Sunday, July 12, 2015

Inaugural Seattle Art Fair at CenturyLink Event Center & "Out of Sight: A Survey of Contemporary Art in the Pacific Northwest" at King Street Station: Jul 30 - Aug 2



There's been a lot of speculation as to what form the inaugural Seattle Art Fair will take, with no small supply of skepticism expressed in local circles concerning it being another of Paul Allen's pet cultural projects, both for the good and the bad. Amidst all the regional dialog, there's a confounding dearth of national or international reportage to be found outside pieces like Brian Boucher's "Why Are Gagosian, Pace, and Zwirner Signing On for the Seattle Art Fair?" and The Observer's "Paul Kasmin and Pace Gallery Join the Inaugural Seattle Art Fair". Both of which are more discussions of the art market and the inclusion of some of the gallery world's international power players, than insight into the fair's content and curatorial mission. Sponsored by Paul Allen's Vulcan with Max Fishko of Art Market Productions as programming director, the fair's press release makes it out to be half-commercial gallery, half-curated exhibition, featuring some 60 galleries representing local to international dealers with an emphasis on the West Coast and Pacific Rim. The fair has also drawn several Asian galleries, including Kaikai Kiki and Koki Arts from Tokyo, along with Gana Art of Seoul and Osage Gallery from Hong Kong. It's other facet will be a series of lectures and temporary exhibitions by individual artists at locations across the city at indoor and outdoor venues. The inclusion of citywide off-site projects and events inspired in-part by Allen's experiences visiting biennales around the world, particularly as he claims, that of Venice.

Of more outwardly credible standing, the concurrently running collateral event at King Street Station "Out of Sight: A Survey of Contemporary Art in the Pacific Northwest" curated by the quartet of Kirsten Anderson and Sharon Arnold of Roq La Rue and Length x Width x Height along with Seattle artist Greg Lundgren and Sierra Stinson, founder of Vignettes for Vital 5 Productions, is a 24,000 square-foot survey of contemporary art that reads like a who's-who of the best work seen about the city in the past decade. That list of Northwest talent includes; Julie Alexander, Julie Alpert, Megumi Shauna Arai, Rick Araluce, JD Banke, Baso, Crystal Barbre, Joey Bates, Jared Bender, Gretchen Bennett, Gala Bent, Zack Bent, Colleen Bratton, John Brophy, Jazz Brown, Bette Burgoyne, Tim Cross, Casey Curran, Sue Danielsen, Jack Daws, Jed Dunkerley, Warren Dykeman, Debbie Faas, Leiv Fagereng, Julia Freeman, Erin Frost, Neal Fryett, Scott Foldesi, Klara Glosova, Mandy Greer, Colleen Hayward, Laura Hamje, Robert Hardgrave, Julia Hensley, Jesse Higman, Jeff Jacobsen, Claire Johnson, Ken Kelly, Patrick Kelly, Izzie Klingles, Kirk Lang, Michael Leavitt, Rich Lehl, Margie Livingston, Francesca Lohmann, Amanda Manitach, Chris McMullen, Jennifer McNeely, Katie Metz, Steven Miller, Ryan Molenkamp, Scott Musgrove, Matthew Offenbacher, Joe Park, Mary Ann Peters, Jason Puccinelli, Cheyenne Randall, Tivon Rice, Ashleigh Rose Robb, Serrah Russell, Sail, Joe Schlicta, Rafael Soldi, Kellie Talbot, Polina Tereshina, Barbara Earl Thomas, Chris Thompson, Kimberly Trowbridge, Joey Veltkamp, Redd Walitzki, Tariqa Waters, Casey Weldon, Chandler Woodfin, Robert Yoder, Claude Zervas and Jennifer Zwick.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cannes Film Festival + Cinema Miscellanea



The summer issues of Sight & Sound and Film Comment have landed, and with them their respective overviews of this year's Cannes Film Festival and it's four major aspects; the Competition and this year's award winners, the Camera d'Or, Critics Week and the Director's Fortnight. Covered in-depth by some of the most established names in film journalism, including Amy Taubin's "Setting Sun: Despite Glorious Films the Specter of the Death of Cinema was Never Far" on cinema-as-film's diminishing role seen at Cannes. With the DCP becoming the established projection norm at the world's premier film festival, even for great auteurs who's work continues to be shot on celluloid. There was also some question concerning vision and programming when superior Hollywood crowd-pleasers like George Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road", though a masterfully edited and kinetic sensorial onslaught, was still being cited as one of the truly great films seen by the festival's 11th day. With many of the initial offerings by expected directors quite-good-but-minor, or left out of competition entirely in the Director's Fortnight, Gavin Smith asks if these conditions are simply a sign of the times, or is art cinema on the ropes, "Sins of Omission: With Obvious Exceptions, La Programmation Wasn't Great". His sentiment mirrored in the New York Times coverage by Manohla Dargis "At Cannes Film Festival, Good Sometimes isn’t Enough". Further plumbing the divide between the delights of quality entertainment and the richness of art cinema, Laura Kern 's "Slumming It: Days and Nights in the Market" explores the festival's underbelly of low-profile, indie, pulp and genre treats running the spectrum of savage horror films, sleazy thrillers, sci-fi oddities, and other assorted uncharted questionables.

Transcending what Smith referred to as those "quite-good-but-minor" works, Jacques Audiard's "Dheepan" tackles migrant integration in central Europe in his characteristically workmanlike and absorbing fashion as a highly charged thriller. Yet many felt it being awarded the Palme d'Or was a snub to greater films seen. Other highlights include Yorgos Lanthimos Jury Prize-winning Kafka meets H.G. Wells allegory, "The Lobster", the best Best Actress award going to Todd Haynes adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's "Carol" and the Un Certain Regard prize graced Grímur Hakonarson's tale of brotherly hatred between hermit farmers in "Rams". In the same program, Romania's Corneliu Porumboiu earned the Talent Prize for his "The Treasure" and the Directing Prize went to Kiyoshi Kurosawa, apparently back on form with a altogether different spin on the Japanese ghost tale. Kurosawa's exploration of modern unease has taken a more refined turn since 2008's "Tokyo Sonata", a path he continues down with "Journey to the Shore". Rounding out the prize selections, the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize went to Dalibor Matanic's "The High Sun" and the festival's cinematography award, the Caméra d'Or to César Augusto Acevedo for "La Tierra Y La Sombra". Not prize winning, but no less notable for it, Jia Zhang-Ke's "Mountains May Depart" continues his commentary on China's shifting cultural-economic alignment as a extremely ambitious, albeit microcosmic depiction of that nation's rapid transformation. Japan's mainstays of contemporary arthouse familial drama, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Naomi Kawase delivered "Our Little Sister" and "An", with varying degrees of success.

More significant works were relegated to out-of-competition status due to their inclusion in the richly populated Director's Fortnight section this year. Among them were Arnaud Desplechin's intricate memory piece, "My Golden Days" and Philippe Faucon's "Fatima" based on the first person prose of Fatima Elayoubi. Other stand-outs include Stéphane Brize's bleakly dispassionate monitoring of an unemployed European everyman (for which Vincent Lindon won the Best Actor prize) in, "The Measure of a Man" and Ida Panahandeh brought fresh insight to the familiar subject of divorce Iranian-style in, "Nahid". The title of the long anticipated Kent Jones documentary says everything you need to know going into this one, "Hitchcock-Truffaut" is as intelligent and lively as you could hope, filled with memorable images to accompany the historic series of encounters as well as revelatory commentary from David Fincher and James Grey, among others. In disappointing turns, having fallen so far from one film to the next, Paolo Sorrentino's "Youth" apparently gave viewers a sense of what it must have been like to be cast out of Eden after having ascended to the sublime and rapturous heights of 2013's, "La Grande Bellezza". Another disappointment, though one that could be seen coming in the tipping of the balance at "Enter the Void"'s conclusion, Gaspar Noe's "Love" was a somewhat flaccid affair who's highlight was solely the gorgeous cinematography expressed through Benoit Debie's steamy, luminous palette. Almost as disappointing after the late-career surprise of "Paranoid Park", nothing favorable has come out of the festival concerning Gus Van Sant's "The Sea of Trees". 

Saving the best for last, the four films delivered this year by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, László Nemes and Miguel Gomes have been received with unparalleled enthusiasm across the festival's reportage. For Film Comment, there was Kent Jones' "Wonders to Behold: A Few Films Touched with Greatness Can Make All the Difference" on the sublime perfection of Hou Hsiao-Hsien's eight-years-in-the-wait period piece and Dennis Lim's reveling in Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Miguel Gomes' further refinement of their storytelling art, "Daydream Believers: Two 21st-Century Trailblazers Stole the Festival’s Thunder". Their sense of wonder at established auteurs on fabulous form was mirrored in the pages of Sight & Sound by Nick James' "Cannes: Hunting Season" and Isabel Stevens' "Cannes: An Affair to Remember". The four pieces focusing on Hou Hsiao-Hsien's sumptuous and oblique Best Director-winning spin on the wuxia genre, "The Assassin", László Nemes’ Grand Prix-winning Holocaust drama "Son of Saul" and Miguel Gomes' audacious three-part modern refashioning of folk tales from the Islamic Golden Age, "Arabian Nights - Volume 1, The Restless One" & "Arabian Nights - Volume 2, The Desolate One" & "Arabian Nights - Volume 3, The Enchanted One". Like Scheherazade, Gomes apparently has pulled out every storytelling trick in the book to span the film's epic 6 hour duration: prologues and epilogues, prolix voiceovers, obtuse framing devices, abundant on-screen titles and nested narratives within narratives. A director who's whole filmography deals in mystic parables couched within modern life, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Cemetery of Splendor" may lack wandering spirits in the night of the Thai jungle this time around, but it's mixing of the political, historic and the spiritual is told through a literally dreamy central metaphor. Sleep acting as a mysterious, uneasy bridge between the two worlds, the protagonists lead the viewer into a heightened sensory exercise of hypnotic motion and hushed sound as we observe their ambulations through neon-lit psychedelic jungle and Escher-like mazes of modern shopping complexes. All the while simultaneously turning increasingly Oneiric as it's political inflections sharpen.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tsai Ming-Liang's "Rebels of the Neon God" at SIFF Cinema: Jul 17 - 23



Later this month SIFF Cinema presents the directorial debut from the auteur at the heart of Taiwanese Cinema's Second Wave and programming director for the recent series of brilliant restorations of Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-Hsien by Central Motion Pictures, Tsai Ming-Liang has positioned himself at the vanguard of what's come to be known as the 'Slow Cinema' movement. From 1992's breakout film, "Rebels of the Neon God" Tsai would enrich his neon, spacial, melancholy vision of life in Taipei and Malaysia into a filmography of refined longing. It watches as foreshadowing of his stylistically established work of the later 1990's like "The River" and award-winning existential poetry of the early 2000's, "What Time is it There?" explored in interview by IndieWire for their "Cities and Loneliness: Tsai Ming-Liang's 'What Time Is It There?'". By this point having distinguished a cinematic voice of his own, he became the focus of Jared Rapfogel's excellent essay for Senses of Cinema, "Tsai Ming-Liang: Cinematic Painter". Yet some of Tsai's strongest, most characteristic work was to follow. 2003's deeply nostalgic meditation on time, cinema and the city, entirely set within a dilapidated theater in Taipei, "Goodbye, Dragon Inn" ranked on The Guardian's "10 Best Films about Films" and was the focus of of Senses of Cinema's Great Directors feature as well as Roger Clarke's "The Incomplete Tsai Ming-Liang" for Sight & Sound. Clark's classification of Tsai as "contemporary cinema's best poet of loneliness" came to fruition in the Malaysian night ambulations of 2006's "I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone" A.O. Scott's "Once Upon a Mattress, a Tone Poem Made Up of Moods" details it's yearning nocturnal quest for a sense of connectedness among the urban underclass.

Moving into an increasingly formalistic minimalism, 2013's "Stray Dogs" watches like a first feature-length effort at a new approach to dramaturgy. One that resembles neither traditional cinema or video art, but incorporates durational, editing and pacing considerations from both. This shift was first seen in his short digital works of recent years, the Tsai Ming-Liang & Lee Kang-Sheng Shorts showcase at the Rotterdam Film Festival pointing toward a new narrative hybrid from the director. More work has followed in this style, with the feature length 'walking' films that began with 2014's "Journey to the West" featuring Lee Kang-Sheng reprising his role as a Buddhist Monk traversing the western world on foot. “Rebels of the Neon God” tells a slighter, somewhat more conventional story than many of the films above, yet there's no mistaking it for anyone else’s work. Already fully formed in many ways, this early feature from two decades past contains many of what would become his trademarks. The unabated presence of water, the fraught family dynamics, the observational pacing, the lingering eroticization of the body, the directionless nighttime ambulations, the strange mixture of moodiness and slow-burn almost silent-slapstick, and of course, the presence of Tsai’s regular lead, the airily emotive Lee Kang-Sheng. New York City was the place to be this past April, Film Comment's Film of the Week review and Chen Huei-Yin's interview with the director coincided with Film Society at Lincoln Center's debut of the new restoration, running concurrently alongside the complete retrospective of Tsai's feature-length work at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Roy Andersson's new film "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence" at Northwest Film Forum: Jul 17 - 23



Last year's Golden Lion winner at the Venice Film Festival finally comes to the Northwest Film Forum for a weeklong run. The sixth film in almost 45 years by Swedish auteur Roy Andersson caries on from the macabre spectacle of the bizarre that made his Cannes Jury Prize winning "Songs from the Second Floor" so singular a work of cinema in the late 20th Century. The fantastical surrealism of Fellini, the wide-open alien austerity of Kubrick, the humor of Terry Gilliam and an impeccable sense of timing set within Andersson's own particular obsession for elaborate artificial worlds. Where "Songs from the Second Floor" was a genre-film defying observation on society's yearning for end times, 2007's "You, the Living" saw him move into territory that was more personal and anecdotal, yet retained his fixation with the macabre and absurd. This sensibility of dry, depressive, philosophically inflected humor strikes a balance that truly has no peers in contemporary cinema. After another many-year stretch, "Roy Andersson: Calling It as He Sees It -- in Great Detail" with “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence” which like the proceeding films of this trilogy, consists of a series of episodic accounts that illustrate, mostly, the futility and absurdity of life. What Andersson perceives as his humble attempt at depicting the human experience, tragedy, wonder, regret, hope, folly and all.

We see this world through a detached stationary camera, observing characters from a tactful distance as they sigh, complain, move through the landscape at glacial pace, treating one another with indifference, oblivious cruelty, weary civility and occasional tenderness. Populated by deathly palefaced men in drab institutional suits, women in tattered vintage gowns and too much rouge and an array of other hapless souls, the recent trilogy of features by Andersson have unfolded like a series of preserved dioramas of human life. Set within massive, elaborate stage sets, these airless chambers are works of engineering, construction and lighting unto themselves, fitting then to see It's Hard to be Human a retrospective of his life's work this past Spring hosted at the New York Museum of Arts and Design. Since it's premier in last year's Venice Film Festival, his newest has been extolled as one of the finest in all of his spartan, decades-spanning oeuvre, Xan Brooks' coverage of the festival for The Guardian hailing it as, "The Glorious Metaphysical Burlesque of Roy Andersson's 'A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence'". While the New York Times' A.O. Scott ponders why it is that Andersson is such a master of  moving us to laugh at the misery and distress of others in his, "‘A Pigeon Sat on a Branch': Roy Andersson’s Rumination on Life".

Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's new film "The Tribe" at Northwest Film Forum: Jul 10 - 16



Another major film from the year's international festival circuit lands at Northwest Film Forum this month! To call Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's "Deaf-School Drama, Shocking, Violent and Unique" as Peter Bradshaw's review for the Guardian states, is something of an understatement. From it's outset, "The Tribe" establishes that there is to be no spoken dialog in the film, nor are there to be any subtitles to translate the exchanges between the characters, which takes place entirely in Ukrainian sign language. This may read as something of a daring gambit, or even bold gimmick, but Slaboshpytskiy's meticulously distanced camerawork and determinedly opaque dramaturgy is so explicit, and fully integrated ethical choice, that the viewer is immediately infected with a vicarious, voyeuristic curiosity. It becomes something of a sinister game to parse out the remorseless methodology and indoctrination of the young protagonist into the world of the film's crumbling state boarding school for deaf adolescents. One needn't be able to sign to be able to comprehend the film's setting and it's own complex hierarchy exerting it's influence through numerous demonstrations of humiliation and power, these are crystal-clear.

Beginning with the first day as a new student is inducted into a secret world of teenage gangs, predatory violence and crime. Within minutes it's established that the dominant boys in the squalid institutional dorms are running rackets behind the facade of the officially state-sanctioned sales of trinkets on trains. Left to their own in the decrepitude of urban Kiev, this is the most innocent of the ritualized practices they engage in. Their daily lives something of a real-world contemporary to Anthony Burgess' "A Clockwork Orange" in that it shares a post-adolescent world nearly devoid of any adult presence, where the youth at the lowest tiers of society's set of rungs are left to make their own way, to deign what the world is as they see fit. Sharing the austerity and rigor of Europe's great quiet confrontationist, Michael Haneke, the squalor of poverty amidst the erosion of the European economic community's social structures seen in the films of Ulrich Seidl, and the ghostly traces left behind of the late-Soviet era's influence throughout Cristian Mungiu's films, Slaboshpytskiy has crafted a work deserving of it's widespread critical acclaim. Rightly hailed in The BFI's 20 Best Films of 2014 and Jonathan Romney's Film of the Week reviews for both Sight & Sound and Film Comment, where it was celebrated as the most intrepid, surprising, inventive and disturbing film seen in Cannes Critics Week last year.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Venice Biennale's "All the World's Futures": May 9 - Nov 22





The Venice Biennale is unquestionably the most significant exhibit I'll witness this year, possibly this decade. Spanning the months of May through November the citywide international event is currently in full swing, with this year's visual art program thematically titled "All the World's Futures". For it's 56th installment, programming director, Okwui Enwezor has assembled what looks to be a fairly stunning spectrum of sculptural, painting and installation work, with a focus on larger scale pieces in the Biennale's Arsenale and adjacent Giardini. The top prize, the Golden Lion for Best Pavilion went to Adelina Cüberyan von Fürstenber for her assembly of The Armenian Pavilion situated on the Island of San Lazzaro the work exploring the notion of “armenity,” which in her words encapsulates concepts of “displacement and territory, justice and reconciliation, ethos and resilience”. With Best Artist of the international exhibition going to US artist Adrian Piper, the Silver Lion for Best Young Artist awarded to South Korea's Im Heung-soon and Lifetime Achievement going to Ghana's El Anatsui. The Guardian's Adrian Searle navigates the miles of string, rotating trees, entire shops and spacial labyrinths of work describing the world’s socio-political past, present and future, laid out as this year’s compendious, "Venice Biennale: The World is More than Enough" with Natasha Morris sidebar covering "Iran Pavilion Goes Back to the Future". The New York Times' Randy Kennedy focusing on the programming's incitement to engage, "The Venice Biennale Shows its Political Stripes" and a feature detailing Joan Jonas' "Mirage" traveling to Venice after it's run at MoMA.

Enwezor's programming for "All the World's Futures" constructed around the premise of a Parliament of Forms, in which layers of the three intersecting curatorial filters; Garden of Disorder, Liveness: An Epic Duration and Reading Capital represent a constellation of parameters, through which to imagine and realize a diversity of practices. Heavily politicized, the content represented through the application of these filters have resulted in a vital cross-dialog of the political and economic. A month into the exhibition, the result has already been seen to give new life to the Situationist-like unifying of diverse fields of theoretical disciplines into a modern and comprehensive critique of the effects of Religious Fundamentalism, Oppressive Regimes, Oligarchy, Advanced Capitalism and Globalization. The Biennale's national pavilions have long-acted as cultural outposts of the countries they represent and when those countries are engaged in cultural, economic and even armed conflict with their neighbors, be it the global hotspots of the carnage in Syria or Russia's recent power grab, Venice becomes a platform for geopolitical frictions. The resulting manifestation seen in this year's Biennale range from the tensions of the Middle East to Marx-ian protest of the monetizing of art as investor's commodity to dialogs on the erosion of privacy using the very tools of the espionage industry to the wry reversal of Russia's incursion into the Ukraine.

What is arguably world’s oldest and most important international exhibition attracts an unstoppable force spanning 53 countries and 136 artists, it's character, vision and charisma, witnessed in Artforum's traverse of Venice, "Back to the Futures". And depicted in all it's pictorial glory by The Boston Globe's Big Picture, highlighting "Untitled Trumpet" by German artist Katharina Grosse, "The End of Carrying All" by Kenyan's Wangeti Mutu, the massive sculptural works of Russia's Irina Nakhova, "Speculating on the Blue" an installation by Flaka Haliti, a new video-opera by British filmmaker Peter Grennaway, "Occupations/Discoveries" by Brazilian artist Antonio Manuel, the 9,216 LCD panels of the "The Portrait of Sakip Sabanci" video installation by Turkey's Kutlug Ataman, the cavernous crepuscular space of Japan's Chiharu Shiota's and her installation "The Key in the Hand", "They Come to US Without a Word" video installation by Joan Jonas, 'The Green Mirror' paintings by British artist Chris Ofili, the massive 'Untitled' paintings of Germany's Georg Baselitz, "Reisefieber" by Polish artist Dorota Nieznalska at the 'Dispossession' exhibition at the Palazzo Dona Brusa, the courtyard of the the historic Palazzo Pisani Conservatory overflowing with Shigeru Ban's ephemeral "Pavilion of Light and Sound", the immersive spacial and liquid environments of "Our Product" by Pamela Rosenkranz, "Revolutions" by French artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, "Giardino dell'Eden" by Portugal's Joana Vasconcelos, new installations by Italy's Marzia Miglior, the immersive video installation "Factory of the Sun" by German artist Hito Steyerl and "Haiti 18°48'05'N 72°23'01'W'" a panoramic film projection by C.T. Jasper and Joanna Malinowska. To cite just a few, of the multitudinous.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Substrata 1.5: Sound & Media Festival: July 16 - 18



For the fifth year in a row, Seattle plays host to this exceptional three day mini-festival (three nights of performances and a masterclass hosted by renowned Ukrainian pianist Lubomyr Melnyk) of precisely curated sounds by Rafael Anton Irisarri from the more substantive end of the ambient, neoclassical, chamber folk, electronic, immersive-avant spectrum. Held in an intimate setting, with a explicit audience in attendance (no loud rock bar and hangers-on here) and a dedicated sound engineer. Exactly as a festival of these sounds, with the corresponding audience and venue should be curated, hosted and assembled. For the festival's final Northwest installment, this year's programming features indie chamber ensemble Rachel's pianist, composer, and arranger, Rachel Grimes. Founder of the 12K label sound artist and minimalist composer Taylor Deupree. Abstract techno and post-dub composer Uwe Zahn, who's Arovane albums were a defining element in the evolution of early 2000's electronic music, Visual artist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Tara Jane O’Neil. One of the great unsung composers of the 20th Century and Continuous Music pioneer, Lubomyr Melnyk. Cutting edge underground rock harpist and composer Mary Lattimore, pianist, minimalist composer and multi-instrumentalist Rauelsson. Tarentel guitarist and fearless explorer of the fringes of experimental psychedelia, Jefre Cantu–Ledesma. Jesy Fortino's hushed folkic utterances as Tiny Vipers, Norm Chambers' early electronic, concrete and tape music inspired Panabrite. With video, projection and film-art accompaniment spanning the festival by Leo Mayberry and experimental Super 8 and 16mm filmmaker, Paul Clipson. Update: Due to health and family matters, both Arovane and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma will no longer be performing. In their stead the festival have picked up Brock Van Wey's bvdub project and 12k artist, Shuttle358 for the Thursday and Saturday night performances respectively.

From the Substrata site: "Substrata 1.5 is the 5th edition of Seattle’s intimate sound & visual art weekend happening July 16 – 18, 2015. At its nucleus: an all-ages live performance program, workshop, and field recording trip within the beautiful Cascade region of the Pacific Northwest. The idea behind Substrata is to explore varying perspectives of scale though the use of sound, composition and visuals. It features three live performance showcases featuring accomplished and internationally renowned artists working within the cutting edge where structural abstraction meets physical dynamics. The performance program focuses on live electronic music: applying technology to a concert setting while incorporating traditional and non-traditional instruments. The workshop explores dilemmas within the sound arts community; the field trip engages participants and performing artists in deep listening exercises and mobile recording on site. Our goal is to create an immersive weekend experience that engages the audience in a dialog with the artists that goes beyond the constrains of traditional performer/listener interactions. Each showcase is curated to distinctly portrait different takes of the potency of minimalism, varying between weighty combinations of tonalities used to sculpt out atmospheric ambiance, or powerful dynamic structures made up of the subtlest filigree of sonic building materials. By creating compositional spaces dealing with a sense of mass, along with openness of structure, the perspective of scale and the listener’s place in relation is shifted to allow for greater a sense of place beyond the environ of the performance in the interplay of the moment and physics of the larger world. In all, Substrata is an event that fosters appreciation for our natural surroundings and creates meaningful interaction between artists/participants while exploring a new locality."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Chiho Aoshima's "Rebirth of the World" at Seattle Asian Art Museum: May 2 - Oct 4 | "Classic French Film Noir: Honor Among Thieves" at Seattle Art Musuem: Apr 2 - May 21



The Japanese urban art underground finally hit the larger US museum-going audience and critical regard with exhibits throughout the mid-2000's assembled by the KaiKai KiKi collective and it's cultural figurehead, Takashi Murakami. Who's "Little Boy: The Art of Japan's Exploding Subculture” exhibit and and more recently the Brooklyn Art Museum's “©Murakami” retrospective covered in the New York Times "Watch Out, Warhol, Here’s Japanese Shock Pop", brought Japan's Otaku-generation anime, design, sculpture, video art to a larger western audience. But it was the proceeding "SuperFlat" touring exhibit that introduced many people to the blissfully macabre transposition of dream and waking world seen in the vibrant surrealistic work of another KaiKai KiKi member, Chiho Aoshima. Her large scale murals and video pieces exhibited a enraptured contradiction in palette, style and subject matter the Los Angeles Times called, "Chiho Aoshima: At Once Childlike and Monstrous". For those who missed it the first time around, a decade later her jubilant psychedelia has returned to Seattle for the Asian Art Museum's, "Rebirth of the World". Of special note the exhibit includes the expansive "Takaamanohara", a second foray into video art again with New Zealand animator Bruce Ferguson as the follow-up to 2005's "City Glow".  

Seattle Art Museum's cinema programming also deserves a mention, as this past season's calendar has been filled with quality repertory and archival works, beginning with a series by one of the defining voices of Italian neo-Realism, "Blowing Up Cinema: The Art of Michelangelo Antonioni". Including the masterful existential puzzlework of "L'Eclipse", the urban feminism of "Le Amiche", the part murder mystery, part postmodern gender commentary classic "Blow Up", another great classic in the form of the tragically hip, haunting observation on the modern disaffected and shattered romances, "L'Avventura" and the surrealistic experimental narrative of alienation and unease set against France's modernist industrial landscapes, "Red Sands". Concurrently SAM has also been running a "Classic French Film Noir: Honor Among Thieves" series, often starring the ineffable cool of Jean Gabin, in seminal genre establishing, and even later color neo-Noir by many of the great names who worked in the style, including Jacques Becker, Louis Malle, Jean Becker, François Truffaut and the master of them all, Jean-Pierre Melville. The nine titles in the series spanning almost four decades of cinema from the genre, "Golden Marie", "Honor Among Thieves", "Bob the Gambler", "Elevator to the Gallows", "The Finger Man", "Army of Shadows", "Le Cercle Rouge", "One Deadly Summer" and "Confidentially Yours".

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Seattle International Film Festival: May 14 - Jun 7




It's that time of the year again! SIFF once again arrives bringing a spectrum of cinema from across the world. This year, like the string of years since 2008, sees a qualitative diversity-dip in the percentage of foreign cinema, arthouse, auteur and all things challenging, cutting edge, progressive or adventurous. These were content agendas that once had prominence within the festival, making it of a caliber to challenge Toronto and New York. Those times, I fear, are officially over. That said, this year's fest isn't as painfully ommissive as 2011 or 2010 for that matter. We saw a period of relief from the lackluster programming described above which waned a bit in 2012 and 2013 suggesting a further trend in that direction. For last year's festival, their 40th Anniversary was celebrated with what seemed to be a renewed vision as their strongest programming in almost a decade. Nonetheless this year we're again seeing that same glut of middle-ground contemporary romances, clever quirky dramas for the sub-Sundance sect and a lot of filler seemingly there to entice some imagined Northwest demographic out of their Bellevue hobbles and inner-city condos.

By way of example, two west coast festivals that have produced smaller, yet significantly more qualitative festivals have established a standard that can clearly be seen from year to year. The San Francisco International Film Festival concluding just this week features not only a diverse body of work, ranging from commercial entertainment to the experimental, embracing both award winning auteur works, genre film and potential indie breakouts. A cross section of the programming can be seen in their selection of Dietrich Brüggemann's award winning "Stations of the Cross", Tsui Hark's martial arts adventure, "The Taking of Tiger Mountain", another award winning and critically lauded festival highlight in Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's "The Tribe", the rising star of Alice Rohrwacher and her most recent, "The Wonders", visual and comic artist Dave McKean's second directorial effort, "Luna", Sergei Loznitsa's highly priased documentary, "Maidan" and extreme Asian cinema is represented with Tetsuya Nakashima's "The World of Kanako". Our neighboring city to the south, though smaller in scale and less urban in some sense, has a strong showing in their Portland International Film Festival again this year. It should be established that with each of them concluding some time before, the content of in each of these festivals was made available to the programming directors at SIFF. They simply made choices otherwise. Which begs the question, what kind of thinking is behind choosing to not program something like Pedro Costa's Film Comment and Sight & Sound year-end charting, "Horse Money"? Or thrilling documentary insights into modern China like J.P. Snaidecki's "The Iron Ministry"? Smaller, developing directors and fringe cinema is also represented in PIFF with works like Tudor Christian Jurgiu's "The Japanese Dog", Mipo O's "The Light Shines Only There" and Nghiem-Minh Nguyen-Vo's "Nuoc 2030". Both producing festivals of a caliber that SIFF has seemingly un-learned as they continue to go astray of the kind of vanguard seen in the international festival circuit of our neighboring cities.

But there remains a handful of legitimate, original, challenging, crafted cinema to be found in here too. Seattle International Film Festival in the past has existed as a focal-point of visionary cinema curatorialship, with the resources, funds and legacy to be hugely influential. This year I found some 15 or so films of interest, curiosity or gravitas that I plan to attend, running the spectrum from directors of note, archival restorations and new developing artists. As a consequence the majority of the titles listed below are simply films of curiosity, rather than considered essential viewing. Not the least compelling year on record, but not one even approaching the par established with SIFF's own stellar run spanning the decade of 1997-2007. I continue to be enthused about their home at the SIFF Cinema Uptown and expanded screens between the newly acquired SIFF Cinema Egyptian and Film Center. Their curation for these year-round venues has exhibited the scope of SIFF, with this year's Recent Raves series suggesting a visionary path forward for the cinema. Unfortunately the 41st Seattle International Film Festival doesn't continue this high standard.

--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 16
--------------------------------------------------

10:00 AM - Hiromasa Yonebayashi "When Marnie Was There"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
WHEN0516

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26797


--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 16
--------------------------------------------------

12:30 PM - Emeric Pressburger & Michael Powell "The Red Shoes"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
REDS0516

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26798

--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 16
--------------------------------------------------

6:00 PM -  Setsuro Wakamatsu "Snow on the Blades"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
SNOW0516

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26800

--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 16
--------------------------------------------------

9:30 PM - François Ozon "The New Girlfriend"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
NEWG0516

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26801

--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 16
--------------------------------------------------

12:00 AM - Corin Hardy "The Hallow"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
HALL0516

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26802

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, May 17
--------------------------------------------------

4:30 PM - James Benning "Natural History"
SIFF Film Center Festival
NATU0517

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27329

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, May 17
--------------------------------------------------

7:00 PM - Bill Morrison "Beyond Zero: 1914-1918"
SIFF Film Center Festival
BEYO0517

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27335

--------------------------------------------------
Monday, May 18
--------------------------------------------------

7:00 PM - James Whale "The Old Dark House"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
OLDD0518

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26808

--------------------------------------------------
Monday, May 18
--------------------------------------------------

7:00 PM - Yukun Xin "The Coffin in the Mountain"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
COFF0518

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26974


--------------------------------------------------
Tuesday, May 19
--------------------------------------------------

9:30 PM - Esteban Roel & Juanfer Andrés "Shrew's Nest"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
SHRE0519

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27196

--------------------------------------------------
Wednesday, May 20
--------------------------------------------------

7:00 PM - Sergey Parajanov "The Color of the Pomegranates"
Harvard Exit
COLO0520

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26899

--------------------------------------------------
Thursday, May 21
--------------------------------------------------

4:30 PM - Kutluğ Ataman "The Lamb"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
LAMB0521

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26816

--------------------------------------------------
Thursday, May 21
--------------------------------------------------

9:30 PM - Joshua Oppenheimer "The Look of Silence"
Harvard Exit
LOOK0521

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26902

--------------------------------------------------
Friday, May 22
--------------------------------------------------

6:30 PM - György Pálfi "Free Fall"
Harvard Exit
FREE0522

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27056

--------------------------------------------------
Friday, May 22
--------------------------------------------------

7:00 PM - Oren Moverman "Time Out of Mind"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
TIME0522

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26986


--------------------------------------------------
Friday, May 22
--------------------------------------------------
12:00 AM - Rodney Ascher "The Nightmare"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
NIGH0522

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26822

--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 23
--------------------------------------------------

11:00 AM - David Gordon Green "Manglehorn"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
MANG0523

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26826

--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 23
--------------------------------------------------

1:15 PM - Christian Braad Thomsen "Fassbinder: To Love Without Demands"
Harvard Exit
FASS0523

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26906

--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 23
--------------------------------------------------

5:30 PM - Matthias Bittner "War of Lies"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
WARO0523

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27063

--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 23
--------------------------------------------------

8:00 PM - Szabolcs Hadju "Mirage"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
MIRA0523

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27132


--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 23
--------------------------------------------------

9:45 PM - Fabrice Du Welz  "Alleluia"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
ALLE0523

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26827

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, May 24
--------------------------------------------------

11:00 AM - Satyajit Ray - The Apu Trilogy  "Song of the Little Road"
2:00 PM - Satyajit Ray - The Apu Trilogy  "The Unvanquished"
4:30 PM - Satyajit Ray - The Apu Trilogy  "The World of Apu"
AMC Pacific Place 11
SONG0524 / UNVA0524 / WORL0524

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27218
http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27219
http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27220

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, May 24
--------------------------------------------------

9:15 PM - Alan Mak & Felix Chong "Overheard"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
OVER0524

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26832

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, May 24
-------------------------------------------------

12:00 AM - Craig Denney "The Astrologer"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
ASTR0524

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26833

--------------------------------------------------
Monday, May 25
--------------------------------------------------

9:30 PM - Shim Sung-bo "Haemoo"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
HAEM0525

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27369

--------------------------------------------------
Thursday, May 28
--------------------------------------------------

4:00 PM - Daniel Garcia & Rania Attieh "H."
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
HHHH0528

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26996


--------------------------------------------------
Thursday, May 28
--------------------------------------------------

6:00 PM - Robert Siodmak "The Dark Mirror"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
DARK0528

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26991

--------------------------------------------------
Thursday, May 28
--------------------------------------------------

8:00 PM - Max Ophüls "Caught"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
CAUG0528

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26992


--------------------------------------------------
Friday, May 29
--------------------------------------------------

9:30 PM - Lee Kwang-kuk "A Matter of Interpretation"
Harvard Exit
MATT0529

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26929


--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, May 30
--------------------------------------------------

9:45 PM - Anucha Boonyawatana "The Blue Hour"
Harvard Exit
BLUE0530

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26934

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, May 31
--------------------------------------------------

12:00 PM - Chad Gracia "The Russian Woodpecker"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
RUSS0531

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27083


--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, May 31
--------------------------------------------------

7:15 PM - Christian Petzold "Phoenix"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
PHOE0531

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26858

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, May 31
--------------------------------------------------

8:30 PM - Batin Ghobadi "Mardan"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
MARD0531

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27157

--------------------------------------------------
Monday, June 01
--------------------------------------------------

7:00 PM - Ousmane Sembène "Black Girl"
Harvard Exit
BLACG0601

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26941


--------------------------------------------------
Tuesday, June 02
--------------------------------------------------

4:00 PM - Matthew Heineman "Cartel Land"
Harvard Exit
CART0602

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27133

--------------------------------------------------
Tuesday, June 02
--------------------------------------------------

9:15 PM - John Pirozzi "Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
DONT0602

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27015

--------------------------------------------------
Wednesday, June 03
--------------------------------------------------

6:30 PM Pan Si Dong "Cave of the Spider Women"
7:30 PM - Ho Meng Hua "Cave of the Silken Web"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
CAVE0603

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27094

--------------------------------------------------
Wednesday, June 03
--------------------------------------------------

9:30 PM - Fatih Akin "The Cut"
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
CUTT0603

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26867

--------------------------------------------------
Friday, June 05
--------------------------------------------------

7:00 PM - Naoki Kato "2045 Carnival Folklore"
SIFF Film Center Festival
20450605

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27327

--------------------------------------------------
Friday, June 05
--------------------------------------------------

7:00 PM - Crystal Moselle "The Wolfpack"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
WOLF0605

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26871


--------------------------------------------------
Saturday, June 06
--------------------------------------------------

9:30 PM - Jonas Arnby "When Animals Dream"
Harvard Exit
WHEN0606

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=26978

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, June 07
--------------------------------------------------

12:00 PM - Hao Zhou "The Chinese Mayor"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
CHIN0607

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27107


--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, June 07
--------------------------------------------------

2:30 PM - Sergei Eisenstein "Que Viva Mexico"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
QUEV0607

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27103

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, June 07
--------------------------------------------------

5:00 PM - Peter Greenaway "Eisenstein in Guanajuato"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
EISE0607

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27031

--------------------------------------------------
Sunday, June 07
--------------------------------------------------

8:45 PM - Alberto Rodríguez "Marshland"
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival
MARS0607

http://myaccount.siff.net/cinema/reserve.aspx?fid=345&id=27271


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wire's new album "Wire" & US Tour: May 26 - June 10 | The Drill Chicago: Jun 11 - 13



Genre creating post-Punk innovators, Wire return to the US after 2013's The Drill: Seattle wherein they recreated their The Drill: London festival with collaborative performances with Earth, Chastity Belt the Pink Flag Guitar Orchestra realization of their 1991 album, "The Drill". This tour's destination of choice bringing them to the midwest for the second stateside iteration of the three day festival, The Drill: Chicago featuring an extended lineup and collaborations with Tim Hecker, Ken Vandermark and Disappears. In cryptic fashion, their 14th and newest album titled, "Wire" is both a stripped down representation of their core elements and an expansion on the sonic path they began down in what can be considered their 4th iteration, a phase of their music initiated in 2002 with the release of the "Read & Burn" series. Previous tours have have shown that they draw from the totality of their recorded enterprise, pulling from everything as far removed as 1977's "Pink Flag" and 1978's "Chairs Missing" of almost four decades past. This totality representing Wire's mission to innovate, warp, mutate and play with pop music's parameter's, creating through the 80's and 90's unclassifiable post-Punk and experimental fusions, like "154" and such striking amalgamations of electronic and rock as 1987's "The Ideal Copy" and the gorgeously lush orchestrations of "A Bell is a Cup" to their early IDM pop fusions as WIR and the "So and Slow It Grows"  EP with LFO and The Orb, all the way back around to the present day, as a loud rocking trio who's first album proper was 2003's, "Send". All the while producing a substantial body of quality solo works spanning decades, like that Graham Lewis' ambient neo-pop as He Said, Bruce Gilbert's brilliant "Music for Fruit" and collaborative side projects like the DaDa inspired experimental pop-Concrete of Dome. Theirs is a legacy that's beyond quantification. It's safe to say there'd be no opening of the floodgates of mathy post-Rock revolution like we saw in the 90's without them. Perhaps NPR's Barry Walters said it best; "If you hear the occasional imprint of subsequent musicians (My Bloody Valentine's layered buzz, Blur's quaint Britpop, Godspeed You! Black Emperor's monumental drones), that's because those are among the many bands this one birthed. The 99.9 percent might not yet know it, but it's a Wire world after all."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Peter Brötzmann with Hamid Drake & William Parker at Seattle Art Museum: May 13



One of towering figures of the post-BeBop Jazz landscape, the 'saxophone colossus' Peter Brötzmann, who graced cover of the The Wire twice last year with a series of bold and impassioned interviews as well as a Primer for the magazine, is back at Seattle Art Museum with two other major players in modern Jazz. The legendary percussionist for many of the groundbreaking albums of the last four decades, Hamid Drake, and upright bassist and Jazz polymath, William Parker as part of Earshot Jazz' excellent Spring season programming. An ideal introduction to the man and his work can be had in Bernard Josse's, "Soldier of the Road" on Peter Brötzmann and his role as a pivotal figure in shaping the contemporary Euro Free Jazz scene. It does exactly what a music docu should do; iterate the cultural/political context that gave birth to he movement, explore it's various philosophies, depict the movement's cast of major players and show them in action. Namely Brötzmann with a rotating cast spanning half a century of players and collaborators. From his accounting his earliest childhood memories of German occupied Prussia and then Russian occupied Prussia and at a young teenage year, realizing his love of art stemming from a freedom that opposed the Nationalism and Fascism that inspired the war. Later to his taking up the Clarinet and painting and packing himself off to art school... only to land right in the middle of the BeBop and Hard Bop scene and then later at the vanguard of the Free Jazz movement.

And then the 60's hit and there's not only players on both sides of the Atlantic, but audiences and collaborators from England, to France to Belgium to Germany and a inquisitive young audience, who might not necessarily 'get it' but are looking for the unheard and the liberating. Ad to that the corresponding movements in the visual arts, notably Fluxus and Brötzmann is right there in the fray of things making a strong connection with the ethos of the movement. From the Punk Rock noise and fury of the Machine Gun albums to the equally powerful 80's lineup that was Last Exit to his later years, still as fiery, still as invested, still blasting away on his horn. But as the documentary depicts, with an equilibrium tempered by his lifelong love of walks in nature, photography, botany and his deep passion for isolated individual time in the studio working on graphic works and abstract landscape painting very much of the German Neo-Expressionist school. All of this balanced with time spent touring and collaborating with some of the fieriest, loudest, most dynamic and adventurous players in the world; Evan Parker, Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, Fred Van Hove, Paal Nilsen-Love, Joe McPhee, Michael Wertmüller, Michael Zerang, Johannes Bauer... most of whom now make up Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet. This is how one weathers decades, becomes all bearded and grey and remains a fiery passion with depths of deep contemplation and at the front of a vanguard most of the world can't even begin to approach. As a live, physical, auditory performance he transcends all the words said and written above. By far.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Liturgy's new album "The Art Work" & US Tour with Lightning Bolt: Apr 15 - May 18



Many of us will remember the Lightning Bolt tours of the early and mid-2000's where their particular frenetic performative driving percussion and eruptive guitar were on manic display. Shows that not only spilled off the stage, invading the dancefloor, bathrooms, hallways and in the case of the No Gallery performance here in Seattle back in 2003 taking over a one block area of Capitol Hill until the police arrived. Throughout the 2000's they became something of an 'event' band operating on their own terms; made records when they wanted to and continued a almost situationist refusal to perform on any traditional stage or platform (with all the greatness and disasters that entailed). The inside perspective on their methodology and independently defined performance ethic offered by frontman Brian Chippendale's discussion with The Quietus, "Lightning Bolt Interview: Earthly Delights & The Quest For The Mask". This April and May they're back to tour with their most recent manifestation of hyperfrenetic mania, "Fantasy Empire" displaying the same human tornado frisson and impact, but with a more detailed, tooled  musicianship. It's less a fiery blur and more a detailed depiction of explosive aggression. The near-perfect bill of them and fellow Thrill Jockey artists led by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the frontman and “dogma director” of transcendental black metal band Liturgy who's vein of ultra-mathy brutalist rock that resembles little else in a genre than continues to expand beyond it's Black Metal origins. Liturgy occupying a far-flung branch of a growing international heavier school of blackness that Brad Sanders detailed in his piece for The Quietus. The article acting as an excellent opening unto the dark passageways of this genre's growing stylistic variances. Their music deeply invested in aesthetics and a philosophical, sensorial agenda, it's a rare form of metal that the Brooklyn-based band conveys through "Moral & Aesthetic Truths: An Interview With Liturgy". Their most recent, literally titled, "The Art Work" they've produced their most explicit representation of these ideas in action, making for a divisive work that has polarized the underground metal world. With it's dragging, rough and deeply ur-human guttural qualities the album is brought to life through vocal chants entrenched in stylistic references stemming from a myriad of genres. Combined with their straining, arduously orchestrated guitar work, the density of the textures and grandeur of it all verges on the exhausting. Live it should be oppressive in the best possible way.