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Ar t, M u si c , R ee d

Ita l | M elody’s Ech o Ch a mber | Michael Mayer

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Photographer: Paul Whitfield paulwhitfieldphotography.com Featuring: Carlton Douglas Ridenhour // Chuck D

For those who are cracked let the light in: Respect Jack Bolter Columbia Boys Richard TNT Dan Chandler Michael Fish Emma Piercy Kyle Parsley Julian Smith Paul Whitfield Chuck D

Editor Geraint Davies geraint@crackmagazine.net Marketing / Events Manager Luke Sutton luke@crackmagazine.net

has been lying prostrate, helpless and M A G Z I N E alone, at the bottom of Aa gargantuan abyss of a dilemma.

20

There are several things one has to take into account when one of the most profound figures in all of rap music is adorning the front page of your publication. To us, however, one quandary stood head and shoulders above. Should there be a hyphen in hip-hop/hip hop?

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Executive Editors Thomas Frost tom@crackmagazine.net Jake Applebee jake@crackmagazine.net

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Art Direction & Design Jake Applebee Staff Writers David Reed Lucie Grace

Fashion Sola Elle Sheriff Maya Fraser Harmony Eldridge

So finally, gruellingly, we made our decision. Like it or lump it, we’re now hyphen supporters through and through. It may not be correct, but by god, we’re prepared to live and die by our choice. It’s bigger than hip-hop.

Contributors Christopher Goodfellow Mystic Greg Tim Oxley Smith James T. Balmont Josh Baines Tom Howells Robert Bates Claude Barbé-Brown Bee Adamic Adam Corner T. C. Flanagan Tom Wiltshire Duncan Harrison Billy Black Alex Hall Bear Gwills Jack Dolan

Crack Magazine Office 1 Studio 31 Berkeley Square Clifton Bristol BS8 1HP 0117 2391219 CRACK is published by Crack Industries Ltd Advertising To enquire about advertising and to request a media pack contact: advertising@crackmagazine.net

0117 2391219 © All rights reserved. All material in Crack magazine may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of Crack Industries Ltd. Crack Magazine and its contributors cannot accept any liability for reader discontent arising from the editorial features. Crack Magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any article or material supplied for publication or to edit this material prior to publishing. Crack magazine cannot be held responsible for loss or damage to supplied materials. The opinions expressed or recommendations given in the magazine are the views of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of Crack Industries Ltd. We accept no liability for any misprints or mistakes and no responsibility can be taken for the contents of these pages.

But Amazon are running with hip-hop. The fine folk at The Fader seem to lean slightly (if not exclusively) in that direction. Allhiphop.com, despite the domain name, are reppin’ the hyphen hard. And the bible, RZA’s canonical Wu-Tang Manual, is all about the hyphen. If only we’d thought to ask Chuck ... Meanwhile, our Little Oxford English Dictionary? Well, that doesn’t even have an entry. Goddamn honkies. We called the troops together, got the whiteboard out and had a vote. It was a tie. Two of our interns stripped to the waist, one with a hyphen marked clearly on his forehead, and went at it, bare knuckle. It was brutal. It was ferocious. It was a tie.

Intern Tom Sydenham

Illustrations Lee Nutland Tom Mead James Wilson

Our research was nothing if not inconclusive. Hip Hop, according to Wikipedia, is an amalgamation of the African American term ‘hip’, meaning ‘current’, along with ‘hop’, suggestion the ‘hopping’ movement. Guess what? No hyphen. Dead Prez stated that “it” was bigger than Hip Hop. And Egyptian Hip Hop have decided to wander the world completely, almost pornographically, hyphenless.

Oh, and have a real cool Christmas, yeah? And a proper spicy New Year. Geraint Davies

Crack has been created using:

Angry Snowmans - Horror Christmas Black Lips - Boomerang Darkstar - Armonica Future of the Left - Failed Olympic Bid Leon Vynehall - Mauve Parakeet - Toumono Daughter - Youth Amanda Palmer - Do It With a Rockstar The Bronx - Ribcage Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - We No Who U R Ciccone Youth - Addicted To Love Lucero - My Best Girl DVS1 - Evolve The Firebirds - The Munsters Theme Mission of Burma - Academy Fight Song The National - Mistaken For Strangers Melt Yourself Down - We Are Enough Mi Ami - Hard Up The Boneless Ones - Pain in the Vein Lazzy Lung - Dining in the Rain The White Stripes - You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl) Kresy - Day Into The Night

Mercury - Man Le Carousel - Good Times (PK mix)) Armand van Helden - The Funk Phenomena Neil Landstrumm - HL_LM Tiga - Plush How To Dress Well - & It Was U (Pional Rework) Mr. G - One Year Later Night Plane - Heartbeat The Dead 60s - Riot Radio Dinosaur Jr. - Keeblin’ Indians - Somewhere Else Lukas vs Waifs - Gimme Love Michael Mayer - Good Times Bow Wow Wow - Go Wild In The Country Ducktails - Letter of Intent Hype Williams - Gallice Pissed Jeans - Bathroom Laughter Wiki ­- Pretty Picture Iceage - Coalition The Babies - Get Lost Wu-Tang Clan - 7th Chamber pt.2 Allah-Las - No Voodoo

Big L - Put It On Lo-Down  - Mad Fright Night Gil Scott Heron - The Bottle Love - You Set The Scene Captain Murphy - Duality Massive Attack - Group Four Jerry’s Kids - Break the Mold Shed - You Got The Look Crazy P - Heartbreaker Ital - Boi Guillaume And The Coutu Dumonts - The Drums Steve Rachmad - Rotary DJ Rashad - Twitter Nirvana - Mr Moustache Talking Heads - Heaven MJ Cole feat. Wiley - From The Drop Dam Mantle - Brothers Fowl Holy Other - (W)here METZ - Headache Julio Bashmore - Pelican Warpaint - Shadows Tamaryn - Mild Confusion


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9

3 TU N E S // C O NTE NTS

CRACKMAGAZINE.NET

P UB L I C E N E M Y - 14 Raki m U pl i f t B r ot h e r A l i U ncl e S am Goddamn S on of B az e r k Chang e T he S t y l e I TA L - 2 0

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C R A C KC A STS // the national inter v iew // With The National on the verge of curating their very own All Tomorrow’s Parties Nightmare Before Christmas at Camber Sands, featuring an exhilarating array of acts including Wild Beasts, Kurt Vile and the Violators, The Antlers, Perfume Genius and Lower Dens, Crack spoke to Scott Devendorf, bassist of the iconic Brooklynites, about their own experiences of ATP and the appearances to look out for over the weekend.

War pai nt T he Fool Om ar S oul e y m an H i g hw ay t o H assak e Th e S pi nanne s S t rand M E LODY ’ S E C H O C H A M B E R - 2 6

Since we last spoke we’ve added two very different, but equally stunning beasts to the arsenal of mixes we’ve got on offer. First up came a varied and dynamic set from the hugely respected Ewan Pearson, building from delicate electronic grooves to resounding arpeggio-led techno, followed shortly by Visionquest golden boyz Footprintz with a gorgeous selection of influences and current picks. Also, keep your peepers sharp for a long-awaited festive selection from Crack resident house and disco heartthrobs Pardon My French in the very near future.

S e l da B acgan D am Ü st üne Cul S erer C onnan M ockas i n Forev er D ol phi n L ov e Wom e n Bl ack R i ce N E A S D E N C ON TRO L C E N TRE - 2 8 Tam e I m pal a L oneri sm Ps y ch e m agi k H eal i n’ Feel i n C h r i s t oph e r Rau Tw o YO L A TE N GO - 40

B U G G E D O UT W E E K E N D E R C O M P E TITI O N //

J U L I O B A S H M O R E P R E S E NTS: H U SK // Crack was recently host to the world exclusive of Julio Bashmore’s debut music video for brand new single Husk. Built around stark super-slomo imagery of a rather fetching weightlifter, an equally fetching young lady and a couple of magnificent birds which are perhaps more fetching still, it’s the perfect visual

January 18th-20th sees Bugged Out! once again bringing one of the UK’s most reliable and long-running party brands to Butlins. Their audaciously strong line-up includes a Chemical Brothers DJ set, Andrew Weatherall and Ivan Smagghe, Gesaffelstein, Scuba, Maya Jane Coles and Julio Bashmore, and Crack has a hell of a treat for you: a three berth Silver-grade chalet, and three tickets for the first monster blow-out of 2013. Just send your answer to the following question to competitions@crackmagazine.net marked BUGGIN’ OUT: Who provided the vocals for Chemical Brothers’ 1996 hit Setting Sun?

accompaniment to the flame-haired one’s latest slinky jam. A) Noel Gallagher B) Pete Doherty C) Jamie Jones Send all entries to competitions@crackmagazine.net

D avi d D ani e l l & D ougl as M cC om bs Burn Af t er R eadi ng Th e Ki nks R osi e Won’ t You Pl ease Come H ome C ook + M oor e Bedazzl ed T heme


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Th e Hiv e s O2 Academ y 10th Dec emb e r

Ro ller Trio L o uisian a 11th Dec embe r

In va d a Re cord s pre sents A p o ca sta sis Beak>>, Savages, Drokk, The Fauns,

A lf re s c o D i s c o NYE

Scarlet Rascal and The Trainwreck, Anika DJ Set

December 31st

The Exchange

Secret Location

December 19th £14

When ticketholders for last year’s Alfresco Disco’s NYE party finally stepped into closely-guarded secret

Cr aig Cha rle s Spiegeltent 12th Dec emb e r

location, they were presented with a transformed Factory Studios, stunningly decorated and kitted out

Like all the best record labels, Geoff Barrow’s Invada has developed a certain

with Jacuzzis, an adult sized ball-pool and even a barber shop to explore. Despite expectations escalating

trademark aesthetic, reflected faithfully within this line-up. Barrow himself will

with each event, the Alfresco team have never disappointed. Sticking to their manifesto, this year’s line-up

take to the stage twice, to perform the audaciously intense krautrock-inflected

is unannounced, but we’re certain we’ll be left in the more than capable hands of some of Bristol’s finest

jams of Beak> and also to present his Drokk project, inspired by Judge Dredd’s

house DJs. Not having a clue what we’re doing for New Year’s never felt so good.

dystopian cityscape. Fresh local talent will be represented by shoegazers The Fauns,

T o d d T e rje

the gothic-tinged blues rock outfit Scarlet Rascal & The Trainwreck and DJ sets

Motion

from the likes of artful dub-punk singer Anika. Over the last year, no UK band has

1st January

developed a live reputation quite like the fierce post-punk four-piece Savages, so their addition to the bill takes this from brilliant to unmissable.

Falling Stack s Mo ther ’ s Rui n 13th Dec emb e r

T h e Isla nd: B eyond The Pl eas uredom e NY E Congo Natty, Submotion Orchestra, Tensnake,

J uniper Take 5 14 th Dec embe r

Krystal Klear, Zed Bias plus many more The Old Fire Station December 31st £25/30/35

Do c Ma rte n s Bristo l

When it comes to throwing parties, we always encourage the imaginative use of unconventional spaces, and this lot really have gone that extra mile. A bunch of Bristol promoters have joined forces to host an epic NYE party spanning across The Old Fire Station and its courtyard, the Courtrooms as well as the derelict police station and the underground former police cells. Over in the Firestation, the party proceedings will be taken care of by Congo Natty and Submotion Orchestra. In the courtrooms, you’ll have the chance to rave up in the jurors rows to the likes of Tensnake, Krystal Klear and Zed Bias as well as an allied unit of well-respected local DJs calling themselves The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse.

Th e x x C o lsto n Hal l 14 th Dec embe r www.crackmagazine.net

As a staple of some of the most influential subcultural trends in modern history, the iconic status of the Doc Marten shoe is firmly cemented. Although perpetually fashionable, the brand has definitely enjoyed a resurgence recently, so it comes as great news that they’ve opened up a brand new official store in Bristol’s Broadmead centre. They made their arrival known with a flourish, their launch party/gig featuring the dense melodies of The Fauns and Bristol’s premier post-punks Idles repping the local music scene whilst clad in shiny new DMs.


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D J For m at Bi g Chi l l 15 t h D ecember

Da u g h te r St George’s Hall 22nd January

Sn o wb omb in g 201 3

Ke n d rick La ma r

B e n Pe ar ce E x chang e 15 t h D ecember

O2 Academy

Kerri Chandler, Disclosure, Todd Edwards

January 19th

April 1st-6th

£20

Price Vary Mayrhofen, Austria

By this point, even your nan will know that Kendrick Lamar has made the most important rap record of 2012. Following the appropriately massive burst of hype,

The prospect of combining a snowboarding holiday in the powdery Austrian

the 25-year-old Compton MC is taking the adventurous good kid, m.A.A.d city on

pistes with a full-frontal festival experience is seriously appealing. It’s a set up

tour. We highly recommend moving fast on this one, because it doesn’t require

that keeps Snowbombing attendees returning year on year, but that’s not slowed

psychic foresight to see that it’s going to be a sell out.

Dixo n

the organisers’ determination to ensure the music on offer is absolutely premium.

Motion

Browsing through the announced line-up so far, eye-catching names include deep

25th January

house hero Kerri Chandler, crossover bass duo Disclosure, Boddika, Todd ‘The God’ Edwards, Oneman, Bicep and the Futureboogie DJs.

A ppl e bl i m Tak e 5 2 1st D ecember

Boddika Mot i on 3 1st D ecember

Co l s t o n Ha ll

Ba g e l Boy

No Bord e r

Park Street

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Ethan Johns

Begins 15th December

February 4th

Like us, has your lunch stumbled into a depressing cycle of

£10

dull baguettes, textbook meal deals and tins of soup which

Admission free, £2 donation recommended

are, quite frankly, bullshit? Then cheer up you miserable

This exhibition of contemporary art features work by renowned arts from the

As a producer, Ethan Johns has earned a reputation of some prestige, taking care

sods. Bagel Boy, located at the front of the Elbow Rooms

Middle East, Asia and Africa. The work exhibited at No Border is thematically

of desk duties for albums by the likes of Laura Marling, Kings of Leon and Ryan

on Park Street, has fully won us over. With a menu based

unified by ideas about the way cultural narratives have merged and weaved

Adams. With his debut album If Not Now Then When? set for a February release,

around carefully-sourced and lovingly-prepared ingredients

between each other in a post-globalised age of transnational interaction. Amongst

Johns is likely to emerge as a talented singer-songwriter himself, performing his

including delicious smoked salmon, hot salt beef, bang-

the art includes Zwelethu Mthethwa’s photographs of sugar cane workers, filmed

own strain of weathered folk. The Q&A session which follows this concert promises

on vegetarian options and some amazing steak and kofte

work by Amar Kanwar and the hugely influential Ai Weiwei’s much-discussed

to be engaging, as Johns looks and sounds very much like a man with some stories

delights for the winter, before you know it you’ll be refusing

minimalist sculpture A Ton of Tea.

to tell.

to eat anything without a hole in the middle.

Pe t e S wans on Arnol f i ni 11t h Januar y

S h adow C h i l d E x chang e 18t h Januar y

In d ia n s Louisiana 31st January

Ar n o l f i n i

Pard o n My Ch ristmas The Bank of Stokes Croft

Damien Roach: INFRA LION

December 22nd

Runs until January 6th

Free before 23:30/£2 after

Damien Roach’s paintings, murals, sculptures and installations are inspired by a broad spectrum

The Christmas season just wouldn’t be the same without this annual festival

of cultural practices and disciplines. Taking inspiration from music, philosophy, psychoanalysis

banger, curated by Crack endorsed DJs Pardon My French. The duo have certainly

and architecture, Roach’s exhibitions exercise spatial innovation with perception-altering effects.

been keeping their hands busy of late, copping themselves a weekly Kiss FM

For the INFRA LION project, the Arnolfini’s stairwells, elevator lobby, lighting, window and even

residency with their good vibe-heavy mixes of disco-leaning house. So it’ll be good

branding will be transformed by Roach’s hand.

to commemorate a shit-hot year in their company, plus the PMF boys have some pretty special yet-to-be announced guests to join in the toast. Joyeux Noel bruv.

www.crackmagazine.net

D an D e acon Fl eece 8t h Februar y

B e n UFO E x chang e 9t h Februar y


www.crackmagazine.net

13

NEW MUSIC

S a p h ire S lows Pa ra k ee t Aside from the one-off single Chew, Britain’s favourite 90s alt-rock revivalists Yuck have been pretty quiet this year. However, bassist Mariko Doi has been keeping busy with her new project Parakeet, formed with James Thomas of The History of Apple Pie. Parakeet share Yuck’s love of saturating their songs with gooey shoegaze fuzz, but with Doi at the forefront, their songs are more comparable to sparkly indie-pop than the floppy posture of slacker rock. Initially formed without a definitive guitarist, it was Kohhei Mastuda of London-based Japanese psych rockers Bo Ningen who played on Parakeet’s debut single Tomorrow, and according to James there’s a tight-knit network of musicians helping each other out in the capital, “A lot of us know each other, The Horrors helped record the History of Apple Pie album, Jerome from THOAP has recorded Novella and Boneyards, and Max from Yuck has worked with bands like Fanzine.” Parakeet initially emerged as a side project, but the success of their gigs suggests a demand for more material, “We supported The Walkmen and the reaction was great. But we also toured with DIIV and that was better, the crowds were much more raucous.” Although it’s good to hear that James and Mariko are set to resume duties with their primary bands, there’s talk of a Parakeet full length for 2013, and that’s a plan we fully endorse. Catch the band in action at Crack’s Christmas bash at The Nest on December 21st.

100% Silk is undoubtedly the label where Tokyo artist Sapphire Slows belongs. Inspired by a wave of producers who nostalgically reference Chicago beats from the 80s and 90s, Sapphire Slows creates a multi-faceted house music simulacrum from the isolation of her bedroom. But that’s not to say her spirit is coolly detached. Her slinky, glossy soundtracks sound like they’re bathing in sunlight, even if they are created under the glow of her MacBook screen. Intellectualise it if you want, but her recent split 12” with Magic Touch contains slices of piano-led bliss that you’ll find totally irresistible.

P la tte n b a u This Berlin-based duo take cues from their home city’s cold, industrial expanses and high rise architecture to forge a sound which is oppressive and at points severe. Yet it comes imbued with the loose wig-outs of Detroit garage rock, the searing, terse rhythms of 80s post-punk and a joy in noise which owes a debt to no-wave. Debut four-track Square Squares is a startling collection of dynamic lo-fi twists and turns, opening with the deep clang of Dancing, which degenerates into an intoxicating static explosion at its close, and ending with the faintly nightmarish caresses of Low-impact Life. The whole record is imbued with a vivid sense of purpose and direction, which makes Plattenbau a powerful live prospect.

sapphireslows.bandcamp.com facebook.com/plattenbauberlin Tune: When I See You Tune: Square Squares File Next To: The Miracles Club | Maria Minerva

Tune: Shonen Hearts

File Next To: Sonic Youth | Jay Reatard

File Next To: Teenage Fanclub | Helium

D e n s e & P ika With a string of self-released white labels and a continuous level of output via Hotflush over the last year or two, the buzz about this anonymous techno duo has been steadily ascending. The solid, pulverising tracks featured on their newly-released Crispy Duck EP acknowledge Detroit’s legacy while sounding in tune with the freshest strands of contemporary European techno. We’re hoping there’s truth behind rumours of Dense & Pika hitting the road in 2013, because the pair have tailored a big room sound that demands to be blared through the UK’s heftiest soundsystems. soundcloud.com/denseandpika

Ni ght P la n e

Ha n g me n

V in n y C h a $ e

Crack’s become very fond of Soul Clap over the years. December sees the launch of their own label, Soul Clap Records, and we’re convinced that if they like it, we’ll like it. First up is Brooklyn-based William Rauscher, going by the name Night Plane and dishing out the first 12” release. Up to this point his output has been fairly small but not without hype. Last year’s dancefloor ready re-touch of Warpaint hit Undertow, first heard on Soul Clap’s Essential Mix, was the subject of an online petition imploring Rough Trade to release the track, which to the relief of many eventually saw the light of day. Their new release Heartbeat is an accessible slice of 4/4 disco rock referencing a Hacienda-esque sound, backed up with a number of slow and mid-tempo seductive house tracks, full of carefully considered vocal contributions.

It may be the Wettest City in Britain (TM), but when the mood takes them, the people of Swansea are still inclined to take to the seas, board in hand. It’s appropriate, then, that Hangmen have joined fellow Welshmen Y Niwl in pushing a fresh approach to the irresistible sway of surf rock. Having cut a 10” earlier this year, the dapper four-piece are now preparing to release a full-length realisation of their sound early in 2013. Titled Singapore Swingers, high points include the gorgeously evocative strum of Maria, the infectious stomp of the title track and a Misirlou for the kids in The Headhunter. Fagpaper tight and fleshing out their sound with the sharp, downstroked vigour of garage rock, Hangmen display a firm grasp on their indebtors, along with eye on crafting their own contemporary addition to a timeless canon.

Although he’s only been pushing tunes for around a year, Harlem rapper Vinny Cha$e first infiltrated the hip-hop industry in 2004 through shooting high profile videos and filming documentaries. Cheers Club is the crew which Cha$e formed with close friends Kid Art and Cartier Court. The Club throw out plenty of self-directed videos, and with his grills and hefty gold chains, the blunt-toking, fashion-obsessed Cha$e proves it’s on this side of the camera he really belongs.  This would all come across as wafer thin posturing if Cha$e didn’t apply a perfectionist approach to the entire package. The slurred trap and minimal, bass heavy club beats that back him are irresistible, and as a scholar of the East Coast’s most legendary rhymers, Cha$e has enough smart wordplay to draw you in beyond the surface.

soundcloud.com/williamrauscher

facebook.com/hangmensurf

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Tune: Heart Beat

Tune: Maria

Tune: Harlem Roses

File Next To: Soul Clap | Wolf + Lamb

File Next To: Link Wray | The Chesterfield Kings

File Next To: Clipse |A$AP Mob

Tune: Crispy Duck File Next To: Locked Groove | Blawan

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© Paul Whitfield


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WORDS Davi d Re e d

PH O TO Pau l W h i t f i e l d

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S I TE p u b l i c e n e my.com

TUN E Fi g ht t he Pow er

PUBLIC ENEMY rap ’ s most fiercely politicised M C hits us with the truth

A pivotal force in the evolution of hip-hop, Public Enemy have imprinted their legacy deep into modern consciousness. After 25 years in the game, the self-proclaimed prophets of rage still haven’t given up the fight. Back in ’79, Carlton Ridenhour ran with a Long Island-based mobile DJ crew called Spectrum City, acquiring himself an encyclopaedic knowledge of soul, disco, funk and the new hip-hop movement. While studying at Aldelphi University, Ridenhour worked as a DJ on WBAU radio alongside future Bomb Squad member Hank Shocklee, and the pair became linked with Def Jam founders Bill Stephney and Rick Rubin. With a thunderous voice, an adept understanding of the art of MCing and an enlightened mind, Ridenhour began to make a name for himself as Chuck D. Chuck D was witnessing the brutal impact the economic polarisation caused by the Reagan administration was having on impoverished black communities. As an angry but focused MC, his mission was to encourage the emancipation of his peers and to revive the revolutionary spirit of the 60s civil rights movement among his audience. But if Chuck D was to spread his message through hiphop, he needed to lighten up his act to keep the party vibe thriving. This is where Flavour Flav stepped in. Flav’s high-toned catchphrases and goofy ad libs provided the perfect contrast to Chuck D’s low end, righteous deliveries. And once the group enlisted DJ Terminator X and Professor Griff to assemble the S1W – a group of bodyguards/back up dancers – they became unstoppable.

Yet in more recent years Public Enemy have functioned as a sturdy unit. After working once again with Spike Lee on his ’98 movie He Got Game, the group scored themselves another hit. Hip to the impending transitions of the music industry, Chuck D embraced the digital revolution and Public Enemy’s post-millennium albums have been distributed with a net savvy approach, free of the interference of shadowy major label execs. So what about Flav? Well sadly, his periods of near sobriety seem to be punctuated with relapses and run-ins with the law. You could point out that this behaviour starkly contradicts Chuck D’s teachings, but Flav’s role was always to be the clown prince, the guy who drew in a crowd and put on a show so that Chuck could give them a few ideas to take home. Chuck D is the watchful big brother figure, fully supportive of the stability that his iconic sidekick gains from being a reality TV star.

military and judicial system in the prison break fantasy Black Steel in the Hour Of Chaos. When film director Spike Lee was in search for a theme tune to accompany his 1989 masterpiece Do The Right Thing, Public Enemy’s overall aesthetic made them the only choice. PE were inspired by the task at hand, and the group produced one of their most anthemic hits, Fight The Power. The song soundtracks the movie’s iconic opening credits, and reoccurs as a motif from Radio Raheem’s boombox as racial tensions in the community build in the sweltering heat. Among the long list of Public Enemy’s controversy-stirring statements, Fight The Power’s third verse still glows with notoriety: “Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me, you see / Straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain / Motherfuck him and John Wayne / Cause I’m black and I’m proud / I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped / Most of my heroes don’t appear

“The most dangerous rap grou

2012 in particular has been a good year for Public Enemy. They’ve released two albums independently and they’re touring an incredible live show to celebrate their 25th anniversary. 2007 track Harder Than You Think has been used as a theme song for the Paralympics; it reached #4 in the UK singles chart, and when they p in perform the song at the show following Crack’s interview, the sense of euphoria is mind blowing.

A m e r ic a w a s P u b l ic E n e m y b e c a u s e

Although Public Enemy’s debut album Yo! Bum Rush The Show documents an old school era, it wasn’t until around ’87 that PE were, as the phrase goes, in full effect. After touring a string of Def Jam-curated shows with the likes of Beastie Boys and LL Cool J, Public Enemy realised that it was their hardest beats that energised the crowd most. The Bomb Squad re-grouped and decided it was time to go full force. From now on, the BPM of Public Enemy tracks would be accelerated way beyond the average pace, and the group would mesh together a wild, diverse range of samples to create a wall of noise which continues to fuel adrenaline to this day. With Chuck D increasingly determined to raise consciousness and call bullshit on the institutional and cultural forces that propel oppressive action and prejudiced thought, Public Enemy unleashed their fury with a progressive mission in mind. PE’s second album, It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back, is a canonical rap classic jam-packed with quotables. The record sold around a million copies, and PE’s manifesto blasted across the airwaves through singles like Bring The Noise and Don’t Believe The Hype. Chuck D highlighted the devastating impact of the crack epidemic on Night of The Living Baseheads, took shots at the critics of sampling on Caught, Can We Get A Witness?, and shunned the institutional racism of the US

our weapon was the truth.”

on no stamps”. There’s probably a plethora of academic texts out there critiquing the marginalising forces of the dominant American hegemony, but Chuck D has a knack of distilling an entire thesis into a jaw dropping punch line. Fight The Power was included on Public Enemy’s 1990 album Fear of A Black Planet, arguably the group’s magnum opus. With the powers that be deeming these works to be cultural significant, both this and Do The Right Thing were archived in the US Library of Congress. But unfortunately, it was when Public Enemy were seemingly reaching the height of their powers that their solidarity began to crumble. The group were making liberally-inclined critics uneasy by pledging their allegiance to the highly controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. These concerns reached boiling point when journalists began to report antisemitic remarks made by Professor Griff acting on behalf of Public Enemy in interviews. The comments resulted in Griff ’s ejection from the group, and necessitated Chuck D calling a press conference to firmly refute any antisemitic beliefs. By the time PE released their fourth album Apocalypse 91 … The Enemy Strikes Back, Flavour Flav’s substance abuse was causing his behaviour to become increasingly erratic, leading to numerous arrests and trips to rehab in the ensuing years. At various points during the 90s, Chuck D was forced to call a temporary hiatus to Public Enemy.

So when it’s confirmed that we’ve been granted 30 minutes with Chuck D before Public Enemy’s Bristol In:Motion show, we’re both anxious and excited to talk to rap’s most galvanising MC. As the conversation unfolds, we quickly realise that at the ripe old age of 52, Chuck D has lost none of his fire. After a few years since your last record, why did Public Enemy choose to release two albums in 2012? Because we started the first urban digital aggregation system called Spit Digital. It shows that the control of our distribution could be done in a way that’s different from the analogue years when you would wait for record store politics or record company politics to dictate the release itself. We also worked with the Sellaband project: some of that was actually fan raised, so we decided to give them another album too. Harder Than You Think has been a huge success in the UK, largely due to the Paralympics campaign … Solely due to being used as the Paralympics theme. The song has been a part of our show for the past five years. When it was chosen to be part of the Olympics, that took it into the stratosphere. Its strength was the YouTube video, which made it a theme song for these incredible athletes. Was the Paralympics, and the Olympics in general, something which Public Enemy was particularly proud to support? Of course. And we’re very clear about what we don’t support.


— Rinse Xmas Party / Weds. 26 Dec. 2012 / 21.00 — 07.00 — Fabric 77a Charterhouse St. London / EC1 — Tickets: £17 advance — Available from: www.Rinse.fm www.fabriclondon.com

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You’re celebrating 25 years of Public Enemy being in the game, so we’d like to ask about the early days. What was the Bomb Squad’s original vision? We were born in the 60s so we had tons of music in our heads. When we began making music in the 80s, sampling became possible. We asked ourselves, what can we do to make future music out of this music of the past and the present time? When we got together to make one synonymous song, the sight, the sound, the message and the meaning all came together. “ I hav So how did you earn your reputation as an MC, were you battling with other guys?

The most dangerous rap group in America was Public Enemy because our weapon was the truth. And the truth will set you free. So that’s what makes it dangerous. If you’re just acting like a goddamn fool with no fucking direction, you’re only a danger to yourself. You ain’t truly a threat to nothing if you ain’t got your shit together. Bob Marley dealt with the truth, Bob Dylan always dealt with the truth, so a rap group can do the same – why not? And there’s people in the Western world who are afraid

e

A cheap on the

Nah, I didn’t really compete with other MCs. I was a radio guy. But back in the early days you were judged by how you projected your voice. If you had a weak ass little voice, you wasn’t getting on the mic. It wasn’t just about how much flow you had or how many rhymes you had, because most of the sound systems were shitty. And I was a guy who everybody wanted to get on the mic, because I have a voice that cuts through bullshit. A cheap ass system from RadioShack? I’d get on the mic and make it sound like gold. Give it to some MCs and they can’t even cut through the music. Why do think that certain pockets of society were perceiving Public Enemy as a threat?

If someone tells you about hip-hop in 2012, they’ll tell you about what’s played on the radio or TV. That’s exactly where America wants it to be and it’s exactly how America wants to see black folks – dysfunctional and out of direction. Even when it makes a lot of quote-unquote white folks follow that direction. Do you think that the portrayal of ‘gangster’ lifestyles are somehow sanitised for the mainstream?

Sanitised for what and for who? Sanitised means made safe and digestible. So it might a v o i c e t h at c u t s t h r o u g h b u l l s h i t. be safe and digestible for anyone who lives outside a black neighbourhood. But many black communities in America are under a ass system from RadioShack? I’d get lot of pressure right now. There’s cities like Chicago, New York and parts of Baltimore mic and make it sound like gold. ” that have been going through hell this past year with the murder rate among young people. Now I’m not gonna be the one who points to rap music as the cause of it. But when you don’t have sense or control of of any grouping of black men who are uniting together, that’s just period. yourself, then anything can replace you. Any time that black people and black men get together in the western hemisphere, it presents a problem for the structure. So coming together in music is no different. That’s always been a problem, until someone figures out a way to control it. How do you feel about the condition of mainstream hip-hop in 2012?

Do you think there was a point in time where the demand for socially conscious hip-hop was at its peak? People always need consciousness, so when people ask “does hip-hop have the ability to raise consciousness?” – of course it does. People always want to be able to ask “How can I think for myself? How can I make it? How can I survive?” The words can lead to some actions, keeping that away from the people is blasphemous. Younger people want to be able to


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© Paul Whitfield

move forward, they want to get older, they want to gravitate and there’s nothing wrong with giving them the tools. Separating black music from black culture is but a crime. But I believe that hip-hop is a worldwide culture with many participants. And you see, it wouldn’t be so bad if the powers that be realised that hiphop culture is for all cultures, but they don’t project it as so. And if you’re just showing black faces, you’re not actually projecting black thought, black sentiment, black history, accountability, you’re just throwing the black faces up there because it’s a part of business. That has hurt the art form terribly. I think it’s racist to not show its participants that are not quote-unquote black that have contributed to hip-hop. Like, ‘Yo, this black person who’s talking hood shit is more authentic than the white person doing it’. It should project us all, equally. So why do you think that rap artists from less conventional backgrounds are ignored? I think the record labels were lazy. If your ass was coming from Bristol, ain’t nobody coming out from London to sign you. If your ass was coming out of Scranton, Pennsylvania, ain’t nobody from LA or NY coming to sign your ass. I mean Eminem was Detroit, but he got hooked up with Dre’s camp in LA. So you had to get anointed in some other situation back in the day. You know, I actually think that South Africa and Africa has the best MCs. They’re more equipped in languages than most people who can just speak in a western tongue. So rapping, being rhythmic to a beat is just a no brainer to them. But they won’t be noticed because they don’t have an American flag on their shit. So that’s what I do on my radio show, I highlight MCs from different international movements.

We were watching footage of the London Invasion show in ’87, where you called out the crowd to jeer Margaret Thatcher. 25 years later, her legacy is being continued in the UK. Do you think your message is as relevant today?

four years to be able to come through on even a twentieth of what he originally promised.

--------How can it not be? If you see that this world got some issues, then how can you not talk about the issues? I think what these times of technology have allowed is for people to be reduced into their oneness and their individuality instead of a collective. And what you might not realise as an individual is that there’s a lot of issues out there in the world that could be corrected by collective movements. People come together differently than how they did in the past. But it’s easier for people to get locked up in their own world too. They might look at society as not having a problem at all without actually looking at it seriously enough. But you’ve got to look beyond yourself. In the 80s, people were bound together because you had limited media outlets, so therefore the opinions were more synonymous. But now, people are scattered all over the place in their own thought processes, locked into their mobile phones. Lastly, we’d like to ask you about your views on Barack Obama’s re-election. I feel like the first four years should have been a chance for many of us to get across ideas that we couldn’t during the Bush administration, and I feel that a lot of people wasted the four years. I also think that as the President of the United States, he spent a lot of time cleaning up a war and also trying to figure out how America can clear its trillions of deficit. He basically came into a dirty house with no vacuum cleaner, they gave him a straw and said, ‘Clean the fuckin rug!’ I think he’s a good man with a very bad, fucked up government. A good driver with a bad car. And I think it’s necessary for him to be president for another

The Evil Empire of Everything is available now via Enemy Records

E SS E NTIAL ALB U M It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back ( 1 988) PE have an abundance of classics in their back catalogue, but this is the record which caused a seismic wave within hip-hop culture. After road testing the single Rebel Without A Pause in ‘87, the group were inspired by the riotous response they’d get with faster beats and a heavier sound. With their trademark wall of noise fully realised, Chuck D’s revolutionary rhymes sound packed with an authoritative punch. Almost a quarter of a century later, the statement of this album still feels radical.


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I T A L

W O RD S D av i d R eed

TUN E D eep Cut (l i v e edi t )

S I TE pl anet .mu/art i st s/i t al

© Ital

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Over the last few years, underground electronic dance music has been exploring ever more exciting and disorientating realms. Under his Ital alias, this lawless landscape is where former artpunk Daniel Martin-McCormick has found space to thrive.

So whether it’s at live shows or on record, we’re always eager to hear the continuous evolution of Ital. Each unpredictable step seems to polarise, and that’s something we’re happy to encourage.

It was Martin-McCormick’s first releases as Ital that kick-started the 100% Silk label, an LA-based boutique imprint run by Amanda and Britt Brown of LA Vampires. The label began as an offshoot of Not Not Fun, in order to give the avant-garde experimentalists on the roster an opportunity to try their hand at dance-orientated music. So far, McCormick has driven this manifesto to an unprecedented level. This year he’s released two Ital albums via the majorly credible British leftfield electronic label Planet Mu, and his post-punk turned experimental house taskforce Mi Ami put out Decade, their most beat-driven record to date.

We experienced your live show on the 100% Silk Euro tour and saw your set at Sonar over the summer. You’ve toured extensively this year, but are there any shows in particular which felt pivotal for you? That’s difficult. Each show has something to offer, some way to learn and grow. A big one was in Bristol back in February, when I played with Livity Sound, the loose collective formed by Peverelist and a couple other

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our environment is ever-more revealed to be a toxic wasteland of our own devising. At the same time, making a track, even the darkest, most nihilistic acid or whatever, contains some kind of utopian kernel in it, the idea that some demon could perhaps be exorcised through dance. Musically, fuck, there’s a lot. Pushing harmony and rhythmic detail work to new levels, trying out a lot of weirder, more ‘incorrect’ sonic techniques, wanting to make everything sound pretty alien, the list goes on and on. Do you remember a certain point in your career when your interest in house and techno began to influence the music you were making?

Absolutely. It was in 2006, when I was getting seriously, seriously into house and techno and disco When Crack ran an in-depth and I started making tracks on label profile on 100% Silk earlier Audacity, exactly as I do now. I “When I hit the road this summer, I this year, we searched through was pretty depressed and socially each artist’s back catalogue, isolated, a recent transplant to r e a l i s e d t h a t I w a n t e d m y m u s ic t O b e rummaging around rabbit holes of California and not finding my murky dub and drone, post-punk, way so well, and dance music s e r i o u s l y f u c k e d u p. I d i d n ’ t w a n t s o m e über-referential disco and warped seemed like a way out, a joyful beats that somehow reprise noise or whatever that was a lot k i n d o f ta s t e f u l , s t u d i o u s , n e r v o u s l yclouded memories of past club more appealing than the often experiences. Martin-McCormick’s ponderous avant garde I had curriculum vitae was immediately been immersing myself in. It was competitive producer vibe.” striking. At a fairly young age he startling, after years of punk and has already explored a wide array noise and free improv, to hear of genre categories, and he never something that clicked with me on fails to break the rules. During the early noughties he was a member locals. It was their first show, so I went on second out of two, but they a deep emotional level but also made room for fun, for playfulness, for of post-hardcore band Black Eyes. They signed to the significant DC were on their home turf and the room was absolutely packed with an sadness, etc. Mi Ami was initially an attempt to make some kinda disco hardcore label Dischord, an imprint which heroically maintained DIY enthusiastic, eager audience for their set. The music was interesting, a and that failed but I was really thinking a lot about these same ideas the punk principles like no other. Between 2003-4, Black Eyes released two little underdeveloped in that first show kind of way, but it was very Bristol entire time. albums which capture the sensation of furious discontent symptomatic and the crowd was loving it. More importantly for me, they sounded of the first Bush administration. While Mi Ami’s sound began to mutate, phenomenal. The system was decent, not amazing, but they clearly had When 100% Silk first emerged, the label provoked interesting McCormick launched his gloriously deranged Sex Worker project. fine tuned each drum and each synth for specific impact and it totally debates about the ‘rules’ and territorial nature of both dance worked. When I followed with my janky Electribe, it sounded weak as music and noise/art rock circles. It seems like any initial questions Last year’s Ital releases on 100% Silk such as Ital’s Theme and Only For hell. I resolved that when I got home, I would get some kind of rig that about the ‘legitimacy’ of your music as Ital were settled when you Tonight were deliberately raucous, low budget experiments cooked up on would be able to compete on that level, where I wouldn’t sound like a signed to Planet Mu. Is there an element of fun in messing with the free-to-download, simplistic music software Audacity. They’re highly complete twerp next to someone like that. So I got an MPC and rewrote people’s expectations? enjoyable recordings, informed by McCormick’s burning passion for my entire live set. But then when I hit the road this summer, I realised various strands of dance music, from Omar-S and Theo Parrish to Dutch that I wanted my music to be seriously fucked up. I didn’t want some Are you kidding?! Of course it’s immensely satisfying. I think I hate electro artists. At this point it felt as if Martin-McCormick was distantly kind of tasteful, studious, nervously-competitive producer vibe. So while nothing more than being pigeonholed or typecast or whatever. People yearning to connect to the collective euphoria of a club experience from I embraced the higher sound quality of the MPC, I also worked hard over are always going to try to push some narrative about you, and that’s his bedroom. After touring as Ital extensively and making life affirming the next 10 weeks of shows to tear the set to shreds.   fine, but it’ll never be complete. I was happy people were psyched on ventures to iconic Berlin techno labyrinth Berghain, Martin-McCormick Silk, but of course the ‘hipster house’ conversation was absurdly shortbegan to learn how to provoke a visceral physical response from the Which artists and strands of electronic music have inspired you sighted and reactionary and simpleminded. I was lucky that Planet Mu bodies on the dancefloor. the most over the last year or so? was open to the music on its own merits and not overtly hung up on the gossipy bullshit. Hive Mind was the point where the Ital project treaded towards sturdier, Seeing Heatsick live definitely tore me a new one in terms of building heavily percussive four to the floor territory with realistic dancefloor powerful, beautiful structures of out the stupidest means. He’s incredible Do you think that your experience of playing live with Black potential. For many of those initially suspicious of the 100% Silk camp’s every time. Farrah Abraham is the embodiment of something I’ve explored Eyes and Mi Ami has informed the way that you perform as Ital? lo-fi aesthetic, perceiving their intentions as naïve, or even disrespectful, as a kind of musical fantasy, Reality TV/Web 2.0’s suicidal fever dream of Some might argue that your approach to live shows is kind of the signing with Planet Mu was a legitimising gesture. As with previous itself. The Ital, Laurel Halo, Magic Touch, M Geddes Gengras package tour unconventional compared to the majority of electronic artists. Ital releases, the record has instigated plenty of discussion. Critics were Stateside was hands down the best group of musicians I’ve travelled with taken back by the provocative, chopped-up Lady Gaga and Whitney and my mind was blown nightly by one and all. Jeff Mills is a mainstay Yeah, totally. After playing in raging punk bands, you can’t really go to Houston samples on opener Doesn’t Matter (If You Love Him). On Privacy inspiration, and I’ve been exploring the Regis back catalogue which is by some chilled out tasteful laptop performance without feeling like a part of Settings, Martin-McCormick conjures up the essence of more traditional turns boring and fascinating depending mostly, as far as I can tell, on you is dying. I can’t unlearn what I’ve learned, and musical performance house music, yet the twisted nature of the track emphasises the distance my mood. hits me really hard. Live performance is powerful across the board and between that utopian vision of a hedonistic eternal summer and reality. severely underused in the electronic world. I’m not saying everyone has Could you tell us a bit about the conceptual and thematic ideas to be thrashing around. But I when I’m playing I’m definitely feeling it, On the most recent Ital record, Dream On, Martin-McCormick seeks which may have influenced the way Dream On sounds and feels? and that’s a huge part of why I love touring so much. to both increase the muscularity of his beats and embrace vacuums of unstructured dissonance. The fragments of metallic hiss on Eat Shit The main theme that I notice always running through my work is this (Waterfalls Mix) are likely to beat the listener into a state of emotional duality between a kind of massive discomfort in society and in one’s own -------submission, as does the unsettling and aptly titled What A Mess. So when body, a sort of nauseated horror at the reality of one’s existence, and its the album reaches its moments of coherence, such as the warm organ opposite: the exuberant love of life, the excitement and validity of the life tones of Housecapella or the poignantly euphoric closer Deep Cut (live of the senses, and the need to constantly reconcile the two. Sex Worker edit), there’s a real sense of equilibrium and a tone of sincere optimism. focused a lot on the classic thin line between love and hate in sexuality, in relationships, and the way people process loss. Dream On keeps that in mind but definitely branches out into the isolating qualities of technology – practically a must for young artists – and the queasiness one feels as

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MICHAEL MAYER

© Carlitos Trujillo

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W ORD S R o bert B a te s

PHOTO C a rlit o s Tr u ji l l o

TUN E G ood T i m e s

It’s as if Michael Mayer goes out of his way to perpetuate ‘the hard-working German’ stereotype. As co-owner of Cologne-based electronic giant Kompakt, Mayer handles the distribution of over 50 labels, signs more music than just about anybody and, when he’s got some spare time, sneaks into the studio to produce his own. Although he’s now something of a celebrity in the (putatively ‘underground’) world of dance music, Mayer started out in more parochial circumstances. Born in the Black Forest in 1971, Mayer escaped the delicious tyranny of all those gateaux via the emancipatory power of – what else – DJing. At the age of 14 he worked as as a paperboy, scraping together enough cash to buy a pair of turntables, a mixer and some records, and quickly becoming a fixture on the local school disco/birthday party scene. Fast-forward to the early 1990s and dance music is ever gaining in popularity. Mayer teams up with Tobias Thomas and two others to create the DJing team Friends Xperiment Sound System, moves to Cologne, secures residencies in clubs such as Iz and, by 1993, is working for a record store called Delirium, the progenitor of Kompakt. The tale of his first involvement with what came to be the label revolves around his young self telling off Wolfgang Voigt for not having an ample enough selection of records in his store. “Yes, that’s true”, says Mayer. “I was the shop’s very first customer when it opened its doors in 1993. I was young, full of hopes and needs. Unfortunately, the selection of records at hand couldn’t quite offer me what I needed. So I went up to the counter and gave them a long rant and, to my surprise, I must have made a very capable and likeable impression on the guys who ran the shop. Six months later, they made me a partner. I found my life’s purpose in a dodgy record shop. What are the odds?” It’s equally extraordinary that this youthful venture would be sustained over such an extended period. If you google ‘seminal’ and ‘Kompakt’, you get over 600,000 results. So what’s the secret for such longevity and success? “I swear, we’re still running 100% Pfitzerfree”, says Mayer. “We mostly enjoy what we’re doing and we’re independent as independent can be. Free-range chicken produce larger eggs, right?”

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S I TE k ompak t .f m/art i st s/mi chael _may er

Kompakt was established in 1998 but Mayer’s individual success was to come a few years later. Mayer’s 2002 Immer mix is now looked back on as one of the most important mixes of the era, and his 2003 Fabric mix defined his ‘narrative-based’ approach to DJing. Releases throughout the ‘00s positioned Mayer as production whizz too, namely his 2005 debut album Touch and his releases as Supermayer, a collaborative project with Kompakt affiliate Superpitcher. 2012 has seen the release of his new solo album, the titillatingly-titled Mantasy. Playfulness, in fact, seems to be a recurring theme for Kompakt releases (Reinhard Voigt’s Sex Mit M. Mayer being a particularly memorable example). So is this part of a grand plan designed to counter myths about ‘po-faced German techno’? “I wouldn’t say that we’re very funny folks”, comes Mayer’s dry reply. “But we are totally against any puritan or conservative mindset in the techno world. This music provides a mantastic framework for any sentiment, from the hysterically cheerful to the dead sad and everything in between. It would be a crime to not indulge our every whim.” Mantasy’s lead single Good Times features Whomadewho’s Jeppe Kjellberg on vocals, and when we ask Mayer is quick to praise the Danish singer, “I’ve always loved his voice, long before we signed Whomadewho to Kompakt. At times he sounds like Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17, one of my all-time favourite bands. I was looking for a steady, manly voice for this song. He turned out to be the perfect match. Initially, I was considering recording lots of background vocalists, I wanted it to sound like Village People meets The Bee Gees. In the end, Jeppe did it all alone, he’s the man of thousand voices. And a damn fine gentleman.” As a man in a position of a certain authority within his chosen world, Mayer’s views on the ‘EDM’ explosion in the US seems a pertinent one. With many people disgruntled about ‘their’ music being commercialised, simplified and repackaged for a mass market, where does he stand on all this? “It probably doesn’t hurt us Germans as much as the others” is his pragmatic view. “The musical phenomenon from the 60s and 70s that was called Schlager slowly transformed into a comical version of techno with soft porn lyrics. It’s really dreadful. In the mid-90s when rave music went mainstream, there were similar discussions like today. Personally, I don’t see any reason to get excited.” Similarly, labels like Hot Creations and Crosstown Rebels have had been hugely successful, pursuing a contemporary deep house sound that incorporates elements of older forms of dance music largely ignored by Skrillex and his EDM pals. But they too have come under fire for being too formulaic. Will the bubble soon burst for Jamie Jones & Co.? “Isn’t it deeply human that we throw mud at those who are successful?” says Mayer. “I’m not a clairvoyant, but I think Jamie and Damien are smart enough to get out of their corners in time.” Another everpresent talking-point is illegal music downloads, something which Mayer has previously stated is ‘very worrying’. He’s quick to expand his point. “Fortunately, there are still some people out there that are willing to pay for music”, he says. “We’re still able to run our business because of these fine people. You pirates out there should thank them and feel ashamed.” With the future of the label assured for the time being, and after a quiet 2012, the coming year promises to be an exciting time for Kompakt, as it celebrates 20 years since Delirium came to life. “We’ve got plenty of thrilling ideas for our anniversary”, is all Michael cares to divulge. “We’ll make it up to you ... promised.”

--------Mantasy is out now via Kompakt Records

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F ilmmaker bill cody tells crack how the flower punks ’ middle eastern mission went down

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Š James Wilson


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W ORD S Natash a L inford

I L LUS TR ATI O N J am e s W i l s on jam e s w i l s on i l l u s t r at i on .c om

D OC UM E N TA RY Bi l l Cody

This summer Atlanta based garage rockers Black Lips took to the Middle East for a string of tour dates, with music documentary maker Bill Cody hot on their heels. 

So what gave you the initial idea and inspiration for making a music documentary about an American garage punk band touring the Middle East?

reach out to young people and not stifle them. I have great hope for the future of Egypt after some of the things we saw there.

The Black Lips are no strangers to performing unconventional shows in exotic parts of the globe. Their 2009 gig in India left them fleeing the country with a warrant for their arrest after onstage antics didn’t go down too well. This latest tour, the biggest of its kind in the Middle East, marked a departure from the band’s previous approach as they sought to gain access to new audiences by adapting their onstage presence and achieving musical outreach. Supported by underground Lebanese band Lazzy Lung, the tour hit up such recent headline-grabbing locations as Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq. The self-titled ‘Super Tour’, a collaborative project between the band and Bill Cody, had been waiting in the wings since early 2010, at which point their plans had to be put on hold following the destabilising outbreak of the Arab Spring movement. Though the tour eventually became a reality, plans to play in Syria had to be completely scrapped as the country fell into a state of Civil War.

The idea was actually the band’s. They knew I had taught in Iraq and they said: “We want to go there, too!” They really believe in going out and meeting new people. They’re much more thoughtful than the press often give them credit for.

With the ongoing trial of female punk band Pussy Riot engulfing our media outlets, the continued resonance of punk ideology is prominent in the public’s consciousness. A Black Lips tour such as this, although not overtly political in its intentions, demonstrates the capacity of punk to reach beyond cultural and political boundaries. Attempts at censorship create a barrier for movements of progression such as the Arab Spring, yet a new youth culture is emerging in this part of the world, fueled by the interconnectedness of a post-globalised digital age. The tour’s diverse range of locations, from more liberal cities such as Alexandria – which is home to an underground youth culture – to Erbil, the less youth-centric capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, shows a desire to reach out to areas where no such proven audience exists. We met up with the band in Iraqi Kurdistan as they set out to play a gig which by all accounts should not have taken place. Upon viewing the Black Lips’ music video Family Tree, which displays nudity and same sex kissing, the government cancelled the originally billed show, declaring that the Black Lips were ‘too much for Kurdistan’. Not to be deterred, the band rolled into town anyway. After a last minute scramble to find a spot to play and some cautiously limited promotion, a low-key show ensued, revealing a non-commercial nature that demonstrably stands in contrast with the band’s recent studio produced work alongside prodigious producer Mark Ronson. Walking into a small hall with rows of white plastic chairs and a stage which is still adorned with decorations from a recent poetry reading, the band seemed enthused about the space, normally used by young Kurds to create and share art. Cole Alexander, sporting the football shirt of the local team ‘Hewler’, insisted on leaving the hanging stale chapatti bread in frames on the stage. When asked about the tour so far, drummer Joe Bradley described the whole experience as a learning curve, expressing the band’s desire to reach out and form new connections while gaining fresh perspectives themselves. An hour-long set which primarily consisted of songs from their most recent album Arabia Mountain was performed to a mixed crowd of students and families. Although the set didn’t result in an outbreak of frantic dancing, it clearly left a lasting impression on the unexpectant crowd, and for many audience members it marked a tacit turning point for contemporary culture in the region. Exposure of this kind documents the creative essence of a band such as the Black Lips and casts a limelight on their adventurous wanderlust. The tour itself serves as a quest, stitched together through a tapestry of narratives brought into focus by a filmmaker’s vision. Bill Cody is a filmmaker who previously produced the groundbreaking Athens, GA:Inside/Out, which explored the arts and music scene in Athens and Two-headed Cow, a film about North Carolina-based musician Dexter Romweber, which features Jack White, Neko Chase and Chan Marshall. We caught up with Bill after the tour as he explained the motivations behind the unified project, to be named You know, for kids.

So as well as their determination to travel to new places, why do you think that the Black Lips were particularly well suited for this adventure? I think the Black Lips are the perfect band for a number of reasons. All too often the bands that come to the region are either some people playing 17th century German music sponsored by the State Department, with a lot of dignitaries attending the show and pretending they actually like “classical” music. The other bands that tour in say, the UAE and up until recently Beirut, are senior citizens like Madonna, the Chili Peppers and the like. The idea of a band that is actually breaking right now in the US coming to play in the Middle East doesn’t happen. But it should. Considering most of the audiences had never seen bands like the Black Lips perform live before, how did you find their reactions to the band differed across the various countries? The only real difference was the size of the crowds. There were maybe 100 to 150 skate kids in Alexandria in Egypt but they were completely nuts. That was an amazing show and the young people were so thankful we came to Egypt. One of them told us after our final show in Cairo that things would go back to being boring after we left. I thought that was a bit of an overstatement. They are going through exciting times. Still, we were very touched by the sentiment. The Lebanese band Lazzy Lung and other local musicians supported the band during various shows. What effect do you think having local support acts had on the tour?  We had so much fun with Lazzy Lung and learned so much. They were really great to tour with. And we had a very nice session in Cairo with local musicians as well. I think it will take time to see how everything goes, but I know that we’ve got lifelong friends in the region now. Coming to perform in this part of the world was never going to be an easy endeavour. What particular challenges did you face during the whole process, from putting the tour together to individual shows? Obviously we had a lot of difficulties. We had a promoter drop out because the band had played Israel in 2007. There is a boycott movement now and even though it wasn’t going on in 2007, they held it against us even though that show was for young people and the band also went into the West Bank and played. We ended up meeting with them for dinner. I’m not going to speak for the band, but I will say we believe in people, and that is why the band so strongly believes in playing for everyone. We also lost a show because of a video they shot that was based on an Austrian Art movement that featured nudity and other things. I don’t really want to say much about that other than to say that I don’t believe in censorship, and I think when you give in to the elements of society that want to censor you’re headed in the wrong direction. Obviously I don’t have to deal with the politics of those kinds of decisions so I can be in favour of anything I want. It’s just that I always meet people that talk about how much they want to move to the US because of the freedoms we have. Well, we have freedoms because we fight for them. If you want freedom, it will take the same kind of courage in your country. Having said that, we followed all the rules that were laid out for us, and there were a lot of them. In Dubai the band can’t talk to the audience unless the members of the audience talk to them first. At the El Sawy Culture Wheel in Cairo we had to submit lyrics. It’s funny. There’s a big Muslim Cultural Center in Cairo and they saw all of the band’s videos and only requested we behave while we played there. It was a great show and I give them a lot of credit. They really understand that they have to www.crackmagazine.net

S I TE i ndi eg og o.com/y ouk now f ork i dspost

Having previously spent time in the Kurdistan region in Iraq teaching film, how did it feel to return to this part of the world, and how do you feel about the current political climate there? It was great. I will always love my friends in the region. So many people trash people there and it’s really unfair. The people are great. It’s just the politics. And when I say that I mean both of the various countries themselves and the politics of other countries as well. The US, Britain, etc. Just look at Kurdistan. We almost visited a Syrian refugee camp up by Duhok when we were there with a friend from the UN. I hear it’s the same camp that housed people who fled Baghdad back in 2003 and 2004. They told us there will be 750,000 people displaced by the fighting by the end of the year spread between Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Kurdistan. That’s a lot of people. Since we left there has also been a bombing in the center of Beirut. We just played there a couple of weeks ago. How is that going to play out? How will it play out in Jordan and Kurdistan? Did anyone think about any of this when they started flooding the country with arms last year? As for the people, I just love everyone there and wish them the best. As much as the tour was about the band performing, there seemed to be an importance placed on bonding and spending time with the audience before and after shows. Before the Erbil show Cole Alexander was being taught by a local how to play the Quana (an ancient Egyptian Harp) and it really felt like a collision of cultures, with this American punk band playing ancient instruments in the city which has the longest history of civilization. How do you think this affected the overall tour and filming?  I was watching some footage of the show in Erbil with my new editor the other day and it was so wonderful to see the interactions of the young people and the band after the show. As you know we had to scramble to get any place at all to play in Erbil and it was a small crowd. Coming after Dubai where we had a huge crowd and made a lot of money that could have been a real comedown, but watching the smiles on the faces of the young people who were there and the band taking picture after picture with them will be a real highlight in the film. What do you think is the most important thing you achieved from the whole adventure? That’s a tough one. I’m a filmmaker and I kind of want to wait and see the film that comes out of all of this. But even if the film never got made, I think the whole tour will have a lasting impact on the band and the people we met along the way. I know they said they had never seen anything like it in Cairo or Dubai. Beirut obviously has much bigger acts. But even there people said they were surprised that we came and played. I guess I’m kind of a ‘wait and see’ person. I’m hoping the situation in Syria doesn’t engulf the region because it would be great if our tour was just the first of many by bands that are up and coming in the US and Europe. Whether they be punk acts, indie or whatever. Hopefully there will be more acts coming the other way as well. And less 17th Century German crap. Can you give us information about the narrative route You know, for kids will take? It is a little like those early Bob Dylan docs in my eyes. A performance piece mixed with everyday interactions with people. When can we expect to be able to see the film?  I’m hoping to have it playing in the spring festivals here in the US. After that hopefully the world. And Kurdistan! --------You know, for kids is planned for release in March 2013.


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MELODY’S ECHO CHAMBER © Charlotte Bibby

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W ORD S L uc ie Grace

PHOTO C h a rlo t t e Bi b b y

Melody Prochet rapidly became Crack’s new sweetheart this autumn. Under nom de plume Melody’s Echo Chamber, the Parisian won us over with her magnificently dreamy, self-titled debut album. We met up with her at Cargo and tried not to swoon too much. The East London haunt is buzzing, packed to the rafters, or arches anyway; London is ready to welcome the new enfant on the block. We last saw Melody’s Echo Chamber at this very same venue a few months back, when we were given a rather shy performance from our girl, who barely peeked out from under her fringe as she supported her pals, Aussie rockers Pond. Tonight’s show couldn’t be further removed. We saw an artist in her stride, vocals perfectly on point as she danced hard, charming the crowd like a pro.

TUN E B e Pr ou d O f You r K i d s

Growing up in the South of France, the young Melody was musical even as a tot. “I was really young, like five, and I went to this music kindergarden. I had a report that said ‘Melody has something good’, and my mum showed this to me and said ‘see, you already had it when you were a kid.’” She later took up the viola. “I wanted to play cello, but my mum didn’t have a car, she drives a scooter. I didn’t like the violin, it’s too high. I started with piano and my piano teacher was this young music student. Her mum and her dad were viola teachers and they never had students because viola is not really popular. But it’s so beautiful and warm, and in orchestras there’s no one playing viola and they need them. They said I could always find work if I want, so they recruited me.” We ask what sort of an impact this had on the composition of her album. “I don’t really know”, she considers. “I write in arpeggios, a really classical way

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sale and when I decided to record, knowing it was the end, I had to record there. I think emotionally I have something special there, and my grandmother passed away in the garden there ten years ago and I feel her spirit there and ... I don’t know, it has kind ghosts. I was really emotional when I sung there.” Does she see herself moving back to the countryside? “Yeah, I mean the city is quite oppressive. I live in a flat in Paris, and going to Australia there’s so much space for your soul to breathe. I actually have to move out of my place in December, so it’s good. I like change. I like movement. I like collision. I don’t like routine, that’s for sure.”

There’s no routine to her album. It takes you on a journey full of surprises. We refer particularly to the ‘hidden’ track Isthatwhatyousaid, which, as track nine, is not actually hidden in the literal sense, but is presented Cut to a few hours earlier and to the listener backwards and at Melody arrives fresh from Maida a faster speed. As we expected, Vale Studios where she recorded a there’s a solid reason behind this “ I t s h o u l d n ’ t b e t o r t u r e t o m a k e m u s ic . S o m e session for BBC 6 Music. She is every caper, as Melody explains. “We inch the gorgeous, sweet-natured, didn’t even have time to finish p e o p l e a r e s o t o r t u r e d , w h ic h m a k e s f o r s o m e vaguely bohemian, denim-clad this song, we were limited in time young woman you’d expect, as she and we had more songs, like two b e a u t i f u l s o n g s , a n d I u s e d t o d o t h a t. B u t i t ’ s sits sipping on a ginger ale. Today or three hours of songs that for – the afternoon before her first me were really cool but were just j u s t n o t h e a l t h y . I l i k e d a r k m u s ic a s m u c h a s ever show as a headline act – she is not finished. This one we played a little nervous. Quite thrilled, but with, we put it through filters, a little nervous. “It’s going to be backwards and it sounded cooler. l i g h t, b u t y o u n e e d t h e r i g h t b a l a n c e . ” really special for me emotionally, I like this idea that it was a secret so I am really excited” she admits, that somebody could find. My only before conceding that the show friend that found out about it was “might be a bit short.” That is more than understandable seeing as of writing. I think it kind of helped me to have a vision of arrangements, Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear, and the first thing he told me was “I she’s armed with just a forty-five minute debut album and a wonderful because I really know what I want, what elements I want in songs and pitched it back, I slowed it down.” It was funny.” Chris Taylor is not the rendition of Jane Birkin’s Jane B. It’s hardly surprising that she’s in the I think that’s an orchestral way of arranging.” On that note, she tells us only tech nerd who restored the track though. Before the album was even flow of owning a stage; Melody’s been touring relentlessly these past few that she has started practicing again. “I want to do my arrangements released it appeared on YouTube, back at the speed and in the direction months, supporting The Ravonettes around the States and more recently on my next record so I’m practicing. It’s like a bicycle. But I got worse, that it had been originally, roughly recorded. But Melody’s not phased by back in Europe, playing at Paradiso Festival in Amsterdam as well as the I’m not that great anymore. It would be really satisfying. I feel like an fans toying with her work. On the contrary, she smiles. “I like that. That’s opening party of the excellent Pitchfork Festival in Paris. imposter sometimes because I don’t play everything.” When we point really cool. You have to be a nerd, we were pretty nerdy sometimes. I’m out that she really shouldn’t beat herself up about that fact, she quickly really glad it’s on YouTube. I didn’t think someone would do it so early.” As she continues to sneak her way towards the top of line-ups, does she rebuts that her producer Kevin Parker does all his own arrangements. So find herself preferring supporting roles? “The thing is, being the support is the Aussie whizz kid a factor in Melody’s picking up the viola again? Melody is happy to admit she does have a favourite track on the album. band is really sweet”, she tells us. “You don’t have that much pressure, “When you stay with a bunch of creative and amazing musicians, it Hers is Bisous Magique, “because it all came to me at the same time; you just have fun, if shit happens people don’t have high expectations so motivates you to try harder and be more creative yourself.” the melody, the production, and it was really quite magical. It never it’s cool. But I guess I’m really excited about it being the first time people happened to me before. Usually I start with a melody then some chords come to see us having heard the record. It’s never happened to me before There is of course the other Parker factor: the question of whether or not I work on, and then lyrics later.” We tell her that ours is Be Proud of Your so I’m really looking forward to it.” The record in question was released he is Mr Melody, the other half. We refrain from interrogating her on her Kids, a darling way to close the album. It has a lovely story behind it. on Weird World Records in October; a beautifully textured, playful, love life, which she more than appreciates. But she is happy to discuss The little girl speaking over the song and vocals is Zelda, who Melody moving piece of work. Some people are hooked in by the intrigue of a their working relationship. Does his seemingly laid back demeanour babysat for. “I used to bring her to her first guitar classes. It was really production credit for Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, but not us. There’s translate to the studio? “He’s really soothing, he’s never judgemental. weird because I would sit and wait for her the way my mum would wait simply something magical about this album, and something magical He’s a real guru, he’s got this vision”, she fawns. “It’s been so fun, and for me when I first started music classes. I felt really emotional at the about Melody. It’s an album of juxtapositions: bold but delicate, childlike what I liked is he would never force the working. When it starts to bore time. I miss her. She was always tripping, kids have this amazing sense but serious, sang in both English and French. She confesses that in earlier him he stops. So it’s never an effort. It’s just fun.” Sounds pretty idyllic of imagination, it’s a shame we lose that. You know, when you see a kid musical lives (such as previous band My Bee’s Garden) she preferred to to us. Melody agrees. “I really liked this approach. It shouldn’t be torture on their own, on a beach, having this whole adventure. And they sing sing in English than her mother tongue “just, kind of, to hide things I to make music. Some people are so tortured, which makes for some and they tell stories. Where does that go? When do we lose it?” We might want to say to people that are around. It’s a subconscious thing. It’s my beautiful songs, and I used to do that. But it’s just not healthy. I like dark suggest that Melody hasn’t. There is a childlike wonder about her world. secret. It’s so personal. Everyone’s got a dark side, hey? All your things music as much as light, but you need the right balance.” She speaks her mind. She is spirited and sincere. When we point out that you don’t even tell yourself, your flaws. It’s intriguing.” Quand Vas Tu Rentrer sounds like a nursery rhyme, Melody laughs but The album certainly feels balanced. It is distinctly French in many ways: makes it quite clear – this is not supposed to be a ‘childish’ album. We We find Melody to be incredibly modest, becoming quite shy and fidgety her tempos and harmonies bring to mind scenes of cycling around the return to laughing about tiny Zelda’s crass playground number: “she when talking about herself, but she glows with enthusiasm when cobbled alleyways of a romanticised Paris. But it also has a wonderful was singing this really weird song she learnt at school which was the speaking about music. As she tells us of her current loves, she practically sun-drenched, heat-hazed quality. It makes sense, then, that she wrote most vulgar thing. I had a really big laugh and asked her to do it again brims over. “Recently I fell in love with Selda Bagcan, who is this Turkish and recorded some songs out in Perth – in Kevin Parker’s studio, in fact, and I recorded her, and at the end she says this really funny thing: “I singer who sang traditional songs in the 70s with a really psychedelic which Melody describes fondly as a “glorious mess”. Her stories of being announce to you that the radio is over.” So the record ends like that.” band. It’s the craziest music ever, and she sings in this oriental way and left alone to experiment bring smiles to her face as she tells us: “For one it’s so emotional”. She goes on to reveal her firm favourites are “obviously week Kevin was on tour and he had left all these little notes. Really cute And our interview ends like that. We were utterly wowed by Melody’s Kazu Makino from Blonde Redhead and Trish Keenan from Broadcast.” post-its with how everything worked. So he left that morning and his performance at the show that followed. It was like a scene from A Star She dreams of working with Geoff Barrow of Portishead one day – “I room mate came to use his studio and messed up all the notes, and I had is Born. And what makes it all the more impressive is Melody Prochet want this next record to be extreme and have some darkness. He’s really a week there without knowing how to use it. So I just plugged a guitar is not kicking back and taking any of this for granted. She’s already good at this intense darkness” – and Johnny Greenwood is her hero. “He in, right into the pre-amp, and wrote Some Time Alone and played all the started writing second album. But first things first. Go out and buy her plays viola too, he’s a genius! And he’s a fan of one of my heroes as well, guitars on it really badly. In the end we kept all the guitars because it was remarkable debut. the composer Olivier Messiaen, he’s so cool.” Which brings us nicely to wrong technically but uniquely textured.” She enjoyed the Perth way of another huge element of the Melody appeal; as a classically trained viola life so much that she’s toying with the idea of moving there, or perhaps - - - - - - - - player, it seems that music is in her blood. Like her heroes Greenwood the warmer climes of LA. Particularly now that her Grandparents’ family and Messiaen, Prochet has crochets for DNA. home in the small south coast town of Cavaliere, where she recorded Melody’s Echo Chamber is out now on Weird World Records much of the album, has been sold. “I knew for a few years it was for

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N E A SD E N C O NTR O L C E NT R E a brief glimpse behind the control panel

S I TE neasdencont rol cent re.com

W ORD S Gera int Davi es

Š Neasden Control Centre

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© Neasden Control Centre

In 1999, Stephen Smith and Marcus Diamond formed the Neasden Control Centre, named after the area in which they established their first studio. 13 years later, the evolution of the NCC has been dramatic and wide-reaching, now based around Smith and an expanded web of collaborators. Although Smith hails from Leicester and his work has led him to be geographically transient over the years, even embarking on an enlightening recent trip to Chernobyl, his artistic persona is still defined by the area of Northwest London where NCC’s journey began.

distinctive printed publications, Smith has become a master of treading the line where aptitude across a broad range of media morphs into ‘multimedia’ as a media unto itself.

It’s incredibly difficult to pin down the work which emerges from the Control Centre. The only constant is in the sheer joy of drawing; all other processes, media and concepts appear to stem from that primal, simple urge.

It’s within these published works that many people will have become most familiar with the work of Neasden Control Centre. 2003’s self-titled book sold out completely, and can now be found exchanging hands for some fairly hefty sums. His releases since, Lost Control from 2007 and a 2010 tome documenting his More With Less exhibition, have continued the engrossing trend set out within NCC works: that of immersing the viewer within a myriad of almost stream-of-consciousness ideas, stark contrasts between rough sketching, detailed collage, photography and more, concepts sparking off one another and embarking at evermore wild and fascinating tangents.

Of course ‘drawing’ is, in itself, a vague and indefinable thing. What the NCC succeeds in doing is, from that act of placing pen to paper, birthing a boundless range of concepts, media and applications. From work in illustration, typography and video, to large-scale international exhibitions and installations, as well as a knack for producing incredibly

The style which Smith has made his own, and made synonymous with the NCC name, is at once rugged and expert, childlike yet deeply considered. The broad variety of applications for this vision also means he has never been short of clients eager to bring that influential style to their own projects or brands: see the likes of Nike and MTV calling upon him at www.crackmagazine.net

various points, as well as collaborating on the video for Brooklyn artleaning indie experimentalists TV On The Radio’s single Dancing Choose. The aforementioned More With Less exhibition, held at Eindhoven’s MU gallery, was perhaps as close as one could get to setting foot within one of Neasden Control Centre’s books and being led around its pages and processes. A video sees Smith guiding the viewer through the exhibition, flitting between ideas of linearity and communication keenly and freely. The viewer’s hand is also figuratively held by music, one of Stephen’s resounding passions, and the exhibition itself is described as “a visual mixtape”: an idea of controlling and leading the subject between spaces and ideas remotely. Stephen’s understanding of the power and influence of sound extends further: to his byline as a DJ at monthly clubnight Solution vs. Problem. A glance across their playlists reveals a policy which melts from disco to droning scapes, stumbling through lo-fi angular stabs and flamboyant jazz flurries en route. And as you know with Stephen Smith, you won’t be able to ignore it for a second.


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© Neasden Control Centre

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© Neasdon Control Centre

“the Where are you based at the moment? The name Neasden Control Centre suggests that you place a certain value in geography and place, is that the case?

central

a lway s my

been

a

p r a c t ic e

is

ethos massive the

t h at part

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drawing and the hand -draw I’m currently based in Haggerston, East London sharing a studio with (illustrator) Holly Wales, but I’ve also just taken on another space for making bigger work. Geography and a sense of place/space are really important to me, especially coming from the North, but London is now my home and has been for over 10 years or so. I’ve also been based in You’ve always shown an interest in merging the organic and Manchester, Barcelona and Brighton in between. handmade with digital techniques. Was this a natural blurring of boundaries? What about your ethos has remained consistent from the first day?  Thanks! Yes, it really just comes from my natural process and way of The central ethos that has always been a massive part of my practice is the emphasis on drawing and the hand-drawn. Everything is created in this way, whether that be type or installations, it all starts with the 3 Ds: drawing, drawing, drawing.

doing things. Nothing is ever forced in that way, whatever tool does the best job gets used. Using digital stuff has made things quicker than ever to get that “hand made” or naive look, but there’s nothing like doing it for real. www.crackmagazine.net

has

n”

Does Neasden Control Centre’s versatility stem from your own wide range of creative interests, or an active decision to provide as much variety in output as possible? The versatility comes from either the diversity within my process or the planning of each project. But this comes directly from a central process that stems throughout all my work.

Do you think it’s important to keep a sense of humour in your work? I’m always working on my sense of humour! I hope that comes through in my work too.


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© Neasden Control Centre

What is your personal approach to typography?  I love type. It’s an addiction. I definitely see type as image. I’m also constantly working on making new forms, lines, curves and shapes in each work. The history of type and typographers continues to be a huge part of my research. I would love to make more three dimensional based typefaces. Your published works have been hugely lauded. Does it give you a sense of satisfaction to have these tactile, buy-able documents of your work? Seeing the work through publishing has definitely given me a huge sense of satisfaction. I think once you get the print bug you’re hooked: learning about over printing, colour, texture, different papers, black ink on black paper etc. I’m still fascinated with photocopying, mono print, Riso, silkscreen and etching, wood blocks and more recently 3D printing and laser cutting. I’ve also recently completed a pottery class, learning to apply slips and glazes. That’s a different ballgame though.

© Neasden Control Centre

You described your 2010 exhibition More With Less as a kind of ‘visual mixtape’. Can you explain this fascinating idea a little further?

good working relationship: knowing when to drop ideas and working independently in our studios “across the ocean”, as they say. I always like working for US clients – I like the time difference!

…. pause, rewind to 1989, stop and play. There’s a start, middle and end to creating and seeing every work. It’s a natural process that you can’t avoid, and I’m interested in how the viewer relates to this. Due to the size of the space at Mu, More With Less dealt, amongst other things, with the narrative aspect of how to direct an audience around the show. So I created a series of interventions which acted as breakers, mixing between forms. In a way, I’ve always been hugely inspired by architecture and music, and I think the same principles apply.

Finally, what are the short and long-term plans for Neasden Control Centre? Is there anything in particular we should keep an eye out for? 

You worked on a video for TV on the Radio – a great video for a great band. How did you find that experience? 

In the short term, Node Rugs (a fair trade social business which connects designers with traditional Nepalese rug makers) at the Design Museum is launching soon. But further into the future, I’m constantly working on other stuff. Last year I went to Chernobyl and the Russian Space Centre with Unknown Fields and a big part of my personal work has taken shape from that trip. Keep your eyes peeled for more on that soon. ---------

Great! I worked with Surround Studio in NYC who commissioned me to create the illustration and help with animating the artwork that I produced for the video. Brian and Brad, the directors at Surround, and I have been working on many projects over the years and we have a very www.crackmagazine.net

For more information on Solution vs. Problem at Ridley Road Market Bar, Dalston, visit solutionvsproblem.tumblr.com


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This piece was shot exclusively for CRACK by Sola nike.com/running lightbombing.com

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W ORD S Da vid R eed

DATE S Barbi can H al l | L ondon March 2 0t h T he R i t z | Manchest er March 2 1st

TUN E To da y I s The Day

SITE yo latengo .com

O 2 ABC | Gl asg ow March 2 2 nd Vi car S t reet | D ubl i n March 2 3 rd

life for the cherished indie heroes is every bit as fun as it looks

A pop culture archivist would probably file Yo La Tengo alongside definitive American indie bands such as Guided By Voices, Pavement and Sonic Youth. As tempting as it is to refer to the New Jersey trio as ‘legendary indie rock veterans’, that label simply doesn’t reflect their demeanour. These guys are the antithesis to guitar band bravado, and throughout their career Yo La Tengo have been inspired by new ideas rather than nostalgic desires. Primarily, Yo La Tengo’s set up involves Georgia Hubley behind the drum kit, James McNew on bass and Ira Kaplan playing guitar. But the whole band sings, and they often shift roles, embracing each instrument with effortless aptitude. By the same token, at this stage they’ve become proficient in genres of all kinds, delving freely from lo-fi guitar pop to folk, indie electronica to droned-out psychedelia. Nearly every experiment comes off. On stage, Ira is an incredible presence. Simultaneously unhinged yet focused, he leaps around during the louder moments, fervently hammering a synth or conjuring up a dissonant wall of scuzz by thrashing at his low-slung Fender Jazzmaster. When we make his acquaintance at a Soho hotel bar he’s seriously jetlagged. But for all his tiredness, Ira still comes across as witty and courteous, becoming visibly excited when we broach the subject of live shows and Yo La Tengo’s upcoming album Fade. Like many of the band’s albums, Fade sees Yo La Tengo stylistically shape-shift from track to track, but all the songs somehow radiate a trademark charm that is distinctly theirs. You’d imagine such a broad array of ideas buzzing around Yo La Tengo’s rehearsal space might lead to some awkward disagreements. But according to Ira, the writing process is always democratic. “We always try to arrive at something we all believe in, it’s rare that one of us will be freaking out about something. And it’s not as if there’s anybody in the band who’s like ‘we’re putting a cello on this track and I don’t care what you think’. Even when we write lyrics, we’ll show them to the others in the band before we sing them.” It’s been just over three years since Yo La Tengo released their previous album Popular Songs, but the band have been keeping busy. Over the years they’ve scored movie soundtracks, released many EPs and collaborated with the likes of Daniel Johnson, Yoko Ono and seasoned lo-fi practitioner Jad Fair. They also harbour a passion for conceptual shows: recently they soundtracked a live interactive documentary about the American polymath Richard Buckminster Fuller, and they’ve kept up the annual tradition of playing a string of hometown shows to celebrate the eight days of Hanukkah. During 2010 and ’11, the band toured their ‘Spinning Wheel’ concept. At each gig they’d invite an audience member to spin a game show style wheel with each category denoting the nature of the set to follow. Some nights they’d perform as their garage-punk alter egos Condo Fucks, play songs from James’s side project Dump, run through a set of songs beginning with the letter S or, most notoriously, if the wheel landed on ‘Sitcom Theatre’, the band would re-enact an entire episode of Seinfeld. Things proceeded to get weirder: the band diversified by performing episodes of Spongebob Squarepants and the instalment of US court drama Judge Judy where, inexplicably, John Lydon gets sued.

With a dedicated fanbase, Yo La Tengo’s experimentation is usually well received. Their tendency towards playing obscurities, breaking out into epic freeform jams and scoring arthouse movies are as appreciated as their sugary indie pop hooks. But Ira shares an anecdote of when their desire to both please a crowd and keep the show stimulating was maybe thrown a little out of balance. “We did a show at a Pitchfork festival before I’m Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass came out and we played nothing but unreleased songs from that record. It didn’t down so great!”, he laughs. “I got this one really angry and obnoxious e-mail about it, so I wrote back with what I guess was an angry and obnoxious reply. But then the guy wrote me another more reasonable e-mail just expressing why he felt that the show was disappointing, so I was like ‘Now that you’ve stopped being insulting, I’ll stop being insulting.’ So I explained that every show is different, and that every single time we play a song it’s because we want to, not because we have to. What I’m trying to say is that I think we should just do what we feel is right in the moment, and I think that a lot of the audience respond well when they can see that we’re enjoying ourselves.” Although Yo La Tengo come across as relaxed yet confident, ever willing to take risk, it took a long time for the band to establish this sense of security. Ira and Georgia formed Yo La Tengo around 1984, and up until the early 90s their line-up fluctuated frequently. They’d recruit musicians in their extended social circle to help them out on their tour circuits of bar shows and cramped indie rock clubs. After years of having no definitive bass player, often recruiting producer Gene Holder to fill in, Yo La Tengo’s enduring bassist James McNew joined the band in 1991. According to Ira, this was an absolutely pivotal moment for the band. “Everyone else would be in, like, three other bands, so they’d squeeze in a rehearsal a day before a show. But James rehearsed with us a lot, we made all the songs on Painful together and we sounded much better. It was good to feel in command. That’s when we got involved with Matador, because we were working on something that we were worried was going to get lost in the air because of the situation we were in”. On Painful, Yo La Tengo developed the perfect distillation of their formula, underpinning beautifully tender songs with an instinctive improv impulse and coating them in a wall of shoegaze fuzz. It’s the record that made them the quintessential Matador band, cementing their two decade long relationship with the institutional indie label. If Yo La Tengo fans were forced to make the traumatic decision of choosing their favourite record, many would likely opt for Painful or ‘97’s diverse masterpiece I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One. And that’s not to suggest that Yo La Tengo hit some kind of mid 90s ‘peak’. The excitement around the band has never wavered, charming and intriguing their fans in equal measure throughout the noughties with consistently brilliant output, and Fade is a continuation of that trend. In this light, the title of the album feels slightly ironic, because from what Ira tells us, Yo La Tengo have no intention of slowing down. “It wasn’t easy for us to write a record like Painful. It was a struggle, we did a lot of fighting, we had to challenge ourselves to do things we hadn’t done before. But at this point we understand that sometimes things can fail without it meaning that you’re a failure. We’re more trusting with each other and willing to try new ideas. And I think that now, we’re happier.”

-------“Although of course, the integrity of Yo La Tengo was beyond reproach, I suspect that the structural integrity of the wheel might not have been completely perfect”, Ira confesses. “The ‘Dump’ slot came up a lot more than the others, so we became very polished at that set.” As exciting and hilarious as this all sounds, surely some members of the crowd were demanding refunds? Ira assures us that they’d be rewarded with a few crowd pleasers in the encore to make amends. “The wheel was always just the first of two sets. So the second set always took into account the first. When it landed on the sitcom segment, I guess we’d put more of our well known songs in the second half, sort of as a way of saying ‘Look, we understand what you just had to sit through!” Throughout their career, Yo La Tengo have always radiated good spirits by appearing to genuinely love what they’re doing, something which is key to their appeal. It’s not uncommon to encounter a breakthrough band who are exhausted after just one or two years of touring and press rounds. So is it a sense of autonomy which has given Yo La Tengo the freedom to do what keeps them excited? “You know what? I think we are largely able to do what we want to do. And this seems like such a ridiculous job to have if it’s not fun. It’s not like every single aspect of it is exciting all the time. But, you know, it’s always great to play. I mean, I can’t promise this, but I hope that we’d stop doing this if we weren’t having fun.”

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Fade is released on January 14th via Matador


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The Dagger Brothers Hot Doctor Void of Ovals

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Death Grips NO LOVE DEEP WEB Self Released

90

Efterklang Piramida 4AD

80

Typesun Work Is Love Made Visible Root Elevation

99

Baltic Fleet Towers Blow Up Records

89

Deerhoof Breakup Song ATP Recordings

79

Chilly Gonzales Solo Piano II Gentle Threat

98

Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin Instrumental Tourist Software

88

Vessel Order of Noise Tri Angle

78

Nathan Fake Steam Days Border Community

97

Poliça Give You The Ghost Memphis Industries

87

La Sera Sees The Light Hardly Art

77

Seapony Falling Hardly Art

96

Converge All We Love We Leave Behind Epitaph

86

Addison Grove Transistor Rhythm 50 Weapons

76

Ghosting Season The Very Last Of The Saints Last Night on Earth

95

Cat Power Sun Matador

85

Shed The Killer 50 Weapons

75

Egyptian Hip Hop Good Don’t Sleep R&S

94

Matthew Dear Beams Ghostly International

84

Alt-J An Awesome Wave Infectious

74

Bat For Lashes The Haunted Man Parlophone

93

Andy Stott Luxury Problems Modern Love

83

Off! Off! Vice

73

Daphni Jaialong Jaialong

92

Thee Oh Sees Putrifiers II In The Red

82

Four Tet Pink Text Records

72

Pinkunoizu Free Time! Full Time Hobby

91

Nas Life Is Good Def Jam

81

Oscar Mulero Black Propaganda Warm Up Recordings

71


David Byrne and St Vincent Love This Giant 4AD

70

Purity Ring Shrines 4AD

54

How To Dress Well Total Loss Weird World

38

BEAK> BEAK> Invada

69

Japandroids Celebration Rock Polyvinyl

53

Greeen Linez Things That Fade Diskotopia

37

Mac Demarco 2 Captured Tracks

68

Mr G State of Flux Rekids

52

Phèdre Phèdre Daps Records

36

Animal Collective Centipede Hz Domino

67

The Walkmen Heaven Bella Union

51

Melody’s Echo Chamber Melody’s Echo Chamber Domino

35

Killer Mike R.A.P. Music Williams Street

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Dinosaur Jr. I Bet on Sky Jagjaguwar

50

Seams Tourist/Sleeper Full Time Hobby

34

Ty Segall Twins Drag City

65

Father John Misty Fear Fun Bella Union

49

Blondes Blondes RVNG Intl

33

Scuba Personality Hotflush

64

Kindness World, You Need a Change of Mind Polydor

48

Wild Nothing Nocturne Bella Union

32

Sharon Van Etten Tramp Jagjaguwar

63

Beach House Bloom Sub Pop

47

Tallest Man on Earth There’s No Leaving Now Dead Oceans

31

Carter Tutti Void Transverse Mute

62

Lone Galaxy Garden R&S

46

Micachu and the Shapes Never Rough Trade

30

Mala Mala In Cuba Brownswood

61

DIIV Oshin Captured Tracks

45

Grizzly Bear Shields Warp

29

THEESatisfaction awE naturalE Sub Pop

60

Wolf + Lamb Versus Wolf + Lamb

44

Dirty Projectors Swing Lo Magellan Domino

28

Tall Ships Everything Touching Big Scary Monsters / Blood + Biscuits

59

Richard Hawley Standing At The Sky’s Edge Mute

43

Chromatics Kill for Love Italians Do It Better

27

Holy Other Held Tri Angle

58

Jessie Ware Devotion Island

42

Liars WIXIW Mute

26

Maria Minerva & LA Vampires Integration Not Not Fun

57

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SpaceGhostPurrp Mysterious Phonk 4AD

25

NZCA/Lines NZCA/Lines Loaf

56

The Invisible Rispah Ninja Tune

40

Actress R.I.P Honest Jon’s Records

24

Erdbeerschnitzel Tender Leaf Mirau

55

JJ Doom Key to the Kuffs Lex Records

39

Auntie Flo Future Rhythm Machine Huntleys and Palmers

23

Neneh Cherry & The Thing The Cherry Thing Smalltown Supersound


DJ Rashad Teklife Vol. 1 Lit City Trax

22

Grimes Visions 4AD

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While Traxman had already provided 2012 with one solid slice of fried footwork gold, Rashad came swiftly in his wake with an even more impressive full-length offering: 20 blasts of juddering, hypnotic energy, at times joyously mental, yet frequently marked by a real intelligence and lightness of touch. With the increasingly well-travelled figurehead drawing extensive influence into what was

A creative force of nature, Grimes’ meteoric explosion is at odds with the introverted, anti-populist nature of Claire Boucher herself. At odds, yet oddly refreshing. Perhaps it’s the aesthetic, the sheer ‘2012-ness’ of it, which struck a chord, more so than Visions itself. There are sparks of brilliance, Genesis and Oblivion becoming slippery, ethereal anthems. Yet while hers was the undoubtedly definitive sound

once an insular sound, this is musical evolution in action. GHD

of the year, whether Grimes can stand the test of time remains to be seen. GHD

Patrick Watson Adventures in Your Own Backyard Domino

21

Bursting at the seams with the same sublime songwriting and musicianship that made his first three albums such essential listening, Adventures In Your Own Backyard marked a career turning point for Patrick Watson. Backed by a string of critically-lauded live shows, this tender tour-de-force reached further than any of his previous efforts, both in sound and success. Truly a talent to be treasured. BG

Goat World Music Rocket

13

One of the most unlikely stories to emerge this year, Goat are a long-running, loose collective hailing from a tiny village in Northwest Sweden, drawing overwhelming influence from voodoo culture and psychedelia. But as the title suggests, World Music is not about drawing a collection of sounds from one place: it’s a kaleidoscopic barrage of twisted mutant disco, unchained garage freak-outs, and odd-ball pop moments that slide together into a sonic melange of twisted genius. AH

Michael Mayer Mantasy Kompakt

20

It was fitting that the centrepiece of the esteemed label’s return to form – via a slew of fantastic 12”s and some excellent LPs – came from one of its owners. Giving us a record that’s as fluent in deep-kosmiche (Sully) as it is in acid-tinged techno (Neue Furche), as happy to lollop (Wrong Move) as wallop (Voigt Kampf Test) – he even chucks in some Immer referencing birdsong infused microhouse for

Graham Coxon A+E Parlaphone

12

April saw Mr. Coxon escaping the Blur merry-go-round to quietly release his eighth solo full-length. For many, it was his best. From the opening guitar clang of Advice, A+E was unrecognisable from the introverted folk of 2009’s The Spinning Top. And via the mechanical plod of City Hall and the dense blues shuffle of Ooh Yeh Yeh, a step out of the spotlight revealed a Coxon as bold and idiosyncratic as ever. GHD

good measure. JB

Robert Glasper Black Radio Blue Note

19

Tamaryn Tender New Signs Mexican Summer

11

On paper it sounds like a bit of a mess. Enlisting a wealth of celeb mates from the worlds of hip-hop and neo-soul, Glasper sets out to make a jazz crossover album, climaxing with a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit. But Black Radio is a record that is both diverse and coherent. Fiasco, Badu, Bilal and Yasiin (formerly Mos Def) are just a few guest stars and, unlike many feature-heavy records, Glasper’s arrangements

Singlehandedly proving that shoegaze isn’t dead (it was just staring at the floor for a bit), Tamaryn unleashed a shimmering, pulsating firewall of a record in Tender New Signs. Heavily sedated but overflowing with churning melodies and blistering in its stately intensity but soothing at the same time, this is an album of stark, compelling, contrasts. And final track Violet’s in a Pool is a genuinely scary piece of

and musicianship tie it together with ease. JD

music; a decadent death waltz for 2012.  AC

Dam Mantle Brothers Fowl Notown

18

Swans The Seer Young God

10

With a series of unique singles and EPs in the bank, Crack was eagerly anticipating Glasgow-based producer Dam Mantle’s first full length. We weren’t disappointed. It’s a record teeming with ideas, from familiar abstract jams to some more surprising house-influenced grooves, all executed masterfully. Brothers Fowl is a statement of purpose, the first chance to get the full picture of a producer with

The Seer is a transcendent masterpiece, in turns both grotesque and beautiful, yet always maintaining a simmering sense of threat. Michael Gira’s exercises in cathartic repetition and pounding noise are the inevitable main draw here, but there’s equal enjoyment to be taken in his restrained forays into lilting gothiccountry and coruscating aural landscapes. Despite a fractured lifespan of 20 years,

countless strings to his bow. JD

2012 will likely be remembered as the year that Swans really arrived. TH

Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka They!Live 50 Weapons

17

Ital Dream On Planet Mu

A couple of lads from Swansea, decamped to Berlin, might not have been the obvious choice to conjure one of 2012’s most memorable electronic albums. While tracks such as Battleships, Juggernaut and the epic Creeper were popping up on mixes across the board, only when experienced in its entirety can the emotive, linear qualities of They!Live be fully appreciated in all their sombre, dewy-eyed glory.

Though we were endeared by Ital’s Theme last year, we could never have imagined Daniel Martin McCormick’s art-damaged dance project would become this engrossing. Having proved he could lock into a sturdy pulse on Hive Mind, Dream On is the culmination of his vision. Emotive house and techno-related beats form the canvas on which he splashes his unconventional fragments of noise, resulting

Almost 12 months after its release, it continues to impress. GHD

in a record that drives physical impulses while causing the mind to implode. DR

Ricardo Villalobos Dependent and Happy Perlon

16

METZ METZ Sub Pop

With this release, Villalobos’ position as a producer who imbues his techno with a sense of the experimental has switched – this is the avant garde with one eye rolled back in its skull, the other on the dancefloor. This nominal-techno inhabits a space where the essences of sound, texture and atmospherics are foregrounded, creating a record that luxuriates in its twin manipulation of temporality and techno

Punk is rarely fierce and fiery enough for us these days. Toronto three-piece METZ came along and filled the void with electrifying jams that satisfied, and then some. With the single Wet Blanket swiftly followed by their ferocious self-titled debut, it was soon clear that Sub Pop’s new boys are not fucking about. Intense live performance cemented their cause. These boys mean it. Live fast but don’t die

signifiers. A deep, demanding, fully rewarding listen.  JB

young METZ. We want a few more albums like this. LG

Guy Gerber Fabric 64 Fabric

15

Let’s get this out the way. When a mix CD – that traditionally features tracks from various artists – actually consists of 16 original productions it counts as an album. OK. Step-up Israeli producer/DJ Guy Gerber, who’s created an exceptionally cohesive and free-flowing electronic album, the kind of which are in frustratingly short supply. A hypnotic, trippy house flow builds and collapses, yet the ethereal quality never lapses. A stunning, emotionally charged ride. TF

Flying Lotus Until The Quiet Comes Warp “People don’t want me to do what they want me to do, they want me to do what I want to do”. That’s how Flying Lotus defined his approach to Until The Quiet Comes earlier this year. From the dragging glitch-hop of Putty Boy Strut to the muscular Sultan’s Request and the divine Phantasm, deeply memorable collaborations failed to pull focus from the sparkling production at the album’s core. His fourth record simply stretched FlyLo’s lead at the front of the pack. GHD

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Frank Ocean Channel Orange Def Jam Now that the intoxicating hype has faded, we’re even more certain that Channel Orange is flawless. As one of the most talented singers in recent memory, Frank’s voice radiates a golden glimmer throughout the album’s gorgeous sonic palette of neo-soul. Lyrically, Channel Orange is celebratory yet unafraid to zoom into life’s unglamorous corners, and the tales of unrequited love are so universally relatable that all the controversy about the pronouns were eclipsed. DR

Kendrick Lamar good Kid, m.A.A.d city Aftermath/Interscope

5

The Men Open Your Heart Sacred Bones

3

As if they were using half a can of Lynx Africa and a chipped B&H silver behind their ear to attract a mate, The Men strode assuredly into 2012 with a record of unmatched precision and veracity. Open Your Heart is proof, if ever proof was needed, that the right way to do guitar music is just to turn all the amps to 11, open up the garage door, pick up your guitar and smash it through the postman’s teeth hole. Do all that whilst being profound, coherent and intrinsically well-designed and you might be halfway to out-cooling

We had high expectations, and good Kid, m.A.A.d city surpassed them all, cementing Kendrick Lamar’s status as one of rap’s great raconteurs. With Compton as the backdrop, Dre as the executive director and Lamar’s immensely technical rhymes forming the semi-autobiographical script, the cinematic quality of this record is deeply fulfilling. But due to the perfection of each beat and Lamar’s ability to pen unforgettable hooks, the album comes off as addictive rather than challenging. Comparisons to classics are usually unfair, but even next to Illmatic, 2001 or Speakerboxxx/The

The Men. BB

Love Below, good Kid, m.A.A.d city still stands tall. DR

Portico Quartet Portico Quartet Real World

4

Tame Impala Lonerism Modular

2

Jazz-techno anyone? If you were looking for a glorious change of direction this year, Portico were your men. Self-titled, self-assured and layered with swathes of sonic experimentation, their third full-length stood out a mile. Less focused on the hang drum that defined previous releases, the minimal, sparse approach, killer production quality and some truly stunning arrangements left an indelible mark. Among the most contemporary records of the year, the electronic shift of mentality heralded infinite new possibilities for one of the UK’s most distinctive acts.

With their debut album, Tame Impala established themselves as the neo-psychedelic stoners of the day: a groove-ridden collection of pop songs marked by deep, heady chords, Lennon-esque vocals and sprawling guitar wiggery. 2012’s follow-up Lonerism multiplied and perfected those attributes manyfold, infusing them with analogue synths and samples of Parisian ambience, ending in an album that feels utterly complete. A mixture of lush hooks and experimental jams are linked together by a sedated, summery haze, and with such euphoric tunes as Apocalypse Dreams, there’s no denying the

TF

untouchable talent behind this sublime effort. JTB

1

John Talabot ƒin Permanent Vacation 2009’s dancefloor-ready anthem Sunshine, a carefree morsel of bass heft and hooky melody, saw John Talabot become a name to drop. Yet it wasn’t until we heard his stunning remix of Teengirl Fantasy’s Cheaters that we began to suspect what the Barcelona-based producer and DJ might be capable of over the space a full-length album. His debut saw a turn towards the organic, eking sheer, buzzing emotion from hardware. ƒin is an album to make you dance and break your heart. From found samples to spectral slivers of morphing voices and subtle timbral shifts, the album comes steeped in the ubiquity of an absorbing Balearic haze. Whilst its relationship to house music stands firm, this album is worlds from being esoteric. It is inclusive, powerful and relatable on a fundamental level. As a liminal, somewhat evasive figure – though his gold-shrouded persona soon petered out as demand grew – it’s remarkable that the listener is able to emote so freely. While vocal contributions, notably from Pional, provide tangible narrative waves, the volumes spoken wordlessly are equally resonant. In flutters and snaps, warps and swells, Talabot communicates seamlessly, producing songs which are at turns sinister and tempting, an enticing coo or an icy murmur. From the intoxicating chord flows of Oro y Sangre and Missing You, to Last Land, where hypnotic rhythms and vocal samples extend and merge into sonorous snare snaps, it all leads to the album’s mesmeric climax, So Will Be Now. A masterful and touching piece which gathers textures as it progresses, it is the encapsulation of the album as a truly edifying, rewarding experience. John Talabot’s ƒin stood alone as a beacon of ambition, vision and execution in 2012. GHD


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Rival Headshot Season Major Music Entertainment

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Gotye feat. Kimbra Somebody That I Used To Know Universal

40

The Cribs Come On, Be A No One Wichita

30

ASAP Rocky Goldie RCA

49

Friends I’m His Girl Lucky Number

90 39

Cody ChestnuTT That’s Still Mama One Little Indian

90 29

Death Grips I’ve Seen Footage Epic

48

Jesse Boykins III & Melo-X Perfect Blues Ninja Tune

38

Grizzly Bear Yet Again Warp

28

Pure Bathing Culture Ivory Coast Memphis Industries

47

Footprintz Rush to the Capsule (Ewan Pearson Remix) Turbo

37

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti Baby 4AD

90 27

Dusky Flo Jam Dogmatik

46

Tom Demac Critical Distance Pt. 2 Hypercolour

36

Bicep Vision of Love Feel My Bicep

26

King Tuff Bad Thing Sub Pop

45

The xx Chained XL

35

Frank Ocean Pyramids Def Jam

90 25

Tame Impala Elephant Modular

44

Lower Dens Brains Ribbon

34

Pachanga Boys Time Hippie Dance

24

Loudon Wainwright III In C 2nd Story Sound

43

Burial Ashtray Wasp Hyperdub

33

Savages Husbands Pop Noire

90 23

Usher Climax RCA

42

Atoms for Peace Default XL

32

Father John Misty Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings Bella Union

22

Jessie Ware Running Island

41

The White Lamp It’s You Futureboogie

31

Ben Pearce What I Might Do MTA Records

90 21


20

Sure Thing Holding You Tight Gutterfunk

Kindness House Polydor

70 19

Palma Violets Best of Friends Rough Trade

70 18

How to Dress Well & It Was U Weird World

70 17

Andres New For U La Vida

70 16

Chromatics Back From The Grave Italians Do It Better

15

Action Bronson & RiFF RaFF Bird On a Wire

70 14

10

Holograms ABC City Captured Tracks

The antagonism in Holograms’ sound reflects frustration brewed from being stuck working menial warehouse labour jobs. On single ABC City, the angry Swedes condensed their manifesto into three minutes of pure punk perfection. Hovering new wave synth bleeps and a growling, metallic bassline build suspense before the track snaps into a hyperactive anthem spearheaded by fizzy power chords and Anton Spetze’s audacious howl. Expected to submit to apathy, here Holograms sound like they’re kicking back with defiance and discontent. DR

Major Lazer Get Free Downtown Records

70 13

Twin Shadow Five Seconds 4AD

70 12

When you start listening to an album, you want to be reminded immediately of why you put it on in the first place. Bang! The best opening track to any album we’ve heard this year, T=O’s opening lines are a precursor to an utterly explosive guitar record that expands and builds in four minutes of riotous riff. Just hear it loud and live; we did and we lost of our shit. An absolute barnstormer. TF

8

Todd Terje Inspector Norse Smalltown Supersounds Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po grow up. They decide to make a ‘club banger’ after attending a Nordic disco all-nighter at Fabric. They trade Noo-noo in for an ARP2600. They get fucked on Tubby Toast and make a track on said synthesiser. They know it’s a hit. But they don’t need the credit. Instead, they send it Todd Terje, who basks in the knowledge that all summer long, ‘his’ track put fun back on the dancefloor. RB

7

Odd Future Oldie Odd Future Records Despite their occasional bursts of prodigious raw talent, the story of Odd Future is already tainted by plenty of misfires. But what’s not so debatable is the fact these bratty kids made it to the top without compromising for anyone. On this 10 minute long victory lap, they flaunt their explosive chemistry over a spacious beat that compliments every member’s flow. By this point Earl Sweatshirt’s exile had made him a mythologised figure, and hearing him spit a mind-blowing surprise comeback verse was undoubtedly one of the most stirring sounds we heard all year. DR

6

Julio Bashmore Au Seve Broadwalk Records 2012 saw the relentless march of Julio Bashmore continue. With Au Seve, Bashmore followed up 2011’s Battle For Middle You, scoring undisputed tune of the summer, for the second summer running. The prominence of the record was felt at festivals and a rich variation of club nights all over the land and beyond. It’s often the simplicity in Bashmore’s music that ignites dancefloors so effectively, and the words “oh baby” alongside an iconic bassline proved impossible to resist. We’re in

70 11

Jessie Ware 110% Island

9

Tall Ships T=0 Big Scary Monsteres / Blood + Biscuits

December, and it’s still everywhere. TF

Joy Orbison Ellipsis Hinge Finger

5

Japandroids The House That Heaven Built Polyvinyl

3

She looks a little bit like Daria, the irony that you’re in Frankie and Benny’s feels sorta right, you both get it (or at least sorta get it). She orders the calzone. When it arrives you think your meat feast is looking prett-ay exotique. She slices her calzone and you realise that all this time she was the fucking calzone! Beige on the outside, but actually bursting with tasty nutritious fillings! We’re almost certain someone explained being young and in love better than that this year. Oh yeah, it

Joy O(rbison) heard you like 90s rave, so he put some 90s rave in your 90s rave so you can 90s rave with your 90s rave. A crowd favourite for months before release, complete with easily-memorised spoken words and emotive piano section, Ellipsis is a paean to a nostalgia-plated era of British dance music produced by a man ‘just doing his own thing’. No wonder the 12” goes for eye-watering sums on Discogs. RB

was Japandroids. BB

Daughter Smother 4AD Daughter’s auspicious signing to the perpetually consistent 4AD had many scrambling to be enlightened about this youthful London three-piece. With their first release for the imprint, it all immediately made sense. From Elena Tonra’s reluctant opening breaths of “I’m wasted, losing time / On a foolish, fragile spine”, the song gathers texture upon texture, swelling into the broadest expanses and sweeping up all in its path with devastating poignancy. Daughter document brittle humanity in a way very few can equal. GHD

4

TNGHT Higher Ground Warp

2

No matter how many ropey DJs drop it, no matter how much radio play it gets, the level of adrenaline that Higher Ground fuels still hasn’t diminished, and the cynics who deny it are probably lying. The synergy of TNGHT is perfect, with HudMo boosting Lunice’s sharp drum grids with fat slabs of technicolour maximalism. And through garish synth horns, a compressed 808 kick and lacerating hi-hats, Higher Ground has channelled the menacing grandiose of Lex Luger’s trap formula to crammed dancefloors across the globe, inspiring total mayhem each and every time. DR


48

1

Jai Paul Jasmine XL If any piece of music adequately pinpoints where Crack’s headspace would like to remain after a long year buried in music, it’s Jai Paul’s Jasmine. Still an enigma at large, the London-based artist has remained completely detached from all forms of limelight, and although his identity is still largely submerged, Jasmine continues to mean many things to many people. From that unprompted, fanfare-less emergence as a ‘demo’, the track spread into unchartered realms. Crack lost count of how many DJs used it as their mid/late set curveball track, a mood setting moment before a big finish. To the guys, the smoky, romantic overtones gave it a wonderful melancholic quality. For the girls, there has seldom been a more invigorating, sultry slice of contemporary R’n’B. From the off, the deceptive rolling percussion hints at a hidden depth, before guitars meld from measured chords to a Prince-baiting lick. The understated beauty of the record builds and builds towards a rougher crescendo, with Jai Paul begging “to make my dream come true”, before reverting back to that guitar line. For those who weren’t living in an electronically saturated bubble in 2012, this was the beautiful antidote. Crack isn’t quite sure who Jasmine is, but she’s lighting fuses everywhere.

TF

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This winter we teamed up with Nike for an exclusive fashion shoot with light artist Sola. Shot in Shoreditch, using Nike’s reflective running Shield Collection, an exclusive behind the scenes video featuring runners from Run Dem Crew can be seen on crackmagazine.net nike.com/running lightbombing.co.uk ~

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Olivier wears Nike Flash Running Vest Nike Wool Half Zip Top Nike Element Shield Running Tights Nike Air Pegasus+ 29 Shield ~

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FROM LEFT TO RIGHT Sarah Mei wears NIKE Fanatic Running Hoodie Nike Element Thermal Half-Zip Top Olivier wears NIKE Flash Running Vest NIKE AW77 Overlay Hoodie Sarah Mei wears NIKE Element Shield Max jacket NIKE Dri-FIT Shield Running Vest NIKE Tempo Print Running Shorts NIKE Element Shield Running Tights Nike Air Pegasus+ 29 Shield Nike+ FuelBand ~

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W ORD S Augustin Mace l l ari

59

S I TE new cont emporari es.org .uk

bloomberg N E W C O NTE M P O R A R I E S // We’re sitting facing Sacha Craddock. She’s the director of New Contemporaries, the annual poll of the UK’s best art students and graduates. It’s open to anyone in their last year of study, or in their first year as a graduate. Every year it attracts over 1000 entrants. This year, only 29 were selected to exhibit.

floor gallery. Like a finishing line, two pieces of what could be fencing support a piece of white fabric, half printed with tally marks. Refreshingly, the wood at either end has also been nicely finished, giving it an aesthetic distance from the ubiquitous art-school look of plain MDF. We also like her piece Spaghetti alle vongole, because we like spaghetti alle vongole. There’s a sense of humour present that lifts it above some other work in the exhibition.

For the few who make the grade, it represents a serious step on the road to a career as a practicing artist. The show has been going, on and off, since 1949, as Sacha tells us. “In the old days, New Contemporaries was called Young Contemporaries – until people realised that was a bit oppressive to mature students. It has existed in many guises, in this particular one since ’89, when it was established as a notion and launched at the ICA.”

Elsewhere on the ground floor, there’s Piotr Krzymowski’s film 73, an enjoyable series of film snippets, looped and separated by a series of slightly ominous numbers. The film snippets are great; beautiful Mediterranean frames that never run for more than a few seconds and loop several times before moving on to the next. Piotr, like Lauren, ticks the trendy-art boxes, name checking hip tropes, but also like Lauren he pokes his head above the parapet. There are misses, but curator Matt Williams has done a fine job of balancing the work and 1989 was quite a year for New Contemporaries, with participants including Glenn Brown, Damien Hirst and its distribution. Mark Leckey. Subsequent years have seen the likes of Chris Ofili, Tacita Dean, Gillian Wearing and Bob & Roberta Smith to name but a few. In fact, since Hirst won in 1995, former New Contemporaries have been regularly During our interview, Matt discussed the difficulties this kind of group show represents in terms of maintaining cropping up in the Turner Prize, both as winners and nominees. an equilibrium. “I have to try and ensure there’s a balance between the lower and the upper galleries, that they are as strong as one another and that the upper gallery doesn’t feel fragmented or neglected.” The ICA is The core principles upon which New Contemporaries was rebooted centre around a democratic approach; when interestingly, if challengingly, laid out; the upstairs and downstairs galleries are interrupted by a café, which asked how the show has evolved over the years, Sacha is unembarrassed to report that it hasn’t, really. “It has effectively severs any contiguity between the two, but despite this the upper floors feel as much a part of the developed, but it hasn’t really changed, in that the principle of it has remained very sound. I feel that my role exhibition as the downstairs. is one of maintaining simple, democratic ideas about the selection and the process. Development is important, but at some level one also has to admit what matters is if the structure is strong enough for the work itself The dark space is a particular triumph, helped by an extremely strong roster of films. Evariste Maiga’s to succeed.” Improvisation, pain and joy, in which the artist dances in a white space to Knowing Looks’ rather silly track Ghost Baby, is very strong. As the film continues, the fun and irreverence starts to wear thin, the dancing changes These “democratic ideas” can be understood, more simply, as fairness: the application process is gruelling, but from celebration to compulsion and it suddenly becomes intense. Jamie Buckley’s MUC 72 is also powerful; only to ensure applicants get the opportunity to best represent themselves and their practice. “We make the beautifully composed shots of the now decaying Olympic Village from Munich’s notorious 1972 Olympic games application incredibly open for the artists, in that you can send in a tremendous number of images, films and are juxtaposed with archive footage of the athletes inhabiting them. They become like ghosts, haunting what proposals. We try and allow people to show themselves in quite a three-dimensional way, it’s not a matter of just remains with their absence. looking at one image, but of actually getting a sense of what somebody’s work might be about.” This exhibition is always going to be tricky; degree shows are notoriously hard to curate into something cohesive, The panel of selectors is carefully picked to minimise the risk of elitism, with discord often contrived to stimulate and in many ways this is what Bloomberg New Contemporaries is, albeit one with the highest possible standards. real discourse. “It’s important the panel doesn’t just consist of the usual suspects, that there’s not some sense It offers the best new work a platform to be seen, and to breathe, and the artists “their first chance to be separate of pre-judgement or knowledge and that there’s some kind of difficulty on the panel, that there’s actually a from art school, and to have their work seen as something separate from it.” These guys are just starting their discussion.” The priority, really, is to make sure every applicant’s voice will be fairly catered for. careers, and it all seems very promising. This year’s exhibition won’t necessarily surprise. Impeccably curated, it’s a great looking show, but the fact is - - - - - - - - - that – bar a few exceptions – much of the work is exactly what you’d expect to see. Take, for example, Lauren Godfrey. Her work is bang on-trend, with grainy textures and kooky motifs. However it is also substantive. Her Bloomberg New Contemporaries runs at the ICA until January 13th 2013. large sculpture Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther runs alongside one wall of the ground


new cinemas open fri 7 dec See the latest blockbusters and indie hits in the heart of the City barbican.org.uk


FILM

61

WORDS: Tim Oxley S m i th

The Master

Amour

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson Starring: Phillip Seymour Hoffmann, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams

Dir. Michael Haneke Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert

Dir. Bill Condon Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Martin Sheen

16/20

19/20

0/20

When watching a Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA), audiences can certainly expect brows to be raised, but also to be enthralled. His past works have explored the somewhat tepid but enticing relationship between morality and Americana, and The Master represents his latest examination of this duality.

When you win the Palme D’or two years out of four by exploring two strongly polarised themes but you still quintessentially remain true to yourself as a director, you’re pretty much the dog’s bollocks. Enter Michael Haneke.

We’d never seen a Twilight film before. It took us about two minutes to be reminded why. It’s the same reason we go out on weekends to avoid The X Factor and why we don’t read the Daily Mail.

Amour is one of Haneke���s most balanced, subtle films to date. Here he achieves his grandeur not in unhinged sociological catastrophes or breathtaking set pieces. We observe an elderly couple’s struggle against ageing as a husband clings onto his love towards his wife, who suffers a series of strokes. As her mental and physical health deteriorates, so does a once beautiful love for one another.

Sure, we’ve always known it was there. Yet Crack had never previously felt the urge to rip the shit out of this knicker-wetting phenomenon. As it reaches the pinnacle of this seemingly neverending saga, the timing just felt right. And in many ways, it didn’t disappoint. From the word go, dialogue is dim, the special effects are woeful and strangely, everyone seems to be dressed in Gap clothing.

As grim as this sounds, Haneke thrives. His exploration of the bleakness of the human condition in fact becomes replenishing. A disillusionment with how shit life generally is, combined with a masterfully honed cinematic ability to tell a story, hits deep and direct.

We can’t confirm whether we’re able to actually see the contractuallyobliged cast counting their fees in their mind’s eye, or it’s just the shit contact lenses they’ve got them wearing. Either way, they’re working with a script which would fall below the standard of many a TV series. At least Buffy The Vampire Slayer was self-aware and fun. True Blood was actually a bit sexy. But Breaking Dawn Pt 2 sucks all the fun out of being a vampire – pun intended.

With the mouth-watering prospect of the Phoenix and Hoffman pairing, Crack has been craving PTA’s follow up to There Will Be Blood for some time. The Dano/Day-Lewis encounter played out against the American outback was always likely to occupy the back of our minds, and The Master isn’t a hugely different beast. Two lead male roles wrestle for supremacy and to be loved respectively; Jonny Greenwood supplies another menacing orchestral soundtrack to a story set in one of America’s great bygone eras. Officially this film is not a comment on Scientology, but unofficially, it is. PTA profoundly scrutinises not just Scientology, but also the madness of Westernised religion as a fetish rather than a belief. The two lead roles, magnanimous as they are, can be guilty of overacting at some key points of the film. This can leave the audience on the sidelines, rather than immersed in the psyche of their epic showdown. This artifice contradicts Anderson’s use of improv, which leaves us occasionally underwhelmed by the tour de force, Oscar-hunting acting on show. This is what leads to The Master not fully clicking together. The individual tried-and-tested components of a Paul Thomas Anderson are all there, but unlike the moonshine peddled by Phoenix’s character Freddie Quell, the concoction can’t quite pack the desired punch.

The film is set in the couple’s beautiful Parisian apartment, an atmosphere where confinement has seldom been so well explored. Every frame offers something to assist the character’s brilliantly executed but understated expressions. With pitch perfect performances from Trintignant and Riva, the film looks death right in the eye, and with Haneke at the helm, we feel safe in the knowledge one of the finest film makers that ever lived is on unstoppable form. Death and ageing has affected, and will affect us all. Haneke’s exploration of this universal factor of life is so majestic, and also so delicate, that Amour is film at its best.

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There is not one iota of significance, originality or quality in this movie or (we presume) even the franchise. Hopefully, the pubescent mess that is Twilight will be swiftly chicken scratched under the carpet of time and shame. Breaking Dawn Part 2 is like undergoing Ludovico treatment, absorbing pretty much everything Crack hates about these dark and shallow side films and culture. If you know somebody who enjoyed this, don’t feel bad for liking them less. Strike them off, like we may have to do to Michael Sheen for starring in this movie. Just joking, we love you Mike.


62

MYSTIC GREG

T

his Christmas one of the world’s greatest mysteries will be answered once and for all. What lies beneath the pyramids? The aristocracy of an age past, I hear you say. No, you know nothing. For I have looked deep into my crystal ball, and there is more shit about to kick off in the Middle East. The Masons have known this for years, but lying dormant under the Pyramids of Giza lies a force more devastating than Justin Lee Collins’s fists at a feminist rally. What sleeps beneath the pyramids is, in fact, Santa Claus. But not the one that you’ve been thinking of. This guy’s lean, mean and he’s hell-bent on enslaving humanity, eating all of our babies, and confiscating all of our Christmas presents and replacing them with incendiary devices, then making us play life or death charades whilst an evil pack of reindeers prance around bumming unassuming carol singers. Enjoy Christmas. The end is nigh!

‘WOODSMAN GEORGE’

- A obsessive mutilator of childrens’ toys, Woodsman George likes the feeling of plucking off the heads of puppets and toys alike. He is a simple fellow, loafing around without a care in the world, and less care still for basic hygiene ... - Mr Mead mrmead.co.uk

CRACK CROSSWORD Across 2. A type of knee-raising, elbow popping dance originally reserved for Ska music (5) 6. To make use of (6) 7. Japanese soup with bits in (4) 10. Disney’s latest purchase (4,4) 11. Out under the big blue sky (8) 15. I won’t eat a cow, but I’ll sure as hell eat a cod, mate (11) 17. A celestial body which survives its impact with the Earth (9) 18. The divine Melody of Echo Chamber fame’s surname (7) 20. The Jungle Book’s diminutive hero (6) Down 1. Walk without purpose (6) 3. Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and ______ make up the ‘Big Four of Thrash’ (6) 4. Have a little nap (5,5) 5. Legendary British label which brought you The Smiths, The Libertines and The Strokes (5,5) 8. Stewart provides the beats for Sting to yelp along to (8) 9. Martha, Rufus and Loudon make up this musical dynasty (10) 10. Russian casserole (10) 12. Hard to get hold of (8) 13. It might not have the opera house, but it’s still the capital of Oz (8) 14. Mess about with a violin (6) 15. Mayhem (11) 16. Opening this will lead to a load of hassle (3,2,5) 19. The nasty tasting outside bit of an orange (4)

last issue’s crossword: ACROSS: 1. MASSAGE, 4. WHOPPER, 6. BROWNSWOOD 7. SLOPPY, 8. ARSON, 11. WETHERSPOONS, 13. PISTE, 15. TEARDROP, 16. THREESOME, 19. SQUARE 20. TEXAS DOWN: 2. ARMSTRONG, 2. INNOCENT, 5. HANDKERCHIEF, 9. VELVET, 10. DOG EAT DOG, 12. SHAMBLES, 13. PIRATE, 14.LOVELESS, 17. ROMERO, 18. SUBTLE


THE SHACKLEWELL ARMS

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ALLAH LAS / FURS ------------------------------Wednesday 12 December

MMOTHS / MINOTAUR SHOCK ------------------------------Sunday 16 December

DAWN HUNGER ------------------------------Wednesday 19 December

JAMES YORKSTON CHRISTMAS SHOW ------------------------------Thursday 20 December

FIELD DAY X EAT YOUR OWN EARS XMAS PARTY ------------------------------Monday 31 December

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Live Music

Resident Advisor - In:Motion Motion | Bristol November 17th …………………………. An assemblage of key figures in electronic music, a liberal mixture of live acts and DJ sets and a variety in sound you couldn’t wish to better. This is what to expect when the global force that is Resident Advisor add their weight to the In:Motion calendar. With each room having its own constantly morphing flavour, the only problem was keeping track of who you were currently watching, who you were missing or had already missed. Of course the main room acts were an easy spot. There was no mistaking Rustie, who blasted out cuts from Glass Swords alongside raw hip-hop bangers. Shackelton was as consistent and memorable as we’d hoped and, of course, SBTRKT provided the crowd-pleasing headline set he’d been called upon to deliver. Not a room or dancefloor was left empty, but Space Dimension Controller’s set was a highlight which attracted a well-balanced mass of writhing bodies over in the Cave. This was a large-scale club night not spoilt by mass or volume, and its success came largely from the deeply-considered selection of acts you’d expect from the hand of our illustrious curators. © Ben Price

The more tight-knit climes of the Tunnel was the haven for a slew of single-minded techno fiends. Following a relatively early appearance from Berlin hero Shed, it was left to Midwest pioneer DVS1 to provide a masterclass in resonant, atmospheric and physically affecting techno. His material was tireless and resilient, embarking on subtle tangents built around fluttering top-lines and piercing hi-hats, underpinned by the boisterous everpresence of those roaring kicks. A truly incredible showing, placing Blawan in an unenviable position. But the poster-boy for the UK resurgence in this driving fodder was at his bruising, coruscating best, closing this most exhaustive of showcases in breathless, and appropriately draining style. ---------Words: Claude Barbé-Brown + Geraint Davies

Purity Ring Sound Control | Manchester November 24th ………………………….

TNGHT Oval Space | London November 15th ………………………….

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti York Hall | London November 8th ………………………….

Robert Hood Cable | London November 17th ………………………….

To top off the mesmerisingly bassy, crunkedout pop that marks them out as one of the most identifiable in the wave of post-garage electronic acts, Purity Ring boast one of the most fitting and absorbing stage set-ups you’re likely to witness.

Hudson Mohawke and Lunice are established heavyweights in the world of Electronic Music, 2012. What this turbo trendy Bethnal Green show presented was a microcosm of exactly what’s going on right now.

At first glance, leisure centre venue York Hall doesn’t quite fit the ‘alternate reality popstar’ vibe of Ariel Pink. With laminate floors and school-hall stage curtains it felt a little surreal that the audience would soon be subjected to waves of Pink’s flamboyant, nonsensical psychedelic pop.

As we headed to London Bridge, we prepared ourselves to witness genuine techno royalty: Cable welcomed Robert Hood, Detroit hero and founding member of the legendary Underground Resistance label and collective.

Decorated from floor to ceiling with an assortment of pill-shaped lanterns, like white polka-dot on black canvas, the stage had a cartoonish appearance. From the smaller bulbs incorporated into Corin Roddick’s instrumental set-up, to Megan James’s huge, flashing percussion, every single aspect of the stage was synchronised with the music, creating a stunning light show. Totally engrossing, it undoubtedly compensated for the fact that musically, much of the ‘live’ performance is actually based on triggers of samples from the studio recordings. But with the benefit of the club’s colossal sound system, the album took on new life. It equated to a sustained and full bodied throbbing, dense sub-bass expanded to cover the entire volume of the room. It’s so intense that each tonal shift resulted in ecstatic vibrations to different parts of the body; the sensation of dancing without physical exertion.

As soon as the Glasgow/Montreal double-act paired a ballsy foghorn hook with an offbeat trap drum line, the sound was established: the frenetic, wild energy of artists like Waka Flocka Flame and Hit-Boy perfectly compressed into one maximal blast. Mohawke’s production on Kanye and Co’s Mercy paved the way for a frenzied rework of the track, one of several nods to contemporary rap littered throughout. Lunice jetted around from behind the decks every other song, revelling in the extreme atmosphere he was co-creating. A feeling of victory and brash blatancy ruled, exemplified in EP cuts Goooo and Bugg’n which display the exaggerated aggression of this ramped-up take on rap beats. As TNGHT depart the stage, the crowd may not have gained an insight into the future of dance music. But they left assured that as it stands, we have ourselves a pretty handy A-team. ---------

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The Haunted Graffiti launched into the camp spookiness of Symphony of the Nymph, but the frontman himself was nowhere to be seen until the video screen backdrop burst into light. Pink spent more than ten minutes sauntering about the corridors, transmitting his performance by video camera while his backing band smashed through Kinski Assassin. When he did emerge, the fervour was almost overwhelming with Pink well and truly living up to his reputation as the drug-advocating, tantrum-throwing frontman of the most unlikely pop band of the century. At times he pranced about the stage like an ageing fairy godmother, at others he was scrunched up, gracelessly swaying as the band brought latest album Mature Themes to life. By the time the set ended with the ambient Nostradamus & Me, the elated atmosphere was at its peak. The enigma left the stage without returning for an encore; his fans surely will.

His 4am appearance began with a live set. Laptop and midi machines blinked away futuristically while a few bashed-looking analogue boxes pounded out the rhythms. It sounded like mostly new material; 909-heavy, some filtering and occasionally a melody. But this was classic ‘minimal’ Robert Hood, in the sense of stripping out the unnecessary. After the live set came the DJ set. We got a lot more variation, with a few older techno tracks getting their first airing in years, and even some vocals via Hood’s alias Floorplan. By this time, though, we were feeling tired and taxi-dependent. Cable’s notorious Jaded afterparty was just kicking-off in room two and a few hardy souls wandered over to mix with the Fabric overspill and London’s techno tourists. Legs shaky and judgement poor, we left Hood to keep those kids dancing for however long into Sunday morning, tired but satisfied in the knowledge that some legends do deliver on their reputations. ---------

Words: Duncan Harrison Words: James Balmont

-------Words: James Balmont

Words: Robert Bates


Live Music

© Vincent Arbelet

© Vincent Arbelet

Pitchfork Festival Paris La Grande Halle de la Villette | Paris November 1st-3rd ………………………….

La Grande Halle de la Villette opened its doors for three days and nights, as the old Parisian slaughterhouse became the home of some of the best sounds in global electronic, experimental and indie music. A prime example came in the form of R&B experimentalist How To Dress Well. He showcased cuts from his Total Loss LP, and through alternating between two unevenly modified microphones, he succeeded in capturing the feeling of vacancy and coldness that the record expresses so vividly. A nod to his influences came as Ready For The World was merged with R. Kelly’s hook from To The World. The smothered beat and upbeat chords of Ocean Floor For Everything left the crowd in victorious spirits, making How To Dress Well a highlight for many. Any party atmosphere that was lost via the at times despondent tones of How To Dress Well were quickly made up for by AlunaGeorge, who brought the fever with their sleazy, disco-ready pop. The middle of the set hosted a cover of Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It, adding a splash of shamelessness to what could be seen as a rather serious artistic showcase. Then came Japandroids who rounded off more than a year of touring with a relentless foray into frenetic noise, a miraculous feat of duo-summoned volume to rival the likes of DFA1979 and Lightning Bolt. On strode Sebastian Tellier, a figure who splits opinion in his homeland. Amongst this crowd, an air of affection dominated. As he stood at the back of the stage amongst the smoke and theatrics, striking a series of Messiah-like poses, the festival’s first day had gained another highlight. Night one was closed by M83, championed by Pitchfork since the word go. Cuts like Midnight City and We Own The Sky were emboldened by a full orchestra, ending our first evening on an ambitious, rousing musical expedition, and heralding the beginning of a different kind of festival. We welcomed Friday with the ‘watch-this-space’, fresh out of high school hip-hop act RATKING. The four-piece had cancelled their first UK date a few days prior due to Hurricane Sandy. Luckily they made it out to Paris and gave us a glimmer of why people are making noise in their direction,

as well as why they landed a deal with XL before as much as a release. Led capably by the 18-year-old Wiki, these kids are serious next hype. The festival itself comprises one vast space with a stage at each end, shows being bounced back and forth from one end to the other. So not only was there no waiting around for bands to set up, but no dreaded line-up clash dilemma either. The wild card of the line-up, Swedish pop pixie Robyn, took to the stage later that evening. One of the weekend’s many surprises, her faultless vocals and exuberant energy had the hall up and dancing within minutes. . Headlining Friday was the mighty Animal Collective. Their stage set up was as magnificent as you’d expect, sublimelt paired with the music on offer. The band stood behind a row of flashing teeth, in front of a swirling inflatable vortex. And just like the band’s sound, the decor was weird, wonderful and impossible to describe. But it worked. Overhearing French girls attempting to sing along to Today’s Supernatural was a highlight, and at the encore we found ourselves wondering if it would be too obvious to deliver My Girls. When they did, it was as soaringly appropriate a close as you could possibly wish for. Saturday was the real mammoth line-up. We arrived for Purity Ring, adrift amongst a sea of balloons, drowned in side-chained synth melodies and crunk 808 drums. Shortly later, Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr. had the crowd in the palm of his hand until they made way for the phenomenal Liars. Breton’s lead singer Roman Rappak impressed us with his grasp of French but annoyingly seemed to feel the need to take off his guitar and wave it in the air at the end of each track. Still, the band couldn’t be faulted for their energy or technical prowess, and in their finer moments evoked Antidote-era Foals. Grizzly Bear, in the midst of a European tour, were on predictably great form. After opening with Speak in Rounds they revealed a row of lanterns at the rear of the stage, which rose slowly to the ceiling and then flashed and moved in formations throughout the show. Daniel Rossen and Ed Droste shared lead vocal duties beautifully, while the entire

band came together in luxurious harmonies and transfixing waves of sound. Next up was Disclosure with some trademark retro house and garage vibes. Nothing groundbreaking by any stretch, but by this stage such a youthful switch up was certainly refreshing. The two brothers from Surrey did their best but were inevitably upstaged, by the next act, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. A year ago Orlando Higginbottom might have featured towards the bottom of this bill, but since signing to Polydor and releasing a full length, TEED brings the hype. He stood at the helm of a prehistoric themed workstation, dancers at either side, armed with an arsenal of confetti cannons and wearing a silly hat. All of the acts at the festival came with great stage shows and visuals, but it’s fair to say this one took first prize. The night finished with Rustie, Simian Mobile Disco and Julio Bashmore taking us into the early hours. Rustie was wonky as always and stupidly banging, Simian’s new sound was warmly welcomed and Bashmore – well, you know the deal. Crack danced the night away and even witnessed the spontaneous start of a mass line dance. Proof perhaps that Franco-English relations are better than we might have thought? We’ll certainly be back next year to mingle with the Parisians at what we’re sure will be another top drawer offering. Pitchfork Paris: a bientôt.

----------

Thursday: Duncan Harrison Friday + Saturday: Jack Lucas Dolan


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TORO Y MOI ANYTHING IN RETURN Carpark Records

PAUL KALKBRENNER GUTEN TAG Paul Kalkbrenner Muzik

14/20

12/20

Chazwick Bundick’s child of the 2010 chillwave scene Toro Y Moi has amassed quite a reputation for bringing the mellow tones of South Carolina and elaborating them with pop beats and house samples. Anything In Return is no exception, the steady vocals that lick on every offbeat of Say That and the vinyl spinning FX of lead single Rose Quartz make for an even slinkier affair than usual. The first Toro Y Moi album wore influences of Dilla and Flying Lotus, and here Bundick’s love of hiphop is flaunted once again. He’s clearly having fun on this LP, which is shared for the best part, but the album eventually feels a little monotonous. Despite seeming predictable at times, Anything In Return trickles and grooves in a way that won’t quake Bundick’s status as a producer or a super chic muso, though it might call the

A lot of people who aren’t otherwise interested in electronic music will have heard of Paul Kalkbrenner. 2008’s Sky & Sand was a huge crossover hit which hung around the German charts for 107 weeks, so a new album from Kalkbrenner is big news. Guten Tag is structured in a series of interlude-to-club-banger pairings, presumably to make it feel more like a ‘proper album’. But the (mainly beatless) interludes often seem totally unconnected to the more club-friendly tracks; are they supposed to ‘set the scene’? Cleanse the palette? They feel like an afterthought, a cobbled-together paste to glue together the house tracks. Yet still, Kalkbrenner has a gift for grafting hummable melodies onto solid 4/4 patterns. Der Buhold is a highlight, organ and synth leads shimmer away over a bubbling bass line and Der Stabsvörnern is a simple-but-effective mid-set track. But for every good track there’s a bad. Spitz-Auge sounds like 2007-era Ableton-electro, with heavily FX’d trumpet-synths squawking away during the breakdowns; Der Ast-Spink aims for a darker tone and misses, an egregious example of progressive house progressing ... nowhere. Paul Kalkbrenner’s best days may be behind him; perhaps a more

longevity of Toro Y Moi ever so slightly into question. DH

appropriate title than Guten Tag, then, would have been ‘Auf Wiedersehen’. RB

INDIAN JEWELRY PEEL IT Reverberation Appreciation Society

DOLDRUMS LESSER EVIL Souterrain Transmissions

16/20

12/20

Indian Jewelry never used to sound like Animal Collective if they’d been formed by Jake and Elwood Blues, but now they kinda do. It’s not as terrible as it sounds, honestly. Peel It sees the band exploring more polished garage rock territory while keeping the interplay of world music and noise rock flowing determinedly across the astral plane. It’s still hypnotic, freaky and immersive; but the band have decided that instead of channelling the dusty spirit of the Mojave, they want to channel the essence of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. Peel It consists of 11 slabs of freaked out, acid-washed rock, all punctuated by the constantly beating drum that has defined their sound on recent outings. Vital Lately really stands up as noise pop at its best, a sign of maturity: the graduation from art students to proper human beings. The beautiful Eva Cherie, meanwhile, features heavenly vocals that could make the most hardened military school drill instructor weep. The only concern is that eventually they might just turn into Backstreet Boys and take over the world with pure pop hooks. Though to be fair, BSB are long overdue a new record and we’re

Airick Woodhead’s output as Doldrums is, on both aural and structural levels, exhausting. His compositions are densely layered exercises in psychedelic avantpop (by way of some very brief glimpses of chillwave, EBM and, god forbid, witchhouse) and baffling in their construction. Unfortunately, Woodhead’s dedication to filling every empty space with a new sample, loop, clattering woodblock or squealing synth jab means the results are sometimes incoherent. A lack of tunefulness isn’t necessarily a criticism, but Lesser Evil often suffers from it, with half-formed melodies and grooves appearing only to vanish within seconds. The most satisfying tracks like Sunrise, Holographic Soundcastles, Singularity Acid Face and Golden Calf display a pronounced sense of restraint; the results are at times beautiful, and far more engaging for their lack of battering cacophony. They therefore serve to exacerbate the frustration felt with the manic, anything-goes approach prevalent throughout most of the record. For all the criticism, Lesser Evil definitely sounds completely original. There’s no doubt Woodhead is something of a visionary talent, and when he learns to reign in his schizophrenic compositional tendencies, there’s every chance he’ll produce a record which feels greater than the

on tenterhooks over here. BB

sum of its parts, rather than confounded by them. TH

BEN UFO FABRICLIVE 67 Fabric

VARIOUS ARTISTS CHRISTMAS RULES Concord Records

15/20

11/20

Heading up a small sub-category within underground dance music, Ben UFO sits alongside a select few other DJs, such as Jackmaster and Oneman, whose esteemed reputation has not been earned through produced tracks, but by searching high and wide for records spanning many decades and genre spectrums. This lack of production constraints also gives UFO the freedom to play absolutely anything without the restrictions of specific staples. The Hessle Audio co-founder chooses to approach his FABRICLIVE offering from a largely techno-leaning bent. Opening up with some spaced out soundscaping, UFO soon gets things pumping with boisterous techno cuts from Delroy Edwards and Kowton, switching in and out of 4/4 rhythms. It’s not long before he sees fit to move, via garage, into classic house with Mr Fingers, and some instrumental grime after a minute of Clutch from fellow Hessle man Pearson Sound. As the mix nears conclusion, we’re eased back into the realms of techno, with tunes from Blawan and Kyle Hall leading to a conclusion of tripped out maximalist sounds. This is an accomplished selection, mixed together beautifully by one of the most varied and knowledgable heads in dance music, and

Every year someone comes along with some viable alternative to your usual Christmas dinner soundtrack. Something fresh, yet with enough traditional leanings to keep your Nan from freaking out. With a promising roster of names, it’s a crying shame that as front feet go, Christmas Rules runs with as gammy an appendage as you’ve ever seen: to use the appropriate terminology, a real ‘dump in the stuffing’. A version of Sleigh Ride from the poor man’s New Radicals, fun. It’s more than faintly obnoxious. In fact, it’s genuinely rank. But immediately, The Shins’ Wonderful Christmastime is more like it. Mainly because we don’t loathe The Shins. And then a real treat: Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van Etten’s perfectly complementary tones swooning over Baby, It’s Cold Outside. The freshly hiatused Civil Wars chip in with a decent enough strummer; Cincinnati’s Heartless Bastards do a lovely job of the Elvis country lilt Blue Christmas; and Andrew Bird gives Auld Lang Syne a faintly gypsy-jazz quality, and bare props for knowing the words to the second verse. The undeniable highlight, though, is the SpaceGhostPurrp appropriation of Little Drummer Boy which we just made up. So all-in-all, yeah,

rightly one of the most in demand. TCF

it’ll do. But that first track ... GHD

www.crackmagazine.net


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DARKSTAR NEWS FROM NOWHERE Warp 18/20 Darkstar are an endearingly difficult band to get a handle on. Emerging in the blizzard of new talent that included Untold, James Blake and Joy Orbison, most people’s first contact with them was the fidgety but hypnotic Aidy’s Girl’s A Computer. At that point still a duo, their first album North arrived after an apparently tortuous gestation period that involved scrapping a huge amount of their 2-step informed material, adding a vocalist to the mix, and starting all over again, going all gloomy and synth-pop in the process. It was an unexpected but masterful turn by a band squirming against their own growing popularity, and on News From Nowhere, they’ve done it again. Most notably, things have taken a turn for the ambient: where North had a set of angular 80s cheekbones, News from Nowhere offers deep, melodic sweeps and the beats take a back seat. Complex, frequently sombre, but aesthetically gentle, many of these songs wouldn’t sound out of place in a Radiohead set circa Amnesiac. A ground fog of bliss/desolation floats over the untitled –, while Armonica rustles past in a hazy blur of delicate melodic bleeps and whirs. On the relatively playful You Don’t Need a Weatherman, the off-kilter pop of Animal Collective is an influence, while A Day’s Work for A Day’s Pay starts with wobbly, dead-hand piano chords, introduces a shuffling beat, and then adds a creepy Beach Boys vocal melody. It’s a woozy, warped, highlight, and doesn’t really sound like anything else out there. News From Nowhere is another enormous step forward for a band that haven’t held still long enough for anyone to really know who they are. But then maybe that’s the point, and if every lurch in a new direction is this captivating and inventive, that shouldn’t bother anyone one bit. AC

// new free weekly Downloads @ crackmagazine.net

//

CROSSON & MERVEILLE DRM Visionquest

MEMORY TAPES GRACE/CONFUSION Carpark

13/20

16/20

When creating a techno album there has to be variation, some journey for the listener to be whisked away upon. On DRM, we get that. The opening three tracks slowly draw you into tropical sounds and some well-engineered acoustic samples. Warped claps, not too dissimilar to the ones so well utilised by Nicholas Jaar, are peppered throughout and there’s a groove that will resonate with anyone familiar with the Visionquest or Cadenza catalogues. As they build an atmosphere for their revellers, Crosson and Merveille gently, subtly ease you into this nine tracker, building melodies and exploring the far-reaching ends where broken jazz and techno meet. The use of instrumentation is akin to Four Tet’s less dancefloor aimed efforts, with the best example of this being At The Seams, featuring Banana Lazuli and Arthur Simonini. There is a more club-worthy middle section, with Again and Again – featuring the unmistakable touch of NRP’s Greg Paulus – proving the standout track of that ilk. An album this certainly is, and it’s also very ‘Visionquest’ in its essence, with experimentation under the broad flag of techno at its core; 4/4 lit up by a strong use of sonic frequency exploration, musicianship and,

Electronic music with wimpy male vocals either grabs you by the balls or provokes the time-honoured insult of ‘bed-wetter’. James Blake, Junior Boys – these are love ‘em or hate ‘em acts. Based on Memory Tapes’ existing material – pretty and dreamy though it frequently is – Dayve Hawk had previously been lodged squarely in the bed-wetter box. But something has changed, and his third full-length sounds more confident, more stately and crucially, less wimpy. It’s not that anything has fundamentally altered in terms of delivery: melodies are still multi-tracked and swamped in reverb. But beneath the dreamy sheen, things have expanded sonically, and the overall impression is something akin to the Pet Shop Boys welded to the kaleidoscopic pop of Planet Mu’s Tropics. Opening track Neighbourhood Watch centres on a snaking, distorted synth line that’s almost apocalyptic in contrast to the tweeness of some of his previous work. Standout track Sheila is a gorgeous slice of melancholy: eight epic minutes of gentle, poised goodness, a love song dipped in bleak, cinematic nostalgia. Too many chillwave acts hide behind the watercolour ambiguity of the genre’s signature production style. Hawk has stepped out from behind the smoke machine, and the result is a rewarding and absorbing album of

above all, playfulness. TW

widescreen electronic pop. AC

ADAM GREEN AND BINKI SHAPIRO ADAM GREEN AND BINKI SHAPIRO Rounder/Decca

JULIA HOLTER EKSTASIS Domino

14/20

18/20  

Joining forces to create something rather strange and beautiful are Adam Green, one half of The Moldy Peaches, and the sublimely talented Binki Shapiro of Little Joy, who’ve release a self-titled album that’s warm and inviting, imbued with a lovely 60s lo-fi Americana feel. There’s something refreshingly different about this particular duo. Green’s dry yet humorous New Yorker delivery melds with Shapiro’s sweet tones across an array of witty tales of dysfunctional romance, giving each ditty character and a narrative quality. Standout tracks such as What’s the Reward and Just To Make You Feel Good are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them folk-tinged pop gems which instantly seep into your system. Instrumental arrangements are lovingly pored-over, at turns ambitious and endearingly simple. Closer Nighttime Stopped Bleeding, however, stands out as truly bold and gripping piece of music, as the duo muse upon a lover’s passionate expression of grief. What these two present is a sparkling musical chemistry that we can be very grateful never went untapped, forging an album which will appeal equally to fans of Leonard Cohen

The title of this record succinctly informs us of what is to be found within; Ekstasis is

and Pavement. BA

and woozily beautiful albums of the year. TH

www.crackmagazine.net

the Greek root of the word ‘ecstasy’. The artist’s predilection for aesthetic classicism is apparent in her lyrical references, if not her music; a Greek tragedy here, some Roman mythological etymology there. Her method of construction recalls that of tapestry, lines of undulating synths, strings and vocals interweaving as a solid, but defiantly hazy whole. Musically, signifiers include John Maus at his most plaintive, the hushed cello compositions of Arthur Russell or Grouper’s woodsy dreamdrone. Our Sorrows and In the Same Room are particularly gorgeous, sustaining atmospheres of disconnected, illusory melancholia in which melodies drift in and out of ebbing drones and chattering keys, like the aural equivalent of your eyes adjusting to a gloaming light. There’s a disconcerting, underlying modernity prevalent in the thick fug of somnambulant retro-fantasy. Make no mistake, this is seriously chimerical stuff, and Ekstasis is one of the most idiosyncratic, beguiling


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Illustration: Lee Nutland //// www.leenutland.com

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s it really any wonder politicians hate every last one of the sniffling meat sacks they rule over? We’ve only got ourselves to blame. It’s our fault for pummelling these once-regular folk until they turn into monsters that wince at the prole-stench on the West Coast Main Line’s cattle cars. Somehow we remain incredulous when they open their mouth at the gates of Downing Street and give us the kind of berating we deserve. What did we expect to happen with this daily barrage of tit-bit gossip sharing and fun-poking? That they would skulk off and do a better job of leading the country? In October, George Osborne, Second Lord of the Treasury, had to pay an upgrade fee to remain in a first class carriage, having boarded the train with a regular ticket. No big deal – it’s probably the most bearable cabin for his tender stomach – yet we’re still hearing about the affair a month down the line. Details of the “Great Train Snobbery” came out because of the “Twitter storm” that ensued. Journalists, political commentators and knuckledragging Tweeps went down to Euston to assail

Gideon at the station gate. “Good job, Twitter. From first to last a fabulous communal experience,” says Patrick O’Flynn from the Daily Express. But what has he really done here? Rachel Townsend, the train-based ITV reporter that broke the story comments: “The guard went on gathering tickets and later told me Osborne had agreed to cough up the £160 [for the upgrade].” It’s not news. The media can’t help itself but jump on board these prejudice-enforcing events that the Tories find themselves languishing in with such alarming regularity. The problem is, we’re all suffering from cognitive dissonance, creating opinions, altering facts or ignoring those that don’t fit in with our belief system in an upsettingly dogmatic fashion (think Church of England). It’s always hard to judge the level of sarcasm and innuendo in a personal correspondence, but it’s safe to say the press are on weak ground claiming there’s anything more than a shit joke in Cameron noting a borrowed horse was “fast, unpredictable and hard to control but fun” in a text to former Chief Executive of News International Rebekah Brooks.

I didn’t agree with the scale of the fiscal austerity Gideon and Co embarked on – and, as we limp out of a double dip recession, it looks like I was on the money – but that’s got nothing to do with their privileged backgrounds, whether they know the price of milk, or hang out in Chipping Norton. And, after two years of being hassled by hacks, courted by media moguls and reclining in the plush chairs of the Carlton Club’s male-only lounge, you would probably hate, well, ‘you’, too. Shouldn’t we back off a bit and see how they do without all these personal attacks? Maybe we could hug a government minister this Christmas?

parliament and waste time with straw man fallacies, baying from the benches like unruly teenagers in a sex education class every week. And, as much as I recognise the possibility, those taking a more sardonic look should carry on for sheer entertainment value. In short, MediaSpank will be back with more rants about the media, politics and out-of-touch Tories next month, but maybe those writing political news and analysis should back down, a bit.

---------Christopher Goodfellow

Anyway, the problem is it does matter that Cameron so closely courted the affection of media executives, and even more so that he went against repeated warnings and hired a communications chief that’s now in court for allegedly making payments to police and public officials. And I was kidding about Andrew Mitchell, too. The trick is distinguishing between the tat and the material that should help shape our perception of their ability to do a good job. It’s difficult. Particularly when they turn up to

twitter.com/MediaSpank

mediaspank.net

Send rants to media@crackmagazine.net


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CRACK Issue 26