The media has actively cultivated fear and worry in the wake of the March 22 Brussels terrorist attacks—when it would surely be best to return to focusing on the Belgian culture and joie de vivre that more vividly defines day to day life in the city.
And in fact, the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, around which has stirred so much recent controversy, is actually home to a growing creative community (the excellent new MIMA urban art museum just debuted there in April). And out of that comes Robbing Millions, the distinctly artful indie pop act centered around songwriters Lucien Fraipont and Gaspard Ryelandt.
Their new, dreamlike track “8 Is The Figure That I Like The Most” recalls the more blithe practitioners of shoegaze, but mixes it up with slick funk grooves, androgynous vocals and a strange psychedelic undercurrent. The video for the song (which we premiere here), directed by Belgian photographer and aesthetic provocateur Marine Dricot, appears to be something like a spontaneous art party in a dayglo psyche ward.
For vinyl fanatics, on May 28 Brussels label I Will Play This Song Once Again Records will release eight exclusive pressings, each containing a unique recording of the song. In the meanwhile, the band will be appearing live at Paris’ hyper trendy Silencio club tonight, May 24.
Check out the BlackBook premiere of the video for “8 Is The Figure That I Like The Most.”
It was going to take more than chocolate and waffles to get me back to Brussels. Not because I don’t like the city, but because I dated someone who lived there while I studied in Holland twelve years ago and he broke my heart. I fucking hate him. Even still. But my love for painter Rene Magritte was enough to lure me back to a city where bad memories abound.
The Magritte Museum opened about two years ago and I’d been dying to go since. It’s sort of an annex to the Museum of Modern Art, which, using my combo ticket, I actually visited first. The museum has an “ancient art” section chock-full of Baroque paintings, including works by Rubens and—one of my favorite Neoclassical paintings—The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David. The modern side of the museum had a Dali next to a Miro.
But it was all about Magritte for me. I remember visiting the Museum of Modern Art back in 1998, when there was a fantastic Magritte exhibit. I’m glad he finally got his own museum like he deserves. Magritte contributed to the Dada movement and is known as one of the world’s best surrealist painters. His paintings are so commanding – the colors and objects; his obsession with repeat subjects, like birds and curtains and doors; the juxtaposition of night and day; making ordinary objects appear strange and daunting.
It was the first time I’d ever spent more than two hours at a museum, examining everything (and I mean everything) on display. I even got an audiotour thingy, which I never do. The museum was well worth the day trip from Paris.
After my visit, I wandered the streets of Brussels. I forgot how beautiful the city is, just as charming as Paris, really. Luckily, I never did run into my ex. But I did eat chocolate and waffles – sweet revenge.
With vivid, study-abroad memories of Holland fresh in my mind, how could I fail to relive my favorite European coming of age experience by not taking a train? 12 years ago, when I spent a semester in Amsterdam, the Eurorail pass was the golden ticket to see other countries as, back then, the continent didn’t yet have the twin conveniences of Ryanair or EasyJet. But those who can remember a time before budget airline travel will most likely agree: the trains were nasty. You could still smoke on board, there were always empty beer cans and vomit gracing the sticky flooring, and token Germans who hated Americans – and made it obvious – filled the dining cars. Anyway, I wanted to get to Brussels from Paris and the most efficient means of doing so was hopping on a train.
Thankfully, train travel is not a shitshow anymore. I learned this today when I actually upgraded to first class (Comfort 1). It was only 40 bucks more, and I dreaded the nightmare I had previously experienced.
The ride turned out to be pretty amazing, the amenities surprisingly worth the upgrade. Not only was a nutritious meal included and served (with wine!), but the seats were reclinable and comfy and there was free WIFI and newspapers. Also, the train guy came around with taxi vouchers, so if you needed a taxi at your destination, they would have one waiting for you. Even with budget airlines becoming ubiquitous, train travel is more economical, as you’re dropped off right in the city center and don’t have to deal with all that airport bullshit and the cost of transfers. Good to know Eurorail is on the right track (get it?) and too bad this didn’t exist when I was a college student. Not that I would have been able to afford Comfort 1.
Maybe because of some happy childhood memories involving color wheels, but we’re suckers for Pantone colors and and the merchandise spin-offs, be they business card holders or coffee mugs. And now, there’s a new Pantone Hotel, and we’re pretty intrigued.
The Pantone Hotel in Brussels, Belgium features 59 rooms on seven floors. Rooms have one of seven unique Pantone color palettes, ranging from “Daring, Fiery” to “Fresh, Eager” and they all feature photography by Belgian shutterfly Victor Levy. The color schemes are displayed against a crisp, modern backdrop–think white duvets with solid-colored throws on the beds and enlarged Pantone color chips on the wall.
The Pantone Lounge has cocktails named by color (how clever!), like Pink Champagne PANTONE 12-1107 and Lemon Drop PANTONE 12-0736. And, naturally, there’s a gift shop selling mugs and bikes from the “Pantone Universe,” though if you’ve traveled all the way to Belgium, maybe you should grab a souvenir not available in every hipster corner store.
A random search for rooms this summer found rates as low as 59 euro per night, which, with the sale on Europe is just $72/night.
There’s not the slightest doubt that galleries are hurtingsuffering direly lately. The fallout has gotten so abysmal that they’ve embraced a rather Donnie Darko-esque method of raising awareness. So this weekend, wherever you are across the world, make a little time to patronize your local galleries. Just because the New Depression’s made mincemeat out of television and pop music doesn’t mean art is experiencing a similar creative drought.
● Culver City-based Fette’s Gallery is celebrating the work of artist Bas Louter’s latest work with a show entitled “Dust.” Louter’s charcoal and ink drawings draw take cues from history and film noir in equal measures; “Dust” is curated by Fette herself . While the show is ongoing through Valentine’s Day, it formally opens tomorrow night with a reception.
● Now here’s synergy that all the savviest marketing execs world put together couldn’t conjure. Antony Hegarty, the voice behind Hercules & Love Affair, is drawing attention to his band’s — that’s Antony & the Johnsons — latest offering by presenting a number of his newsprint and ink drawings at London’s Isis Gallery. “The Creek” dreams up fragmented landscapes, finding reference points in the works of William S Burroughs and Antonin Artaud. The exhibition ends in late February. Also, for synergy’s sake, here’s the band’s first single off The Crying Light, “Epilepsy Is Dancing.”
● And because Warholia will never fall out of fashion, Galerie Rudolfinum in Brussels is celebrating Andy Warhol’s screen tests and non-narrative films from the better part of the 1960s. “Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures” features everyone from pop art poster-girl Edie Sedgwick to Dennis Hopper doddering about on film. I suppose no one could ever allege that the man was anything if not prolific. The show runs through April.
● In Lower Manhattan, namely the Lower East Side’s Cuchifritos, a group show focused around a photo album found curbside that chronicled a peculiar relationship in which two lovers never appeared together in any of the photographs. In addition to the found photography, “A Relationship Left for Dead” features artists like Patrick Cunningham and Jordan Tinker contributing work that utilizes the album as a launchpad to more thoroughly explore themes of loss and isolation. And what better time to explore such bleak motifs than during flu season!