Archive for July 13th, 2009

Music review: “Bits” by Arman Bohn

A beautiful and cleverly-shot HV20 video by music/video artist Arman Bohn for his song “Combat”. Arman’s first album is called “Bits“, and it’s inspired by classic video games.

The album can probably be classified as “easy listening indie pop with some electronic beats”, and it’s comprised by 13 songs. Its best songs are “Kaboom!” and “Combat” (toe-tapping, addictive hooks), followed (somewhat distantly) by “Warlords”, “Atlantis”, “No Escape!”, “Night Driver” and “Demons to Diamonds”. The music has a feel-good aura that should satisfy most indie (as in genre) listeners. The marriage of electro+rock in serene melodies make for one good calming listening session.

The lyrics are stellar. Smart, clear, and often epic. It’s obvious from the lyrics that Arman is one sharp guy.

On some tracks the keyboard is the main instrument, while on others the electric guitar, however both are usually are blanketed away by the constant vocals: not much of instrument solos/hooks are going on, which at the end makes the album sound a bit flat and repetitive. Only few tracks, like “Demons to Diamonds” have the music taking a front-row role compared to the vocals. For some of the songs to sound less flat, the tempo should have been upgraded to indie rock (rather than “pop”) with guitars taking over, while the vocals should have been a bit more aggressive. In other words, the album needed a bit more “nerve” in some places. One of the reasons why “Kaboom!” is so damn good, is because it takes that approach in its chorus.

Rating: 4/5

Tip: make your MP4 web exports stream

Users who export in web-sized MP4 h.264/AAC, primarily from Sony Vegas, create MP4 files that are not streamable via Flash (Flash has had MP4 decoding support for over a year now, but it requires the format to be tweaked, to be “streaming”). Vegas has no such option in their two h.264 encoders it carries. This means that if your MP4 is not streamable, it will have to completely download to the user’s browser cache before it can start playing back. And that can take a long time, aggravating your viewers…

A user over at HV20.com found a freeware utility that will allow users to load their stock MP4 files in it, and make them streamable in an instant. You just chuck your mp4 files in there, and off you go. You can then use them in conjunction to a Flash player application that supports h.264, to stream and playback on your web site (in case you don’t want to use Vimeo/YouTube for some reason).