I’ve been on tour all over Europe for the last six weeks (with my bands Chen Santa Maria and Common Eider, King Eider) and it’s been an eye-opening experience. Lots of ups and downs, but I was thoroughly inspired by a few people I met that managed to set up shows, run record labels, play music and do their own designs and silk screening.
Elaborate origami sleeve
Did you know there was a noise scene in Milan? Neither did I, but it all seems to be based around this hub of Hundebiss, a label, distro, and venue that specializes in esoteric and experimental acts. Some of their beautifully printed and designed fold out packaging has been done in the service of American weirdos like Hair Police, Mudboy, and Aaron Dilloway. It’s also German for “dogbite” and has a German Shepherd logo. Simone was out of town Barbara and crew were a delight and amazing hosts.
I could only find a Gigposters site for Johann from Laser Poodle. He makes a lot of amazing posters for OCCII in Amsterdam, including this one from a show we played with Wolf Eyes:
Johann's OCCII poster
We ended up playing with Laser Poodle and Moemlien and Eva Rodbro‘s films at this amazing venue/bookstore/printing facility called Extrapool in Nijmegen. I still don’t understand Knust stencilprinting, but the colors pop out and never quite dry and I got to look at the machines in their amazing store filled with consignment records, zines, shirts, and DVDs. They also print their own wallpaper panels and each floor and bathroom has a crazy design, and there’s an elaborate color ribbon wrap going up the spiral staircase. Plus we had an amazing meal – home cooking from a professional chef!
Eva’s short films document teenage life in a way that is voyeuristic but contains poetic moments, foregoing any kind of narration. I don’t know if they are part of an ongoing series, but back-to-back they make for an interesting mix. I imagine how she ingratiated herself into these Texas kids’ lives and how they must’ve enjoyed being the subject of a film, but she includes a lot of cuts where the subject is suddenly aware that they’re on camera and become extremely self-conscious. There are some arresting moments in the photobook that accompanies her Greenland trip, Fuck You Kiss Me, some of which will freak out animal rights people.
Back to record nerding – the good people of Ghent are blessed with the events and art produced by Levi and Wouter’s Smeraldina-Rima record label. We met Wouter on the day he completed an intern program in arts education, so the chances of even crazier Belgian graphics in coming generations are pretty good with this guy warping young minds (apparently even Denis Tyfus lectured at the art school in town).
Wouter’s drawing style totally blows me away, I think I’d seen his stuff in RUIS before and thought they were weird 1800s illustrations gone terribly awry and surreal. Check out this cover artwork from their pervious label audioMER for this Mauro Antonio Pawlowski record that Wouter drew and Levi designed and printed. The new releases are from Panicsville, Nate Wooley, and a collaboration with Talibam! and Peeesseye.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Bill Kouligas’ Pan label. Based in Berlin, Kouligas records his own project Family Battle Snake and has a series of LPs that have screenprinted outer plastic sleeves, creating graphic combinations like this Joseph Hammer cover art:
Joseph Hammer - I Love You, Please Love Me Too LP
I’m also bringing a handful of these records back to the States to help distribute. Oh yes, there was other music as well, but one thing at a time. I’m going to try and include some of my findings in the next podcast I do, which you can find here.
I’m going to try and hit the Bongout gallery while I’m in Berlin and report back! Gregory and I were able to check out this Michael Snow video/sculpture with four screens of projected piano, and I’m going with Lart to see this Olafur Eliasson show.