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quint magazine | issue 4 | January - February 2011


DESIGN BY KAROLY KIRALYFALVI

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CONTENTS MASTHEAD EDITOR’S NOTE CONTRIBUTOR HIGHLIGHTS NEWS DESIGN ON HISTORY AND DESIGN LEGITIMACY FEATURED DESIGNER - KAROLY KIRALYFALVI FEATURED DESIGNER - MARIA KASSAB PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER - DUET PHOTOGRAPHIA FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER - TANYA TRABOULSI FASHION MISLEADING MANUALS - ANGELIKA BAKOU MY VINTAGE PARLOUR FILM NO FLIPPING: THE GENIUS OF THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW MUSIC

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NICKI MINAJ JADE YOURSELF ALBUM REVIEW - NEVERENDING WHITE LIGHTS LAZZY LUNG INTERVIEW 50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1 BOOKMARK THIS!

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EVENTS LITERATURE LETTERS FROM THE EARTH - MARK TWAIN HEART OF BRASS GOOD LUCK WON’T SAVE US IN THIS JACKPOT OF NOTHING DREAM GIRL DIGITAL MONUMENTS READING LIST OF ORGANISING YOURSELF AND THE SINGULAR MESSAGE

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LAST CALL DAMASCUS

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quint magazine | issue 4 | January - February 2011 Editor in Chief Zaina Shreidi zaina@quintdubai.com Design | Illustration | Art Directon Gyula Deรกk gyula@quintdubai.com Designer Ritu Arya Photographers Duet Photographia, Tanya Traboulsi, Angelika Bakou Contributors Prank Moody, Trevor Bundus, Mohamed El Amin, Karoly Kiralyfalvi, Fares BouNassif, Edem Agbotui, Wael X This production and its entire contents are protected by copyright. No use or reprint (including disclosure) may be made of all or any part of this publication in any manner or form whatsoever without the prior written consent Quint. Views expressed in Quint do not necessarily represent the opinions of the editors or parent company. Quint is a trademark of Spirit Consulting FZE. Contact hi@quintdubai.com


EDITOR’S NOTE WE HAVE HAD A WHIRLWIND OF A YEAR HERE AT QUINT, AND WE HOPE YOU HAVE ENJOYED OUR MAGAZINE THUS FAR. WE HAVE BIG PLANS FOR THE FUTURE, AND THOSE PLANS MOST DEFINITELY INCLUDE YOU, OUR ELUSIVE, OUR INSPIRING, OUR ENDLESSLY SUPPORTIVE READERS. THE TEAM AND I HAVE RELISHED EVERY MINUTE OF SHARING WITH YOU OUR INSPIRATIONS, OUR GUSHING AND OUR RANTING, AND ALL THE CULTURE WE SOAK IN AND GIVE BACK TO YOU, ALL WRAPPED UP AND PRETTY. AND NOW, WITH THE NEW YEAR SO QUICKLY UPON US, IT IS OUR COLLECTIVE RESOLUTION TO KEEP ON KEEPING ON, AND DO IT BETTER THAN EVER EACH ISSUE. WE HAVE GROWN IMMEASURABLY THESE PAST FEW MONTHS, AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE CONTINUATION OF OUR LITTLE FORAY INTO THIS DELICIOUSLY, AESTHETICALLY PLEASING WORLD OF ART AND DESIGN, LITERATURE, MUSIC, FASHION, FILM, AND CULTURE. NOW WITH A PURPOSE AND DIRECTION FOR ALL OUR DAYDREAMS AND WHIMSICAL THINKING AS WELL AS ALL THE HEATED DEBATES AND LONG RAMBLES ABOUT OUR OBSESSIONS, WE ARE READY TO TAKE IT ALL TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED FOLKS, WE ARE HERE TO SHOCK AND AMAZE, EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. ZAINA SHREIDI

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WAELX Music lover and fashionista Wael graces the pages of quint yet again with his take on the upcoming “femcee” on everyone’s lips. His obsession and vast experience in music and journalism, ranging from co-producing radio shows, representing artists, running a fansite for the late Aaliyah, and writing for a local Lebanese publication makes this vivacious burgeoning writer a worthy source.

ANGELIKABAKOU Angelika Bakou is UAE established photographer. Her training consist on an on going degree in Photography from Academy of Arts University in San Francisco, USA. She specializes in fashion photography as well as portraiture. She gets her inspiration from the arts as well as leading fashion photographers such as Irving Penn, David Lachapelle and Annie Leibovitz.

KAROLYKIRALYFALVI Our featured designer this issue, Drez, was destined for a future in art. His father is a painter, poet, and sculptor, and he thus inherited his love for art. But Drez has certainly made a name for himself as a designer since his youth, which he mostly spent in special art classes, doodling, and playing with legos. Since then, Drez has established himself as not only a highly skilled designer for every medium, but also is deeply immersed in sub-culture scenes with nearly a decade’s experience in street-art. Check out his brand of products in graphic design, Extraverage, and his work in our design section.

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news! Trio Afium If you’re at all like us, you get all tingly and excited at the prospect of amazing hidden talent out here in the desert. So, you’re welcome in advance. We had the pleasure of meeting Trio Afium in Yesterday Pub, in the Four Point Sheraton Bur Dubai and within seconds we were blown away. This three-piece Hungarian jazz band improvs their way through absolutely mind-blowing compositions that will leave your feet tapping and your jaw on the floor. Catch them before they go back home mid-January, and keep an eye out throughout the year because they’ll be back soon to inject the underground music scene with their instrumental poetry.

www.myspace.com/trioafium Cardboard Pinhole Camera Remember in school when we were introduced to the concept of how a camera works? We gathered shoeboxes and poked holes, asked our moms for aluminium foil and set to work in class at making the age-old, class-time filling, do it yourself project that old and young alike can enjoy. Now you can experience the thrill of making something that actually has a purpose as well as revelling in the nostalgia of days gone by with the Cardboard Pinhole Camera. Designers Yoo Geun-hyuk & Yoon Bo-jung have taken productive and zero-fuss to a whole new level with this beautifully simple camera literally made out of cardboard. Travellers, hipsters, and photography geeks alike can enjoy the actual Polaroid photographs and post cards that result from this surprisingly thoughtful and fun “camera”.

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http://bldgwlf.com/cardboard-pinhole-camera/


The Santa Brand With a merry take on branding, Santaclaus Global Enterprises have put together a brand book like no other. Forget Coca-Cola, stand aside Easter Bunny, Mr. Claus is here to finally have a say in how he’s portrayed in the media. Guidelines include only using flattering images of the cheery, chubby gift-giver. With a tongue-in-cheek approach to branding and marketing, the Santa Brand Book wisely states: “Santa is a Concept, not an idea. It’s an Emotion, not a feeling. It’s both Yesterday and Today. And it’s Tomorrow as well.” Industry professionals and design geeks alike will enjoy the hilarious graphs, typography (“santa serif” font) and copy guidelines as they flip through what is possibly the most iconic brand book to grace our business, ever. And to all a good night.

www.quietroom.co.uk/santa_brandbook/

ComicSans Criminal Designers, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Here to save the day, and kill the one true enemy of every designer on the planet, is Comic Sans Criminal. With a beautifully designed website that fulfills every aesthetic fantasy, the brains behind Comic Sans Criminal provide a history of Comic Sans, its origins, its progression, and the very few, very rare situations in which it may still be utilized (i.e. for children under 11). As you click through the website you will learn a lot about the font everyone hates, and those who don’t will be educated in why they should. And the cherry on your designer sundae? A ton of fonts to tickle your every design fancy, and to, once and for all, replace the font that must not be named.

www.comicsanscriminal.com


Fares Fares Bounassif Bounassif

On On History History and and Design Design Legitimacy Legitimacy 12


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here is a persistent, although understated, debate revolving around the historicity of our collective (global) backgrounds and what particulars have been previously called milestones. The ever-present ideology of ‘history is written by those in power’, or whichever variation of that phrase you are more accustomed to, is never entirely false. Going back to my favourite ‘historian’ from the twentieth century, Michel Foucault, and what I consider his most effective model of philological analysis, it becomes necessary to reassess several historical factors. Just as the motive behind the creation (and the creation itself) of psychology – among other things – was challenged in Discipline and Punish, we can find distinctly different readings of many elements of typographical history, pictorial history, and many other histories related to the arts and their visual counterparts. The printing press is allegedly a creation of Gutenberg, although some refute that, claiming him as the inventor of moveable type. Others, of typography. It thus becomes evident that nobody can quite place what it was that Gutenberg invented.

two. To start with, only one person is largely acknowledged as the pioneer of printing, while the Internet is a device of many innovators: The US Department of Justice, along with several universities (most prominently UC Berkley and MIT) initiated the original ARPAnet. Tim BernersLee developed the WWW. Meanwhile, email as a collaborative force of creation with no single masthead. Many other developments afterwards, such as search engines and social networks, were group efforts that built on one another. The list of people associated with the creation of today’s massive Internet culture and Internet applications is endless, and no one person can lay claim to having created this behemoth. It would not be surprising if the same could be said for the Gutenberg press. The man who is recognised as its creator probably did not do so exclusively, and the development that lead to the press could not be attributed solely to him. What this all boils down to, however, is a study of the creation of the many elements of graphic design, or the setting down of a comprehensive

So what was it that the venerable Gutenberg did that established him as the inventor of the most important creation of the twentieth century?

Gutenberg proceeded to combine the efforts of his contemporaries and predecessors to create a printing system that allowed him to increase both production and productivity at a relatively low cost. What he really did was not an innovation in its pure sense, but rather an evolution of existing materials into something more holistic: essentially, a collage of technologies. The creation of the Internet was in much the same way. Heralded today as the greatest invention since Gutenberg’s press, it seems fair to compare the historical evolution of the

Today’s business world calls on skilled and talented technicians of the arts to present visual content to the consumer, often without an intermediary. Naturally, these technicians are expected to be efficient and costeffective, like their equivalents in the rest of the techno industry, with no understanding of the work that goes into a design. These same technicians are required to be researchers and academics so that their function as technicians can be successfully carried out. As such, graphic designers become the meeting point between the academic and the professional, able, willing, and required to conduct both tasks equally, and de-facilitated by their surrounding environments: they have managed to outgrow their limitations and adapt to them, thus facing even those challenges. A significant force in business, the designer is not a respected fellow of academia. The designer does not have a culture or history to fall back on, what writings do exist on design seem to be imported from other disciplines, and many of the scholarly shy away from accepting that. What design truly does need, however, is not acceptance. Not even tolerance. Design needs a definition, a sense of being, a reason to exist past the scope of the project my client gave me last week.

The concept of moveable type had been imported from the East (vague, I know) several decades before Gutenberg developed it. The ability to print had existed since the late ninth century, albeit in a most primitive form. So he couldn’t have created printing or moveable type. The Koreans had established that woodcut moveable type was highly inconsistent and troublesome, and had moved ahead and created metal type a couple of decades before Gutenberg – so he could have just borrowed their idea too. Unless, of course, this is a Newton and Leibniz incident and they both came up with the same idea at the same time.

In the mid-fourteen hundreds, printing had become a central need for the spread of the burgeoning Renaissance in Florence and Italy, urging most European elites to push for a rapid development of the weak and inefficient printing methods of the time. A multitude of possible incarnations of the printing press were developed, but many of them failed to meet the requirements of the nobles.

horrendously beautiful productions of random creators, and eventually you drop it all to come up with something that you can philosophically, ideologically, visually, and financially defend. You create a baby by fusing academic methodologies with business acumen and hence break the distinction between the scholar and the professional. Except, that’s not how it works right now.

compendium of graphic design history. For a field of study still extremely fresh and struggling to define itself, lying precariously at the edge of art and science (or art and technology), not falling squarely into either role, graphic design is on its own. Architects and interior architects/designers being the closest in nature to visual designers, they continue to find a significant difference and void between themselves, although admitting the common realms that the three find themselves inhabiting. While architecture, interior or exterior, is a well-documented discipline, visual communication design is not, and research into visual communication has largely disregarded (and sometimes discredited) graphic designers. Design is academic and professional, it is artistic and scientific. You boil the thoughts in your head, till they’re nice an hard, you roll through pages and screens of other people’s thoughts, you linger on one or two

Many claim to have defined it, but the fact that each writes their own definition – and that each’s is equally valid compared to those before it (and after it) – is part of the problem. Existing on that volatile ledge that the entire field could fall from at any moment, some writers like Steven Heller, Ellen Lupton, and Alan Fletcher, have attempted to formalise and establish the field, with limited success. You see, when you really look around, their limited success is not only because of players outside of the design community: the unified efforts of designers necessary for the voice of the academics and critics of design reason do not exist due to a general disinterest among young designers. Ultimately, this is the change necessary for graphic design to earn its place as a cross-section of art and science. Gutenberg’s primary achievement would be his understanding the role of graphic design, although this is probably a Foucauldian reading of history not as it happened, but as it could have, in retrospect. As such, maybe he did pioneer and invent something. Maybe he invented the Graphic Designer.

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KAROLY KIRALYFALVI

STREET ART | GRAFFITI

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TELL US ABOUT THE TEENAGE DREZ. WERE YOU INVOLVED IN THE GRAFFITI SCENE BEFORE YOU TURNED TO DIGITAL? I was a handmade-drawing boy since I was born, markers, pencils, all the others, all on paper. Later, my father bought a PC for his extra work at home, so I spent more time at the computer month-by-month. That was in about 1999-2000. I started learning Photoshop and Freehand later. I’ve never been a graffiti writer, however I’ve always loved it, I was checking the new painting all the time, I bought magazines, and took lots of photos in Budapest about fresh graffitis. It was from about 1997, and when I had my first official job at a magazine, I met with a few graffiti artists,

and we became friends throughout the years. I became involved in the street-art scene in 2002-2004, but as a said I never did graffiti, only street-art by the paper-based meaning. WHAT IS STREET ART FOR YOU? Street Art is a huge range of art, not just stickers and posters. Graffiti itself is also street-art, it’s a great representation of typography, geometry, shapes and colours, with unlimited chances, technics, by the strict meaning of the word ‘unlimited’. DO YOU THINK STREET ART DEFINES A CITY AND ITS PEOPLE, SORT OF LIKE A BRAND FOR THE CITY?

Not really, I think in Europe, or even in America, there are millions of creative artists, graphic designers, contemporary painters, poets, or even sculptors, and each and every style is different, there’s no symbolic brand of streetart for a city.


KAROLY KIRALYFALVI

MUSIC WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO, AND DOES IT INSPIRE YOUR WORK? IF SO, HOW? Important question, really it is. Music is one of the most important impression sources, I prefer many different styles, but if we need a box, it’s called electronic. Hip-hop, breaks, dubstep, drum and bass, and foremost progressive house and tech(no) music are the most to mention. Music is an everyday inspiration, this is a must, everywhere I am, and also if I work, relax, or creating personal things. HAVE YOU DONE ANY DESIGN WORK FOR MUSICIANS? Not musicians, but promotion crews, party-organizing crews, DJ’s and producers. I mean not musicians as in ‘not classical / acoustic’ musicians.

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FASHION MANY TIMES, FASHION AND GRAPHIC DESIGN GO HAND IN HAND. YOU’VE BEEN DESIGNING T-SHIRTS, SNEAKERS, AND BAGS, JUST TO MENTION A FEW. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE FASHION SCENE? WHO HAVE YOU DESIGNED FOR? I started it with some of my friends; we’ve were making tshirts in 2003. Later on, I started my own line, not actually a collection, just personal graphics without any brand, just Extraverage. In the last few years, I received lots of requests to design shoes, bags, hoodies, tshirts, and so on... It’s one of my favourite to work on... clothing.

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KAROLY KIRALYFALVI

EVENTS | EXHIBITIONS

YOU ARE VERY ACTIVE IN THE DESIGN SCENE, AND YOU ORGANISE SOLO AND COLLABORATIVE EXHIBITIONS. DO YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT TO GET YOUR WORK OUT THERE? HOW HAS THE REACTION BEEN AT YOUR SHOWS?

My first exhibition since I’m a graphic designer, was in 2004, and since then, I had many more with friends and different artists, and also a few solo ones. This year there were 3 exhibitions, but in 2011, there is going to be one in January, and a solo in February, so it’s gonna be a busy year too. People really love exhibitions in Budapest, because the scene is so small, so they continuously need the fresh things, new works. We try to keep up, and up to date.

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KAROLY KIRALYFALVI

DESIGN 26


WHAT IS THE KDU AND WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN IT? Keystone Design Union is a phantom agency for photographers, designers, any artists, and the main idea behind it is to keep a high quality level, and hire artists anywhere in the world. Since 2003, The Keystone Design Union has strived to recognize and unite the world’s top creative talent. Our goal is to bring together the most accomplished Creative Professionals; established and emerging Artists and Designers, Photographers, Film Makers, Entrepreneurs, Writers, Academic Professionals, Curators, Fashion Designers, Researchers, Marketing and Communications Specialists, Entertainers, Agents, Sculptors,

and Visionaries with the belief that great ideas and amazing talent are not a commodity but a precious resource. YOUR WORK IS MAINLY BASED ON VECTOR GRAPHICS AND TYPOGRAPHY. HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PATH? I always loved to create graphics in a sterile, clean and minimal way. When I drew something, I always chose black, sharp markers, or Rotring pencils. I hated to paint. So when computers came into my life, I became in love with vectors. My first experience was Macromedia Freehand and later in 2006, I started using Illustrator. I love the abstract, minimal way so I’m a vector guy.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW? I have several ongoing projects, a few logos, a catalogue, a website layout and some new graphics of course for the upcoming exhibition. It’s gonna be a busy year also! ANY LAST WORDS? Kollektiv Turmstrasse!


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MARIA KASSAB

ONE D E A LEB SIGNER ’S VI ANES E REN AIS

Sitting at a pub in Hamra, Maria Kassab passionately tries to explain how much her work and the city she lives in mean to her. A graphic artist whose work can be seen at random and in the most surprising places around Beirut and elsewhere, Maria Kassab has assimilated herselff into the Lebanese art circle through her persistent desire to make a difference, to talk to people, and to let them feel what she has to say.

Maria first began to really create the work that she is most widely recognised for in 2008, although her first public exhibit was the Xanado Arts War Theme Collective Exhibit, at Espace SD, after the July 2006 war in Lebanon. Since then, she has focused more and more on creating imagery that can genuinely portray her feels and opinions with regards to the cultural and social situation in Lebanon, free from thematic limitations imposed on her by previous commissions.

adequately describes what she does and why she does it: “We’re losing the essence of the natural. We’re more into a systematic, robotic era and we’re losing the essence of being, of seeing beyond the material and just focusing on limited… we’re becoming limited editions.”

She is very modest about her work, always avoiding its potential to be a national and regional message to society, preferring instead to declare it her own, personal, experience. Still, she agrees that her voice needs to be heard, that she has an ache that screams through the calm, earthy pale colours of her compositions.

Lebanese. Her work is a visual feast of contemporary idealisations and bastardisations of the traditional icons of the nineteenth and twentieth century. As she puts it, “I’m someone who likes, very much, antiques, old, vintage, because they have a certain story, a smell, that has been forgotten, because nowadays (from my point of view) we lack identity. I’m trying to take these old stories and cutouts and give them life again, through my personal view”. Looking at her work, she finds that “Most of them state a kind of melancholy: it’s the loss of something, the loss of purity because in some collages you see purity through the women, the violins, the branches… the nostalgia. Some of them are even a bit humorous, like the Engine Man collage. You have this man with this motor face, he’s becoming a machine himself.”

Focusing on collages and drawings, Maria’s work consistently reflects the encasement and deliberate constrictions that have been forced upon her and the

Shuffling through her thoughts and her images, she tells me that the final essence of her work can be summarised through a vision of hers, a sort of manifesto that

As our conversation carried ahead, it was clear she is very passionate about what she does. She tells me about her friends in the art world, about the way they are

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It is through the digital collages (the photomontages) that she breaks free from this robotic era. Just like others in the local scene, she has found a medium through which she can tear apart and re-combine pictures, old or new, to tell a story. “They are patches and dispatches of animated collages; a story coming before and after: they have a lot of motion, movement, and at the same time they are stagnant.” Still, eventually, she admits, “Sometimes, it’s just feelings you’re putting out there, without a particular focus”.


oun ass if es B Far

VISIO N OF SSAN CE


MARIA KASSAB

Warda Little girl elevating herself from the city because the city is dragging, elevating herself in a kind of divine way, but there is a bloodstain on her that is not going out. Like a scar. This is mainly about oppression, poverty, injustice.

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pioneering a new movement in the local art scene, giving shape to several voices through infinite mediums that allow them to make their statements, or just create subjective beauty. Having recently displayed one of her collages at the BETA Spaces festival in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and participating in a collective exhibit in Beirut, she continues to attempt to open people’s eyes to the world around them. She explains how Lebanon has historically “been under siege”. Those mediums that have finally given them their platform and the ability to declare their message to a larger audience did not exist before, or were not available. She says that people had to work “underground”, rarely having the opportunity to show their art to those they did not personally interact with. Today, she finds that the openness to free speech is changing things: “Although we’re still under the siege, there is no tension. The people have found a bikhish [hole] and they just want to express what they have.” Maria’s view of the world is very specific, intense, and remarkably personal; you could feel the energy and urgency that pushes her forwards in the words she chooses to express her convictions: “I think most of us have lost our senses, and we have gone mad in a way, this globalisation and over-consumerism, is growing on us endlessly. We are being swamped by continuous and constant information about (mostly) everything, but one important thing is missing: how to cope with this unceasing mind deviation without forgetting about our self, essence, and experience. Instead we dump ourselves in useless information, a participation of a collective numbness: the system is being infiltrated, through the media, through each and every visual and lingual medium. Its kind of like batching machine tubes into one’s head and permeating whatever there is to numb a nation and make us forget what is really happening around us. Man machine, man famine, man nature, man greed and lust. Sure, this openness and globalisation has its advantages, but this abuse is a conscious handicap, this gigantic storm inhaling all our senses has made us grow on pills; a nation growing on pills. Roy Arundhati, a great author, said: ‘People are so isolated, and so alone, and so suspicious, and so competitive with each other, and so sure that they are about to be conned by their neighbour, or by their mother, or by their sister, or

their grandmother. What’s the use of having fifty percent of the world’s wealth, or whatever it is that you have, if you’re going to live this pathetic, terrified life?’ Basically this anaesthetised community’s worst infection is to become accustomed to and reconcile with these horrors.” What is the point? Why go through all of this? “Each and every human being on this earth wants to just express themselves, whether it’s through music, photography. Now is the time. People now are awake, like they were hypnotised, and they’re realising what’s happening around them and they’re going through a cultural and artistic renaissance.” I see them everywhere, and the Lebanese artists (although not exclusively the artists) find them inspirational or otherwise intriguing. Whether through photography, music, graffiti, or more abstract or representational work, what Maria refers to as a “cultural and artistic renaissance” is clearly taking place all over Beirut and Lebanon. From the daily appearance of new illustrators and visual artists with an individual style (like Loulwa Beydoun, Nadine Feghali, and Jessika Khazrik), to the ongoing surge of musicians (like avant-gardist Liliane Chléla) and the film work – professional music videos for the underground music scene (by directors like Pedros Temizian), to short films on social and political issues, social-media-based online TV-series (such as Shankaboot), and even full-length feature films. Each and everyone of these artists strives to accomplish one particular thing, one final goal: to represent themselves, their visions, in the characters they create. At the end of it all, Maria finds a sort of solace in her work: “My pieces become a pleasure when finished because my message is out of me.” This, according to some, is Maria’s art therapy. Prints of Maria’s work are available for sale, and can be reproduced upon demand. Contact Maria at maria.kassab@ gmail.com


MARIA KASSAB

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MARIA KASSAB

Engine man Man vs machine: technology; new age; robotic.

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MARIA KASSAB

The Big Picture Woman with gas mask. I give this divine emblem to the poor, to the people, giving them an iconic imagery. It's an environmental political cry

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L'Afrique mon Amour It's this boy who›s sitting and we›ve forgotten about him. He's sitting with a bullet in his heart. He's wondering and sitting, but in a very mature dignified way, not waiting for you to help him.

The Heart Self-portrait The cry of nature, this anonymous hand putting itself on my heart to comfort this pain I have for the destruction of nature: because nature is in us, we cannot disassociate ourselves from it so we should embrace it and take care of it. The hand is, maybe, the hearing of my cry, present here to tell me that I hear you.


PHOTOGRAPHY

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHERS

SAAD RABIA AND NADIA ABDEEN FORMED DUET PHOTOGRAPHIA OUT OF A PURE LOVE FOR EXPRESSION THROUGH FILM. WITH BRILLIANT PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY SERVICES, DUET PHOTOGRAPHIA PACKS EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE AND INTENSE PASSION FOR THEIR ART FORM OF CHOICE. ZAINA SHREIDI CAUGHT UP WITH NADIA, ONE HALF OF DUET PHOTOGRAPHIA, TO DISCUSS THEIR FORAY INTO THE CREATIVE SCENE HERE IN DUBAI.

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PHOTOGRAPHY

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FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHERS

HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN PHOTOGRAPHERS? WAS THIS SOMETHING YOU’VE ALWAYS DONE, SINCE CHILDHOOD, OR MORE RECENT? We were both fond of photography since the day we can remember. My story with photography started from the days of my childhood. My Grandpa used to document every part of our lives, taking photographs and even videos with his old classic equipment. I can still feel the vintage touch of his album collection and I could easily say that I was highly influenced by that, and as a Visual Communication major in the American University of Sharjah I found my passion between developing photographs in the darkroom and design as a mindset and a way of life. Saad, being an artist, a designer, a filmmaker and an entrepreneur, found photography as a medium that complements his creative process and became very passionate about it over the past 8 years. I UNDERSTAND YOU ALSO DO VIDEOGRAPHY, WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS HAVE YOU UNDERTAKEN AND ARE THEY MORE CREATIVE OR CORPORATE? Our videography projects tend to lean towards the creative side, starting by visualising the concepts and scenes through photography and then creating proper storyboards through sketching and extensive research. However, Saad has a solid experience in video making for corporate organisations and businesses. He has worked on producing projects for big companies like Sorouh, Khidmah and Abu Dhabi Municipality. He has also worked on creative projects such as short films and conceptual videos that were acknowledged by many media professionals. WHAT ARE THE MAIN SUBJECTS OF YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS? We are after capturing the precious moments to document people’s memories of events in their lives. We work together to portray two points of view, two sides of the story and twice as much the passion.

WHAT KIND OF CAMERA(S) AND EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE? For photography, we use a Canon 5D Mark II, a 550D and a 500D along with a 24mm f/1.8, a 50mm f/1.8, an 85mm f/1.4 and an 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 lenses. We also use these cameras in our videography process alongside a Sony HDV-1000 for more advanced projects. We are both Mac and PC users and big lovers of anything Adobe. This combination of tools and software mixed with our passion, experience and commitment, resulted in the making of Duet Photographia. HOW HAS YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY DEVELOPED/ CHANGED OVER TIME? ANY SIGNIFICANT CHANGES? We have experimented with all sorts of photography tools and compositions. Our navigation varied from building a pinhole camera and playing around with chemicals in darkrooms to test exposure, to challenging ourselves and each other to produce an exceptional and nonconventional process each time we start a project. We learn from every scenario and every challenge we face through work and life. We make any insignificant detail of our mundane everyday inform our work physically or emotionally. HOW DO YOU PERCEIVE THE SCENE HERE, IN TERMS OF PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY? IS THERE POTENTIAL; HAVE YOU SEEN ANYTHING INSPIRING? I personally think that people are becoming more open to what was once considered irrelevant, and aware of what good photography is in this region due to constant exposure to different photography genres around the world and over history, be it National Geographic Wildlife photography or the glamour and fashion photography we are bombarded with on street ads and in magazines around the city… This exposure results in raising the bar of creativity and quality for individuals in such an international society. Honestly, and to speak my mind, one of the reasons behind starting Duet Photographia


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came from us sensing this type of awareness from the people around us who are not necessarily in the creative scene, however have deep appreciation for a photograph that tells a story. Inspiring work is all around us if we seek and appreciate it, when we challenge ourselves and decide not to be intrigued by what’s forced on us from mediocre and plastic work. WHAT INSPIRES YOU AS A PHOTOGRAPHER? Due to our diverse media of expression, sometimes we visualise a composition as if it was a movie scene, in which people are the characters and reality is the setting where every single story comes to life. It’s all about freezing a moment that tells a story or a point of view people walking by might not notice, but would mark as a memory in time or relate to as a work of art. I NOTICED YOU TAKE LOTS OF PORTRAITS AND STILL LIFE, ANY OTHER SUBJECTS YOU ARE INTERESTED IN OR DRAWN TO? As I mentioned to you before, Duet Photographia is after the story and that moment in time that expresses and triggers some sort of emotion that we as photographers sense and translate to people through our light drawings. So whatever the setting is, whoever the subject is, the essence is in the narration. USING A CREATIVE TALENT TO FUEL A CAREER IS SOMETIMES A BIT HARD. HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE OPPOSING PULLS OF CREATIVE VS. CORPORATE?

We both involve ourselves and complement each other in every detail of managing Duet Photographia and we constantly aim to educate and update our knowledge and understanding in order to increase our performance of how a company runs. Saad had many successful experiences in starting and co-founding creative and entrepreneur businesses that are still running up to this day. Duet Photographia aims to maintain a small scale company that is always approachable to individuals, however speaks the language of the corporate world through technology, equipment, and quality. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE? AS DUET IS A NEW COMPANY; DO YOU HAVE A VISION FOR HOW YOU WILL GROW? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE IN THE NEAR FUTURE? Duet Photographia was born as a love story between two photographers who are simply after documenting stories of others. Our vision for Duet Photographia is to have a special place in as many people’s hearts as possible and within the shortest amount of time. We want people to recognise Duet Photographia’s work wherever they spot it, and we aim to constantly raise the bar of quality and creativity through any medium we experiment with, and in any inspiration we encounter. We ignite each other to spread our passion by narration through photography, videography, or design. VISIT DUET PHOTOGRAPHIA’S WEBSITE AT: http://www.duet.ae/ OR FOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER: duetae


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“DUET PHOTOGRAPHIA WAS BORN AS A LOVE STORY BETWEEN TWO PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO ARE SIMPLY AFTER DOCUMENTING STORIES OF OTHERS.”


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“WE WORK TOGETHER TO PORTRAY TWO POINTS OF VIEW, TWO SIDES OF THE STORY AND TWICE AS MUCH THE PASSION.“

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FROM THE SERIES “COLLECTION 1983”

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- FARES BOUNASSIF Of the sudden rise of artistic photographers, few are as consistently recognisable as Tanya Traboulsi. The local standard for music photography, there are few Lebanese musicians who have not had her lens stare through them and her vision describe their work. We caught up with Tanya to discuss her passion for music, her artistic endeavours, and other such intriguing adventures:


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FAREEQ EL ATRASH, BEIRUT 2009

MOST PHOTOGRAPHERS I’VE MET HAVE AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE THINGS THEY PHOTOGRAPH. YOU SAY YOU LIVED BETWEEN AUSTRIA AND BEIRUT, AND YET (AND I MIGHT BE WRONG) I’VE NEVER SEEN YOU TAKE MUCH INTEREST IN AUSTRIA IN YOUR PHOTOS. HOW COME? When I left Lebanon at the age of 7 it was a big rupture for me. I didn’t want to leave, but circumstances back then in Lebanon were not easy, so we were forced to leave. I wasn’t happy at all during the first years in Austria, and I think this period of time affected me a lot. I kept on seeing images of Beirut in my mind and decided to go back as soon as possible. My childhood in Lebanon, despite the war, was a very happy one. HOW MUCH OF WHAT YOU DO IS YOUR THING, AND HOW MUCH OF IT IS COMMISSIONED? DO YOU FIND COMMISSIONED WORK INTERESTING ENOUGH? I would say it’s fifty-fifty, although I try to work more on my personal work than on commissioned jobs. Gladly, I have many interesting commissioned jobs but I must admit that I am being quite selective and sometimes it happens that I reject a job if it is completely against my style or way of working.

MAZEN KERBAJ, BEIRUT 2010

underground music scene of Beirut and slowly got more and more photos and bands in my archive.

YOU MOSTLY DO MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY, ALONGSIDE YOUR DOCUMENTARY BEIRUT STYLE. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THAT? AND WHY MUSIC?

What I love about music photography is that it’s very versatile, depending on the genre of music. When I take photos in a concert I’m, most of the time, diving into the music while photographing. Later on, while editing and treating the photos, I try to adjust the mood of colours and texture to the genre of music.

Music has always played an important role in my life. As a child, I used to browse through my dad’s vinyl collection and got introduced to all kinds of music at quite an early age. I don’t think there have been many days in my life without music, if any at all.

I NOTICED A LOT OF YOUR WORK IS SOMEWHAT SET UP, OR OF THE ARTISTS PLAYING MUSIC (OFTEN IN A SETUP OF SOME SORT). HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENTS? DO YOU HAVE A STUDIO OR DO YOU USE THEIR STUDIOS?

I started photographing musicians a few years back, while actually hanging out with some of the hip hop artists here in Beirut. They are friends of mine and I had just bought a camera and tried it out. A few weeks later I had the idea of documenting the alternative

I basically don’t set up the environments. When I shoot in concerts, at rehearsals, or during studio recording sessions, I cannot change the way things are set up. But sometimes when I take group shots during breaks, for example, or when bands or artists contact me for press

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photos, of course we try to set up something that suits their style. I have been told that my photos look quite set up, but mainly there is no big setup. I just like to work with what I have on spot, not only regarding environment or props, but also lighting. WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR WORK TO MOVE TOWARDS? YOU’VE GOT THE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY DOWN RIGHT NOW IN LEBANON (YOU’RE ALMOST THE ONLY NAME I ALWAYS HEAR WHEN I ASK FOR MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHS IN LEBANON) AND (MAYBE?) THE REGION. DO YOU FEEL THERE’S MORE IN THAT FOR YOU, OR DO YOU WANT TO VENTURE INTO NEW THINGS? I definitely want to explore music photography more, not only in Lebanon but perhaps also in other countries, not necessarily only in the Middle East. I am open for anything interesting coming my way, and very flexible. I think life passes too fast to allow oneself to get stuck in routine and boredom.


DJ SPLIFF, BEIRUT 2010

YOUR MORE ‘DOCUMENTARY’ WORK, THE BEIRUT CHRONICLES (COLLECTION 1983, BEIRUT AND I, I LOVE YOU TOO, ETC), HAS A VERY UNIQUE CHARACTER. HOW DO YOU GET INTO THAT, HOW DO YOU PICK YOUR SUBJECTS? These series have a very emotional background and concept to them. Mostly, it’s about past, childhood, love, loss, separation, etc. I must feel the subject/theme and relate to it in order to be able to shoot something that the viewer will be able to feel as well. For me, there is no point in creating a series of photographs without a, often subtle, story to them. I love subtlety, minimalism, and the biggest compliment someone can give me is that they spend more than just a few seconds looking at my photos, because there is more behind the actual image that you might discover when you look at it longer. WHY DON’T YOU DO MORE OF THAT SORT OF WORK?

I do, but I work a lot on the music series, which doesn’t leave much time for other things. Also, series like “I love you too” or “Collection 1983” come to my mind often by “coincidence”. I shot “Collection 1983” when I went to see an exhibition at that same place, instead of watching the exhibition I took photos of the walls of the place, which I found much more interesting. Interesting ideas often appear out of nowhere and evolve into something bigger. WRITERS FIND A LOT OF TIMES THEIR WORK (ESPECIALLY THE LESS DIRECT STUFF) IS OPEN TO INTERPRETATION IN A SURPRISING WAY. PEOPLE EXPLAIN THEIR WRITINGS IN A WAY THAT IS SOMETIMES UNUSUAL BUT INTERESTING. I’M SURE YOU MUST HAVE HAD THAT HAPPEN WITH YOUR WORK… HOW IS THAT FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER? DO YOU INTENTIONALLY CREATE WORK THAT SPARKS DEBATE? No, I don’t do that (intentionally). I don’t see

myself as a photojournalist or photographer of social matters, at least not in a direct way. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING PHOTOGRAPHERS, OR ESTABLISHED ONES THAT ARE STILL STRUGGLING TO FREELANCE? ANYTHING – FROM TECHNIQUE TO NETWORKING. Networking is very important, of course. Technique is important. Equipment might be important too. But the most important thing is to find out what you want from life, what you want to do in life, and to love what you do. And actually do what you love. Because, what’s the point of living something that doesn’t fulfill you? http://www.tanyatraboulsi.com http://tuesdays1530.tumblr.com


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CHARBEL HABER, TONY ELIEH, TAREK ATOUI, BEIRUT 2009

RAYESS BEK, BEIRUT 2009


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KATIBE 5, BEIRUT 2008


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FROM THE SERIES “TRACING SOULS”

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MASHROU’ LEILA, TRIPOLI 2010


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FROM THE SERIES “I LOVE YOU TOO”


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FASHION SHOOT

ANGELIKA BAKOU MODEL: GABRIELA ERICA GONZALEZ


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In a fashion milieu brimming with big brands and precise attention to what’s “in” at the moment, the beauty and art of fashion, styling, and dressing rarely seems appreciated. But one woman is out to make a change. With an entirely unique take on personalised shopping, and a collection of fashion masterpieces to rival fashion royalty, Judith Hanley has blessed the UAE with her bespoke dress-up experience, My Vintage Parlour. We chatted about her artistic background and inspiration as well as what led her to (graciously) grace us with vintage treasures. AS ONE OF THE FIRST VINTAGE SHOPS IN THE UAE, AND THE GULF REGION, YOU HAVE VENTURED INTO A VERY SPECIAL MARKET. HOW HAS THE REACTION BEEN THUS FAR? From private clients to stylists, to fashion editors and fashion bloggers, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. The fact that I’m consistently referred to as “the real-deal” and that Vintage Parlour is synonymous with authentic, quality vintage is extremely satisfying. DO YOU THINK THAT THE MARKET HERE HAS THE POTENTIAL TO ACCEPT AND PURSUE VINTAGE SHOPPING OVER RETAIL? ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING HOW THE UAE ESPECIALLY IS VERY FOCUSED ON BIG NAMES, BIG BRANDS, AND SO FORTH. Vintage Parlour’s concept is a milestone in the fashion landscape of the UAE. I like to say that we’re an antidote to the prolific disposable and designer. A vibrant market can’t just have the exclusivity of disposable or designer fashion, just as it can’t have solely vintage. A truly diverse

and expressive fashion scene should ideally be a combination of all. Vintage Parlour would not be thriving if the acceptance weren’t there. The UAE consumer seeks inimitability, and the uniqueness of vintage delivers that. WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET, AND WHO DO YOU IMAGINE TO WEAR YOUR PIECES? Women who desire unique, independent collections and have the confidence to stand out from a clone like fashion scene. I imagine clients wearing Vintage Parlour’s collections with individuality and irreverence, rather than a costume like homage. My clients, like myself, walk the line between vintage and the contemporarily relevant. WITH VINTAGE, SOME OF THE CHARM AND APPEAL EXISTS IN HOW EACH PIECE IS PRACTICALLY ONE OF A KIND AND HAS INCREDIBLE HISTORY AND CHARACTER. DO YOU THINK THAT CHARM WILL BE UNDERSTOOD HERE? A key aspect of Vintage Parlour’s concept is education, hence the bespoke service. A garments


FASHION history and the story are part of the distinctive allure of wearing vintage. When possible, during appointments, I discuss a garments provenance, be it the context in which it was first worn and how that translates in the silhouette and design. The one-of-a-kind feeling vintage evokes, in contrast to wearing a cookie-cut-out item of clothing, is sincerely valued by my clients.

an attentive eye in styling. I advise clients to bring to their appointment fail-safe contemporary items to embellish with vintage to cultivate a modern vintage look. Clients comment that the experience is in no way intimidating and liken it to a dressing up box! I will always maintain the bespoke service with the only expansion being Vintage Parlour’s collections!

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MOST SPECIAL PIECES?

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN VINTAGE PARLOUR?

At the moment, I have a penchant for 1940s day-to-evening dresses. Due to the war effort, fabric, trimmings and fittings were rationed (with exception of export garments), yet the construction techniques and methods were magnanimous. Austere times produced magnificently tailored garments with smooth lines adaptable to wear from morning through to evening.

My over indulgent wardrobe! I’m fortunate that I’ve arrived at a time in my life where I can be selfemployed and do what I sincerely love.

HOW EXACTLY DO YOU ACQUIRE YOUR PIECES?

THE WHOLE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE AT VINTAGE PARLOUR IS VERY PERSONALISED, CAN YOU EXPLAIN THIS FURTHER?

I collaborate exclusively with trusted authorities on vintage. I personally select premium vintage from premium sources, rather than a haphazard approach using wholesalers or vintage markets. The team I work with are highly specialized in terms of eras - meaning if I am seeking 1920s flapper dresses, I go to one authority. This method ensures authenticity and that collections are exceptional examples indicative of a particular period. I also select personally from private estates (literally someone’s cupboard!) where generations have meticulously maintained items previously worn. WHAT EXACTLY DOES YOUR COLLECTION CONSIST OF? WILL THE RANGE OF PRODUCTS BE EXPANDING OR WILL YOU CONTINUE SPECIALISE IN WOMEN’S CLOTHING? Vintage Parlour’s collections chronicle the iconic silhouettes from1900s Edwardian through to the late 1970s. Lust-have dresses from all eras past is Vintage Parlour’s signature. I will always specialize in streamlined collections showcasing covetable dresses, supplemented with kimonos, as well as coats and capes. HOW MANY PIECES DO YOU HAVE, AND ARE YOU INTERESTED IN INCREASING YOUR COLLECTION? Between my homes in Abu Dhabi and Australia, I have in excess of 500 pieces (as part of my personal archives and retail collection). It is bordering on the obscene, but what’s sold is always replaced with an equally covetable piece. I’m always communicating with my team of international collectors to keep collections current. FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND, YOU CURRENTLY SHOWCASE THESE PIECES PRIVATELY, TO INDIVIDUALS OR GROUPS OF UP TO 4. CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THIS AND WHY YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO OPERATE IN THIS MANNER RATHER THAN OPEN A SHOP? DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO EXPAND TO A SHOP IN THE FUTURE? There are different vintage experiences reflected in the merchandise held by the store. Vintage Parlour’s collections are premium vintage requiring

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DO YOU SELL ONLINE, OR ONLY IN YOUR SHOP? Vintage Parlour is available exclusively through one-on-one bespoke appointments.

Vintage Parlour’s bespoke appointment service returns to the personalized, customer focused approach. Part of the experience is guiding clients on wearing unique vintage garments styled in a contemporary way. Another aspect is sizing, as in the past the female form was proportionally smaller than today. Each garment in Vintage Parlour’s collection is referenced according to its bust, waist and hip measurements, which are then matched to the clients. Prior to an appointment I handpick looks based not only on the client’s measurements, but also their unique brief. I see fashion and dressing, an art form and this is reflected in Vintage Parlour’s personalized approach. WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR PERSONAL FASHION/ STYLE INSPIRATIONS? With an art background, my inspirations are wildly vast and are derived from not only art, but also music, film and naturally, fashion. The opulent artwork of Aubrey Beardsley, irreverent Edie Sedgwick, the provocateur Mae West, legendary and fearless fashion editor Diana Vreeland, to the high priestess of eccentricity Marchesa Casati. Ever one to do the unexpected, my personal style never remains static. Visit www.myvintageparlour.com or call Judith at +97150 550 4249 for a private appointment.


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FILM

NO FLIPPING: THE GENIUS OF

THE

LARRY SANDERS SHOW

PRANK

MOODY

The last three months have facilitated prolific cultural consumption in order to try and appease my insatiable appetite. It has been an orgy of film, music, literature and pop/web culture. Alas, all good things must come to an end, in this case a temporary cease and desist due to a small internship-shaped bend in the road. Nevertheless during these glorious three months I successfully made a dent in my rather large “must watch/listen/ read” list. So in a pleasant change of pace in my short relationship with quint I will glorify instead of decry, cheer instead of jeer, applaud instead of ridicule, you get my point. Do not worry there will be plenty of ranting and raging against 90% of all the trite rubbish that we will be exposed involuntarily during the course of 2011 like The Green Lantern, Thor, chick flicks and whatever Saw film they are on, is it 9? On the flip side we will also bathe in the brilliance of The Coen Brothers’ True Grit, Terence Malick’s Tree of Life, and the finale of The Harry Potter series. So for this inaugural issue of 2011 I will tackle a problematic and vast genre, the Television comedy. The Television comedy is problematic because comedy as an idea is so difficult to translate i.e. it’s so specific to certain people. Different people find different things funny. Slapstick, Satire (one of my personal favourites) and Screwball are just a few of the styles that occupy this territory. I mean people found The Jeff Foxworthy show funny (make of that reference what you will). Another factor that makes it hard to germinate any kind of general discussion of comedy is

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the sheer vastness of the genre. In my opinion there is an underlying invisible comedic hierarchy that dwarfs a lot of good content out there. Shows like Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond and The Office (US) overwhelm the rest of the shows out there because of their abundant availability across multiple platforms (DVD box sets, numerous channels, online streaming sites). Keeping these thoughts in mind I now turn my attention to a 90s show of absolute brilliance that did not receive the widespread acclaim it deserved. I know you are expecting a typical rant of how good content never gets the appreciation it deserves, so for the sake of time let’s just assume that as a given. There are other pertinent reasons why this show was relegated to cult icon instead of universal adulation because it was on HBO (cable) so it didn’t get the distribution required and it was competing with Seinfeld, Friends, Fraiser, Everybody loves Raymond… shows that defined 90s mainstream television. However I would like to throw Larry Sander’s proverbial hat in the ring and nominate it as a show that defined 90s television as well as served as the template for future comic genius. If you have already seen The Larry Sanders show then I applaud you and suggest you revisit it because you can never have enough of a good thing… just ask the morbidly obese. The Larry Sanders Show which ran for 6 years on HBO (they have produced every great show in the last 20 years, their track record is

absolutely phenomenal) from August 1992 till May 1998 centres around the vain and neurotic late night talk show host (in the vein of Leno and Letterman but better) Larry Sanders. Larry is played brilliantly by Garry Shandling, the show’s creator and producer, in a subtle and fine performance that reeked of neurosis and awkwardness. However as fine as Shandling’s portrayal of the high-maintenance and overtly insecure Sanders is, he is completely overshadowed by Rip Torn’s brilliant turn as Larry’s always-in-control producer Arthur. Even surpassing this performance is the always brilliant Jeffrey Tambor as Larry’s awkward, neurotic and just plain weird side-kick Hank “Hey Now” Kingsley. Until I had been introduced to the demented Hank Kingsley I equated Jeffrey Tambor as George Sr. from my favourite television comedy of all time… Arrested Development. However Tambor’s performance is brilliant in its cringe-induction as he raises the discomfort level to new heights. You can only watch in awe-struck horror as he pushes, stumbles and destroys the boundaries of accepted social awkwardness. Besides these stellar performance the Larry Sanders show fostered and promoted a lot of young comic talent, Jeremy Piven, Janeane Garofalo, Judd Apatow who was a consulting producer, writer and director on the show and Jon Stewart just to name a few. The visual style propagates the idea that we are privy to the mechanics of running a late night talk show. As well as


getting an in-depth behind the scenes glimpse into the private moments of Larry Sanders and his staff as well as what the celebrity guests are like in “real life”. The show employs a whole host of celebrities playing extended caricatures of themselves, for example when David Duchovny professes his attraction to Larry. The final aspect of this show that qualifies it into the 90s television hall of fame is its self-reflexivity. The show’s content comments on and depicts the media landscape of the 90s, evidence of this can be seen in Larry’s nightly monologue, the guests that he has on his show and, well, some of the ridiculous fashion. If you were lucky or clever enough to have watched the show during the 90s then the relevance factor of the show would have risen exponentially. I would go as far as to say that it would make this the most relevant show of the 90s because like any late night talk show it dealt with daily occurrences of that time. Watching the show now invoked a sense of nostalgia. One gets to relive the hype surrounding the phenomenal rise to prominence of one Sharon “Basic Instinct” Stone. My personal trigger of waves of overwhelming nostalgia were set off when Larry introduces his eclectic range of musical guests on the show like The Butthole Surfers (remember them?) and even Michael “Can I touch you there” Bolton. These are the main reasons that make The Larry Sanders show and iconic piece of television, I intentionally have not described the show in too much detail because I believe it is more effective

when there is an air of uncertainty on what to expect. The show has the set the standard and inspired many of today’s quality comedy shows. Ricky Gervais has cited on numerous occasions that The Larry Sanders show was a huge inspiration and this is evident in the awkwardness in The Office and absurd celebrity caricatures in Extras. 30 Rock, Modern Family, Arrested Development, Undeclared, Freaks and Geeks all have shades of Larry in them whether it is as narrative style, visual style, larger than life characters soaked in idiocy, or scathing absurdist satire of Hollywood and Network Television. It is a unique and original show that deserves all the critical acclaim and lavish praise that it has received over the years. The Larry Sanders show kick started the HBO revolution as well as provided an alternative foil to the domineering network sitcom. It should be watched because it quite simply is a piece of defining televisual content that, although identified as the grungy love child of the 90s, is timeless.


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Nicki MINAj

PINK FRIDAY

RAP HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT MALE DOMINANCE AND POWER. FROM BIGGIE SMALLS TO EMINEM, COUNTLESS MALE RAPPERS HAVE ESTABLISHED THE GENRE AS THEIR OWN. IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME UNTIL WOMEN DECIDED TO TAKE PART AND START MARKING THEIR TERRITORY.

BY WAEL X


MUSIC

Salt N’ Pepa, a female rap duo, started in 1985 and sold millions of records worldwide. The duo disbanded in 1999. Queen Latifah joined in 1989 until 2002. She completely abandoned rap and became a singer/actress. L’il Kim and Foxy Brown (well known rap rivals) followed in 1996. Kim released her latest album in 2005 whilst in prison. Brown practically disappeared from the map despite releasing an album in 2008. Lauryn Hill…uhm... you get the point. You would think that the chances are slim for a new comer to survive in such a dying pattern – but guess what? quint’s lady of interest this issue is in it to win it. “I am not Jasmine, I am Aladdin. So far ahead, these bums is laggin’. See me in that new thing, bums is gaggin’, I’m startin’ to feel like a dungeon dragon.” – Roman Zolanski Meet Roman: a British gay boy who is known to be viciously mean and angry. He is probably the most interesting pseudo-character in hip-hop right now. Roman is one of the many doppelgangers of hip-hop’s new reigning Queen, Onika Maraj, otherwise known for her controversial stage name, Nicki Minaj (“Ménage à trois”, get it?). Posing as a triple threat to her fellow Femcees, Minaj is armed with wit, multiple personalities and styles, and decent vocals (she’s no Whitney though)! As a matter of fact, Nicki is not in the rap game to compete with just the girls, she’s after the guys as well.

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“IN THIS VERY MOMENT I’M KING THIS VERY MOMENT I SLAY GOLIATH WITH A SLIGN, THIS VERY MOMENT I BRING PUT IT ON EVERYTHING THAT I WILL RETIRE WITH THE RING AND I WILL RETIRE WITH THE CROWN”

(“Moment for Life”, Pink Friday) It might be difficult to believe that a 25-yearold female rapper can outdo established and successful emcees such as Jay Z and Kanye West on a hip-hop record. Minaj, however, was featured on West’s G.O.O.D Fridays single “Monster”, and was able to effortlessly outshine her collaborators (Jay Z, Kanye West and Rick Ross) by a clear mile. “So let me get this straight wait I’m the rookie/ but my features and my shows ten times your pay/50k for a verse/no album out!” Nicki throws digs (at L’il Kim?) on “Monster” and continues to say “But really really I don’t give a F-U-C-K/ forget Barbie/f-ck Nicki she’s fake/she’s on a diet but my pockets eating cheesecake/and I’ll say boy the Chucky is Child’s play/just killed another career it’s a mild day.” She isn’t playing. “Monster”, although originally a non-album track, led to a lot of critical acclaim and attention and ended up making the cut on West’s latest hit album, My Dark Twisted Fantasy. Inevitably, every success is followed by drama. “All females that come in the game, we need to stick together but what happens is they


MUSIC

come in the game and realize that I’m not going away and my fans are still here and that they can’t just step over me. Then they kind of like get upset and they don’t want to be my friend anymore. I think that that’s really childish, you know. All I ask for is respect and I show you the same respect and that you pay homage at the end of the day. A lot of things go on behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t know about and it will be aired out because you can’t hide the truth…” – L’il Kim in an interview on Kendra G’s radio show. A day after Minaj’s album, Pink Friday, was released; L’il Kim released a ‘diss’ track entitled “Black Friday”: “It’ll be a murder scene/I’m turning Pink Friday to Friday the 13th” threatens furious Kim. She continues: “I’m the blueprint you ain’t nothing brand new/sweetie, you going on your 14th minute of fame/I’m over 10 years strong still running the game/cut the comparisons/I’m in the legendary lane”. You get the picture. This aggressive track was in reply to Minaj’s “Roman’s Revenge”, a brutal record where she allegedly throws jabs at L’il Kim. Personally, I think that despite calling Minaj childish, Kim’s reaction to her is childish in itself. Why would you compromise your position and status as queen in your own right by stooping to this level and quarrelling with a new comer who is clearly inspired by you? In any case, the media definitely played a big role in twisting facts, fueling and fabricating lies to feed from this rather entertaining feud. The question remains though: is there a point behind this quarrel? MTV.com’s Chris Yuscavage sees the beef between the two rapstresses as a “good” thing! In a segment entitled “Nicki Minaj Vs. Lil’ Kim: 10 Reasons Their Beef Is Good”, Yuscavage views the dispute as healthy competition that benefits Minaj, Kim and their fans. L’il Kim has been M.I.A. from recording as she was occupied with “Dancing with the Stars” and was automatically brought back to the studio as a result. According to him, [it] drives needed attention to female emcees and drives existing ones to “step up their game”.

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Despite the drama, Minaj was determined to stay focused on her career, especially at this junior stage. And so she did.

hear them mumblin’/I hear the cacklin’/I got ‘em scared/shook, panickin’/overseas, church, Vatican/you at a stand, still, mannequin.”

By 2010, Minaj has released three mix tapes and was featured on 46 hit singles collaborating with big names like Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera and many more.

“Did It On ’em” is another A-song on the 13-track album. Produced by Mr. Bangladesh, Minaj continues to talk about how she “did it” on her competition and positions her self in a separate league.

It was only in November that she released an album of her own that sold more than 300,000 copies in its first week debuting at number two on the charts, making it the second highest selling female rap album ever (Lauryn Hill’s “Misseducation of Lauryn Hill” was the first). Released on November 22nd, Pink Friday was certified Gold shortly after its release. While it might be commercially successful, fans were stunned to realise that the album is more of a pop record than anything. The album opens with “I’m The Best” which is an average production by Kane Beats (L’il Wayne, Lupe Fiasco) and has Nicki talk about her rugged rap journey in the past three years. The album takes a shock surge with the second track, “Roman’s Revenge”, minimally produced by the Swiss Beatz, and perhaps the most groundbreaking hip-hop record of 2010. The track features Eminem who uses, along with Minaj, his alter ego the infamous Slim Shady. “Ruhh Ruhh, like a dungeon dragon” they shout in the chorus. She continues confidently, “I

Beyond this point, the album slows down with “Right Thru Me” and “Save Me”. These tracks show Nicki’s rather vulnerable side and relationship demands. With “Fly” (ft. Rihanna), “Moment for Life” (ft. Minaj’s stage husband, Drake) and “Blazin’” (ft. Kanye West), she turns to appreciating her accomplishments and cherishing the present success. In “Dear Old Nicki”, Minaj pens an emotional letter to her old self, yearning for her return. “My only wish is you come enjoy it with me/ get on them conference calls/go meet them lawyers with me” she pleads. Despite being instrumentally poor, Pink Friday is salvaged by Nicki’s vivacious voices, sharp jousting and on-point flows. While it is not her best work to date, Pink Friday proved to the world that Minaj has got a unique and unmatched style, and all the right tools to stay in the rap game and win it.


Highlight tracks “ROMAN’S REVENGE”, “DID IT ON ’EM”, “SAVE ME”, “MOMENT FOR LIFE”, “BLAZIN’”, “DEAR OLD NICKI”

TRACKS TO SKIP

“CHECK IT OUT”, “YOUR LOVE”, AND “LAST CHANCE”.

Nicki’s Top 5 Bars “IF YOU COULD TURN BACK TIME, CHER, YOU USED TO BE HERE NOW YOU’RE GONE, NAIR.” – “DID IT ON ’EM”, PINK FRIDAY “CAUSE MY FLOW’S STUPID, WHEELCHAIR BOUND, TAKE THE SMALL BUS ALL YEAR ROUND”- “JUMPOFF”, PLAYTIME IS OVER MIXTAPE “I CATCH WRECK ON RECREATION, SO I EXCEED ALL YOUR EXPECTATIONS, BECAUSE I GOT IT IN ‘EM, I KILL ‘EM AND THEN I SKIN ‘EM, THE CONTRACT WAS SIGNED BUT I AM THE ADDENDUM” – “BLAZIN’”, PINK FRIDAY “I’M ON THAT DIFFERENT TYPE OF HIGH, HEROIN, PUT ON MY CAPE AND HIT THE SKY, HEROINE!” – “BLAZIN’”, PINK FRIDAY “I’M STILL HOOD, HOLLYWOOD COULDN’T CHANGE ME, SHOUT OUT TO MY HATERS, SORRY THAT YOU COULDN’T FAZE ME” – “MOMENT FOR LIFE”, PINK FRIDAY


MUSIC

by zaina shreidi PHOTOGRAPHY BY TANYA TRABOULSI ROCKER, DJ, CLUB OWNER, PARTY ORGANISER, HUMANITARIAN, CULTURED, INTERNATIONAL, AND RIDICULOUSLY TALENTED, JADE IS AN ICON IN THE MIDDLE EAST MUSIC SCENE. WHETHER YOU’VE EXPERIENCED HIS MIND-BLOWING SETS AT THE BASEMENT IN BEIRUT OR HERE IN DUBAI, OR SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE, JADE IS KNOWN FOR HIS ALL CONSUMING PASSION FOR MUSIC AND HIS UNIQUE ABILITY TO MAKE EVERY SET THE GREATEST YOU’VE EVER HEARD. WE CAUGHT UP WITH JADE FOR A CHAT ABOUT WHERE HE’S BEEN, WHERE HE’S GOING, AND WHAT HE’S JAMMING.

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MUSIC HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN MAKING MUSIC? (HOW DID IT ALL START?) I’ve been doing music as a hobby since I was in school, played with different bands, until BLEND (my last band) got signed. I started DJing since 99 (it was a side job while i was still in college) then more seriously as of 2002. HOW WAS THE TRANSITION FROM SINGING WITH BLEND TO DJ’ING? DID THE TWO OVERLAP? During the time i was recording the album with Blend, i had no income.. so DJing was perfect cause it didn’t interfere with my studio time, and I had the whole day free for myself to make music. They were complementary actually, they didn’t overlap at all... But at the end, one took over the other.

WHAT KIND OF CHALLENGES, HINDRANCES HAVE YOU FACED AS A MUSICIAN? Choices, compromises. Dropping everything and not being part of the system. But then again, it keeps me going. WHAT GENRE DO YOU CLASSIFY YOURSELF UNDER, IF ANY? Neo-post-neurotic-retro-futuristicavant-garde-pop... mainly… WHAT INSPIRES YOU, OR DRIVES YOU TO GO IN CERTAIN DIRECTIONS, MUSICALLY? The concerts I watch, the music I listen to (which is mainly NOT electronic dance music), the many magazines and books I read, and of course everyday life.

IS THE PROCESS VERY DIFFERENT? In many ways, yes. There’s much more creativity and intensity involved with performing live on stage, singing, playing in instruments - even if I compare it to many situations where i DJed for a crowd of thousands... The adrenaline is high, definitely, but nothing to be compared with making music and playing it live. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE MUSIC SCENE IN LEBANON? THE REGION? Let’s say I’m glad we have something happening in Beirut, and it’s expanding somehow around us, reaching the neighboring countries. There’s much more diversity in Dubai though, and I love that, but more constraints.. WHERE HAVE YOU PLAYED IN THE REGION AND AROUND THE WORLD? Hard to say, being part of a booking agency in Berlin took me to many places in Europe starting from Berlin (watergate, sage, rechenzentrum..) to Moscow, Milano, Vienna, Malta, Prague, Sardenia, Bratislava, Copenhagen, Bilbao, London, Rome, Palermo... and of course i play regularly in the region: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Damascus, Amman.. I did Doha too.. and also New Delhi, Agadir in Morocco.. HOW DO YOU COMPARE THE SCENE IN THE REGION TO OTHER COUNTRIES? I am not good at comparisons.. but in other countries, the competition is more healthy... here it’s more political and it’s a turn off.

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HAVE YOU ALWAYS RECEIVED SUPPORT FROM PEOPLE AROUND YOU, CLUBGOERS, ETC WHEN YOU DJ? I guess so... but it doesn’t come for free. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR A DJ TO DO: EDUCATE THE MASSES WITH NEW MUSIC OR PLAY WHAT THEY ALREADY LOVE TO GET THEM DANCING? I’m no Jesus Christ or a preacher…so the trick is to “select properly” from the stuff “you” like that would make “them” dance. And if the formula doesn’t work, then change your environment, and if this doesn’t work either, then change your vocation. YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN A LOT OF CHARITY PROJECTS, LIKE MINIMAL RESISTANCE, CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE VARIOUS PROJECTS YOU’VE UNDERTAKEN? Every Christmas Eve, after midnight, we have a massive gathering at The Basement called “Christmas Is Not For Us” - and the idea is to bring your own alcohol and drop a donation in a box that is owned by a foundation (Children Against Cancer, AlYounbouh, etc.) and the vibe is magic. WHAT WERE THE PURPOSES OF THESE PROJECTS, AND WERE THEY SUCCESSFUL? I cannot ignore what’s happening around me, and I try to spread the positive vibes, as much as I can, and with the means that I have. So whenever I have the occasion I


organize fundraisers. It started in 2006 and since then it’s been a success. The idea is to think of others, and enjoy our time while doing it, and the feeling you get is extremely positive. YOU LIVED IN CANADA FOR A WHILE, CORRECT? I’M SURE YOU GET THIS QUITE A BIT, BUT WHAT MADE YOU COME BACK TO LEBANON AFTER LIVING ABROAD? I left Lebanon after my graduation in 2000, and I did this mainly to pursue my passion, as the scene was nonexistent at that time... Then, strangely enough, my college band got a record deal with EMI because they sent out a demo we had recorded together during a visit to Beirut. So basically, what I left for, ended up happening in Beirut, so of course I came back with no hesitation. LEBANON IS QUITE POLITICAL, IN THE MANY TIMES OF STRUGGLE AND UNCERTAINTY, DID MUSIC PLAY ANY KIND OF ROLE FOR YOU OR THOSE AROUND YOU? In our parties, there are people of all kinds, beliefs, etc. So there you go. MUSIC HAS OFTEN BEEN POLITICAL, OR ANTI-POLITICAL, THROUGHOUT THE YEARS. HAS YOUR MUSIC (WITH BLEND OR AS A DJ) OR ANY OF YOUR VARIOUS PROJECTS TACKLED POLITICAL SUBJECTS? Blend, and the album “Act One” had a lot of anti-fanatic messages (political and religious) and tackled different social issues.

in 2006 (kick ass warehouse party, electricity went off for 40 minutes and all the people stayed) and Distant Heat Festival 2010 in Aqaba, Jordan (beautiful energy, amazing vibe, great venue). YOU STARTED BASEMENT CLUB IN BEIRUT, AND IT HAS SINCE BECOME A LANDMARK FOR MUSIC LOVERS IN THE REGION... WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO CLOSE IT DOWN? They’re tearing down the building. And it’s about time to start something new, fresh. ARE THERE PLANS FOR ANOTHER CLUB IN THE FUTURE? Yep, and it will open mid-2011. And it’s more versatile, and more live-oriented, more eclectic (which represents me more). CLEARLY YOU ARE MULTI-TALENTED WHEN IT COMES TO MUSIC, ARE YOU INVOLVED OR INTERESTED IN ANY OTHER ARTS? I watch and collect movies; I think if I sucked as a DJ I would’ve tried to become a director or an actor. WHO DO YOU ADMIRE OR WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU MUSICALLY? Mainly I like Tool, Jeff Buckley, Joy Division, Nine Inch Nails... to name a few IN THE MUSIC SCENE TODAY, WHO DO YOU ADMIRE OR RESPECT? This week, LCD Soundsystem is playing in my car. James Murphy rocks.

WHAT IS THE STANCE YOU HAVE TAKEN?

FINALLY, CAN YOU GIVE US A LIST OF SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE TRACKS?

It was more of a “I don’t want to care about politics and religion”.

My most played track this week is Portishead: Only You (Roseland NYC Live)

WHO ARE SOME OF THE PEOPLE YOU’VE WORKED WITH, DJS, BAND MEMBERS, ETC? (LOCAL, REGIONAL, FRIENDS, FAMOUS, ETC) Many. I just finished a remix for Placebo (with Diamond Setter), and the band loves it. WHERE HAVE YOU PLAYED RECENTLY, AND WHAT WERE YOU’RE FAVOURITE GIGS? Apart from my gigs at The Basement, in Beirut (like the warm up for Ferry Corsten), I’ve done Malta, Amman, Abu Dhabi, Damascus, Dubai in November/December. My most memorable gigs were: Privat, Milano

Catch Jade at some of his upcoming gigs: Jan 14 Damascus (Syria) Jan 23 Yerevan (Armenia) Jan 29 Nicosia (Cyprus) March 18 Vienna (Austria) Check out Jade’s tracks on Beatport (artist name is Jade Suaid aka Jade). For more information visit Jade’s website www.ihatejade.me (to be launched in February) or his facebook page www.facebook.com/jadeyourself


MUSIC

Art and specifically music is the embodiment of ideas projected into our eardrums, evoking emotions, sparking long lost memories, and providing instant gratification to its users. Music is simply an inspiration for the brain to flash mental pictorial memories. I always find a good song and composition can propel me back to another time in my life, or some whimsical fantasy lying deep within the creative hemispheres. With so much art being chewed and regurgitated in the world, it’s often hard to find new ways of producing original music.

is cursing mainstream media. It has been 3 years since a much-awaited third release by Neverending White Lights, so against all forms of patience, I have decided to review Act II: The Blood and the Life Eternal album.

Much the same as the ideas driving quint magazine, Neverending White Lights is a collaboration of artists with an underlying theme: the people may change but the art medium will stay the same. It’s a concept that exposes many artistic styles through contribution, constantly changing into a very enjoyable and refreshing musical beast.

If you’re looking for the perfect album to relate to during a hard break up, or a particularly emotional memory that you have surely encountered, then this is definitely the album for you. The melodies and voicing composed by Victor are haunting. Generally the lyrics speak to the heartbroken wandering soul, but the lyrical poetry can be taken in many different ways, at any rate it can be enjoyed by pretty much every human being walking the planet. This is very edible art and I suggest you grab a spoon and dig in. This album rates high on the Trev meter and I guess that’s why I’ve taken the time to sit down and tell you a bit about it. I will go straight for the jugular: This album is beyond a download. If you happen to find a copy of this in the Middle East, do not pass up the opportunity to add it to your collection. You will not be disappointed!

Neverending White Lights is the brainchild of Canadian born Daniel Victor. The idea is that the vocalists will change throughout the album but the musical style will stay the same. To Neverending White Lights’ credit, the albums composed are unlike anything that

As a follow up album to his almost purely ballad based Act I: Goodbye Friends of the Heavenly Bodies, Neverending White Lights offers a bit more optimism than the first album. There are a few moments on the disc where you feel a sense of hope at listening to the almost pop rock radio

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tunes. I hate to admit I just wrote that as a good thing, but there is only so much melancholy one can withstand before breaking into full on tears, especially with the talent and haunt of the guest vocalists. The album addresses themes of loss and the afterlife, heartbreak and separation, which are no small subjects to cover artistically. If you address the order in which the songs are organised you can see a progression dealing with loss through death, break up and eventually the hope and renewal that comes as a result of acceptance of loss. The opening ballads remind the listener that people change and move on, that loss will come and go; but we as emotional living beings should never forget that we have a beautiful life worth leading. The song, “Dove Coloured Sky” is a call to remember that life goes on, and is a bumpy and sometimes distasteful ride toward the grand picture called Life: “Bound to fall/we call our angels down... some of us change/some of us grow so strange.” Themes from relationship struggles encompass the middle of the album, and I am dead sure that there isn’t a human being on the planet that hasn’t gone through some kind of emotional loss at the hands of another human being. “The World is Darker” paints a pessimistic view that humans will, by nature, allow their own insecurities to become monsters and


murders of relationships, buyer beware: “Watch your back if your heart is weeping/ watch your heart if your back is bleeding/ well, it’s only lonely souls I’m after/the heart is dark but the world is darker.” The stages of emotional well-being are well documented and follow a certain pattern toward betterment. One of these stages is anger and this usually follows its bedfellow, denial. Neverending White Lights, Act II, follows a very similar structure. By far the angriest song of the album is “The Warning”, and at the current moment in my life it’s like therapy for me. Sadly there is a feeling of release through penning a particularly biting set of lyrics or a long bloodletting email to that certain Valentine: “I let the virus bite someone else’s brain/I invade you now/I fade you out/I made you now/I erase you now...your cuts will drain your heart away/take someone else’s life away/someone else’s life away.” The highlight of this album lies within the tracks “Black is the Colour of my True Love’s Heart” and “Bleeds to an End”. The mood of each song is so sombre it could very well bring the listener to tears. The haunting female vocals in “Black is the Colour of my True Love’s Heart” coupled with the lyrics is almost more than most human beings can handle. Lexi Valentine of the Canadian all girl rock band, Magneta Lane matches Victor’s tone perfectly, but it’s the lyrics that drive the

song through your heart. I will sum this up with one stanza from the poetry, “Take this breath For the lives we waste For the hollow souls we own Give me hope For a restless heart Where we’ll go no one will follow, close I swear to god I only fall apart.” In case that was manageable, the final blow of sheer despair comes in a haunting solo ballad by Victor in “Bleeds to an End”. For some strange reason, being in love is the only emotion that is a direct result of another human being. Human beings can control and have every other emotion except love independently. The strongest, most addicting, and longest lasting emotion of love is also the hardest emotion to handle both in times of bliss and heartbreak. We’ve all been there before, and we’ve all longed to go back to that rush of euphoria another person can bring to our lives, the fall out is nothing short of nuclear. Neverending White Lights does a fantastic job of reminding us how breaking up is exactly like the bleeding of one’s heart: “From this place the world caves in A lasting heart I can’t seem to understand And now you’re away when I come to

I know its strength I need to hold you close and take us back again.... Don’t you wait till, you wait till it all bleeds to an end.” The rest of the album tries it’s best to cheer you up, but to be honest there is no comeback from the previous two songs; there of course exists an essential survival tool engrained in the soul of each human being, hope.


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LAZZY LUNG STANDS OUT IN LEBANON AS BEING NOT OF THE FOLD. SOME WOULD SAY THEY ARE NOT EVEN A LEBANESE BAND, AND THEY MIGHT BE RIGHT. INITIALLY THE BRAINCHILD AND PSEUDONYM OF LEBANESE CANADIAN VOCALIST AND GUITARIST ALLAN CHAARAOUI, LAZZY LUNG HAS OUTGROWN THE MAN INTO A BAND OF FOUR TALENTED INDIVIDUALS WRITING LYRICS AND MUSIC THAT APPEALS TO A MASS OF PEOPLE IN A GLOBAL SOCIETY.

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MUSIC Unlike their Beirut contemporaries, they do not try to create sounds that are fitting to local trends within the art scene, with Allan proudly proclaiming his band as commercially oriented. He halts, rephrasing himself: “We were trying to produce a commercial album. Still, all the money earned from the band, not a single member has seen a dime of. It goes back into making the album, building the band. We have a strong business conscience, and so we might seem commercial.” It is clear that their music is not part of the traditionally experimental postmodern incarnation of dubious sounding unique tunes of the Lebanese musical pillars. Instead, they play short, raw, sometimes improvised songs at live shows, when they disperse their signature light-hearted comedy in between. The band really came to be a “very long time ago”, but it was still only in Allan’s head until he moved to Beirut from Ottawa in 2006 only to be rushed out because of the war and re-located in Jordan. He spent that period writing the music to the lyrics that would accompany them later. Moving back to Lebanon in 2008, he began scoping out the local underground scene, and that’s when he began to meet the band that is today Lazzy Lung. It started with Patrick, Ian, and Nader Naim, two members that have since left the band. Patrick hasn’t. He was the guitarist then and remained, while the bassist and drummer have been replaced: Imad and Hadi, came later, in time for the first album. They formed the band early in 2010 and began to compose their first album. They called the album Strange Places, recording it at MixDown Studios. Allan talks about the work done by the band members and their producer, Karim Sinno. “This first album was a concept album. It tells one story.” Strange Places talks about Allan: his arrival to Lebanon, the 2006 war, the hardships of long distance relationships, the “kind of in-between phase of not really knowing what’s going on... just personal experiences and blah blah blah put to music.” Still, he admits that although it was a very egocentric production, it was a collaboration. The band members put their own touch to it and Karim was a major influence: “[he] is very, very professional and very, very meticulous and cleaned us up big-time. I tend to enjoy the kinda lower-fi sound and find that the music really does it. Karim was like ‘in order to make you serious contenders, you have to make your music… solid; strong.’ Karim really helped craft our sound to what it is.” The new material, unlike the old, is done in a different way: “we are trying to introduce a more upbeat sound; some sort of nonelectronic dance rock. We jam out the songs and I still have to kind of have an important role, lyrically. We can’t just have music done and I put lyrics to it. I can’t write to music.” Their sound is undoubtedly unlike anything else in Lebanon, and Allan is uncomfortable comparing Lazzy Lung to other artists, locally or internationally. He finds his genre to be almost unique to the band: “I love the energy that

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comes out of punk. I’m a big fan of folk music.” So he tries to merge the two with an element of rock to create the final tone of the playful band. Their playfulness, however, only really shows in their shows: while the songs themselves are serious and carry a consistent sound (something Allan promised will not happen on their second album), their true pleasure and joy come from their live shows. With Allan telling jokes and hitting on the ladies while suggesting everyone drink some more, there is synergy between band and crowd that creates a genuine, positive feel to the entire experience. Comparing Lazzy Lung’s rise to icons Scrambled Eggs, Mashrou3 Leila, Zeid Hamdan, and Ziad Nawfal, as well as The Incompetents, Allan finds the struggle of bringing his band to the forefront not having been initially supported by these collectives,

a group of like-minded artists that, seemingly, “rejected him as too commercial”. He insists they want to play with every band out there, regardless of their styles, while the established underground scene tends to place bands in categorical manifestations of limitations. He finds that constricting. Despite his persistence to merge his music with bands like Mashrou3 Leila, it seems difficult to imagine the music he plays alongside the more localised experimental sounds of other bands in Lebanon. Lazzy Lung tries really hard to stand out while wanting to be in the mix. It is headed by a man who understands music not from the perspective of his local community, but from the Ottawacentric attitude he learnt at a young age. It is completed by a group of fresh, impressively talented musicians who have yet to find their


voice in a still very young band. Their desire to explore the world of underground music in Lebanon does not fit their status, their direction, or their composition. But Allan is persistent, and continues to work on expanding the band’s exposure. Most visible and impressive in Lazzy Lung’s strive to make it, is their struggle with local radio stations. Allan was particularly specific: “I’m really disappointed with local radio because they’re turning down local talent that have a good vibe. You know, people listen to them but they’re choosing this mass overplayed – you can’t listen to local radio here without hearing the same song over and over.” This is definitely an issue that Allan intends on pushing forward to resolution, and it is an issue that other Lebanese and Arab bands should take up with their local stations. It is frustrating

that most non-Arabic musical creations in almost all Arab countries get almost no airtime, and this should change. Wrapping up, Allan spoke of how he writes music and lyrics: “I write whatever comes to mind. Tracks like ‘X-Box Ate my Cat’: it’s by far nothing like [the first album]. ‘Whine and Dine’ is still a creation in the mix. What I wanna do is build the song gradually – to kind of show the creative process and the change that will take effect.” This is definitely something that Lazzy Lung can do to further position itself in the Lebanese musical art scene while continuing to succeed as a commercial, mainstream music band. With their upcoming release of “Sex and Pirates” as a single, and gigs in the most unusual setups across the country and the

region (like their opening for Rednex, the group behind hit single Cotton Eye Joe, at the end of summer 2010 and their touring with Nemr Abou Nassar in the UAE at the end of December 2010), the band that tries to be loosely inspired by the Foo Fighters, the Tokyo Police Club, and the local Scrambled Eggs had one final say on their overall approach to music: “Being a flashy musician is not what it’s all about, it’s about the overall sound. If it doesn’t have a hook, fucking, it’s not [sic]. We like to write music that keeps you tapping your feet and like… there are memorable melodies. That’s the important thing. Some songs out there are very lyrically focused. The last thing I [personally] focus on is lyrics. Now I’m trying to write.”


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GREETINGS AND SALUTATIONS, DEAR READERS, AND A VERY WARM WELCOME TO QUINT’S THE MUSIC SECTION. HERE THE TEAM AND I WILL ENDEAVOR TO BRING YOU NEW MUSIC, OL OBSCURE MUSIC. THE GUIDE LINE IS SIMPLE, IT’S JUS

SINCE THIS IS SUCH A MOMENTOUS OCCASION, AND IT’S A JAN ISSUE OF ALL THINGS, HOW C OF YEAR LIST? WE HAVE TO HAVE ONE, AND OURS IS SUPERIOR! FOR A VERY SIMPLE REASON ROLLING STONE/NME LIST. THIS IS NOT ABOUT RATING AN ALBUM 8.3 (WHAT ON EARTH STICKING TO THE MOST SOUL-LESS PLAIN COMMERCIAL MUSIC (DRAKE , ROLLING STONES, R RANKED LIST. EVEN THOUGH I PERSONALLY HAVE MY OWN RANKINGS AND A #1 RECORD OF THE IN THE CONCLUSION OF PART 2 OF THE SERIES), THAT’S MY RANKING. IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, GIVING YOU A SPREAD OF GREAT MUSIC THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE O

I’LL BE FRANK, I SIMPLY SPEND AN OBSCENE AMOUNT OF TIME LISTENING AND COLLECTING M OF OBSCURE GENRES AND UNKNOWN SOURCES, AND I FIRMLY BELIEVE IN SHARING NEW MUS GREAT MUSIC. SO DON’T THINK OF THIS AS JUST ANOTHER YEAR-END’S LIST OF PERSONAL FAVO SO, HEY, I LIKE A LOT OF STUFF!), THINK OF THIS AS A COMPANION ARTICLE OF SORTS. SOM MUSIC BY BANDS YOU MIGHT HAVE NEVER HEARD OF, SOME OF IT MIGHT BE A BAND THAT YO HAVE YET TO HEAR, AND SOME OF IT; JUST FROM READING THE GENRE TITLE WILL NOT BE Y ASSURE YOU THEY ARE AMONGST THE MOST IMPORTANT RELEASES OF THE YEAR 2010, REC WORTH YOUR WHILE TO AT THE VERY LEAST CHECK OUT AND SPIN. IT’S ONLY 50 MINUTES F PROBABLY BE BROWSING THE INTERNET WITH NO AIM FOR

WHO KNOWS, MAYBE ONE OF THEM WILL TURN YOUR ATTENTION ON A NEW MUSI YOUR ATTENTION INTO A NEW GENRE AND ALL THE OLD AND NEW MUSICIANS IN IT, AN THE UNKNOWN PLEASURABLE SOUNDS AND EXPERIENCES THAT WILL COME FROM TAKIN ISN’T THAT

SO LET’S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD. HERE IS THE 50 BE

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S FIRST PRINT ISSUE, AND TO LD MUSIC AND SOME PRETTY ST GOTTA HAVE SOME HEART.

COULD WE NOT HAVE AN END N: THIS IS NOT A PITCHFORK/ IS THAT .3 FOR EXACTLY?) OR REALLY?). THIS IS NOT EVEN A E YEAR (WHICH I WILL SHARE IT’S NOT RANKS, IT’S ABOUT OTHERWISE MISSED OUT ON.

MUSIC FROM A FAIR VARIETY SIC WITH PEOPLE, ESP. IF IT’S ORITES (DESPITE THEM BEING ME OF IT WILL BE UNFAMILIAR OU LOVE WHOSE RECORD YOU YOUR CUP OF TEA, BUT I CAN CORDS THAT WOULD BE WELL FROM YOUR DAY, AND YOU’LL LONGER IN THE FIRST PLACE.

ICIAN, WHO WILL THEN TURN ND YOU’LL HAVE IN STORE ALL NG THE LEAP AND SPINNING SOMETHING DIFFERENT. WHAT MUSIC IS ALL ABOUT?

EST RECORDS OF 2010, PART 1:

50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 PART 1 BY MOHAMED EL AMIN


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

AGALLOCH MARROW OF THE SPIRIT Black Metal

Talk to anyone who enjoys metal, and specifically black metal, and one name is repeatedly mentioned as the pinnacle of the genre, and that is Agalloch, Portland’s resident metal crew, a band who continually produces the finest records in the genre, creating dark atmospheric brooding melodic black metal unlike any of their counterparts. So, to put it mildly, anticipation was building since the band announced its new record back in 2008. My friends and I tend to agree that no record within the genre would ever surpass their record, The Mantle. So imagine my surprise when I woke up at 3 am from a call in the states as my friend hollered through telling me NPR had just played the full album and that it was the greatest thing that has ever blessed his ears. (On a separate note, black metal on public radio… America, you may be filled with to the brim screaming republican baboons, but sometimes you get it right). What sets Agalloch apart is their ability to modify their style in a manner that, despite any giant changes, remains so firmly Agalloch.

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Primarily speaking, their distinct sound was always a blend of black metal with excessive folk that is both aggressive and frighteningly personal; this time around these staples are in the background, traded in favour of more emphasis on blastbeats and atmospheric guitar work. Take “Into the Painted Grey” for example. Easily the most ferocious track in the record, stating it is overwhelming is an understatement. The marriage between distortion and ambience achieved creates the finest sound in black metal. All of this fades as new drummer Aesop Dekker unleashed a flurry of furious punk driven percussion. Amidst all the depressing fridge songs, his machine drum like efficiency is a fighting spirit that never relents, combating front man’s John Haughm’s gut wrenching death stricken shrieks and wails. As an album rooted in healing, it’s a journey riddled with despair, exhaustion and redemption. Walls of noise crash against desolate scenery, so dense and unrelenting. “Black Lake Nidstång”, the climax of the record (and its longest, clocking at 17 minutes), is full to the brim with

Nordic imagery, thick gray clouds blocking any light from creeping at the vengeful woods, deserted save for a handful of lonesome travelers seek to somehow finish an immortal journey even they are not aware of its origin. Dual guitars battle for dominance amidst a whirlwind of ambience and pedal effects. As the song progresses, it evolves from its drone origins to a full blown postrock infatuating melody that borders on a wishful prayer of mercy. If any thought dashes through my mind after spinning this record again and again, aside from the fact it’s the best album of 2010, is the question of how can Agalloch possibly surpass their latest offering. But knowing them, they will, and as they do so they will blow my mind in the process. Marrow of The Spirit is a momentous effort, an unashamed goliath towering like a hulking beast that snarls and rages as it pummels at your core. My anticipation was exceeded, and in the most rewarding fashion to boot.


ALCEST ÉCAILLES DE LUNE Shoegaze/Black Metal When it was released back in 2007, Souvenirs d’un autre Monde by Alcest topped many an end of year list. And rightfully so. Never before had a band managed to combine metal and shoegaze to such an effective degree. Arguably one of the most unique outings by nay band in the 10 years, so it’s no surprise Écailles de Lune (Scales of the Moon) had much to live up to. Sophomore efforts tend to be the defining records by a band. Where the first outing tends to reflect their inspirations, and many wouldn’t judge you unfavourably for shortcomings, second albums really place you in the spotlight, with your sound and direction truly tested. And when you have a fantastic previous record, the stakes are as high as they come. Ecailles de Lune is no Souvenirs d’un autre monde. That much is clear. The trademark layers of distorted guitars that dominated

the predecessor as the inherent sound shaping the album have been forsaken, replaced here by a swirling wave of fuzzy compositions that create an atmospheric effect that emphasise the production values of the album, best exhibited in the wonderful “Solar Song”, where a more atmospheric use of the guitar draws so many memories to English shoegaze band, Slowdive. The vocals however, dictate the final decision if will love or hate the album. Though incorporating the same dreamy vocals technique that defined the previous album, where vocals became a corner stone of the process effectively eliminating the need for lyrics, the band here has decided to push forward with their black metal roots, featuring the loveit-or-hate-it metal growls. Personally as a metal head I enjoyed that greatly, because unlike many metal albums, it’s not done just for the

sake of doing, but because it adds so much more to the music, as it creates such a dual quality between the almost-angelic vocal work that runs the length of the album This is an album that grows with repeated listen, I honestly can’t think of a record that benefits more from that this year than this. While not exactly an earth shattering event that Souvenirs d’un autre monde was, this not a bad record…it’s actually an incredible record whose only failing seems to come from comparing it to the bands former album. When that’s the worst you can do, you know you’ve got something great in your hands. One of the best albums of the year.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

ALI FARKA TOURE AND TOUMANI DIABATE ALI AND TOUMANI

African folk/Blues Rock I’d like to open this with a statement. Any list of “best guitarists in the world” is a stinking load of shit. Why? Because it doesn’t have Ali Farka Toure topping it, or at the very least, amongst the top 10. One of the most major forces of “world” music, and ambassador of Mali music to the world, Ali Farka incorporated the traditional stylings of the musically ripe Mali culture to guitar. Toure was the epitome of what a musician should aspire to. He crafted some of the finest music never heard, constantly seeking to showcase the music and tradition of his country to the world and used his entire record/tour sales to benefit his village, where it was used to improve its infrastructure, and where he was mayor till he died in late 2006. Toumani Diabate comes from a long line of kora (traditional harp like string instrument famed from Mali) musicians. How long has this profession been within his family? More than 70 generations. The man’s talents are unquestionable, a family skill firmly in his genes, whether it be playing to his village people in Mali or headlining an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival curated by Simpsons’ Matt Groening. A year prior to Ali’s death, Toumani was invited to record an impromptu

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session with the Mali master. From those sessions, two records were released, the renowned In The Heart of The Moon and five years later, Ali And Toumani I’ll be frank here; I honestly cannot stand anyone who doesn’t appreciate Ali or Toure. As a fan of music, the fact people ignore this music simply because it’s not “rocking” makes me want to Hulk up. I know this is a rant and doesn’t make for a worthy review in common standards and hardly professional. But you know something? Fuck that shit. This is an album by a man who could barely hold a mug, let alone chug out some of the most gorgeous blues guitar licks in the world. The fluidity of sound and motion and the interplay between kora and guitar is truly wondrous. This is heartfelt and hypnotic music from two of the greatest musicians of all time – let alone Africa’s finest and the masters of Mali music. A fantastic merger of western guitar and African kora, this is music that you simply float to and breathe to and create structures to. The understanding between Toure and Diabate is infectiously intimate and borders on the telepathic as the kora is the omega to the guitar’s alpha.

The compliant many seem to lash that it’s a slow album, a complaint that is so inherently stupid that I’m honestly disgusted by. This is a record about two friends, with more than 100 years of experience between them, sitting down in front of one of their houses, picking up their instruments just as the cool night breeze comes through and playing music about their years. And what is in the heart of their music? That life, despite all its hardships and horrors and tribulations, is still worth living. That there is so much contentment to come from it. That’s the heart of it. It’s a long process; where patience is a virtue, and that’s the similar mindset you should enter when you spin this. It’s resoundingly beautiful and one of the finest pieces of music ever composed and will only be appreciated if you actually listen to albums fully rather than simple singles.


ANATHEMA WE’RE HERE BECAUSE WE’RE HERE Progressive Rock

Looking back, it’s almost hilarious how the entire metal world was in uproar with Anathema’s decision to discard their doom metal roots and replace it with a more progressive rock sound. Look no further than their 2000 magnum opus Judgment, which to this day stands as one of the finest records in metal history, within all its numerous subgenres and placing them on equal footing with prog rock gods Porcupine Tree. If anything, it’s a most impressive feat by a band that was defined by their death metal sound, and who has managed to express themselves even more fully by adapting to a different style. And Porcupine Tree definitely acknowledges them as equals, as We Are Here Because We Are Here was mixed by Porcupine Tree’s legendary front man Steven Wilson and additionally mastered by the remarkable Jon Astley (who worked some fairly unknown bands, namely Led Zeppelin and The Who). A production pairing of that magnitude would ensure the success of any record, let alone a superb band. So it’s comes as no surprise that Anathema’s new album is easily one of the best in their 20 years of music making.

The most drastic note about the record is how bright it is, an aspect so visible from the very instant you pick up the record and ogle at the fantastic album art. An isolated man washed in an overflow of light. Since the borderline suicidal tendencies of A Fine Day To Exit, Anathema has consistently recorded some of the most depressing music in the past 10 years. And it’s such a distinct departure in sound that is both strange and captivating, even bordering on Zen-like, particularly on songs such as “Presence” with incredibly quotable lyrics proclaiming, “Life is not the opposite of death, death is the opposite of birth. Life is eternal.” Or the hippy “Hindsight” where the entire band unites in singing the final lines “There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer / There is no disease that enough love cannot heal / No door that enough love will not open / No gulf that enough love will not bridge / And no wall that enough love will not throw down.” So to add to the oddity, and all the positivity/serenity aside, the band manages to rekindle its metal roots, and I honestly can’t recall the last time I heard a happy metal record! And despite all the heaviness, it

borrows greatly from 70s prog rock with the bright introspection balancing the melancholy moments, just spin this year’s best song of the year “Summer Night Horizon” While any other band would’ve been labelled as selling out, Anathema continues to plough steadily forward, progressing with every new record they release, and with each release, becoming so much more as they manage to be both obscure sounding enough yet entirely accessible to anyone. We Are Here Because We Are Here is a brilliant realisation of human spirit, and showcases complete understanding that life needs to be lived without any limits. It’s an incredibly warming and memorably photo centric that is so mesmerising in every aspect. A must hear.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

BEACH HOUSE TEEN DREAM Indie Pop

Despite being around for only a few years, Beach House has been propelled into the ears of everyone’s ears with their immaculate tales of love and loss. Particularly so, they have come to almost define the rapidly growing beach-pop sound branch of indie music. And while many counterparts in the movement have managed to make a small addition to the genre, it’s Beach House that has anything of staying power. Teen Dream was welcomed almost instantly with booming praise, from fans and critics alike, and justifiably so. If there has ever been a time to believe that the genre of seaside dream pop drawn into the sand by the likes of Delorean, jj and Grizzly Bear, then Beach House is certainly the band that has truly propelled it to the masses, thanks no small part to vocalist Victoria Legrand’s charming whimsical delivery, which rapidly developed from her whisperfilled self titled debut to a lucious womanly verbose ballad sound. I recall reading an interview where she stated she wanted people to have sex to this album, and frankly everyone bloody should. Capturing the turbulent whirlwind of emotion of teenage affection where encountering/losing someone you love was the most important event

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in history, it’s an entirely dreamy record that blares heart on its sleeve.

one that simply grows in size with every subsequent spin I give it.

The record finds the band more vibrant with such ebb waves and flows. Take “Lover of Mine”: a salient track with pop and incredibly danceable melodies, while “Real Love” is an absolute piano driven heartbreaking affair where Victoria’s voice reaches its most sublime status, simply crippling in its sadness as she wails “I met you somewhere in a hell beneath the stairs. There’s someone in that room that frightens you when they go boom. Boom, boom, boom”. And if you’ve ever loved and lost, you’ll get goose bumps running through you every second throughout the song as her pain and sadness clasp your heart. Damn thing still breaks mine into bits every time I hear it.

Teen Dream is bliss; pure, dreamy, dance-on-your-bed-alone bliss. I honestly believe it’s inhumanly possible to dislike this record. From the moment I listened to it I already knew that I would come back to it time and time again in the coming years. Teen Dream weaves a photo album of hazy summer days to fall back to when the chill of winter creeps on. 49 minutes of dream pop perfection to the point I would have no qualms with bludgeoning anyone with an axe if they dare voice complaints. It’s that good.

The interplay between Alex and Victoria is such a momentous foundation, the way he weaves slow dancing music around her crooning voice is almost unparallel, showcasing such a deep understanding and affection between them both, instantly telling you destiny surely has a hand in this, for such a pairing does not exist with training, it just is. And the result is a tremendous awe inspiring record,


BENOIT PIOULARD LASTED Ambient/Folk

Lyrically and emotionally engaging as Iron & Wine’s Creek Drank the Cradle and Joanna Newsom’s Ys, as atmospherically indulging and sparse as Fennesz’s Endless Summer and Bexar Bexar’s Haralambos and with instrumentation as folky, textured and organic as Bibio’s Fi/ Hand Cranked and Jose Gonzalez’s Veneer/In Our Nature while being as fragile as Vincent Gallo’s When and Matt Elliott’s The Mess We Made It’s so painstakingly clear that Thomas follows Bruce Lee’s two most resonate philosophies a) Be Like Water. b) Use what works and take it from wherever you find it. Those qualities defined Thomas Meluch aka Benoit Pioulard first record Précis. The talented multi instrumentalist, photographer and songwriter has continuously made the world a much more magical and full-filling place for me to live in, and I am willing to go on a limb here and make a statement any critic should be wise enough not to make, Précis is my fav record of all time. I could live a cheerful uninterrupted existence where I may never find “the one” or achieve any of my

goals, but it is all o-kay, because I have this. Lasted is better. The incoming hum of a distant train ushers us slowly into Lasted, almost as if you have been shook from yours sleep during a picnic, rubbing your eyes as your pupils adjust to the hazy summer sun. Meluch’s use of field samples and manipulated tapes is extremely present, but expertly placed in the background, as his dazzling voice and wondrous guitar plucking, adding layer upon layer of harmony to an already dreamy soundtrack. Bells and xylophones are drizzled in the wave of offshore ambience, a sensation akin to walking into the sea, cool water rushing against your feet, burning above the scorching sand. These compositions are simply enhanced by Meluch’s uncanny and unconventional songwriting, songs of loss and love, failure and escape all reverberate within the spun of each song. His singing is not merely just that, it’s so much more, it’s an instrument used to its full potential, an instrument Meluch is increasingly more adapt with, often quadrupling

the placement and harmony to add an echoing undertone to the melodies, the end result is vastly richer than merely an folk record. Most notable of all, is the manner the ambient/drone interludes of every song add such a staggering degree of duality to the record as a whole, constructing mesmerising sonic bridges the gentle nudge the listener’s ears to what comes next, notable of all is the piano in Fluoresce which when paired with Meluch’s distant voice, hangs gently in the air like a children’s hymn as it sings you towards the title track. The blending of organic sampling and folk rock tendencies adds such an overwhelming sensory overload. One could expect no less from a master photographer. Just as his Polaroid images showcase, the duality of approach is the key to exploration of memories and understanding of time as a concept, a theme Meluch seems forever obsessed with, constantly attempting to comprehend fully. And in Lasted, he succeeds. If memories are photographs, Benoit Pioulard plays God in the dark room


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

BIG BOI SIR LUCIOUS LEFT FOOT: THE SON OF CHICO DUSTY Hip Hop

Wow. Just wow. So let me get this straight, here we have a chart topping friendly hip hop record, clocking well over an hour in length, where every song is perfect for radio and club play, with zero fillers, and not a single weak track What? It might not hit you just how hard I’m simply awed that I, for once, can actually write the above combinations of words in the same sentence. I could name at least twodozen great hip-hop records that are ruined forever for their ludicrous length, or the presence of pointless fillers. Mobb Deep The Infamous. Ceelo Green Is the Soul Machine. I can go on forever. But where others would fall, and catastrophically for that matter, Big Boi just waltzes through it all like, well, a freaking pimp. Funny skits? Check. Great guest cameos? Check. Nasty thumping southern beats? Check. R&B hooks that don’t make you want to apply a sawed off shotgun on your person? Check, check. Since Outkast blew out of Atlanta so many years back, they’ve proved they are two of the most creative

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hip-hop musicians in the world. And honestly, no one in hip-hop has as much weight on their back to deliver. Think about it, name a mainstream hip-hop song that was any good, and the guys behind it are Andre 3000 and Big Boi. And you might not care about what mainstream thinks, but that is an achievement of serious magnitude. In a genre where the best gems are always hidden under a continuously growing mountain of turds, an exception to the case must be recognised. And for all that weight, Big Boi and Andre 3000 constantly shrugged it off. They earned their praise, and the pedestal they are placed on. It’s not about mainstream; it is, like all good hip-hop is, about making good music, ones with humor rhymes, introspective rhymes, and absolutely sick, sick, sick beats. And Big Boi scores an A+ on each section. I remember arguing back when Speakerboxxx/The Love Below came out how it was quite baffling how a man like Antwan, who has sold more than 20 million records and with five Grammys to his name (and bloody deserved them for that matter, regardless of the fact the entire awards are akin to a larva ridden decomposing horse carcass)

still doesn’t get the respect he’s due. Finally he does. If anything Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty shows that, though he is drastically different from Andre 3000 (which made Outkast work so well), he’s every ounce as creative and innovative as his partner is. Hats off, sir.


BILAL AIRTIGHT’S REVENGE Neo Soul

We live in unfair world, my dear reader. We live in a world that knows not of Bilal, or the fact that this man has singlehandedly redefined soul music with his first album, released nine years ago. In 1st born Child, he ripped through soul music with tenacity and burning passion that is only comparable to D’Angelo. And then he disappeared, making all those who wanted more aching for any tidbit of news. So aside for a token few, his sophomore record has been the most awaited return to music, effectively the amalgam of Swans. So with Airtight’s Revenge, what can we expect? Many changes have occurred to soul since 2001, where soul was deeply rooted with hip-hop with the likes of Angie Stone and Maxwell, where it stood apart from R&B. It’s 2010, where soul is now neo, and it means psychedelic structures and far retched soundscape. But for all the worry, it’s not like Bilal isn’t an innovative fellow. 1st born Child exhibited certain distinct Miles Davis fusion inspiration. But still, he’s deeply rooted in traditional soul (which, much as it may be traditional, is still damn fine soul). So would we see a drastic change in

sound to keep up with times? Nope. And, to be frank, that’s a good thing. Bilal’s sound remains true to its origins, he employees his strengths and for all the womanising his first album is, nine years later, he’s just not a happy man. It’s simply a guy telling you he’s messed up, royally so, and hoping you don’t mess up as he did. And accordingly so does the music build itself around that. And while there have been a fair share of neo soul records that aimed much higher in their goals than Airtight’s Revenge did, hardly any of them possess the lyrical brilliance and fragile honesty Bilal exhibits in his. It’s a deeply soulful, alarmingly introspective affair, pair that with a voice that is easily one of the finest to grace humanity, all thick and full of charm, hearing it so underwhelmed and disorientated simply makes it that more heart breaking. And any attempt for positivity only comes out sounding defeated, as if saying it would help, when in reality words are obviously pointless, further adding to how destructive the sentiment that went into recording this record is

From great turmoil comes great art. We all know that, and Airtight’s Revenge simply reinforces this. Hardly a game changer, but regardless, it’s not about changing the game; it’s about staying true and putting your heart on your sleeve. That’s the entire point of soul, and in that regard, Bilal created a wondrous record that earned its place in my book.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

BLACK MILK ALBUM OF THE YEAR Hip Hop

Seems there’s a whole wave of Black Milk apologists coming out of the woodwork, desperate to point out that this album title isn’t just raw hubris, but refers to the personal struggles Milk’s been through in the past 12 months and his battle to overcome them.  Nice try, but I don’t buy it - this guy’s no idiot, and when he picked Album of the Year as a title, he knew exactly what he was doing, and exactly how it will be perceived. He wasn’t messing about. He knew exactly how to deliver. It is album of the year, and it is as well, an album about Black Milk’s year. Hip-hop is best when someone derives the music from their hardships, and if anyone in hip-hop has had his fair share of them, it’s Black Milk. Produced and penned by Curtis, the attitude of his album is defined by defiance, about living life, about dealing with loss (Baatin of Slum Village fame, J Dilla and his aunt), and about managing to just go through the day. It’s about bragging and boosting, about mackin’ and about making hella dope beats. Basically, it’s everything you want from a hip-hop album ever. Black Milk’s delivery is furious. Never lets up and never relents,

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unquestionably, he’s one of the best MCs in hip-hop at the moment. Clear cut rhymes, excellent delivery, and wholeheartedly unique in sound. And he does it all with humour and finesse, a smirk on his face regardless of how sad he may be. And then we’ve got the beats. And man, do I even have to say anything about them? Black Milk has built an audience and rep in the game because of his praise, getting praise as high as being labeled the new Jay Dee. The man is easily one of the most prolific beat makers on the planet, just spin his past album Tronic for an example of his tightknit percussion driven experimental beat making, merging electronic elements and moving away from computer beats to live drumming. If anything, and amidst a wave of psychedelic glitch-hop producers, it’s not a stretch to proclaim Black Milk as the last breathing traditional hiphop producer. And it is traditional; spinning this you can’t help but feel how it could’ve easily been a DJ Premier or Pete Rock. Old schools flare with new school sensibility. The way he drops odd samples and obscure notes, and still manages to make Album of the Year sound so distinctly Detroit is jaw dropping

A great combo of neo soul and hip-hop, Album of The Year certainly earns it’s spot as one of this year’s best. It’s heavy when required and light when needed. It’s thickly club funky when called upon and easily a lay-on-your-couch-and-nod-yourhead tastic. Black Milk is coming up with diamonds, and the title of G.O.A.T is inscribed on all of them. The Ghost of J Dilla? No, Black Milk is his own artist, and a great artist at that.


BONOBO BLACK SANDS Electronic In the past 10 years or so, I’ve come to trust a good deal of music labels to provide me with my fixes. Runegrammafon in Norway for the best in avant-garde jazz, Constellation Records for the finest post rock, Stone Throw Records for delicious hip-hop, and Ninja Tune for great electro. To that last label, I give thanks, for they share the wonder of Bonobo with us as all. Electro meets jazz. Seems like a simple formula for success, doesn’t it? Yet so rarely does anyone manage to blend both elements to such a magical degree as Bonobo does. Throughout all his releases, and his most recent tour, incorporating a full jazz quartet as his support band, he has constantly honed his skills and sound, without ever making it artificial. All the experience shows through in Black Sands Bonobo’s grounded electro sensibilities never get the best of him. Laying down his production with a heavy dosage of brass instruments, he cooks up a unique formula, half analog/ half digital. Each note is allowed to fully breathe, forming a cohesive structure where many elements have built, without any of them overpowering the other. Benefiting

greatly from fellow label partner Andreya Triana’s sultry voice, his work gains an even more intense humanising fact, with Andreya’s sleepy humming voice adding a vast degree of depth to an already immaculately structured album. Black Sands showcases Bonobo at his finest, most creative, and most enigmatic.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

DELOREAN SUBIZA Indie Electronic

90s dance revival. Come again? What the deuce? Those words should NEVER be placed in the same combination, yet here we are, witnessing what is indeed a 90s dance revival, and while the 90s were a mess of house anthems, what we have here is a band and album, that seemed very well aware of what made it work. Delorean, an outfit hailing from Spain have decided to go all out on their latest record Subiza (oh I see what you did right there!) with a full on dance anthem record that is half part indie and half part electro. And honestly, it’s something else. Easily the clearest sign of the influence Animal Collective has had on the entire genre, this is as MPP as they come. I was actually speaking to my friend asking her how I’m having such a hard time writing anything aside from I REALLY LIKE THIS A LOT! And it hit me, this is exactly what Panda Bear would do if he wore his dancing shoes and stopped doing mushrooms. These guys got it all going for them, an ear for layering, how to manipulate atmosphere and melody alike and use it to compliment their finest asset: production. I can’t even name a single band that managed to recreate dance music to such

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a profound degree. This is well intentioned “let’s get drunk and DANCE” from start to finish, and while it relishes that aspect, it’s not merely delivering hooks for you to groove to, it’s frighteningly intelligent to boot. And the surprise here, even though it’s a dance band, you’d be surprised to realise they are actually a guitar band. We’ve taken a barrage of punches from a good share of dance rock bands in recent years, and an ugly beating at that, but these guys actually get it right. No surprise there, seeing how this is a Barcelona band, just a few miles away from Pamplona. These guys are deeply rooted in their area, and use that geographical connection to their advantage. In that effect, Delorean is to indie music what The Roots are to hip-hop. And I don’t think there is higher praise in my book. Purely euphoric electro pop music. There we have it. At last! This is perfectly crafted dance music of the highest caliber. Listening to it initially makes it come off so simple and basic and just generally good fun all across the board, it’s just joyous and put’s its house roots on its sleeve, unembarrassed by them and fully accepting of their inspiration.

Every song flows seamlessly into one another maintain the general mood and danceable tones, but when you actually attentively listen to it you truly come to appreciate its inherent genius, the craftsmanship is second to none. The way it each note transcends into a climax, continuously doing so throughout the entire record is a marathon like endeavor, you’re left entirely drained but ecstatic for the achievement . It may be synth pop, it maybe be house, it maybe deep electro, but who the hell cares? Delorean makes fascinating music that you can dance to, and that’s really something


FANG ISLAND FANG ISLAND Indie Rock Fang Island describe their music as “everyone high fiving everyone else.” It’s totally true, and it totally makes me want to high five you and them. So infectiously joyous, I literary just want to jump around and play paintball WHILE doing some pretty freakin’ sweet air-guitar. It’s unreal, you guys.

album than half the indie bands out there. It’s a mindfuck! Every element of heavy metal is here, the kick ass awesome guitar riffs, the 6/8 “let’s charge these bastards for VALHALA!” Time signatures, its straight old fashioned balls to the wall metal fun, channeled via AC like sentiments.

This is pure distilled joy. Juicy guitars, swirling vocals and just all around “let’s run naked with our underwear on our head!” sentiment, it’s quite unbelievable this band was created from a math core fourtet. Managing to exist in a pocket universe between Weird Al and Animal Collective, a section of the universe entirely devoid from any creatures, Fang Islands unleashed a 30 minute towering goliath that manages to encompass what being 18 years old was for me: young, in a new territory, head over heels in love, not just with “the one” but with every single creature in existence. This is a monstrous degree of free spiritedness unraveling in the most amazingly dance till you faint tunes. What’s really confusing (and what makes me love this even more) is that I honestly think Fang Island is a metal band snarkly taking a jab at indie music, and in the process, actually make a better indie rock

The ultimate feel good album of 2010. There is absolutely no conceivable way you can have more fun with a record than with Fang Island’s self-titled debut. The only possible way someone could dislike this is if they don’t like fun. Not just fun, but the entire concept of it. I bet they want to blow it up, even. Friggin’ losers.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

FLYING LOTUS COSMOGRAMMA Hip Hop Not many musicians can claim redefining and pioneering a genre within their generation, but Flying Lotus can comfortably rest with that statement. Ellison, lovingly called FlyLo by the growing mountain of adoring fans, has come a very long way from dropping 30 seconds tunes to Adult Swim’s late night commercial slots alongside Madlib, and is now a such a crucial figure in the beat movement that he stands on equal footing with J Dilla. FlyLo’s freshman effort 1983 was unlike anything ever produced in the entire history of hip-hop beat making, a peculiar avant-garde restructuring of the very essence of hip-hop production, one both heavily textural and deeply rooted in the subtle undertones of his aunt and uncle, Alice and John Coltrane. But for all its daring and freshness, it was a project in the works; a formula in need of many an experiment to fashion into a perfect medicine. Los Angeles came along, expanding his sound, grown vastly more assertive and comfortable in both execution and concept as it added overt electronic constructs to its themes, and it succeeded with nigh perfect results, but remained a mix tape of sorts, as he still continued to build his creations and blend them with his influences. And so, we reach Cosmogramma. Has Flying Lotus achieved his full potential? Jesus, has he ever. Cosmogramma is an entirely unpredictable outing, the initial three intros (if you call them as such) are peculiar, the highly experimental and drone-ish spacey paranoid “Clock Catcher” evolving into a harp solo, the electronic funk jam session “Pickled!” and the cosmic “Nose Art” bounce your senses back and forth, songs that should be part of the glitch-hop of its predecessor forming a portal of sorts, reminding of what was past, and what is to

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come. And with “Intro//A Cosmic Drama”, the real ride begins, one that is ethereal and wholly interstellar in sound. FlyLo retains his entire hip-hop glitched up experimental beatwork and uses that as a foundation for his abstract concepts. The calling is and forever will be avant-garde jazz, From the Sun Ra inspired ”Arkestry” to the Ron Carter hummed “Satelllliiiiteee”, inspiration from Eric Dolphy to Max Roach, are everywhere. But it’s not merely a tribute with no concept; everything about the record is so immaculately conceived, from production values to compositions. And as a result, the effort is far more daring than anything FlyLo has attempted in his career. And a great part is owed to the super star array of guest vocalists and collaborators, from composer/arranger Miguel Atwood (famous for his work with OutKast), cousin Ravi Coltrane adding some of his trademark saxophone work, to Thundercat delivering some of this year’s finest bass work. On the vocalist front, Thom Yorke guest spots in the record’s finest moment “...And The World Laughs With You” is a roaring home run effort as Yorke imparts some distinctive mood setting vocal melodies while FlyLo helms the craft, and Laura Darlington, now famous for her

tranquil vocal work on Los Angeles’ “Auntie’s Lock/Infinitum” shares some of her dreamy soaring vocals again. Cosmogramma is a triumph. FlyLo draws from all his jazz inspirations, and while he firmly accepts them and gives them their due, he conceives his own distinct sound. A record so steeped in FlyLo’s never ending struggle to comprehend and decipher his uncle John Coltrane’s Explorations and Sun Ship (at least, that’s what I think) that it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that this is what would’ve happened if hip-hop existed in the 60s/70s. It’s no simple boost to say that this is effectively our decade’s Mezzanine. Retaining your roots while successfully (and recklessly) exploring new grounds is no mere feat, and the end result is an interesting, groundbreaking and mind-expanding effort. There is nothing in the world quite like this. And you can hold me to that.


FOREST SWORDS DAGGER PATHS

Avant Garde?Psychedelic Folk? Or just plain???

Yeah. ???. I frankly don’t know anything about this band, their members their background, or whatever genre they should be shelved under. In fact, this album was downloaded purely on random, based on nothing but album art (a method that to this day has never failed me yet, because the first time I utilised it, I got Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica and honestly 50 pages would be enough for me to describe my love of). So it seems worthwhile to review this through its cover, because cover art is, or rather can be, an integral part of the artistic expression of the album itself. Albums are things, you know, they’re not just sounds. Dagger Paths by Forest Swords, one of the best covers I’ve ever seen. By now you’ve seen the cover and you’ve probably already made up your mind about it. My guess is that you’re intrigued, but you might think it looks horrible. But what you may or may not think of it isn’t what makes the cover great, what makes it great is that it looks exactly like the record sounds. Chances are, if you like the cover, or just find the general mood it depicts interesting, and you’ll like the record. But it’s not

just the mood, you see, intentional or not, the composition of the cover actually mirrors the composition of the album.

its emotional punch. Just a stylistic rendering of frigidness, whereas with her, they come to life And that’s the point.

In the forefront we have Dagger herself, or at least that’s the most obvious conclusion, staring into nothingness. She looks as stereotypical as 1800s Japanese women all did. And while a stereotype she richly detailed, so solemn with such a focus on the interplay of light and shadow. Mixing and fading. In the background, it’s monotonous with solid colours and no attention to detail whatsoever. While the background is a negative photograph, Dagger is positive drawn sketch, textured and layered. The background represents the forest and drone sampling, all gloom and bleak, despite the inherent beauty nature should reflect, while the traveler is drawn in singular colour, is vibrant and dramatic representing the melody, vocals and structure. She gives the cover form. The stuff that gives everything about this album its meaning, if you will. Without the Dagger (the rich melodies, remember?) the background would lose much of

The surroundings of life are meaningless if you strip people from them, it’s nothing but happenings (white) and non-happenings (black) which are so basic and stale for the most part, and we all share them. It’s peculiar how we define people by their life, the very thing they cannot control, the very thing that gives them their colour, when in reality, it is us that that give it colour, by the way we confront it and live in it. It is us who give meaning to life, not the other way around. We are all similar, yet so inherently different and exquisitely crafted. And in so we share a kindred spirit them: we are all precious. Feeling pointless and worth nothing is a commonplace but we are anything but. We are truly enigmatic and forever fascinating. The album is connected to the cover and the cover is connected to the album and the reason this connection works is that what they depict is deeply connected to you.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

FOUR TET THERE IS LOVE IN YOU Electronica

Kieran Hebden. The name has become synonyms with electronica as a genre. Just as how Blur makes you think indie rock and Q-Tip makes you think hip-hop. For a good decade or so, Kieran, under his Four Tet moniker, has been consistently releasing some of the most experimental melodic brand of complexly layered Electronica, one that doesn’t shy from creating melodies from even the most peculiar of instrument (a typewriter comes to mind, form the song “Harmony One” off his record Pause). And for all the great successes (i.e. every single album), There Is Love in You in comes out clearly as his finest effort to date. And this is not merely due to the fascinating depth of all his constructs, the way they manage to ring within you in a dramatic personal level, or the slightly avant grade tendencies in his compositions, but because it combines all that, while making it so dance driven and accessible. Don’t let those elitist snobs put you off, accessible is a good thing, when done right. Really good. Good for you, good for me, good for music. How can one complain about a good musician, making a good album, that’s being liked by everyone? Just

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because it’s accessible doesn’t mean it’s not exhilarating. Seriously people… But I digress. For the most part, I dislike listening to electronica through anything aside from my headphones. It tends to be a sit down experience, one that goes well with a good book and nice warm mug of tea. But what Four Tet has managed here is to blend his intimate foreign sound with club culture (which Kevin said he was moved by during his month long residency at Plastik People club). Despite the tendency of linking dance tracks with mindless music, just a background tune serving as nothing but a layer of noise, Four Tet crafts some of the most sonically engaging songs in his entire career, both affectionately fragmented yet, oddly enough, so whole. Just take “Sing” for example. In a perfect world, not dropping this track in a dance floor full to the brim of heaving sweat-laden clubbers would be punishable by law. Obscure time signatures, Tablas, cut-n-paste synth that, as calculated as it may sound, is balanced with a simple female hum that manages to string your body in an evocative lust driven dance.

There Is Love In You, thought released so early on in the year, continues to garner more adoration from me with every repeat listen, uncovering more shades and melodies in it’s designs. As the cover implies, this is multi layer perforation, visually engaging and richly texture. The differences in change are minimal, however subtly works, and in this case, it works magnificently.


THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM AMERICAN SLANG Alternative Rock The Gaslight Anthem’s former record The ‘59 Sound easily morphed in status as one of my favourites of the past 5 years, and regardless of how much I loved it, and listened to it again and again, I still couldn’t figure out a way to describe it without coming off sounding unbearably pretentious. In a period of time where alt rock has completely lost its glitz and glamour in favour of more low-key ambient/electro proceedings, they managed to pull me back into it all, reminding me why I loved the sound in the first place. I quite literary shout their songs, clinging to every word as they drag me into reminiscing of teenage years that were defined by the music of Modest Mouse and early U2. My love and favouritism makes me even more skeptical, as much as I looked forward to a follow up,

I didn’t even want one. The band reached a level that, in my head, I never thought they could surpass it. How exactly can a band that produced something so effortlessly excellent out do that? American Slang is the answer. A subtle progression from its predecessor, it captures the charm and qualities all over again but with some different tweaks. The bluecollar New Jersey band meets punk mythos is still pretty evident, still reassuringly familiar American to the core. It certainly takes its good time to unfold as it patiently draws back the curtains, a vague rekindling of Bruce Springsteen when he wasn’t crunching out half assed songs and forms an instant kinship with The Clash, but as it unfolds they manage to capture such a wanderlust spirit with invigorating energy, as every track is driven with strong hooks and big choruses made bigger thanks

to the distinctive and simplistic harmonies, and some of the most delicious guitar licks produced this year and finely tuned structures that simply push the sound into greater landscapes. American Slang is a brilliantly honest album by a band that unashamed to showcase their emotions and tell their stories, a quality so nested in front man’s Brian Fallon, who never shies away from delivering passionate and relentlessly wise vocals and showcases an incomparable genius in his song craftsmanship that has defined the band. This is extremely unwavering solid, consistent and catchy punk rock record, one that you will come back to years from now, to rediscover a charm and swagger that is inescapable.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

GONAJASUFI A SUFI AND A KILLER Hip Hop/Electronica

I hate cars. Loath the darn things. Not merely because I can’t drive them worth a grain of salt, but mostly because walking is superior. However, rarely has a record lately made me want to go buy a car, solely for the reason that I can drive late nights around town listening to this. Gonjasufi is an MC, DJ and yoga instructor (whatnow?) who has been recording music for close to 20 years, till he found his big break thanks to Flying Lotus featuring him in his seminal sophomore effort Los Angeles. Gonjasufi went on to sign up with Warp Records and released

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an album. There is a God. Now, I may have labeled this as hiphop, which will most certainly turn off several people, for which I say, your loss, because while Sufi and a Killer is so rooted in the essence of hip-hop (production and beat making), the mind boggling array of styles and genres is, for lack of imagination, mind boggling. I sat with a friend and tried to name the number of genres and sub genres this record transverse. We counted at least nine, from disco to flamenco. The record consistently challenges your ears with every second, which is funny, because it’s done

so effortlessly, with such style and panache. Like Lou Reed smoking a cig in a café somewhere down in NY. And even thought beat making is the body of album, Gonjasufi’s vocals and lyricism are the soul. From haunted whispers to raging howls, both rusted and futuristic, blending the organic with the automotive, it’s truly the most intriguing, unique and enticing record of the year.


GRINDERMAN GRINDERMAN 2 Blues Rock Side Projects are, for intents and purpose, ultimately a pastime of the musicians behind it, and it’s quite rare that a side project eclipses the original band’s work. But every once and a while, the project develops into its own distinct entity (See: A Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La band), and that’s what Grinderman has become. Initially set as a giggle between Nick Cave and several members of The Bad Seeds (notably the outstanding Warren Ellis, whose main band The Dirty Three is a necessity to anyone’s music collection), Grinderman’s

self titled record was a jamtastic raw blues meets rock ‘n’ roll affair. It whiskey could play guitar, this would be the result, scruffy, aged and simply delicious. But no one thought it would become a full fledged project, just a one-off record done between band members who happened to have several projects going on and had a little bit of time off and wanted jam with each other. Being wrong never felt better. Grinderman 2 is everything the self titled record was, and more. It’s certainly a sequel, taking everything the original did, expanding on it, and tightening the formula. The bluesy

rock side is so blatantly exhibited both densely arranged and diversely populated, from the rock and rolling “Goodbye Mickey Mouse and The Man” to the drone-laced/psychedelic percussion on “When My Baby Comes”. And throughout this, Nick Cave’s distinctive vocals are prominent and hypnotizing as ever. The end result is an excellent and varied collection of songs played by some of our generation’s finest musicians. And it’s done with swagger, presence and style that transcended a mere “side project”.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

IN MOURNING MONOLITH Metal Well, it’s safe to assume everyone is fully aware that Scandinavia produces some of the finest metal across the globe. When Swedish (slightly melodic) death metal band In Mourning released The Shrouded Divine 2 years ago, every metal music forum was rife with comparisons to their Swedish counterparts, Metal legend Opeth. And I could hardly blame them. Their freshman effort was for lack of better term, a tour-de-force that relentlessly death metal, with a fair share of prog rock styling’s that made Opeth so famed. It was a comparison made on the fact that it was a record so intense that it rightfully stood on equal grounds with some of the finest records in the genre, a fact that made many a metal head fan ecstatic, what with the Swedish metal scene seeming rusty with Dark Tranquility and Opeth’s current hiatus (which won’t last long by the way, new album confirmed in mid 2011).

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So with a stunning debut that topped several end of year lists for fans and critics, the question was how would the band follow up? To justify the title of one of the best metal bands ever, a sophomore record is certainly a requirement, and it’s a requirement In Mourning fills rather nicely. In Mourning, to be honest, produces more of the same in their second outing, but with tighter production values, more lurking in their thickly laced death metal roots, while balancing out all their progressive explorations. But while it may be more of the same, there is a distinct burning desire in their vocal work and music, a hunger of sorts, bordering on the bestial at times. All this simply allowed n Mourning to hone their craft into precision effect creating a more cohesive outing that really suffers from no flaws that I can possibly think of. Clocks under an hour, vocals are both crisp and the

growls are demonically death metalish, instrumentation and chemistry between the musicians is infinitely more solid, and it just altogether a furiously more powerful release than it’s predecessor., especially the manner all the songs flows so naturally into each other, building a more concrete structure. I’ll be honest, this isn’t exactly an accessible record to introduce an unfamiliar friend to the genre, but it is definitely recommended listening if you are interested in listening to something radically different. As for metal fans; metal may suffer from its share of subgenres, but this honestly has everything for each of them to enjoy, from exceptional technical competency to straightout pure metal-headed-ness. Do not miss out on this, one of the finest metal albums in a year that is now synonyms with metal.


JAGA JAZZIST ONE ARMED BANDIT Jazz/Progressive Rock

Once again. Norway. These guys are mutants. I have no doubt of it. How else could one describe a nation that earthed one of the best jazz ensembles in the world that is on pair with some of the greatest quartets/quintets of America’s jazz golden years? Uncanny. Initially beginning as a 3 man band, multi-instrumentalist Lars Horntveth formed Jaga Jazzist at the age of 14 and released the band’s first album Grete Stitz 2 years later. What defined their sound however, was their follow up E.P. in 1999, Magazine which let the public in on the future dominance of the band as it defined thematic style forever branded the “JJ Sound” by their adoring fans: sweeping compositions laced with jazz instruments distinguished particularly by the over use of horns and brass and the blending of

electronic/ambient elements. After the release of the critically acclaimed What We Must, the band focused primarily on the plethora of side projects they’ve each launched. 5 years later, with a wealth of new experience, came their latest outing. One-Armed Bandit is strictly speaking, a JJ Sound album, featuring the same super-human at tentativeness to merging genres, but with a twist, the band never delved so deeply into prog rock as they have here. Quite honestly, I can’t even begin to distinguish half the instruments used, the band’s knack for creating new tools for their trade. They display a level of musicianship that is literary second to none. Considering that there are 10 freaking people playing at the same time, it’s simply a testament to group unity and rare sense of composition and production values, enabling each musician to fully display the limitless skills, a trait

that is only found in Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Broken Social Scene and Tortoise. Actually, typing that out, this is probably the best Tortoise album they never recorded. Take “Toccata” for example, the strangely familiar jazz driven noir noodling, the sense of urgency and bustling rhythms becoming much more bombastic with the pensive horn section bellowing through. The eccentric harmonies and unconventional melodies pair up to create an unconventional beast. If there was ever a soundtrack to a western meets Vegas meets detective noir meets space pirates movies, this is it. It’s that versatile and encompassing. Imaginative in both concept and execution, Jaga Jazzist rises from their 5 year slumber to create what is easily the ushering of a new era in progressive rock.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

JANELLE MONAE

THE ARCHANDROID Funk In a world filled to the brim with female singers whose instinctive ability is skimpy clothing, shove-mygenitals-in-your-face-oh-look-I’mwearing-a-chair-as-a-hat-I-am-socreative-talent-lackingbroads, Janelle Monae is quite literary heaven sent, a beacon of light in a land that deserves no redemption. A manifestation wildly diverse funky/ soul laced styling and influences ranging from Nat Cole King to Parliament/Funkadelic to OutKast (Big Boi discovered her and had P. Diddy sign her. In one singular act, Sean Combs managed to redeem his soul for all eternity), Janelle explodes with energy and remarkable identifiable persona that instantly brings to mind David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. You wouldn’t be faulted for comparing her to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu either; her crooning soulful vocals certainly meet her hip-hop fascination. And for all her apparent oddness, she actually has the talent to back it up (I’m looking at you, Lady GaGa. I’m looking at you and if looks could kill you would’ve been rendered disintegrated by now). A bellowing voice that dazzles your senses as ingeniously crafted instrumentation and masterful lyricism encompasses this 70 min+ epic, as she genre-hops between

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every single track from the cabaret “Sir Greenwood” to psychedelic funk “Come Alive” to medieval folk “57821” (I never imagined I’ll ever type those words in the same sentence). And goodness me can she dance, and make you dance. You know what I’m talking about. Tightrope. You’ve seen the video, and your jaw, as well as mine, hit the floor. So just admit it: you’ve spent hours in front of the mirror trying to memorize the dance. (Remember the last time people around the globe did that? It was the macarana, and no mortal words have been made to explain how ecstatic I am that this is now a global dance movement). This is how it must have felt like in Europe as it left the shackles of the Dark Ages to enter the beaming Renaissance period. But the most striking feature of the record is not it’s dabbling in various genres, it’s the method Janelle does that, with staggering quality and commitment to the general scope and concept of the record, and highly futuristic sci-fi concept it is, An self aware messiah-like android whose sole calling in life is help her fellow androids rise against.Think the Matrix, sans the biblical babble and the incredibly unappealing main character.

How can an album, let alone a freshman album, be so darn good? All things considered, this should’ve have been a colossus disaster. Everything here shouldn’t work! Every song is literary a game of no limit Texas Hold ‘em Up. Monae lunges headfirst, almost bluffing, what she attempts should fail, but she knows the deck, and she’s holding a full house. She wins, and does it with a momentous dashing of flair to boot. So trust me when I say, if you spent the first several spins in amazement, you are not part of the minority. If anyone would’ve attempted this they would’ve fallen flat on its face if it were not for the superior talents Janelle and her assembled band as they manage to humanize the thoughts of a robot. Janelle Monae is truly a gem and a talent we should be immensely thankful for, a house of mirrors whose depth is only matched by her flawlessly polished talents. This the pop record that we envisioned in our wildest dreams, and bless Monae for delivering.


JOANNA NEWSOM HAVE ONE ON ME Folk

It would be a lie to claim that Have One On Me wasn’t the most hyped up record of the year (alongside Sufjan Stevens’ The Age of Adz). And why shouldn’t it be so? Close to 5 years in the making and coming after one of the most critically acclaimed records of the decade (Ys). Self produced, mixed by indie demi-god Jim O’Rourke (the man, alongside Steven Albni, have their fingerprint on every single record you ever loved. I’m not kidding, wiki this) and announced a mammoth 3 disc affair, everyone was on the edge of their seat, wondering what Joanna will deliver. A master piece she has. Collecting all her previous catalogue, several songs lend a kin hood to The Milk Eyed Mender, while the full band compositions are akin to the orchestration in Ys, although more refined and crisp. Her harp remains the backbone of every song, but the

presence of piano and the occasional percussion add such a distinct layer to every song, and while the only criticism that could be placed on Ys was its length, Have One On Me showcases more restraint and balance in its presentation. Vocally and lyrically, Joanna’s trademark idiosyncrasies are fully embraced by her, matured and developed with the years of recording and touring. Hints of the little girl with the little screeches are still found, but blended with the sound of woman fully at peace with herself. Just as well, her cryptic, poetic poetry is, thought present, less so, with her words fairing much more personal and vastly more relatable. Yet they remain as creative and whimsical. What Joanna has achieved is a goal many musicians tend to target but stumble in the process of, growing

as a musician and renovating oneself without losing one’s identity, leading to an incredibly rich and rewarding recording. The only conceivable flaw one can make is that the album, at one go, is almost too much. Under any other songwriter, eight plus minute songs would be an extremely bloated affair, let alone 3 discs worth of them. But under Joanna Newsom, a musician who when given free roaming reign, the output created is borders on unearthly realms, stark, arresting and enchantingly beautiful. No clearer example can be made than “Autumn”. And plus, if we’re going to actually going to berate musicians for attempting to create something so innovative, so challenging, in a time where originality is the rarest gem and copy-cats are a dime a dozen, we might as well pack up our bags and call it a day on music.


50 BEST RECORDS OF 2010 - PART 1

KAYO DOT COYOTE Avant Garde Progressive rock/avant-garde fans are a hard lot to like. Let’s just be honest about it, we are pretentious. And we are so terribly hurt by that word used on our person, using it an insult, a dirty word to describe dirtier people with waffling ambitions, which always baffled me, because I’m a huge fan of pretension. As Warren Ellis put it “it means an aspiration or intention that may or may not reach fulfillment. It doesn’t mean failing upward. It means trying to exceed your grasp. Which is how things grow”. As such, it’s the only way to describe this specific genre. And no other band displays this trait as Kayo Dot does. Toby driver, front man of eclectic band Kayo Dot, has always been a challenge to describe. The way the band has developed sonically from his earlier metal background and work while maintaining their characteristic quality has made them fan favorites. Their first record Choirs of the Eye shot to everyone’s year end list, and is easily one of the best albums of all time. Coyote however, isn’t causing the same waves. And for the life of me I don’t know why The record has thrown quite the

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number of Kayo Dot fans in a turbulent ride. This is funny, because one of the most major aspects setting this band apart from other contemporaries is their ever changing style. Toby’s melodramatic lyrics, the minimalist sparse instrumentation and rapidly changing vocal work sets it as one of the most difficult albums “to get into” this year. But as is always the case with avant-garde, the record truly demands perseverance and diligence, and as you begin to analysis the framework of texture and atmosphere the band is evoking, the rewards are nigh infinity. There is an alarming darkness swarming this record, engulfing it within a well of sinister shuddering urgency. While it is not Choirs of the Eye (but was is, really?) it certainly retains all the emotional and creative indulgences Kayo Dot fans have grown familiar with. In my opinion, I prefer this much more. The emotional dynamics and changes in rift are subtle, with the progression in timber arriving from compositional structure rather than dynamic shift in instrumentation, a quality that makes the re spin value of the record even more fascinating. Dabbled throughout the recording, the later years Miles Davis inspired

trumpet work blend with early Supersilent ambient structures as the rhythmic shifts in guitar and drum lines do their work to augment the scenery. It’s certainly a mourning record, apparently record after the death of a close friend of the band. The manner that the record appears lengthier actually works in its favour; the atmosphere and mood unfold creating a cohesive sound that is able to construct an entire world. Coyote is an entity of its own, tense and sorrow filled but regardless, breathtaking in every instance. Is it the finest attempt at reconstructing the prog rock/avant-garde genres? Possibly. In any case, Coyoto is one of the most ambitious recordings of the year, and if there’s anything such as a “game changer”, it’s this. Kayo Dot return with their finest effort to date, and it’s one of the finest of the year.


KILLING JOKE ABSOLUTE DISSENT Punk Rock Wow, I just realised as I started typing this out, that’s it’s been exactly 30 years since Killing Joke released their self titled debut that has changed how everyone viewed punk music and catapulted them into the status of the most important brit punk bands in the world really. Coming out right during the Margret Thatcher era and her ushering the ultra right-wing conservative Tory years, they defined the term” Political punk” as should be. So influential that everyone from Nirvana to Porcupine Tree to Napalm Death named them “the reason we wanted to make music”. So 30 years later, where only a handful of the original punk groups still exist and producing music, what has changed? Absolutely nothing, Killing Joke is still the best punk band out there, and in Absolute Dissent the genre

defining band has released their career defining record…again. With the death of former bassist Raven in recent years, an overpowering sadness lingered with the band, an aspect that hangs distinctly in the record leading it to contain some of their most memorably intense songs. It’s very reminiscent of Swans’ recent My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, in the sense that it is deeply personal and sonically encompassing the career of one of the most talented bands in the world. It’s got it all, their 70s era earth vomit vocal work, the wandering post punk motifs of their mid 80s period, the brutal industrial sound disintegration in their 90s.  It’s as heavy as any of their heaviest record, but it’s remarkable how they manage

to balance it out by strong hooks and gorgeous melodies. The band is still in top form and as creative and relatable as ever. And through it all, Jaz Coleman still sings his heart out in a manner unlike any other, with such roaring intensity and passion. Absolute Dissent is of the most overpowering albums I’ve ever heard, right up with Swans’ Soundtracks for the Blind all the way back in 1997. And it’s fantastically heavy and beautiful in its ugliness. Yet another remarkable outing by a remarkable band, and we should all be grateful they are still around.


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Phioro Jewellery designer Clare Pardoe, of Phioro, unveiled her latest enchanting collection ‘Suspension of Reality’ on the first of December, 2010 at the Armani Prive, Armani Hotel in Burj Khalifa, Dubai. The glitterati were lucky enough to witness the breath-taking collection, inspired by Salvador Dali, Avatar, and dark fairytales.   For more information or to get an exclusive, one of a kind piece of your very own from Clare’s beautiful collection call her on +971 50 3511210 or send her an email: clare@phioro.com. Visit www.phioro.com for more details.

events!

Absolace quint favourites, Absolace, rocked the F1 Corniche in Abu Dhabi to an ecstatic crowd of over 5,000 people. With the intensity, passion, and undeniable skill that have brought them to where they are today, Absolace has truly cemented their position in the music scene of the UAE, and the region. We hope to see Absolace topping charts and rocking more incredible gigs in the New Year! For more information or to find out about upcoming gigs call Absolace at +971 50 7414783, visit their website www.absolace.net or their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/absolace


LITERATURE

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Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain, a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, grief, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats, humiliations, and despairs -- the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man›s best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free. In time, the Deity perceived that death was a mistake; a mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient, for the reason that while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be conceived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb.

I RECOMMENDED THIS BOOK IN THE FIRST ISSUE OF QUINT, AND I’VE BEEN RE-READING AGAIN AND TRULY BELIEVE IT DEMANDED AN EXPANDED REVIEW. In Letters from the Earth, Twain showcases the true master of wit and hilarity he truly is, going out of his way to produce a piece of work so drenched in heavyweight sarcasm that I›m confused as to why religious extremists don›t go around burning this book, which would›ve proved Twain›s point even further. Letters from the Earth, in a nutshell; is a collection of letters penned by Lucifer himself. In these letters, Lucifer, the personification of all that is evil in the known and unknown universe (accordingly to conventional religion, at least), goes out of his way to point out how incredibly wretched, despicable and mean spirited humans can be, and usually are. I honestly don›t think there is anything I should add to the above synopsis. These letters are scathing, brutal in nature and utterly unforgiving of human nature, showcasing exactly how dumb a creation we in almost every realm of thought and action, from religion to politics. Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, is so appalled and completely awe struck by our sheer combined horridness that he actually ponders what the point of having him around is. Here›s a sampling of a letter: “The two Testaments are interesting, each in its own way. The Old one gives us a picture of these people›s Deity as he was before he got religion; the other one gives us a picture of him as he appeared afterward. The Old Testament is interested mainly in blood and sensuality. The New one in Salvation. Salvation by fire. The first time the Deity came down to earth, he brought life and death; when he came the second time, he brought hell.

The Deity pondered this matter during four thousand years unsuccessfully, but as soon as he came down to earth and became a Christian his mind cleared and he knew what to do. He invented hell, and proclaimed it.” While it induces side-splitting laughter, Letters from the Earth is as black a comedy as they come, giving no quarter and attacking head on with blood in its mouth and madness in its eyes. A slap on the collective faces of us all. Letters from the Earth is an unkind critical look at how we function, and how frighteningly little we have changed.


LITERATURE

HEART OF BRASS MOHAMED EL AMIN

as the mystery voice informs us that the Emirates flight heading towards Dubai is sending it’s finally call we morph our goodbye into a kiss. for you there is use for it: long and true. for me... I play my role with an Oscar worthy performance: I slurp I tangle I frolic I moan I cling I hum I devour I abuse I rape I CONSUME and when i feel saturated and bulky I push you away (ever-so-gently); “you’ll miss the flight, dear.” you nod, then tardliy travel torwards the escalator taking you down along with your i love you’s. lighting a fag I watch as a tear trickles down your freckled filled cheek... if only you knew that I didnt gave a damn.

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GOOD LUCK WON'T SAVE US IN THIS JACKPOT OF NOTHING MOHAMED EL AMIN

at 3:46 am in Kuala lumpur LOVE is offered in such an astonishing variety: whilst maundering down piss drenched boulevards the 3:46 am girls (and the 3:46 am boys) tell me that TONIGHT i shan›t be lonely, that it will be warm and wondrous, that they will fix me right up. that i could: a) LOVE one of them with cuffs (or whips) b) have two LOVE me (for a slight increase in fee, of course) at 3:46 am you can find LOVE in every street corner, and in this town for approximately 12 bucks and 56 cents (give or take on the exchange rate) heh... if love was this abundant then why am i drifting along these sidewalks rambling to myself awaiting a miracle only to end up on a bed with a single pillow ?


LITERATURE

DREAM GIRL MOHAMED EL AMIN

once upon a time; i was down and out (as always) and the night was swiftly turning to dawn i was staring out of my window on the 5th floor into an apartment 30 feet away which was occupied by a stunning brunette she was in the kitchen tugging her boy towards her kissing him with lips so perfectly immaculate with such ferocity as if it was the sky trembling at rage of the old gods of asgard during ragnork. this went on and on for a year or two i memorized every single blouse dress tee she wore and every single shade she wore them in and how each garment loosely fit (espically that blue stripped sweat shirt) drooping as if it could no longer muster the will to contain such wonder exposing her sunkissed shoulders or how they just served to fill a frame more exquisite than anything you could possibly imagine and the way the cheap yellow bulb simply added fire to the tips of her long flowing mane

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this went on and on for a year or two each night the same heaven shaking kiss always the same boy and always in the kitchen with the cheap yellow bulb simply adding fire to the tips of her long flowing mane i swear; i cannot recall being in such a state of privation: wanting to kiss anyone with such equal fervence as i have wished to kiss and to kiss

her

you


LITERATURE

Boy’s eyes blink widely at Digital Girl Her eyes dance back through the screen; her smile infects his soul through the keys She only lives in his heart Boy’s mind dreams vividly of Digital Girl Her eyes dance on the back of his eyelids, her smile fuels his desire through the sheets She only dreams of his heart Boy’s heart flutters as he sees Digital Girl Her eyes shy through the night, her smile captures his movement and stumble his feet She surely runs through his heart Digital Girl’s life sits unsuspecting His eyes forgotten it seems, his yearning hidden in dreams She lives in his past Boy stands affront with Digital Girl His eyes cry with desire, her body emboldened with fire She stands playing the part Boy breathes deep alongside Digital Girl Her eyes gracing his mornings, her smile blankets his pain She forever stays in his heart Boy’s heart melts with Digital Girl Her eyes become his; her smile grows long within mine She will never leave his soul Boy’s soul enwraps Digital Girl She shows the Boy how to live, how the Boy can be a man She lives deep within me

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READING LIST

FARES BOUNASSIF MOHAMMED EL AMIN

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE George R. R. Martin | Fantasy A kingdom lays in destruction due to internal power struggles of various nobles and factions. A world where traitors mask themselves behind the guise of patriots, and true knights are manipulated into becoming enemies. In the midst of all this turmoil stands the House of Stark, and ancient noble line whose story is the centre of the tale, and whose members are stuck in the midst of a civil war, and a the threat of dark magic wielded by a mysterious faction. A tale where good and evil are no clear concepts, where human nature and greed are placed on the forefront as each character attempts to further their own public, and private, ambitions. Masterfully written (yet plagued with publishing delays) all characters are immaculately conceived and dangerously flawed, where each character could die in the most brutal fashion possible.

THE SILMARILLION J. R. R. Tolkien | Literary Fantasy The story before the story that started it all. A book that essentially fills in the gaps created from any reading of Tolkien’s infamous Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion was, in fact, a much earlier concept on which Tolkien based most of his Middle-Earth legendarium. It begins with the creation of the Earth and carries through to the birth of the Elves and Men, as well as the inconsistencies that lead to Sauron and the Dwarves. Most recognised for its completion of the story, its most endearing influence would have to be the sheer display of literary capacity and imagination the Tolkien was able to wield, and the inspiration such creations have to offer others.(yet plagued with publishing delays) all characters are immaculately conceived and dangerously flawed, where each character could die in the most brutal fashion possible.

QUICKSILVER Neal Stephenson | Historical Fiction Rarely has history been written in a language that is so engaging, for although Quicksilver makes a remarkable break from factual history, it still contains heavy sections of purely historical information (some fictional, others not). Part of the three volume work ‘The Baroque Cycle’, it is based in late 17th Europe and North America, and travels from Ottoman Turkey to the Netherlands, all over England and France, and to key cities in New England, following several characters on their journey, and focuses on his common themes of inquires into knowledge, communication, and cryptography, offering an alternative view on the origins of these technologies.

THE CLEFT Doris Lessing | Literary Fiction A feminist approach to history if there ever was one, The Cleft is the jaw-dropping story of the earliest humans, Clefts (women), and the sudden change they experience with the birth of the first of the Monsters (men). The text continues to elaborate the methods with which the Clefts, ferocious as they are were, repeatedly attempted to get rid of the Monsters, until they eventually learned to live with them. Steering clear of character-based fiction, and inserting minor and curious afterthoughts through the voice of her pseudo-characters, Lessing uses the voice of an ancient Roman historian and the texts he has collected, to break away from the standard form of the novel in a most exhilarating way. You will definitely walk away from this doubting the origins of man as you know them.

PHANTASTES George MacDonald | Fantasy A very old story, potentially the starting point of all modern fantasy, and definitely a work that inspired great novelists like C.S. Lewis, Phantastes is an enduring work of creative fiction that continues to spark imaginative moments in the modern reader’s mind. Focusing on Trees and Fairies as evil and good, MacDonald manages to put down a solid basis for future fantastical writings and gives unique life to an exploration into the unknown – an exploration he and his Anodos experience together. Anodos is twenty-one when he discovers that he comes from a line of fairies, and enters a Fairy Land in which his adventures begin. A story told in the formal tone of most 19th century literature, MacDonald continues to tell Sir Anodos’s tale in a colourful world of magical flora and fauna.


OF ORGANISING YOURSELF AND THE SINGULAR MESSAGE LITERATURE

BY FARES BOUNASSIF

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I WRITE ABOUT WRITING A LOT. MOST OF WHAT I’VE WRITTEN REVOLVES AROUND THE ACTIVITY OF WRITING, ACTUALLY, AND HAS LED ME TO SPECULATE MORE ON THE PRACTICE THAN PRACTICING IT. I ALSO CONSIDER MOST OF MY DESIGN PROJECTS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A WRITERS’ APPROACH. What I’ve never attempted to explore is writing from a designer’s perspective. The process of a designer is not similar to that of a writer, but the general formulation is: designers attempt to communicate a particular (often singular, even through its pluralities) message to a specific audience, or a mass of audiences, in a visual language. Writers do the same thing, except we use a written language, which is a sub-group of the visual languages. Of course, just like nobody can convey one particular method of writing to a would-be writer, no one design process can apply to all designers.

THE IDEA HERE IS TO FUNCTION AS A WRITER LIKE I DO AS A DESIGNER.

Up until a few months ago, my issue with large design projects was that I’d drop the ball just when it was time to make sure I held it tight. I’d have everything just right until the very last instant when things would spiral out of control because I hadn’t organised well beforehand. This isn’t the case anymore. I’ve learnt to dissect and simplify, like I used to as a programmer when faced with hugely complex Object Oriented Programming problems.

many such small toolkits have helped me balance together various extremely large design projects.

The idea when working on large-scale programming, especially when combining different programming languages, is to maintain a system (usually a structural system based on a particular naming convention) that allows your work to fit in precisely right, so that the different elements of your design and architecture function seamlessly under

If I did, it would become a plurality of messages, not a singular message. I did that once. Sent it to an editor. His response? “Brilliant. Now can you make that into five separate books?” The masses want a singular message when they read a book. Like the designer’s work, the novelist has to ensure that the message is eventually singular, or at least create a singularity out of the plurality of messages he (or she) is trying to convey. I find that impossible, since I tend to think in pluralities.

In trying to do so with a novel, it becomes highly difficult. Writing, with regards to design, is like a collage of elements that eventually combines to become one, perfectly integrated, photograph. Like it was never a collage to begin with it. As such, you can’t subdivide it. At least I can’t.

So I can’t use programming as an organising struct. And design collages are not harmonious photographs. Outcome? Pull a Kerouac. That’s really how I see it. Write non-stop every day. Maybe don’t take as many enhancements as Kerouac did, and locking yourself up in a room for a month won’t really matter either (especially with the endless phone calls and emails you can get straight to your room [and YouTube]). But at least I could put my phone on silent in a drawer for two to four hours a day, every day, without Internet access, for six weeks. That should do it.

When I design, I let the singular message develop in my mind, consciously and otherwise, until it stews enough for me to be able to sit down and create a rough draft, or a map and structure, for the final visual. Essentially, the same should apply for my writings, except that’s never the case. When I write, I need a sentence to get me started, or a title for the article or book I’m working on, and I’m there. I’m starting to think that this is my primary problem. I’ve never written to an outline, and I’m not really ready to start to do so now, but when you’re trying to put together 50,000 words in one month, it gets a bit tough to maintain a unified message throughout. How do you ensure your characters work well together, how do you not repeat yourself? Endless questions that always get me half-way there. I’ve been ‘almost’ published as a novelist on several occasions. My problem is I don’t follow through. Oh, wait, I found it! The one common thing I have between my design process and my writing process. Well, sort of. I used to have that problem with my design process anyway.

all circumstances. It’s not easy, but with programming you get the debug option that automatically finds the faults for you, leaving you the simple task of correcting that fault (even if that simple task takes days). With design, you don’t get that option. There is no limited likelihood of potentially successful outputs: art is not as accurately defined as science and the limitations extant in programming are never present in design, which is part of the beauty of the explorations you can encounter there. Still, that naming convention, the structural system, a database of lists, and

Now I just need to find a more social way to write novels faster. Come to think of it, maybe my girlfriend’s right: novelists are anti-social bastards.


PHOTO BY FSWINNEN http://www.photoradar.com/photographer-of-the-year/photos/131983/fswinnen

Having lived in Beirut for the last few years, it did seem unusual that I had never visited Damascus. Despite the closeness of the ancient city and I, there was little incentive and almost nothing for me to go for. It was not until I went to visit a friend last month that I stumbled upon the vast wealth of cultural and artistic uniqueness the city continues to produce. We took a taxi from Beirut to Damascus, a three hour trip that involves a short stop at the Lebanese-Syrian border and brought us to windy Damascus by the late evening, when the initial strangeness had yet to set in. I’m used to flying when I visit new places, and the change in transportation methods made for a uniquely disorienting approach to travel. We got out of the taxi, waiting for our friend to come get us. It was getting colder, windier, and coming from a Beirut that had delayed its winter for over a month, we found it intensely refreshing. We walked,

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smoked a cigarette, waited for our ride, and eventually it came.

vintage Arab styles, their artistically selected competitive calligraphers.

That night we went out. Now Syria could be a lot of things, but Damascus by night is an experience that should not be forgotten. I was like a kid at a candy store, sitting in the back seat of the car watching the most fascinating of buildings pass me by, looking for the smallest most illuminating detail in the calligraphic signage that litters the city, in the exotic Arabesque twist added to French colonial structures, or French colonialism implemented on Ottoman houses, and the old Arabic traditional homes of old that still stood strong and imposing.

We eventually arrived at the pub, and within hours I had met theatrical actors, film directors, writers, painters, and dancers. The city was gushing with the most creative of trends and people. Everything was an experience to these people, and culture was their way of life.

I watched the licence plates on the cars around me, still printed using calligraphic forms instead of the more commonly visible typographic glyphs. The store signs had a consistency in their elaborately decorated fronts, their wooden and

It was like walking into an Arabian cafĂŠ in the late 19th century, when Arabism had started to take rise and modernist movements were flooding the previously isolated Levantine region. What was, however, most astounding (and pretty shocking) was how heavily these creatives in a modern world so globally inclined, so fluently multilingual, continued to produce work in Arabic, in the language of their forefathers, instead of the more common shift that most artists of Arabic origin are


guilty of (myself included): these pupils of the world, these speakers of French, of English, of Italian, regularly and confidently worked in their native tongue, a language they used so skilfully it put many of their neighbouring peers to shame. So we laughed, we met, they told me about the many events going on around the city, they invited me to visit Aleppo for even grander culture, even wilder experiences, they told me to observe and listen before I ask around, and that is what I did. In the three and half days I spent there, I saw everything. The next day, we went to an old, old house (over three hundred years) that had been made into a fantastical dining hall with an oriental atmosphere that could have been straight of out one of Shehrazade’s stories to the Shah, with an oud player on the upper balcony while we had our traditional fatteh breakfast in an interior garden so

delicately ornamented it was serenity itself just sitting there. We went to an old Arabic café to listen to the most intriguing story-teller straight out of Ottoman Damascus, a hakawati of the classic sense. He spanked the waiter and slapped the stool in front of him with his stick, while we had our tea and listened to his vibrant tellings of ancient Arab prose. What really clung, though, was the purity of it all, the simplicity and ancient beauty of a city whose cultural history has not left it, but has rather evolved with it, never ending, never damaged, even when occasionally stifled. It is a city with much to offer the Arab world in its artistic creations, in its visual splendour. The simplicity along with the quietness. The majestic silence of a city so large it is baffling. We drove through the streets of

the old town, streets made for pedestrians and horses, not cars. We walked in the old markets, where everything is on display, and everyone is looking to sell you things you don’t need. I found art galleries displaying paintings that reflected a talent and touch that could only have been found through the inspiration that the city itself throws your way. Because now, after my first visit, those little corners that I could not find the time to walk through, the old houses that have been turned into restaurants or hotels, the colonial city that has a history wider than most others, those little things I wanted to see more of, they’re my reason to go back. And, next time, I’m meeting the painters, the designers, the musicians, the actors, and the dancers. They have stories to tell. Anyone in this city would have stories to tell.


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quint magazine | issue 4