As with all the previous "Best Of" shows, the title is just a hook to get you in. These are simply some of my favorite tracks, remixes and collaborations from the last 12 months. Some of these will be on others "Best Of" lists, but there’s also a lot here that you won't see anywhere else. Here’s over two hours of 2014. * CLICK HERE TO LISTEN *
I never would have guessed that I'd get to 50 shows,.. & still be enjoying making them. This is a two & half hour special, enjoy!
I gave myself 4 full days to try & see as much of the art during the Art Basel week as possible. I'm guessing I only saw 60% of what I had wanted to see, and I was really pushing it too.
Even starting as the doors first opened to the convention center, I lasted till about 5.00pm, exhausted & burnt out, without getting round the whole thing. It's overwhelming.
Below are images of works that I found either inspiring, thought-provoking, amusing, or simply nice from the fairs & exhibitions. Possibly my fave new discovery was Mark Flood who had several new works on show at the always-incredible Rubell Family Collection. I was so excited by these that my normal shy-ness took a backseat to a girly-like excitement that allowed me to tell him how blown away I was by these. He told me he’d been making these "lace paintings” for about 15 years now.
I’ve been a fan of Daniel Arsham for a few years now but recently I’ve become almost obsessed. His "future relics" are both super groovy and a strong statement on consumerism. The show in Miami was like an excavation site, with the concrete floor of the exhibition space being dug up to reveal a landfill of the future.
I think my favorite work at Art Basel itself was this 1994 “Reclining Buddha” by multi-media legend Nam June Paik.
Below are some others I loved...
This year the only theme that seemed to emerge for Gary Pini and me was Bagels ;)
Most think of Miami Art Basel as purely a visual art extravaganza, but there’s a whole other dimension that for me is as important, and potentially exciting, as the daytime fairs--f live music events. Due to working in music for over 25 years, I’m incredibly lucky to have friends that are able to sort me for pretty much any gig I want.
On the Tuesday evening that I arrived, I tagged along with Gary "writer of the ultimate guide to the week" Pini to the opening party for Ian Schrager's new hotel, The Edition. While I’m not much of one for mega parties there was enough room outside to not feel uncomfortable. I noticed there seemed to be a live singer coming over the hotel speaker system, and the voice sounded really familiar, so I set off to try to locate the source. Blood Orange had been booked as guest performer for the event but had chosen to play stage-less. Singing & playing his guitar on the ground, only the immediate 10-20 people directly in front of him could see him. What I also love about going to most of these kind of events is that the majority of the invited beautiful guests would not know the musical artists if they sat next to them at dinner. Consequently, I got to watch Blood Orange with no more than 50 others.
Wednesday night is historically Jeffrey Deitch's very exclusive invite-only party. Previous years have included such awesome guest performers as Soulwax/2manyDJs, Santigold, and, the one that I missed because I was stuck at JFK, LCD Soundsystem! Finding out that this year the performer was going to be Miley Cyrus caused me, and most of South Beach, to have a variety of reactions. While I was happy that I had the connections to get in, I really could not care less about Miley. But then as the gossip fever pitch grew during the day I figured, "when else would I ever get to rub shoulders with a bunch of the 1%, while watching one the planet's mega celebrities?"
The show was even more bizarre and surreal than I could have imagined. Visually stunning, if not over the top, she & her band played cover versions from such diverse greats as Rick James, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, and (god forgive her, for she knows not what she’s done) Led Zeppelin. All were remarkably better than I expected, except for the Beatles songs, which were all duets with the way-too-high-for-the-microphone Wayne Coyne. While I was a little offended by some of the music, my sense was that most were offended by the absence of any Twerking.
Miley Cyrus, Super Freaking.
Thursday is when the “real” gigs started, with FKA Twigs being promoted to fans, not just Art Basel folks. I do love the music, but it's really her live stage presence that mesmerizes me. Sadly, unless you were up front, you cannot fully appreciate her hypnotic movements & dancing. I wish she would tour some traditional theaters, like the beautiful venue that The Chromatics played a couple of years ago, where all can see for stage. Nevertheless, in the 2000 person purpose-built tent with massive sound, the music was incredible. Some songs felt a little more fleshed-out than the album versions, even more so than the Webster Hall show a few months ago. Afterwards, the crew I was rolling around with that night, including Paul Weston, wanted to check out the the Kettle One event close by, as some of them had worked on the bit-mapping projections for the party. After Twigs this just felt like another flat corporate event, & while I'd sort of liked some of Twin Shadow’s album, hearing him live there did not make me want to revisit it.
FKA TWIGS : More phones than hands in the air.
(TV on the Radio)
As if that wasn’t enough, we were now heading to a completely sold-out-for-months James Blake show at the same venue as Twigs. I’ve been loving his music since he was known as a “dubstep" producer, releasing 12”’s on R&S, yet I’d never seen him live, so I was psyched. Same situation as Twigs really, sound was unbelievable, but most could not see the man, as he was sitting at the piano. Musically it was truly inspiring, reworking the ”hits" & live sampling/chopping his own vocals.(James Blake)
While back in London visiting my mom in her Abbey Road flat that she’s lived in for forty-odd years, I went on an archeological dig in my old room and unearthed more than a few treasures.
While I don’t expect many to know, or care, what any of this stuff is, I’m sure a few, like my man cultural historian Paul Gorman, will get some sort of sensory rush, as I did. They are not in chronological order at all..
First find was a mint, unplayed U.S. cassette copy of Public Enemy’s debut album. Not sure why, or how, I got this. I was one of the first UK DJ’s to be on Def Jam's promo list, but that was for vinyl.
This is a roll of tape that was used by the record label to seal Public Image Ltd's “Metal Box,” either given to me by my then-friend Keith Levene, or possibly swiped from the Virgin Records office, where I might have used his name to blag promo stuff.
Super cute 60's style guide! Must have been a gift from mom.
Flyer from one of the nights I was a warm up DJ at the Limelight. What's interesting about this is that it’s for a guy called Barnsley who was a total character, and face around town in the 80s. He’s actually the one who created Stussy’s double “S” logo, a spin on Chanel, and was one of the very first logo jams! Also, the two DJ’s on the flyer are Tim Simeon, aka Bomb The Bass, & Nelly DJ, who was Nelly Hooper, one of the two main creatives behind Soul II Soul. I remember shitting myself playing records while they smoked weed and chatted behind me. That was also the first night I heard Trouble Funk, as Tim was dropping these sick DC Go-go imports.
My first job out of school at 16 was working for a photographer whose specialty was photographing art works for galleries, museums and print. This is a photo of an incredible Allan Jones painting that I must have either asked her for, or just nicked. I doubt I even knew who Allan Jones was but there was something about this image I must have found attractive ;)
Years later my flatmate, and very talented friend, Barry Jones gave me a Generation X flyer he’d designed, reappropriating Allan Jones art.
Just weird cool stuff found in a drawer, including dice-petrol lighter, heavy brass thumb-tacks, folding ruler, smiling-banana patch & a Johnny Thunders “Chinese Rocks” badge.
Couple of passport pics taken during that Chinese Rocks badge wearing phase.
Two of my fave local artists both had work up on (legal) walls this week. BÄST in the opening group show, for the newly launched Allouche Gallery in Soho, & SUCKLORD had his own little solo thing at Extra Butter on Orchard St in the LES.
Both shows worth checking out & both artists are featured in Star Warps!
This show has two exclusives! The first comes in the form of a just finished track by producer Norik, and the second is the first BLURRINGradio exclusive mixtape from Spanish techno weirdoes Downlines Sekt.
For those who like electronic music on the dark, weird, and
experimental side will love this 50 minute eclectic sonic collage.
Before that, you'll hear tracks, from Spoon's new album, Woz, Fischerspooner, Darkside, Still Corners, Phon.o. Then enjoy the Downlines Sekt's 50 minutes of cool, sonic weirdness!
Tim Strazza, who I met when he worked for the Joshua Liner Gallery, curated this small but tight text based show. I'd become friends Greg Lamarche, and Max Rippon (aka SP1 & RIPO), two of the three artists included in this show, while working on my sticker history book. Greg, as SP1 is a Graffiti legend, & back in the day also made wicked postal stickers. RIPO was included in the book for sticking up beautiful painted shards of broken mirror. Def worth checking out the show at No Romance Galleries
Photos in order, Rippon, Lamarche & Jurne.
Pulling in favors at the 11th hour, I managed to get Ned & I on the list for this completely sold-out final show!
While the show I saw in Miami back in December was amazing, both visually & sonically, this was a whole other level. Darkside had developed greatly.
The lighting was still super minimal compared to the normal electronic and rock-type shows. In December they had a single white light behind the pair of them, but at this show there were two. They also added a color, plus a bank what seemed like industrial floodlights, that literally made your eyes feel like they were being cooked at times.
It’s so hard to tell how much of their sets are improvised, but musically the songs were seriously embellished & often chunkier/fuller than on the record.
I know it’s never done, but I’d love to see Jaar and Harrington re-record the whole album, including the A1 first single.
As much as I sincerely love Psychic, I feel like it would be better recorded now having toured it for 9 months. And if anyone likes to go against the grain of the music biz, its Nicolas Jaar.
The crowd was a painful mix of the uber-hip (mostly drunk), druggy models & what we were told were all ex-Brown college friends of the pair.
Even with that against us, we had an amazing time.
The Brooklyn Masonic Temple itself added to the wonder of the show, a beautiful example of Greek Revival architecture, built in 1906, & now possibly my favorite venue in NYC.
I’ve never read anything to this effect, but I feel that the whole project could be some sort of tongue-in-cheek tribute to Pink Floyd.
There are times when I swear I hear Dave Gilmore-type guitar licks being played by Harrington…and then, of course, there's the name ;)