The reader will have to forgive this review being penned by a latecomer to theatre performance productions. While this might be my first experience of one, this review shall tend to those who frequently attend theatre performances as well as other newcomers, where my now realised affection for theatre productions has been brought out of me by Breach Theatre’s It’s True, It’s True, It’s True production.
If a single theatre production can ultimately change the preconceptions of one newcomer – is that not worth this review? A review that considers, breaks down, and intends to transport the reader into the mind of someone new to, and indeed, someone who is ready to learn more of the theatre scene? The It’s True theatre performance deserves the commentary of the frequent attendee, but also, and perhaps more importantly, the effect it has on someone who has never engaged in performances until seeing It’s True.
It’s True is about a 17th Century rape trial between Artemisia Gentileschi, the victim, and Agostino Tassi, the perpetrator, that is overlooked by a judge. Using an all-female cast of three actors; Ellice Stevens, Harriett Webb and Kathryn Bond, this drama around rape, treatment of women, and male dominance demonstrates how little has changed since Renaissance Rome and the contemporary world.
“The power they have…”
Each of the three actors interchange between the different roles of the victim, perpetrator and the judge, delivering a different acting style as soon as they switch characters, occurring at the sound of eclectic rock music. The set up is quickly understood, realising who is who at the intervals with the foldable stairs. This change in the actor’s style allows us to experience the performance in all its might; you anticipate the next change, engaging with each actor’s style, and soon after begin to have a preference for which actors you prefer the most in each role. Each performance is unique, as is obvious between different actors, but seeing the consistently changing style of the actor’s is both entertaining and inspiring.
And yet, despite the seriousness of the performance you expect it to be the tone of the performance is also comedic. The near-full nakedness of – Ellice Stevens as Artemisia Gentileschi in the middle of the play is a pinnacle moment, one that unexpectedly becomes comic when loud sexual music plays and hilariously critiques the men assuming ‘women wanted it’ when it comes to sex versus rape. Her drastic movement between sexual poses while naked and the music is timed so perfectly from the serious scene beforehand and takes us by surprise – suddenly performing the role of a seductive woman who craves sex.
“You should be a good girl, not bring shame”
While the performance is based on the few surviving transcripts, the ones that are missing are filled in with a kind of ‘behind the scenes’ of Renaissance Rome – beyond the courtroom and in the actual world as it were. The dialogue is key in these scenes: they are constructed to not only fit within the performance but they exercise an underlying meaning of men and the perpetrator at the time. ‘You should be a good girl’ or ‘she thinks she can’ brings into question the female role in society. These constructed scenes are not there to simply serve as fillings of the missing transcripts or to discuss the treatment of women; but also offer commentary in the form of fierce, but not too fierce, feminist dialogue to question and sometimes destroy female stereotypes.
It is a formula of fiction and history with truth prevailing throughout.
“I think you imagine me as a woman who still gives to you”
Later in the performance Ellice Stevens gives a monologue as Artemisia Gentileschi, one that is perhaps the most important part of the performance, entirely built upon three words: it is true, repeated continuously like the endless ringing of a church bell which only stops once it has finished its tune. It is hard hitting, intense and powerful and steps up in gradual frustration in her long exclamation that it is simply true, against the disbelief and deceit that is tried upon her. As you sit there, embracing the chilling words that are repeatedly spoken, you become infused within the performance and gripped with the emotional intensity of it. It was a perfect ending to the trial that was shadowed by male disbelief and demonstrated female empowerment in the face of it.
The performances by Harriett Webb and Kathryn Bond were also excellent and their respective roles as judge and perpetrator suited them best. Harriett Webb as a kind of macho-styled version of Agostino Tassi established the mean-natured side of Tassi, along with a humour that did not at any point disrupt the seriousness and authenticity. Kathryn Bond as Agostino Tassi presented a distinctively evil sounding figure of machismo and deceit and was a perfect portrayal of the type of man the play intends to criticise.
“My lordship, I am going to show you what a woman can do”
The ending delivers the final blow with bombastic music and the dramatic head cutting of Agostino Tassi. It is the victory for women, a result that should have been given at the time; a reality that should have been but could not have been. It might not have been the actual demise of Tassi, but this play is a feminist Renaissance and a reality that almost felt real. To hear however, that Artemisia Gentileschi went on to become a prolific painter of her generation, is still a reality we are glad to hear.
Breach Theatre’s It’s True, It’s True, It’s True production is an emotional rollercoaster ride, boiled to the brim with passion, defiance and female empowerment in the face of men that never looks to turn down the heat.
Plant Pictured Above: ‘HOOKER’S LIPS’: Psychotria eleta (Fraudster)
Plants. They surround us through all seasons. However, most of the time we walk past them while they remain silent, unnoticed, poised. They innocently mind their own business, drinking in the sun’s rays and waiting patiently to be watered. In general, although often extremely beautiful, often fascinating, and of course pleasant to have in one’s home, many plants blend into the background of human existence. Although we appreciate them, we also underestimate them. It is widely assumed that plants are a species that have the least awareness and intelligence in comparison to humans and animals. Yet some who are particularly fascinated by the species believe them to be cunning, manipulative creatures who have the ability to pose more harm to their counterparts, animals and humans than many other beings. Not only this, but they are understood to be masters of their own survival. These a-sexual creatures only have themselves to defend, and they therefore will act ruthlessly towards others to protect their own existence.
Chris Thorogood guides us through the mesmerising world of these creatures through his new book, ‘Weird Plants’. These exotic plants, not found in any contemporary home and once sheltered away from the conventional world, are brought to the spotlight. Thorogood introduces us to these plants in a way never seen before. In the book, they are cleverly labelled as caricature’s that people typically fear the most: Vampires, Killers, Jailers, Accomplices, Hitchhikers, Fraudsters and Survivors. It is through the comparison to these figures that these plants gain a personality in our eyes, and a significant one at that. We are opened up to their instincts, motives and overall treacherous nature. Thorogood paints a full picture of the plants that have often been overlooked and dismissed as simply ‘weird’ looking, and draws us into the reasons behind their strange and perhaps quite frightening appearance. This isn’t a book about pretty wallflowers who sit on the sidelines waiting to be attended to. These are rude plants. They’ve got backbone. The book opens us up to a world where plants are seen in a new light. Where we have new insight into their true colours for the first time.
Plant pictured above: HYDNORA: Hydnora africana (Vampire)
‘Vampires’ are parasitic plants which appear all over the world in climates as hot as tropical rainforests or as cold as arctic tundra. Their nickname refers to the similarity they bear to the fictional bloodsucking characters that are widely feared all over the world. Like vampires, these plants have the ability to attach themselves to other plants and extract water and nutrients for their own gain, among other terrifying yet brilliant talents.
An example of a Vampire: Dodder: Vampire lasso
The Vampire lasso is known as a strangle-weed or witch’s hair. Found in locations such as the Canary Islands, The Dodder strangles and lassoes other plants and then steals from them. Just as a vampire will perish without the blood of others, upon finding a victim of interest, this cruel plant will wrap their stems around it and penetrate the stem (where the water and nutrients are held). At the end of the season, this plant will have spread themselves several metres across other plants in piles.
Plant Pictured Above: MARSH PITCHER PLANT: Heliamphora spp (Killer)
When you hear the word ‘carnivore’ one would typically think of a meat-eating tiger or wolf. Then again, what if plants were as vicious as these predators? Carnivorous plants have been studied since the 19th century, the first observations being made by Charles Darwin. These Killers have evolved over time in environments where nutrients weren’t very accessible, for example, a swamp or mountain slope. As they have evolved, they have developed several different lures and traps in their biology to trap animal prey to satisfy their nutritional needs. Their exceptional structures are fascinating, to say the least, it is clear from these plants that they are masters of their own craft, and merciless with their intentions: to capture and kill.
An example of a Killer: Marsh Pitcher Plant: Pitcher of death
Although structurally this plant is rather simple, its intentions are anything but. This plant is known as the Pitcher of death. The leaves are foliar tubes up to 50 cm (20 inches) high, which attract insects through the nectar held inside them. The Marsh Pitcher grows in South America, in a rainy location where there is a lack of nutrients and bleak mountains. Within the plant, the hairs on the surface of the pitchers are wettable, and insects lose their footing and fall helplessly into the fluid at the base. Once inside these pitchers, these creatures are done for.
Plant Pictured Above: FLYING DUCK ORCHID: Caleana major (Fraudster)
One wouldn’t assume that a plant could have a mischievous streak. But Fraudsters do. These plants have evolved a range of mimicries to manipulate those who attempt to pollinate them. Many flowers who are insect-pollinated provide nectar in return, however many orchids like to deceive their pollinators, fooling them into thinking that a reward will be offered. The deception of Fraudsters works in different ways. For example, some use sexual deception, mimicking female insects as an attempt to seduce male bees, others like to play dead.
An example of a Fraudster: Flying Duck Orchid: Plant duck decoy
The flying duck orchid’s home is southern and eastern Australia. It strikingly resembles a duck taking off for flight. This orchid attracts male sawflies as the flower is mistaken for a female insect. The male sawfly therefore attempts to mate with them. Once the sawfly lands on the plant and then attempts to take off, it is tossed into the area of the flower where the pollen is located. The pollen attaches itself to the insect in a spot perfect for the next flower it visits.
Plant Pictured Above: DEAD HORSE ARUM: Helicodiceros muscivorus (Jailer)
Plants are not unlike Jailers in their ability to imprison unsuspecting pollinating insects. As mentioned before, smell and appearance are the main attributes plants have when attracting insects. Many plants have specifically developed a design that encloses insects as if in a prison chamber, as they look for a place to lay their eggs. This process is known as trap pollination.
An example of a Jailer: Dead Horse Arum: 24-hour pollination sentence
On a high cliff-top overlooking the Mediterranean sea, is The dead horse arum’s natural habitat. This plant drapes its 40 cm-long (16 inches) blooms over the rocks. Its scent and appearance resemble a corpse to attract the local flies that swarm around the island. Once the flies come across a hollow chamber in the plant, while looking for a spot to lay their eggs they become trapped. They aren’t released from their imprisonment for 24 hours.
Plant Pictured Above: WELWITSCHIA: Welwitschia mirabilis (Survivor)
Incredibly, plants are far superior to humans and animals in their ability to endure some of the most adverse environments in the world. Their survival tactics have evolved over time to deal with extremely dry desert conditions, with many desert plants having moist leaves and stems in which water is stored. Seeds are the main aspect of plants which makes them the most adapted survivors, as seeds can lie dormant for long periods, only germinating when the conditions are appropriate.
An example of a Survivor: Welwitschia: Millennial two-leaf wonder
This plant grows in the deserts near Namibia and Angola. This plant is an ultimate survivor, with some of its relatives believed to have lived for 1,000 years. It’s most noticeable feature, is that it has two 2-4 m long leaves which grow throughout its life, only slightly fraying over time.
As a-sexual creatures, the word ‘accomplice’ doesn’t come to mind when thinking of a plant. Most people assume they act alone, that they wouldn’t have communication with other creatures. Nevertheless, they use animals as their accomplices in a variety of schemes through which to secure their pollination. Some use ants to patrol their leaves in order to protect them, in return for a place to nest. Some have even formed mutual relationships with animals.
An example of an Accomplice: Bat Pitcher Plant: Bat bed & breakfast
This plant provides a perch for woolly bats to cling to. Amazingly, the plant’s pitchers have an opening that reflects the ultrasound calls of the bats. This allows the plant to be located under dense vegetation. The relationship between this plant and animal benefits both parties. While the bat can be assured of a safe place to roost, the plant is also nourished by the bat droppings, as this pitcher plant lacks nutrients in the forests where they grow.
Plants appear to be the most immobile of creatures. However, this is not exactly the case. In fact, plants do have the capacity to move, but they do it in their own way. Some float on water to travel across the ocean. Some even have parachutes in which they use for wind dispersal. Of course, their main mode of movement is their ability to broadcast their overpowering smells across vast distances to attract animals who will then disperse their seeds.
An example of a Hitch-hiker: Durian: Rainforest hitch-hiker
Often characterized as the king of the fruits, this plant is known for its overwhelming stench and flavour, which has been compared to rotting onions. This is the definition of a rude plant, it has even been banned in public transport and hotels. This rainforest hitch-hiker disseminates its odour over a vast distance to mammals such as orangutans and macaques. These animals act as ‘dispersal agents’ for this plant, as once they have eaten it, they are able to cover distances across the rainforest excreting the seeds and therefore continuing the plant’s existence.
As discovered, these plants, although extremely strange looking, have motives with no one would have initially expected. Due to their unusual appearance, they have been sheltered away from society. They are repulsive to some, beautiful to others and of course, weird to most. Whatever you think of them, it cannot be denied: they are a force to be reckoned with.
Plant Pictured Above: Venus Flytrap: Dionaea muscipula (Killer)
‘Weird Plants’ by Chris Thorogood is available to buy online here
The Fourth Wall: An aspect of storytelling that involves a character breaking the theoretical “wall” that exists between the actors and the audience to speak directly to the audience. It is a technique that has been used for ages as way to bring the viewers into the character’s mind and to reveal the intimate thoughts of the individual.
Originating from 17th century theatre, the term refers to the box sets that were constructed with only three actual walls to be moved in any way that the production needs, with the fourth wall being the imaginary wall separating the stage and the audience. Breaking this fourth wall, a technique utilized countless times in film, television, and theatre, can often help the audience connect directly to the character and allow the viewer to become more than just an observer. When a character seemingly stops the action to address the viewer directly, there is a psychological boost that happens as a direct response to having a “star” address you specifically.
Movies, especially, have taken this technique to the next level, manipulating it to allow their films to stand-out and become endeared in the hearts of viewers across the globe. Since the beginning of filmmaking, the fourth wall has created a number of cult classics and infamous movies that have utilized this tool to garner fame and world renown.
Here are my top 5 favorite films that break the fourth wall to talk to the audience:
This 1986 film by John Hughes brought the classic character of Ferris Bueller to the forefront of pop culture as this conniving, school-ditching, teen won the hearts of audiences around the world. Throughout the film, he often addresses the viewers, drawing them into his schemes and allowing them to see the genius behind his plans.
Directed by David Fincher in 1999, the film is narrated by by Edward Norton’s character who breaks the fourth wall constantly when he starts addressing the audience directly. Whether during a story about Brad Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden, or pointing out aspects of film like cigarette burns and sound tracks in the movie itself, the shift that the narrator takes stands as a cheeky reminder that the fourth wall can always be broken.
One of the most recently recognized movies to break the fourth wall, Martin Scorsese allows Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, to address the viewers directly and ‘pitch’ the audience his lifestyle and extravagance. His speeches are filled with his signature sales techniques and they allow the viewers to understand his motives and his greed for success.
Another infamous Scorsese film, although shot two decades earlier than The Wolf of Wall street in 1990, breaks the fourth wall as the film ends to bring closure and emphasis to a dramatic finale. Ray Liotta’s narration goes from offscreen to the courtroom as he directly addresses the camera and closes the movie with a somber nod to the end of the scene.
Closing this list with a classic, British comedy, this 1966, Lewis Gilbert film opens with Michael Caine as our galavanting, cohort, Alphie, who readily imparts his womanizing talents and sexual conquests with the viewers. His nonchalant and unassuming attitude towards his bachelor lifestyle draws the audience in as he breaks the fourth wall to reveal his suave tactics with the world.
Matt Everitt and Jim Stoten have come together to compile a Where’s-Wally-esque book about music festivals called Where’s My Welly? World’s Greatest Music Festival Challenge. The book is nothing short of creative, exploring music festivals throughout the years, the importance of the iconic welly at music festivals whilst adding in a few famous faces along the way (Madonna, John Lennon and The Weeknd, to name a few).
The cartoon infused challenge is fun, exciting and ingenious whilst being a bit of a mind-boggle; the wellies are hard to find and the famous faces aren’t too easy to spot either. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge otherwise. Don’t worry though, Matt has broken down the book and may have given us a few hints on how to spot the welly.
Why did you choose to write about the history of music festivals, inspired by ‘Where’s Wally’?
Well, I think that the idea of getting together with your fellow humans and listening music as a collective out in nature (possibly after a cider or two) is a huge life-affirming experience, and one that has the potential to bring enormous joy and reaffirm one’s belief in the essential cosmic oneness of existence. Whether the chemical toilets, mud, massive cues for the car parks and Monday morning hangovers compliment that, I’ve yet to decide. As for Where’s Wally? Everyone goes to music festivals these days, even red and white-hatted cartoon characters with a propensity towards camouflage.
The pictures are very intense and colourful (mostly), why this style?
That’s down to the brilliant Jim Stoten. We visually tried to capture the often kaleidoscopic, hyperreal nature of festivals. Festivals do have the power to transform a grubby field in reading into the site of a psychedelic supernova, so we wanted to illustrate that.
Why did you pick the festivals that you have picked? You have picked key ones through the years why these ones?
Hopefully, each of the events chose marks a turning point in the history of pop- the folky Dylan playing his first electric show, Hendrix at Woodstock, Daft Punk at Coachella- each festival changed how people thought about the potential of music. They’re all legendary for their own reasons.
Do you think festivals differ hugely over the years and depending on the location?
Bloody hell yes. Every festival is different. The line-up, the atmosphere, the age of the audience, the site itself all come into play. The history of a site like Glastonbury seeps into the mindset of everyone there, that farm has provided a home for generations of musical experiences and represents a kind of inclusive, tolerant and free society, so the crowds who attend share that. Tomorrowland is literally a fictional fairyland that you enter, where any tether to normal life is suspended. Monsters Of Rock was just a field in The Midlands made iconic by people totally uninterested in the hippie ideal, who just wanted to worship very, very loud, very, very heavy music.
Are there any tips or tricks you can give us to finding the welly?
That would be cheating. I suggest buying ten copies. That might help.
If you would like to get into festival mood and read more about music, check out our piece on SoCal Hip Hop from our latest issue here.
Selfies, our guilty pleasure. However much we tried to turn away from them, we always love when our cheeky selfie looks good.
They have become part of our generation, scroll down social media for a minute and you’ll find one, but where and whom did they come from?
Schiele and Velazquez
© Piers Allardyce 2017Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery,
Saatchi Gallery and Huawei teamed together to present you with ‘Selfie to Self-Expression’ that is held in the Saatchi Gallery till the 30th of May. This is the first exhibition to show the history of the selfie.
To answer your question, no it didn’t start anywhere near Kim Kardashian. It roots way back to the old masters, and it digs deeper than meets the eye. The exhibition celebrates that it can be a form of expression.
© Piers Allardyce 2017Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery,
Nigel Hurst, CEO Saatchi Gallery
“In many ways, the selfie represents the epitome of contemporary culture’s transition into a highly digitalised and technologically advanced age as mobile phone technology has caught up with the camera. We are thrilled to be collaborating with Huawei on From Selfie to Self-Expression. The exhibition will present a compelling insight into the history and creative potential of the selfie, while the #SaatchiSelfie competition provides a global platform for Self-Expression. Our commissioning of work by ten young British photographers completes the narrative and highlights the exciting potential of the very latest technology to encourage creativity.”
Seflies don’t just mean pictures taken on the front camera of your phone, there are many key artworks being showcased that allow you to interact. Artists that shall be displayed vary from Christopher Baker, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Juno Calypso, Tracey Emin, Van Gogh, Mohau Modisakeng, Rembrandt, Cindy Sherman, Gavin Turk and Velazquez.
Print52 x 102 cm
Edition of 5 + 2 AP
Image courtesy of the artist and
TJ Boulting Gallery
You no longer have to be embarrassed of your selfies after this, as you will see the beautiful and sublime to the mad, bad and dangerous.
The exhibition doesn’t only cater to the curious, but to those interested in technology as the emerging role of smartphones as an artistic medium of self-expression through the commissioning of ten exciting young British photographers to create new works using Huawei’s recently launched P10 dual lens smartphone co-engineered with Lecia, as part of their artistic practice. These photographs will go on display in a gallery dedicated to world-class smartphone photography.
The #SaatchiSelfie Competition
As part of the ‘From Selfie to Self-Expression’ exhibition Saatchi Gallery and Huawei joined forces to offer artists, photographers and enthusiasts around the globe a chance to show their most creative selfies internationally, and have their work exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery, as part of the competition #SaatchiSelfie.
The judging panel selected a shortlist of ten from the 14,000 selfies entered by the public. The overall winner of the #SaatchiSelfie Competition was announced at the show’s launch in London on 30th March 2017.
Dawn Woolley, #SaatchiSelfie competition winner
“I’m amazed and overwhelmed, it’s quite a shock. I’m obviously thrilled as this is very much about how we represent ourselves through photographs, and I think that’s what selfies are all about. They have a powerful potential and selfies should be used in art more. I look forward to that happening.”
To see the award winning selfie, take a trip down to Saatchi Gallery, and embrace your way of Self-Expression.
Ever think of the colour purple without thinking of Prince? Impossible. Seductive, erotic and hypnotising, Prince was the walking definition of this colour. The life and soul of Prince represents true artistry and individuality between 1958-2016. It has been said he “lived life like movie”, his head being a constant radio, forming melodies and rhythms – a procedure he used for the “one take” process of his music. He is an iconic symbol of a man who did not go by social norms, he played and performed the way he wanted to completely within his own vision. It seems as if he was obsessed with this controversial colour, making it his total theme for music and art as if he really did adopt it like his own. The newly released book by Mobeen Azhar ‘PRINCE Stories from the Purple Underground’ gives an ultimate pictorial tribute to the artist in the truest form of his life, evolution, career and death. For the first time we see key members of Prince’s ongoing legacy give a first-hand account of the artist in a light never seen before. Author of the piece Mobeen is a fanatic of Prince, even appearing on stage with the man himself, who evidently is the perfect passion and person for the making of the book.
This is a beautiful record of Princes life, it features photos all the way back to when he got his first record deal at 19 years old, to performing at Madison Square Garden decades later. The photographs are bold, powerful and heroic, helping us understand the real Prince on and off stage. It is an unbiased, yet honest portrayal of the artist, making the pages personal and sentimental to the reader. We witness how much of an inspiration he was to many, even teaching one guitarist to only love the way they play guitar and no one else, to fully embrace yourself (without being arrogant). These personal monologues prevent the Purple Underground book from being a cliche autobiography, making us hear the different voices and experiences from many who feature in the book. One story in particular comes to mind which mentions having to share a an awkward moment inside of a lift with him.
Left: Prince in Canada, December 1996. Top right: On stage during the Parade tour, 1986. Bottom right: Photoshoot at Kemps Ice Cream building. Minneapolis. 1997.
What comes to mind when imagining the colour purple? Perhaps a smoky jazz bar or even the only two flags in the world that contain this colour. Although it is seen upon as a colour of spiritual awareness in China it is somewhat a controversial tone, even to be seen as a negative, unlucky or a forbidden colour in some cultures. As a powerful member of the rainbow, it’s a colour that represents a strong level of power which is particularly used by royals or emperors. Considering it to be culturally controversial and neglected in some areas, Prince saw it as the ultimate colour of inspiration (as do some others) which could still quite be an unusual choice to make in the world today.
Demi Bailey Paul
For this months theme of LOUCHE, we have been asking several musicians what they associate with the word louche musically. At Cent, we feel that the word louche is defined as something or someone who is laid back, relaxed and a little bit sultry, we asked the band Future Generations what top ten tracks they would associate with the word louche. Future Generations will be releasing a self-titled album on the 29th of July, you can find their website here, but in the meantime here are there top ten louche tracks and why they chose them:
Washed Out – New Theory
Ernest Green, the musician/producer behind Washed Out, has serotonin flowing through his veins. You know that anesthetic concoction doctors give you before surgery? Ernest Green mixes it with his coffee in the morning. Washed Out’s name and corresponding song titles (“Amor Fati” translates to “love of one’s fate”) invoke a consistent sense of optimistic determinism, as if to say “It’s all out of our control, but it’s cool.
Anderson Paak. – The Bird
I was listening to a best music of 2015 podcast last year, and one of the featured songs was “Suede” by NxWorries, which is a collaboration between Anderson Paak. and Knxwledge. We all really fuck with Knxwledge, who does production for Kendrick Lamar, so, I showed their 2015 mixtape to Mike and he, being the world’s foremost hip-hop historian, already knew it and turned me onto other Anderson Paak. stuff. “The Bird” is from Paak.’s “Malibu,” a mellow-jazzy banger.
Widowspeak – Stoned
This one always seems to find its way onto our playlist whenever we go out on the road. Ethereal vibe. Mike saw them on a boat once – chill.
Slum Village – Untitled
J Dilla has had monumental influence on Mike and Dylan and this song represents his ability to establish neck breaking grooves with effervescent harmonic structure. The way the keys float in and out of the progression while the strings glide over top of the heavy hitting drums and bass is the very thing about Slum Village and J Dilla that has established them as legends. Roll down the windows on a hot summer day, jam this song, and watch yourself get taken from reality for 3 short minutes.
Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth
From the sleepy and reverbed whole-note guitar line to the whispering gang harmonies, “For What It’s Worth,” I’m pretty sure, started chilled, laidback music as we know it today. It’s a protest song masquerading as a friendly stoner’s lament. Disguising the message or theme of a song with a melody of opposing is something we like to do as well, and Stephen Still and co’s work is some of the earliest and effective examples of that technique in pop music.
Vampire Weekend – Hannah Hunt
This song rules. The greatest track on one of the best albums of the 21st century. The Wayne Gretzky of VW tracks.
Baio – Sister of Pearl
Speaking of Vampire Weekend, their bass player, Chris Baio, has done some seriously groovy solo work. For Sister of Pearl, Baio reached into the Vampire Weekend pantry of ingredients, pulled out plunking harpsichords and heady wordplay, threw in some breathy tenor vocals and a heavily compressed melodic bassline for personal spice and ended up with a 5 Star dish, best enjoyed poolside. There’s your extended food metaphor for you.
Active Bird Community – Pick Me Apart
Buddies from the music scene back at Fordham University. Played some basement shows with them, and now they’re killing it after college. These guys rock. Shout out, Rams and Pugsley’s Pizza.
Tame Impala – ‘Cause I’m a Man
“I think this is the chillest fucking song ever,” said Dylan, a statement immediately confirmed by the other four.
Bahamas – All the Time
It was really tough to choose the last song for this list. But, it basically came down to the task at hand: picking ten laidback summer tunes. And Bahamas’ “All the Time” is a melting popsicle of a song. It’s literally called “All the Time.” And the name of the band is Bahamas! And there are only, like ten lines in the whole song. And one of those lines is “I put work in front of my girl/there’s something wrong with that.” God. S’chill.
Bruce Springsteen – Jersey Girl; Sports – You Are the Right One; Steve Miller Band – Fly Like an Eagle; Phoenix – Love Like a Sunset Pt. 1 & 2; America – Ventura Highway; Guru – Coast Modern; Mac Demarco – No Other Heart
A new exhibition at the National Portrait gallery celebrates the work of William Eggleston. Known by many as the ‘Godfather of Colour Photography’ his work is both insightful and fun. That said, it is the film he used that steals the show.
One subject Eggleston can’t seem to escape in his work, is colour itself. The use of the early colour film Kodachrome means certain hues are slightly saturated. His fascination with the film and eye for detail create the perfect showcase for the American dream of the day. A film that intensifies red and blue lends itself incredibly well to documenting an epoch symbolised by gas stations lit with neon and omnipresent golden arches. Though Eggleston was not an early adopter of Kodachrome (the film was first developed in 1935 by Eastman Kodak Company) he was one of the earliest people to master it and to pioneer it’s popularity. The wonder this film created, combined with it’s burgeoning accessibility took colour photography into both the fine art world and the homes of normal people simultaneously. In fact, Kodachrome was so adored, in 1973 Paul Simon even wrote a song in it’s honour…
Though not the saccharine portrayal that an ad company might come up with to sell the american dream, his work certainly seems celebratory of modernity and the context of America is unmistakable. He shows us popular culture at the time, not through it’s superstars or rock n roll sensations, but once it has filtered down to the very real, and much more humble masses of the deep south. Many of his photographs taken in the mid-seventies of the general public show slightly out-dated fashions that would be more classically associated with the 1960s and even late ‘50s. This just emphasises the concept that Eggleston was shooting real people with real lives in an age when fashion and culture was not a high turn over industry founded instant gratification.
Untitled (Sumner, Mississippi, Cassidy Bayou in Background), 1971
Though what really draws people to Eggleston’s work is the beauty he finds (or creates) in the banal day-to-day existence of his subjects, it does also hold a multi-dimensional aspect if viewed through the filter of class commentary. Though this does seem rather an unconscious element and perhaps one more relevant in hindsight. Predominantly, his work is an aesthetically enthralling ode to the colourful era in which he and his subjects inhabit.
Untitled 1974 (Karen Chatham and Lesa Aldridge)
While looking at Eggleston’s work it is hard to ignore an overwhelming sense of worship to the work pre-Raphaelite brotherhood and their followers, particularly when examining the portraits he creates of the women he knows. While some are a slight doth of the cap to the era, others seem to be a tribute to actual paintings. His photograph Untitled 1974 which features Karen Chatham and the artist’s cousin, Lesa Aldridge is highly reminiscent of Wallis’ ‘Chatterton’. The electric blue folds in the material on her dress, the auburn tones in Chatham’s hair, the light source positioned in so as it implies a sort of other worldly, divinity (though significantly more divine in Wallis’ painting, Eggleston does at least position the source of the fluorescent glow in the same place). Similarly in Eggleston’s portrait of Marcia Hare taken in 1975, he floral dress, long flowing hair, open mouth and tilted, gaunt face bares a striking resemblance to the composition and palette of Millais’ ‘Ophelia’.
Untitled 1975 (Marcia Hare)
Eggleston’s visual ethos does not always fits with the code of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, though it could be said that one of their doctrines was followed by Eggleston, only in a very contemporary sense; ‘to study nature attentively, so as to know how to express them’. Though Eggleston’s nature was a very different one to the likes of Millais et al, his keen observation and ability to focus in and magnify a fleeting, human moment gives his work an unusual majesty that will no doubt lead to his work being studied by art and photography students for centuries to come.
William Eggleston Portraits will run until 23 October 2016 at London’s National Portrait Gallery.