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If you take one part- black and white line engraving. Two parts Max Ernst meets Lewis Carol. Throw in the nightmarish surrealism of Jan Svankmajer and finish off with a light dusting of Victorian freak sideshow romanticism you will end up with the Illustrations of London-based artist Dan Hillier. My favorite of his mutant animal/human hybrids are the “OCTO” family. Mother, Father and Daughter. Like a tragic Victorian oceanic experiment. Amazing.
Matteah Baim has completed three studio albums: Laughing Boy (2009), Death of the Sun (2007), and Metallic Falcons’ Desert Doughnuts (2006). She has performed in conjunction with Antony and the Johnsons’ US performances of The Crying Light and their Another World Installation-Performance, Vashti Bunyan’s film release, From Here to Before, and Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit at the Shoreline Amphitheater. She has also toured with artists such as Lichens and Jana Hunter and performed at ATP U.K. Baim has created soundtracks for the films of Susanne Winterling and Pillars of Fire. She has been featured in exhibitions at MoMA, James Cohan Gallery and The Dispatch Gallery. She lives and works in New York City.
Matteah Baim with Devendra Banhart and Antony 2009
Call us fanciful if you like, but as soon as we heard Baim’s unsettlingly calm, contemplative music, we immediately thought of it as not so much quiet as lacking-in-noise. To confirm our suspicions, we called Matteah up at home in New York to discuss noise and silence, and how her music – featuring low sonic rumbles and abstract effects, her plaintive vocals and guests such as Devendra Banhart – was suggestive either of residual pain after a squall of emotion, or of impending thunder.
And now here she is, with her dark and dolorous music, which has been called many things. We wondered – plucking several descriptions out of thin air charged with electric ions – whether we should proceed by labelling it folk noir, avant-acoustica, ballad oscuro, Nico in neo-folk hell, or susurrating 21st century shadowplay? “Susurrating 21st century shadow play!?” she replied instantly. “That is incredible. Let’s go with that one.” Matteah Baim’s sound world is monumental” -Mojo.
So, to welcome in another July (how time flies) a post dedicated to “The ritualistic picnic at Wilmington”.
Every July, by hook or by crook, Lucy and I take a Sussex road trip. We speed through the countryside like a young Isadora Duncan and Sergi Yesenin to a cinematic soundtrack- usually Rachel’s or Tindersticks and a bit of Arvo Part to heighten the drama as we ‘take down’ pheasants, pedestrians and any stray children greedily clutching ice creams that may cross our path. Sometimes our trip involves a visit to Charleston House- home and country retreat of the Bloomsbury group. Sometimes a stop off at Lewes to troll around the flea markets and generally make a nuisance of ourselves. Sometimes we take a pilgrimage to Folkington Manor, the country estate of Lucy’s ancestors. Many of her family are buried in the beautiful churchyard in the village. Virginia Woolf writes in her diary about crossing the Folkington Manor land on one of her rambling walks and upon meeting Lucy’s great-grandfather, swiftly being told to “get off my land”. Sometimes we end up as far down the A27 as Hastings and St leonards and loop through the village of Jevington and onto Birling Gap. However, one thing is certain- we always take a picnic to the top of the Long man of Wilmington and gorge ourselves silly on Epoisses cheese and cherry tomatoes.
The date is set for our next rendezvous with Sussex and the South Downs…..I can’t wait!
Migration of Birds Book cover illustration by Bob Hines (1952). The Flies Cover of a 1963 edition of Les Mouches by Jean Paul Sartre. Memoirs of a Tattooist Cover illustration by Paul Rand 1958. Popular English art published in 1949 by Noel Carrington and Clarke Hutton. Noel Carrington’s book was the first to include Canal Boat Art in his book of British folk art in 1946. Carrington was the brother of Dora Carrington the artist of Bloomsbury & Lytton Strachey fame.
Colour bibles! If you are as preoccupied by lovely colours (and lovely illustrations of lovely colours) as I am, these vintage books are a must . “The new science of colour” by Beatrice Irwin published in 1916. “Colour” by George Hirst published in 1900. “Solfege de la Couleur” by Edouard Feur in 1953 and the “ABC of Colour” in 1948.
I am listening obsessively to Bill Callahan’s (Smog) brilliant new album “Apocalypse”. By far my favorite Callahan album since he dropped his Smog moniker. The albums sound reaches back to the earlier Smog releases, and for me, the best stuff he has recorded since 1997’s “Red Apple Falls” or 2000’s “Dongs of Sevotion”……if you know anything of Bill and Smog, that’s quite a statement!
An under recognised pioneer of the lo-fi revolution of the late eighties/early nineties. Bill Callahan aka Smog is an enigmatic singer/songwriter whose odd, slanted and fractured music stands alone in an orbit and path totally unique to itself. Melancholy, poignant and self obsessed, Callahan’s output offers a peep-show into an insular world of alienation and inner turmoil, his painfully intimate songs wildly reenact a scrapbook of childhood memories, failed relationships, bizarre fetishes and dashed hopes. All spoken/sung with Callahan’s velvety baritone dead pan voice, delivered with sarcasm, dark humour and a perfectly brilliant sense of observation.
“Over the course of his prolific career, Bill Callahan has wrapped himself in an almost Hamlet-like enigma. Is he really a tortured soul, destined to be plagued by violent memories, fear of death, and an overly potent imagination? Or is he just a master of disguise, a man with such a proficiency in the language of human emotion that he can draw hopes, dreams, fears, and defeats from the well of human experience, and seamlessly weave them together into a work all his own? I don’t know. But I do know that Callahan has cemented his place among America’s finest songwriters.”- Pitchfork.
Bill and then girlfreind Chan Marshall (Cat Power) 1998- possibly the coolest couple of the moment….
If you imagine going to Paris for a few hours for lunch and a spot of shopping may be a little mad, rash and impetuous, you would probably be right…. We did it anyhow.
We arrived on the Eurostar to be met by Becky at the Gard du Nord. A whirlwind trail through the Marais ensued, taking all our favorite places on route….. Shops full of nice things of course. Becky took us to an amazing little shop just dedicated to tea. A mouth-watering patisserie near to where she and Jon had a flat, with cakes and pastries looking like glazed jewels. We stopped into Merci the popular “home and lifestyle” store, beautiful building and open space, not unlike the Bluebird in the Kings Road, AND I managed to pop my head into my favorite shoe shop in Paris.
“Time for lunch” said Becky.
We ended up at Chez Prune, just by the St Martain canal. We didn’t move for the next few hours, aside from lifting fork and spoon to gutsy mouth. Very delicious it was too. Bec and I had a platter of salmon served in many different ways, the salmon tartare was really good. Jamie had a onglet steak with tarragon mash which just seemed to evaporate. We finished the lunch with ordering more dessert than we knew what to do with (how we suffered). ‘La Neige’ was the name given to the incredible plate of red and white cream and sauce. Apparently, a ‘fromage blanc’ that had been whipped to within an inch of its life to resemble snow. However, looking more like a plate of fake blood I would imagine Chez Prune could serve it for Halloween and rename it ‘gun shot wound’. Delicious again, Becky detected a hint of lime in the ‘snow’ what keen taste buds she has. Oh yes and a slab of the darkest chocolate torte, just incase we could squeeze a bit more in.