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+ PURITY RING WAXAHATCHEE EARTH JAM CITY SPECTRES AUTO ITALIA GIRLPOOL FUTURE BROWN

Ricardo Villalobos

L7 RUN THE JEWELS SIMON PRICE

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#RBMAUKTour


redbullmusicacademy.com/uktour #RBMAUKTour

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April Wednesday

A CONVERSATION WITH A$AP ROCKY

REBEL SOUND: THREE GENERATIONS OF SOUNDBOY

5pm @ St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London Lecture Hosted by Benji B

10pm @ Steelworks Show Rebel Sound: Chase & Status + Rage, David Rodigan, Shy FX. Congo Natty ft Congo Dubz, Jus Now (DJ set) featuring Serocee, Earl Gateshead

THE FUTURE SOUNDS OF HIP HOP

7pm @ The Garage

Show Pusha T, Little Simz, Jay Prince, Semtex

09 April Thursday

TROPICAL ROLLER DISCO

11 March Saturday

7pm @ York Hall Special Hosts On The Night: JME, Skepta, C4, Flowdan & Friends Djs On The Night: Preditah, Slimzee, Plastician, Logan Sama

10 April Friday

STUDIO SCIENCE: JULIO BASHMORE 6pm @ Red Bull Studios London Workshop The Bristol producer reveals the craft behind his trademark sound

4pm @ ArcelorMittal Orbit Live Broadcast

Deja Vu FM / Wayne Dlux & DJ Spooky Bizzle Fantasy FM / DJ Hype Freek FM / Jazzy D & DJ Laren Future FM / Terror Danjah Kiss FM / Norman Jay & Gordon Mac Kool FM / Eastman, Brockie, Mc Det Phase 1 / Fabio & Grooverider

0800 - R1NG 2 R4V3 10pm – venue TBA on the night Special A homage to the bygone era of illegal raves

DARK & LOVELY GLOBAL ROOTS

8pm @ KOKO Show Analogue Cops (live), Fantastic Man & DJ Noema (exclusive), We Are Shining, Afrikan Sciences (live, UK exclusive), Iman Omari (live), Blackfoot Phoenix, Thris Tian

RBMA RADIO: LIVE IN LONDON

12 April Sunday

BROOKLYN LOVE

4pm @ The Old Queens Head Club Night Wolf + Lamb (6hr Set), Kool Clap

T DANCE 2pm @ Shoreditch Town Hall Special Music: Joe Claussell, Prins Thomas, Zebra Katz, Honey Dijon, Poisonous Relationship, Dan Beaumont, Charlie Porter, Cedric Woo. Plus: Jonny Woo, A Man To Pet, John Sizzle, Roy Inc, Ted Rogers, Max Allen Daniel ‘Stevie Nicks’ Sallstrom, Benjamin Milan, David Magnifique, Michele Paleta & More.


"Fuck this. Let's go dance..."

secretsundaze THURSDAY APRIL 2ND - EASTER SPECIAL THE LAUNDRY / 10PM – 6AM

DJ QU · MOSCA · VIRGINIA JAMES PRIESTLEY · GILES SMITH SUNDAY 3RD MAY - 2015 OPENING PARTY PART 1 – OVAL SPACE / 1 – 10PM

FRED P · JOEY ANDERSON · JANE FITZ GILES SMITH · JAMES PRIESTLEY PART 2 – THE LAUNDRY / 10PM – 6AM

STERAC AKA STEVE RACHMAD PEVERELIST B2B KOWTON · LINKWOOD JAMES PRIESTLEY · GILES SMITH SUNDAY 24TH MAY - BANK HOLIDAY SPECIAL STUDIO338 / 2 – 10:30PM

VERY SPECIAL GUEST · DELANO SMITH JEREMY UNDERGROUND GILES SMITH · JAMES PRIESTLEY TICKETS:

secretsundaze.net


10

Find your flow.

Ableton.com


MAR. (2015) FOUNDATION

MINISTRY OF SOU ND

07.03 (2015 )

14.03 (2015 )

T HE BOX

T HE BOX

PAUL WOOLFOR D BOOK A SH A DE OC TAV E ONE PEDE ST R I A N

ER ICK MOR ILLO A LL NIGH T LONG

SAT UR DAY SE S SIONS

SAT UR DAY SE S SIONS

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SHI T ROBOT SE7E N CA PULET DOM TOW NSE ND

COPY PA ST E SOUL JOZIFF JOR DA N DOM TOW NSE ND

21.03 (2015 )

28.03 (2015 )

T HE BOX

T HE BOX

A M I NE EDGE & DA NCE SIRUS HOOD T HEE COOL CATS M EDEE W & CHICK S LU V US

DI M I T R I FROM PA R IS CHE Z DA M IER HOR SE M E AT DISCO

CUFF

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W W W. M I N I S T RYOF SOU N D.COM /C LU B M I N I S T RY OF SOU N D, 103 G AU N T S T R E E T, LON D ON , S E 1 6DP

RYA N BLY T H CLOUDED JUDGEM E N T SION K-L AGA NE

SAT UR DAY SE S SIONS

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COPY PA ST E SOUL DOM TOW NSE ND JOZIFF JOR DA N


Highlights Exhibitions Viviane Sassen: Pikin Slee 3 Feb 2015 – 12 Apr 2015 Lower Gallery

Dor Guez: The Sick Man of Europe 3 Feb 2015 – 12 Apr 2015 Upper Gallery

First Happenings: Adrian Henri in the ‘60s and ‘70s 27 Jan 2015 – 15 Mar 2015 Fox Reading Room

Ydessa Hendeles: From her wooden sleep...

Events Artist’s Talk: Viviane Sassen Wed 4 Mar, 6.30pm Culture Now: Ulay Fri 6 Mar, 1pm Looking Gift Horse in the Mouth: A Symposium on Hans Haacke Sat 7 Mar, 11.30am Artists’ Film Club: Christoph Schlingensief in “Crackle of Time” Sun 8 Mar, 1pm

25 Mar 2015 – 17 May 2015 ICA Theatre

Film

Pikin Slee Gallery Tour led by Simon Baker Thu 19 Mar, 6.30pm

Appropriate Behaviour, White God and The Duke of Burgundy Screening from 27 Feb

Symposium: The Copyists Fri 20 Mar, 12pm

BAFTA Shorts 6 Mar 2015 – 12 Mar 2015

Styled-Un-Styled: Workshop on Photography Sat 21 Mar, 10am Artists’ Film Club: Mathieu K Abonnenc Wed 25 Mar, 6.45pm

Talk Series: Where Theory Belongs: Ayesha Hameed Wed 11 Mar, 2pm

Talk Series: Where Theory Belongs: Sharon Kinsella Wed 25 Mar, 2pm

Symposium: Interior Design: Dead or Alive Sat 14 Mar, 11.15am

The Sick Man of Europe Gallery Tour led by Astrid Schmetterling Thu 26 Mar, 6.30pm

Misogyny: Witches and Wicked Bodies Wed 18 Mar, 3pm

Artist’s Talk: Parviz Tanavoli Fri 27 Mar, 6pm Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647, www.ica.org.uk

With a Q&A on 6 March

The Supreme Price + Q&A Tue 17 Mar, 8.15pm White Shadow + Q&A Thu 19 Mar, 8.30pm Cinemania: Time is Illmatic Wed 11 Mar, 4.30pm Chantal Akerman 18: Un divan à New York (A Couch in New York) Thu 12 Mar, 7pm Catalan Avant-Garde 28 Feb 2015 – 18 Dec 2015

Discover the fascinating physical and intellectual landscapes of Catalan cinema.

The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848


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Contents

20

AUTO ITALIA Geraint Davies exchanges emails with the fearless London art studio who assimilate the unsettling discourse of modern communication into hyperreal visions and ferocious satire

34

JAM CITY The avant-garde producer has turned his back on a chrome-plated realm of inspiration, crafting lullabies for a broken world. He talks power, love and resistance with Anna Tehabsim

30

PURITY RING James F. Thompson talks evocative lyrics and colourrich textures with the highly rated electronic pop duo

17

EDITORIAL ( (31*57)-13^3 ) /5 = - x -6^2

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RECOMMENDED Our guide to what’s coming up in your city

21

NEW MUSIC From the periphery

29

TURNING POINTS: L7 As the seminal all-female outfit prepare to reform, Anna Tehabsim talks pro choice, 90s grunge ubiquity and revealing yourself on live TV with lead singer Donita Sparks

RICARDO VILLALOBOS On the occasion of our half-century, Thomas Frost visits the Chilean master’s inner sanctum for a landmark insight into the world greatest living DJ

38

WAXAHATCHEE The profoundly talented songwriter describes the still solitude that allows her creativity to breath. By Suzie Mccracken

Shot exclusively for Crack by Alex de Mora Berlin: February 2015

43

SPECTRES “We will always be outsiders”: despite growing acclaim, the rising noise-rock outfit continue to shun wider acceptance

46

CONTORT Hayley and Sam Kerridge expand on the liberal approach behind their Berlin-born party-turned-label with Aine Devaney

55

GIRLPOOL The punchy LA duo deal in zero-bullshit misfit indie. They talk swerving definition with Sammy Jones

63

REVIEWS Gig reports, product reviews and our verdict on the latest releases in film and music

82

DIGRESSIONS Baines’ World, Sold Out! with Tegan & Sara, the crossword and advice from Denzil Schnifferman

85

20 QUESTIONS: EL-P The Run The Jewels rapper tells Davy Reed about his signature recipe, his hair style troubles and why he’s willing to overlook Gary Numan’s iffy politics

86

PERSPECTIVE Possible the most feared voice in rock journalism, the awardwinning critic assesses the chequered history of the person holding the notepad

22

32

EARTH A quarter of a decade ago Dylan Carlson formulated the blueprint which became drone metal. Fast-forward to today, and Tom Watson meets a man enjoying the most unlikely of renaissances

56

AESTHETIC: FUTURE BROWN Future Brown have garnered support from music, art and fashion worlds alike. Alice Jones talks to the production supergroup about the benefits of a streamlined vision


Music, Creativity & Technology www.sonar.es

Barcelona 18.19.20 June

the chemical brothers, skrillex, duran duran, die antwoord, fka twigs, flying lotus, róisín murphy, hot chip, jamie xx, arca & jesse kanda, autechre, siriusmodeselektor, fat freddy’s drop, kindness, laurent garnier, dubfire:live hybrid, totally enormous extinct dinosaurs, maya jane coles, pxxr gvng, evian christ, annie mac, cashmere cat, ktl, daniel avery, ten walls, henrik schwarz, the 2 bears, sophie, roman flügel, special request, lcc, holly herndon, the bug, ralph lawson, dorian concept, kiasmos, kate tempest, yung lean & sad boys, vessel, badbadnotgood, tourist, russell haswell, meneo, redinho, desert djs, mika vainio, lee gamble, helena hauff, niño, randomer, voices from the lake, powell, klara lewis, headbirds, mans o, sta and many more.

Get your tickets here: www.sonartickets.com an initiative of

in collaboration with

supported by

associated media

collaborating media

M

A

G

A

Z

I

N

E


07/03 Room 01

Craig Richards Magda Samu.l Room 02

MDR Marcel Dettmann Anthony Parasole Answer Code Request (Live)

14/03

21/03

Room 01

Craig Richards Praslesh (Raresh & Praslea) Voigtmann

Demo Te r r y Fr a n c i s Eddie Richards Oli Furness

Room 02

R&S Lone Space Dimension Controller (Live) Alex Smoke ALSO: Appleblim & Second Storey (Live)

Room 02

Te r r y Fr a n c i s Dave Clarke Rrose (Live) Room 03

Room 03

Room 01

Craig Richards Ben Klock Ryan Elliott

To i To i Audio Werner Voigtmann Lamache Andrew J Gustav

Room 03

4 Ye a r s o f N.o.N Music Te r r y Fr a n c i s Justin Drake The Pushamann

28/03 Room 01

Craig Richards Michael Mayer J o h n Te j a d a ( L i v e ) Shaun Soomro Room 02

Sushitech Daniel Bell Delano Smith To b i a s ( L i v e ) Yo s s i A m o y a l

04/04 Room 01

Tu s ke g e e Craig Richards S eth Trox l e r The Martinez Brothers Room 02

Te r r y Fr a n c i s Robert Hood Karenn (Live) Room 03

w w w. f a b r i c l o n d o n .c o m

Route 94 Jasper James

maR/aPR fabric


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Issue 50

Executive Editors Thomas Frost tom@crackmagazine.net Jake Applebee jake@crackmagazine.net Editor Geraint Davies geraint@crackmagazine.net Marketing / Events Manager Luke Sutton luke@crackmagazine.net Deputy Editor Davy Reed Junior Editor Anna Tehabsim Head Of Digital Content Billy Black Editorial Assistant Duncan Harrison Creative Director Jake Applebee Art Direction & Design Alfie Allen Design Graeme Bateman Intern Flora Symons Film Editor Tim Oxley Smith Art Editor Augustin Macellari Fashion Dexter Lander, Sam Rubenstein, Studio Maud, HannahRyan, Carhartt-WIP Contributors Josh Baines, Denzil Schniffermann, Tom Watson, Angus Harrison, James F. Thompson, Suzie McCracken, Sammy Jones, Aine Devaney, Simon Price, Xavier Boucherat, Adam Corner, Thomas Howells, Tamsyn Aurelio-Eros Black, Joe Goggins, Jon Clark, Calah Singleton, Henry Johns, Jack Lucas Dolan, Danny Nedelko, Billie MonnierStokes, Alex Briand, Jack Drummond Photography Alex de Mora, Roisin Murphy, Antonio Curcetti, Jonangelo Molinari, Stephanie Elizabeth Third, Theo Cottle, Dexter Lander, Aine Devaney, Danny Nedelko, Clare Sarson, Elliot Simpson, Khris Cowley, Alex Gwilliam Illustrations James Wilson Advertising To enquire about advertising and to request a media pack: advertising@crackmagazine.net 0117 2391219 CRACK is published by Crack Industries Ltd © All rights reserved. All material in Crack magazine may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of Crack Industries Ltd. Crack Magazine and its contributors cannot accept any liability for reader discontent arising from the editorial features. Crack Magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any article or material supplied for publication or to edit this material prior to publishing. Crack magazine cannot be held responsible for loss or damage to supplied materials. The opinions expressed or recommendations given in the magazine are the views of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of Crack Industries Ltd. We accept no liability for any misprints or mistakes and no responsibility can be taken for the contents of these pages.

DEADBOY It Did Not Feel Right

Crack’s hit a milestone. But listen, we don’t like to make a fuss. As the Editor recently proclaimed on the eve of his 30th birthday – please, I’d hate to make a fuss. But as a job lot of Prosecco descended on his head unannounced and he spied a clutch of unfamiliar faces he was fundamentally not expecting to see, he thought to himself, oh, OK then. Let’s make a fuss. And when the greatest living DJ, the microhouse progenitor, the minimal techno globaliser, the masterpiece creator and the night definer, the constantly befuddling percussive genius that is Ricardo Villalobos, invites you to spend the afternoon in his family home, after five years of nagging, you can’t help but cede; alright. Let’s make a fuss. So we’ll reluctantly agree, there’s something special about 50. The alchemy of digits coming together. It’s a magic number. It’s half a century, five times ten. Oh hey – it’s actually two times twenty-five too. And lest we forget that old nugget, eighty divided by two plus ten. Gives you goosebumps, doesn’t it? We’re being facetious, of course. There’s more to 50 than a number. It’s a golden – golden, like a compass or a medal, or a touch – anniversary. If you wanna send us a golden memento, our address is on the previous page (Richard Ross, we’re looking at you). It’s the number of states in the US, that must mean something. It’s the Roman numeral L. It’s the atomic number of Tin. Tin, no less! It’s the number of cents that Curtis Jackson III deemed worthy to adopt for his name. And god knows it’s worked for him. We’re still waiting for him to release his second single, but he’s famous as shit. And unless you’ve been buried under a soundproof tortoise for the last 50 days, you’ll know how many shades of grey it takes to make a morally bankrupt blockbuster. Clue – it’s not 60. Ah, we’re being facetious again. We can’t help it, there’s nothing worse than schmaltzy nostalgia. But as it goes, we’re incredibly proud that this issue, this landmark issue, has one of the all-time greats beaming out from its front page. So maybe 50’s pretty cool after all.

LA PRIEST Oino

Geraint Davies, Editor

HELENA HAUFF The First Time He Thought, He Died POWELL Sylvester Stallone CEREMONY Root Of The World PILE The World Is Your Motel BLANCK MASS Loam SIMON & GARFUNKEL Keep The Customer Satisfied NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS Jangling Jack MARCUS MARR Brown Sauce SEMTEK Bad Teeth TEI SHI Bassically

THE SOFT MOON Want CHRIS & COSEY Exotica VITA NOCTIS Hade ARTHUR RUSSELL Keeping Up KENDRICK LAMAR The Blacker The Berry MURLO Deep Breath ft. Gemma Dunleavy STARS OF THE LID Mullholland CHICAGO ART ENSEMBLE Certain Blacks MARCHING CHURCH King Of Songs KLEENEX Hedi’s Head L7 Wargasm HUDSON MOHAWKE Star Crackout TRUST FUND Jumper TREE Trap Genius MEEK MILL B Boy ft. Big Sean & A$AP Ferg H.GRIMACE Cavepainter TRUSS Clawdd Du METZ The Swimmer

Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

Respect Gaby Ritchie Göetz Gose Dresden Leitner Alex Jukes Lewis Lloyd Claude Barbè-Brown Louise Taziva Nindi  Aled Simons Leigh Evans


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Recommended

O ur g uid e t o w ha t 's g o ing o n in y o ur cit y

MODESELEK TOR Tobacco Dock 6 March

METZ 100 Club 3 March

BOOMTOWN FAIR Squarepusher, Surgeon, Amadou & Mariam Matterley Estate, Hampshire 13 - 16 August £155 + BF SQUAREPUSHER Barbican 18 March £25.50

DELROY EDWARDS Corsica Studios 4 March

Oh, Tom Jenkinson, where will it all end? The image of young Mr. Pusher looking up momentarily, breathless, eyes glazed, from a bass with so many strings we’d lost count before hurling himself into another bumblebee run of ludicrously technical nu-jazz widdling interspersed with hellish breaks and yelps of the ‘C’ word is a far-off memory. It’s now all a little more sci-fi. His ultrasensory 2012 A/V project Ufabulum saw Jenkinson go full computer man, and last year he actually, literally formed a band with a bunch of robots. This massive Barbican show will premiere his latest live iteration along with material from upcoming album Damogen Furies, the first taster from which, RAYC FIRE 2, is a stunningly confrontational block of 8-bit mentalism. Good luck.

BEN UFO fabric 6 March

If you like dressing up like a bit of a looney, revelling in elaborately-built temporary cities, jigging away to every type of music under the sun and feeling constantly over-stimulated every time you turn a corner then you might just find yourself a home-away-from-home in Boomtown. Since 2009 it’s grown from a well kept local secret to a cult institution that puts emphasis on ambience whilst catering to all musical tastes with a healthy smattering of imaginative art, theatre and comedy to keep that Boomtown magic alive.

POWELL Dance Tunnel 16 March

FB55 ICA 24 March - 17 May Free with Day Membership CONVERGENCE Andy Stott, Gazelle Twin, Zomby Various Venues, London 12-21 March Prices vary Back for its second year, Convergence is hosting a series of events across London that will showcase some of the most vital innovators in contemporary music in carefully curated settings. In venues such as Royal Festival Hall, Heaven, Village Underground, St John-at-Hackney Church and Kachette in Old Street, Convergence will include sets from Andy Stott, Clark, Andrew Weatherall, Pantha du Prince, Zomby, Tricky and revered Brighton experimentalist Gazelle Twin, while P-funk icon George Clinton will join Alex Petridis for a conversation at Amnesty International UK. Alongside these shows, there’ll be workshops, installations and discussions too, so if you don’t get one of these dates pencilled in, you’re having a nightmare.

JANE WE AVER The Lexington 29 March

HOOK WORMS Oval Space 21 March

In 1955 the ICA, at its previous Dover Street home, presented the first solo exhibition in the UK from one of history’s most fearless, controversial and emotionally jarring painters: Francis Bacon. It’s still an event shrouded in mystery and enigma, and little is known about the exhibition beyond its funding, courtesy of Bacon benefactor, ICA founder and the richest man in Britain at the time, Peter Watson. To the ICA’s eternal credit, they agreed to include a piece entitled Two Figures in the Grass, depicting two nude men engaged in sexual activity. At a time when homosexuality was illegal, it was a huge risk – police later decided the men were just having a nice wrestle. The Fox Reading Room is the location for this archival display of a hugely significant moment in the history of British art.

SECRETSUNDA ZE E ASTER SPECIAL The Laundry 2 April £9.50 + BF New Jersey deep house virtuoso DJ Qu has a similar take on music as his fellow Tri-State natives Levon Vincent and Joey Anderson. Emerging from their lineage of dark and dusty house, the master percussionist has carved a home for his complex rhythms through his own Strength Music Recordings. He brings his deep sound to James Priestley and Giles Smith’s institution Secretsundaze for their Easter bash. Residents Priestley and Smith as well as the unshakeable Mosca and Panorama Bar’s Virginia, whose own unique approach sees her adlib vocals over her set, join Qu for this bank holiday blow out.

TIME WARP FESTIVAL MANNHEIM Ricardo Villalobos, Rôdhåd, Magda Maimarkthalle, Mannheim 5 April €65 +BF Existing in various forms across the world for the last two decades, Time Warp is an institution. Taking place at the original site in Maimarkthalle, Mannheim, the 21st Time Warp event sees a mouth-watering selection of techno veterans Sven Väth, Richie Hawtin and our iconic cover star Ricardo Villalobos return alongside the likes of Magda, Carl Cox, Marco Carola, Laurent Garnier, Luciano, Loco Dice as well as techno elite Chris Liebing, Joseph Capriati, Pan-Pot, Rødhåd and more at the 19-hour event. With a sprawling line-up over various arenas, the annual mecca exceeds its gargantuan status yet again, sure to cater for techno fans of every ilk.


19

WEEDE ATER Underworld 8 March

VISION FORTUNE Ace Hotel 10 March

SLE ATER-KINNEY Roundhouse 23 March

ANDY STOT T Village Underground 13 March

JESSICA PR AT T St John On Bethnal Green 8 April £12.50 + BF MOURN Birthdays 14 March

K APPA FUTUR FESTIVAL Seth Troxler, Sven Väth, Solomun Turin, Italy 11-12 July Prices vary WOMEN, FASHION, POWER Design Museum Until 26 April From £9.30 Exploring the language of clothes and power, the Design Museum is hosting the most wide-ranging presentation of modern fashion ever to be shown in the UK. Studying 150 years of fashion through exclusive interviews and historic pieces of clothing, it offers an unprecedented look at how compelling and accomplished women such as Lady Gaga, Diane von Furstenberg and Dame Vivienne Westwood use fashion as a tool of self-expression, a display of confidence and an assertion of authority. Designed by worldrenowned architect Zaha Hadid and co-curated by fashion expert and commentator Colin McDowell and the Design Museum’s Donna Loveday, head down and gain some insight into how princesses, models, CEOs, Dames and designers have used fashion to define their position in the world.

After making trips to Turin for Movement festival as well as Club to Club last year, Crack can confirm that the city’s credible electronic music events attract impressively large crowds of enthusiastic, clued-up clubbers. Last year, Kappa Futur festival pulled together a line-up that included Omar-S, Tale of Us and Mano Le Tough, and so far the event has confirmed the likes of Sven Väth, Seth Troxler, Solomun, Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock to play sets in the festival’s remarkable venue: an enormous post-industrial complex in the Parco Dora park. A huge weekend to be had here.

WE HAVE AN ANCHOR Barbican 31 March

MOTOR CIT Y DRUM ENSEMBLE Oval Space 14 March K ARENN (LIVE) fabric 4 April £17 Early Bird / £23 OTD

HOTFLUSH The Steelyard 28 March

THE GARDEN 100 Club 19 March

SASHA SIEM The Lexington 25 March

JOHN TAL ABOT Brixton Electric 2 April

We think it’s a bit unfair that Jessica Pratt is constantly lumped in alongside the likes of Joanna Newsome under the freak folk banner. Then again Jessica Pratt’s haunting, experimental brand of folk is actually kind of … freaky. Her whispering, bucolic voice and wandering guitar picking underpin unhinged lyricism and sometimes unsettling melodies. We love a challenge though and when it’s executed with as much class and beauty as this, there’s no point even trying to resist.

Blawan and Pariah’s analogue techno taskforce have been pretty quiet of late, but we still remember sitting in awe watching their searing Boiler Room set; Pariah a vision of heads-down focus, Blawan puffing on rollies and chugging back cans of Stripe like his life depended on it. It was the coolest shit ever. Their rough’n’ready hardware assault in Room 2 represents the stillflourishing newish wave of beefy, grainy British tech, while the bill is topped off by fully-fledgedpreacher-man-cum-minimalGodfather Robert Hood, and a certain Seth Troxler plies his wares in Room 1. A pitch-perfect coming together of new and old schools at the best club in the country.

PR AYER / IYDES / FOREVERFOREVER Rye Wax 3 April

STANDON CALLING Little Dragon, The Dandy Warhols, The Antlers Standon, Hertfordshire 31 July - 2 August £127 - £137 + BF As the story goes, Standon Calling started out with a couple of dozen friends, a pair of decks, a barbecue and a swimming pool. Look at them now: 10 years on, tens of thousands of devoted attendees, worldrenowned headliners – and a swimming pool. They’ve pulled out all the stops for a decade in the game, with guaranteed crowd-pleasers like Basement Jaxx, The Dandy Warhols, and our favourite slippery synth Swedes, Little Dragon. A little further down the bill standouts include the gorgeous widescreen chamber indie of The Antlers and nu-disco starlets Hercules and Love Affair. Out-Standon!!! Haha jk.


21

New Music

DARLENE SHRUGG Garage rock can get stale pretty quick, but as long as it’s done well it’s alright with us. With a healthy dose of candy floss psychedelia, Darlene Shrugg do it very well indeed. The Canadian band have been tearing it up around their native Toronto for a short while and when they came to our attention recently we were instantly enamoured by their acid washed take on garage rock. That’s not all though, they also feature members of Tropics, U.S Girls and Ice Cream so in a sense, they’re the Audioslave of Canadian garage punk. Make of that what you will.

O Freedom Comes In A Plastic Card 1 Thee Oh Sees / Allah Las : darleneshrugg.bandcamp.com

KALI UCHIS

GHOST BATH Move over Norway, shove off Finland; prepare yourselves for the new wave of Chinese black metal. Well, probably not, but Ghost Bath are a Chinese black metal band and they’re pretty awesome. They released their first EP back in 2013 and slipped under our radar back then but we’re not letting them get away so easily this time. Their latest album Moon Lover is a melodic, ambient black metal masterpiece that shimmers and horrifies in equal measures; a grimly symphonic, swelling blanket of noise, hardhammered double pedal cacophony and hyperspeed tremelo-picking that could rival any of their competitors across the rest of the globe.

O Golden Number

GABI Daniel Lopatin’s work on the debut album from GABI will certainly open ears to a sound that many might have otherwise missed. The latest addition to Lopatin’s Software roster, operatic powerhouse Gabrielle Herbst began formal training at an early age, learning the clarinet and piano as well as studying Balinese dance and gamelan in Indonesia. Herbst premiered her own opera, Bodiless, in 2014, and now she extends her art-pop-opera hybrid into a series of intimate vocalcentric compositions for Software. Debut album Sympathy is a soft tangle of crystalline elements, piano, violin, viola and her own velveteen voice, with additional production from Lopatin and Paul Corley who has worked with Tim Hecker and Ben Frost. A series of operatic vocal loops and grandiose, elevated bliss is far removed from sounds associated with these artists, but maintains their dexterity for intimacy and space.

O Fleece 1 Björk / Julianna Barwick : @GabrielleHerbst

:

1 Deafheaven / This Will Destroy You facebook.com/blackghostbath

Things are going seriously well for the Colombian-born, LA-based artist Kali Uchis. Although she’s fresh enough to be featured in this very New Music section, she’s already clocked in studio sessions with the likes of of Snoop Dogg, Dâm-Funk and Tyler, The Creator, the latter of whom has enthusiastically contributed beats to her new Por Vida EP alongside Kaytranada and in-demand Toronto musicians Badbadnotgood. While Uchis’ lo-fi but colourful debut 2013 mixtape Drunken Babble saw her talk-rap in a nonchalantly cool manner over self-produced GarageBand beats and adventurous samples, Por Vida soaks up warm vintage soul and doo-wop influences. So what inspired the retro aesthetic? “I felt the 60s were a very real time, when social norms finally began to decay and people started to become more open-minded,” Uchis tells us. “Love and freedom have always been main inspirational points for me and the 60s and 70s very much reflected that. I naturally found meaning in that time period’s culture, especially in music and fashion.” A style icon in the making, we ask Uchis which women have inspired her look, and her reference points are basically impeccable: Bridgette Bardot, Jackie Burkhart, Shelly Duvall, Edie Sedgwick and Hilary Banks. Yes, Hilary Banks as in the The Fresh Prince’s sister. But while major labels have been inevitably knocking at the door, the staunchly independent Kali Uchis wants to remain in control for the time being. She’s keen to avoid being moulded into a stereotype by the industry, and her outsider perspective may have been shaped by her formative years. “It was easy to be an outcast in both [the US and Columbia] for me. They used to make graffiti threats on our house and harass me every day. By the time I was a teenager I had already moved to Virginia. I didn't mind standing out because even though people made fun of me a lot, I would rather have got made fun of than blended in.” If Kali Uchis wants to monetise the hype in 2015, we expect there’s lucrative offers on the table. But how does she personally define ‘success’? “There would be nothing more rewarding to me than to have a positive influence on society on a massive scale, to where my work was able to live physically longer than me,” comes her reply. “I would define success as being able to continue shaping the world after my death.”

O Lottery 1 Mary Wells / Amy Winehouse : @kaliuchis

Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

CATTLE

LOTIC

Cattle are, or at least appear to be, a band from Leeds with really great, kinda creepy artwork. It’s actually hard to glean any kind of tangible information about them apart from that so we’ll just have to talk about their music instead. They make a racket, first and foremost, that’s punk in its delivery but also complex. It’s wild. It builds, it sputters, there’s clunky bass parts and screams that sound like they’ve been rocketed from the other side of a bloody massive warehouse. It’s all very mysterious but we can’t help but blurt out sensationalist hyperbole every time their stuff comes on in the office.

Tri Angle were joined by a very special guest on their Rinse FM show last month. As Björk rolled her r’s through the label’s rrresidency on the former London pirate, she closed out with Lotic’s crushing remix of orchestral Vulnicura track NotGet. The Berlin-based Texan, who established his DJing and production talents across small Berlin venues at GHE20 GOTH1Kesque party Janus, has transformed the original’s woeful melodies while maintaining its devastating sense of urgency with piercing drones, shattering glass and shrieking synths. Sometimes glistening, an overall sense of foreboding prevails. There’s more where this comes from on Lotic’s debut Tri Angle EP, out this month. As it scuttles through various deformities, the shuddering rhythms on title track Heterocetera snake around a sample of Masters At Work’s The Ha Dance – one of the staple sounds of New York ballroom culture. It showcases the rising producer’s excellent harnessing of contrast, between hard and soft, tough and sweet, tension and release.

O Whoa Bessie 1 Shellac / Melvins : cattle.bandcamp.com

O Heterocetera 1 Total Freedom / Arca : @_LOTIC

O Listen 1 File Next To : Online


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For two decades Ricardo Villalobos has played and created records that have consistently re-aligned the spectrum of electronic music. In recent years he’s rarely spoken about it. On a bleary February afternoon, arguably the greatest living DJ/producer invited us into his Berlin home


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Words: Thomas Frost Photography: Alex de Mora


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Ricardo Villalobos makes a point of seldom opening up to the press – never mind welcoming them into his inner domain. Crack’s attempts to ensnare the Chilean techno deity date back to the magazine’s formative stages. My first meeting with him was an hour of bright, loose-lipped conversation at an after-hours party on a Croatian beach, a personal email exchange (I took his wife’s address as he has no email account of his own) hastily typed on an iPhone, then promptly lost on a Berlin subway. Numerous subsequent attempts proved fruitless, so as I touch down in the German capital there’s the sense that this one has been years in the making. Merely setting foot in the Villalobos residence, situated in an annexed pocket of residential serenity in Kreuzberg, gives a sense of accomplishment. “Your face does look familiar,” he mentions, when I remind him that we’ve met previously. “I remember, they were like ‘Ricardo, do you want to play?’ and I was like ‘yeah’ – but all the records were bending in the heat. Damian Lazarus was playing and the records were warping, it was so hot.” That after-hours scenario is a stark contrast to the homely setting of our interview. The cushioned top floor of his immaculately decorated, three-storey detached apartment is far removed from the party animal image the dance music media peddle so frequently. The smell of bushweed fills the house and there’s a serenity to be found among the floor-to-ceiling windows, while a colossal sound system playing choral music provides the sonic backdrop to our time together. There is instrumentation in the form of a piano and bongos, and evidence of children playing everywhere, not least in the swathe of green space at the front of the house. Villalobos has two, aged five and seven. This feels like a place for family, and this is a different man. Nestling into a floor littered with cushions, we begin our exchange, appropriately, on the subject of interviews. “Giving interviews is not a form of communication in which I work,” he asserts in his easily identifiable German accent, delivered with a zeal and a rhythm with betrays his Latin American roots. “Talking about music is good, but in general music is what I do, it is the basic communication form I have. After many years you realise in interviews the questions are very similar and the answers you give are also very similar. So why do an interview if the public already have the answers?  “Secondly, I have a problem with the press and journalism in general,” he continues. “Journalism is a department of a much

wider industrial thing, in general the media is negative and the information they supply is negative. When journalists talk about music or the social phenomena of parties and what is happening there, it is only positive journalism that helps the people to understand why it is good. But writing something negative about music or art in itself – I detest this.” Villalobos pauses here. There is a drama to his delivery. “The power of negative information is too strong, so I prefer the life reception of music, selling records, on vinyl, to special dedicated people who spend 10 Euros for a piece of music that guarantees every artist and every person involved with the process gets paid.” Villalobos is a scarred man. The internet and amateur message board journalism have not been kind to him. Unflattering photographs and Facebook posts littered with conjuncture and speculation on his personality have left him inherently suspicious of the digital world. A rare anachronism, a creature out of time, his music is presented on vinyl, he “doesn’t do the internet” and lives a life of simple values. For someone often perceived as a wild, even out of control, character, the overwhelming impression garnered from our conversations is a commitment to protecting the more traditional variables that make his world, and his work, function.


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“When music connects people, whatever the music, it has a strong healing influence on society”

“I stopped getting digital promos an age ago because when I did, I was getting 400 in one go. I was missing the good music, so I said “no.” Then my email got hijacked by these guys in London. They wanted money from my wife and started sending mails to my friends saying things like, ‘It’s me, Ricardo, I’m in London, I lost my mind, can you send me some money?’ So I don’t have an email anymore. “The internet is a monster, it’s an uncontrollable monster. Of course it has positive effects, but it can also be so negative and I think the negative parts of the internet have more power than the positive parts. The music I receive and play and also the people I exchange my music with is 10 to 15 people around me who are exactly as dedicated to music as me. They are dedicated DJs or dedicated producers or both. The Romanians [Rhadoo, Pedro, Raresh], Dorian [Paic], and Zippy [Zip] of course. We share four studios behind the Berghain.” He smiles. “It’s a boys’ studio.” The studio in question was the original destination for our interview, but there was good reason why the venue switched at the last minute. “No one has cleaned the toilet!” Villalobos exclaims. “I would have been so ashamed to invite you as it’s not my turn to clean it. So I was like, I cannot invite the guys here to make the interview. The absence of girls there is horrible. It’s like Lord Of the Flies.” This studio is a microcosm of Ricardo’s position within the wider musical community; he rarely wavers from his tight group of allies, kindred spirits and trusted accomplices. The connections he has established with clubs and labels reads like a roll-call of credible European techno, and his passion is heightened when recounting the kind of personal relationships that have not just ensured his success, but have ensured the product he has presented over the years is free of compromise. “My life has to have less confrontation, less conflict and be more harmonious, as it makes everything more fertile, especially my relationship with the people and my surroundings, my family and the people I am connected with when I am working” he says. “The people in the scene that survive 10 or 20 years, and people who run certain labels for that period of time and certain DJs; these people are really

not following the hype and they have a real connection with their surroundings. They are all members of a social net and this social net is the soul of every party, the soul of the musical movement and the soul of selling records to dedicated people who have a turntable and are prepared to pay this money, even though they can get everything for free.” Frequently, Villalobos uses the act of purchasing vinyl and placing it on your turntable as a metaphor for a respect for musicians and musical culture. There is vinyl on the shelves, vinyl on the floor and an old gramophone in his kitchen. The physicality of the format reflects a participation in the music world as a growing, breathing, mutually-beneficial organism. “All my friends and all the people I am dealing with worldwide belong to this musical, social movement that guarantees the parties and the quality” he continues. “So if anyone who belongs to this group is having a problem they are caught by their surroundings, helped, and they survive. An example of this is a very long and strong relationship with Time Warp. I met Steffen Charles when I was working with a distributor and was carrying around records while he was buying records for his shop. So I’ve known him for 22 years and I’ve been playing for 15 years at his Time Warp party. It’s a very important social update for the scene and your colleagues.” Villalobos talks about the mythologised ‘party’ frequently and fervently. The party is framed as a social institution that brings music, culture, people and identity under an umbrella heading. In Villalobos’s case the party fuel is the social experience, and if “social facilitators,” as he’s previously described them, play a part in the positive connection then so be it. It’s his ability to tap into a collective consciousness, to connect with thousands of people in one single moment, which have made him one of the greatest proponents to ever do what he does. And the party is inexorably positioned at the centre. “I am concerned about playing and having a good time with my friends at a party with a lot of happy people, where we all have a feeling of togetherness. And then we go home, and if you entered with some problems, hopefully you left feeling at least slightly healed. This is the effect the club scene and the electronic music scene has


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on me. This is the only thing I am interested in. All the other things are not so important. “The social net around you should also catch you if you are not having success and not working properly, or if someone is being portrayed in disgrace in the eyes of the media and falling down in his DJ career. Or if people are saying he does too many drugs and will die soon!” He laughs, his hands motioning to the sky as if dismissing the fantasy. “In general, the safest people are the ones inside the net because no one can take or tear this net apart. Even the government, or other parties with economic interests in making parties and selling drinks can’t destroy it, because it’s like a bubble. Our scene is a wonderful scene that is co-existent to normal society. We are not bothering them, most of the people after the weekend go to work and lead a normal life. If the party has good expression, people will come again, if they don’t come again maybe I’m not so necessary next time. If they do come again maybe I am necessary to the party, but for the right reasons. Not because of promotion and interviews and being everywhere in the media. Promotion is essentially a lack of talent or attraction.” Herein lies the crux of the reverence bestowed by legions of fans on Villalobos. Whether it’s in the middle of an eighthour set in fabric’s main room (a club he describes as being run by “really wonderful people who put in a lot of dedication to the party happening, often at a big risk”), or at Sonar, or The Robert Johnson, or any electronic music institution where the sound system is paramount, the wild experimental dexterity of peak-time Ricardo Villalobos sets him totally apart from the pack. The number of risks he takes has become the most enduring feature of his legacy and his most celebrated facet, not just of his DJ career but also his production work. Creator of some of the most ambitious and outright bizarre electronic constructions of the last 20 years, his latest work can only be heard at the party on weekends, and his physical releases are frequent and confounding in both length and form. This field of ambition has proved crucial to his survival. While detractors have held him up as minimal techno’s foremost purveyor, when the genre became something of a dirty word – shorthand for posing, wearing sunglasses in dark rooms and horse tranquilliser – Villalobos was already reaching far beyond the genre’s rather shaky roots. His 2003 debut album Alcachofa remains the genre’s masterpiece, spawning the majestic, polyrhythmic Easy Lee and the achingly melancholic refrains of Dexter. Though these were the show ponies, a 19-minute remix of Shackleton’s

Blood On My Hands – a dystopian ode to 9/11 – remains one of the most affecting pieces of abstract techno ever released and cemented him as a superstar outside the booth. Two more full album releases, a mix CD for fabric that was essentially an artist album, a reinterpretation of a classical record with collaborator Max Loderbauer and a slew of EP releases with tracks that frequently check in between 12 and 30 minutes, as well as over 100 remixes to his name have proven Villalobos to be something of a studio addict. Even as we sit talking, he feels pangs of guilt about missing studio time. “I protect my time, so today for example I need to go into the studio. When I found out I had an interview I was like ‘no, no!’” He laughs, but there’s no doubt he means it. “Even having an interview is not protecting my time and space for producing or listening to music.”    The careful division of time between the trinity of the home, the studio and the party is an issue of profound important for Villalobos, but time management is also a key feature of his professional work, namely in the comparative elongation his tracks. As the minutes and the phases build, length and repetition become instruments in themselves. “If the track hypnotises me so well, I forget the time,” he says. “Even if the music is half an hour in, it was probably worth it, so I stop the recording. If a track is shorter, it’s because everything was done and all the mixtures, the frequencies, the claps, the bass drums, basslines are complete, so we can also stop the recording. But as far as the length of my tracks are concerned, I’m not guilty for that. I’ve done several remixes and productions and handed them over to the person in question in their raw version which are say between 10, 30, 40, 50 minutes long – but it’s not my fault, I’m just giving them the track and if they want they can cut, cut, cut! I much prefer other people doing the edits, because for me it’s really difficult.”  It’s a pattern adhered to in recent remixes of Insanlar’s Kime Ne and his own Voodog. Each a two-part release due to the fulllength of both pieces reaching over half an hour, they boasted those typical Villalobos traits of percussive strains and warped vocal abstractions. But though his own musical connections are built on more esoteric leanings, on organic percussion mutated and elongated into infinity, it’s the connection itself which is key. If people are being harmoniously brought together under the banner of music, then why should it matter what that music is?

“When journalists talk about the social phenomena of parties, it is only positive journalism that helps the people to understand why it is good. Writing something negative about music or art in itself – I detest this”


“I can’t condemn EDM or cheesy pop music if the people democratically decided that’s what they want,” he declares. “It belongs to them. When music connects people, whatever the music, it has a really strong healing influence on society because it connects their interests. People who have the same interests do not go to war and kill each other. It’s hard to kill someone when you share similar values.” That said, his mood turns when discussing why he doesn’t play in America, and particularly his feelings towards Burning Man. “I would go, but there are millions of parties between here and Burning Man,” Villalobos stresses. “I’m not going because I have my Burning Man every weekend, and I’m not going there to share with people that have millions of pounds in their account and invent a system to share things for 10 days, but in normal life they don’t care about anyone.” After our serene start the interview ends on a spiky note. Where there is disorder and disquiet Villalobos is seemingly at his most vulnerable – though one suspects if he did find himself at the heart of Burning Man, he’d probably be the first on the Playa. The themes of order, discipline and structure away from the public eye remain the most potent variable during our time together. There is an incredible resilience against anything severing the systems he has in place that have provided him with so much success, whether that be his home life, his studio life or his party life. Balance is of singular importance. He is dependent on little, but serenely happy. As our conversation winds to a close we’re interrupted by a professional speaker technician, invited round to tinker with that insanely impressive system. As asides go, nothing could feel like a more apt. I happily make way. In this world and in the mind of Villalobos the DJ and producer lies a musical imagination that hasn’t just re-shaped what’s possible within the parameters of techno, but in the history of music. He remains utterly unique, so free of modern day restraints that he doesn’t even understand the concept of compromise. He should be treasured as a true musical visionary of our time. Ricardo Villalobos headlines Time Warp Mannheim, 5-6 April, and Sonus Festival, Croatia, 16-20 August


CHEATAHS

OSCAR

GIRLPOOL

12" – OUT NOW

7" – OUT NOW

7" – 23rd MARCH

SUNNE EP

The Times: “a giant leap forward... a brighter, poppier sound, boosted by satisfying blasts of distortion.” Nme: “a grotty, grubby and exciting refining of Cheatahs’ sound”

DAFFODIL DAYS

CHINATOWN

The Wichita debut for a new signing we are very excited about.

NPR: “When Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker harmonize, it’s like a lightning bolt to the gut”

The Fader: “a swelling indie rock pick-me-up” diY: “a serious melody maker”

The 405: “The promise of more to come from Girlpool is irresistible”

HAPPY 50tH CRACK! here’s to many more g r e at i s s U e s . t h a n K yo U F o r t h e s U P P o r t o F w i c h i ta a r t i s t s .

WAXAHATCHEE

TOTAL BABES

LP / CD – 6th APRIL

LP / CD – 19th MAY

IVY TRIPP

The third Waxahatchee album is the sound of an artist truly coming into her own. Katie Crutchfield continues to write songs with the honesty and intimacy of her lauded previous work, now delivering them with a new level of confidence and power.

HEYDAYS

The sophomore album from a band which features members of Cloud Nothings, Emeralds, Cruelster and Swindlella. Totally tuneful, punky indie rock with a wonderfully twisted edge.

all releases a l s o ava i l a b l e d i g i ta l ly W e h av e s o m u c h m o r e fa n ta s t i c m u s i c to t e l l yo u a b o u t t h i s y e a r … Watc h t h i s s pac e …

w w w.w i c h i ta - r e c o r d i n g s .c o m


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After 16 years of touring their rebellious grunge punk, L7 ground to a halt in 2001. By this point they were notorious for more than their music; in their 90s heyday the band – consisting of Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Jennifer Finch and Demetra Plakas – were renowned for their raucous live shows, political activism and prochoice campaigning. Currently enjoying a surge of enthusiasm from fans, the band will play their first live dates in 14 years alongside the release of a crowd-sourced documentary entitled L7: Pretend We’re Dead. We spoke to Sparks about the band’s forthcoming reformation and the moments that shaped her fabled career. 1985: Forming the band I moved to LA at 19 and met Suzie Gardner through my job at LA Weekly, she was playing the kind of music that I wanted to play – distorted guitar and tough rock and roll, and I added my hookier side. They were rough times. We had no money, and Suzie and I struggled a lot just keeping the band together. At the time I found LA to be a borderline misogynistic town, especially in the rock world. Guys who wanted to play hard rock didn’t want to be playing with chicks. Our first drummer was a guy, he eventually got kicked out of the band for calling us cunts and bitches and not wanting to play a gay bar. When Jennifer came in she had a lot of drive, she was fearless in talking to people and asking for things. Dee was a very solid drummer, a very solid human being, and a very good friend. The sound really solidified then and became powerful, people started going crazy. October 1991: First Rock For Choice concert When we started to get popular, I thought we should do something for pro choice. I’ve always been a feminist and we were in this position of power as a female band. [LA Weekly journalist] Sue Cummings got us in touch with the Feminist Majority Foundation, who we partnered with. We were like ‘we know this band called Nirvana, and they’re getting really big and we think they’ll play for us’. Abortion clinics in the US were under attack – there were bombings, freaks protesting trying to block women going in, it was really intense. The response was great; people were like ‘hallelujah, somebody’s doing something about this.’

1992: Breaking the mainstream Sub Pop brought us to an international audience, we played Europe, we were hot shit. Then we recorded Bricks Are Heavy when Nevermind hit the charts. We were friends with Nirvana and we watched their huge explosion, and suddenly we were blowing up too. Being in the mainstream was never part of the plan and that was just blowing our minds. It was a time when record labels had a lot of money and so many underground bands were getting signed. We were unique in the fact that we were women playing this very aggressive punk rock, our shows were mayhem and people really hooked on to it. That whole L7 ride was really great, until the end, which got really depressing [laughs]. But on the ascent it was fabulous. 1992: Controversial performance on The Word From what I understand it's a little bit of television history in the UK – people may not know who L7 is but they’ve heard of the chick who took her pants down on live TV, I’m fine with that, I had already thrown my tampon at the crowd at Reading Festival by this point. That show had weird stuff going on, they had a men’s bum contest and a hidden camera in Oliver Reed’s dressing room, showing him intoxicated with his shirt off, which was really fucked up. So I added my contribution to this craziness. We were never asked to do live television again.    2015: Reforming We were doing audio interviews for the forthcoming L7 documentary and that got us talking again. When we posted on Facebook we started to get an immense response from fans – sheer enthusiasm from them, to the point of badgering, to get out and do some shows. You go away for a while and you don’t realise that people still really want to see you. There’s been an outpouring of support, it's fantastic for us insecure artists to read positive remarks. This is all happening at the moment that it was supposed to happen. L7: Pretend We’re Dead is due to be released later this year. L7 tour Europe this June

"Abortion clinics were under attack. The response to Rock For Choice was ‘Hallelujah'"

Words: Anna Tehabsim

Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

Turning Points: L7's Donita Sparks


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To conjure up a colour-saturated dream world, Purity Ring need little more than a laptop and the chemistry of two stimulated minds Words: James F. Thompson Photography: Alex de Mora


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Three years ago, the Canadian duo of Megan James [vocals] and Corin Roddick [production] released Shrines, their first album as Purity Ring. With Corin’s iceblasted synths and fragmented, RnBinfluenced beats, it was the sort of thing naval-gazing critics at the time labelled “future pop” and bundled up with the likes of Grimes – who’d released her own breakthrough record a few months prior – with a smidgen of justification. Megan’s lyrics, meanwhile, tackled matters of the heart through macabre metaphors involving disembowelment, drilling holes through eyelids, having her sternum ripped out and other particularly gruesome acts. Ostensibly there was an emotional core to it all and to be sure, Megan’s voice certainly sounded vulnerable enough but the gore suggested her emotions were not to be toyed with. It was with some trepidation, then, that I took my seat opposite the pair in a backstreet photography studio as people clattered about around us, preparing for the shoot. Did Megan have the deeply damaged psyche that her lyrics would suggest? Would Corin turn out to be pretentious and self-serious? Thankfully, the answer was an emphatic no on both scores. Corin, dressed in grey and black, is unwaveringly polite and thoughtful as he offers studied responses to all my questions. He’s also shy. Megan is wrapped up in a cosy-looking off-white outfit and is smaller than I expect, sipping tea between cheerful replies. I’ve got nothing to worry about. Still, I say, those lyrics – a mix of the morbid and intensely personal pulled from Megan’s own collection of journals and writings – would be difficult to draw from from a well-balanced, happy place. “It’s more about being satisfied, not happy,” she offers cryptically. “Or like, understood and understanding, rather than happy. Maybe it feels good at the end but not all the way through.” She lets out a resigned sigh. “Such is life.” Fortunately, new record Another Eternity – recently released via 4AD – should be a major source of satisfaction for the two.

Another Eternity is a bigger, brighter and altogether bolder experience than Shrines. Megan’s vocals, once shrouded in effects and Auto-Tune, are now crystalline and pure in the main. Much of the bloodshed in her lyrics is influenced by the heartache of a breakup, and is implied rather than made explicit (“Meet me in the back shed, I’ll be hanging up the knives,” she sings on Stillness in Woe). Instead, the dreamlike and surreal takes centre stage. “There’s definitely a lightness to [the new album] and that’s really intensified,” Megan says. “I feel like making anything – in this case our music – you do it in an attempt to create a world where you feel comfortable existing, or that you need in order to, like, go on. I feel like that’s kind of a part of why it seems like it’s turned into this figurative dreamy place that you can go…” Corin cuts in: “Any way that we can transport people through music and visuals, that’s ideal.” Megan’s lyrics are inarguably deeply personal and I can’t help but wonder whether there’s a degree of discomfort given that she’s now exploring themes of vulnerability so directly. I ask her about a lyric from new track Flood on the Floor, which goes: “Don’t forget the way she pushed the water inside.” It feels like a metaphor. “Uh. Oh. Hmmm.” For the first and only time during our chat, Megan is completely lost for words. Tears seem to glisten in her eyes. “I was hoping no one would ever ask what that meant,” she finally says, quietly. “It doesn’t mean you have to answer it,” Corin responds, momentarily protective. Megan clears her throat before continuing. “I guess in a sense that song is about … I use the word ‘she’ in it a lot because it’s a very feminine song about the womb. I think that’s all I’ll say about it,” she concludes, laughing nervously. We move on. Purity Ring concede that, with Another Eternity, there was a concerted effort this time around to achieve a more direct, bombastic sound; a process of elimination that involved a more intelligent use of space. “We took all the ‘haze’ out. It’s when you remove things that everything else gets bigger,” Megan explains. “It’s not what you use to gain size. It’s what you lose.” Perhaps an even more significant change the pair made to the recording process, though, was co-location. Putting together Shrines via file-swapping, Megan and Corin lived hundreds of miles apart across Canada – she in Halifax, he in Montreal. “That’s the thing, it wasn’t even sending things back and forth, it was just, like, sending things once,” Corin laughs.

“We took all the ‘haze’ out. When you remove things, everything else gets bigger” - Megan James

After a period of touring and resting up, Corin and Megan ditched their previous approach and came together amidst the frozen industrial landscapes of their birthplace – Edmonton – to record album number two. Another major development was the move to a bona fide recording studio for the sessions, although Corin downplays its impact. “I don’t use a ton of gear or anything; I like to keep my setup as minimal as possible. Like, 95% of what I do is just on a laptop,” he says. Megan starts laughing. “This giant mixing board would be there and the laptop was just like, sat on top of it!” she marvels. “Having a studio isn’t that crucial but it’s just comfortable,” Corin counters. “Although yeah, it was a bit indulgent. There would be all this amazing vintage gear with an incredible board with a laptop dumped on top and we’d just be using, like, one mic for vocals.” But while Purity Ring describe their craft with a faintly self-deprecating sense of humour, both Corin and Megan are visibly proud – and rightly so – of the expansive aural experience that is Another Eternity. I ask which song is their favourite. “Bodyache,” they both say. “It feels like an achievement just because it seems like the type of song we’ve wanted to make for years, even back to the very first song we ever wrote, which was Ungirthed,” adds Corin. “Maybe in a few years we’ll do something better than that. But for now, I feel good knowing that’s absolutely the best we can do.” Another Eternity is released 2 March via 4AD

Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

One of the great things about being a music writer is getting to meet the personalities behind the music. Sometimes you’ll be presented with an endearing contradiction, other times people turn out pretty much exactly as you would imagine. Navigating the rain-soaked alleyways of Bethnal Green on the way to meet Purity Ring, though, I had pretty good reason to be apprehensive.


The gnarled visage of drone metal’s creation, Dylan Carlson’s Earth are revelling in an unlikely second chance Words: Tom Watson Photography: Antonio Curcetti

Dylan Carlson has this joke. It’s one that’s been parroted for over a decade now. “I joke I only had one good idea in my lifetime and have decided to run with it.” He laughs earnestly, winter winds bayonetting at his lungs as he relieves the catarrh from his throat. Carlson is currently travelling with his bandmates Adrienne Davies and Dom McGreevy to the north of England, a place he treasures for its folklore and sardonic humour. There’s this giddy movement to his delivery. “Obviously I’m as happy as a


into his music’s prolonged sustain. The audience hardly move, put under by Earth’s amplification. “We brought three guitar heads with us on this tour and blew two in Birmingham. I’ve really really missed playing loud” Carlson says, knowingly. It’s particularly rare for a band like Earth to have the luxury of a second chance. Their legacy can be partitioned into two polemic eras. Formed in the grisly bosom of the Seattle grunge scene in the early 90s, Carlson’s first era of Earth was a clamorous slobbering of elongated instrumental fuzz stretched out into fragmented riffs that would repeat and repeat and repeat. Like the hallucinatory arcs Earth’s music was trapped in, the majority of this time Carlson spent doped in a storm of narcotics. His criminal activity was habitual. Wrongly famed for aiding his best friend, Kurt Cobain, in his suicide (he gave Cobain the shotgun which was subsequently used to end the frontman’s life on the pretence that it was only to be used in times of defence), Carlson’s career was ebbing away. After the canonical three-track debut album Earth 2: Special Low-Frequency was followed by two ill-received records between 1995 to 1996, Carlson succumbed to a sonic oblivion, disbanding Earth and tumbling off the radar for nine years.

news that the record sold more than all the Earth records combined in the first week alone, I was speechless.” But despite Primitive and Deadly’s surprisingly accessible heavy rock marauding, Billboard chart climbing is not what drives Earth Mk II. “I knew from day one as soon as A&R men started crawling out of Seattle’s woodwork we were never going to be a major label band. That was not our route. But the success of this record is overwhelming. “I’ve always felt like when you’re recording an album, you’re recording a specific moment in time and its set of variables will never be the same again. And it’s the same with live shows. It’s us and this audience who are creating this moment in time that will never happen again in the same way. It’s this moment of possibility and transcendence that doesn’t occur every time. The best shows for me are when I almost don’t even know that they’ve happened. I start and suddenly it’s over. Those are the shows that matter.”

My influences for Primitive and Deadly were early riff-based groups like Scorpions and Diamond Head. Bands that could make the similar dissimilar.” Despite his own synonymy with a very distinct musical subgenre, Carlson struggles to register with the music industry’s inclination to produce homogenous copies of the same sounds. “Bands, especially in metal, are obsessed with the microgenre. And instead of all these microgenres making music more broad, it has a reductionist tendency. It almost feels like people decide what kind of microgenre their band’s going to be before they start, rather than playing together and seeing what happens. You can be influenced by a band but that doesn’t mean you have to sound exactly like them. There just aren’t any gaps anymore.” But is this just another sign of Carlson’s detachment from modernity, the same detachment manifested in his fervour for English oral history? “I think there’s a contrariness and a resistance to modernity that I find attractive. I like being a curmudgeon,” he says. Yet modern audiences dote on Carlson’s Earth as he blithely explores the outer-boundaries of drone. “The Devil makes work for idle hands,” Carlson lets out another crow of laughter, “I find myself very busy nowadays, but I need it to be that way. And thankfully people are still interested in Earth’s second era. Really, there’s a point where I think a band should stop. There are bands that shouldn’t keep going and bands that have stopped who should never get back together. Hopefully I haven’t worn out my welcome yet and hopefully, when that moment comes, I’ll know not to continue past it.”  

“There’s a contrariness and a resistance to modernity that I find attractive. I like being a curmudgeon”

Then came Hex, Earth’s 2005 return. While Carlson was in the wilderness Earth’s influence had grown far, inspiring a musical movement, including being more or less the sole formative influence of the now-adored Sunn O))) – but his newfound direction was starkly different. The devilish repetition was still intact, but Carlson’s guitar work had manifested into something far more shamanistic. Pocketed influences of Ennio Morricone and Neil Young were more overt while the previous nods to minimalist prime movers La Monte Young and Terry Riley were more pronounced. Carlson reflects on this time with a chastity of gratitude, “There are a lot of people who established us on our second run after the release of Hex. Since then, all of our records have been received very positively. pig in shit to be back in the UK,” he cracks another chesty cackle. As the founding member of doom drone devisors Earth, Carlson’s ‘one good idea’ is currently traversing from London to Newcastle with multiple appearances between. The shows, championing the group’s eighth studio album Primitive and Deadly, are sell-outs. Starting at Islington Assembly Hall, Earth’s performance was captured as a live stream for Boiler Room. One shot dissolves into the next in a whirring delirium as Carlson slouches back

“We’ve toured a lot more, we’re much more of a present, functioning band than during the first era. We just weren’t popular. It’s weird now, because so many people talk about Earth 2 as a seminal piece of work. But the first pressing of that record was only 2000 copies and it took three years to sell. It was not universally acclaimed.” Carlson begins to laugh again – now, with the success of Primitive and Deadly, the band have amassed a reputation surpassing what anyone could have speculated. “Our latest record charted. I can’t really fathom that. When I got the

Like last December’s unexpected Ninja Tune collaboration Boa/Cold with fellow low-end fetishist Kevin Martin of The Bug, Primitive and Deadly stands as proof of Carlson’s fearless thrust to evolve and better his previous works. Yet the album hasn’t been met with total esteem from Earth formalists. Amongst the throwback hard riffing of 70s heavy metal and the sludgey drone nuanced by the likes of Neurosis and The Melvins, are the occasional inclusion of vocals – a trait seldom utilised in Earth’s aural arsenal. “I always thought of vocals in a different way than most bands. It’s more like if we use them, how should we use them? I really love what Wolves in the Throne Room did with Jessica [Kennedy] on Celestial Lineage. For Earth, vocals need to be instruments rather than the cheaper frontand-centre thing. “It’s funny because a lot of people that dig us are just into noise. And that stuff is cool. Maybe I’m showing my age, but I don’t think doing loud or extreme music means you have to sacrifice melody or a riff. Songs can still have arcs and development. To me, everything is focused around the riff. It’s the riff you want to hear over and over again.

Primitive and Deadly is out now via Southern Lord Records. Earth headline Temples Festival, Bristol, 29-31 May


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“I don’t think it exists yet in the material world but perhaps it could exist in the future, if we learn the power of our own imagination. We’re able to think of and inhabit places that aren’t colonised yet. That’s the message of the album in a way; our dreams are still our own, our dreams haven’t been sold yet, and they’re incredibly powerful.” Jack Latham has always typified a bunch of producers assembling music with an architectural approach, building imagined environments for their electronic constructions. Making music as Jam City, his is a sound born entirely out of fantasy and imagination, feeding off the textural brutalist structures of his label home Night Slugs. Though a stylistic U-turn, Latham’s latest album might be the most explicit exploration of this theme yet. Grappling to live and love within a stifling world, Dream A Garden finds Latham tearing down his chrome-plated realm of inspiration, and longing for an environment that doesn’t yet exist. It’s been three years since Jam City’s blueprint album Classical Curves. Widely regarded as one of the most influential electronic albums of the decade so far, it incubated the London producer’s stylised amalgam; angular yet incredibly bold and expressive. A montage of disembodied sounds where broken glass and camera flashes feel comforting, Latham’s debut album subtly imitated a dystopian present; beneath its seductive gleam laid a sinister, distinctly inhuman refraction of Western society. Where Classical Curves was influenced by the physical material of capitalism – marble, mansions, oily black Jeep windows – Dream A Garden sees Latham tackling the emotional fallout of its excess.

Words: Anna Tehabsim Photography: Jonangelo Molinari

You can trace this evolution through his sublime Earthly mix series, where feverish NY ballroom and grime unfurl into the stretched out, displaced comedown of the third instalment. “The digital culture we live in often makes a virtue out of being incorporeal,” Latham explains over Skype. “The meaning behind the name is that there is a physical world that we still inhabit. As scary and as unkind as it is, it’s ours to take back.”


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Love breeds change: harnessing the power of dreams with Jam City

Having teased first single Unhappy through a site that requires users to click through various ‘pop-ups’, Latham outlined reasons for his pervasive unhappiness; under-25 depression, nauseating capitalist ideals, aggressive weight loss schemes and alien muscular definition are just a few. “It’s a reality, just walking down the street to get a pint of milk you are bombarded by expectations, lifestyles trying to be sold to you, or things you should be doing. It’s really difficult not to let that make you feel really unhappy and depressed.” Embracing traditional songwriting structures, this is the first time Latham has used his voice so clearly. As it utters through a mist of undulating guitar leads, cushioned chords and brunt edges, sadness permeates his lyricism too. It’s an unexpected, yet remarkably affecting comment on the persistent millennial anxiety many find their lives embroiled in. “I expect more from mainstream popular culture than what is being given to us at the moment,” he explains. “I have very high expectations of it, I want to hear things that make me question a lot of the standards by which we’re taught to live our lives.” For Latham, lyricism was a way of streamlining his concerns in order to communicate them, crediting Curtis Mayfield as a massive influence for his ability to write love songs, and songs that have a conscience. “It’s a really privileged position to be in, to make music that is going to be heard by people,” he says. “Even if it’s a small audience, you have to take responsibility for that and try and commit to it emotionally.

“This imagery, this objectification of bodies, it all contributes to a fascist landscape,” he continues. “I don’t think that’s OK and I know that I’m not the only one who thinks that. I know that we all feel under pressure from that world and it’s my way of saying, ‘it’s OK to be angry about this, we should try and make our voices heard together.’”

it. I wonder whether he thinks this is being reflected in club culture at large. “As part of an underground culture, even if it is global now, it’s important to realise the power in not being immediately monetised or having capital expectations of ourselves. We can honestly take things wherever we want. We have this huge opportunity to talk about these things, to open up conversations. I really want to contribute to that, to start a dialogue.” Indeed, the very act of DJing brings into question ideas of authorship and appropriation, and an expert navigation of that is something that Night Slugs have made their name for. Yet, in London for example – a city that Latham agrees has become a “ghetto for rich people” – it can be increasingly difficult to actively participate in counter culture. “The parties I started going to when I was younger did feel very politicised and very much felt like a free space away from daily struggles. It’s important that we try and preserve that.”

“There is a physical world that we still inhabit. As scary and as unkind as it is, it’s ours to take back”

Since his debut release on Night Slugs in 2010, stark contrast tugs at the core of Latham’s work, a palpable interplay between the hard and the playful, between muscular aggression and hyper-femininity. “To try and express something in between, something a little bit more complex, is one of the main reasons I wanted to express myself via music,” Latham tells me. “It allowed opportunity to be slightly more ambiguous.” Disillusioned with a cold, stifling scene, Latham’s interpretation of masculine energy reflects this desire to present ways of being that are counter to mainstream, normative culture. “There’s a lot of aggression on the dancefloor at the moment,” Latham laments. “It became really important to try and put something out that connected emotionally. I don’t want to put out aggressive, cold, masculine energy onto the dancefloor, I want people to love and respect each other.” Discarding ambiguity, Latham’s ideas are more clear-cut than ever. He’s been resolutely explicit in his motivation for the album, and the political intentions behind

Though Dream A Garden’s soft, bloated core provides the soundtrack to Latham’s lullabies for a hopeful world, the sound hunches beneath a layer of destructive corrosion, existing on an axis of crushing and growth. Indeed, a key aspiration behind the album is resistance. Latham isn’t only interested in mourning our freedom; he’s inspired most by our ability to reject our fate. If Dream A Garden inhabits an asyet uncolonised space, where does this resistance come from? Latham responds with passion, and I think it’s worth printing his answer in full. “It comes from learning to love yourself, to love others, reclaiming your ability to dream,” he declares. “I don’t know how we can change this world systematically, but I do know that it’s possible. The first step is resisting, saying no to a lot of the awful ideologies of this world, selfishness, greed, money, to reclaim the dream. The

Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

Rejecting the bleakness of the present, Dream A Garden is Latham’s rallying cry for those left cold by apathy and austerity. “It felt urgent to make a record that reflected the reality of a lot of people’s lives at the moment,” he says, “to try and orientate the work to ideas of love, passion, solidarity, and resistance against what can feel like a totally oppressive world sometimes.” It’s not an abandonment of his stimulus but an inversion, looking at the individuals trying to function within cities that are being sold off before our eyes, and, as he outlined in the text accompanying the album, beneath “vacuous and superficial machinery.”


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“The first step is resisting, saying no to the awful ideologies of this world, reclaiming the dream”

society we live in tries to buy our bodies and sell them back to us in a strange form. It conspires to estrange us from our own bodies, our sexualities, our own capacities to love and genuinely respect one another. It’s important to begin a process of saying no to this. While I don’t have the direct solution to dismantle the apparatus, it’s a starting point to realise that as a world we’re allowed to dream, we’re allowed to create a space that hasn’t been colonised, been alienated from us yet. A dream is the first step, allowing love into your life in whatever capacity, and trying to live according to those principles in a way.” Adopting the personal-is-political mantra, for Latham change begins at home. Describing his own embrace of these values as “an incredibly liberating experience”, Latham expands on the light he’s envisaged in this bleak corner we’ve carved out for ourselves. “I’m optimistic about our generation and the next generation, I think we have the opportunity to do an incredible and exciting thing in our culture, if we begin a process of saying no,” he concludes. “We have so much power, we really do.” Dream A Garden is released 23 March via Night Slugs


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Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

While writing her exceptional third full-length as Waxahatchee, Katie Crutchfield shut out the distractions and embraced the honesty of her words

Words: Suzie McCracken Photography: Roisin Murphy


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Sure, it’s easy to make religious parallels when someone plays in a holy place. But the congregation are mouthing along to Crutchfield’s songs – eyes closed, heads bowed. These are functioning adults that know what their interest rates are, giving themselves wholly over to the simple, shadowy nature of her Philadelphian psalms. Is Crutchfield surprised to see her music become an apotheosis at live shows? “I go back and forth with that,” she admits when we speak to her a week or so later. “When I started doing stuff with my first record, American Weekend, I felt really attached to the songs ... like they were mine. So sometimes it was a little strange. But I’ve always operated under the assumption that the more specific you can be when you’re writing songs, the more relatable they will end up. So that doesn’t surprise me any more. But it’s always been just a little weird, I guess.” For someone who writes songs that are so incessantly personal, it’s interesting to hear Crutchfield be so frank about the results of putting it all out there. She seems somehow at peace despite her new record, Ivy Tripp, being centred around themes of being lost, a lack of direction. “It applies to the wander of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something.” That’s a large chunk of humanity she considers to be displaced. “But who’s to say that directionlessness – that wandering – is a bad thing that makes people unhappy? A lot of the time those people who feel lost might be happier that way, even though they don’t have anything tangible to hold on to. But they have experiences.” It’s a major theme, and one which translates into the most simultaneously accessible and arrestingly dark music she’s ever made. Ivy Tripp has the gnashing lyrics of 2013’s Cerulean Salt but with songs that have shaken off the shadow of formative years spent obsessed with riot grrrl and grunge. Those hallmarks are still present, obviously – Waxahatchee wouldn’t be Waxahatchee unless it sounded like it could be on the Empire Records soundtrack – but Katie’s love of Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens provides a more classic foundation this time around.

Is the timelessness of something like Mitchell’s Blue what Crutchfield strives for? “That’s something that is really important to me,” she replies. “When you’re not trying to make something that sounds so sonically specific or current, then you open things up and it makes songwriting and making records easier. I definitely think about it a lot…” She pauses. “I mean, saying that my music is timeless sounds a little bit arrogant, but I just mean it’s important to me that I make music that’s going to age well.” But we can’t avoid the darkness forever. One of the album’s outstanding tracks, Less Than comes in just past the midpoint of Ivy Tripp, and its lyric stops the listener in their tracks. “You are less than me / I am nothing” is repeated, over and over. “That lyric is coloured in some dark humour, because I think if it wasn’t, it would be so melodramatic that it would be funny in a different way,” stressed Crutchfield. Does she worry that listeners won’t identify that tongue-in-cheek-ness? “That is like, the only lyric where I thought of it immediately and thought ‘that’s what the song is’. But that was also one of the only lyrics I’ve ever written where I thought ‘if people take this the wrong way it’s gonna make me look really weird’. But you just have to, to a certain extent, be unapologetic about what you’re doing creatively. That’s the song I wanted to write and that’s the thing I wanted to say so if I changed it because it was worried people wouldn’t get it … well, I don’t wanna do that kind of art.” Crutchfield has that quiet self-esteem that alludes British people; she knows after a decade of writing that she can create beauty. And she’s remarkably good at keeping herself cognitively distanced from anything that could damage that confidence in her art. When asked if the knowledge of an ever-widening audience affects her work, she says that making a record on Long Island, with just two friends/fellow producers for company, kept her from worrying. “It was easy for me to just forget about that and just make the record I wanted to make.” Unlike her famed week-long duringa-snowstorm recording of American Weekend, however, there were changes to how the threads of this album came together. Whereas previously Crutchfield was most comfortable writing a song in one sitting, this time she drafted. “I was really meticulous about the rhythm of the vocals, and the number of syllables I used, and the rhyming. Really meticulous. “That attention to detail is kinda nice because when it’s finished, it feels like more of an accomplishment.” So does she want

Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

It’s early evening and Katie Crutchfield is performing Waxahatchee songs at St Pancras Old Church in North London. It’s her, a guitar, and around 100 people, seated in pews. But there’s something different about this crowd – they are older, wiser and more bespectacled than your average lot. And they are all in the throes of utter devotion.


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listeners to come to this new achievement with fresh ears? To set aside their ideas about her previous work? “To me, the records have progressed one to the next because I made all of them and I like to draw a line from each one to the other, so if that’s something that’s nice for the listener to do as well, then I think that’s great. But also, if this is the first record that people are gonna hear, then I feel pretty good about that.”

“This album refers to the wander of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something. But who’s to say that wandering is a bad thing?”

And yet, Crutchfield might not read any of the acclaim that’s about to be published. “I try not to look at my own press,” she says. “I struggle with it because I feel like in other forms of art people don’t take things so

seriously and take things away from it. I think in the long run it’s probably not a good thing to look at, especially for the kind of artist that I am, where I’m making the music I want to make and I’m trying not to worry about how people take it.” Assuming she’s wary of interviews too, however, would be a mistake. “I feel like I’ve worked out a lot of things just thinking out loud. If an interview is really good, I feel like I walk away from it feeling better than I did when I started.” Hopefully she felt a little better after this one. Ivy Tripp is released 7 April via Wichita. Waxahatchee appears at Green Man Festival, Glanusk Estate, Wales, 20-23 August


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Daniel Avery New Energy [Collected Remixes]

Out now on Deluxe LTD Double CD & DIGITAL Includes remixes from Roman Flügel / Factory Floor / KiNK Rødhåd / Perc / Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve / Special Request

GHOST CULTURE

Debut album Out Now on CD / LP & Digital “Gloriously varied… an accomplished debut album” 8/10 LOUD & QUIET MOJO 4/5

Q MAGAZINE 4/5

because.tv phantasysound.co.uk

DJ MAGAZINE 8.5/10

MIXMAG 9/10


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“We want to push people out of their comfort zones. They might hate it, they might find it horrifying…” The four members of Spectres are hunched around a table at a Bristol pub on a prickly weekday evening, all straggly beards and unassuming smiles. Guitarist Adrian Dutt sips his drink and continues. “We want people to question themselves, to think, ‘what am I feeling?’”

Peering in from the parameters, Spectres cannot help but catch the light

I’ve asked about the desperate, gasping face on the front of the band’s debut album, Dying. It’s an unsettling image of panic and claustrophobia, a heave of breath emerging from a pool of water. “We wanted something that reflected the sound we make,” he says. That sound, the sound which makes up Dying, is a dizzying, miasmic blur; a muggy, art-damaged smudge of noise that sweeps you in with glimmers of soothing shoegaze melody, then sends you scarpering with nihilistic blasts of atonal grunt. As debut albums go, it’s startling. Admittedly, it’s taken five years, two EPs, countless gigs, a record label and a citywide musical movement to develop it. But still – it’s startling.  There’s a mischievous self-awareness that defines the record, a grinning sadism. There are certainly great songs to speak of: the soaring confessional Family, the gripping, tuneful hum which bookends the nine-minute Sea Of Trees. But there’s no resisting the album’s defining factor: the way the band knowingly revel in making the listener squirm in their skin; see the Consumer Electronics-evoking capital-N noise of Drag, the degenerate static blast of This Purgatory, the brutalist no wave of Lump. They bask in it. “I think in the simplest terms, it’s a reaction to the reactions we were getting,” reflects guitarist, vocalist and the band’s most pronounced focal point, Joe Hatt. “Since we started playing we’ve been hated, we’ve been heckled. Rather than take that to mean we should tone down and win crowds over, we realised these probably weren’t the people we should be playing to anyway.” When Dying plumbs its most cruddy depths, Dutt and Hatt’s crippling crackle becomes something other that music. At these points, Spectres cease to seem like a band. They in no way resemble four people, making songs. So how do you practice that, I ask? How does you write it? Drummer Andy Came sighs. “I just wait.” Bassist Darren Frost complies. “Someone has to hold it together.” 

“You see that thing on Kickstarter” says Hatt, “where bands tell their fans, give us 50 quid, you can come and watch us practice. Honestly … that would be the worst day of anyone’s life.” He laughs. “They’d arrive and see four people, barely talking, looking in different directions, playing whatever they want.” The band’s single-minded approach has marked them out as outsiders in wider UK alternative/indie culture. Choosing to ply their wares from Bristol, they’ve assembled a loose DIY community around Joe and Adrian’s label, Howling Owl Records. Forming an identity around non-compromise, non-commercial values, Spectres remain outside, looking in. “It’ll always be like that” stresses Hatt. “It’ll never be a case where everyone laps up what we do. It’s not meant to be like that, that’s not the function of the music.” Frost is emphatic. “We will always be outsiders. If we get bigger, great. Then we play with bigger bands, bigger stages. And we’ll be the small fish again.” So for these staunch outsiders, the public reaction to Dying might sit a little uncomfortably. The album hasn’t just been accepted by indie blogs, zines and freesheet papers. It’s been played on Radio One, heralded by Lauren Laverne. It’s even stormed the pages of Spectres’ natural enemy. “We’re Album of the Week in NME” exclaims Hatt.“Of course, there’s a sense that we were never meant to be there. The review is on the same page as Noel Gallagher. He’s got 7/10. We’ve got 9.” “But there’s no shame in it,” interjects Frost. “We haven’t compromised, we haven’t changed a thing.” “I think we’ve arrived at a good time,” concludes Hatt. “The current landscape of British guitar bands isn’t working. Maybe they’re looking for

something different to get behind. Maybe that’s us.” I met the band on the eve of a sporadic two week tour of the UK. Holding down regular jobs – Hatt as a booking agent for a leftfield music promotions company, Dutt at a record store, Frost as a support worker for people with learning disabilities and, disarmingly, endearingly unpredictable drummer Came as a life insurance salesman – this is the band’s most prolonged spell on the road to date. “Touring is an escape for us,” says Dutt. “We barely leave the van. We enjoy that horrible existence.” They regale me with tales of three Wetherspoons meals a day, passing out on roundabouts and being banned from Sheffield city centre. “It’s like not being human,” says Came. “We just live in this tin can and venture out every night to make noise.” They reminisce on one show in particular: Mayfest, Mayhemfest, something like that, they can’t quite recall. It was an early show, back in their hometown of Barnstaple. “It was in this big marquee,” says Frost. “It was absolutely pissing down outside, and we came on after a reggae DJ.” Pathetic fallacy at its finest. “We opened up with a cover of Sonic Youth, 100%” says Hatt. “Everyone stormed out, even though it was raining. Everyone. After a while the rain got so bad that everyone had to come back, they had no other option.” Whether observing from the outside, or forcing the inside out, Spectres will always be the antagonists. Always the outsiders.  Hatt looks up from his drink and smiles. “So we played 100% again.” Dying is out now via Sonic Cathedral

Words: Geraint Davies Photography: Stephanie Elizabeth Third


Designed exclusively for Crack by Josh McKenna. jshmck.com


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: s r

o g o lf n i l e s r c nd fu n Da mi r-un g he ve n i t e y if ing he r P u eet d t m hin ort be nt Co

Words and Photography: Aine Devaney

Contort is the lovechild of distorted noise artist Samuel Kerridge and his partner in life and crime Hayley Kerridge. It sees a sporadic series of all-day Sunday events hosted in the musical metropolis that is Berlin. ‘This NOT just another party’ they emphasise. Rather, its ethos is something of a unique entity in the city, calling on artists to play “whatever they fuck they want” without constraints, without expectations and with absolute freedom.

This spring marks Contort’s transition from a series of events into a label, offering a variety of vinyl releases and live recordings from the Contort parties on cassette. Embracing the premise that you can only make one first impression, its inaugural release is a powerful statement: the second full-length from one of its creators, Samuel Kerridge’s evocative and aggressive Always Offended, Never Ashamed. With a rotating release schedule on vinyl and cassette, they’ve just announced CT002 will be from techno veteran and head of the hugely respected Downwards label Regis with his pirate radio-inspired jungle set live from Contort last year. Contort gives artists the opportunity to experiment with their artistry away from the restriction of the 4x4 hegemony. Whether it’s a techno DJ playing hip-hop or vice versa, or an hour of noise and leftfield 80s pop, you can expect the unexpected. Revered artists such as Milton Bradley, Kanding Ray, Shapednoise and OAKE have been seen on their ever-eclectic lineups. It’s not about jumping onto the latest names, however. Samuel and Hayley make a deliberate effort to support unknown artists, offering a vital launching platform. The genesis of Contort can be traced to the pair’s home in Manchester and Rayon Vert, an all day Sunday party. “We tried to introduce the concept of a Sunday party back in Manchester, but there didn’t seem to be a hunger or an appetite for it,” Samuel told me when we met near Görlitzer Park on a bleary afternoon. With the idea rooting itself in the pair’s vision, they set sights on the fertile and simmering energy from Berlin’s breathing dance


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there were so supportive and loved the idea,” says Hayley. “We were only ever encouraged by everyone here.” With a curatorial ethos devoid of restrictions and without the weight of abiding by danceability, it was quick to attract artists like Ed Davenport, Cristian Vogal and Cassegrain. They recall hitting the streets to poster and flyer in the midst of a bitter Berlin winter, only to welcome just a handful of people throughout the day at the very first party. Yet, with an almost gravitational pull behind them, Contort took on a life of its own and seemed to organically unfold via word-ofmouth success. ‘’It was like the fucking first Sex Pistols gig! Them 20 people at the first Contort told their mates, and you saw them at the next one with more people, and then all of a sudden there were hundreds of people there,’’ Samuel laughs. music culture. With Hayley working with Boiler Room and Samuel focusing solely on his music, they immersed themselves in Berlin’s wealth of club culture. Yet soon after, their enthusiasm was deflated. According to Samuel, “I thought a typical Berlin night would be techno in one room and in another room you’d have weird experimental stuff. But in reality everywhere and everyone was either techno or house, or tech house.” Continuing on our leafy route through Kreuzberg before setting in a bar, it quickly became clear that transparency is the key factor the Kerridges seek to emulate. With no entry or artist’s fee, the object of money is completely removed, Contort running purely on their impulse to deliver music to the people. Drawing from her experiences of promoting nights, Hayley recounts that dreaded anxiety of losing everything, each event entwined with an element of financial risk. “Money taints the whole experience and stems into the crowd,” she says, inducing a conscious worry. With no ulterior motive, intentions remain pure and honest.  

It ‘attracts the right kind of people’ they say, with a meeting of younger generation music heads and old-time Berliners, some have noted Contort's similarity to free parties thrown in late 80s Berlin that were breeding grounds for experimentation and free expression. Striking a chord with the founders of the 80s-born Berlin Atonal festival, Contort was invited to be part of the past two editions, with last year seeing them curate a full day programme hosting 11 live acts including Inner8, Ike Yard and Tim Hecker. Within a predominantly male industry, Hayley places great importance on showcasing female artists, with Lower Order Ethics, Szilvia Lednitzy, Andrea Parker and Nina all officially contorting themselves over time. After getting a tip off about an unknown artist they invited experimental Danish producer SØS Gunver Ryberg to play. “We were absolutely blown away by the girl, she just blew our minds,” Hayley declares. Barely fresh on the scene, Contort propelled her onto a larger stage and had her play at Atonal.

Both inspired by liberal upbringings and an introduction to free party and festival culture from a young age, it’s a sense of charismatic hedonism they are trying to recapture. Samuel explains, “I always loved the scenes back in the 60s and 70s; mods, rockers, hippies, feeling part of something. We were too late for the rave culture in England and I think in a way we could be trying to create something ourselves that people can be part of.’’

Speaking on their current evolution into a label, they have ‘open arms’ with A&R. Contort’s ethos of freedom will continue to be integral within the releases, as will retaining that fearless eclecticism. They recognise the limitations of a label placing itself within a one-genre sphere, aiming to break the barriers in single-minded listening. “As long as it sounds good and the record is honest, we want to hear it,” Samuel states firmly.

Contort first found its home in the cosy surrounding of Mind Pirates situated right by the River Spree in Kreuzberg. “The guys

In the days following our interview, Contort celebrated three years in existence by teaming up with Atonal for the official

launch of the label, transforming Tresor into a floating stage where live acts performed among the crowd. Night segueing into day, Contort #12 took place on 1 March, centring its theme on everyone who’s helped the pair out over the years, including Diagonal's Jaime Williams and esteemed PAN boss Bill Kouligas. Admission was, of course, free. Always Offended Never Ashamed is out now via Contort Records Find more information about Contort events at drenchedindistortion.tumblr.com


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W ith s n io t a g o r r e t in l fu r e p ow of th e hyp erre al, hyp er unre al a esthe tic of , n io t a ic n u m m o c n r e d o m Auto It ali a lo ok a cross th e landscap e of c on t e m p or ar y ar t with a f ierc e cr itical eye

Words: Geraint Davies


Z casts her gaze across a futurist, digitised cityscape. She invites the client into what she dubs ‘a space for exploration, movement and connection.’ Her image fades into a browser-wide flood of terracotta rock swatch-matching against a beaten terrain of ultra-detailed human skin. This in turn cedes to snapshot iconography of antiseptic, cosmetic cleanliness and statements in the stilted lexicon of spam. The progression is controlled by a twofingered scroll of the trackpad. It’s an oozing, addictive online experience, affecting enough to engage even the most jaded and integrated internet lifer. Meet Z is the latest project from the consistently outstanding not-for-profit collective Auto Italia. Active since 2007, and having set its stall out at numerous squats and free locations throughout its existence, it now inhabits a dedicated space in London’s King’s Cross. Currently run by the trio of Marianne Forrest, Marleen Boschen and founder Kate Cooper, and assured by the validation of an addition to Arts Council England’s list of National Portfolio Organisation in 2012, Auto Italia’s influence among the discourse of British contemporary art is strong. It’s curious, given Meet Z’s understanding of ‘space’ as a conceptual notion, that physical space is so key to Auto Italia. As the geographical specificity of the name – adopted from the first donated location they occupied, a disused car showroom – suggests, it is highly important that a literal focal point for the organisation exists, even if only in order to effectively interrogate the function of the art space, to develop ‘alternative approaches to production and exhibition formats.’ A chronology of Auto Italia’s projects traces the evolution of a distinctive, vital voice. In 2010, Auto Italia LIVE presented a cross-section of art and entertainment via

live streaming of artist-made broadcasts, performances and discussions. 2012 saw Kate Cooper, Marianne Forest, Andrew Kerton and Jess Wiesner collaborate on My Skin is At War With A World Of Data, commissioned for Artissima, Turin. Presenting female objectification taken to its ultimate ends in a stark dissection of beauty campaigns and propaganda of fear and inadequacy, a female figure is presented as a ‘she factory’; a receptacle of reproductions and desire, a source of DNA, a sinister figure of industrialised, homogenised sexuality. In 2013, this project was reproduced as part of the Viewing Copy exhibition at Cairo’s Contemporary Image Collective, a project curated by Alec Steadman which tested Auto Italia’s ability to traverse space and time with their output, displacing both Auto Italia LIVE and My Skin Is At War… across years and continents. It was also an exhibition curated largely via email. Late last year, POLYMYTH x Miss Information brought multiple concepts – female objectification, the role of technology in modern life and the transmission from digital to physical spaces – together in a dense and holistic multimedia project. Collaborating with a range of artists, including the musician Holly Herndon, an artist herself revered for deconstructing digital processes, it crafted a central, mythical character, Miss Information, then created her URL ‘boudoir’

Meet Z, Auto Italia, 2014. Image courtesy of Auto Italia and the artists.

IRL, merging with tongue-in-cheek puns and Velvet Underground lyrics. Most recently, Rigged, Kate Cooper’s 2015 solo exhibition at Berlin’s KunstWerke, ruminated further still on female objectification, the hyperreal visions of dehumanised femininity toyed with in My Skin Is At War… heightened by increased budget, meaning women could be entirely CG. These poreless, lifeless-yet-beautiful figures address the lack of agency innate to reproductions of human form in the watermarked, Google-image age; between subject, image, and receiver. The female form was fetishised as an empty vessel of desire, with the dead eyes of a mannequin. Rigged’s evocation of hyper capitalism’s end goal of turning the female form into a consumer product was potent, and unnervingly poignant.  Auto Italia’s current crop of work calls to mind numerous cultural touchstones; the hyperreal, post-internet aesthetic of PC Music, who utilise their sound and presentation to reproduce modern pop in a heightened form; the work of internet artists like LaTurbo Avedon, an avatar manifested as art producer and

Amalia Ulman, who turned her Instagram feed into a conceptual performance; the dystopian technological nightmares of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, or even the documentaries of Adam Curtis, the potency of whose dissections of human history only become fully apparent when the viewer is already embroiled in them. Having met Z, and complied with her direction, we though it only proper to meet two of the central figures behind Auto Italia. Conduced via email, as seemed appropriate, here follows our dialogue with Marianne Forrest and Marleen Boschen.

Auto Italia isn’t a figurative collaboration across an indefinite space, you’re centred very much on a concrete, geographical location. Is the physical space the most important aspect, or is it a way of thinking associated with the studio? Marianne Forrest: It’s interesting you’ve picked up on the idea of a studio as a permanent, geographic location, as this is something we spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to define (or leave undefined). In terms of spaces we’ve been


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located in, Auto Italia has moved fairly frequently since its inception. It began in a squat, and the project has always relied on finding donated exhibition spaces from which to work. The lines between studio, office and public space often blur, with the use of each space changing according to what we need it to do. Having a space in which we meet each other and other artists is key to how we produce. Auto Italia is collaboratively run, and I think meeting daily to work together in the studio is really important for that to truly be how we function. However, this doesn’t mean that we necessarily need to have a static exhibition space in order to work as we do. The use of the line “I’ll Be Your Mirror, I’ll Reflect What You Are” in last year’s POLYMYTH x Miss Information project seems to take on an almost threatening quality – the idea of the insights and information your technology holds about you, of a projected digital self which is separate from who you perceive yourself to be. Is this intentional? Marleen Boschen: We developed the POLYMYTH project with artist and curator Justin Jaeckle, who was really interested

in bringing pop-cultural references like the ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ Velvet Underground lyric into Miss Information’s narrative. But there were connections to surveillance of very private interactions in other pieces in the project such as Home, the Holly Herndon and Metahaven collaboration. Justin’s approach was from a playful context of sampling references and voices in this character, but ideas around how we perform and perceive ourselves through technology are definitely also present in other projects such as Meet Z and My Skin Is at War… How can we use technology to construct something helpful that takes pressure off us rather than feels threatening? I think this comes down to questions around agency and being in control of your own means of production – concerns at the centre of Auto Italia’s ethos.

What can you tell us about the Meet Z project and the experience you’re led through by her?

We’re very interested in how avatars (these could be images, characters etc) can work for you in a positive way, how we can construct a surface that can be intentionally misleading to give room for something else underneath. Always having to be yourself can be incredibly tiring, and having this separation is useful. In a way Auto Italia works like that for us as individuals.

What we wanted to do with Meet Z was very much about creating a new kind of experience online, something that wasn’t moving image but resembled the flow of surfaces, images and narratives we experience online in a new way, involving depth and our physical interactions with devices. At the same time it was about creating a collaborative project, working with

MB: Meet Z is a proposal for new approaches to productivity, and how neoliberal paradigms around work and creativity can be corrupted or employed through someone else; in this case Z, our lead character who ‘works with you and for you, so you don’t have to.’ Scrolling through video, branding, high-res imagery, CGI environments and spam, the experience acts as a trailer or preview that hints at new spaces for work, leisure and lifestyle while thinking about how we’re emotionally and spatially affected by the ideologies around us. How can they slowly break apart? That’s Z’s fate as she gradually gets exhausted during the journey.


“How can we use technology to construct something helpful that takes pressure off us rather than feeling threatening?” Marleen Boschen

a great team including artist Pablo JonesSoler, graphic designer Michael Oswell and photographer Theo Cook. This allowed us to bring together innovative image technologies and coding, thinking about how this could work with fiction and be distributed across different platforms outside the piece such as Instagram and Twitter. We’re conducting this interview via email, which was the medium used for much of the curation of Viewing Copy at Contemporary Image Collective in Cairo, 2013. Obviously there’s a great deal lost via these remote methods of interaction, but what can be gained? MF: For Viewing Copy this became a really central question, and in fact led to the show’s title, referring to the digital versions of artworks curators share between each other, lo-res enough for quick and endless circulation, good enough quality to get the picture. In a show like this, we were interested in how past projects and even a sense of Auto Italia as a group or organisation, might be transmitted into a space where we knew we were not able to go ourselves. Aside from practical production concerns, and working with new materials that we couldn’t get a sense of before the show, there is actually a certain level of freedom gained through this way of working. When you’re so removed from the physical and cultural location in which you’re being presented, maybe that’s the time to really push past projects into new things.

Meet Z, Auto Italia, 2014. Images courtesy of Auto Italia and the artists.

Meet Z was conceived and directed by: Marleen Boschen, Kate Cooper, Marianne Forrest. Working in collaboration with: Theo Cook, Pablo Jones-Soler, Michael Oswell, Kieran Startup, James Wreford. Coding: Drew Miller, Music: Mutant Jukebox, Styling: Francesca Pinna, Makeup: Nora Belovai and Alena D as Z.

We spent a lot of time thinking about older projects and different ways we could imagine them, and what could actually get to Cairo, whose customs and postal service we were warned might well not admit artwork into the country. What we were left with was a mass of digital files: video, images and texts and essentially a blank canvas for re-configuring them. While My Skin Is At War With A Word Of Data takes female objectification to its ultimate ends, these figures are also presented with a redeeming degree of tenderness or affection. Do you view

modern advertising, and the entire movement to turn people into consumers as impressive/inevitable, or horrifying, or both? MF: I think on many levels the movement from person to consumer is complete, though it surely doesn’t remove the humanity from the former! In the My Skin… project, a collaboration between myself and Kate with artists Andrew Kerton and Jess Wiesner working closely with Theo Cook, we were thinking a lot about the physical relationship between ourselves and our bodies and how we digitally present or replicate these. Establishing the characters within the film very much as “workers”, we wanted to question the labour inherent in these forms of communication or selfpresentation. Perhaps within these spheres such as advertising and campaigns, there’s space to carve out new ways of relating to mass imagery, tactics we can use as artists, language we can make work for us? Finally, what other projects do Auto Italia have on the horizon? MF: We’ve got a lot of international collaborations lined up this year including showing a new commission at Ithuba Art Gallery in Johannesburg in early March (a project commissioned by British Council) and we’re exhibiting My Skin Is At War With A World Of Data at the Hessell Museum at the end of that month. And as you mentioned, we’ve just launched the Meet Z project, co-commissioned by The Space. For more information about Auto Italia South East and Meet Z visit autoitaliasoutheast.org


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55 No Culture Icons: LA duo Girlpool won’t be held up as an example to anyone

“We don’t wanna be role models – I think we’re just trying to do our thing and be real to us. I don’t think being a role model should be the goal of anybody in any field. I think what’s important to us is just to be real to who we are and play music and do what we love to do.” When Girlpool talk, they say what they mean. That rule applies to their lyrics, their shows, and interviews. “There’s no front that we try to put up in our music,” continues one half of the band, Cleo, when I ask why she thinks they’ve been almost unanimously reviewed as having a ‘magnetic’ live energy. Questions put to them are sometimes answered with one decisive word accompanied by a heavy, self-assured silence. Should I have been surprised when so much of their music is stripped back and raw? When this is a band that sings, “I’m uncomfortable looking in the mirror, seeing that my skin is clearer”? Girlpool don’t deal in fluff or flattery, and it’s hard not to admire them for it. Everything they do seems to reflect this core manifesto. As Cleo puts it, “There are really no boundaries as far as truth goes. That has to be the ultimate when we’re writing together or else it feels wrong.” With such self-assurance you forget just how young they are, and it’s even easier to forget when you listen to their music. At just 18 and 19, their hybrid of scrappy indie pop and punk spirit is liberating, a snapshot within a wider rallying cry of new DIY bands across the US and UK. They’re having none of that soppy shit. “Our intention is to just write songs that are honest and true to ourselves”, starts Cleo “–and feel good,” finishes Harmony. “When we first started we just wanted to make a cassette to share at DIY shows in LA, because we just wanted to play.” And when quizzed on listing underrated bands from the UK and beyond, a pattern emerges: their UK band of the moment are friends Playlounge, and after much thought, they manage to whittle down their US recommendations to New York’s Quarterbacks, Philly’s Spirit of the Beehive, and All Dogs, an Ohio outfit – all DIY bands. That sense of DIY community may have been instilled in them at The Smell, the legendary LA alcohol-free venue where all-age, five-dollar shows have been running since 1998. This volunteer-run spot is where Girlpool first found each other, and they stress that “The Smell

Words: Sammy Jones Photography: Theo Cottle has a total communal vibe – it’s really powerful and super special to us.” The venue also provided the setting for the video for irresistibly bratty single Blah Blah Blah, directed by Siri Anderson, who also directed the superb documentary The Punk Singer, which traces the life of riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna. Although they still both proudly identify as feminists, the duo are tired of being invariably defined by the issue. While their publicist politely asked us to steer away from the topic, what they did open up about is being grouped under the ‘girl band’ heading. Cleo is resigned to it: “it’s kind of frustrating because that’s not just what we’re made of, we’re made of a lot of different things. To be categorised under one theme is frustrating, but what can you do?” To be fair, it’s hard not to get carried away on the feminism bandwagon after hearing Slutmouth, their grim dissection of a patriarchal society through the eyes of someone that’s had far, far too much

of a bad thing. “Sometimes I wanna be a boy, ‘cause I feel like a toy”, they somberly harmonise, “I go to school everyday, just to be made a housewife one day”. However far they want to distance themselves from the ‘role model’ tag, Girlpool’s spare, straightforward, selfeffacing wisdom offers a powerful example to any young person striving to find they way. Their simple truths and direct delivery have been a breath of fresh air for audiences everywhere, and this run of sold-out UK shows was surely just a taste of things to come. Girlpool’s self-titled EP is out now via Wichita


This Page Jamie wears Michigan Coat, Klondike II Asma wears X'Bluster Jacket, Chase Sweatpant Daniel wears own Sweatshirt Fatima wears own Jacket, S/S Brady T-Shirt

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Aesthetic: Future Brown

The story goes that ‘future brown’ was envisaged in the peak of a magic mushroom trip in upstate New York. Solomon Chase, co-founder and editor of exploratory online platform DIS Magazine, reportedly came up with the concept. The idea was a synthetic representation of nature, a hyperreal, high gloss, ultra-saturated brown. Now the moniker for the production outfit of conceptual grime producer Fatima Al Qadiri, Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda of Fade To Mind duo Nguzunguzu and Jamie ‘J-Cush’ Imanian-Friedman, the founder of New York’s Lit City Trax label. Together they make hyperreal, high gloss music, spanning melodically rich, grime-anchored beats and raucous club rhythms. Each producer has links within artistic spheres that span further than music; Nguzunguzu have been commissioned by French high fashion brand Kenzo, Al Qadiri is known for her work within art collective GCC and for meta-brand Shanzhai Biennial, while J-Cush recently dabbled in modelling for his designer peers. Together, they are a globally informed production collective, linked through their ties to DIS and beloved by avant-garde fashion labels Hood By Air and Telfar. In the same way that the latter brand warps and reappropriates ideas of familiar consumerism, Future Brown recently undertook an exercise in capitalist surrealism for their Vernáculo music video, a fake beauty advert commissioned by Pérez Art Museum Miami that mocked ideas of global beauty standards. The track, featuring bilingual lyrics from New York’s Maluca, appears on their self-titled debut album. A hybrid of wispy grime, dancehall, reggaeton and various club syncopations, the keenly anticipated LP acts as a platform for a rotating cast of vocalists, Kelela, Tink and Ruff Sqwad among them, to interpret their mutated production style.

Photography by Dexter Lander Assisted by Sam Rubenstein Set Design by Studio Maud Styling by Hannah Ryan Interview by Alice Jones carhartt-wip.com

We met the outfit in a Peckham studio the day before their show at London’s ICA for this speciallycommissioned shoot. Since its inception, Carhartt WIP has aimed to build organic relationships with inspiring, provocative figures in music, becoming synonymous with underground cultural movements, as well as working with fresh, upcoming labels like Neighbourhood, Patta, APC and Junya Watanabe. As such, Carhartt WIP's collaboration with the cultural cross-pollinators to present their first European tour made for a perfect fit. Once we’d navigated the stairs – Al Qadiri was suffering from a fractured knee which forced her to pull out of subsequent gigs in Berlin and Paris – we settled down to talk basketball, Bob Marley and creation at the intersection of art, music and fashion.

Asma: I don’t think we are any more involved in the art world than any other artist, but we have a visual aesthetic and taste. 

the ground is like a percussion sound. Also it was in a dome space, they really thought that out and it was such a beautiful performance. 

F: The art world is a patron, like a festival is a patron, know what I mean? Some museums have bigger resources and can pay for a music video commission – like, the video Vernáculo was commissioned by the Pérez Art Museum, so they’re patrons in their own way. 

You’ve all contributed in some way to DIS Magazine. What do you find appealing about that platform?

Can you tell us a little bit about the concept of the Vernáculo video? What does it say about the language of global beauty brands?

J: I always really loved what they did, like how free-spirited everything was, they were just doing all this far out stuff. Whether it was in fashion or music or just conceptually with some art pieces, they always push the boundaries. I think they are also a really wonderful place to grow your ideas, like an incubator. They are the nicest people, and they let you create with them instead of trying to control you and that’s really cool.

F: Personally, from the perspective of women, global beauty and branding or global beauty and marketing have this pretty gross reality. It’s about reaching or promoting this unrealistic idea of ‘beauty’. Beauty is so many things, beauty for me is imperfection, it’s not non-visible pores. The kind of beauty that’s being promoted by companies – this pore-less, this pseudo-scientific...

F: They’re our friends, they’re our old friends, so when your old friends ask you to contribute you’ve got to do it.

Jamie, you've done some modelling recently. How did you find the experience?

A: … Cyborg J: I’m really awkward and bad at it. F: Cyborg, garbage, photoshoppedto-hell image of beauty, it’s just not real. Beauty is something that is so much more infinitely complex and so much more subjective.  

A: He’s good! He’s being modest. Daniel: He’s being model. A: He’s being modelist. 

Future Brown has strong ties to the art world, including collaborations with MoMA and Art Basel. Do you feel like the visual elements of Future Brown are a particularly important part of the overall project?

You collaborated with DIS for your performance at the Museum of Modern Art, with choreographed basketball drills as the backdrop to the set. How did you feel it enhanced your performance? 

Fatima: Every artist these days has some kind of basic visual set up, right? I mean, we don’t do it – we’ll say we like this or we like that, but we’ll collaborate with DIS and Thunder Horse Video for visual aspects of the project. I think it’s just important for all artists to have some kind of a visual. 

A: It definitely enhanced our performance. We were really just like a side note, in a way, it was just our music and that visual. It was like you were watching a music video in real time. They ended up getting these, I guess basketball players, but they choreographed them... 

You’ve done a lot of shows with Prince Rapid. Do you find that the response to grime music varies across different countries, or are most audiences familiar with it?

Jamie: Basically they were doing basketball drills with perfect rhythm, which is really hard, like on beat to every song. I tried it, it’s hard. A: It was also a sonic experience as well, the drumming of the ball hitting

Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

J: I think even if they aren’t familiar with it, people seem to be really receptive and have open ears. Rapid is great at reacting to the crowd, so he can pull them in pretty much straight away, even if they don’t know the lyrics. Like when we’ve been in France or Italy, and some people might not even speak English that well or understand the slang, but people are still in awe of this guy because the flows are different to what they hear in rap tracks or whatever. I think people want to hear something different. F: They respond to his energy too, he has great showmanship, so it’s very exciting to see him. It’s just the way he responds to the beat, he’s a flawless MC. Do you find yourselves adopting the faux ‘future brown’ shade in your wardrobes?

Finally, are there any underrated designers or music artists who you’d like to recommend to our readers? D: Check out Bob Marley. J: There’s a lot of people. The Kuduro scene in Lisbon is popping off, there’s a lot of people there check that out. F: You should definitely listen to 3D Na’Tee, she’s on our record. All the vocalists on our record.  D: Tink, if you haven’t. F: ATMG, the rapper. Some are less known than others, but I would urge everybody to dig into the vocalists that we worked with, really, there are a lot of names there. As for fashion designers... J: Cav Empt.  D: Everybody wears him.

A: Well, have you seen Fatima’s cane? 

A: I thought like, Phire Wire.

F: Have you seen my cane? It’s a future brown cane.

D: Everybody doesn’t need to wear the same brand all the time.

J: I found these Air Max 97s in LA that were like so sick and the only time I ever considered wearing brown. 

J: But check that Phire Wire out. 

F: Whenever we see future brown the colour somewhere it’s exciting, it’s like ‘Yay, future brown!’  A: We don’t want to necessarily define it in that way, because of course it can not be defined, but you know, every now and again we’re like ‘oh, that Twix kinda looks a little future brown.’ F: There’s future brown in the room! But it’s not ... I mean, I get why you would call it ‘faux’, but it’s not ‘faux’. Future brown is... J: It’s a colour that doesn’t exist. F: The thing is, it’s a brown that doesn’t exist in nature, so all metallic browns technically are future brown, because they’re not real. It’s an artificial thing.

A: Yeah, check that! Future Brown is out now via Warp Records. Future Brown appear at Field Day, Victoria Park, London, 6 June Find more information on Carhartt WIP at carhartt-wip.com


This Page Fatima wears X'Adams Jacket, S/S Brady T-Shirt Opposite Page Jamie wears Michigan Coat, Klondike II

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This Page Daniel wears S/S Brody T-Shirt, Texas Pant II Opposite Page Asma wears Belmont Jacket, own denim

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Live

CTM FESTIVAL Various Venues, Berlin 23 January – 1 February It’s hard to imagine another city on Earth that could pull off a festival like CTM. Founded back in 1999, this proudly avant-garde audiovisual celebration has become a pillar of the Berlin musical calendar. With a booking policy that pulls close to zero punches in terms of pandering to mainstream appeal, this is very much an event for those seeking to push the sonic envelope through as many experimental letterboxes as possible. On Monday evening, we head to Hebbel Am Ufer’s HAU 2 for a pair of unique performances making use of a remarkable 12-channel soundsystem that has been installed especially for the festival. The first of these, In The Darkness Of The World, is a radio play of sorts conceived by Mexican composer and sound engineer Sol Rezza. Combining the alien, otherworldly sounds of the deep ocean with snatches of spoken word and rich, womblike swathes of ambience, the overall effect is something like slipping in and out of anaesthesia – disorientating, but undeniably pleasant. Returning to HAU 2 the following night, we begin with the first ever performance of Lucio Capece’s ambitious RX-11 Space Drum Machine. Employing a swarm of tethered helium balloons fitted with speakers and small motor fans, it’s inspired conceptually, but the

inescapably bland nature of the music itself means a lot is lost in translation. Pity. We then make our way over to Berghain for the late shift. If we were already excited at the prospect of seeing The Bug in this most auspicious of venues, that feeling soon gives way to something altogether more bowel-troubling when we see the size of the soundsystem for the evening. On top of the existing six Funktion One speaker stacks resident in the main chamber, Kevin Martin has brought and mic-ed up another three of his own, encircling the dancefloor almost completely. This is, without question, the most intense and potentially life-threatening thing we see all week, but we’d do it again in a heartbeat given half a chance. In search of something a little less extreme than we’d had the pleasure of so far, Wednesday’s double billing of Lucrecia Dalt followed by Liima at HAU1 makes for welcome relief. Illuminated by three shards of light and standing amid a synth bank and bass guitar, Colombian-born Lucrecia coaxes the room into a kind of somnambulant stupor with a sound built on dreamy loops and disjointed chords, all strained and sustained through long, drawn-out spells of repetition. It’s a polished performance, no doubt, but seems to seep out of the edges somehow, with a druggy quality that tugs us towards slumber on a number of occasions.

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On to Liima, and things really start to pick up. The outfit – forged from cerebral Danish folk-popists Efterklang and their long-time friend, Finnish percussionist Tatu Rönkkö – are here to play their first official show ever, and are characteristically modest to begin with. Yet, as the cheers build so does their confidence, and the typical, fey songwriting the band is known for gives way to more experimental flourishes from Rönkkö, such as an ironing board covered in upturned pots and pans or a series of rubber-topped jars played like a tabla. Thursday night at Berghain is all about future-focused electronic music. First up, Gazelle Twin’s breathy, industrial pop-noir, replete with sultry Fever Ray-esque vocals and angsty on-stage posturing, feels thoroughly at home in the brutalist surrounds of the former power station. Following her is the evening’s main draw, Evian Christ, who wastes little time dialling up the dancefloor hysteria with a very calculated set of trance-informed trap. Stuffed to the hilt with the euphoric trimmings of 90s rave, his set is heavy on epic builds and hands-inthe-air moments, yet always stops short of the predictable “big drop” many seem to be clamouring for. Saturday’s offering is short, but all the sweeter for it. Picking up the matinee slot at HAU1 is Norwegian avant-garde songwriter Jenny Hval, who’s here to perform her muchlauded Meshes Of Voice – arguably one of the most unique works of

2014. Perched at a stately grand piano and flanked by a trio of support musicians, the singer appears thoroughly humbled at the prospect of bringing this haunting take on vocal electronica to so many appreciative ears. If that was the cold, however, then Carter Tutti Void – an allegiance between industrial pioneers Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Factory Floor’s Nik Void – bring something altogether warmer. Hovering around 130BPM, heads transition from stupefied droop to grateful nod to trancelike groove, as the pressure mounts to take over the cavernous space in its entirety. All too soon, however, the spell is broken, and an abrupt end to the music wrenches many from their techno reverie, leaving us grateful, yet strangely numb in the encroaching quiet. Trickling out into the cold night, it strikes us that perhaps that’s the greatest souvenir we’ll ever receive from CTM: never quite appreciating silence in the same way again. ! Alex Gwilliam +Jack Drummond N Alex Gwilliam


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AN EVENING WITH HESSLE AUDIO The Marble Factory, Bristol 31 January

D’ANGELO AND THE VANGUARD Apollo, Manchester 18 February

Saturday night and we’ve found ourselves in a packed out Roll for the Soul. The bike workshop-cumcafe is fast becoming a DIY hub (pun intended) for Bristol bands, and it feels like an apt setting to launch Trust Fund’s truly awesome debut album No One’s Coming For Us. Opening the gig is Ides, the solo project from Joanna Gruesome’s Alanna McArdle. She performs deeply personal songs that render the room completely still. It’s really, truly special. Next up is Bristol’s The Jelas, whose wonky art-rock is built with staccato drum patterns, intricate bass lines, sparse, intelligent guitar parts and – last but not least – the proudly unfashionable addition of a saxophone. Finally it’s our headliner’s turn to take the stage. Ellis Jones has one of the most idiosyncratic voices on the scene; intimate and gentle, tracks like Idk, showcase sweet interplay between him and bassist Roxy, reminiscent of early Belle and Sebastian, or The Pastels at their cutest. Ellis’s obvious talent doesn’t detract from the rest of the band either. The subtle bass lines perfectly compliment the scuzzy guitars without getting lost and the drummer’s energetic performance almost steals the scene. It’s an exciting time right now for live music in Bristol. Trust Fund – and tonight’s intimate venue – look set to be a big part of that. ! + N Danny Nedelko

!

Duncan Harrison N Clare Sarson

WILEY The Scala, London 27 January While most support acts are destined to make the smoking area busier than the dancefloor, the booking of Stormzy – an important MC among grime’s new generation – to open for the genre’s Godfather felt significant. With the crowd aware of amicable relationship between Wiley and the support act, Stormzy was approached with respect, and repeated shout outs to the headliner ensured cheers from all over the venue. Met with a crowd eager to kick off as soon as the first bars came from his mouth, Wiley arrived on stage with confidence and a smile. After half an hour of performing Snakes & Ladders material punctuated by the odd crowdpleasing hit, Wiley then welcomed a huge entourage of friends and MCs to the stage that included Skepta, Jammer, Lethal Bizzle, Solo 45, Chip and many more, resulting in a messy but energetic 20 minute bombardment of anthems from the artists' respective catalogues. Like the grime equivalent of a Christmas panto finale, the incident was a truly celebratory affair, proving Wiley’s monumental success and the longstasting effects of his influence. ! Billie Monnier-Stokes N Elliot Simpson

In his cover feature for us late last year, Ben UFO told us how inspired he was by the idea of collapsing the distinction between the accessible and the sophisticated. And with sets that incorporated experimental influences into a dancefloor-committed approach, this night proved that the rest of Hessle Audio share this philosophy with him. The Marble Factory continued to prove its value as a smaller sibling to Motion, housing a perfectly sized crowd who remained attentive throughout the night. After tune selections that ranged from robust electro to vintage jungle, the night culminated in a deluge of unadulterated junglism that rose boisterously with the crowd’s attitude. Before leaving, and battling past two complete audio cut-outs, the venue was starkly illuminated by full house lights, accompanying a final throng of clumsy but spirited near-skanking. The collapse of the previously mentioned distinction is perhaps best summarised by the manner with which the evening ended: Pangaea dropping Sound of the Future’s The Lighter, a DnB classic that combines the elegance of the schmaltzy Where Do I Begin, with the counter-force of rib rattling DJ SS breaks. It’s this confident fusion of grace and grit that made the evening with so Hessle memorable, investing as much in legacy and skill as they do in the party.

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! Angus Harrison Khris Cowley / Here & Now

Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

TRUST FUND Roll for the Soul, Bristol 7 February

While the bulk of Black Messiah explores potent socio-political themes, the overarching narrative is one of a search for leadership – some force to pluck you from the air of malaise and shake you into a sense of heightened consciousness. Tonight, the recording of Minister Louis Farrakhan gives way to the downbeat sermonising of Prayer, and when D’Angelo takes centre stage tonight, his singular sound immediately comes to life. The role of the recently assembled Vanguard feels vital. The meandering bass-lick of Sugah Daddy is executed flawlessly by Pino Palladino, Questlove’s beat-dragging drumming on Chicken Grease is replicated immaculately by drummer Chris 'Daddy' Dave. Jesse Johnson brings through the urgency and pandemonium of The Charade on guitar and a backing vocal section led by Kendra Foster performs the sensual croons of steamy pillow-talk anthems like Lady and Untitled (How Does It Feel). Much like his hero Prince, D’Angelo has clearly rehearsed his current band to absolute perfection. Unlike Prince, however, D’Angelo doesn’t feel like a distant enigma. There’s no smoke and mirrors – his presence is felt. He’s there – gospel in hand – channelling the ecclesiastical leadership of his preacher father alongside the libido-fuelled showmanship of his heroes. As his extended live version Untitled begins to wrap up, the Vanguard leave the stage one by one. D’Angelo then takes to the keys and showcases his unparalleled vocal. A sole apostle trying to find truth in the disarray, ready – finally – to resume writing his own chapter in the history books.


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Products WE GOT POWER! David Markey £28.99 amazon.co.uk A rad book about rad dudes and doing rad things, I Got Power! surveys the hardcore punk scene of 1980’s California through the eyes and pens of those who were there. Starring Henry Rollins (obviously).

SCRE AM Christopher Gray €89.99 ucon-acrobatics.com This nice little reduction of Edvard Munch’s uber-famous The Scream will brighten up your space a treat while shielding you from the introspective, carnal dread of the original. In these troubling times, that’s a double-thumbs-up from us.

LONG COAT CAMO GREY Final Home €679 concrete.nl

MICROBRUTE SE Ar turia £239.99 juno.co.uk This limited edition version of the semi-modular MicroBrute SE (the limited bit is the colour) has all the bells, comprehensive modulation matrix, fully-analogue signal path, classic Steiner-Parker filter, and whistles as the regular SE while coming in a rather fetching shade of orange.

GYM SACK FPAR €30 firmamentberlin.com

Reduced from a gentleman’s €970, this long-ass coat will hide you in the most stylish way possible (a contradiction in terms worth paying for).

We kind of like what these guys are doing, but find it hard to tell whether they’re being sincere or not. Maybe that’s the point - maybe it’s up to the wearer to imbibe the message and decide how best to project it. At the end of the day you're paying €30 for a gym sack, so what's the real issue here?

CITRUS SPR AYER Lekue $11.60 amazon.com So basically what happens here is you cut the top off your preferred citrus fruit (the set comes with 2 sizes, depending on your choice), screw the thingy into it, then spray painful juice into the eyes of a loved one. Haha!

Fifty Shades Of Grey and The Duke Of Burgundy in cinemas at the same time?! If that’s not the universe telling you to get into BDSM then you, my friend, are a prude.

Issue 50 | crackmagazine.net

LE ATHER HARNESS Urban Outfitters £50 urbanoutfitters.com


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Since Lapalux appeared on the scene in 2011, he’s built a reputation on his knack for deconstructing a melody and rebuilding it, transforming it into his own brand of glitched out RnB. It’s more of the same through Lustmore, his sophomore album. Sticking to his tried and tested format of amorously twisted vocals interweaved into a nu-RnB framework, melted and warped by a mid-summer sun, there are no surprises here, with tracks like Sum Body, Push n Spun, We Lost and Autumn feeling like a thoughtless continuation from his 2012 debut Nostalchic. Though feeling familiar and slightly unchallenged, Midnight Peelers stands out from the pack, mirroring a sunburnt track off a Miami Vice soundtrack with its slappy hi-hats and running synths. Don’t Mean A Thing’s stuttering metallic synth riff is a night drive across a highway of flickering streets while Make Money rejects the melancholic atmosphere with its almost crunk-like bassline. Begging for some Death Gripsesque hollering, it ends shortlived and somewhat unfinished. Altogether a hazy and dream-like rendezvous, his collaborations with the ever soulful Andreya Triana and Szjerdene give the album some greatly needed gravitas. U Never Know swirls in euphoria drifting in and out with intensity whilst Puzzle is a coy and jazzy affair with twinkling keys conversing and classy sax. Although Lapalux has built another intricate world of sound, the sonic architecture of Lustmore is one that fails to grasp at any one point. ! Aine Devaney

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DRENGE Undertow Infectious Music

L APALUX Lustmore Brainfeeder

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Ferocious live shows and the misapprehension that making guitar music that’s aggressive is equivalent to giving the genre a genuine shot in the arm were enough to ensure that Drenge’s self-titled debut largely met with rave reviews a couple years back, with the Sheffield duo being earmarked in some quarters as British rock’s great white hope. Beguilingly, they would often be compared favourably with some of their crushingly unoriginal contemporaries, which was peculiar given how derivative Drenge felt in large parts. Anybody willing to give the Loveless brothers (such a great name) a second chance with this follow-up, Undertow – perhaps on account of their admittedly tender years – will quickly have hopes of genuine progression dashed. Opener proper, Running Wild, sounds like an Echo and the Bunnymen offcut with more energetic drumming, whilst Never Awake and The Snake take their cues from the first Queens of the Stone Age record; that sludgy, not-quite-melodic guitar that Josh Homme favoured as he was still in the process of shaking off the post-Kyuss hangover is present and correct, but the requisite swagger most definitely is not. That’s one of the key issues with Drenge in general; Eoin Loveless’s (what a name) vocal delivery is utterly lifeless, leaving the burden on the instrumentation to excite. The title track, a genuinely atmospheric instrumental, achieves that, as does the straight-up punk fizz of Favourite Son, but for the most part, this is a dull sophomore album from a band who didn’t exactly sound as if they were overflowing with ideas first time round. ! Joe Goggins

LIGHTNING BOLT Fantasy Empire Thrill Jockey It’s nigh-on impossible to talk about Lightning Bolt without utilising metaphors steeped in machoism. And despite believing that no musical genre belongs to a certain gender, by Christ did I grow a pair of gigantic balls while listening to Fantasy Empire, the two Brians’ sixth album in their 20 year history, and first in half a decade. The headline accompanying this release is the band’s decision to finally enter a studio. That’s right – Lightning Bolt have gone hi-fi. Well, Chippendale has still had the same kick drum for 20 years, so that’s relative. What the change in circumstance has heeded is a rather more galloping, heavy-metal aesthetic, as opposed to the mulchy, garage dissonance and degenerate trash of Ride the Skies or Wonderful Rainbow. Chippendale’s unrelenting drum battery, the wincing clack of his snare, remains the band’s primary weapon. The closing onslaught of Over The River And Through The Woods meets the song’s central groove and tears it asunder, while King Of My World has a basso continuo born of hell. Horsepower and Runaway Train are gleefully relentless in a manner exceptional even for Lightning Bolt; both are the height of music as representations of the modern machine. It sounds like the band have consumed all current and past members of Kraftwerk then vomited them out onto an array of steampunk regalia. This album is deadly in a way only Lightning Bolt could muster, and their new recording set-up has done nothing to quieten their fierce disregard of pleasantness. Perhaps turning up the clarity hasn’t quite led to a revolution in the Lightning Bolt sound, but it’s different enough to keep your blood at boiling point.

Levon Vincent’s mind is made up – there’s going to be trouble, and nobody’s getting what they want. Level-headed fans of the Berlin-based producer will have by now downloaded the record (abruptly leaked by the man himself earlier this month), and noticed things like the apparent sequencing cock-ups in tracks like Woman is an Angel, or the hurriedly thrown-together feel of the Launch Ramp to tha Sky outro. Others may simply mourn the general lack of four-four bangers, with its eleven tracks boasting only two, perhaps three heavyweights. Newcomers may find themselves asking what the big fucking deal is, before concluding that this foray into house and techno they’ve had on the back burner for so long is maybe not worth the effort. Which is a shame – that’s a journey nobody should be denied, however awkward. Angrier still though are those few who can’t buy the idea that Levon’s capable of putting anything less than sheer gold out – them who’ve gone to war on the RA review, stupefied that it didn’t pick up full marks, and them who’ve rallied behind the man’s Facebook response to criticisms of the sleeve notes, or the song titles, or the ‘four-records-in-a-bag’ packaging. All valid to a degree – the hackneyed threats levelled at the ‘rat-race’, the $50 price tag. The response? “Stop trying to interpret things as fact that you don’t fully understand! It’s art, lads.”  As might be obvious, this is all territory that Levon has thus far avoided. First off, it’s an LP. Levon’s been producing since 2002, but there’s never been an LP. Then there was the digital giveaway. As a general rule, Levon’s never made his content available across nonphysical formats. It’s clear where his loyalties lie, and he was visibly thrilled to announce each vinyl copy of the LP would come with its own unique label art. But for a well-known artist to bypass the standard channels of distribution and immediately deliver a much-anticipated release to fans worldwide, for free, remains a strong statement. When you invite the Internet, you get the Internet, replete with its boring, faux-sincere insistency on keeping it about the music.  Fine. Have it your way. Levon Vincent’s Levon Vincent sounds like a decent collection of half finished tracks. Although it fails to harbor the rush of previous releases, there are a few genuinely enlightening moments; the elevated wistfulness of the title track, the thick snaking melodies on the album’s closer, or the dense, chugging techno of Junkies on Hermann Strasse. Normally its smattering of imperfections would suck, except sometimes it doesn’t because throughout the record you’re aware of a guy with an all-encompassing love for what he does banging out tracks on his battered hardware, and having a great time doing it.

Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat’s first album (the harrowingly astute and heartbreaking Everything’s Getting Older) was one of the sleeper albums of 2011. Their grim blend of caustic social observations, loose-limbed gutter-funk melodies and plaintive, poisonous piano ballads was unique and inspired. Taking the wise decision not to fuck with this very-much-unbroken formula, The Most Important Place in the World is more of the same, but in the best possible way. Pretty much every track is dripping in a claustrophobic ooze of cynicism and rage-tinted resignation. But yet, somehow, the songs eulogise the beauty and joy of compromised, fragile and fleeting lives. So the album contains a semi-shamanic stomp (Lock up your Lambs), perhaps the most unsettling bossanova ever committed to tape (Any Other Mirror), and a choir-backed dismissal of religion’s empty promises (Street Pastor Colloquy, 3AM). Throughout, a myriad of narratives of bitter resentment and shallow, unsatisfactory redemption pepper the striking, simple piano melodies that form the musical core of the album. The closing track We’re Still Here – eloquently documenting town-centre decline in pithy rhyming couplets as a metronome marks the passing of time – captures the paradox at the heart of the album perfectly: it’s desperate, depressing and intoxicatingly life-affirming at the same time.

! Suzie McCracken

! Xavier Boucherat

! Adam Corner

BILL WELLS AND AIDAN MOFFAT The Most Important Place in the World Chemikal LEVON VINCENT Levon Vincent Novel Sound


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A confessional singer-songwriter who is miles away from the irritating Joni Mitchell warbling that such a title suggests, Courtney Barnett’s apparent obsession with setting every single one of her passing thoughts to music is one that continues unabated on her first real full length. Subjects here range from swimming (in the very much throwaway Aqua Profunda!) to property (Depreston) and organic vegetables (Dead Fox) via a vast array of topics generally considered too mundane for lyrical content, but here they nonetheless often lend themselves a certain charm. Lead single Pedestrian at Best remains the standout: the raucous Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!era Nick Cave wordplay stands up well with the stripped-back garage rock stomp of the backing and endlessly replayable chorus mantra. Elsewhere, Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go to The Party makes for an excellent Modern Lovers-like contrast to the forlorn balladeering of the aforementioned Depreston, which sees a mournful, gentler side to Barnett’s vocal and a chance for it to escape its usual punkier confines. Somehow though, the record doesn't quite live up to her previous EPs, generally lacking the bile, bite and wit that cemented her as a swift cult heroine in her native Australia and elsewhere and losing a lot in its excess of whimsy. Still, for an album based around swimming and vegetables, it’s actually pretty good.

Much like Rutger Hauer’s superlative replicant Roy in Blade Runner, the music of Luis Vasquez as The Soft Moon may ultimately lack both a decent shelf life and a real soul underneath its icy, synthetic exterior. It’s a shame, really: Deeper, the highly-anticipated follow up to 2012’s Zeros, is by no means a bad post-punk record, just an achingly mediocre one, haunting a liminal space between the propulsive fug of groups like Weekend, the leather-clad, subterranean electronica of Gizaera Gatekeeper and Kavinsky’s Drive soundtrack cut Nightcall without hitting the idiosyncratic highs of any. Whilst it’s clear Vasquez is shooting – successfully – for an overarching aesthetic of crestfallen industrial miserablism, it’s just all so devoid of any real sense of sincerity. This could be down to the frankly rubbish lyrics; all woe-is-me epithets doubtless meant to encompass punchy gothic sloganeering but coming closer to the tipp-ex scribblings of a pubescent nu-metal enthusiast – I CAN’T SEE MY FACE! WHY AM I ALIVE? and so on. Either way, they’re not helped by the record’s frequently monotone smear, plodding gait and questionable vocal hooks. There are peaks, though. Far’s rollicking cyberpunk bluster, doomy synths and blistering choruses are over in four far too short minutes, whilst Wasting and Without are solid, if unspectacular, slices of slowburning, chasmic doom-pop. In addition, I was reminded more than once of Jas Mann’s 90s Wolverhampton space rockers Babylon Zoo – both the greatest compliment and staunchest criticism you can level at Deeper.

The ‘album as statement’ is an increasingly hackneyed idea in dance music. However vast your reputation might swell, however successful your DJ sets and 12” releases, there seems to be this itch that needs to be scratched. And while some producers are custom-made for the long-form, as has been shown time and time again, many aren’t. Pearson Sound and the Hessle Audio imprint have been faring pretty well with the non-album model for the best part of a decade. But one third of the triumvirate obviously had that inevitable call; that unless you can prove it with an album, perhaps it was a fluke. And while there’s plenty here to affirm Pearson Sound’s position as a singular talent, a working mind with a vision, whether or not Pearson Sound the album can be considered a true success will only make itself known in time – if it’s still worth returning to in weeks, months and years. The opening is surprisingly tricky. It contains a fanfare of sorts; an abrasive mix of sparse rave horn stabs and trap-esque high hats, it’s less of a grab at the shirt collars, more a gentle, threatening invocation. Glass Eye boasts more familiar, defined grooves but subsides into the creeping ambience of Gristle. There’s the usual pallet of murky synths and crackle but this seething, beatless cut is more pensive. Pearson is relishing one of the freedoms of the album, namely the room to build tension. This tension doesn’t fully release until Swill, one of the more club-ready tracks on offer. The intro is a wavy mix of delayed percussions and synths, finally coming together in a shuffling, powerful drop. Such off-kilter grooves are the running theme throughout this record, with any melody coming in the form of seedy, subterranean soundscapery. The sum total of all this is a measured, subtle debut. No shallow attempts to break through here, no fireworks. Just a muted confirmation of uncompromised artistic prowess.

! Jon Clark

! Thomas Howells

! Jack Lucas Dolan

THE SOFT MOON Deeper Captured Tracks

COURTNEY BARNET T Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit Mom + Pop

MARCHING CHURCH The World Is Not Enough Sacred Bones DANIEL AVERY New Energies: Collected Remixes Phantasy

From the moment you lay eyes on the floppy brown hair and solemn puppy-dog eyes featured on the cover of his album, it’s clear Tobias Jesso Jr. takes things very earnestly. Fortunately for us, one of these things is lyricism. Jesso Jr.’s first album, Goon, is a deeply emotional feat of songwriting. In his lyrics, Jesso Jr. addresses questions and sentiments that lie along the fault-lines of every shattered heart. “Why can’t you just love me? Should I move on or should I wait?” asks the song Without You. Even the more comparatively upbeat offerings on the album, such as Crocodile Tears’s drip of loneliness, made full and powerful by Jesso Jr.’s impeccable crooning. The strength of the album lies partially in his solid, bare-bones piano lines, which— despite making appearances on every track— don’t grow tiresome. Most tracks feature the same slow, balladic tempo that has gained Jesso Jr.’s comparison to American singer-songwriters of the late 60s and early 70s. A profoundly unfashionable concept it may be, but Tobias Jesso Jr. is a kind of new-age balladeer, full of love and doubt and hopes that are all “just a dream.” Goon is an album for contemplation. Yes, it features little emotional range and its sound palette is nothing if not predictable, but Jesso Jr. feels so comfortable in his corner that you can hardly blame him for exploiting it. In Goon, this young Canadian has created a collection of work that both sounds and feels outside of time, melodically and emotionally, and one that heralds the emergence of an exciting new songwriter.

Often, trying to appreciate a remix collection as one singular thing is like being sat in front of 16 TV screens to watch 16 different sitcoms and then being asked ‘what was the story this week then?’ That inverted album artwork feels like one last run around a familiar neighbourhood – but the light’s changed and the architecture is unnatural. It’s only once you’re through that you can look back and say, “so this is where we are at the moment.” This is a new wave of underground techno, the New Energy. The first remix collection in Phantasy’s history, a two-hour long double disc release, it could have certainly been over-ambitious, and could have easily sounded like one last spur into the side of Drone Logic. Thankfully, those involved – Factory Floor, Roman Flügel, Volte-Face, Rødhåd, Audion, Perc, and Special Request to name a few – all perfected the formula by injecting new life into the material while maintaining the essence of the original. That ghost is often manifested in a twisted vocal or a dusty psychedelic cloud drifting over and mutating as the track progresses. At the one end of the spectrum are Erol Alkan and Richard Norris’s Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve collab, whose take on New Energy is light and playful, progressively rising toward a slow euphoria. At the other end is Perc’s remix of Reception, already arguably Avery’s heaviest track to date and the toughest remix among the collection. It’s pretty much a gradual curve between those two extremes. Almost every track on this album deserves more than a mention and a lot have been making the rounds in clubs over the past few months. Overall this feels like much more than a remix collection, it’s a cohesive cross section of the new crop of techno.

Last year two punk albums from Denmark shone with swelling, egotistical brilliance. There was Lower’s innovative hyperrealist debut and there was Iceage’s third (and best) album. This year Iceage’s genial frontman Elias Rønnenfelt has recruited some trusted Copenhagen scene regulars including Lower’s singer and bass player to contribute to the latest instalment of his solo project Marching Church. If you’re into what’s been going on in Copenhagen over the last few years – which we are – this is a big deal. Marching Church started as an outlet for Rønnenfelt to release abrasive noise with his 2010 At Night EP. It evolved into a frantic rock project on his 2012 outing Throughout The Borders and culminates in This World is Not Enough: a Nick Cave-worshipping, emotionally troubled collection of the kind of ballads hinted at in Iceage tracks like Morals and Against The Moon. Lead single Hungry For Love is a great starting point for listeners with its unfurling, howling motifs, whispered introduction and deafening, screeching climax. You get the feeling Rønnenfelt has had something on his mind for a while. All the while tracks like King Of Song and Calling Out A Name burst with emotion beneath saxophones that ring with the meaningful chaos of James Chance or Terry Jones and mod-licked bass lines that swing beneath military drums. Even the nine minute ballad Up A Hill is tense and emotionally charged enough to keep us hooked. It’s probably the most wellwritten and well-structured music Rønnenfelt has been involved in, and we really thought he may have peaked on that last Iceage record. It speaks volumes on his talents not just as a great leader but as a truly unique songwriter in the classic sense. This kind of prodigy only comes around once or twice in a generation.

! Calah Singleton

! Henry Johns

! Billy Black

TOBIAS JESSO JR Goon True Panther Sounds


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MODEST MOUSE Strangers To Ourselves Epic

There’s something irresistible about this record. On the one hand, with a running time under the half hour mark, it’s a brief listen that you can easily fire through on a hungover commute – which is ideal because, on the other hand, this is one for the headphones, in that it demands a little attention. Whilst some of the Miami-born producer’s previous releases have been pretty club-centric, Naples has peppered his first LP on Four Tet’s label with numerous styles and diversions. The uneasy drone of opener Riz gives way to a passage of heartbroken synth-pop, which quickly collapses under a wall of colourful distortion. Seconds later, stand out track Abrazo opens with rich strings that launch the listener above the clouds. It’s got a suspiciously long-form feel for such a short listen, at times coming on like a stripped-down version of Kuedo’s Severant, listeners led on a narrative through an unfamiliar place. But whereas Jamie Teasdale’s 2011 masterpiece marched us forcefully through dank, neon-lit streets full of digital thuggery, Naples is a little more casual a guide. He hints at a masterplan, but you wonder if perhaps he’s fooling you around, or if he even knows quite what he’s doing. When it’s over, you can’t help but feel the floor’s fallen out from under you. Then you need to decide if you’re disappointed or not. But such is Naples’s apparent comfort with the release, he probably won’t care. A refreshing understatement.

In Modest Mouse’s 1998 single Never Ending Math Equation, Isaac Brock sung in a fully-formed guttural drawl: ‘I’m the same, as I was when I was six years old / and oh my god I feel so damn old’. One of the most remarkable things about Modest Mouse, now over 20 years since their first EP, is their ability to exist outside of time. With Brock’s world-weary perspective, the band never quite sat right with their indie-rock peers as a younger outfit. Now, with no loss of momentum, their pitchperfect intensity belies their age two decades down the line. As one of their most-quoted lines says: ‘if you go straight long enough, you’ll end up where you were’. That’s not to say there hasn’t been progression, though, and Strangers To Ourselves, their first new album in seven years, is a noticeably slicker affair. This new incarnation of Modest Mouse is slightly less impatient, and more contemplative. Everything is given a little more breathing space, and among the earworm hooks, the devil really is in the details. After the ethereal title track it’s the lead single Lampshades on Fire that brings you hurtling back to familiar territory. It’s all here: the vocal bap bap bap intro borrowed straight from 2004’s The World at Large gives way to rolling drums and instantly recognisable guitar sounds. The production throughout the new album is thicker and more complex than before, while the album lyrically spans ecology, sexism, the human condition – from the living room to the universe. So while real progress is scant, across its 15 tracks Strangers To Ourselves is everything you’ve come to expect from a Modest Mouse album: universal, and completely beguiling.

! Xavier Boucherat

! Alex Briand

ANTHONY NAPLES Body Pill Text Records

KID ROCK First Kiss Warner Bros Records

JON HOPKINS Late Night Tales Late Night Tales

The call rings through, the answerphone beeps, “Scott, it’s me, it’s the Kid. Listen, did you get my last messages… about the… about the sex tape? Jeez… Anyway man… I’ll let you think about it.” Kid drops the receiver into its cradle, unbuttons his pants. The bottle of Jack and the empty pack glare up at him from the formica TV tray. “You spent a mill in a year,” he thinks. “Figures,” he thinks. He grips the receiver tightly, the call rings through. Answerphone beeps. “Hey, is this still the right number? Scott, Scott Stapp? Anyway, it’s me, it’s the Kid. Listen… I… I been thinking about that tape man. I mean, there could be some money in that tape. Anyway… You think about it, OK?” The receiver descends again. He sweats in his favourite chair. Ellen Degeneres murmurs in the background. A numbing relief from a half-year of stagnant ennui. The answerphone beeps. “Scott… I… Fuck it…” Kid lets the receiver drop and picks up a pen. In thick blank ink he writes the words 'First Kiss' . He smiles. “I remember waiting for the school bus…” He hums a rough melody as he writes his first lyrics in six months, “Jenny Clayton was my first crush.” The phone rings. The caller ID reads “Scotty Creed”. Kid ignores the call. Uncle Kracker’s on speed dial and there’s a cool mill waiting if he’ll just pick up.

As we’re putting this review together, every single track from IYRTITL is charting on Billboard. The record shifted half a million copies within a week of its release and clocked in 17.3 million streams on Spotify in just three days. Make no mistake, nobody is flipping units like this. Telling then, that this mixtape-cum-album looks like it might be a ploy for Drake to get out of his contract with Cash Money Records. As he preps for his headlining turn at Coachella (playing the same slot that turned Kanye into Kanye) this is Aubrey Graham’s make or break moment. Lyrically, Drake has never sounded more liberated. Millennial references to Ubers and timelines share stanzas with shots at Tyga (“It's so childish calling my name on the world stage / You need to act your age and not your girl's age”) and golden moments of self-referencing (“Somehow always rise above it / Why you think I got my head in the clouds on my last album cover?”). In terms of production, the kind of heartbeat instrumentals that Drake toys with haven’t been this tight since Take Care. From Boi-1da’s audacious victory-lap shuffle on 6PM In New York to Noah ’40’ Shebib’s signature cloudy textures and snare rattles on 6 Man. The thematic centrepiece of Toronto (referred to as “The 6” for reasons unknown) isn’t the only location getting airtime. Drake’s obsession with UK grime manifests itself through his cribbing of Skepta’s lyrics on Used To, and the dramatic crescendo of Know Yourself makes reference to dancehall clashing culture with gun sounds, airhorns and a spoken interlude from Popcaan. As mixtapes go, a release of this standard is in its own lane. If we take this as Drake’s fourth studio LP then we’ll be holding for something weightier before we start inking his name in the annals. We hope this is the prequel. Whatever is it is or isn’t, the lasting sentiment is simple; Drake is far from done.

The Late Night Tales series has proven enduringly popular. One reason the format ‘works’ is that the artists clearly relish the chance to dust of their oddities and downtempo gems – who wouldn’t? – and their enthusiasm is infectious. But for someone like Jon Hopkins, who is already in the enviable position of being able to incorporate pretty ethereal and abstract sounds into his day-job, you could wonder if there is anywhere for him to go on a collection like this. Well, there is – and in a mesmerising slow-motion cartwheel through lush, ambient backdrops and meticulous, melancholic electronica, Hopkins shows why he’s so revered and respected. Beats are few and far between, but this doesn’t mean the compilation is lacking in dynamism. Darkstar, Holy Other and Teebs all make graceful early appearances, and a clutch of Erased Tapes artists are scattered through the compilation. Songs of Green Pheasant turn in a blissful, gently psychedelic glimmer of a folk song, while a Four Tet track (Gillie Amma, I Love You) heightens the tension with an otherworldly vocal sample. Even the usually naff Leatherette sounds classy in such celestial company. With material from Sigur Ros’ Jonsi, School of Seven Bells and Hopkins all making an appearance, this is a collection that goes nowhere fast and is all the more intriguing for it.

! Billy Black

! Duncan Harrison

! Adam Corner

DR AKE If You're Reading This It's Too Late OVO


03 Film Some things are better left to the imagination. In the case of Fifty Shades of Grey, perhaps it would have been better contained in E. L James's. But after evolving from Twilight fan-fiction into a trashy hit for missionaryadopting skim readers worldwide, Fifty Shades gets a film release and overtakes Kim Kardashian’s shiny bum as the least-erotic erotic thing in the public consciousness. But the gods of cinema have offered a counterpoint with The Duke of Burgundy, a more truthful and enveloping discourse of eroticism. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Thomas Pynchon adaptation Inherent Vice is an enjoyable and smart destruction of brain-cells, whereas Kuminko, the Treasure Hunter stumbles over its own self-awareness. Oh, and we loved Selma: a biopic which doesn’t cop-out, which is a refreshing change to the other films of the form released in the past months.

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FIFTY SHADES OF GREY dir. Sam Taylor-Johnson Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle My £6.90 tub of popcorn was stuffed, brimming over. The delicate salted shreds that weren’t able to pass between my lips tumbled down my front and between my open thighs. The lights dimmed and I felt for my phone, long and hard in my pocket. Upon unlocking it, I slid into the settings – do not disturb. From this point on I don’t remember much else. Fifty Shades of Grey took me in a vice-like grip, shoving innuendo and knowing looks into my mouth until I could feel them at the back of my throat. The performances were so one note they were bruising my flaccid intellect, but still I sat there. Like the whore I am I sat there panting, half wishing it to be over, half intrigued by how much more questionable dialogue and Ellie Goulding I could be subjected to. I dug my fingers into the arms of the chair. A quietened voice started calling, “just leave, just go and watch Shaun the Sheep. You like Shaun the Sheep.” But I didn’t. I stayed. Before I knew what had happened it was over. Silently I brushed myself off, bowed my head and left the cinema. I felt violated, stimulated and completely bored all at once. I don’t know what to think. Fifty Shades of Shite. Now, when’s the sequel coming out? ! Angus Harrison

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SELMA dir. Ava DuVernay Starring: David Oyelowo, Tim Roth, Carmen Ejogo Although Selma has been accused of historical inaccuracies – having to paraphrase Dr King’s famous speeches, for example, as his words won’t be legally in the public domain until 2019 – the film has persevered to unequivocally highlight the racial prejudice that Americans still face today. Asides from this – by the makers’ own admission – wealth of difficulties surrounding its release, Selma is beautifully told by director DuVernay. With her background in documentary film, she’s allowed space for her actors to inhabit the series of events centred around the titular Alabaman town in 1965, which is authentically envisioned by the costume and production design. David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Martin Luther King is masterful, made so by evident dedication and stunning execution. Writer Paul Webb invigorates this period of the Civil Rights Movement by imbuing a potent sense of paranoia – yet another parallel to modern day America – with FBI logs and notations making it apparent MLK is under strict observation. The atrocities Selma documents are in living memory, which is why it cuts close to bone for some. But Selma is also balanced, highlighting King’s unethical methods of attracting media attention and emphasising a real humanity to his sacrifice, rather than surface-level martyrdom and a mere pastiche of his legacy. ! Tim Oxley Smith

12 17 KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER dir: Nathan Zellner Starring: Rinko Kikuchi, David Zellner, Nathan Zellner, Nobuyuki Katsube Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi), an isolated Japanese ‘Office Lady’, finds a grainy VHS of 1996 Coen brothers hit Fargo, and becomes certain it is her destiny to find and retrieve the treasure depicted in the film. This is based on the true story of Takako Konishi, who committed suicide in Detroit Fields in 2001. Takako’s story was largely misreported in the media, leading the Fargo rumour – that she had died searching for the hidden money – to grow, when actually it was a deliberate and unrelated choice, provoked by factors including job loss and heartbreak. Kumiko… is a powerfully desolate film, with Kumiko’s loneliness equally apparent whether in bustling Tokyo or the wastelands of Minneapolis. There are moments of genuine tenderness exhibited by the characters she meets along the way, including a quietly brilliant performance by David Zellner as a maladroit sheriff trying his hardest to reach her as she wanders further into her own mind, and an old lady (Shirley Vernard) who has the two best lines in the film: “Hardbacks are for showoffs” and “Solitude is just a fancy word for loneliness.” But although Kumiko... is a beautiful and haunting film aesthetically, somehow the real sentiment behind the story seems to have been lost, like Kumiko, to the snow fields. ! Tamsyn Aurelia-Eros Black

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY dir: Peter Strickland Starring: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Chiara D’Anna, Fatma Mohamed The Duke of Burgundy’s opening credits roll: the usual producers, editors, the immediate cast, and then – the team in charge of lingerie and perfume. We like this. And although we’re unable to scratch and/or sniff, our senses are now poised for director Peter Strickland’s latest feature. Previous work, the awesome Berberian Sound Studio, toyed with our sense of hearing and perceptions of reality, along with a more profound examination of isolation and male inadequacy. The Duke of Burgundy is a venture into the erotic decadence of two women and their power struggles in and out of character. Strickland uses his camera like a microscope, detailing this overwhelmingly sensual liaison. We’re introduced to the fantasy with Knudsen as Cynthia, the dominating lady-of-the-house, while D’Anna is Evelyn, the housemaid repeatedly punished for not doing her chores properly. We soon find their duplexed performance differs from their real-life relationship. This tension is epitomised by Knudsen, wonderfully expressing Cynthia’s torment as she fails to keep up the sexual facade demanded of her younger lover. By the last act, as the characters’ fictions and reality amalgamate, Strickland falls guilty of losing structure. But The Duke’s dose of epicurean pleasure and surreal oddness still earn the film its traction. ! Tim Oxley Smith

INHERENT VICE dir. Paul Thomas Anderson Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Thomas Brolin, Katherine Waterston Few authors have a fanbase quite as obsessive as Thomas Pynchon’s, and so news that the enigmatic genius’s postmodern pulp detective novel would be adapted for the screen was met with a degree of trepidation. The trailer was hardly encouraging, with the film’s wacky sexual content and occasional slapstick moments (Anderson had rather worryingly cited Airplane! and The Naked Gun as as reference points) condensed into two minutes. Would this magnificent portrayal of hippie counterculture in post-Manson Los Angeles be reduced to laddish stoner idiocy like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Fortunately, Anderson’s deep respect for the novel shines through. Joaquin Phoenix portrays the perpetually befuddled private investigator Doc Sportello with emotional intensity while also evading the trap of resembling The Dude from The Big Lebowski too much, the square-jawed Josh Brolin is an inspired choice to play hippie-hating brute Detective “Bigfoot” Bjorsen and, as an actor known to juggle goofyness with tender affection, Owen Wilson proves to be a neat fit for the role of Coy Harlington – a “rehabilitated” surf rock saxophonist who’s been estranged from his family and needs Sportello’s help. It’s great fun of course. But Paul Thomas Anderson understands that, beneath the haze, Inherent Vice is about something very profound: it’s about the end of the 60s, and the way that the glorious peak of modern consciousness was infiltrated by the “ancient forces of greed and fear”. You dig? ! Davy Reed


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The #clickbait music news rounded up by Josh Baines NEIL YOUNG TEAMS UP WITH SUPREME Supreme have to be applauded for inspiring provincial fifteen year olds nationwide to go out and steal their mums credit card in order to pay for a three hundred quid folding chair, and now for giving hoary old free world botherer and Pono peddler Neil Young some kind of wavy cachet. Look forward to some really badly made skate videos set to Cinnamon Girl in the next few months. 39 YEAR OLD MAN-CHILD BELIEVES IN ALIENS Apparently there are things out there beyond our comprehension, things that will unsettle and disturb us, forces that probe deeper than the realm of reality: yes, that’s right folks, people still give a shit about Blink 182! Tom DeLonge’s recent musings prove that spending your adult life making dick joke littered pop-punk and wearing board shorts turns you into the kind of slavering moron who mistakes 3am YouTube conspiracy theory binges with a bong for a complex web of governmental cover-ups. Dammit!

It’s been five months since O.T. Genasis dropped CoCo and I still can’t get it out of my head. From the moment I wake up, the first thing I see with my mind’s eye is that man’s angryyet-despairing face as he headbangs, nostrils flared, by his kitchen table. Am I going insane?

I’ve just Googled this, and judging by the 96 million views on YouTube, you’re not the only one. Now I have no idea what this chap plans to cook with all that cocoa and baking soda, but if it’s as addictive as that hook, then I for one would love to try a slice!

Denzil Schniffermann Love, life and business advice from Crack’s esteemed agony uncle

Dear Denzil,

Denzil says:

I was always a big Blur fan and I’m chuffed about the new album, but Alex James has a face I’d never tire of slapping. From all those smug boasts about cheese-making and surfing in Cornwall, to quaffing organic cider with Jeremy Clarkson and cosying up with Cameron in his countryside cottage, the bloke’s a smug Tory creep and I can’t believe Damon and Graham are still mates with him. Am I hypocrite if I get tickets for the Hyde Park gig?

The media will crucify you for your political allegiances – something I learnt the hard way after my mutually beneficial relationship with the chairman of the Bournemouth Council became the subject of a satirical column in Private Eye. More to the point though, why would you go and see those floppy-haired smart arses when The Who are playing Hyde Park a few days later?

Martha, 34, Brighton

IGGY AZALEA ORDERS A PIZZA AND GETS A STALKER THROWN IN Problematic queen of cultural appropriation Iggy Azalea just wanted a quick and easy Friday night in recently, and so picked up the phone to fucked-face grease-magnate John Schnatter and ordered in a sopping wet 12” to chow down on with The Real Housewives of Cheshire. After the brother of the mopedder decided to slide into Azalea's texts, the Fancy rapper was less than impressed. She's decided to ring her nearest Pizza Go-Go from now on.

@bain3z

Denzil says:

Mike, 23, Berlin

JACK WHITE DIPS INTO THE MODERN WORLD Despite portraying himself as some kind of two-toned country gent, it turns out that certain things drive even Ye Olde Jack White to write a FURIOUS email. Rumours rushed round the interweb that the singular Stripe is VERY PARTICULAR about his guacamole. It was, he told us, just a bit of banter and ... well, I started reading his response and then it dawned on me that I was reading a Jack White email about guacamole and I just went outside and headbutted the pavement for a bit instead.

SUGE KNIGHT: THE MAN THEY COUDLN’T KILL Remember the film Notorious? The Biggie biopic? Yeah, the one where Tupac gets shot in the balls, crack cocaine gets mistaken for mash potato and there’s loads of unnecessary sex scenes to remind us that rappers have sex with people. It was shit wasn’t it? I think Suge Knight was in that somewhere. Terrible film.

Yo Denz,

Dear Denzil,

Denzil says:

My housemate still spends most of his evenings playing computer games. Is this healthy?

Absolutely not. By the time I’d reached my mid-20s I’d served in the military, started three lucrative businesses from scratch, bought the distribution rights to the M*A*S*H franchise and produced young Schniffermen with various lovers. I can confidently say I wouldn’t have achieved a fraction of it if I’d spent my days shouting at animated football matches and eating Ristorante pizzas.

Josie, 28, Aberdeen

Problems? e-mail denzil@crackmagazine.net


totally the perfect fit. their style of quirky indie pop was like, campaign? It’s either that or the fact that to record a song for their advertising Oreo’s marketing team to invite the sisters identity, that outsider unity, that inspired Europe. Perhaps it was that mirroring of took a while to really take off over here in humble sandwich biscuit, Tegan and Sara ‘like’ and ‘totally’ begins. Much like the stops and the incessant use of the words where the high sugar snack’s popularity that it’s getting ever harder to define American culture’s bleed into our own have become so emblematic of North invasion of European supermarket shelves, Oreo biscuits, and their widespread

The Crack Magazine Crossword

Down 01. Marsupial; one fits snugly inside the other (8) 02. The National Anthem (7,7) 05. Revolting media magnate who the world would be an infinitely better place without (6,7) 07. That’s a nice new dress, did you get that for that significant event that Muriel’s got coming up? What was that again?” (7) 08. Jarrod Rebecchi’s pseudonym (8) 11. The Queen Of The Desert (9) 12. Drum N Bass/EDM/Brostep cross-pollinators; swingy clock bit (8) 15. Watery lager, possibly served at a party thrown by postmodern writer David _____ Wallace and Silence Of The Lambs actress Jodie ____. Oh come on (7) Under 03. The theme of this crossword, for absolutely no reason (9) 04. THE CAPITAL OF THE GREATEST NATION ON EARTH (8) 06. A vast, arid, uninhabitable area (7) 08. The peerless Nick Cave’s fluctuating backing band (3,4,5) 09. Band whose hits include Never Tear Us Apart (4) 10. 26 January (9, 3) 13. Paul Hogan’s hilarious fish-out-of-water character who is more than happy to dispute what does and doesn’t constitute a knife (9,6) 14. Balancing on a platform and then standing up whilst on moving water. Whooooah! (7) 16. Marsupial; Dame Edna’s nickname for, like, people (6) 17. Bolshy if occasionally misguided feminist trailblazer Germaine ____ (5) Solution to last month’s crossword: ACROSS: 01. STAMP, 04. ROBIN, 05. STOP-MAKING-SENSE, 13. FELLINI 14. RHINESTONE, 16. UNSOUND DOWN: 02. TOTORO 03. SCANDINAVIAN, 06. TELEVISION, 07. SPUDNIK, 08. FLAT-ERIC, 09. RICHARD, 10. RYAN-LEWIS, 11. TOFU, 12. RHINO, 15. TACO, 16. UGANDA, 17. UTOPIA

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20 Questions: El-P (Run The Jewels)

As a founding member of Company Flow, the co-founder of the Definitive Jux label, and the producer of a tonne of 00s alternative hip-hop records you’ve probably never heard but probably should have, El-P had already achieved a shit load before he teamed up with Atlanta powerhouse Killer Mike. But with their undeniable chemistry, hard-hitting sound and impassioned animosity towards fuckboys, the world can’t get enough of Run The Jewels, which means that these days El constantly has to pick up the phone and speak to people like us.

What was your favourite cartoon when you were a kid? Transformers. Favourite member of Slipknot? I respect them all equally. Favourite member of the Wu-Tang Clan? Again, it’s hard to say, I really fuck with them all. But I always really liked Cappadonna, that was my shit, for sure. Last book you read? It was a graphic novel – The Preacher. The worst hotel you ever stayed in? It was on the first Company Flow US tour. It was clearly a drug spot and a whore house. We spent about 20 minutes there. If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play? That’s a good question man. Maybe, Digital Underground – Sex Packets. If you could pick a surrogate grandparent, who would it be? That’s a really good one too. Obviously he’s gone now, but I think I’d go for George Carver. He had a lot to say, he used to do drugs, I can relate to him. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? The last job I ever had. It was in the Tower Records mail order department. So when did you work your last shift? In 1996. I actually got fired. If I remember correctly, I actually did the classic clear the office desktop with your arms thing. But then we released the first Company Flow EP and I figured I’d never have to work again. Who’s your favourite person to follow on Instagram? One of my favourite photographers, Amy Touchette. She takes incredible photos of regular New Yorkers and it reminds me of what I love about my city. Ever had any regrettable haircuts? Oh yeah I’ve had plenty of terrible haircuts. For years I just had to shave my head because my bad hair was too traumatic, and I figured ‘fuck it’.

“I respect all members of Slipknot equally”

What’s your signature recipe? It’s actually a tuna salad. Me and Mike have had some big salad battles. Which makes me sound pretty cool. Gary Oldman or Gary Numan? Gary Numan. Really? I heard that Numan’s kind of right-wing... I’m not voting him in for office, I just like a couple of his records! Fair enough. Rate these acts in order of how much you like them: Danny DeVito, Danny Glover and Daniel Day-Lewis... DeVito, Lewis, Glover. I mean, Glover will always have a place in my heart for Lethal Weapon, but it’s hard to forgive him for Predator 2 and at this point I can’t understand anything he’s saying. When was the last time you sprinted as fast as you can? I’m pretty good at the short distance airport sprint. Have you ever been arrested? I’ve been fought, but I’m lucky enough to have never been arrested. Have you ever taken acid? Yeah I had some really good liquid acid like five years ago. What’s the first thing you’re doing after this interview? Another interview. NME or Crack Magazine? I’m gonna have to go with... what was the second one? Run The Jewels play Field Day, Victoria Park, London, 6+7 June


86

Perspective Simon Price is one of the most respected, and loathed, music critics in the UK. His 1999 Manic Street Preachers biography Everything was the fastest-selling rock biography in British history, while his work for Melody Maker and The Independent On Sunday saw him become synonymous with frank and fearless reviewing. Here Price considers why music journalism matters. In the late 70s, supporters of Millwall FC came up with a famous chant, in response to their media notoriety as a hotbed of hooliganism, to the tune of Sailing by Rod Stewart. “No-one likes us, no-one likes us, no-one likes us, we don’t care...” In this sense, if few others, music critics are the Millwall of the written word. And if they aren’t, then they just aren’t doing it properly. This doesn’t mean a critic’s job is stirring up controversy and pissing people off for the sake of it. But there’s a lot to be said for the old motto, usually attributed to Lord Northcliffe: “News is what people do not want you to print. The rest is advertising.” The last 20 years have seen a dispiriting slide towards the ‘advertising’ side of the equation, with ‘churnalism’ (the lazy regurgitation of press releases) and ‘advertorial’ (paid advertising features masquerading as regular content) creeping into the pages of the rock press. There’s been a simultaneous decline in the art of the epic slagging (something in which my first proper publication, Melody Maker, used to specialise, and in which I took a particular pride). Genuinely harsh reviews are an endangered species, and a climate of cowardice prevails. The rise of the internet has given advertisers an almost infinite variety of alternative places to take their ad spend, leaving publishers in terror of offending anybody and losing what little revenue remains. Nevertheless, the spectre of the slagging is the reason bands, and their more rabid fans, instinctively hate hacks. And in some ways, that’s understandable. It must be galling to spend months, even years writing, recording and finessing your album, only to see it dismissed with a killer put-down. No wonder they bite back. Any music journalist who’s been around the block will have a few tales for the When Bands Attack file. Boy George once sent me a bunch of yellow roses with a faintly menacing card. The long-forgotten Dylans

sent me nine crates of lemons, their symbol, after a ‘bitter’ review (geddit?). Miles Hunt sent me a cheque for £35 to cover the cost of the Wonder Stuff merchandise I admitted I’d bought in my youth, in the course of demolishing their greatest hits album. (I had a sneaking admiration for his wit). Less frequently, the backlash happens in the flesh. Pop Will Eat Itself sent one of their road crew to pour a pint of water over my head. (I think – I hope – it was water.) The singer from the Senseless Things grabbed my hat and threw it to the floor in frustration. Angry members of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin bayed for my blood at a music biz party, and were heroically held back by Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine (who had no reason to protect me, as I’d slagged them off too). All fairly tame, though, compared to the golden age of band-on-hack violence, like The Stranglers kidnapping and gaffertaping a French journalist to the Eiffel Tower, Kevin Rowland punching Barry McIlheney in the face or Sid Vicious attacking Nick Kent with a bicycle chain. Sometimes, the infuriated artist is even driven to respond in song form: see Nick Cave’s Scum, The Cure’s Desperate Journalist and Stereophonics’ Mr Writer. But, whether the bands admit it or not, the critic-artist dialogue has been a vital one, and critics have historically played a crucial role in the progress of music, delivering the brutal truth when an artist’s material has slumped below standard, or sensing the moment when an entire movement’s time is up and it’s time to push things forward. As a critic, you have a strict hierarchy of obligations. Your first duty is to your reader, your second to yourself, your third to your publication, your fourth to the artist. To the last of those, you owe an honest review, unclouded by personal animosity or shady self-interest, nothing more, nothing less. Having said that, a review is an informed but ultimately subjective and personal response to art, something bands

would do well to bear in mind before they throw their toys out of the pram and act as if they’re on the receiving end of a gross miscarriage of justice. As I write this, I’m preparing for a new sideline. Late last year, I was approached by the BIMM Institute, the chain of successful music academies Brighton, London, Manchester, Bristol, Dublin and now Berlin, to become a teacher on their new BA (Hons) degree course in Music Journalism. A cynic would question the timing of this, given the shaky state of the music press and the increasing difficulty of earning money from any form of writing. An optimist, however, might invoke the cliché about the Chinese having the same word for ‘crisis’ and ‘opportunity’. We’re still in a period of turmoil as technology shakes up the industry, but when the dust settles, there will surely be a realisation that the one thing that drives readers to websites in the first place, to even be exposed to advertising, is half-decent content. And content-providers (an ugly term for ‘writers’) will need to get their rightful cut of the cash. Maybe courses like the BIMM degree can turn the tide, and help create a new wave of writers who will make the music press worth reading again. Maybe another Golden Age of music writing is possible. Maybe that’s a crazy dream. Either way, we’re gonna have the best time trying. Simon Price is a lecturer in Music Journalism at BIMM, The UK & Europe’s Most Connected Music College. For details visit bimm-institute.de


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CRACK Issue 50  

Featuring Ricardo Villalobos, Purity Ring, Waxahatchee, Earth, Jam City, Spectres, Auto Italia, Girlpool, Future Brown, L7, Run The Jewels a...

CRACK Issue 50  

Featuring Ricardo Villalobos, Purity Ring, Waxahatchee, Earth, Jam City, Spectres, Auto Italia, Girlpool, Future Brown, L7, Run The Jewels a...