Glenn O’Brien recommends $100 of Books

Need some holiday gift recommendations? When Glenn O’Brien recommends stuff, people take note. As we found out in the new Winter edition of Electronic Beats Magazine, the former member of Andy Warhol’s factory, TV Party-host and ex-editor-in-chief of Interview Magazine reads lots of books when he’s not telling people how to dress well. What kind? Think big picture. Photo: Margret Links


I’m a reader and a book collector. To maximize my c-note I have selected fairly cheap examples of these books from my favorite source, Were these actual purchases, I might have looked for first editions, hardcovers and dust jackets. But I selected these books for the extraordinary knowledge they impart.  Hofstadter and Jaynes will make you see consciousness in a more complex way.

Jaynes contends in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind that in pre-literate Homeric times, humans perceived the voices of the gods directly in their brains and used idols to trigger the voice. Douglas Hofstadter in Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid theorizes that consciousness, our sense of individuality, or the “I” result from a strange feedback loop in the brain, and he presents the interesting idea that an ant colony represents a single mind dispersed among the individual neurons of its members. It’s something I often reflect on when I look down at a city from an airplane or when I contemplate the increasing specialization of knowledge and tasks in our society.

When I am horrified by the behavior of nations, especially democracies and in particular the big assertive one in which I reside, I often resort to Walter Lippmann who began to explain in horrifying detail how democracy works and how it doesn’t with his 1922 book Public Opinion, and who began to fear for the behavior of democracies in his 1955 The Public Philosophy. He never brings up the beehive or ant colony model, but I assert that when considering how unwaveringly committed we are to the idea that the majority rules, opinion is somehow considered godlike in its infallibility.

The perfect companion to Lippmann is Edward L. Bernays (1891-1995), a nephew of Sigmund Freud who actually invented the term “public relations” and was an expert in what we call, less gently, propaganda. Bernays believed that democracy necessitated manipulation of the public because of its irrational and dangerous “herd instinct.” Bernays called his practice “engineering consent,” and he applied it to politics and press relations as well as advertising. One of his triumphs was convincing American women that smoking, which was taboo, was a sign of their liberation and suffrage. He called cigarettes “torches of freedom.” Many of the techniques employed today by political action groups were pioneered by Bernays.

With all this under one’s belt it would be easy to despair of mankind’s future, which is why I resort to a modern, no-nonsense look into contemporary shamanism and entheogens. There is no more masterful guide than Dale Pendell, whose scientific yet extraordinarily poetic trilogy on psycho-pharmacology is a source of wisdom. If we’re having an apocalypse we’re going to need all the help we can get. ~


This text first appeared first in Electronic Beats Magazine N° 36 (4, 2013). Read the full issue on or in the embed below. 

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How Steffi spends €100

Dutch-born DJ and producer Steffi has been a resident of Berlin’s Panorama Bar for the past six years, gaining a cult following for her ability to connect the dots between classic house and contemporary techno. In between running two record labels (Klakson and Dolly) and banging out mind-altering Sunday sets, she recently mixed the Panorama Bar 05 CD. We gave her 100 euros and this is what she bought. Interview: Max Dax. Photo: Lisa Swarna Khanna.


Record: € 9.99
Incunabula by Autechre.
Clone Records, Mauritsweg 60, 3012 JX Rotterdam, The Netherlands,


Autechre’s first LP for Warp is one I’ve bought countless times because I have a habit of giving it away to friends. If somebody is at my place and we’re talking about music and they tell me they haven’t heard Incunabula, I go straight to my collection and pull out a copy for them. This is a record that changed my life and by far had the biggest influence on me as a DJ. I must have done this at least ten times in the last two years, as giving it away is the only way I know they’re going to listen to it. I practically force the record onto people now, it’s that important to me. Autechre’s later work has lacked the song structure and the sense of melancholy that I’m so drawn to on Incunabula—though I always say it must be impossible to write an album with the same intensity twenty years later with this debut. It’s an absolutely perfect electronic music album. Period.


Tickets for a gig: It’s Bigger Than event. €75 donation.

steffi-100euros-itsbiggerthan-electronic-beatsIt’s Bigger Than is a Berlin-based collective that throws parties with high profile DJs to raise money for various causes—focused currently on Mercy Corps emergency response support for Syrian families who’ve fled the country because of the civil war. This kind of event is crucial in an atmosphere of over-commercialization—something that has contributed to a new generation having little connection to the notion of charity. In the eighties it was a bigger topic, with Live Aid and similar large-scale events, but now we feel less connected to what’s going on outside our own lives, even if we’re more connected with what’s going on around the world. Berlin is the place people come to escape: to spend money in clubs and experience the liberty of the city. Why not introduce some social awareness too—beyond our first-world fulfillment?


Lesson: An hour of Pilates
€15 per group lesson.


I’ve had health problems in the past because of all the traveling I do and I actually slipped a disc from carrying my vinyl. It was so bad that I thought I’d have to switch to digital, which was something I wanted to avoid. But luckily I found a Pilates school that really helped me. It’s tempting to spend your money on objects, clothing, and random stuff while forgetting to do something at least once a week that involves your mind and body—something that makes you both feel good and healthy. Pilates has a lot to do with body awareness, and it’s great for relieving stress. It’s also an excellent way of getting to know your body, which is the only thing we have to carry us through life. ~


This text first appeared first in Electronic Beats Magazine N° 34 (2, 2013). Read the full issue on or in the embed below. To read how more artists spend €100, click here.

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How Holly Herndon spends $100

Holly Herndon grew up in the rural foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and claims to have been afraid of computers as a kid. Luckily for us, she shed that fear, and since 2011 has been releasing startling human-sounding fusions of avant-techno, noise, and compositional electronics. Last year’s Movement (Rvng Intl.) was one of the most ubiquitous titles on critics’ best-of-2012 lists. Justifiably so. We gave her $100 and this is what she bought. Main photo by Suzy Poling. This article is taken from the latest Spring issue of Electronic Beats Magazine.


DVD: Open Score by Robert Rauschenberg in E.A.T. – 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering


Back in the sixties a group called E.A.T., spearheaded by the artist Robert Rauschenberg and engineer Billy Clover, had this incredible idea to pair leading artists with leading engineers at Bell Labs and create new works with new technology. The performances were supposed to take place in New York and in Sweden as they were also supposed to be sponsored by the Swedish government. Well, for some reason it happened in New York but never in Sweden, so now the Swedes have decided to fund an updated version of the same thing, which I was invited to participate in. They also funded this DVD series and I’ve decided to purchase the episode featuring Rauschenberg. Now I just need to save up for the other eight episodes.

Purchased from Microcinema International for $25


Donation: $57.95 to Tor Project @

The Tor Foundation is a Bay Area-based organization that specializes in anonymizing the Internet so that political activists, organizers, international whistle blowers and regular consumers like you and me can engage in online activity without having to worry about constant surveillance. Important stuff.


Book: To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov


This book deals with something I feel constantly confronted by here in the Bay Area: Whenever there’s a larger social problem here, be it political, financial or ecological, people always seem to look towards technology to fix it. There’s a lot of idealism about how all of our problems can be solved, but it usually comes without really thinking about the effect technological solutions will have on other areas not immediately related to the problem. People tend not to think about the deep intricacies of issues. As Morozov calls it, it’s part of a surface level “solutionism”, which is an important thing to consider. The thing is, people here tend to be very intelligent, very well-educated, very confident and want to solve everything. But not doing your research first and having an opinion about something is, in my book, plain arrogance.

Purchased from Amazon for $17.05~


Holly Herndon performs live in Berlin with Laurel Halo, Gatekeeper, and NHK’Koyxen on Sunday, April 28th at Festsaal Kreuzberg.

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How Pantha du Prince spends 100€

Hendrik Weber, better known as Pantha du Prince, describes his deep, chimey, Detroit-inspired sound as “sonic house”.

In the Spring 2012 issue of Electronic Beats Magazine, he reviewed the first of Clone Records’ three-part Drexciya rereleases, Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller I. And like the enigmatic Drexciyan Gerald Donald, Weber’s music is inspired by science, with his upcoming release Elements of Light (Rough Trade) conceptually created around photons, waves, particles, quantum mechanics and spectral splits.


1. Giorgio Agamben: The Man without Content (Book, Suhrkamp, German Edition)


Agamben wrote this first book in 1970. It’s a wild and engrossing ride through the history of art and philosophy. If you need inspiration, this book will provide you with it. Agamben says that the artist is a man without content, permanently stepping out of the nonentity of expression. The ways of the artist cannot be explained. He has to create his own reality and therefore is beyond conceivability. The body of the artist is his body of work. With this book, Agamben showed me that both music and poetry are driven by rhythm.

Bought at b-books, Lübbener Straße 14, Berlin, EUR 14.00


2. Inuit: 55 Historical Recordings of Traditional Greenlandic Music (CD, Sub Rosa)

Inuit- 55 Historical Recordings of Traditional Greenlandic Music

I love the chants of the Greenlandic Inuit because they always leave me thinking about something. What’s especially fascinating is that these are probably the only existing historical field recordings of Inuit rituals of spiritual self-reassurement and safety. They don’t sing words but only sounds, putting themselves into a trance. For me as a techno producer, listening to the Inuit opens a door to a very different world. I have started to work with voices over the past few years, and this collection of recordings is sure to inspire some of my future work. The shamanic chanting is a raw excursion into microtonal experience. The voices vibrate. I’ve never ever heard such chants before. It’s like entering new musical territory for me, the absolute adventure. The Inuit sing with fervor and in a drone-like fashion, oscillating between an atmosphere that’s either more liberating or more oppressive. But more than anything else they define moments of serenity. The individual voice becomes clear and self-assertive. Some of these recordings are more than one hundred years old, so it’s a bit like the Greenlandic equivalent to Alan Lomax’s or Harry Smith’s blues and folk recordings.

Bought at, EUR 12.50


3. Carsten Peter: Alpendämonen (Book, National Geographic, German Edition)

Carsten Peter - Alpendämonen

When I recorded my last album Black Noise in the Swiss area of Schuttwald Atzmännig in 2009, I attended a New Year’s celebration in a nearby village. The ritual started at 5:00 a.m. in total darkness. You’d hear the bells ringing and hundreds of people singing to cast out demons. I was so fascinated by this archaic ritual that I immediately bought this book by National Geographic photographer Carsten Peter. Even if I am more interested in the sonic phenomenon of inner Switzerland than in the photos, I still find the book inspiring.

Bought at, EUR 39.95


4. Christian Marclay: The Bell and the Glass (Exhibition Catalogue, CFA)

My new album, Elements of Light, was recorded together with The Bell Laboratory and I compose for bells, too, so I guess the connection is obvious. This photo essay by composer and visual artist Christian Marclay documents a multimedia installation featuring the irreparable cracks in both Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass). It doesn’t get much more conceptual than that.

Bought at, ca. EUR 20.00


5. John Cage: Empty Words (CD, Edition Wandelweiser)

I was stuck in New York during Hurricane Sandy after I finished my last US tour. As was shown on the news, all cafés and restaurants were shut down, and the subway was completely flooded. Nobody was able to meet up with friends, and nobody dared to walk through the empty city streets. As terrible as it was, it happened to be the perfect situation for music, and particularly to open my mind for Cage’s ten-hour-recording of voices and noises. In a single listening session it became clear to me that Cage must have had the idea of music as a piece of furniture, like Erik Satie before and Brian Eno after him. Empty Words is basically a marathon meditation on a text by Henry David Thoreau. Cage dissects the original words, transforming them into a new shape. For me, this recording represents something one might call a totalitarian form of modernism. I am fully aware that this recording is just one possible interpretation of many, as Cage only wrote instructions how to perform Thoreau’s text. But I doubt that I would have listened to this recording in its entirety without the context of Hurricane Sandy. It was by definition a calming experience to listen to music in the eye of a storm.

Bought at Gelbe Musik, Schaperstraße 11, Berlin, EUR 12.60


6. Heinz Ohff: Der grüne Fürst (Book, Piper, German edition)

This book about nineteenth century Prussian prince and dandy Hermann Pückler-Muskau is only available in German. That’s a pity because Ohff masterfully describes how this eccentric nobleman originally wanted to pursue a literary career, got rejected and then became one of Europe’s most brilliant landscape designers.

Bought at, EUR 0.32 ~

To read how more artists spend €100, click here.

Pantha du Prince’s Elements of Light is out Jan. 15th on Rough Trade; stream it on NPR. Weber will also be appearing at Berlin’s CTM music and media festival on Jan. 30th. This piece appears in the latest issue of Electronic Beats Magazine. Photo: Asha Mines

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