(Matt wearing "Aw Shoot" tie by Cyberoptix)
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
This Wednesday will be the grand opening of COMMUNIQUE, a brand new gallery and performance space on Michigan Avenue in Detroit. Co-operated by Detronik and Quiet Down Press, the space will focus on new media and experimental digital arts.
For the grand opening, they have put together a 12 hour Halloween party (7PM-7AM) with a broad range of DJs and live performances.
Wednesday October 31st 2007, 7PM-7AM
2015 Michigan Ave., Detroit
Tickets available at Slow's BBQ 2138 Michigan Ave, Detroit
Pre-sale $10 / $15 at the door / $35 without a costume
Beverages provided by Black Lotus Brewing Co, Clawson MI
Complimentary bagels & coffee at 6:30AM
Set times TBA (but Dethlab will be playing just before Goudron around 10PM probably.)
More info at Quiet Down Press
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/29/2007 11:34:00 PM
If there's one Halloween party to go to in New York this year, it's the Ghostly + DFA Halloween Bash this Wednesday at Studio B.
Two of our favorite labels get together for the first time to put some mid-week party in your life!
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/29/2007 12:54:00 AM
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Just about all of Detroit came out for Mike Servito's going away party at Northern Lights Lounge last night. It was a very impressive mid-week turnout for a city that's been awfully sleepy the past year or so and a clear sign of how much Mike is loved and will be missed.
There's one more chance to catch Swervo before he ships off to NYC next week: at the always excellent Interdimensional Transmissions Annual Samhain Party this Saturday at the Bohemian National Home.
Mike will be playing along with Carlos Souffront, Patrick Russell and BMG until the wee hours. Decor by Infinite Dimensions (with some help from Team Burnlab.)
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/25/2007 10:42:00 AM
For this edition of our regularly irregular food column, we'd like to present Burnlab's signature 3AM hash recipe. Take Burnlab Hash with two Advil and two multi-vitamins to cure your ills... and it's vegetarian to boot!
After being out much too late on a school night, you're starving and need some good solid food before going to bed. Food really helps with the hangover. Don't be lazy and go to White Castle. Cook. You'll thank yourself in the morning.
First off, boil up some red skin fingerling potatoes (or whatever potatoes you have handy.) Chop them up and put them in a skillet with some butter, one tablespoon of chopped artichoke hearts, two tablespoons of aoli, plus some gorgonzola cheese, fresh green onions and rosemary from the garden. Simmer for about five minutes, turning regularly.
Next, poach two eggs in boiling water with balsamic vinegar. Lay the poached eggs over the hash on a plate and top with fresh crushed white pepper and garlic infused hot sauce. (A mimosa is highly recommended with this dish... improvisations such as rum and Orangina will do in a pinch, but we always suggest a high quality vodka and fresh squeezed orange juice.)
If this doesn't put you to rest with sweet dreams and a happy tummy, you're either too wasted to appreciate it or... too wasted to appreciate it. You'll tank us in the morning though.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/25/2007 04:05:00 AM
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Designing responsibly is a necessity. We need to do it and we should want to do it - and if we're really good designers, we do it by instinct. (Remember Gestalt from Design Theory 221?) Unfortunately too much eco design spends a lot of time trying to look eco: be it awkwardly styled alternative fuel cars, cliched use of chip-board textures and Pantone 361, or whiffs of new aginess that seems to be more about self-congratulation than actual solutions. These cliches turn a lot of people off and will cause a backlash simply by their aesthetics.
There are a whole lot of people out there doing responsible design right though, and we like to point them out here whenever we stumble across them. Here are three old favorites:
Tesla Motors builds a purely electric car that gets from 0-60mph in less than four seconds, and looks fantastic doing it.
Good Magazine tackles big issues and presents them in a way that isn't all angsty, hippified or doom-and-gloom. The design is sharp and inviting. The writing is smart and friendly. It makes you think, and makes you feel good about it.
Morphosis (as mentioned last week) has designed some of the largest and most innovative sustainable buildings in the country, while not compromising their brash industrial aesthetic one bit. Thom Mayne seems to take joy in this perceived contradiction. Me too.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/23/2007 09:13:00 AM
Monday, October 22, 2007
Audi's beautiful new R8 advert.
"We wanted to make a film which made the process of constructing an R8 as beautiful as the car itself," explains Richard McGrann [of BBH.] The effect captures the workers' movement through time -- each frame measures a point in time compressed into one shot. Filming took place over eight days in Germany, with each frame requiring a minimum of 20 different shots and four layers to achieve the unique visual effect.
Related: R8 on the Nurburgring
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/22/2007 12:26:00 PM
David Byrne on contemporary art and the new ICA Boston.
Pretty spot on.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/22/2007 11:13:00 AM
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Great video interview with Douglas McCarthy on everything from new Nitzer Ebb to the state of the music industry. [Thanks Dennis Donohue!]
Repost, but also see Fixmer/McCarthy performing Join in the Chant earlier this year in London. Amazing.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/21/2007 02:50:00 PM
Friday, October 19, 2007
The video for Matthew Dear's latest single Don and Sherri was relased today. Co-directed by Judy Wellfare and Jeremy Hollister, we are told that the video layers were not superimposed in post, but created with multiple projection surfaces.
I feel a little dizzy now.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/19/2007 03:28:00 PM
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Cyberoptix Tie Lab feature on Computerluv.
Clicky for details and brand new designs and photos.
Forever's gonna start tonight...
Speaking of Cyberoptix Tie Lab, Bethany just filled a huge order for Jim Steinman - which we're still trying to wrap our heads around. Wowzers.
Steinman is, of course, one of the most prolific songwriters/producers ever, penning massive hits for Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler. He aslo produced several songs for the Sisters of Mercy's seminal LP Floodland.
Two of my favorite Jim Steinman works below:
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/18/2007 11:54:00 PM
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Wow, do I ever love Thom Mayne. Even as an aging architectural iconoclast, he hasn't lost one bit of his punk-rock spirit. He may as well say, "F*uck all you filthy hippies" in this article about a talk he gave on sustainable building, but he does it so much better in his own way:
"It's completely hysterical that I and my firm would be representing this topic," Mayne said during a recent visit to San Francisco. "The green guys, their moralism and do-gooderness - phew. Horrible. There has to be joy in architecture."
Mayne sees himself - whether he'd put it this way or not - as the architectural equivalent of the BMW engineers he mentioned in his talk, perfectionists working toward a zero-emissions sports car. He's not interested in throwing out what he calls 'the culture of architecture, the culmination of 3,000 years' of artistic exploration, for dutiful environmentalism.
Pictured above is the LEED certified and aesthetically uncompromised (or is that 'uncompromising'?) San Francisco Federal Building.
It's great to see one of the most prolific creators of sustainable architecture rip apart the self-congratulatory, granola-munching, new-agey aesthetic being hocked as green design. Sustainable design is simply good design. It's responsible by instinct and doesn't need to constantly remind you how small its carbon footprint is.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/17/2007 01:04:00 PM
First official shots of the 2009 Nissan GT-R
Often called the best muscle-car in the world, the GTR - or "Godzilla" - has never been officially sold in the United States. Previous models were based on the Nissan Skyline (Infiniti G35 in the US,) but the much anticipated 2009 model was designed and built from the ground up with its own dedicated chasis as a world GT car. It will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show next week.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/17/2007 10:34:00 AM
Since Ground Zero came up (something we haven't discussed here in a long time, but unavoidable when talking about New York architecture,) here is this quote to consider:
The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man's dedication to world peace... a representation of man's belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men, and, through cooperation, his ability to find greatness.
- Minoru Yamasaki
It always strikes me how completely off the mark the Sept. 11 hijackers were to target these elegant buildings.
What idiots, really.
The building those psychopathic morons were after hasn't even been built yet.
It's to be built of greed and fear, and in an Orwellian twist, called the Freedom Tower.
Muschamp's successor, Nocolai Ourossoff, wrote in one of his most admirable moments:
If built, the lamentable Freedom Tower would be a constant reminder of our loss of ambition, and our inability to produce an architecture that shows a genuine faith in America's collective future rather than a nostalgia for a nonexistent past.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/17/2007 01:06:00 AM
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I swear this is the last time I'll mention Herbert Muschamp this month.
(Three eulogies is enough, right? Maybe... maybe not.)
Muschamp was the architecture critic for the New York Times well before I began reading the New York Times on a regular basis, so it goes without saying, I just thought that's how it's always been. It did strike me that the Times seemed to be the only mainstream news source that gave design and architecture the same importance as the other arts, and (on occasion) world news. Often his opinions and use of hyperbole drove me nuts, but his points were so well dressed in engaging prose and intriguing metaphors I couldn't wait to read his next piece. His words got me - and millions of other people - excited about architecture. It wasn't always the positive kind of excitement, but I think he was much more interested in getting people to have an opinion about the built world than getting everyone to agree with his own.
It was only after he stepped down form his position in 2004 that I began to realize what a unique kind of writer he was, and only after reading the countless obituaries over the past two weeks did it become clear what an extraordinary person he was. It's evident now that with all his heart he wanted to change our physical world and make the way we live in it better. He dedicated himself to this end through his position as a critic: one that we can presume proved to be far more effective than if he had pursued a career as a practicing architect or a teacher. New York most likely would not have new buildings by Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Thomas Mayne if not for Muschamp extending his position beyond critic to activist and champion for design. He literally changed the face of New York City and how the people of the city think about architecture and urban life.
I often thought he championed certain people too much. (I'm sure I wasn't the only one sick to death of reading about Gregg Lynn by 2002.) One of my other favorite critics, Michael Sorkin went so far as to compile amusing and insightful statistics about Muchamp's favored subjects. Though I don't think that's entirely fair, as he was just as quick to serve up the sharp critique with the praise, almost no matter who it was.
It's interesting to think that people like Ghery, Koolhaas and Hadid are now household names, but were quite obscure in 1992. Actually, how many architects were household names in 1992 vs. today? Muschamp didn't invent the notion of the "starchitect" or singlehandedly rekindle America's appreciation for the built world at the turn of the millennium. But if there were one personality you could point to - a Warhol for the T-square set - Herbert Muschamp would be my candidate.
Yet another of my favorite writers, Mr. Design Observer Michael Bierut on Muschamp:
Herbert Muschamp used to drive me crazy. Like a lot of people I knew, I found his architectural criticism in the New York Times infuriating. Willfully personal, riddled with non-sequiturs, idiosyncratic to the point of surrealism, a new Muschamp piece in the morning culture pages would inevitably have the emails flying by lunchtime: can you believe what he wrote this time? When he stepped down five years ago, many in the architecture and design community expressed relief. Finally, it was hoped, we'd get some responsible design criticism.
And yet nothing would be the same. I remember reading one of the first major pieces by his successor, first slowly and then skimming ahead with mounting anxiety, realizing wait, you mean there's not going to be a Zuzu Pitts reference? For Muschamp had changed the way we think about buildings, and about cities, and about places, by introducing a new focus on the way we feel about them. It was bold, it was liberating, it was fun, and it was irrevocable.
Muschamp's most ambitious project for the New York Times was a proposal unsolicited by the LMDC, "Big Plan for Ground Zero and Beyond". This feature put him in the role of his life: architectural curator - with all of Lower Manhattan as his gallery. Not perfect by any means, but it was an extraordinary exercise and presented some of the most exciting ideas for New York City ever published. [Click on "The Masters' Plan" on the side bar to see and hear the full proposal.]
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/16/2007 08:23:00 PM
Warp Films has been cleaning up on the festival circuit this year. This is England took Best Film at the British Independent Films Awards, and Dog Altogether and Exhibit A have scooped up awards recently.
Warp Films is the moving picture cousin of Warp Records, producing shorts, feature-length films, DVDs and of course music videos. Warp Films' development slate currently includes projects with directors Jarvis Cocker, David Slade (Hard Candy) and Frank Cottrell Boyce (24hour Party People).
The most recent Battles video Tonto was produced in collaboration with technology-focused media and installation artists UnitedVisualArtists.
We created a unique LED installation in a disused Welsh slate mine - an audio synchronised field of light contrasting with the rugged terrain. The video consists of our documentation of the band's marathon 11 hour performance, as well as a series of time lapse pieces from the surrounding geography. The cover artwork for the single is also taken from the shoot, and was art directed by UVA.
Better video quality and high res stills at the UVA website.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/16/2007 09:27:00 AM
Monday, October 15, 2007
Marketing guru and one of our blogging heroes, Rob Walker gives his evaluation of what the new Radiohead LP means to the music industry. It turns out we had pretty much the same take on In Rainbows' impact: very little if you're not already a mega-star.
He cuts to the point in the comments section...
[Yorke] can give it up because Radiohead has already gotten the benefits. Going from unknown band to million-seller is a lot harder than maintaining a fan base after the million-seller phase has gone on for years. And if the benefit wasn't such a big deal, then why did Radiohead sign with a major in the first place?
The main reason this got so many downloads is that it got so much attention, and the main reason it got so much attention is that Radiohead is a famous band, and one big reason that Radiohead is a famous band is that the band made a decision to sign with a label, and benefited from that arrangement.
Please note that this post does not suggest nothing has changed, or that labels are great, or that this stunt doesn't matter, etc. As I clearly say, I think it makes a lot of sense for Radiohead, but I'm not convinced that it tells us all that much about the future of the music business.
Walker and I both share a very tepid view of Radiohead's music - which should be irrelevant to the topic. He bought In Rainbows for $1, which is about as much as I imagine I'll enjoy it. But when I do get around to buying it (and I will - as soon as I listen to everything I bought off Bleep and Beatport the past few days,) I will buy it for the equivalent of ten euros. Why? Because I think a standardized pricing structure and standardized minimum bit rate are important in the new landscape of the industry.
There's still that file sharing monster under the bed - and DRM is certainly not the solution - but I'm hopeful, and would like to think that people will get used to actually paying for music in the digital download age. Just because you can't hold it in your hand doesn't mean it isn't real. The product is the music and the vision and work that went into. I stopped dubbing my friends tapes as soon as I was making enough money buy my own. I started buying uncracked copies software when I started making my livelihood off them. I still do copy or Audio-hijack (or more often beg the artists directly for) unreleased or out-of-print music when I've exhausted all options to purchase it. But as far as published music available to purchase, people should buy it. Not to protect EMI's bottom line, but out of respect to the artists making it.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/15/2007 06:47:00 PM
Alphabet: An Exhibition of Hand-Drawn Lettering and Experimental Typography opened last week at The Cooper Union in New York.
Check here for upcoming dates in other cities and here for the image gallery.
For more pen and pencil goodness, see the hand drawn type Flickr pool and the new book Hand Job.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/15/2007 01:01:00 PM
BLDGBLOG on Los Angeles:
No matter what you do in L.A., your behavior is appropriate for the city. Los Angeles has no assumed correct mode of use. You can have fake breasts and drive a Ford Mustang - or you can grow a beard, weigh 300 pounds, and read Christian science fiction novels. Either way, you're fine: that's just how it works. You can watch Cops all day or you can be a porn star or you can be a Caltech physicist. You can listen to Carcass - or you can listen to Pat Robertson. Or both.
That's how we dooz it.
L.A. is the apocalypse: it's you and a bunch of parking lots. No one's going to save you; no one's looking out for you. It's the only city I know where that's the explicit premise of living there - that's the deal you make when you move to L.A.
The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.
It says: no one loves you; you're the least imporant person in the room; get over it.
What matters is what you do there.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/15/2007 09:32:00 AM
The planned U2 Tower, which will be Ireland's tallest building but about a quarter of the height of some of the world's tallest skyscrapers, is part of a plan to regenerate the city's docklands area.
A U2 recording studio will be suspended at the top of the tower in an egg-shaped pod.
The development will also include a public viewing platform at 100 metres, a hotel, retail and residential accommodation including affordable housing.
[Obligatory South Park references at the link.]
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/15/2007 09:26:00 AM
The need for more open discourse about creativity and motivation [especially in electronic music] was a brunch topic yesterday. I hope it's understood that I try to be provocative with some of these posts in order to encourage thought - not to simply argue one side. I'm not as interested in the what and the how, but why people create. It's also the people/artists I care most about that often get the most critical attention - because I really do care.
SV4 points us to Test Industries, a great and often highly opinionated blog about electronic music. They talk about this very subject in this post here + another interesting post here. More please.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/15/2007 09:07:00 AM
If you want to read painfully 13-year-old opinions coming from a former god of indie rock go here. Seems like music icons must be coddled as much as super models. And the fans aren´t much better, i.e. this response:
"Hi Billy, I just wanted to say that even though I couldn't really understand, I do understand exactly what you're saying and I agree."
And, I was a bit hasty in lump factor the other day, tis true. But i do think labels like Turbo definitely have changed their sound radically, bandwagon or not.
Posted by: chris at 10/15/2007 03:29:00 AM
Saturday, October 13, 2007
In response to Chris' response a couple days ago: I wouldn't be so quick to lump Boys Noize and Turbo Records in there. Bethany and I had a conversation a while ago about how Ed Banger seemed to have so much potential to change the face of dance music for the better, but for every innovative step forward, they moot it with some incredibly obvious and campy pop culture reference, which makes us think a) they aren't seroius about the "good stuff" we think they are doing, or b) Janet Jackson really is a pivotal influence.
I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and when I say someone is being ironic, it's because I don't want to believe they seriously like that crap.
As someone who's business it is to filter the cream from the crap, it's troublesome to think anyone so smart and talented could be so nonchalant about their work. There's nothing wrong with being irreverent and having fun now and then. Nine times out of ten, my tongue is well within the vicinity of my cheek. There is no doubt that everything Justice does is executed with absolute brilliance. It's the content that throws me. Maybe Justice is so far over my head that I just don't get it. The feeling I get though is that they see everything as ephemeral - including themselves. Is it all an elaborate joke? Is it all about the moment? Moments pass quickly and are easily forgotten. The moment is merely a step in the process between defining the future and making history. If it doesn't relate to either, it is a waste of time and energy.
With that bit of Saturday afternoon pop-philosophy, here is the video for ZZT's Lower State of Consciousness, a collaboration between Zombie Nation and Tiga:
All the answers are embedded above.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/13/2007 03:14:00 PM
Friday, October 12, 2007
Tomorrow night: Saturday, Oct. 13 Matthew Dear's Big Hands Band perform live at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor with 800beloved and the Javelins.
This will be Matt's only live show in Michigan on the tour, and the first time 800 have played live in exactly one year. Also watch for new music-responsive visuals by o2.
Presale discount tickets are availiable directly from Ghostly + click here for full tour info, pictures and reviews so far.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/12/2007 10:15:00 AM
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Pruned gives a fabulous review of Punta Pite, a residential development in Chilie - specifically the poetic coastal walking path designed by landscape architect Teresa Moller.
Nothing like Punta Pite's cliffside walking path would probably be built in the U.S., or at the very least minor design tweaks would have to be implemented to meet federal regulations and to appease anxious attorneys...
...the incredible thing about the path, or El sendero, at Punta Pite is the possibility for multiple-compound fractures and even death. It is designed to be accessible and relatively safe, but landscape architect Teresa Moller wonderfully did not diminish the sublime quality of the landscape - and by sublime, I mean, terrifying; knocks-you-unconcsious-and-petrifies-your-soul-as-if-falling-eternally-into-the-abyss terrifying.
One second you are assured solidity and logical direction, and the next second, you find yourself unable to move, incapacitated by too much landscape and by the knowledge that your foot is but a millimeter away from the precipice and bloody ecstasy.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/11/2007 10:32:00 AM
On the subject of Justice, I too was suitably impressed with their future potential and have since become nausious at the amount of bands doing seemingly EXACTLY the same thing, same keyboards, same choppy structure, same tendency to start off amazingly and then go nowhere for the next 4 minutes (see any band on Ed Banger, a few on Kitsune, Boys Noize, even most of Tigas Turbo label has jumped on the bandwagon). Stop, please. (Or as you put it Mike, try something different)
Posted by: chris at 10/11/2007 10:25:00 AM
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
When the compressed-as-the-black-hole-in-the-center-of-the-Milky-Way, distortion-laden, six-hundred-foot-robotic-monster of an anthem Waters of Nazareth came out (note the mostly spot-on review but lackluster rating from Pitchfork,) I thought to myself, "This is exactly the kick in the ass electronic music needs, but nobody else is ever going to like it. It's way too nasty, way too dark, way too dense and way too fun for the chin strokers waiting for Villalobos' next 12 hour minimal-prog-trance epic."
Sonically, I thought it shared nearly as much with Speedy J's A Shocking Hobby as it did with Daft Punk. I was so infatuated by the density and texture of the sounds, I didn't even register it as house music at all. It reminded me of hearing Skinny Puppy... or Ministry's Stigmata for the very first time. Compare Stigmata to anything Front 242 was doing in the late 1980s to understand the paradigm shift: there was a renewed urgency and punk brashness in a genre best known for cold calculation and oiled precision at that time.
Regretfully, what followed that was a lot of misguided "I'm harder than you" garbage, which led to the marriage of industrial and heavy metal, which slowly and almost totally destroyed the genre's credibility (only to be further eroded by its second marriage to rave culture - i.e: VNV Nation - which is arguably even worse.) But I digress.
Before I finish digressing and totally derailing my own post, I think A Shocking Hobby was the first and one of the most brilliant "new industrial" LPs. I've been rather disappointed by Speedy J's output since then. 4/4 hard techno in 2007 is about as interesting (and sad) as Ministry making durdgey heavy metal. I dearly miss that genius period of his late Warp/early Mute years.
Back to Justice.
Likewise Justice let me down by not pushing their ultra-compressed, uber-nasty sound further in lieu of kitchy pop culture references on their debut full length. The point of this post though was their recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
I don't really know what to think. It is certifiably genius in a lot of ways, but on the other hand, it's like a comedy record: great the first time, but not worth repeating... ever. That's the problem with irony. Short shelf life. If Justice is going to last, they need a lot less irony and a lot more paradigm shifting moments. I know they are more than capable.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/10/2007 07:10:00 PM
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Holy cats! Patrick Wolf last night may have been the second best live show I have ever seen. He joked about playing in Hamtramck four years ago to five people [he has three critically acclaimed LPs under his belt between then and now and is barely 21 years old,] and the next time he rolls through Detroit I guarantee he's going to sell out a stadium. It's really exciting to see someone destined for such glory at this stage in their career - with less than 100 fellow fans at a cabaret theater in Ferndale on a Monday night no less. Wowzers.
I won't tell you my #1 concert experience, but he easily bumped Tom Waits at the Beacon Theater and Fischerspooner at Deitch Projects down a couple notches, and gives Nick Cave, Warren Ellis and Low at the Town Hall a good run for their money.
Absolutely authentic, thoroughly entertaining and utterly inspirational. I've never seen such a theatrical production that had no wall between the audience and the performer. It broke all of the rules. Wow.
Although I've never had the opportunity to see Pulp live, I feel like I just witnessed a very young [and very flamboyant] version of Jarvis Cocker performing just before "Different Class" broke.
I am very excited about British pop music right now, and endlessly talented, gangly young renegades like Patrick Wolf [and FrYars, and the Horrors, etc.] are going to make everything better.
Pardon the re-post, but here is his newest music video again:
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/09/2007 02:57:00 AM
Monday, October 08, 2007
Radiohead's "Bold Moves" Irrelevant at Best, Screw Over Working Musicians and Devalue Creative Capital at Worst
Sorry to those who caught the test publish of my first draft (read: profanity-laden rant) about the new Radiohead album early Sunday morning. For those who don't know, Radiohead is self-releasing their next album as a pay-what-you-want digital download, or an $80 collector's box. As it turns out, Trent Reznor also made the leap from major label to free agent as of today (like we couldn't see that one coming a mile away...)
Here are some things we know:
1) Major labels are evil. (Four companies account for more than 80% of worldwide music sales. We guesstimate that those 80% of sales accounts for less than 1% of the people out there seriously making music.)
2) Recorded music on any physical format is pretty much dead format, and has been since 2003.
3) When was the last time radio had any relevancy? (The correct answer is "Liz Copleand's last broadcast on WDET.")
4) The music industry is being democracized and radically redefined as we speak.
5) Major labels will do anything to stop this - but in the end they may as well be making pagers and typewriters.
Here's what I like about the precedence being set:
Direct relationships between artists and consumers. This is good (although it overlooks the importance of the curatorial and nurturing aspects record labels can offer fans and artists alike.)
Here's what I don't like:
The free/"pay what you want" part.
Radiohead doesn't need the money. Nine Inch Nails doesn't need the money. Prince (who gave away his new LP first) doesn't need the money. All of these acts worked their way to [deserved] stardom and wealth through the old system and are now in a position to do basically anything they want. They have an opportunity to do great things. They have a responsibility to lead the way for those scraping by to make an honest living from their art. Prince can give away his CD and then sell out a record 21 live shows in London. Good for Prince. Good way to stick it to the majors. Is it good for independent musicians or good for small labels taking risks for more noble reasons than simply the dollar? I don't see it. This model only works for mega-stars. They can sell out shows and sell tons of merch, but giving away the creative capital of music - which is what all of this should be about - sets a bad precedence. It devalues the creative capital. It devalues the life work of passionate, talented, hard-working artists. There has to be a better way to redefine the way the industry works. We apparently can't look to out-of-touch rock stars for guidance. All the innovative marketing and seemingly noble politics aside, the motives strike me as selfish - whether they are conscious of this or not. With the democratization of music, they may soon find themselves just as irrelevant as major labels or pop radio.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/08/2007 08:13:00 PM
Curbed recpas this past weekend's Open House New York.
Looks like the Highline is right on schedule. Impressive.
Related: Open House New York on Flickr.
There are some great shots on Flickr from Murray's Cheese Caves - named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the 50 Coolest Places to See in the World.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/08/2007 12:24:00 PM
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
It's no secret that Burnlab thinks Tomlab is one of the best record labels EVAH. One of their top artists, Patrick Wolf is currently on tour, stopping at the Magic Bag Theater in our home town of Ferndale Michigan on Monday, Oct. 8th.
We're going and so should you.
Two of my favorite Patrick Wolf videos below:
+ this awesome clip from Trash Club in London when Patrick was a mere 16 years old!
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/06/2007 10:11:00 PM
Friday, October 05, 2007
I bookmarked this months ago but never got around to posting it. Better late than never, yes?
Surreal to Reel: Dali at the Movies
A look at the work of Salvadory Dali... the production designer.
Some spectacular examples here, from the Marx Brothers to Hitchcock.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/05/2007 03:50:00 PM
Why does that Bravia ad look so familiar? Oh, right... KozyNDan did it years ago.
Here's what they say:
Its hard to think that people at Passion Pictures did not have this early panoramic of ours in mind when they created this new spot for the SONY Bravia line.
To add insult to injury, someone from Passion Pictures contacted us almost two years ago asking to see samples of our work (including this panoramic) as they were interested in working with us. We sent them samples and then heard nothing from them ever again. (It should be noted though, that the more likely culprit is the ad firm who hired Passion Pictures, Fallon.)
Still, its a clever ad.
Related: the original Bunny Tsunami for Giant Robot
It's not like KozyNDan are so outside of mainstream media that nobody would eventually notice. I still love the ad, but this certainly takes some of the magic away. I've seen it happen so many times at big agencies - there is little regard for the line between inspiration and flat-out plagiarism, and often a complete lack of conscience or even understanding why it's wrong. (Some people call it "business", but psychiatrists call this kind of behavior "psychopathy".)
Also related: Lebbeus Woods vs. 12 Monkeys
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/05/2007 11:43:00 AM
Thursday, October 04, 2007
This has been a big day for adorable, colorful, stop-motion animated critters. In addition to the debut of the third Sony Bravia ad (two posts down,) our friend Eames Demetrios wanted to let you know that he has just released a new film titled A Gathering of Elephants. The six minute animation was created as a fun celebration of the newly issued Eames Plywood Elephants.
The elephants were designed by Charles and Ray in 1945, but never went into production due to the cost and complexity of the mold. To celebrate the 100th birthday of Charles, an limited edition 1000 red and 1000 maple elephants have been produced by Vitra and will be available starting in November. The Eames Office spent the past 12 years developing a production version. In the Eames tradition, they hope to offer a more affordable model in the future. Watch the film in high res, plus some behind the scenes footage at DAS Film Fest.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/04/2007 09:27:00 PM
I was just thinking today, "I really need some new music. Something sinister but sweet... something complex and literate, yet poppy and infectious. Something new." Just then Phoenix Perry introduced me to FrYars.
FrYars is a gangly 18-year-old lad from London by the name of Ben Garrett with a striking voice and an even more striking knack for both lyric and score.
NME says of his self-released debut EP:
Like the Magnetic Fileds with Nick Cave's deathly fantasies, FrYar's ghoulish electro slinks across the sinister pop of 'Chocolate', while 'Madeline''s swooping computer orchestration approaches genius. 'Happy' further ups the ante with his twisting croon wrapping its way around every chugging nook and cranny. Excuse us while we swoon.
Another review here and the brand new video for "The Ides' below.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/04/2007 07:09:00 PM
Another excellent Muschamp obit. - from The Architect's Newspaper:
Herbert's contribution to architectural criticism has not been fully measured. His opinions were often hyperbolic; his prose outrageous; the path of his thinking inimitably complex. Unforgettable samplers would have to include his comparing Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to the "reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe."
Herbert was also maddening; he drove his editors and his friends up the wall only to charm them back down again with twinkling wit and an open generosity that could almost prepare one for the next onslaught.
...he had no favorites; he only championed what was interesting. And what was interesting to him was anything that was compelling and vital and personal.
...it was Herbert himself who wanted to cure the world of unthinking, unengaging architecture and fill it instead with places that would welcome even someone as critical but hopeful as himself.
[Bolded items are my own accent for traits I strongly admire.]
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/04/2007 02:00:00 PM
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Fantastic interview with Lebbeus Woods on BLDGBLOG today.
BLDGBLOG: That's actually one of the things I like so much about your work: you re-imagine cities and buildings and whole landscapes as if they have undergone some sort of potentially catastrophic transformation - be it a war or an earthquake, etc. - but you don't respond to those transformations by designing, say, new prefab refugee shelters or more durable tents. You respond with what I'll call science fiction: a completely new order of things - a new way of organizing and thinking about space. You posit something radically different than what was there before. It's exciting.
Woods: Well, I think that, for instance, in Sarajevo, I was trying to speculate on how the war could be turned around, into something that people could build the new Sarajevo on. It wasn't about cleaning up the mess or fixing up the damage; it was more about a transformation in the society and the politics and the economics through architecture. I mean, it was a scenario - and, I suppose, that was the kind of movie aspect to it. It was a "what if?"
I think there's not enough of that thinking today in relation to cities that have been faced with sudden and dramatic - even violent - transformations, either because of natural or human causes. But we need to be able to speculate, to create these scenarios, and to be useful in a discussion about the next move. No one expects these ideas to be easily implemented. It's not like a practical plan that you should run out and do. But, certainly, the new scenario gives you a chance to investigate a direction. Of course, being an architect, I'm very interested in the specifics of that direction - you know, not just a verbal description but: this is what it might look like.
Related: new Lebbeus Woods website.
In more architecture news, NY Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp died last night at 59. I sometimes disagreed with his critiques, but he was out there making architecture and design important to everyone. He was a passionate voice and a champion of creative thinking, and a great writer who will be dearly missed.
Excerpts from the NY Times obituary by Nicolai Ourousoff:
Mr. Muschamp continually returned to analyzing the psychological forces that shape the visual world. Reviewing the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in 1993, for example, he described a visit to the concentration camp at Dachau, which had a gas chamber.
"The small size of the gas chamber comes as a surprise," he wrote. "There is nothing to see besides four walls, a floor, a ceiling and the door that leads outside."
"It is when you cross the threshold of that door that you grasp the reason for visiting Dachau. You walk out into daylight, but part of you does not leave. The doorway divides you. The part that is free to walk through the door feels disembodied, a weightless ghost. You feel lightheaded, as though you have broken the law, as indeed you have. Your passage through that door has violated the design. The room was not meant to be exited alive."
Mr. Muschamp's reviews could also be devastating, and maddening to readers who took exception to his quirky - and, some argued, self-indulgent - voice. "Herbert's criticism was full of passion - too much for some readers," said Joseph Lelyveld, the former executive editor of The Times who hired Mr. Muschamp. "But that passion lit up his writing and the world of architecture. One of his great themes was that New York deserved real architecture, for our times - not what developers often try to pass off."
Some of Mr. Muschamp's fiercest attacks were reserved for the rebuilding efforts at ground zero, arguing that political concerns had trumped the city's cultural welfare and future.
In a 2003 appraisal on Daniel Libeskind's proposed master plan for ground zero, he mocked the architect's 1,776-foot Freedom Tower and a proposed promenade of heroes as "a manipulative exercise in visual codes."
"Even in peacetime that design would appear demagogic," he wrote. "As this nation prepares to send troops into battle, the design's message seems even more loaded. Unintentionally, the plan embodies the Orwellian condition America's detractors accuse us of embracing: perpetual war for perpetual peace."
Mr. Muschamp often reflected on the central role that gay men played in New York's cultural history, specifically the world that he entered as a young gay man escaping the homogeneity of suburban Philadelphia.
Reminiscing lovingly about Edward Durell Stone's so-called lollipop building on Columbus Circle - now undergoing an extensive redesign - in a 2006 article in the paper's Arts & Leisure section, he described his generation's experience this way:
"We were the children of white flight, the first generation to grow up in postwar American suburbs. By the time the '60s rolled around, many of us, the gay ones especially, were eager to make a U-turn and fly back the other way. Whether or not the city was obsolete, we couldn't imagine our personal futures in any other form. The street and the skyline signified to us what the lawn and the highway signified to our parents: a place to breathe free."
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/03/2007 07:30:00 PM
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
As mentioned here a few months back, SHRUBBN!! has been removed from suspended animation and is now set to release a new 12" on Shitkatapult sub-label Musick, and has a track on the upcoming Scandale! 5 compilation.
SHRUBBN!! was founded by MARCO HAAS aka T.RAUMSCHMIERE and ULLI BOMANS aka SCHIERES in 1995. the aim of SHRUBBN!! was to do dirty-filthy-but-swinging-noize-improvisations while tripping. they used to call it ROTZ-POP!! the results were recorded on a stereo tape recorder and by 1997 the first demo was finished. 4-8 pieces were duplicated and given to special people. in 1997 SHRUBBN!! released the track "thema" on the vinyl compilation "the cozmick suckers vol. orange" (on the label SHITKATAPULT that was founded by marco haas and marcus stotz in the same year). one year later, 1998, the track "koenig thule" was released on the vinyl compilation "the cozmick suckers vol. blue " and another year later, 1999, the track "staub" was released on the cd compilation "the cozmick suckers vol. yellow ". after all these noize- and drug experiences it was time for something else and the two decided to go seperate ways for a while...
...between 1999 and 2006 HAAS focused on his T.RAUMSCHMIERE project and released records on labels like novamute, kompakt, sender and of course his own imprint shitkatapult. he also founded a punk-rock band which is now known as THE CRACK WHORE SOCIETY. in the meantime BOMANS concentrated on doing his artwork, travelled the world, focused on his project SCHIERES and founded the disco-punk-boy-group GLADBECK CITY BOMBING . in 2004 their ways crossed again. this time in hamburg at the golden pudel club. and after a few drinks the two "rotzloeffel" decided to bring back the maximum blast into the minimal world... it took them another 2 years to make this happen but in october 2006 HAAS & BOMANS had their first session after 7 years... and now SHRUBBN!! has officialy returned!! kabel rein, weiter geht's!!
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/02/2007 10:47:00 AM
Minimal Wave Records' 8th release will be available Oct. 15th - a 7" featuring two singles from the Dutch duo Storung. Storung formed in 1981, and like Ensemble Pittoresque, are from the region of the Hague known as the Wassenaarse Slag. Watch a clip of Storung live in Amsterdam from 1983 here.
Also watch for The Found Tapes LP on November 1st - a compilation of North American Minimal Wave '81-'87. The Found Tapes is a follow up to The Lost Tapes compilation of European Minimal Wave. It features previously released, rare tracks, as well as some unreleased tracks from Futurisk, Iron Curtain, Deo Toy, Experimental Products, Mark Lane, Ohama, Crash Course In Science, Dark Day, Craig Sibley, and Tara Cross.
Posted by: Michael Doyle at 10/02/2007 09:19:00 AM