Friday, September 25, 2009

Halloween music

Well, I wasn't really going to talk more about Halloween music, but since that raging fangirl nicole can't leave me alone with her very poor understanding of rhetoric (or the concept of checking definitions before posting words with which she's obviously only vaguely familiar) it's been on my mind a fair bit.

Let's recap what I said, shall we? Just so that there's no confusion for anyone who's capable of a rational conversation in the English language.

1) I knew of Midnight Syndicate from a year or two ago. I used to be disparaging of the whole idea of what they did, preferring to listen to actual movie soundtracks with real orchestras and all that jazz, but after giving them a listen at a Halloween store, I bought into the idea and picked up a few Midnight Syndicate CDs. They weren't bad, and for a certain kind of mood evocation, I arguably didn't have anything that worked better.

2) This autumn I became aware of another band working in the same medium called Nox Arcana. I also found out that Nox Arcana and Midnight Syndicate had a shared history; one Joseph Vargo was a significant part of Midnight Syndicate's early history as a producer and "creative director" and he's also the founder of Nox Arcana.

3) I also later found out that they left on pretty bad terms; I read in particular an interview that Joseph Vargo had done for Gaming Report, and left hosted on his own site. Based on Vargo's own comments, I got the impression that Vargo was a egotistical prima donna, and that he came off as a bit of a jerk. I said as much here on my blog.

4) On Wikipedia, I found out that Vargo had also alleged that Midnight Syndicate had plagiarized the concept of his own CD Darklore Manor when they made The 13th Hour. I knew enough about copyright law to know that you can only copyright the specific expression of an idea, not an idea itself, so the fact that he would even make this attempt made him look even more like a jerk. I also commented that it was ironic that he would make that claim, and then go on to record albums that were very obviously "inspired by" Midnight Syndicate CDs.

5) This prompted me to do a few other Google searches, and I found the court document from Case 1:07-cv-01197-JG that showed that the plagiarism claim was thrown out of court. As of course it would be, as anyone even kinda sorta familiar with US copyright law could easily have predicted.

That's it. nicole's claims that I'm a Midnight Syndicate fanboy are absurd; I said right up front that I'm still pretty skeptical about their musical acumen for one thing. Her claims that there's more going on then what I've posted about are probably quite true; of course there is. However, that's irrelevent to me, because I'm only posting about what I'm posting about and I'm not posting about what I'm not posting about. Duh. Plus, her claims are based on rumor and hearsay which she sadly doesn't know how to distinguish from actual evidence or proof.

Anyway, enough about nicole. I've been tempted to reinstate comment moderation because of her, and her ridiculous protectionism of her goth idol Joseph Vargo. Vargo is a (very, very minor) public figure, and as such anything he says publicly is open to criticism, and contrary to her delusions, that is neither slander, libel, defamation or anything else even closely similar to that. Especially when I've been very careful to not comment on anything that was a rumor or hearsay, even when she brought up speculation and hearsay and demanded that I change my opinion because of it.

My comment number 4 above, though, has prompted me to propose an experiment, which I'll probably start next week when I've maybe got some time to start it. This experiment is based on two ideas: 1) although Nox Arcana's sample mp3s didn't impress me too much, that's partly because they were out of context. Now that I have some (most) of their complete CDs, I think that they're the equal of Midnight Syndicate, certainly. In fact, I'd venture to say that almost 99 out of 100 people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between their work anyway. I personally don't have any horse in this ridiculous online factionalism between them; I'm not a fan of one and not the other, and I think it would be absurd to be so when the music is so literally the same. 2) As a mentioned above, Midnight Syndicate and Nox Arcana each have a number of albums that focus on the same themes. NA alleges that Darklore Manor was "copied" in The 13th Hour while I snicker and point out that they have several CDs that did the same thing to pre-existed MS albums, so they really should both just shut their traps about it at get back to work recording more music.

However, why not put these matched pairs in head-to-head competition with each other? Here's my proposal, I'm going to listen to each matched pair album twice; once just to listen through and once to make notes and observations. Granted, this kind of music is "background music" so I expect that my attention will also wander a bit, but that's why I'm going to do it twice to give myself time to really catch whatever differences there are between them, and then I'm going to write a head-to-head competitive review of each matched pair, picking which one I think is my favorite and explaining why.

This may be more difficult than I think; it occurs to me that there may not be an easy way to pick a favorite with music that's so similar in tone, theme, and execution, but I'm going to make the attempt anyway. Also, before I can completely do all the matched pairs, I need to actually find one more of the CDs still. I may have to download Blood of the Dragon as an amazon mp3 album (for $8.99---not a bad deal) in order to do this, but that's OK.

Here's the matched pairs. I'm listing the MS one first, just because I already had them and it's easier for me. Plus, M is before N in the alphabet:

  • Midnight Syndicate's The 13th Hour vs. Nox Arcana's Darklore Manor
  • Midnight Syndicate's Vampyre vs. Nox Arcana's Transylvania
  • Midnight Syndicate's Dungeons & Dragons vs. Nox Arcana's Blood of the Dragon
  • Midnight Syndicate's Gates of Delirium vs. Nox Arcana's Blackthorn Asylum

Anyway... may be the best albums win!

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