Splash FM Website of the Day, 1st August 2005. Be Impressed.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Peter Mulvey - Deep Blue

After World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov’s 1996 defeat of the computer Deep Blue, 1997 saw a rematch between the cold, emotionless chess machine and IBM’s computer.

The project that was to become Deep Blue began in the 1980’s and was called Deep Thought (after the computer in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and twice lost to Garry Kasparov in 1989 – chiefly because it kept trying to make the move ‘42’. IBM, aka Big Blue, took over the project, changed the name and set about working out ways of using it as a promotional tool.

Although during the 1996 match Deep Blue become the first computer to win a game against a reigning world champion under tournament conditions, Kasparov won the match at a fairly comfortable 4 – 2.

However, the rematch saw Kasparov struggling. After the first five games the match was all square. At that point Kasparov’s puny human brain gave way and, according to those who know, he rook-ed it up completely. True to form Kasparov blamed anyone but himself. He complained that the computer had been reprogrammed between games, had been programmed specifically to beat him and even that humans had been helping Deep Blue select its moves.

I think Emo Philips summed up the battle between man and machine best when he said, “A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.”

Today’s track comes from the previously chronicled Peter Mulvey’s 1997 album, also called Deep Blue. The song was inspired by Deep Blue despite having lyrics that don’t refer to it in any way whatsoever.

Peter Mulvey – Deep Blue

Buy Deep Blue

Watch the match

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Andrew Bird – Oh So Insistent.

A person with a fine and pure heart will find love. Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Most music scenes end up dragging along a few unwilling participants whose music stretches far beyond the constricts of the fad. Such was the case with Andrew Bird.

Bird began his career playing fiddle extensively with The Squirrel Nut Zippers (although he was never formerly a member of the group). However, his influences and virtuosity quickly saw him venture far beyond the confines of swing music as was demonstrated on his 1997 album Music of Hair.

Bird’s virtuosity is usually ascribed to his training under the Suzuki Method. Suzuki classes begin at age 5, have a strict repertoire for students to follow and are told to, “only practice on the days you eat,” - a philosophy that explains why Victoria Beckham never learnt to sing. Despite the insistence on hard work, the Suzuki method is cutesier than a skip full of cross-eyed kittens and asserts that the most important ingredient in music really is love.

After his stint with The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Bird was inevitably eager to stretch his legs stylistically; which he certainly did on Music of Hair. The record is split into three distinct genres. Oh So Insistent, with its heavy debt to Klezmer, comes from the North American section.

Bird has spent most of his career being a little embarrassed by Music of Hair as it was only later that he developed his own, distinct sound. However, the obvious enjoyment with which he launches himself into the various styles makes it easily my favourite of his.

Andrew Bird – Oh So Insistent

Buy Music of Hair on iTunes