Monday, May 31, 2010

autechre: "see on see"

Autechre's Oversteps CD has quickly become one of my favorite LPs of the year so far, and they already have a new one scheduled for release this summer called "Move of Ten". Two albums from Ae in one year? Unheard of ! I can't say I was too thrilled by the sneak peak track "y7", but maybe the rest of the album will be better, or maybe not. In the meantime, some of the standout tracks on Oversteps include "see on see", which in my opinion is an instant Autechre classic, destined to be on future listener's lists some ten, twenty, thirty years from now. To quote one fan's comment about this song: "Autechre fills my heart and soul with light and darkness, day after day, month after month, year after year." Amen to that.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

saturday photo stroll in leesburg

Yesterday I took a long walk around Leesburg, VA, and took my camera along for the stroll. I haven't done something like this in a long time. Probably not since last Fall, when Kris and I went around town with our cameras in tow. Unfortunately, Kris, who works part-time at a local, major shopping establishment, was stuck there all day, dealing with the hoards of bargain-happy customers. She got home wiped out and exhausted, telling me about how much people spend without much thought about it. Crazy thing is, this kind of thing happens every time she works there. Though I did do lots of work around the apartment, I still felt kind of bad for enjoying such a peaceful, quiet day outdoors in the gorgeous weather. When I dropped Kris off and later picked her up from her workplace, I was astounded by the onslaught of cars. Normally the lot is pretty full to begin with, but this took things to a whole new level of absurdity. To me, it was quite a hellish spectacle and I felt bad my wife had to deal with it. Luckily, she's a far more happy-go-lucky person than I, and she can roll with the punches and has a lot of fun with her fellow employees, seeing the humor in just about everything. It made me wonder how people could waste a beautiful day away shopping for clothes, but then again, we live in an area where many people feel the need to keep up with the Jonses. This strange behavior has always baffled me. Buying clothes you need is one thing. I guess this is why we as a country (and increasingly the world) are in some massive, dangerous debt. If I'm coming off as a bit judgmental, I make no apologies. I don't envy these people but instead, feel pretty bad for 'em. The need to fill a void with things and more things and not everyday experiences is sad. I know I've been guilty of it on occasion. Who hasn't? Anyhow, I think many people need to stop and begin to question their values. In the meantime, these are some photos I took while on my walk yesterday. Maybe I should go to my wife's workplace where there are still sales going on amidst droves of shoppers, and take a bunch of photos to illustrate the contrast between a peaceful walk and a day of shopping. On second thought, maybe not.

* see these photos much lager, and more of them HERE

Friday, May 28, 2010

gescom: "cicada"

So I decided to post more about some of my favorite music here at Go Flying Turtle!. I know that You Tube has plenty of good tunes for folks to sample, so I'll simply be reposting some here probably on a weekly basis. Lately I've been playing early Gescom tracks on my way to and from work. This track in particular, entitled Cicada was released on the first Gescom EP in 1994. I first heard it on college radio - even taped most of it on cassette. It was one of the most beautiful, mysterious and futuristic pieces of music I've ever heard, and I had no idea who made it. Thanks to a friend, I now have it on CD. What I love about this track is it's patient evolution - the way it slowly develops. At about 4:10 Cicada breaks down some, and if you listen close, you can hear what sounds like some samples of the very insect this track is named after. The slow, pulsing bass/beat, the ethereal human voices and the synth strings are some of the elements that make this track irresistibly sublime. A good set of headphones or speakers helps when listening to Cicada. Gescom consists of Autechre members Sean Booth and Rob Brown, as well as various other contributing collaborators from the UK electronic music scene.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

mouse on mars: "twift shoeblade"

German electronic music duo Mouse On Mars have been actively cultivating their brand of rich, sometimes quirky, mostly instrumental soundscapes since the early nineties. Mouse On Mars, much like their peers - great duos like Plaid, Autechre, and Orbital, are about as important and influential as you can get. Unlike their peers however, Mouse On Mars don't shy away from their use (or some might say abuse) of more rock-centric instrumentation, especially in a live setting. I was fortunate to have seen Mouse On Mars play live a couple of times in the past decade, especially since long-time collaborator Dodo NKishi was on board. I think Mouse On Mars have always succeeded most as a trio, in a live setting, with Dodo's dynamic drumming adding a highly engaging, even entertaining element to their performances. The song performed here, "Twift Shoeblade" could be considered a M.O.M. classic, found on their excellent, prog-rock-inspired Autoditacker release. This performance captures the essence of a Mouse On Mars concert - controlled chaos from a couple (or trio) of mad sound-scientists culling extraordinary musical organisms from their machines. My favorite part of this performance is about halfway through the song, where it sounds as if it's about to fall apart completely, then falls right back into place again at around 4:05. I look forward to a new release from the band this year and hopefully an American tour.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

from the archives ("chair shadows, moma, nyc")

I had never been to NYC until July, 2006. My friend Chris, from Pittsburgh and I decided to go that summer, mainly to check out some of the well-known art museums. It was both a miserable and fun experience for me. Most of the misery came from both my full-blown bout with poison ivy and the extreme heat while visiting. With such an awful combination, I could barely hold my sanity together. Still, there was so much to see and do, and the many sights and sounds served as somewhat of a distraction. It seemed strange having to pay so much to get into the art museums when I've been spoiled by all the great free museums here in the DC area. The expensive parking and food prices were off-putting as well. Strangely enough, the things I enjoyed most about NYC were unexpected surprises such as the Virgin Megastore's superb selection of music. Also, things like reflections on buildings and shadows cast from structures both natural and manmade were in abundance. My friend, who has a good eye for design and interesting shapes and forms (but never carries a camera) kept pointing out things to me, like the content of the photo you see here. It was taken right outside the MoMA on a sunny afternoon. Taking this, and similar photos made me think how often we look at things but don't really see them. The same can go for sound as well, and I find it takes a real effort sometimes to stop, or at least slow down and get into the sights and sounds we might normally take for granted. Imagine that - modern art found outside the Museum of Modern Art. It's all about how we frame things.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

artist spotlight: esek_one

This month I interviewed Esek_one from Athens, Greece. His work embodies what I find to be true in art - a spontaneity and urgency presented without pretension. Check out more of his work at Flickr when you get a chance, and in the meantime, enjoy the feature!

1. Q: You seem to have a signature style that incorporates expressive cartoon-inspired faces and childhood art. Can you pinpoint a time or moment when you felt you developed such a style?

A: It was two years ago when I felt that doing graffiti letters couldn’t satisfy me anymore. Traditional graffiti tends to be a game for fame, doing each time the same four letters could only help you improve your technique. So what is happening with your feelings? This is the reason why I decided to go with characters. Through this I can first of all express my feelings and secondly improve my technique. So I continued from where I have been as a child, as for the technique, paying more attention to the messages I pass through my work.

2. Q: What got you doing graffiti and how would you describe the scene out your way?

A: Having an insight into this today, I believe that I have started doing graffiti because of my love for the hip hop music. Although later graffiti was for me, a means of expressing feelings and ideas. It just happened to be graffiti and painting this mean and not something else. As I have said before you can either see graffiti as a means of expression or as a means of promoting yourself. I think that it would be better for everyone to bring graffiti at his shoes leaving back the beaten track.

3. Q: Do you see the current economic climate having any visible effect on the Athens, Greece art scene at all, and if so, how?

A: Greece has always been a country whose citizens were reliant on customer relations and politicians intended only on the exhaustion and exploitation of every single financial resource for their own benefit.
Today begins a period where everyone has to make his self-criticism and contribute to the improvement of himself and his society as well. Art will have the opportunity to record this change - something which we will see over the time.

4. Q: I've always been fascinated by the origins of certain tag names? How did yours develop into Esek_one?

A: I had just chosen it because it was easy for me to draw those letters.

5. Q: Your work has a rawness and sense of honesty that is admirable and at times confrontational even. Are there any artists working in a similar vein who you find inspiring?

A: Tell you the truth I hadn’t the opportunity as a kid to learn about the history of art, especially drawing or painting. So I have started from a zero basis, following the unknown. I can not tell you about great painters or movements of art. I really admire the work of those who I see around me or those who I happen to read about and maybe subconsciously have been influenced by them.

6. Q: You've got some fantastic collaborations going on. Who were some of your favourite collaborators and why?

A: Through moly _x_ international moleskine exchange I had the opportunity to collaborate with different people from all over the world, even though none of the projects I take part in have been finished yet. My favourite collaborator until now is Vasilis Botoulas, maybe for the fact that it is so different - the way we draw. I still remember the first time we had collaborated, I have been staring at the paper which he had drawn for about two hours having no idea how I could continue it. It was too difficult for me to draw something.
Generally I like collaborations like this because you can start from a dot ending up with a whole world, having the opportunity to see this world being gradually created.

7. Q: What are some of your preferred art-making tools?

A: As for now I am using Indian ink, markers and pencils on paper and I really like them, but I would be interested in using other surfaces and techniques as well.

8. Q: What are some of your favorite haunts to visit in Athens, and if there was one place to visit out there, more than any other, where would it be?

A: In Athens there are some peaceful places which does not resemble anything of it’s city center and I think that they are worth visiting. You should also see some poor neighbourhoods for which our society is indifferent - places which you will not see in travel guides because they spoil the image of our tourism, which too often is worth more than human dignity and life.

9. Q: If you could defend graffiti to folks who might be opposed to it, what might you tell them?

A: I don’t believe that graffiti can be restricted and thus I don’t think that someone needs to defend against anyone who opposes it. I mean that you can do graffiti in your back yard if you really love it. I think of graffiti as a type of modern art which is expanding despite the difficulties that maybe crop up.

10. Q: What's in the future for the art of Esek-one?

A: I have no plans or dreams for the future. I will keep drawing as long as I can express myself through this.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

autechre: "nine"

For nearly twenty years now, the electronic music duo and Manchester, England natives Sean Booth and Rob Brown have made a career out of challenging ears and blowing minds as Autechre (AW-TEK-ER). I remember first seeing the Designers Republic-made artwork on the cover of their first CD, "Incunabula" in 1993 at the local National Record Mart. It was like nothing else around and intrigued me enough to want to find out if the sounds on disc were just as compelling as the visuals accompanying this early Warp Records release. About a year later, a friend of mine was playing Incunabula from the boombox in the graphic arts department hall of my college. I couldn't believe the sounds I was hearing - it was the kind of music I was waiting my whole life to hear. The next day I walked a couple of miles to the record store and ordered that CD and had to wait a week or so for it to arrive. You see, back then you had to work for your music, and as a result you formed an even greater bond with the tunes you loved. Soon after, I purchased Autechre's second, more somber, though no less stunning (and now classic) full-length CD, "Amber", which is where you'll hear the ambient track featured here, known simply as "Nine". The video is a fan-made feature, and one of the few out there truly suited to AE's music. Autechre have always made music that was both oddly familiar yet otherworldly, and the footage of the Apollo space mission works so well, it's literally chill-inducing to both watch and hear at the same time. I used to consider myself more of an old-school Autechre fan, finding most of their work from the past decade or so a bit too technical and headache-inducing at times. Their latest LP entitled "Oversteps" (still on Warp) however is somewhat a return to the AE sound of old, though retaining the more challenging direction they've continued to forge ahead with. There's what I would call a more "instinctual" musical approach to the sounds on Oversteps, hinted at on their previous album "Quaristice". You'll even find several beatless gems in the spirit of "Nine", which should please fans both old and new.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

from the archives ( "contemplation chair, mattress factory, pittsburgh, pa")

On Pittsburgh's Northside, there is a big old brick structure that once served as a mattress warehouse. The place was eventually converted into what is known today as The Mattress Factory - one of the world's premier installation art centers. At first glance you wouldn't know it was an art space, since most of the structure blends in well with much of the run-down architecture in the area. The Northside, and much of Pittsburgh itself seems to have gone to the dogs, however, there are diamonds in the rough, and much of it has to do with the arts, despite the 'burgh being a sports-obsessed town. One of my favorite things about the Mattress Factory is the surrounding exterior, which has an almost eerie resemblance to a post-nuclear fallout zone, after nature had begun to reclaim it's place once more. You can walk around and explore hidden spaces, and if you listen carefully you'll hear some beautiful noises emanating from a permanent sound sculpture installed in the "garden" by German sound artist Rolf Julius. In the photo above, I noticed a man who had been sitting for a long time, almost completely still, in the one chair sitting outside at the Mattress Factory. At first I thought he was a sculpture himself, then I thought it was a possible act of performance art. I don't recall ever sitting in the chair myself during my many visits to the Mattress Factory - it always seemed so fragile and kind of dirty. This didn't appear to have any effect on the man sitting quietly in the chair however, who appeared to be lost in a state of deep thought.

Monday, May 17, 2010

one year ago today

One year ago already ?!? Wow, what a year we had - so many adventures and so many more to come! I am the luckiest guy in the universe. I love you my Kris!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

hexstatic: "perfect bird"

I've always loved the highly acclaimed UK audio/video duo Hexstatic's work ever since I first witnessed their collaborations with Ninja Tune labelmates Coldcut as the Hex collective. Back in the late nineties, when MTV was still (barely) cool and played some actual music videos, I'd religiously record their weekly, half-hour late night slot dedicated to electronica known as AMP, where I first discovered Hextatic. Hexstatic have always dabbled in environmentally-themed material, and are most known for their powerfully moving track/video with Coldcut entitled Timber. Unlike "Timber", this version of "Perfect Bird" (there are a couple) isn't so much a slap in the face but rather a delightfully bizarre and humorous ode to some amazing winged beings who continue to rapidly lose their homes due to greed and corruption. Currently Hexstatic are touring in support of their new "Trailer Trax" release, which includes a track called "Gammera" - a fine, bass-heavy tribute to everyone's favorite giant flying turtle from outer space.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

from the archives ("dome at handley library, winchester, va")

For a couple of years I lived in Winchester, Virginia because the rent was so cheap. Soon gas prices began to skyrocket and the morning and evening commute got too long and congested. By then, I was ready to return back to Leesburg, where I've been ever since. During my stay in Winchester, there wasn't a whole lot going on unfortunately. One of the things that made staying out there worth it for a little while was the Handley Library, only several blocks down the street from me. The building itself is a beautiful and unique historic structure, which includes the glass dome pictured here. Usually on Sunday, around 11:30 AM I'd grab a coffee or tea and wait at the coffee shop across the street until the library opened at noon. By then, a line of people had usually formed outside the library doors and it was always nice to be greeted by the big, illuminated glass dome above the entrance walkway. The place had an amazing collection of independent films on DVD, most of which were screened at the library in their beautiful underground theater, every two weeks. I'd usually walk out of there later that afternoon with a stack of those films on DVD and return them the following Sunday. The library was always a good place to unwind after work as well, and often times I'd grab a newspaper and some magazines and leaf through those for an hour or two in the magazine room. You would occasionally find some homeless men or train jumpers hanging out in there, but more often than not, they were never a problem. For me, the library was always a place of comfort and refuge, and while I've spent time in many, the Handley will always be my favorite.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

tony white ~ "hokusai - an animated sketchbook"

I've seen this short film featured at both Drawn! and Danny Gregory's site, and I've been wanting to post it here at my blog as well. Hokusai has always been my favorite artist, and after seeing a massive retrospective of his work in DC several years ago, my respect for his art deepened even more. Above is a five minute short featuring the work of world-renowned animator Tony White, bringing Hokusai's prints and sketches to life. This could not have been an easy task, and only an artist of superb skill could pull this off. I love this film - it's peaceful, contemplative, educational and inspirational, and it's been a while since I've last seen it. For those seeking a creative boost, please take a few minutes to check this film out.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

freescha: "smurf shoe"

From Freescha's Last FM page: "Freescha is simply the recorded effort to uncover the sounds that reminds us that there are still things and places such as coast lines and hills, and moments not yet tampered by the dull excess of a music industry and it’s incessant marketing psychosis."

There's slight irony in this statement since they produced a track from Britney Spear's last LP, causing a small rumble of outrage from fans, but hey, I say if you can make some easy money by means of dabbling in vapid pop, then why not? This only ensures more excellent Freescha music will be made in the long run. This video in particular is for the California duo's "Smurf Shoe" track - one of the funkiest Freescha tracks to date. Freescha's earlier output has a slow, bittersweet, Boards of Canada-like sound, but here the group start to take a new turn with their music, only hinted at in their earlier material. There's a light-hearted yet sublime feel to both the music and the video and I'm not sure if this one was official or fan-made (looks to be professionally done, despite the goofy get-ups) . Stay tuned for a new Freescha LP to finally drop later this year on Attacknine.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

from the archives ( "pond at the leesburg animal park")

The first time I visited the animal park in Leesburg was in 2007, when I took this photo while on a hay ride. There's a big, shallow pond at the edge of the park full of big fish, as well as ducks and geese. They seem to coexist peacefully, minding their own business - something I've seen in many ponds in many places. It was interesting to see their response when the tractor, full of people along for the hay ride, would drive on by the pond and stop, so people could throw a hand full of complimentary seeds into the water. In no time, the fish would all appear, flopping over and under each other in a mass feeding frenzy. It was a surprise they could even find any food at all. Several ducks (I counted six in this photo) would also converge, not frazzled by the wild, moving mass of fish, looking for their share of food as well. I was going to attempt to make some semi-deep, pretentious analogy about the fish and human behavior, but instead I'll just say, this was really cool to witness and made for a great shot.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

shout outs

Finally it's May and something good is brewing in the air. I thought I'd feature some current creative inspiration here at Go Flying Turtle!, so check it out.

First off, my buddy Matt Dembicki just dropped the Trickster Anthology - a project he's been trying to get together for quite a while now. Here you will find some great collaborations with Native American storytellers and comic book artists who vividly bring to life Trickster tales passed down for generations. I've seen advance copies of this book and it's a beauty.

In other book-related news, my pals Eric and Dave (aka the Journal Fodder Junkies) finally have their book out and at a store near you. Entitled The Journal Junkies Workshop, this book will inspire everyone from seasoned art pros to everyday folks itching to simply get a little more creative again. Eric just sent me a copy and it's looking awesome.

Finally, a big thanks goes out to Kim at KSK Jewelry Designs , who chose my black vulture print to be featured in the Vulture Saves the World Etsy treasury. It's an honor to have the print included with so many top notch vulture-based works, and it's good to see vultures get the respect they deserve.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

sketch dump: 4/2010

Happy May! Finally, the weather is warming up some out my way. I'm trying too hard not to think about Summer Break - it's still a long way off, but the temperatures are starting to suggest otherwise. I find one of the biggest challenges is living in the moment, rather than planning ahead all the time. When I'm most "in the moment" is when I'm working on some kind of art. Kris recently asked me why I don't draw all the time like I used to (when she first met me). I should have told her it was because I got married, but I don't think she'd have found that quite as humorous as I might have. Truth is, she's very supportive and encouraging and is always pursuing something creative herself. This is why I started my new A Splotch Monster A Day blog, so that even if I didn't have much time to draw or create, at least I made some effort. If you've been following that blog, you're already familiar with some new friends featured below. Above is some work from a couple of sketchbook exchanges I belong to, as well as a tattoo design, which is one of several I've been commissioned to draw. I think this might be the last time I feature Splotch Monsters here so they don't end up taking over this blog. I think they'll be quite happy residing at their new found home from now on.