It’s Nyango Star!

Photo: “Nyango Star” — a costumed mascot that looks like a cat/apple hybrid, sitting at a drum kit.

It’s impossible to describe Nyango Star with mere words. This video will do a much better job:

Nyango Star is a mascot for Kuroishi City in Japan’s Aomori prefecture, on the northernmost tip of Honshu (the main island), and Japan’s largest producer of apples. In a design decision that makes perfect sense if you’re Japanese, Nyango is:

  • An apple (therefore a perfect mascot for Aomori)…
  • possessed by the spirit of a dead cat (???)…
  • who in the fusion was granted awesome metal drumming superpowers.

The name also makes perfect sense if you’re Japanese:

  • “Apple” in the Japanese language is “ringo”.
  • “Nyan” means “meow”.
  • And, of course, the name is a pun on Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

Here’s a Vice documentary about Nyango Star:

Here’s a great video — Professional vs. Beginner Drummer — in which somehow Nyango, a mascot in an apple/cat costume with fixed facial features is displaying more emotion than the human:

Here’s Nyango doing a drum cover of the Japanese pop tune Futon no nakakara detakunai, which translates as “I don’t want to leave my futon”:

And I’ll close with this observation: Only in Japan can you assemble a crowd of seniors at a concert hall to watch an apple/cat mascot drum along to Slayer’s Raining Blood:


Mash-up of the day: Buffalo Springfield and Young MC — “Stop and Bust a Move”

Mash-up expert Bill McClintock took Buffalo Springfield’s 1966 anthem, For What It’s Worth and Young MC’s 1989 dance floor-filler (and one of my favorite accordion karaoke numbers) Bust a Move — both tunes with a I-IV chord progression — and melded them into this hybrid musical gem:

Music Stranger than Fiction The Current Situation

The day Mike Pence became a Soundgarden lyric

He was also Outshined.

If you watched the vice presidential debate on CNN last night, you saw the fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head and stayed there for over two minutes. The New York Times wrote about it, Fox News is spinning it, the Biden campaign is having fun with it:

Twitter in general was having fun with it:

…and I was reminded of Drawing Flies, an underappreciated gem from Soundgarden’s 1991 album, Badmotorfinger. Here are the lyrics:

Sitting here like uninvited company
Wallowing in my own obscenities
I share a cigarette with negativity
Sitting here like wet ashes
With x’s in my eyes and drawing flies

Bathed in perspiration drowned my enemies
Used my inspiration for a guillotine
I fire a loaded mental cannon to the page
Leaning on the pedestal that holds my self denial
Firing the pistol that shoots my holy pride
Sitting here like wet ashes
With x’s in my eyes, and drawing flies

I’ll say hey, what you yelling
About, conditions, permission, mirrored self affliction
Hey, what you yellin’ about sadist’s
Co-addiction, perfect analogies
Hey, what you yellin’ about conditions
Permission mirrored self affliction
Leaning on the pedestal that holds my self denial
Firing the pistol that shoots my holy pride
Sitting here like wet ashes with x’s in my eyes
And drawing flies (flies)

Sitting here like uninvited company
Wallowing in my own obscenities
Share a cigarette with negativity
Leaning on the pedestal that holds my self denial
Firing the pistol that shoots my holy pride
Sitting here like wet ashes
With x’s in my eyes and drawing flies

But enough talk — crank up the speakers, and put it on!

Music Stranger than Fiction

When you love the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” but don’t know the language

This performance — as seen on Brazilian TV show Alerta Amazonas — perfectly captures  the Spirit of 2020 like nothing else: Incredibly flawed, but damn it, we’re going to soldier through it somehow.

It’s my new favorite cover of Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 hit, Total Eclipse of the Heart:

Some days we’re the singer, some days we’re the twirling guy.

In case you were wondering what my old favorite version was, it’s Hurra Torpedo’s cover:

And for old times’ sake, here’s the original:

Thanks to Raymi the Minx for the find!


OF COURSE you can play a kickin’ dance tune on a watermelon!

I had no real plans for the weekend, but after watching this video, I feel like running out to Bearss Groves to buy a watermelon and a kiwi fruit (a.k.a. the fruit formerly known as the Chinese gooseberry):

That’s French electronic music artist Mezerg, whose videos aren’t just vehicles for catchy 4/4 dance numbers, but are interesting performance art pieces.

Here’s another video of his, where he’s jamming on the theremin, using it as a combination volume control and low-pass filter:

You can see more of his videos on his YouTube channel and his Facebook page.


The Venova is a strange, interesting, and inexpensive instrument

Because I play the accordion and other keyboard instruments and sometime do a search on them, I see ads for musical instruments from time to time. Lately, I’ve been seeing ads for the thing pictured above.

They were banner ads, so the photo was tiny. At first glance I thought it was an ad for PVC pipes. Then I saw the text: Casual wind instrument. And it sells for less than $100.

When something is that cheap and described in such bland terms, it’s usually bad. Think of Zima: “Clear malt beverage”. Or the more accurate Canadian term for what gets called “American cheese” in the U.S.: “Processed cheese food”.

This thing has a name: It’s the Venova, made by Yamaha.

“The Venova is a completely new type of wind instrument,” says the website, “that is easy to learn. With simple fingerings and a sound like a saxophone, you can be playing music in no time!”

While it looks like PVC pipe, it’s actually made of its stronger cousin, ABS. It should take a drop without chipping (and definitely without denting), and it’s supposed to be water washable.

Here’s the burning question: What does it sound like?

Let’s first check out the Venova under the most ideal conditions: Professional musicians, recorded in a music studio, with the benefits of a little sound processing, backing tracks, and multiple takes:

Here’s the Venova under conditions you’re more likely to encounter: not in a music studio, occasionally with a backing track, but still being played by a professional musician:

Here’s a setting that you might find really familiar: In a music store, no backing tracks, just a decent player and the instrument:

Want some more in-depth reviews? Here are a few that take a closer look at the instrument:

There’s a lot of clever design in the Venova. There’s the “branched pipe”:

This gives the Venova a more complex sound. Yamaha’s promo material says that it helps make the Venova sound more like a conical wind instrument (such as the saxophone) than a cylindrical one (such as the recorder).

There’s also the “meandering pipe”:

It gives the Venova a longer air column in the same linear length. This allows for two things:

  1. More complex harmonics
  2. Shorter distances between finger holes (which means that you can play it as if it were a recorder)

If I taught music at school, I’d give the Venova a look. It’s got a lot of the qualities that might make it a good instrument for musical education: Easy to play, in the key of C, durable, inexpensive.

Finally: There’s one wind instrument player I’d love to see on the Venova — the one and only Saxsquatch. C’mon, Yamaha, if it retails for under $100, you can easily send him one!

Music Play

Straight Outta Fountain

Titled as found:

Soda dispensing machine with a picture of Ice Cube on the ice dispenser

“It was a good day / Nobody watered down my Minute Maid…”

(Don’t get it? This might help.)