Media, poetry, articles, art, videos and random nuggets that tickle me.
reach your fingers into a saline breeze
and let your hand be brushed by the unseen;
there lives love—the death of possession,
for nowhere is it not.
watch a tire thrust its warm rubber
into the sandpaper of asphalt;
there lives love—unguarded from a trampling,
propelling all momentum.
pour oil into oil and venture to find where
one ends and the other begins;
there lives love—things at home because
they've found they’re always lost.
feel in your life for the years that went too fast,
for the years that went too slow;
there lives love—its weighted hug so ordinary,
the skin of things forgets its touch.
“John Perry Barlow was a master of all trades and jack of none. He was a wordsmith a songsmith, a tech wizard party maniac car mechanic and bona fide lady magnet of incomparable intellect. He was an angel and double agent, a prophet and pioneer of digital divination, a Master Mason, a Burning Man patron, an internet architect, and political maven, a psychedelic shaman, a counter culture statesman and a hero to great men. In the end he was still a Wyoming cowboy to the core, and above all else, he was a family man because to him nothing mattered more. John Perry Barlow, he set the bar high, with big boots to follow, and many will try, but no one will ever come close to the guy, for this grateful and graceful guru was one of a kind..” – Sean Ono Lennon
This is an excerpt from his 1997 interview for This American Life, one of many of his interviews I've listened to repeatedly. This one in particular helped define a very specific part of my insides. Enjoy.
I had so much fun making this. It's not not weird. Best in headphones. Enjoy!
10. Iron & Wine - Beast Epic
A voice and an acoustic guitar. If you ever question whether such a thing will tire, just listen to Iron & Wine. Sam Beam writes songs you know you’ve heard a thousand times the first time you hear them. And even though there’s more here than just a voice and an acoustic, it never loses touch of that core, that beautiful core. This album sounds like a return to roots: it’s been ten years since The Shepard’s Dog and the hero’s journey begun those years ago seems to have found its homecoming. There’s hardly a thing more pure than the sounds of home.
9. Four Tet - New Energy
Kieran Hebden is the only musician that can use sitars and dulcimers and flutes and nature sounds without making something that sounds like the nauseating background of a new-age self-help tape. That in and of itself is a remarkable achievement. As is usual for him, this is electronic music that exists in a world no one else has ever been. And the fact that New Energy is perhaps his most listenable album doesn’t signal a concession, but instead a new maturity. It takes discipline to refine towards simplicity.
8. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism
The voice is really close. Especially with headphones. It sounds like an omnidirectional angel is standing right here, singing in a falsetto so delicate I can hear the cave of its sinuses, which must be lined with silk. The strings and pads and guitar sounds never encroach upon that delicateness; they give it something to nuzzle up against. But more than for its sound, the brilliance of this album is in its contradiction: it’s a romance album about aromanticism. It’s a bunch of perfect love songs about not needing someone to love you. A statement of autonomy.
7. Brian Eno - Reflection
I’ll remember 2017 as the year I finally got ambient music. Like really learned to love it. And not only while lying down. Reflection is what sold me. It’s one song, if you can even call it a song, running fifty-four minutes. It’s sparse and alien and cold. But it’s human. And it’s creative—not only in the sense that it was created—but because whenever I listen to it, I’m creative. I can dream if this album is playing. And when the fifty-four minutes come to an end, it usually seems the only choice is to start over, and over, until I’m ready to stop dreaming.
6. Daigo Hanada - Ichiru
This album sounds like sunrise feels. Not the sunrise you stayed up for but the one you woke up for. There’s nothing but piano here. A dampened piano. A felt-dampened piano. Swelling in pastel light. And it’s so calm and quiet you can hear the hammers moving in the instrument, you can hear each of the hidden ticks of the marvelous wooden body that is a piano. The intimacy of that somehow makes this album sound more like a conversation than a concert. It’s compelling and hooky and it just like, you know, feeeeels good.
5. Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights
I didn’t really want to like this album. It’s devastating. But it wiggled its way inside my periphery and I found myself listening to nothing else for weeks. Those weeks started out pretty melancholic. Life was happening in a way I didn’t want it to. But then things changed and I was still listening when everything turned celebratory. I came to realize this album had more influence in that progression than I gave it credit for. There’s so much power, so much life, so much freedom in learning to celebrate the melancholic. At twenty-two years old, Julien Baker is already mastering this. And musically, she’s doing something new. I’ve never heard songs without percussion move so well.
4. Kelela - Take Me Apart
The best music is the best because it pushes the whole musical conversation forward. This album sealed the death of R&B. Not by avoiding its maxims, but by pushing them so far forward it might be impossible to look back. Take Me Apart is too unpredictable, too layered and too complex to be called R&B. It’s messy and disorganized, but it’s messy and disorganized in a tight, bulletproof container. Kelela holds your hand, just not while standing right next to you. She’ll be a step or two ahead the whole time, pulling you through an hour-long journey that leads from the familiar to the revolutionary.
3. Hundred Waters - Communicating
Synthesizers have knobs and filters and effects. The human voice does not. Right? Nicole Miglis makes me wonder. There’s nothing technological about her singing, but sometimes it sounds like she has knobs and filters and effects built into her throat. Her timbre goes up and down and around in miraculous ways. And so does the music that encircles her. Downbeats can be hard to find, but not in the way that feels manufactured or contrived. Machines are made to sound human. Listening to Hundred Waters is like looking at a clock so well-designed that you forget it was designed. And that’s still saying nothing about the heaving heart of this band. It’s overflowing.
2. Sampha - Process
Twinkling but subterranean. I’m getting tired of using stupid nature metaphors to describe sounds. But I can’t help it. This music is as high and light as the stars and subdued and insulated as the underground. And to the album’s great credit, it doesn’t repeat any ideas, nor does it water anything down. And Sampha’s lustrous voice is the perfect vehicle to deliver songs about, well… whatever they’re about, which seems to unfold in every atmospheric corner of this music.
1. Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness
Revealing. This album is revealing. Less for its music, which is nothing short of transcendent, than for its words. They reveal a person. You can feel a real human being carved out in the space between lines that are so simple and so true, they must be alive. And the voice is laid perfectly against the fog of its reverb, the instrumentation behind the guitar is subtle enough to let the wood ring and strong enough to give it breath. But what made this album by far the most affecting of the year for me is its poetry. It is a symphony of its own.
It Was Hard Not To Include:
Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory, War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding, LCD Soundsystem - American Dream, Tyler The Creator - Flower Boy, Nathan Shubert - Folds, Sophia Kennedy - Sophia Kennedy, SZA - CTRL, Forest Swords - Compassion, Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins, Kendrick Lamar - DAMN, Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds From Another Planet, Spoon - Hot Thoughts, Fleet Foxes - Crack-up, This Is The Kit - Moonshine Freeze
Kelly Lee Owens, Arca, Big Thief, The xx, Lana Del Rey, Laura Marling, Aldous Harding, Phoebe Bridgers, Shigeto, Shannon Lay, Kamasi Washington, King Krule, Zola Jesus, Fever Ray, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Kevin Morby, Juana Molina, Khotin, SYD, Kiasmos, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lorde, Taylor Swift
From Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shrunyu Suzuki
I went to Yosemite National Park, and I saw some huge waterfalls. The highest one there is 1,340 feet high, and from it the water comes down like a curtain thrown from the top of the mountain. It does not seem to come down swiftly, as you might expect; it seems to come down very slowly because of the distance. And the water does not come down as one stream, but is separated into many tiny streams. From a distance it looks like a curtain. And I thought it must be a very difficult experience for each drop of water to come down from the top of such a high mountain. It takes time, you know, a long time, for the water finally to reach the bottom of the waterfall. And it seems to me that our human life may be like this. We have many difficult experiences in our life. But at the same time, I thought, the water was not originally separated, but was one whole river. Only when it is separated does it have some difficulty in falling. It is as if the water does not have any feeling when it is one whole river. Only when separated into many drops can it begin to have or to express some feeling. When we see one whole river we do not feel the living activity of the water, but when we dip a part of the water into a dipper, we experience some feeling of the water, and we also feel the value of the person who uses the water. Feeling ourselves and the water in this way, we cannot use it in just a material way. It is a living thing.
Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called “mind-only,” or “essence of mind” or “big mind.” After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life.
When the water returns to its original oneness with the river, it no longer has any individual feeling to it; it resumes its own nature, and finds composure. How very glad the water must be to come back to the original river! If this is so, what feeling will we have when we die? I think we are like the water in the dipper. We will have composure then, perfect composure. It may be too perfect for us, just now, because we are so much attached to our own feeling, to our individual existence. For us, just now, we have some fear of death, but after we resume our true original nature, there is Nirvana. That is why we say, “To attain Nirvana is to pass away.” “To pass away” is not a very adequate expression. Perhaps “to pass on,” or “to go on,” or “to join” would be better. Will you try to find some better expression for death? When you find it, you will have quite a new interpretation of your life. It will be like my experience when I saw the water in the big waterfall. Imagine! It was 1,340 feet high!
Sometimes when I finish a novel I feel like I have to place my hand against the cover just like I would place it on the soft head of a dog whom I love in a ridiculous but entirely authentic way. It’s the closest feeling I’ve ever had to what it looks like in those pictures you see of monks or priests raising their hand in blessing, the ones where you can tell it’s a real moment, that it’s spontaneous, that something measurable is actually coming out of their skin. I’m really grateful I get that feeling with books every once in a while. Like, with my hand pressed softly against a fictitious world that somehow just opened the real world in which I’m sitting, I’m giving a blessing. Like I’m saying thank you. With all the nerve-endings in my palm. Thank you.