Listened Cautionary Tales – The Curse of Knowledge meets the Valley of Death from Tim Harford

Why were soldiers on horseback told to ride straight into a valley full of enemy cannon? The disastrous “Charge of the Light Brigade” is usually blamed on blundering generals. But the confusing orders issued on that awful day in 1854 reveal a common human trait – we often wrongly assume that everyone knows what we know and can easily comprehend our meaning.

Listened Plaid :: Stem Sell (Touched Music) from igloomag.com

Given the amount of time they’ve been supporting Touched Music as a label and all the good stuff it stands for, it’s both exciting and surreal to finally have a Plaid release on the roster—not only that, it’s a collection of remixes and Stem Sell doesn’t disappoint. I’m always excited by the prospect of a new Plaid release but remixes and reworks so frequently appear on singles and B-sides, hard to find compilations or limited-runs, that it’s hard to get access to them all and those that you do you may have only ever heard at a gig, on a dodgy rip or in otherwise less-than-perfect circumstances.

Listened James Blake’s Debut Album Turns 10 from Stereogum

That universe would come to expand, on 2013’s streamlined Overgrown and 2016’s depressive The Colour In Anything. On 2019’s Assume Form, he brought in the many friends and guest collaborators he’d worked with over the years, opening up his typically interior solo albums into more of a collective. But there’s still something about his self-titled debut that stands a little above the rest — it’s singular and haunting. It’s no wonder that Blake’s touch would become shorthand for a kind of digitized poignancy among the rappers and musicians he’d go on to work with. While he applied the lessons he learned as an up-and-coming dubstep producer to his music with others, the music he made under his own name feels personal and conflicted. James Blake is still startling in its intimacy and solitude. It ushered in a decade worth of triumphs for Blake, even if he wasn’t exactly what we expected.

Listened Sound Ancestors, by Madlib from Madlib

16 track album

Madlib has teamed with Kieran Hebden in the creation of Sound Ancestors:

Beyond his ability to find obscure loops, there’s an unpredictability to Madlib’s music that comes from his jarring beat shifts and strange sample flotsam. He never lets listeners settle too deeply into a groove, and Hebden made sure to preserve some of that chaos. “I was trying to get the best of both worlds in terms of it having these moments that are very universal that everyone can get their head around, and also having shocking moments,” Hebden said. “I didn’t want to water anything down or make it too polite.”

Listened Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg continue talks as Australia stands firm on proposed media laws from ABC News

The Prime Minister says the government will not respond to Facebook’s threats, urging the company to “come back to the table” and continue negotiations over the news media code.

In response to Facebook’s decision to temporarily remove all news in Australia, Waleed Aly, Scott Stevens and Belinda Barnet investigation whether if it is even right for news organisations to depend upon Facebook as the modern form of distribution in the first place. Aly actually praised Facebook’s decision as a ‘brief relief from the tyranny of pragmatism’. The problem raised is that Facebook is not a model that is moral. As a platform, it showcases media all together, which subsequently ends up lowering the value of everything on there. They investigate whether it is a better outcome for people to seek news elsewhere, rather be at the peril of algorithms and the shareablility of content. The concern is that this is all beyond regulation when the platform capitalists get the data and content for free.

In other reporting on the situation, Nicholas Stuart suggests that this decision only confirms Facebook’s dominant role:

Facebook wanted a deal, but only one that left it in control. Sure, they preferred not to gift money to anyone, particularly slow media behemoths that can’t even get their distribution model right. But Zuckerberg can live with this, because the government’s cemented his role. Facebook’s now driving the media jalopy.

Adding to this, Alex Hern suggests that until the technology sector change their approach, we are going to have more calls to “regulate us, just not like that”

Like all industries, tech has its shadow lobbying groups, it secretly funds its think tanks and so on. But, unlike others, the tech industry has focused firmly on that core pro-regulation message. “We want to be regulated; we want new laws that cover us; we’re not like the Other Industries, we’re cool and likeable”.

Except that message fails, because it’s coming from an industry that simply cannot accept that regulation is driven, first and foremost, by a desire to limit the harms caused by that industry – harms which the industry can’t even be convinced exist.

In other words, we’re going to see this more in the future. Until tech changes its view of regulation from something that offloads blame to something that prevents harm, that cycle – “Regulate us! No not like that” – will continue.

While Cory Doctorow argues the real focus is not links, but the ad market.

This vertical integration is the source of confusion about whether this is a link-tax. The goal of the regulation is to clean up the ad markets, but Googbook use links as a stick to beat up publishers when they don’t submit to corrupt ad practices, so links get implicated.

Doctorow suggests that the another approach to the problem is adversarial interoperability and adjusting the control that companies like Facebook have on our data and attention.

Listened Discovery Turns 20 from Stereogum

Discovery is a work of obsessive craft. Bangalter and de Homem-Christo used vintage equipment whenever possible, fussing over each individual sound to make sure it had just the right pitch and resonance. But Discovery isn’t a product of overthinking. Every sound and idea and feeling seems to flow naturally into the next. Even the album’s silly conceptual stunts — like ending things with a track that lasts exactly 10 minutes and has the title “Too Long” — never get too cute. Instead, the album finds a careful, delicate balance between internal memory-journey and dancefloor catharsis. Nobody — including Daft Punk — has ever managed to fuse those two urges in quite the same way.

Listened A free chapter of The Data Detective audiobook from Tim Harford

My book The Data Detective is out today in the US and Canada. (The same book is called How To Make The World Add Up elsewhere in the world.) To celebrate publication, Riverhead Books have teamed up…

In this excerpt from The Data Detective, Tim Harford shares the importance of scientific curiousity when it comes to being a data detective.

A curious person enjoys being surprised and hungers for the unexpected.

One strategy he shares for fostering this is to get people to simply explain what they are talking about. Rather than justifying why a universal based income is important, get them to explain what it is.

Listened Is “opinion” doing more harm than good? from ABC Radio National

Opinion writing plays a disproportionate role in our media eco-system: it drives online traffic, fuels emotion, feeds the forces of polarisation, and promotes an incapacity to understand one another. But is there a different way to think about opinion?

Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens speak with Ross Douthat about opinion writing. They wonder in a world of polarisation what purpose the opinion piece serves.

But if opinion pieces now appeal primarily to the “tribes of the already convinced”, are they in fact doing more harm than good in these polarized times? Or is there a different way to think about opinion — a way which acknowledges the peculiar moral vocation that inheres to the task? Can opinion pieces provide a kind of “gestalt switch”, shifting one’s perception such that we can see aspects of reality otherwise?

This has me rethinking a piece I wrote a few years ago: Tribes are Good, But Do They Really Evolve the Conversation? However, I also wonder if this highlights the downside of blogs as a medium?
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Listened 30 years of The Music Show from ABC Radio National

Saturday 13th February. Yoiks and yodels, plainchant, punk, serialism and salsa; if it’s music, we’ve got it covered for The Music Show’s 30th birthday bash.

Guests appearing in this program:
Clarence (Frogman) Henry (2001)
Betty Carter (1995)
Ánde Somby (2017)
Boy George (1995)
Wayne Shorter 2016)
Blossom Dearie (1995)
William Barton (2003)
Yehudi Menuhin (1998)
Tom Jones (1995)
Angélique Kidjo (2000)
Mary Wilson (2015)
Chick Corea (2014)
Chad Morgan (1995)
Randy Newman (2011)
Wu Man (2014)
Julie Andrews (1991)
Victoria de los Ángeles (1995)
John Cleese and Eric Idle (2016)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (2003)
Tom Jones (1995)

Listened Mark Pesce | Team Human from shows.acast.com

Playing for Team Human today, futurist, inventor, and author of “Augmented Reality,” Mark Pesce.

Pesce augments our understanding of the many interfaces between ourselves and whatever it is that’s out there. Does cybernetics break the western conception of linear time, arrow-for-progress, colonial expansion thing?

In his opening monologue, Rushkoff discusses why elected officials should not be on social media platforms. “The minute we put banks and other real stuff on here is the minute it started to go wrong.” Further, he looks at how early-stage internet fan fiction crept into reality and ended up addicted to fractalnoia.

Mark Pesce talks about his new book on Augmented Reality. The conversation explores different senses of space and how companies like Niantic avoid legal precedence around ownership. He also explores the way in which our reality can be twisted. This touches on the topic of magic and the way in which a part of us can die when we change.
Listened album by Jónsi from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
I have slowly been growing into Shiver. Brian Howe does not believe that the combination of A.G. Cook works:

Frequent Charli XCX producer A. G. Cook’s hectic Max Martin style is far from a natural fit for the dramatic, drawn-out singing Jónsi prefers, and without the dynamic presence or indestructible hooks of a pop artist, most of the alchemy he discovers with Cook is spinning gossamer into lead.

However, I wonder if it is a case where the music is different to what one has come to expect, in a similar manner to Taylor Swift’s work with Aaron Dessner. As Andrew Trendell suggests:

The record certainly boasts enough quirks and textures to keep you coming back to make new discoveries with each listen.

Listened 2020 studio album by Taylor Swift from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Evermore has been described as the sister album to Folklore, with the majority of the album produced by Aaron Dessner.

On “evermore,” she sounds loose and unburdened—free, finally, from the debilitating squeeze of other people’s expectations. It’s a lush, tender, and beautiful album, steadier if less varied than “folklore,” and infused with backward-looking wisdom.

On evermore, she’s gone even smaller. It’s a soft, meditative, consciously quiet album. This time around, she’s not really writing pop songs and presenting them in the clothing of NPR-style indie. Instead, she’s just straight-up writing NPR-indie songs. It’s a small but crucial distinction.

The folkloreevermore era has been one marked by a spirit of artistic freedom. Unbound by pop convention, and perhaps with newfound commercial flexibility – with the success of folklore as proof of surprise-release viability – Swift is able to both explore abstract turns of phrase (“gold rush”) and unfurl narratives (“champagne problems”). On both albums, she’s been permitted to play with sound and texture in a way that feels uncharacteristic of contemporary radio pop.

Listened The Haploids from YouTube

We are a ‘The Haploids’, and we came here to party with you!
The Haploids are a band who make music for kids that grown-ups can enjoy too.
We play a variety of genres, from punk rock to space-funk to folk to ska to hip-hop. Our
lyrics are inclusive and often accidentally educational. We sing about the awesomeness of
vegetables, the importance of play, treating others with respect, gardening and art. We
semi-guarantee your kids will eat more veggies and be nicer to their siblings if they come
to our shows!

The Haploids is a children’s band that ‘make music for kids that grown-ups can enjoy too‘. They match contemporary genres with lyrical content that children can relate to. As Dylan Lewis argues in an interview on Nova,

Kid’s don’t hate good music … If you talk dumb to kids, they turn out dumb. If you play them awesome music, they turn out awesome.

In the same interview, Lewis explains that the name was derived from crocheted animals his father made in the 70’s which he called ‘haploids’. A picture of one of these creations has been posted on Instagram:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DiRK & Ugg & Shaun (@the_haploids)

Listened Male Loneliness — And What Men Can Do About it | Art of Manliness from The Art of Manliness

Show Highlights

  • Men and suicide — unique risk factors and why men have higher rates of death by suicide
  • How Dr. Joiner defines loneliness
  • What does it mean to be alone but oblivious?
  • The value of social redundancy
  • The biological detriments of being lonely
  • Is the feeling of loneliness rising in America?
  • Social media’s double-edged sword
  • How are young people spoiled when it comes to relationships?
  • Why relationship maintenance is more valuable than new relationships
  • Why you should reconnect with friends from high school and college
  • Is therapy the right solution for men struggling with loneliness?
  • What can men do start investing more in relationships today?
  • How does this work in the age of COVID?
In this episode of the Art of Manliness podcast, Brett McKay speaks with Dr. Thomas Joiner about his book, Lonely at the Top: The High Cost of Men’s Success. They talk about the male tendency towards loneliness, even if they are somewhat oblivious to it.

This has me again returning to Austin Kleon’s depiction of ‘increased complexity‘ and the challenges associated with balance as life becomes more and more complex. As I wrote in the past, I wonder if it actually takes a family for such interventions to occur?

I wonder then if the greatest challenge we face in regards to leadership is realising we cannot do it alone and recognising those who help out to make it possible?

Listened album by the Avalanches from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
This album has been on the periphery for a while, with various teasers, it was not until the album dropped that everything seemed to fall into place. There are some great tracks, with my favourite being Wherever You Go, however the strength is listening as a whole.

Place between Oneohtrix Point Never and FourTet

Marginalia

But if that album [Wildflower] felt like the world’s most jumbled playlist, We Will Always Love You has, as they say, a better algorithm. Now reduced to a duo of Robert Chater and Anthony Diblasi, the Avalanches are still dedicated crate-diggers, unearthing obscure oldies at every turn. But this time, they go lighter on the samples and heavier on post-trip hop soundscapes and contemporary singers, making for recombinant pop that feels joyfully seamless and organic.

The record begins with a farewell voicemail—a final communication, we are led to believe, from a young woman who has passed away—and it ends with the Morse code-like bleeping of the Arecibo Message, an interstellar transmission carrying information on the human species into the infinite beyond. In between those poles, the Australian group continues doing what it has always done: spinning the sounds of disco, soul, easy listening, and other nostalgic staples into luminous, ludic shapes, turning musical collage into a sparkling, four-dimensional fantasyland.

Like the other two Avalanches albums, We Will Always Love You is an odyssey. Each track feels like an encounter with some new character or a scenic passageway in between outposts.

A sense of interconnectedness flows through “We Will Always Love You,” and Chater said the process of working with live singers isn’t that different from selecting found sounds. “It’s almost like sampling,” he said, “in trying to find the right vocalist, to match the music with someone who seems like they’ve got a certain spirit.”

That so many disparate talents have been corralled into such a cohesive whole is testament to Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi’s vision, with samples meticulously stitched together from a mass of voices and an underlying concept of remembering those singers no longer with us.

As they’ve grown older, they crave transcendence over hedonism; it’s why the album is slower, warmer, more contemplative and mellow overall.

In many ways, We Will Always Love You is The Avalanches’ own Golden Record, tracking their sonic DNA through an epic list of collaborators who have influenced their sound in some shape or form over the years while exploring love, human connection and our place in the universe.

Listened I’m Your Empress Of, by Empress Of from Empress Of

12 track album

This was one of those albums that I overlooked earlier in the year. I dived in after it came up in my recommendations in Spotify. Listening to this album I was reminded of some of the textures from Banks’ III, only to realise that they were both produced by BJ Burton.

Place between BANKS and Sylvan Esso

Marginalia

Written in a two-month break between tours in her Los Angeles home studio, Rodriguez produced the record whilst also processing some serious heartbreak, making ‘I’m Your Empress Of’ deeply personal. It also sees her soaring avant-pop imbued with a new sense of urgency.

I’m Your Empress Of is exhilarating, filled with layers of emotion packed tightly into some of the most infectious, club-ready songs of the year.

I’m Your Empress Of vibrates with the contradictions that one person can contain: how mourning the loss of a partner is bound up with anger, the fatigue of resilience, and the pleasures to be found in escaping it all, if only for one lusty night. With unexpected production and left-field samples, Rodriguez’s album is powered by a heady rawness that bucks the trend for theatrical concepts in today’s electronic pop nonconformists, producing epiphanies like hot stones spat from a fire.