May 2023 media
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: Breath of the Wild casts a long shadow, doesn’t it? Tears of the Kingdom is a worthy iteration on the formula—an improvement, I’d say, if pressed—and seems certain to be among the best-loved games of the year, if not the decade. But it is, in the end, still an iteration, and I don’t expect it will have the earth-shaking cultural impact of its predecessor; it is “merely” the best work of some of the industry’s best developers, not another revolution. For what it sets out to do, though, I can’t imagine a bigger success.
The Last Recording Artist: This is a wide-ranging essay by Jaime Brooks about the intersecting histories of musical artists and technology, including radio, Vocaloid, streaming services, and artificial intelligence. It’s thoughtful and more than a little dispiriting, in a way that makes you hope it doesn’t turn out to be as prescient as it seems. (Note that it includes images and discussion of blackface and minstrelsy, if you’d rather avoid that.)
Seven Psalms: This is my favorite Paul Simon album in thirty years. Presented as a single half-hour track, the eighty-one-year-old Simon’s twin obsessions on Seven Psalms are God and death. The arrangements and compositions are unlike almost everything else I’ve heard from him—as though he’d had enough of writing catchy tunes and decided to wield his songwriting ability to different ends. We’re lucky he’s still putting records out at all, let alone ones like this.