The first full-length feature trailer for Dean Cavanagh’s Kubricks has been released. And its producer, the former Head of Creation Records, Alan McGee is in shock.
‘I think I’m in shock, well I know I am in shock, and I think even Dean’s in shock and he’s made films before.’
Written by Dean and Josh Cavanagh, Kubricks stars Roger Evans, Joanna Pickering, Gavin Bain, Chris Madden, Matthew Blakey and Alan McGee. It deals with a director’s obsessive fantasies, and is part Kenneth Anger, J. G. Ballard and Stanley Kubrick.
‘The whole thing was like an experiment really,’ McGee explains. ‘I actually didn’t know if we could do it, because we had never made a full length feature film before. I thought we’d probably have something that we could show people, but we’ve done much better than that—we’ve made a film. It is genuinely out there, but I think it’s really good.’
Cavanagh agrees and tells me Kubricks is ‘A no budget experiment that didn’t end in disaster and taught all involved that Turner’s quote in Performance “The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness” was really on the money.’
‘I suppose the way you can look at it is, we’re Scritti Politti doing “Skank Bloc Bologna”,’ adds McGee. ‘It’s total D.I.Y. Dean had never directed. I had never produced a film or organized it, or been in one all the way through. Joanna Pickering had never had a major role in a film before. Roger Evans had never had a lead role in a film before. And I don’t think Gavin Bain had even been in a film before. So, you have all these people who are living the dream, so to speak, they’re all wanting to be in a film and wanting it to be great. But probably deep down in our hearts, we thought we’ll be lucky if we come out with something, but let’s try it anyway. And unbelievably, it’s good. It’s really good.’
Kubricks Written & Directed by Dean Cavanagh & Josh Cavanagh; Produced by Alan McGee; Director of Photography Tom Mitchell; Starring Roger Evans, Joanna Pickering, Gavin Bain, Chris Madden and Matthew Blakey.
There’s just not enough analog dance music nowadays. And I don’t mean analog as in made on real instrurments. No, if you happen to stumble across a “live” dance act these days, the chances are that more effort has gone into making it sound immaculately tight than making it irresistibly funky or attractively odd.
That’s where Golden Teacher comes in, a new all-live disco-not-disco band, as influenced by Arthur Russell’s tangental looseness as by Giorgio Moroder’s synthesized precision.
Hailing from Glasgow (seemingly the home of all things musically interesting in the UK), Golden Teacher are a super group formed around the nucleus of two other acts, Silk Cut and Ultimate Thrush, who I have blogged about here before. In what is almost a scarily perfect meeting of minds, Golden Teacher has been released on Optimo Music, label of the club night Optimo (Espacio), another act I have mentioned here.
Scary, because no other band I have heard have come closer to representing the Optimo “mentality” (if such a thing exists) of playing absolutely anything as long as it gets the people up and dancing, and for seeing genre not as a boundary but something to be pushed and experimented upon.
Golden Teacher started life as a studio collaboration between Glasgow’s noise punk trio, Ultimate Thrush and Glasgow’s all analogue house duo, Silk Cut. The results of their collaboration turned the ears of all who heard them, not least Twitch who after one listen asked if he could release the project on Optimo Music label.
Recorded live, direct to tape at Glasgow’s legendary Green Door studios with minimal overdubbing and editing, the tracks feature various associates of the band contributing vocals and additional percussion. It’s a little hard to describe Golden Teacher’s sound (always a good thing in our book) but imagine Arthur Russell’s Dinosaur L jamming with Bobby O, K Alexi Shelby, Liaisions Dangereuses, Imagination, some voodoo drummers and Sly & Robbie. It is in our opinion one of the most original and wildest records to come out of anywhere in 2013. We like to call it hypno-psych voodoo groove.
This is one for all the dance-heads who are attracted to the unusual, and all the noise-niks who just like to get down every so often.
Details on where to pick up the limited edition, silk-screened, 5-track debut 12” of Golden Teacher are here, but hurry, there are only 250 copies being pressed.
As I have posted about here recently, there’s an exhibition at Kent Fine Art in New York of the work made by artist/inventor/architect Paul Laffoley during his residence at The Boston Visionary Cell, his enigmatic one-man, one-room think tank on the second floor of a staid Boston office building (He was evicted a few years ago when the landlord discovered that he been living there).
I’ve been to The Boston Visionary Cell and it was certainly one of the most eccentric dwellings I have every experienced. Obviously the home of a genius living in modest circumstances, the tiny space had neither windows, a kitchen, bathroom or anything more, really, than a sink and yet for decades, some of the most extraordinary artwork of our time was produced there.
Aside from several works in progress, some large easels and a drafting table, there were LOTS OF BOOKS, thousands upon thousands of them on every subject under the sun in stacks that were up to 5 feet tall. It was not easy getting a small TV crew into the room without knocking anything over, although we more or less managed. During a lull in the taping, I mentioned to Paul how I’d recently been trying to find a copy of Timothy Leary’s rare book Terra II without success, and he went right over to the stacks and plucked the book from near the bottom of one with the dexterity of a kung fu master, disturbing nothing.
In the clip below, from my 2000-2001 British TV series, Disinformation, you can actually see a little bit of the tiny, crowded, one room space where Paul Laffoley not only worked, but slept, for decades, his head down at his desk ala “Howard Roarke” in The Fountainhead. The reason you don’t see even more is that we had a shot with a depth of about 4 feet, I was practically sitting on Paul’s lap for the interview.
There is an extensive online catalog of The Boston Visionary Cell exhibit in PDF format that you can download here. You can also buy posters of Paul Laffoley’s work, including the image above (“Thanaton III, not in the NYC, but will be in the London show at the Hayworth Gallery later in the year) at the Kent Fine Art website.
KENT FINE ART, 210 Eleventh Avenue, Second Floor, NYC (212) 365-9500
I’d never seen this rather splendid documentary on Kate Bush before. Made for German television in 1980, Kate Bush in Concert captures what was, and still is so irrepressible about the pioneering singer and performer, and explains the delightful (and naive) charm that caused so many young virginal fans to pine for her. Mixing live performance with an interview, in which we hear how Kate’s brothers’ taste in Prog Rock (Pink Fairies and Pink Floyd) and Folk Music that inspired her, and explaining the difference between her on-stage and off-stage persona.
‘When I perform, there’s just something that happens in me, it just takes over. It’s like suddenly feeling you’ve leapt into another structure, almost like another person, and you just do it. But when I’m not working, it’s me and I certainly wouldn’t dance around a table and sing.’
Och, well, there goes another wee fantasy of Ms Bush dancing and singing around a homely kitchen whilst baking fruit scones.
Nick Cave once said that Blixa Bargeld’s voice could mimic the sound of cats being strangled or children dying. His group is well known for the use of power tools in their music. Who better than the front man of Einstürzende Neubauten to shill for DIY retailer Hornbach, Germany’s answer to Home Depot?
Last night during the fourth (or was it the fifth?) session of the (incredible) two day Everything Is Festival at the (awesome) Cinefamily establishment here in Los Angeles, they had a “Found Footage Battle Royale.”
Now what that means is that the entrants had to submit 2 minute clips and then they’d face off against each other with the audience “applause-o-meter” deciding the winner of each round, who’d then move on to the next. The winner was a fellow named Uneven Eagle who presented clip after clip of an enigmatic Wausau, Wisconsin cable access fitness instructor named “Jim.”
Once “Jim” was unleashed, no one else stood a chance.
For over 20 years, “Jim” has hit record and videotaped himself brandishing a scimitar, his monological musings on having a “little body,” “fat farm boy hands” and the price of magazines, pork chops and apples, as well as his thoughts on the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Because “Jim” edits his show “in camera” (i.e. starts and stops the camera between scenes) he has to hold still for several seconds after each set up to avoid the camera preroll erasing the previous scene. So he just stares into the camera. The winner of the contest had a final clip of these moments all cut together. Maybe it was the free beer, but the entire audience was shrieking in hysterics. The clips below are pretty much arranged in the order that the audience saw them in.
Above: “We can pretend we’re Hercules and we’re crushing…something. Something evil.”
Turkey Day has passed, and it is officially the Christmas season. As the Pamplona of Black Friday reminded us, this means an onslaught of fevered consumerism and fetishizaton of commodities and conspicuous consumption and all that other stuff that turns our stomachs. The complement to that consumerism is the hallmark corniness. “Peace on earth and goodwill towards men” can feel so cliche and forced when contrasted with the materialism of the spectacle. It’s easy to get a little contemptuous at Christmas.
It’s all reminiscent of an essay by (self-identified socialist) George Orwell, “Why Socialists Don’t Believe in Fun.” Writing under a pen name, Orwell starts the piece with an anecdote on Lenin reading Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; Lenin was on his death bed, and dismissed the feel-good classic as full of “bourgeois sentimentality.”
Orwell goes on to bemoan the cynicism of the anti-capitalist, how we can’t seem to enjoy anything too steeped in sentimentality, and I’d say he was pretty dead-on. So in the interest of avoiding our fuddy-duddy tendencies, allow me to show you one of my favorite Christmas genres: The Afrocentric Christmas Song.
Now when I say “Afrocentric” I am not talking about something performed by a black artist, or even a Christmas song in a traditionally Afrocentric genre. I’m talking about a song that portrays Christmas as explicitly black. Let’s start with “The Be-Bop Santa Claus,” by Babs Gonzalez.
This update of T’was the Night Before Christmas starts out with the line, “T’was the black before Christmas.” Now Babs was a bebop pioneer and poet, and used to go by the name “Ricardo Gonzalez” in an attempt to get into hotels that discriminated against black people; the line is an incredibly personal artistic comment. What follows is a perfectly painted picture primed for Reaganite propaganda: suede shoes, Cadillacs, applejack—it’s fantastically subversive, unapologetic, and self-aware.
Of course, I can’t resist including what’s essentially the white hipster version of the same artistic statement.
If “The Be-Bop Santa Claus” alludes to urban poverty, James Brown’s “Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto” leaves nothing to the imagination.
“Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud” had already come out by the time this song was released, so James Brown was already a floating signifier for the Black Power Movement. There are two reasons this is such an interesting extension of his career. First, it acknowledges black poverty as a pressing matter of social justice in a seemingly incongruously celebratory song. Second, the song applies Black Power politics to something as traditional as Christmas. (If I could add a third, I’d also say that this is just a sick jam, but I digress.)
This one, though, is my absolute favorite.
Performed by Teddy Vann and his daughter, Akim, “Santa Claus is a Black Man” is arguably the most adorable product of Black Power. I mean Jesus, look at that album cover! Look at her wee little black power fist and listen to her sweet, spastic, bubbly little voice!
Politically, it’s a perfect delivery. You have a black child taking a spin on “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” with hook of, “and he’s handsome, like my Daddy, too.” Aiming something specifically at children to counteract racist depictions of blackness is particularly salient when delivered by a child.
Interestingly, towards the end, Akim says, “I want to wish everybody Happy Kwanzaa.” Kwanzaa had been introduced in 1966, and the song came out in 1973. At first, Kwanzaa founder and activist Maulana Karenga posited Kwanzaa as a way to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.” After realizing that American black people were rarely willing to give up the holiday of the oppressor, Karenga softened his position to allow Kwanzaa to be celebrated alongside Christmas—no need to be sectarian when it comes to Santa Claus!
Now, none of these songs succeed in making Christmas “cool”- just the opposite, in fact; they’re as rife with schlocky sentimentality as any Christmas song, even though they’re great songs. But what’s so bad about sentimental and schlocky, anyway? Does Wal-Mart win if we enjoy a little syrupy holiday cheer? These songs are still doing something beautiful by using a traditional event as a site of counter-hegemony. They represent the underrepresented and condemn racism and poverty, and they do it all with a little bit of mawkish sincerity and delight.
This Christmas, why not resist our inner-Lenins and wallow in a little sentimentalism? It was good enough for James Brown.
I still remember where I was when I first heard this incredible record.
It’s not THAT impressive really, as it was only around three months ago in a friend’s kitchen. It was played as part of a Siouxsie Sioux BBC Radio 6 special, wherein Siouxsie chose an hour of her favorite music from (roughly) the punk era. A lot of her choices were, surprisingly, disco tracks, and when ‘The Force’ came on all casual conversation in the kitchen stopped ,and we all simply HAD to know who sang this incredible song.
Nancy Nova is, apparently, the daughter of British TV personality and Blockbusters game show host, Bob Holness. Her real name is Carol Ann, and her sister Ros was a member of the uber-camp 80s girl group Toto Coelo (who are best known for “I Eat Cannibals”.)
“The Force” is simply epic, a gothic disco-pop song that oozes menacing, spooky appeal, the kind Alison Goldfrapp would kill for. It really does sound like it comes form another bizarro planet. Like the best horror movies, it’s scary, thrilling and exciting all at the same time. Bass heavy disco production, reminiscent of Kid Creole’s best, Broadway-inspired work, is topped off by celestial choirs that could lure passing astronauts to their rocky doom, while a spare arrangement, that hints at the then-burgeoning goth movement, makes the most of Nova’s stunning voice.
Ah yes, THAT voice. Nancy Nova is one of those singers with a startling, unique vocal style that should be irritating but actually works. At times reminiscent of Betty Boop, at others quite similar to Noosha Fox of the band Fox (previously covered on Dangerous Minds here) it really is one of a kind, and guaranteed to beguile the listener.
So impressed were we by Nancy Nova and ‘The Force’ that we based Tranarchy‘s Hallowe’en ‘Zombie Pride’ video around it, in effect creating a pop video for a song that didin’t have one, but needed it. A surrealistic tale of drag initiation (featuring stunning make-up work by star witch Grace Oni Smith) I’d like to think that we have done the song proud, and that if Nancy Nova were to see it, she would approve:
I have to admit, as a Mick living in Limeyland, I don’t fully understand what Thanksgiving is all about. All I know is that it’s as American as apple pie, as the Detroit Lions or the Pittsburgh Steelers, as right-wing Christian nut jobs or cheapo exploitation cinema starring 300lb drag queens.
So on this turkey day, come worship at the altar of the Pope of Trash. Because nothing strikes me as being more American than the work of cult auteur John Waters. What’s more fitting to watch on Thanksgiving than two of his very early, very cheap shocksploitation classics?
Sure, these films may represent a way of living and a segment of the US population that America is not too comfortable sharing with the rest of the world (see also: Honey Boo Boo Child) but it’s an integral part of America nonetheless, and worthy of as much celebration as turkeys or pancakes with bacon with maple syrup (I’ve tried that one, I wasn’t impressed.)
So here’s an early-John Waters double bill to sink your teeth into, starting with 1969’s silent Mondo Trasho, (it’s got a great soundtrack though) and followed up by 1970’s ever-so-slightly higher budget Multiple Maniacs (it’s got sound!)
Even now, over forty years on, these films have the power to shock. Mondo Trasho kicks off with a live chicken being killed (kind of of fitting for Thanksgiving?) and Multiple Maniacs climaxes with Divine being raped by a giant lobster. In between you will find all kinds of depravity, though looking back it’s funny how innocent all this depravity seemed. There’s no real rage or unhappy-ever-after bleakness on display, everyone involved always seemed to be having too much fun!
Some people would say these films are hard to watch, and you know, they might be right. That doesn’t mean the films are not worth watching. In fact, some other people would say that John Waters’ films are so good that they are all worth watching in row, back to back, non-stop for 24 hours. Who would be crazy enough to attempt such a thing?!
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.