My Second Day In Firewatch – A Write Up

Despite having my sheets stolen and my window smashed, I somehow managed to sleep last night.

My Second Day In Firewatch

I woke that morning feeling uneasy from the previous night’s events. This was followed by Delilah giving me the task of investigating the knocked-out communications that had been reported.

Once I was dressed and awake, I set off towards the cave entrance I found during the previous day. From here I continued north until I found the cables overhead. Following the cables up a mountain incline at Beartooth Point, past some discarded beer cans, I came to the top of the hill – and to where the communication wire had been cut clean.

I was sure that it was these bloody girls from yesterday who were responsible for cutting the wire. On continuing my investigation, I found their previous campsite abandoned. That is if you ignore the discarded beer cans about the floor. Continuing forward I came across a lone rucksack hanging from a tree, inside which I found a disposable camera and enough rope to last me a while.

I moved forward down the only trail I hadn’t yet investigated and came across a chain-linked fence, warning people to keep out. I wonder what could be on the other side? Onward I travelled on through a beautiful area known as Five Mile Creek. I followed the trail to the south west till I found the girls’ new campsite. This new site was also abandoned, only this time in a way that seems to have been violent in nature. The tent and discarded clothes had been torn and spread about the ground; the area was a state.

Just where could these girls have now got to?

In Conclusion

During my second day in Firewatch I managed to uncover more of my surrounding countryside. Some side areas may have been missed but I will go back and find them shortly. I am loving the sound design of this game – how the trees rustling in the breeze seem to be treated as part of the score. I love how the music is using sparingly and to great effect when it is. The isolation is a comfortable one at the moment, but I am expecting things to get darker pretty soon.

My First Day in Firewatch – A Write Up

Earlier on today I bought Firewatch for P.C. after hearing great reviews about it. Those reviews so far seem to be spot on.

My first day in Firewatch was an interesting one. The opening intersects a multiple-choice backstory for the main character with his trekking to his new place of work. The telling of this backstory was perfectly melancholic, piling on the loneliness and atmosphere of the great big empty wilderness.

The game is split into days, from what I’ve seen – having completed “Day One” so far. This seems like a really interesting way to approach this narrative. I can imagine the isolation of the game really kicking in once I get through the many days to come.

Day one consisted of my meeting a lady coworker – albeit on the radio. We exchanged witty banty, which was followed with my being given my first task – investigate nearby fireworks.

My First Day in Firewatch

I was told to head down to a nearby lake to investigate the nearby fireworks, which I found after negotiating the winding descent from my new place of work. On arrival I was greeted by discarded clothes, some rucksacks and the near-distant sound of music.

Following the sound into the woods I came to a clearing where I found the stereo next to me, and two girls – the culprits – over in the middle of the lake skinny-dipping. After I threw the stereo into the water they soon ran off, shouting obscenities, leaving me to negotiate my way back to home base.

The typewriter was lying at the foot of the watchtower’s steps on my return. The inside of the watchtower had been vandalised and the window had been smashed. I had my second feeling of fear in the game at this point. The first time came earlier but I don’t want to spoil that for anybody.

I assumed it was vandalised by the girls from before, but I doubt they could get back to their clothes, dress, and get back to the tower to trash it before I retured.

I guess time will reveal what happened.

First Impressions

My first day in Firewatch was very engrossing – it drew me into its wonderful isolation with ease and the occasional mild fright. The atmosphere is just the right side of isolation. It has a creepiness to it and I’m not actually sure yet if this is a horror game or not. I really hope not, ’cause it’ll be scaring the hell out of me soon if it is.

My taste in music and how it’s grown over the years

In the beginning

Growing up with great parents, I took a lot of my early tastes in music from them – my Dad specifically. But through growing up and exploring new styles, my taste in music has grown significantly.

I started by hearing bands like Fleetwood Mac; Supertramp; Meat Loaf; Whitesnake; to name a few, and I still have a place for them. In fact just this week I have been listening to Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell 2 again.

Jim Steinman is a composer mostly known for his work with Meat Loaf
Jim Steinman is a composer mostly known for his work with Meat Loaf

One of my favourite songwriters of all time is Jim Steinman – the composer behind Meat Loaf’s early music as well as many other theatre shows, films and varying other bands.

On leaving school and going to work in London I was about 18 years old and was getting into heavy metal and gothic rock. Bands like Marilyn Manson; Korn; Slipknot; Linkin Park often did the rounds on my little CD player – much to the annoyance of my co-workers.

Later on at college I would find myself being introduced to more rock bands – this time older bands like Iron Maiden; Judas Priest; Ozzy Osbourne.

Leaving Home

When I moved out of my parents’ house I moved in with a friend and her then-boyfriend, who was a DJ and producer. I would often hear him playing dance music and, although it never grew on me that much, still found it interesting to hear this new style. Alhtough saying that I did once go with him and some other friends to hear James Zabiela live, which was fucking insane. Also I did get introduced to Aphex Twin through him. He did also play older, more indie types of music too – like The Stone Roses and The Smiths which then turned me on to that style.

Aphex Twin is an experimental electronic musician
Aphex Twin is an experimental electronic musician

When I first moved out of my parents was also when I started teaching myself to play guitar. Because of this I inevitably started listening to more guitar orientated music. My taste in music grew to include Joe Satriani; Steve Vai; Paul Gilbert; and Buckethead big time. In fact I was pretty obsessed with these guys. I would also learn finger-picking folk music too. Artists like Joan Baez; Janis Ian; and Lindsey Buckingham were very inspiring to my learning.

Recent Years

Ladyhawke is an Australian multi-instrumentalist.
Ladyhawke is an Australian multi-instrumentalist.

When I was first learning the guitar and was looking for inspiring artists I became a bit of a music snob. If someone had suggested Taylor Swift back then I’d have laughed in their face. But things do change. I have since gotten into lots of female-led artists/bands. One of my all-time favourite artists now is Lana Del Rey. I also love people like Ladyhawke; Grimes; and yes, even Taylor Swift.

Also in recent years, in fact in the past 12 months or so, I have gotten really into Grime music – rap music mainly out of London, although it can be performed anywhere. Artists like JME; Big Narstie; Kano; Giggs. All these guys I love listening to. And often enjoy watching the BBC Radio One Fire In The Booth and the 60 Minute Takeovers.

The Future

As I go forwards I’ll continue to try and widen my taste in music. I probably wont like it all, but you don’t know until you explore. What I can say is that this past week I have been getting heavily into this whole Retro New Wave genre I’m hearing. I re-emergence of 80’s-inspired music. But the good, synth-led music; none of that bloody Culture Club stuff.

 

Half-Marathon training starts this week

On the 16th October this year I will be taking part in my second half-marathon. This will be the same route in Birmingham, UK.

The last time I did it, which was last year, I managed to strain my knee whilst training as I tried running too far, too fast, too soon.

This time I am going to be following an 8-week training guide, building myself up slowly and hopefully beating my previous time of 2 hours 16 minutes.

Star Trek Beyond was pretty good

Today me and my good lady went to see the new Star Trek film, Star Trek: Beyond. I had no expectations for it – I was neither excited or anticipating it to be bad; I just went and watched a film at the cinema. And as it turned out I enjoyed it.

This film felt like it was intentionally going for a low-key feel. By that I don’t mean it was boring or poorly made – it just felt like they weren’t trying to make a huge blockbuster; just an enjoyable night out at the cinema. And that, it was.

I especially loved the little twist at the start with Kirk delivering an item to a vicious-looking alien race. I wont spoil it for you but it did make me chuckle.

So yer, the new Star Trek – pretty good. Take your loved ones for some unapologetic space-roaming fun.

Who’s that knocking at the window(s)?

So yesterday I rage-quitted Windows 10 for its constant blue-screening.

None of my games would work under the Linux distro I installed.

So now I have re-installed Windows 10 with the vain hope of it working fine.

One thing I didn’t actually think about during my immature rage yesterday, was to debug the issue – first with the hardware. So apparently RAM is a major contributor towards the Blue Screen Of Death, as it is affectionately known, so I thought that would be a good place to start.

At the time of writing I have hoovered out my pc base, removed and blew dust from the ram slots, then re-installed. I also disabled the CPU unlock in my BIOS due to a new warning on my P.C. during boot.

So far no blue has been seen.

I’ll keep you posted as the story develops.

Ladyhawke – Wild Things Video

I can’t express how much Ladyhawke’s music has grown on me in the short month since I discovered her.

The song “Wild Things” was immediately one of my favourites from her latest album of the same name.

I have just seen the music video for this song and it has somehow made me love the song even more. Such a powerful song, and powerful delivery, make this one of my all time favourite songs I think.

The Bride by Bat For Lashes

On June the 25th, 2008 I went with some friends of mine to watch Radiohead play in Victoria Park in London. The were touring in support of their album “In Rainbows”, and in support of them was a then little-known artist called Bat for Lashes.

It is a huge regret of mine now that I didn’t pay more attention to her during her set. At the time I think she was still yet to release her first full-length album so in retrospect this seems to have been a really special show.

Since that day I have re-discovered her through her first two albums, “Fur and Gold” and “Two Suns”, and then her following album “The Haunted Man”. But it is her latest offering, the recently released “The Bride”, that I am now writing about.

Dark Hymns

The songs on this gorgeous album feel like dark hymns – dark and beautiful. They mesmerized me from the get go and I don’t think they’ll be letting go any time soon.

When singing, her voice reminds me of the late Sandy Denny; while in the spoken poem “Widow’s Peak”, she sparks memories of one of Nico’s first albums. These attributes of her’s plant her firmly in a position that is highly unique in today’s popular music scene.

More than a concept album

Indeed this is a concept album. Taken from wikipedia:

According to The Bride’s press release, the work is a concept album that follows the story of a woman, whose fiancé dies in a car crash on the way to their wedding. The album follows her as she decides to go on the honeymoon alone and her emotions as she deals with the tragedy.[5] Khan commented “the trauma and the grief from the death of Joe, the groom, … [is] … more of a metaphor and it allows me to explore the concept of love in general, which requires a death of sorts.”

Wikipedia

But not only is it a concept album, but the concept as a whole has been taken beyond the recorded medium. During initial tour dates in promotion of the album she performed within churches and asked her audience to come dressed in formal wear. This idea of taking a musical idea beyond simply the album has always interested me, since first hearing and seeing “The Wall” by “Pink Floyd”.

Song by Song

The album opens with the optimistic “I do”, which is where we meet our heroine, “The bride”. “I do” conjures up imagery of a bride singing to herself with an accompanying harp – the main instrument in the song. However we do get a subtle low string in there which gives that sense of foreboding of the tragedy that is pending.

The next chapter in the tale is “Joe’s Dream”, which starts us down the dark sound of the album with a sinister 3-note guitar riff and a distant thundering marching-like drum sound. These songs are soundscapes that you can close your eyes and escape into.

“In god’s house” just keeps upping the stunning arrangements that this album seems to keep presenting. Bat for Lashes always seems to create such unique soundscapes with her music and hearing this third song on the album reassured me that she still has the touch.

In God’s house I do wait
For my love on our wedding day
Dewy eyes and lashes long for my love
But I’m feeling something’s wrong

What’s this I see?
My baby’s hand on the wheel
What’s this I see?
Fire
Fire

“In God’s House” from the album “The Bride”

The albums fifth song, “Sunday Love”, takes a slight left turn stylistically. I mentioned earlier about the Radiohead concert I first saw her supporting – well this song’s opening reminded me of something you might hear from Radiohead in their “Amnesiac” / “Kid A” days. Although by this point I am in love with this album’s tone and mythology, this change in pace and sound was a refreshing minor detour.

The faster pacing of “Sunday Love” brings us perfectly into “Never Forgive The Angels” and “Close Encounters” and their slower paces. The latter of the two has a great display of Natasha Khan’s ability to bring an uplifting feeling out of the Bride’s mourning.

Two thirds into the album and we come to the spoken word “Widow’s Peak” as mentioned earlier. This choice of having a spoken word section was something I also loved on Lana Del Rey’s album Honeymoon too. This song has one of my favourite pieces of imagery in the album too, the last line of the following:

There’s a demon loose, a demon loose
I can’t get home, I can’t get home
For the road is a snake of mist
And the shadow of a rebel’s fist
His jacket on my back, his bones on the shore
But the secret of dreams is to dream up a door
A portrait of him, a picture of her
A keyhole in a Douglas fir

“Widow’s Peak” from the album “The Bride”

By the time we get to the closing three songs of the album, our heroine is becoming optimistic about the future with the song “I Will Love Again” and the uplifting feel of the penultimate song “In Your Bed”.

The Perfect Marriage

Through writing about this album it has forced me to look deeper into it; into its songs and their words. I am so glad I did choose this album to write about next. “The Bride” is a grand accomplishment and does so much in its 13 songs. At a little under an hour long, this album is the perfect story to listen to when you want to experience more from music than simply the music you hear. If you want to be taken on a story across one woman’s emotional journey from dark beginnings to her destination of acceptance and optimism for the future, then this album is for you.

“The Bride” is the perfect marriage of storytelling, emotion and great song writing.

The new Ghostbusters film wasn’t terrible

When I first saw the trailer to this film I had the same thoughts as many fans of the original film – “oh great, another classic film that somebody’s gonna kill off”. But I went to see it today based on the positive reviews I’d seen and do you know what? I actually enjoyed the film.

While I still love the original film way more than the new one, the new film did have many good points to it. One of which was a surprise role played by Jared from Silicon Valley.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice though was the annoying inclusion of cameos from the original cast throughout as well as one certain rock personality. These cameos actually took me out of this film’s experience albeit for a moment – all just to appease die-hard fans no doubt.

Also I couldn’t help but notice how the only woman without qualifications and scientific knowledge was the sassy stereotyped black woman. Maybe I’m looking to deep into it but It’s something that did stick out a bit.

But all in all I did actually enjoy the film. It was a funny Saturday night movie with a few jumps and lots of funny moments throughout.

Fast Moving Cars by Carla dal Forno

This single, and indeed its accompanying song, “Better Yet”, is one of the nicest musical surprises I’ve had recently. I’d never heard of Carla Dal Forno before stumbling upon the song “Fast Moving Cars”.

The songs on here are so wonderfully bleak, especially “Better Yet”. I don’t know what it is about the atmosphere that these songs have, or what feelings they evoke, all I know is I can not wait for her debut album.