DIVERSIONS//2021.01

Of mixtapes and playlists (DIVERSIONS//2021.01)

This year, I’ve decided to occasionally make a streamed playlist “mixtape.” I don’t have a specific listener in mind. I do this for my own amusement primarily. There might be a series of these, or only a few ultimately. My objective is to include good music, of course, but also to sequence something that’s listenable in context.

Snow on branches

Best new music 2020

It’s the morning of Boxing Day, December 26, 2020, and Ontario has been back in full lock-down since midnight. At least we are avoiding the worst possible super-spreader effect of the annual shopping melee. We are ten months into the … [read more]

Instrument of Instruments

Best new music 2019

My 2019 annual write-up of the year’s best new music. I publish this post into the ether once a year to summarize what I’ve particularly liked during the last twelve months, in the hope that you might discover something new.

Johnny Clegg, dancing

In memoriam Johnny Clegg

A personal reflection on the death of Johnny Clegg, giant of South African music, in July 2019. … I met him once, very briefly. In my mid-20s, when I was living in Johannesburg, a colleague and I bumped into him holding court in a café at Rosebank Mall where we had gone during our lunch break.

A christmas wreath consisting entirely of round ornaments. December 2018

Best new music 2018

2018 was another year full of outrageous distractions, the misconfigurations and abuses of the public sphere relentlessly encroaching on whatever space one tried to carve out for thinking, experiencing beauty or getting some rest. A year to test our commitments, … [read more]

Courtesy of Jennifer Johannesen via Instagram

Best new music 2017

This year’s best music list comes in the middle of the Great Deep Freeze of 2017, where it’s apparently colder in Canada than at the North Pole. Winter has come. This time, I have no summary words of political, cultural … [read more]

Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, December 2016

Best new music 2016

As 2016 plowed on, it revealed itself as an annus horribilis. Many of the world’s temporarily dormant or subdued evils really came alive this year, and there’s no need to enumerate them here. Music lost more than a few important … [read more]

Michelle Willis - See Us Through - Cover

Listening to: Michelle Willis, See Us Through

As I write this review, it seems that the world’s burning has accelerated. It’s not that it wasn’t already burning, but this moment in time has brought us, inter alia: Syria; refugees; Brexit; a coup attempt in Turkey and the unsurprising and merciless purge that followed; incessant and systemically rooted police shootings of black citizens in the US; Donald Trump; and — literally going on right now — a mall shooting in Munich where so far at least 8 people have died.