Merzbow Inspires Podcast Reflections
A new underground music podcast has set itself a mighty challenge: to listen to and discuss one-by-one the albums of Japanese noise godfather Merzbow. Each episode of Merzcast sees Greh Holger of Chondritic Sound and another musician or noise fan sit down together to absorb a particular album by Masami Akita and reflect on it afterwards. […]
The podcast episodes are lengthy and detailed, with the contributors breaking down the album track by track, dropping thoughts on equipment, effects, track titles and more. Pictures posted online show sheets of paper with notes on each track written during the listening sessions …
I love the idea of this podcast. Merzbow is a tough swallow for most and it might be a challenge to keep the podcast fresh over hundreds of brutal noise releases. I’ll check out at least a couple of episodes and am curious how it’ll shake out.
I’m intrigued by the idea of a podcast diving into a singular sonic oeuvre. I’m sure something like this has been done before but I think there are unexplored ways to combine the album-listening experience with the podcast format. Of course, there are music clearance issues to consider. But the podcast doesn’t have to actually contain the music. How about a podcast host telling the listener when to start an album at home, and then the discussion is edited to coincide with songs as they play in real time?
We Would Call That a Demon
On a fascinating episode of Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human podcast, “technologist, futurist, inventor, and mage” Mark Pesce has a fascinating observation about social media’s knack for social engineering:
What is Facebook doing? It’s watching your responses to build a simulation – simulacra, really – of you and then it can check against that simulacra what your emotional state is. Okay, so, it’s built an A.I. that can essentially read and tamper with your emotional state. If this were the 14th century and I talked about evoking something that could then tamper with you emotionally and that you would feed energy that it would feed back to you in a different form – we would call that a demon.
There’s also a meatier-than-usual post on Kottke.org by Tim Carmody about where the web went wrong and how the spirit of blogging might point to the desired way forward:
A lot of the efforts to reshape social media, or to walk away from it in favor of RSS feeds or something else, are really attempts to recapture those utopian elements that were active in the zeitgeist ten, fifteen, and twenty years ago. They still exercise a powerful hold over our collective imagination about what the internet is, and could be, even when they take the form of dashed hopes and stifled dreams.
These days I’m thinking about this stuff all of the time. I know I’m hardly the only one.
Blocked on Spotify: The Public Has Spoken
With an upcoming update, Spotify will let you block music from any artist you don’t like throughout the app. This means it will block music from that artist on your personal library, playlists, automatically curated playlists, charts, radios, and everything else. In fact, you won’t be able to manually play music from an artist you’ve blocked even if you wanted to — and you’d have to unblock an artist before you can play a certain track from them.
I’ve seen this being sold as a way to no longer hear artists that annoyingly keep popping up in algorithmic playlists — the feature is touted as “much-requested” and I think that’s originally why it was requested — but it’s obvious this is Spotify’s way of dealing with deplorable artists on the platform. It’s a passing of the buck, if you will, after Spotify’s disastrous attempt at self-censorship.
I can’t say I blame Spotify for putting this decision in an individual user’s hands. At least they’re responding and doing something. Knowing Spotify, I’m sure there’s some data-gathering at play, too. It would be in the platform’s best interest to learn of artists that are being blocked en masse by its users. Then Spotify would be able to quietly downplay those artists in playlists and features. The public has spoken.
Update: Another take, Spotify’s New Mute Feature Is a Patronizing Misstep
Word of the Day: Chimping
A candidate for ‘word of the day,’ via Shutter Muse:
What is Chimping?
Chimping is the act of looking at your camera’s LCD screen as soon as you have taken a photo. The term is jokingly derived from the noises that photographers often make when they see a shot they like on the back of the camera (oooh
ohh), followed sometimes by “ ape like” hand motions for others to take a look.
I look forward to my first opportunity to use this phrase in the wild. Also, it must be noted that Shutter Muse doesn’t necessarily consider ‘chimping’ a bad thing.
Put It Into the Fire Without Reading Any Farther
Brain Pickings reproduced a fan letter that Bram Stoker wrote to Walt Whitman and I’m going to steal its opening text for the greatest cold email template ever:
If you are the man I take you to be you will like to get this letter. If you are not I don’t care whether you like it or not and only ask that you put it into the fire without reading any farther. But I believe you will like it.
Immune to Misinformation
I’m happy that John Green is doing this Crash Course series on Navigating Digital Information. This is important and I look forward to all the episodes.
John recently gave up all social media for a year. Here’s his first-day video and here’s his one-month follow-up. In the
It’s Hierarchy in Disguise
Via The New Yorker, last night I read this thought-provoking profile of Elizabeth Anderson, a philosopher of growing renown in that male-dominated field. She’s working to disconnect the inverse relationship between freedom and equality. That is, the idea that freedom is expanded at the expense of equality and vice versa. I never thought about the ‘left vs. right’ debate boiling down to that underlying assumption. From the article:
If individuals exercise freedoms, conservatives like to say, some inequalities will naturally result. Those on the left basically agree—and thus allow constraints on personal freedom in order to reduce inequality. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin called the opposition between equality and freedom an “intrinsic, irremovable element in human life.” It is our fate as a society, he believed, to haggle toward a balance between them. […]
The trouble was that many people, picking up on libertarian misconceptions, thought of freedom only in the frame of their own actions. If one person’s supposed freedom results in someone else’s subjugation, that is not actually a free society in action. It’s hierarchy in disguise.
The piece is a long one (Pocket estimates 38 minutes), but it’s worth the read, sometimes heady but entertaining throughout: The Philosopher Redefining Equality
On a side note, mid-way through the article there’s a New Yorker cartoon that’s the most bizarre one I’ve ever seen.