FOOT VILLAGE Perpetual Energy
AVI BUFFALO • TROUBLE BOOKS • GROWING A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS • PSYCHIC HANDBOOK STARFUCKER • TRANSPARENT • SASQUATCH!
STEFANO MARCHIONINI Nothing To hide
A Blessing In Disguise
Table Of Contents
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Featuredâ€Ś 106 Foot Village
Absurd or humorous? Or possibly both?
Sometimes shy in person, always open in photographs.
50 Jan Postma
Because everyone needs to spend a lot less time on the computer.
Fashion… 10 Alyson Fox
Why would you want to do things one at a time?
These guys do a bit more than just blogging.
80 Avi Buffalo
Young and hopeful
16 Confetti System
A tad nicer than your typical party decorations.
The love of our lives.
82 Trouble Books
Experimental pop, food, chores, songs, shows, pets, and friends.
Is it Pyramiddd or Starfucker? Time to find out!
How we learned to stop worrying and learn to love the pump.
Photography is the least of his worries.
96 A Place To Bury Strangers
Aesthetics beyond the familiar.
Being loud is an understatement.
100 Psychic Handbook Puppy March, literally.
“Cooler” than Coachella?
126 Album Reviews 140 Index
Cover No1 / Foot Village Photography : David De Ridder
Cover No2 / Stefano Marchionini
Cover No3 / Jan Postma
Submissions and Ideas firstname.lastname@example.org
Creative Director Writer At Large
Music Editor Lisa Bielsik Fashion Editor Lindsay Peters Writers Damanjit Lamba Scott Mackie Raciel Cuevas Noah Doles Danny Chau Katie Evans Iain Todd
Evan Adams Alicia Kroell Liam Crocker Daryl Sweet Brian Hunt Simon Vanderveen
Photographers Nate Miller Paul Rosales David De Ridder Jeff Antebi
All Content 2010 Rebel No Part of Rebel May be reproduced by any means without consent.
Text : Brian Vu
ALYSON FOX A SMALL COLLECTION
Let’s face it, most people we know are horrible at multitasking. Austin based artist, Alyson Fox, however, is not one of them. Fox loves the challenge of trying and experimenting with new things and ideas. She makes everything from drawings, paintings, and sculptures to jewelry and clothing. When designing, Fox always has the environment and the individual in mind. The fabrics in the collection are all sustainable, and every piece is limited and affordable. We recently got a chance to talk with Alyson about the obstacles of being an artist, A Small Collection, and how much she loves her husband. If this sounds too good to be true, then check out Fox’s work and see for yourself! Hi what’s up? What have you been up to today? I am currently working on getting my grandmothers surprise birthday party organized, finishing images of my recent photography series for a book that is being published by Chronicle Books and thinking about themes I want to work on for my next drawings. So far today I have done yoga, ate breakfast, walked my dog, went to the post office and started to clean my closet (tend to do that when I am a little stressed). Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where you’re from? I grew up as an army brat. I was born in Texas and have been living in Austin for the past 5 years. I am 30, a vegetarian and married to the love of my life. We have the sweetest craziest puppy that I adore and I am blessed with wonderful friends and family. It was in college (FSU) that I discovered that I have a strong desire to make things so I switched from nutrition to fine art focusing mostly on photography. From there I went straight to grad school in Boulder, Colorado where I received my MFA in 2004. I explored many mediums in grad school and found myself on that same path. Would you say you are more inspired by art or fashion? At the end of the day, I’d have to say Art. I’d have to say I have had my breath taken away more from an specific art piece than a piece of clothing. I tend to grasp art on a more personal level and it sticks to me longer. Having said that I think fashion can be art. For some, it is performance art. I definitely get inspired by garments and want to wear them or draw them, but art makes me feel differently. I can’t fully describe it. What is your opinion on the relationship between art and fashion? I think both inspire each other. Art can inspire fashion with color, form, pattern and vise versa. I tend to see inspiration in a lot of random things in my dai-
ly life so I think everything can inform a design decision (whether it’s conscious or not). Why limit your pieces? Mostly to keep it fun and special. Less is more in my mind. I am always working on a few different things so I don’t want to get overwhelmed with lots of quantity or be a slave to anything. Can you explain why it’s important for you to use sustainable fabrics? The less impact I have on the earth, the better. Making clothes and shipping them out is definitely making a footprint on the earth but I try to be as thoughtful and conscious as possible. I use found fabric for a lot of pieces and I make smaller editions that can be cut without much fabric waste. Why work with so many different mediums? Do you get bored easily? I like the challenge. Everything influences each other for me. I would definitely get bored if I just stuck to one medium. I’m not saying I do it all well but it definitely helps me grow and get unstuck which in the end makes me happy. I focus mostly on my fine art but I love having a small design line because it keeps me thinking in different ways and I can make a little pocket change which helps keep my art going. What’s the most difficult part about doing what you love? Having a bad day, week or month of creating and pushing through it. It can be a love/hate relationship sometimes. You can get so caught up in it all that you forget to take yourself less seriously and say it’s ok to slack a little. When you are your own boss it can be challenging sometimes. I am incredibly determined, disciplined and goal oriented so I can definitely be too hard on myself sometimes. But I am so blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love. My husband believes in me and has given me the gift of time to create. He supports me emotionally and financially, which is the best gift I could have. That is a privilege that a lot of artists do not have. In the design context, what obstacles have you faced? Working with a small budget is the big thing, but it’s also a fun challenge. What do you have planned for 2010? What should we be expecting from the new A Small Collection? New necklaces and some sculptures for the home. Lastly, what’s something that you’ve been absolutely obsessed with? Kissing. And making chocolate pudding with TEFF which is a whole grain.
Text : Damanjit Lamba
CONFETTI SYSTEM THE IMPORTANCE OF PRESERVING A CRAFT
...Art Confetti System is made up of the multi-talented Nicholas Anderson and Julie Ho, two artists who grew up in Hawaii and Taiwan respectively and joined forces in New York. Confetti System hit the floor running with clients ranging from Bergdorf Goodman and Opening Ceremony to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This duo’s aesthetic approach consists of manipulating simple materials, such as paper and silk, in order to breathe new life into everyday objects and transform the mood of the spaces they occupy. With nothing more than their hands and ideas, they hope their work will eventually change the people within these spaces as well. Nicholas and Julie seem to have a penchant for all things handmade. They believe that “being able to feel and sense the presence of the hand brings so much more life, texture, subtlety and depth than something that is mass produced.” It’s no surprise then that their influences include ancient objects such as ceramic tools, jewellery, and indigenous crafts from all over the world. They plan to go even further one day and work with materials made completely from scratch. Most people think of simple materials like paper and cardboard and think of dull, bland objects. Confetti System turns this dated idea on its head with designs that are incredibly eye-catching. Their repertoire includes dazzling silk blindfolds, bright angular piñatas, and rope necklaces colored with the most beautiful pastels. Looking through Confetti System’s projects, it’s clear their designs elevate the atmosphere in every locale, whether it’s a display window or a fashion shoot. Being able to imbue a sense of luxury into settings with the use of plain paper never seemed conceivable until now. Hi Guys, How are you? What are you doing today? We’re great. Enjoying the beautiful weather we’re having. We just got back from chelsea flea market which is down the block from our studio. It’s such a luxury to work so close to a place filled with a lot of amazing finds and inspiration. We found a pair of beautiful carved stone flower arrangements and talked to the owner for a long while about Chinese history. He always has an amazing selection. We also found a vintage dress with a beautiful print! Sort of Dries Van Noten-y. We’re just in the middle of working on our next collection of objects and about to have a delicious lunch. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? Nick: I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, a really great place to grow up, a lot of what I remember is the flora, everything was perpetually growing and blooming, very beautiful. It definitely plays a role in my aesthetic. I left for college to study ceramics and graphic design at the University of Michigan. Julie: I, Julie, was born in Taiwan and grew up in New York City and went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and studied fine arts, concentrating in sculpture and photography. From an early age, we’ve both been immersed in working with our hands creating things…inspired by our families and many art classes we sought out. Nick: My grandmother managed a Jams factory, some of my earliest memories are of visiting her after school and trimming threads and looking at the industrial sewing machines and seeing how all of the fabric got cut and sewn into clothes. Julie: From an early age, my parents always enrolled me in af-
ter school art classes. As a teenager, I started seeking art classes on my own at Cooper Union and SVA. When I was young, we always had a ton of home/shelter magazines at home from my dad’s job. I think these had a huge influence on me, being 7 and obsessively studying the way and the reasoning why objects and spaces were designed. What we do is broad, and changes and evolves every day, but comes down to putting our energy into objects with our hands and ideas. Our goal with these objects is to change the shape and mood of a space and eventually the people within it. How did you two meet? We have a lot of mutual friends, I, Nick, moved to New York and we’d see each other a lot. We started realizing we had a lot in common, really similar aesthetics. And became really good friends. What were your jobs before you started Confetti System? Nick: I was working at Martha Stewart Living for a while, as a craft editor and stylist. Before that I worked with Siri at Indigo People and for a while I was a cobbler at Jutta Neumann, one of a few people producing hand made leather sandals in NYC. Julie: I had a ton of jobs….After college, I worked as an artist assistant for Tom Sachs, made a lot of foam core sculptures, Hello Kitties, Le Corbusier buildings, etc. I lived in London for a while and worked at the Tate Modern..After moving back to New York, I wanted to keep working 3-dimensionally considering the space/environment more. I worked on window and store displays for this store called ABC Carpet and Home, did set design for film/tv/music videos a couple with Michel Gondry. Then worked as a prop stylist at Martha Stewart Living. What materials are you constantly using? Are there any materials you’d like to work with that you haven’t used already? We mostly work with paper, tissue paper, cardboard. Paper can be used in so many endless ways depending on how you manipulate it. We are really inspired by simple materials and exploring the possibilities and opportunities to transform something that is so everyday into something unexpected and refreshing. To give it value through our hands and ideas. We’re really into taking it further, ideally we would love everything we work with to be made from scratch. We’re going to experiment with hand dying our own papers and making our own rope. We’re thinking about incorporating ceramics and more textiles as well. Why is it important for you to have everything handmade? I think for us, preserving a craft is really important. We are obsessed with going to the Metropolitan Museum and looking at all the ancient objects, ceramics, tools, instruments, and jewelry all made by hand. We fell in love with the “Art of the Samurai” show a few months ago. Researching indigenous crafts from around the world and from our own Chinese, Filipino, and Hawaiian cultures, the handmade is what we are both attracted to in other work and objects. It’s the ultimate commodity these days, and it imbues an object with so much, the value of a hand made object goes beyond the object itself. Being able to feel and
...Art sense the presence of the hand brings so much more life, texture, subtlety and depth than something that is mass produced. When starting a new project, do you always have the end product in mind or do you just go with the flow?We always have a vision of what a particular project is going to look like, the fantasy of what we would like it to be.You never really know what will happen until you actually start working on it and we definitely welcome spontaneity and letting it take on a new form or direction. Sometimes the best ideas or revelations develop from letting the process organically flow. You share a space with Graphic Designer Alex Lin, and are in the same building as New York’s only veterinary dermatologist. Can you tell us what a veterinary dermatologist is? It’s true! We’re not really sure what happens within the offices of the veterinary dermatologist but it’s got to be pretty good. We’re always in the elevator with plenty of adorable dogs. How do you choose your color palatte for each project? The colors are quite bright, ever thought about using darker colors? Each project is different. For our own work, we usually are inspired by one particular color, one that we’ve been obsessing about and feel close to, and start building on top of that. How other colors relate with it, either complementing it or creating something unexpected. Figuring out the palette is such a pivotal moment, it affects our mood and the way we develop the work. With clients, the palette is often suggested by them and we’ll work together to develop it further. Our colors are quite bright but we’ve been feeling the pull of darker colors lately and will be incorporating them into our new objects. You’ve done so many collaborations, are there any that stood out to you? Definitely our first collaboration with United Bamboo! Miho and Thuy saw our first series and invited us to do the set for their spring 2008 runway show. They gave us a few parameters but really trusted our aesthetic and we arrived the day of the show with our first large garland piece sight unseen. We installed it and it worked so well with the collection and the mood of the season, even the music. They ended up sending it to japan to install in the tokyo store and we’ve been working with them ever since, we create installations for their after parties and design custom accessories for their Tokyo store. Another favorite was our Cinco de Mayo window for Opening Ceremony. Humberto thought it would be a great fit, we developed a palette and direction together. tThose were the first large scale pinatas we created, we loved how overwhelming it was in the window. As we were installing it, we played with the idea of incorporating a dress or shoes in and in the end, they put in an amazing Rodarte dress which ended up working perfectly. The palette and composition really came together. What was it like working on the Capsule Collection for Urban Outfitters? How did this come about? Urban outfitters approached us, it was really a great opportunity and we learned a lot. We designed the product based on our first series of party sup-
plies and they produced it for us. These were the first pieces that were not produced in our studio, it was difficult letting go of the handmade aspect but they did a great job with production and we were happy in the end with the results. We also worked with them to design the in-store PARTYPARTY shop, versions of which were installed in 40 stores across the US. They also had a great launch party at the 14th street store in NYC, it was so much fun. Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Beach House are two of my favorite bands right now. We saw your pieces at Coachella! How was it designing for them? Oh wow, how did the stage look at Coachella? It’s been great. They invited us to see them at the Bell House in Brooklyn the debut of Teen Dream. It was an amazing show and we immediately envisioned what we wanted the stage to look like. We met Victoria and Alex backstage and I guess they saw a pinata from our PARTYPARTY collection at Urban Outfitters and really loved it. They wanted to recreate a similar mood for their stage so we created oversized pinatas varying in sizes and colored metallics. We also created several extra long tassel garlands. The idea was to create singular elements that would give them flexibility, they are able to adapt the installation to each venue. Alex had the idea to make them spin, really genius. We can’t wait to see them in New York. What would you say is the longest that you’ve worked on a project? I think the OC Cinco de Mayo windows. We had never made so many oversized pinatas before! They were 3ft-to 5ft tall. We hand cut and build everything, from the basic form, to the fringe, to the confetti inside the pinata, even hand making our own matching twist ties that keep the trap door closed. Favorite musicians / bands right now are... We’ve been listening a lot to an album of Gucci Mane remixes put out by Mad Decent. It’s pretty amazing! We’ve also been listening a lot to Omar Souleyman and traditional Indian music. Also getting back into Dee-Lite and Ariel Pink again! Beach House, MGMT, DJ Kingdom mixes are all on heavy rotation. What reaction do you want people to get from your creations? It’s very intuitive for us, really about transmitting a mood and energy to the viewer. We hope our work of paper and other simple materials transcends just that and reaches something emotional in the viewer. In the end we want people to have fun and maybe take a moment to be in the present. What are you currently working on and what do you have planned for the future? We just started on a new series of objects. We’re hoping to have them complete and to start thinking about a shoot for them this summer. When you’re not at the studio, you’re. Nick: At home sewing, I used to make a lot of my clothes, really basic stuff, and I’m trying to get back into it this summer, we want to sew some things for Julie too... Julie: Potting plants!
Text : Daryl Sweet
LOVE IN THE TIME OF BRUSSE
Brusse is an artist on a mission. His manifesto is one of love, a positive ideology to spread love, to examine and celebrate love, and it is around this concept that his projects are based. I asked him where this focus on love came from: “Love is my muse and interest because it is the most important energy and feeling in the world. There is no higher emotion, so it is actually an honor to make works about it. Love is my boss, my guideline and teacher. A friend who opened my spiritual eyes always says I am in love with love itself”. Love as an influence Brusse has three primary projects; Love Injections, StreetLove, and Spray Love, all exploring love using different materials in different contexts. As Brusse explains, “The trigger of everything was “love injections”. That is my baby, my contemporary view of romance, changing the face of romance as we know it. “How to say I love you in an original creative way”. This idea came because of 2 moments, the first one being completely in love with a girl when I was 20. This drove me to corners in my head I didn’t know existed. I literally exploded romantically in my head. “She lived on the first floor so I went for a ladder and when she was away I went up to stick a rose to her window. The result: she entered her apartment seeing a rose sticking on the other side of the window. That moment was magical, doing the whole thing. The story never died in my city. At the moment I was sticking the rose on her window up there it started to snow. For me it was one of the most special moments because of that.
“The second one was with another girl. I bought her flowers but couldn’t find a jar…but I did find tape so I stuck the twenty flowers everywhere in our apartment, with a little note under each flower which always started with: “because…” (because you smell so good, because you are so beautiful, because your breasts are gorgeous, etc). When she came into the apartment she truly was blown away (seeing only the first flower, so imagine the other nineteen.) Her eyes shined as never before. This was the second trigger and a few weeks later I decided to make a book around romance.” Love injections From these inspirations Brusse created Love Injections, a selection of love themed art that feature a creative use of different materials to inject a message of love into the location, as in ‘Fridge Love’, where the message “I want to eat you baby” is spelled out using food in an open fridge. “The book was a true adventure”, Brusse recalls. “I touched so many people, lived so many intense feelings together with my girlfriend, my sister, my mother, and friends. It was the best year of my life. The love bubble got stronger and stronger and I felt it more and more. My job was one hundred percent emotions.” Street Love From this experience Brusse was inspired to inject love into the city, and his Street Love project involves cleverly positioned pieces which are striking to the viewer due to the contrast of location and message. As Brusse puts it, Street Love is about “creating an interaction between people and love represented by objects, words or paintings on the streets, this with
the aim that people think and rethink their relationship, their own situation and about love itself.” Brusse now collaborates with the photographer Hanse Cora (www.hansecora.com) who he met around this time. “Before I knew it we worked together on the Streetlove book and several pages of the Love injections book. At the moment we are finishing the Streetlove book. The collaboration is amazing.” Spray Love The third project is Spray Love, which Brusse explains is focused on “Paint on a canvas. Relations, sex, emotions, seduction, desire … It is the most symbolic part of the three projects. Lots of inspiration comes from analyzing my own emotions. It is in a certain way autobiographical and not… Because everyone has the same feelings.” Brusse cites “everybody and everything” as an influence on his work, such as “seeing an object out of its context on the flea market conversations, an article, songs, the street, situations “. In terms of other artists, he cites Wim Delvoye, Dan Graham, Jeff Wall, Anish Kappur, and Jeff Koons as those who amaze him. He respects artists of any kind; musicians, filmmakers, celebrities, if they have a soul, those who are out to “change the world into a better place”. Future As for the future, Brusse has many plans, “too many”, he admits. His Love Injections book was self-published due to a lack of publishing support and ended up selling 2000 books in one year, something which has given Brusse the ambition to distribute the book all over the globe. Currently completing the book
for Streetlove with Hanse Cora, Brusse plans a new project in the summer in which he “will live 90 days in 90 different places through Europe. Every day a new energy, it will be a life experience. I need lots of material for the main project and this was the coolest, funniest, most creative way to get it. Every person I visit will be in the artwork. You can follow the experience a little bit on www.ilovebrusse.com, but I can’t tell anything more about it, because I want to keep it as a surprise to the world. London, Paris, Madrid or Barcelona will be the end point where I will show the work. I sell all my possessions, so it will be me, one suitcase and the world. I expect the word “freedom” will be felt because I won’t be attached to any material or place. “I also have a project where I want to connect the world and send consciousness all over. A really contributing project - Contribution is the word to fulfill yourself as a person. For me it is the highest form of person. No more consuming but contributing.” Brusse is an artist with real vision and ambition. He has “250 ideas waiting about artworks and projects. And every day a new one is written down. The mind goes fast when trained. That’s also the reason why I am looking for an investor(s) to start making things bigger. But the investor(s) which I will choose must feel the projects… money is not enough. It must be people who feel, know, understand and ARE love. The energy must be right. These persons must have the desire to contribute and be enriched by what is coming. The numbers are nothing compared with the feelings which will be in those projects. As I said your life is the sum of your emotions not of your bank account. And yes I realize that money is an issue here but if I don’t find those investors I will do those projects anyway, because fear, barriers or problems don’t exist. Only solutions. Believe and love is the message.”
Text : Damanjit Lamba
DARREN RIGO THE LAND IS ON HIS BLOOD
While Darren Rigo would argue that you need to get out and experience nature instead of reading about it, his portfolio of beautiful and magical landscapes is the next best thing when you’re stuck in a bustling metropolis. Rigo is a recent graduate from the Ontario College of Art “My work is more about and Design (OCAD) where he was enrolled planning and experimenting in an art-focused photo than actually photographing.” program. Hailing from rural Southern Ontario, Rigo came to Toronto to attend OCAD and fell head over heels for the Toronto art community. A community, I’m sure, that feels just as overjoyed about him and his work. Nevertheless, Rigo hasn’t been able to let go of the landscape back home and his work perpetually displays a strong connection to his home terrain. Darren Rigo’s work is inherently sentimental. Evidence of this can be seen in his project entitled “Points of Interest” that displays passing buildings en route to his family cottage and in “Transfer,” a project that consists of all the transfers Darren collected from streetcars since moving to Toronto. In
“Shangri-La,” Darren photographs his family’s property and the private spaces he grew up with as a child. Darren believes that individuals need to have a private and intimate relationship with nature, which is why he almost always goes to these locations by himself. To sell this point home, he configured the shots in “Shangri-La” with individuals who shared the land (farmers, family members, and hunters) and placed them in the mid-ground and background of the images to make viewers realize how important it is to experience landscapes on a personal level. While viewing the images, the presence of other individuals is uncomfortable and threatening to the calm feeling individuals get when they are alone and completely surrounded by an expansive countryside. I can’t help but think back to my own escapades on a hiking trail in Northern Ontario. When other residents crossed my path, it really took away from the serene experience. Canada has 72 acres of land for each denizen so some peace and quiet from city life should be possible for all. In “Domestic Wilderness,” Rigo reconfigures natural objects such as rocks
and wood to make spectators recognize the indisputable presence of human life in the wilderness. The landscape may be large, but one’s eyes are pulled in towards his manipulated natural structures that point to “deep traces of our human intervention.” Rigo strips away conventional romantic associations of nature. According to Rigo, nature is something we cannot fundamentally understand and when we attempt to, only destruction ensues. However, Rigo uses a camera to document the wilderness, going against his claim that our attempts to photograph and label the entire surface of our planet, through applications such as Google Earth, is erroneous. Rigo’s work does not aim to provide an objective view of nature. “Domestic Wilderness” is clearly staged to bring about a reaction from spectators. The camera is not an innocent machine that captures nature without bias or aesthetic considerations. Rigo himself states “ my work is more about planning and experimenting than actually photographing.” Landscapes are also used to displace mass produced objects such as balloons, tinfoil, sparklers, vinyl table cloths, and christmas bulbs, from ma-
terial connotations. Landscapes are used to elicit a new appreciation for everyday objects and make one question the circumstances that brought these items, which we usually link to urban living, to such isolated locales. Perhaps there was a late night party in the woods to explain the singular red balloon hanging on a branch and the blue tinsel in the forest overlaid with snow. Rigo invokes a kind of narrative in each project he carries out. In his landscape pieces, one can’t help but wonder whose livelihoods those abandoned buildings once housed, why commonplace objects were left lying around, and for what reasons humans inhabited and manipulated natural environments. The answers are never clear cut as he leaves interpretation open to viewers. His work is very youthful in terms of its whimsical take on the wilderness. One begins to see enchantment and signs of alternate life instead of sparklers and tinfoil planes. Observers will likely spend extended periods of time looking over the vibrant portfolio of this talented Canadian native.
Text : Iain Todd
JOHANNA WARWICK THE FAMILIAR AND THE UNFAMILIAR
Johanna Warwick’s photography has a stillness about it. Her work pulls its audience to a specific place, in front of a specific object, and confronts each viewer with images that act like blotches on an otherwise aesthetically pure canvas. “The Weight Of The World” is a fantastic example of this: whites, greys, pinks and blues fragment into one another, and one’s eye is drawn sharp yet “Making a body of work is a long towards prominently disprocess of constantly questioning sonant shapes. The and interrogating yourself about background exists as a mere afwhy you’re making pictures, what terthought, until it you want your pictures to say, and too becomes interwoven within each if they are saying it” piece. Sharp, disjointed shadows and lines emanate from beyond the foreground subject, until they become entangled and interwoven within the unfamiliar composition of the overall work. The pieces in this collection find an aesthetic beyond the human and the familiar. The photographer admits a fascination with the work of Doug DuBois. Like DuBois, her portrait photography mixes familiar human emotions with unfamiliar spaces. Her characters appear out of context, and therefore encourage the viewer to deconstruct the commonplace expressions and focus on each, individual aesthetic. Warwick’s admission that she is currently striving to create a non typological series of photographs indicates the direction in which her work is moving. In her latest project, “All That Love Allows”, the familial, shared, physical characteristics of the subjects bind the
work together, yet it is the positioning of these subjects in, under, and above water, solitary and together, naked and covered, which provides an inconsistent narrative, moving from frame to frame. Each piece displays an oxymoronic relationship between subject matter and subject. There is yet a startling realism to this project. Nakedness and imperfection are painted onto the subjects, and yet the fabric remains dream like. White and grey surround human faces, hands, feet and bodies, and yet unknown limbs and shards of shadow make their own mark across each picture. In this way, the subject of each picture is framed and intruded on by both light and nature. Contrast, for example, photos three and eleven. The borders of the swimming pool and the surrounding objects and signs all have the mark of humanity upon them. The subject is submerged, but for the head, in still, undisturbed water. Two mosaic tile dolphins surround her, and a stark, deep blue line separates shallow and deep. The subject remains in the shallow, arms outstretched, the water surrounding, yet supporting the body. The open sea, however, has no borders. There are two subjects now, facing away from the viewer, looking into the distance. The people hold onto one another as they prepare for the impending crash of white foam on their bodies. They are poised, and the ocean lies before them; an unknown territory not yet experienced. Nature is intrusive, but it is not limiting. It moulds the characters for the viewer, but does not define them.
“Inspiration can just come from stepping into a room you step into everyday and you see the light in a moment you haven’t before - and it transforms everything. Light is the most seductive thing”. The sixth image in her previous project, ‘Lonely As This Sea’ shows us that there is hope for the subjects within the surroundings of nature. Again a solitary figure is partly submerged by water; a deep blue line strikes just beyond its reach. But this time, the posture is one of relaxation and contentment; not the muffled, stiff shape we see in the pool in ‘All That Love Allows’. The horizon is a striking row of multicolour; a bold interjection in an otherwise calm and lucid environment. Above; sky blue and white. Below; ocean grey. Yet again the subject rests within nature. ‘In Progress’ shows us just that; life in progress. An old man sits with a young man; a single house amongst a desert of emptiness is framed by the domesticity of the window frame. Humanity influences nature, just as nature shapes humanity. An orange red glow emanates from wooden boards, framed by pale green borders. Shadows emerge from the left hand side of the edge of the picture, seeming to envelope the luminescence which nature has created, and will now destroy. Human faces are surrounded, sometimes covered, by thickets. One grave is newly dug, the other overgrown. A small boy sprinkles his grandfather’s ashes into as yet undisturbed, opaque water; old influences young, and young defines old. Nature can be at our mercy; we can contextualise it.
‘Lonely As This Sea’ presents humanity as an absence. She shows us cultivated gardens; a single, pruned and trimmed tree; a path, stretching into the distance, separating the overgrown, unmaintained grass from a row of multicoloured huts. Pictures of a now absent human presence. Two men dig a hole; their effort barely making a dent in the surface of the earth, while in the background, a tower leans over them; the cultivation of nature is observed, used, and therein lies its purpose. Two empty chairs sit before an object. The object may be unfamiliar to some, and of insurmountable importance to others. The absence of humanity means that the cultivation of nature no longer has a point. Yet it is in its pointlessness that an object develops a new aesthetic. An empty, made bed in an empty room is expectant. Even absence can depict presence. It is lonely as ‘this’ sea, for ‘this’ signifies that it is definite; it is known; it is missed. An unused, wooden coat stand sits in an empty hallway; the cultivation of nature by humanity gives it a purpose beyond aesthetics, even if it no longer performs that purpose. Johanna Warwick’s photography shows its viewer a world in which nature and human expression are redefined. The positioning of human beings within their surroundings is shown to be that which defines and contextualises them. For the viewer, they are already de contextualised, and therefore this new positioning throws a new light on the old, making the familiar unfamiliar. Familial ties are uncertain and displaced; juxtaposed, and yet it is this displacement which gives Warwick’s photography its aesthetic.
Text : Brian Vu
JAN POSTMA A BLESSING IN DISGUISE
Jan Postma enjoys living in his life in Rotterdam, Netherlands and often visits his hometown Delft very often. Here, he does a lot of smoking, reading, watching films, hanging out with friends, and listening to Italo Disco, Bach, and Mahler. When asked about his life in the Netherlands, he replies, “Sometimes seemingly dull, as I imagine it to be in every wealthy democracy, but really a blessing in disguise.” Postma also visits Amsterdam from time to time, although he claims that most worthwhile museums seem to be closed for an indefinite period of time.
more pictures.” With “I’m not one to be too cocky about it, his mother’s help, Jan learned the basics of but the day I think my photography darkroom printing in will benefit from digital equipment, their bathroom. He al- I’ll start using it.” ways carries around his Mamiya 7 with him everywhere though he doesn’t see himself wanting to be he goes. Postma believes that he takes a part of it, he also shoots fashion. When it better photographs using film. “I’m comes to color, Jan prefers everything to be not one to be too cocky about it, but subdued, and very minimal. the day I think my photography will benefit from digital equipment, I’ll As of now, Postma is unsure with start using it.” Digital photography is what he wants to do with his life. “I’m not sometimes superficial and flat, while that busy. I’ve been unemployed since I film is more honest and natural. Postma graduated last summer. I have little plans already feels like he spends too much apart from figuring out whether I should time on the computer, and doesn’t want enter academia as a political scientist, to make photographs behind a screen. journalism as a drunk or professional pho“Even scanning the occasional 4x5 tography as a freelance slave… although negatives gets a bit tedious, possibly the last is not really something I aspire to.” because I’m not really good at it.” Hopefully Postma will continue shooting photos for the world to see. The photograThe people you see in these photo- pher has prints available for purchase, so graphs are his friends and family. Even make sure to grab one while they last!
Postma has been shooting photography since the age of seventeen. “When I was seventeen my parents, my brother and I went on a coast-to-coast roadtrip, from NYC to San Francisco. My mother brought her Minolta slr and a load of cheap black and white film. After that I gradually started taking more and
Text : Brian Vu
STEFANO MARCHIONINI NOTHING TO HIDE
Bottom line: Stefano Marchionini is open-minded. He doesn’t feel the need to choose between film or digital, he isn’t afraid to show the public his most intimate moments, and his work is constantly changing. According to Marchionini, change is healthy. The photographer has already taken thousands of photographs and more importantly making priceless memories. His photographic style is always progressing and never remains static. Marchionini will be attending school again at the ENSBA (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts) in the fall. Luckily it’s summertime, which probably means more time for photography. In the end, nothing gets in the way between Marchionini and his art. Here’s why... Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do? I’m 24, I grew up in a lake city in the North of Italy, Verbania, on Lake Maggiore. Then I moved to Venice when I was 19 to attend the Accademia di Belle Arti. I graduated in painting after four years of studies. During the last year I discovered photography and started to take pictures after I met my boyfriend. Other stuff: I really enjoy cooking, I’d love to be a pastry chef, and I love to play the piano, although I couldn’t bring mine with me here in Paris. You were born in Italy, how did you end up in Paris? The last year in Venice I met Vivien who was there for an interniship. In fact I found his flickr page almost a year before we finally met in person and before that we had a great time chatting for like six months, but no one could imagine we would end up together. After my graduation I decided it was time to change, otherwise I’d have to continue the studies and have another two years in the same school. We both moved to Aix-en-Provence together, where Vivien studied, and we stayed there for more than a year, enjoying the warm and dazzling Provence. I never studied French so I attended the French courses for foreign students at the local university. I also tried to enter the School of Arts in Aix-en-Provence, but they didn’t accept me, so after a great summer spent at Vivien’s house
with his parents, sisters, dog and cats, I started to think more and more about the possibility of moving to Paris and trying to enter there. Luckily enough Vivien found an intership in Paris so we moved here on February 1st. The first month I was freaking out trying to make a successful portfolio, they accepted it and then I did an interview in front of twenty professors and students and they finally accepted me. So, in September I’ll start “going to school” again at the ENSBA, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the most known here in Paris. I can’t wait to start painting again, keep doing etching and work in a proper photo lab! What initially made you interested in photography? As I said, I started to photograph when I met my boyfriend, who was already photographing for like two years. I immediately bought a digital slr camera, the same month we met. I guess it was an opportunity to start working with a new medium, it was so fresh and new for me! Just like this relationship that started during that summer. Of couse at first I was more focused to photograph our moments of intimacy but soon I started to take pictures of my friends and of the house where I lived with three of them and where Vivien moved in after a few months he was in Venice. I have lots of nice memories of that period, Venice never seemed to be so happy. Film seems to fit you like a glove. Your photos would not have this lush quality to them without it if they were digital. Did you always shoot film? I love film but I love digital as well. I want to be free and decide whatever camera I want to use, I don’t like to be stuck and work only with a single type of medium. In fact, I think that digital has great possibilities and I like to use it now and then. Of course film is beautiful, and this is why I tend to photograph everything with it. Beautiful things happen to be often around me, and I guess that film has a “natural” ability to capture this kind of beauty. You’ve taken hundreds and hundreds of photographs. How has your photographic style
changed throughout the years? I’ve taken way too many photographs, I think it’s part of the euphoria of me starting to work with something new. My photographic work changed, I think, already after a few months. It was just much more open and not only focused on me and my boyfriend. I think it was healthy to change. Another change was after I moved to France. At the end of the summer I bought The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin, it was actually a gift for Vivien, and I was so fascinated and amazed by her work. And that was when I started understanding what was the idea of photography I had in my mind. So the first months in France I’d frequently leaf through that beautiful book and I guess this influenced me a lot. But influences are not to be searched only in other photographers works, another part of my inspirations comes from the great young photographers (can’t even start to mention them!). I met through flickr and on the internet. What I mean is that one has to be always ready to welcome what other creative minds offer to him: books, movies, paintings, real artists, music, landscapes, persons, encounters, everyday life, everything is inspirational. So you just got a Mamiya RB67 Pro S. The black and whites look amazing. How’d you get your hands on that? And what do you think of it so far? I’m so thrilled about the Mamiya RB67 Pro S, I think we’ll get along pretty well! Right now I have a little problem with it so I don’t want to talk too much but I hope I’ll have the chance to take some beautiful pictures with it. It’s a great camera! Can you tell us a little bit about the Entr’ouvert project, it’s themes and content? Entr’ouvert is the first project my boyfriend and I did together. We created it on the occasion of a contest that took place in Venice and we participated to a group show called Azione Mutante! for Accade 2008 in December 2008, at the Jarach Gallery in Venice. The work originates in our desire to integrate photographic images of different origins into diptychs, whose nature is to shed new light on their constitu-
ent parts. The combination of the chosen images shows the relation between man and the urban or rural landscape, the relation between “internal” (the intimate dimension) and “external” (the social dimension). It is our wish to avoid whatever narrative might originate from the single images used in the diptychs: there is no story, there is no text. This lack of causality between the two images of the diptych will allow the single viewer to form his own response. We expose man to an image of himself and of his constructions of natural and artificial bodies. Your photos have such a revealing and sensual quality to them. Why be so honest with your personal life for the public to see? Photographs can’t always be private, art is not private, it is social! What do I have to hide? I mean, I’m a very private person and quite shy too, but when I talk with someone I tend to be open about lots of things, I think I’m doing the same thing with my work. While talking with someone, I don’t like to adjust the things I want to say and tell incomplete stories depending on who I’m talking to. If I have to talk, I talk. Of course sometimes I don’t feel like doing it at all! With photography I’m telling you my story just as if I would tell it with my words, as if it were the only way. But this is just my part, the viewer’s one is a whole different story! So I noticed a lot of photos in your photostream of a corgi. Is that yours? I’m obsessed with corgis! I have one myself, love him to death. The lovely corgi is not mine, I wish it were! His name is Dandy and he lives at Vivien’s parents house. He’s such a funny and tireless fellow, and he’s also a total photo whore! What projects are you currently working on and what do you have planned down the pipeline? Maybe another work with Vivien, we are thinking about it right now. I have other projects that will include other media besides photography, but I guess it’s too soon for me to tell! Hopefully in the next months everything will start to take shape!
Text : Evan Adams
TRANSPARENT AT THE FOREFRONT OF A MUSICAL REFORMATION
In an era where more and more labels are going digital, London based record label and blog Transparent are preserving traditions with their nostalgic view of the music industry. Though they began with print media as a magazine in 2005, they now feature their favorite artists on their popular blog and release some of them – from Washed Out to Cymbals Eat Guitars – on 7” vinyl singles. Rebel recently caught up with the Transparent crew, shortly after their showcase with Twosyllable at South by Southwest, to discuss their rising label and the challenges central to promoting up-and-coming musicians. Hey guys, how are you? What are you doing today? Hey! We’ve just woken up, sitting in the kitchen getting ready to face cold London! So you guys had a showcase with Twosyllable in SXSW. How was that? It was brilliant, we had so much fun. We’ve never been to Austin/SXSW before so didn’t know what to expect but luckily Brian and Zach from 2Syllable were amazing at doing a huge amount of work with the venue/sound/bands and we just kinda turned up and watched our bands! It was great finally meeting and hanging out with all the bands we had put out and become such good friends with through email. How’s life currently in the UK? It’s good, we’re still a bit down about not being in Texas anymore; great weather, such friendly people and being on holiday! But we’ve just been slowly adjusting back to work/university and it’s nice to be back home. How did you two meet? A bit lame but we met a few years ago through a band’s music forum and got on really well. We now live together! When and how did you two know that you wanted to start Transparent? It started shortly after we met, in early 2005 we decided that we wanted to write about music and we loved the idea of a DIY printed zine so with a few other friends we came up with the name Transparent and wrote some articles/reviews, printed them off and stapled them together. Where did the name come from? It doesn’t have any significance, it was just something that came into our heads that we decided we liked the sound of! So you put on many shows such as with artists including Girls, Noah and the Whale, The xx, etc. What would you say was the most memorable Transparent show? Some of the earlier shows we did were possibly not as musically accomplished but memorable because there were so many young kids going wild at them but I guess I’d say the most memorable is actually the one that went worst. We put on the XX in London about a year and a half ago, shortly before the album building up buzz but hardly
anyone came to the show – approx 30 people watched them and we lost a lot of money. A few months later they were selling out huge shows! How did it transition from a magazine to a record label?What do you want to accomplish with it? The magazine just fizzled out because it required so much time and effort and co-ordination of all the writers handing in things on time. Articles and interviews were out of date if we sat on them for a few weeks so the progression to a blog was very natural. We always wanted to put out bands and just made the plunge in summer last year. What kind of artists do you guys represent? Anything we fall in love with. Everyone we’ve released usually has one central creative pushing force, even if they’re a larger band and I think we love anything with a great melody whether its really clean and obvious or drenched in reverb. Why Vinyl? How limited are your releases? We’ve always loved vinyl – the touch, nostalgia, having big artwork and an interesting product. The whole thing is just so emotive that if someone else was putting out these vinyls we would still be buying them. CDs are so impersonal and mass produced. We do 300 of each. So you’ve only put out 7”s so far, and you have a Lonely Galazy 10” coming out. Are you guys planning on releasing full lengths soon? We’ll be releasing our first full length this June by an artist called Herzog. We’re hoping to do a lot more of those, maybe 3 or 4 a year. One for each season! Who are some artists that you guys are really excited about right now? Apart from the ones we plan on releasing we love Diamond Rings, Magic Kids, Pure Ecstasy, WU LYF and Sleep Over right now. What is the best and the worst thing about having your own record label? What challenges have you had? The best thing is having the freedom without having to answer to anyone higher up or having to limit ourselves creatively. We get to be able to work with some great artists and put our name to one of their records which we feel really honoured by. The worst thing is hoping other people like them/will buy them! We try not to worry about that too much but it’s always at the back of our minds. We’ve been quite lucky overall, just small things like manufacture faults and artwork delays can sometimes throw release dates off course! What are your five favorite albums of 2009? Smith Westerns – S/W, Girls – Album, The xx – ST, Real Estate – ST, Wild Beasts – Two Dancers
Text : Douglas Sweeney Photography : Jeff Antebi
AVI BUFFALO NOT THE AVERAGE HIGH SCHOOL BAND
I’d hate to say I told you so, but...I’ll never forget when I saw Avi Buffalo at the Echo Curio in Los Angeles as a twopiece in early 2009. At the time, the performance consisted of stripped down versions of songs, which have now grown to become Indie-Rock staples. The following months I told anyone who would listen about this band that I didn’t catch the name of who totally “killed it” at the Curio, this band who was “going to be huge.” I felt privileged to be able to see them before everyone else did. Once I found out their name, I was shocked to see that I was right--they had just been signed to Sub Pop and were gearing up to release a full-length record. I caught them at FYF Fest and every chance I got after that and just reveled in the knowledge that I was right. Now, Avi Buffalo is exceeding even my wildest expectations. They are playing high-profile gigs with the likes of Pavement, Modest Mouse and My Morning Jacket. This exciting young band (and I mean young) exemplifies everything that is right in the world of independent music. The fact that a band of teenagers from Long Beach, CA could get signed to such
a revered label based on solely on their songs speaks volumes about industry today. Avi Buffalo front man, Avi Zahner, was nice enough to answer some question about his band, his new album and his experiences on the road. How did your band meet up and decide to start writing music together? First I was in a band called Monogram and we were really loud and I wanted to make something more delicate and make it more about the songs, something I could get more gratification out of and possibly play more shows with. I started writing songs alone and recording them myself around 10th grade and I met all the people in my band in high school through the [Long Beach] music scene. I played the acoustic thing called Outsider Folk and I got together some friends and then we got an electric band together because there was a house show coming up. Then we met Aaron Embry, this amazing engineer and producer who used to play piano for Elliott Smith, and we started recording at his house. Then half way through it we got called up by Sub Pop, which we never expected to happen.
What was it like to just leave high school in order to pursue music? It was kind of scary--I mean, I feel like I should go back to school at some point, it’d be a really good thing to do [laughs]. If only to just have a little bit more of a broad variety and to see a little bit more of the real world. Half way through high school I lost interest and started focusing on the music more, until it became the priority. I wish I would have kept a better balance so I’d be more set to go to college in the future, if I wanted to. Even though I’d probably have to go to City College because I have a lot of math to make up. How would you describe the sound of your new album to someone who has never heard it before? Well, the album is kind of a collection of songs and sort of shows you what we’ve been up to the past three years. There is a lot going on, a lot of overdubs and a lot improvised sounds. It was definitely a learning process and I think we did a pretty good job figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Maybe we’ll try a more stripped down approach for the next record, but for the first record it’s a really exciting introduction. I just hope it’s not too overwhelmingly bright and bouncy. What were some of your influences while writing the album? When I first starting listening to music, the people that really influenced me to start making something of my own were Wilco-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost is Born especially. People like Jim O’Rourke is an amazing producer and was really a branching off point for me, Nels Cline is a great guitar hero of mine and Grizzly Bear [Daniel Rosen]. Panda Bear [Noah Lennox] is just a beautiful musician and I just really admire how he’s such a perfectionist, he just makes music that is truly amazing. A lot of Neil Young, Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane are just really inspiring. Are there any specific events in your life that you would like to talk about that inspired the album, since we hear specific names and stories within the lyrics? Yeah, there are a number of just weird girls that inspired the lyrics and the basically the idea of being romantically frustrated. The songs cover such a broad array of ideas that it’s kind of crazy to pick one all encompassing theme, but I guess love is a reoccurring theme. Some of the songs I don’t even know what they’re about. I’ve seen videos of you playing with loop-stations and generally experimenting with sound, would you say that you’re interested in noise music and experimentation? Yeah, absolutely! I just wish I was better at it. I’ve been like trained and mentored in traditional music, like blues and jazz a little bit, but I feel like I could really benefit from being educated in experimental things. I don’t want to get too crazy and I mean there is a fine line I would like to operate within with my music. But I would like to maybe see some flourishes of noise or experimental sounds in
the future with the music. I don’t want to get too crazy or too loop station-y. I really love doing it though, I have this thing called the Electro Harmonix 2880 Looper and it’s a really amazing machine and it has a stereo 8-Track pretty much and it’s really fun to mess around with that. I’m not sure if this band should go in the direction of noise-stuff but I’m definitely interested in starting other bands where I’ll be doing that and exploring some stuff. Your record release show is at The Troubadour, what other venues do you aspire to play at in the future? Whichever, really. I’m really excited for the Sasquatch Festival and the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival and we have a bunch of shows coming up where we get to play with cool bands like Pavement, Iggy Pop, Dirty Projectors and stuff like that. It’ll be really fun to see all these bands. Any gig we do I try to make the best of the venue and try to get the best sound possible. Do you have any favorite venues? In LA there is Pehrspace which is a really great, really awesome, really homey D.I.Y.-run/ volunteer-run, all-ages gallery type of place in Echo Park--there is always wonderful energy there and I love playing there. There is this place called Mr T’s Bowl in Highland Park, I have a lot of really great memories from that place. In New York we played Bowery Ballroom which is a really great place and really great sounding. But I mean, every venue is magical in it’s own way and that’s why I want to play as many places as I can. What are you most excited for when it comes to touring Europe? Really just to be there, I really have no idea what to expect so I’ll just have to see what it’s like. I’m really excited for the food--really good Indian food. But mostly I’m just excited to play shows, I wish we had more time to be there but we are mostly just touring through. You’re opening for Modest Mouse for some shows, how do you feel about that? Really, really stoked. They’re just an amazing band. They just do the most magical stuff, I mean--The Moon and Antarctica is just a really beautiful record. I even like their rarities record, especially this song called “Here it Comes”. My friend from back home is really into Modest Mouse and it was always fun to jam with him because he would sort of channel that Modest Mouse-vibe and it’d be really fun to collaborate with him. I’m really jealous of Isaac Brock’s ability to have that awesome, sloppy sound. What are some memorable moments from your tour thus far? Well, we were just in Las Vegas and that was an experience, it’s kind of a gross, scary place but the show we played was really cool-it was an outside brick wall. We stayed at a completely random person’s house, we were just walking down the street and we asked this guy if we could stay at his house and he was like “sure”. It was really surprising [laughs].
Text : Scott Mackie
TROUBLE BOOKS LIKE A WALK WHERE THE VIEWS KEEP CHANGING SLOWLY
Trouble Books make some of the most distinctive indie-pop in the world. The band, comprised of Keith Freund, Linda Lejsovka, (and sometimes Mike Tolan), is from Akron, Ohio, and they have their own record label, Bark and Hiss (www.barkandhiss.com). Their albums include Distortion Pedal (2007), The United Colors Of (2008), Endless Pool (2009), Selected Early Songs 2005 – 2006 (2009), and their most recent, Gathered Tones (2010), which was released in March of this year by Own Records (www.ownrecords.com). Their sound has been described as “Beautiful pop songs that blossom from under synthesizer swells and guitar clouds, later to be buried in noise or drift off into ambient atmospherics.” Though fairly accurate, this description fails to note the vocals and lyrics, which are some of the most literary and unique in the indie-pop world. It also fails to note the variety of instruments that are used in their songs. Though we’ve been referring to it as “indie-pop,” your music is hard to pigeonhole into a single category. How would you describe it and to whom would you compare your music? KF: I usually think of it as “experimental pop”… it’s an understandable yet non-limiting term. There have been a couple times recently where I’ve told someone that I think our new album sounds like “another Another Green World,” the Brian Eno album. I think we both place equal importance and emphasis on both unique sonics/atmosphere and actual pop songwriting. Of course he’s much more effective probably, haha. Unlike many bands, where the vocals and lyrics merely serve the greater interest of the overall “sound,” your lyrics and vocals are absolutely integral to the songs. And they are quite literary. Who are some of your favorite authors? What lyrics are you most proud of? What do you consider the most interesting thing you’ve expressed lyrically yet? The strangest? LL: Lately, I’ve been really appreciating good short story writers, like George Saunders, Deb Olin Unferth, Nelly Reifler, Richard Brautigan. J.G. Ballard has a way of whisking you away into a terrible surrealistic dream that I really like. KF: Linda and I are always passing books back-and-forth, so I guess “ditto” to everything she mentioned. As for our stuff, I’ve been especially proud of the lyrics for Gathered Tones. Early Trouble Books lyrics were pretty much completely fiction, because I’ve always thought that it’s most difficult to write about your life or personal experiences without it turning out terribly. So I challanged myself to write about our
everyday life in and around our apartment and neighborhood in Akron. My only way of judging is if I’m able to listen without cringing, and it passes that test, so I’m happy. A couple of my favorite songs lyrically on Gathered Tones are probably “Past the New Parking Deck” and “Sudden Loop.” Both capture the feelings behind certain seasons here … the former examines the hopefulness and beauty of spring, but also contains the ugliness of all the garbage that was hiding under the snow and how it feels different when there’s no vacation all summer from work anymore. “Sudden Loop” meanwhile is the opposite, it’s the cold, rainy early winter days where you come home and it’s dark already and you just want something positive to buoy your mood. The first lyrics of the song that were written are actually the closing ones; “I just need some sort of good news – a stapled askew Xerox, ink smearing in the rain, “FOUND DOG.” In my opinion, the main characteristic of your lyrics is their realization of the presence of the transcendent within the mundane. And what is perhaps most remarkable about your songs is their ability to so perfectly marry that sense of wonder (in the immediacy of a transcendent experience) with a perfectly impressionistic musical counterpart. Is that deliberate? KF: Oh yeah, completely. I love photography, because I think that medium has this capability of making you look harder at something that’s quite familiar so that you see some underlying beauty or complexity, or possibly a sinister ugliness that lurks below. We use a lot of warm, analog sounds, major chords, and slow drifting tempos which I think can be very comfortable to the listener, but then keep things pretty ramshackle and introduce bits of noise and sonic debris to try to give a tension and release. Our songs always avoid a repeating verse/chorus structure so that it’s more like a walk where the view keeps changing slowly, rather than something like Kraftwerk’s loops, which perfectly capture the repitition of highway driving with the cruise control on. On a personal note, what has been your most transcedent experience so far this year? LL: The other week, I had one day full of all these minor disasters had happened including our water being turned off for plumbing repairs, one of the cats having a tapeworm surprise, and our neighbor’s car needing two jumpstarts to get to her job interview. On the way home from the veternarian I was approaching the intersection by our house, Iffy (the cat) crying at me from her carrier, and this senile, retired crossing guard lady whose eerie presence is surreal enough to begin with was there. As always, she had her crossing guard sign in hand with no school
children around to assist, and the newest James Blackshaw album was playing, and she was swaying ever so slightly, and it was grey and overcast and chilly and about to rain, and it kind of gave me chills as I turned the corner. It was just a sad and beautiful moment. KF: Actually just a few houses down the street from the corner Linda mentioned she had her head split open by a mugger stealing her purse, just a couple days ago. I had a pretty transcendent experience kneeling on the sidewalk with my hands on the back of her head trying to stop the bleeding. Feeling my wife’s blood rush through my hands and realizing my heart is capable of killing someone…Is that the sort of thing you were thinking of? Haha! The songs are so gentle, delicate, and well paced. This seems to come froman unshakable confidence and sense of certitude in your songwriting. Nothing seems forced or contrived (e.g., “Hey everyone! I can play French horn and xylophone too!”). Could you please describe the songwriting process? What have been some of the most difficult, and the most rewarding, aspects of and occurrences in that process? How do you feel the new CD compares with the previous releases? KF: Usually it starts with a production idea or randomly-made loop and a lyrical idea being put together. Chords and melodies added shortly thereafter. Everything is written directly onto the tape, we never have any “Trouble Books jams” or anything where we write as a group. I think the “delicate and considered” vibe possibly comes from the fact that it’s us each adding parts at home, often alone, instead of rushing through some studio or goofing off at a practice space together. That works really well for some bands, but we really like to work on the texture of things carefully. This album we used a lot of analog synths to get the warm, yet spacey layers that we’d been digging in records by bands like Cluster, Stereolab, Broadcast, Ashra, and other stuff we’d been listening to a lot recently. Obviously a lot of time and effort is invested into mak-
ing your music. How do you feel about the lack of financial rewards in indie music? How do you feel about filesharing?KF: I really don’t mind not making any money playing music or making art or whatever, so that aspect of file-sharing and whatever doesn’t really bother me. What can be a bummer is how often someone will download something that you spent a lot of time and energy on, listen to a few songs of it through their shitty laptop speakers, and then decide to tell the world via their blog or music rating website or whatever that “this sucks.” There seems to be an almost deliberate, recurring yinyang-y, male-female mutuality and reciprocity operative in the music. Is your marriage working this well in real life? KF: Haha, definitely so far. What does the future hold for Trouble Books? KF: Food, chores, a song based on a Reinier Lucassen painting for the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, some shows, hanging out with pets and friends over the summer… You toured Europe last year and I heard from someone who saw you in Madrid that you are amazing live. Please describe any qualities that are distinctive to Trouble Books’ live sound? Any plans to tour the West Coast? KF: Oh wow, that Madrid show was cool, but pretty weird. We weren’t told beforehand that there wasn’t going to be any PA system there, so we had to play at less than half our usual volume and sing without microphones. It ended up being a really fun night, but it got us a bit dizzy at first. I’m glad your friend liked it! Usually the live shows are more dense and drone-based than the albums. We’ve found that what’s best for us is playing in art galleries rather than bars or clubs, where the ambient sound can become lost and drowned out pretty quick. No West Coast tour plans. We don’t have a US booking agent, and I’m pretty lazy about that, so we have the “wait till it falls in our lap” approach, which is highly successful for really getting somewhere.
Text : Alicia Kroell Photography : Nate Miller
STARFUCKER STOPS BY FOR A CHAT
Call them what you want - Pyramiddd or Starfucker - it doesn’t matter anymore. After a name change in October 2009, the band faced questioning and scrutiny from local Portland fans after adopting the name Pyramiddd. However, today the boys laugh it off. “We still call ourselves Starfucker,” vocalist Josh Hodges said. The four came together a few years ago as an expansion of Hodges and Ryan Bionstard’s project Sexton Blake. “We were in a band named Sexton Blake, but that dissolved. We played a shows that were “I think the vibe is better when few really Starfucker, but you’re right there with people, under Sexton Blake. Shawn and it’s kind of weird being separated Then Keil joined.” Shawn up on stage.” Glassford brought in the bass whereas Keil Corcoran plays primarily drums. “I was just wandering around aimlessly until that moment,” Glassford said. Or on walkabouts with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as the band joked. Starfucker started out playing small house shows in the Portland area, something the band hopes to return to in the near future. “I think the vibe is better when you’re right there with people,” Hodges said. “It’s kind of weird being separated up on a stage.” And separation is the last thing the band wants. The name Pyramiddd was selected from a pool of fan entries. Designs from t-shirts have come from fans as well, the most recent to be available within the next few months. “That’s just it, the fans are the important part of it. We don’t ever want to have a disconnect from the fans. We want to keep it as personal as possible,” Glassfords said. “Like when we mail stuff to people, we mail it ourselves and we write the notes ourselves and just make it as personal a thing as possible. That’s just always been really important to us.” “That’s the way it started and it feels good. It’s the same thing as wanting to play house shows and make it a commu-
nal thing,” Hodges added. And not only communal, but rememberable. Pyramiddd has played shows in costumes ranging from Star Trek to drag. Dancing on stage is always encouraged, and nearly impossible to pass up with their captivating mix of dance music, vocals, mixes and spoken word. Not to mention a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” “There was a show we played in Salem for this other band and we were trying to get people to come closer cause it was in [what] felt like this church. It was so weird. Everyone wanted to come up and then people that owned the place turned on the lights and made all the kids leave and wouldn’t turn the lights back down either.” After a Europe tour in the fall, Pyramiddd has tried to share this Portland intimacy with international fans as well. “It was fun. We stayed with this famous guy. This movie star,” Hodges said. According to Corcoran the host was actually the True Lies villain, Art Malik, who all four agreed was great. Outside a celebrity host, the band remembers horrible food in Europe, a manager with four nipples and good times in Amsterdam, Paris and Bristol. Of course the four acknowledge that expanding to international fans and a name change may have severed ties with local fans, but it’s another thing they don’t linger too long on. “There’s no way of us really knowing except for, you know, how many Facebook confirmations we get,” Bionstard laughed. With that the band continues to perform as Pyramiddd and shall be releasing a third album in the near future. Until then, they’ll be mailing you’re ordered shirts with personal notes and debuting new singles at smaller shows. “We never want to be this weird band that people can’t actually connect with on a real level. That’s not something we’re interested in,” Glassford said. “Like even just playing venues there’s a disconnect just being on the stage. You can’t actually touch somebody or get sprayed with their sweat.”
Text : Raciel Cuevas Photography : Hisham Akira Bharoocha
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME : A CHIMERICAL INTONATION IN EIGHT SPURTS
“They told me that the classics never go out of style, but they do...They do.”These are some of the wisest words ever told to me by a man outside a club in South Central during the scorching summer of ‘05. He was a blonde Swede in his early 30s; the club was the notoriously short lived Poison Apple. He said this to me in a reluctant manner, weighed down by years of experience culminating with the single moment where he realized everything he stood for was idealized bullshit, and his life would never surpass the superfluous nature of a conversation in a seedy alley way with two fanboys. The thing is he already told me this a few years before. Well, sort of...He wasn’t actually there but I could just tell, you know? When I popped the CD-R in my Discman, pressed play, and put my forehead down on my desk I could just tell he was right there in the room whispering in my ear. I never quite understood what he meant until now and even then I probably still don’t. Tonight is no different. Oh sure, the setting has changed from a rundown ghetto to the White suburban confines of UCI’s Cross Cultural Center, but the same attitude lingers—perhaps even fermented with the passage of time. “Don’t expect us to play any classics,” he tells me between cigarette drags in a cynical tone almost as carcinogenic as his second hand smoke. “Once we’re done with something we leave it in the past. Even if we wanted to play that stuff,
we wouldn’t be able to: we don’t have the gear and I don’t even remember how to play most of those songs.” This time it’s an American in his late 20s standing in front of me without fanfare, rugged and unshaven, loose t-shirt, unwashed jeans; the experimental artist couture almost indistinguishable from that of someone about to rob a liquor store or ask for the spare change in my pockets. His name is Kevin Doria, the bassist and de facto leader of Growing: a Brooklyn by way of Olympia duo turned trio when they ditched their drone soundscapes for phrase samplers, drum machines, and an extra member. The rest of his ensemble are nowhere to be found-Joe Denardo (guitars) is presumably handling merch duties while Sadie Laska (vocals/electronics) naps in the band’s vanbut their demeanor is the same as Doria’s. By This point in our conversation it’s almost impossible to hear him. Black Dice mastermind Eric Copeland has started his set, which is deafening despite the fact that we’re face to face outside. Copeland’s noise brings the perfect end to the awkward silences between Doria and I as we part and thank each other for taking the time. Only after, when transcribing, does it register that it wasn’t so much awkward as it was his nature. The classics never go out of style. But they do. Just as Dennis Lyxzén told me that five years before, Kevin Doria is reiterating it to me in a much more subtle manner. Growing have been on the road for three weeks and have another three to look forward to. Three
weeks of driving across the country in a van crammed with four people and equipment, playing the same set to faceless people, and walking to the nearest strip mall for fast food that is similar to cardboard in taste and texture. So it may not be that Doria is a curt guy with little to say as much as he’s a man unable to uphold chit chat. And for that matter, it can be said for every member of Growing, translating into straightforward shows lacking introduction or witty stage banter. The music picks up where words fail to elaborate. In the same way that Lyxzén vainly tried to outrun his hardcore roots, Doria and company are at the long and tiring front of shaking loose from the clutches of a genre they’ve been associated with for nearly a decade. Of course, six weeks out on the road implies that there will be press to do, and it occurs to me: at some point we’re going to talk about Growing’s newest album – the one that spawned comments like “Growing went techno” with genuine surprise after live performances. Still, those well schooled in Growing’s back catalog will recall that they haven’t actually restricted themselves to the confines of seemingly endless drone hums for quite a while – five years to be exact. Ever since Color Wheel, Growing have continually moved towards a more rhythm driven sound. It’s only natural that the group would immerse itself in drum machines and samplers. Doria assures me that it wasn’t a conscious effort, but rather a natural progression arrived at after years of experimentation and simple ease of their new
equipment. Pumps! is the trio’s seventh full-length effort, and their first on Vice Records. The new release sees the band maintaining upbeat tempos with an expanded rhythmic palette. The most obvious change is the length, with the average song time clocking in at around four minutes – relatively short compared to their past works. These superficial changes also reflect the transformations that occurred at the group’s core. This is the first album recorded with Sadie Laska, and a hectic mixing schedule drastically changed the outcome of some songs. Make no mistake about it, they are all Growing songs. However, they just may be songs that attract new fans and repel old ones. “No,” Doria replies whilst flicking a Zippo in a series of unsuccessful attempts at lightning another cigarette. A simple answer to a complex question: Is he worried about alienating long time Growing followers? He continues, “You’re either going to like it or you’re not. I’m not trying to start a movement...I’m not worried about alienating at all, but at the same time I’m not trying to alienate. It definitely alienates the fan base, but that’s more the label’s problem.” He trails off into laughter, but the point is well made: Growing shed presuppositions, expectations, and favorable press in exchange for complete artistic integrity. Doria concludes, “At the end of the day it will probably gain more people than we lose, but we’re not worried about that. The goal is to make the kind of music that we want to be making.”
Text : Douglas Sweeney Photography : Brian Vu
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS LIVING OUT LOUD
A Place To Bury Strangers...
Starting as soon as Oliver Ackermann moved to New York in 2003, A Place to Bury Strangers set out to make the most atmospheric noise-rock they possibly could by implementing an array of custom-made sounds juxtaposed with a driving 60s psychedelic back beat. “New York must have effected my music somehow” Ackermann said, “but I’m not sure how, I’ve only lived this one life.” Borrowing heavily from the literary works of occulist writer Aleister Crowley, the band’s sound itself has a very dark undertone, right down to their name. “I was reading a lot of Aleister Crowley at the time, and the line ’A Place to Bury Strangers’ just seemed right” Ackermann said, “Our bass player just put it on one of our first fliers and it just stuck.” The band’s sound is reminiscent of it’s shoegaze forefathers such as Jesus and Mary Chain, whom the band have even
opened for in 2007. “When I think back on the bands that influenced me the most I think of Lightning Bolt, Dinosaur Jr and just really insane bands like that” said Ackermann “But, I’m mostly inspired by my friend’s bands.” Becoming part of the modern noiserock network in America started with the band playing D.I.Y shows in Providence, Rhode Island and being a part of that scene’s noise renaissance of the early2000s. Soon after moving to New York, the band starting touring around the country. Recently, A Place to Bury Strangers toured with The Big Pink in support of their newest release, Exploding Head. “Touring is great and the best part about is that no matter how different a place is you always get to go home.” Ackermann explained, “I’m not really looking forward to anything in particular though, just sort of experiencing as it comes”
Text : Brian Vu Photography : Nate Miller And Brian Vu
MYSTERIOUS YET COMFORTABLY FAMILIAR
After a peachy twenty-two years spent in his hometown of Denver, Colorado, Alejandro Archuleta decided to move to California and start anew. “My goal with moving away from Denver was to be able to take what I learned and hopefully make the same positive things happen in another city.” California immediately accepted Archuleta with open arms. Right before his move to the west coast, Archuleta was a part of an experimental band from Denver called Slight Harp from 2007 to 2009 which he now calls “the golden years.” Wanting to continue writing music, Archuleta started a solo project under the name Psychic Handbook. His new album You Sea, is a psychedelic drone musical documentary of his adventures in Southern and Northern California. In this interview, Archuleta talks to us about his move to California, dance parties, and an upcoming tour. By the way, did you happen to see those puppies? What did you do today? Today, I woke up in Logan Square in Chicago with one of my best friends who set up a show for me last night in her kitchen. The cops paid the show a little visit but somehow we managed to carry on without them showing up again. Started the day off with a triple taco breakfast of champions. I totally scored at this new record shop around the corner called Saki! Everyone in Chicago should check it out! Then, we hit up Kuma’s Corner where I annihilated the Judas Preist burger while listening to Pentagram. After a mellow ride to Wicker Park I brought all of my equipment over to Ball Hall where I am playing with Married in Berdichev and French Quarter. My life generally isn’t this epic but today was definitely one for the books. What made you leave your hometown Denver? Nothing really made me leave Denver except for the fact that I had been there a solid 22 years and I felt like it was time to explore. During my last 6 or so years in Denver I learned so much about what a community is truely capable of and also what it takes as an individual to help facilitate that. My goal with moving away from Denver was to be able to take what I learned and hopefully make the same positive things happen in another city. While also learning first hand how different diy communities and the people who are a part of them are anywhere you go. How long were you in Slight Harp for? The golden years of Slight Harp took place during the spring of 2007 and the autumn of 2009. But, that’s not to say that there won’t come a time when some or all of the members will be in the same place again and make future musics together. Brandon, my other musical half, now lives in Seattle and we hope to do some collaborations and releases of Slight Harp and non-SH stuff this year. What made you want to go solo and start Psychic Handbook? When I decided to move to California I realized that I had to somehow continue creating music and that to me meant learning how to play music on my own without the collec-
tive vibe that Slight Harp was pretty much based around. Can you tell me a little bit about your new album You Sea? You Sea is about my lone journey into the world, more specifically California. It’s pretty much my way of documenting my adventures in LA and now Oakland and everywhere/everyone in between. I never realized how big a difference being able to see the ocean makes on ones everyday life. Being able to have the ocean there to talk to and have talk back to you is such an intense feeling and a huge part of why I am where I am now. What was the recording process like? All of the recording took place while I was visiting Denver back in March. One of my best friends in the universe, Valerie Franz (Last Eyes, Night of Joy,Teen Pass Out Records) offered to record my new jammers for me in her parents basement up in Boulder. We spent an entire day recording with her at the 8 track and me playing all of the instruments that you hear on the cd. It was so much fun and I feel like it definitely captured a place that the songs and I were at that particular moment. What would you say were your main influences for the album musically and non-musically? With Psychic Handbook I am continually trying to capture the feeling of something very mysterious while also having it be comfortably familiar, if that makes sense. I love the spaciness of bands like Harmonia, Spacemen 3, and The Cocteau Twins because they take you on this voyage into some other place and time and each time it’s drastically different from the last. At the same time I am also searching for the perfect combination of beautiful radiating light that bands like Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, La Dusseldorf and Enya are so perfect at creating. You also DJ, how do you go about choosing what to play each night? One thing that I feel I learned in Denver after djing dance party after dance party is how to feel the vibe of any given group of people and figure out what makes them move. I always bring records that I’m really stoked about and all I can hope is that I can choose them strategically in a way that helps sustain the life of the party while keeping it fun and interesting for the people around me. You’re playing a massive amount of shows in nor cal, any word on an upcoming tour in the future? This fall Valerie, aka Last Eyes and I are planning a west coast tour in addition to a short cameo in New York for the Swans shows where we will also be playing with some friends we have up there like MKNG FRNDS and Big A little a. Stay tunnnnned! Where’s the best place to hang out in Oakland? My house also known as the Secret Garden Unit and Heco’s is a totally crazy awesome place and it happens to be right down the street from where I live.
Text : Brian Vu Photography : David De Ridder
FOOT VILLAGE PERPETUAL ENERGY
I guess the popular saying, “there’s a first time for everything,” is accurate. This was indeed one of those moments where I didn’t know what the outcome would be. I wasn’t sure whether my encounter with Foot Village would go as planned, or horribly wrong. From what I’ve been told, this band is known for being in your face and even intimidating. We drove to a new venue called Thesex to meet up with the four-piece band. Foot Village’s lineup includes Josh Taylor, Dan Rowan, Grace Lee, and Brian Miller. Each member has a mind of their own. After the interview, I’ve concluded that Foot Village turned out to be one of the most genuinely nice and talented musicians we’ve ever featured, not to mention insanely fun and easy to photograph. However, their live show is the complete opposite. Foot Village doesn’t rely on electricity, but only the power of their drum kits and two megaphones. Vocalists Lee and Miller are sometimes aggressive and confrontational, never boring. After the photo shoot, Grace told us that we could do the interview in her hatchback that was parked across the street. Of course we agreed (this was the first time we’ve done an interview in a car). Somehow, we managed to fit six people inside. The interview began as soon as we were situated. Everything turned out interesting to say the least. How’d you guys meet? Dan: We all worked at a movie theater together. Brian: What type of movie theater? Grace: Sex Shows Dan: Live Sex Shows. Were you guys the actors? Joshua: Uh, Dan was... Grace: I was a bouncer... Joshua: It was a one man play. It was at a place called the Tahiti Room down on Sunset and Western. That was like eight years ago... Brian: But it wasn’t corrupt enough so we got into indie rock... Okay, I’m gonna give you the real story. It’s not going to sound like it. But you don’t get more explanation. When Josh was a movie star, Grace and I were his biggest fans. Dan use to take semi-erotic pornographic pictures of Grace and I. The End. Dan: This is Loosely based on reality. Brian: That’s as close as we get. None of that, I would say...
Is a lie. It’s just the confusing truth. Why Did you guys decide to use only drums and vocals? Dan: We’re actually all tone deaf. We tried putting together a real band, but none of us could hear notes. We tried to express that through hitting stuff instead. Joshua: That was after you guys (Grace and Brian) joined. Dan and I started it up with these two sisters. But we moved away so we needed new people. We then asked Brian and Grace to fill in because we knew that they couldn’t hear notes either. Brian: The two sisters were the two original singers of the band. Before where those girls would sometimes play drums or play keyboards and stuff... We decided that we wanted to just play drums because it’s easier to get around. People seemed to like it more, so we did it. That’s also the explanation why I do my best to sing like a girl. How different is your live show from your recordings? Grace: They’re as composed. But, it’s more confusing. Brian: Which is? Grace: Our Recordings... Brian: [laughs] Is more confusing? I think that takes the cake. Grace: Last time we recorded we actually recorded separately. We played to click tracks and stuff. Each drum was recorded separately. It took a long time to do it. Jonathan Snipes helped us and recreated all of our songs on his computer. So that was our click track. That was really cool. People always come up to us and tell us - “Dude, we really want to buy a cd, but we really don’t want to listen to your music. We just want to watch you.” How would you describe your live show? Joshua: Circular. Brian: Like a pep rally with no team. Grace: Like a caveman dance. Dan: A really good commercial. Grace: Like you’re driving through a car wash and you have all the windows down. Dan: And you stick your head out the window, you’re wearing glasses, and your face gets ripped off. Who gets the most wild during your shows? Dan: Grace. Joshua: Usually Grace does all these composed pieces to play on the drums, but when we do it live she jumps off of her
set, making me, Dan, and Brian improvise. Grace: That’s only to make up for the fact that I have no technical skills in playing drums [laughs]. How do you go about writing your lyrics? Brian: For the first three albums we had a narrative story arc which we’ve known from the beginning. We’re not doing that anymore. We will start writing the song kind of vaguely. And then we’d ask each other what it’s about. We then take turns shouting out ideas till one of them seems ludicrous enough. Grace: We try to remain current. I try to write about the environment. Why be so political and honest with your lyrics? Brian: Whoa, we’re honest? Grace: I am! Only because I’m a bad liar. Brian: There’s political lyrics but they’re all over the place. Some things we’ve written we might actually believe, and other stuff we definitely don’t. The narrative of what the albums are about are this idea of a country that governs through drumming and screaming. The subject was politics, and so it was kind of this excuse to do political lyrics. Not in a way like a political punk band, but in this fairy tale way that is like the poetics of that language and it’s ideas. A lot of it is like just a big mind fuck. We definitely aren’t trying to tell people that this is the way it needs to be. Just expressing your opinions? Brian: Or anti opinions. The most recent album is an album where we are evil pretty much. Grace: But it’s what we think is evil. I’m sure there are people out there that don’t think it’s evil. They’re just like “yeah, that’s just how the world works.” Brian: It’s funny when we do this song called “T.A.K.E.” and everyone sings along. But it’s like a song about raping and pillaging [laughs]... Grace: But it’s also a song about if you want something in life, then you really just take it. So it’s like, how badly do you want it you know? I just saw the Anti-Magic music video. Did you guys
have a part in it’s direction? Brian: Not really, Cristopher Cichocki is a video mastermind. He’s done videos for acts like All Leather and Rale. He takes millions of high resolution photos and puts them together to make these weird stop motion collages. Where’d you guys film it? Dan: This place out in the desert called Wonder Valley. Grace: It’s a town where child molesters go to live when they’re out of prison. Joshua: There are a lot of kids running around. Dan: There’s also a lot of shoes littering the roads. Grace: Shut up! You guys... That’s dark... Brian: In all honesty we did film that video in a child’s bedroom. What’d you guys release on record store day? Brian: It was a reissue of our first album World Fantasy that Britt put out on Not Not Fun. It was a ten inch that has been sold out for three or four years. It was originally done in a twelve inch cube that was silkscreened on all sides. We finally caved and did it in normal jacket style packaging. Twenty people in the world own the respectful packaging and the rest have the twelve inch cube to listen to twenty minutes of our music. Can you tell us a little bit about Deathbomb Arc? Brian: I’m putting out a compilation of pop punk bands. People who normally follow what Deathbomb does will probably think that’s weird because I put out a lot of aggressive dance, harsh noise, and experimental stuff. There’s a ton of bands that are making very forward thinking pop punk right now. It’ll be very good for picnics or afternoon delight. What do you have planned for 2010? Grace: We’re going to make a movie. This guy Dalton Blanco who’s in Robin Williams On Fire is going to film it. It’s not just the sound, but also the way we perform it. Brian: We also have a seven inch coming out on a local label called How To Fight that is our two most recent happy songs. We’ve been taking our time with it making sure it’s the best recordings we’ve ever done.
Text : Lisa Bielsik Photography : Brian Vu
Sasquatch! Day 1...
Sasquatch! Day 2...
Hidden between middle-of-nowhere towns, the Gorge Amphitheater can accurately be described as a hidden treasure. Although the specific location being George, Washington can cause a snicker, there is nothing laughable about the Gorge’s beauty. Washington’s ninth-annual Sasquatch! music festival continued its legacy at the Gorge this memorial day weekend. It’s tough to imagine a more perfect place for a music festival, and it’s safe to say that the majority of travelers from Seattle, Portland, and Canada agree. Whether it was the unreliable, but always beautiful weather, the gorgeous canyon view beyond the main stage, the diverse selection of bands, or the awesome audience, there was something for everyone to enjoy at 2010’s Sasquatch! music festival. Having four stages all conveniently placed near each other made for the best festival experience possible. Upon entering the festival, the first stage in sight is the Honda Bigfoot Solar Stage. There was never a dull moment at the Bigfoot Solar Stage due to its top-notch lineup. Bands that played this stage included Miike Snow, The Hold Steady, Tallest Man On Earth, Local Natives, Dr. Dog, Camera Obscura, and The New Pornographers. Nearly within reach of the Bigfoot Solar Stage was the Verizon Rumpus Room. DJs, comedians, and other dance provoking acts were held in this appropriately decorated party tent. The Esurance Yeti Stage may have been smaller in size, but the performances occupying it are what made the stage a big deal. Just beyond the Yeti Stage was the Xbox 360 Main Stage, which overlooked a beautiful canyon. Headliners performed on this stage directly in front of the breathtaking view, making the experience even more memorable for everyone. Saturday began with Los Angeles’ ethnotronic group Fool’s Gold. Although they played in the early afternoon, the band had the audience dancing along to their tropical guitar rhythms out in the ideal, sunny weather. One of the most highly anticipated acts of the first day of the festival was more than definitely Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. This indie-folk collective’s frontman, Alex Ebert, was not afraid to jump into the crowd and ultimately, encourage everyone’s energy. The audience was sold completely on the band at the first whistle of their single, “Home”, which further turned into a massive sing-along.
Roughly at sunset, the Yeti Stage was occupied by Anticon’s indie/hip-hop group, WHY?. Lead by the intriguing mind of Yoni Wolf, WHY?’s sound is truly like no other. Fans were crowded to the stage, and the majority knew the set word-for-word despite Yoni’s abstract lyrics. With his maraca at hand, Yoni kept everyone going with his crazy dance moves and his witty stories. Vampire Weekend took the main stage at nightfall. Luckily for their fans, the four-piece indie-pop band played the majority of favorites off of their self-titled release, as well as their sophomore release, Contra. When comparing the two albums, one may notice Contra’s catchy electronic elements, but regardless, the crowd was dancing along to their entire set. Whether it had been online or at the festival itself, Caribou was a name that had definitely been traveling through word-of-mouth. Many showed up early to see them play the main stage first on Sunday morning, and no one should have been left disappointed. Caribou’s unique and intimate set-up was made up of two sets of drums, guitar, bass, and two vocalists. Their tribal beats mixed with their clever melodies throughout each song, and were accompanied by outstanding vocals. The sound at the main stage ventured through the Gorge perfectly, even to the top of the amphitheater. Upon arrival to back-to-back performances of tUnE-YarDs and Avi Buffalo at the Yeti Stage, a majority of the audience seemed like they might not have known what to expect. As tUnE-YarDs, moniker of Merrill Garbus, took the stage solo, she began to record a wacky vocal loop. She continued to construct her song piece-bypiece in front of the audience, and once all the elements came together, it was truly something beautiful. For the remainder of the set, she was backed by a bass and a saxophone. Keep your eyes peeled; tUnE-YarDs is an act you do not want to miss. Avi Buffalo continued the hype at the Yeti Stage that afternoon successfully. These Long Beach natives seemed ambitious when they initially approached the stage. As they opened with “Coaxed”, a favorite off of their self-titled Sub Pop release, there was no doubt that the crowd was going to enjoy them. Between sold-out shows and a variety of big-name music festivals, it has been a great year for The xx. As merely a trio, this
simplistic band manages to create a sound that is turning heads everywhere. As many had hoped, the band chose to open with the intro track to their highly-noted album, xx, then continued on to play the majority of it.
Any loss of energy from the excitement of the first two days of the festival was revived with a performance from Japandroids, followed directly by No Age. The noise-rock genre ultimately dominated the Yeti Stage on Monday morning, and that is being said quite literally.
Almost unrecognizable due to a major haircut, Chris Owens began to set up on the Bigfoot Solar Stage. His band, Girls, has blown up over the course of 2009-2010. With their first release entitled Album, being named one of the best of 2009 in multiple lists, the anticipation to see this band was very high. With a handful of songs from Album, some b-side greats, and a few new tracks, the band more than lived up to their hype.
Guards were giving it their all to keep the barriers up between the stage, but the second Japandroids started to play, the crowd went insane. As fans crowdsurfed, pushed each other around, and sang along to their whole set, Japandroids displayed their energy and love of playing live on stage for all to see.
Since the release of See Mystery Lights, YACHT has literally been “on tour forever”. Many hustled to see them over at the Rumpus Room, and they are truly a sight to see. After making many changes since Jona Bechtolt first started playing as YACHT, he is now accompanied by Claire L. Evans, Bobby Birdman, and Jeffrey Jerusalem (otherwise known as “The Straight Gaze”). With their coordinated dance moves, powerpoints, and encouragement of crowd participation, it’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off of them. Side by side with The xx and Girls on the best-of 2009 lists, Dirty Projectors delivered their most accessible album, Bitte Orca. After working with musical geniuses such as David Byrne, Dirty Projectors were a band no one wanted to miss at the festival. It’s easy to be skeptical about how difficult it could be to match the vocals on any of their recorded music, but all four vocalists seemed to match the records relentlessly. The band opened with “I Will Truck” and closed with “Useful Chamber” which can just give a taste to how great their set list was. Although Pavement had previously been M.I.A., they managed to successfully make a comeback this year after touring like crazy. Many say it’s debatable whether or not they still care about their fans and the shows they play, but their performance at Sasquatch! instantly proved any doubts wrong. Not one of their five albums was ignored in their set, and many long-time fans in the audience were beyond pleased. This was the perfect way to end the nonstop goodness of Sunday’s lineup.
As the security guards multiplied in order to prepare for No Age, the crowd did as well. Previously a duo, Dean Spundt and Randy Randall have recently started shaking it up a bit by adding a third member with various sampling devices and other electronic goodies. At the first sign of “Teen Creeps”, the crowd went wild. After playing a handful of songs from Nouns, some new tracks (including a couple from their most recent EP, Losing Feeling), and some older tracks, their set came to a dreaded close. No Age has been described as a band that is only big in LA, but after their performance at Sasquatch! we know that this is clearly not the case. After MGMT blew up radio stations with multiple singles off their first full-length album, Oracular Spectacular, everyone was curious if they would be able to live up to its greatness with their sophomore album. Radio stations might be disappointed with the outcome of Congratulations, but now MGMT has taken direction that appeals more to their personal tastes. MGMT’s sound has purely grown up, and there is definitely nothing wrong with that. As many had hoped, MGMT played the perfect balance between the two albums, giving those who hadn’t listened to more than their singles a real taste of what they’re all about. Closing with “Kids” made it very apparent that despite their new style, they were still crowd-pleasers. The explosion in popularity for music festivals will continue to sweep the world this year. 2010’s Sasquatch! could not have gone any smoother (even with it being sold out!), and there was no better way to spend memorial day weekend. With a friendly staff, a stellar lineup, gorgeous weather, and an excellent location, Sasquatch! is bound to become one of the biggest US music festivals to date.
Sasquatch! Day 3...
Text : Damanjit Lamba, Evan Adams, Ace Ubas, Liam Crocker, Danny Chau Brian Hunt, Brian Vu, Katie Evans, Noah Doles, Douglas Sweeney, Simon Vanderveen
Jordan Galland Search Party Slush Puppy Music Text : Damanjit Lamba
Musicians usually turn to mixing or producing when they feel like expanding their vocation. But when you come across someone who is a musician/writer/filmmaker /cartoonist/designer/owner of his own record label and his own film company, you’ve clearly hit cyborg territory. To add to Galland’s cred, his latest album is just as amazing as his long list of exploits. This NY native tips his hat to baroque pop master Serge Gainsbourg with a sophomore album that embraces orchestral arrangements and soft, at times almost hushed, vocals that lend to Search Party’s deceivingly sweet tone. In keeping with baroque style, Galland’s compositions maintain simple strong melodies and lyrics that brood over the theme of love. Nevertheless, Jordan Galland has stated that he has a penchant for soundtracks and enjoys combining film and music as much as possible. While listening to Search Party, I realized how well his music could be integrated into a film’s soundtrack. For instance, how great would “Free Love” be in the opening credits to a film about bed-hopping? Pretty freaking great. And “Sexy Girl,” a song with eerie bells and beach-inspired acoustic guitar, could effortlessly be added to a film about unrequited love. The single “Search Party” is an orchestral masterpiece that starts off with an unassuming ghostly synth and Latin-inspired shakers and drum beats that are followed by enveloping horns. “Desert Flowers,” a song I personally revere, overflows with sultry sounds as summer-tinged chimes and piano chords are contrasted with menacing horns that gradually emerge from the background. Search Party is a pleasure to listen to but don’t let the airy piano chords and light vocals shroud you from the dark instrumentation and prose that is fixated on fatality. “Paper Snowflake” is a great example of such beguilement. The title hints at light subject matter but there’s talk of dictators, missiles, and bloody wars all in the name of love. These haunting moments mixed with arrangements best suited for sun-drenched holidays make for an intriguing and complex addition to Jordan Galland’s ever-expanding opus.
Fol Chen Part II: The New December Asthmatic Kitty Text : Brian Vu
Highland Park’s Fol Chen is made up of six members, all bringing their own creative juices and unusual ideas together to form this consuming sound. But don’t be intimidated, it’s as approachable as it is unusual. Fol Chen’s sophomore release is entitled Part II: The New December, consistently named after their debut album - Part I: John Shade. Part II: The New December delivers stunning vocals, piano, and percussion. All which are catchy and memorable. The album includes the vocals of Aaron and Angus from Liars, Kárin tatoyan, and Simone White. There’s too much one can say about Fol Chen’s music. One can’t give this band a genre. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Just don’t forget to give it your full attention, not that you can help it anyways.
The Black Keys Brothers Nonesuch Records Text : Damanjit Lamba
The Black Keys’ sixth full-length album, Brothers, sees the band building on hooks that are considerably more atmospheric and upbeat than their previous discography which consisted of outrageous guitar solos and incessant drumming. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney let go of their inhibitions with an album that dares to throw in whistling and even some humming from the gritty pipes of Dan Auerbach. The first single, “Tighten Up”, is the only song on the album produced by Danger Mouse and it has an opening beat that could easily be masked as a Peter Bjorn and John tune - it’s that catchy. Dan Auerbach also shifts the tone of his voice throughout Brothers with softer, and dare I say, higher pitched vocals on tracks such as “The Only One” and “Everlasting Light”, signaling a real break from their last five albums and causing listeners to do a double take to make sure they’re still listening to The Black Keys they know and love. “The Only One” also makes use of a tambourine and an electric keyboard reminiscent of ‘60s funk. It seems Dan Auerbach exhausted his rough bluesman vibe while making his 2009 solo album Keep It Hid. Another stunner is “Too Afraid To Love You” which features the most beautiful airy piano chords and guitar distortion that together create a dark groove ideal for a lonely stroll at night. The band admits that they really like spooky sounds and tried to get into that frame of mind for Brothers. Danger Mouse’s influence seems to carry on through to “Ten Cent Pistol” which utilizes shakers, a deep bass, and light guitar chords; a combination that looks back to late 20th century hybrid forms of jazz which combined jazz improvisation with rock rhythms and electric instruments. The duo is finally mixing genres to go beyond their tried and tested blues-rock sound. The record was mixed by Tchad Blake who also mixed the Black Keys’ collaborative rap-rock album, Blakroc, back in 2009. The band is a big fan of Blake’s work and they approach music the same way he does: “Respecting the past while being in the present.” Blake is known for creating original sonic textures in his production and this is evident in “Howlin’ For You”, which features what sounds like a fuzzy kazoo. Brothers is an album that can constantly be re-visited and surprise you each time with musical flourishes that you can’t fully comprehend with just one listen. A new-found appreciation for the intricate compositions of this Akron OH duo is inevitable for new and old fans alike.
Doug Burr O Ye Devastator Velvet Blue Music Text : Brian Vu
Somewhere, somehow, you’ve heard of Doug Burr’s music. You may have heard it in a TV show or within the nonstop press he’s been receiving. Burr has opened for St. Vincent, Great Lake Swimmers, and Richard Buckner to name a few. Producer Britton Beisenherz and Ramble Creek studios naturally fell into place to record Burr’s new album O Ye Devastator, a follow up to his 2007’s On Promenade. Burr describes the album as “American roots music rendered as sweeping scenes and story lines, antique, revelatory, and futuristic in scope.” O Ye Devastator is the most natural and honest album we’ve been waiting for. His live band is made up of Glen Farris on banjo, Robert Sanchez on drums, Todd Pertll on pedal steel and banjo, and Britton Beisenherz on guitar and bass. The mellow guitars complement Burr’s voice beautifully. His voice has been said to be reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy and Mark Kozelek. You can tell how much the songwriter has grown album after album. Give this record a spin, and see what all of the fuss is about.
Forest Swords Dagger Paths EP Olde English Spelling Bee Text : Danny Chau
It’d be easier to explain Forest Swords if it weren’t for the fog. Or the mesmerizing rhythm. Or the wall of percussion, explosive, yet calculated. It’d be easier to explain what Dagger Paths sounds like if the line of influences wasn’t so confounding. It’d be really easy to provide the album its own subgenre that somewhat defines the all-encompassing sound. But Dagger Paths isn’t easy. It could be described as vaguely drone, or vaguely hip hop. Neither would be incorrect, but neither would capture all of it. Behind the haze, the drums, and the heavy basslines, there is a fundamental link to the past through active scenery and blurred images of war. The entire body of work could be seen as a tribute to the ghosts of Wirral, where the soloist behind Forest Swords calls home. There have been numerous accounts of paranormal activity in the area, all seemingly captured in the ethereal vocal samples that wade through the murky depths of each track. The flashes of war imagery are impossible to overlook upon closer inspection of the album. The thunderous roars of the drums, the aboriginal chants in “Visits,” conjure visions of tribal combat. Like a modern day shaman, Forest Swords paints an indelible image of serenity and slaughter. If Hans Zimmer and Eminem comprise the soundtrack to modern warfare, then Dagger Paths is the foreign sound of a war long concluded. But it isn’t until the album draws upon a familiar face that we notice the artistry of Dagger Paths. “If Your Girl” is a reworking of fallen R&B princess Aaliyah’s “If Your Girl Only Knew”. The song is stripped to its very core, with the bassline the only remnant of the original. Even that has gone through an evolution, however, as the funky snap of the original is replaced with a brooding line at half tempo. Vocals, once reflective of a young and confident, fledgling diva, morph into a cold and distant croon. The song, like most of the tracks, builds upon a drawn out opening, until it is suddenly submerged into the world that Forest Swords has created. With walls made of machine gun drums, echoes of the past, and that ever-present fog.
Tobacco Brothers Anticon Text : Noah Doles
For those of you aren’t already aware, Tobacco (Tom Fec), is an American electronic musician that is undoubtedly in the top of his genre. Lots of you probably already know him as the frontman from Black Moth Super Rainbows five-member psychedelic electronic band. Tobacco is more hip-hop influenced, but still doesn’t stray too far away from that psych-electro sound, full of analog synthesizers, tape machines and many other pre-digital electronic devices that BMSR are ultimately known for. However he did put BMSR on the back burner for the time being in order to make his most recent album (Maniac Meat). Instead of working on a new album with his five piece band he decided to put out a new album of his own. It seems as if Tobacco is finally starting to get the recognition he deserves and is slowly but surely growing more popular with each individual album release. I think that’s obvious though, with a couple veteran artists being featured on his two latest albums; with one track on his last album featuring hip-hop artist Aesop Rock and two tracks on his most recent album featuring singer-songwriter Beck. Maniac Meat (16 tracks), is full of heavy lo-fi beats, beat-box like tape clattering and analog synths layered over melodies. All in all the album doesn’t sound a whole lot different but does have some important elements that have changed from his previous album ‘Fucked Up Friends’ (also 16 tracks). ‘Constellation Dirtbike Head’ is the first track opening up the album and man is it the perfect opener. It’s faced pace, the vocals are bent, stretched, distorted and that fast paced catchy synth beat is sure to get you excited to hear what the rest of the album has in store. Before you know it ‘Fresh Hex’ (Feat. Beck) begins and you go from a fast paced dancy like opener to a slower chilled out rhythm that definitely reflects the hip-hop influence mentioned earlier and with Beck rapping along to the sound of analog synthesizers with a water droplet like beat, you’ll be wishing this last longer. It’s just too bad it’s only 1:35 in length. It’s tracks like this though that make the album so enjoyable. The more grimy and industrial sounding tracks in the album are what makes Maniac Meat so distinctive, great, and most importantly this is what defines/separates Tobacco from Black Moth Super Rainbow. ‘Motorlicker’ has a grimy sound but it’s not overwhelming because it’s supported in contrast by the hypnotically soft vocals of Tom’s voice being projected through the vocoder, layered over the mind-melting sound of synthesizers. You have to keep in mind though that a lot of the album is in fact instrumental and there are just so many different electronic devices being used. Many times albums that are longer like this tend to bore a lot of listeners more than half way through. It’s as if it wears out it’s welcome and people either don’t finish or pay attention to the end. The only negative thing about this album would be that some of it doesn’t sound too different from many past BMSR albums, ‘Mexican Icecream’ and ‘Six Royal Vipers’ being two examples. More vocals wouldn’t be such a bad idea either. However, there are enough stand out tracks though to make it great and not just like another BMSR album (don’t get me wrong I love them), it’s just important for Tobacco to have a distinct sound set aside from BMSR. It is an improvement though in this aspect from his past release ‘Fucked Up Friends’.
Flying Lotus Cosmogramma Warp Text : Katie Evans
With two years of anticipation, Flying Lotus’ cult-like following now rests easy with the May 3rd release of Cosmogramma. Disappointed, very few fans are. Several fake leaks floated around the scene a few months before the official release, only serving to increase that impatient edge among listeners, yet not detracting from the final work of art. Cosmogramma’s first couple of tracks lend themselves to a more ordinary IDM genre, yet by the third track, “Nose Art”, a new genre emerges, one with instability yet flow, one reposeful yet erratic, and one both galactic and cinematic. Another highlight, “Zodiac Shit”, oozes jazziness and shows Lotus’ diversity. Immediately following, things pick up again with “Computer Face//Pure Being”, likely the most underrated on the album entirely. With a synth track that envelopes you, “Pure Being” dares you to resist tapping your feet or at the very least withstand twitching to the beat. By this point, it is clear just how Lotus’ Steven Ellison has matured as a producer. Doubtlessly, the collaboration with Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame will gain Flying Lotus a following the size of a small city, and the quality of the track he is featured in, “…And the World Laughs With You”, is reason enough. In quintessential Yorke fashion, the track chills you and draws you in. The last of the two-part songs is “Drips//Auntie’s Harp”, the latter half of which appeared in the compilation Late Night Tales: The Cinematic Orchestra, out in April 2010. With this calming melody, the rest of the album unfolds tranquilly, profoundly contrasting the opening. Laura Darlington, featured in tracks on 1983 and Los Angeles, returns in another highlight, “Table Tennis”, in which her soothing voice is carried along to the beat created by sampling a ping-pong match. The LP closes with “Galaxy in Janaki”, a distinctive entity in itself, leaving the listeners feeling as though they have just undergone a space odyssey, gratifyingly so. With a certain style for everyone, Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma is hardly a letdown. While some tracks may be deemed filler and many as “growers”, they all coalesce to form a piece of “cosmic grammar”, a phrase Lotus misheard as “cosmogramma” in an interview with the late Alice Coltrane. In his feature, Thom Yorke croons, “I need to know you’re out there. I need to know you’re listening,” and inevitably, we all are.
MGMT Congratulations Columbia Text : Evan Adams
There’s something spectacular, really, about the first few moments of MGMT’s second album Congratulations. Opener “It’s Working” plays out in a relentless blend of intricately layered harmonies and psychedelic surf rock and new wave that forwards MGMT’s idiosyncratic vision but simultaneously recalls the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, and even the Jesus and Mary Chain, pioneers who once boldly challenged musical conventions. Why, then, has MGMT received generally mixed reviews for their sophomore effort? “It’s Working” is not a fluke; almost every track highlights the band’s creativity and reverence for some of music’s most engaging artists and genres. And like their apparent influences, MGMT also seem to be manipulating and mixing genres to create something interesting and accessible. Other bands that are usually rewarded for such creativity, however, are not working in the shadow of Oracular Spectacular. Though MGMT’s first album helped them establish their musical credibility and gain almost instant popularity from both mainstream and indie music listeners, it is clear from Congratulations that the band did not want to simply expand the sound of Oracular Spectacular. They wanted to reinvent themselves. Some have criticized this natural evolution, however. Upon a careful listen, though, I would argue that any overt changes in sound, for the most part at least, make for a better, more mature and impressive record. Instantly catchy songs like “Kids” and “Electric Feel” are gone, but in their place are tracks that invite repeated listens, tracks that are, especially in terms of longevity, ultimately more rewarding. “Song for Dan Treacy,” for instance, isn’t made for the clubs, but its interesting vocal effects, complex melodies, and rapidly shifting styles give listeners a reason to care about Congratulations months and years from now. And the epic, twelveminute “Siberian Breaks” – the track that is sure to generate at least some kind of buzz – chiefly highlights the band’s progression as serious musicians; it isn’t immediately accessible like “Time to Pretend,” but it does transition through time changes and genres to surprisingly cohesive and beautiful ends. But Congratulations is not a complete departure for MGMT. That’s what’s so unusual about the recent resistance against the album: many of its elements would have fit nicely with Oracular Spectacular’s weird Rolling Stones-meets-electro-pop formula. The latter half of album standout “Someone’s Missing,” for example, echoes with groovy Jackson 5 beats and MGMT’s idiosyncratic use of high-pitched, slightly distorted vocals. And “I Found a Whistle” maintains the Out of Our Heads-era melodies found in “The Youth” and ends with a sweeping crescendo similar to the one in “Weekend Wars.” I’m not suggesting that Congratulations is a perfect album; “Brian Eno,” for instance, feels rushed, and “Lady Dada’s Nightmare,” interesting as it may be, could possibly pass for “filler” (an instrumental, mildly repetitive track like that isn’t appropriate for a nine-track record). I am arguing, however, that it should be recognized for its many successful elements and judged on its own terms, apart from the success of Oracular Spectacular. And even though such a complex, creative album requires the listener’s dedication, the experience is well worth the effort.
Avi Buffalo Avi Buffalo Sub Pop Text : Ace Ubas
Avi Buffalo, the moniker of singer-songwriter/guitarist Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, originally began as a solo project. Since then, it has blossomed into a four-piece band that includes keyboardist/vocalist Rebecca Coleman, bassist Arin Fazio, and drummer Sheridan Riley. And for the last two years, these Long Beach natives have made a name for themselves locally playing shows throughout Los Angeles, including a month long residency at The Echo. But after signing a record deal with Sub Pop Records late last year, they have a chance to put their stamp on the rest of the world with their eponymous debut album. In the opening track ‘Truth Sets In,’ crisp guitars fade in, leading into the soothing dual vocals of Isenberg and Coleman over head-bobbing hand claps. Isenberg then showcases his vocal range on the lead single ‘What’s in it For?’ singing the chorus in a highpitched voice. On tracks ‘Can’t I Know’ and ‘Remember the Last Time,’ Isenberg proves that he can be crafty on the guitar with ear-tingling solos. And the album closer ‘Where’s Your Dirty Mind’ features a stripped-down and intimate duet. Lyrically, Isenberg writes songs which most love-struck teenagers, at one point or another, have experienced. At times he expresses desperation, singing “You know I’m kidding, but sometimes I feel like you’re all I’ve got” on ‘Jessica.’ Regardless, whether it’s “Kissing in the flaccid points between our sin soaked night” on ‘Five Little Sluts,’ or “I’ve waited for your love/I got lost in your summer cum/Leave all your stains with me” on the playful, yet erotic ‘Summer Cum,’ he explores themes of unrequited love, relationships, and drunken nights that express his vulnerability. Despite the group’s youth (3/4 of the members just graduated from high school), they manage to create an album that shows off their maturity while exhibiting solid pop structure, melodic guitar hooks, and well-balanced male/female vocals. Their impressive musicianship and potential to expand their sound further make them one of the breakout bands of the year.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti Before Today 4AD Text : Douglas Sweeney
When Ariel Pink originally handed off his handmade CD-Rs to his friends Animal Collective he didn’t hear back from them for a while. Until the band discovered the album, The Doldrums, on the floor of the car and vowed that they had to release “this weird kid’s music.” Since then it’s been quite the rollercoaster for the Beverley Hills-born musician. While he was no longer being booed off-stage like in his early years, he now had to deal with bigger, and more indifferent audiences, as well as the dreaded press.When this challenge proved he needed to get himself a band, he assembled Haunted Graffiti out of his vast network of musician friends. Starting with the release of the seven inch single “Can’t Hear My Eyes” and the subsequent “Thanks Mom, I’m Dead” Tour of late 2008, Ariel Pink began to gain more and more confidence in this newly formed incarnation of Haunted Graffiti and started down the path that would eventually have him getting signed to the legendary 4AD and recording with Sunny Levine (Quincy Jones’ grandson). It seems Ariel Pink has always tried to make the best records he possibly could, and given his limitations--he’s always done just that. Now that he had a distortion-free record in his sights, he was going to what he always does best--record music and surprise as many people as he can while doing so. Providing the songs, Pink seemed to give the band free reign on the arrangements, which concluded in one of the best pop records the world has seen. The breakout hit “Round and Round” proved to everyone that Ariel Pink had stepped out of the bedroom and he wasn’t looking back. The songs on the album are treated with such care by the band that they seem as though Pink himself is still the only one playing on the albums. The production is absolutely marvelous, and not just compared to the dark ages sound of “House Arrest” and “The Doldrums” etc. This album, I’m convinced, will go down in history along side all other recording triumphs. In essence, Before Today is the Abbey Road of it’s time, and it sounds just as good. Songs like “L’estat (Acc. to the Widow’s Maid)”, “Beverly Kills” and “Little Wig” date back to some of Ariel Pink’s earliest recordings. The name “Before Today” itself is taken from a song which first appeared on a self-released cassette that Pink recorded under the name Papermasche in the late 90s. This combination of new and old songs, sounds and ideas is exactly what keeps Ariel Pink in the forefront of modern music and makes him one of the most influential musicians working today. If you’re new to Ariel Pink I suggest you listen to all the albums you’ve been missing out on for all these years. I suggest that you see him live as many times as humanly possible. But mostly, I suggest that you leave your preconceived notions about the man at the door. If Ariel Pink has proved nothing else over this past decade, it’s that he’s most comfortable when you’re uncomfortable, and I promise you he’ll never disappoint. If there is one thing you can expect from him, it’s that he’ll never stop changing, so I suggest you don’t get too comfortable.
Jónsi Go XL Text : Evan Adams
What’s so fascinating about music, among other things, is the way it affects everyone differently. There is nothing objective about it. As interesting as these presumably subjective implications are, they are also causes of debate. What makes a song “good”? Why is one band “better” than another? On his first solo album, Go, however, Sigur Rós front man Jónsi accomplishes a unique feat: he is perhaps one of those rare artists who can bring objectivity into the discourse among listeners and make what were once arguable topics seem incontrovertible. In other words, after listening to the album’s nine tracks on repeat, I can’t imagine someone saying this album is anything but beautiful – and I’m not using that term lightly. Sure, that kind of unquestionable beauty subverts music’s inherent subjectivity (arguably its most endearing quality), but more importantly, it highlights how important this album is. The album echoes many of the lovely and sweeping sounds Sigur Rós fans have come to know and love; songs are layered with epic but fragile arrangements, melodies are executed, gorgeously, with a wide array of both classical and conventional instrumentation, and the tracks collectively reflect the familiar and successful juxtaposition between the somber and the triumphant. And then there’s Jónsi’s voice. Sigur Rós fans will undoubtedly recognize his angelic pipes, but they are also in for a surprise – and I’m not only referring to the use of English. On Go, Jónsi shows off his range more prominently than in any previous Sigur Rós album; through rich harmonies, he communicates his ability to reach impressive and stunning octaves, and he does so consistently. We hear Jónsi throughout, and that is a good thing. Furthermore, Jónsi’s pronounced vocals allow Go to follow a refreshingly straightforward path. It does not, in other words, meander as some Sigur Rós albums do but is instead marked by a stronger sense of melody and noticeable hooks (i.e., Sufjan Stevens or Owen Pallett). This isn’t a Sigur Rós album. And this isn’t another Jónsi and Alex collaboration. Just as the lyrical theme of growth colors the entire album, one can sense Jónsi’s evolution as a musician, apart from his other projects, as each track beautifully blends into the next; his departure stands alone and is one of the most pleasing records of 2010. I was exaggerating earlier, of course, when I said that Go would be accepted universally as a beautiful album. Still, it does have the potential to resonate as one of those classic records that challenged music’s seemingly subjective nature.
Here We Go Magic Pigeons Secretly Canadian Text : Simon Vanderveen
Here We Go Magic’s self-titled debut struck a proverbial chord with me earlier this year when I finally forced myself to check them out. Proving this band had some musical chops within the electronic/freak folk genre with it’s catchy, yet oh-so dreamy repetition, I was naturally drawn to the band. With songs like ‘Fangela’ and ‘Only Pieces’ it was hard to keep HWGM out of my head, which I think lyricist/vocalist Luke Temple had real talent in creating. Pigeons comes in similar vain with tracks like ‘Collector’ of which you’ll find yourself singing throughout your days of hearing this record. Repetition also shines brightly on this record but not always the enjoyable kind. At times, songs like ‘Surprise’ and ‘Bottom Feeder’ feel like forcefully made due to gazing that nearly bores. Then, your attention is immediately pulled back with ‘Vegetable or Native’ another track that showcases Temple’s talent of making seemingly lackluster songs into fun tracks that keep you coming back for more. In a mere 16 months HWGM turned out Pigeons, which in these 2+ year album development times is not an easy task. But that said, Pigeons isn’t breaking any bounds. Any HWGM fan of the previous album will get some hearty enjoyable listens, but to the mainstream crowd, this may just be a slight blip on the radar.
Alex Tatusian Absolute Heroics Self Released Text : Damanjit Lamba
Alex Tatusian, one part of the California super-group Mohawk Talk, has traversed into solo territory with Absolute Heroics. Ethereal vocals consume one’s headspace when first listening to Alex’s debut. Slow-paced drumming and muddled guitars fill fuzzy rhythms on “Weren’t You Gonna Shave Your Head?” as listeners catch cut off sentences and “I love yous.” “Principles” has a hook as sweet as summer wine thanks to the use of light guitar strings and airy vocals. Alex’s music definitely has a surprise factor to it as songs abruptly pause and end when you least expect it. “Del” follows with a stunning drum beat that has a hazy quality, the kind you would expect to hear coming from a basement that some kid was jamming in. “Dark Beer,” probably the most upbeat number on the album, sees the emergence of consistent lyrics from a man of few words. His voice still feels distant at times but this attribute marks the entire album, tying all the songs together. If I ever ended up in a desert and a beautiful mirage appeared before me, this is the music that would fill my ears. Alex’s rarefied voice is what you’d expect to hear when faced with an atmospheric illusion. Just like a mirage distort one’s perception, the site of Alex’s voice is just as illusory, lending to the beautifully eerie aura throughout Absolute Heroics. Alex’s solo album is made up of four songs, but as the saying goes, short is sweet, especially when you have music like this. I can loop Absolute Heroics on end and never feel like I’m getting any closer to deciphering the blueprint of Alex’s work. An unanticipated sound is just what we need in an age of music overflowing with rehashed beats.
Sleigh Bells Treats N.E.E.T. Text : Liam Crocker
To say Sleigh Bells ‘burst’ onto the blog scene would be an understatement. Their sound matched their incredible success: huge, loud, and unrelentingly catchy. Sleigh Bells is comprised of Alexis Krauss and Derek E. Miller, both relative unknowns based in Brooklyn, New York. The band has firmly established itself as one of 2010’s most exciting new acts; they are now signed to M.I.A.’s N.E.E.T. records and various indie festivals. Treats is their debut album. Equal parts production, sampling and striking guitar work, Sleigh Bells’ music could be described as a wild orgy of noise and Zeppelin riffs on speed. As much as this formula works, it does come across as a formula - it will be interesting to see what they do the second time around. Alexis Krauss’ vocals are soft and feminine, contrasting perfectly with the other half’s hard-hitting guitar riffs. A few of Sleigh Bells’ tracks had already exploded on the internet before Treats came out - namely ‘Crown On The Ground’, ‘Infinity Guitars’, ‘Rill Rill’ and ‘A/B Machines’. These make up the best tracks on the album. Peculiarly, a few of them use the same recordings - which are way too loud. Many of Sleigh Bells’ tracks will simply not sound good if played loud (the way they are meant to be played), which is a shame. This contrasts with the songs written specifically for Treats, which certainly have a different production quality to them. Their use of sampling either works amazingly or falls flat on its face (‘Rill Rill’ being an example of the former and the second track ‘Kids’ being an example of the latter). As much as the album could have used some fine-tuning, Sleigh Bells knows what it wants to sound like and for the most part it does it well. Despite the album’s samey-sounding tracklist and arrangement, I can guarantee there will be at least one or two songs you will not be able to stop listening to - Sleigh Bells’ mastery of the pop song is apparent.
The National High Violet 4AD Text : Brian Hunt
Only Matt Berninger could sing “I was afraid that I’d eat your brains / ‘Cause I’m evil” and not get laughed out of the studio. And he does exactly that on “Conversation 16,” a track off High Violet, The National’s highly-anticipated follow-up to their critically-acclaimed 2007 release, Boxer. In truth, Berninger’s lyrics have always toed the line between inanity and genius, a delicate balance borne both out of the vulnerability and angst that he so often takes as his subject and the fact that, by the band’s own admission, writing lyrics is the final stage of the creative process. Berninger is constantly tampering with songs, as evidenced by edits made to the opening lines of High Violet standout “England.” In early live performances on YouTube Berninger awkwardly intones “Someone send a runner for the guardian I lost for the guardian I lost today,” a line which appears on the album as “Someone send a runner through the weather that I’m under for the feeling that I lost today.” The change maintains the essence of the first version, but where, on the original, the repetition of “guardian” was clunky and disruptive, a clever internal slant-rhyme around “runner” rolls fluidly off Berninger’s tongue and maintains the forward motion of the musical backdrop. “England” typifies the rest of High Violet: the orchestration here is fuller than on the band’s previous records. On “England” the regular two guitars/bass/drums line-up is augmented by strings, a piano, and a French horn part which is alternately bombastic and atmospheric. While strings and horns feature elsewhere on the album (though, like in “England,” mostly for long chordal sustains) High Violet is not all studio polish. The take of opener “Terrible Love” that makes it onto the album is actually a demo version. Sounding like a 48-kbps rip of a scratched CD, the lo-fi grit of the intro evolves into a fuller sound just in time for the song’s climax amidst waves of distorted guitars courtesy of brothers Bryce and Aaron Desssner. For the most part, however, the formula for The National remains the same, the band drawing energy from Devendorf’s fluidly metronomic drumming, Berninger’s ability to evoke an incredible range of emotions despite the tonic limitations of his deep baritone, and the subtle brilliance of the Dessner’s orchestration and production. The stuttering guitar part that breaks up the otherwise steady waltz of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” and the way first single “Bloodbuzz Ohio” builds off a repeated triplet piano figure are just some of the details that make “High Violet” such an outstanding record (and one that, as is so often said, reveals new things to you upon each subsequent listen). The album succeeds even when the band keeps it simple, however. “Runaway” is little more than Devendorf’s floor tom, a lazily strummed guitar part, and Berninger, but, because of Berninger’s superb vocal delivery, it doesn’t really need much else. Likely to please devoted fans and attract new ones – a lengthy feature in the New York Times preceded the album’s release and the band plays Radio City Music Hall on June 16th – High Violet is remarkable not because it’s a huge step in a new direction for The National. It’s a distillation of the band’s performance on previous efforts, and while for many bands this would be grounds for criticism, The National’s relentless studio work ethic keeps anything on High Violet from sounding stale or unimaginative.
SUMMER 2010 COMPILATION
FOOT VILLAGE / COMA CINEMA / MEMORYHOUSE DICK DOG / FRIEND / PSYCHIC HANDBOOK TRUMAN PEYOTE / TROUBLE BOOKS BACK TO THE FUTURE THE RIDE / CAPTAIN AHAB THE BAND IN HEAVEN / RUN DMT
DOWNLOAD HERE PHOTOGRAPHY : STEFANO MARCHIONINI
Fashion… / 14 Alyson Fox asmallcollection.com
Photography… / 48
Jan Postma janpostma.com
Johanna Warwick johannawarwick.com
/ 48 Stefano Marchionini stefanomarchionini.net
Art… / 28
Confetti System confettisystem.com
Musicâ€Ś / 80
A Place To Bury Strangers
Summer Awaits! www.wearerebels.com
Featuring: Foot Village, Stefano Marchionini, Jan Postma and much more!