Strange Ambience

Ventures in arts and culture that leave an effect.

  • Project Itoh aka Satoshi Ito, science fiction writer.

    Categories: books

    Project Itoh aka Satoshi Ito, science fiction writer.

    Project Itoh, writer of dark sci-fi

    Though Satoshi Ito's stay on this earth was brief due to cancer (October 14, 1974 – March 20, 2009), he did leave behind a legacy of dark sci-fi books, under alias Project Itoh, that resonate to this day. His first book, Genocidal Organ is fascinating. The US government develops a psy-ops team that instigates genocide in target countries, so rather than a costly war invasion, the target citizens do all the killing. However, a psy-ops member goes rogue and a hit squad is sent to intercept. The story is told from the perspective of a hit squad operative. Itoh’s Subsequent book was unremarkable, a tribute to the video game, Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots. I am not an avid gamer, so the the book held less interest. The third and final book, Harmony, is a dystopian sci-fi novel of the world having reached a humane, conflict-free equilibrium. However, this achievement is at the cost of individual will, where individual behaviour traits are medicated away. A kind of rebellion ensues. Harmony was made into an anime, though I have yet to see it. The story is so dark, that I may not be inclined to watch.

    Japanese are not exactly renown for science fiction novels, but that may be changing. Publisher Haikasoru, a division of Viz Media, made available English translations of novels and anthologies by Japanese writers. The Japanese seem to excel in what is known as 'hard sci-fi' a genre that emphasizes known science to inform the story plots. Much of sci-fi, at least the North American variety, tends to be closer to fantasy with science fact often ignored. Ask a physicist what a Star Trek phaser battle would really look like in space, nothing like what we see on TV. Science in science fiction? Who would have thought?

  • Shane Carruth, post-2000 filmmaking great.

    Categories: film


    Upstream Color (2013)

    Shane Carruth is probably one of the most innovative and important film makers since the 2000's to emerge. Carruth made his mark with the debut film, Primer (2004), a science fiction film about two engineers who inadvertently invent a time machine and then use it to gain wealth. The film was made out-of-pocket by Carruth for $7,000.00 USD and was picked up by MGM for six figures. Script, shooting, acting, music score all done by Carruth. Primer has since gone on to cult status, deservedly so.

    Subsequent film, Upstream Color (2013) was also made out-of-pocket for about $25,000 USD and received limited distribution but also achieved cult status. Carruth wrote the script, shot the film and acted as well as composed/performed the score. However, David Lowery edited the film, with Carruth. Upstream Color is an eco sci-fi about the loss of self identity and the struggle to rebuild from shattered fragments. Someone taps into an ecological anomaly for selfish gain and the protagonists look for ways to disrupt this. The film, acting and music are spectacular and heady. This is a treasure to watch.

    The only other directing credit Carruth has is Predicting the Future (2017) a documentary about identifying patterns in data to predict likely outcomes, as part of the Breakthrough National Geographic documentary series.

    Carruth has since wrote a script for two additional films, A Topiary and Modern Ocean, but as of this writing, are unlikely to be produced. Moreover, no Hollywood entity or otherwise will fund his films. This is especially so after an unfortunate turn. Lately, Carruth was accused of domestic violence from former fiance, and co-actor on Upstream Color, Amy Seimetz--an allegation Carruth denies and Seimetz has yet to provide evidence such as photos, doctor/police reports or corroborating witnesses. This presents reasonable doubt that the allegations are baseless. Until claims are substantiated, I will continue to affirm that Carruth is among the film making greats. Make no mistake, women are frequently victims and I do not condone such alleged acts, but this may be the rare false accusation.

    Unfortunately, Carruth has declared himself to be retired from film making. While I wish him to be absolved of accusations and making more films, sadly, we are all at a loss for now. Perhaps Carruth and the untimely end of a promising filmmaker has become a cautionary tale. Meanwhile, we have three films he made and various others he acted in.

    Below, a short film directed by Casey Gooden (who worked on all of Carruth's films) We'll Find Something (2015) starring Carruth and Amy Seimetz.

  • Abandoned Villages by Bedouindrone

    Categories: news


    Bedouindrone album cover

    Abandoned Villages by Bedouindrone

    Pedro Maras aka BedouinDrone is one of the many Muslimgauze successors who keep the sounds of the late Bryn Jones alive with aspects of his own stylings. I am delighted to hear new Bedouindrone, Abandoned Villages and am a fan of the earlier release by said artist, The Border which came out in 2018, both on the Bulgaria-based Mahorka netlabel. Intense ambient, exotic field recordings, distorted beats, near toxic bass-lines and excursions into musical zealotry, listen and immerse. A review of the Abandoned Villages release will be forthcoming on Chain D.L.K. While there are some tracks from the later album that really are taken from Muslimgauze tracks, I much prefer the more unique, less derivative material. Influence is fine, but we already have one Muslimgauze. Maras is talented enough to carve his own path. Do yourself a favor and listen, both releases are stellar.

  • Charles Bowden, writer (1945-2014)

    Categories: education



    Charles Bowden was a journalist, essayist, and nature writer. He was best known for books on the black market drug trade between America and Mexico such as Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family (Simon & Shuster, 2004) and Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields (Bold Type Books, 2011). Bowden also wrote a series of books that were a hybrid literary essay and journalism that covered economic and environmental issues among other topics. Much of the latter was published posthumously. An example of Bowden's more literary works is Blood Orchid: An unnatural History of America. (University of Texas Press, 2018) Charles Bowden was contributing editor to Harpers Magazine and Mother Jones among other periodicals. Many of Bowden's books, if not all, are available via reprint.