May 2021

by Liero Plantir

Here’s some albums, mixes, articles and books I enjoyed in the month of May. 

These are my five favourite albums I’ve listened to in May. I wrote some initial thoughts on each one if you’re interested.

Skee Mask
Shida Shahabi
The Serpentine Path
Jo Johnson
Cucina Povera
Shock Power of Love EP
Burial + Blackdown


Shida Shahabi - live performance for Lumen Project ‘Transmission’

This isn’t really a mix but it’s a performance that I couldn’t leave out. It’s hard to describe how beautifully Shida plays, her music leaves me speechless. It’s so raw and full of emotion and strikes your soul in a way that other artists can’t even get close to. This performance is beyond mesmerising, every note permeates through my whole body leaving me in a state of awe each time I watch. Everything about this performance is magical, it would be a dream to see her live one day.
perila & ulla ‘silence mix’ (3XL #03 for rádio quântica)

This is one of the best mixes I think I’ve ever listened to. The first time I listened it felt like an out-of-body experience and was exactly what I needed at the time. It’s difficult not to become immersed in it even if you have it on in the background. The subtlety of the selection and mixing is unmatched taking you through what feels like a lifetime of emotion and soul-searching. It’s still difficult for me to comprehend this mix, so beautiful.

Radio 1 Wind Down Presents… Ostgut Ton: Paramida

I’m not sure if this mix is available to listen to anymore but you can still check out the tracklist here. Paramida really took the Wind Down to another level with this mix. Sit back and listen and you’ll know what I mean. 
003/Dont kill the vibe - Charlotte Rocchi

This mix is something a bit different. It’s an eclectic mix of tracks from jazz, experimental, hip-hop and so much more, tastefully put together. It’s very blessed so I would highly recommend. set - wonja

It’s difficult to listen to a wonja set and not have your mind blown, and this is no different. Her selections are insane and unmatched by anyone. This mix goes through so many genres and styles within an hour that you’re inevitably left speechless by her genius. She really is one of the best out there.


Why You’re Christian

It’s always interesting to delve into the ways in which religion has shaped and continues to shape society. In the past few decades there’s been more and more opposition to religious ideas which have most notably arisen through various atheist movements.

Despite there being valid reasons behind these movements I still think it’s important to understand why religion is still prominent and not be so quick to dismiss those ideas. Perell breaks this argument down quite succinctly allowing you to question the origins of your own values and those of society. A really good read if you tend to question the value of religion.
The Rise and Fall of Online Culture Wars

The internet is still a very young place, yet it has more information contained in it than pretty much all of human history. Given its rapid growth, adoption, and ability to connect people, culture wars are rather inevitable and have evolved in very strange ways. It’s also quite difficult to piece together the history of these culture wars from the past few decades, however if there’s a man to attempt to do it it would be Astral Codex Ten.

I wasn’t really using the Internet in some of these early years so I don’t remember much of the early stuff but it’s definitely interesting to see the rise of fall of different buzzwords and social affiliations. He goes over the life cycle of feminism across the Internet and theorizes what the impact of this was on other trends such as racism, atheism, alt-right, socialism and so much more. You really could spend days going over this kind of stuff and in the comments section on this post. These wars define so much of popular culture these days despite being dominated by a small concentration of people. It’s difficult to know how close to reality many things are when you spend so much time being involved or reading about these kinds of things.

This is such a weird, fresh part of history that seems incredibly odd and dystopic but is only really the start of something even weirder. It’s hard to predict what the future of culture wars will be like but the one certainty is that they will be more confusing than ever. This post really does illustrate some fundamental human natures and at the same time what a mind-fuck the Internet actually is.

What You’ll Wish You’d Known

This is a speech that Paul Graham planned on giving for a high school, so that’s the primary audience, however as you can imagine it’s full of age-old wisdom which serves as an interesting read.

It’s an interesting perspective on the way in which to view your future career, especially the idea that the world changes so quickly therefore it’s not a good idea to have fixed plans. He also acknowledges the growth in character of a person from a young age and that we create completely new lives almost every year or have the ability to do so. This relates to the idea of ‘never giving up on your dreams’ because for most people dreams are not consistent with one's own change in character.

The main theme throughout is the idea of not giving up and continually working towards new things, goals and interests. More specifically this relates to working on hard problems that move you forward and trying to avoid things that waste your time.

‘What I mean by getting something done is learning how to write well, or how to program computers, or what life was really like in preindustrial societies, or how to draw the human face from life.’

The latter part of the essay talks about the dangers of committing to things such as getting into university and focusing too much on grades. This also relates to the idea of not feeling like a victim from the tyrannical elements of school. 

‘Rebellion is almost as stupid as obedience. In either case you let yourself be defined by what they tell you to do.’

The main thing is to stay curious which is part of my own personal philosophy as well. It feels like there’s so much interesting things to do, see and learn that to be in a constant state of excitement about endless possibilities is something that I try to maintain in my own life.
Power, Proximity, and Standup Comedy

I’ve never really been into stand-up comedy, I find it to be kind of forced and unnatural, although maybe I’ve never found the right comedian. It’s obviously an entirely different art form to just making people laugh, however I’ve never really thought about the wider implications of what it entails.

Danco argues that ‘the most pure expression of power you’ll ever see is stand-up comedy’. He refers to the purity of stand-up comedy in which you are ‘making a crowd of strangers laugh, under your control’. He differentiates this from making a single stranger or your friends laugh.

‘Pure power - not the power of institutions or structures, but raw, personal charisma that lets single individuals lead groups of people - isn’t actually all that complicated. It’s rare and difficult; but it’s not complicated. There are only two variables: proximity and intimacy.’

Danco goes on to explain why stand-up takes advantage of this proximity - intimacy relationship. He compares it to other activities such as concerts stating that ‘if the hardest skill in the world is to get a group of strangers to laugh under your control, the second hardest is to get them to dance’. He identifies a moment of ‘discharge’ when crowds form out of individuals and the moment where intimacy is originated.

Environments are also a large factor in creating intimacy which I’ve been thinking about a lot and it sort of espouses the ideas in The Art of Gathering. Crammed environments are always the best kinds of places to create intimacy.

‘I’ve always laughed at the idea of people showing off open-concept houses with all the walls removed as “great for entertaining”, because that’s the opposite of true: the best parties happen in houses with several tiny rooms.’

It’s a fascinating read and has given me a new perspective on stand-up comedy, so I’d definitely recommend.

‘Comedy is really two things: it’s revealing the absurd inside the logical, and revealing the logical inside the absurd.’

‘Luxury beliefs’ are the latest status symbol for rich Americans

I’ve been enjoying a lot of Rob Henderson’s writing recently. He mainly focuses on all things to do with human nature, which as you can imagine, is a rather expansive topic. This post focuses on one of his most prominent ideas, luxury beliefs.

Luxury beliefs are ‘ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class’. One of the first examples Henderson gives is the idea that all family structures are equal, which is not true.

‘Evidence is clear that families with two married parents are the most beneficial for young children. And yet, affluent, educated people raised by two married parents are more likely than others to believe monogamy is outdated, marriage is a sham or that all families are the same.’

This is illustrated by the differences in the marriage rate between the upper and lower class since the 1960s. Marriage rates of affluent Americans are nearly the same as they were in the 1960s, whereas for the working class this has dramatically declined.

Henderson goes on to give further examples from religion, luck and racial disparities. It’s a really compelling idea and if any of this sounds interesting I’d recommend some of his other popular essays such as his assessment of Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class.

Another slow month of reading but with a much better book.