Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring [finally!]

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden's famed Cherry Esplanade and Cherry Walk are currently in peak bloom. See a time-lampse here and the latest uploads to Flickr here.

Flickr photos by Jimmy Lee

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ghostly, Collaborations and Tangents

"We get in the sandbox with other creative companies whenever it makes sense. We obviously love Adult Swim as do a lot of our fans, so it was a no-brainer. We were allowed a lot of creative latitude to represent the brand both musically and visually... The point of being involved in music and art is to try to keep things interesting for both our fans and ourselves. It's an advantage that small companies like ours have, so it would be a shame not to get in the sandbox once in a while."
-Sam Valenti IV, from an interview with Cool Hunting on Ghostly International's recent project with Adult Swim.

Ghostly Swim [mixed and engineered by Josh Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv] is a milestone for the label in many ways. It reafirms Ghostly's position as leader in innovative marketing and should propell the brand to a much larger audience base. More importantly though, it represents an already strong label coming into maturity.

No hyperbole here, Ghostly Swim is the strongest compilation the little label from Ann Arbor has put out yet - including Disco Nouveau, which put Ghostly on the map. Most great LPs are lucky to have one or two "just-stop-you-in-your-tracks" moments. Ghostly Swim has a half dozen such moments. [Nick Cave's The Boatman's Call - possibly the most emotionally wrenching LP ever - had maybe three or four.]

The Reflecting Skin
Danny Scales a.k.a. The Reflecting Skin

Most interestingly, despite strong work from label stalwarts Dabrye, Osborne, Kill Memory Crash and Matthew Dear, the most powerful tracks come from recent signings. Without question, the standout track on this comp is "Traffickers" by The Reflecting Skin. Dethlab played an ealry version of this song every night of the "Now We Are Dead" tour with Solvent and Lowfish, and we have never had so many strangers come up and ask who it was. Same response, every city. [I personally think The Reflecting Skin best represents where electronic dance music is headed.] Toybreaker said of Traffickers, "it makes you stop whatever you're doing and calls attention to the Dune sized bassworms that are ravaging your bowels."
'Nuf said.

My second favorite track on the compilation is "Squirmy Sign Language" by Ben Benjamin - formerly of Midwest Product. It doesn't sound anything like the MWP you know. Like The Reflecting Skin, this is dark and lush electronic music equally fit for suicidal bedrooms or moody dancefloors at 4AM. Beautiful.

Third is my new most favoritest Detroit-area artist Deastro. "Light Powered" is a great track, but you should check out his album The Young Planets - Time the Teenage Twister on iTunes. Imagine if you will, Goudron meets Soviet meets Casiotone For The Painfully Alone meets Laibach meets The Lightining Seeds... and then add a healthy dash of My Robot Friend's sense for theatre.

Canadian producer Milosh's "Then It Happened" was perhaps the biggest surprise and most emtionally captivating track on the entire compilation. When I hear this song, I shut down and can't do anything but listen.

Other major highlights from Ghostly Swim include Tycho's "Cascade", Aeroc's "Idiom", School of Seven Bells' "Chain", and The Chap's "Carlos Walter Wendy Stanley" - my favorite from their brilliant new LP Mega Breakfast.

To be objective and fair, I certainly don't love all of it, but I appreciate the eclecticism and how it all works together. This is a really mature and well thought out collection of music.

Ghostly Swim will be available for a little less than two months as a free download, so grab it now! A reinterpertation will be available on CD this autumn.

Spectral Sound / We Work For Them
We Work For Them for Spectral Sound

In addition to collaborating wht Adult Swim, Ghostly has recently worked with design icons Mike Cina and Mike Young of We Work For Them. [I've loosely been friends with Mike Young since the early days of the internets, due in large part to to his experimental projects with Mike Madill and 19.5 Collective.]

Cina has provided artwork for Ghostly's sister label Spectral Sound, including Kate Simko's She Said EP and Sami Koivikko's Sapphire 12".

Cina describes the collaboration as "perfect timing." "I met Sam in the early 2000's. He contacted me about some work I was doing." "Late last year, I was wanting to work on some personal-type work and it happened to be what direction Ghostly was going in. WeWorkForThem also was doing some stuff that needed the type of sound that Ghostly/Spectral is perfecting, seems like a perfect match for me."

Valenti agrees. "Collaborating with Mike was something we wanted to do for quite sometime, after seeing some of the projects he had been working on, it forced our hand."

The 12" sleeves represent both a neo-classical and abstract beauty and document a new era for the Ann Arbor based label. The 3 covers represent a new breed of Spectral talent including Kate Simko, Sami Koivikko and Cologne-based duo, Daso & Pawas. Ghostly will be offering a limited edition of prints of each cover on their online boutique The Ghostly Store as well as t-shirts by YouWorkForThem.

Ghostly has treated its artists, fans and collaborators like family since day one. Artists feel like they're working with rather than for the label, and fans feel involved in something special and personal rather than merely consuming a product. As far as cult brands go, Ghostly is fast becoming the Apple Computer or Volkswagen of record labels. Actually, I think Ghostly has taken lessons from cult brands such as those listed above, and blazed new trails where it comes to earning respect and loyalty from both producers and consumers. [Marketing guru Steve Wilhite - who coined the brilliant "Drivers Wanted" for VW and "Shift_" for Nissan could take notes.]

It can be very difficult finding people to work with who have just that right balance of talent, personal chemistry and motivation. Having conducted many interviews in my professional life, there are plenty of people who are highly skilled and organized at what they do, but you just can't imagine spending more than a few minutes with them before putting an ice pick through your temple. Likewise, there are some truly wonderful people in the world who turn out to be total flakes, or don't share the same motivations for making work. The right combination is of course different for everyone and every situation. [I once worked at a company who's primary motivation was making lots and lots of money. That's fine and all, but I'm very fortunate to now be somewhere that shares my primary motivation of making challenging, high quality art above all else. The funny thing is, we do pretty darn okay for ourselves with that.] Ghostly has done a wonderful job finding their perfect balance with an impressive artist, fan, and collaborator base that is beneficial and inspiring for everyone involved.

The best brands aren't for everyone, but they're just perfect for those who get it.

Kahn/Esherick House

Eames Demetrios recently visited the Esherick House designed by Louis I. Kahn and took some wonderful photos.

The house is innovatively to be sold at auction, more as a work of art than as real estate.

Additional info on the house and the auction at Dezeen.

Jonathan Schipper

[I could, but probably don't need to explain why Jonathan Schipper is one of my favorite sculptors...]

Jonathan Schipper
The Inherent Beauty in a Failed Attempt to Reconstruct

Jonathan Schipper
The Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle

Jonathan Schipper
Raining Blood

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nick Cave on Fresh Aire

Nick Cave, Digging Himself a Singular Niche. Archive of 37 minute NPR interview from earlier today.

Special bonus: one of his best songs ever is also included about 1/2 the way through the interview.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Shoegaze goes motown

Ten years on and one of the most criminally unnoticed bands celebrates their amazing last album from 1998. Jessamine, a band that, on their last album somehow made music that sounded like if My Bloody Valentine grew up in Memphis...r&b plus shoegaze? Yep.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Three Way Electro

DETHLAB + 1 [a.k.a. Ms. Toybreaker, David Blunk II and myself] recorded a new live mix this week at the historic Atlas Building on Gratiot. You can download it right here [93MB, .m4a format]

cocks on Techno Blvd.

[DETHLAB mashup intro] The Producers: "Keep it Gay" vs. Homotronic: "U Look Like a Gay"
Rude 66: "The Strings of Death"
Lowfish: "Domination Ver. 2"
Josh Dahlberg: "Interloop"
Kiko: "Slave of My Mind"
Sascha Funke: "Kuschelrock"
Apparat: "Arcadia (Telefon Tel Aviv RMX)"
The Reflecting Skin: "Traffickers"
Das Bierbeben: "Sturm Bricht Los"
Deutsche Amerikanishe Freundschaft: "Tanz Mit Mir"
Adriano Canzian: "You Excites Me So Much!"
The Presets: "My People"
Tomas Andersson: "Washing Up (Ttim Deluxe Mix)"
SebastiAn: "Smoking Kills"
Synapse: "Dust-Mite (Edit)"
[DETHLAB mashup] Ambivalent: "R U OK" vs. Gershon Kingsley: "Popcorn"
Zoo Brazil: "Face"
Richard Bartz: "Symphonies of Midnight"
[DETHLAB mashup outro] The Producers vs. Homotronic

+ The three of us will be DJ'ing a special edition of Disco/Secret this Sunday night at the Detroit Eagle. Expect your daily recommended allowance of dark synths and slapstick humor.

Disco/Secret w.s.g. DETHLAB + 1
Sunday, April 27th at the Detroit Eagle
1501 Holden St, Detroit, MI 48208
FREE | 21+ | $2 drinks | guarded parking | leather

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Trend Watch '08: Circuit Benders and Local News?

Bent Music Appears, Awkwardly, On Local TV - Film at 11
Something strange is happening on local affiliate news programs across the country: Circuit benders and other weirdo musicians are being asked to drop by and discuss their art for the American Public. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d be a little confused and freaked out if I woke up and saw this first thing in the morning...

I don't know. Dan Deacon looks like he was born to do morning news.

[thanks Chris!]

The World As Flatland | Information Design Studio

The World As Flatland is the online home of Information Design Studio.


We design complexity

The Information Design Studio is specialized in the development and design of complex information systems. Due to the fact that these systems are comprised of a multitude of different applications (printed matters, three-dimensional and digital applications), the project work proves to be very interdisciplinary.

Our objective is to derive additional knowledge by organising, combining, condensing and visualising complex data. Our work does not depend on certain media and involves a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to communication, combining skills from graphic design, web design, 3D design, psychology, cognitive science, information theory and cultural studies.

Experimental Research

We find it very important to further develop Information Design in free, experimental projects. Our definition of Information Design is based on an interdisciplinary attitude and an openness towards all creative disciplines, especially art, architecture and digital media.

Maybe I'm weird, but reading stuff like this gets me all hot and bothered - in the good way.

[Actually, this sounds a lot like o2 - sans the singing gnomes of course.]

Go check out all of Information Design Studio's smart and beautiful work. The United Nations
Year of Languages
project is rather excellent.

Allan Chochinov: Ode To My Toaster

[My friend Allan wrote this for Design Observer. Wonderful.]

Ode to my toaster, so shiny and clean
You’re the butterknife's foe, you're the bread's trampoline
You're the lightest, the darkest, the coolest and proud
You’re the jack-in-the-box of the countertop crowd.

In the old days you had a side entrance instead
You were far more ornate as a true thoroughbred
But now you're a box with a push-button trick
You're a bit more convenient, but a little too slick.

And if that weren't sufficient to cause you some shame,
There's your bullying arch-rival muscling in on your game
They say big toaster-ovens are "double the tool"
They can brown up a bagel and reheat your gruel.

But don't be discouraged, I still think you're swell
You do do one thing, but you do that thing well
And though fancy new gizmos might stir up a yen, remember
Your name still pops up, every now and again.

The Architecture of Autocracy

[via Archinect] provides a tour of "the most ambitious and audacious designs breaking ground in some of the world’s least free countries." Go.

[If you're still wondering why Dubai is one of the most evil places in the world, Google Cat Le-Huy.]

Dear Democrats

You failed yesterday. If you want a compromised, opportunist, out-of-touch Washington insider as your candidate, fine. But don't dare count on my vote or any votes from my generation come November. We don't play to fear tactics and we can leave any time we want. We've been faced with the choice of the lesser of two evils our entire lives. For once we have the opportunity to change that and vote for someone we actually respect. Don't wuss out and give us the status quo yet again. We won't have it, and we refuse to vote for her.

update: Andrew Sullivan's insights on the Democratic generation gap.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cyberoptix TieLab in Crain's Detroit Business

[My better half is in the news again...]

Bethany in Crain's Detroit Business

The Line On Design: Bethany Shorb

If you think most ties are boring, you're not alone — designer Bethany Shorb agrees. Visit the Web site for Cyberoptix TieLab, Shorb's online boutique, and you'll be greeted with a promise in the form of a slogan: “Ties that don't suck.”

Shorb's neckwear venture began as an afterthought back in 2006. Completing a screen-printing project, the Cranbrook Academy of Art-trained artist decided to make a tie for fiance Michael Doyle. He liked it, but more important, others did too. Lots of other people. And Shorb's business was born.

Initially it was only online. But Shorb found customers around the world eager to purchase her brand of screen-printed quirky neckties, more likely to feature a cascade of "40s-style falling bombs, a delicate print of tiny butcher knives or a stylized plague bacterium than the subdued stripes, dots or chevrons found on conventional neckwear.

“Part of being a successful marketer is seeing what's being done badly,” she said. “People say, 'Why don't you do T-shirts?' There are enough T-shirts. No one feels bad about T-shirts. Ties? Ties suck.”

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Ghostly Website + Ghostly Swim Compilation

Ghostly International rolled out a brand new website late last night: classic good looks, easy to navigate, and jam packed with info on all your favorite artists.

Yesterday also saw the release of Ghostly Swim: a 19-song collection of music and art available as a free download in partnership with cult classic programmers Adult Swim. Also be sure to check out BoyCatBird's first ever animated music video, "City Suckers" by Daniel Garcia/Superfi.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Edward Hann

The fabulous work of graphic designer Edward Hann:

Overnewsed but Uninformed

Overnewsed but Uninformed is a beautiful & detailed infographic analysis of our actual global news situation. each 2-page spread focuses on a specific news-related theme, such as the global news distribution, media usage, most used news sources, news conglomerates & business structures, state of news censure, use of online media, plus a visual analysis of different title page layouts, as well as a direct comparison of different news headlines for the same news story.

I'm drooling.

[via Information Aesthetics]

The Papercraft Mac

Otaku hobbyists and retro fanatics alike (aren't they usually the same folks anyways?) now have another project to occupy those rainy april shower days: The Papercraft Mac!

Now available for everyone to enjoy, you can download a PDF template here, and build your own. Also check out the redesigned c-trl/68k site!

Cranbrook Degree Show + Massie House

Tonight is the Cranbrook Degree Show preview - always one of the most inspiring exhibits of the year.

Here & Now: Cranbrook Academy of Art 2008 Graduate Degree Exhibition
April 19 - May 10, 2008
Opening Reception: Friday, April 18, 6-8pm
Cranbroook Art Museum
39221 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303

+ Opening to the public on May 3rd is American House 08, a full-scale prefabricated house on the lawn of Cranbrook Art Museum by Architect-in-Residence William E. Massie.

An American House 08 embodies Massie’s innovative architectural practice through his use of computer-based fabrication technology for efficient, precise and customized buildings. The house, with its two glass elevations that unite the interior experience with the exterior landscape, is defined by a pair of volumetric anomalies that were intricately generated through a Computer Numerically Controlled machine. Massie uses the surface of these complex forms to capture light from multiple video projectors, creating a flexible ambient environment for the occupants.

Click here for more on both events.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Russian Avant-Garde, Theremin and Industrial Music

[It seems that most of the posts here lately have fallen into one of three categories: design and ethics, futurism and music and things Bruce Sterling would like... which, come to think of it, most often includes the first two. Here's one that includes all three - as well as one of my other favorite topics: iconoclasts. Also, I'd like to note that this is the first post of 2008 written entirely from our back patio, and I couldn't be more excited about that!]

While gathering information for the long overdue follow-up to The Art of Noises and a separate post on art and synesthesia, I kept coming across articles on artists working shortly after and in similar spirit as the Italian Futurists, but not directly connected. It shouldn't be surprising that most of them were Russian. [I hadn't really planned on this being a post about Russian avant-garde art, but the background is critical to the later part.]

Tatlin 2
'Tatlin at Home' by Raoul Hausmann, and model of Vladimir Tatlin's 'Monument to the Third International'.
(It should be noted that Tatlin is not even present in Hausmann's portrait. The anonymous man represents the collective nature of the revolution - from the perspective of the Berlin dadaists who were fascinated with Russia at the time.)

Russian Futurists, although inspired by Marinetti's manifesto [perhaps the greatest work ever in one of my favorite mediums: hyperbole for the sake of provocation] "acknowledged no authorities whatsoever," including Marinetti himself. Russian Futurism fizzled out not long after the Bolsheviks came to power, to be followed by the brief but significant Absurdism movement OBERIU. In the years between, Constructivism [another outgrowth of Futurism] had defined perhaps the most distinctly Russian and Bolshevik friendly art movement yet. But times changed quickly, and with Stalin's rise to power the only state endorsed art was Socialist Realism, quite literally sending the avant-garde into exile.

Léon Theremin
Léon Theremin

This leads us up to the time of Lev Sergeyevich Termen - better known as Léon Theremin.

I'm going to be lazy now, because my new favorite arts and culture blog, Coilhouse has already done all the right research and put an excellent article together. Below are a few choice tidbits from Russian Industrial Music, chapters 1 and 2. [It would take way too much space to re-post the whole article, but you should definitely click and read the link to the left here. I was completely unaware of most of the the technology and music being made behind the Iron Curtain. It's seriously mind blowing.]

In 1921, Russian physicist Lev Theremin, an inventor who insisted on building all his creations by hand, constructed the theremin, one of the 20th century’s first successful electronic musical instruments and still the only music instrument whose haunting tones are elicited without touching the device. Unlike Theremin, neither famous theremin-users John Cage, Download, Brian Eno, Meat Beat Manifesto or Edgar Varese were ever arrested for its use. After a decade of teaching and performing, Theremin was suddenly seized and imprisoned in 1938 by the KGB on the grounds of “anti-Soviet Propaganda.” Theremin was sent to Siberia and later to a labor camp in Omsk, where, alongside other indentured scientists, he was forced to work on various military projects (Theremin was later given the Stalin Prize for perfecting the eavesdropping device known as “the bug”). Thus begins the history of industrial music in Russia…

[Many innovations in synthesized sound happened in Russian military research laboratories] ...the first of these inventions, a two-voiced analog music synthesizer known as EKVODIN, was conceived in the 1930s at a Russian center called TSNIATRI, or “Automatic Devices for Defense.” Its inventor, Andrei Volodin, was not a musician at all; his task had been to conduct military research in the area of psychoacoustics. In his research, Volodin needed a source of material for his experiments with human response to various sounds, and so the EKVODIN was born. Soon the device found use at the hands of musicians, and Volodin’s synthesizer almost went into mass production but, uninterested in electronic music, the Soviet State cut funding for his project in the sixties. After that, Volodin continued working on the synthesizer, but he simply did not have the energy or resources to go on - Volodin died right in his laboratory in 1982.

More success was enjoyed by the ANS – the first photoelectric synthesizer invented anywhere in the world. Designed in 1939 by Evgeney Murzin, th e technological basis of the invention lay in the synthesis of sound from an artificially drawn sound wave. Murzin was an engineer and the design of the ANS was a hobby that took 20 years to realize. Despite the fact that only one copy of the ANS was ever created, it enjoyed wide use by many Russian composers. Eerie ANS compositions by Edward Artimiev grace Tarkovsky’s sci-fi films Stalker and Solaris. In 1999, Russia’s Electroshock records released a compilation drawn from archive tapes of ANS works from 1964 - 1971. Composers on this album included Edward Artemiev, Stanislav Keitchi, and, most notably, Alfred Schnittke, whose steel-grinding-against-steel ambient-noise composition “Steam” marks the beginning of a distinctly industrial sound in Russia.

If the early industrialists in the West were fetishizing the experience of expression under control, people creating a similar sound in the USSR were living it. Separated from their counterparts by the iron curtain, musicians in Russia began composing, collaging, cutting up and programming a range of sound experiments which became the first industrial projects in the USSR at a time when such activity was prohibited by the government. Bizarrely, many of these works coincided directly with the releases of groups such as Throbbing Gristle, Z’ev, NON and Cabaret Voltaire, completely unknown in Russia at the time. This suggested that the zeitgeist of industrial culture transmitted through all boundaries of communication...

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Click here for the rest. It's essential material to anyone with interest in electronic music and/or subversive culture.

Electric Kissing Parties

[via Coilhouse] from the book “The Art of Kissing,” published by Hugh Morris in 1936:

“Some few years ago, a very peculiar kissing custom arose which deserves mention here because, from it, we can learn how to adapt the method to our modern devices. At that time, when young people got together, they held, what was then known as, “electric kissing parties.” Young people are ever on the outlook for novel ways of entertaining themselves. In fact, when ether was first developed as an anesthetic, the young bloods of the town used to form “ether-sniffing” parties in which they got a perfectly squiffy ether “jag.” But to return to the “electric kisses.” An excerpt from a contemporary writer will, perhaps, give us some idea of what happened: ‘The ladies and gentlemen range themselves about the room. In leap year the ladies select a partner, and together they shuffle about on the carpet until they are charged with electricity , the lights in the room having been first turned low. Then they kiss in the dark; and make the sparks fly for the amusement of the onlookers.’ The same sort of experiment could be performed nowadays, on cold, dry nights when the air is overloaded with electricity.”

Awww... that's the cutest thing I've read in ages (not mention the best name idea for a party I've heard in ages!) You're looking at the proud new owner of

Also on the strange and fascinating subject of Victorian era sexuality, here is a NOT safe for work solution for what was then called “female hysteria.” The text is rather amusing...

"Unfortunately, hysteria was a recurrent condition and repeated treatment was often necessary. Taylor touted his steam-driven massage device as speeding treatment while reducing physician fatigue.”

Augmented Oxygen for the Home...

Here's a couple shots of Mathieu Lehanneur's O Oxygen Generator series, currently on display at the NYMOMA's "Design and the Elastic Mind" exhibit. It's a really comprehensive show, lots of other great work and it's only on display til may 12th, so If you're in NYC go see it now!

"A veritable domestic breathing machine, O generates pure oxygen in the home. Using an oximeter sensor, O constantly monitors the oxygen level in the air, and when it detects that this level is insufficient, it instantly activates the microorganisms it contains, Spirulina Platensis - a living organism with the highest yield in terms of oxygen production - and a light that favors spirulin photosynthesis."

He also seems to be working on a new concept, this is scheduled to view at Artists Space in NY as well:

Grand Theft Lagerfeld

Grand Theft Karl
DJ Karl (left) and the real Herr Lagerfeld (right)

Kaiser Karl makes his video game debut as [um...] DJ Karl in Grand Theft Auto IV. Lagerfeld's digital alter ego won't be capping any virtual gangsters... this time out. He has expressed interest in playing a villain in future releases. He will however be playing music on one of the game's radio stations.

From The Independent: It is the latest move in a career that has seen the designer repeatedly break out of the traditional world of fashion and create waves off the catwalk. And it again shows that, despite being a veteran of the style scene, he is at the cusp of new technology and trends.

Lagerfeld has peppered his selection with his infamous rapid-fire commentary, telling gamers he is "keeping things moving with the music that liberated all of us, taught us we were all the same, showed us that computers were our friends".
[Oh, Jeebus... I think my eyes just rolled right out of my head. Let's just pretend he didn't say that and move on.]

A shock move from the man who keeps the ladies who lunch in chic suits, genteel pumps and quilted handbags? Or merely the latest volley from someone who hungers for novelty the way mere mortals might hunger for their supper?

Appearing in a video game is just one of many projects for the 74 year old fashion icon who famously shed over 90 pounds, so that he could wear slim fitting Dior Homme suits [arguably becoming the best dressed man on the planet.] Herr Lagerfeld has recently been cast as a lead figurine, is to be immortalized as a teddy bear, photographed subjects from a gothed-up Claudia Schiffer to the Audi R8... all while finding time to be Artistic Director for Chanel and design numerous other lines.

Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion
Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion by Zaha Hadid

Lagerfeld has recently worked with Zaha Hadid to create the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion. The mobile gallery, inspired by Chanel’s signature quilted bag, made its debut in Hong Kong last month. More info on the pavilion and exhibition at the quite excellent official Mobile Art site.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008



Hot off the presses: DECAMPMENT is the newest project from ADULT., comprised of an experimental horror film and a trilogy of extremely limted edition 7" records.

Part I
ADULT. will be premiering their new silent-experimental-short-horror film DECAMPMENT May 9, 2008 at 7:00pm and 8:30pm at the Detroit Institute of Arts accompanied by their own peculiar electronic horror music especially scored for the film. DECAMPMENT was written, produced and directed by ADULT. in early 2008 and follows a women's transmigration from her "normal" life into a new society of deceit. Filmed entirely in Michigan, DECAMPMENT explores ADULT.'s obsession with an often overlooked and distinctive aesthetic that they call "midwestern horror". The all new soundtrack will be performed live by ADULT. during the screening of the film and will be a mutation of instrumental film music and more ADULT.-like irregularities.

ADULT. will be releasing their first new release in over a year. The DECAMPMENT TRILOGY is an extremely limited 7" series to be released on ERSATZ AUDIO. Three 7"s -each strictly limited to 100 copies- will tell the story of DECAMPMENT through music, lyrics and photographs. Each hand numbered 7" will come in a full color jacket along with a limited 16" x 20" photographic print from Nicola Kuperus signed and numbered. Collect the entire 7" trilogy to piece together the narrative of DECAMPMENT, plus own the limited edition 7"s and the Kuperus Triptych available ONLY through this website. One 7" will be released each month starting May 13th. More info coming soon concerning this project.

More info on the screening/performance at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Large Hadron Collider Man Eating Dragons Theory

Well, not exactly a theory... rather a clever analogy from the New York Times:

...Besides, the random nature of quantum physics means that there is always a minuscule, but nonzero, chance of anything occurring, including that the new collider could spit out man-eating dragons.

I still think it'd be neat if the collider did create a black hole just below the surface of the earth. [I don't know why I'm on this destruction kick recently. I guess I've been restless to make some art or drive a race car or something.]

Read the article here, via Danger Room.

323 East

We caught the opening of 323 East this past Sunday in Royal Oak, MI - a new art boutique featuring some of the best work Detroit area artists have to offer. I was impressed by not only by the quality, but the range and quantity of work in the incredibly narrow bright green storefront on East 4th Street. [Make sure to check out Graem Whyte's tooth saw if you visit. I think we need that above our fireplace.]

323 East is a unique alternative to traditional galleries and a great addition to the art community. We wish them all the best!

Arieff on Starck

Starck Raving?
Allison Arieff thinks he's just toying with us.

Oh my god, it's techno musik!

MOTOR released a brand new DJ mix yesterday which reminded me of why I liked techno in the first place. No lame clicks, bleeps, bouncy beats or bait-and-switch tactics here. This mix will take you back to 4AM on a Saturday night in 1992 and then throw you into the future so hard that you'll be in traction until The Singularity cometh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Doesn't "elite" mean "good"?

Rutger Hauer has a quote from Blade Runner that's perfect for Hillary Clinton's campaign - and it doesn't have anything to do with attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.

Ghostly Swim teaser

Two of our favorite flavors together: Ghostly International & Adult Swim

More info on the collaboration soon, plus there's a free party tonight at APT in New York - to celebrate finishing your taxes.

Push Button House

I'm doing some research on kinetic architecture and stumbled across this incredible project:

Illy Push Button House
Illy Push Button House

illy’s innovative Push Button House, designed by noted artist/architect Adam Kalkin, was on display at New York City’s Time Warner Center from November 29 – December 29, 2007. Originally unveiled at the 52nd Venice Biennale in June, 2007, the illy Push Button House is a fully functional and sustainable home built within an industrial shipping container. At the push of a button, the shipping container transforms into a five-room home with kitchen, dining room, bedroom, living room and library.
Read on here + more at Moco Loco.

"Nobody is above the law."

Obama Would "Immediately Review" Potential Of Crimes In Bush White House

The non-headline version is more pragmatic. Still, this put a great big smile one my face:

Obama said that as president he would indeed ask his new Attorney General and his deputies to "immediately review the information that's already there" and determine if an inquiry is warranted -- but he also tread carefully on the issue, in line with his reputation for seeking to bridge the partisan divide. He worried that such a probe could be spun as "a partisan witch hunt." However, he said that equation changes if there was willful criminality, because "nobody is above the law."

I've always been off-put by how freely pardons are handed out to elected officials. If there were ever a time to put an end to that practice it is now.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Slave of My Mind

Kiko has released one of the most dark, epic, singles and accompanying video of his entire career, and quite possibly, ever in the history of music. Hyperbole aside, as far as "bigness" goes, I think it almost puts Vitalic's Ok Cowboy to shame. (!) The whole album will be released on April 21st. Find the single, Slave of My Mind now on Beatport.

The video is a shorter edit, but the full version at just over nine minutes is one of the few tracks ever that deserves to be that long.

China's influence in the US

Regarding Tenzin's last post, I find it baffling that Chinese security is allowed to operate on US soil, let alone direct the activities of local law enforcement in a manner clearly in violation of fundamental constitutional rights. Part of that may be due to the fact that China literally owns us. Where's the funding for that economic stimulus package coming from?

The New York Sun's coverage of Wednesday's incident (A genrally balanced account, but I take strong issue with their calling the MacArthur Foundation award the "so-called" genius grant. When has that title ever come into question?)
American hero and MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant winner Majora Carter on TED Talks

Friday, April 11, 2008

Steampunk Penis Pump

Yeah, you read that right.
And it's totally SFW... if your colleagues have any sense of humor.

Steampunk DIY by Merlin Mann
File under: brass, whale blubber, making fun of yourself, things Bruce Sterling would like

[Thanks Adam!]

In other steampunk news...
Difference Engine unboxing
Forget the latest must-have doo-dad from Apple and check out unboxing a difference engine! (Where'd that pump go?)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Christopher Bissonnette on Pitchfork

Canadian sound sculptor Christopher Bissonnette [who sits just a few feet to my left here at the o2 Detroit studio] certainly sounds right at home on the Kranky label. While his mix of orchestral instruments and electronic sounds brings to mind the last two Stars of the Lid records in terms of texture, "A Touch of Heartbreak", taken from his forthcoming sophomore record In Between Words, carries a dramatic jolt more vigorous and dynamic than SOTL's eminently patient approach. Beginning with streamlined and airy tones, Bissonnette gradually introduces a churning mess of white noise that threatens to overtake the track but never quite does; heard loud, this is deceptively pulse-quickening stuff that refuses to remain in the background.

Check it our right here.

"What is your ethical footprint?"

I took this right from Cameron Sinclair's blog because it's one of the best phrases about responsible design since... well, since Cameron coined the term "Design like you give a damn."

"That's a question I pose quite often to young designers who are interested in socially responsible and humanitarian design. While 'being green' and sustainability are hot topics right now many in our industry seem to forget the ethical impact our structures have. It's a question designers at Architecture for Humanity struggle with all the time. Is my work creating balanced financial stability in the community? Are the materials I am using sourced in an ethical manner? Are we including the local skills and talent in the design and construction process?"
Read on [especially the part about Dubai.]

The question of course applies far beyond architecture. Truly responsible design, business and personal practices aren't so easy to quantify. You can't buy 'ethical offsets'.

Trevor Paglen on The Report

"Tastes like chicken."

[via Archinect]

The New Axis of Evil?

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is in talks with Microsoft about joining in its contested bid for Yahoo, according to people involved in the discussions. The combination, which would join Yahoo, Microsoft’s MSN and News Corporation’s MySpace, would create a behemoth that would upend the Internet landscape.

If that doesn't work, Microsoft coud ask North Korea to help with the takeover.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spimes and Toothbloggers Made Easy

Video documentation from last year's Innovationsforum has just been posted, including this great clip of Bruce Sterling talking about everything from design theory to how hard it is write science fiction in today's world. The talk is about a half hour long and well worth your time. The most entertaining and revealing parts are where Bruce talks about buying a toothbrush in the near future and sending a four-year-old to India for a sleep-over with only a smart navigation device.

"Reduce your cognitive load and increase your opportunities."

Flickr! Video

Without much fanfare, Flickr! added the ability to upload videos today. Video clips are limited to 90 seconds in length, which makes the service more about "long photos" than real video hosting. It's still exciting because Flickr! is probably the best designed social networking site on the web. Aside from a very intuitive and user-friendly interface, what makes Flickr! so great is the fact that it is so content driven. Most of the the discourse between users is focused on two things: documenting experiences and creative expression. If a picture is worth 1000 words, Flickr! is worth 1000 Facebooks.

Drone Um Futurisma

Sometimes I write a string of posts with clear intent to be provocative, and sometimes a theme grows organically out of seemingly unrelated research. The latter has definitely been the case this past week. Who would have thought posting a couple of Klinik videos would lead to the religious subtext of the first Star Trek movie?

The turning point was reading Simon Reynolds implicate industrial disco with Italian Futurism. It suddenly became very easy to connect the dots and theorize that attraction to a particular style of music or art is more than purely a matter of taste. Conscious of it or not, people often connect with an aesthetic because it represents much bigger concepts, and in the case of Futurism, even a quasi-belief system.

Luigi Russolo Intonarumori

Industrial disco and techno music had many of the same motivations which inspired Luigi Russolo to write the The Art of Noises manifesto and build his intonarumori. These genres were the manifestation of Futurist thinking in the late 20th century, but I don't think either are truly Futurist today. Today's Futurists are the Singularity proponents. Singularity represents the same obsession with the speed of technological innovation and a deep faith in human ingenuity. Like their predecessors, these 21st century thinkers, scientists and artists believe above all else in humanity's potential, and like Ayn Rand's heroic genius archetype, put the instinct to create above the instinct for self-preservation.

I wonder what the musical manifestation of Futurism is for today, or if it is yet to be created.

Note to self: It's about time I follow up that Russolo article from last summer.



As referenced in the last post, I'm not so secretly obsessed with the idea of Singularity. I wrote a paper for a college psychology class back in 1993 which went into great detail about how humanity would inevitably trump its greatest fabrication [God] with an even better fabrication [machines far superior to ourselves] which would cause the end of the human race's relevancy.

I got a B-. My prof didn't agree. I hadn't heard of Singularity theory at the time, and apparently neither had she. The point was really about creativity and the inherent human drive to create at all cost.

How else could this all possibly end? Both a random cosmic catastrophe and some stupid war related apocalypse would be hugely disappointing. Beating God at his own game is the only satisfying way to end humanity, and I really honestly hope I get to experience it. [Projections put A.I. surpassing human intelligence at around 2028, which is not that far off.]

Some of science fiction's most mainstream films have dealt with this idea: from Star Trek the Motion Picture, to The Terminator, to The Matrix. It just makes so much sense - if you believe real consciousness is something we as humans are capable of creating. I personally think it's our destiny as a species.

There's an interesting article in WIRED this month about futurist and inventor Raymond Kurzweil, who is going to great lengths in order to keep Death away from his door, with the primary intention of being around for when The Singularity happens. Kurzweil, 60, takes between 180 and 220 supplements a day and spends one day a week at a medical center taking intravenous longevity treatments. He has a different take on it than the dystopian scenarios presented in science fiction: Kurzweil argues that while artificial intelligence will render biological humans obsolete, it will not make human consciousness irrelevant. He believes the first A.I.s will be human add-ons to improve our minds and bodies, and that The Singularity won't destroy us, but immortalize us. [More V'ger than Terminator.]

I'm way too Catholic and Goth to buy that sunny notion. I'm all about the machine race we give birth to wiping us out or enslaving us... which I'm totally okay with! Either way it's proof that humans are more ingenious than God what most religions understand as God, and that's what's important. Bring on the machines.

addendum: Never mind - enough ramble jamble for one post already, prolly.

A.B.C. recap

All I can really say about last Friday's Absolute Body Control show is that it met and exceeded my very high expectations. And that Dirk Ivens really is about as commanding and charismatic as Peter Murphy or David Bowie on stage. It's a shame it took A.B.C. 28 years to play the United States. Hopefully more dates are in the future. (Now I'm on a mission see The Neon Judgement and Crash Course In Science live... wherever and whenever that may be.)

Here are some photos of A.B.C. at the Music Hall of Williamsburg by Toybreaker, and a video clip by unARTigNYC (in which you can hear me screaming... a lot):

Absolute Body Control - Give Me Your Hands + Into the Light [live in NYC, 2008]

(Man, THAT is is what electronic music is all about! The anti-funk pulse-driven dark-ass-bats only machines can make. I can not wait for The Singularity.)

Also, some douchebag stole Matthew Dear's external hard drive during his DJ set at the defacto after-party at Bunker next door. VERY not cool.

p.s.: we'd love to get some reports from Absolute Body Control's show in Los Angeles at M/R/X on Saturday.

Oh, and here's a picture of Atomly and a Nutter Butter at the after-after-party Saturday Morning.

Monday, April 07, 2008


I'm in Dallas for a meeting tomorrow. Haven't seen much yet, but the hotel is pretty cool. Although, being in a brand new building trying very hard to look like a 100 year old loft building feels a bit odd after spending the weekend in real 100 year old loft buildings in Brooklyn.

Speaking of, The Roebling Tea Room is one of our new favorite restaurants in Brooklyn. Big thanks to Phoenix for taking us there! The food and drinks are as good as the design, which is outstanding. Some serious competition for our regular haunt Marlow and Sons.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Dirk Ivens Week, Part 4

(One last A.B.C. related post before we pack our bags for NYC this weekend.)

Although Ivens has remained extremely active and prolific in better known bands, Absolute Body Control moved from the shadows and into the limelight just a few years ago with new interest in the formerly obscure minimal wave genre. [I use EBM as an umbrella term, simply because it would take way too much time and space to explain all the intricate differences between continental and specifically Belgian electronic music in the ealry 1980s. There are sixteen-year-old kids hanging out at record shops in Den Haag who could break it all down for you much better than I - if you have a few hours to spare.]

Although they played a major role in laying the foundations for electronic body music [or "industrial disco" as Reynolds puts it] Absolute Body Control are technically a minimal wave band. Ever since bands like Adult. renewed interest in electro, no-wave and other forms of electronic punk music that got kids digging deep into the history of this music, minimal wave has been making a steady comeback. A tremendous amount of credit must be given to East Village Radio co-founder Veronica Vasicka, who created the web community and record label Minimal Wave [dot org]. Much like Dan Selzer's Acute Records has put no-wave back in the spotlight by re-releasing long forgotten gems, Minimal Wave [dot org] has had an immeasurable impact on the resurgence of coldwave, minimal wave, minimal synth, etc., and it's fair to say that Absolute Body Control's current popular interest is in no small part due to Vasicka's passion and perseverance.

Störung - Warschau Pact [live, 1983]

Absolute Body Control released only one 7" single and a handful of limited run cassettes on Body Records from 1981-1984. In 2005 they released the double CD compilation Lost/Found on Tarantualla Productions. Although not exactly easy to get, Lost/Found was the first time nearly A.B.C.'s entire catalog had become available to the general public. (I was fortunate enough to get one of a few copies Solvent had imported from Belgium.) Just two weeks ago, A.B.C. released two new EPs on Dirk Ivens' own Daft Records, and Absolute Body Control's music will be available through major digital resellers for the first time ever on June 1st of this year.

Absolute Body Control - Is There An Exit? [live, 2007]

Absolute Body Control - Figures [live, 2008]

Doing It Right: Principal Voices

As faith erodes in the mainstream news media's willingness to provide anything beyond ratings grabbing celebrity scandal soundbites, it's exciting to see an organization like CNN put effort into generating discourse of real substance. Principal Voices is exactly the kind of innovative, current and participatory work news organizations should be doing, and CNN is doing it exceptionally well.

Pincipal Voices is stimulating discussion on the major challenges facing the world today. As in previous years, Principal Voices is bringing together some of the world's leading thinkers in their respective fields. In 2008 we will be discussing the Economics of Energy, Design for Good and Climate Change. With three round-table debates, white papers written by our Principal Voices, videos and regular articles appearing on the website, we will be covering every angle on each debate. But we also want to hear from you. What do you think about the issues we're discussing? Have your say here on Principal Voices.

Ghostly in Concentrate

Concentrate, an Ann Arbor focused business and culture webzine, ran an excellent feature on Ghostly International this week.

"Electronic music is so vast," said Matthew Dear, a cornerstone of the Ghostly label. "It's this giant kind of subculture that's spread its tentacles all throughout the world and grabbed root in every form of music. As far as where Ghostly fits into that, we've always wanted to make great artistic music. I guess it's music with more of a creative message than a political message."

"Art culture is about the new, and the new is never stagnant," Valenti says. He points to the French impressionists, subversive old-timers like Monet and Renior. They were part of a "crew of guys, all trained painters, who were choosing to blur the lines of reality."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dirk Ivens Week, Part 3

Although he doesn't speak specifically about Absolute Body Control or any of Ivens' other projects, I found it interesting that Simon Reynolds posted an article he wrote back in 1990 for the New York Times about Electronic Body Music - or "Industrial Disco" as he puts it - just this week on his Rip it Up and Start Again blog. The blog itself is a bloody erratic beast to navigate, but an interesting companion to his book of the same name, and overflows with information and insight about some of the most important music ever made. Scroll about 45% down the page for the full Industrial Disco article. A few choice paragraphs are cut and pasted below.

Nobody can agree on what to call the kind of music that Front 242 play: "industrial disco", "dancecore", "Euro body music", are just some of the names that practioners disown more frequently than pledge affiliation. But after ten years as the soundtrack for a burgeoning cult scene, this sound may be on the verge of going overground. The recent grim turn in world events could even help it on its way, as clubgoers react against the New Age "positivity" of current dance music and turn to something more in tune with the chaos of the age. For industrial disco is danceable but it isn't funky, and it doesn't correspond to most people's idea of "fun". If disco is escapist, industrial disco is "no escape"-ist. Drawing on media images of conflict and calamity, it doesn't so much document as amplify the tension and chaos of the outside world.

(Um... does all of this sound oddly familiar? If not, see The New Black and Uneasy Listening Music. )

Industrial disco's musical "roots" (the term seems inappropriate for music so inorganic and assembled) lie in the Eurodisco sound invented in the late Seventies by producer Giorgio Moroder and popularised with tracks like Donna Summer's "I Feel Love". Moroder's aim was to create a pulse-based dance music that would be easier for white people to shake their stuff to than funk's tricksy syncopation. Another critical influence is the early Eighties German group D.A.F., who replaced the flash and dazzle of symphonic disco with a precise and rigorous grid of synth pulses. D.A.F.'s version of dance was less about flamboyant self-expression and more about "absolute body control" (as one of their songs put it).

(And I thought Solvent and Sister Machine Gun taking their names from Skinny Puppy songs was a new idea!)

The "industrial" side to the genre originates in a term adopted by one of the factions that emerged in the aftermath of punk. "Industrial" groups like Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle beleived that punk was about disturbing the individual listener, rather than rallying youth in raucous solidarity behind political slogans. Challenging the listener involved tampering with traditional musical structures, experimenting with new technology, and exploring subject matter that undermined comforting truths rather than shored up a consensus. These groups combined traditional avant-garde techniques (tape loops, found sounds, electronics) with the new spatial possibilites opened up by disco and dub reggae (using the studio as an instrument). The industrial aesthetic also drew on influences outside music, in particular the apocalyptic visions of cult writers like William Burroughs and J.G. Ballard. From Burroughs, they derived an obsession with "control" (a paranoid belief in the existence of networks of surveillance and mind-manipulation) and the technique of "cut-up" (the use of quotes and soundbites from the media). From J.G. Ballard, they drew an interest in aberrant sexuality and a fascination with horror.

Industrial disco groups still work in this interface between pornography and pathology.

(Possibly my favorite line from music journaism ever.)

Industrial disco is generally fascinated with the extremes of human experience, and in particular with the extremes of male psychology: the outlaw, the survivalist, the terrorist, the serial killer, the dictatator, the technocrat. Industrial disco's aura is supremely masculine. The key adjective is "hard", as in hard beats, hard living, hardcore. London's major club for this kind of music is simply called Hard Club. Dance is less a funtime release, more like an endurance test. Standard disco phrases like "work that body" are taken literally. The pumping-iron rhythms and unflagging repetition evoke a mood of aerobic triumphalism: like working out or marathon running, this is an aim-less strength that exists only to flex itself. Promo videos for industrial tracks often incorporate images of glistening, tensed musculature inspired by the heroic realism of totalitarian art.

(I guess no point in saying "homoerotic" here.)

A key influence here is the rhetoric of the Italian Futurists and Soviet Constructivists, with their faith in technology, their formal brutalism, and their suspicion of the "feminising" aspects of civilisation. Industrial disco particularly resembles Futurism in its worship of speed: not the illicit drug but the tempo of the 20th Century as it hurtles towards the apocalypse. (Wax Trax group Lead Into Gold wittily summed up the aesthetic with the title of their recent LP "Chicks, Speed and Futurism"). And like the original Futurists, the industrial disco groups have an ambiguous relationship with totalitarianism. For some, the flirtation is artistic rather than ideological (the sub-Wagnerian monumentalism of In The Nursery). Others make more explicit allusions. The German group KMFDM talk of their dream of a 'positive fascism' - an army of youth marching in one direction for peace and love, and working to build a society in which images of violence are banned. Or there's Front 242, who propound a survivalist philosophy that has been called 'micro-fascism' (organising your own mind and body like a police state).

("Work that body.")

What Object?

A Research-in-Progress symposium this weekend at MIT
Objects are at once physical bodies, grammatical constructions, and philosophical abstractions. We obsess over objects of desire, objects of affection, and objects of scorn; we encounter found objects, objets d'art, object lessons, and the occasional objection. In short, we are awash in objects, objectives, and objectification; the discourse of objects can be both concrete and endlessly expansive.

(Sounds like Philippe Starck's mid-life conundrum, doesn't it?)

Our object-riddled and thing-populated world, then, urges us to keep talking. This is precisely what we hope this meeting of Research-in-Progress will foster: continuing dialogues about how objects work in our world, how they don't work in our world, what they do, and, fundamentally, how they keep us in conversation with one another. How are our practices – artistic, architectural, scientific, academic, everyday and otherwise – continually informed by objects? And how do the objects of our practices necessitate overlap with other kinds of practices? Or, alternatively, when do we reject objects? And to what ends?

Full info here

Dirk Ivens Week, Part 2

Dirk Ivens began his musical career singing and playing guitar in the punk band Slaughterhouse, but it was hearing Suicide in 1978 that opened up a whole new perspective. He created Absolute Body Control in 1980, influenced by not only Suicide, but by DAF and Fad Gadget. The timing couldn't have been better, as fellow Belgians The Neon Judgement and Front 242 were also just starting out. Electronic Body Music was born.

Suicidce - Harlem [live, circa 1980]

Front 242 - Controversy Between [1983]

Absolute Body Control - Into The Light [live, 2008]

In 1985, Absolute Body Control consolidated with two other bands to become Absolute Controlled Clinical Maniacs. After touring Norway, they simplified the name to The Klink, or simply Klinik. Klinik went on to be one of the most legendary industrial/EBM bands of the '80s. Ivens left the band in 1990 to pursue the solo project Dive. Dive's live shows were [and still are] particularly interesting because Ivens performs solo on stage with tape loops and drum machines, creating an extremely raw and intimate experience.

Dive - Power of Passion [live, 2007]

Thirty years on, Ivens hasn't lost a bit of his commanding stage presence - defined by assertive vocals, an almost telepathic connection with the audience, and a taught physique that singers half his age must admire. He's in a very special club there: only Douglas McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb, Jared Louche of Chemlab, Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy and perhaps Peter Murphy have had such similarly kind metabolisms and perform with the pent-up energy of a caged tiger. It's also a matter of remaining active and young at heart. According to a recent interview, Ivens goes out to concerts frequently, swims twice a week, and volunteers as a driver for handicapped people.

Dive - True Lies [live, 2008]

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dirk Ivens Week, Part 1

In anticipation of Absolute Body Control's first ever U.S. performance this Friday in New York, we're celebrating the career of founding member Dirk Ivens all week long.

Klinik - Hours + Hours [1985]

Klinik - Sick In Your Mind [live, 1985]