from gore filled horror fest or just as easily as the soundtrack for a more ethereal setting. This ensures the variations on Vespars album ethos keep the music entertaining and original throughout. 

The freshness transpires throughout the album as synth effects interact easily and seamlessly with traditional piano, guitar and traditional drum samples. The original mix Bonus track of Pumpkin King is deliciously dirty and raw and the feeling of this when hearing the track is to be enveloped in the driving force of the Pumpkin dream - the perfect accompaniment for drifting away on a sea of perfect horror synth.

There isn't one weak track within the list - I cannot recommend it highly enough.

This stunning piece of musical output is going to be available on chemical-green cassette! The advice is to preorder now for instant download of "Slime"........believe me, you will not regret it!


Darknesss - Destination of Madness

Greek darkpsy artist Darknesss takes you on a psychedelic journey into hell! Each track increases in pace- I must admit that I've only had the chance to give this a fleeting listen - however I can safely say that the press releases claim that you can "feel your sanity slipping away as you get closer to the end!" is no false proclamation. It is a pulsating and relentless assault on your senses - and I mean ALL of them!

The album is packaged in a transparent cassette! So if you wish to feel your last dregs of sanity be stripped away slice by slice then I suggest that you preorder now for instant download of "Horror Visions".


And if that wasn't enough...........


The good people at Graveyard Calling advise me that also out February 4th there is the following horror themed delicacies:

Gost - Skull

This apparently is "80s-horror-soundtrack influences mixed with electro beats/basslines. Second run on whiter-than-a-bleached-skull cassette! Only 30 made! You can preorder now for instant download of all 7 tracks!".......sounds bloody good to me folks!

Gost - S/T

Gost's new EP is going to be available on white cassette! Currently available to preorder as a bundle (including an awesome t-shirt) from Gost's band camp. You can preorder for instant download of "Ritual" and "Cascade". In addition, a digital-only version will be available from Girlfriend Records........so what are you waiting for??!!


Graveyard Calling can be located at these reputable establishments...

Their website CAN BE FOUND HERE

Their Facebook page  CAN BE FOUND HERE


You can tweet them HERE