Tag Archives: gasper noe

BOOKS & THEIR COVERS

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As a kid I remember paying a couple of quid extra to buy a comic book with a big hologram on the cover on the assumption that I could bag it up and retire when I was ancient and in my late twenties. Half a year later, the whole comic book collector scene imploded. I wish the same would happen with sports footwear, but that’s a whole different topic of discussion. 22 years later, I’m still lured in by a fancy magazine cover — I bought a digital cover issue of Esquire in 2008 that doesn’t seem to work, and for a second, I thought I’d seen the future, but I’d just seen an excellent gimmick. I’ve been waiting to see something similarly ambitious, and AnOther Magazine’s grand plan for a special edition of the latest issue looks fun — seeing as we’re always speculating over digital’s dominion over paper, this project puts an analogue format inside a special cover that’s an HD video of Rihanna filmed by Inez and Vinoodh (who just directed her FourFiveSeconds video), but also happens to contain the a selection of the very best Alexander McQueen show music, which plays when you plug-in speakers or headphones. I’m not sure if it the whole package is prescient or a well-designed in-joke at the expense of everyone writing print’s obituary, but I’m as drawn to it as I was when I spotted those Valiant chrome covers back in the day. And just like those comics, it comes with a markup — it’s 125 quid (which, in fairness, is newspaper priced compared to some issues of Visionaire). I want a copy though, solely because it’s how I imagined magazines to look in 2015, back when the notion of a smart phone or tablet seemed like an impossibility. I’m interested to see who’s going to step up and outdo this one — holographic cover stars on some “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi” type steez is the only way forward, or maybe an editor’s letter that hi-fives you for picking up the publication?

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On the more non-moving, no-audio front, Marfa Journal has been very good so far, and issue #3 — which launched this evening at colette — looks great, with Gosha shooting Supreme, Jonathan Anderson and a hero of mine, Gaspar Noé taking up one of the covers. Multiple covers are usually an unnecessary stress in a newsagent, but Marfa Journal does a good choice of including at least one personal role model in the mix thus far, which makes the choice easy.

RAP NOSTALGIA, SHOES, JEANS & SERIAL KILLERS

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Do you know what’s hypocritical? Berating rap nostalgia and then losing my mind over a box set of a well documented hip-hop release from 1994. But considering I change my mind on most subjects at least thrice daily, consider whatever’s on here a screengrab of my psyche at that moment in time rather than any opinion with longevity. CNN just got excited about Nasir Jones’ output, I personally haven’t fucked with much of his work post-‘Illmatic’, bar guest spots, a couple of songs per album (‘You’re Da Man’ on ‘Stillmatic’ samples ‘Sugar Man’ by Rodriguez — the subject of the excellent ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ documentary), ‘The Lost Tapes’, that Mike Tyson bio track, and the newest LP. I attribute my own reverence to the running time — ‘Illmatic’ isn’t long enough to let my frayed attention span wane and that I purchased it alongside that bland Fugees tape when it first dropped, meaning it shone even brighter by comparison.

Get On Down‘s Akinyele set might have been canned (sample clearance hell), but their work on the classics amplifies the joy of gawping at sleevenotes in a digital era. The wooden case, audiophile CD, repressed and remastered double vinyl, hardback book, replica press release, poster and press shots, plus the reproduction of the earlier Nas logo sticker are all geek manna, but they’re as far removed from that launch priced Sony cassette with the distorted bass as it gets. There’s a handful of hip-hop albums that deserve the Springsteen-esque bombast, but when I can psychologically separate myself from the kind of rap fan-damentalists who leave “cool story bro” baiting essays beneath blog entries, this album remains largely (‘One Time 4 Your Mind’ still sounds inessential) unfuckwithable. Thank you Get On Down and Mr. Frank the Butcher for the hookup on this.

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I’m hearing good things about the ‘Maniac’ remake and despite my love of Jay Chattaway’s score for the original, the mysterious Rob’s soundtrack for the redux is pretty effective. Before that film’s sweaty sadism wrecks your day, how about ruining your Sunday by watching the legendary Austrian serial killer flick, ‘Angst’ from 1983, with the innovative camera work (mentioned here before) that influenced Gasper Noé in a major way. Somebody’s kindly upped Gerald Kargl’s hard-to-find masterpiece onto YouTube. If you can tolerate things like this, you’ll love it and if it upsets you, it’s fucking meant to — it’s a kinetic but hyper real exploration of a serial killer’s antics in bleak surroundings. It kind of goes with the territory.



It’s tradeshow season and I’m anticipating a mass of prints on racks. Previews of Engineered Garments spring/summer offerings hinted at them executing that aesthetic better than most and the Nepenthes Osaka’s site’s images of the Anchor Baker Jacket, Paisley Ghurka Shorts and that insane oversized blow up of the more restrained floral print on another Lafayette Shirt from this season are all way more interesting than much of what I’ve seen elsewhere. These and the Hawaiian Print Microfiber Ground Jacket are all fun Ridicule is nothing to be scared of, but I bet I get too shook to get properly floral. Those that can will make that giant pattern look incredible while the rest of us resort to our drab wardrobe staples. More Engineered eccentricity. Just think of paisley as a form of camo — albeit, late 1980 indie club camo.

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What happened to the ‘Blue Gold’ denim documentary that did the blog rounds back in 2009? While we wait, ‘Warp and Weft: a Snapshot of Raw Denim in the United States’ is finished and out there with a Kickstarter cash boost (thank you Selectism for the heads-up). 70 minutes of denim fanatics talking proved pretty absorbing — Superfuture culture is prominent throughout, and the appearance by their denim Jedi, RingRing, with his face blurred, the interviews at Selfedge, the DIY jean making footage (via Roy Slaper) and the visit to the Levi’s archive (I once worked on a LVC project and had to get in touch with the archive who didn’t think some late 1980s Levi’s selvedge designs existed) are all highlights. The infamous Levi’s legal blitz of 2007 which changed the repro market is mentioned, as is the occasionally overlooked but pioneering Warehouse brand. The RED camerawork’s nice, but the sound doesn’t match that clarity, but it’s a minor gripe. If you missed the launch, you can still support it over here. This is the subject’s surface scratched — a sequel set in Japan is needed. A UK edition with footage of Robert Elms’ near lynching for goading Northerners over jeans after the December 1984 end of Levi’s selvedge production as the opener would be amazing.

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I would love to thank the person who sent me this scan of a page from what I believe was a 1986 issue of ‘Runner’s World’ with the entire Steve Cram Nike collection (including the legendary Destiny — for kids who were too cool and monied to fuck with the Bongo), but I lost the original email to email or comment and I’ll amend this. This collection flopped at the time, but the uncommercial colours of the time look great in 2013. Bourne Sports in Stoke-On-Trent didn’t need a website — they just slashed prices and an order form. I wish I could use some kind of time traveling Diners or Access card and buy the lot. The Cram Range is very, very underrated. I know we’ve discussed it here before, but this is a clearer look at the scale of the line.

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MISERY, AUSTRALIAN & AUSTRIAN STYLE (PLUS JORDANS & OTHER STUFF)



My entire childhood was eroded by occasional exposure to Australian cinema like ‘Long Weekend’ and ‘Patrick,’ but even beyond those intentional attempts to chill the viewer, even TV shows like ‘The Sullivans’ every weekday lunchtime would bring me down with that curiously Antipode breed of budget, overcast televisual misery, despite the country’s oft-glorious weather. The UK and Canada can create grim films, but Australia seemed to master it. Even when they’re not trying to bring me down, their film and television output has a drabness that’s tough to beat.

So when they’re trying to make something deliberately depressing, they deliver. Having just finished watching ‘Snowtown,’ based on the squalid mid-late 1990’s case of inter-community serial slaughter by a group led by John Bunting, I’ve not seen such a sobering depiction of psychosis in many years, and I’ve seen pretty much every downbeat, brutal movie ever. Australia triumphs in the matey psycho, who’ll cook you breakfast, ask how you’re feeling, then pressure you into slaying a household pet. Every minute of ‘Snowtown’ is sheer doom, where everybody’s a potential deviant, but some are willing to deviate beyond all comprehension. Daniel Henshall’s turn as John is a perfect performance, with no theatrical twitches and stares — just a conscious evil and unnerving charisma that amasses accomplices. Nobody explains why he does what he does (something that even the equally bleak ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ offered the viewer), and the musical cues crank up the troubling atmosphere.

The prolonged strangulation scene is still embedded in my psyche, yet for all the monstrous behaviour and miserable shack-like cluster of outer-Adelaide residences that make up the film’s backdrop, the cinematography’s beautiful, giving the inhumanity on display an eloquence of its own. As a carefully crafted character study, it’s notable that Bunting still remains an enigma – offering no answers channels the essence of the case. The best killer films aren’t about carefully laid traps, ‘CSI’ style apprehension and transparent motive. They simply remain queasily ambiguous. ‘Snowtown’ is a solid accompaniment to 1998’s profile of murderous behaviour and alpha males, ‘The Boys,’ another Australian film based on a significant true crime (the John Travers gang and the Anita Cobby case) that’s still a cause of outrage. I recommend ‘The Boys’ for a feel bad viewing session that pre-empts incarceration with classic Australian prison films like ‘Ghosts of the Civil Dead,’ ‘Everynight…Everynight’ and ‘Stir.’ Just make sure that you’ve got the ‘Seinfeld’ box set on deck to restore your sanity afterwards.

If those films aren’t enough to erode your sanity, 1983’s ‘Angst’ is the greatest portrayal of murderous insanity ever made. 1979’s ‘Vengeance is Mine’ is a strong portrayal of a remorseless maniac, Japan-style, but Gerald Kargl’s Austrian vision is mind-boggling yet, due to distribution issues, often unseen. You’ll get no fuel to unleash the ‘LOL’s or smiley faces on social media in Kargl’s film, but what you get is a film that’s two decades ahead of its time from a technical standpoint. The antithesis of documentary style filming, ‘Angst’ is a dizzying box of tricks, soundtracked by Tangerine Dream’s Klaus Schulze in a synthesised style that makes it doubly unsettling. Based on the Werner Kniesek case (and from accounts, it seems fairly faithful), it’s about the pure pleasure of killing, and no ‘Saw’ or straight to DVD ‘Hostel’ sequel can maintain that sense of terror. Erwin Leder’s eyes alone beat any special effect, but that sweaty intensity and primal but inept killing techniques, twinned with the innovative, nightmarish set pieces, make it a lost classic.

It’s odd that Kargl’s IMDB profile ends with this film, but director of photography, co-writer and editor Zbigniew Rybczynski went on to pioneer HD techniques. If you’re a Gasper Noé fan, ‘Angst’s hyperactive camera and use of sonics will help you understand how his style was developed — this is one of his personal favourites. While there’s barely any dialogue to accompany the plot, the killer’s narration needs subtitles, and sadly, Barrel Entertainment, who promised a DVD for half a decade, went bankrupt a year or so ago. Not a pleasant experience, but a necessary one for fans of cinema. Just don’t come crying to me with tales of subsequent trauma. ‘Snowtown,’ ‘The Boys’ and ‘Angst’ — a perfect trinity of murderous misery.



On a lighter, very different, note, I’ve been trying to hunt the mysterious Boyz II Men Jordan XI and tux award show moment, but I can’t find it. Was it a gig? Why is there no video footage? Maybe it’s an apocryphal thing, but I’m certain that I saw a shot once. What I did find in my hunt was a picture of the Boyz in matching white suits and 2000 white/chrome Jordan IVs at a BET bash in May of that year. It’s hard to get hyped on any celebrity wearing retro Jordans (though the internet says differently), but I say that the cutoff is the stray black/cement IIIs on the cover of ‘The Blueprint’ in 2001.

The UK is killing it at the moment. Most football related attempts to be down crumble because, unless you’re a visiting rapper, there’s not much that’s cool about wearing a football shirt and beyond all the fancy stuff, Umbro’s never been a cool brand — it’s a utilitarian one that was affordable without fear of a playground beat down (unless you wore Umbro trainers, then you deserved what you got). But the hard-wearing twill of the drill top was the budget wear of choice in and outside of my school. I’m glad that team Palace have acknowledged that in their Umbro and Palace collaboration that includes a trill looking drill top that brings back that appeal. I like the idea of a Trill Top.

On a Palace affiliated note, Slam City Skates releases the ‘City of Rats’ DVD next week and you need it in your life, because, unlike the days of skate VHS bare-bones, there’s an abundance of extras too. It’s still mind-boggling that this is the first ever full-length Slam City skate video, but it’s okay, because it only took them 25 years to get it sorted. Big.

Graffiti magazines are a different breed nowadays compared to the things I’d overspend on at Tower Records or the ‘zines I’d send an SAE off for only to get nothing in return (maybe they thought I was “the man” or maybe they were just lazy), but truly iconic publications have been few and far between. That’s because graf kids make the ‘Maximum Rocknroll’ readership sound level-headed by comparison, and one man’s masterpiece is another twenty people’s “sellout shit.” The internet was pretty much made for the art form, with internet fame being as fleeting as moving trains, and ‘Crack & Shine’ and ‘Also Known As’ gave destruction a certain gloss that set a new precedent. I’m looking forward to seeing the paper spinoff of Hurtyoubad, ‘Hurtyoubad Journal’ which has been in development for a while promising, “A graffiti publication with no graffiti.” This will be the cause of much anonymous commenting and hipster allegations, but will be an excellent read. And seeing as it’s coming via Topsafe, it should look pretty too.

The Diggers With Gratitude team are holding it down for that peculiarly British breed of rap nerdery (and there’s plenty of crossover between our love of skate and rap, with more experts per person in those topics than many other nations) with their issues of lost tracks by the kind of characters you may have briefly checked for in their day but promptly forgotten. For the DWG team, that enthusiasm never died. To paraphrase Ice-T from ‘Colors’ — it just multiplied. Now they’ve gone and put out Latee of the Flavor Unit’s unreleased 1992/3 recordings on the ‘Who Rips the Sound?’ EP. But now they’ve all sold out, so you’re going to have to hope for a second volume of their reissue work compiled on a CD at some point in the near future.

And if that mix of plugging, serial killer films, skate stuff and Boyz II Men wasn’t an odd enough mix for you, here’s an interview I did for my buddies at Sneakersnstuff about Stockholm and Baltimore’s sports footwear scenes.

And shouts to ‘i-D’ magazine, Kate Moss and Alisdair McLennan for this:

RAP GOES ARTHOUSE & OTHER BULLSHIT

So you’ve all worked out that Hype Williams copied ‘Enter the Void’ for the Kanye West ‘All of the Lights’ video? You get the slow clap…the slow, slow, slow clap. Why? Because most of the critics should buy the film rather than furiously upping YouTube links. Mr. Gasper Noé would get paid that way. Not to defend what’s clearly a copy, but with an apathetic shrug, all I can say is, that’s hip-hop for you.

Nobody got their panties in a bunch over Kanye using ‘Akira’ for ‘Stronger’…nobody was up in arms over a trillion ‘Scarface’ and ‘Casino’ bites…it is what it is. I’m more depressed that so many people popping shots hadn’t heard of the film in the first place — it’s the kind of film Blu-ray was built for and if more people are aware of it as a result…cool. I’ve posted here before about the BUF (who are doing the effects for this year’s ‘Thor’ film too) special effects reel when it went online, and the finished article justifies the wait.

What’s the problem?

Sure, rappers seem to do pretense badly…but we’re being assailed with pseudo-pretension from all sides at the moment. Kanye never seems too sure of the smarter moves like the Will Oldham ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ video and that short film of his was willfully and brainlessly esoteric to such needless, self-indulgent heights that it made me want to cut myself…yet I’m glad he does it. I can even tolerate the Disney on ice strings and Viva Pasta approach to opera. Why? Because most rap visuals are regressive nonsense. I haven’t forgotten that ‘Ye’s seemed oblivious to France’s creative under/overground when he threw a hissy fit at Jérémie Rozan and So Me back in 2006. But I’m glad that led to some collaborative work. At least it’s not that bullshit Wale video for the track sampling ‘D.A.N.C.E’ — that was a weak So Me imitation.

Most other rappers trying to get highbrow, fail because they don’t seem to have the team that Kanye’s got on their side….the best progenitors of fly abstraction in hip-hop (Sean Price, Ghostface, Action Bronson and company) aren’t trying to bend the rulebook…their brains are just wired differently — and if you tried to deconstruct their rhymes in front of you, they might hit you.

Now Tyler’s made like Nick Cage in ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ and chowed on a cockroach, expect a wave of rappers who started as faux-gully street dudes, then got tatted up to the neck and wore backpacks these last couple of years making a shift into being bugged-out dudes chatting about necrophilia…it’ll be just like 1997 again, except the rappers won’t all be wacky, self-conscious honkies talking about how crazy they are…prepare for a tsunami of quasi-craziness in a quest to get signed.

I’m just glad that Hype Williams has moved on from the shitty CGI in the Busta and Janet promo. That was doo. What does this bode for the future? A French Montana video homaging Fassbinder’s ‘Chinese Roulette’? Jodorowsky directing a Gunplay WSHH installment in Mexico? Someone taking Lars Von Trier on tour to document the ensuing debauchery? Seeing as Thomas Bangalter did some sound effects for ‘Enter the Void’ there’s some cohesion somewhere down the line. Could a future Noé-inspired piece depict a drunken Consequence smashing a man’s face in with a fire extinguisher after mistaking him for Pusha-T? Perhaps a squalid ‘I Stand Alone’ homage, featuring the broke-ass supporting cast from ‘The College Dropout’?

The closest rap seemed to get to foreign film homage lately was Jay-Z’s godawful record with Mr. Hudson which sampled Alphaville, meaning some kind of tenuous Godard affiliation. Most rappers are unlikely to talk foreign flicks, lest someone calls them gay. The Sandman ‘Anchor’ video actually did a good job of paying tribute to the depraved Belgian masterpiece ‘Man Bites Dog’ in 2008, but nobody seemed to care. The album might have sucked, but that guy cut through the dope-talk monotony of Re-Up records. Rap’s biggest cinephile is actually RA the Rugged Man…anyone who read his ‘Mass Appeal’ pieces knows that, but naming a track after Werner Herzog’s lunatic masterpiece ‘Even Dwarfs Started Small’ was an incredible move.

It’s also worth noting that the use of the fonts in the Hype interpretation come off a little Superdry. They might tie into the bold fonts on the G.O.O.D. Friday artworks, but the way Gasper sends the Futura Condensed that represents his Kubrick love into a mix that includes Constructa and ITC Elan is immaculate and having Tom Kan (who, beyond some remarkable photography and motion graphics, worked on some memorable Daft Punk and AIR graphic design) on board as Typography Designer gives him the edge. I still don’t even know if Tom of BUF were even involved in the “homage” at any stage.

 

Other things on my mind today have been this picture of Miles Davis that I spotted on Miles Davis Online that links to talk of suede jackets a few weeks back…I don’t want this blog to turn into one of those stern image blogs, but Miles is always worth posting. Progressive cool until the very end. Nice watch too. I still wonder where he got that legendary ‘Milestones’ green button-down shirt from. The Andover Store? Brooks Brothers? I thought this Ralph Lauren article from fall ’08 in Ivy League style and jazz would have the solution, but it didn’t. It’s a good read regardless.

I’ve talked about the ultra-bleak and once-rare 1966 Canadian documentary ‘The Things I Cannot Change’ here a couple of times too…I only just noticed that it’s available on DVD and to stream on the site here. While it’s laden with anti-glamour, and makes the father of the family look pretty dislikable throughout, I was struck by how beautiful it all looks. Tanya Ballantyne’s film made the Bailey family a laughing stock locally, and sadly I’ve never seen the sequel, 1986’s ‘Courage to Change,’ but the fight over six dollars that leaves Kenneth Bailey looking worse for wear half an hour in is still one of my favourite onscreen scraps of all time.

Visiting the U-Dox office, big dog/HNIC Russell had a copy of the Queensbridge Park issue of Japan’s 212 Magazine lying around. Other than providing the browser with great snapshots, it really sold the Air Max 2009 to me all over again. Yellow and grey is a killer combo and I regret not picking them up. Cut through the swathe of deck shoe dickheads with totes and New Yorkers know how to rock shoes properly in the summertime.

If you’ve been waiting for Dave Carnie’s ‘boob’ book to reach the UK without an insane shipping charge, my buddies at Platform have just upped an excellent interview with Dave and are selling signed copies of the 720 page epic for £19.99. I was growing old waiting to get my hands on this one and if you don’t know, you need to get to know Carnie. Him badmouthing magazines and bigging up Celine’s writing style is more truth spoken.

EIHT IS ENOUGH

No visit to the USA is complete without bringing back some kind of preoccupation as a psychological souvenir. That was the case after a trip to Los Angeles. Obsessed with gun-toting rap from the safe distance of a provincial part of the UK, attitude was only one part of the package – those outfits were the next. Chucks, Cortez, Dickies, Pendleton, Cascades, and Carhartt. And white tees. Lots of white, pressed tees – that’s how you pull off basics with aplomb. The love of cheap workwear that runs through this blog with irritating repetitiveness isn’t the byproduct of a site informing me of the wonders of Americana or some Japanese bible of utilitarian brilliance – gangster rap made me do it. But the current boom in workwear has made picking up gear significantly easier with an explosion of stockists. It doesn’t quite match visiting a clothing store in the middle of god-knows-where browsing stiff short-sleeve shirts with monkey labels while a shopkeeper eyes you quizzically.

The main style king? MC Eiht. MC Chill was, well, cool and all, but Eiht wore the quintessential left coast uniform like no other. The only swagger to match was King Tee – especially in shotgun toting ‘Act A Fool’ mode. The cover of 1992’s ‘Music To Driveby’ looking down at the two MCs, sans Slip in presumed jack mode, with the record in your hands in the back seat, creating some kind of infinite driveby effect is one of the greats. June 1994’s issue of ‘The Source’ (alas, ‘Zino crept into that gangsta rap summit) homaged it well, with occasional collaborator Spice 1 and Scarface in the driving seat. One of the most effortless transitions from lyrical persona to screen in ‘Menace II Society’? For sure. It was good to see Supreme reproduce the cap he wore on MTV Raps a few years back. Every good west coast production feels culled from Compton’s Most Wanted – Cube and company made entire tracks from the funk and soul loops that were implemented for mere seconds on ‘Straight Checkn ‘Em’ and ‘Music To Driveby’. DJ Slip doesn’t get his dues as a pioneer. At all. Respect to Peter Dokus (who also shot Above The Law and NWA) for that art direction and photography. Team Life Sucks Die were quick to pay tribute to the 1994 solo opus ‘We Come Strapped’ album’s lettering and composition. Rightfully so – nice watch too.

Take a snippet of Gwen McRae, mix it with Isaac Hayes and throw in a denim shirt worn better than you ever could and you’ve got a classic promo…

Sadly Japan’s version of ‘Lowrider’ magazine exited recently on its 98th issue – there’s still something touching about a final issue that bids the reader farewell. It’s less jarring than a no-show, rumour then confirmation from the publisher. Fortunately help is at hand – a couple of months back, Jae Bueno recommended a new publication from the Far East – ‘Roots’ magazine. Sal Barbier and Vans Syndicate are in the content page of the debut issue too. Only in Japan, as the print industry crumbles around us, could a niche publication like that spring up, fully formed. It’s something to celebrate and support.

Seeing as I’ve been dwelling on the early ’90s, it’s time for a spot of retro offsetting. Gasper Noé’s ‘Enter the Void’ looks stunning from trailers, Thomas Bangalter is assisting sonically and it looks like a significantly less grounded affair than ‘I Stand Alone’ and ‘Irréversible’ – BUF’s computer animation work is unbelievable. Check the effects footage reel here. WARNING: The much-discussed sex scene shot of a penis during intercourse from a vagina POV is in there. Don’t sue me if you get fired.

Looks like 21st stoners/nutmeg drinkers/acid munchers just got their own ‘Altered States’ or ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ – suddenly Gasper’s Kubrick preoccupation shines through more overtly. Can’t wait for this one.