Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Hunt: Live in London Video Clip

In October of 2008 I followed The Hunt on a tour of the dingiest clubs and pubs of London. I'll save the sordid stories of subsidized housing, strippers, and vegan breakfasts for later, but the marauding of that week was quite impressive. To sneak a peek at the spectacle, I've got this little lo-fi video clip of the boys performing "Summer of Hate" at Notting Hill Arts Club's infamous "Death Disco" night.

Currently recording a full-length, (which may include this track), The Hunt have been one of my favorite post-punk-apocalyptic groups to scar the city's stages since I caught their second show ever back in 2006.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Artist Profile: Purevile!

Old lace with a touch of arsenic, the opulent edges of gilded decay - Wren Britton's Purevile! is fantasy fulfillment in a skeletally-enhanced brooch or antique pendant, an asymmetrical cape or a miniature top hat ensconced in lace. Its origins are in Wren's childhood: the name came to him while watching the 1990 Morrissey video for "November Spawned A Monster." Moz tilted his head up towards the screen, the word "vile" appeared emblazoned on his hat in black electrical tape, and something just clicked.

Since launching his first accessory line on Etsy, Wren has become an official vendor at New York's most eclectic and adventurous happening, Dances of Vice (see my mention of him at January's event), and, more recently, was chosen out of hundreds to showcase and sell his designs at Bust magazine's yearly Holiday Craftacular in NYC.

In October 2008 Wren debuted his first clothing line at the Brooklyn Indie Market Steampunk fashion show, (full disclosure: I modeled one outfit), and the Purevile! empire hit the concrete runway. Wren's exposure continues to expand through feature articles in Marie Claire Italia, Bust, and, this coming April, Country Living. Look for Purevile! locally at the March 21st Dances of Vice and weekends at the Brooklyn Flea.

In a city where copy cat designs and over-priced imports are all too prevalent, Purevile! offers exquisite goods at excellent prices - with custom work always an option. Have you always harbored that burning desire for a raccoon penis bone pendant? Wren offers the kind of sordid intimacy that allows you to request just that. A 21st Century dandy with a camera-ready visage backed up by substantive talent, Wren and Purevile! exist to provide old world style and glamour with contemporary flair and function, of which we are all in dire need.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Christian Joy - The Visitors Must Be Amused @ Audio Visual Arts

If you can't take in an official Fashion Week event, you can still revel in the work of one of New York City's inventive (and rock 'n' roll-related) designers at the Audio Visual Arts gallery. Christian Joy's first solo exhibition, "The Visitors Must Be Amused," features eight different pieces constructed with materials leftover and left out of her work from the past nine years. Joy invited her friends and family to compose a description of a 'female being', which she used to design the looks before each contributor incorporated their costume into a photograph, drawing, or image for display.

Karen O, whose onstage modeling of Joy's outfits with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs has perhaps been the designer's greatest advertisement, wrote this to begin her description:

"She had been born under a dead sea. Carved and polished by the dense saline tide, her mouth took on the landscape of the coral graves on which she slept..."

And this is Joy's costume - "Black Laquer Smile":

Nick Zinner's piece looks like a lycra bat-creature, called "Ghost With Boo Sign," while some of the others featured include a silver glam rock alien jumpsuit covered in ruffles and coils, as well as a little black dress - cubism style.

"The Visitors Must Be Amused" is more constructed than de-constructed, and while some pieces are more intriguing than others, the exhibit gives insight into process, collaboration, and inspiration as experienced by one indie fashion designer in NYC. You'll be more than amused.

Free! Now through March 8.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blacklist - "Flight of the Demoiselles"

Midnight of the Century stands poised for revelation, and Blacklist has given us a taste with the nubile offering, "Flight of the Demoiselles." Previously heard on stages from New York to Austin, the first single off their upcoming full-length shimmers with a dark radiance, heavy on climax and conquest through strident stances and headlong glances. Are they referring to the lissome avian living in central Asia, or maybe to the five cubic creatures of Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon"? Perhaps it's neither - or both? Either way, you can still sing along.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

RIP Bell Hollow

The bittersweet melodies and stirring soundscapes of Bell Hollow will no longer haunt the stages of New York City. With great regret I pass along news of the band's demise, which was officially announced yesterday - an ironic yet fitting day for breakups.

I first discovered Bell Hollow in 2005 when guitarist Greg Fasolino contacted me at the launch of my Big Takeover Shadowtime blog. After he shared some early Bell Hollow demos, I was completely hooked, and the love affair began. My first glimpse was a show at The Delancey in early 2006, and from there Bell Hollow only seemed to get better and better - not only because the performances and music became more varied and intense, but also because the bands they shared the stage with did so as well. It was through Bell Hollow that I was introduced to other great music from Blacklist, The Opposite Sex, Bunnydrums, Cruel Black Dove, and Entertainment.

In 2007, with a new lineup, Bell Hollow released a stunning full-length, Foxgloves, for which I was lucky enough to craft the press release. In 2008, the band put out five great (and free!) downloadable remixes on RCRD LBL, which are part of the eight song Foxgloves Extras digital EP, now out on Five03 Records. There may also be a posthumous release in 2009, so keep your fingers crossed. For now, you can watch a video here, and purchase their music on iTunes or Amazon.

In no way can I possibly emphasize or encapsulate in this short post what Bell Hollow has meant to me personally, and what the band has meant to so many others who had the intimate pleasure of seeing and hearing them live. I will miss Bell Hollow's contributions to New York City's dark rock scene, and I will miss racking my brain for yet another new adjective to describe their inimitable sound. RIP BH.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Paraskavedekatriaphobia fear of Friday the 13th. I'm more wary of the classic film remake that premieres today. If anyone sees it, I'd be curious to hear their thoughts. Black Friday seems better spent here, here, or here, though.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

VDay Couplings Quiz

For what it's worth, VDay is approaching. And for those whose lives aren't already rife with romanticism, this month brings constant reminders of the L-Word(s). As nothing is more mythologized than the sex lives and love affairs of artists - particularly the dark and/or tortured ones - I've created the poll to your right. Whether a rumored rendezvous or a lasting love affair, which coupling most peaks your interest?

UPDATE: Polling is now closed, and the results are as follows:

Bjork & Matthew Barney - 1
Frederic Chopin & George Sand - 5
Siouxsie & Budgie - 2
Percy & Mary Shelley - 4
Frida Kahlo & Josephine Baker - 2
Henry Miller & Anais Nin - 4
Lou Reed & Laurie Anderson - 0

Seems like the 18 participants were far more interested in classic couplings than recent rendezvous, with Chopin & Sand the winners and the Shelleys and Miller & Nin all garnering second place. This stylized version of an 1838 Eugene Delacroix painting featuring the Romantic virtuoso and the novelist/feminist is usually seen as two separate portraits. (It was split in two after Delacroix's death.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Confections

Anyone exacting enough to coordinate their clothes with their candy should know there is a Japanese solution. I've always thought dark chocolate was pretty...well, dark, but the Meiji brand has it beat with "Black Chocolate." (It's not quite black, but the packaging is good enough.) My other favorite is Black Black gum by Lotte, which is so black they named it twice. There's something quite pleasurable about unsheathing a stick of black gum before you push it past parted red lips.

No trip to Tokyo is necessary, they sell these things at Jas Mart in NYC.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Takashi Miike @ Japan Society

In a sold out Q&A session at Japan Society, Japanese auteur Takashi Miike admitted to suppressing his bloodlust while making his latest film, Yatterman, which premiered yesterday at New York's ComicCon. As anyone who has seen Miike's films can attest, this is not something he makes a habit of doing. From the start of the event, Miike made clear that while he is often viewed as a horror/gore director outside of Japan, his work is really just a reflection of reality. "Human nature makes us do horrible things," he explained. Everyone of us, beneath our skin and in our veins, is filled with blood. All it would take is a little pin prick and we could have a horror set right here, he continued. His films are not fantasy, but hyper-reality. These brutal truths, with a little "hope at the end," is how he characterized much of his work. Beyond that, Miike said, he would prefer not to analyze or be self-conscious about the process.

This hour-long event was moderated by Marc Walkow, co-director of the New York Asian Film Festival, and helped along by a translator. Miike fielded questions about his childhood, schooling, and creative inspirations, drawing direct correlations between his affinity for marginal characters as the protagonists in his films and his own marginal position as a filmmaker and his experience growing up amongst various outcasts. He is still running from adulthood to this day, he laughed, which is why he went into movie making in the first place. It seemed as though there might have been a request to keep the questions soft, because it wasn't until the audience participation that the few in-depth queries of the session were proposed. There was a continual evasion, on Miike's part, of discussing any specifics regarding the extreme instances of misogynistic carnality present in many of his films. When asked about female fans in the U.S., he said it was interesting that they enjoyed his work, even if it hadn't been specifically created with them in mind. And when asked about female fans in Japan, he was speechless for a second before replying that he had cast top male actor/pop star, Sho Sakurai, in Yatterman to make up for his lack of such fans. The subject of women was clearly not going to lead anywhere.

Despite the fact that Miike continually affirmed his outsider status and his allegiance with those who don't fit into socially prescribed roles, his stance on gender, as expressed in this session, was overtly traditional. The same can be said for many of his films. Miike may not be able to transgress Japanese gender mores to the extent he has broken boundaries for expressions of sex and violence on film, but it doesn't have to detract from his impressive, extensive, and visually stunning body of work. The next time you want to watch a girlfriend scorned amputate her boyfriend's feet with piano wire or a father pay his teenage daughter for sex, Miike is your man.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

RIP Lux Interior

There may be some sad news from The Cramps camp. The untimely passing of dirty and debonair frontman, Lux Interior, has been reported, although there has yet to be an official announcement by the band. Hoax or psychobilly tragedy? While you wait for the truth to come out, enjoy The Cramps' classic video for "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns."

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the news is true.

For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2009

Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps, passed away this morning due to an existing heart condition at Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California at 4:30 AM PST today. Lux has been an inspiration and influence to millions of artists and fans around the world. He and wife Poison Ivy’s contributions with The Cramps have had an immeasurable impact on modern music.

The Cramps emerged from the original New York punk scene of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, with a singular sound and iconography. Their distinct take on rockabilly and surf along with their midnight movie imagery reminded us all just how exciting, dangerous, vital and sexy rock and roll should be and has spawned entire subcultures. Lux was a fearless frontman who transformed every stage he stepped on into a place of passion, abandon, and true freedom. He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly.

The family requests that you respect their privacy during this difficult time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hello Kitty + MAC + "the dark side"

As someone who has spent a sick amount of time scavenging for Hello Kitty merchandise across America and Japan - particularly the kind that subverts or updates the classic red, white and childlike design scheme - I was extremely delighted to receive an invite to MAC Cosmetics' launch party for their new HK line. "When innocence meets the temptations of the dark side, what's a gal like Kitty to do?" read the card, which pretty much meant that not even a snowstorm would stop me from going.

For two hours this evening at the Soho MAC store, the Hello Kitty colour collection was available for perusal and purchase a week before its debut in stores on February 12th. The turnout was ridiculous, with gaggles of squealing girls (and a boy or two), enjoying the pink cocktails, bow-shaped pink and black cookies, and free balloons. While I've seen far more radical and dark takes on Sanrio's darling girl (an image of HK with a bandaged eye dripping blood etched onto a shard of imitation glass comes to mind), MAC's mod packaging with black as the core color offset by raspberry, white and gray accents is still pretty cute.

On a side note, Hello Kitty's brand of mute feminism (she has no mouth) was quite intriguing as embodied by two muscled and waxed dancing boys wearing HK heads, patent leather pants, and army boots. Whose gaze were they courting with that? Any of you post-structuralist gender theorists wanna have a go?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Oprah Magazine Goes Goth?

The February issue of Oprah Magazine (thanks mom!) includes a snarky little vignette expounding upon the gothic aesthetic. There are updates on the latest dark cosmetics and brief quotes from Valerie Steele, curator of the excellent Gothic: Dark Glamour exhibit from the Museum at FIT. (See my post on it here). Apparently, Lancome, of all brands, is launching a new black lip gloss color in Spring. It's quite timely, according to Steele, because "This has been a very gothic moment for fashion." Black is the new black, apparently - so dress accordingly.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tamaryn: The Unknown: Video Premiere

I'm beyond pleased to showcase the first video from Tamaryn's arresting EP, Led Astray, Washed Ashore. Directed by Aaron Brown, "The Unknown" delves into a dark and meditative mysticism, with aesthetic allusions to a few of our favorite songbirds infused with Tamaryn's undeniable sound and presence - wayward and wicked as ever.

TAMARYN The Unknown from a.l. brown on Vimeo.

Read more about her 2008 release, here.