Sunday, November 10, 2013
The third week of November brings three nights of post-Punk legends, Wire as hosts of their very own marathon Drill: Seattle. Enlisting contributing performers for their 'Pinkflag Orchestra' and opening acts as Earth, Helmet and Chastity Belt, this is going to be a thrilling recreation of some of the highlights from their Drill: London of last year, including a night of the aforementioned Pinkflag Guitar Orchestra, the collaborative realization of their album "The Drill" and Wire's secret 'unannounced' opening bill for another undisclosed band. The venue/theme lineup looking something like THURSDAY at Barboza: Earth, Pillar Point, Wire/Drill. FRIDAY at The Crocodile: Helmet, By Sunlight, FF. SATURDAY at Neumos: Chastity Belt, Vestals, Wire/Pinkflag Orchestra. Any one of these evenings having the potential to do some legendary rocking, particularly Thursday and Saturday's realizations! For as much as groundbreaking work like 1977's "Pink Flag" and 1978's "Chairs Missing" are three decades removed, Wire continued to both innovate, warp, mutate and play with pop music's parameter's, creating through the 80's and 90's unclassifiable post-Punk/electronic fusions like "154" and such striking achievements as my own personal (absolutely unprepared for) introduction to their sound, 1987's "The Ideal Copy" and the gorgeously lush orchestrations of "A Bell is a Cup". To then later move into early IDM pop fusions as WIR with "The First Letter" and it's companion the "So and Slow It Grows" EP featuring collaborations with LFO and the Orb, all the way back around to the present day, as a rocking trio on albums like the 2001 - 2007 "Read & Burn" series. Rounding out their massive, influential corpus are abundant solo works, some of which the pinnacle of the whole discography, Bruce Gilbert's brilliant "Music for Fruit" comes to mind, as does the DaDa inspired experimental pop-Concrete of Dome's "1-2" & "3-4". Theirs is a legacy that's beyond quantification. It's safe to say there'd be no opening of the floodgates of music's mathy post-Rock revolution like we saw in the 90's without them. And that's the least of their achievements!
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Image Comics delivers Jonathan Hickman's "East of West", Brian K. Vaughn's
"Saga", Joe Casey's "Sex", Mark Millar's "Jupiter's Legacy", Brandon Graham's
"Prophet" & Ed Brubaker's "Fatale" as a bumper of creator-owned works in 2013
I come from a generation of readers who saw the formation of Image Comics as just the continuation of the worst-of-the-worst of the late 80's/early 90's Marvel work under a creator-owned banner. To give a sense of Image's original position in the comics' landscape, they eliciting the chapter in Grant Morrison's personal history of the superhero genre, "Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human" being titled; "Image vs. Content". This is especially deserved considering the criminally woe-begotten behavior of Image's founding member Todd McFarlane, see Neil Gaiman's blog for reference. So! Come a few decades later and the year 2013, which not only marks their 20th Anniversary but a striking chain reaction of new books, heralded by a new editorial team and ownership. This new direction dominated by a slough of new works by some of the current-greatest names in both mainstream and indie comics. Of special not amidst these for me, Jonathan Hickman, straight off his exceptional four year run on "Fantastic Four" over at Marvel, (where he wrote the most advanced, cosmological and heartfelt story Marvel's 'first family' has seen in three decades) has brought along his collaborator on that book, Nick Dragotta. Think a Moebius style pre-Apocalyptic Western set in future America with massive landscapes, the ultimate of anti-heroes, metaphysical influences jostling with high-technology and a prophecy unfulfilled, and you'd have "East of West". Which now on it's seventh issue, already shows promise as being the book of the year. Brian K. Vaughn who many of you know from his lengthy post-Societal Collapse gender-epic "Y The Last Man" for the Vertigo imprint is back with a Universe hopping, interspecies love, technocratic, Joss Whedon-like in tone, space "Saga" with award winning artist Fiona Staples. Joe Casey's newest book with Euro comics artist, Piotr Kowalski, depicts a urban megalopolis, where our hero has hung up his mask and cape, retired from public life and adjusting to being a regular citizen in a world of crime, corruption, sin and "Sex". Casey digging deep into some of the costume/play/fetish involved in that world paradoxically juxtaposed with it's puritanical vigilante-ism. For anyone who's ever given thought to the weird, warped world of those who dress up superhero and act out being arbiters of justice, and found it a bit 'off', this one's going to be fun. On a related postmodern tip of examining the superhero genre from a as-yet unexplored angle, Mark Millar has come upon one of his rare quality ideas, that of the next generation of youth. After mom and dad (analogs for Wonder Woman and Superman) have saved the world innumerable times in the 20th Century, what kind of lives could they lead that would possibly compare? Celebrity media events? Charity balls? Fashion shoots? Product endorsements? The superhero youth of today lack their own cause when faced with "Jupiter's Legacy". Frank Quitely illustration work being about 70% of this books euphoria factor. It's been much, much, much too long since we saw the majesty of his art on a semi-monthly basis. If ever there were illustrative/fictional worlds positioned somewhere between Hayao Miyazaki's "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind", Ridley Scott's first "Alien" and (again, here's this point of reference) Jodorowsky's weirdo organic Cabalistic space epics, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy's "Prophet" would be it! Lastly, there's the book that brought me over to Image in the first place. Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips award winning Noir/Detective/Crime/Pulp renditions on "Incognito" and "Criminal" have been further expanded to include Weird Science, Ritualistic Magick and... yeah, well... Nazis, as "Fatale" keeps digging deeper and deeper into the 20th Century's most disturbed and disturbing historic fringes. From Hollywood's underbelly, to the Method Church to corrupt Cops and Mobsters and now back around to Nazi metaphysical divisions and the book's unexpected exploration of the 16th Century and Pioneer era America, they've created a prefect-pitch nightmare of Lovecraftian noir. That these works have all issues from he Image imprint, is both surprising, and welcome. Especially with DC and Marvel in the course of this past year choosing flash-in-the-pan commercial gimmicks and redundant reboots over the benefits of trusting in their creative teams to build substantial storytelling within their fictional universes. Their loss. Readership will go where talent, creativity and the rich rewards of artists who are invested in the depth and value of their work is not only appreciated, but the desired objective. The 'big two' have sacrificed this in a illusory market grab that will temporarily (at best) only reward their pockets. Me? I'm glad to have no part in it at all with the completion of both Jonathan Hickman's familial Cosmic Odyssey spanning the whole Marvel universe and Grant Morrison's seven-year-running plumbing of the depths (and heights) of the world's most popular comic franchise. Thank you Image for boldly stepping into the forum of even higher quality graphic arts storytelling! Your timing has been perfect.
Straight from New York Comic Con! Easily the biggest news in the world of comics in a decade? Two? Marvel will be reprinting Alan Moore and Neil Gaimain's groundbreaking 1980's-90's superhero book, Miracleman in 2014! First published serialized in the pages of the UK's Warrior Magazine, then reprinted in the US via independent publisher Eclipse Comics finally sees the light of day after decades of being relegated to the obscurity of then small print runs and the current labyrinthine legal morass (see below) that it's been mired in since Eclipse's bankruptcy in 1993. The book significant for not only being Moore's first work published stateside concurrently with his run on Swamp Thing for DC at the time, but also Neil Gaiman's 'big break' as it were, after being personally selected by Moore to follow his 16 issue run. Lending the book even greater significance, it is regularly cited as the first postmodern superhero book, all the self-awareness, real-world realism and socio-political consciousness that implies. A startling, inventive approach at the time for it's meta-recycling of the original 'Golden Age' material from the 1950's into a contemporary, epic re-contextualization. Without this book, the ground it broke and the raising of both it's author's profiles within American comics, there might not have been a "Watchmen" or a "Sandman". Certainly not as the late-80's 'British Invasion' and the founding of the Vertigo imprint and the creative revitalization of comics as a medium they enabled. It's that important a comic. What makes this announcement even that much more notable, not only will "Miracleman" be restored from original art negatives, and printed to higher standard than it was originally published, but Neil Gaiman has announced he will complete his then-unfinished story with original artist Mark Buckingham. Ideal points of entry into this work include Julian Darius' meticulously researched "Why Miracleman Matters" and the immensity of his methodical ongoing re-read, analysis and annotations project for SequentialArt. As a companion piece, sci-fi publishing giant TOR, have a series dedicated to the same endeavor, Tim Callahan's The Great Alan Moore Re-Read: "Miracleman" - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4. These both touching on the genuine groundbreaking graphic arts adventure and exercise in narrative innovation more readers will now be able to partake in for the first time in almost two decades!
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Claire Denis' new film "Bastards" & Andrei Tarkovsky's "Nostalghia" at Northwest
Film Forum: Nov 15 - 21 | Edward Nikolaevich Artemiev, "Solaris" & The ANS
Two essential pieces of cinema come to Northwest Film Forum this month, the first a classic by a 20th Century master, Andrei Tarkoysky's "Nostalghia", the second a contemporary classic-in-the-making, Claire Denis' "Bastards". Thematically all over the place, from libido monstrosities gone amok, to male camaraderie in the French Foreign Legion, to post-Colonial aftermath in both Africa at at home in modern day Paris, one of the only constants of Denis' filmography is that it all navigates the space between traditional narrative and more structurally adventurous cinema. At times not quite hitting the balance between these two forms, such as 2005's "The Intruder" she just as often nails it in a manner exceeded by few in all of modern filmmaking, like that of 2008's near-masterpiece on class, race, urban life, light and motion that was "35 Shots of Rum". Another constant of her work, one that she shares with the best of her peers, (think Lynch, McQueen, Pen-Ek) is the elliptical nature of it's narrative and visual structure. Looping back on itself, projecting ahead, fusing impression, experience and dream, "Bastards" brings it's audience deep into the nightmare of one family's decomposition from the inside with it's contact with power, corruption and an immoral elite. Making for what Eric Hynes amusingly calls "Family Films of a Very Different Sort", the atmospheres of tension, suspicion and threat alluded to by the trailer are mined to mind-altering effect. This is a film more than just a tale of what Manohla Dargis calls "Families, and Money, With More Than One Complication", and instead a richly atmospheric, complexly structured neo-Noir thriller of the first rate. These themes explored through the abundance of words lavished on and about the film in Nick Pinkerton's Claire Denis interview, Max Nelson's review and Jonathan Romney's Film of the Week pick for Film Comment.
More difficult to codify, the later masterpiece by Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky, probably best known for his mid-period allegorical science fiction films, "Stalker" and "Solaris" the latter a fairly true, yet more yearningly romantic and metaphysical adaptation of the novel by Stanislaw Lem the former's screenplay written by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, loosely based on their novel "Roadside Picnic". But beyond these few genre-film vehicles, Tarkovsky's cinema was a deeply personal exploration of the question of existence itself, from the semi-autobiographical "Mirror" to later works like "Nostalghia" which was made in exile, with Tarkovsky leaving Russia for what he then hoped were more conducive climes for his work in mainland Europe. Even then the Soviet influence was strong on his work, most apparent in 1983 when "Nostalghia" premiered at Cannes, Soviet authorities prevented the film from winning the Palme d'Or, the Cannes committee in response awarding the work both Best Director and the FIPRESCI Prize. Tarkovsky's later-life battle with these influences, even in exile, documented in Peter Lang's "Border Crossings: Mapping Identities in Modern Europe". This new restored print thanks to Kino Lorber screening to great praise in last year's New York Film Festival 50th Anniversary Retrospective and earlier this year as part of BAM Cinématek's Russian Cinema Now series. An overview of his films defining role in modern cinema and the indelible effect of these works probably best conveyed by Senses of Cinema's Great Director's feature on Tarkovsky. For those looking to explore his work further, the Nostalghia site hosted by the University of Calgary being one of the deepest and most well-maintained archive of essays, images, criticism and related media to the the Russian director's work. And with Kino, Criterion and Artificial Eye seemingly in competitive overdrive to release, refurbish and represent his staggering decades-defining works, this is a very good time to discover these films indeed. Criterion also playing host to a series of essays by some of the world's foremost film critics, including Phillip Lopate's "Solaris: Inner Space", J.Hoberman on Andrei Rublev and Dina Iordanova's, "Ivan’s Childhood: Dream Come True". The new century also seeing a number of significant works in print related to the Russian auteur, Black Dog Publishing's substantial "Tarkovsky" and more recently the hauntingly beautiful collected Polaroid work of the director himself, Thames & Hudson's "Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids". Image, space, time and narrative making up the larger substance of the body of Tarkovsky's work, but their distinct audio design, aural atmosphere and soundtrack scores are essential, defining elements of the whole. Almost exclusively composed and designed by Edward Artemiev and sometimes collaborator Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov, one of their most memorable works, that of the "Solaris" score, constructed on the technological/cultural obscurity that is Evgeny Murzin's ANS Synthesizer. Currently housed in the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture Moscow, this Photoelectrichesky Sintezator Muziki named after Murzin's favorite composer, Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin even among the rare and few ‘graphical sound’ synthesizers built in the 20th Century, the ANS is a genuine one-of-a-kind... or more accurately, one of two-of-a-kind. There's no better a overview on it's wonders, creative history and strikingly anomalous nature than Max Cole's piece of last year, "Synth-Aesthesia: Soviet Synths And The ANS". This Fall sees the first-ever official sanctioned release of the "Solaris" score on LP in the west. Sourced from the original masters and authorized by the estate and Tarkovsky's son, on the justly-named Superior Viaduct label.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Tim Hecker & Christopher Bissonnette Immersound_SEA at Chapel Performance Space: Nov 8 | Morton Subotnick & Lillevan perform "From Silver Apples of the Moon to a Sky of Cloudless Sulphur" at Town Hall: Nov 9
What will likely be some of the music/live highlights of the year, the second weekend in November features performances by Canada's electronics and electric guitar noise sculptor, Tim Hecker and mid-Century early electronic composer Morton Subotnick. Both making 'immersion' the focus of their live actualizations, more than just a conceptual statement of intent with the work, they will both feature live multi-channel surround sound mixes of their works. The host for Seattle's Christopher Bissonnette and Tim Hecker installment in the Immersound series, Montreal's Shibui-Oto collective will be presenting the night's work in 6.1 surround, their philosophy of designing experiential spaces and environs described in the Immersound mission statement. This approach will particularly benefit Tim Hecker's newest, "Virgins" realized with a larger ensemble of performers, including Iceland's Ben Frost over the course of multiple recording sessions, it's a torrential, squal of mangled, multitude of disembodied instrumental voices, which should be made that much more outstanding in a multi-channel context.
Of even greater cultural/historic significance, Morton Subotnick's contribution to early electronic music, almost exclusively for/with the Buchla Electronic Musical Instrument designed by Don Buchla for the San Francisco Tape Music Center was cemented with his seminal 1967 piece "Silver Apples of the Moon" and later pieces like 1978's, "A Sky of Cloudless Sulfur". The exception to much electronic music at the time, which was predominantly composed from Musique Concrete tape-manipulated sounds and Sine-wave generators, Subotnick was among the first to work in the real of pure electronic sounds. For deeper reading on the context, time and technology, RBMA's Key Tracks feature by Subotnick himself goes some way to describe the projection of future forms and and the invention of the technology of their creation at San Francisco Tape Music Center and contemporaries at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. For Seattle's performance at Town Hall he presents the same hybrid of these two works as seen at Unsound Festival in 2011. A multimedia collaboration with media artist Lillevan "From Silver Apples of the Moon to a Sky of Cloudless Sulphur" was not only a highlight of that year's festival, but I'd say up there somewhere in the totality of my personal experience with live audio-visual performance. Both immersive and environmental as well as bracingly dynamic and visceral, it is one of those rare synergies of sound and image that create a complete sensory experience, one that's as 'of it's time' as it is startlingly contemporary.
Photo credit: Adam Kissick
Saturday, October 19, 2013
One of the rarest major works of the past four decades by a director without whom there'd likely be no David Lynch or Charlie Kaufman, the operator in the shadows of the French New Wave, Jacques Rivette. Best known in English speaking cultural spheres for his dreamy, non-sequitur, political, feminist, "Celine and Julie Go Boating" along with "Le Pont du Nord" of a decade later, which has seen a lot of press in the subsequent year since the rerelease of a new restored print in theaters, like that of Max Nelson's "Rep Diary: Le Pont du Nord" for Film Comment. The parallels between Rivette and Lynch's work made explicit in Dennis Lim's "A Winding Trip Reverberates in Cinema" and the rediscovery off his film seen as a path forward for all of contemporary cinema in David Thomson's "Come and See" for Sight & Sound. For many cineastes though, certainly fans of the New Wave, Rivette's "OUT 1: Noli me Tangere" represents THE holy grail. A nearly thirteen hour loose (this is the New Wave after all) adaptation of Balzac’s "L'Histoire des Treize" from his "La Comédie Humaine" like that of "Celine..." and "Le Pont..." the film centers on Rivette's central obsessions: conspiracy, community, theater, games, multiple personifications, illusion and madness. The extended duration, oblique themes and non-linear dreamlike construction no doubt working against it's larger release, even in the more conducive cultural/cinema environs of the early 1970's. So much so that "OUT 1: Noli me Tangere" has been screened in it's totality on so few occasions, that they can be counted here. When French television turned down the complete thirteen hour version, Rivette created a four hour reconstruction, "OUT 1: Spectre" which focuses more intensively on the intertwining tales of the two featured rival theater companies and central mysterious Cabal. Literally one of the only chances to see it that decade, (on home video, online, in the theater, or otherwise), this shorter reconstructed version screened at Northwest Film Forum as part of their "Lighter Than Air: The Films of Jacques Rivette" retrospective in 2007. The mythic, ultra-obscure, 'unviewable' status now ends for this significant work in the whole of the New Wave's ouvreur with Absolut Medien's box set release of "OUT 1: Noli me Taneger / Spectre".
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Rodrigues & Guerra da Mata's "The Last Time I Saw Macao" | Abdellatif Kechiche's "Blue is the Warmest Color", Ashim Ahluwalia's "Miss Lovely", Ulrich Seidle's "Paradise: Hope", Paolo Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty" | Steve McQueen's "Twelve Years A Slave" at Northwest Film Forum, SIFF Cinema & Landmark Theatres: Oct 24 - Nov 28
Abundance of quality cinema in the coming week(s) scattered across the calendars of Northwest Film Forum, SIFF and Landmark Theatres! Including one of the more confounding discoveries of last year, Joaõ Pedro Rodrigues & Joaõ Rui Guerra da Mata's post-Colonial Portuguese/Chinese, "The Last Time I Saw Macao". As much about the hidden life of the city as it's inhabitants, (Macao being one of China's 'Special Administrative Regions' along with Hong Kong) it's hybrid in-between-ness as neither a drama nor a genuine documentary described in Jonathan Romney's review for Film Comment and Manohla Dargis' "In a Cultural and Sexual Netherland, Gaudy and Unsettling". With an even deeper exploration in the pages of Cinema Scope as Aaron Cutler hosts an interview with it's directors.
That same weekend SIFF begins their second-annual contemporary Francophone cinema series, French Cinema Now. The highlight of which being Abdellatif Kechiche's, Cannes Palme d'Or winning "Blue is the Warmest Color" (aka "The Life of Adèle: Chapters 1 & 2") with a theatrical run following at Landmark Theatres in November. Lauded for it's cinematography, unglamorized physical intimacy and emotional rawness, the film has been equally critically chastised for the inherent sexuality it depicts. Film Comment rated it amongst Cannes best offerings with the source of the controversy surrounding the film's concerns decoded in Eric Hynes "Explorations in Identity and Pleasure" for the New York Times. There's also the preposterous matter of firstly the MPAA's rating given to the film, and second, the Parents Television Council's response to IFC's choice in screening it documented in Sarah-Jane Stratford's "Conservative Americans are More Terrified of Sex than Violence" and a critical response to the claims of the depictions of corporeal intimacy verging on the pornographic in Peter Bradshaw's "Blue Is the Warmest Colour is Too Moving to be Porn" for the Guardian UK. And then there's the dissenting opinion offered by Manohla Dargis, who at the time of the Cannes screening wrote some 400 critical words on the subject, arguing that "It isn't Sex that Makes Blue Is the Warmest Color Problematic: it's the Patriarchal Anxieties about Sex, Female Appetite and Maternity". Other highlights of the series include Mahamat-Saleh Haroun newest drama set within post-Colonial Africa, "Gris Gris", Jean-Christophe Dessaint's lushly animated, "Day of the Crows" and Bruno Dumont's telling of the life story of "Camille Claudel". This past month the Seattle South Asian Film Festival also took up residence at SIFF, delivering a real stunner in the form of the genre, musical, horror, gender, cultural commentary drama mashup that was Ashim Ahluwalia's excellent "Miss Lovely". SIFF also continues to host Ulrich Seidle's Paradise Trilogy, easily a personal highlight of this year's festival, it's conflicting humanism and scathing critique Nicolas Rapold described in the New York Times as "Messy Humanity, Warts, Dreams and All", the trilogy returns this month with it's final installment, "Paradise: Hope".
SIFF's next big series the following month, Cinema Italian Style, features another notable entry from this year's Cannes that of Paolo Sorrentino's (director of "The Consequences of Love" & "Il Divo"), "The Great Beauty" (again, with a theatrical run to follow at Landmark Theatres). Sorrentino's vision of modern Italian culture Rachel Donadio equates with a full-blooded "La Dolce Vita Gone Sour (and This Time in Color)", interpreted with a bit more generous sensibility for it's darkly romantic core, in Manohla Dargis' "The Glory of Rome, the Sweetness of Life" and considered a metaphor for Italy as a whole in the post-Silvio Berlusconi era, the growing divide between traditions of decadence and the age of austerity, Rome's surreal paradoxes posited as a encapsulation of the European Crisis in Roger Cohen's excellent editorial, "The Great Desperation". Other notables in the series include Bernardo Bertolucci's return after a nine year hiatus, "Me & You" and a new print of Luchino Visconti's 1965 classic, "Sandra". And coming to both SIFF and Landmark Theatres the newest from Steve McQueen, (director of the outstanding political drama debut, "Hunger" and it's psychological/sexual follow-up, "Shame"), returns with his unflinching gaze turned on race and America's history of slavery, with "Twelve Years A Slave". Graham Fuller's cover feature in the September/October issue of Film Comment and extensive interviews with the film's director in the pages of the Guardian UK and the New York Times who also featured a larger A.O. Scott piece on a half-century of race in cinema, "Never-Ending Story: 'Conversation About Race' Has Not Brought Cultural Consensus".
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Like every year, October and November mark (make?) the season with months of improv, jazz, neoclassical and on occasion, the avant-garde presented by Earshot Jazz Festival and the accompanying documentary series hosted by Northwest Film Forum, Earshot Jazz Films. Though very little of the Japanese or Scandinavian Free-Jazz that makes up the largest part of my personal listening and priority in the world of the genre, the festival still has a number of highlights this year. The Cat O’ Nine Tails ensemble named after, and performing, the piece by John Zorn, local guitar legend Bill Frisell with the usual suspects including pianist Robin Holcomb, Jim Woodring and electric violist wizard, Eyvind Kang, Chicago Sax lead-man, head numerous hard hitting Free-Jazz ensembles Ken Vandermark & Nate Wooley, ECM's main staple Keith Jarrett, with Gary Peacock & Jack DeJohnette. American minimalist Philip Glass in rare solo mode and most significantly to these ears, the (still going strong as his lengthy two-part interview in The Wire revealed) 'saxophone colossus' Peter Brötzmann who's "Soldier of the Road" was one of the great artist documentaries of this past year, in an idyllic matching with Mats Gustafsson collaborator and Smalltown Supersound and Rune Grammofon label driving percussion force, Paal Nilssen-Love.
Photo credit: Maurizio Zorzi
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Godflesh & Goblin US Tours: Oct 1 - 27 | Jesu's new album "Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came" released Sept 23 | UPDATE: Godflesh reschedule Tour
In addition to yesterday's post on the cinema of the season, coming up the week(s) before All Hallows' Eve at Neumos are some of the heaviest, darkest and most baleful sounds to hit the west coast in many a year! Not equaled since 'Metalvember 2007', where SUNN O))), Gravetemple Trio, Oren Ambarchi and Jesu performed all within a few weeks. This season we get the first-ever west coast tour of Italian Psych-prog outfit, Goblin. Yes, the original Goblin, creators of the soundtracks to some of Dario Argento's defining pieces of Giallo Horror, namely "Deep Red" and "Suspiria". An indispensable ingredient in the makings of 1970's Italian Horror and Psychedelic exploitation cinema, Now 40 years later I've no idea what we should expect of this show, from all reports the sold-out NYC shows were outstanding but this is of course from decades-long fans who are being given their first opportunity to see the band live. Will no doubt be at least a curious/weird/psych time!
Of greater interest to me personally, the out-of-nowhere revival of one of the all-time defining Metal acts of the 1980's-90's, Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green's Godflesh reform to play some of the most punishing, loud, assaulting music made by man and machine. If this sounds like hyperbole, then it's safe to say you weren't at the shows on one of their last tours at the time for the "Songs of Love and Hate" album in 1996. An album at the time making 'Albums of the Year' lists for magazines as disparate as Terrorizer and The Wire. This was a convergence of the purity Metal assault of earlier Godflesh with a growing fascination with the weighty rhythms and hooks of Dub and Hip Hop that later came to inform Justin Broadrick's splinter project with The Bug's Kevin Martin as Techno Animal. Their new material promises to be a return to the era of just straight-up punishing Metal/Industrial assault, ala "Pure" and "Streetcleaner", with a forthcoming album in the works tentatively titled "A World Lit Only by Fire". Broadrick gave a recent in-depth, personal interview with Pelican's Trevor de Brauw discussing his new solo work under the Jesu moniker, "Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came" and the past, present and future of Godflesh, "When Pelican Met Jesu", that's pretty much essential reading for any fans of contemporary Metal. Update: Due to Visa delays related to government shutdown, Godflesh have had to reschedule tour.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
David Lynch's "Lost Highway" at Harvard Exit, Grand Illusion Cinema's 'The
Horror of All Monsters Attack' & Cinerama's 'Horror Week' Oct 12 - Nov 2
Abundance of horror and genre flicks at cinemas all across town this month! Saturday at the Harvard Exit, next week at the Grand Illusion and the week after at the Cinerama. As the continuation of Landmark Theaters midnight movie series with the closing of the Egyptian Theater, the Harvard Exit now plays host with screenings on Saturdays. This being the season for all things gloomy and crepuscularly spooky, they've brought the horror and psychological suspense this month. The highlight of which, a rare screening of David Lynch's lopsided neo-Noir from the late 1990's, "Lost Highway". A film of halves, both thematically, narratively and qualitatively, it's split-persona structure later refined to much greater effect on Lynch's following masterpiece, "Mulholland Drive". For shear atmospheric tension though, Lost Highway's opening chapter stands as a pinnacle of all things that make the work of this American auteur great; beguiling ambiguity, impenetrable mystery, high tension, terrifying subjectivity, nightmare worlds intersecting with our own as in a dream. A compromised protagonist in a world beyond his comprehension, 'a man in trouble'. The diminished strength of it's second chapter can be accredited to some degree to it's young star, Balthazar Getty as Bill Pullman's (aka Fred Madison's) alter-self. The section saved by Patricia Arquette as a convincing modernization of the Femme Fatale and as with every Lynch film, a metaphysical(?) antagonist in the form of Robert Blake's warped 'Mystery Man'. A nice little bonus of the film was one of David Bowie's finest tracks post-1970's supplied with the credit sequence song, "I'm Deranged".
There isn't enough in the way of All Hallows' Eve theme and/or revival series, which is a shame as this truly the season for genre cinema and it's frights, atmosphere and surrealism. One of the only (and longest running) has been The Grand Illusion Cinema's annual October-long All Monsters Attack calendar of horror, thrillers sci-fi and fantasy. This year's installment titled The Horror of All Monsters Attack featuring the usual 70's/80's schlock and genre gems, including this time around, the absurd hyperviolence of both installments of "Maniac Cop" and the three Lucio Fulci films inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, "Zombi", "City of the Living Dead" and "The Beyond", also there's the 80's gothy horror-fantasy of Clive Barker's original "Hellraiser" and the late-70's preposterous sci-fi of Giulio Paradisi's mashup of "The Omen" and "Close Encounters of a Third Kind" that is "The Visitor". Capping it all off, the annual collaboration with Scarecrow Video and their offerings of obscure, unreleased, out-of-print, super-rarities in their The VCR That Dripped Blood 2: Undead Media night! While we're here, lets talk the incomparable one-of-a-kind resource that is Scarecrow, and how if you live in this city and are a fan of cinema (regardless of genre, style or class) it's essentially your cultural obligation to ensure their doors stay open for business. With nearly 130,000 films in their catalog, many out of print, foreign releases or ultra-rare editions, there is no singular online resource that will ever compare.
Lastly! We get Horror Week spanning October 25 - 31 with screenings on the massive Cinerama screen/soundsystem of such prime works of the genre as Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness" the new expanded, restored cut of Robin Hardy's neo-Pagan classic, "The Wicker Man", Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" back in theaters again this year, one of John Carpenter's finest hours with his remake, the 1980's pinnacle of the genre, "The Thing". Another masterpiece of that decade, the first and the best, Ridley Scott's original "Alien" and less qualitative, but still quite fun, Richard Donner's "The Omen".
Saturday, September 14, 2013
The end of Summer rolls around again as Seattle plays host to the second-largest electronic music festival in the United States! Hard to believe, 2003, the first year Sean Horton and crew, inspired by years of attending Mutek in that gorgeous city of Montreal, conceived assembling something of it's kin on the west coast, and Decibel Festival of Electronic Music and Visual Media was born. This year celebrating their 10 Year Anniversary with not only bigger names, and larger venues hosting sold out dancefloor spectacles, but a return of the fringe, adventurous and unclassifiable in the form of 4 Optical Showcases of multi-media arts, abstract and experimental sounds, in seated theater performance venues. WEDNESDAY Opening night begins with the spacial sonic installation work of Mileece in the lush setting of the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a showcase of Factory Pop to follow at Neumos, with Peter Hook performing classics from New Order's "Power, Corruption & Lies" and "Movement" along with Chicago's electro-pop pioneers, Adult. Across town the abstract hip-hop beats of Ninja Tune's Blockhead and Wax Taylor can be heard at the Showbox and by night's end, the heavy bassbin assault of London's Hyperdub label bringing you label founder, Kode9's particular fusion of Reggae, Dub, Electronic and Bass Music. Labelmates Ikonika and DJ Spinn round out the bill. THURSDAY Decibel's second night starting off a slow, gorgeous ramp-up rather than an explosive bang, we get the first of the Optical 1: Kollaborations at Nordstrom Recital Hall featuring neoclassical composer Hauschka and collaborative project from piano virtuoso Nils Frahm and Portland's electro-acoustic folkie, Peter Broderick as Oliveray. Afterwards across town the always excellent Resident Advisor hosts a showcase of that artist we were denied in last year's Decibel, Actress, with Lapalux and Natasha Kmeto supporting. Back up the hill at Chop Suey the solid roster on the Tri Angle label shows their stuff, with Vessel and the dark hip-hop and dub assault of Evian Christ, while at Neumos, Shabazz Palaces represents for Sub Pop's 25th Anniversary at night's end. FRIDAY The weekend begins with Optical 2 again in the prime acoustic setting of the Nordstrom Recital Hall, Friday's showcase being all things Erased Tapes label, with a second solo performance of Berlin's Nils Frahm and Icelandic chamber music composer, Olafur Arnalds. Across town at the Crocodile, Ghostly International celebrate their own 10 year anniversary contributing to Decibel, having been a significant part of the festival since it's inception, this year presenting Shigeto, Lusine, Dauwd and Beacon. Away across the no-man's expanse, the South-of-Downtown Showbox hosts the Cosmische inspired tech-disco of Nicolas Jaar and friends, Warp's Mount Kimbie and Phaelah. Simultaneously, more Ninja Tune beats can be heard at the downtown Showbox WTF Showcase with Machinedrum and XXYYXX. If you're not exhausted yet, Q will supply the delirious Afterhours barrage of Speedy J and multi-media artist extraordinaire, Scott Pagano pushing all levels into the red. SATURDAY If Friday hasn't already inspired bodily transcendence, the second weekend night is almost certain to be threshold defining, as it's a looong and diverse one. Beginning with Optical 3: Night Vessel featuring the vamp chanteuse, Zola Jesus and symphonic/big band composer, Jim Thirlwell with the psych/noise abstraction of Margaret Chardiet's Pharmakon. Decibel in the Park will again be a smaller affair this year, basically the ambient 'framing' for the festival's will-call at the Broadway Performance Hall. Speaking of anniversaries and longevity, Thomas Fehlmann and Alex Paterson return! Joined by fellow Cosmic Adventurer Detroit's Juan Atkins across town at the Showbox. Again simultaneous at Showbox Sodo, the Ragga, Rhymes, Beats and Bass of the Mad Decent label will be unleashing their low-frequency barrage. If you're running on superhuman reserves by this point, there's a double-thrashing of alfterhours on offer with Derrick Carter representing for Mixmag at Q and yet another anniversary! The 20th in fact, for Berlin's era-defining techno label Kompakt at Neumos, featuring a second solo set by Thomas Fehlmann, Matias Aguayo and John Tejada... ending at 6:30am. Yes, you read that right. SUNDAY Closing day performances begin with what will likely be a personal highlight of the whole festival, Optical 4: Black Noise featuring the Warp records-meets-Constellation label electro-acoustic dirge, percussion and bass of the UK's Raime, Australian bass, noise and Metal maestro Oren Ambarchi and Seattle's own Rafael Anton Irisarri as The Sight Below at the Triple Door. Across downtown at the Crocodile more stylings of the Brainfeeder, Ninja Tune and Timetable labels with Nosaj Thing, Teebs and the bass n' gloom thrum of Lorn likely being the last venue I find myself in, at the end of a 5 day odyssey. By this point, I'm sure myself and company will be needing a good lay-down in the park, getting some sun and enjoying a trek out around the city, having seen the inside of performance halls and nightclubs over the previous five glorious nights. Hopefully having found some surprises, shocks, jolts to the viscera and intellect along the way, Decibel will by then seem like a endless stream of cultural ideal, made real. And as with every year, I'm sure it will seem premature by the time it's conclusion comes. Ushering in the end of Summer here in the Northwest as it does every year since 2004.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Issue Project Room '10 Years Alive on the Infinite Plane' - Brooklyn: Aug 31 - Oct 26
Stars of the Lid US Tour & Kranky Records 20th Anniversary - Chicago: Dec 12 - 15
Some big anniversaries for underground music this Fall/Winter! The first for an exceptional organization and curatorial venture, that of Brooklyn's Issue Project Room celebrating their Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plane with 24 performances throughout the Fall. Spanning everything from Syrian psych/soul jams by Omar Souleyman, to minimalist/maximmalist composer Charlemagne Palestine, to folky/drone experiments by Richard Youngs, to field recordist and sound-ecologist Toshiya Tsunoda, to American minimalist/Deep Listening composer Pauline Oliveros, to legendary jazz bassist Henry Grimes, to Australian guitar/noise maestro Oren Ambarchi, to modern jazz headman Ken Vandermark to Japanese Fluxus noise adventurer Yasunao Tone, to Dream Syndicate founder and groundbreaking avant-composer and filmmaker Tony Conrad, to minimalist concrete/tape composers Aki Onda and William Basinski, to minimalist electronic composer Marina Rosenfeld and many, many. many more. It's a stunning lineup, drawing from the past decade of their brilliant curatorial vision. Let's not forget, this is the organization that brought us this past year's highlight, the rarity that was their overview of the Japanese Underground "Voices & Echoes" and that's only a small part of their decade of visionary programming covered in Steve Smith's "A Survivor Celebrates It's Spunk and Spirit" for the New York Times.
Photo credit: Yamchild
The second anniversary bash being for Chicago's Kranky label, the visionaries that first brought stateside releases of everything from Low, to Labradford, to Godspeed! You Black Emperor, celebrate their 20th Anniversary this December in their home city. Between now and then there's a handful of Kranky artist releases to look forward to, most notably the one-man Canadian electronic/guitar hurricane, Tim Hecker and his newest, "Virgins" and this Fall's release of Liz Harris' Grouper new project with the proprietor of Australia's Room40 label, Lawrence English as "Slow Walkers". The festival featuring showcases with almost every single damn artist on their roster, it's going to be a big one, especially if you missed the last rare performance of Stars of the Lid on their last tour back in 2008. The first night's showcase at Empty Bottle presents Robert A.A. Lowe's Lichens along with Implodes and a as-yet announced headliner, the following two nights at Constellation being bigger affairs, with Grouper, Benoit Pioulard, Christopher Bissonnette and Justin Walker. Followed by the third showcase of Tim Hecker, Pan American, Keith Fullerton Whitman and Ken Kamden. with the final night's performance of Stars of the Lid with the Wordless Music Orchestra and Scott Morgan's Loscil project in the prime setting of Lincoln Hall. Photo credit: Greg Cristman