Sunday, October 15, 2017

CONSUMING DEATH

Published on the occasion of a show of his work at the Stellan Holm Gallery, ANDY WARHOL 5 DEATHS takes a single tragic image from his “Death and Disaster” series and banishes the existential terror through repetition and color. Or does he? These paintings from 1963 are encountered in the wake of finitude, and retain the power to disturb, even suggesting the frailty of life through faulty inking and registration. Later works like the Electric Chairs,  Skulls,  and  Shadows renew this dread,  but with not quite the same power. The question as to whether one can ward off death by consuming it is never answered,  but all in all this is Warhol at his best. Contained in this slim volume is an  interview
 with Warhol by assistant Gerard Malanga,  as well as a conversation between Malanga and Jeff Koons. 


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

COVER: NITZER EBB 2, 3, 4

Nitzer Ebb’s three essential records are BELIEF (1989),  SHOWTIME (1990),  and EBBHEAD (1991), with the band’s tense, minimalistic EBM best heard on the first two mentioned here. Their formula  was harrowingly terse,  with powerfully clean electronic sounds coupled with menacing, authoritative chants and topical references. The graphic design nicely echoed this approach. EBBHEAD is a bit more structurally elaborate, as is evidenced in its faux Gilbert and George cover art. Still a worthy listen,  especially while driving.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

THIS IS HOW WE DEFORM: Buchla 252e


The Buchla 252e Polyphonic Rhythm Generator seems to have been the last major design overseen by Don Buchla before his death in 2016.  After the series of problems surrounding the re-released Music Easel it's a miracle that this complex wonder has seen the light of day,  and gotten into the hands of modular synthesis enthusiasts. It's essentially a multi-layered sequencer that allows CV output and editing, display layer selection, clock assignment and synchronization, cell selection, and pulse editing/selection.  Tutorial and hands in the mix:  w/o vertices.