Saturday, March 31, 2012

Karen Knorr — India Song

More information on the artist's webpage.

Fire Walk With Me — Group show [Corpo Gallery]

Corpo Gallery in Los Angeles presents a group art exhibition called Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. In february 2011 an exhibition called In the Trees was held at Clifton's Brookdale restaurant (you can see some of it here). However since Clifton is a restaurant, the art was only displayed during one week. Corpo Gallery contacted David Lynch and proposed doing a sequel to the first exhibition. See more at High-Fructose

Lori Earley

Brett Amory

Essao Andrews

Ryan Heshka

Martin Wittfooth

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Michel Houellebecq — On his love of nature

Michel Houellebecq, jovial as usual, shares with us his love of nature. Because poems are always better in their original language I added the french version in italics for my french readers.

I have no time for those pompous imbeciles
Je ne jalouse pas ces pompeux imbéciles 
Who go into ecstasies before bunnies’ burrows
Qui s'extasient devant le terrier d'un lapin
Because nature is ugly, tedious and hostile;
Car la nature est laide, ennuyeuse et hostile;
It has no message to transmit to humans.
Elle n’a aucun message à transmettre aux humains. 

How pleasant, at the wheel of a powerful Mercedes,
Il est doux, au volant d'une puissante Mercedes,
To drive through solitary and grandiose places;
De traverser des lieux solitaires et grandioses;
Subtly manipulating the gearstick
Manoeuvrant subtilement le levier de vitesses
You dominate the hills, the rivers, and all things.
On domine les monts, les rivières et les choses.

The forests, so close, glitter in the sun
Les forêts toutes proches glissent sous le soleil 
And seem to reflect ancient knowledges;
Et semblent refléter d'anciennes connaissances;
In the depths of their valleys must lie such marvels,
Au fond de leurs vallées on pressent des merveilles,
After a few hours you are taken in;
Au bout de quelques heures on est mis en confiance;

Leaving the car, the irritations begin;
On descend de voiture et les ennuis commencent.
You stumble into the middle of a repugnant mess,
On trébuche au milieu d'un fouillis répugnant,
An abject universe, deprived of all meaning
D'un univers abject et dépourvu de sens
Made of stones and brambles, flies and snakes.
Fait de pierres et de ronces, de mouches et de serpents.

You miss the parking-lots and the smell of petrol,
On regrette les parkings et les vapeurs d'essence,
The serene, gentle glint of the nickel counters;
L'éclat serein et doux des comptoirs de nickel;
It’s too late. It’s too cold. The night begins.
Il est trop tard. Il fait trop froid. La nuit commence.
The forest enfolds you in its cruel dream.
La forêt vous étreint dans son rêve cruel.

This poem can be found on La Poursuite du bonheur
Photographs by Sabine Delcour

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ryuichi Sakamoto — Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

I haven't seen the movie Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (1983). But in the last days I have been listening a lot of the album Playing The Piano by Ryuichi Sakamoto. This album features Sakamoto covering his own compositions on solo piano. Got this song stuck in my head lately...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Arctic Ambient list — 6 albums

After discovering the classic "arctic ambient" Substrata album by Biosphere (I talked about it here), I was hooked and started looking for something similar. I was surprised to find out there is a lot of arctic theme ambient music. It seems the polar landscape is a never-ending source of inspiration for ambient musicians. There is even a label called Glacial Movements Records specialised in arctic ambient music.

1. Thomas KönerPermafrost (1993): Köner is a german multimedia artist making installations with sound and projections. All of his albums are based on the arctic themes featuring deep bass sound, drones sounding like the wind and low rumbles. Better to listen to this album with good headphones. [Video below]

2. Higher Intelligence Agency & Biosphere Polar Sequences (1996): This album is more related to minimal electronic music. The sounds are crystalline and "icy". A lot of sampling is used. The most impressive track being what seems to be the sound of a melting glacier in the song Meltwater. [Video below]

3. Tim HeckerHaunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again (2001): Hecker is the expert of distortion, static noises and reverb. The atmosphere of this album is cold, with titles like Music for Tundra, Arctic Loner's Rock, Boreal Kiss.

4. NorthauntBarren Land (2004): This is the dark ambient equivalent of Substrata. Features a lot of field recordings of wind, creaking snow but the whole atmosphere of the album is very menacing.

5. SleepResearch_Facility Deep Frieze (2007): Another dark ambient album from the Cold Spring label. Each track of Deep Frieze is named after Antarctic co-ordinates. The music is very minimal with some discreet synth over recordings that sound like the wind. Sounds very cold.

6. IrezumiEndurance (2008): This is one of my favorite in the genre. The album was made by a young techno/house artist but could really be described as dark ambient. This a concept album based on the tragic Endurance expedition in the Arctic. This album is like a soundtrack to a movie. The use of the synth is splendid and does not fall in the traps of the typical dark ambient albums. The theme is morbid, but the music is splendid and often contemplative. [Video below]

Friday, March 23, 2012

ANBB [Blixa Bargeld + Alva Noto] — One (2010)

Blixa Bargeld, singer of industrial band Einstürzende Neubautenbassist for many Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums and spoken word artist teams up with "glitch" musician Alva Noto. I don't know why I haven't found out about this album earlier! More information at the Raster Noton Label.

Album: Mimikry (2010)

John Frusciante — New Dawn Fades [Joy Division]

This version of New Dawn Fades by Joy Division is just perfect.
Sends shivers down my spine

Stanley Kubrick: New York in the 40's

Before Stanley Kubrick, the director, there was Stanley Kubrick, the photographer. In 1945, at the age of 17, Kubrick sold one of his photos to Look magazine, a few months later he joined the staff as a photographer. He worked for Look until 1950 when he decided to make a career in filmmaking. Not surprisingly there is something of his movies in these photographs, the composition, the lighting, the drama.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Karl Blossfeldt: Nature's perfect design

Karl Blossfeldt (1895-1932) was a German photographer, scupltor, teacher and artist who worked in Berlin. He is best known for his close-up photographs of plants and living things. [Found out about this photographer at the everything art related blog]

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wardruna — Runaljod - gap var Ginnunga (2009)

Some things take time. This band, for example. I've had the first album of Wardruna for more than a year and I didn't listen to it much. Maybe my musical taste has changed, or it is another of these intense musical phases that I have but it is now in among my favorites.

Wardruna is a band making music centered on the theme of Nordic spirituality and shamanism. It's members are Einar "Kvitrafn" Selvik (drummer of Black Metal band Gorgoroth), Lindy Fay Hella and Gaahl (famous for being the signer Gorgoroth). Up to now, the group has only released Runaljod - gap var Ginnunga, but two more albums are supposed to be in creation with the aim of creating a trilogy (called the Runajod Trilogy). Each album explores the theme of 8 runes. The group uses ancient traditional folk instruments (deer-hoof percussion, hide drums, bone flutes, goat horn), field recordings (water, thunder, birds), and vocals. The signing is really impressive here. Lindy Fay has a beautiful voice and she really can sing, there is also some throat singing by both Gaahl and Kvitrafn.

Wardruna has had a lot of success and recognition lately. They have played live on Norwegian television, had a concert in the Viking Ship Museum of Oslo and they are part of a lot of festivals. Their next albums seem to be expected by a lot of people.

This is great music for people who like ambient/tribal/medieval bands like Dead Can Dance. Sure it's not the only band to try to tackle the viking theme, but it is really a good interpretation of it. I'm not sure how historically accurate is Wardruna's music but I like it that way, very cinematic.

Dead Can Dance — Yulunga (1988)

I already posted the splendid Dead Can Dance video for The Host of Seraphim. Here is the second video made out of images of the Movie Baraka by Ron Fricke.

Dead Can Dance
Album: Into the Labyrinth (1988)
Images from the movie Baraka by Ron Fricke

Apoptose — Blutopfer [Calanda Semana Santa]

"Nowhere are they beaten (the drums of Good Friday) with such mysterious power as in Calanda. They beat in recognition of the shadows that covered the earth at the moment Christ died" — Luis Buñuel [exerpt from his autobiography]

Every year, in the small town of Calanda, in Spain, a religious ritual takes place to celebrate the Holy Week. Up to 3000 people gather in the town's Plaza, dressed in purple costumes and play the drums until Easter arrives at midnight. Hooded figures march through the streets with the Virgin Mary statue while playing drums. This tradition has been immortalized and is now famous because it has been filmed by cineast Luis Buñuel, citizen of Calanda. I am not religious, but have always been fascinated by the theatral aspect of religious rituals, even more when music is involved. This really seems like something impressive.

In 2006, the german industrial band Apoptose, has made a recording called Blutopfer mixing sampling of the drums of Calanda with synth music. The result is impressive.

UPDATE: After some research I stumbled on another industrial group that has made industrial versions of the drums of Calanda. It is the Catalan band Vagina Dentana Organ. The album featuring the drums is called Triumph of the flesh.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Deathprod — Dead People's Things (2004)

Deathprod is the musical dark ambient project of Helge Sten. His music is often oppressive and scary. He also plays for the jazz group Supersilent (that features famous jazz trumpetist Arve Henriksen). Sten also works as a producer (with ambient group Biosphere). Here is my favorite Deathprod song.

Dead People's Things [edit]
Album: Morals and Dogma (2004)
Photo: Darren Nisbett
[photograph taken inside the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Peter Beste — True Norwegian Black Metal

Peter Beste is a photographer from Texas who has spent time in the Norwegian Black Metal scene to document it. He has published a book called True Norwegian Black Metal. It is a large format book, with superb pictures (you can see there's been a lot of care at the graphic design of this book). The book is a fascinating look at the Black Metal scene and it's extreme tendencies. Even if the pictures sometimes outline the ridiculous of dressing up as evil warriors to take a walk in the streets of a Norwegian suburb, it is a sincere attempt at understanding and even appreciating this marginal subculture [I already shared my appreciation of Black Metal in this blog].