I’m currently conducting research for a grant proposal and am particularly enchanted with the aesthetics of atmosphere. I’m an architecture student (surely not the only one here on lines, right?) but these books seem pertinent to much of what goes on around these parts.
Anybody have any further recs? I’m always looking for more.
Right now I am trying to go through „classics” of 20th century so I am reading through Franz Kafka „Castle” and enjoying it very much. Lately I have been reading mostly non fiction books so it is good to read something with story.
I finally finished The Ambient Century. It was pretty dry, sometimes technically wrong, sometimes a little hard to support certain things being called “ambient” or having a strong influence on later ambient music… but still some fascinating bits. It had me listening to a lot of different music, and re-enjoying some things I grew up with and some 90s music I missed.
I wasn’t really aware that Ecstasy and the culture around clubs had such an impact on all the “side” forms of ambient music / chill-out, but it makes sense. I usually just listen to stuff in headphones in a totally unsocial way so I miss these things. I also never really thought about how much impact multitrack recording had on pop/rock production and how well it tied into psychedelia. So it’s cool to have that extra perspective.
At the same time I’m received to switch to something a bit lighter to read for a while… a couple graphic novels and then some sci fi
Three Body Problem trilogy
by Liu Cixin
After a badly translated first book, I persevered and read the second which has a different and way better translator. I’m not a big fan of sci-fi in general, but this series took me with its cleverness and savoured the third book in a weekend. Amazing series!
by Kurt Vonnegut
Got this recommended after reading the above 3BP. Can’t stop thinking about what it means to be “Unstuck in time” after this book. Super inspiring in form, writing and plot.
by Yuval Noah Harari
I wish this book was mandatory for history at my high school. Total recommendation for a more holistic (albeit heavily opinionated) view on history. Took me a while to finish as I was sometimes put off by the writers (patronising?) tone and often stopped reading to research the topics discussed.
This bit in the end of the book gave me some food for thought on the current European mindset:
“People continue to conduct a heroic struggle against racism without noticing that the battlefront has shifted, and that the place of racism in imperial ideology has now been replaced by ‘culturism’. There is no such word, but it’s about time we coined it. Among today’s elites, assertions about the contrasting merits of diverse human groups are almost always couched in terms of historical differences between cultures rather than biological differences between races. We no longer say, ‘It’s in their blood.’ We say, ‘It’s in their culture.”
The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth
by James M. Tabor
Being completely new to the topic of “supercave” exploration I binge-read this in two days as it felt like going on an expedition myself. It’s worth looking at photos of the caves along side reading to make up for the bad description of the environments in caves. Just wish the writer would limit stressing how dangerous caving is.
Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear
by Steve Goodman
Wanted to love this book because of the topic, but ended up stopping a couple of chapters in as I really disliked how its written: kind of pseudo academic with shallow references, a lot of conspiracy theories and a lot of hopping from one topic to another.
The $12 Million Stuffed Shark
The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art
by Don Thompson
Fascinating view into the economics and marketing effort in the high end contemporary art industry. The term “branded artist” struck a chord with me and got me thinking about the music industry and me as an artist as well.
Currently reading (or on to-read list):
- The Dream Machine by M. Mitchell Waldrop
- Musicmathics by Dr. Gareth Loy
- Designing Type by Karen Cheng
- Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists by Kay Larson
- Music by the Numbers by Eli Moar
This seems like the most suitable thread to drop this link: there’s a Computer Music Humble Book Bundle on at the moment with a bunch of interesting looking stuff in. I’m grabbing a copy! https://www.humblebundle.com/books/computer-music-books
I recently finished Mythology by Edith Hamilton, recommended to me by a friend after I tried to read a direct translation of the Iliad and got very confused. It’s a nice introduction to Greek and Roman mythological worlds, focused on the narratives themselves but with just enough helpful commentary and context.
In an attempt to understand renaissance polyphony better, I’ve been working through Gradus Ad Parnassum as translated by Alfred Mann, doing every single exercise. I just finished all five species of two voice composition and started on three voices. I love these old instructional texts written in the form of a discussion between a master and a student — Arbeau’s Orchesographie is another good example.
Fantastic! I had 3 or 4 of those books on my wishlist. Thanks for posting this.
Just finished this one. It was can’t-stop-reading fun, kind of Brandon Sanderson Lite (to be fair, some of Sanderson’s own books are Brandon Sanderson Lite). A few times I was frustrated at one of the main characters who is a mind-blowing badass at times, slipping into naivete and/or helpless damselhood according to the needs of the plot. But it ended with me making a strangled noise of dismay and preordering the sequel
Finished Harry Potter and The Deadly Hallows, which marks the end of my first read through of the series. That last book is so good; my favorite by far.
A Bang, A Whimper and A Beat: Industrial Music and Dystopia
I’m about 1/3 of the way through. I was a fan of industrial music but didn’t think about it too much, maybe because its politics in general aligned with my own so much I didn’t even find it remarkable. From a political standpoint it really seems like industrial is due for a resurgence – or maybe anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-bigotry, anti-exploitation sentiment has become too mainstream
More seriously, I don’t know if the genre has experienced a serious decline or if it’s more that my own tastes have shifted and I’m out of touch. It seems like the era of music taste transmitted by zines and local record shops is kind of over, but I don’t know if that’s because of streaming and social media and the (near-)mainstreaming of indepedent online music distribution… or if there’s still a thriving underground that I’m not cool enough to be aware of anymore.
Anyway, off to queue up a Youth Code album (the only band I’m aware of that seems to still be doing industrial “the right way”)
Ah, let us know how you like it in the end. After 2016 I dove deep back into the industrial music of my youth. Did Seem delightfully out of place to listen to Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly while exercising at the YMCA.
“on earth we’re briefly gorgeous” is really beautiful. an impressive fiction debut for sure
“Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now” by Alan Rusbridger, former editor of the Guardian newspaper. It’s an insider’s look at one one newspaper managed the change from print to digital, funding of newspapers and the some of the influences that has on editorial independence. It also covers the period of wikileaks, Snowden, and the phone hacking scandals in some of the UK press.
I would up skimming a bit of the book that attempted to transcribe five songs and listed responses to it collected from fans and non-fans. Otherwise I enjoyed the book overall, and reading an analysis of music I enjoyed without thinking about in quite that way.
If you enjoyed Home Deus, you might also want to check out this book by Robert Pepperell, called “The Posthuman Condition”. I read it while I was in college going down a deep posthuman/transhuman philosophical rabbit hole.
A little bit of a shift, but I just finished this and I think the deep rethinking of meaningful work would resonate with people here.
Matt Crawford, Shopcraft as Soulcraft.
It could almost be a riff on Zen and the Motorcycle Maintenance, but he’s not as obsessed with telling you how others thought, and more interested in telling you about the odd characters he has met that changed his perspective…
I don’t completely agree with it, but… he made me realize why I retreat from my professorial duties to my synth or my carpentry.
just finished reading this on your recommendation. Pretty much agree with everything you said, and would add that the plot/action was so active that it didn’t leave that much room for real character development… but that said, I’ll almost certainly be reading the second (and likely third) books as well. Cheers!
Share a review when you finish? I’ve been curious about that one.