Andy Catlin

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Why Are Pop Stars Trying to Be Performance Artists?

I can still recall the first time I used the phrase “performance art.” I was sitting—where else?—on the steps of my college’s English-department building, discussing some ill-advised boondoggle being put on by—who else?—my school’s secret poetry society. (Was somebody smoking a clove cigarette? You …

Art

Welcome to cycle heaven: why we moved our family to the Netherlands

Before I’m out of bed, our 15-year-old slams the door and jumps on her bike, heading for school and meeting friends along the way.<p>Last week, our eight and 13-year-olds attended four parties between them. They scoffed the obligatory birthday sugar, went bowling, shot lasers, played mini-golf and …

Social Housing

Hospital sound design can be deadly

A new design system attempts to solve this intractable problem through music.<p>Illness isn’t the only threat that comes with being in the hospital. In a 2014 survey of 20 hospitals, all but one hospital reported that the constant alarms of hospital technology are a problem for patient safety. When …

Medicine

Neuroscience shows listening to music has kind of the same effect as meditation

What do the Dalai Lama and a bass-music fanatic getting low at 3am at Burning Man have in common?<p>A surprising amount, actually.<p>From mood enhancement and relaxation to full-blown oneness with the cosmos, music has the ability to powerfully shift our state of mind. Meditation is not that different. …

Mindfulness

Algo-Rhythms: The future of album collaboration

One year ago, I began working on an album. I write vocal melodies and lyrics, while my partner does the composition. We both work on instrumentation, and complement each other well. The only odd part of the relationship is…my partner isn’t human.<p>It’s AI.<p>The relationship was born out of curiosity. …

Artificial Intelligence

The Writer

The Writer exists in two worlds: the world he’s creating and the world in which he wears the same shirt a lot. The Writer successfully holds each world responsible for his failings in the other, a Ping-Ponging of accountability that frees him to wake up around elevenish.<p>The Writer feels uneasy …

Middle Age

Becoming John Luther Adams: The evolution of one of America's hottest composers

John Luther Adams is a composer who has come out from the cold.<p>Los Angeles and its lost horizons, I'm afraid, are what first drove him into frigid isolation. Suburban sprawl, environmental negligence and the emphasis on careerism were unfortunate turnoffs from being among the first students at …

Piano

Exhibition

When Critics Could Kill

What was it like when a review could end a career? Most musicians still don’t want to talk about it.<p>When did music critics lose their ability to …

Albums

The History of Scottish Music Funding

This is a guest blog by Tom Bancroft, legendary jazz drummer, who has led dozens of large scale community and education projects, and was behind …

United Kingdom

This New Smart Bike Literally Growls At People Who Try To Steal It

VanMoof’s aggressive sound design is one way to deter theft.<p>Around 50% of cyclists have experienced the feeling of walking up to where they locked their bike only to find it gone–sometimes memorialized with a lonely wheel or a dangling lock. Aside from the perceived danger of cycling in a city, the …

Loneliness

Cat Profiles from Haruki Murakami’s Animal Shelter

<b>Georgie (male, tabby, six months old</b>)<p>Georgie is as close to a perfect kitten as you can get. He is curious, playful, quiet, and clever. If you’re around him long enough, Georgie will flop down in front of you. This is the sign for “rub my belly, please.” His previous owner went missing without a …

Rock in a hard place: the decline of the all-ages music venue

With Australia’s live music scene struggling to survive, Brisbane’s promoters are using open and alcohol-free gigs to attract younger music lovers. Will it work?<p>It’s Good Friday in Brisbane and most of the city is dead quiet, with pubs and clubs not opening until midnight due to Easter trading …

Australia

Every Single Name on This Entrancing Map Is a Music Reference

My favorite song about California is Scott McKenzie’s 1967 easy-listening hippie anthem “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).” I’ll …

Let's All Obsess Over This Intricate Map of Alt Music History

It started with The Sex Pistols. Specifically, with The Sex Pistols’ June 4, 1976 show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. The …

How The Humble Bicycle Can Save Our Cities

Copenhagenize offers a blueprint for how cities can welcome the bicycle–and all the positive outcomes that being a biking-centric city brings.<p>Mikael Colville-Andersen rides his bike everywhere in Copenhagen, but he would never introduce himself as a cyclist. “I’m just one of the 400,000 people …

The Lofty Optimism of Spotify and the Influence of the Streaming Revolution

I don’t stream music. I fear that may sound sanctimonious or smug, but I don’t mean it that way. I understand the value and utility of these services, and I am glad for the pleasures that they offer to others. My reasons for abstention are both boring and particular: I find the interfaces clumsy …

Why Facebook Is a Waste of Time—and Money—for Arts Nonprofits

Opinion<p>The co-founder of the nonprofit Center for Artistic Activism explains why his company has officially de-friended Facebook.<p>,<p>Like many …

The End of Winter

For the better part of a decade, I lived alone, in a cabin, in the boreal forest on the outskirts of Fairbanks, Alaska. In winter, the deeper the cold and the darkness got, the better I liked it. Or so I told myself. In March of 1989, an extreme cold front (an “omega block”) settled over Alaska for …

Insight with Don McCullin: Irreconcilable Truths

From Northern Ireland to Vietnam, the Falklands to Syria, the photographs taken by Don McCullin have come to define some of the most pivotal events …

Northern Ireland

Behold: The World’s First Heavy Metal Cheese

THE GOOD NEWS:<i>Small farms can compete with multinational agribusiness with a lot of ingenuity — and a little bit of metal.</i> In 2016, for several weeks …

artisanal

What to Do If Your Favorite Indie Band Goes Mainstream

Option 1Denounce their entire catalog. Declare them corporate shills, forever dead in your eyes.Option 2Continue to listen to them, but only their …

New Albums

What It’s Like to Hear the Desert in Music

<i>The composer John Luther Adams won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for “Become Ocean,” a lushly tidal, terrifyingly immersive evocation of nature. “The music is not only a description of the sea — it behaves like it,” Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim wrote in The New York Times. The music submerged the</i> …

Flute

Tai Chi at the Museum with Thistle

Would you ever consider using museums to support your health and wellbeing? You may have visited museums many a time to explore their exhibitions and …

Becoming Desert

After almost 40 years, I left Alaska. In barrenness, I found new music.<p>I spent the summer of 1977 trekking through the mountains and rivers of the …

Too Much Information: Don DeLillo’s White Noise

Three decades on from its first publication, Don Delillo's White Noise is as relevant as ever, argues Robert Bright in this penetrating and …

Literature

People find comfort listening to the same songs over and over, study finds

With the frequency that some people play their favorite song, it's a good thing vinyl records aren't used often because they might wear out.

‘If you want the sound of a nervous breakdown, what do you do?’

It Took Trump to Make Superchunk Go Political

In the waning days of 2016, during a news conference at a music festival in Australia, the singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer made a prediction: “Donald Trump is going to make punk rock great again,” she said. “We’re all going to crawl down staircases into basements and speakeasies and make amazing …

New Albums