I’ve been listening to famed cellist Zoe Keating’s new album, Into the Trees, which is streaming for free up on her site here. It’s wonderful. I can’t ever really listen to instrumental music for that long, because I’m more held by and drawn to rock songs with typical structure and vocals and that’s just how my brain works, but as far as all-instrumental albums go, this one is pretty awesome. It goes all over the place like good cello should, it’s deep and rich and sonorous and adventurous, it rolls from frenetic to melancholy and back over and over. I first heard of Zoe Keating’s work when she was a band member of Rasputina; Raspy almost singlehandedly inspired my love of the cello.
I read the interview with Zoe Keating in (the current) Issue 5 of Coilhouse Magazine, and it was pretty interesting. Zoe details her self-publishing of all of her music and how getting a big record deal is maybe obsolete in this electronic age, when she gets $.70 from each iTunes sale and major record companies that once rejected her as too much of a risk are now asking after her, offering a “good deal” – half the profits. As she says, “Yeah, right.”
Natalie Shau is a well-known artist within the world of gothic, cutesy/dark, Pop Surreal, Victorian-inspired art.
She is a Lithuanian digital artist who creates these beautiful, frail, porcelain-textured female figures hailing from the imaginary Victorian world, replete with distorted/exaggerated features, giant glassy eyes, milk-honey skin – a combination of glossy realism and unreality. They appear to be vulnerable, hurt, exploited, and dangerous, powerful, razor-edged at the same time.
Shau often uses herself as a subject for her works, and is gorgeous in her own right. She cites “religious imagery, fairytale illustrations, classic horror literature, and classic Russian literature” as some of her inspirations.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly is one of my favorite video games.
It’s creepy, moving, and engaging. It has some of the best voice acting in a video game I’ve ever heard. I love the tender/complex/dependent relationship between Mayu and Mio, which does remind me a little of the one in A Tale of Two Sisters. Mayu, the weaker sister, is the one who seems so much more emotionally vulnerable, and who needs to be taken care of by Mio, but is sometimes left behind by her, even though it’s not fully intentional.
Mayu and Mio are two sisters who come to a deserted place called All Gods Village. The game mostly takes place in these eerily elegant, sparely furnished, minimalistic Edo-period houses, inhabited by many, many ghosts. They try to piece together the story of the Crimson Butterfly Sacrifice, a ritual that took place periodically in the village where two twins were sacrificed to seal off the entrance to the Hellish Abyss. This failed during the last ceremony, causing the village to be annihilated. There’s only one weapon, the Camera Obscura, an old camera from the 19th century which can capture images of ghosts and exorcise them.
The horror of the game builds up; at some point, it becomes genuinely creepy. It’s like watching a horror movie unfold, and to be actually playing it yourself and going through the actions intensifies the dread. The ghosts are varied and move in creepy, bizarre ways; examples are the Falling Woman, who repeatedly falls from the ceiling, shrieking, and squirms/wiggles on her back towards you, and the Hanged Woman, whose neck is bent at an impossible angle. The Twin Sisters, who are undeniably twisted victims, seriously creeped me out; I never knew when they’d pop up again, whispering, “Why do you kill?”
The only faults I found are that at some point after the middle of the game, the dialogue, including the letters and journals you find, and the stones from which you can hear people’s thoughts on a special radio, becomes kind of repetitive and barely tells you anything more. It doesn’t seem as well-developed as the earlier dialogue. Video games never, ever tie up in a satisfactory way for me, because they’re not movies; they are always something of a letdown. I don’t know what I was expecting, but somehow the resolution just wasn’t quite engaging/explanatory/psychically fulfilling enough for me. I felt like the message of the ending I got was contradictory to everything I thought about the game. My general attitude towards the Village and the Ritual was that they just perpetuated a traditional evil in some misguided attempt for collective security. But it seemed like the ending implied that compliance was okay, or resistance impossible/fruitless. Like sometimes you need to just close your eyes and let an external force take you over and lead you over the precipice. It was also kind of abrupt. That’s hard for me to accept. I don’t know if the other endings have a different tone.
But I still love it.
I’d give it 4.5 out of 5 ♥s.
A brilliant product photo from clothing designer Heartless Revival. Dark, moody, soft-atmosphered, and pretty.
The ever-illustrious and uber-multi-talented Destroyx (about whom I posted earlier and whose blog is quite frankly one of the most awesome things ever) has just launched a new little collection of false eyelashes, whose tag line is “Fierce Lashes for Femme Fatales,” as part of her cosmetics/style project Miss X Aesthetic Labs. They are inspired by her vision of neo-decadent Paris in the year 2050, and her customary fusion of the vintage and the futuristic. This promotional photo above is pure awesome. My personal favorite of the lashes are the “Bohème Sauvage” ones.