Dani Arribas-Bel Digital Land

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Chino Moreno’s Top 13

A while ago, I talked about the inverview by The Quietus to Deftones’ Chino Moreno. I came across it recently and decided to put all the goodies from Mr. Moreno in a Spotify playlist. I like to leave it run on random in the background, because it’s pretty good at creating atmospheres. Certainly, you can see all this influence in the Deftones’ music, although it’s surprising how low-key it sounds compared to some of the band’s guitars or screams. In any case, very recommendable. Another aspect I like of creating the list and being able to listen to it is that it gives that set of 13 albums, which I’d have otherwise probably not known about, a theme and a reason that relates to the singer and makes it a more profound experience; in the era of digital remixing, it’s almost a creation in itself.

I’ll give you the hook here to go on and check the list or read the whole article, because it is well worth the time:

Some of these tracks were rejected from a film score, and I love to put on visuals when I’m making music. I collect old films, from the turn of the century or the 60s or whatever, I’ll put one up on a monitor and start writing, to me that’s one of the most fun ways of making music.

Chino Moreno

Playlist link

Marching into history

This morning, while I was doing some “life sustainer” tasks (aka cleaning, cooking, laundry…) I put on my headphones one of the last episodes of  The Changing World, a series of BBC documentaries about global issues. This one was an overview about the phenomenon of marches and how peaceful colective actions have influenced the XX Century, from the marches of Gandhi to the speeches of Luther King or the Chinese Long March. Most recomended. As an advance, I’ll leave here a powerful excerpt from Ghandi, but a full listen is most recommended, very inspiring and encouraging stuff for all professional dreamers out there to see how it’s the sum of many apparently insignificant facts that make History.

I regard myself as a soldier, though a soldier of peace; I know the value of discipline and truth; I have never made a statement that the massif of India, if it became neccesary would ressort to violence. I regard myself incapable of making statements of this sort.

M. K. Gandhi


Tomorrow, as I have been doing in every single exam since the album came out (2001), I will use this song as the very last one before going “on stage”. It’s important to keep some superstitions, it makes us more human.


Mañana, como he hecho en cada examen desde que el salió el album (2001), escucharé esta canción justo antes de “entrar en escena”. Es importante tener alguna superstición, nos hace más humanos.


Freedom from fear

On this morning bike ride (mostly on non-wehicule trail), I listened to PRI’s “The Changing World” podcast, a series of documentaries about global issues, very interesting topics usually. Today’s show was on Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese freedom activist and Nobel Peace Price laureate, who’s been under one way or another of arrest for the last 20 years (currently under house arrest by the militar goverment of the country). It’s about half an hour of very powerful and strong stuff. I’ll post here the quote that made me drop a couple of tears of joy (I’ll claim it was the cold that made it for the public record…) while pedalling, the rest is left for you to dig it up.

“I am happy because I am free, free from fear…”

Aung San Suu Kyi

Sunset Mission & related thoughts

It’s pretty amazing how music shapes moments and, at the same time, how the way we get to know albums and songs influences our taste for them. Today at the end of the work day I came across this post in which Chino Moreno, Deftones’ band leader and one of my teenage icons, lists 13 of his most influencial/favourite musical works. I had to run so I’ve only digged until the third album he mentions, Sunset Mission by “Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore”. As a big influence, I’ve always taken Chino’s view (interviews, musical taste reflected on his career, etc.) pretty seriously, so I’ve rushed to google the album and get a copy, which has gone straight into my iPhone.

I’m now back to the appartment they’ve put me in Amsterdam for this week (a beautiful old building by the Amstel) after a beer with a friend in one of those low-light cozy bars in the Pijp, for which Amsterdam is pretty good at. Of course, on the walk back I’ve had Sunset Mission on my ears; and it couldn’t have been a better fit. In the post, Chino talks about how he loves movie soundtracks, and you can taste that flavour in here: the atmosphere created by the blend of jazz and suspense makes whatever you’re doing while listening the scene of a story, a movie in which you’re the main character instead of the spectator. All of a sudden,  closed vintage shops, rooms seen from the street through windows and the city lights reflected on the river have created a page on a graphic novel or a shot from a Twin Peaks moved a few thousands kilometres away. Pretty amazing. I particularly like how he labels the album as ‘metal’ when in fact it’s pure jazz and ambient. Parental advisory: only for night animals.


In this days where emails longer than 2 sentences for something non-work-related are almost romantic, I’ve got one ending by “…I’m really glad you’re in this world, Dani…”; in which an iPhone has more computing power than the most powerful computer from last decade, “somebody” gave me yesterday a calculator that has no single electronic component; and last, the most subversive one, in an era where hate is becoming common currency, signs of love have come from all over the planet, from the desert in Phoenix to the jungle in Thailand or the lovely Amsterdam and Seoul. This is really something.


[En estos días que corren, en los que un email de más de dos frases que no tenga que ver con el trabajo es casi romántico, hoy me ha llegado uno que terminaba diciendo “…me alegro de verdad de que estés en este mundo, Dani…”; en esta era en la que un iPhone tiene más capacidad de proceso que el ordenador más potente de la década pasada, “alguien” me regaló ayer una calculadora sin ningún componente electrónico; y por último, lo más subversivo, en un mundo en el que el odio se está convirtiendo en la moneda de cambio habitual, muestras de amor han llegado desde todas partes del planeta, desde el desierto de Phoenix hasta la jungla en Tailandia, pasando por los maravillosos Amsterdam o Seúl. Algo va bien.]


  • 8:00am/ Hello world.
  • 8:05am/ Freshly squeezed fruit juice, just brewed tea, chocolate cereals and toast + mom’s love.
  • 8:45am/ Put on my scarf and flat cap. Short walk to bus with Embee’s latest one on my ears.
  • 8:55am/ Get on the bus and look for a photo expo to go see in the evening. Embee keeps sweetening my morning.
  • 9:20am/ Arrive to the university, boot up my linux box, see the NG photo of the day, and start coding while listening to my very most fav. radio show.
  • 11:30am/ A blended mix of Mahler, Telefon Tel Aviv and Elliot Smith replaces Mr. Rupture. Keep coding.
  • 1:30pm/ Quick stop for lunch and 10 minutes walk.
  • 2:30pm/ Back to coding. Chet Baker joins the party on my earplugs.
  • 6:00pm/ Successfully finish the task. Two minutes to lay back, smile to myself and feel proud.
  • 6:02pm/ Start editting a paper to send it back to the Netherlands a.s.a.p.
  • 7:15pm/ Send the paper, back up the day’s work, clear out and put flat cap back on.
  • 7:30pm/ Walk in good company to photo expo.
  • 8:00pm/ Meet more friends at the gallery, spend a few minutes travelling to Morocco without moving.
  • 8:30pm/ Warm vanilla shake and good chat.
  • 9:50pm/ Cold but nice walk to the bus stop.
  • 10:15pm/ Get on the bus. Matt Shadetek tries to warm up my ears and overcome the day’s tiredness.
  • 10:40pm/ Get home, tomato salad, short talk to mom and brother.
  • 11:45pm/ Covered by blanket, join Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist to save the world from bad people for a few minutes.

This’ the log of today, which I write to remember how happy ‘simple‘ can be whenever I feel down or think otherwise.

Sobre el Abuelo

Recuerdo que un amigo americano me contó una vez cómo se enteró de la muerte de uno de sus cantantes favoritos de la juventud: “en aquella época yo vivía en Barcelona y, una mañana, mientras salía del metro de Sants camino de la universidad, vi de pasada el USA Today, con una foto en grande de su cara y pensé: ‘sólo hay una razón por la que USA Today abriría con esa portada…'”. Algo parecido me ha pasado cuando he leído el segundo comentario consecutivo acerca de Labordeta en Facebook o Twitter esta mañana. Creo que, tal como está el mundo hoy en día, lo mejor que podemos hacer para cambiarlo es  intentar que él no nos cambie; y lo mejor que podemos hacer por otros es ser ejemplo de aquello en lo que creemos. Siempre he pensado en esto sin Labordeta en la mente, pero la verdad es que me cuesta encontrar unas palabras que definan mejor la impresión que tengo de él.

Es curioso lo que puede llegar a influir una persona que nunca has conocido en persona. Para mí, siempre será la música de fondo que mi padre ponía (aún a regañadientes de mi hermano y míos entonces) en el casette del coche los domingos mientras bajábamos a Zaragoza después de un fin de semana en Biescas; o las canciones a las que siempre volvíamos con mis amigos en las primeras escapadas de adolescentes al Pirineo. Desde luego que no la única y probablemente no la más importante, pero ha sido una de las personas que me ha enseñado a amar la tierra de donde soy y sentirme siempre orgulloso de donde vengo allá por donde viajo. Decía el poeta que “la verdadera patria del hombre es la infancia” y, por ello, sé que siempre nos unirá ser compatriotas de algo que ya no existe. El mundo se nos está quedando huérfano de buenas personas.


I’m just wowed by this story I’ve come across. It is something I’ve always wanted to do, to take a picture everyday and, after some time (say a month, a year, etc.) compile them. I think one can express so much about himself and so much can be told with little pieces of life over a sustained period of time. This guy did it for 18 years until the day he died.

For some reason, I think it’s in the social nature of human kind to feel attraction for other’s lives, or maybe it’s just me; anyhow, this kind of examples always touch me, especially when there is a tragic ending, as it is the case (that’s another side of human nature I don’t understand but it’s there, the relevance tragedy gives to everything it touches…). I like thinking what I was doing during the story was happening and finding links between the story and myself, even though I don’t know the person at all; in this case, I haven’t been able to resist to check what he was doing the year I was born and the  vintage shots of New York City, a place I know and have been to, taken in a different time and from different perspective, feel just special.


“That awful little man on your shoulder”

One of my very favourite Brooklyn-based producers, Matt Shadetek, wrote this post about creativity and the fears our society, starting by ourselves, imposes to be truly creative. I recommend a full read of it because it’s spotted with very compelling thoughts and honest acknowledgements about his experience in releasing personal music. This one, particularly, made me feel  identified:

(…) The problem for me is that fear, especially in releasing an instrumental which I produced alone, with no collaborating producers or vocalists, that in doing so there is nothing to hide behind and people will not just judge my music but they will judge me. (…)

I’m nothing like a musician or an artist, but I’ve always liked the idea of being a PhD student as something not that far: art or not, research is a creative activity and, whether or not the results are as enoyable or useful as those from Shadetek, for instance, there are several similarities in the processes of creating songs and academic papers.

I am about to hand in the first final draft of my dissertation, and these days the following question starts popping up in conversations more often: “Oh, that’s cool you are finishing your dissertation, what is it about?” I’ve always had a very hard time answering it. And it’s not because the dissertation topic (cities and their spatial structure) is hard to explain to a non-expert on the field; although there might be some of it, I think most of the trouble relates to Shadetek’s point: it’s the fear of people thinking what I do is not relevant, useful or creative enough, of people going beyond and not judging my work but judging me that usually takes me to the easy way of “I don’t wanna bore you now, I’ll tell you other day if you’re interested”. As he greatly gets it in the article, it’s that “awful little man on your shoulder muttering: ‘You’re no good. This sucks. They’re all going to laugh at you’”.

For those not that interested so much in my PhD’s suffering, I’ve also got a paragraph for you. I think in the end, whether it’s a song, a dissertation or your love for 1950’s icelandic folk music, what makes them scaring is that they are all things that relate to our very inner self and, by exposing them to others we feel somehow naked, afraid of  being neglected because we are in a way different or particular, and it’s in our human condition to seek for belonging and social acceptance. Once I heard that “shyness is the desire to please and the fear not to success on it”. At least for myself, that’s the little man on my shoulder.