mit oder ohne alles


Been googling stuff and looking at suggestions, trying out different phrases and looking at the results. This is quite a trivial goal, but pursuing such trivial goals will only contribute to your zen balance.


Why not?

Today I watched a screening of Haneke’s Funny Games (1997) at a place called Sameheads, located in Berlin. My first thoughts are mixed, though the positive aspects are in the majority. There are definitely a few reasons to dislike some of the devices they used, but psychologically (within the narrative, from inside the story) it’s priceless. Also some dialogue parts are genius.

“Why not?” seems like a question only God could answer

One of the rather regrettable things about Funny Games are probably protagonists’ direct appeals to the camera. I’m still not entirely sure why Haneke would do that (and only a few times, so that it does not become a significant something within the movie). To me it seems like a Bertolt Brecht move, an epic theatre thing that creates a diegetic distance to the internal drama. In my opinion this is something that is not only unnecessary but also distracts from what is important here: a gradual “progress” towards gross social rule violations all while retaining this politeness (as in adherence to social norms). I had to think of hypnosis and how certain suggestions are just being followed, also I don’t think the boys’ motivation was without purpose. I think their foremost premise, though not obviously based on any ethical values, is to challenge critical decisions and in this hindsight the family is losing due to its inability to adapt to extreme situations. They’ve been safe for too long.

I heard people comparing Funny Games to Saw, also known for torturing scenes. But the thing here is not torture itself, and also not a lesson that is being taught, it’s about the motivation to commit the torture. The bad guys in Funny Games are not following any outlined ethical guidelines, they just do it — hence the name, hence all the absurdity, hence the Why not? 

As opposed to Saw with its semi-mysterious killer (who is mostly hiding in the background) the killers here are two polite boys who (almost) never overstep obvious social rules, such as politeness. These same social rules are getting exploited in the most obscene way possible. The bad guys never explicitly pose a threat, unlike the killer in Saw, until they do (i.e. until the situation escalates towards literal violence). They do enter the scene. Even though the killer in Saw also plays a game with his victims, turning violence and murder into something macabre and seemingly arbitrary (at least in its intensity), the kind of sadism involved in Funny Games, or its motivation, is different. In Saw, the suffering protagonists are being punished for something they did in the past, while in Funny Games there is no such (obvious) connection — it’s only about playing along. It’s not about following instructions, but rather about the desolate side of being embedded into conventions of communication. Funny Games doesn’t want to teach you anything. The movie almost makes a mockery of the act of violence, leaving it to the viewer to judge the ultimately inhuman deeds of the bad guys.

As opposed to Saw, Funny Games takes quite a long time to “warm up” for real, literal, physical brutality. Haneke shows more of an approaching threat, or a threat that boils under the surface for a while, until the literal things get unleashed. This makes Funny Games more of a pure(ly psychological) terror, rather than terror-horror mix that we get in Saw. For those who don’t know: Terror is the anticipation of something horrifying or torturing, while horror shows terror AND revulsion of its consequences (e.g. corpses, blood etc.).



The-Dream is back with another album, Genesis, and I’m all ears. As the name implies, the new release is dealing with God, signifying an interesting change of topic atmosphere since the last EP Love You To Death (that I had already reviewed in December, see here), that was mostly personal, almost introverted and nostalgic.

Religious themes have been a re-occurring thing within pop culture, however in most cases these references have been lacking a certain depth, something that goes beyond the protagonist’s relationship to God, beyond statements like Only God can judge me. What The-Dream is doing here (especially in Blasphemy, a track on Genesis) is installing a frame of sacrality around topics that could have been (and usually are) portrayed in a way more mundane way.

You can almost feel that this album is the result of some kind of epiphany. Given that The-Dream is, or should be, your average R’n’B artist singing about indulgence in sexual intercourse and party, I can’t explain the emergence of this album other than by the appearance of an angel who came down to touch The-Dream’s face at night when he was sleeping. This led to a drastic change in his cognition, him thinking in bigger pictures, ultimately paying more respect to his existence than if he would only be be singing about the shallow joys of capitalism. What’s bigger than God? That’s right, nothing.

The-Dream has collaborated with Gym Class Heroes, Big Sean, Pusha T, Solange, Drake and Snoop Dogg. He wrote Umbrella for Rihanna and Beyoncé’s All The Single Ladies. He has also released a bunch of albums in the past, and I’m not familiar with most of them.


Public Grace

Having watched several episodes of Black Mirror recently, I think it’s intriguing to discuss it. It almost doesn’t make sense to talk about Black Mirror as a whole because it consists of non-interrelated episodes, tied together by very inspired production and storytelling of a very talented team of people. Today I mainly want to talk about one episode, which goes by the name Nosedive. Be aware, there are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen Season 3 Episode 1 of Black Mirror, make sure you do it before reading this.

Happy with her score: Lacie (Black Mirror: Nosedive)

Enjoying a private moment with her score: Lacie (Black Mirror: Nosedive)

Visions of the future are a common thing not only within arts, but also science and technology, and — on a more personal level — of course for each individual. Black Mirror has been giving us different scenarios in each episode. This one is kind of spinning forth a vision of an omnipresent social evaluation system that can be thought of as a logical step in development of social media (such as facebook). Bringing together social media and augmented reality could be considered a natural combination, as it’s already the case with games, see e.g. Pokemon Go.

What would have been perceived as an almost unrealistically futuristic scenario years ago, or at least far enough away, is now approaching us in a very apparent or immediate way. I guess you could say that Black Mirror is thinking things through, outlining a specific future scenario that is terrifyingly plausible.

But back to the episode: Social implications are probably the most important part here. We are being confronted with an environment of constant monitoring and self-censorship, which is clearly stressing people out, as indicated on several occasions in this episode. Yet a couple of promising questions arise: How much self-restriction are you willing to take in order to fit in? As in: How much do we all have to ‘shut up’ (or do the opposite)?

Constant Evaluation

Nosedive takes us to a very unrelaxed world of constant social evaluation.

Then there are those pastel colors. They soften the overall impression and perhaps leave the viewer with a somewhat numb or anesthetized vision of a dystopia, as a world where UI is omnipresent, where your social score is transparent and publicly accessible. The future looks very watered down and sugary, an image reminiscent of Pleasantville (1998) or even Brave New World — suppressed emotions resulting in a state that is sedated and tense at the same time.

In other words: The future wears a ton of make up. And this is where the development happens: Over time the episode progresses from clean to dirty, from silent to loud, from friendly to angry, gradually making the viewer come back to ‘normal’, or real life, the actual pre-technology default mode — with all its conflicts and raw stuff. My verdict: ★★★★★.

► Read summary on Wikipedia
► Watch the episode on Vimeo
► Wikihow: How To Stop Comparing Yourself to Others



Sorry, Top 30 of 2016, but you will have to deal with an update. I have just discovered The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and its Mutations shall be my new #1 album of the year. I know it sounds a little exuberant, but just listen to this.

My blog has been discussing so much music lately that it seems to be slowly turning into a music reviews magazine. In order to prevent this from happening, next post is going to be about something entirely different.

Speaking of music though: As I have discovered very recently, Tame Impala’s The Moment is one shameless rip-off of Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Isn’t it fascinating? Dibs on that idea.

copy & paste this

Discoveries 2016

As this year is coming to an end, it’s time to summarize it. Here’s my albums/EPs top 30. The list is based on different factors and especially the second part of it could have a (slightly) different order. Don’t be bothered with the order more than necessary.

I have discovered many new artists this year. This is largely due to my especially intense curiosity and Spotify. Thank you Spotify. Even though you might not be good for the music industry, you’re an excellent discovery tool. Artists (and thus albums) I have left out in the below list include Steve Hauschildt, Jon Bap, Eastghost, Helado Negro, Chinese Man, Whitney, Doctor Flake, Jonny Nash, Scraps, Cocainejesus, Idealism, S U R V I V E, Leisure and too many others.

The list is probably incomplete. While I’m writing this, Omar Rodriguez Lopez has released another album. This man has been releasing albums like a cornflakes factory this year.

Kind of out of this world: This picture.

Kind of out of this world: This picture.

ALBUMS & EPs of the year 2016: 1-10

    1. The Black Dog – The Book of Dogma III
      ► Mental Health Hotline (video)
      This is my #1. Experimental, hypnotic, dark, has something ungraspable to it.
    2. Tidus – Why We’re Here On Earth (EP)
      ► See You There (video)
      Tidus is probably my #1 discovery this year. I absolutely adore his style and his sometimes indiscernible speek.
    3. STS9 – The Universe Inside
      ► Supercluster (video); Sun, Moon & Stars
      This is out of this world. There’s even a track called Out Of This World on this album.
    4. Leron Thomas – Good Kung Fu (EP)
      ► Lychenstadt
      Something like a #2 artist discovery. Bold, and I wouldn’t exactly know what genre this falls under.
    5. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
      ► Burn the Witch (video)
      This one has to be on the list. I love the new album; I looove Radiohead.
    6. Electric Wire Hustle – 11th Sky
       Golden Ladder; March (video)
      Smooth stuff. Unexpectedly offbeat.
    7. Black Atlass – Haunted Paradise
      ► Permanent SmileBlonde (video)
      Also smooth stuff. This very young man sounds older than he is.
    8. The-Dream – Love You To Death (EP/Single)
       Ferris Wheel; Rih-Flex
      See my review. Great lyrical depth coming from someone who looks like a phony poser.
    9. Junior Boys – Big Black Coat
      ► Big Black Coat
      This album was released in the beginning of the year. I’ve stopped listening to it in the meantime, but it belongs in this section.
    10. The Weeknd – Starboy
      ► Starboy (video); False Alarm (video)
      The Weeknd is now someone else and this album is rather a loose collection than a round concept. I think this is more than appropriate in 2016. Pitchfork perceives it as an incoherent, “watered-down” “opportunistic compilation” by a “sanitized version of the second coming of Michael Jackson”. I’m going to ignore Pitchfork in 2017.

      Another cultural milestone this year (though not music): Finally watched Gerry.

      Another cultural milestone this year (though not music): Finally watched Gerry.

      ALBUMS & EPs of the year 2016: 11-30

    11. David Bowie – Blackstar
    12. Anohni – Hopelessness
    13. Zammuto – Veryone
    15. Gallant – Ology
    16. Drugdealer – The End Of Comedy
    17. Adrian Younge – The Electronique Void: Black Noise
    18. Goat – Requiem
    19. Seahawks – Escape Hatch
    20. Nicolas Jaar – Sirens
    21. DVSN – SEPT 5th
    22. Omar Rodriguez Lopez – Arañas el la Sombra
    23. Gonzo Jones – Misty Dreams
    24. Soft Hair – Soft Hair
    25. Woods – City Sun Eater in the River of Light
    26. River Tiber – Indigo
    27. Rihanna – ANTI
    28. Sports – People Can’t Stop Chillin’
    29. Tricky – Skilled Mechanics
    30. Mild High Club – Skiptracing



Shock Value

I was going to write about The Weeknd’s new album Starboy, but having heard The-Dream’s new EP Love You To Death, I’m cancelling my earlier plan in favor of this stunning piece of music. I never thought I’d ever even talk about The-Dream. The artist from North Carolina, whose real name is Terius Youngdell Nash, never striked me as special, but this new release blows my mind. Initially it had me thinking of Jeremih.

The-Dream / Frame from music video for Falsetto

Keeps it low: The-Dream / Frame from music video for Falsetto (2007)

Bad things first: The visual artwork for Love You To Death is rather disappointing. Recently I’ve seen so many bad artworks (among them e.g. Kuedo’s Slow Knife) that are so bad they hurt your eyes. I can’t help but wonder if everyone involved were blind for approving these uninspired and, let’s not kid ourselves, plain ugly graphics. A 6-year-old could have done a better job there.

Good things: Obviously the content of this record, i.e. the music. I don’t remember the last time I came across something as heartbreaking as Love You To Death. It consists of five tracks, and they all deal with the usual things, such as feelings, sex and drugs, but enhanced with a lot of nostalgia and longing . The difference to many other R’n’B and hip hop artists (like A$AP Rocky or even The Weeknd) is that Love You To Death is not about social status or wealth — something usually accompanied by fancy cars and meaningless hookups. Wealth and money have been a topic to The Weeknd, as he says in this long interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, where he also talks about cars (which is where I started yawning).

We do candy until we’re ill
Isn’t this how love feels

The-Dream, Ferris Wheel

There is so much poetry to this record, it almost makes me cry. You will rarely see so much underlying vulnerability with those artists wearing caps and golden chains. Although of course we needn’t forget that artists like Drake have been attempting to show this kind of emotional realness in their work, all while trying to maintain street cred and confidence. I just didn’t expect this from The-Dream (on the other hand I’m not that familiar with his entire opus). It makes me think about what it is about showing vulnerability that is so beautiful and strange at the same time. The-Dream doesn’t look deep, wise, poetic or even smart in any way, yet his language use has a careful thoughtfulness to it, in a way that is yet to be challenged by most. Drake’s Marvin’s Room is perhaps most suitable to illustrate what I mean by “careful thoughtfulness”: Things like specific memories, vivid depiction of emotions, transport of emotional depth in general. Of course these are just few things out of many things that can be done via artistic expression, but they’re valuable because they are contributing to you learning about people.

Then there are those explicit elements. In fact, one of the most touching pieces on Love You To Death, namely Rih-Flex, is about a body part of a girl that the protagonist considers special, memorable or unique. It seems to be inspired by Rihanna. My jaw just keeps dropping at this almost psychedelic, or dizzying, mixture of emotional depth and sexual fixation. Lines like “Sit back, let it resonate” bear the potential to give you the chills. On the surface, the whole thing still manages to sound like your average R’n’B.

If we wanted to extract social criticism out of Rih-Flex, it would refer to this certain kind of women that successful artists seem to be surrounded with a lot — gorgeous and perfect, but emotionally unavailable and promiscuous. They somehow make it into a group of successful artists, but are not an artist themselves. They’re good at partying. They strike out of the mass of girls that are generally considered to be anonymous, meaningless hookups (“Woke up by a girl / I don’t even know her name”, The Weeknd, Party Monster), as mentioned above. I think The Weeknd sings about such a situation in Party Monster, False Alarm and other tracks. Among the above-mentioned people there might be some that are more ethically questionable than other people from same group, e.g. in terms of materialistic opportunism. The latter, shall we call them the good party gurls, are probably just confused by life. Party gurls are a source of suffering, because they represent the unreachable.

To sum up everything: The R’n’B gaze seems to be wandering from A to B to C, from b*tch to another b*tch, from car to another car. The artist is constantly zoomed in on singular experiences, apparently unable to zoom out to see the meaning of the whole picture, having an underlying identity crisis, being immersed in materialistic thinking, representing the smooth face of capitalism. Is this what cultural ADD looks like? I wouldn’t know, and also this doesn’t make sense, but hell, I love it when there’s all this reverb behind it.

In our age of individualism we are of course in search of experiences that will enhance our picture of everything, including ourselves. We are getting increasingly aware of options and possibilities, and the big picture is overwhelming because it doesn’t immediately make sense in its complexity.


Beautiful II

Don’t throw a penny into the wishing well. If the penny lands on the hole, it will block out the air. If the penny falls on the hole, it will block out the sky.*

The Black Dog – Wishing Well


* My transcription


On Goats

Introduction. We all know: Goats have been around for centuries, millennia even. However, it’s not obvious to most that goats are also an important factor in terms of economy — today more than ever. They are actively co-shaping our world, making it a better, more nutritious, and at times more complex place. Without goats there would be no bees or trees, not to mention goat cheese. This interview is all about these divine creatures.


Talking to:  Claudiu-Vlad Ursache 

Who: Goat Expert and Software Writer
What: Goats

I’d like to thank the expert interviewee Claudiu for dedicating a bit of his precious time to discuss this deeply existential topic with us. Get in touch with him here (‣ Claudiu’s website), in case some of your personal questions remained unanswered in this interview.

Memorable moment for the goat (left): Claudiu-Vlad Ursache

Knows and understands most goats: Claudiu-Vlad Ursache | (c) Arcin / Claudiu

If you look at the DNA of a goat, you will discern many similarities to human DNA. In fact, goat’s DNA is ten times closer to human’s than Michael Jackson’s DNA. That is not to say that goats function in the same way we do. There are crucial differences regarding methods, goals and values. Before we get nosebleeds trying to figure out goats’ internal life and their role in co-shaping this world, it’s best to ask an expert. Here we go.

Let’s talk goats. How important are they for global economy?

Like the rubber O-rings of NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger, goats may be often forgotten but they play a crucial role in today’s no government involvement, unless we’re in big trouble, in which case taxpayers please, please, please pay for our gamble free-market system. To give just a few examples of unexpected places in which these agile ruminants exert their influence: increased demand for capretto (found in Gucci shoes and narrations of 85$-dishes delivered by Michelin-starred generals) directly leads farmers in Texas to owning fewer cattle; a glance inside Palestinian smuggler tunnels uncovers animal fodder priced ten times above global market value as a direct consequence of goats kicking ass at being livestock in war-ridden terrain (and the Israeli trade embargo, of course); finally, the feral goat herds of Senkaku Islands are a diplomatic aura that keeps the $350 billion trade between Japan and China on track. ‣ Further reading

Can people and goats be friends despite different value systems?

Yes! The viral Hand-shaking Hoof-Facebook-profile-picture-filter movement in low-GDP countries has brought to light millions of homo-caprine relationships. A better proof for this natural inter-species bond we share is hardly necessary, especially considering the embodiment of aristotelian virtues that every goat has shown itself to be.

A glance inside Palestinian smuggler tunnels uncovers animal fodder priced ten times above global market value as a direct consequence of goats kicking ass at being livestock in war-ridden terrain.

What kind of goat would have the most difficulties changing a light bulb?

Survivors of the Capra eléctrica project — the undertaking planned by Thomas Edison in which goats were bred, trained and clockwork-oranged over the course of two decades for the sole purpose of discrediting AC-powered light bulbs in a carefully planed public demonstration at a New York amusement park in 1903.

Imagine you’re walking down the street at night. A goat crosses your way. What goat is it?

The Trump-supporting billy goat.

Pick any goat you can think of and say how it fits in today’s world and society.

I’ll go with Armin Ibrisagic’s goat. Even though it’s made out of bytes, vertex shaders, git commits, not atoms, molecules, eukaryotic cells, this digital Magna Capra has brought evening peace to as many people as Paris holds by unleashing the wrath of straight-horns upon unsuspecting cities.

Takeaway. This interview leaves us with quite a few insights into how goats act within our system. I’m glad our interviewee mentioned Armin Ibrisagic’s goat, as I was secretly hoping. You gotta see this special goat, if you get the chance, during the Goats United Festival, next edition kicking off coming June. There will be surprise guests and a firework, as I’ve been told by insiders. Keep an eye open for that one. As for economical advice we can derive from the above: Ditch gold and art hedgefonds. Invest in goat stock.