Hi, I'm Kim Nguyen.

I'm a web designer who can't write good and wanna learn to do other stuff too. My brain is a rabbit hole of associative thought, like looking at Wikipedia and coming up for air six hours and twelve linked articles later, but hey, now you've confirmed that Alfred Bester's sci-fi novel The Demolished Man has nothing to do with dystopian cinematic classic Demolition Man. I'm not cocky, “kim” really is “gold” in Vietnamese.

A Lonely Island

Header image by jayRaz (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cyberpunk acts tough and gritty, but there's a certain sadness and romance about it. It's a genre and aesthetic that reflects an uncertain relationship between our humanity and technology. Technology empowers us to perform beyond our biological capabilities, but now there's so much more for us to interface with when we interact each other, all the protocols and glass walls we've built between us.

I've been stuck on dreamy electronic beats lately. It needs to be dense, fuzzy, probably a little chopped and screwed, and strung together by bright melodies. It started with an obsession with everything from the Secret Songs imprint spilling over into the products of Japanese netlabels. It's a section of music I'm finding doesn't translate nearly as well live to me, think headphones in bed staring at the ceiling over bass at da club you can feel vibrating in your chest.

Headphones are part of our cyberpunk present. If your headphones are working as they should, all music should sound like it's made for you, and you alone. Emphasis on the alone: headphones are isolation tech.

Go-qualia's "The One Looked Into" is a track framed by a listener scanning the radio, surfing through frequencies looking for something. There are snippets of an orchestra, a news anchor, instrumental piano track, retro soul, and maybe that's it, they're looking for a bit of soul to latch onto. The hand on the dial doesn't stop though, and the track builds on that listlessness while tying it all together with a steady, lilting synth harmony.

The jam is probably the second track on the EP, "Bate MIDI 4 Too A Buried Motif 2" (what a name), but "The One Looked Into" builds a clearer picture.


Cool thing pointed out to me: Queens of the Stone Age also uses the narrative of searching radio stations, but extends it to a full album concept on Songs for the Deaf. Less cyberpunk, more Americana road trip.

For a song about putting on your headphones and you doing you, Little Boots' "Headphones" will get it done.