Thursday, May 22, 2008

Podcasts: Sweet Relief From Human Freedom

or, Sound Advice for Digital Living

One of the unexpected outcomes of the historical rise of democracy in industrial society is the way in which it is possible for freedom of choice to dialectically invert into an oppressive force. This largely stems from the twin motors of capitalism and technology, which operating in sync are quite capable today of overloading and distracting you with an abundance of irrelevant things to be decided upon.

"In ancient Rome there was a poem
About a dog who found two bones
He picked at one
He licked the other
He went in circles
He dropped dead

Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom of choice!"

It's sound advice for digital living to know when and how to engage decision, when to sideswipe it and when to outsource it. Information overload means the need for people you know to occasionally serve as human data filters. Maybe you do this unconsciously, sorting acquaintances and social contacts into "friend who knows where to buy shoes" and "guy at the office who is a college basketball obsessive" and "friend's boyfriend who brings rare, illegally-cured ham to your superbowl party."

Listening to mixes online is thus a great away to avoid the painful abyss of human freedom (although confronting this freedom has its benefits as well, for example it's a great way to procrastinate, to spend an hour or so curating a playlist).

Here are three excellent sources of such mixes:
1. The Fabric podcast. Fabric is a techno club in London, a venerable temple to electronic music. It is a very thoughtfully-branded entity, combining nightclub, record label and other ventures, all of which lay their primary emphasis on the pleasures of musical experience. Seriously the club rules and if I lived practically next door to it, as my good friends Leonard and Caireen do, I would be there every weekend. The DJ lineups are out of hand.

Their latest podcast is from British(?)person Howie B, the world-class electronic producer, who slings together a bunch of great funk (Fela Kuti, George McCrae) and often describes a song as being an "absolute stonker". These podcasts are of general interest and not only enjoyable for techno nerds.

2. The Resident Advisor podcast. RA is a first-class electronic music news website. Sort of like Pitchfork, but for grown-ups who don't pee on themselves about bands with names like Mystic Wolf Palace. Its podcasts center more on straight A-list techno DJs, such as Richie Hawtin aka Plastikman, who recently did the 100th installment. Definitely more techno-nerd but you're just putting it on in the background while you do spreadsheets at work anyway, so don't worry about it.

And, in actuality, minimal techno is pretty much the best at-work shit you can listen to. It doesn't ever interfere with your consciousness but it burbles steadily along so it keeps you going, like fizzy water.

3. Samurai FM. Just discovered by me because the Earplug newsletter linked to it. Has also a host of good DJ mixes available for streaming, including most recent by Norwegian space-disco prince Lindstrom. Also has a good selection of archival mixes including Italian legend Daniele Baldelli, the George Washington of beardo disco.

Now get back to work.

1 comment:

Alex B said...

Howie B is Scottish.