about those engines

A few years ago, one of the new media brats made fun of this blog for "not liking recommendation engines."
The blog probably didn't call them that but instead something like "that thing where amazon or netflix thinks it knows the inside of your brain and makes shitty suggestions based on your past consumption."
"Engines" is too fancy a term for this. Engines generally work.
The brat's assumption here is that "engines" deserve consideration -- that they might be just as good as critics, even.
The societal problem isn't algorithms, per se, it's a loss of belief in criticism.
It's a Catch-22: one would have to have critical faculties to perceive that critics do a better job of choosing artworks.
Schools don't really teach that anymore (right?), hence faith in "engines."
Another way of asking this is "who designs the Turing Test for the critic AI?" If it's a software engineer what do they know about art criticism? Are the tech schools turning out polymaths lately?

notes for "Acid" Tracker Collection (mix for internet radio)

[I am working on a mix for (open source) internet radio streaming. Below are notes explaining my choices.* The mix is scheduled for this Thursday, Oct. 14, 9 pm Eastern on ffog's Myocyte show on tilderadio and anonradio.

Update, October 15, 2021: Thanks to all who listened and/or commented last night. The archived version of the mix in mp3 form is here.]

I collected these tracker music tunes over several years from Mazemod, a Flash-based website where songs could be streamed (it hasn't worked in my browser for a couple of years -- this may be Adobe-related). Mazemod had three flavors of streams: Bass, Acid, and Chip. I took all mine from the Acid category, which mimics '90s house, techno, and jungle styles.
The songs can all still be found as .mod files (see, e.g., https://modland.com/pub/modules/Protracker/) but at the time I saved these, Mazemod had no archive of the streams (that I could find). However, the player would allow you to backtrack to just-played songs, and using this feature I recorded my favorite tunes on a PC, writing down the titles as I went.
As anyone who watched the film 8-Bit knows (recently released as $2.99 stream on Vimeo), not everyone loves chiptune music, especially when made on the Gameboy. Chiptune is more of a flavor than a lifestyle, best heard in small doses. (Less is not always more.) Tracker music, however, which includes game-like music as a subset, adapts the 8-bit ethos to more fully-fleshed-out club tunes, giving an appealing lightness and speed to the music it seeks to emulate. It's essentially played on spreadsheets, with note-on commands triggering an inboard library of highly compressed, low-res samples, which fire out of the speakers like machine gun bullets. It may be an illusion but it just feels lighter, because the samples load so quickly. There is a raspy, gritty quality to the sounds because of all the shed bytes. Many of these solutions for playing rave tunes in an Excel-like piano roll are ingenious. How do they make those 303 runs, turntable scratches, and delays sound so spontaneous? There is humor, life, and sheer joy in these songs, making them infinitely listenable.
Below is a list of the tracks, with footnotes for a few recognizable vocal samples. Apologies for any errors in this hastily handmade metadata:

00:00 The Fox II, "Groovedoos"
03:25 Group (?) "The Celsius" (Justice 96 Remix)
07:28 Raatomestari "More Life" (1)
11:19 Raina, "Smile"
12:41 Tang, "Narhim"
15:57 Revi, "Frozen 35"
19:12 Dupont and Dopegroove, "The Love Is Gone"
25:46 Jean Nine, "Jean Learns to Race" (2)
29:35 Zetor, "Trippin"
32:02 MEFIS, "Connection Busy"
37:04 Fakiiri, "Bumblebi"
41:17 The Fox II, "Naihanchida Remix" (3)
45:52 Orlingo, "Live and Uncut"
49:38 Tarmslyng, "Goodbymetal"
55:13 Pekka Pou, "Trip to Ahtaruup"
58:07 Voicer, "Lollypop"

1. Rutger Hauer saying "I want more life," from Blade Runner
2. From Reservoir Dogs: "This is a hard job." "So's working at McDonalds's but you don't feel the need to tip them, do you?" and "You kill anybody?" "A few cops." "No real people?" "Just cops."
3. Martin Luther King, "This must become true," "Let freedom ring," etc

*This essay also appears on the anonradio blog.

Chamber Bits 2 (new Bandcamp release)

Am pleased to announce my 39th Bandcamp release, Chamber Bits.

Liner notes:

Continuing the hard drive spelunking begun on Chamber Bits.
Many traditional (sampled) instruments are used here and there is little concern with hiding the "MIDI vibe." The order of the songs is roughly the order in which they were produced. (I tend not to have multiple songs going and prefer banging my head finishing one completely, then moving to another.) The compositions fluctuate between (i) my "live" keyboard playing, a form of automatic writing tamed by later editing of the recorded MIDI notes, and (ii) Tracktion's "pattern generator" for creating melodies, basslines, arpeggios, and rhythmic chords that all stay in harmony. As I was mentioning to a friend, I have no idea what "normal" use of the pattern generator is -- maybe I'm using it exactly as intended.

Released October 7, 2021

If you'd like to support this blog (now in its 20th, ad-free year) buying the occasional Bandcamp song or LP is a great way to do that.

around the web: cults

The Cult of the Professional Class, an essay by Kristine Mattis, appeared in April 2016 on the left-leaning Counterpunch.org website and is still relevant. Naked Capitalism calls the cult "PMC" (professional-managerial class). Mattis describes the background and the agenda of these creatures (Ivy League, pro-war, pro-"markets," condescending) and you could certainly see from her description in 2016 how they would react to Trump (horror, followed by four years of bogus Russiagate narratives) and how they would handle covid (demonizing the vaccine-hesitant).

Apogee, writing on The Saker blog, identifies two cults reacting to covid, and distrusts them both equally: "Faction 1" (Governments, Big Pharma and Pro-Vaxxers) and "Faction 2" (Dissidents). The PMC has mostly lined up with Faction 1, of course. Apogee also identifies "Faction 3" (The Quiet Ones): "These are the knowledgeable, the educated; they may be accepting of vaccinations or not; and this group wants to discuss these events with smarts and sense in terms of how modern humanity should and can handle this global outbreak."

Apogee gives a good rundown at the end of the post of how different countries are handling covid, and the status of the outbreak in those countries. This is a needed reality-check to all the Faction 1 vs Faction 2 fighting that has embroiled the USA.

Update: Good critique of the covid response from the left is rare. Many so-called progressives have moved to the authoritarian right on the subject of mandates, wishing death on the vaccine-hesitant, etc. Fabio Vighi has noted the timely appearance of a health emergency just as bank bailouts were beginning; his views are discussed more pointedly in Off-Guardian.