“When I met M.I.A… I told her, “Just photograph yourself in front of the mixing desk in the studio, and people will go, ‘Oh, OK! A woman with a tool, like a man with a guitar.’”I remember seeing a photo of Missy Elliott at the mixing desk in the studio and being like, a-ha!”
-Bjork, interviewed by Jessica Hopper for the winter 2015 issue of The Pitchfork Review
Bjork continues on to say that while creating music, she doesn’t want to be photographed, because of how solitary and sometimes manic the experience is. She’s focused and can’t be bothered with appearances, but the lack of photographic evidence of her in the studio has lead people to question whether she actually wrote her music or if a man did.
While Bjork, or any woman, shouldn’t have to prove that they’re responsible for their own work, photographs of women working are empowering and help demystify the process for those interested in making music themselves. So, this is a photo of me, in my room, doing my thing. What do you look like when you’re working?
The FULL GAMUT of images from my shoot for The Pitchfork Review of the captivating, exquisite, charming, Esperanza Spalding…
Our connection is symbiotic. She is a badass accomplished female artist musician in her own right, marching the flag for jazz, redefining it into her own sound with her latest album D+Evolution. Spalding is a prodigy; age 5 playing the violin for the Chamber Music Society of Oregon, winning 4 Grammies, and being the first jazz artist to be awarded for Best New Artist. She’s a force of nature; there is no doubt about it. On top of all of her prowess, she is a lovely kind human being. We had a GREAT time playing around in my studio, making dynamic energetic portraits for The Pitchfork Review.
Thank you to a awesome crew!! Stylist: Anna Su, Hair: Joseph Henry, Makeup: David Josie; Assistants: Vedant Gupta & Evan O’Brien!
Björk rush-released her album Vulnicura on Tuesday 20 January and it’s been breaking our hearts all day (read pop writer Michael Cragg’s thoughts on it here).
In an emotional double-whammy, Pitchfork published a short version of a Q&A they’re running in their quarterly print publication, the Pitchfork Review. Read it here, and have tissues at the ready if you’ve either recently been through a break-up or just easily take on other people’s sadness.
KIDS casting call flier distributed at the legendary NYC night club NASA. Featured in the article Rave New World Revisited By Matt Diehl in issue 4 of The Pitchfork Review. Subscribe to The Pitchfork Review
This was announced last week, but to reiterate: I’ll be contributing comics to the newly announced magazine The Pitchfork Review. Here’s the title panel… (It’s a comic about my decade+ in bands, and all the feelings that ran through those times.)
Hell Bent inches Potty Mouth towards more profound songwriting than last year’s great Sun Damage EP. The lyrics focus primarily on the many facets of what it means to be young– desire to ditch smalltown life, irresponsible choices that bring on “The Spins,” feeling infinite– but what makes Hell Bent such a glorious Rookie-era superlative of feminist punk today is the sense of confidence and personal conviction Potty Mouth’s songs conjure. This appears most strongly as Hell Bent opens and closes. “The Gap”, which references the unconventional post-high school gap year, is about searching for more than you’ve been handed and believing in yourself. The slow-building closer “The Better End”, shout-sung by guitarist Phoebe Harris, reconciles a bitter breakup (“Go ahead/ Kiss your friend”) while feeling assertive in walking away: “Here’s the thing/ I’m the best,” Harris screams, “I know it’s hard/ To digest.”
The cover for Lumbar “The First and Last Days of Unwelcome” out on Southern Lord.
I just posted this album link to their bandcamp page, but wasn’t satisfied with the size of the image. I really dig this album cover. The “eight-grader-in-my-head that still loves skulls runs pretty free and wild. By musician/artist/dj Daniel P. Carter.
I didn’t read it but there’s a review on it over at Pitchfork.
“I had never even seen a shooting star before. 25 years of rotations, passes through comets’ paths, and travel, and to my memory I had never witnessed burning debris scratch across the night sky. Radiohead were hunched over their instruments. Thom Yorke slowly beat on a grand piano, singing, eyes closed, into his microphone like he was trying to kiss around a big nose. Colin Greenwood tapped patiently on a double bass, waiting for his cue. White pearls of arena light swam over their faces. A lazy disco light spilled artificial constellations inside the aluminum cove of the makeshift stage. The metal skeleton of the stage ate one end of Florence’s Piazza Santa Croce, on the steps of the Santa Croce Cathedral. Michelangelo’s bones and cobblestone laid beneath. I stared entranced, soaking in Radiohead’s new material, chiseling each sound into the best functioning parts of my brain which would be the only sound system for the material for months.
The butterscotch lamps along the walls of the tight city square bled upward into the cobalt sky, which seemed as strikingly artificial and perfect as a wizard’s cap. The staccato piano chords ascended repeatedly. "Black eyed angels swam at me,” Yorke sang like his dying words. “There was nothing to fear, nothing to hide.” The trained critical part of me marked the similarity to Coltrane’s “Ole.” The human part of me wept in awe.
The Italians surrounding me held their breath in communion (save for the drunken few shouting “Criep!”). Suddenly, a rise of whistles and orgasmic cries swept unfittingly through the crowd. The song, “Egyptian Song,” was certainly momentous, but wasn’t the response more apt for, well, “Creep?” I looked up. I thought it was fireworks. A teardrop of fire shot from space and disappeared behind the church where the syrupy River Arno crawled. Radiohead had the heavens on their side.
For further testament, Chip Chanko and I both suffered auto-debilitating accidents in the same week, in different parts of the country, while blasting “Airbag” in our respective Japanese imports. For months, I feared playing the song about car crashes in my car, just as I’d feared passing 18- wheelers after nearly being crushed by one in 1990. With good reason, I suspect Radiohead to possess incomprehensible powers. The evidence is only compounded with Kid A– the rubber match in the band’s legacy– an album which completely obliterates how albums, and Radiohead themselves, will be considered.
Even the heralded OK Computer has been nudged down one spot in Valhalla. Kid A makes rock and roll childish. Considerations on its merits as “rock” (i.e. its radio fodder potential, its guitar riffs, and its hooks) are pointless. Comparing this to other albums is like comparing an aquarium to blue construction paper. And not because it’s jazz or fusion or ambient or electronic. Classifications don’t come to mind once deep inside this expansive, hypnotic world. Ransom, the philologist hero of C.S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet who is kidnapped and taken to another planet, initially finds his scholarship useless in his new surroundings, and just tries to survive the beautiful new world.
This is an emotional, psychological experience. Kid A sounds like a clouded brain trying to recall an alien abduction. It’s the sound of a band, and its leader, losing faith in themselves, destroying themselves, and subsequently rebuilding a perfect entity. In other words, Radiohead hated being Radiohead, but ended up with the most ideal, natural Radiohead record yet.
“Everything in Its Right Place” opens like Close Encounters spaceships communicating with pipe organs. As your ears decide whether the tones are coming or going, Thom Yorke’s Cuisinarted voice struggles for its tongue. “Everything,” Yorke belts in uplifting sighs. The first-person mantra of “There are two colors in my head” is repeated until the line between Yorke’s mind and the listener’s mind is erased.
Skittering toy boxes open the album’s title song, which, like the track “Idioteque,” shows a heavy Warp Records influence. The vocoder lullaby lulls you deceivingly before the riotous “National Anthem.” Mean, fuzzy bass shapes the spine as unnerving theremin choirs limn. Brash brass bursts from above like Terry Gilliam’s animated foot. The horns swarm as Yorke screams, begs, “Turn it off!” It’s the album’s shrill peak, but just one of the incessant goosebumps raisers.
After the rockets exhaust, Radiohead float in their lone orbit. “How to Disappear Completely” boils down “Let Down” and “Karma Police” to their spectral essence. The string-laden ballad comes closest to bridging Yorke’s lyrical sentiment to the instrumental effect. “I float down the Liffey/ I’m not here/ This isn’t happening,” he sings in his trademark falsetto. The strings melt and weep as the album shifts into its underwater mode. “Treefingers,” an ambient soundscape similar in sound and intent to Side B of Bowie and Eno's Low, calms after the record’s emotionally strenuous first half.
The primal, brooding guitar attack of “Optimistic” stomps like mating Tyrannosaurs. The lyrics seemingly taunt, “Try the best you can/ Try the best you can,” before revealing the more resigned sentiment, “The best you can is good enough.” For an album reportedly “lacking” in traditional Radiohead moments, this is the best summation of their former strengths. The track erodes into a light jam before morphing into “In Limbo.” “I’m lost at sea,” Yorke cries over clean, uneasy arpeggios. The ending flares with tractor beams as Yorke is vacuumed into nothingness. The aforementioned “Idioteque” clicks and thuds like Aphex Twin and Bjork’sHomogenic, revealing brilliant new frontiers for the “band.” For all the noise to this point, it’s uncertain entirely who or what has created the music. There are rarely traditional arrangements in the ambiguous origin. This is part of the unique thrill of experiencing Kid A.
Pulsing organs and a stuttering snare delicately propel “Morning Bell.” Yorke’s breath can be heard frosting over the rainy, gray jam. Words accumulate and stick in his mouth like eye crust. “Walking walking walking walking,” he mumbles while Jonny Greenwood squirts whale-chant feedback from his guitar. The closing “Motion Picture Soundtrack” brings to mind The White Album, as it somehow combines the sentiment of Lennon’s LP1 closer– the ode to his dead mother, “Julia”– with Ringo and Paul’s maudlin, yet sincere LP2 finale, “Goodnight.” Pump organ and harp flutter as Yorke condones with affection, “I think you’re crazy.” To further emphasize your feeling at that moment and the album’s overall theme, Yorke bows out with “I will see you in the next life.” If you’re not already there with him.
The experience and emotions tied to listening to Kid A are like witnessing the stillborn birth of a child while simultaneously having the opportunity to see her play in the afterlife on Imax. It’s an album of sparking paradox. It’s cacophonous yet tranquil, experimental yet familiar, foreign yet womb-like, spacious yet visceral, textured yet vaporous, awakening yet dreamlike, infinite yet 48 minutes. It will cleanse your brain of those little crustaceans of worries and inferior albums clinging inside the fold of your gray matter. The harrowing sounds hit from unseen angles and emanate with inhuman genesis. When the headphones peel off, and it occurs that six men (Nigel Godrich included) created this, it’s clear that Radiohead must be the greatest band alive, if not the best since you know who. Breathing people made this record! And you can’t wait to dive back in and try to prove that wrong over and over.“
You may have already heard but Pitchfork will soon be launching the first issue of their quarterly print publication the Pitchfork Review and I had the privilege of doing a few illustrations for it. This project was a blast and I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out. I can’t show it to you just yet but I put together a sneak peek of one of the spots I did. You Tumblr kids and your GIFs. A big thank you A.D., Mike Renaud for having me on board!
The inaugural issue will be available December 14!
Thundercat’s album release party for The Golden Age of the Apocalypse is one short day away! You don’t want to miss this special show with THUNDERCAT, MONO/POLY, and DADDY KEV. Pitchfork just released a stellar review of Thundercat’s new release saying,
“…Thundercat takes avant electronic music’s futuristic sound-sculpting and reconnects it with the history of African-American pop. He’s particularly smitten with that moment in the 70s when soul music got looser and smoother and more electronic, and electric jazz started taming the wildness of improvisation with the slickness and structure of the pop song.”
Musically, Goblin is essentially a turn-of-the-millennium indie rap record– abstract, difficult for outsiders to locate a way in to, and bled completely of anything that resembles pop. It features almost nothing that counts as a chorus, making few gestures to the mainstream. It’s a purist’s record, leaning on inventive production and Tyler’s flow and meter.
“Gobelin”, album by Tyler, The Creator, from the Odd Future collective
“ If you don’t already like his music, you probably won’t like Goblin. And that’s apparently the way he wants it.”
This tumblrer is old enough to remember when it was enough for pitchfork to merely rip the everloving bloody piss out of something it deemed uncool, and not swaddle its NME-style housecleanings in contradictory, backhanded compliments.