Null Professional

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tycho: ambient music for those who are succeeding in our contemporary economy?

Cover art for new Tycho LP "Epoch"
There's a moment roughly 30 seconds into "Montana," the second track on Tycho's breakout 2014 album Awake, when you realize that the people who created this music can't possibly have experienced any adversity in their lives. For nearly 6 minutes, its mannerist, echo-ey guitar noodling melds with hazy synths and just noticeable bass over competent live drumming. It sounds great, the type of warm, organic electronic music that makes you feel as though the world is a place of unsullied wonder filled with promise and opportunity and absolutely lacking in the structural hurtles that have come to define our political moment. The euphoria it inspires is the pleasant, genteel kind bi-coastal types get from legal marijuana, a euphoria from which you can quickly sober up before heading back to your six-figure tech job, not the Rimbaudian sensorium-fucking kind which, though you might survive it, you will not come out of it whole.

If you like Tycho, chances are you can probably afford pour-over coffee
It's the perfect sonic backdrop for an otherwise soundless drive down the Haight in your Tesla Model S, music for you to survey the real estate market you and your vaunted friends and coworkers can afford because you have the privileged backgrounds that yield expensive STEM degrees and commensurate employment. It would do well scoring an ad for a smartphone, one in which technologies such as video chat are highlighted for full emotional impact. It's music for convincing yourself that the TED talk you just listened to in some way provided you personal and/or professional validation, or that the product you are building is making the world a better place.

Like Google's product sites or the Android operating system, the impressive cover art for both Awake and the just released Epoch have an appealing design language. They constitute collateral worthy of the Silicon Valley juggernauts, of adorning the website of a new feature in a vanguard social network or serving as the icon for a marquee app. Unsurprisingly, Scott Hansen, who helms the Tycho project, is an accomplished Bay Area designer and graphic artist. I've seen the cover art from Awake on t-shirts worn by tech workers walking to lunch in Pioneer Square, largely indistinguishable from the rest of their wardrobe comprising shirts featuring the products and companies they build. According to The Verge, Scott now brings his designer talents to bear solely for his music, ensuring elegant packaging and consistency of design across media.

Despite the above, I take no particular issue with Tycho, Scott Hansen, or his studio band, but rather, with the ineffable notion that the Silicon Valley set have incorporated his music into the infinite feedback loop of celebration and validation that has come to distinguish our contemporary tech economy. His brand of instrumental, organic electronic music, in its pleasantness and saccharine excesses, just happens to sound like what the tech industry wants to hear, i.e., a soundtrack to harmonize with its incrementalist vision of utopia by way of elegant automating technologies. Theirs is a world view that claims comprehensiveness yet is pointedly myopic - the benefits of the automation they build predominantly vest in the privileged among us who can afford the underlying enabling technologies (smartphones, home automation appliances, etc.). Their efforts do very little to tackle serious domestic and global issues: affordable housing, extreme poverty, climate change, and treatment of disease (other than fraudulently). As such, they largely fail to engage with contemporary society in the ways in which we could really use them (i.e., to bring technology to bear in solving our biggest problems). It isn't that the accomplishments of Google, Facebook, etc. aren't worth celebrating, but rather, that they believe so fully in the narrative of their own altruism that they are constantly celebrating and validating themselves.

Tycho is the perfect music for such a mindset -- it's the music of maximum complacency in an era of technology that doesn't dream big enough. We need to be much less complacent, much less invested in validation, and much more focused on the broader social landscape in which technology can be an enabler for positive change.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The best albums of 2015 by some guy on the Internet (*finally*)

Cover art to Jamie XX's In Colour 

[Horribly delayed, I realize…]

I avoided this exercise last year in favor of...well, nothing in particular. I don’t know: I was focused on my new job, intent on maximizing my free time in a new city, and keen on ingesting the last bit of counterculture cool my then-neighborhood, the rapidly gentrifying Capitol Hill, had to offer, all of which left me unenthused with the prospect of enumerating the musical highlights of the preceding 12 months. Oh, sure, I started a list, which I’m fairly certain topped off at Swans’ To Be Kind, the lethal power cords, dislocating polyrhythms, and foreboding prophet-of-doom lyrics of which distilled the apocalyptic trajectory of 2014’s global political realities better than the news media itself.

But that was 2014. This is was 2015. Now I’m settled in a north Seattle, “we’re not suburbia, we just look like suburbia,” neighborhood, saddled with and luxuriating in all the trappings of the landed bourgeoisie (mortgage, runs to the hardware store and IKEA, a 75-lb Golden Retriever…). I need to make an effort to stay abreast of new music, and the fruit of such effort now sounds like more of an accomplishment than it ever has.

In a departure from past lists, I’m only including 10 albums, because I feel like anything beyond 10 is merely something I listened to and enjoyed. These are 10 albums that I *loved* from the past year, which was a very rich one.

So, here we go:
Everybody loved Jamie XX’s long-awaited debut LP, and everybody referred to it as “long-awaited.” For me, and perhaps for those whose lists it also topped, it’s the way Jamie democratizes and future proofs the notion of and various styles associated with rave and rave culture that make In Colour the most impressive offering of the year. In the hands of its most capable practitioners, electronic music makes a compelling case that time is indeed cyclical, not linear. Seen in this light, the 25-year old drum n’ bass rhythms of lead-off track “Gosh” or the dubstep of “Girl” aren’t embarrassing anachronisms or waning subegenres, respectively, but rather, rich troves of influence that can be mined ad infinitum provided the taste level is there.

Prins Thomas, who similarly seeks to celebrate ghosts of electronic music past, treats his job as DJ-cum-curator both very seriously and very goofily (have you seen the cover art to Paradise Goulash?). The consistency of the three long mixes is what really land this for me; each is a finely executed work of exceptional curation and manages, as Prins always has, to bring disco to the euphoric heights generally reserved for more buttoned-up electronic subgenres.

Oneohtrix Point Never’s Garden of Delete is far from my favorite from Daniel Lopatin’s signature project, but, of all his densely cerebral electronic explorations, it’s the one that I can relate to most from a biographical standpoint. Each track sounds like some variant of the generalized memory pool one attained growing up in the musical landscape of the 1990s. Listening to this album is akin to shoving Nine Inch Nails, Underworld, and any number of period R&B and grunge acts into a blender, leaving the top off, and being assaulted by flecks of the unholy melange you’ve just created.

I love The Orb and am counting on Dr. Alex Patterson and Thomas Felhmann, both of whom are nearing 60, to keep doing exactly what they are doing for another 15-20 years. Moonbuilding 2703 AD is some of their very best post-Island years’ work, with enjoyable ambient-techno grooves and oddball sci-fi voiceovers leading you on a pleasant journey through the nearby cosmos. The tempo never breaks an andante -- this is music for work or for daily constitutionals. There’s nothing new under the sun, but with some competent and loving execution, you’ll be hard-pressed to complain.

Everything I’ve covered up til now, with the arguable exception of Oneohtrix, falls thematically into either “loving homage to electronic genres of yore” or “more of a good thing.” So, let me leave you with JLin’s “Dark Energy”, which is exciting in so many ways, including: 1) its creator is prodigiously talented and young, and 2) it triumphs in taking the spare sonic palette of footwork to compellingly intricate and emotionally resonant new territory. As much reassurance I find in the eternal return of yesterday’s electronic sounds (hey, it keeps me from feeling old), the sense that JLin is actually creating something discernibly new is incredibly exciting.

Alright, that's enough. Enjoy [the rest of] 2016.
  1. Jamie XX - In Colour 
  2. Prins Thomas - Paradise Goulash 
  3. Oneohtrix Point Never - Garden of Delete 
  4. The Orb - Moonbuilding 2703 AD 
  5. Jlin - Dark Energy 
  6. Future - DS2 
  7. Viet Cong - Viet Cong 
  8. Mbongwana Star - From Kinshasa 
  9. Floating Points - Elaenia 
  10. DJ Koze - DJ Kicks

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Hipster Tableau, an @Instagram Joint

I love social media, but I also hate social media. It's revolutionizing how organizations and individuals communicate with each other and disseminate information, but it's also destroying language and ruining attention spans. It's giving voice to the oppressed and disenfranchised, but it's also creating jobs for the least talented and most privileged among us. And while it's empowering small businesses and entrepreneurs, it's also making us all beholden to the whims of the handful of massive tech firms that run the platforms and are actively seeking out more and more innovative ways to mine our personal data for profit.

I'm a grown up, so I understand that nothing is or is meant to be perfect, that slick marketing presents idealized depictions of products and services that are inherently imperfect if not intrinsically evil, but I can't help but have my expectations ruined all the same, again and again.

This all brings me to some observations on a genre of photo that I've noticed with increasing frequency on my Instagram feed of late. I like to call this genre the Hipster Tableau.

For example:

Introducing the new @timbuk2 x Blue Bottle Travel Kit. Everything you'll need to #BrewWhereYouAre.

This photo is of a new product from Blue Bottle Roasters, Silicon Valley's coffee roaster of choice. It typifies the Hipster Tableau genre, which traffics in the meticulous placement of goods for sale in aesthetically pleasing arrangements. It's a compelling format for product promotion that borrows from the practices of upscale home decor and hipster artisan oddity shops. One will notice the symmetry of the two cups and java jackets framing the single-purpose messenger bag. It's clean without sacrificing warmth, and there's a sense that these products were forged at least to some extent by human hands, possibly even by those of the designers. I want one of these kits, even though I know I don't need it and consider the product to be overwrought.

These photos also frequently situate a product alongside an activity that correlates with the brand and its customer base. For example, in arranging these glasses alongside knitting needles and yarn, Warby Parker is attempting to engage its D-I-Y and artisan craft-loving audience by associating these slightly retro frames with practitioners of a particular craft.

McKee in Moonstone—don’t overlook this new color's left-to-right gradient. (It’s our first ever so we’re particularly pleased.)

Again, I have a love/hate relationship with these photos. I love them because they are aesthetically pleasing and often promote brands and products that I consume (eyeglasses and coffee foremost among them) and want to see succeed.

But I hate them because of their cloying salesmanship and overly twee design cues, because of the clear evidence of marketing acumen that has been brought to bear to exploit our interest in correlative and aspirational lifestyles, and because, moreover, they signal that Instagram is ultimately just another virtual marketing platform where expressions of creativity are a mere incidental occurrence.

It's fine, though, I suppose. There's enough Internet to go around, for both the exploiters and the exploited. For now.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Seattle: the last, best refuge from #ThirdWaveCoffee?

Uptown Espresso, a Second Wave Coffee staple and “Home of the Velvet Foam”

A quick preface: I’ve had a lot of great coffee at Third Wave shops over the past few years, often served by really lovely and knowledgeable baristas who clearly enjoy what they do (and whose enjoyment enhances the customer experience). I also feel strongly that the Third Wave is a deservedly important strand of the broader historical development of coffee from which coffee lovers have benefited greatly. Here, I’m really taking issue with the Third Wave orthodoxy, its ridiculous tropes of artisanality, “honesty” in roasting, and rigidity in preparation methods, as well as its clear solipsism and sense of superiority with regard to pre-existing coffee methodologies.

The ideology and practices writ large, in other words, not the people.

The Third Wave Experience

It used to be so simple to get a good cup of coffee. Or so we thought. The doyens of the Third Wave Coffee movement, today’s dominant coffee purveyors, would have you believe that, prior to its onset ~15 years ago, coffee was not done properly ANYWHERE by ANYBODY. Their appeal begins with the beans. Forget medium, dark, French, Italian, or seasonal blends: they are persistent artifacts of an artless, primitive era in which robber baron buyers commodified coffee beans through large volume importing with at best a transactional relationship to its growers and a total ignorance of the harvesting process. Producers of such abominations are mendacious hucksters, disguising the distinct flavor profiles of the beans comprising their roasts in order to pander to philistine palettes.

Your coffee should be of a single origin, according to Third Wave orthodoxy, meaning that the beans originate within one region of a coffee-producing country, but preferably of a single estate. Yes, that’s right, in the era of Third Wave Coffee, grand cru is an acceptable starting point. Additionally, you really should seek out light and medium roasts, as these provide the most distinctive flavor profiles. Light roasts are both the most polarizing and the most expensive, but you should embrace the experience of drinking a coffee that retails for $24/lb. and tastes like a sack of almonds (read: has a "nutty" flavor profile). Oh, also, forget the previous ~600 years of development in coffee preparation methods, that of our Yemeni, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Viennese, Italians, French, etc. coffee progenitors: they simply did not have the science or the art to know what they were doing.

Third Wavers also demand that you reconsider your brewing methods. Throw away your dependable Mr. Coffee, your convenient Keurig, your adorable Nespresso: they are garbage appliances for garbage people, and you should be ashamed to have ever owned one. Coffee should be produced by hand in one of several dazzling routines for which boiling water is the only acceptable use of electricity (*Note: OK, so espresso is acceptable, but it, too, should be single origin, and really, brewed coffee is *strongly* preferred). Buy a Chemex, an Aeropress, or a pour-over dripper. Whichever method you choose, you must learn to execute every step in the brew process with utmost precision, calibrating the weight of the coffee, the weight and temperature of the water, and the time to pour. Oh, did I mention you’ll need to buy an expensive burr grinder, a scale and a specialty electric kettle whose elegant gooseneck spout looks like it belongs in a design museum, not your kitchen? And it wouldn’t hurt to spend several hundred dollars on training to really perfect your technique.

Now, while it’s ultimately acceptable to brew up to 10 cups of coffee using a Chemex, you will ideally brew one cup at a time, no matter how much coffee you need to get through the day. But don’t worry, because this one-cup brewing process will grow on you. Like Dexter pursuing his quarries, you will develop a ritualistic dependency on your craft and likely eschew social, professional, and familial obligations in your quest for the perfect pour.

Finally, the coffee shops. In short, Third Wavers don't want you going to the same ones. No longer is it acceptable for you to take your morning coffee at the corner Starbucks or Peets, where a 20 oz. black coffee can be poured readymade from a commercial decanter and sold to you in less than a minute. You must seek out an independent Third Wave coffee shop where a barista will walk you through the flavor profiles and subprofiles (e.g., fruit → stone fruit → peach) and varietals of their offerings to either match a single origin coffee to your stated preferences or to foist his/her current favorite on you (but let’s face it, you have a gutter palette anyway, so be thankful: you’re about to learn what you want). The barista will then grind somewhere in the orbit of ~20g of coffee, heat water, and proceed to pour, using finely honed ministrations to ensure steady extraction and to delicately spoon coffee off the filter and into the pour. 7-15 minutes later, your coffee is served.

I’ve been reflecting on the Third Wave since I moved to Seattle two months ago. Coffee and coffee culture are more indelibly tied to the identity of Seattle than to that of any other American city. However, it is not the culture of Third Wave Coffee that predominates here, though it exists in abundance (e.g., see Slate Coffee Bar, where, among other excellent but overwrought menu items, you can order a “Deconstructed Espresso and Milk”). Rather, Seattle remains, as it has been for more than 40 years, a Second Wave Coffee town. Here, espresso is king, coffee blends perfected decades ago are lovingly consumed in large quantities, and Starbucks, hometown hero and economic standby that it is, is revered by both corporate squares in button-ups and sleeve-tatted hipsters in skinny jeans, albeit not in equal measure.

This realization struck me one day in April when I decided to check out Espresso Vivace, a small Seattle chain that has been in business since 1988. I walked to the South Lake Union location, which is as new as that neighborhood, ambled up to the counter, and ordered a “drip coffee.”

“I can make you an Americano, but we don’t serve brewed coffee” came the well-rehearsed and matter-of-fact response from the barista.

“Oh, no problem!” I said, uncertain how I should pivot. “Actually, can I get a cappuccino?” Up until that moment, I don’t think I’d ever been excited to be told I that I can’t get what I ordered. The exoticism took hold of me like the beginning of a decidedly non-fantastic One Thousand and One Nights, and, as I sat sipping what turned out to be the best cappuccino I’d ever had, I realized that this is the essential coffee experience in this storied coffee town and, moreover, that it is as good as if not better than the finest single origin pour over I’ve ever had.

In the course of its 25 year history, Espresso Vivace undergone major developments, including moving from street kiosks to brick and mortar retail space, but the coffee mission has remained the same since 1992, one of perfecting the execution of a very specific time-honored and highly revered tradition, not the disruption thereof (from their website):

Since 1992 we have been roasting in the Northern Italian style: searching the world for the mildest arabicas and bringing each bean in our blends to the fragrant peak of caramelized sugar content.

Indeed, the distinctiveness of the experience is buoyed by a sense of temporal displacement. To walk into an Espresso Vivace or an Uptown Espresso, another small Seattle chain that opened in the 80’s and focuses on espresso, is to step back in time to a very different era in both the world of American specialty coffee and the city itself. Uptown’s shops are expansive, with multiple rooms and a wide variety of mismatched yet comfortable furniture arrangements. The carpeting is old and, like most heavily trod carpeting of a particular age in the Pacific Northwest, uneven from moisture/water exposure. Patrons are equally if not more likely to be reading from a Thomas Pynchon novel than responding to emails on the unreliable wifi, and you half expect a hungover Kurt Cobain to stumble in for a pick-me-up. Shops like this proliferated in the late 80s and early 90s on the west coast. I very fondly remember many evenings spent at Coffee Time, the labyrinthine shop on NW 21st whose many alcoves and rooms were populated by a moveable feast of every sub/counter/mainstream culture the city had on offer in the late 90s/early oughts.

Third Wave Coffee shops, on the other hand, tend to pride themselves on economizing on space, which is admirable but can lead to frustration when the very limited seating is all in use. They also lean toward more spartan/less comfortable, albeit more design-forward furniture. The overall message is, sit, but not for too long. Vivace and Uptown, on the other hand, encourage you to luxuriate, to kick back in an armchair or sink into a couch and devote an afternoon to a novel.

The Reprieve

What should you take away from this screed, if anything? If you are a Third Wave Coffee practitioner or devotee, congratulations: you’re great people. But just be careful not to fall into uncompromising zealotry. Keep an open mind regarding coffee roasting and brewing methodologies, including especially ones that aren't products of the Third Wave. And remember:

  1. Third Wavers didn't invent great coffee.
  2. Blended roasts can be *excellent*, even, yes, in brewed coffee.
  3. Dark blends, and I’m being absolutely serious here, can be great (to wit, the delectable St. Johns Blend from St. Johns Roasters).
  4. Weighing, timing, and burr-grinding coffee are a bit beyond the pale for a number of people who  go to Third Wave shops in search of advice about coffee preparation, at least in terms of daily coffee preparation. Third Wave shops should consider paring down their recommendations to the true essentials, which to my mind are "excellent coffee beans" and "clean brewing equipment."
  5. Espresso drinks are wonderful, and, in my humble opinion as a coffee tourist, generally *better* with blended espressos than with single origin ones.
  6. Tip your barista (even if their tips for you are unwelcome).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

@Nullprof's Best Music of 2013

Daft Punk's Random Access Memories cover art

2013 was a *great* year for music. There were exceptional releases each month from established acts, left-for-dead acts, and several very exciting rookies. Anybody who keeps up in earnest with popular music should  have found themselves juggling a profundity of riches, even outright overwhelmed by them. Usually, by early December, I have a reasonable idea of what my rankings will look like, and while this year my top choices have been static for several months, I really had to scramble to fill out the rest of my list. As late as the second week of December, I was still discovering 2013 releases that warranted inclusion. This is in part due to my decision to expand my reading habits, which led me to publications such as The Quietus, perhaps the closest approximation of an English analogue to Pitchfork. It reviews albums and bands that are not even on Pitchfork and progeny's radar, such as Grumbling Fur's terrific, avant-indie LP Glynnaestra.

After discovering that broadening my perspective could yield such great finds, I decided to see what else I could unearth from the pages of the less well-known and generally non-US-based indie media. I wanted to know it all. It was 2013 after all, as Primal Scream pointed out at great length, and with the wealth of knowledge at my disposal, I should know it all. Then work got in the way, and my all-knowing, all-hearing quest promptly ended. Then I dragged my feet for another week or so. Which brings us to today, wherein I offer you my favorite albums of 2013.

The Things I Loved

Daft Punk - At first, I didn't know what to think of Random Access Memories. I thought I was listening to some well-curated samples of 70's/80's soft rock, funk, and Italo-disco overlaid with some of Daft Punk's swooniest robotic vocals yet. And I was OK with that, that being enough for me from a French duo I've followed closely since Homework. Then I read about the album's expensive production values, use of period musicians, and atavistic recording equipment and techniques. These guys had a clear vision, to "Give Life Back to Music," as the sumptuous first track announces. What music? "The music of your life." It just so happens that guys who brought house music to the masses really love Hall and Oates.

Everything here is *great*, from my preferred song of the summer, "Get Lucky," to the spoken word "Giorgio By Moroder" (his accent is much more German than I expected), to the alpine heights of the Panda Bear sung "Doin' it Right." It's a true marvel, a paean to all that has been accomplished within a certain subset of beloved but largely forgotten genres, made relevant again by our best living robot creatives.

Disclosure - Woe is me for not being a dance music prodigy and releasing a brilliant album at the age of 18 or 21, the respective ages of the two brothers behind Disclosure. It's rare that house albums are this consistently good qua albums, rarer still that they pull from multiple house genres (in this case, Chicago, Detroit, and acid house, the glory days of each of which precede their birth) without ever sounding dated or derivative. The revival of dance genres of yore has picked up in the past few years with several fine offerings, including Special Request's excellent Soul Music, but Settle simply outclasses them all.

John Grant - Some of us pining for somebody to pick up the mantle of Stephen Merritt found succor in the literate, cathartic, and at times downright filthy lyrics and synth-laden indie rock of John Grant's Pale Green Ghosts. The title track, with its throbbing bassline, orchestral synths, and foreboding lyrics that tell obliquely of an enigmatic spring-time forest drive, is an instant road trip classic. "Black Belt" skewers a former lover for being "supercilious, pretty and ridiculous" and will inform the curious as to the definition of the word callipygian. "GMF" (Greatest Motherfucker) is a statement of self-worth in the midst of earth-shattering romantic rejection, a song that humorously and eloquently trumpets the sentiment "Fuck what you think, I'm *amazing*!" so warmly and brilliantly that you will have this on repeat regardless of your romantic circumstances.

That's enough. Go forth and actually buy these albums.

Best Albums of the Year

1.   Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
2.   Disclosure - Settle
3.   John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts
4.   DJ Koze – Amygdala
5.   DARKSIDE - Psychic
6.   Factory Floor - Factory Floor
7.   The Knife - Shaking the Habitual
8.   Italians Do it Better - After Dark 2
9.   Boards of Canada - Tomorrow’s Harvest
10. The Field - Cupid’s Head
11. Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus
12. Savages - Silence Yourself
13. Grumbling Fur – Glynnaestra
14. Scuba - Update
15. My Bloody Valentine - MBV
16. Primal Scream - More Light
17. John Talabot - DJ Kicks
18. Blondes – Swisher
19. Laurel Halo - Chance of Rain
20. Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks

Honorable Mentions

Special Request - Soul Music

Logos - Cold Mission
Autre Ne Veut -  Anxiety
Burial - Rival Dealer
!!! - Thr!!!er
Tim Hecker - Virgins
The Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Holy Ghost! - Dynamics
Vieux Farke Toure - Mon Pays
Haim - Days Are Gone
Livity Sound - Livity Sound
John Wizards - John Wizards
Karl Hyde - Edgeland
Maxmillion Dollar - House of Woo
Omar Souleyman - Wenu Wenu
M.I.A. - Marangi

Best Songs

Grumbling Fur - The Ballad of Roy Batty

Daft Punk - Give Life Back to Music
Primal Scream - 2013
Factory Floor - Fall Back
John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts
Glass Candy - Warm in the Winter
Fuck Buttons - Brainfreeze
M.I.A. - Yala
!!! - California
The Knife - Full of Fire

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What did the new #iOS and/or #iTunes do to my album art work?

I love iOS7. I love its flat UI and attendant absence of gradients, especially noticeable in the much-improved appearance of the core app icons (haters gonna hate) and those of third-party apps that were updated by developers keen on keeping with the new aesthetic. I love the fastidious little gesture now required to close an app, the indulgent thumb flick that makes me feel like an Ottoman sultan dismissing some minor nobel to deal with his own affairs. I love the little navigation back button, the bold title bars now featured in most apps, and the endlessly useful Command Center. Above all, I love that iOS7 persuasively evinces the commitment of Apple to creating and curating a mobile operating system experience that is as elegant as it is functional.

But there is one thing I hate: I *hate* what is has done to album art in the Music App. What has it done, you ask, that it is deserving of my ire? Here, here is what it has done:

This ain't no art rock
That man is the one, the only Peter Gabriel (you can tell because his name is printed in the photo, because I'm telling you it's Peter Gabriel, and because it's *Peter Gabriel*). As great as he is, though, he did not compose or perform the song "I Zimbra," the Talking Heads' brilliant incorporation of Afrobeat that prefigured their masterpiece, "Remain in Light." So, why, when the cover art from both albums (Peter Gabriel's "So" and The Talking Heads' "Fear of Music") was pulled from iTunes' own CDDB database and displays on the correct album in that program, does iOS Music have an issue?

When I pull up Peter Gabriel's "So," I find Underworld's "Second Toughest in the Infants" cover art. Strange bedfellows.

Peter Gabriel would never write such a nonsensical album title
At first, I thought this was limited to one or two albums, but it turns out it's endemic across my music library, regardless of whether the album was purchased from iTunes or Amazon or was imported from CD and whether the artwork was in the CDDB or I had to pull it from Google Image Search. The album art for most of my albums displays incorrectly.

Here, the artwork for Matthew Dear's "Black City" fronts for The Orb's "U.F.Orb."

It's not like they wouldn't consider collaborating
Fortunately, I found the "U.F.Orb" album artwork moonlighting as the cover for TV On The Radio's first album.

Your love is a satellite...

I don't ask for much, but I do have certain basic expectations of our elite technology companies. Apple, I know that you're not the "data" guys, but this is pretty basic. You've collected the metadata once, just replicate the same association in both programs. *Fix this*!