11 December 2007

animal collective is right...

"you don't have to go to college."   


cognitive neuroscience with v.s. ramachandran - what studying patients with brain disorders (phantom limbs, synesthesia, autism) reveals about being uniquely human: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4684607596399338611

international relations theory with andrew bacevich - why a longtime conservative and west point graduate opposes the american commitment to global military supremacy: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1260516895818511114

combinatorial mathematics with stephen wolfram - how complex systems like the universe can originate from simple computations that're fundamentally undecidable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eC14GonZnU

28 October 2007

2 + 2 = 5

here are two relatively new technologies we want to see combined... first (spacial) -- photosynth software,


second (temporal) -- the kronos projector,


...that way we can navigate through composites of images/videos while altering their time - just like in the movie, minority report:


sure someone has already thought of this... anyone want to buy us one?

30 September 2007


25. Return of the Mac - Prodigy
24. Come Get It (Tekstrumentals) - Hi-Tek
23. Take Me Away - Lifesavas
22. Letter from the Government - Brother Ali
21. Gotta Eat - Lupe Fiasco
20. Movie Finale - Madlib
19. 2 Brothers from the Gutter - Pecee P with Diamond D
18. We Get Higher - Stat Quo
17. Life is 2009 - UGK with Too $hort
16. Come and Go - 50 Cent
15. Can't Win For Losing - Little Brother
14. Welcome to the Terrordome - Pharoahe Monch
13. None Shall Pass - Aesop Rock
12. 9mm - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
11. Gun Blast - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
10. Supa GFK - Ghostface Killah
9. Windmill - Wu-Tang Clan
8. Drivin' Me Wild - Common with Lily Allen
7. Surviving the Times - Nas
6. The Coolest - Lupe Fiasco
5. Soon the New Day - Talib Kweli
4. Gravy - UGK
3. Stagnant Waters - Dalek
2. Can't Tell Me Nothing - Kanye West
1. Dreams - Little Brother

and some music videos to go with...


06 August 2007

on 'doing something'

What follows is part III of Anton Chekhov's short story, 'The House with the Mezzanine: An Artist's Story', written in 1896. Chekhov was a medical doctor in Russia for most of his life, then he began a career as a freelance writer around 1886, establishing himself as the founder of modern drama. The story tells of a 'perpetually idle' landscape painter who discusses the building of a 'medical relief center' with a busybody social worker..... Question is, who do you agree more with -- the artist or the reformer?


'The prince is staying at Maloziomovo, and he asks to be remembered to you,' said Lida to her mother. She had just come in, and was taking off her gloves. 'He gave me a great deal of interesting news ... He promised to raise the question of a medical relief centre at Maloziomovo again at the provincial assembly, but he says there is very little hope of it.' And turning to me, she said: 'Excuse me, I always forget that this cannot be interesting to you.'

I felt irritated. 'Why not interesting to me?' I said, shrugging my shoulders. 'You do not care to know my opinion, but I assure you the question has great interest for me.'


'Yes. In my opinion a medical relief centre at Maloziomovo is quite unnecessary.'

My irritation infected her; she looked at me, screwing up her eyes, and asked: 'What is necessary? Landscapes?'

'Nor are landscapes. Nothing is.'

She finished taking off her gloves, and opened the newspaper, which had just been brought from the post. A minute later she said quietly, evidently restraining herself: 'Last week Anna died in childbirth, and if there had been a medical relief centre near, she would have lived. And I think even landscape painters ought to have some convictions on the subject.'

'I have a very definite conviction on that subject, I assure you,' I answered; and she screened herself with the newspaper, as though unwilling to listen to me. 'To my mind, all these schools, dispensaries, libraries, medical emergency centres, under present conditions, only serve to aggravate the bondage of the people. The peasants are fettered by a great chain, and you do not break the chain, but only add fresh links to it - that's my conviction.'

She raised her eyes to me and smiled ironically, and I went on trying to formulate my leading idea. 'What matters is not that Anna died in childbirth, but that all these Annas, Mayras, Pelageias, toil from early morning till dark, fall ill from work too hard for them, all their lives they tremble for their sick and hungry children, all their lives they are being doctored, and in dread of death and disease, fade and grow old early, and die in filth and stench. Their children begin the same story over again as soon as they grow up, and so it goes on for hundreds of years and billions of men live worse than beasts - in continual terror, for a mere crust of bread. The whole horror of their position lies in their never having time to think of their souls, of their divine image. Cold, hunger, animal terror, a burden of toil, like avalanches of snow, block for them every way to spiritual activity - that is, what distinguishes man from the brutes and what is the only thing which makes life worth living. You go to their help with hospitals and schools, but you don't free them from their fetters; on the contrary, you bind them in closer bonds, as, by introducing new prejudices, you increase the number of their wants, to say nothing of the fact that they've got to pay the council for plasters and books, and so toil harder than ever.'

'I am not going to argue with you,' said Lida, putting down the paper. 'I've heard all that before. I will only say one thing: one cannot sit with one's hands in one's lap. It's true that we are not saving humanity, and perhaps we make a great many mistakes; but we do what we can, and we are right. The highest and holiest tasks for a civilized person is to serve his neighbours, and we try to serve them as best we can. You don't like it, but one can't please everyone.'

'That's true, Lida,' said her mother - 'that's true.'

In Lida's presence she was always a little timid, and looked at her nervously as she talked, afraid of saying something superfluous or inopportune. And she never contradicted her, but always assented. 'That's true, Lida - that's true.'

'Teaching the peasants to read and write, books of wretched precepts and rhymes, and medical relief centres, cannot diminish either ignorance or the death rate, just as the light from your windows cannot light up this huge garden,' said I. 'You give nothing. By meddling in these people's lives you only create new wants in them, and new demands on their labour.'

'Oh, my God! But one must do something!' said Lida, with vexation, and from her tone one could see that she thought my argument worthless and despised them.

'The people must be freed from hard physical labour,' said I. 'We must lighten their yoke, let them have time to breathe, not to spend all their lives at the stove, at the wash-tub, and in the fields, but to have time also to think of their souls, of God - to develop their spiritual capacities. The highest vocation of man is spiritual activity - the perpetual search for truth and the meaning of life. Make rough animal labour unnecessary for them, let them feel themselves free, and then you will see what mockery these dispensaries and books are. Once a man recognizes his true vocation, he can only be satisfied by religion, science, and art, and not by these trifles.'

'Free them from labour?' laughed Lida. 'But is that possible?'

'Yes. Take upon yourself a share of their labour. If all of us, townspeople and country people, all without exception, would agree to divide between us the labour which mankind spends on the satisfaction of their physical needs, each of us would perhaps need to work only for two or three hours a day. Imagine that we all, rich and poor, work only for three hours a day, and the rest of our time is free. Imagine further that in order to depend even less upon our bodies and to labour less, we invent machines to replace our work, we try to cut down our needs to the minimum. We would train ourselves and our children not to fear hunger and cold, and we shouldn't be continually trembling for their health like Anna, Mavra, and Pelageia. Imagine that we don't doctor ourselves, don't keep dispensaries, tobacco factories, distilleries - what a lot of free time we would have over, after all! All of us together would devote our leisure to science and art. Just as the peasants sometimes work communally, mending the roads, so all of us, as a community, would search for truth and the meaning of life, and I am convinced that the truth would be discovered quickly; man would escape from this continual, agonising, oppressive dread of death, and even from death itself.'

'You contradict yourself, though,' said Lida. 'You talk about science, and are yourself opposed to literacy.'

'Literacy when a man has nothing to read but the signs on public houses and sometimes books which he cannot understand - that we have had ever since the times or Rurik; Gogol's Petrushka has been reading for a long time, yet as the village was in the days of Rurik, so it has remained. What is needed is not literacy, but freedom to develop spiritual capacities on a wide scale. What is wanted is not schools, but universities.'

'You are opposed to medicine, too?'

'Yes. It would be necessary only for the study of diseases as natural phenomena, and not for the cure of them. If one must cure, it should not be diseases, but the causes of them. Remove the principal cause - physical labour, and then there will be no disease. I don't believe in science that cures disease,' I went on excitedly. 'When science and art are real, they aim not at temporary, private ends, but at the eternal and the universal - they seek for truth and the meaning of life, they seek for God, for the soul, and when they are tied down to the needs and evils of the day, to dispensaries and libraries, they only complicate and hamper life. We have plenty of doctors, chemists, lawyers, plenty of people can read and write, but we are quite without biologists, mathematicians, philosophers, poets. The whole of our intelligence, the whole of our spiritual energy, is spent on satisfying temporary, passing needs ... Scientists, writers, artists, are hard at work; thanks to them, the conveniences of life are multiplied from day to day. Our physical demands increase, yet truth is still a long way off, and man still remains the most rapacious and dirty animal; everything tends to degeneration of the majority of mankind, and the loss for ever of all fitness for life. In such conditions an artist's work has no meaning, and the more talented he is, the stranger and the more unintelligible his position, as when one looks into it, it is evident that he is working for the amusement of a rapacious and unclean animal, and is supporting the existing order. And I don't want to work and I shan't... Nothing is any use; let the earth sink to perdition!'

'Misius, leave the room!' said Lida to her sister, apparently thinking my words harmful to such a young girl.

Zhenia looked mournfully at her mother and sister, and left the room. 'These are charming things people say when they want to justify their indifference,' said Lida. 'It is easier to disapprove of schools and hospitals than to teach or heal.'

'That's true, Lida - that's true,' the mother assented.

'You threaten to give up working,' said Lida. 'You evidently set a high value on your work. Let us give up arguing; we shall never agree, since I put the most imperfect dispensary or library of which you have just spoken so contemptuously on a higher level than any landscape.'

And turning at once to her mother, she began speaking in quite a different tone: 'The prince is very much changed, and much thinner than when he was with us last. He is being sent to Vichy.' She was telling her mother about the prince in order to avoid talking to me. Her face glowed, and to hide her emotion she bent low over the table as though she were short-sighted, and made a show of reading the newspaper. My presence was disagreeable to her. I said good-bye and went home.


24 June 2007


what we've been listening to around the strait of gibraltar...

1 : Air Jel

1. no solution - jel.
2. silent spring - massive attack.
3. le vent nous portera - noir desir.
4. did you see the words - animal collective.
5. harrowdown hill - thom yorke.
6. smash - avishai cohen.
7. manitoba - tapes 'n tapes.
8. dear mr. supercomputer - sufjan stevens.
9. displaced - hanne hukkelberg.
10. theme - moondog.
11. can we go back - hi-tek.
12. goin' back to the bridge - asie payton.
13. slowly - amon tobin.
14. me & you & him - palaxy tracks.
15. django - vince guaraldi.
16. little wing - jimi hendrix.
17. strange apparition - beck.
18. lady madonna - the beatles.
19. bad penny blues - humphrey lyttelton.
20. movie theme - beck.
21. alpha beta gaga - air.
22. enough of nothing - cody chesnutt.

2 : Cakewalk

1. grinnin' in your face - son house.
2. everybody daylight - brightblack morning light.
3. got to let go - band of bees.
4. prank calls - kelley stoltz.
5. runnin' - the heartless bastards.
6. why? - andrew bird.
7. you know i'm no good - amy winehouse.
8. hate it or love it - the game with 50 cent.
9. move on up - curtis mayfield.
10. gronlandic edit - of montreal.
11. and one (on one) - lilys.
12. man in a shed - nick drake.
13. color bars - elliott smith.
14. scary - bjork.
15. take five - tito puente.
16. irene - rose melberg.
17. lifesaver - emiliana torrini.
18. chant du menestrel - clara rockmore.
19. venice beach dub - stuph.
20. cakewalk into town - taj mahal.

3 : Extraneity

1. oliver nelson's stolen moments - telefon tel aviv.
2. atlas - battles.
3. new disaster - elliott smith.
4. i see who you are - bjork.
5. from brighton beach to santa monica - the clientele.
6. norwegian wood (this bird has flown) - the beatles.
7. trouble - bikeride.
8. race in - battles.
9. the chills - peter bjorn and john.
10. mozzarella swastikas - adam green.
11. ocean of noise - arcade fire.
12. dejeuner de soleil - julliette greco.
13. this time - dj shadow.
14. tonto - battles.
15. clam, crab, cocke, cowrie - joanna newsom.
16. the confession - andrew bird.
17. bottom line man - giant sand.
18. thirteen - elliott smith.
19. droplet - apples in stereo.
20. indie rock & roll - the killers.

4 : Satanists

1. wooden - apparat.
2. fit song - cornelius.
3. courtesy laughs - phoenix.
4. no girl in my plan - two lone swordsmen.
5. satan said dance - clap your hands say yeah!
6. tulips - papercuts.
7. climbing up the ladder (parts iii and iv) - trans am.
8. sensuous - cornelius.
9. private honeymoon - benjy ferree.
10. i can love you in a wheelchair, baby - benni hemm hemm.
11. there is an end - the greenhornes.
12. interlude - the funky 16 corners.
13. nobody knows you when you're down and out - nina simone.
14. live with me - massive attack.
15. sleep warm - cornelius.
16. oh! you pretty things - david bowie.
17. walken - wilco.
18. lime tree - bright eyes.
19. dreams of leaving - the clientele.
20. only ones who know - the arctic monkeys.

5 : A Door Slightly Ajar

1. julia - taken by trees.
2. hold on - john lennon.
3. i shall be released - bob dylan.
4. care of cell 44 - the zombies.
5. landed - ben folds.
6. either way - wilco.
7. rollin - the high llamas.
8. hope - the submarines.
9. play tough - the apples in stereo.
10. brandy alexander - the walkmen.
11. you are my face - wilco.
12. meditations on speed - lilys.
13. ruby - the silver apples.
14. rock bottom riser - smog.
15. and so i know - stone temple pilots.
16. side with the seeds - wilco.
17. even so - rachael yamagata.
18. the way i feel inside - the zombies.
19. simple twist of fate - bob dylan.
20. bring on the lucie (freda people) - john lennon.
21. the lakes of canda - the innocence mission.

6 : Sick with Vampires

1. yellow datsun - neva dinova.
2. fools gold - the stone roses.
3. mahna mahna - cake.
4. welcome to the terrordome - pharoahe monch.
5. uncommon valor: a vietnam story - jedi mind tricks.
6. prisoners of war - organized konfusion.
7. letter from the government - brother ali.
8. us placers - kayne west (remixing radiohead).
9. rapperfection - edan (remixing radiohead).
10. daytona 500 - ghostface (remixing radiohead).
11. down is the new up - radiohead.
12. bring back the funk - paul weller.
13. hate it or love it - the game with 50 cent.
14. incarcerated scarfaces - raekwon.
15. the movement - inspectah deck.
16. if you can't say love - the visionaries.
17. stop fronting - prodigy.
18. fantastic - da backwudz.
19. backstage pass - mobb deep.
20. mahna mahna - the muppets.
21. perhaps vampires is a bit strong, but... - the arctic monkeys.

7 : Everyone Is A Pope

1. man born to party dies partying - onion news radio.
2. gate 7 - gui boratto.
3. new house of the pope - frank black.
4. auton - silicon scally.
5. acid bells - efdemin.
6. lujon - henry mancini.
7. bridge - amon tobin.
8. anthem for the earnest - the bad plus.
9. yekermo sew (a man of experience and wisdom) - mulatu astatke.
10. sleep talking - ornette coleman.
11. stately, yes. - efdemin.
12. useless information - apparat.
13. arpeggi (live at the ether festival) - radiohead.
14. pushing back - enduser.
15. candyman - philip glass.
16. bergwein - efdemin.
17. figure 8 (school house rock cover) - elliott smith.

8 : Mockingbirds

1. green grass - tom waits.
2. all day breakfast - jel.
3. vodou - schneider tm.
4. soft revolution - stars.
5. little one (quick dance) - bartok.
6. you know i'm no good - ghostface.
7. mr. grieves - t.v. on the radio.
8. trains to brazil - the guillemots.
9. how could i forget - the faint.
10. eyes to form shadows - dalek.
11. granadinas - carlos montoya.
12. hasty boom alert - mu-ziq.
13. possibly maybe - bjork.
14. mutual slump - dj shadow.
15. same ghost every night - wolf parade.
16. mascagini's cavalleria rustica - william orbit.
17. you never know - immortal technique.
18. andvari - sigur ros.

9 : We Eat Awkwardness for Breakfast

1. octet - deerhunter.
2. black cat john brown - alamo race track.
3. you may be blue - vetiver.
4. be with - koushik.
5. tarnished - dalek.
6. lovely creature - nick cave.
7. my moon my man - feist.
8. red latern girls - vetiver.
9. kid on my shoulders - the white rabbits.
10. path through the forest - the factory.
11. the garden at night - the clientele.
12. i wanna be your dog - iggy pop.
13. rebel girl - bikini kill.
14. fleur de saison - emilie simon.
15. stoffer - benni hemm hemm.
16. i could stay - loney, dear.
17. i know no pardon - vetiver.
18. lucky to be me - bill evans.

03 May 2007

sic semper tyrannis

in this interview with journalist bob woodward, former defense secretary donald rumseld compares the worsening situation in the war zone of irak to the ordinary incidents of crime in any large metropolis. can't imagine why they edited out the profound reasoning which was to follow, can you?

MR. WOODWARD: And the number of attacks are going up actually.

SEC. RUMSFELD: That's probably true. It is also probably true that our data's better, and we're categorizing more things as attacks. A random round can be an attack and -- all the way up to killing 50 people some place. So you've got a whole fruit bowl of different things -- a banana and an apple and an orange.

MR. WOODWARD: But somebody said up to 900 attacks within one week last month.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I can't validate that. I'd have to go back and look.

MR. WOODWARD: I mean, that's unexploded IEDs, that's counted as an attack; detonated IEDs, close engagements, standoff attacks and attacks on Iraqi authorities.

SEC. RUMSFELD: What do you suppose how many things of those character occur in countries that aren't at war in a given week?

MR. WOODWARD: I've heard you --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Detroit, Chicago, anywhere. I mean, you look at the number of homicides and rapes and armed robberies and attacks and shootings, and goodness knows -- (inaudible) --

[Passage deleted mutual consent and ground-rule]



01 April 2007

of perfect days for banana fish

Hence gloomy thoughts
No more my soul shall dwell
On joys that were
No more endure to weigh
The shame and anguish of the evil day
Wisely forgetful
O'er the ocean swell
Sublime of Hope I seek the cottag'd dell
Where Virtue calm with careless step may stray
And, dancing to the moon-light roundelay
The Wizard passions weave an holy spell

Thomas Chatterton was an English poet and forger of pseudo-medieval poetry, who served as an icon of unacknowledged genius for the Romantics... On 24 August 1770, he retired for the last time to his attic in Brook Street, carrying with him the arsenic which he drank, after tearing into fragments whatever literary remains were at hand. He was only seventeen years and nine months old...  

::: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Chatterton

Why then write Sonnets or Monodies? Because they give me pleasure when perhaps nothing else could. After the more violent emotions of Sorrow, the mind demands solace and can find it in employment alone; but full of its late sufferings it can endure no employment not connected with those sufferings.

::: http://www.erudit.org/revue/ron/2000/v/n17/005900ar.html

01 January 2007



5 : Brad Mehldau Trio - House on Hill.

there's no one playing piano today who is in the same building as Mr. Melhdau. both of his hands have well-developed frontal lobes all their own. he's our generation's answer to Art Tatum. but one would suspect with such virtuosity that we'd have to accept some counter-balancing lack of soul, that he'd hit us with so many speedily-delivered notes we'd long for the stripped-down melodies of pop. you only need listen to the final phrases of 'Embers' to hear this isn't so. here we learn to appreciate how Melhdau can distill his polyphonic cacophonies down to an uncluttered theme that was hiding in the background and, once revealed, hangs in the air for long afterward. despite the glorious excess of his improvization, it's his subtlety that most strikes us, how the slightest of shifts can alter the entire edifice of a song. with this method he can spell-bound you (as in 'August Ending'), he can send you meandering through the synaptic latticework of your brain (as in 'House on Hill'), or he can tie you up in knots (as in 'Backyard'). for the jazz-haters out there, listen to what Mehldau does with the addictive beat laid down by Jorge Rossy on 'Bealtine' which also includes an edgy solo from bassist Larry Grenadier that ever-seems on the verge of flying off the handle. one can tell Rossy, Grenadier, and Mehldau have been going at it for a long time by the immediacy of their responsiveness to one another - they exemplify the tight trio. and all these songs, even those that get lost wandering off nowhere, add complex layers upon one another, not for complexity's sake, but to demonstrate that when the journey is the destination, the sky's the limit (...or is it?).

4 : Regina Spektor - Begin to Hope

when it comes to beautiful distinctive female vocalists, Ms. Spektor is rarely mentioned in the same sentence as Bjork or Joanna Newsom, but we began to hope this album would change all that. if you need a demonstration, try for a moment to hit the faultless falsetto of "heart-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-art" in her song 'Fidelity', then ask yourself, who else's voice can be as simultaneously quirky and porcelain? whether she's hollering or whispering, Spetkor knows exactly how you need to be kissed. and in spite of the fact that she's only recently come into her own in the studio (finally), she continues to flaunt a mastery of the piano unrivaled by the contemporaries of her genre (Emily Haines, for example), as the song 'Edit' is guilty of on both counts - clean production featuring a gal who really knows how to play her instrument. Fiona Apple wishes she'd written a song as bluesy and tearful as 'Lady' (or thought to work with a saxophonist as sultry as Ralph Williams). and Ms. Apple could never pull off a lyric as funny as 'summer in the city means... cleavage, cleavage, cleavage', nor infuse the same line with heady nostalgia two minutes later. our favorite, however, remains 'Field Below', which plows as deep into the emotion of our time and place as 'Like a Bridge over Troubled Waters' did for its. gives us chills every time.

3 : Nas - Hiphop is Dead

after seeing Pitchfork rank Clipse's rap-kitsch as 7, we'd have to agree with the title of Mr. Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones's fantastic contribution to the discussion of the state of hiphop. (but we suppose most people knew Pitchfork lost its mind when it left Gnarls Barkley, Pharrell, the Roots, Jurassic 5, and Hi-Tek outside the club while Clipse got v.i.p. treatment.) even though this is the message we desperately need to hear right now, and Nas shares with us a deep reverence for the history of his craft and his people, it's also a superbly sampled and syncopated ride, as the flow on 'Hope' smacks us awake with its breath-taking display of raw talent (and an excellent vocal accompaniment to boot). whoever takes Nas's point in a solely negativistic way obviously hasn't listened to the inspirational 'Let there be Light'. what's wrong with not aiming for the club? what's wrong with not bragging about pimping and purchasing shiny expensive consumer goods? it's not as if Nas speaks any less highly of illicit drugs (see 'Blunt Ashes'); he simply uses them for creative meditation instead of recreational anesthesia. if you're worried things might get too serious, then listen to this stand-out (our vote for best hiphop track of the year) - 'Can't Forget about You'. and please don't discard this unforgettable album because it samples Nat King Cole (who, we're sure you know, often demeaned womyn by pouring champagne on their tits).

2 : Daedelus - Daedelus Denies the Day's Demise

of all the solid electronica to choose from - from the Knife to Nathan Fake to Eliot Lipp to Tiga (not to mention all the new releases from old heavyweights like Prefuse 73, Cut Chemist, DJ Shadow, and Squarepusher) - this one's exquisite timing and texture sets it apart. from the first to the last, Mr. Alfred Wiesberg Roberts has the uncanny capacity to make our head and skin feel light. needless to say Daedelus is a genius when it comes to incorporating horns, strings, and drums, but what other sounds aren't made listenable here? annoying screams? yep. wind chimes? got 'em. television narrator circa 1955? sure. even noise never sounded so good. we go from skipping along on a sunny afternoon ('At My Heels') to the depths of ominous pits ('Never None the Wiser') and back, from the hiphop-inspired ('Lights Out') to the techno-inspired ('Sawtooth E.K.G.'), from music for dancing ('Sundown') to music for melting into your living room furniture ('Sunrise'), everything flows and fits together seamlessly with a firecracker sense of surprise. plus, the musical heritages in practically every region of the world are represented, from Cuban to African to Brazilian to Indian and so on. still the trip feels like it's over before it begins. it's dense yet effervescent. contemplative yet funky. and no track this year has given us a warmer smile than 'Viva Vida'. it's a dreamy breeze that's not only enough to make you deny the day's demise, but forget what day it is as well.

1 : Thom Yorke - The Eraser

if some big Mr. Fancy Pants (Logan Keese, for instance) was so stupid as to give us authority over some music awards ceremony this year, it'd go something like this... best album art : Stanley Donwood. best producer : Nigel Godrich. best male vocalist : Thom Yorke. best song : Black Swan... yet having said that, this record took a while to grow on us. first we only dug the mathematical precision of Godrich's ambient soundscapes, which go from subliminal to explosive during the last minute or so of every song. so we put off fully listening to the album for a month or so. then randomly 'The Clock' struck our fancy, then 'Black Swan' hooked us, then 'Analyze' and 'Atoms for Peace', or maybe it was the other way around. in any case, by the end of the avalanche, we could even savor every tiny morsel of organized chaos on 'Skipped Divided' and 'Cymbal Rush' without feeling sick, and 'Harrowdown Hill' became our favorite cut: 'i'm coming home, i'm coming home to make it alright, so dry your eyes' is enough to make a manatee wilt (and be sure to listen for the trance-inducing instrumental break at three minutes and twenty-five seconds). it wasn't Mr. Yorke's effortless vocal calisthenics, clinging to high-pitched notes in his non-chalant way which ultimately put this work over the top for us, but its lyrical content. it's an indictment of conformity and greed and all the other evil shit we're forced to passively witness yet seem unable to stop. the personal is political is personal, alluded to best when Yorke tells the story of David Kelly (see below). the real question is, how can we absorb the superficiality of the way we live today and turn it into an authentic cool? this entails having the courage to be terrified, and the self-confidence to be fractured. it means going from a paralyzing cynicism to wit, from a depressing isolation to open rage. it means cultivating a stoicism that keeps some tender core of yourself from being cheapened and poisoned like everything else. it's about holding on to a sense of the sublime amidst seas of pollution, and learning to let something gentle and pure shine forth amidst the grime of unjust and unethical sociopolitical complexes... there are those who say 'fuck it' who are completely ignorant of all that's wrong, and then there are those who can honestly face all that's wrong and still say 'fuck it'. speaking for the Dark Manatees, Thom Yorke is the reason sentient beings like us can continue to live in a world which killed John Lennon.


Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire is notable for being the place where the body of Dr David Kelly was found in 2003. His evidence had raised questions about Saddam Hussein's possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction — the official justification for the UK government's decision to invade Iraq. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Yorke said, "The government and the Ministry of Defence... were directly responsible for outing him and that put him in a position of unbearable pressure that he couldn't deal with, and they knew they were doing it and what it would do to him... I've been feeling really uncomfortable about that song lately, because it was a personal tragedy, and Dr Kelly has a family who are still grieving. But I also felt that not to write it would perhaps have been worse." In another interview, Yorke said that "Harrowdown Hill" is "the most angry song I've ever written in my life...".