Hannover Hijinks

My friend Vladimir Ivkovic runs a record label for Loco Dice and a certain Hannover techno producer named Martin B, and last week I helped him film a promo video for Martin’s new LP (due out in February). Vladimir’s beard looks excellent in the pic above (UPDATE: I decided to delete the pic. Too much information).

Martin’s studio in Hannover famously contains much desirable outboard gear, such as a shiny golden Massive Passive EQ. Plus, of course, classy keys like a Rhodes and a Minimoog Voyager. My personal favourite here is the humble Wurlitzer.
Love the funereal shape of it as well as the rock n roll sound.

martin buttrich studio

Epistrophik Soul

Georgia Ann Muldrow (Epistrophik Peach Sound) is a multi-talented beat-maker, singer, mystic and mom. A devout christian & weed-smoking conspiracy theorist, she glowed like a diamond when she spoke at the RBMA in Toronto about creating her own time signature:

“The metronome is not a bad thing. Metronomes are great. Because, they teach you how to be on the one, you know. And a metronome ain’t a piece of equipment. A metronome is your heart beat. A metronome is your footsteps through your own life, you know. Let that be the metronome.”

Georgia’s mother Rickie was a spiritual jazz singer in the ’70s and early ’80s: turns out she also dabbled in divine disco (see the tune above).

Below is an interview with Georgia’s mum and her husband Michael, speaking on their definition of soul. Michael Beckwith founded the Agape church (which Georgia grew up attending), and Rickie is the choir director there.

Gedankenexperiemente in Zombie Aesthetics

“A centipedesque dragon, its jaws opened to swallow a yellow ball.”– Carl Jung

Mayuko, Alice & I came across American artist Paul Laffoley in a group show at Palais de Tokyo gallery in Paris the other week – great big boards with neon shades and sharp stencils, like something from an Amsterdam coffee shop or a Gathering rave circa ’97.

One painting in that show, from 1970, contained a landscape like Danté or Dali, with a precarious structure labeled as “the bridge of reality addicts obsessed with oblivion artists”. That line stuck out, since Coco Solid & I had lately been talking about thin skin, stretched canvas and the philosophy of $2 lemonade scones, after she wrote a pop-quiz titled “Why Are You An Artist Again?”.

The oblivion of artists usually prompts a tacky kind of voyeurism – as in speculation on the fate of Roman Polanski, or the Grey Gardens-style documentary on fallen 80s mega art star Chuck Connelly. Jeanette Winterson perhaps summarised it best in her essay on how “the mad, bad and dangerous wild boys of high art and popular culture make great copy, while the women—Plath, Frida Kahlo, Maria Callas, Janis Joplin—imploding like dark stars, are the stuff of obsession.” No one’s fate is absolutely certain, least of all perhaps the artist’s, whose job it is to elevate the mundane to mystical and vice versa.

But Laffoley’s works are somehow reassuring in their relentless cataloguing of phantasmagoria, like a glimpse inside the mind of a 16 year old boy crossed with a 70 year old professor of paranormal phenomena, the Ancient Greek Concept of Fate, “Skepticism and Animal Faith”, the mystery of geometry & math, Jean Paul Sartre and Catholicism. The paintings are a little overbearing in real life, but less confrontational when seen in internet jpeg size (I like them better that way – although you can’t quite read all the meticulously inscribed quotes and philosophical references).

Who doesn’t love lists? Laffoley paints (and blogs) with some kind of stubborn intent to list every philosophical thought of all time – riffing on a Weezer album cover with a floating dog, linking it to Aesthetic Catholics and Brigitte Bardot. A stoned ’70s stream of consciousness in which tiny slivers of pop culture can unlock the universe.

Umberto Eco wrote that Western culture is addicted to gathering & lists, a ‘poetics of catalogues’: halls of saints, catalogues of plants, collections of art. If Eco is right, Laffoley could forget Sartre. A list of deep-frozen readymeals should feel equally as mystical.

In fact, Laffoley was at one time recruited by Warhol – to watch TV at the time of night when nothing was showing. (Laffoley is also an architect who worked on one of the World Trade center towers).

But Laffoley’s paintings – less categorical when tamed in screen size shots – are influenced by mandalas, a product of Eastern religion. A mandala, unlike a list, doesn’t seek to tame or define, but to show light, shadows, the endlessness of pure geometry and the oblivion of existentialism, all as facets or even repetitions. Not finite. And perhaps necessarily nonsensical.

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Making Believe With Pantha Du Prince

MySpace Codes

There’s a beautiful sunset up here, says Pantha du Prince when I call up to his room from the hotel lobby. It’s the night of his show at Gloria in Cologne. A few days ago Rough Trade, one of the world’s pre-eminent indie labels, announced they’d added him to their roster. So I’m curious to meet Hendrik Weber, fashion conscious resident of Berlin & Paris – the man designated by the press as the cross-over standard bearer for minimal techno.

Hendrik’s room is about the size of a postage stamp. He is crouched over his computer, preparing his live set for tonight’s show. He steps onto the balcony for a moment and makes a sweeping gesture. “This is what I love about Cologne. It has another whole world on its rooftops.” The sky is fading to a dirty yellow, and on some of the angled square rooftops below, plants in tubs sprout up haphazardly.

Hendrik offers the bed to sit on and then, almost reflexively, puts on a pair of boots. The boots are slouchy black leather and ankle high. He is wearing non-descript cotton pants and long-sleeved tee. His hair is not ‘done’. He says it’s been a hard week and mutters something about how there is no minibar.

The Pantha du Prince project has been described as ‘philosophical’ or ‘intellectual’ in the media – words fleshed out in his press releases, in which names of film makers and authors are dropped hither and thither. Some of the cultural references he claims seem superfluous in the context of his music. But there are plotlines that Hendrik is sticking to, and he looks concentrated as he formulates quotes about cutting up nostalgia into tiny pieces.

Since Pantha remixed Animal Collective, who are signed to Rough Trade, it’s not so unbelievable that a German techno bloke like him would be invited to join the roster. Hendrik says the band were surprised when he told them of the album deal; and that when Trevor emailed him with the offer, he could hardly turn it down – because the first record he ever bought was on Rough Trade.

“Which record?” I ask. He is evasive. “Oh… I couldn’t pick just one. There were so many.” Perhaps it is because he is tired, but the citylimits of the Pantha project seem to end abruptly just behind the wire fence . It’s like the music he’s currently working on is a spot-lit stadium at night time, and beyond the lights there is darkness.

As such, he seems to feel that his former creative processes are almost irrelevant, even those of his last album as Pantha du Prince, but especially concerning his work with the Hamburg band Stella, for whom he played bass in the late ‘90s. He says he never took any creative lead in the band and spent most of his time with them mediating arguments.

When asked about the Ladomat act’s cover of ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac, he cringes visibly, saying he doesn’t like Fleetwood Mac at all. Fair enough – though the Thomas Geiger remix of the Stella cover had a certain raw charm. And the Stella track ‘Bad News Entertainment’ was an interesting record to play in techno sets, with its 2step beat and squelchy bassline combo. The vocals weren’t so great, but hey. Hendrik should listen to Kirk Degiorgio’s Fleetwood Mac tribute show on RBMA Radio – he might feel less pained about that chapter of Pantha’s prehistory.

After the angst of Stella, Hendrik perks up at a mention of the Chills’ Pink Frost (which he sampled for the Diamond Daze record), but when asked if he’s ever been in touch with Phillips, he responds with a dull stare.

Pantha seems to be a project that clones microscopic cells for a kind of minimal techno pop art, not one that dives deep, chasing up and locking onto references and DNA chains. Hendrik even refers to ‘Pantha’ in the third person, like an actor keeping his script at arm’s length. And in the end, Pantha is a character that really comes to life amid the grandeur of a rave, not in the theoretical discourse of a lazyboy.

But one very dearly wants to believe the theory, when the list of musical references and influences is so impeccable. Listen to Pantha du Prince very carefully, and try to breathe in the microscopic fragments of Wim Wenders, Octave One, My Bloody Valentine and Durutti Column that you know must be hiding there in between the semi-quavers.

The Pantha du Prince album Black Noise will be released on February 8, oh-ten, with contributions from Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear of Animal Collective and Tyler Pope of !!! and LCD Soundsystem. A lion’s share of the LP is based on nostalgic acoustic music recorded in the Swiss alps.

The Ultimate

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NZ rapper-cum-artist extraordinaire BF Buchanan aka Erik Ultimate sent over these amazing photos from his recent show in Dunedin.
If I was rich and had a gazebo, I would hire Erik Ultimate to create a work around the walls, like Monet’s waterlilies seen through the semi-closed eyes of a sleeping digital turtle.
That would be one hell of a gazebo.

The Sleeping installation, hosted by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, was a one week studio session completed upon return from rapping in NYC with Coco Solid.

BB sure does get around. When I caught up with him he had just spent “a few nights at this house in Karaka Bay, round Seatoun, where Peter Jackson lives. The house we stayed in was where the lady who wrote the screenplay for LOTR wrote it. It was kinda awesome…polar blasts of hail rolling into the harbour, and I made up a song channelling the power of Enya that goes: “Thhiiis is where I wrote the looord of da rings… such inspirational suuurroundings.”

erik ultimate

What are your two favourite uses for linoleum or linoleum-cutters?
What’s a linoleum cutter? I use a ruler and a scalpel, that’s it. Having a bunch of coloured adhesive vinyl around is always handy for packaging mail, or on special occasions I will replace the add for cancer on my tobacco with a nice block of salmon pink which goes nicely with Park Drive mild yello.

It’s also good for posters and album/CD art work. Today I’m making a poster for a night I do at the Watusi called “The Black Out Compulsion Lounge”. My brother RAP AUTHORITAR is gonna do a performance there this Friday.
My sister Ruth originally hosted a party in NYC called “The Black Out Compulsion Aperitif”. So we are in the lounge now.

Ben Buchanan rear window

What’s your best memory of smalltown NZ?
Woah, small town NZ is sweet but also fucked. My childhood was in New Plymouth which is a beautiful place to grow up: the mountain, Back Beach, Pukekura park were all great adventures.
Masterton was edgier, discovering skateboards, punk rock, drugs and trouble… I sang in a band when I was 14 called NEGUS DELLUGE, we would go to Wellington to do shows with awesome bands like MICROWAVE BABIES and COMPOS MENTIS and get chased around by fully grown insanely destructive skinheads for wearing crass patches. Geez, supa exciting though. Doing radio in Hamilton was fun.

How do you design your artworks, and is technology your friend or foe?
The artworks have a starting point and then just continue. The composition can be an accident but sometimes I think about it; technology could definitely be more of a friend but I’m in no rush. I work in a pretty archaic way. im more interested in my relationship with a piece of paper than with a screen.

How much time do you spend on a computer per day (on average)
Aside from pause and play on my iTunes and hour after hour of whatever TV series I’m watching, probably about half an hour.

What’s your favourite next-level gadget or gizmo?
My laptop: it’s my first computer ever and I’ve had it for like six months. I think I’m using about 2% of its brain, but I love it!
My phone is real bad… it is a worse speller than me, which sux! I’m not against new stuff but you know, all of a sudden everyone has white plugs in their ears….or whatever it is….. it can be gross.

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What does the future look like according to BF Buchanan?
I think developing gills would be the best thing.

You are quite a dab hand in the kitchen. What do you prefer to cook: risottos, rich reductions and masculine proteins, or deconstructed frozen sushi?

Hmmm…would have to go with rich reductions and masculine proteins. Definitely slow cook comfort stuff. I spent a year working in kitchens in Dublin and was kinda looking for the Irish cuisine. Aside from gaining a fondness for skate wings and Guiness, the best thing I found was at the chippers: chicken curry and chips, which is like deep fried chicken with chips and this awesome gravy with lots of curry powder in it. Sooo good… So my fave thing to make at home is to joint a chicken, marinate it in special crispy chicken coating from the Asian grocer [you gotta leave it in the flour stuff for a couple of hours]…then fry it with as much oil and butter as will fit in my or your pan [hey this is kind of a recipe], then roast with plenty of spuds… Whilst this is goin’ [you wanna put the spuds on first]… Fry onions, garlic and mushrooms in butter. Add gravy powder from the dairy (get 2 packets, it’s like 80 cents) and curry powder and dried chili, then boiling water, and stir etc. God damn, then yummo. So good….

What music genre best describes your culinary style?
Maybe Venga Boys doing a Van Morrison track.

Is your rumoured solo album still in the pipes?
Oh yeah, in the pipelines for sure. My lil bro has been writing heaps of cool stuff, so I’m like damnn, I should do something soon.
Tim Checkley AKA the mighty JIZMATRON is on board , should be good….

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Catch Erik Ultimate’s Blackout Compulsion Lounge tomorrow night at The Watusi in Wellington, New Zealand!

Kuchenplatte, Köln

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On Sunday we dropped by the Kuchenplatte (cake platters) record fair, where various Cologne distribution company employees have the chance once a year to set up shop with a few crates of old records (balancing them on Bionade soda crates) and always end up making a killing. The above classy photo is of Groove Attack record store worker Dak aka DJ Memyselfandi (Side note: Carmen told me when she saw his DJ name for the first time, she thought it was an Ethiopian word)

Provocatively, there’s no actual cake – just one friendly old lady selling waffles to the crowds clutching 12″s of Biggie and Jobim.

Fittingly, considering how many of their staff were there beating eBay at its game, we found this original Groove Attack comp from years ago, which features the classic cosmic jam High Priestess by our friend Lars Vegas (half of Karma).

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SOS 4.8: Girl Gang Adventures

Murcia

A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of visiting Murcia, Spain with the mini girl-gang of Mari.cha (Higher Love, Thessaloniki), Pippi Langstrumpff (Milan/Rotterdam) and Sassy J (Patchwork, Bern). So maybe it’s about time I posted a few photos and a brief recap.

Murcia is about a 40 min drive from Alicante and about 4 hours drive from Madrid…. it’s arid, surrounded by crumpled dry hills with lots of brand new apartment complexes mushrooming up, in interesting combinations of brick and rust-coloured aluminium. Perhaps little wonder that the festival isn’t big on the international clubber’s calendar – though it’s a blessing that you can wander around the Plaza las Flores in the old centre of the city, and not be bothered by any rust-coloured English tourists.

After we arrived on the Friday, a day spent nibbling on peanuts in airports was completed with a fortifying meal of potato crisps, blanched almonds and strips of cured ham. With whole baby pigs being hacked up mercilessly under our noses, this was no country for italo-disco vegetarian trainspotters.

SOS Festival

Over at the festival, I blocked out the ambient noise of one rogue Italian cokehead, who Pippi valiantly tried to restrain, and started the set with slower BPMs like Dam Funk’s Let’s Take Off EP (Groove Attack promo), and the cherished Chuck Mangione record that Vladimir and Tako gave me for that one benighted birthday. The most fun I’ve had since Playground Love at c/o Pop festival last year. Other stuff I played: Pascal Schäfer track, Robin Hannibal’s Non+ album and Musiccargo’s new album. Pippi played after me, a painful two hour set in which she needed to go peepee because of the bubbling fountains spurting in front of the stage. Who said DJing was easy?

Lasers & fountains

The next day after kicking it in town all afternoon (28 degrees) drinking ‘clara’ shandies, Sassy J surmounted technical problems with hip hop jams, and hazy deep house as the early evening sun threatened to burn holes in her records. We snuck off to see Matthew Herbert’s Big Band in the auditorium – not compelling enough to listen to off CD but enchanting live, with school teacherish orchestra members ripping up magazines and Eska teetering around in amazing mask-like glittering black make up and platform heels.

staying focused

Then Mari.cha stepped to the stage and killed it as usual with Larry Levan classics like Celestial Choir – Stand On the Word, and modern bombs like Theo Parrish and Marcellus Pittman – Night of the Sagitarius. Too much fun!

After Mari.cha finished we mooched off to eat pizza, as some rabid techno-rock DJ called Speedballs took to the decks. We were going to stay up til 4am to watch Matthew Herbert DJ but instead hightailed away from all the aggressive hand-clappers back to the hotel, which had been commandeered by Catholic communion groups and was full of little terrorists in fluffy pink and white dresses.

I never bumped into Ladyhawke though we did share the dinner queue in the artist’s backstage area with the pooped-looking trombonists from Herbert’s Big Band. I watched about three Babyshambles songs on the back of a monitor that could be seen from backstage and behind a carpark, as Prodigy’s white trash entourage swept past self-importantly (including two 16 year old blonde girls and their mum).
But who needs celebs when you have a classy gurl crew in matching leopard tights.

homegurls!