If you don't know much about Demdike Stare, who'll be returning to town for Decibel Festival 2012, Dave Segal lays it out for you here.
Earlier this year, in advance of their triple CD Tryptych, Segal described the British duo (Miles Whittaker of Suum Cuique and Sean Canty of Finders Keepers Records) as "English hauntological-post-techno illuminati," so who better to provide the musical accompaniment for 1970's La Vampire Nue from horror-kink master Jean Rollin? (Demdike made their Seattle debut at May's Psychic Circle Fest.)
Even if Whittaker rejects the term "hauntological," Demdike Stare's music isn't worlds away from the unsettling, cinematic sounds of Julian House's Focus Group or Leyland Kirby's Caretaker (and I couldn't recommend the Focus Group's collaboration with Broadcast, Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age, and the Caretaker's An Empty Bliss Beyond This World more highly). Though Kirby was originally scheduled to attend Decibel, as V/Vm, he's no longer part of the bill.
In Ozzy Osbourne: Speak of the Devil, Live from Irvine Meadows '82, we get full footage of the hour-and-fifteen-minute set. This is less than three months after guitar player Randy Rhoads famously died in a freak plane accident in Florida. He's replaced here by Night Ranger's Brad Gillis, who's no slouch himself, and he gives the requisite guitar solo to prove it. That's followed by Tommy Aldridge's impressive drum solo, for which Osbourne disappears. (He's probably just drinking some water backstage.) Throughout, Ozzy's looking somewhat middle-thick and at times a bit weary/lethargic—he and Rhoads had been good friends and collaborators—but his singing never falters from that powerful and slightly sinister bent.
The gothic stage embellishments and visual effects are gloriously early-'80s, and the A/V quality is ingloriously early-'80s. Unlike the Speak of the Devil record, in which Ozzy recorded an evening of Black Sabbath covers not long after Rhoads's death, here we get fresh Ozzy solo material (e.g. "Mr. Crowley," "Crazytrain," "Flying High Again," etc.), as well as some Sabbath staples. Overall, it's a medium-interesting snapshot of the band rallying from what could have been an insurmountable tragedy. Recommended equipment: Loud-ass entertainment system and a fully loaded bong.
by Dave Segal
on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Right-thinking people can't get enough of that early Mudhoney music. Thankfully, Mudhoney: Live in Berlin, 1988 brings over 40 minutes of footage from the Seattle band's first European tour—before even the release of Superfuzz Bigmuff and Mudhoney—and adds a bonus interview with hyper-animated frontman Mark Arm. Mudhoney: Live in Berlin, 1988 comes out Nov. 13 on !K7 Records.
Apocalypse: A Bill Callahan Tour Film (Hanly Banks, US, 2012, 60 mins.)
Instead of a conventional documentary, this concert film captures the singer/songwriter on one tour in support of one album, 2011's Apocalypse (I caught his Seattle stop at Neumos with Michael Chapman; it was great).
Of course, there's nothing particularly unusual about a concert film, except Callahan's been around long enough that some fans might welcome the opportunity to get to know him better (or to hear a few older songs).
For an artist who wants to showcase their most recent work while maintaining their privacy, however, it's the way to go. As he sings in "America!," one of his finest songs to date, "Everyone's allowed a past they don't care to mention."
Only Norwood can pull off a baby blue velveteen baseball cap
I knew I wouldn't be able to catch Fishbone at Bumbershoot—or anybody, for that matter—so I was pleased when I noticed that "the band" would be appearing at the Northwest Film Forum for a Q&A after a one-time screening of the fine and forthcoming documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone (I also knew that the guests would be founding members Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore; the full and ever-changing line-up seemed a pretty unlikely prospect).
The film is available on DVD—you can also stream it via Netflix and iTunes—and it's played Seattle at least twice, so I wasn't sure what kind of crowd would show up at 2pm on Labor Day, but I gotta say: it was a good one. Not just because the house was full, but because attendees came armed with plenty of questions.
More pictures and notes below. Plus, a very SPECIAL guest!
I had the privilege of interviewing both subject and filmmaker; I present the transcription below (it's long; make yourself comfortable). I found Rodriguez, who recently turned 70, to be quick-witted, but his answers tended to glance off my questions and skitter off topic, albeit in a charming manner.
Searching for Sugar Man opens Aug. 24 at Harvard Exit.
Rodriguez: You look like you should be in films yourself. Really, man, you got the profile. You could do a lot of roles.
The Stranger: If I could only act... Well, maybe that’s a gift, too. They said the method was not to act. Are you from Seattle?
No; Detroit. Really? My deepest condolences.
We went to the same college: Wayne State University. Were you a political science major? No; philosophy. It took me 10 years to get my four-year degree, but I got it. I wanted it. I graduated in ’81. They were phasing out the college, so I finished up my degree in Colorado. It was a special school. But my curriculum is general education. I know a lot of areas of things. Travel has expanded me, the experiences I’ve had. It’s not just education; it’s enlightenment.
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 9:54 AM
Tonight at Rendezvous, Belgian director/musician Shazzula will be premiering her film Black Mass Rising, which deals with some big issues—"Visions of the darkness, The Mystic, The Occult, The Religious, The Apocalypse"—and is divided into 22 parts, corresponding to the Major Arcana cards of the Tarot.
Composer Chris Brokaw (Codeine) and director Roddy Bogowa came to the Northwest Film Forum last Saturday to present Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis as part of the annual ByDesign series (now based in Houston, former NWFF programmer Peter Lucas put the series together).
by Josh Bis
on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 11:27 AM
After watching Shut Up And Play The Hits last Wednesday at Cinerama, which turns out to be just a really good place to see and hear a concert film, I tumbld about how it was appropriate, but too bad, that it was a one night only engagement. Chronicling LCD Soundsystem's final show at Madison Square Garden and bandleader James Murphy's groggy morning after, Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace's exceptional documentary will certainly be snapped up on DVD by fans hungry for hours of bonus footage, but I have a feeling that it might be just a little less amazing on a smaller screen with less powerful speakers surrounded by fewer fellow fans.
Luckily, however, mirroring the band's own addition of four "pre-final" shows at Terminal 5 (that let the likes of me see them in the wake of the MSG sendoff ticket vacuum), the film is getting nineteen afterglow screenings at SIFF Cinema this weekend (to let the likes of you see the film in the wake of the film's critical adoration).
The movie's already spawned its share of smartthinkpieces, recollections, reviews, and remembrances; so rather than blathering too much about the film's many charms I'll just say that everything else about it was so great—the exceptional photography, vibrant concert footage, scenes of emo James Murphy padding around his apartment and the city with an adorable french bulldog—that it survived the presence of a blathering Chuck Klosterman interview. Watching it, I found myself missing LCD Soundsystem’s balance of detached sentimentality and weary nostalgia wrapped up in dancey humanist rock, yet as sad as it is that they quit, the decision is seeming bigger, bolder, and even more correct.
Go see it! It would be kind of depressing if these additional screenings turn out to be ghost towns.
It's autumn again in Seattle, so why not watch Nicholas Triandafyllidis' documentary—shot during a 1999 Greek tour—about one of R&B's oddest characters and most idiosyncratic, powerful vocalists, Screamin' Jay Hawkins? It's not like you're going to do anything summery today anyway.
I WANT MY NAME BACK (Roger Paradiso, US, 2011, 93 mins.)
The Gang today
I Want My Name Back isn't so much the story of the Sugarhill Gang, but the story of their lawsuit against Sugar Hill Records.
In 2005, Vanity Fair published a profile of the label (Steven Daly, "Hip-Hop Happens"). Roger Paradiso follows the template of the article for the first half of the film, but moves in a different direction once identity theft enters the picture.
He starts by introducing Wonder Mike (Michael Wright) and Master Gee (Guy O'Brien) of the Sugarhill Gang. From 1979-1984, they released three platinum albums and had a 10 million-selling hit with the 15-minute "Rapper's Delight."
Then, Paradiso profiles what he terms the Con Artists: Sylvia and Joseph "Joe" Robinson Sr., the label founders, and Morris "Moe" Levy, their silent partner. By phone, Daly discusses Robinson's R&B career and Levy's mob connections. Subsequent signings would include Spoonie G, the Funky 4 Plus 1, and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (I'm not sure why he wasn't able to get Daly on camera; using a phone call in lieu of a pro recording always sounds cheap).
I’ve always been interested in the relationship between popular music and visual art, and the Northwest Film Forum is offering a number of intriguing interdisciplinary screenings and performances as part of their 11th annual ByDesign series, which runs from Friday, July 20, through Wednesday, July 25.
If I could call out one title, it would be Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis. I was hoping to make it to the press screening, but I had to work. From the description, it sounds like essential viewing for fans of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and the other musicians who've taken advantage of Thorgerson's mind-bending services. Composer Chris Brokaw, who now makes his home in Seattle, will be performing live after the screening on Saturday, July 21.
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Shut Up and Play the Hits, a film documentary by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace of LCD Soundsystem's final live performance at Madison Square Garden in 2011, shows at the Cinerama for one night only, Wed. July 18. I saw LCD Soundsystem play live three times and each show was incredible, including Coachella in 2007. (Check the YouTubes for proof.) In a live context, LCD SS were so much more powerful and mesmerizing than on their records, which are very good, so this climactic event for the defunct New York band should be a thrill to experience cinematically.
Trailer and press release after the cut. Tickets are on sale at Cinerama now.
by Dave Segal
on Mon, Jul 9, 2012 at 10:46 AM
This great album makes a cameo in A Clockwork Orange. Alex doesn't buy it, though.
Attention record nerds who like to geek out over A Clockwork Orange: Your curiosity over which records are visible—albeit ever-so-briefly—in the scene where protagonist Alex strolls through a music emporium before bedding two devotchkas in Stanley Kubrick's classic 1971 film, can be sated via this blog post by Jonathan Coulthart... from 2006—but it's probably new to you (well, it is to me, anyway). I can say that that Canned Heat album, Living the Blues, is definitely worth your time, if you have a fondness for avant-garde blues.
The Odd Future camp premiered a video/short film last night called “Sam is Dead.” It’s a Vietnam/Korean War era period piece, replete with jungle gunning, slower motion, steady cam, guerrilla tactics, and a nod to Deer Hunter and Russian roulette. Good old fashioned violence. Tyler wears a cat shirt, gets shot in the head, and references Seattle. Directed by Wolf Haley, featuring himself, Domo Genesis, and Lee Spielman of Trash Talk, Manface, Lionel "L-Boy" Boyce, Brick Stowell, and Lucas Vercetti. Original score composed by Tyler, the Creator.
Tyler says, "It's really awkward to know a bunch of kids do adore me. I'm still a kid in my heart, so I have a problem maturing."
In fields known as Shangri-La, Arcadia, the Unfair Ground, Strummerville, Block 9, and the Common, every year an unlikely attempt at utopia takes shape. Here, the festival reconnects with its radical, countercultural origins combining underground music, performance art, and some of the funniest and most provocative sights of the festival with a dark, urgent 21st century spontaneity.
Filmed at the 2011 festival, this 75 minute documentary features Michael Eavis, the creators of, and visitors to the true heart of the Glastonbury, and, fuelled by the music of tomorrow, explores the hopes, dreams, and personal utopias of those who, for one weekend in June, come together as the tribes of 21st Century Albion.
MUSIC FROM THE BIG HOUSE (Bruce McDonald, Canada, 2010, 90 mins.)
Caché Film and Television
Ray Jones (Pure Heart Messengers) singing in the prison chapel
"I've done a lot of foolish things that I really didn't mean." —Stevie Wonder, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" (performed by the Jazzmen)
In his latest documentary, Toronto iconoclast Bruce McDonald (Hardcore Logo, Pontypool) ventures to the Deep South to examine the solace music brings to a group of incarcerated men. Canadian blues musician Rita Chiarelli originally planned to perform on her own at Louisiana's Angola State Penitentiary, but when she hears what the inmates have to offer, she decides a joint venture makes more sense. As she notes in the introduction, Freddie Fender and Leadbelly are two of the many talents to emerge from Angola; the place has a musical legacy.
I've long maintained that the best thing in the world is Danny Plotnick's 1986 short film "Skate Witches":
That's why its Australian DIY descendent “Skate Bitches” won me over; it's equal parts "Skate Witches" and Ladies and Gentlemen: the Fabulous Stains. Seventeen ramshackle minutes of feminist punk (“I bet she doesn’t even know who Valerie Solanas is”) and dialogue taken straight from Smashing Pumpkins and TLC lyrics. Also, the director Samuel Shanahoy used two songs from NW bands Pony Time and RVIVR!
The Welcome to Doe Bay documentary (featuring local superstars including Sera Cahoone, the Maldives, Pickwick, Fly Moon Royalty, and more) will show tomorrowTONIGHT! at SIFF Cinema Uptown. You should go! Not only is it 1) a benefit for the Friends of Cafe Racer memorial campaign, but 2) Damien Jurado will be performing before the movie.