I am Ariel Cotton.  I'm an artist, product designer, & maker of interactive things.

I craft beautiful, human-centered interfaces for web and mobile applications. I draw and write comics about life in Berlin and New York City. I even tinker with electronics and make interactive art from time to time.


23 September 2016 Categories: Music

Hello internet. It’s been a while, but that doesn’t mean things have been quiet. I have an entire backlog of blog posts to write, some of which you will see within the coming weeks.

However, I just have to gush a little about recent experiences I’ve had involving one of my favorite bands of all time…

A Moon Shaped Pool

So I finally listened to A Moon Shaped Pool, the new Radiohead album.

What can I say? Layers and layers of delicate and powerful sounds woven together to create an undulating sum greater than its parts. Music that multi-faceted requires multiple listens in order to fully comprehend it. It’s like a gift that can only be fully unwrapped over a long period of time.

It’s dark and romantic, like the soundtrack to the life of a person who has just lost everything and is grappling in the darkness, trying to illuminate and understand her new reality. Perhaps I’m being biased when I say that because I know Thom Yorke went through a divorce prior to making this album. Knowing a musician’s backstory can inform your listening experience in a profound way.

Bits and pieces of it reminded me of all the earlier albums. It’s kind of like Abbey Road in that sense, bringing together parts of all the albums that preceded it and expressing them in a fully matured way.

All in all, a delight for the ears (and the rest of the body; I had many moments of chills and rushes throughout), and I am freaking the fuck out that I’m about to see this band I’ve been in love with for years on Sunday. Also, it is best experienced while lying in bed in the dead of night with a decent pair of headphones.

Seeing Radiohead at Lollapalooza

That night was my first time ever going to see a band I’m completely obsessed with that still happens to be current. Most of my favorite bands are from the 60s and 70s, so this was something I wasn’t sure I would ever get to experience. It feels so good to be a fan, to lose yourself in the delirious screaming, jumping, head-bobbing and dancing as you celebrate the existence of music that has moved you in ways you can’t even explain, as the music permeates and shakes your entire body.

The music elicited euphoria and heartbreak, heavily intertwined with each other. Perhaps there is even a fine line between the two. The silver lining of sadness is that it allows you to experience art from an entirely different angle. It was so touching to be surrounded by hundreds of other people whose lives have been shaped by the music the same way mine has. One guy in the audience and I ended up hugging and I teared up and told him how Radiohead has helped me get through some of my worst moments of heartbreak, and he replied that Radiohead stopped him from committing suicide.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be Thom Yorke, surveying ocean after ocean of thousands of faces around the world, knowing that you have touched so many lives just by virtue of taking your personal feelings and making something beautiful with them. It encourages me to keep making work about my own feelings and experiences, because even if it’s “self involved,” I realize that it may help another person someday. I suppose that’s what differentiates a good work of art from one that’s purely masturbatory—if it deals with a universal human experience in a way that helps observers feel less alone.

Thank you Radiohead. You will never know what you’ve done for me.

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