Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Films of Ken Loach



Upon hearing Ken Loach's upcoming film could be his last I thought this would be a good time to share some thoughts about his work and hopefully turn people on to bits of his massive catalog. I don't think he's ever made a bad movie. If you're looking for mindless entertainment or sentimentality look elsewhere, Loach's work is extraordinarily realistic and you wont find many happy endings in his movies. But there is a deeply human thread running through his body of work that's always interwoven with a concise anti-establishment statement told in an alarmingly natural and relatable way. Loach has made almost 30 feature films, more if you include teleplays for the BBC back in the early years, so the breath of his repertoire may be intimidating and many of his movies are near impossible to find or see (though there are quite a few for rent on his Youtube channel).

Cathy Come Home, 1966

A good place to start is a trio of masterful films he made in the early 90's: Riff-Raff, Raining Stones and Ladybird Ladybird. Each one focuses on the affect a different social institution or program has had on working class UK and each are incredibly powerful stories. Raining Stones deals with poverty most directly- in the opening we find the main characters killing sheep for their mutton to sell in their local pub. The protagonist is a devout Catholic to the point of idiocy yet the film takes a very balanced thoughtful approach to the way religion controls the lives of believers. Riff-Raff deals with safety regulations on a construction site and Ladybird Ladybird is one of his crowing achievements. Grounded by an earth shatteringly emotional performance from Crissy Rock as a mother battling child protective services for the right to be with her kids, it's a heavy, disturbing look at a twisted bureaucracy out of control. 

Ladybird Ladybird, 1994

One of the things you'll hear from certain Loach fans is they find his style of docudrama so moving not just because of the quality of the filmmaking and performances but that it was the first time they ever saw "normal" people like themselves on screen; Relatable characters that spoke the way they spoke, dressed like they dressed and dealt with the same daily problems they did. The local dialects and accents in his films are throughly authentic to say the least. For an outsider it can be, at times, difficult to decipher- indeed some movies have been broadcast in the US with subtitles, though personally I can usually pick up on the cadences and slang pretty quickly. The most egregious offender of this is probably 1998's My Name Is Joe. It's a solid film thats deals with AA, poverty and love but the Glasgow accents in this are very strong for those not used to them. 

Raining Stones,  1993

Loach is probably best known for the 1969 film Kes: A simple story about a boy and his relationship with his pet falcon that helps him escape from his abuse stricken home life. One of his best movies is undoubtably Sweet Sixteen, another Glasgow set story penned by longtime collaborator the brilliant Paul Laverty. Ken has only written a few of his films but he is there from the inception of the idea and collaborates throughout the process but leaves a lot of the actual writing to others- among them longtime creative partners Laverty and Jim Allen.

Sweet Sixteen, 2002

He has also done a few amazing period pieces, most notable is the riveting and unsettling Palm D'Or winning masterpiece The Wind That Shakes the Barley from 2006. Cillian Murphy stars as a young Republican dealing with the English invading Northern Ireland in the early 1900's. It may be the best film about that conflict ever made, and that's saying a lot.  Land and Freedom from 1995 takes us inside a POUM revolutionary group during the Spanish Civil War. The film that followed it, Carla's Song, is set in 1987 in Nicaragua among the Sandinistas. All great movies I highly recommend seeking out.

There have been a series of intelligent political documentaries over the years. Most are tough to track down so I haven't seen them though I did catch his most recent, Spirit of 45, about the history of the labour party in the UK. 

The Wind That Shakes the Barley, 2006

His most recent features are slightly lighter fare: the excellent and underrated ode to the joys of whiskey The Angels' Share and the dramatic soccer comedy Looking for Eric. Rouge Irish from 2010 dealt with war mercenaries and the particularly excellent It's A Free World... is one of a few films of his about immigration. All worth seeking out.

I should mention one hallmark of Ken's work is his humor. There are laugh out loud moments- just solid everyday laughs- in even the most dreary of his films. Another consistent throughout his career is the quality of his actors is astounding- almost every lead in every movie is remarkable. 

I don't think there has been a more important political filmmaker than Ken Loach. No one has continually portrayed the struggles of the working poor that he time and time again dramatizes so effectively. The trials of oppression are humanized through his films: tragic, educational, comic and ultimately uplifting, Loach's repertoire deserves to go down as one of the finest ever. An important artist is there ever was one. 





Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best Films of 2013

While we didn't have masterworks from Audiard or Haneke or Tarr, it was still a pretty good year for film. I didn't have time to see everything I wanted (Jonze, Coens) but below are a few films that made an impact. Recommendations for documentaries can be found here and brief thoughts on cinema throughout 2014 can be found here.


1. 12 Years a Slave
A long hard look at a cinematically under-explored part of history featuring vividly rendered brutality as deeply disturbing as it is beautiful: sick minds seethe as broken souls are rendered subservient. Heroic filmmaking.



2. The Place Beyond the Pines
Incredible. A thoroughly intense American Epic. Everyone's performance's are first class but Emory Cohen and Ben Mendelsohn are especially outstanding. Bravo.




3. Moebius
Kim Ki-Duk's dialogue free Buddhist penectomy-heavy familial gender study is uniquely transgressive and totally unprecedented in the history of cinema. Full review here.




4. Escape From Tomorrow
The consequences of imagineering are explored in this psychedelic descent into modern magical archetypes and myth-making. Trippy, creepy, relevant and totally original.



5. Simon Killer
An American weirdo in Paris. An understated exploration of a modern sociopath and a well paced unraveling of mania. Brady Corbett turns in another very believable performance in this Joran Van der Sloot-esque tale of modern masculinity.


6. Our Children
Joachim Lafosse's devastating portrayal of a mother overwhelmed by parenting. A very tense, timely, superbly acted film.


7. Evil Dead
A surprisingly well made remake- the debut feature by Uruguay's Fede Alvarez. It's definitely the best horror picture in some time, especially the first half. The atmospherics and camera work were unusually excellent for the genre. This is about as scary and realistic as "demons" can get.



8. The Bling Ring
A condemning portrait of celebrity culture and the vain emptiness it spawns. I know people like this and can confirm they are actually this annoying. Sophia Coppola's best work yet.



9. Shadow Dancer
A very solid entry into the canon of great IRA dramas punctuated by a surprisingly heartless ending.


10. Black Mirror
Not a film but a TV series by UK genius Charlie Brooker. Each of the six hour long episodes are totally different from one another, tied together by themes of media and technology. The first episode, The National Anthem really blew my mind. Demented, intelligent and very funny stuff. The title of the series says it all- track it down. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best Documentaries of 2013


1. The Cheshire Murders
This is a haunting and truly nightmarish film. It's a fascinating look at perceptions of justice after a extraordinarily brutal crime, the details of which I still shudder to think. The police incompetence on display here is shocking. After last years Aunt Diane, HBO continues to make some of the best non fiction films.

2. My Trip to Al-Qaeda
Based on his book The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright's one man play about the middle east and the birth of radical Salafist Islam is pretty much required viewing/reading for anyone interested in geopolitics, violence, religion or the state of the world in general. These are some of the deepest, well articulated insights into world conflict I've come across in some time. Also check out Wright's new book on Scientology, Going Clear, that just came out- it's fascinating stuff.

3. Blackfish
A massive expose on Sea World and their hate-filled practices. The "trainers" interviewed here make excuses for their behavior throughout the film but are totally culpable - they were profiting from animal torture regardless of what they say now. 


4. On Death Row
Werner Herzog does true crime. Enchanting explorations of the sociopathic mind. Not sure if this counts as a documentary as it aired on TV but it's worth mentioning since this is probably the best television ever made. His short film about texting and driving, From One Second To The Next is contemporary, surreal, powerful Herzog as well.


5. Dirty Wars
An important overview of Jeremy Scahill's recent work on the murderous US force JSOC, the Al-Awlaki killings and the CIA's activities in Mogadishu. The film is adequately made but Scahill is one of the most important journalists working today rendering this essential viewing.


6. The Act of Killing
Joshua Oppenheimer's follow up to 2003's The Globalization Tapes is a long look at retired executioners in Indonesia. It touches on nationalism, propaganda, genocide, and psychopathology while delivering tragically surreal recreations of violent acts with the perpetrators.


7. Valentine Road
Another excellent HBO doc, this time about a recent hate crime in California and the bigotry it revealed in the community. A angry Nazi afflicted teenager murders a flamboyant 14 year old and the town rallies to support the killer instead of the victim. Incredibly, one of his lawyers even tattoos "Save Brandon" on her arm... sickening.


8. Mea Maxima Culpa Silence in the House of God
A revelatory yet unsettling film about worlds largest pedophile cult. Unfortunately Alex Gibney followed this with a despicable hit piece on Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange that made me lose almost all respect for him.


9. The Crash Reel
What begins as a snowboard documentary evolves into an emotional look at life with Traumatic Brain Injury.


10. A Death in St. Augustine 
It was another great year for Frontline. This hour long film about corrupt police covering up a murder by one of their own is the best of the bunch. The final scene is so demented and wrong it is hard to fathom. You can watch it online here.


It didn't see After Tiller or God Loves Uganda but I hear they are great.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Records in 2013


ALBUMS

Alberich - Machine Gun Nest Cassette Works Volume 0



Authentic modern industrial delivered with an intensity rarely captured in music. Two of the tracks already appeared on his Psychology of Love LP but they are two of the best tunes ever released on Hospital Productions. Absolutely essential. Play loud. "Album of the year" by a long shot.


Georgia - Asemic Club

Georgia ASEMIC CLUB: Needle Teaser from Georgia on Vimeo.

An (other)worldly collection of instrumentals presented as a well conceptualized LP on one piece of vinyl. (There were too many unwarranted double LPs this year so it's nice to have a record to put on and not have to get up every ten minutes). There's a healthy variety of sound sources here; guitars, drums, rhodes, odd field recordings- the closest comparison I can come up with is later period Sun City Girls. For me, this is an essential companion to all the heavy recordings mentioned elsewhere in this piece. Comes with an amazing B&W newspaper poster.

Felix K - Flowers Of Destruction



Drum&Bass reinvented for 2013. A record full of properly psychedelic atmospherics and nasty dubbed out rhythms. Buy this 3x12" from his label Hidden Hawaii while you still can.


FFH - Make Them Understand



Raw savagery from FFH. Extreme noise mixed with poetic lyrics about bad things. If you like power electronics or angry musics of any sort find this and play it as loud as you can. They only made 114 copies but as of this writing there's a few for relatively cheap online.


Alexander Lewis - A Luminous Veil



Another amazing year for Blackest Ever Black. I didn't have enough money to buy everything they released though I did mange to acquire a few and this is my favorite of the bunch. There is a spontaneity to the arpeggiated synth blasts of noise that I find very listenable and each subsequent listen proves more rewarding. And, of course, the Cuts Hands stuff on BEB and Downwards is essential listening. The Gnod tape was great too.

Other LPs worth mentioning:

Nurse With Wound - Xerography
Nurse With Wound - Silver Bromide
Virile Games - Wounded Laurel
Vakula - You've Never Been To Konotop
Pharaohs - Replicant Moods
Factory Floor - Factory Floor


SINGLES

Paula Temple - Colonized



My favorite track of the year. Exciting, engaging, relevant techno. Temple is taking the form and doing something new with it. The Perc remix is a bit boring but the other two songs are mind blowing. The live sets she uploads to Soundcloud were my soundtrack to driving around Los Angeles this year.


Joe Claussell - Project Residue Part 1: Eno (Melodic Dub)



We are two releases deep into Joe's new series and they are both outstanding. The Melodic dub of Eno is the most techno track I've heard him make in a long time and the second 12", Underground Battle in Babylon, is an epic 16 min piano soundscape. You can get both these stamped 12s dirt cheap direct from his label. Timeless music.


Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement - Refuges From Black Magic 



This mix of rainforest recordings and dark ambient sounds was the perfect warm up to every set I DJed this year. It's also really great home listening. This was by far the best RSE release this year, the sound quality is much higher than the two Hospital LPs. The Bed of Nails 12" is nice but not quite as nuanced as this. It's probably the best thing Dominick Fernow made this year, though Prurient's near total conversion to dance music, Through the Window, was interesting as well. Also, When You Are Crawling by Vatican Shadow is the the best stuff from that alias since his classic debut on Bed of Nails.


Aquarian Foundation - Mystery Track from Silent Teaching EP



Great year for Brian Not Brian's Going Good label out of Brixton. All three releases thus far have been solid. The record pictured is by the Vancouver, Canada group Aquarian Foundation- the 12" on their own Mood Hut records is excellent too. The newest Going Good record is equally as strong- Anom Virus's lengthy EP is all acid squelching and lush pad work.


Gorgon Sound - 2x12"



Bristols' Young Echo collective put out a lot of strong material this year, my favorite was probably this: Kahn & Neek's grime influenced dub project Gorgon Sound. Four monstrous dubs that sound incredible on a proper sound system. The Dubkasm mixes are dope too. Along a similar line, the annual Kang Super Sound 7" on Sex Tag Amfibia is worth looking into as well.


Rrose - Waterfall (Birth)



Crazy tripped out techno with amazing tension. A very serious track on a proper system.


Also...
Jay Daniel - No Love Lost
Oake - Nihnin Ned Bargund
Objekt #3
Joey Anderson - Above The Cherry Moon and Sky's Blessings
Valentina - Wolves
Romanonthy - Ministry of Love (Andre Crom Rework)
Dusky - Nobody Else
White Material - Problems
Zsou vs The Velvet Season & the Hearts of Gold - Wild Honeyz






Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kim Ki-Duk's Moebius


Since the mid 90's, South Korean master Kim Ki-Duk has been making incredible films that range from unfathomably weird to unutterably beautiful. From his classic phantasmic golf saga 3-Iron to his majestic meditation on time Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... And Spring, they (mostly) all share a ruminant madness that defies categorization. As does his latest film Moebius. This low budget, dialog free, Buddhist penectomy-heavy familial gender study is uniquely transgressive and totally unprecedented in the history of cinema. Ki-Duk has really outdone himself here. On its most basic level it's about one kid's journey to inner-peace through the most dysfunctional family ever committed to celluloid. It is also a complex, involved portrait of sexuality and family. The film's take on pleasure & pain / love & violence / maternity & paternity is one that demands contemplation. Throughout, there's a thread of solemn religious overtones that somewhat perplexingly reshapes the thematic narrative.  It's also very funny at times. For the most part I found it disturbingly fascinating but the audience I saw it with laughed a lot. The actor that plays the teenager, Young Ju Seo, deserves an Oscar for his work. The close up shots of the crazy mother are particularly amazing. The most similar film of his to this is probably 2000's The Isle as that also dealt with some of the more taboo subjects he tackles along with a few similar themes. If you're easily offended you may want to avoid this film as it contains gang rape, incest, murder, mutilation and severed penises. If you're familiar with Ki-Duk's work or into weird stuff, you will probably love this hardcore piece of poetic insanity. Highly recommended & essential artistry.



Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thoughts on PJ Harvey's White Chalk


I had never heard PJ's music before this record as I had always associated her with guitar heavy indie rock music. But a friend that works in the industry gave me a lovely 45RPM pressing of White Chalk when it was released in 2007. I find myself continually coming back to this unutterably exquisite exploration of pain. There are no guitars here, mostly piano and autoharp along with some restrained drumming by the Dirty Three's Jim White. Bass, banjo, zither, fiddle and organ all appear here and there as well. Producing legend Flood and long time Harvey collaborator John Parish made the record with her and they're skills are obviously indispensable. It has some of the most beautiful vocal arrangement work ever put to tape, her voice is astounding stop-you-in-your-tracks powerful. When the back-ups drop on Silence it chills me to the bone every time. It is a short, concise, powerful record capable of stirring up serious emotion to those paying attention. The subject matter seems to be the dissolution of family, specifically abuse, and certain acts are strikingly recounted throughout the album- indeed, some songs are near transgressive in their vividness. Truly haunting. The album echos of another time or another world, its baroque feel and tonal longing are unlike anything I have heard before or since. So, yeah, I highly recommend this LP if you like heavy duty music- and it gets better with each listen even after 5 years. I am usually hesitant to recommend this kind of highly personal, emotive music but I think this LP cuts across a lot of boundaries. Also, I do not suggest listening one song at a time online, just buy the LP and play it loud at home in the dark to hear it's full potential. It's cheap on discogs. Her follow up- the war torn Let England Shake is amazing too but slightly more normal sounding than her ethereal and singular masterwork White Chalk.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rinpoche - Degradation 12"


The second release on Tears of Joy Records is a record made by myself and Thomas Klepper, resident and co-founder of Los Angeles' long running (but now defunct) underground warehouse party space Music For Dancers. He also runs a cassette label called Association of Masks. We made the 12" in an edition of 252 copies with stamped sleeves and an insert. The tracks were written and recorded at Thomas' studio at his warehouse in the fashion district, downtown Los Angeles, earlier this year. Working without the assistance of a computer, we used various old synth and drum machines and mixed through a Tascam board to 1/4" tape which proved to be a rewarding way to track music. The A side is a deep bassline-led Chicago influenced tune suited for the early morning hours while the B side is an acid house workout featuring a demented vocal sample from the Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corps. You can buy a copy cheap at the Tears of Joy website or it will be in the shops early November.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Peter Sotos - Victims



An unsettling piece from underground author Peter Sotos' Buyers Market album from 1992.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Genius - Waiting (Corrupted Cru Remix)


I recently ripped some of my UKGarage vinyl for a friend so I figured I share one of the tracks here. I scored this at the mighty DnR Vinyl in East Croyden, UK. Check them out, they are without a doubt the finest Garage shop on earth. The track is by Genius (Capone, Shawn T & Trimmer) on Kronik Records from 1998.

Genius - Waiting (Corrupted Cru Remix)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Paula Temple at Berghain

I heard Paula Temple DJ an amazing live set at Berghain in Berlin this past Sunday morning. To hear proper techno of this caliber on that clubs system was mind blowing. Below is a downloadable recording of the 3rd and final hour (7 - 8am) of her set. Coincidentally, the mix starts with the Surgeon track I posted earlier this month. Also, definitely check out her critical and forward thinking Colonized 12" on R&S.

Pere Ubu - Breath



Pere Ubu perform Breath (Let's Not Talk About Tomorrow) in 1989. From the Cloudland LP.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sugeon - Radiance


One of the better electronic music albums I have heard in some time is Surgeon's 2011 LP Breaking the Frame. Unlike the punishing intricacies of his earlier records that defined the "Birminghmam techno" sound he is known for, this release is experimental and psychedelic in nature. You can download one of the more mental tracks below.

Surgeon - Radiance

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Love And Money - Walk the Last Mile


A beautiful track from the Scottish band Love And Money from their 1988 LP Strange Kind of Love.



Download here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Films of Fabrice Du Welz



Calvaire or The Ordeal is a largely overlooked 2004 Belgium art house horror film by the underrated writer/director Fabrice Du Welz. The story is classic: A city boy, in this case a singer, is lost in the country and abducted by demented freaks- only this film is done so artfully that at times it seems like Gaspar Noe is directing it. Alas, the cinematographer on both of Du Welz's films is the mighty Benoit Dedie. There is all sorts of incredible camera work going on all over the place: long sweeping overheads, maniacal circular shots, weird close-ups. Content-wise it's pretty heavy- bestiality, rape and death are all explored in a hyper-stylized yet realistic way. This is definitely one of the most unique and well constructed “horror” films out there. Highly recommended.


Du Welz’s follow up is another must see. Vinyan is about a couple searching deep in the Burmese jungle for their missing child they lost during the 2004 tsunami. The underlying mystery is whether their kid is alive or if he's already dead- and the parents are merely grasping at straws as they grieve. But on the surface the film deals with kidnapping, the underage sex trade, and our culture of child reverence. There are kids a plenty in this film and it's not a pretty picture. It is worth watching for the locations alone- most of it is shot amongst ancient dilapidated structures deep in Laos. The epic long take in the abandoned temple in the final third is one of the cooler shots I can recall seeing. And the Lord-of-the-Flies-esque final scene of this film will stay with you for a long time- I guarantee that.


These are the two films Fabrice Du Welz has made thus far- both 4 years apart- with Vinyan released way back in 2008. Apparently there is something that he directed that is in post production called Colt45. And Wiki says he is working on a film titled For Your Entertainment with the excellent Brady Corbet, though that project may have been abandoned. His Twitter feed says he is writing Calvaire 2.

Anyway, find his movies, look out for his name and watch his stuff on the big screen when it does come out. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Dignity of Labour Part 1



A lovely piece of electronic music from 1979. Apparently made entirely with a Roland System 100. Ripped from the 12" on Fast records.

The Human League - The Dignity of Labour Part 1

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Private Realm


We just released an experimental techno record I made with Olivia Arthur called An Omen From No Man's Land under the name A Private Realm. You can buy it at Juno or in various Japanese shops. The vinyl is an edition of 164 with silk screened cover art depicting Vienna Actionist Gunter Brus performing ANA in 1964. There is also a DVD in an edition of 100 we did with Tim Hicks with accompanying visuals dealing with the subject matter at hand: Child Brides, Endless War and the Horrors of Psychedelia. You can get that at Tim's website and you can check out the first piece below.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Zbigniew Karkowski

If you ever get the chance to see Polish electronic musician Zbigniew Karkowski live, DO IT. Out of the thousands of performances I have seen over the years his probably made the most impact.


The scene: Circa 2003/2004 at Recombinant Media Labs Compound, Hunters Point, South San Francisco. The Compound was a space located on a desolate abandoned Navy ship yard. The land was in the shadow of Candlestick Park and had been deemed uninhabitable due to a high toxicity in the soil that the navy had left. We were instructed not to drink thee water when there. Inside the dilapidated building was a tiny studio/control room and next to that a bigger space equipped with a 16.8 surround sound system with the artist performance area in the middle. The speakers were arranged in a circle, 8 above and 8 below. RML was run by a character named Naut Humon (pronounced "Not Human") who apparently changed his name to that after a particular;y heavy LSD trip. Humon had used the space for decades as a research lab while he was doing his industrial music project Rhythm & Noise. RML and its record label, Asphodel, was generally the hub of all things weird in experimental music in San Francisco at the time. I remember seeing quite a few shows at the Compound, among them Francis Dhomont, Fe-Mail, Matmos, Deadbeat and many more I can’t remember. Most of them would use software my friend Peter had designed for the set up that enabled one to easily bounce sounds around the room horizontally, vertically and diagonally. This kind of technology is more common now but it wasn’t then. Karkowski took a different approach on this particular night.

Everyone was stuffed in the room standing in a circle surrounding him and his computer. I was behind him. The way I remember it, the music was basically one huge electronic tone emanating from his computer that got louder and louder and louder as it went on until it totally engulfed every part of your brain and body. Think about the deepest bass you’ve heard at a dance club and multiple it by 16 and have it coming at you from every angle non-stop. His computer was a very old beat up Macintosh that had a bunch of code running down the left side of the screen and a giant black box on the right. I don’t know if he was running Supercollider or Max or what- it was most likely code he had written himself. This was purely electronic music- no doubt. The computer screen kept blacking out- I’m not sure if that was because it was old or because he was maxing out the processing power- but he had to continually slap it to get it function. Trippy colors would cascade across the screen when he did. As the music got denser and more intense he kept smacking the computer and yelling at the engineers “louder” “louder”! It was earth shatteringly loud already but he was getting pissed they wouldn’t turn it up. Peter would try to communicate to him that he would blow the speakers if it went louder but he wouldn’t listen. He just continued intensely staring straight ahead or screaming for more volume. The engineers refused and it got so intense at one point I thought a fight would break out. All of this while 100 or so people are shoved into this tiny room perched on a forgotten wasteland while the heaviest sound ever was blasting away. I have no idea how long this went on. This was more intense than any hardcore show, more transcendental than any rave, more enlightening than any new music masterwork and ultimately more exciting and beautiful than anything I had seen before or since. Eventually Karkowski got mad enough he slammed his computer shut, stopping the music, and stormed out of the building. Wow. Personally, I was blown away but a lot of the staff were kind of pissed off. I had never heard of the guy before but I came away from that performance with a new hero.

Zbigniew went on to collaborate with RML in the following years. The Compound closed shortly after that and reopened in a slicker state of the art space below the Asphodel label headquarters in SOMA. I just googled it and apparently now that’s gone too. Actually, I can’t find any info or pictures whatsoever of the Hunter's Point space, it’s all the second location, both of which are lost to history I guess. RML now takes it's show on the road doing a version of the old system, with more video incorporated, called Cinechamber

No recording ever will reproduce a Karkowski live experience but he has some amazing releases nonetheless.  For extreme noise there is the “ALBUM” release with Peter Rehberg under the name POP (Product Of Power). In 2005 he released a sweeping 40 minute epic titled One and Many. You can buy that along with his new piece for cello and computer called nervecell_0 at Sub Rosa. He takes a quieter, heavy approach on the LP Choice Points for the Application of Force. There is also an amazing set of releases with Tetsuo Furudate called World as Will, of which you can stream or download the track Mix White below. It’s a Karkowski composition from World as Will 3 performed by the Zeikratzer orchestra in Switzerland in 2004. If you know of any music that sounds more apocalyptic than this please let me know.  Finally if you want to dive into the man’s mind here is an essay he wrote titled The Method Is Science the Aim Is Religion.

UPDATE: Karkowski died December 12, 2013 after being diagnosed with cancer 10 weeks earlier. Apparently in his final days he took a canoe up the Amazon in search of shamanic healing and "his final wish, if the treatment failed, was to be left in the jungle to be eaten. No ceremony, no grave."

EDIT: The site I was hosting Mix White on suddenly changed their policies and shut me out. If anyone has server space I can use for this website please get in touch. I have since uploaded the piece to Youtube, embedded below. If you want an WAV/AIFF, email me.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

KING KILL 33



One of my favorite books is James Shelby Downard's The Carnivals of Life and Death, his memoir of growing up in the deep south at the turn of the century battling the KKK and Freemasons. He believes Masonic elites run the world through a series of ritualistic psychodramatic charades- a twisted form of sorcery obsessed with sex and death i.e. the skullduggery of the Cryptocracy. I highly recommend the book, its pretty much batshit crazy but entirely informative. One of these rituals was the Killing of the King a.ka. the assassination of John F Kennedy. Easily the most far out JFK conspiracy- it basically postulates that Kennedy had to die because of occult rituals put in to motion in ancient Scotland that also included the alchemy of the atomic bomb and mystical toponomy of the American southwest. He and Michael Hoffman mapped it all out in King Kill 33, a crazy masterpiece of unorthodox thinking. You can read the whole thing online, its fascinating stuff. Or if you prefer or a more tactile reading experience you can buy the research edition (pictured) from Hoffman's website Revisionist History. Hoffman also digs deep into the Cosmic Cryptogram ("The Revelation of the Method") in his classic book Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare. Recommended. Downard died in 1998 while writing the second half of his memoir.


Side notes:

Interesting talk by Hoffman about NPR's use of propaganda and another eloquent one about Israel's abuse of sympathy to wage war.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Esplendor Geom├ętrico ‎– El Acero Del Partido I


Mind melting Spanish modular synth music from 1982. Every song on this LP is amazing but I ripped the one that really grabs you on first listen. Play loud.

download here

Doug Stanhope



I'd like to a take a moment and make sure the readers of this website are familiar with comedian Doug Stanhope. Not only is Stanhope the funniest man alive but I seriously think he is our country's premier social critic. When I first heard Stanhope’s material I couldn’t believe what I was hearing- it was like finding a friend, or at least a voice of reason in an insanely idiotic world. All his stand-up specials are indispensable but No Refunds is especially essential viewing. If you're anything like me this will be the best hour you spend all year. Deadbeat HeroFrom Across The Street and Word Of Mouth are amazing too and you can buy them direct from Doug. There are a couple videos on Netflix or they're all available via Torrents (Doug encourages file sharing). Below is an audio clip (there is video too if you find the DVD) from his most recent release Before Turning The Gun on Himself where he rips apart "rehab" through the lens of the fraud that is Dr. Drew Pinsky. Enjoy.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Best Films of 2012

Below are my ten favorite feature films of 2012. You can read about the documentaries here. I tweet about movies here: @FilmPsychedelic


1. Kill List
What starts out as a drama about two middle class British thugs slowly unravels into one of the craziest mysteries in recent memory. I recommend seeing this with as little prior information as possible. The intense realism is pitch-perfect, the acting solid, and the soundtrack is amazing. While some of the other films on this list are made by artists operating at the highest pinnacle of film making, I put this at number one because it was great to watch this new talent, Ben Wheatley, emerge. 



2. The Turin Horse
By filming the daily chores of a farmer and his daughter, Bela Tarr captures the soul crushing sorrow of the repetitive banality within the lives of human beings. This is a simple meditation on survival that ingrains itself deeper and deeper as it progresses. One of the heaviest films ever made and truly a masterpiece.  And I'll never experience potatoes the same way again.  


3. Amour
Devastating simplicity from the master Michael Haneke. The process of dying has not been portrayed so nakedly and vividly since Bergman’s Cries and Whispers. The cold aesthetic Haneke is known for is subtly applied under the perfected formalism and masterful acting. Though filled with intensely emotional scenes I thought this was still one of his darker films due to the unbridled handling of the subject matter. Essential viewing.


4. Sleeping Beauty
In this unsettling story about depravity and power the lovely Emily Browning plays a college student that gets involved in a cultish business that caters to rich perverts. She performs with a subtle curiosity that would drive conservative minds mad- rarely do we see an intelligent and morally ambiguous feminine character like this on screen. An incredibly impressive debut from Australian novelist Julia Leigh, the film is refreshingly apathetic and totally beautiful with cinematic trace echoes of masters Kubrick and Briellat. I think this was actually a 2011 release but I just saw it this year. 


5. Oslo, 31, August
One of the most serious and somber looks at drug addiction and recovery ever put to film. Taking place over one day – the day an addict gets out of rehab and realizes he is irreparably damaged and that assimilating with society is not going to be an option. I’ve had a lot of heroin addicted friends over the years and most of them are dead now so this film really hit home. Stark, minimal, powerful film making.


6. Michael
The banality of evil is explored in this extremely disturbing portrait of a pedophile keeping a passive child captive in his suburban home. Bleakly intellectual and clinically sad- this makes Todd Solondz’s pedo-flicks look like Disney movies. I’d only recommend this for those that enjoy challenging films about the darkest crevasses of human nature. Everyone else may be permanently scarred.


7. Beyond the Hills
After five years, Christian Mungui returns with his follow up to one of my favorite films: 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days. Here he brings us deep inside a Romanian Orthodox monastery for a full 2 1/2 hours. We live with a priest and his nuns as they deal with an unstable homeless woman that has taken refuge with them. An ongoing quiet intensity pervades the film as her questioning of the church is interpreted as a demonic possession. Things go downhill from there. Beautiful cinematography, locations, acting, story-telling, everything… Mungui is establishing himself as a filmmaker on the level of Bergman and Haneke- very serious subject matter dealt with in an artful and insightful manner. He was present at the screening I attended and the guy is obviously very smart and cool. I am looking forward to seeing his work on the big screen as long as I am alive and he is making films. 



8. Rust and Bone
Jacques Audiard follows up A Prophet with with a nuanced and thought provoking film about self worth, healing, pain and the catharsis of violence. Marion Cotillard gives the best performance of the year as a whale “trainer” at Marineland that gets her legs crushed in an accident. She meets a poor amateur boxer that deals with her amputations in a pitiless and straightforward manner and they embark on a relationship of self discovery filled with sex and swimming. Love stories are usually pretty boring but this one is extremely well done. The use of music in this film is amazing; the scene where she is dancing to the cheesy Katy Perry song in her wheelchair that used to play in her Marineland routine was surprisingly moving. The film has an intense emotional core but at the same time has some unusual artistic flourishes like that scene that push it into a magical place. Brilliant, masterful storytelling.


9. The Hunt
As in his classic The Celebration, Thomas Vinterburg revisits themes of family-in-crisis and child sex abuse. Mads Mikkelsen stars as a good hearted man falsely accused of molestation in a small Danish town. Child reverence, coerced false confessions and misguided mass hysteria are very real problems and this film deals with them perfectly. If you dig The Hunt also check out Vinturburg’s underrated 2010 film Submarino.


10. The Master
The dark underbelly of Americana is explored in this subtle and complex film about dogmatic organizations that manipulate broken people. It’s perfectly set during a time of massive change after World War II when men were trying to find themselves and a new crop of self help/empowerment movements were popping up. It’s also an accurate and damning portrayal of the era when Dianetics was morphing into the criminal Church of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard began wielding his powers over the dummies of the world. In fact, a lot of the exercises he forces on Freddie are real life idiocies that the COS inflicts on its Scienzombies. Many are documented on the indispensable anti-COS website Operation Clambake. I especially like the song Hubbard sings throughout the film called “Slow Boat to China”, a pop standard from the 40’s about the passing of time. It rings especially powerful in the final scene when he is chastised by Hubbard’s wife for not signing the famed “billion year contract". Good stuff.


A few more worth checking:


Killing Them Softly
A great modern gangster movie that is an obvious fuck you to the American government, especially Obama and his misguided "community" and "change" rhetoric. After Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James I think it's safe to say Andrew Dominick can do no wrong.


Compliance
A creepy film about societies conditioned subservience to authority. It’s almost unbelievable that people could be as stupid as the characters in this film but it is completely based on fact. A weirdo calls a fast food chain and pretends he is a cop investigating a thief and convinces the management to do perverted shit for him. For those that have already seen the film you can see the real footage here: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=d03_1236269064 Writer/director Craig Zobel is one to watch.


Sound of My Voice
In this intriguing low budget film a new age therapy/time-travel cult is investigated by two young journalists. It’s not a perfect movie but the subject matter is handled well and held my interest the entire 90 minutes. The ending leaves the story open to interpretation- which can sometimes be annoying- yet here it adds to the mystery that incites conversations and theories afterwards. 


The Angel’s Share
Movies are often called “heartfelt” which is usually a euphemism for “cheesy” but Ken Loach’s latest has an understated emotional current that really works. The story revolves around a gang of ruffnecks in Glasgow that come up with a plan to steal priceless whiskey in order to move beyond their dreary lives. This is the lighter side of Loach - the raw intensity of his earlier UK poverty films like Sweet Sixteen and Ladybird, Ladybird aren’t present here. And this is by far the funniest film on this list.


Detachment
Adrian Brody is amazing in this film about an apathetic school teacher caught in a hellish teaching job. We follow his routine as he deals with idiot bureaucrats and offensively unfit parents. This is a very cold vision of America’s education system. One of the main messages I took away is having a child should be a privilege, not a right, and our child-obsessed culture has led to too many morons having unwanted children. 



Beyond the Black Rainbow
Another movie open to interpretation. My take: A demented acid cult in the 1960’s slowly evolves into some sort of 1980's psychotropic slave palace. Inside it, a man is trapped- totally engaged in mind melding warfare within this psychedelic dungeon. He battles his way into consensus reality and back in the physical world and then has to find his way out. You can see the passion and craft that went into the sets and costumes, this looks like an authentic straight-to-video feature from the 80's. I thought the film would have been much stronger if it ended as the man emerges from the triangular building- the “real life” ending killed the vibe. Still, a solid debut from Panos Cosmatos.


Django Unchained
Another classic from Tarantino. Sam Jackson and Leo Dicaprio have their best roles ever as a slave keeper and servant. Engrossing, smart, funny, imaginative film making.


Also of note: Klown, Headhunters, Chronicle, The Tall Man, Holy Motors.