Layla Sailor's gorgeous photo series, Kokoshnik, examines the traditional Russian headdress in a gloriously colorful and modern fashion. Historically worn by married women from the 16th to 19th centuries, the customary kokoshnik is generally characterized by a nimbus crest-like shape and decorative design. By contrast, Sailor's photos, a collaboration with designer Lisa Stannard, are an apt abstraction of the traditional headdress, incorporating lively geometric forms as well floral and animalistic elements, while honoring the intense, ornate design of the traditional pieces. The impetus for the series was to challenge how pattern is photographed, but nearing its completion, Kokoshnik took on additional meaning, as a way to show support for the members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot, a feminist punk rock group who were protested the Orthodox Church's support of Vladimir Putin on the soleas of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior and were subsequently arrested. In Sailor's photo, the phase “Let Our Sisters Go” is placed prominently and resonates as solidarity for the cause of freeing Pussy Riot. The Kokoshnik project is exemplary of Sailor's affinity for color and her talent for displaying imaginative and cinematic images.In the interview below, Sailor dishes on her dreamy style, her lifelong passion for folk art, and the distinctions between commercial and personal work.

 

Amassing rare and forgotten music is a peculiar sort of hobby -- one that slowly transforms into an addiction. It's not that I don't love mainstream music. It's just that the thrill of listening to some forgotten gem that everybody else has overlooked is powerful. It also feeds into the collector's impulse I have to overturn every stone to find that song, and my love of complete collections. Not surprisingly, I also like to collect comic books. I guess I'm the type. In any event, here are five lesser-known musicians that I believe everybody should give a listen to, dating as far back as the 1910s and focusing on jazz, folk, and blues.

Don Byas (1912 – 1972)

I discovered Don Byas entirely by accident. I was listening to a Charlie Christian fan recording made in 1941, which was a musician's after-hours gig. There was a tenor saxophone present for some of the songs that sounded so much like Coleman Hawkins that I read the liner notes to see if it was him – only to discover that it wasn't the Hawk, but a guy named Don Byas. I quickly borrowed all the Don Byas CDs I could request and immediately got into him. His playing consistently impressed me, just as it did on that initial Charlie Christian album. Early bebop musicians like Byas were rooted in Swing traditions but wanted to play around with harmonic structure in their songs and experiment, which for me is a "best of both worlds" situation. Don Byas should be on the list of brilliant tenor saxophone players, among Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Sonny Rollins. In collaboration with Hawkins, he made what are considered to be the first Bebop recordings in 1944. Yet he is frequently omitted in jazz history courses, in books and in documentaries, meaning that newer fans of jazz might miss him entirely. Part of this is because Byas lived in Europe from 1945 onward and rarely visited the United States, giving him a large European audience but a smaller American fanbase. You might start by checking out the song that got me hooked: "Stardust" with Charlie Christian.
Purchase Don Byas Albums On Amazon ++ LEARN MORE ABOUT DON BYAS Don Byas - "1944 Stomp" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Don-Byas_1944-Stomp.mp3|titles=Don Byas - 1944 Stomp] Don Byas - "Byas A Drink" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Don-Byas_Byas-A-Drink.mp3|titles=Don Byas - Byas A Drink]  

Efterklang's latest album, Piramida, is more than just an exercise in songwriting; it is an attempt to connect the creation of an album with a specific location. The site where the band chose to record is a veritable ghost town, an abandoned coal-mining colony still controlled by the Russian company that left it behind in 1998. Situated between the Arctic Circle and the North Pole, the place is empty, bitter cold, and only reachable by boat. Piramida shares its name with this strange place, and the eerie and wonderful sounds collected there ultimately comprised the album's distinctive structural elements.
"You can for sure say that the context directs the music in a certain direction. Songs written on guitars come out different than songs written on pianos. A ghost town is quiet and a perfect place to make recordings. It is a brilliant setting for recording sound." - Rasmus Stolbreg of Efterklang
 

Amassing rare and forgotten music is a peculiar sort of hobby -- one that slowly transforms into an addiction. It's not that I don't love mainstream music. It's just that the thrill of listening to some forgotten gem that everybody else has overlooked is powerful. It also feeds into the collector's impulse I have to overturn every stone to find that song, and my love of complete collections. Not surprisingly, I also like to collect comic books. I guess I'm the type. In any event, here are five lesser-known musicians that I believe everybody should give a listen to, dating as far back as the 1920s and focusing on jazz, folk, and blues.

Mississippi Joe Callicott (1899 - 1969)

Callicott was not your typical North Mississippi blues musician. Musicians from the hill country tend to vamp on a few chords, focusing on a droning, almost hypnotic sound; Callicott was a fingerpicker in the vein of a Piedmont guitarist, with a dash of Jimmie Rodgers. He recorded three songs independently in 1929 and 1930: "Fare Thee Well Blues," "Traveling Mama," and "Mississippi Boll Weevil Blues", the last of which went unreleased. Two additional tracks were recorded with Garfield Akers, the "Cottonfield Blues" -- and here, his finger picking is energetic and nimble, bordering on aggressive.1 After the 1930 session, he went unrecorded for 37 years. He was not totally forgotten, however, as his songs started to appear in anthologies of Delta Blues. He was eventually found in Nesbit, Mississippi by George Mitchell, who recorded several songs with him in August 1967. These became the basis for a number of records and re-releases, the best of which was probably Fat Possum's Ain't a Gonna Lie to You. Unfortunately, his guitar playing had diminished somewhat by this time, but his voice had matured beautifully. His singing on "Frankie and Albert" is expressive and full of sadness yet was beautiful and nuanced throughout. After these sessions, he recorded several songs for Blue Horizons which were a bit lower-quality and rougher. He died in 1969 and was only recently given a proper headstone. Purchase Mississippi Joe Callicott Albums On Amazon Mississippi Joe Callicott - "Cottonfield Blues" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Joe-Callicott_Cottonfield-Blues.mp3|titles=Mississippi Joe Callicott - Cottonfield Blues] Mississippi Joe Callicott - "Frankie And Albert" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Joe-Callicott_Frankie-And-Albert.mp3|titles=Mississippi Joe Callicott - Frankie And Albert]  

Cyclopean Cyclopean Mute Records / Spoon Records (2013) Named after an ancient construction style involving stacks of irregularly-shaped rocks, Cyclopean is an instrumental quartet comprised of Burnt Friedman, Jono Podmore, and two founding members of Can, Jaki Liebezeit and Irmin Schmidt. In line with their namesake, Cyclopean piece together disjointed building blocks to form sonic megaliths, as if to stress not just the importance of an impressive final form, but of minute attention to detail as well. Repetition and minimalism go hand-in-hand on Cyclopean; finely-tuned percussive components and well-placed electronic drones, noises, and theremin textures comprise the foundation of the record. Though the EP initially weighs heavy, it grows increasingly airy as it progresses. By its end, it has been loosened from its restrictive ground tethers, ready to float off like a castle in the sky.

 

Lansè Kòd (The Rope Throwers) 1996
Every year, Carnaval comes and goes across the entire world, tantalizing everyone with its fanciful costuming and celebratory antics. But beyond the tourist circuit of Carnival lies another Carnival, in locales with a connection closer to the festival's origins. Haiti is one of many countries that celebrates Carnival at their own pace, and over the course of many years, photographer Leah Gordon was able to capture the beauty of those festivities in Jacmel, a coastal town in the south. Kanaval is a black and white photographic series, true -- but it is, more importantly, a series on awareness, about culture, and inclusive of mythology. After this series was taken, Haiti suffered its devastating earthquake and Jacmel was completely decimated. Gordon's photographs, along with her heart-felt introduction to the series and the many oral mythologies passed down to her from carnival participants, can be viewed in the full post. Together, they forever capture a wonderful space in time and call attention to Haiti's creative and spiritual existence. We begin with a tale from Madanm Lasiren, which is just the first of many.
Madanm Lasirèn (Madame Mermaid) 2003

Madanm Lasiren Andre Ferner, 59 years

Lasiren is a spirit that lives under the sea and does mystical work there, she is a Vodou spirit, I dream of Lasiren all the time. That is the reason I do Lasiren for Mardi Gras. I chose Lasiren because my grandmother, father and mother all served the spirits, I love her & honour her. The baby that I carry in my arms is the child of Lasiren who is called Marie Rose. When I walk the streets I sing her song which goes ' I am Lasiren and I cry for Lasiren, when I work mystically in the night bad luck can come my way'. I prepare for Lasiren by putting on a hat, a mask and carrying an umbrella. I put on a necklace and gloves. This necklace is called Mambo Welcome, it is a fetish. Because Lasiren is a fish she has to disguise herself as a woman to be at Mardi Gras. My mask and hat cover her fish's head. And the dress she wears covers her fish's tail. The chain I wear is a sacred chain. Each year I change the disguise and fashion a new baby. In order to get inspiration I go to the place where the big beasts live and they instruct me how to do Mardi Gras. I have been doing this for 18 years. Before that I did another Mardi Gras call Patoko. This was a group of men who were dressed as women, with a nice dresses and high heeled shoes. We did a marriage between men and woman on the street. After that we had a group called the duck who carried brushes in their hands wearing blue trousers, white t-shirts, new sandles and a scarf around our waists. We swept the streets of Jacmel. I have always found a way of doing a Mardi Gras.
Kanaval will be on display for free at PHI Centre in Montreal (407, rue Saint-Pierre), from February 25th to April 27th, 2013. Opening night happens at 7:30pm on February 23rd, and its $175 ticket price (or a $400 VIP ticket) includes Haitian food, giveaways, and performances by Haitian dance groups, Haitian band Doody and Kami, and The Arcade Fire, who have a blog dedicated to their own trip to Haiti. All proceeds will go towards KANPE, a non-profit "born of a desire to play an integral part in the fight to help Haiti break free from a vicious cycle of poverty", through programs in health, education, agriculture, counseling, and other community services. Full event details can be seen at PopMontreal.
(12 IMAGES TOTAL)

 

In this back-to-back exploration of animal portraiture, the bleak reality of unwanted shelter dogs contrasts sharply against the vividness of exotic animals set against brilliant backdrops. Ultimately, both celebrate life and humanity's relationship to the animal kingdom, though in vastly different ways. The full post includes personal summaries on what each artist hopes to accomplish with the series. (12 IMAGES TOTAL)

 

Karen Knorr

In Karen Knorr's India Song series, she digitally inserts rare and wild animals, from cranes and tigers to elephants, in ornate north Indian buildings. Where Yun-Fei Tou's appeal to human nature is more obvious (below), Knorr's is more veiled and steeped in cultural knowledge. According to her website, "The photographic series considers men's space (mardana) and women's space (zanana) in Mughal and Rajput palace architecture, havelis and mausoleums through large format digital photography."
The Queen's Room, Zanana, Udaipur City Palace

Yun-Fei Tou

For his Memento Mori series, Taiwanese photographer Yun-Fei Tou has taken over 40,000 portraits of dogs just hours away from euthanization. By seating the dogs in upright, human-like positions, they become almost human-like, giving viewers more to relate to. "I believe something should not be told but should be felt," says Tou, in an interview with Huffington Post. "And I hope these images will arouse the viewers to contemplate and feel for these unfortunate lives, and understand the inhumanity we the society are putting them through."
12:09PM, 10/24/2011, Taiwanese Public Animal Shelter, Time until Euthanized: 1.9 Hours

 

During the 1960s, a flood of immigration brought thousands of Turks from their homeland to Germany, with promises of well-paying career opportunities. Without cultural context, one might find such a German and Turkish association to be bizarre -- but when given historical context, which the heartwarming and humorous Almanya -- Willkommen in Deutschland provides, one begins to understand the fascinating culture surrounding that population, which has now spent decades in a foreign country. Almanya documents the story of a Turkish family, headed by a grandpa who has seen his children grow to father more children in Germany. Each member of the large family seems to hold a different opinion about his or her Turkish-German upbringing and personal degree of assimilation -- so when grandpa declares over dinner that he has purchased a home in Turkey and would like to take a family trip for everyone to see it, he is met with much resistance. Even his wife of many years is surprised and disappointed by the news. To this, he sternly questions, "Have I ever asked anything of you?" and the family falls silent, only to eventually acquiesce to grandpa's will. From there, the film flies through timelines and decades, recapping the family's immigration from Turkey to Germany with all of the pomp and romanticism that all who dream of a new opportunities no doubt have. But while the film humorously spotlights the excitement of grandpa's past, it also expresses, on the behalf of both the grandparents and their Turkish-born children, a sense of nostalgia for a motherland that lies as a gateway between Europe and Asia. SEE FULL FILM REVIEW AND TRAILER

 

Imagine the possibilities of world revolution – an upheaval of design, and distribution of resources lighting the path to global peace and (relative) happiness. The largesse of this task is daunting, and has throughout history been commandeered by a few ambitious individuals. Thoughts like these swirled about in a small man with coke-bottle glasses: the inimitable R. Buckminster Fuller. Inventor, engineer, architect, theorist, orator, among many other things, Fuller was first and foremost a futurist – an optimistic man bent on improving his social, political, psychic and physical world with radical thought. His unique life and lifestyle have created an altogether compelling character of sizeable proportion, comprised of all the quirks, hiccups, and gemstone moments worthy of a Wes Anderson-inspired montage. And certainly, director Sam Green’s treatment of Fuller and his life work is admirable in The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, a live documentary collaboration with indie rock veterans Yo La Tengo.
SEE FULL REVIEW

 

At this moment, your mind is receiving stimuli that defines the space around you. Infinite waves of molecular interactions are coursing through your body, separating isness from notness, being from perception, object from space; determining the contours of your physical and mental limits while daring you to shatter them. Space is your space, the loop from your mind to subject and back. There is room for much confusion here due to latency -- the time it takes to complete the loop -- but there is also room for exploration, for realization, and for creation. How we fill the space is up to us. The opportunity a wonderful gift which can be made even more powerful when we share it with other people -- when we bottle the loop so that others can trace its orbit. We do this through every creative act, and yet, some are more obvious than others. Architecture, for example, or sculpture, but what about words? What about music? There are sounds that define and create spaces that feel more real than those confirmed by visual or physical cues. These are the sounds that characterize the music of both Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, and The Congos. All three artists are prone to constructing material hallucinations from sonic vibrations. And now, in 2012, we have Icon Give Thank, a record combining Sun Araw's desert acid zones with The Congos' Kingston temples into one heroic dose. Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw, Geddes Gengras, Ashanti Roy of The Congos, and director Tony Lowe all chime in on this interview, to offer a glimpse into the divergent cultural and creative worlds that intersected in the creation of a final record and short film product.

Sun Araw

"Crete" from Ancient Romans

M. Geddes Gengras

April 2012 Tour Set

The Congos

"Fisherman" From Heart Of The Congos