I think lockdown has actually gone well for me in the sense that my daily anxieties have gotten progressively more menial the longer I’m stuck at home. I’ve basically operated under a “keep myself busy at all costs” strategy for god knows how long, alternating between attempting to actually read books for once, working on ideas for silly split EPs with my friend Tom, working on writing for this blog, and other dumb distractions I can’t think of off my head. My brain is naturally wired to freak out and feel dread over nothing – when I’m leaving the house there’s a certain set of half-baked repetitive thoughts, and when I’m not leaving the house there’s another, therefore I often find myself comparing these daily anxieties in a weird attempt to glean nostalgia from the things I overreacted about six months ago. Assuming we aren’t still going to be stuck in the gaff in October I guess I have to look forward to fondly remembering freaking out about being unable to write this blog post, taking hours to write emails, and possibly coming off like an arsehole when texting new people. Because of the fact I’ve been able to occupy myself with menial busywork (and the fact that I’ve mainly just been listening to Autechre non-stop for god knows how long), the music that I’ve been thinking about this week is probably quite stale – I think this would usually be the point where I shoehorn the title (which I always come up with first) into the post but I’d feel like that’d come off as too forced. Here are just some rambles about what I’ve been listening to, I swear I’ll post something better next week.
For some reason, the hardest part of writing an interview (besides sending a polite DM to whoever you’re planning on talking to) is the introductory paragraph, at least to me anyway. I find it scarily hard to condense why I find a certain artist or personality interesting down into a few sentences without coming off as even more of a pretentious arsehole and sadly the work of Matthew Harris (aka. Applemask) is no exception to this inability. According to the about page on his website, Harris is obsessed with what the Japanese term “mono no aware” – the pathos of things. In other words, Harris obsesses over small, discarded pieces of pop culture and uses these glimpses into the more mundane aspects of the past as the basis for his various video essays. Applemask is probably best known for ‘ITV in the Face’, a scarily-long amateur documentary series that dissects the (at the time of the 2016 remaster) sixty-year history of the British broadcaster through it’s various regional logos and idents, heavily utilizing footage from VHS tapes that’d usually be skipped or forgotten about. There’s something oddly captivating about Harris’s combination of the mundane and the substantial – historical events are marked by embarrassing ads for tabloid rags and Julie Simmons introducing *’Coronation Street’,* reinforcing the odd mundanity of living through a major news event that we’re all currently staring straight in the face. One of Harris’ best video essays (and one I’m mad for not asking about in this interview) is “The Alma Syndrome”, a piece attempting to depict the eeriness of British media in the hours following the death of Princess Diana. Even as someone who talks scarily frequently about James Connolly (and gets stupidly insecure about coming off as a West-Brit while reading this paragraph), there’s something quite fascinating about this video – the last thing aired on ITV before the news broke that Diana had died was some tacky Britpop song that I couldn’t be arsed to locate and there’s something oddly poignant about that fact. The world will probably melt during a ‘Room To Improve’ repeat and Harris’ work is interesting as it makes that fact blindly obvious (if not strangely beautiful). Hopefully that doesn’t seem too pretentious for an introduction – either way, let’s just get on to the interview already.
By the time I get this blog post up, you’ll have probably heard about the supposed leaking of the TF2 and CSGO source code on a certain imageboard that at this rate will probably haunt everything I write about. This anonymous leak is widely believed to have originated from a friend of Tyler McVicker, better known as the constantly suffering YouTuber Valve News Network. The story that I’ve seen repeated on Twitter is that this friend got removed from a Discord server for being a transphobic arsehole and decided to respond to this by leaking everything he was shared with the wider internet – presumably in an attempt to ruin McVicker’s career. This quite understandably set a small corner of the internet ablaze, with TF2 servers going offline due to security concerns and random people on Twitter getting concerningly mad about the whole thing. I’m writing this just after it was revealed that the leaked code was “given to many people in May 2018 by a mentally unstable source who wanted to cause damage to Valve” and that Valve found no reason for players to be alarmed or to avoid using current builds of their games. However, the leaked source code is arguably the least interesting part of the story (or at least it is to me, someone who has documented their love-hate relationship with CSGO in the past and has no intentions of relapsing). The anonymous arsehole behind the leak also dumped chatlogs of Tyler talking to an unconfirmed Valve source, something he apparently shared with multiple close Discord friends. Now I’m not here to play journalist (and trust me you shouldn’t trust this blog for anything like that), but I feel as if these leaked chatlogs give us an interesting glimpse into the experience of being a minor internet personality and the weird power-plays inherent to being a big deal in a community that only five people actively care about.
So far my lockdown experience can be summarized through the apathetic sensation of suddenly remembering that you (a) have headphones on and (b) have been blaring music for the past three hours. At the moment I’m probably listening to way more music than I usually get around to in a year, however presumably as a result of this music has stopped being something I get actively excited about and more something I intermittently pay attention to while scrolling through the same three or four websites waiting for content to appear. My taste has always been deeply stagnant (even if for the longest while I’ve never wanted to admit as such), but I’m currently facing this realization head-on each day during the drawn-out hours between the six-one and the nine o’clock news. There’s something inherently comic about this sensation – Soundcloud seems to think that I’m into intense workout playlists when I actually just need 230BPM speedcore mixes to motivate me to get up from the couch I’ve slept on for the past month. Just in the same way that Alex G remarked that as he got older it was “no longer three chords” that excited him, the longer I spend holed up within a 2km radius of my house the less likely I am to pay attention to (or even seek out) new music. However, since time no longer exists whatever enthusiasm I held in music when I actually had serotonin seeps out – leading us to this moment in time.
One of the main perks of being Irish is the ability to shrug off whatever’s going on across the pond with a cynical laugh and a James Connolly misquote. I’ve always held irrationally low expectations when it comes to the UK – outside of Mark Fisher, old men who make electronic music in tracksuits, Spartacists with scarily verbose signs, and irony podcasters, all the UK really has to offer us is just bass-boosted evidence as to why we’re all doomed and why you should never respect people who write down their opinions on a regular basis. Joining the ranks of that one Giles Coren documentary in offering us a nearly comical glimpse into how soulless ghouls operate is the recently leaked internal report on Labour’s handling of antisemitism accusations. According to a report in The Guardian by Rowena Mason, the document claimed that it “had found no evidence of antisemitism complaints being treated differently to other forms of complaint” but instead found “abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in party HQ” – in other words, we learned more about the ratfucking (an international pastime at this point) of Corbyn than anything relating to how bigotry is handled within the Labour party. And trust me, there’s more than a fair share of ratfucking clearly laid out within this report – to the point where I’ll barely even touch upon the surface of it within this blog post. Some “highlights” of the dickery include some arsehole passing on the fact that Diane Abbott was crying in the bathrooms over racist abuse to a Channel 4 journalist, notorious milkman and continual failure Mike Gapes helping to get a lad suspended from the party over reporting Islamaphobic harassment he was receiving, and the fact that half of all the antisemitism complaints arrived from one person who seems to get off by being an arsehole over the phone.
“Arrayed Above the Seraphim Lights” by Even Oxen is a haunting record – this is aided by the fact that the musician behind the record probably doesn’t want you to listen to it. The record, which was released around June of 2016 was removed from streaming and Bandcamp unceremoniously at some stage in 2018, only kept online through a mirror hosted by Space Friend Records and an unofficial YouTube rip. Nobody seems to know exactly when or why the record vanished – with YouTube comments and imageboard posts suggesting that the musician behind the project either “got depressed” or just forgot to renew their DistroKid subscription. Regardless of as to why this collection of lo-fi gospel-inspired tunes nearly disappeared off the face of the internet, there’s something oddly poignant about its ability to do so. This album that I only seem to remember while being oddly emotional at half four in the morning feels indicative of something larger, even if I only seem to recognize that fact at half four in the morning.