ponedjeljak, 30. rujna 2013.

0011011001111000 - [6x] (2013)


Hipnagogička nesanica izvanzemaljca na LSD-u (abortiranog Antikrista).


[6x] is a fully interactive psychedelic cornucopia of altered-state media -- distorted, processed, deconstructed and reassimilated into mind-bending flash films, subliminal assaults and shifting kaleidoscopic journeys. Caught between a surreal nightmare and warped mindtrip, this DVD package presents an immersive journey through hypnagogic insomnia in which the viewer is in full control. This experience contains hours of material - complete with hidden features, puzzles and "trip-tools" galore.
Note: Contains disturbing and/or adult material. Intended for mature audiences only.

[6x] is the best buy of any 2013 release to date.  After spending a couple of evenings exploring the wormholes and crannies of the DVDs and listening to the music on the accompanying data disc, I feel as if I’ve only opened the outer doors.  Is this set really only $12?  Apparently so ~ and what a bargain.
0011011001111000 is no ordinary artist, as we established when approaching his last release, ⌨.  Try Googling the title ~ there’s no key with that symbol!  It’s clear that the artist prefers to do things in an unconventional way.  Such is the nature of the new release as well.  [6x] is like a snuff film, a haunted house, and an elaborate novel (Night Film or House of Leaves) all rolled up in one.  The “mature audiences” label is appropriate due to the occasional violent or pornographic image, but for the most part the warning reflects the disturbing nature of the juxtapositions: cartoons, vintage advertisements, quaint photographs and otherwise benign snippets are blended with the sinister.  The rating mirrors that of the film The Conjuring, which earned its “R” not with sex or gore, but by being “extremely scary”.  In other words, this is the real thing.
Unlocking the mysteries of the DVD hearkens back to the early days of video, when one was never sure if the dead ends and loops were intentional.  Sometimes the screen responds to specific keys, while other times it remains still.  Pressing random keys can lead to random results (but good luck remembering what you pressed).  The second disc can only be unlocked by using a code from the first ~ reminiscent of Myst.  Room after room awaits.  Multiple short-looped videos are present, especially on the first disc, where changing channels is like surfing through a coven’s cable network.  The most effective of these loop without stopping, so one is never sure where they end.  (Ironically, each disc contains a section that says, “The End”, without ending!)  While these images seem to have no rhyme or reason, they begin to make sense as one becomes immersed.  But then one imagines typing pages of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, and starts to think of pressing the exit button.  That is, if one can find it.  Uh-oh.
As an aural being, I am particularly drawn to the radio dial on the second disc, which leads one from station to station.  In like fashion, the accompanying data disc contains over 200 tracks, ranging from a few seconds to nearly half an hour in length.  It’s hard to listen to so many short tracks in a row, so for music, one is directed to the final six files, featured on Bandcamp and at the bottom of this page.  As before, a warning is attached, as these tracks can shake off their hauntological restraints in a split second, erupting without warning into woofer-shredding extremes.  Buried frequencies, static folds, sampled voices, cold winds and electronic feedback create a warp in perception; one feels the spirit world rushing in.  Once the laptop is closed, the television is off and the discs have been returned to their cases, one wonders if the forces unleashed by [6x] are still in the house.  It’s a deliciously unsettling feeling, even if one finds the curtains moving on their own accord.  (Richard Allen)

Taraxein (2013)                   


The auditory narrative of an individual's descent into madness, in three "episodes". Taraxein is a wayward journey through the unbalanced and aberrant reality constructed purely from peripheral hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Full dosage manifests in the listener a course of three progressive psychotic episodes culminating in dissociative catatonia.
This piece exists as a thematic soundscape - effectively operating as a vehicle for subliminally induced delusional schizophrenia. Utilizing methods of applied behavioral engineering, CR, decatastrophization, neuroauditory processing, and destabilization of neural oscillations to trigger schizotypal behaviors and rapid mental deterioration in the consumer.

⌨ (2013)                      

subota, 28. rujna 2013.

Walerian Borowczyk & Jan Lenica - Byl sobie raz (1957)

Still from Byl sobie raz by Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lanic

Animirani film koji je (možda) utjecao na montipajtonovske animacije Terryja Gilliama. Ako nije, trebao je.

Once Upon a Time (Byl sobie raz) (1957):

An amusing little cartoon with a circus freak-show organ music soundtrack, “Once Upon a Time” traces the adventures of an egg shape with four sticks for legs in its attempt to find an identity and a partner. It finds a set of feathers and a bird’s-head silhouette and together the unlikely duo encounter various cut-outs and images, and find a temporary home among a collage of live-action film shots and a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting in an art gallery.
The animation style looks crude and childish but the execution is ingenious and cuts across notions of identity, function and narrative. Small children may not really understand what’s happening here: they will appreicate the egg shape drawing a line on the blank page so it can walk over the line but not understand why the set of feathers behaves rather erratically, at once accepting the egg thing’s friendship yet ever ready to abandon its friend. There’s sly humour and the duo of the egg shape and the set of feathers behave like a Laurel-and-Hardy or Abbott-and-Costello pair. There may be an absurdist message in the narrative of the twosome as they eventually find a home and become virtually invisible in it, however comfortable and well-defined their new surroundings are.
The use of collages prefigures Terry Gilliam’s use of cardboard cut-out figures and it’s possible this and similar creations by Borowczyk and Lenica strongly influenced the Monty Python man in his own animated work. - undersoutherneyes.edpinsent.com/

Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica, Był sobie raz..., 1957

petak, 27. rujna 2013.

Will Samson - Light Shadows (2013)

Uz ovakve pjesme ne usudiš se umrijeti, da ih ne bi preplašio.
Glasom sličan Tomu Krellu (How To Dress Well) - što je već dovoljna preporuka - Samson je manijak obeshrabrujuće nježnosti.


One year after the release of full-length album ‘Balance’ (‘Awash with Eno-esque ambience, and recorded late at night to cassette…an unusually intimate collection’ 8/10 – UNCUT Magazine), Will Samson returns with new EP, Light Shadows.
Since the release of ‘Balance’ in October last year, Will has travelled across the UK and Europe, touring and sharing stages with Kurt Vile, Ólafur Arnalds, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Marissa Nadler, Shearwater, Pinback & more – as well as his own headline shows.
However, it was personal experiences of a very different nature that shaped these new songs.
During the summer months between completing and releasing this most recent album, Will unexpectedly found himself facing an extremely close & profound experience of death.
Following the aftermath of such a loss, he briefly retreated to India, seeking some time & space to gently reflect on the recent events. Travelling alone from the Southern tip, all the way up to the giant mountains in the North, this is where the first sketches of songs slowly began to form.
Fast forward to the summer of 2013, Will travelled to Berlin to begin recording these new songs with close friend, Florian Frenzel (who also helped to produce ‘Balance’). Using a small selection of tape machines and home-made outboard gear, the two crafted away on the scrapbook of ideas until they emerged with a miniature collection of new music. The end result is ‘Light Shadows’.
Cover photograph taken by Will Samson in The Atlas Mountains, Morocco.- www.karaokekalk.de/  

Will Samson - Balance

Balance (2012) streaming


Just over one year after the release of his first vocal album Hello Friends, Goodbye Friends, 23 year old Will Samson presents a brand new album of his own personal fragile blend of experimental folk and ambient electronics.
However, with songs about a surreal overnight boat journey in South East Asia, paintings from a Dutch art gallery, to the simple love of a dear friend, Balance takes a confident step away from its predecessor in both feeling & sound.
The record began its life in Summer 2011, whilst Samson was living in a tiny bedroom in a shared apartment with 5 other people. One of whom was Joel Danell – a wonderful musician from Sweden making music under the pseudonym of ‘Musette’. When Joel moved back to Stockholm towards the end of the summer, he kindly left behind a collection of old cassettes, a Tascam 8-track and a cassette deck for tape mastering – it was then that Will set to work on some new songs.
“It didn’t take long before I became totally absorbed with the magic of analogue recording and the mysteries to be discovered within these ancient cassette tapes. Numerous nights were spent working through to the early morning, playing quietly so as not to wake up my house mates. On ‘Dusty Old Plane’ you can even hear the birds beginning to sing with the sunrise.” – Samson recalls.
Around September 2011 there were a few rough sketches of songs, but lack of equipment and recording knowledge had become a restriction. Around this time Will happened to receive an email from Florian Frenzel, expressing interest in helping to record some music. Shortly after, they casually met up at Florian’s home and became better acquainted over a few cups of tea – soon realising that they shared a mutual obsession/love for the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack, as well as many other musical (and non-musical) interests.
It was in Frenzel’s home studio (containing a multitude of vintage equipment such as salvaged organs, analogue tape delays, beautiful old microphones, home-made equipment, and even a reel-to-reel from a former GDR radio) where they began recording new songs, editing earlier cassette demos, drinking more tea, exchanging music & childhood stories, watching Autumn slowly turn into Winter – becoming great friends in the process.
By the beginning of Spring, the album was finally complete and handed over to their mutual friend, Nils Frahm, who lovingly mastered it at his Durton Studio in Berlin.
Floating in a gentle haze of melodies, soft white noise & intimate tape crackles, Balance manages to retain the spirit of the aged cassettes and equipment it was made with, whilst offering something altogether unique & new.

“The recording process of this album was a joyous one, and it is my sincere hope that you may find some happiness within these songs too.” – Will Samson    www.karaokekalk.de/  

"Just over one year after the release of his first vocal album Hello Friends, Goodbye Friends, 23 year old Will Samson presents a brand new album of his own personal fragile blend of experimental folk and ambient electronics. The record began its life in Summer 2011, whilst Samson was living in a tiny bedroom in a shared apartment with 5 other people. One of whom was Joel Danell – a wonderful musician from Sweden making music under the pseudonym of ‘Musette’. When Joel moved back to Stockholm towards the end of the summer, he kindly left behind a collection of old cassettes, a Tascam 8-track and a cassette deck for tape mastering – it was then that Will set to work on some new songs. Floating in a gentle haze of melodies, soft white noise & intimate tape crackles, Balance manages to retain the spirit of the aged cassettes and equipment it was made with, whilst offering something altogether unique & new." - boomkat 

Be warned, fans of instrumental work: Will Samson‘s album is quite heavy on the vocals. With understandable lyrics and everything! There’s no charter for ignoring singers at A Closer Listen, just that our natural inclination is towards songs and sounds without words. But Balance relies a lot more on atmosphere, and Samson’s voice (imagine Antony sampled through a Jonsí machine) sits within the music rather than on top of it, a fragile instrument threatening to crack and disappear at any moment, so it shouldn’t alarm or distress any visitors to ACL.
The overall impression that Balance conjures is of a lo-fi folk album, recorded on a cassette player’s built-in microphone and then lost down the back of the sofa for half a decade. There’s no small amount of tape hiss here, which adds to the atmosphere and lends a hazy feel to the songs, obscured as they are by a layer of Dolby-free gauze. The opening “Oceans Are Wilder” is the whole album in a microcosm: a delicate toy piano, ambient waves, Samson’s voice – sometimes sampled, sometimes multi-tracked – and a rich organic hum filling out the arrangement. It’s an almost heartbreakingly beautiful sound.
Samson began recording the album in a house shared with five others, and so he had to balance (hey!) his work; waiting for times when the house was quiet enough to make music but without disturbing the others in their slumber.  The hushed approach gives Balance a four-in-the-morning feel – not in the alcohol-fuelled comedown sense, but rather capturing the sense of wonder at the first rays of dawn on the horizon, the birds warming up their voices, the feeling of nature awakening again while most humans sleep on. Although the record was completed in a more sympathetic recording environment, the spirit of the earlier work was retained; it’s an album that relies more on feel than on melody.

That’s not to say there aren’t tunes on Balance; it’s hard not to be swept along by the lilting guitar of “Painting The Horizon”, for example, but the overall impression is not what Samson is saying but how he’s saying it. Where many home-recordists tend toward a crunchy digital sound, this music is full of analogue spaces, made up of sounds that would be removed by other artists and engineers. The result is an album that’s warm and welcoming, like a hot bath at the end of a busy day. - Jeremy Bye

As far as cult soundtrack releases go Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was never a milestone, but it clearly had a strong effect on one experimental musician. At 23 Will Samson has built Balance out of everything he loves: Tascam 8-track cassettes, the crackly accordion music of Musette, and the kooky, intimate amnesia soundtrack from composer Jon Brion. The result is a decidedly mixed bag, and that’s even after producer Nils Frahm has worked his magic over it, coating every quiet chime in fairy dust.
With his high voice cracking like a boy who’s just lost his Lego set, and singing to twinkling guitar backgrounds, Balance is intimate to the point of farce. If you can picture Sigur Rós’ Jónsi on a sailing holiday you’ve imagined Will Samson’s sound, perhaps best exemplified by ‘Hunting Shadows’ with its ethereal synths and voices like orphaned wolf cubs. Human vocal tracks are even more twee: the gentle bass and glockenspiel of ‘Oceans are Wilder’ where Samson screeches about being ”Like crystal”, or ‘Cathedrals’ with its loose acoustic guitar as he sings about the ocean, ”The kind you swallow”. Looking for bite size post-rock gentle enough for an evening’s stargazing? You’ve come to the right place.
However, even someone with the patience of an astronomer might struggle with the schmaltz that recurs throughout Balance. Those echoey guitar nothings tug persistently at your heartstrings, and don’t always have the substance to meet the emotional highs they’re aiming for. ‘Eat Sleep Travel, Repeat’ ticks off lullaby riff/falsetto/tape hiss but also incorporates a trumpet solo, one which sounds so shy it’s like it was recorded in a library. Instrumental ‘Music For Autumn’ meanders further before allowing slow guitars to imitate Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’.

Perhaps the fact that there are no immediate standouts prove you need to be in the right mood to enjoy Balance. If rustic, wholesome guitar melodies laced with grime effects are your idea of ambient, this is going to be the most relaxing 33 minutes of your life. But for all its strange ideas - and there’s plenty, with the folktronica strings of ‘Storms Above The Submarine’ being a highlight - Balance’s compositions feel directionless, not helped by the fact that you need to be a dolphin to get what their creator is singing about.
George Bass

Hello Friends, Goodbye Friends (2011)

Berlin-based Will Sansom presents a fragile blend of acoustic pop and ambient electronics through Japan's Nature Bliss/PLOP records - home to music from Rod Modell and F.S. Blumm. 'Hello Friends, Goodbye Friends' is a very canny blend of falsetto vocals strongly reminding of Tom Krell's HTDW album, with tender acoustic guitar, the most tingling brand of lo-fi electronics and decayed piano ambience. We can imagine quite a lot of people falling deeply in love with this release. Check! - boomkat 

Antonymes - There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay (2013)

Melankolija stvorena polusrušenim crkvama, trulim žicama i zarobljenim, izgladnjelim zvukovima s polja.




Not long to go now for what is undoubtedly going to be one of the albums of the year...
Ian M Hazeldine records under the alias Antonymes, hailing from Hawarden, a small village in North Wales, whose most famous inhabitant was William Ewart Gladstone. He creates atmospheric melodies, using various pianos, celesta, strings, church organ and field recordings, and has had releases on Soundcolours, Cathedral Transmissions, Hidden Shoal, Time Released Sound and Rural Colours.
With a long standing interest in music making and active listening, Hazeldine works with any influences, from his surrounding landscape to the artists he has worked with. His compositions often take on a semi-improvised structure with accidental atmospheres used as a starting point. As well as his own projects, Hazeldine also works with Marconi Union’s Richard Talbot, under the name Prospector. He also works as a graphic designer, film maker and photographer, having art directed many of the Hibernate releases including our critically acclaimed vinyl series, and has worked with many other artists and labels including Facture, Field Rotation and Olan Mill.
In late 2009 Antonymes released ‘Beauty Becomes the Enemy of the Future’ on Cathedral Transmissions of which the CD is now unavailable. Since then he has revisited the album, which has culminated a new release, ‘There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay’. Hazeldine’s own reworkings are intertwined with those of friends Ian Hawgood, Isnaj Dui, Offthesky, Field Rotation, Wil Bolton, Spheruleus and James Banbury to create an album of captivating melancholy and beauty. The guest reworkings venture into other, darker territories, where one might be harder pressed to identify the original material.
The sleeve features beautiful images of the North Wales landscape by Richard Outram, fitting the music perfectly.  -Dan www.fluid-radio.co.uk/

Beauty is evident even in the decay of things. Rust will come to claim everything, but the dilapidated, disused building on the corner of the abandoned street still creeps with the secret beauty of intruding ivy, running over its outer walls as it dances silently to the past, and a brilliant shoot of light can still reflect triumphantly through a broken mirror. In the end, you can’t stop the dust from falling over everyone you love, everyone you care about. You can only delay it or accept it.
Once pristine, the first shudder of a bass note is accompanied by a higher, gentle melody, itself a victim to the corrosive, crumbling stone of age. The piano sounds as if it is dusted with age, an old instrument that, despite its years, still revels in tranquil, slow-developing beauty. The major, minor and seventh chords are rich in their timbre, giving the music an unbelievably warm and earthy sound as the decay eats away unnoticed.
The rural, roaming flashes of pleasant, green-tinted scenery rolls in on a tired mind that secretes faded, melancholic memories. ‘Strange Light’ is a hazy, luminescent orb of ambience that undulates quietly and then begins to shake and break up towards the end. The decay can be heard corroding into the atmosphere, masked as a deep rumble that in any other situation would seem highly invasive, that which seeks to rob the skin of life, the theft that goes continually unpunished.
The autumnal brunette changes colour like the shift of the season, but the recent shoots of wispy white hair are just as beautiful a colour as the darker brown; the kind, frail smile has surrendered to the passage of time, but it shines wholesomely with beauty; true beauty. In our youth obsessed culture, true beauty is often lost or dead on arrival, buried under the camouflage of make-up and mascara. Surrendering to the natural beauty that comes with age can almost seem unusual or unnatural deep in the concrete jungle; the posters of a smiling blonde sink into the subconscious and tell you you’re doing it wrong. It’s something that’s almost against the norm, regarded by some as a taboo subject.
Ian M Hazeldine is more concerned with the true beauty that we come into contact with on a regular basis. There is nothing artificial.
Like an ageing leaf waiting for death to arrive, the intense citrus flame of its final burst is as glorious as its once-healthy shade of green. ‘Beauty Becomes the Enemy of the Future’ was released in 2009, but Hazeldine here has revisited and re-worked the thoughtful music. He seems now to have accepted the inevitable decay of beauty – or what we may perceive as beauty – but with acceptance comes an additional layer of sadness. It is the sound of extinguished opportunity, the burning notes that echo out what the heart so desperately wanted but was unable to receive. Antonymes now treats decay not as an enemy, but as an eventual fate, something to be embraced.
Besides, beauty always renews itself. At the time, it doesn’t feel like the heart ever will recover, yet butterflies are testimony to the transformation that the heart can experience, even after the decay of things. And so, remarkably, we find that decay can heal. Where the rust eats away feverishly, avidly attacking the weakened heart like acid, so too can it seal the wounds it once so ferociously ripped open, ripped apart.
The piano coughs out the dusted age of decades; there is a very strong case to be made for instruments sounding better the older they get. The piano plays chords of beauty, but hot on the heels comes a dissonant afterthought, like the family photograph that has been over-run with thick, hanging cobwebs.
The deep, thin crackles pierce the music as the record ages, too; the way that the skin slowly creases and then folds. Ambient sheets that caress the skin fold over one another, but the melancholia of the piano is never far away.
The sound of a church organ breaks free from the piano’s process of mummification; the spider cocooning its victim in a silver wrapping. For a minute, it is the respite that we all need. Those weary heads are strained, bowed to the surge of pressure, and hands are clasped in an appeal for help. Tears trickle the side of the face, helping to wash the skin clean from the ruins of decay back to the years of free youth. In desperation, the still, resonating organ envelops the space and momentarily puts the mind, and the music, at peace.
Sometimes, a moment is all that is needed; to then get back up, and realise that there can be no true beauty without decay. - James Catchpole

Beauty Becomes The Enemy Of The Future (2009)

As though ripped from the very heavens themselves, twinkling star crossed beauty is justly serviced with the reverence it richly deserves. Unassuming and elegant, the slender and measured tendering of the sleepy headed piano braids succulently bathed in raining showers of celestial feedback halos and bliss drenched chorus’ impart upon it an unworldly aura that just leaves you breathless, speechless and rooted in awe to the spot - references, if references are desired, would have you relocating to a point of origin somewhere near OMD’s ’Architecture and Moralirty’ set for comparable class.
Venturing from somewhere in Wales, Antonymes sculptures such an exquisite alchemy. Exquisite in a Harold Budd / Charles Atlas / Sylvain Cheuveau / Max Richter type way. There’s something utterly statue-esque and graceful about these fragile and monochrome suites, a chamber like reverence, a hush perhaps that makes you take one step back and just stand in silence jaw agape. These crystal tipped opaques instil all at once a state of moving mournfulness and a hitherto caressing majesty, daubed with the finite craftsmanship of Satie and Debussy - eloquent, enigmatic and enchanting though bruised and lonesome.

Beauty Becomes the Enemy of the Future is the debut full length from Antonymes. A mini album of sparsely arranged piano odes, subtly accompanied by hints of electronics and occasional strings, this seven track mini album will most likely be enjoyed in the comfort and isolation of a bedroom, late at night. Saying that, this is lonely but not unhappy music, in fact it's an amazingly uplifting listen with surprise euphoria hidden around every corner. Compositions begin small and mouse like before swelling up and overwhelming the listener with magically light synth tones and reverberant vocal choir-esque outbursts. One that needs to be experienced first hand.

The first release on Cathedral Transmissions is a stunning mini album by Antonymes. Seven enigmatic, lonesome tracks based around piano and treatments. It really is a beautiful piece of work.

The Whalers Collective - Nantucket (I - VI) (2013)

Supergrupa minimalističke elektronike: Gareth Davis, Ian Hawgood, Félicia Atkinson, Ryo Nakata i Rie Mitsutake. 
Svaki zvuk je od uvoznog porculana.


The Whalers Collective is a sort of supergroup for the world of minimal electronic music. The Collective features Gareth Davis, Ian Hawgood, Félicia Atkinson, Ryo Nakata and Rie Mitsutake. Now, I use this analogy because what makes this album work is that it is the antithesis of what normally defines a supergroup. Normally, the supergroup is too often about gathering a group of folks who have somehow excelled and then letting them compete for space in an attempt to outdo each other. The Whalers Collective is about a group of artists doing their best to create space and carve out room for one another.
And creating space does seem to be a key goal across the album’s six compositions. Gareth Davis’ contribution on clarinet stands out because of the sheer volume of the clarinet but even his work seems designed to get in and out as quickly as possible, often coming at the listener in fits and spurts but never for any extended period of time. In other words, there is a sort of modesty on display here. And the ebb and flow of the compositions always blooms in such a way that when the artists do build something they build as a unit. Even the use of human voice is as undramatic as can be, with voice always creeping its way into the mix rather than boldly proclaiming its presence.
Overall, the music here pulls off a strange balance between breathless and breath-y. Notes come rapidly but then are left to linger. And indeed most of the music feels like it exists as vapour trails – nothing is solid.
The album’s fifth piece takes on a more rushed pace, providing the album’s most chaotic moment. The palette seems to rely on a mix of spastic clarinet, guitar feedback and percussive moments that seem to never settle into anything overtly rhythmic.  The clarinet takes centre stage acting as the guiding force/central character as the narrative drives towards its end. It’s like layer upon layer of fog rolling in and folding on top of each other – it’s still not solid  but it does seem more defined. It’s both chaotic and cathartic. And the final piece seems like a coda – the comedown after the chaos – those layers of fog clearing way.

“Nantucket” is an unflashy record. But that seems to be the point. It takes its time and never feels the need to impose any grand strokes for the sake of making grand strokes. It’s an album that thrives on capturing moments of synergy between the musicians. It’s an interesting record when placed into the context of any of these artists solo careers: rather than simply doing what they often do, they all seemed to strive to leave their comfort zone and carve out some new voice for themselves. It’s a commendable record in that regard and a good listen for these fall days. - Brendan Moore

Ahnnu - World Music (2013)

Vježbanje uzbudljive ravnodušnosti: meditativno zanemarivanje okoline i istovremna kognitivna sofisticiranost u stalno promjenjivom digitalnom okolišu.


“World Music introduces a series of themes which represent various styles and likenesses I’ve adopted in my growth as a sound artist living in the digital age. In respect to my environment, I wanted to create a body of sound-work that is transient in nature. Each track was arranged as separate entities and are holistic in the sense that they are intended to inspire an experience of indifference within a space of perpetual sonic motion. “World Music” describes the continuous sensory shift of both meditative neglect and cognitive sophistication when active within a (digitally) connected culture.” -Ahnnu

In his recent interview with Ad Hoc Magazine, Ahnnu’s Leland Jackson described his new album, World Music, as “the next step creatively.” In a way, the statement frames all of his previous albums together, and in doing so, asks the listener to not only look at the distance between the new album and the previous one, but to make comparisons between everything he has ever released.  And the list is growing. With how broad and far-reaching the sample material is on each album, it is no surprise how clear cut the new album title is. World Music. As the boundaries for sampled source material expands, the obscurity of the sample means less. This isn’t finding that drum break on one of the 500 copies of some rare 70s soul 45. No, these sounds were once familiar before being given the Ahnnu razor-cut treatment, but the result strips the context of every sample in a way that can blend material 60 years apart as if it were recorded in the same studio only yesterday.
There are certain albums in music history that people say span decades worth of a genre’s evolution. Ahnnu achieves the same effect, and it’s through tracks clocking in right at two minutes, if not less. Don’t pass this one up. It’s a subliminal summary of what you are missing when you listen to your music. - Trey Reis

Presentations of diversity seem to be becoming increasingly apt: whatever Frederic Jameson says about postmodernism, the fact is that our cultural world is phenomenally fragmented into thousands of diverging, idiosyncratic pieces. I imagine it like looking at a membrane through a microscope: the endless discovery of parts moving inside parts — individuation ad infinitum. You get a feeling for this constant kind of modification and fertile variety in the tapes of Ahnnu who strings together myriad shards of social and cultural noises, culminating in a spectacular, compelling barrage of the diverse. As curator and persuader of sound, as opposed to (mythical) Creator of music, Ahnnu makes sound tapestries of a socially objective character: here, subjectivity is transfigured from the momentary divine to the capacity to situate oneself acutely in the manifold of personal and social time.
Ahnnu’s new tape, World Music, released on Matthewdavid’s Leaving Records, is composed of 12 discrete musical etudes, all no more than two and a half minutes in length, totaling at just less than 20 minutes. The tracks are parallel in movement: they subject various cultural splinters from the worlds of soul, jazz, and hip-hop to a new, vital electronic force that, while clearly maintaining identities, essentially strips them free of their historical specificity. They are studies in collage, and the processes of cutting, chopping, gluing, immersing, and remolding are all honed down to an impressive aesthetic simplicity and coherency.
World Music continues the functions present on last year’s Couch and pro habitat, but the entire tape has a more tranquil haze, as if compositional processes no longer have to compete for attention because they’ve been inwardly absorbed. Taking the more instrumental moments of pro habitat as its starting point, World Music is beautifully cluttered, with swooning trumpets, soothing vibraphones, a melancholic saxaphone, and ever heedless double bass and drums. Impressively, the sound manipulation seems to follow the contours of the original samples, which are all brimming with some kind of original soulfulness. While Ahnnu channels those sounds in directions that are conceptually unknowable unto themselves, they sound and feel like natural extensions. Both spiritual and technical elements combine to create something that completely transfigures the sound sources, yet lies at their feet with full recognition of their aesthetic, humanitarian wholeness.
The tape’s greatest feat is its conciseness. The appropriation of sounds and styles is executed so fragmentarily and tastefully that you feel as if Ahnnu has condensed music to its most meaningful, essential parts. There’s a certain freedom in that: sounds are liberated from their narrative conventions and brought to a higher, more interactive plane. Take the saxophone lament on “Found”: its identity is simultaneously emancipated and reified by its absorbent, exotic setting of chimes and water-based sounds; similarly, the solo vocal fragment that recurs on “Non2” emerges with a certain space and clarity — i.e., identity — that you doubt was even exposed so well in its original setting. Somehow, despite their brevity, such allusions and references avoid being cursory and tokenistic: it’s no guided tour of personal or collective monuments of the annals of popular culture, but rather a micro study in the inherent distortion that recorded sound and sampling technology engender in the experience of time.
The spiritual and temporal implications of digital production and its appropriation of sounds and styles become prescient precisely because of the ways in which those cultures now reappear. The melange of recordings that find their way onto this tape seems representative of the totalizing capabilities of our age and intellect, while the musical excerpts themselves shimmer ephemerally of something more spiritually grounded than is capable of the frameworks that encapsulate them. The almost careless harmony that emerges out of Ahnnu’s constructions is all the more beautiful for this self-consciousness: rapturous moments are now of a much slighter character, and on World Music, Ahnnu reshapes them to bring together a fleeting reverie on the possibility of all reveries. - 

Ahnnu Talks Dissecting Creative Process, Footwork, and Coffee Mugs

Ahnnu Talks Dissecting Creative Process, Footwork, and Coffee Mugs
Found sound and scattered beat alchemist Ahnnu, aka Leland Jackson, has seen a slow, organic transformation into something that is, for lack of a better description, a trip. Originally known by the moniker Annu (the "h" was added when various fans and radio DJs couldn't pronounce his name right), the Richmond, VA native re-emerged properly in 2011, his former syrupy, early Brainfeeder-indebted tunes reinvented into a hearty binge exercise of tropical, psychedelic noise. Despite his extensive output, it wasn't until his move to Los Angeles and the formidable one-two punch of 2012's Couch and pro habitat that the producer gained traction outside of a small, in-the-know following.
What made those releases so earwormy, especially in the case of pro habitat, was their design-- unfolding as they go, deconstructing how a folk sample can rub up against a mangled breakbeat, or how clips from Juice can be slotted alongside static and the more out-there phases of Steve Reich, all going down sweetly like a glass of chocolate milk. Jackson doesn't "produce" in the way that his L.A. peers do-- he makes blends, layering samples, loops, and other oddities overtop each other. The results can be charming or foreboding, often a mixture of both, but the tunesmith's secret weapon is his live set, which takes his studio methods and lifts them into a chaotic junglegym of sound, sometimes devolving into footwork-- he produces juke-indebted power plays under the alias cakedog-- and at other times dovetailing into new age, shrieking noise, and crushed boogie.
Because of his work ethic, Ahnnu's sound is constantly under renovation. His two tapes for this fall, the astoundingly beautiful World Music (Leaving Records) and Battered Sphinx (NNA Tapes) couldn't be more different in terms of mood and source material. World Music is tight, and often astounding beautiful, while Battered Sphinx is a hard trudge through the abstract. This past June, Jackson and I spoke while balancing ourselves on rickety stools in the Ridgewood, Queens apartment where he was staying at the time, and we've kept in touch over the summer. More than anything, dude just wants to chill and listen to music, explanations and expectations be damned.
Ad Hoc: How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard it before? it’s kind of at this weird crossroads between noise and acoustic, very tropicalia influenced but also very rooted in hip-hop. How do all those different elements combine?
Ahnnu: People ask me to describe my music sometimes, and I don’t really know how to describe it either, but I try to just put everything together. You know, how sometimes when you play music on iTunes and you’re just cleaning the house or something and you put it on shuffle and your entire library-- even though one song may be different than the next, it might be like a completely different genre or whatever. It still completes this mood, I guess, and I try to just look at it like that. It’s just kind of an accumulation of everything I’ve been listening to-- juke hip hop, all that. I’m just trying to remember that in the end I want to enjoy making music, and that I want to put my two cents, my ten cents, my 12 cents in. Hopefully, I can get as close as I can to being honest and being like, this is new to me.
Ad Hoc: What would you say was your biggest influence on World Music?
Ahnnu: I’ve been trying to work with this idea of getting away from drums. That concept was interesting to me and I want to challenge myself with that. I think World Music is maybe an attempt at that and just the curiosity was a big motivation. Just dissecting my process, my creative process, ‘cause I’ve been working with Fruity Loops for a long time. The thing is, after you work the same way for so many years you want to trick yourself. I think World Music was kind of the next step creatively.
Ad Hoc: Moving away from World Music, How did Battered Sphinx come about?
Ahnnu: NNA initially contacted me through e-mail and approached me with the idea of releasing a project with them. I've been a fan and listener of NNA's catalog and taste for a while now, so their consideration for even contacting me was a great feeling. I'm definitely humbled to be involved with a group of artists and thinkers as progressive and thoughtful as NNA.
Ad Hoc: What's the fundamental difference between the vibe of World Music and Battered Sphinx?
Ahnnu: I think a lot of these differences I would leave to the listener to dissect. Both releases were made with a conscious decision to depart in a way from the expectation of a traditional beat release, in that I wanted to incorporate more variety of tastes. World Music especially was conceived with this idea; my motivation was to make the listening experience as flexible as possible and in constant change. I did keep the length of tracks relatively short similar to beat tapes, maybe even shorter. Again, this was done to draw emphasis on the persistence of movement in World Music. In contrast, I wanted to keep Batthered Sphinx as minimal as possible without completely reducing my love for rhythm and groove. A lot of Battered Sphinx was less conceptual, more about the mechanics of each track. I wanted to practice more techniques of deduction during the production of Battered Sphinx, which was really fun. I actually was going back and forth between producing footwork, which called for a completely different frame of mind-- definitely bridged a lot of production ideas for me. In retrospect, that may have affected my choice in withholding from too much percussion in many of the tracks, especially on Battered Sphinx.
Ad Hoc: How many of those tracks are straight loops and how many of them are blends of all these different things?
Ahnnu: It’s both. It’s kind of just loops and then I’ll resample myself a lot—it’s like loops and then a loop again and again and then I’ve blurred it into another loop. It’s a lot of layering, but I try to get away from too much chaos as far as composition.
Ad Hoc: What was a big seminal recording for you?
Ahnnu: Probably something like Coma the Flax. I kind of felt embarrassed after putting it up online, but it just felt like I had to do that. In my headphones, while I was making it, I liked making it, and I thought that it would just lay around in my hard drive and not go anywhere. Then I thought that would be like a crime, you know what I mean? I wanted to take that risk and be like, is it okay? I guess it was just kind of a leap for me, but people seemed to like it, so that’s cool. I’m surprised.
Ad Hoc: Have you ever wondered about how much more avant-garde and heady your stuff is compared to normal “beat music”? 
Ahnnu: Yeah, sometimes I do. I think some people expect a certain sound, and when people invite me to play and I'm going through the show, I wonder if they’re like, “Oh, I should have never contacted that dude, he’s fucking up!” But nah, people seem to like enjoy it, at least the people that talk to me. I’m just trying to have fun, and I figure there’s no rules, so I just try to leave room for me to have fun and try to be honest at the same time about what I’m playing. For example, when I was in a band--it was weird going to shows and playing the same songs over and over again. It kind of took the taste away from it. I remember how that felt, so I kind of try to leave room for fun somewhere.
Ad Hoc: On the same note, is that how Cakedog came about?
Ahnnu: Totally. Cakedog was just having fun, making what I want to hear. Footwork’s just another influence that I’m into right now. I’m just documenting it for myself.
Ad Hoc: What drew you towards footwork?
Ahnnu: I’m still just hugely mesmerized by it. I’ve always liked the way a lot of the juke producers, at least the ones that I listen to, they have a minimalism and there’s still soul. It’s very open: sometimes, I’ll hear beats that are a little more dark and others are a little more focal, but the rhythm is always relentless everywhere. It’s hardcore, but it’s cool.

Ad Hoc: What future plans do you have as far as collaborations, LPs?
Ahnnu: Right now I’m working on a couple collab projects. A lot of it is really free-form. It’s more of just, “Hey, let’s get together and put sounds together and see what happens.” Knxwledge and I are working on a new project, Jared Fowler and I are communicating online on combining sounds, and I really wanna work with Chino [Diamond Hearted Black Boy].
Ad Hoc: What’s it like living hanging with Glen Boothe, aka Knxwledge?
Ahnnu: He’s awesome. Glen’s the dude-- he’s living the dream. I definitely look up to him as a person, as an artist. Especially because when I first moved to Los Angeles, I did not have any type of lead on a job or anything, and Glen meanwhile was just opening up emails, just like stacking. It was kind of like a reminder, especially during my first year there. You can come out to L.A. and really get it in if you have the will, and he’s definitely an inspiration. It was cool waking up and he’s working and it was just like, “Wow.” He’s definitely a producer I look up to.
Ad Hoc: Do you actually have releases planned ahead of time or are all the records put together when you're commissioned for one?
Ahnnu: It really depends on the project. I do always go back to older folders of music, to kind of excavate the tracks that had no home at the time when they were made. World Music includes tracks I made in late 2012, but also tracks I made weeks before I sent it out to Matthew. Battered Sphinx was composed and taken apart many times during production, but was mainly made after NNA approached me with the idea of release. In both cases, I was encouraged to take my time with the music, and in doing so, I was inspired to take creative freedoms. It was refreshing to stretch out again with the support of labels who respected and appreciated deep sound.
Ad Hoc: Do you wish there was more free-form experimentation within the beat scene?

Ahnnu: Depends. I just need more in the music I make. With beat music, that shit’s a huge influence on me when other people make it. When I make it myself, I have all these other influences coming into play that I can’t really ignore. I mean, free-form shit is kinda cool too. I fuck with it all. I just want to keep putting out material, get some more CDs and tapes out there, and hopefully some coffee mugs.

četvrtak, 26. rujna 2013.

Peter Turchin - Cliodynamics

Kliodinamika istražuje povijest matematičkim modelima, otkrivajući obrasce koji objašnjavaju zašto se nešto dogodilo ili će se dogoditi u budućnosti. Dva primjera: nastanak velikih zajednica, gradova, država i carstava nije potaknuo razvoj zemljoradnje, kako se dosad mislilo, nego su glavni čimbenik bili ratovi. A što se tiče budućnosti, nestašica hrane uzrkovat će oko 2020. erupciju nemira, sukoba i klanja.


I’d actually recommend reading journal articles I cite before reading my article:
Dynamics of political instability in the United States, 1780–2010 by Peter Turchin

The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East by Marco Lagi, Karla Z. Bertrand and Yaneer Bar-Yam.

Data Geeks Say War, Not Agriculture, Spawned Complex Societies

By Klint Finley

Peter Turchin Photo: Peter Turchin

It seems like data is changing everything we do.
Data analysis has transformed biological research over the past decade. It has reinvented the business world by way of “big data” software platforms along the lines of Hadoop, an open source tool originally built by Yahoo and Facebook. It’s even changing historical studies, thanks to a movement called Cliodynamics.
Cliodynamics is a field of study created by Peter Turchin in the early 2000s. The idea is to use data as a means of predicting the future, but also as a way of testing theories about what happened in the past. You build a model that seeks to explain history, and then you test this model using real historical data.
The movement’s latest aim is to analyze the origins of complex societies. In a paper published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Turchin and a trans-disciplinary team from the University of Connecticut, University of Exeter, and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis attempt to overturn the long standing belief that large-scale states are the product of agriculture.
Early humans were hunter-gatherers. They had relatively simple social structures, which consisted of perhaps a few dozen people, all of whom knew each other, and they didn’t engage in complex cooperative tasks. But eventually, complex societies evolved — complete with governments, armies, agriculture, education, and other large scale, cooperative projects. With their paper, Turchin and his collaborators analyzed the spread of the social norms that allowed societies to expand across millions of people.
“You cannot have a large state without bureaucrats, but bureaucrats are expensive. You have to pay them,” he says. “So the big question is how do complex societies evolve when they are so expensive?”
The standard theory, which Turchin calls the “bottom up” theory, is that humans invented agriculture around 10,000 years ago, providing resource surpluses that freed people up for other ventures. But what Turchin and his team have found is that the bottom-up theory is wrong, or at least incomplete. “Competitions between societies, which historically took the form of warfare, drive the evolution of complex societies,” he says.
To test the two competing theories, Turchin and company designed two mathematical models for predicting the spread of complex societies. One based only on agriculture, ecology and geography. The other included those three factors, plus warfare. Then, they used data from historical atlases to determine whether these models matched up with the way the different states and empires actually evolved.
The model that included warfare predicted about 65 percent of the historical variance, while the agricultural model explained only about 16 percent, suggesting that warfare was more important in the spread of social norms that lead to complex societies.
Turchin admits that the model is far from perfect — it includes no population data, for example — but for the most part, it was able to predict the spread of large-scale states between 1,500 BC to 1,500 AD. He also notes that whether or not simple societies were warlike is hugely controversial, but says that by the time their models start, warfare was widespread. “Proximate causes for warfare are numerous: competition for resources (mainly territory), revenge and strategic consideration (attack your enemy before they are ready to attack you),” he says.
He adds, however, that agriculture is also a part of how complex societies evolve, and he and his team are already working on their next research project, which will involve crop yield data. Economic and ideological competition, he says, can help mold societies too. For example, the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.
“Back in the 1920s in the United States, we had pretty naked capitalism. Workers were expected to get paid whatever they could get,” he says. “But then the Soviet Union came on the scene, and suggested that workers should get paid more.”
He says that during the original “Red Scare” in the 20′s, corporations — fearing a large scale shift to communism in the U.S. — voluntarily began paying higher wages and implementing more social programs, such as pensions. But a few decades later, economic competition forced Russia to allow more free trade and democracy.
But the biggest driver? War.- www.wired.com/

Mathematicians Predict the Future With Data From the Past

By Klint Finley

In Isaac Asimov’s classic science fiction saga Foundation, mathematics professor Hari Seldon predicts the future using what he calls psychohistory. Drawing on mathematical models that describe what happened in the past, he anticipates what will happen next, including the fall of the Galactic Empire.
That may seem like fanciful stuff. But Peter Turchin is turning himself into a real-life Hari Seldon — and he’s not alone.
Turchin — a professor at the University of Connecticut — is the driving force behind a field called “cliodynamics,” where scientists and mathematicians analyze history in the hopes of finding patterns they can then use to predict the future. It’s named after Clio, the Greek muse of history.
These academics have the same goals as other historians — “We start with questions that historians have asked for all of history,” Turchin says. “For example: Why do civilizations collapse?” — but they seek to answer these questions quite differently. They use math rather than mere language, and according to Turchin, the prognosis isn’t that far removed from the empire-crushing predictions laid down by Hari Seldon in the Foundation saga. Unless something changes, he says, we’re due for a wave of widespread violence in about 2020, including riots and terrorism.
‘We start with questions that historians have asked for all of history. For example: Why do civilizations collapse?’
— Peter Turchin
This burgeoning field is part of a much larger effort to gain more insight into our world through the massive amounts of digital data that are now available via the internet — a movement that ranges from Google’s search engine to the data science contests run by San Francisco startup Kaggle. The difference is that cliodynamics uses data from the distant past. Turgin and his cohorts mine historical documents that have only recently come online.
Turchin didn’t begin as a historian. His original area of interest was ecosystem dynamics, but he soon decided that many of the interesting problems had already been solved. So he started looking for ways of applying mathematics to other fields. “The only way to do science is to make predictions and then testing them with data,” Turchin says. Many other social sciences — including sociology, economics, and even anthropology — had already been revolutionized by mathematics. But historians had resisted quantification.
He founded the movement in the late ’90s, and since then, many more have joined in. In 2010, this growing community of researchers started the peer-reviewed publication Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History.
The basic idea is nothing new. Thinkers from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel to Oswald Spengler to Leo Tolstoy tried to develop cyclic theories of history that could also predict the future. Austrian philosopher Karl Popper critiqued this notion in his The Poverty of Historicism in 1957. And the ’60s spawned a movement called cliometrics. But the approach eventually fell out of favor. “General theories of history are not accepted, in my opinion, for good reason,” says Turchin. And yet he followed cliometrics with cliodynamics. The new field, you see, has an edge that predecessors didn’t.
It’s not the mathematics. Turchin says his methods aren’t very complex. He’s using common statistical techniques like spectrum analysis — “I used much more sophisticated statistical methods in ecology,” he says. And it’s not “big data” tools. The data sets he’s using aren’t all that big. He can analyze them using ordinary statistical software. But he couldn’t have built these models even a few decades ago because historians and archivists have only recently started digitizing newspapers and public records from throughout history and putting them online. That gives cliodynamics the opportunity to quantify what has happened in the past — and make predictions based on that data.
In the simplest of terms, Turchin and his colleagues will build a mathematical model using one data set and then test that model against other historical data sets they’re unfamiliar with. That way, they can see if the model holds. This isn’t exactly the psychohistory described by Isaac Asimov. “For the most part, we don’t predict the future. It’s too far. We can’t wait 200 years to see if something’s right,” Turchin says. “I’m not a prophet.” But cliodynamics moves in that direction — and it’s not science fiction. Though traditional historians are often wary of the practice, others very much see the value.
“It’s very important to do. It should force traditional historians to respond,” says Yale historian Joseph Manning. “Most people in my field just publish documents and don’t go behind them.”

Peter Turchin’s graph describes the regular waves of violence — including riots and terrorism — that characterize U.S. history. Image: Peter Turchin

Waves of Violence
What Turchin and his colleagues have found is a pattern of social instability. It applies to all agrarian states for which records are available, including Ancient Rome, Dynastic China, Medieval England, France, Russia, and, yes, the United States. Basically, the data shows 100 year waves of instability, and superimposed on each wave — which Turchin calls the “Secular Cycle” — there’s typically an additional 50-year cycle of widespread political violence. The 50-year cycles aren’t universal — they don’t appear in China, for instance. But they do appear in the United States.
The 100-year Secular Cycles, Turchin believes, are caused by longer-term demographic trends. They occur when a population grows beyond its capacity to be productive, resulting in falling wages, a disproportionately large number of young people in the population, and increased state spending deficits. But there’s a more important factor, one that better predicts instability than population growth. Turchin calls it “elite overproduction.” This refers to a growing class of elites who are competing for a limited number of elite positions, such as political appointments. These conflicts, Turchin says, can destabilize the state.
Many of these issues persist in industrial societies. Although population growth is no longer likely to result in mass starvation, it can push the supply of labor beyond demand, leading to increased unemployment.
Turchin takes pains to emphasize that the cycles are not the result of iron-clad rules of history, but of feedback loops — just like in ecology
Then you have the 50-year cycles of violence. Turchin describes these as the building up and then the release of pressure. Each time, social inequality creeps up over the decades, then reaches a breaking point. Reforms are made, but over time, those reforms are reversed, leading back to a state of increasing social inequality. The graph above shows how regular these spikes are — though there’s one missing in the early 19th century, which Turchin attributes to the relative prosperity that characterized the time.
He also notes that the severity of the spikes can vary depending on how governments respond to the problem. Turchin says that the United States was in a pre-revolutionary state in the 1910s, but there was a steep drop-off in violence after the 1920s because of the progressive era. The governing class made decisions to reign in corporations and allowed workers to air grievances. These policies reduced the pressure, he says, and prevented revolution. The United Kingdom was also able to avoid revolution through reforms in the 19th century, according to Turchin. But the most common way for these things to resolve themselves is through violence.
Turchin takes pains to emphasize that the cycles are not the result of iron-clad rules of history, but of feedback loops — just like in ecology. “In a predator-prey cycle, such as mice and weasels or hares and lynx, the reason why populations go through periodic booms and busts has nothing to do with any external clocks,” he writes. “As mice become abundant, weasels breed like crazy and multiply. Then they eat down most of the mice and starve to death themselves, at which point the few surviving mice begin breeding like crazy and the cycle repeats.”
There are competing theories as well. A group of researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute — who practice a discipline called econophysics — have built their own model of political violence and concluded that one simple variable is sufficient to predict instability: food prices. In a paper titled “The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East,” they explain that although many other grievances may be aired once the violence begins, the cost of food is the primary trigger. They make a similarly grim prediction: large-scale riots over food, beginning around October of this year.
Into the Dark Archives
Much has been made of machine learning algorithms and software such as Hadoop and how they’re used to mine the enormous amounts of data generated by the average internet user, but cliodynamics shows that we can find just as much value in “dark archives” — the mounds of non-digitized records that we don’t realize contain useful data. Quantitative biologist Samuel Arbesman calls this “long data,” and he urges the world to take a closer look.
Arbesman says that many traditional historians are beginning to embrace Turchin’s practices, opening up opportunities for academics in the humanities to collaborate with mathematicians and economists. But he adds that academics aren’t the only ones who can benefit from dark archives brought online. Even businesses, he says, can mine such data.
Some businesses, explains says, have been around for hundreds of years, changing with the times. IBM was founded in 1911 and originally sold tabulating machines. Nintendo started out in 1889 as as a playing card company. The construction company Kongō Gumi existed for over 1,400 years.
Their future, he says, can benefit from their past.- www.wired.com/

Turchin's blog:

Can Math Explain History? 

One of the greatest puzzles of social science is how human societies evolved from small groups of relatives and friends to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today.
demonstrationA peace demonstration. Today we live in huge societies of strangers, who nevertheless are capable of coming together for cooperative purposes
Ten thousand years ago everybody lived in a village. Strangers were rare, and most of them were enemies. Then the first hierarchically organized societies appeared – chiefdoms, simple and complex. Around 5,000 years ago the first states evolved and 2,500 years ago they transformed themselves into huge multiethnic empires, governing tens of millions of people.
How can we explain the rise of such large-scale societies? Archaeologists, sociologists, and political scientists proposed a multitude of theories. But the vast majority of them can be boiled down to just two general mechanisms.
Most anthropologists and archaeologists think that the driving force has been the invention of agriculture. It made possible high population densities as well as surpluses that could be appropriated by newly emerging ruling elites. In a way, this theory suggests that once agriculture created sufficient resources for the evolution of complex societies, such societies inevitably evolved.
A different theoretical perspective, one based on cultural evolution and multilevel selection theory, disagrees. Yes, intensive agriculture is a necessary condition for the evolution of complex societies. But it is not enough. Institutions of complex societies, such as bureaucracies, organized religion, and constraints on the ruling elites, which induce them to promote common good, are all costly. How can they evolve in spite of such costs? The theory of cultural multilevel selection says that this evolution is only possible when societies compete against each other, so that those that do not have the right institutions fail. Costly institutions of complex societies are spread because societies that have them destroy societies without them.
This may sound quite abstract, but it is actually possible to take this general theory and build a specific and detailed model that predicts where and when complex large-scale societies should arise, and how they spread during the Ancient and Medieval eras of human history. This is what we have done in a paper that was published today in the prestigious journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The trick is to focus on factors that intensify intersocietal competition, which until very recently meant military competition.
In other words, warfare.
And between 1500 BC and 1500 AD the intensity of military competition in the Old World maps extremely well on the spread of military technologies based on warhorses. So we built a model around this factor, and it did an incredibly good job of predicting when and where large empires arose in Eurasia and Africa.
Here’s a press release that explains our model, written by Catherine Crawley of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.
Math explains history: Simulation accurately captures the evolution of ancient complex societies
The question of how human societies evolve from small groups to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today has been answered mathematically, accurately matching the historical record on the emergence of complex states in the ancient world.
Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to new research from a trans-disciplinary team at the University of Connecticut, University of Exeter, and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) that appears this week as an open-access article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study’s cultural evolutionary model predicts where and when the largest-scale complex societies arose in human history.
Simulated within a realistic landscape of the Afro-Eurasian landmass during 1,500 BC to 1,500 AD, the mathematical model was tested against the historical record. During the time period, horse-related military innovations, such as chariots and cavalry, dominated warfare within Afro-Eurasia. Geography also mattered, as nomads living in the Eurasian Steppe influenced nearby agrarian societies, thereby spreading intense forms of offensive warfare out from the steppe belt. On the other hand, rugged terrain inhibited offensive warfare.
The study focuses on the interaction of ecology and geography as well as the spread of military innovations and predicts that selection for ultra-social institutions that allow for cooperation in huge groups of genetically unrelated individuals and prevent large-scale complex states from splitting apart, is greater where warfare is more intense.
While existing theories on why there is so much variation in the ability of different human populations to construct viable states are usually formulated verbally, by contrast, the authors’ work leads to sharply defined quantitative predictions, which can be tested empirically.
The model-predicted spread of large-scale societies was very similar to the observed one; the model was able to explain two-thirds of the variation in determining the rise of large-scale societies.
“What’s so exciting about this area of research is that instead of just telling stories or describing what occurred, we can now explain general historical patterns with quantitative accuracy. Explaining historical events helps us better understand the present, and ultimately may help us  predict the future,” said the study’s co-author Sergey Gavrilets, NIMBioS director for scientific activities.
Citation: Turchin P, Currie T, Turner E, Gavrilets S. 2013. War, space, and the evolution of Old World complex societies. PNAS.

Watch the movie by co-author Tom Currie showing model-predicted dynamics and actual historical data side by side.

Sticking My Neck Out

Posted on August 31, 2013 by

When 15 years ago I started working within the scientific discipline that eventually became Cliodynamics, my initial plan was to concentrate entirely on past societies. Of course, history doesn’t end in, say, 1800. But there are dangers in pushing a historical analysis all the way to the present day. First, we are too close to the societies we live in. It’s hard to imagine, for example, that the American empire might collapse tomorrow. I am not saying it will, but I imagine ancient Romans also did not think that the Roman Empire would collapse around their ears. Yet it did. In any case, it is hard to be a dispassionate analyst when you are analyzing something that will have a huge effect on your personal life.
The second danger is politics. Few people really care about why the Roman Empire collapsed. But any conclusions you reach about our own society are certain to tick off either conservatives, or liberals (and sometimes both).
So for many years I went happily refining my ideas, models, and empirical analyses of pre-industrial societies. But when I started giving talks about the decline and collapse of historical empires, I would almost invariably be asked, “so where are we?”
Eventually, I broke down and started a project on the cliodynamics of the American republic, beginning with its inception around 1780 and to the present day.
This project took more years than I thought. Partly it was for a good reason – there are much, much more data on America, even for the earlier historical periods than I was used to when I worked on long-term cycles (‘secular cycles’) in pre-industrial England, France, Russia, and Rome.
But also I have been mindful of how the results would be interpreted, so I wanted to make sure that I’d do the best job I can. I am not near that point, by any means, but the project has reached the stage where I need feedback to move forward.
Yesterday I posted on my Cliodynamics site a draft which will eventually be developed into a book describing the results. I welcome comments and suggestions on all aspects of it.
A fair warning: it’s not going to be a popular book. On the contrary, the text is very dense and there are lots of graphs and tables (and equations). This draft also needs a lot of work. But even after the book is finished, it will not be intended for most readers of this blog. Think of it as the foundations on which I will later base more popular articles or, perhaps, a book.
sticking-my-neck-out-illustration-by-baggelboy-360x540Illustration by Baggelboy. Source
Actually, I am planning to blog about some of the most striking findings in near future, so stay tuned.
But let me talk briefly about one general result right away. Things are changing in America, and there is a lot of discussion of various trends. Some commentators talk about the growing inequality and the hollowing out of the middle class. Others wonder why political polarization is reaching extreme levels and why the national government is becoming increasingly dysfunctional. Yet others debate the causes of waning social capital and cooperation.
Usually all these, and many other trends (why fewer young adults marry? Why is the distribution of law school graduates’ salaries bimodal – yes, it is!) are discussed in isolation from each other. Or, perhaps, some of them are connected, but in a cursory way. This will sound hubristic, but the structural-demographic model (the theoretical engine driving the American project) says these trends are not developing separately from each other. They are, rather, all parts of the dynamical system that is our society. There are deep, subterranean processes that explain these trends. They also explain why the trends all date from roughly the 1970s. Much of the book is devoted to tracing out these deep interconnections.
But enough of this introduction, and I am looking forward to exploring some of these interconnections in future blogs.
Again, all comments and suggestions are welcome (this is why I am posting this unfinished product, after all). You can leave comments here on the SEF or send me an e-mail.
PDF of the book draft here
Notes on the Margin: I will be off the grid for several days, because my wife and I are moving to Denmark where I took a visiting professorship at Aarhus University. So there will be a short break from blogging while we are making the transition and getting set up there.

Ibn Khaldun on the Rise and Decline of Corporate Empires

Posted on August 26, 2013 by

Paul Krugman has written two blogs about Ibn Khaldun this weekend (and also said some kind words about my research). Readers of this blog know that I hold Ibn Khaldun in great esteem (see this blog, for example).
Ibn Khaldun’s greatest contribution is the development of a theory of collective solidarity/social cooperation, for which he uses the Arabic term `asabiyyah (which I usually simplify to asabiya). In this he is very different from such great European thinkers as Machiavelli, Hobbs, Hume, and Adam Smith, whose great contributions eventually led to the Rational Choice Theory (and the dead end of homo economicus in its most primitive form). Yes, I know that those political philosophers were much more subtle than they are often given credit for; yet the fact is that by the second half of the twentieth century a very flawed model of human nature reigned supreme in economics. Economists and many other social scientists seemingly took to heart David Hume’s famous pronouncement:
Political writers established it as a maxim, that, in contriving any system of government … every man ought to be supposed to be a knave and to have no other end, in all his actions, than his private interest.
This is very wrong. It is, in fact, impossible to build a working society if all its members are selfish rational agents (or “knaves” in Hume’s wonderful characterization). Selfish agents will not cohere in a functional society – this I believe can be elevated to the First Law of Sociology.
Ibn Khaldun knew this and he devoted his book to developing a theory of the origins of social cooperation/asabiya, and mechanisms responsible for its loss. I won’t repeat myself here, because I devoted a big chunk of my popular book War and Peace and War to discussing Ibn Khaldun’s theory. In other writings I have modeled the dynamics of asabiya waxing and waning, loosely based on the ideas of Ibn Khaldun.
My models were focused on understanding the rise and fall of states and empires. What is interesting is that a very similar kind of model can be developed for the rise and fall of business firms. (In particular, Rob Axtell, with whom I have periodically interacted in Santa Fe and elsewhere, developed such models that are very similar in spirit to my models on political cycles). In fact, I believe Paul Krugman is completely right in bringing up Ibn Khaldun when thinking about the decline of Microsoft. However, I would develop this idea a bit further.
Both states and corporations are, at some fundamental level, cooperative enterprises. Yes, political elites and corporate managers are motivated by personal gain, power, status, and prestige. And that even can be the majority of their motivations. But in addition there has to be something else, at least some of these elites (whether political or economic) some of the time must behave in a cooperative prosocial manner, that is, putting the common interest of their state or corporation above their private interests. When they stop doing that, states crumble and corporations go bankrupt.
So here is a simple model that I have in mind for explaining the rise and fall of mighty corporations, which is heavily influenced by the ideas of Ibn Khaldun, Rob Axtell, and Pete Richerson (on institutions) and mine own on the empires. (Also, Rob’s model, which he has published, is well worth checking out).
In the beginning we start with small groups of entrepreneurs randomly thrown together by chance. The vast majority of these incipient firms fail. Most of these groups will contain uncooperative selfish knaves. All such groups will fail with 100% probability; only groups consisting entirely of cooperators have a chance. However, the majority of such potentially cooperative groups will still fail because they will be unable to hit upon the right combination of social norms and institutions to enable them to cooperate effectively. As an example, people coming from different ethnic backgrounds often find it difficult to concert a cooperative action, simply because different cultures evolved different ways of cooperating, and these may not work well when thrown together.
In the next step, the majority of even those groups that consist of cooperators and have acquired effective cooperative institutions will fail – because they don’t have the right product, or perhaps because they are simply unlucky. But at least they have a chance, whereas groups with knaves and lacking the right institutions have no chance at all.
This is a typical cultural evolution scenario. At this stage we have a lot of variation, with all kinds of incipient firms churned out, and a selection mechanism that weeds the ones that don’t cut the mustard. This is completely analogous to the Ibn Khaldun situation of the stateless ‘desert’ where groups that can’t cooperate together in defense (and predation on other groups!) are rapidly eliminated.
Only those Bedouin groups that wield a lot of asabiya survive and thrive in the competitive desert. Analogously, only those start-ups that have a lot of – well, asabiya – survive and thrive in the competitive markets.
So that’s how high asabiya firms are generated. What happens next? Next they need to expand without losing asabiya. That means that they need to be very picky about accepting new members (keep those knaves out) and have another set of institutions that would allow them to assimilate newbies to the firm’s social norms of cooperation. If they surmount this challenge, they will expand and become a huge corporation.
But eventually the rot sets in. More and more knaves weasel their way in. The institutions that sustained cooperation begin to be undermined by the selfish behavior of freeriders. Moralistic cooperators, in response, withdraw their cooperation, because they don’t want to be taken advantage of. Prosocial founders and early joiners leave the company and join more cooperative ones, or start new businesses.
Eventually knaves reign and the company is really moribund. However, it’s big and has a lot of inertia and so it survives – for a while. Then, however, a particularly greedy set of executives, or a market downturn, exposes its inherent weakness and the corporation goes under. You can substitute ‘executives’ with the ‘elites’ and ‘corporation’ with ‘empire’ and you have the gist of my theory of why empires collapse (however, the time scale on which firms rise and fall is much faster than that for empires).
And that’s how I see the fall and decline of imperial corporations, when looked though the lens of Ibn Khaldun’s theory. I won’t name names, but I am sure we all can think of a number of examples of such moribund corporations.

An Imperfect Time Machine

Posted on August 20, 2013 by

In the previous blog, I asked why some nations are wealthy, stable, and happy, and others are not. Many theories have tried to provide an answer to this question. How do we decide which of the competing theories is true? So far, economists have not done a compelling job addressing this issue.
Let’s take Why Nations Fail, one of the best recent books by economists (or, rather, by an economist Daron Acemoglu and a political scientist James Robinson) that tackles this question. In his review in Cliodynamics Tom Currie notes that there are “two problems with A&R’s analysis as it currently stands: 1) The descriptive, case study approach adopted here makes the systematic appraisal of alternative hypotheses difficult, 2) The focus on historical contingency of the development of certain types of institutions overlooks or down-plays more general patterns about where and when these institutions have tended to develop.”
I think this criticism is fair. However, it is equally true that we simply lack appropriate data to test rival theories about the deep roots of economic development. Consider another article in the current issue of Cliodynamics, “Was Wealth Really Determined in 8000 BCE, 1000 BCE, 0 CE, or Even 1500 CE?” by William Thompson and Kentaro Sakuwa.
As these authors point out, previous empirical analyses have been plagued by a variety of problems. One is the use of modern states as geographical units, even though they may have little relation to historically appropriate units of analysis. Think of the USSR, for example – a very inconvenient unit of analysis for any historical period before 1700, when the Russian Empire emerged as a Great Power.
Another problem is how to deal with time. Some authors look at what was the situation 10,000 years ago, at the dawn of agriculture. From there they jump to 1500 BC (the Bronze Age), then to 1 AD (a pretty arbitrary date), to 1500 AD (the ‘dawn of modernity’), and finally to the present. Other analyses use different time jumps.
It’s like we have a faulty time machine. Ideally we’d like to jump back in time to the beginning of things, and then trace how they developed. So, for example, we would jump to the Fertile Crescent 10,000 years ago, and then travel forward in one century leaps, recording how everything changes. It would be like Sid Meyer’s game of Civilization, except for real. “Oh, they invented Monotheism”. “Aha, now they have Bureaucracy.”
Instead of this, eminently sensible approach, we have to endure jumps of random duration that land us in periods that may not be of critical importance to the understanding of questions we want to answer. And we pass over a lot of history between the jumps (from 8,000 BC to 1500 BC? Weren’t there a lot of interesting developments in between that we’d like to see?).
OK, enough of this analogy. We don’t have a time machine, so much the worse.
Except that we do, an imperfect and, at times, an exasperating version, but it does allow us to peek back in the past. Thousands of historians and archaeologists collectively can tell us a lot about the past – not everything, but if we could somehow put all their knowledge together, it would provide a very rich historical tapestry, which, I am sure, would allow us to reject a lot of theories – and build better, new and improved ones.
This is what’s most galling – the data that we need to test theories are there. Some of it is scattered over a multitude of published and unpublished articles. But most simply resides in the brains of historians or archaeologists specializing on particular regions and epochs. The only way to make these data useful (for a systematic testing of theories, that is) is to translate/transcribe them from human brains onto electronic, computer-readable media.
Can Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of knowledge and scribing, help us to transcribe what is known about human history onto electronic media? Source
As I wrote in previous blogs (e.g., here), one of my current (and probably the most important) projects is Seshat: Global History Databank. So today I cannot answer the questions with which I started this blog. But give us a few years. Once we can trace how agricultural innovations and new ways of organizing polity, society, and economy arose and spread, we will be able to have a much better idea why some nations are rich, and others are poor.

The Deep Roots of Economic Development

Posted on August 15, 2013 by
Economics lately, since the ‘Great Recession’, has been getting a lot of beating. So it’s not unusual nowadays to see titles such as “Is Economics Dead?” or “The Death of Economics.”
I am not one to join in this Economics-bashing. Yes, there are lots of problems – much sterile mathematical theory in Economics, an over-reliance on equilibrium models, and a tendency to treat people as ‘homo economicuses’ (yes, I know it should be something like homines oeconomici, but we are not purists here). On the other hand, Economics was the first social science to become thoroughly mathematized. Also, in the last decade or two Economics has been reinventing itself. One only needs to point to Behavioral Economics and to Evolutionary Economics (in fact, I am going to an Evolutionary Economics conference in September – stay tuned for a report to appear on this blog).
These developments are mostly taking place within the academic science, however, and have not yet impressed themselves on popular consciousness. For example,  Freakonomics, probably the most popular recent book about Economics, stays resolutely within the classical paradigm.
A standard approach that treats people as homines oeconomici perhaps can be useful in asking some questions, but the realm of application is a very limited one.
For example, Freakonomics promises to answer such questions as:
Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? (from the blurb on the Amazon)
My response is, who cares? Is this really the “hidden side of everything”? Why don’t you explain to me why some nations are rich and some are poor? And, even more pressingly, why some rich nations suddenly become poorer, and vice versa? How can we get out of the economic doldrums we have been stuck in for the last few years? For that matter, how can Japan, or southern Europe (which are in much worse shape) get out from the hole they are currently in? Freakonomics does not even attempt to answer such questions – because if you are stuck with the traditional approach, you can’t.
Understanding economic growth is, of course, the Holy Grail of Economics. Except you can’t do it with a purely economic approach – this has become quite clear in the last few years. You need other social sciences and, perhaps, even biological ones (especially if some current claims that there is a genetic component to economic development are true, something I am rather skeptical of). I would argue that you need something like Cliodynamics to answer this question. In particular, because evidence accumulates that modern economic development has deep historical roots.
There is no question that today there is a staggering degree of variation in economic performance and effectiveness of governance among nations. Understanding the causes of these disparities is one of the greatest intellectual puzzles in the social sciences, and one of the most pressing problems for economic policy.
We have pretty good idea of who are the winners and who are the losers (and I am not just talking about GDP per capita; human quality of life is a much more multidimensional quantity than that). But why are some nations wealthy, happy, and politically stable, while others are poor, miserable, and in the state of constant civil war? That is very much in dispute.
In answering this question, at first economists emphasized capital accumulation and technological progress; then, personal incentives and specific policies. In more recent years, the attention has moved to the institutional framework. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, for example, have been arguing that economic growth can only be made possible by developing inclusive institutions enabling broad sections of the population to participate in economic and political activities (see a review of their book, Why Nations Fail, by Tom Currie in the last issue of Cliodynamics).
Others think that there is a direct effect of geography on economic growth, focusing on such mechanisms as disease burdens. For example, Jeffrey Sachs and co-authors have pointed to a striking correlation between malaria and poverty. Another ‘geographic determinist’ (unlike most, I don’t think that this is a pejorative term), Jared Diamond, thinks that biogeographic conditions affect current wealth indirectly. The more time has elapsed since the agricultural revolution in a region, the wealthier the region is likely to be.
On the other hand, economists, such as Enrico Spolaore and Romain Wacziarg, make a strong case that it is not the geographic region that is of key importance. Rather, it is the ancestral composition of current populations. An even more extreme idea is the one by Oded Galor and Quamrul Ashraf, who recently concluded that countries with intermediate levels of genetic diversity, such as the United States, have the most productive economies (see this News Feature in Nature).
So we have lots of explanations of why some nations are rich and others poor. They invoke a variety of factors: economic, sociological, geographical, and even genetic. How do we decide which of the competing theories is true?


Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History

‘Cliodynamics’ is a transdisciplinary area of research integrating historical macrosociology, economic history/cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History is an international peer-reviewed web-based/free-access journal that will publish original articles advancing the state of theoretical knowledge in this discipline. ‘Theory’ in the broadest sense includes general principles that explain the functioning and dynamics of historical societies and models, usually formulated as mathematical equations or computer algorithms. It also has empirical content that deals with discovering general empirical patterns, determining empirical adequacy of key assumptions made by models, and testing theoretical predictions with the data from actual historical societies. A mature, or ‘developed theory,’ thus, integrates models with data; the main goal of Cliodynamics is to facilitate progress towards such theory in history.
Submission of both empirical and modeling articles is encouraged. We are particularly interested in articles that combine model development with empirical tests. However, the journal will also publish empirical papers that make explicit connections to general theories and modeling papers that are motivated by empirically observed patterns. Additionally, we publish databases (especially those focusing on time-series data) that can serve as testbeds for theories, methodological articles relevant to the issues described above, and critical commentaries on articles published in the journal and on general issues in theoretical and quantitative history.
Most accepted manuscripts are published as articles (12,000 words or less). In addition, we will consider shorter reports (a maximum of 3,000 words and four figures or tables). Occasionally we publish forum articles (12,000 words or less) reporting on a substantial advance in cliodynamics, which will be accompanied by several shorter commentaries/critiques (1,000 words each). All word limits are strictly enforced; however, an article can be linked to on-line Supporting Information, which is not limited in size. We solicit proposals for book reviews and meeting reviews, and proposals for special journal issues devoted to a particular topic.
Note on printing articles: Journal pages have been formatted in such a way that two of them fit precisely on a regular (either American, or European) sheet of paper. Thus, to print a hard copy (1) download the PDF, (2) drop the cover page, supplied automatically by eScholarship, and (3) instruct your printer to print the rest as two pages side by side.

Volume 3, Issue 2, 2012

Editor's Column

Introducing a New Section—Databases
Turchin, Peter


Evolutionary Decomposition and the Mechanisms of Cultural Change
Beheim, Bret A; Baldini, Ryan
Endogenous Population and Resource Cycles in Historical Hunter-Gatherer Economies
Szulga, Radek Szymon


A Historical Database of Sociocultural Evolution
Turchin, Peter; Whitehouse, Harvey; Francois, Pieter; Slingerland, Edward; Collard, Mark
Seeing the Forest of Secular Cycles
Sirag, Jr., David J

Book Reviews

Multicultural vs. Post-Multicultural World History: A Review Essay
Hewson, Martin
Comparative Archaeology: The Camel’s Nose?
Kohler, Timothy A.
State Formation in Hawai’i
Smith, Michael E.

Social Evolution Forum

Networking Past and Present
Dunbar, R.I.M.; Baumard, Nicolas; Hamilton, Marcus J.; Hooper, Paul; Finkel, Daniel N.; Gintis, Herbert

Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012

Editor's Column

The Special Issue on Failed States and Nation-Building
Turchin, Peter; Coon, Carleton; Wilson, David Sloan


Processes Too Complicated to Explain
Coon, Carleton
The Evolution of War
Morris, Ian
Tribal Social Instincts and the Cultural Evolution of Institutions to Solve Collective Action Problems
Richerson, Peter; Henrich, Joe
Prosociality, Federalism, and Cultural Evolution
Bednar, Jenna
Centralization/Decentralization in the Dynamics of Afghan History
Barfield, Thomas
The Taliban's Adaptation 2002-11: a Case of Evolution?
Giustozzi, Antonio
State and Socio-Political Crises in the Process of Modernization
Grinin, Leonid
Failed States and Nation-Building: A Cultural Evolutionary Perspective
Turchin, Peter

Social Evolution Forum

The Evolution of Human Cooperation
Gintis, Herbert; Doebeli, Michael; Flack, Jessica
The Peacock’s Tale: Lessons from Evolution for Effective Signaling in International Politics
Blumstein, Daniel T.; Atran, Scott; Field, Scott; Hochberg, Michael; Johnson, Dominic; Sagarin, Raphael et al.

Volume 2, Issue 2, 2011

Editor's Column

Introducing the Social Evolution Forum
Turchin, Peter; Hochberg, Michael E


The Roman Dominate from the Perspective of Demographic-Structural Theory
Baker, David C
War Games: Simulating Collins’ Theory of Battle Victory
Fletcher, Jesse B; Apkarian, Jacob; Roberts, Anthony; Lawrence, Kirk; Chase-Dunn, Christopher; Hanneman, Robert A
A Trap At The Escape From The Trap? Demographic-Structural Factors of Political Instability in Modern Africa and West Asia
Korotayev, Andrey; Zinkina, Julia; Kobzeva, Svetlana; Bozhevolnov, Justislav; Khaltourina, Daria; Malkov, Artemy et al.

Book Reviews

How Big Should Historians Think? A Review Essay on Why the West Rules—For Now by Ian Morris
Pomerantz, Kenneth
Expansion Cycles in Competitive Systems: A Review of Expansions by Axel Kristinsson
Christian, David
Middle Range Theory: A Review of The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama
Manning, Joseph G
Science or Ideology? A Review of The Archaeology of Politics and Power by Charles Maisels
Blanton, Richard E

Social Evolution Forum

Institutional Rigidity and Evolutionary Theory: Trapped on a Local Maximum
Lustick, Ian S; Nettle, Daniel; Wilson, David Sloan; Kokko, Hanna; Thayer, Bradley A

Volume 2, Issue 1, 2011

An Inquiry into History, Big History, and Metahistory
Krakauer, David; Gaddis, John L; Pomeranz, Kenneth L


A Single Historical Continuum
Christian, David
A Paleontological Look at History
Erwin, Douglas H
War, Peace, and Everything: Thoughts on Tolstoy
Gaddis, John L
Regularities in Human Affairs
Gell-Mann, Murray
Meta-History’s Dangerous Dream
Harpham, Geoffrey G
The Star Gazer and the Flesh Eater: Elements of a Theory of Metahistory
Krakauer, David C
Homogeneity, Heterogeneity, Pigs and Pandas in Human History
McNeill, John R
Labeling and Analyzing Historical Phenomena: Some Preliminary Challenges
Pomeranz, Kenneth L
Complexity in Big History
Spier, Fred
Toward Cliodynamics – an Analytical, Predictive Science of History
Turchin, Peter
A Historical Conspiracy: Competition, Opportunity, and the Emergence of Direction in History
Vermeij, Geerat J
Can there be a Quantitative Theory for the History of Life and Society?
West, Geoffrey B