Tom MacWright

tom@macwright.org

Recently

I’ve been looking for new music inspiration lately, and I’m… still looking.

The new Sen Morimoto album has some hits, especially this collaboration track with NNAMDÏ. This album has a lot in it: the songs are complex and edgy, geared for relistening.

I was pumped to learn that Kill Rock Stars put their whole catalog on Bandcamp, so I can download FLACs of some of those classics. So I’m relistening to Speed Trials my favorite Smith album, and Angeles, a song that just breaks me.

Soundtracks used to fuel a lot of my music discovery, but none of the shows I’m watching now have really inspired selections. Stuff like Joey Purp’s Elastic, which briefly featured in High Maintenance, or this song by Photay that played for a minute on Broad City:

The show Transparent, for all its faults, also had an amazing selection of music, like this song Waiting:

I’m still experimenting with a tweak to my music hoarding strategy using Roon (affiliate link! it costs money). That has been encouraging me to download FLAC files from Bandcamp instead of old-fashioned MP3s. On the whole, Roon seems pretty great, though I’m no audiophile. It checks the boxes for a self-contained, disaster-proof system that I could migrate away from if necessary, but it also really nails the metadata & discovery stuff that is really hard to replicate outside of the walled gardens of music streaming services: I love that I can skip between bands in the same family, like Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes, and Sunset Rubdown, because it knows that they have bandmembers in common.

Reading

I read Exhalation this month and loved it. All the bits of conceptual scifi I like, distilled. And Why We Sleep, which was great but makes me feel guilty about drinking coffee and alcohol.

Efforts to dismantle structural racism and white supremacy must include undoing the financial incentives people have to defend the status quo in their communities.

The American Mortgage Is An Investment In Racial Inequality by Diego Aguilar-Canabal is an incredible synthesis of history, theory, and present into a message we can’t ignore: homeownership in the US is built on racist policies, and those policies continue to incentivize homeowners to act badly.

Visualization of votes needed for a win to be declared

Toph Tucker’s visualization of partial election results and Kerry Rodden’s Electoral College Decision Tree are both newsroom-quality analyses of the coming election, which I cannot think about right now.

Gordon Parks photo of a young man coming out of a storm grate

The new Nerdwriter on Gordon Parks is beautiful also also brings me back to ELEMENT., the Kendrick Lamar video directed by Jonas Lindstroem, which recreates several Gordon Parks photos. It’s been a few years since that album, DAMN, and I think its status is even clearer now: it was a particular crystallized genius that deserved the Pulitzer and will have influence for a long time.

November 1, 2020  @tmcw