Cubist Masterworks at the Met

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In the magazine this week, Peter Schjeldahl reviews a show at the Metropolitan Museum with works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Léger:

"Cubism is hard. It was meant to be. That fact, coupled with the style’s subsequent penetration into all manner of visual and intellectual culture, assured it immortality. Sometimes I think that I don’t like Cubism, while knowing that that’s not a good enough excuse to ignore it. Cubism is artistic modernity’s master key."

Above: Picasso’s “Nude with Raised Arm and Drapery” (1907), from the Lauder collection. Image © 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Ars, NY.

Nara
  • Nara
  • Alt-J
  • This Is All Yours
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Alt-J - This Is All Yours - Review

Alt-J is an indie rock band from the UK that perform a very unique and complex mixture of experimental and psychedelic folk with electronica and art pop as well. The band uses heavy keyboard and synth melodies and samples drenched in chorus and reverb effects driven by electric drums that follow heavily rhythmic and accentuated bass lines. An array of folk influenced instrumentation is used in this record as well from wind and brass instruments to tambourine, violin and banjo. Alt-J’s vocals is instantly recognizable with the odd nasally cadences. A lot of this record has a very thick atmosphere that at times sound both eerie and beautiful, while at other times the band delivers a very 60’s esque bluesy garage pop sound like on their hit single "Left Hand Free". The track sounds as if it came right out of Quentin Tarantinio’s "Reservoir Dogs". 

Many of the songs on this record are slower paced and take their time to build which on some tracks is fantastic and epic like the haunting hypnotic "Intro" and "Nara", which sound like something from Pink Floyd’s The Wall,while other times it begins to bore me like "Arrival in Nara", which right away killed the flow and momentum of the record, despite it appearing to be a concept record that builds around this fantasy world. The band is definitely taking creative liberties with this new record experimenting with both acoustic and electronic instrumentation and changing up the flow at any moments notice. It seems that is intentionally trying to provoke a reaction or emotion, keeping you on your toes while listening to the record. Its a messy odd but very lush record full of a lot of creativity and originality sort of like a portrait piece from Picasso. 

While I didnt like every track on “This Is All Yours”, the songs I did like are super enjoyable and contagious. I really liked the bands dark ambiance and their unique take on the folk genre incorporating electronics, but I do feel the album’s flow kills much of its replay value and I fear the band maybe be trying a bit too hard to be different just to be different. If you like artists like Chet Faker, Thom Yorke, Gomez, Glass Animals, Vance Joy, Foals, Jungle, The Neighbourhood, Pink Floyd, Youth Lagoon, Bombay Bicycle Club, or Wild Beasts you will love this record. My favorite tracks are “Intro”, “Nara”, “Every Other Freckle”, “Hunger of the Pine”, “Warm Foothills”, “The Gospel of John Hurt”, and “Pusher”.

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