The Wooster Collective's There's Still Time, Brother, is quite the interactive filmmaking achievement. Displayed in a circular room, it features the composite of twelve different cameras, stitched together loosely to fill a 360-degree space. From the center of the room, stools radiate outwards, and one...
Sun Wu-Kong is a character in Chinese lore that I grew up with, so it is of particular interest to me that Alexis Gideon will be reinventing it in rock opera form. This will be showing at Disjecta at 8:00pm on September 3rd.
Check out this...
Portland conceptual artist Abraham Ingle's first solo show is quite a curious one. Starting today at False Front Studio in Portland, Ingle will be displayed his socially-inspired art. The show, entitled If A Tree Falls… consists of all new practice projects which explore notions of...
The fine folks at We Are Post Rock have captured Red Sparowes on video for all to see and love. Considering their shows are quite dark and lit by only video projections, this video takes in the vibe and atmosphere of a Red Sparowes show...
"I think the real problem is that people can become so easily fooled by jumping to the wrong conclusions or just oversimplifying things, or trying to find meaning in something that doesn't exist or is meaningless." -- Dave Clifford...
Stencil matrices pasted up on wooden planks and carefully removed selectively = stencil posters. It's a technique developed by street artists Sten & Lex.
It's a hard to explain unless you see it in action. So...
Pioneer Square's First Thursday Art Walk is coming up the First Thursday of May 2010, as it tends to do. I recently stumbled across La Familia Gallery's promotional tool for their Art Walk openings, and it's a great idea! I'm surprised I haven't seen the...
For two months in early 2008, Portland-based electropop duo YACHT set up camp in a small town located in the desert of West Texas, away from the city lights, but at the threshold of a completely different type of lights. Known as the Marfa Lights, the inexplicable dashes of lights that appear every night in the sky of Marfa, Texas, impacted Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans, the two members of YACHT, in a profound way. On many occasions during their two-month stay in Marfa, the pair would grab a blanket, sit on the roof of their car, and observe the lights in the open desert. Not only did the lights go on to become the biggest inspiration for YACHT's latest album, See Mystery Lights, but they also changed Bechtolt and Evans' view of the world.
"We'd seen something truly rare, truly magic, truly unexplained, and yet evidently real," the pair explain. "Coming face-to-face with something like that changes you. It humbles you. It puts our microscopic human relevance in the grand scheme of this cavernous universe into perspective. We had long conversations about the lights and their implications to us as people. Although we're very different from one another, they affected us identically."
Bechtolt was the first out of the two to see the Marfa lights. In 2004, some people in Austin recommended that he make a stop to see the lights in Marfa while on his way to California. After seeing the lights, he drove to Los Angeles to play a show and met Evans for the first time; her band was also on the bill. Later on, while traveling together, they decided to check out the Marfa lights together.
The lights made such a lasting impression on the two that in 2008, they decided to rent a house in Marfa in hopes of producing some type of tribute to their experience. At the time, they were not sure if it would be in the form of music.
"We didn't entirely know why we had come to Marfa, except that we wanted to know what it was like to live alongside the phenomenon," they say.
The first thing that they came up with was an 8-minute compilation of mantras. Bechtolt and Evans decided to create the tribute around their own belief system after becoming interested in human rituals of esotericism and mysticism. Given pop music's tendency to feature repetitive elements, it was only natural for Bechtolt and Evans to mold the mantras into the tracks that make up See Mystery Lights.
While the songs do contain Bechtolt and Evans' thoughts on topics such as heaven, hell, darkness, and light, they do not come off as commanding. YACHT do not go off on rants; instead, they hone in on catchy one-liners , such as "It's not a place you go/ It's a place that comes to you," on the song "The Afterlife."
As we find ourselves suddenly thrust into the midst of the information/overpopulation age, some unsettling realities about the nature or our species' brilliant endeavors become harder and harder to suppress from our collective psyche. We know that our government starts wars solely to funnel money into the military/prison industrial complex. We know that we've sold out our political voice to those of inanimate corporate deities. Our excess is gleaned from the blackened heart of human exploitation and spiritual vacancy. These things have become increasingly obvious, and yet, your average person is ultimately powerless to change them on a grand scale. The overwhelmingly tragicomic trajectory of our collective plotlines can possess anyone with the urge to detach themselves from what some people still call "reality".
Spring 2010 Interview
But it's not all unsettling. There's a transcendent beauty lurking in the depths of our current art explosion. With increased technological advances, more people than ever can exteriorize their internal realms of consciousness for less. It's this desire to distance oneself in an alternate universe of creative information, combined with disgust at America's obsession with "power of positive thinking" mind rape psychology, that inspired Liars' latest album, Sisterworld. Following a string of brilliant full-lengths, Sisterworld finds the band continuing to challenge themselves. Some artists find their sound and pummel a pattern ad infinitum, but it's always more exhilarating to watch artists take serious risks -– which is something Liars have never shied away from doing. Combine this with a fervent dedication to the visual side of the project (the full-length DVD companion to Drums Not Dead is a lo-fi video art masterpiece), and it's not surprising that art rock megaliths Radiohead hand-picked Liars to open for them on their last tour.
On the verge of their latest release, Aaron Hemphill and Angus Andrew were nice enough to answer a few questions via e-mail. (Editor's note: All formatting from their responses is original!).
ARTICLE CONTINUED BELOW
Liars "Scissor" from A Bruntel on Vimeo.
One of the underlying themes of Sisterworld is how people form their own worlds and social networks to deal with the continuing onslaught of our society brought forth by population expansion and new information technologies. Where'd the idea for this theme come from, and how do you guys personally build your own "sisterworlds," as it were?Angus Andrew: AARON AND I BEGAN TALKING ABOUT HOW WE OFTEN FEEL DISLOCATED FROM WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND US. SOME KIND OF LACK OF CONNECTION WITH THE MILIEU. WE SPOKE ABOUT THIS GENERALLY AS IT RELATES TO MUSIC AND CULTURE, AND THEN REFINED THE IDEA AS WE FOCUSED MORE ON LOS ANGELES. I THINK MUSIC IS OUR SISTERWORLD, BUT WE EACH HAVE LOTS OF WAYS OF CREATING THE SPACE WE NEED. FOR EXAMPLE WE'RE ALL PRETTY AVID GARDENERS.
Aaron Hemphill: IT WASN'T REALLY THE EVENT OF ARRIVING AT THIS IDEA, MORE THAT ANGUS' AND MY SUBJECT MATTER AND MUSICAL MOODS CONVERGED ON THE SUBJECT. THIS WAS THE COMMON SUBJECT... ONE THAT COULD UNITE A BROAD SPECTRUM OF SOUNDS AND STILL BE COHESIVE. THE MORE I LEARN ABOUT MYSELF, THE MORE DETAILED AND SPECIFIC THE WORLD I FEEL I FIT IN BECOMES... THIS ADDS A LOT OF FEAR AND PARANOIA AS TO WHETHER OR NOT A PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION WILL EVER BE FOUND.
I personally use information technology as a means to deluge myself with a constant stream of art, books, movies, music, blogs, graphic novels etc. in an attempt to exist in somewhat of a parallel dimension of my own design. On that note, what other bands would you recommend right now for someone looking for a good escape from the horrors of our times? What kind of other artists, regardless of medium, have you been geeking out on as of late?Andrew: I LIKE TO READ A LOT. FOR ME, A GOOD AUTHOR CAN TAKE YOU ELSEWHERE. LATELY I'VE BEEN REALLY INTERESTED IN FIRST-TIME NOVELISTS. TOM MCCARTHY, STEPHAN HALL, STEVE TOLTZ, JOSHUA FERRIS -- ALL HAVE WRITTEN INTERESTING NOVELS RECENTLY.
Hemphill: NDS: THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS, SIGHTINGS, ONEIDA, PINK DOLLAZ, WU-TANG CLAN, KING TUBBY, CHOPIN, MORTON FELDMAN. ARTISTS: CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI. SADLY, ALEXANDER MCQUEEN'S DEATH HAS PROMPTED ME TO REACQUAINT MYSELF WITH HIS WORK.
Since your sound seems to vary so much from album to album but still retains a similar vibe, I was wondering how your songwriting process typically works. Does one person usually bring in most of the ideas or is it more collaborative? How does a typical Liars song come forth into the world? Do you conceptualize it beforehand or is it more of a spontaneous process?Andrew: WHEN WRITING FOR AN ALBUM, WE GENERALLY DISCUSS CERTAIN IDEAS OR MOODS WE'RE INTERESTED IN. THEN WE GO AWAY AND WORK INDIVIDUALLY ON CREATING SONGS THAT EXPRESS OUR OPINION OF THAT MOOD OR IDEA. ONCE A GOOD AMOUNT IS COLLECTED, OR ENOUGH TO MAKE US FEEL CONFIDENT THAT WE'RE ON THE RIGHT TRACK, WE'LL LISTEN AND TALK A BIT MORE ABOUT THE MATERIAL. IN THE FINAL STAGES, WE DECONSTRUCT THE SONGS AND RECONFIGURE THEM IN THE STUDIO.
Hemphill: TYPICALLY, ANGUS AND I PRODUCE FAIRLY COMPLETE DEMOS AND SHARE THEM WITH EACH OTHER. FOR THIS ALBUM, WE ALLOWED MORE TIME FOR EXPANSION AND REVISION DURING THE "SHARING" PHASE OF THE PROCESS.
The last time I talked with you was right before you went on tour with Radiohead. How was that experience as a whole? Are those guys really telepathic androids from the 5th dimension phase shifting through our time space in order to blow our minds, or are they fairly down-to-earth guys? If you had to pick one nugget of wisdom you took away from the whole experience, what would it be?Andrew: YEAH, THAT WAS A REALLY GREAT EXPERIENCE. AND THEY ARE EXTREMELY DOWN-TO-EARTH GUYS. I THINK ONE OF THE BEST THINGS TO WITNESS WAS HOW EACH OF THE MEMBERS IN THAT BAND CONTRIBUTED SO MUCH TO THE SOUND THEY CREATED ON STAGE. IT REALLY SEEMS LIKE EACH PERSON IS ABSOLUTELY INTEGRAL TO HOW THE BAND FUNCTIONS. THERE WEREN'T ANY TRICKS, EITHER; IT WAS ALL REAL.
Hemphill: GREAT. NO. THERE'S NEVER AN ACCEPTABLE AMOUNT OF PRESSURE.
You'd also mentioned before that you intentionally induce insomniac states as a means to bring about creative inspiration. Any such practices involved with the making of Sisterworld?Andrew: YEAH, REALLY, WHENEVER I HAVE THE CHANCE TO GET FOCUSED, I LOSE THE NEED FOR TIME. MY BODY CLOCK GOES OUT THE WINDOW, AND I LET THE WORK DICTATE REST. OFTEN I FIND MY IDEAS GET LOOSER AND MORE UNINHIBITED IN THE HOURS BEFORE COLLAPSE.
Hemphill: I HAD 2 SEPARATE INCIDENTS OF NERVE DAMAGE TO MY SKULL DURING THE WRITING AND RECORDING OF THIS ALBUM. WHAT THAT HAS CONTRIBUTED IS LEFT ANSWERED BY THE LISTENER, I SUPPOSE.
As someone who thinks in a more shamanic or magickal context, I think dreams are often direct communications with what some would refer to as a "holy guardian angel." With that in mind, what's the weirdest dream you've had in the last year or so, and what do you think it was trying to tell you if anything?Andrew: THE FIRST TRACK ON THE ALBUM WAS A DREAM. I DESCRIBE IT PRETTY LITERALLY IN THE SONG, BUT BASICALLY IT FELT LIKE SOMEONE CLOSE TO ME WAS DYING, AND I WAS INCAPABLE OF DOING ANYTHING TO HELP HIM OR HER. I WOKE WITH A HORRIBLE SENSE OF GUILT AND SOMEHOW FELT LIKE I WAS BEING REMINDED THAT I NEED TO BECOME MORE ENGAGED WITH MY SURROUNDINGS AND THE PEOPLE IN IT...
Hemphill: DREAMS FOR ME REMIND ME THERE'S A LARGE PORTION OF MY MIND I CANNOT CONTROL OR SUMMON. SCHIZOPHRENICS OFTEN RELATE THE LACK OF CONTROL IN A DREAM STATE WITH THE LACK OF CONTROL CONCERNING THEIR AUDITORY OR VISUAL HALLUCINATIONS. THAT BEING SAID, THE MOST HORRIFYING DREAMS I HAVE ARE FRIGHTENING DUE TO A LOOK OR DESIGN THAT IS COMPLETELY FOREIGN TO MY FAMILIAR TENDENCIES OR PRACTICES, YET OBVIOUSLY PRODUCED BY MY MIND. FOR EXAMPLE, I HAD A DREAM THAT TOOK PLACE IN A FUTURISTIC ENVIRONMENT WITH VISUAL ELEMENTS I WOULD NEVER CHOOSE, NOR IMAGES I WOULD INTENTIONALLY RECORD FOR MEMORY. THE FRIGHTENING THING IS THAT THERE IS A PORTION OF MY MIND THAT IS VERY ACTIVE, AND UNCONTROLLABLE.
With the release of their self-titled album in 2007, HEALTH, clad in tight jeans and neon t-shirts, solidified their place amongst hipsters and teens. But while the group quickly appealed to these demographics, they had alienated themselves from the mainstream, written off by many as musicians more concerned with style than music.
Two years later, their new album, Get Color, exemplifies their newfound maturity as songwriters and renders them whole conceptually. Whereas HEALTH went completely over the heads of mainstream audiences, Get Color is a bit more accessible to the layperson. Its tracks are more discernible as songs, and for the most part, they are no longer just noise, proving that HEALTH are more than a group with just a distinct fashion sense. While still experimental, the songs now harbor more melodies and qualities found in traditional songwriting.
"I think we just got better at writing our songs," says bassist John Famiglietti. "We don't want you to only like [our music] because you're supposed to like it or you like it because it's cool. I don't want you to scratch your fucking head. It should be immediate... I think [the new album] just makes our music more effective."
To drive this message home, the quartet recently come off a tour supporting Nine Inch Nails, and despite getting pretzels thrown at them in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and an equally terrible show in Jacksonville, Florida, Famiglietti has only great things to say about the experience.
"Trent is just about the coolest dude there is, especially for being someone who's like pretty openly worshiped by all people coming to the show," reveals Famiglietti. "After [our] first show, Trent was like, 'Hey, I don't even know what the hell's going on up there... why don't you guys use all the screens behind you?' We used literally several multi-million dollar LED screens which were like 20 feet high, and infrared cameras were put on all of us... our shows went way better after we had this gigantic light show."
BAND INTERVIEW CONTINUED BELOW