Thursday, January 28

Faking it

A share regarding our culture's obsession with aestheticized simulation, via a quote from John Mayer:"I'm not diversifying in terms of selling anything. I'm not selling 'John Mayer: the cologne'. If I did it would just smell like sausage and sleep. I don't look at my fans and think, 'Wow, they really like what I do musically. Imagine if I could get 60 more dollars out of them!' Who out there really goes, 'You know what, I just fucking love perfumes. I always have since I was a kid. If I weren't a pop singer, I'd be a perfumer?"

Sunday, January 24

"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey."

Nothing can compare to the loss of human life. In the coming months in Haiti, the loss of cultural symbols in the wake of disaster will also be a sensitive concept to be considered. For nations that have suffered natural disasters to the degree that Haiti suffered recently, the structures, objects and symbols of nationhood that have been damaged or destroyed represented a common conceptualization of what it means to be a member of that nation, regardless of personal aesthetic preference, political views for or against, or socio-economic standing. The New York Times ran an article this morning detailing the extent of that loss for Haiti. During the inevitable days of reconstruction, it should be interesting to follow how a nation unfortunately wiped clean of its historical representations chooses to redefine them.

Tuesday, January 12

With musical intent

Gordon Monahan is a sound artist and composer based in Toronto and Berlin. The first two of the three pieces included in the 2007 edition of Drunken Boat are a beautiful crossover between percussion and musical instrument. Percussion is sometimes defined as an instrument with no discernible pitch or overtones, a noise instrument. The pieces included here vacillate between the repetition of a beat on a musical instrument and the more erratic sounds of drumming. Not quite a drum circle, not quite the order of a traditional composition, Monahan beautifully toes the line between the two. A nice Tuesday listening....

ps I love the above photo, which makes laptop-ism look downright rock star cool.

Tuesday, January 5

Monophonic accompaniment

"The melody to this one was heard aboard a British Airways Vickers Viscount about a hundred miles from Essen. It was one of those old four engine 'prop' jobs, that seemed to drone the passenger into a sort of hypnotic trance, only with this it was different. The droning, after a while, appeared to take the form of a tune, which mysteriously sounded like a church choir. So it was decided! We accosted the pilot, forced him to land in the nearest village and there; in a small pub, we finished the lyrics. Actually, it wasn't a village, it was the city, and it wasn't a pub, it was a hotel, and we didn't force the pilot to land in a field... but why ruin a perfectly good story?"

Monday, January 4

Viking mice

An article on the blog Spectre relates the subtle revelations of history that animal and plant companions to human communities inevitably relate. A narrative running parallel to our own, these symbiotes moved with human colonies, although I imagine without the intentions of altering the culturally landscape of their destination (although some did and have.) The head louse, for example, lives only in body hair; a subspecies, the body louse, lives only in clothing, and therefore must have diverged from its sister species when humans began to regularly don apparel. Rodents in the UK can trace their ancestry to Norwegian house mice, most likely stowaways on Viking ships. Dependent on dense human populations for food, the instances of these mice trace a path of human migration and settlement. "Like spies in the halls of history, our animal and plant companions hold lost secrets about our past. Through their genes we can trace the paths of ancient migrations and trade routes, and sometimes unpick the knot of successive waves of colonisation."