K F r e e
Skream | Heterotic | Mudhoney | Parquet Courts
Frankie Knuckles | Kurt Vile |Neon Neon| Heems
Ar t . M u si c . B ar n t.
SUN 26TH MAY
SOUL II SOUL / MS DYNAMITE
GHOSTPOET / CLEAN BANDIT / SAM SMITH LULU JAMES / RAINY MILO / BABYHEAD HOSTED BY SIP THE JUICE
CRACK MAGAZINE PRESENTS
TRAP MAGAZINE PRESENTS
BEN UFO / PEARSON SOUND
B.TRAITS / LIL SILVA / HACKMAN SQUAREHEAD / WALTER EGO
JACQUES GREENE LIVE EZ / MELE & SLICK DON THE EEL (EATS EVERYTHING & LUKAS) / BEN PEARCE ARTIFACT / MY NU LENG / ZIRO / FORGET ME NOT
DUTTY GIRL / TRAP DJS / MISTAFIRE
RUFFNEK DISKOTEK PRESENTS
TROJAN SOUND SYSTEM/ SOOM T
YOUNG WARRIOR/ ADAM PRESCOTT PRESENTS REGGAE ROAST NECESSARY MAYHEM / CURTIS LYNCH AND MR WILLIAMS DUB BOY & TENJA / RIDDUM TUFFA / 2 KINGS / STEVE RICE
SOUL TRAIN VS REGGAE TRAIN
SOUNDSYSTEM JAZZIE B / DJ DEREK
QUEEN BEE & MR BENN
ALL DAY PARTY
MIKE VITTI / CONROY / RICKY 2 TUFF GREG ALEXANDER / DEZZI RANKIN
CASTLE PARK, BRISTOL BS1 3XD. 11AM-11PM
£19.50 £25.00 £29.50 PLUS BOOKING FEE PLUS BOOKING FEE PLUS BOOKING FEE
SATURDAY TICKET HOLDERS GOT A SATURDAY TICKET? WE ARE OFFERING ALL EXISTING TICKET HOLDERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BUY A TICKET FOR SUNDAY AT £15.00 PLUS BOOKING FEE UP UNTIL THE END OF APRIL. VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO
Craig Richards Third Side (live) John Talabot marco Shuttle
Craig Richards matthias Tanzmann Laura Jones
Terry Francis Cari Lekebusch Joseph Capriati
The Secret Agency James Priestley Nicholas (live) BLm
Sandwell District Terry Francis Rrose (live) Room 3
Prosumer murat Dan Beaumont
Craig Richards Ricardo Villalobos Sonja moonear Vincent Lemieux Room 2
Live At Robert Johnson Roman Flügel ATA Lauer (live) Room 3
Terry Francis System of Survival fabric 68: Petre Inspirescu
Out Now. fabric 69: Sandwell District
Craig Richards move D Deetron
Craig Richards maceo Plex Huxley Room 2
Edible Eats Everything T. Williams Tom Trago (live) William Kouam Djoko
one Records The martinez Brothers Subb-An & Adam Shelton (B2B) Samu. L
Demo Terry Francis Eddie Richards Jordan Peak
15th April. fabric 70: Apollonia
Silver Network Terry Francis Silver Team (Jef K & Alex murak)
Photographer: Charlotte Bibby www.charlottebibby.co.uk Hair and Make up: Laura Wisinger Featuring: Kilo Kish For those who are cracked let the light in: Respect Charlie Balcome Irmi Decante Shaps Nina Kraviz A$AP Jay Scott Chris Halliday Riddim Tuffa Sam Mole Andy Lewis Dave Harvey
Executive Editors Thomas Frost email@example.com
Junior Editor David Reed firstname.lastname@example.org
It all started during Optimo’s Boiler Room set. The duo dropped a certain white label record, and the mystified room reacted rapturously. No one could describe it. It was a sprawling, ridiculous meeting of stripped back techno, entry-level Fisher Price keyboards ascending beyond their bounds, and a distant, nagging burglar alarm. It never dropped; it crept sideways, turned in on itself, evaporated into nothing and came back to life. And there was this ‘beep’. This ruddy bloody beep. We couldn’t resist it, it drew us in. It was Barnt’s Tunsten.
Jake Applebee email@example.com Editor Geraint Davies firstname.lastname@example.org
is aware that every month, without fail, we’ve got a new irrational obsession to report. Call it a compulsive urge, call it an addictive personality, but once we get something in our collective heads, it’s hard to let it go. Even by our standards, this one’s been a doozy.
24 22 28
It took on a life of its own. We listened to it six times in a day. That fucking beep. It owned us, it engulfed us. We used it to get us through the final stages of painstaking readthroughs. We used it to wake us up in the morning.
Marketing / Events Manager Luke Sutton email@example.com Art Direction & Design Jake Applebee Alfie Allen Staff Writers Lucie Grace
Fashion Sarah Barlow Kamilla Takacs Dorottya Nagy Peter Toth Editorial Assistant Jenny Vidler Contributors Christopher Goodfellow Tim Oxley Smith James T. Balmont Josh Baines Tom Howells Adam Corner Duncan Harrison Billy Black Alex Hall Thomas Hawkins Gwyn Thomas de Chroustchoff Emilee Jane Tombs Scott James Rich Bitt Hulio Bourgeois Darren Pearson Alastair Hardaker Daniel Cheetham Benjamin R. Haizelden Nick Johnstone Claude Barbé-Brown Selim Bulut Charlotte Bibby Lee Nutland James Wilson Crack Magazine Office 1 31 Berkeley Square Clifton Bristol BS8 1HP 0117 2391219 CRACK is published by Crack Industries Ltd Advertising To enquire about advertising and to request a media pack contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
0117 2391219 © All rights reserved. All material in Crack magazine may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of Crack Industries Ltd. Crack Magazine and its contributors cannot accept any liability for reader discontent arising from the editorial features. Crack Magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any article or material supplied for publication or to edit this material prior to publishing. Crack magazine cannot be held responsible for loss or damage to supplied materials. The opinions expressed or recommendations given in the magazine are the views of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of Crack Industries Ltd. We accept no liability for any misprints or mistakes and no responsibility can be taken for the contents of these pages.
We all went to Austria, to get away from it all. And as we gyrated to an array of involving techno jams in a log cabin on the banks of an Alpine lake, there it was. That fucking beep. It was playing. Tunsten was playing. We lost our shit. We climbed on the bar. We dangled out of the window. One of us was actually, physically sick with the excitement, like an eightyear-old at a football party. We came home. Of course we did, we had a magazine to finish. We worked hard that week, we deserved a treat. So we went to see Maceo Plex. A relaxing kick-back for the team. And there it was. The beep. The beep! We went to pieces. It was Barnt! Barnt is here! Barnt, we love you. So that’s it. Resistance is futile. You belong to Tunsten. And Tunsten belongs to Barnt. And while we try to reflect on one of the finest issues of Crack ever assembled, we can’t help but dedicate every sentence, every thought about every sentence, in its entirety, to Barnt. Beep. Geraint Davies
CraCk has been Created usIng: Jon Hopkins - Collider Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Sacrilege Mitchell Brothers - Routine Check Anja Schnieder - Addicted (Gummihz Mix) DjRUM - Arcana (Do I Need You) Barnt - Tunsten Le Grande Boofont - G-String Underbeard David Bowie - Fascination Marcus Intalex - Emergency (Dub) Television - Guiding Light Pearson Sound - Hawker Barnt - Tunsten Brandt Brauer Frick - Plastic Like Your Mother Omar-S & Ob Ignitt - Country Hill Cops Dire Straits - Lady Writer Kolsch - Goldfisch Barnt - Tunsten !!! - Get That Rhythm Right David August - For Eternity Bibio - Look at Orion! Beacon - Overseer
Barnt - Geffen Clap Rules - Re Su Rec Zion Deniro Farrarr - Just In Case The World Ends Waxahatche - Coast to Coast Kurt Vile - Breathin’ Out UGK - 3 In The Mornin’ Discodromo - Build A House (Tensnake remix) Rhye - Open Earl Sweatshirt - WOAH Barnt - Tunsten Barnt - Tunsten The Strange Boys - This Girl Taught Me A Dance Ghostface Killah - Black Jesus Cat Power - He War The Rolling Stones - Before They Make Me Run London Posse - Style Wavves - Demon To Lean On Barnt - Tunsten Television - See No Evil Low - Just Make It Stop Schlomo ft. How To Dress Well - Don’t Say No
Tyler the Creator ft. Erykah Badu + Coco O - Treehome Gesaffelstein - Control Movement Super Furry Animals - Gwreiddiau Dwfn Swans - Song For a Warrior Julio Bashmore vs Kowton - Mirror Song Benjamin Damage - Delirum Tremens Barnt - Tunsten At the Drive-In - One Armed Scissor (The Field remix) Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys - Call Thee Oh Sees - Will We Be Scared Barnt - Tunsten Mount Kimbie - Blood and Form Hyetal - The City Is Ours The Flaming Lips - The Terror Lusine - On Telegraph Husker Dü - Standing By The Sea Wampire - The Hearse EDMX’s Roller - Rink Boogaloo Mix Atoms For Peace - Amok Daughter - Shallows Barnt - Tunsten
Subject to licence
Over 100 of the world’s finest house & techno acts including :
Special Guest Richie Hawtin Weekend Camping tickets available from £115 Single Day tickets from £30 Tickets available at easternelectrics.com
Âme Anja Schneider Ata Ben UFO Blawan Brian Sanhaji Catz N Dogz Chez Damier Chris Liebing Christophe Claude VonStroke Climbers Clockwork Damian Lazarus Dave Clarke Deetron Dixon DJ Koze DJ Sneak DJ Tennis Droog Dyed Soundorom Eats Everything Ellen Allien Felix Dickinson Francesca Lombardo Futureboogie DJs Gavin Herlihy
Geddes Gerd Giles Smith Guy Gerber Heidi Huxley Infinity Ink Jackmaster James Priestley Josh Wink Joy Orbison Jozif Justin Martin Kerri Chandler Krankbrothers Kyle Hall Laura Jones Levon Vincent Luca Pilato Lukas Maceo Plex Magda Masters At Work Matt Tolfrey Matthias Tanzmann Maurice Fulton Maxxi Soundsystem Maya Jane Coles
Michael Mayer Miguel Campbell MK Moderat Nick Curly No Artificial Colours Pan-Pot PBR Streetgang Planetary Assault Systems Prosumer Ralph Lawson Raresh Robert James Richy Ahmed Roman Flügel Ryan Crosson Sasha Seth Troxler Shadow Child Soul Bros: — Soul Clap — The Martinez Brothers Spencer Subb-an Tama Sumo Theo Parrish Tommy Four Seven Waifs & Strays
3 RECORDS // CONTENTS
KILO KISH - 1 6 Dis clos u r e Latch You n g S c oot er Col um b i a Kilo Ali S how Me Lo v e FRANKIE KNUCKLES - 1 8 He rcu le s a nd L ove A ffa i r Bl i nd (Fra n kie K n u c kle s re m ix) In a ya Da y Good Fee lin ( Wh e n Lo v e Ta ke s O v e r ) DJ Pop e H app y Be in g M e N EON N EON - 2 0
CRACKMAGAZINE.NET THE BEST Of OUR WEBSITE THIS MONTH
Id oli Odb rana i p o s le d n j i d a n i Elektric ni O r g a z a m Li šce p re kriv a Lisa b o n Ton y Mc P h ee The Two Sid e s o f To n y M c P h e KU RT V I LE - 22 Ap hrod i t e’ s C h i l d Tak e Your T im e Ga r y Nu m a n The Joy Cir c u it T he F lam i ng G r oovi es Whi sk e y Wo m a n SKREAM - 2 4 Rou te 9 4 2 1 st Ce ntur y Lo v e r Ea ts Ever yt h i ng Trubb l e Ali Love Em pe ror (M a c e o P le x m ix) PARQUET COURT S - 27 Tota l Cont r ol H e ng e Be a t Bu tthole Sur fer s Locust A b o rt io n Te c h n ic ia n 13th F lo or E l eva t or s Bul l of the Wo o d s
A NJ A S C H N E I D E R A N D V I S I O NQ U E S T J O I N T H E C R A C KC A S T // This month’s pair of Crackcasts comprise a treat from one of the most revered females in German electronica Anja Schneider, and arguably the most talked-about collective in dance music, Visionquest. Schneider’s contribution draws primarily from the house family, but never loses its metallic edge, indulging in a selection of wonky tech and clinical house music. Troxler, Crosson, Reeves and Curtiss, meanwhile, have dropped us a typically smooth, engrossing and sensual session, knocked together in celebration of their Visionquest 13 tour. We’re all kinds of stoked to have such icons hopping aboard.
C AT C H I N G U P W IT H B O D D I K A / / We recently had a chat with none other than UK electronic mainstay Boddika, in the wake of his superb headline set at We Fear Silence’s fourth birthday. Having supplied some of the best party soundtracks of 2012 alone and via his Joy O collab, all the while maintaining his esteemed Nonplus label, Boddika is very much a man of the moment. Our interview was an insightful glance across his elaborately decorated time at the top, documenting the career of a man who has straddled scenes and genres with a level of success most could only dream about.
DRU M M O ND & T ICKLE - 2 8 T he As p h odel l s Love from O u t e r Sp a c e T he F a ll Bre m an Na c h t Alt e rn a t iv e Ca rter Tut t i Voi d V2 HEAM S - 3 9 Ga n gs Of Wa s s eypur H unte r Le 1f Coi ns La ku tis Too Il l For Th e La w M UD HONEY - 40 T hee Oh Sees Carr y i ng Ca lle r / Th e Dr e a m P is s ed Jea ns H oneys T he S tra ng l er s Bl ack and Wh it e HETERO T IC - 43 Dea n Bl unt The Narci s s is t II Pete S wa ns on Punk A uth o r it y Hie roglyph i c B ei ng Im ag i nar y So u n d s c a p e s
L O V E B OX L O V E - I N // The blissful Lovebox weekender has got a permanent slot in Crack’s summer calendar, and this year we’re keen to get some readers along to join the party. That’s why we’re giving away four tickets. Four! Taking over Victoria Park between the 19th-21st of July, the line-up already boasts the likes of Flying Lotus, John Talabot and DJ Harvey, and that’s before the incredibly juicy main stage acts have even been released. Just answer this thing. Who isn’t playing the Hot Creations stage at this year’s Lovebox?
C RAC K C O M PS // ... and that’s not all in the way of exchanging gentle music trivia for tickets, not by a long shot. By the time you’ve got your mitts on this here mag, the website will have welcomed a brand new Competitions tab. That’s right, we’ve got so much cool shit to give away we need an entire section of the website to support its pure philanthropical weight. So just add a /competitions to the end of the usual domain and you’ll be transported to a world where answering a question so easy it barely exists grants you access to events you’d give your little toe to go to anyway.
a) DJ Harvey b) Art Department c) Jamie Jones
Right now we’re offering two tickets to each of Neon Neon’s three feverishly-anticipated Praxis Makes Perfect release shows at the Village Underground (June 4th, 5th, 6th), as well as two tickets apiece for an array of Europe’s very best festivals: Melt! (with The Knife, Modeselektor, Ben Klock), Berlin Festival (Bjork, Blur) Exit (Atoms For Peace, Snoop Lion) and Off (My Bloody Valentine, Godspeed You! Black
Send entries to email@example.com marked ‘LOVEBOX’
Emperor). Seriously, your summer could start here.
Rach el Zef f ir a Un io n C h a p e l 9 th April
CRACK MAGAZINE PRESENT A STOP MAKING SENSE FESTIVAL BOAT PARTY
RADIO SLAVE D eadbo y C a ble 13th April
PARDON MY FRENCH
Gott wood Extrawelt (live), Ben UFO, Move D, Bicep Anglesey, Wales June 20th-23rd £95
C ra c k B oat Par t y: Stop Mak i ng Sens e Fo ssil Co llective B o rderlin e 17 th April
SUNDAY 4TH AUG
For four days this June, that little island at the tip of Wales will become home to a treat-filled electronic music and arts festival. Hidden away deep in the woods, and attracting descriptive words such as ‘mystical’, ‘boutique’ and ‘intimate’, Gottwood conjures up images of a trippy tea-party with a class-A soundtrack taking revellers through from sunset to sunrise. The line-up features a liberal sprinkle of the connoisseur’s DJs of choice – the likes of Move D, Ben UFO and the hugely respected Hamburg duo Extrawelt – and promises some seriously special moments beneath the branches.
Radio Slave, Pardon My French The Garden, Croatia August 4th £120 + BF / Boat Party £15 It’s actually happening. We’re hosting our first ever boat party in the stunning Adriatic, and we’re feeling a little smug about it. Who’re we kidding? We haven’t stopped smirking since it was confirmed. Setting off at 2pm on Sunday, we’re thrilled to be joined by the massively respected Rekids boss Radio Slave, who’ll be ensuring things remain suitably heavy beneath the scorching Croatian sunshine. He’ll be supported by our inimitable residents, Pardon My French. And don’t forget, the SMS line-up contains the likes of Dixon & Âme, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas. Get yourself a ticket, a rum based cocktail and a disposable camera.
East Ind ia Yo uth Sebrigh t Arm s 18th April
Ver o nica Falls I slin gto n Assembly Hal l 23rd April
Civ il Civic B irth days 23rd April
L a n d o f K i ngs
Carl Craig, Frankie Knuckles, Prosumer, Michael Mayer & Tobias Thomas The Garden, Croatia July 11th-15th £110
A Love From Outer Space, Darkstar, New Young Pony Club, Great Waves Dalston, London May 5th £30 Given its first four installations brought Dalston to a standstill in a blur of bespoke venues, stunning sets, interactive theatre and rooftop cinema to satisfy the most demanding creative thirst, it’s little surprise that LoK returns. It’s also no surprise early release tickets are a distant memory, with Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston’s sub-120bpm Balearic disco odyssey A Love From Outer Space, Darkstar, and showcases from Moshi Moshi and Brownswood announced among tons more. Get your ticket sharpish.
The Garden plays host to yet another electronic arts festival during the Pivo soaked summer months. This weekend sees the area transformed into the perfect combination of festival and holiday escape, the natural amphitheatre flanked by a sandy bay and crystal waters. DJs will provide a Balearic soundtrack during the day and thumping bass into the early hours, and the organisers have left nothing to chance with a seasoned line-up of big-hitters, including Carl Craig and legendary pioneer of the finest vibes, Frankie Knuckles. Check out our interview with Knuckles on page 18.
L aur e l H al o XO Y O 2 5 t h Apri l
Jo h n Ta la b o t
Village Underground 7th May
fabric 13th April
Chilly Gonz al e s Cadog an H al l 3 0t h Apri l
R e d So n ic 201 3 Red Gallery April 11th-21st £6 - £10
B er nadette Corporation: 2000 Wa ste d Y e a rs
A series of twelve concerts starting on April 11th, RedSonic First Edition 2013 fuses performance, sound installations, workshops, talks and more in a multi-faceted event in collaboration with the Birmingham Electro-Acoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST). Among the range of talents partaking in the festival is the hugely influential electronic composer and true pioneer Francois Bayle, whose two, hour-long concerts on April 19th are sure to be a highlight. A truly innovative and unique celebration of sound.
ICA March 27th - June 9th Free Entry Harking back to their early 90s genesis and providing a timeline through to the modern day, this is the first UK retrospective of the New York art group Bernadette Corporation. Emerging from their home city’s rich fashion/party culture, the collective have consistently broadened their horizons over almost two decades, both in terms of media and collaboration, though its core trio of Bernadette Van-Huy, John Kelsey and Antek Walczak have remained intact. An essential glimpse into one of the most important artistic collectives of their era.
Rica rdo V illa lobos
Ha rd T ime s p re se n ts: Le g e n d s w / T o d d y T e rr y a n d Jo e y N e g ro
L ow Barbi can 3 0t h Apri l
Cable May 4th £15-21 Following its hugely successful re-launch in London with The 3 Kings Of House, Hard Times is back at SE1’s Cable to present ‘Legends’. DJs on the night include the Brooklyn based hero Todd Terry along with fellow veteran from across the pond Joey Negro. CJ Mackintosh and Justin Berkmann, a taskforce who were involved in the Ministry of Sound’s early formation, are also among a line-up of Hard Times residents and 4/4 virtuosos.
K-X-P Corsica Studios 1st May
fabric 27th April
Th e Pl a y g ro u n d Fe st iv al
R S t e vi e M oor e Carg o 1st May
Squarepusher, Gary Numan, Booka Shade, Model 500, Lapalux Brixton Academy 7/8th June £40
Be lo w We e ke n d e r
Back once again for June 2013, The Playground Festival comes to the legendary Brixton Academy, and this line-up ain’t messing around. We’re talking genuine electronic music heavyweights across the board for two stunning days. Monster live acts like Squarepusher, Digitalism, Gary Numan, Booka Shade and Pantha Du Prince, a remarkable collection of techno originators in Model 500, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, and an embarrassment of cutting edge DJs
Phoeni x Shepherd’s Bush Empire 22nd April
Th e So ft M o o n O2 Academy Islington April 16th £15 Since its birth in 2009, Luis Vasquez’s experimental post-punk project has garnered consistent attention for its bold approach to utilising analogue sounds alongside a severe aesthetic. Last year’s second full LP Zeros displayed a personal vision creeping from Cure-esque sparkle to cold, inhuman motorik and synthesised atmospherics. Although Vasquez continues to operate alone on record, he’s formed an agile collective for Soft Moon’s live realisation. A truly exciting prospect.
Rainbow Venues, Birmingham May 4th/5th £29.50-£54.50
I ’ll Be Yo u r Mirror Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear, DJ James Murphy, The Walkmen Alexandra Palace May 4th-5th £110 ATP return to Ally Pally for a third UK I’ll Be Your Mirror event. Having entranced us all with the Portishead-curated affair of 2011, and then smashed the shit out of us last year with Slayer performing Reign In Blood in its entirety, this year the twin beacons of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Grizzly Bear have taken over a day apiece and composed a pair of remarkable line-ups. From the garage stylings of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, King Khan and the Shrines and the Black Lips, to rhythms from Nicolas Jaar, James Murphy and The Field, baroque brilliance courtesy of The Walkmen and sheer grindcore lunacy from The Locust: this selection epitomises all we love about the All Tomorrow’s Parties institution.
This May Bank holiday, promoters Below host a weekendlong birthday party across three different indoor and outdoor stages at The Rainbow complex. Below have been throwing 24 hour raves in non-commercial spaces, inspiring and influencing Birmingham’s party scene, for the last eight years. Curated by co-founders Adam Shelton and Lee McDonald, the party configures a healthy selection of musical influences from the best part of the last decade. A headline set from the celebrated Inner City (Kevin Saunderson and Paris Grey) cannot be missed, while house royalty DJ Sneak and Todd Terry also step up, alongside Saunderson’s affiliate Derrick May. With afterparties running until 5am, this is big.
P o rtico Q u a rte t KOKO 17th April
D e at h Gr i ps Forum 2 nd May
Om ar S XO Y O 3 rd May
Fut ur e boogi e XO Y O 4t h May
Juventu d Juch é Bruh Jackman We’d like to express our excitement about the latest act to join Futureboogie’s immaculate roster: Bruh Jackman, formed by Jabru and Hackman. The project began to blossom when their 2012 track Of The Sun, evocative of a party blanketed by the orange sky during a warm night’s sundown, was used to launch the Paradise Club Recordings imprint and lauded as “absolutely glorious” by Mary Anne Hobbs. Both members have stylistically diverse backgrounds and agree the project is an opportunity to explore new terrain. “The Bruh Jackman tracks are more in line with conventional house compared to our solo projects, which are fairly ‘bass music’ orientated”, they explain. “Also we seem to have delved into R’n’B territory, an area we’ve dipped our toes in but neither of us has fully explored”. This reaches its most literal realisation in their rhythmically intricate track California, featuring vocals from British newcomer Joel Culpepper. “We knew as soon as we’d written the beat it needed a proper R’n’B voice, and were sold after watching the video for Joel’s Passenger”, they tell us. “Joel loved it and came through with a killer vocal that really makes the track.” Keep an eye out for this tantalising EP, dropping this month on Futureboogie.
Even with the aid of Google Translate we couldn’t find too much info on this Madrid-based, Kim Jong II-obsessed trio. But we feel absolutely compelled to draw your attention to Juventud Juché’s recent EP, where the band smash out a thrilling hybridisation of jerky post-punk and wired garage rock over six abrasive tracks which never make it past the 1:25 mark. There’s only one guitarist in the group, but somehow he conjures up a razor sharp attack which sounds like a duel between Andy Gill and Terry Ex. Although we can’t understand the literal meaning of the chanted punkrock sloganeering on tracks like En serio, no, the sentiment feels as intense as a rubber bullet.
Do g Bite “Dog Bite combines all your hopes and dreams, fuses them with grapes and butterflies, and then lays them out on a tray with sliced oranges”. That’s a description which Phil Jones, the man behind Dog Bite, has provided about his music. Of course, it’s a load of tosh. What Dog Bite really does is submerge jangly C86 style indie-pop songs in a hazy midst of reverbed synths, while cooing naïve and heartfelt lyrics such as “I wanna go for a walk and I wanna spend all day with you”. A cynic could dismiss this as belonging to the buzz-genre-of-yesteryear ‘chillwave’. But pop a couple of co-codamol on a Sunday morning, climb back into bed and slip on Dog Bite’s Velvet Changes LP. We guarantee you’ll be charmed.
soundcloud.com/dogusbitus Tune: Gibraltar Español
Tune: Just To Keep
Tune: Supersoaker File Next To: The Ex | Wire File Next To: Wild Nothing | Small Black
File Next To: Typesun | Julio Bashmore
Vu l g a r Fa sh io n This Denton, Texas death-pop duo just dropped their debut 10” on the local imprint Handmade Birds. The self-titled release packs five tracks of punchy, ice-cold synth pop that’s like an interpretation of what’s playing in the Walkman headphones of the gothic outcast character in an 80s teen movie. At their live shows, frontwoman Kubic Zirconia has been known to smear herself with fake blood while dancing in the fog of a cheap smoke machine, as programmer Slush taps keys in the background, acting as if he doesn’t give a shit. For some, Vulgar Fashion’s incessant irony and deadpan demeanour might make it impossible to really engage with their music, but highlight Krystal Tearz is a lustful, melancholic electro song that matches some of Crystal Castles’ finest moments.
T h e Ra n g e
K evi n Ga tes After hooking up a connection with the Young Money C-lister Gudda Gudda, the Louisiana based singer/rapper Kevin Gates was shelved as a reserve artist on Lil Wayne’s imprint. But the hype about Gates boosted following a cameo on Pusha T’s Wrath of Caine mixtape, and within weeks of dropping his incredible The Lucas Brasi Story project in February, he inked a deal with Atlantic Records. With tears tattooed on his face, Kevin Gates epitomises the sensitive thug persona, fluctuating between rapped traphouse anecdotes and croaky, emotively sung choruses. Here’s an artist so engaging that he can pull off rapping from the perspective of a teenage vampire from the Twilight movies. Strongly recommended listening for those who feel Weezy’s gone completely off the boil.
The guys who run the Brighton-based record label Donky Pitch have a penchant for category-dodging, bedroom crafted bass music. Rather impressively, their imprint has put out releases by the buzz-worthy ambient hip-hop producers Friendzone and Keyboard Kid, and now they’ve welcomed Rhode Island producer The Range, who drops his Seneca EP on the label this month. The Range’s tracks are fuelled by frenetic footwork rhythms, yet he juxtaposes hyperactive percussion and double-time tempos with soft, sugary synth phrases and re-shaped, über feminine R’n’B vocal samples. An intriguing introversion of one of Chicago’s most exciting musical exports.
Ima n O ma ri Though an immensely talented singer, Iman Omari is still in the process of emerging from behind the scenes. His production credits include tracks by blogosphere star Dom Kennedy, LA hip-hop collective Overdoz’s 2012 summer hit Lauren London and a beat on Kendrick Lamar’s solid 2011 mixtape Section. 80. Omari’s beats are anchored by bassy, muffled boom-bap drum sequences and coloured with a neo-soul concoction of piano keys, strings and brass that sounds as if it’s melted under sweltering heat. Keep an eye out for his new album VIBE(rations), which should drop any time soon. soundcloud.com/imanomari
soundcloud.com/sqwal File Next To: Overdoz | Frank Ocean
twitter.com/Kevin_Gates Tune: PS3
vulgarfashion.bandcamp.com File Next To: Young Jeezy | Future
File Next To: Supreme Cuts | Lockah
Tune: Krystal Tearz Tune: Paper Chasers File Next To: Killing Joke | Crystal Castles
an ear for the avant garde sets this glasgow producer apart from the pack
W ith a little help from her gifted friends , the B rooklyn based singer -rapper finds her D IY project accelerating at a rapid pace
ÂŠ Charlotte Bibby
SITE kilo kish . com
PHOTO C h a rlo t t e B ib by
WO R D S D av i d Re e d
During an imposed hiatus from an art degree in New York, the Florida-born Kilo Kish found herself in the company of hip-hop’s most hyped agitators and trend setters. When Crack meets up with the 22 year old rhyming songstress on the night before her first European tour, we find an artist in the process of carving out her own sound, aesthetic and identity.
you have the ability to go viral. But I don’t play on any of that, it’s just the internet has worked for me because I’m different”, Kish argues. And it’s an unique quality which is key to Kilo Kish’s charm, a homegrown artist who’s doesn’t slip into rigid categories. She’s laid back yet ambitious, her look is casually glamorous and she’s not going to play up sexiness for the male gaze, but she won’t hesitate to sing about her desires either.
The honey-coloured tones of Kilo Kish (real name Lakisha Robinson)’s sound palette, a blend between jazz-tinged, NERD indebted hip-hop and the phased-out ambience of R’n’B infatuated bedroom producers, was crafted on her 2011 Homeschool EP by Syd Bennett and Matt Martians, the duo behind Odd Future’s neo-soul subgroup The Internet. On her new mixtape K+, Kilo’s sound has blossomed with SBTRKT, Earl Sweatshirt and Nick Hook (who has worked with Azealia Banks, EL-P and Nightslugs’ L-Vis 1990) all tailoring instrumentals for the project. Vocally, Kilo Kish’s style is difficult to categorise. Although she tends to reject the ‘female rapper’ tag, probably as a tactic to avoid expectations of a rapid flow or an alpha-female persona, the melted syllables of her half sung, conversational rhymes are carefully placed, and she rides a smooth rhythm that prompts a mid-paced head nod.
While Kish exudes a sense of confidence, she’s often open about her insecurities, to an extent which sometimes verges on self-deprecation. She’s an artist who’s grown up in public, and has been under the spotlight right from the beginning. Although it’s her music that’s skyrocketing her career, she’s an active visual artist, and after being shot for a Levi’s campaign, she’s gone on to model for the likes of Vogue, Adidas and Vice. “I don’t really consider myself a model, but I do gigs from time to time” she explains. “With the Levi’s job I was so nervous and shy it was just too much for me, I psyched myself out. But since my music’s been taking off, it’s been going really, really good.”
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With so many guests on the tape hailing from London, New York and LA, you’d assume that Kilo would be a practitioner of the contemporary method of collaborating – online file-swapping. It’s an efficient practice that’s eroded geographical boundaries, sure, but it’s also disenchanting and arguably undermines the excitement of a guest appearance. And Kish tells us that, in order to conjure up the right chemistry, it’s essential that she’s in physical proximity to her collaborators. “With K+, I made sure that I had everyone there in the studio. Donald (Glover, i.e Childish Gambino) was there, SBTRKT was there when we made the actual beat. It was done little by little and organically.” And while it’s the guest features of any record that may hook the attention of the Twitter-induced ADHD browser and get scooped up by a music webzine’s news feed, that 2 Chainz collaboration may not be inevitable. Kish is insistent that each collab is for artistic merit rather than the buzz generation. “I really don’t want to push any features which seemed unnatural, just because they were a bigger name or a more established producer. If it’s a meeting that’s been set up by a manager or you just think it’ll be a good look, it can go wrong. But I always try and build a relationship outside of the studio first.”
When we meet up with Kilo Kish (let’s get this out of the way – it’s pronounced ‘KeeLow Keesh’) in London, she’s sat on the sofa between two of her close friends. On her right is her DJ, the trap-loving Kitty Cash, whose cool demeanour slips for a second when, ironically, the studio’s resident kitten creeps up behind her, pounces onto her head and claws into her braids. On Kish’s left is her former flatmate J.Scott, a key figure behind the A$AP movement and DJ for the Mob at their shows. Though the trio have just arrived fresh off the plane from New York, J.Scott appears to have developed an immunity from jetlag and is eager to party tonight. His CV boasts a recent tour of almost 40 dates with A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q and the notoriously hedonistic Danny Brown. Once the Kilo Kish tour is wrapped up he’ll join Rocky for his string of dates with Rihanna.
While record label execs are still trying to negotiate their way out of the post-apocalyptic rubble of the music industry’s financial condition, the internet’s reversal of the power dynamic between artists and labels has produced exciting, if polarising, results within mainstream R’n’B and hip-hop circles. If a rapper once had to meet the approval of an A&R in order reach the ears and eyes of the public, now they’re able conjure up an international fanbase without being squeezed into stereotypes by the industry. “I don’t think 10 years ago I could have got as much of a buzz and as much press as I do now”, Kish muses. “And I would never have even had a platform to make music if it wasn’t for the internet. That’s the difference of our era, if you want to find a programme, you can probably find it for free and figure it out and work it on your own. And a lot of kids have done that in a totally Do It Yourself way and taken it to levels I don’t think anyone ever really imagined.” Since the turn of the last decade, hip-hop artists who flaunt their eccentricities have thrived. The seismic shift which occurred (and Lil B and Odd Future deserve credit here) has led the way for Danny Brown, the guy who spent years in underground purgatory and flunked a deal with G-Unit due to his skinny jeans and toothless grin, to enjoy a belated career peak. It’s come full circle. Now artists are cottoning onto the fact that if they’re going to get noticed among the saturated blogosphere, they need a quirk. Just look at Kish’s affiliates: the leather clad, ‘molly popping’ exploits of the A$AP Mob, or the kaleidoscopic aesthetics of the hallucinogenic-advocating NY group Flatbush Zombies. “If you can shock people, whether it be through sex, weirdness, or obscenity and crudeness,
This is Kilo Kish’s second ever tour and her first time overseas. At her first gig in New York, Mos Def, Theophilus London and the creator of HBO’s Girls Lena Dunham were reportedly among the crowd. “I love performing live, but it took a while for me to get into it”, she admits. “At first I was a little unsure, I’m kind of an awkward person sometimes, so for me to talk to the crowd between songs felt really weird”. But if Kish is feeling anxious onstage, it’s not noticeable from where the audience are standing. She’s a great performer, making eye contact with the front rows and handing out her mic, struggling to suppress a smile when the crowd members sing her lyrics or shout “I love you Kilo!” Apparently, that happens a lot. In earlier interviews, Kish would often insist she started making music ‘just as a joke’. But while the lo-fi tracks and grainy videos Kilo released with her buddies Smash Simmons and Mel McCloud as the pseudo-rap group KKK (it stands for Kool Kats Klub) feel like little more than a bunch of friends having fun, the overwhelming response to her music has persuaded her to drop the modesty and take things much more seriously. K+ feels like a fleshed out realisation of her formula, and an indication of some serious potential.
To coincide with the mixtape drop, Kish hosted an exhibition at New York’s Los Kabayitos Theater which blended visual art, video and music based around the project. “I saved all my notes, my drafts and my writing and the demos, because I feel that a lot of the beauty is in those mistakes and bad takes that eventually bring you to where you want to be”, she explains. “With the tape, we ended up using the rough demos along with the more polished takes and those little bits of audio of unscripted conversations. It made the tape feel close to me, to who I am.” She’s right: while K+ is a heavily collaborative project, Kish has threaded together contributions to construct her own aesthetic. The beats seem to melt seamlessly under her narration and the guest rappers – A$AP Ferg, Childish Gambino, Flatbush Zombies and Vince Staples – prop up as counterparts, secondary characters to our protagonist.
Although Lakisha Robinson moved from her home city of Orlando, Florida to New York in order to enrol in a partial scholarship at the Pratt Institute, it was during an imposed educational hiatus that the Kilo Kish project really began to take off. “I never wanted to take a year out of school, it happened because my financial aid got screwed up”, she explains. “But it turned out to be the best year of my life. I didn’t have enough money to buy expensive painting supplies and I needed to get my feelings out somehow, so that was the reason I started making music.” While juggling numerous internships, waiting tables and holding down a brief job at a cupcake stall, Kish began to network with musicians who encouraged her to utilise her natural talent. J.Scott introduced her to the then-unknown A$AP collective, and the pre-Purple Swag Rocky showed up at her Brooklyn warehouse party Whore House to perform. It was also during this time that Kish got hooked up with the Odd Future camp, after The Internet’s Matt Martian – an old friend of J.Scott from Atlanta – came to crash at her apartment for a night. “I met Matt first, then I met Syd, Hodgy Beats, Domo and everyone else later,” she tells us. “I played Matt a couple of my random songs and he was like ‘you should come to LA in the summertime’. I was like, ‘mmm alright, I’ve never been to LA and I don’t know if I’m going to go back to school yet’. So I went over, but then of course I went back to school so it took us about a year to make the EP. “That was the year that inspired me”, she continues. “I found out that I was good at a lot of things, I found out that I was good at working, I was good at living in New York, I could be good at making money and I was good at making friends. And I realised that careers could be built off of that.” As a determined, independent artist with an evolving sound, Kilo Kish’s fanbase is rapidly expanding. But what of Kilo Ali? Has the humbled Atlanta rapper who Kish took her name from lent his approval? “Nah, not yet. I follow him on Twitter, but I still don’t think he even knows I exist.” Well you’d imagine he’ll find out sooner rather than later, because it’s safe to assume this won’t be the last time Kilo Kish’s name adorns a magazine’s front cover.
K+ is available to download free now via kilokish.com
© Frankie Knuckles
one of house music ’s definitive characters , M r K nuckles still packs a punch.
SITE residentad vi sor.net/dj/frank i ekn u c kle s
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KN UCKLE S
Frankie Knuckles is far more than just one of the big players from house’s early heyday.
Readers may know that the genre was named after the Warehouse club in Chicago, and in fact the sound of the Warehouse was defined to a large degree by this man; the bumping, perspiring sound of a groove obsession that captured the frustrations and desires of a generation, and came to be known as house music. Alongside his childhood friend, the late Larry Levan, Knuckles became a hotly received presence on the New York circuit. It was Levan – himself a towering presence, and now absence, in the chronology of club dance music – who suggested Knuckles for the role of resident DJ at the Warehouse when it opened in ‘77. He took his soul and disco records and the beat-matching and percussion-heavy methods of the NY DJ scene, and things took shape. Into the 80s, the music began to adapt to the way it was played, and producers began making more use of drum machines to create and exploit the kind of grooves Frankie Knuckles was trying to isolate within old disco and soul tracks. He showcased the sound of the Southside of Chicago’s upcoming producers, in almost the first sense of the word ‘producers’ as we know it now within an underground dance music context. People like Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard, Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, and Adonis were producing the bassy, stripped back, 4x4 drum machine grooves that took Chicago by storm. The sound soon after exploded, shattering debris as far as the UK, and reverberates audibly to this day.
Frankie began producing tracks himself, under the tutelage of Chip-E, with underground club swelterers like Your Love and Baby Wants to Ride, alongside vocalist Jamie Principle; records that have never left some DJs’ crates. Towards the end of the 80s house music became a language that everyone wanted to speak. Frankie moved back to New York, as Chicago was going overground, and alongside David Morales formed Def Mix Productions, producing a string of remixes for the likes of Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan and En Vogue. The early 90s saw him achieve major label contracts for his own productions. After 15 years in the game, he was producing some of the most vital and enduring music of his career: see The Whistle Song, a New York party classic through and through. Knuckles has stated he always thought of what he did as creating ‘a poor man’s paradise on the dancefloor’. Through the decades, even in the face of enormous adversity, he hasn’t ever stopped, with a recent remix of Hercules and Love Affair hitting that same sweet spot, to rapturous and, possibly, quite surprised applause. His place in the thick of today’s dance music scene is further confirmed by an appearance on the circuit this summer in Croatia – seemingly the Ibiza of this generation’s clubbers – at Electric Elephant festival.
Hi Frankie, how’s life? Life is good. No complaints. I’ve been busy in the studio keeping late hours, completing production on several projects for various artists to have ready for WMC (Winter Music Conference, held in Miami). You’ve been touring all over the world in the last couple of months, have you had any memorable experiences? Lots of travel, yes. Great events! No memorable experiences, just great times with great people.
You’ve been in the game longer than most, how would you rate being an international DJ and producer in terms of job satisfaction, after all this time? What keeps you going?
Chicago house has been hitting the buttons of a totally different generation in the last couple of years, have you seen this kind of resurgence happen before?
I’d rate my position in the business pretty high. The music keeps me going. Music is everything to me. I sleep, eat, drink and breathe music 24 hours a day.
No I can’t say that I have. But I think it’s about time that it happened. Everything that goes around comes back around. Every few years or so a new generation discovers house music. New artists, DJs and tunes are developed and the nostalgia hunt begins. There’s lots of disposable music in club music, especially house music. But there are a handful of us DJ/ producers that are continuing to produce quality, memorable tracks and songs that will live on for generations to come.
Between touring the world, winning Grammys, mixing live on national television, and being officially honoured by your home city, you must be starting to feel like you’ve done it all. What do you still want to achieve? Grammys? I’ve only got one, and it’s the most important one. Because of the nature of how business is done these day, holding down a residency in one place is almost impossible. So, being mobile moving around the globe is essential to my work. I know I’ve achieved a lot over the years but that’s not the reason I do what I do. Music is such an essential part of my every existence. It’s a beautiful beast that has a healthy appetite that I have no problem feeding. In Chicago in the 80s you were part of a new scene that had no precedents. Can you imagine how it must feel for someone trying to come up as a producer now, given the huge history of dance music that now exists? Do you have any advice? Back in the 80s everything was new and undiscovered. Groundwork was being laid, but I don’t think any of my contemporaries were conscious of it. We were all dedicated to the music and remaining steadfast to it. House music came out of the natural order of things at the time. Never in the history of popular music had a genre been killed off like disco. But since the development and recognition of house music, not so much in the USA as in the UK, with technology making DJ culture a new reality in this business, it seems to me that all the new, young, up and coming guys that are trying to break in the business are more focused on reinventing the wheel than concentrating on the quality of their work. I have no advice to pass along. If what I do musically inspires the next generation, I’m here and available to anyone that has a question. But to those that are too busy focusing on creating the next big thing, good luck! You performed on TV for Channel 4’s House Party in the UK last year, which was possibly a milestone for the combination of mainstream and dance music culture – how did that feel?
How does it feel performing alongside people like 808 State at events like the recent Hacienda 30 night? Do these relics of the golden age, such as the now defunct Hacienda, still hold any magic? ‘Relics Of The Golden Age’? That’s funny and sad at the same time. Playing on all the events over the past year forced me to stop and look around at all of the DJs and artist I’ve grown up with in the UK. All of us looking a bit weathered, some are Dads and Granddads. Then I look out in the room at the audiences we’re playing for and I’m left with this feeling of ‘Wow! I never dreamed of lasting this long in this business’. Someone compared me and my contemporaries to the likes of The Rolling Stones, being the seniors in the business. ‘Relics’? OK. But still I continue to create new music and do my part to keep it fresh and not trendy. You remixed some truly iconic divas back in the day: Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Janet Jackson. Do any of today’s singers stand close? Is there anyone you’d like to work with? Beyoncé is perhaps the only one. Her showmanship is beyond measure. But I also work with a lot of session singers like Nicki Richards who backs Madonna on her world tours. These artist are the work horses, the backbones and keepers of the flame when it comes to what make this music so special. I was very fortunate to work with all these giants in the business. I’ve learned a lot from all of them. Any forthcoming projects your fans should keep their eyes peeled for? Just keep an eye on Director’s Cut. We’re working hard to bring quality dance music back to the forefront of this business.
When I was first approached about it I thought it was odd. And the closer we got to the event I began to get a bit depressed about it. Being locked in a studio on New Year’s Eve in London when I would normally be in the warmth of Australia left me feeling a bit deflated. But then one of the producers said to me at soundcheck, “Can you imagine? You’re going to be in everyone’s living room at the stroke of midnight when the new year comes in”. I really hadn’t thought about it that way. And for the rest of the day the thought of playing to all of England bringing in the new year began to excite me. Excite me no end, I began to get a bit nervous. But by the time I got in the booth and started playing any fear I had was gone. I was in heaven. Only downside, one hour wasn’t enough. I’m so glad Channel 4 asked me to be a part of this groundbreaking event.
Lastly, you’re playing Electric Elephant in Croatia and London’s Lovebox this summer. What are you looking forward to about those shows, will you be approaching your sets differently?
It feels recently like the USA has finally embraced so-called EDM, or dance music, as it used to be known, as a mainstream entertainment, many years after its inception. Does this feel good, or has it all happened too late? Is the ‘EDM’ scene in the USA a good reflection of what you love?
Catch Frankie Knuckles at Electric Elephant Festival, Croatia, July 11th-15th and Lovebox, Victoria Park, London, July 19th-21st.
No, it’s not a good reflection of what I love. But I guess it’s what’s working for middle America right now. I could go on about the industry here in the States and how behind it is but really, who cares at the end of the day?
I’m only one man. I only know how to be one man, Frankie Knuckles. I don’t know what to expect playing those events, but a very important man once told me, “Never preconceive anything and you’ll never be disappointed”.
Flitting between the oddball and the mirrorball, Neon N eon â€™s second full- length brings the life of a mid -20th century Italian communist into gleaming focus .
DATES M ay 2 - 5 t h | S e c r e t L oc at i on , C ar d i f f M ay 2 3 r d | M ot i on , B r i s t ol J u n e 4 t h - 6 t h | V i l l ag e U n d e r g r ou n d , L on d on
SITE n eo nn eo noffi ci al .tum b l r.com
“Art always serves beauty, and beauty is the joy of possessing form, and form is the key to organic life since no living thing can exist without it.” So reads one of countless stunning passages from Max Hayward and Manya Harari’s translation of Boris Pasternak’s remarkable revolutionary love story Dr. Zhivago. One of the great novels of the 20th century, the name of Pasternak and the tale’s eponymous protagonist are frequently-acknowledged figureheads in modern literature. But one individual rarely given his dues for the role played in bringing this work to the wider world is Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. The Italian publisher and left-wing activist helped smuggle the manuscript from Pasternak’s home country against the behest of a Russian government who had no intention of allowing such a critical document to reach a wider audience, publishing the work in 1957. Feltrinelli’s story is one of highs and lows, of incredible achievement, but also of some intriguingly shady behaviour, and is now being immortalised in the unlikely form of an 80s-indebted synth-pop concept album.
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address the disparity, as Bryan reveals. “The majority of this story was set in the 50s and 60s, but we’re reflecting on it from an 80s perspective. But we will be releasing an EP of material that steps outside our typical sound and format, documenting the heavier years of Feltrinelli’s life, which we’ll be calling the Years of Lead EP. It will be quite a departure.” Whilst the duo may be looking ahead to the aftermath of the album, something monumental awaits in the nearer future. In a startlingly bold move, the album will be presented in the coming months via a unique meeting of live music and interactive theatre, at a secret location in Cardiff, Bristol’s Motion warehouse club, and London’s Village Underground. Working alongside National Theatre Wales and the playwright Tim Price, the closely-guarded production invites a plethora of questions. “I met up with National Theatre Wales a while back after doing music for a theatre piece by (Turner Prize nominated artist) Phil Collins” relays Gruff. “I mentioned that we had this idea about Feltrinelli and I met with Tim Price. It became apparent Tim would embrace the Feltrinelli subject matter like no one else. He’s a very energetic guy and brought a real enthusiasm to making it a kind of interactive concert. Initially one of my worries was making something that was too rock opera, y’know, but I think it’s going to be a very different experience, very engaging for the audience.” Gruff is also quick to acknowledge that these shows may push himself and Bryan to new levels as musicians and performers. “It’s going to be very different to anything we’ve been
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is fun to think about, but there’s no way this could really happen, right?’” He audibly grins. “But the craziest thing is that this stuff is actually happening! We’re hearing all these things the theatre’s developing and it’s just mind-blowing.” As Neon Neon became increasingly immersed in the album’s intensely layered backstory, their ability to maintain the levity of 80s pop music throughout Praxis Makes Perfect becomes more impressive still. It’s easy to get lost in a web of contexts and forget the irresistible melodies and glittering keyboard trills that make Neon Neon such insanely good fun to listen to. “We didn’t want to make an earnest protest record” Gruff stresses. “Feltrinelli was a very contradictory man, and I think making a glossy, melodramatic record seemed more apt, in a way.” It’s fascinating to see a man like Gruff, a politicised Welshman, embrace the projected glitz of the 80s in this way, considering the version of that decade in which he grew up was a period of great social unrest. “I agree completely” he says. “In the 1980s as a teenager I was listening to The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, Big Black, the raw end of it. Maybe I’m now able to revisit those kind of melodramatic sounds without the pain!”
A project of such eccentricity and ambition would be doomed to fail, were it not placed in truly accomplished hands. But Neon Neon, the In terms of capturing the more mainstream sounds of that period, collaboration between Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys Boom Bip speaks with considerable authority. “We don’t want Neon and acclaimed US electro hip-hop producer Boom Bip (aka Bryan Neon to sound like us, to sound like our solo work, so we made a very Hollon) are probably the only band who stand a chance. Their 2008 conscious decision to steer clear of thinking debut Stainless Style brought the barelyabout modern music. We developed this believable life story of car-design playboy obsession with old synthesisers and drum John DeLorean vividly to life through machines.” In that respect, he sees a clear irresistible melody, synth flourishes and distinction between this record and their first. “We were going for a re-imagining of unexpected guest appearances, and the “The last record had more contemporary follow up, with the similarly puntastic title elements whereas with this one the story, Feltrinelli’s life looking back from of Praxis Makes Perfect, is a further, even the ideas and the flow seemed like it should more lucid slice of oddball/discoball biopop. be more focused and stripped down.” When the golden age of the video jukebox In the space of barely half an hour the tale discussing these technical, stylistic elements, of the incomparable Feltrinelli is addressed his voice becomes enthused. “One synth I in bubbly yet deeply informative nature, . . . W h at w e e n d e d u p w i t h wa s t h i s really focused on using, which was a massive from his publishing credits (which also part of late 80s/early 90s music – you could include Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s basically hear it on every pop record of that c o m m u n i s t E u r o p o p. ” The Leopard and Henry Miller’s Tropic of time – was the Roland D-50, and that became Cancer, previously banned under obscenity the centrepiece for the tone of the album, laws) to befriending Fidel Castro (surmised along with the older Korg analogue synths. in the synthetic calypso Hoops with Fidel) and the highly dubious involved in, and hopefully people will leave with a lot of ideas planted It’s important to limit yourself to certain instruments and techniques. I circumstances surrounding his death. in their heads politically. Sonically it’s going to be very extreme. We’ve admire that minimal mid-80s sound that people like Shep Pettibone were got a friend, Michael, doing the sound design, and he did the first run using at the time. They kept it very simple and very ... chunky.” We speak to the duo via a conference call, one in Cardiff, the other of My Bloody Valentine comeback shows at the Roundhouse, which was LA. Yet while this disparate geography and cultural context may have probably the loudest PA ever put together!” It’s far too reductive to look at this dynamic purely as Boom Bip providing manifested itself in their debut – with its abrupt divulgences into upthe instrumental tones, and laying the more profound conceptual ideas front hip-hop via guest appearances from Har Mar Superstar and The idea of imparting political and contextual ideas is important to Neon and melodies at Gruff Rhys’s door. There’s a far more collaborative Spank Rock – Praxis Makes Perfect presents a more cohesive whole. Neon, and is certainly effective. Research into the figures on which they nature at play. Their respective catalogues show Boom Bip as a producer It’s the result of a conscious effort to overcome locational hurdles, as base their records can lead you down a seemingly endless wormhole who utilises played instrumentation and a sense of song structure at well as possessing a concrete reference text in the form of Senior Service, of information and anecdotes. It’s fascinating to take part in such an a level far beyond many of his peers, while tracks such as Slowlife, No the biography written by Feltrinelli’s son, Carlo. “I think it feels very interactive relationship between pop music and history. “I’d encourage Sympathy or the last 10 minutes of most Super Furry Animals shows cohesive”, states Bryan. “On Stainless Style we had our subject and our it”, reflects Gruff, “particularly with Feltrinelli. Because he published so make it clear Gruff is more than at home with the experimental and concept which held it all together, but we also had these diversions. For many incredible books, and the world you can find yourself in when it technically savvy aspects of electronic creation. Hearing Boom Bip discuss this album the ideas were very focused and the development of the songs comes to his legacy is indefinite. Obviously as a man and a revolutionary the circumstances of Feltrinelli’s death, meanwhile, leaves us in no doubt followed on from that. It feels very well-rounded.” He continues, “For he was very contradictory, and he came from an era of violence, as to his investment in the historical elements. this record we really made a point to be in the same room together. We which can be problematic. But as a publisher he was a character of spent time recording ideas at a house in the Welsh countryside and then real inspiration.” And it’s fascinating, during technical difficulties (when we can hear brought them to California to bring some close friends and musicians them, but they can’t hear us) to observe this seemingly contrary pairing, into that room.” Gruff is quick to allocate credit to Bryan. “One of the A key part of the Praxis Makes Perfect process – in terms of gathering the odd couple of alternative pop, bouncing off each other as they discuss things I enjoy about working with Bryan is that he pinpoints sound very information, recording, and forming the basis of these spectacular a passion for Yugoslavian post-punk, or as Bryan peers from his window well, he’ll suggest a certain keyboard to become a dominant sound and release shows – was a fact finding mission to Italy, consisting of Gruff, and laughs while describing a postman dressed in full safari suit. Gruff, he’ll be very disciplined in that respect. My solo records tend to be very Bryan and Tim Price. “There were many reasons” explains Gruff. “We whose statements throughout our conversation have been punctuated eclectic, and I really appreciate that discipline.” wanted to record some people in Italy, so we recorded Asia Argento by aching, pregnant pauses, seems breezy and comfortable. When you’re doing dialogue and Sabrina Salerno (Italian TV presenter, actress pitting an LA beatsmith alongside a Pembrokeshire-born psychedelic Yet the album also accepts a separation between musical style and the and singer) and we contacted the family, because they still run the songwriter, and the intricate backstory of an Italian revolutionary narrative at its core. While Stainless Style had a clear common aesthetic, Giangiacomo Foundation in Milan.” There the trip took an extraordinary publisher against a pop sound so audacious it would make Gloria where the songs reflected the gloss of the concept, and the highly-stylised turn. “We went to their library and got to handle the original manuscript Estefan blush, such juxtapositions become par for the course. artwork fed directly into that, the duo are quick to acknowledge the of Dr. Zhivago, handwritten, and letters between Marx and Engels, detachment between this album’s melodramatic, synth-heavy tones and and an original copy of The Communist Manifesto! It was a really its rather more severe subject. “It’s always a surprise how things turn inspirational time.” ----------out” reflects Gruff. “In this instance we were going for a re-imagining of Feltrinelli’s life looking back from the golden age of the video jukebox, so Bryan was also strongly affected by the excursion, particularly in the way there was a particular musical detachment from the subject. What we it has informed the Praxis Makes Perfect live shows. “Tim would just Praxis Makes Perfect is released on April 29th via Lex Records. ended up with was this communist Europop.” There are plans afoot to come up with all these brilliant, crazy ideas, and in a way I thought ‘this
K U RT VI LE with an abundance of tales gathered on the road , the philadelphian troubadour returns with his finest album yet.
ÂŠ Nico Stinghe & Park Bennet ÂŠ Charlotte Bibby
W ORD S Da vid R eed
TUN E Go ldto n e
SITE ku rtvile. c om
DATE F ield Day, M a y 25th
In a desolate space besides a train track in Philadelphia, there’s a huge mural on a crumbling wall with Kurt Vile’s name on it. It was created by the streetwise veteran graffiti artist ESPO, aka Steve Powers, whose vibrant depictions are the perfect visual representation of Vile’s beautiful new album Wakin On A Pretty Daze. It’s been two years since Vile released his last LP, Smoke Ring For My Halo. Following the unprecedented success of that record, Kurt Vile’s style of bittersweet, leftfield Americana has taken him all over globe on an incessant touring schedule. And it’s a life on the road that Kurt Vile reflects on within his music. Structurally, his songs steadily drift towards an uncertain destination, and when he’s hunched over, intricately finger picking three of four chords, he narrates the misadventures and sharp wisecracks he’s had along the way while spilling out poignant pearls of wisdom that sound like they were scribbled on a napkin following a drunken 3am epiphany. You could make a strong case that Wakin On A Pretty Daze is Kurt Vile’s best album to date. While Vile’s earlier recordings, especially the dusty lo-fi recordings collected on his brilliant 2008 debut Constant Hitmaker, sound like the work of a solitary chain-smoking insomniac, Wakin On A Pretty Daze showcases a warmer, more fleshed-out direction that immediately engulfs the listener with the album’s sincerely optimistic opener. And while the charm of Vile’s songs is still slow-burning, Shame Chamber and Girl Called Alex showcase his most immediate songwriting to date, underlined with little fragments of melody which will burrow into your ears if you’re inclined to pay enough attention. It’s regularly noted that Kurt Vile’s music evokes the rugged sense of pride championed by Americana legends such as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. His sound would fit within the mid-space of a Venn diagram composed of canonical rock n’ roll and the avant-garde foundations of US indie. And as a teenager of the 90s, Kurt Vile became infatuated with Beck, Pavement, Sonic Youth and the artists on the Drag City roster. It just so happens that Vile’s been lucky enough to jam with some of his biggest inspirations; legends such as Thurston Moore, J Mascis and the seemingly indestructible Jennifer Herrema of the infamously wild noise-rockers Royal Trux, who’ve now morphed into Black Bananas. When we meet up with Kurt in London he’s at the tail end of a gruelling press run and understandably exhausted. But fortunately, he’s still full of energy (‘I wanna go out raging tonight, are there any bars round here you’d recommend?’, he inquires, as a smirk peers from the lengthy curtains of his thick hair) and, though he’s a little spiky, is every bit the friendly dude we’d imagined him to be.
So firstly we’d like to ask you about the artwork of the new album. What’s the story behind that mural?
PHOTO C h a rlo tte Bi bb y
It’s really very much a Steve Powers piece, it’s just that I happen to be the subject matter of it. He actually contacted me about something else originally, but we came up with the idea of him creating icons from the song titles and painting interpretations of my lyrics on this huge wall. He’s been around for a long time, but he’s still really blowing up. Like, he gets flown all over the world to paint. It’s awesome. You’re a relatively prolific artist, but as a listener it feels as if there’s been something of a gap between this new album and Smoke Ring For My Halo. I guess there’s been a gap because we’ve been touring a lot, probably because of how well the last record went. But at the same time, I came back with what’s pretty much a double album. So you could say that I’ve been able to coast off Smoke Ring ... for two years, but I was kinda eager to get back into the studio the whole time. You toured with Black Bananas, which must have been a crazy experience for you as you’ve been a massive Royal Trux for a long time, right? Yeah, it was really fun playing with those guys. I mean, Jennifer’s a sweetheart. You could think she’s crazy, but I like being around people who are a little crazy, y’know? And all her band are really awesome guys. I had a man crush on their guitarist Brian (Mckinley) for while. He’s such a great player and he shreds on this snakeskin patterned guitar. You guys recorded a cover of The Rolling Stones’ Before They Make Me Run together, how did that come about? The idea came after I’d done a couple of shows with Jennifer. Our tour manager just happened to be playing the Some Girls album, and when I heard Before They Make Me Run I was like ‘Oh yeah, I love this one!’ I could imagine singing it with Jennifer, so I said “next time I come through we’re recording this song”, and she was like, ‘Alrrriiiiight!’ You’ve built a relationship with a number of artists you’re a major fan of. You’ve worked alongside J. from Dinosaur Jr and you’re friends with the Sonic Youth guys. It seems like you’ve been very fortunate in that respect …
It must be pretty surreal to jam with your influences, didn’t you see Sonic Youth when you were a teenager? Yeah when I was, like, 15, I went to the Lollapalooza where Sonic Youth, Pavement and Beck played. I love 90s Beck, and Pavement were actually my number one favourite band at the time. That was my introduction to Sonic Youth. It was awesome. But looking back, I remember that they played The Diamond Sea but it was so loud and it was so hot that day ... to be truthful, I didn’t really get it at first, I think this happens with a lot of teenagers. But I got into it very quickly after that, I got Dirty and then I got the Washing Machine album which has The Diamond Sea on there, and that’s when it hit me hard. We’d like to talk more about the new album: this one sounds very bright and very human. Especially in comparison to your earlier stuff, which feels really solitary. Did you intend for the new album to sound this way? I mean, I guess I did want it to be like that. Ultimately, I did want it to sound colourful, so that’s another reason why I’m so stoked about the album cover. It’s like the opposite to the last record, which is kind of bleak! In terms of the way your music has progressed, it seems you made a transition from more lo-fi recording to a clearer sound when you signed to Matador. Well actually, with the first record for Matador, Childish Prodigy, I actually had the whole record done before I signed with them, except for the song He’s Alright. But yeah, I guess I’ve expanded in general, and I took the logical step of getting a proper producer. And there was growing pains with that. The new album is very collaborative, isn’t it? Well the credits kinda look like a long laundry list of shoutouts. I had Jeremy (Earl, singer of Woods and founder of the Woodsist label) come along and play drums on a bunch of songs, but we didn’t actually end up using his drum parts ‘cause they were really early versions of the songs. But he did end up playing percussion on the Goldtone song, Emily from Warpaint sang back up on that song and Jennifer sang back up on Too Hard. So I had friends coming in and they were very helpful, but they had very specific roles to play. Do you feel as if this is your best record? Yeah, I think it’s my best record. Like, sometimes I want to write these classic pop songs, y’know, a song like Jesus Fever from the last record? And my idea for this album was to make songs like that, but make them longer and kinda hypnotic. We’d like to talk about the lyrics on the new record, but do you feel weird when people ask you about your lyrics? Nah, it’s cool. Although sometimes people try and ask me what the literal meaning is of a song and it’s sorta awkward. And sometimes you get younger journalists who don’t have much tact ... but go ahead, we’ll see how it goes! On the new album there seems to be a lot of songs directed towards someone, and it’s like there’s this recurring theme of wanting to maintain an emotional bond with someone you’re physically distant from. Yeah, totally. Most of the songs on the record are about that. You know, I’d be gone for a long time then I’d be back. On the road, I had that huge yearning feeling and I wanted to get that message across. And when I’d be back in the studio, I’d be busting my ass to try and get that down. When you speak about songs you love, you seem to really value sincerity, purity and truthfulness. When you write, do you try and be directly sincere and not think about it too much, or is there sometimes a little tongue-in-cheek irony in there? Well I think that my music is always sincere. But with the way the world is, you gotta maybe have some dark humour in there to turn things around, know what I mean? Even with a song like Too Hard there’s that line which goes “what about those who are fathers and, what about their daughters? / I will promise to do my very best, to do my duty for God and my country, hey but I’m just human after all”, so you know, I’m try’na be totally sincere. There’s truth in the centre of it, but there’s jokes in there too. It’s like when you’re with one of your closest friends and things are starting to get serious, you’ve gotta throw a few little insults at each other!
Wakin On A Pretty Daze in available on April 8th via Matador. Totally.
In the hazy morning glow of an afterparty at last summer’s Hideout Festival on the Croatian coast, Crack is being charmed to pieces by the unlikely figure of Oliver Jones, aka Skream.
So had the tracks that appear on this compilation been informing your listening for a while then? This cross section of contemporary house.
He’s making new friends, smoking fags, smoking our fags, and wandering around with a smile reflective of someone who’s been immersing himself in a group of people with whom he feels at ease. These people weren’t perhaps the usual dubstep cohorts with whom you’d associate him. Seen in conversation with the likes of Crosstown Rebels boss Damian Lazarus, this meeting is an open door to a world Skream is now exploring with gusto.
Yeah, definitely. I’ve been a fan of house music since I was working in a record shop when I was 15. House isn’t a new thing in my life, it’s just the current sound I’m into is that real bass-heavy Midland, Dusky sort of stuff. It’s a new thing for some people to hear me playing it, but anybody who has been coming to my shows over the course of the last year will have noticed there’s a lot more house in my sets than usual. That was kind of the idea behind the Skreamizm tour. Most of the music I’m enjoying that people send me is the house/techno/disco side of things really. People will be more familiar with my love of disco, but for me it all falls into one.
You’ve got a little ’un now, how do you juggle the work/family balance? Is it tricky with so many late nights and early mornings? It’s more stressful as you get older. I try and curb the long-haul tours to one a year. I’m in America for SXSW and Miami, and it’s hard. I don’t see him as much as I’d like to, but it’s one of those things he’ll understand when he’s older. It’s the way of the world and you have to earn your crust. No matter what way you look at it, if you party or if you don’t, it’s still a fucking great job.
Fast-forward to the present. By the time you’ve read this, Skream will have completed a transitional phase in his career in which he will had played the legendary Crosstown Rebels Miami all-dayer Get Lost, curated a day/night party at XOYO and his own Skreamizm night at Warehouse Project, and finally, released a 2013 retrospective for Pete Tong’s annual All Gone…Miami compilation. The tracklist of said compilation showcases that, far removed from the bassy leanings with which he’s best associated, Skream is listening to house. Lots of really good house. Cuts from Maya Jane Coles, Solomun and Maceo Plex inform a double disc that also contains a couple of his own efforts, namely a remix of Infinity Ink’s Infinity and his own Rollercoaster production with Sam Frank.
The story of Ollie Jones is definitely one of the most overplayed and consistently quoted in electronic music folklore, but for those at the back ... having bunked school in Croydon to work in the Big Apple record store, he started making music at 15 and was widely credited along with numerous other luminaries (Hatcha, Kode9, Youngsta, Mala, Coki) as being one of the early creators and developers of dubstep. Both the FWD>> night at Plastic People and the showcasing of the sound on Mary Anne Hobbs’s Radio 1 show allowed the freedom for Skream’s own productions as well as his DJing to flourish. It was in this 20012003 period where Skream’s burgeoning relationship with kindred spirit Benga began to flourish. After penning the genre’s biggest crossover ‘hit’ in 2005 with Midnight Request Line and then starting his regular Skreamizm compilations – essentially a retrospective best of his prolific production output year upon year – he became the most in-demand dubstep producer of his generation, commanding headline slots and festival appearances. When the sound which he helped coin emerged from the underground in such a capacity that one of Crack’s Northumberland-based parents was buying their son dubstep compilations, Skream spied the chart potential of the genre’s emergence and developed the live Magnetic Man project with Benga and Artwork, thus introducing a melodic form of dubstep to a new, younger audience. It was a divisive move which split fans down the middle, though it undeniably maintained his lofty position at the top of the game. But that game had changed and morphed. With Skream’s DJ sets becoming increasingly interspersed with garage and house textures, the preeminent approach in dubstep was becoming the rather garish, less dub-influenced, mid-range brostep sound. A decade on, and the term ‘dubstep’ has moved far beyond the sound early Skream productions helped conceive in what was arguably one of the most exciting musical movements of recent years. There is a growing maturity in Jones, beyond the party-boy image that may have come with finding success at such a ludicrously young age. The fact Skream is still 26 reflects the electronic music equivalent of breaking into the Manchester United first team at 17. He’s a veteran in a young man’s shoes. Having made such an indelible mark on one area of music, his move into another has been earned. While sceptics will naturally label it bandwagon jumping, this is a producer whose seemingly limitless production output has included two solo albums as well as a regular stream of EPs and singles. Having earned so many stripes, such musical development seems only natural. In a refreshingly frank conversation, Crack’s time with Skream touches on his change in musical focus, the dubstep scene’s growth, how being a decent sort will get you everywhere, and how Skrillex is far from bad. All this from the comfort of his Croydon home.
Firstly let’s talk about the mix CD you’ve produced for Pete Tong’s annual Miami compilation. It’s impossible to look at the track listing on that CD without mentioning the change in direction. How did that mix come about? Pete asked me to do a house remix of Infinity Ink’s Infinity, which was obviously massive last year, and I jumped at the chance. So I finished the remix and then he hooked me up via text asking how I would feel about doing a compilation. I thought ‘fuck it, yeah!’
We’ve seen you play disco at various places including very early in the morning at Hideout and at Glastonbury. It seemed like a bit of a part-time hobby, but that appears to have become more important to you as time has gone on. Musically, it’s so far away from what I was producing it took a long time to get to the point where I felt I could start making that sort of stuff. Especially in regards to disco, it’s a lot more complex music. I’ve always tried to make it, but I’ve never been confident enough to show it to people, as there is such a high bar. It’s not just something you just can knock together. It’s the same with the house stuff really. I’ve been making it undercover for about three years. I’m getting sent so much more house music now compared to the dubstep stuff I was getting sent. 10 out of every 15 tracks are really good and playable. There’s more music coming into my inbox in the 115-130bpm range than anything else. Do you think that’s because institutions like Rinse are now playing loads more house and bringing it to the wider attention of the kids?
I think that’s more down to a popularity thing. In general I think there’s been a massive shift in the last year. I can only speak for myself, but it seems everything has just slowed down. So have people been supportive of your change? People like Eats Everything and Damian Lazarus, who are pretty ‘up there’ people, have been really accepting of my change. I thought that would be the hardest thing, but I’ve been getting nods from pioneers. That’s one bit of it I’ve been really happy about. Even though I’m new on this ladder, getting booked for things like Get Lost is amazing and very humbling. You’ve just spent some time in the studio with Eats Everything haven’t you? Was that productive time or just hanging out as friends?
We wanted to ask about dubstep in a wider context. In a genre which was so fiercely protective of itself, it’s intriguing to see how the music has taken on its own life and changed from how it was initially conceived. Do you look at it with any nostalgia, or do you wish someone would come up with a more current or perhaps more credible twist on the genre? Nah, nah, nah. It’s just progressing, innit? It happens. Things change. I know a lot of people who are bitter about how the scene has changed, but then I reckon there are also a lot of people who are pissed off with it because they didn’t move with the times. Ultimately you can do that, but you end up staying in that place. It wasn’t our ball anymore, because loads of people wanted to come and play with it. I don’t regret how it went. If it didn’t go how it did, then the world at large wouldn’t know the word dubstep as they do today. That’s what we worked at for years, to get to the point where we were playing to rooms of 6,000 people instead of 20. We wanted it to get bigger, we didn’t want to just play to 100 people every week, else DMZ would never have gone upstairs at Mass when it did. There are also still people doing that sound and are massively successful, like Mala, who is a God to most people into dubstep. So what happened to it then? It changed. The biggest thing that fucked it up was how everyone who jumped on it raped it. People who say they didn’t – they did. That was such a shame. It was at the time when the internet had got bigger and it was a prime example of forums and Soundclouds being used to build the thing up. The difference before was that loads of people might have been able to make it, but it was harder to actually hear it. Today everyone can hear it instantly and there isn’t a quality barrier. That was the problem. A lot of kids just latched on to one sound. Do you think Radio 1 was responsible for that at all? I can’t really say that because the music of mine that Radio 1 introduced to the general public wasn’t how it turned out commercially. For example, they pushed the La Roux remix, which is about as far away as you can get from the modern tear-up sounds. Even the tracks I did with Magnetic Man were still very song-based. They were sub tunes, but they weren’t noisy. It’s a bit awkward for me because it’s my home as a station. So what are your feelings towards dubstep as a whole at the moment?
It was getting to know each other and doing a bit of work too. We’d met before but we’d both been smashed, so I spent four days in Bristol. I love the city anyway; I’ve been going there for years. We got one tune that’s a bit of a banger done, and another techno track done. It was mad productive, getting two tunes nearly finished. So you have a day party coming up at XOYO, followed by a night time event and a party at Warehouse Project ... It’s a continuation of the tour. These dates are part of the brand, more than the tour. It’s like a Skreamizm weekender. I’ve got the date at Warehouse Project on Easter Thursday that I’m over the moon about. I managed to pull together a fucking sick line-up. I’m still fascinated by UK dance music and there is an ‘across the board’ UK feel to it. On Friday I’ve got a day/night thing at XOYO, which is a snapshot of the tour. I’ve got Krystal Klear, Route 94 and Loefah. In the daytime it’s a different vibe with me playing a disco set and Krystal Klear playing a boogie set. I hope it warms-up! It’s sold-out, which is great. We’ve been talking about changes of direction, but when it comes to the latest Skreamizm compilation (Vol. 7), as a brand, that series still has its roots in your style of dubstep and bass music. Will Skreamizm always be your outlet for that? Skreamizm is always my snapshot of the year previous. I’d like to keep doing it so it’s something I can look at in the future and remember a particular time. That Skreamizm is actually one of my favourites to date. I really love the Copy Cat tune I did with Kelis and Sticky was one of the biggest tunes in my set for the Skreamizm tour.
I still really like dubstep. If I’m out and I hear hard dubstep I won’t leave. And I’ll repeat this again; I’ve said loads of times, I think Skrillex is one of the best producers around. Technically – and I don’t give a shit how many people want to shout at me on the internet – he’s great. I understand production and that’s why I rate him so much. That’s a really fascinating take on it. He’s become a bit of a cartoon character that people want to throw darts at. We feel a bit sorry for him. Don’t feel sorry for him, he’s a fucking multi-millionaire! I’m going to see him next week; we stay at the same hotel in Miami. That’s a meeting of minds! Y’know what? He’s a fucking really cool dude. Whenever I see him we don’t even really talk about music, we just meet up, hang out and have a laugh. It gets to me when people cuss him. I think its cause I know him as a person. I’ve always looked at the scene as a big social gathering. It’s the whole reason I rarely argue with anyone or I’m rarely rude to anyone. Nice people tend to be happier. It’s always the case if someone thinks you’re a dick and you behave like a dick, you’re not going to have anyone talk to you.
---------All Gone Pete Tong and Skream Miami 2013 is available now via Defected.
The poster boy for the bass generation is moving into a new house
W O R DS Th o m a s Fr o st
T U NE St ic ky
SI T E f a c e b o o k. c o m /s kre a m
“I know a lot of people who are bitter about how the scene has changed, but then I reckon there are also a lot of people who are pissed off with it because they didn’t move with the times.”
© Shaun Bloodworth
Fort Punta Chisto Pula, Croatia
Mos Def Capleton Talib Kweli Anthony B Alborosie Jay Electronica The Pharcyde Digital Mystikz Bonobo Andy C Pharoahe Monch Rustie Mala In Cuba
Joey Bada$$ Shy FX RL Grime Todd Edwards XXYYXX Dusky Andreya Triana Calyx & Teebee Boddika Jackmaster Machinedrum LTJ Bukem + 300 Other Acts
29 August to 02 September £135/€165 Weekend tickets
Europe’s leading bass music and sound system culture festival Dual weekend tickets available for Outlook & Dimensions festivals
DATES Grea t Esc ap e Festi val , Bri g hton | M a y 1 8t h 100 C lu b, Lond on | May 1 9th
SITE pa rquetcourts.word p re ss.com
PARQU ET C OU RTS
WO R D S J os h B ai n e s
TUN E S t oned and S t ar v i ng
When you’re sat in the beer garden of Dalston’s Shacklewell Arms on an exceptionally bleary Wednesday afternoon in March, Texas seems farther away than ever.
stoned and starving/I was reading ingredients/Asking myself “should I eat this?”/I was so stoned and starving’). You’re in Parquet Courts country now – a place at once familiar and distant.
There’s a temptation upon meeting a band like Parquet Courts – purveyors of the kind of intense, rambling, two-chord-stuttering garage-rock that joins the dots between The Modern Lovers, The Yummy Fur and The Feelies – to read too heavily into their topography, to ascribe certain sounds to the group’s literal birthplace, Texas, and others to their relocated new home of New York. But our instinct to over-analyse is instantly quashed when Andrew Savage, guitarist and co-songwriter, asserts that, “that transition predated the band’s existence. A lot of people have been writing, like, ‘oh, this band moved from Texas to New York’, but that’s not the case.” Turns out that Savage, along with his brother Max, and friends Austin Brown and Sean Yeaton started the band post-relocation with neither place acting as a providential force.
But it’s not all reading. During our time with the group, the conversation casually drifts towards tacos, the creation of, as Sean puts it, “the ultimate salty-sweet sandwich,” by combining Popchips and Oreos and stealing beer “Robin Hood style” from acts who get a better rider, as well as bands like Milk Music, PC Worship, Naomi Punk and Total Control.
The release of new album Light Up Gold sees the band carrying on where they left things with 2011’s gloriously scratchy, gloriously bleached American Specialties: a deftly lo-fi collection of distinctly American, packed-outbar friendly stompers. The thing – aside from the hooks and the paradoxical loose-tautness of the playing – that draws the listener into Light up Gold are its lyrics. From the blank verse sloganeering of Master of my Craft (‘I got a gold medal, record time/gold medal, diamond mine/names in print, tongue, t-shirts and minds’) to the slacker stoner social commentary of Careers in Combat : ‘There are no more summer lifeguard jobs/ There are no more art museums to guard/The lab is out of white lab coats/Cause there are no more slides and microscopes/But there are still careers in combat, my son’). There’s a sense of lexical inventiveness that’s fitting for a band comprised of compulsive readers and obsessive writers. Sean does journalism, Austin’s written a play, Max is a creative writer, Andrew writes “so much that not all of it becomes lyrics; I guess one would call it poetry if anything”. When asked about lyrical influences, Andrew and Austin – the band’s primary songwriters – are a little evasive. Andrew states that, “Lyrics, for me, are purely my own thoughts written in a notebook and then they become lyrics later. I write without purpose for the most part”. However, they’re a little more eager to discuss their current reading material (Andrew’s got a Don DeLillo collection on the go, Austin’s flipping between a Richard Hell autobiography and a recent issue of Playboy, and Sean’s juggling a book on the 13th Floor Elevators with the desire to re-read American minimalist Raymond Carver’s oeuvre). When hearing Light Up Gold, the listener loses themselves in the rhythmic flurries of Austin and Andrew’s gnomic utterances, dreaming of landscapes dotted with “lost-era grain elevators/Feudal beginnings, amber wave looseness/Post-Nordic grinning tired and toothless”, chiming with the self-explanatory boredom that fuels Stoned and Starving (‘I was walking through Ridgewood, Queens/I was flipping through magazines/I was so
Our meeting with the band takes place under the glare of a filming crew and the artificial lighting of a photographer and his assistant on an afternoon when London’s blanketed in the kind of post-rain puddlegrey which seemingly has no intention of going away. The visible tour-weariness on the group’s part seems justified under the circumstances. Having just returned from South by Southwest where, “One day we played three shows, the next day four shows,” it seemed right to ask them if the constant travel, the constant itinerarychecking and -keeping ever gets, well, a little boring? “I think it was the busiest schedule I’ve ever had, but I had the most fun”, Andrew assures us. “We ate a lot of great food. We’d all been traveling – we’d been in Mexico the week before – so we were used to the hustle and bustle of moving around and the logistics of everything.” And how does being in London compare to SXSW? “We’ve still got a shit-ton of stuff to do, it’s just in a different setting.” It must be difficult, we say, to remember why you started a band in the first place, to forget about the pressures of making music in an age where everything is assessed instantly, a time when initial reactions count for nearly everything, when there’s a constant pressure to release something new? “Just personally speaking,” Andrew begins, “that’s a world I’m trying to get away from right now. I think that people are expected to react to things at the same speed as the digital world, and it’s just another extension of how we all want this instant gratification. I don’t think music should bow down to that kind of bad habit. Musicians are expected to oblige to it too much. I think all the forces should all revolve silently around the band so we can be somewhere where an artist can work and exist naturally and not have to worry about the anxieties of how fast something is going to be retweeted or reacted to. I try not to think about that auxiliary stuff and let it affect me too much, but it finds its way in. But”, he adds, “I don’t want to put out the impression that we’re puritan Luddites.”
Light Up Gold is available now via What’s Your Rupture?/ Mom+Pop
WO R D S T h om as H aw k i n s
BRUNO DRUMMOND & GEMMA TICKLE If it ain’t broke don ’t fix it – reinvent it instead.
Crack remembers once queuing up at the local supermarket with the intention of buying some milk, some eggs and some orange juice. As you can probably gather, it was morning time and we were looking to rustle up something vaguely breakfast-shaped. On leaving the shop, and during the process of unlocking our bike, a lividlooking guy who had been standing patiently in the queue came and stood over us as we struggled with our D-lock. He aggressively said: “You do realise that by wearing those trainers you are endorsing one of the biggest corporate behemoths on the planet?” “What?”, we replied. He continued: “Nike represents everything that is wrong with the world today.” Before we had the time to respond he strode off proudly, broadsheet and croissants in tow. It was like he had done his good deed for the day or something. Bemused, it took a little while to fully grasp what we’d just experienced. Our initial reaction was “what a dick“, but moreover, our second thought was “surely that idiot isn’t planning on dedicating his entire day to marching around Cambridge telling people off for wearing Nike apparel?”
parties, releasing limited edition colourways, but most interestingly, pioneering a series of artist commissions with an eye to ‘reinventing’ the legacy of their most famous creation. Working with five artistic teams from different disciplines in our country’s capital, Nike have laid down the gauntlet and challenged the selected artists to reinvent the five most iconic Air Max designs from the glittering 25-year roster: the Air Max 1s, 90s, 95s, 97s and Air Max 2013s. The task of ‘reinventing’ the 90s, arguably the most iconic of all the Air Max designs, has fallen upon the shoulders of design team Bruno Drummond and Gemma Tickle. Bonded by a mutual love for a clean, crisp and flawless pop aesthetic, the duo have taken the opportunity to tap directly into the era that hosted the birth of the Infrared for inspiration. The glorious explosion of rave culture, the dawn of a new take on urban style, but most significantly, the striking shapes, distinct use of colour and design, and not forgetting the legendary iconography that has shaped Nike as a brand since its birth in the late 70s. Crack was lucky enough to catch up with Bruno and Gemma to see how they went about ‘reinventing’ our favourite Nike Air Max in the form of a sculptured homage to its shape, colour and form.
So how do you guys find yourselves here today working as a team?
That was when it dawned ... The reason he had singled us out in the warmth of the morning sunshine was because the Air Max 90 Infrareds in question were both boxfresh and glorious. He was like a magpie to a shiny object, drawn to its glow. In the end we took his brief tirade as a compliment and cycled off with a smile, deep in thought about how to best prepare the aforementioned eggs. There are some things in this world that must be heralded, but moreover, celebrated as brilliant. Nike’s 25 years of Air Max footwear is one of those things. Iconic, innovative and groundbreaking, the most beautiful thing about the Air Max range is that its evolution, both stylistically and technologically, will always represent something very different to each generation of sneaker head: a particular place in time. As mentioned previously, that first Infrared matrimony involved lazy days spent in sunny Cambridge in the late-90s; always broke, but always with flamboyant trainers on our feet. 2013 marks 25 years of the Nike Air Max. To celebrate the silver anniversary of Nike’s flagship shoe, its opus if you like, Nike is throwing
Bruno: Gemma and I first met when we were both working for other people. Gemma was assisting a set designer and I was working as a photographic assistant. We were both working on shoots together. We were both busy getting our own portfolios together around the same time so we started working collaboratively. Aesthetically we have tastes and interests that cross over in a complimentary fashion. Tell us about your take on this Nike collaboration. Where has the project taken you as a creative partnership? B: It’s been really great. We’ve had an amazing amount of creative freedom to develop this project ourselves. In the research phase especially, it’s been really interesting looking back at the era when the Air Max 90s first came out. Gemma: The thought of recreating something that already exists inspired by the rave scene in which it was born was a pretty great place to start, and having the creative control to finish up there too was even better. www.crackmagazine.net
S ITE b r u n od r u m m on d .c o.u k g e m m at i c k l e .c om
April Exhibitions Bernadette Corporation: 2000 Wasted Years 27 March—9 June 2013
The Independent Group: Parallel of Art & Life 27 March—9 June 2013
Frank Benson: Rooftop Sculpture 15 March—19 May 2013
Events Warhol Screenings Rare screenings of recently restored, seminal Warhol films. Fri 5 Apr Chelsea Girls Sat 6 Apr Sleep Sun 7 Apr Vinyl Dean Blunt: IM JUST PASSIN THRU TO SHOW SOME LOVE Thu 11 Apr A scripted stage performance by artist and Hype Williams member Dean Blunt. Writing Workshop: Travis Jeppesen 13—14 April The Trouble with Artist Collectives Wed 17 Apr Culture Now Friday lunchtime talks 12 Apr 19 Apr
Anne Massey & Ben Cranfield Hanaa Malallah
Film Artists’ Film Club New and rarely seen film and moving image by up-and-coming and more established artists. 10 Apr 20 Apr 24 Apr
Loris Gréaud Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor Collective Action (Group Screening)
Radical Thinkers Fortnightly talks introducing the latest set of Verso’s Radical Thinkers Verso series. 9 Apr 23 Apr
Nina Power on Ludwig Feuerbach Federico Campagna on Simon Critchley
Parallel of Art & Life: A Conference on the Independent Group 25—26 Apr
Birds Eye View Film Festival 2013 Thu 4 Apr Damascus Roof and Tales of Paradise + panel discussion with Al Jazeera Documentary Channel Tue 9 Apr Fashion Loves Film: Arab Fashion Past & Present + panel discussion Vers Madrid (The Burning Bright!) + Director Q&A Sun 7 Apr Agnès Varda season 26 Apr—2 May Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647 www.ica.org.uk
MickRonsonfest Sat 27 April The is a registered charity no. 236848
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~ How did you approach ‘reinventing’ something so iconic?
B: I’ve always been a big fan of the Infrared. We tried to respond directly to the bold blocky colours of the design throughout developing the brief. That was always the aim.
B: We were asked to come up with something relating to the cultural backdrop of the early 90s. Researching this has been really interesting, the rave aesthetic especially. Just the rave flyers alone chart the musical development of the scene and with the insane speed at which it seemed to evolve. 1986/87 saw a whole mixture of styles, not defined, quite DIY if you like; 1987/88 started to get more defined, it borrowed from the 1960s a lot, quite Hawkwind-y sometimes ... that kind of thing. As the music got harder in the early 90s the aesthetic of the flyers did too. The artwork became heavily computer generated and almost started moving towards a kind of Hellraiser aesthetic. We really liked the way the flyers use space, kind of referencing – for want of a better term – void landscapes. You know, grids cascading from a horizon, that kind of sci-fi emptiness. We really liked the way the flyers had this consistent use of grid patterns, particularly the axial, one-point perspective throughout. Although it hasn’t fed directly into the project, some of the stuff the research has brought up has ended up with me looking at The Lawnmower Man and films like that, plus early-90s video game releases like Sonic The Hedgehog, which uses space in a really amazing way. Similar to that medieval period before they developed perspective but are using 3D, so it becomes an odd blend of 2D and 3D.
G: I think taking something that is so familiar means you can push its reinvention further. How has your relationship as a set designer and photographer changed over time and how has the Nike brief tested your resolve? G: Well, we both share a very similar graphic and playful sensibility and I think working with Nike has encouraged both of those aesthetics. Your work is very different to the impulsive and reactive work we often chat to people about. Can you tell us more about the ins and outs of how you work? What processes do you follow most vehemently? G: I love taking inspiration from everyday life and subverting it into something surreal. I also love tackling different types of materials. Dealing with new materials really inspires me to create. What about personal projects? What are you most excited about and proud of?
G: We really love computer game imagery and the world that encompasses. Linked to the Nike project, we tried to imagine what it would look like if this world was modernised and its building blocks were shapes taken from the Air Max 90 design.
Let’s speak about the huge affection surrounding the shoe. It’s such a revered design, did you find the prospect of ‘reinventing’ it daunting at all?
G: I have had a little sketch of a wooden balloon that has travelled through each of my sketchbooks for about five years now and recently I met a great woodturner who brought my sketch to life and made my little wooden balloon sketch a reality. It really is amazing, I love it!
Both of your respective styles are explicit and striking. Tell us more about what inspired this? B: I guess I’ve always found something really interesting about the immediacy of the snapshot aesthetic. In a way, all there is to see is on the surface but that also provides a kind of unreadable blankness, which I find really fascinating.
B: The tumblr thing is interesting, the endless scrolling and sense of infinity. Saying that, some tumblr profiles are very well curated and selective. Some aren’t. I quite like to look at both in a way. For me print is still the primary medium in terms of an endpoint for a personal project, and I definitely prefer looking at a printed magazine to a website, although that’s not to say digital isn’t a super important part of what we do. Finally, what does the future hold?
What else inspires you? Where do you go to source inspiration? B: Pop culture, illustration, graphic design, colour, minimalism and architecture. We probably overuse the word ‘pop’ but I think it’s really important to what we both do. I’ve always been interested in glossy/surface sheen, guys like Jeff Koons especially. We both use a pop colour palette in our work, which I think works nicely with a minimalism and aesthetic austerity. G: I love looking at materials in everyday life and thinking of other ways to use them. I love going to the library and looking at old issues of design and fashion magazines. I also try to find interesting exhibitions and talks to find inspiration. Most recently I went to this amazing show at the Woodturners Guild called the The Wizardry of Wood. It was great. I recommend it.
B: We have some commissioned stuff on the go, plus we’re getting round to doing a new series of personal images which are currently in development. G: Bananas on wheels, dancing carnations, hinged candles, jelly bricks …
Visit the the new Competitions section of crackmagazine.net to win a limited edition fanzine celebrating the 25th anniversary of Nike Air Max.
We’d like to ask you about your take on the 21st century climate, the bulging and saturated world that we live in. How does your work fit in with the never-ending tumblr scroll?
This poster was made exclusively for CRACK by Pete Murgatroyd petemurgatroyd.co.uk
To have your design featured for our poster send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org www.crackmagazine.net
A L P F R E S C O WO R D S Ri c h B i t t , H u l i o B ou r g e oi s , D ar r e n Pe ar s on
Cometh the hour, cometh the snow, as Crack arrived in Söll for the inaugural Alpfresco, there was something beyond the visible powder in the air. Having spent the last five years presenting parties beyond people’s wildest imaginations, the transference of their operation to the Austrian Alps for three days of frivolity tickled the buds of all who’ve ever borne witness to the Alfresco Disco magic. Even those whose skiing skills left a lot to be desired were more than up for carving a slice of Alpine magic for themselves in the picturesque setting, and with a series of intimate parties promised, here’s Crack’s Alpfresco experience in full.
After an incredulously happy gondola ride down the mountain, Crack made our way towards the weekend’s centrepiece: a party in a log cabin on the banks of a lake in the middle of a pine forest called the Morsee. Is that enough Austrian authenticity for you? As we made our way out of town and into the ominous darkness, doubters began to question the direction taken and disquieting voices bemoaned the chief route-planner’s choice of road. This was until the faint shudder of beats in the distance drew Crack down a dirt track in search of the action. Having crossed an illuminated lake by skirting round the outside for fear of plunging into the freezing waters, Crack reached the cabin to be presented with a BBQ and a fire pit keeping revellers warm, and a party on the inside in full swing, populated by a considerable crowd of locals as well as Alpfresco devotees.
FRIDAY Having spent six hours slapping about on the side of a big fuck-off mountain, there was something slightly counter-intuitive about leaving the idyllic comfort of our chalet at nine in the evening. But knowing you’ve got Alfresco Disco working their magic 100 yards down the road makes it a pretty easy decision. Entering the snug and tantalisingly packed Undergound to the sound of WLT and Tom Hodgson couldn’t be much better. While the duo are, unbeknownst to themselves, conducting a fiercely-debated and impossible to judge handsome-off in the booth (it’s a matter of whether you’re into beards or not, there’s nothing else between ‘em) their impeccably mixed, rich and considered house selection came against a backdrop of pine, schnapps and a lingering, refreshing chill in the air. It’s a stunning, surreal juxtaposition, much like the whole weekend. The Alfresco spirit had been fully transferred. As they sublimely ended their stint with Moodymann’s Long Hot Sexy Nights, representatives of one of the most important labels in all that’s interesting in UK electronic music, Hypercolour, stepped forward to the sound of the Ron Basejam remix of The White Lamp’s It’s You. And so they set the tone for the remainder of our night. For every 20 minutes of unidentifiable, vivid and invigorating jams, in came a moment to bring the room to its knees: see Bashmore’s Footsteppin, or the Four Tet remix of Caribou’s Sun. When Alfresco residents Dan Hayman and Justin Credible stepped onto the decks, they couldn’t fucking miss. As first nights go, this was basically flawless. SATURDAY Team Crack got up on Saturday and immediately fixed ourselves a round of White Russians to celebrate the esteemed birthday of one of our cohorts. And as if the two hour bassline/grime/garage special from his rather tinny Mac speakers wasn’t enough to get the manz hyped about the day ahead, the utterly glorious skiing conditions were. After getting ourselves to the top of the mountain a few times and promptly navigating our way back down with increasing degrees of competence, Crack was overjoyed to find the picturesque Remmdir bar had been reserved for Alpfresco’s revellers ‘out of skiing hours’ party, entitled Mountain Magic. Alpfresco attendees slid from the slopes and straight into some serious boogie on the Remmdir’s wonderful wooden outdoor area.
With walls adorned with sporting achievements of cross-country skiers and a serious lack of change behind the bar, there was a rustic feel to the setting akin to a rave in a sports club. With room to explore the wooded locality and soundtracks laid down by Alfresco’s Lukas, Marco Bernardi and possibly the set of the weekend from new found techno selector Charlie Balcombe, the party was a beautiful encapsulation of what made this weekend unique. SUNDAY Crack had the honour of hosting the day party at the Remmdir bar for what began more as a soiree to nurse bruises from the night before. After getting a bit of goulash down our necks, we tucked into Pardon My French’s three and a-half hour Balearic odyssey, serving to effortlessly recharge our spirits. Remove Me brought the house party with a more upfront selection, and Crack mentally prepared itself for the final hurrah. We headed over to the Whiskymühle, an archetypical ski town club that usually hosts cheesebag DJs unleashing their arsenal of mildly embarrassing party bangers. But instead of walking into Aerosmith and Run DMC’s Walk This Way, we were greeted by the sound of Justin Gettings ploughing deep into a set of bouncy house tracks as a multicoloured prisms of light beams bounced off the ‘mühle’s enormous disco ball. A succession of back-to-back sets followed, like a DJ relay which gradually morphed from house towards euphoric disco territory. Gettings was joined by Tom Hodgson, and the pair’s coalescence produced highlights such as Silicone Soul’s bongo-heavy classic Right On and Caribou’s re-jig of Virgo Four’s It’s A Crime. It’s at this point we suddenly realised all our friends were missing. They could be found in the next room playing Stump. Yes, there’s a game called Stump. It’s a traditional Austrian drinking sport which involves whacking five inch nails into a massive log with a hammer. Somehow there’s a winner, and that winner is awarded a shot. It may be commendable to immerse oneself in the local culture when abroad, but we thought it best to drag everyone back into the main room, because by this point, there was a taskforce of Hodgson and Lukas behind the decks. Lukas seems hell bent on driving the night to a climax and with everyone vibing off the warm throb of disco bangers, Hodgson dropped The One’s shamelessly rapturous hit Flawless. He got away with it, and the Alpfresco crowd – all draped in neon, retro ski wear – went totally nuts.
From watching the sun slowly set with the sounds of team Hypercolour in the background, to dancing head to toe in your ski clobber, the party was unmistakably Alfresco and unmistakably awesome. Refreshing peach schnapps, non-refreshing turnip schnapps and the finest Weissbeer contributed to the picturesque fun with sounds that went in a little harder than the house-fest of the night previous.
Arriving back in Bristol after an eight-hour bleary daze of departure lounge naps, scanning in-flight magazine articles about European shopping weekends and scoffing service station fast food, Crack hit the hay sporting the broadest, most self-satisfied grin you’ve ever seen. Alfresco, you did it again.
Step up Tyrolean techno stalwart Mindestens. You like Austrian techno? Yeah, got that base well covered. This chain-smoking dude tore the roof of the Remmdir despite the setting being built for more civilised occasions. It was a joy to see the locals getting involved, and as night drew in a bonafide sense of euphoria began to build.
For more information on future Alfresco Disco events visit alfrescodisco.co.uk
Various venues , S รถ ll, Austria M arch 22nd - 24 th
PH O TO S C h r i s C oop e r
with Angel Olsen, AdriAn CrOwley, luke sitAl-singh MOn 6th - wed 8th MAy | CineMA MuseuM
thu 9th MAy | PlAn B
tue 14th MAy | XOyO
tue 14th MAy | hOXtOn squAre BAr & kitChen
KiNgs of CoNveNieNCe ut wed 15th MAyso|lthe D o rOundhOuse
ADult. + ligHt AsyluM wed 15th MAy | XOyO
MOn 20th MAy | dingwAlls
tue 21st MAy | the gArAge
Fri 24th MAy | VillAge undergrOund
MOn 3rd June | st JOhn At hACkney
AdVAnCe tiCkets WWW.BirDoNtHeWire.Net
T U NE So u p B o ys
WO R D S C h r i s t op h e r G ood f e l l ow
S I TE t w i t t er.com/H I MANS H U
HEEMS © Heems
The subversive hip-hop formula that Himanshu Suri, a.k.a Heems, created with his former group Das Racist juxtaposes dumb cultural jokes and serious political references against infectious hooks and unconventional party beats. It’s allowed the Brooklyn based rapper to cultivate a massive cult following, propelling him and his former band into mainstream consciousness and solidifying his vision as the head of the forwardthinking rap label Greedhead Music. Following Das Racist’s recent dissolution, Heems has embarked on a European tour to promote his latest solo effort, Wild Water Kingdom. The mixtape utilises a near-schizophrenic hook selection, featuring a dubstep-lite beat, the riddim of Cee Gee’s dub reggae and even a club track featuring Childish Gambino. Clearly the man understands pop music. Disappointingly, his latest effort isn’t spliced with the kind of political commentary that was so crucial to his solo debut, Nehru Jackets., but the new mixtape is infested with the kind of irreverent cultural nods that made Das Racist so charming and funny, referencing everything from Ludacris to Princess Diana. On the hilarious intro track, Cowabunga Gnarly, Heems mimics rap’s rags-to-riches grand narrative with a statement that’s simultaneously boastful and self-deprecating: ‘Mr. Potential Abortion Stat / To that cat that pay his momma mortgage cash is back’. Wild Water Kingdom isn’t a joke record, but due to Heems’ multiple layers of irony, it would be easy to mistake it for one. Mike Finito, who produced Nehru Jackets single-handed, is joined here by Keyboard Kid, LE1F and Harry Fraud among others. “It is a fun, cohesive thing to work with one producer, but I found that working with a lot of producers is the way I like doing it, because I feel a lot of different things at a lot of different times and I can adapt,” Heems tells us as we’re sat on a stoop opposite Bristol venue Start The Bus. Killing Time, a track from the new tape which uses a sample from Echo & The Bunnymen’s The Killing Moon, is trivialised with the lyric “I’m bored, I’m bored”, rapidly increasing in tempo. Later he tells us that he’s most interested in developing his managerial roles, and it’s hard to work out whether the lyric is a play on words or a hint at his future as an MC.
“With Das Racist I liked managing the band a lot more than being out in front and being in the public eye, and having to deal with whatever social anxiety from that side of the stage, or whatever anxiety generally”, Heems tells us, seeming slightly fazed when we press him on the subject, although it’s hard to tell through his approachable, often hilarious, demeanour. The group shelved material already recorded for a new album, which by some accounts runs to five/six tracks, and the reasons behind the split was never fully explained to the group’s devoted fan base. Das Rascist’s first, and last, official release Relax came out in 2011. Despite the fact that the track Girl appeared, controversially, in a Walmart commercial, the album wasn’t as critically revered as mixtapes Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man. The band’s break came with a song about the smell of their favourite fast food restaurants, ‘I’ve got that taco smell / That pescado smell / I’ve got a lot of smells/ I’ve rolled a lot of Ls’, went the mantra. Yet Heems’ cultural commentary is a crucial part of enjoying his music. And he’s an ex-Wall Street head hunter and Forbes Magazine-branded “indie rap mogul”. It’s an interesting dichotomy. Heems’ next album is already in the works and could be released as soon as April. He says an album from Victor Vazquez, i.e ex-Das Racist bandmate Kool AD, should drop on the same day. After that? It looks like he’ll push to a management and promotion role: “I don’t know how much more I’m going to be making music, but I know I’m going to be working with music and non-music for a long time.” In the background Heems has been working on building the Greedhead Music label, which was formed to manage Das Racist in 2008. Since the band split he’s building the label’s roster, which includes E-40’s eccentric son Issue, the witty Big Baby Ghandi and the brilliant, proudly gay rapper Le1F. “I’m focused on what the next kind of look is, which is why I signed Le1f and Big Baby Gandhi”, he says. “And I kind of developed the label with Das Racist to push rap that might not meet the preconceived notions about what rap should be out there.” ------------Wild Water Kingdom is available to download now.
I LLUS TRATI O N J am es W i l son
SIT E subp op.co m /a rt is t s/m u d h o n e y
This month, legends of Seattle’s mythologised rock scene Mudhoney release their ninth studio album Vanishing Point, marking the 25th anniversary of their formation. Crack caught up with frontman Mark Arm to talk misconceptions of ‘grunge’, Iggy Pop’s retirement and managing warehouses for Sub Pop. Right from the first drum roll, Vanishing Point is a rip roaring, bone shaking, full engine piece of garage rock. The four-piece might be older and wiser, but there’s no way they’re winding down, as anyone who’s seen them live recently will confirm. Drummer Dan Peters’s thumps are as abrasive as ever, Steve Turner’s piercing guitar howls sound merciless, Mark Arm’s vocals are as ferocious and fine as the first time you heard them and Guy Maddison’s muscular bass binds it all together. Interviewing one of your heroes is a risky business. You could so easily cock it up or worse; they could shatter your illusions and be a total tool. Luckily for Crack, Mark Arm couldn’t be a nicer bloke. He’s warm and jovial but equipped with razor sharp wit. His lyrics have always been tongue-in-cheek, but has age influenced a more earnest lyrical direction on Vanishing Point? Mark is incredulous. “Really? You think I Like it Small is earnest?!” he laughs. “I would say of all the words to describe our band, earnest is not one of them. We’re not a reverent, earnest sort of band.” So the nightmarish and unwelcome guest Chardonnay, the namesake of track four, she’s not based on a real person? “Chardonnay’s not a person, it’s a wine” he chuckles again. “I mean, that song in particular cracks me up ‘cause it’s a straight up hardcore song and you know I’ve just turned 51 a little while ago, so for me to be doing a hardcore song and singing like ‘I hate authority and I hate my parents and I hate school’, that’s a little ridiculous. But to sing about white wine, that’s really funny.” It can’t go unnoted that the Seattle scene saw a fair share of dark, sad endings to musicians’ lives: Mother Love Bone’s Andy Wood, Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley and, of course, he who has been practically sainted, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, all died untimely drug-related deaths. Mudhoney were no strangers to the heavily hedonistic culture which surrounded the scene, reportedly living out a deranged lifestyle during the 80s and early 90s as a young, touring band with a passion for narcotics. But Mudhoney survived the grunge era unscathed and with more credibility and respect than most of their contemporaries. Wait, there it is – ‘grunge’. Now let’s get this out of the way. Mark Arm is often cited as coining the term ‘grunge’, a definition that so many Seattle acts came to hate as it rapidly became a label pinned upon them and their city, becoming both burden and bandwagon. Crack decides we’re going in, and ask Mark if the term is down to him? Did he coin ‘grunge’? The reply is lightning quick and full of conviction. “I DID NOT. I did not. It’s a weird thing to pin on one person. That term had been floating around in rock criticism mostly as an adjective, like ‘grungey guitars’, or there was a 70s reissue of the Johnny Burnette Trio, who were a 50s rockabilly band, and whoever wrote the liner notes described Paul Burlinson’s guitar sound as being ‘grungey’. So y’know, it was just a word that was kicking around.”
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What followed the early success of a fledgling scene was the international hyping of a city in a way that hadn’t really been experienced before. Perhaps Seattle owed its success to the invention of MTV in the 80s, or perhaps because the influence its rock icons had on the world of fashion. For whatever reason, major labels rushed to sign ‘grunge’ bands. “What’s also weird to me is the bands that became known as grunge – Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, the big four I guess – the production values on their records are pretty clean, y’know?”, he muses. “Like, especially in the case of Pearl Jam, the guitars aren’t very distorted or grungey at all, so it seems a misnomer to me … and also, I would hate to be any part of a lineage that leads up to Creed and Nickelback. You know what I’m saying?” We know what he’s saying. Surely the most regrettable legacy of the grunge movement was in the vocal style it unwittingly spawned. Polished, heartless imitations of the throaty howls of Vedder, Cornell or Staley became the go-to croon of choice. But Mark was never a victim of such fallout. His voice is inimitable, as ferocious as Mudhoney’s guitars and certainly a million miles away from the Chads and the Scotts of that post-grunge world. It’s been 25 years of grainy yelping and Mark’s still got it; a voice that oozes attitude. We ask how he maintains it. Apparently, he doesn’t. “I don’t know. I don’t really take a lot of care of my voice”, he says. “Generally it seems like if we’ve been practicing a lot and I’ve been ‘singing’ a lot, it kind of gets stronger than if I haven’t been singing.” While his voice might not require careful nurturing, surely 25 years together have placed a fair bit of strain on the band’s internal dynamics? “This band, this isn’t our first rodeo. We’d all played in several bands by the time Mudhoney started”, he clarifies. “By the time Mudhoney started in 1988 I was 26, so it wasn’t like I was 19 and easily irritated by someone else in the band who might have slightly different musical tastes than me. There’s a little maturity that comes along with age. There are a couple of important things we did to keep any goofiness and personal bullshit at bay. Like, we just split publishing and writing credits equally, so when money did start trickling in there was no “hey man, how come you’re getting more than me?”, none of that crap. Doing things like that helped us move in a good direction.” These days Mark holds down a day job working at his label home Sub Pop, where he’s had a role as a Warehouse Manager for the last eight years. You’ve got to love a down-to-earth rock legend. So it must be handy to work for your label? No problem getting time off for touring in that job. “Well, they want us to go out and tour, but I’m a little afraid that if I’m gone and there’s other people working here and everything runs smoothly, it’ll make it clear that I’m not really needed,” he laughs. From the outsider’s perpective it seems Mark is part of the furniture; there are few bands and labels so intrinsically linked as Mudhoney and Sub Pop. He’s been involved since the beginning, the band’s ‘88 Superfuzz Bigmuff EP being one of the imprint’s earliest successes. So how did he come to meet label managers Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman all those years ago? “I met Bruce and Jon before Sub Pop, probably in like 1983. The first time I met Bruce was at an all ages club in Seattle that had a very brief
Y TUN E Chardonnay
existence, he was playing records there and ... I guess the current term is ‘DJing’”, he chuckles. “I bugged him several times, like, ‘play Void!’ or ‘play The Birthday Party!’ and eventually he came over to my place and listened to records. I remember playing him the Fang record. Jonathan worked at the local college radio station that I also eventually worked at and he put on local shows. It was a small group of people so anyone who was active in the ‘scene’ would end up knowing each other, at least by sight.” Entirely fitting then that Mudhoney should play at Sub Pop’s 25th anniversary party, the Sub Pop Silver Jubilee, a free street party taking place in Seattle this July. Mark can’t confirm any of the other acts who’ll be playing, but he can confirm that we’re all invited. “You’ll have to pay for your own flight though!” he laughs. Did he ever think he’d still be playing with Mudhoney and releasing killer albums after a quarter of a century? “I’m amazed, I mean we’re all amazed that we’re still around and still able to put out records and that anyone gives a shit”, he confesses. People really do care about Mudhoney. Their shows are packed out and their albums still sell, as the band never lost any integrity, never sold out or bowed down to trends. They are a band who have delivered their very own brand of garage rocking psycho blues with such veracity since day one that there really isn’t a hater who could hate. “We thought we were a great band but we didn’t think we’d be a popular band”, Mark explains. “We believe in what we do, but we never thought ‘we will naturally be super rich and famous because of this music’. We knew the history of the bands that we were into, like ‘I know what happened to The Stooges, I know what happened to the New York Dolls.’ There’s a history there, you know?” We laugh about some bands who probably shouldn’t still be going, before he relinquishes all judgment. “You know, that’s not really up to me and I don’t really care if those bands keep going or not, it’s no skin off my nose – is that even a phrase? It’s no skin off me anywhere.” He’s quite the authority on The Stooges. He’s been a fan since childhood, some of the most cherished items in his LP collection are the Stooges records which he’s owned since 1980, and he’s had the pleasure of touring with them in recent years. Crack dares to question the impeccable legacy of Iggy Pop; those car adverts were somewhat unforgivable. What does he think he’s doing? Mark jumps to Iggy’s defence. “Oh, I can tell you exactly what he’s doing, he’s planning for his retirement. I don’t think he can do this forever, he might as well try to make as much money as he can because retirement housing is really, really fucking expensive in the States.” Crack feels a bit guilty for ever putting the Pop man down and can confirm that speaking to one of your heroes about one of their heroes is pretty reassuring. God forbid anyone should diss Mark Arm, we’d take ‘em down town.
Vanishing Point is released by Sub Pop on 2nd April
T UNE Sl um b e r
WORDS Scott Jam es
SIT E p l anet.m u/ arti sts/he t e r o t ic
It’s rare to achieve the level of insight into the dynamics of a music project – or, in fact, a relationship – that we reach as we chat to two-thirds of Heterotic via Skype while they lay in their marital bed. Yep, very rare indeed. It’s almost surreal, you might say, to chat with a truly pivotal figure of the UK’s electronic music scene in such an intimate context. Through his work as μ-Ziq, and his ownership of the Planet Mu label, Mike Paradinas has inarguably helped forge the blueprint for much of the most daring work to emerge from these isles in recent memory. The label sits comfortably alongside the likes of Rephlex and Warp as beacons for fearless experimentation, a patronage of a generation of ravers who grew up and wanted something more cerebral and concrete to emerge from those never ending nights. Over nearly 20 years of pushing extremities, from IDM to drum and bass, breakcore, acid and dubstep, releases from the likes of Venetian Snares, Luke Vibert, Machinedrum, Vex’d (and subsequently Kuedo), Boxcutter and Ital proved pinpoints for their respective sounds. In recent years, Planet Mu has been pivotal in the explosion of the Chicago footwork sound in the UK, with the Bangs & Works compilations reverberating across the UK bass music scene. But due to the nature of this project, meeting Paradinas in such cosy surroundings makes a whole load of sense. Because the warm and glossy, retro-futuristic tracks that Heterotic create are born of a creative relationship between Paradinas, his wife Lara Rix-Paradinas (née Martin) and the immensely talented Warp signee Gravenhurst. It’s also particularly appropriate as a fair amount of their debut Love and Devotion was penned right here. “It’s really boring, being in bed with Mike all day,” smiles Lara. “But it was too cold outside,” chimes in Mike. “About two years ago, Lara asked me to teach her Logic, and we started writing tracks together. And they were good, I decreed.” We quiz them further about how much of this music was made between the sheets. “It’s where we make our best music”, says Mike, with a hint of Carry On. “Bliss was done in bed, Devotion was done in bed, Slumber ...” “About 87%” is Lara’s specific assertion, “most was made naked”. “I wore socks”, Mike is quick to correct. Despite the project’s conjugal nature, the ‘erotic’ of its moniker does not actually relate to marital activity. “We just wanted a pretentious, scientific word” insists Lara, “it relates to string theory, it means when two things come together. People think it’s sexual, but it’s just cold.” Mike doesn’t seem so sure. “When I Googled it, I thought “hurr hurr, it’s got erotic in it, we’ll use that.” So there are certain sensual overtones? “Well,” says Lara, “I thought Slumber was sexual but then Gravenhurst sung on it ...” “Well it’s not just about sex, is it?” come Mike’s final words on the matter, in almost a certain attempt to earn Brownie points, “it’s about other aspects, like love and romanticism.” It immediately reaps rewards, with Lara emitting a doting “awww”.
point, Mike inexplicably bombards the conversation with beverage-related adjectives. “I thought the stuff we were writing together was a lot poppier than stuff I do on my own, which is a bit more ... juicy.” “Juicy?” enquires Lara. “Yeah, I think the stuff we do is a bit ... fizzier.” And ‘pop’ is far from a dirty word in this household. “It’s all pop, isn’t it”, says Mike. “Something like Pete Swanson’s new E.P is pop. DJ Rashad, DJ Traxman ... they’re all catchy tunes to make you dance. We’ve got vocals, criticise us as pop. If it’s not pop-ular, then that’s fair criticism.” “Unpopular pop” weighs in Lara. And both settle on “unpop”. The only other vocalist considered to complete the trio was perhaps an even more unconventional choice. Lara refers to him as “the soul man”. “Yeah, we asked Jamie Woon, but he was too busy”, says Mike. And what was the mentality behind inviting Woon? “I had his e-mail address” comes his deadpan reply. Of the two, it was clear Gravenhurst was the man for the job. “I e-mailed both, Jamie said ‘yeah, I’ll be interested’ but I sent him tracks and he didn’t reply. Gravenhurst said ‘yeah, let’s do this mother.’” The pop sentiment seems to have been the one slightly divisive point in this seemingly flawlessly harmonious working/living relationship. As the duo move onto discussions about their (already in process) second effort, Lara appears keen to keep it largely instrumental. “Because Mike has got to that point in his career where he’s already been experimental and crazier, he’s free to just enjoy music”, she says. “For me, because I’m younger and it’s the first real thing I’ve put my name to that’s actually artistic, I feel like I want something that’s a bit more crazy, or abstract maybe.” The recording of this debated follow-up has, however, been halted by more personal events. “Well we’ve got a few tracks together”, says Mike, “but we haven’t done much more to it since she got up the duff.” It’s another element to add to the Heterotic equation. One very seldom has to schedule live dates around the potential for one member of the group getting the other pregnant, with Lara reporting that “I’ve started getting annoyed very easily.” “We’re doing a Mu night in May” says Mike, before stumbling into a comment on gigs (“watching young people dance to music just pisses me off ” he says with a mischievous grin). A bit of mental arithmetic leads us to enquire how Lara will deal with a live show so far down the gestation line. “I’ll probably just grab a Kaoss pad and fuck about with all that shit” is her impeccably thought-out plan. That’s the image we’re left with. The heavily-pregnant wife with sampler in hand, the pissed-off husband, and the rather confused Gravenhurst stood between. It’s probably safe to say that by that point, the Heterotic honeymoon might be over. ----------
Gravenhurst, known to his Mum as Nick Talbot, has beguiled us over the years with his peculiarly addictive strand of alternative folk. His addition to the group added an intriguing outside element to this freaky ménageà-trois. Lara reflects on his introduction. “I think Mike wanted to get a bit poppier with the tracks.” At this
Love and Devotion is out May 25th via Planet Mu. Download an exclusive unreleased Heterotic track at crackmagazine.net
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Problems? C p
Flying it up the flagpole with...
Denzil Schniffermann No sooner had Crack advertised for a
Dear Mr. Schniffermann,
new agony person than we received a very
seen. Seriously, it was massive.
I made a complete fool of myself over the Easter bank holiday weekend. After meeting up with a prospective love interest I’d met online, I found myself feeling anxious. To mask my nerves, I offered to buy a round of Jägerbombs every time there was an awkward silence. The last thing I remember is being in a phonebox with a tramp and smoking hash out of a pipe he’d constructed with a Tyskie can. At some point I must have pissed myself, and to make matters worse my brand new iPhone 5 was in my pocket and the Apple shop boffs won’t let me claim a refund due to water damage. I’ve got another date lined up, any advice would be much appreciated.
I’m terrified that I seem to be turning into Bam Margera from Jackass. I’ve just lost the ability to say no. I’ve started jumping in bushes for no apparent reason, waving my tadger around in supermarkets, and I quaffed a whole Viennetta in one sitting because my mates dared me to. I just couldn’t turn them down. That’s 4,500 calories, two and a-half times your recommended daily allowance. My insides are screaming and I think I’ve lost my mind.
most impressive e-mail footer you’ve ever
Look, I’m a modern music fan. I bought the last Twang album and Mumford And Sons get me weak at the knees. But I just can’t my head round all this techno jibber-jabber my son keeps listening to. He’s got this new track called Tunsten by some German clown called Barnt. It sounds like a car alarm going off at a fairground. It’s just not music, it’s the sound of a nervous breakdown. You’ve got your finger on the pulse Denz, how can I wean him off this shit and get him ‘rocking in the free world’ again?
Chris Davison, 26, Fishponds, Bristol
If you keep letting others be your boss, you’ll end up counting the cost. That’s what I had (henna) tattooed on my arm when I was rising up the ranks of the Domestos bleach empire. Have you ever tried selling bleach for the man? It’s a bitch. If you keep selling yourself to your friends, you won’t end up anywhere, you’ll be flushed down the toilet, much like the aforementioned cleaning product. Harsh? Maybe, but grafters run fast, nice guys finish last. Other bleaches are available.
significant e-mail. What we found within were a collection of words which were confrontational, straight-talking and downright inspiring, capped off with the
Bloodhound Gang lover, 23, Basildon Denzil says:
Jim, 45, Coventry One phone call later, and Denzil had put our finances in order, had the workforce thought-showering like lunatics, and we were in possession of one motherfucker of a two-year development plan. We knew we’d found our man. Denzil Schniffermann: business guru, motivational speaker, life-coach, sexual athlete, and above all ... friend.
Denzil says: Denzil says: You sound like a man after my own heart. I’ve heard all that Barnt malarkey, those jokers in the Crack office have got it on every time I go and collect my monthly pay cheque. If I’d played any of that nonsense at one of my famed Denzil Discos I’d have been lynched. Either that or the attendees would have started throwing my M&S canapé selection all over the place. Either way, I’m not having this as music. You need a little father/son bonding time. Get those Jefferson Airplane LPs out and maybe sink a few low alcohol brewskoyevskis. Denzil 1 - Nonsensical Electronica - 0.
Jägerbombs? Oh dear. What were you wearing, a scruffy pair of trainers and a Superdry t-shirt? Remember Chris, you’re trying to impress a woman, not score lad points in front of Danny Dyer and Example. Take a leaf out of Schniiffermann’s book. On Easter Sunday you could find me dining in an up market French bistro with the company of not one, but two fine young ladies. The Cabernet Sauvignon we were sipping? I ordered it in the Gallic tongue. The music? A serenade from an accordion player, hired specifically for the occasion. Why do women love Schniiffermann? Because he understands them, that’s why.
// any problems? Contact Denzil@ crackmagazine.net
Across 5. Particularly sweet brand of apple (4,4) 8. Lynch’s Drive of dreams (10) 10. The Harrison-penned opening jam of Revolver (6) 11. In card games, the suit which beats the rest (5) 12. The Joy Division album which graces a million T-shirts (7,9) 16. Tobago’s mate (8) 17. A change in path/a distraction (9) 18. Bloody massive seabird (8) 20. Afro-Caribbean style of music (7) 21. American chatshow host Kimmel (5) Down 1. Father and son Tim and Jeff left behind some of the most beautiful music you’ll ever hear (7) 2. Jewish Christmas equivalent (8) 3. Seminal German fashion designer Karl (9) 4. Ice hockey team of kids’ film legend (6,5) 6. Psychedelic substance obtained from the peyote cactus (9) 7. First course with cured meats and salad and olives and shit (9) 9. Little kid (3) 13. Texas Chainsaw Massacre baddie (10) 14. An opening, hole or gap (8) 15. Kings of Leon share a smug facial expression, and also a surname (9) 19. Middle-class/Swiss breakfast of choice (6)
CROSSWORD Solutions to last issue’s crossword: ACROSS: 4. STEINBECK, 5. NIHILISM, 9. SCAFELL PIKE, 13. TRAMP, 14. ICEBERG, 16. RESTLESS, 17. JOHN TRAVOLTA 18. CANDY FLOSS, 20. NAUTICAL DOWN: 1. METROSEXUAL, 2. SNARE 3. SCRUMPY 6. BALTIC FLEET, 7. PUDDLE, 8. HOUSE OF LORDS 9. SUBTERRANEAN 10. KRAY 11. THE REVOLUTION 12. MADAGASCAR, 15. VEEP, 19. SCANDAL
FI LM WORDS: Tim Oxley S m i th
Dir. Lisa Barros D’sa & Glenn Leyburn
Dir. Danny Boyle
Dir. Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders
Starring: Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Dylan Moran
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone
Everyone’s a DJ. Even God is a DJ. But not everyone was a DJ in 1970s Belfast with the aim of bringing stricken communities together through a common love of music. Good Vibrations tells the tale of Terri Hooley and his search for peace through punk, brilliantly intertwining a man’s life, a love for music and an ultimate quest for harmony.
After celebrating what it means to be British in the form of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, channeling a grand collective identity into a performance of unimaginable proportions, it’s clear Danny Boyle was champing at the bit to burrow into the introspective and twisted corners of our minds, as opposed to a collective consciousness. Enter Trance.
Are DreamWorks Animation forever to linger in the shadow of Pixar? Yes. Yes they are. Especially when they keep sourcing their storylines, action sequences and comedic stylings wholesale from their rival studio. DreamWorks’ relationship to Pixar is akin to watching Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway when you could be watching Attenborough on the other side.
Richard Dormer plays Hooley – also owner of the Good Vibrations record shop and label, celebrated launching pad for the likes of The Undertones – with such a natural enthusiasm that Crack instantly fell in love with the figure in question, just as we’re meant to. Unashamedly and completely compelled by the ‘legend’ of this particular music biopic, the story is expertly and sensitively told by directors Lisa Barros D’sa and Glenn Leyburn, addressing the more raw contextual aspects of the setting with a subtle and accomplished flourish. Period aspects come via sumptuous soundscapes of radio and television broadcasts (good enough to work as stand-alone art pieces) and montages of the bloodied streets of Belfast, injecting an immediacy to the narrative being told and bringing into sharp clarity just how important a role this music played.
Trance is a neon noir heist movie merged with a psychological thriller, and though that sounds like a lot to take on, we’re safe in Boyle’s genrejuggling hands. Set in modern day London, the action unravels in dank decrepit warehouses and penthouse apartments lit by pool lights in equal measure. As for the psychological thriller dimension, the ‘thrill’ is not found in the way one would associate with the genre per se: the ‘thrill’ is in psychology itself.
The plagiarism is shameless, to the point where this could be a B-movie. It’s ripped off The Incredibles. In fact, it’s definitely ripped off Up! and Brave too, which is made all the more disappointing considering Archduke of Comedy John Cleese penned the original story. The cast ain’t too shabby either, with the dulcet tones of Emma Stone portraying the teenage girl who wants more from life. Nicolas Cage plays the daddy Crood, complete with a couple of decent trademark yelps, but overall we have yet another Hollywood megastar fall short of any real impact as a voice actor.
In all elements of the story – the man, the music and the mission – our hearts were sold. Good Vibrations radiates as much sheer love as it does more than competent film making. An instant classic.
The leading trio McAvoy, Dawson and Cassel blend and compliment each other’s performances, almost becoming a single, warped identity. Their characters’ journeys are scrambled from the word go; Dawson’s femme fatale morphs into a victim, McAvoy’s good guy spirals into the depths of masculine morality and Cassel’s signature sex-pest nuisance becomes a helpless knight in shining armour. Perhaps most intriguingly of all, these transformations are perceptions of reality. Trance is exactly the slow burner Danny Boyle’s filmography was screaming out for: slick yet unhinged, and welcoming comparisons to his Shallow Grave roots. So even though people in top hats rolling up grass and walking around in circles for three hours was pretty entertaining, Boyle’s right back on track, doing what he does best.
We can see the appeal to kids: Neolithic boneheads with extremely high pain thresholds sliding over jagged rocks, smacking their heads into cliff faces and running really, really fast without shoes on. You may think Crack are being a tad harsh on this harmless, brainless kids movie and that we could just let this one slide and lighten up. But if this movie ever comes into our eyeline again, we swear to immediately protest-watch The Incredibles followed by some Road Runner cartoons instead, just to prove Marsha from Spaced right: “why go out for a hamburger when you can have steak at home?”
Ice, S ea , De a d P e o p le Motorcycle Showrooms, Bristol | March 23rd Test Icicles once screamed “We could do with some more poison!” ... or maybe it was ‘noises’? Whatever it was, they were great, weren’t they? There should be more noise rock breaking the charts. As far as we can see, the only way that’ll happen is if it’s written and performed by incredibly good-looking young men in highly fashionable clothing who hang out in East London warehouses and take their cues from hipster experimentalists like AIDS Wolf and Lightning Bolt. Tonight we’re waiting for them to take the stage in a disused motorcycle showroom, currently a functioning art studio, in central Bristol, and the crowd are positively buzzing for these upstarts to hit the stage. As soon as they begin the crowd are all slack jaws and flailing limbs. The moment they stop someone in the crowd shouts something like “D’you know any Drowning Pool?” and the tone doesn’t get much more serious for the next 20 odd minutes of silly, stop-starty, math-rocky punk energy. Ice, Sea, Dead People have a silly name and a silly presence. There are inter-song references to everything from Magaluf to Chad Kroeger and the crowd warms to these skinny little shits in no time. The music is precision noise capable of making even the most hardened M.O.R fan thrash wildly and abandon all sense of respect for structure in songwriting. Ice, Sea, Dead People are young, dumb and full of noise, and they started a mosh pit in an art studio. A tip of the hat. ---------
© Benjamin R. Haizelden (email@example.com)
Words: Billy Black
O s t g u t T o n X 50 We a p ons
Am on Tobin
La Rondin e ( Opera Di P e ro n i )
We Fe a r S ile n ce w / Bo d d ika
The Coronet, London | March 28th
Hammersmith Apollo, London | March 8th
Paintworks, Bristol | March 27th
Cable, London | March 23rd
Picture the panic when this night’s chosen venue – the Peckham Palais – had its licence revoked just 12 hours before it was due to begin.
If this truly is to be the last offering of Amon Tobin’s mesmeric ISAM project, then Crack’s eyes are truly pissed off about it.
The cavernous Coronet might be London clubbing’s ginger step-child, but it does the job. Interestingly, this meant all the music was being hosted in a single room, so no clashes. It also meant, unfortunately, that producers who would headline elsewhere were forced into graveyard slots. Benjamin Damage and Addison Groove played diverse sets to a handful of chin strokers between 9pm and 11.30pm. Addison, in particular, judged the mood well with dub techno cuts accelerating into thick, synth-driven beats. Barker & Baumecker ceded momentum in favour of detail. Playing live, complete with wire-strewn modular synthesiser, their techno was stop-start, but always engaging. But it was the real overlords who best tackled the venue’s shortcomings.
It’s borderline impossible to assemble worthy adjectives to convey what a visual experience it is to watch Tobin’s stage-filling construction. Senses are heightened to such a degree that every transition is greeted with audible gasps. But this is ISAM, and ISAM is widely regarded as the best visual creation ever to grace electronic music. That side of it, bar a powercut, was never going to disappoint. Yet this wasn’t a gig without fault. The music on display displayed a lack of real clarity throughout. Tobin’s skewed beats, breakbeat and drum and bass informed the majority of proceedings, but the set never reached its peak. With much of the dubstep on display of the dubious, Skrillex-informed mid-range variety and seemingly no cohesion between the odd moments of intensity, you were left looking into an abyss. Admittedly, a beautiful looking abyss.
Billed as bringing opera to ‘new audiences’ (that’s you, Crack demographic), La Rondine is a modern reinterpretation of a Puccini Opera produced by pop-experimentalist Kwes and sponsored by Peroni.
As We Fear Silence celebrated four years as a London based platform for which artists, labels and collectives join forces in their pursuit of innovative sounds, Boddika was an obvious headliner.
Staged in a modern Italian apartment, which the audience were free to wander around at will, the young cast were accompanied by Kwes studiously making minor contributions on a midi-keyboard, and a quartet of musicians. The show told the story of starlet Magda, her lustful but ultimately doomed relationship and a series of romantic sub-plots revolving around her previous lover and her moneyobsessed friends. In short, it was a tale about love – the ecstasy and the pain. Ironically, given the amount of attention paid to the staging, modernising and production of the show, it was the raw, unamplified voices of the singers and swooping orchestral accompaniment that really had us transfixed. The crescendos that the full cast singing together achieved were ludicrously, heart-wrenchingly epic.
No gimmicks, no fluff, this was back-to-basics clubbing. Music was dynamic and challenging but the atmosphere felt familiar and nostalgic. Immediately discovering a main room full of people dancing to a well-focused and commanding set from Rinse veteran Braiden, we dived straight in. It was the same story in Room Two, where Shooting Horses, Spokes and DLVRY delivered a suitably high-calibre alternative. BNJMN stepped up armed with the melodic technotinged house which has positioned him as a unique innovator, while next act Dexter, representing the acclaimed label Rush Hour, took a slightly more accessible approach, while a top-notch selection with successive upbeat bangers fluctuated its way into something special.
Function’s Incubation is a difficult full-length to enjoy, primarily because it is so austere. Its austerity though, its icy textures and its subtle, absorbing bass drops were the perfect antidote to an imperfect audio set-up. Marcel Fengler, likewise, pulled out a memorable string of bangers. At 4.30am, Shed’s live should really have been a DJ set, but while Robert Hood’s sound gave out at the start, he came good to close the night out. Sometimes, a stellar cast can outshine its environment.
It’s always the danger when you have such an intensive visual aspect that the rest of the experience struggles to match the giddy heights of the sensory colossus alongside which it runs. Tonight there was a frustrating gulf between possibility and reality. ---------
Without wanting to diminish the part played by Kwes in putting the piece together, his role on the night felt a tad tokenistic, a little like an attempt to tick a box that didn’t need ticking. But cynicism aside, this was an innovative staging of an art form that, let’s be honest, most don’t give any attention to whatsoever.
Words: Thomas Frost
Enter Boddika: the man Alex Green who made up half of the legendary duo Instra:mental, His set was a raw, take-no-prisoners affair that encapsulated We Fear Silence’s forward-thinking mentality and bold intentions. in a blaze of meaty electro-tinged house music. Techno don Roman Lindau closed proceedings on what can only be described as an imagined ideal of a true clubbing experience come reality.
Words: Adam Corner
--------Words: Nick Johnstone Words: Claude Barbé-Brown www.crackmagazine.net
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THE SHACKLEWELL ARMS
71 Shacklewell Lane Dalston E8 2EB shacklewellarms.com -------------------------------Wednesday 3 April
FIELD DAY WARM UP PARTY : SPECTRAL PARK
-------------------------------Friday 5 April
-------------------------------Saturday 6 April
CLASH / BLACK ACRE ASPECTS
-------------------------------Thursday 11 April
NU SENSAE -------------------------------Saturday 13 April
HIPSTERS DON’T DANCE -------------------------------Wednesday 17 Apri
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NOBUNNY BAD SPORTS BONEYARDS
-------------------------------Weds 24 / Thurs 25 April
-------------------------------Wednesday 1 May
FIELD DAY WARM UP PARTY : AMATEUR BEST
-------------------------------Sunday 5 May
LAND OF KINGS
Mirrorrin g / Lo st Ha rb o u rs Yard Theatre, London | March 27th Practice Architecture’s Yard Theatre is a fitting venue for this show. Originally a pop-up arts space, its atmospheric appeal lies in the venue’s skeletal and exposed layout, thoughtfully constructed and immersive in its purpose whilst still being a fascinating structure in its own right. Southend’s Lost Harbours are a more than appropriate opener, plying a faintly monotonous line in pastoral ambience. Despite the extensive range of audible genre elements – from revivalist folk-rock tropes through to eerie Richard Skelton-esque acoustic drones – the duo’s sound is most comparable to Brad Rose’s North Sea project (albeit the hazy Americana of the much underrated Exquisite Idols rather his more harrowing forays into enveloping sheet noise), the more austere passages of Sun Kil Moon’s classical guitar-inflected Admiral Fell Promises, and Steve Malley’s incredible work under his Horse Loom guise. This, clearly, is a good thing. Atmospherically lit by a single candle, Mirrorring display a terse, considered and melodically dense approach to songcraft which borders on the sublime. Comprising Liz Harris and Jesy Fortino – of Grouper and Tiny Vipers fame, respectively – the collaborative project is overwhelmingly reminiscent of the former’s signature works. On deeper listening, though, it’s easier to draw sonic parallels with the more recent AIA set of records, adopting the same vein of lushly expansive ethereal swirl and soundscapes drawn from buried field recordings, heavily reverbed guitar and circular Wurlitzer piano lines. The latter is employed to great effect on the set-closing Mirror of Our Sleeping; the actual melodic line is oddly elative, though in the form of a skewed attic music box sense rather than the chilly, climactic sonority of Grouper’s Vapor Trails.
Though the pair split the fore over alternate tracks through the short set, it feels cohesive and resolute. At just over 40 minutes, Mirroring concisely displays two idiosyncratic artists finely honing their considerable skills, if not necessarily performing to the peak of them. ---------Words: Tom Howells
Yo L a T e n g o
Ul r i c h Schnauss
S p a ce Dime n sio n Contro lle r
Je ssie Wa re
The Ritz, Manchester | March 21st
Deaf Institute, Manchester | March 20th
Islington Mill, Manchester | March 23rd
O2 Academy, Bristol | March 12th
For most, Yo La Tengo need little introduction. The indie rock royalty’s discography, which ranges from acoustic ballads to monolithic sonic wipeouts, has been remarkably consistent since their mid-80s inception. Now they’re touring their 2013 release Fade, a collection of autumnal pop tracks layered with trademark harmonies.
Ulrich Schnauss is a German electronic musician celebrated for fusing ambient techno and broken beats with shoegaze and dreamy production. His music is compelling and intelligent, akin to a beat-infused Tangerine Dream, or a My Bloody Valentine who pursued the 90s dance scene a little further and ditched their guitars (can you imagine?).
Fresh from releasing his excellent debut fulllength Welcome To Microsektor-50, astral voyager Space Dimension Controller brings his live show to Manchester in order to close the FutureEverything festival’s summit.
In a 12-month period where Jessie Ware has been referred to as “the future” more times than that rapper who actually calls himself Future, the pressure and sense of expectation surrounding this bundle of sold out dates was impossible to ignore.
Playing beneath a canopy of carved theatrical awnings and disco balls, Yo La Tengo played two sets; one acoustic, the other electric, in a bold attempt to encompass their extensive style. Opening with Ohm, the acoustic set sailed along in a meditative manner, dipping between intense emotional balladry in Cornelia and Jane to the atmospheric Big Day Coming lifted from 1993‘s exceptional Painful. However, it was following the electric crossover that the band really nailed it, brutally kicking our ass with a savage contamination of Stupid Things, hurtled among cascading garage licks and full-blown noise freakouts, all beautifully counterbalanced against the clockwork-like stability of the band’s backbeat. Indeed, this laceration lasted a solid hour before finally easing off, drawing the night to a close with a cover of William Devaughn’s Be Thankful For What You Got, a fitting finale from a band so comfortable in their sound that, after over quarter of a century since their formation, they’re still riding high.
A true architect, Schnauss spent a lengthy period meticulously assembling his apparatus, preparing this thoroughly detailed blanket of engulfing ambience, nebulous melodies and invigorating rhythms. From the first synthesised chord of A Forgotten Birthday, Schnauss and his onstage partner were completely embedded in their instruments. Selections segued effortlessly into one another in a permanent wall of blissful electronica, whilst amorphous projections lit up the room. At times the volume was almost unbearable, but it only added to the richness of the beautifully-crafted sound.
Upon Schnauss’s return to the stage following setcloser A Ritual in Time and Death he mournfully announced that he’d blown a fuse, bashfully admitting “Maybe that last bit was a bit too loud”. But there couldn’t have been a better end to the show. To see such a humble and earnest musician reacting with such gratitude to rapturous and extended applause, Crack would pass on an encore any time.
Words: Alex Hall
If anybody should know about the shape the future will take, it’s Space Dimension Controller. Taking to the stage surrounded by an array of gadgets and gearboxes, he introduces himself as Mr. 8040, the time-travelling protagonist of his space opera records, here from 2357 A.D. to bring the funk to the Islington Mill. Mr. 8040’s set opens with down-tempo soft rock and cosmic disco chuggers, and builds upwards from there. Taking in sleazy electro and paranoid acid along the way, he stays in character throughout, occasionally adding narration and goofily rapping over tracks. The set ends with the ballistic P-Funk cut Welcome To Microsektor-50 leading into the Jonzun Crew-styled Space Party. It’s a climax of full-on lunacy, and proof that SDC’s charming rather than cheesy concepts are destined for the dancefloor. ----------Words: Selim Bulut
Album cuts such as Devotion and Still Love Me were instantly met with roars of familiarity. Ware’s hypnotising vocal isn’t showcased through Aguileraesque ad-libs, rather through simply owning each song. As the show went on, with Jessie paying her dues to Julio Bashmore in his hometown, her role in the landscape of modern commercial music became clear. Tracks like If You’re Never Gonna Move and Sweet Talk integrate sounds, tones and production values associated with cutting-edge underground music and embed them into radio-ready melodies, alienating no-one yet jeopardising not an iota of credibility. It’s still airtight dance music with flowing beats and slick unconfined breaks, but the choruses, hooks and songwriting are iconic and mature. When Ware performs lead single Wildest Moments, a streak of similarity to R Kelly’s track of similar themes becomes evident, just like Night Light bears a likeness to Prince circa-Lovesexy. There’s a sense of a pop connoisseur showcasing how such classic tropes can still be stunning in the right hands. -–-–-–-–-Words: Duncan Harrison
Words: James Balmont
BONOBO THE NORTH BORDERS Ninja Tune
JAVELIN HI BEAMS Luaka Bop
There is a pervasive myth about Bonobo – that he is a ‘slow burner’, an artist that the world has taken a while to warm to. But there’s a more prosaic explanation for why he has enjoyed greater critical acclaim later in his career: his albums have got progressively better. Black Sands showed a deeper, sharper and more confident style of production, and on The North Borders Bonobo’s progression has accelerated further still. Catchy, non-threatening and melodic enough to soundtrack a dinner party, yet layered with enough ideas and rhythmic, electronic soul to sustain much closer examination – that’s a hard trick to pull off. From the yearning opener First Fires, to the understated but majestic Cirrus, to the lolloping chimes of Ten Tigers, this is the sound of a man hitting his stride. And as much as Bonobo’s artistry has developed, the musical landscape has changed around him. With the sun long since set on the chillout genre, there’s no danger of a man in wraparound sunglasses enthusing about Bonobo soundtracking a hackneyed moment he never actually had in a beachside bar. These days, you’d file Bonobo next to the shimmying, punctuated flow of SBTRKT, or the lilting, percussive house of Falty DL – and that’s
Oh, electronic indie pop, will you ever hold a place in our hearts? There are so many bands that sound like Javelin already populating the charts and – we can only imagine – countless seedy New York dive bars, and if it weren’t for their sound being at least five years out of date they might actually be the best band in Brooklyn. The fact remains: it is and they’re not. Brooklyn counterparts French Horn Rebellion sound virtually the same as Javelin, albeit slightly less swirly, and Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo pulled out a surprisingly wonderful disco sleaze record (and a shitty, generally ignored college rock effort) with his band Head Automatica many, many moons ago. So, why this? Why now? Certain points of the album, notably Friending Revised, are catchy and fun, and these guys obviously know how to put a great tune together, but what can you really say about a band like Javelin in 2013? Ultimately, they’re just not that exciting. Hi Beams essentially feels like a bit of a waste of musicianship, to be placed firmly in your “will not remember in five years,” pile. BB
exactly the kind of top class company he deserves. AC
THE KNIFE SHAKING THE HABITUAL Brille
OUTER LIMITS RECORDINGS SINGLES, DEMOS AND RARITIES (2007-2010) Weird World
Despite the corrosive calypso of songs like Heartbeats or the seriously-goofy, goofilyserious vocal intonations on We Share Our Mother’s Health, the veneer of good times that glossed over previous Knife records was always just that; a thin layer of surface-level fun that masked the output of a group who made serious music that demanded deep and nuanced listening. On Shaking the Habitual Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer have produced a suite of songs that defy immediate categorisation. It eschews the perky electropop of Deep Cuts and the minimal clatter of Silent Shout, preferring nods to the primal ooze of US noise, free-improv jazz, stereo-scraping field recordings and gauzy ambient shiver. It’s certainly an ambitious record. Andersson’s vocals root the listener in a recognisably Knife-y context even when sparring with Africanesque polyrhythmic clanking (A Tooth for an Eye), propulsive rolling drums and reverberating clicks that melt into rotting post-rave arpeggios (Full of Fire) or the kind of sonically-swollen ambient-tundra that Tim Hecker’s stalked out as his own over recent years (Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized). It occasionally overreaches itself, the odd song extends itself beyond its own tangible scope, but for sheer ambition it’ll be hard to find an album to top it this year. Just don’t expect an easy ride. JB
Outer Limits Recordings is the now defunct alter-ego of the often-AWOL Sam Mehran, formerly of Test Icicles. If you’re thinking the timing of this release is slightly odd, you’d probably be right, Outer Limits’ releases whilst still operational made little impact. But one play of this record and you’ll excuse an explanation. With stunningly psychedelic, lo-fi power-pop tracks like Liberty, Digital Girls and Julie, you can’t help but be sucked in by the delirious charm of Mehran’s hookheavy songwriting. It’s Ariel Pink on (more) acid, plunged into a vat of aqueous digital effects and launched into space. Indeed, song titles like Mind Control, I’m an Alien, and WOTM (Walking on the Moon) paint a suitably surreal picture to describe the workings at hand, while Sugar Pie is like a glittery, hallucinogenic introduction to TV’s Fun House. The second half of this (admittedly exhausting) compilation stumbles somewhat, as it loses much of the flamboyance of the first half, as well as falling victim to the unavoidably disjointed nature of a compilation, though the occasional ‘80s sci-fi instrumental partially makes up for this. But overall the richness of the music on show is more than enough to make us mourn this sadly expired project. JTB
DJRUM SEVEN LIES 2nd Drop
HURTS EXILE Epic
Felix Manuel aka DjRUM is a UK producer with the right idea; that idea being the comprehensive welding together of atmospheric sounds that can also ignite a dancefloor with ease. The aforementioned first part is achieved with a sonic depth that harks back to Triangulation-era Scuba, while the second is wonderfully addressed through harnessing techno and two-step in an addictive bassy hybrid that hypnotises and pulses these tunes out of the realm of ambient and into heady danceable jams. The triple header of DAM, Arcana (Do I Need You) and Lies, the latter of which features the oddly-typed Shadwbx, and are slices of depthy, weighty two-step whose ethereal quality are never diminished or pushed to the back of the production despite the beat hypnosis. Flashes of classical instrumentation add even more to the production value, which reaches a zenith in the haunting and moving Anchors. 2013 is unlikely to grace us with a more richly rewarding electronic effort. TF
Hurts are about as gothic as Nicky Minaj and no amount of monochrome press shots, blood or song titles like The Crow, The Rope and Sandman are going to convince us this whole black charade hasn’t been dreamed up in the bowels of some record company high-rise. As they expel the lines “your broken headlamp lights your path to God” on The Road, the fact these two clowns are even attempting to impart any kind of evangelical wisdom is just downright insulting. The pompous stadium wank of single Miracle sounds like wacky Mylo Xyloto-era Coldplay, and the only thing that stops Somebody To Die For sounding like it’s plucked straight from the X Factor studio is the absence of a bunch of tasteless fuckwits giving it a round of applause at the end. The Rope sounds exactly the same until some bizarre rave sirens add a little Swedish House Mafia into the mix. But it’s the incessantly pseudo-prophetic lyrics that really wear you down. It reeks of a band trying to appeal to a base level audience who want to buy into a grand theme but can’t see past the front cover. Exile is the sound of a band plying 14 over-produced versions of Ultravox’s Vienna, and its inevitable success is nothing short of a travesty. TF
THE FLAMING LIPS THE TERROR Bella Union 17/20 The Flaming Lips were never the easiest of bands to like; overcoming the disparity between Wayne Coyne’s reedy voice, faux-naif lyrical platitudes and the faux-messianic appropriation of pseudo-religious iconography onstage was always difficult. Then there were the conceptual statements couched as albums – ‘look it’s a 24 hour song that comes in a skull shaped USB stick!’ And then there were the post-psych period records, albums content with flitting between over-egged, bug-eyed acoustic enthusiasm and illadvised semi-psychedelic-sorta-funk. With the kind of biographical information that Coyne’s been dishing out in the interviews that surround The Terror’s release – he’s recently separated from his long term partner and begun experimenting semi-heavily with drugs – it’s a surprise just how solid this album is. Yes, it’s lengthy. Yes, it’s engorged to the point of self-satisfaction with a desire to extend riffs, melodies, hooks, groove. Yes, it’s stoned beyond belief. But it’s genuinely great. It sprawls and undulates; thick washes of synths burble like vintage Tangerine Dream, Krauty chords stab in and out of the mix, Coyne’s voice is mercifully utilised as just another layer in the proggy labyrinth. It’s a record that’s inviting and enveloping – inviting enough sonically that it can support the 13 minute wandering of You Lust or the eight clanking minutes of the Esquivel-gone-psyche Butterfly, How Long It Takes to Die; enveloping enough atmospherically for the listener to sink into its dank-drenched depths. JB
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THE LEISURE SOCIETY ALONE ABOARD THE ARK Full Time Hobby
HOUSE OF BLACK LANTERNS KILL THE LIGHTS Houndstooth
An increase in the popularity of classicist pop records appears to be a reaction to mainstream music’s seemingly endless trot away from that which is pure, lovingly pored over and content in its own referentiality. An appreciation of ‘the song’ represents a push towards something pure and timeless as a form of traditional/ subversive substance. “Fuck you and your trap bullshit, man, I’m gonna listen to Rufus Wainwright.” That’s what we say. And why the devil not? The brainchild of Nick Hemming, formerly of She Talks To Angels (which famously counted Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine as members) Leisure Society’s creations are testament to meticulous songcraft. Bringing together folky melodies, quirky pop traits and even the occasional polite nod to soul sway, a shameless love for a delicious chorus cut through by a retro synth line could see them compared to the likes of Kotki Dwa, or perhaps, in their more grandiose moments (see the sublime The Sober Scent of Paper), a National-lite. While you won’t be phoning up your mate at four in the morning to tell them they have to hear this Alone Aboard The Ark record, you’ll certainly be slipping it on one afternoon and preparing to field endless questions about who it’s by. RB
Houndstooth, an offshoot of the Fabric imprint, ready their first release in the form of House Of Black Lanterns, aka Dylan Richards of King Cannibal fame. Menace characterises the majority of the material here, with an almost cinematic sense of foreboding occupying the underbelly, and in many cases the overbelly of a number of tracks. After promising opener Beg’s sinister techno voiceover and deep pulse, a number of tracks are let down by awful vocals, not least the two tracks featuring Leni Ward, Names and Shot You Down, which also suffer from this symptomatic ailment. Instead of using tone and lyrics to naturally unnerve, it feels as if the overproduction and themes have been purposefully placed to create as much foreboding as humanly possible, with almost every vocal hinting at something scary. In doing this, the record almost ends up mimicking itself. The album as a whole contains some promising musical ideas, with the futuristic footwork of You, Me Metropolis and the spacey warehouse techno of Rolling Thunder fine musical concoctions. But ultimately the sinister overtones feel forced. This is exemplified by final track Walls Are Closing In, where a vocal sounding like the killer from Saw repeats the title of the song to less menacing, and more comical, effect. TF
THE THERMALS DESPERATE GROUND Saddle Creek
CHELSEA LIGHT MOVING CHELSEA LIGHT MOVING Matador
Ok, it’s bold statement time: pop punk NEVER commands respect. There, we said it. But seriously, nobody ever looks to Mark Hoppus with the same sense of awe and reverence as they do, say, Robert Pollard or Lou Reed. The Thermals, in a sense, are a mould shattering band. Taking the simple energy of glam rock and tonguein-cheek lo-fi sound of mid 90s American college radio, they’ve been actively pushing their own highly influential brand of pop garage punk for over a decade now, and have turned the heads of more than a few “serious” music fans along the way. Desperate Ground is not a turning point for The Thermals. In fact, if it were we’d be disappointed. The Thermals chug through brilliant pop at a mile a minute and tracks like You Will be Free sound like instant classics, almost as if you’ve heard
After 25 years of marriage and three decades of conjuring the most effectual guitar noise ever made, it was announced in 2011 that Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore were separating, leaving the future of Sonic Youth uncertain. The group’s posthiatus solo projects have seen Kim push boundaries, Lee go all wholesome and Thurston mellow out. But fortunately, Moore still harbours an unyielding love for the same art-punk intensity his listeners have a fundamental thirst for. Chelsea Light Moving opens with Heavenmetal, a floppy haired, jangly indie-pop song fronted by Moore’s tender croak. But the mood of tranquillity is soon crushed by pulverising thrash riffs and brutal, distorted thunderstorm of Alighted. Thematically, the record is a collage of Moore’s infatuation with 60s countercultural figures. The band are named after a removal company set up by Phillip Glass and Steve Reich, while Roky Erikson, Frank O’Hara and iconic hippy murder victims Linda Fitzpatrick and James “Groovy” Hutchinson are explicitly referenced. This record has been criticised for its predictability, but by the time the climax of Burroughs arrives, and Moore and Keith Wood’s left arms scale the necks of their Fenders, furiously shredding the slimmest frets at an accelerated pace, a flush of adrenaline obliterates the ability to scrutinise. DR
it all before – a familiarity which never gets boring. Long live the old sound! BB
A For Austerity.
Illustration: Lee Nutland //// www.leenutland.com
Budgets can be a pretty dull affair for the uninitiated, even in the days when chancellors knocked back brandy and water, or sherry and a beaten egg. Still, for a political junkie there’s nothing more fun than watching a belligerent Tory government with its back against the wall. The government’s austerity plan lies in tatters. The UK growth forecast for 2013 has been cut in half on what was expected just three months ago, and we could be in a triple dip recession. When the Tories were elected they wanted to reduce government spending until the budget was balanced, at which point we could start paying off debt. They proclaim it as a sensible strategy, but it’s seriously problematic. In the last three decades, only two chancellors have run a budget surplus: Gordon Brown (played by a part-melted waxwork model) and John Major (played by the colour grey). Right now, the government owes a staggering 13-figure sum that’s running up like the water meter in the Soho Sweatbox. We spend almost as much paying the interest on debt as we do on education. And, in spite of the Tories’ austerity measures, the government is expected to borrow about £120 billion
this year. That’s the same amount we borrowed last year (unless you figure in the £100 million reduction which has been labelled “fiscally and statistically insignificant”) and roughly the same amount we’re going to borrow next year. Cameron said a few weeks ago that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had made it “absolutely clear” that external factors and not the deficit reduction plan were to blame for depressed growth. The OBR wrote back: “For the avoidance of doubt … tax increases and spending cuts reduce economic growth in the short term.” Even Tom Hanks’s paramilitary neighbour in The ‘Burbs (played by a bald Vince Cable) took time to point out that reducing capital spending is ineffective and that economic stimulus is needed. By this stage, Osborne and Cameron (who remains faithfully by George’s side like an obnoxiouslyforeheaded Eva Braun) appear to be pretty much the only two people left in the country who still believe austerity hasn’t impacted growth. The government’s Plan A economics have failed and it is too dogmatic to consider a change of course. First we were told the deadline for the austerity
programme had been extended from 2015 to 2017, and then to 2018, and now we find out the deficit could be running at 2.2% that year – by the time the Tories balance the budget Little Mix will be in the wrong side of 25, coming out of the coke-addled reality TV side of a solo career and working at a petrol station.
approval with the hunk of debt as large as it is and no growth? And why won’t the government revisit its strategy when it clearly isn’t working?
If you amalgamated all the coverage of this Osborneomics from the past three years it would run to a War and Peace-esque tome and read something like the dull retrospectives of an ex-junkie that repeats the same mistakes ad nauseam – think the first 400 pages of the Anthony Kiedis autobiography. The blame for the UK having weak-to-no growth placed on the price of oil, the weather, Labour, Europe and more. Those factors have played a role, but Osborne’s been pinned in by his own deficit-reducing rhetoric and a seemingly wanton desire to please ‘The Markets’: “You don’t get out of debt by borrowing more.”
It sounds like perfect sense, until you consider that the government’s income is directly linked to its expenditure. At the moment the UK can borrow money at such a low rate it’s negative in real terms. Clearly our interest rates could increase if The Market loses faith, but how long can we maintain their
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