Monday, July 27, 2009

The Return of Ulysses @ Wolf Trap Opera Company

Once again, I am inspired and overwhelmed by the aesthetics of an opera. Director James Marvel's spartan yet sumptuous production of Monteverdi's 1640 telling of The Odyssey hinged on the artful interplay of sound, texture, light, and video imagery. The set was stark muted silver and rusted around the edges providing a post-apocalyptic aura that was expertly juxtaposed with the organic imagery projected upon it throughout the show. Whether large looming eyes, rivulets of blood, adust landscapes or stormy waves at sea, the moving images behind the moving players onstage merged to present evocative and entrancing tableau after tableau.

The costumery also combined minimalism with broad splashy strokes of maximalism. From the suitors dressed in Mad Max meets Gotti brothers sleaze-wear to Ulysses' Sigue Sigue Sputnik fishnet mask and Minerva's spiked metal headpiece and leather tartan with thigh high boots, many of the looks from the show would have been quite at home on the couture runways of Galliano, Gareth Pugh, or Issey Miyake. Penelope was Elvira in mourning as she laid bare her wretched longing with heartbreaking intensity, the long red hair that she anxiously pulled out in clumps offset by dramatic Kabuki-style eyebrows and sparkling black Morticia Adams dress. This is what the term 'Rock Opera' was made for. The execution and aesthetic dynamism of the production was thrilling beyond expectation. Is it any wonder that the early design meetings for this show were held at Wierd?

Design Team:

Projections: S. Katy Tucker
Costumes: Andrea Huelse
Set: Eric Allgeier

For more info, check out this review by a seasoned opera critic at the Baltimore Sun.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Romantique Synthetique

Purevile's enfant terrible Wren Britton has teamed up with Dances of Vice's vixen Shien Lee to present Disko Nouveaux, thee only monthly Romantique New Wave/Glam/Deathrock nite in NYC, commencing September 13th at The Vault!



Haven't seen a party that looked this good in ages...Dress to excess and dress to impress!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

JRock Panel @ Otakon

Caught the last part of Baltimore's ultimate otaku convention today. While I have my bones to pick with certain aspects of the scene, the overarching importance of a major event promoting Japanese pop culture can't be denied. The JRock panel this morning featured panelists from the information hubs JRockRevolution and Tainted Reality. While the former cultivates a fan community for JRock in the US, the latter promotes nation-wide tours of Japanese acts, and each produces a TV show and radio show, respectively.

The run down of the latest news is as follows -- JRockRevolution's new show on the Anime Network, Bento Beatbox, features up-to-the-minute sonic delicacies from Japan. Clips provided during the panel ranged from music videos by D'espairsRay and Gackt, to an interview with up-and-comers L.M.C. Tainted Reality is about to launch a record label, and have also started working with the enigmatic DJ Sisen, an industrial spinner who I caught in leather mask and neon synth plastic extensions at Tokyo Dark Castle a few years back.

To date, these sites have brought us a little bit closer to X Japan, Blood, Candy Spooky Theatre -- and the list goes on. The strange behemoth that is JRock US fandom grows. Perhaps the multi-colored Miyavi will play Brooklyn one day? I can only dream...

For more JRock, see a few choice cuts from my youth:
An interview with Dir en Grey, and a show review of D'espairsRay.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Death in July: Japanese Cyborgs, Wierd Music, Fashion DIY

This weekend's documented drama. See below.



Japan Society's Japan Cuts film fest kicked off my Saturday, with a screening of Korean director Kwak Jae-Young's Cyborg She (The Japanese title literally translates to My Girlfriend is a Cyborg, which I find much funnier). Overall, the film was really a sci-fi romance, but Cyborg She still felt like several movies in one, with the tone alternately saccharine slapstick, apocalyptic disaster, and melancholic human drama. There were many tips of the hat to the Terminator series, from the model name of the cyborg (Cyberdyne 103), to the chick cyborg aping human gestures with adorable results (thumbs up!). The club scene with the robot doing 'the robot' was ridiculously irresistable as well. Despite a confusing presentation of events that didn't line up within the film's past-future continuum, Cyborg She was still successful in its massive chick flick appeal. I nearly shed a tear for robot/human love.

A Cyborg-themed party followed the film, which featured free food, Sapporo, futuristic techno, and a few select people whose aesthetics were cyborifically inclined.

Next came the Eye and Ear Festival. After transporting myself downtown in the pouring rain, I only made it to see Martial Canterel and Blacklist, which happened to be my two favorites anyways. People freaked for Sean McBride's analog synth wizardry (see DJ Anarexia and her orange pompadour with leopard print Pieter getting down), and headliners Blacklist struck their own reverberating chord with the audience, playing tracks off their excellent recent album, Midnight of the Century. Revel Hotel's Frankie Teardrop was a new addition playing keys, and during Blacklist's sparse, ambient number "The Cunning of History," I had the pleasure of putting my musical prowess to good use whilst shaking some silver coins onstage with (Religious to Damn) Zohra Atash's gypsy scarf.

Next I headed over to Don Hills for Salvation's 2 year anniversary party. DJ Patrick, NYC's longest running goth DJ helms the night, and I put aside my aversion to public consumption so I could enjoy a delicious piece of cake while The Sisters's
"More" blasted in the background. Salvation is still the only goth dance night where local dark post-punk is spun regularly. There's the classics of course, but new stuff has a place to showcase.

Sunday's festivities were a bit more laid back and fashion forward. I stopped by the Urban Outfitters in Soho to see Jeralyn and others present in the DIY or DIE event. Not only does she frequently DJ Wierd and run Boston's Rescue boutique and the blog I'll Wear Any Color As Long As It's Black, but she also makes really cool shit. The zine they handed out for the talk featured Jeralyn's how-to advice for studding, as seen on the hot little number below. Other designers included the Six Six Sick girls, who put on the fabulous party at Happy Endings, which is right across the spooky/sleazy park from Home Sweet Home. One of the ladies explained that fringe is thee season's hottest accessory. So there you have it. I was so inspired by the DIY ethic that I decided to go shopping. It was off to Williamsburg where I stumbled upon the Love Brigade store and picked up a subtle, yet quasi-bondage pencil skirt and a neon rosary. For 2 extra bucks they threw my stuff into a cute black tote bag, which was great marketing on their part. If I'm not going to do-it-myself, at least I can support others who will! Which, now that I think of it, seemed to have been the theme for this very weekend.



Friday, July 10, 2009

Weekend Sounds

NY EYE & EAR FESTIVAL II

Saturday: 92Y Tribeca
*Liz Wendelbo's Opticks I-XIV film @ 4:30pm
*Martial Canterel @ 12:30am
*Blacklist @ 1am

DIY/Indie Record Fair + tons more music 2nite, tomorrow, and Sunday as well.

+

Download of the week. RCRD LBL puts out yet another remixed NYC sensation. IAMX's Dean Rosenzweig cuts you up with sonic slices of Cruel Black Dove's "Love Song."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Village Voice Gets A Clue

Too strange to pass up promoting two recent articles from The Village Voice. First Jonathan Garrett writes up Wierd Records, giving some decent word count to our dearly beloved Blacklist, and now Andy Beta is hyping Sacred Bones and name-dropping The Hunt?

Something is either very very right, or terribly wrong.

Monday, July 6, 2009

La Santa Muerte: Saint Death

Director Eva Aridjis' 2007 documentary La Santa Muerte: Saint Death is a measured, elegiac meditation on the passionately dedicated Mexican followers of the cult of Santa Muerte. A syncretic belief system combining pre-Columbian indigenous religions and mainstream Christianity, the cult centers around the skeletal female embodiment of death and has over 2 million disciples across Mexico. The practice's origins are shrouded in mystery: some say it originated in Hidalgo during the 1960s, while others maintain the cult's existence spans hundreds of years. Nevertheless, Santa Muerte's presence continues to inspire many.

Narrated by famed Mexican actor/director Gael Garcia Bernal, the film neither lauds nor condemns the followers of Saint Death, but reveals the hope and strength disparate people gain through worshipping her. Aridjis focuses particularly on how the disenfranchized and marginalized have a special connection with Santa Muerte. From men and women in prison to gays, transsexuals, gang members, and the sick and impoverished, Santa Muerte reaches a cross-section of Mexican people that the Catholic Church cannot.

While critics find the practice satanic in nature, the benefits to those who have stared with reverence into her imposing hollowed eyes is evident. Some included in the documentary describe in vivid detail how she saved them from certain death, while others assert that their addictions were cured and they achieved inner peace through paying tribute to Santa Muerte. As a young man sporting a Ramones shirt and a Doors visor explains, "I feel she is a miracle worker and she doesn't discriminate."

Interviews, pilgrimage footage, festival shots, and haunting guitar driven folk music come together through Aridjis' artful eye to create a vision of Santa Muerte's powerful hold on her devotees. Enjoy the trailer of the work below, or rent the subtitled version from Netflix.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fireworks



For those Stateside, enjoy the Independence Day pyrotechnics.

And for those interested in gruesome anecdotes, here's one about an evening of deadly Rococo fireworks in the name of Mz. Antoinette's nuptials.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Falls Down Again 7"

In the mail today: Religious to Damn's Falls Down Again 7" in clear cherry red vinyl. Delicious. Put out by M'Lady's Records, co-produced by Zohra Atash and the Bellmer Dolls' Peter Mavrogeorgis. B Side = "Mayflies," co-written and featuring guitars/vox by Mavrogeorgis and drums by Jim Sclavunos of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fame. Chillingly sleek. A restrained, bewitching set of songs. You know you want it.