Subversive UK Fashion Faves ‘Let’s Eat Grandma’ Will be Touring the States This Spring

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Whatever you think of the unsettlingly hilarious name (for the record, we love it), UK duo Let’s Eat Grandma have been the darlings of fashionable London since the release of their 2016 debut I, Gemini. The pair – Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth (who could almost pass for sisters) – have still yet to leave teenhood behind; but their self-described “experimental sludge pop” has been showered with unrestrained praise by the likes of Esquire, The Guardian, Dazed and NME.

No longer a cult phenomenon, their freaky sophomore album, I’m All Ears (released via Transgressive) has gone Top 40 in Britain. And following a 10-date UK tour with CHVRCHES in February, they will be back in the States to dazzle the cognoscenti in April – with shows scheduled in D.C., Cambridge, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Check out the video for the current single “It’s Not Just Me” – and then start the four months of prepping yourself for the almost unimaginable springtime musical mayhem that lies ahead.

 

BlackBook Film Spotlight: ‘The House That Jack Built’

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It’s sometimes hard to tell how much spite is behind any given Lars Von Trier film. But the Danish director can generally be counted on to show little mercy to his audience – as is once again the situation with this shock-value-violence thriller.

Indeed, The House That Jack Built is serial killer fare that doesn’t much go in for redemptive arcs. Curiously, it could readily be viewed through a metaphorical lens – a possibly autobiographical one. In it, Matt Dillon proves he is still a visceral force onscreen. He’s the unremitting psychopathic killer; yet there’s something artistic, perhaps even literary, about his methods. After all, this is a character who never realized his dream of being an architect (see: title) – shades of der Führer.

 

 

And speaking of, the ever compelling Bruno Ganz rises to the challenge as what would seem to be Jack’s quasi-conscience.

The violence, be warned, is barbaric to the point of gratuitous – unless one is able to accept it as cautionary. But again, morality does not seem to be what Von Trier is on about here. Very likely, the controversial auteur is throwing this in our faces, as a way of explaining his own struggle against the “evil” commercial forces of the filmmaking industry. Thou shalt not kill – but instead, make movies about killers, you know, to make a point.

As if it even need be said…keep the kids away from this one.

The House That Jack Built opens December 14, and also stars Riley Keough and Uma Thurman.

 

Assouline’s New ‘Roma’ by Alfonso Cuarón Captures the Striking Imagery of the Oscar-Winning Director’s Latest Masterpiece

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Beginning with 1995’s Great Expectations (starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke), Alfonso Cuarón had a spectacular run of cinematic gems – Y Tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, and 2013’s George Clooney starring Gravity, for which the Mexican writer-director won a Best Director Oscar – that would surely be the envy of almost any contemporary filmmaker.

Last month his gripping new, semi-autobiographical film Roma arrived in theaters, and has since been universally hailed as an uncontested masterpiece (Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal called it, “one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, and one of the most moving”). The plot is focused around a housekeeper for a middle-class Mexico City family in the 1970s – and it is a highly emotionally charged work.

 

 

Yet it is as much a visual meditation on a time gone by, taking the audience back to a place that has changed so much since then. Indeed, rarely has a film so poignantly captured the visual aesthetic of the period it is meant to evoke; which only makes the new accompanying Assouline book Roma such an essential treasure, for both fans of Cuarón, and devotees of the fine art of cinematography.

Page after page of striking images allow the reader to ruminate on a moment in Mexico City time, viscerally reminding of what an equally volatile and spellbinding a capital it really is.

Roma hits shelves in January, just in time for Oscar consideration. But consider pre-ordering it as a particularly weighty Christmas gift, for those cultured friends who simply don’t need another boring sweater or redundant bottle of booze.

 

 

 

Report From Art Basel: Chinese Artist Liu Bolin and Ruinart ‘Disappear’ From the Cultural Cognoscenti

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Images by Samantha Nandez, BFA.com

 

In the whirlwind of Art Basel soirees hitting South Florida this week, renowned Chinese artist Liu Bolin, who is sometimes known as the “Invisible Man,” performed a live exhibition, as he was painted amongst a large scale installation of the Ruinart iconic rounded champagne bottles. Cognoscenti from the fashion, art and philanthropy worlds gathered in the Miami Botanical Garden to witness his creation process firsthand.

Partygoers included Shea Marie, Andres Fanjul, TK Quann, Aureta Thomollari, Vik Muniz, Carlos Bentancourt, Soledad Lowe, Christie Ferrari, Eliza Mcknitt, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Alexander Lynx, David Castillo, Ezra J William, Umberta Gusalli Beretta and Olivia Perez, amongst many others. As they watched the behind-the-scenes look at Bolin’s meticulous artistic method, guest sipped Ruinart’s beloved Rosé, paired with canapes from Michelle Bernstein and tunes by DJ Timo Weiland.

 

 

Even those who didn’t score an invite to the swanky soiree were able to immerse themselves in the world of Ruinart x Liu Bolin via an installation at the Ruinart Lounge at Art Basel. Additionally, a Bolin-inspired tasting menu will be available at Cantonese hotspot Hakkasan.

After the bash, Blackbook had the chance to chat up Bolin, for some insight into his first live installation at Art Basel Miami.

 

How did you come up with the concept of the “Invisible Man”?

Since 2001, 9/11 I was thinking about my body and how I could become invisible within society, as there are a lot of conflictive ideas between humans and society. My idea of disappearing into society reflects a lot of those conflicts.

Was it difficult to break into the Western art market as a Chinese artist?

After the Beijing Olympics, China has developed at an accelerated pace. And since then, a lot of art and artists have been more easily promoted, making the environment much easier now.

What would your dream project be?

Anything man can create I can blend into – and I’m interested in these kinds of challenges. At the moment, though, I haven’t really thought of any one challenge in particular.

How do you choose your background, and is there a larger message with each project?

In regards to having any purpose or meaning to the environment I choose, it doesn’t necessarily require a meaning in the beginning. As long as I can blend in to something it will acquire a meaning.

 

 

What do you think of the artistic movement of gender fluidity, where the subject is undefined by race or gender – and how does that compare with your artistic medium of being invisible?

For me it’s not important. Everybody has a choice.

How did you become involved with Ruinart?

The history of Ruinart really interests me, as well as their support of the arts and artists.

What are your current projects?

Next year I have several exhibitions coming up in Italy, France, Hong Kong, Israel, and Australia.

 

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Video For the Exuberant New All Hail The Silence Single ‘Temptation’

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Images by Allister Ann

 

We’ve been BT fans since his 1995 debut Ima decisively hit our aesthetic sweet spot. So our interest was considerably piqued when we learned the electronic music icon (who has collab’d with everyone from Sting to Madonna to Britney Spears) would be teaming up with multi-platinum Brit singer Christian Burns (of BBMak). Resulting is the intriguingly monikered project All Hail The Silence, whose inaugural album will be arriving in January.

In the meanwhile, BlackBook premieres here the video for the exhilarating second single “Temptation.” The opulent, exuberant track reaches back to the blip-bleepy sounds of nascent synth-pop (think Yaz, very early Depeche Mode), but is layered with lush, soaring atmospherics. Burns gives a particularly spirited vocal performance.

 

 

The video itself shows the pair in performance at BT’s Baltimore studio, looking thoroughly swept up into the music (as were we).

‘We wanted to shoot one of the videos in the studio,” BT explains, “surrounded by all the amazing analog synthesizers we used on the record. [There’s] something magical about being in the same room as those machines.”

The aforementioned album, enigmatically titled ‡ ( Daggers), will be released January 18. No tour plans have been announced.

 

Listen: Stunning New Charlotte Gainsbourg Single + Video ‘Such a Remarkable Day’

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Image by Amy Troost

 

In such times of socio-political chaos and uncertainty, one of the truly beautiful things we can count on without doubt is that our love affair with the divine Charlotte Gainsbourg will carry on. And after just last year gracing us with Rest, perhaps her most visceral album to date, she’s back with a very special Christmas present: a striking new 5-song EP, Take 2 (which includes a cover of Kanye West’s “Runaway.”)

The first single from said EP is the glorious “Such a Remarkable Day,” a shimmering, but haunted retro-synth-pop stunner, which distinctly recalls Music For The Masses era Depeche Mode – and which finds her voice sounding more ethereal than ever. Fittingly, the accompanying video shows Mlle. Gainsbourg in performance with her band, immersed in 80s-style aesthetics and effects.

She’s currently touring Europe, with shows in Paris, London, Borgerhout (Belgium) and Cologne between now and December 18. Obviously, it’s worth the trip.

 

This Long Lost Redd Kross Cover of ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ Will Totally Blow You Away

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Redd Kross were LA post-punk’s glamtastic iconoclasts, as American as glitter-dusted apple pie, but with a charmingly unapologetic Anglophilic bent. Rocker brothers Steve and Jeff McDonald brought the band back in 2004, and have been valiantly attempting to resuscitate rock & roll ever since.

Venerable indie label Merge has just joined the cause, this week reissuing their long forgotten 1984 album Teen Babes From Monsanto – a collection of mostly covers of songs by the Stones, Bowie and, most surprisingly, ABBA.

And no exaggeration, their shockingly unheralded, glam-metal update of the Swedish quartet’s classic “Dancing Queen” has veritably rescued us from an otherwise dark and troubled 2018 – sending us into fits of Euro-pop ecstasy. So, naturally, we just had to share.

Warning: You may find yourself dancing unselfconsciously around the room for hours on end, with this song on perpetual repeat.

Enjoy!

 

BlackBook Interview: Richie Hawtin on Technology, Art Basel + The Future of Electronic Music

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Still impressively youthful, energetic and excitable, Richie Hawtin has been making groundbreaking music since 1993, mostly under the Plastikman nom de guerre. Indeed, his austere, minimalist, but unfailingly visceral compositions helped to define a new generation of electronic music experimentalists – his visionary sonics often inspired by the works of notable contemporary artists…including Anish Kapoor and Andreas Gursky.

He also soundtracked Raf Simons’ first runway show for Calvin Klein in 2017.

25 years on, the British-born, Canadian Renaissance Man now epitomizes the ideological opposition to all that awful, mercenary EDM dreck being churned out for maximum festival profit making. To wit, he’s spent the last 18 months taking his mind-bending spectacle, CLOSE, on the road, from Coachella to Buenos Aires, London to Madrid, Tokyo to, finally, Brooklyn – where he will take over the prodigious Avant Gardner space this Saturday night, December 8.

Leading up to that, he’ll be also be electrifying the Art Basel crowd, sharing a bill with Chris Liebing Friday night at Miami’s Club Space. And perhaps most thrillingly, a new Plastikman album is said to be on the way in 2019.

Despite it all, we managed to actually catch up with the peripatetic maestro for an enlightening chat.

 

 

You haven’t released an album since 2015’s From My Mind to Yours – are you working on new material?

To be honest, these days I’m getting a lot of creative satisfaction with my special live performance CLOSE. Although the show is based upon DJ’ing, it has a lot of live elements, including drum machines and synthesizers, that I program and control, creating spontaneous melodic and rhythmic ideas to go along with the records I’m playing. The intensity and creativity that evolves during every one of these shows is like creating a new album each night – intense, challenging and incredibly exhilarating. That’s mostly why there hasn’t been any traditional new release since the FMMTY release. However, I’ve learned a lot during the CLOSE shows of the past three years and I do hope to bring some of that inspired energy back into the studio in 2019. Fingers crossed!

In that time you launched your technology company PLAYdifferently – can you tells us about it?

There can only be new studio music if there’s time to be in the studio; and the past few years have been full of incredible new projects, all somehow interconnected. MODEL 1, the mixer that I helped design with Andy Rigby-Jones, was released by our own PLAYdifferently technology imprint just over two years ago, and is a project that satisfies my geek technology side. What I love about it is the mixer is unlike anything else out there on the market, and gives all DJs and producers the opportunity to play in new ways not possible with other mixers. The mixer has a unique setup of EQs and filters that allow the performer to cut, blend and twist frequencies in a new way. The collaborative components allow two mixers to be joined into one and offers two individual headphone cue systems, to allow B2B DJs the chance to listen to their own sources while they perform together. Lots of bells and whistles to help performances move to another level.

Is Plastikman still an active concern?

Plastikman is my alter-ego who is ever present, albeit sometimes more in the background than foreground. However, he does seem to be pushing through the shadows and I expect he’ll once again be in the foreground in the very near future. I oscillate between music, technology and sake projects, which helps to keep me inspired and happy – and when it comes to all of these projects, you can only follow your intuition, your feeling, your heart, and navigate where your journey takes you. The future looks dark, mysterious and strange. [But] Plastikman is coming!

 

 

Close image by Jordi Cervera

 

What are you doing at Art Basel this week?

Meeting my brother, Matthew Hawtin, who’s a visual artist, and who’ll be exhibiting at one of the fairs in Miami this week. Matthew introduced me to many artists over the past twenty years, and many of them have helped inspire new musical ideas and directions in my production. Having a few days to find new visual inspiration, meeting like-minded artists – both musically and visually – sounds like a great idea; and we nearly always meet down at Art Basel for a few days of creative discussion. To tie it all together, I’ll also be playing at SPACE, hoping to suck some of the art world into our dark club world and hopefully re-inspire them in a musical way.

You’re doing a big show at Avant Gardner in Brooklyn this weekend. What can we expect?

Avant Gardner is a huge warehouse type venue that is well suited for larger scale productions. The event is co-promoted by our friends at Output, which is where I usually play when I’m in town for a regular DJ show. This weekend’s show is the last CLOSE live performance of the year, a full A/V concert type show where I take everything I’ve learned behind the decks and in the studio and fuse it into a spontaneous mixture of frequencies, melodies and pummeling beats.

How come you’re stopping the CLOSE performances?

The setup is very complicated and is quite an intensive undertaking. Instead of doing a series of shows where the setup might have been compromised, we decided to focus on one key event and drive all our friends and fans to come and experience the show in the best possible conditions!

What do you think is left for electronic music?

What do you think is left for any type of music? Electronic music lives and breathes through technology, technology that is continuing to evolve and offer new, exciting possibilities in sound creation, performance methods and interactivity. As we push forward into a future based on and assisted by more and more technology, techno will be the only soundtrack that makes sense.

Finally, you have your own sake brand, ENTER.Sake – are you a Japanophile?

I fell in love with Japan during my first trip over 25 years ago, and have since found any excuse to go back to learn more about the country and its history. Along the way I discovered sake, and found a rich culture that fascinated me, and a community that was filled with independent artisans that reminded me very much of our electronic community. Young driven artists pushing forward with a balance of tradition and technology, creating a beautifully crafted drink that is completely hypnotic. For me personally, sake and electronic music go hand-in-hand, in spirit and in the feeling and taste.

 

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: The Dears’ Murray A. Lightburn’s Elegant New Solo Single ‘Changed My Ways’

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Image by Richmond Lam

 

Following the turn of the Millennium, Montreal’s The Dears captured cool-kid hearts with a suave but iconoclastic sort of post-punk revivalism. They continue apace, but now singer Murray A. Lightburn has embarked on a little detour from the band for an eagerly anticipated solo album.

The second single from said album, “Changed My Ways” – which BlackBook premieres here – works an enigmatic but urbane little corner of inspiration, where, say, Burt Bacharach and Tindersticks intersect.

“I wrote this song on the piano,” he recalls, “that first melody you hear, doubled by the flute. The original demo was more muscular and I doubted it for awhile. So I zoomed back in to the original way I sang and played it on the piano, which became the guide. I wanted it to be gentle and fragile yet strong – a tough balance that kind of encapsulates the album and its theme.”

 

 

No surprise, as The Dears have always stood athwart any clichéd notions of musical machismo, Lightburn sees the tone, even the aesthetics of the song, as representing a distinctly evolved idea of manhood. Which, considering the current socio-ideological zeitgeist, is certainly welcome.

“I wanted this song and this album to convey my own version masculinity,” he explains, “but totally void of that bullshit. I wanted something that was strong and confident without backing down or [being] perceived as arrogant. That is really hard. And I don’t really see or hear a lot of that these days, especially from black men. In 2018, it’s not really pushed up front – so here I am, trying. Wish me luck.”

The new album, with the perhaps politely-requesting title Hear Me Out (we obviously recommend that you do), will be released February 22nd via Dangerbird Records.