Sunday, September 30, 2007

Autumn Selection 2007

Radio Rebelde's Sounds of Now and Not Quite Now-Autumn 07

1.Jose James-Equinox (2007 10” test)
2.Longineu Parsons-Take The High Road (P’taah Remix) (1999 12”, Ubiquity Recordings)
3.P’taah-The Crossing (Evacuation of Form) (Opaque Remix) (Ubiquity Recordings)
4.Roy Ayers-We Live In Brooklyn, Baby (Sasso Re-edit) (2007 12” Promo, Kat)
5.Soil & “Pimp” Sessions-Sahara (2007 12”, Brownswood Records)
6.Carlos Garnett-Banks Of The Nile (1974 'Black Love', Muse Records)
7.Palmer Brown & Blaze-More Than Gold (The Shelter Mix) (1999 Nitegrooves)
8.Osunlade-Stomp (Elements Beyond Part One) (2007 12” Strictly Rhythm)
9.Jon Lucien-The War Song (1973 'Rashida', RCA Records)
10.Papete-Promessa De Pescador (1997 'Berimbau E Percussao Music And Rythms Of Brazil', Universal Sound/Soul Jazz)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another Era Ends

After the irony of my previous post I report once more of another piece of lost London musical heritage, the forces of greed have yet again removed something of value for their own profit. Last night was the final night of music at The Spitz, after 11 years of diverse programming and presenting some of the best non-mainstream musicians and singers another great venue has closed its doors for the final time. One last night of great music in front of a spirited audience hosted by Miles Danso and The Spitz Jazz Collective saw a loose and ever changing relay of performances full of celebration and freedom with Bukky Leo, Terry Edwards, Gwyneth Herbert, Shri, Beth Orton and Seb Rochford amongst many others all taking their turn to entertain an audience taking one last chance to say goodbye to The Spitz.
Hopefully the team at the Spitz will find another suitable venue to start the next chapter but in the meantime the Spitz Jazz Collective will be hosting regular Sunday afternoon sessions at Rich Mix from the 7th October until Christmas. After the loss of The Spitz and the original Vortex, we look now for the spirit of vibrant live music towards the new Vortex in its new Dalston home, the recently threatened Bulls Head and the lovely Green Note on Camden’s Parkway. Let’s get out there and support our cities small music venues.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The End Of An Era

It is not quite the end but a definite full stop before the start of the next chapter in the life of 'Chaser'. The magazine that defined the new jazz dance era and chronicled all musical things eclectic, leftfield and outernational is available in all the usual outlets for the last time. Starting in times pre-Hoxton trendy and pre-digital its spirit will live on in the music it championed and, fingers crossed, we will see its reincarnation in various guises in times to come.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"The Artworld Shuffle"

The regular art viewer will be only too aware of the “artworld”TM clichés, this is not only with the work that we see around galleries but also the way we can chart the subcultures and hierarchies within “artworld”. Through manner, behaviour, fashion and occasionally in the presentation of the art work we are made aware of how a gallery sees itself, its perception of its place in “artworld”. At the opening of Yutaka Sone’s “Secret for Snow Leopard” at Parasol Unit I very quickly understand that tonight the art will be subordinate to my fellow visitors all playing the game I like to call “the artworld shuffle”. The shuffle begins as I am welcomed at the door by the two borderguard like doormen, ‘Charm’ greets me warmly as his companion ‘Suspicion’ looks me up and down for signs of evidence that perhaps entry to the gallery should be denied, then I am cleared for entry to “artworld” and waved on. I stroll in and my eyes catch the inquisitive stare of the bag check girls, I wear my clumsiness heavier than normal but without any loose fitting clothing and without my usual scummy courier bag slung on shoulder I look a safe bet for not destroying any art for the night and am allowed full entrance to the gathering. Others are entering the gallery and are confused as they are confronted by someone actually looking at Sone’s work, they are doubly confused as I appear to not be carrying the obligatory glass of white wine. Hmm, yes wine that’s it, lets stroll past the sugary looking white marble sculptures of snowy mountainscapes with ski resorts and past the smaller facsimile of Hong Kong island. Then past the lumpy, snowy, marble sugary, pine trees with ski lifts coasting between this idealised winter scene, all reality and harsh coldness whittled into a soft, rounded, warm fantasy of winter tourism. Beyond the Disneyfied, folk art tableau of carved elephants in wood and glass and the dripping, plastified, seaweed, sponge, dried flower, acrylic and metal, Hansel and Gretel transported to the tropicsoid ‘Green Jungle’. Aha, I see a slinking, leggy, purveyor of alcohol, teetering off on her heels, tray in hand, round that huge model island with painted snow capped mountain rising out of the fake blue sea, s**t where did she go, I lost sight of her behind one of those real plants imbedded in the structure of the sculpted island, past the fake waterfall and pine tree, beyond the ferns and succulents and out of view past that crown of palm leaves. But there at the back of the gallery is the team of tall, glamourous, immaculately dressed, black suited and dressy “artworld” foot soldiers, they aim suspicious stares down at me but my sights are set, dodging the armies of cool indifference and the occasional sniper engaged in a sneer mission, I sneak my way past the middle aged couple Mr and Mrs Euro Artworld and claim my glass, many thanks, danke, merci, cheers.Now upstairs to the upper gallery, I look at the crystal sculptures, the oversized fantasy interpretations of snowflakes, the icy, hard edges rounded and softened into a gloopy, watery drop of sweetened glass, like oversized sculpted boiled sweets. Another glamourous, gallery staff member watches me with her chisel jawed colleague, these are the troop leaders of the “artworld” army, they direct the action, schmoozing the visitors with descriptions of the art work and anecdotes of the artist. They continue to watch me, with a look that gives the impression of a surveillance team eyeing the activities of a guerrilla cell, I finish my drink and take a final look at Sone’s childlike, bright coloured but empty feeling paintings of animals, trees and the natural world. My mission is over I descend the stairs, exit the gallery with its clean, sanitised views of reality, I say my goodbyes to ‘Charm’ and ‘Suspicion’ leave “artworld” and back to the grubby reality of City Road.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Territorial Space

I pace around the perimeter of Nathaniel Rackowe’s installation ‘Luminous Territories’ at the Bischoff/Weiss gallery, the light breaks down into darkness, a few moments pass and then the light flickers back into life this time in a different configuration than before. Now lit once more from inside the skeleton of the installation is revealed as a scaffold frame encased in gridded, transparent, plastic sheets. The light changes once more as the fluorescent tube lighting switches to another configuration, the lights are set along the internal frame of the structure at intervals determined by the construction, horizontal and vertical. Again the light switches to another configuration revealing shadows and contrasts from within which allows one to determine clearly the framed structure and the placing and overlapping of the plastic skin.

I continue my deliberate pacing around the large structure, almost filling the upper gallery a small path is created between the installation and the boundary of the gallery wall, the focus of my attention is forcibly drawn to the structure and once accustomed to the intermittent, changing patterns of shade and light the structure appears to glow with warmth whilst structurally appearing closed and uninviting. It is a harsh and overbearing presence and I am reminded of the multiple sites of development and change scattered around the city, those huge sites that take spaces of our city, clad them in temporary skins to hide the activities within and then redefine them. The change of our shared city geography that is removed, redefined and returned to us complete and left for us to assimilate back into the geography of our own personal map of the city without negotiation whether positive or negative.

Rackowe’s impressive construction brings this condition into the gallery with great skill and thought, there is a lightness of touch with such strong materials. The structure creates its own dialogue, it announces its presence, creates its own space and claims it for itself. An inanimate structure given life by an ever changing heartbeat of light. Just as those other sites around our city create a dialogue with us from the start to finish of their development and then through their unveiling and presence on our altered cityscape so Rackowe’s installation does so too. ‘Luminous Territories’ claims it’s space within the Bischoff/Weiss gallery, in this incarnation it will be temporary and the change within the structure will be the beat and hum of changing light, the gallery will claim this space back untouched but until its removal this luminous territory is unique, distinct and untouchable.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Peer Esteem

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Watch These Spaces

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sitting Under A Tree In Paradise

Our city can seem a sprawling, unknowable, alienating place. We find comfort in the familiar, we build a personal urban psychology where the geography of the city is scattered with places where we can feel safe and secure in a vast anonymous built environment. Those places where some of us find our comfort and safety are the open spaces, unclaimed by the built environment we claim for ourselves small patches of wild, untamed or depopulated green space. In the manner of landscape design most of these seemingly empty and wild green spaces are in fact managed areas, we assume they contain only a minor level of human touch but in most cases they are heavily worked and created to give the impression of an open and untouched oasis in an otherwise fast moving and oppressive city. It is those spaces that Justin Coombes explores and creates his photographic record of what he titles the ‘urban pastoral’, in these commons, gardens, yards, allotments and quiet street corners edged with trees we can stop, relax and reconnect with the natural world and tune ourselves back into the rhythms of the seasons.
In Coombes photographs of the spaces we can reflect on the tension created by city life, in these places where we find a slower pace and point of relaxation there is also a tension, we must sometimes share our place of calm. In his series of photographs we feel this tension, in a park bounded by tower blocks the night descends on a beautiful tree, the final moments of daylight penetrate gaps between the branches and leaves but underneath a small group of potentially menacing individuals lurk. In another park partially obscured by scrubby grass sits a person relaxing but visible in the distance through the fence is a neglected light industrial building and in a suburban back garden the light from a window breaks from the house and casts a tree with its light, it is a comforting sight but outside the frame of light it is surrounded by darkness. Next to a back yard a seemingly empty street sees the movements of people through the windows of their house but outside and unseen a fox tears at a rubbish bag and scatters the scavenged material across the pavement. These scenes by Coombes are reminiscent of the work of Gregory Crewdson, but unlike Crewdson’s seemingly fictional depictions Coombes photographic constructions recreate something that feels very honest and real and just as unsettling.Coombes four images of allotments are devoid of people and do not seem to be as staged as the other images on view, any staging has been created by the allotment users and Coombes has arrived after the event to document this human action in a landscape now emptied. Once more these views show the city moving into night, in one scene the City of London can be seen in the distance, the powerful presence of the towers of the cities financial institutions balanced by the rudimentary and impromptu structures created on the allotments, scavenged sheets of plastic and wire are cobbled together for fencing and plastic bottles cut in half are used as cheap cloches for the plants. We see a self sufficient and adaptable culture, discarded materials are re-appropriated for further use, barbed wire and sheds made from scrappy panels of wood and in the grass are scattered pieces of unused materials ready to be used once more when the owner returns. In the dark of the allotments the light from streets in the distance seep in to the scene, this is the city reaffirming its presence in the calm of the open spaces its light does not saturate but slowly mutters its presence into the quiet.

Saturday, September 01, 2007