Friday, June 24, 2011

prurient at public assembly, 6/17/2011

Okay, so Dominick kept his shirt (his leather jacket) on after two years away. But thankfully, last Friday's show proved that his time in the increasingly annoying Cold Cave hasn't softened him too much. Wes Eisold's presence actually helped (note: I'm still not fond of him in any capacity) -- his relatively straightforward, logical playing and pop sensibilities made him a good foil to Fernow's more primal moments. Also, listen to "A Meal Can Be Made" off the upcoming/sorta already here if you still have a cassette player Bermuda Drain. What happened? It's pretty shiny. Borderline music. Is it a dance jam? IT IS A DANCE JAM. In theory.

Iceage, who were on right before Prurient, were good -- I just didn't get to experience anything because I kept getting pushed to the back of the room, and while New Brigade is a killer record, their live performance is still a bit hardcore by-the-numbers. It wasn't a letdown necessarily, just not the mindblowing performance hype (and photos of the bloodied lead singer) had led me to believe.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

plastic palace people

Is it just me, or did Resort 2012 fucking rule this year? I've never paid attention to it much, since I would never be a luxury season's target demographic. But this year, a lot of designers opened up to it in a way they haven't before; it's got the longest shelf-life of all collections, and pieces can be multi-seasonal. There were lovely urban greys from Helmut Lang and really cool (leopard???) prints and trousers from Preen, but the unstoppable Phoebe Philo really took the cake at Celine:

I have genuinely been thinking about plastic outerwear a lot lately. First there was this amazing PVC motorcycle jacket from Comme Des Garçons, and then I gave Diva a revisit. It's one of my favorite films for many reasons -- the blurring of the lines between high- and lowbrow, the balance of style-over-substance to a totally nebulous, convoluted plot involving an opera obsessive on a motorbike, a philosopher in his "cool period" who sits in a bathtub while his teenage Asian petty-thief girlfriend (?) rollerblades around, and a prostitituion ring, and I love the early '80s overuse of blue light. The aforementioned teenage Asian petty-thief teen has a killer plastic raincoat that scrunches with every move:

There's also plastic -- mixed in with other transparent, reflective materials -- in Bildnis Einer Trinkerin as one of many extraordinary hi-glam anarcho costumes designed by star Tabea Blumenschein (let's talk about her for a moment: did you know she was part of Die Tödliche Doris? And recorded a cracked-out Christmas single with Bettina Köster and Gudrun Gut of Malaria!? SO AWESOME). I'm sure we could find plastic coats in a whole host of late '70s/'80s hyper-stylized films...Liquid Sky, The Hunger perhaps? (Actually, none in The Hunger, not even that glorious opening scene. I think I like to misremember that movie as better than it actually was.)

I thought I'd gone all minimal. Is this my New Romantic tackiness coming out? Is there something we can make of this fleeting obsession (kids, never trust your film fashion inspirations: I have a friend who bought a denim vest after seeing the brooding antihero in some 1950s kitchen-sink drama and just ended up looking like a scrawny gogo dancer), especially when it comes to trenchcoats? Something about the teasing hypersexuality, the exhibitionism of a flasher coat + the exhibition of see-through material? Its artificiality or outdated vision of a dystopian sci-fi future? Wouldn't it just smell really bad?

klaus nomi and friend mean muggin'

Designers lately seem to have tempered its more outlandish tendencies and used plastic as an interesting, textural layering piece. The Celine coat above is divine -- the softness, the gradated grey, everything. If there's anyone who can make me feel right about plastic, it's the (active -- sorry Jil Sander) queen of minimalism.

jil sander mens s/s 2012

comme des garçons PVC motorcycle jacket

Please, weigh in with examples of your own -- perhaps some from the '90s? -- to convince me I'm not crazy or tasteless.

TASTEFUL EDIT! How the hell could I have forgotten Joanna Cassidy's coat in Blade Runner?

Okay. NOW weigh in.

Monday, June 13, 2011

summer pop

Oy. Three months and counting totally counts as a capital-H Hiatus, right? If anyone's lingered, apologies for dropping off the radar entirely. Even I can't quite say what I've been doing that's kept me away from the computer (I've been on the computer).

But in that long span of time between the shearling jacket-under-peacoat weather of early March and today, when it cooled down ever so slightly, summer totally happened. And while I've most certainly brought out the old "goths in hot weather" standbys -- notably paper-thin, slowly unraveling Obesity & Speed tops, sheer black button downs, and shroudy dresses -- the heat advisory index also justifies silly colors like lilac. (Wait until you see me in THAT one, oh Internet.) And if anyone can point me in the direction of a good sheer cobalt blouse, I'd be eternally grateful. Or tell me where in New York Cushnie et Ochs retails. I've been itching for this dusty floral button-down since, like, October.

With the grave danger of smudgy eyeliner, I've even taken a major step back in the black kohl department. The above is a sadly grainy shot of me sporting NARS' Funny Face fuschia; since I've well mined the depths of purple and plum lipstick, pink is kind of a terrifying territory. What the hell's next? Coral?! (hey, why not blue? My '90s post was eerily prescient.)

Summer also lends itself well to pop music: namely, the solo debut of my favorite Girl Aloud, alabaster cosmetics entrepreneur, and ginger goddess Nicola Roberts. While "Beat of My Drum" proves that Diplo continues to beat the dead horse that is a Major Lazer sample (and I LIKED "Pon De Floor." And I also LIKE Beyoncé's "Run The World (Girls)." Loads. I just don't have to hear it fifty times), "Porcelain Heart" and the recently leaked "Dance the Rain" demo show definite, heartbroken dance-pop promise à la Robyn or Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

More of substance to come. I'm really jazzed for Northside Festival -- the widdle L Magazine baby's all grown up and getting Guided by Voices! I'll be covering the whole shebang over at Prefix, but I'm most excited to check out Iceage, who I can sloppily describe as a Danish teenage Fucked Up by way of late-'70s goths.

I always link people to this one. Partly because it's a genius little clanger, and partly because of the giant smile homeboy on the right is sporting. Would YOU deny that face?!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

radio waves have life: omd at terminal 5

concert photos courtesy of kevin bendis

I've never been able to properly answer any question about favorite bands or songs. There's a cluster of about ten bands that have near-equal importance to me; even when you narrow it down to one artist, I'll go down the line of albums and choose at least three songs from each. I'm either indecisive or very, very generous with my love.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark -- as a combat to all the cheesy reviews of this tour using the "OMD? OMG!" pun, I almost want to write the name out every time in stubborn protest -- was just one band in that cluster. If I were to take on a feature akin to the AV Club's Permanent Records, I could effectively gush about any of the first four albums. (Forced to choose, it'd probably be Dazzle Ships, given the greater context of what led up to it, musique concrete experimentation unlike anything of its time, what it left in its wake for both the band and the industry at large, and the best case of revisionist history ever.)

Then, as mentioned a couple posts below, I had the opportunity to interview Andy McCluskey in anticipation of OMD's first North American tour in 23 years. You can -- and OUGHT to -- read that here. Even through the phone, I could tell that he was one of the nicest people I've ever interviewed; humorously self-aware of his band's reputation, but not in a way that's bitter or insecure. When the subject turned to the then-upcoming gig at Terminal 5, all Andy could tell me was that it was going to be back to basics, mostly due to long-distance tourbus travel and the difficulty of getting fancy equipment around. "This is pure, pure and simple: 'Hi, it's us. It's you. It's our songs. We don't have our projectors and our screens and our lights, it's straightforward. This is what you get, this is what you see.'"

I couldn't hazard a guess what the set list would be; I'd decided not to spoil myself at all by looking at previous gig reviews, and I doubted that the European song choices would have any bearing on the American audience's reception. Indeed, both Andy and Paul told me after the gig that they really weren't sure which songs to choose, which is why for some people -- self included -- it was a bit heavy on the pop side. (For the record, I fucking love "Tesla Girls" and "Dreaming." Considering I have no fond prom memories of it, I'm not too keen on "If You Leave.") It was hard for the band to gauge audience expectations, and Andy admitted on stage that they "might be playing it safe."

That's not to say it was a safe show at all. It's been 23 years since they've been here, they're older and grayer, but this is not a nostalgia tour. The smattering of songs played from History of Modern fit in seamlessly -- even though, after finishing "New Babies: New Toys" to somewhat confused applause, Andy looked out onto the audience and joked, "You look SUPERBLY terrified that we opened with a new song!" ...before promptly diving straight into "Messages," "Tesla Girls" and to my great joy, "Radio Waves." Even before they'd introduced it as "one for the aficionados," I started cheering at the very first two seconds -- instantly recognizable plinky-plonky whirring for you.

My one regret is that I didn't take any sort of video during "Maid of Orleans." Mark my words, throughout what Andy referred to as a "two-shirt gig" due to sweat and heat, he fully proved that he's still got all the flailing, spastic substitute teacher dance moves that would make all white men proud. A few songs earlier in the set, after putting his bass down -- the "good news" -- he announced he would start dancing very badly -- the "bad news." The sold-out crowd was ordered to do the same. "You will be ejected if you don't dance."

All joking aside, it was the highlight of a damn near flawless evening; every time the drums kicked in, the white lights flashed, and Andy let out a mini epileptic fit, I think every heart in the 3000-person audience skipped a beat.

"Enola Gay" bittersweetly signaled the end of an amazing 95-minute set (the same feeling echoed in the encore with "Electricity"), by which point I was looking down on a wall-to-wall sea of heads from the VIP balcony -- did I mention that I thank the MuseBox PR from the bottom of my heart? -- and I was in awe that this was really happening. There was so much fun emanating from that stage; they're clearly enjoying playing together as this lineup again, and the camaraderie between Andy and Paul (goofing off during "Locomotion" especially) hopefully proves that they're in it once again for the long haul. I was wired and shaking -- partly because Terminal 5 FINALLY got its sound system on point and the bass was fucking killer, and partly because I knew I'd be meeting two musical heroes in no time at all.

In a rather stupid move, I hadn't realized that there's a protective film on the back of the iPhone 4 as well...and only just took it off (finally, an answer to the question, "isn't this SUPPOSED to take awesome photos? Why is everything blurry?" Technofear). Hence, the photos have a strange blue tint from the flash, but at least with a bit of tweaking you can make out our faces! Andy, on his third shirt and a G&T, was jovial and friendly as ever; Paul was a bit more reserved (but all too happy to talk about a new Claudia Brücken record), but both were quite patient with the numerous requests for old songs thrown at them! (I put in my vote for "The New Stone Age," which is a very likely possibility, and "Red Frame/White Light." There was a lot of call for "Telegraph," but Andy said his voice couldn't quite reach that...squawking high register anymore. "Only if Paul did it with his balls in a vice grip," he deadpanned.) Thankfully, Andy and Paul wholeheartedly confirmed that they'd be back very soon, sooner than you think -- but mum's the word. Go to their website a lot.

Intro: History of Modern Pt II | New Babies: New Toys | Messages | Tesla Girls | Radio Waves | History of Modern Pt I | Forever Live and Die | If You Leave | Souvenir | Joan of Arc | Maid of Orleans | New Holy Ground | Green | Talking Loud and Clear | So In Love | Sister Marie Says | Locomotion | Dreaming | Sailing on the Seven Seas | Enola Gay
Walking on the Milky Way | Electricity

Thursday, February 24, 2011

one-week flashback! katie gallagher f/w 2011 BTS

renegade designer + intrepid girl reporter in a quite unflattering candid, photos throughout by corinne schiavone

Last Sunday, Milk Studios did not have their shit together. Capacity issues the night before, leading to crowded elevators and the fire marshall being called, made those in charge extraordinarily paranoid, and all designers showing on the 13th had to un-invite half of their guestlists and inform the rest that, due to tight capacity, their attendance might not be granted.

Katie Gallagher's people very begrudgingly (trust, none of her PR wanted to do it) sent out the email at around 5 PM, so a lot people, feeling fucked over, didn't want to bother with a fight. On the other hand, I was already (im)patiently waiting at Y-3--which was AMAZING and SO MUCH FUN and EVERYONE WORE BLACK and SANDPAPER FLOORS but COULDN'T SEE SHIT--and had planned to meet up with the lovely Corinne for dinner before the show. I wasn't about to shut both of us out.

(As an aside, could someone help me set up a decent cut/jump feature? I have loads of images I want to share, but it's getting to be really cluttered.) So the two of us, armed with excellent makeup, a giant camera, connections, and a touch of moxie, got to Milk at 6:45 for an eight-o'-clock show.

And so went "Gris-Gris," Katie Gallagher's presentation for F/W 2011. She said she was influenced by African voodoo; the titular gris-gris is in fact a magic amulet, “little leather sacs for spells. People would put little bones in there, nails, hair, different things.” That sort of witchy, pastoral influence was felt throughout the entire space, anchored by imposing monolith of wooden grids and crumpled black sculpture, almost like The Wicker Man in scope. The shock of sumptuous mustard yellow leather (can I HAVE the jacket posted above? Please?) went straight back to voodoo: “It’s kind of reminiscent of cornmeal,” Gallagher said. “These tribes would draw little sigils in cornmeal, and I found this really cool leather to match, it’s a really nice mustard. Plus, I wanted a little bit of color to go with the grey."

the opening runway pass, video by me

And let's talk tunes. Katie and her boyfriend, Nikolay, score the presentations to industrial perfection. Last season, it was Einstürzende Neubauten and Front 242 to set an intense, high-energy EBM mood for "Arena;" this season, it was all Death in June (you can hear the very opening strands of "The Only Good Neighbor" in the video posted above--remember when Prada used it too? Sorry, Douglas P.) and Coil (can anyone identify the song in the video? It's really bugging me, I KNOW I know what it is). Even better than sitting at a runway show and recognizing something in utter shock--like the Prodigy seemingly fucking everywhere this NYFW--this almost neurotically perfect blend of sight and sound is just what I like.

Monday, February 21, 2011

mishka nyc x psychic tv

How am I only now hearing about this? (Okay, the news hit the blog circuit only a week ago, but that's an eternity in fashion/post-industrial obsessive time.) Mishka NYC--the people who brought you that guide to GRAVE WAVE--are releasing a capsule collection designed in collaboration with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, dedicated to Psychic TV.

After the soul-crushing news that Einstürzende Neubauten had cancelled their entire US tour (I still haven't quite gotten over that anger), and the even more devastating news of Peter Christopherson's passing in late November, PTV's show at Europa last December was just what I needed--complete with horror face paint, dirty spoken word, and some mindbending guitar solos. Genesis is truly a fascinating individual, one of the most important and inspirational artists/provocateurs/WRECKERS OF CIVILIZATION~*~ of the past century, leaving he/r impact on music, performance, transformative art, and gender politics irreversibly. (For the record, I'm also really looking forward to Marie Losier's The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye documentary, which hopefully will be hitting the festival circuit soon.)

I think I could rock the hat, if nothing else. Mishka's also put up a really thorough interview with Gen--more like a conversation, following the rather tangential, non-linear trajectory of he/r travels. My personal favorite part so far, with regards to the Myrtle-Wyckoff L stop in Ridgewood:

Do you find the hipster kids annoying?

Call me self-hating.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

martial canterel interview [prefixmag]

It's no secret that the comeback of coldwave and minimal synth has me full of glee--well, as much glee as is appropriate for the genre. Electronic music's always been a major passion of mine, from the Kraftwerk and early Ultravox my dad played me as a kid to the early-morning early days of Methods of Dance at Oberlin, and seeing people who've been plugging away at a dying, unfashionably icy genre (at the time: these were the days of electroclash, mind you) for ages finally come to blogger prominence is pretty awesome.

Say what you will about the "comeback" of "dark media:" say that witch house is bullshit and potentially racist/classist (yes, these are arguments about Salem and the appropriation of screwed music I've read online), say that it's a passing fashion (of course it is, and if a bunch of kids running around with plum lipstick and black hoods bothers you, reassess your priorities. Didn't they tell you that fashion hurts?), give it socioeconomic heft by correlating "grave wave" with the gloom of the recession, but one thing remains: a lot of these bands are really, really fucking good, and a lot of these musicians deserve it after years of playing basements or dive bars.

Credit goes to Minimal Wave Records for naming it and Wierd Records for...popularizing it, I guess. Relatively. Step outside of Brooklyn and no one really gives a shit--perhaps in other pockets of urban America, and perhaps further abroad in the genre's countries of origin, but its prominence and championship is really on the internet.

It's funny to have done these two interviews back-to-back for Prefix: first, Martial Canterel (aka Sean McBride, also of Xeno & Oaklander)--read HERE--who talked to me about the "coldwave renaissance" and its appeal today:

[T]he real attraction, and for me the paramount attraction, is the equipment itself. The last 20 years of electronic music have primarily involved emulating analog synthesis, speeding up and tidying up the process, "stabilizing,” of making a performance of this music akin to someone checking their email. The true materiality of this music is what really appeals, its truly electric nature, the vulnerability of the instruments, the synthesizer as an "instrument with a limit.” All these things purport a kind of humanness to electronic music; something we haven't seen widespread in many a decade.

...and currently, I'm wrapping up a feature interview with Andy McCluskey of OMD, who--in an unbelievably charming, self-deprecating, and fascinating way--waxed poetic on his own influences, why OMD saw it fit to come back now (he's noticed the tides turning in his band's fashion/direction too!), and assessed today's synth acts. I can't reveal all until it's published, but here's a gem of a quote: "Most other bands, if they want to make a comeback album, they just have to sound like themselves. But we had this abject dilemma: we used to be the future! What do old modernists do in the postmodern era? Discuss."

I have a lot to report still when it comes to Fashion Week: not seeing shit except Grace Coddington's flaming red hair at Y-3! Backstage at Katie Gallagher going on and on about how awesome Coil is! Front row at Parkchoonmoo! Sleeping through Rad Hourani! Meeting a really attractive male model from the Jeremy Scott show afterwards--and shaking hands with Kanye, and getting street ambushed--and playing with his gluey hair (all in the name of JOURNALISM)! But...priorities. Will keep them coming!