Some artists are prolific, churning out project after project at a speed that leaves onlookers wondering about their superhuman pace. Some have a much slower process -- painstaking in intricate detail -- and Eric Beltz is one of the latter. A drawing teacher at University of Santa Barbara, Beltz is a...

This audio-visual collaboration between Portland-based avant-garde metal outfit, The Body, and NYC mixed media artist Alexander Barton has been a long time coming, a homage to an enduring friendship. Combining their mutual shared interest in intensity, abstraction, and religious themes, the music video for "To Attempt Oneness" pits The Body's guttural, distorted screams and noisy, rumbling guitars against Barton's bleeding ink painting -- an extension of his earlier performance which used real pig's blood. The final product holds a viewer's fascination with its impressively slow and minimal unfolding, the most entertaining way possible to watch paint dry. To celebrate the very recent release of The Body's Christs, Redeemers on Thrill Jockey Records, we offer you a side-by-side interview with artist Alexander Barton and The Body's drummer Lee Buford, as they speak of music, aesthetics, and the world. The Body are currently on a nation-wide tour; dates at the bottom of this post.
V V Brown has released three albums since 2009 -- but it is only now that she is making a foray into the independent music world. Freshly divorced from her former major label home, Capitol Records, V V Brown has recently found renewed strength in herself as an artist with her latest record, Samson & Delilah. Themed around the Biblical tale, which mirrors the themes of vulnerability, slavery, and freedom that led to her massive career change, Samson & Delilah also presents a sonic change into moodier and darker territories, where hints of The Knife echo through, replacing previous tendencies towards mainstream pop appeal. A bold new audio-visual approach accompanies the record as well, in the form of a dramatic, carefully-plotted fifteen-minute short film directed by Jessica Hughes. Comprised into three separate music videos, the film bears similarity to mesmerizing black and white Japanese classics by Akira Kurosawa or Masaki Kobayashi, while catching a mood not unlike that of Ingmar Bergman films. They're transportive from part to part, leaving viewers wondering about the terrains to be crossed next. In this Q&A interview about the creative process of the short film, V V Brown speaks of being inspired by geishas and noir, Biblical stories and archetypal characters -- and the feeling of finding one's own artistic voice.
"Samson and Delilah is a story about strength and weakness. It's about the pendulum between the two. The story for me conjured up the idea of empowerment and fragility. When Samson was deceived by his love and was in the wilderness discovering and finding himself, waiting for his hair to grow back, this represents times in my life I have felt lost creatively. Hair clipped and [with] a sense of vulnerability. Delilah was the deceiver. Samson represents the artist and Delilah represents the cooperation. The Artist can often loose the strength of their messages in the corporate arena, and my own record label exercises my freedom and new strength." - V V Brown
One of the most peculiar things about living in Seattle at the moment is the fact that there are not one, but two ridiculously over-the-top psych rock divas here. I mean, what are the freaking odds? Of course, I've probably written about Midday Veil to the point of complete overkill by now, but you know, they continue to do weird shit that amazes me, so until that stops, I'll keep up with it. What I haven't mentioned is the oneiric excellence of their smoky contemporaries Rose Windows. The reason for that probably has to do with the fact that it took several years to congeal their debut album, The Sun Dogs, into existence. Although the band initially blew me away live due largely to the sheer concussive force of vocalist Rabia Qazi, it wasn't until the disc dropped in June (on Sub Pop Records, no less) that I truly processed the depth of songwriting and lyrical complexity going down in that camp. Highly recommended. As it turns out, this depth comes largely from the blazed mind of guitarist Chris Cheveyo, and as I learned when I caught up with him by e-mail, it's channeled primarily from deep meditative states. How do musicians initially trained in oppressive religious traditions end up twerking on stage with Big Freedia (that happened) and making cameos in upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson movies? Weed, that's how. Read on, true believers.

I've oft wondered how radically different our music culture would be if say, venues were allowed to turn a profit from other drugs. Thanks to John Hopkins University, we're now for the first time since the '60s seeing studies which suggest psilocybin can be used for all kinds of freaky deaky shit -- like say, alleviating people's fear of death. I personally use them to peer into the intricate depths of the thousand-eyed hive mind, but to each their own. Am I the only one who's beyond weirded out by the fact that there's only one legal recreational drug? It's shamelessly pushed down our throats, and what does it do? It binds us here and keeps us stupid; that's what it does. It's called mind control my friends, pure and simple. You can drink booze! It's all over the fucking place. There are literally billions of potential recreational compounds which we could choose as the foundation for our cultural activities, and that's the one we get. You've got to stop thinking this makes any sense. I've always joked that if you want to get paid playing music, you should start a cover band. The reason is simple: the game's been rigged. Clubs make their money off booze and drunk people want to hear songs they already know and can sing along with. Hell, I do when I'm drunk. Timeless states of being are always within our reach through the use of psychoactive substances, meditation, breathing exercises, dream manipulation, and other natural methods -- but it's also nice to know that Midday Veil frontwoman Emily Pothast's fledgling record label, Translinguistic Other, is on the forefront of helping you achieve them with even greater ease through sonic invocation. I caught up with the prolific Miss Pothast (pronounced like “hottest") to discuss some of these topics, and some other stuff that happened to be going through my head when I drew up the questions. I was kind of drunk.

Q&A With Emily Pothast, Translinguistic Other Founder & Midday Veil Vocalist

I first became interested in Gnosticism when I was living in a part of Texas that is completely dominated by fundamentalist Christianity. I knew the dominant culture was fucked, but I didn’t feel like it was useful to be completely dismissive of the religious mythologies that held so much resonance for these people. I wanted to know where these ideas came from and to see if I could learn something about the patterns behind them. -- Emily Pothast, on mysticism

Andrew Dinwiddie has meticulously recreated a live sermon by the evangelist preacher Jimmy Swaggart, recorded in Van Buren, Arkansas, circa 1971. In a remarkably fluent echo of the original (peppered with emphatic interjections, "Huh!") Dinwiddie inhabits the persona of the Pentecostal firebrand as he spits and fulminates up and down...

2010 began on a dark note for artist Christopher Davison. His Disasters Are People Too series kicked off the year, and much like a poet or musician wearing his heart on his sleeve through words, Davison displayed his innermost feelings through strokes on canvas. The series was a reflection of the year 2009 -- a difficult year of transformation of Davison. Through the black-and-white gouache paintings featuring dismembered, mangled body parts floating through dark landscapes, one got the sense of incompleteness, and even the lack of gravity in the pieces did nothing to ease their weight.
"Overall, [2009] had me feeling like I had been knocked off my horse," Davison explains. "The economy was one thing, but I was also trying to push my art into new and unknown territory. It took the whole year for me to really feel like I had the brushes under control." For the first time, Davison began relying almost exclusively on gouache, as opposed to following his previous mixed media routine, which included the use of inks and pens. The darkness pervading the Disasters Are People Too series was heavy, but it was necessary fodder for Davison to move forward. His newer work is brighter and more colorful, and features what Davison calls a "genuine marriage" between his love for rich blacks and colors. They are well-balanced and seem to perfectly parallel Davison's personal tastes.

 

"I've always been a sucker for melancholic music and films. No one really borrows movies from me because when they look in my cabinet, they see Ingmar Bergman, Adam Curtis documentaries, or Jan Svankmajer animations. Likewise, the albums in my heavy rotation always sound better at night or in the winter. So, if media indicates anything, it’s that color may come and go, but black is here to stay." - Christopher Davison