F r e e
Ar t . M u si c . G et ti n g Pa s t S e c u r i ty.
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks | Run The Jewels | Deafheaven | HORT Daniel Avery | SZA |Max Richter | Sapphire Slows
Highlights Exhibitions Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2013 27 November – 26 January 2013
Siobhan Davies Dance: Table of Contents 8 – 19 January 2014
FOX READING ROOM
Ibiza: Moments in Love 27 November – 26 January 2013
Events Notes on Camp Wed 8 Jan, 6.45pm
Jonathan Cole: The Dreary Ooze Wed 15 Jan, 6.45pm
Culture Now Lively Friday lunchtime conversations for the culturally curious.
Gallery Tour: Join curators, artists and other cultural practitioners on Thursday tours.
Siobhan Davies & Ramsey Burt 10 Jan Friday Salon Friday Salons provide professional development and firsthand accounts on current cultural phenomena. Being Visible: Feminism, Art & the Internet Fri 10 Jan, 3pm Archiving the Today Fri 17 Jan, 3pm Defining Contemporary Fri 24 Jan, 3pm
Artist Becky Beasley 16 Jan
Artists’ Film Club New and rarely seen film and moving image by up-and-coming and more established artists. Haris Epaminonda Selects & Into 19 Jan The Trouble with Rents Wed 22 Jan, 6.45pm
New Terms Sat 18 Jan A series of collaborative events curated by the ICA Student Forum and the Bloomberg New Contemporaries Artists. Bloomberg New Contemporaries ‘Reading’ Group 2-4pm
Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647, www.ica.org.uk
Radical Education Workshops 4-6pm Late Term, Club Night 9pm-1am
The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848
OVAL SPACE MUSIC 01/02/2014
ROBERT HOOD JEROME SYDENHAM LUKE SLATER SHIFTED JOZIF FRITZ ZANDER 22:00 - 06:00
29 - 32 The Oval // E2 9DT ovalspace.co.uk
DECEMBER 2013 THURSDAY 19TH
FWD>> DJ RON / RIP PRODUCTIONS / SLACK VS MR MITCH
PRINCIPALS BRADLEY ZERO / CHARLES DRAKEFORD / NIC TASKER
COMMâ€¢UNE X OSCILLATE WILDLY X UNKNOWN TO THE UNKNOWN
NONSENSE BENNY BLANCO / MR WONDERFUL / JUDAH
DANCE TUNNEL PRESENTS TAMA SUMO / LAKUTI
WAY BACK HERE FUNKINEVEN / SEMTEK / CAPRICARA / DAN BEAUMONT / TOM LEIGH / LAIZI / ANTHONY MOONEY
JANUARY 2014 FRIDAY 17TH
HOUSE OF TRAXX TYREE COOPER / ALDEN TYRELL / FOOLS & RUSHMORE
DICK & FANNY HONEY DIJON / SEVERINO / SUDHA
MONO_CULT HUERCO S / MATT LONG / BRAD MERCER
DREAM STATES IRON CURTIS / JASON SPINKS
THUNDER MARK E / JOSEPH APTED / MILES SIMPSON / RICK HOPKINS
DANCE TUNNEL 95 KINGSLAND HIGH STREET, LONDON E8 2PB WWW.DANCETUNNEL.COM
fabric Dec + Jan Craig Richards Terry Francis 10 Years Of Wilde Adam Beyer Adam Shelton Alan Fitzpatrick Alex Arnout Anthony Parasole Bloody Mary Brinsley Kazak Carl Craig Chris Wood Cottam Cubism Daniel Wilde (Live) David Scuba Deanoloco Dense & Pika (Live) DJ T DVS1 Dyed Soundorom Eddie Richards Futureboogie George FitzGerald John Digweed Josh T Josh Wink Kyle Hall Louche Lube vB Luke Hess (Live) Marcel Dettmann Mark Gwinnett Maxxi Soundsystem Maya Jane Coles Mike Healey Minilogue (Live) Mosca Mr. C NoN Music Patrice Scott Peter Van Hoesen (Live) Pushamann Reset Robot Saytek (Live) Sigha Sisterhood Skudge (Live) Stacey Pullen Subb-an Superfreq Terry Francis The Martinez Brothers Toby Tobias Waifs & Strays
Photographer | Kelly Teacher www.kellyteacher.com
Respect Nelson Mandela Nigella Dixon Daniel Avery Danvers? Santa Mr. Sarangi + the NHS hardcrew Roya Farrokhian Tess Celia Archer Jules Smith Elle Sherriff Jen Lo Beckie Kinkead Luisa Zilio Gilders Alan, Duncan + Ryan Elmtree Huw Williams
Executive Editors Thomas Frost firstname.lastname@example.org
Jake Applebee email@example.com Editor Geraint Davies firstname.lastname@example.org Marketing / Events Manager Luke Sutton email@example.com Junior Editor Davy Reed firstname.lastname@example.org Art Direction & Design Jake Applebee Alfie Allen
has arrived at the withering rear of another year of lovely existence. Another year where we survived in a landscape where that simple prospect seems unfeasible, where we got to present heroes and heroines and iconic cultural figureheads on a monthly basis. A year where we had the cheek to put on a festival, and we’re still doing alright. M
For those who are cracked let the light in:
It’s so nice, soso nice, to know that people still give a fuck, people still wanna hold something in their hands and read it, people still wanna know about art and music and cool shit that’s happening every day, all around us. That people don’t just want lists. And open letters. Open letters and lists. But still, it’s important to progress. Progression is key. No one ever got anywhere by standing still. Look at Motörhead. Let’s take a look at Motörhead. They haven’t galvanised their reputation over almost 40 years in the business by making the same record over, and over, and over again. They haven’t kept their fervent crowds engaged by recycling the same old schtick into infinity. They’ve progressed, they’ve fucked with the formula. From 1977’s Motörhead, to 2000’s We Are Motörhead, to 2008’s Motörizer. From such frequently astounding tracks as the pummeling metal of Rock It (’83), or the pummeling metal of Dr. Rock (’86); the grinding rock ‘n’ roll of Rock ‘n’ Roll (’87) and Rock It (’08); or even the rock’n’roll grind of 2010’s grinding, rock ‘n’ roll odyssey Rock ‘n’ Roll Music. And of course, none of this relentless experimentation would have been possible without the contributions of the fluctuating rollcall of band members; from Phil ‘Wizzo’ Campbell, to Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor, and – who could forget – Brian ‘Robbo’ Robertson. So if Lemmy and the gang have proved anything, it’s that a rolling stone gathers no moss; that to stay ahead of the game, you can never sit still. With all that said, we move keenly into 2014. Next time you pick this magazine up, it might look a little different. We’ve learned our lessons. Here’s to many, many more years of Crack: the Motörhead of alternative music journalism. Chin chin.
Design Assistant Graeme Bateman
Film Editor Tim Oxley Smith Editorial Assistants Anna Tehabsim Billy Black Photography Kelly Teacher Dexter Lander Khris Cowley Hannah Godley Bene Brandhofer Satsuki Kawaguchi shot2bits.com Contributors Christopher Goodfellow Josh Baines Duncan Harrison Tom Howells Gabriel Szatan Adam Corner Joshua Nevett Leah Connolly Phillip James Allen James Balmont Steve Dores Alex Hall Andrew Broaks Louis Labron Johnson Jack Bolter CRACK is published by Crack Industries Ltd Illustrations Lee Nutland Advertising To enquire about advertising and to request a media pack contact: email@example.com
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.
CRACK has been created using: Future Islands - Long Flight Phonique & Erlend Oye - Casualities Isaiah Rashad - Ronnie Drake ft SZA Julien Jabre - Swimming Places Overdoz. - Killer Tofu !!! - One Girl One Boy (Maurice Fulton remix) Rocket From The Crypt - On A Rope Todd Terje - Spiral Neneh Cherry - Blank Project Nina Kraviz & Luke Hess - Remember The War On Drugs - Red Eyes Kiwi & Ashworth - CU X3 Kelela - Go All Night Erol Alkan - Check Out Cha Mind Nina Kraviz - Desire Daniel Wang - Islands Enya - Only Time Audio Tech - Darkside (Villod Remix) Von Haze - Golden Symmetry Twisted Nerve - When I’m Alone Drake - Furthest Thing Factotum - Wurlitzer Men - Big Fucker Chris & Cosey - Walking Through Heaven AIDS Wolf - Spit Tastes Like Metal Torn Hawk - ProblemmaticRideSample Bratmobile - Cool Schmool Roxette - It Must Have Been Love Cheatahs - Get Tight Airwolf Theme Tune Age Coin - Untitled 2 R.E.M. - Shiny Happy People (Gramrcy Edit) Lust For Youth - Barcelona Kurt Vile - Goldtone Looks of Love - Looks of Love Tessela - Rough 2 Real Estate - Talking Backwards Factory Floor - Turn it Up (Laurel Halo Remix) Metronomy - The Upsetter Patrick Cowley - Zygote Moderat - Bad Kingdom (Marcel Dettmann remix) Leif - Through Noise Pt.2 www.crackmagazine.net
Flying Lotus - Wake Me William Onyeabor - Something You’ll Never Forget Human League - The Things That Dreams Are Made Of East India Youth - Dripping Down Fuck Buttons - The Red Wing Mogwai - Master Card Four Tet - Kool FM Xiu Xiu - New Life Immigration Death Grips - What I want (Fuck who’s watching) Moonhearts - I Sad 52 Weekend - Rosaries Thug Entrancer - Death After Life IV The New Tigers - Remote Control Tennis - Mean Streets Ian Isiah - So High Burial - Hiders Axel Boman - Dance All Night Noveller - Mannahatta Nils Frahm - An Aborted Beginning Prurient - Through The Window Hot Snakes - Unlisted
Join us for a 5 day alpine adventure and celebration of music, brought to you by Alfresco Disco. Set in and around the picturesque town of Sรถll, Austria, Alpfresco features some of the most exciting artists and brands in electronic music, including: AXEL BOMAN / ITALOJOHNSON / SESSION VICTIM / MARCO BERNARDI / TYPESUN JAMES PRIESTLEY / GILES SMITH / JANE FITZ / GREYMATTER / WAIFS & STRAYS THE KELLY TWINS / LUKAS / JOE 90 / EL HARVO / TOM RIO / DAN WILD CEDRIC MAISON / STE ROBERTS / PARDON MY FRENCH / ALFRESCO DISCO DJS PLUS MORE TBC... For more information and booking go to www.alpfresco.com
3 RECORDS // CONTENTS
DARKSIDE - 1 4 G es a ffels t ei n H el l i forni a John Le nnon Mother Pe a kin g L i g h t s Marshm al l o w Ye llo w ( It a l R e m ix)
THE BEST Of OUR WEBSITE THIS MONTH
RUN THE JEWELS - 1 8 Prin ce Purpl e Ra in RUN DM C Rai si ng H ell T he Ma rs Vol t a D e -Louse d in t h e C o m a t o r iu m SZA - 20 SZA Babyl on (Un re le a s e d ) Kin g Kr ul e H i stoi re d e M e lo d y N e ls o n An ima l C ol l ec t i ve Dai l y Rout in e DANIEL AVERY - 2 2 Au dion S ky Le g owel t D ay s of Persist e n c e Demia n Wi th Love & Vo o d o o DEAFHEAVEN - 24 Ca rib ou A ndorra Je s u Je su We eke nd Ji nx
W a rp t e n / / MIXE S F ROM MR S ATURDAY NI G HT AND F RANCI S IN F ERNO ORC H E STRA // So we’ve got two new Crackcasts up this month, and they both come from artists with surprisingly long monikers. Not that there’s anything wrong with a mouthful of pseudonym. First up, loft party throwing Brooklynites Mr. Saturday Night, who also provided us with a quick interview, throw out a selection of genre-bending party tracks. Meanwhile Australian deep house man Griffin James aka Francis Inferno Orchestra gave us a heads up on how they do it down under with some dusty, slo-mo house goodness.
We were lucky enough to be treated to a peruse of Warp Films’ fantastic new retrospective of their 10 year existence. The weighty retrospective is brimming with stills and memorabilia from the numerous modern classics Warp has produced in that time, alongside a collection of 10 DVDs. The product itself is exceptional: sleek, immaculately designed and reassuringly high-quality, all neatly packaged in a clear blue case that somehow oozes the Warp brand. No wonder we found ourselves gushing little tears of happiness all over the internet about it. There may or may not have been a minor fist fight in the Crack Towers lobby over who’s taking it home first.
HORT - 26 Emin e m The Marsh a ll M a t h e r s LP 2 Be n ia mi no G i g l i Mam m a mclu s ky m cl usky Do Da lla s M AX RIC HT ER - 3 4 Au te chr e Exai Na d ia S i r ot a Baroq ue Kra f twe r k A utobahn
S e c r e t s u n d a z e c o m p e t it i o n / / What’s that? Sunday party throwers secretsundaze are bringing a massive New Years bash to Electric Brixton featuring techno man dem like Shed and Point G? You want to go? You’ve also been listening to Chicago house beatsman Amir Alexander and really want to get your hands on his 12”? Samuel Muir’s artwork is just so up your street? Well, we wouldn’t want to deprive you of a plethora of related stuff then, would we?
STEPHEN MALKMUS & T H E J I C K S - 36 Emin e m fea t . R i h a nna Monster F leetwo od Ma c What Make s Yo u Th in k I’m Th e O n e ? Son n y B ono I Just Si t T h e r e SAPPHIR E S LOWS - 38 Min d S lum s Ol d Dreams Ar e K e e p in g M e Vå r The Worl d F e ll In g a Copel a nd a nd Ma r t yn A &E
Those questions were mostly rhetorical, but here’s one you can actually answer and send back to us for a chance of winning two tickets, an Amir Alexander 12” released on the secretsundaze label and a Samuel Muir print:
2 01 3 ON L INE ROUND - UP // On page 49 we’ve announced what is, in our opinion, the greatest album of 2013. We called up the winner to offer our congratulations, and they were absolutely chuffed. You can check out the interview on our website, along with a run down of the year’s best mixes plus a list of our favourite free-to-download hip-hop releases. And, last but not least, you can find a list of the 10 worst albums of 2013, complete with scathing write-ups and exemplary, stream-able stinkers for your sadistic pleasure. Here’s to another year of incredible (and shite) music.
What is the artist moniker of Berlin techno don Rene Pawlowitz? a) Shed b) Fence c) Jamie Jones Send your answers with the subject “SUNDAZE” to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ch ar lie Boye r & Th e Voyeu rs Sh a c klewel l A rm s 18th Dec embe r
Tam a Su mo & Lak uti Dan ce Tunnel 28th Dec em b e r
Pear so n So und Ova l Spa c e 31st Decembe r
T ro u b le Vi s i on NYE
V a lhalla
Theo Parrish, Maurice Fulton, Anthony Naples, Mr Beatnick Corsica Studios £35
Space Dimension Controller, Prins Thomas, Floorplan Amsterdam RAI December 21st 49.50 Euros
Whether you’re a New Years lover or hater, you can’t deny what is one hell of a party from Trouble Vision this December. You know how they call Theo Parrish the ‘best DJ in the world’? And that Maurice Fulton must be one of the most refined disco spinners alive today? With Fulton seizing that special midnight slot and Parrish on for five hours alongside him, as well as help from fast rising New Yorker Anthony Naples and NTS’ prize beatsmith and revered producer Mr Beatnick, Trouble Vision have easily compiled one of the best NYE line-ups in the city.
As well as a line-up of electronic titans in charismatic locations, the second year of Amsterdam’s Valhalla festival is set to showcase circus acts, attractions and oddities. A seriously strong roster of DJs includes Solomun, TEED, Space Dimension Controller, Makam, Robert Hood under his Floorplan alias, Tensnake and Prins Thomas in venues such as ‘The Colosseum’ and ‘The Rodeo’. Sure, it might also be in Holland, but you can get a Megabus to Amsterdam for like, £3 these days, right? Get involved.
J o y Or bis on Tro xy 31st Decembe r
D ix o n + Âme F ire 1st Jan uar y
Ho r iz o n La n za rote vs Beach Cre e p N Y E Pa rt y
Kerri Chandler, Âme, Bondax Bankso Ski Resort, Bulgaria March 8th-14th Festival and accommodation from £199
Lanzarote vs Beach Creep NYE Party Shacklewell Arms £12.50
Returning for its second year, Horizon is a snow festival organised by team members behind the enduringly brilliant Croatian dance events Outlook and Dimensions, combining beats with the slopes of the Bansko skiing resort in south west Bulgaria’s Pirin Mountains. With a line-up that already includes house music staple Kerri Chandler, Innervisions’ Âme, songstress Andreya Triana, Detroit Swindle, Rachel Row and those little lotharios that are Bondax, and with tickets starting at just £199 for festival and accommodation, this installment looks certain to build on last year’s undisputed success.
Car l Cr a ig b 2 b Cr aig Ri cha rd s fa bric 4 th Ja n uar y
If you don’t fancy spending the turn of a new annum in the company of a superstar DJ, or sat in front of the Hootenanny (which has lost all credibility since we found out it’s prerecorded and they’re all just a bunch of goddamn PHONIES), then the trusty Shacklewell is offering a far more rambunctious and alternative ... alternative. Regular club night Beach Creep are teaming up with ace promoters Lanzarote to present ultra hyped psych-surf-jammers The Wytches, alongside butt-kicking sort-ofsupergroup Claw Marks and ATP-approved vinyl freak DJ Cherrystones. Gnarly New Year, anyone?
TRA A M S S ebri g ht Arms 2 2 nd Januar y
Fu n kin e v e n
Ko w to n
Dance Tunnel December 31st
The Waiting Room January 10th
I b i za : M o me n t s I n L o v e
S O N LUX T he L ex i ng t on 2 3 rd Januar y
ICA Until Jan 26th Free
Os l o
Ibiza: Moments In Love takes an in-depth look back to the Golden Age of the White Isle through a collection of club posters, books and original photographs from the 80s. It presents the context of Europe’s most treasured ‘pleasure Island’ as a location long frequented by liberal 18-30s, historically providing a haven for alternative Spaniards during Franco’s rule. Also documenting three of the most important clubs in the world – Ku, Amnesia and Pacha – Moments in Love captures the cultural significance of an island which came to define dance music as we know it.
So you want to swap your standard East London night out for an evening of artisanal food, live music and craft beer under the glow of the northern lights? Shame those darn plane tickets are looking pricey and the wallet's feeling thin this month. Whimper no more, for hope is on the horizon. Hackney's newest venue Oslo, situated in a redeveloped railway station, boasts the prospect of a dark Nordic aesthetic, and their eclectic launch party on January 17th will be hosted by Nimrod. What more could you need?
Amhurst Street, Hackney
A kkor d f abri c 2 4t h Januar y
Cass McC o mb s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre January 13th £14
Mo rit z Vo n Oswa ld
A wanderer, a man with a story to tell and only a guitar with which to tell it. It’s not all bad though. Cass McCombs occupies a sort of alternative American dream, one filled less with clichés of bald eagles and open roads and more with mass murder and LSD. Crafting folk ballads that are as heartfelt as they are disturbing, McCombs is a self proclaimed nomad who strips folk back to its roots and then rebuilds it as something both thoroughly modern and completely terrifying.
Jaws T he Borderl i ne 2 8t h Januar y
Egg London January 11th
secretsundaze NYE Levon Vincent, Shed, Tim Sweeney Electric Brixton £21.50
Fl ako Aut umn S t reet S t udi o 3 1st Januar y
Taking it back to Electric Brixton where they sold out their Easter 2013 show, secretsundaze sign off what has been a great year for the Sunday institution. Bookended by the ever-brilliant head honchos Giles Smith and James Priestly, the main room hosts dub techno hero Levon Vincent and the enigmatic Shed alongside DJ Gregory’s reincarnation as Point G. Hosted by ReviveHer, Beats in Space institution Tim Sweeney joins cult acid house and techno from the Hague with Crème Organization’s DJ TLR for another faultless event from the sundaze family.
Fa b ric N Y E Craig Richards, DVS1, Skudge, Maxxi Soundsystem fabric From £35
Oval Space Music presents Robert Hood Rai ner The Waiting Room January 23rd
J e s s i c a P ra t t Cafe Oto January 16th £10 After shyly uploading the occasional four-track recording over the course of a few years, San Fran based singer/songwriter Jessica Pratt eventually got in touch with White Fence leader Tim Presley, who was stunned by the way Pratt sprinkled her tender songs with magic 60s dust. The pair compiled Pratt’s tracks for her 2012 self titled album, which was promptly met with critical acclaim for her gorgeous vocals and the way in which she channels nostalgic influences into a very contemporary feeling sound. Just don’t call it ‘freak-folk’.
Oval Space February 1st £11.50 Robert Hood heads the bill of the inaugural Oval Space Music event to take place in the consistently lovely titular Bethnal Green venue. Commencing in early 2014 and running until March, the multi-arts space will host six in-house events marked as ‘Chapter 1’. Kicking off in February with techno pioneers Robert Hood and Jerome Sydenham as well as the multi-monikered Luke Slater, the initial event showcases the promoters’ darker side, as well as some of the world’s best talent in rough edged techno.
Fabric’s New Years stint sees them celebrate with those held nearest and dearest to them, inviting long standing residents Craig Richards and Terry Francis to top the bill of room 1 and 2, alongside The Martinez Brothers, Dyed Soundorom, George Fitzgerald, DVS1, Skudge, Anthony Parasole, Waifs and Strays, Maxxi Soundsytem and more. Anyone who experienced their birthday celebrations this year will know full well fabric’s dizzying flair for taking on big celebrations head first and with momentum. For those that didn’t, you can take our word for it.
H ol y Wave S hack l ew el l Arms 5 t h Februar y
C h i l di s h Gam bi no Kok o 6t h Februar y
M a x R ich te r: M e mo r y h o u se Barbican January 24th
I ndi ana O sl o 6t h Februar y
Eu g e n e Quell J a a k k o E in o Ka le v i Now, we like to think we keep our ears to the ground, but part-time tram driver, multi-instrumentalist and all round musical oddball Jaakko Eino Kalevi is one of those artists who seems to have snuck up out of nowhere. Having been beguiled by his debut EP Dreamzone, we got in touch to find out where he’d been hiding. He told us the simple truth: “I’ve been living my life here in Finland. Recording, playing shows and mobbing.” It seems not being in Jaakko’s native land, where he is already something of a cult hero, has put us at a slight disadvantage in this case. No matter, we still managed to get our ears around No End, his disco-powered debut single, and fell for it instantly. “It’s true, I love disco,” he confessed. “Having said that I have to add that, in principle, I can’t really name any genre I don’t like – except dubstep.” It’s fair to say Jaako’s intelligent, dreamy music represent a total antithesis to dubstep’s increasingly aggressive, jarring drops and stabs. The new EP is a perfectly smooth combination of swirling synths and gleefully strange instrumentation, where cloudy, textured tunes and peculiarly propulsive rhythms flirt with new-wave and lo-fi influences. So what next for Finland’s new king of wonky disco? Well Jaakko has “a small tour coming up in January and then possibly another EP coming early next year” but, he tells us, “the most important thing is to work on my next album.” Good news, because we don’t want to wait too long to hear it.
London-based Californian grunge revivalist Eugene Quell masterfully crafts fuzzy nuggets which are reminiscent of some of the genre’s catchiest gems. It’s not all 90s throwbacks and trendy retro cash-ins though. Quell’s noisy brand of pop is timelessly infectious and instantly relatable whilst somehow retaining uncompromising, distorted layers of nervous energy. It’s almost like something Bush might have done if Gavin Rossdale had never met Gwen Stefani and started doing songs with Blue Man Group for shit film soundtracks.
Bo y a Despite having only a few releases to his name, Dublin producer Boya is gathering momentum, with a recent feature on DIY cassette imprint Opal Tapes preceding his latest, shimmering offering for prolific New York label/party Mister Saturday Night. Generating radio plays from the likes of Ben UFO, the MSN release in question is a rough edged melodic track where soggy synths meet satisfyingly gravelly percussion. With such coarse-hewn production in key with former releases on MSN from the likes of fellow Dubliner Lumigraph, his first EP is a promising glimpse of what Boya's capable of.
eugenequell.com soundcloud.com/boyaboyaboya Tune: Weird Purr Tune: Idler File Next To: Bush | Thee Oh Sees File Next To: Anthony Naples | Lumigraph
twitter.com/JaakkoEino Tune: No End File Next To: Ariel Pink | Prince
G a l Pals Don’t hate them cause they’re beautiful. The fact is, Texan duo Gal Pals are also extremely good at writing pop songs, which might be why they’re the first international signing to Bristol’s underground gatekeepers Howling Owl Records. They are also the band most likely to have you dancing around your bedroom like a 14-year-old after one too many Wham bars at a birthday party. Seriously, if a bunch of Haribo Starmix came to life, broke out of their bag and decided to record some tunes this would be the result. Sweet.
One of the many standouts on Solange Knowles’ Saint Heron compilation is Relax, a track by Starchild and a band called The New Romantic. We did a little research, and it turns out that Starchild pays the bills with the enviable job of playing guitar with Solange’s band, and he’s also performed as a backing singer for Blood Orange. The luscious, 80s-feeling pop sound of Relax marks a promising point of progression for Starchild, as he’s been experimenting with his voice on amateur, piano-led demos and spaced-out rap tracks. Whether or not he can squash the (rather polite) beef between Solange and Dev Hynes, however, remains to be seen.
Tune: For Our Sake
Gu e rilla Toss Boston five-piece Guerilla Toss make furious, migraineinducing polyrhythmic art-punk that’s led by the distortionsmeared yelps of their hyperactive frontwoman Kassie Carlson. They have a member who loves exposing himself in press photos, their eye-wateringly garish artwork is consistently awesome and they’ve got song titles like God Fearing Sex Symbol, You’re Not My Real Dad and Diluted Fetus Circus Tycoon. What’s not to love? The band’s new album Gay Disco has just dropped, and it’s probably not going to make them much money.
Fa st T ime s We’ve always got one eye watching whatever 100% Silk's up to, and this month the award for ‘Best purveyor of slinky, lofi but luxurious feeling retro house’ goes to Brooklynite Jorge Day, who’s just dropped the album Bodytalk under his Fast Times alias. If you’re familiar with Silk’s aesthetic, you’ll have an idea of Day’s vibe – he’s influenced by Dadaism and sci-fi escapism as well as Chicago house and French boogie. And if you’re still suspicious of anything that could be tarred with the ‘hipster house’ tag, then Bodytalk might change your mind, because the analogue driven tracks we’ve heard are total ear candy.
guerillatoss.bandcamp.com facebook.com/fasttimesnyc Tune: Pink Elephant File Next To: Best Coast | Black Lips
Tune: Comfort Zone
Tune: Relax File Next To: AIDS Wolf | Ponytail File Next To: Petite Noir | Cities Aviv
File Next To: James Booth | Magic Touch
DARKSIDE T he collaboration between N icolas J aar and Dave WORDS Thom as Fr o s t
H arrington has taken their prodigious level of creation and musicianship to an entirely new level . C rack traversed the Atlantic to witness an intimate New York show
Nicolas Jaar makes all of his music in his Lower Manhattan apartment, and if you had the daily joy of the skyline that floods his six-window view, complete with fluctuating light gradient, your creative juices would be flowing too. Crack is in New York. Jaar and his long-term collaborative cohort Dave Harrington are sat in the aforementioned apartment in stark anticipation of their first gig in New York for two years. The previous evening Crack witnessed Jaar play a hybrid half-live, half on-the-fly re-edit ‘DJ’ set in trendy Williamsburg nightspot Cameo. Having deprived his hometown of live performances of late, we can’t help but feel we’ve arrived at the apex of Jaar’s reintroduction to his adopted city. “I haven’t played my own personal show in New York for two years, because I just never find time, even though it’s my home” Jaar tells us. “I just want to come home and play piano, I don’t think about playing shows. But now, three or four months into the label [the newly birthed Other People], I’m starting to feel more and more like New York is a place to do these sorts of things. The more I like New York, the more I hate it, and the more I want to play to it.” Later that evening, Brooklyn’s immense juxtaposition of dereliction and renovation is our stomping ground, with the unassuming brickwork and wooden doors of gig spot Glasslands the chosen haunt for DARKSIDE’s intimate fan-only show, tickets for which sold out in a breathless 10 minutes. 300 die-hards pack into the Brooklyn sweatbox with the sound of DFA badman Justin Miller on warm-up duty, before Jaar’s multieffect, multi-paced, multi-layered narrative slowly unfolds with Harrington’s guitar tethering the whole affair and adding a distinctive air of melodrama to the undulating atmospherics. Added satisfaction comes from the knowledge the duo are unlikely to inhabit similarly intimate surroundings in the foreseeable future – their 2014 European tour, spanning the entirety of March, takes in a range of illustrious, hefty but creatively-inclined venues, from Berlin’s Astra to Glasgow’s Art School and London’s grandiose theatre The Coronet. Yet we’d already experienced the duo as upclose as you could ever hope to get, that day
in Jaar’s apartment, with him and Harrington jamming absent-mindedly on the laptop and piano respectively. “Do your Neil Young impression,” Jaar asks Harrington, who dutifully obliges. There’s a trust between them, a musical respect forged on tour whilst Harrington performed guitar duties for the live band incarnation of Jaar’s first album. And for those unversed with Nicolas Jaar, selectivity is the primary imperative, which makes being allowed into his inner sanctum as much of a scoping out exercise as it is a free-flowing interview. We’re asked to remove our shoes at the door and the atmosphere is congenial, but formal, with an itinerary formulated and in-jokes exchanged between both DARKSIDE members and their manager. Harrington sits to the left of Jaar (with his shoes on) taking in Crack’s opening questions, while Jaar casually flicks through a book, seemingly disconnected. It’s almost as if the microscope has swivelled, though this does allow time to familiarise ourselves with the somewhat less familiar half of DARKSIDE. “It started two or three years ago when Nico was putting a band together to tour after Space Is Only Noise”, Harrington relays. “Our mutual friend is this great musician named Will Epstein, whose project is called High Water and who was playing in the band. Nico went to Will and said, “I’m looking for a guitar player”. This is when we were all in Brown University, and at the time I was mostly a bass player, as that was what I’d grown up doing and that’s how Will knew me. So Will was like, “Dave’s a pretty good bass player”, so we had a jam session on the Lower East side, went round the corner to have a beer and then Nico was like, “do you want to go on tour?” “I think it would be wrong to underestimate and undervalue the intensity and honesty of playing Nico’s music in the first generation of the band”, he continues. “Having that gig, it wasn’t like Nico just gave me a bunch of sheet music and I learned the songs. It was much more like a jazz gig or this experimental thing. It was me trying to bring the best thing I could.” It’s in the success of this improvisational, experimentalist environment that a deep understanding has been forged. Like a classic musical odd couple, Jaar is direct, straight-talking with deep-
“ I g ot a fa k e I . D w h e n I w a s yo u n g e r ,
le av e
p a r t y I w a s at a n d s n e a k i n t o j a z z b a r s . By t h e t i m e I wa s o u t o f h i g h s c h o o l , m y I . D s a id I w a s 2 5 .” - D a v e H a r r i n g t o n
SIT E d ark si de us a . c o m
set eyes and freshly shaven buzz cut, in contrast to Harrington’s higher-pitched tones and curly mop of strawberry blonde hair. And it’s Harrington’s New York upbringing and love of avant-garde jazz that collides and melds so effectively with Jaar’s prodigious take on 21st century electronic music in the form of DARKSIDE’s debut full-length, the consistently engrossing Psychic. Harrington explains: “I was living in New York, playing mostly jazz and experimental music – or whatever you can do with experimental music when you’re 15. I grew up taking jazz lessons. I never had a rock band in my garage or anything like that. I grew up taking lessons from these jazz guys in New York who are like sidemen with jazz legends. I was learning from these guys and having the opportunity to go to places like Tonic and the original Knitting Factory, because my teachers told me to come and see their gigs. It would be mind-blowingly weird and at like, 14 or 15, that had a huge impact. So that has carried on with me. I mean – going to see John Zorn. I got a fake I.D when I was younger, so I’d leave the party I was at and sneak into Tonic and go and see Steve Bernstein at midnight on a Friday. By the time I was out of high school, my I.D said I was 25. That was my fun when I was growing up. It’s in my pores.” These credentials fit snugly with Jaar’s multiinstrumentalist, organic attitude to recording – an approach which resulted in Crack’s album of 2011, Space Is Only Noise. One of the most startling electronic debuts of its era, it was all the more refreshing being, as it was, wonderfully at odds with the swathe of ten-a-penny house music producers which sat alongside it. Its natural samples, warped vocals, grainy noise and slow-paced, throbbing beats bore a loose relationship to the house music canon, but in other ways entirely eschewed it. His Clown & Sunset label followed, with a distinct identity married to this astounding debut, featuring artists and friends such as Acid Pauli and Valentin Stip. But like any true artist, the need for re-invention and the changing of musical lanes became paramount. Enter Other People, Jaar’s new label, whose scope is much broader than his previous imprint. “In the most simple sense, the sound I was really excited about five or six years ago that was a little slower and a little more moody and had vocals, and was inherently very electronic, but also organic – I got bored of that” reveals Jaar about his motivations for the sudden reset. “That sound ended up encapsulating what Clown & Sunset was. There were 60 songs on there and it was my first curatorial statement. I’m fine with it, but it’s over. I’m not excited by it any more. “I changed. Just as I got excited about making noise and rock ‘n’ roll with Dave, I stopped being excited by making funny piano house tunes. Most of the music I put out on Clown & Sunset, at least most of my stuff, is very old. Half of it was done before I was 20. This is what I was into a long time ago and it took a while for me to put it down and try a new thing. I’m very happy with Other People the label. I feel like it’s a blank slate and I’m not curatorially tied any more to any particular sound. This is also a sign of where I am now as a producer. I love going into DARKSIDE world and producing DARKSIDE stuff and I love being here [in his apartment] and making music for me, or producing another artist, or doing A&R. Before it was very much me in my studio making one type of specific ‘me’ music, so now it’s expanded.” One of the major characteristics giving Other People definition is the subscription service that sees members receive music every Sunday as part of their fee. It also provided the forum to acquire tickets for the much sought after Brooklyn show. In these days of free music at every turn, it’s testament to Jaar’s
standing that his audience are prepared to spend money on his output. So with this constant supply of music, has there been a conscious decision to give Other People space for diversity? Nico explains: “I’m taking risks and going out of my way to make sure that happens. And it’s all cool because we still have more and more subscribers every month, so it’s like no matter what we throw at people, they remain interested. “Dave and I joked that one day I’m going to try and invent USB shoes or something, because I woke up and said “why don’t we give people some music every Sunday?” And then we were like, ‘we should probably charge people for that because it’s a lot of work.’ That’s all it is.” So what about take-up, has it been a success? “Yeah it’s been good. It’s satisfying to know there’s a big audience that I can fulfil.” Jaar laughs nervously. “I mean ‘fulfil’ in the business term; I’m not fulfilling them in any other way!” As our conversation moves on, the two noticeably settle. They’re happy to divulge that the name DARKSIDE bears no relation to either Star Wars, or The Dark Side Of The Moon, and confirm that their remix album of Random Access Memories under the name Daftside was every bit as spontaneous and light-hearted as the title suggested. “We did Get Lucky in like an hour: done. It was really cool and fun and hip-hop, but still us. The next day I was like ‘I can’t wait to do the whole album, I want to do another one.’ So when Random Access Memories came out I went straight to Dave and said ‘let’s keep on doing this’.” But despite his lofty stature and, as a result, more recognisable face, our conversation hits a stern moment when we question whether the nature of DARKSIDE could be defined as an offshoot of Jaar’s solo work. He’s emphatic in stressing the project’s parity. “When we talked the first time [Crack interviewed Jaar in 2011], we’d just started the first incarnation of the band performing my music. Two years later it’s no longer me writing the songs and performing them with three musicians I respect. It’s me and Dave making songs together and performing them to a level that is much higher than the level at which we’d be able to play my music. So now, when Dave takes his guitar and plays the actual riff he played in the recording, it’s live in a different way than if Dave was just grooving along to the things I’m doing. There’s a component there that’s very emotional – he’s tied to things he’s playing because he wrote them. So it’s not an offshoot. It’s the next step, and it’s just better.” Harrington is also keen to emphasise this separation: “On a musical level what Nico had done was curate a band of people to interpret his ideas. It was very different to being hired to play another songwriter’s songs in the sense of ‘it goes G, it goes C, it goes A’. It was never like that. Now we have something that is shared in a different way.” So with music that’s almost defined by its unpredictability, not least from Jaar’s seemingly spontaneous ability to find an effect, the most traditional sound running through the music of DARKSIDE is Harrington’s guitar. From the Mark Knopfleresque, musically conversational tones of Paper Trails, to the 80s riffage of Heart, among this most modern of acts therein lies guitar work to add a rich, almost retro modus-operandi to the DARKSIDE sound – one most closely associate with blues. “There is a gravitational pull towards the blues when
P H OTOS Kel l y Teacher
o f f s h o o t . It’s the next s t e p, a n d i t ’ s just better” Ni c o l a s
DATES B utto n F a ctor y, D ubl i n | March 25t h Art Sch o o l, Gl asg ow | March 2 6t h Ritz , M a n cheste r | March 27th C o ro net, Lond on | March 29th
you plug in a guitar”, Harrington says. “Unless you’re Fred Frith in Henry Cow, who does, like, weird noise prepared guitar. where he used to have the guitar in his lap and drop a chain on it or bow it while the chain is on it, I really think if you just start playing notes, you just either submit to the blues or you fight it as hard as you can. I tend to submit. If it comes out that way I tend to submit to it.” Jaar is typically forthright on the subject. “Also, we fucking love blues. It’s like, ‘do you like music? Yeah? ‘Cause you’ll like blues. ‘You like pop music? You’ll like blues.’ To me it’s an easy thing to talk about. But it’s kind of a truth.” Another truth that’s hard to ignore is that Nicolas Jaar has retained the kind of self-control and musical independence that, in these days of playing gigs for mobile phone companies, has become increasingly scarce. Another truth is that retaining this kind of autonomy can be perceived as arrogance. During our time together, Jaar refuses to be photographed outdoors or filmed despite the presence of prepared film equipment. But it’s this seeming intolerance of what he perceives to be sub-standard ideas, conjecture, venues or people; this obsessive desire to be in control of his presentation at every level, that have brought him to the position he now inhabits. This comes into sharp focus when discussing his gig the previous night at Cameo. “I was sound-checking all day. I went there before the show, had a look, put on a couple of my tracks and I thought it sounded good. Then I got there yesterday and I put it 10db louder and that 10db changed how
the entire room sounded.” He’s visibly irked. “So we were sound checking for five or six hours changing certain things, putting certain things through a computer, and I was about to cancel the show. I was furious, I wanted to fucking shoot someone, because the sound was just going to be a disaster. So we were thinking about how we could remedy the sound problem and I had this idea that we turn the monitors, these two big QSCs, up to the level for the audience and see if that changes something and it changed everything. The room was so small that the two QSCs sounded incredible for the room. They happened to be the perfect complimentary sound to the shitty sound of the big speakers. We ended up having a really, really good sound and a really good show. You have to do your best to get the place looking and feeling exactly how you want.” The obsessive attention to detail is paramount, and the results are astounding. Not least when this process was applied at Simple Things festival in October when he headlined Crack’s first foray into festivaldom. Photographs of the venue were sourced in order for Jaar to approve our choice. The performance was an unmitigated success. And now here we are, sitting in his apartment, a setting which defines Jaar in all his facets. Books on comparative literature (the degree which he studied throughout his meteoric rise) adorn his bookshelves, while Nietzche sits alongside a French-language obituary to Lou Reed as coffee table reading. Having achieved the kind of adoration in dance music those at the upper echelons usually achieve at nearer double his age, 23-year-old Jaar is a total anomaly.
A character of deadpan brilliance, blessed with a confidence not just in his musical ability, but his place amongst the cultural variables that underpin the wider musical world. His Essential Mix, RA podcast and XLR8R mix were musical excavations on a higher level, incorporating thorough deviations into jazz and classical. Put simply, very few DJs could accomplish that, and reclining in our seat in his inner sanctum, it’s clear exactly why an individual who has bathed themselves in their own worldliness can. With Dave Harrington’s avant-garde jazz expertise adding yet more weight to the already lofty musical palette, DARKSIDE was always going to find a home in New York and far, far further afield.
Psychic is available now via Other People / Matador. DARKSIDE tour the UK in March 2014
SZA W ith a delicate voice and hard head , S Z A has secured a role with this era’ s definitive hip-hop collective
W ORD S Dun can Harri son
SITE ia msz a. c o m
TUN E Teen Spirit
“You can literally just ride your bikes with your friends all day, every day, for the whole summer. Its a bored kid’s heaven. I was super bored, and I didn’t have anything to do, but there’s not even any trouble to get in to unless you’re like, getting high.” This is SZA, the 23-year-old singer from Maplewood, New Jersey speaking about where she grew up. This same girl has been signed to Top Dawg Entertainment (home of Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and the newly-initiated Isaiah Rashad) and her voice is causing serious reverberations in the hiphop world. SZA’s journey to this point is fairly easy to follow but slightly harder to believe. Crack battled through delayed flights and dodgy phone-lines to talk about her ongoing ascent. “I first met TDE by dropping them off clothes to wear", she says of her serendipitous first break. "I think it was at Kendrick’s first show at Gramercy. My homegirl came with me and she was listening to this little horrible song I made. Punch (ie, Terrence Henderson, Top Dawg’s CEO) was like ‘Damn, what are you listening to so intently!? Give me the earphones’ and he starts saying ‘Your voice is really pretty, it’s really interesting’. I was like, damn! He was one of the first people outside my parents to hear my voice." She continues, enthusiasm peaked. "It all came together at SXSW this past year because I didn’t have anywhere to stay and they took me in. Maybe a month after that I got a call and he was like ‘Can you pack your shit tonight?’ I said ‘I guess, can I bring my friend with me?’”. You could argue that this apparent obliviousness to age-old industry etiquette is part
of what makes SZA such a breath of fresh air in a contrived, cut-throat landscape. And SZA’s hip-hop phonebook stretches beyond the world of TDE. Her recent song Teen Spirit was crafted by WondaGurl – the 16-year-old who produced Crown for Jay Z and Travi$ Scott‘s Uptown. “I got told about her after I heard the beat and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s fucking crazy’. We’ve formed a super organic relationship, I still talk to her and she’s awesome.” SZA’s team make a point of not telling her who produces which track before playing it to her, on account of her acute musical awareness and obsession. As a music fanatic at heart, SZA has been as enthralled as the rest of us with the wealth of releases that have come out of 2013, despite being trapped in what she describes fondly as “a TDE bubble”. “I loved King Krule, I like Lorde a lot but other than that I’ve been listening to a lot of old stuff. I still love Animal Collective, I still love The Knife, I still love Fever Ray.” In the year when twerk-pandemonium has relentlessly divided opinion about women in the music industry, SZA has a direct, firm attitude towards her position within TDE. “They treat everyone equally. We get yelled at equally, we have the same amount of expectations, nobody babies you just because you’re a girl. If I was with any other label, I might not have that freedom - the way I dress is the way I dress, I do my hair how I do my hair, I’m very hard-headed.” For the casual hip-hop listener, you’d presume being signed to a juggernaut label involves an AAA pass to the kind of crazy mansion parties you see in the videos (see: Young Money's Bedrock). “There’s none of that! In one hand, of course you always want to see if that
shit is really real but I have yet to experience it. I don’t party, so I don’t really know - I’ve just been hanging out in a TDE clubhouse all summer working.” The future is seemingly unwritten for SZA, when we ask her about the next two parts of her S Z A EP trilogy she tells us, “I have no idea. I think I might just hurry up and make the album”. Either way, SZA could provide a remedy to a year of purposefullycontroversial stunts and a distinct over-exposure to the debate of what women in music should or shouldn’t look like. The victory here is SZA’s voice, and how she weaves it through her glittery, melody driven sound. Even if the EP trilogy finished off her name, her sonic identity is yet to be truly discovered, and we seriously can’t wait to see the results. ----------S EP is out now
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Run The Jewels T wo hip- hop heavyweights form like Voltron , tearing a hole in the rap game with a crooked smile
TUN E Get I t
Killer Mike and El-P are on an absolute tear right now. Met with broad acclaim, they could have feasibly dined out on last year’s 1-2 sucker punch of El-P’s Cancer 4 Cure (on which Mike featured) and Mike’s R.A.P. Music (which El-P produced) until both albums turned stale. Instead, they paired up to form Run The Jewels, dropping a self-titled mixtape that combines gleeful carnage with polemical snarl, absurdist humour and El-P’s self-ascribed “eye for distortion”. Before their thunderous sold-out London debut, Crack initially struggles to get a word in edgeways, their ability to seamlessly flit between seriousness and silliness proving a little disarming at first. Although tired, they’re in good spirits, constantly chipping away at one another: Mike goading El-P over being a sell-out, El-P later returning the favour by loudly professing his love for carving “figurines out of large bars of industrial soap” as Mike slips into autopilot mode, speaking ambitiously about dreams to expand his SWAG barbershop franchise nationally. As a buddy comedy with no moral compass, that the Mike & El Show plans to run for years to come is undoubtedly a very good thing indeed.
So first up: Do you guys wrestle each other? And if so, who wins? Mike: He’d win, because he’s fucking mean and he’s a ginger and half-Irish. He’s a tough motherfucker. El-P: There’s no way I would win. You know it, I know it, science knows it. I’m not stupid enough to wrestle him. We mind wrestle – then it’s anybody’s victory. When it actually came round to recording material, how does it get done? Most of it sounds like two kids in a basement, gassed off each other’s energy. There must have been a few one-liners where you had to pull back, just highfive and laugh? E: God yeah, several times. Most of them were spontaneous, like one or two takes maximum. M: That’s just it. Often as soon as we’d finish the first take, right away we'd just explode with laughter. You can’t laugh during the take or it fucks up, so it’s tough. E: It’s hard to make the record we made and not laugh throughout the whole thing. But it’s not a laugh, it’s more a diabolical, evil cackle.
WO R D S G ab r i e l S z at an
M: I rap about shooting a fucking poodle, just like: FUCK poodles, motherfucker. When my wife heard it for the first time she was like, “damn, you shot a dog?” “Nope: shot a baby and a dog.” E: [Shakes head in mock horror] In the first verse. He laughed, I just got on my knees and said a prayer.
January, and while I was playing Reagan a chant went up … as an American, I’m familiar with who Margaret Thatcher was, but I wasn’t familiar with the sentiment of the people towards her. So a chant arose from the crowd going, “Die Maggie Die!”. I didn’t know what the fuck to do. Oh shit.
Is comedy a natural foil to evil or is partly an escape mechanism from the grit around you? E: Personally I’ve always kept that maniacal, drunk on the edge of the cliff laughter in the back of my head, not only in my music but in the way I look at life. To me, that’s the only way to deal with it. I think natural humour in a dangerous situation is a powerful thing. There’s a lot of obvious over-the-top shit where we’re really enjoying saying the words, that aspect of just invoking the humour. I think it happens when you’ve got a certain type of intellect – that’s just the way me and Mike are, for sure. We really made this record for ourselves, and found a lot of common ground in that sinister humour. Are the heavy references purely for your own entertainment too, or did you want to ramp up sales of Twin Hype 12”s and Mike Tysonendorsed Nintendo games as well? E: [Laughs] We were just pumped and that happens when you get two people like me and Mike in the same room – we’d be already making the same jokes anyway even if we weren’t rapping. M: Rap is about braggadocio, first and foremost. Everybody learns how to rap talking about themselves. As a movement right now, we’re kind of stuck in a certain place where things define who we are. We wanted our first record to be traditionally what any first good record would be like: talking about how we’re the shit. But it’s less about the shit we have, but who we are, how we think and what we can do. I think the only way you do that is to get dark and outrageous. I like a lot of British action movies – Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, shit like that. Those movies are packed with a lot of raw action and darkness, but there’s also a sense of humour about them that’s amazing. I wanted to replicate that experience, and the ill shit about Run The Jewels, for me, is it does. When you’re out on tour, watching people shout back to you about soothing suicide booths or still spelling America with the triple K, do you feel you’re getting through? That they’ll leave the concert considering a different outlook? M: I think they do. I did a show here in London in
M: Yeah! That’s exactly what I thought: “Oh. Shit. What the fuck is going on?” Later on – God bless the dead – she passed and when I got the word, it really sent a chill to my spine. I was wondering the same thing: “are kids getting this?” For me that song's not about Ronald Reagan the man. We have the Martin Luther King holiday – a national holiday celebrating one of the greatest American orators and African Americans ever – because he conceded to that. But as a policy, Reaganism was evil. His regime was evil. To lionise that type of evil, and even compare yourself to that in the present day, is foolhardy, it’s dangerous and it sends us back down the course of that road, potentially. That’s what I rally against. But for those kids to internalise that message, and say the same set of circumstances happened based on this politician, shows the audience gets it, and that they’re smart. Rap is the reason I began to study harder in school; how I gained a certain consciousness about what was really going on in the matrix we call the world versus what what we were being fed by intelligence. I don’t doubt the ability of my audience to get higher things in rap records. Do you find your worldview softening at all? Especially when coming off tour, experiencing firsthand that connection, does life look less harsh than when you’re in a chamber making a record? E: Life is not as harsh as when I’m in a chamber making a record. I mean, the type of records I make are exorcisms, and they’re necessary for me as a person. If I didn’t, I’d be naked in the street with a pistol – which would be not only weird-looking but dangerous for everybody. But we really do have a great time, and I think sometimes people are really taken back. They expect me to be this sullen, evil motherfucker who’s just constantly thinking about just the darkest shit … and, y’know, that’s not the guy you’re going to see all the time. But he could take over. He has tried – luckily I’ve been able to figure out how to rap.
P H O TO D ex t er L ander
label, dropping the PLEDGE series and getting to R.A.P Music was the marginalised touring that I was able to do. I thank God for the last two records as they’ve enabled me to go back on tour. I don’t know the perspective of, “oh man, can’t wait get these endorsements so I have enough money that I don’t have to tour!” The rapper I dreamed of was one who toured, six to nine months a year. You just have to laugh at least once or twice a day. Although some days you don’t laugh. E: I always laugh at you. M: You laugh at me, but I laugh with you. When you fall, I laugh with you. E: When you sleep, I stand over you. M: I fart on your bed when you’re asleep, and you don’t know. E: That’s why I always wake up crying. What if I went through your bag and found a little can of fake smell of shit spray? M: You will! Have you been going through my bag? E: You’re going to die on tour, you know that? M: I pray that it’s not this tour, and I pray that it’s not some Willie Nelson age. I want to start taking some barber classes. E: Technically I should get mine because I’ll probably be there when you die. M: I’ve only just gotten to the point before we came here where I told my wife that I was glad it’s merely a few dates on this run. I just wanna go home, sleep next to her, wake up and kick it with my children; but it took 23 months for me to get that way. I’m built for this shit. If I can tour till I die, that’s what I’m gonna do. You guys realise you might have to put those ambitions on hold given that you’ve just announced Run The Jewels 2? M: [Pause; exchanges pained glance with a shrugging El] Aww fuck. [Both laugh]
---------M: I’m from the DMX school: the studio shit is cool, let’s get it done, cause I wanna be on stage. That’s it. Ever since I was a little fat boy who dreamed of being a breakdancer, that’s what I’ve wanted to do. The worst part of the years between leaving a major
Run The Jewels is available now via Big Dada
s h o ot i n g
m o t h e r f u c k e r ” - Ki l l e r Mi k e
Daniel Avery With drone logic , Daniel Avery has become one the UK’ s most admired crossover electronic artists
The transition from idolising your influences to hanging out with them backstage before they play your records is a strange and rewarding experience for any artist. For Daniel Avery, the time-lapse was especially acute: one minute he was a boy from Bournemouth finding his feet in the heady, seductive sounds of electroclash, the next he was a regular fabric resident, basking in the patronage of Andrew Weatherall, and had signed to Erol Alkan’s Phantasy label. To cap it all, Avery’s debut album Drone Logic has been met with a deluge of positive press, praising his textured, looping, acid-flecked techno. And when Crack catches up with him, his head is aching from a weekend spent surfing the wave of hype that the record has generated. “I’ve been really happy with how the album’s been received,” Avery explains. “For me what’s been most exciting is that a load of different DJs have been playing it, some of my heroes like DJ Harvey or Richie Hawtin, but also new people like Maya Jane Coles and Scuba, people who I would never have expected to even look at it. I didn’t make it with those people in mind, but it’s really cool how it’s filtered in.”
W ORD S Adam C o rne r
From the rubber-band bass and acid hypnotism of Water Jump, to the intricate, almost gloomy nostalgia of Simulrec, Drone Logic weaves in many different directions at once. So perhaps it’s no surprise that its timeless sounds have resonated with varied dancefloors. Avery routinely describes himself as DJ first and a producer second, and his commitment to the good old fashioned craft of playing records paid dividends when producing the album. “I wasn’t really nervous before the album came out, because almost every single track had been road-tested DJing over the previous months” he said. “I took demos out on the road and played them in front of crowds for their immediate reaction, then I’d go back to them the next week and edit them. In that respect, I already had a lot of feedback.” Scan the press on Avery’s backstory and the thing that jumps out at you is the level of interest surrounding the fact he wasn’t born spinning a pair of Technics. Shockingly, he listened to guitar music during his formative years. Perhaps this says more about the insecurities of dance music journalism than anything else – the need to identify, in order to accept, an ‘out-of-towner’. But there does seem to be something different about Daniel Avery. “Yeah, I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider in terms of dance music” Avery mused, “that’s not me trying to be obtuse, but I genuinely don’t feel part of a scene. The reason I got into dance music was because I latched on to people who I saw as having similar reference points to me, and they were outsiders themselves. Erol Alkan, Andrew Weatherall, Ivan Smagghe, even people like Michael Mayer or Optimo – they were all kind of like lone ranger characters, they all had their own thing going on, and even looks-wise they all bore more resemblance to the bands I was into rather than superstar DJs.”
To be clear: Drone Logic is not rock meets rave. Despite some sniffy comments about the ‘indie DJ’ making an album of dance music, the record has more common ground with Kompakt than Klaxons. The ‘guitar’ influence comes through in the odd psychedelic flourish or the occasional shoegaze-esque aesthetic. But fundamentally, this is leftfield dance music – something which forms the backbone of Avery’s show on Rinse FM. “I’m really enjoying being on Rinse” he explained. “The walls of genres seem to be disappearing, and it’s not a case of ‘mashing’ things together, it’s more that genres seem to be informing each other in interesting ways. People like Pev & Kowton are making trippy techno tracks that have obviously been informed by a different kind of dancefloor and I’ve always admired their records but never been able to play them. Now I am, and that suggests there are some really interesting things happening. Somewhere like Rinse has come to stand for good quality dance music, whatever it is.” Growing up in a provincial town, though, the ‘good quality dance music’ initially proved elusive. “I knew very early on that I wanted to move to London at some point” said Avery. “Growing up where I did, I’d go to clubs with people I didn’t like and listen to music I didn’t like. I was uninformed about good dance music – I probably wouldn’t have even said I liked dance music when I was at home. It was only when I discovered people like Weatherall who just had a sideways look at things; you could hear the post-punk influences. It was an amazing revelation, I just wanted to immerse myself in it as much as I could. The first time you experience music in that way, you can’t ever really repeat it.” And if Bournemouth lacked a certain creative depth, Avery had a font of musical knowledge much closer to home. “Growing up, the house was never silent. My Dad was, and still is, a massive music fan. I always had music in my head. I remember listening to Mary Anne Hobbs’ Breezeblock show one night and the Chemical Brothers talking about Temptation by New Order. My Dad said ‘here’s every New Order album ever, help yourself ’. I just had this library at my fingertips, I owe a lot to his record collection.” And now – via the nuanced, sleek and disarmingly thunderous techno of Drone Logic – so do we. ---------Drone Logic is available now via Phantasy. Daniel Avery plays Field Day, London on June 7th
P H OTO Khri s Cow l ey
PAST PRESENT FUTURE CLASSICS & EXCLUSIVES TRIPLE CD / DOWNLOAD / 60 TRACKS OUT 30 /12 /13
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Deafheaven “ TAK I NG THE MAK I NG
OF AN D
REAL … ”
P H OTO H annah Godl ey
TUN E D ream H ouse
WORDS Thom as H o w e lls
Deafheaven are this year’s loudest quiet success story. Formed by George Clarke [vocals] and Kerry McCoy [guitars/bass] after decamping to San Francisco in 2009, the band signed to Jacob Bannon’s Deathwish Inc in 2010, before releasing their debut record, Roads to Judah, a year later. Merging extended passages of post-rock melodicism with straight-up blasting black metal, Roads… was immediately met with critical acclaim within and beyond the immediate extreme metal scene. That record, excellent as it was, gave little indication of the scope of its follow-up, this year’s Sunbather. Sunbather was – is – an amazing record, as quietly evocative as it is relentlessly crushing, and certainly one of the most comprehensively realised and refreshing full-lengths of recent years (bolstered in no small part by the drumming of semi-permanent new member Dan Tracy). Preceding its release, hearing the track Dream House for the first time was startling; a confluence of sonic tropes so well melded, so affecting for it, that it felt as exciting as the first time we heard Rites of Spring or, god forbid, Thursday as teenagers. It was black metal, of a definable sort, but at the same time a million miles from it: encompassing, iridescent and without sounding like any particular attention had been paid to the genre’s often rigid confines and stylistic singularities, discarding the ‘traditional’ BM aesthetics of wind-whipped natural expanses, the occult and esoteric cultural asceticism, for something immediate and real. These were creative sentiments reflected to a fuller extent within the album proper, as well as through its stark live iteration. Speaking to Crack before their second sold-out show at Dalston’s Birthdays in the space of two weeks, it quickly becomes clear how determinedly set apart from black metal’s central KVLT pathways McCoy and Clarke are, and just how driven by notions of an artistic and personal honesty over limiting and contrived insular self-definition their output is.
Sunbather is very different to your average black metal record, though it carries many of the recognisable tropes of the genre. The additional post-rock influences are obvious, but there’s a lot of European screamo in there too.
S IT E de afhe ave n . c o m
George Clarke: We both understood that we didn’t want to just make a traditional black metal record for any of our records. Our palette is too extensive to hold ourselves to one style, and I think the both of us would get bored if we did. But we don’t have a big philosophy behind the band or anything. We’re not trying to purposefully ruffle feathers or anything of that sort. We just like what we like. That’s where Roads to Judah came from, where Sunbather comes from and where we’ll continue to come from. Kerry has a term, ‘ADD Metal’, which totally makes sense because we’re always switching it up or wanting to do something different; no riffs repeat, things like that. Kerry McCoy: Borrowing from different genres and piecing it together as what works for a cohesive song. In Dream House there’s this kind of chaotic second or third riff, where I really remember telling Dan ‘You should do a Funeral Diner-type beat’ and he threw something like that in. There was a time in my youth where I loved Orchid, Funeral Diner and Yaphet Kotto, but I don’t really listen to it a lot now. I think it’s just a thing of borrowing elements from post-rock, shoegaze, black metal, screamo and even, on this record, a lot of pop and rock, like Cranberries and Foo Fighters.
What is it ‘about’, from a lyrical or narrative perspective? It feels more personal than Roads to Judah, which still had a slightly obtuse, mystical vibe at times. GC: Roads to Judah was very personal as well, but with Sunbather I wanted to make something that was completely self-reflective. Deafheaven’s never been anything other than a total personal product of our psyches. It has nothing to do with anything else other than the way the two of us feel. And lyrically, that’s what I went for. There’s multiple themes but they all have to do with my life and people in it. I always find it interesting when people connect with the lyrics, because it’s just for me. Musically, lyrically, the stage show … everything is very selfish and personal. Regarding the two instrumental tracks on the album: the first has a reading of a passage from Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and the second has field recordings of a drug deal and a preacher. What was the significance of these? What does that initial passage bring to the record? GC: The Kundera reading is a small passage that deals with that character’s extreme insecurity and his romantic faults. That’s a part of the record lyrically; themes that deal with romantic failures and your own personal reasons for that happening. You’re essentially at fault for these things, because you have deep-seated insecurities so you react with infidelity, say, or things like that; things that shadow the fact that you’re so insecure and narcissistic. Above all I just felt that it would add a really cool dynamic to the harshness of that instrumental. We asked our friend Stefan [aka Alcest’s Neige] to read it. KM: The idea behind the second track, as with the first, was trying to compare or juxtapose things. With this, it’s comparing a field recording I made of a drug deal happening with a field recording of a street preacher that I took in San Francisco behind this very woozy, reverse-sounding delay stuff. It’s the juxtaposition of two ideas of hell, two people caught in this inescapable version of personal hell. This guy has to sell this stuff on the street every day, and the street preacher is screaming about it to people. With this record, its lyrics, visual aesthetic and those transitional tracks, there’s far more of a sense of the urban – and particularly the suburban – than is common in black metal, a genre that’s often obsessed with natural or esoteric realms. Is Sunbather a ‘city’ record? GC: 100 per cent. I feel that you can’t talk about anything other than your surroundings. And when I talk about the suburban atmospheres, that’s because I moved away from the city for a while to clear my head, and I got this different perspective of life. But in the city you have your typical urban struggles. You live in a poor artist community, you’re a young adult figuring it out, the typical trials and tribulations of that lifestyle. That’s something I took from Bay Area bands before us. KM: Taking it out of the forest and making it real … showing that you can make this kind of music and not be some dude who lives in a cabin. It’s very relatable, emotional music. When you put it in the right context you can really express yourself, things that you’re going through and things that everyone is dealing with.
KM: Yeah of course. I just appreciate it when people, from the very outsider point of view, appear to be keeping it real. At least they’re being honest about it. I prefer that over a guy who lives in the suburbs in the Bay Area but who’s talking about runes and Pagan stuff. GC: It’s all about the appreciation of honesty. Certain bands pull it off excellently, and there’s a slew of others that just front. It’s astonishing how many people are just not honest and how many people are quick to ridicule those who are. That’s been one of our biggest things, and we’ve got a lot of flack for talking about the things we do and having the outlook that we have on certain issues. But all I’m doing is being honest. There’s no reason to talk about forests. I hate camping. What’s your take on the shadier corners of the genre, such as National Socialist Black Metal? KM: There’s a difference between merely accepting that these things exist and appreciating them for their intrinsic value even if you don’t agree with it. And there’s a difference between listening and actually supporting those bands, giving them your money, wearing their shirts. Hate Forest has cool riffs, but I don’t agree with anything they say. Not only do I not agree, I don’t understand or know what the dude is talking about when he talks about elder gods or the pure race. I just want to hear some hard vocals over some cool riffs. More and more is being written about black metal being appropriated as a “yuppie marketing tool”. You recently played the Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris, an objectively leftfield addition to that bill, and you’ve been covered by magazines like SPIN. How do you feel about BM being disseminated through these avenues? GC: Here’s the thing: the person that understands that the most is me. I know that sounds arrogant, but the person who is going to understand both sides of the coin is the person who is directly involved with those two sides. And I would say that it is weird. Us playing Pitchfork is weird. We are a sore thumb. But it’s not negative. KM: It boils down for me to two points. One, we’ve never sought any of these things out, we’ve literally only accepted opportunities that have come to us. I have always felt we have yet to make a choice that I disagree with. And second of all, anyone that thinks, ‘oh, they’re ruining my thing’: it was never yours in the first place. GC: And the people we respect the most have always shown us mutual respect. So I’ve never felt like we were doing anything wrong. We have Justin Broadrick [highly influential industrial artist behind Godflesh and Jesu] saying things like ‘I like your record, you guys are doing cool shit’. In the whole realm of music, there’s so many people who have opinions that have no idea about anything. On a few occasions we’ve been attacked for ‘gentrifying’ black metal or something. Gentrifying? I don’t think we’re a soft band by any means. We have pretty passages but we are a metal band. Pitchfork and all that? Yeah, it’s weird but I think it’s cool. It’s good that there’s diversity; why would you ever argue against diversity?
---------Do you appreciate these bands that fixate on disconnected themes?
Sunbather is out now via Deathwish
Branding for Calle Underground.
W ORD S L oui s L abron Johnson
as long -term admirers of their maverick design ethos , crack snapped up the offer of a guided tour around berlin' s studio hort
“Who the hell is Eike König?” That’s the question that splays itself in big brash letters across your browser when researching the brains behind Studio HORT, the small-scale graphic design studio with big name clients and an in-your-face, combative visual anti-formula. The question, posed by the man himself as the title of his design conferences, is typical HORT. Rowdy, catchy, uncompromising in its directness. ‘HORT’ translates roughly as ‘after-school playground’ or ‘crèche’, and this is exactly what it is: a playground for creatives. A studio where imagination is unfettered and nobody is telling you what the right way is because there is no right way. HORT is a thoroughly unconventional working environment that runs the gamut of projects; from independent label vinyl sleeve designs to visual campaigns for basketball merchandise to men’s fashion accessories for Playboy. The designers at HORT don’t have a signature aesthetic – you’re just as likely to see a smudgy hand-drawn illustration as a piece of clean type super-imposed over a photograph – they adhere more to a signature philosophy that revolves around individualism and making sure people can explore and have their voices heard. In fact, that’s just it: HORT is all about people.
There is a quiet, concerted buzz of industrious idea generation in the studio, the seven or so designers occasionally drifting away from their desks to share a joke or idea, or to kick a small foam football at each other. Eike, a bear of a man, comes barrelling into the foyer. Hands are energetically pumped; tea is proffered, then the interview begins. Getting Eike to talk is not an issue. He voices his opinion eloquently (in his second language) on any topic you might throw at him, but it’s hard to keep him pinned to his subject, as he tangentially lurches from opinion to anecdote to conspiratorial grin.
You studied at Darmstadt, but dropped out before graduating because you didn’t agree with the way things were taught. Do you regret going there?
Eike König grew up in a small village near Frankfurt, and in his early years seemed set to become a professional gymnast. But at 17 he gave up his intense physical regimen to pursue a more artistic career, enrolling in the prestigious Darmstadt school of graphic design. Two years later it was all over. Constrained by Darmstadt’s strict and traditional teaching methods, Eike had found work as a design intern at Logic Records, who recognised his talents, offering him a job as Creative Director. Eike took them up on the offer, and promptly dropped out of university.
I knew I wanted to study graphic design from quite early on, but I actually didn’t think at the time about whether that particular course was relevant to me. It was more a case of: Darmstadt was close to my hometown, and the course was well known, having come directly from the school of Ulm – from Bauhaus influences. Looking back I can see that it taught the foundations of design well, you learnt about colour, about type, about composition. But I had this idea that university was a place of revolution! A melting pot where our young brains would forge the future!
After a year, Eike’s reputation as a fearless designer was growing, leading to him being offered freelance work outside of Logic. It was then that he decided to start his own company, in order to be free to take on the jobs that he wanted and to be able to execute them in his own inimitable fashion.
And it wasn’t.
Fast-forward two decades and HORT has worked with a host of major international clients including Disney, Universal Music, IBM, Volkswagen, The New York Times and Nike, a relationship which has prospered over several years. Eike also teaches design at the HfG University of the Arts in Offenbach, and divides his time between his pupils, his studio and the international workshops and lectures he conducts. The studio is located in an old tobacco factory in West Kreuzberg. The
© Bene Brandhofer
‘haus’ still uses coal for heating; its smokey aroma – evocative of bygone industrial eras – seeps through the walls of the spacious, well-appointed workplace. HORT HQ is entirely open-plan – Eike feels dividing walls would be anathema to the idea that everybody is open and approachable at any time.
No. I understood that it was important to know the past, but also to question it. What happened in the early days of graphic design, it was fantastic, but society changes, technology changes, and the way we communicate changes, so we as designers cannot remain static. At Darmstadt it was all about just repeating things that had been done in the past, and I don’t think that really helps us. Now you yourself are a professor, are you markedly trying to use a different approach to teaching than the one you received? Yeah. That’s not to say I neglect the past, as we didn’t arrive here in the Year Zero. You have to know history to be inspired by the successes, and
Art direction for Marc Romboy & Ken Ishii's collaborative project
to avoid making the same mistakes. But I don’t want to tell my students what is right or wrong. I let them know what is right for me, but that is not necessarily going to be right for them, you know? They should know the past, but they shouldn’t follow it. And they shouldn’t follow me, either.
Ki l l
yo u r
id o l s ”
dream! At that time Frankfurt was a serious player in the techno scene. It was a whole different sound to Berlin techno; it had disco and Belgian new beat influences. It was still a small scene, and working for Logic meant I got to get to know all of the artists and producers pretty quickly. So what went wrong?
That’s interesting, because particularly here in Germany, a lot of courses and studios have a kind of apprenticeship approach, where the tutor teaches you to create in their style, kind of like an artist or craftsman would in the past.
Nothing went wrong, it was an amazing place to be, but some of the artists saw the work I was doing and they wanted me to do their record sleeves too, outside of Logic, so I was forced into a decision. I don’t think I was really cut out for being an employee anyhow, so I quit my job and started to work for the bands that I liked, enjoying the creative freedom that came with being freelance.
Yes, a lot of classes are based around understanding the ‘master’, but it can come at a cost of understanding yourself. I think nowadays it’s important to show students the possibilities for discovering their own path. I think my task as a teacher is wider than showing them how to draw or design. I want them to be great designers, but I also want them to be great people, to have an understanding of their responsibilities as a creative. That’s why I do design and cooking courses, where the students have to design a dinner party. When you cook, you’re cooking for someone else. And it’s the same with design. You do it for someone else.
It can be tough making the transition … Yeah, I think I was lucky in some ways. As I said before, I had some great contacts from Logic, and it was the 80s, the golden age of the music industry, you know? Labels actually had money back then. And I didn’t have to do much promotional work because a record sleeve is basically like a business card. A big, square business card. People see it and then … it was just running by itself, really.
While studying, you started working at Logic Records, eventually becoming Art Director at the expense of your studies. How was that? You left after only a year, right?
Why did you make the decision to move HORT from Frankfurt to Berlin?
Oh man, having the opportunity to design record sleeves was like a
It was only quite recently that we did that. In 2007 I think. I was working
c o m m u n i c at e designers
t e c h n o lo gy
ca n n ot
w ay so
s tat i c ”
alone in Frankfurt for the first few years, then I took on my first designer. Two years later we got a big job from America, so then suddenly there were four of us, plus the occasional intern. I realised that nobody apart from me was from Frankfurt, they were all quite international, and so I asked the guys where they would like to live and work. So, my designers talked about it and they chose Berlin. All the young designers want to live in Berlin. Identity for Copenhagen music festival STRØM.
The projects you are doing are so varied: illustration, type, photography, 3D sculpture. Do different members of your team have their specialities, or does everybody learn everything? Well the idea of working with people came out of my own limitations. I can do a lot, but not everything, so I wanted to work alongside people who were better than me, to be constantly learning from them. Yes, people who start to work here are usually good at one thing in the beginning, but we share everything. Photographers are becoming quite adept at illustration, and vice versa. It’s the same with my internship program. We take on two at a time, one is more skilled, and one is more conceptual. They work together constantly, and over the months they each learn a lot from one another. You all work on the projects together then? To an extent. There will of course be several projects on the go at any one time, so some designers are focused on different things, but there is no authorship at HORT. Everything anyone does is with skills that we have all shared with one another. If one person designs a poster, everybody else has too, in a way, even if they never worked on it. Your work with Nike has been some of your most high-profile output, and you've been collaborating for a while. Was that a turning point for HORT? In the beginning I thought that I could design record sleeves forever. It’s a fantastic visual playground, culturally relevant, embedded in society, all these things. But then the music industry died, and I realised ‘Wow, stop living in a fantasy world’. Life is not like this. Even if I’m a very romantic person … … You have to be pragmatic. Exactly. The problem was initially that because we were only doing record sleeves this meant that clients would never hire us for anything else. They put us in this little box and couldn’t see our ideas past the record sleeve format. It took some big international clients to see the bigger picture. ESPN, they hired us to design material for an extreme sports programme, based on a record sleeve they had seen in a book. I was astonished. And then Nike did the same. They scouted us to design a shoebox for their basketball trainers that LeBron James wore. And we thought, why design a shoebox? Why not design a system that allows them to design everything? That was a pretty big risk on their part, letting you run with that? Yes, there was a huge amount of trust on their part. We never met them, we were a small company, and we’d never done work of that ilk or scale before. They could have done it themselves, in-house; lots of companies do it that way. It’s easier to see what style is in vogue at the moment and have your designers copy that. Instead they gave us almost total freedom to re-imagine the image of the brand. Now we’ve been working with Nike for six or seven years.
Identity for Bookashade
Ongoing work for Nike
c r e at i v i t y, y o u c a n g o d o w n o n e pat h f o r m o n t h s a n d t h e n someone asks one question and
eve ryth i ng
c h a n g e s .”
What’s your approach with these projects? Well I don’t see it as us working on individual projects; I see it as us working on relationships. We really get to know the people we are working with, even if we never meet them. And that is much more useful than a short-term approach to a single project. For instance we had a very good relationship with the creative director of Nike, then he left and became creative director of Microsoft. The consequence? We get a commission for the Xbox. Is the design process you have quite structured, quite rigorous? I’d say it’s very open. We want people to make mistakes. There is no formula in creativity, you can go down one path for months and then someone asks one question and everything changes. It’s a very organic process; you don’t want to focus on a solution too early. Who are your main design influences? In my university Otl Aicher was considered so important. His work on the Olympic Stadium … everybody revered him. He was a hero. And I don’t like heroes. Kill your idols. Not in a negative way, but I think you should be your own hero. I liked David Carson, though. He was a punk. He designed the surfing magazine Ray Gun, and he was like a scientist in the way he approached it. He would change things, change the way you read. He didn’t accept that the magazine was a finished format; he wanted to improve, improve, improve. Tell us about the HORT band. What is it?
Ongoing work for Nike
I always wanted to be in a band, but I can’t sing and I don’t play an instrument. The band is a real playground though. We started it as a little project just to invent the concept of a band, to design a band with three characters, each with a story, based on the mythology of Northern Ireland. We then put on events, but we only play each event once, and no-one knows what kind of music they are going to hear. So it’s more of an experience, than a concert? It’s a performance. We design the sets, the programme, we make electronic visuals that are displayed above the musicians. Last time we had a jazz trio from Switzerland. Our interns curated the whole thing. Can we see it? Not online. Only if you come to the concert. It’s a one-time experience. What are your plans for the future? I try not to look too far into the future. We are living in the moment. What are your plans for the future?
I M A GE S Copy ri g ht H ort
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WORDS Josh Bai ne s
S I TE max ri cht ermusi c.com
T he terrifyingly talented godfather of B oomkat C lassical steels himself for the re - realisation of his finest work to daten
Not to denigrate any of us, but what did you do in 2013? Move from a flat you can’t really afford in one part of a city you don’t like to another flat you definitely can’t afford in another part of a city you don’t like because it’s got a cool bar and a pool hall? Swapped one unsatisfying admin assistant job for another unsatisfying admin assistant job? Watched another year idly drift by as your hopes and dreams wound round another meandering bend into a reservoir of disappointment and bitterness? Ah well, we’re all in the same boat right? Wrong. There are people out there, people like Berlin-based composer and all round polymath Max Richter, who can answer that question in the following way: “I’ve been writing lots of music: I did a new score for an Ari Folman film – The Congress – and another one for a Saudi film, Wadjda, which was the first ever movie by a Saudi director, and I’ve been working on a record, and I’ve done a ballet ... all kinds of things really.” It’d be easy to feel a sense of begrudgement towards someone like Richter if they weren’t so affable, entertaining and, most importantly, supremely talented. Richter’s plangent, melancholic, heartbreaking works of contemporary classical – rain-lashed blends of blue note piano sonata, austerely autumnal strings and undercurrents of electronic manipulations – first came to public attention on 2002’s unspeakably sad Memoryhouse, which receives a high-profile reissue alongside a debut live performance at the Barbican early next year. He followed that up with the likes of The Blue Notebooks, which found him pairing his compositions with Tilda Swinton’s readings of Kafka, the sketchy – and we use the word with no sense of snark – ringtone-friendly explorations of time and memory found on 24 Postcards in Full Colour, and an installment of the legendary Deutsch Grammophon label’s Recomposed series, in which Richter went toe-to-toe with the master of the seasons, Vivaldi. The notion of collaborative communication has always been an essential part of Richter’s working practices, to the point where he can discuss projects like Random International’s hugely successful Rain Room installation in revealingly casual terms; for him, this kind of close collaboration is in essence, “just a conversation really. It’s just like having a chat with someone, except that instead of using words, you’re sending bits-and-bobs of material. It’s fairly organic.” He sticks with the conversational schema, noting that, “even with new people, it’s just a way of finding your place in the conversation. You’re trying to build something by talking about it and the things you’re using to talk about it are bits of music.” At this juncture, it makes sense to reiterate that the conversations we have are a little different to the ones Richter’s having. It’s not every day Crack fields calls from Martin Scorsese’s people. It’s easy to see why filmmakers clamour to work alongside Richter – his elegant arrangements
have the unmistakable air of the filmic about them. But how does he pick who he works with? “They’ll send me the script and if I love the story we get talking” he explains. “Obviously if you know the director’s work then that’s great because you get a sense of whether or not you’ll get on with them. But even with younger directors, it’s all about establishing a relationship with someone where you think you’ll be able to work well together.” And what about the call from Scorsese? “Well, that was a bit of a different one,” he concedes, “in that they had a piece of music in mind off The Blue Notebooks and they wanted to extend it. It’s kind of a mash-up with the Dinah Washington song for the end titles, so that was all them really. But I did have a moment where I got an e-mail saying, ‘Oh, Robbie Robertson has done this with your track, do you want to hear it?’ And I was like, “Yeah, I do want to hear it!” That was an amazing moment. On one level, when that kind of thing happens, your life is complete.” Thus far, our conversation had tacitly avoided engagement with the conservatoire sized elephant in the room: classical music. Richter isn’t hesitant to use the term, even if he refers back to a period when he semijokingly described his own music as ‘post-classical’. “There’s a grain of truth to it” he says. “It’s written down on paper, it’s about the notes, it uses acoustic/orchestral instruments; but it’s also produced, it’s made in the studio, it’s got electronics, it’s arranged maybe on a computer or with synthesisers: it stands in two worlds.” But the fact of the matter is, ‘classical’ as an idea, as an ideology is intimidating, distant, conservative and, potentially, constricting. Richter is in a privileged position wherein the happy marriage of his music and visual mediums allows for a cross-market penetration, and also allows him to critique the mystique surrounding classical. Where do the uninitiated begin? Is it OK to slip on Classic FM during a hungover wallow in the bath on a Sunday afternoon? “Sure ... they play mostly, bitesize chunks of pieces, which is great. I think the thing about classical music is that it’s not really about the sounds, it’s more about the forbidding culture that surrounds it. It’s like a museum with a barbed wire fence around it! In a way, that’s a social and economic construct which is weighed down by historical baggage.” He nonetheless implored those who prefer Brackles to Brahms, Rustie to Rachmaninov, to remember that, “the whole thing is about just using your ears and not worrying too much about the labels.” With artists like Max Richter around, hopefully that idea is a little more achievable.
---------Memoryhouse is re-released on January 27th 2014 via Fat Cat, and will be performed at the Barbican Hall by the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Max Richter on January 24th
THE CRIBS PAYOLA
FRANKIE AND THE HEARTSTRINGS THe DAYS Run AWAY
SEASON’S GREETINGS SPECTRALS SOB STORY
WAxAHATCHEE AMeRICAn WeeKenD
WAxAHATCHEE CeRuLeAn SALT
SKy LARKIN MOTTO
SWEARIN’ SuRFIng STRAnge
W I C H I TA R E CO R D I N G S PEGGy SuE CHOIR OF eCHOeS 27-01-14
CHEATAHS CHeATAHS 10-02-14
ALL ALBuMS AvAILABLe On LP (WITH DL OR CD), CD AnD DIgITAL DOWnLOAD. W W W.W I C H I T A - R e C O R D I n g S . C O M
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks Indie rock’ s ageless slacker icon has got a brand new record and some slang to spread
WORDS Bi l l y Bl ack
Courtney Love once called Stephen Malkmus the “Grace Kelly of indie rock”. Sure, Malkmus will probably admit he’s has had his fair share of diva moments, but then again the man can also lay claim to some of the most seminal indie anthems of the last 20 years. Pavement’s name will always be listed amongst the 1990s’ most credible and celebrated indie rock bands. Somehow though, as with so many bands favoured by critics and peers, they never really had massive hits. In fact, Pavement’s two best selling singles – Gold Soundz and Cut Your Hair – were buried from the mainstream beneath a slew of mostly malignant manufactured pop music. Pavement parted ways in 1999 after frictions within the band saw Malkmus retreat into an uncooperative, frustrated state, seemingly with a complete disinterest in the continuation of the band. After releasing Terror Twilight, Pavement’s final album, Malkmus began playing solo shows and recruited a band called The Jicks, going on to accomplish the near unachievable task of proving worth beyond his former glory – despite dipping back into the world of Pavement for a brief, unlikely 2010 reunion. Since then The Jicks have released some truly outstanding records, so when we heard the news of a new one, Wig Out at Jagbags, and a forthcoming UK tour, we couldn’t resist interrupting Stephen’s lie-in in Portland, Oregon for an extremely accommodating chat about jagbags, Hull City F.C and ... oh yeah, Travis.
Lyrics have always played a major role in your music, perhaps even more so with the Jicks. What was the idea behind the Lariat video [which features a young French lady roughly translating along to the song]? We just wanted to turn the idea of the lyric video on its head, just make something a little bit different. Everyone likes a cute French girl. They just asked me to send the lyrics and then she translated them … sort of. We really liked the loose translation. It’s fine. I’m loose, so… Why did you choose to do it in French? As far as 99% of the world is probably concerned, that’s what my lyrics sound like in a different language. It’s just like if I listen to some hip-hop, I’m like ‘what are they on about?’. It’s almost as if they’re speaking to a different tribe or something. In a way your lyrics are like that too, your rhymes are more like a cryptic hipster language … I like the idea that when rappers go in they just step up to the mic and kinda go off the top of their head a little, not well prepared. They don’t sit in the library all day thinking about the rap. They’re living their life,
T UN E L ari at
they’re going out and doing glamourous hip-hop things and coming into the studio and laying down amazing lyrics, so you know, that kinda offthe-cuff the feel. In [Lariat] there are couple of parts that are definitely free-rhyming. On your last record Mirror Traffic there were a couple of songs, like Senator, that took a slightly more political slant. There were a couple tunes on there… I mean, even Senator’s kind of a lark. I came up with that first line “What the senator wants is a blow job” first and then built the song round it. I wasn’t trying to make a comment about political motives or anything. This record I think has more memorable one-liners than the last record. The track Rumble at The Rainbo has a sample at the beginning, what is that? It’s a band called Erazerhead, a kind of British Ramones-y sounding crusty punk band. It was kind of funny cause the song is about punk band reunions, about hardcore punk rockers getting older. It was just lucky that on the Erazerhead live album they had “This is for you Grandad!”, which then goes into this maelstrom of hardcore. So, is The Rainbo a real place? In Chicago it’s an indie rock bar that like, the guys on tour would hang out at. In the 90s it was this kind of scene bar, it would be like ‘we’ll go the Rainbo for one last beer and Johnny Machine from Tortoise will be there’, or something. So Rumble at the Rainbo … I was trying for this kind of 50s thing, like we’d all meet with our switchblades and have it out.
© Leah Nash
The album’s named Wig Out At Jagbags. Isn’t ‘jagbag’ Chicago slang? Imagine you’re like, a Hull City Football Fan and you’re writing on the message board like “that jagbag was just talking trash…” or “We should replace the manager, he’s just a jagbag”. It’s kind of a thing you would use to call somebody, ‘a light hearted idiot’ or something. I think of it as a Midwestern term. Really, I just like the term, how our language digresses. It’s like a jack-off or a jerk or a windbag, and then someone finally said ‘jagbag’. I’m hoping more people will call people jagbags. Is the name a direct reference to the Dag Nasty record Wig Out at Denko’s?
So, if you’re not listening to first wave emo, what music did influence the record? Every song is a loving tribute to every song that has blown me away over the last 40 years. While we lived in Berlin I didn’t have my records, so that probably contributed to a sort of prism of memory. That’s a bad answer isn’t it? [laughs] Unfortunately I listen to a lot of pop radio. So I listen to Eminem, I don’t know what it’s called. It’s got Rihanna on it, like [singing] “I’ve got a monster inside of my head. Wah-oh. Wah-oh.” That’s one I hear a lot. Do you have any long-term plans, maybe moving back to Berlin?
Well, Dag Nasty – that’s a name in itself – they were a first generation emo band. I always thought that title Wig Out at Denko’s was pretty hilarious, and in one of my spaced out times I sort of laid out Wig Out at Jagbags as a title. Dag Nasty are not close to my heart, I don’t like them or dislike them. I hope to hear from them, hopefully not in a bad way. They might be tough, I’m not much of a boxer. But they’re probably doctors and lawyers, they’re from D.C y’know, from these middle class homes. [laughs] www.crackmagazine.net
Well, we’re back in Portland now, but if we did move there it would be like a full-time commitment. We’re American, so we’d have to buy a house. Germans don’t necessarily care if they rent. You can live pretty well there, it’s cheap, it’s like the place to be. I know London is outrageous but I’m guessing the rent is pretty high in the rest of the country too. I don’t know where you live?
“ I m a g i n e y o u ’ r e l i k e , a H u l l Ci t y F o o t b a l l Fa n
yo u ’ r e li ke
manag e r, more
We're based in Bristol. I like Bristol! Bristol’s cool, there’s that girl Anika. She lives in Berlin and she’s from Bristol. She worked with the guy from Portishead anyway. I like Portishead and BEAK>. I never really got Massive Attack, British people love Massive Attack … I’m not saying it’s bad or anything, but it’s just not for me. You mentioned Hull earlier – you’ll be pleased to know that Hull has been made capital of culture for 2017!
s hou ld
just wi ll
you say? It’s never dull in Hull. Or who knows, maybe it is? It doesn’t have the best reputation but the football team’s pretty good now, they’re in the top league. Do you think you’d ever leave Portland for Hull? I would go to mainland Europe more likely … I would visit though. What’s the massive band from Hull? North something … Your mom would like them …
Yeah! Well my friend works for them, they’re really nice, they do friendly things for their crew. Like give the whole crew an E before the show. Really generous stuff. Keep the office rocking!
m e ssag e
r e place
j a g b a g .”
Oh! The Beautiful South? Wow! I’m glad to hear it. I hope it wasn’t just a gift, y’know, I hope they really earned it [laughs]. Philip Larkin was from there, and Loz from [90s indie band] Kingmaker, so that’s enough.
jag bag s”
have lots of the mega ones like Berghain, but it’s all on the downlow, it’s just Berlin-style, no velvet ropes. It’s just beer and good soundsystems and probably drugs. Electronic music is massive there, the guitar’s not so big. But there’s so many ex-pats there, I’m sure if like Travis were to play in Berlin it would be half British people there. Umm… Travis? The singer Fran, he helped me out, I sang the vocals at his house ‘cause he lives in Berlin, like right by where I lived. He’s from Scotland and he’s this super awesome guy. He’s like “just come over and do it at my house”. I’ll never have anything bad to say about Travis!
Have you ever been to Hull? Speaking of E … How was the Berlin club culture? I’ve been there like five times, I should have been more, I feel like we’ve played there a few times and I’ve hung out with friends there. What can
Wig Out at Jagbags is released on January 6th via Domino I went out a few times, not as much as I could have but it was fun. They www.crackmagazine.net
Sapphire Slows WO R D S A n n a Te h ab s i m
PH O TO S at s u k i K aw ag u c h i
G I RL
L I V I NG
THAT ’ S
BUT SO WHAT ? THAT SUCKS I F I HAVE TO BE ONE OF THOSE KAWA I I G I RLS ”
While weighing in 2013’s overwhelming onset of notable releases, as the quality of the relentless end-of-year-list season swelled in every field, Allegoria was one of those unexpected gems that winked curiously back at us. The debut full length by Tokyo’s Sapphire Slows (real name Kinoku Hiramatsu) manifested itself as an unanticipated quirk in our retrospective round-up. Hiramatsu’s intimate-sounding, semi-danceable tracks found a home on LA label Not Not Fun, an event the producer describes as “too fantastic” when we’re transported, via a series of excitable e-mails in her second language, to the Tokyo bedroom which has become synonymous with her output. “I’ve been a big fan of their releases since I started collecting underground music vinyl in 2008/2009” she says, “so I sent my first few demos to them in 2011, when I had just started making music. Just two days after I got their reply saying let’s release my songs on NNF!!!!!”. It’s easy to see why Amanda Brown, the co-owner of the psych/noise/drone imprint was drawn to Hiramatsu, as her giddy, drifting sound and pulsating rhythms are comparable to some of Brown’s more beat-orientated experiments with her LA Vampires project.
first heard [Numb] I felt the same thing … though I’d already made Corekill then. Numb is an absolutely stunning song, isn’t it?” The track, finding its skeletal structure through an iPhone production app, also highlights a particular insouciance to her production technique, “The song is my favorite too. Actually it is the oldest song in my album. When I made it about 2 years ago I wanted to try a TB-303 sound but I didn’t have one so I tried to make the bass with an iPhone app called DB-303. The bass sound was lo-fi and not even stereo but I thought the song could be cool with it, so I added some other stuff and made it into Corekill.” Created in isolation in her flat in Tokyo, Slows’ production incubates that sense of innocence and longing often prescribed to a certain ilk of bedroom producers. “I’m living in a small apartment in Tokyo by myself, so the process of making music in my bedroom is super private.” Far removed from the chaos of the city around her, this insular mood is hushed through her dusky, atmospheric “whispers”, a vocal style she tells us stemmed from her hesitancy to disturb the neighbours.
Allegoria takes a darker turn from Hiramatsu’s previous releases, such as the piano house collaboration with Magic Touch on Not Not Fun offshoot 100% Silk, yet still carves its niche in her distinct, reverb-drenched vocals. As they float around dotted piano stabs and synth bursts, Hiramatsu edits her murmurs like any other sound material, as “just sound can express enough what I couldn’t do verbally in the first place.” Mostly unintelligible, it lingers and weaves through woozy production for multiple layers of expression; “I always sing obscurely in English. Basically the words came from something like memories or emotions in my mind but I try to make it in some way abstract. Lyrics are important to know or guess what I feel, but I don’t care if people never know.”
Often associated with an emerging pool of Tokyo bedroom producers, Slows is quietly confident about the small collective she belongs to. “I have some close friends who produce music but the community is still very small and hidden.” However, struggling to be separated from a pigeonholed outlook on her city’s musical heritage, Hiramatsu has been known to express her complaints at reductive and lazy ‘J-pop’ (typically day-glo, largerthan-life Japanese pop) comparisons. “Yeah, many genre categories by the music industry are just lazy. I know they have to explain music to sell it so it could be a good thing. But at the same time, I’m a young Japanese girl living in Tokyo – that’s totally true, but so what? That sucks if I have to be one of those Kawaii girls.” While Slows’ production continues to lift itself from an emerging pool of localised producers, we’re convinced it’ll continue to intrigue and mystify long after 2013’s end.
Paradoxically, the record feels both distant and intimate. Dreamy vocal smogs are smothered over submerged, aquatic bass lines; Break Control is earthy and rippling while the title track’s gnawing, itchy techno rhythms build around a disjointed piano line. The album’s standout track, Corekill, layers hauntingly ethereal vocals over pulsating bass that bears a likeness to Andy Stott’s gloriously murky Numb. What does she think of the comparison? “When I
---------Allegoria is available now via Not Not Fun
Ewen Spencer - UKG
Colourway - Clark Shirt
Goods X Marwood - Dip Dye Socks
Ewen Spencer has spent years photographing UK subcultures. His latest book of photography UKG, is stuffed full of stunning snaps of the UK garage scene in its 90s heyday. It's presented in a bespoke, hardback book, and as well as Spencer's photographs it contains miniature reproductions of flyers for some classic nights. A welcome addition to any coffee table for garage fans and photography lovers alike UKG is a warm, loving retrospective of an oft-overlooked subculture.
One of our favourite new brands of 2013 move seamlessly into the world of cut and sew with this clean shirt from their winter collection 'Clear North'. Constructed of 10oz Italian denim and made in England, this clean and considered piece should prove to be a staple item through the colder months and beyond.
These unique, Good Hood x Marwood socks are made entirely from super soft mohair, and hand dip dyed for a white/grey palette. If you're worried about the £40 price tag, just think how good your pins will look in these two-tone wonders. goodhoodstore.com
Gourment LX35 X Anon – 35 Stingray
MasterSounds - Turntable Weight X1
Nike - Air Jordan 11 'Gamma Blue'
A Number Of Names and Gourmet have collaborated on these monochrome ‘stingray’ sneakers. The intricate design in the reflective detailing nestled throughout is inspired by the shark-related family of fish and the careful design makes them some of the most featherweight sneakers around.
With fully functioning turntables unfortunately becoming a rare treat these days, DJs looking to play vinyl need all the help they can get. These beautiful turntable weights from MasterSounds, a new operation run by a former employee of much-loved London record emporium Phonica, look set to become a staple piece of equipment for anyone serious about the quality of the sounds they listen to. Reducing feedback and needle skip while improving the frequency response of the music, MasterSounds manage to kill a number of birds with one satisfyingly weighty stone.
A new pair of Jordans never fails to cause mass clamour when announced, and these are no different. The first ever Jordan 11 to sport a non-white midsole, the blacked-out vibe is contrasted by teal Jumpman logos and an ice blue outsole. This is all wrapped around the still-revolutionary carbon fibre spring plate for a poseto-performance ratio that's hard to top.
G abriel Szatan heads solo to the final U K ATP
W eekender, and considers the history and fate of
All Tomorrow's Parties an alternative music institution
What drives someone to take an 11th hour call-up and embark upon a Hajj, totally alone, to a children’s holiday camp along with hoards of devout underground fanatics and ironically bearded, bespectacled men in cardigans in order to indulge in borrowed nostalgia for a location and tradition they had no active engagement with in the first place? Top drawer live music? Sure, but I tend to see a lot of that anyway. Festival vybez? Well yes, although given the odds are stacked heavily in favour of the kind of biting climes that result in diamond-cutter nipples, it’s a far cry from sinking Tuborg under sunny skies while trying your utmost to ignore Haim. There is Tetley’s on tap though. How about community? Let’s go with that. The kind of community who scream “I MISS YOU” back at Slint through choked tears. Frankly, I’m one of them. Except without the beard, or the paunch (yet); but already, I digress. All Tomorrow’s Parties represents a significant cornerstone of the past four-odd years of my life. While I obviously can’t lay claim to having grown up with the festival given that the forerunning Bowlie Weekender – helmed by Belle & Sebastian, hence the much-heralded idea of artist curation – took place when I was eight, the broadening of my musical horizons dovetail neatly since the turn of the decade. I caught Public Enemy performing It Takes A Nation Of Millions… at ATP’s flagship Don’t Look Back series in 2008, however it wasn’t until the following year I had the opportunity to attend one of the festivals proper. I wound up schlepping to Minehead on five separate weekends over a run of 27 months (four ATPs and the last Bloc before its implosion), which wasn’t too shabby. Truthfully, I could spin an entire article out of doughy sentimentality alone: completing a miraculous five-point air hockey comeback while Lightning Bolt brutalised in the background on my first ever night at Butlins, before debating fantasy rosters with friends on the coach back (reforming ¡Forward, Russia! was a primary concern; very wise); watching a Jarvis Cocker doppleganger crowdsurf during a 4am chalet party after I whacked on Careless Whisper (wise); our seven-strong group
all revising in the back of Oneohtrix Point Never for exams the following week (unwise); unerringly ceding to a Pizza Hut buffet in a hungover state before remembering the regret that would inevitably follow (super fucking unwise). Equally, I’ve been fortunate enough to catch some extraordinary, extraordinarily rare shows, too: a Boredoms ensemble with nine guitarists and sixteen drummers; Jeff Mangum’s first babysteps into the light once more; Big Boi on a post-Sir Luscious hype, bounding through Outkast classics; My Bloody Valentine’s eviscerating sheets of Holocausticity … you get the picture. It’s difficult to divorce personal experience and maintain total objectivity when delving into the backstory of All Tomorrow’s Parties. Speaking to a clutch of artists who've been instrumental in ATP’s development over the years, they all share an unusual eagerness to spill out one-off tales picked up along the way. Lee Ranaldo, whose Sonic Youth curated the inaugural American experiment in 2002 and tore through Daydream Nation in full multiple times in 2007 to cement Don’t Look Back as a commercial proposition, recalls a “totally off the hook” 2am rager in Mudhoney’s chalet that was so packed it caused “the deck outside to collapse” as “one of the best ever”; only rivalled, apparently, by Cat Power cooking for a “crowd of revellers” in the middle of the night. Mike Watt, who managed to perform eight times in total – including showcasing two self-penned operas and multiple times with George Hurley as a Minuteman – chalks up a tie between ducking out of a Red Hot Chili Peppers support date to play alongside J Mascis in a set that allegedly convinced the Ashton brothers to reform The Stooges, and seeing the reformed Godspeed You! Black Emperor “fucking hammered”. On the flipside, Benjamin Power of Fuck Buttons, who have released all three records to date with ATP Recordings, offers up his housemate “knocking a seagull off the roof of a chalet with a baguette at 5am. Not that I condone that kind of behaviour but man ... what a shot.” That communality is a key facet of what made ATP feel so vital, even a decade after its inception. It wasn’t just music presented on a distant www.crackmagazine.net
platter to assorted strangers, with a clear division established between punter and performer. A far cry from “gigantic others ... where the performers are ‘backstage’ and the audience is not”, Ranaldo draws a line between “the intimate size it tried to maintain as well as the onsite housing which allowed the audience and the performers to mingle in a very interesting way”; or, as Watt puts it, a reminder “of the old days, that kind of ethic – but with air hockey”. It went beyond merely likeminded people in a conducive environment, falling closer to the kind of open-armed camaraderie that is increasingly rare nowadays: “a truly special and unique experience”, says Power. All of which should hopefully explain, in an exceptionally long-winded manner, why I decided to head solo to Camber Sands for the last hurrah of its flagship festival wing. It was immediately evident that I wasn’t the only one making the considerable investment to see it off, either. ATP-goers can be feasibly pegged as a homogenous lot, an inherently cynical tribe by nature, but goodhearted and appreciative too; the kind who will have pints clasped between their teeth primed for deafening applause well before any feedback-drenched coda. Here for the second, and final, End of an Era weekender, the crowd was more varied: from Amy, a chipper blonde 40-something on holiday from LA who spent a large proportion of the journey down proclaiming her love for Ontarian pummelers METZ, through to the two guys in front of me at check-in leafing through Venetian boarding passes to find their e-mail confirmation. Given the run of play upon Friday arrival had traditionally been some variation of: collapse in a heap / drink VKs / watch whatever was on ATP’s specially curated TV channels, it was a novel twist to actually see whoever was up first. Within the first two hours of programming I’d taken in Gaelic folk tales via Les Collettes, New War’s sleazeball shimmy and the decaying post-rock breakdowns meted out by Thought Forms, none of whom I’d seen before. A recurring criticism levelled at ATP in recent years was their unadventurous booking policy (more on that later), with one record label likening it to ‘guessing the cover of Mojo’, and while there were groans of derision when Shellac were unveiled as 2012’s Nightmare Before Christmas curator (for a third time), it was impossible to have all bases covered. The joy lay in unearthing treasures.
Loop, who had lost not an iota of their mind-warping sear in the flesh, could well be the smallest ‘headliner’ any ATP weekender has ever rested upon, but the undercard was stacked. Generally speaking, tickets both home and abroad were traditionally sold on weighty reformations and the classic album trick: Godspeed, Pavement; The Feelies doing Crazy Rhythms, The Stooges doing Fun House, GZA doing Liquid Swords. But the sequencing doesn’t necessarily reflect that, instead attempting to construct a flowing narrative within the day. The lustrous, oceansshimmering pulse of Michael Rother digging into his krauty catalogue at 2pm made perfect sense as a way to easy into Sunday’s celebrations, for example. True to form, though, ATP gave the grumblers something to grumble about. The schedule for the first weekend was hugely frontloaded, leaving a largely barren Sunday padded out by unfamiliar Spanish bands picked by cohorts Primavera, as well as a smattering of experimental acts. I mean, given his socket-rupturing intensity, perhaps you could see The Haxan Cloak as a fitting end of the world send-off – at a tilt – but it was met by exasperation from the faithful. Relations between the old heads and the oldest head have been strained for some time. Barry Hogan, who has manned operations from the off, and now runs the company with his wife Deborah Higgins, has assumed position as the de facto lightning rod for any criticism coming ATP’s way over the past 14 years. The backlash from some quarters (read: the internet) and alleged treachery from others was tackled by Hogan with surprising candour in End of an Era Part 1’s official souvenir booklet. Hogan used his soapbox to espouse the Drake school of thought, firing shots at all the motherfuckers who never loved him; or, in his actual words, “people we thought were peers and friends but who turned out to be a big cup of dickmilk and ultimately were the victims of their own doing and went out of business.” Ouch. The couple’s resolute approach to business hasn’t harmed standings with artists, mind. Power offers forth effusive praise, hailing them as “true visionaries” with “incredible ideas”. Watt’s sees his hard-earned perspective on the mechanisms of the industry – ground into him in the 80s when “nobody gave a shit about any of this” – mirrored in Hogan’s ethics, flatly stating “if you want big numbers and stuff, you need to go for the lowest common denominator. Barry never did that.” The greatest chord appears to have been struck with the notoriously cantankerous Albini, who was quoted in the second booklet’s liner notes as saying that ATP had “single-handedly changed the festival game”. However once the confidence began to recede amongst those willing to part with cash, it was a slippery slope.
End of an Era
When the big hitters did arrive on Friday night, they came thick and fast in noisy waves. The aforementioned Shellac were resplendent in matching tuxedo t-shirts, either complying with or poking fun at the suggested Sunday night dress code, tearing through their metallic clatter with gusto. That the Albini-speared trio have racked up a grand total of nine holiday camp appearances – not to mention appearing on ATP’s stage at the last six Primavera festivals consecutively – they could have been excused for phoning it in. Thankfully they didn’t, and given the blackhearted Prayer To God’s status as an ATP anthem – I’ve borne witness to a packed throng down the Queen Vic on site in Minehead howling along to its bitter refrain at closing time – a particularly meaty rendition laid waste to the crowd. Slint were equally effective: they played all of Spiderland and half of Tweez, so two thumbs up. One of the lauded abilities of All Tomorrow’s Parties has always been their ability to not only deconstruct the battle lines between artist and fan, but also eradicate the preconceived notion of band status. Cult sludgazers
While the regulars had their minor bugbears – chiefly, a lack of progression and cyclical line-ups – the past couple of years saw shit sour dramatically. Economic conditions precluding a downturn in ticket sales hit promoters across the board, but rapidly snowballed into a rolling PR disaster for ATP. Supposedly fixed dates were shuffled around the calendar to try and salvage a worsening situation. Jeff Mangum’s return to the public domain, greeted like manna from heaven, was kicked three months down the line, resulting in fans losing large amounts of money on non-refundable travel. 2012 ran out an annus horribilis in every sense: cancellations and rescheduling, creditors heading to court for windingup orders, The Stool Pigeon’s stark printed exposé of their finances, a painfully public feud with Butlins resulting in reverting to Pontins. It made for pretty grim reading.
P H OTOS shot 2 bi t s.com
Like many independent festivals, ATP rested on its ventures coming off successfully, which no longer appeared a bankable proposition. By Hogan’s own word, international events had been haemorrhaging money for some time – which explains why his statement in the final pamphlet bragging about offers to “take the festival to Iceland, Denmark, Turkey, Poland and South America … which, let’s be honest, is a lot more exciting than bloody Camber Sands” rankled in the extreme with the core fans. Reports of direly undersold events spearheaded by the reunited Afghan Whigs in New York (which had to be shifted from New Jersey due to an even bleaker financial outlook) and a TV On The Radio weekender at Camber Sands brought a very tangible fatalism onrushing and undoubtedly accelerated the process of ATP dramatically reducing its scope by sounding the death knell for the holiday camps. As I perceive it, a parallel trend holds significant impact – through no real fault of its own, ATP lost its USP. Many people point to the festival’s midperiod as the true golden era: a perfect storm which allowed utilisation of the larger Butlins in Minehead as demand swelled considerably. The twinned Weekenders in May 2008, co-curated by Pitchfork and Explosions In The Sky respectively, boast an embarrassment of collective riches: Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, Beach House, Hot Chip, Dirty Projectors, Caribou, The National, Deerhunter, Animal Collective amongst the cast. It goes without saying that the landscape has changed considerably in the interim half-decade. Not that these acts are too big as such – the latter four have all played curator since 2011 – but they're no longer going to be padding out the bill.
As ATP’s pool of acts to cajole into reforming shrank, so too did corporate festivals begin pinching the very acts that had bought it market leadership. Case in point: when Grizzly Bear, footage of whom pied piping a besotted crowd onto a nearby beach closed out the sublime 2009 feature-length ATP film, can now second-headline Latitude Festival, it signals a pretty dramatic switch in alternative music’s wider appeal. Across the final weekend there were shades of that alternate reality still in existence, when the sheer euphoria triggered by Fuck Buttons’ worldbeating Olympians or joyous pogo mania triggered by Superchunk’s onetwo of Digging For Something and Slack Motherfucker recast them as parallel Chemical Brothers, or Blink 182; but the feeling was fleeting. In essence, ATP’s universe expanded until a point where it collapsed under the weight of its own influence. That’s why, setting aside all external factors, All Tomorrow’s Parties will be such an immense loss. Although believing the end of “a fucking institution” to inherently be a shame, Watt ponders if “like Dr Who, it has to take a breather”, assured that the good work has been done and influence will spread. Ranaldo, remains pragmatic about the whole affair: “I think as with many things, it might have just run its course, or been trying to expand too far into other territories”, which, coupled with replicate facsimiles cropping up or co-opting the innovative approach,
S I TE at p f e s t i v al .c om
means “there is no longer a pressing need for the festival now.” He does add, finally, “I’m sad to see the holiday camp period come to a close – it was very special while it lasted.” I’d wager the majority of diehards would agree with him; I certainly do. Two bittersweet moments stand out clearly amongst the final weekend’s haze. On Friday night, long-suffering press dude Jamie Summers played a DJ set in the after-hours pub to commemorate the close of six years with the festival – it ended with him sailing over people’s heads, from the booth right back to the bar, as Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time melted into Do You Remember The First Time? (that keen sense of mixtape-compiling awareness never fades), bringing the memory of the crowdsurfing Jarvis-alike rushing back. And at 2am on Monday morning: House lights rose, revealing dozens of staff past and present gathered on stage. They, as the crowd, were in a peculiarly indie form of formalwear – pinbadges pockmarking velvet lapels, polka-dot gowns and the like. Finally, predictably, the chiming chords of The Velvet Underground’s namesake track began to ring out as Barry Hogan officially called time on 14 years of All Tomorrow’s Parties. It was a unique and brilliant way to run a festival, presenting music and art with no barriers, and in doing so encouraging a more tangibly human connection. It will be sorely missed.
LEONARD SKULLY RECORDS
‘Last Days of Butterfly’
by The Jungfraus OUT 9th December 2013
by Stranger OUT NOW
“steadfastness, resilience and beauty” 4/5 Big Issue
‘What’s Happening?’ - a monthly roundup of events in Manchester FIND ‘Sally & Prinss Revisited’ by Politburo OUT NOW
“have you thumbing through your Rubble compilations with a wondering frown” Incendiary Mag
Leonard Skully PhD Leona at
T O P Black Sabbath 13 Vertigo Records
Still Corners Strange Pleasures Sub Pop
Gauntlet Hair Stills Dead Oceans
Beautiful Swimmers Son Future Times
The Field Cupid's Head Kompakt
Special Request Soul Music Houndstooth
Logos Cold Mission Keysound Recordings
Joanna Gruesome Weird Sister Slumberland
No Age An Object Sub Pop
Hyetal Modern Worship True Panther Sounds
Bass Drum Of Death Bass Drum Of Death Innovative Leisure
1 0 0 100 99 98 97 96 95 94 93 92 91 90
A L B U M S
Oneohtrix Point Never R Plus Seven Warp
Jessy Lanza Pull My Hair Back Hyperdub
Wavves Afraid Of Heights Mom & Pop
Damiano Von Eckert & Tito Wun Mister Pink, What Have You Been Smoking? ava.
Daughter If You Leave 4AD
Ducktails The Flower Lane Domino
Jenny Hval Innocence Is Kinky Rune Grammofon
Space Dimension Controller Welcome To Mikrosektor-50 R&S
VÃ¥r No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers Sacred Bones
Boards Of Canada Tomorrow's Harvest Warp
Tyler, The Creator Wolf Odd Future Records
89 88 87 86 85 84 83 82 81 80 79
Pusha T My Name Is My Name G.O.O.D. Music / Def Jam Recordings
Run The Jewels Run The Jewels Fool's Gold
Matthew E. White Big Inner Domino
Daft Punk Random Access Memories Daft Life / Columbia
Tree Sunday School 2 Creative Control
Cate Le Bon Mug Museum Wichita
Endless Boogie Long Island No Quarter
Death Grips Government Plates Third Worlds
Waxahatchee Cerulean Salt Wichita
Julianna Barwick Nepenthe Dead Oceans
Syclops A Blink Of An Eye Running Back
78 77 76 75 74 73 72 71 70 69 68
Future Of The Left How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident Prescriptions
Dean Blunt The Redeemer Hippos In Tanks / World Music
Dirty Beaches Drifters / Love Is The Devil Zoo Music
Thundercat Apocalypse Brainfeeder
Sapphire Slows Allegoria Not Not Fun
Chelsea Light Moving Chelsea Light Moving Matador
The History Of Apple Pie Out Of View Marshall Teller
RP Boo Legacy Planet Mu
Blondes Swisher RVNG Intl.
Foals Holy Fire Warner Bros / Transgressive
Chelsea Wolfe Pain Is Beauty Sargent House
Benjamin Damage Heliosphere 50Weapons
Gold Panda Half Of Where You Live Ghostly International
Moderat II Monkeytown
Queens Of The Stone Age Like Clockwork Matador
Iceage You're Nothing Matador
67 66 65 64 63 62 61 60 59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52
Yo La Tengo Fade Matador
The Haxan Cloak Excavation Tri-Angle
Splashh Comfort Luv Luv Luv
Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience (Part 1) RCA
Lust For Youth Perfect View Sacred Bones
Omar Souleyman Wenu Wenu Domino
Jay Shepheard Home & Garden Retrofit
Fuck Buttons Slow Focus ATP
Wolf Eyes No Answer: Lower Floors De Stijl
The Flaming Lips The Terror Bella Union
Thee Oh Sees Floating Coffin Castle Face
Fuzz Fuzz In The Red
Factory Floor Factory Floor DFA
Hookworms Pearl Mystic Weird World
Child Of Lov Child Of Lov Double Six
The National Trouble Will Find Me 4AD
51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36
Deerhunter Monomania 4AD
Grouper The Man Who Died In His Boat Kranky
Connan Mockasin Caramel Phantasy Sound
Four Tet Beautiful Rewind Text
Forest Swords Engravings Tri-Angle
Laurel Halo Chance Of Rain Hyperdub
Earl Sweatshirt Doris Columbia
7 Days of Funk 7 Days Of Funk Stones Throw
Mazzy Star Seasons Of Your Day Rhymes Of An Hour
Pissed Jeans Honeys Sub Pop
Oliver Wilde A Brief Introduction ... Howling Owl
His Electro Blue Voice Ruthless Sperm Sub Pop
Tropic Of Cancer Restless Idylls Blackest Ever Black
Tim Hecker Virgins Kranky
Chance The Rapper Acid Rap Self-Released
35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21
Julia Holter Loud City Song Domino
The point at which Holter dropped the chimerical haze for a sonic stance more resolutely human, if not necessarily more tangible, Loud City Song was perhaps not the stone cold classic anticipated by many after the heartbreaking Ekstasis, but was all the more interesting for it. A mildly flummoxing delight. TH
Parquet Courts Light Up Gold What's Your Rupture / Mom + Pop
Parquet Courts upended 2013 with a cut of galloping garage jangle, underpinned by nuggets of pure stoner wisdom and Jonathan Richmanesque wit. With more than a couple of nods to the 1970s street punk sound of their native New York, the Courts’ astonishingly well rounded debut is smart dudes’ drinking music, straight up. BB
Zomby With Love 4AD
Like an architect examining the rubble of past genres, for With Love Zomby gathered fragments of jungle, garage and eskibeat to express the collective euphoria that dance music once provided in unlicensed warehouses and via pirate broadcasts. With an added touch of tender ambience, the masked enigma’s love letter felt entirely sincere. DR
James Holden The Inheritors Border Community
And why the fuck would a new James Holden album in 2013 not be interesting? Emerging seven years after The Idiots Are Winning, the sonic palette was even more avant-garde, but, like his ever more confounding DJ sets, it was infinitely more interesting than more or less everyone operating around him. Lawless experimentalism at its most potent. TF
Bill Callahan Dream River Drag City
Dare you to name us a better songwriter in the world right now than Bill Callahan. Dare you. Dream River abounds in perfectly placed embellishments, while lyrically he focuses on chronologies of chance, moments when all of humanity, our deepest fears and highest hopes, are found in the tiniest of things. Witness a modern master at work. JB
DARKSIDE Psychic Matador / Other People
The beauty of Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington’s DARKSIDE project lay in the interplay between Harrington’s effects riddled guitar and Jaar’s effortless turns of pace. A wonderfully unpredictable listen, Psychic was the sound of electronic improvisation between two musicians captured with unparalleled clarity. TF
Danny Brown Old Fool's Gold
Split into two halves, the first side of Danny Brown’s much-hyped album reflects on his bleak experiences of coming up as a rapper on Detroit’s desolate streets, while the second is packed with sexually charged, MDMAlaced party bangers. Old didn’t just confirm Brown as the most unique rapper on the planet, it proved he’s one of the smartest too. DR
Atoms For Peace Amok XL
Atoms For Peace – Thom Yorke’s electronically leaning supergroup – are the musical showboating equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters re-imagined as a bunch of forty-something, anhedonic white dudes forcibly holed up until they get jiggy with it. Needless to say, TY and his glitterati of leftfield chums pulled it off. It’s called Amok. JN
The Knife Shaking The Habitual Rabid
One of the most provocative projects of this year, the Swedish brother/sister duo embraced their avant-garde influences with Shaking the Habitual. Preempted by a series of media, 11-minute drone tracks met alarming videos and baffling live accompaniment for a considered deconstruction of the increasing standardisation and genderisation of our tastes. AT
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Push The Sky Away Bad Seeds Ltd
From the muttering opening of We No Who U R to the enveloping ambience of the closing title-track, The Bad Seeds’ proved there was life in the gnarled old dogs yet. And with this collection of unfurling memories of songs underlaying Cave at his most knowable, Push The Sky Away planted the feet of one of history’s great rock bands resolutely into a new era. GHD
Savages Silence Yourself Matador
More of an odious manifesto than a mere maxim, Silence Yourself is Savages’ violent deconstruction of modern conventionality on their own grisly terms. Contained by a visceral framework, Jehnny Beth’s imperative lyrics are absurdly minimal and brutally confrontational. Silence Yourself is the unredeemable world according to 2013’s most vital band. JN
Daniel Avery Drone Logic Phantasy Sound
Forged in the analogue fires of Andrew Weatherall’s basement, Daniel Avery’s Drone Logic pulsates with an acid heartbeat and a tough, metallic soul. Taking the grim flamboyance of electroclash and the hypnotic elegance of looping techno, Avery has created a dance floor monster that can’t be controlled. Do your very best to stray into its path. AC
My Bloody Valentine mbv m b v Records
In 1991 My Bloody Valentine released the genre-defining Loveless – a record so colossal it changed the world of music forever, and ultimately destroyed the band. For 22 years we waited, and in 2013 it finally came. mbv is the only record that even comes close to matching that untouchable production of its predecessor. The sequel everyone hoped for but nobody dared expect. JB
DJ Rashad Double Cup Hyperdub
While the UK footwork invasion continues to spiral, it’s hard to believe Double Cup won’t one day be regarded as a defining document. The genredefying noises scattered across this record make it a not-to-be-fuckedwith game changer. Constantly evolving, flirty motifs flit throughout, a justification of Rashad’s position at the top of the game. BB
Arcade Fire Reflektor Merge Records
This is a band having the midlife crisis we all dream of. The sound of the unlikely heroes becoming the intentionally untrendy hosts of the party of the millennium, by the time the rumbling synths and keys of Supersymmetry bow out after the LP’s 13 tracks, one of the most vital bands of the planet have fully exercised their new lease of life. DH
Deafheaven Sunbather Deathwish
Kanye West Yeezus Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam
Six months down and still as flatout thrilling as on initial listens, the San Franciscan duo’s second record proper is a touchstone for modern black metal, American or otherwise; a blistering suckerpunch of cathartic blasting and dazed introspection tied together by George Clarke’s impassioned, poetic narratives and Kerry McCoy’s atmospheric and diverse instrumentation. Sunbather is a comprehensively and consistently satisfying document, a true classic in the making, as unifying in opinions as Liturgy’s Aesthetica was divisive a couple years back. TH
These New Puritans Field Of Reeds Infectious Music
If you’re reading this, there’s a 50% chance you’ve just cringed. Either you despise the mere sound of West’s voice, or you’re as convinced by his megalomaniac vision as the supergroup of producers assembled to fulfill it. Knowing hip-hop’s power to transmit rebellious bravado from the creator to the listener, West pushed it to the extreme, transforming himself into a godlike lothario, spitting out the sedative of celebrity status, screaming at the paparazzi and confronting middle America’s inherent prejudice with a righteous slap in the face. Just hurry up with his damn croissants. DR
Jon Hopkins Immunity Domino
When These New Puritans emerged in 2008, we knew they were a cut above their retrogressive postpunk peers, but we never thought they’d evolve into the most radically innovative band in the country. By enlisting classical ensembles and composers, Portuguese singer Elisa Rodrigues, a primary school choir and a hawk named Shiloh, the band eschewed careerist logic in favour of grandiose ambition. The result? A satisfying antidote to those unquenchable cravings for instant gratification. DR
Happily, artists like Kurt Vile are still focused on the long player, still want to engage us on a deeper level, still keep us enraptured over four sides of shellac. If 2011’s Smoke Ring for my Halo showcased Vile at his most contently sombre, Wakin on a Pretty Daze is a stunning riposte to anyone who had the Philadelphian down as a hash-huffing dirgepeddler. It’s bright – Wakin on a Pretty Day shimmers, positively iridescent – brash – KV Crimes humps about over ZZ Top licks and metronomic cowbell – and ballsily beautiful – Goldtone is about as gorgeous a song as you’re likely to hear this decade. In short, Vile crafted something incredible, rich, rewarding, and endlessly replayable. We caught up with KV, on tour (for a change) in Berlin, to offer our congratulations. So, album of the year, how does it feel? Amazing! Thank you so much! Wise fuckin choice, man! How have you found 2013? 2013’s been pretty, pretty awesome. We’ve all had a great time, touring like crazy, and we’re still touring and that’s cool too, but we’re definitely feeling the effects of non-stop playing. But ultimately, yeah, it’s going good, it’s going great. People get to watch me crumble before their very eyes every night. Just kidding.
Wakin On A Pretty Daze Matador
Immunity’s power lay in Hopkins’ ability to pulverise and sooth with equal amounts of emotional resonance. Essentially an albums of two halves, the layered surging techno of the glorious Open Eye Signal and Collider was paired with the dust-settling poignancy and solitary note tear-jerking scapes of Abandon Window and the skewed beat fragility of the title track. A document of a true musician at work, Immunity was the sound of producer showcasing a breadth of performance far beyond anyone else around him, uniting beat-heads and traditionalists alike. TF
We live in a moment where the album, as an idea, as a concept, as an actuality, seems to have frozen in stasis, supplanted by our ever-increasing desire for tracks, for snippets, for feed-friendly chunks.
When you put a record out, what’s your initial feeling on the moment of release, when you know it’s out there in the world and it’s out of your hands? I freak out right before it comes out, when I can’t make those last minute changes. When Childish Prodigy came out I just felt like that was in the bag, I had my mojo, felt like it was going to blow minds. And then certain sites like Pitchfork didn’t get it, so I knew to basically have no expectations. But you never know why people decide not to like it. Honestly you can’t worry about it; you can’t get
your hopes up too much. Ultimately you hope it does awesomely but at the same time I can’t be too cocky ... till later! Do you feel that in this age of expected instantaneous response has devalued the album as an artform? It annoys me. Obviously if a reviewer only hears it twice and they basically don’t know what they’re talking about and they shit all over it. The other way round is like, OK, it’s just the world we live in. Have we lost the ability to sit down and actually listen to albums as albums? That’s the digital age we live in. I’m one of the few that still goes out and buys CDs just so I have the actual album and sit down with it front to back. But yeah, you go to check something on your phone, or you go to do something and see your phone and there’s a bunch or texts, or emails, and you’ve forgotten what you were meant to be doing. Everything is so interrupted and ADD. I’m pretty ADD anyway so I’m just as gulity as others in some ways. But when it comes to music, I’m devout. That’s my religion. What has your album of the year’s been? Steve Gunn’s Time Off is an incredible record. He’s a fellow Philadelphian. He lives in New York now. His guitar playing is ... he’s just a purist. His songs are super real, he’s not stuck in the now-times, he’s happy in the classic-times. By far the best record I’ve heard this year. Is there anything you’re bored of reading about yourself? I don’t know man ... there are things that annoy me but ... I space out. I trust you. I won’t get mad at you [reels off a mad stoner giggle]. Words: Josh Baines
T O P . 5 0
Ace Hood Bugatti We The Best / Cash Money
Ducktails Ivy Covered House Domino
Jungle The Heat B3SCI
!!! Slyd Warp
Fat Trel Make It Clap Self-Released
Justin Timberlake Mirrors Sony
Pev & Kowton End Point Livity Sound
The Bug Louder (feat. Flowdan) Domino
Drake Started From The Bottom Cash Money / Young Money
Pixies Bagboy Self-Released
Arctic Monkeys Do I Wanna Know? Domino
Sophie Bipp Numbers
T R A C K S
Torn Hawk BornToWin (Life After Ghostbusters) L.I.E.S.
Joy Orbison BRTHDT-T! Nonplus
Foals Inhaler Transgressive
Huerco S. Apheleia's Theme Future Times
Rhye Open Polydor
Eagulls Tough Luck Partisan Records
D'Marc Cantu Size & Shape Creme Organization
The Flaming Lips The Terror Bella Union
Rachel Row Follow The Step (Kink Beat Mix) Pets Recordings
A$AP Ferg Shabba Remix A$AP Worldwide
Mount Kimbie Made To Stray Warp
Daft Punk Get Lucky Columbia
Paul Woolford Untitled Hotflush
Barnt Tunsten Comeme
Benjamin Damage 010x 50Weapons
Velour Speedway Broadwalk
JME Integrity Boy Better Know
Wavves Demon To Lean On Ghost Ramp
Mano Le Tough Primitive People (Tale Of Us Remix) Permanent Vacation
These New Puritans Fragment Two Infectious
Kanye West Bound 2 GOOD Music / Def Jam
Blondes Elise RVNG Intl.
Pissed Jeans Health Plan Sub Pop
Lightning Dust Diamond Jagjaguwar
FKA Twigs Water Me Young Turks
Moderat Therapy Monkeytown
DJ Rashad Drank, Kush, Barz Hyperdub
Floorplan Never Grow Old M-Plant
Beau Wanzer Balls Of Steel L.I.E.S.
2013, the year the evil techno overlords really stepped it up, and from the cream of the L.I.E.S. crop came Balls Of Steel. Almost novelty in its clattering and self-consciously-nightmarish drawl, this lingers in our minds as the weirdo soundtrack of the year. AT
Pusha T feat. Kendrick Lamar Nosetalgia GOOD. Music
While the self-titled long player couldn’t quite sustain the thrill, we’d probably set our bar unrealistically high for the best live band in the UK. In isolation though, Fall Back’s propulsive drum fills and post-techno blipcrunch-sigh-squeal affirmed just how vital they can be. GHD
Open Eye Signal’s rich, surging, searing momentum pulverises with swathes of noise, folding in on themselves and re-emerging, more titanium than before, and seeing the man himself tease out the swells at our own Simple Things festival was utterly glorious. The stand out track from his magnum opus Immunity, we’d say Jon Hopkins has had a pretty good year. AT
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Jubilee Street Bad Seeds Ltd
Thundercat was an unlikely source for the feel good hit of the summer, but with far-out production courtesy of FlyLo, Stanley Clark-inspired bass line, a depthy, euphoric wub and silkily crooned lyrics about partying on ecstasy, Oh Sheit It’s X! was unrivalled as the naughtiest jam of 2013. JB
Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples & Casey Veggies Hive Columbia
“A girl’s gotta make ends meet, even down on Jubilee Street.” On its February release, the greatest storyteller in contemporary music beguiled all who encountered his tale of solemn streetwalker Bea’s travails on a fictionalised version of an unassuming Brighton stretch. It immediately joined the canon of Nick Cave’s most potent moments. GHD
Arcade Fire Reflektor Merge Records
Here’s how to shrug off the sensationalism surrounding your name: casually spit jaw-dropping rhymes over a prowling bassline that sounds like it wants to steal your wallet . Rap’s sharpest lyricist is loitering on streets of LA’s Fairfax neighbourhood. He’s hooded, his eyes are bloodshot and he doesn’t want to sign a fucking autograph. Hive is his anthem. DR
Ten Walls Gotham Innervisions
Jon Hopkins Open Eye Signal Domino
Nosetalgia’s raw bursts of guitar first grab you, but it’s the crossgenerational chemistry of the voices that gives it the depth of a classic. After Pusha T recalls his coke-shifting exploits, Kendrick steals the show playing the damaged child of the crack epidemic. Forget all the drama about that Control verse, this was K.Dot’s greatest moment of the year. DR
Thundercat Oh Sheit It's X! Brainfeeder
Factory Floor Fall Back DFA
Remove the pre-amble, the videos, the concepts; remove James Murphy, the costumes and even the fact David Bowie guests on it. This is an eightminute disco track that feels like four; it’s many people’s favourite band forging an insatiable new path. Now add all the aforementioned extras, and you’ve got the fireworks moment of the year. TF
This year in dance music was encompassed by a particular sound, given a platform by the Innervisions crew of Âme, Henrik Schwarz and Dixon. Taking it ever further down, Gotham was an Ibiza omnipresence, a shimmering kingpin of those hands-in-the-air tracks that went deeper than deep. AT
Fuck Buttons The Red Wing ATP Recordings
For over half a decade, Andrew Hung and Benjamin Power have defined a certain, glowing, uncategorised form of musical enlightenment. But never quite like this. The Red Wing is a fucked up anthem. It’s undoubtedly a track, a song, a standalone moment, not a contributing element to a greater whole. Striding into life with a juddering, uncharacteristic hip-hop clang, one of this country’s most enduringly fearless acts constructed the kind of earth-shattering clamour of enveloping fuzz drone we’ve come to expect, or even demand. A searching growl seeps down into a roaring bottom end pulp, cutting straight to the gut; a bottom end which went on to pierce its way through fields and tents across the world as the unbridled highlight of the duo’s live bombast. Over eight or so vivid minutes, flickers of light glint amongst the density; growing, pulsating, and finally plunging whole into a blinding flood, a splattering of pylon crackles tumbling into the expanse. As the grotesque mass of the thing perishes in a blaze of sheer static power, you find yourself gasping, drained, flicking a drooping finger towards rewind – the tangible end of something immeasurable.
Oozing from a decent set of headphones, no song this year soundtracked so many bleary late night walks, so many barren-stomached sunrises. The Fuck Buttons formula had found its zenith, and we’ll never, ever stop listening to it. Crack spoke to Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin Power about the Track of the Year. “Although we find it hard to pick favourites from our records as the journey as a whole is impossible without every milestone, The Red Wing stood out as a track we thought could be released as a single. Where rhythm is concerned it’s something very different to our previous work. We love it, and are very happy that it has been received in the way it has. There’s a noticeable change in the audience when we play it live. It feels great to know that Crack Magazine wanted to make this their Number 1 track of the year. Thank you for sharing our vision, here’s to 2014.” ---------Words: Geraint Davies
Across 5. Dull or unfashionable, typically f. (6) 6. Orrible little string of hair hanging from the back of yer head (3-4) 7. The most esteemed variety of sideburns (6-4) 8. Vertebral column (8) 11. Person with a predisposition towards English stuff (10) 13. American for ‘fringe’ (5) 14. 2011’s Mercury Prize winner (3-7-5) 17. Little glass bowl used for doing a science (5-4) 18. Celebrated figurative painter Francis (5) 19. Gather together (7) 20. Really nice Spanish food which is, like, lots of little bits (5) Down 1. It’s reasonable to deduce that she believes in life after love (4) 2. Plot; plan (4) 3. Business at the front, party at the back; fish (6) 4. Largest city in Washington State, world capital of fuzz (7) 5. Person with a predisposition towards French stuff (11) 9. Africa’s highest peak (11) 10. Name for an elasticated hair tie that no one seems to say anymore (9) 12. A small piece or lump, typically chicken (6) 14. Mario’s lanky brother (5) 15. To liberally dash with liquid (6) 16. Indoor shoe; person who falls over on glossy surfaces a lot. Like, a lot (7)
TOY +SPECIAL GUESTS
18/02 19/02 20/02 21/02 22/02 23/02 24/02 28/02 01/03 26/04
HOVE, THE OLD MARKET BRISTOL, THEKLA SOUTHAMPTON, TALKING HEADS BIRMINGHAM, THE RAINBOW NOTTINGHAM, BODEGA SOCIAL CLUB LEEDS, THE COCKPIT GORILLA MANCHESTER, GORIL LIVERPOOL, EAST VILLAGE ARTS CLUB NORWICH, WATERFRONT STUDIO LONDON, O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE
Solutions to last issue’s crossword: ACROSS: 3. BOUQUET, 4. TOSSER, 7. TORI AMOS, 10. PARAPHERNALIA, 13. ALEX SALMOND, 18. SHUNT 19. OPERATOR, 20. GOBI, 21. FABRIC 22. MUSKET, DOWN: 1. TUTU, 2. SUBTITLES, 5. PORRIDGE, 6. EMERGENCY SERVICES 8. DARIO ARGENTO, 9. PINE, 13. RATATOUILLE, 12. KENICKIE, 15. SCRAM, 16. MOTH, 17. JOYCE
FI LM WORDS Tim Oxley S m i th
La vie d’Adele / Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Dir. Alfonso Cuarón
Dir. Abdellatif Kechiche
Dir. Spike Lee
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
Starring: Adele Exarchopoulos, Lea Seydoux
Starring: Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley
As 2013 rumbles to an end, a year where it felt like science fiction relentlessly occupied the box office, there failed to be a distinct stand-out film that could fulfil the deeply profound questions a fully-realised space film can offer. Nor has there been a film that visually stimulates beyond the given level of any run-of-the-mill blockbuster.
With the Palme d’Or winning film of the year you can always expect a deep and rich exploration of human experience. The accolade itself, given uncharacteristically to the two lead actresses as well as the director, is enough to warrant a visit to the pictures, while that Palme d’Or badge is invariably surpassed by the quality of filmmaking on show.
When we heard Oldboy was getting a remake, our initial reaction was ... “why the fuck would you do that?” Chan-wook Park’s 2003 seminal revenge epic remains timeless, brutal and a true original. And all our fears were emphatically realised. Spike Lee’s remake delivers a hollow homage at best, and at worst, an absolute crock of shit.
From the first frame, Cuarón succeeds in captivating us with long takes of engulfing, sumptuous scenery. The camera pans and swings as if we were right there with them, settled snuggly in our own space suite. George Clooney with his jet pack on is something to behold in itself.
In this regard, Blue... is no exception. But in any other sense you’d like to offer, it’s a truly exceptional piece of filmmaking artistry. Director Kechiche tells the story of Adele and her heart-warming and -wrenching love for Emma (Seydoux) with a light yet potent hand, capturing Adele Exarchopoulous’s fearlessly visceral performance with the subtlety of realism, but also encapsulating the vivid, intangible subtleties of being in love.
Josh Brolin plays Joe Doucett (previously Dae-Su Oh) providing, as ever, a masculine physical presence, but grimly lacking anywhere near the level of Min-Sik Choi’s imprisoned sinner. His journey is a bland, insipid husk of the one we’ve seen before. The Americanisation of the plot means the film’s subtleties are lost against the bloody backdrop, and what once represented one of the best and most disgusting twists in movie history, garnering the film a slowburning but ever-growing fan base, is sloppily executed and almost inconsequential.
So far, so very fucking good. But the hypnotic serenity is soon dispersed by a captivating sequence where it all goes drastically wrong, in more ways than one. The narrative seeds are liberally sewn, and it’s in the second part of the film the focus is shifted to Bullock’s human experience, all of which proves less enjoyable. Although Bullock carries her character’s story adequately, the narrative does become slightly insular, and perhaps a little too linear. With the infinite possible questions that could have been asked, this expedition into space suddenly becomes a personal journey on the shoulder of a character we care little for. But nothing can be taken away from the dedication to the spectacle Cuarón and his effects team strive to create, all of which deems Gravity a worthy addition to any list of the genre’s must sees.
There are also the somewhat less subtle sex scenes, though simply showing them on a general release embodies the enveloping passion the film wishes to portray within its key characters. And where Blue... can be considerd truly great is its relentless, soul-piercing close ups, combined with an ability to recognise those acutely profound moments. It’s an edifying experience, epitomising the balance between more than competent film making and resonant acting performance.
The performances are all misplaced; Sharlto Copley’s The Stranger is lame, and there’s not much to be said for Lee’s storytelling either. Considering how little imagination needed to be applied to the formula (as all the iconography is easily sourced from the original), we arrived at the cinema confused and intrigued, and left confused and thoroughly pissed off. Oldboy US dishonourably finds itself in a remake no man’s land somewhere between Gus Van Sant’s flabby Psycho and 2003’s Italian Job. It’s fucking terrible, and all involved parties should feel very sad it exists at all.
Pixie s Manchester Apollo | November 21st To paraphrase: “I know the new songs are good shit”. This was a boast made by Pixies axeman Joey Santiago during a recent interview with the Nostalgic Music Express. But even if this were true, when you’ve ousted your iconic bassist and backing vocalist you’re at risk of pissing off your fanbase, diminishing much of the credibility you’ve garnered across a career that straddles 27 years and five albums. Tonight’s first cut is Andro Queen, and its limpness is emphasised by the songs that follow: Cactus and Ed Is Dead, while drummer David Lovering’s deep pan croons on Here Comes Your Man and deranged cackles of Mr Grieves are wedged between murmurings from the crowd with regard to the recent reshuffle in their groove section. “It’s a real shame Kim Deal quit the band,” one purist 40-something scoffs. Meanwhile, a teeny bopper garbed in a ‘Death To The Pixies’ t-shirt from the amorphous mosh-pit shrugs, “I’m not really arsed.” So how do you overcome the problem of Deal’s abscence? Easy: enlist the skill-set of another bassist called Kim. That’s Kim Shattuck – erstwhile lead singer and guitarist for the Muffs (and now, in fact, erstwhile bassist for the Pixies). With this line-up Monkey Gone To Heaven and Gouge Away succeed in sounding as relevant as they did 20-plus years ago, with each song being yelled back at Francis. It’s the oddball lyricism of the anthemic Debaser and Santiago’s guitar throttling mini-freak outs on Vamos which preserve Pixies’ legacy. The mantric Where Is My Mind? chimes in to an onset of flashbacks and bleary-eyes, before squalling encore staple Planet Of Sound lays the 35 song set-list to rest. The verdict: Francis and co are still expert purveyors of the kind of jams make you sweat profusely; the softcore new stuff is permissible; and in the live arena, Pixies are still the real Deal.
© Shirlaine Forrest
---------Words: Joshua Nevett Photo: Shirlaine Forrest
W HP + Paxahau Present: Movement Detroit
E v ia n C h rist T ra n ce Pa rt y
Netil House, London | November 26th
Village Underground, London | November 28th
Victoria Warehouse, Manchester | November 30th
Corsica Studios, London | November 22nd
This evening’s opening act Porn, featuring Thurston Moore and Faith No More’s Billy Gould, churn out dirgey avant-skronk with occasional thrash metal flourishes. If this was porn it was the horrible German stuff, no holds barred fucking that goes on for a bit too long to be enjoyable for either the creators or the consumers.
If METZ come to your town, go and see them. There are very few bands flying the power-trio flag right now, and none bringing as much to the table in terms of live vitriol.
Detroit, the hinterland of the countercultural techno renaissance. Tonight, Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse is a microcosm of the above; appropriating the 4/4 rhythmic music policy of Paxahau, the Motor City’s flagship techno promoters.
Hot from lacing Yeezus with experimentation Evian Christ enrolled the likes of Jam City, Wanda Group and Arca to throw the first in his duo of ‘Trance Parties’, promising to detract away from the genre and coiling it all back to what ‘trance’ actually means.
First up, Cocoon bossman Sven Väth is giddy on mountainsized mechanical throbs, building skyscrapers of suspense as designed by Kraftwerk in the acid-drenched basement of Tresor. We hunker down in the darkness of Room Two, pissed to the marrow on 808 drum loops, and the heady tribal percussion of Joy Orbison’s set is a mere entrée to the dexterity Maya Jane Coles and Nina Kraviz harness. Equally divisive and provocative figures on a male-dominated lineup, the duo’s three hour mélange of robotic minimalism and Plastikman plagiarised acidity is a snapshot of the sound that’s cross-pollinating once disparate styles. The caustic meets the intelligent in a sub-cultural experiment and we’re the beneficiaries.
With help from Corsica’s roaring sound system, the night’s curator bounced from his earlier status-cementing, hip-hop infused electronica, over to the snarling expletives of the unhinged Yeezus cut I’m In It. Judging by the response to his hot-off-the-press tune Salt Carousel, which was released into the web sphere only a day prior, it’s mind-boggling to contemplate the heights he could potentially rocket to. The brutal bass, hyper-speed recitals and unapologetic rave synth slashes are both melodically accessible and ballsy. We enter through various curtains and almost sacrifice shoes to catch a glimpse of Brooklyn’s Arca who thrives off the dancefloor frenzy he’s fashioned, spinning and gyrating behind the decks just as the hundreds of youngsters surveilling are. Next up is Jam City, following the fabulous care-free ethos that a guilty pleasure shouldn’t be guilty. Tropical edits of Drake’s Started From The Bottom anyone? No wonder the giggling girls here can’t help but swoon.
Back in Room One, it’s 5am, and everyone’s still losing their shit, transfixed by Chris Leibing’s two hour techno odyssey and the gargantuan ‘Testudo’ art/machine/centrepiece. The ghosts of Detroit have blazed a trail through WHP’s urban temple and these early morning clusters of technonauts have been possessed by their presence.
Words: Jack Bolter
Words: Leah Connolly
Wolf Eyes’ hour of synth mutation, battery-acid-hard circuit bending, inaudible screams from the pit of Nate Young’s stomach wasn’t, in a conventional sense, ‘entertaining’. When something is this loud, it takes on pseudo-psychedelic properties; you zone out, perhaps hearing nothing more than your own internal monologue, seeing nothing more than the impression of strobes on the inside of your eyelids. Wolf Eyes come out to Slayer’s Angel of Death, they wear sleeveless denim jackets and pulled down tight leather caps, and spend the set slowly, grindingly, fistpumping. Is it all a display of PoMo machismo, or is this kind of OTT performativity a means of attempting to understand the role of man in society by combining signifiers of a classic rock/hair metal heterosexuality with this incredibly sexlessly, deviant music? Then again, it might just be a few dudes who like fucking about really loudly on stage and downing beers to Slayer. ----------Words: Josh Baines
The boys from Toronto have been touring extensively since the release of their debut album just over a year ago, notching up headline gigs at bigger venues each time they return to UK shores. They take the stage and we’re immediately reminded of the ferocity METZ bring to each and every show as they career into a relentless double header of Wet Blanket and Knife in the Water. With frontman Alex Edkins’ headbanging, the strap used to keep his glasses attached is an absolute must – without it he’d be haemorrhaging money on prescription lenses. Meanwhile, drummer Hayden Menzies beats the living shit out of his kit at every opportunity. You can only admire METZ’s positive approach to making music and playing live. Edkins beams; for him it’s all about momentum. He looks proudly at the happy mess of people before him reciprocating his enthusiasm, excitedly bounding back to his mic and yelling “OK, let’s keep things moving” before introducing Get Off. METZ are, undeniably, a band on a roll. Let’s keep things moving indeed.
Words: Joshua Nevett
B Y ale x hall , A ndrew B roaks , J O S H U A N E V E T T, steve dores , anna tehabsim , josh baines , billy black , adam corner , philip james allen
TOY JOIN THE DOTS Heavenly Recordings
WARPAINT WARPAINT Rough Trade
Listening to TOY is a somewhat guilty experience. Like kissing your significant other while day-dreaming about the cute shop assistant in Budgens, it’s almost impossible not to be thinking of other bands while Join The Dots plays out. In the hazy, psychedelia-tinged indie that makes up their second full-length release, the dream-pop of Slowdive, the shoegaze of Ride, the post-punk of The Church, and the contemporary twists on these themes championed by The Horrors all poke through. They’re certainly a group that wear their influences like winter coats rather than simply on the sleeve. But where The Horrors’ psych and synth addled album Skying was a slick fusion of their heroes, Join The Dots is at best a touchstone for discovering the artists being channeled. That’s not to say it’s completely without merit. Opener Conductor is a brilliant soundscape which morphs an oriental refrain into a pummelling and rhythmic seven minutes of noise, a track which turns out to be the most original thing on the album. At the halfway mark To A Death Unknown fizzles along with a lovely lazy melody, but elsewhere, and in between, the songs meander past with little to recommend them, being too indebted to leave an impression. AB
Forget the oft-venerated pretty-all-girl-group-do-post-punk shtick, that’s just ingratiating bullshit. What’s far cooler and more interesting about Warpaint is their studied understanding of subtlety and its merits; when they segue – totally undetected – into those protracted percussive codas that gently spook you out of your own daydreams. When guitarists/vocalists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman sing, “don’t you battle, we’ll kill you, rip you up and tear you in two” it’s this canny sleight of hand that holds testament to Warpaint’s ability to remain cool. And interesting. Where their 2010 debut took its cues from slowcore revisionism, Warpaint is much less encumbered by the past, more informed by the Californian High Desert and A-list production dynamos Flood and Nigel Godrich. These thematic and geographical elements are scorched across its surface, with CC’s sludgy dirges nodding towards the no-fi desert rock of Kyuss as seen through Low’s narcotic haze. There’s sassiness too: a Beck-y hip-hop beat complete with shamanistic “boomshackalackas” (on Hi) and Revolver traced backwards guitars (on Go In). That said, this time around there’s method in the melancholia: a percussive arch on which the no-thrills hooks of singles Love Is To Die and Biggy can beguile, until those brittle parts bond in to become a fully-formed whole. JN
NILS FRAHM SPACES Erased Tapes
SKY FERREIRA NIGHT TIME, MY TIME Capitol
Attempting to capture the intensity of performed electronic-based music in an album format is difficult, verging on pointless. Few have had any degree of success (Daft Punk’s Alive 2007, Basinski’s Disintegration Loops performed at MoMA), but Spaces, the latest work from Nils Frahm, more than deserves to join that concise group. Much like the classical pieces that Frahm is inspired by, but not indebted to, Spaces unravels over a number of distinct movements, providing a cohesive structure despite each individual recording coming from a different performance across two years. The only pieces to contain anything resembling percussion bookend the album, with opener An Aborted Beginning sounding like a Rhythm & Sound record heard from the other side of an empty Trouw, while closer Ross’s Harmonium layers languid, arcing synth coos over the softest of kick drums. The filling between this percussive bread is some of the most explicitly emotional music we’ve heard in forever. The final act sees a return to the plaintive piano-solo pieces that Frahm excels at. In particular, the twinkling strains of Over There, It’s Raining feel like the weightiest winter comedown you’ve never had. Spaces could never hope to fully convey the experience of seeing Frahm in the flesh and ivory, but as a document of his expansive work, it’s the closest thing we have. SD
We’d love to love Sky Ferreira. With her po-faced attitude, angular aesthetic and knack for haphazardly speaking her mind in interviews, she’s industry gold dust. And with the recent drug-related arrest of her and boyfriend, DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith, they could be mistaken for a low-budget, tumblr-generation Sid and Nancy. Night Time, My Time, thrashed out in a two week period in response to a prior range of stylistic deviations and interference from various labels, is a solid enough pop record. Earworm hooks carry Ferreira’s cunningly self-reflective agenda throughout, with reflexive, controversy-embracing slogans – “nobody asked me if I was okay”, “I blame myself for my reputation” – rarely executed so well on a mainstream platform. But as a whole, the album feels shallow, the weight of stylistic influences whittled down to cheap, forgettable production. Maybe you’d enjoy it if you’re partial to a good old-fashioned Avril Lavigne chord’n’yelp, or you actually enjoy the music played in H&M. The striking cover sums it up quite effectively. A disheveled Sky’s dead eyed stare lingers into the void with her left nipple exposed, lumbered with the evocative image to continue her efforts to be anything but Walmart-friendly. On the surface, it’s a refreshingly forward-leaning statement of intent. On the inside, it’s Asda Price. AT
VARIOUS ARTISTS POP AMBIENT 2014 Kompakt
SEBASTIEN GRAINGER YOURS TO DISCOVER Last Gang Records
The new year, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, always fleshes out its hungover husk with a whiff of the inevitable: we’ll give the gym up, won’t quit smoking or being a prick on the internet, and Kompakt will serve up another platter of tastefully utopian rambles through the murk we know as ambient. The Cologne label know, after 20 years of magnificently melancholy big room techhouse stompers, that sometimes you’ve got to drag yourself out of the dark and stumble home, roll a desultory single skin and stay on the sofa for as long as you can before succumbing to sweaty half sleep in broad daylight. That’s where the Pop Ambient compilations come in. As usual, the big guns appear: Ulf Lohman’s Sicht sets the scene with its yearning chasms of wordless voices, Mikkel Metal explore something akin to Ry Cooder wandering round the desert on a dose of some horrible hallucegenic legal high on Patience. Hell, they even give us the dream team of Wolfgang Voigt, under his Gas alias, remixing The Field, which is as great as you imagine. Look, it’s a Pop Ambient compilation. We all know what it’s going to sound like. We all know it should be great. Luckily, it is. JB
Like other icons of the early noughties scene who’ve reformed in recent years, Death From Above 1979’s 2011 reunion was a short-lived blast of barely congealed nostalgia which has otherwise proved fruitless. Despite the promise of new music, eight years on from DFA’s glorious dance-punk maelstrom we’ve been granted Mr. Grainger’s solo LP. After a short (and skippable) instrumental introduction, the power pop of Waking Up Dead sets the scene, all rising and falling riffs, jabs of synth and a ‘big chorus’. This chunk of sugary rock sounds like it should have been released five years ago, and it’s a cruel irony that in a year awash with the sounds of the 80s and 90s, it feels so out of time. Things get even more cloying on the record’s first single, Going With You, when Grainger sings over a minimalist composition of synth, bass and drums of “forgetting your number and never listening to our favourite song”, which is a lesson in triteness if ever there was one. Is this really the same guy who once expertly used the word ‘dilettante’ in a lyric? There are moments of enjoyment – see the infectious chorus of The Streets Are Still A Mess – but Yours To Discover is largely an exercise in sterility. AB
7 DAYS OF FUNK 7 DAYS OF FUNK Stones Throw 15/20 Snoop Dogg is a man of many guises. Dipping into reggae, country, RnB, EDM and ring-tone ready pop, there’s few profitable genres that have escaped his wrath over the last 10 years. Mercifully, this isn’t the return of Snoop Lion but the birth of Snoopzilla, who has teamed up with Dâm-Funk for this seductive concoction of electro boogie and G-funk that recalls times when cocaine was used to garnish cereal and bands descended onto the stage from the Millennium Falcon. But the true hero of this record is Dâm-Funk, who masterfully restrains the wanton boogie assault that could’ve so easily have car-wrecked this LP, instead slickly glossing over the THC-laced Cadillac jams, allowing the record to cruise in second gear with an air of restrained panache. Hit Da Pavement sets the tone perfectly: the drums are bombastic and Snoop’s vocal delivery sound impossibly smooth. “Circle through time and space to reconnect the mothership” is the announcement, as Dâm-Funk bends the Roland synth pads, morphing into what is perhaps the strongest cut on the record, Let it Go, an offbeat electro workout that almost goes out of time, temporarily letting a wild, scale-heavy guitar solo pierce through the watertight production. Yet while this record calls upon a decade defined by wanton indulgence as its principle influence, this thing itself is surprisingly restrained. Hell, even with the bonus track it creeps in at a mere 40 minutes. But having spent the duration of that time blissfully gliding through the subconscious of two commanders expertly drilled in beat-driven funk, you can consider yourself satisfied. AH
MAGIK MARKERS SURRENDER TO THE FANTASY Drag City
PATTERNS WAKING LINES Melodic Records
Magik Markers have nothing to prove. They’re the kind of band that make hip young people dribble with excitement. They look great, their name contains letters that shouldn’t be there, and they sound like they don’t give a flying onion what you think. Surrender to Fantasy is their, ahem, 39th official release since they formed a little over 10 years ago. So what, though? It’s easy to write noise rock, right? Yeah sure, it is very easy to sit and record noise. To do it extremely well and win extensive respect and adoration, however, is very fucking hard. Surrender… is a loud, tenacious record, but that doesn’t stop it being gently soothing. Elisa Ambrogio’s vocals remain low in the mix and sound glassy enough to counteract the rest of the band’s snarly, fuzzed out twangs and crashes. Mirrorless is a perfect example of this offset noise and lightness, while Bonfire is crass, interminably punk, and completely unrelenting in its attack. It’s very rare for a group like Magik Markers to break boundaries these days but Surrender... is a tender and endlessly listenable testament to the continuing importance of noise as a genre rather than an ideology. BB
It’s a curse and a blessing for any new band to be compared (however favourably) to a list of better-known artists (however credible they may be). In Patterns’ case, their soft-focus, gently anthemic and swirling aesthetics evoke the hymnal qualities of bands like the Dodos, Animal Collective, or even a watercolour Arcade Fire. But there’s a huge amount that’s unique too, and their debut album positions them somewhere between surf, shoegaze and shimmering pop. Stately album opener The Haze is awash with measured passion; following track Blood is a skate across a frozen psychedelic lake with a gushing warm geyser of a chorus. The entire album is beautifully understated: like fellow Mancunians Elbow’s debut release, or Darkstar when they hit their stride, Patterns’ power derives from the fact that the songs don’t need the kitchen sink thrown at them to blow your mind. On the penultimate two tracks the quality control slips slightly – the vocal lines sound everso slightly samey, the guitar lines just that bit more hackneyed. But album closer Climbing Out rescues things again; what sounds like a blissed-out, swooning love song appears to contain the lyrics of a death threat. A dreamy debut from a band with serious ambitions. AC
THE FAUNS LIGHTS Invada
DUM DUM GIRLS TOO TRUE Sub Pop
The Fauns’ sophomore places them delicately amongst the most consistently exciting bands in the latest, gushing shoegaze revival. Leading on seamlessly from 2009’s self-titled effort, the swathing guitars and ethereal vocals of instrumental opener Point Zero poses a delicate question, emphatically answered by the oozing mass of its successor, Seven Hours. The density of Lee Wood and Elio Guise’s guitars meet Michael Savage’s bass in a dramatic underpinning of the increasingly lauded Alison Garner’s pining coos. While Ease Down and In Flames welcome hearty comparisons to US indie staples the Drop Nineteens, Nothing Ever and With You traverse a more sinister path, with hypnotically grinding instrumentation plumbing deep into the listener’s veins. Best of all, though, is 4AM, where the distortion is cast aside in favour of a lighter touch, affording Garner centre stage. Rolling notes and confessional murmurs perfectly capture that indefinable early-hours isolation, and it’s remarkably potent. The Fauns are bold, proud and utterly fearless. They demand your attention. PJA
Make no mistake, Dum Dum Girls are a really good band. They’ve produced some sincerely interesting indie rock in their relatively short existence. Listening to Too True, however, might not be the best way to convince yourself. Opening with Cult of Love – a goth-tinted, studio-heavy number – is a bold decision. Not least because it sounds just a teensy bit like The Rasmus, but enough to stick. Second track Evil Blooms, however, is a well crafted pop track with the sort of mechanical beat that sits perfectly beneath wonderfully reverberating vocals and jangly guitar hooks. Rimbaud Eyes would be OK but for the way lead singer Dee Dee pronounces “Rimbaud”. Now, while this doesn’t affect the music per se, it feels awkward. Like, really awkward. We’re all for hifalutin references in pop music, it’s a formula that works time and time again. But it’d be really nice if you pronounced them correctly. We did listen to the rest of the record but, oh dear, that mispronunciation has filled our word count. Maybe next time you’ll think of that before you mispronounce a poet’s name eh, Dum Dums? BB
Waking up in a new Mondeo with ...
No sooner had Crack advertised for a
new agony person than we received a very
I’ve just been scammed on the internet. I bought an Xbox off eBay, but when it got here it wasn’t an Xbox at all, just a picture of one. I mean, apparently the listing did kind of say it was a picture of an Xbox somewhere, but ‘cause it was like 450 quid I thought it must be a real Xbox, cause that’s pretty much what they cost. I can’t get my money back and I’ve got Christmas presents to buy for the kids. Any money saving tips?
I have many good ideas but they never seem to come to fruition. I keep getting distracted by funny end of year lists. Now I’m mentally ordering everything into lists, my favourite episodes of Only Fools and Horses, my favourite cereals, even the attractiveness of my friends. Is this unhealthy?
LMAO, some punk-ass motherfuckers spread shit about me leaving my wife for a homie I know from the pen on they weak-ass blogs. I mean, haters always gonna hate, but everybody believes these clowns and it’s gonna fuck up the hype about my comeback single with Big Sean and 2 Chainz. Denzil, I need some advice man.
significant e-mail. What we found within were a collection of words which were confrontational, straight-talking and downright inspiring, capped off with the
Phillip, 30, Milton Keynes Denzil says:
One phone call later, and Denzil had put our finances in order, had the workforce thought-showering like lunatics, and we were in possession of one motherfucker of a two-year development plan. We knew we’d found our man. Denzil Schniffermann: business guru, motivational speaker, life-coach,
Jeffrey Atkins, 37, Queens, New York Denzil says:
most impressive e-mail footer you’ve ever seen. Seriously, it was massive.
Mary, 17, Leeds
So you’re telling me the seller technically advertised it as a picture? Nice guys finish last in this world Phil, and as far as I can tell, it’s fair game. But, never mind, I’m here to help and I empathise – over the decades my turbulent love life has led me to father many children, and I understand that this time of year really stretches the bloody wallet. Ever year I go for the thoughtful yet affordable option which allows my paternal influence to linger when the busy schedule prevents weekend visits: keyrings with my picture on them.
I can understand why you might be suffering from end year list fatigue. But since I’ve become associated with this magazine, I’ve been getting an influx of promotional CDs through my letterbox. And to be honest, I couldn't resist knocking one up myself. While most of the stuff I’ve heard is inadequate student rubbish, I have noticed a healthy new appreciation for a slinky saxophone solo among the hipster community. So here are my top five sax-smothered jams of the year:
I’ve googled your name, and although I can’t condone your lyrics, I deeply respect your entrepreneurial spirit. We’re both go-getters Jeffrey, and when you’ve got your eyes on the prize you’re going to make some enemies on the way up. I myself recently fell victim to vicious rumours, some nonsense about a fruitmachine addiction and a penchant for early morning swigs of scotch. Rise above them Jeffrey, if you can keep your head held high, I’ll bet your new song will take the hit parade by storm.
05. Jaakko Eino Kalevi - No End 04. DIANA - Perpetual Surrender 03. Ducktails - Undercover 02. Blood Orange - Chosen 01. Christopher Owens - New York City Enjoy.
sexual athlete, and above all ... friend.
// any problems? Contact Denzil@ crackmagazine.net
Don't Read Below The Line
Illustration: Lee Nutland www.leenutland.com
A monstrous amoeba-brained blob is heading for Downingtown, Informationville, consuming everything in its path in an angry, all-enveloping mass. Nothing can stop the Internet’s comments section.
Neither of the two Guardian articles are badly written, but they hint at part of a bigger problem – the need to steal eyeballs through click bait headlines. This leads us to quickly wrap every developing story in easy-to-digest comment.
Even the left-leaning websites have been consumed by faux rage. The Guardian ran an article headlined ‘Miley Cyrus’s twerking routine was cultural appropriation at its worst’ one week and a piece on ‘Nine uses for a burka … that don’t involve bashing them’ the next (includes getaway costumes and fire blankets, by the way).
It means that on the same day The Express says ‘The burka is an affront to women and a free society’, The Spectator ‘Why I want my schools to ban the burka (and the miniskirt)’ and The Daily Mail ‘You don’t need a burka, just mad hair and a tatty tracksuit’.
The article about Cyrus’ performance at a music video awards show starts and ends with references to Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, and picked up 800-plus comments. The endless number of columnists who covered the event didn’t tune in live, they aren’t roving scholars of pop culture; everyone just watched it when it went viral on the off chance they could have their say. Was there anything wrong with Miley’s routine? The truth is that ‘In the 90s Miley would just be another wigger’. Just kidding. That was my attempt to write another click bait headline with a buzzword like ‘wigger’, which is enticing because we’re not sure if it’s racist and 30-year-old liberals love that retro stuff.
Watching that life affirming video of Tom Daley outing himself, I could feel the army of commentators gearing up to write think pieces. The problem is the scale, speed and prevalence of online cultural commentary is forcing false polemics and detracting from important debates. I don’t care too much one way or the other about Miley’s performance, but I know it’s the kind of thing that might get commissioned by the knee-jerk comment farms. And there’s the problem; we’re all learning to write faux rage articles. Richard and Judy of wholesome-morning-TV fame wrote that reactionary Express piece for fuck sake. Faux rage isn’t new either, it’s just that the left-wing media are now signing up to what The New York
Times calls the Daily Mail’s unofficial motto: “What Fresh Hell Is This?” The Mail has been doing it online for a long time, and look how good they’ve gotten (I haven’t made this up, you couldn’t): ‘Why the Left hates families: MELANIE PHIILLIPS reveals how the selfish sneers of Guardianistas made her see how the Left actively fosters – and revels in – family breakdown.’ In fairness to Phillips, I never finished reading her article. There might be some revolutionary thinking past the bit where she crows about being the maligned party, under that headline, without a hint of irony. It’s not that every piece of online commentary is bad, but you can see how quickly this back and forth creates a hollow, unnecessary and distracting dialogue. At some point you realise it’s not necessarily worth digging through statistics or records of speeches to point out policy failures, the key is being first to file a polemic. I’m cynical enough to realise that this is becoming a problem, but not clever enough to stop it, I’m afraid. This week’s autumn statement is the first I haven’t covered in a while. You have to send your work to editors almost immediately after the chancellor sits down. Inevitably you just reiterate whatever dogma you’ve embraced – 'the Tories are out-of-touch
millionaires who grow more powerful every time the dreams of a poor person die' etc. Maybe I’ll take the opportunity to assess the fiscal measure and check the numbers again – was I right? Who knows, but at least I’ll question my assumptions and do some genuine footwork to figure it out.
Send rants to firstname.lastname@example.org
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