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Zomby David Shrigley Fuck Buttons Talib Kweli Julia Holter Jagwar Ma Oliver Wilde ~

NILE RODGERS Ar t. M u si c . B ag $ .

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caLling for All our InterNatioNal fEstivAl trAvelleRs!

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CRAIG RICHARDS TERRY FRANCIS ALAN FITZPATRICK ALEX SMOKE presents WRAETLIC (LIVE) CHRIS MARAN COPACABANNARK (LIVE) DAN ANDREI DAN GHENACIA DJ T. DYED SOUNDOROM GEORGE FITZGERALD IVAN SMAGGHE J.B. JANE FITZ JENIFA MAYANJA JUS-ED KINK (LIVE) KLARTRAUM (LIVE) LE LOUP LEE RANDS LUCY LUKE SLATER LUKE VB & TIM RED MR C NADJA LIND NEVILLE WATSON NICOLE MOUDABER OF NORWAY (LIVE) PRASLEA RADIO SLAVE REBOLLEDO (PACHANGA BOYS) RHADOO SASCHIENNE (LIVE) SCOTT GRANT SEUIL SHONKY SILICONE SOUL SLAM THE BLACK DOG (LIVE) THE MOLE (LIVE) VADIM SVOBODA (LIVE)

www.fabriclondon.com

July / Aug


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Photographer | Ben Price http://cargocollective.com/benjaminpricephotography Featuring | Nile Rogers Hair & Makeup | Jess Cheetham thissisjess.co.uk

Respect Kate Hutchinson Jack Bolter Beckie Kinkead Alicia Friend Linda Evans Michael Eavis Emily Eavis Lloyd Parker Gideon Berger Sophie Heawood Executive Editors Thomas Frost tom@crackmagazine.net Jake Applebee jake@crackmagazine.net Editor Geraint Davies geraint@crackmagazine.net Junior Editor David Reed davy@crackmagazine.net

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For those who are cracked let the light in:

’s team got separated this month. Usually a resolute and sturdy unit, we were split up for a six-day period. Some headed off to Glastonbury, some stayed and manned the fort. OK, most went to Glastonbury. M

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Advertising To enquire about advertising and to request a media pack contact: advertising@crackmagazine.net

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

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Truth is, he was fine. A period of reflection, a little peace. A chance to catch up on those drone and black metal albums he’d been saving. And God, it was good not having to stick to the unwritten office behavioural codes. Shoes off, feet up. Making a cup of tea without having to offer and end up making a fucking dozen. Reheated pizza for lunch. Personal hygiene may have taken a minor hit, but who’s complaining? And as working week blurred into weekend, was there any mourning that his colleagues and friends were off on some kind of spiritual vision quest? Nah. Four cans for a fiver and a few games of themed Scrabble got him through Friday night. Wavves Scrabble was the best. He got ‘BONG RIP’ for 48 points (the rules are fairly loose). Saturday was swell. Watched Airplane! Totally forgot about the Stones. Yep. He had a lovely Sunday roast with a 2-for-1 voucher (there’s nothing unsexy about frugality). What, they’re watching Nick Cave? Never mind. He’s got the record. Arrived at the office four minutes early on Monday morning with a guilt-free conscience.

And then the minute they opened their mouths he crumbled, collapsed into a foetal heap, sobbed and groaned for an hour and a half. Poor bastard.

Fashion Paul Whitfield Marina German Valerie Benavides Mai Kodama

CRACK is published by Crack Industries Ltd

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And when the other lot returned from their pilgrimage, with their fat heads and their sinking guts and the stories eating them up, inboxes creaking with 500 e-mails apiece, he was sitting there; content, face shaved and grinning, workload organised and admin free. And he thought ‘yeah, I did it right, I’m number one.’

Film Editor Tim Oxley Smith

Illustrations Lee Nutland

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There’s an account from the Glasto lot in a few pages’ time. If you want to know how the other got on, here you go.

Staff Writer Lucie Grace

Contributors Christopher Goodfellow Robert Bates Josh Baines Tom Howells Adam Corner James T. Balmont Duncan Harrison Billy Black Nick Johnstone Joshua Nevett Rich T. Bitt T.C. Flanagan Jack Bolter Isis O’Regan Phillip James Allen Hulio Bourgeois

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OK, everybody went to Glastonbury except one person.

Marketing / Events Manager Luke Sutton luke@crackmagazine.net Art Direction & Design Jake Applebee Alfie Allen

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Geraint Davies

Crack has been created using: Julio Bashmore - Duccy James Holden - Blackpool Late Eighties Kanye West - Black Skinhead DJ Koze - Don’t Lose My Mind The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter Portishead - Machine Gun Cinema - I Love Men Beautiful Swimmers - Swimmers Groove Saine - Matte Swearin’ - Here to Hear Ricardo Villalobos - Dexter Dinosaur Jr - Freak Scene Ten Walls - Gotham Joseph Capriati - Fratello Foals - Spanish Sahara Todd Terje - Strandbar (Disko version) Cameo - Word Up The Cure - Lullaby Dense & Pika - Move Your Body Back The Rolling Stones - Wild Horses Don Caballero - June Is Finally Here

Arthur Russell - Hey! How Does Everybody Know Plattenbau - Dancing Hayden Thorpe & Jon Hopkins - Goodbye Horses Pixies - Bagboy Mark Lanegan - Flatlands Prurient - Through The Window Deafheaven - The Pecan Tree Leonard Cohen - The Partisan Blanck Mass - What You Know Lungfish - Eternal Nightfall Cold Cave - Underworld USA Minor Threat - I Don’t Wanna Hear It Arab Strap - Wasting Boat Club - All The Time Lady Skins - Trapped Nervous Jackson and his Computerband - Pump The Portillo Moment - St. Catherine’s Terekke - Amaze Terre Thaemlitz - Exhaltation (DJ Sprinkles Mix) Factory Floor - Work Out Ratcatcher - Marsupial Dreams

Abigail Wyles - Mantra Pale Angels - In The Sunset Allman Brothers Band - The High Cost of Low Living Gnod - Vatican Black Sabbath - Live Forever Sasha GoHard ft Lil Herb - Money All I See His Electro Blue Voice - The Path Tree - Most Successful Digible Planets - Dog It Lightning Dust - Fire Me Up OOoOO - The South Pusha T - Numbers On The Boards School Boy Q feat Kendrick Lamar - Collard Greens Protomartyr - Feral Cats Koreless - Never Smith Westerns - Soft Will Double Dagger - Supply/Demand No Age - C’mon Stimmung Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Stagger Lee These New Puritans - Fragment Two Portishead - Glory Box


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3 RECORDS // CONTENTS N ILE RODG ERS - 1 4

CRACKMAGAZINE.NET THE BEST Of OUR WEBSITE THIS MONTH

Chic Good Ti m es Da vid B ow i e Let’s Dance Da f t P u nk Ge t Luck y ZOM BY - 1 8 Zom by d e c lin e d t o offer 3 Re c o r d s

J U LIA HO LT ER - 2 2 Gu illa u m e de Ma c h a ut Le Voi r Di t La u rel H a l o Behi nd Th e G re e n Do o r Alice Co l t r a i ne Turi ya S i ngs FUCK BUT T ONS - 24

J OSE PH M A R I N E T T I C R A C KC A ST // Joseph Marinetti’s ultra silky yet heavily percussive sound recently saw him ink a deal with high-profile Glasgow imprint LuckyMe, who’ve released SWM, a polyrhythmic and bass-filled beat loaded with complex ideas yet still retaining dancefloor functionality. We’re thrilled he’s contributed this impressively up-front and boisterous house collection to our Crackcast series.

Boa rds of C a na da Ge og add i Bu r zu m Fi l osofem Jea n Mic h el J a r r e Ox yg ene

F R EE DO W N LO A DS / / Find our latest no-strings-attached freebies over at the Downloads page, with releases from Protomartyr and Mathew Jonson. Crosstown Rebels’ distinctive Jonson presents us with the seven-minute Balearic journey Left Behind the Mirror from the album of the same name. Detroit punk four-piece Protomartyr, meanwhile, serve up Feral Cats, taken from debut album All Passion No Technique on Urinal Cake Records, with frantic instrumentation and paranoid vocals defining a track that is equal parts cynicism and gravity. Get ‘em down you.

DAV ID SHRIGLEY - 2 6 T hee Oh Sees Fl oati ng Co f f in White Fenc e Cycl op s Re a p Ve ron ica F a l l s Wai ti ng F o r So m e t h in g To Ha p p e n OLIV ER WILDE - 36 S pa rkle h or s e Se a of Tree s Town s Mi rror Gho s t Simple K i d Love i s an E n igm a J AGWAR MA - 3 7 Ap hex Twi n IZ-U S T he Ha x a n C oa k Ex cavati o n Arthu r R us s el l Echoes TALIB KWELI - 45 Bu s ta R h ym es Twerk It Da f t P unk Ge t Luck y Ka n ye Wes t Ne w Sl aves

W I N T W O T I C K E T S T O B ES T I V A L // Boasting a customarily exceptional and eclectic line up, Bestival 2013 hosts Elton John, Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan and our cover star Chic / Nile Rodgers, as well as UK festival exclusives from M.I.A, The Flaming Lips and The Knife. That’s plus the usual array of formidable dance acts including Richie Hawtin and Hot Natured Live at the tip of the iceberg. The year’s theme is HMS Bestival, with revellers set to jump aboard the good ship Robin Hill Park from 5th-8th September. For a chance to make waves at Rob Da Bank’s annual Isle of Wight affair, enter our competition by answering the following question: Who of the following will not be appearing at Bestival? a) Elton John b) Jack Johnson c) Jamie Jones E-mail your answers to competitions@crackmagazine.net marked with the subject BESTIVAL.

www.crackmagazine.net

B LOG: P R S W O M E N I N M U SI C / / In light of our discussion on the Nina Kraviz debacle in last month’s issue, Crack went down to London’s plush Red Bull Studios for the PRS Women In Music event. The event heralded a mission statement of bringing together key women from across the music business to debate the role of gender within the industry. Heading the panel was Vice columnist Sophie Heawood along with Warp composer Mira Calix, Radio 1 presenter Gemma Cairney and many more sassy industry professionals talking out personal and widespread accounts of the glass ceiling. Head over to our blog to read an equally personal and pressing overview of the event.


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Th underca t XOYO 10th Ju ly M

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CRACK MAGAZINE HOST EL SALON AT WE LOVE...SPACE

PARDON MY FRENCH Nils Fr ahm St Jo hn a t Hac kney 11th Ju ly

CITY

WLT Green M a n C ra c k H os ts El Sal on

J ustin Tim ber la ke Olympic Park 12th Ju ly

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CRACK IBIZA PT. 1

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Space, Ibiza July 28th + August 25th

Kings of Convenience, Band of Horses, The Horrors, John Cale, Patti Smith, Fuck Buttons Black Mountains, Wales M A G A Z I N E August 15th-18th £145 + BF

Crack is delighted to announce our first parties on the White Isle. On two separate dates we’ll be hosting the El Salon room of the legendary Space club for We Love’s renowned Sunday events. Joining us for part one of this Balearic bonanza are our trusty residents Pardon My French and WLT. Keeping the vibes drastically real of course, we’ll be dancing til dawn before hitting the beach. Elsewhere in the club you’ve got the likes of Miss Kittin, Derrick May, DJ Hell, Ivan Smagghe, Oxia and Skudge. On August 25th we’ll be back with Alfresco Disco’s Lukas for a We Love party which includes George Fitzgerald and Tiga plus Jimmy Edgar & Machinedrum’s live project JETS. Get on a plane, hunt us down.

God, Green Man’s great, isn’t it? Ever year it beckons you to the lush Welsh countryside, presenting the most superbly curated line-ups in this unique pastoral setting. This year’s headline sets include a rare UK outing from the glittering folk-pop gems of Kings of Convenience as well as Seattle’s Southern rock troubadours Band of Horses, while the likes of the legendary Patti Smith and John Cale, electro drone titans Fuck Buttons and the dizzying doom-country majesty of Swans all join with a common goal: of morphing your mind in the midst of the Black Mountains.

Wak a Flo ck a Flam e XOYO 13th Ju ly

Rh ado o fa bric 13th Ju ly

Rich ar d Hawley So merset H ouse 14 th Ju ly

F a rm f e s t

Beaco n s Fe stival

Gilcombe Farm, Somerset Ghostpoet, Crazy P Soundsystem, Thumpers, Art Brut July 26th + 27th £50

Django Django, SBTRKT (DJ), John Talabot, Savages, Fucked Up, Theo Parrish b2b Andres Heslaker Farm, Skipton August 16th-18th £99.50 + BF

Farmfest formed eight years ago as an intimate event between friends in a Somerset sanctuary. And despite going from strength to strength each year, the festival has stuck to its manifesto, remarkably resisting big brand sponsorship and inflated prices while remaining family friendly during the day but emphasising a wild party atmosphere by night. Alongside a roster of good vibe-generating DJs, there’s a line-up of live acts which includes Typesun, Thumpers, Mt.Wolf, art-punk satirists Art Brut and the hugely popular electro raconteur Ghostpoet. For those who value a quality-over-profit ethos, Farmfest should be seriously considered.

OK, so the marvellous Solange may have succumbed to her maternal instincts and parred the lot of us, but that was just a small blip on a festival which offers one of the most rounded and current line-ups on the calendar. Ms. Knowles’ replacement is SBTRKT, still amongst the most exciting figures on the UK circuit, while the likes of Eats Everything, John Talabot, James Holden, Floating Points and Theo Parrish b2b Andrés amount to an electronic line-up which perfectly treads the line between crowd pleasers and critical acclaim. With live performances including Fucked Up, Savages, Django Django and Julia Holter, this looks set to light up the rolling dales of Skipton.

www.crackmagazine.net


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M i nd E nt e r pr i s e s T he Wai t i ng R oom 16t h Jul y

Fra n k Oce a n

Fa rr Fe stiv a l

Brixton Academy

Bygrave Woods, Herts

9th & 10th July

19th July

C l e an B andi t XO Y O 17t h Jul y

Po i n t s o f D e p a r t u re Vi s i ons Festiva l

ICA Until July 21st Free This exhibition series illuminates and elaborates upon narratives that respond to urgent contemporary questions around nationalism and identity, history and place. Within these concepts the series explores the phenomena of liminality, of new perspectives when one’s sense of identity is diffused. The exhibition will take on a collection of artists who initiated their show with eight-week research residencies in the UK and Palestine, covering the conceptual plateau emanating from these cultural melting pots. Delfina Foundation, ICA, ArtSchool Palestine and the British Council will be among the list of contributors to the Points of Departure sessions.

!!!, Fucked Up, Iceage August 10th Various Venues £25 Put together by a team of London indie promoters who definitely know what they’re doing, this new all day music event will take place across three venues in the Hackney area: Netil House, The Oval Space and New Empowering Church. Ticket prices are super reasonable, with a line-up that includes Cloud Nothings, !!!, Iceage, The Haxan Cloak, Fucked Up, Still Corners, the much hyped, lonely hiss-pop newbie Jackson Scott and Micachu, who’s most commonly known for fronting The Shapes, but will be unveiling her new project with the mysterious Tirzah.

T h e T h e rma ls

S h a n g a a n E le ctro Gillett Square, Dalston / Hoxton Street Market July 13th/14th With an arsenal of unique sounding 180 BPM club tracks and a hyperactive range of moves to pull to ‘em, the South African Shangaan Electro collective took the world by storm in 2011 with their warp speed dance phenomenon. Members of the Shangaan Electro crew – including producers Nozinja and the masked Tshetsha Boys, plus vocalists Tiyiselani and Nkata Mawewe – are now providing dance workshops for those who’ve admired their incredible moves on YouTube. Got two left feet? Well, there’s no need to feel intimidated, because the crew are promising to teach “dancers of all ages and abilities”.

C om Tr ui s e O l d Q ueen's H ead 17t h Jul y

No Ceremony Tri ni t y Cent re 18t h Jul y

The Garage 23rd July

Ap o l l o nia Fabric July 20th £10-25

D ar k D ar k D ar k H ox t on Bar & Ki t chen 19t h Jul y

Parisian label and DJ collective Apollonia is comprised of Dan Ghenacia, Dyed Soundorom and Shonky – three prominent figures in the sphere of groove heavy, sunshine drenched house. Collaborators and close friends, together they take their name from one of Prince’s many muses while deriving some of his 80s style. Coinciding with the release of their take on Fabric’s iconic mix series, one that intertwines their own specially made productions with classic deep house, the trio will celebrate at the club alongside Nicole Moudaber, Alan Fitzpatrick and The Black Dog live in Room 2.

SUNDAY 21ST JULY

P R E S E N T A S TA G E AT L O V E B O X

JON HOPKINS HYETAL (LIVE) GABRIEL BRUCE CHLOE HOWL

D ime n sio n s L a u n ch Pa rt y

FEAR OF MEN ROSCIUS MOKO IDLES

Kyle Hall, Funkineven, Portico Quartet, Gilles Peterson XOYO July 12th £12.50

JOEY FOURR

Cra ck Stage at Lovebox Atom s F or Peac e Roundhouse 24th, 25th & 26th July

J o h n n y Fly n n Tabernacle, Notting Hill July 18th £15 adv. Part-time actor, part-time folky swooner, Johnny Flynn’s work – mostly alongside his band The Sussex Wit – occupies a space which is rustic, organic and distinctly English, creating something far more authentic than the galling peers who populate David Cameron’s iPod. After two years away from the live scene, this short solo tour is a precursor to larger festival shows with his full band, so represents a fine opportunity to catch a long-tipped prospect up close.

Sunday July 21st Victoria Park Day ticket £55, Three Day pass £99 We’re proud to be involved with Victoria Park’s epic weekender this year, and sorry to sound smug, but we’re pretty chuffed with the line-up on the Crack stage. On Sunday we’ll be hosting performances by Jon Hopkins, whose stunning album Immunity is likely to make the top ten of many publications’ ‘best of ’ lists when the year comes to a close, a live set from synth experimentalist Hyetal, Gabriel Bruce, Chloe Howl, Fear Of Men, Roscius, plus Bristol’s premier post-punk outfit Idles and newcomers such as the London R’n’B singer Moko and the scuzz pop project from ex-Tubelord frontman Joey Fourr. And if there’s any time between these sets, we might just sneak off to try and catch the likes of Lil’ Kim, DJ Harvey and Factory Floor, who all play the same day.

www.crackmagazine.net

Dimensions returns to Croatia to showcase the deeper end of the electronic music spectrum for a second year. And in celebration XOYO are throwing a launch party which includes a cherry picked selection of acts from the festival’s line-up. Joining forces are Kyle Hall and Funkineven, Detroit nu-breed and young London tastemaker respectively who together form unequivocally cool duo Funkinevil. Also on the bill is a live set from Portico Quartet, who scored the #3 spot on Crack’s top albums of 2012, and our pick of the BBC crop, the legendary Gilles Peterson.

He ssle A u d io fabric 2nd August

P i l l owTal k XO Y O 19t h Jul y

C ocor os i e & Yout h L agoon Barbi can 2 0t h Jul y

N e w B ui l d Concret e 2 3 rd Jul y


GhoSTpoET | ArT BruT | BLACK STroBE rEEpS oNE | SoN oF DAvE | MT. WoLF ThE LovELy EGGS | GrAMME | BABEShADoW NIMMo AND ThE GAuNTLETTS | ThuMpErS ShoT ThE MooN | Mr WooDNoTE | LAID BLAK CrAZy p SouNDSySTEM | Dj DIE LuKE uNABoMBEr | LEFTSIDE WoBBLE ChICKEN LIpS | Dj WooDy’S Av ShoW LouIS LA roChE | TypESuN LIvE

STAGES AND TENTS By CIVILISATION OF THE ROuGH uNdERGROuNd dISCO | HIGHGRAdE ROCKERS duB SOuNdSySTEM THE BATTLEGROuNd SOMERSET TALENT TENT | FARMFESTIVAL PRESENTS: THE dEN ACOuSTIC SHACK 2 DAyS oF MuSIC oN A FArM NEAr BruToN, SoMErSET TuRN-uP & PLAy ACOuSTIC SHACK, BEST HAT IN SHOw COMPETITION & PARAdE, HAT ENFORCEMENT PATROL, BALLON HAT MAKING, HAT BOOTH, CIRCuS SCHOOL, KIdS ARTS TENT, KIdS dISCO, PARTy & MAGIC SHOw, COuNTRy GAMES, PuNCH & judy, INFLATABLE ASSuLT COuRSE, FARMER wRESTLING, CHILL-OuT AREAS, STALLS GALORE, LOCAL CIdER & ALE, VEGETARIAN FOOd & ORGANIC MEATS, FREE CAMPING & PARKING

Illustration by John C Thurbin

pLuS MANy MorE ACroSS 4 LIvE STAGES & 3 ThEMED Dj TENTS THE FIRE BENEATH THE SEA | IVAN CAMPO | ONE SHOT | OH! GuNquIT | THE STANdARdS | ALL uS AuTHORS THREE KINGS HIGH | THE FLAMENCO THIEF | FRANCIS & BOyd | AFRICA ENTSHA | I.THIS.yES | HARTING MORIARTy | MOSCOw yOuTH CuLT | ICH BIN FINN | dROPBEAR | THyLA | THE uKES OF HAzARd | THE IdOL RICH | SKIMMITy HITCHERS | THE GO GO CuLT | Ay duCANE | dj LOuIE LOuIE | SLATTERNLy | MISHIMA dR FISH | FARMFESTIVAL djS | PAuLO FERNANdEz | THE quINTESSENTIAL SOuNdSySTEM

FARMFESTIVAL SOMERSET 26-27 JULY 2013

LIMITED £50 WEEKEND TICKETS LEFT! farmfestival.co.uk crackmagazine.net

puNChING ABovE IT’S WEIGhT IN AN INCrEASINGLy CroWDED FESTIvAL CIrCuIT Crack Mag

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13

NEW MUSIC

His Ele ctro Blue Vo ice C h e s t e r E n d e rs b y G w azda Despite only now releasing his debut album, Baltimore-based Chester Endersby Gwazda's work may have already graced your ear-holes. The 28-year-old spent his formative years travelling America, producing records and making friends, working on albums from Dan Deacon, Future Islands and Cloud Nothings. But stepping into the spotlight with his own eight-track Shroud made perfect sense. “Like many people who work behind the mixing desk, I started out as a musician”, he tells us. “When I was in bands as a teenager, it was always about making tapes. I was never a great musician, but I loved the recording process. I started working with other bands because I couldn’t write my own songs fast enough. Shroud came about because I finally hit my stride as a songwriter.” Set for release via Upset the Rhythm this month, it’s an engrossing 17-odd minutes. At times it forms a polyrhythmic soup, where headily percussive tracks collide with richly harmonised vocal lines, make acquaintance then skitter off in intangible directions, and sits alongside the best eccentric, textured pop music of his hometown. Chester is quick to acknowledge that fertile scene’s influence on him. “The first tour I ever went on was with Dan Deacon, and about a week of it was with Art Lord, the band that would become Future Islands” he recalls. “It set my course. Two years later I hit the road again, this time as a producer, recording music with bands up and down the East Coast. That wouldn’t have happened without Dan Deacon or Future Islands. I think we’re all growing together. Making records and touring are both collaborative, and those involved share in the lessons that they bring.”

P ro b le m

Don’t let the name fool you; this Italian noise-rock outfit make pretty much the opposite sound you’d expect. Songs are smothered with layers of fuzzy shoegaze FX, but instead of sinking into a stoned, droopy eyed stupor, HEBV keep up an intense velocity due to a wired rhythm section and screamed, euphoric rally cries reminiscent of late 90s/early 00s Dischord post-hardcore. After appearing on the Sub Pop 1000 compilation, the legendary Seattle label made the excellent decision to release His Electro Blue Voice’s debut album, which is promisingly titled Ruthless Sperm. It’s out in August, and we’re happy to predict that it'll be fucking awesome.

After hopping on West Coast legend E-40’s club-banger Function last year, it seems like the spotlight began to turn in the direction of Problem. About time too, because the Compton native first inked a (admittedly ill-fated) deal with Universal in 2008, has ghost-written for three Snoop Dogg albums and, as a father of five, is no spring chicken either. This year, Problem has mastered an ultra-explicit, hedonistic and distinctly Californian brand of party rap on a collaborative project with IamSu! and on his mixtape The Separation, which even included a few sober tracks, suggesting there’s more to Problem that meets the eye.

hiselectrobluevoice.bandcamp.com

twitter.com/ItsAProblem

Tune: Sea Bug

Tune: Like Whaaat

File Next To: Husker Du | Wooden Shjips

File Next To: E-40 | Tyga

chesterendersbygwazda.com Tune: Debbie’s Downer File Next To: Gardens and Villa | Panda Bear

Heartbeat(s)

Do rn ik

Protomart yr

Since the transnational duo LOL Boys called an indefinite hiatus last year, the group’s LA-based half Jerome LOL has been has been relentlessly prolific, and after gradually throwing out a series of tracks, Canadian based member Markus Garcia presents Home Remedies, his debut album as Heartbeat(s). The record features heavy Chicago and Detroit house influences, and although there’s an unpolished mixtape feel here, Heartbeat(s)’ hypnotic tracks manage to drift deep while still shimmering on the surface.

From the roster of Detroit’s excellent Urinal Cake Records come Protomartyr. The motor city four-piece deal in the kind of greasy riffage you’d expect from the imprint, and they’ve been compared to late-era Black Flag, while we’re hearing similarities to Pennsylvanian sick fucks Pissed Jeans. Once you’ve revelled in the awesome sonic assault they conjure up on new album No Passion All Technique, on closer listening you’ll get hooked on the smart storytelling skills and brilliantly sardonic humour of vocalist Joe Casey.

soundcloud.com/heartbeat_s

facebook.com/protomartyr

Tune: (We) Knew All Along

Tune: Too Many Jewels

File Next To: Traxx | Svengalisghost

File Next To: Terrible Twos | Pissed Jeans

When we interviewed Jessie Ware last year, she couldn’t say enough nice things about her new drummer Dornik. The hybrid-named (his parents are called Dorothy and Nick) sticksman has just nailed his debut gig with the band at Field Day, and now emerging as a solo artist, Dornik has been thrown in the deep end once again. After dropping just one track via PMR (the label home of Ware, Disclosure and Julio Bashmore), he’s already been showered with praise by the international press. So what’s the hype all about? Well, Something About You is a gorgeous RnB track that showcases Dornik’s ultra smooth voice over a tastefully retrofuturistic sound palette. The track’s wholly fitting artwork, created by Crack’s design team, looks – if you don’t mind us saying so ourselves – pretty damn sexy.

L u xu r y Croydon-based Andy Smith is no stranger to the amorphous musical sphere. Having collaborated with a variety of acclaimed electronic and organic artists from the tender age of 16, his musical past is both fascinating and richly varied, and yet the humble and secretive artist makes no big deal of having written music with chart-topping and iconic musicians. With Luxury, Smith chooses to sever his vibrant roots and offer, instead, a fresh creation of beautifully melodic and exotic electronica that needs no history to sustain it. The personal works he offers us here paints a thousand colours in tantalising and stimulating sub-tropical dance music. With such rich and flavoursome tracks, Luxury looks like a truly exciting prospect for the latter half of 2013. facebook.com/luxurymusicuk

soundcloud.com/dornik Tune: Faith Tune: Something About You File Next To: Four Tet | Teebs File Next To: Miguel | Disclosure

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14

NIle

© Nile Rodgers

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rodgers


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WO R D S Rob e r t B at e s

SITE n ilero dgers.com

TUN E S pacer

C rack spent an hour with N ile R odgers: disco maestro, arch collaborator, and the world’s most successful musical mood - improver

We’re in the meeting room of a hotel. It’s one of those affectedly grand conference rooms designed to impress symposia delegates and corporate functionaries. It doesn’t much impress us. The floor is besmeared with a fecund-green (tiled) carpet punctuated by blotches of dried-on gum. From a low (tiled) ceiling hang spent-looking strip lights, scattering shafts of harsh orangeyellow onto beige plastic tables made, unconvincingly, to look wooden. They buzz like the stridulations of angry crickets. Some chairs in half-arsed, furtive little stacks line the edge of the room. It reeks of PowerPoint presentations. There are no windows. Seemingly unaware of this scene’s pseudo-literary potential, Nile Rodgers breezes in, cheerily, and punctures the lofty music journalist musings clogging up his vibe with a broad smile and outstretched hand: “Hi, I’m Nile”, he says. Born in the Bronx in 1952, Nile Rodgers has led (and still leads) a fascinating life. His autobiography, Le Freak, details his struggle-filled, itinerant childhood and teens. He moved often, and his parents, friends and he himself all became addicted to hard drugs. In the midst all this rootlessness, music emerged as a constant support. He mastered several instruments, eventually choosing the guitar as his main form of expression. He got his first break playing on Sesame Street, later working at The Apollo and then forming, with Bernard Edwards, the band that would epitomise disco: Chic. Throughout the 70s, the hits – Le Freak, We Are Family, Good Times – kept coming for Rodgers & Edwards until Chicago shock jock Steve Dahl catalysed a backlash with his ‘Disco Sucks’ movement. Dahl (and, it must be said, many others) had two problems with disco: one, disco was ‘gay’; two – worse – it was ‘for’ people of colour. Against a backdrop of racism and homophobia, disco was derided out of the clubs and charts.

interviewee. We came into this encounter grumbling about decor; we left revelling in his Madonna anecdotes. Perhaps, then, his achievements have less to do with what he isn’t – pretentious, ‘ironic’ – and more about what he is: the world’s most successful musical mood-improver. In this, our Great Recession, we need people like Rodgers more than ever.

You’ve got a pretty relentless schedule. How do you keep that going? Well, I do a reasonable amount of exercise, I try and eat as well as possible ... see, I had a problem ... [laughs] ‘had’ a problem with cancer. Regardless of what the doctors say, music has always been a sort of saviour to me. It’s always helped me through the worst times of my life. I wrote a song, that we gave to Sister Sledge, called Lost in Music. If you listen to the lyrics of that song, that’s my philosophy. My ex-partner and I, Bernard Edwards, used to say every day to each other “we’re lost in music”. You could listen to those lyrics and that’s the answer to that question. It’s 100% of my life. Getting up on that stage, freezing cold, travelling like crazy – I just wanna be on that stage. Yeah, I read your biography Deep Hidden Meanings and that’s something that really came across: commitment and drive. I find that it gives me balance. So many people are going on and on about the success of Get Lucky, and believe me, no one appreciates having number one records more than myself. But when you see me relatively nonchalant it’s not because ‘I’ve had so many of them’ or anything, it’s because I have to stay balanced. Anyway, I’m ten times more happy for Daft Punk than I am for me – they’re in the history books! I’ve been in the history books a number of times; people just don’t know it! [laughs]

parents were heroin addicts – so to me, when I hear a song called China Girl, it’s clear as a bell: it’s heroin and cocaine. ‘China’ means ‘China White’ (heroin); ‘Girl’ means coke. And I figure: David doesn’t want to be that obvious, so he calls it ‘China’ and ‘Girl’. I just knew that was what the song was about, but I couldn’t ask him about it because he was so adamant about being sober — he had a tattoo and stuff, y’know; how could I talk to him about speedballing? So I just made it up. I made up my own reality [for that song]. Even after all this time, we’ve never really spoken about it. He knows I’ve spoken about it, but he’s never called me up and said, “Nile you were right! It was about speedballing!” ... or he may have said “you idiot, that’s completely wrong!” [laughs] But I can’t work without clarity. If I don’t know what the song means, how the hell am I gonna transmit it to you? Do you always try and get the lyrics first then? Nah, it doesn’t make much difference. As a composer, instrumental music is really important to me. Sometimes, with instrumental music, it’s actually more important for me to understand someone’s meaning because it’s not quite so clear. If you’re doing film-scoring, you can look at the pictures and it’s pretty obvious. But when you’re working with an artist, and say they’re writing a song but haven’t quite focused on the lyrics yet, I wanna know if they actually know what they’re thinking about before I see these lyrics or hear them. Lots of cities are proud of their music, and Bristol’s one of them. How does it compare to all the other places you’ve been? It’s funny – I had no idea so many people I really like and have great relationships with were either from Bristol or had gigged there the day before, like Seth Troxler. And Eats Everything – I had no idea he was a Bristol dude. We just made a new song together, and he gigged that day! 

I’m glad you mentioned Daft Punk - how did that come about? Rodgers and Edwards continued to produce until they disbanded in 1983. Fortunately for us, Nile went on to forge one of the most successful production careers of anyone, ever, helming the records of Madonna, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Bryan Ferry, Michael Jackson and many others. Rodgers and Edwards eventually resumed touring after patching things up in 1992, but tragically, Bernard Edwards died of pneumonia in 1996, and after his own recent battle with cancer, Rodgers perhaps sees it as his duty to honour their legacy. Given the phenomenal success of his recent collaboration with Daft Punk, Get Lucky, it seems he’s bent on creating new ones too. What explains Rodgers’ enduring career? Rodgers is free of two things that often ruin people’s enjoyment of music: firstly, pretentiousness (as in the first paragraph of this introduction); secondly, specious ‘irony’ (as in the second). He genuinely, truly, lives for music. What did he do after beating cancer? He hit the road, of course, hard as ever, and now works with just as many other musicians as before – perhaps more. The evening before our interview, Chic had headlined Bristol’s Love Saves Sunday festival in spectacular fashion, though their set was cut short due to a late start. They’d been stuck in Monte Carlo, you see, and were forced to soundcheck in front of around 5,000 people. This hectic schedule is what we talked about first. Collaborations, Deep Hidden Meanings, The Hitmaker and an hour later, we’d only covered a fraction of what we could have. Rodgers is a garrulous, vivacious

Well, we met 17 years ago, around the time they released their first album. It was really interesting for me to hear a band sampling a lot of my stuff, or that of others I liked, and using it in a creative, new way. Others were just sampling; using the older stuff as the complete basis for their own material. These guys were different. I felt an affinity with Daft Punk. It’s not like I’ve ever been ‘famous’. When we were younger, we were sorta like Daft Punk – anonymous. That was the whole thing about Chic. We called it the ‘Chic Mystique’. We wanted everyone to love our music, but we didn’t want everyone to know what we looked like. We had a whole made up image that was good enough for a few pictures and concerts but otherwise ... [laughs]. ‘Chic Mystique’ – there’s another phrase I read several times in your biography. Could you explain that a little? I’ve never written a song in my life that was fiction – ever. I write nonfiction with fictional elements. Every song has its basis in reality. So when I write music, I understand exactly what’s happening because it’s all ‘right there’. I feel I can’t do anyone else justice [as a producer] unless I understand what they’re talking about. I remember working with David Bowie on a song called China Girl. At the time, Bowie was sober, and I didn’t want to talk to him about drugs and stuff overtly. I come from a super-druggy background – my www.crackmagazine.net

You mention Seth Troxler and Eats Everything – what do you think of today’s dance music? I’ve always loved dance music. The one thing I’ve never done, though, is try to, as they say in hip-hop, ‘perpetrate’; I’ve never tried to be a part of something I don’t naturally feel a part of. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it, just that I won’t play on it! A little over a year ago I started working with different artists. What I’ve done is say, ‘that’s what you do, this is what I do’. I think it helps create respect and a good working relationship. Chase & Status are a great example. To them I said, “you’re mainly drum and bass, so why don’t you do all the bottom stuff, and I’ll do all the top stuff ”. Now, that was a little weird for me, because I consider myself pretty good at the bottom stuff. But you’ve gotta respect what your collaborator does so that they can do what they do and you can do what you do best. So you’re still learning? For sure. I don’t work with people I don’t respect and everybody I respect can always teach me something. With the first session I had with Avicii, I had brought my whole team – they’re all highly accomplished musicians – and afterwards we were like, “did we just witness what we just witnessed?!” ... I’m not trying to gas him up here but the dude just absorbed all their knowledge, it was amazing. I’d be saying things like,


16

www.crackmagazine.net

© Diego Paul Sanchez

“ After just

had

song

“alright we’re gonna play a minor with a natural seventh, going to a seventh, going to a sixth” and he’s saying “OK, what exactly is that note?” Next thing I know he’s right in there with us. He retained it all.

they hadn’t booked me for [Clapton’s festival] Crossroads; well, it was probably because, years earlier, Eric had told him, “Nile’s a complete asshole”! Hopefully I’ll play the next one.

To go back in time a little, what was it like working with Bernard Edwards?

Has anyone been a bit ‘trickier’ than the other artists you’ve collaborated with?

It was actually the same type of thing. Every working relationship I’ve had is a slight variation on the one I had with Bernard: total respect, listen to each other, but fight for your ideas, and whichever idea wins is always gonna be the better one. Working with Avicii was like working with Bernard was like working with Daft Punk ... actually, that was a little different. Usually, I’ll be the first one to come up with ideas. But they rang me up and said “We have a song we want you to play on”, meaning just one. After we did that song, we just had so much fun that one song turned into two songs into three songs ... a while later and I was like “Dudes, I’ve gotta go! I got another job!” [laughs]

[Long pause] ... two things on that: Sister Sledge and Madonna, but we worked through both. We’d never met [Sister Sledge] before they came in to record. Problem was, everything we knew about them came from the record company – a group of young, attractive girls, super cool – so we wrote songs as if they were on the leading edge of pop culture. In fact, they were virgins, religious girls, and we’re having them sing about one night stands! Take He’s The Greatest Dancer. There’s a lyric about “please take me home”, and Kathy [Sledge] said “I’d never do that, I’m not singing that”. So I had to flip it. I said, “woah – you’ve just made me a genius. In this song, your feelings are so strong for this dancer that you’ve just reset your moral compass. You’ve just made this song ten times better!” [laughs] Think we did that in one or two takes. We stuck to our guns, and it paid off. Listen to her delivery on that record and she’s bathing in the sexuality.

How did collaborating with Daft Punk work? Did you fly to them? No, they came to New York. We recorded it at Electric Ladyland, where we recorded the first Chic material. So it was a space that was very comfortable for me. You couldn’t have planned it – Get Lucky and so on – it had to be some kind of divine, big ‘Deep Hidden Meaning’ thing! GuyManuel [de Homem-Christo] and Thomas [Bangalter; aka Daft Punk] are two really bright, wonderful guys, but nobody’s that smart – if we were, we’d always have mega records! What about Eric Clapton? You worked together when both of you were experiencing difficulties. When we were working together he was very sober and I was the most drugged-out person in the world. Worse: his son had just died. I wasn’t deliberately being disrespectful, but inadvertently I was – bringing around drug dealers, hookers, you know – I was ‘That Guy’. But I saw him recently and he was totally cool. In fact, he asked his manager why

As for Madonna, as so often in my life, I just happened to meet her at a club. We talked after the show, and we hit it off. It didn’t work out immediately, time-wise, but we came back to it. Anyway, it was one of the only records I ever quit. She’s really tough, and one day she was being a little bit cruel to one of the musicians. He wanted to go to the bathroom, but she wouldn’t let him. She was paying the bills – “time is money and the money is mine”, she used to say. Finally I couldn’t take it and stormed out. Our part was done, she just had to sing that shit. So I was walking out the studio, she comes out and shouts “Nile!” – I’m trying to not pay her any attention – “Nile!” ... eventually I turn and shout, “Yeah?” Madonna pauses, then says, “does this mean you don’t love me anymore?” I just started laughing. That was the shortest workers’ strike ever.

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we

did

so

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and

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Let’s go back even further. I’ve read that you started out on Sesame Street? Yeah, that was my first professional gig. I guess I got that job because I can read music well – ‘cos I sure look funny – but maybe they liked the fact I had green, vegetable-dyed hair. All the characters on it are deliberately multi-coloured, because the show’s makers didn’t want kids to see colour as a defining part of anyone’s personality. When I went for the interview, I was a hippie and had this slight green tinge to my hair – so I got the job! Through that I got an audition at The Apollo. I got that too. That was an amazing experience; it taught me about R’n’B and funk. Before that, I was a jazz man. Bernard was the one who taught me about that real funk. He knew that if I could get funky, with my jazz knowledge, we could get somewhere. He took me to a funk gig once and I was like “wow, this is amazing!” and he said, “that’s what I’m saying you should do!” So the next day, I traded in my big ol’ jazz guitar and bought a Fender Strat that I still use to this day. The same one?! “The most successful guitar in the world”? Does it have a name? Yeah, same one. We called it ‘The Hitmaker’ years ago because we kept getting so many hits. We actually got kinda pissed off with it – so many gold & platinum records [laughs] ... there was no FedEx back then, so you’d have to go down there and pick them up. One time, they rang up Bernard and I and said, “Hey we’ve got another gold for you”, and we just looked at each other and said “aw fuck, not again!” [laughs] That was the last one we ever got! Serves us right, I guess. Now I’m just thankful.

---------Catch Chic at Bestival, Isle of Wight, September 5th-8th. For information visit bestival.net


Thursday 11 July

Thursday 15 August

GAPS MOON GANGS

FURS SINGLE LAUNCH

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MARSHALL TELLER THIRD BIRTHDAY

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Thursday 18 July

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Saturday 20 July

BAD VIBRATIONS PSYCH ALL DAYER

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THE WYTCHES

Saturday 17 August

DIE! DIE! DIE!

Tuesday 20 August

COSMONAUTS

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Friday 23 August

BALLET SCHOOL (BELLA UNION) SINGLE LAUNCH

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DARK HORSES

SHANNON AND THE CLAMS

Friday 2 August

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sunday 4 August

FORTUNA POP ALL DAYER

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Thursday 11 July Soft Riot Presents Live :

SOFT RIOT NOI KABAT I.F.A ELECTRONICS (MEMBERS OF LINEA ASPERA) ------------------------------------------------------Friday 12 July Reach Up DJ :

PLASTICIAN ANDY SMITH NICK HALKES • CRISSY KYBOSH ------------------------------------------------------Sunday 14 July Keysound Sessions E.m.m.a LP Launch DJ :

SULLY E.M.M.A V MOLESKIN DUSK & BLACKDOWN • WEN V ETCH ------------------------------------------------------Tuesday 16 July Eat Your Own Ears Live :

Thursday 12 September

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Tuesday 24 September

DEAD MEADOW

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Thursday 25 July Ragpicker Presents RPR#3 Mixtape Live :

THE BISHOPS BULLET PROOF VEST THE RECUSANTS + DJ SUE (SHOREDITCH RADIO) ------------------------------------------------------Thursday 15 August BleeD presents Before My Eyes DJ :

RAIME DEMDIKE STARE BLACKEST EVER BLACK ------------------------------------------------------Friday 23 August Inverted Audio Electronic Explorations Live :

RONE THROWING SNOW ROCKETNUMBERNINE DJ

MIND ENTERPRISES + SUPPORT

ANTEPOP JORG UNTERBERG

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© Shawn Brackbill

Zomby reprises his raw antidote to the industry ’ s polished banality

Z O M B TWITTER @Z o mbyMusi c

WO R D S D av i d Re e d

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TUN E If I Will


The most uncompromising agitator in the landscape of electronic music is back. This time he’s given us With Love, a comprehensive summary of his sound palette which resurrects the spirits of dance music’s most potent epochs once again. The widespread fascination with Zomby is largely to do with the notoriety which surrounds his name. Via his Twitter account, which at the time of writing has around 20,000 followers, he digitally projects a cool-as-fuck anti-hero persona. It’s a relentless stream of insightful, obnoxious and hilarious statements where you might find him mocking the music industry’s increasing reliance on corporate sponsorship, dissing slanderous music journalists by name or proposing that Gucci Mane’s face is carved into the rock of Mount Rushmore. And then there’s the no-shows. It’s hard to bring up a conversation about Zomby without someone immediately mentioning his infamous habit for not turning up to gigs, or the fact that when he does show up, the erratic tempo switches of his records can transfer to a seriously sketchy approach to mixing. But actually, putting together a lengthy list of these non appearances – with solid details of the date and venue etc – is harder than you might assume. This reputation could be an unwanted side effect of his self-mythologising behaviour, or the result of lazy journalism – are all these articles which state that ‘Zomby doesn’t show up to gigs’ simply based on other articles that do so, generating an exaggerated feedback loop of misinformation? But then, surely there’s some substance behind the reputation. Either way, when he’s asked about it in the interview published on the following page, our conversation comes to an abrupt close. Zomby’s music first emerged around 2007, a time when the UK’s underground club scene was encouraging producers to explore slower BPMs, syncopated rhythms and the adrenaline fuelling effects of abrasive bass levels. But Zomby vehemently distances himself from the ‘dubstep’ genre, possibly due to the continued bastardisation of the term. And those early records were always too twisted, too defiantly bizarre to slide neatly into a journalistically conceptualised movement or a party friendly DJ’s setlist, instead finding themselves on the forward thinking Hyperdub label alongside his similarly conceptual and mysterious peer Burial. On his exhilarating debut full length Where Were U in ‘92?, Zomby summoned the ghost of old skool jungle and hardcore. Like a 35-year-old ex-raver daydreaming of pilledup motorway misadventures to unknown destinations from his office desk, the record channelled the intensity of an era when dance music represented a genuine counterculture through a hazy lo-fi mist. And while the 4/4 rhythm’s current stronghold on the ‘credible’ dance mainstream means a lot of kids can only listen to such material with a condescending, snobbish tone of irony, Zomby’s homage was affectionate and sincere. Like the fragments of garage, early grime, airhorn noises and ragga vocals that recur throughout his catalogue, Zomby’s deep love for jungle signals an unyielding desire for the collective euphoria and rebellious thrill that electronic music can provide if blared out in an unlicensed warehouse or transmitted to fuzzy car radio speakers via pirate broadcasts. The release of Zomby’s 2011 10” Natalia’s Song marked a signing with the legendary but consistently relevant indie label 4AD. As unlikely as the hook up initially seemed, the deal completely relieved him from pressure to create club-ready tracks or step on the conveyor belt of a typical DJ tour schedule. Zomby blossomed in his solitude, with the result being the downbeat Dedication, an album characterised by an overarching sense of nocturnal poignancy which paid tribute to his late father. It was this year that Zomby exiled himself from London to New York.

B Y

And now Zomby presents With Love. Across 33 tracks he explores the ideas which have characterised his post Where Were U… work. There are bangers here – a ghostly MC roars “It’s time to go fucking mental!” over a menacing drum ‘n’ bass beat, and demonic jungle cuts Overdose and 777 are the work of a producer who couldn’t muster up a shit to give about a 4/4 snob’s idea of ‘tasteful’ if he tried – yet the overall feel is melancholic, contemplative and strangely tender. The album’s second half is particularly pensive. Drifting grey clouds of ambience and minor key piano loops with a metallic aftertaste are contrasted with muffled 808 thuds, rolling snares and fluttering hi-hats. It’s a style of drum pattern you could relate to trap, but that’s another term which Zomby can’t stand due to the pollution of its definition. We’re talking about a Givenchy-worshipping artist who soundtracked shows for Tokyo Fashion Week and En Noir – he doesn’t want any tacky associations tarnishing his music. As you can imagine, tracking down Zomby for an interview is quite the headache. Elusive and reluctant to talk to journalists, the interview request process feels a little like a stab in the dark. But we install the iChat instant messenger service – Zomby’s medium of choice – and after waiting for weeks, 4AD finally manage to form a direct line of communication with him. We’re hyped of course, but unfortunately, it seems the feeling isn’t entirely mutual ...

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They’re perhaps the most purposeful ways my music enters a realm. I’ll write purposefully for that, or they choose a song of mine.

So the new album has just dropped. Roughly how many tracks do you think you’ve created since you released the Nothing EP in 2011?

Have you ever cooked up tracks with their ‘club functionality’ in mind?

No idea man, I just keep writing. Sometimes I’ll write for a purpose, sometimes I just write freely.

The ability to control the entire dynamic of your work is to be able to create what’s in your mind. All of my music is built with club functionality in mind and also none of it is. I don’t want it to be defined too intently, so I sit it on the edge. I mean Where Were U in 92? is a club or rave album, but at the same time it’s another love letter to music of our past, you know?… I don’t make delirious sing along festival music.

This one seems to have a real thematic quality, right down to the artwork and the song titles. Did you have any conceptual ideas which made you want to present it this way? Or are we gonna have to figure this one out for ourselves? The concept is largely a love letter of my own work, to music and us as fans of music as a whole, you know? I wouldn’t say it’s a self-portrait or a work of vanity; rather it’s just a concentration of my work and passion for music. If I stopped writing freely and conceptually wrote a ten track album, I’d feel it was contrived, and then accordingly I’d have to market it that way and I’m not that kind of artist. 4AD have given me the freedom to work as a real artist, in the sense that I get to explore and create my own narrative carefully and thoughtfully.

celebrating it. Where Were U in ‘92? was an invite to enjoy the music. It’s said that the UK underground/dance/club scene is thriving right now, I guess in terms of attendance and profit generated but from your perspective, does it seem in good health now? I dunno to be honest, I’ve been in New York the last year and a half, but it doesn’t look like it if lads are shuffling to bait house from about 15 years ago. It’s a different art form to what was happening in the 90s. Back then pirate radio was a strong culture, the clubs were great, DJs were great and there were record shops everywhere. Independent fashion, music and art was thriving, it was a different period, I mean you can watch any video of any rave to know that and see it, listen to the music – it even sounds that way. But don’t just take my word for it, ask anybody who knows about the whole culture of this. But that’s only that music, it doesn’t reflect on anything going on now. It wasn’t better then than now or vice versa, it’s just a different genre of music by different generation of artists but what leant to it being created was maybe a bit more soulful than what we have now…

33 songs is a lot, but I’m a musician, I love to write music. I could do 3333 tracks if I was allowed. Not even by 4AD, I mean by my own respect for the music I love myself, rather. But obviously, if you work with people who won’t let you express your own work what’s the point? I often think that what major labels do to some artists makes the music so generic and formulaic. But I just do my thing, and I don’t give a shit about any of that really. You often put tunes together (let’s say between track two and three on Disc One of the new album, for example) where there’s an abrupt, sudden change in tempo and style. Is that a conscious ‘fuck you’ to those of us demanding comfy, slick mixes or are you not really thinking about that?

Can we talk about rap? Yeah. You’re into new Chicago/Drill stuff in a big way right? Not in that way, it just happens that a bunch of shit I’m listening to is from Chicago. The reason I ask is that Chief Keef, Young Chop and all them – like the beats you’re passionate about – I imagine you look for intensity in rap.

“I’m

proud of my life and everything

who’ve created the great work

I want them to jar at times, if everything’s grey, you wont see any retrograde colour. You see the idea of progression as everything being a comfortable smooth ride, which is fine. But if a track has no intro, it’s because it doesn’t need one. The body is self-explanatory, it’s obvious what the intro would be, and the same for an outro or the length of a song or whatever. I mean how large should a painting be, or which color should a sculpture be and why? The artist decided to create his narrative is all.

I

I’ve

love.

done, and all the artists

I’m

not some nostalgic or

, and neither am I emo about it. I’m celebrating it”

It’s a lot about conviction, I don’t like to dwindle on my work, I just move on. I don’t think I’ve ever gone back to a song, I do everything in one take and it’s over. I just stab the titles on the keyboard, and I can never find the fucking titles again anyway. None of that’s important to me.

There’s an assumption about you I think – maybe because of the mask, maybe because of the distant sound of the tracks – that you’re somewhat detached from ‘raving’ or ‘clubbing’ in the physical sense, is that a misconception?

Are we talking like 15 mins working on a track? Two hours? Three?

I don’t even give a fuck to answer any assumptions to be honest, haha. I'm not the phantom of the opera, that's retarded. I mean anyone can assume anything, it doesn’t necessarily deserve a response. Who would know if I’m out anyway, and whose business would it be if I’m out with my friends? Not being rude ... but that’s half rude. I mean why would anyone think that ... I don’t have a day job, I can work all month or not at all. I hate that kinda dumb shit, no offence.

It depends what I’m doing, if I’m zoned it can be 15 minutes, if I’m fucking around it can be a couple of hours. So to do it fast or slow makes no odds, just how you wanna do it really I guess. I think that became a new realisation for modern music if I’m honest … Scoring music is a lot slower.

It’s just that discussions about your music have assumed the distance/murkiness of your tracks has something to do with it, or the fact that it’s inspired by distant memories from your past, if you get what I mean? But we’ll move on to the next question yeah?

Like the stuff you’ve done for fashion events?

It’s because I write my music to be that. I don’t want it to be in the pile of all the other genres. My music is a reflection of my taste in art and I just don’t like unnecessary decoration. I’m proud of my life and everything I’ve done, and all the artists who’ve created the great work I love. I’m not in some nostalgic or retrograde, and neither am I emo about it. I’m

What do you mean? In terms of ‘scoring’, you’ve worked on soundtracks right? Tokyo Fashion Week etc…

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I like their sound, just sounds like what I wanna hear right now. There’s drum sequences in your tunes, and particularly on With Love, fragments of sounds you could relate to ‘trap’ or early Memphis hip-hop beats.

Well yeah I guess I like the syncopation, it allows for more abstraction, rap’s more abstract now than it’s ever been really, it’s just about a perfect sound for me – half a darker R’n’B sound, and half old Memphis rap sound. I love Tommy Wright III, old Triple 6 Mafia shit, Lord Infamous etc, so this is my taste I guess. There’s no real dots I’m trying to connect to push an image, it’s just the sound I like, I explore it myself, but in my own style. But I don’t wanna talk about trap or have that word anywhere near my name. (Record label informs us we have one question left) OK – no worries if you’re sick of being asked about this – but the fact that so many articles say you have a reputation for missing gigs, do you think that’s just a total exaggeration. When your music is discussed, that seems to be mentioned straight away, and I’d like you to have your say. Oh man. I’m not answering some stupid shit from 2007, it’s 2013, I’ve been round the world about three times. This isn’t music shit, this is sensational shit. I’m out.

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With Love is out now via 4AD


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WO R D S Tom H ow e l l s

TUN E Wo rld

S I TE jul i ashammashol t er.com

JULIA H O LT E R DATES F l ow F e s t i v al , H e l s i n k i | A u g u s t 1 1 t h G r e e n M an F e s t i v al , Wal e s | A u g u s t 1 5 t h - 1 8 t h B e ac on s F e s t i v al , S k i p t on | A u g u s t 1 7t h C e c i l S h ar p H ou s e , L on d on | A u g u s t 2 0 t h

With the albums Tragedy and Ekstasis, the LA-based songwriter Julia Holter has cemented her position as one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary avant-pop. Her work draws variously on mythological Greek verse, surrealist cinema and gloaming fantasy, and these influences are channelled through tropes of folk, dream pop and classical music, culminating in a sound palette that’s satisfyingly confounding and quietly visionary. Holter’s new record, Loud City Song, dispenses with the solo bedroom recording of those albums, embracing analogue textures, lush orchestration and a more concertedly human feel that transcends the dense chimerical fug of her earlier work. Though Ekstasis hinted at further forays into more conventional pop songwriting, this record is a challenging, elegant collection, one supposedly influenced by Holter’s home city, modern American poetry and French courtesans. We spoke to her about nascent forays into composition, musical inspiration and the themes of Loud City Song.

What’s your musical background? I started playing piano when I was eight and I was doing classical stuff for a long time. I went to a high school that had a really good music programme, so I took music theory and it kind of broke me into writing. I studied Music Composition [at college], and I started recording when I was around 20 or 21. I actually grew up listening to pop music, and I would play Joni Mitchell on piano and sing and stuff in secret, but I was writing music in a classical tradition in school. Throughout college I was in a kind of conservatory atmosphere, so I started trying different things. For a long time after that I just recorded, but then at some point I started thinking about instruments and working with people again. So now I’ve finally started working with other musicians. It kind of started last year; Ekstasis was finished and I needed to go on tour and to have other people with me. So we arranged the songs on Ekstasis and Tragedy to be okayed by three of us, and that was the beginning of working with people again. There’s something to doing a record by yourself, but it’s hard because it’s also nice to have another perspective. Can you tell us about the themes behind Loud City Song? The theme is really about searching for truth and love in a society that's superficial and loud in a way which you’re not comfortable with. It all comes from the song Maxim’s, which is the first song that I wrote for the record. I thought about how cool it would be to have a song inspired by the scene in Gigi the musical where she walks into the bar and everyone’s

staring at her and gossiping, thinking about the voyeurism of the people there. The whole dynamic seemed really interesting to me. Like a departure, an interesting change. I feel like usually I’m introspective, but exploring the tension of the social context seemed more exciting. But then I realised the song made no sense on Ekstasis because it was too particular; I really needed to have a whole record exploring these ideas. I thought, ‘Why do I want to use this scene from this film? What do I have to say about it? Is it just about this scene from Gigi? Why am I recreating this in a song?’ So then, I thought, “what are my feelings on this quality of society, being voyeuristic and staring at celebrities and reality TV?” It’s these similar parallels that the album is exploring. It's been said that Loud City Song references LA, Joni Mitchell and Frank O’Hara as particular influences. Are there more? Not really, it was all really loose. The reason Frank O’Hara is cited is because he writes a lot about cities. I’ve read his poetry for a long time, and I love the way he experiences the city, and how he intermingles it with his own assumptions and his own romantic experiences. For example, he’ll be talking to a lover, and he’ll be speaking out to them, but he’ll be describing the city. The way he connects the city with intimacy, between him and another person, it’s really fucking beautiful. That was really inspiring to me for this record. With Joni Mitchell, it’s kind of the things you hear in albums like The Hissing of Summer Lawn or Court and Spark, where she’s also experiencing the city and social stuff like peoples’ parties [on the latter]. That one is a little looser, but there are songs like In the Green Wild which was inspired musically a lot by her song The Jungle Line, though just for production reasons rather than the meaning of the song. It’s very primal. Do you feel working with Cole Greif-Neill [Loud City Song’s producer and former member of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti] brought something new to your work? Sure, totally. Like, when I try to EQ my voice, and you can hear it more in the past records, I bring out the highs, and it’s particular but I love it; that kind of screeching quality. But Cole, because he’s an expert in these things, he’ll do it really delicately and pull out certain frequencies. He’ll do what I wanted to do, but in a much more nuanced way. He did so much. I had a folder full of field recordings, so he’d grab a city recording that I’d made and insert it into a song when I wasn’t there. All of your work has a really strong classic aesthetic quality: whereas Tragedy had a narrative trajectory and characters, a lot of the songs on Ekstasis convey a strong sense of both the

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unknown and an unknowing, evocative but also perplexing and surreal. And the songs on Loud City Song have a kind of sepia ballroom, cinematic quality to them … Usually my influence comes from a dynamic between things. I see all art as a process of translation: you grab certain things and you make your own thing out of it. There are limits to perception, obviously, and frequently I’m not trying to reference something, it’s just there. So for example, in a Frank O’Hara poem, he’ll always be talking about some work of art, and you don’t have to know what that is. He’ll just throw words and names out there, and I don’t think those are references, just proper nouns. You don’t have to know what it is. It’s like with me, you don’t have to know about Gigi to listen to this record. You don’t have to know about Hippolytus to listen to Tragedy. If what I’ve made requires an understanding of those pieces of art, then I’ve probably failed. But I do think it’s important to read the lyrics. That’s complicated because with Tragedy, a lot of the lyrics are from the play, but I have them in the liner notes. It’s so fun pulling text and playing with it. But with this record, I wrote it all myself so it took way longer, and every song is different. What’s next? Well right now I’m working on a piece, and I’m not sure how much to say about it as I’m just starting it and there’s a lot of other stuff happening right now, so I’m having trouble just being able to write, but it’s actually for a performance, not a recording. But it could be, thinking about it. Usually these things come to me in an instant, like Tragedy. That I would do this record, and it would be based on this story that I just read that I really liked. With this record, it was just like, “Oh I’m going to make a record spawning off of Maxim’s”. I don’t really see everything as a progression. I don’t really have a ‘way that I am now’.

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Loud City Song is released on August 19th via Domino


F rom E uripides to Los A ngeles : With Loud C ity S ong , J ulia H olter drops the fantasy for cacophonous social rumination and an immersion in the city


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The deafening drone of two men and their machines


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TU NE Year o f the Dog

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WO R D S A d am C or n e r

S ite f uck but t ons.com

DATES G r e e n M an F e s t i v al , Wal e s | A u g u s t 1 5 t h - 1 8 t h A r c Tan G e n t F e s t i v al | A u g u s t 3 1 s t

It’s hard to believe, but it’s less than 150 years since the first recorded sounds were etched onto scratchy, crackly wax, in the late 19th Century. That means for hundreds of years, music was only ever heard live. Of course, it could be written down using notation – but the version you heard when you witnessed a live performance was the only version you were ever going to get. And, as Talking Heads frontman David Byrne points out in his excellent book How Music Works, people took a while to get used to mass-produced, recorded music. They complained that the recorded version didn’t sound like the real thing.

These days folk are more likely to whinge if a live show doesn’t faithfully recapture every last detail of the recorded version. And now that DJs play ‘live’ sets from laptops, laptops control midi-orchestras and even a forensic examination can’t conclusively prove whether Beyonce faked her show for Barack Obama, the line between the live and the pre-recorded is an increasingly dubious one.

of a time the audience are having by looking at them really, because that one person stood there, seemingly with their eyes closed, seemingly uninterested, might be having a party in their head. I feel like we’ve not necessarily ever had a place when it comes to line-ups and such. I can’t really see what would be the right kind of festival to play really, but I quite like that we get bundled in with such a range of different people. It’s interesting, you know … sometimes we wonder why promoters think it would work in some of the situations we end up in, but it’s quite fun, variety being the spice of life and all that.” The Fuck Buttons story began back in the early 2000s, when both Power and Hung were at art college. “We studied in Bristol”, explains Power, “and the band started in Bristol, but I think it’s a bit of a misconception that we’re Bristolians. Andy used to live above a pub called the King Bill which is where the band started, and we’ve been doing this for ten years now, which is actually quite amazing when we stop and think about it. I’m 30, Andy’s 31, so that’s a pretty big chunk of our lives. We’re both very humbled to be able to do something like this. We never really expect anything – we certainly didn’t in the first instance. When Andy and I were making music above the King Bill in Bristol all that time ago, we

place at something that grand. There is definitely a triumphant feel to some of our tracks, an aesthetic that’s suited to something like that.” Although there’s an essential darkness to Fuck Buttons, there’s also a sense of celebratory progression to be found. If anything, the productions have grown more complex, and denser over time. On each of their three albums, the final track always seems to go that extra mile: an ultra-epic finale to complete a set of already anthemic material. “I’m not too sure if there’s a 'saving the best for last' mentality, but the narrative is something that’s very important to us when we’re compiling the album and the sequence of the record. I’m not too sure – it’s always good to go out with a bang, isn’t it!” laughs Power. “But each track has its place and it’s pretty considered.”

Fuck Buttons are keen to emphasise that it isn’t their place to push a visual metaphor for their music onto the listener, they clearly have a personal take on the meaning of the music for them. “I think it’s nice that people get to create their own story as they listen to it, and I think that’s the beauty of instrumental music: you don’t have some guy or We should be all the more grateful, then, for the shimmering, raucous, some woman telling you what you should be thinking about when you’re tribal, drone-electronica that Andrew experiencing the whole thing unfold. But to Hung and John Benjamin Power – the duo me, personally, the idea of Slow Focus – once otherwise known as Fuck Buttons – produce. the album was near completion and we sat Because not only are they an electronic down and started to discuss any kind of act that viscerally, physically play their mental imagery that it conjured up for us, machines, but because the way you find as we do – it almost felt like the moment “When we come into a writing session them on stage – stooped over processors, your eyes take to re-adjust after being in a synths and bundles of wires – is the way they very deep sleep, like after being cryogenically we don’t sit in front of a computer, compose, create and record the music in the frozen or something. And as you regain focus first place. you start to realise that you’re in a place that w e s e t u p a s w e w o u l d d o o n s ta g e , you might not necessarily understand, or Fuck Buttons – about to release their third know, and the anxiety that comes along with a c r o s s t h e ta b l e f r o m e a c h o t h e r , album, Slow Focus, on the ATP label – that feeling.” weave drone-heavy darkness and euphoric electronica into a patchwork of powerful, There’s certainly no shortage of possible wi t h wi r e s g o i n g a l l o v e r t h e f u c k i n g passionate post-rock grind. And when Crack interpretations to put on Fuck Buttons’ spoke to John Power, as the band prepared evocative productions. Rarely clocking in place…we’re a live band still – I to descend on Glastonbury for the first under seven minutes, the tracks on Slow of their summer festival dates, we got an Focus continue the theme developed on c e r ta i n ly s e e i t t h at way ” insight into the creative process between two their previous two albums: nothing done men and their machines that produces such by halves. weird and wonderful progeny. “There are a couple of shorter tracks on the “When we set out to write these tracks we record”, muses Power, “but we are drawn to don’t have any intention other than to explore the sounds we can get were doing it because we wanted to make music together, we didn’t have longer pieces because the textures we use lend themselves to them, we’re out of the gadgetry in front of us”, says Power. “I mean, once we come any grand plans of playing around the world together. So the fact that perfectionists in that sense. We don’t just throw things in for the sake across a texture that interests us both we go from there, but it’s not like people have taken to it is a really great feeling, we feel very privileged.” of it, for decoration’s sake, it’s all very considered. Sometimes it works we ever come into the writing process and say ‘today we’re going to write to have particular textures play out for a little bit longer, because as a certain kind of track’ or anything like that. The whole process is a lot One person who took to Fuck Buttons in a big way – big enough to your ears adjust to a particular sound, you start to be able to pull out more free. That way we don’t end up boxing ourselves in, the possibilities incorporate two of their tracks into the opening ceremony of the London intricacies and individual components that you might not have been able are maximised. Olympics – was Underworld’s Rick Smith. to hear before had it played out for a shorter period of time.” “When we come into a writing session we don’t sit in front of a computer, we set up as we would do on stage, across the table from each other, with wires going all over the fucking place, we re-patch things, pretty much in the same way that we do when we play live. The two go hand-in-hand, we get a buzz from writing in that way, and in the same way we get a buzz playing like it. We’re a live band still – I certainly see it that way”. A glance at their summer schedule – Glastonbury, Green Man, but also the more esoteric ArcTanGent – shows that their live show is both much in demand and impossible to pigeon hole. Probably the only act rubbing shoulders with kitsch folk-poppers Kings of Convenience and extreme metallers Dragged into Sunlight over the festival season, a Fuck Buttons performance produces one of two shamanic responses from the audience: either wild, spasmodic thrashing or a stunned, delirious reverie. “It’s quite interesting”, concurs Power, “you can’t really gauge what kind

“I guess he was just a fan and he got in contact”, explains Power. “You get this phone call and at first you think there’s no point in getting too excited about it, but it actually transpired that it was a very genuine request. We didn’t know in exactly what capacity they were going to use it until a few weeks before the opening ceremony, so it’s safe to say we were just as surprised as the next person. It was very strange! The London Symphony Orchestra recorded a version of Sundowner, one of my Blanck Mass tracks too, and it turned out that was used three times throughout the ceremony, and at pretty key points as well, when the flag was being carried up to the flag pole.”

It’s a perfect summary of why Fuck Buttons are such an immersive, rewarding band to listen to. Packed full of intricate details, which reveal themselves only after multiple listens, they capture the crucial elements of disparate genres and weld them into a scary new form. Catch them on their autumn tour – you may not know whether to dance or stand transfixed, but you definitely won’t go home disappointed.

So somewhat bizarrely, two Worcester experimentalists can lay claim to being one of the dominant musical forces in the world’s biggest sports spectacle.

Slow Focus is released on July 22nd via ATP Recordings

“It was very validating in a sense” Power continues. “It was very warming to think that someone other than us thought the music had earned its www.crackmagazine.net

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WORDS Gerai nt D a v ie s

S I TE dav i dshri g l ey.com

O ne of the most instantly- recognisable and influential illustrative visions in the country, David Shrigley has achieved worldwide renown and even a Turner Prize nomination; and all this from a boy from M acclesfield who can ’ t draw.

Being part of a clan Everyone wants to be part of a clan. It’s normal. Human beings are social creatures. Like goats. But there are rules to being part of a clan that must be found-out and adhered-to e.g. playing the pipes, etc. Food and mood What you eat can change the way you feel. What you eat can change the way you think. Examples: Red Meat – Violence. Potatoes – Apathy. Cakes and sweets – Violence. Passive Aggressive Maybe you are passive-aggressive. Maybe you should try not to be so fucking passive-aggressive. David Shrigley wants to help you. Correction: David Shrigley wants to help you to help yourself. The above are extracts of advice from his latest book, How Are You Feeling?, which presents itself as a ‘Self-Help’ book. A bit rich, you might think. After all, the Glasgow-based Shrigley has become something of a trailblazer when it comes to the very notion of neuroticism. This is a man whose books, drawings, sculptures, site interventions and animations channel the depths of the human

condition, as well as the trivialities of day-to-day life, and present them in the most minimal, the most farcical, the most hilarious forms imaginable. His is not so much a style of illustration, or installation, or even an overarching artistic ideology. It’s a mode of thought. His scrawled and technically ... well, let's say 'limited' sketches, littered as they are with corrections due to a policy of never redrawing, are capable of that rarest of things; of bringing you guffawing, stomach-gripped, to your knees in the austere setting of an art gallery. As we speak to Shrigley he’s riding a wave of attention. The aforementioned book has proved a popular addition to his canon, while he’s recently become a figure of derision for a legion of Munich’s Michael Jackson fans having erected a shrine dedicated to Jacko's infamous pet chimp Bubbles. He is also preparing to appear at one of the UK’s premier festivals, the boundlessly lovely Latitude. But something more significant has occurred. Having shown, with resounding success, at the Southbank Centre’s revered Hayward Gallery last year, David Shrigley has become surely the most unlikely Turner Prize nominee in recent memory. For a figure whose work has sometimes been dismissed on the premise that fine art simply

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O ne of the most instantly- recognisable and influential illustrative visions in the country, David S hrigley has propelled himself to worldwide renown and even a Turner Prize nomination ; and all this from a boy from M acclesfield who can’ t draw.


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is not allowed to be funny, playful, or even accessible, it’s a huge gesture of validation. Our interview could not be more timely. We come armed a wealth of questions about his esteemed career and his current swell of attention; he’s just finished walking his dog. In his precisely annunciated voice, small murmurs of his creative neuroses eke through, glimmers of the vaguely cynical, surreal worldview which occupies his pages and exhibitions. He is disarmingly self-deprecating, quick to dampen any burgeoning excitement. For Shrigley, things are rarely ‘good’; they’re “not bad”. The overall impression is of a man who thinks about a lot of unusual things, who can become very confused and frustrated with the world, yet channels it in a very specific, extremely funny and fascinating way. British art, in fact British culture, is fortunate to have this deeply idiosyncratic character, held within the outer impression of a very nice chap indeed.

You recently found yourself the wrong side of a group of Michael Jackson fans due to your Bubbleplatz shrine in Munich, how did that come about? The Michael Jackson fans of Munich aren’t that scary, but they are a little bit nuts. They have a shrine in honour of Michael Jackson, so I built one

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for Bubbles the chimpanzee. Theirs is a guerilla shrine – excuse the pun – so they don’t really have any right to complain about another guerilla shrine. That’s not really in the nature of guerilla activity, so there’s a paradox there. It’s all pretty weird. The monuments these shrines are set up around are for long-forgotten people; the one Bubbles’ shrine is on is for some army general. Monuments aren’t always of figures people want to remember, so I actually think Michael Jackson is quite a suitable candidate for a permanent memorial, in a way. Obviously his life was problematic, to say the least, but he’s made a couple of very good pop records, you can’t argue with that. If the people of Munich want to honour him, that’s probably not a bad thing. Did you physically make the shrine yourself? I installed it myself. I had a guy sourcing the pictures, and there was a collaborative element whereby people were invited to put their own artwork there. There isn’t actually any of my work on it per se, it was just an idea I had, and whoever fabricated that idea isn’t really that important, so long as it looked a certain way. How do you feel about fabrication, which is now extremely commonplace? There’s a comment in an old piece of yours about an artist getting ‘a bunch of handicapped kids’ to do his work.

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After a certain point you have to delegate the things you don’t consider to be all that important. When I make a sculpture I delegate the mouldmaking and the casting to somebody else. I used to do it all myself, but my time isn’t well spent making moulds and sanding things down because I’m not actually that good at it. You can’t really delegate drawing, I obviously do that myself. I also work with an animator, and a lot of decisions that are made about the personality of the animation are the animator’s personality, but because I’ve worked with the same person for many years, that style of animation has become my style, really. Speaking of people you’ve worked alongside, you seem to share a mutual respect with Kevin Eldon, who voiced the main character in your Who I Am and What I Want animation in 2006. I always very much admire people like Kevin who can really put tyres on your wheels as far as words are concerned, it’s really a great skill. It goes back to that thing of delegating things you’re not good at to people who are good at them. Despite delegating more performative elements, you will be ‘performing’, or least appearing, at Latitude this month. I don’t really think of myself as much of a performer. I suppose I do public speaking from time to time, but that’s easy in a way ‘cause I’m


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just talking about my stuff and speculating about it in the way I’m doing now. But I’ve got something planned for this festival. I’m going to do digital portraits of people, so the people can watch that in real time and amplify the conversations that we have, so that portrait element will be a bit of a departure. I’ve done a few festivals before, they usually just involve me DJing, but I feel like I should probably leave the DJing to the real DJs. I can just play my playlist while I’m doing portraits of people. Do you enjoy DJing? I’ll tell you what I do enjoy about it: it means all my record buying is tax-deductible, which gives it a good raison d’etre. But my DJing, when you compare it to Rob Da Bank or something ... I don’t beat match or anything like that. I’m into buying records and into music, but I don’t really feel that comfortable with the label of DJ, because there are lots of people who do something really special under that name, while I’m just into playing music and chatting to people. Hopefully I’ll justify my presence at Latitude by doing my portrait thing as well.

kind of pseudo-scientific approach, what was the idea behind it? One of the main problems with publishers selling my books is that they’re never quite sure which category to put them in, art or humour or whatever. So I thought I’d create another category, which was self-help, just to annoy them. When publishers give you an advance, they always want to know what the book’s going to be ‘about’, but the problem with that is my books are never really about anything in particular. So when I fielded a phone call from the editor I was in an airport, in WH Smiths, looking at books. I was in the self-help section, and I made a comment that maybe it should be a self-help book. They said ‘yeah, Shrigley does self-help, that’s a brilliant idea.’ So there it was, a chance arrangement. But all the books I do are kind of about the same thing, in a way: they’re all a bit neurotic with that twisted humour. Every book has to be about something, I suppose, and that’s what this is about. Another highlight of last year was the exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, Brain Activity, which subsequently led to your Turner Prize nomination. Did it feel like a watershed moment?

Who else will you be watching there? Malcolm Middleton. He’s a friend of mine, so I’ll look forward to seeing him play. So your latest book How Are You Feeling? seems to embrace a

I think it was, but probably only because it was in the Hayward Gallery. The How Are You Feeling? show was in the Cornerhouse in Manchester, and that was an equally important show for me. An exhibition is just an exhibition. So the watershed moment probably came when they first asked me to do the show. I wasn’t really aware of how important the www.crackmagazine.net

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Hayward Gallery was as a space until I actually did the show, and there was so much publicity around it. I really didn’t think it would be such a big deal, but it was and I am proud. But I’m proud of every show I’ve done in the sense that you’ve achieved something. I suppose it was quite exciting to be taken seriously. People ask me whether being nominated for the Turner Prize was some sort of watershed moment, but I feel being asked to show at the Hayward Gallery was an even bigger deal, in a way, although one thing facilitated the other. You say it was nice to be taken seriously, has that ever really been a concern of yours? No, not really. I feel like I’ve always been taken seriously to a certain extent. I suppose the point is, not everybody’s going to like what you do, so some people are going to have a problem with it for whatever reason, and in my case the reason for that is its comic nature. But I really can’t complain about the way my work’s been received over the last decade or so. I’ve done a lot of shows, it’s just that I’ve never been nominated for the Turner Prize before, and it’s not necessarily such a terrible thing. I did a show at the Hayward Gallery before I got nominated, so I suppose that suggests I don’t really have anything to complain about.

>


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Now you’ve been nominated, do you really want to win? To be honest I feel a bit uncomfortable being in competition with other artists. I think that makes you feel awkward, but inevitably anyone would want to win it and in that respect I’m no different to anyone else. But you also have to exercise a bit of humility, and I’m only one of four people who’d like to win so we’ll see what happens. It’s not often you’re in direct competition with other artists in that almost sporting type of way. Do awards and prizes within the arts have a positive impact? They’re alright if you win them! In terms of the Turner Prize show, it’s another exhibition, another chance to show your work, and it’s nice that it’s in Derry because it’s a nice part of the world and it’s not somewhere I’ve shown before. You have to see it for what it is, plus there’s an opportunity to win a big cheque, which is always nice.

“I

think

t h at

’s

In general, in terms of artist-run and artist-led projects by younger people I think the UK is a really good model for other places. You go to France, for example, where in the last 30 years the arts have been funded far better by the state than in the UK, but still the UK is in a far better position in terms of having a very vibrant fine art community, particularly with younger artists. Somewhere like France doesn’t appear to have that, or if it does it doesn’t have much of a reputation outside France. You can’t really put your finger on why that is, but it seems that artists and recent graduates from art school seem very proactive about getting things done. I live in Glasgow, which has been a kind of epicentre

this

s c r ap i n g

year

the

where

The Turner Prize creates a great deal of dialogue about British art on an annual basis, and surely that can only be a good thing.

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[the Turner Prize

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. Right

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Do you think UK art is in a good place at the moment?

To move on to your own work: do you get into character when producing pieces, or imagine your turns of phrase in a certain voice? I don’t know, maybe you put on a different voice, it depends on who you’re talking to. You have your telephone voice, the voice you use to speak to your parents, and the voice you speak to the dog in, they’re all different voices. They’re not necessarily something you’re conscious of. I’m very intuitive in the way I go about everything, so it’s only really when people ask you questions about things that you’re invited to think about what those things might be. I find it difficult to give you an answer really, I suppose more than playing the part of the artist or having some ‘authorial voice’ in your work, you’re kind of playing a part all the time without knowing it. You conform to what’s expected of you. So maybe I’m unconsciously assuming that people expect me to address them in a slightly different voice and therefore I conform to that when I’m speaking the words of my artwork. I’m not sure. Does that extend to your handwriting? Is it your own handwriting in your work?

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are

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and at

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of that outside London whereby there’s a great model for art and artists’ communities in a relatively small, provincial city which has gained an international reputation.

UK art seems in many ways to also be thriving at a grass roots level; you see so many people taking it upon themselves, and being forced to take it upon themselves because of factors like the ruthless 50% cut in art funding in Newcastle.

]

n o m i n at e

Well it can’t be a bad thing. If you want to create a dialogue about British art then you could go about it in a different way, but it seems this comes every year and people embrace it and engage in that dialogue. Is there a more effective way of doing it? I think there might be, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all.

When the Turner Prize thing was announced I was in Northern California and I was hugely surprised how many people had heard about it there, how many people were congratulating me – that it has that presence. Similarly in Australia. A lot of the time when the Turner Prize was announced in other years I’d never heard of any of the artists, and I live in the UK. It was only when people I knew or friends of mine were nominated that I’d really take an interest. But I’m quite surprised the British art scene has such a presence abroad. It obviously suggests a state of health for UK art. That said, I think this year they’re really scraping the barrel as to people to nominate, and that’s where they found me. Right down there at the bottom of the barrel.

Does that mean that every time you write something down it has the potential to hold some worth as art?

pa n e l

to

barrel

It is, albeit that I don’t write in upper case all the time. But it is my handwriting, I mean if I write a letter and the handwriting on the envelope is in upper case people often comment on the fact that it’s the same handwriting as in my drawings. But then again I think, what else would it be? Would I have some kind of ‘show handwriting’? [laughs]. No, the only real concession is the upper case.

the

No, it means my art is made with my handwriting, a subtle difference. Handwriting is handwriting. It’s that rule that art is art: what you say is art is, and what you say isn’t probably isn’t. But we could be here all day talking about that. One key to your sketches and animations are narrative fragments, functioning almost as pieces of microfiction. Is the ultimate aim to create a whole contained narrative with as few details as possible?

I suppose so. I have a certain attitude towards narrative, in that my narratives are always super-abbreviated, and almost provide less information than is necessary to tell a story. But I think in general everybody is interested in narrative in every kind of creative moment, down to an oil painting: they always have a certain narrative or a reference to narrative, even if that’s subverting what a narrative should be. So the more I think about it, the more human beings are obsessed with narrative, whether it be the narrative of their day, what’s written in their schedule, the narrative of taking the dog for a walk, the narrative of going to your yoga class, and the narrative of our whole life; that beginning, middle and end. It’s something that everybody is engaged in. People like stories, we live life in real time I suppose, so we’re all interested in the passing of that time ... I’m speculating here, I don’t know if you can tell.

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David Shrigley appears at Latitude Festival, July 18th-21st. How Are You Feeling? is available now via Canongate Books


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ICA

July

Exhibitions Keep Your Timber Limber (Works on Paper) Curated by Sarah McCrory 19 June - 18 September 2013

Points of Departure 26 June - 21 July 2013

FOX READING ROOM

The Grantchester Pottery: Artist Decorators 19 June - 14 August 2013

Events Cultural Exchange: More Harm Than Good? Wed 10 Jul, 6.30pm The Trouble with Counter Culture Wed 24 Jul, 6.45pm Culture Now Friday lunchtime talks £5 / Free to ICA Members Jacqueline Rose with Mignon Nixon 12 Jul, 1pm Polly Morgan with Sue Hubbard 19 Jul, 1pm Touring Talks Free, booking required

Film Artists’ Film Club New and rarely seen film and moving image by up-and-coming and more established artists. Paulo Nazareth Wed 17 Jul

Giulia Smith Thu 18 Jul, 6.30pm

A Field in England + Ben Wheatley in Conversation Sun 7 Jul, 4pm London Indian Film Festival 19 – 25 Jul

Pratchaya Phinthong + Q&A Tue 30 Jul Bonnie Camplin + Q&A Wed 31 Jul A Weekend of Anger: the films of Kenneth Anger 27 – 28 Jul Student Forum

Rebecca Heald Thu 11 Jul, 6.30pm

Festivals & Special Events

Manga Made 13 – 14 Jul

Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647 www.ica.org.uk

Sex on Screen Wed 17 Jul, 6pm Camping Cubicles Tue 30 Jul, 6.30pm

The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848


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WORDS A ug usti n M a c e lla r i

There’s plenty going on at the Venice Biennale. It’s quite intimidating, really. This sprawling festival of contemporary art takes over the Italian archipelago; the 30 pavilions of the Giardini are filled with works, individually curated by the countries responsible for their construction. Elsewhere, the Arsenale (Europe’s largest preindustrial manufacturing complex) houses more pavilions, in addition to one half of the epic Encyclopedic Palace exhibition, curated by Massimiliano Gioni. It’s a tricky thing to write about, the Biennale. An immediate urge, which will be stifled here, is to look at it politically and discuss the socio-economic differences as symbolised by each country’s contribution. Equally, it would be great to write about the glitter[Art]i, the great and the good all strutting around during preview week (we jumped ahead of Jarvis Cocker in one queue) ‘catching up’ and managing to remain immaculately dressed despite the incessant drizzle and beige mud. Easiest, then, to just forgo all that and crack on with talking about the art. Jeremy Deller received a load of positive reviews for his efforts in the British Pavilion this year. The Guardian certainly didn’t stint in their praise and coverage, which is no real surprise – the works on display here are extremely Guardian-friendly. This is not a bad thing; Venice is heaving with rich, switchedoff people. Superyachts crowd the grand canal, and real-talk is muted. Good on Deller for commissioning a vast (slightly tacky) mural of socialist reformer William Morris pitching Roman Abramovich’s yacht into the waves. Elsewhere he invites us to sit on a crushed 4 x 4 as we watch the video documentation of its destruction.

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LA BIENNALE

There’s a tea room, and a room with photos of Ziggy Stardust and Northern Irish protest hanging side-by-side. On the other side of the pavilion is an exhibition of prisoners' drawings. The bulk of them former service-men, these images capture all facets, political and practical, of the Iraq War. It sounds naff, but this room is in fact the most quietly affecting of the lot. A drawing of Basra, as seen through the cross-hairs of a sniper’s rifle, is cold and precise. A drawing of a soldier hiding under a bed is pathetically child-like, the Calvin Klein detail on his boxers transforms it, presenting a shockingly adult snapshot of memory. Deller’s M.O is to organise, curate, introduce and juxtapose. An artist devoid of technical ability he instead finds, commissions and presents. Here, he offers a snapshot of England and Englishness; the politics don’t make you angry, they make you cross. And it’s great. The Japanese pavilion is beautiful. Koki Tanaka’s instructions to a group of young pianists to collectively compose a piece at a single piano, to hairdressers to simultaneously style one model, or poets to write a collective piece of verse, are interesting. The video documentation is funny and warm. The place feels like a really nice branch of Muji. Next door, Kimsooja, the Korean artist, has transformed their pavilion into a prismic hall. The sun’s light bounces off mirrors covering the walls and floor; the sound of the artist’s breathing affecting the atmosphere as it oscillates between panicked and relaxed. Everyone in there is tranquil, and it’s nice. Of course, everyone is really just waiting to get into the anechoic chamber. It’s terribly exciting, in the queue we are asked to sign a release, ensuring that we have no “heart conditions, claustrophobia, etc.” before being led into a pitch black, completely silent room. The room apparently absorbs audio waves, forcing one to listen inwardly, focus on breathing and hear the normally inaudible rumbles and gurgles of the body. It’s unsettling, but soon over; perhaps wisely – the novelty begins to wear off, you notice cracks of light here and there, and begin to get annoyed by fellow audience-members’ rustling interrupting your physical self-absorption. In the Russian Pavilion, there is more anger. A man in a suit sits in a saddle, over a beam, staring into space and idly shelling nuts onto the crowd below. Next door more men in suits supervise the cyclical journey of coins that fall from ceiling to floor, where they are collected by audience members – women only – before being hoisted back up and

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S I TE l abi ennal e.org

fed into a conveyor belt and returned to the ceiling, to fall again. The exhibit is so loaded with symbolism (obvious and otherwise) that there’s probably no space to go into it. It does, however, seem to channel a similar dissatisfaction to the protests in the British Pavilion. Away from the Giardini, there’s still huge amounts to see. Bedwyr Williams’s excellent Welsh Pavilion really is one of the highlights; the artist leads us through unsettling rooms before sho wing us a film; contemporary art through the lens of Reeves and Mortimer, via The Mighty Boosh. The Arsenale’s mammoth half of The Encyclopedic Palace show is better by far than the crafty, quasispiritual doodles on display at the Central Pavilion in the Giardini. Camille Henrot’s Grosse Fatigue is the first thing to really stand out; banging beats driving a kind of spoken word rap, the creation myths of myriad cultures bastardised into a new internetoral-tradition while a Tumblr-narrative of imagery unfolds on the screen. It’s a bit silly, but it’s great to watch. The rest of the exhibition switches between works not dissimilar to this (Helen Marten, Ryan Trecartin, Mark Leckey etc.) and, basically, everything else. The Encyclopedic Palace lives up to its name, presenting an absolute cascade of imagery and information. After a while, though, you get a feel for it and suddenly it opens up. Nothing comes as a surprise. Maybe that’s the Biennale though. After a couple of days, you reach capacity and become desensitised. Lucky it’s on for six months, really. --------Jeremy Deller’s British Council commission is at La Biennale di Venezia until 24th November and will tour national UK venues in 2014.


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T UNE Pe rre tt’s B r o o k

WO R D S B i l l y B l ac k

S I TE ol i v er-w i l de.com

O l i v er W i l de

B e it from bedroom or hospital ward , O liver Wilde is crafting some of the most intriguing songs to emerge from B ristol in years

A lot of young men spend a lot of time alone in their bedrooms. Oliver Wilde is no exception, though he spends that time somewhat more productively than most. In fact, he’s been holed up creating music he never really expected to be heard. But the full length record which has emerged from those confines has found an eager audience, and now Crack walks, in reflective mood, through middle class suburbia with A Brief Introduction to Unnatural Light Years in our headphones. While we expect the bashful and modest Wilde might resist the gathering attention, he fits the bill rather well. Redefining what can be done with a cheap microphone, a laptop and a vast array of seemingly innocuous objects ranging from “a passing car” to “a knackered old coffee machine”; taking those elements and creating a record that is so charming and real it stands up next to more widely known comparable artists such as Atlas Sound or Sparklehorse. The hard work and passion has not been ignored, and Wilde is an artist teetering on the brink of big things. What better way to find out what’s next and how he got here than meeting the man himself in his own bohemian neighbourhood for a coffee and a chat. When we meet up with Oli he’s sitting in a South Bristol café with just his candy apple red Gibson Firebird for company. “I got out of hospital yesterday,” he tells us. He’s been suffering from the effects of a heart murmur. “Bristol’s a bit much, it’s tempting to get out there and do stuff but I’ve really got to be strict with myself and just do nothing. I’m going back to Somerset.” We can’t blame the man for wanting to take a load off. It’s been an exciting year already, with his album being picked up by Bristol’s foremost DIY enthusiasts Howling Owl. Still, he remains unflustered by the change in tempo from unassuming record store worker to in-demand singer/songwriter. “Before all this happened I was quite happy making these songs in my bedroom and chucking them up on Soundcloud. One day they must have heard my stuff online, and Adrian [from Howling Owl] dropped me a message saying ‘Could we put this out?’” It was clearly a significant moment for Wilde. “It’s such a massive deal to me, putting something so precious in someone else’s hands, but I’ve known the guys a couple of years. It’s a trust thing. It felt natural to me at the time and I definitely haven’t regretted it.” Wilde’s been creating music in his bedroom for years, taking notes from the likes of R. Stevie Moore and Mark Linkous. “In inverted commas” he smiles, “I really like ‘bedroom artists.’”

…Unnatural Lightyears reflects his love for analogue recording, with an expansive, warm, scratchy sound that could really only come from the paradoxical restriction/freedom that less-than-perfect recording equipment offers. “There’s something about going into an environment where you’ve paid to be there”, Wilde contemplates. “It creates a state of mind for an artist, a sort of unnecessary pressure. I like being in my environment.” It becomes evident over the course of a couple of coffees that this is more than just a music nerd’s hobby, it’s actually more like a life’s pursuit. It takes time and dedication to make things sound this effortless. “When I come to record, it starts off acoustic and I might add a synth part or some electric guitar. It’s when there’s just a song there, recorded, that would maybe be alright on its on own that I think ‘right, what can I do? Put a distorted Pringles pot on there? Or the sound of my microwave on a tape recorder?’” He even goes as far as to suggest he might always reject the studio environment in favour of his own bedroom, casting these thoughts with no uncertainty. “Do painters have to paint in studios? Can’t they just get an easel and a bit of canvas and do it in their room? I guess they can. Does a poet need to go somewhere to write his poetry? It’s just not like that.” What’s striking about Oli is that no matter how laid back he may seem at this table, in this café, his music and his words reflect a fanatical obsession with the way music can contemplate and convey humanity. He briefly reflects on his spell in hospital, time spent writing and collecting samples on his mobile phone. “I’m not gonna do a hospital record or anything, but in terms of inspiration – whether it’s something good or bad – inspiration can come from anywhere. The fact I’m writing in hospital doesn’t mean it’s going to be depressing. Sometimes I’ll write really depressing songs on really sunny days.” His sincerity is captivating. “It’s important for people to appreciate you poetically; it’s even more magical if they can identify with you personally. You always have to be honest.” There’s a pause while our thoughtful young singer collects himself. “Whether it’s happy or sad, it’s always truthful.” ---------A Brief Introduction to Unnatural Lightyears is released on July 22nd via Howling Owl Records

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T UNE The Throw

WO R D S I s i s O ’ Re g an

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S I TE f acebook .com/Jag w arMa

JAGWAR MA Jono Ma and Gab Winterfield have recently been the subject – and cool survivors – of a potentially crippling wave of hype. The dangerous dose administered to Jagwar Ma could have destroyed them, yet the experimental Australian duo remain immune and continue to conquer expectation, all the while remaining admirably calm. With a reputation growing since last year’s Come Save Me single, their debut full-length Howlin was finally unleashed last month to the savages, who consumed and basked in every sumptuous beat and harmony. The sense of anticipation was no doubt aided by the support of a certain Oxford band called Foals, who publicly praised the duo and invited them on tour. But reacting to the pressure, vocalist Gab retains a typical Antipodean cool, preferring to focus on the genuine praise of real fans. “I love it when people commend us on things we’ve done, because that’s real”, he insists. “The record is out and it’s a physical thing now. I don’t like projection sort of stuff because that to me is just hype and it’s not real.” Although wary of premature glory, Gab is equally wary of seeming ungrateful, quick to pay thanks for the “beautiful compliments” they’ve received. While the band’s combination of live instrumentation and sparkling production undoubtedly draws on the fluid rhythms of the Madchester era, Howlin is far from a tribute to a celebrated age. It’s an album which takes you on a journey of sound and experience; from the acid haze of the Hacienda to the idyllic sands of their homeland, embracing the expanses of euphoric, festival-ready psychedelic pop and the clammy confines of a houseobsessed dancefloor. Back in 2011, Jagwar Ma formed organically as the members’ previous bands Ghostwood and Lost Valentinos didn’t quite go to plan. But by this stage, Gab explains, the friendship between him and Jono has become akin to family. “Jono is a little bit older than me, so I’m like the little brother. But I like that, it’s kind of cool,” he states. “It’s a pretty chilled relationship.” They officially formed as part of a niche indie/punk/electronic scene in Sydney which influenced their early experimentation. When it comes to their moniker of choice, Gab avoids specifics, hinting towards a nickname and a shared love of cats, but they knew they’d found a perfect fit. “We made the decision with the name quite quickly and I liked that,” he clarifies. “I think you can hear that in a name when you say it, I don’t like it when bands just go for anything.”

When it came to recording Howlin, Jagwar Ma chose to decamp to a friend’s attic on a farm south of Paris. Such a detached setting proved testing for the duo, yet this seclusion removed them from any outside influences. “Because we were in isolation when we made the record, other factors of what was trendy at the time went out the window”, Gab explains. “There’s definitely a vibe there, but we just wanted to create our own.” A key element of the process was Gab and Jono continuously trying to outdo one another. “We try to impress each other, I think it’s a competitive thing. I would want to show him stuff that I could do and he would show me stuff he could do.” Each track grew exponentially with the two of them adding their own elements, be it vocals, drums or samples. The boys’ musical tastes and influences are as expectedly eclectic as their debut album suggests, and Gab proudly tell us that his current addiction is the R&B legend Aaliyah. As he delves into dissecting the album, he stresses that “each song has its own little world, sort of like Super Mario Brothers, y’know?” From this somewhat unexpected comparison, the singer's love for video games quickly reveals itself: he discloses a theory about their philosophical meaning, and claims they will be soon seen as works of art, just like portraiture or photography. But ultimately, one of the key appeals for Gab comes in video game soundtracks: yet another, less expected element to drop into the band’s pool of influences. The timing of Howlin and the subsequent ripples of favourable reaction couldn’t have been better. With their luminous and expansive sound working its way into countless ears, festival season beckons. Bestival, Reading and Leeds and Glastonbury are all on the horizon as we speak, where Jagwar Ma will get to experience the UK’s response in the flesh. Gab is apprehensive about the notoriously ‘lively’ UK festival experience – they are after all more accustomed to chilled out cheese and wine nights with The xx from their time supporting them on their Australian tour. But he is typically pragmatic about his band’s growing tag of ‘sound of the summer’. “You can’t have an album of the summer without summer” he drawls. “And the London summer so far isn’t looking so great.”

--------Howlin is out now via Marathon Artists. Jagwar Ma play Bestival, September 5th-8th

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C R A C K F A S H I O N : J U ly 2 0 1 3

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Daniella wears Swimsuit | We Are Handsome Earrings | Mawi Shoes | See By Chloe ~

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Hat | Agnes b Dress | Stylist own Jacket | Edeline Lee Latex Ankle Socks | Atsuko Kudo Sandals | Vagabond


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Tom wears Slim Grey Slack’s | American Apparrel Pocket T-shirt | Comme Des Garcons Vintage Levi’s shirt | Beyond Retro Vintage Biker jacket | Rokit Leather wristband | stylist's own ~

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Danielle wears Corset dress | PPQ Necklace | Mawi Earrings | Mawi ~

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Tom wears Denim shorts | Jack Jones T-shirt | American Apparrel Vintage Levi’s shirt | Beyond Retro ~

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Danielle wears Swimsuit | We Are Handsome Mesh top | Ukulele Double ring | Mawi Pendant | Mawi Earrings | Mawi Shoes | See By Chloe ~

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CREDITS Fashion Stylist | Sarah Marie Collins Photographer | Cochi Esse Hair and Make Up | Lucy Martinez Fashion Assistant | Luna Diaz Photography Assistant | Valeria Gaeta Model | Tom Leigh (Elite) Model | Danielle Copperman (Select) ~

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T UNE Ge t By

TALIB KWELI

Talib Kweli, as the saying goes, is a rapper’s rapper. Always an agile and energetic MC, he’ll ride over any beat deemed quality with rapidly delivered, syllable heavy verses crammed with imagery-rich similes and thought provoking couplets. As the son of an English professor and an administrator at Long Island’s Adelphi University, he’s always attacked hip-hop from an intellectual angle, and when coming up as a respected underground artist in New York during the mid 90s, he earned his stripes at open mic poetry nights as well as freestyle ciphers in Washington Square park. “If skills sold, truth be told/I’d probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli” goes Jay-Z’s famous shout out on Moment of Clarity, from his chart dominating record The Black Album. In response to Hova’s respectful gesture, Talib rapped: “If lyrics sold, then truth be told/ I’d probably be, just as rich and famous as Jay-Z”, in partial agreement with the idea that profits rarely mirror the expertise of the hip-hop artist. But although Talib Kweli has never compromised his lyrical craft, he’s tasted commercial success many times. Following the hype of his collaborative Black Star album with Mos Def, Kweli emerged from the underground in 2000 with his debut solo album Quality, which mounted the charts with help of the anthem Get By, produced by a promising young talent going by the name of Kanye West. As an artist who often embeds his rhymes with positive social and political messages, Talib Kweli has always deviated (or, some would argue, outclassed) the womanising, ultra hedonistic and aggressively capitalist rap star persona that’s remained highly marketable for decades. Yet he’s not a fan of rigid and limiting categories, especially the now pejorative ‘conscious rapper’ tag, hence the name of his new album – Prisoner of Conscious. “It’s not so much focused on the ills of the world per se, it’s more focused on what I might be going through personally, and hopefully other people can relate to that”, he tells us, in relation to the lyrical direction of the record. “And there are definitely songs with me just announcing myself as a hip-hop artist, with a very aggressive and competitive approach”. While the Black Star record remains a firm favourite in the music collections of retroleaning, ‘real hip-hop’ heads – the types who’d dismiss the likes of Drake, Lil Wayne and Future as wafer thin, glossy ringtone rap – Talib Kweli is by no means a traditionalist. Along with veterans such as RZA and Busta Rhymes, Prisoner of Conscious’s credits list includes a brigade of high-profile new artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Curren$y, Harry Fraud and Miguel. “I think Miguel’s career testifies that there are different types of hip-hop he likes and he’s glad to work with, and I also think that my career clearly states that attitude”, he says. “I’ve worked with Will.I.Am, Justin Timberlake and Norah Jones, know what I’m saying? I’ll work with a diverse bunch of artists, and I’m always going to be thinking outside the box.”

It’s a statement which illustrates Talib Kweli’s attitude. He’s not willing to compromise the substance of his rhymes, but he wants his voice to be projected from the highest platform possible. So when Kweli first heard Kendrick Lamar smuggle commentary about the perils of alcohol abuse in the radio-friendly banger Swimming Pools (Drank), it’s easy to picture him nodding in admiration. “I think Kendrick and his Black Hippy crew were smart with the way in which they positioned themselves, they made it so that the people got to hear the music”, he says, “Because there’s always quality artists out there, but those artists haven’t always figured out how to get the music heard”. But whether Talib Kweli is spitting pearls of wisdom or simply exercising his abilities as a rapper and entertainer, he remains a truly politicised presence. Shortly before our interview, his Twitter feed brings our attention to a headline regarding Assata Shakur, the step-aunt of Tupac. In 1977 Shakur – a former member of the militant Black Liberation Army group – was convicted of allegedly murdering police officer Werner Foerster during a shootout which occurred in 1973. After breaking out of jail, Shakur escaped to Cuba, where she’s apparently been known to publicly express her anti-American views. On the recent 40th anniversary of Foerster’s death, the FBI added her to their ‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ list, making her the first woman to be included. Kweli has always argued that Shakur was wrongly convicted, so how does he feel about her being branded a ‘terrorist’? “I think it’s a distraction. It’s clearly propaganda, it’s fear tactics, like the way they’ve used the Boston Bombings to spread fear. Even if you feel that Assata Shakur was guilty of the crimes she was charged with – which I don’t – to say that this 65-year-old woman who’s been in Cuba for the last 30 years is a primary terrorist threat? So you have to put a billboard up on the freeway saying ‘If you see this person’?! C’mon, ya’ll know where she’s at, you’re not going to see her in New Jersey, know what I’m saying?. And that’s just dealing with the propaganda, that’s not even dealing with the flaws of the case against Assata.” So Talib Kweli may be wrestling out of the ‘conscious rapper’ category, and he’s wise to do so, but will he keep utilising his amplified voice to promote positivity? “I can’t speak for every artist…” he declares, in a cautious move to not sound too righteous, “But personally, I feel that I must continue to do that”. --------Prisoner of Conscious is available now via EMI

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SINK THE PINK one of london' s most outrageous party CO L L EC TI V ES are WORDS Tho mas Frost

When two best friends became dissatisfied with the perceived monotony of London nightlife, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Glynn Fussell and Amy Redmond's mutual love of camp, kitsch, festivalinspired, home-friendly party debauchery complete with trannies, décor and decadence saw them form one of London’s most alternative and reputable party promoters: Sink The Pink. Five years later it’s still going strong, and what’s more, they’re spreading their particular brand of hedonism to Bristol. Crack got behind the party.

What kind of venues were you using to start with?

Glynn: Usually mine!

Glynn: We’ve made a conscious decision not to use a gay club. The spaces have always been off the beaten track so it feels hidden. We also wanted somewhere that, if you are a gay guy you can bring your sister or your friend from work.

What do you do with a venue when it’s a functional, dark club space?

Amy: We’ve always done weird spaces, like a railway arch in Bethnal Green, an art gallery ... now we’re in a working men’s club in Bethnal Green. The downstairs is like the old boys club and they are always still drinking when we’re in there, so there’s a nice community feel to it. There’s depth to it, rather than just putting on a party.

What’s Sink The Pink’s back-story, how did it all start? Are you inspired by things like the NYC Downlow at Glastonbury? Glynn: We’ve been doing the night for five years. In the past we’d been going out and every night we attended was either too dark, or too expensive, or there were brawls, and there were these awful nights that were stereotyped as gay or straight. So we literally just sat there and wrote a list of things we did and didn’t like about parties. House parties were a really big inspiration, where there are no rules, no one on the door, everyone is welcome and there’s stuff happening that shouldn’t happen because it’s behind a wall. We wanted to harness that feeling. Amy: We’d go out in Soho and Vauxhall and be like ‘really, are these the options?’ We were in a bar in Soho recently and we thought to ourselves ‘this is why we started Sink The Pink, guys.’ People posing slouched against the wall on their phone. It was totally cliché. We wanted to create our own experience that had that feeling when you’re on the third day of a festival and it’s all very celebratory. We wanted that fancy dress, crazy feeling in a club.

S I TE si nk t hepi nk l ondon.com

spreading their magic to bristol

Amy: They’re like our drag mothers. But now there are a number of young drag queens in our scene that think of us as the mothers, so it just recycles itself. It’s a really nice scene where everyone looks out for each other. Do you want people to attend your event for the show as much as the music? Glynn: We always think ours is more like an event than a club night. We’ve got a number of shows and we’re always thinking what we can do at the next one. By the end of the night everyone is in some shit outfit. Amy: In London there are enough themed novelty nights, but we’re not about hen party-esque ‘lets all be happy cowboys and Indians’ style nonsense. But there will be colour and the odd bollock hanging out.

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Amy: My boyfriend is a set designer and he has got ridiculous skills in terms of building sets. We’ve got a massive Care Bear that is also a gay bear, a huge banana cock and Ariel with her tits out – among other things. We’ve got a whole set we’re bringing down with us. So what is the inspiration for expanding to Bristol? Glynn: We went down for the In Between Times festival in Bristol, for their equestrian-themed party at Lakota. We had the side room and it was dark, sweaty and naughty, and we put up loads of pictures of celebrities that looked like horses. For me, that was a moment. I was really keen to do it because I’m from Bristol originally and in the back of my mind I wanted to take Sink The Pink there. Bristol clubbers have a very strong festival mentality. Other than Alfresco Disco I don’t think there is anyone in Bristol who represents our scene. The gay scene isn’t particularly progressive, but there is a good crowd that would support this. The way we’re going to tailor it is our London party is the first Saturday of the month, and we’ll pick a theme and take it Bristol. Amy: We’ll definitely give you a lot of ‘what the fucks?’

----------Sink the Pink comes to The Exchange, Bristol on July 12th


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W ORD S Th o ma s Pai nte r

49

SONAR

P H O TOS Garet h T homas + O scar

B ar c e l on a | J u n e 1 3 - 1 6 t h

The scale of Sonar is something that has to be seen to be believed, the cultural heart of Catalonia playing host to over 120,000 festivalgoers with a minimum of compromises. Besides a typically impressive line-up, there were opportunities to try out the latest music tech, ride dodgems and watch short films and music documentaries between acts.

the music festival. Unfortunately, the events were somewhat under promoted, and felt like a less than fully-formed attempt at Sonar justifying its tag as a multimedia festival. With seminars on the music business in the digital age and a collaborative music hack day, as well as the numerous collaborative performances throughout the festival, the emphasis was firmly on sharing ideas.

at Sonar by Night’s main Sonar Club stage. The huge 3D visuals accompanying the performance added an element of fun to an impressive two hour set from one of dance music’s most legendary acts. Incorporating futuristic jump suits, a dub techno rendition of Computer Love and over 10 minutes of Autobahn, the show demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that Kraftwerk were here first and they still do it the best.

The new venue for Sonar’s day events has lent itself surprisingly well to hosting a music festival, indeed the act of taking an escalator to see bands perform seemed perfectly natural. A central courtyard and main stage separated two indoor stages and Sonar+D making a compact and well organised space for the many facets of Sonar.

On Friday this theme was continued by AtomTM and Diamond Version (Alva Noto and Beytone) both giving their take on Kraftwerk’s electro blueprint, robotic voices delivering anti-corporate messages throughout both sets. The hugely positive response to this Raster-Noton showing was well justified: Diamond Version’s harsh strobing visuals and pounding digital noise was a real highlight, and an ideal warm-up for the robots’ performance that evening.

The only thing more baffling than Skrillex following Kraftwerk later in the night was the number of people moaning about it. Thankfully, no drops or complaints were audible over the varied incarnations of techno at the Sonar Lab stage. Objekt gave an unrelenting performance followed by Karenn, who have cleaned up their trademark live sound, delivering pounding hardware techno with the rawness that originally grabbed our attention. The night concluded with a sunrise set from Derrick May, last but not least on a bill that expressed perfectly when, where and what techno is all about.

The recently reformed Metro Area’s set of melodic techno was highly enjoyable despite the occasional technical issue, bringing a well known and loved sound back to life with an accomplished live show. It was striking just how ‘live’ Lindstrøm and Todd Terje’s bouncy analogue collaboration was, the duo alternately tapping out loose rhythms on drum machines and hunching over old keyboards. Fun and easy to dance to, the set peaked with an excellent version of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody providing the highlight of Thursday’s music. Thursday also provided an opportunity to explore Sonar+D, the interactive conference attached to

Sonar by night occupies a larger exhibition space than the day event, slightly further out of the centre, with four stages spread across two vast outdoor courtyards and two indoor spaces reminiscent of aircraft hangars. The hundred thousand strong crowd was accommodated with ease and the sound filled the arenas with a power and clarity that gave DJs and live acts alike an outstanding forum for their performances. Kraftwerk’s headline show followed an accomplished, but obviously nervous set from Raime

On to Saturday’s daytime event, where Chromatics’ brand of cold electronic pop offered a strange contrast to the baking afternoon sun on the outdoor main stage. The icy synths and soft vocals made an ideal tonic for any heads still reverberating from the previous night. Felix Kubin and James Pants’s show later in the day attracted a mixed crowd, curious to see what the esoteric pair would bring to their first joint live performance. Unfortunately, the collaboration promised more than it delivered,

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recycling ideas and leaning heavily on the quirkiness of the cult musicians. Where Kubin and Pants disappointed, Vatican Shadow’s new live sound made a surprising and successful sidestep into big room techno. The significant change eschewed the limp distorted drums those familiar with Vatican Shadow would recognise and instead underpinned noisy arabesque drones with punishing kick drums and chattering percussion. More surprising than the change of style was the willingness with which the crowd engaged with the performance, responding to Dominik Fernow’s martial image and relentless sound with raised fists and emphatic dancing. The high point of Saturday’s by night schedule was undoubtedly Pet Shop Boys, whose wonderfully camp performance came complete with costume changes, backing dancers on pogo sticks dressed in tinsel, and confetti cannons. The legendary Laurent Garnier closed in the not-so-small hours of Sunday morning with a hard but accessible set. Garnier spread his attention across three CDJs manipulating them and the crowd deftly, moving between trance, techno, house, dark and light with ease.

-----------

For more info visit sonar.es


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50

G L A S T O N B U R Y WO R D S T h om as Fr os t , D av i d Re e d , A n n a Te h ab s i m

Whoever thinks Glastonbury isn’t what it used to be is wrong. Glastonbury is an event which evolves year on year, incorporating advances in music and technology in order to create the most epic festival experience you can possibly have. It’s organised tightly, yet it’s lawless enough to provide you with adventure after debauched adventure, and everyone of note plays it for a cut price because they all reckon it’s one of the biggest, most culturally significant festivals on the planet. Not even the fact Mumford and Sons have re-affirmed the frail condition of British guitar music can dampen our excitement. You can never deny Glastonbury. You just deny yourself. And this year, the sun was out. Thursday On Thursday, a revised Dance Village – now called Silver Hayes – played host to a seven-hour Visionquest marathon at the Jamaican shanty town-style stage called The Blues. Later over at the Village Underground, the crowd revelled in the prospect of just how dark and scary Blawan might take it. Dark and scary won over as he built up to raging 140 bpm powertech. Perhaps Blawan’s first night enthusiasm had made a dent in his drinks rider, as techno horror anthem Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage? was bizarrely wheeled back, puzzling even the unintentionally hilarious MC who’d somehow gained access to the stage. With a roster of around 30 dancing transvestites and a soundtrack of pure unadulterated New York disco, there’s such a wealth of good feeling in the NYC Downlow area it’s hard not to be taken in. With a combination of bears, intrigued straight men and beautiful women, the sexual energy was palpably flowing. Crack returned here time and time again for the likes of Horse Meat Disco, Kerri Chandler and Maurice Fulton. But these were just our hors d’oeuvres, the mains were still in the wings.

full flow. If the mood takes you and the sun is coming up, then you know what to do. And as we trudged, topless, out of Shangri-Hell hours later, with a group of seven guys we’d acquired who all happened to be called Tom (we lovingly nicknamed them Tom Tom Club), the weirdness continued apace. Stone Circle, with the hippies, 7am. It’s all hazy, it’s all wonderful, a man turned round in front of us and it’s only bloody Skrillex getting amongst it. Excitement reached fever pitch, but we resisted the urge to discuss the finer points of EDM with the man himself. Oh, and Zoe Ball was there too – going in hard. But this wonderful madness was preceded by some unforgettable performances. It’s already common knowledge that Savages are one of this country’s most viscerally powerful live bands right now, but their venomous post-punk sounded more galvanised than ever on the John Peel stage. But then the dilemma. If we checked out Nas at the Sonic stage, we might not get a decent place for a certain canonical rock ‘n’ roll act. We decided to risk it, because after all, Nas is the author of the platonic form of a classic rap record, and his 2012 album Life Is Good was the best he’s made in about 50 years. He rocked up with a live band, and we got to see him nail six or seven tunes including The Don, NY State of Mind and Represent. OK, so maybe some of Ronnie and Keefs riffage sounded a tad sloppy if you watched it on TV, but The Rolling Stones unleashed a hit-laden set that generated a collective sensation of mass euphoria. And if you didn’t feel a lump in their throat during Wild Horses you’re a heartless bastard. The encore of You Can’t Always Get What You Want and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction provided arms-round-your-mate moments from a band that are the epitome of pure rock ‘n’ roll. You want a headliner? That was a fucking headliner, and age should have proved no barrier to people’s love of this experience. A fire breathing phoenix, a backing choir and fireworks created a climax that’ll live long in the memories of all in attendance. Sunday

Friday Friday’s music made for a happy and fruitful introduction to the weekend with Tame Impala’s set growing from tepid to the full psychedelic guitar jam excellence we knew it could be. A trip over to West Holts for some 80s dance pop nostalgia in the shape of Tom Tom Club was extremely rewarding, with new track Downtown Rockers proving particularly infectious along with classics Wordy Rappinghood and Genius of Love, both of which resulted in an en masse singalong. The news that Dinosaur Jr. have departed with their heroically unfashionable drummer Murph stirred a little heartache. But spirits were immediately lifted by the fact their set at The Park saw them on incredible form, with sweet ‘n’ fuzzy indie-rock anthems like The Wagon, Freak Scene and Little Fury Things sounding as good, if not better than they probably did back in the early 90s. Then Alt-J. Oh Alt-J. Yes the album is decent, even if the Mercury Music Prize was way too much, but the closing 20 minutes of their set carried about as much euphoria and noteworthy moments as our walk from the car park to our tents Thank fuck then, that Foals picked this occasion to execute a career-defining gig. Ridiculously hyped from the off, the energy of a ramped up Yannis Philippakis was at an unchartered level, ending up in the crowd twice while the rest of the band bounced onstage like men possessed. Inhaler and Providence did the heavy end of their new album total justice, while Olympic Airways and set closer Two Steps, Twice provide fans of the earlier material with more than enough ammunition. A stage show befitting a headliner added even further to their clout, but what we got on the Friday was a proper headliner, and that wasn’t Alex Turner’s mob rolling out the not-yet-classic hits. Portishead’s Other Stage headline performance yet again reminded everyone what a varied and truly beautiful beast Portishead are. In a weekend that felt lacking in potent political messages, the appearance of a huge demonic David Cameron head firing red lasers from its eyes during Machine Gun, was a much needed blast of anti-establishment rhetoric, as was the rising mushroom cloud CND symbol. With Beth Gibbons’ voice sounding as piercingly emotive as ever, we had our first sob of the weekend. Saturday Crack’s Saturday was punctuated by the sun and the overwhelming theme of the weekend: tops off! Getting your top off, male or female, is a liberating experience and in the freethinking mecca that is Glastonbury, we took every opportunity we had to remove our garms and enjoy the sunshine. The best thing about the tops off experience is that it can take place in the blazing heat of a sunny hillside, as it did on Saturday afternoon with the sounds of Melody’s Echo Chamber in our ears, or in Block 9’s new Genesis stage with Bicep in

Cultivated but raw, dignified yet gloriously sleazy – Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ set reminded us that the world would be a much poorer place without them. Undoubtedly the best dressed band of the weekend, they fired through their greatest misses including The Mercy Seat, People Ain’t No Good and Stagger Lee, which saw Cave lock eyes with a female fan down the front, sending an excruciatingly intense sensation through the audience. Unfortunately, an unquestionably low point of the festival hit us later on. After The Park stage played host to Cat Power’s increasingly diverse and accomplished musical output, and as the last few bars of her recent track Ruin ebbed away at the suspiciously early curfew, a large crowd arrived in expectation of jaw-dropping surprise act to grace the stage. The National? Atoms For Peace? Either would have done, and Cat Power’s set had finished with more than enough time to accommodate another act. The crowd waited for around 30 minutes while a new light rig was brought out, before a voice came on the speaker system informing us that there would be no secret act on the stage. After Pulp, Biffy Clyro and Radiohead have delivered sets in recent years, the decision to programme the stage like this was bewildering and, at worst, unfair. The Park’s loss was Bobby Womack and the balloon dispensers’ gain, as we all enjoyed some soulful nitrous to pixelate our sorrows away. We felt a peculiar chill when accidentally witnessing roughly two minutes of Mumford And Sons’ finale of With A Little Help From My Friends, where, you guessed it, they got some of their mates (The Vaccines, Vampire Weekend and more) out for a heinous rendition. We’re all for fresh faces at Glastonbury, but when your headline slot has been secured solely on record sales and winning Grammys (which let’s face it is hardly the barometer of British musical taste) you leave yourself in real danger of alienating the progressive blueprint Glastonbury has established in recent years. But a trip to the Dance Village for The Wow!’s Hessle Audio showcase was the electronic highlight of the weekend, as these young British techno creators yet again proved no-one in the UK does it half as well as they do. Jackmaster’s sunrise set in The Temple provided an aptly rousing finale, with Love Is In The Air and I’ve Had The Time Of My Life ramping up the cheese factor and the love factor equally. Best party DJ in the world, bar none. As we gazed on two security guards dancing their little socks off and many, many people below partying until the sun rose up in the sky, you couldn’t help but feel a bit teary. It doesn’t really matter where you are at Glastonbury. You could be partying in 50 other places and be having an equally incredible time. But for this reviewer, with his nearest and dearest around all weekend making the social element as crucial to the event as the decor, the music and the party, it again surpassed what it’s possible for a festival to achieve. To the circle for some Alice In Wonderland shit. Glastonbury is one big rabbit-hole. -----------

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Worthy Farm , Pilton | J une 27 th - 3 0 th

PH O TO S C h r i s C oop e r, B ar r y D e l an e y, M at t S m i t h

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52

Problems? C p

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r o

b

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a e

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p

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Hitting Glastonbury with ...

Denzil Schniffermann Denzil may be renowned for strategising,

Dear Denzil,

Mate,

Dear Denzil

synergising and monetising in the wild

Before you helped me out on Saturday I’d sold two grinders all week. Thanks to you streamlining my product-to-customer flow (offering poppers samples to the passing trade), I’d sold out of every brand of room odouriser by the end and I’m running low on bongs ‘n all. You’re a marketing marvel,

Staying in the tipi field doesn’t make you better than me. Just thought I’d let you know.

once a year, he likes to let rip. Like, proper

Was it you I saw at The Stone Circle on Wednesday lambasting hippies for their shocking dress sense and questionable odours, and then on Sunday night leading a bongo rendition of No Limits by 2 Unlimited wearing a poncho, a pair of sparkly leggings and a fedora? What happened?

let rip. There’s a fire behind those thick-

Kevin, 43, Colchester

Harry the Head, 55, Devon

rimmed specs.

Denzil says:

Denzil says:

I’ve always had a penchant for the more free and easy way of life. Beneath the cold exterior of a man who can number crunch seven figure multiplication sums and mentally calculate your tax return within minutes, I’ve had the ability to ride the hippy train to the sacred lands of Avalon. It just took a few weird tablets and a kind-hearted Levellers fan called Jeremy to take me back there.

No need to thank me. It’s what I do.

Yes it does. It means I earn more money. I’m hanging round with more successful people. At one point I had Ross Kemp on one side and Skrillex on the other. And have you seen the interior design in those little huts? African print, double bed and an in-house maid. I had 15 showers in five days. Plus I got to watch my boys Mumford from the side of the stage while sharing a West Country cider with Michael Eavis. If you’re one of the rest don’t mess with the best.

environs of the boardroom, but anyone who knows him will tell you that at least

So he packed his waterproof blazer, a bottle of decent quality scotch and a solar-power fax machine and made his

Dear Deirdre Schniffermann,

divided between wandering the hills

Were you in Block 9 in the early hours of Sunday morning doing The Bogle with a seven-foot transvestite and claiming you’d text your missus to let her know about your life choice?

trying to get a bluetooth connection,

Omar, 35, London

way down to Worthy Farm. The days were

losing his shit to Don Letts at the Spirit of ’71 Stage, and offering a range of vendors his unique blend of marketing nous and life-coaching. But when darkness fell, that’s when Denz was really let off the leash. Here’s a glimpse of why his nickname is now the Pilton Powerhouse.

Wiggy, 20, Corsham Denzil says:

Denzil says: That’s outrageous. I was in Block 9 checking out some beats with my favourite disco divas, Marianne Unfaithful and Penny Tration. We go way, way back. And don’t bring Ms Schniff into it. The fact she’s on an all expenses paid pampering break to Marbella has got nothing to do with this.

// any problems? Contact Denzil@ crackmagazine.net

//


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Live Music

Danny Bro wn The Fleece, Bristol | June 13th When rap’s most outspoken ecstasy enthusiast arrives tonight, there’s the initial concern that he’s literally dissipated all the serotonin in his brain. The Detroit MC is hooded and visibly pale, following three apparently insane UK shows which make up just a smidgen of his ‘Old and Reckless Tour’, named in reference to the fact that at 32, his new school hip-hop peers consider him to be ancient. But within minutes he burst into life, tearing off the hoodie to expose his unkempt, side shaved ‘fro and his androgynous dress-length t-shirt – the kind of attire which freaks out narrow-minded rap conservatives “with oversized clothes, who complain about my jeans cos I’m taking all they hoes!”, as he howls gleefully on his 2011 rally cry Blunt After Blunt. You could argue that Brown’s got more UK fans because of his hilarious viral video interviews than his actual rapping skills, but then that wouldn’t explain why underneath the sea of snapbacks down the front, there’s mouths reciting every single lyric, including the depictions of brutal poverty in songs like Monopoly which make you sympathise with this guy no matter how vulgar he gets. Months later, it seems like many people are still sniggering about the time Danny Brown received a blow job on stage, despite the fact he tacitly agreed with Kitty Pryde’s argument that he was, in fact, the victim of a sexual assault. When a female fan invades the stage and grinds against him, the atmosphere is deeply uncomfortable. But Brown handles the situation gracefully, unlike the guy who’s promptly shoulder barged back into the crowd by his juggernaut tour manager. Detractors might see Brown’s expiry date on the horizon, but when the ferocious kaleidoscopic synth stabs of new track Kush Koma are unleashed, there’s a feeling his new album could epitomise the era when hip-hop’s rulebook was torn to pieces.

© Paul Whitfield

---------Words: David Reed Photo: Paul Whitfield

Al va N o t o + Ry u ic h i S ak am oto

Tam e Imp a la

Chic

M u d h o n e y, M e a t P u p p e ts + M E TZ

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre | June 19th

Hammersmith Apollo | June 25th

The Forum, Kentish Town | June 14th

Manchester Academy | June 7th

It was a sit-down concert of the stillest order, this; played to a couple of thousand onlookers at the Royal Festival Hall. Nothing tainted the austere clarity of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Yamaha grand and its interplay with Carsten Nicolai’s occasionally-mind-blowing electronics. It was truly contemplative.

Tame Impala returned to London for the first time since September’s Brixton Academy show that, for many, symbolised the band’s progression from cult jammers to modern day psychedelic superstars.

It’s difficult to know where to start with a gig like this. You could begin by mentioning Nicky Siano’s valiant attempts at transforming the Forum into a simulacra of Studio 54’s sweaty sophistication. You could mention our excited gasps when we saw Chic assemble at the back of the stage.

It’s a rare occasion you’re offered the chance to see two sets of legends on a line-up topped off by Sub Pop’s noisiest newcomers METZ.

Each smouldering track took a similar shape where Sakamoto was concerned; jazzily abstracted halfimprovised chords giving way to plinks, plonks, and meddling with the piano’s strings. The textural variety was left to Nicolai. Incisive bleeps punctuated roughly-hewn sweeps of distortion with satisfying regularity. Rhythms of every shade were hinted at, and never fully materialised. But the real highlight was actually Alva Noto’s visuals, bleeding to the whole width of a horizontal screen the length of the stage. Beginning as a solitary waveform morphing in sync with the musicians’ sonic gestures, by the second tune it was hypnosis. A swarm of mysterious white tadpoles fluxed in tandem like a flock of sparrows against a shimmering background of blue, purple, and orange. Sakamoto looked desperate to play the pained artist, pulling back locks of grey hair before plunging with impassioned vigour onto a single note. But then again, this was his prerogative, and the art delivered in spades.

Kevin Parker’s confidence and comfort at centre stage made it clear he has taken his band’s seemingly ceilingless ascent in his stride. At Brixton he had been humble, even nervous, but here he brimmed with the glow of a man who belongs. The band’s songs have grown simultaneously to the personality of the individual behind them. The drum solo in the audience-igniting Elephant, once brief and boisterous, became a gargantuan, full-band jam. Outside of the lucid and free-flowing fusions of this set, we were treated to plenty of straight-up bangers. Apocalypse Dreams, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Mind Mischief all went down like missiles of ecstasy to the sold out crowd, whilst album cuts like Keep on Lying were hugely complimented by the band’s greatly improved visual show. Ending on the anthemic Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control, the band left the stage victorious once again, an exit that can only assure spectators that this is one of the live bands of our day.

You could try to explain how a band could toss off a song as monumental as Dance, Dance, Dance as their second song. You could try to sum up two hours of the most joyous music ever made. You could attempt to convey just how effortlessly charming Nile Rodgers was. You could begin to explain the feeling that hearing Spacer live, in a room full of people who wanted to dance all night, invoked and inspired. You could think of another time in your life where you felt every worry, every scrap of doubt vanish, replaced by a desire to live this moment for as long as possible, before you could only think that a night like this is a night like this because it doesn’t happen every night. So you sit there, trying to recompose the evening, struggling to summarise what could have been the most enjoyable evening you’d ever had, but how can you? This night was why music is the best thing we will ever have. -–-–-–-–--

-–-–-–-–--

The most glaring feature of METZ was just how loud everything was – like a primordial club to our soft heads, the band pierced their audience with snare upon snare amidst a background of abominable noise. But despite their ferocious efforts, Meat Puppets really took it to the next level. They reeked of flair, freestyling their way through I’m A Mindless Idiot and Plateau, scowling band leader Curt Kirkwood offset by the lunacy of his brother Cris’s bass-caressing and squirming. For much of the crowd there was only one act who could own the stage. Amidst Mudhoney’s 25-song set came the mass singalong of I Like It Small and grungeforegrounding anthem You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face). The inevitable moshpit enveloped hordes of topless punks with the opening bars of Touch Me I’m Sick. With revellers hurling themselves upwards in a gravity-defying ruckus, Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More came in a flood of despicable grottiness. A trio of classic hardcore tracks by Fang, The Dicks and Black Flag closed Mudhoney’s set with testament to an undeniable truth: these guitars aren’t going away any time soon. -–-–-–-–-–-

Words: Josh Baines ----------

Words: James Balmont

Words: James Balmont

Words: Nick Johnstone

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55

Fo u n d Haggerston Park, Shoreditch | June 15th Found began in the autumn of 2011 as a cooperative effort between ten promoters. They built a decent fanbase, hosted names like Todd Edwards, Jimmy Edgar and Kyle Hall, and 18 months later, they organised a festival. We arrived in time to catch Tim Sweeney play the Tief & Trouble Vision tent. The Beats in Space maestro played the kind of cosmic(-ish), balearic(-ish), italo/house/techno(-ish) set he’s known for, warming up a slowly filling space with genre-skirting music. From there we headed to the Magna Carta tent, where wAFF was commanding an already-full tent with elastic, Hot Creations-style house. Session Victim’s discoid, soulful house selections buoyed an increasingly receptive audience, and the boys’ unguarded glee animated even our surfeited limbs into something approaching dancing. From there we hopped from stage to tent, tent to stage, dropping in on the VIP area (obviously) for the always excellent Midland, but otherwise content to flit around. Special mention must go to Floating Points for delivering an exposition in how to balance entertainment and ‘education’ in a DJ set, and, of course, the three acts who played out the evening on the main stage: Todd Terry, Lee Foss B2B MK, and Maya Jane Coles. All are well-established acts and plenty praise has been lavished on them already; suffice to say, none rested on their reputations and each gave visceral and enjoyable sets.

© Marc Sethi

Our group then splintered as each demi-group headed to a different after party, satisfied with their days’ ‘work’ reviewing an excellent festival, in a park, in East London, surrounded by generally nice strangers and above-par electronic music. -–-–-–-–-Words: Rob Bates Photo: Marc Sethi

H ye t a l

Chel s ea Lig h t Mo ving

T h e Breeders

R BM A Bristo l S e ssio n

Birthdays, London | June 17th

The Fleece, Bristol | June 17th

The Forum, Kentish Town | June 19th

Blue Mountain | May 4th

There’s a sense of intrigue around Dave Corney, aka Hyetal’s new live show. Alison Garner, who provided vocals for his 2011 debut LP Broadcast as well as latest effort Modern Worship, has joined a set-up which also features former Golden Silver Gwilym Gold. The new record is a clearer and more decisive-sounding piece, with vocals from the aforementioned contributors at the centre of some of the album’s finest moments.

Some people have complained that Thurston Moore’s new band Chelsea Light Moving pretty much sound like early 90s Sonic Youth with a few extra metal riffs and 60s counterculture references thrown in. But if you ask us, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

20 years on from the release of their unequalled masterpiece Last Splash, The Breeders played the entire record to a sold out crowd in Kentish Town.

The evening event for RBMA’s Bristol Session saw Blue Mountain taken over with performances from John Talabot, Andrés and Justin Vandervolgen. Acting as the practical musical accompaniment to the afternoon lectures that preceded it, the stories and inspirations of Detroit native Andrés, Catalonian John Talabot and Bristol record store owner Chris Farrell were brought into sharp focus as they took to the decks in the club.

As soon as the headline act takes the stage it’s clear Garner and Gold’s contributions will extend beyond their vocals, the former lining up behind a sampler and the latter a synth. Whilst Corney forms the heart of the sound, it’s intriguing to see Hyetal essentially operating as a three-member collective. Garner’s voice remains a perfect compliment to the swelling atmospherics, floating sublimely through the density of The City Is Ours. Gwilym Gold also demonstrates what an asset he is – his echoing croons add a soothing layer to Northwest Passage, while he provides deft touches of synth on the stuttering Lake Rider. The Hyetal we witness tonight is a total triumph, proving that with a little bravery, ambition and invention, electronic music can powerfully translate, and even be expanded, as a live experience. -–-–-–-–--

After having our ear drums bludgeoned with a strangely beautiful fog of distortion conjured by West Country noise merchants Thought Forms, Moore and his new squad arrive at The Fleece to deliver their crunchy art-grunge formula at an audaciously high volume. Unfortunately, they get off to a disappointingly limp start, with the tempo of their murder anthem Groovy and Linda falling from sultry to sluggish. Eventually the sound levels are resolved, but then Thurston halts the snotty punk banger Lip midway because of an out-of-tune string. “Like that makes a difference!”, shouts an audience member, and this time the heckler is right. But somehow, everything clicks into place during the accelerated climax of Burroughs, the thrash thunderstorm of Alighted is viscerally executed, and our thirst for Chelsea Light Moving’s intense avant-noise soundscape is finally satisfied. ---------

The band took the stage to an audience whose enthusiasm refused to be stifled by the oppressive warmth of the hottest day of the year. Kim calmly announced “So, we’re just going to go ahead and play Last Splash” – in case we hadn’t been paying attention – before kicking off with the ever charming New Year. Kim’s voice hasn’t lost an ounce of its earnest but playful tone, still hitting every note with the realness everyone loves. And the crowd crowbarred into The Forum seriously love her, losing their shit to eradefining mega single Cannonball. After blazing through the entirety of Last Splash at a solid pace, without as much chat as we’d hoped for, it suddenly became evident what the rush was in aid of. Kim announced “we wanted to do something special for London. So we’re going to play Pod.” The unexpected addition of the band’s debut full-length elevated excitement to euphoria. With spirits as high as this, fans can only hope this was just the beginning of a new chapter for Kim and co, whose absence has been long, and this show well overdue. -–-–-–-–-–-

Words: David Reed

Despite having his records misplaced in baggage in Paris, Andrés compiled a set of soulful jams reflective of his home city’s rich heritage, and sympathetic to the early start time. With typical Bristolian tardiness, the late crowd expanded during his set, so by the end of the performance Blue Mountain’s main room was completely engrossed with his housey refrains. Enter John Talabot. Having become fully accustomed to his wonderful album ƒin and the accompanying live show, we hadn’t yet had the opportunity to witness him DJ. We should have. An hour and a half of progressive, windy, at times jazzinfused techno, culminating in the Cobblestone Jazz classic Dump Truck: this was a truly eye-opening DJing performance. A brilliant culmination to an education, both verbally and musically. ---------

Words: Lucie Grace Words: Jack Bolter

Words: Hulio Bourgeois

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WORDS: Tim Oxley S m i th

World War Z

Man of Steel

Behind the Candelabra

Dir. Marc Forster

Dir. Zak Snyder

Dir. Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Danielle Kertesz

Starring: Henry Cavil, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon

Starring: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Scott Bakula

8/20

13/20

18/20

Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane, an ex-UN agent who, along with everyone else, finds himself in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. It only takes 10 seconds for a bite to turn you into a crazed fiend, and it takes even less than that to figure out what’s going to happen in this movie – that Gerry is going to save the day.

After scraping the superhero barrel of late, Hollywood return to the daddy, the big cheese, the ultimate defender of humanity: Superman. In all its forms and franchises, the iconic stature of DC’s Superman has endured, despite varying levels of success. Of late, it has been on the small screen that Clark Kent has found his home. And after the arse flop that was 2006’s Superman Returns, Zach Snyder slides off those red pants in the hope that this is a reboot that lasts.

Liberace? Who the hell was Liberace? He was one of the biggest entertainers that ever lived, that’s who. Predominantly known for his piano playing but also appearing in films and on TV, Liberace was adored by middle America throughout the 20th century. He died in the late 80s of a AIDS-related illness which no one could quite believe, apart from everyone that actually knew him.

Apart from the lack of gore, there’s nothing unexpected here. Notions of heroic self-sacrifice, family and the all round American hero are dull and cliched. Despite a few entertaining set pieces of infected civilians swarming through city streets, the action repeats itself, with a PG-13 certificate massively hindering any ‘zombie’ terror. While the heavy use of CGI is unavoidable due to the mass scale of the zombified populous, it’s the lack of finesse with which it is utilised which is its downfall. With so much of the film’s effectiveness invested in this wafer-thin CGI sheen, it provides little distraction from the wooden acting all cast members – Pitt included – are guilty of. The story itself, based on the novel by Max Brooks, is closer to the Resident Evil games than any of the disappointing film adaptations could realise, and these avenues of isolation and horror could have been explored in far more depth. The only real enjoyment found in World War Z came from the original concept’s plot twists and some well put together jumpy bits. Aside from these, World War Zzzz would have worked just fine a title.

The main problem for any filmmaker taking on Superman is, how do you make someone indestructible interesting? And as it turns out, the most interesting part of this film is when Superman isn’t actually Superman yet. Man of Steel’s high points are undoubtedly found in this first act. There’s a brilliant sci-fi sequence of Jor-El (Superman’s father, played by Russell Crowe) jettisoning his son from the imploding Krypton, before General Zod (Shannon) vows to track down Superman and to kill him. Superman’s coming-of-age is also compelling enough to make you start to think expectations might be lived up to. However, any subtle inventiveness is smashed into the tarmac in the second half. Looking to quench the summer blockbuster lust for relentless, ridiculous action sequences, we get bored after the untouchable protagonist gets up for the 100th time. Bring out the Kryptonite – whatever that is – or don’t even bother.

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Behind the Candelabra is the story of Liberace through the eyes of his lover, Scott Thorson (Damon). Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh uses the all-revealing book written by Thorson as his focus. Michael Douglas’s gobsmacking portrayal of the lead is hugely impressive – though admittedly, Crack YouTubed a Liberace performance just to see how good his likening was. Soderbergh channels the contradictions of sexuality and what was considered acceptable in a society through one of its most beloved stars. The discourse of sexuality is where Behind the Candelabra really hits all the notes. An ever accomplished performance from Damon rolls off Douglas’s show-stopping like-for-like echo of Liberace, resulting in an insane tale of lust and indulgence sprinkled with love and humour. As we thought about ourselves after a night at Glastonbury's NYC Downlow, we didn’t know you had it in you Mike.


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NO AGE AN OBJECT Sub Pop

GAUNTLET HAIR STILLS Dead Oceans

18/20

16/20

“Who do you think you are? / Who do you think I am?” ask No Age on No Ground, the opening track from the duo’s excellent new record. Three full-lengths (sorta) in for a band who’ve so stoically honed their brand of lo-fi, noise-laced punk, it’s an easy question, right? Almost, though on this it’s the more abstracted, prettier and quieter compositions that are the key successes. The punk numbers are great of course: C’mon Stimmung layers guitar squeals over a snotty vocal, coming on rather like Nervous Breakdown-era Black Flag; while Lock Box and Circling With Dizzy factor insistent pattering drums and a bitchin’ sax line, respectively. But as I Won’t Be Your Generator takes a left turn into a pretty, plaintive smear of guitar, it becomes clear Dean Spunt and Randy Randall have shifted focus. Humming synths, field recordings and buried textural noise underpin many of the tracks, and the percussion in A Ceiling Dreams of a Floor and Commerce, Comment, Commence is often subtle to the point of fading completely. An Object’s clear peak, though, is An Impression, arguably No Age’s finest song to date. A simple percussive bass riff chugs along elegantly, before breaking into an unexpected and totally incandescent

Waxing nostalgic and reconciling with their affection for post-punk nihilism and gothic industrialism, avant-noise-pop duo Gauntlet Hair’s sophomore LP is imbued with the vestiges of a band at ease with penning the influencers of their formative years. Notable namechecks from the duo include Marilyn Manson, The Durutti Column, White Zombie and Beyonce, which, aside from providing an insight into their record collections, confirms that Stills is one pretty fucked up tea party. Primed with angst from the get-go, bilious grumbles surface from Andy Rauworth’s scorched lips on lead single Human Nature for a brooding introduction to a record that comes at you in bouts of intricate minimalism and waves of colossal, melodramatic choruses. Cantankerous highlight Heave is a medieval battle axe to the cerebrum, spewing guttural croaks alongside a reverb drenched guitar romp that doesn’t quit. But once Stills breaks into its stride and takes its cues, it peers into a looking glass that’s more angled towards 80s synth-pop. New To It sneers along a path of broken snares and lightly sprinkled electronics, while on tracks such as Spew and Bad Apple, incoherent, gargled vocals take the lead role in harnessing the

EBow/string flourish. Heartbreaking stuff. TH

debauched romanticism. If only tea parties were always this awesome. JN

BATHS OBSIDIAN Anticon

BASS DRUM OF DEATH BASS DRUM OF DEATH Innovative Leisure

16/20

15/20

Cerulean, Will Weisenfeld’s first outing as Baths, was the kind of slow-flowering, word-of-mouth success story rarely witnessed in today’s hype-hungry music scene. Three years later, and its follow-up is no less worthy of dissemination. Having contracted a debilitating case of E. Coli in 2011 that left him bedridden and helpless for months, Weisenfeld’s return to music comes from an altogether darker place. Gone, for the most part, are the amorphic chopped vocals, replaced with a far more overt style of singing – one in which the recurrent themes of frustration, anger, worthlessness, and sexual callousness are given room to breathe. The unapologetically brazen lyrics are a far cry from the naive positivity of Cerulean, although the hooks are somehow even catchier than before. While that might seem contradictory, it’s this plainer style of songwriting that helps each track burrow deep into the mind long before the import of the words has had time to percolate. Once they have it becomes fully apparent just how much of an intensely personal project Obsidian has been. The fact it emerged from the murky emotional miasma every bit as polished and playable as its predecessor is testament to his enduring

“All of my friends, they’re all gone” snarl Bass Drum Of Death on Fine Lines, a line that sums up the band’s slacker garage rock perfectly. On their second, self-titled record the band lean away from the ferocious punk on their first LP, making the transition to a more garage and grunge-based sound, the adolescent cynicism and disillusionment inherent to the genres firmly intact. On Fine Lines, as well as Such A Bore and Bad Reputation, the band make a firm declaration never to do anything firmly again, the tracks messy, incoherent and completely exhilarating. The entire record is laden with fuzz and feedback, the drums barely holding things together as they crash relentlessly through the tracks. This hardly matters, as the songs themselves are concise and well structured, snarling and bratty but concise and effective throughout. Ramshackle to the point of derelict, Bass Drum Of Death is nonetheless a fine album – one that puts them on a similar yellowing, dusty playing field as their contemporaries The Black Lips, Wavves and Thee Oh Sees. A riotous, smash-and-grab of a record. JC

talent as an artist. AG

BOARDS OF CANADA TOMORROW’S HARVEST Warp Records

FLOORPLAN PARADISE M-Plan

12/20

16/20

Tomorrow’s Harvest doesn’t get off to a hugely promisingly start. The faux-ident squelches that ease us into Gemini fade into juddering pirouettes of organ that bring ambient master Tim Hecker’s stunning Ravedeath 1972 to mind. That’s a problem. You’d hope an album which has taken this long to emerge, that’s come bundled in this much hype wouldn’t immediately sound this similar to another album nearly contemporaneous with it. The feeling of familiarity is off-putting. We’re versed in Tangerine Dream and Emeralds and Ambient 4: On Land. We’ve listened to Boards of Canada before. Your enjoyment of Tomorrow’s Harvest largely lies in your willingness to submit to the duo’s third-joint-of-the-night wisdom and ease into the uneasy drift of their spectral rambles. Want creepy-crawly arpeggios spiderwalking over hazy pads? You’ve got them. Fat phased-out synth leads twostepping with leaden percussion? We can do that. How about songs that strive that bit too hard to sound like something you’ve buried deep in the abyss of a summer holiday lost to the sands of time? You’re in luck. For the rest of us who were craving

Swapping the machinistic, mesmeric minimal of his own name (including last year’s sublime Motor: Nighttime World 3) for churning, choppy Chicago-inflected house, Robert Hood’s Floorplan alias is an exercise in the joy of repetition. The scene’s set with opener Let’s Ride – stiff, unswinging snares clatter over a heartbeat 4/4 and a vocal snatch pips up over and over at the same unquavering pitch. Rarely deviating from this template, sidestepping occasionally to throw in the odd anthemic classic piano chord sequence (Confess) or gorgeously chunky, Kompakty synth stabs that come on like Wolfgang Voigt on steroids (Altered Ego), there’s a feeling of unity and dedication to an idea. Yet the highlight comes in the form of the only outlier. Never Grow Old – as heard on Ben Klock’s Fabric66 – is a yearning number that drops its huge vocal sample with such precision that you really don’t want it to end. Even if nothing quite matches the majesterial invocation of We Magnify His Name from 2011’s Sanctified EP, Paradise is a wonderful collection of the kind of tracky house that doesn’t normally work satisfactorily in the context of an album; Hood’s

a pioneering record, Tomorrow’s Harvest is a let down. JB

obvious understanding of the genre shines through. JB

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DEAFHEAVEN SUNBATHER Deathwish 19/20 Dream House – the first and arguably strongest track on Deafheaven’s monumental new album – exemplifies perfectly the San Francisco band’s cathartic, refulgent take on black metal. Recognisable tropes are quickly laid in place: heavily distorted tremolo picking; pummelling blastbeats; George Clarke’s impassioned, indecipherably shrieked vocals. It’s cacophonous, sure, but densely melodic. Then, at just over a minute in, Kerry McCoy’s guitar lines lift and ignite, the drums momentarily drop the blasting onslaught for a subtler, fluid rhythm and the song’s sonic trajectory lurches skywards and erupts. From here, the band briefly employ a tactic not so much of build-and-release as a perpetual swelling, pausing only occasionally for breath between chiming arpeggiated guitar figures, dropping to a momentary solo passage before the inevitable heaving crescendo, replete with shimmering melodic flourishes and nods to the best of screamo and post rock instrumentation. Sunbather’s subsequent tracks alternate between sprawling, sonically dynamic epics and more measured exercises in textural noise and sampled speech, overset with Clarke’s explorations of western capitalist materialism, personal selfishness, familial strife and romantic detachment, the vocalist’s lyrics often reading like soliloquies or personal letters. We’re a long way from Pure Fucking Armageddon here. In the record’s four nine-minute-plus ‘proper’ tracks, sonic intensity builds methodically, step-by-step before snapping into passages of subdued ambient murmur, the bluster more affecting for the band’s tempered sense of restraint. Rung guitar notes act as an atmospheric motif repeated throughout the course of the album, as well as harking back to the climactic breaks on Unrequited, a standout on the duo’s excellent 2011 release Roads to Judah. A consistently enthralling and original work, Sunbather is a near perfect example of modern extreme metal that sees Deafheaven fully capitalise on the promise of their earlier work, and a record that finally sees American black metal wholly dragged from the shadows into the light. TH

TOM ODELL LONG WAY DOWN Columbia

PURE BATHING CULTURE MOON TIDES Memphis Industries

3/20

7/20

This album may be the zenith for manufactured Brit School heartache. Music that really shit couples fall in love to. Odell is an individual who the NME have slated for being dull and unoriginal. The NME! His dad subsequently rang in to complain. You couldn’t make this stuff up. But it’s not really young Tom’s fault. The truly saddening thing is watching the industry gleefully flex its marketing muscles and get a guy to number one who, if he had slightly wonky teeth or an opinion of some kind, would be playing open-mic nights and applying for the X-Factor. And despite the heartstring-tugging aesthetic, there’s little here to suggest Odell has the ability to convey emotion through music. “I wanna cry, I wanna love, but all my tears have been used up on another love” he says on Another Love. Don’t believe you mate. And you say ‘love’ so that it rhymes with ‘stove’. “I’ve been feeling pretty small, sometimes I feel like I’m slipping down walls” he claims on Sense. Bullshit, no you haven’t. “I think it’s going to rain today” he says on I Think It’s Going To Rain Today. OK, that we'll concede. Maybe you do think that. But we can only hope this is the zenith, the Everest of manufactured UK pop drabness. Cause if there’s another

When we heard Pure Bathing Culture’s debut EP last year, we liked the song Ivory Coast in a big way. Maybe we’d been on a strict diet of pulverising German techno, or we’d spent that day trying to keep up to date with 1017 Brick Squad’s relentless output of trap mixtapes, because the Portland duo’s glossy indie-folk felt as refreshing as jumping into a cold lake after a week laying bricks in the Sahara. But now we’ve heard Moon Tides, it’s as if we’ve been seduced by a mysterious blue-eyed temptress, only to find she’s part of some weird pseudo-evangelist cult. We’ve given them the first financial instalment, but now it’s giving us the creeps. We want out. To be fair, it’s not all so bad, Scotty and Golden Girl are guiltless forays into soft rock territory – not far removed from Ducktails or the moonlit indie boogie of Montreal outfit Tops – but songs like Only Lonely Lovers, Seven 2 One and Dream The Dare could easily provide the theme tune to a Channel 5 daytime soap opera set in the Lake District. There’s a place where Moon Tides could be played without being subject to such cold hearted piss taking, and that place is a gift shop which sells Ying & Yang necklaces, dream catchers and crystal skull ornaments. DR

level up then god help us. GHD

SMITH WESTERNS SOFT WILL Mom + Pop

L.A.M.P SHADES OF GREEN Peng Records

15/20

12/20

Smith Westerns’ third album largely abandons the T-Rex mimicking, opting instead for pure and sensuous, richly textured guitar songs. Continually lusting for times past, it’s an album ridden with emotive nostalgia without dipping too far into other bands’ pockets. Combining psychedelic-era Beatles textures with 70s soft pop fawning, 90s Britpop and heady Tame Impala guitars, it ultimately leaves a sturdy, Smith Westerns-shaped stamp on the realm of alternative guitar music. Best Friend is instantly memorable for its infectious, optimistic and summery guitarbending riff. White Oath grabs you with glossy guitar chords, eventually leading up to a phenomenal ending of wild soloing, whilst the wishy-washy rhythm of Only Natural is a pleasant alternative angle to the band’s upbeat pop sentiments. At the heart of everything is the beautiful instrumental XIII, which opens as a Bowie-style piano ballad before ascending into thick, deep guitar chords in a truly emotive and meaningful departure from the predominantly pop sensibility. These are the mesmerising peaks, and while some of the tracks don’t quite possess quite so much

Noted for his work with The Rurals, Bristol production stalwart Andy Compton sheds his more deep house-orientated leanings on this collaboration with Parisian songstress Lady Bird. What we’re presented with is 13 tracks of fluid, rural and organic jazz-inflected soul. Released on Compton’s own Peng Records, Shades of Green is doubtless a labour of love, and the assuredness of the compositions alongside flawless musicianship showcase an individual doubtless wholly at home in this realm. Lady Bird, meanwhile, puts in a fine showing. Her contributions seldom miss the mark, honeyed tones and subtle inflections endearing, gorgeous and consistently welcoming, and while the earnestness of the lyrics might be a bit much for some, they narrowly avoid becoming hackneyed thanks to their believable, heartfelt spirit. In truth, it’s difficult not to be swept along in the overall loveliness of the thing. What this record lacks in originality, it makes up for in

sticking power, there’s no lull in Soft Will’s consistently impressive direction. JTB

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warmth and generosity. RTB


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KANYE WEST YEEZUS Def Jam 18/20 The mission statement of Yeezus is made clear in the first line: “Yeezy season approaching, fuck whatever y’all been hearing”. The words are set to electro throbs which declare that the luxurious soundscapes of 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy have been traded in for a raw, industrial-leaning sound palette. As the LP moves forward, the overwhelming sense of anger and determination becomes invigorating on the frenetic beat on Black Skinhead and the angst-ridden mantra “Y’all niggas can’t fuck with Ye!” on New Slaves. 808s and Heartbreaks gave us SadYe, Twisted Fantasy gave us GlamYe and we are now subjected to the relentless force of MadYe. His verse on Can’t Hold My Liquor is full of a new kind of arrogance. It’s a psyche founded on success but fuelled by frustration and delusion. His lovesick crooning on Blood On The Leaves is furiously underpinned by remorselessly visceral, TNGHT-supplied foghorns. The production and instrumentation is as smart and innovative as always, but Kanye’s weapons have changed. Jamie Foxx and Jay-Z has been swapped for the Chi-Town dream team of Chief Keef and King Louie. It’s not about sensation or precision – it’s an urgent, primitive rap album built solely to exist in the here and now. On Bound 2, the album’s closer, Kanye comes closest to winning back the fans he lost post-Graduation with a soulful Ponderosa Twins Plus One sample. Soon enough, however, the sweetness turns to raw lust when Kanye spits: “I wanna fuck you hard on the sink, after that give you something to drink/step back – can’t get spunk on the mink.” Kanye bows out with a “BAM”, and then Yeezus – a 40 minute long record of self-subverting, anti-establishment exasperation executed by one of the most talked about men on the planet – is over. A hypnotic and addictive record created by an over-excited, totally unhinged mastermind with almost unlimited resources at his disposal. DH

MATIAS AGUAYO THE VISITOR Comeme

DAVID LYNCH THE BIG DREAM Sunday Best

8/20

15/20

There’s nothing necessarily new about injecting techno with a Latin infusion: both are, or rather can be, hugely percussive, both shake, both sway. Which explains how Aguayo somehow made the jump from the introspective, gorgeous deeper-thandeep, sadder-than-sad emotive techno of his Closer Musik project with Dirk Leyers to the lurching panglobal-polyrhythmic stew of 2009’s Ay Ay Ay with relative ease. The Visitor, his third solo record, sadly, irritates more than it delights. The pseudoplayful tics of Dear Inspector make the listener’s skin itch with the knowledge that somewhere, under the layers and layers of percussion and the looped vocal ‘whoops’, there might be a good song buried away. This problem repeats itself throughout: good moments – the machine gun schaffel beat that propels Llego El Don, the disorientating vocal loop that turns Aguayo into a stuttering synth running through Do You Wanna Work – but they come slathered in a gloop of unnecessary accompaniments. Perhaps that should be seen positively, perhaps Aguayo’s willingness to stuff the sonic field to the max should be praised. But then another jarring element is added to the mix and we’re convinced that he wants to

The languid drum machine and twanging guitars which open David Lynch’s second album sound inevitably otherworldly, but there is also a nagging sense of nostalgia at play. Lynch’s vocals fit like a glove: tonally off-kilter, but sitting tight in the mix. Cold Wind Blowing has the qualities of a soundtrack, not far removed from Lynch’s exceptional work on Twin Peaks with composer Angelo Badalamenti and vocalist Julee Cruise, while The Ballad Of Hollis Brown is the most lyrically linear track here, telling a sorry tale through the eyes of the titular protagonist, deep in the plains of South Dakota where the cycle of life and death plays out its fateful conclusions. But the best track is saved for last. Are You Sure? feels like a transcendental meditation on the natural world and man’s relationship with it. Overall, this album is another Lynchian success, a journey of self-discovery that is ultimately as confusing as it is revelatory. While music may never be Lynch’s most accomplished medium, there’s no escaping The Big Dream’s dark landscape, where light can be found by taking a journey inside the mind. Dreams can often be the interpreter of our experiences, and no one summons this innately surreal realm quite like him. PJA

irritate, wants to annoy. And if he does, he’s succeeded. Big time. JB

PHAELEH TIDES Afterglo

FREDDIE GIBBS ESGN ESGN

14/20

15/20

In a furrow where cosmic atmospherics and tuneful melancholy collide, Bristolian Phaeleh’s 2010 debut Fallen Light became synonymous with IDM – a catchall term coined by the hipsterific label brigade in response to the glut of postambient producers of the 90s. Lest we forget his emergence during the warbling proliferation of dubstep, his opus curtailed the rabid, bass-heavy brain melts and club-friendly beer swilling for a motif more akin to a 6am conspiracy theorist plotting paranoid scenarios. His follow-up, Tides, is of a similarly bereft nature, crafting an intricate dance for the cerebral. Lead single Whistling In The Dark could well be the dissonant symphony to the latest Planet Earth special on ‘Living Landscapes’, as could the entirety of Tides’ parts, as it seldom fails to transcend the dewy-eyed decadence of its predecessor. It’s not without folly, though, the overly sinewed textures can be numbing to point of stupor, or worse, comatose. But it’s the inclusion of guest vocalists Jess Mills, Soundmouse, and Cian Finn that will really keep you swooning during that post-rave purgatory. Phaeleh is certainly back en

After almost a decade in the game, Midwestern rap heavyweight Freddie Gibbs finally presents his first studio album. There’s a reason you’d be hard pushed to find a single dissenting review about Gibbs’ rapping style, and that’s because of his ability to totally dominate any beat thrown his way with a hefty but flexible flow. While last year’s Baby Face Killa scooped up favourable reviews, the mixtape felt stylistically erratic and a little cluttered with A&R orchestrated guest verses. After walking away from Young Jeezy’s record label with his middle finger raised high, Freddie Gibbs has dropped ESGN via his own imprint, and the album – 70 minutes of uncompromising, testosterone-fuelled hardcore gangsta rap – radiates the adrenaline of the maverick’s attitude. With so much profanity, machismo and violent imagery, this is Gibbs at his fiercest, and sensitive listeners might struggle to digest the record whole. But we strongly recommend sticking around for the second half where highlights like Certified Live, Paper and Dope In My Styrofoam pop up. And let’s not forget finale track Freddie Soprano, where the appeal of Gibbs’ lyricism is summed up with one rhyme: “I ain’t one for slacking on my habits/I

route with his second, albeit treading the same beaten track. JN

brush my teeth with Hennessy, sleep with my automatic.” DR

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Down 1. City in South Yorkshire (9) 3. Nickname for the city of Chicago (3,4) 4. Hit your hands together; venereal disease (4) 5. British car manufacturer who knocked up the Astra, the Corsa and more (8) 6. Former MP who claims to have had it off with John Major (6,6) 8. An addictive book (4,6) 10. Of highest importance (8) 14. Type of raffle (7) 16. Electro outfit formed by DFA1979’s Jesse F. Keeler (7) 21. Native American tent (4)

JON HOPKINS HYETAL (LIVE) GABRIEL BRUCE CHLOE HOWL FEAR OF MEN ROSCIUS MOKO IDLES JOEY FOURR

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Solutions to last issue’s crossword: ACROSS: 4. HUNGARY, 5. BLEACH, 7. CALCIUM, 9. TYPHOON, 10. SODERBERGH, 11. MISER, 13. THE SUGARCUBES 16. OPAQUE, 17. KOSHER, 18. MOUNT, 19. POT NOODLE, 20. DAILY MAIL, 21. HOPSCOTCH, 22. SQUASH DOWN: 1. BABBLE, 2. DIANA ROSS, 3. FLYING CIRCUS, 6. HAWTIN 8. SPORRAN, 12. REPENT, 14. HIEROGLYPHICS 15. ESKIMO


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Snoozin’ Like Snowden

Illustration: Lee Nutland www.leenutland.com

Right now Edward Snowden’s probably laid up in a hotel in Moscow airport ignoring the latest batch of text messages from Julian Assange, the silver-haired creepy uncle of the civil disobedience world. Assange is bored because he’s spent the last year in an Ecuadorian embassy. Significantly worse off still is Bradley Manning. He spent almost a year in solitary confinement under treatment the UN described as “cruel and inhuman”. There’s no opportunity of asylum for him; he’s staring down the possibility of dying in jail. What do these three people have in common, besides incurring the wrath of an American government by telling the world its secrets? All three are symptomatic of secrecy and information sharing in the digital age; the mass availability of data, intelligence agencies’ insatiable appetites for mining it and the media’s insistence on covering the title tattle of the leakers’ lives. Snowden’s been the worst example in this last regard. I’ve just watched a BBC segment giving a tour of a pod hotel in Sheremetyevo airport where Snowden might have stayed, or at least thought about staying, or

something. There’s a shower, a television and a phone by the way, in case you’re the kind of couch-bound lump BBC News appears to be catering for here. A hilarious segment from a US broadcaster called “Snoozin’ like Snowden” went for the same schtick, but couldn’t afford the flight to Russia, instead reviewing a pod hotel in New York in a segment that contains as many jokes as a wet sock. And it went on. Was he in the hotel or wasn’t he? Was he on a plane to Cuba or have half a dozen reporters just blown their budgets to post a shitty photo of an empty plane seat on Twitter?

comprehensive as to lead one MEP to describe them as Gestapo-like. The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been tapping into giant fibre optic sea cables to collect millions of our messages every day. When GHCQ was given legal underpinning in the 90s, their remit was kept incredibly vague, simply tasking them with working “in the interests of national security”. It’s the same pattern we’ve seen before; a secretive government body is given power to do something legitimate, said agency then gradual expands its reach until a shock revelation exposes the fact that their actions have expanded beyond anything we would have expected or possibly agreed to.

For the large part, editors realised it was easier to research hotels and cover the minute-to-minute speculation on his whereabouts than engage the public interest in a debate about the content of the leaks. Journalists then returned to their thankless lives trawling Facebook for pictures of goofy cats, a wistful thought stuck in their minds; I could have been like Glenn Greenwald.

In the US, it meant stretching the definition of the Patriot Act so that the legal permission to seek data relevant to an investigation gave carte blanche permission to collect any information, which might be relevant to any investigation, at any time in the future (basically everything). It completely ignores the need for probable cause enshrined in the constitution.

Anyway, I digress. There has been a certain degree of public apathy toward the news that the UK has implemented mass spying programmes so

And that’s why this leak is important. Whether or not we decide it’s OK for governments to sift and use our private information in this way is still up for

discussion. But what we do know for sure is that we wouldn’t even be talking about it if it wasn’t for the brave actions of Edward Snowden. It’s the discussion, accountability and debate that separate us from the kind of faux democracy of countries like Russia, where it looks like our leaker will be languishing for the foreseeable future.

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Christopher Goodfellow

twitter.com/MediaSpank

mediaspank.net

Send rants to media@crackmagazine.net


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