Top of 2020* – Top Albums & Songs (Ambient)

*Rated R

Behold: a list of ambient albums and also songs, perfectly tailored for a year that tested the boundaries of our selfish resolve.

Apple Music Playlist:

Top of 2020 – Top Albums (Ambient)

11 Mary Lattimore

11. Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders

A classically trained harpist, Silver Ladders is Lattimore’s newest LP. Produced by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead, who had never recorded a harp before, at his studio (located on an old airfield) in late 2019. The resultant album is a mesmerizing soundscape that teleported me to a pristine ocean of calming waves.

10. The Soft Pink Truth – Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?

Pretty impressive for a musical side project that basically exists because of a dare. Rewards repeat spins.

9. Sarah Davachi – Cantus, Descant

Just put it on.

8. Mort Garson – Music from Patch Cord Productions

Mort Garson first really showed up on my radar in 2019, with the reissue of his most-excellent record, Plantasia. A writer, conductor, and arranger for many years, Garson’s turning point allegedly arrived when he encountered an early prototype of Robert Moog’s synthesizer at the Audio Engineering Society’s West Coast convention in 1967, where he purchased one of the machines and set about experimenting with it copiously. Over the ensuing turbulence of the 60s and the 70s in the USA, he maintained a prolific output and employed the synth in nearly every project he worked on. Eventually, in 1976, he recorded his 1976 magnum opus, Plantasia. Garson also dabbled between projects, recording days’ worth of material that never saw daylight outside of his home studio.

Music From Patch Cord Productions showcases Garson’s ability to straddle multiple worlds, from the commercial to the far, far out, dude. Via Garson’s wizardry, the synthesizer transcended novelty to ubiquity and dominance. 

7. Bing & Ruth – Species


6. Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood – Chicago Waves

Endlessly improvisational.

5. Laraaji – The Piano Trilogy

Music for empty sanctuaries.

4. His Name is Alive – Return to Never (Home Recordings 1979-1986), Vol. 2

Sublime tape hiss.

3. Roy Montgomery – Scenes from the South Island (1995)

Another reissue.

2. Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster & Panaiotis – Deep Listening (1989)

Music for cisterns.

1. Roger Eno & Brian Eno – Mixing Colours (Expanded)

A collaborative album between brothers, Mixing Colours is something at once sweeping and grand, and at the same time, intimate and secretive. Welcome to my private study, please feel free to examine my gem collection.

The Birria Boom Is Complicated, but Simply Delicious – The New York Times

“The hype for birria is relentless. On Instagram, there’s a collective fetishization of cheese pulls in extreme close-ups, and images of tacos half-dipped in Styrofoam cups of meaty broth. The parade of magnificent, bonkers mash-ups is endless — birria waffles, birria pizza, birria fries, birria pho, birria tortellini. Birria cooking videos work more like pieces of choreography on TikTok, changing slightly each time a new person performs them.”

I myself began experimenting with making my own house birria at the start of the pandemic in spring of 2020. It seemed like a great dish with many potential applications, and I was even able to package up some and share it around with local friends by dropping off small prepackaged containers to them.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve perhaps made the dish a dozen times, each time tweaking my approach, my ingredients, and the types and cuts of beef that I’ve used. I haven’t yet tried cooking with lamb or goat, but I have yet to tire of this rich, warm, delicious dish and it’s many possible incarnations.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency Opines on Impeachment

Oh my god.

You know, everyone keeps repeating this story about Ben Franklin over and over again  —  you know the one  —  about how in 1787, as the Constitution was adopted, Americans gathered on the steps of Independence Hall. When they saw Franklin, they asked, ‘What do we have, a republic or a monarchy?’ and Franklin replied, ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’

But what did Ben Franklin even mean by that? Was he trying to say that a Democracy is only as strong as its institutions and that if the people in power become nakedly corrupt and are not checked, that Democracy becomes a hollow pretense that’s no better than a despotic monarchy? Or did he mean that the newly founded nation was a banana republic?

I Can’t Tell If It’s Satire: The Best Coldplay Songs Of All Time, Ranked

Leaving aside the fact that ranked lists are inherently subjective, I honestly cannot tell if this one is an elaborate satire or if perhaps the author concluded that actually choosing a “best” Coldplay song was an exercise in self-flagellating effrontery.

Here it is: A line of demarcation between those of us who embrace Coldplay as the music that serves the least desirable and neediest parts of ourselves, and those people who try to deny that such a part of themselves exists (in public anyway). Loving Coldplay means acknowledging that Aaron Sorkin was right to score a screamingly melodramatic montage from The Newsroom to this daringly sappy and ultimately overpowering emotional gut-punch. Yes, it’s embarrassing. And, sure, mocking this sort of thing will get you hundreds of likes and retweets on Twitter. But the next time you’re alone, and your phone is out of batteries, and you feel broken, you will put on this song and the part where Will Champion’s drums and Guy Berryman’s bass crash in behind Jonny Buckland’s soaring guitar will … fix you. And, like Chris Martin sings, tears will stream down your face. And then the song will end, and you will tell no one. But we’ll know.

Source: The Best Coldplay Songs Of All Time, Ranked

Paradox of tolerance

Philosopher Karl Popper defined the paradox in 1945 in The Open Society and Its Enemies Vol. 1 (in note 4 to Chapter 7).

Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

Source: Wikipedia

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre or, Socrates in the Desert

Socratic lessons can be articulated in all manner of ways. Pedro Blas Gonzalez examines John Huston’s 1947 fable about avarice and greed.

This is a story told from the perspective of time and the ironic constitution of the former, as this relates to human existence. What is so daunting about Dobbs’ fate does not seem important, that is, until we attempt to make sense of it. How does Dobbs’ story play out in actual human existence? Because cinema employs a closed-ended logic, that is, a resolution, the viewer is afforded a propaedeutic for future action.

propaedeutic | ˌprōpēˈd(y)o͞odik | formal

adjective: (of an area of study) serving as a preliminary instruction or as an introduction to further study.

noun: an introduction to a subject or area of study.

Via: Senses of Cinema

“The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” – Original 1948 New York Times Review

I just got through watching John Huston’s 1948 adventure film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart and currently sitting at #120 on IMDb’s Top 250 Movies list. A cursory search for commentary on the film turned up the original 1948 review in the N.Y. Times, which ends with a strange sentence.

To the honor of Mr. Huston’s integrity, it should be finally remarked that women have small place in this picture, which is just one more reason why it is good.

Indeed, women barely factor into the 2 hour runtime of the film. Every speaking role is male. The tale is certainly steeped in masculinity, manifesting as naked ambition, paranoia, and a deft commentary on the soul-warping power of greed. Perhaps the reviewer simply thought that the fairer sex were simply too good to be an integral component of a story so bleak, rugged and philosophical. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Via The New York Times

Extreme points of Earth – Wikipedia

Volcán Chimborazo
By Dabit100/ David Torres CostalesPictures of Ecuador [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons
I’m a sucker for Wikipedia articles like this one listing off a number of extreme points on Earth. Fascinating to think about the difference between the highest peak above sea level (Mount Everest), as opposed to point farthest from the center of the planet:

The point farthest from the Earth’s center is the summit of Chimborazo in Ecuador, at 6,384.4 kilometres (3,967.1 mi) from the center of the earth (the peak’s elevation in relation to sea level is 6,263.47 m (20,549 ft)). This is because the Earth is an oblate spheroid rather than a perfect sphere: it is wider at the equator and narrower between the poles. Therefore, the summit of Chimborazo, which is near the equator, is farther away from the center of the Earth than the summit of Mount Everest (the summit of Mount Everest is 2,168 m (7,112.9 feet) closer, at 6,382.3 km (3,965.8 miles) to the Earth’s center).

Source: Extreme points of Earth – Wikipedia

2016 – The Year in Review – The Year in Music

A sense of time marching on.

Years go in the blink of an eye.

Death patiently waits to claim all alike.

Set out running but I take my time
A friend of the devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I may just get some sleep tonight

Top of 2016 – Apple Music playlist

Best albums:

1. Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker
2. Karl Blau – Introducing…
3. Angel Olsen – MY WOMAN
4. Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat to Earth
5. David Bowie – Blackstar
6. Kevin Morby – Singing Saw
7. Merely – Uncanny Valley
8. Various Artists – Day of the Dead
9. Whitney – Light Upon the Lake
10. Local Natives – Sunlit Youth

And that’s about it.