K F r e e
Little Dragon Squarepusher NZCA/Lines Martyn P l us
Ar t, M u si c , R e al Ta l k
T HEESa tisfa c ti on Alt-J âˆ† D . B illy & m o re. . .
C E - T I C K E T S A VA I L A B L E N O W O N L I N E CRACKMAGAZINE.NET/TICKETS
4/5 5/5 6/5 8/5 10/5 11/5 15/5 21/5 28/5 31/5 2/6 3/6 6/6 14/6 16/6 14/7 19/7 19/7 27/7 17/8 30/11
LIANNE LA HAVAS THE BLAST PRESENT: DARK SKY SIMPLE THINGS FESTIVAL CASHIER No. 9 JAZZY JEFF TRAILER TRASH TRACYS FIXERS JAPANDROIDS PASSENGER THE MILK DOT TO DOT (BRISTOL) LOVE SAVES THE NIGHT ANDREW BIRD GLADE FESTIVAL GONJASUFI DJ KENTARO SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS SOUNDWAVE CROATIA FARMFESTIVAL BEACONS FESTIVAL THE RIFLES (ACOUSTIC)
Trinity The Croft Various Venues Thekla Lakota Thekla Thekla The Cooler Thekla The Cooler Various Venues Lakota / Motion Trinity Houghton Hall Village Underground XOYO Thekla The Garden Tisno Gilcombe Farm Funkirk Estate Thekla
Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol Bristol King's Lynn London London Bristol Croatia Somerset Skipton Bristol
£10 £5 £35 £5 £10 £7 £7.50 £7 £7 £6 £20 £10 £19.50 £135 £12.50 £14.50 £10 £105 £40 £74.50 £11
Mayfest mayfestbristol.co.uk Fuel and Belarus Free Theatre present
MINSK, 2011 A REPLY TO KATHY ACKER
Welcome to Minsk – the sexiest city in the world!
“What makes it heart-rending wild beasts • roots manuva is the knowledge that the patrick wolf (acoustic) • the felice brothers events described maya jane colesare • realtrue” estate • junior boys HHHHH ghostpoet Daily Telegraph • factory floor • julio bashmore jessie ware • pearson sound • andrew weatherall Strip clubs, underground cass mccombs • willy mason • errors • cloud nothings raves and gay pride parades oneman • d/r/u/g/s • peaking lights • xxxy • kwes pulse between the surface willis earl beal • frankie & the heartstrings • outfit • star slinger of a city where sexuality is jacuzzi boys • clock opera • lunice • submotion orchestra • koreless twisted by oppression. bok bok • 2:54 • jam city • king krule • weird dreams • mazes • still corners stay+ • dan avery • gross magic • bos angeles • grass house MINSK, 2011 celebrates and arthur beatrice • hookworms • the wave pictures • au palais mourns a land that has lost Mon 21 – Sat 26 May, 7.30pm bleeding knees club • tall ships • soul jazz soundsystem its way. A rare opportunity Mayfest 2012 blacklisters • loads more to experience a provocative Tobacco Factory Theatre and heartbreaking show Tickets: £13/£11 from a revolutionary Booking: 0117 902 0344 company. mayfestbristol.co.uk
FABRICLIve ComIng soon
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Front Cover: Self portrait by Yukumi Nagano (Little Dragon) Re-touching: Clark Merkin For those who are cracked let the light in: Respect Stephen Barnes Moodymann ‘Artbeats Dom Udall Levon Helm Ross Patel Cat & Wheel Trumpet Karaoke lady Chris Goodfellow Celeste Goodfellow Remi Mortimer Jonny Ticket Tailor Europcar Girl MC Eksman Executive Editors Thomas Frost firstname.lastname@example.org Jake Applebee email@example.com Contributing Editor Geraint Davies firstname.lastname@example.org Marketing / Events Manager Luke Sutton email@example.com Art Direction & Design Jake Applebee Fashion Paul Whitfield Marina German Valarie Benavides Keiko Nakamura
isn’t panicking. We’ve been through a hell of a
lot in recent months.
First of all there was the hosepipe ban, which meant at least four of this country’s lushest bowling greens went untended for a week. If that wasn’t enough to furrow your brow then we had our ever so responsible government encouraging us to fill up jerrycans with petrol. This resulted in one particularly enthusiastic woman setting herself on fire and induced mass petrol station misbehaviour, mainly by idiots who thought it was prudent to stock up before a tanker driver walkout was even announced. No walkout ever took place. Par. Also, the nation’s fatties were outraged at the introduction of a 20% ‘pasty tax’ on hot baked food and in the most alarming and surreal PR wet fart of recent times, our esteemed leader David Cameron talked openly about his love for ‘large’ Cornish pasties. Oh Dave, so down with the rural communities and the rustic way of life you are. Do us a fucking favour mate.
So after our hearts palpitated their way through that little lot, what else is left to cause us to stress? Well there’s only the Great British Portaloo Shortage! The Olympics are nabbing the lot, leaving us nowhere to go to the toilet other than bushes, or our own houses. How are you going to cope? We’d probably emigrate … with a few copies of Crack in the suitcase.
Intern Esme Rees
Contributors Mavis Botswinga Christopher Goodfellow Mystic Greg Jack Lucas Dolan Hulio Bourgeois Lee Nutland Tom Wiltshire David Reed Tim Oxley-Smith Jon Wiltshire Ben Price Clark Merkin Rich Bitt Lucie Grace Philip Allen Emyr Glyn Rees Matt Riches Bear Gwills Guy Dowling Miles Taylor George Scrivener Billy Black Gareth Moule Josh Baines Crack Magazine Office 12 Studio 31 Berkeley Square Clifton Bristol BS8 1HP CRACK is published by Crack Industries Ltd Advertising To enquire about advertising and to request a media pack contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
07747779952 © 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.
Crack has been created using: Brey - Bengela The Tallest Man On Earth - Revelation Blues SpaceGhostPurrp - Mystikal Maze Jessie Ware - 110% Moodymann - Hold It Down Albrosie - Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner Nocturnal Sunshine - Meant To Be Kraftwerk - Tour De France Étape 1 Kraftwerk - Tour De France Étape 2 Kraftwerk - Tour De France Étape 3 Blondish - Velvet Wave Guy Gerber - One Day In May Gravenhurst - The Prize Oni Ayhun - OAR003-B Blue Pearl - Naked In The Rain Auntie Flo - Haven’t Got Any Body The Dagger Brothers - DVDs Behling & Simpson - AAW Mosca - Eva Mendes Santigold – Disparate Youth Grandmaster Flash - White Lines (Don’t Do it) Beach House - Other People
Patrick Watson - Blackwind Richard Hawley - Staring At The Sun Detachments - Circles (Martyn’s Round And Round Mix) A$AP Rocky - Wassup The Dead Weather - I Cut Like A Buffalo Burial And Four Tet Feat. Thom Yorke - Ego Grouper - Atone Goldie - Kemistry Tolga Fidan - Demain Lower Dens - Brains Chromatics - Kill For Love R.E.M - Crush By Eyeliner Calibre feat. DRS - Hustlin’ Bondas - Only You Know House Of Love - Shine On Cocteau Twins - Fifty-Fity Clown April March - Chick Habit Jai Paul - Jasmine Engelbert Humperdinck - Lesbian Seagull Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone Desaparecidos - Hole In One Freez - I.O.U
Virals - Coming Up With The Sun Harlem - Spray Paint Stan Ridgeway - Camouflage Loudon Wainwright III - Hitting you Jacuzzi Boys - Glazin’ Dr. Feelgood - Milk & Alcohol Fugazi - Full Disclosure Blood Orange - Champagne Coast No More - Suicide Commando The Band - Up On Cripple Creek Morrissey - First Of The Gang To Die Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger The Doors - Riders On The Storm R Kelly - I Believe I Can Fly Seal - Kiss From A Rose Kiss - Lovegun Kienra - Nangijala Kurt Vile - Amplifier NZCA/Lines - Okinawa Channels THEESatisfaction - QueenS Tokimonsta - Darkest Dim Liars - The Exact Colour Of Doubt
// Download a nzca/lines mix @ crackmagazine.net
FOR A FURTHER INSIGHT INTO OUR FEATURED ARTISTS, We’VE asked THEM to pick their top three records / Albums of the moment. ENJOY.
The Tripods - Theme Pharoah Saunders - Astral Travelling Necrophagist - Only Ash Remains
D. BILLY Andrew Bird - Eyeoneye The Black Keys - Lonely Boy Fruit Bats - Being On Our Own
ALT-J ∆ Meshuggah - Koloss Robbie Basho - Visions of the Country Nas - Illmatic
Jimi Hendrix - Burning of the Midnight Lamp Duran Duran - Save A Prayer Total Groove - Rave ’92 (Rave Mix)
MARTYN Hype Williams - One Nation Humans - Horizon (Nautiluss Remix) Actress - R.I.P
Jhené Aiko - Stranger Jai Paul - Jasmine Drexciya - Triangular Hydrogen Strain
THEESATISFACTION Danny Brown - Head Lianne La Havas - Forget Little Dragon - Precious
d . o . t . h . i . s c
Bow Wow Wow
Fleece 2nd May
The Bank 5th May
Lakota 10th May
Start The Bus 11th May
Howler + Hooded Fang
Blue Mountain 12th May
Fleece 16th May
Trinity 16th May
TB2 19th May
Cooler 21st May
Colston Hall 22nd May
Post War Years
The Lanes 25th May
O2 Academy 29th May
Start The Bus 30th May
Cooler 1st June
Fleece 7th June
Fleece 12th June
Face & Heel
This boy/girl duo were propelled into the limelight with a show-stealing set on everyone’s online stream to enlightenment, Boiler Room. They appeared as part of a Warm showcase, and are due to become the first release on a label offshoot of the long-running London clubnight of the same name. Sinead and Luke combine delicate piano and vocals with deep synths and rhythmic elements of house and garage to create ambitious and thoughtful live electronica. Pick up their debut EP on Warm from May 7th and pop them near the top of your huge list of things to see at Simple Things on Sunday May 6th.
One of the most interesting dance music projectscurrently on our radar, Livity Sound is firstly a label run by Bristol’s Peverelist and Kowton specialising in vinyl-only techno releases. In its live guise it’s also a live techno jam between said members and fellow Bristol cohort Asasu. Fresh from playing Room One in Fabric a few weeks back, the drum machine heavy attack and the live show’s unpredictable nature makes this one of the most engaging projects Crack has been exposed to in recent times. Watch out for small intimate performances and selective releases. Tune: Peverelist & Kowton – Beneath Radar
Tune: No Star residentadvisor.net/record-label.aspx?id=6400 facebook.com/faceheel
The Organ Grinder
It’s always refreshing to hear an intriguing band emerge in an often beat-blinded Bristol, and a handful of tight and dynamic live appearances and a highly impressive first release has got this lot some serious attention in a big way. Building patient and mature pieces around extremely current, dreamy female vocals with a knack for a hook, intelligent and distinctly British lyrics and an evident penchant for noise which is kept admirably restrained, their swelling reputation as a live act seems a cert to translate to further releases.
A noted figure among Cardiff heads, The Organ Grinder is the current guise of a long-time DJ, MC and promoter on the scene. Perhaps his most recognised work to date was the 2010 Something New release on Ten Thousand Yen as the ‘Chico’ of Didz and Chico, a classy house number which drew attention from every bugger, Laurent Garnier included. This latest persona has already released a belter in the form of his New Age People / Obsession 12” on Catapult records, which has got the likes of Hackman and Jackmaster talking, and with a support slot with Scuba coming up followed by a dream set at Berlin’s Panorama Bar, momentum is all his.
Tune: Vanderbilt Cup Tune: New Age People emptypools.bandcamp.com soundcloud.com/the-organ-grinder-1
Conquering Animal Sound
The word fragile is often overused in music. Sometimes used to describe a sound so minimal it barely registers on the listening scale, fragile in relation to the beautifully poised Conquering Animal Sound is a wholly different creature. Beautiful textures of syncopated percussion are layered over a soothing, almost Bjork-like vocal. Their debut album Kammerspiel is a heartstring-plucking, sonically lush arrangement from a Glaswegian three-piece we hope to see much more of.
Tolga Fidan is an unassuming Turk living in Berlin, whose debut long-player Rogue very much poked the attention of Crack’s minimal house bone. Sensory, varied and layered, there is an underlying softness in amongst the complexity of Fidan’s debut that gives the record a beautiful resonance that will see it occupy homes as effectively as the dancefloor. Released on the consistently innovative Vakant label, this is an example of Berlin’s slightly more submissive side in wonderful colour.
d . o . t . h . i . s
win tickets online @ crackmagazine.net Flats / Friends / Fixers Thekla May 9th / 14th / 15th £7 / £9 / £7.50 Words starting with ‘F’ are all the rage this month at Thekla, and we’re not talking about the ‘fuck’ word. No, no. We’re talking about a triumvirate of cracking young bands. Doomy, aggro and entirely up-front, Flats have come hurtling out of London on a mission to ram their fiery punk racket down your throats. Brooklyn’s femalefronted Friends create a more welcoming sound altogether, their sexy pop often riding along funk-fuelled bass and disco-inspired sass. And Oxford five-piece Fixers forge superbly-crafted pieces, taking in aspects of psych and electronica whilst building around a core of sublime melody.
O2 Academy The Cribs / The Horrors May 9th / 23rd £18 / £14 Voices of originality and integrity amid the mire of UK guitar music, this doubleheader promises two of the most distinctive and enduring bands around. The newly Marr-less Cribs are back with a new album which proudly discards the relative sheen of previous effort Ignore The Ignorant, early hints Be A No One and Chi-Town nailing the unique brand of anthemic yet trashy indie-punk which made us all love them in the first place. Their notoriously rambunctious live show is a guaranteed triumph. The Horrors, meanwhile, have been one of the success stories of recent years, fully establishing themselves as an ambitious and singular force with consecutive brilliant records in Primary Colours and Skying. With their biggest headline show to date at Brixton Academy two days later, this is a band whose relentless rise to prominence shows no sign of stalling.
Just Crack Buckley, Nzca Lines (live) Tom Rio, Dan Wild, Pardon My French The Nest, Dalston, Londom May 12th Free with names on the Facebook wall before / £5 Crack returns to The Nest for our final party of the year and this time we’ve brought some close friends with us to share in the finale of what’s been an incredible season of events for us. Coming on board are Bristol finest house music institution Just Jack, who will be bringing their unique brand of hedonistic party atmosphere to The Nest in the form of Back To Basics and Hacienda resident Buckley. To make sure the scales are even, we at Crack are putting on one of the hottest new bands we’ve heard in a while in the form of the playful, sexy pop stylings of NZCA/Lines. Just Jack residents Tom Rio and Dan Wild and Crack’s very own house and disco music torchbearers Pardon My French complete the party. This one got weight.
Dot to Dot The Drums, Pulled Apart By Horses, Willy Mason, Turbowolf... Various Venue June 2nd £20 + BF
Love Saves The Day Annie Mac, Jamie Jones, Maya Jane Coles, Bonobo (DJ), Roots Manuva... Castle Park June 3rd (SOLD OUT)
Taking over Bristol from 1pm on Saturday and deep into the early hours, Dot to Dot is an stellar showcase of noise in all its forms, in all of our town’s best venues, from the O2 Academy to Thekla, The Fleece, Trinity, Start the Bus and loads more. The names on offer are a right treat: Leeds lunatics Pulled Apart By Horses, our favourite glittering US indie-popsters The Drums, wise-beyond-his-years folkster Willy Mason, Bristol riff kings Turbowolf, and perhaps most exciting of all, late
Very possibly the event of the summer, Love Saves The Day promises to be the spectacular outdoor party to end them all. When our fair city’s most diverse and reliable party conductors join forces you know you can’t go wrong, and with the reigns being taken by everyone from Futureboogie to Crazylegs to Just Jack to Tokyo Dub, you’ve all got something to shake your tail to. And the line-up? How does Roots Manuva, Jamie Jones, Maya Jane Coles, Joy Orbison B2B Pearson Sound, and pretty much all of Bristol’s musical royalty strike you? Everyone we’ve spoken to is going. Like, everyone.
addition, Nathan Williams’s feral garage-surf ragamuffins Wavves.
Mayfest Venues Across Bristol May 17-27th Bristol’s annual festival of contemporary theatre, Mayfest makes a habit of challenging preconceptions. Spreading some of the UK’s most forward-thinking dramatic productions across the city, as well as spawning impromptu theatrical spaces and inciting creative outpourings wherever it reaches, it’s an illustration of all that makes Bristol such an vital artistic epicentre. Outstanding moments include the world premiere of Magna Mysteria (The Big Top, Temple Quay, 26th), the culmination of an intriguing series of interactive magical and illusory events, the Mark Bruce Company’s Made In Heaven, a striking example of forward-thinking, modern dance theatre (Tobacco Factory, 18-20th) and Garage Band, the combination of a DIY gig and a dramatic piece, occurring on a driveway somewhere in the Bristol suburbs (24-27th).
Bristol Festival of Photography May 3rd - 31st Venues across Bristol Bristol’s biennial celebration of photography is an ambitious, inclusive and exultant city-wide affair, incorporating over 100 exhibitions, talks and workshops. While this broad array of events takes place across the city, perhaps the two most intriguing exhibitions fall in the same location, Philadelphia Street Gallery. Hackney – A Tale Of Two Cities takes a fascinating look at the innate contradictions in that area as one of London’s most deprived yet desirable neighbourhoods, where the hipsters rub shoulders with the hopeless, all captured by Hackney born and bred Zed Wilson. The other is Paolo Woods’ Radio Days, an intriguing documentation of Haitian radio culture and its role as the island’s main media, its function as a societal and cultural tool and the considerable influence held by its DJs. For information on these and a vast range of other events, visit www.bfop.org
The Olympic Torch Relay Quantic & Alice Russell And His Combaro Barbaro, Beth Rowley, DJ Krust, The Naturals Millenium Square May 22nd, 8pm-10pm Free So unless you’ve been living in North Korea, you’ve probably clocked that it’s the Olympics in London this summer. With that in mind Bristol’s going all torch crazy on May 22nd and in celebration there’s going to be a free knees-up in Millennium Square courtesy of the council. Headlined by the effervescent Quantic, whose wonderful live showed has wowed countless audiences over the years, the line-up also includes a rich variation of local talent including Beth Rowley and The Naturals. The Olympics are quality, quite simply because even if you don’t like sport, great things like this happen because of it.
I’ll Be Your Mirror Curated by Mogwai and ATP Slayer performing Reign In Blood, Mogwai, Afghan Wigs 25-27 May Alexandra Palace £39-130 (Day or Weekend tickets available) Look, right. Have you even heard Reign In Blood? Well you know what’s happening? They’re playing the fucking lot, pal. From opener Tom Araya’s seminal scream, cutting through guitar wail on opener Angel of Death, right through to one of the most iconic moments in metal history, the atmosphere-drenched finale Raining Blood and every single shredding lick, manic roar and pummeling double-kick roll in between. You’ve got a pulse, yeah? There’s some other pretty cool stuff going on too; the magical hands of the phenomenal Mogwai have ensured that. So over the course of the three days you’ll see alternative music’s most exciting, revered and basically best names in Mudhoney, Codeine, The Afghan Whigs, Mudhoney, Yuck, Wolves in the Throne Room ... Slayer ... stuff like that ...
tal, I , s e r mpi rva, a V LA a Mine Mari c Touch, i Mag tsick Hea lk DJs ty Ta r i D +
FRIDAY 8 JUNE - THE MOTORCYCLE SHOWROOM QU JUNKTIONS
Superpower: Africa in Science Fiction 5 May–1 July
Vex Dance Theatre: Cathy Come Home Thu 10 May, 7.30pm, £10/£8 Concs
11am–6pm Tue–Sun & Bank Hol Mon, admission free
Tom Marshman: Legs11 Tue 22 & Wed 23 May 7.30pm, £10/£7 Concs
Film Exercise: Screening & Discussion Thu 17 May, 6.30pm, Free
Jo Bannon: Exposure Tue 22, Wed 23 & Thu 24 May, £5
Film Club Bristol: Knife in Water Sun 27 May, 5pm, £4
Tania El Khoury: Maybe if you choreograph me, you will feel better Fri 25, Sat 26 & Sun 27 May, 5.15pm, 6pm and 6.45pm, £5
Music The Greatness of Magnificence Mon 7 May, 7pm, Free Lore Lixenberg Double Bill Fri 11 & Sat 12 May, £20 for both Regular Music ll w/ Kaffe Matthews: Endings Thu 31 May 7.30pm, £10/£8 Concs
T: 0117 917 2300 / 01 E: BOXOFFICE@ARNOLFINI.ORG.UK 16 NARROW QUAY, BRISTOL BS1 4QA
Frauke Requardt: Episode Sat 26 May, 2pm and 7.30pm, £13/£11 Concs Plus courses, events and talks including Bristol Festival of Ideas which runs throughout May. Ideasfestival.co.uk Bookshop (Nus 10% off on Wed) and Café Bar (open daily from 10am)
UWE BRISTOL CREATIVE INDUSTRIES 9–14 June 2012
Bower Ashton Campus / Spike Island / BV Studios
©Paul Darnell, Fine Art
Live Art / Dance
Frauke Requardt, Episode. Photo: Chris Nash
// any problems? Contact our mavis.botswinga@ CRACKMAGAZINE.NET
Mavis Botswinga. //
When Crack was having luncheon in its favourite sandwich eatery, we stumbled across Mavis. Two hours later she’d told us how to sort things out with our girlfriends and had given us advice on sex, drugs and how to survive this mean game called life. She sorted us right out. We promptly asked her whether she fancied helping THE COUNTRY with its problems. This is what she's got to say.
I’ve been a musician all my life. I’ve had my share of top ten hits and headline tours. I’ve seen the world, I’ve had more peng than you’ve had hot showers and I’ve railed more birds than I can remember. But I’m getting on a bit now, and I’ve got my eyes on something a bit more steady. I want to work with meat. I want to butch. The lads have got their hearts set on some big reunion gig or something in the summer. I can’t be arsed. I just want to mince mince and chop chops. How do I break it to ‘em?
I’m a drum and bass badman and my Facebook page is full. I just started another one but I’m jealous. MC Eksman got five mate. He’s got a pagefull, a double pagefull, a third page overload and two more. So I started a fanpage, but progress is slow. I post about it in my profile everyday. Manz can’t get the numbers.
I had a night of passion at a family wedding with this bird called Katie the other week and it was great, she was proper kinky. Problem is I was so drunk I had absolutely no idea where I was in the morning. All I know is I woke up in Katie’s house by my old dear calling my mobile. I had to ask Katie to tell my Mum and Dad where I was, and give them directions. It’s safe to say the embarrassing silence when I introduced my parents to Katie when they arrived at her house was difficult. Now my Mum knows I’m not a virgin. I’ve had red cheeks ever since. What do I do?
You need to seek council from Eksman. He’s been in the game 15 years and he knows a thing or two about networking. I let him network me once. Pro I can tell you.
Mani, Crumpsall, Manchester
Harry Bizzle Mavis:
Joe, 25, Plymouth Mavis:
Mavis: It’s a decision that we all got to makes at one point: baggy beats or tender meats. When the time comes, you’ll know. Make the call.
Mavis, How many holes you got? Love,
Dear Mavis I was minding my own business on the way to my nans for tea when some floppy haired prick grabbed me and pretty much forced me into a boozer mumbling some shite about his ‘mate’s band’ whilst wielding a fluorescent glass of cider. He made me stay for an hour and his ‘mate’s band’ didn’t turn out be a band at all but that bloke that sings like a bird, but raps like a bloke. I missed my nan’s tea. Fucking livid.
If you have any problems that need addressing please get in contact and drop our Mavis an email: email@example.com
Martin Paul, Croydon Mavis: I got seven holes. Standard.
Never mind the fact your Mum’s never going to able to look at you the same again, and your Dad’s gonna be high-fiving you when you get home, Mavis’s keen on the fact you’ve scored yourself a kinky bit of stuff. Old Katie sounds like a firecracker. Man up demself and get yourself round there for round two.
Mavis: Come see my mate’s band, it’s Chaka Demus And Pliers. Real talk.
s q u a r e p u s h e r / /
t h at ’ s and
Tom Jenkinson, better known as Squarepusher, has a new record out. If you can call it that. In fact, it’s intended primarily as a live show comprising a huge wall of LED lights (plus a few more on Tom’s face) displaying visuals generated by the music itself. The entire thing was meticulously constructed with the final show in mind. The catchily titled Ufabulum sets out to act as a step up from the increasing number of dodgy, overblown AV shows. “Years ago at raves you’d just have some crappy fractal graphics and strobing or whatever, cut in with some daytime TV footage. I suppose it’s sort of funny but the bottom line was like, ‘what the fuck? Why bother?’ There doesn’t seem to be any sense of coherence between the sound and the picture, and in fact, I find when that’s the case one actually detracts from the other and each part diminishes the experience as a whole. I’m trying to get as far away from that as possible. The point I was trying to explore was how far I could really take the integration of sound and picture.” As usual with Squarepusher’s work, especially of late, it can be slightly tricky to grasp, but Tom has never been afraid of conceptualising what he does as long as it serves a purpose. “It’s funny, 20 years ago to mention the word concept in connection with an album was anathema really. It kind of brings to mind these absurd seventies prog-rock recording projects, but to get rid of the concept entirely is probably not a good idea either. Once it turns into the Six Wives Of Henry VII or Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (solo albums by Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman) it starts getting a bit ludicrous.” In fact, Squarepusher’s last couple of efforts certainly seemed to be edging dangerously close to prog pomp. His Shobaleader project saw him attempting to replicate the sound of an imagined band playing a concert
about n ow
l iv e
d oi n g
against the backdrop of a huge, glowing coat hanger. The result was unsurprisingly confusing, and Tom’s new project clearly marks an attempt to be a bit more illuminating, literally explaining to his audience how he sees his music. “I’m sure lots of people have this, but I have a particular thing where sound will often produce mental images. They can vary from just a simple colour or maybe a geometric arrangement to complex images or even scenes, memories if you like. Memories from a long time before the music was made, which is a bit spurious in itself, but part of the point was to see if I could actually recreate any of those mental images via this process. I’ve almost tried to make it like a film in a way. Obviously not with any characters but something with narrative, so throughout the song the images develop rather than it just being a shape that bounces around the screen that sort of changes colour a bit now and then” The video for forthcoming single Dark Steering gave us the first glimpse of it all coming together. The LED mask has already been criticised for being a Daft Punk ‘rip off ’ and it certainly does bear quite a resemblance, but really that’s to miss the point. As always, Squarepusher has a concept to back it up, as he explains: “You might, I suppose, find it funny, but in a way it has a poetic justification having an LED element actually in front of your face. It’s like this window into what’s going on in my head”; a place that’s no doubt baffled countless people over the years. For an electronic artist famed for and identified by his unique stage presence, it seems an interesting decision to don a mask. It’s therefore also worth noting that he has put down the bass guitar. The two have been pretty inseparable for many years, a relationship which probably peaked with the release of 2009’s Solo Electric Bass 1. It seems with Ufabulum, Tom is trying to shed some weight and return to a more electronic sound,
s h ow s one.
something which is sure to split opinions. “It’s quite rare that I’ve actually excluded live instruments entirely from recording, but it has happened before. On Go Plastic there’s no live instrumentation.” Go Plastic remains an old school favourite among fans, many of whom will be relieved to have a break from the relentless bass solos, but then again the other half of the demographic might well disagree. If Squarepusher’s fanbase, especially recently, has become increasingly polarised, then you could also formulate an argument that Tom is switching between two personas. “When you’re trying to cut live takes – y’know guitar, bass, drums, whatever instrument – and then move between that and being a recording engineer, it can be a bit of a switch. Those two mentalities are something that I’ve always done, but it’s a peculiar switch in perspective. Given this time round I was working on this visual element, I thought ‘I’ve got to sort of simplify the actual recording process. I’ve got to make some concessions in order to allow room for this visual thing’, if you like.” Again, it may seem a strange direction, undertaking the involvement of a whole new visual element, especially when there is a pre-existing tension in your musical approach. It’s either very brave or very stupid, but no one can deny its challenging nature. “The good or the bad thing about me is that I can’t tolerate things standing still for long,” Tom elaborates. So far from simplifying, Tom is already hinting he might add the bass too at a later date. “These pieces are really carefully organised both visually and sonically, so at least for the first run of shows I’m going to be playing it fairly close to how the album is. I’ll start ripping it up later in the year when I get bored. At some point I’ll just think ‘crikey, I need to change this’, and when you’ve got a live instrument it’s so quick to dial in new elements.” - - - - ->
f u n n y,
co n c e p t
a n at h e m a
r e a l l y.
Tom explains: “It’s one of the main reasons I try to keep the recording process as in-house as possible, because once again you’re trying to convey your ideas to other musicians. I think it’s fair to say some people have done remarkably well trying to convey ideas. And I don’t mean say “oh yeah play C-major, go to E-flat”, what I mean is trying to convey the sound and the texture that you’re hearing in your head to other musicians. Captain Beefheart would remark on his technique of using a metaphor to get across ideas as to what he wanted. So he’d say “play like you’re in a wardrobe that’s full of broken glass” or something. And you think, ‘what the fuck are you talking about’ but in some way or other it worked for him. I’m just a bit sceptical about my capacity to do something like that, so I’ll just do it myself. It means I’ve got to do more work, but I’m happy with that.”
co n n e c t io n
So soon he’ll be doing three things at once instead of two. It sounds like a lot of work for one man, which begs the question: why does he have to do it all himself? “The more common thing with AV shows is actually to hire in third parties, but for me it’s just a no-no. Immediately you’ve got problems. Okay, you might be able to convey some basic similarity between what you’re seeing in your mind’s eye and what this third party goes and generates, but no doubt there are going to be subtleties to that image which are actually the things which give it life and give it intensity and make you attached to it.” It’s an ethos that extends to everything Squarepusher does and has always done. It’s certainly what makes his music so unique.
p r o g - r oc k
m e n t io n
wi t h
r e co r d i n g
The whole nature of the way Tom creates what he does is a very solitary process, and as with anything, working alone can create varying results. His projects exist ostensibly in a microcosm with their own sets of logic, and Tom seems to like it that way. If you ask him what he thinks about himself in the context of modern music, he doesn’t seem occupied with it at all. “The awkward thing for me is that I’m aware of certain things that are happening, but I’m usually spending 12 or more hours a day in the studio listening or working on music. So listening to music as a recreational activity is something I do, but I don’t go out of my way to study what’s happening. I’ve got so many things I want to do, so many ideas in my head. That’s my priority: to get those down, and get them recorded and out there. It’s uncomfortable in a way. I’m under pressure all the time from myself, which is why I work fast.” “The other thing for me is because I listen with an analytical ear it’s often difficult as one song contains so much information, I’m reticent to experience that kind of information overload, which can quite often happen for me. I’ll hear four or five songs from someone’s album and think ‘now my head is full of data!’ It just breaks it down into data; the key, the rhythm, everything’s there.” Tom seems to find enough fascination within the inner working of his brain to not bother looking out. There just seems to be too much going on in there at once both musically and ideologically. It’s this that has given him his true originality, but at other times it’s clear he has become lost in it. “I’ve always got this sense of ‘man there’s so many other things to do. There’s so many ideas I’ve got to try and record’. www.crackmagazine.net
the album mi n d
wo r d was these
p r oj e c t s . ”
To truly judge the success of Ufabulum it would only be fair to observe it in the live environment for which it was designed. No doubt it will be an unique experience, no matter what your view of Squarepusher’s work. Tom is well aware that it’s all a bit of an experiment. “My main concern is to just get these ideas down. I’m maybe at some points more successful than at other times, but you’ve just got to get on with it and do it. Make of it what you will.” Tom’s latest work is without doubt his best effort for a long while, and it remains to be seen how the live show translates. It’s certain his approach is unique and actually, the concepts on the whole stand up, in a Squarepusher kind of way.
Squarepusher is performing his live AV show at Simple Things Festival in Bristol On May 6th Ufabulum is released on Warp on May 14th Tune: Drax 2
Words: Jack Lucas Dolan
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Little Dragonâ€™s shimmering pop has escaped the attention of very few.
I T RA
ÂŠ Falling Green
Little Dragon’s music is instantly loveable. It provides the immediate thrill that pop music satisfies so well, with enough of a beat to make you want to dance and enough intricacy to hold your attention. Their music is neither hard work, nor a guilty pleasure.
certified club banger for a period. Little Dragon’s most talked about collaboration, and the one they’re frequently asked to talk about, is their work with Gorillaz, who also booked them as the support act alongside their heroes De La Soul for the arena-filling Escape To Plastic Beach Tour in 2010.
The Swedish band has secured themselves a sizeable and diverse fan base. Musically, they’re obsessively focused on detail, their perfectly crafted keyboard tones and beats winning them the appreciation of club kids and synth nerds. Frontwoman Yukimi Nagano’s attractive, faintly husky voice delivers R’n’B hooks that are infectious enough to please the ears of those addicted to the sugar-rush of mainstream radio, while their bohemian back-story authorises their hipster credibility. So it doesn’t seem like too much of an overstatement to presume that most music fans that aren’t into Little Dragon are just the ones who haven’t got round to listening to them yet.
Of course, these are all interesting collaborations and really, Crack should feel obliged to quiz the band about each and every one, but there’s one particular collab that we really want to talk about. Last autumn Outkast’s Big Boi uploaded a video online of him and Yukimi hanging out in Stankonia studios, all hyped up about a bunch of tunes they’d just recorded, yet to be revealed. When Crack brings this up, the subject suddenly rouses Yukimi: “It’s the most exciting collaboration we’ve done so far. I mean, we’ve been in the position where great people have asked us to work with them, but if we had the dream choice then Big Boi would be one. And then he asked us. We were like, nervous to go. We’re really super, super fans.” So what was he like in person? “He’s chill, very relaxed. I mean, we only got to hang out for one day so we don’t know him that well. He seemed really sweet, really in love with making music. He’s always doing stuff that feels up to date, he’s still fresh.”
Little Dragon give the impression of a tight gang of mates on the same musical wavelength. They originally met each other at high school back in 1996, while Yukimi was going through a goth phase. They all clicked and began making music together, and within a few years they were stationed at a studio space art squat nicknamed The Seal Colony in their hometown of Gothenburg, working various short-term day jobs on the side. How times have changed. Crack catches up with Yukimi and drummer Erik Bodin in their dressing room just before soundcheck at Bristol’s O2 Academy. It’s one of many dates in a colossal tour, and comes only a few months since they were last in town ... at the tail end of another colossal tour. Onstage, Yukimi is an incredibly charismatic and engrossing performer, yet despite high-energy performances every night, she doesn’t have a single complaint about touring. Conversely, she speaks passionately about being onstage. “The shows, when they’re good, are kind of euphoric. When everything’s right – good sound, good venue, good crowd and when everyone in the band is there mentally – it’s really one of those ultimate feelings.”
The conversation moves to hip-hop and R’n’B in general. Are there any contemporary artists they really dig at the minute, or do they prefer the classic stuff from the 90s? “Well, if you look at A Tribe Called Quest, you kind of like every single album, they’re classics. Whereas these days, with the new artists it’s more about particular songs.” Yukimi argues. “I wouldn’t say I like everything Drake does, but there’ll be one song I like that’s a party track, y’know. Or I’ll have my five songs by Amerie that I’ll play over and over, and I’ll have a favourite few Frank Ocean songs. When there was vinyl, you had four or five tracks each side that was all you could fit, the songs have to be perfect. Then when the CD came along everyone was skipping to the singles and now you know, it’s just like ‘here’s everything I’ve done.’ It’s just a lot to take in.”
“ I ’ m n o t f r om t h e g h e t t o , I co u l d n e v e r
s i n g l i k e F a i t h Ev a n s e v e n if I t r i e d . B u t yo u b e com e i n s p i r e d , yo u p ic k a l l t h e i n f l u e n c e s f r om d iff e r e n t e r a s b u t yo u fi n d yo u r ow n w a y . Y o u ’ v e g o t t o t r y a n d b e yo u r s e l f ” Little Dragon sound great live. They capture the sound of the record particularly well; they slow the tunes, speed them up and extend them. Erik explains the process: “In the studio we have so many synths, but we sample each sound, so you can play whatever you want on the keyboard with that particular sound. That’s one thing we really want to continue doing. Keep the music alive – especially when you’re doing long tours like this. You have to make sure that fragility is still there.” It all sounds pretty complex and time consuming, so does the equipment ever fuck up? “Oh yeah, all the time”, Yukimi exclaims. “Like last night, we got onstage and a synth just said ‘system error’ on the face so we had to reset the sampler. But, y’know, we’d rather go through all that than use a backtrack.” This determination and relentless energy reflects the sturdy personality of the band, an initially surprising quality given the emotive, sometimes delicate feel of much of their music. Prior to releasing Ritual Union and achieving their current level of success – the respectable commercial performance of the record, the sell-out tours etc – Little Dragon worked on a number of attention-grabbing collaborations, which probably helped to fuel their ascent. Their appearance on TV On The Radio member and distinguished indie producer David Sitek’s solo album will have exposed them to thousands of Pitchfork readers. The band also featured on SBTRKT’s Wildfire single, receiving heavy airplay, and after Drake jumped on a remix, a
Both Yukimi and Erik were once members of Swedish electronic jazz outfit Koop’s touring band. Yukimi’s work with Koop showcases her abilities as a jazz singer, as do some of the tracks on Little Dragon’s self-titled debut album. But when Crack asks her about her transition to a more R’n’B influenced singing style, she winces with Erik seemingly amused by the sudden moment of awkwardness. “I think I cringe because Koop is like ... it’s almost like I don’t really think that is me. It’s not that I don’t love jazz music. The saxophone player in Koop was just the saxophone player, he played just what he was supposed to play in that band. And I was pretty much just doing the same thing. I was paying my rent off with those shows, singing the songs that someone else had written and just being that instrument in the same sense, but I really wasn’t part of that band. That’s really how I feel in my soul. So I was always happy to get away from that and sing my own songs with these guys, Little Dragon.
“And with the R’n’B influence it’s like, I’m not from the ghetto, I could never sing like Faith Evans even if I tried. But you become inspired, you pick all the influences from different eras but you find your own way. You’ve got to try and be yourself.” But even by the time Little Dragon had a debut album out, they hadn’t yet maintained the sense of autonomy and artistic control that they possess today. Despite featuring the song Twice, a gorgeous ballad that might be the best song they’ve written, the first album is uncharacteristically shabby round the edges. Yukimi is in no way hesitant to clarify what went wrong. “We basically delivered the demos to our label, ten or 11 songs or whatever, and they just said ‘OK, this is it, this is the album. It’s done.’ I think for the second album we decided to find a way to never be in that situation again. So after that we never ever played songs we weren’t sure about to our label because we just didn’t trust them in that sense, because they might just decide that’s going to be released without our consent.” So what about the next album? Is there any new material in the works? “Oh yeah, at the moment we’re writing. We’re just writing sketches, y’know, collecting ideas”, Yukimi responds. It’s an answer that suggests we’ve got a while to wait until album number four. But with these pop perfectionists, at least we can rest assured that only the best sketches will make the final cut.
Words: David Reed
// Download our nzca / lines mix @ crackmagazine.net
// ÂŠ Robert Self
In the expanse of the southern Peruvian desert lie a series of seemingly innocuous lines carved in the area’s distinctive ruddy surface. Innocuous from the ground, that is. From above that barren scape, in flight or from high in the surrounding hills, these lines come to staggering life.
much the older generation at that point, I was only really allowed to be included in parties and stuff a little later on. Even then, especially with Gabe, it’s been difficult to get past the ‘little brother’ thing. And along with James, who’s in Veronica Falls, I saw them all but couldn’t claim to have been friends with them as I was a bit too young.
Forged by the ancient Nazca culture around 1500 years ago, they form a series of geometrical shapes, and more remarkable still, beautifully crafted images of creatures including a monkey, a giant and a lizard. In the wrong context these lines are nothing of note. But viewed in the correct way, they are one of this earth’s most extraordinary spectacles. So struck was Michael Lovett by this phenomenon that its name was adopted as the overarching title for his entire musical existence. Both specifically and in a broader sense, the lines simply spoke to him.
Were they making music back then as well? Yeah, Joe, James and Gabe and this other guy were in a really good kind of Beatles-esque four-piece called The Upsides. There are some great photos of them all when they were about 16, and my Mum always used to play it in the car! I think it’s stuff like that which pushed me towards being a band. There’s a tape with a track that is Joe Mount’s first go at playing guitar and recording. That’s probably going to be worth something at some point!
at different times trying to follow these compasses and getting into various situations, ultimately relating back to personal matters but in this bigger context. In relation to that, there’s also the context of flying over something and seeing the ground in a very particular way, but you can be in a very different world when you’re actually on the ground. So when I found out about the Nazca Lines, that seemed to coordinate with it: when you’re on the ground. It looks like dirt tracks, when you’re in the sky it looks like drawings. I had a song called Nazca about a guy who falls in love with the airship he’s flying in and wants to kill all the other crew to be alone with it, because he likes seeing things from the air so much. And so the whole thing was named after that. And once the concept was established, the rest of the songs grew from that?
Lovett comes from exceptional musical stock. His brother, Gabriel The concept dates back a few years before the record began coming Stebbing, was one of the founding members of Metronomy, that rarest of Do you think it’s the future to continue to see more and more together. I was in Edinburgh at art college and began making up a few bands who combine popular appeal with impeccable musicianship and solo, bedroom-type producers rather than bands? It’s notoriously stories around this New Magnetic North idea and basing a lot of artwork credibility. Indeed, the area of Devon which sparked his musical longings difficult to make money, so do you think more and more people around that. I’d been talking to Rob (Fresson, Taking Tiger Mountain) spawned numerous creative individuals particularly adept in the art of will be drawn to doing simpler, more time and cost-effective about wanting to approach music in the same way as you’d approach an perfectly-made pop. Lovett soon found his own route. Via the promise- solo projects? art project, not just sitting around waiting for inspiration to catch you but riddled Taking Tiger Mountain, a band whose early outings suggested a being quite objective about it and trying to make music that creates a story spark that many bands could never hope to achieve, and is like a body of work. I actually stole the idea of and a stint on bass in his brother’s post-Metronomy a person falling in love with a ship from Rob; although indie-pop outfit Your Twenties, he found that his ear his was an actual ship and mine was an airship ... I “ I ’ d b e e n ta l k i n g a b o u t wa n t i n g t o for a tune was perhaps best nurtured alone. From don’t think anyone knows that except me and Rob! So it this came the self-made but wide-reaching sound of was all pre-planned, it was just about finding the right NZCA/Lines. The forward-thinking Loaf Recordings a p p r o a c h m u s ic i n t h e s a m e w a y a s yo u ’ d way of doing it, which gradually became apparent. soon picked it up, and an exceptional self-titled debut followed. And have you started thinking about how a p p r o a c h a n a r t p r oj e c t . . . t r yi n g t o you’ll be able to move this concept on into a Much like those humble Peruvian lines, behind the second record? m a k e m u s ic t h a t c r e a t e s a s t o r y a n d i s immediate impression of simple, addictive pop melody is a wealth of intriguing detail and intent. The I’m beginning to write some bits and pieces with a view l i k e a b o d y of wo r k . ” painstakingly thought-out concept, which unfurls to recording a new demo that we’ll be aiming to have lovingly throughout the record, never becomes finished and mixed as a follow-up single. I’m trying to alienating. In isolation these songs are dance floordecide whether it should be an entirely new project or friendly with an effortless knack for melody which belies Lovett’s youthful It’s true that there’s not much money to be made, but actually I think the a new piece of the current project. Although I feel like I’ve explored this appearance, crisply produced with just the right amount of R’n’B sex and context of the solo project is marked by an essentially lo-fi sound. People quite a lot, others probably don’t, as they haven’t been exposed to it all. sass alongside clipped, glitchy beats. And when listened to as a whole, make music on their laptops, but because of that it doesn’t have much So I think it would be sensible to stay with it – not with the New Magnetic the album’s internal referentiality and considered artistic context hits hard sonic depth to it because you’re limited by using something digital. My North, but with the same general world, in some way. I think the next and true. record was made in the bedroom, but at the same time I was lucky enough step will be a lot sexier, based more on the idea of the sun growing into to be able to use high-quality equipment and I ended up paying for it to a red giant and the Earth heating up and a beach culture born out an Joined by a pair of like-minded individuals in the live arena, he has found be mixed on an amazing desk so it’s gone through lots of lovely analogue apocalyptic idea, R’n’B honeys in a futuristic setting. a way to not replicate but recreate the album in a live setting. This has compressors. If you want stuff to sound really great then you either have served to forge a real sense of momentum, where the record has become to save up and buy equipment yourself, or you need to spend the money on How did your work with Black Devil Disco Club come around? both a starting point and a creation that runs alongside this constantly taking it into that last stage. But you never really lose the need to play live, evolving project. It’s a show that Crack is proud to be presenting at our and that has to be more than just a person with a laptop to be exciting. The record had just been finished and Loaf were getting different people forthcoming monthly party at Dalston’s The Nest on May 12th. to guest on it, like Nancy Sinatra and Faris Badwan and Afrika Bambataa. We were really impressed with the branding – the music videos, They were trying to get Alex Kapranos to do a track, which eventually fell Having shared an enlightening conversation with this truly inventive young imagery, artwork – for NZCA/Lines. Were you heavily involved in through and Loaf suggested I had a go. I got the track and the lyrics – artist, as well as gratefully accepting a mix-tape for our Crackcast series, that and do you view it as important? which were really, really good – and tried a few different things and they which showcases an extremely eclectic roll-call of influences, far from ended up using it, which was great. I didn’t expect at all. It was lucky being limited by its dedication ton one-of Peru’s greatest landmarks, this Really important. I’ve taken a long time to consider the branding I want chance. project shows scope to grow and grow. but it’s still changing and it’s still a little bit of ‘taste it and see’. I’m glad you think it’s been consistent, for me it’s fluctuated a little because I’m still Last of all, what can we expect from the mixtape you’ll be compiling learning how to do certain things. I really wanted to do the artwork for the for our Crackcast series? How has your song-writing process changed since you began as record, but I wasn’t able to do it justice because I didn’t know how to use a musician? the programmes or make something that looked slick enough or had the I guess the aim is a kind of tour of influences, but combined in a certain right feeling about it. So Non-Format did the sleeve, which is really great. way, especially R’n’B vocals with experimental electronica tracks which It’s changed a lot. It used to be about trying to write the three minute pop tend to blend quite well together. But yeah, it’s gonna be danceable. song in a band format, sitting at home playing the drums and the bass. Yes, we featured Non-Format in the magazine recently. How did Then I moved to Falmouth and the band and me started playing some of you become connected with them? those demos I’d worked on in my Mum’s garage. That evolved into the ----------band Taking Tiger Mountain, and it became far more about being a band They’ve done lots of work for Loaf and they have this strong ongoing than just being me. While that band only existed for a short time, everyone relationship. They liked the record and came through with a few versions was very proactive. I got caught up in the romance of a band, not least of what we ended up with, and it came out really well. I guess I’m just Tune: Compass Points because of my brother – not Metronomy, cause that came a bit later – but trying to learn from what they’ve done and ... not copy, but be inspired by he was in various bands. But I’ve now almost gone back to the way I used its approach. We made the last video, for Okinawa Channels, ourselves. Catch NZCA/Lines at: to write music before that point, back when I was 15/16, based on the A friend of ours is a professional photographer’s assistant and has done computer and messing around with keyboards and multi-tracking. It’s some filming. We took advice from friends and came up with this concept Land of Kings festival, Shoreditch: May 4th really nice because you come up with stuff you wouldn’t expect; you’re in relation to the song being about radio waves infiltrating a town and The Great Escape Festival, Brighton May 11th able to put something down and create ideas by joining things together in making everyone go insane. Just Crack,The Nest, Dalston: May 12th a way you wouldn’t expect. What’s the story behind the name? NZCA/Lines is available now on Loaf Records You wonder if there’s something in the water down in Devon, with people like yourself and Metronomy making such memorable pop It comes from the idea of the New Magnetic North, which is a conceptual facebook.com/NZCALINES music. Were you all friends growing up? idea around an alternative set of magnetic poles which are constantly shifting rather than being fixed. So this group of people who are in the know Words: Clark Merkin and Rich Bitt Well, the Metronomy guys are older, Joe (Mount) is like five years older, can navigate by these shifting magnetic poles using certain compasses. Gabe’s seven. They were leaving school when I was 13/14. They were very Basically the whole record is built around little stories of different people
Left to Right Crackle Time Phone Past / Present / Future ÂŠ D. Billy
/ / D a vi d W i l l i a m m a d e h i s r e p u t a t io n c r e a t i n g singular
h u mo u r ,
l a r g e l y a c r o s s t h e s p r a w l of N e w Y o r k .
Approaching seemingly commonplace settings from a wildly creative comic book perspective, see-sawing between satire, profundity and farce, D.Billy’s work has surely brightened up many an afternoon. Utilising a modest combination of tape, balloons and a shitload of wit, these ‘scene interventions’ are genuinely hilarious and refreshingly unpretentious. Here’s a man who views the world through truly unique eyes, then forces that vision on the world at large, intruding on their comfortable, knowable space.
Having exhibited across the US, last year he was invited to hop into bed with our well-meaning partner in many a wonky evening and groggy morning, Jamaica’s premier lager beer Red Stripe. As part of the Make With Red Stripe campaign, he was tasked with translating his knack for forming a sense of movement and dynamism onto a van purely in red marking. We got the opportunity to quiz this intriguing and distinctly contemporary artist on why and how he does what he does.
These ‘events’, when captured for the wider public in photographic form, see real life become a square in a comic book, complete with playful visualised sounds – CLANG and FOOOSH and ZZZAP – or jagged lines creating a vivid sense of movement, thereby forming something solid from a fleeting scene such as the FLAP FLAP FLAP of a pigeon’s wings. This injection of brilliantly coloured fantasy into urban mundanity provides a charming levity which speaks to something inside all of us.
In your work in site interventions, did you take inspiration from more traditional street artists? How did you come to adopt your own particular methods?
In Past/Present/Future, three payphones are labelled with those basic words, and with that simple gesture banal becomes fantastical, reflective and whimsical. Magic Potion, meanwhile, imbues a fairly grotty-looking tap in Portland, Oregon with divine properties. His work is not only formed from the innocuous, but from the invisible – see the 2009 piece where a sign declaring ‘Ant Battle: Thursday 2pm’ suddenly instills a woodland floor with a sense of sublime absurdity. In these works of intervention, the art occurs not on canvas, in actions or even in the act of placing tape on concrete: the art happens inside D.billy’s head. Such processes are replicated, in a sense, in his creation of collages and mixed media work. These pluck disparate images from a range of sources and places them together to joyously surreal and constantly smileinducing effect, accompanied by his trusty sound effects; from HRONK to GAGAGUNK to FWOM.
I don’t feel particularly in league with ‘traditional’ street artists – meaning graffiti writers, muralists, wheat-pasters – though I do occasionally see a piece that I like. I don’t have any inclinations toward claiming territory with tags, or spreading a ubiquitous image or brand like Space Invader or Shephard Fairey, or making huge paintings on the sides of a buildings. I mean, obviously, a funkily-painted wall is more interesting than a blank, unpainted one, just as a canvas is more interesting once an artist has done something to it. But in the end, they’re both just paintings to me. There are contemporary street artists doing work that I’m much more excited about, who interact more with their locations and really make the sites a part of their work. But I’m a studio artist most of the time, and it was actually a series of David Shrigley photographs done in 1999 – which I didn’t see until 2007 – that gave me the nudge out of the door to make site work. He did a brilliant job of making a few small places in the world weirder and funnier, like placing a sign sticking out of a small stream that said ‘RIVER FOR SALE’, and I was struck by how such a small gesture could suddenly make the world seem an exponentially more ridiculous and enjoyable place.
You must have a very unique worldview. Do you think you see potential in every day life that others don’t? I can’t speak with any authority on how others see things, but I���m hardwired to relate to the world as a place where anything or anyone has the potential to become ridiculous at the drop of a hat. All it takes is a little nudge in the right (or wrong) direction. I’m sure that the inordinate number of hours I’ve spent watching cartoons and comedies and reading comic books has a fair amount to do with that predisposition. I also notice small details, especially inconsistent ones, and am very interested in the way all kinds of things work, or fail to work. I also love when things that weren’t meant to go together are paired, and end up creating something new when combined. I’m forever seeing compositions in the placement of everyday things. It makes living with me a pain, because I’m forever nudging the furniture around to get the room just right. Put all of those tendencies together, and you get the kind of stuff that I make. Are there other ‘site interventionists’ who interact with the world in a similar way to you? There was a great book put out by Gestalten in 2010 called Urban Interventions: Personal Projects in Public Spaces. I was thrilled to be included in there alongside artists like Mark Jenkins, Jan Vormann, William Lamson, Bruno Taylor, Poster Boy, Urban Camouflage, and Joshua Allan Harris. They all interact with sites in clever and funny ways, and use their work to transform the space it occupies. I’ll also give a shout out to my fellow NYC tape-slinger Aakash Nihalani, who, for my money, has done more interesting things with the cube than Sol LeWitt. Do you think New York as a setting plays an important part in these works? - - - - ->
Left to Right Fooosh Magic Potion Brrring ÂŠ D. Billy
Left to Right Hronk Ant Battle © D. Billy
“ I r e l a t e t o com e d i a n s a n d com e d y w r i t e r s
long New York was certainly instrumental in getting me started. I used to live in a converted warehouse in Greenpoint, at the northwest end of Brooklyn, in the quiet corner of a very industrial neighbourhood. Across the street from me, there was a broken fire hydrant that I saw whenever I went outside, and its obsolescence stared me in the face until I went to Party City, bought some balloons and streamers, and made FOOOSH. That was my first site intervention. Cities in general provide wonderfully gritty backdrops for colorful interventions, but by virtue of it being my home base, most of them have happened in New York. Do you think that these pieces work differently at different points in their existence: in their conception as an alternative view of the world; then as a creation that people can physically see in real life; and thirdly as a photograph, which is how most people will view it? The first two stages, conception and creation, happen very close together. It’s rare that I plan a specific intervention ahead of time, I just leave the house with materials and walk around someplace waiting for something to hit me, and then I do something on the spot. It’s a bust just as often as it is a success, but at least there’s a bit of exercise involved. But the final stage, where an intervention exists as a photograph, is a very different thing. The first reaction is often, “Oh, I thought that was Photoshopped in” or, “It almost looks like you painted that onto the photograph!” But that usually gives way to, “I wish I could have seen it when it was up.” And as far as I’m concerned, that in-between time is the sweet spot. After I’m gone, but while the intervention is still bright and fresh, that place is changed. And in a short while, it’ll be changed back. And since I tend
jo k e ,
ov e r
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make or break the whole.”
to put up short-lived interventions in kind of remote spots, there is a good chance that anyone who saw it in person will have had a unique experience. I’ve actually met one person, purely by chance, for whom that has happened with one of my interventions. I hope there are more. Something like Three Phones suggests an attempt to create something profound from something innocuous, is that the case? I’m kind of allergic to actual profundity, but I like winking at it. As I was taking the pictures of that piece, a man actually went up and studied his options, and dropped a quarter in the ‘Future’ phone. I hope he got some good stock tips, or at least was told to avoid the series finale of LOST and the last season of Battlestar Galactica. Do you think it’s important to have a sense of humour in a world which can take itself as seriously as art? Individuals like yourself and David Shrigley, who actively make you laugh out loud with their work, seem to be few and far between. About ten years ago someone told me that she couldn’t get into my work because she related to the world through pain and loss, or something along those lines, and she didn’t see any acknowledgement of those things in what I was doing. Like I was denying the existence of human suffering, and therefore my work was invalid, or at best, unimportant. And while I www.crackmagazine.net
think that there is value in some art that engages with heavy subject material in a serious and thoughtful manner, I also think that too much art is up its own ass, and could lighten up a bit. But at the same time, even though humour is instinctual for me, there is also an intellectual element to it. I relate to comedians and comedy writers who agonise over one small word in a long joke, because one part really can make or break the whole. I actually do think (possibly too much) about how many vowels a sound effect should have, and what size the letters should be in relation to one another, and at what angle the word should come out. I’ve gotten almost all the way through a tape-up job, only to tear it down and start again because it didn’t feel right. And I’ll spend hours rifling through collage materials looking for just the right arm or a word balloon, when I could just as easily draw one from scratch, but that would be against the stupid rule of “found images only” that I set for that piece. So maybe I do experience some small form of agony in artmaking, but it’s all in service of the laugh at the end. Are you as interested in comic books as this work might suggest? Would you ever work on a comic book in the conventional sense? I do read a lot of comics of all kinds. I would happily work on a comic book, though I have no idea how good I’d be at it. I sometimes draw little absurd one-panel cartoons, like a salt and pepper shaker with legs and eyes facing each other, and the caption ‘ONE WILL BETRAY THE OTHER’, but I haven’t really made a thing of it yet. I’d like to, I think. Your collages often take seemingly unlinked images and place them together. How do you source these images and what is your - - - - ->
Van For Red Stripe Whadaaaamm © D. Billy
“ W h i l e I t h i n k t h at t h e r e i s va l u e i n
s om e a r t t h a t e n g a g e s wi t h h e a vy s u b j e c t m a t e r i a l . . . I a l s o t h i n k t h a t t oo m u c h a r t i s u p i t s ow n a s s , a n d co u l d process? Do you aim to achieve this surreal yet light-hearted effect? The images come from comic books, kids colouring and activity books, instruction manuals, product advertisements … I take things that were meant for visual communication, and make them part of a visual MIScommunication. I cut things out whenever I find them, and keep a photo album of parts, organised into sections like Arms, Legs, Bodies, Word Balloons, Inanimate Objects, Sound Effects, and so on. I usually start with two parts that fit together in an interesting way, and from there, the collage sort of tells me what it needs. A lot of the resulting scenes end up displaying something akin to cartoon violence; funny on the surface, but kind of wrong if you try to place it in the real world. The most clear recurring idea in your work is the visualisation of sound, CLANG and KSSH and CLUNK. What is it about the use of a word to sum up a sound that resonates with you so much? Does it purely hark back to comic books, or is it a more general interest? It started with comic books and, by extension, the Adam West Batman shows from the 1960s. But I like how onomatopoeia can exist simultaneously as form, colour, and sound. And how in reading a word like ‘CLANG’ with our eyes, we “hear” it in our mind. It occupies a nebulous space between the senses, and that fascinates me.
How did you find the experience of coming over to London in order to complete the work?
s t a n d t o l i g h t e n u p a b i t. ”
So as well as seeing the world in comic book terms, do you think you also hear the world in a different way? I definitely pay a lot of attention to the way things sound. I still have strong and very specific sound-memories of the house that I grew up in, things that I haven’t actually heard in 13 years, like how the hall closet sounded when it closed too quickly and bounced back. And now I think about how I might spell that sound. (It’s a “THWACK” followed by a “VRD-D-D-D”, by the way.) How did you and Red Stripe become involved? What were you aiming to accomplish with the project? KK Outlet contacted me completely out of the blue, from my end at least, for their campaign with Red Stripe. They had seen some of my work online, and asked if I would be interested in coming to London and working on visually activating a moving van using only red marks. It sounded like a fun challenge, and I do like London, so here we are! I had worked previously on small design commissions, mostly for people that I knew, but nothing of this scale or for a major brand before. I was excited for the opportunity to adapt my process to a different sort of project, and had a great time thinking of all of the sounds that could come from a moving van full of different kinds of things as it motored along on a bumpy road.
London is great. To me, it feels like a comfortable averaging of things I like about New York where I live now, and Washington DC where I lived for several years before moving here, with just enough of its own style and ambience to make it feel different and exciting. I had no trouble adjusting, though to be fair, I lucked out with brilliant weather for the week, and I didn’t have to drive the moving van, which is probably for the best. So much of your work shows a distinctive sense of place / interaction with place. Even though you haven’t focused on ‘site interactions’ to such an extent over the last year or two, did coming to somewhere like London reignite your passion to mess around with settings and things you saw? I would absolutely love to come back to London with a bag full of art supplies, and intervene all over her streets. I’ll just have to remember to look the opposite way of what I’m used to.
Words: Geraint Davies www.crackmagazine.net
This poster is designed by Jackson Bateman jacksonbateman.co.uk One of the many graduates showcasing their final degree work at Spike Island Bristol 9-14th June
To have your design featured for our poster send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org www.crackmagazine.net
xiU xiU T
M u c h h a s b e e n m a d e of t h e i r e n i g m a t ic i d e n t i t y , b u t i t ’ s A l t - J ’ s m u s ic w h ic h t r u l y s t a n d s t h e m a p a r t.
“ Ev e r y t h i n g i s s o a cc e s s i b l e n ow .
People put so much on the internet t h a t i t s e e m s mo r e of a p ow e r f u l That Romeo Montague chap asked “what’s th in a name?” and as it turns out, quite a lot actually. A band’s name can say as much or as little about them as they care to share, but it’s undeniable that they will be judged by it. Assumptions will be made, as a mysterious band of chaps, photographically faceless and with nowt but a shape to be known by, are finding out. For Alt-J withholding information is proving powerful. Well sorry lads; here’s your exposé. Crack artfully scheduled a chat with the band at their recent Africa Centre gig, the venue for their first headline London show since signing to Infectious. Sneaking a gig in alongside business is absolutely legit when the band is this scintillating to watch. Along with the audience, Crack is bubbling with anticipation. It’s been a while since we last saw them live, down the front at their debut single launch back in October. What a long way they’ve come since. It would be incorrect to call Alt-J an overnight success. Joe Newman, Gwilym Sainsbury, Thom Green and Gus Unger-Hamilton go way back, firm friends from the off at Leeds University. Frontman Joe had already been busy writing songs when he met future guitarist Gwil and drummer Thom on their Fine Art course. They added keyboardist Gus (who handily happens to be a classically trained pianist, but he doesn’t go on about it) and the band was born. They started jamming, penning and gigging three years ago, recent release Matilda dating back to 2009. You see, this recently rapid rate of pop progression has been a while in coming. The snowball started rolling proper last October with the launch of debut AA side single Tessellate/Bloodflood, put out by Loud & Quiet. The record was picked up by BBC Radio 6. Signing to Infectious Records came in the final days of 2011 and recording their debut album began their New Year. Then came a nationwide tour supporting Ghostpoet, followed by another with Wild Beasts. Even the lads themselves were impressed with this. “Wild Beasts are the reason I stuck with being in a band”, Gwil confesses. Their geographical knowledge of Britain must be pretty shit hot by now. Always a bonus. So what’s with the symbol for a name? Alt-J by any name would sound as sweet, but as it stands, their unusual choice of moniker (holding the ‘alt’ key and hitting ‘J’ results in the triangle symbol ‘delta’ – ∆) has certainly drawn attention. T-shirts, 7” singles and even fans’ tattooed arms are emblazoned with the triangular shape. But whilst iconic to those in the know, it’s a curve ball thrown at the Google generation and something of a PR nightmare. What were they thinking? “Isn’t that good?” Gwil questions Crack in retaliation. The man has a point. “It makes it more interesting. Everything is so accessible now. People put so much on the internet that it seems more of a powerful thing to withhold information.” Before settling on their three-sided handle, the lads were known as FILMS for a while, a name equally hard to Google search. Are they massive film fans? “Maybe that’s where the word came from, but it’s not really what it meant”, explains Thom. “It’s just a great word, it sounds nice.” He’s right, it does. A couple of their early tracks were certainly film-inspired
What we do know is that their songs are impressive, moving and sumptuous. The band jams to compose most of their music together, Joe writes the lyrics and Gus composes all the piano parts. Now Crack is curious whether music or lyrics come first. Joe’s not sure: “I haven’t identified a clean cut routine when writing a song yet. Most of the time I sit on things, like a word I like or a sentence I’ve pinched from a book or an idea for a narrative. I wait for the right time to set it up with another idea, be it a chord structure, drum beat or more lyrics, and just collage it all together. Most tracks are a great number of doodles hacked together to form one song.” So how do they know when it’s finished? Thom offers: “Well you just know that nothing else needs to go in it. With recording you actually take a lot out.” Gwil agrees. “I always seems to be more about taking stuff out than putting stuff in, that I think is what making interesting music is. None of us play for the sake of playing. If we only play in a bit then that’s how it should be, because that’s what’s best for the track.”
i n g t o wi t h h o l d i n fo r m a t io n . ” though, particularly their second AA single Fitzpleasure/Matilda, the latter of which is a sweet homage to the pint-sized heroine of Leon. Crack wonders, if they could score any movie which they would choose? Joe decides on “anything for Paddy Considine”, while Gwil muses, “it’s arrogant and I couldn’t do it better, but Koyaanisqatsi. It’s the ultimate film to make a score for but you’re never going to do it better than Philip Glass.” Thom adds, “my favourite films are realistic ones based on true stories, like Snow Town. I’d do stuff like that, where it was very industrial and scarier than what you were actually seeing.” As Crack had suspected, they are definitely film buffs. So who would play Alt-J in their biopic? Gwil chuckles. “Joe would be James Corden and Gus would be Daniel Radcliffe”, then nods to Thom. “You’d be Brad Pitt.” Thom’s okay with this. “Yeah, Brad Pitt or Christian Bale, I don’t mind either. Bale is amazing. He’s my favourite actor.” After some debate it’s decided that Gwil can be played by Macaulay Culkin. Corden, Radcliffe, Pitt and Culkin perched together onstage paints an intriguing picture, but unless you’re a seasoned veteran Alt-J fan, chances are you wouldn’t recognise the band in a line-up. Initial press shots saw the band cleverly avoiding looking directly into the camera lens, if at all. Why all the mystery? Gwil’s not sure that was the motivation. “What we don’t like is the dishonest posing and ‘coolness’ of a lot of band photos, so in a lot of our early ones we did things not just to hide our faces, but things that were just anti-posing. You’ve got a lot of potential with a photograph to make something interesting, so I think you should take that on.” Thom backs him up. “There’s little uniqueness to it. When you flick through a music magazine – it’s all the same.” A gimmick this ain’t. Having an image isn’t important to these boys. Making great tunes is. Their commitment to making music that they believe in and are proud of is crystal clear. Theirs is a blend of folk and electronica with often grimy beats that makes for a ruddy refreshing “new sound” – to quote The Mighty Boosh’s immortal words – that’s been missing from Crack’s stereo. Did they set out to make something that would stand out from other music? Gwil shakes his head. “Not in a way that we got together and discussed some sort of manifesto or something, but just in the way that I think we make sounds that we’d like to hear.” Thom agrees. “It’s all about being interesting. We know what we want to hear, and it just happens that people like it. It’s amazing.”
Like so many artists, Joe’s lyrics borrow from all strands and brands of popular culture. Picasso was a demon for it. So is Hirst. And don’t get us started on Tame Impala, Girls and Yuck. So does Joe have favoured writers to borrow ideas from? “I’m happy with ‘steal’” he admits, “but that’s a hard question. I don’t think I have favourites. I’m impressed by all authors to be honest and in every book I read I find sentences I love. For me it’s about stealing those sentences and then running with it and taking it to your own ends and coming up with something fun and new that excites you.” So after two AA side singles, one of which was released on very impressive triangular-shaped vinyl, the band’s debut album An Awesome Wave is soon upon us. Recorded in January by their long-serving producer (and now friend) Charlie Andrew, who has been at the helm of every recording the boys have released, the album is a lush, fluid journey through old favourites and new compositions. It suggest a recording process as smooth as the album itself. “We had the whole month at Charlie’s studio in Brixton to record. We knew the direction it was going to go in and we had an idea of what it was going to be, but when we go in the studio it actually became a lot clearer” explains Gwil. Yep, they know what they’re doing. Before they dash onstage, we have one last question. What is Fitzpleasure about? It’s impossible to make out Joe’s vocals, but it sounds filthy. The lads smile knowingly and Thom confirms that “we really can’t say until the album is out”. So there are still some mysteries that Crack will just have to leave be.
------------So let’s get to the bottom of this. If we had a time machine handy would they prefer to go back and be a 60s folk act or a 90s jungle outfit? Gwil and Thom both decide they would rather be jungle producers, while Joe goes for the former. “Yeah, the 60s one probably. San Francisco and all that. I would probably join a cult and drink that punch that killed everyone.” After some chat, in which James Blake, Johnny Flynn and Nas come up, it’s apparent that the boys’ musical tastes differ hugely. Crack reckons it’s this cacophony of influences and flair for experimentation that makes the Alt-J magic happen. But who are we to say? www.crackmagazine.net
Tune: Matilda An Awesome Wave is released on Infectious on 28th May altjband.com Words: Lucie Grace
/ ÂŠ Gabriel Asper
How did you end up studying in Washington?
A man of initiative, Martyn, as you’ve probably clocked, is not your orthodox electronic music mammal. Hailing from the southern Dutch town of Eindhoven, there has always been a part of him tied to the UK; having spent his formative years hosting drum and bass nights in his hometown, he would regularly visit London and Bristol. Yet he was also hearing other music, gradually taking influence from the colossal techno names passing through the cities near by.
I was quite happy with the result. It’s always difficult. The more work you do, the harsher critics are going to be. When you release your debut record people always think your sound is fresh and good. When it comes to releasing your second record, critics expect a little bit more. My second album is a large component of the live show as well, so almost on weekly basis I can see people responding to the music. I’m trying to think of my music in album context. I think the more albums you make, the more seriously people are going to take you.
In an era when producer artist albums can go slightly under the radar we felt Ghost People was generally well received and went hand in hand with the live show really well. What’s your general feeling on it in retrospect?
Add to this a dynamic production-only live show which will manifest itself at Parklife Festival in Manchester when he headlines the Crack Magazine Thrasher stage, a live art collaboration with long-term friend and cohort Erosie and a desire to only make albums and you have the kind of artist that Crack likes: a man with little or no tolerance for mediocrity, or in other terms: a man with a truly excellent shit filter. And to top it off, he’s even found time to undertake a political science degree in this new home of Washington.
Beyond that, the mantra of only dealing with those doing interesting things has been strictly adhered to on his 3024 label, releasing the likes of Redshape, Julio Bashmore, Addison Groove and John Convex among others.
There are a number of guys who butcher together genres within their sets. In today’s relative ‘ave a go at that sound’ hotch-potch it’s positively encouraged. What separates Martyn’s ear from the next is his sheer ability to siphon the strands of each genre that are a) quality and b) interesting pieces of music in their own right. This was expertly deployed when he was chosen to compile the 50th Fabric Saturday night mix CD, one of their most cross-pollinated, accomplished releases to date.
In this most obvious sense, these early electronic staples formed the foundations for a producer who was tying together disparate scenes and genre strands long before techno, two-step, bass music and house became as magically intertwined as they have in recent times. On debut long-player Great Lengths and early productions such as the lauded Virgo, the micro genre manipulation was in full-force. Yet on his most recent album, the Brainfeeder-released Ghost People he provided a cohesive reminder of what a brilliant producer he is when focuses on one style; in this case, the tough end of house.
My aim is to make an album, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be making remixes or separate 12 inches. I think it’s nice to be an album artist. It has a nice rhythm to it. You make it, you release it, you tour it for a while and then you start thinking about the next one. It’s much better to work that way rather than being like ‘if I don’t have a 12 inch out next month I’m not relevant.’
After commenting on his rather fetching faux leopard print jumper (we love a bit of that round here), our interview subject proceeded to pull out an MPC fully cloaked in lustrous leopard print design. “It was getting hard to identify my equipment when I was playing festivals, so on a lonely night in my hotel room I decided to do a bit of customising.”
We read an interesting interview with yourself and Erosie talking about people losing the intimate connection with music due to technology, for example people on their phones at gigs. Is this immersive style of performance an attempt to get people back experiencing the music fully.
Words: Thomas Frost
Catch Martyn on the Crack Magazine/Thrasher stage at Parklife, Manchester on June 9th
See you there. Can’t wait!
We’ll catch you on the Crack stage at Parklife!
The Grand National was a few weeks ago and people were talking about it again. This track is going to be a classic every year now!
We’re big fans of it!
I think what makes 3024 good is everyone is allowed the freedom to do what they like. From an A&R perspective we only allow people onto the label we think are interesting. We invited Matt (Bashmore) because we love his music and he has a special take on house music and stays away from that UK bass thing and avoids the clichés associated with it. He submitted Batty Knee Dance and Ribble To Amazon first and then submitted Grand National and said, ‘I think this should be the third track.’ When I listened to it I thought it was funny and I thought ‘you know what, if Matt wants it on there, no other label is going to say yes to this, so I should.’ Most people would have said ‘what the fuck!’ It was a good way to show the complete freedom of the label. It’s not a track I listen to a lot, but it does fit the package.
Lastly, we have to ask about the Julio Bashmore track Grand National, put out on 3024 as the B-side to Batty Knee Dance. That track has Crack’s very own Mystic Greg doing horse noises at the start of the track. We loved the fact you put it out!
The first Photek album and Metalheadz records were influences. We used to take weekends off and go to London and buy records. Bristol was always on the map for us too. We knew Colin who used to run Knowledge Magazine (a popular drum and bass-focused publication). He would come to our nights and we would come to Bristol and visit them. Even people like Technical Itch and MC Jakes and the older bass music generation in Bristol were friends.
Were you influenced much by UK bass music?
Yeah, that was in London. He did it before I started playing. It was amazing. Our recent project was called Collider where Erosie worked with two other guys on 3D projection mapping. He would literally draw while I was playing. Every time we do something like this together we try and take a little step more. The way he draws is very intuitive, I guess. When he paints and draws he always listens to music, so when I do a live performance he is listening to my music and responding to it.
We saw a video online for your Ghost People album launch party where Erosie painted the entire venue.
everything helps the scene develop. We like to tell people we are from Holland, ‘but we are from Eindhoven!’ Between Amsterdam, Brussels and Antwerp there were big techno scenes in the 90s and we were in the middle. We had some great after-hours clubs so people we could come and play those. We had quite a lush selection of good DJs and that’s where I first listened Detroit techno and Chicago house. I think Carl Craig actually lived in Eindhoven for a brief moment.
We used the throw drum and bass nights in Eindhoven and he used to do flyers and decorations for them. Once I started my label he just jumped in. He would be the person who took care of all the graphical work for them. Last year after the Ghost People album, we started working more closely and figured out a way to perform live.
I was always interested in politics as well “ I ’ m t r yi n g t o t h i n k of my m u s ic as history. When I moved The whole i n a l b u m co n t e x t . I t h i n k t h e mo r e here in early idea behind 2008 it was at clubbing has a l b u m s yo u m a k e , t h e mo r e s e r io u s l y the same time disappeared the Obama a bit. Long thing kicked before there p e o p l e a r e g oi n g t o t a k e yo u . ” off. The first were cell couple of phones or months I lived here was in the midst of this whole election battle. super-clubs, everything was spontaneous. It’s all planned now, it’s on I thought the way he got elected and to see democracy at work the flyer, you know exactly what you’re going to get. I play Panorama was super-inspiring. I think the European perspective of American Bar quite a lot and it really helps that people aren’t allowed to take politics is very much like ‘they are just voting for the guy’, and ‘no pictures, because you have a more intimate vibe. It helps that you one knows where Europe is.’ When you move here, you realise it’s know people can’t be photographing or videoing you. I’m not that quite the opposite and everyone is very much involved in a hands-on, nostalgic thinking we could go back to Paradise Garage or anything, grass-roots way. People go door to door to try and enthuse people to but I think people could be a bit more involved. vote. Coming from Holland, democracy is kind of dead. People would vote, but no one was really for anything and that meant no one was With that in mind, where do you like playing the most? interested, especially young people. On Election Day in the States we went to vote, or my wife did, and there were 600 people in line. I was It’s usually more intimate clubs, but I think Panorama Bar is my like ‘woah!’ It was like the purest form of democracy. favourite place to play. In England you have great places like SubClub in Glasgow and Mint Club in Leeds. It’s cool because people are We thought it was revealing that Fabric picked you for their close and you have direct contact with them. If you have a few hours 50th Saturday night CD release as you were probably one of for a DJ set and people are close you have an energy exchange. Live the most rounded artists to appear in that series. Do you think sets are completely different. For live performance it’s much more that’s why they went for you? about bringing my music across. At Parklife where you guys are hosting a stage I was meant to DJ, but I decided to play live. It’s good It was funny because I was booked for Fabric on Fridays as well as at a festival where there may be loads of people who don’t know my Saturdays. Fridays were always strictly D’n’B, breaks and dubstep stuff ,so it’s good to expose them to it. and Saturdays were strictly four-to-the-floor. If you look at the lineups now it’s very mixed. Fabric 50 was one of the first releases where How was Eindhoven as a place to grow up? What were your this blend started to happen. I took all the tunes I really loved, but early experiences of music? also I wanted to show there is no division between breaks-orientated music and house or techno. It all works together if you blend it well. The first time I went to Bristol, in 1996, it actually reminded me a Now it’s commonplace to do that and no one is surprised if you mix lot of Eindhoven. The vibe is quite similar. In the UK you have house and techno. London as the centre and the place. People think the world ends at the border of London, and you have the same thing in Holland with We just want to talk about your visual art project with you Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the west of the country. Eindhoven is long-term friend Erosie. What is the working relationship in the south and a bit removed, so we are always a bit against what between you both? is happening in the west. Being detached and independent from
Where does your love of political science come from?
My wife is American. We moved about four and a half years ago now. I used to study way, way back in Holland and always had the idea to pursue something else. I did Communication Science for a while and did a Masters in it. I always wanted to study Political Science, so now I’m in Washington I thought that was an appropriate place to start. It’s kind of cool having both sides of your brain working. Obviously if you are just involved in music, the travelling can make you a little brain dead.
Do you think it’s far more difficult to make an album than a series of successful singles?
Chatting with Martyn in his studio via that amazingly modern medium of Skype initially heralded a wonderful discovery.
ÂŠ David Belisle
t h e e s a t i s f a c t i o n / /
W i t h s w a g g e r , s moo t h n e s s a n d e ffo r t l e s s charm,
When Crack meets up with THEESatisfaction, it’s just a couple of days after the release of the video for single QueenS. Showing the girls dressing up, laughing and dancing with a bunch of impeccably stylish friends at a women-only party, the video is directed by dream hampton, the influential hip-hop journalist and filmmaker who insists on a lower-case spelling in a referential nod to black feminist author bell hooks. It totally captures the essence of THEESatisfaction, and the gesture of celebration is perfectly timed considering their present wave of success. THEESatisfaction are far from new to the game. Since 2008 they’ve been uploading self-recorded mixtapes to various file-sharing sites, some of which now cease to exist. But right now they’re enjoying a wider level of attention following the release of first official album awE naturalE, put out by legendary Seattle label Sub Pop. With a heritage which leads most to associate Sub Pop with the early 90s grunge explosion and a current roster of artists that’s predominately ‘indie’ based, the signing of avant-rap group Shabazz Palaces caused some initial fuss. THEESatisfaction’s guest appearances on Shabazz’s acclaimed 2011 album Black Up was a major career boost for the girls, and the tight affiliation between the two continues to be emphasised by both groups. awE naturalE is a culmination of all the sounds THEESatisfaction have experimented with in the past, yet sensing that they’re reaching out to considerably more people this time round, the group have ensured it is undoubtedly their most polished and consistent set of tunes to date. Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White first met in Seattle during their college years. They studied different courses, but through mutual friends gravitated towards the same house parties. Their musical relationship began just as friends sharing tunes – Stas was introducing Cat to classic hip-hop gems while Cat showed off her encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz. From being close friends, Stas and Cat eventually became an item. And after a brief spell as members of a chaotic neo-soul band, they began making music as THEESatisfaction some time during 2007. On THEESatisfaction’s records, Stas takes care of most of the rapping, while Cat saturates the tracks with her warm, jazzy, R’n’B singing. However, their voices often intertwine as they harmonise and back each other’s punch-lines. The beats they create reflect their comprehensive music taste, with elements of soul, flickers of psychedelia and that jazzinfluenced hip-hop sound that recalls the old-school Native Tongues
p o s i t ivi t y
THEES a t i s f a c t io n up
yo u r
groups like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. Yet they’re also known to explore darker sounds, embracing lo-fidelity and minimalism on the Sandra Bollocks Black Baby EP and messing with warped dystopian vibes on tunes like Enchantruss. THEESatisfaction’s lyrics range from surreal mysticism and sci-fi imagery to dancefloor-filling party commandments. When they take on social and political issues, they do so with a tone of defiance and afrocentric swagger. THEESatisfaction’s method of fighting oppression and discrimination is positive and empowering. Their gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation are characteristics which they proudly embrace. In person, Stas and Cat are relentlessly energetic and radiate good vibes. During our interview, they speak passionately, often overlapping each other and finishing each other’s sentences. When we meet them, they’ve come straight from an in-store performance and claim to have had an hour’s sleep since last night’s Dublin gig. Yet they remain hyped for the evening’s set, despite the fact that they’re due onstage at 1 a.m and their train to Glasgow leaves at 8 the following morning.
So you guys have been touring Europe to promote awE naturalE. How are you finding it? Cat: Good. We were in France for a few weeks, then Portugal and Spain and now we’re in the UK, it’s all very exciting. We get the impression that playing live is something you’re particularly passionate about? Stas: Oh yeah, we love it. It’s just very fun, very spiritual. When we’re up there we connect like no other way. You’ve been releasing music independently since 2008. Your collaboration with Shabazz Palaces last year gave you a lot of exposure, and now you’ve got an album out with Sub Pop. Do you feel as if things have progressed at a healthy pace, rather than there being a sudden rush of hype? Stas: Oh yeah, it’s been a very natural progression. You know, we’re really happy with anyone listening to our music. I mean, just being around Shabazz is cool enought for us! Then collaborating with them on Black Up
d a y.
was very cool. It’s been a nice pace. We don’t feel like anything has been too rushed or hyped up. Cat: We put a lot of work into this and nothing’s happened overnight. We were literally packaging our own mixtapes for a really long time. We’d buy a big box of CDs, go print out the CD covers, get the CD cases and use sharpies to write on them, cut shit out, glue it together ... and then we were getting to the point where we were buying bigger stacks of CDs and kept having to burn more and more copies of our older mixtapes. It seems like you guys are really pleased to be signed to Sub Pop. Stas: They’ve been really good to us. We’ve had fun working with them since the beginning. Before we got introduced to them we kind knew each other just from being around in Seattle. It works because we have this high level of respect for each other. When Sub Pop signed Shabazz Palaces and then you guys, people were initially surprised that they’d started putting out ‘hip-hop’ records. But actually, it’s more of a diverse label that people perceive it to be isn’t it? Stas: Yeah, I mean they really have a good ear for music. And I think they do look beyond genres, I mean it’s been known to be like a ‘grunge’ label but Fleet Foxes isn’t exactly grunge, you know what I mean? I think that Sub Pop is like the cream of the crop when it comes to tastemakers. So you two first met each other in 2005, but when did you form THEESatisfaction and was there a turning point when you realised that this was really going to take off? Stas: We worked together for a long time. Cat actually got me a job at Starbucks, and then later we started working at Costco and during that time we started working on music together as THEESatisfaction. So that was like 2009. But when we were working at Costco we were just miserable. They never gave us time off when we needed it and there was just one breaking point where we were on this MTV show called Five Dollar Cover. We just didn’t have time to balance our music career and Costco. And Costco sucked, so we were just like ‘fuck it’. Cat: We were like ‘OK, MTV has given us a couple of cheques that’ll be OK to live off for, like, a couple of seconds!’ So we just did that and figured it out from there.
© David Belisle
Stas: That was a pretty hard time. Cat: Yeah, it is still hard. But now we’re down as ‘Performing Artist’ on our tax forms ... Stas: And we’ve got business licences and stuff.
Stas: It was an incredible experience. The whole set was basically a bunch of black women, the caterers, the costume design, the make-up people. Cat: There were only four men on the whole set.
Cat: But THEESatisfaction is still a pretty small business! [Both laugh]
Stas: Everyone there was just so cool and involved in the scene, you know? There was film makers, a bunch of college grads; just black women who are on the rise, movers and shakers.
What is your creative process behind making a tune, do you start off with a beat?
Cat: They were people who were doing all kinds of things. There was lawyers in there and school teachers ...
Stas: When we’re working on beats, sometimes we work together. But sometimes we’re separate, like tucked away in different corners with our headphones on. But we definitely come together. I might have something and I’m like ‘Cat, get on this right now, I know you’re gonna be feeling it’. Or sometimes I’m like ‘I need to keep this beat for me’, or she just wants her beat for herself. It’s just really whatever we want.
Stas: The vibe was so cool, everyone was so young. I mean, we cast it ourselves and the women were between the ages of 21 and 30. It was relatively young, black women around our age.
Is it true that you’re always singing to each other, just around the house and stuff. Cat: Yeah, it’s great, it’s beautiful. We can’t help it, we do it all the time. That’s just how we grew up in our households. We were always making up songs, singing and dancing around the house. Stas: Both our families are very musical, so when they came together it was just like magic. Cat: Yeah, now our families really like each other and hang out and dance around! Haha! Stas: We’ve had family dance parties! [Both laugh]
Did you want to represent different variations of beauty? Cat: Definitely. I mean those are the kinds of women we hang out with. Like half, maybe two thirds of the cast are our friends. These are people we see in our everyday lives, but they’re not presented enough to the rest of the world. It’s like you often only see one form of woman, one variety of women. Stas: One shade. Cat: With black women it’s really cut short. So we wanted to show that there’s a different side. And that’s the side we see more often than not, like we don’t really see so much of these women that are advertised in the mainstream a lot, that’s just not our reality. So the QueenS video was like a glimpse into our reality! [laughs]
she used to write for Vibe and edit The Source. She’s done so much for hiphop and black music in general. So when we first met her, we were just like ‘Damn, this is so cool!’. She reached out to us and said she wanted to work on a video for QueenS and we were screaming ‘Yeeeeaah!’[laughs] Cat: It was crazy, she’s really an inspiration. She did a short film with Ish from Shabazz called I am Ali, which she wrote with Q-Tip. We’re just really inspired by her, so to have her interested in us is really cool, we have a good connection with dream. You’re addressing certain social and political issues with your lyrics, but you always seem to emphasise the fun element of your music. Do you think encouraging people to have a good time helps promote positive ideas? Cat: Music can be a cure. There’s a definitely a lot of sadness out there. Everyone has their different way of dealing with these things. Things have been terrible for us sometimes, but there’s always a way to work it out. And this music is what’s worked best for us. Stas: We all obviously go through bullshit and drama in our lives, but sometimes you have to dance and laugh your way through that. Because if we just sit here and preach, that’s not going to get anything done. We have to actually work and actively do things. And I feel like if we dance and we share and we feel good together, then that’s a good way to go about it.
awE naturalE is out now on Sub Pop Tune: Extinct
It looks like you had fun on set making the QueenS video?
The video was directed by dream hampton. What do you admire about her and how do you feel about the fact that she supports THEESatisfaction so passionately?
Cat: Oh my God, it was 13 hours of amazingness!
Stas: I used to read her articles way back in the day when I was a kid and
Words: David Reed
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Sleep Party People The Croft| Bristol April 14th ………………………….
Walking into the back room of The Croft feels like a dream. Sleep Party People deliver chorus FX-laden lullabies that head straight for the pineal gland causing mass hallucination in which we all succumb to their unique take on psychedelic lo-fi electronica. Hunched over their keyboards, rabbit ears flapping in time, the bunnymen become real, undulating and pulsating every sound from their keyboards into a forceful distinctive vision. Brain Batz, the principle songwriter here, determines the languid tempo with such precision it seems as if he is in a trance. The crowd respond in kind. Every song crackles and hisses with the electricity of a band who have found their sound. As odd as that sound is, it’s hard not feel affected and in awe of such design: filmic and grandiose, tonally reminiscent of Beach House and even The Cocteau Twins, their vibrating, indecipherable lyrics never detracting from the strange emotionality of it all. They close with the outstanding I’m Not Human At All, summing up the duality of their sound by making us all feel that they, as well as us, are more human than ever.
© Sleep Party People
-----------Words: Philip Allen
Gomez The Great Hall | Cardiff April 20th ………………………….
Dirtybird Warehouse Party Oval Space | London April 7th ………………………….
Wu Lyf Heaven | London March 21st ………………………….
Pulp Royal Albert Hall | London March 31st ………………………….
Gomez haven’t played in Cardiff for eight years, and absence has made the heart a good bit fonder, with a devoted crowd in attendance. London-based Diagrams’ well-oiled warm-up set is gratefully received, and the headliners soon burst into action with the familiar synthy tones of Get Miles, the first track from inaugural award-winning album Bring It On, before immediately spanning their career’s length with a laid back Just as Lost as You from latest offering Whatever’s On Your Mind. A few songs in Ben Ottewell proclaims “I think it’s time for some dirty blues” and the band slip seamlessly into classics Get Myself Arrested and the sublime We Haven’t Turned Around. The smoky tones of Ottewell work effortlessly alongside slide guitar and organ, fellow vocalists Ian Ball and Tom Gray each lending their voices to the fray, blending the haunting harmonies that form the band’s signature sound. Whippin’ Piccadilly rears its jaunty head, before a sombre Tijuana Lady. “Keep the lights on so we can see these beautiful people” Ottwell remarks as Ball picks up the acoustic guitar, Blackburn and Peacock take their places and Gray sits idly to one side sipping a beer as the band regale the crowd once more with a stirring Make No Sound. Superb.
The Dirtybird crew are hot right now. But when you’ve got Eats Everything pushing enough water to make Peter Kendall’s head explode and Claude VonStroke reduced to DJing in his undergarments, you know that things might have got out of hand. Delivering highlight sets, Julio Bashmore’s sophisticated mix of throwback house and Bristol-born bass went down well, with Catz ‘n’ Dogz’ eclectic mix of nostalgic warehouse anthems and low down dirty house proving a hit. J.Phlip was also on hand to help loosen things up with an undeniably infectious tech-drive. Claude himself cooked up a great selection of clear-cut beatage with his refined house strut and hip-hop bounce creating the expected frenzy. There was also considerable hype around Justin Martin’s set with his debut album on the brink of release, and he delivered with a mixture of Ardalan-infused, ghetto funk anthems and tough-buttender G&G cuts. Eats (in between heroically handing out water to a few hundred dangerously dry punters) dropped a great mix of booty shaking excellence with Leroy Peppers and the legendary Ben Westbeech tying up an unbelievable night of high-flying, get-low brilliance.
It occurred to us that we could happily marry a girl who liked WU LYF. We could meet her at the show and the rest would be history. Sadly, that was not to be the case. Firstly, the gig was at Heaven, and well, y’know … secondly, it’s not that (at 25) we felt old there. Rather, we got the impression that had we tried to strike up a conversation about Button Moon with anyone in a 30ft radius, they would have looked at us like we’d offered them a Werthers. It’s a blessing that, in the live area, the cavernous drums and brooding church organ of tracks like Cave Song, Dirt and Spitting Blood are every bit as guttural and emotive as you’d hope. In fact, it’s worth noting that lead singer Ellery Roberts – a man who sounds as if he smokes 60-a-day and washes them down with half a pint of wood chips – gains even more dramatic growl than on tape. By the time of triumphant encore We Bros, the room is howling in a cacophonous drunken sing-along. Most people don’t know the words, no one really cares. Everyone just bounces off each other like beans in a jar, venting sweat and angst in a manner that feels thoroughly appropriate. ------------
Since 2000 the Albert Hall has played host to some of British music’s finest in the aid of Teenager Cancer Trust. To end March in style, Pulp take to the stage for the first time in over half a year. Jarvis cavorts like a testosterone-filled teenager, posing and pumping the air. After rattling through a flurry of high-octane hits (Mis-Shapes, Razzmatazz), Pulp pluck out two acoustic numbers from Different Class: Something Changed and Sorted for E’s and Wizz, raging on with a back catalogue that stretches from London to Sheffield. Jarvis ups the game and welcomes onstage friend and collaborator Richard Hawley. Lights are lowered, cameraphones aglow as a string-quartet accompany a doleful yet gut-wrenching rendition of This is Hardcore. Sumptuous. Lashing out the eradefining Common People to a crowd close to melting point, deliriously drunk on the unity and sense of camaraderie established throughout, Pulp depart. The euphoria seizes, the rigmarole commences and the gang return to deliver a powerhouse encore of 1983 debut single My Lighthouse, Britpop map-plotting Babies and group sing-a-long Disco 2000. Fever pitch is reached comfortably and the audience leave Kensington brimming.
Words: Bear Gwills
----------------------Words: Matt Riches Words: Emyr Glyn Rees
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Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival Indio, CA | USA April 13th - 22nd …………………………. “It’s the best thing we’ve ever seen.” That’s one hell of a statement. Not much to look at, but not to be banded around loosely. It’s taken about a week to decide to put those seven small words in print. But we’ll get back to that. Thursday evening, the desert nights sky crystal clear. The lights of an enormous Ferris Wheel guide our VW camper to its resting place for the following 72 hours after 10 days of California road trip. Wrist bands in position, we park up and start the festival. Coachella is now. Nate Young The Victoria | London April 18th ………………………….
Studio 89: Duff Disco Cardiff March 2nd ………………………….
Nate Young is a conjurer. The Michigan-based experimental musician and visual artist, best known as part of seminal noise act Wolf Eyes, brought his Regression tour to London’s wonderfully pokey Victoria and wrung out a world of near-infinite music from a tabletop set up.
Jeremy Duffy, under slow and steady house pseudonym Duff Disco, has begun to make his mark. With a host of infectiously sultry edits on Disko, Tenth Circle and his own Join The Dots print, he has put a stamp on a painfully overcrowded market, gaining the admiration of house veterans The Revenge and The 6th Borough Project.
Friday’s music starts at midday. Faces showing torn signs of the night before stumble through the entrance and collapse on the open green expanse. Explosions in the Sky’s cinematic drama bellows out over the Outdoor Theatre Stage to dramatic effect. At midnight ‘the thing’ happened. But as we said, we’ll get back to that. Saturday begins early with We Were Promised Jetpacks. Edinburgh’s answer to Frightened Rabbit warbling enigmatically through the throngs, Adam Thompson’s vocals repeating chorus after chorus with an effect only heightened by the heaving Scottish accent. The overblown Borgore and the excellent A$AP Rocky smashes us through the afternoon. The evening session kickstarts with SBTRKT followed by Flying Lotus with live performance from the Brainfeeder fellow and bass virtuoso Thundercat. An evening guaranteed to leave your emotions in shreds sees The Shins, Bon Iver and Radiohead ingested fully, Radiohead in particular dutifully, unquestionably brilliant.
The evening begins with Young crafting diving-belldeep percussive blasts from a metal box. These oddly massaging pulses, irregular circadian a-rhythms, accentuate the bodily feeling of his material. One finds themselves watching the artist’s hands with intent, wondering how the casual knob-turning and miniscule tweaks of the fingers result in the deep tones that streak through the room. Though sections of the audience demand Young to play louder, harder, with more brutality, it’s his use of spatial atmospherics that excites most: close your eyes and you can track individual sounds as they are modulated and reworked. The gaps between sonic clusters are thrilling, playing as they do on the audience’s expectations of what is to follow and the performer’s obvious glee in withholding what they want. By resolutely not pandering to the clichés of live noise he produces a performance that combines the visceral with the abstractly beautiful. Forty minutes in, Young announces the end of the show. We walk out into the rain sated and happy.
Turning up at the third instalment of Cardiff ’s rapidly emerging disco/deep-house staple Studio 89, the basement is already pumping thanks to the skilful support of Charlie Tarr, unearthing rarity after rarity, notably an artfully timed Dimitri From Paris re-edit of Prince’s I Wanna Be Your Lover offering the headliner a perfect platform. Duff obliges with elegance, engineering a special kind of atmosphere, driven expertly by the undeniable sensual appeal of his classy slow-disco sound. Two particular highlights come with the carefully delayed inclusion of I Won’t Forget, arguably Duffy’s funky sun-kissed model at its finest, and Brendon P’s intoxicating Your Definition; both of which further reiterate Duff Disco’s talent to an enthralled basement crowd. Following Duff Disco, we have the pleasure of capable resident Nick Bennet whose skilful attentions continue to ensure that no one leaves early. Another triumph for Studio 89 then? It would seem so.
Words: Josh Baines
Words: Miles Taylor
Words: George Scrivener
AraabMusik’s fingers melt eardrums during a manic start to our final day. With an at times curiously quiet festival crowd, acts like Real Estate are all the more enjoyable lying down in the sun, albeit minus the jar hand; discovering that in the main area drinking is only permissible in specific pens certainly puts a downer on things, though it somehow seems to work. And as darkness draws in, DJ Shadow is a refreshing addition with bold visuals and a guest appearance from the iconic Zack de la Rocha. The festival is closed my Messrs Snoop and Dre. We knew these kings of excess would go the extra mile, and as 50 Cent, Eminem and others grace the stage, we’re already feeling pretty satisfied. Then Tupac turns up. Go figure. The hologram will easily be the most talked about thing from the weekend. Dre reportedly asked Tupac’s mothers permission and spent over four months perfecting the display. It pays off, onseers duly losing their already admittedly slightly awry minds, and this year’s Coachella will be talked about for years to come. Did we just witness a game changer? Probably, for better or worse. Before the line-up had been released, Amon Tobin live was a long-held ambition, so to see the Brazilian producer on that stunning bill caused a few stirs. A hair-raising, chin-scratching, brain-fuzzing, 50 minute audio/visual spectacle. An immersive, bass-driven orchestral symphony. From the moment Tobin takes a set behind his cubic sarcophagus it’s just perfect. Visuals flow alongside beats, subsiding and exploding to life, enchanting everyone with even the smallest capacity to enjoy electronic music. He’s touring the world now. Go and see him. As we may have mentioned, it’s the best thing we’ve ever seen.
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// the future is bright... the future is mystic
Like every beautiful flower, spring is your time to shine. You are going to blossom into the most beautiful array of colours, and even your shit will smell like lavender on a sunny day. Yay!
You’re going to smash your audition on The Voice. The only question that remains is: who do you go with? After the show they all invite you back to their respective lodgings:
This month you will come to the realisation the hose pipe ban is a Tory scheme to make gardening enthusiasts purchase Evian to water their plants. In protest you will attach a hosepipe to your urethra and douse local Tory MPs in urine. Pipe power.
Later this month you will be playing Cambodian monkey tossing in a shady alley with four strangers. What is it? It’s where you tuck a coin of low value into the foreskin, or a ping-pong ball in your lady bits, and then use your equipment to shoot said item into the air. The furthest coin or ping-pong ball wins. This is why you should always wash your hands after handling money.
This month boil up some Heinz tomato soup, poach an egg and serve it with a cold Melton Mowbray pork pie. A refreshing change.
Over the next few days you’ll be fishing some tummy fluff out of your navel, then bam; you’re naked, everyone’s naked, and you’re on the floor. It’s that super power you’ve always dreamt of you dirty curtain rustling pervert. Only downside is you are now a slowworm, a.k.a the paraplegic lizard. You’re not even a snake.
Tom Jones - Sandy and Kim’s B & B Jessie J - Slough Travelodge Will.i.am - Membury Services Toilets
This month you’ll run a marathon and everyone will think you’re an absolute hero. Which you are.
This month you will find yourself prancing around in tight green trousers. They’re not cool and they’re not clever. Why don’t you match it with a green sweater and pretend to be a frog, or The Riddler, or something else stupid.
It rains a lot in spring, but there are moments when the sun shines clearly and everyone knows it could be amazing, but it’s not and it’s your entire fault because you did that bloody rain dance when you were pissed.
You’ll basically lose your ability to speak to anyone without sounding like an 11-year-old in the school playground. Everyone will suddenly be ‘gay’ and everyone’s Mum will be up for a verbal attack – even your boss’s old dear. Be careful.
What you eat determines what you can wear. Sometimes you eat too much and those jeans don’t fit you any more, or that knitted vest shows your stomach off. Well, why not wear your food? Calamari bracelets, sea-bass neck tie, crab underpants, Clark’s Pie bra. When it comes to wearing what you want, don’t let food be the boss of you, when you can be the boss of your food.
Shit month. On your own. Probably pissed. And unemployed.
BEACH HOUSE BLOOM Sub Pop
GRAVENHURST THE GHOST IN THE DAYLIGHT Warp
When analysing the long-awaited new album by Baltimore dreamers Beach House, it’s hard not to have half your foot in their previous album Teen Dream, for highly obvious reasons. Bloom, though not a carbon copy, treads familiar ground, albeit with roughly the same aplomb. There is still the same shimmering, sparkling guitars and soothing organs that thrust them so viscerally into the limelight two years ago. The back-to-back tracks of Lazuli and Other People are lush, lamenting, ghostly moments that move and sweep you up in their majesty. But then, unfortunately, the album gets a little lost in the familiar territory those who hammered Teen Dream until it wouldn’t play anymore know all so well. Still, their ability to craft a pop song that grabs your attention and impeccable knack for making time fly by is far from diminished and it’s a trick no-one around pulls off in quite as special a manner.
Gravenhurst is hardly a household name, but if you’ve ever thought to yourself “Bristol? That’s just dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass innit?” then it’s a name you need to know. Part of a monumentally important experimental movement that emerged when Crack was a twinkle in an editor’s eye, Gravenhurst is the brainchild of Nick Talbot, a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter with a penchant for the avant-garde and all things bizarre and beautiful. Ghost In The Daylight is punctuated with the kind of psych-folk pluck you would expect to hear from midwestern America, with the delicately hypnotic Circadia (which melts a quietly haunting, meticulously constructed acoustic pattern over some vivified, swirling electronic noises) being no exception. The experimental spirit for which Talbot is really known pushes through on tracks like Carousel, a mini foray into instrumental blippery and the eerie The Foundry which is lyrically ominously introspective and profoundly personal. This one’s a slow burner folks, don’t expect too much instant gratification and don’t expect any face melters. Gravenhurst pushes back traditional pop in favour of slices
of shadowed intimacy that will stay with you for as long as you care to let them.
BB SPACEGHOSTPURRP MYSTERIOUS PHONK: CHRONICLES OF SPACEGHOSTPURRP 4AD
BEST COAST THE ONLY PLACE Wichita
Raider Klan leader and ASAP Mob member Spaceghostpurrp is a 21 year old skater, rapper and producer from Florida. He’s also the first hip-hop artist be singed to the pretty much flawless 4AD label. Mysterious Phonk is essentially a cluster of scrubbed-up tracks from his intriguing, but often-sloppy mixtape catalogue. Purrp’s beats blend the codeine-induced slur of southern chopped ‘n’ screwed hip-hop, the gothic element of early 90s hardcore rap and his own perverse interpretation of shoe-gazey cloud rap sound that’s big right now. In terms of vocal performance, Spaceghostpurrp rarely breaks a sweat, instead delivering his rhymes with a tone of deadpan menace. On Bringing the Phonk, Purrp propels the queasy, paranoid beat with a repetitive hook, but when he whispers throughout the seven minute long No Evidence, you can’t help but wish he’d emerge from his profoundly stoned condition and go a little harder. Mysterious Phonk establishes Spaceghostpurrp as a distinctive and uncompromising producer. The problem is, even though this is supposed to be a refined collection of his material, an hour of so much doom and gloom proves to be pretty hard to endure.
For a band whose divine melodies have always bubbled forth through lovely lo-fi crackle, employing noted Kanye West and Keane producer Jon Brion to clean and beef up the sound was a risky venture. The record’s opener, single and title-track is a prime exhibit, but gets away with it thanks to its adorable, hooky jaunt. So does second number Why I Cry, but only just, as no one seems to have spotted that it sounds distinctly like the track preceding it. Last Year is also enjoyable in its slacker, nodding tempo and effortless melody. But from that moment onwards, concerns come thick and fast. The polished finish of My Life lacks the requisite subtle charm to rise above ten-a-penny pop-rock balladry, as do the two songs which come in its wake. Better Girl’s smart chorus pulls us back in, as does the undeniably lovely Do You Love Me Like You Used To, but these prove an exception as the album dribbles towards an end. Would these tunes be salvaged by a less obvious finish? Sadly, probably not. The line was always a delicate one to tread, and The Only Place’s immaculately pedicured foot has plonked down off course. A blip? Let’s hope so.
LOWER DENS NOOTROPICS Ribbon Music
LOSTPROPHETS WEAPONS Epic
A generally successful marriage of krautrock’s atmospheric abstractions and classicist indie songwriting sensibility, Nootropics showcases the Baltimore fourpiece’s ability to manipulate an intentionally limited palette – in this case fluttering arpeggios, La Dusseldorf style guitar squeal and hushed, husky vocals – to their advantage, creating a record that prizes ambience over action. Comparisons to Beach House are inevitable, with both bands utilising the winning combination of organ plus vast swathes of reverb, but whereas they seem to strive for a festival-playing pseudo-intimacy, Nootropics is the sound of a band comfortable with crafting music for the bedroom-bound crowd. On occasion the pulsing motorik of tracks like Lion in Winter Pt. 2 collapses into something more akin to chug’n’plod, and the intentional drift of certain tracks loses its intent on others, but on the whole this is a finely crafted collection of cosmic-bedsit-rock (Alphabet Song), rainy day pastorals (Candy) and a la mode shoegaze (Brain). Though there’s nothing revolutionary about the album, there is something reassuring about hearing a band confident enough to work and
There you were thinking nu-metal was dead. Well, no one can stop the Prophs, especially now they have Weapons. The band came to prominence after supporting Linkin Park and having their videos puked all over Kerrang whilst wearing horrendously baggy jeans and hanging about in car parks. The first track features the band going “woah woah woah” for large portions of the song, obviously a complete departure from their avant-garde early work. The second track sees Watkins crooning, “bite that lip cause your tongue is a gun and your brain is a trigger.” When we heard it we thought, “I didn’t know Salman Rushdie had done an album!” It also features the band going “woah woah woah” a hell of a lot and is obviously a complete departure from the more avant-garde previous track. There’s also a slowie about feeling bored/misunderstood, and if you were worried that Watkins had forgotten his rapping roots then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Better Off Dead and even though it doesn’t feature a sing-a-long “woah woah woah” it’s still well Lostprophetsy and will make you want to dye your tips blonde, buy a pot of rock solid Manga hair gel,
rework stylistic predilections in detail.
and go stand on top of your local NCP in a pair of crocodile skin fuck-me boots.
RICHARD HAWLEY STANDING AT THE SKY’S EDGE Parlophone 18/20 When the Arctic Monkeys scooped the 2006 Mercury Music Prize they famously quipped, “someone ring 999, Richard Hawley’s been robbed”, suggesting Hawley should have won the award for his superb Coles Corner album. Based on this effort from Sheffield’s premier songsmith, he may have his property returned to him sooner than he thinks. Standing At The Sky’s Edge is the sound of Hawley breaking loose from the smoky, crooning wonderment of earlier recordings into something altogether more sonic and wild. The dark, husky tones that defined his sound have been covered with lashings of vocal effect and reverberation backed by eye-widening drone guitar. The eastern promise of album opener She Brings The Sunlight eases you into proceedings, but it’s the increasingly ominous tones and subject matter of second track Standing At The Sky’s Edge that really gets the blood moving. The line “they were sliding down the razor’s edge / and watched their lives slowly sinking away” proves quite categorically that Hawley isn’t pondering romantic wanderlust over a cigarette this time, as its slow paced drone hints at something otherworldly. The brilliant Don’t Stare At The Sun is probably the best example of a middle ground between crooning earlier Hawley and this new found space-rock sound, with another number that hints at subject matter incomprehensibly vast (“If I could see it all / to be lost in a galaxy of distant stars”), before the shimmering guitar solo has a good go at transporting you there. It’s beautiful, beautiful escapism. Hawley’s first record with full band thrives not least because the pomposity of the subject matter is grounded by delicate musical intricacies, and the album never loses the sense of foreboding attached to such an astral topic. So when it does eventually fall over the edge on the rushy, rocky Leave Your Body Behind You, it still manages to hold itself together wonderfully, due in no small measure to the incredible production values. An utterly triumphant change of direction.
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THE CRIBS IN THE BELLY OF THE BRAZEN BULL Wichita
Twice the Wainwright, one review.
So apparently the Jarmans have shred the glorious, spindly fretwork of Marr and reemerged as the lean punk types they once were. You’ll know about Come On Be a No One – the innately British moment of anthemic, defiant fucking amazingness which is arguably the best thing The Cribs have ever done – and the Albini-produced thumper Chi-Town, and are probably prepared to be roundly shaken up by the fulllength. But opener Glitters Like Gold prepares you for far more subtly crafted fare. It’s also brilliant, built around needling guitars and a classic Cribs chorus, building to an intense holler. Yet away from the aforementioned glimpses and the strippeddown stomp of Jaded Youth, In The Belly ... can suffer from a lack of directness. The dreamy Confident Men is underwhelming, Uptight builds to a chorus that promises more than it delivers and Pure O is ambitious but difficult to love. Later, Back To The Bolthole is patient but confidently raw and emotive and while the album ends in a four-track closing suite. Segued expertly around a series of snare rolls and embracing warm atmospherics and Cure-style guitars, it ends with the unironically-titled refrain of Arena Rock Encore with Full Cast, ending a peculiar set of superb peaks on
Out of the Game sees Jr. sublimely and accessibly on song, powerful pop-rock hooks alongside big-band arrangements commonplace. See the immaculately camp Broadway strut of Welcome to the Ball, and measured, groovy ballad Jericho, an absolute class act. Closer Candles is a compelling tribute to his late mother (and exwife to Loudon) Kate McGarrigle which descends into a moving bagpipe outro that goes some way to undoing all the damage done by that god-forsaken instrument. He’s tuned down the bombast, but the genius is going strong. Now 65, Loudon’s father died at 63, and it has him in more strikingly poignant mood than ever; as he alludes to on the staggering In C, “Here’s another song in C / With my favourite protagonist – me.” Despite the songs’ intimate nature, he makes an everyman of himself, the universal themes of mortality, age and the passing of time utterly relatable. Even comical numbers My Meds and I Remember Sex (a bizarre and enjoyable duet with ... Dame Edna) look self-deprecatingly at personal and physical decline. These are two incredible individuals making some of the finest works of their respective glittering careers. Get both, please.
OFF! OFF! Vice Records
the uplifting note for which it was intended.
GHD AUNTIE FLO FUTURE RHTHM MACHINE Huntleys And Plamers
Like musical meat and potatoes, Off! deliver exactly what you expect and are ultimately satisfying. The four elder statesmen of punk rock kick out the sort of hard jams that v-neck wearing pricks with too many tattoos and floppy haircuts will never be capable of. Keith Morris is a vocal demon with more chutzpah than your average, Dimitri Coats churns out riffs for fun and Steven Shane McDonald and Mario Rubalcaba form a punishingly tight rhythm section. Breathlessly powering through 16 tracks in as many minutes, when you sit down and listen to this record, just mull over the fact that you will never be living the Keith Morris dream of being a 56 year-old man hitting the road with some punk rockers and annihilating crowds worldwide. In fact, Keith and co were better than you decades ago and they aren’t going to stop being awesome any time soon if this record is anything to go by. All you whippersnappers should buy this record, then punch yourself in the face and try to come to terms with the fact that making a musical foray into punk rock isn’t worth
Glasgow’s Brian d’Souza, or Auntie Flo, has been busy crafting his own special brand of African influenced electronica that provides more than a special twist on afrobeat and kuduro genres. In tying these insanely percussive sounds together specifically for the dancehall, he’s managed to give brilliant life to styles you’d expect to hear at the more avant-garde end of the DJ spectrum. Think Matias Aguayo, think Villalobos and think a Four Tet DJ set, when the whole thing bends over and you become a slave to the rhythm. Taking inspiration from these strands, d’Souza commented that famous British-Ghananian writer Kodwo Eshun commented on the ‘futurhythmachine’ where he disputes the western futurist pre-occupation with noise in favour of rhythm. “Whilst I have always been interested in ‘black music’, I had less exposure to African and South American music until a few years ago, so there is still a freshness, which is really exciting. When I listen to African music I hear new rhythms, new possibilities and a glimpse into another world.” This synopsis neatly sums up this eight-track mini-album which is breaking fresh ground in introducing these beautiful pieces of afro-electronica to a new audience.
it. This is great, and your band ain’t shit.
Illustration: Lee Nutland //// www.leenutland.com
he Core Issues Trust recently booked a series of bus adverts in central London telling the world to GET OVER IT! The ‘IT’ they’re talking about is homosexuality, and they think society – gay, straight, whatever – should deal with it in the same way they approach more than a hundred years of evolutionary science. The poster reads ‘NOT GAY! EX-GAY, POST-GAY AND PROUD. GET OVER IT!’. The techniques are new, but the motivation dates back a few millennia to a dusty old book called the Bible. Curiously the website promotes an article by Lisa Severine Nolland, who weighs in on gay marriage and its hidden implications with talk of Zoos, MAPs and Polys, and an irritating habit of using her own ‘words’ in quote marks. Apparently the Trust is happy to harp back to the Old Testament to justify its latent homophobia, but ignores multiple biblical references to the place of women in the world and how they should learn in “silence and subjection”. Some 700 words aren’t quite enough to weigh in on the problem of relativism and why biblical interpretation
only helps entrench the prejudices of believers and, more importantly, any right-thinking Crack reader knows these people are idiots ...
they actually make the situation worse. Or being sat around a dinner table and hearing that homosexuality is an intrinsic moral evil.
do is ban their adverts and turn them into a maligned minority with a platform from which to further propagate their miss-led beliefs.
But how should we treat the folk at the Trust and their ill-informed ilk? Ignore them and wait until their beliefs die out like the dinosaurs they deny? Ban their adverts? Sharpen our pitchforks? Compose 140-character commentary?
And yet we invite the head of religion’s heinous PR team, the Pope, to the country and welcome him with a procession of flag-waving fanatics and a visit with the Queen.
As George Carlin said, we should promote free speech, ridicule them, worship the sun and pray to Joe Pesci.
When you go to Church it’s generally full of wellmeaning old people who do good deeds in the community and share tea, cakes and tea cakes together in their twilight years. Yet whenever a religious spokesperson gets the chance to stick their greying head over the parapet they seem vehemently intent on promoting intolerance.
---------London Mayor Boris Johnson pulled the GET OVER IT! adverts saying he wanted to avoid “a backlash so intense it would not have been in the interests of Christian people in this city”. If he’s talking about Twitter’s Feedback Loop of Rage, he’s right. Otherwise though, it would probably turn out to be just one more moment when a Christian church talks us into its own demise.
Christopher Goodfellow Twitter.com/MediaSpank mediaspank.net Send rants to email@example.com
Our left-leaning political stance not only affords them the right to say whatever they want, but has acted to stifle the well of vitriol that’s been building up in our mid-section regarding their worldview. And my God have they been wearing us down. Imagine for just a second that you were in the toilet queue at a house party and you heard someone say that condoms don’t help reduce AIDS infections, but that
This is the 20th MediaSpank column to appear in Crack and there’s a blog now too, so it’s difficult to sit on a high chair and wax lyrical about the need for maturity in public debate. However, taking the high road and just plain ignoring them (peppered with the occasional moment of outright ridicule, of course) is probably the best approach – much like the solution to the aforementioned party guest, except you might also want to ask them to leave. What you don’t want to
Crack Magazine Full Page April 2012 OUT.pdf