Aural tricks and treats for October
Close To Paradise
Patrick Watson are a new band named after their frontman, Patrick Watson. Fortunately, this is the only failure of imagination exhibited on their excellent debut, Close To Paradise. Perhaps hailing from Montréal – the bottomless pit of talent that’s given us Arcade Fire and Besnard Lakes (to say nothing of the Wainwright clan) – fires the band to such heady heights. Wintery pianos that wash into lush meadows of melancholy are cheered by oompah marching bands and swirling samples and sweetened by banjo and rootsy guitar – all delivered in a Jeff Buckley falsetto. For a record to be multi-layered yet uncluttered and inspired without being derivative takes some doing; for a debut to be this assured, imaginative and beautiful is well worth a name change.
The Ghost That Carried Us Away
While Seabear is usually just 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist and Reykjavik resident Sindri Már Sigfússon making twinkly alt-folk in his small studio, he’s corralled the great and good of Icelandic pop (staff from Sigur Rós, Múm, Benni Hemm Hemm) for this, his debut. Being Icelandic, of course, The Ghost That Carried Us Away sounds a country mile away from supergroup bombast. Instead, unshowy craft rules on songs about love, life and nature. “Owl Waltz” sounds like it was recorded – horns, hoots and all – on a moonless midsummer night on a farm in Mývatn. And that’s a recommendation.
The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming
After a change of label, musical direction and a four-year silence, Club 8 have returned with form to spare. The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming is the sound of sexy melancholy; ruminating on lost love and falling leaves in the chill wind of a Swedish autumn, wearing the white slacks and fading suntan of a summer spent in the tempestuous Mediterranean of Godard’s Le Mépris, where dark-hearted blonde bombshells drive you round the bend on unreliable mopeds. But you love them just the same.
If the musical chemistry enjoyed by John Davis and Laura Burhenn was sexual, you’d tell them to get a room. As Georgie James, their Places debut is one of the most joyful, tuneful and addictive albums of the year, hewn, as it is, from some pretty solid rock and pop. The Jam’s tight guitars are teamed with delicious boy/girl beach-party harmonies under Fleetwood Mac’s sleek production sheen. Oh, is that the sound of banging upstairs?
Five more recommendations for October
- Emma Pollock — Watch the Fireworks
- The Fiery Furnaces — Widow City
- Youssou N’Dour — Rokku Mi Rokka
- St Vincent — Marry Me
- The Dragons — BFI
Prince of pop art
US artist at Guggenheim and Frieze
Richard Prince straddles the art world and the Atlantic this October. New York’s Guggenheim hosts an exhaustive retrospective of his photographs, paintings, sculptures and installations that beg, borrow and steal from art, advertising and the dirty underbelly of pop culture. His fascination with customisation is explored in his on-site installation at London’s Frieze Art Fair. Prince will present a bitchin’, gas-guzzlin’ 1970 Dodge Challenger muscle car in normally-rarefied Regent’s Park. The Frieze machine will feature a 660bhp engine, 16-inch tyres and an orange paint job, but will “drive like an Audi”, assures Prince. There will be an edition of three, all for sale.
The best autumn leafing
Asides from being a talisman for unlistenable but inventive rock and an unlikely archaeologist, Julian Cope is an exceptionally good music writer. His new book Japrocksampler dives right into Japan’s musical deep end to unearth beatniks, bravehearts and plane hijackers with ideas, guitars and dark glasses.
The Draining Lake
The Draining Lake is Arnaldur Indridason’s latest and greatest Icelandic murder mystery. Despite the fact that Reykjavik has a smaller population than the Glastonbury festival, Indridason’s glum but brilliant detective Erlendur makes heavy enough weather of a washed-up skeleton to ensure a timely page-turner about the brewing war for the top of the world. Sounds like Monocle’s cover story.
Of Walking In Ice
Free Association is a fledgling New York publisher that believes in beautifully bound books and a back-to-basics approach. (So basic, in fact, that it’s only published one thing). That its inaugural title is Werner Herzog’s Of Walking In Ice speaks volumes. In late November of 1974 the filmmaker and firebrand took a compass, packed a duffel bag and tied his stoutest walking boots to hike from his Munich home through an endless blizzard to visit his dying friend, the writer Lotte Eisner, lying in pain in Paris. Of Walking In Ice is an exhaustive diary of an exhausting trip and of desperation, revelation, snowflakes and blisters.
Gemma Solana & Antonio Boneu
From the classic to the contemporary via the cult, the camp and the chilling, great movies have always relied on animators, typographers and graphic designers to create title sequences that set the scene. This stunning coffee-table tome waxes lyrical, technical and poetical on the old masters (Saul Bass, Maurice Binder) and the modern (Kyle Cooper, the Fuel agency) while wondering where the hell Star Wars and James Bond would be without their iconic openings.
Fresh and wild
Book designer on the leading edge
For 20 years, book designer Lorraine Wild has helped define the visual culture of Los Angeles. Her clients (almost exclusively museums, artists and architects) come to her Green Dragon office because she and her team regard a book’s design as an extension of the work. Wild likens her practice to a Savile Row tailor’s “in that each suit is made to measure in the most extreme way”. Wild works with a varied palette.
The cover for Mike Kelley’s 600-page book accompanying his “Day Is Done” installation is dark and slick; while the cover for the post-minimalist artist Richard Tuttle’s monograph (inspired by conversations with the artist) features an embossed close up of a wire sculpture on a white background.
Two books about the visual artist Wallace Berman – Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle and Wallace Berman: Photographs – were collaborations with the author and curator Kristine McKenna (with whom she is also busily preparing a history of LA’s Ferus Gallery for the spring).
Along with the catalogues for the LA Museum Of Contemporary Art’s blockbuster exhibitions Ecstasy and WACK!, Wild also produced the accompanying book for the gallery’s upcoming show by Japanese Pop Artist Takashi Murakami. Although Murakami himself designed the flowery initial caps that open each essay.
Wild has also moved in to the world of art publishing as a co-founder of Greybull Press. Highlights include a book of female portraits by Robert Crumb and a volume of Dennis Hopper’s photography, among others. Ultimately Wild says her aim is to make the experience of reading live up to its potential. “When you actually turn to the page as a medium,” she says, “you’ve got this opportunity to do something really special.”