Tag Archives: Video

➤ Thanks to Neil McCormick for the only Bowie Blackstar review we need to read

Blackstar, album, David Bowie, jazz, pop music, video,Johan Renck , reviews,

Late-life melancholy with jazzy modulations: Bowie in messianic mode in the video for the album’s title track Blackstar

➢ With an album as rich and strange as Blackstar, Bowie is well and truly back from beyond, reports Neil McCormick, Daily Telegraph music critic, 18 December 2015:

For his 27th studio album, has Bowie gone jazz? On first listens to Blackstar, released on 8 January, Bowie’s 69th birthday, it certainly sounds like rock’s oldest futurist has dusted down his saxophone. They are tooting, parping, wailing and gusting all over the place, occupying rhythmic, atmospheric and lead parts, with guitars and keyboards intermingling in a weave of supporting roles.

Donny McCaslin, David Bowie, jazz, Lazarus, Blackstar

Donny McCaslin: Bowie’s new-found friend

The saxophone was Bowie’s first instrument, which he started learning in his pre-teens inspired by a bohemian, jazz-loving elder half-brother, Terry Burns. Bowie once said that, aged 14, he couldn’t decide if he wanted “to be a rock’n’roll singer or John Coltrane”. Even in his rise to rock fame, Bowie remained a creature of the jazz age, at least in the sense of the boundary-crashing freedom that characterises his work.

A new single, Lazarus, released today, may kick off in the vague realm of contemporary music, with spectral guitar and stuttering rhythms calling to mind the young British trio the xx, but it is not long before those saxophones are sighing and the beat is fragmenting. Just about holding it together are the familiar tones of Bowie’s teeth-gritted, tight-chested whisper of a vocal, proclaiming it is This way or no way / You know I’ll be free / Just like that bluebird / Now ain’t that just like me? Sure sounds like jazz to me. . .

What Bowie has created with this hardcore jazz crew, though, is not something any jazz fan would recognise and is all the better for it. At its best, free jazz is amongst the most technically advanced and audacious music ever heard but it can be uncompromisingly difficult to listen to for the non-aficionado. The improvisational elements that make it so gladiatorial and hypnotic live can make it over complex and inaccessible on record. Bowie’s intriguing experiment has been to take this wild, abstract form and try to turn it into songs. Blackstar is an album on which words and melody gradually rise from a sonic swamp to sink their hooks in. It is probably as close as free jazz has ever got to pop. . . / Read the full review at Telegraph online

◼ IN AN UNNERVING SIMULATION OF BOWIE’S VOICE, the star of Bowie’s new musical Lazarus, Michael C. Hall, sings its title track for the CBS Late Show (below) the day it is released as a single. The maestro himself is watching the show at home in his armchair. How meta-modern is that?!

➢ Bowie fulfills his jazz dream – Listen to an NPR Music interview with the two main characters who accompany Bowie on this new adventure in music – his longtime friend and producer Tony Visconti and his new-found friend/saxophonist and band leader Donny McCaslin.

➢ Nov 23, more background revelations in Rolling Stone – “We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar,” says producer Tony Visconti. “The goal was to avoid rock & roll”

➢ PLUS: The Blackstar album reviewed track by track by Neil McCormick

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➤ Lovey-dovey Shia LaBeouf says: Ring me today and touch my soul

LaBeouf Rönkkö Turner, performance, art, Liverpool, FACT gallery, streaming, telephone, #touchmysoul

LaBeouf, Rönkkö and Turner taking your calls: Click on this pic to open the live stream at touchmysoul.net in a new window

◼ SHIA LABEOUF INVITES YOU TO RING HIM AND TO #TOUCHMYSOUL – the art collective LaBeouf, Rönkkö and Turner are standing by, waiting for your calls as part of a new project at Liverpool’s FACT gallery, 11am–6pm GMT from Dec 10–13. Telephone +44 (0)151 808 0771. Or view the live stream. Or visit the gallery in person.

➢ LaBeouf’s artworks have been dismissed as stunts but the Hollywood star and his collective tell The Guardian why they’re in Britain today taking calls from the public:

LaBeouf Rönkkö Turner, performance, art, Liverpool, FACT gallery, streaming, telephone, #touchmysoul

Shia on the line: “Can you touch my soul?”

Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, it’s safe to say, don’t quite have the same growly charisma as Shia LaBeouf, a world-famous Hollywood actor turned performance artist. Indeed, they look as if they’ve won a competition to hang out with him. But the unlikely trio are adamant that they are an artistic collective, each on an equal footing. Turner wags a metaphorical finger at journalists who have failed to understand this.

“If it’s a positive article, it’s a work by the art collective,” he says. “If it’s negative, it’s by ‘actor Shia LaBeouf’.” He frowns. “It’s very peculiar to write about a work without saying who it’s by.”

But aren’t they like a band, where people are only interested in the singer? “Well,” says Turner, “you don’t say, ‘John Lennon has released his album.’ It’s the Beatles. I’m not comparing us to the Beatles, by the way.”

Since the beginning of 2014 – when LaBeouf heralded his new career by attending the premiere of Nymphomaniac with a paper bag over his head, scrawled with the words “I am not famous any more” – the three have dreamed up projects that have involved LaBeouf interacting directly with the public. “Why does a goat jump?” asks LaBeouf. “There’s an animalistic urge to express love that I can’t express in film”. . . / Continued at Guardian Online

Read transcripts of the live stream:

#touchmysoul
❏ Luke Turner tells us what we’re seeing beneath the live video stream: “It’s the three of us typing the fragments of conversation together as there’s only one phone line, so we’re all on it together. Colours just separate the ideas/threads of thought or conversation.”

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➢ For four days from 10 Dec 2015 #TOUCHMYSOUL is being streamed live from FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), 88 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ, as part of the group exhibition Follow, open 11 Dec 2015–21 Feb 2016 (admission free)

UPDATE 15 DECEMBER:

➢ At Dazed Digital: After four days of taking calls, Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner reveal exactly what and who connected with them

❏ Except that the performers didn’t reveal any such thing. It was an impossible and ambiguous invitation – “Can you touch my soul?” – since some people insist there’s no such thing as the soul, and whatever it is, a soul is intangible or immaterial and cannot be touched anyway. The OED offers three definitions: “1, The spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. 2, A person’s moral or emotional nature or sense of identity. 3, Emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance.”

So what counts as a soul being touched? The TMS artists did not specify, neither before the four-day performance, nor after. The trio gave a post-event interview to Dazed Digital in which they still did not answer these questions. They talked about phoning and listening. The words meaningful and connection and rewarding experience recurred. All are intensely subjective, so how can we or they evaluate the outcome?

Luke Turner said that they wanted to “be receptive to whatever feelings might travel down the phone lines to us over those four days”. Do feelings touch a soul?

Nastja Säde Rönkkö said: “Some people moved us with their sweet energy, laughter, singing, silence, life stories, emotions.” Does all this mean touching a soul?

Shia LaBeouf spoke mostly in blank verse, very little of which made sense: “Connection is to be lived / And the internet is not any less alive.” Hm.

A curator said: “It’s about the framework of the show: what do you think is a real experience?” Ah, good old reality. There you go.

The event seemed to conclude with LaBeouf being tattooed with the words: “You. Now. Wow.” We were shown him being touched by the tattooist’s needle.

A project that doesn’t set out its brief beforehand risks missing its mark. It’s hard for callers to know what they’re expected to do or to evaluate any subsequent touching. The result was yards of telephone transcripts which are available to read online at touchmysoul – mainly touchy-feely, hippy-dippy psycho-babble and precious little enlightenment.

Jerry Springer’s Final Thought:

“I play a crazy talk-show host, but that’s not me. It’s like an actor playing a role.”

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2015 ➤ Weird and wonderful new Bowie – his Blackstar man is set to blow our minds

David Bowie, pop music, video, Blackstar, starman, album, Johan Renck

Blackstar: Bowie being messianic and ghoulish

◼ SET ASIDE 10 MINUTES AND HOLD YOUR BREATH. David Bowie’s first video for his January album is titled in plain English Blackstar, though the album itself is titled ★ following the Princely principle of symbols. The video is ghoulish, disturbing, eerie, messianic, ritualistic, jazzy, baffling – and a little mousey. His tale of a starman’s legacy out there in a faraway galaxy is musically immaculately orchestrated and makes compelling viewing and listening. It will have the geeks mining for references in its overwrought and folksy narrative. A momentarily real-world Bowie actually thumbs his nose at us singing “You’re the flash in the pan/ I’m the great I am!” yet the overall gist seems relentlessly morbid and we’re not helped by not being able to catch crucial lyrics, which for a music video is a drawback.

Directed by the Swedish music video maestro Johan Renck and premiered last night on Palladia TV, it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. Natch.

➢ Blackstar is also pre-bookable on vinyl

David Bowie, pop music, video, Blackstar, starman, album, Johan Renck

➢ Nov 23: “We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar,” says producer Tony Visconti. “The goal was to avoid rock & roll” – Rolling Stone reveals all about ★ the album

➢ “As a taster for the forthcoming album, it works perfectly” – Alex Petridis reviews the single Blackstar in The Guardian:

The influence of latterday Scott Walker still appears to be making itself felt in the lyrics – they’re elliptical, filled with images of fear and death (“Take your passport and shoes and your sedatives”) and clearly just waiting to be unpicked by the more dedicated Bowiephile – but the music drifts episodically: from an ambient opening to vocals floating mournfully over a jerkily propulsive drum pattern and synthesisers squelching in vaguely acid houseish style to a sax solo to a beautiful, slow middle section with both a lovely melody and electronically-treated backing vocals. . .

David Bowie, pop music, video, Blackstar, starman, album, Johan Renck

YOU MIGHT ALSO HAVE LIKED THIS

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2015 ➤ Another three days inside the head of Shia LaBeouf

film, Shia LaBeouf, Rönkkö, Luke Turner , art,#allmymovies , metamodernism

Dozing off: Shia LaBeouf viewing #allmymovies this week in NYC

film, Shia LaBeouf, Rönkkö, Luke Turner , art,#allmymovies , metamodernism

Click pic to watch Shia viewing #allmymovies

◼ ZZZZZZ!!!!! You may have just missed the latest immersive real-time art project from the compelling marriage of Hollywood and bleeding-edge European art, as manifested by the LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner collaboration.

Shia LaBeouf, the very #Iamsorry Californian film star with artsy pretensions, has just spent three days in New York City inviting fans to sit with him through #allmymovies – or at least, all those he has made in the past two years with the ex-St Martin’s luminaries Nastja Säde Rönkkö (Finland) and Luke Turner (GB) under the banner of metamodernism. (In May Central Saint Martin’s graduates enjoyed the LRT treatment of this year’s highly metamodern BA degree show with a live stream of #introductions in which Shia declared “Something has happened. Beauty is at work”.)

This week’s live stream from NYC finished last night but you can still catch up with Shia’s ordeal at New Hive or take the easier route by viewing individual projects at the LRT campaign website.

film, Shia LaBeouf, Rönkkö, Luke Turner , art,#allmymovies , metamodernism

Sharing a metamodern joke recently: LaBeouf (centre) with Turner and Rönkkö

➢ Update 17 Nov – Best bits from a remarkably dull interview with the artists afterwards:

ON THE ELITISM OF THE FILM INDUSTRY

Several times in the interview, LaBeouf and his collaborators discuss the elitism of the art world. However, as LaBeouf asserts, it’s an attitude prevalent in the film industry, too. “The movie world is just as elitist. I get emails from people in the movie world, people telling me, ‘You gotta maintain mystery.’ But truth will always find its way out there. Sincerity is the new punk rock.”

WHAT THE PROJECT DID FOR HIS SENSE OF SELF-HATE

“Despite battling with those negative feelings beforehand, afterwards it was clear that the effects of the project were entirely positive. “I walked out loving myself,” he says. “Not in some grandiose, ‘You’re fucking awesome’ way, but like (I was) part of a community. You’re a part of this human thing. You’re in this human thing. I’ve always felt as though, ‘I’m just an animal in this human thing. And I’ll play the human game. I’ll wear the human mask.’ But coming out of there, it’s the first time I’ve actually felt part of this – it was very humanising for me. I walked out loving myself.”

➢ Read a handy overview of last winter’s #Iamsorry performance at Dazed online

➢ Oh, the irony: famous pop star also says #Iamsorry

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1982 ➤ Discovered: Lost footage of PX and Steve Strange in drag

◼ A SENSATIONAL DISCOVERY LOST FOR 30 YEARS … This 14-minute TV report captures the subculturally fertile period of spring 1982 when so many of London clubland’s collaborative talents were making their own creative waves, even as nightlife itself went mainstream with a bang and mega-discos started to take hold across austerity Britain.

Here leader of the Blitz Kids and club entrepreneur Steve Strange is discovered by Robert Mugnerot for TF1’s Megahertz in an excellent piece of reportage from London. It was shown in France on 23 March 1982, two weeks before Steve staged his Best of British designers fashion show at Le Palace in Paris, but shot presumably in that pause when Strange and his deejay Rusty Egan were clubless, between the end of Heroes in Baker Street’s Barracuda, Dec 1981, and the opening of Camden Palace in April 1982.

This package intersperses Visage performance clips with initial footage at the always-cool Embassy club showing many of the usual suspects, plus a good sequence inside Helen Robinson’s PX boutique, featuring Helen, the young milliner Stephen Jones and designer Melissa Caplan. It closes with model Julia Fodor in studio for a Visage video shoot, plus Steve Strange dragged up as his pal Francesca Thyssen singing The Lady is a Tramp in a duet with the French singer Ronny, both wearing Antony Price, as featured in Vogue. Cap that!

Stephen Jones , PX, fashion,Steve Strange, Swinging 80s

1982: Milliner Stephen Jones and Steve Strange show off the PX boutique to French TV. (Screengrab © TF1)


Steve Strange , video, Ronny

1982: Steve Strange dragged up singing The Lady is a Tramp with Ronny for French TV. (Screengrab © TF1)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s, my full 1982 report and videos of the Best of British show in Paris: Steve Strange takes fashion to the French

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