Archive | Music


Song of the Day #187: Money

Lido – Money

Last week when I was in Seattle I caught a Lido show at The Crocodile in Belltown and it was an amazing show. Having only known Lido as a music producer, I didn’t know that he was such an accomplished musician at the age of 23.

Check out Lido on Youtube for some fantastic live performance videos, including a few with a full orchestra.

Published on October 30, 2015

What’s New: October 9th

Recent Music

A number of new albums have gone into my listening rotation over the last week:

  • Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon
  • The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness
  • Big Grams (debut EP from Big Boi & Phantogram collar)
  • Run the Jewels – Meow the Jewels
  • Arcade Fire – The Reflektor Tapes
  • Drake – What a Time to Be Alive
  • Emancipator – Seven Seas

The biggest surprise among these albums has been The Weeknd, which is what I would describe as dark R&B. It is dark in a similar way to Lana Del Rey, eschewing the glossy, over-produced sheen of mainstream music in this genre and replacing it with an underground electronic music crossover vibe. Most of the songs are about sex, drugs, and partying, tinged with bitterness and heartbreak. Sonically, the production is slick and is reminiscent of this collaboration between Usher and Diplo a few years ago. In 2015 it feels like R&B is headed in an entirely new direction.

One of the most anticipated recent album releases is Meow the Jewels, a remix album of songs from 2014’s Run the Jewels 2, one of the most critically-acclaimed rap albums of the last few years. The concept behind the remix album is to bring a collection of excellent producers (like Just Blaze and The Alchemist) together to remix the RTJ2 using cat sounds. Here’s one song from that album, accompanied by an off-the-wall music video:

Recent Articles

  • China: The Anaconda in the Chandelier – Not an article that was published recently, but one that remains highly relevant and was brought to my attention yesterday. Compares and contrasts censorship and surveillance in the Soviet Union during the Cold War with modern day China. The parallels may be less than you imagine, with China engineering a much more sophisticated and psychologically effective system.
  • China’s Nightmarish Citizen Scores Are a Warning For Americans – The ACLU published this article this week, describing the much talked-about upcoming credit system in China which goes far beyond measuring personal financial prudence. This kind of a system makes a lot of sense for China, but the relationship between that system and one that may eventually appear in the United States does not seem far fetched. Like China’s Golden Shield project which caused a lot of uproar, it’s conceivable that this system could be abandoned before it’s scheduled to be made mandatory in 2020.
  • ISIS Makes Gains in Syria Territory Bombed By Russia – Between Russia taking a stand against opposition forces and refugees flooding Germany, Syria has suddenly become one of the most-discussed countries on earth.
  • Taking the ‘Smart Drug’ Modafinil Made Me Love Work but Hate People – Interesting first-person perspective on modafinil, the mental performance-enhancing drug which has become increasingly popular over the last two years. I have a few friends who take this stuff on a regular basis.

New Apps & Tools

Pause: Stress Relief on iPhone

This week I was introduced to an app called Pause by a friend, developed by ustwo, the same design group that made MoodNotes. I haven’t used it extensively but the concept and principles behind the app are fascinating and it is worth checking out. For now it is exclusive to the iOS App Store and costs $1.99 which is a paltry amount for something this well made. In a word, I would describe the experience of using it as mesmerizing. Here’s a video describing Pause and describing the development process, along with a link to the app below:

View Pause in the App Store

Habitica: Gamified Habit Tracking

This is an updated and improved version of a web-based called called HabitRPG which has been around for a few years. In this latest iteration, it is vastly updated and adds a lot of new functionality along with a greatly improved user experience. It’s available on iPhone for free and it’s available at for free as well.

View Habitica in the App Store
Published on October 9, 2015

Song of the Day #186: Loud Places

Jamie XX – Loud Places

Another song off Jamie XX’s debut studio album released earlier this year In Colour. Unlike Sleep Sound, this song was one of the singles which debuted before the release of the album (along with the stripped-down nü-rave song titled Gosh). The music video directed by Simon Halsall & JB Babenhausen is not one that I had seen until a few days ago, but it suits the song well. The confetti at 3:22 into the video is a really nice effect.

Read more about Jamie XX on Wikipedia.

Published on October 5, 2015

Song of the Day #185: Katachi

Shugo Tokumaru – Katachi

A song produced and recorded by Tokyo-based Shugo Tokumaru, a multi-instrumentalist and member of the Japanese rock band Gellers. The video is amazing and was created by Kijek/Adamski, a Polish duo which has become known for this frame-by-frame visual art style.

Published on September 29, 2015

What’s New: September 25th

Recent Music

Applescal ForThis week I discovered some fantastic new European musicians:

  • Applescal from Amsterdam, a deep house producer
  • Chinese Man, a trip hop and reggae trio hailing from Aix-en-Provence in the South of France

Applescal – Airport

Applescal released an album earlier this year titled For, which is the one I have been listening to on repeat. My favorite tracks on the album are Airport and Matter, the former is below.

The album artwork for their recently released album is beautiful also. It’s pictured at right and appears in the Soundcloud song embedded below.

Chinese Man – One Upon a Time ft. Tumi

Chinese Man a collective that has existed for over ten years, which I am now just discovering. The album series which I’ve been listening to is called The Groove Sessions but you can find a collection of other songs on the Chinese Man Soundcloud. Their sound is very analog, warm and organic, and reminiscent of other European contemporary artists like Wax Tailor, C2C, and Birdy Nam Nam. Their songs frequently feature guest vocalists and rappers, like this one which features South African rapper Tumi Molekane.

Recent Articles

  • China is Building the Mother of All Reputation Systems to Monitor Citizen Behavior – This is not even remotely surprising but the wide variance in the perception of the role and responsibility of government is fascinating. Rogier Creemers, a China expert at Oxford University, says: “In Europe and the U.S., there’s a notion that the state should be constrained, that it’s not right to intervene in people’s lives, unless for justified reasons. In China, the state has no qualms about that. It says ‘data allows us to make society for better, so we’re going to use it.”
  • Kickstarter CEO Discusses Company’s New Charter, Goals for the Gaming Space – Kickstarter has doubled down on their social commitment with this decision to deprecate the ordinary overarching goal of companies: profit. Says the Kickstarter CEO: “When you normally think of corporate responsibility and social good I think you immediately go to granola, crunchy sort of concepts. But I think this is much more progressive and futuristic. And, you know, this provision as a part of corporate law has only been in existence for a few years, but we join companies like Patagonia, This American Life in becoming a benefit corporation.” Their charter is refreshingly straight-forward and clear, coming it at just 500 words: Kickstarter Charter
  • Uber Launches UberCommute, a Carpooling Service Starting in China – This is huge news for Chengdu, which has recently been named by Uber as their “Number one city”. Amazing achievement for Uber to see such explosive growth in Chengdu, of all places. We have published multiple articles about Uber in Chengdu on Chengdu Living and I’m sure there will be more.
  • A Coded Rant About China’s Government Goes Viral – Instead of having Fox News and protests, China has a much more creative form of dissent, described and translated in this story published by The Atlantic. It is an imaginative demonstration of poetic subversion, and also somewhat chilling.
  • A New Book Praises China’s Governance Model, but Overlooks Its Politics – A fair and balanced criticism of what is the most poorly-timed book release in recent memory. After years of soaring optimism about China’s governance and future prospects, the floor beneath global faith in China falls out and then this shamelessly apologetic book comes out. Embarrassing for the author, although I have no doubt that he is surrounded by people who encourage his one-sided narrative at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

One Video

A live remix project created by Japanese musician Shawn Wasabi, using a custom-made Midi Fighter (made by DJ Tech Tools). His timing is so precise that without looking at the video you would have no idea that this is performed live. Composed using pieces of 153 different songs that were cut up and re-contextualized into this final piece. The bubbles 1:09 into the video are a terrific small detail.

Published on September 25, 2015

Song of the Day #184: Lackluster No.

Nova Heart – Lackluster No.

A single off the debut album of Beijing-based band Nova Heart which was released a few months ago in July. It comes with a visually interesting music video that is criminally under viewed on Youtube. I mentioned Nova Heart here in 2013, after serendipitously catching them at a local show and being impressed. They among the best bands that I have seen in China, but this is a song and album release that went under my radar. And almost everyone else’s, apparently.

Published on September 21, 2015

Song of the Day #183: Lofticries

Purity Ring – Lofticries

Purity Ring is a Canadian synthpop duo hailing from Montreal, Canada who released their second album this year. I have a deep mental association of this particular song with Berlin, after spending a week there last year and listening to the debut Purity Ring album on repeat while exploring the city on foot.

It is an amazing song, and the other single off this album (Fineshrine) is also. Both of them have pretty charming music videos, which is a bonus. Unfortunately the sophomore album from Purity Ring, released this year, does not capture the same dark and heavy atmosphere that these two singles off the debut album have.

More about Purity Ring on Wikipedia.

Published on September 15, 2015

Song of the Day #182: Back & Forth

20Syl – Back & Forth

I recently stumbled upon this song in the Apple Watch commercial below. Really fantastic to see such an outstanding independent musician get an enormous platform like this. As one of the watches is spinning, you can see that it says 20Syl. If you aren’t familiar with 20Syl: Kodama

Published on September 11, 2015