Welcome to Downtime, a regular series in which we ask our favourite artists for their cultural recommendations. This month, we caught up with Palmistry.
As Palmistry, Los Angeles-based producer and vocalist Benjy Keating makes subtle, introspective music that rarely sounds as if it’s intended for audiences at all. Rather, Keating’s output is reminiscent of scribbled diary entries reimagined as tracks; pensive musings and his innermost anxieties simply expressed through twinkling pop melodies. Past releases such as 2019’s Afterlife – which featured production input from SOPHIE, Mechatok and Equiknoxx – landed on New York- based label Mixpak, which proved the ideal home for his stripped-back take on dancehall. For his latest album, wyrdo, Keating has jumped aboard another celebrated NYC imprint: Fool’s Gold Records. To mark its release, he shares a selection of cultural recommendations that mirror the complex sensibilities of his artistry.
Byung-Chul HanPhilosopher and cultural theorist
Once you get past the headsy, academic baloney, Han’s work is on point when it comes to dealing with the toxic social media culture we live in. “Simply having more information and communication does not shed light on the world … On its own, a mass of information generates no truth,” Han wrote in his book In the Swarm: Digital Prospects.
All of Han’s work has a similar message, talking about how people feel forced to share their private lives in a pornagraphic manner just to stay relevant. In one of his most well known works, Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power, it’s one of the few times he offers a solution to our general tech bro hell. Han gasses up the virtues of idiocy; that only by listening more and saying less can we counter the 24/7 capitalist surveillance which relies on constant communication to feed algorithms and make coin out of our suffering.
Terence McKennaPsychedelics advocate and ethnobotanist
The only online self-help guru one should subscribe to. McKenna was a visionary and rare voice – one who was genuinely opposed to the toxic culture we live in. He was a big proponent of the legalisation of drugs, especially psychedelics, which more and more evidence is pointing to helping in the treatment of depression and other illnesses. My favourite McKenna quote: “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third storey window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structure and culturally laid-down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”
Dambudzo MarecheraAuthor and poet
Marachera was the true epitome of a rebel, and even though he got some acclaim in his lifetime for his first book House of Hunger, he was always an outsider who could never conform to what society expected of him. His academic talents at University of Rhodesia – which he was expelled from for throwing a brick at a racist teacher – won him a scholarship to New College Oxford, from which he was also expelled for setting fire to the literary department.
At Oxford, Marechera struck his professors as a very intelligent but rather anarchic student who had no interest in adhering to the course syllabus. He also had a reputation for being a quarrelsome yute who never hesitated to physically fight his antagonists. He was notorious for having no respect for authority, derived from notions of racial and class superiority. For trying to set the college on fire, Marechera was given two options: submit to psychiatric examination or be expelled. He chose the latter.
wyrdo is out now via Fool’s Gold Records