Things We Like: Slowdive, “Slowdive”

Slowdive’s self-titled “comeback” record was floating around my Spotify playlists last year and it was a nice little reminder of a band I enjoyed in my earlier years. While they weren’t my favorite shoegaze band way back when – that honor goes to Lush – they were a reliable go-to for some solid atmospheric guitar tunes

But the couple of songs I heard nearly 25 years later wouldn’t leave my head. Select melodies drifted back and forth and I kept coming back for more. A taste here, a taste there. The songs were good, but I had no idea how irresistibly good until I let the whole album run through – at full blast. Then I finally got a copy. It’s barely left the turntable since.

Woozy and atmospheric, tranquil and sometimes rocking, Slowdive is perfect for these long, damp, gray winter days that seem to have settled in. All the sounds – angelic vocals and chiming guitars among them – congeal in a beautiful haze that’s hard to navigate. It doesn’t really matter, though, for the melodies, textures, and pure emotion are enough to push you through. Besides, sometimes it’s best to just surrender and let the sounds wash over. You know, just numb out and stare at the sky for a while.

Again, they weren’t at the top of my list, but Slowdive could seriously put them over the top in a retroactive best-of. Why? Because the record continues to deliver song after song, time after time. And it definitely gets better with age. As with most great records, there are certain moments that jump out immediately, while other more elusive sounds don’t reveal themselves until that fifth, sixth, seventh listen – when you really start digging in. Slowdive is teeming with these tiny little jewels and you’ll be rewarded handsomely for taking the taking time to settle in and discover them.

Anyway, give me a nudge in April to see if any other record has replaced this slab of excellence on our turntable. At this point, I’m not confident anything possibly could. 

Spinning Yarns

My mini electric eel wheel has allowed me to explore spinning up yarns this year. With a variety of fibers, I’ve been able to explore very fine barber pole yarns to chain-plied long run color transitions.

Things We Like: Keluar, “Panguna”

On Panguna, Keluar deliver an inspired combination of the exotic exuberance of 80’s synth-pop and classic, hard-edged EBM. But unlike many of the recent retro-electro throwbacks, this one sounds exotic, somewhat mysterious, a little bit dangerous, and – dare I say – fun. 

Keluar manages to capture the mysterious, globe-trotting themes of so many 80’s synth-pop hits. Here, I’m thinking specifically of Duran Duran. The tracks carry the torch of classics like ““Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf” or “Wild Boys” to foreign lands and destinations unknown. And the lyrics pair nicely with the sultry, emotive delivery of vocalist Zoe Zanias.

But where the choruses on those 80’s hits can veer straight into middle-of-the-road, crowd-pleasing purgatory, Keluar instead ground the songs securely in the darker BPMs of classic electronic body music like Front 242 or BiGod 20. Really, the tracks on Panguna could best be summed up as “Wild Boys” meets “Headhunter” meets “The Bog”. Darker Duran Duran or lighter Front 242. No other description necessary, really.     

Even as a fan of so much new music these days, rarely does a track excite and surprise as much as the title track. Everything here is interesting, complex, fresh and mysterious. When I put this on, I’m reminded of that rush of excitement you’d get when the DJ would put on an epic synth 12” to crush the dancefloor. One of those rare tracks that would get everyone moving, not just the electroheads.  

An added bonus, here, is the addition of a Hacker remix of the title track. It’s an outright banger that delivers by smoothing things out with a roiling synth line and taut, crisp beats that crack like whip.

They tried to tame you, looks like they’ll try again.

Prints: New. Improved.

kurt_seidle_xed_7Some prints get wrecked in the printing process. It makes sense that hand-printed works are more susceptible to flaws than mechanically printed ones, but knowing that still doesn’t make it any easier to take. Inconsistencies – whether it’s ink flow, a knick in the stencil, a fingerprint or smudge – can ruin a perfectly good print. It happens. It’s just part of the process. I know this, yet I still take the flaws pretty hard.

But I got tired of feeling this way and sought to do something about it. Rather than looking at flaws as a door closing, I decided to look at them as a window opening. By doing so, there’s an opportunity to add new ideas or, in this case, make corrections. I embraced the flaws and just canceled them out. Literally.

My first step was to unearth slightly less-than-perfect prints from the depths of purgatory (i.e. the neither-here-nor-there void of the flat file) and assess the damage. Next up was fixing them. That’s achieved here by masking the flaws with a big, blunt mark. Simple as that. Rather than just erasing the flaws, I chose to acknowledge and celebrate them.

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In some cases, crossing out the mistakes added to the composition. In others, it was just a means to an end. While making perfect compositions was certainly not the goal, there are some beautiful moments to behold.

There’s beauty in everything. Finding it is just a matter of perspective. Clearly my interest in signage, typography, and found objects influenced the direction, but, in retrospect, there are other references that come to mind, like the butterfly joint in a George Nakashima table or even the knots in a piece of plywood.

These days, it’s about accepting what comes your way. Taking each day as it arrives – with all the highs and lows – and making the best of it. That, in a sense, is what the Correction Series is all about.

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Pictured: “Untitled (Correction)” 2020, “Untitled (Correction)” 2020, “Untitled (Correction)” 2020, “Untitled (Correction)” 2020. 

Prints: Strange Days

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On March 29, Kurt printed a variation of an old design that had been sitting dormant and neglected, having never seen the light of day. Until now! It felt like a good way to start off 2020 and a much-needed bright spot during these otherwise unusual days. The edition features a randomized mix of colors in a tight edition of 19. All signed, dated, and numbered.

Things We Like: Bing & Ruth, “No Home of the Mind”

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Bing & Ruth, the project of New York-via-Kansas composer David Moore, delivers ambient compositions centered on piano; instrumental pieces that manifest themselves in sounds that coalesce and slowly swarm and overwhelm. Ethereal compositions like “Starwood Choker” wash over in waves, swelling into a near-droning white noise that leaves you disoriented and kind of numb. These moments mostly reach a point where you have no choice but to sit back, surrender and find solace in your own head. Yet in an instant, Moore can pull out the tide and leave you beached amid the white space of a spare composition like “To All It.” Either way, it’s a good place to be. The world around us can be needlessly loud, nagging and overbearing. Retreating into the embrace of something warm and calm and ambiguous is often necessary to simply carry on. Moore carves out the space and conditions perfect for contemplation, inviting you in to contribute your own thoughts and feelings.

For us, No Home of the Mind is the perfect soundtrack to a calm, cold, quiet winter walk in the woods. In my mind, the day is still and the sun has nearly set. It’s not yet twilight, but will be soon. The cold air numbs your face and it’s getting hard to see, but the scene is so peaceful that you can’t yet bear to break the spell. Interestingly, I’m reminded of the painting February by William Trost Richards, a work in the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. To my eyes, it perfectly captures the atmosphere of the album, for much like a moment connecting with nature, this is a soundtrack that revels in simplicity and beauty and rewards you for paying attention and just being there.

Prints: Untitled, 2019

kurt_seidle_untitled_2019This one turned out to be a total pain to print, but, in the end, was well worth the effort. Bright and vibrant in five colors on white. I was hoping for an edition of five or six, but due to my exacting – and slightly OCD – standards, I settled for variations of three.