August 19th: New Understanding Through Subtle Details with Deerhunter, Jesse Miller Gordon and HEALTH
Welcome to The Sligo Punch. As always, the origin story can be found here.
Curated by Tim Nelson
I’m writing this as I fly back from a weeklong trip to San Francisco and the Bay Area. I’d never visited before. Whether it was the act of exploring a new environment, reconnecting with old friends or merely taking a few days off of work, I’m leaving feeling creatively charged up in a way that is hard to come by in the routines of daily life. I think it might have something to do with the usual blend between the familiar and the foreign that comes from exploring a new American city. There’s no language barrier and the general culture is similar enough, but there are little idiosyncrasies that expand our horizons and cause us to reinterpret our own assumptions about the world around us. It’s a notion that’s probably familiar to anyone who has traveled, but I don’t get out that much so you’ll have to bear with me.
With that said, the loose goal of this week’s Sligo Punch is to examine how the subtle incorporation of new ideas can broaden or deepen the experience of what we thought we knew.
Listen to This: Deerhunter — “Snakeskin”
Bradford Cox is prolifically creative to the point that it was surprising tonothear any new music from him in 2014 (either as the brains behind Deerhunter or through his side project Atlas Sound). His work with Deerhunter over the better part of the past decade is all about incremental creative shifts, grounding each album in a familiar context while offering enough new ideas and textures to challenge expectations. That’s an artistic ethos that’s captured perfectly by “Snakeskin”, the first song released from the upcoming Deerhunter album Fading Frontier (out 10/16 on 4AD).
Deerhunter -undoubtedly one of my favorite bands of the past decade- is funkier here than they’ve ever been. This unexpected change of direction was jarring at first, but by the time the chord changes in the “chorus” kicked in, I felt like I was back on familiar footing, especially as Cox’s distant cooing worked its way into the mix on the second listen. The song’s back half layers the kind of psychedelia that the band introduced on Cryptogram , offering us a perfect blend of old and new. An album title like Fading Frontier implies some sort of movement or the disappearance of some horizon. After hearing “Snakeskin”, it’s possible that Deerhunter as a collective are looking back over their shoulder or moving further into new territory on this new album. Regardless, I trust Bradford Cox to to lead the way.
Read This: On Foamposites and Futurism by Jesse Miller-Gordon
Fashion, especially as it relates to footwear, has always been a tradeoff between form and function. For everyone who swears by a trusty pair of shoes that they’ll buy only out of necessity, there’s someone willing to camp out overnight to get the Yeezy Boosts or the latest limited edition Nike Dunks. But many of us are probably familiar with the feeling we get when we see an item of clothing that we immediately have to have, even if we can’t articulate it. The same is very much true of our experiences in the world of art. We can’t necessarily explain what it is that makes us gravitate towards a piece of art until we start to learn more about an artist or their place within a broader movement.
Jessie Miller-Gordon (vocalist for the band Sick Feeling who happens to excel at writing on the side) uses the idea of aesthetic and the concept of commercial “value” as a jumping off point to explore the relationship between high-end footwear and Futurism, an early 20th century artistic movement that deified industrial progress. In addition to both being rare, coveted objects, a piece of futurist art like Boccioni’s “Birds in Space” and Nike’s Foamposite shoe are similar in that they are objects of the past that were once used to store ideas about the future. As with all forms of art or fashion, that source of value nebulous concept. But JMG does a good job of exploring the philosophical connection between Nike and an artistic manifesto that formed the basis for Italian fascism at a time when the lines between art, streetwear and commerce are blurrier than ever.
Watch This: HEALTH — “Stonefist”
You thought this was about subtlety? FUCK THAT. With their video for Death Magic track “Stonefist,” HEALTH eradicate the very concept of subtlety. Mixing heavy strobe lighting over performance footage and graphic imagery of plastic surgery that yields grotesque results, it’s a fitting concept for a band who take such an abrasive approach to the creation of “pop” music. In the process, this over-the-top video examines and exposes some of the more subtle machinations by which pop stars are created. This examination of the starmaking process is hardly new, but rarely has it been laid so bare. Come for one of the year’s best pop-leaning tracks, stay for footage of John Famiglietti looking like a panther.