Kurt Vonnegut: ‘Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God.’

Kurt Vonnegut: 'Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God.'

“Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God. It is so extraordinarily full of magic, and in tough times of my life I can listen to music and it makes such a difference.”

Kurt Vonnegut

You can hear Kurt Vonnegut repeat this quote in the beginning of 1 Giant Leap track ‘Daphne’ below. You might feel a slight prickle the skin.

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The internet could save your life

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The internet could save your life because it allows you to skip the process of being picked. Anyone can be an author, musician, photographer without waiting to partner up with a label or a distributor.

Standing out in a sea of DIY artists is the real challenge. Ryan Holiday argues that most people should not publish a book. But why not?

The internet encourages possibility and weirdness.

Your work, even if you’re a so-called ‘amafessional,’ is doing nothing to get in the way of die-hard professionals who make a living off their art. Just because your creations don’t belong in the Louvre shouldn’t hold you back from showing others what you made. The market generally favors the marketing budgets anyway.

Mediocrity never hurt anybody. If you really want to go pro, you’ll spend the extra time to improve and seek the feedback that makes you better. Everything good comes from practice, trial and error, allowing your creativity to pour and shimmer.

Remember, Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime, and to his brother. With a leap of faith, casual work can turn into your most important work and stand the test of time.

John Lee Hooker ‘John Henry’

“For a long moment “John Henry” becomes a song about music. Hooker shoots out a reverberating RINNNGGG! in front of that old hammer, and soon people are coming from miles around to hear it, but then that too disappears. A gray, foggy rhythm floats over Hooker’s broken riffs and his tapping foot: nothing holds. The performance is so mesmerizingly abstract you’re not sure John Henry ever existed—not the man, but the song.”

‘John Henry’

Newsletter: ‘The Best for the Most for the Least’

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Two Men Playing Chess Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946): The MET

web gems

1

Frank Gehry And The Walt Disney Concert Hall

Frank Gehry was at the bottom of the shortlist of candidates considered to design the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in 1988. His profile made him the odd man out for the job. But he kept his creative confidence: “It’s as though people expect you to blow one note all the time, and I guess a lot of people can only blow one note. But there are people who can blow two or three notes, and I guess I’m one of them.”

The selecting committee was looking for someone who “still had his greatest work before him” and who met four design criteria. Gehry’s stood out, most notably for his the populist-looking garden lobby, “the living room of the city,” which connected “all major parts of the building as well as to the outdoors and the street.”

getty.edu

2

Tim Ferriss: Why you should define your fears instead of your goals

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality,” said Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger who help spread the seeds of stoic philosophy. Life hacker, author, and motivational speaker Tim Ferriss is one of the modern day followers of stoicism. Watch Tim Ferriss expound on the subject in his first Ted Talk, in what he says is his most important and vulnerable presentation to date.

Ted.com

The Fashion Outlaw Dapper Dan

“How would he feel if that Louis Vuitton pouch became a whole outfit?” remarked the Harlem fashion designer Dapper Dan, aka Daniel Day. And so he made custom clothing for famed sprinter Diane Dixon and rappers Eric B and Rakim, going on to remix all types of designs from the world’s most renowned brands before the fashion houses shut down his operations.

Dapper Dan’s efforts mimicked the sampling culture which helped give rise to hip-hop at the time. Said Elle Magazine director Samira Nasr, “Sampling was taking existing music and slicing it to recreate new sounds for original lyrics. Dap was sampling in a way. He was taking existing fabrications and breathing new life and beauty into them.”

nytimes.com

4

Open-minded people have a different visual perception of reality

Close-minded people literally see and experience the world differently. Our vision is tied to our creativity, particularly our ability to combine images. Says scientist Anna Antinori who conducted a recent perceptual processing test called ‘binocular rivalry‘ at the University of Melbourne: “Open people appear to have a more flexible gate and let through more information than the average person.”

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5

The Best for the Most for the Least

Charles and Ray Eames foretold a society of dizzying pace even before the inundation of mobile screens, interactive billboards, and social media feeds that are so normal today. “Their most ambitious multimedia work pushed the capacity of the medium and its platform, as when they designed Think for IBM’s Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair: a spectacular, twenty-two-screen live lecture about problem solving, and America’s first taste of information overload.

parisreview.com


digging in the crates

Episode 102

  1. Laurence Guy – Intro
  2. Shanti Celeste – Make Time
  3. Madou – Nowhere Else
  4. Hanna – Stranger
  5. Benjamin Muñoz – In Coming Months

LISTEN


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I spend a lot of time digging the web for cool stuff and remixing them here. If you dig the blog, please consider making a donation or buying a book. A cup of coffee to helping out with hosting goes a long way.

The music we play


Vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, and MP3s were at one point mass produced. They were placeholders, meant to expire at the mercy of technological change and evolving listening habits.

So if we take the stream, a file-type that’s in infinite cloud-based inventory, what type of file emerges next?

The next development will focus on the quality of sound, just as mobile cameras improve the quality of resolution. And like photography’s countless editing tools, we’ll be able to work backward to tweak or filter out the type of sound we want to hear.

For instance, we can manipulate music files so they project a sound mimicking vinyl’s surface noise. We reshape it, like putting a black and white or red preset on an image.

The next evolution of music is therefore a personalized sensory experience, whether you want to hear sound in its cracked, hissy, compressed, raw state, or in its mass-marketed radio format.

Music will always be the “killer app” that people make their own.

Newsletter: Emotional agility

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Web Gems

WHEN IT COMES TO OUR LIVES ON SOCIAL MEDIA, ‘THERE’S ALWAYS ANOTHER STORY’

We usually post things that we wish were, not as they are. Social media presents the best of the best, an online Truman Show that excludes the beautiful struggle in between. At the very least, social media is pseudo-news that often omits context. “There’s always another story,” indeed.

Listen to Hidden Brain: Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook

EMOTIONAL AGILITY: GET UNSTUCK 

Our inner dialogue is all over the place. The harder we try to tame the monkey mind, the crazier it gets. But instead of anxiety loop, we can “step back and ask: “Is this useful?”

“During the average day, most of us speak around sixteen thousand words. But our thoughts – our internal voices – produce thousands more.”

Recommended book: Susan David Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life

  • Bonus Read: Dutch soccer player Meijer Stad survived Nazi execution with ten bullets in his body.  Read this fascinating story. ⚽ 
  • Video: Watch health psychologist Kelly Mcgonigal explain how to make stress your friend in her Ted Talk.

CHAPPELLE BREAKS DOWN THE MILLENNIAL CONDITION

Have we grown immune to catastrophe?

Perhaps Huxley was right: we’re so inundated with screens and breaking news that we forget to care. The long-term consequences for such insouciance mean that evil can seep through unperturbed.

EXPERTISE MATTERS

“Having equal rights does not mean having equal talents, equal abilities, or equal knowledge.”

We’re all created equal but we’re not all experts. Experts are the hedgehogs, the servants; they do one thing well. They’re indispensable like doctors. Yet, the internet came along and unleashed a free for all of know-it-alls.

Recommended book: Tom Nichols’s The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters:

GET HAPPY: FOUR WELL-BEING WORKOUTS

Happiness doesn’t come easily to everyone but thankfully there are some exercises. Bicep curl you brain with these mental exercises:

  1. Identify Strengths: “Write down a story about a time when you were at your best.”
  2. Find the good: “Set aside 10 minutes before you go to bed each night to write down three things that went really well that day.”
  3. Make a Gratitude Visit
  4. Reply Constructively

QUOTES I’M CHEWING ON

“The camera is just as capable of lying as the typewriter.” — Bertolt Brecht, War Primer (1955)

“If you suppress the spirit of spontaneity, you will destroy the true democratic spirit of revolution which has to be unpredictable.” — In Our Time Podcast on Rosa Luxemburg

“If I do something what I do not understand, I force myself to think about it in my dream, and thus find a solution.” — Tesla

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

“Some of us are turtles; we crawl and struggle along, and we haven’t maybe figured it out by the time we’re 30. But the turtles have to keep on walking.” — John Goodenough, To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old

“Don’t get caught doing more than you need to but less than you want to.” – Seth Godin


Digging In The Crates

Flako is Dario Rojo Guerra, a Berlin-based producer known for his helter-skelter beats. I first discovered him in 2010 with his jaw-dropping Pharcyde sample on the track ‘Love.’

Now releasing music under his rebranded name Natureboy, Flako has done some reworks most notably with Malian Wassoulou Oumou Sangaré’s track ‘Yere Faga.’

LISTEN

Kara-Lis Coverdale is “one of the most exciting young composers in North America,” proclaims The Guardian. It’s not hard to understand why.

Her new 22-minute track ‘Grafts’ is gorgeous, rolling in hypnotic piano layers and echoes, “never fully coming to a resolution,” as Boomkat describes it, “Lingering on like a slowly dispersing plume of smoke.”

LISTEN

After a long series of original mixtapes, Thrupence has crafted a debut album called Ideas of Aesthetics.  The nine-track album represents a collection of songs he’s produced over the last six years, including two collaborations with his brother Edward on vocals. “It has become a diary of places I’ve lived and people I’ve met over this time,” says the artist.

‘Forest On The Sun’ and ‘Rinse Repeat’ are my two favorite tracks on the album, mixing elements of soft piano and choppy electronic beats that’ll make you nod your head and smile 😉

LISTEN

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Newsletter: The Coltrane Doctrine 🎷

Web Gems

THE COLTRANE DOCTRINE

John Coltrane and Einstein shared interests in mathematical principles. In response to the Coltrane doctrine (image below), Thelonious Monk replied: “All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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+ Now that ⚾ is back, here’s a little-known fact on how the game influenced jazz music.

WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK

“I never sleep because sleep is the cousin of death,” spits Nas in his Illmatic track ‘N.Y. State of Mind.’ What he may have overlooked is that sleep, and indeed rest can make you even more productive. It’s a canard to think that all successful people do is just work. Charles Darwin and Ernest Hemingway were slackers.

THE SPIRITUAL, REDUCTIONIST CONSCIOUSNESS OF CHRISTOF KOCH

Somewhere upon the way of evolution, humans lucked out. We developed language. We had hands that allowed us to manipulate our environment. Says American neuroscientist Christof Koch, “human civilization is all about tools, whether it’s a little stone, an arrow, a bomb, or a computer.”

TOKYO’S HOTTEST NEW DJ IS THIS 82-YEAR-OLD DUMPLING CHEF

She makes dumplings by day and spins records by night. Check out 82-year-old Japanese woman DJ Dumpling. Watch the video.

Poll: What’s your jukebox preference: iTunes or Spotify?

WHO CAN NAME THE BIGGER NUMBER?

Scientists have shown again and again that the mind, like a piece of software, is elastic. We are the sum of a hundred billion neurons that strengthen through knowledge and experience. Our skull evolves within a gooey flesh.

But there has to be a cap on human acuity, surely. At some point, exponents can’t go any further. We can’t get any smarter, nor pinpoint the largest number which is infinity and beyond. Even “Moore’s Law peters out, “as microchip components reach the atomic scale and conventional lithography falters,” says computer scientist Scott Aaronson.

DR. GABOR MATE ON WHO/WHAT IS NORMAL

You’re either left brained or right. You’re either normal or mental. Rather, it’s a continuum of both. The stigma that goes along with differentness makes you an outsider, yet these ‘weirdos’ are exactly the ones crazy enough to change the world. Said the American mathematician John Nash: “I wouldn’t have had good scientific ideas if I had thought more normally.”

As Physician Dr. Gabor Mate explains in his interview, maybe we should make more space for those different to express themselves rather than hide in anguish.

Watch

THE STREETS OF PARIS

“Go out into the streets of Paris and pick out a cab driver. He will look to you very much like every other cab driver. But study him until you can describe him so that he is seen in your description to be an individual, different from every other cab driver in the world.” — De Maupassant

+ Speaking of cars, “Americans are used to cars the way that fish are used to water.” Ezra Klein explains why we should take a cue from Barcelona.


Digging In The Crates

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STUFF is a five piece instrumental band from Antwerp, Belgium. ‘Strata’ is the first track from the band’s second album old dreams new planets due out April 28th.

The song vacillates from broken jazz before weaving into a funky, electronic jungle. Says the quintet’s SoundCloud page, “it makes you doubt whether you’re at a rave or at a fusion jazz concert in some late 80’s basement.”

LISTEN

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Noga Erez is an electronic music producer from Tel Aviv. ‘Off the Radar’ is one of the lead singles from her debut album of the same name.

Noga’s electro-pop vibes will most certainly remind you of MIA’s adventurism. Says the artist, “have this idea of giving people moments of thought and inspiration, and at the same time offering escapism and fun.”

LISTEN

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With jungle nods to LTJ Bukem comes Mysterious of a Blunt, presumably an alias of Berlin-based techno producer Orson Wells.

Here’s how he describes his music-making process in an interview with EdHid:

 “It’s somehow a meditative process immersing yourself in a basic loop and trying to add selectively more elements based on your experiences you have collected. I didn’t have a mentor or did a programming study. Everything I do is the result of an autodidactic approach.”

LISTEN


For more interesting reads and new music, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or the Twitter feed. You can also subscribe to the blogs: wellsbaum.blog and bombtune.comIf you dig the blogs and want to support them, make a donation, buy a book, or email this post to a friend.

Collecting music in 2017

iTunes worked because it was essentially a spreadsheet where you could dump all your music and have it categorized by the basics of searchability: artist name, song name, album name, year, and so forth.

However, while iTunes excelled in organizing metadata, it wasn’t the place you searched for new music. Niche MP3 stores like Bandcamp and Boomkat, music blogs like Stereogum, and SoundCloud And YouTube we’re the go-to online record shops.

The music ecosystem is still fractured to this day. You’re never going to hear a track and play it back all in the same place. You platform-shift, finding a tune on YouTube but end up playing it back on Spotify where you keep your entire collection organized, or aspects of it.

The irony of paying for an all you can eat streaming subscription service is that you’re renting the music while you owned MP3s. The same can be said for Kindle books. Unless you own physical or the digital source file, you own nothing.

While music discovery is site agnostic — it doesn’t matter where or how you dig up new tracks — music collecting is anything but perfect. There is still no one-way to store and organize your collection. All of these MP3s of bootleg recordings and live shows you gathered back in the day won’t have a home until you spend hours or days uploading them into a cloud service.

The process of music discovery, collecting, and listening happens on an array of applications and a mix of file types. If you’re passionate about crate-digging, that’s just the way it is.

Lacing the blogs 

Image via Mikhail Pavstyuk

I see blogs as projects for unique avenues of thinking.

This blog is my thinking blog. It focuses on what I’m reading and chewing on. It’s a collection provocative ideas and observations.

My music blog bombtune.com is like my music shelf. It’s an ongoing library of new music finds from the current year. The post art is just as significant as the music. I like to dig around on the artist sites and social networks to select images of the musician. The stream — whether it’s from Bandcamp or SoundCloud, contains the song/album art.

My fadesin.com blog focuses on creative ways to respond to prompts. WordPress does a great job in galvanizing its community by inspiring people to show their angle on a variety of topics and photography challenges. For the latter, rummage through my Google Photos to see what works.

Meanwhile, my Tumblr blog is more or less an aggregator. I cross-post there but also play natively within the platform by posting quotes and resharing cool GIFs from others. I also use my Instagram to dice up the array of posting.

Nevertheless, all of feeds tie together. They are ways of seeing, of which nothing becomes clear until I write it down and publish it.

“Blogs are like ham­mers. They are tools for building stuff.”

— Hugh MacLeod

Blogs permit me to show my work. The writing can be repetitive and thematic, which often means I’m trying to nail down the nugget or UBI (unifying big idea) of my approach. But at the end of the day, I want to say ‘this is what I made today.’

In short, blogging is another way to connect the dots on screen.

Knowing it all exists

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The internet reintroduces lost objects. Everything from rare reggae recordings to out of print books finds its way online to be consumed for the first time.

Only physical objects like pieces of art retain their scarcity, and therefore their value. But digitization means one copy makes infinite shelf life.

Sharing bytes of knowledge amplifies the value of the original asset. What’s mine is your’s, even if your copy is just a jpeg.

Living in digital format ensures permanency and shareability. Mass production begets mass consumption, all without a factory and a warehouse.

Newsletter: Continuous partial attention

web gems

    1. More than a hundred years ago, the father of modern neuroscience, Santiago Ramón y Cajal used his skills as an artist to illustrate the neuron doctrine, proving that information is the output of messy internal wiring provided by the brain’s chemical synchronicity.
    2. Posted three years ago but this is still one of my favorite John Peel quotes. #classic.
    3. “Language is used every day, and easily becomes shopworn, and it takes a poet to recall it to its freshness…Music is not as shopworn, and thus may cut straight to the heart.” —Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on On Anger, Disgust, and Love
    4. It’s the constant state of becoming. It’s both liberating and oppressive. It counts the ticks, which oscillate into the currency of modern life. Time is of the essence, ticking away… Good read: Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation
    5. Quotes I’m chewing on: “Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur.” — Muriel Spark + “Creativity and ego cannot go together.” —Buddhist Chef Jeong Kwan
    6. The Mathematician ➕➖➗✖️ + Amazing illustrations by Timno Kuilder
    7. Hangry at The Arsenal

digging in the crates

    1. Andy Mac is a Bristol-based electronic music producer. While his past solo projects focused on deep house and broken beat, his most recent release Diving Bird sees him pay respects to Bristol’s dub heritage. | LISTEN
    2. Italy’s Clap! Clap! (aka Cristiano Crisci) continues his genre-smashing success on his new album  A Thousand Skies, out now on Black Acre. Once again, he takes us on a sonic journey, wanting us to imagine a “young girl’s journey through the stars.” | LISTEN
    3. Gulu singing legend and ‘Acholi folk pop’ pioneer Otim Alpha teamed up with London producer Jesse Hackett and multi-instrumentalist Albert Ssempeke to produce Ennanga Vision“deconstructed musical forms from the kingdoms of Uganda.” | LISTEN
    4. 20-year-old Scottish producer Sam Gellaitry is back with the beats on his new single ‘Jungle Waters,’ dropping on the Escapism III album this April. | LISTEN

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Newsletter: Humans are broken machines

web gems

    1. “We are always having flashes of non-robotic consciousness.” Colin Wilson thought the left brain was too analytical, too sober, and that if we could unlock the right brain hemisphere we could unleash an ‘imagination explosion.’ Highly recommended read:
      Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson
    2. One of my favorite graphic artists, Beeple, has been making incredible cinema4d art lately
    3. “Check sources. Consider what wasn’t said. Ask questions. Understand that every storyteller has a bias – and so does every platform.” Read It’s not Orwell, it’s Brave New World
    4. If you’re on fire for something, be prepared to find the nearest extinguisher. Positive thinking may come back to bite you.
    5. “Most people are on the world, not in it.” — John Muir, a naturalist, known today as the “Father of the National Parks
    6. “The algorithms…push consumers to what is popular rather than send them off to explore obscure parts of the tail.” Mass entertainment in the digital age is still about blockbusters, not endless choice
    7. Children sprint into adulthood without having explored all their curiosity. Read High-Pressure Parenting

digging in the crates

      1. SpectraSoul is Brighton-based drum n bass duo David Kennett and Jack Stevens. Having released music on the iconic Metalheadz label and dBridge’s Exit Music label, they have gained a reputation for producing deep, beautiful, soulful stepping grooves. Their newest track ‘Second Chance’ is no exception. | LISTEN
      2. Julien Marchal is a composer from Bordeaux, France. Insight II is a follow-up to the initial 2015 album of the same name. The track ‘Insight XX’ rings with a beautiful, smooth piano theme that “takes the listener inside the piano,” he says. | LISTEN
      3. Mic Mills is an electronic music producer from Adelaide, Australia. ‘Pig of a Man’ is his latest belter to drop on The Globalise LP, out February 7th. | LISTEN
      4. From the fringes of dub music, comes Abu AMA, an electronic producer from West Germany. The ambient textures on the track ‘Kufi Wood Art’ typify the kind of disorientating locked grooves that put you in an experimental place. | LISTEN
      5. DJ Heure is an electronic producer from Adelaide, Australia. ‘Pensively’ is one of the latest house gems to drop off on his EP for Church label’s new imprint, All My Thoughts. | LISTEN

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Newsletter: Evil is a fungus

web gems

  1. Evil is a fungus. It feeds off thoughtlessness and organized lying. It destroys the marketplace of ideas. Newness starts in forgiving, public places. Eerie listen: Hannah Arendt on Totalitarianism
  2. “Boredom might spark creativity because a restless mind hungers for stimulation.” – Clive Thompson
  3. Words, Not Voices: “Raise your words not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” — Rumi
  4. They drop heart levels. They alleviate anxiety. They deaden the fear by practicing it beforehand, strengthening confidence. Read The power of rituals: they calm nerves and boost performance
  5. We all share complex inner worlds. But how and what we think often conflicts with how we act. Such paradox calls for change. Read Shakespeare’s Characters Show Us How Personal Growth Should Happen
  6. George Orwell’s 1984 is an Amazon top-seller. That’s not doublethink; those are the facts.

digging in the crates

  1. Letherette is an electronic duo from Wolverhampton, England. They released the boogie down track ‘Wootera‘ back in November. The mellow dab track ‘Triosys’ appears on their new album Where Have All The People Gone?a 42-minute mix of previously unreleased music. Thanks again Ninja Tune. | LISTEN
  2. German electronic artist Orson Wells ‘Blend’ provides a flashback to early 1990s Prodigyesque techno, with a proper step toward vibrating house music. According to the Bandcamp page, the album artwork is a hodgepodge of stickers “found in car liveries.” | LISTEN
  3. The collaboration between Canadian electronic musicians David Louis & Stranjah is yet another big release from UK drum n bass label, Repertoire. | LISTEN 
  4. William Onyeabor was a Nigerian musician and businessman. He was known as “The Chief” in southeast Nigeria, where he built “the greatest record manufacturing business in all of West Africa.” He released nine funky electronic albums in total, all pressed at his own studio. | LISTEN
  5. London-based producer Slim teamed up with up and comer soulstress Ella Mae to drop some fresh new beats on the Banoffee Pies Records label. | LISTEN

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