Page 1

Issue 78

Omar Souleyman


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TATE MODERN 12 JUL – 22 OC T 2017

ART IN THE AGE OF BL ACK POWER Supported by

With additional support from Tate Patrons, Tate Americas Foundation and Tate Members Barkley L. Hendricks Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People – Bobby Seale) 1969 (detail) Collection of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky © Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Superman S-Shield © & ™ DC Comics. Used with permission

SOU THWARK


01

20 - 22 October, Across Bristol

Metronomy (Opening Concert)

Daphni Clark Juan Atkins (4hrs)

Shackleton GAIKA Jlin (Sandy) Alex G Jane Weaver Marie Davidson Shanti Celeste Childhood Carla dal Forno Sassy J TRAAMS Kelly Lee Owens Oliver Wilde Warmduscher

Nadine Shah IDLES The Bug ft Miss Red Dekmantel Soundsystem Lorenzo Senni Cakes Da Killa Binh Diet Cig Intergalactic Gary Willow Inga Mauer Roi Perez + Many more TBA Plus:

MIXPAK Showcase ft. Special guests Special Guest:

London Astrobeat Orchestra performing Talking Heads

www.simplethingsfestival.co.uk


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KRAFTWERK BERLIN

BERLIN ATONAL

16-20.08.2017


4 NIGHTS EPICUREAN JOURNEY ACROSS THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA www.mdrnty-cruise.com

16-20

GENOVA BARCELONA

SEPT.

MALLORCA IBIZA GENOVA

2017

SVEN VÄTH ◆ JAMIE JONES ◆ DIXON GUY GERBER ◆ BEN KLOCK BY ALPHABETICAL ORDER

ADOLPHO & FRANKY ◆ ADRIATIQUE ◆ ALCI ◆ ALEJANDRO MOSSO (LIVE) ALEX NIGGEMANN ◆ ANDRÉ GALLUZZI ◆ ANDREA OLIVA ◆ ANTHEA ARAPU ◆ ARCHIE HAMILTON ◆ ARGENIS BRITO (LIVE) ◆ AUDIOFLY BARAC ◆ BLOND:ISH ◆ CHRISTIAN BURKHARDT (LIVE) DAMIAN LAZARUS ◆ DANA RUH ◆ DEWALTA B2B MIKE SHANNON DJEBALI ◆ D’JULZ ◆ DJ LE ROI ◆ DJ TENNIS ◆ dOP (LIVE) ENZO SIRAGUSA ◆ FABE ◆ GESCU ◆ GIANNI CALLIPARI GIORGIO MAULINI ◆ GUTI (LIVE) ◆ HECTOR ◆ HERODOT ◆ ILARIO ALICANTE JAMES MC HALE ◆ JON CHARNIS ◆ KENNY GLASGOW LIVIO & ROBY ◆ MADNAX ◆ MAGDA ◆ MARKUS FIX ◆ MARTIN BUTTRICH MASAYA ◆ MATHEW JONSON (LIVE) ◆ NIMA GORJI ◆ OSHANA (LIVE) PAUL RITCH ◆ RANDALL M ◆ RICK MAIA ◆ RIPPERTON ROLLS ‘N’ DO (tINI & BILL PATRICK) ◆ ROSSKO ◆ RYAN CROSSON SHAUN REEVES ◆ SEB ZITO ◆ SEBASTIAN MULLAERT (LIVE) SONJA MOONEAR ◆ STACEY PULLEN ◆ SUBB-AN SUCRÉ SALÉ & KATE ELSWORTH ◆ TIM GREEN (LIVE) WHO ◆ YOKOO STAGE HOSTS


Ovation ADULT.

Design by Doeller & Satter

Richard Fearless

Ovation 03—08—2017

Oval Space’s pioneering live music series. It’s mission statement is simple; to bring enterprising new sounds and artists to the capital. Having already featured shows with Ben Frost, Bugge Wesseltoft, Clap! Clap!, Daedelus, Death in Vegas, Howling, HVOB, Red Axes, Rival Consoles, Romare, Shigeto, TOKiMONSTA and many more, Ovation is truly cementing itself as a forward thinking promoter, working across a multitude of London venues. On Thursday 3rd August, ADULT. will be playing at the Moth Club supported by Richard Fearless. Tickets are available online.

Moth Club Hackney E9 6NU www.ovationmusic.co.uk


fabric July 2017

1st July

15th July

Room 01

Room 01

Mind Against Edward (Live) Romans (Tin Man & Gunnar Haslam)

Lovebox After Dark Craig Richards Ricardo Villalobos Nicolas Lutz Ion Ludwig (Live)

8th July Room 01

Guy Gerber Thugfucker Acid Mondays

Room 02

Nonplus Boddika Henning Baer Jay Clarke 21st July

14th July Room 01

Lovebox After Dark Seth Troxler KiNK (Live) Terry Francis

FABRICLIVE 93: Daphni Launch Room 01

Daphni (5 Hour Set) Mark Ernestus

Room 02

Room 02

Monki & Friends Monki William Djoko Lauren Lo Sung

Mall Grab Ross From Friends (Live) Willow 22nd July Room 01

Birdhouse Claude VonStroke Catz n Dogz Weiss 29th July Room 01

Nastia Thomas Melchoir Maayan Nidam (Live) Bruce

77A Charterhouse Street, London EC1. Opening times: 11pm — 7am. Check www.fabriclondon.com for advance tickets, prices and further info. fabric 92: Call Super, Out Now. fabric 93: Soul clap, Out Now. fabric 94: Steffi, Available 16th July.


015 Crack Magazine is a free and independent platform for contemporary culture Published and distributed monthly by Crack Industries Ltd. For any distribution enquiries please contact distribution@crackmagazine.net

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11.-13. August 2017

Fuchsbau Festival Art | Music | Performances | Debates

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019

Contents

Regular Features Editorial - 21 Out of Office New Music - 25 From the periphery

Omar Souleyman - 26 Omar Souleyman cuts a singular figure in electronic music. The Syrian singer's wedding music is so propulsive that it has thrilled crowds across the world. With his own heart gripped by the conflict in his home country, Souleyman has made his most direct and compelling work yet. By Gabriel Szatan

Reviews - 70 Gig reports, product reviews and our verdict on the latest releases in music and film

Perspective - 98 In the light of the recent developments in UK politics, Anna Cafolla lays out the toxic policies of the DUP party and those fighting against them.

Angus Thomas Paterson meets the man behind the mask – cult Drexciyan DJ Sherard Ingram

Laurel Halo - 40 Through her releases on Hyperdub, the Berlin-based producer has carved out a specific weirdness. As Emma Robertson finds out, she's pushing this to its limits on her latest album

ISelf feature - 58 There's no doubt we're in the age of the selfie, but how often do we stop and examine what it all means? Alice Nicolov tracks the exhibition tracing the selfie through art history

Aesthetic: Evian Christ - 62 Through his Trance Party, his look and his music, the experimental producer is forging a deeper connection with his hometown. Niloufar Haidari hears more alongside our extended editorial

Jlin - 34 Holly Herndon interviews the exhilarating producer about footwork dancers, overcoming and the power of creating from a dark place

crackmagazine.net

20 Questions: Shaun Ryder - 97 The Mancunian partystarter talks valium, spiced monkfish and Grand Theft Auto with Davy Reed

DJ Stingray - 54

Alex McCullough - 48 Ali Gitlow hears how the Whities art director maps the creative identity of the label of the moment

Royal Trux - 44 The notorious avant-garde rockers have reformed to considerable fanfare, and Tom Watson finds them in an appropriately hostile mood

CONTENTS

Turning Points: Ishmael Butler - 95 Theo Kotz calls the Seattle rapper to trace his journey from jazzy boom-bap to Shabazz Palaces’ trippy vision


021

Issue 78 July 2017

Crack Was Made Using Mobb Deep Shook Ones

Garrett Slow Motion

Donnie and Joe Emerson Baby

Bullion Blue Pedro

Young Thug You Said

Big Boi Freakanomics

Sheer Mag Respect the Bayonet

Wiki Pretty Bull

Lanark Artefax Touch Absence

DJ Nervoso Ah Ah

Batu Don’t

Mazzy Star Bells Ring

Westside Gunn Rayfuls Plug

Dizzee Rascal Space

Yahoo Nobody’s Diary

Royal Trux Sewers of Mars

Pale Saints King Fade

Arcade Fire Creature Comfort

Floorplan Made Up In My Mind

Herva Slam The Laptop

Maximum Joy White and Green Place

The Happy Mondays God’s Cop

Japanese Breakfast Diving Woman

Vince Staples Crabs in a Bucket

It’s all totally worth it, of course. In recent weeks, our team has witnessed Solange bring new levels of class to the festival circuit with her synchronised stage show, Moodymann cramp thousands of people’s style by dropping Sex on Fire and Stefflon Don instigate a ladies-only stage invasion on our home turf in Bristol. We saw Arcade Fire debut new material, Aphex Twin embrace the the electronic

I can definitely understand why people hate festivals. Camping is gross, the booking fees are a stitch up and there might be that looming anxiety that Frank Ocean isn’t going to show up. But after all these years, I’m still convinced that the best route to emotional transcendence is to join your friends in a field for loud music and flat lager in a plastic cup.

crackmagazine.net

Omar Souleyman shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Javier Castán Bilboa: June 2017

As you’ll have noticed, events coverage is actually a pretty big part of what we do at Crack Magazine. We love it; so when summer arrives, we’re inclined to take on as many festivals as we can handle. Though the Out of Office may be on, if anything, the workload increases. It gets hectic. This isn’t the first time I’ve dived straight into a print deadline before I’ve had a chance to clean the mud off my trainers.

underground’s new generation and Jeremy Corbyn prove that the Labour Party is actually cool again. Mykki Blanco needs an honourable mention here – having been fortunate enough to witness his confrontational punk-rap performance a couple of times this summer, I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s one of the best live acts around. If you happen to work in events, I think you should get in touch with his booking agent.

Davy Reed, Editor

MASTHEAD

As much as I look forward to them, after working here for a few years I’ve learnt to brace myself slightly for the summer months.


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Recommended O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on i n y ou r c i ty DOUG HRE AM BLUNT Jazz Cafe 14 July

MAVIS STAPLES Union Chapel 6 July

DJ SPRINKLES Phonox 16 July

THE GORIES The Garage 14 July

Mavis Staples was around before the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. She’s met David Bowie, shared the stage with Prince, influenced Bob Dylan and was hailed for her contribution to civil rights long before you decided to get woke. The gospel vocalist, actress and activist first made the Staples singers into a household name in the 50s with her raw and raspy voice. Back then, she cemented her status as an icon and now the soul legend will be bringing her charisma to venues across the UK again. Don’t miss out on seeing Staples remind everyone why she’s the coolest.

HOUGHTON FESTIVAL Craig Richards, Nicolas Jaar, Sonja Moonear Houghton Hall, Norfolk 10–13 August There are plenty of boutique festivals just outside of London nowadays. But what sets the newly announced Houghton apart from the competition is that its line-up has been hand picked by fabric resident Craig Richards. His selections are refined, with Ricardo Villalobos, Nicolas Jaar, Floating Points and Tony Allen alongside up-and-comers Vladimir Ivkovic, Yussef Kamaal and Saoirse. Another winning factor is its location. The event will take place on the lush grounds of the Grade I listed building Houghton Hall. In what is likely to be welcome news to anyone who’s been to a boutique festival in recent years, the grounds are said to be a sound level-friendly distance from civilisation, so their “world class sound systems” can truly let rip. A serious new player.

SUNFALL Helena Hauff, Theo Parrish, Motor City Drum Ensemble London 12 August Prices Vary It’s not like there’s a dearth of good parties in London over the summer, but Sunfall – a venture by the teams at Phonox and Croatia’s much-loved Dimensions festival – has been a very welcome addition. Once again, the line-up for the festival’s second edition is very much Crack Magazine approved: the main day event will see the likes of Helena Hauff, Shanti Celeste, DJ Bone, Theo Parrish and enigmatic rapper Jay Electronica perform in the Brockwell park, while there’ll be separately ticketed night parties at London’s most vital clubs including Phonox, Corsica Studios, Village Underground, Bloc and more. Tickets are going quick, mind.

TOTAL FREEDOM Camden Assembly 21 July

BE AUTIFUL SWIMMERS Patterns, Brighton 8 July

OASIS Willow, DJ Stingray, Moodymann Marrakech, Morocco 15-17 September 3rd Release: €159.00

ITALOJOHNSON The Pickle Factory 14 July

Oasis Festival is a pretty enticing proposition even before you take into account its proximity to one of the world’s most vibrant and historic cities. Over the past few years Oasis set a high benchmark for Morocco’s burgeoning festival scene. A luxurious festival situated in the wake of the Atlas Mountains, the electronic festival aims to celebrate both Morocco’s thriving electronic scene and international talent. Nicolas Jaar, DJ Stingray, Moodymann and Willow will be joined by local spinners UNES, Jana and MAR1 for, in their own words, a chance to “dance somewhere different.”

OUTLOOK Dizzee Rascal, Ghostface Killah, Jorja Smith Fort Punta Christo, Croatia 7-10 September £209 Rather than attempting to sell you on the idyllic setting and cheap cigarettes, let’s just take a look at who’s playing at this year’s Outlook. Dizzee Rascal headlines a special opening concert. Once you’re all done celebrating the pioneer of London’s sonic fabric, you can soak up the sounds of the new school. Nines, AJ Tracey and Kojo Funds are all touching down to turn things up. Tony Starks himself aka Ghostface Killah is also playing. So is Giggs. And The Bug. And Lisbon’s finest DJ Marfox. And Drake’s fave Jorja Smith. And Harlem rap god Princess Nokia. Oh, and the weather really will be sensational and the cigs cost next to nothing.

EVENTS

MIKE SERVITO Oval Space 15 July

WARPAINT Somerset House 10 July

JORJA SMITH Electric Brixton 20 July

WHITE FANG Shacklewell Arms 29 July


023 SKINNY GIRL DIET The Lexington 20 July

SALON DES AMATEURS The Pickle Factory 7 July £12.50 A special type of joy arises when truly weird music unites a dancefloor. Salon des Amateurs – a teeny club housed in Düsseldorf’s brutalist art gallery – has built a reputation on pursuing these moments. Lena Willikens might be its most well known resident, but Tolouse Low Trax, Vladimir Ivkovic and Jan Schulte are also excellent DJs tied to the club – each chasing their own brand of blissful freakiness. Travelling from the ‘dorf to Bethnal Green with rarities in hand for this special cultural exchange at The Pickle Factory, the three will provide a taste of the Salon’s wild eclecticism. Diggers, assemble!

LOVEBOX Frank Ocean, Solange , AJ Tracey Victoria Park, London 14-15 July SHEER MAG Islington Assembly Hall 20 July Philly five piece Sheer Mag are the band who embedded the fist-in-the-air euphoria of classic rock riffage with progressive political power, and we can’t thank them enough. “Sheer Mag speak to a modern pain,” reads their new press release, “to a people that too feel their flame on the verge of being extinguished, yet choose to burn a bit brighter in spite of that threat.” Count us in.

A mainstay on the London festival circuit that never fails to provide vibrant, carefree vibes, there’s a lot to look forward to at the Victoria Park blowout this year. First off, they’re one of the two UK festivals who’ve managed to secure the elusive Frank Ocean as a headliner. Joining him on the bill as a headliner is Solange, who’ll no doubt be presenting her new choreographed spectacle. Grime artists Kano and AJ Tracey will be touching down in the capital, while the highly sought-after beatmaker Kaytranada and fast-rising London talent Ray BLK will also be gracing the stage. On top of that, the inimitable Ricardo Villalobos will be spinning on the decks, ensuring that energy levels are kept high.

LUKE VIBERT Brixton Jamm 21 July

DJ YELL A + LIL E A Z Y E XOYO 13 July

JOANNE ROBERTSON Cafe Oto 14 July

ARTIST SELF PUBLISHERS’ FAIR ICA 8 July THE GASLAMP KILLER Rich Mix 13 July

NEOPOP FESTIVAL Kraftwerk 3D, Paula Temple, Helena Hauff Forte Santiago da Barra, Portugal 3-6 August 2017 €105 third release + BF

As the remarkable youth vote turnout for the UK’s general election proved, steps towards a genuinely better world can be achieved when people unite with a positive ideology. Afropunk is an inspiring events series and online community with a global initiative that’s “dedicated to moving the needle of progress closer to a holistic, democratic, and enlightened representation of people of colour within all facets of society”. Having expanded from Brooklyn to host festivals in LA, Atlanta, Paris and Johannesburg, in 2016 Afropunk launched the London leg of the festival at Alexandra Palace. Now taking place at the London’s much-discussed new Printworks venue, the line-up includes neo-soul outfit The Internet, the independently-spirited rapper Little Simz, trippy jazz noodler Thundercat and the likes of Danny Brown, JME and Willow Smith. A weekend for celebration.

THE GASL AMP KILLER Rich Mix 13 July

DAPHNI fabric 21 July

FARMFEST Shobaleader One, Pinch, This Is The Kit Gilcombe Farm, Somerset 28-29 July £89 Located in Somerset – the true spiritual heartland of the British festival – Farmfest brings together good food, great music and a healthy dosage of glitter to create an affordable, uncomplicated and utterly enjoyable weekend. This year, Squarepusher’s phosphorescent Shobaleader One live experience heads up the bill for Friday with a supporting line-up that features Session Victim (who recently turned in a stellar Crack mix) and genre-traversing selector OR:LA. On day two, dub pathfinder Roots Manuva headlines with This Is The Kit and Actress supporting. London’s Astrobeat Orchestra are also doing their show of Talking Heads covers. This must be the place.

For over ten years, NeoPop has brought a compelling cross-section of electronic music to the picturesque town of Viana do Castelo, earning it a rep as one of Portugal’s essential festivals. The 2017 edition adds additional ballast to those claims – particularly with techno pioneers and all-round snazzy dressers Kraftwerk heading up the bill. Crack cover star Helena Hauff, Detroit pioneer DJ Stingray, Innervisions’ Dixon and the monumental Paula Temple are just some of our other personal highlights, but really, you’re spoilt for choice.

DJ E ARL Redon 8 July

LIVIN PROOF Village Underground 28 July

EVENTS

AFROPUNK LONDON Willow Smith, JME, Danny Brown Printworks 22-23 July Day / Weekend: £50 + BF / £90 + BF


CROSSTOWW N CONCERTS

W

P R E S E N T S

T SOLD OU

EXTRA DATE ADDED

PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS

MONDAY 16 OCTOBER 2017

and his banD

ROUNDHOUSE

friday 18 august 2017

o2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

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ELECTRICL O NBALLROOM DON

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29 | 07 | 17 - 30 | 07 | 17

25 | 09 | 17

INDIGO GIRLS

ROBERT FORSTER

17 | 08 | 17

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- ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL

THE DUKE SPIRIT - BUSH HALL -

20 | 08 | 17

LAMBCHOP - ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL

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THE DISTRICTS - THE GARAGE, HIGHBURY -

T - 21 OU | 09 | 17 09O|U 17T OLD S20 SO|LD

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SIGUR RÓS

- EVENTIM APOLLO, HAMMERSMITH -

IN ASSOCIATION WITH UNITED TALENT AGENCY

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JEN CLOHER - THE LEXINGTON -

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DARLIA

27 | 10 | 17

STEVEN PAGE - BUSH HALL -

- ELECTRIC BALLROOM -

07 | 11 | 17

- VILLAGE UNDERGROUND -

22 | 11 | 17

HVMM

- SEBRIGHT ARMS, HACKNEY -

26 | 11 | 17

JIM WHITE - DINGWALLS -

30 | 11 | 17

09 - 10 SEPTEMBER 2017

TOM WILLIAMS

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025

New Music

Minimal Violence

LIFEST YLE

HARDY CAPRIO

O Unsigned 1 J Hus / Mist : @HardyCaprio

L ANARK ARTEFA X Imagine, if you can, that esteemed noisemakers Lorenzo Senni and Amnesia Scanner conceived a musical lovechild in Drexciya’s ocean, and you’re somewhere close to the music of Lanark Artefax. The Aphex Twin and Björk-approved producer and All Caps alumni is riding a serious wave of hype since his EP release on Nic Tasker’s Whities label. According to the Glaswegian producer, the EP is centred on “the story of a youth/death cult of storm chasers”. It’s easy to see why he’s attracted such acclaim – its cinematic, glowing sound nudges you into sublime realms. We expect the dreamy breaks of “Touch Absence” will take many a discerning dancefloor to a higher plane this summer.

O Magic Man 1 Sporting Life / Young Male : marq757.bandcamp.com

ACE TEE While it might seem a little counterintuitive to have somebody on the New Music page with over 2 million YouTube views under their belt, the viral explosion of Hamburg rapper Ace Tee’s breakout hit Bist Du Down shouldn’t be written off as a one-hitwonder. The German-Ghanaian rapper dropped the effortlessly sophisticated R&B track at the end of 2016 and has been riding off the momentum ever since. Promisingly, a quick trawl through the tracks on her SoundCloud page will show an artist gearing up to release a more developed exploratory project. Blending 90s nostalgia with an unbothered breathy flow, Ace Tee’s probably got an arsenal of hits in the locker. But we’ve got a feeling she’ll be playing the long game.

O Bist Du Down 1 ABRA / Princess Nokia : soundcloud.com/aceteee

O Rush ft. Young Bath 1 Mount Kimbie / Burial : l1f3style.bandcamp.com

O Touch Absence 1 Lee Gamble / Holly Herndon : @L4NARK

O Track 1 File Next To : Website

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“My bro said my new joints are better than my dissertation.” This is what 21-year-old Croydon rapper Hardy Caprio tweeted the other day, as his latest track, Unsigned continued to clock up hundreds of thousands of YouTube views. If he’s currently juggling finals and singles then he’s doing a good job of it. Unsigned is a gloriously infectious summer banger with a silky hook courtesy of  One Acen. It’s a move into more poppier ground for Caprio who’s built a following on dextrous, smooth freestyles which sound custombuilt for the kinds of garage instrumentals which played at clubs before he was old enough to get in. If he continues this winning streak, his dissertation will have a lot to compete with.

Fans of late-aughts electronic pop may remember Lewis Rainsbury as a member of the R&S-signed Vondelpark. There, he meshed pop melodies with influences from dubstep and UK bass, but before Vondelpark, Rainsbury had also been connected creatively with longtime friend Luke Brennan – a figure in London’s peripheral punk scene. Now they’ve reunited as figureheads for South London experimental art collective, Lifestyle. “Our individual separations from society and conformism lead us back together back with Lifestyle,” the collective told Crack via email (they answered collaboratively). “It’s a Tesla. We’re running the vehicle on endorphins and dodging speed bumps.” The language they employ – cinematic and vivid – is emblematic of their loose, experimental sound. By distorting vocals and integrating influences from across London’s underground musical map they create a sound which is driven by vignettes and recollections. “Aesthetics are important to us as they represent a choice made by each individual in terms of how they express themselves.” Using spaced out trip-hop production tools, reverb-soaked vocals and gloomy, overcast filters, the Lifestyle sound is almost like a splintered disintegration of pirate radio frequencies. Aptly, their debut mixtape is called +Calm FM+. Thematically, the tape might fit in with the league of inner city deconstructionists like Actress or Burial, but Lifestyle’s decision to put vocals at the forefront make them a far more accessible proposition. “Gossip is the opiate of the oppressed,” they told us, reflecting on the quietly sedating vibrations of +Calm FM+.“We’re not being melodramatic. We embrace that pain in the hope it brings about change.” It’s undoubtedly a little pompous, but the kind of theatrical approach Lifestyle are taking to their output is intriguing, too. When we ask them what’s next, their answer sounds like a bourgeois,dystopian alternative to the Trainspotting monologue: “Think bitcoin, think DMT, think Über, think Berghain. We're bringing people together, encouraging engagement with their our own Mecca.” See you on the other side.

The first stirrings of Vancouver’s Minimal Violence – aka Lida Pawliuk and Ashlee Luk – were felt off the back of the Heavy Slave, a leathery, low budget house cassette on Canadian label Genero. In thrall to DIY aesthetics and post-punk squall, the tracks were of a piece with early Diagonal cuts or the clubbier side of BEB. Nonetheless, subsequent releases for Jungle Gym and 1080p saw the duo develop and strengthen their hardwaredriven sound, though the gift for melancholy atmospheres and tape hiss remained. Their latest EP, Acid Lakes on for Lobster Theremin, should see break through once and for all, packing as it does their heaviest, most club-oriented material yet. But it’s not just mindless, blown out brutalism: squint into the sandblast and you’ll make out clever use of crowd noise, nostalgic synth washes, junglist rhythms and throwback acid lines. Deploy a track like “Untitled Workout” in any given industrial space and retreat to a safe distance.


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028 There are plenty of artists with compelling back stories out there, but few people in music today can lay claim to a single attribute that marks them as a genuine one-off. Omar Souleyman has dozens. Let’s begin with the obvious: flip your magazine back to the front. Even amongst a diverse cast of Crack Magazine cover stars, Souleyman stands out by a mile. Born in the marginal northeast of Syria in 1966, he was a farmer by trade before being encouraged to pick up a microphone around the age of 30. In recent years, he’s become the most visible Middle Eastern figure in contemporary dance music. Omar Souleyman’s sunglasses, keffiyeh and finely-trimmed moustache combo is so slick and so instantly familiar that his face alone – or even crude sketches of it – are often all that’s needed to carry a record cover. Which is convenient, when you tally Souleyman’s prodigious output of wedding tapes, compilations put together by Seattle-based diggers Sublime Frequencies and recent studio LPs. It’s estimated that, in total, Omar Souleyman’s back catalogue consists of around 600 releases. Since coming to wider prominence at the turn of the decade, Souleyman’s touring schedules have also been relentless. For his energetic live show, he orates stories of tangled relationships and tussling lovers in a mix of Kurdish and Arabic, which are laid over welting beats and synthesised delirium and played at warp speed. From big-league American festivals to prestigious European music halls to the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Concert, audiences dance to a booming sound which they have little point of reference, and in languages the majority can’t understand. At each gig, Souleyman is strikingly in a league of one.

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Popular though he may be (club smash Wenu Wenu has 17 million views

and rising on YouTube), Souleyman’s signature style is polarising. Broadly in the tradition of dabke – celebratory line-dancing of the Levant, in effect – but with a flavour of Iraqi choubi, the ululating keyboards have rapid-fire digitised 4/4 claps riding atop and canned beats undergirding it. To some, it’s a muscular, electrifying update of a cultural tradition that dates back to Phoenician times; to others, it’s a garish slice of exotic novelty. I find Souleyman’s tracks to be amazing party jams. Somewhat like the incessant tug of gabber or ragga, the music motions me to move, even if the lyrics and cultural touch points don’t fully resonate. But I can just as easily see how the ramped-up tempo and barked incantations can jar. Getting his music out there and accepted isn’t easy, and controlling the narrative can be trickier. The label for new album To Syria, With Love is Diplo’s Mad Decent, which has caused some chatter. But as Paul Devro, head of A&R at the globetrotting EDM-leaning label explains to me, it represented a joyous coup: “I think it might have been the quickest email I’ve ever responded to!” The email itself was a stroke of fortune, and the last lifeline for an album that came close to being shelved: Souleyman's manager Mina Tosti hit up Mad Decent after an agonising process of shopping it around with no luck. But Devro and his team had Souleyman on the radar for about a decade, and the offer to work with him was greeted like manna from heaven. “I used to dig for Middle Eastern music a lot on the internet in the mid-late 2000s," says Devro. ”We would always have said yes to an Omar LP.” The love affair back then extended as far as asking a bouncer at their shows in Vancouver to bring back CDs from his native Syria. To Syria, With Love is a completion of the quest. Syria itself casts a long, sad shadow. Souleyman’s international breakthrough in 2011 coincided with the Arab Spring’s jolt of promise at the start of

that year, but his homeland’s tragic collapse into a ruinous civil war by the end of it. He has lived in a state of semiexile with his family in Turkey ever since, but he can’t quite escape the stigma of his nationality. In 2013, his application for a work visa to play Sweden’s Way Out West festival was denied on the premise he would take root and claim asylum there, and earlier this year, a set at SXSW was shelved due to President Trump’s harebrained travel ban. In both cases, Souleyman won out – the Swedish government backed down, and Souleyman has conducted a tour of the USA this summer, while Trump’s Islamaphobic scheming thankfully remains in purgatory. But both episodes underscore the point: Syrian nationality, by proxy, is an easily weaponised issue. Having refused to be dragged into public discussions of anything overtly political, Souleyman has now found the confidence to address the emotional turmoil wrought by the conflict on To Syria, With Love. Over doleful strings and with more weight on his diction, he asks “What’s the good of patience, when the pain is so deep?”, pleads for “our alienation [to] end, so we can go back home” and admits his “heart feels dead among the dead.” He is now addressing the situation on his own terms, by neutering the politics and focusing on the personal. “It is very important,” Souleyman tells me, “that my audience, anywhere across the world, always sees the best picture of me possible.” Ironically, I can’t see any picture at all. Souleyman is at the end of a temperamental phone line in an Istanbul airport departure lounge, with Tosti by his side and translator Manal Moufarrej also on the line. I’m calling from an Airbnb in Fukuoka, southern Japan. That the conversation happened at all is a miracle; that it went well is perhaps a second one. Souleyman has a reputation for being a cagey interviewee, apparently churning out


029 Words: Gabriel Szatan Photography: Javier Castรกn


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031 I was told questions about Sublime Frequencies and former keyboard virtuoso Rizan Sa’id – who had been by the singer’s side since roughly the beginning of his career – would be off limits. This is a telling break with the celebratory early shows at Glastonbury and ATP I caught, when he would be flanked by Sa’id and a live bouzouki player, careening through infectious Sublime-issued material like breakout hit Leh Jani for up to 20 minutes at a time. The now familiar manner of how Souleyman stalks the stage – each upward flick of the wrist and trademark ‘eyyyy’ sending the crowd berserk – have been tamped down, and the smile is absent from his face for large portions of the gig. Waves of crowd-surfers in keffiyehs sadly no longer sail overhead. Pressed on whether touring has become a drag, he murmurs in disagreement. “I always enjoy these performances, even though I feel tired most of the time. When I stand on stage, I forget my problems.” It's a relief to hear that he still “enjoy[s] the crowd cheering for me.” While he may be a little drained by six years of travel, Souleyman suggests that he is too much of a perfectionist to phone it in. “I am very keen to protect my reputation first, my art second, and my popularity third. This is a very sensitive issue for me; it is more important than my safety. I always make sure to respect my audience by not making mistakes, and offering them good art.” Throughout our conversation, Souleyman returns to the topic of his audience, attentiveness to their needs and interpersonal contact (perhaps this is a by-product of his time

spent as a regional wedding performer, given that he’d conjure up songs about newlyweds on the spot). “Separation from Syria exists for many reasons,” he says while we’re on the subject. “I miss the social relationships with neighbours, friends and family. I don’t have any social relationships in Europe, unfortunately.” The language barrier, he tells me, boxes him in. “I feel bad when I meet Westerners on the street but cannot have conversations with them. They come to say hello and take photos, but this is as far as we can go together. It makes me sad.” You would think this stultifying isolation is eased at his own gigs, but if anything, it becomes even more pronounced. “When I do shows, I never show my face before going on the stage. I move from the stage, to the car, to the hotel room.” He pauses. “Nobody sees me at all.” Souleyman’s following is more amorphous than most. Generally speaking, his previous collaborators such as Four Tet and Modeselektor have made hay being worldly and sonically ambitious, so their fans aren’t going to have a system shock when presented with a man in a thob. But Mad Decent – with a roster that includes frat boy-friendly acts like Dillon Francis and RiFF RaFF – represents a steeper incline. The social media clips and teaser trailers made by Mad Decent for To Syria, With Love generated a split response: YouTube is a predictable cesspit of extremes; Facebook, though, is net positive, with many comments applauding Diplo for taking a risk on pushing an Arab to an American audience. Over the past few years, Omar Souleyman has encouraged tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Western listeners to embrace Middle Eastern music. That’s no small beer.

“In respect of the suffering of my people, I preferred to sing not just about love. I convinced myself that I had to make a contribution”

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monosyllabic answers when he feels the line of questioning is too generic or asking for cigarette breaks almost instantly if the vibe is off. Thankfully, during our exchange, this attitude doesn’t emerge.


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“I believe in communication, in love, in fraternity – and I don’t see a difference between Arabs and Westerners”

It is, however, something that has caused consternation back on his home turf. Souleyman’s sudden shot to notoriety sparked debate in Syria and neighbouring countries: this wedding crooner in caricature garb, this was the guy to make it in the West? Souleyman is acutely aware of this, bringing it up without prompt. “There are a lot of people amongst my Arab audience who use social media and other platforms to mock me and undermine my success. It comes,” he reckons, “with envy. I suppose this happens to others, but I am not pleased that this keeps happening to me for such a long time.”

“In respect of the suffering of my people,” he explains, “I preferred to sing not just about love. People are dying and my country is being destroyed. I convinced myself that I had to make a contribution.” Is he shaken to see a world increasingly dominated by those that reject the communal values of togetherness? “Yes, I feel very sad, because I believe in communication, in love, in fraternity – and I don’t see a difference between Arabs and Westerners. We all share this.” What he says next is tough to swallow, even told through a translator from a long distance.

The reality is that Syrian culture has been completely jettisoned in the face of unrelenting war – something Souleyman has little faith will end soon – and, whether he was the ‘right’ candidate or not to become the country’s breakout star, there isn’t likely to be anyone else achieving what he has for some time. While he could have continued to re-sell slight variations of his love jams with ever glossier packaging, he is instead carrying over the empathy of his storytelling to “address people outside the country who are alienated and trapped away from their hometown, like me.” This is important, and it should draw pause from his critics.

“I am aware my children can see all the killings and destruction on social media, and I know very well they will never forget these pictures for as long as they live. It saddens me greatly. I check [on the carnage] every ten days, and then I log off. I am willing in my next album to make songs about social life; to tackle topics like family relationships, childhood, and again Syria. I am hoping that in my music I will change these ideas, and I will stop my kids from thinking about all the atrocities around the world.” With this, he is whisked away to his flight. Omar Souleyman’s time in the spotlight has been both exhilarating and strange. His very existence in the field of electronic music is a story itself, and

he’s enjoyed a longevity I doubt many would have predicted. Multiple narrative leylines converge on him: a performer with an evident gift to inspire outbreaks of communal joy, but lacking basic points of communication with the vast majority of his fans; greatly respected by some and not taken entirely seriously by others. In the face of all this, Souleyman is gradually placing the onus on himself to synergise the Syrian experience for us, and put words to his status as an exile – both cultural and geographic. Where before I suspected he was tiring of this lifestyle, now I’m detecting that he may have found a renewed purpose. During our email exchanges, Tosti mentions that “Omar doesn’t know the meaning of a break”. In a sad way, he can’t afford to either. The gravitas of his country’s situation, and a crystallisation of self-perception, has mitigated a shift within. His omnipresence on the tour circuit is something of a necessity: working endlessly to not just remain a mainstay, but to keep a rare positive figure of Syria in rotation worldwide. That’s a hard, heavy task. Omar Souleyman is, as ever, out on his own. To Syria, With Love is out now via Mad Decent


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Holly Herndon Jlin

It goes beyond 2015’s Expand, their first collaborative production which featured on Jlin’s debut album of deconstructionist footwork, 2015’ Dark Energy. Eagle eyes will have spotted an earlier version of that track on Soundcloud back in 2012. It was to be an auspicious year for both of them: the recent inclusion of Jlin’s debut track Erotic Heat on Planet Mu’s essential footwork compile series Bangs & Works would lead to her performing at Paris Fashion Week at the behest of Rick Owens, while Herndon’s technical mastery culminated in her celebrated 2015 album Movement, which transformed the familiar fundamentals of breathy vocal samples, pop music and techno into unrecognisably complex avant-garde structures. Having teamed up again for the delightfully aggressive track 1% on Jlin’s exhilarating new album Black Origami, the pair do below what they do often – check in with each other for an extended chat about music and work and life. With Herndon recording new material in her current base in Berlin, and Jlin fresh off a flight from India to her hometown, Gary, Indiana, both artists set aside some time for a Transtlantic conversation about the most defining moments of the last five years. Here, they dissect the dynamics of Jlin’s recent collaborations with the dancer Avril Stormy Unger, overcoming chauvinism and spending life at the edges of unclassifiable sounds. Holly Herndon: It’s funny to think that we’ve kind of been pen pals since 2011, texting or Skyping or calling. I can’t remember what year it was that you were working full time in Indiana and also personally being flown to Paris

Fashion Week. You were trying to figure out whether or not you could quit your job and start touring full time, and you had to take this tremendous leap of faith that there would be enough work for you. So it’s been really wonderful to see how everything's developed over the last several years. You’ve been running like 100 miles an hour, full steam ahead. Jlin: Do you recall how both you and I were possibly trying to look at going into the same college? HH: Yeah I do, I remember at the time you were in school. What were you studying? J: I was doing architectural engineering. Then I turned 25 and I was like, “I have to get myself together as a human being.” I got myself together and started working full time, around 2012. I was happy because I had found some stability in my chaotic life from the past. And then Rick Owens completely disrupted my life in a good way. In 2013 I was getting off midnights, and I got a message from [Planet Mu records owner] Mike Paradinas about using my music for a fashion show.

Words: Christine Kakaire Photography: Lottie Bea Spencer

HH: By getting off of midnights, do you mean the midnight shift? J: Yeah the midnight shift, swing shifts, which meant my schedule and sleeping pattern changed weekly. One of the things that made me leave that job was how you and I did Unsound together in 2015, and [revered music critic] Sasha Frere Jones told me that he really liked my show. I didn’t know who he was at the time and you were like, “Do you know who that is? That’s one of the hardest people to please musically.” I was totally petrified because before Unsound I had only done the MoMA

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The bond between American musicians Jerrilynn “Jlin” Patton and Holly Herndon runs deep.


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PS1 warm up in New York, and that was like my first performance ever. Do you remember that? HH: I remember how nervous you were for that. J: Unsound was only the third performance of my entire career. I was a baby. I’ve been full throttle since then. My album Dark Energy came out March of 2015, and I quit my job, and you and I did Xpand together. We had no idea that Xpand would perform the way it did because we were just having fun. I remember calling you at the end of that year, I was at work. I said, “You and I are in the New York Times, The Best Songs of 2015. We’re number eight, under Missy Elliot.” HH: I’d like to know more about your other collaborations, specifically your work with Avril Stormy Unger, because I feel like she’s had a pretty big impact on your sound. As she’s a dancer and movement is such a huge part of what she’s doing, I’m curious if her actual movement practice influences your patterns, and how that push and pull goes back and forth. J: When Avril comes into the equation it is a complete push and pull. Sometimes she has to catch up with me and sometimes I have to catch up with her but that just depends. There is one track that I created that she will just absolutely not dance to, she feels very intimidated by it. HH: Which track is that? J: The actual track Black Origami. She refuses to dance to that, even though the track is actually very much designed after the way that she moves. HH: Even though it’s modelled on her movement? How is it modelled exactly? J: Because a lot of her movements are very spontaneous and sporadic. I would say she is folk contemporary, but she believes in anti discipline, so she doesn't go with the flow of the modern Indian culture of dance. I could easily get behind somebody who does deal with contemporary Indian dance, or modern dance, but I like that she makes it a lot harder for me because I’m having to actually, literally either follow her lead or create something where she has to end up following me. It makes it very organic because you can see and sometimes feel the struggle between the two of us. You're getting the vulnerability of her and [myself] in that moment completely.

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HH: I noticed on Instagram that she’s been travelling into rural India. She posted a video where she had a pot on her head, she was standing, and with the pot on her head she was able to lay down and then get back up.

J: Yes she was in Rajasthan, and she went to learn several different forms of dance. She’s had a ball learning, but her greatest challenge right now is she wants to learn balancing those pots. I think for future shows she wants to have one of the pots be on fire because that’s the way they do it in Rajasthan. HH: Well I really look forward to the future performance of you two with her flaming pots. J: Me too. Hopefully I can survive through the performance to see it.

“When I say I create from a dark place it means a non-complacent place, a place that is so uncomfortable for me. But for me that’s not a bad thing”

HH: That’s actually a nice segue. I’ve seen you play many times but there are two performances that come to mind most. With your [2016] Unsound performance in Krakow with Avril, I really liked that she wasn’t really lit and the stage was quite low, so you were close to the audience and you could basically see her hair flying by and hands flickering. Like you couldn’t see the whole thing, but that was actually really nice because it still had the voyeurism of a performance, but you also kind of felt like part of the audience. J: Me and Avril have this thing we both feel, because a lot of times when I’m performing, it’s not actually just me performing, it’s a fine line between your entertainment and my spirituality. A lot of times I don’t even know what I’m going to do. There have been times that I have mapped out a show and it takes me a while to look out into a crowd, it takes me a minute. HH: But when you get into it then you flash your teeth and start shaking your hand up above your head. J: Completely! I’m not saying I'm a shy performer, when I’m into it I’m definitely into it, those moments for me are almost hit or miss. There have been performances where I haven’t smiled or looked up once. HH: Because you were nervous? J: No, because I was just so focussed. It’s this thing of don’t look at me, because I want people to feel the sound. Don’t look at me. I’m not even here. HH: The other show that stuck out for me was your Pitchfork Chicago show. It was really different from the show I saw with Avril: it was during the day and the energy was amazing, and at the last minute you invited some footwork dancers on stage with you, and your family was there. It was a huge celebration. You were smiling the whole time during that.


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“I like the fact so many times I’ve had to correct a guy who’s like, ‘Hey bro, I love your track.’ I love the struggle because it puts me in the spot that I don’t become complacent”

HH: They were totally beaming. But also it was interesting to see you performing with footwork dancers and how the dynamic of that show was really different. J: I literally made that decision to bring the dancers on stage minutes before it was time for me to go on, and that was the first time I had ever done that. For me this was a pure moment of fun. HH: If you consider Chicago to be a hometown of sorts, that was probably a big homecoming celebration for you. J: Yeah it is right next to home. it’s not Indiana but it’s close, like 45 minutes away. I was meeting people who I had known about for so long, for the first time. It was a lot of good vibes so I was happy about that. HH: I know you haven’t spoken about it so much in the press but is there anything you’d like to share about your experience of being a woman and a person of colour within electronic music? J: I always get the question of: seeing that footwork is so male dominated, how do I feel being the woman? My response is my gender has nothing to do with what I produce. Have I been in a situation before where a guy has been chauvinistic towards me? Absolutely. But I don’t entertain it. I’m not minimising being a woman in electronic music, but just speaking for myself I try not to get caught in it. I feel like it’s sad that we’re still there. As far

as being a person of colour that’s an all day subject. A lot of times people asked about the album title Dark Energy, like, “Do you feel like you were in a dark place?” ‘Dark’ has been taught to us with such a negative connotation, that it’s a bad thing. So you can imagine as a black person that when you think of the word 'dark' that the connotation is bad. But for me, when I say I create from a dark place it means a non-complacent place, a place that is so uncomfortable for me, and then having to dig and create from that. For me that’s not a bad thing, because it forces me. I’m having to pull from nothingness and that to me is everything. That is why I called the new album Black Origami. It’s the art of folding sounds into these beautiful complex things. That’s how I start. I love the fact that I have to dig from nothing. HH: I like the idea of taking back the term 'dark' and turning it into something else. J: Yeah for me it’s really important. It’s like a piece of coal gets put under so much pressure and it becomes a diamond. That is my process. I’m still under that constant pressure that I put on myself, and I like the fact that I'm never satisfied with my work. I like the fact so many times as a woman I’ve had to correct a guy who was like, 'Hey bro, I love your track,' and I'm like 'No. I’m a woman.' I love the struggle because it puts me in the spot that I don’t become complacent. As far as guys being chauvinist, of course I’m totally against it. I hate it. HH: To piggyback off that a little bit, you’re touring the world at this point, and so you're playing for totally different

demographics of people from all over the place who are coming to your work from all kinds of different perspectives, and your rhythmic patters are so particular. It’s not just like traditional 4/4. I wonder if you ever encounter audiences that like just can’t figure out how to dance to your music. J: Oh of course! I’ve had audiences who have stood still and had no reaction and then at the end of the performance they've come up to me and said, 'That was totally amazing, you blew my mind.' HH: But how do you feel in those environments, is it alienating? Do you feel like you’re showing people something completely new? J: I love it! I love the different variations of reaction. I love seeing people enjoy themselves. And I love seeing people really confused and not knowing what to do, because that’s how I feel when I make my music. Dark Energy is out now via Planet Mu. Jlin appears at Club to Club, Turin, 1-7 November

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J: My mom was right there, which was really nice, and that was the first time my dad had ever got to see me perform.


Lau re l

Halo Suit: Atelier NA


041 Words: Emma Robertson Photography: James Perolls Styling: Christina Van Zon

Laurel Halo is staying weird. Her delivery is often deadpan, she is selfdeprecating, and prone to adopting eccentric accents when she makes fun of herself. You can hear the humour in her music. “When I’m working on a track, I always know that I’m heading in the right direction when something makes me laugh,” she explains. “Because that means that it’s completely stupid and silly; it means I’ve taken off my protective taste blanket for a second.” We’re sitting outside a café in Kreuzberg, in a corner tucked away from the noise of Kottbusser Tor, on an afternoon that stays warm and sunny despite the frequent rain of the last few weeks. Our interview comes at the tail-end of a small round of press for the Michigan-born artist’s new album, Dust, out now on Hyperdub. Ranging from contemplative and sorrowful to outlandish and fun, the album is entirely unpredictable. Halo once said she was getting bored with basic harmonies and chords, and Dust makes it clear that she’s still on the quest for strange sounds.   On Like an L Halo recorded the sound of a wheelie suitcase being pulled across a moving sidewalk at an airport. Koinos features Eli Keszler on the glockenspiel, amped up with LFO so that it unnaturally detunes and loses its footing. The melody of Who Won? is exaggerated and emotional, Halo calls it a “pathetic sax melody.” She does a silly but spot on imitation of the sax line,

laughing. “I wanted this track to toe the line between existing in this sort of noir, steam-through-the-manholes vibe or this thick, humid summer day right before the rain comes down… But at the same time, the sax is just wailing and doing its thing.”   At times, a track on Dust will slowly disentangle itself and, before you notice, the beat and the vocal will become mismatched. It is an effective organised chaos. “There are moments in the album that are beautiful, but there are also moments that are candid and imperfect. It’s important to not be afraid of that. It would be impossible for me to perfectly execute a genre exercise,” Halo says, smiling. “There would be a voice in my subconscious saying” — she adopts a buzzy, high-pitched accent — “‘Make it weird!’”   Dust was recorded over a two-year period at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in upstate New York, starting in January of 2015. Halo reached out to artists whose music she admires to contribute to the album, and ended up working with Klein, Lafawndah, Eli Keszler, $hit and $hine’s Craig Clouse, Julia Holter, and Diamond Terrifier.   The album’s lyrics, like Halo herself, are headsy. A few years ago, she wanted the vocals on her first album, 2012’s Quarantine, to sound ugly and strange. “It would have been too boring to have just a dreamy, pretty album,” she explains. That manifesto carries over:

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Coat: Antonia Goy T-Shirt: Uniqlo Skirt: Antonia Goy Earrings: Vibe Harsløf


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Top: Wood Wood Bra: Wood Wood Pants: Kappa seen at Urban Outfitters

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often on Dust Halo seems to favour sounds over actual words. I suggest it’s reminiscent of scat singing in jazz. “That’s so cool,” Halo replies, but she shakes her head. “I think it’s more that when I listen to songs with vocals, it’s very hard for me to grab on to the words. I get sucked into the quality of the voice and the delivery. So the way my lyrics sound might be due to the way that I listen to vocals on other recordings.” All that considered, Dust does suggest a relationship with jazz; there are hints of improv and jam session vibes at the heart of the record. “I have a deep love for jazz and the spiritual potential of the genre existing as a statement of resistance or a yearning for freedom,” Halo says. Her first taste of jazz music came from looking through her parents’ record collection. When she started at the University of Michigan, she became a DJ for the college’s radio station, WCBN, which had a massive archive of jazz records. Her love of the genre grew from digging, and today she counts icons like Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, and Don Cherry among her jazz heroes.   Halo jokes that she’s got a background in “fake jazz” but she has played the piano for most of her life. She can mess around with a guitar and some mallet instruments, and she played the violin for a stint. At U Michigan, where she was pursuing a music degree, she was part of the Creative Arts Orchestra, and because they had a pianist already, she auditioned on violin. “I very much don’t know how to play the violin, I just kind of faked it,” she laughs. But they let her stay on. One night, at a gig in a small venue in Ann Arbor, they found out that the bassist Henry Grimes was going to join them. “I was just terrified, I was so scared, like, how am I going to be able to not make a fool of myself?” She laughs at the memory, her self-

deprecating humour at work again. “But he was very kind and encouraging. I learned that there’s no one right way of doing anything. You know that classic musician rule? If you make a mistake, just play through it. If you play a wrong note, just own it! I think I owned lots of mistakes during that concert!” Eventually Halo dropped her specialty degree, and decided to pursue music as a passion project. Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Halo was born into a creative family — art, not music. Her mother does ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) and often works with clay. Her father is a painter. “There’s a level of communication that we were able to reach talking about expression that we might not have been able to otherwise,” Halo says, suddenly lowering her voice. “That was a really beautiful thing.” Art and creativity has helped forge a deep connection between Halo and her father: the artwork for 2013’s Chance of Rain featured a drawing by him. Dust offers up even more of a personal presence. A headless Halo features on the cover photograph, standing in front of a sign in Berlin, where she’s lived for the past four years.   The personal presence extends to the music, too. Although Dust might feel like it was born out of Halo’s more playful side, sorrow and anxiety exist in the record, both lyrically and musically. “I think in a way I’m searching for a sense of peace with my music,” Halo says. “So I hope that people get that same sense of healing from listening.”   Dust is out now via Hyperdub


Shirt: Atelier NA Trousers: Antonia Goy


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045 MUSIC

Words: Tom Watson Photography: Eleanor Hardwick


046

Jennifer Herrema unlocks the door to her Hackney hotel room and heads directly towards the bedside table. Unwrapping herself from an Oakland Raiders jacket, she flings a rumpled foxtail keychain in the direction of the nearest surface. Placing herself among a half drunk bottle of beer and various joint-rolling apparatus, she looks back towards the door. “Are you just going to stand there the whole time?” Her American drawl thrums like rusted gears grazing together. At the door stands Neil Hagerty. Maybe he’s reluctant to be lulled into another awkward sit down with his former girlfriend and longtime band partner. He grudgingly shuffles to the bed and lies flat with his arms stretched. He’s agitated. Earlier on, he seemed less than pleased to pose for our photo shoot, questioning the purpose of the practice all together. “Honestly man,” he growls, “People get paid to photograph me? Why? That’s fucked up.” Needless to say, the pressures that come with the attention around the pair’s reunion as Royal Trux are irking Hagerty. “We haven’t had any sleep,” Herrema explains, clumsily fiddling with crumbs of weed. “We were in Brighton last night. It was fucking great and now we’re here.” It’s the final day of the UK leg of their comeback tour. It began only four days earlier at the Transformer festival in Manchester, only six days after the terror attacks at Ariana Grande’s gig in the same city. “I wasn’t scared at all,” Hagerty insists. “Mark E. Smith, a true Manchester dude performed directly after us and he was totally cool with it. When I was a kid I lived in Belgium – my dad was in the army – the Baader Meinhof gang were just shooting people fucking left and right. We toured London during the IRA bombings and there were signs telling you to look under your tyres before you reverse. So we’ve seen enough to not be afraid.” After Royal Trux’s formation in 1987, Herrema and Hagery – the group’s core members – soon gained a reputation as alternative music’s most fractious and self-destructive couple. Their gruff noise-rock defined them as diamorphine-addled experimentalists who both celebrated and subverted rock ’n’ roll traditions. With her eyes often concealed by a thick fringe and aviator shades, Herrema embodied the sexual veracity of rock with a rugged fashion sense, and she appeared alongside the likes of Kate Moss in Calvin Klein’s campaigns and in fashion editorials that defined the controversial 'Heroin Chic' trend of the mid 90s.

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With lyrics like "We took your invitations and shoved them down your eye sockets one by one," or "I've got to

get out to the sticks / Start my own franchise," or "The baboon crawled in your mouth and ate your brain," Herrema's liquor-corroded howl made her the ultimate mouthpiece for the sloppy shredding of her musical partner. Hagerty, a seasoned guitarist, began his career in the early 80s performing alongside members of Government Issue before enlisting himself as one of the many incarnations of Jon Spencer’s garage act Pussy Galore. It was during these early performances that Herrema and Hagerty began dating, writing and feeding their appetites for intoxication. What transpired from this staunch affiliation were some of rock music’s most iconoclastic records ever deemed

“We need music for kids to roller skate to,’ those were the literal words from the A&R peoples’ mouths,” Hagerty claims, hoisting himself from the bed. “Fuck that. All I was thinking at the time was we’ve got four weeks until that cheque goes through from our lawyer. We had a buyout for the last three records. And we got paid in full for all the records we didn't fucking do. That’s all that matters man. Bands, artists, nice people; they just get screwed over by bureaucracy. So if I win it’s like a little victory for everyone.” Following a return to Drag City, Royal Trux dissolved shortly after the release of 2000’s Pound for Pound LP. Focussing on their own varying projects

“Everybody wants me to be honest and I don't want to give it to them. The exchange is not fair. I get a chance to OD on a fucking bus and a bunch of cowards write the story and get paid for it” fit for consumption. With a close connection to jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s free-thinking philosophy of Harmolodics, albums such as 1990’s double LP Twin Infinitives and later records like Thank You and Accelerator demonstrated an improvisational ethos. “That’s the basis of everything,” Herrema starts excitedly. “Even from when we met, Harmolodics was the undercurrent of it all. Over the years when Neil and I weren’t speaking, people would ask if I had had any contact from him. We weren't physically talking, maybe an email once a year, but we’ve been working together in some unspoken way this whole time.” Despite their viciously uncompromising sound, the couple’s relationship suffered at the hands of their own commercial success, when Royal Trux were swept up in the grunge media surge of the early 90s. Virgin records snatched the band from the independent label Drag City with a three-record contract worth over one million dollars. Hegarty and Herrema took their label advances and holed themselves up in a farmhouse in Castleton, Virginia where they recorded the albums Thank You, Sweet Sixteen and Accelerator from a converted home studio. But the major label soon began losing faith.

such as Hegarty’s Howling Hex and Weird War and Herrema’s RTX and Black Bananas, it wasn't until 2012 that the pair began communicating again. And it wasn’t entirely for the best reasons. Hegarty had revived the Royal Trux moniker, performing a slew of shows with a Herrema lookalike. At this point, the duo begin quibbling over the details of their reformation. “I was playing as Royal Trux 1988, revisiting the Twin Infinitives material,” Hagerty explains. “Jennifer contacted me, offended. That was the first time we had talked in 15 years.” “Are you talking to me?” Herrema drops the joint she’s been prepping for the duration of our conversation. “No,” Hagerty continues, “Anyway, she thought I was being weasel-like for not telling her.” Herrema kicks out her cowboy boots and stares directly at Hagerty. “The truth of the matter is I was fucking pissed. The simplicity of having the name Royal Trux announced as a show without me? That was unfathomable. So I wrote to you about it. And when you put everything into context by sending me a picture of the girl who was supposed to be me, I understood what you were doing.”

It was this disagreement that eventually led to Hagerty and Herrema reuniting and playing together again in 2015. They’ve recently released their first record in fifteen years via Drag City. Recorded live at two shows in New York and California, Platinum Tips + Ice Cream offers ‘new, live and unrehearsed’ renditions of some of their most acclaimed material. “We are trying to capture something that’s not synthetic,” says Hargerty, now writhing above the sheets with discontent. “We’re back and we’re the best band again. And it's for real now. But the whole system of automated touring. And this stuff," he points at the recording device with hostility, “It’s not my cup of fucking tea. Know what I'm saying man?” Hagerty readies his escape by fumbling with a cigarette. “Up until this tour, I lied to a lot of people,” he admits, bringing to mind a story of him fabricating a fear of flying to be relieved of international tours with Royal Trux while quitting heroin. “But I promised Jennifer that I would be real and not fuck around like I used to. But then everybody wants me to be honest and I don't want to give it to them. The exchange is not fair. I get nothing. I get a chance to OD on a fucking bus and a bunch of cowards write the story and get paid for it.” “I don't care about telling my story one way or the other,” he continues. “But Jennifer’s letting me share in Royal Trux again and I'm so grateful. I have a lot to learn. I've been granted this opportunity and I don't want to fuck it up. I’ve got to try and be nice this time. But I have to be myself and sometimes that’s not nice. I can’t do that fake nice shit. All I am is a fucking guitar player. And I like to get stoned.” Herrema, finally pinching a fully formed joint, lets out a husked laugh. “Nah, you’re just a piece of shit.” Her heavily circled eyes pierce straight through Hagerty’s embittered grimace. “You’ve really got to practice being yourself more.” Platinum Tips + Ice Cream is out now via Drag City


Experimental Problem Solving: Whities Art Director Alex McCullough Strips Away Excess Words: Ali Gitlow Design: Alex McCullough & Jack Wells “My intent isn’t to necessarily make work on the apex of design,” asserts London-based art director Alex McCullough. This statement may seem a little surprising coming from the guy responsible for crafting the visuals for the super cool, leftfield electronic music label Whities. However, a desire to cut to music’s emotional core informs all of his output for the imprint, resulting in refreshing, bespoke record covers and event posters. McCullough says he views himself

as a critical designer in terms of how he thinks about his work and the way it functions in the world. “But,” he adds, “when it comes to the process in which I produce or select images — I would definitely call myself an optimistic designer.” Whities was founded in 2014 by Nic Tasker, a former Boiler Room programmer and host partially responsible for the platform’s rise to success. The label has put out releases by genre-bending artists including Terron, Kowton, Reckonwrong and Quirke. McCullough’s artwork for their records often has a colourful, exuberant visual language, yet each one is intentionally unique. “I think it’s important to stretch the format and not stand still for too long,’ he explains, noting that this unpredictability can ultimately coalesce into consistency. “That’s the prevailing upside of working on a catalogue like this,” he says. “You have elbow room to develop the rolling project over time. To pick up and return to themes. To self reference.” On the cover of Arizona-born producer Avalon Emerson’s pumping, psychedelic techno EP Whities 006, for example, illustrated 8-bit blue and red cacti stretch their thick, prickly arms in a pixelated desert. In contrast, Coby Sey’s experimental ode to London’s grittiness, Whities 010, features a photograph taken from an angled vantage on the top level of a double decker bus as a gaggle of teenagers wile away the afternoon on the street. It’s tipped-in to a dark green background populated by light blue flecks that

awaken sense memories of similar buses’ speckled floors. For each Whities project McCullough receives tracks in advance, preferring to meet with the artist initially, if possible, to discuss their intentions. “Once the artist feels as though you understand their music, he explains, “they become open to allow you to interpret it.” He begins with an initial concept phase, and he encourages a musician to stipulate a specific fact or requirement that sparks his own research, illuminating a path to the crux of their sound. After that, he says, comes the fun part: “It’s now a bit of a game

where you control how much detail you disclose to the audience. You can knowingly remove one or two ‘pillars’ of information – be that through aesthetic decision, format, subversion, et cetera – in the final article.” McCullough describes this sort of stripping back as an exercise in refining, which takes up more time than any other part of his creative process. Here, he’s able to problem solve in an experimental manner, chipping away at anything that feels superfluous so only the fundamental intent remains. McCullough feels responsible for producing album art that appropriately enhances the music at hand, and he views the artists he works with more like collaborators than clients. A recent design for the label, Lanark Artefax’s Whities 011, features a comic; he commissioned contemporary illustrator Joseph P Kelly to draw the bottom panel. Ethereal, ultra-digital soundscapes somehow go hand-in-hand with the black line renderings of a wizard-like figure directing an epic storm, causing seismic shifts in the earth and wreaking havoc. However, there’s an esoteric quality to the link between the visual and aural. “Sometimes


there should be that element of mythology built in,” disparate elements of visual culture together, McCullough says. “I think that great record covers hunting for surprising results. He views this approach need to strike that balance between ambiguity and as postmodern, citing a parallel between his own complete directness.” interests and the work of Peter Saville. An illustration A recurring aspect of McCullough’s practice he created for Nic Tasker’s NTS radio show, involves what he refers to as for example, features ‘scanning’ — scouring the Internet his take on Matisse’s “I’m searching to provide an and various printed matter for dancers frolicking in a found imagery which he then circle, their cartoonish appropriate face which can combines with other visuals in covered with deliver the music in the most bodies unexpected ways. Whities 012 by large red iterations of Minor Science, for instance, depicts original, unexpected or purest the DHL logo. A poster an accurate scale section of Still for a recent party in way possible” Life with a Gilt Cup, a 1635 oil East London bears a painting by Dutch old master blue band with the Willem Claeszoon Heda that is currently hanging in Lycamobile logo running across the top, with Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. By uprooting a wellMcDonald’s familiar golden arches at the bottom known work of art from its intended semiological – though, instead of ‘i’m lovin’ it’, the adjacent text origins, he’s able to repurpose and examine it in a reads ‘i’m pranging out in maccy d’s’ (a reference to new framework, including only a minimal amount of lyrics from forthcoming Reckonwrong material).  text (and thus, context) relating to the track itself. While this is certainly cheeky, McCullough argues “I’m searching to provide an appropriate face that he avoids postmodernism’s penchant for irony, which can deliver the music in the most original taking care to come across as sincere and considered or unexpected or purest way possible,” he says. rather than mocking or novel. When he uses brand McCullough’s own website, designed with Joseph identities or re-appropriates logos, it’s intended more Pleass, employs this technique, too. Different Whities as a way to apply texture or layers releases sit atop a variety of than making a statement about capitalism.

found photos, from mould growing on lychees to a shot of drunken Mancunian New Year’s Eve revellers that made headlines a couple years back for its grim realness. Clicking on ‘Information’ in the corner, the visuals get smaller and large type in all caps cleverly describes the juxtaposition in detail — in one case, an image of a brown butterfly on dead leaves with a poster for a music event in the foreground. McCullough considers these pairings as single works, finding a pleasing balance by employing a nuanced, personal curatorial method. Sometimes, McCullough re-appropriates wellknown corporate identities in an effort to mash

By acknowledging that these practical instances of graphic design exist, he can break down their component parts and use them as blocks to build wholly new images. This system is similar when he applies it to popular artworks or a photo of, say, blue sky. “If we can agree that the primary intent of the record is to deliver an emotion and connect with the audience,” McCullough says, “I [can begin] thinking that surely packaging it in the familiar is the best way to draw people in. And next, direct them to perceive the change in context and the significance of that choice. Invite people to question why we might have used it. Or just enjoy the fact that, when combined with music, something very simple has the ability to appear suddenly rich and profoundly relevant.” alexmccullough.co.uk


Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine b


by Alex McCullough - alexmccullough.co.uk


DJ Stingray


056

When I meet Sherard Ingram, it’s appropriately within the walls of Berlin’s iconic Tresor venue. The basement club is situated in the corner of the much larger building known as Kraftwerk, a converted multi-level powerplant that once provided electricity to the whole of East Berlin during the GDR era. Famously, it was clubs like Tresor that forged Berlin’s early connection with Detroit during the 90s. Ingram’s involvement in the Detroit music scene stretches back to when Moodymann taught him how to DJ after school in the early 80s. Last year, he consolidated this connection when he relocated to the German capital, and now he’s partnered with Tresor to oversee the fourth mix in the club’s new Kern series. “The plan was just to be near where the love was,” Ingram says of his move to Berlin. “I took a gamble. I said, you know what, every time I come over here there’s loads of people who I meet and they say, ‘next time you’re in Europe call me, we’ll have you play.’ I started analysing the types of clubs and crowds that I play for, for want of a better word my ‘market’, and they’re small to medium clubs that don’t have too much of a budget. They can’t fly me transatlantic, but it’s easier to fly me from Berlin than it is Detroit.” For his high-intensity Kern mix, selections which stretch back to the early 90s are woven with more contemporary tracks. There are a handful of classic selections from Drexciya, the seminal Detroit duo who were as famous for shrouding their music in intricate mythology as they were for testing the boundaries of early techno and electro. Ingram was drafted as Drexciya’s tour DJ in the late 90s (and encouraged by the duo to don his trademark ski mask), a few short years before the tragic death of member James Stinson in 2002. Drawing a thread between past and present, Ingram’s Kern mix also features a new record from NRSB-11, the project he later formed with remaining member

Gerald Donald. “I have to say, I have spent many hours listening to that man's work and conversing with him,” Ingram says of working again with Donald, who’s been making experimental music with his Dopplereffekt project since the mid 90s. “We share so many of the same viewpoints regarding the field of electronic music. He helps to sharpen my focus and conceptual base.” When Ingram removes his ski mask, he’s as unassuming as you could possibly imagine. He’s middle-aged and dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt, quick to launch into warm conversation. But he’s also looking pretty exhausted. After all, he’s just survived a hectic weekend of gigging that took him across Italy, the UK and Germany, indicating his that relocation gamble paid off. But strangely enough, his move to Europe comes at a time when his home country is finally starting tweak to the dancefloor legacy of his hometown. He was recently back in Detroit for the Movement Festival, which is drawing larger crowds every year. Ingram speaks of turning up to an afterparty that weekend at 7am with very low expectations. “Here’s a city that’s been indoctrinated in the mentality of the bar closing at 2am,” he says. “You don’t throw parties at 10 in the morning. But the whole dancefloor was full. I thought, ‘Detroit has come a long way.’” Although Ingram’s history with club culture goes way back, he’s only performed in LA and New York for the very first time the past few years. This is the same guy who partnered with Carl Craig, Moodyman and Shake as Urban Tribe to record The Collapse of Modern Culture for Mo’ Wax way back in 1998, before working with Drexciya not long after. It’s incomprehensible to me that he’s not more recognised in his home country, let alone that techno is still considered an outsider culture in Detroit.

“We should be pushing for new sounds. Let’s push it to the limit”

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057 Words: Angus Thomas Patterson Photography: George Nebieridze

swiftly and seamlessly through the tempos, and with the constant shifts in tone, a DJ Stingray set is more of a seething mass of sound, as opposed to a typical club groove that keeps rolling all night long.

“The strength of Detroit lies in its artistic community,” Ingram explains. “We have so many artists concentrated in the urban centre of the city. You’ve got hiphop, gospel, RnB, jazz, pop music, rock n’ roll… These are monolithic structures that have pervaded American culture, they’ve been our soundtrack. But this also means there is no way techno could become a culture like it is in Berlin and Amsterdam."

He’s remained steady with releases on a variety of labels the past few years; Lower Parts in Greece, Shipwrec in the Netherlands, Naked Lunch in Ireland, and he’s currently working on a release for Dekmantel’s experimental UFO sublabel. Ingram thanks the growing possibilities of digital tech for his output – unusual sentiments for a subculture with such a fetish for analogue production gear. “The power of digital is undeniable,” he insists. ““We’re in the 21st century, why would I want my music to sound like I made it 30 years ago, what sense does that make? I like using effects. Say I’ve got 32 inputs in my digital workstation, if I have enough RAM then I can put up to eight effects on every single channel. Each of these effects I can automate, I can manipulate their parameters down to micro units. It’s only limited by your imagination, the power there is phenomenal.”

The genesis of Detroit techno in the late 80s offered futuristic optimism in the face of the shadow cast by the city’s collapsing car industry. However, these ideals also pegged the early pioneers – Jeff Mills, the "Belleville Three" trio of Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, and beyond – as outcasts in a community that Ingram says was more rooted in immediate reality. Ingram seems to feel more committed to ideals of futurism more many of his Detroit contemporaries, eschewing militant adherence to 4/4 rhythms that has come to characterise so much modern techno, exchanging it for an eclectic approach that often favours broken beats. His lightning fast mixing tears

While his leaning towards synthetic sounds often sees him labelled 'electro', it’s a tag that he rejects for its retro connotations. He’s not producing the kind of throwback music we might associate with stereotypical electro, full of “80s analogue keyboards and 808s,” as he puts it.

“Don’t recreate Kraftwerk,” he continues. “That’s what the future sounded like 30 years ago. You wanna recreate that energy, recreate that same awe and fascination as when they first heard that music. You should be

pushing for new sounds with each and every release. Let’s push it to the limit.” What strikes you about Ingram is his positivity, complimented by a willingness to so openly share his insights. It makes him an ideal elder statesman for the techno scene, though this might seem incongruous for an artist who’s so often been dystopian in his thinking. He’s regularly spoken in interviews of his fears around individualism in the era of late capitalism and globalisation. After all, the title of The Collapse of Modern Culture was partly inspired by the urban decay that was gripping his hometown. However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope in his apocalyptic thinking. “I might still have a dystopian view of the world, but I realise it is a vision that has been shared by others for centuries,” he explains. “There’s always somebody proclaiming the sky is falling. I’ve realised it’s not our instinct to destroy ourselves. I’m hoping our instinct to survive overrules our instinct to fight each other.” Kern 4 is released 7 July via Tresor

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“Black people don’t listen to techno. America doesn’t listen to techno,” he argues, but then adds in the same breath that African-American soul food restaurants are now sponsoring underground techno parties, while veteran Michigan company Kowalski Sausages has done the same for a local techno radio show. These are grassroots community businesses you’d hardly associate with techno, though Ingram points to their involvement as proof that a cultural shift is happening. For the moment though, techno remains largely an underground affair in Detroit.


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ART


Linder, You search but do not see, 1981/2010

Raqs Media Collective, A Day in the Life of ______, 2009

Words: Alice Nicolov

With all that in mind, the first of the Whitechapel Gallery’s planned ISelf Collections, entitled Self-Portrait as Billy the Goat, feels timely. The rarely seen collection pivots around an exploration of the human condition. Containing works from well-known artists such as Pawel Althamer, Tracey Emin, André Breton and Louise Bourgeois and more, the exhibition is a series of meditations on the artist in question's understanding of an important aspect of his or her identity through a particular lens or medium. Curated by Emily Butler, the exhibition is broken into four “chapters”: the self as an individual, the self in relation to others, the self as part of society and the self as limited by the human body and the wider world. As Butler explains, “ISelf, refers to “both ‘I’ and ‘Self’, or ‘I’ and ‘myself/me’. It is a simple term to describe the existential dilemma that is inherent to human nature.”

Many of the pieces featured in the collection are concerned with the artist’s identity as a woman. Louise Bourgeois expresses her ongoing theme of motherhood in Untitled (2005) with three hand-sewn, stuffed doll figures, representing concepts of the female body through the ages. All three dolls are laid out like bodies in a morgue, reduced to their function of reproduction: missing arms and facial features leave them passive, incapable of agency. They are little more than swollen belly and breasts. The effect is unsettling. The post-punk musician Linder is another artist whose work questions how society perceives women. Her self-portrait You search but do not see (1981/2010) is an image that’s difficult to walk away from. Here the depiction of the artist becomes an archetype of the expectations laid on women of how they should present themselves. The pearls, lace dress and high level of grooming the artist wears in the picture are just as stifling as the plastic bag which covers her head, representing the carapace that women must don in public. The image is a woman but it is not the woman. You can see a panicked look in the eyes of the true identity inside as the artist is suffocated, stifled, and ultimately rendered mute by the plastic veil filling her mouth. The image can’t help but also conjure up connotations of violence against women. It reflects,

as Butler says, “how women historically have been subservient to men’s desires, embodying muse-like figures throughout art history and more recently in the mass media.” Of course, no contemporary discussion of self-portraiture would be complete without reference to selfies. “We are living in the age of the ‘selfie’, that proliferate online and on social media. People take ‘self-portraits’ constantly, often without a moment to reflect on how they are portraying themselves or what they mean,” says Butler. And while André Breton’s “Photomaton” (1929) series of photo booth pictures could be called selfies, but unlike the modern version staged for public performance, Breton’s images seem far more private. There’s a feeling of fun and playfulness, of not having control over the final image, so different to the self-conscious, tailored selfie of today. And yet, they Breton’s portraitsare still very much a representation of how the sitter wants to be seen, with their props and poses carefully considered. Towards the end of the exhibition, high on the wall there rests a silver and white clock where the numbers have been replaced by emotions and moods. Ecstasy, anxiety, fear, fatigue. The clock, a creation of Raqs Media Collective, is titled A Day in the Life of ______ (2009) and serves as a reminder of all the feelings that wash over us daily that

we never pause to register or assess. At what point do we stop the clock and say ‘that’s me’? After taking the collection’s world tour of artists and identities, Butler hopes “the visitors will come away rethinking their own conception of self.” And those concepts of self are certainly questioned by this exhibition. The last piece of all. comes in the shape of a striking canvas by Gilbert and George, artists intimately associated with East London. Dressed as pearly kings and emanating all the sentimental clichés of cockney life against the backdrop of a run-down, grimey alleyway, they’re a symbol of the old East End. And yet, when visitors leave the Whitechapel gallery, they’ll be presented with the area’s transformation and its latest identity. Today, if Gilbert and George created this image again, the backdrop would be luxury flats and gentrified neighbourhoods. You may identify yourself with a place, but what happens when that place keeps changing? The ISelf Collection runs at the Whitechapel G≠allery, London, until 20 August

ART

In 2017, questions of what makes up an identity are everywhere. Identities are constantly unpicked as we try to understand ourselves, and the old world order – where you could categorise people through certain markers: age, class, race, gender, sexuality – is being eroded. The arena for talking about internal identities is opening up and frank discussions are finally starting to happen.


André Breton, Photomaton, André Breton, C 1929

Emily Butler

Louise Bourgeois, Untitled, 1947-49

Tracy Emin, Fist Clasped, 2014

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Pawel Althamer, Self-portrait as the Billy-Goat, 2011

Cindy Sherman, Untitled No. 507, 1977/2011

ART

“Women historically have been subservient to men’s desires, embodying muselike figures throughout art history and more recently in the mass media”


062

Polo shirt: FILA x Liam Hodges Crew neck sweat: FILA x Liam Hodges

Evian Christ

Words: Niloufar Haidari Photography: Ellis Scott Stylist: Holly McDonald

Turning up to a photoshoot on one hour’s sleep is a pretty bold move, but it’s also emblematic of Evian Christ’s calm, no-fucks-given attitude to most things. During a five hour DJ set at the Crack Magazine-hosted LFWM afterparty for the new FILA x Liam Hodges collection, for example, he tossed out tracks by Russian pop duo t.A.T.u. and a trance version of Cha Cha Slide while – under his request – the fashion crowd was flashed by an intensely powerful strobe light. On set today, he moves between pieces from the collection and items from his own wardrobe – most notably the ‘Trance v Progressive scarf’ he designed with David Rudnick and, unexpectedly, a screen-printed t-shirt with a goat on it. “I don't really like art, but there's this one painting in the Lady Lever Gallery in Port Sunlight called The Scapegoat,” he explains over black coffee and pizza. “I go to see it every few weeks, I just like to sit and look at it. It's really depressing but hyper-colourful, and it's in this huge decadent gold frame with loads of inscriptions on. So I got a t-shirt of it! I don't know why that t-shirt exists. I can't imagine there's a market for it beyond me. Maybe I'm the first customer.”

STYLE

An item of clothing inspired by an 1856 painting about the Day of Atonement isn’t something you’d necessarily expect the leftfield electronic producer to own, but then there’s much about Evian Christ – real name Joshua Leary – that’s unexpected. Although he worked with Kanye West in the early stages of his career and he announced an album with Warp at the beginning of this year, Leary still lives in his hometown of Ellesmere Port, an industrial town just outside of Liverpool. Do his surroundings impact his style? “I buy or get given these expensive clothes.

I wake up every day and look at them and think ‘maybe I’ll wear this’ and then I just put a football shirt and some trackies on. I'm not gonna walk around Ellesmere Port dressed in some mad designer shit.” If Leary’s attitude towards his clothes is casual, his approach to his Trance Party events is anything but. You’d be hardpressed to find a clubnight that pays more attention to detail: both in terms of experience for the DJs and the crowd. The nights have gained a reputation for being not only unashamedly fun (featuring Cascada, strobe lights and confetti) but a chance to see some of the most progressive-sounding artists in contemporary music, including Laurel Halo, Total Freedom, Lorenzo Senni and Travis Scott to name a few. “You have to think about the experience you're giving people beyond the music,” Leary says of the parties. “I've seen so many great artists play shows in bad venues with the wrong production and the wrong sound. I always try and push for more, and it means setting aside a budget for making things good: for confetti, for carrying around a TV and having Ezra [Miller] do stupid live videos. It sounds silly but the music deserves it. The DJs that I book are the best in the world. I want to give these people a better context for their music.” Another thing that Leary feels strongly about is the dearth of alternative club culture and radical art events in some parts of the North of England. With bulk of the UK’s culture funding focused on London, Leary believes it’s important to encourage parts of the country that are often neglected by the UK’s Londoncentric media and creative industries. He also points out that trance music has always had a stronger fanbase up North than in the South of England. Whereas London’s history of West

Indian immigration created musical styles such as grime and garage, Leary argues that up North “we were mainly looking to Europe and listening to all these different iterations of that style of dance music that came after happy hardcore or whatever, so the trance thing reads much more literally.” After initially emerging onto the music scene with experimental, hip-hop orientated beats he’d made whilst listening to producers like Clams Casino, Leary has recently gone back to his roots. “At some point I just got a bit exhausted by all that and got more into listening back to old trance and finding stuff I'd never heard before and joining the dots between that and eurodance and hardstyle or whatever,” he muses. “I got back into the stuff I used to listen to as a teenager, like donk, bounce... thinking some of this is nuts. I got into more like regional stuff and that's been the direction I've been going in.” Even though he’s just about to host his first international Trance Party in New York, it’s strangely assuring to know that Evian Christ is most comfortable in his home turf, wearing a football shirt and staring at a Pre-Raphaelite painting of a goat. The FILA x Liam Hodges collaboration will be available at selected retailers globally


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Scarf: Evian Christ Trance v Progressive Scarf T-Shirt: Stone Island Joggers: Napapijri


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Glasses: Model's Own T-Shirt: Model's Own Joggers: Napapijri


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Crew neck sweat: FILA x Liam Hodges Joggers: FILA x Liam Hodges Trainers: FILA x Liam Hodges

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Crack Magazine Presents: FILA x Liam Hodges LFWM After Party with Evian Christ

Teaming up with Italian sportswear giant FILA, Liam Hodges brought the noise to the catwalk for SS18. Last season, Liam Hodges showcased a collection accompanied by spoken word artist Hector Aponysus’ bars on the runway; riffing on the ‘decline of Western civilisation’, it was a dystopian display that arrived after Brexit. This season, Hodges explored the idea of moving onwards and upwards through his collection titled Unveiled Tomorrows. Bringing together his influences of grime, two-step, pirate radio, car modding and zine culture for this season, Hodges’ show displayed the designer’s fixation on youth culture, which focused upon the age of oversaturation and consumption. Models walked the runway to Gaika’s God Save The Roadmen and Integrity’s Unveiled Tomorrow dressed in utilitarian shapes that Hodges subverted through FILA’s sports silhouettes.The finale arrived in the form of a humansized bear with its mouth wide open, bearing its teeth to the audience – a representation of Edvard Munch’s The Scream for this generation.

From 180 Strand to Kingsland Road, Crack Magazine teamed up with FILA and Liam Hodges to host a suitably loud afterparty with a special five hour set from Evian Christ. Racing through a strobe-heavy excursion that featured some clandestine t.A.T.u. cuts, a trance refix of the Cha Cha Slide and an impromptu back-to-back with Bala Club’s Kamixlo, Evian’s stormy selections perfectly captured the piercing spirit of the collection. As crowds littered the streets outside Shoreditch Platform – reeling in the afterglow – the reverberations were still being felt.

REVIEWs


REVIEWs

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073

Live

For the last ten years, Field Day has asserted its place among London’s booming festival calendar, but my, how it’s grown. Just ten summers ago the Victoria Park event was presented as a ‘psychedelic village fete’, capturing the blog house zeitgeist across a handful of tents and even fewer bars. Now it’s the curtain raiser for the capital’s festival season that, thanks to diverse programming and blockbuster bookings, sets the bar for all that follow. But for all the carefully programmed escapism, the hessian sack decoration and tea towel merch, this year felt a little different; with ‘Vote Labour’ placards and tactical voting stickers almost (almost) as populous as flower crowns and cans of IPA. Arriving early, the fine weather made the Bandstand stage one of the day’s standouts. Beneath

blazing early afternoon sun Hyperdub lifer Ikonika deployed a quick-fire set of ballroom and skewed club music, a well-timed drop of Jungle Brothers’ I’ll House You was greeted among the crowd like an old friend. Elsewhere Abra, sporting an Arctic-white Puffa, held the crowd rapt despite sound issues. Stretching out her long limbs and dancing with ease, her once-brittle stage presence oozed with confidence as her vocals meshed with the minimal production. A strain of vocal dexterity could be found, too, at the Crack Magazine stage, where Dr John Cooper Clark plied his muchloved punk poetry. Though his iconic shock of hair is now a little less fulsome, his chest even more concave, his wordplay still feels vital. “They discontinued my blood type last Wednesday,”

he quipped, before launching into The Health Fanatic. Still, the biggest cheers from the capacity crowd were reserved for I’m Yours which he does as an encore, although he regretted not being able to eke out his return to the stage “on account of there being stairs involved”. No such qualms for Death Grips, who took to the stage immediately after. As raw as an exposed nerve, their fractious, confrontational energy – bottled in assaults like Get Got – electrified the throngs who body charged their way into the mosh pit, leaving red-faces and the odd beer-stained Aphex Twin t-shirt in their wake. A more contemplative mood took hold in the new Barn Stage – a 10,000 capacity air hanger-like venue with boosted sound – where Nicolas Jaar held court, head bowed, arms spread

prog-style between instruments. The humid, downtempo qualities innate in his compositions were given room to breathe and though the sheer expanse of the space favoured broad strokes rather than fine detail, the slow building, overlapping layers of Space Is Only Noise and the psychedelic drama of No telegraphed Jaar’s flair for melody and driving rhythms. Of course, for many Field Day 2017 will be the year of Aphex Twin. Across two hours, Richard D. James demonstrated why he remains such a compelling figure; teasing us with a 10-minute loop of noise by way of warm-up. Once the grayscale clouds parted, he let rip an electrical storm of angular, alien constructions taking in works by Fis, Chino Amobi, Lorenzo Senni – the influencer, influenced. His set was fuelled by an at-

tention to dynamics, of tension and release, of the beautiful and disturbing. Drum patterns emerged and disintegrated and occasional footholds, the acid line from his own Lisbon Acid, say, were greeted with hands thrust skywards. The visuals heightened the feeling of extreme overstimulation as images of trash culture – Katie Hopkins, Jeremy Kyle, Nigel Farage – paraded distorted on video screens. . On the outdoor main stage, Run the Jewels Killer Mike also made a bid at connecting with a prevailing mood: “Shout out to the Labour Party!” ran his parting line. Predictably, it got a huge response. A decade into its lifespan, Field Day’s muchtouted ‘village mentality’ found a new, potent manifestation. ! Louise Brailey N Andrew Whitton & J Trickett

REVIEWS

FIELD DAY Victoria Park, London 3 June


ASIAN ARTS AGENCY PRESENTS A NEW COMMISSION WITH DJ SWAMI AND PUNJABI FOLK MUSICIANS

Highlights Sun 2 Jul Darlingside

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PunjabTronix is a progressive insight into my third generation British-Indian influences of electronica, hip hop and Punjabi folk. I am honoured to share this experience collaborating with the finest musicians of Punjab - DJ Swami

Sat 15 Jul Jim Lauderdale & My Darling Clementine Sun 16 Jul Yola Carter Thu 27 Jul Raghu Dixit Tue 15 – Thu 17 Aug Hoo-Ha! Children’s Festival

Sun 3 Sep Courtney Marie Andrews Sun 10 Sep Martin & Eliza Carthy Tue 12 Sep Erased Tapes is 10: Lubomyr Melnyk & Douglas Dare Fri 15 Sep Dylan LeBlanc Sat 16 Sep The Bristol Sessions Live Sun 17 Sep Thea Gilmore

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075

Live

PRIMAVER A SOUND Parc Del Forum, Barcelona 31 May - 4 June

Fortunately, Thursday still provided a back-to-back billing of contemporary RnB, with superstar crooner Miguel being immediately followed on the opposite stage by the mighty Solange. Not only has Miguel got the tunes, he’s a passionate performer – running from one side of the stage to the other with the kind of beaming smile that suggests he’d probably laugh in the face of Frank’s “production delays”. There’s a

huge congregation for Solange, who appears before a blood red moon backdrop with a slick band who join her for synchronised choreography throughout. It’s a powerful performance, with Solange cruising the crowd barrier to make direct contact with emotional fans in the front row during F.U.B.U. Very classy. Between Miguel and Solange, word got out of a surprise Arcade Fire set, sending a small stampede towards a makeshift outdoor stage that allowed the crowd to watch from the adjacent bridge. The crowd is treated to Arcade Fire’s greatest hits up-close and personal as orange floods the sky – it’s well-judged good fun rather than anything of true significance. On Friday night we cross the bridge to head to the revamped Primavera Bits arena, which is

home to most of the dance-orientated programming at the festival. Huerco S provides us with a dose of oddball house before Montreal artist Marie Davidson’s powerful arpeggios and unusual vocal offerings make a strong impression – definitely an artist to watch over the coming year. The ATP stage is now known as the Primavera stage, and despite the name change the line-up programming is still more or less in the spirit of the fallen festival, with revered alternative acts like Shellac, This is Not This Heat and rock deconstructionists Royal Trux appearing on it across the weekend. The Royal Trux reunion sees the band’s notorious core duo of Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema joined by brave members of their former side projects. It’s a mess of course, but Hagerty’s guitar playing still sounds great, and Herrema’s

rock star presence is intact, as she groans while clutching beers and cigarettes with her fringe completely obscuring her eyes. When the crowd suggests an encore, they look hilariously baffled. Saturday night’s most anticipated offering was, of course, the legendary Grace Jones. As she prowls the stage, the frills of her striped costume blow in the wind, giving her the appearance of a zebra batfish. After a slow vocal start, the medley of Shenanigans, the stunning Williams Blood and Amazing Grace lead into the phenomenal Pull Up To The Bumper, by which point Jones has mentioned cocaine three times in 45 minutes (old habits die hard, eh?). And then, it only feels right to head to Primavera Bits for the final dance of the weekend,

where DJ Dustin pushes an emotive, engulfing house/techno crossover sound that retains a full and moving audience. The sun rises, the crowd disperses, and the hardcore revellers head to the beach to watch the sunrise. Looking around, it’s hard to imagine many people have doubts about doing this all again next year. ! Davy Reed + Thomas Frost N Eric Pamies

REVIEWS

Primavera Sound is known for pulling together the best line-ups in the European festival calendar. This year's news of Frank Ocean’s cancellation less than a week before, however, was a real downer. And suddenly this year’s star-studded Primavera Sound line-up didn’t shine quite as brightly when his name was replaced with the somewhat uninspiring substitute of Jamie xx.


THU.13.JUL.17

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TUE.25.JUL.17 WED.26.JUL.17

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WED.01.NOV.17 FRI.28.JUL.17

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TUE.17.OCT.17

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WED.06.SEP.17 WED.13.SEP.17 WED.27.SEP.17

NOTHING SUN 27 AUG THE LEXINGTON CAR SEAT HEADREST TUES 29 AUG O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN THE KVB TUES 19 SEPT OSLO HACKNEY

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THE NATIONAL MON 25 SEPT, TUES 26 SEPT, WED 27 SEPT T LD OU & THURSSO28 SEPT EVENTIM HAMMERSMITH APOLLO

THE BIG MOON FRI 20 OCT KOKO

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WED.18.OCT.17

FRI.20.OCT.17

SAT.21.OCT.17 MON.20.NOV.17

THU.14.SEP.17

LUKE HOWARD FRI 17 NOV ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH

IDER WED 25 OCT & THURS 26 OCT ARCHSPACE YANN TIERSEN MON 30 OCTOUT SOLD HALL ROYAL ALBERT

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12TH OCTOBER 2017 THE BREWHOUSE

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JULIE’S HAIRCUT

THU.26.OCT.17

THUNDER ON THE LEFT

KALLI MA + DRIFT + SERA EKE

BOOTLEG RASCAL

THU.26.OCT.17

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(SANDY) ALEX G TUES 24 OCT SCALA

1ST JULY 2017 ∙ KAMIO

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077

Live Glastonbury Worthy Farm, Somerset 22 – 25 June

Politics were everywhere this year and not just in the hippyish corners of Glastonbury’s hardcore. There were more people wearing RUN DMC-style or Nike-tick Corbyn T-shirts than merch with the festival head-

liner’s names on. Ahead of Run The Jewels’ set on the Pyramid Stage, Jeremy Corbyn drew one of the biggest crowds of the festival with an awe-inspiring speech, and it was impossible to avoid the slightly laddish, but good-natured “Ohhh Jeremy Corbyn" chant. During his set on the Other Stage, Stormzy – who, at this stage in his career, is a bonafide mainstream star – encouraged the Corbyn chant, also rapping his heartfelt verse from the Grenfell charity single and demanding justice: “We urge the authorities to tell the fucking truth, first and foremost,” he said. “We urge them to do something. We urge the fucking government to be held accountable for the fuckery, and we ain’t gonna stop until we get what we deserve.” Late night at the NYC Downlow, drag queens and leather daddies performed for the long queues and collected change for the Grenfell victim’s fund, and during Chic’s pitch-perfect, feel-good Sunday afternoon set on the Pyramid Stage, Nile Rodgers praised the volunteers, revealing he recently

visited the London building, was given a pair of gloves and told to “get to work.” Despite the demand for UK MCs being bigger than ever and Skepta absolutely killing his Pyramid Stage slot at last year’s festival, perhaps there’s a criticism to be levelled at the fact Glastonbury’s main stage didn’t host any British grime or rap artists (that’s if you’re not counting Craig David’s polished garage bars). Still, top tier UK rappers were given a noteworthy slots: Dizzee Rascal headlined West Holts on Friday, Boy Better Know closed the Other Stage on Sunday and Wiley was invited back despite the fact that, when the organisers last tried to book him in 2013, he accused them of being “tight bastards” on Twitter and pulled out. Arguably more interesting was the UK MC bookings on the smaller stages, most notably the Sonic stage in the Silver Hayes area, which hosted an all-dayer of new artists who drew rowdy teenage crowds. Avelino

crooned his way through Afrobeat-inspired, flirtatious anthems while Birmingham rapper Mist managed to instigate a massive moshpit – even though he’s recovering from a broken leg and his lyrics evoke a deep sense of sadness. There’s a great deal of hype around Brixton drill group 67 at the moment, but unfortunately they looked uncomfortable on the Sonic stage, resulting in a strangely lacklustre performance. When the weather is good at Glastonbury there’s a willingness to wander and encounter some of the welcome oddities in the booking policy. Having gone viral after attempting to teach Ed Miliband death metal vocal techniques on Radio 2, a huge crowd gathered for Napalm Death’s set in Shangri-La. The dystopia of a city left to ruins in rubbish formed the narrative for the area this year, and here death metal felt as apt as breakneck drum ’n’ bass. It’s no exaggeration to say Block 9 has become one of the most revered areas in the world to

experience electronic music. With the promise of queer performance alongside quality house and disco until the early hours, the NYC Downlow was in high-demand all weekend, and this year the Genosys stage’s monolithic, overbearing beast of a construction truly brought the house down. Friday’s onslaught from Shed, Blawan and Berghain mainstay Norman Nodge – who, during a particularly weird set dropped the The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson – was a highlight, with the stage’s improved sound redeeming previous years’ lack of volume. While plenty of people seemed unhappy with Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran as headliners (as much as he makes some of us cringe, Sheeran’s slot was probably justified by the scope of wide-reaching appeal), there was no denying the level of excitement for Radiohead. In hindsight, speculation of them marking OK Computer’s 20th anniversary by playing it in full was always a little unrealistic. What did come to pass was

a set that started with the sombre and got bigger and more bombastic as it moved on. The blurry and abstract visuals didn’t provide much of a sense of what was going on, but to embrace the emotion of the music all you really had to do was shut your eyes. 2018’s fallow year allows time for reflection, for growth and a refresh where needed. Glastonbury’s wonderment lies in its ability to adapt, and 2017 was the Glastonbury everyone needed – trouble free, warm and with the spirit of change in the air. Fingers cross, by Glastonbury 2019 this year’s political sea-change will have crested into something that touches the real world, too. ! Davy Reed + Thomas Frost

REVIEWS

Hate to rub it in if you couldn’t make it, but – at the risk of seeming a little pretentious – it felt like there was something special in air at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Maybe it was the ideal weather, or the knowledge of 2018’s fallow year making everyone go extra hard. After the sceptre of Brexit mingled with the apocalyptic conditions of last year cast a shadow over the event, we were all partying through the pain. But the vibe could have all been improved this year by today’s political climate. The widening cracks in the Trump and Tory governments and the left-wing Labour party’s unexpected surge in popularity has indicated that an alternative to spirit-sapping neoliberalism could be round the corner – a great excuse for a knees up.


079

Live

LOVE SAVES THE DAY Eastville Park, Bristol 27-28 May

JEFF MILLS: PL ANETS Barbican Centre, London 12 June A labour of love, Planets was composed by Jeff Mills over a period of nearly a decade. Inspired by Gustaf Holst’s 1918 classical score The Planets, Mills’ ambitious orchestral and techno score aimed to take its listeners on a journey around the solar system. Unfortunately, at the UK premiere of the piece, my feet mostly stayed on the ground. In recent years, Mills has graduated from his exuberant and ever-innovative DJ sets to combining electronic and classical music. He’s sold out concert halls around the globe, released a studio version of Planets earlier this year, and just wound up a muchhyped four-day residency at London’s Barbican centre (the Planets UK premiere was the culmination of the residency). Mills’ intent was to “paint the solar system” electronically, and the lush, rich orchestral sounds of Britten Sinfonia do him justice. There were a few dense, evocative moments – a rich cello section towards the end overlaid with cosmic sounds was strangely moving. Mills excels in producing unusual, distorted soundscapes: even crackles seemed evocative, like wrinkles in time. But despite this, the overall effect for me was disjointed – like lots of separate long-haul flights rather than one epic interstellar odyssey. After I read the accompanying notes, this made more sense: Mills composed each section with a period of time in between them, to make sure all the sections sounded different. Planets didn’t take me on a journey to outer space – at most, I was cresting the earth’s atmosphere. ! Sirin Kale N Mark Allen / Barbican

Back for its fifth year, We Love Green Festival relocated to the picturesque Bois de Vincennes in the heart of Paris for two days of impressively varied bookings. The eco-minded event is kind of like your average UK festival, if your average UK festival was attended by nice people who have no problem throwing a cup of sawdust into the 100% recyclable toilet and didn't attract any men with bindis from Essex. Saturday’s line-up boasted first lady of Atlanta’s Awful Records, Abra, and a predictably sensational sunset performance from Solange, who managed to stun both visually and artistically despite losing her luggage and, along with it, her planned stage outfit. Ed Banger royalty Justice were pulled in last minute to play the headline slot (after A Tribe Called Quest cancelled). Needless to say, Justice went down a treat in their home country, despite ending the night with a bizarre electrorock medley. Sunday carried on where Saturday had left off, with a 31-degree heatwave helping things along nicely. Action Bronson did his thing and didn’t disappoint the crowd that had gathered to see him. Straight after, Dr Dre protégé Anderson .Paak and his band The Free Nationals played the rowdiest set of the festival, instigating the only neosoulinduced moshpit I’ve ever seen. Overseas festivals will always have an advantage over their UK counterparts due to their superior weather conditions: for me anyway, two days of glorious sunshine in 14 acres of Parisian park will always beat an overcast field with a high chance of drizzle. Did I mention there is champagne on tap for almost the same price as beer? ! Niloufar Haidari N Julien Mignot

ALFRESCO DISCO: BUYOANCY The Balmoral, Bristol 14 May

YOUNG MA + TOMMY GENESIS Royal Festival Hall, London 17 June In her interview for Crack Magazine’s June cover story, M.I.A. said an incentive while curating this year’s Meltdown festival was to invite young artists who’d otherwise probably not get to play at London’s taxpayer-subsided Southbank Centre. With tonight’s line-up, she comes through on the promise. As an MC, M.I.A.’s rapping style has never fit snugly within one genre category, and stereotype-defying hip-hop is prominent across her Meltdown programme. This gig was preceded by a double-bill of Swedish sad boy Yung Lean and Afro-Latina rapper Princess Nokia, while the afterparty will see Mykki Blanco spit ferocious freestyles and encourage the crowd to fight HIV stigma and protect queer people as well as black and trans children during the rise of global fascism. Taking to the Royal Festival Hall’s huge stage, Tommy Genesis refuses to be intimidated by the 2,900 capacity, seated venue. The Vancouver art-rapper demands that the lights are cut, and she spends her entire set prowling the isles and mounting the rows of the seats, constantly illuminated by a spotlight formed of multiple iPhone camera flash lights.  Having broken through in 2016 with her mega-hit Ooouuu, Brooklyn's Young MA is new to the international touring circuit. She’s charmingly humble about her first trip to London, describing it as a “dream come true”, although her localised banter has mixed results – she repeatedly asks the crowd who likes making “those motherfucking Euros”, but later redeems herself by asking where to get good fish and chips. “I call myself a king +and+ a queen and I mean that shit,” Young MA declares, and her unapologetic lyricism provides the thrills of traditional street rap braggadocio. The highlights tend to come when Young MA’s DJ drops the beat so she can rap accappella, inspiring cheers from the crowd when her rhymes exude sexual bravado: “All of my guys want her/ I’m like ‘nah man/ That’s my bitch, don’t try shit.’” If part of  M.I.A.’s mission was to reinvigorate Meltdown’s adventurous spirit, then her work here is done. ! Davy Reed N Victor Frankowski

For Buoyancy, Bristol party collective Alfresco Disco once again transported their gleeful approach to the good ship Balmoral, charting a course up through the River Avon. As always with an Alfresco party, the crowd were dressed to impress – going by headwear, the Balmoral may be the most heavily captained ship ever to take to water. Alfresco residents kept the upper deck heaving with a relaxed, balearic vibe before the tunes took a left turn into luscious disco. Below deck, things were slightly darker both visually and in terms of the soundtrack. The second room, aka the cabin bar, sent forth stormy house and techno, reflecting the rising winds outside in a sonic turn of pathetic fallacy. Although we were sadly missing the unfortunate tourist that accidentally found himself aboard the Balmoral last year (under the impression he was going on a pleasant cruise around the harbour), we could get our own tourist fix from the below board souvenir shop, where postcards and magnets were flying off the shelves at the same velocity as tinnies of Red Stripe. After several hours of sailing and dancing, the first part of the voyage came to an end as the boat pulled in to Clevedon Pier. Piling on the party buses, the crowd were transported to out-of-town venue Factory Studios where the Alfresco gang hosted an afterparty. But having been swept away with naval excitement, at this point it was time for me to abandon ship early. ! Tamsyn Aurelia-Eros Black N Tom Hodgson

Love Saves The Day has grown considerably since starting as a one-day event in Bristol’s city centre in 2012. The two-day festival is arguably the city’s most anticipated summer event. That said, it still retains its laidback charm. Its recent move to Eastville Park has allowed the production set up to gradually become more flamboyant, while the selection of stages and acts have diversified, ranging from showcases of Bristol’s thriving underground to pioneering artists from across the world. At the main stage on Saturday, Fatima Yamaha performed to an eager crowd, elevating the party with a future-bending discourse of electronic disco. Over at the Arcadia stage Peverelist – arguably one of the most exciting figures in Bristol’s electronic music scene – wasted no time in channelling a sense of zoned-in euphoria. This year’s Lost Garden stage held the festival’s first ever LGBT venue, hosted by promoters Bitch, Please!, a highlight of which involved Artwork shouting at security to ‘dance for me, motherfucker!’. Sunday was met with noticeably sparser crowds, perhaps with many people being swayed by the torrential weather predictions. Crack Magazine took over the Paradiso stage for the day, where fearless rapper, poet and activist Mykki Blanco delivered a ferocious combination of DJing and performance art, as he dangled himself off the stage frame, above the crowd, and outside the tent, coaxing partygoers from their second day slumps. With the evening drawing in, the atmosphere is galvanised by rising rapper Stefflon Don, who instigated a ladies-only stage invasion. Toronto four-piece Badbadnotgood closed with a set that incorporated elements of funk, contemporary jazz and hip-hop, winding down the weekend with impressive musicianship. ! Gunseli Yalcinkaya N Khris Cowley / Here & Now

REVIEWS

WE LOVE GREEN Bois de Vincennes, Paris 10-11 June


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Releases

09 07 DJ STINGR AY Kern Vol. 4 Tresor

06 2016 was the year MoStack broke through with a kill streak of bangers including Block Popping, Liar Liar and its subsequent remix featuring J Hus and Krept & Konan. Off the back of the hype, the North London rapper has propelled himself to new heights with the High Street Kid mixtape, which debuted at no. 16 in the UK album charts – providing an indication of what Mo could be capable of once he’s ready to drop an official commercial album. MoStack rarely gives interviews, opting instead to let his music do the talking, and High Street Kid says a lot. Instrumentally, the beats here reference dancehall and afrobeats, pairing them with the gritty energy of rap and grime alongside sweet female vocal samples reminiscent of old school garage anthems. It’s a sound which captures the diaspora zeitgeist that seems to have become 2017’s summer soundtrack alongside Afro B’s MOVES compilation and, of course, J Hus’s critically acclaimed album Common Sense. But within the sound palette of this new wave, MoStack favours the rap end of the spectrum. His bars are audacious, often tongue-incheek and full of innuendo, particularly on tracks like I Like It, Sorry Mama and Explore Ya. The sweet-sounding beat of Explore Ya slips seamlessly into the final track Ussy Ussy. Both beats were provided by production duo Ill Blu, with whom MoStack has a proven track record, and elsewhere long time collaborators like J Hus, Sevaqk, Mist, Steel Banglez and Krept appear with guest features and beats.“I have less friends now, I had more in the past,” MoStack admits on the streetwise, sorrowful track The Friend. He might be keeping his circle small these days, but in his strive for success, MoStack certainly isn’t alone.

Dark Entries may be best known for reissues of obscure industrial, wave and other cult synth concerns, but the San Francisco label also supports a clutch of modern artists that adhere to the same principals of hardwaredriven sonic deviance. Bill Converse suits the label’s preference for shadowy producers tucked away from the thoroughfare of any given scene. Now based in Austin, Texas but with roots in the Midwestern rave scene, Converse has seemingly worked on his craft in relative solitude while bearing the influence of his formative years. Chicago and Detroit certainly loom large in Converse’s vocabulary, but this, his second album, veers far from standard techno territory. Threshold’s straining acid lines, dissonant metal clangs and drunken beat evoke a dark corner of the 1980s, but by contrast Position Of Home rains down a brightly coloured cascade of optimistic, noisy synths that sound positively modern. The push and pull central to Converse’s appeal is apparent from the off – the piano chords and strings that cut through on opening track Thank You provide a neat foil to the gnarly acid techno backbone. Armed with strangely langorous tracks that still thump hard and send your mind to strange places, The Shape Of Things To Come proves there’s still scope for originality with grizzly dance music made on old gear.

In recent years Sherard Ingram, aka DJ Stingray, has become increasingly focused on a particular strain of robo electrofunk that scales the walls with a palpable sense of dread. The Detroit artist’s ski mask-clad persona helps fuel an aesthetic of militant energy, while his role as the tour DJ for the mythologyweaving techno innovators Drexciya during their later days has enriched his name with a sense of mystique. Stingray has been an unwavering figure on the Detroit scene for three decades now, first collaborating with Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir, Carl Craig and Kenny Dixon Jr. (aka Moodymann) as Urban Tribe in the 90s, before going to work with Drexciya. Now based in Berlin, it’s both fitting that Stingray has contributed to the Kern mix series, which is curated the city’s Tresor club, and that he kicks it off with a sci-fi bleep-strewn track from Dopplereffekt, the project of former Drexciya member Gerald Donald. Dopplereffekt – whose music has been inspired by a mythological deep sea Afrofuturist world of water-breathing spawn descended from drowned slaves – appear five times throughout the 27-track blend, with the Kraftwerk-referencing Aquabahn being a welcome highlight. Appealingly, there’s also the inclusion of previously unreleased track Nationalised, taken from Stingray’s NRSB11 collaboration with Gerald Donald. Elsewhere, Kern Vol. 4 mines a chromatic-rich, eraspanning selection of electrocentred classics, newbies and deep cuts that move through Silent Servant, Herva, Alex Cortex and Anna Meredith to Aphex Twin (as AFX). Anyone lucky enough to have experienced a DJ Stingray set will be aware of his unrelenting, jackhammer style of mixing that’s arguably at odds with the pointedly artistic tendencies of deconstructed club fare. There’s just something about the melodic bombast of high-speed electro that makes it impossible not to dance with teeth-baring glee, and Stingray is the robotic pied piper owning the circuit.

! Hamda Issa-Salwe

! Oli Warwick

! April Clare Welsh

MOSTACK High Street Kid MizerMillion Entertainment

BILL CONVERSE The Shape Of Things To Come Dark Entries

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JAPANESE BRE AKFAST Sof t Sounds From Another Planet Dead Oceans

Young Thug Easy Breezy Beautiful Thugger Girls 300 / Atlantic

REVIEWS

Young Thug doesn't have a comfort zone. A restlessly eccentric artist, he's not afraid to change course, to experiment, or even to fail. The elasticity of his catalogue keeps him tethered to hip-hop even as he bungees into genres like dancehall-flavoured pop with the likes of Jamie xx and, now, country music. In this latest round of rappers reconciling with the acoustic guitar, Post Malone may have first mover advantage. Still, to suggest Easy Breezy Beautiful Thugger Girls is an example of trend hopping proves absurd with one listen. Countering pre-release speculation, the record pops far more than it twangs. Following the performative accent work of opener Family Don't Matter, the album discards that pretence like playing off a wardrobe malfunction. Here, Young Thug is on his Taylor Swift, not his Johnny Cash. Can you blame him? Countless contemporary white artists have gleefully exploited hip-hop's prominence as America's freshest commercial well to draw upon in recent years. Rappers in turn are driving huge hits for some of the most banal pop acts, the safe-ashouses sorts you might catch disparate generations of uncool types bopping along to. With all this wilful blurring underway, it seems more than fair for one of rap's most versatile and dynamic figures to pivot towards the perceived mainstream. And while Future beat Thug to that mark a few months ago with his candied RnB set HNDRXX, E.B.B.T.G dazzles in its tightrope effort to remain endearingly odd while cruising into accessibility. Admittedly, sometimes it's strange to encounter Thugger skewing towards the conventional. Booming ballad Relationship arrives with an instantly memorable Future sung hook in tow. The music box trap beat of On Fire sounds not all that far removed from Fifth Harmony's Down. It backfires on For Y'all, coming off corny amid the hokey horns and saccharine strums. He fares better on She Wanna Party, vacillating between scream-singing, falsetto, and a genuine, unexpectedly orthodox vocal style. Thankfully Young Thug hasn't tempered his brash, loose-lipped lyricism, calling out a letdown of a lover on the hilarious You Said, making boastful Fifty Shades ad libs on Tomorrow Til Infinity, and invoking both masturbation and Popeye’s on Take Care. Even with casual references to AIDS and facesitting, Do U Love Me screams summer single with afrobeats-inflected production by regular collaborator London On Da Track. These frequent moments of delightful absurdity keep this glossy Young Thug reboot unapologetic and honest. ! Gary Suarez

In the video for Michelle Zauner’s song Machinist, a woman falls in love with a robot and hallucinates on rocket fuel. She then tears up her spaceship in an attempt to build a new body for her robot lover. The video paves a cinematic path for Soft Sounds From Another Planet, Zauner’s new LP as Japanese Breakfast. The album is a follow-up to 2016’s Japanese Breakfast LP Psychopomp, a record of airy indie-pop which dealt with themes of loss and grief. Co-produced by Ariel Pink collaborator Jorge Elbrecht and Craig Hendrix (who worked with Zauner’s former band Little Big League) Soft Sounds From Another Planet is much more polished than its predecessor. And as the title denotes, the record explores a sonic landscape inspired by science fiction. This theme acts, perhaps, as a metaphor for the process of moving away from grief. “I want to be a woman of regimen,” Zauner declares in opening track, Diving Woman, and the warbling synths that envelop her voice have an extraterrestrial feel. “My body is a blade that cuts a path from day to day… Knuckled under pain you mourn but your blood is flowing,” she sings on Body is a Blade. Zauner’s words hold a discernible pain that punctuates against the instrumentals, and it's through this language of hurt that the music manifests. In its 12 tracks, Soft Sounds From Another Planet is a reflection of grief, which depicts its enduring nature and many manifestations. The album harks to not just a personal past, but also towards a future that encompasses all the fear and excitement of discovering a new planet.  ! Gunseli Yalcinkaya


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08 BL ACK GR APE Pop Voodoo UMC

DAPHNI FABRICLIVE 93 fabric Every so often the fabric CD series throws up something special. Dan Snaith’s contribution to the FABRICLIVE series as Daphni is comprised of entirely original productions, forming a blend between a mix and an original artist album – which, considering the prestige of Snaith’s Caribou LPs, is certainly an appealing prospect. You could try to feel out this record for an album-style structure, but this one definitely flows like a cohesive dance mix. As Snaith’s 1000 track playlist from a few years back testified, his sources of inspiration are diverse, and here there’s a lot of textural variety to be found within what could be described loosely as a hi-tempo house structure. Slow-burn hypnotic beats are not the only order of the day. The mix moves along at a startling pace that connects the dots with precision. If anything, there is so much deployed across these tracks that it can be hard to find focus or a clear musical definition that characterises the overarching palette of the mix. But the sound palette Snaith has developed over the years is a colourful one, and his mastery of so many disparate parts of music leaves this one consistently interesting for 70 minutes – no mean feat. ! Thomas Frost

LORDE Melodrama Lava / Republic BORIS Dear Sargent House

Sheer Mag waste no time thrusting you into the fast-paced world of Need to Feel Your Love. Protest jam Meet Me in the Street opens the album with bold confidence, with the fistin-the-air energy of a rock’n’roll riff and lyrics inspired by the USA’s post-inauguration chaos, introducing a riotous spirit that fuels the whole album. Much like Sheer Mag’s trilogy of EPs, Need to Feel Your Love makes no secret that the Philadelphia band are proud connoisseurs of classic 70s rock. And yet while the music here is nostalgic, with guitar riffs bringing to mind the Jukeboxfriendly material of Thin Lizzy and The Clash’s London Calling era, Sheer Mag aren’t necessarily impersonating the rock canon. With Tina Halladay’s lyrics often taking centre stage, Sheer Mag seem to have found their own original angle on the genre, creating a varied record that is positively political. They slam the ultimatum on the table on Expect the Bayonet: “If you don’t give us the ballot/ expect the bayonet”, a timely and welcome comment on the silencing of marginalised voices in society by those in power. Instant classics Just Can’t Get Enough and Pure Desire carry a simple message of romantic ecstasy – the former, a classic rock ballad and the latter, an indie-funk summer tune. But the real MVP track is Suffer Me featuring tickled electric guitars that somehow meld a Southern twang with an almost East African melodic lift, a simple foot drum beat and some of Halladay’s most dynamic vocals. Sheer Mag don’t shy away from difficult conversations about social change. They also don’t attempt to obscure and manipulate the sounds of the musicians that have influenced them along the way. And as a result of this combination, Need to Feel Your Love is a blatant and irresistible ode to the past, the present and – importantly – the future.

Boris's level of output is extraordinary. Now celebrating their silver jubilee as a functioning outfit, their cache of studio releases is set to peak at 24 (and that’s without counting their surplus of EPs, special editions and collaborative albums). It's an astounding quantity of material that even the most dogmatic of Boris fans struggle to absorb. But it's how the Japanese three-piece have always worked. From their 1996 debut Absolutego to last year's Gensho – a two-part partnership with noise engineer Merzbow – Boris have recorded some of the most enterprising drone and minimalist metal ever to have reached the ears of the mainstream music press. During Dear’s early stages, the group referred to the album as a "potential farewell note of Boris." What is presented instead is the band's most coherent work since their 2005 breakthrough, Pink. This is not to suggest that Dear is their most progressive body of sounds of recent memory. Those hungry for the verbose experimentation of 2015's Asia, or their ever-formidable collaborative work with Merzbow, or the downtempo guitar oddities of Präparat, may be left starved of the radicalism Boris are more than capable of. The cataclysmic blitzing of opener D.O.W.N. at first replicates the sustained chordal movements championed by demonic drone scientist Stephen O. Malley, but leads towards the type of audible clemency captured perfectly in Dylan Carlson of Earth's later compositions. The distorted acrimony of DEADSONG's guitar work, the title track’s free-falling percussion, the stoner-ish riffing of Absolutego; the aggression is nuanced and the deceptively poppy sections are disturbing enough to retain the bleaker tropes of heavier metal music. Will this be Boris's humble letter of resignation? If Dear is anything to go by, it sounds more like a band putting more fuel in the tank rather than acknowledging their creative demise. 

One of the things which impressed critics about Lorde when she rose to prominence in 2013 was an apparent wisdom which belied her teenaged year. She was an old soul – orbiting youthfulness with an air of mistrust and disenchantment. Her debut album Pure Heroine was an addictive distillation of that outlook, a concise suite of catchy pop songs with glassy instrumentals and vivid lyricism centred around the concept of “dancing in a world alone.” For her second album, Lorde has parted ways with songwriter Joel Little, who she worked with on every track of Pure Heroine. And Melodrama is far more sophisticated than its predecessor. Across the LP, Lorde’s vocals sound notably more assured, especially when Writer In The Dark’s spectacular chorus finds her in a falsetto reminiscent of early Kate Bush.  Lorde’s lyrics have always been slightly cloying and there are a handful of moments that could make even the most hardened pop fan wince – we get “Those rumours they have big teeth/ Oh they bite you,” on the very first song. But Lorde’s occasional moments of gawkiness make this transfer into adulthood feel authentic. Narratively spanning the course of a night out – headrushes, comedowns and deteriorating relationships – Melodrama is bookended by the two most boldly upbeat tracks, Green Light and Perfect Places. In context of the emotional confusion and loneliness explored with the other songs, Lorde’s message here feels less like naive optimism and more like selfmade acts of resilience. When she sings, “Let’s go to perfect places” on the closer – she’s singing like she’s willing herself to believe it. At 16, Lorde had stars in her eyes, seeing through the artifice and unpicking pop’s aristocracy with a hint of wonderment in her tone. On Melodrama, she shifts her gaze toward independent adulthood. Confused, unsettled and ultimately optimistic – Melodrama is the smartest pop record of the year so far. 

Everything about this fourth record from This Is the Kit suggests they’re stepping up a gear. They’ve signed to Rough Trade, brought in a heavyweight producer in the form of John Parish and continued their fruitful, long-standing collaborative partnership with Aaron Dessner of The National, who contributes instrumentally. Committed fans of Kate Stables’ outfit, then, might be forgiven for worrying that some of the idiosyncrasies that made the last three albums from the project so engaging could be stripped away, with the weirdness lost a little in the translation. Thankfully, not so. Thematically speaking, Moonshine Freeze is rooted in the exploratory folk territory that Stables has made her calling card, and as niche as it might seem to be delving into talk of oracles and superstition, the truth of the matter is that the Paris-via-Bristol artist tells those stories in an endearingly colloquial style – Empty No Teeth and Riddled with Ticks are cases in point. Musically, meanwhile, there’s subtle expansion; flecks of brass here, flutters of strings there, but it’s really on the more experimental tracks that it comes to the fore. Two Pence is darkly electronic one minute, soothingly led by the warmth of the electric guitar the next. The jaunty Hotter Colder pulls a similar trick, flitting between folk and rock and still finding room for a saxophone freakout, whilst the title track is one point at which the ambitious outlook backfires – its off-kilter shuffle never really gets going. Moonshine Freeze is This Is the Kit’s most accomplished work to date, and even those turned off by the wider net they cast here should at least find folky comfort in the likes of Easy on the Thieves. That the LP encompasses both the old and new sides of Kate Stables’ band means it can occasionally feel disjointed, but if that’s the price to pay for avoiding treading water, we should be pleased that Stables was happy to go along with it.

! Natty Kasambala

! Tom Watson

! Duncan Harrison

! Joe Goggins

SHEER MAG Need to Feel Your Love Static Shock

THIS IS THE KIT Moonshine Freeze Rough Trade Records

REVIEWS

07

Black Grape formed from the ashes of Madchester heroes The Happy Mondays, defying expectations by bagging a number one album with their debut LP, It’s Great When You’re Straight…Yeah. The album was released during the height of Britpop in 1994, and Black Grape – which included the Mondays’ Shaun Ryder and Bez alongside rappers Paul "Kermit" Leveridge and Carl "Psycho" McCarthy and a new band – were the odd ones out who shouldn’t have made it to the top. Theirs was a shambolic hodgepodge of styles, from acid house and indie rock to psychedelic pop, reggae and hip-hop, which was recklessly joyous in contrast to the carefully plundered nostalgia of the Cool Britannia brat pack. Black Grape’s 1997 sophomore Stupid Stupid Stupid didn’t quite hit the same highs of their debut, and the band dissolved the following year. Now Ryder and Kermit are back with a new Black Grape album in 2017, which has been spearheaded by a Trump (and Hillary Clinton)-skewering single called Everything You Know Is Wrong. It’s a worthy sentiment, but calling Hillary “an old bird who fucks up on her computer” is pretty offensive, and those dial-up internet tones just sound naff. Elsewhere, Set The Grass On Fire sounds like the precocious lovechild of Beck, Mark E. Smith and the Austin Powers soundtrack, while Whisky, Wine and Ham tries, but fails, to delve into laid-back lounge jazz. There are some enjoyable moments, notably the downtempo slink of Money Burns and the organ-led psychedelia of the Happy Mondays-esque Nine Lives. But Ryder’s rhyming wears thin over the course of the album. "He can outrun a rabbit/ find something and grab it," he barks on Shame, while sing-speaking: “I'm digging a hole/ I'm out of control" on Losing Sleep. The heady mishmash of styles that helped Black Grape stand out from their peers is a returning point of interest, but this record lacks the glue that helped their debut stick. Throughout Pop Voodoo, Shaun Ryder's lyrics often descend into absurdist territory, and the album is simply lacking in bangers to back up the banter.   ! April Clare Welsh


With DJs, dancing, cocktails and Sunday brunch, The Rooftop provides respite and rollick, panoramic views of the city and gatherings of all kinds. Plus we have a giant purple telescope. See you up there.

7th Floor at Ace Hotel London Shoreditch

acehotel.com/therooftop


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08 VINCE STAPLES BIG FISH THEORY Blacksmith/Def Jam

Ctrl sees a sharp injection of strength into the music of Solána Imani Rowe, aka SZA. From the early stages of her career, the St. Louis-born 27-year-old has been connected to Top Dawg Entertainment, the label home to a tight-knit group of artists such as Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q. Since her debut release in 2012 the world has gradually come to understand SZA as a force to be reckoned with among the landscape of contemporary RnB. On Ctrl, SZA’s debut retail album, she explores the full range of her voice over laidback hip-hop production that includes the textural variety of live instrumentation. Lyrically, the songs feel like a collection of deeply personal romantic memoirs – tales of infidelity, growing pains, self-esteem issues, sacrificing yourself for someone underserving and long overdue break-ups. Though not always relatable, SZA’s stories make for powerful listening.  “I get so lonely/ I forget what I’m worth/ We get so lonely/ we pretend that this works,” SZA sings with an almost desperate husk in her voice on album highlight Drew Barrymore. Broken Clocks is a bad bitch singalong ballad, with an opening reminiscent of Rihanna’s I Needed Me. Pretty Little Birds invites TDE label mate Isaiah Rashad for a graveltoned verse via a jazzy diversion, while woozy boom-bap track Doves in the Wind features an excitable Kendrick paying tribute to the spellbinding power of women. “Why you bother me/ when you know you don’t want me?” SZA protests on the Travis Scott collab Love Galore. Even in the moments of disaster, it seems as if she’s struggling for the upper hand. Ctrl is not always about winning – far from it – but it’s this sheer honesty that’s helped crown SZA as the reigning queen of her own truth.

! Theo Kotz

! Natty Kasambala

! Neil Kulkarni

RED A XES The Beach Goths Garzen SZ A Ctrl Top Dawg Entertainment / RCA

07

SHABA ZZ PAL ACES Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star / Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines SubPop

LOOK Y LOOK Y Flamingo Boots Dark Entries

Omitting 2016's Live at Third Man Records release, it's been three years since Shabazz Palaces released an album. So, how have Ishmael Butler – formerly of the jazz-spritzed, 90s hip-hop trio Digable Planets – and multi-instrumentalist partner Tendai Maraire occupied their minds during this period of radio silence? You could speculate that Ish’s job as an A&R for Sub Pop has dominated most of his creative agenda over the past few years; selflessly channelling his talents through the minds of future aspiring stars rather than focussing on his own musical journey. But now, the duo have surged with a wealth of new material: Shabazz Palaces return with not one, but two albums of afrofuturist rap escapism.  These two epic albums chronicle the sentient being known as Quazarz, who is sent to a fictional land known as 'Amurderca' as a musical emissary. Record one, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star, introduces our protagonist within a brutal backdrop of bigotry and disorder. Whether Butler and Maraire use the story of Quazarz to parody that of our own social environs is only subtly portrayed throughout the duration of the album. However, as the wisp of reverberated strings echo out on tracks such as Fine Ass Hairdresser and skeletal drum loops bounce around Butler's buttery flow on That's How City Life Goes, there seems frequent nods to this gross political lunacy Quazarz has surrounded himself in. "Sliding cornered by more law enforcements," Ish raps on Shine a Light, "Feelin' like I'm riding with The Four Horsemen." On When Cats Claw, he hits out at the arrogance of some nondescript peer; "Everything you claim, no proof/ Tryna do his thang, no use/ You gon' check my chains." The concept is further developed in record two, Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines. Here, Shabazz describe their universe's perverse relationship with tech-devices, soundtracked by freakishly sexual, hellishly funky synth lines. Tracks such as Gorgeous Sleeper Cell, Julian's Dream (ode to a bad) and Love in the time of Kanye shift restlessly between oddly psychedelic bass manipulation to polytonal digitised vocal bending. The overall result is overtly seductive. At times, the minimalism veers towards the familiar realms of cloud rap, but thankfully Butler's storytelling is so engrossing and substantial that any notes of instrumental gimmickry disappear.  Together, this series of records is by far the most demanding body of work released by Shabazz Palaces so far, which is astounding considering it was apparently recorded in a mere two weeks. If consumed separately, the first episode of the saga – with all its string arrangements and funk-laden time signatures – may be the more accessible and plush. However, the reward here is fully immersing yourselves into Quazarz' world in its entirety. With this double bill, Shabazz Palaces have succeeded in painting one of the most colourful and explorative parallel dimensions in recent hip-hop history. 

The white-hot Dark Entries label continues a lengthy run of form with this four track EP from Detroit duo Looky Looky. Although Dark Entries’ reputation was established by unearthing and re-releasing gnarly postpunk, synth-driven Italo and sumptuous electro; of late the focus has shifted to release more contemporary material. Flamingo Boots kicks off with I’ll Just Be a Minute, purring along on a supple rhythm that places it somewhere between the soft, almost neo-trance stylings of modern-day cosmic artists like Prins Thomas, and sleek, vintage Aphex Twin. Next up, Nurse Coven Rides Again articulates a slightly harderedged vision, with industrial aesthetics rubbing up against IDM flourishes, like one of the threads in the mangled tapestry of a Helena Hauff DJ set. All four tracks are in fact maxed-out dancefloor versions of material Looky Looky debuted on a longer release last year, but the bells-n-whistles treatments suits them: the pomp never becomes pompous, and the retro aesthetic doesn’t feel affected. Final track The Handoff – with its fluffy synth clouds and brusque analogue bassline – is maybe the pick of the bunch: a sound that’s overtly located in the hazy 80s gay underground, but somehow sounding fresh and vibrant some 30 years later. Stick it on the playlist.

! Tom Watson

! Adam Corner

REVIEWS

Red Axes have nailed that rare feat of owning a distinct sound without letting it get stale. Fluid and ever-shifting yet patently themselves, the Israeli duo’s music is nestled in the grubbier corners of post-punk, and it wanders the weirder peripheries of house and disco. Since their debut LP, 2014’s Ballad of the Ice, Red Axes have settled into a groove of releasing great music with incessant productivity, encapsulating strands of balearic, disco, new wave and industrial. Their own label Garzen was launched in 2015 with the collaborative Ahuzat Bait record under the Red Axes name, while releases from several Israeli artists have helped develop the thrilling Tel Aviv scene. Now comes The Beach Goths, the second straight-up Red Axes LP and their first on Garzen. The record wheels through an expansive collage of fuzzy rollers, retracing the different paths trodden since Ballad Of The Ice. What’s In Your Head evokes peak Brian Jonestown Massacre narrating a spaghetti western set on the Mediterranean shore, while the industrial Piper Work, featuring longtime collaborator Abrão, shrieks with witchy menace. Relentless psychedelia, dreamy desert-island alohas, chugging breakbeat and charges of exponential dread are all scattered across The Beach Goths’ 12 tracks, which are split into two sides. The latter half’s highlights include Shlomit, with its military-tinged doom rock, and Loosen – a countrified reggae jam that channels a classically detached Serge Gainsbourg. By the time the tender closer Into Your Arms comes to an end, the sheer range Red Axes have explored is almost forgotten. But the confidence to take on everything contained here earmarks them as one of the most impressive bands working today. The Beach Goths might be their surest step, and it’s a joy to hear them use the full range of their powers.

Big Fish Theory doesn’t disappoint fans hungry for more Vince Staples after the rolling wonders that were last year’s Prima Donna EP and his 2015 double album Summertime ‘06. With the bar set high, this album still manages to up the ante for the Long Beach rapper – and it might be the most intriguing, innovative and barrier-busting release Def Jam has given us in what feels like too long. Staples’ new sound palette is entirely unique but drawn from familiar sources. Grime, drill and even gqom seem to find a way into the demented swirl of Big Fish Theory, placing it beyond genre. Highlights like the dazzling Durbanite sprawl of Big Fish sees Staples lay down his razor-sharp, steely-eyed lyricism (“Compensation conversations what I'm all about/ Took the smart route, never been marked out/ Shoulda been dead broke, shoulda been chalked out”) over a Christian Rich-produced beat which indicates that Staples’ ears are open, not just to Europe, not just to Africa and elsewhere, but also to the unspoken history of black underground music and afrofuturism so criminally unexplored at present. The way a track like Homage melds Model-500-style Detroit techno with trap’s pace and a hint of the afro-electronica of William Onyeabor is utterly thrilling. Throughout Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples makes sure that his rhymes remain focused on his overarching concept, something he described in a recent interview as a look at the way “rappers are perceived and perceive themselves.” He interrogates rap bravado with ruthless honesty and on the Kendrick-featuring track Yeah Right, diving with unsettlingly real incisiveness into suicide, politics, fame and artistic responsibility. With its danceable production, Big Fish Theory risks being called ‘rave-rap’ – don’t let such lazy soubriquets put you off. Yes it’s heavily influenced by electronic music, but this is a hip-hop record which understands the genre’s central tenets: sound like anything, talk about anything you want. On Big Fish Theory, Staples is exhilaratingly untrammelled and free.


Lanzarote

07—17 MOTH Club Valette St London E8

lanzaroteworks.com #lanzaroteworks

presents

Friday 7 July

BLEAKENDER III: HOUSEWIVES

Saturday 15 July

DJ SLYNGSHOT

mothclub.co.uk Saturday 8 July Tuesday 4 July

BENJAMIN BOOKER

BLEAKENDER III: BAD BREEDING

Thursday 27 July

COSMIC STRIP Saturday 29 July

Friday 7 July

A GUY CALLED GERALD

Wednesday 12 July

PARLIAMENTS

BROKEN ENGLISH CLUB Friday 11 August

Monday 10 July

RON GALLO Friday 14 July

MEATRAFFLE Tuesday 18 July

THE MEATBODIES

Thursday 20 July

TAFFY Monday 24 July

THE HAYMAN KUPA BAND Friday 28 July

GNAR TAPES WEEKENDER: UNKLE FUNKLE

Thursday 3 August

ADULT. Sunday 6 August

Saturday 29 July

GNAR TAPES WEEKENDER: WHITE FANG

C.W. STONEKING Sunday 30 July Friday 11 August

DAMO SUZUKI Wednesday 23 August

GOSPELBEACH

GNAR TAPES WEEKENDER: THE MEMORIES

The Waiting Room 175 Stoke Newington High St N16 waitingroomn16.com

Wednesday 30 August

NEON WALTZ

Shacklewell Arms 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 shacklewellarms.com Wednesday 5 July

ANNABEL ALLUM Thursday 6 July

BLEAKENDER III: BABA NAGA

Tuesday 4 July

KALEIDA Wednesday 5 July

PALM HONEY Thursday 13 July

LA HOULE Friday 14 July

BIRDSKULLS

BOO SEEKA

The Lock Tavern 35 Chalk Farm Rd London NW1 lock-tavern.com Friday 7 July

POP MUZIK: SYNTHPOP SPECIAL Saturday 8July

SPILT MILK ALL-DAYER: AVERAGE SEX Sunday 9 July

THE SHIVAS Friday 21 July

DIRTY WHITE FEVER Saturday 22 July

HERETIC

The Montague Arms 289 Queen’s Rd London SE14 montaguearms.co.uk Wednesday 5 July

PINATA Thursday 6 July

MOONOVERSUN


085

US rap critic Kathy Iandoli honours the overlooked genius of Missy Elliott’s debut album

Original Release Date: 15 July 1997 Label: The Goldmine / Elektra Missy Elliott’s debut solo album arrived in the Summer of 97; arguably a weird time for anyone who loved hip-hop. Biggie passed in March of that year, following Tupac in September of 1996. After that, everyone retreated to their respective corners in the bi-coastal rap war, trying to regroup and essentially stay alive, as the death toll of two kings loomed overhead. In New York, artists like Bootcamp Clik, Wu-Tang Clan, CaponeN-Noreaga, and KRS-One all released projects, perhaps hoping to fill the gaping wound left following their loss.  Meanwhile, the rest of the rap map saw other regions peeking their heads back out. Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony and Twista came through for the Midwest, B.G. and Mia X for the South. Lady of Rage was the lone West Coaster. However, once Puffy put his shiny suit on, hip-hop was forever changed. His debut

album No Way Out propelled the unbridled commercialisation of rap, as Puff took Biggie b-roll, layered it with catchy samples, and repackaged it for the mainstream. This happened on 1 July, and for any hip-hop bleeding heart, it was tough to appreciate the gist of the new direction at face value. On 15 July, Virginia artist Missy Elliott’s released Supa Dupa Fly, which was bookended by No Way Out (where Missy holds an uncredited vocal arrangement on All About The Benjamins) and Company Flow’s pride of the underground, Funcrusher Plus, on 22 July.

Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) first poured into the music scene, Missy had much to say about reinvigorating hip-hop with a fresh wave of originality. “The radio is stuck right now,” she told MTV News back in 97. “Everything sounds the same; as far as video-wise, everything looks the same. So we feel like we comin’ in and we gonna change the whole thing.” Missy was greater than her marketing campaign, but swimming in a pool of Lauryn Hills, plus Lil’ Kims and Foxy Browns, forced the woman once called “Misdemeanor” to make her presence uniquely felt.

Missy was inadvertently speaking to the new direction of hip-hop when she released the Hype Williams-directed visuals for the project’s lead single The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) that June. The video showcased exaggerated facial gestures and scenery, fisheye lens shots, and Missy’s now infamous inflated garbage bag ensemble.

In 97 we were still living in an era where a female rap artist had to be tethered to her male counterpart. Kim had Biggie, Foxy had Jay Z. Lauryn would break that spell the following year, but at that point she still had Wyclef. And Missy had Timbaland. Being flanked by a man was called a “cosign” back then, yet in retrospect it was really just complimenting the chef on his cuisine. Woven throughout the entirety of Supa Dupa Fly are these nods back to Timbaland. The video for “The Rain” has shots of Tim dancing, while Missy chants

The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) marked Missy as the immediate figurehead for the eccentric—a gift and a curse for a veteran singer, songwriter, rapper and producer. When The

“It be me me me and Timothy” as Timbaland replies “me me me” amidst his other ad-libs throughout the song. All the pleasantries to her creative partner aside, and the song is about making a mad dash once trouble strikes in a relationship, aka “the rain.” The last lines of the song sum it up: “Chumpy, I break up with him before he dump me/ To have me, yes you lucky.” Pass Da Blunt opens with Missy calling out anyone bootlegging Timbaland’s style. “Your worst mistake is to try duplicate anything that Timbaland make,” she says. While the song is about Missy chin-checking the haters (both men and women) who both gravitate toward and are repulsed by her success, the message is drowned out by the hook—where Missy interpolates Musical Youth’s sole hit Pass The Dutchie to once again big up Timbaland (“He got the beats that make me jump, jump, jump”). The moments where Missy shines the brightest are when Timbaland’s voice can’t be heard. Songs like Hit ‘Em Wit’ Da Hee (with Lil’ Kim) and

Sock It 2 Me (with Da Brat) define the union of rap ladies, a rarity following the Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown war of pitting women against each other. Best Friends, featuring Aaliyah, highlights Missy’s own vocal prowess once lined up next to Baby Girl’s. Friendly Skies with Ginuwine does the same. Missy defied gender barriers at every given turn—volleying between breaking hearts and being the brokenhearted—often adopting the role of what was seemingly “the man’s place in a relationship” back then. And while Timbaland’s brilliant soundscape of spacey production ultimately enhanced Missy’s message, his presence often eclipsed hers on her own debut album. In a nutshell, Supa Dupa Fly is full of irony. The project holds a very tight theme of duality, with Missy grappling with either wanting a commitment or a booty call. Repelling her haters or luring them in, all while being laced with blunt smoke amidst moments of both smooth singing and choppy spoken word. Timbaland produced the entire album and co-wrote on most of the songs, yet the pedestal he’s placed upon

for the duration of the project would suggest Missy had no career before him. But once you strip away the endless gratitude toward Timbaland’s genius, the real gem is Missy Elliott—an artist with a track record of hits for other artists, now successfully paving her own way. Supa Dupa Fly arrived at a time when we needed it the most, as it shifted the direction of women in rap while adding some light to a dismal era and putting Virginia rap on the map. Perhaps we were too blinded by “The Rain” to realise it.

REVIEWS

MISSY ELLIOT T Supa Dupa Fly


087

Film 02 01 03 07 WONDER WOMAN dir: Patty Jenkins Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Lucy Davis

! Tamsyn Black

BABY DRIVER dir: Edgar Wright Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey There are some good elements to English director Edgar Wright's long-awaited Baby Driver, and I don't hate it completely. The good stuff is: cool stunts, a decent soundtrack (although it's not a patch on Drive, the obvious comparison) and a strong lead performance from Ansel Elgort, which almost makes me forgive the atrocious music he persists in making. Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good. The film follows the story of Baby (Elgort), who, traumatised after the death of his mother in a car accident, uses music as a tool to help him escape and block out the persistent tinnitus he suffered during the crash. After being coerced into a bank-robbing operation by a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), Baby finds himself an unwilling getaway driver. But his desire to leave a life of crime is complicated by his burgeoning love affair with diner waitress Deborah (Lily James). Okay so now we've got the exposition out of the way, let me explain why his film sucks. Two words: Bechdel Test, baby! There's just no excuse for the way women are underwritten in this film – it's embarrassing. I'm guessing Edgar Wright, who also wrote the screenplay, basically chucked a load of saccharine manic pixie dream girl stereotypes into a fun little jam jar and picked them out at random to constitute Deborah's character – it's as gossamer thin as a string of fairy lights and as likely to dissolve as bunting in the rain. (It's hard to tell whether James is an objectively awful actress with a shaky American accent, or an adequate actress making the best of dire material, with a shaky American accent. Probably a bit of both.) The other female character, Darling (Eiza González) is essentially a video-game heroine brought to (partial) life. If this wasn't infuriating enough, the ending – which I won't give away here, aside to say it will make you splutter at its absurdity – is white privilege incarnate. Oh, and Deborah looks exactly like Baby's dead mum. Weird. Avoid this film, unless you're mad for stunts and quasi-incest vibes.

THE RED TURTLE dir: Michaël Dudok de Wit Starring: Emmanuel Garijo, Tom Hudson, Baptiste Goy Set on the shores of a desert island, The Red Turtle is a co-production between Tokyo-based animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli, and Oscarwinning Dutch-British animator Michael Dudok de Wit. It opens with a nameless Robinson Crusoe, the sole survivor of a shipwreck, discovering a brave new world of sandy beaches, bamboo forests and rocky peaks. A combination of hyper-simplistic animation and a beautiful, celestial score by Laurent Perez Del Mar, the film depicts a view of nature and mortality that is as-it-is. Life and death co-exist peacefully on the island: in one scene, a lifeless baby turtle is being dragged along the shore by a crab. Later, the crab becomes food for a seagull. This ‘circle of life’ mantra feeds into the allegorical nature of the plot, suggesting that death is a necessary component to life. The great sense of scale throughout the film is magnified by its complete lack of dialogue, which lies in keeping with Studio Ghibli’s ecocentric gaze, where nature takes precedence over humanity. Admittedly, this makes for slow watching, and requires patience on the part of the audience. Regardless, The Red Turtle is a stunning feat of East-meets-West cinematography and minimal narrative. The exciting collaboration hints at an interesting new direction for Studio Ghibli that transcends language, age and time.

Charm and charisma are essential traits of any Hollywood movie star. Based on the current state of Tom Cruise’s on-screen presence, his charm seems to have completely disappeared. Yet, rather bafflingly, his charisma remains. Thankfully for him, there are still execs in Hollywood who think charisma equates to talent and ultimately profits. It’s these people who have invested solely in Cruise’s stardom to help make Universal Studio’s new mummy venture get off the ground. Funnily enough, this film is terrible, and it’s all Tom Cruise’s fault. From his very first frame, he’s irritating. Within five minutes he makes a distasteful quasi-liberal comment on US drones and military presence in Iraq; within 10 minutes the film insists his magnetic sexuality enables him to outwit any woman into bed. There’s no respite from the Tom-twattery, with the plot pivoting around Cruise’s character choosing between the evil Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) and immortality or nice, normal Jenny (Annabelle Wallis). It’s difficult to decide what the rest of the film might be trying to do. Russell Crowe eventually provides some moderate intrigue upon revealing that he is Dr Jekyll (and subsequently Mr Hyde of course), suggesting Universal Studios may be looking to dip into its monster movie back catalogue to forge their own Avengers-style multi-character franchise. Intertextuality is all well and good (actually, is it?) but given the level of quality of this film, we may not be seeing Tom Cruise dealing with the Swamp Monster anytime soon. ! Tim Oxley Smith

! Gunseli Yalcinkaya

! Sirin Kale

REVIEWS

Wonder Woman is disappointing, and it’s boring. It’s disappointing because it takes an opportunity to make a massive blockbuster about a strong, empowering female leader and wastes it on an unimaginative teenage boys’ wet dream (with added Nazis). It’s disappointing that when Gal Galdot was cast, she was trolled for the size of her boobs and her bum, and that male characters consistently comment on Wonder Woman’s appearance. It’s disappointing that in a 141-minute action film there isn’t more action. It’s extremely disappointing that, in what should be Wonder Woman’s final epic showdown, her power and her strength come not from herself, but from gaining the love of a man. And all of those things are boring. All of that aside, and it’s still an objectively terrible film. Dodgy accents, gaping plot holes, bad twists and cliché after comic-book-actionfilm cliché abound. Despite breaking box office records for the biggest opening weekend by a female director, it flails about incoherently with a multitude of baffling decisions, such as her battlefield companions being an all-male line-up of a Scotsman, an Arab and an Indian - seeming like the set-up for a bad joke. In actual fact, Wonder Woman in itself is a bad joke, because how did a film directed by a woman and about a female superhero manage to be so entirely about men?

THE MUMMY dir: Alex Kur tzman Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe


NEW ALBUM OUT 7TH JULY UNCUT - 8/10 MOJO - aaaa RECORD COLLECTOR - aaaa

2017

SUMMER ~ LIVE ~ 01.07 07.07 25.07 2.09

Illa J /

02.07

Kioko /

03.07

Daniel Caesar [sold out] /

Girls & Boys: Scors + HÅN + Sunken /

Jessie Reyez /

Welshly Arms /

27.07

14.09

12.07

15.09

Daniel Caesar [sold out]

Sound Familiar Music Quiz /

Sola Rosa Sound System /

Coquin Migale /

04.07

28.07

Ine Hoem /

Faers / 22.09

24.08

20.07

Gospeloke

Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place

Massmatiks /

29.09

Avec Sans + Fours

~ LATE ~ 15.07

29.07

every fIRST Friday

01.07

NIGHT CALL

THE DOCTOR’S ORDERS

KATE BOSS

THROWBACK

BOUJI BODEGA

Alt-Pop and

Exploring every year of the

A proper old school

80s & 90s house designed

Representing the multicultural

Contemporary Sounds

40+ year history of hip hop

discotheque

to keep you dancing

nature of London’s club scene

08.07

Dates, times & tickets: hoxtonsquarebar.com

| HOXTONSQUAREBAR 2-4 HOXTON SQUARE, LONDON, N1 6NU


089

Products ARTS NOT PARTS artsnotparts.com Free

XING xi-ng.co £30

Arts Not Parts is a worldwide campaign protesting America’s trans bathroom laws. With Trump trying to reverse Obama’s policies, New York’s Irregular Labs has asked 45 musicians, artists, activists, magazines and creatives to make posters for the campaign to promote gender fluidity and inclusivity. Those who’re involved include Sia, Peaches and trans activist Charlie Cragg.

Founded by photographer Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee, XING is a photo book that mimics and satirises stereotypes of East Asian female sexualities. Featuring works from international photographers, the book focuses on East Asian women with the aim of deconstructing western notions and shifting perceptions.

EXIST TO RESIST Matthew Smith youthclubarchive.com

GABBA TEE gabbereleganza.bigcartel.co €20

It has been a long time since UK rave carved out history in fields, unlicensed warehouses and pirate radio broadcasts, but its legacy continues to impact today’s culture. Exist To Resist tells the unique story of British DIY protest and rave culture between 1989 and 1997, capturing the power of an era when dance music represented a potent counterculture.

From the goofy underground music jokes of Turbo Island to Sports Banger’s randomly politicised brand hijacks, recent years have proven that dumb-but-fun tees are cooler than they’ve ever been. Alberto Guerrini is a Milan-based gabber enthusiast who runs the Gabber Eleganza Tumblr page. Now he’s spliced his favourite genre with the trashiest clothing trend of the 90s. Fuck it, why not?

LIAM HODGES X FIL A £100

PAMTASM P.A.M x Facetasm perksandmini.com TBA

Inspired by the Italian brand’s first creative director Pierluigi Rolano, Liam Hodges reimagined Fila’s iconic ‘Original Fitness’ trainer – which has been with the sports brand since 1987 – in varying shades of suede. A “mad texture” has been added to the original design, complete with Hodges and FILA’s collaborative dual branding.

REVIEWS

Australian lifestyle brand Perks And Mini (P.A.M) has teamed up with Japanese brand Facetasm for a capsule collection, and central to this partnership is the tome PAMTASM. The conceptual book follows the format of a flipbook, and features the bold and vibrant work from eight international artists. A series of faces, inspired by FACETASM and Janus – the ancient Roman two-faced God of the past and future, has been designed for the collaborative book.


FOO FIGHTERS • MUMFORD & SONS

THE XX • HARDWELL • BEATSTEAKS

MARTERIA • ANNENMAYKANTEREIT • CRO MARSHMELLO • TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB LONDON GRAMMAR • GEORGE EZRA GALANTIS • RUDIMENTAL • METRONOMY MICHAEL KIWANUKA • OLIVER HELDENS • WANDA YELLOW CLAW • DJANGO DJANGO • KUNGS WESTBAM • BOMBA ESTÉREO • THE VACCINES • BEAR’S DEN THE HEAD AND THE HEART • ROOSEVELT • MARTIN JENSEN ANNE-MARIE • THOMAS JACK • LGOONY & CRACK IGNAZ PHANTOGRAM • AMINÉ • ALMA • SIGRID • MIKE PERRY FILOUS • NGHTMRE • DRUNKEN MASTERS • BETSY ALICE MERTON • THE HIM • SAINT WKND • MEUTE INFO & TICKETS: LOLLAPALOOZADE.COM VISIT US:

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092

Crossword Across 2. Nirvana 4. The sound of the U S of A, baby 5. After the wedding it's the... 7. Body of water, calm 9. Mario; Pong; Sims Down 1. Living boundlessly 3. Brooding young woman 6. Don't let her be misunderstood 8. Pop's dreamiest, fka Lizzy Grant

Answers Across: Paradise, Americana, Honeymoon, Lake Placid, Video Games Down: Lust for Life, Sad Girl, Nina Simone, Lana Del Rey

Self Portrait WIKI

Killer Mike or Dick Van Dyke Who said it, the RTJ rapper or the Diagnosis:Murder star? 1) “I’ve made peace with insecurity… because there is no security of any kind.” 2) "Even when I had very little money, I liked to dress as if I did." 3) "I'll always push for what I believe in. That's what you're supposed to do." 4) “I decided, when I started having kids, that I’d try not to do anything that I wouldn’t be proud for them to see." 5) "The futile and exhausting existence of a purgatory-like law enforcement system."

Answers: 1) Van Dyke 2) Van Dyke 3) Mike 4) Van Dyke 5) Mike 6) Mike

DIGRESSIONS

6) "Ronald Reagan was an actor"


093

Difference

This month's artist takeover was created by @csbrazier, who was responding to the word 'Difference'.

If you're interested in contributing to this series, please email artsubmissions@crackmagazine.net


095

Turning Points: Shabazz Palaces’ Ishmael Butler

Words: Theo Kotz

“I'm an observer from another place, or another realm”

Early Years: Seattle to New York Living in Seattle when I came up, a lot of people moved up to Washington State from the South, so it was kinda like living in a Southern city: blackled, very familial, very tight-knit. But everybody that came up here had a very explorative mind and personality. It fostered an environment that I was able to flourish in. Thanks to my mom Barbara and my pop Reginald, I never

saw myself in relationship to whiteness. I was able to look at human beings on an equal level and not feel like I had to recognise some hierarchy, and that in turn freed me up to feel like anything was possible. I went to college in Massachusetts, and then I left and went to New York in pursuit of music. 1993: Releasing debut Digable Planets LP Reachin’ Back in those days cats would run up and down the coast like, go to DC for the Howard [University] Homecoming, go to New York for the West Indian parade and all kind of shit. So I would see the guys from Digable Planets in different places all the time and we ended up drawn to each other and started making music. It wasn’t until I started working at Sleeping Bag Records [in New York] that I met a dude that had a studio. It was rare man, like the amount of people that you know who have a Rolls Royce? That’s how many had a studio. Then when we released the album it was so fast, every day a new surprise, every day a new dream realised, like surfing on the crest of a wave that you're just trying to stay on. You couldn’t believe the view from up there. 1995: Second Digable Planets album Blowout Comb and subsequent split People always took a reaction to

Digable as being other than NWA or other than regular black music. I didn’t feel that it was, we weren’t from any place other than where everybody else was from. So I think that record was trying to put an exclamation point on that fact. Then we moved apart and wanted to do different things. The industry is funny and you’re young. Early 20s man, cats move in and out of stuff fast. People said we should have stayed in the group but it's like: ‘why?’ We did our thing. 1997-Late Noughties: Moving back to Seattle, forming Shabazz Palaces I moved back to Seattle from New York because my mother got sick. I was glad that I came back and I was here, it was bittersweet, but there's some destiny in that too. Then later myself and Tendai was living close to each other, he knew my girl at that time. I was still making music but I didn't really tell nobody, I had figured that my time had come and gone. Then Tendai was saying to me, "Why you not making music?”. He was the catalyst. I've always liked to be a member of a group, so I said: "Yo, let’s do it together." 2009: Signing with Sub Pop We had released a few EPs that were popping in the city. People knew who we were. Sub Pop being the city label, they was cool with it so we ended up

getting on. [In 2013[ I became an A&R, I think they liked my musical taste and thought that I could bring some valuable recommendations. You should check out this brother Yuno out of Florida, he’s cold. 2017: Releasing two albums with Shabazz Palaces Like all of my musical ideas, Quazarz come to me from someplace that I can’t really put my finger on. When i recorded the first album [Born On A Gangster Star], I started thinking about Donald Trump’s stance on what he calls ‘illegal aliens’ – what being an alien in this country. I started to feel like I myself was an alien being a black man born in America – I'm from a land that is not home. I'm an observer from another place, or another realm. It slowly developed over the course of recording it. It's still developing now. Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs The Jealous Machines are released 14 July via Sub Pop

MUSIC

Back in 1987, Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Mary Anne “Ladybug Mecca” Viera and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving came together to form Digable Planets, eventually moving into the hotbed of black artistry that was New York in the early 90s. With their laid-back, jazzy style of hip-hop, the group earned worldwide acclaim and success, particularly for the Grammy-winning single Rebirth Of Slick. Despite flattering reviews, their second album Blowout Comb failed to replicate its predecessor’s commercial clout, and the group split soon thereafter. Years later, Bulter and multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire formed the psychedelic group Shabazz Palaces. Ahead of the simultaneous release of the third and fourth Shabazz Palaces LPs: Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs The Jealous Machines, we caught up with Butler while he cruising around his hometown of Seattle.


097

20 Questions: Shaun Ryder

“Of course the Happy Mondays touted our own gigs. You’ve got to make money somehow”

Words: Davy Reed

What’s your favourite video game? I don’t play video games mate. I don’t know many 55-year-olds who play video games, do you? But I did a character on the first Grand Theft Auto. So that’s my favourite. Remind me – was that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? Yeah, was that the first one? I was Macca in that. I can’t play it, but my kids play it. What was the first record you fell in love with? Beatles for Sale. Who’s your favourite Wu-Tang Clan member? The dude, what’s he called… At the

middle you’ve got me right in the middle of my thyroid blow up. I don’t have a thyroid, it’s completely vanished. And when it goes up the wall, the first thing that goes is my memory… But ah dude, fucking hell, he played Cheese in The Wire? Method Man. Method Man, that’s it! What was the name of your first ever band? No Exit. That’s not so bad. Nah it’s shit. It’s worse than The Happy Mondays! Who’s the most famous person you've ever met Probably McCartney, or Keith Richards. What would be your Desert Island Drug? Valium. It’s fucking great, but I can’t touch it. If I was on a desert island valium would be really good for me, because if you give me valium it’s like I’m on 15 Es – really good MDMA Es. So the inhibition just goes. Valium, yeah. Stay chilled.

Have you ever been arrested? Once or twice. Have you ever had a nickname? X. I had it before Xzibit. But Terminator X is older than me. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I spent about three months stripping cupboards for a kitchen firm, and that was terrible. Shit. Horrible. While we’re on the subject, can you confirm or deny a rock ’n’ roll legend for me – did the Mondays really tout their own gigs? Oh yeah, of course. We touted our own gigs, sold drugs to the fucking punters, everything. There’s no money in music, we didn’t have jobs in McDonalds or working in bars. You’ve got to make money somehow. If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play? Back in the day I’d put some Barry White on or something. Barry White, a spliff and then ruin it when you get the coke out! If you could pick a surrogate grandparent, who would it be? Keith Richards and Britt Ekland would

be my surrogate grandparents. What’s your signature recipe? At the moment, I do spicy fish for my kids. Monkfish, haddock, trout. You name it. Is there a piece of advice you wish you’d give to yourself ten years ago? Oh good god… “Fucking wake up lad.” What’s your worst habit? Picking me toe nails, love it. Out of all the songs that you’ve recorded, which is your least favourite? I hate doing God’s Cop when we’re doing shows. You’ve got to get it really spot on, but when we don’t it bores the tits off me. What would you want written on your tombstone? “Here Lies a Fantastic Father” Black Grape’s new album Pop Voodoo is released via UMC on 4 August

MUSIC

Have you heard that Black Grape have got a new album coming out? Yeah, that’s right. Against the staggering odds, Shaun Ryder has reunited with Paul "Kermit" Leveridge to revive his post-Happy Mondays band for their first album in 20 years. No sign of Bez though. Ah well, Shaun seems chuffed. If you’re interested in the Mancunian legend’s thoughts on valium, spiced monkfish and Grand Theft Auto, then please continue reading.


Illustration: Ed Chambers

equality noun 1. the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.

Perspective: Standing up to the DUP With the UK’s General Election leading to a hung parliament in June, the controversial Democratic Unionist Party have gained political power and prominence in the media after being offered to form a coalition government with the Conservatives. Anna Cafolla is a London-based Northern Irish writer and a promoter for Room for Rebellion – an events series which raises money for pro-choice organisations. Here, she emphasises the danger of the DUP’s ideology, encouraging the UK to show more solidarity with the women of Northern Ireland. On 9 June, the UK entered a bizarre state of limbo following one of the biggest election upsets ever. The Conservatives lost their majority – testament to the power of the passionate, youthful movement that mobilised behind Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. But now, the electorate is at odds with a prospective agreement that could turn the clock back decades: a minority Tory government propped up by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party.

OPINION

I grew up in a town not far from Belfast, just as the Troubles ended. I lived most of my life in a DUP stronghold – Jim Shannon’s Strangford – where being a young Catholic-raised woman with more progressive views (like many my age) wasn’t easy. Having lived in London for a few years now, I’m used to people zoning out when I complain about home’s tribal politics.

It feels almost surreal that everyone’s paying attention to Northern Ireland again. So many people scrambled to finally educate themselves on the evangelical DUP, which has wreaked horrors on so many in NI, that they crashed the party’s website postelection day. I’m not afraid to admit that at first I was quite incredulous: now everyone suddenly cares when, for so long, activists and campaigners from home have been fighting the bigoted political system upheld by the DUP. Now, I can hope that the party will be tackled viciously on the world stage for the hatred that they spew. The DUP, founded in the 70s by a Protestant fundamentalist, has consistently upheld an anti-women, LGBT-hating, racist, hard-line Christian agenda that’s resisted the peace process, at the expense of the Northern Irish people’s human rights. Its party includes people who once mooed at women during an assembly session, who rolled out the shocking ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ campaign when they opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the 80s. In the contemporary sphere, the party has pushed the ‘conscience clause’ bill, which would have legalised discrimination against LGBT people and denyied them services for religious reasons. Former health minister Jim Wells was forced to resign after suggestions that LGBT parents were more likely to abuse their children. From its most senior members down, rhetoric surrounding queer people has ranged

from “an abomination”, “repulsive” and “disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, wicked and vile” to the argument that they “harm themselves and society”. Despite the fact support for marriage equality is growing in NI, the DUP continues to block it. Though anti-choice views are rife across political parties in Northern Ireland, the DUP describes itself as “unashamedly pro-life”, denying people the choice even in cases of rape or fatal foetal abnormalities. As the 1967 Abortion Act doesn’t extend there, people are forced to travel to access terminations in England and elsewhere – here, politicians show wilful ignorance. Today, women engage in court battles for procuring illegal but safe abortion pills – the DUP happily criminalise those who wish to control their own bodies and access integral healthcare. A recent Supreme court decision upheld that people in NI can’t receive NHS-funded abortions, and must pay for private treatment: at least 724 were forced to last year. It’s a move that was said to ‘respect’ local law, but highlights Westminster’s own disrespect and willingness to ignore those suffering. As a member of London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign and a promoter with Room for Rebellion – an events series which throws parties in London, Belfast and Dublin to raise money for the Abortion Support Network – I have seen how truly contemptuous people are towards reproductive rights. At the

same time, I’ve felt inspired by a real drive among progressively-minded people to campaign for body autonomy and free, safe and legal abortion access for all. The DUP creates a dangerous place for anyone that’s not a straight white Protestant man. On a more clownish spectrum, its members have scolded Rihanna for intending to pose while undressed in a Bangor field for the We Found Love video, and pushed creationism in schools. They work to frame the world as a place where it’s not OK to love who you want to love or be true to your own identity, where people have to cross a sea of protesters outside abortion providers – or an actual ocean – and put themselves at social, mental, financial risk for control over their own bodies. An agreement of any kind that would see the DUP and Tories unite would use minority and marginalised lives as political pawns. It would threaten peace as it’s known in NI. Whatever happens, we cannot allow a cold, anachronistic coalition of utter chaos. And if it fails, we must keep holding the DUP and those in power in Northern Ireland to account for how they continue to ravage human rights. Protest, talk, support the movements of brothers and sisters challenging establishments that are right there, across the water, seeking real change. @room4rebellion


discover the full lineup at clubtoclub.it

CRACK Issue 78  

Featuring Omar Souleyman, DJ Stingray, Jlin, Laurel Halo, Alex McCullough, Evian Christ, Royal Trux and much more

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