My listening was dominated in the opening weeks of the month by the latest Japandroids and Cloud Nothings albums. The former are the kings of anthemic, rousing choruses that make you feel sort of invincible. Good to listen to before machine learning lectures. The latter are less earnest and more quirky, with janglier guitars. Still very catchy, and great company for walks to and from campus. Both are also playing Brighton in the coming months – more on that in due course.
On a different hype, I got pretty into Stefflon Don’s Real Ting mixtape (although calling it that doesn’t really do it justice…it’s essentially a fully-fledged album), which actually came out late last year. Also noticed that Suicideyear had been back in action, in collaboration with outthepound; their excellent new EP, Brothers, is a collection of utopian trap instrumentals (cf. vapourwave) and available for free download.
There were two real standouts, though. The first was Shackleton’s return to the fold, accompanied by Vengeance Tenfold, with a typically complex and immersive album. Don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like Sferic Ghost Transmits: ‘the warped digital hymnal for a lost civilisation’ would be my attempt to describe it. That and Visible Cloak’s Reassemblage – a stunning assortment of synthesised ambient textures and reflections – actually swung me back onto a massive experimental / electronic music hype over the last week or so of the month. I even got back on Logic to do some production myself…
The usual 17-track YouTube scrapbook tries to capture some of that, along with some other bits and pieces that I’d write about if time and space were no object.
The last track on that playlist is a 360° video made in advance of the one live show I went to. That was Still Be Here, a performance piece that lay somewhere between concert, animated film and documentary, celebrating and picking apart the appeal of the virtual Japanese pop star, Hatsune Miku. It was at the Barbican, and the whole experience was pretty bizarre on a number of counts – but I should probably write about it separately. A darn cool work of art, though.
I read one work of non-fiction: Martin Ford’s The Rise of the Robots. It prompted many thoughts, and I put together a short Medium piece outlining some of my objections, accompanied by a blog post with a few related reflections. So enough on that for now.
The fiction I read jumped from rural Estonia – Sofi Oksanen’s Purge – to provincial 1950s Japan – Shūsaku Endō’s Volcano – and then to the Scottish Highlands – His Bloody Project, by Graeme Macrae Burnet. All 3 were excellent, and unsettling to different degrees. The links are to the OurStories recommendations I wrote for each, have a look if you’re interested – they’re only short!
The Ides of March made for entertaining viewing, particularly off the back of a year during which current events have had me thinking about political campaigning (the good, the bad, and the ugly) more than ever.
Although I only made one trip to the cinema, it was a good one. It was to see Moonlight, which was exceptional. Left me feeling melancholy for a good couple of days. But no doubt you’ve already heard a million things about it, so I’ll leave things there.