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K is for Kranky

Saturday, June 5th, 2010
I used to spend time in the music library at KAOS Radio at Evergreen University in Olympia Washington. My roommate had a show entitled Sad Songs and Waltzes, yes named after the song by Cake, and yes, Cake is completely awesome. I would spend all my time during his 3 hour show pulling CDs from the experimental section at KAOS. I would sit at their CD player in the library with a pair of headphones and just close my eyes and diligently listen. It was through this process that I discovered all sorts of lovely and difficult music. But there was something always very palette cleansing about the Kranky releases. Not that their releases weren’t equally challenging at times, but challenging me to breathe slower and listen deeply. There is a continuity in the catalog of Kranky that is expertly illustrated in the playlist they provided us for this feature. The music is diverse, yet it fits and flows together like a delicately curated mixtape.

I decided to look Kranky up on Wikipedia. Instead of me giving you some sort of mixed-metaphor hyperbole about the label, I felt that the directness and sincerity of the Wikipedia description was very appropriate for the music on the label. Wikipedia has this to say:

“Kranky is an independent record label, located in Chicago, Illinois. It was started in 1993 by Bruce Adams and Joel Leoschke. The bands it houses are noted for combining experimental and often electronic influences with elementsof more traditional rock structures, and many of the artists on Kranky are inspired by or revolve around ambient music.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks crowdsourcing. So stop, breathe more slowly and listen more deeply.


1. Disappears “Gone Completely” from LUX

2. Stars Of The Lid “Requiem for Dying Mothers, Part 2” from The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid

3. Ken Camden “Raagini Robot” from Lethargy & Repurcussion

4. Tim Hecker “Sea of Pulses” from An Imaginary Country

5. Deerhunter “Like New” from Fluorescent Grey EP

6. Jonas Reinhardt “Near A Mirrored Pit Viper” from Powers Of Audition

7. Loscil “Lake Orchard” from Endless Falls

8. Benoit Pioulard “Idyll” from Temper

J is for Joyful Noise Recordings

Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Joyful Noise is a sister label to Sounds Are Active, who is a sister label to Asthmatic Kitty. So that makes us sisters once-removed I think. I think that might be a sorority term. We are also neighbors, Joyful Noise is an Indianapolis based label and has made strides to not only keep the scene active, but pressing boundaries. We have to confess there is a tinge of guilt when speaking about Joyful Noise. We stole an artist from them. If it weren’t for Joyful Noise we would not have Jookabox. But then we also take pride in the fact we have sent one or two artists there way. So the score is even. We asked the artist in question to chime in on the matter, Moose?
“Karl. Karl Hofstetter. What a babe. Dreamy eyes. I think I first became aware of Karl Hofstetter in his long hair days. I probably saw his band Melk the g6-49 at Smedley’s Festivilla venue and had no idea what was going on. I probably plugged my ears. Karl’s Joyful Noise label started as an imprint to release loud, violent, heavy, chaotic, and atmospheric instrumental albums by Melk. The next thing I remember about Karl is seeing his other band Abner Trio play. Here was a band my young rock brain understood. There were words! Karl is a skilled and very tasteful drummer. I sent Karl a cd of some music and asked if he would put it out. He said no, my music didn’t really fit with his vision for the label, but he had listened to it more than once, which was rare. What a dick. In recent years, his label has expanded to include a wide range of musical styles, but continues to put out quality instrumental and heavy albums. I think quality is Karl’s main concern and main criteria. His standards have built his label into something that Indianapolis is proud of. I don’t really want to know what it takes to keep an independent label with such high standards going. Oh wait, I do know, love!”
- Moose Adamson of Jookabox


1. Hi Red Center “Symmetry Chameleon” from Assemble

2. Grampall Jookabox “Rusty Wife” from Scientific Cricket

3. Berry “Out” from Blue Sky, Raging Sun

4. Child Bite “Odd Inn” from The Living Breathing Organ Summer

5. Prizzy Prizzy Please “Lost” from Chroma Cannon

6. I Love You “The Colloquialism Is Simply “Gas”" from Bell Ord Forrest

7. Marmoset “Strawberry Shortcakes” from Tea Tornado

8. Push-Pull “Wright, Right?” from Between Noise and the Indians

9. Valina “Phantom Of My Longest Day” from A Tempo! A Tempo!

10. Abner Trio “You’re Gorgeous, Believe It!” from The Giant Crushes You

11. The Delicious “Something” from It Happened Here Comp

12. Hermit Thrushes “Snowflake Heart” from Slight Fountain

13. Bizzart “Changing Stars” from Future Stars & Small Wonders

14. Stationary Odyssey “Rib Letters” from Sons of Boy

15. C.J. Boyd “We Know Time (Excerpt)” from Aerial Roots

16. Man At Arms “Telescope” from A Waste of Time and Space

17. Melk the G6-49 “The Instantaneous…” from Glossolalia

Do as I Do

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Samuel proves his worth and shows us, and the kings Saul and Agag, the great lengths to which he is willing to go in order to ensure that he is indeed a doer and not a hearer only.

DAVID SANKEY graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from The College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State) in the Spring of 2008. He is getting used to splitting his time between north and central New Jersey. He enjoys art making of all kinds. He is a founding member of and frequent contributor to The Fir Coat. For more of his work, visit www.davidsankey.net

Great Depression Part II Tip: Make Your Own Clothesline

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

There are not many thing I find more relaxing than watching a clothesline blow in the breeze. Yesterday I set up my own. Four bucks for the line and five for 40 pins at Home Depot. I tied two lines, spaced a foot apart, between the cattle fence and some esoteric white metal clip running along my roofline, then tied the two together at one end to raise the lower line and keep it from dipping. ‘Bout 3pm a hot breeze came in from the south and I sat back in my Adirondack chair with a jug of crappy wine and mellowed out.

Last time I did laundry I went to the warzone of a laundromat up on 7th. It was $1.75 to wash a tiny load, $2 for soap, and about a buck fifty to dry each load. End result was I washed nothing for a ton of money and my stuff came out smelling like hotel sheets. Nowadays I’m washing my own in the bathtub (with shampoo, because it smells great) for whatever four inches of water costs (not a whole lot I’m guessing because my water bill is $20 for three people and a lot of animals monthly.) On good warm days like we’re having they dry in an hour plus change and come out smelling great. Especially jeans. Jeans love a clothesline. Just make sure you hang your jeans high, because heavy denim will sag just about any clothesline.

So, yeah, this was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done but as simple as it is it’s saved me tons of money, improved the view out my bedroom/solarium, and kept me away from the warzone laundromat. Those are all great things in my book. Try it out if you’ve got the space…

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com

Decomposers of the Art World (Part One: Clothing Repurposed)

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I have contemplated trash many times before. In fact, it’s been a major sticking point for me since youth… since learning about the mass of it… the danger of it… the bulk. The non-human side of nature treats waste and decay so elegantly compared to clumsy man-made chemicals and plastic detritus that does not break itself down. Nature outside of man’s control reduces, reuses and recycles as a matter of course. Just think of the function of decomposing flies and worms and fungus as they turn dead flesh into vibrantly fertile organic matter.

In light of these tiny, tireless, indispensable workers, I thought it would be satisfying to highlight some human artists who have reused used things in particularly poetic ways, injecting them with new meaning, giving them a fresh life in the arena of the mind. This first article is devoted to artists who have reinvigorated used clothing.

Shannon Eakins cozies up to used sweaters donated by Goodwill Industries for an exhibition at the Tacoma Art Museum.

Robert Fontenot is midway into the project “Recycle LACMA.”   In his words:

On January 14th, 2009 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced that it was deaccessioning more than 100 items from its costumes and textiles collection. Once carefully collected, catalogued, and cared for, these items have now been cast back out in to the world. What will happen to them? Like any other useless item, they will need to be recycled or disposed of.

Recycle LACMA is a project of Los Angeles-based artist Robert Fontenot. At three separate auctions he purchased over 50 items deaccessioned by LACMA and is now trying to find new uses for these otherwise unwanted items.

The result of this ambitious project is bittersweet. If the original object was especially beautiful, it seems to demand a respectful reuse. But it was all destined to be disseminated and likely trashed… so isn’t any reuse better than a thoughtless demise?

Korean Coat (2nd reuse) from Recycle LACMA

And then there’s Nick Cave. Ah! Nick Cave. Not the musician, but the sculptor, who makes costume-totem-figures that can be worn by dancers. I like what this blogger has to say:

The Soundsuits are multimedia pieces made from items Cave has scavenged from flea markets, thrift stores, and garage sales over the past two decades [...] One of Cave’s philosophies is that his creations have been works in progress for centuries since all of the materials have been made by other people from other times and other places. He wants to showcase all of the craftsmanship of these unknown people together in a new, artistic, and functional garment. I love that.

Me too.

Nick Cave Soundsuit

Christian Boltanski made used clothes into spirit-holders, while Michelangelo Pistoletto piled them up for a bewildered nude. Shannon Eakins (pictured above) and Marc Dombrosky warmed up a courtyard in Tacoma, Washington.

My final example is from the brutally beautiful painter Anselm Kiefer. “Die Welle (Wave)” hangs at the Seattle Art Museum– a massive painting– earthy, encrusted, with cotton dresses of various sizes hovering over the surface. There are no good images of it online that I can find, and it’s just as well; most art is compromised by reproduction somewhat, but a pixel-made version of a piece with such tactile urgency and indefinable presence is useless. For reasons I may never understand, the painting moved me to tears when I first saw it in person. It makes me wonder at Kiefer’s own description of his goals:

“I don’t consider myself a Platonist but I think that the spirit is contained in the material and it is the artist’s mission to extract it.”


Gala Bent is a mother-artist-teacher living in Seattle who enjoys, among other things, this thought: between thesis and antithesis arcs the ever-loving synthesis. www.galabent.com


Sunday, April 18th, 2010

It should be mentioned that much credit is due the dedicated, passionate folks at the IMPOSSIBLE project (further info at http://theimpossibleproject.com) for their recent introduction of the highly modifiable PX100 Silver Shade instant film.

Now, please enjoy one humble enthusiast’s oh-so-slight and ever-so-subtle coaxing along of a pair of photographs which hardly needed an ounce of help to find their truest hues.

A bit of blending. Some smoothing here, a stitch or two there, a cold compress applied… nothing, really.

DAVID SANKEY graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from The College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State) in the Spring of 2008. He is getting used to splitting his time between north and central New Jersey. He enjoys art making of all kinds. He is a founding member of and frequent contributor to The Fir Coat. For more of his work, visit www.davidsankey.net

Interview: Flowerdrum Bags

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Rina  Matsui-Houghton is a Malaysian-born, Berlin-based handbag designer who focuses on creating beautiful handcrafted bags of unique distinction.

I met Rina a few years ago and was immediately blown away by her drive and passion for creating awesome bags and mini carry-alls, made from vintage fabrics.

Back in 1999 Rina felt that “Malaysia was ready for a unique label with underground roots and the design-ability to be sold internationally.” She started creating hand-embroidered affordable bags, and clutches for the fashion savvy consumer.

The company named Flowerdrum bags (www.flowerdrum-kl.com) was born, and now produces lines in batches of 12. Bags are created using quality fabric from all over the world; they aren’t mass produced, they’re fresh, different and  sport stand apart, clean-cut designs, a must have for any fashionista!

More recently Rina has been focusing on commissioned work, branching out to create custom-made items for her clients. Last year in Malaysia she took part in her first exhibit of embroideries and fabric collages, entitled 6 Words: Embroidered Stories. I caught up with Rina for an interview to find out more about her interesting grass roots company.

LQ: Where did the name for your bag company come from?

RMH: Unglamorously cribbed the name from a Flowerdrum Song poster at a local theatre!

LQ: Where do you find your vintage prints for the bags?

RMH: As a natural hoarder and digger, I started out with a fair collection of vintage fabrics from my childhood (curtains, mum’s dresses) which I supplement with pieces I find on my travels at markets, etc. There are also a couple of fabric shops in Malaysia that I have been going to for years, the sort of shops where stock hasn’t been updated since the ’60s!

LQ: When did you first start making embroidery projects?

RMH: Started a couple of years ago, to explore but also as thank you gifts for friends who have supported me on my bag endeavours for the last decade.

LQ: Suhana Dewi Selamat’s 6-word memoirs influenced your work for the embroidered stories project. What was it about the memoirs that struck you?

RMH: As a lover of words and the English language, I was struck first and foremost by the brutal honesty of her 6-word essays. How they were food for thought in their simplicity. I like my words on point and how much more “on point” could you be than 6-word essays!

LQ: What do you like most about your job?

RMH: Being the boss of my own time, the flexibility to travel/take time off, the independence of only being able to blame myself for cock ups!

LQ: What do you have in store at Flowerdrum Bags for this year?

RMH: Flowerdrum Bags works in mysterious organic ways! Along with the usual desire to push the label to boutiques in foreign shores, I am hoping to work on a new embroidery project. New bags will be up soon for spring/summer and I plan to drive more traffic to the web-shop. I’ll also continue my crusade to get more people to understand and appreciate VINTAGE fabrics!

Leanda is a writer based in Toronto. For the past 13 years she has hosted & produced music radio shows, managed bands & worked in online music PR. She now runs a music site & also writes for music & culture magazine `Relevant BCN`. Read more of her writing here - http://www.bloggertronix.com