NO.4 Didier Blondeau Aaron Ruell Jim Gaylord Omer Arbel Henrique Oliveira Noriko Ambe Josh Poehlein
Brandon Blommaert Emily Cross Counter-Print Port Oâ€™Brien The Drums Fennesz complexgeometries
TITLE NO.4 | Oct/Nov 2009
TITLE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF CREATIVE DIRECTOR Catherine Bui ASSOCIATE EDITOR Christopher Nguyen WRITERS Jeanne Le Krystal Miranda Callie Rice Garrett Yim Michelle Nguyen Alex Rajabi Scott D. Mackie
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Misael Galdámez Kari Elam Jack Dolan Emily Hsiao CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Michael Boland Alexandre de Brabant Florian de Brün Lindsey Byrnes Cory Dawson Robert Keziere Estelle Klawitter Shannon Loewen Mauro Restiffe Dom Smith Mareo Suemasa Dan Wilton Masaya Yoshimura Maria Ziegelboeck
www.titlemagazine.net P.O. Box 27434 Anaheim, CA, 92809-7434
NO.4 October/November art & design
7 AARON RUELL
Ruell’s distinct style illustrates the balance of human poise, texture, and color
Merging various motion stills from films into his own artwork, Gaylord is not afraid to try new methods
33 JOSH POEHLEIN
Poehlein shows that accidents in the artroom have unexpected results
39 HENRIQUE OLIVEIRA
Oliveira gathers a common material from his hometown of São Paulo to create works that are not so common
47 BRANDON JAN BLOMMAERT
“Either it kicks your ass or it don’t.”
25 DIDIER BLONDEAU Using one color palette, Blondeau proves that adding color isn’t always best
17 JIM GAYLORD
Beautiful music.... manipulated with paper, wood and duct tape
With a sound that’s equally as distinctive as her fashion sense, this kid won’t stay across the pond for long
Christian Fennesz credits the sounds of water and wind to influence his music
81 THE DRUMS
Indiepop more Swedisher than any of those Swedishes.
85 PORT O’BRIEN
After a series of EPs and two albums, the band has now made their best album yet
88 ALBUM REVIEWS
It’s simple to say this Canada based clothing line is a litle more than complex
This design duo is offering an aesthetic design cover to cover
13 EMILY CROSS
Flickr houses millions of images but see why Cross’ style caught our eye
Ambe embodies the synchronicity between humanity and nature
Based in Vancouver, Arbel is known for his distinctive craft in furniture
AARON RUELL by Jeanne Le
In the midst of typing “Aaron Ruell” on the Google search bar, the search suggestions proposed, “Aaron Ruell died,” contrary to that matter he is alive today and spoke to us regarding his photography, commercials, and art projects. For those unfamiliar to the name of Aaron Ruell or his distinct style of photography, you might recognize him as Kip in the indie film, Napoleon Dynamite. Not much of an actor, he replies, “I don’t fancy myself as an actor. I’ve done a couple of films, but it’s never been something I’m out there trying to make happen. It seems to find me.” Rather, Ruell is, or perhaps should be, best known for his quirky and sometimes awkward feel in the obviously set-scene likenesses, which he also incorporates in manners of directing films and advertisements. Ruell grew up in the small town of Clovis, in Fresno County of California where he discovered photography in his early sophomore years. Jokingly, he claimed that the love of photography gave him something to hang on to during those dark, dark teenage years. Spending the next two years of high school in the dark room, Ruell acquired the basic dexterity of photography to build his future foundation on. After high school, Ruell attended film school where he developed a knack for articulating his style through the craft of motion picture. He re-
turns back to photography, which he has been shooting steadily for six years now. Aaron uses a Hasselblad film camera, primarily the H2, which is a more modern version in addition to the Hasselblad 501, which he uses in frequent occasions. Ruell is a storyteller, a photographer with a witty mind expressing some sort of comical or diverting cumbersome reality. When asked about his intention in photography, Ruell explains “...my goal is to make that image happen on film...images to carry some type of narrative.” He is drawn to clocks within a portrait explaining that such element as that narrates an image, telling the time and in some, date. His style is very well placed: iconic objects and good-looking perfect individuals that have an imperfect, but just right staged presence. Intrigued by the models’ natural complexities, Ruell patiently waits until moments when the models’ minds start to wander that he begins to capture. He plays with the balance of color, texture, and human poise; perfectly adjusting to his personal liking, therefore an exquisite style that can not be surpassed. Ruell has just finished filming a commercial for Volkswagen; he is currently working on a couple of campaigns in New York, an art project for Paper Mag, and finishing a script which he will be directing next year.
EMILY CROSS by Callie Rice
When you look at an Emily Cross photograph, the people—with the light drifting along their faces, instrument in hand, or a scratch of blood on their ankle—introduce themselves. Soon, these faces, once seemingly strange and foreign become casual acquaintances. Scrolling through the travels of Cross is easy to do. There’s a sense of realism that flows through the light, an amount of candidness that shuffles you into the scene. At first, like a family reunion, (the ones where your Great-Great Aunt Avery and your fifth or sixth cousins on your dad’s side are there)—familiar faces, stories, and backdrop—however each new and different with each turn of a page. As you delve into each image, the scene claims commonality, but maintains its uniquely Cross technicality. This is Emily Cross. Where do you live?
Most of the time, I live in Chicago. That’s where I go to school. Date of birth?
November 15, 1988 What camera(s) do you shoot with?
I shoot with my ol’ Canon A-1 ninety-nine percent of the time. The other one percent of the shooting happens on the odd toy camera, a medium format or a polaroid. How much editing goes into your work?
Next to none. Sometimes if the scanner gets colors all wacky, i match it to the original print. What do you find yourself most inspired by? Appalled by?
My inspirations are extremely sporadic and varied. Most of all I am affected by the environment, the landscape, conversations, sounds, and just striking images that enter my line of sight as I walk around the world. Other people inspire me, of course, but it is definitely not one thing that consistently does it for me. I can’t think of anything I’m appalled by right now.
What do you find most important in photography?
I think this one is impossible for me to answer. So many stars align, so many conditions cooperate with each other to form a photograph, so many chemicals fly around everywhere, so many... What do you fear?
Tornadoes, a bird flying down and pecking my eyeball out and waking up one day to discover that my inner peace has been shattered. When did first start taking photographs?
I bought a polaroid camera with my allowance at Wal-Mart when I was...I was nine, I think. What is your goal or message with your photography?
“I do what I want.” And “look how gorgeous the world is.” What is your favorite place in the world?
Next to the ocean.
Is photography a hobby or a career track?
I would say that it is a hobby that could possibly turn into a career track if the right doors were to open at the right time. For now, I’m just taking pictures. Biggest pet peeve?
When a smoker smokes next to a nonsmoker in a room without a window from which the smoke can exit. Where do you wish to travel?
I would love to get down to South America. Also, I have this dream to camp near the Dead Sea someday. I am content though, just being in the company of some really great people that I know. What is your favorite image of?
Anyone being in love with anything.
JIM GAYLORD by Jeanne Le
Spending a considerable amount of time during his high school years in North Carolina, while watching numerous horror movies, Jim Gaylord might account his past of absorbing in terror-filled films to his eclectic style of art today. He moved to San Francisco, where he attended University of California at Berkeley studying film. Thereafter, Jim left the film industry, which seemed stagnant to him, and was determined to pursue a career in painting and the arts. Jim Gaylord is an experimental and abstract visual artist who is clever in ways of incorporating his love of film into stills of oil or gouache. Many critics and viewers are often caught distraught with confusion by the perplexing actions entangled in one scene. Collisions of multiple events that are merged in one frame catches ones’ mind to focus or attempt to create an explanation. An explanation for Jim’s story behind the painting-whether it his style is just an artful taste that satisfies the eye, or it can
be a pragmatic style with a well-defined meaning and derivation. Using unfavorable films, where his art can be left unbiased, or as he explains, “I actually try to find my source of materials in films I don’t like so that the work doesn’t become a homage.” By pausing several films he picked, and juxtaposing them together, Jim Gaylord revives the different stories and scenes into one that speaks for itself through the artist. Another method and process of his abstraction includes: the removing of his glasses, painting with squinted and impaired vision, flipping through an illustrated dictionary, continuing to paint the image, and then finishing by putting his glasses back on. Jim Gaylord just finished a show in San Francisco this past February and another show in Milan this past June. He is preparing for a solo show at the Jeff Bailey Gallery in New York, which opens this month. Be sure to check him out if you’re there.
DIDIER BLONDEAU by Alex Rajabi
A thirty two year old artist born and raised in France who combines the solitude of snow with the intensity of a black hole only has two friends by his side: paper and pencil. At first glance, Didier Blondeau’s work looks redundant, but investigating each piece of his new series transports you to another level. No other sketches take you to a place like Blondeau’s does. He’s too rough to be Stanley Donwood and too casual to be Jackson Pollock. The best way to describe his work would be in his own words, “too associative to be minimalist,” though he doesn’t consider many of his pieces as art, but as commentary of his environment. His motto to “walk round and round but enlarge the circle” is nothing short of what he’s been doing for his entire catalogue, but that doesn’t mean he can’t explore other medias. Blondeau has gone to some of the biggest art schools in France studying cinema, literature, and current art, but his consistency through his sketches in his new series, Bois Croises, are what artists search to become for their whole lifetime: definable. Bois Croises, meaning crossed wood, is a good way to describe what you’re looking at in the new series by Blondeau, which is made up of one hundred unique pieces taking a journey through the barren landscapes of bark as if you’re an ant crawling through burnt trees. Each sketch starts where the previous left off, shifting from gothic to white light without losing its structure. One would never
think of studying sketches of crossed wood from the viewpoint of an atom for an extended period of time, but the more you see, the more you will crave. Trying to keep a theme without being redundant is challenging, especially for an artist who doesn’t incorporate colors to his work (though his daughter used the color brown in a collaboration with him), but it is something Blondeau achieves with pride in Bois Croises. Each piece, which is covered from corner to corner, takes a week to complete and undergoes many different methods of drawing, including different kinds of inks and quills. Drawing a parallel between crossed wood and lines, many of his pieces are improved and experimental, but always keeping a rhythm. Maybe it’s because he listens to the radio while working, but often reads and appreciating the art of music and film. For fun and inspiration, Blondeau goes through a phase, visiting as many exhibitions as possible then taking time off to digest what’s around him. He often listens to blues and watches science fiction films, which smoothly blends in his sharp drawings. Each one of the pieces transforms into their own world, one bleeding to the next, serving as a commentary on the “complex and unstable reality of the world, with a cold and distant glance.” As his favorite director, Andrei Tarkovsky, once said, “Don’t write on the fertility, but have a fertile writing,” and that is what Didier Blondeau does best.
33 photography | illustration
JOSH POEHLEIN by Krystal Miranda
Accidental art is a term not unfamiliar to Josh Poehlein. His project, Borderlands, involving digital media over his own photography, was a form he so happened to come across when working in his classes back in college. By jokingly drawing figures over images with a Wacom tablet, Poehlein discovered a whole new realm of the art world; one filled with refreshing contrast, unique imagery, and endless possibilities. Starting out in Albany, Georgia, and then hopping around to Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New York for college, Josh Poehlein has finally settled in Salt Lake City, Utah where he captured the majority of the images used in Borderlands. Wherever he went, Poehlein could be found experimenting with different forms of art; from doodling during sermons in church when he was young to engrossing himself in every art class possible in his high school years. Poehlein eventually chose to focus his talent on photography, which was the major he earned his degree in at Rochester Institute of Technology. His keen eye is most utilized when looking for subjects behind the camera; he is drawn to sharp contrasts in time, between the opposites of new and old, and divisions of landscapes by physical barriers. His thought processes about the landscapes and subjects he captures are unusual and original, in a one-of-a-kind way. By realizing the past, present, and future of the objects and places he shoots, Poehlein looks beyond the scope of typical interpreta-
tion and breathes new life into his images. The studied photographs and realistic drawings of Borderlands, Poehlein describes, creates a wellthought out and cohesive set of pictures, with a consistent yet playful vibe through the juxtaposition of the digitally drawn subjects and captured landscapes. He sees the usage of white characters more as removing information from the setting, rather than adding on to it, an idea he makes out to be as “a reminder that a landscape is not complete without a history or potential future.” The philosophy manages to merge into his new project, The Bens’ House, which was deeply influenced by his recent move from the room of a foreclosed house. He describes that the series was “lot about holding on to a situation that I knew was ending soon,” and how the images he took were “a sort of battle against the lack of permanence that [he] felt.” Josh Poehlein doesn’t plan to stop at the realm of photography; he discloses his interest in working with more forms of digital manipulation, such as moving images and various other software that have had a growing impact on his photo expertise. As for his future, Poehlein is continuing on with his Modern History series, with the plan to apply to graduate school for the fall term of 2010. A new photo project could be something to look forward to later on, as it is still in the very beginning stages of his mind.
HENRIQUE OLIVEIRA by Jeanne Le photos by Mauro Restiffe and Henrique Oliveira
His fingers run through the cracked ground; the Earth adorns itself with insects and animals. At an early age, the young Brazilian artist, Henrique Oliveira was already primed by the curiosity of ordinary objects in São Paulo’s out-skirted town of Ourinhos. He spent much of his free time exploring the neighboring houses and empty spaces sparked with curiosity. During the time when there was no video games nor technological toys, the time where imagination was the main source of every child’s play, Oliveira constructed spaceships and “maquetes,” meaning models, particularly architectural models, with ordinary mediums just as he does today. At age 16, Henrique moved from his hometown of Ourinhos to São Paulo where he stumbled upon the masterpieces of well-known artists such as Van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró who inspired his pursuit of art. He spent numerous years as a self-employed aspiring artist in able of supporting himself. Though Oliveira is widely known for his astounding wooden Tapumes installations, which means fencing, boarding, or enclosure in Portuguese, he tells us that it is painting that he is drawn more into. Considering the form of art as a language he confesses,”I like both languages...I would say painting is something more pleasant to do, but the installations also fascinates me.” “If it satisfies the eye, I will already be happy. Painting is not made to speak, it is something to see.” Feeding his visual impulse, Oliveira layers contrasting hues and tones of acrylics on the can-
vas that would appeal unfeasible to any other person. Oliveira, on the other hand, has the brilliance to make the patterns seem as if they were almost speaking to each other. The brilliance of hue, pattern, and texture presented in various pieces of Henrique’s paintings can be seen incorporated into his more resourceful yet innovative installation series, “Tapumes”. Originating from Ourinhos and São Paulo, where where the wooden fences are ubiquitous, Oliveira came up with an idea to gather the decayed wood as his medium for an art show. “Architecture was the starting point for the Tapumes series...so it used to be about building spaces, place where people can walk through,” as Oliveira describes the origination of his undertaking concept. In the beginning, the installation was envisioned a much more constructive artwork, but as he began painting on the wood, he processed a collage of wood that found way on volume which enlarged into what his life-sized work are today. Starting with a PVC skeleton, Oliveira and his assistants enfold the painted scraps of wood fabricating an eloquent warp. Oliveira is currently working on a new installation project for “Bien do Mercosul” exhibition. Anticipating art in the future, he says, “[Art will be] in many, many places, but each time [it will be] more difficult to define what art is.” And hoping to continue further in painting and creating installations, the artist will be relentlessly producing art despite what ever will be a consequence of it.
BRANDON JAN BLOMMAERT by Michelle Nguyen
Popularized by his collection of images that consists of sculptures made of recycled garbage, Brandon Jan Blommaert’s art isn’t just skin deep. A Canadian and a well observant person, Blommaert considers his art style as a “dystopic” version of Jim Henson’s work; from paper sculptures to retro animations, Blommaert’s style is as eclectic and complicated as a robust robot on ice. His works range from sketches, animations, sculptures, as well as making sounds and rendering his drawings on Photoshop; with this being said, the impression that he can do everything at once is utterly false. Blommaert’s working pace is meticulous as well as time consuming as he works towards constructing his pieces on various types of mediums, --and it shows. Being influenced by music and the world around him, Blommaert states that he “think(s) about musicians that create interesting new worlds of sound, people who can ride the line between abstract noise and accessible pop music. You can analyze it or theorize about it all you want, but you don’t have to, in the end it is just rock and roll. Either it kicks your ass or it don’t.” While stumbling onto Blommaert’s website, an average Internet browser would consider his website as a cluttered, messy site, but navigating the site becomes a cinch after relating his website to his description of the difference between abstract noise and pop music. His art is a little less accessible than the easy to manage art out there, but all of Blommaert’s abstract work will most definitely be as catchy as a radio pop hit.
NORIKO AMBE by Garrett Yim photos courtesy of Contrasts Gallery, Mareo Suemasa, Masaya Yoshimura and Noriko Ambe
The conceptualization of art from nothing is one creative feat, but the conceptualization of art from pre-existing art is a controversial one. Noriko Ambe, born in Saitama, Japan manages to pull off both efforts with startling originality. Currently, most of her works consist of the alteration of paper objects, either by meticulously etching and cutting through other artist’s catalogues or books to create an entirely different piece. On another spectrum, she also works towards creating her own individual free-hand cuts, which she stacks together to create abnormally formed shapes. Despite the perception that all of these acts are seemingly random, many of her works embody the spectrum of human emptiness and our relationships with the concept of time and nature. Most recently, Ambe was invited to collaborate in Wall Rockets, an exhibition involving international contemporary artists, and pop artist, Ed Ruscha. What is the difference between the reception you receive from American art viewers, as opposed to those in Japan? Noriko: In Japan, 2000, my works were not so ac-
cepted by the Japanese people. Then when I came to NY, I was picked up for a solo show, suddenly, everything began to move. Last year, 2008, I was invited by Tokujin Yoshioka, a designer, to a group show, Second Nature, at 21_21 Design Sight, then, it seemed Japanese people understood and accepted my work. How long do your works typically take? N: The most time consuming piece took a year and
a half. Even small works sometimes take a couple months, and sometimes for 3 weeks or longer. It totally depends on the situation. What is inspiring you the most these days?
N: A long-term theme is synchronizing between hu-
mans and nature, but now, I’m working on artist catalogues, books...through the books, dialogue with the artists is thrilling. I am trying to find something I could cross over with them through my cutting to express the essence of art. I really enjoy the emotive quality of your work, and that you don’t necessarily try to maintain perfection persay. Your work is very meticulous, yet not mechanical. Do you feel that each work you create represents a current state of mind you’re in or an important period of your life? N: Actually I’ve been trying to finish perfectly for
each piece, I mean everything is a process, the process has the same importance as the goal. For me, my work is like a vehicle to develop myself. Actually, this Linear-Actions Drawing/Cutting project will be a long lifetime theme, Time. So far it has been 10 years. Do you feel that your work is purely Japanese? Or does it take influence from other cultures as well? N: I am Japanese. And I’m also one of those people
who try to embody the synchronicity between humanity and nature. Those are my thoughts.
I’ve heard that you used to make Japanese sweets. What is your personal favorite sweet treat? N: That was a part time job, but the sweets were
very traditional stuff for tea ceremonies, which was kind of artistic. My favorite is Gyu-hi.
If you weren’t making art, what would you be doing now? N: Maybe a teacher, which I used to do, or be a trav-
59 industrial design
OMER ARBEL by Jeanne Le photos by Cory Dawson, Shannon Loewen, Michael Boland and Robert Keziere
21.0 series 17.1 table
Omer Arbel is a Canadian architect and industrial designer who today resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. At an early age, Arbel was already fascinated by structures, buildings, and in particular skyscrapers. These interests in turn then led him to Waterloo’s School of Architecture, where he was obsessed with building models. As the years went by, “the importance of representational qualities of the models diminished, and my interest in the object itself and the process of making it increased,” Arbel explains referring to his transition from architecture to industrial design. Therefore he considers himself as an architect interested in industrial design. Handling positions such as Creative Director of the manufacturing company Bocci and leading his own design firm titled after his name, Arbel describes the benefits of managing both firms which do produce very similar representations, but require contrasting jobs. As Creative Director of Bocci, his position stands in a technical manner of the development cycle and aspects concerning even changes as small as a millimeter. Whereas for OAO - Omer Arbel Office (the design firm), the job requires an innovative mindset of creativity and aestheticsfabrication, texture, quality, and overall look. It is a healthy balance that feeds and provides a steadfast production of high quality and groundbreaking products. Arbel merges contemporary form and simplistic elegance from his “objects” series of 14.0 lights, the notably coveted 2.4 chair, to “spaces” such as the 23.2 house or the 15.2 penthouse. Arbel explains that the naming strategy is simply related to chronology. Such designs of shape and uncommon form represents an abstract investigation where Arbel’s extensive process follows experimenting with a visual concept, deconstruction, exaggerating, then manipulating a fabrication process. All that revolves around aesthetic, functionality, and practical usage. He plays an invisible role as a creator of engaging products that dwell in peoples’ homes, he elaborates, “I believe deeply that the spaces we inhabit, and the objects we interact with have tremendous impact on our identity, well-being and even ethical position in life.” His work is invested in producing the very best ornamental commodities that integrate in people’s lives of its ingenuity and sensible character. Currently, Arbel has been working on several household items for various notable manufacturers, completing the 23.2 house, a new showroom for the high-end contemporary furniture Kiosk in Toronto, and starting work on a café interior in Vancouver.
2.4 chair 25.0 bench
COUNTER-PRINT by Callie Rice photos courtesy of Counter Print
The latest technology brings not only subject matter into the books; but also the books to the people. Founded by two formally trained graphic designers, Jon Dowling and Celine Leterme, Counter-Print is an online bookstore that runs on selected vintage books and Wi-Fi. “There is something about owning a book and having it on your shelf that makes you mistakenly believe that it will impart its wisdom upon you. As if it is enough only to own the book,” explains Dowling. However, whether it’s a coffee table conversation piece, or War and Peace, owning a book certainly adds to an individual’s perception of intellect—but what you can’t find at your average mass-market chain retailer is the character that Counter-Print displays. An affixation with the classics in the genre, “Counter-Print itself was named after the book of the same name by the great Dutch designer Karel Martens.” Bright covers stack along scroll bars rather than along rolling ladders in a library; and the treasures are lined up for the new age of literature and modern art and sciences alike
through Counter-Print. Jon Dowling explains to us what Counter-Print is all about... “My partner and I are actually graphic designers and have totally embraced any form of new media that allows us to make a living on our own terms. Skype for instance allows us to chat through work with a client in Las Vegas from our kitchen in the South of England. Then there’s Twitter and Flickr, Facebook and blogs. Everyone can now be a designer and run their own enterprises from home. It was this ability to do something self-sufficiently, to create a business from scratch, that first attracted us to the idea of Counter-Print. Design college had given us the experience to be able to brand our own business, design and build a website for it and really see a venture through. We kind of just needed an idea after that. We had been working in London for a few years at different design agencies and had always been avid collectors of design. My partner is Belgian and I’m English and I have always been amazed going over
there and seeing the second hand book shops in Belgium, Germany, France and Holland. Europe (and when I say Europe I mean the rest of the continent that isn’t British or Irish) has such a rich design history. This is at it’s most evident when thumbing through the design section of their second hand book stores. Almost every book is a classic and they’re all pretty affordable. Books by great Dutch graphic designers such as Wim Crouwel and Paul Ibou and American designers we admire such as Lou Dorfsman, Herb Lubalin and Milton Glaser are pretty common place. Counter-Print itself was named after the book of the same name by the great Dutch designer Karel Martens. We would always bring these books back to England and they would be stared at with wide eyed wonder and a healthy dose of jealousy by our studio colleagues. A designer’s obsession with books is curious in itself. There is something about owning a book, to have it on your shelf, that makes you mistakingly be-
lieve, that this will impart its wisdom within you. As if it is enough only to own the book. Only the robot from Short Circuit in my recollection is able to absorb the contents of a book in one swift flick. I digress. So, an unhealthy obsession with buying and collecting design combined with a knowledge of books and an understanding of their popularity bought about Counter-Print. After that we just had to create a platform that people would feel comfortable purchasing from and try to price the books fairly. This was because we were still aware of what it was to be on a student budget and held a belief that design should not be elitist. So far it has been a success but it will always be a labour of love. We take most pleasure from uncovering new designers and from the constant stream of books that come through our home as it’s a constant source of vivid inspiration to dip into.” Books above from left to right: History of Graphic Design by Philip B. Meggs, Architectural Review, no info available, Herb Lubalin: Art Director, Graphic Designer and Typographer by Gertrude Snyder and Alan Peckolick, Visual Comparisons by Alan Fletcher, Colin Forbes, Bob Gill.
photo by Claire Morgan
CLAIRE MORGAN 29, London, UK What inspired you to make installations where objects were hung on strings? Iâ€™m interested in the illusion that can be created, of something that might seem both imposing and incredibly fragile at once. Suspending thousands of objects in a particular sequence can give the impression of a larger form with a stronger impact, despite being nothing more than a series of unconnected parts. I like the metaphorical implications of that. Are all the animals and insects you work with real? Â Performing taxidermy on animals and working closely with insects, however horrible, enables me to develop
an understanding of my materials, and form a relationship with the things I am creating. It is about nature, and I think using models instead of real materials would be missing the point. Most of you installations seem to deal with nature, why is that? Iâ€™m fascinated by our relationship with nature, both the positive and negative aspects of that relationship, and how it changes. Humans often work in opposition to nature, ignoring our connection and behaving as if we are completely unaffected by it. What will ultimately connect us all to every other organism in the world is our mortality, and I am interested in exploring that notion.
photos courtesy of Ryuji Nakamura Architects
RYUJI NAKAMURA 29, Tokyo, Japan Where does your main inspiration behind many of your installations come from? All things in my daily life. For example, the shape of the curved pinup paper on the wall in front of my desk. Besides from making installations you make furniture too, why do you think your attracted to more three dimensional forms of art? I am interested to see what shape gives birth. You also seem to work with paper a lot as your material, why is that? Paper is flexible. So the details are different from the details of hard materials.
How would you describe your designs? Space that is born for a certain shape to be repeated. Are you currently working on anything? An exhibition at Peel Gallery in Texas and an installation in a Japanese museum. What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career as a designer?
Every form is fresh and interesting.
Photos courtesy of Ryuji Nakamura Architects
photo by Florian de Brün
KATHARINA TRUDZINSKI 32, Hamburg, Germany Patterns and shapes are a big part of your work. Why are you attracted to them? I like the meditative aspect in the work. To do one thing over and over in slight variations. In this confinement there are waiting endless opportunities. Are triangles your favorite shape? I love all the other shapes of the universe. Why wood? I also worked with paper, cloth, tape and carpet. But I ended up with wood. It´s easy to handle, stable, not too heavy, easy to paint, easy to get. I just like it.
If some elder were to ask you “What in the world is this?” how would you explain your work? Crazy bricolage. You also do paintings, but they seem to be made up of 3-D materials too. What makes something considered to be an installation or painting? The installations are created for a special environment. I referencing to the exhibition room. Mostly I work for a few days or a longer period on the site. The paintings are created in my atelier and they can be shown in any place.
photo by Lisa Kellner
LISA KELLNER “Not in my twenties”, New York, USA The majority of your installations revolve greatly around politics, why is your interest so deeply focused on this? I wouldn’t say I am particularly interested in politics, but rather what happens when a bunch of people get together to form a society, the rules they make and how earnestly those rules are broken. I’m interested in what makes a culture tick. How would you describe your art? Would you consider it as a propaganda? Well, I am human and a part of this culture so I imagine some viewers would consider my work to be propaganda. I’m ok with that. For me, the work is about dissecting the
components that make up society. You seem interested in the news, do you get your daily dose everyday? I am interested in the news. I am also very interested in nature. I try to combine the two in my work. But they don’t directly feed into the work. It is more like a tape playing in the background from which I draw upon You create 2-D and 3-D work, which would you say speak more to you? Each feeds the other. I will make a large scale installation that will inspire drawings which will cause me to make something else sculpturally.
by Misael Galdámez photos by Estelle Klawitter
German pianist and composer Volker Bertelmann, or better known by his alias, Hauschka, is an explorer— though not in the traditional sense. No, Bertelmann is an explorer of prepared pianos and piano sounds, manipulating music with simple objects, plastic paper, pieces of wood, and even duct tape. Though his first experiments with pianos was with his parent’s at the age of ten, it wasn’t until twenty years afterwards that Bertelmann began to manipulate pianos professionally. Since then, Bertelmann has created a toolbox of sounds from an assortment of items, categorizing each by its quality. Favorites include ebows and vibrators, mods that keep the tone steady, an unusual quality for a piano. However, Volker Bertelmann doesn’t always work alone. On his latest album, Ferndorf, four of his pieces included an accompaniment by a string quartet. Other pieces, like “Morgenrot,” were improvised with two cello players from Dusseldorf, Donja Djember and Insa Schirmer. Volker expresses that though he would love to take his cellist friends everywhere with him; he cannot because the cellos require seats
themselves. Bertelmann finds that the most challenging part of playing live is catching the audience off guard creating feelings of exclusiveness. For this reason, he chooses to improvise. He plays what comes to mind in his special room. Some days the reverb is so nice, he’ll just play with the reverb, while other times he’ll only want to play drowned sounds. “It is the first time that I feel glad to be doing something without thinking about it. It came across differently to a lot of groups and I get feedback from all kinds of scenes. That’s why I belong to both an indie festival and a folk and jazz oriented crowd.” Hauschka is currently touring in Europe and Japan with a variety of contrasting acts, ranging from jazz pianists to indie rock and Gregorian folk, and is content to be part of such different styles. Bertelmann’s plans for Hauschka include writing two movie soundtracks for two separate American movies, as well as a tour in both Japan and the USA in October. Amid all this, Volker Bertelmann still plans to record new albums and a theatrical piece.
THECOCKNBULLKID by Krystal Miranda photos by Dan Wilton
As trendy as the classification has become, thecocknbullkid’s sound proves to be pop with a truly unconventional twist. With high-pitched vocals that pierce through dancey synths, the singer-songwriter has burst onto the British music charts and is slowly but surely making her way into the realm of the U.S. music scene, bringing her unusually tasteful sense of style along with her. A handful of festival performances and an appearance on Later…with Jools Holland while still unsigned confirm that this girl’s got talent. When asked how the artist’s penname was created, Blay smartly replies that “it’s a tongue in cheek way of calling myself a bullshitter.” But the same doesn’t exactly go when it comes to her music; being surrounded by Ghanaian music from her father’s side of the family, Blay has felt the impact of music since her childhood years in London, writing stories and poetry when she was just eight as her own means of creativity. Since the age of sixteen, Blay has both written and produced her own tracks, and until recently she began to experiment with fellow producers at the age of 24. Her song-writing process is equally as genuine. Anita prefers drawing in the bad feelings over the good when it comes to inspiration, channeling “desperation, despair, rejection, death, failure” and all the rest to get her creativity flowing. Her selfproclaimed failure with the woes of relationships and
boys tend to be a major driving force for her music, and her problems are made known in her songs “I’m Not Sorry” and “Clean Apart.” With statements coming from NME calling her “the most interesting thing to have come out of London since Klaxons,” and high praise coming from bloggers around the globe, thecocknbullkid is proving herself to be one of the next big pop artists to emerge from the affluent and diverse UK music scene. There is, in fact, even more to look forward to with Blay; she is currently working on her debut album, with a few tracks already revealed that infuse piano melodies and even catchier tunes, an unexpected but delightful transition from her previous electronic pieces. Anita Blay can be found working away on her product in Stockholm or Paris, as she discloses, where it doesn’t take much to create her ideal day; a bit of book shopping, gallery visits, and ending the day at the pub is how Blay likes to spend her time. It’s obvious the newly discovered fame hasn’t gotten the best of Blay, and it is after all, well-deserved. This once aspiring musician has kept herself grounded, advising one important message to those musicians not much different than she once was: “Talent is only 50% of the work. Work hard, have a purpose and don’t take no for an answer.”
by Garrett Yim photos by Maria Ziegelboeck
The guitar is an outdated instrument. You can hear it from overhashed riffs on rock radio, you can hear it at Guitar Center when someone stumbles over the opening riffs of “Stairway,” and you can hear it in college from collared-up frat boys strumming the latest Jack Johnson tune. Everyone can play guitar, but not everyone can make it form texture. To shape the guitar into a wall of sound and to have it transcend into something ethereal and pure is a talent that little possess, and few perfect. Christian Fennesz has been playing with perfection for years and still continues to progress in pushing the limitations of the electric guitar, combining it with glitchy computer based sounds intertwining jangly pop melodies. One can attest this to his range of influence, from A-Ha to Stockhausen to Sonic Youth, and to his association with equally talented musicians, such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Otomo Yoshihide, and most recently, Sparklehorse, whom he has released the album Sparklehorse + Fennesz, a collaborative effort that was recorded in 2 days as a part of Konkurrent’s In The Fishtank series. Today, Title discussed with Fennesz his composition process and experiences with other musicians. How do you compose your songs and what is your writing process like? I’ve noticed how much granular synthesis plays a role in your
music, but do you write your songs first then process them? Or is it part of the composition process itself? Christian: It can be both. There are many approach-
es actually. Sometimes it all starts with a few guitar chords; sometimes it’s a laptop improvisation. Sometimes I have the whole piece written before I start recording, but basically many of my compositions are based on improvisation. I am not using granular synthesis that much. I do use it at times but not really that much. I use any kind of synthesis these days. I just started to get more into physical modeling synthesis which was a very 90´s thing and is now quite underrated in my opinion.
In 2007 you collaborated with the legendary Ryuchi Sakamoto (YMO) to create the album, Cendre. How was that experience and how did it come about? Do you ever plan on collaborating with him again? C: It was a great experience. Ryuchi and I have been
working and touring together a lot during the last 5 years. He is a very good friend. David Sylvian introduced me to him. I was working on a track for David´s Blemish album at that time, shortly after that I was in New York and Ryuichi contacted me and invited me to come to his studio. We started
playing together and it worked well. We have just One artist who’s aesthetic reminds me of your begun work for a new album. own is the Montreal artist, Tim Hecker. I believe In relation to the question before, are there any artists you want to work with that you haven’t been able to yet? C: I think I am already very lucky to be able to work
with friends that I consider some of the best musicians of today. At the moment I don´t feel like starting another collaboration. There is still a lot to explore with the ones I have, but you never know.
Some may find it surprising that the Beach Boys have played an influence on your music (as noted with the title of the album, Endless Summer, and your cover of “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)”). Are there any other influences you have that may be considered “far out there”? Or perhaps any guilty pleasures you have? C: When I was growing up in the 70´s and 80´s, I
you’ve played some shows with each other in the past, but do you ever see yourself collaborating with him? Personally, I’d find the idea of it quite mind-blowing. C: Tim is a friend and I think his music is fantastic,
as I said before... you never know.
You’ve done the soundtrack for various films before. What has been your favorite one and how is the process of making music for film done? Are there some songs you already have on the side that you just hand over, or is it a meticulous process in which you view certain parts of the movie and try to write a song over it? Also, are there any directors in particular you would love to make a soundtrack for? C: It’s definitely more a meticulous process. I am
always writing new material when I do film music. was always listening to pop and rock records. This I enjoyed working with Austrian filmmaker Gustav music was probably my biggest influence, but I lis- Deutsch . We´ve done many projects together. At the tened to all kinds of music. There was a free jazz moment, I compose music for a very artsy Japanese club close to where we lived. I used to go there and science fiction movie. If I could pick a director to I listened to the weirdest improv music that I had work with, it would probably be Jean-Luc Godard, ever heard at that time and then I went back home but that’s dreaming... and listened to my Neil Young records. For me, a Stockhausen or a Ligeti record had the same value Your music has this very organic feel to it, deas a Beach Boys record or a Sonic Youth record. It spite it being heavily processed and electronic, I feel it reminding me of the natural world, sounds would all fit into my world. Guilty pleasures? Not of the ocean, wind, rain, etc. Do you ever just really. I was much into synth-pop in the 80´s. I was sit down, take in the natural environment, and a big a-ha fan, I still am. formulate certain ideas? Your latest album with Sparklehouse also displays your affection for pop melodies, however, many also consider your music to be very experimental and avant-garde. What do you like to categorize yourself as a musician, if anything? C: I try to avoid that to be honest. I like to experi-
C: I love to do that. The sound of water and wind has
been a huge influence. I´ve been growing up next to a lake.
The same question goes for the industrialized part of the world, the noisy clamor of a busy city full of cars and people. C: It can be interesting, but having spent many years
ment with sound, but I also like melody. Even if my music may be experimental, I think one can find in big cities, I prefer nature now. traces of pop music in it.
THE DRUMS by Scott D. Mackie photos by Dom Smith
NYC’s The Drums are quite possibly the most exciting thing in the indie world right now. Their sound might be described as an exhilarating amalgamation of 90’s tweepop (Sarah Records), 80’s synth-wave (Factory Records), and 50’s doo-wop, all filtered through and controlled by a 00’s Scando-pop aesthetic. They are playing numerous live shows throughout NYC this summer (almost every night!), and have just finished their first release, an appropriately titled six-song EP, Summertime! which was released on September 15th, on TwentySeven Records. Though playing live as a four-piece (and sometimes more), the band is comprised primarily of Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham. We sat down with Jonathan on the computer, and sent some questions to which he later sent some responses: You’ve been getting great press and enjoying really good crowd responses. It sort of seems you guys are poised to become the Next Big Thing. How does that feel? Jonathan: You know we are still kind of in shock by
what is going on. We started playing as a band just a couple months ago, and it has really been a tornado of a ride and sort of overwhelming at times. We are just trying to keep our heads down and keep working
hard, writing more music and playing more shows. Our main goal is to have fun in all of this. Who are your favorite Swedish bands? Have you been there? What was your coolest experience there? J: Hmmmm . . . There seems to be a lot of great mu-
sic coming out of Sweden. I’d say we are pretty stuck on The Tough Alliance, The Legends, Acid House Kings, The Embassy, Boat Club, and Air France. Jacob was just in Sweden playing shows with his band Horseshoes! I hear he had a great time and was able to chat a bit with the guys from The Embassy! Tell us about the forthcoming album. What will it be like? Are there any surprise elements this time? J: Our EP, Summertime!, that just came out was dedicated to the familiarity of summer. For our full length, we have written some darker material . . . still pretty, but darker. It’s all still straight up pop though. Any plans for split releases? If so, who would you like to do a split release with? (Hint: Knight School would be a nice choice). J: You know, we are doing lots of things in lots of
places around the world, the idea of a split, while
interesting to me, has not come up. And you are dead on with your recommendation. Knight School is the only band I listen to right now and they are good friends of The Drums. I want everyone to hear them and feel that . . . feeling . . . Tell us about your label, Holiday Records. J: Holiday Records is more Jacob’s thing. He had
I don’t mind at all. Oh, and we drink a lot of beer too! Tell us why you like The Wake so much, and where do you see them exercising the most influence on your sound? J: I like The Wake because they wrote this perfect
song called “Pale Spectre.” You know it’s funny: I this brilliant idea to make a darling little website and was just talking to one of my bandmates about how give away darling little songs for sensitive people. strange it was that The Wake didn’t take off, but yet It’s definitely worth checking out, actually. There New Order did. I feel like in essence they were sort is this new band they are putting out called Surfer of the same band. Both wrote pretty, incomplete Blood that is blowing my mind right now and they sounding pop songs with jangly guitars and synths, and both had a girl member. The Wake didn’t have need to be noticed! Look out for that! as many singles, and also they did not have a former lead singer who hung himself. There is also someWhat inspires your songwriting the most? J: Well, we wrote all of our songs in Florida. I had thing to be said about a band just wanting it more. just moved from NYC to Orlando to live with Jacob and start a band together. I think the combination What was the most valuable lesson you learned of Obama coming into office, the sunshine, and the from the protagonist of “Instruct Me”? What was good weather helped influence this sort of summer the most painful lesson learned? sound we have on the EP. Now that I am back in J: That song is about my first time having sex. No NYC, I am able to write some darker material. I am lessons learned, just a lot of fear. such a product of my surroundings . . . it seems . . . And lastly, the question all lazy interviewers well . . . I dunno. What do you like to do when you are not creating indiepop masterpieces? J: We do what normal people do: talking, walking,
should roll out: Is there anything you wish an interviewer would ask, but hasn’t, for which you have a marvelously witty answer at the ready? J: Yes! Why are you so lazy!? Kidding. Yeah, well I
guess I could talk about Knight School some more, eating, sleeping. I have a great dog named Harry that but I will spare you. I am madly in love with. I take him to the park and we exchange looks. He takes up a lot of my time, but
PORT O’BRIEN by Kari Elam photo by Lindsey Byrnes
In the midst of a contemporary creative culture that seems to be desperately lacking both there are those artists who let the hordes grapple for the glitter while they themselves make gold. Meet Port O’Brien, musically inclined alchemists. I had the pleasure of interviewing Van, one half of the founding and “core songwriting” duo. There’s Cambria “the heart of Port O’Brien,” the second half of the founding and songwriting duo, and general compass “very in touch with the overall direction of things.” Ryan, “the rock” without whom “there would be no Port O’Brien,” was enlisted to record the band’s latest album, Threadbare. Currently on tour in Europe, PO’B brought along Gram “the Nels Cline figure, a little older, the best musician out of all of us...also the comedic relief (Youtube search ‘disabled toilet alarm’)” and Tyson who much like Mike of glory years long gone – “brings the energy to the stage.” Finally, like every great van before him, Van is the “one who tries to hold everyone and everything together.” There’s something about vans, more so than any other vehicle, that take you on a ride where time and distance pale in comparison to the journey itself; and in talking with the songwriter,
it’s the drive that guides the direction for PO’B – not the other way around. The group began in California, and while their home state had an undeniable overall influence on the band; it was their time in Alaska that set the sonic landscape for their debut album, All We Could Do Was Sing. Their first single, “I Woke Up Today,” is indicative of the title’s “obvious metaphor for youth.” The sound reinforces that freshness synonymous with youth, while conveying the stark minimalism of the Alaskan tundra, all built upon that Californian base that is their “rock,” their “home.” Sonically, there’s complex, multi-layered beats performed with basic, authentic, natural – seemingly makeshift – instruments. The complex production style, reminiscent of electronic/pop music, paired with the simplicity of acoustic instruments creates a brilliant dichotomy. It is as if the beats build an environment, where you can literally feel the sound around you, the vocal harmonies over the beat create a mood that is more internal – a mindset to offset the external. The combination of the two tonalities creates an amazing listening experience – a complete atmosphere of sound. The sound is uniquely PO’B’s . The jump from
All We Could Do... to their new album Threadbare is not “really a progression from anything, but merely as a different stand-alone album.” As such, it doesn’t rehash their first album, nor does it veer completely from the band’s original sound; rather it is just another stop, somewhere between – or beyond – California and Alaska. Again, there is the fundamental authenticity of instrumentation, but the second album sees a return to more basic tempo. Songs like “High without Hope 3,” “Next Season,” and “Love Me Through” are lighter and more string-based, while songs like “Threadbare,” and the personal standout “My Will is Good,” emphasize the deeper sound with bass percussion undertones. Ask Van about what PO’B hopes to convey, and make the listener feel, with Threadbare and the core vision of true art will be revealed: “I want them to feel whatever they feel. There’s no specific feeling we’re trying to instill in people in any way. That’s not really the point of music. We are just writing songs about what we went through this year, and hopefully people will enjoy it;” ask Van about the motive behind PO’B’s musical mélange, the di-
rection behind the dichotomies and juxtapositions, and the sheer genius of a true artist will be revealed: “I think the dichotomous undertones come about organically for the most part.” Humility, classy. Port O’Brien’s music reflects their band – diverse, yet congruous – and the places of which they are a product – collective and inclusive like California, with lyrics that touch in on the most fundamentally universal human thoughts and concerns, yet insular and solitary like their stint in Alaska, with a tone that comes across as detached and unaffected. There is the connection and the distance, but it comes across so intrinsically. The music, like a natural extension of the musician, doesn’t try to be anything – it just is. PO’B’s music is like a journey with no destination in mind; and the ride is that much richer as a result. It’s been said “A person’s pursuit of goodness leads to greatness, but a person’s pursuit of greatness leads to ruin. Pursue goodness and you will achieve great things.” Port O’Brien in the midst of “the scene” is like gold to glitter; glitter is great, but rest assured that gold – much like their will – is always good.
ALBUM REVIEWS by Scott D. Mackie, Jack Dolan, Kari Elam, Michelle Nguyen, Emily Hsiao
Balmorhea All Is Wild, All Is Silent Remixes Western Vinyl; 2009
Fat Freddy’s Drop Dr. Boondigga & The Big BW The Drop; 2009
Balmorhea, an Austin, Texas based-band, uses traditional acoustic instruments, such as guitar, cello, violin, piano, banjo, upright bass, to create soft, articulate, and inviting “folksy”/neo-classical/ambient songs. Though largely instrumental, wispy background vocals make occasional appearances; electric guitars also pop up at times, though typically in the service of some semi-clichéd post-rock maneuverings. Their most recent release, All Is Wild, All Is Silent, is fairly representative of the sound they have established over the past 3–4 years. Though providing a couple of pleasant listens, this album never really grabbed me. Thus, when I saw that a collection of remixes had been made from that album, I was not overly excited . . . until I saw who was doing the remixes. All Is Wild, All Is Silent Remixes features an all-star cast of ambient and indie stars: Eluvium, Rafael Anton Irisarri (a.k.a. The Sight Below), Tiny Vipers, Machinefabriek, Library Tapes, Jacaszek, Helios, Peter Broderick, Xela, and The Fun Years (who are one of the most amazing new artists to emerge in the past few years). Though a number of the remixes are notable, particularly those of Tiny Vipers, The Fun Years, and Library Tapes, the standout track is clearly the Eluvium remix of “Settler.” A 17+ minute bliss-drone masterpiece, this remix begins by prominently featuring the forlorn and echo-y male & female vocal that only appeared briefly at the end of the original song. Eluvium then highlights the original cello and singlenote guitar figure, surrounding them with swelling, massed-up synthdrones. With the aforementioned vocal occasionally surfacing in the background, the song builds into glorious crescendo at the halfway mark. Classic Eluvium. With the state of bliss now well attained, the song spins its wheels in low gear for the remainder, dropping suggestive hints of the first half’s build-up, with the echo-saturated vocal appearing exactly when and where it needs to. State Of The Art: 2009. -Scott Fat Freddy’s first album; Based on a True Story may well have been the soundtrack to my summer last year. The New Zealand dub reggae outfit’s sound is just perfect for stereotypical sun-drenched good times. So with their second offering they have surely made a crucial mistake releasing it at the end of the summer. Maybe they are just so laid back they didn’t get round to it. It may seem a bit drastic to condemn this album purely because of the weather, it is certainly another good effort from the Wellington based 7 piece, but when it’s dark and wet outside it’s just not the same. Trying to be objective, this is still not as good as the first album. Forays into a more dance music style on “Wild Wind” and “Shiverman” are tenuous. But this is not to say Fat Freddy’s have lost it, in fact, for the difficult second album, they’ve done pretty well. It will certainly get an airing next summer. “Big BW” is almost glitch hop and a great opener, “The Raft” is classic progressive dub, and “The Camel” is a great reggae/funk/jazz mix up. Get hold of this album and save it for a sunny day. -Jack
Little Dragon Machine Dreams Peacefrog Holdings Ltd; 2009
Mount Eerie Wind’s Poem P.W. Elverum & Sun; 2009
Little Dragon’s second full-length album does not fail to give their listeners another blast from the past. Using the same formula as their previous self-titled album, Little Dragon’s results were vibrantly different. With a more commercial-friendly pace, Machine Dreams emulates the sound of Prince’s Controversy era, but also adding in their own pinch of dark spices and futuristic flavoring. The band has shown us the art of composing the perfect sing-along album by throwing in a few beatheavy songs such as “My Step” and “Swimming” and mixing them with catchy familiar songs “Feather” and “Never Never.” The combination of Yukimi’s charming vocals, as well as the band’s clever instrumentals is what makes Little Dragon the most memorable band of the decade. -Michelle
Pacific Northwest lo-fi artist Phil Elvrum used to release his material under a project called The Microphones. He released plenty of very good albums from 1999 to the early 2000s, but his one absolutely phenomenal album The Glow, Pt. 2 came out in 2001. It was earnest and poignant and made people’s hearts swell with every emotion. It had songs about shortcomings and death and the moon and wanting wind to blow and everything else you’d dream up in a place like Anacortes, Washington. It wasn’t perfect, but it was so damn close. In 2003, Phil decided that his time recording under The Microphones was finished, and moved on to creating songs under the moniker of Mount Eerie. Some fans were let down by this change, as they couldn’t let go of their associations with The Microphones. Other fans (wisely) approached Phil’s new efforts with open arms and ears. Unfortunately, I was in the former camp. Sure, I listened to some of the subsequent Mount Eerie releases, but my stubbornness prevented me from really getting attached to them. Enter Phil’s newest album, Wind’s Poem. The details around the album intrigued me—Wind’s Poem is supposedly Phil’s “black metal” album, yet the title also suggests a certain delicacy of the wind. Opener “Wind’s Dark Poem” quickly offers an alternative, as it immediately assaults ears with heavy percussion that layers into more heaviness— showing the wrathful and destructive aspect of wind. The hushed “Through the Trees” gently builds and progresses over 12 minutes, presenting an image of a quieter breeze. It soon becomes clear that these juxtapositions within Wind’s Poem—noise into ambience, Phil’s soft croon under jarring dissonance—mimic the instability and indefiniteness of natural phenomena. All together, it is really good. I realize now that I’ve been missing out. The Microphones is not dead. Past themes and subjects still find their way into Mount Eerie material, in this case carried into this album by Phil’s wind songs. Listen to Wind’s Poem. You will hear the outside. You will hear forces. You will hear beauty. -Emily
Ochre Like Dust of the Balance Benbecula Records; 2009
Polvo In Prism Merge Records; 2009
Ochre has been doing his thing for over a decade now and has a relatively small but loyal following. His music combines glitchy synthetic beats with complex and ornate melodies that roll alongside each other to create miraculously solid grooves. The new album, Like Dust of the Balance is more trademark Ochre but with the addition of violinist Benet Welsh, who helped write, and played on, the album. This gives the album a new and refreshing organic element, in the form of different stringed instruments intertwining with the electronic rhythms. All of Ochre’s work is very alien in it’s sounds, so the addition of some recognizable instruments is welcome. Still this is the kind of music you will either appreciate or not. “Whispers” is an epic journey from Vangelis-esque synths, through ethereal vocals ending up with snips of Jazzy cymbals and chords. “Lunar Suburbia” comprises a string of unnerving chord progressions that slowly become familiar. All the tracks embark on strange intergalactic journeys. Just make sure you’re strapped in before you set off. -Jack For any artist, releasing an album 12 years after your last is a tricky situation. Assuming you still have a dedicated following, you’re expected to somehow address if not satiate their fickle desires. It’s been 12 years—fans will probably be a little needy and overly excited. “Obviously I don’t want them to sound exactly the same—I want to see something fresh,” they’ll dry heave, “but I also don’t want something too fresh, you know? It can’t be completely unrecognizable; the music should stay true to the sound they’ve made for themselves.” Not so demanding, right? The men of 90s math-noise-post-experimental-what have you-rock band Polvo have returned from over a decade-long hiatus with In Prism, their fifth studio album. After member-restructuring and focusing on side projects in the mid-90s and actually disbanding in 1997, Polvo reunited in 2008. In Prism is their latest offering, a collection of eight songs that rewards true blue Polvo fans and easily wrangles in new ones. In Prism is fresh enough to showcase Polvo’s musical innovation and progress, yet still familiar enough to yield listeners’ warm nostalgia. The explosive album-opener “Right the Relation” has the band’s classic, dissonant fuzzy sound down pat, and tracks like “Beggars Bowl” and “The Pedlar” maintain it throughout. They haven’t ditched their urgency, but with their newest effort they’ve made room for more melody. “D.C. Trails” finds vocalist Ash Bowie actually softly singing (not straining his voice) amid shimmery cymbals, and the very pretty yet still destructive “Lucia” even features violins and a cello. All in all, In Prism is a highly listenable album. Polvo is back and flexing their musical muscles with this one—12 years have not atrophied them one bit. -Emily
Samara Lubelski Future Slip Ecstatic Peace; 2009
Tiny Vipers Life On Earth SubPop; 2009
Besides being a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (she plays the violin, cello, bass, and vibraphone to name a few), recording engineer, and all-around respectable musician (rubbing shoulders with both the free-folk and art punk scene), Samara Lubelski is also a lady who knows and capitalizes on one important secret: don’t always lay all your cards out on the table—keep ‘em guessing. On her latest album Future Slip, Lubelski plays hard to get, making listeners actually work a bit to really hear her music. These efforts pay off, however, as listeners are ultimately rewarded with not only a sense of accomplishment, but also with a really great listening experience. Apologies for ruining the surprise, but this is what happens: Future Slip greets you with what seem to be several tracks of 60sesque French lounge-pop. Lubelski’s whispery vocals and dreamy “ba ba ba”s gently coddle and prepare you for a seemingly relaxing ride. Five tracks in, “Headships Down” throws you a slight curveball. It’s a more minimal track than the previous four, and stripped of “pretty” pop distractions, Lubelski’s voice really commands attention. And soon you realize that there is something kind of off, something you can only pick up on if you’re really listening. Her voice, so ethereal in the previous tracks, is a bit deeper and haunting now; gone is the lounge-pop vibe and in its place are seasick guitar tones. These eerier tracks are somewhat hidden in between the obvious pop nuggets, but they truly make the album. With each listen, Future Slip gradually reveals more of its secrets. Be patient, as this lady is worth the pursuit. -Emily Tiny Vipers is Jesy Fortino, a Seattle-based, acoustic guitar singersongwriter. Her music is hard to describe. It certainly transcends the “female singer-songwriter” genre. Her songwriting and sense of melody are subtle, articulate, and occasionally entrancing. Her guitar work is leagues beyond most others in the genre, and while her lyrics border on the mystical, they are firmly rooted in the earthly, real-life realm. The overall effect is aesthetically similar to Elliott Smith’s blend of dark and moody somberness, with unexpected notes of joyful, yet guarded, optimism periodically soaring up from the bleak landscape below. A slight influence of medieval music, somewhat reminiscent of Zeppelin III, is also felt. Because I am not a big fan of this “genre,” I initially had trouble appreciating Life On Earth. Nevertheless, since I sensed “something” was there, I persisted. After the fourth or fifth forced listen I was hooked, and ended up listening to this CD for 3 days straight. Similar results have occurred with friends with comparable tastes in music. Tiny Vipers played the Echo Curio in L.A. on July 27th, and her performance lived up to and even exceeded my expectations. She fully inhabited each song, living and breathing them in the moment. It was definitely one of the best shows of the summer. -Scott
Inglourious Basterds Motion Picture Soundtrack L Driver Productions Inc./Warner Bros. Records Inc.; 2009
The xx xx Young Turks; 2009
If Quentin Tarantino’s film Inglourious Basterds is an ode to the Spaghetti Western genre, the soundtrack is a sonic equivalent to the Eurotrekking American spaghettihead backpacker. The piece is not so much an album as it is the audile catalogue to a European journey through the ears of an American dreadhead. It is the beatnik at Le Deux in the midst of The Hills backdrop; it is the raw, worldly, and worn anti-Summer film soundtrack in the midst of Kid Rock and G.I. Joe blockbusters. In classic Tarantino production, the cultural collage including Italian, American, Acoustic, Folk, French, Glam Rock, and German create a textural masterpiece. Atmospheric and complete it is a European immersion through the eyes of an Europhilic audiophile. Nick Perito’s introductory “Green Leaves of Summer,” build the physical terrain, and set the pace as if the steady progression forward is fuel for the soundtrack. Ennio Morricone’s “the Verdict” is the foray into an insular mood shift. It is arduous gone aural as the piano and strings build to a Sisyphean crescendo. “White Lightning” follows, and is anything but; the hazy, slow, deliberate, anticipatory track – reminiscent of an old Western town on the brink of a showdown – and it is what those saloon walls would harmonize if they could talk. Billy Preston’s “Slaughter,” is sheer soul—sheer American spirit. It is the American Badass Kid Rock could never be, it is Kanye on the red carpet with a bottle of Hennessey; it is the Chevrolet in the Champs Elysees, Biggie in Buckingham Palace. Lyrical tracks are rare, but even still the diverse collection combining French, American, German, and British artists take “Cat People” from the pub, past the Rhine to grand ol’ Paris. Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds Soundtrack is a sonic mélange so textural, so tangible, so vividly authentic, that it projects the sound into view; Tarantino’s soundtracks are created so that Stevie Wonder can see a Tarantino film – this is an immersion. -Kari This debut album from London based Indie four-piece, The XX is one of a kind. Beautifully simple and understated, it is easily the coolest release of ’09 so far from probably the coolest band around at the moment. The album is almost minimal in its instrumentation and yet still gives nods to several very different genres. The XX delicately combine influences as far apart as The Cure and Justin Timberlake. The beats and effects all come from a couple of MPC samplers; although they are so delicately played you could be forgiven for not noticing. The two lead vocalists, Romy and Oliver have known each other since nursery school and it certainly shows. Both their voices have a similar soft, laid back quality, coming in and out in turn as though in conversation, then layering over each other or joining for sweet harmonies on choruses. The first single, “Crystallised” is strangely infectious, “Infinity” is surely a deliberate (but as always subtle) homage to Chris Isaak, and “Islands” is short and almost too sweet. -Jack
COMPLEXGEOMETRIES by Calvin Cupino photos by Alexandre de Brabant
complexgeometries does more than just produce everyday clothes for the everyday wearer. The label’s latest collection, “…between good and evil,” is much more philosophical than that—it explores the grey area between right and wrong and takes from a variety of references, some of which include vigilantes and ghostly apparitions. This is where fine art meets fashion, where clothing meets communication, and, of course, where good meets evil. The mastermind behind the fusion of ideas, Clayton Evans, now known as complexgeometries grew up in a small town in northern Canada. While studying fine arts at the Alberta College of Art and Design, he realized that his real artistic passion was that of fashion design. He taught himself design, and then combined this with the skills he learned while studying the fine arts to create complexgeometries. Since the label’s origination in 2006, it has evolved many times and will continue to do so in the future. The design process, however, has usually remained unchanged. When asked to take Title through complexgeometries’ design process, Evans responded by saying,“The process usually starts with an idea, either conceptual or physical. Then there will… usually be some 3-D experimentation, either draping or drafting. From that, the final style is developed. When things don’t end up as intended, we’re more likely to continue in that direction than fight it. A clearly conceived collection, no matter how obscure, is usually influenced by a collective social consciousness,
but mistakes are rarely foreseen; embracing those mistakes is more likely to lead to something truly original.” The pieces themselves are very unique, many of them having no clear front or back, and acting as more of an addition to the wearer’s self, rather than pieces of clothing that actually wear the wearer. They often completely transform the person’s silhouette (which Evans does by starting with a simple shape and adapting it to the body, rather than starting with the body and building around that) and push the norm, forcing the wearer to step out of his/her comfort zone—something you must do in order to create a statement. Most of the pieces in this collection are a beautiful black, grey, or white, occasionally interspersed with subtle hues of pink and purple. They are adaptable to each person, and the whole collection very accurately portrays the conflict and co-existence of moral ideals, just as intended. complexgeometries isn’t like other labels of this generation. Evans says that they are set apart from others because they have a “humble awareness that ‘fashion isn’t everything’ balanced with an acute belief that the clothes we wear and the culture that surrounds them profoundly affects the life of everyone on the planet.” Another great thing, too, is that the label is still in its developing stage of life. Title is eager to see more great things from them in the future, and we’re sure we will. We can’t say the same for other brands out there.
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INDEX Aaron Ruell www.aruell.com Brandon Jan Blommaert www.pandaclock.com Claire Morgan www.claire-morgan.co.uk complexgeometries www.complexgeometries.com Counter-Print www.counter-print.co.uk Didier Blondeau www.didier-blondeau.fr Emily Cross www.flickr.com/photos/emilycoffeepaper Fennesz www.fennesz.com Hauschka www.hauschka-net.de Henrique Oliveira www.henriqueoliveira.com
Jim Gaylord www.jimgaylord.com Josh Poehlein www.joshpoehlein.com Katharina Trudzinski www.katharinatrudzinski.de Lisa Kellner www.lisakellner.com Noriko Ambe www.norikoambe.com Omer Arbel www.omerarbel.com Port Oâ€™Brien www.portobrien.com Ryuji Nakamura www.ryujinakamura.com The Drums www.wearethedrums.com thecocknbullkid www.myspace.com/thecocknbullkid