ANNIVERSARIES

Amit Khanna 1-Mar | K.P.Sivanandam 1-Mar | Nik Kershaw 1-Mar | Roger Daltrey (Who) 1-Mar | Anandji (Kalyandji) 2-Mar | Rajeshwari Sachdev 2-Mar | Sagarika Soni 2-Mar | Lou Reed (Velvet Underground) 2-Mar | Shankar Mahadevan 3-Mar | Gautam Pyarelal 4-Mar | Chris Rea 4-Mar | Mary Wilson (Supremes) 4-Mar | Aleque Padamsee 5-Mar | T.V.Sankaranarayanan 7-Mar | Peter Wolf (J. Geils Band) 7-Mar | Zakir Hussain 9-Mar | Anwar Ali 10-Mar | Kalyanji Singh 11-Mar | Falguni Pathak 12-Mar | Al Jarreau 12-Mar | James Taylor 12-Mar | Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane) 12-Mar | Anaida 13-Mar | Paloma J. 14-Mar | Sameer Sen 14-Mar | Ila Arun 15-Mar | Pushpa Pagdhare 15-Mar | V.V.S.Murari 15-Mar | Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) 15-Mar | Lalit (Jatin) 16-Mar | Pamela Jain 16-Mar | V.V.Subramaniam 16-Mar | Nancy Wilson (Heart) 16-Mar | Alisha Chinai 18-Mar | Chitra Singh 18-Mar | Suresh Thomas 18-Mar | Irene Cara 18-Mar | D.K.Pattammal 19-Mar | Alka Yagnik 20-Mar | Jimmy Vaughan (Fabulous Thunderbirds) 20-Mar | Bobbil1 Keshavayya 21-Mar | Ustad Bismillah Khan 21-Mar | Sarang Dev 23-Mar | Dilijit Kaur 24-Mar | Dilip Sen 24-Mar | Muthuswamy Dikshitar 24-Mar | Aretha Franklin 25-Mar | Elton John 25-Mar | Diana Ross 26-Mar | Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) 26-Mar | Ashok Jain(Vinus) 27-Mar | Lovv Khussh 27-Mar | Dinesh Raheja 31-Mar | Rajesh Sharma 29-Mar | Celine Dion 30-Mar | M.C. Hammer 30-Mar | Sidharth Kannan 31-Mar | Angus Young (AC/DC) 31-Mar

Hot News

Interviews

Gigs

Billboard Music Awards 2017

21/05/2017

Mumbai

Justin Bieber- The Purpose World Tour

10/05/2017

Mumbai

Midem, the International B2B Music Market

06/06/2017

Mumbai

Features

Making ISPs Accountable

It’s been less than a year since we obtained a court order directing ISPs to block 104 illegal websites but we have not been sitting back in the meantime. Last month we obtained another injunction from the Kolkata High Court directing ISPs to block a further 162 illegal websites. In our continued efforts to fight piracy, IMI had been gathering necessary data on websites hosting copyrighted content or providing links to the same and with this data we have approached the court.
As on the previous occasion our argument, despite the ISPs as usual arguing that it is impossible for them to police the entire web, was that once the websites have been identified it was binding on them to take action against the infringing websites. The court taking note of the argument has once again granted an injunction in our favour. What is important here is that courts have recognized the validity of the argument that ISPs cannot wash off their responsibility for websites involved in infringing activity through their services.
In the US the SOPA and PIPA Bills were scuttled due to protests from the internet community, technology companies and proponents of open access to information. Stake holders then adopted various strategies including three strikes, directly engaging with known pirates and other legal action. We at IMI have studied these strategies and reasoned that the audience for Indian music predominantly lies within India, whereas much of the illegal sites operate from outside India. So if traffic from these sites to Indian consumers is blocked we can put a stop to much of the internet piracy of Indian music and films. This is why ISPs need to be made accountable for blocking the illegal websites. We have achieved this through the Kolkata High Court orders, after the first of which, about 70 percent of the 104 illegal websites have been blocked by all the ISPs. So continuing with this strategy we obtained a second order to block a further 162 illegal websites and we expect to see some results by way improved digital revenues.
It is worth noting that on February 28, an England and Wales High Court, in a case filed by record companies, has also issued a blocking order against six UK ISPs for websites on their services carrying on infringing activity,. Following recent Indian High Court decisions, a similar trend is observed in the UK too, which seems to vindicate our strategy of holding ISPs accountable for the activity on their services.
To move on, the festival season which has come to a close witnessed some top international acts including GunsNRoses, Swedish House Mafia, Deep Forest and Norah Jones to name a few. Today India is on the tour map of the best acts in the world and no longer a country given the go by. Yet we still lack a world class large capacity concert venue like the Madison Square Garden or the Wembley Stadium which would have made all the difference in making India an attractive tour destination for major international acts.
School board exams are underway and talking of exams what better than small doses of music for kids, wound up due to exam tension, to relax. Probably kids know this better than us and we do wish all the kids appearing for their school and college exams all the very best. But we need to make kids understand that copying music is as much of an offence as copying in exams.

Music Therapy

“I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music." Billy Joel. Allopathy, (the most commonly used system of medicine) is fast on the wane, with most people wanting to try something new. And the good news is that today people can choose from more than a 100 alternative medicines, ranging from traditional Ayurveda to Naturopathy to Aromatherapy to Music Therapy.

Music therapy however, is not a new therapy and has been around for centuries. In the Bible in 1: Samuel: 16:23 we read: “Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him”

So how does Music therapy work? Experts say it does two things:
1. It acts as an alternative for a sedative, drug or tranquillizers which would be prescribed in allopathy.
2. It is believed to increase the metabolic properties of the human body. It is also said to accelerate our breathing and improve the body’s muscular activities, soothe the Central Nervous System and Circulatory System of the listener as well as of the performer. Music therapy is believed to heal both physical as well as psychosomatic disorders.

Music therapy can be divided into two broad categories: “Active” and “Receptive”. In active music therapy, the therapist and patient (after discussing the problem) get together, and the patients are actually encouraged to create their own music, using their voices, musical instruments, or even everyday objects like, spoons, bottles, pans and pots etc. Therapists say this allows patients to explore their creativity, shed their inhibitions and express themselves through the music they create. This therapy is said to work well for people who are introverted, facing mental blocks, personality disorders or those who have problems expressing themselves. 

It has also been said to have achieved good results with autistic children. Receptive therapy on the other hand, needs a more controlled environment and normally takes place in a more relaxed, soothing setting. It is said to work best when the patient is lying down in a dimly lit room and relaxed. Then the therapist plays pre chosen music, to which the patient is asked to listen to with eyes closed, or if they like they can doodle or imagine happy scenes in their mind.
The music used in receptive music therapy could range from calming ragas, classical western music or nature sounds (like waterfalls, wind in the trees etc) for people who are hyperactive, to peppy, happy, feel good uplifting music for people who are depressed or feeling low. Later, once the therapist determines which receptive music works best for them, patients are given recorded CD’s which they can listen to at home. 

Corinne Heline (1882-1975) once prophetically quoted: “…man is a musical being. One day he will recognize music as a vital factor in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth of the whole human race.”

I personally feel that the day has arrived.

- Noel Keymer

Trump Thanks Baba

The President elect of America in his speech on winning the elections after thanking his family, his team, the people of America, the only person non American he thanked was our very own Desi Rapper, Baba Sehgal.

Baba of course had been glued to the TV and when he heard Trump say out His name, among the people he wished to thank for his victory, he was totally trumped sorry stumped. So thrilled was he that he did a jig around the room ecstatically rapping Trump Ka Mania, at the top of his voice.

He was still at it when his phone rang and some was yelling at the other end, Baba you did it! Baba you did it. Baba said, Hullo who is this? This is Trump, shit man, the new President of the United States of America, thanks to you man thanks to you…remember we met at the golf course…your song did it man...Aakhir USA ne bol hi diya, Trump pam pam pam. Baba couldn’t believe his ears, Donald J Trump?, he stuttered, momentarily lost for words (imagine that). Yes man this is Trump, and Baba said, man this is a great honour, shit,  sorry…sir I knew there was something about you, I always have…but man well not US President material. Shit man, I know, Trump screamed, neither do I, but f*** who cares, we did it…you did it, you glorious rapper…Yes! Together we will make America great again.

And screw the Hispanics and the Muslim terrorists, the African-Americans and Beyonce and Jay Z and screw the IT Indians stealing American jobs and all the people who call me an imbecile and a bigot. You think I am huh? My IQ is one of the highest, you know it and I am now the President of the U S of America. I will build a bigger wall across the USA than the Great Wall of China and throw millions out over that wall. Taken aback Baba thought, I did say there was something about this guy, but I didn’t know it was maniacal.

As for you Baba, you are going to be my Chief White House Spokesman and Rapper and you are going to rap at my swearing in…Live to the world, from Mumbai to Kenya to Calif***infornia…and man we’ll grab some beautiful p**sy while you’re here, hey…so be seeing you soon. There, Baba said, he’s not such a bad guy after all.

Of course the news of Trump’s statement in which he thanked Baba, sent shock waves around the world. What did you expect? Even his closest friend Boris Putin sorry Vladimir and the Russian Parliament was dumb struck for a complete minute. India PM Narendra Modi was scratching his head, wondering how Baba beat him to it and Xi Jinping the Chinese President was brooding on whether to takeover Trump’s Business Empire or learn to play golf.

This news was a bigger shock than Donald Trump winning the election. There was consternation within political circles and government agencies, wondering, who is this Baba. This was something that needed to be investigated pronto and the Head of True Lies Department was called to immediately get to the bottom of the matter. And so, the chief investigative reporter of TLD was packed off to meet with our Baba Sehgal and this is what unfolded.

TLD: It was a scoop to the world to know that you knew Donald Trump? 
BS:
Yo, it was some time ago, I had gone to play golf and this guy comes up to me and tells me he is a big fan and kept singing Ba ba Ba ba Ba ba and he would love to rap like Baba and win over his Afro-American audience which Beyonce and Jay Z have mesmerized and gone over to that H bitch.
So I asked him, is he standing for Mayor, Senator, or what??? He tells me that he is he standing for the President of the US of A.

In my mind I was thinking what this old man with a weird hairstyle, can he possibly win? Ha. He seemed like a nice guy so I said I will help you out. He was so thankful that he flew me back in his private jet back to India. I told him I can't teach him to rap my style (which even those black dudes can’t do) but  I would make a monster hit video for him.

TLD: So you traveled in Donald Trump's jet?
BS:
Yes, he was so happy he opened the best champagne and invited me to grab some pussy. I looked over at Melania but then thought better of it. He promised me when he wins the election he would thank me and would also invite me to the White House.

TLD: Tell us about this monster HIT video you made?
BS: I told him when I make the song and video, there will be a Maniacal craze for Donald J Trump. He would be bigger than the biggest RockStars, bigger than the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Elvis put together. So I did the song and it was titled Trump ka Mania, and it rapped like this.

Just like I said, the Americans just couldn’t sit at home enjoying my 'rape' music, Trump mania gripped them  and they came out and voted for him, it had an unbelievable effect, it changed the world .
My song…Changed the World.

TLD: Now that you have Changed the World what's you next plans?
BS:
I am going to be his Chief White House spokesman and rapper, God, ah Trump willing and I will be advising him on when to rap and when not to rap. But, it hardly matters if he raps when I tell him not to and doesn’t when I tell him to, either way he’s gonna do his thing and the whole world is gonna get screwed. 
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make preparations for the President's swearing in ceremony…get a new jump suit made in time for my performance and a tuxedo for the President’s Ball at the White House.
(With these words the poet/rapper whose song, 'Changed the World' rapped his way out. Maybe very soon he too will be a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature).

'American Idol' Winner Trent Harmon

Trent Harmon rewrites the ending to a real-life heartbreak story with his first country single, "There's a Girl." The American Idol winner once did just what the song says, going to great lengths – including driving hundreds of miles – to impress a woman, only to be rejected. But when hit songwriters Laura Veltz and Jimmy Robbins helped him put the story to music, their creative juices flowed a different direction.

"We were gonna write more like a sad country song and it just didn't work out," Harmon tells Rolling Stone Country. "I was dating this girl and did all these things that just didn't matter, it didn't work out. But the song took its own life and ended up being a happy song — which is even better."

"There's a Girl" is the first taste of the 25-year-old singer's upcoming album for Nashville's Big Machine Label Group, whose founder Scott Borchetta (also an Idol mentor) describes the project as what a Justin Timberlake country album would sound like. While Harmon admits that's a daunting description, he's also quite flattered and hopes to prove his boss right, as he continues writing and recording for the upcoming LP.

On Idol, Harmon proved an exceptionally versatile singer, tackling jazz, pop, R&B, soul and, yes, country. In fact, Harmon sang "Tennessee Whiskey" on the show and says that George Jones' version — and not Chris Stapleton's — was on his set-list long before trying out for the show. (He also sang Stapleton's "What Are You Listening To.") But standout, game-changing performances like his cover of Timberlake's "Drink You Away" and Sia's "Chandelier" have a lot of fans now asking, "Why country music?" Harmon, who grew up on a farm in Mississippi and got his musical start singing in church, goes back to his upbringing to defend his album's direction.

"Country has always been what I was most comfortable doing, because it's what I sang the most of when I was home," he explains. "You're kinda playing the game when you're on one of these shows. It was so expected of me to sing country, especially for the very first audition. . . When I walked in, they were playing "Green Acres." So I thought, OK, let's flip it. So I sang a jazz song."

Harmon is still working on his debut album and says that in addition to highlighting his country roots, it will introduce a side of himself that most fans haven't seen yet: his songwriting side. He's well aware of the importance of striking while the iron is hot, as the end of American Idolmakes its way out of the headlines. But he's also adamant about taking whatever time is needed to create surefire hits — and to make friends in the country music world.

"I want to get it out as fast as possible, but I also want a quality product," he says. "I don't want to get it out just to get a product on the shelf. With country music, you have to maintain and create close-knit relationships with radio stations. If I were to just put an album out, there's no one to play it! You have to pay your dues."

Watch Trent Harmon's "There's a Girl" video here. The fun-loving clip, which made its world premiere on Rolling Stone Country Monday, features the singer on a multi-vehicle road trip to see a woman — and meeting several other lovely ladies along the way.

Reviews

Mona Darling

'Mona Darling' is a great example of how a good plot can go awry if you don't have a proper script in place and actors are non actors.The whole movie is shot in darkness and adds to the nonsensical plot.

Rangoon

'Rangoon' is probably the movie with the worst ending sequence ever, if you excuse Mithun's earlier movies and some B grade Bhojpuri films. It is a complete let down by Vishal Bharadwaj, considering that I had even liked his flop 'Matru ki Bijli..'. The good things about this movie are camera, choreography, CG and Kangana. The first half is in order and lulls you in to thinking that the second half would be crafted by the master in to an exciting finish. Set in the times of the final years of India's freedom struggle and the Indian National Army, it confuses and constantly shifts gears from being a espionage thriller and a romantic mush. Watch it on Netflix or Amazon (once it releases on either) if you are a Kangana fan. Shahid is good, but his association with Vishal seems to be dwindling in fortunes gradually from 'Kaminey' and 'Haider'. Saif plays himself-sans expressions! Good to see Gerson DaCunha as his father.

Lion

'Lion' gets in the race for Oscar along with Dev Patel (won the BAFTA for the best actor) as 'Saroo', as he makes his way back home from Australia with the help of Google Search, after getting lost in childhood and adopted by Australian parents. Sunny Pawar as the young Saroo certainly is the flavor of the Oscars this time and might help pip the movie towards the goal to do a Slumdog. Besides, a 'poor India with its struggling characters' is always the favorite of the 60+ aged Oscar jury and director Garth Davis ensures that he doesn't leave any stone unturned with cameos from Nawaz and Tannishtha. My personal favorite for the Oscar best movie, though 'Lalaland' might just play spoilsport. Oscar or not, Google is definitely the winner!

Split

'Split' might resurrect the career of Night Shyamalan as he gets back in to his groove once again. He should thank James McAvoy for playing the lead of a split personality to perfection and Anya Taylor-Joy for essaying the character of one of his victims.

Hardware

The "Alcons Pro-Ribbon Immersive Experience"

To understand what the Alcons "pro-ribbon fuzz" is all about, Alcons hosts hourly presentations on immersive surround for Residential installations and Live-Production applications, in a unique acoustically-optimized listening room.The audio system will be a hybrid 9.X.8 immersive surround configuration, comprising 20+ Alcons pro-ribbon loudspeakers, driven by 24 channels of Sentinel amplified loudspeaker controllers with "lossless" AES3 digital signal distribution. This set-up is designed to reproduce native and upmixed Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D and DTS:X content, as well as Astro 3D Spatial Audio material. Alcons pro-ribbon sound systems are in use at Walt Disney, NBC Universal, Lucasfilm, Google/YouTube, Levels Audio Hollywood, Hamilton the Musical, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg a.o. and a fast growing number of reference home theatres around the world. ISE 2017 sees Alcons Audio returns to its 'home show' both as a an official ISE Technology Partner and with an expanded Alcons Pro-Ribbon Immersive Experience.Taking place in an acoustically-optimised demo room on Alcons stand 6H148 in Hall 6, the company will be demonstrating the latest immersive surround systems for both the residential/home theatre and live-production/installation markets.The Alcons Pro-Ribbon Immersive Experience is a joint collaboration with Astro Spatial Audio, Barco Residential, DreamScreen and Trinnov. 

Editors Gyan

Music Movies Masti...

It was way back in 1998 that we established, RagatoRock, India's first all genre music magazine. After a spectacular run of almost three years, the print edition was discontinued in favour of an online version. The online version quickly established itself as the leading online music magazine for everything in music.

Through the years, we had our share of good times and down times but we have learnt and adapted and are still here unlike so many of our contemporaries and raring to go. The passion that started it all is still burning bright and today we are ready to once again reinvent ourselves with the same fire and undiminished passion.

Venues

Hard Rock Cafe

Located in a former mill, the Mumbai outpost of the US chain of resto-bars has a mixed reputation among the city's musicians. In the first couple of years after opening, in 2006, indie rock acts were often asked to include a stipulated number of cover songs in their set lists. These days, Hard Rock Café, which hosts gigs every Tuesday and Thursday night, sticks mostly to cover bands, with a couple of dates a month spared for indie groups. Skip these gigs, and come here only for the ticketed events, when one of the seating areas is cleared to make room for a larger stage, for performances by Indian indie icons (folk-fusion veterans Indian Ocean, electro-rock superstars Pentagram), international chart toppers (Wyclef Jean, Jay Sean) or club-packing DJs (Bob Sinclair, Paul van Dyk). Be warned, though: the waiters break into a synchronised jig every time the Village People's "YMCA" comes on.


Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, + 91 22 2438 2888, Hardrockindiablog.com. Open daily noon-1.30am. Performance times and entrance fees vary

Games

Dead Rising 4

Zombies often herald the end of all things, but for Frank West, their reemergence marks a new beginning. Frank, former photojournalist extraordinaire, has been off the radar since the first Dead Rising a decade ago, and this third Christmas-themed sequel finds him eking out his days as a college professor teaching novices his craft. But when the dead come, he again finds life. Even in Frank's opening nightmare in which he knocks back zombies like a wrecking ball, there's a sense amid his snarky complaints that he wants this. And even though Capcom's approach here stumbles here in parts, I was surprised by how much I wanted this as well.
When Dead Rising 4 works, it's because it steadfastly refuses to take itself seriously. Frank is 16 years older now and looks and grumbles (thanks to a new voice actor) a little like Joel from the PS4's The Last Of Us, but even though he journeys back to fictional Willamette, Colorado with student Vick Chu, the lightweight but enjoyable tale is never weighed down with musings on surrogate fatherhood and hope. Neither is it entirely dismissible, even though it largely dumps the main conspiracy premise a handful of chapters in, as it handles its characterizations well. Frank drops lines about setting his balls on fire and other wisecracks, but there's enough gravity mixed in with the goofiness to make the relationships seem believable.
Still, this is a tale about blasting zombies with a gnome-capped staff called the "Gandelf" and gleefully plowing through literally hundreds of zombies in a city park with a lawnmower. It's about strapping on hulking (and rare) exosuits after zombies overrun the Willamette Memorial Megaplex after Black Friday and cutting down them with an electrified battleaxe or using blueprints to make quirky weapons like an "Ice Sword" from scattered items like liquid nitrogen and machetes. The melee controls are satisfying and intuitive, although the removal of throwable melee weapons stings bitterly and ranged weapons suffer from poor aiming. Never before has the series tossed the undead at you with such relentlessness. I'm inclined to believe there's no way a town like Willamette was home to that many people in the first place, but the crowds make the yuletide slaughter consistently enjoyable.
Frank's ability to handle those swarms comes with a price. Dead Rising 4 is never difficult, and even in a toque blanche and chef's whites I could shrug off piles of the undead about as well as Overwatch's Reinhardt might fend off a pack of yorkies. When I died and had a chance to check out the generous checkpoint and autosave system, it was only because I'd stepped away and forgotten to pause. There's not even a way to ramp up the difficulty besides sticking around for New Game+ or a separate multiplayer mode that's confined to a specific setting and steadily increases the difficulty. But even in the New Game, Frank can handle himself just fine. If you're specifically looking for a single-player combat challenge or any degree of tension, you won't find it here.
But you might find cause to stick around if your interests lie elsewhere. Capcom removed much of the series' previous urgency by ditching the timer, which frees up Frank's time to track down a sleigh's worth of blueprints and assorted collectibles, as well as stopping off from time to time to save survivors stranded in the undead sea. So heavy is the sandboxy exploration emphasis that Frank doesn't even have to head anywhere to craft his sometimes silly murder devices: he can cobble together firework-shooting crossbows or electricity-shooting go-karts right there in the field. The approach works well because the small-town setting is so well-realized, partially thanks to its Christmas theme that infects the core 10-hour story as thoroughly as the sickness infects the zombies. The holly jolliness adds a touch of flavor to exploring parts of town beyond the mall that might come off as boring during any other season.
There's so much to see, so many parts to use for an impressive variety of weapons, and so many combos to build that I usually had a cozy sense that I was in a zombie-themed take on Just Cause, taking similar pleasure in causing mindless mayhem with weapons and vehicles to the tune of "O Tannenbaum" and "Auld Lang Syne." Frank's camera even adds to the fun, not only by taking great shots to build a few extra experience points, but by stopping to take goofy selfies with the shambling corpses. It all makes for a nice change of pace, but I could never shake the feeling that Dead Rising had sacrificed much of its identity in the process.
Weirdly, there's no co-op option for the campaign, thus robbing the series of a big degree of its former fun. Gone, too, are the cutscenes that uses to boot up before what used to be called the "psychopath" minibosses. Capcom calls the psychopaths "maniacs" now, and they're sadly essentially irrelevant, being almost exclusively limited to sidequests and usually involving little more than regular zombies with big health pools tromping around in exosuits or Santa costumes. Sometimes I found welcome surprises in the form of fast, newly turned zombies, but most of the time the thousands I killed were as indistinguishable as bricks in a wall.
It's a strange game for the series, as it subtracts something for everything it adds, making it unlike anything we've seen for Dead Rising until now. It's the kind of design that might scare off veterans but bring in fresh zombie killers into the fold. But it's one that I generally enjoyed, even though it's marred with a first-launch crash bug that Capcom warned us about, but which it still hasn't fixed. For some players, though, I imagine that bit of bootup trouble won't prove as annoying as the fact that you can currently only download it for PC from the Windows Store. A Steam version is supposedly in the works, but by the time we see it, Dead Rising 4's cheeky Christmas theme will likely be long out of place. But now? 'Tis the season.

The Dwarves

The Dwarves, a new realtime tactical RPG based on Markus Heitz’s German fantasy novel series of the same name, is an uneasy adaptation. As an RPG, Dwarves wants you to make choices to explore the world of its characters, but as a slavish recreation of a well-known book, it is constantly taking choices away from you. It’s a novel stuffed into an ill-fitting RPG suit, straining at seams held together by threadbare patches of tactical combat.
There are a few different problems going on here, but if I smelt it right down to the base ore, The Dwarves has two main failings: its RPG doesn’t give you any freedom to make choices or grow, and its combat is spammy, tiresome, and not very fun.
Only a few minutes into my adventure—playing as Tungdil Goldhand, the young dwarf on a quest—I came across the first of many times that the plot of Heitz’s novel stomps on my fun. I’m travelling across an overhead map in the style of a board game, with pieces moving along a gridwork of paths and roads. At each grid intersection, a chance encounter, town, or event pops up.
On this occasion, the encounter window tells me I’ve found an abandoned camp and fire ring. Do I want to start a fire and bed down, or should I be extra cautious and climb into a tree? Not seeing any reason why I should be paranoid enough to sleep in a damn tree, I sack out. The next window informs me that an orc stabbed me in my sleep, and I am now dead. No ceremony, no preamble. Dead dwarf, game over.
I had to load my most recent save because, according to a friend who has read the series, Tungdil sleeps in the tree in the book. It may be faithful to the source material, but if I played D&D with a DM who concluded a short introduction with “...and a piano drops on you and you die; let’s start again,” I would not hang around that game for very long.
After reloading and sleeping in the tree, Tungdil wakes up to see an orc warband (surprise!) set up camp below him. After they leave, an encounter window gives me my options: climb down, or wait up in the tree to make sure the coast is clear. Well, you don’t have to stab this dwarf in the gut more than once to teach him some caution, so I wait in the tree. Nothing happens, says the encounter window. Do I want to wait some more?
I chose the option to wait in the tree a dozen times, waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever does; the plot didn’t move on until I climbed down. These false choices are everywhere: maybe saying hello to a traveling caravan will give me an opportunity to buy some supplies; maybe meeting a character in that caravan is absolutely critical, and walking past it is game over. An RPG is a game about choices, yes, but Dwarves is a game in which some choices are meaningless and some choices are momentous, and there’s no telling which is which. I found myself quick-saving every few minutes.
For being so devoted to the plot of the book, sadly, this is a rendition of The Dwarves that did absolutely nothing for me as an introduction to this world. Names washed over me, signifying nothing, as though I was making introductions at a friend’s family reunion: Vraccas, Tion, Girdlegard, Bo?ndal, Älfar. A narrator delivers some pretty talented voice work, including what sound like direct dialog quotes from the book, but not being able to understand the references pulled me out of the game. The whole story wraps up in about 11 hours, reminding me again and again that I was playing a Wikipedia-level summary of a much more interesting story.
When Tungdil isn’t clicking around, exploring this and that and getting quests to here and there, The Dwarves spends a lot of time in combat. It’s a standard party-based tactical RPG set-up: overhead camera, pause at any time, give orders, deploy special skill attacks set to cool-down timers. This design is serviceable in a lot of other games, but it stumbles badly here.
The members of your party automatically attack the nearest enemy and pound them steadily with a basic attack until you give an order to use a special skill, which is actually pretty nice to see. Unfortunately, the basic attacks are useless, so the special skill attacks do all the heavy lifting. After some trial and error, I discovered that using basic strategy and smart party placement isn’t nearly as important as making sure that all of your fighters use as many of their special attacks as often as possible. The best way to make it through a tough fight is to pause often, switch characters constantly, and throw around those special attacks the instant their timers expire.
If any party characters die, that’s game over (because the characters have to participate in the plot, of course), so it’s a real pain in the leather that there are very few ways to heal during a fight. This made difficulty spikes a real issue for me. Even on the easiest difficulty, I came up against several seemingly impossible battles, randomly placed before or after another fight that I found effortless. My success or failure depended entirely on how many bad guys level designers decided to spawn for that battle. If they added too few, I had an easy time. If they added too many, I had a horrific grind.
It’s at this point that I would spend some character points beefing up that basic attack or spend some gold improving my gear, but Dwarves doesn’t have even those basic RPG elements. There are a few inventory items, like enchanted pendants and such, but no way to upgrade armor or loot new weapons. The only way to grow a character is by advancing along a very simple, one-path skill tree (skill stick? skill line?) with half a dozen special moves to unlock.
After all the whining I’ve just done about this poor, battered game, it hardly seems worth mentioning, but: I had a lot of technical issues with The Dwarves, too. I only crashed to desktop once, thankfully, but there were other problems. My frame rate plummeted in every battle when a lot of enemies showed up, and moving around the map interface brought on screen tears and texture-pops. In combat, the camera is a real nuisance; I paused to find a camera angle free of tree branches and terrain almost as often as I paused to give combat orders. On one occasion, a corrupted saved game loaded to show a permanently frozen, motionless dwarf in the foothills around Blacksaddle. I returned to a previous save and started again.
Between the rocky difficulty curves, the linear progression, the forced petty choices, and insta-death penalty for veering away from the dictated plot—everything in The Dwarves made me feel like I had no real control over my journey across Girdlegard. I lacked any real agency as a player, and even for a short RPG adventure, that sucks. I wanted to go on a journey, but I ended up just watching a pretty good book as read by someone else.

The Walking Dead

If the Walking Dead TV show can’t decide whether it wants to be a dark, maudlin drama or a schlocky, gory thrill-ride, Telltale’s interactive adaptation has established a more consistent voice that allows room for a bit of both without leaving you suffering from tonal whiplash. Its problem is that between the comic books, the TV series and the games, the cyclical nature of its narrative has become ever more apparent. Still, if a riff is catchy enough then it can bear a certain degree of repetition—and though some of its scenarios are familiar, Season Three opens with a double-header that shows The Walking Dead at its best, with characters you can care about, a couple of genuinely shocking surprises and a clutch of well-staged set-pieces.
It certainly helps that Telltale’s new engine finally feels fit for purpose. While Batman still had its share of performance issues, there’s little to grumble about in Ties That Bind: everything runs that much smoother, with snappier transitions that give the action sequences a greater sense of urgency. Press a button to jab a sharp object through a walker’s skull and the only delay between tap and squelch is in the swing. Better lighting and superior cinematography enhance the visual storytelling, too: episode one’s terrific opening offers a shivery reminder of the time the dead first started coming back to life, following a wonderful corridor shot with a jittery handheld camera to heighten the growing unease.
It’s here that we meet new protagonist Javier Garcia, a disgraced former baseball star who quickly moves from absentee son to surrogate father as his story picks up a few years later. He’s now on the road with sister-in-law Kate and her two stepkids, the sullen Gabe and the more immediately likeable, level-headed Mariana. Theirs is the kind of dysfunctional family unit we’ve seen before, but there’s some solid character work here—and a winning line in gallows humour—that establishes the bond between them. Even as they snipe at one another, there’s a clear affection behind the barbs.
Then, of course, there’s Clementine. A few years have passed since the end of Season Two, and she’s now significantly more hard-bitten and distrusting than ever—albeit still fundamentally decent enough to let Javier hang onto an item of emotional worth. It’s startling to see her like this, but we soon come to understand why, via a pair of playable flashback sequences across the two episodes. The first draws a firm line under last season’s events, and for at least two of the possible endings resulting from your pivotal choice in the finale, the outcome here is especially grim. It’s a reminder that your decisions can only really shape your journey rather than its destination, but in a world where surviving is an act of defiance, there’s something to be said for a choice that lets you spend a little longer with someone you care for.  
These moments are slightly more problematic in light of the main narrative. As players, we want to know what happened to Clem between then and now, and so it makes sense for Telltale to fill in the gaps. But this isn’t an ensemble piece where each character’s perspective is explored; outside these flashbacks, the story is told exclusively from Javier’s viewpoint. Taking time out to explore the backstory of someone he’s only recently met feels strange, and it also leads to a certain disconnect in terms of your decision-making. We all know Clementine, but Javier doesn’t: though Telltale steadily establishes an uneasy alliance between them, there are key decisions we’re invited to make as Javier with knowledge he couldn’t possibly have. There’s a similar problem in a later scenario. After arriving at a new settlement, it’s not long before Javier indirectly causes a crisis, and yet characters are all too ready to trust him over companions they’ve presumably spent a good deal longer with. Still, that’s an issue from which the TV show also suffers, and at least Javier seems a less impetuous and unhinged leader than Rick Grimes.
Otherwise, there’s much to admire here, from a darkly amusing exchange between Javier and Clem about their different terms for the dead (“What do you call the ones that run?”) to a torchlit tunnel escape that concludes with a tense confrontation and a choice that threatens to have serious ramifications for the next episode at least. An optional DIY surgery scene is every bit as squirmingly grisly as Clem’s wound stitching in last season’s opener, while an appearance from a familiar face will delight fans of the comic and/or TV show. It’s clear that the 'graceful exit' imagined by one character isn’t going to happen any time soon for The Walking Dead, but Ties That Bind makes a surprisingly convincing argument for it to keep shuffling onward. 

Wolfenstein:The Old Blood

Last year's Wolfenstein: The New Order came out at a time we really needed it. The next generation consoles were less than a year old and were in dire need of games. New Order (the game, not the eighties post-punk/electronic dance band) was an old school twitch shooter that returned to the style we loved from the past. It took inspiration from first person shooters like Doom, Quake and of course the first originalWolfenstein 3D from way back in 1992. The critics loved it, but for some reason it was unloved and unnoticed by the gamers.
Well, now we are all getting a second chance to show the love in the form of its prequelWolfenstein: The Old blood. This stand-alone expansion is set right before the events of last year's game and promises eight-plus hours of gameplay at a budget price tag. What's not to love... well, the fact that there is no online multiplayer but let's just forget that and move on.
You return to the shoes of American brick sh*thouse William "B.J." Blazkowicz as he infiltrates the Third Reich and escapes the infamous Castle Wolfenstein. It is a giant love letter to the originalWolfenstein 3D right down to the main character remaining shirtless for the first half of the game. It's a little camp, but a cool nod to the box art from the '80s original.
It's gory AF as you blow giant chunks out of soldiers and dismember wave after wave of Nazis. The speed is break-neck and your reflexes are the only real difference between life or death. At times, it tries to change up the gameplay by introducing stealth tactical sections. The option to take out radio operators to stop alarms being tripped is a welcome mechanic to keep enemy numbers down, but more often than not it's just more fun to Rambo kamikaze it and hope for the best. The recent Wolfenstein series continues its trend of having some of the best villains in the business and the supporting cast is incredibly well written. You can feel the game is trying to lend a helping hand of seriousness to the proceedings and to place a human face to the horrors of war. Unfortunately all of this is washed away with the introduction of giant mechanised robots, dinosaur sized killer K9s and one hell of a "jump the shark" moment that happens later in the game, which I'm not going to spoil here. This is as dumb as science fiction gets and makes the game infinitely better for it. The only real down side I can see is the first half of the game suffers from "haven't I been in this room several times already?" symptom, with the first few chapters feeling like carbon copies of each other and showing a true lack of diversity. Thankfully by Chapter 4, things start opening up and the pace picks up to a satisfying finale. I just wished Wolfenstein: The Old Blood embraced the grandeur of its big brother and had more set pieces to bring the wow factor, but if you consider the budget price and the fun to be found here it's well worth your time, just remember to turn off your brain first.

Polls

Is Farhan Akhtar Good Singer?

Mobiles

Oppo A57 Selfie-Focused Smartphone

Oppo launched the A57 smartphone in India. It will be available in all leading offline retail and online stores like Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon India. The Oppo A57 will be available in Gold colour variant, and is priced at Rs. 14,990. The dual-SIM Oppo A57 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out-of-the-box customised with Oppo’s ColorOS 3.0 skin on top. It packs a 5.2-inch HD (720×1280) LCD display with 2.5D curved glass. It is powered by an octa-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 SoC coupled with 3GB of RAM and Adreno 505 GPU for graphics. For storage, the Oppo A57 has an inbuilt storage of 32GB that can be expanded via microSD card (up to 128GB). The smartphone sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with an aperture of f/2.2, and PDAF, along with an LED flash module. At the front, it houses a 16-megapixel front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture. The Oppo A57 also has a fingerprint scanner mounted on the physical home button in the front. The smartphone include 4G LTE, GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth v4.1, Wi-Fi, GPS, USB, and 3.5mm audio jack. The Oppo A57 measures 149.1×72.9×7.65mm and weighs in at 147 grams. It is powered by a 2900mAh battery.

HTC U Ultra launched

HTC launched its latest flagship smartphone "HTC U Ultra" in India. Available in Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Blue, Cosmetic Pink, and Ice White colour. Depending on the region, the smartphones will be available in single-SIM and dual-SIM variants. The smartphone features a 5.7-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) Super LCD display and runs Android 7.0 Nougat with Sense UI customisation on top. The HTC U Ultra also sports a secondary 2-inch display with 1040×160 pixels resolution. The device is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset coupled with 4GB of RAM. The HTC U Ultra comes in two storage variants – 64GB and 128GB that are expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB). While the 64GB variant is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, the 128GB variant is protected by Sapphire glass. HTC U Ultra bears a 12-UltraPixel rear camera with 1.55-micron pixels, a BSI sensor, laser + phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilisation, an f/2.8 aperture, and dual-tone LED flash. At the front, HTC U Ultra sports a 16-megapixel camera with an UltraPixel mode, and a BSI sensor. HTC U Ultra include 4G LTE with VoLTE, GPS/ A-GPS, Bluetooth v4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, NFC, DLNA, Miracast, HTC Connect, and USB 3.1 Type-C connectivity options.

LG K10 (2017) Launched in India

LG launched LG K10 (2017) of K-Series smartphones in India. Available in Black, Gold, and Titanium colour. Its have dual-SIM (Nano), Fingerprint sensor, 5.3-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display, 1.5GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6750 SoC coupled with 2GB of RAM and the Mali-T860MP2 GPU, 13-megapixel rear camera with a CMOS sensor and flash, apart from a 5-megapixel front camera with a 120-degree wide-angle lens. Apart from 4G LTE, connectivity options on the LG K10 (2017) include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS/ A-GPS, Micro-USB with OTG, stereo FM radio with RDS, Bluetooth v4.1, and a 3.5mm jack. The smartphone is powered by a 2800mAh battery. It measures 148.7×75.2×7.9mm, and weighs in at 142 grams. Sensors on board include accelerometer, ambient light sensor, magnetometer (digital compass), and a proximity sensor. The smartphone runs Android 7.0 Nougat and also supports 9 regional languages. The smartphone has been priced at Rs. 13,990/-.  It comes with 16GB of inbuilt storage, which is expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB).

Moto G5 and G5 Plus official launch

There has been a lot of buzz regarding the upcoming Motorola smartphones – Moto G5 and G5 Plus. Talking about when the devices are launched, predictions are such that both Moto G5 and G5 Plus may make its first public appearance at the MWC 2017, to be held in Barcelona next month.
We had earlier reported that in a twitter handle with a username Ronald Quandt, the Moto G5 and G5 Plus pricing has been leaked. If the tweet is to be trusted upon, Moto G5 may come with a price tag of BRL 1099, which is roughly around Rs. 23,743, wherein the G5 Plus variant may be priced at BRL 1499, which when calculated will be around Rs. 32,132.
It should be noted that there’s no official statement by the smartphone vendor as of yet. In terms of the specs, the upcoming Moto G5 Plus may be powered by Snapdragon 625 chipset under-the-hood along with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage space. Further running on Android 7.0 Nougat, the smartphone is expected to sport a 5.5-inch Full HD display and will be backed by a 3,100mAh battery. In terms of optics, G5 Plus will feature a 12MP rear camera, along with a decent 5MP front facing camera set up.
On the other hand, the Moto G5 as we had previously reported has already received FCC certification as well. In addition, as per the FCC documents, Moto G5 is expected to ship with a DTV Dongle. Not only that, the FCC website also claims that the smartphone will feature NFC connectivity allowing it to support Android Pay. Well, it should be noted that these are just rumors and there has been no official statement issued by the company itself.
However, with the specs leaked, and clearing FCC certification, it signifies that both Moto G5 and G5 Plus can be unveiled at the MWC event to be held next month.

Poets Corner

L.S.D.

Have you ever walked up in the air,
Felt your body isn’t there
Want to go into space?
Till you must of last your face
Move into a world
you can call your own
Come on follow me
Pop a few pills of L.S.D.
You’ll get there faster than the speed of light,
no you’ll never get there on an airplane flight
A place where lights all flash around,
Where pain an happiness is just cut out,
So floot into your new
Come on, follow me
Only a few pills of L.S.D.

- Wayne 'Clapton' Reilly
©-Spotlight Publishing-1998

Music Psychic

Stars for Jan 2nd - 15th 2017

Aries (March 21-April 20): This week, Control your temper and keep patience, Wait for right time before taking any step. Even though you are doing well at work, you may feel dissatisfied with the results. You are perhaps becoming overly ambitious. There is no harm in starting a new carrier in film or music industry in this week  provided you are certain that you will be able to enough resources to conclude the same. Happiness is love is assured this week.


Taurus (April 21-May 20): Socially, a very active period is ahead. A close associate may back out of some promised help, this might halt your carrier development in music industry . This will be quite upsetting for you. However, this will help you to realize that you should not depend on other. Rest assured that through hard work you will achieve success. Gains are indicated this week, relatively for singers . Those in love can look forward to many exciting evenings with their beloved in this week.


Gemini (May 21-June 20): A quick turn over in business leads to sudden monetary benefits. Avoid fresh investments until you come across a real good bargain. Do not reject any of the projects related to singing and directing. Speculative ventures should be avoided. Those associated with the singing will sign new prestigious contract. Love life is sparkling this week.


Cancer (June 21-July 21): Overseas influence is strong for those who are in field of lyricists. Some of you will make plans to travel on work or on a special assignment. Others are likely to have a visitor from overseas who may have an interesting proposal for a joint venture in multimedia. Those in creative media or related fields are bound to be in the limelight.


Leo (July 22-Aug. 21): Financials gains are indicated but you are advised to hold on your profit and not to invest the same in new ventures. Do not in any case invest your money on the advice of associates who may have some ulterior motives. The married are likely to face a few problems on the home front, As you could not spend much time with them. Those who are  composers will be singing new prestigious contract.


Virgo (Aug 22-Sept 21): A busy work schedule could prove tiring. Those travelling on work related to music or film industry will face a few delays and hardships. It is quite likely you may have to travel again to conclude your task. You may hardly find any time for love and romance. A journey abroad will yield profits now and for the future. You may have to return a favor.


Libra (Sept 22-Oct 22): Organizers and playback singers will be given a special assignment to handle independently. The successful completion of this particular project will lead too a promotion. Home also comes under focus due to certain joyful celebration in the family. As you are a entertainer you will be entertaining a number of guests and friends visiting you from out of town.


Scorpio (Oct 23-Nov 21): Those living away from home and family are likely to return soon. Financially, a favorable period and you could make new investment in fresh projects like buying a music album. The singers who desire of changing job will receive suitable offers. Happiness pervades on the home front.


Sagittarius (Nov 22-Dec 20): Avoid speculative ventures for a financial setback is foreseen. You need to stick to routine work and not listed to the advice of those who are making proposal for some quick-money-making scheme. A change of residence or location is predicted for some of you. A deeper bond and can also help you to develop your carrier in music industry


Capricorn (Dec 21-Jan 19): Certain “Lucky” developments at work suddenly propel you to a position of eminence. You will get an opportunity to consolidate your position and also display your organizational abilities. Financially, your position is secured, But Co-operate with your seniors mood; it may bring good news if you are composer or singer. You will be organizing a large social get-together, Which will prove enjoyable.
Aquarius (Jan 20-Feb 18): Work wise a rewarding week. You will be able to consolidate your position at work and also make profitable investment in a deal proposed by a friend, as this can also help you to grab attention of your seniors if you are a producer or director. Love life is delightful and exciting. Some of you are likely to travel to your favourite holiday resort in the company of your sweetheart.


Pisces (Feb 19-March 20): You are greeted with a sudden surprise with the receipt of large sum of money. . The desire to journey is great, but don't take your eye off the professional ball, as there are chances of going out station for a shoot so you can do both things at same time, as things are moving quickly.

GUEST COLUMN

All That Jazz

It's been a long, exciting journey into jazz for me. I made a lot of friends as a musician and a whole lot of enemies. But I did meet a lot of people. If it wasn't for my music I would have been a lighthouse keeper on Andaman Island or what's worse, I would have been a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Yes, music helped me get out of my shell and face the world with a song.