Tuesday, 29 March 2011

You See Art, I See Clay & Whitby Goth Wonderland

On Thursday, 24th of March, a small group of trendy (natch) young things witnessed the first edition of a brand new alternative London club night: You See Art, I See Clay. Here's the Facebook page, for reference:


People with encyclopaedic knowledge of 80s pop will have recognised that the evening, organised by my friend Charles Savoie and held in the atmospheric basement of The Victory on Kingsland Road, takes its rather original name from an obscure slice of synth-pop by Craig Sibley, and, courtesy of two DJ sets and two bands, a veritable smorgasbord of heady electro beats and hypnotic synth lines was served up, in the grand tradition of European cold wave, British industrial and, courtesy of yours truly, a quick flourish of motorik krautrock. Certainly there are few nights in the capital where such sounds can be heard without suffering the intrusion of gruesome, MOR pop in the Madonna/Jackson/Duran Duran mould, or some bland Primal Scream/Brit-pop rock, so I'm hoping (not just for my sake and that of a friend), that this is the first of many.

Certainly, the bands were worth seeing. All-female duo Replicas play a form of elegant, stripped-down and icy pop in the vein of The xx, early Gary Numan (think Dance more than the Tubeway Army album that gave them their name) and even a hint of Junior Boys, with dreamy twinned vocals, metronomic electronic percussion and deep, throbbing basslines. What the duo lacks in stage persona is made up for with their glacial beauty and detached vocalisings, and I wouldn't be surprised if they went on to be one of the next big things on the indie circuit. They certainly have the hooks. Check'em out here: www.myspace.com/replicasreplicas

American industrial/synth performer Nurvuss will be an altogether harder prospect for the mainstream to take to its bosom, hence perhaps why I was particularly taken by Reaver M. Fulbrigh's set. Over chatteringly violent computer-generated beats, the American snarled, roared and sneered his menacing lyrics, propelled along by gritty, heavily-compressed synth lines. Nurvuss is much closer to the spirit of Suicide and Cabaret Voltaire than early Human League or OMD, and his edginess drove some punters back up to the ground-floor bar, but I for one was smitten, gleefully snapping my head from side-to-side under the onslaught. Another one to watch. http://www.myspace.com/nurvuss

All in all, there is a lot of promise in You See Art, I See Clay, and the poor attendance was disappointing. Hopefully the next one will be better attended.  

Whitby Abbey
The next day, I was on a train hurtling up the length of England, on my way to Whitby, Yorkshire, for the bi-annual Whitby Goth Weekend. A chance for a break from the bustle of London life, and to discover an underrated gem of a town, with its ancient, ruined abbey and narrow streets. This is the England of ruddy cheeks, no-nonsense conversation, ham-sized fish and chip portions and charming eccentricity, the latter epitomised by the scores of people dressed in their best Victorian garb, umbrellas, corsets, top-hats and face paint. Locals and out-of-towners all joined in on the fun, as gigs by The Damned, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and others were accopmanied by much drinking in pubs decorated with fake cobwebs and plastic spiders.

For me, despite the revelry, and the fact that I met some wonderful people (is there a nicer social group out there than the goths? I'm not sure), the highlight was the abbey. Bleak and foreboding, perched on a cliff-yop overlooking the town, it is no wonder they struck such a chord in Bram Stoker that he decided to set part of Dracula in Whitby. As I wandered around the crumbling colonnades and stared at the twisted features of ancient grotesques, I played the soundtrack to Werner Herzog's Nosferatu - Phantom Der Nacht on my iPod, for a truly awe-inspiring experience. The adjacent, more recent, church, with its cliff-top graveyard was also a great place to ponder one's thoughts, Heathcliff-like, in a windswept daze of melancholia, and, for all the fun I had drinking in pubs and meeting cool people, visiting Whitby will remain a truly spiritual (for want of a better word) and introspective memory for me.

Wow, this may be my shortest post in ages! I suppose it's one of the bloggy-er ones I've done, but I just felt these were sentiments worth sharing. Not sure why...

- J Phimister

Monday, 14 March 2011

February on my iPod!!!

A bit of a scandal was at last rectified in February, as I finally went to London's legendary Cafe Oto for not one, but two concerts. To say it was long overdue would be an understatement. Whatever one thinks of the hummus-and-green-tea-and-organic-beer-loving, middle class crowd that seems to flock to the Dalston venue, there is no denying that it is an almost unique place to catch live music of the most forward-thinking kind.

First up, on February 17th, was a live performance of music by the great American drone composer Phill Niblock, who was in attendance (I got to shake his hand) but, curiously, did not perform. Instead, he handed the performance of three compositions to a mixture of students and professors from Brunel university, and it was a rather unusual set-up for Niblock, being a series of orchestra performances, albeit a stripped-down model of an orchestra. In comparison to the minimalism of 2003's Touch Food (Touch Records), though, it was positively opulent, and a wonderful testament to the power of live drone music. Watching the concentration etched across each performer's face, whether they were coaxing thick, sustained tones out of customised violins, manipulating sounds with their laptops, or maintaining the pulse of the piece with electric bass feedback, was captivating. All three pieces shared a common approach, with instruments blending into one another to create a wall of dissolute sound. After a while, the weight and beauty of the music becomes a blanket to get lost in, making Niblock live even warmer and more absorbing than on disc.

On March 5th, the Cafe was packed solid for the visit of American turntablist extraordinaire Christian Marclay. There were two halves to the night. First, vocalist Phil Minton performed -solo- a peculiar composition of Marclay's involving the juxtaposition of onomatopoeias extracted from Japanese mangas. Minton's extraordinary vocal dexterity was put to the full test as he spouted a weird cascade of whoops, burps, yelps, whistles and other ejaculations, reading from a scroll unrolled by two slightly anxious-looking Oto staff members. I think the piece's main value comes from the vocalist's interpretation of what he or she reads. Had Minton seen the comics these onomatopoeias were extracted from? Did he have any context? At one point he verbalised the word "belch" where previously he had released actual borborygmi. Was the word "belch" written both times? It was one of those pieces that of course could not be performed the same way twice, probably even by the same performer, and there was a wonderful balance of tension and humour in Minton's delivery. As for the actual purpose of the piece, beyond its entertainment value, I'd be at a loss to comment, but would love to hear Marclay's own thoughts on the matter.
After a short break, Marclay took to his turntables for three performances, the first a duo with British improv veteran, and Oto stalwart, Steve Beresford. I felt their interplay was rather limited, with Marclay's crackling vinyl and Beresford's gaggle of free noise sounds often getting in each others' way. Better was Marclay's duo with Minton, who again charmed with his ability to wrench unholy, comical or violent sounds from his throat like Coleman with his trumpet. Beresford then returned for a three-way improvisation that at times touched on the sublime, as the trio explored different avenues of interaction, with Minton serving as a great anchor for the two musicians' flights of fancy. It was a thrilling end to a very oddball evening, and the fact that it was sold out only served to renew my faith in the tastes of the British public in this age of X-Factor-driven plastic pop.

The next day (ok, so I'm aware this is more March on my iPod, but screw it), I ambled down to the Southbank's Purcell Roomm to watch another work of Marclay's, his 24-hour film The Clock, which is made up of extracts from a wide range of films, each one featuring some form of reference to time (should that be Time?), usually through onscreen clocks, but sometimes more subtly, such as by showing characters checking their watches or rushing hither and thither. The clever thing is that the film plays in real time, so as I watched it from quarter-to-two until three, so the time onscreen reflected this. Leitmotivs and editing were used to excellent effect, and a sense of the oppressive-yet-inescapable nature of Time was palpable. It certainly makes for intriguing viewing, and Marclay's patience and work in compiling it must have been immense, though I do wonder if anyone has ever sat through the whole thing...

Right next to the Purcell Room sits the wonderful Hayward Gallery, which is currently (until the 17th of April, so head on down) showing the seventh edition of the British Art Show (of which The Clock is a part), a showcase of the best -supposedly- of contemporary art. Brian Sewell, that daft old fossil, was typically sneering in his Evening Standard review, and I'm always at a loss as to why critics of contemporary art shows seem obsessed with the idea that the artists and curators involved are trying to shock. I know that's part of the fallout from the Sensation show, but I seriously think we can move on from such trivialities now. Because a lot of what was on at The Hayward was excellent, not necessarily shocking or provocative, just interesting, from Sarah Lucas's subtly sexual and disturbing tights sculptures to Elizabeth Price's intelligent film User Group Disco, via Roger Hiorns' iconic "sculpture" featuring a nude man sitting on a bench next to a naked flame. Ok, so I'm not sure what Hiorns is trying to say, but I did appreciate the beautiful naked man! Standouts for me included Ian Kiaer's minimalist sculpture and Soviet-evoking monochrome tableau, Maaike Schoorel's atmospherically elusive paintings, and a thought-provoking installation by Wolfgang Tillmans.

From February 23rd until the 27th, London's Institute of Contemporary Arts was taken over by South London collective Shunt, who staged a number of live events in the theatre room, as well as concerts, performances and "games" in the gallery. I went along on the 27th and was treated to some oddball theatre, a concert of American folk songs, a Japanese guy getting "shot" using a computer projection (see image), and some people dressed as dogs re-enacting a drunk and disorderly arrest. It was gleefully off-the-wall, completely free, and thoroughly good-natured. The live show my friends and I caught was a performance piece on acting called One-Man Show (I sadly did not catch the artist's name), which was at times funny, at others thought-provoking, and occasionally contrived. But kudos to the artist for putting himself out there with such reckless abandon, and there was never a dull moment. All in all, I feel like contemporary art has rarely seemed stronger in this country, and this despite the coalition's cuts.

Musically, I've been inspired to keep broadening my horizons, and have recently discovered the work of frequent Wire Magazine contributor Alan Licht, whose Plays Well album (2001, Crank Automotive) may just be one of the oddest things I've ever heard. For drone aficionados, it could not start out better, the nearly-40-minute piece "Remington Khan" seeming like a wet dream for electric guitar drone nuts, as it slowly evolves from a patient riff loop into a piece of noisy, fuzz-drenched perma-soloing. It's one of Licht's signature tracks (and crops up again, in superb live format, on his mighty 2003 opus, A New York Minute), and is irresistible in its single-minded pursuit of guitar purity, like Hendrix on ketamine of something. But the second piece, "The Old Victrola", is the real humdinger! It kicks off with a sample of the great Captain Beefheart, aka Don Van Vliet, in full flow, which segues coolly into a sort of post-Velvet Underground, punkish guitar melody, which would appear to be a riff on a Beefheart song itself. This continues, turning the Captain's receding voice into a sort of baroque pop star in the process, for about five minutes, before dissolving into the same kind of noise as at the end of "Remington Khan". And then - bang! You're tipped headfirst into a lengthy sample of a Donna Summer disco pounder, completely with four-to-the-floor beats and groovy guitar licks. This takes up most of the track before pitching back into the Beefheart track, Licht somehow finding the most improbable of links between two extremes of modern popular music. It's not necessarily very successful, and the Summer bit becomes wearisome, despite the presence of a nicely distorted guitar line, but full marks for audacity!

Licht was not the only madcap guitarist I turned to in February. In fact, there were several, and next up is the great Loren Mazzacane Connors, a New England-based guitarist who has played with the likes of Keiji Haino, Thurston Moore, Jim O'Rourke and, um, Alan Licht, actually. But I have fallen head over heels for his solo record Long Nights (1995, Table of the Elements). Essentially a play on the blues, it features Connors massaging an intense array of notes from his axe, from distorted riffs, to crystal-clear solos, with the whole album being centred around the lengthy second and third tracks. The music is literally achingly beautiful on the former, which stretches the limits of emotional (and, in Connors' case, physical) endurance over 20 ferocious minutes. Connors is clearly a virtuoso, but there is an earthiness, an honesty (dare I say it?) in his playing that clearly harks back to punk and no wave, and to the more stripped-down approach of Haino. The monochromatic cover clearly also hints at a certain minimalism and, similarly to Tony Conrad on the violin, Connors' guitar work, by going in circles, and ebbing and flowing, is as much absorbed as it is heard. The knowledge that Connors was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease only three years before Long Nights only serves to add to the album's potency, and if anything the album can be viewed as Connors venting his frustration long into the night. A masterpiece.

Long before Burial and even Banksy made their names by remaining studiously anonymous (although Burial has since been "outed" as it were), there stood a weird and elusive, near mythological figure who went by the pseudonym Jandek. His face was often plastered on his album covers, and it was generally accepted that his name was Sterling Smith, and that he lived in Houston, Texas; but he never performed live, and remained the epitome of the outsider musician, delivering album after album of creepy, off-kilter blues-rock from 1978-onwards. Then, one night in 2004, a concert initially billed as a solo Richard Youngs outing, in Glasgow, Scotland (of all places), turned out to be the live debut of Mr Smith, much to the shock of the audience present for the Instal festival.But if this typically oddball debut proved anything, it's that live or in the studio, solo or backed by Youngs and drummer Alex Neilsen, Jandek remains the contrarian musical force of modern music. I've seen videos from the show, immortalised on CD as Glasgow Sunday (2005, Corwood Industries), and Smith is as obtuse as you could expect, shifting awkwardly across the stage, fedora hat rammed into his face, barely glancing at his audience as he rips brittle motifs out of his six-string or slouches up to a microphone to howl some murky, practically frightening, lyrics in a cracked snarl. The tracks all play like a ragged mixture of molten fire music and distorted punk, Jandek obviously being indebted to the likes of Arto Lindsay, Richard Hell and Keiji Haino, as much as he shares an affinity with outsider bluesmen like Lightnin' Hopkins and Son House. Compared to early studio albums like Ready for the Floor and Blue Corpse, there is palpable menace here, the whole thing being much more in-your-face and abrasive, where previously he was insidious and sarcastic. Much like Neil Young, Jandek is becoming a grumpy old man with age, a remarkable thought when you consider how rebellious he was before.

A very different kind of electric guitarist, now, mind, in the form of the late Sandy Bull, part of the American freak-folk scene of the late 60s, one that also included Robbie Basho and John Fahey, but who has remained almost completely forgotten of late, even as the other two have started to get belated cult recognition. Sandy Bull was possibly the most musically radical of the three (just a personal opinion, there), and was incorporating elements from Asian and free jazz music into his folk explorations as early as 1963, on his debut album Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo. On the posthumous live album Still Valentine's Day, 1969 (released in 2006 on Water), he shows his fantastic dexterity on guitar, banjo and even middle eastern oud, but his real high-water mark was E Plurubus Unum, released in 1968 on the celebrated Vanguard label, also home to Basho and Fahey. The influence of the psychedelic rock scene so abundant in California at the time had obviously hit home on Bull, and he blissfully warps his guitar sound via strong phasing and vibrato effects, creating a woozy style that is well backed by sitar and stripped-down percussion on the first track (of two!), "No deposit, no return blues". At 16 minutes, it stretches the limits of improvised folk to the max, but Bull is more than up to the task, as his guitar shimmers and wavers in a psychedelic haze. "No deposit..." is positively jaunty in comparison to the triumphantly minimalist second track, "E-Bend", which is even longer, and much more experimental. That someone was doing this back in '68 is mind-boggling. There's a great sense of isolation, and of a man out on his own armed with nothing but his axe, as he totally reinvents the principles of electric folk guitar. I'd like to say that Bull's influence was wide and unparalleled in modern folk, but sadly, drug problems and a lack of recognition have almost consigned him to obscurity, saved only by such decent folk as the guys at Water Records, and the occasional write-up in The Wire. But if you do see a copy of E Plurubus Unum (on aged vinyl only these days, sadly), or of the Still Valentine's Day, 1969 CD, snap'em up. Bull's is a world worth discovering.

Something of a world away from the land of effects-laden electric guitar, sits Jason Lescalleet, an American drone composer who first came to my attention through his 2010 collaboration (the second) with Graham Lambkin, Air Supply. In 2005 or 2006, Lescalleet's father was dying, and this loss served as the inspiration behind was has to go down as one of the greatest modern drone albums, The Pilgrim (2006, Glistening Examples), with Lescalleet's final conversation with his dad even featuring on the album. Initially released as a CD+Picture Disc package, it's main focus is the 70-minute title track, which is a listening experience as emotionally overwhelming as it is intellectually arresting. It's based around a slow, slow build-up, starting with the crackle of vinyl, something that immediately adds a sense of nostalgia and melancholia to proceedings, as a slow, distant drone moves into focus, at first throbbing and pulsating quietly, in the manner of the icy work by Kevin Drumm on Imperial Distortion, but later building into a long, monolithic piece of just intonation, with shimmering and uneasy clangs and thuds drifting elusively in the background. It's a clear atmosphere of menace and fatalism, that climaxes with a tumult of violent noise and musique concrete, something not too different to the Drumm of Sheer Hellish Miasma's more vicious moments. The cold oscillators and insistent drones give way to a molten avalanche of saturated tones, and all of Lescalleet's rage, confusion and sadness is laid bare, before the miasma ebbs into a recording of the composer's child singing to his (Lescalleet's) father, perhaps not long before the latter's passing. Few albums are so nakedly intense.

I have often sung the praises of Pauline Oliveros on this blog, but I'm not sure I've ever properly reviewed one of her albums, so it's time to set the record straight! Originally released in 2000 on Table of the Elements, her Primordial Lift composition only got the definitive treatment 6 years later when released on her own Deep Listening imprint. An hour-long live performance recorded in Buffalo, NY, in 1998, and featuring luminaries like Tony Conrad alongside Oliveros herself, Primordial Lift has obvious ties to the minimalist school Conrad helped pioneer, with violin and electronic drones underpinning the piece from start to finish. As such, it is one of the better illustrations of her "deep listening" principles, as the shades of hum and drone requiring a full engagement -on spiritual, intelectual and even physical levels- on the part of the listener. And yet, Primordial Lift is remarkably "busy", if compared to works by LaMonte Young, Conrad or Eliane Radigue, especially in the first half, in which whispery percussive elements, bells, violin lines and the like flutter seemingly at random across the the soundscape, displaying Oliveros' links to musique concrete and the Fluxus-inspired work of the Taj Mahal Travellers. The hefty drones, on violin and Oliveros' accordion ultimately remaint the main focus, but these occasionally disarming bursts of free sound highlight her dexterity and vision as a composer. The pace of the piece is languid, but totally absorbing, and Primordial Lift cements Oliveros' position as one of the modern era's foremost contemporary composers.

Inspired by Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives, I picked up a copy on DVD of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady, released in 2004 to much acclaim. I can comfortably say it's one of the most wonderful films I have seen in recent years. No less! Ostensibly, it's a love story, or two love stories featuring the same actors, between a young farm boy working in an ice factory and a soldier. But, true to form, Apichatpong's approach to this superficially simple premise, is fascinating, elliptical, and deeply mystical. His musings on the hunter/prey nature of the two (or fours) characters' interactions are thoughtful and emotionally resonant, particularly in the second half, where the soldier heads off into the jungle in pursuit of a man-eating tiger who turns out to be the farm boy in shapeshifter form. Disorientated and worn out, the soldier finds himself transitioning from being the hunter to the hunted, but what kind of prey is he, exactly? As in Uncle Boonmee, the photography is stunning, particularly the lush jungle landscapes into which the characters seem at times to dissolve; and the use of sound is marvelous. And the way the two stories echo into one another, notably the way the second section informs our memory of the first, is a clear demonstration of Apichatpong's remarkable talent.

Alongside Ingmar Bergman, Werner Herzog may be my favourite film director of all time (February is the month for hyperbole!), and I treated myself to a double bill of Stroszek (1976) and Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht (1979). The former is one of Herzog's best-loved films, and it's easy to see why. Everything is pitch-perfect, from the superb central performance by actor Bruno S to the neatly written script and gritty cinematography. The film charts the life of street musician Bruno Stroszek as he is released from prison, reunited with his prostitute girlfriend, Eva, and sets off with her and their elderly neighbour for a life in the depths of Wisconsin. As the trio realise life is no brighter in America than it is in Berlin, Eva takes off with a pair of truckers and their mobile home is repossessed, prompting the increasingly exasperated and despondent Bruno to embark on a heist as bizarre as it is tragic. Throughout the film, Herzog deftly balances humour and pathos, with even the brighter moments, such as the arrival in Wisconsin, underpinned by a sense of foreboding.
Nosferatu is a remake of Friedrich Murnau's 1922 masterpiece of the same name (different subtitle, mind), and one of the few remakes that matches the original. Like Murnau, Herzog expertly evokes the creepy atmosphere of this German take on Bram Stoker's Dracula (aided by a wonderful score by Popol Vuh, ubiquitous at the time on Herzog soundtracks), using lighting, set design and dialogue to heighten tension and malice (the opening credits, set over images of mummified corpses, are particularly scary). But the real focal point of the film is a truly mesmerising central performance from Herzog regular Klaus Kinski, who manages to make his vampire count seem both terrifying and pitiful. The first confrontation between Dracula and Lucy Harker (played by the spectrally-beautiful Isabelle Adjani) is truly spell-binding, as the count threatens, terrifies and pleads with Lucy to let him have her - and feel true love. Somehow, despite the grotesque make-up and general aura of menace around him, Kinski manages to underline the tragic loneliness of Count Dracula. It's one of horror cinemas most ambiguous masterpieces.

Des Hommes et Des Dieux (Of Gods and Men), by French director Xavier Beauvois, won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and created such a buzz that I was very excited to be able to go and see at Kilburn's excellent Tricycle cinema. The film recounts the true story of seven French monks who lived in Algeria at the time of the country's bloody upheaval and civil war in the mid-90s, and six of whom were murdered in as-yet unclear circumstances, possibly at the hands of Islamists. The film focuses on the build-up to this terrible event, as news filters to the monks of atrocities commited against foreigners in Algeria, and they have to confront their fears, as well as their faith. Perhaps the most riveting scenes are the ones where the seven are seated around a table, debating whether or not they should flee. The tension at these moments is palpable, especially as one of the brothers is so palpably terrified, whilst others apparently resent the leadership of Brother Christian (played by Lambert Wilson). However, the pace of the film is occasionally too languid and, whilst Beauvois does well to highlight the close ties the monks had with their muslim neighbours, there seems to be a certain aimlessness about the film, as if the director is unsure of what he's trying to say, beyond the fact that these were decent men. As such, there's a certain lack of intellectual depth, dramatic urgency or tension, compared to, say, Gus Van Sant's Elephant, another film that builds towards a known-but-still-shocking climax.

Last but not least, I also had the peculiar experience last month of watching the notorious and controversial Caligula (1979), by Tinto Brass (although he pretty much disowned it, as did scriptwriter Gore Vidal). Few films have inspired such loathing as Caligula, with esteemed critic -and possibly my favourite Twitterer- Roger Ebert awarding it 0 stars out of four. There have been many edits of the film, and for a long time all you could get was a truncated version with most of the most shocking moments removed. But it was re-released in all its opulent, excessive "glory" a couple of years back and, for all the controversy, I was rather curious. This is a film that could only have been made in the seventies, a decade when directors were able to get away with just about anything (see the marathon production of Apocalypse Now, for example; and this was, after all, the decade that gave us Straw Dogs, Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange and Pink Flamingos), and it features some of the most extraordinary, outlandish sets and set pieces ever committed to film, the wholelot illuminated by garish colours and filled to breaking point at times with extras. Ostensibly telling the life story of Roman Emperor Caligula Caesar (Malcolm McDowell), from his ascension to the throne up until his brutal murder, the plot mainly serves to accompany the lurid, hardcore, often unsimulated and shockingly graphic sex scenes cobbled together onto the film by producer Bob Guccione. However, whilst the taste of the producers is clearly very poor, and the whole thing feels like a drug-fuelled mess, there is something in the sheer audacity and excess that I found quite entertaining, albeit not very intellectually stimulating. McDowell is typically manic and charming, and there are several scenes of breathtaking photographic beauty. It's never enough to overcome the flaws (dodgy editing, poor acting from support actors, wonky syorylines), but it remains pretty unique, and a testament to a bolder, more excessive period in cinema history.

Before I go, I just need to reiterate my appreciation of Branden W. Joseph's wonderful biography of Tony Conrad, Beyond the Dream Syndicate: Tony Conrad and the Arts after Cage (Zone Books). Taking a notion of "minor" history, as laid out by Gilles Deleuze, Joseph uses Conrad as a continual thread to explore the development of a number of artistic and musical strands in the sixties, such as minimalism, concept art and structural film. As such, the story of Tony Conrad brings into focus the works of luminaries like Henry Flynt, Jack Smith, George Maciunas, LaMonte Young and Charlemagne Palestine, all of whom Conrad worked with, inspired, and was inspired by. It's a fascinating, challenging and exceptionally well-researched book, and required reading for anyone interested in contemporary art, film and music. More here: http://www.zonebooks.org/titles/JOSE_BEY.html.

I leave you as news that Colonel Gaddafi's army keeps making headway against the pro-democracy Libyan rebels and an horrific tsunami and earthquake have battered Japan. The world doesn't get any less scary, does it?


- J Phimister

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


The FRAYED manifesto

A FRAYED Expression is not about TRUTH. The FRAYED Expression does not seek TRUTH, nor does it express it.

FRAYED Expressions confront reality. The reality of “being”. Any reality of “being”. All realities of “being”.
A FRAYED Expression, therefore, is an ASSAULT on the individual. Specifically, it’s an ASSAULT on personality and self-awareness. It’s perceptive. The FRAYED Expression seeks the abnegation of “being”, the dissolution of “being”, whether it’s that of the “expresser” (i.e. the individual, or individuals, doing the expressing) or that of the “receiver” (the individual, or individuals, receiving the expression, and whom of course can be, or become, “expresser(s)). Or both.

Excessive sonic volume. High-pitched, or abrasive sounds. Extreme physical or psychological effort. The omnipresence of impersonal elements, such as blank screens, veils, inanimate objects or masks. Confrontation. The reconfiguration of artistic relationships. These are elements that can be used in a FRAYED expression, in order to subvert CONTROL, to challenge PERSONALITY and to dissolve IDENTITTY. This is the aim of the FRAYED Expression.

A FRAYED Expression aims at a new PERCEPTION, one that goes beyond the INDIVIDUAL, and into the COLLECTIVE, or even the INFINITE.


© Joseph Burnett, March 2011