The Knife Announce 20th Anniversary Digital/Vinyl Reissues

 

 

After a musically bereft ’90s—grubby grunge, whiny indie rock, and the dying embers of rave—the turning of the Millennium gave rise to a genuine sonic renaissance, with sexified guitar bands (The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), sartorial nu-goth (Interpol, The Horrors), and challenging, non-navel-gazing electronic music (Ladytron, electroclash).

Existing fairly well to the left of the latter were the Swedish duo of Karin and Olof Dreijer, going by the edifying nom de guerre The Knife. And indeed, the pair cut through the cultural morass to perhaps explicate the new century as well or better than anyone. And at a time when the digital world was rapidly eliminating any sense of mystery, they were an astonishing enigma, cryptically bemasked, lyrically mystical yet incisively socio-political, and with live stage performances that seem beamed from some inexplicable but meticulously coded other world.

 

 

Tomorrow, August 14, marks 20 years since the release of their first single, “Afraid Of You.” To fete that anniversary, Mute is releasing a series of digital and vinyl re-issues on that very same day, including the Hannah Med H Soundtrack several remixes (See full list below.) The Knife: Live at Terminal 5 will be released physically by BFD/The Orchard and digitally via Rabid.

The duo parted ways in 2014, embarking on a final tour in the autumn of that year, with Karin putting more focus on her Fever Ray side project.

In a final interview in August of 2014, Karin revealed to this writer, “I absolutely agree that society has become much more individualistic. For us, it has been important to have this process where we do things much more as a collective, to really have collaborations, to build things together. That is a very anti-capitalist way of working these days, but we wanted another kind of process, an alternative way of working. We can’t solve our problems as long as there is capitalism.”

Which sounds a lot like they already knew just how bad things were going to get by 2020. So, yes—add “sociological prophets” to their already very lengthy hyphenate.

 

The Knife 20th Anniversary Reissues

 

The Knife: Live At Terminal 5
Hannah Med H Soundtrack
“Pass This On” 7” vinyl
“Heartbeats (The Knife Techno Remix)”
“Heartbeats (Style of Eye Remix)”
“You Take My Breath Away (Mylo Remix)”
“You Take My Breath Away (Puppetmasters Club Remix)”
“You Take My Breath Away (MHC Remix)”
“Pass This On (M.A.N.D.Y. Remix)”
“Pass This On (M.A.N.D.Y. Instrumental)”
“Pass This On (M.A.N.D.Y. Knifer Mix)”

 

On Repeat: Dreamy New Carla Bruni Single ‘Quelque Chose’

 

 

 

Since Carla Bruni quit modeling to launch a music career with 2002’s Quelqu’un m’a dit, she’s released five albums (including the stunning poetry-into-songs collection No Promises), sold three million copies of them, married French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008, gave birth to a daughter, lived in Élysée Palace until 2012, and stirred up enough gossip, media speculation, and even a scandal or three, to last several lifetimes.

But dazzling as it all may be, it always comes back to the music actually being truly magnificent. And now she’s returned with another utterly captivating single, “Quelque Chose” (translation: “something”), which has us hitting repeat more than we’d care to admit. With its elegantly strummed guitars, seductively brushed drums, and Mlle. Bruni’s alluringly winsome vocal delivery, it’s just the sort of dreamy, evocative Franco-pop that we need right now to whisk us away from our decidedly grim reality.

The accompanying video is masterclass in boho glamour, something she has surely always been particularly good at.

The single is taken from her upcoming album, rumored to be coming this fall. Obviously, it can’t come fast enough.

 

Designer Tom Dixon Announces ’24 Hours in Copenhagen’ Project

 

 

Having already topped the list in pretty much every other survey about quality of living, the five Scandinavian nations just placed 1,2,3,4 and 6 in a recent Asher Fergusson study of the 35 OECD members, to determine which were the best countries to raise a family (the US landed 34th).

So, yes, if we could, we’d be in Denmark right now, where the death rate from coronavirus was about 1/15 per capita of what it was Stateside. Which is precisely why they’re definitively getting back to the business of culture, very much evidenced by the announcement of Tom Dixon‘s upcoming ’24 Hours in Copenhagen’ event.

 

 

The exalted British designer is that rarity in his profession, having risen to the level of “cultural icon,” with his work now featured in London’s Victoria & Albert museum, MOMA New York, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He actually launched two new collections in the City of Light earlier this year, pre-quarantine, during his ’24 Hours in Paris’ program; and with Europe now emerging from the coronavirus lockdowns, he will be taking a similar show to Denmark’s capital this September 4.

There he will officially launch even yet more new collections: SPRING Silver Pendants, GLOBE Lights, PUCK Barware, MILL Salt & Pepper Grinders, SWIRL Vases and Candles, FAT Chairs and Sofas, and PRIMAVERA Marble Table Tops. All very good news for our own home design efforts, certainly, considering how much time we’ve been spending inside over these last several months.

 

 

‘The relationship between the UK and Scandinavia has been long, complex and sometimes bloody,” Dixon expounds, acknowledging those long gone centuries of “edgy” relations between the two. “The connection between Tom Dixon and the Nordic countries has always been warm and positive, with the superior design culture of Denmark proving to be the optimal landscape to explain our design ideas.”

As part of the program, there will also be a series of events, including a breakfast celebrating the 30th anniversary of Dixon’s S Chair; a new collection photography session at design, art and photo studio Tableau; a dinner at tile studio Made a Mano, with comestibles by Nitai Shevach, chef at Dixon’s Coal Office restaurant in London; and a performance by designer/musician Johannes Torpe. You know, the sorts of things we always did before the COVID-19 crisis made it all go away.

Dixon, for his part, is just happy to be getting on with it again.

“It’s with great pleasure that we will travel to Copenhagen for 24 hours to present some of our absolute newness, that no one else has seen yet.”

 

BlackBook Premiere: New Charlotte Rose Benjamin Single ‘Cursed,’ Acoustified

 

 

With all the glossy, “woe unto me” pop clogging up Spotify, it’s such a wonderful thing to come across such a pure songwriting talent in the absolute classic sense. And young Charlotte Rose Benjamin does indeed pen tunes with a distinctly trad sensibility, yet with an emotional complexity that surely belies her age.

Her cleverly titled debut EP Party City was released this past February, prompting Clash to gush, “it’s a vivid, witty, effervescent introduction.” And that it was, to be sure. One of the truly standout tracks was “Cursed,” especially for its joyful, utterly adorable accompanying video—which will chase away any and every bad mood with just a few views. But a new EP, Party City Solo, (Neon Gold / Moshi Moshi), introduces a winsomely stripped down version of the track—which BlackBook premieres here—along with two others from the original.

 

 

In acoustic form, the song’s sense of wistfulness and longing are brought decisively to the fore, with Ms. Benjamin allowing herself a moment of melancholy, reflective resignation: “Take my hand and tell me that we’re cursed / And I’ll play it like a record in reverse.” It comes off a bit like Mazzy Star, but with Britpoppy chord progressions—and sung with a voice bathed in angelic aplomb.

“Cursed is about falling back into the arms of someone who you know isn’t good for you,” she explains. “It’s a complex dynamic. The juxtaposition of the acoustic version and the studio version is especially cool because there’s the throwing your arms in the air embracing being young and making mistakes version, and then the melancholy romantic one. I’ve played this song live stripped down like this so many times it almost feels more familiar to me this way.”

A very busy girl, Benjamin will also be providing backing vocals for the upcoming Gus Dapperton album Orca. Expect to hear much more from her in 2020, provided the apocalypse doesn’t arrive before summer’s end.

Galerie Ropac’s ’30 Years Paris’ Will Bring Together Rauschenberg, Baselitz, Elizabeth Peyton

Georg Baselitz, X-ray doppel, 2020. Oil on canvas, 270 x 207 cm (106,3 x 81,5 in) © Georg Baselitz. Photo: Jochen Littkemann.

 

The pandemic has shifted, and will continue to shift the art world towards a new more virtual existence. But Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac debuted all the way back before there was even an internet, something that has become rather hard to even fathom, now that images are digitally zipped back and forth in a matter of seconds.

Indeed, the gallery first hung out its shingle in the gloriously historic Austrian city of Salzburg (“The hills are alive…”) in 1983, with a focus on the intersection of American art and cinema. Seven years later, at a new space in Paris’s still burgeoning at the time Marais district, the Christian Leigh curated exhibition Vertigo opened, which carried on with that very same mission.

“From the first day in October 1990, when I opened my one-floor gallery in the Marais,” founder Thaddaeus Ropac recalls, “I felt embraced and welcomed by a very unique Parisian art world—one that offered us the ideal ecosystem to present works by a very wide range of artists to a curious, enthusiastic and discerning audience.”

Anselm Kiefer, Für Walther von der Vogelweide – under der Linden an der Heide, 2019. Emulsion, oil paint, acrylic, shellac, chalk on canvas, 280 x 380 cm (110,24 x 149,61 in). © Anselm Kiefer / VG Bildkunst, Bonn 2020. Photo: Georges Poncet.

 

And so the Galerie Ropac is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary this fall, with a head-spinning new show pithily titled 30 Years Paris, at its current space in Paris’ possible next art-hot neighborhood of Pantin. The collected pieces will span the generations, crossing from the 20th Century decisively into the 21st. So long-venerated works by Joseph Beuys, Rosemarie Castoro, Donald Judd and Robert Rauschenberg will sit beside more recent paintings by Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Elizabeth Peyton and Yan Pei-Ming. Especially intriguing will be new works by Ali Banisadr, Adrian Ghenie, Daniel Richter…even Robert Longo, which were created exclusively for this exhibition.

There will also be something of a cultural “cage match,” as VALIE EXPORT’s Geburtenbett [Birth Bed], originally shown in the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1980, will be positioned in “dialogue” with Lee Bul’s Scale of Tongue, which had its premiere at the 2019 Biennale. Neither have ever been shown in Paris.

Ropac concludes, “The last 30 years in Paris have been incredibly inspiring, challenging, rewarding and, most importantly, particularly stimulating for the artists. I feel very privileged to have worked with many great artists, and I am deeply grateful to them for offering us exhibitions that have become legendary. It has been a joy to evolve in a cosmopolitan city that embraces art and culture with an intense international resonance.”

The show 30 Years Paris opens October 21 at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Please forgive us if we at least hold out hope that the European travel restrictions have been lifted by then.

 

VALIE EXPORT, Geburtenbett, 1980. Wedge, rusty construction steel; bed part: bare construction steel profiles with bed springs, bed springs doused with polyester; women’s legs: glass fibre reinforced synthetic resin; upholstery part: chrome nickel steel; fluorescent tubes: red ruby glass; video: Holy Consecration (part of a Roman Catholic mass, represented by a priest in a church), sound, monitor, DVD, looped, 150 x 470 x 165 cm. © VALIE EXPORT / ADAGP Paris, 2020. Photo: Ben Westoby.

BlackBook Premiere: Dreamlike New Kid Moxie Single + Video ‘All Day Long I Think Of You’

 

As with life, there was a randomness to how individual lives played out against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis. Take Greek born, now also Los Angeles based singer Elena Charbila. Had she been in Greece when lockdowns went into effect, she would have been in one of the safest places in the world; instead, she has been “trapped” in LA, where the situation only seems to be worsening.

Her response was to shift into alter ego mode, via her artistic nom de guerre Kid Moxie. A cool cult figure if ever, and bathed in enigma, she has found recognition on her own terms, collaborating with the likes of Maps and Angelo Badalamenti, and even composing the score for the recent Greek film Not To Be Unpleasant, for which she hauntingly covered the Alphaville classic “Big In Japan.” And now BlackBook is thrilled to premiere her latest single and video, “All Day Long I Think Of You.”

The title, of course, could not be more of the moment, at a time when so many loved ones have been tragically separated for such long periods of time. It is also the only lyric, a reflectively repeated mantra, as if to emphasize the sense of endless longing that comes with such separation.

 

The dreamy, ethereal atmospherics of the song remind of those most wistful, winsome moments in the Saint Etienne catalog, so rife as the track is with a sense of melancholic yearning. While the accompanying, quarantine-composed video is a dreamy, hazily romantic Venice Beach “travelogue” of sorts.

It’s taken from her new release Love and Unity, which was a collab with DJ-producer Luxxury—the latter referring to it as the “dream disco EP.”

Elena concurs, explaining, “Disco music always lifted my spirits like no other genre; but I never dared to make a disco album until Luxxury and I started playing live shows and doing DJ gigs together. He and I come from different worlds sonically, but with Love and Unity we finally managed to merge them.”

A full Kid Moxie album titled Better Than Electric is due out this fall.

Travel 2020: Will Amtrak’s Acela be the New Airplane?

 

 

Granted, it was a Saturday. But looking around the Penn Station Amtrak Acela Business Lounge at 9:30am, there was just one other passenger, and a very gracious front desk host, who offered us coffee with a smile. This was, for now, the new reality (we’ve decided to suspend the use of the badly over-flogged term “the new normal”): quiet airports, half-empty train stations. But in the Northeast, the citizenry had nobly done the work of banding together and decisively beating back the spread of coronavirus…and so we’d earned the right to a short visit to one of our sister cities—so we were determined to make it to DC, to see how the re-opening measures were coming along there.

Of course, now that the EU has closed off Americans’ entrance to the Continent until further notice, all travel plans will have to be carefully reconsidered—as domestic jaunts will be pretty much subbing for all those cancelled trips to Italy, France, Croatia… And with the COVID numbers as they are, popular US destinations like Texas and Arizona seem to pretty much be off the table for now.

This actually doesn’t present much problem for us, as we have always been enthusiastic advocates of the Northeast Corridor cities—specifically D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Providence and Boston. And we’re frankly looking forward to a summer-into-fall of watching these culture-forward destinations spring back to life—with all apologies to our friends in London and Paris, who we likely won’t be seeing any time soon.

What this also means, naturally, is that we will be spending a lot of time on Amtrak, which has responded to coronavirus safety concerns decisively and thoroughly. And their efficiency will be urgently necessary to our recovery in so many ways—economically, psychologically…

We were obviously excited for our first trip out of NYC since the lockdown, and, as before, were ready to take all necessary precautions. As we boarded the 10:03 out of Penn, things felt reasonably normal…just with fewer fellow passengers; indeed, our car was clearly less than half capacity. Then after pulling away from 30th Street Station in Philly, an announcement came that they would be coming through the train for an interim cleaning—and sure enough, staff members came by to resolutely wipe down the train interiors. It was a comforting feeling.

 

 

Also, though, there’s something a little more serene about riding the rails now, almost meditative. The WiFi, not always reliable on trains and busses, was working at lightning speed; but we chose to close the laptop, and engage with the existential pleasure of just watching the world go by out the train window. We had never before noticed certain things, like a collection of adorable little identical houses somewhere near Wilmington (a city which seemed noticeably quieter.)

We watched as huge warehouses suddenly appeared and then immediately disappeared, followed by long stretches of calming green. And witnessing the scene of boats whizzing around on the Delaware River, we were reminded that it’s one of the truly safe pleasures right now; but being on the train also made us feel remarkably safe.

The architecture lovers in us always thrilled to the site of the 1835 A. Hoen & Company Lithographers building just outside Baltimore. We were getting close to DC, and we were feeling pretty okay with the idea that the Acela train would be our new airplane for the coming months—we loved trains, and we loved traveling in them.

As we sauntered into the main hall at Union Station, our final destination, we couldn’t help but notice it was also quieter than we’d probably ever seen it. But as we looked up at the spectacular plaster ceiling, covered as it is in 120,000 sheets of gold leaf, we knew we were where we needed to be.

(Until August 31, Amtrak is offering incredible advance purchase fares—examples: $29 one-way NYC to DC, $49 one-way DC to Boston—making it the perfect way to do a summer weekend getaway. Look for special offers on their Roomette private sleeping cabins, as well.)

 

__________________

Five Questions With Amtrak’s Kimberly Woods

What were the key measures Amtrak had to put in place to make sure riding the trains would be safe for all?

Amtrak is leading the way by setting a new standard of travel with enhanced safety and cleaning measures. In an effort to simplify and safeguard the travel experience, several cleaning, contact-free and convenience measures have been implemented into every part of the customer journey—from time of booking to the moment of arrival. We have enhanced cleaning frequency and retrofitted protective plastic barriers where necessary. Commonly used surfaces in stations such as door handles, counter tops, seating areas and Quik-Trak kiosks are cleaned with EPA-registered disinfectants.
Signage has been displayed at our busiest stations to indicate safe distances in high traffic areas. In addition, protective plastic barriers have been installed at customer counters at our busiest stations. All customers and employees must wear a face covering or mask while on trains or thruway buses. Face masks can be removed when customers are in their private rooms.

How has the return to train travel been going? Do you sense a strong desire to get back to travel?

As states have started relaxing their restrictions and we restored some services, we are seeing an increase in ridership.

Will train travel replace lot of air travel?

Amtrak is an attractive option for travel. In addition to aggressive steps to enhance cleaning protocols at stations and on trains, we have implemented new measures to deliver a new standard of travel. Also, offered on many routes, a private room is the perfect option for customers seeking privacy and space on a short trip and added comfort and amenities when traveling overnight.

Will those traveling for fun find train travel a safer alternative to airports and planes?

We have the unique advantage of a full-time medical director and public health and safety team who have been on the front lines throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Together, we have studied, analyzed and made improvements to the Amtrak travel experience, from beginning to end, for the safety and health of our people and travelers.

What are some of the new highlights and offerings we will see from Amtrak over the rest of 2020?

Amtrak is investing in new high-speed trainsets to dramatically improve service on the Northeast Corridor from Washington, DC to Boston. Debuting in 2021, Amtrak’s entirely new fleet of Acela trains will feature customer-generated improvements leading to a faster, smoother ride, with more modern amenities and serving as a greener way to travel. Some of the upgrades include: nearly 25% more seats; personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat; exceeded accessibility requirements for people with disabilities; spacious restrooms with a 60-inch diameter turning radius; contactless storage option for luggage; and comfortable seating with winged headrests to serve as a barrier between customers.

 

 

New Psychedelic Furs’ Single + Video ‘Come All Ye Faithful’ is Rife w/ Sneering + Metaphors…Naturally

 

 

As the new Psychedelic Furs single opens with the lyrical couplet, “Come all ye faithful / And shine a light on, shine a light on me,” it’s hard not to imagine a metaphorical line drawn to the “God will protect us” anti-masker agitators. Though surely the song was written before the publicly acknowledged onset of the coronavirus sometime earlier this year.

The track is titled, appropriately, “Come All Ye Faithful,” and is taken from Made of Rain (out July 31 via Cooking Vinyl), the first Furs album in 29 years. And some things indeed never change, as all the way back to 1980’s “Imitation of Christ,” frontman and symboliste post-punk poet Richard Butler has been getting up the backside of organized religion—something which seems especially exigent at this particular moment. Hardly surprising, faith has again gotten mixed up with the mission of science to protect us from our own apocalyptic catastrophes—the most recent of which has claimed nearly 150,000 American lives.

 

 

The words drip with Butler’s familiar and sneering brand of sardonicism, as he intones in his unmistakable aplomb-and-cigarette-stained but sensual snarl, “When I said I needed you I lied / I never needed anyone I laughed until I cried.” And it’s all set to a backdrop of grinding guitars, ghostly sax blasts and jittery, march-like beats. The singer recently told Rolling Stone the song was about, “looking for redemption in faith and riches”—and we certainly know how that mostly turns out.

The accompanying Imogen Harrison directed video shows an androgynous figure wandering lost in the woods, and racing towards a mysteriously flashing light. Which is not unlike what life has pretty much been like since our pandemic-motivated lockdown this past March.

For many, of course, The Furs were veritably a religion unto themselves. So at such a time as this, it’s just comforting to know that the church doors have been re-opened…and that in Made of Rain, there is a profound new book of hymns to guide us through yet another crisis of our own making.

 

Jenny Saville Conjures a Tempestuous Self-Portrait for the Final Gagosian ‘Artist Spotlight’

 

 

If there is an artist for this moment, certainly it is Jenny Saville. As one of the early ’90s YBA (Young British Artists), her riveting, Ruben-esque portraits of nude women vividly challenged the accepted stereotypes of the female artistic muse. As further confirmation of her cultural cred, the Manic Street Preachers would go on to choose works of hers for two separate album covers; and her Stare gracing the front of their 2005 release Journal For Plague Lovers caused what was a certainly unnecessary scandal amongst nervous retailers.

Her place in the art world pantheon was certainly certified (as if it needed to be) when her 1992 painting Propped was sold by Sotheby’s London recently for £9.5 million, a record amount for a living female artist. But her work is especially poignant as we continue to struggle through our various coronavirus quarantines, as many have been left alone to face down their own body images, having been freed from so many workaday distractions. And in the psychological turbulence of her striking new self-portrait, fittingly titled Virtual, we may indeed find parallels to our own COVID-generated turmoil.

It was executed specifically for Gagosian’s new weekly Artist Spotlight, launched during the quarantine as a way to generate art world energy while physical galleries remained closed. Some Gagosian European galleries have since re-opened.

 

 

“It’s as much about painting as about portraiture,” Saville explains. “Realism is what concerns me most. I’ve been trying to find ways to stretch a feeling of time by layering realities. After working on an image for a while, building up different poses, bodies or limbs start to intertwine and unexpected forms emerge.—what can reality look like in twenty-first-century painting? I once read a quote by Georges Bataille about an upside-down head in which the mouth exists where the eyes should be—and how violent and disconcerting it is to see gleaming teeth and lips at the top of a head.”

It is, in fact, the last in the Artist Spotlight series, and also commemorates the artist recently turning 50—perhaps a particularly poignant milestone for someone who first became successful as part of a confrontational youth movement, of sorts.

“I’ve been trying to find ways to stretch a feeling of time by layering realities,” she reflects. “After working on an image for a while, building up different poses, bodies or limbs start to intertwine and unexpected forms emerge.”

And nothing could be more relevant right now, than that which is unexpected.

 

JENNY SAVILLE
© Photo courtesy the artist and Gagosian
 
JENNY SAVILLE
Virtual, 2020
Oil on canvas
78 3/4 x 63 in
200 x 160 cm
© Jenny Saville
Courtesy Gagosian
JENNY SAVILLE
Virtual, 2020, detail
Oil on canvas
78 3/4 x 63 in
200 x 160 cm
© Jenny Saville
Courtesy Gagosian
 
JENNY SAVILLE
Virtual, 2020
Oil on canvas
78 3/4 x 63 in
200 x 160 cm
© Jenny Saville
Courtesy Gagosian