Thursday, 23 December 2010

Music You Should Listen From 2010

Matthew Dear @XOYO London 9th December 2010
It's been an eventful year, a coalition government, an oil spill, Lady Gaga's meat dress, ash cloud, snow freeze, you name it, we've had it.It's also been a year of discovery and rediscovery, nostagia and innovation. I won't be listing my top 10 or 20 albums here, you've seen it way too many times. Instead it'll be a collection of singles, EPs and albums in a random order that resembles my journey through 2010. (Note: no Beach House, Arcade Fire or any of that sort).

The Knife - Colouring of Pigeons
Colouring of Pigeons by Rabid Records

This is the first track I went nuts for this year. If you haven't heard it yet, it's about time you get acquintanted with The Knife's most adventurous and fruitful collaboration with some opera singers and classical composers commissioned by a Danish performance art group about Charles Darwin's evolution theory.

These New Puritans - We Want War
The most accompolished and daring track off the whole album Hidden. TNP knows how to impress, the video is a guaranteed hit with any Matrix fans.

Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here
First there's the attempt from Nas to "remix" New York Is Killing Me, hit single from Scott-Heron's poetic and big comeback after 13 years on a long hard road to redemption from drugs and imprisonment. Last month Jamie xx brought out his version. The full-length album is highly recommended, for quiet solitary.

Liars - Sisterworld
This is what pop music sounds like if we were on plant Mars, where there are only angry scruffy men in cheque shirts.

Glasser - Ring
This is what pop music should sound like if Lady Gaga was never born, Beyonce never shaked her booty and Shakira never learned English.
Glasser - Home by Ragged Words

Matthew Dear - Black City
If you are a man in your early/mid 30s comfortable on the dance floor anywhere in Europe as long as they are not playing Bollywood soundtracks and prefers ghostly sounds of Eno and David Byrne then you'd love Black City and possibly Dear's 2007 album Asa Breed.

If you are a girl into deep and playful droning male vocals, some mild techno and serious head nodding then you'd also love this album, front to back.

Check out the remix below on  rcrd lbl and then listen to the original to compare the difference, you'll see what I mean.
Matthew Dear - You Put A Smell On Me (Breakbot Remix)

Teengirl Fantasy -Dancing in Slow Motion ft. Shannon Funchess
If you've heard plenty of How to Dress Well,  Teebs and Forest Swords, you'd love what you find in Teengirl Fantasy's highly anticipated debut album 7AM.
Blending plenty half speed old school R&B and pop with a good dose of synth flutters, this is dream pop at its best.

Solar Bears - She Was Coloured In
Such a shame that I couldn't include these guys in my Bear-named bands lineup post. This Irish duo started in early 2009 who, like Teengirl Fantasy dudes, also met at college for sharing a love of world cinema and sound programming. Having managed to bring out one EP and one LP in the space of a few months, Solar Bears is possibly my second favourite new entry of 2010. Check out Twin Stars, Primary Colours At The Back of My Mind, among the best.

Lorn - Nothing Else
 No comparison has been drawn between Lorn and Hudson Mohawke, but somehow the two connected in my brain. Not when I listen to their albums but when I realised that both have made big impressions this year despite being camera-shy, out-of-town (Lorn in Illinois and Hud Mo in Glasgow - for better or worse?) compared to the likes of Skream and Nosaj Thing.
This is not the best album of the year, but certainly one of my favourites on a lonely winter night in my bedroom when it's hailing snow and rain outside. Your heart grows stronger and your muscles harden with the beats and beeps coming out of Army of Fear and Cherry Moon.

Lorn - 'Nothing Else' Album Mix by BRAINFEEDER

James Blake - Limit To Your Love
This is predictable but for good reasons. If there's one song you should listen this Christmas, it's James Blake's version of Feist's Limit To Your Love, definitely the best song to end your 2010.
Full post...

Monday, 1 November 2010

Autumn/Winter 2010 Bands to Watch Part 2

View All Photos | FOREST SWORDSSo it seems that Band to Watch Part 1 has gone down pretty well with the crowd. Here's part 2, in no particular order...

Forest Swords
Tunesmith Matt Barnes AKA Forest Swords gives Liverpool music scene a massive boost with nature-inspired dark and dusty beats. Rooted in classical soul, hip-hop and dubstep, it has been coined "dronestep" by the highly regarded Gorilla vs. Bear, which somewhat undermines the "nowness" of Forest Swords's sound. Drone is Sunn O))), and Forest Swords sounds nothing like a step-version of Sunn O))). It seems almost bizzare that no comparison has been drawn between the Scouser (NOT a "woollyback", a term I acquired on my way up to Liverpool earlier this year) and the mass number of Witch House/Drag bands sprouted in the States this year from oOoOO to Balam Acab. (For a non-typical Witch House playlist, I've put together one here). Perhaps it's because Forest Swords started on this side of the pond, he's been automatically excluded from the "witch house" movement? We would never know.

Catch him DJing at Static Gallery in Liverpool on the 13th of November warming the place for Liars, it'll be good.

Forest Swords - Rattling Cage from ///NO PAIN IN POP\\\ on Vimeo.

Party Trash
Another one-man project it seems, and a member of the mysterious Owlhead Collective, also a member of the Disaro Records family, Party Trash has put together some of the most "difficult" drag/witch house remixes to date. A self-titled album came out in June on Bandcamp, if you prefer Salem and White Ring to oOoOO, as the latter is a tad more poppy, you'd like what you find in Party Trash. Surprisingly, his latest take on Alicia Keys is as smooth and silky as the sheer water on a still lake.

Download the remix here and listen to the full mixtape below, featuring a chilling remix by Master Suspiria Vision of Party Trash. It's better upon second listen, no goosebumps, just waves of "R n B".

James Blake
Everyone's talking about James Blake, and I don't blame them. The rising star in British music has got everyone excited with his varied and contrasted two EPs from sweat and swagger to cool and calm bleeps. He could be the ultimate combo of Radiohead and Skream, bridging dubstep with mainstream electronic in an effortless grace. As if the two EPs are not enough proof, the cover of Feist is simply beautiful and enchanting. The single Limit To You Love is out on his debut album in early 2011, it's going to be huge so I won't post about it again.

Meanwhile, familiarise yourself with his 2010 EPs CYMK and Klavierwerke on Spotify

James Blake - Limit To Your Love from James Blake on Vimeo.

Wolf People

Last but not the least, an actual band that puts guitar at the centre of the stage and yes, they are touring. Make it to Angel Islington on the 16th of November to catch this psychedelic quartet from Bedford/London/North Yorkshire. If you appreciate Black Mountain and Sleepy Sun, then you'd be more than happy with Wolf People's latest attempt to bring back the classic rock sound with pride and honesty. Check out their label Jagjaguwar for the likes of Small Black and Women.

Who said guitar's gonna fade out and keyboard and synth's taking over? Nobody's listening to La Roux any more that's why she's declared that synth's dead.

Rock's more than alive, especially this winter.

Tiny Circles by Wolf People from Secretly Jag on Vimeo. Full post...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Car crash, crashed cars: art works revisited

A couple of months back I posted about car crash as a subject and object in some artists's works, and surprisingly people seem to be fascinated by car crash, death and chaos (keyword searches on Google told me). Well here is some more, gruesome and graphic images by New York-based Danish photographer Peter Funch and one of the latest photo series from German artist Ricarda Roggan, who's better known for her still-life arrangements and installation of furniture piles.

By moving the spotlight from the human physical beings to the wrecked cars, both artists make these objects represent a human failing or a human emotion, as if they are dying victims rather than just vehicles. In Roggan's photographs a falling-off bumper looks like a frowning mouth, while smashed headlamps suggest downcast eyes. The spectre of abandonment, isolation and death is present – not only because there has been an accident, but because these cars are obviously not bound for the repair shop: they will remain permanently obsolete.

Funch however, approaches the scene with a very different perspective. He captures the moment of clashing forces, the fragility of human bodies and the crash's aftermath perfectly with his journalistic and forensic style, with great precision and careful observation. His latest project Babel Tales is far less bloody and worth a look too.

Ricarda Roggan, Garage (2008)

Peter Funch CRASH (2009)
Full post...

Friday, 15 October 2010

He Sen: the lost generation

Beijing-based artist He Sen has been painting girls smoking, drinking and dazing for a good 10 years now. He has quietly become a powerful force among contemporary Chinese painters. His ultra-realisitc and photographic oil paintings of women, often in seductive underwear and poses, are sharp and blurry at the same time, with starkly contrasting colours, greyed-out background and vivid details which paint a bleak and pessimistic picture of the youth culture in China. 

Without contextualising the images it's easy to dismiss He's work as simply the "objetification" of women, possibly border-line "erotic". But the message here is more complicated than that. These women are beautiful, yet their bodies are deadly grey, their faces often blank and lacking intensity compared to their clothing and pose, shadows often dance into the background and the only one or two details that stand out are the lips, the drinks and the cigarette smoke.  After much fame and fortune, He has moved on in recent years to ink and pen and re-invented classic Chinese paintings of flowers and trees, but to the Western world these nearly naked sad girls still look far more interesting.  

Full post...

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Monkey King in contemporary Chinese Art

Ever heard of the Chinese legend Monkey King? Think of Spider Man, but way cooler. Monkey King Sun Wukong can ride clouds, clone himself with his monkey hair, spot demons and witches with his Fiery Golden Eyes, even when they dress up as innocent pretty girls ready to seduce. He's also a shapeshifter, able to transform into 72 objects and animals. He hates the authority and was put under a big rock and spell by the gods for sabotaging the Heavenly Kingdom, until the Journey to the West novel made him a bodyguard of Buddhist monk Tripitaka, who was commissioned, in real life, in the 7th Century to trek to India to retrieve Buddihist sultras. Alone with the Monkey King, there was Pigsy, Sandy and the monk's white horse, whom later revealed himself to be a dragon prince.

The traditional realisation of Monkey King is often in the form of opera, film and staged play, but contemporary Chinese artists have found new ways to re-interpret the classic Monkey - in a space suit with a big six-pack.

Check out the carefully handcafted toy figures by Cacooca, an enterprise based in Beijing that creates funky designs of Pandas in print and figures.

Contemporary Chinese Artist Wang Mian (not the one from the 14th century) has also produced a series of mini-sculptures featuring the Monkey King and his fellow disciples. All in somewhat a futuristic and sci-fi fiction inspired style. Wang's work has been exhibited in China and Switzerland.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Full post...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Lissy Elle: beauty in Wonderland

There are plenty of fashion shoots, magazine covers of girls mixed with leaves, water, flowers, trees, whatever you like, to create a dreamy and romantic atmosphere, that sort of photos you'd associate with teenage girly fantasies. And amongst the best of this kind, Lissy Elle, the Canadian photographer, people's Flickr princess has produced some stunning looking work in recent months, following her much praised series of floating bodies in the air called "Get Back In Your Book"

Check out her Facebook page for the latest rejects that didn't make it on Flickr, and her Tumblr for Qs & As
Enhanced by Zemanta
Full post...

Friday, 8 October 2010

Timothy Archbald: Man and Machine

Men have this natural psychological horror when it comes to machines, from Isaac Asimov to the Terminator, we fantasise and terrorise ourselves with robot baddies. This series of photographs by Timothy Archbald seeks to disintegrate the myth around the robotic and showcase the quirky workspace in the home of the founder of Hanson Robotics, Evan Hanson in Richardson, Texas. Enjoy more of Archbald's works here

Full post...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Kesley Henderson: Beauty in platonic crush

Portraits normally bore me, but not Henderson's, whose work is a brutally honest study in perception and attraction. Her painting style is traditional, normally using oil on large scale canvases, comprised of seemingly invisible layers which connect to her subjects like skin. Lying at the heart of her work, the emphasis on the skin and body enables the artist to continually exploring the idea of the "Platonic Crush", an immediate attraction to someone, without a primary focus on sexual attraction. They reflect encounters with people that you want to look at for a longer period of time (without being creepy), rather than just brushing past them in the street.  Using a desaturated palette, these excruciatingly pale portraits become almost translucent. The bones, bruises, scars, veins and tendons shine through, not as imperfections, but emblems of beauty. Describing these obsessions, the collection of crushes, Henderson says, “The people I select are neither flawless nor of a conventional charm; rather, their raw and real beauty creates a uniqueness which draws interest to my paintings.”

Kesley's photographic realism paintings can also be related to fashion photography through the subject’s dress, stance and eye contact. Check out the short film below produced by FLY 16x9 fashion and art web channel, New York, who followed Kelsey during her work and documented the creation of oil paintings during a Christian Dior shoot with models Masha and Toni. The direction was carried out by Melissa O'Brien.

Platonic crush from FLY16x9 on Vimeo. Full post...

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Autumn/Winter 2010 Bands to Watch Part 1

Back in June I posted about some bands which went down a storm with zero comments and no views. To follow this tradition I'm highlighting a few more for the approaching autumn/winter. Like fashion shows, twice a year, without actually being ahead of the trend and requires no Vogue editors to sit on my front bench, here's the catwalk. In no particular order...

El Guincho
The one man band consists of Pablo Díaz-Reixa is often mistaken for a group due to the wonderful arrangements of tropical beats and melodies in his works, taking Fool's Gold's Surprise Hotel happy mood to the next level. His new video Bombay is full of surprises including nudity, foot fetish and shooting a Panda toy bear. Directed by the talented Maruxa Alvar, who's a set designer of many Spanish short films and features.
El Guincho takes inspirations from a wide range of genres, for a glimpse of what made his new album Pop Negro so different, check out his Spotify playlist here
Currently touring in the UK, El Guincho would be back in London on the 4th of Nov in Cargo, prepare to break out some serious Latin dance moves.

EL GUINCHO | Bombay from MGdM | Marc Gómez del Moral on Vimeo.

If you thought Hudson Mohawke was wonky, check out his fellow Glasgowegian dub electronic wizard Rustie, who's pioneered a genre invented by the Warp record naughty man whom shall-not-be-named as "aqaucrunk". Before I rant on about this invented sub genre which was embraced quickly even by the Guardian, have a listen of the teaser mix of Rustie's new EP Sunburst, out now. It's dublicious.
Rustie spinned and shined at his EP launch party at the Camp on the 1st of October, his next show is in Brighton on the 22nd this month. Make your way down.

Rustie - Sunburst EP Minimix (out 4/5 October on Warp Records) by Warp Records. Uploaded with Scup

At this precise moment as I type, there are 930 listeners on Last fm for Islet, and over 9000 plays of their not so big library. That means everyone who's lucky enough to stumble across this band (thanks to my music buddy the Owl Post for the tip) on average listens to them for10 times. That must mean something as I rarely follow through on new discoveries.

Not much is known of this experimental group of four from Cardiff, apart from the obvious comparisons to GAGGLE and to my ears, traces of early days HEALTH/Fuck Buttons, with tribal drums and soulful vocals. Islet is probably the only band on earth who's determined to live in the bronze age without the Internet, no MySpace, no Facebook, no PR, no promotion. You'll have to find them on Spotify and have a listen, before catching them in London on the 11th November at Cafe Oto. There'll be drums, and loads of drumming.


This six-piece instrumental hardcore/post rock/maths rock all-in-one started last year with a couple of singles and are releasing their debut album Hollow Realm on the 15th of November (via Big Scary Monsters). Having shared a stage with the likes of 65days and Pulled Apart by Horses, Talons have crafted a distinctive sound that marks them apart from fellow "post-hardcore" bands such as Tubelord (oh Lord) and the likes. Have a little taste here of the rawness and power of two guitars and two violins roaring intermittently like tigers and lions playing in the wild. Pop into Camden Barfly on the 18th of October you'll see Brontide and Talons one after the other, a real treat for any instrumental hardcore fans.

Full post...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

24 Xiao: The Chinese Fashion Obsession

Xiao[孝] meaning filial in Chinese might seem completely irrelevant to the series of fashion shots created by the Taiwanese photographer Liang Su and produced by Jeffery Wang from the ad agency BlanQ.

The only connection is that there are 24 pieces in the series and each photo takes one expression in the ancient filial duty bible and applies them to the new found obssession with Western high fashion and luxurious brands. It's completely souless and another attempt to marry up East and West commercial cultures that's visually pleasing. Nevertheless, the images are highly polished, beautifully arranged and fit for the Chinese Vogue and Elle. Spotted brands include Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier.

The agency BlanQ has an extensive portfolio on Behance that's worth checking out.

Full post...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Christine Crane: Paint like you are playing Nintendo

There are paintings that make you smile, such as Christine Crane's. The childish strokes, drips and fileds of colours create the perfect combination of playfulness and vibrancy. Graduated in 2008 with a fine art degree, the young Canadian artist has certainly got a unique style that's resting half way in between street art and illustration, with cartoon-ish characters and animation-like background, Crane brings us a fun world pulled straight out of Nintendo games. Check out her portfolio on ArtDoxa and start throwing your paintbrushes around to match the wonky looking rabbits and pandas.

For more up and coming artists from the other side of the pond nearer to the polar bears, check out Escape into Life, where Crane was spotted.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Full post...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Alain Delorme: Super Totems In Shanghai


With her booming economy and authoritative political system, China often finds herself in the spotlight of Western scruntiny and controversy. Recently Morrissey commented that the way Chinese treat animals must make them a "subspecies". Does that make the Germans a subspecies too? Surely they killed more Jews than cats and dogs, and not for food either? Enough said.

Not only do the Chinese make their cultural heritage subject of art works, (Ai Weiwei has certainly paved the way for Western recognition of Chinese contemporary art), many Western artists also find China at the centre of their inspiration, notably British photographer Jasper James, and lately, French photographer Alain Delorme.

During the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, Delorme wondered around the city away from the modern skyscrapers and the clean streets and deep into the suburbs surrounding the developed central, capturing the daily movements of the "floating population" - the Chinese migrant workers, as they shift cargoes of goods, recycling materials, chairs and bottles in and out of the city to make a living. At first glance these images are half real half surreal, with carefully compositioned and horizontal layers. Delrome cuts out the city in the manner of an archaeologist. Various subjects spread out in a regular way between the ever-changing urban temporalities: the daily newspaper, the ceaseless movement of the passers by, the building sites and the new buildings, which all falls under a slow rhythm. Behind the balance of these compositions, Delorme breaks the rules of the documentary kind, playing with the assembly and the color to present a kind of “hyper reality” which highlights the paradoxes of the most dynamic city of China. 

In these photographs Delorme also captures the individuality of the workers, whereas the common depiction of the Chinese work force has largely been a faceless mass.The author urges us to see the workers as they contribute to the growing consumerism in which they do not benefit from themselves. Alain Delorme reactualizes the documentary proposal here which is based on the contrast between the form and of the representation, with the bright advertising colours, and the subjects of his depiction to underline this variation. These men become the superheroes of the new world whose force seems multiplied by ten. They are believed capable of all the prowesses, maintaining balance of their random and strange burdens with dexterity. Layers upon layers, thousand-year-old China côtoie contemporary industrial power is matched by the ordinary worker's totems. The race is not only among the men in the city, but also that of the city towards its future.

AlainDelorme Totem 2 600x409 Totems by Alain Delorme

Delrome's latest exhibition's in Paris featuring the series of Totems at the Magda Gallery until the 25th of September.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Full post...

Monday, 13 September 2010

Green Avatar: graphic design by Tatiana Kazakova

Russian graphic designer Tatiana Kazakova has mixed fishes, birds, whales, mystical trees and flowers in wonderful inky green and pale pink.  In her latest works which seem to have taken inspirations from traditional Japanese watercolour paintings and techniques, with great details and subtlety, she's created a magical land where fishes and birds float in between flower clouds and whirls of tree branches. Kazakova has also made an animation video which is short but sweet, (again, look out for the triangles!) 

((())) from tk_tk on Vimeo.

Don't get her confused with a Russian mayor and a dancer if you search for her work on the Internet, more of her stuff can be found here and on Behance network. Some of her futuristic style graphic designs have also been  spotted on mymodernmet. Think of music by the Knife, these images would go well in an electro concert in animation under some laser lights.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Full post...