Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mike Patton mentioned on All My Children. WEIRD.

We spent Halloween afternoon at the Old Dutch Burying Ground in Sleepy Hollow, New York. (10 goth points and 50 dork points for taking photos with Washington Irving's tomb!)

Tonight is the Flavorpill party, and tomorrow is The Knife at Webster Hall, followed by The Horrors, Office and (we just learned) Peter Hook DJing at the NME showcase. We also caught Absolute Wilson (see Monday's post,) which is wonderful. I doubt it will hit Detroit screens, but do look for it on HBO and on video when it comes out.

Saturday's party was a bit of a bust due to fire marshall complications. It's a long, very New York story, but we still had a good time, and I hope Brooklyn Sugar can get the politics sorted out, because its a great venue.

Friday, October 27, 2006

We're off to NYC for the week!

Ms. Toybreaker and I will be playing records and judging costumes Saturday [tonight] at the PHONO Halloween Ball.

We're still searching for a couch to crash on for a couple of the days, so please hit me up on the e-mail. We're quiet, don't take up much space, and will buy you dinner. :)

For those in Detroit this Halloween, we highly reccomend the Sass party on Saturday, and the Take Back The Night party on Tuesday. Both at OSLO, which by the way, was awarded the title Best Dance Club by the Metro Times staff and Best Sushi and Best Electronic Music Venue in the readers poll. Congrats!

And one more thing: more photos from the MOCAD opening.

Nice Job.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Curbed points out that it is Lord Norman Foster a.k.a. Baron Foster of Thames Bank, no longer simply Sir Norman Foster. (The architect was knighted in 1990 and appointed to the House of Lords in 1999.)

I did know the Lord part, but did not realize that he literally rules over the bank of the Thames. That's hot. I wish we had a queen to give out cool titles.

Not sure if this has anything to do with being boss of the river side, but I also recently learned that it costs developers extra to say "designed by Norman Foster" rather than Foster and Partners, his multinational practice. For reals. If a developer is going to cash in from using your name and face, you should probably get a cut. It's good to be the Baron.

The Dia Foundation has scrapped plans to move its primary gallery space to the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing District. When it was determined that rennovating the institution's former Chelsea home on 34th Street was not practical, the Gansevoort site - which would anchor the southern end of the High Line - became the leading contendor.

Dia's board chairwoman Nathalie de Gunzburg said in a letter to New York's cultural affairs commissioner, "Dia's board has decided that the organization should take a different course at this time."

Former Dia director Michael Govan first conceived the High Line being anchored by a cultural institution - an idea which the city of New York still seems keen on, and another high-profile art museum may be eyeing the site. A spokesperson for The Whitney Museum of American Art stated, "We are considering several sites for additional space and have had discussions with the city about the Gansevoort/Washington site."

This raises questions about the future of Renzo Piano's expansion design for the Whitney's home on the Upper East Side. It wouldn't be the first time for the Whitney, who have called-off expansion plans by Michael Graves in 1985 and Rem Koolhaas in 2003.

More at the NY Times.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Here's a prototype map of Detroit Area Art Galleries and Museums.

My working definition of Art Gallery or Art Museum is "a public space for collecting and exhibiting objects having artistic value". I realize the inherent flaws in attempting to define "art spaces," but I had to start somewhere. BTW, there is a companion map for music/performance spaces, bars/restaurants, and historical sites. I'll post a link when they are ready.

This is definitely a work in progress, so please comment if you see any errors or omissions.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Word is that Barry McGee is currently painting a mural on the face of the MOCAD right now.

Remember the opening party is this Thursday night!

By Popular Demand:
On Saturday, October 28, 2006, curator Hugh Timlin will be on hand to conduct personal tours of his acclaimed exhibition "Shelter" at the
Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID).
Tours begin at 1 PM and end at 4 PM.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Absolute Wilson chronicles the epic life, times and creative genius of Robert Wilson, intimately revealing for the first time one of the most controversial, rule-breaking and downright mysterious artists of our era. More than a biography, the film becomes an exhilarating exploration of the transformative power of creativity itself - and the inspirational tale of a boy who grew up as a troubled and learning-disabled outsider in the American South only to become a fearless artist with a profoundly original perspective to share with the world. The probing yet playful narrative reveals the deep inter-connections between Wilson's childhood experiences and the haunting beauty of his monumental works, which include the theatrical sensations "Deafman Glance," "Einstein on the Beach" and "The CIVIL WarS." Along the way, the film introduces an array of admirers, friends and critics - ranging from musician David Byrne to the late writer Susan Sontag to composer Phillip Glass and singer Jessye Norman, among others - who add insight as the film peels back layer after layer to get to a raw, forthcoming and uniquely moving view of how Wilson's work emerged from an extraordinary life and a ceaseless yearning to communicate.

The documentary opens Friday at the Quad and at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, as the NY Times points out, "just steps, as it happens, from the Metropolitan Opera, the scene of Mr. Wilson's triumphant Einstein on the Beach, the mammoth opera created in 1976 with Philip Glass."

An accompanying book with extended commentary and 400 color illustrations and photographs was recently released by Prestel Publishing.

Aside from being a Robert Wilson fan, I'm very excited about a film that promises to delve into the motivations and creative process of one of the 20th century's greatest artists.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dorkwave captain Mark Lazar just called me with breaking news:

Due to unforseen incidents at Oslo, Hook & Sling will no longer be taking place there.

However, Dorkwave will be teaming up with CPM tonight for two floors of fun at Corktown Tavern. Hook & Sling will be funkin it up on the upstairs, and Team Dorkwave will be not funking it up downstairs.

It's still free and it's still totally nutritious. Only a bit more soulful.

Friday, October 20, 2006

DORKWAVE is throwing an impromptu World Series Party at Corktown Tavern this Saturday night. Come watch the Tigers smear St. Louis, and dance to the best electro, new-wave and 313-pop!

7pm | FREE as always

This is more of a casual get-together (read: it won't go all night like usual,) so head on over to Hook & Sling at Oslo afterwards.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Realizing that Dethlab has two absurdly high profile events in New York coming up fast, I've been on a bit of new music buying blitz today. (We've been too occupied with making teh art the past couple months to keep on top of new releases. Bad Dethlab! Spank.)

Firstly, I finally got around to downloading Ghostly's two hottest new releases of the month: Christopher Willt's highly acclaimed Surf Boundaries and Sami Koivikko's Paajaasa [there are many many many umlauts in there, but Blogger does not deal well with umlauts.] I was going to try and write a review here about Chris' record, but I honestly need to spend more time with it first. This is the kind of LP that deserves several focused listens. Bissonnette and I did preview it the other day, and were pretty floored with how far Willits has fleshed out his work. It's a creeper, and I think it's the rare kind of record that will unfold and become more and more satisfying with every listen. I can confidently say that Sami Koivikko's new EP is the frackin' bomb. I liked his work on on T. Raumschmiere's Shitkatapult label, but Koivikko has clearly matured toward music that can be best described as porn soundtracks for steam-powered robots. Minimal compositions work best with a maximal palette of sounds, and Koivikko has nailed it here.

I also downloaded a handful of spankin' new singles, including Extrawelt's Titelheld (FSK 18), Extrawelt's remix of Alexander Kowalski's Start Chasing, Kiko's remix of Kowalski's House of Hell, and the brand new MOTOR single 1x1 featuring Nitzer Ebb's Douglas McCarthy on vocals.

Just released this week is Agoria's second LP The Green Armchair on Different Recordings. I've only gotten through it once, and it walks (maybe not always successfully) the fine line between brilliant and cheesy. I for one will always choose cheesy over boring. Guest vocalists ranging from Peter Murphy to Neneh Cherry might imply a high cheese factor, but it comes off well - reminiscent of Death in Vegas at times - and Murphy delivers some of his best vocal work in years. Agoria once again proves that the French do not care about what is happening in New York, Berlin, or Detroit, and will always kick our asses on the dancefloor.

For Theakston: Battle Of The Bands

[via Wurzeltod]

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ass Falcon is one of this city's most exciting and strangest new gallery nights. The Bi-Monthy event features new undiscovered, unpublished, and uncompromising young artists in and around the creative midfield of Detroit, and provides them with both wallspace and a soapbox.

It happens every first and third Wednesday of every month at Detroit's infamous Oslo. Tonight the event features the work of Jeffery Thomas and Joe Jagos, while Imperial Empire provides the sound track.

Honestly, I'm going to this based on it's name alone.
(as I'm a fan of both donkeys and large birds of prey)

Ass Falacon's myspace


Colour like no other: the new Sony BRAVIA "exploding building paint advert" has just been released.

Splashy! (and much different in tone than the "bouncing balls advert".)

I like the clown, but it's kinda freaking me out too...

The Adventures of Michael Bierut on the Wheels of Steel

"The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum holds parties in their beautiful garden on Friday nights during the summer, each one of which features a guest DJ. I was talking to someone there and suggested - half jokingly - that I thought I would make a good guest DJ since I had what was, to my knowledge, the best collection of rap and dance 12 inch records of any middle-aged white guy in Sleepy Hollow, New York."

To his surprise, The Cooper-Hewitt took The Design Observer up on the offer. Michael will be DJing the afterparty for the National Design Awards tonight. Read more.

Monday, October 16, 2006

More on Blade Runner, Cyberpunk and the influence of Heavy Metal and Moebius

I had heard William Gibson speak about his initial distraught over Blade Runner beating him to the punch before, but digging around today I found this great quote - from the same interview as the earlier post:

"About ten minutes into Blade Runner, I reeled out of the theater in complete despair over its visual brilliance and its similarity to the "look" of Neuromancer, my [then] largely unwritten first novel. Not only had I been beaten to the semiotic punch, but this damned movie looked better than the images in my head! With time, as I got over that, I started to take a certain delight in the way the film began to affect the way the world looked. Club fashions, at first, then rock videos, finally even architecture. Amazing! A science fiction movie affecting reality!"

Well [now we can say] of course. Cyberpunk was and continues to be an extraordinary type of genre which transcends art, music, fashion, cinema and literature because it is relevant as long as technology moves faster than humans can cope with. The notion of a dystopian society can become a tiring old subject at times, but our political and corporate leaders manage to find new depths which would have seemed cartoonish in the 1970s. The general derth of imagination in Cyberpunk-influenced music, film and style after the mid-90s shouldn't detract from the fact that these concepts are fundamentally still quite valid and fertile. The hugely popular and hugely derivative Matrix trilogy pops to mind as an example of both the genres' relevance and often unfortunate staleness of execution.

There are plenty of artists approaching these ideas from fresh perspectives however. One such pair of artists, ADULT. have been dealing with the more intimate, psychological effects of a technology-driven society for the past eight years, and architects such as Lebbeus Woods have taken Cyberpunk concepts into uncharted socio-political realms of design that have influenced the design of genre-defining films, bringing things oddly full-circle.

One stand-out of the late 1990s was Luc Besson's The Fifth Element. If the film seemed to be a near literal translation of Moebius' The Long Tomorrow and his work for Heavy Metal Magazine, it is because Moebius himself was engaged as a design consultant for the film. Loosely based on Harry Canyon from the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal, The Fifth Element brought the French quirkiness and sense of humor to life, sometimes lost in the American derivations.

Two Americans who have no deficit when it comes to humor, ADULT. will be wrapping up their current tour at Detroit's Magic Stick this Friday. Don't expect any cliches about replicants, but if you're in the mood for "that quintessentially postmodern cocktail of ecstasy and dread," you're looking in the right place.

Banksy rip-off Detroit Tiger shirt

Jack Savas of Ann Arbor based Agui Vintage Clothing has apparently been blatantly ripping off Banksy and selling boatloads of t-shirts to baseball fans. If stealing an iconic image from a high-profile contemporary artist wasn't enough, the context of the image has been bastardized and prostituted in all the wrong ways, plus the hapless local press praises the "edgy, artsy look."

When Savas was questioned by another reader via e-mail about the image, the reply was, "We did not steal anything we got Banksy's permission from his blog to re-draw his original street art. He is happy to have his artwork in the marketplace."

Savas was then asked, "Even if that is the case, you don't give him credit. How is that fair?"

There were no further replies.

If someone can direct me to Banksy's mysterious blog, I'd love to read this part.

Only two words come to mind: douche bag.

[big kudos to Datawhat for being so eagle-eyed]

p.s. This story was also published for the 10,000 or so daily readers of Core77 (respectfully sans the term "douche bag.")

Moebius Futurism

click here for big

The Long Tomorrow was a comic book written by Dan O'Bannon (who went on to write Alien) and illustrated by Jean Giraud a.k.a. Moebius around 1975-1976. It's noir style and particularly the super-dense, retro-futurist visual language influenced not only Ridley Scott's Blade Runner but the entire Cyberpunk genre.

"Years later, I was having lunch with Ridley, and when the conversation turned to inspiration, we were both very clear about our debt to the Metal Hurlant [the original Heavy Metal magazine] school of the '70s-Moebius and the others. But it was also obvious that Scott understood the importance of information density to perceptual overload. When Blade Runner works best, it induces a lyrical sort of information sickness, that quintessentially postmodern cocktail of ecstasy and dread. It was what cyberpunk was supposed to be all about."
-William Gibson

[title link lifted from Geoff via Archinect]

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bethany and I are going to be in the New York area the whole week of Halloween.

Saturday, Oct. 28th we've been invited to judge costumes at the Phono Halloween Ball featuring Basteroid, Plastique de Reve, "the Sid Vicious of Techno" Cowboy Mark and whole bunch more. Dethlab will be playing records in the v.i.p. room all evening, and the Sun Ra Arkestra will be performing upstairs! Brooklyn Sugar is a new 7,000 sq. ft. venue in the former Williamsburg Domino Sugar refinery. (Some pics of the space here.)

Tuesday, Oct. 31st is the 33rd Annual Village Halloween Parade, and Wednesday [as previously mentioned] is The Knife at Webster Hall and the NME Showcase featuring The Horrors and Office.

Between shows, museums and gastronomic indulgences with dear friends, we're going to try and catch some fall color in the Catskills, visit the family in CT, and stop down to Philadelphia to see the mirrored dancefloor at Mike Trombley's Paradise night.

We'd love to see all our friends in the megalopolis, so hit us up on the internets!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Horrors are coming to America and playing a flurry of shows in and around the New York megalopolis (+ 1 show in LA) the week of Halloween... appropriately.

The list here is from a number of sources - none of whom have a complete schedule, so it may be in a state of flux:
October 28 - New York, NY - Don Hills (Misshapes)
October 29 - Hartford, CT - Sweet Jane's
November 1 - New York, NY - BB King's
November 2 - New York, NY - The Annex (Stolen Transmission party)
November 3 - Brooklyn, NY - Product Shop
November 4 - Boston, MA - Great Scott
November 5 - Washington, DC - Rock N Roll Hotel
November 7 - Los Angeles, CA - Safari Sam's

The November 1st show is reportedly a NME showcase (also featuring our good friends Office.) We're going to see The Knife that evening, but will try our best to hit both. The prospect of seeing two very different bands, but both potentially positioned to give Top 40 radio the enema it so desperately needs in one evening is an exciting one.

We may hit the Hartford show on the 29th too. Keeping it real in CT!

Star: roller skates and distortion pedals.

Today is the 100th Friday the 13th to fall in October since 10.13.1307, the day historians propose as the origin of "Black Friday", when King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest and torture of hundred of Knights Templars. Phobia of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia. It is estimated that in the United States alone, $800 or $900 million is lost in business each Friday the 13th because people will not fly or do business they would normally do.

We're throwing a party!

800beloved (live, Detroit)
Dethlab (Deth, FX & 666, Detroit)
Star (live, Chicago)
Rental (live + multimedia, Detroit)

Friday 10.13.06 | doors 9pm | 21+
Lager House: 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit

Read an interview with 800beloved mastermind Sean Lynch in this week's Real Detroit Weekly.

This Friday the 13th will bring forth an imaginative showcase. Firstly, Lynch will offer cosmetics to 13 willing dancers to show "What they'll look like at their funerals." Second, he plans to dress the stage as a Victorian-style arcade with an archway that makes the stage appear to be outside.

Their daring is not only admirable, it's refreshing - amplifying what a band's capable of doing with one night. "We wanted to play into the idea of barring the idea of a typical rock 'n' roll show," Lynch said. "Saying you're in a band isn't what it was like 20 years ago. Who isn't in a band?"

For those thinking the name rings a bell, Sean is indeed the son of celebrated poet and essayist Thomas Lynch who's book The Undertaking inspired the hit HBO show Six Feet Under, and has passed along more than just a talent for burying loved ones.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pictoplasma Berlin!

Going to Pictoplasma here in Berlin yesterday was so inspiring. I went on what they call the Character Walk. 30+ exhibitions, installations, and presentations of character based art are now up all around the city. Photos are up on Flickr now.
My photos aren't that great but they are fun!

A highlight being the work of Moki. Her exhibition transformed a Berlin flat into the flat of her characters, complete with humans in the washer and character pelts drying. Dishes, rocks, leaves adorn the walls with some of the best drawings and stuffed plush characters seen to date. Elegant and whimsical creatures filled the whole space. She even has two of them walking around and at one point I was captured and tied up. Highly recommended to keep an eye out for her.

Also, Friends With You transformed 103 into a romper room with massive inflatable balls that people bounced around on! Perhaps the most hazardous fun thing perhaps ever seen in a club. At one point, the lighting rig almost fell and a projector was dangling by a cord!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This week's Metro Times cover story is an in-depth piece on the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

Don't miss the opening party on October 26th, and take part in the arrows campaign.

You can't help but to love Gawker with headlines like "Breaking: Rich People Live on Upper East Side"

I spent all of three minutes browsing the link to www.socialiterank.com and feel not only consfused and somewhat dirty, but as if I had wasted hours. Gawker Stalker is more our speed. Tim Robbins is tall. Matthew Broderick rides the subway. These are important facts! (And we love it.)

For an antidote to art that you "know damn well is boring" [Doyle, 2006 - nice rant, BTW] check out Scott Hocking's new show at Susanne Hilberry Gallery in Ferndale. He's crafted a deft satire of crappy public art projects like this. In his show, Scott asked other artists to paint animals which have been mutilated or tortured in a fashion typical for their species. It's animal cruelty at it's goofiest.

The show closes November 25, 2006.

Here's some photos, I'll add artist credits soon.

I posted my last little Pitchfork-inspired rant on a local techno message board. It got some very thoughtful replies and caused a bit of fuss - which I had kinda hoped for. I essentially want people to think more about music and think about art, think about why they do what they do and what its impact is going to be on history. The original piece was not so much about trend-watching and scenes as much as it was about my beliefs on what makes good art in any medium, and a challenge to deliver "the whole package." Below is my latest reply (to one of our most beloved Burnlab editors actually) for those who care:

Maybe yes. I don't think of it that way. I like work that is both catchy and arty. If someone can say something new and interesting, and craft it into a form that is appealing, there's not only a great skill to that in itself, but a level of subversion I really like. "Here's this poppy song, but if you listen carefully, there's a lot going on that has depth and might actually be something you're not comfortable with." I think Neubauten, 25 years on, gets better with every release. Their early work had a lot of concept, but was almost totally unlistenable. They're as conceptual as ever, but have also learned how to write great songs. I have great respect for Merzbow, but really how often can you listen to it? Who listens to John Cage every day for that matter? I use Vitalic as one example of a contemporary techno artist who is delivering a whole package: something with depth and wit, but also so immediately catchy that your grandmother might bob her head (or pump her fist) to it.

Like I said in the closing, "Art fails if it does not communicate on its own. If music becomes boring the minute the drugs wear off, it doesn't necessarily mean it is bad, but it is half-baked." I don't think people should have to work so hard to appreciate art or music, but I do think the work itself should deliver something special for those who do take the time to dig deeper. The problem I have with music or art which is boring on the surface, is that 1) the artist is not doing their job very well, and 2) people who are into it are either getting some sense of superiority or sick masochistic satisfaction by subjecting themselves to something they know damn well is boring.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mahogany's much anticipated second album Connectivity! has begun shipping, and is set for an official release on October 30th. Critics are falling over themselves to praise it, and rightfully so methinks.

Watch the video for Supervitesse, and the brand-spankin' new video for Neo-Plastic Boogie-Woogie.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I've been looking forward to this week for so long, it's almost hard to believe it is finally upon us. This Friday the 13th is the release date for the 13th and final episode of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events: the miserable tales of three wretched orphans, from the piquant pen of Mr. Snicket and marvelously illustrated by one Brett Helquist.

Coinciding with the book's release, Stephin Merritt has assembled an album of 13 songs and two bonus tracks under the project name The Gothic Archies. The Tragic Treasury will be released this Tuesday. The album features music Merritt originally recorded for the 13 Series of Unfortunate Events audio books. The first Gothic Archies album since 1997's The New Despair, Tragic Treasury will feature Snicket himself accompanying on accordion. (Snicket, sometimes known as Daniel Handler, has recorded and performed with Merritt's better known music project - The Magnetic Fields.)

Read a conversation between Merritt and Snicket recently published in the Guardian, and go to Nonesuch Records for audio samples and video clips.

Snicket will be reading from his miserable book and performing live with the Gothic Archies at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in NYC at 4pm on Friday the 13th, and at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor on Halloween at 5:30pm. More at Olaf's event page.

Curbed checks in on the High Line's progress. The beloved elevated freight-line cum high-concept urban park was one of over 180 featured sites in this past weekend's Open House New York: the annual event which allows New Yorkers a behind-the-scenes look into some of the city's most fascinating buildings, tunnels and systems.

If any of our readers or editors took part in OHNY, please share your tales and pictures!

Show Me Evil: this Friday the 13th

Just what you need to get into the holiday spirit, 800beloved presents an evening of dark-ass-bats and sugary-pop-bliss. Careful attention to decor and theatrics (including a cast of zombie dancers... for real) and an eclectic line-up will make this a Friday the 13th to remember.

800beloved new-wave/post-punk/shoe-gaze (live, Detroit)
Dethlab electro/industrial/post-punk (Deth, FX & 666, Detroit)
Star shoe-gaze/pop/rock (live, Chicago)
Rental electro/punk/experimental (live + multimedia, Detroit)

Friday 10.13.06 | 9pm | 21+
Lager House: 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit

Afterwards head down the street to The Works for the Family ten-year anniversary party, featuring Derek Plaslaiko, Mike Sevito, Carlos Souffront and more. (Family will be going late...)

And then on Saturday, October 28th Dethlab will be playing and judging costumes at the Phono Halloween Party at the old Domino Sugar plant in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Also performing are Plastique de Reve, Basteroid, Cowboy Mark and more! Additional info in the coming days.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

More from the Airmchair on "epic" electronica...
Coincidentally I was listening to Tangerine Dream's 40 min "Rubycon, Part 1 & Part 2" when I read this and was really enjoying it :) On the flip side recent albums like BT's musically long winded solo effort "This Binary Universe" seem to smack of self indulgence. (As an aside to it's credit he wrote it entirely in C-Sound, and as in fact a full A/V DVD release, with some great visual work by Scott Pagano )

I think this phenomenon is definately not confined to electronic music, nor is it unprecedented in electronic music, but is a "format" that requires significant musical dexterity to pull off successfully, and can either fail or succeed. I'm not wishing for the Joe Santriani of electronic music to emerge, but if a track succeeds in this format it's length is far less concerning.

In reference to the Pitchfork article I draw an another conclusion from the article the the author seemed to ommit. The ability for musicians to shorten the feedback process from performance to studio (via digital DJ'ing or laptop performance) is a positive indication that electronic musicians are finally beginning to enjoy the ease of flexibility in music writing that live musicians have always enjoyed. A rock band goes on tour and has the ability to hone, refine and compose their set live before having to lay it all down in the studio. The ability for (formerly studio based) electronic musicians to do the same simply means better applied ingenuity, and ideally, better music.

If you haven't seen me on myspace in awhile it's becuase I'm too busy customizing my avatar. Go get a (second) life at Second Life, the Snowcrash inspired attempt at a real deal cyberspace! Above are just some nicely composed screenshots, flicker-blogged by a another resident.

(BTW This is a GREAT platform for any of you machinima makers out there!)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Observations and Red Flags From the Armchair Music Critic

Last week I wrote a mini-essay (er, stream-of-conscious rant) inspired in part by Philip Sherburne's Pitchfork feature on the trend toward 10+ minute techno tracks. Sherburne wrote an in-depth follow-up earlier this week, further explaining his theories about the trend. I agree with most of his observations and enjoy much of the music cited. However, the follow-up article brought to the surface issues I had feared for some time as deeper underlying trends. While smartly discounting popular associations, Sherburne states, "At its heart, this is trance music - trance-inducing in its purest sense." I think everyone who has any investment in techno music pretty much loathes the bastard branch labeled "trance", and the shiny-shirt wearing goons and fake-baked skanks who eat it up. We're not talking about that. We're talking about fundamental theories. I think the observation is absolutely correct, but take issue here with the basic notion of music which can only be appreciated in an altered state of consciousness - be it a self or environmental-induced sort of hypnosis, or (more commonly) with the assistance of controlled substances. In such a state, water dripping from a faucet can be a trance-inducing, fascinating experience. For our Catholic readers, doing repetitive rosary prayers can have the same effect. For those with their wits about them, music at this level is intolerable at best, and as maddening as rosary prayers are to a hyperactive child. We've been watching artists and critics begin to back-pedal from their anti-trance positions over the past year or so. Trance, I don't think is the biggest issue with techno right now though.

Techno as a genre is coming of age, like rock music did in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This era brought great advancements through experimentation with both technology and theory. The Beatles, Cream, and acts such as the MC5 revolutionized rock music during this time. At the same time though, the idea of progressive rock was emerging. Prog rock rejected the notions of pop, emphasized virtuosity of musicians and catered to a very specialized type of listener. In other words, it was musicians masturbating for each other, usually with epic length songs. The best thing that came from the prog rock era was the severe backlash, which contributed to the creation of both punk and disco: perhaps the two most significant musical movements to come about in our lifetimes. Techno is at a turning point, and must evolve to fully mature. Watching some of the tendencies of prog rock seep into techno, I ask the artists, do you want to be The Stooges, or do you want to be Jethro Tull? (This is obviously over-simplified to make a point.) Not at all to suggest there is no room for experimentation and high brow art within music - these are critical and essential elements, but there is a danger of being so self-referential that the music becomes irrelevant to anyone outside the inner sanctum.

Much of this current discussion is centered around one myopic scene - ignoring very different trends in other parts of the world and even within Berlin, but its influence is so far reaching that it becomes an issue for the entire genre. One can look back as recently as Fischerspooner's last LP to see how trying to be deep comes off far less fulfilling than trying to make great pop music. There were some very good songs on Odyssey, but as a whole it just felt like a desperate attempt to be taken seriously. There is a great misconception that serious art must be punishingly boring and difficult to appreciate. Those who support it will always revert to, "you just don't get it." That is simply a shield for an inability or unwillingness to make something that is interesting on multiple levels. Much of the greatest music of the past 35 years is not only innovative from an artistic standpoint, but is crafted in manner that immediately connects with people. Art fails if it does not communicate on its own. If music becomes boring the minute the drugs wear off, it doesn't necessarily mean it is bad, but it is half-baked.

The various parts of Damon Albarns Gorillaz is such a great example of an artist using his oodles of money to reinvent and explore all avenues rather than regurgitating the same crap like so many artists (music and otherwise) do...

To start representing Frankfurt:
This Wednesday, Matthew Herbert Big Band in Mannheim as part of ENJOY JAZZ, a festival including such diverse acts as Hanne Hukkelberg, Guru, Archie Shepp, John Zorn, Koop, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Mocky, and Nouvelle Vague. (Maybe Frankfurt isnt that bad after all)

Friday, October 06, 2006

The surreal photo-illustrations of Giacomo Costa bring Lebbeus Woods to mind, but with a visual poetry reminiscent of Calvino's Venice.

[thanks Mason White]

Also in Barcelona...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This Sunday (Oct. 8)
Sala Apolo | c/ Nou de la Rambla, 113

Great night of music and visuals-

jahbitat awesome audio/visual duo.
daedelus with tohyto on visuals.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

backspace is a new video podcast that will showcase a series of experimental short films.

float is the first episode.

[via wooster collective]

Thanks for the Arthur Russell tip.
Definitely something to look forward to.


October 2006
- various locations in Gracia, Barcelona

LEM experimental music festival celebrates it's 10th anniversary

barbara morgenstern
mika vainio
-and many more...

full prog.

It's the first Friday of the month, which means tonight is VAULT at Oslo in Detroit. Ryan Elliott is joined by special guest Tim Xavier. Check out the wealth of mixes and live recording on Tim's site.

Spectral Sound presents VAULT
Oslo: 1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit
10pm | 18+ | $5

In NYC tonight, it's Art After Dark at the Guggenheim Museum. Tonight's very special musical artists are Ratatat and Julian S. Process a.k.a. Pink Skull.

Art After Dark
Guggenheim Museum: 1071 5th Ave., NYC
9pm | $20/free for members
more info at Flavorpill

The album that soundtracked my summer and is threatening to do the same to my fall is Steel Dan´s 1977 classic Aja. An amazing mix of jazz, funk, disco, latin, etc, featuring the talents of jazz giants Wayne Shorter, Bernard Purdie, Chuck Rainey...as the review on Amazon puts it "Aja is a modern pop classic and the coolest fusion record no one ever thought to lump in that category." What a cover as well...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The Arthur Russell Documentary is in the works, with a scheduled completion date of late 2007. But, i want it now!!! I wanna GO BANG...

One of my favorite photographers, Eugenio Recuenco has updated his site.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Yet another good reason to skip work this week

A slightly belated thank you to Lowfish for playing one of the best live sets I've ever heard, and to all our friends for coming out to the Sex & Sedition Anniversary Party last Friday at Oslo. (Extra thanks to Sean Whaley for introducing us to some killer new music, to team Adult. for their hospitality afterwards, and to Otto Von Schirach for all the kind words, such as "next thing.") Official pics here and some candid pics here.

In other news, most of the sets form this year's Movement Festival have been archived at DEMF dot com. Dethlab's anti-mix here and Kill Memory Crash's amazing live set here. [RAM format]

+ Addendum to this morning's post: Eames Demetrios came by the studio this afternoon. Among more earthly things, we discussed the Kymaerica project and process, tea, croquet, and other alternate realities. A major design nerd treat!!

Two exciting events in Detroit tonight:

Author, filmmaker and multi-media artist Eames Demetrios will be presenting his grandparents' films at DWR Birmingham.

Eames Film Festival
Wednesday, October 4 | 6-8pm
Design Within Reach
168 West Maple Road, Birmingham, MI 48009
Phone: 248.593.9640

The legacy of Ray and Charles Eames extends far beyond their classic furniture pieces. Taking a multidisciplinary approach to design long before that was the norm, the Eameses created over 100 short films between 1950 and 1982. Join DWR, in conjunction with the Eames Foundation and Herman Miller for the Home, as we celebrate their film legacy. Our film festival includes a screening of seven films and a presentation from Eames Demetrios, grandson of Charles Eames, director of the Eames Office and author of An Eames Primer. Refreshments will be served.

(According the DWR site attendees were supposed to RSVP by Monday, so you might want to call ahead.)

Then afterwards...

The Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit presents:
MoHa! live (Oslo, Norway)
Thinkbox live (Canada/USA)*
Paris '68 Djs (Detroit)
*Thinkbox will be represented by Christopher Bissonnette and Chris McNamara

Wednesday, October 4th | 9pm | $5
CAID: 5141 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit MI

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

In what can only be described as a stroke of co-marketing genius, Ghostly International has announced a partnership with entrepreneur, curator and purveyor of exquisite design Murray Moss to release an exclusive Ghostly compilation packaged as a digital memory device. The device will be emblazoned with the logos of both brands and will feature 14 tracks from across the Ghostly International roster. Brilliant! This will surely set the standard for other discriminating labels to follow. Watch the Moss website for details.

After 5 years of toil and sweat, Cafe 1923 FINALLY opened on Sunday and it looks awesome!

It's on Holbrook just east of American Axle, across the street from the Kowalski factory.

Check out some pics here until they get a proper website.