Amelia’s Magazine | Dorothy Iannone at Berlinische Galerie – an interview with curator Dr. Annelie Lütgens


Statue of Liberty.

When I received an email telling me about the new Dorothy Iannone at the Berlinische Galerie I decided to delve deeper and find out more about this enigmatic and influential Berlin based artist, whose vast range of artwork is rich in pattern, humour and eroticism. I caught up with curator Dr. Annelie Lütgens (pictured below) to find out more.

A Portrait of Dr. Annelie Lütgens

Why do you think it is important to bring Dorothy Iannone to a wider audience?
Dorothy Iannone is, simply, one of the most fascinating female artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Her artistic career, which has spanned over fifty years, is entirely unique, and is, as such, quite valuable in terms of art history. Above that, Iannone is one of the most important artistic spirits concerning the struggle against censorship, as well as for women’s sexual and intellectual emancipation. As such, it is incredibly important to show her work, which has up until recently been distinctly undervalued, addressing all aspects of her art, in a city which was so important to her career.


Big Baby.

How does she create her artworks and what are the main themes (for someone not acquainted with the artist)?
Iannone’s works are created through any number of mediums. The retrospective starts at the end of the fifties with her Abstract Expressionist work, and continues through to the sixties where her work became more and more figurative, personal and sexual. This process can be followed through the exhibition. You can see not only paintings and drawings with texts and narrative, but also video boxes, for example. Throughout her career, she has experimented with painting, felt pen, collage, has combined drawing with text and letterings, using all manner of materials and formats. Her work includes painting, visual narrative, autobiographical texts, music, film and more. Her themes, however, are quite singular, always focussing on the idea of ecstatic love, free love, autonomous female sexuality and the sexual union between man and woman as a spiritual one.


Let the light from my lighthouse shine on you.

What aspects of her life inspired the mystical and spiritual dimension that is present in much of her artwork?
The mysticality of Iannone’s works is inextricably bound to her exploration of human sexuality. Human figures began to emerge in her works in the mid-60s, beginning to evolve around love and sex following her relationship with Dieter Roth from 1967-1974. During this time, Iannone created pieces that depicted sequences from her relationship and pictoral narratives, in which the figures, often named Dieter and Dorothy, were, whether clothed or naked, always depicted as sexual beings with visible, if not prominent, genitalia. At the same time, in the 1970s, more distinctly mythological and historical figures began to appear in her work, like The White Goddess, Penthesilea and Cleopatra: strong, self-assured women, facing men with a mixture of wit and sensuality. From 1984, Iannone began to practice Tibetan Buddhism, and her following work reflected her interest in religious questions along with the realities of love, depicting the meeting of men and women as a mystical union that transcends individuality.


My caravan.

Why did Dorothy move to Berlin and why was that move so important?
Iannone moved to Berlin in 1976 following her reception of a grant from the DAAD’s Artist’s program. Her early years in the city could easily be labelled one of the most important periods of her career. During those years in Berlin, Iannone drew a number of multipartite series that are now ranked among her most major works. The Berlin Beauties, for example, which includes 70 drawings, is both a poetic invocation of a fictional lover and a declaration of her love for Berlin. The 48 drawings of An Icelandic Saga, made in 1978/83 and 1986, is an autobiographical exploration of her relationship with Roth. Her relationship with the city was, however, quite complicated, as, despite her love for the city, her works were met with little understanding and aroused hardly any interest. So her following series, for example, An Explosive Interlude (1979), focused more on a criticism of the materialism and patriarchal structures in Germany.


The next great moment.

What kind of art does she make today and what kind of life does she lead?
Today, Dorothy Iannone still lives and works in Berlin. In the first decade of the 21st century, she created, for example, a new series of wooden cutouts: The Movie People, interpreting great couples from films like in Morocco, Les Amants, The Piano, or Brokeback Mountain. Beyond that, she now strives to complete the story that has evolved through her works throughout the years, creating not as many new works but continually searching for the appropriate new form in which to bring together unreleased recordings, videos and texts. In the end, it would appear her time now is dedicated more to developing a retrospective of her life and career, as her works maintain a contemporaneity and freshness still today.


The Sheltering Sky Serie Movie People.

Dorothy Iannone: This Sweetness Outside of Time continues until the 2nd of June, so if you are lucky enough to visit Berlin do make sure you check it out. More information here.

Categories ,Alternative, ,berlin, ,Berlinische Galerie, ,Dorothy Iannone, ,Dr. Annelie Lütgens, ,exhibition, ,illustration, ,Outsider, ,Statue of Liberty, ,This Sweetness Outside of Time

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Amelia’s Magazine | Review: Dot-to-Dot Festival 2010, Nottingham

Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova

Animal Bandido are a fashion label with a difference. They’re totally anti-establishment and detest the omniprescent multi-national fashion empires that exploit workers and fabrics, price case and are on a mission to create a renaissance for struggling manufacturers who cannot compete with the big boys.

Their collections range from the vibrant to the downright whacky; weird and wonderful creations which illustrate fruits and other objects make up there range, pharm which includes knitwear, fabulous graphic prints and casual basics with a twist. Viewing their collections draws comparisons to Jean Charles de Castelbajac, nutty nu-raver Carri Mundane and knitwear brand Sibling. I caught up with Zosen and Claudia, aka Animal Bandido, to find out what’s behind this fresh new label…

What made you guys team up and create the street-wear label Animal Bandido?
Claudia: We started to talk about this project in September 2007. I finished studying fashion design a year before that. I was designing my own collections, doing super-limited editions that I sewed on my own.
At the beginning I was sceptical because I had collaborated on projects before, and most of the time it’s very difficult to agree with the ideas of other people. I thought I’d give this one a go because our backgrounds are different, each of us bringing different ideas and ways of working.
Zosen: I printed my designs on t-shirts for years and I collaborated with fashion designers, but I wanted to go forward producing other garments and control the process. Animal Bandido was born to make something in collaboration and use different techniques; Claudia brings her experience with the patterns and fashion design and I with the graphics and design in general.
But, day-to-day, we both take part in every process.

Spring/Summer 2009

What does the label represent for you?
The label represents other way to create pieces and to show our stuff to as many people possible.

Zosen, you are a well known urban artist in Barcelona. What made you move into fashion?
After the zero tolerance law against street art in Barcelona, I decided to use another techniques to spread the word. Using my graphics and colours on clothes, it’s another way to have a presence on the street and give the message to the street’s citizens.
Also, it’s interesting for me to experiment with other media and other people – it’s a great way to learn.

Autumn/Winter 2010

Claudia, tell us more about your background, in fashion?
I studied a degree in Fashion Design in Barcelona and then studied millinery at Central Saint Martins in London, followed by jewellery workshops at Casa Espiral, Barcelona.
I interned with Alberto Tous for his fashion show for Barcelona Fashion Week, and then began designing my own collections and selling them in little shops in Barcelona and Berlin.

What makes you different to big fashion corporations?
Well, there’s only two of us! There are no hierarchies; we work together and are both involved in everything, all the time. We produce everything locally, we pay worthy salaries, and we keep our manufacturing quantities reasonable to avoid waste.

Illustration by Natsuki Otani

Do you think your label is art or fashion led?
Our clothes are fashion, but treated as small pieces of art. We don’t follow the trends or encourage throwaway fashion, as the corporate giants do. We create and manufacture to order (for shops and customers) again to reduce waste.

Do you usually agree on everything? How easy is it to compromise when working as a creative partnership?
Claudia: It depends on the project, normally we just discuss everything thoroughly, allowing both of us to express our point of view. Sometimes Zosen is forced agree with me when we are talking about patterns and shapes or different ways of finishing a garment, but he controls more in graphic and web design!
We always try to be equally satisfied with everything related to the brand.

Autumn/Winter 2010

Do you experiment with anything else apart from clothes?
Zosen: Oh yes! We do many things, the most recent thing being a sculpture to present the new collection, that we installed in our studio to photograph the collection against.
It’s huge and gives so much new life to our studio that we are hoping to relocate it to some public space.
Claudia: Zosen always has a million and one projects on the go: a giant mural for the people on walls in London, an exhibition of customised records in Rome…
Now I’m coming up with a few surprises for September for Animal Bandido.

Illustration by Yuann Shen

What does Animal Bandido support?
We support the national textile industry in Spain, as opposed to the over-production and the exploitation of the third world. We pay people fairly. We’re behind a renaissance of the companies that became obsolete as a result of insurmountable production levels in third world countries; we want to give the possibility of growth to small companies so it’s not just the yucky multinationals that dominate the local market.

What makes Animal Bandido unique?
Our fabrics have our own original and unique designs printed on them. We make no more than 100 items per piece, so they are truly limited edition. When you consider that we now sell in Basel, New York, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Zaragoza, Sweden and Nottingham and our pieces are divided between those places, there aren’t many per country.

Autumn/Winter 2010

What’s up next for Animal Bandido?
For the summer we’re launching printed bikinis and swimwear; lightweight hoodies using prints from the collection and a new, retro-inspired one. We’re also looking at launching accessories.

Another year, seek another bank holiday at the start of the summer, sale and another edition of the Dot-to-Dot Festival, sickness a sprawling mess of bands and audience occupying venues and bars in cities up and down the land. This year sees it spread from birthplace Nottingham and second city Bristol to Manchester, taking in three regional centres that, it could be argued, have long lacked massive centrally-located indie festivals to call their own and to ground their musical calendars.

Thanks to a snail-paced jam on the M1 we missed the first band of the day (Frontiers, in Rock City’s main hall) – instead, the day began for us in Rescue Rooms with the lads of The Cheek, who sadly failed to sparkle in the mood of the glorious sun twinkling down outside. Their name may bring to mind something skinny and sharp from the late 70s but the lead singer’s suit certainly didn’t. It looked like he’d borrowed it from his dad. Their poppy punk sound came across like a sort of watered-down Suede, which held my interest for all of ten minutes before I headed out for a wander.

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Trent SU, the second-largest of the venues at the festival, had what seemed to be the most appealing consistency in acts, even if it meant foregoing Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts (both bands having appeared at previous editions of the festival, however, and both bands were, inevitably, awesome – also, it illustrates just how frequently Dot-to-Dot manages to pick out the next big bands mere months before they break).

Small Black were gracing the stage as we arrived – hailing from Long Island, they’re something of a blog darling in corners of the web and I can completely see why. Their music is a very carefully crafted pop that bears a resemblance to geographical cousins like Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, bands that specialise in a kind of laid-back, fuzzy sort of sound. It’s instantly unlike anything specific that you’ll have heard before, but equally, instantly recognisable. The four lads manage to balance melancholy, longing, joy and ecstasy in a way last seen regularly in the films of John Hughes.

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Upstairs in the bar, Islet were going through their usual routine of tearing up the stage. I’ve been an ardent fan of theirs since their lead singer screamed in my face back in March when they supported Los Campesinos! at the Koko in Camden – their bizarre mélange music, all drum circles and hollering and ambient noise and funk grooves and… oh, why bother with a description when I can offer a demonstration:

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Back downstairs, and Washed Out (or, rather, New York resident Ernest Green) has taken to the stage with his tripped-out ambient house and his friends (and geographic neighbours) in Small Black join him, adding extra layers to his sound. The clash with Blood Red Shoes appeared to have left the audience numbers a touch low, but nobody there regretted their decision – there’s something of the madchester in Washed Out’s sound, like a chilled-out evening at the Haçienda (or at least how that would seem in my mind). A case could also be made for saying it sounds like Chicago house played on a tape player with low battery. The results, regardless, are wonderful.

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The second of my 50-50 choices then arrived, as Liars won out over Wild Beasts – but can you blame me? The American art-punk band has doggedly refused to stick to any kind of consistent style, with their latest release, Sisterworld, yet another masterful addition to their discography. Lead singer Angus Andrews cuts a demented figure on stage, strutting and preening like a preaching Mick Jagger – his voice, the drawl of a doorstep drunk at 4am, smitten with violence, joyfully spitting the lyrics to ‘Scissor’ like some kind of mental declaration of war. Proper, proper good.

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It is then, unfortunately, something of a timetabling error to follow this violent display with Beach House, a delicate washed-out band that would have sat much more comfortably next to, well, Washed Out. The audience, still somewhat full of bloodlust, is quickly bored and begins to dissipate, which is a terrible shame considering just how brilliant Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully’s sultry Kate-Bush-meets-a-shoegaze dreamscapes are.

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I’ve written at length about how much I love Los Campesinos!, so for some of you it will be no surprise that I’m going to say that their set headlining at Trent SU was something of a triumph. I’m not being biased here, though, in all honesty – this really was a magnificent performance. The crowd, who all day had looked a little bit sun-frazzled and unable to conjure up much more than the occasional whoop (even during Liars there were visible signs of struggle during the rounds of applause), suddenly sparked into life. Jumping! Singing along! Gareth couldn’t have looked happier, and his usually awful singing was merely average. A definite peak for the day.

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Had to take a quick break here, because at this point it had been something like 8 hours of standing up with neither break nor sustenance – I grabbed some a sandwich in the still-open Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, a wonderful establishment that’s at the heart of Nottingham’s alternative music and arts scene. Somewhat a shame, then, that this year it isn’t hosting the acoustic acts – Primavera Sound, held on the same weekend, appears to have snapped up many of the bands and artists who usually make it here, leaving us with a smaller-than-usual Dot-to-Dot. It is inescapable, too, to note that the festival is far from sold out. Usually leaving a venue for another is something of a risk – in previous years it has been impossible to see the headliners on any stage without waiting through several hours’ worth of bands beforehand. The breathing space is a welcome change, but the lack of people inevitably means that the festival feels less like a party.

Yuck took to the stage of the Bodega after midnight, looking every bit like they’d been enjoying the £3 pints of 7% cider in the bar downstairs for the past few hours. Already something of a convert to their cause, having seen them several times around London over the past few months, I’d been waxing lyrical to friends all day about their brand of borrowed-from-the-90s slacker rock. Their stage banter was a little dry, and their response to a call from an audience member for their closest thing to a hit, ‘Georgia’, was met with a deliberate omission of the song from the setlist, meaning that this was not exactly their most friendly appearance, but nevertheless it proved a decent gig.

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Dot-to-Dot ends with Stealth putting on the last of the shows as the night turns slowly into early morning, and after fighting my way inside for the end of Casiokids’ brittle dance set I realised that my day (and my feet) were done. Another excellent bank holiday weekend festival – despite the smaller crowds and slightly smaller lineup, it’s still proving itself one of the most important festivals in the regions that host it, and it also provides an excellent way of kick-starting the festival season.

Categories ,Alternative, ,Annual, ,beach fossils, ,Beach House, ,Blood Red Shoes, ,bristol, ,casiokids, ,Chillwave, ,Dot to Dot, ,festival, ,Frontiers, ,Indie, ,islet, ,liars, ,Los Campesinos, ,manchester, ,Memory Tapes, ,nottingham, ,punk, ,small black, ,The Cheek, ,Washed Out, ,Wild Beasts, ,yuck

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Amelia’s Magazine | Interview: Laura Hocking

Illustration by Georgia Coote

As with all the best new music discoveries, more about my introduction to Laura Hocking and The Long Goodbye began with snippets from light-hearted conversations. By the time that three separate friends, (whose judgement I value deeply) had announced excitedly that they were off to see her play, waxing lyrical about her delicate voice, gorgeous harmonies and all-round One To Watch-ness, I couldn’t resist it any longer. Cut to a few Sunday nights back where I found myself in the top room of the Old Queen’s Head in Angel. So it seemed, did a lot of people; the room was packed – always a good sign! On Saturday night they take this heady brew to Deptford, where they will be playing at the consistently excellent Folie à Deux. The wonder and magic of standing in a converted dairy shed whilst hearing the best of the new alt:folk scene never abates. Laura Hocking and The Long Goodbye describe their sound as ‘folk-tinted freak pop’, which sounds alright by me.

I saw your set at the Old Queen’s Head; I thought it was wonderful, you have a new found fan in me! How did you find the night? 
Thanks! It’s always a nice place to play – the gig was put on by a band we’re friends with so most people knew each other and were into similar music, which makes for a good show. I like the decor in there. Sometimes mid-song you’re faced with yourself in a mirror, which is disconcerting. 

For the uninitiated, can you describe your music? 
 Best description ever came from Jon, who composes music for films. He said it was like biting into a cream cake and finding a razor blade. We call it folk-tinted freak-pop. 

Your Myspace lists a truly expansive and diverse list of influences, and I’m especially intrigued by Expressionism, Edvard Munch, David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman. What is it about expressionism that appeals to you?
Ha, I wrote that a while ago, I haven’t thought about it in a while. I’m fascinated by dark, uncomfortable, macabre things. Expressionism seems to access that place in a person where anxiety and vulnerability meet with violent creativity. Those artists create weird worlds which express their individualism in a ferocious and inventive way, but they also capture elements of human experience that we can all recognise. It rips the scab off of life for you, and I like that. 

 You also mention that your EP is based on “love, anxiety, devastation and renewal”. Do you find writing and performing your songs to be a cathartic process, and has it helped you deal with emotional setbacks?
Writing is always cathartic for me, but the material is not directly about my life. It’s often about all the things I would like to say to people, but don’t have the guts to. So most of my songs are ‘to’ people, rather about them, but I like to hide that message inside a story. It’s a trixy thing to do, I get a kick out of it. If the person wants to find the message, they will.
Writing and performing do help you deal with other parts of your life, because they give you something bigger than yourself to think about. For me, song is bigger than anything.

You are – as yet – unsigned. Do you find it a struggle to do everything yourself (marketing, distribution etc) or do you relish the freedom of being able to navigate your own path? 
It’s been a huge joint effort between me, my band, and our various friends who’ve put together things like the cover design and the website. We’ve really put our heads down and really pushed hard on this release. It’s a hard learning curve, I feel like I’m being schooled and it is quite humbling, but I want to understand how the industry works, and how far we can get under our own steam. It’s going bloody well, we’re more than halfway to selling out our physical stock.
In terms of marketing, music fans are what really count – people who love music and want to support artists and spread the word are a PR force to be reckoned with, and that’s what’s helped me the most. 
Your interests outside of performing: this is when most people say something like “long walks, hanging out with friends”, but you say that you have learnt to brew beer and have written an opera?!  I’m not sure what I’m most impressed by…  First, could you give me some pointers on home brewing, and then could you tell me a little more about the opera that you have written?
The formula for a beer is thus: steep something (could be ginger, nettles, elderflower or grains) in hot water for a few hours. Strain. Add lots of sugar. Cool. Add beer yeast. Sterilise a large container  (like a  5l water bottle) pour it in, top with an airlock (at it’s easiest, this can be a balloon over the neck), and leave for about 10 days. Taste with interest. My current brew is quince wine. You can brew anything, but beware of coconut milk…the fat makes it explode. 

The opera is something me and Dan (violinist) worked on together. It’s a translation and adaptation of La Serva Padrona by Pergolesi, a comic operetta from the C18th. I’m writing the libretto (lyrics) and he’s doing the instumentals. It’s like a musical version of Fawlty Towers. We want to stage it, so we’re looking for a space we can use for free. 

You mentioned that you are originally from West Yorkshire.  Do you miss life up North? I lived in Cornwall as a child and deeply miss the open skies, the countryside, the friendliness of locals, the pace of life – but that could be just me!  –  how do you find being a transplanted Northerner in London?
More than anything, I miss being alone in the countryside. I used borrow a neighbour’s dog and walk for a few hours across fields, and not see anyone at all. I don’t think that the North is necessarily friendlier than the South, but people definitely show their emotions more in public – one person can be having a big moan to their friend on the bus, and other passengers will chip in. In London, many people have their Tube face on all the time. Pubs are friendlier in the countryside. Curry is hotter in Bradford than in Brick Lane. I love meeting other Northerners in London. I get all giddy, like a puppy at the park, and out come my northern vowels.     

What are your plans musically in the next year?  I hope to hear about more songs and more live dates!
I have a lot of studio time ahead of me, with about 15 songs which are ready to be demoed out an arranged. I’m lucky that some very talented people have offered their time and resources to work on songs, which I’m grateful for. When a good proportion of them are in the shape I want them, I’ll be looking to release through a label. It’s quite a flirtatious thing to try and arrange – I’ve had interest from several sources but until the songs are ready it’s difficult to talk in concrete terms. 
There will always be lots of live shows in London, I’ve been offered some gigs in California and New York, so I plan to go there next summer. But more than anything I want to get back to the North and play there. 

Where can we find out more, and get hold of your music?   – as the place to buy music    – my website –  as the best place to network, find gig details and sign up for the mailing list
@laurahocking – my twitter cos I Mary Hampton and Nick Mulvey at Folie à Deux in Deptford.

Illustrations by Georgia Coote, you can find her work here, and here, and follow her on Twitter here.

Original photographs by Anika Mottershaw and Holly Falconer.

Categories ,acoustic, ,Alt:folk, ,Alternative, ,David Lynch, ,Deptford, ,Edvard Munch, ,Expressionism, ,Folie a Deux, ,Ingmar Bergman, ,interview, ,Laura Hocking, ,Laura Hocking and The Long Goodbye, ,live, ,mary hampton, ,music, ,Nick Mulvey, ,Old Queens Head

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Amelia’s Magazine | Best Alternative Christmas Songs of 2015

Charlene Man christmas cat
Christmas scene by Charlene Man.

Tis the season for my annual festive tune round up: my favourite alternative Christmas songs and albums laid out all in one place. As has also become ritual I am also very late in the day – this year the excuse being that I had a baby in August and I’ve also just published my fourth book, Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion. Still, I could not let the opportunity pass me by to dig out the best Christmas tunes for 2015, so here’s what I’ve found on my trawl around the internet.

Brett Beardslee wrote this lovely song about the importance of family for his wife Jesse, Pickin In Pajamas, with a simple but evocative video featuring nostalgic Christmas photos.

American country singer Darryl Gregory is writing a new Christmas song every year, find a whole album here. All proceeds go to Ben’s Lighthouse, supporting youth in his local home town.

Winter_Scene_by Christine Charnock
Winter Scene by Christine Charnock.

The Ragged Flags release an EP called Christmas At My House which features all their Christmas tunes recorded since 2012. The songs are uniformly fab, featuring lyrics such as “the turkey’s too dry but the booze won’t run out”. This year’s offering is a catchy little ditty called Crackers & Maracas, all about the joys of heading abroad for warmer climes during the holiday season.

Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children release a gorgeous Christmas Song, all twinkly bells and soporific vocals.

Yo Sushi releases his seasonal song Happy New Year as a free download here. The Bokeh encrusted video features himself in large fur coat and plenty of tinsel.

Kirsty Almeida takes part in the Christmas album Ska of Wonder by Baked A La Ska, which gives a ska party makeover to many well known songs. Hear album teaser here.

Astrocolor are a Canadian collective who have created an entire album featuring wigged-out prog-rock psych versions of seasonal classics such as We Three Kings and The First Noel. Quite unlike anything you will have heard before. Find Lit Up – Music For Christmas here

Watch a suitably surreal accompanying video below: Love Love.

Becky Becky released Champagne On Christmas Day last year but I sadly missed out then. I absolutely love this! The three songs on this EP are a danceable collection of tunes inspired by the tale of a backstreet abortion in 1920s Paris on Christmas Eve: a typically dark take on the usual festive fayre. You can read my interview about album Good Morning, Midnight (also inspired by the writings of Jean Rhys) here.

Sharon and the Dap Kings can always be relied on to get the party swinging. This year they release It’s a Holiday Soul Party: hear the whole album here.

In the same vein as Dean Martin and Bing Crosby, Benji Hughes agrees that It’s Time to Have a Merry Christmas.

French Finnish duo The Dø sing Have Yourself a Merry Little Xmas in this Casiotone-tastic backstage iphone recording.

Part of the album Suicide Songs, Money release A Cocaine Christmas and an Alcoholic’s New Year, which is seen here performed live at the White Hotel in Salford. One for those who feel like wallowing rather than celebrating.

Ette is is the solo project of Carla J Easton from TeenCanteen. She looks forward to Spending Christmas With My Boy. The song is dedicated to her cat Bez who passed away this year, and celebrates the joy of Christmas time with family. Think jingle bells, the smell of cinnamon candles and a brand new party dress.

Honey & the Bear are a husband and wife folk duo, and all profits from their song Close Your Eyes will go to Children in Need.

Lady Low sings about a Lonely Christmas, complete with sleigh bells and yearning violins.

I am still mourning the loss of the awesome For Folk’s Sake annual Christmas compilations which were once my most reliable source of brilliant alternative Christmas songs (please come back!) but this year you can take advantage of their online Advent Calendar to download some fabulous new music including this track from new wonder Ora Cogan, the plaintive End of Nowhere.

NANNA Prieler illustration-happy-holidays
Illustration by Nanna Prieler.

The Oto Christmas Grotto features 12 Bands of Christmas covering a host of familiar songs in festive studio sessions. Watch Pat Dam Smyth sing Silent Night live on a London rooftop here and catch the rest here.

I also really like Natalie McCool on guitar covering I Believe in Father Christmas.

Irish singer songwriter Wendy Jack shares Woolly Jumpers, a whimsical tune for Christmas.

Owen Tromans has just realised Child Winter, a seasonal song that is accompanied with lovely archive footage, and he will also be releasing a new improvised Christmas song on Christmas Eve here.

Finally, I can’t wait to watch Jingle Bell Rocks! an entire documentary about the people who are crazy about collecting obscure Christmas songs… I can totally relate to these people. This is the sixth year in a row that I have done a round up of alternative festive tunes and I absolutely love discovering what springs up each year. It’s become a dream to release my own Christmas album… so do get in touch if you are a record label that would like to work with me or an artist who would like to be considered for inclusion when I eventually get around to doing this.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you all in 2016!

Categories ,12 Bands of Christmas, ,2015, ,A Cocaine Christmas and an Alcoholic’s New Year, ,Advent Calendar, ,Alternative, ,Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, ,Astrocolor, ,Baked A La Ska, ,Becky Becky, ,Benji Hughes, ,Ben’s Lighthouse, ,Brett Beardslee, ,Carla J Easton, ,Champagne On Christmas Day, ,Charlene Man, ,Child Winter, ,Children in Need, ,Christine Charnock, ,Christmas At My House, ,Christmas Song, ,Christmas Songs, ,Christmas tunes, ,Close Your Eyes, ,Crackers & Maracas, ,Darryl Gregory, ,End of Nowhere, ,Ette, ,For Folks Sake, ,Good Morning Midnight, ,Happy New Year, ,Have Yourself a Merry Little Xmas, ,Honey & the Bear, ,I Believe in Father Christmas, ,Indie, ,It’s a Holiday Soul Party, ,It’s Time to Have a Merry Christmas, ,Jean Rhys, ,Jingle Bell Rocks!, ,Kirsty Almeida, ,Lady Low, ,Lit Up – Music For Christmas, ,Lonely Christmas, ,Money, ,Music For Christmas, ,Nanna Prieler, ,Natalie McCool, ,Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children, ,Ora Cogan, ,Oto Christmas Grotto, ,Owen Tromans, ,Pat Dam Smyth, ,Pickin In Pajamas, ,review, ,Sharon and the Dap Kings, ,Silent Night, ,Ska of Wonder, ,Suicide Songs, ,TeenCanteen, ,The Dø, ,The First Noel, ,The Ragged Flags, ,We Three Kings, ,Wendy Jack, ,Woolly Jumpers, ,Yo Sushi

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Amelia’s Magazine | Album Review – Gang Gang Dance: Eye Contact


It was probably down to skepticism that it took me some time to get into the latest Gang Gang Dance album. After all, erectile how on earth could they follow 2005′s Saint Dymphna, page in which Lizzie Bougatsos & co managed to mix psych, free form, drone, noise, high-pitched vocals, dance, urban music and more using both analog and digital instruments? What could possibly be left to borrow, crush, mash and cover in gold in order to convey the same sort of amazement that any listener of Saint Dymphna must surely have felt at the moment those drums kicked in around minute two of Bebey?

Illustration by Noemi Martinez Santiago.

Well here it is: Eye Contact was released on 4AD on the 9th May… think overwhelming motifs, syncopated velocities, spinning rhythms and sidereal vocals. Paint it all in silver and fluorescent pigments from the brightest star in the sky and you’re quite close to what Eye Contact sounds like. Instead of trying to fullfill similar expectations the album cleverly shifts the focus onto different musical frontiers, taking more inspiration from the electronica with hints of Far Eastern melody. Once again Gang Gang Dance manage to surprise.

Bebey from Saint Dymphna:
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The tracks perfectly intertwine with each other in an almost endless techno-psych trip that can be listened to over and over again. In fact, with its uplifting beat and at times aggressive mood, it’s the perfect album to have on your iPod while whizzing through the heat wave in a city, thinking of faraway tropical paradises and sparkling Bollywood nights.

Illustration by Noemi Martinez Santiago.

The album starts with Glass Jar, an 11 minute masterpiece of spiralling sidereal melodies and cosmic atmospheres. As a wave it gently carries you to ?, a sonic interlude that leads to the core of Eye Contact: Adult Goth, a hypnotizing lullaby in which the glistening keyboards and pressing beats layer with Lizzie Bougatsos’ otherwordly vocals. Chinese High has a syncopated theme and gold dust coloured clinks that sounds more Bollywood soundtrack than anything Chinese. The pulsating Mind Killa is one of the most ‘pop’ tracks on the album, and it has taken over the blogosphere with its whirling motif and tribal beats.

Mind Killa music video:
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Separated by the rest by another two whimsical ? (namely, ?? and ???, little evocative aural curtains) are the last 3 tracks of the album. Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor lends his vocals to one of the most accessible tracks of the album, Romance Layers, a luscious nu(est)-disco post-soul piece that would figure well in the playlist of a party on one of the Saturn rings. Sager and Thru and Thru follow the zigzagging sprawling line traced by the first minute of Eye Contact. Think of silver sunsets on purple beaches and parties on yet-to-be-discovered planets. As I get off my bike a voice claims ‘we are forever’ at the very last second of Thru and Thru and already I could play the album all over again. The ride is over but the energy of this record will stay with me all summer.

Gang Gang Dance will be playing at Animal Collective curated ATP on May 13th to 15th and at XOYO on 16th May. For the luckiest ones, not to be missed is their performance at Primavera Sound, Barcelona on May 26th to 28th. Eye Contact is out now on 4AD.

Categories ,4ad, ,Alexis Taylor, ,Alternative, ,Animal Collective, ,art, ,atp, ,Blogosphere, ,Bollywood, ,Cosmic, ,Eye Contact, ,Gang Gang Dance, ,Hot Chip, ,Lizzie Bougatsos, ,Mind Killa, ,new york, ,Noemi Martinez Santiago, ,Primavera Sound, ,psychedelia, ,Saint Dymphna, ,techno-psych, ,XOYO

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