Isolation Years

Hello from the world of isolation and social distancing!

As I don't have better things to do, I decided to finally give some love to this blog. I updated the dependencies (yeah, got warnings about vulnerabilities…) and refactored the build system. It's still not ideal and I had completely forgotten how everything works. That's not really a surprise as I initially migrated this site from WordPress.com to a Hugo static site generator about 2 years ago.

I have very much developed a love hate relationship towards Webpack. It's really cool when everything works, but it's also really complicated to tweak an existing configuration. Hugo doesn't have the lowest learning curve either so my blog feels like an unmaintainable mess. Creating apps like this is easy if you work on them every day. You just keep building knowledge and it stays in your memory until you have that long break and everything you once mastered has been forgotten.

Theme editing is not something I need to do often. I just build it once and it's done until something needs to be changed. I wasn't able to get the live reload working in development mode and I can't remember if that has ever even worked.

I also had to tweak the manifest structure to be able to read it from Hugo templates. That's something potentially breaking in the future. Technical debt, I know, I know. Maybe I should just migrate to Gatsby?

If you have any tips how to improve this mess, I have made the source code for this blog public on GitHub. PRs welcome as usual.

Best of 2010s - The Forest Seasons

The second pick on my albums of the decade list is The Forest Seasons by Wintersun.

I heard Wintersun's music for the first time in 2006 when I started getting more and more into folk metal. I have no memory of how I found the band, but back then they had released only one album. Everyone was waiting for the upcoming masterpiece, later to be titled as Time I, but that's not really their best album. Don't get me wrong though, it is an insanely good album as well and has the most beautiful intro I've ever heard.

In my opinion, The Forest Seasons easily beats Time I. It's an epic 4-track-long masterpiece paying homage to The Four Seasons violin concerto by Antonio Vivaldi.

The Four Seasons is a crowdfunded album. I was very dubious whether the campaign would ever succeed and there was lots of bashing across the music forums against the wishes to build a sauna in the studio! Despite the scepticism, the campaign became a great success! Wintersun raised £398,076 in total by 9330 funders (that's about £42.66pp) and that made The Forest Seasons possible.

The album contains a track for each season and all of them are between 12 and 15 minutes long. They are epic masterpieces containing influences from power metal, symphonic metal, folk metal and even black metal.

The frontman Jari Mäenpää is a multi-instumentalist and an incredible musician. He has played all the instruments for the album except the drums. As far as I know, the drums are programmed but one cannot really tell the difference. The modern drum and cymbal samples are indistinguishable from an acoustic drum kit.

There is speeding on a rhytmic highway, building up a scene for an epic battle, double bass drums running like a clockwork and of course blast beats and growling vocals and epic choirs. This is Skyrim metal at its best!

My favourite track is the third track called Eternal Darkness (Autumn). It's very much a black metal track with a decent amount of blast beats and melancholic melodies. Go ahead and listen if you like this kind of stuff!

Best of 2010s - Until the Water Runs Clear

My first pick for the albums of the decade is Until the Water Runs Clear by Black Casino and the Ghost.

I found this band in early 2016 when they were warming up for Kula Shaker at Roundhouse. I had just agreed to accept an offer for a job in Berlin and was packing my belongings in London. I felt sad and didn't really want to leave, but it was such a great opportunity to be able to live in a new country that I had to take it.

This album kept my longing for London alive until I finally decided to move back. I don't think the band has really been active recently and as far as I know their amazing singer is living in Italy nowadays. I'd be happy to hear more of their music in the future!