Cowboys galloping down the hall on ‘neeeiigh’ing broomstick steeds; Thundercats high-kicking in shrunken primary colour pyjama sets and felt-tip pen facepaints; Ewok hunters on a mission through Endor, visit branch spears brandished and costume jewellery jangling… Every time my brother and I emerged from our childhood dressing up box, look we did so as reborn beings – sometimes scaled, visit this site othertimes boasting barnets naively shorn by blunt Crayola scissors, and always adding to our mother’s list of rushed patch-up jobs. Remove teaspoon antennas from balaclava; scrub ink-stained cheeks; clip son’s whole head.
Gabby Young and Other Animals. Image: Joseph Lee
For hours we rampaged in our otherworldly guises, worries of school tests superseded by raw terror of the giant ape hot on our heels (our dad’s friend Ted also enjoyed dressing up. His repertoire included a gorilla suit) or the snapping alligator circling expectantly beneath the plank some called the kitchen table.
And one day the lid of the dressing up box was lowered, unceremoniously, for what turned out to be the final time. Ewoks, indians, aliens, mermaids and imaginative hybrids of all of the above played out their death-defying scenes in the dark innards of boxes – not just ours, but Halkirk’s and Halifax’s, Ramsgate’s and Rhyl’s – as cracks crept through their parched facepaint palettes and the first fine layers of dust settled on their lids.
But whispers of a weekend are heard on the wind; a weekend for which hands rub dust from the tops of forgotten chests that yawn wide to reveal feathers and sparkles and wooden swords of old; a weekend that brings badass bass and acoustic amazements together with knife-throwing, tea dances and wondering wordsmiths. It’s peopled by the curious, the creative and the downright cuckoo; its tents bear the names of The Lost Picture Show, The Compass of Lunacy and Twist & Spout; it’s powered by wind, water and waste cooking oil – and it’s called Shambala.
Alejandro Toledo and the Magic Tombolinos
In a secret location somewhere in Northamptonshire, the Shambala festival bubble will emerge on Thursday 26th August – filled with spectacular and outlandish music, games, adventures and theatre – and will pop for another year on Monday 30th. Location details are known to ticketholders alone – and to be one, you’ll need to sign your August Bank Holiday weekend (and perhaps a little drop of sanity) away via the Shambala website. And, of course, hope that you can still wriggle into that old matching pyjama set…
Written by Amy Hughes on Tuesday August 24th, 2010 9:14 am
Most of us pat ourselves on the back at the thought of having ‘done our bit‘, symptomsinformation pills whether it’s recycling or bringing a load of old clothes to a charity shop. Robert Bradford, ailment in that case, deserves a rather large pat on the back. Not only did he ‘do his bit’, but also got rather creative doing it.
Whilst staring at his children’s box of discarded toys, a beam of light shun down from the heavens, a choir of angels sung and everything was still. Well, perhaps inspiration doesn’t happen like that in real life, but Bradford defiantly had a light bulb moment. Instead of taking the toys to local charity shop, Bradford decided to make sculptures out of them. Bradford assembles the toys into kaleidoscopic life-size dogs and people. Since his foray into toys, Bradford has also transformed other would-be discarded items. Crushed Coca-cola cans, combs, pegs and washing up brushes have also been made into extra family members and man’s best friend. Using what most would describe as rubbish, Bradford is one artist who wouldn’t mind his work being so called. It says so on his website.
Tuesday 28th October White Cube, Sam Taylor-Wood: Yes I No: Until 29th November
Mason’s Yard and No 1 The Piazza, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8HA
This show includes three groups of photographs and a large scale film installation on the subject of absensce and morality. Other photos based on Wuthering Heights with desire and suffering playing key themes.
Wednesday 29th October: V&A Museum of Childhood, Tom Hunter’: until 9th November
Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green E2 9PA
Exploring the changing face of the East End, Hunter’s photographs focus on people, places and community in and around the area.
Thursday 30th October: Stephen Friedman Gallery, ‘Catherine Opie’: Until 15thNovember
25-28 Old Burlington Street?London W1S 3AN
The exhibition title, ‘The Blue of Distance’, is inspired by Rebecca Solnit, a writer on photography and landscape. Here, Opie continues her investigation with two new series of work capturing the remote beauty of the Alaskan landscape.
Friday 31st October: Whitecross Gallery, ‘Girlie’: Daphne Plessner: Until 21 November
122 Whitecross St, London EC1Y 8PU
Whitecross Gallery welcomes you to ‘Girlie’, an exciting and thought provoking solo exhibition of luscious new paintings by talented artist Daphne Plessner.?Her work combines uncompromising social critique with colourful, elaborate surface decoration, and beautifully crafted, exquisite attention to detail.
Saturday 1st November: ICA, ‘Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’ Retrospective: Until 23rd November
The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH
In tandem with Under Scan on Trafalgar Square, a retrospective of Lozano-Hemmer’s moving-image works, via a series of documentaries, spanning the past decade of his career. Lozano-Hemmer has been commissioned for events such as the millennium celebrations in Mexico City, the Cultural Capital of Europe in Rotterdam (2001), the United Nations World Summit of Cities in Lyon (2003), the opening of the Yamaguchi Centre for Art and Media in Japan (2003) and the expansion of the European Union in Dublin (2004).
Warm and jubilant and wholesome. That’s how a Tilly and the Wall gig will leave you – and the title to their debut album in 2004, check Wild Like Children, cheapest is an indicator as to how. Add to this Slow Club, who when I saw several months ago in a weekly slot at The Enterprise in Camden, had brought along home-baked goods to pass round, and you’re wholly rejuvenated.
The ULU played host to this delectable recipe on Saturday, and they do compliment each other incredibly. Dulcet boy/girl harmonies, songs that pay homage to the bliss of youth and spontaneity, and full sounding percussion that is hard to put your finger on until you see it; The Slow Club often bang their drumsticks on chairs, and the percussion for Tilly is tap-dancer Jamie on a mic’ed up wooden box (they used to steal road-signs for the purpose but have since become more legit).
Tilly’s latest release, “o” was produced by acclaimed producer, Mike Mogis. Their kaleidoscopic sound has gotten bigger and fuller, but maintaining to the familiarity of Tilly ingredients. “I feel like I know them”, I heard someone say, and when the encore brought them back on stage with Charles and Rebecca from the Slow Club in tow, tambourines in hand, it felt like we all did. Clapping and stamping along, I thought the experience perhaps drew a thin line next to what I’d imagine an evangelist Sunday session to be like, only without strings attached, a drink in hand, and prophets that chant out about first loves, recklessness and “life that is so wonderful it shines like fire” (Let it Rain – Tilly); so put that in your wine glass and sip it.
Across the pond in Portland, viagra buy Oregon environmental art group Leave No Plastic Behind (LNPB) are holding a month long art exhibit intitled “Haste Management” and a one off film night, “Plastic Fantastic” to showcase the creative ways that plastic can be saved from the landfill. So it’s a given that you can recycle paper, aluminum and glass, but shiny plastic has been left behind. LNPB focus on avoiding plastic for this very reason, and not relying on recycling.
The “Haste Management” exhibition runs from the 6th-30th November and includes contributions from the wonderful>>>>>
On Nov 23rd “Plastic Fantastic”, a special film event from performance artsist and film maker Devon Damonte will be screened.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jessica Lyness | email@example.com | 503-913-3882
Environmental Group- Leave No Plastic Behind
Presents a Plastic Art Show and Film Event
(Portland, OR). Recycling paper, check. Recycling aluminum, check. Recycling glass, check. Recycling plastic? Not so fast. Environmental art group Leave No Plastic Behind (LNPB) urges consumers to curb plastic habits through reducing, reusing and creating. Concentrating on single-use plastic, LNPB focuses on avoiding the material and not relying on recycling. The Portland based group present a month-long art exhibit “Haste Management” and a special film night, “Plastic Fantastic” to showcase creative ways that plastic can be saved from the landfill.
The “Haste Management” exhibition begins on First Thursday, November 6 with an artist reception and Opening Night party at Visage, 1047 NW Johnson Ave. The Exhibition continues through Sunday, November 30. A special film event from performance artist and filmmaker Devon Damonte entitled “Plastic Fantastic”, takes place on November 23 at the Waypost, 3120 N Williams Ave. Following the exhibition, artist’s work will be available for view online at www.lnpb.org.
Artists participating in this exhibition are from all around the country including Waterville, ME, San Francisco, CA, Olympia, WA and Portland, OR. Each participant engages in a three month “episode” to live a plastic-free lifestyle, wherein any plastic they do collect, they make art out of it. Participants include filmmakers, photographers, musicians, and activists. In the past two years, over 50 artists have participated in an episode of LNPB.
LNPB presents art exhibits and creative events year round to raise awareness about the damaging effects of single use plastic and offers alternative suggestions on how to reduce and reuse. LNPB continues to be inspired by Captain Charles Moore and the Algalita Marine Research. This collective considers the true costs of modern convenience and demonstrates the importance of collaborative resourcefulness.
Photos: Gawain Hewitt
Portuguese party starters Buraka Som Sistema are perhaps one of the most hyped up musical endeavors to hit our shores in recent years. They launched onto the stage at cargo and turned the lackluster Tuesday night, ask tired from work, health crowd into a bunch of whooping partygoers.
Buraka’s set up onstage is a little out of the ordinary, but it works. Essentially it’s a DJ and MC set up, but with some added percussion in the form of a guy on bongos and a drummer. I can’t help but always get excited by the addition of bongos to live show; everyone loves bongo players.
The only problem with tonight’s gig may be that people don’t know an awful lot of their stuff, having not released their album yet. They get round this though by breaking out their own interpretations of Around The World by Daft Punk and Thunderstruck by AC/DC. These seem to have quite an effect in rousing the crowd. Some people were actually shaking their booty so much that my friend had to move out of their way – honestly; some people just have no manners.
My favourite track of the night was Luanda Lisboa, a track that genuinely gives me the jitters if I listen to it very loud. I’ve only heard the instrumental version of it before now, but live the MCs managed to get the crowd particularly on side, even though the vast majority had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.
What seemed to get the crowd most excited was Sound Of Kuduro, which has been thrown into popularity largely because it features M.I.A on vocals, and it has really good video. Live it was brought to life by the female MC they have live.
I’ve seen DJ sets by these guys before, but the live show is a much more engrossing experience. I was left blown away by their show, though what really excited me about them is their production skills – which is so often the case with electronic music.
The Irrepressibles will be playing two sets as part of an event to support a forthcoming display of contemporary art installations at the museum including works by Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn, Ron Mueck, Antony Gormley and Noble and Webster. Best of all, it’s completely free. Perfect for these crunchy credit times.
Musician Tallulah Rendall is a super talented woman with an indomitable vision that inspires; launching her self-released crowdfunded third album The Banshee and The Moon with a very personal photo album and an accompanying exhibition at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery. In this intimate interview she shares the making of her new album, plus what it takes to go for it alone.
What inspired the lyrics of The Banshee and The Moon?
A huge transition in my life. After ten years of playing in bands, I decided that it was time to record an album on my own without the influence of creative collaboration. It was also at this time that I decided to move to Berlin. The move combined with my study of qi gong opened up many new possibilities and realizations. I spent hours alone playing bass, guitar and immersing myself in vocal harmonies. I didn’t have a piano so I would take myself off to the nearby piano shop to write. All these changes lead to my style of writing evolving. With my two previous albums, and EP’s unknowingly I had rested heavily on the obscure and often fantastical when it came too lyric writing. Metaphors about water nymphs, black seagulls amongst others.
Whilst I was writing this album there developed a sense of personal awareness and clarity that previously had been obscured. This arose in tandem with a story that I was exploring. The notion of the maiden, wise woman and crone as being three aspects of a woman that are always present within and this began to resonate deeply for me. I had never felt a connection to my own wise woman but I was beginning to grasp a sense of her within, and so wrote her story called The Banshee. The Banshee personified my wise woman. She was free, all knowing, vulnerable, powerful, wild, untamable all the aspects that I myself was aspiring to and above all she rode a beautiful wild steed across the heavens! She became my muse and the lyrics of this album tell both her story and my own journey to embodying her aspects within myself.
You have taken an unusual route to the release of your albums – what inspires your approach?
My mum used to run a nightclub called 7 1/2 in Portugal. When the revolution came she returned to the UK and set up a nightclub in Shepherd’s Walk called The Black Sheep which, then became 7 1/2. There are two aspects to this story that I love. The first is that this meant as a child I grew up with a basement full of amazing vinyl records which my mother had kept hold of and hours were spent listening and exploring the psychedelic artwork.
The other strand to the story is that she met many of the great musicians, from the Beatles, to The Stones, Cliff Richard.. and the story I love best is the day an unknown musician pitches up at her venue in London bargaining to use the venue as a rehearsal space for the two weeks leading up to the venue opening. They reach an agreement on the understanding that he would then play the first two weeks for free. Low and behold ‘Hey Joe’ goes to number one in the UK charts the night before the club opens and my mum has Jimi Hendrix playing her venue for her opening night and for free for the next two weeks. Allegedly, there are pictures somewhere of mum playing the broom with Jimi Hendrix..
So I guess the basement stash of vinyl was the main strand that inspired the concept of the books. I loved the artwork and am myself an artist. When it came to exploring how I wanted my albums to be released, I just wasn’t satisfied with a cd in a plastic case or a download, to me that lost so much of the story behind the musician and the music. And so I began to cultivate this concept of a song inspiring a piece of art, and then filming the creation of both processes. This naturally led to me: writing about the songs, the stories behind them, and the way of an independent musician, through crowdfunding, self-doubt and determination.
Initially I approached a label to see if they were interested in the concept and signing my first album/book Libellus but the response is why would we take a risk on an unknown artist. They thought it was going to be a really expensive process, which whilst it does cost more than a download to make in actual fact because the concept behind the projects is creative collaboration, everyone involved in the creation of the books has worked for free and in actual fact because I have released my albums as books and sold them for £15 I have been able to survive as an Independent musician at a time when most labels have been struggling to find ways of inspiring music lovers to by music. I am now hoping to find a label open to this way of creating music.
What kind of subject matter features in the accompanying book, and what is your favourite bit?
The Banshee And The Moon text narrates the story behind the journey from my band disbanding and my decision to record an album on my own and to play all the instruments on the record. It tells of my move to Berlin, my unexpected travels to India and then how I have ended up in the depths of Devon. Included also are the stories behind the individual songs, and the black and white photographs that were created in response to the songs. A huge thank you to Serena Bolton, Ben Heron, Akio, Paris Ackrill and Jim Kroft for collaborating with me and for taking such beautiful pictures.
I don’t really have a favourite bit of the story to be honest because every part of the story was integral to where I am now in my life. But if I had to pick one I would chose the picture of The Horse, taken by Serena Bolton and the quotation:
“In silence the teachings are heard; In stillness the world is transformed.” Lao Tse, Tao Te Ching
Well and meeting Ben of course!
What have been the highlights and pitfalls of crowd funding the album?
Crowdfunding is one of the most extraordinary experiences I have encountered. It challenges your self-belief beyond comparison but if you can get through that it is one of the most nourishing experiences. When I first began crowdfunding in 2006 for my first album, Libellus, no one had heard of it so it was pretty challenging but I had three amazing patrons and that gave me a head start.
For my second album Alive, I crowdfunded through Pledge Music. This was around 2010 I think and it was still a very new concept so hours were spent explaining to each person that I was not taking their money; it was an exchange. They could buy a piece of art, hire me for a gig, or commission a song. The fact that I was running the campaign through Pledge helped validate it but it was still three months solid work and at the end of it if I didn’t raise all the funds I wouldn’t receive any of the money so it was beyond stressful.
For this latest crowdfunding project for The Banshee And The Moon I decided that I would run it off my own website so to alleviate the stress of the potential of not receiving any of the funds if I didn’t reach my target. I asked all those who had been involved in previous campaigns and they all trusted I would deliver, and so it began. And ten months later it finished… It was a huge amount of work and because the financial situation had changed so much globally it was tougher than previously to get the large amounts. What in turn happened was nearly 95% of people who had backed me previously with smaller amounts backed me again but by giving 200% more that the first time.
It was extraordinary. I would receive and still do receive daily emails, Facebook messages from pledgers encouraging me on. And now that the album/book editions have been sent out to pledgers the response have been incredible and many have reduced me to tears.
These responses make everything worthwhile the ten thousand hours spent crowd funding, recording, writing to press, battling with printers….
“Thank you @tallulahrendall for the amazing gift that is The Banshee And The Moon. Music to my ears and inspiration for my eyes. You are a wondrous woman” Leonora (UK)
“thank you so much for sending over your new piece of art – I’m totally blown away, your book is so, so very beautiful my dear!!!!! Congrats & “Very well done”, wonderful chosen photos, I love them all! And I think they fit very well to each song!” Pete (Germany)
“Dear Tallulah, thank you so much for this wonderful album and the personal words in it! It looks gorgeous and I hardly dare to touch it to avoid any fingerprints on this beautiful cover. Discovering my name after finishing to read your very interesting and touching text made me very proud. It is a great feeling having been allowed to be a small part of this impressing project. I wish you a perfect launch party. You really deserve it!” Frank (Germany)
“Dear Tallulah, I have just received my copy of your book and album today. Am flattered that it is both personally signed and that I’m noted among your supporters (delighted to be so). I shall treasure this always. Many thanks, Andrew xx”
Can you tell us more about the accompanying exhibition to launch the album? Rebecca Hossack and I met at a family exhibition last year. My younger Nick is an artist, and my other brother Max is a magician. We decided to put on an event together and I met Rebecca there, and she expressed a love for what I was creating and suggested we do something in the future. So in January this year I sent a message outlining my exhibition concept not really thinking I would get a yes. But I did. I am still slightly shocked that it is happening, but it is and it has grown like I could not of foreseen.
I have managed to get sponsorship from Grosvenor events, Sipsmith and Chase Vodka (big thank you to them) so each night there is an event from 6-9pm showcasing the art and from 7-8pm I will be performing songs from the album.
There will be 14 black and white photographs in the exhibition and each one is accompanied by a QR code streaming the song that inspired the creation of the image.
The performances are seated in keeping with the intimacy of a living room tour.
Last year I spent four months on a Living Room Tour travelling around the UK and Germany playing in summerhouses, a castle, a kitchen, sitting room, gardens a warehouse. Each night was hosted by a fan and they invited the guests. The nights were run by donation and so it was free entry, just bring a bottle or a dish. The response was incredible and totally inspiring. I had become slightly jaded after too many unpaid gigs in shit venues and had decided to explore other options which led to this tour. (I am now organising a new living room tour for 2014 so if you are interested in hosting please message me firstname.lastname@example.org).
The concept of donation seemed to open up a whole new way. The response was people gave what they felt the performance deserved and the result was I earned more over this period than ever before. Plus I was able to play long two-hour sets rather than 20 mins in a shit venue so it felt in balance.
You have been moving around a lot, where are you currently living and what brought you there?
The depths of Devon, in a wild valley next to a beautiful clear river and untouched oak forest. It is amazing. I needed to recharge after the touring and crowdfunding and to focus on getting this project out into the world. I was conscious that my health was so poor and after routinely being on antibiotics six or seven times a year because of a really poor immune system I knew that I need to make some changes which I have and the result is no antibiotics for two years major improvement
I also didn’t want to take on a PR & marketing company and so I have been doing everything myself. To keep some sense of balance it has been fantastic being able to focus entirely on the project and nourishing being able to step out into the wilds from my doorstep.
Your next tour will be hosted by fans, how do you find the right venues?
It is more about the people than anything because once in the space I can adapt it to work for the set up.
With the living room tour I did last year I had no idea until I walked in the door what the room would be like, which kept it really exciting. Also the audiences were completely different at each event. What was incredible was that it didn’t matter if it was accountants, artists, mothers, kids, or any age, my experience from all audiences except the one night I did where everyone was really just interested in getting as fucked as possible as quickly as possible, that was fair from enjoyable, but aside from that my experience was that once everyone was settled in a comfy spot I could tell the stories and sing the songs with a real open heart and everyone (except the one night of wasters) really connected with that. So it really is more about my willingness to step into any space and be as open and honest as possible.
What can the audience expect from a live show, and why do you enjoy creating a spectacle?
It is interesting because my live show has changed hugely. I love the fantastical of dressing up, lighting, film visuals but also for me now more than ever I don’t feel like I need the costume to hide behind.
So now it really is about creating beautifully lit and inspiring spaces, it’s about connecting with the audience on a level that hopefully empowers them to believe in their own creativity and vision.
My intention is to sing the songs from my heart and share what I have created without expectation.
I am proud of what collectively has been achieved, there are hundreds of people involved in enabling The Banshee And The Moon to come to life and right now it is all about celebrating just that.
Celebrating a dream becoming a reality, and my hope is that with each performance or each reading or listening of the book that people will be inspired to allow their own creative vision to have a space in their life.
I may not be that rock’n’roll these days, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying the finest that indie music has to offer. I am therefore very excited to share with you my discovery of Ravens & Chimes, a New York based five piece with stellar melodies and great lyrics that demand a top of the voice sing-a-long.
For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to new album Holiday Life on repeat in our car as we travel back and forth to my parents’ house (which happens on a regular basis since they help me out with Snarfle care for one day a week). In fact I think I can happily say that Snarfle is just as keen on this record as I am: we frequently play it at high volume and he beats out the time of the drums with a good old fist pump from the back seat. Really, you need to hear this record (which you can, at the bottom of this blog post) I caught up with lead singer and songwriter Asher Lack.
What are the three words that best describe the sound and vibe of Ravens and Chimes?
Big Bright Romantic? Someone once wrote that about us and it made me feel good.
How did you come to work on the soundtrack of one of the Twilight films, and what inspired the resulting song, Carousel?
The band was in a really dark place and we were stalled in the middle of an album that none of us felt was going well. Then, out of the blue I got an email from the label asking if we had any new material to submit for the Twilight 3 soundtrack. I had a half finished song that I thought would work well so I got everyone together and we recorded it. The result was the song Carousel which shifted the direction we were moving in and refocussed us as a group. The song was me trying to capture that feeling of loss that I had after we finished touring our first album. The friendship between the band and I that had suffered, and my relationship that had ended.
It took awhile for you to write this album – what is it about?
I think this is an album about facing impossible circumstances and saying “I won’t give up.” in the face of that. It took five years after our first album to write this, record it, and get it released. After we finished touring the first album the band was in shambles. Everyone was broke and we had started recording the new album and run out of money. To add to that I hadn’t written any songs that I thought were good in about two years, so we stopped work on the new record (in Montreal) and went back to NY. We tried to earn the money to finish by touring, but our agent dropped us because we hadn’t finished the new album. On top of that the label didn’t have the money to help us finish the album so we all got jobs. Then the situation with Carousel brought us back together and gave us a sense of purpose. I had a lucky two month period where I wrote the second half of the album (Division St, Past Lives, The Parting Glass, In Rooms, and Carousel) and Rebecca and I cowrote Arrow. We went back up to Montreal and recorded these songs and combined them with the other ones we had done before and the label was blown away by how hard we worked and agreed to put it out.
Ravens and Chimes by James McCourt, inspired by capturing something for a moment, a memory, escaping, and about a sense of change being on the horizon.
There’s five of you: how did you put the band together and what keeps you together when there are tough times?
A few of us met in college and knew each other from other bands on the scene. When times are tough I think the hard things we’ve already been through and the ability to focus on all the luck and success we’ve had together has been what gets us though.
Who created the album artwork and what was their brief? I love it!
My dad is a painter so I’ve always used his images for our album art. When we first started as a band our rehearsal space was in his studio in Chelsea. Thanks so much for saying that!
You’ve toured with some formidable bands, including Fiery Furnaces and Dan Deacon, can you share any stories from behind the scenes?
I remember The Fiery Furnaces tour manager accusing us of stealing their towels but I think that’s about as crazy as it’s gotten. We’re really lucky that all the bands we’ve played with have been really cool to us. Billy Bragg gave us all a big hug.
What are you currently working on, stateside?
Right now we’re writing a new album and getting ready to start recording in December (hopefully). Above is one of the new songs that we played at an acoustic session in London last November.
Why has it taken so long to release this record in the UK and where can British fans catch you live in the near future?
There were a lot of delays with the release of this record. I’m not sure why but it always takes a lot of time to put all the ducks in a row. Hopefully we’ll be faster next time! In terms of UK tours, it looks like next summer into next fall if everything comes together.
After recently going out of print on the Catsup label Paw Tracks have decided to re-issue Animal Collective‘sCampfire Songs EP. Apparently it’s not an album to listen to when sat around the campfire telling stories. Instead the songs contained on the disc are actually about the fire itself. So far so interesting.
Anyone who is familiar with Animal Collective’s recent output will know that they make music which is at once poppy and difficult. Last year’s Merriweather Post Pavilion had as many detractors as it did people praising it as album of the year, dosage in January! The tracks varied from the personal, priceMy Girls, try and Brother Sport (which are about Noah Lennox’s, a.k.a Panda Bear wife and daughters and trying to get his brother to open up about their fathers death respectivley) to the more fun loving, Summertime Clothes, and Lion In A Coma.
Campfire Songs is as far removed from the sound of MPP or Strawberry Jam as it is possible to get. It almost sounds like a completely different band, except for Noah’s plaintive vocals. There are no drums, no synths, and certainly no big sounds. It’s just acoustic guitars being gently strummed while Noah breathily sing/chants over the top .
The album was recorded outside, on a porch, on mini-disc which allows the sounds of nature to be heard and adds a layer to the idea of making music from the elements. It’s an interesting experiment and certainly shows that Animal Collective have never been afraid to experiment. It also shows the bands development from their more noisy/acoustic sound to the electronic juggernauts that they have become.
It’s an album that I would certainly have on in the background while I was doing something else but I don’t think I’d want to sit down and actively listen to it. It seems that even amongst their fans, of which I consider myself a fairly big one, they can still be a divisive band. Something which I think is important as they aren’t trying to please anyone but themselves with their sonic experimentation.
Written by Andy Devine on Thursday January 21st, 2010 5:48 pm
French for Cartridge are an art pop duo who make melodic indie-pop when they step aside from their day jobs as contemporary composers. We love their unusual sound, which is accompanied by some beautiful imagery: they went to art college of course. Here’s more about the husband wife team…
Can you tell us a bit more about your day job as contemporary composers?
As composers we work freelance on commissions. This usually means that there are a few projects on the horizon and various pieces to write – some are small-scale, some are for larger ensembles, for film or for theatre. If it’s in the writing stage it means getting up in the morning and sitting down by the desk – if it’s in the production stage, it means running around theatres and studios making things ready for a performance. It’s never boring, for sure. Catherine has just finished writing a new opera, which premieres in December and which you can find some more information about on the blog that she keeps on www.neigeopera.tumblr.com.
How does French For Cartridge differ and what makes you stand out?
Yes, hopefully we are a bit different – the world would definitely be more fun with more bands like ours. We’d like to think that we’re serious yet playful, experimental yet tuneful. Plus these days our gigs are seldom normal gigs, but have turned into something of an art project with music instead.
You began life at Goldsmiths – what were you studying there and is that how you met?
We both studied music and composition there as did our drummer Akinori Fujimoto and we all met there. It was a great, open-minded place with lots of crazy ideas floating around.
What inspires the look and feel of your accompanying artwork and videos?
For the videos we make ourselves, we try to stick to an idea that is simple, but strong enough to counter our limited film skills. But we are very lucky to have some very talented friends and for the most part we give them carte blanche to do whatever they want, usually with amazing results. Most things are up on www.frenchforcartridge.com/videos or on YouTube.
The album artwork is all Damien Beaton, who’ve designed almost everything we’ve put out so far. He does an excellent job in capturing visually what the songs are about.
What are the plus points and the downsides to being a couple making music together?
I don’t think we’ve ever argued about the band, so it’s definitely just plus points. We share everything else in life, so it makes sense to also share this, no? Because you know the other person so well and how he/she thinks, there are a lot of things you don’t have to explain or waste energy on and can get on with just creating some music instead. And it’s fun to tour and experience things together rather than one of us staying at home.
How on earth did you find a medieval tower (in Hackney) for your album launch? where is it?!
Catherine had played another gig there a few years back. It’s St. Augustine’s Tower by Hackney Central station where all the buses and some of the more characterful residents of the neighbourhood tend to congregate. It was a super fun night – you can see some photos here – but carrying all the gear up a narrow spiral staircase built 800 years ago, on a hot day in July, was a bit silly.
Can you tell us more about the hot air balloon ride?
We had grand plans of a French For Cartridge-themed hot air balloon ride and had sent our mascots – a Russian doll choir we have on our gigs – to the British School of Ballooning. But they were set to go out for their flight the same week as the big storm last month and have been waiting for clear winter weather since then…they got up to this in the meantime though.
Yeasayer kicked off their show at the very hot and sweaty Heaven with ‘Odd Blood”s opener track “The Children”. This seemed like a bit of an odd choice to start with, seekprice considering that it’s the least poppy track of an album that’s an homage to beautifully executed pop. It also seemed like the audience were decidedly underwhelmed to begin with, approved and weren’t really sure what to do with a less well known song. In fact I’m sure half of them were there only for the purposes of hearing “Ambling Alp” and going home.
In a strange way the sinister distorted vocals of “The Children” set the scene for them to launch into the more upbeat songs from ‘Odd Blood’, and things only improved from there on out. Their set was heavily focused on newer songs, and high points of the night included “Strange Reunions”, “Mondegreen”, “Love Me Girl”, “Ambling Alp”, “I Remember” and “ONE”. By the time they had got to “ONE” the crowd seemed to know what was going on, and had generated some enthusiasm for them at last. To help matters, Yeasayer were accompanied on stage by some trippy flashing light-boxes, which resonated pretty much perfectly with their own somewhat trippy hippy sound.
I was a little concerned, having listened to ‘Odd Blood’ so much, that the live vocals would be a let down. The singing on the album sounds, at times, as if it’s ventured into the dreaded realm of autotune. However what I discovered is that in amongst all the weird noises and bird calls, there are actually three very talented singers playing off each other. Keating, Tuton and Wilder are practically seamless in their live performance. All of them have a capacity to sing far above the pitch of most normal human men, but it works for them, and it’s actually pretty impressive to witness. Keating really stole the show though. He managed to maintain what might normally be a comical level of Bee Gee-esque crooning without his voice breaking, cracking or dropping notes. In addition to the man being an amazing singer, he was inventive with his voice, throwing in snarls, shouts, and all kinds of bizarre vocal noises which he still managed to blend into the song. Not only that but for a skinny white boy in a suit, he had some some serious rhythm, and could have definitely taught the lacklustre crowd how to throw a shape or two.
The sound of ‘Odd Blood’ was replicated in the best way possible. The tracks obviously didn’t sound identical to the album, and they weren’t always easy to identify at the start, but hearing it live made it far easier to appreciate each individual musician’s contribution. It’s fair to say that the few older songs Yeasayer played sounded smoother to the ear, especially when set aside ‘Odd Blood”s more choppy sound. They also seemed to generate more enthusiasm from the onlookers as well. When they came back for their encore and played Sunrise, it was probably the best song of the night. Although I love ‘Odd Blood”s pop credentials, Sunrise has a sound all unto itself.
The charm of Yeasayer is how many bits there are to it. They’re not content with the standard instruments, they have to throw in extra singers, extra sound effects, and bizarre noises that I don’t even know how to begin to identify. Having heard much of Odd Blood live, all I wanted to do was go home and listen to it again, and that to me seems like the best indication of a night well spent.
Musical collaborations and supergroups seem to be a daily occurrence these days. Jack White is apparently unable to walk past a fellow musician without squeezing out an album, erectileJosh Homme is the apparent omnipotent overlord of every decent rock release in the last 5 years and even the meek and mild alt-country scene have gone so far as to team up and form Monsters Of Folk, order so when you hear that James Mercer, what is ed lead singer and guitarist of The Shins, is preparing to release a collaborative long player it’s perfectly understandable that you raise a weary eyebrow in indifference. However, what if Mercer’s side project happened to have been co-written and produced by Brian ‘Dangermouse’ Burton? A much more interesting proposition, I’m sure you’ll agree.
As producer extraordinaire Dangermouse, he’s nailed bootlegging (The Grey Album), hip hop (Dangerdoom), pop (Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz), rock (The Black Keys) and now he has turned his midas touch once again to indie (he has also twiddled the knobs on albums from Beck and Sparklehorse). After a chance meeting between Burton and Mercer at a Danish music festival 6 years ago, the pair shared a mutual appreciation of each other’s work and started recording together in March 2008, after Burton produced three of the tracks on The Shins successful third album “Wincing The Night Way”. Two years in the making, they release their self-titled album on March 9th. Album opener ‘The High Road’ was released as a free download in December and works as a perfect introduction to the wistful and perky melodic amblings that make up this record. Instantly ‘Shinsian’, Burton’s electronically edged production add a little something extra to what would otherwise be another winsome and pretty Mercer single.
There are some lovely moments on this album, namely the string heavy waltz of ‘Sailing to Nowhere’ and the naval gazing trip of ‘Citizen’. We even see them dipping their toes into the realms of Wild West mariachi in the brilliant ‘Mongrel Heart’. What Burton brings to this album is an aural darkness and experimentalism that is constantly lurking on the outskirts of each track, yet not taking over from Mercer’s familiar and likeable indie pop sensibilities. Slide guitars, eighties synths and orchestral interludes fill out the spaces throughout the album in a delicious, satisfying and sometimes surprising way, however, there isn’t a vast spectrum of variety on the album – they have definitely found a formula and stuck to it, which perhaps leaves you feeling a little hungry for a spot of envelope pushing, but it is a brilliantly executed and thoroughly enjoyable record– an album that deserves to sit proudly alongside both The Shins back catalogue and all that Dangermouse has produced in the past. Once again Burton has tweaked and polished an already well-established and refined sound and made it just that little bit better.
22 year old Luciano Scherer is truly dedicated to his cause. Working 8-10 hours a day, more about 7 days week, he produces paintings, sculptures and animation until his back hurts too much to carry on. The Brazilian self-taught artist works alone as well as with a collective called ‘Upgrade do Macaco’, and has collaborated with Bruno 9li and Emerson Pingarilho. I found him to be much older than his years, with some very insightful and philosophical things to say about everything from art to life and the internet.
When did you realise you had creative talent?
When I was 8 years old my school had a drawing challenge for a children’s book, the teachers read the book to us and we should drew parts of it. My drawing was chosen, it was not the best, but it was the craziest, and the teachers said to me that I was very creative. I started to draw again when I was 15, and only seriously when I was 18.
Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?
From the past: Bosch, Brueghel, Jan van Eyck, Crivelli, Albrecht Altdorfer, gothic art in general. I also like alchemical drawings, illuminated manuscripts, and popular art from my country. But my real influences are my artist friends, they helped me to transform my spirit, not just my art, modifying my inside shell, something that still happens everyday. They are: Carla Barth, Carlos Dias, Bruno 9li, Emerson Pingarilho, Talita Hoffmann, Upgrade do Macaco collective. My current master is Jaca, he is genius.
Who or what is your nemesis?
My nemesis is somebody with lot of dedication and creativity to create evil things, like guns, bombs, wars, murders, lies.
If you could time travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?
I would go to the late-gothic era, in the end of the 15th century and early 16th century, just to understand or comprehend a little better how artists can do those masterpieces. I want to know about the places, the woods, the people’s clothes, the churches, the religions and the spirituality of this time. It is my all time golden age of painting. They all invested years of dedication to each piece, the result of it is bigger than our current comprehension.
If we visited you in your home town, where would you take us?
My hometown is a very small city in the extreme south of Brazil, almost Uruguay. There’s no galleries, no museums, no cinema, no nothing! But there are very beautiful natural places, like mystery fog woods, beautiful beaches with nobody, lakes, fields, lots of different animals; I will take you to all these places.
To what extent is your work influenced by your religion or spirituality?
I’m a son of a catholic father who takes me to the church every Sunday, and a mystic mother who is deeply connected with questions of spirituality. All my life I’ve been in catholic schools, and the people that I know there appear to be dedicated to God with tons of saints in sculptures, bracelets, necklaces, flyers, but the rest of their lives they spend being so petty, earthly, extremely connected with just the image of faith, and the concepts of guilty, suffering and impotencies. This contradiction makes me feel revolted, and at the same time I too have been into spiritualism, a Christian based doctrine, but much more metaphysical. This time the metaphysical seems to me so curious, respectable and scary, very scary. So when I started to paint, the images of Catholicism caused a strange fusion of respect, fear, nostalgia, and anger. I felt I needed to work over them, to learn about them and get more intimate, question the images and dogmas and lose the fear. It was a period of destruction like a renaissance. For a year now I’ve found myself distant from the doctrines, but between all of them, mainly the oriental ones like Buddhism and Hinduism, I’m feeling more spiritualized than religious. But this is just the start; I have much more to learn and I’m trying to not answer all the questions but instead learning to live together with them. All of this reflects in my artwork.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
An artist’s assistant, or a curator, or a collector; art aside, I’d be a garden sculptor.
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
Living in a self-sustainable vegetarian community, with all my friends and family, in a place not too hot and not too cold, with as many animals as possible, all of them free.
What advice would you give up and coming artists?
Over and over I’ve heard people say “art doesn’t make any money” or “what do you want to be an artist for, it’s so useless”. I’ve stopped listening to the cynics now though.
What was the last book you read?
I read the David Lynch book about transcendental meditation “Into Deep Water” (This is the name in Brazil), and the Krishnamurthy’s “Freedom from the Known”- it’s like a bible to me, I read it over and over. I’ve been reading H. P. Blavatsky “Voice of the Silence” and “Isis Unveiled” too. Now I’m reading Nietzsche’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, it’s awesome.
What piece of modern technology can you not live without?
The Internet. It’s my mail, my books, my telephone, my all time world museum 24-7.
What is your guilty pleasure?
The excesses, in food, drink, work, sleep. Anytime I get too much of these things I feel so regretful, but I’m working on it.
Tell us something about Luciano Scherer that we didn’t know already.
I have a post-rap band, named Casiotron. And I’m working on my first individual exhibition, at Thomas Cohn Gallery next year.
This is certainly a young man full of promise.
As a purveyor of Steve Reich meets Daniel Johnston instrumental music, sickness Graeme Ronald, a.k.a. Remember Remember, is keen to take it to the stage as nature intended: “I’ve put together a seven piece band for this tour. It’s hard to time it right but it’s worth it. Using a laptop isn’t the same as a live band is it?”
Sitting in the back of a Brighton drinking den, Ronald exudes a boyish sense of wide- eyed enthusiasm. Currently touring with influential US noise crew, Growing, he’s rightfully proud of his self-titled debut album on Mogwai‘s Rock Action Records. Ronald’s sweet, Glasgow brogue suffuses our conversation as he gives me an insight into his formative days: “I played with Mogwai as an additional keyboard player. I kept pestering them to let me join the band. I was working on my own stuff with a Loop station and started playing live regularly. Mogwai came down to hang out at one show and then offered to do an album”
As it has afforded him so many opportunities, Ronald is proud of his home city: “Glasgow does have a great music scene. It takes going away to appreciate what’s there. The art school or dole queue are great places to meet musicians. It’s a vibrant environment. Best steer clear of the Neds though”
The music of Remember Remember mirrors the urban, comfortingly grey, concrete beauty of Glasgow: “It was a conscious decision to make a record that sounded Scottish. I hate it when people sing in American accents. Or think they’re German. There’s a sense of shame attached to being Scottish. Growing up, I was embarrassed by the Proclaimers, Rab C Nesbit, bag pipes. I saw Kurt Cobain on MTV and that was it! Getting older, you look to your own identity to create more honest art”
Ronald is refreshingly grounded and deadpans: “I’m not deluded enough to think I can become a pop star off of minimalist drone music. Making money is not a priority. Shouldn’t music be free? CDs, selling music – they’re all imposed business models.”
Forever the Modernist, he’s already got his sights on the future: “The label wants me to promote this record more but I’m so keen to start working on new music. Touring’s new enough to be exciting but it’s still work. I’m quite up for doing a Brian Wilson and sending out other people to play my songs…”
All photos by Ken Street
Chatsworth Road, earmarked in the ‘Secret Streets’ feature of Time Out some twelve months ago, viagra lies deep in the E5 environs of Hackney- between Millfields Park and Homerton Hospital. Since it was said to be ‘bearing the fruits of the slow gentrification process,’ it seems the high street is ripe for development. With the arrival of such bijou retailers and eateries as Book Box and L’Epicerie, change is certainly in the air. As an actress friend and young Mum in the area recently put it: ‘it’s all gone a bit Guardian reader,’ the latest manifestation of which is the bid to reinstate the erstwhile street market.
Never one to bypass a strikingly rainbow-fonted poster in my local newsagent, especially not one bearing the promise of a shopping opportunity, I found myself drawn down to Chats Palace on the rainy evening of 14th July. The former Homerton library turned community arts venue had generously offered its premises free of charge for an open meeting of the Chatsworth Road Traders and Residents Association. A veritable cross-section of the neighbourhood populace, fifty or so strong, had assembled to hear the results of the spring opinion poll. But with Spitalfields, Broadway and Ridley Road already doing a roaring trade in the borough, does East London really need another market? Judging by 863 responses to 1200 leaflets distributed, of which 96% voted in the affirmative, it would seem so.
I tracked down campaign front man Ashley Parsons in the bar, post-Power Point presentation, to get the lowdown on launching a market from scratch.
What first inspired or provoked the idea to mount the campaign?
Well it certainly didn’t start out as a carefully hatched plot. It’s been a decidely organic affair so far, inspired mainly, I think, by a collective sense of pride in the local high street and aspirations for its future success as the community’s favourite place to shop.
Photo: Joe Lord
I’d say that if there was any ‘provocation’ it was that many of the traders at these 2008 meetings seemed to agree that business on the street was slower than last year – as on high streets everywhere. But the residents attending these meetings were equally concerned at the number of closed shop units on Chatsworth Road, particularly when it became apparent that Tesco was planning to massively expand the nearby Morning Lane store and that the Council were considering imposing a new tax on shopkeepers using the forecourts in front of their shops. So there was a general sense of concern that a much-loved independent high street – and a distinctive community hub to boot – was at risk of further decline. There was a very positive sense of, ‘let’s try and do something about it ourselves’.
Have you played a part in similar grassroots/ community ventures in the past?
A few years ago I was involved with Open Dalston when it was trying to prevent the demolition of the Four Aces / Labyrinth / Theatre building, and a pair of Georgian townhouses, on Dalston Lane. The campaign questioned whether the Council’s plans for the Dalston Junction area were sustainable or appropriate, and proposed a different style of development to that which you now see shooting up into the sky. It was gutting to see that particular campaign fail. But the act of mounting the campaign did result in Open Dalston going on to become a fully-fledged community organisation. Ever since that campaign they’ve been impressively committed and imaginative in trying to engage with their local community as the future of that area is fiercely debated.
How is the Chatsworth Road Market campaign different?
One of the invigorating things about it has been that it’s not a ‘no campaign’ working against someone else’s clock. It’s much more of a ‘yes’ campaign. And, to an extent, it’s been afforded the luxury of not having to react to outside events. Having said that, the campaign is, of course, going to face challenges, and it may be harder to motivate people without a sense of immediate jeopardy. But the high number of people who have attended our meetings and participated in the survey does suggest a really proactive community spirit.
When & why did the original Chatsworth Road market close?
The consensus seems to be that it closed down around 1989 or 1990. But the anecdotal evidence as to why it closed varies. Some traders who have been on the street for decades described a prolonged process of a new brick pavement being laid and re-laid, and causing such chaos and disruption to pedestrians and to the stalls’ ability to trade that the market died as a result of the work. Other residents have reported that the stalls simply declined in number and quality throughout the late ’80s. It’s certainly a story that needs to be told at some point. It’s amazing how quickly things get forgotten.
What would the major benefits of a new market be for the local community?
A new market could – and I stress ‘could’ – be a great way of improving shopping choices for local residents, which in turn might persuade more people that they don’t need to use supermarkets any more. It could bring people back to the high street and increase passing trade, benefiting all the existing businesses as well as encouraging new ones to open and fill empty shop units. It could help ensure the future of the high street as a community hub by regularly bringing together all parts of what is a hugely diverse community. It could allow more opportunities for people to set up and develop new businesses without committing to a shop lease. It could be fun!
Why is this local high street so crucial, would you say?
Firstly, because the surrounding residential area is originally based on this high street being the focal point. Many high streets are essentially lines of shops that grew up along major highways in or out of cities – they can feel transitional, cramped and chaotic. But Chatsworth Road was nothing but a field path before it was laid out by Victorian developers in the 1860s & 70s. What you see now is no accident – it was purpose built to serve a planned community, conceived as a public space with handsome proportions and wide pavements where people would shop, stroll and meet. It was built as the heart of an aspirational new working class suburb. So, for starters, it’s an unusually good urban space.
Secondly it’s important because Chatsworth Road’s renegade charm is rooted in its independence. There are very few chain names on the street, it’s almost entirely a centre of entrepreneurship, in an age of ever-expanding supermarkets and identikit city centres.
As soon the sense of community is diluted it becomes a transitional space, a way to get somewhere else rather than a destination in its own right. I’d suggest that a community-led market could just be another way of safeguarding it, another tactic for helping ensure it thrives for another 130 years, and doesn’t contract any further. For me, it’s not about fixing something that’s broken, so much as taking out a community insurance policy.
Are you ready to pass on the baton to a new line-up of committee members in September, and will you continue to be involved?
Absolutely, yes. Personally, I’ll probably take a step back after ensuring that the report on the survey is published and properly publicised, because I have to get on with earning a crust. But I’ll help out where I can because I think it’s got great potential to bring the area together.
I certainly hope that by the end of 2009 you’ll see a new Market Committee established with new faces taking things forward. That will probably be the focus of the next big meeting in Autumn 2009 – offering people the chance to shape the Association and to get more involved. People can keep an eye on the website for details of that meeting – www.chatsworthroade5.co.uk. Or they can email- email@example.com – and ask to be added to the mailing list. If enough people step forward there’s a great chance of making a new Chatsworth market happen.
With artists collecting in the shadowy crevices of the world’s biggest cities in search of space on the cheap it goes without saying that they tend to be found on the frothy crest of the wave of gentrification. A canary of sorts, viagra artists are often trailed by real estate speculators and big businesses, lurking and waiting like stock brokers for their chance to turn a quick buck with something they see as nothing more than a commodity. They stand apart, at the ready to raise property taxes and muscle out what is often the cultural backbone of these city-bordering towns and pat one another on the back for “cleaning it up”. But in the heart of Dalston last month, I finally saw the merging of two social layers into something not only mutually beneficial but unselfconsciously beautiful.
It began when experimental architecture collective EXZYT saw an opportunity to pirate an unused lot behind Dalston Kingsland Junction to build a 16 meter high temporary mill where land artist Agnes Denes had planted a lush wheat field thus giving life to an endless germination of ideas, all with the intent of bringing the local community together and raising issues of sustainability, economy and ownership. It played host to workshops, screenings, music, dance
In a call and response kind of ……. EXZYT, commissioned by the Barbican as part of Radical Nature, literally built upon Denes’ concept by turning the disused lot (often the hive of criminal activity in cities) into the site for a wind powered mill. EXYZT’s wild haired and bighearted architect/artist Nicolas Henninger and Celine Condorelli, whose sleep in tents amid the mill’s scaffolding, refer their temporary autonomous zones as “pirate architecture”. The idea being to create spaces which, rather than dictate its use, leaves it open to its neighbors to determine how it will be used. And use it they did! Try to keep up…
The mill was used to grind flour which was used to bake bread in ovens which open to the public. Anyone who desired to came and baked whatever they brought, drank from the wooden open air bar which twinkled with wind power and catered to a nightly flocking of local families and hipsters alike drawn to the wheat gazing deck chairs and nightly DJ, whose equipment was powered by cycles. No shortage of well developed cycle muscles in this neighborhood!
Every day saw a new manifestation of the space. A lab coat wearing urban psychoanalyst did research by asking questions like “if Dalston wear a fruit what would it be?”. Scarecrows were created to protect the wheat field, a gaffer tape poet pronounced his thoughts across the wood planks, and a local currency was baked with the help of world renowned baker Dan Lepard Even the super cool owner of local but now defunk jazz bar 4 Aces Club was a nightly fixture, ready to recount tales of its experimental jazz heyday in the 60′s staging the likes of Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, The Sex Pistols and Bob Dylan.
And in the most elegant example of this project’s cycle, Alexandre Bettler hosted a workshop in which participants could bake everything from the utensils and trays upon which their dinner would be served.
Although many a plea was voiced for this amazing catalyst to remain, it’s clear from all the smiling faces present that beyond the connections made, thoughts provoked and fun had was the distinctive flavor of Dalston’s pride.
Whitechapel is predominantly a local gallery for local people. It’s free, this it’s accessible and thanks to a hefty refurb, dosage a total pleasure to peruse as your leisure. We went to see the annual output from the East End Academy which has run since 1932 and is year focusing on painting in all it’s many glorious forms. From over 600 submissions, generic 12 painters were selected for the show. The three exhibitors that caught our eye were abstract artist Henrijs Preiss, spray paint patterner Luke Dowd and nature’s friend Andy Harper. The show took up the wall space of the downstairs Gallery 2, nicely arranged and annotated the huge variety of art work provided much insight into the current state and mood of contemporary painting.
The Latvian born artist Henrijs Preiss is strongly influenced by medieval religious icons from the Italian Renaissance and Russian icons, and was exhibited in last year’s Royal Academy Summer Show. He combines his own knowledge and artistic skills to portray abstract and architectural paintings. The images have a more structured and mathematical feel, the spiral and continuous lines resemble the construction of a clocks mechanics, whilst having and overall feel of time travel from old to new. Living and working in Hackney, he deals mainly with acrylic paints on hard wooden boards, and his works are reminiscent of 1920s art deco motifs and faded Hollywood glamour.
Luke Dowd heralds from New York and studied painting at the Sarah Lawrence College before completing his Masters in London. He uses readily available materials such as spray paint and found paper to recreate a mythical take on diamonds. The diamonds seem to glisten, reflect and refract light. The precious nature of the stones have appeared to retain their desired qualities and values, but still offer glimpses of a more desirable life we may aspire to.
Harper’s paintings have references of natural landscapes, whilst using colourful oil paint as a medium. The smooth and glossy finish has a slightly surreal though breathtaking impact which begs for a closer examination to appreciate the detail. Harper lives and work between Cornwall and London, the pairing of country and city ways is clearly demonstrated in his work with the theme of the natural world depicted in the bold, edgy brushstrokes.
While up and coming artists constantly push, stretch and redefine the boundaries of creative mediums through which to express themselves, what this exhibition proves is that painting is far from being an old worldly means of creating artwork, and celebrates the well deserving masters of this format.
Until 30th August
Tuesday – Sunday: 11am – 6pm
Thursday: 11am – 9pm
Artists include: Varda Caivano, Robert Holyhead, Henrijs Preiss, Luke Dowd, Andy Harper, Guy Allott, Emily Wolfe, Zara Matthews, Bruno Pacheco, Daniel Kelly, Cullinan Kelly.
Damn, about it these kids put me in the shade.
But so they should, search because while I am quietly proud of writing for Amelia’s Magazine, my newest discovery Riot Jazz are quite the over-achievers. Not content with starting a wildly successful night in the clubs of Manchester (and from the embryo of this, creating their band), they are playing festivals, recording an album….. and plan to start a record label. Stop, I can’t keep up!
But wait, that’s not the best bit about Riot Jazz. I didn’t tell you what kind of music they play. So… deep breath; it’s a mixture of live hip hop, swing, dub step and aggressive jazz – all done by a 15 piece, big brass band. Establishing themselves pretty much as the only band in the world who can describe their music in such a way, Riot Jazz are announcing themselves in the loudest way possible. As I happened to be weaving my way through the Big Chill this past weekend, cider in hand, and Riot Jazz had a weekend residency in the packed out, forest themed Red Bull Cola Branch and Root Cafe, I thought it only right that I should find out more about them.
As the video shows, watching them in action is somewhat of a frenetic free fall; should all of these musical genres work together so well? With such enthusiasm and talent, these boys pull it off effortlessly. The energy is infectious, wherever they play, the crowd go wild. The MC Chunky divided his time between the stage and the audience, occasionally passing the mike over to the eager front row, and letting them throw a few shouts in. The band clearly have a cast iron rapport with their audience, who in turn were appearing in droves, filling up the tent and spilling out into the outside areas.
Later, I sat down with some of the guys from this merry troop to discuss quite where and how their sound came about. Sitting in a diner booth which was improbably positioned up against a side of a field, our chat took many glorious and unexpected turns, (much like their music) from casual drop ins from other members of the band, to a phone call from Chunky’s mum half way through to sort out who had the back door key to their house. While Chunky fielded the domestic issues, I asked Axel, Tom and Nick to describe their music. “It’s a mixture of big bass, wobbly bass, swing, aggressive jazz and funk. We’re really influenced by the sounds of New Orleans and like that kind of music, our band crosses genres and there are a lot of a different angles to the sound” Tom tells me. So is it a collective – or is there a core group of people who make up Riot Jazz? “There are usually about 10 musicians who play together, but when we are all present, and all have our instruments, there are 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, guitarists, singers and a drummer, and there are some venues where that will not all fit in, so it depends on the venue and the night ” Axel explains, adding that as well as the MC’s, they have guest appearances by artists such as Jenna G. So I think that we have established that the stage is crowded – what about the audience? “On our first night”, Tom recalls with a laugh, “We played in a club that had a capacity of 180, and 500 people turned up” Axel picks up the thread, explaining to me how it all came about. ” We had started a club night called Riot Jazz – I was in halls with Tom and we were both obsessed with brass music, and love the sound that brass gets. In Manchester there is not enough of that kind of live music. And when we started there were not a lot of club nights that offered that kind of atmospheric experience.” We discuss the revival of Big Brass sounds, with the likes of Mark Ronson being one of the many artists who are cutting records that use brass musicians.
At this point, another member of the band wonders past, this time it is one of their trumpeters. He tells me about the previous nights gig, gives me some cider and offers me his sunglasses to wear. A conversation ensues about last nights performance, which all agreed was phenomenal. The guys love their residency at the Red Bull Cola/Branch & Root cafe, which always gives them a stellar turn out. We chat about the unexpected events at the ‘secret’ side of the tent, where a weird and wonderful experience is taking place, one which involves erupting volcanoes, woodland nymphs, and a chalice full of Red Bull Cola, which is like nectar for me after too many a festival induced late night. I ask where else they have played recently, and Nick tells me about their set at Camp Bestival and their performance at the Mad Ferret Festival in Croatia, who they are keen to work with in future endevours.
So what’s next? An EP will be coming out in the next few months, and more touring will be taking place “Check our MySpace for details” Tom says. As we chat, I realise that I can’t think of a more deserving band to make it big. So are their heads already being turned by the excesses of the music world? They muse on the rite of passage for bands; throwing a T.V out of a hotel room window. “Actually we found a discarded T.V set near our tent last night” Tom recalls, “It’s obviously the cliche to throw it out of your hotel window, but we were in a tent so we rolled it down the hill instead – it was the thought that counts”, they laugh, “and it made us feel like rock stars”. I get the definite impression that the big things to come for Riot Jazz will be more of a solid confirmation of their status.
Hailing from the same North London “talent factory” as Bombay Bicycle Club and Cajun Dance Party, pills frYars is 19 year old, see one-man-band, health Ben Garett, who possesses a complexity and maturity of sound unmatched by these school peers.
Following two successful EPs, Garett releases a competent debut long player, ‘Dark Young Hearts’, offering a closer look into his world of ominous vocal-electro symphonies.
This debut collection of fantastical stories is not short of juicy topics, featuring adultery, revenge, deception, foul play and cannabalism. A change of pace and tone is heard on A Last Resort where Garett goes all lo-fi folk on us, romantically asking for “a woman with hands.” And not that FrYars is necessarily linked to psychic ability, but he eerily penned one song about a missing girl called Madeline, pre- McCann tragedy.
A true bedroom producer, Garett’s story-telling compositions start at his piano and are given a meatier sound with some computer wizardry, some of which was provided in the studio by Clor‘s Luke Smith.
Comparisons with this young chap are aplenty – ones to fellow eccentric youngster Patrick Wolf are not unfounded, as the two seem to share the same fondness for classical composition fused with gut-wrenching electro beats and synthetic pop. These fancies are exemplified in ‘The Ides’ and ‘Visitors,’ where dark Dave Gahan style verses play battle with relatively pop Pet Shop Boys sounding choruses. Both of which demonstrate a theatrical vocal delivery with an annunciation akin to Jarvis Cocker’s.
FrYars may have been raised and educated in the same locale as many of his musical peers, but with this intriguing freshman offering it remains to be seen whether this singer-songwriter will graduate into the big league.
Two years after releasing his debut album, adiposityside effects Jeremy Warmsley is back with this cheeky taster of what’s yet to come. It’s not as if we need any more of these quirky male singers but this half English, half French philosopher chances his luck with help from his poetical lyrics and sweet melodies.
‘The Boat Song’ sees Warmsley dueting with Emmy the Great on a tale of the love sick and the sea sick. The trouble with this little folksy number is that it sounds old before it’s time. It’s one thing taking a ‘traditional’ approach to song craftsmanship and another sounding like your middle-aged parents around the piano at a family get together.
Much more agreeable is the cover of New Order’s Temptation, turning their synth sound on its head with this heartfelt, paired down piano version. Maybe I’m just biased due to a pretty big crush on Joy Division and, like the lyrics say, I really do have grey eyes, but Warmsley has definitely made this his own without straying too far from the original.
This stopgap single is not to be included on his forthcoming album followers should be clamoring to get hold of this little taster.
A space age set greets you upon walking into the exhibition room at LCF, abortion instead of the normal display of graduate’s work, there is a wall of postcards and 7 giant softly lit light boxes. It transpires that the postcard of your choosing should be placed on the light boxes for you to interactively view the portfolio of your chosen graduate. In this way, LCF aims to give as many graduates the chance to be seen. Although a clever idea, we found several postcards that looked promising but revealed less impressive portfolios. Likewise, there were probably postcards we didn’t pick up on the glance of the inviting image and could have missed out on discovering the future of fashion.
Hidden in the mountain of postcards we did find one or two gems. In the Design/Clothing section Jourdan Caroline Hammond’s postcard stood out for its eye-catching structured surrealism and her portfolio revealed more delights. Her fascination lies in the ghoulish rather than the girlish, as pieces used graphic lines and stark, minimal colour whilst models faces were morbidly replaced by deer heads. Junko Masuda’s take on fruit, made 5 a day exceptionally easy to digest, with a juicy cherry bag calling card which when placed on the glass uncovered more fruity offerings.
A favourite in the Design/Textiles was Samantha Whittle’s tent dress with woodland animal prints topped with chiffon icing. Layered collars and cute buttons added a child-like quality resulting in wearable dresses rather than fantastical creations. Similarly, Shoko Ishikawa’s pleated folds and subtle whale prints, resulted in a killer take on origami. Delicately feminine blouses stayed on the right side of librarian prim and were enticing without flashing any flesh.
Design/Footwear provided a playground for the designer’s imaginations to run away. Tengiz Chketiani’s macabre marriage of taxidermy and footwear would have Bjork at the top of the waiting list. Admittedly the shoes would be tricky to run for the bus in, with doves in flight and wild roses upon your feet, but they would make an amazing collectors piece. Sae Rom Jun seemed to take inspiration from a night at the pub. Reclaimed materials were used to create shoes topped with curls from Fosters cans and heeled with cone shaped wood, resulting in an extremely wearable design.
Often playing second fiddle to Womenswear, we pulled out a few new talents in the field of Menswear category. Tae-Hyoung Kim inventively draped and flowed oversized cardigans and vests paired with knee length shorts. These grown-up schoolboys looked remarkably chic in their simple knit shapes and bowler hats. Shouting a little louder than the rest Robin Murray Switzman’s zig-zag prints wouldn’t look out of place within the pages of a comic. The ‘Biff, Bang, Wallop’ clothes translate into fun and fresh pieces in the usually sober world of menswear.
Image-making presents some of the most visually arresting postcards and had our greedy mitts grabbing for handfuls. Showcasing all the fun of the fair, Jooyoung Lee’s self styled photographs bring colour to the familiar grimy streets of East London. Party hats and paper shapes entice the viewer into a make believe world of colourful escapism. Away from the streets and into an ethereal woodland wonderland, Luke Christopher Castillo turned ballerinas into butterflies. The elusive creatures, with fleshy toned clothes and candy floss hair look like they could easily flutter away. Blink and you’ll miss them.
The Looking Glass reflects many talented individuals who have unfortunately been stifled by all the fancy technology. Rather than a platform for student’s work, it felt like a trade show, where every designer was just a commodity. Whilst forward thinking, the idea seems detrimental in not seeing the physically finished product.
I was under the impression that music was supposed to warrant feelings. Be it loathing or loving. In the former, generic making you curse the day you ever heard that loathsome band’s name – and the latter compelling you to get excited and dance around like an escapee of an asylum, or whatever it is you do to express your excitement. I’ll concede that most albums lie in the less extreme, liking or disliking being the general sentiment. With a small space being reserved for ambivalence, which is where Picturebox comes in, playing their self proclaimed blend of lo-fi pop. However lo-fi, surely their debut album ‘Beans & Bones’ was not supposed to feel like a session band playing in the pub. An above average session band, but still, the over-all sense is of inoffensive background music.
There is nothing wrong with this blend of bluesy tinged garage and melodic pop; but it’s music that just doesn’t go anywhere. They play their instruments well – melodies are nicely arranged, lyrics are well written – but none of these elements approach noteworthy significance, as songs seem to just plod along. Occasionally mediocrity gives way to moments of promise. Not quite the warm fuzzy feeling, but close. Songs like ‘Jennifer’s Brother’ and ‘Beans and Bones’ stick in your head a little bit more, with sliding guitars which definatley work well, even if they become ever so slightly repetitive. ‘England has Perverted Me’ is nicely melodic, but in places slips into boring territory, and I could imagine ‘The Accuser’ being used on a BBC 3 drama series.
Inoffensive middle of the road music serves its time and place. For me, badly sung along to while on a car journey, whilst taking breaks from eye spy. Many bands have made successful careers out of peddling inoffensive offerings, but there is usually a certain je ne sais quoi accompanying it, which elevates these sing-a-long bands to something infinitely more appealing.
Fashion and photography are a match made in creative heaven .Their relationship has delivered a catalogue of iconic images over the years, visit capturing the designer’s masterpieces and voicing the mood and style of the era.
This summer Kingston College are showcasing work from their National Diploma in Fashion and Clothing and HNC Photography courses. The show enables us to see the garments up close and personal next to its photography equivalent.
Although close in proximity to my home, price this was my first visit to Penny School Gallery. Upon opening the small gate at the entrance I immediately heard the hum of numerous voices in conversation, help alongside the slop of apples falling into glasses. After being greeted by a smiling student with a wonderful choice of Pimms, wine and juices, I started to scour the room. A camera at the far side filmed the large crowd of attendees as if we ourselves were part of a catwalk show of our own. It was amusing to watch people as they bashfully ducked or caught secret sneak peaks at themselves on the screen!
In the main area I was pleased to have the opportunity to look through the student’s sketchbooks. I recall at art school being enthralled by them, often finding them an arena where you see the artist/designer’s imaginations and thought-processes in a beautifully refreshing and honest way. Seeing how the ideas develop and how they are noted down through scribbles, sketches and tear- outs was truly fascinating.
After several minutes spent contemplating in a world of my own, my thoughts were distracted by a beacon of orange to my right, forcing me to whirl around and face Michelle Liu’s New Genre hooded dress coat. Putting my prejudices towards the famously difficult-to-wear colour aside, I have to say I was impressed with how the garment looked on the runway film playing next to it.
Another piece which caught my attention was Anna Melkova’s hooded dress with its luxurious pink quilted lining against an embroidered black outer. Becky Hensman and Sarah Glover’s designs, although muted and predominately monochrome, both captured popular trends. Their use of PVC and silk created a sort of sexy work- wear appeal.
In terms of wear-ability and personal taste if Id had a larger bag I would have whisked Kelly Hyland’s dress away (joking of course!). Its feminine tie straps and hand printed designs soaked in gloriously fresh and summery hues, would team perfectly with a pair of my gladiator sandals at home.
The New Underground section saw Zaina Ahmed, Alex Gibson and Jennifer Withnall take inspiration from the S/S 08 collections with hemlines rising to an alarming height. Like Luella and Mui Mui the dresses combined cute and sexy – a great look for the young fashion savvy.
All the students showed some promise whether it is was through great craftsmanship, their ability to tap into trends or classic styles, innovative ideas, capturing a mood or idea through image or enhancing the appeal of the designs. It will be exciting to see how they progress over the next few important years, and who knows, they may someday be able to hold the flag for British fashion.
Being in Exeter for a few days, mind I decided to take a slice of Devonian arty goodness in the form of Axel Antas‘ exhibition at Spacex Gallery. Originally from Finland, Axel Antas is the latest artist to be influenced by his natural environment, which is so distinctive of South West art.
On first walking in, there was a room with a delicate pencil sketching of woodlands. The faint markings lead you to believe there may be fog in the way, leaving a ghostly feel.
Passing into another room, there is a series of photographs taken in the Catalan Pyrenees. Bird boxes placed in natural landscapes apparently ‘represents man’s failed attempt to converge with the landscape.’ There is a bare loneliness to the photos and the bird boxes add a surprising addition to the otherwise untouched landscape. It as if man’s hopes to engage with nature by building bird boxes has failed as it is gaping apparent they are not meant to be there. All the results are oddly discomforting, with the man made boxes looking frail and sad.
‘Intervention’, a series of photos taken of park landscapes with an added fake mist, enhances the otherworldly melancholy world he is so preoccupied with. He explains the fake mist as his attempt at ‘mimicking nature and momentarily changing the landscape.’ With a film screening of a picturesque park in spring, with hardly anything happening, you feel as if you are sat at a park bench in a private reverie, contemplating the peaceful view in front of you. Similarly around the corner is another larger screening of a foggy area where the screen gradually becomes clear to reveal woodlands.
I left the Spacex Gallery at odds with what I had just seen. There is a simplicity to his work and a lingering loneliness that hangs like the mists he artificially introduces to his works. Added to this, the deadening lack of noise in the gallery is palpable which only leaves you feeling isolated, which is surprising since the exhibition space is tiny. The pieces work well together and it is as if the mists spread it’s silent tentacles into your consciousness without you knowing it! Not exactly an upbeat way to spend your afternoon, but definitely worth a peek for those wanting to engage with hauntingly romantic and poetically beautiful pieces.
With a jingle as catchy as ‘Smelly Cat’, Wave Machines walk the tightrope of cheese, but balance it out with a synth-bass heavy and loopy keyboard melody. Twangy guitars, an inane chorus and cowbells also feature to make this as good as ice-cream.
Wave Machines have been called Liverpool’s third best new band, and judging by this piece of rhythmic joy they will be ousting the un-named bands from the top spots. A big claim, some might say, but Wave Machines have set sail and it’s definitely full speed ahead. Plus, if The Zutons are included it shouldn’t be too difficult.
I was so confused about this band to begin with. First of all by their name, sildenafil but let’s not get into that because who can really say what makes a good or bad band name; and then secondly by the fact they’re from France, but they sound so American. More American in fact than the sound of a severely obese man’s gut rumbling with pangs of hunger because he’s only on his 15th corn dog of the day. Put it this way, they sing about Jack Nicholson, in a style that’s somewhere between The Beach Boys and Johnny Cash and one of them is called Alex Banjo. How much more American can you get?
All this however is best ignored, as there is a lot of substance beyond all this baffling geography. Primarily in the fact that it meets one of the most important criteria for a good album – you can happily listen to it from beginning to end.
Individually tracks like ‘See The Future’, ‘Jack Nicholson style’ and ‘Time Bomb’ stand alone as really great songs, perhaps because they’re more buoyant than the rest of the album. That’s not to say the more sultry songs aren’t any good, they make the album well balanced – like the best of movies you’re taken from the lowest lows to the highest highs with very little time spent in between.
I love the style of this band. They seem to rip off so many people you can’t work out exactly who they’re trying to emulate. So in conclusion, I’ve decided it’s best not to think too hard about it, and just enjoy it for the fact that it gets my feet a tappin’.
The Brick Lane Gallery opened their space up to street artists (accepting submissions via email) a while back, dosage resulting in the first ‘Free For Wall!’ exhibition last month. David Le Fleming, more aboutGemma Compton and Sunil Pawar were amongst the raw talent showcased in the last exhibition, but the gallery must have been in-undated with creatives hopefuls because yesterday saw the sequel of ‘Free For Wall!’ with the aptly titled ‘Free For Wall! part 2′. This time around we were promised ‘a strong selection of artists’ which would include ‘very new faces from all over the world’, so I was really looking forward to the private view.
Entering the gallery a huge Max Wiedemann canvas immediately grabbed my attention. With dripping bright colours sending up the glossy magazine lifestyle, it was a knock out start to the exhibition.
After such a vibrant impact on the senses, it was great to discover more intricate works were on display too. Having a soft spot for collage I was really taken with Brazillian creative, and sometime tattoo artist, Rodrigo Souto‘s cut and paste series. The sacred and the sensual were naughtily combined, along with stamps and postcards that lent a nostalgic feel.
Ben Lawson‘s intricate, almost scientific, beetle drawings and Jenism’s detailed tarot illustrations were also worthy of note for their delicate aesthetics.
In the not so delicate category came the work of Agent Provocateur, an artist from the stencil and spray can school of graffiti. With an image of a transvestite Prince Charles on the loo (entitled Royal Flush), I’m sure Agent Provocateur raised a few eyebrows and evoked a few chuckles. However, after seeing many a Banksy inspired stencil around Shoreditch, it’s a ‘satirical’ humour that I am personally becoming a bit tired of.
It’s always interesting to see how galleries go about showcasing street art, since graffiti is such an urban creature and can be difficult to contain. The Brick Lane Gallery had an interesting way to deal with this challenge however, mixing pieces sprayed directly onto found objects with others classically contained within gold frames. The unusual relationship between street-art and high-art was not lost on printmaker Since, whose playful images of famous artists brandishing spray cans captured the juxtaposition beautifully.
Well established artist Part2ism (was the exhibition partly named in honour of him?!) was given pride of place with his immense, glistening jigsaw piece dominating a whole wall of the gallery.
Last, but most definately not least, Carlos Zuniga’s work held my attention before I left the show. From afar this set of illustrations hadn’t looked like much but, on closer inspection, they proved to be some of the deepest and most rewarding images on display. Working with a telephone directory, Zuniga had carefully crossed out names and numbers until features of faces had come into view. It’s not until you look at Zuniga’s website, however (and see that this project is comprised of other works made up of hundreds of local directory pages), that you realise the enormity of what this artist has achieved. Mind boggling!
The Brick Lane Gallery will be welcoming visitors to live spray painting performances from some of the exhibiting artists on Sunday the 13th. So go, enjoy the exhibition, and then be inspired by seeing how it’s done! Roll on ‘Free for Wall! part 3′!
Photo: Kenda Benward
Simone White appears frail and attentive, more about eyes wide and thoughtful, generic looking upwards for most of our interview, try as if searching for answers in the empty space above her. She is expressive and reflective, approachable and natural.
When she sings her voice is sharp yet woollen; shrouded in a hollow blouse of silkiness that echoes as it leaves her mouth. She found her ‘true voice’ in New York, after “a really big break up of a marriage. I went through a lot of heartache. It transformed me in a way. I was singing songs I had sung before but that I had cloaked lyrically in a prose style, or that were very literary, carried over from the books I read in my teenage years. I remember singing a song, and thinking: “I’m saying all these metaphors, but what am I really saying?” And [after that] I felt like I was getting to the heart of it, and I stopped being afraid to sing beautifully. All these things I had done stylistically before, through all these fears and insecurities, were just burying my self. Now, this is how it comes out naturally.”
She is currently working on material for a follow-up to ‘I Am The Man’, and will start work recording it in September. ‘I Am The Man’ was released in June last year and was produced by Lambchop’s Mark Nevers – who chose to record it in his house in Nashville.
Simone’s real break, financially more than anything, has been the use of ‘The Beep Beep Song’ for the Audi R8 TV advert, a track composed on little more than a whim and a coincidence: “I was saying goodbye to this guy that I thought I was in love with, but I sort of knew that I wasn’t. These two cars outside said to the other, they beeped in perfect time back and forth: “beep”, “beep”, like the beginning notes of the song. And I said “Hey! Did you hear that?!” I said “I’m going to write a song about that” and he said “I’m going to as well”. But he never did, and that very day I sat down and wrote it. Sometimes they just come up fully formed – breaking forth like Athena.”