Dream of Antonoffication | Pop Music’s Blandest Prophet

Mitch Therieau

Nearly two centuries into the history of recorded sound, there is still no neat place for the producer in the mythology of pop music. He — as an ideal type, he is nearly always a he — is both a major and a minor character. He is at once a visionary creator and a bland executor of technical procedures, a name brand with star power and an anonymous functionary. He...

All Roll Is B-Roll | Adam Curtis Goes Quiet

Mitch Therieau

Is there anything left to say about Adam Curtis? Over the course of more than 25 BBC documentaries, depending on how you count — each an attempt to trace the workings of what he repeatedly, enigmatically calls “power” across the twentieth century to the wreckage of the present — the director has developed a sensibility so idiosyncratic that it simultaneously begs for and preempts parody. Along the way, he has...

Vibe, Mood, Energy | Or, Bust-Time Reenchantment

Mitch Therieau

The products of mass culture have learned to speak a new language: the language of the occult. Come in, an app pleads, and listen to an algorithmically curated playlist of songs that “fit the vibe.” “We caught a vibe!” yelps a voice in one of those songs; it isn’t immediately clear whether this means caught as in brass ring or caught as in disease. It’s hard, a marketing email laments,...

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