Erland Cooper – Sule Skerry

Returning to the Orkney Islands of his childhood, Erland Cooper instinctively sought to map out the nooks and crannies of life there as organically as possible. When it came time to record ‘Sule Skerry’, the second album in a triptych sketching the region, the musician didn’t merely seek out standard field recordings and local commentary, but impulse responses – the sonic capture of a specific acoustic environment, echoes marked with as much prestige as the call.

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Some Good News About the Environment! (But Also Some Bad!)

Photo credit Pierre Crosby

On the 15th of March, 2019, children around the world walked out of school and took to the streets to march in the first global climate strike. Across the world, classrooms from Tokyo to Kampala emptied to send out the message; in Stockholm’s central square, particular attention was being paid to 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, whose activism had seen her nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize just one day prior.

The strikes received sufficient media attention to call them a success, but Thunberg knows better than anyone that placid token gestures can be more dangerous than silence. The now-famous speech she gave at Davos hit home specifically because it took aim at those polite expressions of contrition – what we might call the “thoughts and prayers” narrative – in the way we talk about climate emergency. “I don’t want you to be hopeful,” she said. “I want you to panic.”

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Channel-Surfing the Apocalypse: The Strange World Of… Daniel Higgs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The yggdrasil is the great tree of Norse mythology that connects all of the Nine Worlds, the supreme unifier between heaven and ash and everything in between. The term essentially translates as ‘Odin’s horse’, though various hair-splitting etymologies delineate its importance as either a symbol of the gallows or a dread call to Ragnarök, the succession of natural disasters and grand battles that ultimately purge the planet of humanity, the better to purify its scorched earth once more. It is part-way through a discussion of this concept with Daniel Higgs that he turns his ire to CD-ROMs.

“So you get a tool user’s manual, and then you gotta watch a movie about it before you can go use it, you know? It makes me uneasy,” he tells me down the phone from Washington, DC. To be in conversation with Higgs, the former frontman of legendary post-hardcore band Lungfish, is to be frequently drawn down such rabbit holes – only to be dragged sideways at the last moment, a fresh excavation each time. If it sounds exhausting, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s an invigorating seventy minutes.

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Mirrored Bodies: An Interview With Hans Appelqvist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we enjoy mirroring the sex, sadness or fear of the bodies we see on the screen – if we imagine ourselves in their bodies, experiencing their orgasms and heartbreak – what emotional value do we acquire from some of the more openly distressing scenes that these kind of films portray? Is it sheer curiosity at the vicarious participation in something transgressive? “Yeah, definitely,” Appelqvist says. “That’s a strong idea in the piece: that the role of art should be to provide an experimental playground where you can basically do anything, since it’s not hurting anyone. Like Visitor Q: it puts all these wrong, immoral, terrible things into this film universe, and we get a chance to explore our feelings towards them.”

At the end of Have You Ever Seen Visitor Q? little has been resolved, though Peter’s mentality appears to have shifted. The key distinction, Appelqvist suggests, is that transgressive art can be a positive, exhilarating experience when it’s done right. It doesn’t have to be an ordeal. “There are no traumas in my life that I need to work through. I don’t need therapeutic help from art in that way. So for me it’s about entertainment: let’s just put these ideas together and see what happens.” Most of all, art should remain a vehicle for pushing ideas in a way that keeps opening audience’s minds, to relocate our gaze toward the gaps of light that emerge between our fingers, still anxiously shielding our eyes from the world’s horrors. “It should be playful, that’s the whole thing. You should have fun with your body and mind, talk to people, have sex with people. Enjoy it.”

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“I always get excited by the idea of adventure”: DiS Meets Ludovico Einaudi

Photo credit: Ray Tarantino

We’ve stopped briefly on our walk through the Italian countryside, on the way to a local restaurant, because Ludovico Einaudi wants to eat some flowers. He beckons the press over and begins to speak about the qualities of this particular specimen, encouraging us to pick a few to garnish our salads and risottos later. Various members of the international press in attendance begin collecting them, stuffing a handful in pockets and the occasional one or two in their mouths. I chew on a few petals and watch as the composer sets off again, down the road to find the next adventure. Are they poisonous? Nobody asks. Today Einaudi is the pied piper of Piedmont, and we follow him wherever he takes us.

As it turns out the 63-year-old is an excellent walking companion, which is exactly what makes his new album cycle Seven Days Walking such a compelling work of art. Inspired by a succession of mountain walks taken during the darker months, the project is intended to illustrate the capricious nature of both the environment around us and our perception of it, each subject to change at any moment, however much we grasp at commonalities. If it sounds like the work of an experimental artist on the fringes of modern classical music, that may belie the fact that Ludovico Einaudi is something of a superstar – well beyond the remit of where his genre typically extends.

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Primordial Gods: DiS Meets Faith Eliott

 

In the music videos for ‘Lilith’ and ‘Loomis’, the first two singles to be taken from Faith Eliott’s debut album Impossible Bodies, a glorious and near-constant duel plays out between the sparkling and the mundane. Flashes of electric pink and lightning gold illuminate the washed-out scenes around them, and we taste both senses of the word “impossible”: not only as frustration towards something that can never be achieved, but also as something thrillingly beyond the limitations of the present. We live in our own impossible bodies, but we also yearn towards wilder ones.

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Hold On Tight, Darling: Amanda Palmer Interviewed

Photo credit: Khan & Selesnick

“I’m not gonna match you,” Amanda Palmer once sang on ‘Ampersand’, a paean to the importance of retaining your own identity, “’cause I’ll lose my voice completely.” On the 16th June 2015, the day that Donald Trump announced to the world that he would be running for US president, Palmer was already anticipating a new voice shaping the next chapter of her life. Her son would be born exactly three months later.

It wouldn’t be the last time that a major political event juxtaposed with personal events in the artist’s life; more recently, her new album ‘There Will Be No Intermission’ was recorded as the Kavanaugh trial was playing out across the world. “We were literally glued to our phones in between takes, watching this cosmic battle of the sexes play out in Washington DC,” she tells me over the phone from upstate New York. “I’ll never be able to separate those events, the way I’ll never be able to separate the arrival of my child and the arrival of Donald Trump in my life; they showed up in my life at the same time.”

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Freaky Dancing: The Fanzine That Documented The Haçienda’s Heyday

 

 

 

 

 

The glory of it all, of course, was that none of this needed to happen. “The hacienda must be built” was the mantra, a Situationist quote from Ivan Chtcheglov refashioned by Tony Wilson to lend the project an additional veneer of counter-culture chic. But the Haçienda didn’t need building. Peter Hook supposedly once ventured that New Order would have been better off if they’d given ten quid to everyone who ever came to the club and sent them on their way; by all accounts, it was a financial disaster, tentatively propped up for most of its lifespan by the band’s record sales. Not that it matters now. “Some people make money,” Wilson observed at the time. “Others make history.”

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Eurosonic Noorderslag 2019’s success stories came from unexpected sources

Photo credit: Bart Heemskerk

“Bloody foreigners,” the shopkeeper gestures towards me, before adding a wink to convey levity. As a progressive student city that prizes itself on inclusivity, it’s fair to say that Groningen’s warm hospitality is matched only by its puzzlement at the events unravelling in the UK, a series of spread-legged power stances that appear both hostile and ludicrous to the rest of the world.

Later that evening I’m sharing a cigarette with another local outside a bar, who visibly rallies himself to present the question in the way that one might ask out their high school crush: “Do you like Brexit?” I do not. I like watching European bands and drinking cheap gin at equally unsustainable rates. Thankfully I’m at Eurosonic Noorderslag, the finest new music showcase in Europe, where my remit extends to both.

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In Conversation: Calpurnia

 

“That Calpurnia led a modest double life never dawned on me. The idea that she had a separate existence outside our household was a novel one…”

As the black matriarch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Calpurnia seems light years away from the four teenage kids from Vancouver who carry her name. They’re young in a modern way, as one would hope: still goofy and wild, still piecing the world together between gym class and Fortnite. Nonetheless, just as Scout becomes fascinated with the scenes beyond her housekeeper’s gaze, the band have had to negotiate the world’s obsession with their own second lives.

After bringing their first singles together with two new tracks for a debut collection titled – what else? – ‘Scout EP’, the quartet are starting to get attention for all the right reasons. They’ve been picked up by Canadian indie label Royal Mountain, with Transgressive covering distribution across the UK and Europe. Their live shows are getting hot reviews across the board. Weezer even tweeted to say how much they loved the band’s cover of ‘Say It Ain’t So’. In other words, they’re proving to be a whole lot more than a casual side-project for their lead singer, Hollywood actor and Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard.

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