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Vorwerk Kobold VR300 ReviewAt nearly £1000, does the VR300 offer enough to justify the purchase when you can pick up a robot vac for £100s less? Find out in our Should I buy the Vorwerk Kobold VR300? Our Verdict It’s expensive, but the Kobold VR300 provides an impressive vacuuming experience that we think could rival that of a conventional vacuum cleaner, but it’s not as smart as some rivals – yet. The low-profile design, upgraded SLAM technology and D-shape design allow the VR300 to safely navigate around obstacles and reach every last nook and cranny. Price when reviewed £949.99 While Vorwerk may not be a household name just yet, the company is at the forefront of the robot vacuum revolution with a range of autonomous vacs available to buy in the UK and Germany. The VR300 is the company’s latest release, and looks to improve on the already-impressive Kobold VR200 with an upgraded sensor array and more smarts than ever before. But at nearly £1000, does the VR300 offer enough to justify the purchase when you can pick up a robot vac for £100s less? Find out in our Vorwerk Kobold VR300 review. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, take a look at our selection of the best robot vacuum cleaners for inspiration. Pricing and availability Unlike other robot vacuums on the market, the Kobold VR300 is only available to buy directly from Vorwerk itself. It’s not currently available in the US either, but it’ll set those in the UK back £949, £200 more than the previous-generation Kobold VR200 which we also considered fairly expensive. In fact, it puts it comfortably above the likes of the £799 Dyson 360 Eye and £699 iRobot Roomba 960, so Vorwerk really has its work cut out to prove that the VR300 is worth the extra cash. The Kobold VR300’s blend of white and grey with green accents is nothing new; in fact, the VR300 looks almost identical to its predecessor, the VR200, both in colour and build. While we’re fully aware that it doesn’t exactly have an Apple-level aesthetic, it’s certainly a better-looking option than some robot vacuums on the market. The real challenge? Making sure friends and family don’t mistake it for a high-tech set of scales, which happened to us on one occasion. The VR300 sports the same D-shaped design as its predecessor, allowing it to get into the corners, nooks and crannies that circular robot vacs simply can’t reach – even with a variety of side-sweeping brushes. That’s not to say the VR300 doesn’t feature a side-sweeping brush, because it does, helping direct nearby dust and dirt to the vac beneath. The D-shaped design is complemented by a low form-factor, measuring in at only 9cm. This allows the VR300 to easily navigate beneath chairs, sofas, tables and other furniture in the home for a full-home clean. It can even reach areas that some conventional vacuum cleaners struggle to reach without the hassle of rearranging your living room in the process. And believe us when we say that the VR300 sucks. It really sucks – in a good way, of course. It has a standard and eco mode, and while the eco mode does a surprisingly good job at cleaning with reduced noise and improved battery power, the standard mode is where the VR300 really shines. It’s a thorough vacuuming experience, picking up even finer materials like dust and hair from carpeted floor, reinforcing just how powerful it is. We’d even go as far as to say that it could compete with a conventional vacuum cleaner, and that’s no easy feat. The VR300 features an upgraded navigation system that when combined with a touch-sensitive front bumper, ultrasound sensors, infra-red sensors and distance sensors, allows it to accurately map out the environment and even avoid steep drops like stairs with no input from you whatsoever. The simultaneous localisation and mapping technology, or SLAM for short, is similar to the tech featured in self-driving cars, allowing the vacuum to identify potential collisions (even moving objects like pets) and stop or change direction accordingly. It’ll map out the environment the first time it’s used, creating a floor plan that can be found in the Kobold app for iOS and Android, but it’ll continue to scan the environment for any changes or new obstacles and will avoid them with no issue. It really is one of the smartest robot vacuum cleaners we’ve seen, and really provides the user with confidence that it won’t get stuck or knock anything over when cleaning. It also sports retractable legs that allow it to get over obstacles up to 2cm tall – perfect for the transition from hardwood to carpet as it goes from room-to-room – though we’ve seen it successfully scale obstacles a little bigger. And if it does manage to get itself stuck, it can (rather impressively) kick out and reverse to free itself. The battery life lasts around 90 minutes on eco mode, less when using the standard cleaning mode, but it doesn’t matter too much as the VR300 can put itself on charge when necessary and finish the job once it has enough power. The Kobold app really is the main way to interact with the robot vac, as unlike its predecessor, the VR300 doesn’t feature a built-in display or a physical remote control. That’s not a bad thing though, as the app is well-built and provides access to pretty much everything you’d need. You can even access it when you’re not connected to home Wi-Fi, allowing you to activate it remotely and come to a freshly vacuumed house. The app allows to choose between three cleaning modes; Full, Spot or Manual. The full clean will clean the entire floor, while the spot clean will quickly clean a specific space up to 4 x 4m, ideal for a quick spillage clean-up. The manual cleaning mode allows you to use the vacuum like an RC car, and while it’s handy in a small number of situations, we imagine the manual mode will be a novelty for most users. The app is also where you can set up a weekly schedule and view the floorplan with a tap. If there are areas that you don’t want the VR300 to go – near where cables are kept for example – you can draw no-go lines on the floorplan, ditching the need for physical magnetic strips required by the older model. It’s fairly smart, and it’s due to get even smarter in the near future. Vorwerk has confirmed that it’s working on Amazon Alexa support for the VR300 in the UK, allowing you to activate the robot vac with your voice. As if using an app wasn’t easy enough! Verdict The Kobold VR300 is certainly expensive at £949, so you really have to question if the upgrades over the £749 VR200 are for you. It offers an upgraded scanning system to help it navigate your home and obstacles, ditches the need for physical no-go lines with in-app support and it’ll be getting Amazon Alexa support soon. Apart from that, the VR300 offers the same cleaning experience as the VR200 – it has the same impressive suction power, same D-shaped design and same 90-minute battery life. Specs Vorwerk Kobold VR300: Specs 34 cm x 34 cm x 9 cm 4.2kg 90-minute battery life 67db 0.53 Liter bin 3-5 hour charge time App-controlled
Google Nest Hub Max ReviewAs requested, Google has made a larger smart display with a built-in camera. Find out why the Nest Hub Max is the best smart display around in our full review. Should I buy the Google Nest Hub Max? Our Verdict It might only be available in two colours but Google has brought the two things we asked for to the Nest Hub Max - a larger screen and a camera. That camera can do a lot more than make video calls, too and we have very little to complain about with this smart display. Price when reviewed £229 Smart home is an increasingly popular area of technology and Google has updated is smart display to be bigger and better. Now branded with the Nest name, here's our full review of the Nest Hub Max. We loved the Home Hub when and still do, but it was a shame that Google didn't offer a larger option with a built-in camera. Well that's exactly what the Nest Hub Max offers so we're rather pleased. Before we begin, it's worth explaining that the branding is now 'Google Nest' with the two coming together. Google has owned Nest for five years now and thought it was about time to use the names together. The Hub Max combines Google and Nest technology so it makes sense, apart from the slightly lengthy product name. Price & Availability After a delay, the Nest Hub Max is available to buy from Google. It costs £219 or $229. The regular Home Hub, now known as Google Nest Hub, is available for a lower price of £119 – it was previously £139. It's perhaps no coincidence that the Hub Max price is the same as its key rival, the Amazon Echo Show 2. There are also other rivals such as the JBL Link View and Lenovo Smart Display, both of which are more expensive. Check out our chart of the best smart displays. Design & Build As you might expect, the Nest Hub Max is essentially just a super sized version of the regular Home Hub. So the headline here is that you get a larger screen. It's 10in vs 7in but feels like a bigger jump in real life. The original suddenly looks tiny in comparison. The 10in display gives you a nice amount of extra real estate to see what you're doing, especially handy if you want to view the Hub from a distance across the room. The firm has stuck with the same style and combination of materials including fabric. The idea is that it's like a floating display you can place almost anywhere in the house. It's simple and elegant so didn't really need changing, although smaller bezels around the screen would make it look more modern. Nest Hub Max vs Home Hub On the back is just a volume rocker and a switch to deactivate the microphones and camera in one go. An LED indicates whether things are in use or not so know if someone is viewing via the camera, for example. The larger base also means more room for speakers, which we'll talk about later. This time around there are only two colours to choose from: Chalk and Charcoal. That means you can't get one to match your Sand or Aqua original Hub if you have one but these colours will easily fit with any room. Specs & Features We asked for a bigger screen and we got it. This 10in display, as we've mentioned, feels huge compared to the 7in Nest Hub. It's great if you want to watch a lot of video or didn't even buy the older one because of it's small size. Nest Hub Max screen The display has an HD resolution (1280x720) which isn't that high for a modern device so we'd prefer Full HD but it somehow doesn't look that bad either. The ambient EQ light sensor remains so the screen can automatically adjust to the conditions. It helps the screen blend into the background a little rather than standing out, giving is a slightly glossy magazine quality rather than looking a pixelated display. It is of course, touch sensitive so you can interact with your finger instead of just voice. I see you The other key thing here is the introduction of a camera, and there's a lot more to it than just being able to make video calls. Video calls are a key element though as you can use Google Duo to call friends and family and also leave video messages. Google says "Non-Duo calling can make outbound calls to most numbers in the US and Canada." It's actually a Nest Cam with a wide 127 degree field of vision and has various tricks up its sleeve. For starters it can intelligently follow you around the room if you move by cropping and zooming the image during a video call and this works really well. Nest Hub Max camera Because it's a Nest Cam you can use the Hub Max like a security camera, logging into it with the Google Home app when you're not at home. A green LED will show that the camera is being accessed for transparency and a notification will also pop up on the display. If you subscribe to Nest Aware (from £4 a month) then you can get the camera to record, as well. Note that this camera isn't able to offer night vision, though. You'll want to use the Nest app to get the most out of the camera anyway as you'll get notifications for activity and see snapshots of what's happened in the last 3 hours. There are more things the camera can do including being used for gestures like pausing/playing music or videos. Just hold your hand up like you're trying to stop traffic and it works even at pretty acute angles but isn't a 100% accurate so sometimes takes a few goes. The Nest Hub Max is also able to recognise different users with their face – up to 6 different people – so that each person using the display can get a personal experience rather than the display simply be set up for one account. It's called Face Match and works even from across the room. With the merging of Google Nest, existing Nest customers will be given the opportunity to swap over to a Google account. Nest Hub Max design Boom town As mentioned earlier, the Nest Hub Max has more space for speakers due to its larger size. So it's got a 2.1 system for much more oomph than it's smaller brother. Two smaller drivers face forward while a 3in woofer at the back handles the bass. It sounds significantly better than the regular Nest Hub and can fill a room even at around five or six out of 10 on the volume scale. You can adjust the bass and treble in the Home app which is nice, but it still can't match the JBL Link View for audio prowess. You can play music from Spotify, YouTube Music and Google Play Music - all with free options available. There's also Deezer but you'll need the Premium+ subscription. There's no need to worry about battery life because the Nest Hub Max plugs into the mains. It's not designed to be moved around. Interface and control Google hasn't changed the interface for the Nest Hub Max so if you used the original then you'll feel right at home. It's a simple and easy to use system which fits with the way Google works on Android smartphones. Content is essentially displayed in cards and you can scroll through using the touchscreen. Pull down from the top and you can control various smart home products such as lights and heating if you have them (and they're compatible with Google Assistant. Of course you can also control these with your voice. On the matter, voice recognition is excellent even when loud music is playing and you're on the other side of the room. The device supports Voice Match so it knows who is talking. Nest Home Max interface A settings menu is available by swiping up from the bottom so you can control things like the screen brightness and you can also switch the mic and camera on and off individually here. The Next Hub Max is also a digital photo frame, so can display highlights or people from your Google Photos library which is a really nice way of seeing photos you might rarely have the time to view. If you prefer you can also choose a gallery of curated artwork. Google has also made the Nest Hub Max a Google Cast device so you can, well, cast content to it. This supports apps like iPlayer and BT Sport which is great but sadly there's still no support for Netflix. We don't know what is powering the Nest Hub Max but, as with the smaller Nest Hub, the performance is occasionally a little laggy which is a shame. Luckily it's not an issue much of the time. Verdict Google has done exactly what we wanted with the Nest Hub Max: made the screen larger and added a camera for Duo video calls. The camera does a lot more though including gestures, Face Match for different users and the ability to use it as a Nest camera when away from home. It would be nice if a Nest Aware subscription wasn't needed for additional features and the camera had night vision but we can't expect everything. Sound it also much improved so we'd wholly recommend getting the Max over the smaller model unless you can't afford it and don't need the camera. Specs Google Nest Hub Max: Specs Google Assistant 10in LCD touchscreen, 720p Nest Cam with 127 degree FoV 2 far-field mics EQ light sensor Dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi Bluetooth 5.0 2.1 speakers Colours: Chalk, Charcoal
අදටත් හාස්කම් පිරි ඊතණවත්ත දේවාලය (Ethanawatta Devalaya Is Still Full Of Miracles)අපේ රටේ නිදහස් අරගලය ලෙස හැදින්වෙන (1817-1818) ඌව වෙල්ලස්ස කැරැල්ලට දැන් වසර 200 ක් ගතවී තිබේ.ඒ ඉතිහාස කතාවේ ලිඛිත සාක්ෂි හා ජනප්රවාද ඔස්සේ ඉරිදා ලංකාදිප වසර 200 ක් ආපස්සට යන ගමනේ පසුගිය සතියේ අපි මීගහපිටිය වලව්වේ රටේරාල භාවිතා කළ අවි ආයුධ හා උපකරණ මෙන්ම පැලඳි ආභරණද දැක බලා ගත්තෙමු ඉන්පසු අපි කොටසර පියංගල වෙහෙරේ අසිරිය දකිමින්ම පාරට බැස්සෙමු. ඉපැරැණි අම්බලම් මග දිගට ඇත. මෙය දුටුගැමුණු රජතුමා ගමන්කළ ඉපැරැණි රජ මාවතය. විල්සන් මහතා ද අවසන් වරට ගමන්කර තිබුණේ මෙම මාවතේය. බිබිල ට පවුරක් සේ අක්කර දහස් ගණනක් පුරා විසුරුණු දොරපොද කන්දෙන් උපදින දිය දහර ගලාවිත් ගලඔය නමින් බැස යන්නේ අප දැන් ගමන් කරන මාර්ගයේ සපත්තු පාලම යටිනි.සිසිල් දියේ බැස දිය නාන ගම්වැසියන් පිරිසක් දුටුවෙමු.පීනා නාන්නට සිතුනද අපේ ගමනට කාලය බොහෝ වටිනා බැවින් එම අදහස අතහැර දියට බැස මුවධෝවනයෙන් සෑහීමකට පත්වීමි.ඉංග්රීසි දිසාපති විල්සන් මරාදැමූ තැන ඇති සිහිවටනයබි්රතාන්ය රජයේ ඌව පළාත් උපතානාපති සිල්වෙස්ටර් ඩග්ලස් විල්සන් මහතා මීගහපිටිය රටේරාළ සමග අවසන් සාකච්ඡාව පැවැත්වුයේ මේ සමීපයේ විය හැකි බව මා සමග මේ ගමනට එක්ව සිටින රටේ රාළගේ මීමුනුබුරු සරණංකර හිමියෝ පැවසූහ. කිලෝමීටර කාලක් පමණ ඉදිරියට යන විට හමුවූයේ විශාල රබර් වත්තකි. මේවා ගැමියන්ට අයත් වගාබිම් බවත් විල්සන් මහතාගේ මරණයෙන් පසු ඒවා කොල්ලකෑ සුදුපාලකයෙක් රබර් වගාකර ඇති බවත් දැනගන්නට ලැබුණි (අද වතු සමාගමකට අයත්ය)එම රබර් වත්තට ජලය ලබාගන්නේ ගැමියෙකු සතු වත්තක තිබෙන උල්පතකිනි. ඒ සඳහා සුදුපාලකයන් අවුරුද්දකට රුපියල් 50 ක ගෙවීමක් සිදුකර ඇත. එය කිසිම වෙනසක් නොකර ඒ මුදලම අදත් ගෙවන බව දැනගන්නට ලැබුණි.රබර් වත්ත ඉදිරියේ පැරැණි නිවසක් සහිත ඉඩමකි.විල්සන් මහතා හීසැර වැදීමෙන් පසු මෙම ස්ථානයට ගෙනැවිත් බෙල්ල කපා හෙල්ලක හිස අමුනා ගෙන ප්රිති ඝෝෂා කළ බවට පරම්පරාගත කතාවක් ඇතැයි එම වත්තේ අද හිමිකරුවා කීවේය.එතැන් පටන් මෙම වත්තට ගලහවත්ත නම ලැබුණු බවද සදහන් කළේය.ගහලවත්ත ගලහවත්ත වෙන්නට ඇතැයි සරණංකර හිමියෝද ඉගි පළ කළහ.එහෙත් විල්සන් මහතාට හීසැර එල්ලවුයේ මෙම ස්ථානයේ දී නොවේ.රොබට් බ්රවුන්රිග් ආණ්ඩුකාර විසින් ලන්ඩනයේ යටත් විජිත විදේශ කාර්යාලයේ මහාමාන්ය බැතර්ස්ට් වංශාධිපතිතුමා වෙත 1817 නොවැම්බර් මස 7 වැනිදා යැවු සන්දේශයට අනුව. ඒ බව පැහැදිලිවෙයි තමන් විසින් ඉදිරිපත් කරන ලද හිතවත් යෝජනාවන්ට කන් නොදීමට විමුක්ති කාමින් අධිෂ්ඨාන කරගෙන සිටින බව දැනගත් විල්සන් මහතා භට පිරිස වෙත පෙරළා පැමිණ අන්මගකින් බදුල්ල කරා ආපසු ඒමට පටන් ගත්තේය” ඔව්හු පස්වරු 3 ට පමණ ඊතණ වත්තේ දේවාලයට පැමිණිබවද එහි සදහන්විය අපි කි.මි දෙකහමාරක් පමණ මග දුර ගෙවා බිබිල බදුල්ල ප්රධාන මාර්ගයට අවතිර්ණ වූවෙමු. එම් ස්ථානයේ උණගොල්ල විහාරස්ථානය පිහිටියේය. විහාරස්ථානය සමීපයේ විල්සන් මහතා ගේ සොහොන් ස්මාරකය පිහිටියේය. ඊට මහුණ ලා පන්සල ඉදිරියේම පිවිසුම් තොරණ ලඟ මහ කළුගලක් මුදුනේ මීගහපිටිය වලව්වේ හිටිහාමි මුදියන්සේලාගේ රටේ රාල යනුවෙන් සටහන් කළ ප්රතිමාව දක්නට ලැබුණි. මහ වැස්සක පෙරනිමිති පළ කරමින් වැසි බිදු වැටෙන්නට විය. අපි උණගොල්ල පන්සලට ගියෙමු. විහාරාධිපති ඌව පළාතේ ප්රධාන අධිකරණ සංඝනායක හෙවෙල්වෙල ශ්රී සුනන්ද හිමියෝ ඊතනවත්තේ දේවාලය පිළිබඳව බොහෝ විස්තර පැවසුහ. “මහත්තයා, විල්සන් මහත්තය අපේ අය සමග කළ සාකච්ඡා අසාර්ථක වීමෙන් පස්සේ භට පිරිසත් එක්ක අර ඈතින් වදුලක් වගේ පේන තැන පිහිටි ඊතණ වත්තේ දේවාලයට ගිහින් තියෙනවා.“ඔය දේවාලෙ මහා බලගතු දේවාලයක්. දැන්නම් කඩාවැටිලා. පත්තිනි දේවියගේ ආභරණ පවා තියන්න තැනක් නැතිව අවුරුදු දහස් ගණනක් පැරැණි ඒ ආභරණ අද තියෙන්නේ මා භාරයේ.”“මමවත් තාම ඒවා බලල නැහැ. හැබැයි ඉතින් සරණංකර හාමුදුරුවෝ ආව නිසා අපි පොට්ටනිය ලිහල බලමු” යැයි පැවසු සුනන්ද හිමියෝ පොට්ටනියක් ගෙන ආවේය. අතින් ඇල්ලුවාම දියවෙන තරමට පැරැණි රෙදි කඩකින් ඔතා තිබු පොට්ටනිය විවෘත කළ විට කුඩා හක්ගෙඩියක් දක්නට ලැබුණි. එම හක්ගෙඩිය දේවාලයේ සිට පිඹින විට කිලෝමිටර් තුනක් පමණ ඈතින් පිහිටි මෙම විහාරස්ථානට ඇසෙන බව උන්වහන්සේ පැවසූහ.ඊළගට විවෘත කළේ එහි තිබූ පිත්තල පෙටිටි දෙකකි.එකක් විවෘත කළ විට දක්නට ලැබුණේ ඊතලයක් හා ඉතා පැරුණි සත්ව රූප තහඩුය. ඒවා දෙවියන්ට භාරහාර වු ඒවා වියහැකිය.අනෙක් පෙට්ටිය විවෘත කළ වි ට සළං…. සළං.. හඬ නගමින් එතුළ වුයේ පත්තිනි සළඹ 11 කි. ඒවා විවිධ ප්රමාණයන්ගෙන් යුතුය. සොලවා බලන විට හඬද එකිනෙකට වෙනස්ය.උණගොල්ල විහාරාධිපති ස්වාමීන් වහන්සේ මෙහි ඇති අනුහස් පිළිබඳව සාක්කියක් ලෙසින් මේ කතාව පැවසූහ.“මහත්තයා හරිනම් සළඹ 13 ක් තියෙන්න ඕනෑ. මේ දේවාලයෙත් එහෙම සළඹ 13 ක් තිබිල තියෙනවා. ඒකෙ හිටපු කපු මහත්තයෙකුගේ දුවගෙ පුත්තු දෙන්නෙක් අනෙක් සළඹ දෙක සොරකම් කරලා. හැබැයි ඒ දෙන්නටම දඩුවම් ලැබුණා. ලොකු පුතාගේ වයස අවුරුදු 23 යි. එයා උම්මත්තෙක් වගේ ඒ මේ අත යද්දි කාර් එකක හැපිල මැරුණා. අනෙක් එක හොරකම් කළ එයාගේ මල්ලිගේ වයස අවුරුදු 16 යි. මේ ළමයා අපේ පන්සලට ඇවිත් හිටියා. මහණ වෙන්න ඕන කියල. බොහොම හිතවත්ව හිටියා. දවසක් බලනකොට පන්සලට ඉහළින් තියෙන වත්තේ ගසක එල්ලිලා මැරිලා හිටියා. ඊට පස්සේ තමයි මට දැනගන්න ලැබුණේ මේ හොරකම ගැන. ඒවගේම තව විස්මිත දෙයක් වෙනවාලු. දැන් මෙතැන තියෙන්නේ ඉතිරිවුණ සළඹ 11 විතරයිනේ. හැබැයි දේවාභරණ තියෙන්නේ ඔය දේවාලය ළග තියෙන පහනාවල දිය ඇල්ල ළග ගල්ගුහාවක. උත්සව කාලෙට හක් පිඹින හඬ ඇහෙන කොට ඒ ගුහාවේ දොර ඉබේම ඇරිලා දේවාභරණ දේවාලයට එනවලු.“අවසන් පෙරහැර ඉවර උනාට පස්සේ ඉබේටම ගල්ගුහාවට ගිහින් දොර වැහෙනවලු. එහෙම විශ්වාසයක් තිබුණත් දැන් ඉතින් දේවාලය විනාශ වෙච්ච නිසා සියල්ල අහිමිවෙලා යැයිද උන්වහන්සේ පැවසූහ.කැරැල්ල කාලේ අපේ මිනිස්සු මෙතැනට රැස්වෙලා තියෙනවා බාරහාර වෙලත් තියෙනවා. ඒවගේම ඊට නුදුරින් පළිගහන දේවාලයක් කියල දේවාලයක් තිබිල තියෙනවා. ඒකත් හුනියම් දේවාලයද දන්නේ නැහැ. “උන් වහන්සේ පැවසූහ.අපි එම දේවාලය වෙත යාමේ අවශ්යතාව පැවසු විට උන් වහන්සේ පැවසුවේ අපෝ. මහත්තයා අද නම් කොහොමටවත් එහේ යන්න බැහැනේ ඔයේ වතුර වැඩියි එගොඩ උනාට පස්සේ උඩහට වැස්ස වැඩිඋනොත් ඔයේ සැඩ වතුර එනවා. එහෙම උනොත් කොහොමද මෙගොඩ වෙන්නේ? අනත් එක ගල් ලිස්සනවා කූඩැල්ලොත් ඉන්නවා.විහාරාධිපති හාමුදුරුවෝ එසේ කීවත්, අදම එම ගමන යායුතු බව මා තීරණය කළේ එම අත්දැකීම් සියල්ලම අත්විඳීමේ ආශාවද ඇතිවය.මගේ බලවත් ඉල්ලීම නිසා ළඟපාත ජීවත්වන එරංග නැමති තරුණයෙක් මග පෙන්වන්නා ලෙස ලබාදිමට හාමුදුරුවෝ කටයුතු කළහ. අපිට මග පෙන්වමින් අපිත් එක්ක මෙතෙක් දුර ආ සරණංකර හිමියෝ උණගොල්ල විහාරස්ථානයේ නතර වී යාමට මා තිරණය කළේ ගමනේ දුෂ්කර බව නිසාමය.අපි විහාරස්ථායේ සිට මහ පාරට පැමිණියෙමු. හරියටම මිගහපිටියේ රටේ රාලගේ පිළිරුව අභියසින් විල්සන් ස්මාරකය දකිමින්ම බදුල්ල බිබිල මාර්ගය හරහා ගමන් කළෙමු.ඒ අපට මග පෙන්වන එරංග ගේ නිවස දෙසටය. ඒ වත්ත මැදින් යද්දී ඔහු කීවේ එම නිවස අසලින් නයි මතුවන බවය.අදත් නයි පැටියෙක් හිටියා. මම ඌ අල්ලා කැලේට ගිහිල්ල දැම්මා. මහත්තයෝ ඔය දේවාලෙත් සුදු නයෙක් ඉන්නවා හැබැයි ඉතින් හොඳ සිතින් යන කාටවත් කරදරයක් කරලා නැහැ.ඔහු පවසද්දි මම සිත තවත් සන්සුන් කරගතිමි.එහෙනම් නාගයාගේ පින්තුරයකුත් ගතහැකි යැයි සිතුවෙමි.තරුණයාගේ වත්ත විවිධ බෝග වගා කළ එකකි. පුවක් මිල නැග්ග දවසට ගොඬේ ගොඩ යැයි ඔහුකීවේය. එම වත්ත මැදින් ගමන් කළ අපි වැටුණේ ඔය මාර්ගයකටය.දොරපොද කන්දේ සිට ගලනා ජලය පානාවල දියඇල්ල නිර්මාණය කිරීමෙන්පසු ගලඔයේ අත්තක් ලෙස මෙසේ ගලා යමින් තිබේ. මඩුල්සිම කඳුවැටියට වැස්ස වැඩිවන විට මෙම ඔයේද ජලය වැඩිවෙයි. උණගොල්ල පන්සලේ හාමුදුරුවන් අනතුරු හැගවුයේ මේ ඔය ගැනය.එනිසා ඔයට බැස එගොඩ වීමේදී ඒ අවවාදයටද ගරු කළෙමු. කලිසමේ කුකුල් දණහිස දක්වා නවා ගත්තද ඔය මැදට යනවිට නාභිය දක්වා ජලය ගලායාම නිසාත් දිය ඇද්දුම නිසාත් තරමක් දුෂ්කරතාවක් දැනුණද අපි සාර්ථක ලෙස ඔයෙන් එගොඩ වූයෙමු.ඉක්බිති දක්නට ලැබුණේ ඉතා සරුසාර වෙල් යායකි.සුවිසල් වෙල්යායේ ඉවුර දිගේ ඇවිද යද්දී දෑස පෙනෙන තෙක් මානයේ දිසි සරුසාර කූඹුරු සනාථ කරන්නේ ඉතිහාස කථාවන්දැයි සිතිණ.රජ දවස වෙල්ලස්සේ වෙල් ලක්ෂයක් තිබු බවත් එනිසා වෙල්ලස්ස නම ලැබුණු අතර යටත් විජිත සමයේ මේ කෙත්වතු කොල්ලකා ගිනිබත් කර විනාශ කර ඇති බවත් ඒ ඉතිහාසයයි.පැය භාගයක පමණ කාලයක් කූඹුර මැදින් ගමන් කළෙමු.ඉන්පසු වදුල සහිත ගොඩැල්ලකට ගොඩ වුනෙමු.එම උස් භූමියේ දේවාලය පිහිටියේය.එහෙත් අද දක්නට ඇත්තේ එහි ශේෂවු ගොඩනැගිලි වල නටබුන්ය.ඒවා, උණගොල්ල පන්සලේ හාමුදුරුවෝ පැවසු පත්තිනි දේවාලයේ නටබුන් බව එරංග කීවේය පත්තිනි දේවාලයේ ඉදිරි උළුවස්සේ කොටසක් යැයි අනුමාන කළහැකි ගල්කණුවක්. දොරටුව අසල බිමටම වැටී ඇත. මෑතකදී දැල්වූ මැටි පොල්තෙල් පහන් කීපයක් ඒ මත තිබිණ.ඊට අඩි 20 ක් පමණ ඈතින් තවත් ගොඩනැගිල්ලක ශේෂයන් ලඳු කැලෑවෙන් වැසී ගොස් තිබිණ මගේ මාධ්ය සගයා වන විමුක්ති සංජය හා මඟ පෙන්වන්නා වන එරංග ලඳු කැලෑව ලී කැබැල්ලකින් එහා මෙහා කරද්දී ගොඩනැගිල්ලේ නටබුන් තවත් දැකගත හැකිවිය. එය පළිගැහිමේ දේවාලය හෙවත් හූනියම් දේවාලයයැයි හැඳින්වුන දේවාලය විය යුතුයැයි සිතුවෙමි. ඒ වටා තැනින් තැන ගල් කණු වැටි කැලය විසින් ගිලගෙන තිබුණි.දේවාලය සමීපයෙන් අදටත් දැකියහැකි රූස්ස බෝධි වෘක්ෂය වියපත්ව ඇත්තේ වසර දෙසියකට වැඩි ඉතිහාසයක් ප්රදර්ශනය කරමිනි.මුළු ගොඩැල්ලම අද්භූත ඉසව්වකි.නිහඩතාව බිඳ ඇසෙන්නේ වන සතුන් ගේ හැඩුම් හඩය.අපි තුන්දෙනාම නිහඩය.ෂුස් ……හඬින් තණකොළපඳුරු හරහා යන උරගයෙක් දක්නට ලැබුණි. ඔන්න මහත්තයා නාගයා තරුණයා කීවේය. මා කැමරාව එල්ල කරන්නටත් කලින් නාගයා අතුරුදන්ය.අපි දෙවියන් බුදුන් සිහිකරමින් දේවාල බිමෙන් සමුගන්නට සැරසුනෙමු.කකුල දිගේ ගලන්නෙ රුධිරයයි.අපි තුන්දෙනාම ඒ වන විටත් කූඩැල්ලන්ගේ ආක්රමණයට ගොදුරුව තිබුණි කඩුපහර “නම් ඔසුමය ශාකයක කොළකීපයක් කඩා පොඩිකර එම යුෂ කූඩැල්ලන් කෑ ස්ථානයන්හි තැවරුවේ තරුණයාය.ලේ ගැලීම එසැණින් නතරවිය.හෙමින් හෙමින් පහතට බැස දිය කුඹුරට සේන්දු වී නියර දිගේ ගමන් කරද්දි කුඹුර මැද පිහිටි විස්මිත උල්පතක් හමුවිය.දිය බුබුළු බොහෝ ස්ථානයන්හි පිහිටි නිසා බුබුළ, බිබිල වි බිබිල නම හැදුන බව කියති.එහෙත් මෙතරම් වේගයෙන් ජලය උනන උල්පතක් මම නම් මින් පෙර දැක නැත.එය හඳුන්වන්නේ දේවාල කූඹුරේ උල්පත නමිනි.“මේ උල්පත කවදාවත් හිඳෙන්නේ නැහැ. දේවාලයේ දානය පිළියෙල කරන්න තමයි අතීතයේදී මේ වතුර අරන් තියෙන්නේ. හැබැයි දැන්නම් අවට ගම්වල අය හා මැණික් ගරන්න එන අය මේ වතුර බොන්න අරන් යනවා. ගලා යන වතුර කුඹුරු වැඩටත් ගන්නවා යැයි — තරුණයා කීවේය .දිය දෝතක් ගෙන පානය කළෙමි. කපුටු ඇහැක් සේ පිරිසිදු සිසිල් ජලය විඩාව සන්සිඳවූයේය.සුද්දන්ගේ ලියකිවිලිවල සදහන්ව ඇත්තේ මේ දේවාල පරිසරයයි. එම වාර්තාවලට අනුව කැරලි නායකයෙක් වු රටේරාල සමග සාකච්ඡා කිරිමට දැරු උත්සාහය අසාරථක විමෙන් පසු විල්සන් මහතා සහ සිය භට පිරිස සමග එදින සවස 3.00 පමණ මේ ඊතල වත්ත දේවාලයට පැමිණ තිබේ.මෙහිදී විල්සන් මහතා ඉක්මනින් එන බව කියා ලේෆ්ටිනන් නිව්මන්ට ඉදිරියට යන ලෙස කියා ඇත. භට පිරිස සැතපුම් කාලක් පමණ ගමන් කොට නතරවුහ. පැය කාලකින් පමණ විල්සන් මහතාගේ තෝල්ක තැන ඔවුන්ට එකතුවී විල්සන් මහතා ගගෙන් මුහුණ හා අත්සෝදමින් සිටි බව පවසා ඇත. ලෙෆ්ටිනන් නිව්මන් ආපසු හැරි එතැනට එනවිට විල්සන් මහතාත් ලැස්කරිඤ්ිඤයෙකුත් මරණ ලද බව පවසා ඇත.ලෙෆ්ටිනන් තැන හේවායන් කීපදෙනෙක් සමග දේවාලය ළගට යද්දි එය ආයුධගත් මිනිසුන් විසින් වටකරනලද බව දක්නා ලදී. ඔව්හු වහා හීසැර යවමින් පහර දෙන්නට පටන්ගත්හ. එහෙත් වෙඩිසැර කීපයකින් ඔවුන් වනයට පළවා හරින ලදහ. භට පිරිස දැන් විල්සන් මහතා සෙවීමට ගොස් ඇත. එවිට මරණ ලදැයි කියන ලැස්කරිඤ්ඤයා ඔවුනට එක්විය.(ඊ සැර දෙකකින් තුවාල ලැබ සිටි හේවායා පසුදින මළේය.) ඔවුන් මේ ලැස්කරිඤඤයා විසින් පෙන්වන ලද ස්ථානයෙහි කළුවර වනතෙක් මළකඳ සෙවු නමුත් නිශ්ඵල විය. එවිට පසුබැස යාම ඥානාන්විත යැයි ලෙෆ්ටිනන් නිව්මන් තිරණය කළේය. සතුරා ලුහුබැන්දේය. ඔවුන්ට ගමන් කිරිමට තිබු ඝන වන පෙදෙස වාසි කොටගත් සතුරා පඳුරුවලට මුවා වි හී සැර යවමින් නොකඩවා හිරි හැර කළේය.මෙයින් සාජන්ට් කෙනෙක්ද හේවායෙක්ද තුවාල ලැබූහ. භට පිරිස මැද ඔයෙන් එතරවු පසු කැරලිකරුවන් පෙනෙන්ට සිටියේ නැත. මෙසේ ඔව්හු බාධාවක් නොමැතිව බදුල්ලට ගමන් කළහ. කැරලි කරුවන් විල්සන් මහතාගේ හිස කපා ඔවුන් දෙවියන් යැයි කියූ වඩුග රාජ ප්රතිරූපකයා වෙත යැවු බවට පසුව වාර්තා ලැබුණේය.අප ආපසු එන ගමනේදි ඔයේ ජලය වැඩිවි තිබු නිසා ජලය අඩුවෙන තෙක් පැය දෙකක පමණ කාලයක් ඉවුරේ රැදී සිටීමට සිදුවිය. විල්සන් මහතාට හී සැර වදින්නට ඇත්තේ උණගොල්ල විහාරස්ථානයට නුදුරු අප එගොඩවු ඔය සමීපයේදි වියහැකිය. ඔයෙන් මෙගොඩවී මහ පාරට පැමිණ විල්සන් ස්මාරකය අසලට ගියෙමු. “දුනුවායෙකුගේ හීසැරයෙන් 1817 සැප්තැම්බර් මස 16 වැනිදා මරණයට පත්වු බි්රතාන්ය රජයේ ඌව පළාත් දිසාපති හා උපතානාපති සිල්වෙස්ටර් ඩග්ලස් විල්සන් මහතා සිහිවීම පිණිසයි”යනුවෙන් වු සටහනක් එහි විය පිත්තල අකුරු ඔබ්බවා මෙම සටහන ඉංග්රීසි භාෂාවෙන් තිබුණත් මෑතදි පිත්තල හොරුන් විසින් එම අකුරු ගලවා ගෙන ගොස් ඇති බව දැනගන්නට ලැබුණි. සිහිවටන ඵලකය අද ඇතමුන් විසින් පෝස්ටර් අලවන ස්ථානයක් බවට පත්කරගෙන ඇති අයුරුද දක්නට ලැබිණ. එය පෙනෙන තෙක් මානයේ උණගොල්ල පන්සල ඉදිරියේ මෑතදී ඉදිකළ මීගහපිටිය වලව්වේ රටේ රාලගේ ස්මාරකයේ සටහන්වී ඇත්තේ මෙසේය“හිරු නොබසින අධිරාජ්යයට එරෙහිව ඌව වෙල්ලස්සේ සටන් ආරම්භය සනිටුහන් කරමින් 1817 සැප්තැම්බර් මස 16 වැනිදා ඌව දිසාව භාර උප ඒජන්ත සිල්වෙස්ටර් ඩග්ලස් විල්සන් මහතාට මාරක හීය මුදාහළ මීගහපිටිය වලව්වේ මුදියන්සේ රටේරාල හෙළ විරුවාණන් ගේ වීරත්වය මතු පරපුරට දැනග ැනීම පිණිස ඌව පළාත් ප්රධාන අමාත්ය ගාමිධෑ විජිත් විජයමුණි සොයිසා මැතිතුමාගේ මග පෙන්වීම යටතේ ඉදිකළ මෙම පිළිරුව ශ්රී ලංකා ප්රජාතාන්ත්රික ජන රජයේ අතිගරු ජනාධිපතිනි චන්ද්රිකා බණ්ඩාරනායක කුමාරතුංග මැතිනියගේ සුරතින් වර්ෂ 2005 අගොස්තු මස 14 වැනිදින විවෘත කරන ලද බව මෙසේ සටහන් කර තබන ලදී. කෙසේ නමුත් ඉංග්රීසීන්ගේ නඩු විභාග වලදී මීග හපිටිය වලව්වේ රටේ රාලට එල්ලවි ඇති චෝදනාව වුයේ විල්සන් මහතා ඝාතනය කළ පිරිසට නායකත්වය දීම බව ජාතික ලේඛනාරාක්ෂක දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ 5/105.125.-127 -6-/972 ඒ ලේඛනය උපුටා දක්වමින් 1818 ජාතික නිදහස් අරගලයේ පුරෝගාමියෝ නම් වු රජයේ සංස්කෘතික අමාත්යාංශය විසින් මුද්රිත ග්රන්ථයේ සඳහන්ව තිබේ. විල්සන් මහතා මරාදැමු සිවුදෙනා අතර ඉකිරිම්පෙළ මිටි ගමිමහේ, ඊතණගොඩ බඩපිස්සා, දොඩම්ගොල්ලේ හෙටිටිපොළයා, සහ බකිණිග හවෙල උපසාක අප්පු (උපාසක මුදියන්සේ) වු බව නඩුවිභාගයේදි මීගහපිටියේ රටේරාල විසින් හදුනාගත් බවද එම ලේඛන වල සඳන්වෙයි. මෙම සිද්ධියට සමබන්ධවූ මීගහපිටිය රටේ රාලගේ සොයුරෙකු වන ගංඇති රාල නමැත්තෙක්ද සිටි බවත් ඔහුට මරු මුත්තා යන නම ද එම නිවසට මරු ගෙදර යන නමද පටබැඳි ඇති බවත් අසන්නට ලැබුණි.අපට මරු ගෙදර සොයාගත හැකිවු නමුත් එහි සිටින 6 වැනි පරපුරේ අය මේ කතාව පිළිගන්නට අකමැති වුහ ඔවුන්ගේ මුළු සේසතම රාජ සන්තක කිරීමෙන් පසු බලෙන් අල්ලා ගත් අක්කර භාගයක් පමණ වන ඉඩමක, පන්සලේ කුඹුරු කර ජීවත්වන බවත් එහි සිටි ගංඇති රාලගේ හයවන පරපුරේ මී මුනුබුරෙක් වන මැදිවියේ පුද්ගලයෙක් කීවේය.එදා ඇතිකළ භිෂණය ය නිසා මේ පවුල අදත් පිඩාවට පත්ව සිටින අතර වාසගම පවා වෙනස්කර ඇති බව දැනගන්නට ලැබුණි. ඔහු අපෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටියේ ජායාරුප හෝ ළමයින්ගේ විස්තර පළ නොකරන ලෙසටය මරු ගෙදර යන නාමය අවමානයක් වියහැකි වීම හා තවමත් පවතින බියසැක ඊට හේතුවිය හැකිය (මෙසේ නම් ගම් වෙනස් කරමින් අදටත් නිසි සාධාරණයක් නොලබා ජිවත්වන නිදහස් අරගලයට දායකත්වය දුන් පරම්පරාවල පවුල් විශාල ප්රමාණයක් ඌව පළාතේ සිටින බව කියති. කෙසේ නමුත් විල්සන්ගේ ඝාතනයේ පසු සුදු හමුදාවලින් බේරීම සදහා ගල් ගුහාවක සැඟවී සිටි මීගහපිටිය වලව්වේ රටේරාලව නෑදැයන් යැයි කියන සිංහලයන් පිරිසක් විසින්ම අල්ලා ඉංග්රිසීන්ට බාරදුන් බවත් නඩු විභාගයෙන් පසු ඔහු රටින් පිටුවහල් කළ බවත් ඉංග්රීසි ලේඛන වල සදහන් වෙයි 1819-02-24 වනදා ලිවර්පූල් නෞකාවෙන් මුරුසි දිවයනට පිටුවහල් කළ ඔහු කලක් රෝගීව සිට 1831- 11-06 වැනි දින මුරුසියේදී මිය ගිය බවද සඳන්වෙයි.කෙසේ නමුත් රට දැය සමය වෙනුවෙන් කැපවුණ මීගහපිටියේ රටේ රාල දේවත්වයක් ලබා ඇතැයි ජනප්රවාදයකි. බිබිල කොටබෝව ඓතිහාසික කුඩා කතරගම දේවාල බිමේ දැකිය හැකි පැරැණිම දේවාලය වන බණ්ඩාර දේවාලයේ මෙම දෙවියන් වැඩ සිටින බවත් එනිසා එම දේවාලයේ යාදිනි වලදී මුලින්ම මිග හපිටිය වලව්වේ කූනම් බැදි අලුත් බණ්ඩාර දෙවියෝ යනුවෙන්ද කියැවෙන බව දැනගන්නට ලැබුණි, අපි ලබන සතියේ ඒ තොරතුරු සොයායමු.
බ්රැන්ඩි පානය කල ගල - බ්රැන්ඩි ගල - මාතලේ (Brandy Drinking Stone - Brandy Stone - Matale)යටත් විජිත සමයේ බ්රැන්ඩි පානය සඳහා සුදු ජාතිකයන් එහි ගිය නිසා එයට එම නම ලැබී ඇති බව ගම්වාසින්ගෙන් දැන ගත්තෙමු. ඊට අමතරව පසුගිය කාලයේ පේරාදෙණියට අනුබද්තිත තවත් උද්බිත උද්යානයක් ලෙස මෙය වැඩිදියුණු කිරිම ආරම්භකර පසුව පරිසරවේදින්ගේ බලපෑම නිසාත් එය අතහැර දමා ඇත, බෑකෝ කරන ලද මාර්ග, සිටුවන ලද මල් පැල තවමත් එහි ශේෂ වි ඇත, නමත් සැලසුම් කර පරිද එය ඉදි කලේ නම් , අනිවර්යයෙන්ම මෙම ස්ථානය සංචාරක ආකර්ෂන ස්ථානයක් වීමට වැඩි කලක් නොයනු ඇත. විදේශිකයින් තමන්ගේ විවේක කාලය ගතකිරීමට තෝරාගත් සුන්දර ප්රදේශයක් වන බ්රැන්ඩි රොක් වෙතට ඒ නම ලැබුනේ වීදෙශිකයින් ඒ තැන “බ්රැන්ඩි” පානය කිරීම ට භාවිත කිරීමට යෝදාගත් බව ගැමියන් කියයි. ඊට අමතරව මෙයට “වෙස්මිනිස්ටර් ඇබේ” යන නමත් භාවිතා වෙනවා. මාතලේ සිට මාදිවෙලට ගමන් කලයුතු දුෂ්කර මාර්ගයකින් මාදිවෙල ගම පිහිටා තියෙනවා. විටෙක මීමුරෙටත් වඩා සුන්දර ගැමි පරිසරයක් උරුම කරගත් මාදිවෙල ගම තුල බලන්නට හැකි දේවල් නම් එමටයි. සුන්දර පරිසරය සහ බ්රැන්ඩි ගල මුදුනත ට යාම ඔබේ අත්දැකීම් තවත් සුන්දර කරනවා නිසැකයි. යටත් විජිත සමයේ බ්රැන්ඩි පානය සඳහා සුදු ජාතිකයන් එහි ගිය නිසා එයට එම නම ලැබී ඇති බව ගම්වාසින්ගෙන් දැන ගත්තෙමු. ඊට අමතරව පසුගිය කාලයේ පේරාදෙණියට අනුබද්තිත තවත් උද්බිත උද්යානයක් ලෙස මෙය වැඩිදියුණු කිරිම ආරම්භකර පසුව පරිසරවේදින්ගේ බලපෑම නිසාත් එය අතහැර දමා ඇත, බෑකෝ කරන ලද මාර්ග, සිටුවන ලද මල් පැල තවමත් එහි ශේෂ වි ඇත, නමත් සැලසුම් කර පරිද එය ඉදි කලේ නම් , අනිවර්යයෙන්ම මෙම ස්ථානය සංචාරක ආකර්ෂන ස්ථානයක් වීමට වැඩි කලක් නොයනු ඇත. අලවතුගොඩ සිට A-9 මාර්ගයේ මාතලේ දෙසට ගමන් කරන විට (වම් පසින්) දකින විට. පර්වතය මාතලේට ආසන්නව පිහිටා ඇති නමුත් එය සඟවා ඇත්තේ මාතලේ නගරයට මායිම්ව ඇති විල්ට්ෂයර් / එතිගල කන්ද විසිනි.
බුරිටෝ (Burrito)උදෑසන ආහාරයට මෙක්සිකන් ආහාරයක්.හැම දාම උදේට බත් කාලා එපා වෙලා නේද..?ඉතින් නිතර දෙවේලේ බත් කාලා එපා උන අයට උදැසන අහාර වේලට පෝෂණ ගුණ සපිරි අලුත්ම අහාර වේලක් සකසා ගන්න විදිහ මේ කියන්න හදන්නේ.මෙක්සිකෝවට පමණක්ම අවේනික අහාර වේලක් ලෙස හඳුන්වන්න පුළුවන් බුරිටෝ පෝෂණ ගුණයෙන් ඉතාම ඉහලයි.ඒ වගේම සකසා ගැනීම ඉතාම පහසුයි.වෙළඳපොළේදී මිලට ගත හැකි corn trotilla bread සොයාගන්න බැරි උනොත්,ඒ වෙණුවට ගොදම්බ්බ රොටි ආදේශකයක් ලෙස භාවිතා කරන්න පුළුවන්.මීගමුව ජෙට්වින් බීච් හෝටලයේ සුපවේදී ප්රසන්න පෙරේරා සකස් කළ මෙම රෙසිපිය ඔබත් අත්හදා බලන්න. අවශ්ය ද්රව්ය: corn tortilla bred චෙඩාර් චීස් 50g මොසරල්ලා චීස් 50g හැම් 200g අල 200g refried beans 100g තෙල් ස්වල්පයක් සිහින්ව කපාගත් ළුණු 100g අවශ්ය පමණ ලුනු,ගම්මිරිස් ටබැස්කෝ සෝස් ස්වල්පයක් සාදන ආකාරය: refried beens වියළි හෝ ටින් කර හෝ මිලට ගැනීමට ඇත.මුලින්ම ළිප දල්වා සාස්පානක් ළිප තබා එයට තෙල් ටිකක් දමා තෙල් රත්වෙන විට ළුණු දමා රන්වන් පැහැ වනතුරු බැදගන්න. ඉන්පසුව එය වෙනත් බඳුනකින් තබා නැවත refried beens තෙලට දමා බැදගන්න. එයටම ලුනු,ගම්මිරිස්,ටැබැස්කෝ සෝස් දමා සීසන් කරගෙන පේස්ට් එකක් ලෙස සකසා ගන්න. ඒ අතරම,අල ගෙන සුද්ද කර කොටු කපා තම්බා ගන්න. ඉන්පසු tortilla bred එක ගෙන එයට refried beens පේස්ට් එක bread එක මත තවර ගන්න. එම තවරුම මත තම්බාගත් අල,හැම් සහ චීස් තබා tortilla bread එක රෝල් එකක් ලෙස සකසා ගෙන ග්රිල් කර පිසගන්න.
Wye Oak - No Horizon EP Music Album ReviewsOn this EP recorded with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the group shows that their capacity for new ideas and reinvention has yet to fail them. At some point over the last decade, impermanence became Wye Oak’s muse. The duo’s early projects were defined by Jenn Wasner’s guitars, whose eruptions gave their otherwise-dreamy indie rock a volatile edge. There were keyboards, too, but they were mostly limited to whatever drummer Andy Stack could play with his free hand. Since Wasner issued a temporary moratorium on those signature guitars on 2014’s Shriek, however, every album has been, if not quite a reinvention, then a reconsideration of their core sound, a study in how a band can evolve when they refuse the most obvious path forward. Their sound has been digitized and de-digitized, built up and stripped back, with no suggestion that any iteration was anything more than a pit stop. Until recently, the lone constant of the group had been their two-piece lineup, but even that’s been open to amendment. Before their most recent tour was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, the duo had expanded to a five-piece, where they performed material not only from Wye Oak but from the respective side projects to which Wasner and Stack have increasingly dedicated more of their time. And on Wye Oak’s new No Horizon EP—which, true to the band’s malleable nature, sounds little like the tantalizing standalone tracks the band has been dropping over the last year or two—they’re joined by a different set of temporary contributors. The EP was recorded with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, a mammoth choir that lends a shot of instant grandiosity to everything they touch, including recent tracks by The National and Bon Iver. It’s incredible how the notion of an indie-rock choir has expanded since the mid ’00s, when Saddle Creek artists might invite whoever happened to be near the studio over for what amounted to a campfire sing-along. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus doesn’t do informality. Their arrangements are as ornate and stately as chapel glass, every interweaving vocal meticulously plotted for maximum orchestral impact. They don’t merely augment the songs on No Horizon; they drive them. Opener “AEIOU” dazzles with layer upon layer of kaleidoscopic refractions of voice. On “No Place,” the choir subsumes Wasner’s dusky vocals almost completely; here, she’s just one singer among dozens. An air of secrecy once shrouded Wye Oak’s records, a fog that loomed over the production like a Do Not Enter sign, but in recent years they’ve let their sound grow more direct and open. On 2011’s Civilian, Wasner’s murmur swallowed key lyrics whole, as if protecting them from the world. Now she has a choir belting them. “When the world is just a concept, everything has hidden meaning,” they chime on “Sky Witness,” a line that’s as perfect a thesis statement for Wasner’s songwriting as any. For all its wow factor, No Horizon has a less replay value than most Wye Oak releases. Because of those choral arrangements, it burns bright but fast—a little bit of coloratura goes a long way, and these songs don’t skimp on it. A full album of this would be overkill, so the EP’s small-plate portion works in its favor. So, too, does the unlikelihood that they’ll ever make another like it. Wye Oak is the rare band that grows less defined with each project, but their capacity for new ideas has yet to fail them.
Land of Talk - Indistinct Conversations Music Album ReviewsLow-key emotional intensity abounds in Elizabeth Powell’s stark, sketch-like reveries, and the new album’s few-frills production exposes just how gut-wrenching their songwriting can be. Tucked away almost halfway through Land of Talk’s fourth album, Indistinct Conversations, is a question that’s also a revelation. Many songwriters try to grab listeners right away; Elizabeth Powell, the long-running Canadian band’s sole constant member, goes for the stream-of-consciousness, the gnomic, the curiously brambled. Emotions aren’t on Powell’s sleeve, they’re simmering under the skin. Or, as the Land of Talk singer and chief songwriter asks on “Love in 2 Stages,” a minor-key meditation on romantic vicissitudes heated up by syncopated stabs of keyboard, “I dig deep, why don’t you?” Indistinct Conversations is a testament to the tattered ideal that digging deep—for its own sake, regardless of the short-term outlook—can be worthwhile in the long run. After a mostly forgotten alt-rock debut as ELE_K* in 2003, Powell began turning heads with Land of Talk’s first effort, 2006’s wiry and thrilling Applause Cheer Boo Hiss EP. A succession of generally strong albums followed, each with high-profile collaborators and sensitive personal backstories. 2008’s Some Are Lakes was produced by then-boyfriend Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. 2010’s Cloak and Cipher featured Arcade Fire’s Jeremy Gara and followed Powell’s vocal-cord struggles. After a long break, 2017’s Life After Youth, with guests Sharon Van Etten and Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, was a musical homecoming informed by Powell’s father suffering a stroke. Land of Talk never quite shone as brightly as those other acts. But they persisted. With Indistinct Conversations, Powell’s private world is once again in flux, but this time there are no boldfaced names to dominate the narrative. Finally back in a Land of Talk groove after retreating from the music industry between Cloak and Cipher and Life After Youth, Powell has also begun identifying publicly as a non-binary femme, using the pronouns she/they. Aside from a few Montreal jazz-scene friends, the only collaborators here are Land of Talk drummer/keyboardist Mark “Bucky” Wheaton and bassist Christopher McCarron, who both co-produced the album with Powell at Wheaton’s home. Built mainly from Powell’s knotty acoustic guitar explorations and lyrical musings that feel like fragments from an exceptionally perceptive diary, it’s the most satisfying Land of Talk album yet. The few-frills production exposes just how gut-wrenching Powell’s songwriting can be. Gaslighting is by now a familiar concept, but first single “The Weight of That Weekend” traces the contours of a toxic encounter with devastating aplomb. “Always come at me from a different angle/Make me think I don’t understand/How I’m feeling,” Powell begins, parceling out the words just so. The Americana-ish folk-rock backdrop is understated, enlivened by a smattering of French horn, but the emotional stakes are high enough for Powell to add later, “This is a prayer for love.” Low-key emotional intensity abounds in these stark, sketch-like reveries. “I feel it like an empty hand,” Powell sings on the coyly titled “Compelled,” describing their lust for a lover who is with someone else—someone unworthy. In their cool deadpan, the evocative comparison sounds as old as time. On “Diaphanous,” the jolt comes with the playful opening rhyme (the title phrase with “half of us”) and then again with the dynamic shift as cascading drums join the gnarled electric guitar and fluttery saxophone. The album may be home-recorded, but the performers are road-tested. The last words we hear from Powell, on the penultimate, acoustic-strummed “Now You Want to Live in the Night,” are devastating in their plainspoken vulnerability: “Have I lost the feeling/What’s wrong with me?” It’s always felt difficult for Land of Talk fans to explain why this particular relatively down-the-middle indie-rock project was so good. As singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Powell’s voice was always appealing, off-kilter, and expressive, but there was never an unmistakable calling card, like the singular yawp of Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan or the life-or-death majesty of Big Thief. Perhaps the unhurried, existential sighs of Kurt Vile were closer all along. And while this album’s interstitial speech fragments wind up sounding like the guys at the bar during a live solo set, and “Look to You (Intro)” and “Look to You” would’ve been better as a single, soaring opus, these are minor complaints. Indistinct Conversations finally burrows into Land of Talk’s dormant identity, as a band willing to wait out passing trends and realize its own promise. Another flash of psychological truth comes on “A/B Futures,” a rare fist-pumper on this preternaturally subdued record. “You need someone to care for,” Powell insists. “Hey, make that me.”
The Zombies - The Zombies , I Love You And R.I.P. Music Album ReviewsA trilogy of reissues tells the story of a brilliant, unconventional, yet luckless British Invasion band let down by an industry that didn’t know what to do with them. At the peak of British Invasion fever, a quintet of bookish St. Albans teens intimated that the future of the UK “beat music” craze might sound less like the hyperactive R&B that made screaming Beatles fans so ecstatic and more like the stuff entrancing hipsters at the coffee shop. The Zombies’ first two singles, the noirish jazz-fusion psychodramas “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No,” hit the Billboard top 10, making them instant stars—even bigger in the U.S. than the UK. “The Beatles had just broken America wide open, and there we were to trot along behind,” lead songwriter Rod Argent recalled. But lasting fame was not to be: After spending the next two years trying and failing to duplicate that success with little support from their label, Decca (the same company that infamously declined to sign the Beatles), they took an advance from CBS and holed up in Abbey Road Studios—in the hours that the Beatles weren’t recording Sgt. Pepper—to record their magnum opus, 1968’s Odessey and Oracle. Poorly promoted, the album tanked on both sides of the Atlantic, and Argent dissolved the band. A year later, when Odessey single “Time of the Season” shot surprisingly up the American charts, Zombies lead singer Colin Blunstone was back in England selling insurance, and Argent had formed a new band, simply called Argent. Americans who tried to see the band on tour in 1969 came away even more addled when a dodgy American company sent two impostor bands on the road to perform as the Zombies, one of which included two future members of ZZ Top. Meanwhile, UK music fans were treated to a newly recorded version of “She’s Not There” by someone called Neil MacArthur, who was actually Blunstone. The Zombies were the band that wasn’t there: too far ahead of the curve at the start of their career, and too far behind it four years later. For two decades after their dissolution, the Zombies’ were remembered mostly for their three classic singles: The first were two key historical markers of the British Invasion, the last a groovy reminder of the 1960s’ hippie-dominated denouement. The record industry’s non-stop cycles of reissues and remasters patched together the band’s legacy: Rhino’s 1987 CD reissue of Odessey and Oracle helped solidify the album’s rightful status as a psych-pop classic—Rolling Stone called it “a dazzling pop fantasia ripe for rediscovery” —and the 4xCD 1997 box set Zombie Heaven provided a long overdue and illuminating career retrospective for the rest of the band’s output. In 2019, Varese Sarabande re-compiled their recordings into a 5xLP vinyl set, and the same company has now repackaged much of the same material as individual albums—their self-titled 1965 debut, 1966’s I Love You, and R.I.P., which was recorded by Argent and White in late 1968 and soon shelved. Those who already own Zombie Heaven or the vinyl set, or anyone seeking new information about the band or alternate takes, will be disappointed in these spartan, low-budget reissues, each of which has already been re-released as Record Store Day exclusives. Essential they are not, but they do offer an opportunity to re-approach one of the strangest trajectories in rock history: the singles-and-filler first album, the second LP sold only in Europe and Japan, and the unreleased final album, recorded mostly without the lead singer in the wake of the group’s dissolution. Together, they trace the arc of an incredibly talented group that was done a significant disservice by an industry that could’ve made them stars in their own time. The Zombies were formed in 1961 by Argent, who’d grown up listening to Stravinsky and Bartok before being bowled over by Elvis Presley and then jazz pianists Bill Evans and Jimmy Smith. Keen on the electric piano, Argent recruited some St. Albans pals—White, Blunstone, drummer Hugh Grundy, and guitarist Paul Atkinson—to start playing R&B covers at art schools and music halls around the city. Argent’s classical and jazz-informed piano approach instantly distinguished them, and Blunstone’s downy tenor—discovered during an early practice, when Argent pushed him to the front—proved the group’s secret weapon, capable of grinding out a cover of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” then slipping into George Gershwin’s tranquil “Summertime.” In April 1964, the same month that the Beatles held down the top 5 spots on the Billboard Hot 100, the Zombies won a local songwriting competition, which led to a Decca contract and the opportunity to cut “Summertime” and three originals: White’s Beatles-influenced “You Make Me Feel Good” and rumbling surf-rocker “It’s Alright With Me,” and a new Argent-penned track called “She’s Not There.” The band considered “Summertime” for their lead single, but wisely settled on Argent’s composition as their public debut. George Harrison was an early fan, raving about “She’s Not There” on the British music show Juke Box Jury, and with good reason. Like the rest of the British Invasion groups, the Zombies started with the blues—Argent borrowed a key lyric from John Lee Hooker’s “No One Told Me”—but added several twists. First, there was Blunstone’s calm, Chet Baker-esque croon, which seemed to belie the anxieties of Argent’s lyrics: was a woman merely ghosting him, or might she actually be a ghost? As Argent winds his Hohner pianet through White’s deep bassline and Grundy’s stilted drumming, which reels toward a hard hit on the fourth beat of each measure like a detective drugged by an evasive suspect, “She’s Not There” dials in on the uncanny unknown. The pre-chorus shifts into major-key panic mode and Grundy locks into a 4/4, setting the stage for Blunstone to soar up to a high A for the shrieking, unresolved climax. Immediately, Decca sent the group off on a UK tour opening for Dionne Warwick, whose magnificent 1964 Bacharach/David collaboration inspired the band’s follow-up single, “Tell Her No.” Dialing back the dynamic extremes of “She’s Not There,” Argent created a song that brought rock ’n’ roll into dialogue with the moment’s most bewitching pop tunes: Warwick’s “Walk on By” and “A House Is Not A Home,” along with 1965’s Grammy-winning Record of the Year, “The Girl From Ipanema.” Blunstone’s vocal is at its most lustrous and vulnerable on “She’s Not There,” especially when he emerges out of the staccato chorus to coo, “Don’t hurt me now”—aimed not toward the woman of his dreams, but anyone else who might submit to her numinous charms. Few bands have ever started a career with as much out-of-the-box success—they were a rock band, first and foremost, but their skill with rueful, spooky melodrama suggested that they were destined for something much stranger. Decca packaged the two originals with their version of “Summertime” onto 1965’s The Zombies (issued as Begin Here in the UK, with a different tracklist), along with White’s “Alright,” a few lesser originals and a handful of covers. A good version of the Miracles’ live medley connecting “You Really Got a Hold on Me” to Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me” is balanced out by serviceable takes on Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Workin’” and Solomon Burke’s “Can’t Nobody Love You.” From the moment that “She’s Not There” hit #3 on Billboard, Decca shot the band out of a touring cannon, and they wouldn’t land for another two and a half years. When they weren’t recording sets for American music shows like “Hullabaloo” and “Shindig,” they were shlepping their own gear into and out of venues on city-to-city package tours like Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars. They followed “Tell Her No” with four singles in 1965 alone, each of which peaked at a lower spot on the Hot 100 than its predecessor. The circular logic of the record business took over from there: Without a hit single, Decca wouldn’t foot the bill for album recording sessions. Perhaps because they assumed that the Zombies had outlived their profitability in the States, Decca released the 1966 singles and B-sides compilation I Love You only through the label’s Dutch and Japanese divisions. This is a shame, because I Love You actually holds together quite well as an album, and shows that the Zombies had grown significantly as songwriters and instrumentalists. It opens with the short, mostly a cappella “The Way I Feel Inside,” a lovely showcase for Blunstone’s maturing voice, which segues into the singer’s first self-penned recording, the lush and dreamy ballad “How We Were Before.” White was coming into his own as well: His “You Make Me Feel Good” and “Don’t Go Away” are no less intoxicating for their obvious Beatles influence—he even nods directly to John Lennon with a few languid “ohhhhh” phrasings on the former. The Motown-flavored rave-up “Is This the Dream” and “Whenever You’re Ready,” which contains a potent Blunstone vocal and Argent solo, fizzled commercially in the U.S., as did the buttoned-up garage rock of Argent’s “Indication,” which Argent ended with a quasi-psychedelic organ solo—a major no-no for Top 40 DJs with quick trigger fingers. Perhaps Argent was ready to hop aboard the psych-rock train, if given the chance—or maybe he and the band were finished trying to meet the market on its own terms. By mid 1967, the Zombies had come to realize just how much touring revenue they were losing to their management, and how little they’d been able to grow as recording artists by working with the same producer on every single. Finished with their Decca contract, Argent and White were eager to test their mettle in a heady new post-Revolver era, and they signed a one-off contract with CBS to record and produce Odessey and Oracle at Abbey Road. Argent and White’s songs were magnificent, but Blunstone had soured on the music business—Argent had to coax him through “Time of the Season” measure by measure—and when the band learned that the Odessey songs were nearly impossible to pull off live, they called it quits, playing their last show in December 1967. While Blunstone went back to hawking insurance, Grundy took a job at a car lot, and Atkinson started training to become a computer programmer, Argent and White formed their own production company and recruited a few other players—the core of what would become Argent—to join them in the studio. Sessions from mid-December 1968 yielded the final single billed to the Zombies, the stately White composition “Imagine the Swan.” Revealing the prog-rock bedrock underlying Odessey, “Swan” borrows the chord sequence from Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” and the intricate harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas, topped with a mannered-yet-brassy Argent vocal that, in retrospect, sounds a lot like a young Freddie Mercury. Backed with the rococo instrumental “Conversation Off Floral Street,” the single hit the market and flopped. The Zombies were dead. Or were they? Fittingly for a band that seemed to haunt the rock establishment even while it was a going concern, Argent and White concocted a post-mortem Zombies LP titled R.I.P. that would not see the light of day for decades. During the same December sessions that produced the final Zombies single, they cut Argent’s jaunty “She Loves the Way They Love Her,” White’s flute-and-harpsichord-haunted “Smokey Day,” and Argent’s mid-tempo ballad “I Could Spend the Day,” with a stately ascending melody anticipating the sound of British arena prog. Along with the new recordings, the duo resurrected a handful of tracks from a few years earlier, adding vocal and string overdubs to Argent’s “If It Don’t Work Out” (given to Dusty Springfield in 1965) and White’s magnificent “I’ll Call You Mine,” perhaps the band’s most flawless pure pop single, which had been collecting dust on a studio shelf for more than two years. Toward the end of Side A came the band’s other great lost work, the gothic acoustic “Girl Help Me,” with a stuttering rhythm and perfectly arranged harmonies that suggested the band knew exactly how to build on the foundation of “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No,” but never got the chance. While the newer recordings occupied Side A of R.I.P., the polished-up early tracks were saved for Side B, giving the album a strange Benjamin Button vibe—as you listened, the band aged backwards. By all accounts, R.I.P. was ready for retail, but Argent shelved it to focus on his new band, which released its first album in 1970. Cold comfort for sure, but R.I.P. is one of the era’s great lost albums. The Zombies got their official industry due in 2019, when the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs inducted the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The choice of Hoffs—who started out in L.A.’s Paisley Underground scene in the ’80s—was a commemoration of Odessey and Oracle’s impact on multiple generations of psychedelic pop bands. But such institutions are, by their very nature, bound to misrepresent careers like the Zombies’, focusing on the high points instead of the truth of a frustrating, mismanaged five-year existence. In their time and beyond, the Zombies are the rare Hall of Fame inductees who were viewed as a cult band for the majority of their time together. In a way, that makes this latest crop of reissues, which wrongly presents them as an album-centric band for their entire career, as strangely appropriate as it is inessential.
SD/Brian Fresco - Muddbruddas Music Album ReviewsThe two Chicago rappers form an alliance possibly out of convenience or shared circumstances, but their opposing styles meld into a project that can work surprisingly well. For every national superstar born out of a regional rap scene, there are always dozens more MCs from that same community who fail to cross over. Brian Fresco & SD are not untalented, not entirely unsuccessful, but neither rapper has made it as far as some of their comrades from Chicago. Fresco came up earlier in the decade with the collective SaveMoney alongside members like Chance the Rapper & Vic Mensa, but he was soon eclipsed by their Kanye collaborations and Grammy nominations. SD was once counted among the most promising new stars of the city’s drill scene, a member of Chief Keef and Fredo Santana’s Glory Boyz Entertainment, but he maintained his independence and never really broke through because of it. Now, two rappers who never really got their due have come together to form a new tag-team partnership: the Muddbruddas. It might be an alliance of convenience or shared circumstances, but it’s one that works surprisingly well. Brian Fresco and SD’s mutually shared lack of commercial success, at least relative to their peers, isn’t out of any lack of skill or style on their part. In some alternate timeline, Brian Fresco has an exclusive deal with Apple and SD is a critical darling and cult favorite on the level of Keef. Fresco’s first impression of a mixtape, 2013’s Mafioso, dropped two weeks after Chance’s Acid Rap and included three separate features from The Rapper. On his debut, Fresco specialized in the same kind of soulful, slightly wonky sound that Chance cut his teeth on before becoming the rap game’s biggest wife guy. Like the rest of the SaveMoney collective’s releases, Fresco’s early work is relatively out of step with the rap movement his city was receiving the most acclaim for at that time; Mafioso is much more quiet storm than Chicago drill. So it’s fascinating to see him pair with an artist who embodies drill like few others; SD’s mid-decade releases are hallmarks of the subgenre. On mixtapes like Life of a Savage 3 and Truly Blessed, SD demonstrated that moshpit-ready ragers came as easily to him as melodic pop numbers—glittery ballads like “Big Things” and “Gossip” are still some of my favorite drill recordings. Muddbruddas isn’t really drill, but it’s not acid rap either. Fresco brings the soul, SD the pop mentality, and the result is lowkey party rap, laidback and effortless. The synths are bright and bouncy, and the bass is plentiful. On the one hand, Muddbruddas goes for a blatantly commercial sound, drafting many of the biggest producers in rap today—808 Mafia on “Duckin,” Pi’erre Bourne on “Aretha,” CashmoneyAP on “Teef Gold”—but on the other, it’s a hard sell as a commercial prospect, with not a feature to speak of, just 30 minutes of 808s and bars. The pair primarily operate as vocal foils to one another. On tracks like “Harley,” Fresco leans into his loose, sing-song flow that’s not too dissimilar from Chance, but SD’s presence pushes him into different flows, like “On It,” where he sounds much more frantic and leaned-forward in his voice, or “Pimp C,” on which he briefly shouts out and imitates the late Texas legend. SD’s flow has a grittier quality, not just in the gruffness of his voice but the pain it radiates—there’s a sadness to his voice that pushes against the overall jubilance of Muddbuddras, like on the more mournful “Bet On It.” When SD and Fresco meld their divergent sensibilities, the result approaches the sublime—“Bankroll” opens with SD spitting over a Clams Casino-type vocal loop courtesy of producer Mondamade da Beat, before an utterly triumphant horn hits and Brian Fresco takes charge for the chorus. Fresco & SD have patterned themselves in the image of classic rap duos—the cover art pays homage to Clipse, and “Pimp C” is obviously something of a tribute to UGK. Though the result may not be as groundbreaking as either of those groups, by coming together as part of a tacit alliance, both members of Muddbruddas have proved their viability as artists outside their brief moment in the sun during rap’s blog years. Their project is a valuable reminder that every rap scene is so much more than its most successful stars.
Rage Against the Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles Music Album ReviewsEach Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we revisit the third album from the radical rap-rock band, their sharpest revolutionary screed dropped into the dead zone of 1999. Golden hour took over Los Angeles as Rage Against the Machine marched onto a small stage in a sanctioned protest zone across from the Staples Center, where President Clinton was about to deliver the keynote address at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. Thousands of young Angelenos packed into the area to scream along to the quartet’s final live performance before a seven-year hiatus. From the stage, guitarist Tom Morello could see a big screen outside the coliseum showing Hillary and Bill giving their speeches while their guests sipped champagne and dunked shrimp into ramekins of cocktail sauce. In his strident call to action, Zack de la Rocha introduced the concert from the stage: “Brothers and sisters, our democracy has been hijacked!” Not only did the ad-hoc concert fit neatly into Rage’s political animus, but it was also a microcosm for American activism writ large in the 1990s: a multiracial group of pro-revolutionary leftists vs. the white figurehead of elite neoliberalism. The two sides flexed and preened for their respective crowds, separated by a tall barbed-wire fence and a phalanx of riot police armed with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. For concerned parents asking their teenagers exactly whom this band was raging against—Know what enemy? Fuck who I won’t do what who tells me?—on this afternoon in August, the answer was right there, standing at a podium, speaking to his delegates, with silver hair and an Arkansas drawl. Backstage, Morello gave an interview about why this ostensibly liberal band had shown up to protest the coronation of the ostensibly liberal Democratic nominee, Al Gore. “He’s practically indistinguishable from a President George Bush,” Morello said with unequivocal bravado. “They’re both pro-death penalty, both pro-NAFTA, both pro-big business...I don’t feel represented by either one.” When the band kicked into “Guerilla Radio,” the lead single from their third album, 1999’s The Battle of Los Angeles, de la Rocha said as much—including a line about the Republican nominee, branding Bush as the offspring of the corrupt former head of the CIA: “More for Gore or the son of a drug lord/None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord!” A film crew’s birds-eye camera view revealed five mosh pits going off simultaneously. On The Battle of Los Angeles, Rage made clear the aim and origin of their anger, especially for those who didn’t surf to ratm.com in the ’90s to learn the word “praxis” from an animated gif. Here they cast their gaze back through history to reel in half a millennia of theft, enslavement, and slaughter at the hands of the colonial state in the Americas. The gravity of hip-hop and the thick brow of metal met the sincere gaze of radical politics, creating an album that upended the prevailing critical idea of what good rock music should be doing. It was obvious, didactic, heavy-handed, bluntly delivered to the thick of the nation, because you don’t overthrow a racist police state with weepy songs about feeling alienated by technology. What better place than here, what better time than now to empty the missile silos at the so-called New Democrats and crypto-fascist Republicans, to give the opposition contour and dimension, to even embody it themselves, to show the world what an autonomous, dignified life could possibly look like. “There was this interesting thing that was happening during the Clinton administration,” de la Rocha would later tell the Los Angeles Times. “People were looking inward and not outward, and not addressing what was going on.” The malaise of the ’90s—a tone set by the self-defeatist laconism of Gen X—settled in during eight years of relative peace and economic prosperity under Clinton. While the bull market lined the pockets of the growing professional class, Clinton’s legislative victories broke from traditional liberal values and ballooned inequality in America. His disastrous welfare reform gutted the core tenet of the New Deal; his administration deregulated banking, allowing the most powerful financial institutions to amass unseen amounts of capital until they were “too big to fail” in the crash of 2008; they passed the abhorrent 1994 crime bill, the most sweeping in American history, a steroid injection to the carceral state that put thousands of disproportionately Black men into newly constructed prisons and increased the number of federal death penalty cases from three to 60. Most egregiously, and perhaps most important to Rage lore, was the North American Free Trade Agreement. The treaty sought to accelerate the economy by opening borders between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. In doing so, it moved profit away from workers and their communities toward business owners and shareholders, all while crippling unions and the American labor force, who could now be replaced by unconscionably cheap labor. For Mexico, free trade was seen as—and has proven to be—economically devastating: Some two million Mexican farmers have lost their land in the age of NAFTA. Indigenous workers, like those in the southernmost state of Chiapas who faced the importation of corporate American agribusiness, predicted correctly that “free trade” would decimate their heritage and livelihood. And so on January 1st, 1994—the day NAFTA went into effect—hundreds of men, women, and children emerged from the Lacandon jungle and the canyons of Chiapas as a guerilla army and demanded autonomy from the Mexican government. Marking 500 years of genocide against indigenous peoples by colonial rule, the workers wanted control of their Mayan land and their food; they wanted democracy, peace, and justice on their own terms. They called themselves the Zapatistas (the armed faction is known as the Zapatista National Liberation Army, or EZLN) and carried a flag bearing a single red star centered against a black background—the same insignia that peppers Rage iconography and stage shows. The Zapatistas’ bandoliers and rifles (some real, many fake) were a theatrical show of military might, but their real power lay in their philosophy, called Zapatismo, and the writings and speeches of the group’s de facto leader, Subcomandante Marcos. Quixotic, pseudonymous, and filmed wearing a balaclava smoking a pipe, Marcos spoke in winding allegory and professorial verse about the revolution of the Zapatistas. The Zapatista revolution was not for them, but for the greater world. “Para todos todo, para nosotros nada,” goes the most famous Zapatismo maxim, “For everyone everything, for us nothing.” As Alex Khasnabish, a professor and researcher of radical collectives, explained in one of Rage’s unauthorized biographies, Know Your Enemy, the cornerstone of Zapatismo is this: “Rather than insisting that you support [the Zapatistas], they want you to struggle in your own way, in your own place, with your own commitment to dignity in a revolution that makes sense to you and the people around you.” The grandiloquent ideas of the Zapatistas and Subcomandante Marcos took on the hue of surrealism and romance, a way of sounding a revolution through the tones and rhythms of language. At heart, the music of Rage Against the Machine is a direct extension of Zapatismo: paradoxical, militaristic, generous, a conduit for power, not a concentration of it. De la Rocha visited Chiapas four times between 1995 and 1996, working closely with the Zapatistas and strengthening his connection to his Mexican heritage (his Sinaloan grandfather fought in the Mexican Revolution). These trips helped shape the idea of revolutionary bridge-building, of connecting the struggle of one to the many. “I think every revolutionary act is an act of love,” de la Rocha told Rolling Stone in 1999. “Every song that I’ve written, it is because of my desire to use music as a way to empower and re-humanize people who are living in a dehumanizing setting.” On its surface, it was easy to classify Rage as music for teenagers staging a leafy suburban rebellion against their parents or doing curls in the squat rack. But by The Battle of Los Angeles, Rage had ascended to something far more personal, spiritual, and bohemian. If 1996’s Evil Empire came with a leftist library starter pack, Battle came with a politics of emotion, music that was nimble and serious. In her book Hope in the Dark, the writer and activist Rebecca Solnit describes the words of Subcomandante Marcos as “the language of the vast, nameless, current movement that globalization has drawn together, a movement...driven by imaginations as supple as art rather than as stiff as dogma.” It is from this delicate branch of politics that Zack de la Rocha’s words were formed. In 1999, however, the context in which most people engaged with The Battle of Los Angeles was not through the insurrectionary poetry of Subcomandante Marcos or a readily accessible anti-globalization platform. The album was released in the last gasp of the monoculture, dropped into the scum pond of rock’s commercial nadir. Korn led the nu-metal charge on radio, while Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock were rap-rocking without cause on TRL. There were only a few American anti-war protests against Clinton bombing a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan or the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (in the press throughout the late-’90s, Morello would often parry a journalist’s question about, say, the violence at Woodstock ’99 with an indictment of Clinton’s warmongering, like his “Tomahawk missile [that] destroyed the children’s hospital outside Belgrade.”) There were no wars predicated on a lie about weapons of mass destruction, no social media to disseminate revolutionary tweets to the masses, just pockets of left-wing activism fighting against the WTO in Seattle and the IMF in D.C. as Creed’s Human Clay sat atop the charts. The benefit of Rage reentering the mainstream during this odd musical and socio-political dead zone was that they sounded both nostalgic and of-the-moment. They had cleared the way for nu-metal and rap-rock with their first two albums, 1992’s groundbreaking self-titled debut and 1996’s angsty and downtrodden Evil Empire, both of which eventually went triple platinum. When they swung back in with The Battle of Los Angeles, it was like a reminder of the prophecy they foretold at the beginning of the decade. Once iconoclastic rap-rock alchemists, Rage now sounded pretty much like what was on the radio. Moreover, they sounded like the same band they always were but more lethal, more agile, able to fully disarm with a verse and a hook. “What I did a lot on [Evil Empire] was, ‘This is what I think. This is my comment,’” de la Rocha told Rolling Stone. “I’ve had to change. I want people to see reflections of themselves in the songs.” His personal accountability fit squarely with the Zapatismo ethos of wanting people to create a revolution in their own way, now bolstered with songs that moved quicker, had bigger hooks, and carried more weight than anything Rage had ever written. It took nearly a year for de la Rocha to complete all the vocals on Battle, during which he gravitated to another plane of rapping. He is exacting and dynamic, the generalissimo’s preacher. On “Calm Like a Bomb,” he loops himself around the band in long ribbons of verse: “I be walkin’ God like a dog/My narrative fearless/My word war returns to burn like Baldwin home from Paris.” Then on the pre-chorus, as the band lurches into their signature mosh-rock cadence, de la Rocha hugs the turn on two wheels to deliver this slinky triplet: “What ya say, what ya say, what ya say, what!” When the chorus hits, it does exactly what he says: “Ignite!” The chameleonic ease with which de la Rocha slides between rap, funk, and rock on “Calm Like a Bomb” is indicative of the band’s full symbiosis of all those genres on Battle; a chemical compound perfected, a longshot theory finally proved. With Brad Wilk on the drums and Tim Commerford on the bass, Rage cut deep into the groove. The verse of “Sleep Now in the Fire” is the rhythm section at its best: the feel has that crab-creep shuffle with Wilk and Commerford laying down an “Amen break” while Morello makes his guitar sound like a British dial tone. The formula of Rage’s rhythm section can be largely predictable—hushed intro, blues riffs, experimental sound-bed under the verse, more blues riffs, wacky guitar solo, breakdown with blues riffs—but there’s just enough variety and mobility to let de la Rocha be the star. He’ll blow a word out of his mouth in a huff with big pockets of air in his cheeks, or he’ll wrap his throat around a word like a snake, sucking the air out of it. The space he leaves between the names of Columbus’ ships, the trilled “r” on “Maria,” the oddly swung rhythm of a line dripping with sarcasm—“So raise your fist and march around just don’t take what you need”—sometimes there are more ideas in the rhythm of his raps than the raps themselves. When the band was tour with Gang Starr, DJ Premier told Spin that he’d try to get a remix of a new Rage song onto rap radio, but that it might not be as easy as it was with Fred Durst. “Zack is trying to penetrate the whole soul… he’s speaking the real, and that takes longer to sink in.” One of the band’s longest-running causes célèbres was the fight for the freedom of Black Panther and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal—who, it is widely believed, was unfairly convicted of killing a New York police officer in 1981. “Long as the rope is tight around Mumia’s neck/Let there be no rich white life we bound to respect,” de la Rocha stage-whispers on “Voice of the Voiceless,” a short ode to Mumia’s struggle. While the phrase “Free Mumia” became something of an activist meme in the ’90s, Rage never took his sham trial or his then-impending death sentence for granted (Mumia’s execution case was dropped in 2011 and he is now serving life without parole). In January 1999, Rage threw an infamous benefit concert in New Jersey that raised $80,000 for Mumia and sparked a media war between a right-wing cop union and the band. And in April of the same year, de la Rocha flew to Geneva, Switzerland to speak on Mumia’s behalf at the International Commission of Human Rights. Each song on Battle comes from an outgrowth of personal political conviction. Rage weren’t fretting from afar and hoping for change like Live Aid; de la Rocha was writing about the abject horror of immigrant sweatshop labor on “Maria” after Morello was arrested demonstrating against sweatshops in Santa Monica in 1997. De la Rocha wrote of the wealth inequality he saw in his hometown of L.A. (“Born as Ghosts”) and a final salvo about the Zapatistas’ struggle on “War Within a Breath,” the last in a series of songs about the Zapatistas stretching back to Evil Empire. Hidden in that track is a brief line that could be the album’s subheadline: “It’s a war from the depth of time.” Perhaps most striking is “Born of a Broken Man,” a slow dirge cut from the cloth of Black Sabbath about de la Rocha’s father, the artist and muralist Beto de la Rocha. Beto was a member of the landmark Chicano painting collective Los Four; in 1974, he was one of the first Chicano artists to be exhibited at the L.A. County Museum of Art. After suffering a nervous breakdown in 1981, Beto fell into a destructive spiral of religious fanaticism. He would fast for weekends, sometimes making a young Zack fast beside him. One night, in a fit of anger and guilt, Beto destroyed over half of his paintings in front of his son. “Born of a broken man, but not a broken man,” Zack screams of complicated pride on the hook. The anomaly of “Born of a Broken Man,” the only Rage song that ever pulled directly from de la Rocha’s personal life, lends emotional credence to the political screeds around it—“harangue’n’roll” as Rolling Stone once derisively tagged the band. Few bands have been given more purity tests than Rage Against the Machine over the years, but the question inevitably arises with any group that stakes their identity on revolutionary thought and leftist causes: Do you buy it? You know these avowed socialists are signed to Epic, a multinational major label, right? They made millions of dollars from record sales, and Battle debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, just as Evil Empire did in 1996. Are they redistributing their wealth? When de la Rocha left the band in October of 2000, he hinted at his own discomfort, saying that the group’s decision-making process had “undermined our artistic and political ideal.” How do you square the band’s leftist ideology with the defanged arena rock of Audioslave in the ensuing years? Perhaps the biggest hurdle for buying into Rage Against the Machine is simply their name. All these years later, it has curdled into something sophomoric, trite, somehow too specific and too vague at the same time. If it is an albatross around the band’s neck, it’s created a tautology that has forced them to stay true to themselves: The immutable law of a Rage Against the Machine album is that it must, by nature, rage against the machine. And so inherent in their silly band name lies the uncynical, righteous, and repetitious work of activism and fighting for justice, the search for the will to continue even when it seems like the battle is lost. “I’m not buying this bullshit line that says the situation in Chiapas or with Mumia or with the garment workers somehow has nothing to do with middle-class white kids at our shows,” de la Rocha told Spin in 2000. “All this alienation has roots; it’s not just TV or boredom or bad parents.” This was the great ambition of The Battle of Los Angeles, and perhaps Rage itself: to draw a line between their millions of Gen X and Millennial fans and the causes they fought for, from conquistadors to Clinton, from the Intifada to the Zapatistas, from Francis Fukuyama’s claim that the end of the Cold War was the “end of history” to the spark of the anti-globalization movement around the world. Battle revealed the extent—chronologically and geographically—to which none of us live with dignity. They showed us this is a war we can’t win but it’s a war we don’t deserve to lose.
Made in Italy Movie Review"Made in Italy" is a movie with the best intentions but middling results. It's a story of father and son navigating their rocky relationship, hoping to find common ground through their estrangement and coming together for a shared purpose. From the moment writer-director James D'Arcy's movie starts, you know exactly where "Made in Italy" will end. Liam Neeson trades his gun for a paintbrush as Robert, who hasn't seen his son Jack (Micheál Richardson, Neeson's real-life son with the late Natasha Richardson) in several months. Jack is a gallerist in London who is in the process of getting divorced. The gallery belongs to his soon-to-be ex-wife and her family and he is determined to keep it but doesn't have the money to buy it. To obtain the funds he must swallow his pride and resentment and convince his father to sell their family home in Italy, which has been vacant since the loss of his mother over a decade earlier. When Jack and Robert agree to return to the house, it looks condemnable. There are vines growing through the doors and windows, animals are living in the bathroom, and there is dust and dirt on just about every inch of the house. It needs a lot of work, and the two of them must set aside all differences to get the work done. The concept of "Made in Italy" is standard, but the location and scenery are expectedly gorgeous. A little escapist imagery could do everyone some good right now. The movie, however, never really comes to life, despite having an inherent sense of catharsis for Neeson and Richardson. Who's to say if their relationship is anything like what is portrayed onscreen, but having to deal with the loss of a wife and mother and work through that together certainly fueled their decision to make this movie. This is D'Arcy's directorial debut, after starring in a number of big films, but it's unclear where his passion for the mostly flat story lies. Perhaps, a chance to pair Neeson and Richardson in this father-son tale? "Made in Italy" has a good heart, but it's too by-the-numbers to emotionally register with an audience. "Made in Italy" is available in select theaters and on VOD.
හිට්ලර්ගේ ටිබෙටයේ බෞද්ධ පොත (Hitler's Buddhist Book On Tibet)ඇමෙරිකන් මානව විද්යද්යාඥයන්ගේ භාෂා දැනුම මද නිසා හෙළ ගුවන් යානා හැඳින්වූ වචන වරද්දගෙන ඇත. විමාන, වෛලෙක්සි (Vailexi) සහ ඇස්ට්රා (Astra) යන වර්ග තුනක ගුවන් යානා පැරණි ලොව තිබූ බව ඔවුහු පවසති. විමානය යනු ගුවන් යානයයි. එය නිවැරදිය. වෛලෙක්සි යනු ‘‘වෛමාන’’ යන වචනය (වෛමානික ශාස්ත්ර ආදී) ප්ලේටෝ පඬිවරයා විසින් තම ‘‘අත්ලන්තික් පුරවරය’’ නමැති වාර්තාවේ ග්රීක බසින් දක්වා ඇති ආකාරයයි. රාමායනයේ හනුමා දුටු ලංකාපුර විස්තරයත් අත්ලන්තික්පුර විස්තරයත් එකක්මය. ලංකාපුරය හා අත්ලන්තික්පුරය එකක්ම බව 1999 දී ඔප්පු වී ඇත.ඇස්ට්රා යනු ආචාර්ය රූත් රේනර් මහත්මිය (චන්දිගාර් විශ්වවිද්යාලය) ටිබෙට් රටේ තිබූ සංස්කෘත ග්රන්ථය ඉංගිරිසියට පරිවර්තනය කරද්දී ‘‘අහස්තර’’ (අහස තරණය කිරීමේ යාත්රාව) යන වචනය වැරදියට ඉංගිරිසියට පරිවර්තනය කිරීමයි. එබැවින් විමාන, වෛලෙක්සි හා ඇස්ට්රා යනු එකම වචනය වන ගුවන් යානයයි. ලංකාපුරයට ප්ලේටෝ විසින් අත්ලන්තික් පුරවරය ලෙසට දැක්වූ බව 1999 දී බ්රිතාන්ය මානව විද්යඥයෙකු විසින් ඔප්පු කෙරින. තමන් ඊට ග්රීක නමක් යෙදූ බව ප්ලේටෝම පවසයි. අනුරාධපුර වෙස්සගිරියේ ඇති ආතර් සී. ක්ලාක් විසින් ස්ටාර් ගේට් (Star Gate) ලෙස නම්කළ ඔප මට්ටම් කළ ගල් පුවරුවක ඇති සටහන අභ්යවකාශ සිතියමක් ලෙස ක්ලාක් විස්තර කරයි. මාතලේ රිවර්ස්ටර්න් (Reverse Turn) එම නම ලබා ඇත. (බ්රිතාන්ය යුගයේදී) අභ්යවකාශ යානාවන් අවුත් නවතා තිබී ආපසු හරවා ගිය තැන එය බව ගම්මුන් විසින් සුදු නිලධාරින්ට පවසා තිබේ. රාවණට පරම්පරා 4 ට ඉහත සිටි ඔහුගේ මිත්තණියක් වන දේවයානී නොහොත් මන්දාත (පත්තිනි දේවිය මැය බව ඇතැම් මානව විද්යාඥයෝ පිළිගනිති) ගුවන්යානා මගින් බෝම්බ දමමින් පහරදීම කරන අයුරු තම මාලී, සුමාලී හා මාල්යවන්න යන පුතුන් දෙදෙනාට පුහුණු කළ ඇයව ඇගේ පියා විසින් ඇත ඇත ඇත කියා නවත්වාගත් තැන ඇතැන්ඩි බවට අග්නි පුරාණයේ සඳහන්ය. එමෙන්ම දේවයානිගේ දියණිය ‘‘අජමුඛී’’ නම් වූවාය. ඊට හේතුව ‘‘අජමුඛ’’ වර්ගයේ ගුවන් යානාවක් ඇය සතු වීමය. මයුර යනුද ගුවන් යානා වර්ගයකි. ජන වහරට පුෂ්පක යානය මොණර නම් විය. සුපර්ණකාගේ සැමියාට ‘‘ද්යුත’’ වර්ගයේ යානයක් විය. එබැවින් ඔහු ‘‘විද්යුත’’ නම් විය. ‘‘මන්ත්රික’’ වර්ගයේ යානා වර්ග 25 කි. ඒ පුෂ්පක, අජමුබ, ජ්යෙතිර්මුඛ, මයුර, භීෂ්ම, ද්යුත, භේරුණ්ඩ ආදී වශයෙනි. ලංකාපුර වැසියන් මයුර (දඬුමොණර) යයි කියූ යානයට වාල්මිකී පුෂ්පක යැයි කීවේ ඇයිද යනු ප්රශ්නයකි. ‘‘වෛමානික ශාස්ත්ර’’ හි භාරද්වජගේ වර්ගීකරණය යටතේ අහස්යානා වර්ග 4 ක් ‘‘සකුණ’’ (පක්ෂි) යානා වර්ගයට දඬුමොණර අයත් වේ. පොළවට පහත් කරන විට දෙපස තටුදෙක දිගහැරී වේගය අඩුවීම සඳහා තටු සැලීම සිදුවන බැවින් මේවා ‘‘සකුණ’’ නම් වේ. සතාගිර (සෙල්ලිපිවල සතා) හේමවත (සෙල්ලිපිවල හෙම්) හා ආලවක (අලව්) වැනි ප්රාදේශීය පාලකයන්ටද (ඉන්දියාවේ සත්ගිරිකඳු ප්රදේශය සතාගිරද, කාලිංග ප්රදේශය නොහොත් වත්මන් ඔරිස්සා ගුවන් යානා තිබීම හා අහසින් ගමන් කිරීම බෞද්ධ සාහිත්යයේ ඇත. ගෞතම බුදුන් දවස ගුවන් යානා තිබුණේද යන බවට වෙනත් සාක්ෂි නැත. හනුමා විසින් රාමායන සුන්දර කාණ්ඩයේ විස්තර කරන අයුරු රාවණගේ පුෂ්පක යානයේ ආසන 200 ක් විය. රනින් කළ අසුනක් හා රිදියෙන් කළ අසුන් 2 ක්ද මුළුතැන්ගෙයක් හා වැසිකිළි 2 ක්ද විය. මහල් 3 ක් සහිත 300 ට වැඩි මගීන් පිරිසක් රැගෙන ගිය ‘‘ත්රිපුර’’ නමැති යානා වර්ගයක් (ජම්බෝ ජෙට්) ‘‘වෛමානික ශාස්ත්රහි’’ දැක්වේ. හිට්ලර් විසින් ජෙට්යානා හා මිසයිල් සහිත ජෙට් යැවීම උගත්තේ ටිබෙට් ලාමා ආරාමවලින් බවත් වාර්ෂිකව තුටු පඬුරු යවමින් මෙම ආරාම සමග සබඳතා පැවැත් වූ බවත් ‘‘මෙයින් කෑම්ෆ්’’ නමැති සිය ජීවිත කතාවෙහි හිට්ලර් විසින් සඳහන් කර ඇත. මෙම පොතපත ටිබෙට් ලාමා ආරාමවලට ආ සැටි එම ලාමාවරු දනිති. අශෝක අධිරාජයා විසින් යුද බෙරය නවත්වා ධර්ම බෙරය හැඬවීමට පටන්ගත් පසු මෙම පුස්ථක තම අධිරාජ්යයෙන් ඉවත්කර ටිබෙටයේ තැන්පත් කළේ තවදුරටත් යුද්ධය අනවශ්ය නිසාය. යුද ගුවන් යානා, මිසයිල්, ගිනිමල් විහිදුවන ඊතල, විනාශකාරී බෝම්බ තැනීම ආදියේ පොතපත වාර්තා තිබුණේ ලංකාවේය. කුඩා රටක කුඩා රජෙකු සමග අශෝක අධිරාජයා නමැති එකල ලෝක බලවතා සහෝදරත්වයෙන් ආශ්රය කිරීම මෙම රහස් ලබාගැනීමට විය හැකි යැයි සාධාරණ ලෙස අනුමාන කළ හැක. දෙවනපෑතිස් සමය වන විට (ක්රි:පූ. 236) සංස්කෘත ඉතාමත් දියුණු ලේඛන භාෂාව වීම නිසා ඒවා සංස්කෘතයට පරිවර්තනය කරගන්නට ඇත. ටිබැටයේ සංස්කෘත බසින් අහස්යානා ග්රන්ථ (1967 පරිවර්තිත) තිබුණේ එබැවිනි. බැංගලෝරයේ තිබූ භාරද්වජ පරිවර්තනය කළ ග්රන්ථය බැංගලෝරයේම ඉතිරිව තිබෙන්නට ඇත. වෛමානික ශාස්ත්ර (බැංගලෝර්) ග්රන්ථය පරිවර්තනයක් මිස නිර්මාණයක් නොවේ. විමාන යනු කුමක්දැයි කර්තෘ භාරද්වජ නොදැනීම ඊට ෙහ්තුවයි. ‘‘පක්ෂියාගේ ගමනට සමාන වේගයක් ඇති නිසා ඊට විමාන යයි කියනු ලැබේ (Owing to Similarity of Speed With birds, it is named Vimana) යනු භාරද්වජගේ අර්ථ දැක්වීමය. (ජී.ආර්. ජොස්යර්ගේ ඉංග්රීසි පරිවර්තනය 1908) බෝධානන්ද වෘති සහ ලාලාචාර්යද මෙම අර්ථ නිරූපණයෙදී ඇති බව ජොස්සර් පවසයි. අදත් ගැමි වහරේ එන ‘‘යකාගේ හැටියට විමානේ’’ යන්නෙහි අර්ථය කුරුල්ලා නොවේ. වසන තැන (නිවහන) යනු එහි අර්ථයයි. අනගාරික ධර්මපාල තුමා පසුකල තැනින් තැනට ගමන්කරමින් ජීවත් වූ ‘‘අසෝබන මාලිගාව’’ නමැති විමන් රථය නිවසක් ලෙස සකස් කළ ලොරි රථයකි. එය පක්ෂියෙකු නොවේ. ඉතිහාසය යන අර්ථය ඇති ‘‘පුරාණ’’ නම් ග්රන්ථයන්හි සඳහන් අයුරු ලංකාවේ ගුවන්යානා ගැන ඇති සාක්ෂි ගණනාවකි. i. වසර 10,500 ඉහත ප්රාලද රජුගේ පුත් වීරචන්න (වීරචන) දකුණු ඇමෙරිකාවේ අන්දිස් කඳුවල ටිටිකාකා විල (ලොව උසම විල) අසල පාතාල රාජ්යය (පාද තලය යට) ඇතිකළේය. මේ ලෝක ගෝලයේ ලංකාවට විරුද්ධ දෙසින් අැති භූමියයි. අද එම ප්රදේශය ‘‘ටිවනතු’’ ලෙස හැඳින්වේ. මෙහි යාමට ගුවන් යානයක් තිබිය යුතුමය. ii. වසර 12,500 ට ප්රථම කොකේසස් කඳු ප්රදේශයේ (අාර්මිනියා, අසර්බයිජාන්, ජෝර්ජියා) අධිපතියා වූ හිරන් කසුප් (කාශ්යප) රජු තම දීප්තිමත් ඇස්වලින් බලා යුරෝපයේ හිම තට්ටුව දියකර හැරි බවට ගරුඬ පුරාණය හිරන් කසුප්ට දොස් පවරයි. ලංකාවේ පාලකයෙකු කොකේසස් කඳුකරය පාලනයට නම් ගුවන්යානයක් තිබිය යුතුය. iii. දේවයානි (මන්දාත) තම පුතුන් සමග අහසින් ගොස් බෝ්ම්බ දැමීම පුහුණු කළ බව ඉහත දැක්විණ. එමෙන්ම දේවයානිගේ දියණිය ‘‘අජමුඛී’’ වූයේ ඇයට ‘‘අජමුඛ’’ වර්ගයේ ගුවන් යානයක් තිබීම නිසාය. එළුවාගේ මුඛයේ අග තුන්හුලස්ය. තියුණුය. මේ වාතය කපාගෙන යාම සඳහා නූතන ගුවන්යානා (එයාර් බස්) වල ඇති හැඩයයි. iv. රාමායණයේ දැක්වෙන රාවණගේ පුෂ්පක ගුවන් යානය. v. 1998 අප්රේල් මස බැබිලෝනියා (ඉරාකයේ) කැණීමකදී හමු වූ මැටි පුවරුවල සටහන් වී තිබුණේ ගුවන්යානාවලින් ආ සිංහ මිනිසුන් කියාදුන් පරිදි තම රට ගොඩනැංවූ බවය. සිංහ මිනිසුන්ගේ සිංහ පර්වතයේ (සීගිරියේ) ඇති පරිදි එල්ලෙන උයන් වතු (පුදුම 7 න් එකක්) නිර්මාණය කිරීමද ඒවායේ සඳහන්ය. vi. කාශ්මීර රාජ වංශ කතාව වන ‘‘රාජතරංගනියේ’’ සඳහන්වන පරිදි ඊජිප්තු පිරමිඩ් සැදීම කළේ ලංකාවේ ශිල්පීන් විසිනි. අවුරුදු 4500 පැරණි බවට කාබන් පරීක්ෂණවලින් තහවුරු කළ ගුවන් යානා හතරේ මැටි ඇඹීම (1986) පෙන්වන්නේ එම පිරමිඩ් දේවාලයක බිත්තියේ මෙම රූප අඹා තිබූ බවය. එය ලංකාවේ ශිල්පීන් කරන්නට ඇතැයි සහේතුකව අනුමාන කළ හැක. vii. මාතලේ දේවයා (මාතලී) විසින් පදවන ලද සුමන සමන්ගේ ගුවන් යානයේ ආකෘතියක් හෝ ගුවන් යානය බළංගොඩ බොල්තුඹේ දේවාලයේ මෑතක් වනතුරු තිබිණ. 1880 දී පමණ රත්නපුර කච්චේරියේ ඒජන්ත මෙම කාමරය බලහත්කාරයෙන් අරවා එය බැලූමුත් රත්නපුරයට ආ පසු කැලෑඋණ හැදී මිය ගිය අතර බොල්තුඹේ සිදුවීම ගැන එම ගමේ ආරච්චි (ගම්මුලාදෑනියා) කළ විස්තරය රාජ්ය ලේඛනාගාරයේ ඇත. viii. රඹුක්කන දියසුන්නත පාලම ළඟ විමලෙ බාස් උන්නැහැ (ගරාජ් හිමියෙකි) අහස් යානාවක් (දඬුකජ්ජක්) සාදා බතලගොඩ වැව උඩ තුන්වරක් රවුම් ගසා කෑගල්ල පොලිසියේ අතවරයන්ට ලක් වූ අයුරු 1990 දී පමණ පුවත්පත්වල පළවිය. ix. සෘධිබලය නැති සුමන සාමණේරයන් හා පණ්ඩුක උපාසකයාද දෙවැනපෑතිස් මුව දඩයමේ ගිය පොසොන් පසළොස්වක දින මිහින්තලා පව්වට බැස්සේ සෘධියෙන් නොවේ. සුමන සමන් දේවයාට ගුවන් යානයක් තිබුණේ මීට වසර 200 ට ඉහතය. රත්නපුර ඒජන්තද එය දිටී. මේ ගැන ගවේණනයක් කළ යුතුය. 19 සියවසේ ඩාවින්ගේ පරිනාමවාදයට අනුව ලෝක ඉතිහාසය ලියවී ඇත. ඒ අනුව වඳුරාගෙන් පරිනාමය වූ මිනිසා මුලදී මස් බුදින දඩයක්කාරයෙකි. දෙවනුව එඬේරෙකි. තුන්වැනිව වගා කරන්නෙකි. සිව්වැනිව කර්මාන්තකරුවෙකි. යුරෝපයට එය ආදේශ වුවද ලංකාවට ආදේශ නොවේ. එය හිතළු ඉතිහාසයකි. බෞද්ධ සූත්ර දේශනාවලට අනුව මුල්ම මිනිසා (කෘත යුගය) සිතිවිල්ලෙන්ම තම අවශ්යතා ඉටුකරගනී. සිතිවිල්ලෙන් ඔහු අහසින් ගියේය. දෙවැනි අවධියේ (ද්වාපර යුගය) වායු තරංග ක්රියාත්මක කරවන මන්ත්ර හා චිත්තය යන දෙකම ක්රියාත්මක වී අහසින් ගියහ. තුන්වැනි යුගයේදී (නේත්රා යුගය) ද්රව්යය බහු බහුලව යෙදුන අතර මන්ත්ර ඉතා සුළුවෙන් අවශ්ය වුණි. දැන් සිව්වැනි යුගයේදී (කලි යුගය) ද්රව්යයේ උපරිම දියුණු තත්ත්වයට පැමිණ ඇත. ඉනුදු තවත් එහාට යාම නම් අධි මානසික බලය ඊට අවශ්යය. විද්යාව අවසන්වන තැනින් අාගම ඇරඹේ යයි ඇතැම් කිතුනු පූජකතුමන්ලා කියන්නේ එබැවිනි. අප කියන්නේ මනෝ ප්ුබ්බංග මා ධම්මා… මනෝ සෙට්ඨා මනෝමයා’’ ලෙසටය. මනසේ නොහොත් සිතුවිල්ලේ වේගය ඉතා ප්රබලය, එම සිතිවිල්ල කෘත්රිම ලෙස ද්රව්යමය බවට හරවා පරමාණු හසුරුවන අධිවේගය ‘‘ක්වොන්ටම් විද්යාව’’ ලෙස හැඳින්වේ. එක්සත් ජනපදයේ ඉතාමත් අධිවේගී මර්කරි වෝටෙක්ස් එන්ජින්ද ෙයාදවා කළ නිෂ්පාදන අතුරින් TR3-B ප්රමුඛත්වය ගනී. මේ රාවණාගේ රසදිය මූලධර්මයයි. නිෂ්පාදන භාණ්ඩය එක්සත් ජනපදයේය. සාරාංශය: චිත්ත ශක්තියෙන් ද්රව්යයට මාරු වූ ගුවන් යානය එහි උපරිම ද්රව්යමය තත්ත්වයට පැමිණ ඇත. ඉන් ඔබ්බට ගොස් විශ්වය පුරා ග්රහලෝකවලට යාමට නම් නැවත ශක්තියට (චිත්තයට) මාරු විය යුතුය. ක්වොන්ටම් භෞතික වාදය හා මර්කරි වෝටෙක්ස් එන්ජිම මේ දෙක අතර පාලම වී ඇත. දැන් එක්සත් ජනපදය පාලමින් එගොඩ වී අවසන්ය. බල ලෝභය තුළින් ක්රියාත්මක වේ. එක්සත් ජනපදයට එම චේතනාවන් තුළ ඉඳිමින් ග්රහලෝකවලට යාමේ අවශ්යතාව ඉටුකරගත හැකිද? සෘෂි මනසින් කළ දේ බල අධිකාරී මනසින් කළ හැකිද? අපි බලාසිටිමු. (ද්රව්ය හා ශක්තිය දෙකක් නොවේ. එකක් අනෙක මත පවතී, තාවකාලිකව වෙන්ව ගියද (මරණය) නැවතත් එකට (භව) එකතු වේ.
ලංකාවේ එකම හුණුගල් පොකුණ (The Only Limestone Pond In Sri Lanka)අද අපේ කතාව ටිකක් වෙනස් ඒ තමා.බළන්ගොඩ රජවක රක්ෂිතයේ තංජන්ගැන්න ගල්ලැල්තොට ප්රදේශයේ හමුවී ඇති හුණුදිය පොකුණු. මෙයට හුණුගල් පොකුණ කියා හඳුන්වන්නේ ස්වභාවිකවම හුණුගල් ඛාදනය වී පොකුණු මෙන් වටවුණු කුඩා තඩාග බොහෝමයක් නිර්මාණය වී ඇති හෙයිනි. මෙම හුණුගල් පතුල කොන්ක්රීට් බදාමයක් දැමුවාක් මෙන් නැතහොත් පිහිනුම් තඩාගයක පතුල මෙන් විනිවිද භාවයෙන් යුක්ත වූ අතර ඒවා කිසිලෙසකත් කැලතී හෝ අපවිත්ර වී නොතිබුණි. මෙහි ඇති හුණුගල්වල අපි විශේෂත්වයක් දුටුවෙමු. එනම් මෙම හුණුගල් ජලය ගලායන දිශාවට අනුවර්තනය වී තිබීමය. එනම් පොකුණු තුළ ඇති තට්ටු සියල්ලෙම බැම්ම සෑදී ඇත්තේ මෙම හුණුගල් වලිනි. එම බැම්ම තනි හුණුගලින් තිබුණ ද එය ජලය වැටෙන දිශාවට කූරු මෙම නිර්මාණය වී තිබේ එලෙස වී ඇත්තේ වසර ගණනාවක් පුරාවට ජලය කඩා වැටීමේ රටාවට අනුවර්තනය වී හුණුගල් වැටීම මගිනි. එම නිසාම පොකුණු සියල්ලෙම තට්ටු වෙන් වෙන බැව් පහළ ඉතා අලංකාර ලෙස හුණුගල් පහළට වැටෙන ලෙස පිහිටා තිබුනේ ගුහා අභ්යන්තරයේ පිහිටා ඇති හිරිලඹ පරිද්දෙනි. මෙහි ආසන්න වශයෙන් දුසිමකට අධික කුඩා පොකුණු ප්රමාණයක් පවතින අතර අපි ඉතා ප්රවේශමෙන් තට්ටු එකක් දෙකක් හරහා ගොස් අපට අවශ්ය හුණුගල් නිර්මාණ කිහිපයක් ඡායාරූප ගත කළෙමු. මන්ද වසර මිලියන ගණනක් පුරාවට වැඩුණු මෙම හුණුගල් පද්ධතිය කැඩීමක් සිදු නොවිය යුතු හෙයිනි. තවද බොහෝ පිරිසක් නිරතුරුව මෙම හුණුගල් තට්ටු මතින් ගමන් කිරීමේදී හා බොහෝදුරට බර රඳවාගැනීමේ ප්රමාණය ඉක්මවා ගියවිට මෙම හුණුගල් තට්ටු කැඩී යා හැක. එබැවින් නිතරම හුණුගල් මත ගමන් නොකර ඉවුරු දෙපසින් ගමන් කර එහි සුන්දරත්වය විඳීම අගනේය. ශ්රී ලංකාව සොබා දහමේ අපූරු දායාද රැසකින් හෙබි සුන්දර දිවයිනක් වන නිසාම ලෝකයේ අවධානය වැඩි වශයෙන් යොමුව තිබෙනවා. වැඩි ප්රසිද්ධියක් නොමැති වුවද සොබාදහමේ බොහෝ අපූරු දායාද දිවයිනේ සෑම ප්රදේශයකම පාහේ දැකගත හැකියි. ඉතා මනස්කාන්ත පරිසරයක පිහිටි බලංගොඩ තන්ජන්තැන්න ප්රදේශයේ පිහිටි කූරගල රක්ෂිතය මෙම අපූරු දායාදයන් රැසකින් හෙබි පරිසරයක් වනවා. ස්වභාවික හුණුගල් පොකුණ මෙම දායාදයන් අතර ප්රමුඛස්ථානයක් ගන්නවා. විශාල කුඹුක් ගසක් යට හුණුගල් පොකුණු 51කින් මෙය සමන්විත වනවා. එමෙන්ම තවත් කුඩා හුණුගල් සිය ගණනක් මෙම ස්ථානයේ පිහිටා ඇති අතර එය කිලෝමීටරයක් පමණ දිගට පිහිටා ඇති අයුරු දැකගත හැකියි. අඩි 40ක් පමණ උස හුණුගල් ඇල්ල මෙම පරිසරය තවත් හැඩ කරනවා. වර්ෂා කාලයේදී විශාල දිය දහරාවක් ඇද හැලෙන හුණුගල් ඇල්ල ඉතා මනස්කාන්ත වුවත් හුණුගල් ගුහාව සෑදී ඇත්තේ ද ඇල්ල අභ්යන්තරයේ දිගු කාලීනව හුණුගල් එක්වී මෙම ගුහාව සෑදී ඇති බවටයි විශ්වාස කෙරෙන්නේ. මෙම හුණුගල් තුළ වැටුනු විවිධ කුඩා ජලජ ශාක සේම දිය පහර මැද හුණුගල් මධ්යයේ වැඩුණු සුවිසල් ගස් දක්නට ලැබේ. විටෙක මෙහි යම් ස්ථාන නිරීක්ෂණය කළවිට මුහුදු පත්ලේ පිහිටි කොරල්පරවල ආකාරයෙන්ම ජලය යට දැකගත හැකිය. අධි කැල්සියම් සහිත මෙවැනි ස්ථානයකින් ජල ස්නානය උචිත නොවන අතර එමඟින් හුණුගල් විනාශවීම සිදුවිය හැක. කාලාන්තරයක් මුළුල්ලේ පරිසරයට උචිත ලෙස ආවරණය වූ බැවින් මෙම ඉසව්වේ සමතුලිතතාව බිඳීමකට ලක්විය හැක.
An American Pickle Movie ReviewNo Big Dill The American dream has been the subject of many films, but it has never been told like it is in "An American Pickle," a strange, charming but sometimes uneven new Seth Rogen movie debuting on HBO Max. Most of all, the movie allows Rogen another chance to tamp down his well-known and mostly successful comedic persona and continue to build on the range he has shown in movies like "Take This Waltz," "Steve Jobs" and "50/50." Rogen stars as Herschel Greenbaum. He is a laborer in eastern Europe in the early 1900s who spends his days digging ditches, often breaking his shovel in the process. He and his wife Sarah (Sarah Snook, a recent Emmy nominee for her work on HBO's Succession) travel to America to start their lives together and fulfill Herschel's dream of drinking seltzer before he dies. He gets a job in a pickle factory, where he ends up falling into a vat of brine, only to wake up 100 years later in modern day Brooklyn. Herschel returns to the world perfectly preserved without having aged a day. Herschel finds out he has one living relative, who also lives in Brooklyn. Ben (also played by Rogen) develops apps for a living and is a composite of most stereotypes you associate with those who live in Brooklyn. He helps his great grandfather navigate a whole new world and attempts to start his own pickle business. "An American Pickle" hits a lot of notes we've seen before, especially as a fish-out- of-water comedy. The screenplay was written by Simon Rich, based on his short story, and it does have heartfelt moments about family, heritage, and immigration. The movie strikes a balance between the outsider storyline and the topical issues it presents, but occasionally plays like a checklist of current hot topics, including cancel culture. It becomes a bit less interesting when the plot dips in that direction. Rogen really is strong here, delivering juxtaposed performances in the dual roles without feeling too gimmicky. He continues his tradition of working with previous collaborators; in this case it's cinematographer Brandon Trost, making his feature directorial debut. Trost previously shot "The Disaster Artist," "Neighbors," and "The Interview," among others in-and-out of Rogen's filmography. "An American Pickle" is shot by John Guleserian, and he and Trost really give the movie a textured look that works to distinguish between the film's two settings. The ideas are in place for "An American Pickle" and the movie offers plenty of offbeat pleasures, but the screenplay could have used a little more focus on the deeper topics. Still, it's always great to watch an actor continue to show that they are able to do more than what we have become used to seeing from them. "An American Pickle" premiere on HBO Max August 6.
The Swamp Movie ReviewScorn on the Bayou "Drain the swamp" has been a rallying cry of Donald Trump's since the early days of his campaign, leading to his election in 2016. The parameters of what the swamp entailed never seemed too defined; to the point where Trump himself probably couldn't even tell you what he meant. Get rid of career politicians? Make room for the businessman outsider? Perhaps. In "The Swamp," directors Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme, who previously directed the political documentary "Get Me Roger Stone," try to define that swamp. The result is an interesting, if scattershot and frustratingly unfocused, new HBO documentary special. The movie follows three Republican congressmen: Ken Buck of Colorado, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Gaetz of Florida. Talking heads from Buck and Massie appear throughout the documentary, but Gaetz is predominantly spotlighted from the beginning. The movie opens with Gaetz waking up and getting ready for a day in Washington. He has a tiny room in his office, which used to be a work closet for the previous congressman, where he has a bed and bathroom so he can wake up and get right to work. From the outset, it's clear that "The Swamp" is most interested in what Gaetz has to say. That is the inherent flaw of the documentary, which has some fascinating talking points. Focusing on Gaetz's political fame is nowhere near as interesting as defining the swamp and how politicians walk the fine line of fundraising in light of the guidelines imposed upon them by their party. That's the meat of "The Swamp," which covers a lot of topics, from the staunch defense of Trump to genuine moments of bipartisanship between Gaetz and Democratic congressmen Ro Khanna. Gaetz and Khanna worked together on the National Defense Authorization Act, which allocates money for the United States Department of Defense. "The Swamp" derails itself when it gives Gaetz a podium to bloviate and showboat for the camera. The documentary feels intended to spotlight his role in Washington, but showing his bigger interest in elevating his political celebrity distracts from the substantive topics in the movie. On more than one occasion, Gaetz proudly takes out his phone and dials Trump (saved as "POTUS" in his contacts) and they exchange flattering compliments with each other. No accomplishment brings a Cheshire grin to Gaetz's face like hanging up from a praising phone call with Trump. A lot of people whose politics don't align with Gaetz, Buck, or Massie's will not be interested in watching a two-hour documentary where they staunchly defend the divisive president. It's a fair stance to take. Even while spotlighting three Republican congressmen, the movie doesn't shy away from showing the hypocrisy in their motives and those chants to drain the swamp. It goes to show you that substance doesn't always matter when you choose to blindly follow the king. "The Swamp" debut on HBO August 4 at 9 p.m.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport PreviewLIKES Smart echoes of the past Strong turbo-4 power Off-road potential Hybrid to come Good-looking—and a good value DISLIKES Light on towing capacity More Bronco II than Sport? BUYING TIP The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport goes on sale late in 2020. The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport carves out a new all-terrain niche for one of the most beloved off-road names in auto history. The Ford Bronco Sport brings a sterling off-road name to a car-like crossover based on the latest Ford Escape. With the Bronco Sport, Ford wraps classic SUV design cues around a vehicle available with a choice between a turbo-3 and a turbo-4 engine paired to standard all-wheel drive. It's new for the 2021 model year. Rivals include the Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Compass, as well as Ford's own Bronco, which has been revived for the 2021 model year and spun off the Ranger pickup truck architecture. The Bronco Sport's style clearly derives from the classic '60s Bronco, with some nods to Ford's former Land Rover brand. It's crisply folded, with big round headlights, flat door panels, tall windows, and a roofline that steps up to create a little more room behind the front seats. Unlike the bigger Bronco, it doesn't wear a spare tire on its tailgate—but like the first-generation Ford Escape, it does get flip-up glass in the tailgate for easier loading. The interior adopts a big touchscreen for infotainment, and wears themed colors according to the model—suede and leather on the Outer Banks, for example. For performance, the Bronco Sport latches on to Ford's latest inline engine family. Base versions get a 1.5-liter turbo-3 with an estimated 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque, coupled to an 8-speed automatic. Uprated versions get a 2.0-liter turbo-4 with 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, teamed to the same 8-speed. Four-cylinder Bronco Sports also get paddle shifters and a transmission cooler. Tow capacity maxes out at 2,200 pounds. A standard all-wheel-drive system splits power front to rear to adjust for traction needs, but the Badlands and First Edition versions get an advanced version—a twin-clutch rear differential can divert power from side to side across the rear axle for more precise power control, and to simulate a mechanical locking differential. It's coupled to a terrain-management system that modulates power and wheel slip for specific modes—Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand on most Bronco Sports, and on the Badlands and First Edition, additional Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes. Ford also offers the Bronco Sport with a special adaptive cruise control that allows the vehicle to crawl at trail speeds (up to 20 mph) while the driver navigates obstacles. It can be paired with a front off-road camera that gives the driver a view of the obstacles at tire level. The Bronco Sport can ford up to 23.6 inches of water on top models. The suspension's MacPherson struts in front, and independent multi-link in the rear, and the Bronco Sport adopts 17- or 18-inch wheels depending on the model. The top trims get retuned struts and monotube rear shocks as well as softer springs and anti-roll bars for better off-road behavior. With seating for five, the Ford Bronco Sport has some touches that tip its hat toward the off-road crowd, including LED floodlights, Molle straps stitched on the front seatbacks, washable rubberized flooring, and a built-in bottle opener in the tailgate. It promises to hold a pair of 27.5-inch-wheel bikes upright (with the front wheels removed), though cargo space hasn't been quoted yet. Ford will sell more than 100 accessories to outfit the Bronco Sport to the driver's spec—and some will include a cargo shelf that slides in a track, and appears to function like a mobile standing desk. The Bronco Sport comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with infotainment that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Automatic emergency braking is standard, along with blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Safety options include adaptive cruise control. Ford offers the Bronco Sport in five different versions: a base edition, a Big Bend model, the Outer Banks, the Badlands, and a limited First Edition. The Bronco Sport will be priced from just below $30,000, and arrives in showrooms late in 2020.
Vivo X50 Pro ReviewThe X50 Pro marks the start of Vivo's big push into the global market Should I buy the Vivo X50 Pro? Pros Gimbal camera works Super slim Great display Cons Frustrating software Night mode disappoints Import only Our Verdict The Vivo X50 Pro's chief selling point is its built-in camera gimbal, but this would be a competitive mid-range phone even without it. Price when reviewed From CNY4,298 (about $600) Vivo X50 Pro full review Vivo is probably the biggest phone brand you’ve never heard of. China’s second biggest phone brand - behind only Huawei - hasn’t made its big international push yet. But it’s coming, and the X50 Pro is part of the first wave. The X50 and the X50 Pro are the first phones in Vivo’s upper-mid-range X series to get an international launch - though the top-end X50 Pro+ is staying in China for the time being. The X50 is a pretty standard mid-range device, but the X50 Pro is a little more special, boasting the world’s first built-in gimbal stabilisation for a phone camera - a potential game changer for both video and night-time photography. Camera OK, first off: yes, I know you’re not meant to shake Polaroids, don’t @ me. But more importantly: you can shake the Vivo X50 Pro. The Pro (and the China-only Pro+) are the first retail phones to feature the smartphone gimbal tech that Vivo first showed off in its Apex 2020 concept phone earlier this year. If you don’t know, a gimbal is a stabiliser that essentially mounts the camera so that it floatsm and moves it in the opposite direction to any exterior movement - such as shaky hands - to keep the image itself stable. They’re usually big bulky bits of kit used in professional filming setups, but over the last few years they’ve shrunk small enough to be used to mount smartphones, as in the DJI Osmo Mobile series, and now Vivo has squeezed one into a phone itself. To be clear, the gimbal tech is only built into the 48Mp main lens, but that makes sense - that’s the one you’ll most often use for filming video or taking the long-exposure night time shots where it helps. It offers dual-axis stabilisation, but is paired with three-axis electronic stabilisation to amplify the effect. For video, the effect is immediately obvious. Whether it’s trying to hold a steady single-shot, or filming something inherently shaking like shooting while walking, the X50 Pro smooths out the worst of camera shake. There’s a slight stickiness every time you pan, as the gimbal at first tries to compensate for the movement, but beyond that there’s very little downside here, and quite obvious upside to video quality. This will be of niche appeal to most - though I know plenty of YouTubers and vloggers who will no doubt get a kick out of it - but anyone who shoots any video, even just for Instagram Stories or TikTok, while find immediately improved results. An optional on-screen visual aid shows you when you’re moving too much for the gimbal to compensate for, and the Ultra Stable mode crops the video in further to combine the gimbal with extra electronic stabilisation. Vivo X50 Pro camera test When it comes to regular shots, that 48Mp lens produces images with bright, punchy colours and decent dynamic range. There's a little less detail than I expected, and occasional artifacting and noise that creep in, but overall this is a plenty capable shooter. There's a noticeable drop in detail when you shift to the 8Mp ultrawide, but that's to be expected, and its colour range is almost as impressive as the main camera's. The periscope zoom isn't bad either - it definitely can't match Huawei or Oppo's tech for holding detail at high zoom levels, but they're the best of the best, and this isn't bad at all. Switch to night mode or astro photography and you'll see the gimbal kick back in to steady these long and multiple exposure shots. I had high expectations here, and admit I was a bit disappointed. The gimbal is clearly doing its work in preserving detail and sharpness, but there's still plenty of noise, and the colour reproduction is clearly way off Google and Apple's, with a tendency to try and make low light shots look like they were taken in daylight. It also doesn't possess that magic ability to salvage shots taken in pitch black conditions - you'll still get pitch black back. On the selfie side, there's just one lens, offering a high 32Mp resolution but a less impressive aperture of f/2.5. That detail shines through in crisp selfies and portrait shots, but you definitely miss out on the colour range a little. All-in-all the X50 Pro's camera setup is great for steady video, and solid for everything else. This isn't the best camera around, and it's not even the best camera at this price point, but it's capable, versatile, and especially strong on video at least. Specs: Not quite Pro, but close enough The X50 Pro’s camera may impress, but the Pro moniker feels a little less applicable to the rest of the phone’s internals, which are more upper-mid-range than pro standard. At the heart of the phone is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G, a 5G-enabled chipset that won’t quite match the top-tier Snapdragon 865 (or recently announced 865+) but will hold its own. Vivo has paired the 765G with 8GB of RAM and a choice of 128GB or 256GB storage (availability may end up varying by market). The result is more than enough oomph for most people - the phone flies through day-to-day tasks. Though as you can see in our benchmarks, it does notably lag behind the 865-powered OnePlus 8 - and even the Realme X3 SuperZoom using last year’s Snapdragon 855 - in demanding CPU and GPU performance. There’s a single speaker - no stereo sound, sadly - and no headphone jack either. There is NFC at least, so contactless payments are supported, and there’s Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 5 - not the more recent Wi-Fi 6 standard. As for biometrics, you can use the single selfie camera for face unlock, though it won’t be too secure. The in-display fingerprint sensor is better, and is one of the faster, more reliable in-display sensors I’ve used yet. Speaking of that display: it’s a 6.5in curved AMOLED, with Full HD+ resolution, HDR10, and a refresh rate of 90Hz. If you don’t speak specs, that basically means it’s bright, vivid, and smooth, though won’t be quite as crisp or smooth as the QHD and 120Hz displays on some flagships this year. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference anyway though, and honestly I’ve found this screen a consistent joy to use. Finally, battery life. With a 4,315mAh cell the X50 Pro pretty comfortably lasts a full day’s use, even with the always-on display turned on, and should last longer without it. 33W fast charging isn’t the best around on paper, but in my tests it averaged 62% charge in half an hour - up on Vivo’s own 57% claim, and fast enough to satisfy even the most ardent speed freaks. Note that there’s no wireless charging, and also no IP rating for waterproofing. Design: X hits the spot I’ve gotta say, if there’s one thing that’s surprised me about the X50 Pro it’s how much I’ve enjoyed the design, build, and simple feel of the phone. The Pro is only available globally in a colour called Alpha Grey, an attractively muted gradient. It’s finished in matte frosted glass, which looks great and feels simultaneously smooth and grippy - you don’t worry that it’s gonna slide right out of your hand, but it doesn’t sacrifice any of its slick, premium feel to get there. It helps that with a 6.5in screen it’s a big phone, but not uncomfortably so. The curved display hits the sweet spot between comfort, style, and practicality, and at 181g it’s reassuringly weighty without feeling heavy in the hand. The punch-hole selfie camera is unobtrusive, and I love Vivo’s introduction of a two-step rear camera module which allows the main lens to jut out from the body - a necessity given that gimbal - while keeping the periscope a little more flush, and finished in a different tone. It somehow makes the chunky camera module feel smaller than it is, a clever flourish that Samsung could learn a thing or two from. If I was allowed one small complaint, it would be the choice to emblazon the phone’s top edge with a holographic ‘5G: Professional Photography’ graphic. It’s small, it’s subtle, and you can mostly forget it’s there. But it’s still pretty dumb looking. Software: No fun And here’s the big caveat to the X50 Pro: the software. While it ships with Android 10 (good) it is covered up by Vivo’s Funtouch OS (bad). Anyone who used a Huawei, Xiaomi, or Oppo phone before those companies made their big push into the west will know that Chinese software sensibilities differ to the west’s, and Funtouch still shows it. In fairness to Vivo Funtouch is now a lot better than it was on the last Vivo device I reviewed, last year's Nex 3, but there's still work to be done. There’s a lot of customisability, but it’s frankly overwhelming at times, and there’s no clear internal logic to the layout of the settings section. The result is that it’s frequently difficult to find the settings you want to change, and that if often involves fighting past unrelated options you barely understand. It’s also curiously unrespectful of user choices. The phone ships with a selection of rotating lockscreen wallpapers. I turned these off, replacing them with one of my own photos - a process which itself took 5 minutes of playing with settings to figure out. Ever since, I get a pop-up notification once every few days asking if I want to resume the lockscreen posters and get Vivo’s “beautiful wallpapers” again. It’s not quite as egregious as Samsung’s built-in ads, but it’s not far off. Price and availability Here’s where things get a little trickier. The X50 Pro is out now in China, and Vivo has announced that it’s getting a global launch. That’s rolling out over “the coming three months,” however, and the only confirmed European countries are Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan - no mention of the UK or the rest of western Europe. It’s likely we won’t see the X50 Pro launch here officially, but at least an eastern European launch will make the phone easier to import. Pricing is also unknown for now, but the Chinese pricing of CNY4,298 (£485/$600) for the 128GB model, and CNY4,698 (£530/$660) for 256GB gives us some idea of what to expect. If the western pricing is pricing is similar, that makes the X50 Pro pretty competitive, especially since that gimbal camera offers something that for the moment you can only find in this phone. Still, for now at least buying the X50 Pro will involve importing it, so you might want to check out our ranking of the best mid-range phones you can buy in the US and UK for similar options that are a little easier to get hold of. Verdict The Vivo X50 Pro will live and die by its camera. Elsewhere, this is a decent upper-mid-range phone with solid specs, slick design, and so-so software. But if you want in-camera gimbal stabilisation for videos or low light photography, this is the only game in town. Throw in the 5x optical zoom periscope, the portrait lens, and wide-angle and it’s easy to see the appeal. Still, for many this camera oomph will be overkill, so decide carefully. If you’re unlikely to make the most of it then there are plenty of other Snapdragon 765G phones that offer similar specs for less outside of photography Specs Vivo X50 Pro: Specs Android 10 6.5in FHD+ (1080x2376) AMOLED, 90Hz, HDR10+ Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G octa-core processor 8GB RAM 128/256GB internal storage 48Mp f/1.6 main camera with gimbal stabilisation 8Mp f/2.2 ultrawide 8Mp 5x optical periscope 13Mp f/2.5 2x optical portrait 32Mp f/2.5 selfie camera Fingerprint scanner (in-screen) 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi Bluetooth 5.1 GPS NFC 5G Single/Dual-nano SIM USB-C Mono speaker 4315mAh non-removable battery 33W fast charging 159 x 73 x 8mm 182g
Skullcandy Sesh Evo True Wireless ReviewSkullcandy's Sesh Evo brings Tile tracking to true wireless earbuds. But is it worth £60/US$60? Should I buy the Skullcandy Sesh Evo True Wireless Earbuds? Pros Affordable Tile tracker integration Battery life Cons Thin sound Cheap plastic feel Fiddly controls Our Verdict These budget wireless earbuds might pride themselves on being simple, but it's at the cost of mediocre sound, build quality and basic controls. Tile tracking is the big selling point here. Price when reviewed $59.99 The Skullcandy Sesh Evo are budget wireless earphones that integrate Tile tracking – which means you can find them easily when lost. But is it worth parting with £60/US$60? We find out. Design & Build: All plastic, no frills The Sesh Evo unashamedly look budget in a basic plastic charging case. No design flourish here. At 63.5g, it’s super light, but it does feel cheap. Sesh Evo Review batter status Thankfully, if the case (or earbuds) ever break, you can them replaced at a discount from Skullcandy, as per its Fearless Use Promise. The Sesh Evo's otherwise bland case is redeemed by nifty LED lights along the front that indicate battery status. I found this particularly helpful when I didn’t want to go into my phone’s Bluetooth settings for battery information. As for the feather-light buds themselves? They offer a snug fit but could benefit with an anti-slip coating or texture, as they slipped out of my hands on a couple occasions. There is a (very welcome) silicone coating on the control buttons though. Unlike wireless earbuds that respond to tap or swipe gestures, you’ll have to physically press down on the Sesh Evo’s buttons. In my first attempt, I had to press down quite forcibly, which wasn’t very comfortable. The better way to do this is to pinch the button along the top ridge. Sesh Evo review The Sesh Evo’s controls aren’t the easiest to remember as they depend on the number of times you press (or pinch) the button. There should be a better way of doing this. Let me illustrate: One press starts and stops audio – great, you got this, says your internal monologue. Two presses raises the volume – now was that on the left ear or right ear? Ah, right ear ("right-raise, left-lower", you repeat under your breath). You try again but now you've accidentally pressed it three times. Oops. You've launched the smart voice assistant on your work-from-home laptop to which the earbuds are paired. No, Cortana can't help. But you're nearly there. You keep pressing ahead (pun intended). Four presses and you're in the sound modes: Movie, Podcast and Music. But, now you'll have to press the earbuds four times each time you want to change the mode. Oh yeah, you can't go backwards. You’ll just have to sit there pinching away at your ear. Thankfully you're not out on a jog. You do get IP55 water, sweat and dust resistance when you are though, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Features Tile tracker connectivity The most attractive benefit of the Sesh Evo is that it integrates with Tile trackers – those Bluetooth squares that help forgetful folks (like myself) quickly locate tagged items, like house keys or a wallet. I was excited to try this feature via the Tile tracking app, but the pairing process wasn't very straightforward – though this is more of a criticism of the Tile app. When you pair the Sesh Evo earbuds via the Tile app for the first time, unclear pairing instructions suggests you need a separate "Tile device" to register each earbud in the first place. You don't. You may need to make a few attempts before the app recognised the Sesh Evo. When finally paired, you'll hear a whistling sound from each Sesh Evo earbud (you can choose which bud should chime). Though not incredibly loud, the whistle is sharp, so you're likely to notice it if you've lost the earbuds inside the house or in your car. The Tile tracker app will show you whether you're moving closer to the earbuds as well as its location history. Just be sure the earbuds are charged in the first place as it won't work if they're dead, of course. Sesh Evo Screenshots Sound Quality: Stuck in the middle (range) Yes, the Sesh Evo are affordable earbuds, but this is more than apparent in the perfectly mediocre audio quality. The sound profile and tuning leans towards the treble and mid-range, which is tinny at times and they lack the warmth of rich bass. Instead, the Sesh Evo stretches the mid-range towards the lower end. This means R&B, hip-hop, and other bass-heavy genres won’t sound very satisfying. You can get away with mid-heavy rock or pop though. In comparison, you will find a stronger bass in the slightly more expensive noise-cancelling Amazfit PowerBuds (£99/US$99). Sesh Evo review earbuds Both the PowerBuds and the Sesh Evo share the standard frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz, but the Sesh Evo have smaller 6mm drivers, compared against the PowerBuds' 9mm. The standard range is usually 8mm to 15mm for earbuds, which may explain why the Sesh Evo sounds thinner to some extent. The Sesh Evo would truly benefit from in-app equalization (especially because Skullcandy has an app for its other products!). I would prefer this over cycling through three restrictive presets. It’s also very difficult to hear the difference between the Movie, Podcast and Music modes. The Sesh Evo caters to the casual listener who isn’t particularly focused on high fidelity but wants an ambient soundtrack – whether that's music or the news. Connectivity One of the strongest features of the Sesh Evo is how easily they connect to your device. If you’ve already paired them with your phone or laptop, you just have to take the earphone out of the case and they connect within seconds. If they're out of the case already, just press the control buttons for a couple seconds and they should pair to the last connected device right away. This feature is incredibly helpful if you don’t have the charging case nearby. The Amazfit PowerBuds, in comparison, need to be inside the case to pair. While the Sesh Evo offer Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, I couldn’t pair them with two devices at once like I could with the Sennheiser HD 450BT. Battery Life The Sesh Evo excel when it comes to battery life. While the earphones carry five hours of juice on their own, you can add another 19 hours of life from the case, which charges via USB-C (cable included). Again, LED indicators on the case also give you a quick reading of how much charge remains. Sesh Evo review charging I could easily get over a week of use with minimal charging. If you use the Sesh Evo occasionally (say 2-3 times a week), you’re likely to get away with weeks of use as the case maintains charge while on standby. Price & Availability The Sesh Evo are available in Bleached Blue, Pure Mint and True Black directly from Skullcandy, for £59.99/$59.99. They’re also available on Amazon US from $54.27. Skullcandy undoubtedly priced the Sesh Evo competitively, but you can find cheaper options with superior sound in our round up of the best budget wireless earbuds. Verdict “Perfectly Simple” is right, as Sesh Evo’s motto goes. Without noise-cancellation or customisable sound equalization, the Sesh Evo are almost as simple as you can get. The middling sound quality make them hard to wholeheartedly recommend when competing budget earbuds offer a more satisfying audio experience – though perhaps at a slightly higher price. Yet equally, if you need something cheap and cheerful, perhaps to keep kids entertained on a road trip, these might just do the trick. Tile tracking is the big selling point if you're prone to losing earphones and a two year warranty is more peace of mind. Specs Skullcandy Sesh Evo True Wireless Earbuds: Specs Drivers: 6mm Frequency range: 20Hz – 20kHz Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 Ports: USB-C Features: Microphones Battery: 5 hours on earbuds,19 hours with charging case Weight: 63.5g with case Water and dust resistance: IP55 (on Earbuds)
දෝතළුගල කන්දේ අප්රකට කතාව (The Obscure Story Of Dotalugala Mountain)දුමෙන් වැහුණු දුම්බර මිටියාවතේ ඔබ මොබ සැරිසරන්නට වගේම අසිරි සරිය විඳ ගන්නට දින කිහිපයකින් නම් කළ නොහැකිය. මන්ද හෙක්ටයාර ගණනාවකින් පිරුණු මෙම වන ලැහැබ තුළ කඳු හෙල්, දිය ඇළි ගංගා, උමං වගේම පතන, තැනිතලා ගණනාවක් පිරී ඇති හෙයිනි. සමස්ත රක්ෂිතයෙන්ම උපදින දියවර විවිධ දිශාවලට ගලමින් අවසානයේ හෙලයේ ප්රධාන පෝෂකය වන මහවැලියට එකතු වන්නේ දුම්බරින් ලැබෙන මහ ජල කඳක් ලෙසිනි.මහනුවර දිස්ත්රික්කයේ ප්රධානතම පිවිසුම් මාර්ගය වන්නේ හුන්නස්ගරිය හරහා වැටී ඇති ලූල්වත්ත මාර්ගය වන අතර එහි ඇති ඉසව් සොයා අපි මෙලෙස චාරිකාවේ යෙදුණෙමු.මහනුවර දිස්ත්රික්කයට අදාළ නිල පිවිසුම් මාර්ගය වනුයේ හුන්නස්ගිරිය හරහා ඇති පිවිසුමයි. එහ හුන්නස්රිගියේ සිට නවනගල ග්රාමය හා ලූල්වත්ත ග්රාමය හරහා ගමන් කරමින් අට්ටාලමාට්ටුව නොහොත් කොබෙට් කපොල්ල වෙත ළඟා වී මීමුරේ දක්වා ගමන් කරයි.මෙම මාර්ගය ආරම්භයේ වන සංරක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව විසින් පිහිට වූ නිල කාර්යාලයක් පවතින අතර එමගින් දිගන පිහිටි දිස්ත්රික්ක කාර්යාල හා සම්බන්ධ වෙමින් රක්ෂිතයේ පරිපාලන සිදු කරනු ලබයි. හුන්නස්ගිරිය පිවිසුමේ සිට ගමන් ගන්නා විට හමු වන පළමු ග්රාමය වන්නේ නාවනගලයි. නවංගල හා නාවනගල ලෙස හැඳින්වෙන මෙම ග්රාමය මීමුරේ දක්වා ගමන් කරන විට හමුවන ප්රථම ගම්මානය වන අතර එය තේ වතු අතරින් ඇති වුණු ඉතා සුන්දර මාර්ගයකි. මීටර් 1488ක් පමණ උස නාවනගල/ නවංගල යනු දුම්බර රක්ෂිතයේ හමු වන ප්රථම කන්ද වන එය පිහිටියේ නාවනගල ගම්මානය පිටුපසය. මෙම කන්ද හා බැඳුණු ජනප්රවාද කිහිපයක් ඇති මුත් මෙහි ඇති ප්රධානතම කරුණ නම් හොර රහසේ ගෙන ගිය දන්ත ධාතුව මෙම කඳු මුදුණේ එක්තරා කාලයක් සඟවාගෙන සිටි වගයි. මෙම කන්ද නවංගල ලෙස ද හඳුන්වන අතර එය කන්ද කැඩී ඇති ලෙස දැක්වෙන අර්ථය ගෙන එනු ලබයි. නාවනගල කන්ද ඉදිරියෙන් හුන්නස්ගිරිය හා මැදමහනුවර නගර අතර පිහිටි රජ්ගල කන්ද පිහිටා ඇති අතර නුවර සිට මහියංගණය මාර්ගයේ පල්ලම් බහින විට මොල්ලි යුගලයක් ලෙස මෙම කඳු යුගලය දැක ගත හැකිය. නවංගල කන්ද තරණය කළ හැකි පහසුම මාර්ගය වනුයේ නාවනගල ගම්මානය පිටුපස වනරොද හරහා ගමන් කිරීමෙනි. කන්ද මුදුණේ Erskine නම් සුදු ජාතික මිනින්දෝරු මහතා විසින් මැනීම් කටයුතු සිදු කළ බවට සලකුණු කර ඇති අතර ඒ බව කඳු මුදුනේ පිහිටි ගලක් මත සලකුණු කර ඇති බව අපට දක්නට ලැබුණි. නාවනගල හා ඒ අවට අතීතයේ පටන් ගම් වැසියන් හා හියාරේ වතු යාය ආශ්රිත ගම්මානවල බහුල වශයෙන් තේ වගාව පැවතුණු අතර ඊට නොදෙවෙනි ලෙස එනසාල් වගාව ද පැවතුණි. තේ වගාව කොතරම් තිබුණ ද කිවහොත් එම ප්රදේශවල හෙල්වල ඉතා බහුල ලෙස තේ වගාව සිදු කෙරුණි. මේ වන විට තේ වගාව තරමක්දුරට විශාල ලෙස නොතිබුණ ද අතීතයේ ඉතා විශාල ගබඩා සහ තේ දලු එකතු කිරීමේ මධ්යස්ථාන සමග විශාල ප්රමාණයෙන් වගාව පැවතුණි. එහි සමහර නටබුන් අපට පවා දක්නට ලැබුණු අතර තවමත් අතීත ගොඩනැගිලිවල නටඹුන් යම් යම් ස්ථානවල අපට දැක ගත හැකි විය.හුනස්ගිරියේ සිට කි.මී. කිහිපයක් පැමිණි විට හමුවන නාවනගල ගම්මානය පසු කර ඉදිරියට ඇදෙන්නට වූ අතර පටු මාර්ගය දිගේ ගමන් කිරීම තරමක් දුෂ්කර විය. මන්ද එක් පසෙකින් දැවැන්ත ප්රපාතයක් ද අනෙක් පසින් වළවල් පිරුණු අබලන් තාර මාර්ගයක් ද වූයේ පටු ආනතියකය. හිරු නැගෙන විට පරිසරය වසාගෙන සිටින මීදුම් රොද එහා මෙහා ගමන් කරන්නට වූයෙන් අපට අවට පිහිටි කඳු දැක ගත හැකි විය. ඉන්පසු අප තවත් කි.මී. 2 ක් පමණ දිරියට ගමන් කරන විට අපි වන පියස වෙත ළඟා වුණෙමු. ගම්මානය නිමා කළ පසු වන රක්ෂිතය ආරම්භ වූ අතර මිනිස් වාසයෙන් මිදී මාර්ගය දෙපසින්ම වනපෙත පිහිටි ඉසව්වට අපි ළඟා වුණෙමු. වන රක්ෂිතය තරමක නිසොල්මන් බවක් පෙන්නුව ද අතරින් පතර රැහැයියන්ගේ නාදයත් සියොතුන්ගේ නාදයත් අපට ඇසෙන්නට විය. කෙසේ හෝ හෝරා කිහිපයක් ගත වන විට අපි වන සංරක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ ඩීන්ස්ටන් කාර්යාලය වෙත ළඟා වුණෙමු. ඩීන්ස්ටන් කාර්යාලය පිහිටවා ඇත්තේ ඩීන්ස්ටන් කුඩා ලෝකාන්තය පිහිටි කඳු වැටිය අසලය. මාර්ගයේ දකුණු පසින් පිහිටි මෙම කාර්යාලය මගින් රක්ෂිතයට ඇතුළු වීම සඳහා ප්රවේශ පත්ර නිකුත් කිරීම, පාරිසරික දැනුම්වත් කිරීම් සහ වන සංරක්ෂණ නිල කාර්යාල කටයුතු සිදු කරනු ලබයි. මෙම පිවිසුම නකල්ස් රක්ෂිතයේ ප්රධානතම පිවිසුමක් වන අතර සාමාන්යයෙන් මේ හරහා රක්ෂිතයට ඇතුළුවීමට පෙර වලංගු ප්රවේශ පත්රයක් රැගෙන යා යුතු වේ. සංචාරක ආරක්ෂක හේතු මෙන්ම මෙම කොටසේ නිල වශයෙන් සංචාරක මාර්ග යුගළයක් පවතින අතර ඒවා දෙස් විදෙස් සංචාරකයින්ට ඇතුළු විය හැකිය. මෙහි පවතින ප්රධානතම සංචරණ මාර්ග යුගලය වනුයේ ඩීන්ස්ටන් පුංචි ලෝකාන්තය මාර්ගය සහ දෝතළුගල ස්වභාවික සංචරණ මාර්ගයයි. මෙම මාර්ග යුගලයම එක් දිනක් තුළ ගමන් කර සිරි දැකිය හැකි අතර ඒ සඳහා එක් වලංගු ප්රවේශ පත්රයක් පමණක් සෑහේ. අප ප්රථමයෙන් ළඟා වූයේ ඩීන්ස්ටන් කුඩා ලෝකාන්තය නැරඹීමටය. එය කි.මී. 2 ක පමණ සම්මත සංචරණ මාර්ගයකින් හෙබි වෘත්තාකාර මාර්ගයකි. ඩීන්ස්ටන් කුඩා ලෝකාන්තය යනු නකල්ස් රක්ෂිතයේ පිහිටි ප්රධානතම නැරඹුම් ස්ථානයකි. මෙය මහනුවර දිස්ත්රික්කයේ පිහිටි වැඩිම සංචාරක ආකර්ෂණයක් සහිත දුම්බර වනපෙතේ ස්ථානයක් වන අතර අනෙක් පසින් මාතලේ දිස්ත්රික්කය තුළ ද මෙවැනිම කුඩා ලෝකාන්තයක් පිහිටුවා ඇත. එය පිටවල පතන කුඩා ලෝකාන්තය වන අතර එය පිටවල පතන මතින් වැටී තිබෙන එම මාර්ගයේ ඇති ප්රසිද්ධම සංචාරක ඉසව්ව වේ. ඩීන්ස්ටන් කුඩා ලෝකාන්තය පිහිටා ඇත්තේ විශාල පයිනස් කැලයක් තුළය. එය පිහිටුවා ඇත්තේ කඳු මුඳුනේ කෙළවරකයි. ඩීන්ස්ටන් කාර්යාලයේ සිට කි.මී. දෙකක් පමණ වළලාකාර මඟ ඔස්සේ ගමන් කළ පසු ප්රධාන නැරඹුම් ස්ථානය පවතින අතර එය පිහිටි ස්ථානය මතින් කඳු වැටිය නිමාවට පත් වේ. ඉන්පසු ඇත්තේ අති විශාල ප්රපාතයක් වන අතර ඉන් පහළ පිහිටියේ දෙහිගොල්ල, කළුගල, ගැරඬිගල හා තලගුණේ ආදී දුම්බර සම්ප්රදායික ගම්මාන වේ. ඩීන්ස්ටන් වෙත අපි ළඟා වූ පසු අපි දුටුවේ අංශක තුන්සියයකට ආසන්න වූ හිස් අවකාශ පරිශ්රයකි. ඒ මත දී අප කෝබෝනීලගල, දුම්බානා ගල, අලුගල් කන්ද, නකල්ස් කඳුවැටිය, ගැරැඬිගල, කෙහෙල්පොත්දෝරුවේගල, යහන්ගල, තෙලඹුගල ආදී කඳු සේම අනෙක් පසින් රජගල නාවනගල, හැටකටුවේගල, බැලුන්ගල, කොස්ගොල්ල කඳුවැටිය, අලියා කොටගල, රන්දෙණිගල කඳු වැටිය සහ දහඅට වංගුව ආදී කඳු වැටී මෙහි දක්නට ලැබේ. එසේම පීත්ත පටියක් විලසට අපට මහියංගණය හරහා දෙහිඅත්තකණ්ඩිය දෙසට ගමන් කරන මහවැලි ගංගාව දක්නට ලැබුණි. එය පීත්ත පිටියක් ලෙස හරි අපූරුවට නැගෙනහිර දෙසින් අපට දැක ගත හැකි වූයේ සොරාබොර වැව ද සමගිනි. පහළින් අපට ඇල්ල ගල ඇල්ල සහ බල්ලහිර කන්ද දැක ගත හැකි වූ අතර ලියැදි කපා සරු සාර වූ ගොයම ද දක්නට ලැබුණි. මීදුම් කෝඩයක් නකල්ස් කඳු ශිඛර කරා ඇදෙන්නට වූයෙන් අපගේ ගමන නිමා කළ වෘත්තාකාර මාර්ගයේ අනෙක් පසින් අපි වන සංරක්ෂණ කාර්යාලය දෙසට ගමන් කළෙමු. මෙම සංචාරක මාර්ගය ඉතාමත්ව අලංකාර ලෙස පරිසරයේ අලංකාරයට හානි නොවන ලෙසින් තනා ඇති අතර මඩ වගුරු දිය කඩිති සේම ස්වභාවික මං හෝ හා දැන්වීම් පුවරු මගින් සොබා දහම විඳින්නට ඇවැසි දැනුම ලබා දෙන තෝතැන්නකි. හෝරාවකින් පමණ වන කාර්යාලය වෙත ළඟා වූ අපි මීළඟට සූදානම් වූයේ දෝතළුගල කන්ද වටා පිහිටි සංචරණ මාර්ගයේ ගමන් කිරීමටය. ඒ සඳහා අපි විවර කිහිපයක් මුල්වත්ත දෙසට ගමන් කරන විට මාර්ගයේ වම් පසින් පිහිටි සංචාරක ජීප් රථවලට යා හැකි ගේට්ටුවකින් වසා ඇති මාර්ගයකට ඇතුළු වුණෙමු.දෝතළුගල වනාහි නකල්ස් වනයෙහි ඇති සුවිශේෂී සංචරණ මාර්ගයකි. මෙය පාරිසරික නැරඹුම් ඉසව්වක් වන අතර මෙම මාර්ගය තනා ඇත්තේ කඳු වැටියේ පිහිටි සුවිශේෂී ශාක හා ජෛව විවිධත්වය අධ්යයනය කරන්නට හා පරිසරය රස විඳින්නන් වෙනුවෙන්මය. ප්රධාන මාර්ගයේ පිවිසුමේ සිට කි.මී. 4ක් පමණ අවසර සහිතව සංචාරක ජීප් රියක හෝ ඇවිද යා හැකිය. මෙම සමස්ත මාර්ගයම ස්වභාවික වන පියස තුළට නිම වූවක් හෙයින් මඟ දිගට කූඩලි ප්රහාර, දිය කඩිති ලිස්සන සුළු ස්ථාන දැක ගත හැකිය. වංගු ගැසී වන රොදට ගමන් කරන මෙම මාර්ගය එක්තරා ස්ථානයකින් අවසන් වේ. එනම් දෝතළුගල කඳවුරු භූමිය හා බංගලාව පිහිටි ස්ථානයකින් අවසන්වේ. එනම් දෝතළුගල කඳවුරු භූමිය හා බංගලාව පිහිටි ස්ථානයයි නකල්ස් හි අවසර සහිතව කඳවුරු බැඳ සිටිය හැකි එකම ස්ථානය වනුයේ මෙම දෝතලුගල වෙන් කරන ලද කඳවුරු භුමිය වන අතර ඒ සඳහා බත්තරමුල්ලේ පිහිටි වන සංරක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවට නිල අවසර ලබා ගත යුතුය. මේ වන විට මෙම කඳවුරු භූමිය එතරම්ම ක්රියාකරී මට්ටමේ නොපවතින අතර කුඩාරම් අටවා කණ්ඩායම් දෙකකට සිටිය හැකි ලෙස කොන්ක්රීට් කරන ලද නිශ්චිත බිම් කඩක් ඉතා සුන්දර නැරඹුම් ඉසව්වක තනවා ඇත. ඊට අමතරව මීට නුදුරින් ගොඩනැගිල්ලක් පවතින අතර එය ද සංචාරකයින් හට වෙන් කරවා ගෙන රැය පහන් කළ හැකිය. එම ගොඩනැගිල්ල පවා මුළුමනින්ම කුඩා වැල් වර්ගයකින් වැසී පවතින අතර අපි යන විටත් එය බොහෝ කලකින් විවෘත නොකරන ලද්දක් බව දුටුවෙමු. මෙම ස්ථානයේම කුඩා දිය ඇල්ලක් පවතින අත් පානීය හා ස්නානය සඳහා ජල අවශ්යතාවය ඔබට එමගින් සපුරා ගත හැකිය.මෙම කඳවුරු භූමියට වනතුරු සංචාරක ජීප් රථයකට යා හැකි මට්ටමේ කඳු මාර්ගය මෙතැනින් නිමා වේ. නමුත් මෙතැන් සිට දෝතලුගල පාරිසරික සංවරණ මාර්ගය පටන් ගත්තේ අඩි මාර්ගයක් ලෙසිනි. එය ද ඩීන්ස්ටන් මෙන් වලයාකාර මාර්ගයක් වන අතර දෙපසින් කෙසේ ගමන් කළත් මාර්ගය අවසානය පටන් ගත් ස්ථානයකට ළඟා වන හෙයින් අපහසුවක් නොමැත. වැසි දින වල දී මෙහි ගමන් කිරීම බොහෝ වෙහෙස කර හා දුෂ්කර වන්නේ තෙත බරිත වන පියස කූඩැල්ලන් තම ග්රහණයට නතු කර ගෙන ඇති හෙයිනි.කෙසේ හෝ අප දකුණු පසින් ගමන් ගන්නා මාර්ගයට පිවිස ගමන ඉදිරියට සම්බන්ධ වූයේ දෝතලුගල කඳු වැටියේ අසිරිය දැකීමටයි. අතීතියේ පවා මෙම ඉසව්ව එනසාල් වලින් තොරව තිබුණ ද මීට එහායින් ලූල්වත්ත ප්රදේශයට වන්නට බොහෝ ලෙස එනසාල් වගාව පැවතුණි. කෙසේ හෝ අපි ක්රම ක්රමයෙන් මාර්ගය දිගේ ඉදිරියට ගමන් කරන්නට වූයේ අවට පරිසරය විඳිමිනි.දෝතළුගල කන්ද මීටර් 1500 කට වඩා උස වන අතර සම්මත සංචරණ මාර්ගය කඳු මුදුනට මඳක් පහළින් වන පියස හරහා දිවයයි.. ස්වභාවික මංපෙත බොහෝවිට ගස් අතු පඳුරු ආදියෙන් වැහෙන නමුත් මඟ සොයා ගැනීම අපහසු නොවෙයි. අප කි.මී. 2ක් පමණ ගියපසු කන්දේ උස් ස්ථානයකට ළඟා වූ බව දැනගත් පසුව නැවත ඉදිරියට ගොස් බසින්නට විය. මෙම වන පෙත තුළ බොහෝ ශාක වර්ග මල් වර්ග කෘමීන් සහ සියොතුන් ද දැක ගත හැකිය. පාරිසරික චමත්කාරය නැරඹීම සහ අධ්යයනය කිරීම වෙනුවෙන්ම නිර්මාණය වූ මෙම මං පෙත නකල්ස් හි හදවත බඳුය.මෙම ප්රදේශය තුළ අතීතියේ පවා එතරම් එනසාල් වගාව නොතිබුණ ද මිට මඳක් නුදුරින් පිහිටි ලූල්වත්ත සහ දෙහිගොල්ල ග්රාමයන්හි එනසාල් වගාව බහුලව පැවත ඇත. අදටත් ඇතැම් වැසියන් තම අත්දැකීම් බෙදා ගන්නේ බොහෝ දුක්බරව. මන්ද එනසාල් වගාව ඔවුන්ට සරු ආදායම් මාර්ගයක් වූ හෙයිනි. අතහැර දැමූ එනසාල් වාඩියක නටබුන් අප ලූල්වත්ත ප්රදේශයේ වනය තුළ දැක ගත් අතර ගණ කැලය මැදින් යායුතුව තිබූ එම ස්ථානය තරමක් දුෂ්කර විය. ගෝනා සහ මීමින්නා වගේම වල් පඳුරත් එම ඉසව්වල ගැවසුණු වගට සාක්ෂි අප දුටු අතර එම නිසාම අප විගසින් අපගේ කාර්යය නිම කර නැවත පැමිණියෙමු.සංචාරයකට සුදුසු නකල්ස් වන පෙත යනු ලෝක උරුමයයි. දෙස් විදෙස් සංචාරකයින්ට වගේම පරිසරවේදීන්ට කදිම ඉසව්වක් වන මෙම රක්ෂිතය රැක ගැනීම අපගේ යුතුකමකි. මෙම පරිසරය තුළ පවතින ප්රබල ජෛව විවිධත්වය සහ ශාක ඝනත්වය හේතුවෙන් මෙම රක්ෂිතය වර්තමානය වන විට දැඩි ආරක්ෂිත රක්ෂිතයක් ලෙස නම් කර ඇත. එනසාල් වගාව හේතුවෙන් මෙම රක්ෂිතයේ තිබූ අනාරක්ෂිත බවට විසඳුම් ලබා දී නකල්ස් ප්රේරණ කලාපය තුළ ගම්වැසියන් පදිංචි කර ඇත. කෙසේ හෝ එක් දිනක් සාර්ථක ගමනකින් පසු අපට නකල්ස් රක්ෂිතයේ සම්මත සංවරණ මාර්ග යුගලයක් වන ඩීන්ස්ටන් පුංචි ලෝකාන්තයත් දෝතලුගල ස්වාභාවික සංචරණ මාර්ගයක් ආවරණය කළෙමු. නවංගල කඳු මුදුන සේම රජගල කන්දන් තවත් පසෙකින් පිහිටි මහා ප්රපාතයක් දුම්බර මිටියාවතට එක් කරන අපූර්වත්වය අතිශය සුන්දරය. දුහුල් වලාකුළු මීදුම් රොද සමගින් එහෙ මෙහෙ ගමන් කරමින් දුම්බානාගල සහ අලියා වැටුණු ඇළ ආදී කඳු ශිඛර ආවරණය කරමින් දවසේ විරාමය අපට පනවන ලදී. එහෙයින් නැවත වරක් දුම්බර මිටියාවතට පිවිස පංච මහා කඳු වැටිය වන නකල්ස් හි අරුත කැන්දන නකල්ස් කඳු වැටිය සොයා පිය නගන්නට අපි සිතුවෙමු.
හනුමාගේ ජනප්රවාද බැදි රම්බොඩ ඇල්ල ☘️🥀 (Ramboda Falls, The Legend Of Hanuma)රම්බොඩ කියන ගමේ නම ප්රසිද්ධ වුණෙත් මේ ඇල්ල නිසා. ඉස්සර මේකට පූනා ඇල්ල කියලත් කිව්වාලු. රම්බොඩ මේ ඇල්ල ඇරැනම තියෙන අනිත් වැදගත්ම දේ තමයි රම්බොඩ උමඟ. මහනුවර ඉඳලා නුවරඑළියට යන ප්රධාන මාර්ගයේ අතරමග රම්බොඩ උමඟ පහුවෙනවාත් එක්කම තමයි රම්බොඬ ඇල්ල තියෙන්නේ. ඇල්ලේ උඩ රම්බොඩ ඇල්ල හා පහළ රම්බොඩ ඇල්ල කියලා කොටස් දෙකක් තියෙනවා. නුවරඑළිය පාරේ ඉඳන් බලද්දී ඔයාලා දකින්නේ දිය ඇල්ලේ මැද සහ යට කොටස විතරයි. මේ දෙකටම වැඩිය ලස්සන උඩ කොටස බලන්න නම් දිය ඇල්ල ළගින් උඩට නගින්න තියන අඩි පාරේ මීටර් 750ක් වගේ යන්න ඕනි. දෙකම බලන්න ප්රධාන මාර්ගයේ ඉඳලා පොඩි දුරක් උඩට හා පහළට යන්න ඕනෑ. උඩට යන්න තියෙන පාර පඩිපෙළවල් දාලා හදලා තියෙන්නේ. හැබැයි දැන් නම් පොඩ්ඩක් වල්වැදිලා. ඒ වුණාට ඒකත් ලස්සනයි. මේ සමහර ෆොටෝ තියෙන්නේ ඒ යන පාරේ. උඩරම්බොඩ ඇල්ල බලන්න පඩිපෙළ දිගේ ඉහළටම නැග්ගාට පස්සේ නැරඹුම් අට්ටාලයක් හදලා තියෙනවා. නැරඹුම් අට්ටාලයට ගිහිල්ලා බලන්නත් පුළුවන්. ඒ වගේම අට්ටාලයට යටින් ඇල්ල පාමුලට ගිහිල්ලා ඇල්ල බලන්නත් පුළුවන්. ඇල්ල පාමුලට ගියාට පස්සේ නම් වටේට දියඇළි විමානයක් වගේ දැනේවි. රම්බොඩ ඇල්ලට අමතරව වටේට තව කුඩා දියඇළි රුසක් කඩාගෙන වැටෙනවා. ලංකාවේ උසින් 11 වැනි ස්ථානය හිමිකර ගන්නා රම්බොඩ ඇල්ල ලෝකයේ දිය ඇලි අතුරින් 729 වැනි ස්ථානය හිමි කරගන්නවා. රම්බොඩ ඇල්ලේ පහළ කොටස බලන්න නම් රම්බොඩ ෆෝල්ස් හෝටලය මැදින් පහළට යන්න ඕන. බයනැතිව යන්න. ඒක විතරයි මේක බලන්න යන්න තියෙන පාර. හෝටල් කළමනාකාරීත්වයෙන් ලොකු ගැටලුවක් නෑ. මේ කිව්ව හෝටලයට යන පාර අසලින්ම දිවෙන්නේ රම්බොඩ උමග හදන්න කලින් නුවර - නුවරඑළිය ප්රධාන මාර්ගය ඉස්සර දැවැන්ත ගල් පර්වතයක පහළ කොටස කපලා තමයි උස වාහන වලට යන්න පාර හදලා තියෙන්නේ. ඒ මාර්ගයත්, අර කිව්ව කැපූ ගල් පර්වතයත් තවම තියෙනවා. මේ ආසන්නයේම තියෙන තවත් අපූරැ තැනක් තමයි රම්බොඩ හනුමාන් කෝවිල. ලංකාවට ආපු හනුමාන් සීතා දේවිය හොයාගෙන පැන්නේ මෙතෙන්ටලු.
ක්රීම් චීස් (Cream Cheese)ඔන්න දැන් කියන්න යන්නේ ගෙදරදීම ක්රීම් චීස් හදාගන්නේ කොමද කියලා. කරීම් චීස් අපිට ගොඩක් වෙලාවට ඕන වෙනවනේ.එහෙනම් අපි බලමු කොහොමද හදන්නේ කියලා. ගෙදරදීම ක්රීම් චීස් හදා ගන්නේ මෙහෙමයි. අවශ්ය ද්රව්ය: සම්පුර්ණ යොදය සහිත නැවුම් කිරි 1ක් දෙහි යුෂ තේ හැඳි 3ක් ලුනු කුඩු තේ හැඳි 1ක් සාදන ආකාරය: භාජනයක් ලිප තබා සාමාන්ය ගින්දරේ නැවුම් කිරි හොදින් නොනවත්වා හැඳි ගාමින් කිරි බුබුළු දමමින් නටා ගෙන එනතෙක් උණු කරගන්න. දැන් මදක් ලිප කර ගින්දර අඩුකර විනාඩියකට වරක් දෙහි යුෂ තේ හැන්ද බැගින් එකතු කරමින් නොනවත්වා හන්දිගාන්න. කිරි සම්පුර්ණයෙන්ම කැටි ගැසී, කැටි ටික උඩ පාවෙන තෙක් දිගටම නොනවත්වා හැඳි ගාගන්න. සුළු වෙලාවක් යනවිට කිරි සියල්ල කැටිගැසී කොළ පැහැ ද්රාවනයක පාවීමට පටන්ගනී. එවිට ලිප නිවාගන්න. පසුව ලොකු බෝල් එකක් උඩින් ස්ටේයින්ලස් ස්ටිල් පෙනේරයක් තබා එයට පිරිසිදු කපු රෙදි කැබැල්ලක් දමා ගෙන එයට සාදාගත් චීස් මිශ්රරණය වක්කර ගන්න. පසුව විනාඩි 15ක් පමණ වැඩි දියර බේරී සිසිල් වීමට එලෙසින්ම තබන්න. පසුව කපු රෙදිකඩින් චීස් ටික ගෙන මදක් මිරිකා බ්ලෙන්ඩර් එකකට දමාගෙන එයටම ලුනු කුඩුද එක්කර විනාඩි 4-5ක් හොදින් මිශ්ර කරගන්න.
Paul McCartney - Flaming Pie Music Album ReviewsOn his 10th studio album, now reissued with rarities and B-sides, McCartney grappled with emotions too big to neatly fit inside a pop record. Flaming Pie, Paul McCartney’s 10th solo album, arrived at the tail end of the Beatles’ mid-’90s renaissance. The remaining Fab Four members instigated this revival with the release of their long-gestating documentary The Long And Winding Road, which was given the generic title Anthology by the time it ballooned into a multi-media retrospective in 1995. Due to a stroke of luck, the release of the documentary and its accompanying rarities compilations coincided with the rise of Britpop. The time was ripe for McCartney to deliver an album steeped in Beatles lore, and that’s exactly what he claimed Flaming Pie was. Upon its release in May 1997, McCartney maintained that his immersion in the Beatles’ past inspired him to up his game, to make an album in the vein of his old band. Even its title was a nod to an arcane bit of Fab Four lore, derived from Lennon’s claim that he had a vision of a man on a flaming pie declaring that his band would henceforth be known as ”Beatles with an ’a’.” It was a canny marketing method, a tacit acknowledgment that perhaps his recent albums weren’t quite up to snuff while also snagging listeners whose interest in the Beatles may have been rejuvenated thanks to Anthology and the new breed of Britpoppers. It also was a bit deceptive. Flaming Pie sounds as similar to the Beatles as Oasis, which is to say not much at all; it’s recognizably in the same melodic vein, but all the production frills don’t recall Sgt. Pepper’s and the tone of the album is decidedly reflective, suiting a man taking stock of his life upon the cusp of his 55th birthday. Back in 1997, this wistful undercurrent was criticized as solipsistic—in the original review for Rolling Stone, Anthony DeCurtis dismissed the album opener “The Song We Were Singing” as a self-congratulatory “boomer reminiscence”—but a dive into the rarities-laden Archive Edition of Flaming Pie reveals that the album represented the end of an era as well as a creative rebirth. According to McCartney, he was told he could not release his solo album while the Anthology rollout was underway, so he kept tinkering with the songs that would comprise Flaming Pie while working on other projects—Standing Stone, his second long-form classical piece, for example, and a fairly tedious 1996 single called “The Ballad of the Skeletons” in which he jammed with avant-garde icons Lenny Kaye, Philip Glass, and Marc Ribot. Elsewhere, he sat for the interviews that formed the heart of Barry Miles’ authorized 1997 biography Many Years From Now and spent a chunk of 1995 living out his DJ fantasies via the Westwood One radio show Oobu Joobu, whose 15 episodes were condensed and edited into six B-sides for various Flaming Pie singles. He tagged along with his wife Linda whenever she promoted her line of vegetarian meals and cookbooks, sometimes stealing away to write a new song. All of this activity fed into Flaming Pie, whose origins are more piecemeal than the finished project suggests. Trawling through his back pages led to pulling two songs from his archives: the melodramatic pomp of “Beautiful Night,” which he attempted with Billy Joel’s band in 1986, and "Great Day," which dated all the way back to the early ’70s, sharing a partial melody with “Big Barn Bed” from Red Rose Speedway. A couple of loose blues rockers cut with his old friend Steve Miller back in 1995 (“If You Wanna,” “Used To Be Bad”) were short-listed along with a pair of unreleased George Martin-produced outtakes from 1992 (“Calico Skies,” “Great Day”) and then he enlisted the services of Jeff Lynne, the Electric Light Orchestra leader who shepherded the two “Threetles” Beatles reunion tracks for Anthology. After the first solo session with Lynne, the McCartneys received bad news: Linda had breast cancer. Paul decided to carry on and complete the album because “the thing about those moments in life is, there’s no option but to get on with it, ‘cause the other option would be to just lie down and go to sleep, which isn’t an option. So you’ve just got to get on with it, you’ve got to do things, you’ve got to go to the doctors, keep the thing going, keep running the shop. You get on with it, and this is me getting on with it.” He wound up writing two songs after Linda’s diagnosis, neither of which are heavy with grief. “Really Love You” grew out of a funky jam with Ringo Starr, and “Heaven on a Sunday,” a lazy slice of jazzy yacht-rock, only hints at his love for Linda through its refrain “If I only had one love, yours would be the one I choose.” Comparatively, the delicate finger-picked “Calico Skies” and “Little Willow” are infused with a sense of loss and mourning, floating along upon a bittersweet breeze that neatly complements the sepia-toned reflections of “The Song We Were Singing” and “Somedays.” These sweetly sad songs are the ones that linger, and they’re served well by their earliest incarnations as home recordings and demos that serve as bonus tracks on both the double-disc reissue and companion 5-CD/2-DVD edition. As nice as it is to hear these hushed, unadorned rough versions, McCartney feels most comfortable when he’s crafting an entertainment, which Flaming Pie certainly is. Maybe they don’t sound like the Beatles, but with their stainless steel gleam, "The World Tonight” and “Young Boy” were ornate singles designed to grab attention whether heard on VH1, adult contemporary radio, or the soundtrack to the forgettable Robin Williams & Billy Crystal comedy Fathers’ Day. The casual but tangible chemistry between McCartney and Miller may be in service of featherweight compositions, but they made the final cut instead of the more interesting throwaways “Broomstick” and “Looking For You”—B-sides both, presented and accounted for on the reissue—because the easy-rolling guitar duels offer some welcome air among the album’s heavier numbers. Individually, they feel thin, but they help make an album that captures multiple sides of McCartney’s personality, a record where his craft, silliness, sentiment, and charm are in balance. Maybe McCartney achieved that delicate equilibrium on Flaming Pie because he was indeed "getting on with it," coming to terms with his wife’s illness by making an album that celebrated those he held dearest. He’d continue to play with Ringo for many, many more years, and he’d work with longtime engineer Geoff Emerick a while longer, but Flaming Pie would be the last time Linda sang on one of his records, the last time George Martin wrote him an orchestration. It was also the first time he found space for his son James on a record, giving him the guitar solo on “Heaven on a Sunday,” a gesture that gained poignancy over the years. Most importantly, Flaming Pie gave McCartney his first US Top 10 album in 15 years, giving him the confidence to try newer and weirder things as he headed into the new century. Some of these albums were good, some were bad, but none of them had the same heart as Flaming Pie. It may have its flaws, but it’s one of the rare McCartney albums where he grapples with emotions too big to neatly fit inside the confines of a pop record.
The Psychedelic Furs - Made of Rain Music Album ReviewsThe British band’s first new album in 29 years is a rare commodity: a comeback record that’s refreshingly free of nostalgic gestures. No performer in rock made bad faith as romantic as Richard Butler did. In the first incarnation of the Psychedelic Furs, the British singer issued pronouncements and put-downs with laryngeal splendor; the band matched him with a mighty saxophone-and-guitar racket like a foghorn raising clouds of toxic fumes from dirty carpets. Serious about being a dickhead, Butler constructed scenarios in which he maneuvers himself into the position of being rejected so he can claim the poor girl was wrong to have given him a chance anyway—that’s sort of the point to “Pretty in Pink,” an unflattering character sketch, ostensibly about a girl named Caroline, that’s really about Richard, “the last to remember her name.” In the most delightful of surprises, Made of Rain, the Psychedelic Furs’ first new album in 29 years, ranks just a notch or two below post-punk classics like 1981’s Talk Talk Talk and 1982’s Forever Now. Expect no mummified mirror moves, though. Coming to terms with legacy acts often means pining for sequels. But in response to the question “What do the Psychedelic Furs mean in 2020?” the answer is simply, “Loud band with sardonic front man,” neither of which is in abundance in contemporary rock. Paul Garisto’s assured drumming and Mars Williams’ astutely deployed sax bleats are pleasures in themselves; thanks to former Love Spit Love colleague Richard Fortus’ robust mix, each instrument occupies a distinct space while still meshing into that familiar wall of sound. There’s some goop that wouldn’t have embarrassed the sodden Furs of 1986’s Midnight to Midnight (“Stars,” ick), but the goop sticks. Butler and bassist brother Tim can still write hooks, and Richard can still clear a room with rancid quips: “When I said I loved you and I lied/I never really loved you, I was laughing all the time,” he sneers in “Come All Ye Faithful.” Exploiting Gen X memories and good will in the service of a futurist aesthetic that once hoped to “let it stay forever now,” the Psychedelic Furs have pulled off a neat dialectical trick. They included no “Pretty in Pink”s or “She Is Mine”s, and the album’s better for it. The thunderous Made of Rain opener “The Boy Who Invented Rock & Roll” features Williams’ sax imitating the cawing of crows and Rich Good panning his guitar speaker to speaker while Butler self-mythologizes like Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve. The Furs excel at rummaging through trunkfuls of abandoned poses: Amanda Kramer’s keyboards channel “Venus in Furs” on “You’ll Be Mine,” and the full band produces a convincing imitation of Wish-era Cure in “No-One,” an observation that would surely pain Butler. The slippage into a narrative confessional mode is an uneasy fit on “Wrong Train,” but it’s worth sticking around for the sad-sack manner in which he notes he’s got a wife who hates him—and so does her boyfriend. But here’s the thing: Cynics are sentimentalists, embittered because the world doesn’t follow the schemas in their heads. In the Furs’ warmest songs, Butler acknowledged how “knee-jerk negativity/Just never got me through.” Angling for an American breakthrough encouraged the Furs into glossier expressions of romantic interest, but the tension between the pristine synth patches and the hairballs Butler insisted on singing through kept audiences unsettled—and limited the Furs’ crossover chances to the top 30 placing of “Heartbreak Beat” a little over two years before the Cure and Depeche Mode went platinum. Free of such considerations, Made of Rain includes some of their most insistent love songs. On “Don’t Believe,” Butler gets entangled in a thicket of paradoxes and double negatives, determined not to look a fool when pledging his troth: “Everything I never said/Comes crashing on my tiny head.” Unburdened by nostalgia, accepting the world as is while avoiding complacency, Made of Rain isn’t a comeback—it’s a new road.
JBL Bar 5.1 Surround ReviewIt might take up a bit of space, but the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is an incredible bit of kit. Should I buy the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround? Pros JBL MultiBeam tech 550W of power AirPlay 2 and Chromecast support Cons No Aux-in Soundbar and subwoofer are huge No Dolby Atmos support Our Verdict It might take up a lot of space on your TV unit, but the combination of a great speaker setup, a powerful subwoofer and JBL MultiBeam technology provide an exquisite experience. Price when reviewed $499.95 Soundbars are all the rage right now, offering a simpler alternative to traditional surround sound system setups without too much of a sacrifice to audio quality. Just about every tech manufacturer has a soundbar or two, from Samsung to LG, and that’s not even including dedicated audio brands like Sonos, Denon and JBL. JBL’s Bar 5.1 Surround has the potential to stand out from the crowd by utilising the same patented MultiBeam technology the company uses in cinema audio systems around the world. The technology provides impressive audio recreation, throwing sounds around the room with ease to fully immerse you in the moment. It is expensive at £549.99/$499.95, but is it worth it? Keep reading to find out. Design: It’s a chonk The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround offers what I’d call a standard soundbar setup, compromised of a soundbar and an accompanying wirelessly-connected subwoofer that sits out of the way nearby. The soundbar itself will take up quite a bit of your TV unit - or even hang off the ends, as it does on mine - measuring in at 1018 x 58 x 100mm, but with a total of seven speakers built into the soundbar, it’s a necessary sacrifice to make. I’d certainly rather a better audio experience at the cost of a small footprint. That being said, the soundbar sports curved pill-shaped corners of the soundbar that make it seem smaller than it really is while also helping it stand out from a sea of grey soundbar systems available in 2020. The design is very minimal, and that extends to the on-soundbar controls. They’re found smack-bang in the middle of the soundbar for easy access, with four buttons on offer: power, volume up, volume down and source. Those are arguably the most used controls on a soundbar, but without a button to adjust bass, that’s something you’ll have to use the bundled remote for. The buttons are also physical and offer a tactile response, opposed to some soundbar systems that use a (rather frustrating) touch-based system. The remote, like the soundbar, is refreshingly simple, offering a handful of clearly labelled, well-spaced buttons that’s easy to use by touch-only once you get used to the setup. And yes, unlike the Edifier S50DB, there’s a mute button on the remote - it’s a simple feature, but one that a growing number of manufacturers are ditching on soundbar remotes. There’s no noticeable display on the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround - instead, there’s a dot matrix-esque display built into the right-hand side of the soundbar, behind the speaker grille. It’s a clean look, only appearing when adjusting volume, changing sources or when initially turning the system on, disappearing back into obscurity when not needed. That’s one less distracting light when trying to get into a good film, at the very least! Accompanying the soundbar is the wireless subwoofer, housing a 10in woofer that packs a serious punch, but more on that later. The only real complaint about the soundbar is the size of the thing - it’s an absolute unit. Measuring in at 305 x 440 x 305mm, it’s one of the biggest wireless subwoofers I’ve reviewed, and some people might struggle to find somewhere for it to sit nearby inconspicuously. In my case, the subwoofer is actually taller than my TV unit. Connectivity: Lacks the basics, but makes up for it The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is an odd prospect when it comes to connectivity: while it boasts a handful of premium options, it’s missing a few of the basics. You see, you’ve got the fairly standard Optical and HDMI (complete with ARC support) inputs, but it’s missing the Auxiliary and Coaxial inputs found on many other soundbar systems, so you’ll have to be sure that your TV either has an Optical port or supports HDMI ARC before heading to the shop to buy the Bar 5.1 Surround. You’ll also find Bluetooth support, allowing you to connect your smartphone or tablet to the soundbar when you’re listening to music or playing mobile games, but it’s a feature I’ve only used once or twice. Why? Because the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround offers both AirPlay 2 and Chromecast support, connected either via built-in 2.4GHz Wi-Fi or Ethernet. AirPlay 2 is a great feature of the soundbar if you own an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV, allowing you to wirelessly stream content from your Apple devices to the soundbar without having to faff around with Bluetooth and potentially compromise on sound quality. AirPlay 2 also allows for multi-speaker output, so if you’ve got another AirPlay 2-enabled speaker in the house, you can sync the two together. And, of course, Chromecast is the perfect partner for Android users. It’s not quite as advanced as AirPlay 2, without the ability to work as part of a multi-speaker setup, but it’s still a much easier way to connect to the speaker compared to Bluetooth. Still, Bluetooth is still there for devices - like laptops - that may not support Chromecast or AirPlay 2 playback. That’s essentially where the smarts end when it comes to the Bar 5.1 Surround - there’s no companion app for iOS and Android to control the soundbar, and nor is there any kind of compatibility with Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri, and that’s a bit of a shame considering the internet connectivity is readily available. Audio: MultiBeam is the way forward JBL is famed for its phenomenal audio performance, and that standard is upheld by the Bar 5.1 Surround. That’s possible due to the inclusion of five front-facing drivers and two side-firing tweeters, along with the strong, prominent bass from the wireless 10in subwoofer, offering a combined 550W of power. That’s a strong setup, but that’s not the main reason why the Bar 5.1 Surround sounds so great. You see, JBL has been producing sound systems for cinemas for over 75 years, utilising the company’s own MultiBeam technology to produce an incredibly detailed and spacially-accurate audio experience, and that same technology is found in the Bar 5.1 Surround. While some claims of 3D audio are pure marketing schpiel, JBL delivers on the claim - and it’s mind-blowing at times. The way that the soundbar can throw sounds around the room, especially to the far left and right of the speaker system, is amazing, creating an incredibly immersive experience when watching movies and playing games. The soundscape is nothing short of impressive, with incredible sound separation and simulated directional audio. That does depend on the content you’re watching - Dolby Digital-supported content will always produce a better soundscape better than standard stereo content - but generally speaking, most content on Netflix, Amazon Prime and most other streaming services offer Dolby Digital support. I have to point out that it doesn’t support Dolby Digital Plus or the high-end Dolby Atmos, however, and that’s a bit of a shame considering the audio chops on offer from the soundbar system. Regardless of whether you’re watching a movie or listening to music via AirPlay 2, the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround delivers rich, detailed audio with clear, crisp vocals and truly thumping bass, the latter of which can be independently adjusted via the remote control. The only slightly odd omission is the lack of EQ presets, enhancing playback depending on what you’re watching or listening to. Pricing At £549.99/$499.95, the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround isn’t exactly an entry-level soundbar system, but you do get your money’s worth - especially with JBL’s MultiBeam technology, AirPlay 2 and Chromecast on offer. It’s certainly cheaper than the £799/$799 Sonos Arc, and Sonos’ option doesn’t include a subwoofer. If the JBL Bar 5.1 has piqued your interest, it’s available to buy directly from JBL, although those in the UK can head to Currys and pick it up for £100 cheaper at £449. Verdict The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is an impressive bit of kit, however large it might be. The soundbar looks sleek and minimalistic, and although it may lack standard connectivity options like aux-in, it makes up for it with the inclusion of both AirPlay 2 and Chromecast alongside Optical In, HDMI and Bluetooth connectivity. Unsurprisingly, it’s in the audio department that the Bar 5.1 Surround really flexes its muscles. Using JBL’s own cinema-level MultiBeam technology, the soundbar can project audio around the room with impressive detail, creating an immersive viewing experience. That’s backed up by the 10in subwoofer that delivers thunderous bass, adjustable via the bundled remote. Considering it’s available for £100 less than its RRP at Currys in the UK, it offers both great value and great performance. Specs JBL Bar 5.1 Surround: Specs Soundbar: 58 x 1018 x 100 mm Subwoofer: 440 x 305 x 305 mm 550W power output 6 Ohms impedance 40-20,000Hz frequency response 5x drivers 2x side-firing tweeters MultiBeam 5.1 Audio Support for Dolby Digital HDMI (ARC) Optical In AirPlay 2 Chromecast Bluetooth 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) ReviewThe Acer Predator Helios 300 has good gaming pace, a decent processor and a solid price, but its battery life, screen quality and speakers are all bettered elsewhere Should I buy the Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020)? Pros Gaming speed Latest Intel CPU Keyboard and connectivity Cons Battery life Screen quality Quite chonky Our Verdict Acer provides a pretty nice balance of value and performance here at 144Hz, as long as your ok with middling battery life, lower screen quality and a less portable design. Price when reviewed $1,199.99 The Acer Predator Helios 300 has been around for a few years, but this 2020 model is an updated version. It’s been outfitted with new components, and minor exterior changes make it a little easier to live with. A more powerful Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card and a new Intel 10th-gen CPU have both been fitted, and it’s paired with a 144Hz display and a whopping 20GB of memory. The Predator Helios 300 is designed for mainstream gamers, and its £1,399 price makes it a little more expensive than its predecessor – but it’s still a little cheaper than both of its key rivals. Design & Build There haven’t been big visual changes here from the Helios 300 (2019) . The lid still has a blue, illuminated logo between two slashes. You’ll still find dramatic air vents with blue internals – although minor tweaking means they now have a row of metallic plastic underneath, too. Around the front, the trackpad is ringed with metal to match the front of the machine, and the bulk of the machine is built from matt black aluminium. Acer’s black-and-blue theme looks reasonable, but rivals are more subtle if you would prefer: the MSI GS66 Stealth is almost entirely black, with fewer flourishes, and the Asus ROG Zephyrus 14 also looks more mature. The Acer Predator Helios 300 weighs 2.2kg and is 23mm thick, which makes it larger than rivals too. The MSI is a little smaller and lighter, while the 14in Asus is far more compact. Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) design Build quality is middling: the base is sturdy but the screen has a little too much give. It's not worryingly weak, but its rivals are more robust, and a protective sleeve would be a good idea. Also bear in mind the laptop’s front edge – it can dig into your wrist and can be quite irritating. The Helios 300 has single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports, with both connections supporting faster 10Gbps transfer speeds and charging. There are two slower USB 3.1 Gen 1 connectors, HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs and a headphone jack alongside Gigabit Ethernet. Once again, rivals are arguably better: the MSI has more, faster USB ports and adds Thunderbolt, while the Asus subtracts Gigabit Ethernet and Thunderbolt but does include two USB-C connectors. Keyboard & Trackpad The Helios 300 has a dedicated numberpad, which instantly lifts this keyboard above both rivals. There’s a dedicated button for Acer’s Predator software alongside a good layout – the only minor issue is the single-height Return key. The WASD, cursor and Predator buttons are highlighted with see-through plastic, and every key has a slightly concave shape for better grip. The Predator has RGB LED backlighting, although it’s not a per-key affair – instead, it uses four zones. It’s a sensible compromise, and the lighting is bright and consistent. Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) keyboard and trackpad The keyboard offers ample travel for gaming and typing, and its action is comfortable and quick, with a good amount of snap. It’s crisper than the Asus, but a tad softer than the MSI. It’s also a little too loud for my liking. The keyboard is decent, but the trackpad is disappointing. The buttons are soft, and the MSI’s pad is far wider. The positioning is awkward too as it sits on the left of the machine, so trying to use the trackpad and the WASD keys simultaneously is cramped. If you want to enjoy gaming, use a USB gaming mouse. Screen & Speakers The 15.6in display has a Full HD resolution, a 144Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time, which means it’s ideally positioned for mainstream single-player and competitive gaming. This display has no syncing and it’s certainly possible to get a higher refresh rate – the MSI has a 240Hz screen. However, a 144Hz display is buttery-smooth in all games, and most users won’t notice the benefit of a leap to 240Hz. The screen has middling quality. Its brightness level of 329 nits is fine, but its black point of 0.38 nits is high. The contrast ratio of 866:1 is underwhelming, and in real-world situations that means colours are a little pallid, with darker areas that appear grey rather than black. Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) screen The colour temperature of 8,621K is on the chilly side, which also leaves the screen feeling a little washed-out. For gritty, metallic games and movies, that’s not terrible – but other panels have more punch. The Acer’s sRGB coverage level of 87.2% is mediocre, and this display can’t handle DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB. The average Delta E of 2.59 is reasonable, and the panel’s uniformity is good – the brightness deviated by 11% in the top-left corner and by less than 6% everywhere else. The Helios 300's display is good enough for gaming, primarily thanks to its refresh rate and response time – it’s smooth and fast, even in frantic situations. However, the MSI’s 240Hz panel is faster, with better contrast and more accurate colours. The Asus is also better in those areas, and is available with 1080p/120Hz and 1440p/60Hz options. The speakers have enough volume for bedroom gaming, but they have weak bass, a muddy mid-range and a tinny top-end – they’re only useful if you have no other options. None of the Acer’s different audio modes made a difference, either. The Asus is much better, and a gaming headset would be a wise investment. Specs & Performance The Intel Core i7-10750H and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 are a popular laptop combination at the moment. The former component is one of Intel’s new 10th-gen CPUs, and the latter is a solid graphics core with Nvidia’s latest architecture. The RTX 2060 included here has the usual 6GB of memory, and it runs at base and boost speeds of 1,005MHz and 1,350MHz – speeds that outpace its default specification. The Predator Helios 300 also has Fast and Extreme overclocking modes that improve the boost speed to 1,400MHz and 1,450MHz. The processor has six multi-threaded cores, base and boost speeds of 2.6GHz and 5GHz and Intel’s Comet Lake architecture. Specs are rounded out with 16GB of memory and a 1TB SSD alongside Killer-branded Gigabit Ethernet and WiFi 6. It’s a good selection overall. The rival MSI has a virtually identical specification, but the smaller Asus uses a more efficient RTX 2060 Max-Q alongside a new AMD Ryzen 4000-series mobile CPU. The Acer’s RTX 2060 is impressive in benchmarks. We've also included Acer's Nitro 5 to show how a cheaper option compares. In 3D Mark Sky Diver, the Acer scored 36,003, which is more than 1,500 points beyond the MSI and further ahead of the low-power Asus. In Wolfenstein: Youngblood the Acer averaged 103fps, which is seven frames beyond the MSI, and its 75fps pace in Far Cry: New Dawn matched the GS66. The Acer’s 64fps pace in Total War: Warhammer II is three frames ahead of the MSI and three frames behind the Asus, which pulled ahead thanks to its AMD CPU. The Helios 300 is a little quicker than rivals in most gaming scenarios, and it’s got enough speed to handle key situations: it’ll play high-end single-player games at tough graphics settings, and it’ll run eSports games at the speeds required by the 144Hz display. Don’t expect much from the Acer’s GPU overclocking, though: these modes provided inconsistent results, with declining speeds in 3D Mark and Far Cry alongside a modest gain in Wolfenstein. The Predator's Geekbench 5 score of 6,022 is marginally ahead of the MSI, and those machines were virtually identical in PC Mark 10. The diminutive Asus machine is better, though, thanks to its eight-core AMD CPU. That machine scored 7,693 points in Geekbench 5 and 5,682 in PC Mark 10. The Acer has the power to handle everyday work, multi-tasking, office applications and photo editing. However, the Asus’ AMD chip is far better if you need a laptop for work alongside play. Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) ports The Acer has no interior or exterior temperature issues, and its noise levels are fine when gaming using conventional performance modes – there’s fan noise, but it’s modest. The noise is louder when using the misfiring overclocking modes, and stressing the CPU also caused the noise to increase. Both scenarios are easy to avoid, however. Battery life The Acer can’t compete with either rival when it comes to battery life. In a video playback test with the screen at 120 nits the Acer lasted for four hours and 50 minutes, but the MSI lasted for eight hours – and the Asus eleven hours. When gaming, the Acer lasted for an hour and fourteen minutes. You’ll need to stick by the mains if you want to use this laptop for a proper gaming session. Price UK users can choose from two different Helios laptops. The model we’ve reviewed costs £1,399 from Scan and a £1,299 version maintains most hardware but drops down to GTX 1660 Ti graphics – so you have a little less power alongside no Ray-Tracing. In the US, only the pricier model is available right now, but at US$1,119 via Amazon. Acer’s rivals are more versatile. The MSI is available in numerous different options, including alternatives with faster GPUs and 300Hz screens if you're happy to splash more cash. The Helios 300 is pretty good value for money but the ROG Zephyrus G14 just can't be beaten starting at £1,099. Check our chart of the best gaming laptops to see our top 10. Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) battery life Verdict The Predator Helios 300 has a decent price, a fast GPU and solid components and connectivity. Combine this with the good keyboard and the smooth 144Hz screen, and you’ve got a system that can easily cope with mainstream gaming and esports. It's a well-rounded machine and is cheaper than the MSI GS66 Stealth with very similar performance, although that has a 240Hz display if that's enough to tempt you to spend more. The bigger issue for Acer is that the excellent Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is even cheaper and offers amazing performance and a better screen. Both rivals have a more svelte and portable design than the Helios 300, too. For mainstream gaming the Acer Predator Helios 300 is easily good enough thanks to its solid components and design. If you want more finesse, specialisation or CPU power, though, Acer’s rivals remain a tad more compelling. Specs Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020): Specs Processor: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-10750H Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB Memory: 20GB 2,933MHz DDR4 Screen: 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS 144Hz Storage: 512GB SSD Ports: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x audio, 1 x HDMI, 1 x mini-DisplayPort Connectivity: Dual-band WiFi 6, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0 Battery: 59Wh Dimensions: 363 x 255 x 23mm Weight: 2.2kg Warranty: 1yr RTB
Roidmi X30 Pro ReviewThe Roidmi X30 Pro is a mid-price cordless with high-end features. And a couple of oddities Should I buy the Roidmi X30 Pro? Pros Lightweight Excellent cleaning power Useful OLED display Cons Noisy Limited app use Odd acessories Our Verdict The Roidmi X30 is a powerful cordless with upmarket features, including an OLED screen and vacuum headlights, but it's about half the price of top-flight cleaners like the Dyson V11 and Miele's TriFlex. Price when reviewed TBC The X30 Pro is an upgrade in every sense – power, suction, battery life – to the X20, which we reviewed and liked a lot. Best of all, you can get it for about the same price. Design & features It's a straightforward, tubular cleaner in plastic and metal that comes in two shades of grey: a darker space grey and a lighter shade. It's much more attractive that many of its competitors at the same price point and it has a couple of useful features that you’d expect from a much more expensive cleaner – namely headlights and a colour OLED display. You might wonder why you’d really need a display on a vac but it has one really stand-out advantage. It shows you the remaining battery life, which is absolutely invaluable in a cordless. Without a display, you need to be incredibly vigilant and organised about charging your cleaner so that you don't wind up holding a useless cleaner with half a bag of rice spilt over your kitchen floor and guests knocking at your door. OLED battery life display As it’s displayed as a percentage, rather than the standard four bars, you get a much more accurate sense of how long you have left. And when you switch to a higher power setting, you’ll see how much more quickly the battery drains. The photosensitive vacuum cleaner headlights are also an excellent feature, illuminating all the little bits that would otherwise escape your notice. (If you haven’t used a vac with LEDs before: welcome to the nightmare of seeing how gross the floor next to your fridge really is.) Roidmi X30 Pro lights Performance The X30 Pro is a really efficient cleaner, with 155AW of suction power. It’s often quite hard to compare vacuum cleaners head-to-head as some manufacturers measure the wattage and some use air watts and some are pretty cagey about the whole business. But in this case, the X30 Pro measures up pretty well to the king of the cordless cleaners, the Dyson V11, which has 185AW of suction. It also has a well designed cleaning head and is easy to manoeuvre, both of which improve its cleaning power. At 2.7kg, it’s also one of the lightest cleaners we’ve tested. This may or may not be a dealbreaker for you but the weight of a vacuum cleaner makes a huge difference to me and I found the X30 Pro very comfortable to use. The bin at 0.55 litres isn't massive, but it's roughly comparable to other cordless cleaners of this kind. Miele's TriFlex is 0.5l and the Dyson V11 is is 0.75l. It's easy to open and empty (if a bit stiff) and the Hepa-grade filter can be taken apart and washed out, which is handy. It claims six levels of filtration, including two antibacterial filters. This is obviously very hard to test, so we'll have to take their word for it. One slightly negative point is the noise the cleaner makes. It claims to be an ultra-quiet 75dB but it’s quite a high, whining sound, set at just the right pitch to make a headache or a hangover go supernova. It's not too bad on the lowest setting, which is all you'll need for most cleaning jobs, but the noise levels of the medium and high settings are a bit stressful. Charging The manufacturer claims that the X30 Pro will run for 70 minutes before needing to recharge. That's obviously on the lowest setting. I can't confirm this exactly as I tend to turn up the power as needed, which affects the running time but I think the battery life is as good as anything else on the market and, with the clear display, it's easy not to get caught out. The charging dock is a great feature. You can choose to charge the vacuum cleaner by plugging it straight in to the charging cord but it also comes with a handy little charging disc, which can be screwed or stuck to the wall. The cleaner attaches and charges magnetically. It's a neat little solution that means you don't need a cumbersome dock and you don't have to remember to plug it in when you finish cleaning. Accessories Good accessories can make a huge difference to how well you can clean a room and how easy – or conversely, how annoying – it is to do so. Some cleaners (for example, the Miele Triflex) come with only the standard accessories. Others, like the Samsung Powerstick Jet, come with an armful of useful add-ons. The X30 Pro has some strange options where accessories are concerned. It comes with the expected bits: a crevice tool, soft brush, motorised main head and compact mattress head. Full kit Then there's the mop. The mop head is a bar-shaped attachment that clips magnetically to the back of the main vacuuming head. Fill the tank, attach it and you can vacuum and mop at the same time. But do people want to do this? Is it effective? Is it a time-saver? I'm not sold. I found myself sawing back and forth several times just to make a little tea stain disappear, and I don't think I'd reach for this cleaner over an actual mop next time. There’s also an extension hose and pet brush attachment. You might imagine that this is for vacuuming up pet hair – and you’d be right. Except that you're supposed to use it to vacuum your pet itself. Does that sound mad to anyone else? I can't fathom the logic of deciding you have the budget to include an extra accessory and deciding that it should be a pet-hair-vacuum-brush. Do pets generally like vacuum cleaners? Mine don't. I dutifully followed the cat around with this Ghostbusters-like attachment until his wild-eyed terror convinced me it was never going to happen. In short: this was not a welcome technological advancement in my household. Pet hair attachment App The X30 is a connected device, although as the screen displays battery and filter life, and the main body of the cleaner has a button that allows you to change the power setting, you don’t need the app for everyday use. It’s useful for longer-term settings, for example, adjusting the screen brightness and resetting the filter usage display when you change the filter. These settings are very straightforward to change. The app also shows some mildly interesting info, including the cumulative cleaned area (measured in basketball courts) and the total amount of calories expended while using the device. But novelty value aside, this information isn’t particularly useful, so essentially you’ll be downloading yet another app just to manage a few settings. Price and availability At £320.87, this is a mid-price cleaner. It's currently only available from Indiegogo, but like Roidmi's earlier cordless models, we expect it to be rolling out more widely to online retailers in the coming months once it gets CE approval. Verdict There have been a host of great vacuum cleaners coming onto the market recently, but a number of these have been at the £600 price point, as competitors to the Dyson V11. The Roidmi X30 Pro shares some of their upmarket features, including an OLED screen and vacuum headlights, but at half the price. We're not convinced by the mop and the pet brush is a missed opportunity to include a really handy extra attachment, but these are essentially just add-ons. This a great vacuum cleaner with features that will genuinely make your life easier. While we can’t recommend it for larger homes – you’ll really need a spare battery to make a cordless practical for that – it would be a great buy for city-dwellers and people living in smaller homes.
රාවණා රජුගේ නොසෙල්වෙන දිය පොකුණ (King Ravana's Unmoving Pool)‘නිල් දිය පොකුණ’ බොහෝ දෙනා අතර ප්රසිද්ධව ඇත්තේ රාවණ පුරාවෘත්තයට සම්බන්ධ වැදගත් ස්ථානයක් ලෙසිනි. කරඳගොල්ලෙහි පිහිටා ඇති මෙය මෙරටින් දැනට සොයාගෙන ඇති විශාලතම භූගත ගල් ගුහාව වන අතර ගුහාව කෙළවර පිහිටා ඇති ඉතා පිරිසිදු වූත් නොසෙල්වෙන ජලයෙන් පිරුණු පොකුණත් නිසා මෙය තව දුරටත් විශේෂ ස්ථානයක් ලෙස ප්රසිද්ධ වී ඇත. ශෛලමය පටු විවර තුලින් හා දැවැන්ත ශාලාමය විවර තුලින් වැටී ඇති කුතුහලය පිරුණු අති දුෂ්කර ගමන් මාර්ගයෙහි විටින් විට හමුවන ඉතා ගැඹුරු මර්මස්ථානත් කෑලි කැපිය හැකි ඝන අඳුරත් නිසාවෙන් ගමනට තවදුරටත් ත්රාසය හා භීතිය එක්කරනු ලබයි. ඉතා ප්රවේශමෙන් ආරක්ෂාකාරී ලෙස යා යුතු ගමනක් වන අතර, ඉතා සුළු අතපසු වීමක් වුවද මාරාන්තික විය හැක. ඇල්ල වැල්ලවාය මාර්ගයේ රාවණා දිය ඇල්ල සිට 6km ක් පමණ ගියපසු දකුණට වැටී ඇති අඹ වතුයාය මාර්ගයේ 2km ක් පමණ ගියවිට මෙයට පිවිසීමට මාර්ග 2ක් දැනට සොයාගෙන ඇත. අපගේ උපදේශය, දකුණු පසට වන්නට පිහිටි පුද්ගලික වත්තක් තුල පිහිටි සිදුරින් වූ මාර්ගය ඇතුළු වීම සදහාද, එම මාර්ගයේම 3km ක් පමණ ඉදිරියෙන් පිහිටි මාර්ගය ඉහලට පැමිණීම සදහාද භාවිතා කරන ලෙසයි. සෑම අඩියක් පාසා අඩි ගණනක් පහතට වූ ප්රපාතයන්ගෙන් රාවණ උමඟ සමන්විත බැවින් උමගට පිවිසීමට පෙර සිටම විදුලි පන්දම් එලි මගින් ගමන් මග දෙපස නිරන්තරයෙන් එළිය කළ යුතු ය. ප්රභල ආලෝකයක් තිබීම මග ආලෝකමත් කිරීමට මෙන්ම ගුහාව ඇතුලත සුන්දරත්වයද රිසිසේ විදීමට පහසු කරවයි. උමං මාර්ගයෙහි පළමු පියවර අවසානයේ දක්නට ලැබෙනුයේ අර්ධ ගෝලාකාර වූ පියස්සකින් සමන්විත සුවිසල් ශාලාවක් බදු ගුහාවකි.
චිකන් කෝඩොන් බ්ලු (Chicken Codon Blue)අවශ්ය ද්රව්ය: චිකන් බ්රෙස්ට් හැම් චීස් ලුනු ගම්මිරිස් බිත්තරයක් පාන් කුඩු තෙල් සාදාගන්නා ආකාරය: මුලින්ම චිකන් බ්රෙස්ට් එක මැදින් වෙන් නොවෙන සේ දෙකට පළාගෙන උඩින් ඉටි කොලයක් දාලා රෝලින් පින් එකකින් තලා ගන්න. එවිට එය පැතිලි වී තිබූ ප්රමාණය මෙන් දෙගුණයක් පමණ වෙයි. ඉන්පසු උඩින් දැමූ ඉටිකොලය ඉවත් කොට ලුනු,ගම්මිරිස් තවරා ගන්න. ලුනු,ගමිරිස් තවරා ගත් චිකන් බ්රෙස්ට් එක උඩින් හැම් හා චීස් පෙත්තක් තබා දෙකට නවාගෙන වටේ රෝලින් පින් එකකින් පොඩ්ඩක් තට්ටු කරමින් සීල් කරගන්න. ඉන්පසු එය බිත්තර සාරු වල තවරාගෙන,පාන් කුඩු දවටගෙන ගැඹුරු තෙලේ රන්වන් පාට වෙනතුරු බැදගන්න.
Fontaines D.C. - A Hero's Death Music Album ReviewsHeady, funny, and fearless, the Dublin band’s second album is a maudlin and manic triumph, a horror movie shot as comedy, equal parts future-shocked and handcuffed to history. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse do not thunder and gallop. They lurch and stagger, weighed down by the grim burden of their brief. Slowly, they stalk humanity with an Amazon Prime package of grief, war, and pestilence, their approach suggested only by the mechanized drone of social media and cable news. When the end finally comes, it’s all so quotidian and tedious; a whimper, not a bang. All around us, the party is ending, and Fontaines D.C. are the final house band. The setlist is A Hero’s Death. Slinking seeming fully-formed from Dublin’s working-class neighborhood The Liberties, the five-piece established themselves as bona fide inheritors of a centuries-long socialist-bohemian tradition on 2019’s post-post-punk document Dogrel, an album that weaved together the enduring groove of Gang of Four and the psychically dislocating poetry of Allen Ginsberg with unnervingly precocious aplomb. Dogrel was a shouty revelation—part early Mekons, part cider-addled James Brown & the JB’s—all of it suggestive of a crucial talent abuzz with live-wire intensity. The jet-black comedy of their follow-up A Hero’s Death does nothing to detract from this view, instead geometrically expanding their cantankerous field of vision. Heady, funny, and fearless, A Hero’s Death is a maudlin and manic triumph, a horror movie shot as comedy, equal parts future-shocked and handcuffed to history. Memorable tunes and unforgettable phrases erupt like brush fire over the course of 47 minutes, the mood migrating at a moment’s notice from insouciant nihilism to full-blown rage to radical empathy. As one does these days. “I Don’t Belong” is all lurking Daydream Nation-menace and nightmare groove, with lead singer Grian Chatten’s haunted incantation, “I don’t belong to anyone,” taking on multiple possible meanings over the song’s slow burn. “A Lucid Dream” steams by like a demented locomotive driven by punk-blues of the Gun Club, while “Televised Mind” turns the Stooges’ “TV Eye” inward, making manifest PiL’s prophecy of a narcotized zombie culture, too dazed and confused by the endless wave of corporate-tech idiotica to raise its voice above a monotone. As a band, Fontaines D.C. are as forceful as they are versatile, with drummer Tom Coll proving equally adept at holding down the esoteric art-rock feel “Love Is the Main Thing” and the straight-as-string Velvet Underground homage of “I Was Not Born.” Guitarists Conor Curley and Carlos O’Connell harmonize and deconstruct in a more than credible echo of Television’s Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine. On the terrific, bummer-hang ballad “Oh Such a Spring,” which crops up halfway through the record, the group arrives at a state of beautiful brokenness. But the heart of A Hero’s Death lies in stiff-upper-lip rockers like the title track, whose unnervingly catchy funeral-glam is rendered all the more frightening for its sprightliness, sounding a bit like “Ballroom Blitz” following the aversion therapy from A Clockwork Orange. “Life ain’t always empty!” Chatten stipulates with a clergy-barker certitude, and proceeds along with catchy-sounding corporate affirmations like, “Sit beneath a light that suits ya/And look forward to a better future.” It’s the Stones’ “Satisfaction” in reverse. No longer is the consumer unhappy with the product. It’s the product that is dissatisfied with you. And then there is the final track, “No,” a big ballad, a perfect culminating statement, a pensive progression, when the Fontaines backburner their well-honed bitterness in the service of a larger question: Is a fight we’ve probably already lost still worth the fighting? When Chatten sings: “Please don’t lock yourself away/Just appreciate the grey,” the group’s half-measures optimism feels like a benediction. We get knocked down and then maybe, just maybe, we get up again.
Madeline Kenney - Sucker’s Lunch Music Album ReviewsCo-produced by Wye Oak, the singer-songwriter’s new album reckons with a past of self-doubt and a present of intense uncertainty in order to shape something like a satisfying future. For three albums, Madeline Kenney has poignantly and often playfully articulated the absurdities of modern adulthood. On her 2017 debut, the Toro y Moi-produced Night Night at First Landing, the Oakland baker, dancer, and singer-songwriter with the neuroscience degree sang post-grad mantras for herself, mid-20s reminders that tough times were inevitable but endurable. She got specific on 2018’s Perfect Shapes, reckoning with the burdensome workload of a creative class underfunded by a gig economy and the suspicion that existence itself is a deleterious process. And now, nearing 30 on Sucker’s Lunch, Kenney asks herself for permission to fall in love, or to reckon with a past of self-doubt and a present of intense uncertainty in order to shape something like a satisfying future. Kenney seems to have found both a mentor and friend in Jenn Wasner, the Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes linchpin who produced Perfect Shapes. Their rapport shaped that album’s sense of discovery, illustrated by a crosswalk sample that became an unlikely and compulsory hook. For Sucker’s Lunch, though, Kenney worked not only with Wasner and a cast of her own past collaborators but also with Andy Stack, the other multi-instrumentalist half of Wye Oak. Aside from Wye Oak’s own records, it’s the first album the pair have produced together. They lend Kenney a righteous heft here, their experience fortifying songs that, in the past, might have felt wispy. It’s tempting to hear Sucker’s Lunch as another extension of Wye Oak, a full-length collaboration with a novel singer rather than a joint production. Many of their chief hallmarks are here—the way the harmonies and keys pirouette over lumbering drums during “Sugar Sweat,” the emphatic rhythmic punctuation that ends “Tell You Everything,” the euphoric and arcing repetition of “Double Hearted.” If you landed on that last song without checking the title or the credits, you might assume Kenney is simply a Wye Oak acolyte—or that the band itself sounds different this time around. But Sucker’s Lunch inverts Wye Oak’s general approach. Where Wye Oak’s songs often seem purposefully resilient, designed like body armor meant to safeguard the feelings they ferry, these 10 songs wear their feelings on the skin. The sighing organs and yearning guitars of “Jenny” perfectly capture the bittersweet sting of remembering your past and hoping for a better future. Likewise, the surging and glorious “White Window Light” captures the uneasy excitement of committing to new love even if it might backfire, of “jumping in the water without plans.” Despite all its lyrical prevarication, there’s a newfound directness to much of Sucker’s Lunch, a definitive step beyond the self-aware cleverness of Kenney’s earlier records. “Sucker,” for instance, surveys our modern malaise with prismatic snapshots of political fractures, mental fatigue, and endless worry. The band renders a wonderfully blue country shuffle beneath them, with luminous guitar harmonies that suggest Nels Cline and drums that feel like slumped shoulders. Kurt Wagner—for almost 30 years, the maestro of Lambchop’s own exquisite moodiness—deadpans the verses alongside Kenney, offering a cross-generational reminder that exasperation is a preexisting condition. And “Be That Man” springs from a gothic country creak into big, open-hearted rock, its chorus a perfect nugget of would-be AM Gold that needs no complications. Such transmutation is the enduring lesson of Kenney’s small catalogue so far: Turn life’s impasses into empathetic rock songs, little anthems for overcoming self-renewing heartache and exhaustion and anxiety. On Sucker’s Lunch, Kenney gets closer to the core of that idea than ever before thanks to sharper writing, stronger hooks, a versatile voice, and a continued partnership with friends who allow her to try new approaches. These are the results, it would seem, of growing up—the same complicated process that gave Kenney the grist for these 10 songs about figuring out what’s next.
Thanya Iyer - KIND Music Album ReviewsThe Montreal-based singer-songwriter and violinist’s music feels like an invitation to reflect. Each song recounts not just stumbling and uncertainty, but a sense of motivation. On KIND, Thanya Iyer’s second album, she asks listeners to question who, exactly, is nurtured by our current cultural notion of togetherness and who is left out. The Montreal-based singer-songwriter and violinist has spent the past few years exploring the intersection of baroque pop and improvisational jazz, and her music often feels like an invitation to a discussion, specifically one that calls for honest reflection and careful analysis. With KIND, Iyer transforms her songs from individual sentiments into a fluid conversation, utilizing her voice as a guide to face the unknown. Alternating her violin parts between spritely pizzicato and languorous fermatas, Iyer stacks harmonies to create the sensation of flurrying sounds. She and her bandmates—bassist Alex Kasirer-Smibert and drummer Daniel Gélinas—are periodically joined by brass players, flautists, harpists, and a choir, who float in and out of focus. The combination turns KIND into a lucid daydream that’s constantly melting at its edges. Above it all is Iyer, crooning just above a whisper with a powerful voice that sometimes recalls a blend of My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Nova and Kadhja Bonet. At a glance, song titles like “I Forgot to Drink Water (Balance)” and “Bring Back That Which Is Kind to You” suggest the kind of self-care advice found on pastel-hued influencer blogs. But while Iyer’s overall message is optimistic and simplistic, her intentionally open-ended lyrics allow her to chronicle a journey that grapples with racism, disability, grief, self-love, and depression, among other subjects, through the richness of the music itself. After opening with an invocation of rebirth post-loss, KIND shifts into a more determined mindset. Its narrator is faced with a choice between creating change immediately, or waiting for someone else to do so later. They opt for self-made change, of course. It isn’t immediate or pretty, and each song recounts stumbling and uncertainty, yet Iyer sows it with motivation: “Looks up to the light will find me lost in layers/Light will guide me.” In the early 2010s, the definition of baroque pop took on a new meaning. Black and Brown artists began to elevate the genre as an experimental art form, with musicians like Moses Sumney and Sudan Archives pushing the boundaries of orchestral folk and classical instrumentation. Iyer does the same, and her ear for texture and landscape is consistently noteworthy. In “Always, Be Together,” she dots verses with raindrop-like synth notes and cut-off piano runs that make an otherwise straightforward looped rhythm feel like the portal to an alternate earth. Moments like these weave throughout KIND, without wasting space or adding flair for its own sake. This may only be her second album, but Iyer’s patience, thoughtfulness, and commitment to communal growth stands out.
Synology DS420j ReviewThe glacial evolution of the Synology DiskStation line continues with a marginally better four-drive J series. Should I buy the Synology DS420j? Our Verdict The J Series always represents good value and the DS410j is no exception. But the incremental bump from the DS418j might well make people consider the older model if it can be found at a reduced price. Price when reviewed Unavailable The modern NAS drive has become a popular option for many homes, providing a convenient location to backup files from multiple devices and share them with others. Most start with a single or dual-drive system, and for those that grow large media collections, the next logical step is a four-drive solution like the Synology DS420j system that we’ve tested here. The extra drives allow for greater overall capacity, more resilience against drive failure and less chance of data loss. As a J Series machine, the DS420j is aimed at those that want those good things, but at an affordable price. But how does the DS420j stack up against the DS418j it replaces, and other similarly specified NAS options? Price The UK price MSRP for the DS420j is £231.4 (260 Euros) exclusive of VAT, or £277.68 inclusive of tax. You can buy the DS420j from the likes of Amazon and eBuyer. In the US it's available from Amazon for $299. The QNAP equivalent is the TS-328 and it costs around £190/$240. It uses the same CPU, has 2GB of RAM (not 1GB), and it also includes an extra USB port, and dual Ethernet ports. Around the same price is the Netgear ReadyNAS RN214. It also features a quad-core CPU, has 2GB of RAM and three USB ports. We should also mention its predecessor, the DS418j that can be bought for around £300 in the UK and can be found for $369 on Amazon.com in the US. With the new design launched, we’d expect the DS418j to become cheaper in the coming months, but for now the 420 is actually cheaper. Check our chart of the best NAS drives to see what other options you have. Design & Build The best way to consider the design of the Synology DS420j is the adage about why you might want to fix something that isn’t broke. And, that’s precisely the view taken by Synology, as the enclosure that the DS420j uses is practically identical to the one that the DS418j came in, and the DS414j before that. In our office, we still have, and use a nine-year-old DS411 machine that’s very similar. When a design has been used for such a long time then it clearly has merit and therefore the reliability of this equipment is clearly going to be better because it uses a tried and tested format. The only weakness of the design, addressed by the newer enclosure used in the DS418, is that while flashing LEDs on the front would indicate a drive number that might have failed, how that relates to the internal trays at the back isn’t obvious. The lights are mounted horizontally and the drives stacked vertically so unless you refer to the documentation, you won’t realise that drive one is at the top, not the bottom, and you could easily pull the wrong drive out. Synology DS420j review Putting aside that potential catch, this is a NAS design that has been widely copied by other makers due to the simplicity of the construction and assembly. The front and floor are plastic, the top, sides and rear are all thin pressed sheet metal. There are two 80mm fans are the rear to eject heat and plenty of slots for cool air to enter for that airflow to work. All the ports are at the back and the PSU is an external laptop-style block that doesn’t contribute extra heat internally and can easily supply the relatively small amount of power that the system uses even when fully occupied with hard drives. The currently quoted maximum raw capacity is 64TB should you be willing to invest the roughly £1,800/$1,800 on storage needed to populate it with four 16TB drives. It isn’t a necessity to fill all four bays, although if you want a resilient system, you need at least two drives of the same capacity. Synology DSM can expand the defined volumes should you add more drives, and you can even sequentially swap out drives of larger capacity if you are prepared to let the system reorganise between each drive swap. And, for those that want a fresh start, it is possible to secure the contents to external storage, make major changes to the drive layout and then move the data back. The elegance of this honed hardware solution combined with the maturity of the DSM operating system is a major factor in why Synology is the market leader in home NAS solutions. Specs & Features Before we dive into the details, it’s worth trying to understand Synology and why the DS420j isn’t a technical revolution from the DS418j that it replaces from 2018. When Synology introduces new models, it creates a problem for older hardware still in the channel, as the newer designs have better features. Synology has struggled with this issue for years, and the DS420j is a classic example of its difficulty in not undermining existing products. Because while it wants to make the DS420j better than the DS418j that came before, it can’t make it better than the flagship DS418 it still sells. That leaves a very narrow scope for enhancing the DS420j and making the difference between this NAS drive and the one it replaces remarkably subtle. Synology DS420j software interface Reading the specifications of these two machines finding any difference is something of a challenge. It uses the same enclosure and the same power supply as before. And, it can take the same number of drives, of the same size, and has the same USB port layout and LAN capability. The only major difference between the DS420j and the DS418j is the central ARM processor. The previous model uses the Realtek dual-core RTD1293, and the DS420j has the better Realtek RTD1296, a quad-core design with the same 1.4GHz clock speed. Those familiar with the various chips used on Synology NAS will realise it is identical to the previous DS418 model, so the new the DS420j is essentially the old DS418, but with only 1GB of DDR4, not 2GB. It is still possible to buy the more expensive DS418 to get double the RAM and a newly redesigned enclosure. Or you can get the DS418j for a little less and live with a dual-core platform. For those curious, the memory is soldered directly on to the board, so you can’t upgrade the DS420j and turn it into a full DS418 spec box, sadly. Synology DS420j apps If the Realtek RTD1296 and 1GB of RAM is enough for your plans, then the DS420j is the right platform for you, but those than need more power should seriously consider the DS918+, as it has the Intel Celeron J3455 CPU, but it also has 4GB of RAM, upgradable to 8GB, hardware transcoding and it can also take an external drive box to expand the array to nine drives. Normally in a Synology review, we’d talk about the incredible number of applications supported by the DSM operating system, but in this case, they’re the same apps that the DS418j supports. These are wonderful apps, do all the things that most home users would want from a NAS, but the DS420j doesn’t have access to any that the DS418j wouldn’t run. Verdict As we might have hinted already, this isn’t an obvious choice where the new equipment is clearly superior to the old. Synology has dug itself a specifications hole where the changes between models are now so slight that most people wouldn’t notice the difference purely on user experience. In short, the newer machine runs the same apps as before, at the same speed and using the same DSM operating system. If you intend to use many apps simultaneously on the NAS, then the extra CPU cores might be helpful, but as it doesn’t have any additional RAM, you’d probably be better off buying the DS418 and getting the extra memory that comes with that design. For those who primarily use the file server functionality, the old DS418j will do the job just as well, and depreciation should make it cheaper by the summer. However, if you want a system now, the DS420j is easily worth the asking price. Synology has built a NAS solution that functions brilliantly on all the hardware in its NAS stables and swapping out a dual-core CPU one for a quad-core design doesn’t open any dramatically different opportunities without any extra RAM. The DS420j is an excellent choice as a four drive NAS, and competitively priced, but it isn’t a vast improvement over the machine it replaces. Specs Synology DS420j: Specs Processor: Realtek RTD1296 4-core 1.4 GHz Memory: 1 GB DDR4 Drives: 4 x 3.5in or 2.5in SATA HDD/SSD (drives not included) Raid Modes: Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10 Networking: 1x 1GbE LAN port Networking Protocols: SMB, AFP, NFS, FTP, WebDAV, CalDAV, iSCSI, Telnet, SSH, SNMP, VPN (PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP) USB ports: 2x USB 3.0 Type A OS: Synology DSM 6.2.2 OS Languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Magyar, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Polish, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Turkish and Czech Maximum capacity: 64TB (4x 16TB) Maximum Single Volume: 108TB Internal drive formats: ext4 External drive formats: ext4, ext3, FAT, NTFS, HFS+(read only), exFAT Size (HxWxD): 184 x 168 x 230mm
Shark DuoClean Lift-Away ReviewIf you want a vacuum cleaner that can do it all, then this Shark DuoClean is worth a look. But is it worth splashing out for all its features? Here's our review Should I buy the Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away Upright NV801UK? Our Verdict Excellent on hardwood floor and carpet, the versatility of the Lift Away system means this is a one-size-fits-all cleaner to have around the home for floors, under furniture and even curtains. It’s easy to manoeuvre and not very heavy, and doesn’t do much wrong at all – all with a five-year guarantee. A fine if pricey buy. Price when reviewed £329.99 Buying a vacuum cleaner is bit of a pain. How much should you spend, and are some models overpriced? Aside from Dyson, it’s hard to know which other brands to pay attention to. After using this Shark vacuum cleaner, we can confidently recommend it as a versatile but slightly pricey option for several types of cleaning around the home. Here’s our review of the Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away Upright Vacuum Cleaner – model number NV801UK. Price and availability The UK RRP for the Shark DuoClean is £329.99, but if you're lucky it's often on sale for less than that. You can also buy it from Amazon UK, Currys and Argos in the UK. Design and build When you first unbox the Shark, it feels a tad lightweight but don’t let that first impression fool you. The parts need to be this slight for the unit to be modular, and isn’t a sign of bad craftsmanship. It weighs in at 6.1kg. The in-box instructions make it easy to assemble the wired unit, and it takes less than five minutes. You then have an upright lift-away vacuum cleaner with easy to use controls for hard floor and carpet, three different nozzle attachments and suction control. You can release the handle, or the full upright section (called the wand in this case) to reach up to corners of rooms or under furniture, bookcases and beds. The physical clips are easy to use, and stand out in their orange, white and black colours. This vacuum cleaner is well-labelled and while you may not fall in love with the colour scheme, it makes it easy to work out how to use without a manual (although one is included). Features and use Detaching these parts makes it easy to clean ledges, curtains and more, and the tube is robust enough not to feel like it’s going to detach or break. You can either remove the handle or wand from the body, or lift away the entire dust cup itself with the wand. The DuoClean tech on display here though is in the main floor cleaning unit, and it works very well. Most vacuum cleaners use one brush bar, but Shark has two here working in tandem – a soft velvety brush that works best on hard wood floor to pick up ground in dirt, and a normal brush roll that works best on carpets to pick up hair and dirt. A physical switch on the wand lets you quickly switch between these two modes, which is great if you have hardwood floors and rugs. There’s also a suction control that is necessary on some carpet – the Shark is so powerful that it’s hard to push if suction is turned fully up, belying its 750W power. The vacuum is very responsive to turning and we found ourselves pulling off angled cleans that we couldn’t on rival products. Just remembered it’s corded, but with 8m slack you shouldn’t have to move the plug about too much in one room. A neat touch are the headlights (yes, really) on the front of the main roller. They proved surprisingly helpful in dingy corners to make sure you’ve cleaned properly, and means you don’t leave streaks of dirt behind. It’s good for spotting cobwebs, too. It’s a relatively quiet vacuum cleaner too compared to some, with a noise level of 80db. The Shark DuoClean is also a bagless vacuum, which is great. The dust cup is easily detached and you can then empty it from either end. It’s quite slim but you won’t need to empty after every clean (it has 1.1L capacity), but you might need to get your hands a bit dirty getting some debris out given the tall design. The NV801UK also has (wait for it) Shark’s Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology, a tech that supposedly seals in nasty dust and allergens in the unit rather than kicking them back out into your house. We’ll take Shark’s word for it, and the vacuum is one of the better we’ve ever used, with exceptionally good pick up that doesn’t rely solely on suction – power drives the brush roll for an amazingly effective experience. Verdict A good deal if you can find it on sale, the Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away NV801UK is a mouthful but one of the better vacuum cleaners available in the UK today. Excellent on hardwood floor and carpet, the versatility of the Lift Away system, means it’s a one-size-fits-all cleaner to have around the home for floors, under furniture and even curtains. It’s easy to manoeuvre and not very heavy, and doesn’t do much wrong at all – all with a five-year guarantee. A fine if pricey buy.
Amazon Echo Auto ReviewIf you use Alexa a lot at home, then putting her in your car can be useful. The Echo Auto is compatible with most cars and is ideal if yours is older. Should I buy the Amazon Echo Auto? Pros Mics work well even in a noisy car Hands-free Alexa while driving Cons Doesn't add much to modern cars Not easy to hide wires Our Verdict The Echo Auto is great for older cars without a modern infotainment system, but you'll still need your phone and mobile data to make it work. Price when reviewed $49.99 Reviewing the Echo Auto in July 2020 seems a slightly strange thing to do given that it has been available in the US for quite a while now. It is new to the UK, but is basically identical. If you don’t know much about the Echo Auto, it’s essentially Alexa for your car. It’s not just an Echo Dot in a different plastic body though: it’s been designed specifically for the extreme temperatures in a car and a microphone array which allows Alexa to head you clearly over road & engine noise, air conditioning and music. Installation 5mm aux input or Bluetooth Air vent mount supplied 12v adapter with dual USB ports supplied Requires phone with mobile data The Echo Auto is a dinky little thing that just about fits in the palm of your hand. It comes in just one colour, black, and attaches to an air vent using the supplied mount. These are the types of compatible and incompatible vents: Amazon Echo Auto review installation You get a micro-USB power cable in the box along with an adapter that plugs into your car’s 12V accessory socket. It has two ports, so there’s a spare one for charging your phone or another gadget. While there is a built-in speaker, that’s for setup and startup only and Alexa uses your car speakers to talk to you and play music. You have two options to achieve that: a 3.5mm aux cable or Bluetooth. This does all mean that some cars won’t be compatible with the Echo Auto, but most will be. The most suitable cars are older models from around 2000-2012 which may have aux inputs (or even Bluetooth) but no built-in CarPlay or Android Auto. Amazon Echo Auto review installation Hiding the two wires (one if you’re connecting via Bluetooth) might be a challenge, so the Auto may not be the most seamless addition to your dashboard. If your car has only an aux input, the Echo Auto will double as a Bluetooth adapter so you can stream music from your phone to your car stereo. Your phone, of course, is a key ingredient in making the Echo Auto work at all. It requires its data connection to give life to Alexa. Without that, it can’t do anything. What does the Echo Auto do? All the usual Alexa skills Directions to local restaurants and other places Calls and Drop In Music, podcasts and audiobooks You might reasonably wonder why you’d need an Auto at all. A phone with a data connection and the Alexa app (or Siri or the Google Assistant) can do a lot of what the Auto can do. Plus, of course, your phone has a screen which can display a map and offer turn-by-turn guidance, which the Echo cannot. However, if you already use Alexa in your home and like to choose music hands-free by asking her to play songs, then the Echo Auto does make sense. Of course, like any Echo, the Auto has the full gamut of Alexa skills. So you could ask her to add something to your shopping list, set a reminder or add an appointment to your calendar. You could use any of the extra skills you’ve enabled to play games or control smart gadgets such as outdoor lights or even a garage door opener. Some of Alexa’s capabilities are already duplicated by your car stereo, so you’re unlikely to ask her to play a radio station, but you might appreciate being able to start playing the next episode of a podcast or to continue the Audible book you’re listening to. Streaming music works just like it does when you’re using an Echo at home. That even applies if you don’t get your music from Amazon and it comes from Apple Music, for example. For navigation, Alexa will open the default app (set within the Alexa app) and set it to the destination you’ve asked for. This is very hit and miss. Say “Alexa, give me directions to McDonalds” and she will ask you if you mean a particular restaurant, usually the one nearest to you. But ask “Alexa, give me directions to Bluewater” and she will be unable to assist. You can also say “Alexa, take me to the nearest petrol station” but the one she picks may not be the nearest: it’s whatever is the closest that she knows of. If you know the address, you might get lucky. Saying “Alexa, give me directions to 101 Euston Road in London” and she will oblige, but she’ll say “Hmm, sorry I couldn’t help. Try asking again.” if you say “Alexa, give me directions to Brampton Road in Bexleyheath”. I also had problems navigating to contacts, despite allowing the Echo Auto to access my phone’s contact list. In some cases this was because - for unknown reasons - there was no address associated with that contact, despite the address being present in the Google version of that contact. Amazon Echo Auto review UK Don’t forget that you need to set your car stereo to the aux input or Bluetooth in order to hear Alexa. You can’t be listening to the radio, a CD or any other source and also use Alexa. Things get a bit unpredictable when you ask Alexa to make calls. You can ask her to call any of your contacts (those synced with the Alexa app) and she will make that call through your phone. What happened – to me at least – was that the call was routed via the phone’s earpiece, which is no use when you’re driving. Similarly, asking her to Drop In on one of my Echos at home had the same effect, instead of routing the sound through the car speakers. That could have been because the Echo was connected via an aux cable rather than Bluetooth, but at no point during the setup did it ask how to route the audio from calls. Price & availability You can buy an Echo Auto from Amazon for £49.99. It's $49.99 in the US, but has been discounted from that price almost constantly since it launched. That's not the case in the UK, where there's no introductory offer at all. In Europe it's €59.99, and in Australia, where the Auto launched slightly before the UK, it's $79.99 from Amazon. Verdict The Echo Auto isn’t the first car-based device to have Alexa: I’ve already tested dash cams from Nextbase and the Roav Viva. But the Echo Auto is the best at hearing my voice over all the noise, and was easy to set up. Whether it makes sense for you will depend largely upon what car you have and the capabilities of its audio system. If it already has Bluetooth then you won’t really gain anything in terms of navigation or calling since Siri and the Google assistant are already pretty capable of handling these hands-free. But for music and general Alexa skills, it’s very good and brings the experience you get using an Echo at home to your car. Some skills aren’t useful in this context, but many are, such as being able to turn on the heating and lights at home while you’re driving.
වළගම්බා රජු දිය නෑ - රජනාව ඇල්ල 🍃🌿💦 (Rajanawa Ella 🍁🍄)අද අපි ඔයාලත් එක්ක බෙදාගන්න යන්නේ වලගම්බා රජ දවස දක්වා ඈතට දිවයන දිය ඇල්ලක් ගැනයි.ඒ නමින් රජනාව ඇල්ලයි. රජනාව ඇල්ල සහ ඒ නාන තොටුපල මේ වන විට සංචාරකයින් අතර හරි ප්රසිද්ධයි.මම මගේ කතාව පටන් ගන්නම් මේ ඇල්ල හා බැදි ජනප්රවාද වලින්ම. මේ ඇල්ලේ රජෙක් දියනාපු නිසාලූ මේ නම ලැබිලා තියෙන්නේ.කවුද මේ රජා ඒ තමයි ලංකා රාජාවලියේ බොහෝ දුෂ්කරතාවයන්ට මුහුණදුන් වළගම්බා රජු දියනෑමට යොදාගත් ඇල්ලක් බවට ජනප්රවාද පවතිනවා. ඒ නිසා මේ ඇල්ලට මුල් අවධියේ රජානෑව ඇල්ල කියලයි හදුන්වලා තියෙන්නේ.පස්සේ කාලෙදි තමා රජානෑව ඇල්ල රජනා ඇල්ල බවට පත්වෙලා තියෙන්නේ. මේ ඇල්ල ආශ්රිතව ගල් ලෙන් දෙකක් රජු පරිහරණය කල බවට මතයක් පවතිනවා.මේ ගල්ලෙන්හි රජූ පරිහරණය කළ රන් ආභරණ තැන්පත් කර ඇති අතර එහි ආරක්ෂාවට රන් ආදෙක් සිටින බව මතයක් පවතිනවා... හැබැයි මේ හැමදේම මිත්රා මත මිසක් සැබෑවුන දෙයක් නෙමේ. නැත්නම් මිනිස්සු මෙවල නිධන් හොයන්න යයි.මේ දිය ඇල්ල අඩි 45ක් පමණ උසයි. දිය ඇල්ලක් උනත් අප අතර ප්රසිද්ධ වෙලා තියෙන්නේ දිය නෑමට නියම ස්ථානයක් ලෙසයි.මොකද ස්වභාවිකව පිහිටි තටාකයක් ලෙසට මේක පිහිටලා තියෙන්නේ. නමුත් ඇල්ලේ පෙනෙන උසට වඩා වතුර වැටෙන බේසම වගේ ස්ථානය ගැඹුරුයි කියලයි කියන්නේ.වසර අගදී මදක් වතුර අඩු වුවත් අනෙක් කාල වලදී නම් සැලකිය යුතු ප්රමාණයේ වතුර තියෙනවලු. ඉතින් ඔයාලා යනවා වගේම පරිස්සමින් හොදේ.රත්නපුර නගරයේ සිට 5km පමණ දුරකින් තමා මේ ඇල්ල පිහිටලා තියෙන්නේ.ගියාට කමක් නෑ පරිසරය විනාශ නොකර එන්න.
that dog. - Totally Crushed Out And Retreat from the Sun Music Albums ReviewsReissues of the L.A. band’s mid-’90s albums capture how they brought girl-group yearning, three-part harmonies, and virtuoso violin lines to the era of Sassy mag and 120 Minutes. In 1992, Los Angeles’ that dog. formed in the teen bedrooms of singer-guitarist Anna Waronker and bassist Rachel Haden, bringing all the ache and nerve and doom of girlhood to their lovesick vision of alt rock. Theirs was a musical world where astrology, crushes, lip gloss, and punk-rock garage shows all convened in an artful, off-kilter push toward possibility. Barely out of high school, Waronker played her older brother Joey’s left-handed guitar upside down. When Rachel’s sister Petra walked by, she didn’t want to be left out, and dusted off her violin to join. Together, with pitch-perfect three-part harmonies, virtuosic orchestrations, and crashing chords, the original iteration of that dog. made three albums—1994’s that dog., 1995’s Totally Crushed Out!, 1997’s Retreat From the Sun—in a baroque bubblegum pop-rock style all their own. Waronker’s songwriting was thrilling: Her lyrics captured the raw essence of how overwhelming and transforming infatuation can be, singing in the witty, conversational style of a long-lost best friend. She brought girl-group yearning and ’70s singer-songwriter chops to the era of Sassy mag and 120 Minutes. Waronker originally wanted to be a music supervisor, having briefly studied filmmaking at USC, and she had a flair for the colorful details that spike the personality of a song—dialogue, tension, a sense of place. In her endearing deadpan, that dog. songs could feel like scene-setting film treatments for hypothetical teen movies. (Waronker would go on to compose music for Josie and the Pussycats, Clueless, and last year’s Shrill.) The band’s angelic harmonies tended toward a surreal California grandeur, and Petra’s classically trained violin playing was lucid and pretty, rather than noisy like John Cale’s, which made that dog. weirder still. Often compared to contemporaries like the Breeders or Veruca Salt, that dog. sounded more like folk-rock trio the Roches gone art-punk, slyly sophisticated. But these were never the most discussed lines in that dog.’s biography. The Haden sisters were two of the triplet daughters of the legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden, an original member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet on such towering classics as The Shape of Jazz to Come. Harmonic prowess surrounded them. Waronker, meanwhile, was the daughter of the Warner Brothers record exec Lenny Waronker—which meant she grew up in the orbit of icons like Van Dyke Parks and Randy Newman, and was particularly fond of the latter’s plainspoken piano-pop symphonies. Completing that dog.’s lineup was boy drummer Tony Maxwell, best friend of Waronker’s older brother, a member of Beck’s band. They all attended Santa Monica’s Crossroads High School, where they also met future Girls co-producer Jenni Konner, who helped write some early that dog. lyrics. And so that dog. embodied a strange in-between. They could not have been classified as indie; they signed to David Geffen’s DGC label within a year of forming. On the other hand, their music was too unusual for mass appeal. Future collaborators like Beck and Weezer originally opened for them in the L.A. underground, but that dog.’s rapid ascent meant the group of 19- and 20-year-olds was quickly met with skepticism—headlines in The Washington Post and L.A. Weekly read “Well Connected Dog” and “That Dad”—and sometimes written off as a gimmick. Yet it was their idiosyncratic experiences that helped make that dog.’s songwriting so audacious and their arrangements so richly textured. The Hadens spoke of favoring Bach and Arvo Pärt over anything on the radio. As Maxwell put it in 1997: “We never pretended to be anything other than what we were.” When Waronker first began writing songs, her self-imposed rule was “no love songs, no guitar solos.” But as that dog. progressed, she gave herself a new challenge: only love songs and guitar solos. “I had five broken hearts at one time,” she admitted then, “all broken in five different places.” Her own sensitivity horrified her. Totally Crushed Out! started as her attempt at “a Beatles parody love song” collection, like a teen romance novel recast as clever, grungy power pop, but as it charted the mess and magnitude of emotional ennui, the cheeky art concept became catharsis. After the irony-suffused experiments of their self-titled debut, Totally Crushed Out! was that dog.’s first cohesive record—a sugar-rushing testament to the emotional confusions of youth. The buzz-sawed Shangri-Las pop of “He’s Kissing Christian” delineates the experience of dating someone as he realizes that he would rather be kissing boys—a possible riff on the plot of that year’s Clueless—while the self-sabotage-y opener “Ms. Wrong” (a Konner co-write) is about not feeling a relationship because you don’t feel yourself. On the thrasher “Lip Gloss,” Waronker applies lip gloss in front of a guy and waits for him to kiss her, but, tragically, he never does. “Lily white/Cherry raspberry/Lip lover/Rachel Perry-eee-eee-eee!” the band chants in unison, like Devo-schooled Martians out of a truly alternative dimension of girl-punk kissability. From the Sweet Valley High-evoking album cover to the ill-fated prom dance on “One Summer Night,” the performance of femininity across Totally Crushed Out! is befitting of a gender studies thesis. The starker moments of Totally Crushed Out! are stirring, evoking the band’s acoustic bedroom beginnings while also foreshadowing the impending greatness of Waronker’s writing. The loud/quiet whispers of “Silently” describe being pissed off and enamored by someone (later confirmed to be Beck Hansen) at the same time. The dour minimalism of “Side Part” knows all too well that the only way out of heartbreak, often, is through. Other mellow Crushed Out! ballads explore breaches of confidence, the despairing haze of being alone on “Holidays,” and the erudition of the MTV-era fangirl. Waronker’s songs cut to the marrow of young womanhood, validating how longing and obsession are all tied up in the process of becoming. By the time of the sleek, polished Retreat From the Sun, Waronker was 24; she’d been in that dog. since she was 19. The songs were deeper, more finely wrought—initially, she thought they might comprise her first solo album. Retreat was recorded with Brad Wood, who’d produced Liz Phair’s seismic Exile in Guyville around the time that dog. formed, and it shared much with Phair’s intelligence, ambition, and sexuality. It was Wood who pushed that dog. to go “as new wave as possible” on Retreat’s laser-beam single, “Never Say Never”—a glossy video would find its way into MTV rotation—which not only evoked the Go-Go’s but featured their keyboardist Charlotte Caffey on synth. Beyond the single, Retreat From the Sun carefully placed Waronker’s sensitive balladeering—often as irreducible as teardrop country tunes—alongside throttling pop-punk gems containing timeless aphorisms: “By definition a crush must hurt/And they do, and they do/Just like the one I have on you.” Waronker was inspired by the pop leanings of her then-boyfriend (and future husband) Steve McDonald, of L.A. glam punks Redd Kross, who lent her a piano, near which she displayed a photo of her family friend Randy Newman. She reflected on her deepening relationship with McDonald in many of Retreat’s songs. Waronker told Much Music, “I’m entering into more of a Carole King phase…. It’s pop, but it’s more, like, frizzy-haired. I’m gonna have frizzy hair and a baby and a flowered skirt.” (There are at least two explicit mom-rock tunes on Retreat From the Sun.) Perhaps to temper all of that normative monogamy, Waronker and McDonald wrote a song together: “Gagged and Tied.” “I don’t care if you don’t treat me like a lady,” Waronker sings with delightful touches of evil. “I don’t care, just sit there, and don’t disobey me.” In this straight-faced BDSM scene—“Put on ‘Venus in Furs’/And you can go home afterwards”—Waronker’s singing is still unassuming and innocent, recalling how Liz Phair once said, “The point of some of [my] songs was to say things that shouldn’t come out of the voice that was saying it.” In the end, Waronker can’t help making even a dominatrix fantasy sound disarmingly sweet. “It’s not your style/I can see/You crack a smile,” she sings, a whole layered plot twist in less than a dozen words. You could call Waronker a master of pop-punk literary compression. The breezy “Minneapolis” alludes to how she met McDonald one night at a beloved L.A. club. “I was at the Jabberjaw/Cutest boy I ever saw,” she sings, and in four minutes, the song captures the stomach-twisting spark of a crush—a rush of uncertainty, euphoria, nerves, embarrassment, caught glances, and timid conversation: “He said, ‘I’m leaving on Wednesday/Come see me when Low plays.’” There’s a beguilingly unvarnished feel to Waronker’s singing that makes these dimensional details sound much more casual than they are. “Minneapolis” is one of three Retreat tracks named for specific places, and they’re the best songs Waronker ever wrote. Like “Minneapolis,” the dizzied “Long Island” rips through infatuation, location, and subtext: “You’re pretty dreamy for a boy from Long Island.” What could be less conventionally cool than pining for a guy from the suburbs? But Waronker’s daydream doesn’t waver: I want to set a place for you at my table We can sit forever watching reruns on cable Take you driving in my brother’s beat-up car Sharing a cigarette, we’ll wish upon a star together In its compacted abandon, “Long Island” was a reminder that that dog. toured with fellow ’90s romantics Jawbreaker. So was “Hawthorne,” the sparest and sharpest song in that dog.’s catalog, in which Waronker soberly narrates a visit to her boyfriend’s hometown. “Hawthorne” is immediately visual: “Driving/Looking for your parents’ house/Striving/To find a piece of you,” Waronker sings. It’s a small, ephemeral moment, but a telling one, seeming to gesture at what those devastating crushes were after, mixing mundanity and depth. Both songs are evidence of the particular electricity of intimacy that can exist inside of cars, the sense that you are totally aligned with another person if only for a moment. It’s that precise type of person-to-person connection that that dog.’s vulnerable records have fostered with new generations of fans, spreading by word of mouth and influencing bands like Paramore, Vivian Girls, Swearin’, and so many others. Though they imploded shortly after Retreat From the Sun, that dog. offer proof that honesty endures, that what makes something continue to resonate, usually, is simple—you could miss it, if you don’t listen close. “And I saw a punk rock show/In a car garage/And I saw you as a child,” Waronker sings on “Hawthorne,” wide-eyed and coasting; “I saw you/My dream come true.” How to make that feeling last is a mystery of life. But the songs did.
Shoreline Mafia - Mafia Bidness Music Album ReviewsThe buzzing L.A. rap group flattens some of its personality with its major-label debut, a mix of party cuts and bland compromises. The Los Angeles rap group Shoreline Mafia blew up in 2017 with raw, druggy cult hits like “Musty.” In a strange twist of fate, the young quartet’s fledgling career was given a boost when the video for “Codeine Bryant” featured in a Fox 11 Los Angeles news piece that targeted “the codeine craze.” Their local-hero status led to a contract with Atlantic, a stunning rise for a collective with roots in the city’s graffiti scene. To hear group member Ohgeesy tell it, the story is something akin to twee indie teen movie Mid90s: just average teenagers having fun and wasting hours under the shadows of the palm trees. “We was just going stupid,” he told Fader in 2018. “I was tagging, skating. I was into crazy-ass shit—it was fun. Now, I’m not doing nothing unless I get actually paid for it.” Ohgeesy’s assertion that money is the motivation, with fun relegated to second place, seems to predict the problems that hold back new record Mafia Bidness. The pursuit of a check is obviously a necessity—in rap, it’s venerated—but there’s the feeling here of something beautiful being corrupted. Mafia Bidness is being pitched as Shoreline’s debut album after a series of mixtapes, and there are times when you can sense the commercial compromises. Take “Poe The Drop”: A Future feature makes perfect sense on paper—the group’s magnificent debut tape ShorelineDoThatShit was an out-and-out sizzurp record. But here the collaboration feels perfunctory in the extreme. It’s not that the song is bad, exactly, but Future barely sounds like he’s in the room and the chemistry never catches fire. Though influenced by Southern lean culture, Shoreline’s music fits neatly into the ratchet music corner of L.A. rap. When it comes together, Mafia Bidness boasts some of the most infectious California rap records of the summer. “Aww Shit” and “Fuck It Up” feature slick keyboard riffs, crisp snares and spotless production that feels heavily indebted to DJ Mustard—the perfect backdrop for the group’s alluring raps and playful punchlines. As usual, the murky voices of Ohgeesy and Fenix Flexin are most prominent throughout the album, with Rob Vicious and Master Kato dropping in and out to help keep things interesting. The fusing of West and South is most obvious on “How We Do It,” a séance that attempts to resurrect Montell Jordan’s Angeleno anthem “This Is How We Do It” and turn it into a drug song (“The codeine’s here on the west side,” spits Fenix). You can feel an element of hit-chasing to the decision to ride Jordan’s beloved ‘90s classic. But the tweaks to the beat are to the song’s detriment, with a hum coating the bassline adding an unwanted distortion. Needless to say, guest vocalist Wiz Khalifa is a strange taste-making pick in 2020. Mafia Bidness is stacked with guests, and the chemistry is at its best when L.A. artists come through. The inclusion of a very old Drakeo The Ruler freestyle showcasing his stony delivery may be an attempt to honor the incarcerated star. Later, YG and underrated Maryland rapper Q Da Fool jump on the album’s best experimental moment, “Gangstas and Sippas (Remix).” With long-time Shoreline collaborators Ron-Ron The Producer and AceTheFace’s hiccupping horns summoning the spirit of Missy Elliott, it proves the group can excel outside their established formula. Thematically, Shoreline stay focused on one topic: women. They’re interested in romance, providing their lovers with material luxuries, and sex. A lot of sex. In Shoreline Mafia’s world, every text message is illicit. They’re probably the most sex-obsessed Californians since Too $hort. Sometimes this one-track mindedness can be a bit dumb: a song titled “Bitches” queasily catalogues the different types of women they claim to come into contact with. More interesting is “Change Ya Life,” produced by Helluva Beats. A sweet hook and heartfelt candor makes way for sinister piano keys and a throbbing beat, making the song at once a hip-hop-R&B crossover single and horror-movie score. Innovative moments can’t relieve the disappointment that such a lengthy tracklist contains little as dark and sneakily gripping as “Musty” (which, importantly, Shoreline have claimed was recorded in one take) and “Whuss The Deal.” The inclusion of bonus track “Bands”—which featured on the 2018 Rob Vicious showcase Traplantic and includes all four members—just acts as a reminder of how irresistible their music can be, the group fluidly passing the mic to one another, the formula pure. With its flaws, Mafia Bidness is a solid L.A. party record, but no definitive Shoreline Mafia document. In the future, the group should make it their business to stay truer to themselves.