Listened Charli (album) – Wikipedia from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
This is one of those uncanny albums. One minute it hooks into you, only to then shock you back to your senses. In some respects, it is the album that I could not imagine someone Taylor Swift making.

Robin Hilton describes the album as ‘future pop’s:

Charli XCX makes wildly warped, genre-bending songs that are artful and adventurous but can still top the charts. On the English singer’s latest album, Charli, she collaborates with Troye Sivan, Lizzo, Haim and more for a sound that moves pop firmly into the future.(source)

While Debbie Carr suggests:

Charli may be laced with all the screeches and squelches of everyday life in one giant sensory overload, but at its core the album is a snapshot of the experimental era pop is moving into.(source)

For me, this album has the feel of speculative pop. It is true that many of the elements of pop are still present. However, the speculation comes in the way of form and production.


Place between St Vincent and Montaigne.

Listened Montaigne – Complex from triple j

Nailing her distinct brand of art pop, Complex is the second album for Montaigne.

Montaigne’s voice holds together an exploration of electronic and acoustic sounds and rhythms. Complex is an album that continues marching on, celebrating some of life’s sharper sides.

Place between Megan Washington and Bjork.

Listened #70 – Virtual Community with Howard Rheingold – Modern Learners from Modern Learners

Howard Rheingold brings a sense of perspective and history to the conversation around our current understanding of community

Howard Rheingold discusses the development of virtual communities over time. From The Well to DS106, Rheingold discusses the power of learners to lead their own learning within such spaces. This is something Clint Lalonde discusses in regards to untrackable learning in private spaces.
Listened Episode 167: Robyn from Song Exploder

Robyn is a Swedish singer and songwriter. Her first album came out in 1995, when she was 16 years old. It went platinum in the US, double-platinum in Sweden. Since then, she’s been nominated for five Grammys and started her own record label. But there was an eight-year gap between Robyn’s album Body Talk, which came out in 2010, and her most recent album, Honey, which came out last October. Time, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork all named it one of the best albums of the year.

For Song Exploder, Robyn breaks down the song “Honey,” the title track from that album. The first time the public heard the song was in a 2017 episode of the HBO show Girls, but that’s not the final version that was released on the album. In this episode, Robyn traces the long history of how she made “Honey,” a song that The New York Times called “her masterpiece.”

Robyn discusses the process she took in writing her track Honey. Whether it be the discovery of a seed in a sample, hours a riffing to find a melody and additional production from others. In the end, the initial beginning is there in beat and spirit, but has been progressively mixed out.
Listened TIDE

This episode to celebrate the life of Dai Barnes is co-hosted by Doug Belshaw and Eylan Ezekiel, featuring contributions from friends and listeners to the TIDE podcast.

Show notes

Reflecting on the death of David Bowie, St Vincent suggests that “we have lost a hero, we have lost a friend”.

I felt something similar when hearing of Dai’s passing. I never met Bowie and never met Dai. With his passing, I was left reflecting upon the impact TIDE has had on my life.

I have listened to every episode, often sped up, but listened none-the-less. Although there were many of Dai’s arguments that challenged me and others that I disagreed with, his manner was always positive. I was always grateful for his openness and honesty. This is what I will miss the most and feel had the biggest impact on me as a learner.

My favourite memory is when he shared his failed job interview where he found himself standing on-top of a table. Priceless!

Thank you Doug and Eylan for compiling this celebration of Dai’s life.

Listened Netflix’s decline and why stricter regulation could strengthen the tech giants from Radio National

Netflix dominates online TV streaming, but for how long?

The market appears to be decentralising, as major content-makers decide to abandon Netflix and go it alone.

Also, Cory Doctorow on how more government regulation could inadvertently make the tech giants even stronger.

What is needed, he says, is an emphasis on encouraging competition.

And meet the Scottish developer trying to build a genuine alternative to today’s surveillance-ridden internet.

Antony Funnell leads a conversation about the state of technology. He speaks with Stephen McBride about the future of Netflix, Cory Doctorow about the potential of interoperability to break up big tech and Nick Lambert on the creation of Maidsafe, an alternative to the internet.

Doctorow provides a useful introduction to the discussion of adversarial interoperability. He discusses the fact that many of today’s giants – Facebook, Google – had their starts through interoperability, but once settled they closed such doors.

Listened Lover (album) – Wikipedia from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Lover is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on August 23, 2019, by Republic Records. As executive producer, Swift worked with producers Jack Antonoff, Joel Little, Louis Bell, Frank Dukes, and Sounwave on the album. Described by Swift as a “love letter to love”, Lover celebrates the ups and downs of love and incorporates brighter, more cheerful tones, departing from the dark sounds of its predecessor, Reputation (2017). Musically, it is a pop, pop rock, electropop and synth-pop record that contains influences of country, dream pop, pop punk, funk and R&B.

I find Lover an intriguing album. What does one expect from a Taylor Swift album? How much can it really break ‘new’ ground? I think Nick Catucci captures the feeling best by describing it as an “evolutionary rather than revolutionary.” There are moments when it feels like a cover of Ryan Adam’s covering Taylor Swift, other times it feels like continuation of the pop journey of 1989. I am not sure if the album is ‘good enough’ to paper over the cracks in her persona. However, I feel that how one responds to music is somewhat personal. Overall, I think Kitty Empire sums the album up best when she suggests that, “an album so long is bound to be a mixed bag.”
Listened Norman Fucking Rockwell – Wikipedia from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Rather than hooking the listener in with sweet choruses and succinct pop songs, Norman Fucking Rockwell is an album which washes over like waves lapping the beach. Before long, you are lost. I think Sam Sodomsky sums it up best, saying,

The album weaves love songs for self-destructive poets, psychedelic jam sessions, and even a cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” through arrangements that harken back to the Laurel Canyon pop of the ’60s and ’70s. Throughout, Lana has never sounded more in tune to her own muse—or less interested in appealing to the masses.

In an interview with Joe Coscarelli, Del Rey provides some insights into the choice of Jack Antonoff and why it is time for protest songs. There is something ironic about Antonoff’s inclusion. Some may call out another failure to present anything original, yet Del Rey’s raw honesty seems prime for collaboration with the ‘superproducer’ (what is a superproducer?) As Antonoff once stated in an interview with Zane Lowe:

I want to work with people because they think that they are geniuses, not because I want make the albums that they have already made

Ann Powers provides a more critical take on the album and Lana Del Rey.

Listened Google’s future city; the space-wide web; and how the ancients strategized for the future from Radio National

In this episode, we get an update on Google’s controversial proposal to take over the construction and regulation of a section of urban Toronto.

We learn about how the ancient Athenians used Tragedy to guide their future decision-making and why their approach is useful today.

And, the space-wide web – the rush to develop low-orbit satellites to secure the future of the Internet.

Antony Funnell speaks with Blayne Haggart about where things are at with Sidewalk Labs. Google’s pitch for more freedoms and land comes across like a marketing move where if the Canadian government pulls out of the deal then it is because of the change in request, rather than a failure to fulfil the initial promise.
Listened The death of iTunes… kind of: Chips with Everything podcast from the Guardian

The Guardian’s UK tech editor, Alex Hern, joins Jordan Erica Webber to discuss the imminent end to the iTunes store as we know it. They also take a nostalgic look at some of the other software we’ve lost

Alex Hern talks with Jordan Erica Webber about the division of iTunes into a series of smaller applications. I wonder if rather than ‘death’ this is better considered as an evolution. Google Reader on the other hand was an example of death as Google did not replace the application with anything else.
Listened Twenty-five years later, Sleater-Kinney are still making vital music from The Economist

“The Centre Won’t Hold”, their ninth studio album, is their most experimental yet

There were two things that led me the to Sleater-Kinney’s new album: Song Exploder0 and St. Vincent’s production. I have never really listened to Sleater-Kinney before. I really like this album sonically. There is a fine line between the blend of clean and dirty sounds.

I would place this album between Depeche Mode and St. vincent

Listened Ep. 135 Mary L. Gray “Invisible by Design” + Betaworks Studios Keynote – Team Human

Playing for Team Human today, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Mary L. Gray.

Mary L. Gray joins Team Human to share her research into the invisible human workforce that powers the web. In her new co-authored book, Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass, Gray explores the assumptions made about the content moderators, proofreaders and AI-trainers that make the internet seem so smart. Despite the common idea that this low-paid workforce is exploited, this episode shows the ways in which the ‘ghost economy’ might actually provide opportunity for those who choose to participate in it.

This week’s Team Human also includes a monologue recorded live from Betaworks Studio’s recent event on humane technology, “Human After All – Humanistic Technology for a New Era”.

You can find out more about Mary’s work at: https://ghostwork.info

Mary L. Gray discusses Ghost Work and the invisible workforce that makes the web we know work.
Listened Waleed Aly’s songs we should talk about from ABC Radio

Waleed Aly is the smartest guy in the room. Whether hosting The Project, writing editorials for major newspapers, or completing his PhD, it feels there’s nothing he’s not good at, and the Australian public agrees; he won the Gold Logie in 2016. We’re used to seeing Waleed dissect and make sense of the news every day, but sometimes you get a glimpse into his musical heart and you can see that it beats so strong. When I finally got Waleed to Take 5 I gave him the theme “Songs We Should Talk About”, a play on the title of his wonderful segment from The Project. Unsurprisingly, Waleed put a lot of thought into his songs… He sent me three separate lists of five songs (not to be changed in any way, but all telling a different story). The one we went with gifted such a rich conversation. Waleed is someone who can completely dissect a song cerebrally but also show how his connection to it changes given the emotion, and the time he’s hearing it. This conversation is something else. From Lily Allen to Public Enemy to Pink Floyd, this will make you believe in the broad and beautiful power of song.

Lily Allen – ‘Smile’

Public Enemy – ‘911 Is a Joke’

Queen – ‘The March of the Black Queen’

Billy Joel – ‘Allentown’

Pink Floyd – ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’

Waleed Aly shares five songs we should talk about with Zan Rowe. Deep and eclectic as ever. I cannot believe how many projects he is a part of and had no idea of his musical roots associated with Robot Child.
Listened Sigur Rós presents Liminal Sleep, by Sigur Rós from Liminal

9 track album

Described as a ‘playlist’, this album feels more like an experience than anything that you can necessarily put your finger on. As the website describes:

Liminal, both live and locally, takes the listener to a place neither here nor there; a “liminal” space.

Place between Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II and M83’s soundtrack for Oblivion.

Listened ‘The End of Forgetting’: Chips with Everything podcast from the Guardian

This week, Jordan Erica Webber talks to Kate Eichhorn about her new book The End of Forgetting: Growing up with Social Media, which explores the dangers facing young people who may find it difficult to distance themselves from their pasts, long into the future.

Kate Eichorn talks about the impact of social media on refugees and growing up. We no longer allow children what Erik Ericson’s calls a psychosocial moratorium. Sometimes the memory is generated by somebody else, such as parents and ‘sharenting‘. What is overlooked in all this is how participation online is contributing in digital labour. Associated with this are the profits and data mining associated with platform capitalism. I am reminded of Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt’s call for empathy when responding to digital missteps. Clive Thompson also discusses the impact of technology on memory in Chapter Two of Smarter Than You Think.
Listened Stephen Wolfram recounts the entire history of mathematics in 90 minutes from Boing Boing

This is a fascinating lecture, and it also epitomizes Wolfram in that it is a magnificent feat that would have benefited immensely from editorial reflection. Wolfram announces that’s he’s giving the lecture off the top of his head, and as far as that goes, it’s incredibly impressive. And yet…it makes you wonder, if he had actually prepared a detailed crib or even written the speech out, how much more fluid would it have been? Would the transitions be smoother? Would he spend less time fumbling for names or dates, or backtracking?

Stephen Wolfram takes a walk through the history of Mathematics. This is a fascinating ramble through time and a reminder of the way in which the present is built on the discoveries of the past. It is interesting to think of this alongside Joel Speranza’s breakdown of mathematical ideas.
Listened Future doom and the rose-coloured past from Radio National

Why do we see the past through rose-coloured glasses, but not the future? Psychologists tell us that human beings have a tendency to be fearful and pessimistic about the future, while simultaneously romanticising the past.

If the theory is true, it might help explain the difficulties we often have in making informed decisions and effectively planning for the future.

And it could give us an insight into why populist politics is on the rise.

 

Guests

Carter Phipps – Author and Managing Director of the non-profit Institute for Cultural Evolution

Dr Steven Pinker – Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

Dr Art Markman – Professor of Psychology and Marketing, University of Texas at Austin, Executive Director IC2 Institute

Dr Roy Baumeister – Professor of Psychology, University of Queensland

Antony Funnell leads an investigation into our pessimistic outlook on the world. Steven Pinker traces our tendency towards the news and negativity back to the Hebrew prophets. Roy Baumeister suggests that our tendency to undervalue the future and celebrate the past is a defence mechanism. Art Markman talks about the dangers of our tendency towards revolution, rather than evolution. This reminds me of an education debate from a few years ago. One of the ideas that closed the podcast was:

Whether you believe you can or can’t, you’re right.

I was intrigued by Pinker’s data dashboard, but concerned about the objective truth provided by data. For example, the Grattan Institute recently released a report stating that the prosperity of young people is going backwards. Would this then be a point of focus, but not a dire prediction?

Listened Episode 166: Bon Iver,Song Exploder | Bon Iver from Song Exploder

Justin Vernon founded the band Bon Iver in 2006. Bon Iver’s released four albums and won two Grammys, including Best New Artist.

The most recent album i,i came out in August 2019, and in this episode, Justin breaks down a song from it called “Holyfields,.” He’s joined by producers Chris Messina and Brad Cook. We spoke to him in July, from his studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where the song started. They finished it at Sonic Ranch studio in Tornillo, Texas, on the border between the US and Mexico.

In this episode, Justin Vernon reflects on his use of electronic instruments and the inspirations to his music. This includes a short discussion of the use of The Messina, a synthesiser developed by Chris Messina.