Art, Music, Thoughts

Jay Z’s ‘Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film’ + Abramović

Here is something new from Mr. Carter.

And some notes I made whilst I was watching it. This is the first thing in quite a while which links back to my fine art degree and provoked a reaction. I’m not for or against this piece of work from Jay Z, but that’s usual of my mediator demeanour in life: never quite taking an opinion (I try to see that as an asset!) So here’s what came to me:

Marina Abramović – hugely respected performance artist. Recently lots of hype from her ‘The Artist is Present’ performance piece in 2010 at MOMA. 736 hours, each sitting 30 minutes long of sitting opposite someone, (any spectator). Huge time and emotion investment. Imagine staring into so many different people’s faces for that long, that often.

Jay Z’s newest music video, shot in one day, nicking the performance piece from Abramović, but being friendly with her – she appears a few times in the video, mostly head-butting Jay Z and staring into his eyes, adding some weight to the interactions – everyone else seems to be showing off.

I wonder if Jay Z paid to use Abramovićs’ creative idea?

jay z

Everyone looks so excited at the end, that’s nice. Like the end of a really good gig where everyone’s wanting to go and carry the party on, like it finished too early. ‘people’ include the general public as well as Jim Jaramusch, Judd Apatow, Jemima Kirke and Alan Cumming. Which is great. Everyone, come along – just like Abramović did for her performance piece.

It’s out of the box for rappers, which is great. I like that. But it’s sneaking into the box of performance art, and making it another consumable, you-tube-able, quick-fix of art. No space to be bored, bang bang bang. “I’m a celebrity!” The excitement of seeing a rapper compared to the stillness of an artist staring into someones eyes for 30 minutes and seeing what happens.

Jay Z’s video shoot looks like a lot of fun, I wish I was there. He’s got this crazy cult following, that triangle shape he makes with his hands, which his crowd copies and shows him. Bet he loves that.

That’s it really. Just some thoughts. I don’t know if I like it or not. Do you?

Music, Thoughts

Music to work to

Hello Easter break! I have been enjoying having the long weekend off, and now I have another week ‘off work’ (ie. no Light Box work, just me in my studio making stuff – which I have not done in months) I’m really enjoying it, and I have a week’s holiday abroad to look forward to as well.

Today it’s just me in the studio, sorting some pens and making some stuff. Bliss.

Music to work to today:

  • It’s The Motherf**king Remix – The Rub (download volume 3 here for free!)
  • You Make My Dreams – Hall and Oates
  • Spirit Lake – Coco Rosie
  • Greatest Hits Vol 1 – The Eagles
  • Alphabet Street – Prince
  • U Got the Look – Prince
  • She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals
  • BBC Radio 4’s MedMatters podcast
  • Brick House – Commodores
  • Greatest Hits – Herb Alpert
  • Yo La Tengo

Four Tet – There is Love in You

I have just got round to buying the newest album by Four Tet, ‘There is Love in You’ but have not listened to it yet! I want to save it for when I reallllly want to hear it. Soon.

I love trying to put music into words, and may try my own review once I’ve listened to the new album. But for now, here’s a BBC review by Si Hawkins

(I’m enjoying the words ‘mesmeric’, ‘melody-laden’ and ‘bliss’)

“You have to admire Kieran Hebden for sticking so rigidly to his vision. Back in 2003 the London-based producer made an album called Rounds, which became rather more popular than he’d envisaged due to its winning mix of beautiful, organic-sounding melodies and novel, cleverly-manipulated samples. Radiohead invited him out on tour, tracks from the album began to pop up on everything from sportswear ads to television gardening shows, and Hebden looked set to become a quasi-household name.

Instead, two years on he released Everything Ecstatic, a record that upped the beats-per-minute dramatically in a bid to counteract the unlovely term ‘folktronica’ he’d been saddled with, and any suggestion of commercial intent. Those listeners who abandoned Four Tet at this point may want to give There is Love in You a spin, however, because, as the title suggests: the bliss is back.

Five years is a fair gap between Four Tet albums but then Hebden’s tracks are aural mosaics, painstakingly compiled to work on several levels. The skipping two-step of Love Cry, for example, may appear relatively traditional; but take a closer listen and there are intricacies aplenty, including an underlying synth whirr that sounds oddly reminiscent of the noise Fred Flintstone’s legs used to make when he carried the car to work. This presumably wasn’t the intention.

Even the more straightforward offerings, such as the aptly-titled This Unfolds, gently lull the listener in while sneaking a bewildering array of bells and whistles into the mix, so by the denouement you’re blissfully nodding along to what in less dextrous hands would be a chaotic maelstrom of noise.
There are a few recognisable Four Tet trademarks along the way, notably the chopped-up vocals and general CD-on-the-blink effects of album opener Angel Echoes, which, again, may sound slightly off-putting for those who wouldn’t normally purchase experimental electronica. But the soulful female voice, stuttering and struggling against the onrushing sonic wave, is so affecting that the track’s abstract nature becomes almost incidental.

It’s a theme that recurs throughout the record, and, indeed, that defines the Four Tet canon: mesmeric, melody-laden music, with varying degrees of difficulty. There is Love in You should be a fine introductory course.”

I once met Kieran Hebden after sneaking backstage at a gig. Here’s me and Four Tet smiling wildly in 2007:

Some audio for you (Please go and buy the album though!)

Burial & Four Tet – Moth

Angel Echoes (BBC session) by Four Tet


Har Mar Superstar

I used to listen to this crazy guy when I was younger. He popped into my mind whilst in the shower this morning, and I find out that he’s on a UK tour NOW, in Bristol in a few days. How strange is that!

This Har Mar persona is something I haven’t seen before. He tries to be so sexy, and he’s completely not. It’s incredible. I like how passionate he is. Wikipedia says: “Har Mar Superstar is a character who bears several physical and behavioral similarities to porn starRon Jeremy; he is chubby, he often performs his shows nearly nude, and appears obsessed with his own sexual prowess.”  His music is apparently an ‘unmistakeable brand of libidinous disco funk’

He’s playing at the Thekla on 1st December. To go or not to go?

I still quite like his song ‘Power Lunch’ featuring Beth Ditto! Youtube video? Go on. It’s awful!


Kasai Masai

Last night was the Knees Up at Hamilton House, Stokes Croft, they were raising money towards a community arts center. It was fantastic, so nice to be out in the City with nice company and lots of friendly people. Amazing music by Kasai Masai (Listen to ‘Yumbiana’)

“You will feel the music oozing through your veins, pumping a rhythmic African beat through your body. Hence, the audience find themselves on their feet, moving toward the dance floor on an uncontrollable shaking of their hips.

That happened, it’s true! I don’t remember the last time that i was in an atmospheric location stuffed with people all dancing together and loving the music. It was ace!