Why artists shouldn’t stick to art

Salvador-Dali-NYWTS-1965-Roger-Higgins-public-domain-via-wikipedia

Written for Collapse Board

Everett True reckons that Artists Should Stick To Art instead of making mixtapes of obvious dad rock. If mixtapes made by artists are so disappointing in real life, I think we should invent some fantasy selections.

For example: 

SALVADOR DALI

The Beatles – ‘I Am The Walrus’

Yes, obvious, I know – but has there been a more perfect example of psychedelic pop? It has that mix of accessibility, oddness and substance that I associate with Dali’s work.

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Knifeworld – ‘Clairvoyant Fortnight’

Kavus from Cardiacs returns to his Monsoon Bassoon roots with this frankly bizarre track with an earworm of a chorus. I’d call it an acquired taste (which I’ve since acquired – really, I do love them now!), but Monsoon Bassoon did get NME‘s Single of the Week three times in a row, so maybe I’m the weird one here.

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Thinking Plague – ‘Behold The Man’

This was the first track I heard by the legendary progsters and it was one of those stop-what-you’re-doing-and-buy-it-instantly moments. Apparently their style is called Rock In Opposition, but any time anyone says ‘RIO’ to me I want to dance around to Duran Duran. You just need to know that it’s not the elves-and-unicorns type of prog, but the heavier more jazz-influenced stuff. Dali pictures could look as much like nightmares as like dreams, and I think this reflects that.

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Levitation – ‘Smile’

By contrast, this is the gentler, more melancholic side.

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Karda Estra – ‘Red Room’

Kavus Torabi (Knifeworld, etc) co-hosts a radio show and picked out Karda Estra on the first show I heard. It was one of those moments where you half-hear the name of the band and then spend ages trying to track down information about the band and trying to figure out which specific song you fell in love with. I think Dali would have loved them.

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KOZYNDAN

The whimsical, playful art of Kozyndan requires something cute but not sickly; slightly off-kilter and trend-aware. Of course, I could cheat here – their website lists their favourite acts – but I’m going to throw in a few suggestions of my own.

She & Him – ‘In The Sun’

Self-explanatory, although I’m not sure if the Zooey ship has sailed from sheer oversaturation.

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Lykke Li – ‘The Only’

There’s something very primal about the percussion on Lykke Li’s music which fits in well with Kozyndan’s nature-inspired work.

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The Shins – ‘Simple Song’

Yes, I am nicking that from Lucy Cage and no, it’s not a Wes Anderson movie.

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Grimes – ‘Vanessa’

More the sort of thing that Dan and Kozy would actually like, this is one Grimes video that I haven’t seen a thousand gazillion times yet – and it’s rather good.

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Glasser – ‘Treasury Of We’

Cameron Mesirow’s glacial electropop doesn’t just follow in the much-trodden Bjork/Danielle Dax footsteps but carves a niche for itself as a kind of experiment in layers and textures. The cascade of vocal samples fits nicely with the swells of Kozyndan’s aquatic-themed prints such as ‘Uprising’.

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ZDZISLAW BEKSINSKI

Inspired by music, Beksinski‘s dark, gothic paintings evoke apocalyptic doom (though not necessarily metal). The Polish painter, sculptor and photographer deflected interpretations of what his works ‘meant’, saying, “I cannot conceive of a sensible statement on painting”.

Tool – ‘Sober’

I remember crawling out of my tent half-awake at midday, yesterday’s alcohol searing through my head, and being faced by a strange man in a babygro spelling out our doom in sulking, accusatory tones. His hair was ridiculous. They were mis-billed as “Cool”, which just made the whole thing more surreal. The show was incredible.

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Rammstein – ‘Sonne’

The thunking riffs are suitably portentous, but the amusing video would have tickled Beksinski’s reportedly excellent sense of humour.

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Metallica – ‘The Thing That Should Not Be’

I’m obviously referring to the fantasy elements of his work here. Ah, when Metallica were good. I can still play this eight or nine times in a row without tiring of it, and the fan-made video is wonderful (clips from 2005 film Call of Cthulhu).

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Necessary – ‘Insisting On Racial Namecalling’

I want you to stop now, head on over to the Weltschmertz Industries website and download Necessary’s awe-inspiring double album for free. I’ll wait. It’s broadly electronica, but of the deepest, darkest, heaviest variety. Their drummer played for Prong, Godflesh and Swans, which should give some indication of how rib-shatteringly nasty it sounds. I really wish I’d heard this before compiling my best-of-the-year-so-far list.

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Front Line Assembly – ‘Prophecy’

FLA’s dirgy breakbeat hits just the right gloomy note, even if my memories of this particular track are mostly of pleasant summer barbecues listening to it on my friend’s portable stereo.

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Amebix – ‘Here Come The Wolf’

War, death and destruction is a recurring theme in Beksinski’s work so I think this Killing Joke-inspired track from Sonic Mass would be an ideal mixtape closer.

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MC ESCHER

Maurits Cornelius Escher created the impossible, inspired by mathematics – but we should bear in mind the warmth, surrealism and accessibility of his angular drawings.

Battles – ‘Ddiamondd’

This was the very first thing that sprang to mind, from Battles’ first album.

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Steve Reich – ‘Piano Phase’

The way the sounds bleed into one another to form something else is a typically Escher idea.

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Eric Plourde – ‘Signals (2012)’

The same mix of variation and repetition make this a candidate for inclusion.

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La Mar Enfortuna – ‘Pali Mou Kanis To Vari’

Like one of Escher’s pictures, it starts off as one thing and ends up as something completely different. Apparently, this is completely unlistenable if you’re Greek.

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MARK ROTHKO

Big, fuzzy blocks of colour.

My Bloody Valentine – ‘Only Shallow’

Am I the only one who didn’t buy the remastered Loveless after streaming it? The remasters clarify what should remain hazy, stripping it of the essential mystery that makes it so moreish. It’s the feeling of something undeniably solid but only just out of reach, like a ghost of a pop song.

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Tashaki Miyaki – ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings’

This cover of the Father John Misty song is one of my favourite songs this year. Again, it pulls off being robustly sensual but fuzzy round the edges. There’s a free download at the Bandcamp page.

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Loop – ‘Arc Lite’

The droning, repetitiveness and angular riffs to me suggests the unending square blocks of Rothko’s most famous period.

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Nine Inch Nails – ‘A Warm Place’

OK, so a bit of a cheat given the abstract sleeve art for the Low-era-Bowie-inspired Downward Spiral, but it does fit. The two sections of the track suggest the multiple blocks in a typical Rothko painting.

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