Culture - Issue 66 - Magazine | Monocle

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On record

Sounds from around the world

Whatever they’re preaching each Sunday in Missouri, if it keeps pushing up the odd record as lovely as the now Brooklynite Julianna Barwick’s Nepenthe – a layered, looped choral curio that’s as equally informed by the epic grandeur of Sigur Rós as it is down-in-the-dirt devotion – then long may it continue. Godlike.

The man who may or may not be French classical composer turned synth-fiend Georges Vert is actually more likely known as Jon Brooks, the mind behind other not-quite-right electronic projects such as The Advisory Circle. An Electric Mind combines primitive Italo-disco with sleazy 1970s synth funk and a creeping sense of dread that this may have all been a really bad idea.

The beautiful new record by Neko Case has such a long title that it would be a waste of our slim word count to reprint it here. Instead, some adjectives: composed, sharp, wry and wise; Case offers an arched eyebrow to the country rock frat-house and sensitive singer-songwriter sorority, as ever.


Tim Fishlock

Artist, designer and publisher

The hard-to-pin-down designer’s work ranges from a mysterious ear mounted on a London wall to (officially endorsed) messing with classics, such as his recent set of prints rejigging iconic Beatles cartoons as Yellow Subversion – The Artwork of Yellow Submarine. The accompanying book features an essay by ex-Simpsons showrunner, Josh Weinstein.

What do you do?
I’m a restless soul: graphic design and book covers, art such as the “What Watt” installation and publishing with my 50by70 label.

You design for technology platforms too.
Yes, we tried to fund a children’s book through crowdsourcing based on the character from our app Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon. We made the app free to encourage interest and although we had over 80,000 downloads, it made little difference with contributions. At the moment we have the problem that people want everything for free. You just wonder how artists and creative people will be able to support themselves in the future.

Do print and tech mix?
Physical things, whether books, paintings or prints, are able to touch you on an emotional level, to resonate in a way that digital just cannot. I’ve never been to an exhibition of digital art that has meant as much to me as a collection of prints by artists in St Ives in the 1950s and 1960s. There is no substitute for the physical.



Never Built Los Angeles

Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell

Chronicling over 100 of LA’s would-be architectural developments from hilltop suburbs to greening-up the park-poor metropolis, this book celebrates the creativity and optimism of those who’ve sought to redesign the city.

Graphic novel

Map of Days: Robert Hunter
Biografiktion: Ana Albero, Till Hafenbrak and Paul Paetzel

Dark-hearted eye candy from London’s premier print patrons Nobrow this month includes fellow Londoner Robert Hunter’s melancholic fantasy tale Map of Days and a self-titled collection from part-Spanish-part-German illustration trio Biografiktion. The former tells the story of a boy lost in time and the latter is a fact-free rewriting of celebrity sagas ranging from ABBA to Eddie Murphy. Both are drenched with colour, sharply observed and equally ridiculous.



Adam Thirlwell

Writers such as Javier Marías and Zadie Smith feature in this playful take on the art of translation. Stories are told and retold from English into other languages and back, leading to happy accidents to both amuse and confuse.


Strange Weather in Tokyo

Hiromi Kawakami

Hiromi Kawakami paints perfectly the lightness and delicacy of modern Tokyo, delivering a love story that breaks hearts in all the right and wrong places. But like Japan itself, reveals a whole lot of unexpected situations along the way.


The Lady From Tel Aviv

Raba’i Al-Madhoun

A winner of the English Pen award, The Lady From Tel Aviv explores the politics of family and war in Gaza. This gentle and evocative story focuses on the shared history of a reunited mother and son.

Culture cuts

Spin the globe and stick a cultural pin in it

Rio de Janeiro

Film: Brazil

The end of September sees the 15th instalment of Festival do Rio, the city’s two-week film festival, with around 400 films from over 60 nations, from 26 September to 10 October.

ART: Germany


Last year Berlin authorities finally wised up to the fact that the city’s art world has long been a calling card and the first official Berlin Art Week was launched. This year the event’s second edition includes the ABC (Art Berlin Contemporary)-curated fair and also a multi-museum focus on painting to show the Berlin art scene’s best game, from 17 to 22 September.

Festival: US


MusicFestNW, a six-day festival sees over 34,000 people fill Portland’s bars, clubs and theatres for acts ranging from the manic favela-lite dance party of Diplo to the contemplative quiet of Bonnie Prince Billy. But stop by Pioneer Courthouse Square for the odd outdoor sing-along too, from 3 to 8 September.

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