From twangy civil war chimes to modern songs of protest, love, and sadness set across both acoustic and electric soundscapes, the American folk scene’s makeup has changed drastically since laying its foundations back in revolutionary times. However, as a genre meant for bards to weave their tales and stories and convey them with utmost intimacy folk’s roots have largely stayed the same despite the rise of Greenwich village folk, Dylan going electric, or the Mumfordian movement of recent times.
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Space is lonely, even the name implies distance and solitude. On Earth, we are often just a few feet or yards from other people, but just a quick jump to the closest solar system (Alpha Centauri) would take four years traveling at the speed of light. Even Mars, the closest planet to Earth, is six months away by contemporary space travel. You can fly to China in twelve hours, drive from New York to LA in two or three days, but in space, time is stretched out and distance becomes truly unfathomable. So for a game like No Man’s Sky, which to some degree prides itself on its realistic scale of size to the universe, it should come as no surprise just how lonely playing the game can be. As the title of the game implies, there is no one around, and the gameplay echoes this concept like a blunt object over the head.
To call intelligent life scarce in No Man’s Sky would be an understatement. The player traverses vast uncategorized planets filled with plants, animals, and fish, but often little to nothing that can talk to the player. There are occasional intelligent aliens that the player runs into, but these encounters are brief and due to the game’s science fiction leanings, are spoken in a language that the player often doesn’t understand. There is a debate as to whether or not No Man’s Sky has “true” multiplayer, in which two players can be on the same planet simultaneously and hang out, but even if it does, the chances of running into another player are about the same as running into another human if there were only a dozen on earth.
Dan Kok: If there was a sole heir to the spacey, futuristic musical stylings of Parliament Funkadelic or Sun Ra’s Arkestra, it just might be Mndsgn. With this heavily funk inspired track and a psychedelic space-cult video to accompany it, the LA producer has made his influences fairly clear. There’s a sense that, to his credit, Mndsgn doesn’t take himself or the music too seriously. But with that mentality, the song ends up being mostly fun without being all that memorable. [7/10]
Chris Ingalls: A producer’s producer who’s manned the boards for everyone from U2 to Bob Dylan to Brandon Flowers, Lanois seems to enjoy bouncing back and forth between experimentation and straightforward pop/rock. On “Deconstruction”, he’s definitely embracing the former, employing some fuzzy, guitar-centric ambient soundscapes reminiscent of Robert Fripp (and perhaps taking a cue from Le Noise, the 2010 album he produced for Neil Young). Lanois provides a unique, somewhat soothing mood with this particular sonic departure, and I can only hope the rest of the album is this interesting. [8/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: Banging from the very first beat. This song layers cool on cool, laid-back vocals and driving, droning guitar, all leading to a simple chorus that’s easy to shout along with. The Pixies spend the entire two minutes at maximum power, a well-oiled machine. They’re at their tightest here, not a piece out of place from its speedy beginning until it glides to a final stop. A satisfying burst of energy. [8/10]