YUKIMI NAGANO BEST OF 2014 mastodon tim sweeney tops powell alex g panda bear Jesse F. KEELER
M U LT I - S E N S O RY
LIVE ITALO DJ SET
ELECTRONIC BODY MUSIC
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A P L AC E TO PA RT Y T H R O U G H T H E N I G H T
DUCHESS BASS, DANCEHALL
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I B T 1 5
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I B T 1 5 . C O . U K
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DUKE DUMONT / EATS EVERYTHING GORGON CITY / JAMIE JONES / LOCO DICE MK / NINA KRAVIZ / SETH TROXLER SIGMA / TEN WALLS LIVE / WILKINSON
AMINE EDGE & DANCE / BONDAX / B-TRAITS / CAJMERE / CATZ 'N DOGZ CHEZ DAMIER / DAVID RODIGAN MBE / DERRICK CARTER / DENSE & PIKA DJ SNEAK / DUSKY / FRICTION / GEORGE FITZGERALD / GREEN VELVET HANNAH WANTS / HEIDI / JOY ORBISON / KINK LIVE / MISTAJAM PAUL WOOLFORD / REDLIGHT / RICHY AHMED / ROUTE 94 SECONDCITY / SCUBA / SHY FX / SKREAM / STEVE LAWLER THE MAGICIAN / WAZE & ODYSSEY
BLONDE / CAPULET / CITIZEN / CHRIS LORENZO / DJ HYPE / DJ EZ / DOORLY / DUNGEON MEAT / EJECA ETON MESSY DJS / FRIEND WITHIN / GEDDES / ISAAC TICHAUER / JONAS RATHSMAN / LAST MAGPIE MAK & PASTEMAN / MATTHEW STYLES / MJ COLE / MONKI / PATRICK TOPPING / PBR STREETGANG RALPH LAWSON / RONI SIZE / SHADOW CHILD / SIMON BAKER / SPECIAL REQUEST / STAR SLINGER / TCTS / wAFF MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT WWW.HIDEOUTFESTIVAL.COM
Exhibitions Exhibitions Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2014 Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2014 Until 25 Jan 2015 Until 25 Jan 2015 Lower and Upper Galleries Lower and Upper Galleries
Julie Between My MyLegs Legs JulieVerhoeven: Verhoeven: Whiskers Whiskers Between 99 Dec 18 Jan Jan 2015 2015 Dec 2014 2014 – – 18 Fox Room Fox Reading Reading Room
Viviane Pikin Slee Slee Viviane Sassen: Sassen: Pikin 33 Feb Apr 2015 2015 Feb – – 12 12 Apr Lower Lower Gallery Gallery
33 Feb 2015 Feb – 12 Apr 2015 Upper Upper Gallery Gallery
Events Events ThePoundshop Poundshop The Dec2014 2014 1818– –2121Dec Artists’Film FilmClub: Club: Artists’ TheSixth SixthYear Year The Wed7 7Jan, Jan,6.45pm 6.45pm Wed CultureNow: Now: Culture EnricoDavid David&&Goshka GoshkaMacuga Macuga Enrico Jan, 1pm FriFri1616Jan, 1pm
DaThirst Thirst presents: presents: Da Haters Gonna Gonna Fête With Haters With Laura Laura O’Neill’s Power Power 100 100 Ping O’Neill’s Ping Pong Pong Sat 24 24 Jan, Jan, 4pm 4pm Sat ICA Quickfire: Quickfire: TJ TJ Demos ICA Demos Thu 29 29 Jan, Jan, 6.30pm 6.30pm Thu
Members’ Members’Sceening: Sceening: Harold Haroldand andMaude Maude Sun Sun28 28Dec, Dec,1pm 1pm London LondonShort ShortFilm FilmFestival Festival 99--18 18Jan Jan Cinemania: Cinemania:Hockney Hockney Wed 21 Jan, 4.30pm Wed 21 Jan, 4.30pm A Nos Amours: A Nos Amours: Chantal Akerman 16: D’Est Chantal Akerman 16: D’Est Thu 22 Jan, 7pm Thu 22 Jan, 7pm
Julie og Jimmy down ICA Julie og Jimmy down ICA Fri 16 Jan, 6.30pm Fri 16 Jan, 6.30pm
Foxcatcher Foxcatcher From 23 Jan From 23 Jan
TEXT2SPEECH: TEXT2SPEECH: Bloomberg New Contemporaries Bloomberg New6.30pm Contemporaries Wed 21 Jan, Wed 21 Jan, 6.30pm Institute of Contemporary Arts The MallofLondon SW1Y 5AH Institute Contemporary Arts 020 7930 3647, www.ica.org.uk The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647, www.ica.org.uk
The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848
The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848
MASTODON Now firmly established as the most formidable force in modern metal, Mastodon continue to confound critics and perceived genre limitations. Tom Watson went deep with the Atlantan monster men
BEST OF 2014 Appraising the last 12 months with a round up of the greatest tracks and albums that defined the year
ALEX G The gifted lo-fi songwriter budges up on a park bench to discuss his craft with James F. Thompson
EDITORIAL Assembling the fragments
RECOMMENDED Our guide to what’s coming up in your city
NEW MUSIC From the periphery
TURNING POINTS: PANDA BEAR Noah Benjamin Lennox has become one of indie’s foremost experimentalists. Angus Harrison asks him to retrace the steps he took along the way
POWELL The Diagonal Records prince cosies up with Steven Dores to explain the catharsis behind his blistering body music
PIPLOTTI RIST Three years ago, a sublime exhibition from Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist soothed Augustin Macellari’s hungover slumber. This month he went to see if she could repeat the trick
REVIEWS Gig reports, product reviews and our verdict on the latest releases in film and music
DIGRESSIONS Don’t Quit The Day Job, Ariel Pink’s seedy smirk, the crossword and advice from Denzil Schnifferman
20 QUESTIONS: JESSE F. KEELER The DFA1979 and MSTRKFT hero reveals a few home truths. Turns out he’s never really listened to Nirvana
MEDIASPANK Christopher Goodfellow attempts to summarise the cultural and political head-fuck that was 2014
AESTHETIC: YUKIMI NAGANO Little Dragon’s frontwoman Yukimi Nagano amplifies her vibrant style for Crack’s colour-saturated fashion shoot Shot exclusively for Crack by Tom Andrew London: November 2014
TIM SWEENEY Anna Tehabism meets one of electronic music’s cult curators while as he celebrates 15 years of homespun radio institution Beats in Space
TOPS The Montreal indie-pop outfit talk retro references, Montreal’s DIY scene and Mac DeMarco’s nutsack
December â€” January
12Craig Richards Terry Francis Acid Mondays Adam Beyer Adam Shelton
Akufen (Live) Amir Javasoul Bart Skils Ben Klock Brodanse Cari Lekebusch Citizen Cosmin TRG CW/A (Live) (Clockwork & Avatism) D'Julz Dungeon Meat (Live) Heartthrob John Digweed John Dimas (Live) Jonny Rock Josh Wink Lee Pennington Lucy Magda PBR Streetgang Peter Van Hoesen Philip Stirzaker Prosumer Ralph Lawson Recondite (Live) Reset Robot Rhadoo Ricardo Villalobos Scuba Seth Troxler Stacey Pullen Subb-an Tristan Da Cunha Tuccillo
Executive Editors Thomas Frost email@example.com Jake Applebee firstname.lastname@example.org Editor Geraint Davies email@example.com Marketing / Events Manager Luke Sutton firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor Davy Reed Junior Editor Anna Tehabsim Head Of Digital Content Billy Black Editorial Assistant Duncan Harrison Creative Director Jake Applebee Art Direction & Design Alfie Allen Design Graeme Bateman Film Editor Tim Oxley Smith Art Editor Augustin Macellari Fashion Charlotte James, Tom Andrew, Abigail Hazard, Amy Brandon, Darren Hau, John Heyes Contributors Christopher Goodfellow, Josh Baines, Denzil Schnifferman, Tom Watson, Angus Harrison, James F. Thompson, Rachel Mann, Jason Hunter, Steven Dores, Thomas Howells, Ruth Wiley, Jazz Monroe, Isis O'Regan, Alex Russell, Benjamin Salt, Robert Bates, Calah Singleton, Andrew Broaks, Adam Corner, Tamsyn Aurelia-Eros Black, Farah Hayes Photography Tom Brodinski, Chloe Rosolek, Jennifer Lo, Andrea Macchia, Chris Cooper, Simone Arena, Tim Sweeney, Tom Andrew Illustration Lee Nutland, Louis Labron-Johnson Advertising To enquire about advertising and to request a media pack: email@example.com 0117 2391219 CRACK is published by Crack Industries Ltd © 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.
NICKI MINAJ Big Daddy ft. Meek Mill
Crack is straining its brain backward. 2014 was a blur. A constantly fluctuating, constantly confounding, constantly blurry blur. But we can remember certain points. We can remember being beguiled by Kelela’s infectious, fearless creativity. We can remember Doom tucking his shimmering gold mask into his backpack and shuffling, anonymous, onto the streets of London. We can remember having to suppress a gasp when we heard Frank Black’s unmistakeable voice whistle down the phone-line. We can remember Todd Terje’s plaintive, charming gaze, and we can remember our endlessly challenging but vastly rewarding attempts to gain entry into Fatima Al Qadiri’s realm. We can remember the call when it was decided that FKA twigs had chosen us. We can remember being hopelessly charmed by the unerring optimism of the fiercely intelligent, fiercely motivated Caribou. We remember Interpol stalking New York’s streets with a focused, steadfast sense of place and ownership. We remember opening our own pub, The Christmas Steps. We remember Action Bronson barrelling through its doors, ordering everything on the menu, then barrelling up the stairs to pan-fry the fish himself. We remember Simple Things. Actually, that’s bullshit. We know it happened, but we can’t remember it. We can remember nestling alongside Ben UFO as the unassuming face of UK dance music mumbled down the microphone and across the radio waves. And as we sit here, contemplating the next 12 months, we imagine remembering devoting our final cover of the year not to one, but two stunning images of Yukimi Nagano, reflecting on the effortless crosssection of music, identity and fashion which defines her personal aesthetic. It’s unlikely we’ll ever stop remembering 2014. But memories are for slackers. 2015 is going to be truly unforgettable.
TOREY LANEZ Henny In Hand
Geraint Davies, Editor
COLLEEN GREEN Pay Attention AARON-CARL Wall Shaker LUCA LOZANO The Afterworld LANA DEL REY Old Money TRUST FUND Cut Me Out MSTRKRFT The Looks TOMMY WRIGHT III Gangsta Forever SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE Wax Chance BEHEMOTH O Father O Satan O Sun!
VIET CONG Continental Shelf MOTORCYCLE BOY Squalo MYKKI BLANCO New Feelings MIGOS Hit ‘Em FRANK OCEAN Memrise BIKINI KILL Capri Pants POWELL Club Music (Ancient Methods ‘Körpersaure91' Remix) DELROY EDWARDS Can U Get With VEREKER Flesh & Blood EKMAN GMMDI (Breaker 1 2 Remix) SMASHING PUMPKINS Tiberius DEAN BLUNT The Redeemer TINASHE + M.E.S.H Vulnerable (DAW Is My Sewer) GESLOTEN CIRKEL Vader THEO PARRISH Be In Yo Self JAM CITY Crisis LUBOMYR MELNYK Evertina CALIFORNIA LOVE Can't Waste Death DAVID BOWIE What In The World
Issue 47 | crackmagazine.net
Respect Nick Talbot Emma Van Duyts Joanne Robertson Sam Austin Lee Hawkins Amanda Hawkins Wil Troup Frank Fieber Phil Hughes Linda + Mike Sarah Rafael Eve Warlow
O ur g uid e t o w ha t 's g o ing o n in y o ur cit y
MESHUGGAH Roundhouse 20 December
RØDHÅD Corsica Studios 19 December
WHITE FENCE 100 Club 29 January £9 + BF HELENA HAUFF Dance Tunnel 19 December
SNOWBOMBING Skrillex, Âme, Modeselektor, Erol Alkan Mayrhofen, Austria 6-11 April Prices available at snowbombing.com
WILEY Garage 16 December
Shoop, shoop, shoop. Thump, thump, thump. Shoop, thump. And repeat. They may not seem like the most natural bedfellows, but there’s something about the formula of careering down the side of a mountain plus a soundtrack of world class electronic music that equals a really good holiday. Maybe it’s the effectiveness of freezing air as a hangover cure, or something to do with adrenaline or something. Either way, Austria’s Snowbombing is still the daddy, attracting increasingly heavyweight lineups to keep the ruddy-faced masses up all night. This year’s picks include brostep clown prince Skrillex, UK techno maven Benjamin Damage and Berlin big wigs Modeselektor. Thump. Shoop.
White Fence's prolific songwriter and main man Tim Presley is an enduring force in chilled out 60s-speckled rock music. His latest album For The Recently Found Innocent is a groovy affair that wrestles with retromania and tangles with the transcendental. Ice that with the fact he's also collaborated with indie demigod Ty Segall on a whole entire album. So if our recommendation's not enough, take it from Ty: this guy's totally cosmic. Grab your paisley and go get your freak out on.
SKEPTA + JME fabric 19 December
PARIAH Dance Tunnel 31 December
TOKIMONSTA Oval Space 12 February £15 E AT YOUR OWN E ARS, FIELD DAY + SHACKLEWELL ARMS XMAS PART Y w/ THE SMY THS Shacklewell Arms 18 December Free Entry While chowing down on our own appendages isn't exactly our idea of a yuletide celebration, we can certainly say we've had our fair share of jolly times courtesy of London uber promotors Eat Your Own Ears. There's no doubt in our minds that their Christmas Party will be a million miles from the one your slightly creepy boss has organised at the local branch of Slug + Lettuce. We're guessing less awkward mistletoe setups with the new intern and more drunken, arm-in-arm singalongs with your best mates to the pitch perfect rendition of This Charming Man The Smyths will undoubtedly be belting out.
CTM FESTIVAL Electric Wizard, Carter Tutti Void, Yung Lean & Sad Boys, E.E.K feat. Islam Chipsy Various Venues, Berlin 23 January - 1 February 2015 from 12 Euro
If you don't know Tokimonsta then get to know Tokimonsta at Oval Space. The California native puts a uniquely reflective spin on contemporary dance music and R&B with her brand of chopped up, lo-fi, hazy pop music that is just made for dark rooms full of sweating young humans. Her unfeasibly awesome remixes of tracks by the likes of Justin Timberlake and Jodeci stand as testament to her love of the genre and her penchant for trippy, eyecatching visuals should make for a great big party worthy of a great big room. An intriguing opening gambit from the brand new Ovation series.
Not many events can call hosting the likes of Visionist, Lee Gamble, Helena Hauff and Objekt at Berghain simply the warm-up, but in the case of CTM they've done exactly that. The festival teamed up with the PAN stronghold recently for a relatively fitting taster of what you can expect at the main event; a festival that highlights artists who frame their output with physicality. Asking 'how do sounds and frequencies affect us?', this year's 'Un Tune' theme selects a series of vast and viscerally rewarding venues in the likes of Berghain, Hebbel am Ufer theatre and renovated swimming pool Stattbad to host artists who know how to engage with the body. Highlights include post-punk veteran Craig Leon, Factory Floor and Chris & Cosy fusion Carter Tutti Void, Sad Boys' Yung Lean along with producers Suicideyear, Evian Christ and Emptyset. Expect pulsing body music and moments of carnal intensity in some of Berlin's most innovative spaces.
SLE AFORD MODS Electric Brixton 30 January
SLOWDIVE Forum 19 / 20 December
TIEF NYE Leon Vynehall, Arnaldo, Ben Sun Corsica Studios 31 December £25
The Tief Music label launched in impressive fashion last year with the Call Me Ishmael EP by Sisterhood, and has gone on to release music from Marco Bernardi, Johannes Volk and, more recently, the Marshmallows EP from London producer and house hero Mr. Beatnick. The label reflects the love of deep dancefloor cuts that has driven the South London club night from which it was born. Spelling out this stance at their Corsica Studios New Years Eve party, they've invited Leon Vynehall, Arnaldo, Ben Sun and Gerd Janson alongside Tief residents Sisterhood and Hesseltime.
SPACE DIMENSION CONTROLLER Oslo 20 December ROBERT HOOD XOYO 17 January
PERC Studio 338 26 December
SECRETSUNDA ZE 12 HOUR NYD Efdemin, Patrice Scott, Zenker Brothers The Laundry 1 January Prices vary
JESSIE WARE Brixton Academy 30 December
Efdemin's simultaneously warm, delicate and propulsive production has led many to fall head over heels for his sound. This year's album Decay showcased this stylish, graceful touch, yet his inspiring versatility behind the decks has seen him become a Panorama Bar resident, honing his elegant darkness alongside other Ostgut Ton mainstays. Catch the Dial Records stalwart at Secretsundaze's marathon 12-hour New Years Day celebrations, taking place at their regular haunt The Laundry. Playing alongside him is Detroit deep techno operator Patrice Scott, Ilian Tape's Zenker Brothers and head honchos James Priestley & Giles Smith.
JULIE VERHOEVEN: WHISKERS BET WEEN MY LEGS Fox Reading Room, ICA 9 December - 18 January
ALV VAYS Scala 28 January
WE CONCUR NYD 1 January Oval Space £25 FUMACA PRETA 18 January Corsica Studios
J MASCIS Scala 8 January
NENEH CHERRY + ROCKET NUMBER NINE Electric Brixton 28 January
Siberian techno icon Nina Kraviz has done a great job of launching her new label трип – pronounced ‘trip’. The label, said to become an outlet for the dusky, divergent and trippy music that Kraviz has become synonymous with, kickstarted with a double EP featuring two cuts of off-kilter techno from Terrence Dixon as well as veteran producers Exos and Steve Stoll. So you know you're in good hands on New Year’s Day with Kraviz at Oval Space, joined by Drumcode regular and Cocoon alum Alan Fitzpatrick and Recondite, who will be playing an exclusive extended live set. We've heard Oval Space has got plenty in store for 2015 and we're itching to find out more.
MARK L ANEGAN BAND Shepherds Bush Empire 28 January
EX HEX Oslo 10 February £10 + BF Remember Wild Flag? Their jerky, poppy post-punk made a real flash-inthe-pan impression during the early years of this decade. With half of that band recently opting to resurrect the beloved Sleater Kinney (and not a moment too soon), WF guitarist/vocalist Mary Timony is now thriving with a new band of her own. Barely 12 months on from their first show, Ex Hex are heading this way for the first time, and in Rips they’ve got a debut fulllength teeming with crunchy classic rock-pop, with hooks and choruses and all that other wholesome good stuff, to bring along for the ride.
FRITZ HAUSER Cafe OTO 3 February
Issue 48 | crackmagazine.net
Julie Verhoeven is the British artist primarily known for her work as an illustrator and fashion designer, collaborating with brands such as Louis Vuitton and Versace. With previous, bodaciously-titled shows like Salty Nipples, Fannying Around and Feathers up my Arse, her solo exhibitions are also a treat, displaying her multidisciplinary art that has graced Primal Scream vinyl sleeves and sees her regularly contribute to the likes of Dazed. For the ICA she creates an immersive installation – using an array of draped fabrics throughout the space – exploring themes of seduction, titillation and perversion. Titled Whiskers Between My Legs, the exhibition collects her increasingly interdisciplinary practice to create a distorted vision of female identity.
KING CREOSOTE Union Chapel 3 February
HORIZON FESTIVAL Moodyman, DJ EZ, Egyptian Lover Bankso Ski Resort, Bulgaria 7 - 13 March 2015 Prices vary It only launched in 2013, but it definitely hasn’t taken long for Horizon Festival to enter the conversations between music fans with a love for skiing and snowboarding. Over the course of the festival’s six nights, there’ll be 30 parties hosted in bizarre, flamboyant venues, and at the top of the bill you’ve got Detroit legend Moodymann, recent Crack cover star Ben UFO and the reliably awesome Move D. Worried about the cost? They’re doing an “apartment, festival and ski” package for only £259.
THE PEN TEST
YAMANEKO 2014 was a great year for Local Action. The London-based imprint has championed sounds from grime’s new wave and beyond, and they’ve capped the year off with the debut from Yamaneko, a London-based producer who’s gathered support from the likes of Mumdance and Logos. Titled Pixel Wave Embrace, the album is the second in a trilogy of sorts, following his Pixel Juice Mix and preceding the forthcoming Pixel Healing Spa. As those titles suggest, Yamaneko’s sound slips into a scene that identifies with music in terms of texture, building imagined environments for their electronic constructions – think PC Music’s supple plastic playground, the metallic brutalist structures of Night Slugs, or Fatima Al Qadiri’s untouchable China. Yamaneko melts his surroundings down across Pixel Wave Embrace, where aquatic imagery surfaces in the most unexpected of places. The LP could easily co-habit the same strange, metaphysical world created by Al Qadiri’s Hip-Hop Spa or Drexciya’s dystopian deep sea, yet its intoxicating mixture of watery imagery and influence in video game soundtracks and classic grime is its own entity entirely. As a result of his fondness for new age and meditational cassettes, this one’s been released on cassette rather than vinyl, and has already sold out of the first two releases. Now, where’s our Walkman?
The Pen Test’s chugging odes to Kraftwerk on their Interstate LP follow in similarly conceptual nature to the landmark Autobahn album. The Minneapolis-based duo’s hypnotic, steady arpeggios and dehumanised vocals come with a dense, cryptic press release, accrediting the LP’s theme as “an examination of the decline of car culture in American civic religion and the loss of its romanticism.” Indeed, far from the wistful imagination of Kraftwerk, Interstate’s 20-minute opener certainly chugs along through dim lit roads, exploring the highway as a dark, deluding, isolating place, paving the way for paranoia-induced nerv-pop and intertwining sensations of sincerity and delusion. Dead good.
They can count members of doom overlords Sons of Otis, the definitely NSFW hardcore band Cunter and Toronto post-hardcore heavyweights Moneen amongst their ranks – Canada’s Olde are a bonafide stoner-sludge supergroup. Their debut album I is a powerhouse lesson in unforgiving psychedelic metal and stoner rock riffage. Oodles of organic sounding distortion permeates the record’s tracks, most of which emerge from the elephantine, sluggish mire to squint at the acid-induced glare overhead. With nods to proto-metal drooling from their fuzzed out amplifiers and wobbling, wah-ing riffs emerging from the smoky haze, there’s a very groovy undercurrent that propels Olde’s very heavy sound.
O Roads That Lead Nowhere 1 Vanilla Fudge \ Electric Wizard : hypaethralrecords. bandcamp.com
LORENZO SENNI Filed under the curious genre category “ambient trance”, Milan artist Lorenzo Senni makes music that builds euphoric, garishly textured synths towards a desired drop that never happens, creating feelings of nostalgia, poignancy and frustration in equal measure. Senni’s musical journey began in 2005, when he moved to Milan from his hometown near Rimini (the capital of Italo disco) to live in a wealthy art collector’s warehouse. “We hosted Wolf Eyes, Peaking Lights, Emeralds there, and Kode9 played an afterparty – all illegal. This art collector knew everything about that,” he tells Crack during an interview at Turin’s Club To Club festival. He started experimenting with the formula he’s now known for some time ago, releasing his first album in 2008 via his own Presto?! imprint. So what compelled him to experiment with trance? “This reminds me of hanging out with my friends when I was young,” he says. “Even if I was not interested in the music, how can you be in a club where they’re playing huge trance anthems and not be involved emotionally?” So when playing live, has his concept ever rubbed a crowd up the wrong way? “I’ve had a very brutal reaction that I really liked. There was some drunk people and they were getting angry, they were kicked out of the club because they started fighting.” It’s not the most conventional idea of a successful club set, but for Senni, provoking any kind of impassioned response is the primary objective. “The music was growing, and growing and they expected a beat at some point,” he fondly recalls. “After 30 minutes, you get angry if you are high or drunk.”
O Interstate Can \ The Magnetic Fields soundcloud.com/thepentest KRISTA PAPISTA Krista Papista is a relatively unknown Londoner whose off-kilter pop shimmers with an influence that traverses Balearic house and techno, arty pop music and the eerie lyricism of The Knife. Her latest tune Bad F is a pulsating, 4/4 driven punch in the gut. Heavy, reverb laden synthy strings are reminiscent of a thousand tunes we’d forgotten from Ibiza Uncovered compilations, while subtle steel drums betray a flirtation with world music sounds. Sultry, unsettling lyrics and pounding beats underpin the whole thing to create a genuinely atmospheric body of post-industrial pop genius.
O Make Believe Paul Van Dyke \ Evian Christ soundcloud.com/sennilorenzo
FLIES + FLIES We’ve been keeping an eye on this London three-piece since their Bad Crab Hand 10” dropped earlier this year, and it’s charted an intriguing progression. That release caught the attention by layering minimal guitars over subtle electronic pads in a way not a million miles from Thom Yorke’s solo fare, before seeping into a blanket of warming noise courtesy of the rangy hum of the band’s secret weapon, the cello – not the most likely bedfellows, but an atmospheric and melodic tonal departure which felt resoundingly contemporary. They’ve since completed a perfectly pitched audio-visual installation with artist Nick Roberts in East London arts space Limewharf, received a thumbs up from perhaps the tastemaker Andrew Weatherall, and have recently taken the treacherous step of releasing a remix EP. And it’s testament to the band’s collective handle on their sound and its possibilities that they’ve managed to pull it off, with three potent reworks, the best of which sees Petwo Ewans strip the excellent Sufi of all humanity into clattering, tunnelling machine music.
O Sufi (Petwo Ewans mix) The Soft Moon \ Thom Yorke : fliesandflies.com
O Bad F The Knife \ ATB kristapapista.com
O Calotype Process 1 Imp Batch \ Drexciya soundcloud.com/yamaneko
Issue 48 | crackmagazine.net
O Listen To 1 File Next To : Online
BONOBO THE NORTH BORDERS TOUR: LIVE
DORIAN CONCEPT JOINED ENDS
MACHINEDRUM VAPOR CITY ARCHIVES
THE BUG ANGELS & DEVILS
DELS PETALS HAVE FALLEN
YOUNG FATHERS DEAD
KATE TEMPEST EVERYBODY DOWN
Turning Points: Panda Bear
As both Panda Bear and a founding member of Animal Collective, Noah Lennox has been responsible for some of the most celebrated and influential indie music of the last decade. His latest album, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, is another dense dose of his colourful individual palette. Despite the continuing successes of his solo work, catching up with Noah made it clear how highly he values collaboration. Throughout our conversation, as we plotted the formative moments in his life as a musician, the community of artists and friends around him play a tangible and ever significant role. Starting with his childhood, hearing his mother’s classical ballet waft through the house, Lennox’s constant mentions of the people around him made it clear he truly is part of a collective.
1986: Meeting Deakin (Josh Dibb) Josh and I went to the same school and met each other when we were eight. I still have an image in my brain of one of the teachers escorting him into the classroom and saying, “we have a new student in our class called Josh.” Meeting him, and then the other guys Dave (Porter, Avey Tare) and Brian (Weitz, Geologist), was probably the most influential occurrence for me both career wise and just in terms of music. Some of the first times playing with Dave I remember as well, we were both such shy and awkward dudes we just wanted to start making music so we didn’t have to talk.
“If you told me 15 years ago I would be making a song with Daft Punk it would have seemed totally crazy”
2007: The release of Person Pitch The reaction was a total surprise. I liked the album but I felt the same way as I have with everything I’ve made. You work on a thing, fine tune it, and then let it go. Typically I’m pretty excited, but everything that came after that one was a particular surprise. I made the whole record in Lisbon, right after I moved there and it was only using what was available to me. I had just flown over from New York and was working with this little bag of stuff. Just my laptop and a sampler I brought over. I could only work with these limited resources, but I guess it worked out OK. 2012: Working with Daft Punk I feel like working with Daft Punk was a bigger moment for me personally than it was publicly. If you told me 15 years ago I would be making a song with them it would have seemed totally crazy. We had asked them to remix My Girls as a shot in the dark, they replied saying they dug the track but remixes weren’t really their thing anymore. We kept in e-mail contact and they eventually said they were working on new stuff. Later that spring they said they had this track that maybe I’d like to sing on. It all panned out pretty slowly over a couple of years, which has sort of been a theme of my career. For the most part it happens gradually but I think that’s better, to take things as they come and keep the engines burning. Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper is released 12 January via Domino
2000: Forming Animal Collective We all arrived in New York at various times, Josh and I were studying in Boston but the four of us had continued to trade tapes of what we were working on. I went there one summer to visit my then girlfriend and just never went back to school. I didn’t really have a plan at the time, unfortunately for my parents – it’s not really what they wanted to hear! I think we shared a lot of important moments early on. We had our first tour with Black Dice and for me it became a model. Seeing the way they set up and roadied for themselves was really inspiring. We also recorded a track with Arto Lindsay in 2002 which was our first time recording with an established artist in a proper studio. That was a big moment. 2004: Moving to Lisbon The move was a big deal, both moving away from New York and away from Animal Collective as a band. We were wary of it, but pretty quickly we realised it was only going to be a positive force. It allowed us to take a breath and now every time we do get back together we haven’t seen each other for a while so we know we are super invested in it. It also meant I had more time by myself, which was certainly helpful recording as Panda Bear. It allowed me the time and space to pick my own battles. Issue 48 | crackmagazine.net
Words: Angus Harrison
Trampled under hoof: facing detractors and mortality head on, the onwards march of the Mastodon shows no sign of relenting It begins like any other archetypal music video treatment. Blinkered crane shots braided with irregular closeups of the band imitating their best sham performance. Quasi-religious imagery swathed in postproduced sepia connote opaque referencing to the occult. Half-naked men sheathed in chains carry dumbbells as cloaked figures recite passages from the Necronomicon. All the while, scantly clad ladies drop down low, pounding their rumps with the buoyancy of a hot air balloon. This was the abridged storyboard for Mastodon’s latest single, the winding, undulating The Motherload. Its farcical derision treading a familiar path to their canon of off-the-wall video concepts. But as the band play-acted around their leotard-laden ladies, the images seemed to strike the wrong chord with its audience. The idea backfired, offending flocks of self-righteous puritans. They just couldn’t handle the abstract notion of twerking over a metal song. “We wanted it to be about real female power,” says Brann Dailor, Mastodon’s infinitely adroit drummer and singer. “Like they were completely in charge, we were just bystanders.” The Motherload’s negative response came as an abysmal shock to Dailor. He speaks with this playful sincerity, one that is instantly engaging even on his concerns of the video’s misinterpretation. “I was very surprised by the reaction. People accused it of pertaining some sort of male gaze but we were just staring at our instruments. Everyone else was just having a party that turned into a Beat It style dance. “Before the shoot we thought how odd would it be for there to be twerking in a Mastodon video but also how inclusive it would be. I feel like heavy metal is one of those genres that doesn’t let that element in. We’re not on a social crusade or anything but if you want to start trying to blur the lines then start making the lines blurry. It’s about inviting people to the party. Everybody’s welcome.” But the dysphoria continued. The press publicly persecuted Mastodon, demanding an explanation. “People were calling me
asking to defend it and I don’t want to defend it. We made friends with a lot of girls in the video and I don’t want them to feel like they did anything wrong because they didn’t. It really saddened me. I feel like if the video would have been sexist in any way, my wife who was working on the shoot would have said something.” One of the dancers in question, a poledance student with a background in African American literature and cultural theory named only as Jade, was outspoken in her defence of the experience. In a Tumblr post, she stressed that “This video proves that metal can reach out and can be reached out to without parody, without hierarchy, and it is a good thing.” This is just one of many newsworthy events that has kept Mastodon in the public eye throughout an unruly 2014. Having released their sixth studio album, Once More ‘Round the Sun in June, the group’s popularity spored with burgeoning potency. Statistically, it has been their most successful record to date, climbing to sixth place on the Billboard charts. Active since the turn of the millennium, Mastodon’s progress has charted an unyielding exponential growth. The first track of their first album Remission, the prophetically titled Crusher Destroyer, and marked the elevation of sludge metal to previously uncharted territory. The four fearless, hirsuite warriors from Atlanta (Dailor’s bandmates are bassist Troy Sanders and guitarist/woodsman Brent Hinds, both of whom contribute to the band’s textured web of voices, plus guitarist Bill Kelliher) gradually, through a combination of jaw-dropping musicianship and immeasurable conceptual ambition, set about establishing a catalogue of constantly expanding, preconception-eviscerating majesty. Their 2004 sophomore Leviathan was a pitch-perfect concept album tracing the narrative of Hermann Melville’s Moby Dick via elephantine grooves, sporadic splashes of searing aggression and the kind of lolloping thrash sea-shanties you never knew could exist. It sits comfortably as one of metal’s greatest achievements. Refusing to settle, the four albums which
have come in its wake have witnessed an increasing embroilment in the tangled twines of prog, a growing focus on crystalline vocal delivery and melodic dual guitar leads, as well as Dailor’s increasing establishment as the most revered drummer in modern metal. They’ve also seen record sales, critical acclaim and venue sizes swell with a juggernaut-like predictability. “I guess we’re one of those bands that slipped through the cracks,” Dailor speaks with cogent modesty. “We’re not supposed to be as popular as we are. Of course we’ll take it but stats don’t really mean anything.” And considering the cyclonic year Dailor’s had, it’s no surprise he bears this mindset. Recording Once More… was no easy feat for anyone involved. Dailor begins to take long drawn out pauses, starting and restarting statements making sure he phrases everything with tender grace. He refers to a great deal of his troubles as ‘the situation’. “As far as Mastodon’s concerned everything is thriving. It’s an unstoppable plant growing in the garden. You don’t tend to it and it’s five times bigger. But personally, it’s been a hard year. Right in the middle of recording Once More… my mum got really ill and I had to leave straight away. “I didn’t even think about it. I said ‘Dudes, I’ll keep you updated.’ They were all really concerned and worried about the situation … I think everyone had some kind of inspiration from it all. I’d get little updates here and there. They’d send me Brent’s guitarwork over what I had done so I was kept in the loop. By the time I finally got back to the studio the amount of concern from the guys was overwhelming. They were just really sad about the whole situation at hand. They didn’t know where I was going to be at mentally. I had written a shitload of lyrics while I was with my mum in the hospital and was just ready to get going again.” As devastating as the situation may have been, it spurred a creative awakening in Mastodon. In that sense it mirrored the making of their 2009 album Crack The Skye, an elemental vision of Tsarist Russia and a tribute to Dailor’s sister who took her
Issue 48 | crackmagazine.net
Words: Tom Watson Photography: Tom Brodinski
own life at the age of just 14. It was that album which drew him further to the band’s conceptual, lyrical and vocal fore. “When going into Once More… we were all just expecting business as usual, but life isn’t really like that, is it? My wife always says ‘life can get really life-y sometimes’. But you deal with it. It’s the aftermath now and that is currently what I’m dealing with. My grandfather always said there are things worse than death. I deal with that idea by being on tour. It’s hard for me to control a lot of things that are happening back at home. I wish it wasn’t like this. I wish things were different but this is how I support myself and this is how I’m able to maybe take care of my mum. It’s me being out here playing rock shows and trying to get paid for it. I guess like everyone else I’m winging it, trying to figure it all out as we go along.” Thankfully, Once More… encapsulates the band figuring it out; figuring out how to be the best band they can be. It’s an emotional footer for how much they have achieved collectively. “Every album is released with the same amount of apprehension,” Dailor admits casually, “I always have confidence in the material and I have confidence that when we’re ready to release something it’s
“The band members will die. Mastodon won’t”
ready to be heard by everyone. But one of the things you have absolutely zero control over is whether someone likes something or not or why the hell they like it in the first place. Do they like it because their friends like it? Do they like it because they really truly like it? Do they break up with their girlfriend and for some reason they heard this record and it struck a chord? “I think with this record in particular we maintained that perfect balance. It’s a really good live record. The songs come to life when we’re playing them for you. And that’s what albums have become really; more of a promotional tool for the live show.”
To see Mastodon live is to realise their potential as a band with all the right intentions to transfigure outworn misconceptions of metal music. But is their ability to grow like that untended plant in the garden never-ending? “The band will die and I’m guessing that the band will stop before the people in the band die,” Dailor laughs with his Atlantan sass, “I don’t even want to entertain the idea of the guys in the band being fed up with each other and moving on. I just don’t see it. We‘re a family. No one wants to die but it’s going to happen. I know I’m the first one to tell you. It’s crazy to even think about. However the
band members will die. Mastodon won’t. We have six albums now. Mozart’s been dead for over 200 years and I listen to him on a weekly basis. I hope there will always be a new person that will discover Mastodon long after my death. We will live forever!” Once More Round The Sun is out now via Reprise
Winter Warmers 2014
WaRning Sign (CD/2xLP)
Unreleased Vinyl Session 09-013
Original Soundtrack by Cho Young-Wuk
Original Soundtrack by Craig Safan
Limited edition (of 750) orange/white swirl vinyl and (750) black/white splatter variant / DL card
Limited edition orange vinyl (of 500) / DL card Artwork by Laurent Durieux
Limited edition (of 750) red/white splatter vinyl includes Download Card
Limited edition (of 1250) orange vinyl / DL card Limited edition (of 1250) yellow vinyl / DL card
Original TV Soundtrack by Brian Reitzell
Original TV Soundtrack by Brian Reitzell
Original TV Soundtrack by Brian Reitzell
Original TV Soundtrack by Brian Reitzell
Season 1 Volume 1 (2xLP) Black Vinyl and ‘Tannum Brown’ variant includes DL Card (1000 of each pressed)
Season 1 Volume 2 (2xLP) Black Vinyl and ‘Amarone Grape’ variant includes DL Card (1000 of each pressed)
Season 2 Volume 1 (2xLP) Black Vinyl and ‘Travertine Grey’ variant includes DL Card (1000 of each pressed)
Season 2 Volume 2 (2xLP) Black Vinyl and ‘Hemochrome Red’ variant includes DL Card (1000 of each pressed)
Releasing Vinyl LPs, Collectable Editions, CD & Digital since 2003 www.invada.co.uk faR CRy: 4 (2xCD/3xLP) Original Game Soundtrack by Cliff Martinez Double CD out December, Triple LP available February 2015
t e i f t di u o in n g l a IY r i e r o D me ss t n d im o l o g M P S sh p TO th a f p o wi er o lay Words: James F. Thompson Photography: Chloe Rosolek
You think you didn’t see it but you did. Around one minute and forty-seven seconds into the video for Way to Be Loved, the latest single from Canadian dream pop outfit TOPS, fellow Canuck Mac DeMarco makes an eye-searing appearance. The camera lingers as a shirtless DeMarco dances seductively under a soft focus light, before abruptly panning down to a shot of his crotch. Right then, apropos of nothing, we’re treated to a full-frontal view of indie rock’s man of the moment fondling his own balls. Pitchfork, Stereogum and a host of other music news outlets picked up on the band’s sly act of subversion back in September, and since then DeMarco’s testicles – and TOPS themselves – have left an indelible mark on the blogosphere and beyond. “A lot of kids found the band because of that,” sniggers frontwoman Jane Penny, speaking over Skype from a promoter’s house in Berlin. “The song is supposed to be about being who you are and the roles that people play, so I suppose it only made sense that he would be the craziest person in the video.” DeMarco and his nutsack may have inadvertently gifted TOPS a canny marketing strategy but the band were genuinely keen to have him involved in any capacity, naked or otherwise. “It’s cool to get a glimpse of him in there because he grew up in the same city as us,” Penny says. “We all used to live in the same building too,” explains guitarist David Carriere as he finishes his coffee and joins Penny at the microphone. “So
apart from the Artubus scene, I suggest, in that for a lot of other people it’s a bit anachronistic. Penny pauses as she figures out a diplomatic response. “We’re a real band though! I find the solo stuff is more persona-based, you know? It’s more about that person’s laptop. They want all the control and shit. I’m not deriding it, it’s just different.”
it was just like, we’d seen him naked before, you know?” TOPS got started in Montreal back in 2011 following the dissolution of synthpop group Silly Kissers, of which both Penny and Carriere were members. The pair recruited drummer Riley Fleck and Madeline Glowicki on bass and the newlyminted foursome immersed themselves in the city’s DIY loft space scene, where they bumped into people like DeMarco, Claire Boucher (Grimes) and Doldrums. Central to all of this were Sebastian Cowan and Arbutus Records, who acted as kind of arbiters of the scene. Cowan quickly signed TOPS to Arbutus and the label has since become a clearing house for Canada’s up and coming pop music adventurists. Aesthetically at least, TOPS seem to share precious little with their esoteric stable mates. Where somebody like Grimes has built a career on expanding and transmogrifying pop music’s boundaries, TOPS seem quite happy operating within them, earning themselves comparisons with the likes of FM radio mainstays Fleetwood Mac. “Yeah but the city just allows people to do whatever they want though, so I guess that’s what the community is,” Carriere offers in reply. “Everybody who’s making music in Montreal now seems to be doing whatever the hell they feel like.” New album Picture You Staring was actually recorded in a spare room in the Arbutus Records studio using some leftover equipment. In some ways the idea of even recording in a studio sets TOPS
Either way, the extra space and hardware allowed the band’s sugary aesthetic to blossom. The result is a record that sounds like a magpie’s haul of shiny pop nuggets from the past 30 years, with Circle the Dark’s jangly guitar lines bringing to mind Johnny Marr’s handiwork for the Smiths and the breezy rhythm of Blind Faze sounding not dissimilar to something from 80s synth rockers Romeo Void. Recent single Outside has come in for particular praise as a spaced-out slow-burner with a beat that seems to channel Berlin’s Take My Breath Away. All the same, Penny and Carriere are keen to disavow any notion that Picture You Staring just represents a guided tour through the annals of rock and roll. “It’s definitely not like wandering through a record store and choosing a section or something,” Penny says. “People drop references to bands from the 70s that songs remind them of, but think about all the shit nobody even remembers, or some of the really obscure shit that people only find out about later. Like that shit is more relevant and known now in 2014 than it ever was in the 80s, you know?” Ultimately, Carriere has the final word on the band’s perceived nostalgia: “I think because of the instruments we use, like the guitar, the bass and the drums, those are just the instruments people have always used. So it’s very easy for that music to sound like it’s from a certain time,” he states. “I think a lot about music hasn’t changed, and the feeling and the vision – the voice of the music – could only come from today. So I encourage people as much as possible to listen to the tracks that we’ve made then make their own minds up.” Picture You Staring is out now via Arbitus Records
Issue 48 | crackmagazine.net
To celebrate the show’s 15-year milestone, BiS released a double-disc mix-CD of exclusive tracks alongside a selection of classics from the likes of John Talabot and Carl Craig. Naturally, it’s coming
But times change, and the rapid ascent of the label had a tangible effect. “The thing
The show’s archives boasts sets from iconic acts like DJ Harvey, Dâm-Funk and Juan Atkins while weekly guests remain some of the most sought after selectors on the planet such as Prins Thomas, Ben UFO and Gerd Janson. But BiS provides a platform for artists that reaches far beyond the faceless podcast, consciously preserving the spontaneity of human interaction. “When people come in and have a couple of drinks, there’s a community feeling, it just gives it more character in a way,” Sweeney tells me. “I want to get that friendliness across, to show what that person is like when you’re sat down talking to them. If they’re an asshole, I want it to show that they’re an asshole.”
After meeting Tim Goldsworthy at New York’s Plant Bar, he began helping out in the studio as a production assistant, just prior to Goldsworthy starting DFA Records alongside James Murphy. This had an undeniable influence on Sweeney’s formative years, and as that heady mixture of house, disco and post punk began to dominate New York dance floors, giving both the city’s nightlife and the Beats in Space ratings a significant boost along with it, Sweeney would head out on tour with the “DFA family”. As he tells me as we're sat in a cosy Bristol pub, where he’s already spent the day with Goldsworthy, “I was 10 years younger and really excited to be out on the road with these guys, it was amazing to see how excited people were to see DFA at the time. I couldn’t believe I was there.”
One thing that has maintained longevity is Sweeney’s Tuesday night slot, taking place from 10.30pm to 1am without fail for 15 years. Yet the show remains inextricably linked to the rejuvenation of New York’s nightlife, and while it has outgrown the city’s borders, is warmly regarded for maintaining a sense of true New York hospitality. Sweeney likens it to another New York institution. “All the L.I.E.S. guys besides Ron [Morelli - label boss] are terrible at promoting themselves, and Ron’s a character and it’s awesome for them – he’s helped this culture of people who are socially awkward and quiet put out their fucked up music and built up this following through it,” he muses. “I can see the radio show being a similar outlet for these people who are socially awkward. They can come on the radio show and we can work through that.”
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Though he’s now a touring DJ in his own right, radio has always been the focus for Sweeney. Through the “eye-opening” experiences of raves and the boundary-less approach of London pirate radio, a young Sweeney became enamoured with the feeling of tapping into a wealth of music he simply couldn’t hear anywhere else. Moving to New York from his Baltimore home at the age of 18, he first hit the waves of WNYU 89.7 as an NYU freshman in 1999, playing a mixture of Mo’ Wax and early Warp Records. Strikingly determined, at the same time he also began interning for celebrated hip-hop DJ and radio jock Steinski, and it wasn’t long before Sweeney would make another important acquaintance.
that sucks was that it was so tight knit then, and people get bigger and bigger and it’s not tight anymore,” he explains, alluding to last year’s news that DFA Records accused Goldsworthy of 'unjust enrichment' and subsequently sued him for a significant sum. It came as a shock to long-term fans of the label. “It’s a crazy thing, people change, and it’s a weird experience to see how money affects things. That family feeling is a really nice thing, but it definitely does not last for long.”
L ong li ve B eat si n
It’s Friday night, and Tim Sweeney takes to the decks in a disused court house in Bristol. After courteously placing the crowd’s surplus belongings behind him on the stage, he proceeds to play a four hour mixture of cosmic house, burnt out techno and leftfield oddities, beaming for the entirety. The feeling is familiar, yet the sense of place seems skewed, because Sweeney usually upholds this nice-guy reputation from the helm of his New York-based radio show Beats In Space. Acting as an ambassador for new, old and experimental sounds and warm, down-toearth conversation, Sweeney has become one of electronic music’s most cherished assets.
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out on the label arm of the show, active since 2011. Having released impeccably packaged music by Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Paradis, Secret Circuit and more on the imprint already, Sweeney’s hoping the compilation will give it a well-earned boost. “To get people to think that music is worth something is really hard right now,” he admits. “I’m almost adding to that giving away mentality with the radio. But we’re putting so much effort into the sleeves and the sound quality, so when things don’t sell it’s the biggest bummer in the world. I love doing the record label but I feel like I’m still finding my way.” Over a decade and a half, BiS has attracted a devoted fan base. Though there are none more devoted than ‘Victor From Washington Heights’, a disgruntled New York native and committed listener who has bombarded the hotline with over 600 messages – occasional threats, scant praise, and endless sources of complaint – since the show’s inception. He never misses a week, and it’s a source of both comfort and fear for Sweeney.
show who this person is. You can learn a lot about a person from how they write too. Do they do drawings here? Do they write over the white space? It’s just adding that personal touch, trying to show more than this perfect pre-programmed PR thing, everything managed and perfect,” he stresses. “Fuck that, that’s not what I want for the show. I want someone to come on and connect on that personal level.” Building an adoring following through sheer dedication, it’s unlikely BiS will be slowing down any time soon. As for the next 15 years? Sweeney looks set to champion esoteric tastes and charmingly all-overthe-place interviews, just for the love. “I’m losing money on it but I don’t care, it’s how I want to leave my little chunk in the world. I’d rather do something really fucking cool than make loads of money and run,” he enthuses. “I like going for broke.” Listen to Beats In Space at beatsinspace.net. The Beats In Space 15th Anniversary compilation is out now
“He’s just a crazy person, that’s why I put it online in the beginning, because I thought he was going to kill me,” Sweeney laughs. “That’s what makes him so interesting though, he’s on the edge of insanity, yet he is there and together. I still haven’t figured it out. I don’t know who he is, what he looks like, how much of his story is true or false, I don’t really believe he works at Goldman Sachs and earns millions of pounds to fund his house parties with girls throwing their panties in the air.” He continues, keen to see the positives in his longtime adversary, “But that’s what’s great about radio. He’s a real character and it’s special and specific to New York. Because of the internet everything’s become so cross pollinated and it’s hard to have one scene in one city like it was before in Detroit or Chicago, and Victor is this slice of New York. He doesn’t know that he’s famous – for some people, to get Victor’s hate is a stamp of approval, it’s crazy the connection he’s made.” This endearing snapshot is key to the BiS legacy, and the show’s warm, downto-earth appeal adorns the hundreds of polaroids Sweeney has taken of his guests. A simple idea, its execution has become near iconic. “The polaroid is a chance to
Issue 48 | crackmagazine.net
Words: Anna Tehabsim Photography: Beats in Space
Albums Of The Year 2014 There are certain moments when you hear a piece of music, and you just know. You know the second an album ends that it’s going to be with you for life. We can’t promise that’s the case for all the albums here; many provided momentary flashes of inspiration, others were symptomatic of a greater cause, and there’s probably a handful that come the end of 2015 we’ll barely remember. There’s always that chance. But as you slide up to the higher echelons of our list, you’ll find a selection of albums that we swear by, that we’re proud to put our name to. And as for our number one? Well, we just knew. Contributors: Anna Tehabsim, Rachel Mann, Geraint Davies, Davy Reed, Duncan Harrison, Jason Hunter, Steven Dores, Thomas Frost, Tom Watson, Thomas Howells, Ruth Wiley, Jazz Monroe, Billy Black, Josh Baines, Angus Harrison
MARIAH CAREY I Am Mariah ... The Elusive Chanteuse Def Jam
SPOOK Y BL ACK Black Silk Self-released
KIASMOS Kiasmos Erased Tapes
Half a decade out of the spotlight, a full decade on from The Distillers’ seminal Coral Fang, and fresh from the nourishing, if hugely trying, experience of motherhood – as a musician, Diploid Love proved the passage of time had served Brody Dalle well. A more holistic worldview replaced the gnarled angst of old, resulting in a truly emancipatory solo debut. The digital sheen could barely contain the brawny, powerful rock songs at its core, while a string of high-profile collaborators never drew focus from the chiselled, powerful woman stood front-and-centre. RM
Three years in the making, Carey’s 13th album was a luxurious opus. Pillowy pop ballads, wistful odes to nostalgia and lyrics about angels’ tears mingle with smoochy Miguel collabs, Mike WiLL Made-It-penned club tracks and brazenly liberal uses of photoshop. It radiates offhand fabulousness and a heroic self-belief that is defiantly, selfindulgently Mariah – just like that title. AT
BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE Revelation A Records
MA X GR AEF Rivers Of The Red Planet Tartelet Records
LEE BANNON Alternate/Endings Ninja Tune
DE ATH GRIPS Niggas on the Moon Self-released
BRODY DALLE Diploid Love Queen Of Hearts
NEHRUVIANDOOM NehruvianDOOM Lex Records
TOPS Picture You Staring Arbutus Records
INTERPOL El Pintor Matador
OLIVER WILDE Red Tide Opal In The Loose End Womb Howling Owl
MERCHANDISE After The End 4AD
HTRK Psychic 9-5 Club Ghostly International
MANIC STREET PREACHERS Futurology Columbia
WARPAINT Warpaint Rough Trade
JOEY ANDERSON After Forever Dekmantel
WHITE LUNG Deep Fantasy Domino
Masters of in-your-face bombast and twisted sonic recycling, they’ve never before plumbed the depths seen on Niggas On The Moon, the first half of the band’s final album The Powers That B. Industrial and structureless, even the moments where a certain swing emerges felt curiously joyless. MC Ride, who has made an art of confrontation, sounded hopeless, even desperate, while Björk’s vocals were muddled and mangled into infinity, captive in the dense, harrowing realm. It was a bad vibe ridden and escalated; a profoundly negative experience, and a profoundly effective one. GHD
PHILIPP GORBACHEV Silver Album Cómeme
MOGWAI Rave Tapes Rock Action
WHITE FANG Full Time Freaks Metal Postcard
NENEH CHERRY Blank Project Smalltown Supersound
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM Celestite Artemisia
LIL HERB Welcome To Fazoland Self-released
WILEY Snakes & Ladders Big Dada
After Chief Keef’s rally cry Bang became a viral hit back in 2011, the subsequent wave of Chicago drill seemed so nihilistic, so austere that it was hard to imagine where the movement could go from there. But Lil Herb belongs to a second generation of even younger drill rappers who’ve applied a more lyrical approach to the genre’s darkly dramatic, high-octane beats. And with Herb’s wise-beyondhis-years perspective, emotional depth and agile style, Welcome To Fazoland was this year’s most affecting reflection of Chicago’s troubles. DR
ARCA Xen Mute
SHELL AC Dude, Incredible Touch and Go Records
Beneath all the next-hype production clientele, the PVC heavy photo shoots and the lunch dates with Björk, Venezuelan closed book Arca put out an LP that had depth, serious sonic ambition and clear vision, without quite boasting a wealth of full-formed songs. From the mainframe disorder of Thievery to the hysterical faux-euphoria chords of the title track, Arca explored the cosmos of Xen and created one of the year’s most attention-grabbing, if not quite -sustaining, debuts. The next step will be the most intriguing. DH
As pale imitators continue to borrow and peddle their tropes wholesale, it was pretty vital to receive one of those once-ortwice-a-decade reminders of the status quo from Steve Albini and his gnarled cohorts. It’s difficult to go far wrong when the core of your band is the bitter spirit of punk rock malevolence incarnate; the beacon of independent pigheadedness; the peerless icon of an anti-movement. Stripped back to Shellac’s composite parts, Dude, Incredible was pure impact. GHD
E AST INDIA YOUTH Total Strife Forever Stolen Recordings
MYKKI BL ANCO Gay Dog Food UNO NYC
RE AL ESTATE Atlas Domino
RICHARD DAWSON Nothing Important Weird World
ST VINCENT St Vincent Loma Vista
LIARS Mess Mute
FATIMA Yellow Memories Eglo
SCHOOLBOY Q Oxymoron Top Dawg Entertainment
FLYING LOTUS You're Dead! Warp
Our memories – those constant revisions of our past – are more disjointed, distorted and fluid than we’d probably like to admit. On Nothing Important, Newcastle’s Richard Dawson took us on an exploration of the deep recesses of his psyche, scratching at emotional wounds to revisit childhood games of football, a formative experiment with alcohol during a school trip and the loss of an infant sibling. With his chaotic, undisciplined guitar playing, Dawson unleashed the kind of feelings we’ve all tried to keep inside. A beautiful, complicated mess. JH
THE WAR ON DRUGS Lost In The Dream Secretly Canadian
LIT TLE DR AGON Nabuma Rubberband Because Music
SESSION VICTIM See You When You Get There Delusions Of Grandeur
HOOK WORMS The Hum Domino
METRONOMY Love Letters Because Music
MAC DEMARCO Salad Days Captured Tracks
GREYS If Anything Carpark Recods
OBJEK T Flatlands PAN
LOWER Seeking Warmer Climes Matador
With Flatland, Objekt expanded upon the twitchy IDM codas that populated the spaces between the cataclysmic sub-bass and mind-bending arrangements of his previous singles, diving feet-first into freezing cold, hi-res soundworlds previously only occupied by the upper echelons of electronic music. “Mr Hertz, you have done well. Join us.” SD
THE W Y TCHES Annabel Dream Reader Partisan
TOM VEK Luck Moshi Moshi
YOUNG MARCO Biology ESP Institute
J MASCIS Tied To A Star Sub Pop
APHEX T WIN Syro Warp
MOODYMANN Moodymann KDJ
CARIBOU Our Love City Slang
TINASHE Aquarius RCA
THE ANTLERS Familiars Transgressive
PERFECT PUSSY Say Yes To Love Captured Tracks
No one does it like Moodymann, and he outdid himself on this year’s self-titled ode to everything Moody. Among his classic concoction of jazz chords, rich, layered soul and roller-rink jams, Kenny Dixon Jr. put his character at the forefront with his crooned croaks and deep, intimate slurs more prominent than ever. Between tongue-in-cheek interludes and heavy references to Detroit, he’s at points a troubled lover, the next a 70s gangster, or the snarling figure on the cover, bottle in hand, draped in a bikiniclad harem; always a ladies’ man. AT
LUST FOR YOUTH International Sacred Bones
GESOLTEN CIRKEL Submit X Murder Capital Not much information has surfaced about the enigmatic Gesloten Cirkel since his arrival in 2009. The cult techno producer is supposedly based in Russia, yet his sound is rooted in The Hague, honing his decidedly singular, finely twisted electro flavoured techno on mostly Dutch labels, including this debut album on I-F’s Murder Capital label. Excelling in his undeniably fierce take on paranoid electro, breakneck techno and vintage darkwave, Submit X‘s wall-to-wall slammers were ferocious yet funky, and seeped in character and style that’s difficult to overstate. AT
TORN HAWK Through Force Of Will Not Not Fun
GOAT Commune Rocket Recordings
BEN FROST AURORA Mute
FATIMA AL Q ADIRI Asiatisch Hyperdub
SUN KIL MOON Benji Caldo Verde
ENO & HYDE High Life Warp
MILLIE & ANDRE A Drop The Vowels Modern Love
ALEX G DSU Orchid Tapes
THEO PARRISH American Intelligence Sound Signature
CLOUD NOTHINGS Here and Nowhere Else Carpark Records
PERC The Power And The Glory Perc Trax
FUTURE ISL ANDS Singles 4AD
Possibly the surprise package of the year. Hands up who expected Underworld’s Karl Hyde and Brian Eno to produce an album of such startling and charming quality – particularly after their first attempt, Someday World, proved so disappointing back in March? But take two, High Life, enamoured at every turn, from the simplicity of the elating opener Return, clocking in at nine minutes of beguiling simplicity and layering, to the lifting and warming Lilac, and compelling closing prayer of Cells and Bells. In a year where bleakness reigned, High Life was a multi-faceted beam of sunshine. TF YG My Krazy Life Pu$haz Ink \ CTE World \ Def Jam
TR A XMAN Da Mind Of Traxman Vol.2 Planet Mu With a history in Chicago ghetto house and juke that spans decades, it’d be fair to call Corky “Traxman” Strong an elder statesman among the city’s thriving footwork community. While a lot of the content among Teklife’s prolific Bandcamp output aims to be as frenetic as possible, Vol.2 is comprised of more restrained, spacious experiments. But don’t be fooled – for all its intriguing technical details, this is music for the soul, and a warm soundtrack for stoned, sun-soaked afternoons in the city. DR
FREDDIE GIBBS & MADLIB Piñata Madlib Invazion
Perc doesn’t fuck about. If you’ve ever borne witness to one of his brutalist DJ sets you’ll know exactly what we mean. The Power And The Glory was the distillation of all that rage and power and confrontation burnt to CD. It sounds like it’s been literally burnt on, too. You can throw politics at this album if you like, and it’s the abstraction prevalent in the music that allows most things to stick, but it’s one of the most vital electronic albums of recent times built, burnt, and bellowed by one of its most vital operators. SD
ACTRESS Ghettoville Ninja Tune \ Werkdiscs
SD L AIK A That's Harakari Tri Angle
BEHEMOTH The Satanist Nuclear Blast Nothing compared to the schismatic grandeur of Behemoth’s tenth studio album. Having spent the past five years on the fringes of demise, frontman Nergal leered at his festered leukaemia head-on and won. The result is this heretical incubus of hell. Not only is this the most polished Behemoth record to date but it’s the most delphic 45 minutes of their 20 year career in metal. Behemoth breathe the breath of Hades and chant to the ungodly tune of eternal damnation – it’s no wonder that Nergal survived such a malignant disease. The Satanist could be what saved him. TW
SLE AFORD MODS Divide + Exit Harbinger Sound
ROMAN FLUGEL Happiness Is Happening Dial
E AGULLS Eagulls Partisan Records
ANGEL OLSEN Burn Your Fire For No Witness Jagjaguwar
ANDY STOT T Faith In Strangers Modern Love
WILDEST DRE AMS Wildest Dreams Smalltown Supersound
GROUPER Ruins Kranky Records
“Harvey, look at me man, god damn it!” But I was miles away. Somewhere between this life and the next. Floating on the Mojave sun. Hell I could have been anywhere. When I came to the man in the blue suit had his .44 magnum pointed at my face and all I could say was “Damn, friend, would you put that thing away?” He slung it back. “Harv man, I thought we’d lost you there!” I told him to chill, take it easy. He had this look, something uneasy about him. That look that potheads and beach rats get a lot. Nerves. Almost got me thinking I should have ditched him back in Palmdale. But I’m damned if I was gonna lose the best bass player I’ve ever met over a handgun. I walk outside, into the courtyard. The motel stinks. Putrified everything, even the ice was rotten. “That the same car we came in?” I ask him. A 1964 Chevrolet convertible. “I don’t remember it being so … vivid before.” “Harvey!” He grabs me. I’m still wide eyed, might as well be on Jupiter. “We’re heading into the studio tonight. Sharpen up.” BB
Whilst Grouper’s magisterial Ruins was recognisably the work of the Oregon-based artist Liz Harris – all hushed melancholy and drifting sonic gossamer – it presented her suffocated, idiosyncratic iteration of buried pop in far sharper focus than her previous records. With the exception of the humid field recording of Made of Metal and the Way Their Crept-recalling drone of closer Made of Air – an early recording of Harris’s which showed just how singular her sound was from its inception – the Wurlitzer, guitars and reverb-saturation were dropped in favour of lilting piano figures (albeit with the sustain pedal kept firmly down) unobfuscated vocals, and a smattering of frog song and microwave bleeps. It was a triumph, both emotionally crushing and ecstatic in its clarity, and proof yet again that Harris is one of the most vital artists of her generation. TH
UNTOLD Black Light Spiral Hemlock
POPCA AN Where We Come From Mixpak
Jack Dunning is nothing if not tireless in his pursuit of new thrills (as much for himself as for his audience). His debut album, Black Light Spiral was brain-melting in its intensity and all-encompassing destruction of conventional dance music tropes, piercing almost impenetrable walls of bass with modular rhythmic detritus and red-lined sample material and laying out the resulting mess into new, unknown shapes. Easily one of the most physical, forward-thinking and relentlessly danceable records of recent times, and (hopefully) a milestone for future explorations in club/body music. SD
Popcaan’s rise from Jamaican underdog to international superstar and the loveable face of the dancehall revival has been nothing short of astonishing. Not since the likes of Kevin Lyttle, Sean Paul and Wayne Wonder graced the charts has the genre seen such a surge in interest. Popcaan’s break came with Clarks but he’s since been sampled by Kanye, name-checked by Drizzy and seen himself elevated to a level of mainstream acclaim that his former mentor Vybz Kartel couldn’t have dreamed of. The culmination of his efforts came this year in the form of Where We Come From. With the help of Brooklyn’s slick Mixpak label and a hit list of uber-hype producers including Dubbel Dutch, Dre Skull and Anju Blaxx, it was a true crossover album, fusing the singer’s ‘poppy grooves’ with cutting-edge electronic beats, a bass-heavy, hard edged bounce and sharp, addictive synth stabs. It was swathed in sunshine too and, let’s face it, we could all use some of that right now. BB
R ATKING So It Goes XL / Hot Charity So It Goes isn’t revivalism, nor is it a futuristic portrayal of a tired idea. Ratking managed to pair selfproclaiming lyricism, experimental beat-making and unapologetic attitudes to convey exactly who they are while reminding us where they came from. Their New York city roots were realised through fluid, wavelike loops and the feral street-preaching of Wiki playing off Hak’s authoritative Harlem flow. The trio created further compelling manifestations of their city on tracks like Canal and Snow Beach, before exploding via Wavy Spice’s lyrical workout on Puerto Rican Judo. With youthful exuberance and a gritty perspective, Ratking created a new almanac for urban philosophising. So It Goes is a whirlwind joyride through their unidealised metropolis; they told a brand new story of New York and successfully crafted 2014’s most engrossing East Coast rap album. DH
K ASSEM MOSSE Workshop 19 Workshop The eight year wait for this solo full length from the internationally celebrated producer was worth it. The album’s eight tracks, so rich in detail, nail Mosse’s well honed, concise aesthetic, showcasing some of his best, most emotive work to date. Constantly evolving, its swirling abstract sonics revealed themselves over multiple listens, with melodies that glide like a thick mist in and out of percussion that refuses to sit still. Approaching the album on his own terms, there’s little ecstatic release to be found here, as it seems undeniably geared toward home listening. Yet this unassuming and self-assuredly gripping selection of tracks were endlessly consuming. It was subtle, impressively consistent, and superbly executed content that made Workshop 19 a stand-out representation of one of the most endearing and idiosyncratic house and techno artists working today. AT
Issue 48 | crackmagazine.net
SHARON VAN ET TEN Are We There Jagjaguwar In reply to the album title’s open-ended enquiry, if the ‘there’ referred to is Van Etten’s affirmation as a composer of the most lusting, lavish and heartbusting songs, then the answer was a resounding yes. If her road has been tough, songs as confessional and bone-baring as Your Love Is Killing Me (seldom since EMA’s Past Life Martyred Saints has an album shared so freely) were evidence of the sheer catharsis which marks this fourth full-length. Despite the artist’s ability to structure and arrange songs at the very heights of technical competence, the swells on Are We There were never overcooked, rather pitched at that perfect level where Van Etten’s voice was allowed to burst out from the piano and horn backdrop rather than wilt in the midst of the growing, sonorous mass. The subject of love worms its way into the fabric of much music; but love, its pitfalls, and its pain, weren’t tackled with such class by anyone else this year. RW
PHARMAKON Bestial Burden Sacred Bones Records Sometimes a year will throw you a curveball, and Bestial Burden was about as curved as they get. Margaret Chardiet’s second album under the Pharmakon moniker was a grizzly, introspective noise record that plumbed untold depths in its study of body horror and grim humanity. A contorting, gasping record of torturous, scraping climaxes and undulating, timely lulls, Bestial Burden was unsurprisingly born from trauma, a reaction to invasive surgery which left Margaret hyper-aware of the human body’s fragility. The record’s musical weight lay in Chardiet’s considered approach to rhythm and structure – that’s what made this record, above all, relatable. She eschewed atypical time signatures in favour of distorted homemade snares and crashes that rested comfortably in 4/4 whilst her scenery bulged, imploded. With Bestial Burden we were thrown into the depths of a very real psychosis; a gut-trusting, visceral diary entry for an artist obsessed with the unfathomable nature of existence. BB
SWANS To Be Kind Young God \ Mute
RUN THE JEWELS Run The Jewels 2 Mass Appeal Records
L ANA DEL REY Ultraviolence UMG Recordings
OUGHT More Than Any Other Day Constellation Records
Two years have passed since The Seer; a towering dystopia of vehemence. That record was a collected thrashing of sound and theatre. It endeavoured to explore not just how far Michael Gira could push playing the hostile ringleader of the group but also the notion of dramatic dynamics. It was aggressive and comprised multiple peaks in Gira’s songwriting career. And then they released To Be Kind. What this record proved is that there are no peaks for Swans. They simply continue to form and reform. Oxygen, a track name familiar to Swans fans, became totally reanimated. Just a Little Boy travelled mirthlessly from slide guitar to spectral whining, Screen Shot grooved out of meaning, becoming some kind of audible confrontation. But amidst all of this rascally progression was the record’s expansive, definitive centrepiece. Spanning 34 minutes in length, Bring the Sun/Toussaint L’Overture was a mnemonic masterpiece of musical stagecraft. Much like the album, its bull-like behaviour was controlled peerlessly by its maker. Listening to, ingesting To Be Kind was unequivocally one of the most rewarding experience of this year. TW
When El-P and Killer Mike united full time last year, they brewed a competitive chemistry that can drive them to rap with enough force to bulldoze a wall of cement. And yet, not in our wildest imagination did we think we’d be here swearing that their second album is a life-improving classic. With the prominence of the dismissive ‘conscious rap’ term and the profoundly unfashionable guest credits of Travis Barker and Zack de la Rocha, there were reasons for the close-minded to underestimate RTJ2’s importance. But the truth is, Run The Jewels are above all that shit, and they’ve bolstered the project into something you just can’t argue with. With El-P’s brutal and innovative productions being the worthy successor to Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad, the duo delivered a lyrical assault that flipped between absurd, comic-violent fantasies and uncensored reports of society’s rotten infrastructure. Fuckboys, you have been warned. DR
You might call Ultraviolence this year’s greatest coming of age record. From the widescreen selfdevelopment that weighed down Born To Die, Lana Del Rey immersed herself in the caricature she built and presented an LP that was rich in both self-deprecation and rediscovery. From the sedated falsetto of Shades Of Cool to the preconception-bating lyricism of Brooklyn Baby there’s a numbness to Ultraviolence which is as devastating as it is totally bewitching; green with envy of The Other Woman’s manicure and declaring she Fucked [Her] Way Up to the Top of the game. This is a self-made emancipation, an admission that “mimicking me’s a fucking bore”. These are ceremonious desert ballads that mark a pivotal moment in Lana’s post-Hollywood narrative. She heard the world calling her a Sad Girl, and remarkably came out with the money, the power and all the glory. DH
It’s possible that 2014 was indie’s Altamont moment – the year the underground clocked the rising Men's Rights Activists count in Ariel Pink comment threads and online scandals and conceded that left-on hipster culture may, after all, have issues. If not already clear, it’s subsequently become a political statement to form an apolitical rock band, and it’s to Ought’s credit that they make a racket for our conflicted times. Their cult-making debut LP projected a friendly face onto the post-postmodern pursuit, with singer Tim Beeler pinballing between contradictory states: one moment “disgusted by life”, the next “in love with everything in sight”. High on exultant glee and counter-consumerist agitation, the Montreal four-piece ran fuck-it-all anthems like More Than Any Other Day through the Albini model of righteous cynicism, generating unironic rock music so on-point you forget the form died 20 years ago. JM
TODD TERJE It's Album Time Olsen Records
FK A T WIGS LP1 Young Turks
RICH GANG Tha Tour Part 1 Cash Money
SCOT T WALKER & SUNN O))) Soused 4AD
Everyone’s favourite moustachioed dance commander finally gave us the long form pleasure we’ve been praying for since the seminal Ragysh/Snooze 4 Love single dropped back in the day. It’s Album Time was an irresistible perky, zingy, sun-suffused collection of lounge-inflected disco diamonds, a record precision engineered to counterpoint po-faced dancefloor culture. Even when dipping gleefully into easy listening territory, it was done with such reverence, such pinpoint devotion, that it circumvented the cynics with grace, and Terje’s ear for timeless melody was hilariously apparent on future classics like Strandbar and Oh Joy. Oh, and it had Inspector Norse on it. Ditch that SAD lamp – it’s album time. JB
Perhaps the definitive artist of the year, FKA twigs’ LP1 drew comparisons to Kate Bush and Björk, caught international gaze with its provocative videos and gender and genre explorations, and was eventually nominated for the Mercury Prize. twigs lost out to Young Fathers, of course, but it’s worth noting that LP1 had sold just under 7000 copies prior to the nomination, highlighting that online and word-of-mouth success doesn’t necessarily equate to album sales. Not that she’s fazed – the release preceded a sold out tour across Europe and North America. These were stand out performances; intense, skulking movements and mesmerising limb contortion, compelling, unapologetically sexual presence. It soon became all too easy to focus on twigs’ personal identity – at first shrouded in mystery, the cracks became gaping holes. But it was LP1 that got her here, thrilling this generation with its ecstatically filthy, fully formed aesthetic. In mood and content, LP1 was a constant tease, an exploration of prolonged ecstasy that never offers full relief; weightless bombasts of lust, sex and power struggles for the lovesick kids of 2014. With LP1, twigs had cemented her canonical status, as if we ever doubted it. AT
We’re living in an era when Atlanta is now the undisputed rap capital of the world, and since the digital erosion of the industry’s old structure, the genre now moves so fast that the most unique talent rises to the top before A&Rs get a chance to wrap their stereotypemoulding hands around it. But while the provocatively effeminate ATL star Young Thug’s slippery, infantile yelps have stretched the possibility of just how weird a rap hit can sound in 2014, his chaotic record deals were beginning to stunt his potential. So it was thanks to the Midas touch of Cash Money mastermind Birdman that Thug delivered this seminal mixtape with natural collaborator Rich Homie Quan. Weaving their voices together in a style that depleted distinctions between ‘rapping’ and ‘singing’, the duo oozed heart-tickling melody and raw emotion, amplifying feelings of lust, love, pride and sorrow with true originality. This is New Atlanta. DR
Perhaps it’s not inevitable, per se, that one of the year’s most heavily anticipated record was also one of its best, but fucking hell Soused was something else. Did anyone really expect anything different? Draining, elative, magisterial and utterly terrifying in equal parts, the pairing of Walker’s outsider vocal with O’Malley and Anderson’s groaning, pitch black bassweight, industrial pulses and wrought riffing resulted in a set of songs the word ‘singular’ could practically have been invented for. It was all pretty faultless, from the widescreen sheen that lulled the listener into Brando, through the grinding infanticidal merrymaking of Herod 2014 and Bull’s tapir-baiting mire. The highlight, still, was Lullaby, a vaudevillian descent into hell that was wholly unnerving, a genuine “this sounds like nothing else out there” moment in an album comprised of them. TH
Issue 48 | crackmagazine.net
WILD BE ASTS Present Tense Domino Records
THE BUG Angels & Devils Ninja Tune
If 2014 has been a year of future shock, thanks to artists like FKA twigs and Arca producing albums that sound almost aggressively on trend, then perhaps Present Tense was the future-soft. A wonderful record, hugely progressive without seeming forced, Wild Beasts’ new electronic palette managed to strike an elegant balance, neither sounding retro-futurist nor industrial – in fact, for an album the band profess to have ‘designed’ on computers, it sounded remarkably natural, resultant no doubt of their near familial work ethic. Lyrically the album came steeped in modern mythologies of sex and screens. Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots proved that in the wrong hands these subjects can fall into clumsy, hackneyed, ‘literally comparing people on their phones to robots’, territory. Yet Thorpe and Fleming lead with sensation, allowing the sacred moments between newsfeed trawls to take precedence. Thorpe sang of a “godless state where the real and the dream may consummate”, and it was exactly this universe Present Tense conjured. Wild Beasts have spent the last few years gestating on the periphery, yet with Present Tense they fully arrived in revelatory form. AH
The hypocrisy from central government permeates its way down the socioeconomic ladder. Bankers rob us blind, MPs in charge steal tens of thousands of pounds of expenses and yet the rhetoric from rightwing mainstream media demonises those on benefits, encouraging the government to make substantial cuts to welfare and avoid tackling those responsible for robbing Britain. We got fucking robbed. Me, you, we all got fucking robbed. Those cunts in power didn’t get robbed, but judging from Angels & Devils, Kevin Martin and the extended family of The Bug came home to find their TV stand empty and their rent raised by a good £200 a month. If previous album London Zoo was the sound of an impending nightmare, Angels & Devils brought the realisation of that dread careering into the foreground full throttle. London-born music can’t help but channel its environment, Burial’s studies in post-millennial paranoia the obvious case in point, and the first half of Angels & Devils rested neatly in this lineage. The ghostly Save Me, featuring the perfectly deployed Gonjasufi, was skeletally unnerving, while Mi Lost smiled at you with knife-wielding, schizophrenic desperation. The funeral organ which forms Pandi was the long, drawn-out, dystopian sound of damaged society; the food banks, the lack of direction, the abuse, the heightened cultural tension – the damage. Then the nastiness really began. What unfolded over the next six tracks was a gnarled exploration of some of the most lyrically raw and visceral themes ever committed to record. Fat Mac was expressed remorselessly with Flowdan’s distinctive spoken-word style, lines such as “skin graft/ skin burned/I laugh/they learned” delivered cold. Death Grips collaboration Fuck A Bitch was the match made in aggro heaven you hoped it would be, and Manga’s statement “I’m just trying to function” summed up the whole sorry state of affairs. Angels & Devils was a bassweight masterpiece done nastier, colder and with more style than anyone else in the genre by a country mile. More than that, it was a representation of the bleakness of modern day Britain. In crafting something that so succinctly funnels the dread of these dark days at the end of 2014, and not sounding in any way contrived in the process, Kevin Martin made the most essential sounding pin-drop to date of the mire we find ourselves swimming in. TF
ICE AGE Plowing Into The Field Of Love Matador Records When Iceage released New Brigade in 2011, it was immediately clear they were a cut above their peers. While their stone-cold aesthetic was seductively sleek, it was their genuine callousness that really made them stand out as a band. In four teenagers from Copenhagen we had found, for first time in aeons, a real punk band. And in 2014, Iceage released their greatest album: Plowing Into The Field of Love. This time around they cleaned up, focused – where once a song used to rest beneath a racket, a racket now underpinned a song. Cymbals clattered, guitars rattled and mandolins plinked in cacophonous harmony to nervously detracted beats. All the while frontman Elias Bender’s poetry become more plaintive and prevalent and morbid ballads were carved from the bleak brand of energy channelled as chaotic teenagers those few short years ago. In discussion of their music, Iceage have always preferred the word ‘punk’ is left out. You can understand why. The term can represent a musical or ideological dead-end. It can feel like a word that belongs to the past. But by channelling their ferocity towards the melodramatic, Iceage tore the cliché to shreds. BB
DE AN BLUNT Black Metal Rough Trade "My album was under shipped.” “My album leaked.” “I made this album for myself.” “My label failed to properly promote my album to an urban demographic.” “My fans don’t want to hear me grow musically.” “My album will gradually sell more over time.” “My album was only sold by select retailers.” “My album wasn’t as good as the last one” “My fans aren’t supporting me at SoundScan.” “I don’t care about record sales.” We reached out to Dean Blunt for a statement, however abstract – some kind of acknowledgment. Instead, we received this; an extract entitled Excuses When Your Album Flops from the already-released text accompanying the release of Black Metal, the best album of 2014. Expertly swerving the plaudits, the press clamour, but Blunt cannot swerve the fact. The self-conscious listener still feels compelled to approach Dean Blunt’s post-Hype Williams output with a degree of caution. With the word ‘prankster’ repeated beyond meaning, you’re reticent to fully embrace the pure, unadulterated beauty of his work for fear of being on the end of some post-ironic joke. Well that point has now passed. He’s no longer limited to slipping out THC-fuelled dub mutations and grainy video footage via Polly Jacobsen’s YouTube channel. Regardless of context, this music does something to your heart. But Blunt still remains an artist defined by dichotomy, even oxymoron. Urban pastoral. Gritty baroque. Black cocaine. On the surface, the balmy chamber rock flourishes which defined this album, recalling Tindersticks or Bill Callahan, clashed with the only definable factor in Blunt’s make-up: the enduring relevance of East London. Displaced via lilting Americana, or undulating English countryside, or red velvet festival halls – even down to unabashed sampling of The Pastels and Big Star – there’s no longer any ‘there’ there. The sense of place was lost. Or at least it should have been. But as with its orchestral predecessor The Redeemer, the spectre of Hackney lurked heavy throughout Black Metal. The descending strings and smoky aesthetics of the album’s first half still hummed as if ripped from a parallel world of pirate radio, passed through three laptops, samples handed over on a smudged CD marked ‘baroque’ in a surreptitious twilight exchange. Blunt actively rejects any distinction between solo output and otherwise – what, exactly, is the difference between a Hype Williams track and one from Dean Blunt feat. Inga Copeland? – but in this case, it would be unfair to label Joanne Robertson anything other than the second member of ‘Dean Blunt’. Her contribution was indelible, integral to Black Metal. Wandering, Liz Fraser-esque murmurs dominated the psychedelic, miasmic clump of industrial jazz excursion FOREVER, and offered the glinting counterpoint in the impeccable 100, or 50 CENT which, at this point in time are very difficult to dismiss as anything less than some of the most perfect constructions in recent music history. Throughout Black Metal, Blunt remained playful, fiercely intelligent, disarmingly funny. Stark cultural signifiers were key. As with his recent New Paintings exhibition at Hackney’s [space] gallery, which transposed Evisu jeans and their accompanying cultural baggage into stretched squares in place of canvas, Black Metal’s name and the names within didn’t so much toy with music categorisation as mock its existence. PUNK was, of course, an accidental dub track. And a perfect one, at that. COUNTRY, meanwhile, was the most abstract splatter on an album riddled with country flourishes, a gnarled metallic grunt, interspersed with the iconic, atonal blip of the Macbook volume button – crashing down to earth, human and technology, sheer bathos. That fucking prankster. As Blunt intoned “to all the niggers that knew me – sue me” on the shuffling, glorious HUSH, and Robertson again seeped the spirit of misspent evenings over the metallic sound design of closer GRADE, a sprawling, extraterrestrial apocalypse of sorts, it was hard to believe you’re listening to the same record as you were 45 minutes ago. But you were glad, you were breathless. In a troubling landscape, we owe ourselves a record of such fundamental, human beauty. The only remaining issue is whether what we’re now privy to is a Dean Blunt, or the Dean Blunt. It’s far easy to descend into an endless coil of deconstruction. But whichever way you chose to approach it, Black Metal stood alone as the most edifying, indefinable and utterly staggering piece of music released in this calendar year. An eradefining, and defying, masterpiece. GHD
Issue 48 | crackmagazine.net
Tracks Of The Year 2014 There’s the theory that the album format is dead, that the industry has moved on, that the kids these days just aren’t interested in lengthy, cohesive collections of songs anymore. To be honest, we think that’s a load of bollocks. But still, often it’s the single tracks that leave the deepest footprint into modern consciousness. So whether it be festival anthems, underground club bangers or songs that carry a radicallyempowering sentiment, these brief segments of music told the story of 2014. OK, so a few of them might have gone under the radar, but there’s not a track listed here that we don’t love. Contributors: Billy Black, Anna Tehabsim, Rachel Mann, Thomas Frost, Davy Reed, Geraint Davies, Farah Hayes, Tom Watson
RIFF R AFF Introducing The Icon Mad Decent
CULT OF YOUTH Empty Faction Sacred Bones
JULIAN CASABL ANCAS Human Sadness Cult
MURLO Vertigo Rinse
BOBBY SHMURDA Hot Nigga GS9 \ Epic Records
METRONOMY The Upsetter Because Music
R ANDOMER Huh L.I.E.S.
JAM CIT Y Unhappy Night Slugs
IGGY A Z ALE A Fancy ft. Charlie XCX Island
RiFF RAFF. Gloriously fucked up human being? Immensely intelligent conceptual artist? Hiphop's biggest troll? We're not sure. We're not sure he's sure either. Whatever, we love RiFF and we're not afraid to admit it. We'd do dangerous things to get our feet into a pair of those sandals and we bet you would too. Embrace it, suck it up, do what you gotta do: Introducing the Icon just is the 50th best song of this year. BB
You can trace Jam City's remarkable stylistic change back through this year's Earthly mix trilogy, where sassy New York ballroom and grime plummeted into the strange, woozy comedown of the third instalment, the ecstatic surface melting away to reveal the grit at the core. This comforting sadness underlined Unhappy, where metallic clangs and drugged-out pads cushion his transition into traditional songwriting. "We're not allowed to grow up," his voice utters through the mist, offering a remarkably affecting comment on millennial anxiety. AT AGAINST ME! Transgender Dysophoria Total Treble \ Xtra Mile
DELROY EDWARDS Can U Get With Gene's Liquor
BL ACK LIPS Boys In The Wood Vice
LUST FOR YOUTH New Boys Sacred Bones
VINCE STAPLES Hands Up Def Jam
BEYONCE Flawless ft. Nicki Minaj Columbia
EVIAN CHRIST Salt Carousel Tri Angle
SOPHIE Hard Numbers
We would never have guessed that, among the most powerful lyrics of 2014, would be the words: "You've got no cunt in your strut. You've got no hips to shake.” Or that the immortal line would be followed by the bluntly, plainly profound line "You know it's obvious, but we can't choose how we're made.” But it happened, and when hollered from the mouth of Against Me!’s empowered, inspiring frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, stands proud as one of the year’s most memorable statements. BB
TRUSS Brockweir Perc Trax
FLOATING POINTS King Bromeliad Eglo
TIGA Bugatti Turbo
PERFUME GENIUS Queen Matador
TAL ABOMAN Sideral Hivern Discs
THE WAR ON DRUGS Red Eyes Secretly Canadian
DAN BE AUMONT Trippy Pumper Classic
KOW TON Glock & Roll Whities
Nicki Minaj Lookin Ass Young Money
TINASHE 2 On ft. Schoolboy Q RCA
Perfume Genius's third full length Too Bright took us by surprise. An avalanche. A polemic of soaring, self-assured ballads that careen into harsh realms previously untouched by the notably gentle songsmith Mike Hadreas. As a whole album it's both powerful and empowering. However, it was lead single Queen that really embodied this sentiment. Its bursting, fuzzy guitars and tight, commanding drum shots eloquently carried a message that Hadreas badly wanted the world to hear. RM
SHARON VAN ET TEN Every Time The Sun Comes Up Jagjaguwar
PARK AY QUARTS Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth What's Your Rupture?
RICH GANG Lifestyle Cash Money
This controversy-stirring cut reeled in the male gaze in order to bite back at the viewers, sinking Minaj’s venom into not just her male competitors, but the "lookinass" lurkers, "Boost-Mobile-ass", "credit-card-scam-ass", "no-job"having-ass voyeurs who infect the dark underbelly of the internet. Her visceral, violent and cathartic response felt truly empowering, demonstrating her right to be sexual without being defined by it. It told the world that the lyrically flawless Minaj was back. AT
MASTODON High Road Reprise
FUTURE Future - Move That Dope ft. Pusha T, Pharrell and Casino Epic
THE BUG Function Ninja Tune
FUTURE ISL ANDS Seasons (Waiting On You) 4AD
DEMDIKE STARE Past Majesty Modern Love
DANIEL AVERY All I Need (Roman Flügel remix) Phantasy
FLYING LOTUS Never Catch Me ft. Kendrick Lamar Warp
It’s hard to forgive Pharrell Williams for the atrocities he's committed against music – and headwear – in recent times. But if there was a moment that made us want to let him back into our lives, it was during the fire he spits on Move That Dope. And with the gargling monster that was Mike WiLL Made It’s ingenious beat, it’s no wonder he managed to rap with conviction. At its best coke rap can boost confidence regardless of context, and few slogans generated hype this year like the infectious mantra that named this track. BB
YG My Nigga (Remix) ft. Lil Wayne, Nick Minaj, Rich Homie Quan, Meek Mill Def Jam
WARPAINT Love Is To Die Rough Trade
SHAMIR I Know It's A Good Thing Godmode
TIR Z AH No Romance Greco-Roman
CARIBOU Can't Do Without You City Slang
RUSTIE Attak ft. Danny Brown Warp
FK A T WIGS Two Weeks Young Turks
Following last year’s disarming, resolute I’m Not Dancing, Tirzah’s “emo” follow-up was defined by a stark quiver of vulnerability. A garage track melted down and reformed as deliciously off-kilter pop, Micachu’s unfussy control of dragging tempo and garbled melody underpinned a breathtaking anti-love-song. With lyrics which read like a checklist of aches, written to be scrunched and discarded, Tirzah’s return, her sombre refrain of “no letdowns, no bus stops”, was defiant yet splintered with the realities of loneliness. RM
Dan Snaith’s loved-up anthem was described by one gobbier member of the Crack team as the “Get Lucky of 2014 for people who actually listen to music”. In truth, in terms of relevance, Dan Snaith’s output over the last 10 years puts him in a completely different ballpark to those lazy robots, and this was his richly deserved glory-pop moment that defined the summer’s festival circuit. It also became the on-trend track for your more ‘culturally aware’ mates to pretend they didn’t like. They were lying. TF
Danny Brown had been chewing up rave beats with his insane style for some time already, but it wasn’t until Attak that he well and truly perfected the art. Once Rustie challenged him with this abrasive, neonflashing juggernaut, Brown leapt on the the track like a Rottweiler who’s just spotted a chunk of raw meat. And as the explosive collaboration of two eccentric, adrenaline-hungry minds, Attak suggested that maybe the odd couple weren’t so different after all. DR
Two Weeks was first aired on the radio on 23 June. Sonically, this wasn’t FKA twigs’ most boundarypushing song to date, and neither was it the most avant-garde track on the debut album that followed. Your first instinct wasn’t to analyse the way twigs was carving new pathways towards the future of popular music with a soundscape of skeletal, jittery percussion. Instead, you were just stunned by the song’s power to make heartbeats accelerate. And so it was only natural that, from this point onwards, the buzz would go into overdrive. It was the song which told the wider world that twigs had one of the most affecting voices in contemporary music, via the raw, explicit language of intoxicating lust. Due to some kind of design flaw in the mechanism of the human mind, rejection enhances desire and separation activates jealousy. It’s these psychosexual tensions that Two Weeks grapples with, and for all those in 2014 nursing heartache under the glow of their laptop screens, this was the anthem they needed. Sure, there are cynics who’ll question the song’s impact once the hype has finally faded away. But six months down the line, you’re reminded of Two Weeks’ euphoria the moment you press play. With that tension-building pulse of a minimal drum beat and those purring, ascending synths, FKA twigs delivers a vocal performance that indelibly marked music. Eyes roll, a chaste mouth opens, and that’s it. We’re higher than a motherfucker. DR
RE AL ESTATE Talking Backwards Domino
ILOVEMAKONNEN Club Goin’ Up On A Tuesday Self-released
CLOUD NOTHINGS Part Of Me Carpark
The first glimpse of Atlas, Talking Backwards was the Real Estate formula taken to its blissful, butterflysummoning conclusion. Immaculately succinct, it was three minutes of picture-postcard emoting. Matt Mondanile’s sing-song guitar leads clipped, conscious of their own delicacy, as his pals chimed away like a loving breath on the back of your neck, intrinsically in tune. A clumsily explained communication breakdown as its lyrical core, this was effortless picket-fence perfection provided by masters of bleary-eyed, idealised nostalgia. GHD
The true story of Makonnen Sheran goes much deeper than a Drake cosign. That said, the Atlanta singer’s ode to the mid-week turn-up is surely a showpiece of rap's hyper-emotional breakdown, as spearheaded by Drizzy himself. Built on Sonny Digital's spaced out yet bass-heavy beat, ILoveMakonnen triumphed over the loss of the weekend with a stash of pink ecstasy and the evasion of his probation officer. Sombre but celebratory, Tuesday was the weirdest, most beautiful club anthem we heard this year. BB
“It starts right now…” And it all starts again, right then. The climax of Cloud Nothings’ embittered futureclassic Here And Nowhere Else was the ultimate reclamation of self-worth and individual identity from the depths of dysfunction. It was the moment the light at the end of the tunnel floods your corneas and becomes real, where freedom becomes actualised. It also happened to be the crystallised moment where Dylan Baldi and his buds hit indie-punk perfection. It was a perfectly-timed expression of positive momentum. It was everything it needed to be. RM
BARNT Chappell Hinge Finger
SKEPTA That's Not Me ft. JME Boy Better Know
VESSEL Red Sex Tri Angle
When That’s Not Me dropped properly in June, grime’s push for a 2014 reform was fully activated. Skepta reconciled the genre’s inception, chastising outmoded rap clichés and musing over BBK origins. JME’s instantly recognisable eskibeat production offered the schmaltzy nostalgia component grime purists have been petitioning for since the scene went a bit vanilla. As we head into 2015, it’s up to grime’s thirsty next-gen to press on in the same direction. TW
Vessel's intensely physical, unplaceable second album Punish, Honey married a brutalist core with pulsing body music. It was an outstandingly robust effort from Seb Gainsborough, yet standout single Red Sex really was its own beast. Crafted from his own handmade mutant hardware, the obscurely sexual, writhing stomp of its central feature – an indefinable wheezing that swells and combusts – created a lurching, primitive monster. Nothing hurt so good in 2014. AT
Much of Cologne producer Barnt’s work is driven by his urge to create something new, something alien for the club; as he told us early last year, he's "always look[ing] for a space in the void". Geared for maximum impact on the floor, Chappell’s militant, mechanical hook maxes out a handful of elements to create something so jarring and blunt, yet undeniably slamming. Chappell is prime Barnt, and satisfyingly severe peak time weaponry too. FH
’15 Years of Beats In Space’. Photos taken and collected by Tim Sweeney. beatsinspace.net
Words: Steven Dores Photography: Damon Way
It makes a lot of sense interviewing Powell at the end of 2014. It’s been an incredible year for him as an artist (a forthcoming release on XL a fine example of where he’s at) and arguably an even better one for Diagonal, the label he runs with his pal Jaime Williams. A flurry of unclassifiable 12”s, EPs and albums, coaxing some beat tracks out of legendary noise-merchant Russell Haswell, earning spots on numerous end-of-year lists and a triumphant label showcase at Unsound Festival are all achievements a label could strive for over the course of its entire existence, let alone accomplish less than three years into their rapidly-hastening stride. Oscar Powell booted Diagonal into life in late 2011 with an EP of original material and a rare remix from British techno legend Karl O’Connor under his Regis alias. Three years on and with 17 releases bearing the Diagonal name, six of which are his own work, he’s clearly got something figured out. Across those six EPs Powell has crafted one of the most singular audio aesthetics in club music. A strikingly identifiable style, there’s no mistaking the collision of chopped up post-punk drums and bass with fizzing, upfront synths, myriad vocal tics and whispers pulled from who-knows-where. Rhythmically, it strays from the traditional grids that electronic music has built for itself, instead locking into something much more primal and propulsive. Body music, above all else. The understanding of what makes bodies move is a skill that’s hard to quantify, but the process of running and sustaining a career is something that’s a little easier to pin down. Sitting on his bed in a hotel room in Krakow while Jaime sleeps off the previous night’s adventure under the sheets, Powell tells me, “It’s easy to put
some good records out, have some people talk about you for a few years, do a bit of touring, whore yourself out on Twitter. But can you be doing that 10 years later, and still have something to say?” This is a question that plays on Powell’s mind, but there are role models in the scene, “the real dudes” that have proved that positive results come with “committing their entire beings to this shit.” The people he’s talking about – Juan Atkins, Traxx, Russell Haswell, Jamal Moss and the aforementioned Karl O’Connor – all function through a confrontational, challenging approach to music. And far from alienating audiences, it gives them a longevity which is the result of a total dedication to the art and the craft of making people really feel something. This mirrors in Powell’s own approach to DJing: jarring, aggressive, and with beatmatching fairly low down on the list of priorities. While Powell has no intention of giving up playing records – “I will always DJ, I never want to stop” – the rapturous unveiling of his brand new live show the prior evening at Unsound proved he has the ability to take his studio work into the club without sanding off the edges that make his recorded output so unique. If anything, the set amped up the intensity to an almost absurd degree. “I think you need to put yourself outside of your comfort zone in life as much as possible, so this was a chance to do that,” he explains. “It’s Powell to the core, not Powell as collagist. An opportunity for me to present what my idea of club music is.” That this initial show was met with such a raucous reaction was helped, in part, by it being the centre piece to the debut Diagonal showcase; a label that has built, through its artists, its curation, its radio show (Melon Magic, monthly on NTS)
and its artwork (by celebrated designer Guy Featherstone) an almost completely self-contained world. Far from being part of a grand scheme, Powell confirms it’s an organic process. “The more you hang out with people the more you share ideas. Automatically it starts forming its own thing rather than necessarily constructing it deliberately. It’s really only when you take a step back and look at what you’ve released that you think ‘oh yeah, that makes perfect sense’.” While Powell isn’t sure if Diagonal has a specific sound, he acknowledges there’s “definitely a thread” that runs through everything they do: Prostitutes’ thumping, punk-ish approach to techno, Shit & Shine and The Skull Defekts’ guitar-mangling, kosmiche-referencing groove therapy and Bronze Teeth’s live wire, gnarled acid all seem to come from a primal need to challenge something. Powell agrees, stressing the challenging desire that unites Diagonal as cathartic, selfimproving, fear-abating, something worth working towards. “Every day I doubt myself,” he tells us. “I think you have to do that, otherwise what the hell are you fighting for? You’re just standing still. It’s important, for me at least, to be fighting for something — or against something. You’ve got to push yourself into uncomfortable areas. And yeah, it’ll make you nervous.”
Sylvester Stallone / Smut is released soon via XL Recordings
Pipilotti Rist, Worry Will Vanish, 2014. © Pipilotti Rist. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Alex Delfanne
Bare-footed and hungover; a sedative afternoon at Pipilotti Rist’s magnificent new London exhibition My first exposure to Pipilotti Rist came in 2011, at her Eyeball Massage retrospective at the Hayward Gallery. I remember it as the best show I’ve seen there; immersive and psychedelic, it was an exhibition of video art unlike any I’d seen before. Films were stacked up everywhere; installed in crevices, projected onto walls, sculptures, floors and ceilings. The overall effect was one of physical materialisation: film made tangible. The volume of works presented leant many a sketch-like quality. Conventional movingimage is bound up by associations with the finished, high budget completeness of the movie, or conversely the base graininess of a video phone. At the Hayward, Rist seemed to present a highly refined third form. No small part of this stemmed from her free and easy view of the audience/artwork relationship; her willingness to involve people in the image. The freeness of her presentation is what reinforced this sense of film-as-actual-physical-sketch. Whether projected onto enormously billowing fabric or peeping through tiny holes in the
ground, their treatment and presentation remained democratic. Through exploring the highly formal physical distance of the usual film experience, these clips were all invested with a sense of inclusivity. They fostered a sense of attachment, a feeling of the directness of the artist’s involvement. Decisions in the edit had attached to them the same tangibility of artist’s intent as brushstrokes. No small part of my attachment to the memory of the Hayward show comes from my own subjective experience of visiting it: hungover. The condition I was in cried out, rather pathetically, for nurturing. Rist’s show was perhaps the only exhibition of art that could have met it; I stumbled round with a sense of relief.
divided, bisected by a giant black curtain. A round bench at the entrance doubles as a place to store shoes, which must be taken off in anticipation of the main event. In typical Rist style, this formal administrative necessity is used as occasion for art. An awkwardly placed projector beams out from between legs. It splashes a lush, green junglescape over a correspondingly verdant (and rather magnificent) peace-lily. The peace-lily casts its shadow over the rest of the projection against the wall.
By coincidence I was in an almost identical condition attending Worry Will Vanish.
The beam, placed low under a bench, is prone to constant interruption. Immediately, Rist brings the audience into her world, coopting them as another prop in her display. It’s not irritating, though; it’s inclusive. The digital greenery unfolding over the natural greenery is so enticing it’s like a shampoo ad, but the music coming through the curtain is too strong a pull to ignore.
Hauser and Wirth are currently hosting two simultaneous exhibitions by Rist, at their Saville Row gallery and also at their new space in Somerset, where the artist has been in residence for a year. The Saville Row show sees the huge space
The removal of shoes thing, is, again, a potential irritation. It’s a considered decision, though; everything here is designed to soothe. To distance the audience from a sense of connection to the outside world, and to transport them into a place of calm.
Words: Augustin Macellari
In the viewing room, duvets are scattered across the floor. The film is beamed onto two walls, across a corner. The film fills ones eyeline, into the periphery. Immersion is absolute. There’s a psychedelic soundtrack, electronic chirps and squeaks coupled with a persuasively optimistic guitar part. The film unfolds, on a loop: abstract digital animation meandering across abstract forms – transparently corporeal but hard to identify – juxtaposed with more greenery. At one point the camera pans gently through a towering forest of nettles, which part as it progresses. They’ve never looked so seductive, the last place you’d want to be in a field suddenly becomes the first. The human body appears at its most literal as a woman’s form, at one point bowling around in a state of weightlessness, at another jiggling on the spot, boobs and belly bouncing up and down.
Pipilotti Rist, Sleeping Pollen, 2014. © Pipilotti Rist. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Ken Adlard.
Pipilotti Rist has, since her first art film I’m Not The Girl Who Misses Much (1986), made a habit of presenting the female form naked but desexualised – assertively resistant to more standard patriarchal representations. In Worry Will Vanish she continues in this vein: there is a joyousness and freedom to the woman’s body here. It’s a non-aggressive reclamation, deriving its impact through simplicity.
This installation is magnificently designed, and through it all shines a thread of generosity. The straightforwardness of it, even, is cause for celebration. Big ideas needn’t be complex and here Rist offers hers, to be picked up and mulled over, or ignored – it’s as rewarding as a purely aesthetic experience. The success of this piece stems from its rejection of the typical rarefied, hyper-intellectual atmosphere of much contemporary art. It’s not that it doesn’t engage – with the audience, with gender politics, with questions of the viewer’s relationship to it – it’s that it in no way demands: the audience’s trust, the benefit of the doubt. It earns these things which, really, is the way it should be. Rist has carved out a space in the buzzing nightmare of London’s west end in which quiet reflection, passive absorption, or deep critical engagement are all facilitated, encouraged and nurtured. Incidentally, it makes for a great hangover cure. Worry Will Vanish runs at Hauser & Wirth London until 10 January 2015. Stay Stamina Stay runs at Hauser & Wirth London until 22 February
Pipilotti Rist, Worry Will Vanish, 2014. © Pipilotti Rist. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Luhring Augustine.
Aesthetic: Yukimi Nagano When we launched our Aesthetic fashion feature at the beginning of 2014, Yukimi Nagano was among the first names that sprung to mind. With the concept of exploring the relationship between music, background and personal style, we set out to feature artists for whom sound and image felt synonymous. And as Yukimi rose to the occasion for this ambitious, colour-saturated shoot, we knew we’d found our perfect fit. With studiously crafted, crystalline electronic textures and infectious hooks, Little Dragon’s playful synth-pop has won them mainstream recognition without compromising their credibility. And while it feels like the band were always destined for the big stage, their backstory has a distinctly bohemian feel, with the longtime friends creating their sound in a kitschy livein studio in their home city of Gothenburg. Having grown up as part of Little Dragon – they formed in 1996 when she was just 14 – Yukimi’s individual identity has always been defined by a cross-section of music, art and performance, even since childhood. “I was in awe of people like Prince and Kate Bush, people who didn’t care,” she remembers fondly in a rare moment of calm between frantic costume changes. “I would take my mom’s clothes and get dressed up and play in my own world, and it’s kind of like doing that now as a grown-up but on stage. It’s really fun being an artist, it means you get to be a kid for the rest of your life, hopefully!” As with any teenager grappling to find their place in the world, there was a degree of trial and error. “I had my gothic moment when I was like 13 or 14” Yukimi laughs. “It was kind of short-lived, but me and my friends listened to Depeche Mode and dressed up and experimented like crazy with make-up. We put purple lipstick around our eyes and stuff like that. My poor dad, when we go through family photos I skip that year.”
On latest album Nabuma Rubberband, Yukimi’s velveteen voice glides across phased-out, contemporary RnB sounds. It sees the band experiment while maintaining that irresistible sugary feel, and Nagano’s lucid eccentricity is a visual representation of Little Dragon’s soft glamour. It’s proof that even after 18 years, the band’s adventurous spirit shows no signs of plateauing. Motion is decidedly, determinedly forward, and it’s reflected in Yukimi’s approach to style. “My style has evolved from travelling and doing shoots and seeing how people dress around the world” she summarises. Like all off-kilter cultural icons, Nagano values “individualism, being yourself” above all else. “The best shows are when you feel as free as possible and when you don’t care about what anyone thinks. You can pull people into your world and hopefully make them feel the same way.” Nabuma Rubberband is out now via Because Music
Yukimi was speaking to Isis O’Regan
This Page Yukimi wears jacket by Fyodor Golan Jewellery by Maria Francesca Pepe
Creative Direction & Styling by Charlotte James Photography by Tom Andrew Makeup by Amy Brandon Hair by Darren Hau Stylist Assistant: Abigail Hazard Photography Assistant: John Heyes
Opposite Page Dress by Tata Naka Bralette by Urban Outfitters Trainers by Adidas at Urban Outfitters Gloves Yukimi's own This Page Jacket by Martina Spetlova Skirt by Christopher Shannon
This Page Jacket by Pleats Please Issey Miyake Bracelet by Urban Outfitters Opposite Page Dress by Tata Naka Jewellery by Mawi Gloves Yukimi's own
Stole by Cassandra Verity Green Ring by Maria Francesca Pope Necklace stylist's own
MINISTRY OF SOU ND
JAN. â€“ MAR. (2015) FOUNDATION
LABEL SHOWCA SE: TCHA MI MIK E M AGO X-PRESS 2
JA MES ZABIELA LEFT WING & KODY PEDESTRIAN DRUMS OF DEATH
AUDIO REHAB: SHIBA SAN TOUGH LOVE M AR K R ADFORD
CAJMERE THE 2 BEAR S (R AF DADDY ) DOORLY ZINC
CA SSIUS (DJ SET ) AEROPLANE THE MEK ANISM CLAR A 3000
DJ FRESH BROOK ES BROTHER S M AJESTIC MIA DOR A
RINSE: TODD TERJE (LIVE) AND MORE . . .
PAUL WOOLFORD OCTAVE ONE PEDESTRIAN SPECIAL GUEST TBA
ERICK MORILLO (ALL NIGHT LONG)
W W W. M I N I S T RYOFSOU N D.COM /C LU B M I N I S T RY OF SOU N D, 103 GAU N T S T R E E T, LON DON , SE 1 6DP
CUFF: A MINE EDGE & DANCE SIRUS HOOD THEE COOL CATS
DIMITRI FROM PARIS CHEZ DA MIER HOR SE MEAT DISCO
After sitting on a backlog of lo-fi gems since his early teens, Alex G is reluctantly sharing his talent with the wider world As soon as I come face-to-face with Alex Giannascoli across a park bench on a Shoreditch housing estate, I break into a smile. In the midst of an interview with The Fader earlier this year, Giannascoli was gifted a big brown leather jacket by his six-foot-four live drummer Dexter Loos, for whom the garment was too small. Now, here he is sheathed in the same vintage cow hide, six months later and half the world away on a brisk November morning. It’s a minor detail, but a warmly reassuring one, emblematic not just of Giannascoli’s lack of sartorial fussiness but a broader imperviousness to the changing of styles and seasons. Since the age of 13, the Philadelphian has been quietly producing a homespun blend of college rock, lo-fi indie and confessional singer-songwriter material on a prolific scale. Now 21 years old, he remains an avowed outsider, still operating wilfully adrift from pop culture’s ebb and flow armed with little more than an Apple Mac, Garage Band and a microphone. “Yeah I like doing stuff myself I guess,” Giannascoli says, his bleary, jetlagged eyes betraying a hint of shyness as they avert mine for the first few minutes of our time together. “If it’s something that, um, needs to be done right, or something that I’m tasked with, I want to do it, like, myself. Not that I can do everything the best or something, but when I don’t have complete control I get kind of frustrated.” Giannascoli has every right to be protective, having built himself a reputation as one of the internet’s most intelligent and exciting pop craftsmen. If at times today the songwriter’s eloquence abandons him – sentences are punctuated with an abundance of “likes,” “ums” and pauses
– he always gets there in the end. “I’m, um, used to the, uh, sticks,” Giannascoli mumbles sheepishly as a couple of chewing gum tablets spill out across the table from the pack he’s fumbling with. Earlier this year Giannascoli presented the world with DSU (it stands for “Dream State University”), a perfectly carbonised amalgam of early Radiohead, Pavement and Elliott Smith that’s been enthusiastically received. The record is the first to have seen release via a bona fide record label instead of Giannascoli’s usual Bandcamp outlet (it was put out on Lucky Number over here and Orchid Tapes across the pond) but it’s no less a product of bedroombound solitude than anything else in the Alex G canon. “My process, I’m keeping as close to the same as possible because it’s been working pretty well so far,” says Giannascoli, finally having shovelled some gum into his mouth. “I’m trying to still keep writing in a kind of bubble and not really think about what the live band can do, or what the label might want. I worry about that when I have to but otherwise I like to have free reign over my music. I just don’t trust other people with, like, the vision that I have for my songs.” Despite the upheaval of the past 18 months – a period in which Giannascoli found himself a record label, formed a touring band and released one of the most critically acclaimed indie albums of 2014 – from a lyrical standpoint DSU also reflects the enduring insularity of its architect. Harvey begins as a rumination on the importance of success before turning into a proclamation of love for Giannascoli’s younger brother (“I love you Harvey, I don’t care”). Elsewhere
the album concerns itself with darker themes; the disintegration of relationships, with family, friends and lovers. It’s heavy stuff for a lyricist barely out of adolescence, I suggest. “I think it’s a place everybody learns to not ever go, you know?” Giannascoli says. “Like when you’re a teenager you’re there all the time I guess, and you kind of eventually train yourself to…” Put it in a box and forget about it? “Yeah, you know, then it’s like, you go back to your happy place. But it’s always there and I guess I just visit it because I think those kinds of emotions make it easier to be passionate about a song.” Much of DSU is the product of two years spent studying English at Philadelphia’s Temple University, though Gionnascoli dropped out this summer. Album track Rejoyce references James Joyce’s comingof-age story A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and it’s natural to wonder how much else of the new album represents an inevitable reflection of Giannascoli’s college life. I argue that DSU, with its name, American Football cover painting and sound, might owe much to its surroundings. I’m dead wrong, says Giannascoli. “Is Modest Mouse a college rock band?” he wonders aloud. “I’ve never really thought of it that way. The title’s obviously related, but college wasn’t something I thought about much at all, other than that I had to do it. Now that I can support myself doing this, I’m going to stick with it and save college for another time … or another life.” He starts laughing. Evidently school is out for Alex G. DSU is out now via Lucky Number
Words: James F. Thompson Photography: Jennifer Lo
Ovation 2015—02—12 56
TOKiMONSTA Slow Magic
UNSOUND Krakow, Poland October 12- 19
SHABAZZ PALACES Nice ‘N’ Sleazy, Glasgow 7 November
CLUB TO CLUB Turin, Italy 5-9 November Turin’s Alfa MiTo Club to Club, which enjoyed its 14th edition this year, is renowned for drawing large crowds to appreciate a left-of-centre electronic music policy, and every Italian we meet seems proud and flattered that we’ve made the journey here. Thursday night at the nearly 300-year-old Teatro Carignano welcomes the now-mandatory Hyperdub takeover, and following a deep, dark and largely drum-less exploration from Laurel Halo, Kode9 takes the reigns. He teases a little percussion, but ultimately takes the music into even more sombre territory. This funereality is heartbreaking in light of the recently passing of frequent collaborator The Spaceape, and the MC’s prophetic spoken word segments feel especially tender over a sparse backdrop. Friday and Saturday’s central venue is the Lingotto Fiere – an enormous former Fiat plant. We first test out Fiere’s dauntingly huge main room with the ice-cold ambience and lightening bolt synth stabs of Evian Christ, before sidling into the smaller Sala Rossa room, where the underrated RnB experimentalist Kelela performs a typically sensual, typically impassioned set. Fatima Al Qadiri spins a stylistically-diverse, rhythmically wild DJ set that includes new, high-energy rap bangers from Bobby Shmurda and Wiz Khalifa. Following that with the adventurous but predominately 4/4 back-toback set from Ben UFO and Ron Morelli is, to put it politely, an eccentric programming decision, and we struggle to shift our mood for heads-down techno. But when we duck back into the Rossa a few drinks later it looks like they’ve found their groove, followed by a satisfyingly sturdy Talaboman set in the main room until 6am. On the other side of a wholesome day, we’re back in the main room for one of the most talked-about bookings of the weekend: Future Brown, formed of Fatima Al Qadiri, LA duo Nguzunguzu and J-Cush. With Ruff Sqwad veteran Prince Rapid on mic duty, the group feed him with a messybut-fun onslaught of grime instrumentals. Over the course of the weekend, Club To Club suffers from some major issues, but as a unique and reasonably-priced festival that pulls together near-impeccable line-ups, a few blunders won't put us off making the mission to Turin next year.
! Davy Reed Andrea Macchia?
As a record that’s split into seven ‘astral suites of recorded happenings’, a mere glance at the track list of Shabazz Palace’s recent album Lese Majesty indicates that Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire are on a mission to push the boundaries of what can be loosely be defined as ‘hip-hop’. Constantly challenging, the pair’s innovative yet hard-hitting 2011 LP Black Up created waves with its mind-bending beats and Butler’s inspired vocal delivery. But while that extraordinary debut impressed, Lese Majesty suffers for its haphazard instrumentals and overly perplexing lyrics. Tonight, Shabazz Palaces mainly perform material from Lese Majesty, with mixed results. There are glimmers of genius, with Butler riding over the ambitious beats of #Cake and They Come in Gold, and while impressing the crowd with synchronised dance moves and tribal dress, the duo certainly seem to be enjoying themselves. Maraire is unafraid to experiment with the instrumentals, accompanying Butler with lurching beats that weave together wobbly synths, keyboards and bongos. However, some of these beats are truly testing, and too often Butler’s lyrics are drowned out by the unhinged, cluttered music blaring from the speakers. ! Alex Russell
MOVEMENT Turin, Italy 31 October - 1 November
JOHN GRANT Colston Hall, Bristol 25 November There’s nothing more annoying than somebody telling you they’ve just been to the best show of the year. Especially when they go on to hurl superlatives at it, detailing the minutiae of the evening, just what made each moment effective and profound, and how you really missed out. John Grant with the Royal Northern Sinfonia Orchestra at the Colston Hall was the best show of the year, and stands as a triumph both for effective instrumentation and wholly profound lyricism. You really missed out. The evening began at 7:30 sharp, and we were warned firmly on entry, ‘there will be no intermission’ – the reason for this possibly being that an interval would have unnaturally pulled us from the mesmeric state Grant induced. The application of regality and bombast to Grant’s frank style created an experience that not only justified the tour, it endorsed endless repeat. It wasn’t unlike a mumblecore movie being scored by John Williams. The weirdest, darkest jealousies and regrets detailed in Grant’s writing were flushed with glory and sadness of elephantine proportions. It’s probably true in life that the most trivial moment or passing comment can ache with significance, and Grant’s set was a tribute to these details. During GMF’s dense refrain, “I am the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever gonna meet”, we considered the efficacy of the chorus in relation to its singer. Perhaps it is worth considering the chorus as fact.
! Angus Harrison Chris Cooper / Shot Away
Movement, happily, wonderfully, showcased the simple minded joy of a massive club experience. The main stage kept things defiantly techy all night with Ellen Allien’s blistering set of tough, sinewy bangers a clear highlight. Over at the Red Bull stage, fumes mingled with fag-smoke and sweatsoaked sweatshirts, yet the sheer size of the space allowed for easy access to the offshoot areas, with standout Steffi dropping the kind of sublimely skeletal techno you’d expect. The slightly smaller Detroit stage housed the best of the action. Rick Wilhite got things going with a few hours of upfront rolling magic before everyone’s favourite rollerdisco disc jockey Kenny Dixon Jr aka Moodymann stepped up and treated the throng to a masterclass in how DJing should be done: spacey disco rubbed shoulders with gritty house and sweetly soulful cuts. With Wilhite acting as compere, KDJ stepped aside and let the old school take over. Mr Cybotron himself Juan Atkins played a blinder; any set that culminates in an airing of the entirety of Cerrone’s seminal Supernature is one to savour. Atkins begat techno which begat the best music of all time so it was natural that he was followed by the grandmaster, the wizard, the imperious and undeniable Jeff Mills. Movement is a monument to the pleasures of a peaktime that lasts all night long.
! Josh Baines Simone Arena
The speed with which this year’s Unsound sold out shows a) how revered this event has become, and b) that the strains of niche electronic and exploratory music the festival has championed since its inception has bled out into the wider, (comparatively) popular musical psyche. The scope of the festival would be impossible to comprehensively define here, but the organisers must be commended for cramming in such an interesting and varied selection of lectures, films, panel debates, club nights and gigs. Arriving on Thursday evening (having already missed five days), we were severely underwhelmed by the live performance of Norway’s Deathprod – a worrying start. But as soon as we arrived at the hulking shell of the Hotel Forum and were greeted by the slamming, sexed-up chaos of Bristol’s Vessel, all was forgiven. Over the course of the weekend, Hotel Forum proved to be home to the most visceral of thrills; see Rrose’s sleek, worm-holing techno, SOPHIE’s hyper-realised sound design, DJ Stingray’s double-fast electro and The Bug’s pummelling, mosh-pit inducing bass mutations. Special mention must go to Evol, playing live during the Diagonal Records showcase. While Kerri Chandler proved you only needed a basement, a red light and a feeling, all Evol needs is a carpeted floor, a strobe light and a Mentasm stab to make people absolutely lose their shit. It feels criminal not to write about other amazing shows we witnessed in cathedrals, national theatres, tram sheds, jazz clubs and cinemas around the beautiful city of Krakow, but such is the breadth and depth of Unsound that there simply isn’t enough space on the page. All we can say is that the festival has never felt more vital, and is now planted firmly on our go-every-year list. ! Steven Dores
Products MINER AL TECHNO COLLECTION African Apparel £30-£59 africanapparelstore.com Expanding on the mystic throbs of their Basic Channeling collection from earlier in the year, African Apparel fully embrace techno as a vehicle for transcendant tranceenabling, groove-based higherplaning and balls-out highbrow raving.
MOUNTAIN David O’Reilly £0.69 itunes.apple.com Mountain Tamagotchi?(!)
WERKSTAT T SYNTH Moog £269 elevatorsound.com Flatpack techno from the kings of synth.
ACTON SPE AKER Marshall £250 urbanoutfitters.com/uk What with dance music being everywhere right now, it might be worth preparing for the inevitable crash and subsequent return to trusty ol’ guitars by plugging into this little guy and noodling your heart out.
MRK CANDLE Masion Rabih Kayrouz x DSM £40 doverstreetmarket.com Life is hard, but it could be a lot harder. Put this candle in your not-bombed-out-to-fuck-flat and remind yourself how lucky you’ve got it.
BELLINI JACKET Copson £60 copsonlondon.com
INITIALS Crux London £100 cruxlondon.com For the special someone in your life. C for Crack. J for Jonah Lomu. S for Salman Rushdie. M for me. W for Whoever.
Issue 47 | crackmagazine.net
Winter = Summer but colder. Context is everything.
CULT OF YOUTH Final Days Sacred Bones
WU-TANG CL AN A Better Tomorrow Warner Bros Records
There's a tugging urgency and a genuine angst that has always managed to earth Cult of Youth's theatrical, melodramatic din. Final Days still tugs, but it transcends angst. If Love Will Prevail saw a band on the verge of misery, Final Days sees a band fully plummeting into the crevice and finding their feet when they reach the solid footing in the depths. It's a record of bare, punk intensity that removes main man Sean Ragon's pastoral, neofolk pretensions and pushes into territory that has more in common with their Sacred Bones labelmates The Men than it does with their frequent gig buddies Death in June. What does remain is Ragon's signature, unsettling baritone. His cigarette-torn howls and drunken caterwauling scratch out of the fuzz on the post-punk coloured God's Garden. This time around however, his voice is underpinned with punk, and Empty Faction ties down an intensity that feels both progressive and entirely recognisable in one breath. Final Days is not quite the jewel in Ragon's jagged crown but it's certainly a step in the right direction, one which graces the edges of being something truly breathtaking. It's also at points overbearingly grandiose – the military horns of final track Rosesblow are as pompous as anything the band have recorded – veering towards utterly ridiculous. But let's face it; if it wasn't utterly ridiculous, it just wouldn't be Cult of Youth. ! Billy Black
SESSION VICTIM See You When You Get There Delusions Of Grandeur
VIET CONG Viet Cong Jagjaguwar
Internal-feuding is nothing new for the Wu-Tang Clan. In fact, the kind of drama that surrounded the group’s last album – 2007’s 8 Diagrams – is almost identical to what we’ve seen in the run up to A Better Tomorrow: Raekwon slams RZA’s production, RZA complains about Ghostface’s lack of attendance in the studio, Ghost drops a solo record within about a week of the Wu-Tang album release, and so on. It’s all pretty disheartening. But, in hindsight, 8 Diagrams wasn’t such a disaster, and despite a total absence of bangers, the record was salvaged by Method Man, Raekwon and Ghostface’s inspired verses. A Better Tomorrow, on the other hand, suffers from certain members’ audible reluctance, and most of the tracks are disproportionately dominated by Wu-Tang’s more eager B-team – U-God, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck and Cappadonna. But let’s not forget that these are the men responsible for some of the best hip-hop music ever recorded, and for Wu-Tang obsessives, the more restrained tracks might provide a similar appeal to the lyricfocused, hookless deep cuts on ’97 double album Wu-Tang Forever. But for the most part, RZA’s attempts to play on the group’s epic mythology – the sloppy posse cut Ruckus In B Minor, the schmaltzy chorus of Wu-Tang Reunion – fall flat. And considering the context, it’s hard to be convinced by A Better Tomorrow’s overtly sentimental theme.
What an entry. Emerging from the ashes of the criminally underappreciated Calgary noise-rock outfit Women, Viet Cong have taken no prisoners in crafting this punishing, abrasive opening snort to a career which may even surpass the achievements of its esteemed precursor. Opener Newspaper Spoons instantly sets the tone with bristling, repetitive bass drums droning forth, threatening to buckle, as a lone, aimless overdriven guitar buzzes overhead. There’s no let up as the incessant bass hook of second track Pointless Experience dangles on the haunting refrain of "If we’re lucky we’ll get old and die". There’s little light here. Yet out of the murk and chaos emerges an unlikely pop gem – Continental Shelf. Well, pop in the context of Viet Cong. Featuring vaguely danceable basslines and stunningly reverb-laden chorus guitar licks, this is the closest Viet Cong come to penning a ‘hit’. And it’s wonderful. The best is saved till last. Clocking in at over 11 minutes, sprawling finale Death is the musical equivalent of being stuffed into a washing machine. As guitars unfold from glittering tickles to cavalcades of gnarling fuzz, it pulls you in, sends you into a tailspin and spits you back out again, leaving you wondering what day of the week it is. At only seven tracks, Viet Cong does not waver in quality from its discordant opening swagger to its discordant closing hum. An unerringly confident, extremely significant debut.
As grime’s self-assured new era buttresses our social feeds, we notice an anthropological shift in substance. Channel U’s gone. Tinchy Stryder’s sucking down bugs in ITV’s celebrity jungle. Lord of the Mics is now a pithy reference point for Channel 4 docu-shorts. Nokia’s 3310 is now a defunct antique and Sports Direct staff uniforms are sold on Wavey Garms. The times have certainly moved on from Risky Roadz. We’ve also seen a drastic tectonic tweak in grime’s customer base. In the past eight years, the Americans have aired their approval for Fruity Loops treatments and London postcode repping. Crossover collabs are now commonplace. Birmingham’s Preditah has remixed Danny Brown tracks, Skepta has worked with NYC’s Ratking and Eskibeat crews spray fire over trap beats. The market has moved on. And just when you start making sense of it all, Wiley does it for you by releasing Snakes & Ladders; a commemorative swan song to grime’s genesis and a cautious nod to its impending international prospects. Released with nanoscopic promotion, the affirmed Godfather of Grime’s tenth album has been ticketed as his last. It’s unknown how permanent his hasty retirement is, however there is still something deceptively final about this work. With the mark of German Whip still burning the ears of the mainstream, Wiley has taken the opportunity to meld his stripped 8-bar spitting with the conformist pop pap of his Warner days. It’s as accessible as it is strangely idiosyncratic. “I’m doing what I want – fuck it,” he heartily congratulates himself on Snakes & Ladders Part 2, an 11-minute biographical medley of synth boings and atypically light vocal lines. And while Wiley is categorically doing what he wants, the American market coercion is more than present. Wiley is on poetic point and Zdot’s impeccably estranged production styles are unswervingly solid. Yet the appearance of US rappers like Cam'ron and Gudda Gudda on Lonely isn't really necessary. Bloodtype plays with the staccato snare rolls famed by the South Side Chicago drill scene and at points tracks like this create the feeling Wiley has no other option but to succumb to Western influences rather than persist with his own sound. This is by no means an awakening observation as Wiley above all his peers (sans Skepta), has been one to stretch grime’s global commercial footprint hazardously thin.
We receive hundreds of press releases a day. Many of these trumpet the ‘authenticity’ of their client. Fact is, all producers are now so apparently authentic that the whole idea of ‘authenticity’ is now just another bait-and-switch in the syrupy hyperbole of press releases. More interesting and enjoyable is the rare act that’s genuinely, uninhibitedly enthusiastic about their art. Affable marijuana enthusiasts Hauke Freer and Matthias Reiling have been producing classy, disco-flecked deep house as Session Victim for a few years now, finding homes on Retreat and Delusions of Grandeur. Their music –not inaccurately; maybe unfairly – has been shoved in a box marked ‘somewhere between The Revenge and Motor City Drum Ensemble’. They’ve already put out an album, 2012’s Haunted House of House, for which the duo earned widespread acclaim. In short, Haunted House was good, See You... is better. Opener Do It Now bounces with the fun, enthusiastic vibe of previous material, but with more swagger and even some Terje-synth; the title track is also outstanding, drawing on a range of samples and sounds from EBM to hip-hop, building and decaying over a series of peaks and troughs like a spaced out Aim; club track Never Forget is built around the kind of rolling piano sample producers dream of stumbling on. I could pose a cool detachment to all this brilliance – that is still popular in critical circles – but I have my authenticity to think about.
! Davy Reed
! Benjamin Salt
! Tom Watson
! Robert Bates
WILEY Snakes & Ladders Big Dada
THE DECEMBERISTS What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World Rough Trade
17 TR ASH KIT Confidence Upset The Rhythm
BELLE & SEBASTIAN Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance Matador Records A charting indie-pop group with a loyal cult following: Belle & Sebastian always seemed like a secret society with an open door policy. This album sees the band attempt to put some distance between themselves and that undercover world, venturing onto the dance floor with pulsing 4/4 beats and Europop hooks (yes, you read that correctly). Lead-off single The Party Line, with Murdoch's caramel vocal wrapped in a slickly produced foil of precisely separated synth swirls, cowbell rattles and jittery disco guitar lines, along with the galloping synth epic Enter Sylvia Plath, dangle like luminous mirror balls in the more familiar sonic town hall constructed by many of the other tracks. Spritely and aesthetically inquisitive, sure, but these poppy turns are ultimately neither here nor there. Belle & Sebastian have always known how to write infectious and intelligent pop tunes, and while the florid dance stylings don't detract from that, they don't really bring much either. Girls... is saved by its optimism, Nobody's Empire, written about Murdoch's battle with chronic fatigue syndrome, is politely euphoric, despite its advertising jingle sheen. Ever Had A Little Faith? is unadulterated hope. Such melodious whimsy might sound out of place against the backdrop of austere electronica which defined 2014, but it's credit to their artistry that Belle & Sebastian never sound naïve. With trademark wit, humour and optimism, they’ve weathered all storms. As we enter a pivotal year in Britain, the standing of Girls... may well rest on whether that hope can be redeemed
Faith In Strangers is the sound of Andy Stott cutting loose. The lumbering sludge that characterised the Manchester producer’s previous work has been jettisoned in favour of confident blasts of sound split by acres of loaded, vital space. Machines worked to their limits, melodies pushed to the point of (heart)breaking. And above it all there is voice. Alison Skidmore’s vocals alternate between whisper and soar, but with all the more clarity compared to the chopped and submerged methods with which Stott approached them on 2012’s triumphant Luxury Problems. Nothing scraped against everything, the resulting friction captured and arranged. Having earlier this year diverged skilfully with the disarming breaks affair Drop The Vowels with his collaborative Millie & Andrea project, this is a peerless artist dominating his home space. It is astoundingly effective. There’s a beauty to be found in ugliness, and Stott has found its roots on Faith In Strangers.
Really great New York albums often take us by surprise. When artists overcook the nuances of the city they run the risk of sounding more Empire State than New York State of Mind. The patchwork culture of the city has to be reflected but – most crucially – so does the cohesion. Against all the odds, Azealia Banks has managed to debunk the doubts of the naysayers and drop a debut album that fuses the fashion houses with the bodegas. The split personality she displays on cuts like Wallace is a truly bewitching force – Banks will sing a hook like the lead in a school play, then U-turn into an X-rated sidewalk terroriser when she starts to rap. The luxurious production on tracks like Miss Amor and mixtape flossing workout Ice Princess work as Azealia’s launchpad but it’s her character and her flow that put her on top. There are some moments of tediousness, and there’s only so many profanities one can fire out before sounding slightly mechanical, but Banks has actually crafted herself a niche with a record which months before release was looking impossible. From being a product of her own cyber-obnoxiousness, she appears to have given the final word to this LP. It’s the sound of overpriced rent and underground travel. An opulent – albeit fairly one-track – exercise in repositioning rap for Dior-heavy dancefloors.
! Andrew Broaks
! Steven Dores
! Duncan Harrison
“We know, we belong to ya— we know you built your life around us.” So begins The Decemberists’ first album in four years; and for the truly dedicated, the sentiment may ring true. It’s been far too long. The title of the album is taken from the lyrics of 12-17-12, a track which refers to the address made by President Obama following the tragic shooting in Newtown. It’s a weighty title, deeply imbued with meaning, a nod towards the troubles and triumphs that come with age. Darkness is not new ground for The Decemberists (see: Burying Davy or Shankill Butchers), but where they once played with darkness as a flight of fancy, this album sees a much more mature, self-conscious and this- (as opposed to other-) worldly band. There are plenty of Decemberists staples here: the folksy lilt of Colin Meloy’s unforgettable voice, the choral backdrop of unimpeachably arranged voices, the heavy strum of an acoustic guitar. But there are musical outliers, which together form an album that is wonderfully varied. Some moments sound as if they’re straight out of Appalachia – see Carolina Low and Better Not Wake The Baby. Others, like Calvary Captain, pump up the brass and vocals, and are surprisingly danceable. “And would we change,” Meloy addresses his audience in the opening song, “we had to change some.” The Decemberists have changed some, but they’re no less the band we fell for. What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World is a delightful addition to the band’s discography, one that both showcases the band’s versatility and beautifully exposes their depth of feeling.
Lets lay our cards on the table. We don’t dislike Bondax, really. Bondax aren’t hurting anyone. Not really. They’re probably nice boys who clubbed together their benjamins to buy a pair of turntables – sorry, CDJs – in order to increase their chances of attracting the opposite sex because they heard a few beats and wanted to get popular. Fair play. At 17, that’s boss behaviour. Big up. Lets lay our other cards on the table. Kiddy UK house music with rent-a-vocal after rent-a-vocal after rent-a-fucking-meaninglessvocal from anyone who could maybe potentially, possibly hold a note if put in a live PA scenario, made for people who demand only the most flimsily fundamental thought process behind their music – that’s something Crack doesn’t fuck with. Combine it with shoddy piano breakdowns and dated effects and you have a house music record that feels like it was made by kids. Because it was made by kids. Meanwhile back at Bondax’s house party it’s going off. Paul and Laura have just gone upstairs, the place has been trashed, half of them are wearing sunnies and Sabrina’s just dropped her first pill. It’s fucking vibes in there. You gotta start somewhere.
The last time we heard from Trash Kit in 2010 on their self-titled debut, the all-female London trio sounded like an exuberant amalgamation of X-Ray Spex and Delta 5 across 17 snippets of scratchy, fidgety post-punk. Much remains the same, with spindly staccato guitar lines and jittery stop-start rhythms still very much the order of the day on this second LP from Rachels Aggs and Horwood and former Electralene bassist Ros Murray. Aggs still speak-yelps her way through songs that alternate between the archly political and the plainly outlandish (“I had a dream, I lost my teeth,” she recounts on the nightmarish Teeth). The songs are longer this time around, and Murray’s old bandmate Verity Susman lends some heft to lead single Medicine and album closer Shyness with some low-end sax squawking. The most obvious progression over the past four years though – and perhaps simultaneously the album’s greatest strength and weakness – is Horwood’s drumming. Whereas previously her syncopated beats at least occasionally gave way to straight-ahead grooves, now they’re relentlessly frenetic; a disorientating cavalcade of rolls and fills in lockstep with Murray’s bass. The result is that it’s impossible to get a firm handle on a track like Skin because it’s constantly trying to wriggle out of your hands, determined not to stay in one place for any length of time. Depending on your perspective, this makes for either an endlessly exciting and rewarding listening experience, or a maddeningly frustrating one.
! Calah Singleton
! Thomas Frost
! James F. Thompson
BONDA X & FRIENDS Various Artists Relentless Records
A ZE ALIA BANKS Broke With Expensive Taste Prospect Park
ANDY STOT T Faith In Strangers Modern Love
COCK TAIL D'AMORE Nothing Matters When We're Dancing Cocktail D'Amore Berlin-based gay night and label Cocktail d’Amore have been around for five years. To celebrate this milestone they've released this compilation,and perhaps in a nod to the escapism that can be a salve in times of economic, political and social struggle, they’ve called it Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing. Frequent club-goers will sympathise. It starts with Wilderness Three by Lord of the Isles. It’s a dense, occasionally confusing, ambient and arpeggiated adventure across Neil McDonald’s keyboard. Dorisburg’s Under Vatten follows uneventfully, deflating the vibe a little, before Chymera’s Rainbow Brite lifts the tempo and mood adroitly, sounding like a tauter, instrumental version of Teengirl Fantasy’s Cheaters. The latter half is opened by Cocktail residents Discodromo and Massimiliano Pagliara on Le bipolarisme n’est pas le cubism, a frantic Chicago house track with some nods to Italo and new wave. Respite is found in Forever Sound’s Floor Elevator, which harks back to vibe of Chymera’s and J.E.E.P.’s tracks. Young Marco starts the final side with a typically lovely and shimmering take on ascending / descending Chicago house themes, and the package is rounded off by Black Deer (aka William Burnett aka Willie Burns) in contemplative mood. Cocktail have put together a bold package here. With a compilation like this, personal taste will probably dictate how much you get out of it, but we can all agree that a healthy dose of escapism curated by some knowledgable gay Italians does everyone some good. ! Robert Bates
SLE ATER KINNEY No Cities To Love Sub Pop
GHOST CULTURE Ghost Culture Phantasy
I liked that last Sun Kil Moon record, and there’s nothing wrong with Christmas albums. But in light of recent events, this kind of feels like pulling a cracker with the kid who used to kick footballs at your head in the playground.
When an artist falls in love with their genre they tend to fall in love hard. They'll begin their careers at the vanguard and end up looking highly unfashionable. Being stuck in love with a once popular genre, unfortunately, seems to be a most undesirable trait. Sleater-Kinney have been trading in the same formula for almost 20 years, albeit with an eight year break between. No Cities To Love is a throwback to a time when Olympia was the centre of the universe and indie rock was flourishing across both coasts of the US. It has some great moments, like all Sleater-Kinney records do. A New Wave recalls Brownstein at her screechy, scratchy best and opener Price Tag is fun, conscious and everything you'd expect from a genial songwriter with 20 years of pop-craft behind them. The gripe is in the overall sound though. The feeling that this album could have been written at any time in the last 20 years is unshakable and unsettling. While most of the album's ten songs are endlessly listenable, that nagging familiarity is unshakeable. To throw a positive light, the group's integrity and commitment is enviable and with songs as good as the stupidly catchy title track we just can't call this a bad record. All the while Washington's indie darlings are carrying a heyday-weight which may only serve to hold them down. However, if No Cities... happens to reveal seminal albums like Dig Me Out and the band's self-titled debut to a new audience then we can’t complain.
Any mention of Noah Lennox’s moniker Panda Bear is always going to include a reference to his 2007 album Person Pitch in the same breath. For its moment it was a seminal work and is fairly considered a pinnacle in the evolution of alternative electronic music, blending instrumentation with a collective patchwork mentality. With Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper he has managed to reach similar heights in terms of quality, what remains to be seen is whether or not the moment has passed. Grim Reaper is far more muscular, favouring pop-sensitive structures with shorter running times over the sprawling architecture of his previous efforts. Naturally these are pop songs on Lennox’s terms, so are coated in glitches, clicks, trills and wobbles. Yet this layer is the essential dynamic of his music: by creating a wall of disturbance the eventual emergence of a melody is all the more potent. The album is also paced brilliantly, blossoming with a breathtaking high point between its 8th and 11th tracks. This begins with the ballad Tropic of Cancer, which may be one of the finest pieces of music Lennox has produced under any of his umbrella of acts. An elegant and intimate affair, the vocal performance and looped classical guitar practically dance with each-other. It is the sound of an artist so comfortable in his own headspace he can create impact with the smallest of motions. The album also showcases why Noah Lennox may ultimately be a more valuable asset on his own, as opposed to part of Animal Collective. Merriweather Post Pavilion aside, their work has suffered from slight inconsistencies in vision evident most clearly in the cluttered Centipede HZ. The same accusation cannot be levelled at Panda Bear, with Grim Reaper proving his clarity and focus once again. The question of relevance is then the only thorn left in the album’s side. It is true that the sonic landscape of Grim Reaper... no longer sounds new and certainly can’t expect the attention of Person Pitch. Yet when the music is of this standard, questioning its value in the zeitgeist seems facetious. Possibly predictable, but completely welcome.
Sometimes it’s a mistake to try and peg new artists by analysing their musical heritage: after all, any musician worth their salt is going to be much more than the sum of their parts. But in the case of Ghost Culture – the stage name of the genuinely exciting new talent James Greenwood – the musical path he’s taken to his debut album and the influences his songs evoke speak volumes. Cutting his teeth working on Death in Vegas’s Trans Love Energies, engineering Daniel Avery’s elliptical Drone Logic, and then releasing his album on Erol Alkan’s Phantasy label: these are all massively relevant factors in understanding the Ghost Culture sound. The wonky opening track Answer is cut from the same cloth as DJ Koze’s magical musical cape – but erupts into more muscular acid perambulations. Oddball lullabies crop up more than once, doused in the sort of ragged romanticism that LCD Soundsystem used to muster. In fact, Greenwood’s half-whispered vocals are not a million miles away from James Murphy’s more reflective moments, and the standout Guidecca is a distant cousin of LCD’s classic Someone Great. And perhaps best of all, Ghost Culture gives the distinct impression that he’s barely begun to flex his musical muscles. Mouth, the single that announced his arrival and received rave reviews, is the final track, and bizarrely comes across as almost an afterthought on an album groaning under the weight of the quality of the preceding material.
! Davy Reed
! Billy Black
! Angus Harrison
! Adam Corner
MARK KOZELEK Sings Christmas Carols Caldo Verde Records
PANDA BE AR Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper Domino Records
Film This month wasn't a case of the good, the bad and the Bill Murray after all. With Paddington proving to be a pocket rocket by deliberating modern politics and British identity via the prism of a kids’ film and everyone’s favourite Benedict proving enough to decipher the hammy script of The Imitation Game, sadly even the ever-magnetic Uncle Bill wasn't enough to deflect us from the mediocrity of St Vincent. Stations of the Cross provided us the essence of low key story telling with a grounded and shivering assessment of Catholicism, before Christopher Nolan arched our eyes to the skies, mouths agape in the big booming science fiction blockbuster Interstellar. Have a nice Christmas, kids.
ST. VINCENT dir: Theodore Melfi Starring: Bill Murray, Naomi Watts, Melissa McCarthy Bill Murray is Vincent, a guy ineffectively battling his debts through gambling and awaiting a baby with a Russian prostitute (Naomi Watts) whilst drinking heavily to forget it all. It’s only the arrival of new neighbours which shakes up his stagnant existence. Things may be bad for Vincent, but it turns out his neighbours are dealing with the fallout of a recent divorce which has left Melissa McCarthy’s Maggie a single mum fending for her son Oliver. And through his eyes we begin to see Vincent’s misgivings aren’t (entirely) his own fault and thus, through Oliver’s trust, Vincent’s transformation begins. St. Vincent doesn’t scream originality; there’s a fair dose of Bill Murray doing stuff shots weaved between musical intersections to keep the film moving. But aside from Naomi Watts' ridiculous Russian accent, the low key performances feed into the simple story well; Jaeden Lieberher channels Oliver with the freakish levity of a 1980s Macaulay Culkin, McCarthy develops the story expertly while Bill Murray, well, does Bill Murray. And as the film arcs toward its teary-eyed school auditorium ending, it all becomes another bread and butter / cheese on toast indie, unashamedly driven by the public’s admiration for its lead man. ! Tim Oxley Smith
INTERSTELLAR dir. Christopher Nolan Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine As the world finds itself in the depths of imagined space travel and on the brink of actually experiencing it, Christopher Nolan must have known the potential of crafting a film that sends our minds and souls into space just before our bodies. Apply some Hollywood A-list, a big budget and a story worth believing and journeying to space feels even more real than it is in the news. Christopher Nolan, along with his brother and co-writer Jonathan, achieves this by poising the film as three acts. The first establishes Earth’s imminent expiration as crops and humanity starts to fail. The relevance of the socio-political sci-fi thinking lays the foundations for the second act, which is where the spectacle really begins. And it doesn’t disappoint. Nolan has previously demonstrated his directorial transient qualities in altering linear narratives (Memento) or toying with perceived realities (Inception) but Interstellar shines so brightly by being as visually stimulating as it is narratively abstract. Into the third act, where Nolan launches into astro-philosophy – almost like Kubrick’s conclusion of 2001 – whereby everything logical and illogical is in contention. Here love is chosen over cold Kubrickian reason to answer the ‘big questions’ laid out. With this stunning film, Nolan has recognised the social catharsis of a sci-fi with broad appeal. ! Tim Oxley Smith
STATIONS OF THE CROSS dir. Dietrich Brüggemann Starring: Lucie Aron, Anna Brüggemann, Michael Kamp If there’s an astute conclusion to be drawn from Stations Of The Cross, it is that of the director’s palpable distaste for the archaic fundamentalism of the Catholic church. Lead character Maria, whose vulnerable yet unwavering commitment to the indoctrination she suffers at the hands of the local Priest and her overbearing mother, is played with torturously believable conviction by first-timer Lea Van Acken. She lives out the 14 Catholic ‘Stations’ or depictions ultimately leading to the death of Christ on the cross. Shot in 14 static single frame scenes, the austere and fixed nature of this framing almost acts to compliment the dated nature of the canon enforced by the film’s villains. Salvation presents itself through a choirboy who seeks to attract Maria’s countenance and her sister, whose post-pubescent intelligence offers Maria warmth and guidance as the film escalates, but the damage has been done. Leaving the viewer inherently cold, Stations Of The Cross’s starkness makes it an extremely tough but ultimately affirming film that addresses the effect such rigid and fundamentally flawed beliefs have on the most vulnerable in our society – children.
! Thomas Frost
PADDINGTON dir: Paul King Starring: Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville The bear from deepest, darkest Peru arrives at cinemas in the depths of another winter in another shit year for Britain. Adapted and directed by Paul King (best known for his work on The Mighty Boosh), he takes Michael Bond’s cherished books and places their main attraction in the modern day. Crack came expecting a toy advert, using the adorable immigrant to sell cinema tickets rather than teddies. Instead, King applies the compelling position Paddington holds in the national identity to promote a political message. And once we’ve warmed to this new imagining of Paddington (voiced cordially by Ben Whishaw) the subliminal notions begin to emerge. We realise that Mr Curry, the bitter, narrow-minded neighbour in tweed played by Peter Capaldi, looks suspiciously like Nigel Farage; Nicole Kidman, playing the villainous taxidermist, sports an identical hairdo to Theresa May (not to mention similar sociopathic tendencies). Is this just coincidence? Do these right wing politicians just look like villains, and it’s all in our heads? Or, conversely, is Paddington packing a lot more than just marmalade sandwiches in that red hat of his? Paddington is a cheerful and witty reminder that liberal values and nice manners are better than being xenophobic and dead inside. ! Tim Oxley Smith
THE IMITATION GAME dir: Morten Tyldum Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Charles Dance
The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing (Cumberbatch), the mathematician and cryptanalyst credited by Churchill as making ‘the single biggest contribution to Allied victory’ during the Second World War. Cumberbatch is magnificent in his portrayal of Turing, and is fully deserving of the plethora of Oscar buzz after a career-affirming 2014. The supporting cast put in solid efforts and the original score by the award-scooping Alexandre Desplat adds to the film’s highbrow aspirations, but functionally serves to smooth over the occasionally formulaic and clunky script. The Imitation Game fails to fully cover all its chosen topics (the war, the development of computer science, the repression of homosexuality) – in particular the latter. Choosing not to show Turing with a male partner whilst ‘overplaying’ his relationship with colleague Joan Clarke (Knightley) is indicative of a script as old-fashioned as the year it was set. Despite these shortcomings, it has had a vital impact, both in engendering awareness of Turing and his astonishing body of work, and provoking a long-overdue conversation about the persecution him and thousands of others faced at the hands of the country he was instrumental in saving. ! Tamsyn Aurelia-Eros Black
VOL:2 A BIG BIG LOVE... MANCHESTER ACADEMY
Sat May 23 2015 performing their classic album shakespeare alabama
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Until Sunday 22 February 2015 #JosephinePryde
IBT15 Bristol International Festival
A major exhibition that examines touch sensitivity in a new photographic series, installed alongside a miniature train that will travel through the first floor galleries.
Willem de Rooij Until Sunday 8 February 2015 #WillemdeRooij An exhibition featuring a politicallycharged photographic work in a new installation that explores themes of individuality, protest and representation. (Image left) Peter McMaster, 27, Photo by Julia Bauer. (Image right) Josephine Pryde, Here Do You Want To, 2014. Courtesy Galerie Neu, Berlin, Simon Lee Gallery, London and Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York. Supported by
Thursday 12 February to Sunday 15 February 2015 In Between Time and Arnolfini present a mix of extraordinary theatre, music, dance, live art, exhibitions, talks, parties and large-scale public artworks.
Grounded Wednesday 28 January to Saturday 31 January A play about war, family and what it is to be a woman.
Arnolfini 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA arnolfini.org.uk @arnolfiniarts
HERE AND NOWHERE ELSE PITCHFORK : 8.7/10 THE GUARDIAN HHHH TIME OUT HHHH SPIN : 8/10 STEREOGUM : ALBUM OF THE WEEK METRO HHHH THE 405 : 9/10 ROCK SOUND : 8/10 THE LINE OF BEST FIT : 8.5/10 DROWNED IN SOUND : 8/10 DIY MAGAZINE HHHH MUSIC OMH HHHH
M E R R Y
X M A S
TIME OUT: HHHH
NEW YORK TIMEs : “mesmerising”
DrowNeD IN soUND: 8/10 Mojo: 4/5 - “An uber-melodious debut” NMe: 8/10 - “Cheatahs is a gleaming pop wrecking ball taken to the sonic cathedral” arTroCker: 4/5 - “Cheatahs debut sets the bar for debuts for 2014”
NME: 8/10 “a record of soulful depths and heady, emotional highs” lOUd & QUIET: “the band’s finest to date” lONdON IN s TEREO: “their best yet”
H A P P Y
N E W
“Those voices, combined with their raw stripped-down guitar-bass arrangements and simple nursery rhyme-goesAmericana melodies, make for an arresting combination” – The Guardian –
VICe: “Best Album Of The Month”
A N D
“Armed with just two guitars, the duo reel you in with seriously catchy hooks and achieve more depth with these songs than any drum kit ever could.” – NME –
Y E A R
F R O M
four four four new new new albums albums albums available available available now now now
A L L
W I C H I TA
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b us h h a l l , wed 21 j a n
t h e we e k s
the p ha nto m ba nd
t h e gara ge, thu 22 jan
the l ex i ngto n , wed 4 fe b
ko d al in e
h eave n , t h u 1 2 fe b
the rou ndho use, tue 17 fe b
g e o rg e th e p o et
s und ara ka r m a
o s l o, m on 2 3 fe b
s eb ri g h t a r m s, wed 25 fe b
b l o n de
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o s l o, t h u 2 6 fe b
d i ng wa l l s, wed 11 m a r b u y ticke ts at live n ation .co. u k
Thurs 18 Dec Eat Your Own Ears Xmas Party
THE SMYTHS Wed 31 Dec House Of Jealous Lovers NYE
A BOWIE ODYSSEY Sat 10 Jan
DIGNAN PORCH MORNING SMOKE PUSHER Fri 23 Jan
POP. 1280 & SUPPORT Sat 24 Jan
Mon 26 Jan
BLACK MOTH Wed 28 Jan
MEAT WAVE Thurs 29 Jan
THE PAPERHEAD Fri 30 Jan
EAUX Sat 7 Feb
TALES OF MURDER & DUST Sat 21 Feb
DUSTIN WONG Sun 22 Feb
CULT OF DOM KELLER
CULT OF YOUTH
Sat 28 Feb
SHACKLEWELL ARMS 71 Shacklewell Lane E8 2EB—shacklewellarms.com—@ShacklewellArms
T HE L OCK TAV ERN 3 5 Ch alk Fa rm Ro a d L o n d o n NW 1 8 A J 0 2 0 74 8 2 7 1 6 3 lock-tavern.com | @thelocktavern | #thelocktavern
Sun 7 Dec B A D V I B R AT I O N S THE RHUBARB TRIANGLE RELICS T H E V E N U S LY X TUSK FLEMMINGS Thurs 11 Dec RIP RECORDS XMAS SPECIAL TANGER INE S ABJECTS ANIMAL HOUSE Fri 1 2 D e c DOUBLE DENIM SOUNDSYSTEM Sat 13 Dec FREE CARE (MEDA FURY) Sun 14 Dec SEEDS OF DOUBT SLUSHY GUT VIRGIN KIDS Wed 17 Dec DRESSMAKER S K Y BE T W EEN LE AV E S
Thurs 18 Dec PINK FILM NEIGHBOUR Fri 19 D e c BRAZIL Sat 27 Dec HIGH FIDELITY Sun 28 Dec GET LOW CARTEL Wed 31 Dec L O C K TAV E R N N Y E H ATCH AM SOCI A L MIDNIGHT A GO-GO ICE COLD COOL FOR CAT S Sat 3 Jan LARRY SUN Fri d ay 9 Ja n DOUBLE DENIM SOUNDSYSTEM Sat 10 Jan SORCERY (BOY 8-BIT) RIOTOUS ROCKERS A LV I N C
The Waiting Room Wed 10 Dec
R. SEILIOG Fri 12 Dec
THE BLACK MIST Tues 16 Dec
TAYLOR & MARIE Wed 31 Dec
PLAYHOUSE NYE Wed 7 Jan
F.U.R.S (RESIDENCY) STRONG ASIAN MOTHERS Wed 14 Jan
F.U.R.S (RESIDENCY) PSYCHIC MAKERS
Wed 21 Jan
F.U.R.S (RESIDENCY) LEAVE THE PLANET Thurs 22 Jan
OCEAÁN Tues 27 Jan
CYMBALS Wed 28 Jan
F.U.R.S (RESIDENCY) JAMES BRUTE Thurs 29 Jan
OCEAÁN Wed 4 Feb
NEW DESERT BLUES Mon 23 Feb
JAY BROWN (Underneath The Three Crowns) 175 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 0LH waitingroomn16.com facebook.com/waitingroomn16 • twitter.com/waitingroomn16
Upcoming London Shows www.rockfeedbackconcerts.com
FAT WHITE FAMILY GHOSTPOET BALTHAZAR
Village Underground Monday 26th January
St Pancras Old Church Monday 26th January
TELEMAN THE WYTCHES GENGAHR
Village Underground Tuesday 27th January
Lexington Islington Tuesday 27th January
Shacklewell Arms Dalston Wednesday 28th January
Scala Kings Cross Wednesday 28th January
Thursday 5 March
OSLO Hackney Monday 2nd February
Electrowerkz Islington Thursday 12th February
THE WAVE PICTURES
Part of WOW
Friday 6 February
Dylan Howe Sunday 8 February
Wednesday 11 February
Friday 10 – Saturday 11 April
Perfume Genius Wednesday 10 June
0844 847 9910 southbankcentre.co.uk
Photo © Paul Heartfield
Islington Assembly Hall Friday 2Oth February
1OO Club Soho
Village Underground Thursday 26th February
Electric Ballroom Camden Tuesday 3rd March
1OO Club Soho Thursday 5th March
1OO Club Soho
Wednesday 25th February
SOLD FATHERO U T JOHN MISTY ARIEL PINK
Friday 24th April
Dingwalls Soho Tuesday 19th May
Roundhouse Camden Thursday 21st May
Get tickets and full info at: www.rockfeedbackconcerts.com
Started from the bottom now I'm Denz.
Have you been to this bloody cereal cafe on Brick Lane yet? Even the most hardened hipsters have got to be cynical of the two clowns who run this joint. A cafe that sells nothing but cereal? Jog on. Me and my mate want to run behind them, boot them in the gonads and ask them for a bowl of their Nut Crunch. You get it Denz? Nut Crunch. Nuts as in their genitals, and crunch because of the crunching pain they’ll feel when I kick them.
I’m doing an internship at a design company I love, but I can’t hack the boozy lunch breaks. Everyday these guys go a pub and drink five or six pints. When we get back to the office, I can barely keep my eyes open. I’d rather just stay at the computer with my sandwiches, but I don’t want to miss out on networking opportunities. Is this just what the creative industries are like?
I’ve got a super normcore office job. It’s alright, and the people I work with are pretty sound, but they’ve decided to do a pub crawl on Stoke Newington high street for the Christmas party. That’s where all my trendiest friends drink, and last time I went out round there I saw Sky Ferreira. The worst part is that the boss says festive jumpers are ‘compulsory’. If I sack it off, does that make me a snob?
Pete, 21, Nottingham
Sally, 24, Hackney Wick
In all honesty, I’m just glad to hear that these chaps are doing business the old fashioned way. Back in the glory days, a bottle of single malt and a few packs of Woodbines were imperative at any meeting. And this all took place inside the office walls. Ditch the fizzy pop and stick to the booze son, it’ll put hairs on your chest.
The office Christmas do is a fine British tradition, an opportunity to bond with those who might hold the keys to your prosperity. The true go-getter understands that these people are much more important than your friends – and your family. So I say you should wear that woolly jumper with pride Sally. Heck, put on an elf’s hat while you’re at it. Because at the end of the day, these ‘movers and shakers’ you’re so fond of probably still borrow rent money from their mum.
Grant, 29, Swansea Denzil says: You’re speaking to the wrong six-time CEO, my friend. When Denzil Schniffermann walks past an establishment and sees a queue of 30+ digital marketing types queuing up to pay £4 for a bowl of Froot Loops, I’ve got to doff my cap and say know what, these boys have really got something here. Next time you check your bank balance at the end of the month and all you can afford for sustenance is a box of Cookie Crisp, think of these two.
by Josh Baines
Ariel Pink wakes up and admires his silken mane in the mirror. He sits there for 30 minutes, doing nothing but looking at himself, thinking of nothing other than thinking about how he looks in the mirror. He is a plain man. He is a man who wasn’t ever looked at as a boy. He sits gazing into his own eyes,
eyes that know they’ll never know true love. He drags his laptop down into the kitchen and takes 13 photos of himself on Photobooth, something he’s done every day for the past 13 months. 13 unsmiling photos. Last night he’d been interviewed by a French maga-
zine. They interviewer called him a genius and Pink had agreed with him. Pink had also told the interviewer that he thought Beverly Knight was “despicable”, that Lisa Stansfield “made him want to fucking puke” and that Lolly “should have choked on one”. His grin melts into a snigger. Ariel Pink is a genius.
The Crack Magazine Crossword Across 02. A type of edible grain which is a bit like couscous and isn’t pronounced how it’s spelt and the sooner everyone stops pretending to fucking like it the sooner we can go on with our lives (6) 03. Egg-shaped (4) 04. Many-limbed chap who lives in the sea (7) 06. All over the shop (10) 07. . ___ and Sensibility; Non___. What, you still haven’t got it? Christ, you’re such an idiot. OK, The Sixth ____. Now leave me alone (5) 08. Peter Pan’s ends (9) 12. Twat it with a stick to get some sweets (6) 15. Buzzkill (5,6) 16. Himalayan country (5) 17. Peng-quaffing TV cook. We still love her (7) Down 01. Of sea and seamen (8) 03. That poor bastard Preston who stormed off Buzzcocks is still flogging this dead horse (8,4) 05. A government who keep trying to interfere in your business all the time. Back off yeah (5-5) 09. 5,878,000,000,000 miles (9) 10. The most famous album ever to have a naked baby on the front (9) 11. All-powerful (10) 13. Luxurious (7) 14. Motor that’s good for the environment (5) Solution to last month’s crossword: ACROSS: 02. JAM, 04. KIPPER, 06. MICHAEL-MYERS, 07. MOOSE, 08. KILIMANJARO, 13. JUMPER, 14. LEFTFIELD, 15. LINKED-IN DOWN: 01. LUMP 02. JURASSIC-5, 03. MINT, 05. MELODRAMATIC, 08. KOOKY, 09. LETTERMAN, 10. JOHNSTON, 11. KINDLE, 12. KIPLING, 13. JIG
The Wu-Tang Clan are always squabbling aren’t they? And of all the members, their fall outs probably hit the somewhat peripheral Clansman Cappadonna the hardest. Following a public dispute with RZA over royalties and the revelation that his manger was snitching to the FBI, Cap’s verses were deleted from the group’s 2001 album Iron Flag and his face wiped from the cover art (although, due to a photoshop blunder, his leg was still visible). Once ejected from the world’s biggest rap group, Cappadonna found himself living rough on the streets of Baltimore. But with his chin held high, he managed to record his solo albumThe Struggle while using his car as an unlicensed taxi cab. “It’s not only a good way for me to get a little bit of extra money, it makes me one with the people”, he told MTV. “I hear a lot of different stories in the cab.” And once reunited with his fellow lyrical swordsmen, Cappadonna remained as humble as ever. “The Cab Driver / Drop ‘em off in the middle of fire,” he boasted on the Wu posse cut 9 Milli Bros. No shame in the game, son.
20 Questions: DFA1979's Jesse F. Keeler From the second we laid eyes on him, we knew Jesse F. Keeler was a cool motherfucker. Wrangling piercing, turgid, grubby, burrowing, deafening, coital, audacious sounds from something so simple as a Rickenbacker bass and singlehandedly reintroducing the handlebar moustache into alternative culture – this guy was a keeper. After Death From Above 1979 self-immolated in a blaze of feedback back in the mid-00s, he continued to show his bold lust for progression, forming MSTRKRFT and releasing trashy, bashy robotic funk back when it was the sole domain of the French and dubstep was some freaky neologism which actually bore some relation to dub. So now that DFA1979 have resumed leaving a trail of unsuspecting venues rubbled in their wake, we’re thrilled to have Jesse back in our lives. With the recent release of Life After Death From Above, a documentary capturing the band’s reformation, we called him up and asked him 20 stupid questions while he cackled wildly between hearty puffs on a cigarette.
What was your favourite cartoon when you were a kid? Captain Caveman.
Have you ever worn a cowboy hat and boots? Yes, absolutely!
Favourite member of Slipknot? Oh, that’s so tough man. My first instinct is to say Joey. I’ll say Joey. I know he’s left, but he’s a fucking hummingbird.
If you could pick a surrogate grandparent, who would it be? Also Clint Eastwood.
And your favourite character in The Wire? I never saw it! I get asked about that show all the time. Do you support a sports team? Well, my wife is from Essex and her whole family is West Ham, so I’m stuck with that. It’s kinda funny, I understand their pain cause it’s kinda like supporting any team from Toronto. It’s like, we’re pretty good, but never that good – but we’re big fans! We watch every game! When they got back into the Premiership I had a big party at my house.
When is the last time you sprinted as fast as you can? Like, a week ago. I have a farm, everything’s really far away. If you wanna get to anything you run as fast as you can but it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. Have you ever been arrested? Err... I’ve never been charged. Definitely spent some time in the back of a cop car though. What’s your worst habit? Saying ‘like’.
What’s the most overrated album of all time? Shit, that’s tough. There are so many but I don’t wanna sound like an asshole. It’s sorta relative, but for me, whatever that Nirvana album with Smells Like Teen Spirit on it. See, I don’t even know the name! [laughs] It wasn’t a big deal for me cause I was already in this punk scene, I was like – what’s the big deal? Haven’t you guys heard Fugazi?!
Would you go for a pint with Kanye West? Yeah, I’d be curious.
What’s your favourite sitcom? Well, I’ve never seen it, but I’ll say Only Fools and Horses, my wife’s family always say I remind them of the old guy from that show.
What would you want written on your tombstone? I come from a long line of undertakers, so we own a lot of burial plots that keep getting passed down for the last couple hundred years. And all they have on them are names and dates. That’s all I want.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met? Clint Eastwood. He was cool as shit, too. What’s your signature recipe? Chicken Tikka Masala. I have a lot of family from India.
Rate these in order of how much you like them: Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Daniel Day-Lewis? [laughs maniacally] Danny DeVito would go last. I don’t think he’s funny. Day-Lewis would be number ONE, mainly for his moustache in There Will Be Blood.
Simple Things presents Life After Death From Above at The Cube, Bristol, 9 January. Tickets are available from tickets.crackmagazine.net
Favourite cereal? Honey Bunches of Oats. Wayne’s World or Bill & Ted? Oh Wayne’s World, of course. If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play? The Flamingos. Ever taken acid? Nope.
“I met Clint Eastwood. He was cool as shit, too”
2014 AND the death of cynicism I’m a political obsessive. This conference season I was streaming speeches in their entirety and I’m still somehow reading books about the economic crisis. You’d think writing 2014’s political eulogy would be an exciting opportunity, but it’s not.
windows where they do their photo shoots. Nope, we spent 2014 drinking in the safety of bars with exposed brickwork, which serve food on camping plates and stock craft beer poured by barmen with wellmaintained moustaches.
The debate’s dominated by opinions taken straight from the bartender of a local boozer that’s crying out for Wetherspoons to put it out of its misery. Yet somehow the politicians spouting this bullshit have forced the people we did vote for to ape their every move.
But if you ignore Westminster for a bit, there’s a lot of positive stuff happening. In the 90s, revolutionaries like Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna wrote punk songs and zines to create solidarity, and 2014’s feminist added Twitter and the ion canon of internet rage to their arsenal. Crowdsourced rage can be quite the force, as Apple found out with the coercive Songs of Innocence release, and this year we saw how effectively it shut down Dapper Laughs and reduced a hapless scientist to tears.
That’s why the discussion has devolved to the point where you have to start by re-establishing that any problem, from traffic jams to low wages, isn’t caused by Johnny Forensescu, a mythical Romanian beast who’s able to exist in the mutuallyopposing states of being a BENEFIT TOURIST while also STEALING YOUR JOB. It’s getting tiring. But it’s not like we hear that stuff outside of the news anyway. We’re not bumping into these politicians in their taxidermyclad country club headquarters or those pubs with Sun posters Blu-Tacked on the
Emily Maitlis tried to debate the aforementioned fictional character on Newsnight, pressing him on the seemingly ridiculous idea of his audience taking everything he says literally. To her credit, for Daniel O’Reilly’s “internet sensation” to push the boundaries under the comedian’s protective veil of irony he would have to offer more than sub-Danny Dyer cultural
insights and shit jokes. That said, let’s not waste too much time attacking a physicist with a Rosetta Project spaceship tattoo and a seriously naff shirt. Even more exciting than the internet’s ability to question – and occasionally destroy – people who go against the general tenants of liberalism is the kind of awesomeness we saw in Ellen Page and Emma Watson’s speeches about equality (about coming out and sexism, respectively). They were snapshots of a movement that’s percolating through popular culture and can be seen among many writers, artist, comedians and actors who took centre stage this year. There’s no point in being cynical about the cheap stuff either, whether it’s Pharrell’s hat at the Grammys or the Sharknado sequel. The penny really dropped when a freshlyoiled Kim Kardashian published her spent champagne and Hiyah! Smile birthday suit photos. That’s what it took to remind me it’s important not to dwell on whether the human race will survive the endless Jihad, being drowned by our own filthy capitalist excess and the rapid ascent of Ukip. It’s more interesting to stop being cynical and revel in the astounding pop madness we’ve created.
From John Oliver to the epic True Detective, 2014’s critical output was mindblowingly good. The latter saw Harrelson and McConaughey’s Oscar-worthy performances drag you into the insectinfested southern states to follow a 17-year hunt for a serial killer. And even with episode titles like The Long Bright Dark, it’s probably the best TV ever made. My ode to 2014 is to celebrate culture, whether it’s cheap and disposable or nuanced cinema-quality drama, and to stop obsessing about politics. That’s why I ended the year watching endless comic book movies, reading books like Hunger Games and Hermione Granger and the Narcissistic Boy Wizard, wearing high tops and upcycling, and stopped getting irate every time someone talks bullshit about immigration on the TV. Words: Christopher Goodfellow mediaspank.net Illustration: Lee Nutland leenutland.com
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the chemical brothers, autechre, kindness, evian christ, fat freddyâ€™s drop, daniel avery, ten walls, lee gamble, sophie, holly herndon, pxxr gvng, kiasmos, kate tempest, tourist, vessel, helena hauff, mans o, niĂąo and more to be announced. www.sonar.es an initiative of
in collaboration with
Featuring Yukimi Nagano, Best Of 2014, Mastodon, Tim Sweeney, TOPS, Powell, Alex G, Panda Bear and Jesse F. Keeler (DFA1979).