Eerie New Ladytron Video for ‘Deadzone’ Imagines a Car Crash Aftermath



JG Ballard’s erotically dystopian novel Crash (and its controversial 1997 David Cronenberg film version) eerily depicted a heady sort of car-crash fetishism. No less unsettling, the new Ladytron video for current single “Deadzone” imagines the violent aftermath of a vehicular accident, which then transforms into a strangely alluring sort of dance of death.

In it, a pair of victims struggle out of their shattered machines, only to engage in a twisted rhythmic ritual. The song itself is appropriately musically machine-like and ominous, recalling Black Celebration era Depeche Mode. It’s taken from Ladytron’s self-titled sixth studio album, released earlier this year – which some regarded as their best ever.

The exalted Liverpool synth-pop quartet will also play 11 dates across the U.S., Canada and U.K. this fall, kicking off with an appearance at Brooklyn Steel on October 2.


Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee’s Instinctive Sculptures Stun at the Met Breuer



“How on earth did someone even think to do this, never mind do it?,” was New York Times Editor Holland Cotter’s reaction to the Met Breuer’s latest exhibition Phenomenal Nature, by late Indian artist Mrinalini Mukherjee – which we admit to almost missing, but were compelled to report on before its closing.

Born in Mumbai in 1949, Mukherjee drew her inspiration early on from her artist parents: Mother Leela, a sculptor, father Behari a painter and prominent figure of India’s modernist movement. Mukherjee grew up surrounded by the picturesque foothills of the Himalayas and later the rugged landscape of Santiniketan, West Bengal.

Working with earthy fibers like cotton, jute, hemp, bamboo, carpet brushes and natural rope known as Shani, which she describes as “something like hemp, not sure it if is flax, but not jute…maybe something in between,” she was an artist like no other. And this is in reference to the time – the 1970’s – and place – West Bengal, India – when the sculpture scene was a predominantly male dominated space. Her contemporaries were largely using marble to carve their figurines, Mukherjee was fully invested in cultivating her woven forms.



Roughly half a dozen free-standing sculptures, suspended from wires, and some situated on the floor, show off Mukherjee’s impeccable ingenuity. Using a knotted macramé technique, each form represents her laborious handiwork, resulting in mysterious, sexual and at times grotesque forms.

Theatrical, inventive and iconic, her pieces are rooted in nature and culture, although she believes it’s a “metamorphosed expression of varied sensory perceptions.” She further clarifies that her “anthropomorphic deities have no relationship to gods and goddesses in the traditional iconographic sense, but are parallel invocations in the realm of art.”

From the moss green Van Raja (king of the forest) to Yakshi (female forest deity) and Pakshi (bird), most of her pieces were titled with Sanskrit names of nature spirits and feminine deities. With every curve nuanced, expressions exaggerated and human-size scale, it speaks volumes about her knowledge of Indian sculpture, folk art, modern design, and the crafts and textiles that underlie her artistic expression.



Without any preparatory drawings or sketches, she went with what she calls “the feeling of awe you get when you walk into the small sanctum of a temple and look up to behold an iconic presence.” The 1980s marked the culmination of her work with fibers and her foray into experimenting with ceramic and bronze (her sculptor-mother’s favored material).

Unlike knotting rope which was more pliable, handling malleable clay required immediate reactivity; and yet she managed to retain her signature fluidity, evident in pieces like the Night Bloom. Mukherjee’s bronze forms take you through a series called Palmscape, where she collected natural tree droppings like leaves, stems, stripped-off bark, and cast them in bronze, reminiscent of her time at Santiniketan, where learning happened outdoors in a style known as “tree schooling.”

Mukherjee’s untimely demise at age 65 came as she was racing to the finish line of one of her series’, a look back at her career at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi in 2015. It marked the end of an artist who spent a large part of her forty-year career working in isolation, creating masterpieces that came purely from her love of the craft. A revelatory retrospective, this installation at the Met Breuer is visually arresting to say the very least.

Phenomenal Nature will be showing through September 29.



BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Winsome New Wardell Single ‘Tokyo Phones’

Image by Julia Brokaw


Considering their parents are Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, the brother sister duo that is Wardell go about their business with a surprising sort of understated savoir faire.

Indeed, Sasha and Theo Spielberg first took to the stage under their current moniker back in 2012, and have essentially organically built a cult following with their captivating brand of mod folk-pop, drawing on influences from Janis Joplin to The Strokes. Yet their recorded output has been somewhat sparse. So BlackBook was excited for the opportunity to premiere their newest single “Tokyo Phones,” a winsome but melancholy jazz-pop stunner with a ’70s boho vibe, and Sasha’s elegant, Kate Bush-like vocal performance.



The song apparently took three years to come together.

“I was in a relationship that I sadly knew would be coming to an end,” explains Theo, “and I began writing this about the future tense feeling of missing somebody you spend every day with. And right in the middle of recording it, this person called me to speak for the first time in over a year – which sort of ended up finishing the song.”

The track was the final song completed for their upcoming album Impossible Falcon, released this Friday, September 20.


Bauhaus Announce Los Angeles Reunion Show! BlackBook Revisits the 10 Most Goth Excerpts From the New Book ‘Bauhaus Undead’

The curious and curiouser thing about goth, is how many of its musical progenitors have felt the need to distance themselves from its lugubrious tenets…even as they mostly clung steadfastly to its aesthetic and stylistic codes (let’s be honest, has Robert Smith ever not looked goth?)

The members of Bauhaus, arguably goth’s cradle of civilization, have generally gone along with it through the years, rewarding the unshakeable loyalty of their dark-hearted minions with dada-esque reunion performances and a steady flow of caliginously packaged re-issues. And just yesterday, they quite shockingly announced they will play their first show together in 13 years, at L.A.’s Hollywood Palladium, Saturday, October 19 – hopefully the first of many.

To fete the occasion, we revisit here a BlackBook exclusive, whereby drummer Kevin Haskins chose the most Bauhaus moments from the striking new coffee table book by none other than himself, titled (what else?) Bauhaus Undead: The Visual History and Legacy (released in 2018 via Cleopatra). It gloriously celebrates the band’s exalted place at the throne of the most steadfast subculture in all of modern history.

Indeed, a deliciously decadent collection of anecdotes and images, it strikingly serves to remind of Bauhaus’ conceptual and confrontational pretension/brilliance, as well as the visual and intellectual depth of their oeuvre. It all makes for an appropriate sensory overload, a sublimely arranged cataloging of a their unimaginably influential manifesto of the macabre.

“The bats have left the bell tower…”


“Bela Lugosi’s Dead”

One of my favorite posters (pictured above) announcing the release of our first single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” This was screen printed by guitarist Daniel Ash and his father, Arthur Ash. Arthur was a sign writer and had a workshop in a shed at the bottom of his garden. I recall driving around in my Morris Minor in the dead of night, surreptitiously plastering up the posters with glue made of flour and water.

The Hearse

We were recording our third LP, The Sky’s Gone Out, at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire, Wales. One day, venturing into the nearby village of Monmouth to stock up on supplies, Daniel and Peter happened upon a hearse that was for sale. This would make a very fine means of convenience for touring, they both thought, and after consulting with David and I, the next day the sale was made. Following the deal, we drove it with great excitement back to the studio and showed it off to the studio owner’s teenage daughters, who immediately asked us to take them for a spin. The girls took up their positions in the back, where normally the coffin would be placed. With Peter at the wheel we all set off with gusto around the narrow country lanes of Wales. Peter decided to test the capacity of the engine for speed and endurance, and as our lives flashed before our eyes, we went careering around the narrow bends and curves, over humpbacked bridges, and on several occasions, ironically, almost meeting our keeper. The poor ladies were being thrown from side to side of the rear compartment, screaming with both fear and delight! Fortunately, we eventually made it back in one piece.


Soiree Vampires

Plan K is an intriguing venue. Housed in an old sugar refinery in Brussels, at six stories high, one had to navigate a maze of floors, rooms and narrow foot bridges to explore its industrial interior. The night that we played there on April 5th, 1980, they named it “Soirée Vampires!” Before we took to the stage, they screened several films from a 16mm projector including: La Fiancée Du Vampire, Le Masque Du Demon and Mensch Und Kunstfigur, the latter being a documentary about Oskar Schlemmer, an artist and teacher associated with the Bauhaus art movement.


Pressure & Strain

Drawing on blank page of our 1983 UK tour itinerary. This was drawn by me only days before Bauhaus first disbanded. One can clearly see that the pressure and strain was finally getting to me.


‘Mask’ Photo Shoot

Picture taken of me during the filming of the video for Mask. After shooting the bulk of the video in an abandoned Victorian shoe factory in our home town, we drove to the middle of the countryside. We each daubed on makeshift makeup and, lit only by car headlights, we completed the filming. It was mid winter and about four degrees below freezing point. This is me adorned with a scarf of brambles after I had just crawled through an icy stagnant pond.


‘Exquisite Corpse’ Game

Exquisite Corpse drawing. A parlour game invented by the Surrealists was one of our favorite ways of dealing with the boredom of life on the road. It’s a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, without viewing what the previous person has written or drawn. Once the last person has finished, then the piece is revealed.


‘The Resurrection’

This was it… After all the telephone calls, meetings, rehearsals, and the huge anticipation, we were about to take the stage again almost two decades after our “final show,” for the first date on The Resurrection Tour. As the opening chords of our first song “Double Dare” rang out, I can clearly remember a great feeling of confidence and invincibility! Bauhaus were back! The passion, vitality and the energy of the band was still intact and, coupled with the fact that three of us had been performing together for the past fifteen years, we could all actually play much better.
Coffin shaped poster by artist Allen Jaeger for The Resurrection Tour.


Hanging Upside Down at Coachella

In 2005 we were asked to play The Coachella Music Festival, and the promoter Paul Tollet asked us to create a spectacular show. Having always had a leaning towards the theatrical, we set about brainstorming our grand entrance. One of the first ideas we had was to release thousands of bats from the stage. On inquiring as to where to obtain said bats, we learned that it would actually be illegal to release them at the time when we would be on stage. A little dismayed we set about brainstorming again. Eventually Peter came up with the brilliant idea of the inverted hanging man, based on the Greek archetype Hermes in connection to alchemy. Peter would be the hanging man, or vampire bat as it was also naturally interpreted.



Eins, Zwei, Drei, Vier!!!!

The SO36 Club is situated in Kreuzberg, Berlin, in the heart of the Turkish Quarter. During the 70s, it was a squat which morphed into a legendary punk rock venue. David Bowie and Iggy Pop were often seen there during the time they were living in Berlin. Today it has been renovated, but back then it was cold, bare bones, rough and ready. The first time we played there was on the second gig of our first European tour on March 29th, 1980, and it was quite a memorable experience.
Unfortunately, there was a certain element in the crowd who had come only to listen to one of the local support bands, The Giants, who were a Rockabilly band. The Teddy Boys were yelling profanities and threatening the kids who had come to see us.
The dressing room was situated half way down the hall, so to access it one had to walk, or in our case, run through the audience. Well the Teddy Boys knew this, and on our way back there, they attempted to attack us! We managed to arrive relatively intact, along with the promoter and our two-man crew. At the rear of the dressing room was a big stack of wooden chairs. To our surprise, the promoter suddenly began smashing them to bits! Had he gone mad? We soon learned the reason for his bizarre behavior when he gave each of us a chair leg to use as a defensive weapon.
Grabbing the door handle he struck a rather dramatic commando like pose, yelled, “Eins, Zwei, Drei, Vier”…and boom! We were now running through the audience towards the exit, wielding our makeshift clubs! Thankfully, the Teds were too alarmed to engage and we made it safely to a waiting mini bus. We endured a rather frigid journey back to our lodgings though, as they had smashed every window on our bus.


Billy’s London

During January and February, 1980, we landed a five night residency at a club called Billy’s in Soho, London. The club stands on the site where King Charles II would visit his mistress, Nell Gwynne, and in the 30s it housed the radical Gargoyle Club, which attracted the likes of Noel Coward, Francis Bacon and Tallulah Bankhead. I guess you could say that we were in good company. As each night progressed at Billy’s, we attracted more and more followers clad in black leather and lace, witnessing the seeds of the Gothic movement beginning to germinate. There we were, standing at the beach head, unwittingly inventing an entirely new genre of music.
On one particular night, as we stormed through our set, I was convinced that I spied Tony Wilson and Ian Curtis at the bar. It transpired that Joy Division were in London recording their second album Closer at Britannia Row in Islington. After our set, we approached Ian who told us that Tony had left early because of his dislike of bands that wear makeup. Ian went on to tell us that he enjoyed our set and was inspired to see us play live after hearing our records.
It came as quite a shock, just three months later, when we learned, with great sadness, that he had taken his own life.



Kita Klane’s Cover of ‘Baby Mine’ is an Enchanting, Modern World Lullaby

Photo by Nic Harcourt



Tim Burton’s cinematic update of Dumbo this past spring didn’t quite win the hearts of the critical establishment (though it still did make $350 million at the box office). But it was all worth it if it only means that we can have Kita Klane‘s truly captivating cover of “Baby Mine,” the signature song from the original 1941 film, on endless repeat.

The enchanting L.A. songstress has been compared to everyone from Etta James to Amy Winehouse (minus the inner turmoil) – and just 20 seconds into “Baby Mine,” one clearly understands what all the fuss is about. And though her creative journey has seen her further cultivating her considerable DJ skills of late – she’s part of a JBL series that sends her and her decks to airports around the country, spinning outside of InMotion stores – we were thrilled to find out she’s actually working on new music for an early 2020 release.



“Baby Mine” was actually recorded for the Dumbo remake, but Arcade Fire’s version ultimately made it to the film. So Ms. Klane has generously just released hers to the world, all trip-hop tempo and dreamy atmospherics enveloping her beguilingly bewitching vocal performance, resulting in a paradigm new lullaby for the 21st Century. There’s also a subtle, underlying noir quality to her remake, as if David Lynch were somehow influencing the proceedings.

“I have a vivid memory of my mom singing it to me when I was scared to sleep at night,” she recalls. “As an adult, when I got the opportunity to do a cover version, I wanted to offer the same sincerity in my vocal, to reach through the moody dissonance to a modern listener in need of comfort and hope in these unsettling times.”

It’s the perfect antidote, then, to the overwhelming relentlessness our current contemporary nightmare.


BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Julia Haltigan’s Retro-Cool Single ‘Debris of Love’



With her seemingly endless superhero antics, its easily forgotten that Scarlett Johansson occasionally exchanged the tights for rocker togs to perform with her band The Singles. One of her co-conspirators in said musical venture was guitarist Julia Haltigan, who has been lately busy making her own way, with the recent single “Wool” – and rapturous press from the likes of Interview and the New York Times.

In between straddling her vintage Triumph motorcycles and making cameo appearances in HBO’s The Deuce, she’s managed to record an album, the W. Andrew Raposo produced Trouble, slated for release October 25. In the meantime, BlackBook premieres here the advance single “Debris of Love,” which, with its twangy guitars, retro organ blasts, and Haltigan’s dreamy, Nancy Sinatra-esque vocals, sounds something like The Strokes as produced by David Lynch.

“This song is about falling in love while knowing it won’t last long,” she explains. “It’s also about the energy New York City has during the summer, those nights when it feels like anything could happen.”

A perfect excuse, then, to hang on to summer just a little bit longer.

N.B. –  Ms. Haltigan will play seven West Coast live dates this fall, kicking off at Gold Diggers in Los Angeles September 22.


Must See Exhibition: Transcendence Through Pop Shamanism at Tel Aviv’s ‘Only Connect’




It was while the Israeli artist Liora Kaplan was traveling in Costa Rica in the 1990s that she had an epiphany: rather than following the advice of her Lonely Planet guidebook, she turned to a seasoned traveler for tips on favorite destinations.

“His advice was to go to the central bus station, find the dirtiest looking bus, and take it to its final destination, and do so again and again repeatedly until I arrived somewhere with no more bus stations,” she recalls. That was how Kaplan found her way to the Boruca tribe. Interested in learning how to carve traditional wooden masks – a craft reserved for men – she waited patiently by the side of the village master for three days until he agreed to let her join in.

Kaplan would later spend time with craftsmen and artists in Ecuador, too. There she learned to identify medicinal plants, and became a participant in shamanic ceremonies. Today she credits that experience with helping her to find her true voice, and inspiring her art practice. Take, for example, the motif of the snake, an ancient symbol of healing, that finds its expression in Kaplan’s work, including Feather Bed #1, one of several pieces included in Only Connect, a group show at the Braverman Gallery in Tel Aviv that has been curated by Thomas Rom, drawing on the fascinating premise that artists are shamans in spirit, helping us connect the realms of reason and spirituality.

In each of the seven artists gathered in this intimate and illuminating show, he has found a kind of call-and-response that exemplifies his broader theme: only connect.



For Rom, who was born in Israel but now lives in New York, the impetus for the show came from E.M. Forster’s classic novel, Howard’s End – a profound touchstone for him as a young man trying to figure out his place in the world. Rereading it, he saw how the novel’s signature mantra, “Only connect,” felt as relevant in this particular moment as it had for readers at the turn of the 19th century.

“It’s a book that has been with me in really hard times in life,” explains Rom. “I was trying to think why does it resonate so much, and realized there was a really interesting connection between the time in which the book was written and our time today – the sense that machines are taking over, that there’s pollution everywhere, that technology is imposing itself on us, and there’s a need to come together as a tribe and connect – and how does that inform the art world and how do artists inform that space through their practice?”

For Kaplan, the role of the shaman – like the artist – is to guide people into higher realms. “Through a work of art you can reach transcendence,” she says. As for the show’s title, she takes it as a reminder that she needs to be a channel in her own work…“to always let life go through me, into my work, into my practice.”

Trenton Doyle Hancock, another artist in the show and one of the youngest to have featured at the Whitney Biennial (in 2000 and again in 2002, when he was 26 and 28 respectively), believes that art has no choice but to be shamanic. “Whether it’s through illusory means or mere charting and mapping, art allows space for advanced interpretation,” he says. “This interpretation generally has little to do with science and more to do with the indefinable spirit.”




In the show, Hancock’s fabulist art leaps out from his canvasses, elaborate explosions of cartoon-like images that blend humor and narrative in ways that are playful and personal. One outlier is his piece The Den, that presents itself as a purely abstract work, until you understand its genesis as a decorative floor tile redolent of the artist’s childhood.

The Den is a painting based on a floor tile from my youth, the pattern was popular in late 1960s and 1970s home décor, and I remember laying on this floor tile as a toddler, tracing the linear elements with my finger. I became obsessed with the repeat, and I found it rewarding to locate and identify the similarities and slight differences in the colors. This pattern became synonymous with my grandmother’s house, and therefore became a symbol of safety, warmth, and unity.”

Which brings us back to the show’s guiding spirit. “The painting’s shamanic function is that of transport and time travel, because when I ruminate on the quatrefoil, I am magically and psychically moved, reveals Hancock.

Rom says that the show is designed as an invitation to viewers to think about how shamanic practices manifest within their own world. “It asks more questions than it answers. Much like shamanic practice itself, it opens questions, and encourages you to do the work later on.”

Many of the artists are friends of Rom’s, or have worked with him in the past. Jordan Nassar, a Palestinian American artist with a major show opening September 19 at CCA Tel Aviv, excavates the meaning of home and identity in richly-embroidered textiles that draw on Palestinian traditions and symbolism. Much like Hancock’s The Den, his work reminds us that the past itself is shamanic – a siren call from our own mythos. It’s through such symbols that community is born.




Reuven Israel has a long history of working with Rom. Inspired, among other things, by ceremonial artifacts and religious sites, Israel’s highly precise structures, made from MDF and coated in smooth layers of car paint, have a quasi-religious aspect, like deities of the machine age. In fact, they are made by hand with strict adherence to detail, giving them the quality of something from a high-tech factory. Rom points out that Israel often begins his process while engaged in sound meditation that incorporates instruments popular in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries and indigenous to the East and West. The result, says Rom, is like “the love child of Donald Judd and Andy Warhol…they’re completely abstract but they have this lusciousness to them and a slickness.”

Rom has even made space for art world darlings the Haas Brothers, who took Art Basel by storm last December and currently have another show at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. The brothers have long synthesized their copious knowledge of pop culture with brash Dr. Seuss-style colors and imagined figures, but recent years have found them drawn into an artistic dialogue with spirituality and nature, traveling to South Africa, for example, to learn beading from women in the Xhosa tribe, who now go by the name (tongue firmly in cheek) the Haas Sisters. Their work, like Nassar’s, honors the historical (and often unacknowledged) role of women in the creative arts, while simultaneously expanding the concept of art by engaging them in the artistic process.

Because in Chinese schools there is no tradition of teaching modern or abstract art, Li Shurui jumped from studying traditional Chinese ink paintings straight to contemporary art, and now works primarily with LED lights that conjure a hallucinogenic quality. Think of a Burning Man light sculpture, and you’ll see how her work fits into Rom’s theme. He says her work speaks to the “technologization of spiritual experience.” Shurui herself, in a profile for Forbes magazine, said, “I try to use light and space to capture an atmosphere and state of mind in a way that leaves people with a strong emotive impression rather than a concept or idea that must be dealt with logically.”

But while all these artists explore ideas that tap into shamanism, only one is an actual shaman: Solange Pessoa, who was born in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Her work incorporates elemental materials and feels tactile, earthy, and deeply expressive. Made using minerals, clay, and dyes from native Brazilian plants, she manages to bridge past and present, recalling ancient ritual and prehistory, while being rooted in the contemporary tradition. It’s a salutary reminder that we can’t isolate our past from our present, and that it is in the shamanic arts that we achieve full connectivity – with nature, with ourselves, and with each other.



BlackBook Premiere: Raelyn Nelson Band’s Provocative New Single + Video ‘Weed and Whiskey’



File under: apple not falling far from the tree. Raelyn Nelson, granddaughter of His American Musical Eminence Willie – known to indulge in the…ahem…occasional roll and toke – has just released her new raucous new single “Weed and Whiskey” (the new video for which BlackBook enthusiastically premieres here) an advocation – and quite an urgent one in these culturally oppressive times – for just, you know…chilling the f*ck out.

Having grown up in one country music’s royal families, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Ms. Nelson simply followed a well-trodden path down Nashville’s Music Row. Yet she’s obviously also ingested her fair share of rock and bloody roll, as her band owes its sound to Cheap Trick and Jack White as much as Tanya Tucker and Roseanne Cash. Indeed the cover of their new album, due in November, is an homage to The Clash’s London Calling – itself a nod to Elvis Presley’s 1956 debut album. (The circle of life…)



Yet, despite the hedonistic title, the track has more of a zeitgeist-tapping message than may be immediately apparent. Indeed, Nelson explains, “It’s not a ’round up your friends, jump on your tailgate, let’s all get fucked up’ party anthem,” but rather speaks to the endlessly oppressive “tradition” of American prohibition, and the ridiculous laws still governing cannabis use in this country.

“We’ve all had a friend or family member that has been affected by the opioid crisis,” she observes, “but some of our leaders choose to demonize a plant that has been scientifically proven to have many health benefits – including helping people get off of opioids.“

But all seriousness aside, with “Weed and Whiskey” she’s happy to just rock your world for a few minutes – and let’s face it, isn’t that what we really need right now?


Marina is Mellowing Out ‘Love + Fear’, Touring North America


Carrying on without her Diamonds, Marina managed to shine just fine on her new album Love + Fear, (released this past spring) including the poignant single “To Be Human” – which sincerely wondered why humans are so disposed to cultivating hatred and strife.

Now the winsome Brit songstress has taken five tracks from said album, and stripped them down to their visceral essence, for Love + Fear Acoustic, due out September 13 via Neon Gold / Atlantic. It will notably include a reworking of the hit single “Orange Trees,” a song that joyfully revels in the beauty and serenity of nature – certainly an exigent message in this era of environmental anxiety.

Marina will also launch a 20-date North American tour September 10 at Rebel in Toronto, ending up at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre October 9. Keep her in your plans.